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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Environmental, scientific, and labor leaders ask for lawsuit to be withdrawn against wind project

Sabotaging the Future: 


Newport Preservation Society sues to block off-shore wind
turbines that might disturb their view
In a letter that alleges racism and classism, what the writers call “energy privilege,” a group of environmental, scientific, and labor leaders are asking the Preservation Society of Newport County to withdraw its lawsuit challenging the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s approval of the Revolution Wind project.

The letter, printed in full below, challenges Preservation Society CEO Trudy Cox’s assertion that the “Proposed projects will inflict severe and long-lasting effects on the character, community, and heritage-tourism- driven economy of Newport, including historic properties that depend on this economy for their preservation activities.”

The signers of the letter write:

“[W]e do not consider the sight of wind turbines damaging the aesthetic or cultural value of Rhode Island or its tourism industry. These will appear as mere toothpicks on the horizon, often not visible, and many tourists and residents will find them interesting, inspiring, and beautiful. But that is largely irrelevant, as any negative effects that you claim will be caused by the view of wind turbines from Aquidneck Island are exceedingly trivial compared to the economic benefits and urgent environmental need for this project. To value the alleged impacts to ‘viewsheds’ of mansions over the civilization-level threat faced by our region and the world from the climate crisis shows an extreme level of what has been described as ‘energy privilege.’”

Cleanup in the far right aisle

I read this in a book


Kissinger dead at 100, whose legacy includes untold dead

Kissinger and realpolitik in US foreign policy

Jarrod HayesUMass Lowell

President Richard Nixon, left, speaks with national security
adviser Henry Kissinger at the White House in
September 1972. AP Photo
Henry Kissinger, who died on Nov. 29, 2023, at age 100, exercised more than 50 years of influence on American foreign policy.

I am a scholar of American foreign policy who has written on Kissinger’s service from 1969 to 1977 as national security adviser and secretary of state under the Nixon and Ford administrations. I have seen how his foreign policy views and actions played out for good and, mostly, for ill.

When Kissinger entered government as Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, he espoused a narrow perspective of the national interest, known as “realpolitik,” primarily centered on maximizing the economic and military power of the United States.

This power- and transactionalist-oriented approach to foreign policy produced a series of destructive outcomes. They ranged from fomenting coups that put in place murderous dictatorships, as in Chile, to killing unarmed civilians, as in Cambodia, and alienating potential allies, as in India.

New Initiative Designs Stress Relief Help for Fishers, Farmers, and Foresters

R.I. program targets high-stress industries with 'significant occupational hazards'

By Bonnie Phillips / ecoRI News staff

Workers in Rhode Island’s farming, fisheries, and forestry industries struggle with a number of stressors: the impacts of climate change; workforce issues; business and financial concerns; restrictive regulations, and more.

Until recently, there were few ways workers in these industries — which have long working hours, often in isolation — could access support, whether financial, emotional, or physical. A new initiative, Land & Sea Together, is working to change that.

Not suitable for kids

Plastics pose broad health risks for babies, report reveals


Everyday plastics may affect many major organs in babies and young children, posing a wide variety of serious health risks as they develop, according to a new report that reviewed 120 recent studies.

Evidence shows potential links between babies’ exposure to plastics and their risk for developing cancer, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other conditions that may arise when the endocrine system is disrupted, according to the report, which was published this month by the environmental group EARTHDAY.ORG.

Microplastics – bits of plastics smaller than 5 millimeters (microplastics) – have also been found in the human placenta, disrupting communication between a fetus and the mother’s body.

Why Long-Term Care Insurance Falls Short for So Many

Is that all you get for your money?


Jewell Thomas with her daughter, Angela Jemmott. 
For 35 years, Angela Jemmott and her five brothers paid premiums on a long-term care insurance policy for their 91-year-old mother. But the policy does not cover home health aides whose assistance allows her to stay in her Sacramento, California, bungalow, near the friends and neighbors she loves. Her family pays $4,000 a month for that. 

