FILE PHOTO: U.S. Marines help to build a concertina wire barricade at the U.S. Mexico border in preparation for the arrival of a caravan of migrants at the San Ysidro border crossing in San Diego, California, U.S., November 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo
April 24, 2019
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on Mexico to do more to block a new caravan of migrants and asylum-seekers traveling through the country toward the United States, reiterating his threat to close the border or send more troops.
“A very big Caravan of over 20,000 people started up through Mexico,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “It has been reduced in size by Mexico but is still coming. Mexico must apprehend the remainder or we will be forced to close that section of the Border & call up the Military.”
Trump said Mexico was not doing enough to apprehend and return migrants and, without offering evidence, said Mexican soldiers recently had “pulled guns” U.S. troops.
He said the incident probably was “a diversionary tactic for drug smugglers” and armed troops were being sent to the border.
Mexican officials could not be immediately reached for comment on Trump’s statement.
Trump has made cracking down on immigration a priority that fueled his 2016 presidential campaign and election victory. More than 100,000 people were apprehended or presented themselves to U.S. authorities in March, according to the White House, which said it was the highest number in a decade.
In response to what Trump has described as a crisis, his administration has sent thousands of active-duty and National Guard troops to the border and moved border agents to handle an influx of migrants. Last month, Trump threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border if the Mexican government did not immediately stem illegal migration.
When Congress declined to designate money to build a border wall, Trump declared a national emergency earlier this year over the issue in a bid to redirect funding for the project, thrusting the immigration issue to the forefront of the 2020 presidential race.
The head of Mexico’s National Migration Institute, Tonatiuh Guillen, on Tuesday pointed to an increase in deportations from the country, saying Mexico had returned 15,000 migrants in the past 30 days.
He did not specify where the people were deported to, but the majority of people traveling through Mexico to the United States are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where migrants say they are fleeing corruption, gang violence and entrenched poverty.
(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Susan Heavey and Bill Trott)
U.S. President Donald Trump attends the 2019 White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 22, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
April 24, 2019
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump is expected to tout his fight against opioid abuse in remarks in Atlanta on Wednesday, a day after his administration brought its first related criminal charges against a major drug distributor and company executives.
America’s opioid epidemic, especially damaging in rural areas where Trump is popular, has been a focus for the Republican president.
Little has come of Trump’s calls for executing drug dealers, but on other fronts the administration has taken some action. Trump has worked to boost funding for treatment and raise awareness of the problem.
On Tuesday, the government charged Rochester Drug Co-operative Inc and executives of the major drug distributor. The company agreed to pay $20 million and enter a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve charges it turned a blind eye to thousands of suspicious orders for opioids.
Deaths from opioid overdose in the United States jumped 17 percent in 2017 from a year earlier to more than 49,000 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl surged 45 percent in that time, according to the CDC.
Hundreds of lawsuits by state and local governments accuse drugmakers such as Purdue Pharma of deceptively marketing opioids, and distributors such as AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and McKesson Corp of ignoring that they were being diverted for improper uses.
Trump has said he convinced Chinese President Xi Jinping in a December meeting in Argentina to designate fentanyl as a controlled substance.
China last month listed all fentanyl-related substances as controlled narcotics after criticism from Trump, though its government blamed U.S. culture for abuse of the drug and said the amount of fentanyl going from China into the United States was “extremely limited.”
Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in October 2017. He plans to provide an update on his administration’s work on the issue at the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit, a White House spokesman said.
Trump has used the crisis to support his call for building a wall on the border with Mexico, saying it would help keep out drugs and curb the crisis.
Heroin from Mexico accounted for 86 percent of the heroin found on U.S. streets, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s most recent annual narcotic report. Heroin, unlike fentanyl, is derived from the seeds of the opium poppy plant.
Last week, U.S. health officials said they will spend $350 million in four states to study ways to best deal with the opioid crisis on the local level, with a goal of reducing opioid-related overdose deaths by 40 percent over three years in selected communities in those states.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and David Gregorio)
FILE PHOTO: The logos of Airbnb are displayed at an Airbnb event in Tokyo, Japan, June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato
April 24, 2019
By Jeffrey Dastin and Heather Somerville
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Hollywood has a new suitor in Silicon Valley.
Airbnb Inc, the high-flying startup for booking home rentals around the world, has ambitions to develop a slate of original shows to whet customers’ appetite for travel, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The strategy, previously unreported, is crucial for the company, which is privately valued at $31 billion and is gearing up for an initial public offering of stock expected next year. Airbnb must distinguish itself from Booking.com, Expedia and others in the fiercely competitive and consolidating travel industry, where apartment-renting services are increasingly common.
