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Sat, 06 Feb 2016
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One brain dead, five others critically ill, in drug trial gone horribly wrong

The six volunteers are being treated at Rennes University Hospital.
Six volunteers are seriously ill in hospital after a medical trial at a private clinic in France. One person is described as "brain dead" while the other five are critically ill. Some of those who have been taken ill were suffering from a "handicap that could be irreversible," French Health Minister Marisol Touraine said.

A seventh person has been taken to hospital, but is not thought to be seriously affected. Initially it was believed the trial involved a cannabis-based painkiller, but later reports suggested there was no cannabis in the drug.

Comment: Tragic. One wonders if the guinea pigs study subjects truly knew what they were getting themselves in for? If they truly grokked the risk for death or serious injury would they have signed up? Also worth noting: Touraine later said that the pill did not contain cannabis or its derivatives but acted on the body's endocannabinoid system. Is the article just confusion or are they trying to develop and test a synthetic alternative? Or one of the 85+ cannabinoids isolated from cannabis? Is it something else entirely? Cannabinoids are a class of diverse chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors in cells that repress neurotransmitter release in the brain. Ligands for these receptor proteins include the endocannabinoids that are produced naturally in humans and animals.

Heart - Black

Gulf War veteran with PTSD has children taken away by CPS for using medical marijuana

© Mark Blinch / Reuters
The family of a Gulf War veteran suffering PTSD lost custody of their youngest kids after moving from Colorado, where treatment with medical marijuana is legal, to Kansas, where pot is illegal. They have seen their children three times since last April.

Veteran Raymond Schwab and his wife Amelia are fighting to get back their five children, aged five to 16, taken from them by Kansas child-protection workers after a family squabble, while the family was preparing to move back to Colorado from the Kansas capital, Topeka. Raymond had worked there as benefits agent for fellow veterans since 2013 and was offered a same job in Denver.

Kansas child-protection workers took five youngest Schwab children after Amelia's mother took the kids to a police station in another county and reported them abandoned - something she now reportedly regrets.

The children were taken from their parents' custody and a child-abuse investigation was launched, alleging that Raymond and Amelia emotionally abused all five children. The allegations were dropped as unsubstantiated three months later, however the children were not returned to the parents.

Comment: This is how our war veterans are treated. They are used by the elites to spread their terrorism and imperialism, then discarded. When the cannon fodder find difficulties dealing with the psychological effects of the elite's war activities, they are left on their own and fighting against a system that has no compassion for what they have been through. And not only is this man dealing with a system that poisons him instead of healing him, they then take away his children because he uses cannabis, which is a treatment that actually works. One can only imagine the frustration and pain that family is going through because of a system that has lost its touch with reality decades ago.


New Mexico to sue federal government over toxic waste spill into Animas River

© EPA / Reuters
Yellow mine waste water from the Gold King Mine is seen in San Juan County, Colorado, in this picture released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) taken August 7, 2015
New Mexico has signaled that it will sue the federal government, along with the owners of two Colorado mines, for a massive spill of 3 million gallons of toxic metals into the Animas River. The spill contaminated rivers and agricultural lands in four states.

New Mexico made its intent to sue known in papers filed on Thursday claiming the government had created "an imminent and substantial endangerment to the health of New Mexico's citizens and the environment of the Animas and San Juan Rivers," the Associated Press reported.

The notice targets the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Land Management, as well as the Gold King and Sunnyside Mines, whose waste polluted the Animas and San Juan rivers on August 5, 2015.

"From the very beginning, the EPA failed to hold itself accountable in the same way that it would a private business," Ryan Flynn, cabinet secretary of New Mexico's environment department, said in a statement. "The EPA caused an unprecedented disaster that may affect our state for years to come; they must take responsibility."


Russia registers two extremely effective drugs for Ebola including one for immunodeficient patients

© Thomas Peter / Reuters
Russia has registered a new Ebola drug that appears to be more effective than all of the other medicines currently being used to treat the disease, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced during a meeting with the Cabinet.

"We have registered a medicine for the Ebola fever that, after a series of tests, demonstrates high effectiveness. Its effectiveness is higher than that of those remedies that are used in the world up to now," the Russian president said, as quoted by TASS.

Russia has developed and registered two separate Ebola vaccines, both of which surpass their counterparts in effectiveness, with one of the medicines designed specifically for people with immunodeficiency, Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said during the meeting.

"In December, Russia registered two Ebola fever vaccines, which were developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences and tested in cooperation with the Health and Defense ministries," Skvotsova said, as quoted by TASS.

"One of the vaccines is absolutely unique and has no analogues in the world. It provides 100 percent immunity to the disease," she added, stressing that the second vaccine for people with immunodeficiency also surpasses its British counterpart in efficiency.