“We want her to stay in her house,” Jemmott said. “That’s what’s probably keeping her alive, because she’s in her element, not in a strange place.” 

The private insurance market has proved wildly inadequate in providing financial security for most of the millions of older Americans who might need home health aides, assisted living, or other types of assistance with daily living. 

For decades, the industry severely underestimated how many policyholders would use their coverage, how long they would live, and how much their care would cost. 

And as Jemmott belatedly discovered, the older generation of plans — those from the 1980s — often covered only nursing homes. 

Only 3% to 4% of Americans 50 and older pay for a long-term care policy, according to LIMRA, an insurance marketing and research association. That stands in stark contrast to federal estimates that 70% of people 65 and older will need critical services before they die. 

Repeated government efforts to create a functioning market for long-term care insurance — or to provide public alternatives — have never taken hold. Today, most insurers have stopped selling stand-alone long-term care policies: The ones that still exist are too expensive for most people. And they have become less affordable each year, with insurers raising premiums higher and higher. Many policyholders face painful choices to pay more, pare benefits, or drop coverage altogether. 

“It’s a giant bait-and-switch,” said Laura Lunceford, 69, of Sandy, Utah, whose annual premium with her husband leaped to more than $5,700 in 2019 from less than $3,800. Her stomach knots up a couple of months before the next premium is due, as she fears another spike. “They had a business model that just wasn’t sustainable from the get-go,” she said. “Why they didn’t know that is beyond me, but now we’re getting punished for their lack of foresight.”

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Trump's Similarities to Hitler Prove It Certainly Could 'Happen Here'

We must stop being bashful about calling Trump a fascist - the shoe fits


The Nazis in America are now “out.” This morning, former Republican Joe Scarborough explicitly compared Trump and his followers to Hitler and his Brownshirts on national television. They’re here.

At the same time, America’s richest man is retweeting antisemitism, rightwing influencers and radio/TV hosts are blaming “Jews and liberals” for the “invasion” of “illegals” to “replace white people,” and the entire GOP is embracing candidates and legislators who encourage hate and call for violence.

Are there parallels between the MAGA takeover of the GOP and the Nazi takeover of the German right in the 1930s?

It began with a national humiliation: defeat in war. For Germany, it was WWI; for America it was two wars George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lied us into as part of their 2004 “wartime president” re-election strategy (which had worked so well for Nixon with Vietnam in 1972 and Reagan with Grenada in 1984).

Hitler fought in WWI but later blamed Germany’s defeat on the nation being “stabbed in the back” by liberal Jews, their fellow travelers, and incompetent German military leadership.

Trump cheered on Bush’s invasion of Iraq, but later lied and claimed he’d opposed the war. Both blamed the nation’s humiliation on the incompetence or evil of their political enemies.

The economic crisis caused by America’s Republican Great Depression had gone worldwide and Hitler used the gutting of the German middle class (made worse by the punishing Treaty of Versailles) as a campaign issue, promising to restore economic good times.

Trump pointed to the damage forty years of neoliberalism had done to the American middle class and promised to restore blue-collar prosperity. Hitler promised he would “make Germany great again”; Trump campaigned on the slogan: “Make America Great Again.”

Both tried to overthrow their governments by violence and failed, Hitler in a Bavarian beer hall and Trump on January 6th. Both then turned to legal means to seize control of their nations.

Hitler’s scapegoats were Jews, gays, and liberals. “There are only two possibilities,” he told a Munich crowd in 1922. “Either victory of the Aryan, or annihilation of the Aryan and the victory of the Jew.”

He promised “I will get rid of the ‘communist vermin’,” “I will take care of the ‘enemy within’,” “Jews and migrants are poisoning Aryan blood,” and “One people, one nation, one leader.”

Trump’s scapegoats were Blacks, Muslims, immigrants, and liberals.