Chief Executive Brian Chesky is driving the idea, three of the people said, arguing that creative content is important for Airbnb’s brand even if the business case is not always clear.
“Brian wants to create a studio,” one of the people said. The mentality: “Let’s do shows. Let’s do films, because we want to be travel-everything.”
Chesky, who co-founded the company, “likes big splashy things,” another person said.
For at least three years, Airbnb has batted around ideas for creating or licensing mini-series and documentaries about travel, and shows featuring Airbnb homes, guests and hosts, one of the people said. It has discussed working with studios as well as starting its own.
(GRAPHIC: Airbnb in the spotlight – https://tmsnrt.rs/2IkarwX)
The company has worked on a television show slated for Apple Inc’s upcoming streaming service: “Home,” a docuseries featuring unique abodes around the world and the people behind them. One executive producer of the show is Joe Poulin, a company vice president who ran Luxury Retreats when Airbnb acquired the booking site in 2017.
Airbnb announced last week it had developed and produced the documentary “Gay Chorus Deep South,” which follows the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus on a tour across the Southeastern United States, and will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival next week. Airbnb told Reuters it provided funding for the project.
In an interview, Airbnb’s top policy and communications executive, Chris Lehane, said the company is considering streaming films and shows through its app as well as through other video platforms.
“We’re very much in the R&D phase here,” said Lehane. “It’s not just limited to video. It could be audible. It could be physical.”
“The more we put content out there, the more you’re going to bring people to the platform,” he said.
Original shows could also entice customers even before they have decided where to go on vacation and demystify Airbnb for travelers, including Wall Street investors, who have stuck to familiar hotel chains.
(Graphic on how Airbnb stacks up against its venture-backed peers: https://tmsnrt.rs/2IkarwX)
TECH INDUSTRY PLAYBOOK
Airbnb has yet to cement all the details related to its timeline, program financing or even lineup. Its work so far has ranged from the Tribeca documentary to a YouTube show about travel trends and other video marketing efforts.
Offering original content and other media is an increasingly popular strategy in Silicon Valley, where technology companies are desperate for deeper relationships with internet users and their lucrative data.
Apple last month unveiled a TV streaming service and joined a long list of companies attracted to Hollywood’s glitter, including Amazon.com Inc and even Walmart Inc. The big-box retailer had said it will partner with U.S. movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to make content for its video-on-demand service, Vudu.
Such bets are expensive, but often justified by executives for their marketing value. Airbnb said its network of half a billion travelers is drawing partners who wish to produce and finance content for the company.
Airbnb’s original magazine remains central to this effort. Published by media conglomerate Hearst since May 2017, the Airbnb Magazine will be a jumping off point for other content that the company develops. It is the darling of CEO Chesky, something the billionaire founder hopes will become a collector’s item like old print editions of “Rolling Stone,” Lehane said.
Films and streaming content would mark the next iteration of a business that has steadily expanded to get customers to use its app for more parts of their travel experience. Airbnb added restaurant reservations and said it would branch into transportation services, so customers remain in its orbit long after they have picked a place to stay.
The company even explored building its own flight-booking feature and acquiring travel fare aggregator Skyscanner before retreating from that idea, said another person with knowledge of the matter.
A key player in the video effort is Kim Kingsley, co-founder of news site Politico. Kingsley joined Airbnb last summer and is in charge of the firm’s content strategy, according to her LinkedIn profile. Meanwhile, Airbnb’s magazine lead, Ben Kasman, has helped grow the publication to more than a million readers.
Even by technology startups’ standards, Airbnb is not afraid to spend large sums on marketing. It hired Ready State, a high-end agency in San Francisco, whose employees flew to Europe to create videos for Airbnb. The firm was also hired to promote tours sold on Airbnb’s website, known as “Experiences,” even though many of those are cheap.
“It’s all part of the efforts to broaden the base,” said one person close to the company, “to make what they do more mainstream.”
(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin and Heather Somerville in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Kenneth Li; Editing by Greg Mitchell, Susan Thomas and Lisa Shumaker)
FILE PHOTO: An abortion rights activist holds up a sign as marchers take part in the 46th annual March for Life in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
April 24, 2019
(Reuters) – A federal judge in the U.S. state of Oregon will block a move by the Trump administration to cut off federal money to family planning clinics that offer abortion or refer women to abortion providers, activists and media reports said late on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump’s new Title X rule, set to take effect in May, would halt government funds for Planned Parenthood clinics that subsidize birth control for low-income women, and other clinics that provide abortions.