Comment: It should be noted that Russia will not try to make obscene profits from its research the way Western companies do. She has already been very generous with previous findings.

Red Flag

Hospital staff in Sweden facing criticism after racy photo shoot leaked online

© AFP Photo
Staff at a children's hospital in Stockholm have faced criticism after stripping off to take part in a calendar shoot. Despite raising money for charity, the medics' sexy poses were not appreciated by everyone.

Around 100 copies of the calendar were printed for the nurses' family members and friends. However, the saucy photos of the staff at the Astrid Lindgren's Children's Hospital found their way onto the internet.

"It is clearly inappropriate and a sign of very poor judgment," hospital chief Svante Norgren said after he was made aware of the calendar by the Dagens Nyheter newspaper, which broke the story, The Local reported.

Amongst the images leaked online was a man 'straddling' a female colleague, while another nurse could be seen doing press-ups on the hospital roof.

Comment: Despite the proceeds from calendar sales going to charity, it shows a rather stunning lack of awareness for people who work in healthcare to think that this was a good idea.


Sad society statistic: 80% of teachers bring food to feed hungry school children

© Russell Boyce / Reuters
Nearly one in three teachers in England and Wales are buying food for their students to prevent them from falling asleep in class, with 80 percent acting to stave off hunger, a poll has revealed. Trade unionists have blamed the crisis on Tory austerity measures.

Financial hardship is one of the main causes of child hunger in schools, according to a YouGov poll of 765 teachers for cereal company Kellogg's.

Eighty percent of teachers admitted to feeding children in class due to hunger, with many claiming their families couldn't afford to feed them in the mornings.

Some 82 percent said hungry children are unable to concentrate and 50 percent claimed hungry children are more disruptive in class.

Wall Street

Above the law: Goldman Sachs to settle federal and states probes with a $5bn payoff

Goldman Sachs said it agreed to a $5.1 billion civil settlement to resolve federal and state probes into its handling of mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis.

The proposed deal, which the Wall Street giant announced in a Thursday statement, would settle "actual and potential civil claims" by the US Justice Department and the attorneys general of New York and Illinois, as well as state regulators, against Goldman.

The authorities investigated the bank's securitization, underwriting and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities from 2005 to 2007.

"We are pleased to have reached an agreement in principle to resolve these matters," Goldman CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein said.

Comment: Justice for the too-big-to-fail banks: small fine, no formal charges, arrests, or jail time.

Bizarro Earth

Whales and dolphins in danger of highly toxic waste still lingering in UK waters

© Reuters
Whales and dolphins in British waters could face extinction because of the presence of toxic chemicals banned over three decades ago, environmental researchers have warned.

Data from the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CISP) published Friday showed blubber taken from whales and porpoises contains some of the highest levels of a man-made chemical called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB).

The chemical was used to make a range of materials including flame retardants, electrical equipment and paints, but were banned in 1981.

Now a study has shown that the large marine mammals are extremely vulnerable to the chemical because they are "top marine predators" high up the food chain.

The study's lead author, Dr Paul Jepson, from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), said: "Our findings show that, despite the ban and initial decline in environmental contamination, PCBs still persist at dangerously high levels in European cetaceans.

2 + 2 = 4

Teachers in Detroit protest crumbling, pest-ridden schools with 'sickout' strike

© Joshua Lott / Reuters
Colin Powell Academy in Detroit, Michigan, one of the many schools abandoned since 2009. Teachers at the remaining schools are complaining about deteriorating conditions.
Detroit, Michigan teachers have been calling in sick to protest working conditions, forcing a number of schools to close. Buildings are falling apart, while rats and roaches roam the hallways; teachers blame the state-appointed emergency manager.

Five schools were closed on Wednesday, down from 24 on Tuesday and 64 on Monday, due to teacher absences. Michigan law prohibits teacher strikes, with fines up to $5,000 a day for teachers involved, but a "sickout" is technically not a strike.

According to examples provided by the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT), one high school "is literally falling apart." A special education school has "infestations of rats, other rodents, roaches and bed bugs." At a preparatory academy, "pieces of the ceiling are falling on kids' heads," while one elementary school has "a classroom without power due to black mold in the wiring."

Comment: It's not only unfair to the teachers to force them to work in these types of conditions, but it's just plain wrong to force kids to attend a school where they have to worry about getting diseases from rodents or insects. Disgusting!


12 feared dead in military helicopters collision off Oahu, Hawaii

The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for two Marine helicopters with 12 aboard that reportedly collided north of the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

Coast Guard District 14 said two CH-53 helicopters, the Marine Corps' largest helicopter, collided shortly after midnight local time (3 a.m. Eastern). Emergency workers found debris including an empty life raft and fire on the water. Waves reaching 40 feet are hampering rescue efforts.

The aircrafts are from Kaneohe Bay U.S. Marine Corps Air Station with six people aboard each.