Jim Benton 


MAGA lessons

Bilingual Minds, Sharper Focus

The Cognitive Benefits of Speaking Two Languages


People who are bilingual may excel at shifting their attention between tasks more effectively than monolingual individuals, according to a study recently published in the journal Bilingualism: Language and Cognition

Researchers Grace deMeurisse, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Florida, and Edith Kaan, a professor in the department of linguistics, conducted the study. They focused on how bilingual and monolingual people differ in their ability to control attention and disregard irrelevant information. 

Air cleaners don't stop you getting sick

False hope

University of East Anglia

Air filtration systems do not reduce the risk of picking up viral infections, according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

A new study published today reveals that technologies designed to make social interactions safer in indoor spaces are not effective in the real world.

The team studied technologies including air filtration, germicidal lights and ionisers.

They looked at all the available evidence but found little to support hopes that these technologies can make air safe from respiratory or gastrointestinal infections.

Prof Paul Hunter, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: "Air cleaners are designed to filter pollutants or contaminants out of the air that passes through them.

Find out about assisted living add-on costs

Extra Fees Drive Assisted Living Profits


Assisted living centers have become an appealing retirement option for hundreds of thousands of boomers who can no longer live independently, promising a cheerful alternative to the institutional feel of a nursing home.

But their cost is so crushingly high that most Americans can’t afford them.

These highly profitable facilities often charge $5,000 a month or more and then layer on fees at every step. Residents’ bills and price lists from a dozen facilities offer a glimpse of the charges: $12 for a blood pressure check; $50 per injection (more for insulin); $93 a month to order medications from a pharmacy not used by the facility; $315 a month for daily help with an inhaler.

The facilities charge extra to help residents get to the shower, bathroom, or dining room; to deliver meals to their rooms; to have staff check-ins for daily “reassurance” or simply to remind residents when it’s time to eat or take their medication. Some even charge for routine billing of a resident’s insurance for care.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

AI is pervasive today, and the risks are often hidden

Forget dystopian scenarios

Anjana SusarlaMichigan State University

The AI most likely to cause you harm is not some malevolent
superintelligence, but the loan algorithm at your bank. 
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
The turmoil at ChatGPT-maker OpenAI, bookended by the board of directors firing high-profile CEO Sam Altman on Nov. 17, 2023, and rehiring him just four days later, has put a spotlight on artificial intelligence safety and concerns about the rapid development of artificial general intelligence, or AGI. AGI is loosely defined as human-level intelligence across a range of tasks.

The OpenAI board stated that Altman’s termination was for lack of candor, but speculation has centered on a rift between Altman and members of the board over concerns that OpenAI’s remarkable growth – products such as ChatGPT and Dall-E have acquired hundreds of millions of users worldwide – has hindered the company’s ability to focus on catastrophic risks posed by AGI.

OpenAI’s goal of developing AGI has become entwined with the idea of AI acquiring superintelligent capabilities and the need to safeguard against the technology being misused or going rogue. But for now, AGI and its attendant risks are speculative. Task-specific forms of AI, meanwhile, are very real, have become widespread and often fly under the radar.

As a researcher of information systems and responsible AI, I study how these everyday algorithms work – and how they can harm people.

AI is pervasive

AI plays a visible part in many people’s daily lives, from face recognition unlocking your phone to speech recognition powering your digital assistant. It also plays roles you might be vaguely aware of – for example, shaping your social media and online shopping sessions, guiding your video-watching choices and matching you with a driver in a ride-sharing service.

AI also affects your life in ways that might completely escape your notice. If you’re applying for a job, many employers use AI in the hiring process. Your bosses might be using it to identify employees who are likely to quit. If you’re applying for a loan, odds are your bank is using AI to decide whether to grant it. 

If you’re being treated for a medical condition, your health care providers might use it to assess your medical images. And if you know someone caught up in the criminal justice system, AI could well play a role in determining the course of their life.

MAGA wrong


Why yes they did!