Critics say the plan is aimed at fulfilling Trump’s campaign pledge to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides abortions and other health services for women.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Medical Association, along with several other parties, sued in federal court in Oregon to halt the new rule.
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane said late on Tuesday that he will grant a preliminary injunction against the new federal restrictions, the Oregonian newspaper reported.
It was unclear when the ruling would be made formal and how wide-sweeping it would be.
The plaintiffs had sought a national injunction, but Judge McShane said he is reluctant to set national health care policy, the newspaper reported.
The U.S. Justice Department, which opposed the injunction in court, asked that it only apply to the plaintiffs in this case, the Oregonian said.
McShane said from the bench that the so-called “gag rule” would prevent doctors from doing their jobs, media reports said.
The U.S. Justice Department was not available for comment on Wednesday.
Congress provided $286 million in Title X grants in 2017 to Planned Parenthood and other health centers to provide birth control, screening for diseases and cancer, and other reproductive counseling to low-income women.
The funding cannot be used for abortions, but abortion opponents have long complained that the money subsidizes Planned Parenthood itself.
The American Medical Association applauded the proposed injunction.
“Judge McShane got it exactly right when he called the new Title X rule a ‘ham-fisted’ approach to health care,” AMA President Barbara McAneny said in a statement.
“The judge repeatedly asked how the new gag rule would improve health outcomes. The government was unable to answer,” she added.
Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called it a victory for patients and doctors.
But she added in a statement “this relief is preliminary and we will continue to fight the Trump-Pence administration in court and in Congress to ensure our patients’ health.”
Similar legal challenges are pending in other federal courts, including one brought by California, according to media reports.
(Reporting by Rich McKay; editing by Darren Schuettler)
FILE PHOTO: Representation of the Bitcoin virtual currency standing on a PC motherboard is seen in this illustration picture, February 3, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
April 24, 2019
By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
(Reuters) – Swiss investment firm Final Frontier and global blockchain technology company the Bitfury Group, which was recently valued at $1 billion, on Wednesday announced the launch of a regulated bitcoin mining fund.
The fund is under the supervision of Liechtenstein’s financial regulator.
Both companies, however, did not disclose the size of the fund, which was developed by Final Frontier for institutional and professional investors to gain access to the esoteric world of bitcoin mining.
Bitcoin mining entails updating the ledger of bitcoin transactions known as the blockchain. Miners run extremely powerful computers in a race against other miners to guess a specific number. The first miner to guess the number gets to update the ledger of transactions and also receives a reward of 12.5 newly minted bitcoins.
Bitfury, which holds a minority stake in Switzerland-based Final Frontier, said in a statement it is providing the hardware and end-to-end services for the bitcoin mining fund. The mining sites where the equipment will be deployed will be in locations scouted and serviced by Bitfury.
The fund will invest in turnkey assets consisting of mining sites with some of the lowest electricity and operating costs globally that feature Bitfury data centers, both companies said.
Imraan Moola, co-founder of Final Frontier, said the firm is launching the fund at an advantageous time for investors. “With the bitcoin price down significantly from its all-time high, yet institutional interest growing every day, now may be an opportune time to consider investing in bitcoin mining,” Moola said.
Bitcoin has trended higher the last few weeks, trading up nearly 4 percent at $5,594.65 on the Bitstamp platform late Tuesday.
That rally has made bitcoin mining more profitable, said crypto analyst Alex Kruger, noting that profits have risen since the start of April.
He said on Twitter that the break-even cost for efficient bitcoin mining operations currently hovers around $3,550 to $4,350, while the price of bitcoin is in the $5,500-plus range. That ensures a $1,000-plus profit for each bitcoin mined.
Bitfury late last year raised $80 million from investors including the merchant bank founded by billionaire Mike Novogratz, a former macro hedge fund manager at Fortress Investment Group. That funding pushed Bitfury’s valuation to $1 billion.
(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
A U.S. judge in Oregon said Tuesday he intends to at least partially block a rule change by President Donald Trump’s administration that could cut off federal funding for providers who refer patients for an abortion, though the scope of his decision remains to be seen.
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane made the comments after more than three hours of arguments in a lawsuit brought by 20 states and the District of Columbia, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported . The states say the rule change, due to take effect May 3, is a transparent attack on Planned Parenthood and a violation of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits “unreasonable barriers to the ability of individuals to obtain appropriate medical care.”
“At the heart of these rules is an arrogant assumption that the government is better suited to direct women’s health care than their providers,” Oregon Public Broadcasting quoted the judge as saying.