Climate change effects hit marine ecosystems in multiple waves, according to marine ecologists

Marine communities are vulnerable to rising ocean temperatures as well as local climate events like heat waves

Brown University

A new approach to examining the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems may provide a more accurate understanding of climate change responses — and predictions for future consequences — according to a new paper co-authored by a Brown University biologist.

The paper, published in the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, highlights the interplay between the trend of climate warming and the fluctuations in local temperature. These two properties cause atypically warm events such as marine heatwaves to occur with increasing frequency and magnitude.

However, the interaction between the steadily warming climate and the spikes in local temperatures tends to be underappreciated, according to study co-author Jon Witman, a professor of biology at Brown University.

‘Forever contaminant’ road salts pose an icy dilemma

Do we protect drivers or our fresh water?

Jovana Radosavljevic, University of Waterloo; David L Rudolph, University of Waterloo; Fereidoun Rezanezhad, University of Waterloo; Jiangyue Ju, University of Waterloo; Nancy Goucher, University of Waterloo, and Philippe Van Cappellen, University of Waterloo

As winter approaches, many communities in Canada and around the world arm themselves against icy roads and sidewalks with a time-honoured ally: road salt. For decades, applying road salt has been regarded as a simple but vital tool in countering the dangers of slippery road conditions, but the downsides of its use are apparent with implications that extend beyond the cold months.

Scientists have long known that the substance which has safeguarded us through the colder months poses a threat to aquatic life and drinking water quality. But now we are finding that this chemical also disrupts the delicate balance of oxygen and nutrients in our freshwater lakes and ponds.

Road salt, commonly referred to as rock salt, is a mixture primarily composed of sodium chloride (NaCl). It is used to de-ice roads and highways during winter to enhance safety by preventing the formation of ice and reducing slippery conditions. Road salt persists as an environmental contaminant due to its chemical stability and the cyclic nature of its dispersal.

Introduced through activities like road de-icing, salts move from roads to surface water such as streams and lakes, groundwater, remaining indefinitely in the environment without significant degradation. The continual cycling and lack of substantial transformation underscore the long-term impact of sodium chloride as a “forever contaminant.”

With a growing awareness of its ecological repercussions, a critical dilemma emerges. Do we prioritize driver safety or marine ecosystem health?

7 Questions to Ask to Protect Yourself From Medicare Advantage Scams

To make the right choice, consider all the angles

DIANE ARCHER  Common Dreams

During this Medicare Open Enrollment period, ask yourself these seven questions. And, please know that you can always call the Medicare Rights Center at 1-800-333-4114 or your SHIP—State Health Insurance Assistance Program—for free, unbiased advice on any of your Medicare questions.

Q. What’s the biggest difference between traditional Medicare and a Medicare Advantage plan? To ensure you have good coverage for both current and unforeseeable health needs, you should enroll in traditional Medicare. In traditional Medicare, you and your doctor decide the care you need, with no prior approval. And, you have easy access to care from almost all doctors and hospitals in the United States with no incentive to stint on your care. 

In a Medicare Advantage plan, a corporate insurance company decides when you get care, often requiring you to get its approval first. Medicare Advantage plans also restrict access to physicians and too often second-guess your treating physicians, denying you needed care inappropriately. 

The less care the Medicare Advantage plan provides, the more the insurance company profits. You will pay more upfront in traditional Medicare if you don’t have Medicaid and need to buy supplemental coverage, but you are likely to spend a lot less out of pocket when you need costly care. Regardless of whether you stay in traditional Medicare or enroll in Medicare Advantage, you still need to pay your Part B premium.

Monday, November 27, 2023

House Speaker Mike Johnson’s climate change playbook — deny the science, take the funding

The two-faced charade of climate denial while diving into the pot of federal renewable incentives and tax breaks.

Derrick Z. Jackson

It took no time for Mike Johnson to establish a hefty carbon footprint as new Speaker of the House.

In the first legislative act under his watch, his Republican majority last month passed an appropriations bill that seeks to gut many federal programs meant to fight climate change.

The House bill cuts between $5 billion and $6 billion from last year’s Inflation Reduction Act which passed both houses of Congress without a single Republican vote.

Johnson’s new bill ends rebates for electric appliances, home electrification projects, and training funds for project installation. It eliminates or slashes funding for clean energy and energy efficiency efforts throughout the Department of Energy and defunds a national Climate Corps, modeled after the New Deal era Civilian Conservation Corps. It blocks funding for state net zero programs and tighter building energy codes. It stops the government from factoring in the social cost of greenhouse gases in budgets and environmental reviews.

The legislation also reeks of the manic efforts of an 85% white party to try to bury the nation’s history of systemic racism. Even though Black, Latino, and Indigenous “sacrifice zones” have endured decades of disproportionate pollution from redlining and industrial zoning, the GOP bill bans funding for the White House’s Justice40 initiative to direct the benefits of environmentally related investments to dumped-on communities. 


Dan Misdea


Fight fascism

How climate change could be affecting your brain

Probably not in a good way

University of Exeter

A new element of the catastrophic impacts of climate change is emerging -- how global warming is impacting the human brain.

In a paper published in Nature Climate Change, an international team of academics explore the ways in which research has shown that a changing environment affects how our brains work, and how climate change could impact our brain function in the future. 

The paper is led by the University of Vienna with input from the universities of Geneva, New York, Chicago, Washington, Stanford, Exeter in the UK and the Max Plank Institute in Berlin. It also explores the role that neuroscientists can play in further understanding and addressing these challenges.

Scientists Discover a Secret Brain Booster in Coffee

Brewing Smarter


Recent research has increasingly focused on finding natural compounds that can counteract age-related cognitive decline and promote healthy aging. Trigonelline (TG), a plant alkaloid found in coffee, fenugreek seeds, and radish, has been suggested as a candidate for enhancing cognitive abilities.

In a new study, researchers led by the University of Tsukuba investigated the effects of TG on memory and spatial learning (acquiring, retaining, structuring, and applying information related to the surrounding physical environment) from both a cognitive and molecular biology perspective in an integrated manner using a senescence-accelerated mouse prone 8 (SAMP8) model.

In Massachusetts, Problem Gambling Meets Public Health

How does that play out?


This article originally appeared in Harvard Public Health magazine.

WHEN AMY GABRILA ARRIVES at the MGM casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, she makes the rounds on the gaming floor. She walks up and down rows of clanging slot machines as people pull levers and press buttons, hoping to win. If a player looks up, Gabrila asks how they are doing.

“They may tell me, ‘Oh no, I spent more than I meant to.’ And I say, ‘Oh, yeah? When you come in, do you normally try to set a budget?’ And we’ll go from there,” she says.

Gabrila, 47, who has short spiky hair and a no-nonsense demeanor, works for the state-funded GameSense program, now operating at all three casinos in Massachusetts and meant to promote responsible gambling. She used to be part of the casino industry; as a table dealer, she says, “my job was to keep butts in the seats.”

Now, as a GameSense advisor, Gabrila’s job is to watch for people who have been in their seats too long, and possibly lost too much money. The advisors are trained to offer information and teach basic gambling literacy, including the slim odds of winning. “We understand these guys,” she says. “We know how they think; we know their misconceptions; we know their jargon.”

Mark Vander Linden, the director of Responsible Gaming and Research at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, launched GameSense in 2015, when the first slots parlor opened. He says the program’s mantra is harm reduction — not judging or even necessarily discouraging gambling, but meeting people “where they’re at, and where they’re gambling.”

Massachusetts is the only state that requires gambling intervention in its casinos, paid for by the casinos themselves. 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

The humanities are priceless

We shouldn’t let far-right politicians strip our education system down to what corporate employers demand.

By Jim Hightower 

The far-out right-wing’s latest political ploy takes extremism to the extreme. Escalating their divisive series of “culture wars” — banning books, suppressing women’s rights, whitewashing history, demonizing teachers, etc. — their next idea is to declare war on ideas themselves.