McShane said he needs more time to decide whether he will issue a national injunction or a more limited one blocking the policy from taking effect. The judge said he’s reluctant to set national health care policy and would describe the scope of his injunction in a written opinion soon.
“We will need to see what the final ruling says,” Oregon Justice Department spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson said in an email. “We are pleased with the decision.”
Under the new policy, health care providers that receive federal funding would be barred from referring patients for an abortion. Programs that receive the money would also have to be in a separate physical space from facilities where abortion is performed.
The rule change announced early this year concerns Title X, a family planning program created in 1970 which serves roughly 4 million low-income Americans every year. Clinics that receive money under Title X provide a wide array of services, including birth control and screening for diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases and cancer.
Abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman. Religious conservatives and abortion opponents have long complained that Title X has been used to indirectly subsidize abortion providers.
“Title X grant funds are a true safety net for low income individuals and those who would not be able to access care, due to a lack of insurance or other barriers,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum told the judge. “Put simply, this is an attempt to politicize what has been a successful, non-political public health program for 50 years.”
U.S. Justice Department lawyer Andrew M. Bernie said there was nothing in the administrative record to suggest the change was politically motivated.
But the judge was not swayed. McShane suggested it would be “insane” for a man to go to his doctor seeking a vasectomy, only to be referred to a fertility clinic.
Several other lawsuits have also challenged the new policy. California and Washington have sued separately; arguments in the latter case are scheduled for Thursday in U.S. District Court in Yakima.
Source: NewsMax Politics
The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday asked a judge to issue a preliminary injunction to prevent President Donald Trump from using funds identified from his national emergency declaration to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, CNN reports.
“Defendants are moving quickly to construct the border wall, and they have awarded contracts against funds that Congress did not appropriate for that purpose,” House General Counsel Doug Letter and other lawyers wrote in a 56-page motion filed to U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden. “And more contracts are coming soon. Once made, these unconstitutional expenditures cannot be undone, and the grave institutional injury inflicted on the House cannot be remedied.”
Trump declared a national emergency in mid-February in an attempt to secure more funding to build a barrier, a move that resulted in roughly $6 billion from the Pentagon’s budget and $600 million from the Treasury Department being shifted over to use for the barrier.
Trump, House lawyers said, violated the U.S. Constitution with his decision to do so.
“The decision to spend funds ‘without Congress’ violates the Appropriations Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which mandates that ‘[n]o Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law,'” they wrote.
Lawmakers earlier in the month only allocated $1.375 billion for the barrier, far less than the $5.7 billion Trump requested.
Source: NewsMax America
A major breakthrough in treating prostate cancer is being tested in clinical trials in the U.S. The trials are taking place in several locations and feature a new, targeted treatment for prostate cancer that has spread to other areas of the body and does not responding to conventional hormone treatment.
Instead of bombarding entire areas with radiation, killing healthy cells as well as cancerous tissue, the new radiopharmaceutical therapy zeros in and destroys only the cancer cells.
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer affecting men in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates 174,650 cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2019 and 31,620 people will die from the disease.
The targeted radiation approach that is being tested detects PSMA, a protein found in large concentrations on the surface of prostate cancer cells and attacks only those cells.
Researchers are using Lutetium 177, a small molecule that once it is injected into the body seeks and destroys cancer cells by binding to the Protein Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA) and delivering precise radiation therapy.
“PSMA targeted therapy is a promising new treatment for men with metastatic prostate cancer that doesn’t respond to androgen deprivation therapy,” Dr. Jonathan W. Simons, M.D., an internationally recognized physician-scientist, oncologist, and president and chief executive officer of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, tells Newsmax.
“The elegance of this approach is that the radiation can be targeted exclusively to where it is needed — at the site of the metastasis. Principally, only the prostate cancer cells with PSMA on their surfaces are destroyed and the PSMA ‘negative’ surrounding tissues are spared.”
While this type of therapy is new in the United States, it has been used in Germany where physicians can use radiopharmaceuticals to treat patients who have exhausted standard treatment care, according to Weill Cornell Medicine.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation is currently funding studies to identify which patients are good candidates for this treatment and why some patients may or may not respond to it. The sites where clinical trials are now being conducted include UCLA, UCSF, and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, Andrea Miyahara, Ph.D., director of research at PCF tells Newsmax.
“Patients should talk to their physician about whether considering a clinical trial of PSMA therapy is appropriate for them,” she says.
Patients can also use PCF’s clinical trial finder to explore trials currently recruiting patients in the U.S. at PCF Clinical Trial Finder.
Source: NewsMax America