Specifically, they’re going after state university programs that teach creative arts and social studies, including history, languages, music, civics, literature, economics, theology, and other courses in the humanities that explore ideas, foster free-thinking, and expand enlightenment.

We can’t have that, can we?

March on

By Michael deAdder

Register and vote

How we hurt wildlife

Digitized records from wildlife centers show the most common ways that humans harm wild animals

Tara K. Miller, University of Virginia and Richard B. Primack, Boston University
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota, the largest independent rehab center in the U.S., treats over 1,000 sick and injured animals yearly.

At hundreds of wildlife rehabilitation centers across the U.S., people can learn about wild animals and birds at close range. These sites, which may be run by nonprofits or universities, often feature engaging exhibits, including “ambassador” animals that can’t be released – an owl with a damaged wing, for example, or a fox that was found as a kit and became accustomed to being fed by humans.

What’s less visible are the patients – sick and injured wild animals that have been admitted for treatment.

Each year, people bring hundreds of thousands of sick and injured wild animals to wildlife rehab centers. Someone may find an injured squirrel on the side of the road or notice a robin in their backyard that can’t fly, and then call the center to pick up an animal in distress.

We study ecology and biology, and recently used newly digitized records from wildlife rehabilitation centers to identify the human activities that are most harmful to wildlife. In the largest study of its kind, we reviewed 674,320 records, mostly from 2011 to 2019, from 94 centers to paint a comprehensive picture of threats affecting over 1,000 species across much of the U.S. and Canada.

Our findings, published in the journal Biological Conservation, point to some strategies for reducing harm to wildlife, especially injuries caused by cars.

Any activity is better for your heart than sitting -- even sleeping

Do something!

University College London

The study, supported by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and published in the European Heart Journal, is the first to assess how different movement patterns throughout the 24-hour day are linked to heart health. It is the first evidence to emerge from the international Prospective Physical Activity, Sitting and Sleep (ProPASS) consortium.

Cardiovascular disease, which refers to all diseases of the heart and circulation, is the number one cause of mortality globally. 

In 2021, it was responsible for one in three deaths (20.5m), with coronary heart disease alone the single biggest killer. Since 1997, the number of people living with cardiovascular disease across the world has doubled and is projected to rise further.

Bringing the war home

How a Maine Businessman Made the AR-15 Into America’s Best-Selling Rifle

by James Bandler and Doris Burke for ProPublica

As America emerged from the pandemic, communities continued to experience a rising tide of gun violence. School shootings and the rate of children and teens killed by gunfire both reached all-time highs since at least 1999. ProPublica’s coverage of gun violence reveals how first responders, policymakers and those directly affected are coping with the bloodshed.

Outside Healy Chapel on the campus of Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, the American flag swayed at half-staff. Inside, candles flickered, and the dying autumn light filtered softly through stained glass. A nursing student sobbed as a small group of mourners read aloud the names of the 18 people slaughtered with an assault-style rifle in late October at a bowling alley and a restaurant up the road in Lewiston. The college had shut down for two days as police sought the killer, whose body was found in the woods after he turned a gun on himself.

Saint Joseph’s is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, a 192-year-old society of nuns that has accused the firearms industry of “profiting from these killings.” Toward the end of the vigil, a graduate assistant asked the mourners to pray for political leaders.

“Give them insight, wisdom and courage,” she implored, “to address the epidemic of gun violence.”

Several months earlier on the same campus, as fog enveloped Sebago Lake and rain poured down in sheets, a larger crowd celebrated the life of a man who did as much as anyone to make assault-style rifles — like those used in Lewiston and other massacres — ubiquitous in America. After cocktails and crudites, they bid farewell to one of Maine’s own, Richard E. Dyke.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Affordability is a bigger problem than inflation

It's the cost of housing, healthcare, childcare, medicine, food or college

By Bilal Baydoun 

Verywell / Laura Porter
For the last two years, the debate on the economy has centered around inflation.

After reaching a 40-year high last summer, inflation as measured by economists is now approaching normal levels. But despite the rapid slowdown, millions still feel squeezed by a decades-long affordability crisis.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans struggled to afford sky-high prices for homes, child care, college, and health care, as wages lagged far behind the rising cost of living. Treating all this as “inflation” does more harm than good.

In conventional economic theory, inflation is a “demand side” problem — a polite way for economists to say people have too much money. Too much money chasing too few goods, the theory goes, leads to higher prices.

It’s hard to look around this country and conclude that our main economic challenge is people having too much money. Seventy percent of Americans report feeling “financially stressed,” and nearly a third report having paid a late bill in the last six months.

But there are other drivers of high prices that rarely make it into our conversation about inflation.

Don't worry

Jim Benton 


Listen to Superman (circa 1950)

No, you’re not that good at detecting fake videos

2 misinformation experts explain why and how you can develop the power to resist these deceptions

Sam WineburgStanford University and Michael CaulfieldUniversity of Washington

Are you sure you know what that emotionally jarring video
clip really shows? F.J. Jimenez/Moment via Getty Images
Someone tracking the conflict raging in the Middle East could have seen the following two videos on social media. The first shows a little boy hovering over his father’s dead body, whimpering in Arabic, “Don’t leave me.” 

The second purports to show a pregnant woman with her stomach slashed open and claims to document the testimony of a paramedic who handled victims’ bodies after Hamas’ attack in Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.

Even though these videos come from different sides of the Israel-Hamas war, what they share far exceeds what separates them. Because both videos, though real, have nothing to do with the events they claim to represent. The clip of the boy is from Syria in 2016; the one of the woman is from Mexico in 2018.

Suicidal move

Texas Implements a New Ban on Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates



Gov. Greg Abbott signs a bill which bans Covid-19 vaccine
requirements for all private businesses at the Governor’s
Mansion in Austin on Nov. 10, 2023.
Visual: Julius Shieh/The Texas Tribune
Covid-19 vaccine requirements for all private businesses, including hospitals, is the latest blow to medically vulnerable Texans who rely on others’ immunization to shield themselves from highly transmissible viruses.

Tamer coronavirus variants and a soft vaccine booster rollout have contributed to a lessened sense of urgency around the virus. But the new measure, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law on Friday, could risk the health of groups like organ transplant recipients, cancer patients, and those with underlying conditions as common as severe asthma. 

These risks led to some bipartisan dissent during original Senate discussions of the bill, especially from state Sens. Borris Miles, D-Houston and Kelly Hancock, R-Fort Worth, who both take immunosuppressants for their respective kidney transplants.

“I live a pretty normal life and am not fearful, but it does make you think about others,” Hancock said. “There’s just a balance we have to keep in mind — just try to always think of others and the positions they may be in.”

For one, vaccines are less effective in some of these patients because their conditions prevent their bodies from manufacturing the white blood cells that can recognize and fight off viruses. But even with protection, the virus can exacerbate underlying conditions and lead to long-term symptoms of the virus, known as long Covid.

Scientists and health experts agree that the vaccine is safe and effective for most people with functioning immune systems, in reducing both transmission and severity of the virus.

How to stop phony health news

Study identifies urgent need for improved research on how to respond to misleading health information

Brown University

A study by researchers at the Brown University School of Public Health on ways to mitigate the impacts of misleading COVID-19 information found that variations in the designs of prior studies have complicated efforts at drawing strong conclusions about what worked and what did not.

The study, published in Health Affairs on Wednesday, Nov. 15, shows where existing research is lacking and how it can be improved. For example, when studies tested the impact of COVID-19 misinformation interventions, they used significantly different examples of misinformation, assessed 47 outcomes yet rarely measured public health outcomes such as intent to vaccinate.

The authors recommend that the research community makes evidence comparable and actionable, and includes public health experts in the design and delivery of health misinformation interventions.