Trump burnishes foreign policy at election rally

Associated Press

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Google policy head retools team for global lobbying push

Alphabet Inc’s Google is trying to plug a surge of public scrutiny around the world by overhauling how its policy office operates, with increased emphasis on having policy staffers and top company executives alike building relationships with governments, people familiar with the matter said this week.


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FAQ: How Does New Trump Fetal Tissue Policy Impact Medical Research?

The announcement this week that the federal government is changing its policy on the use of human fetal tissue in medical research is designed to please anti-abortion groups that have strongly supported President Donald Trump.

But it could jeopardize promising medical research and set back attempts to make inroads in devastating diseases such as HIV, Parkinson’s and diabetes, U.S. scientists said.

Under the new policy, employees at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will no longer conduct research with human fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions, after using up any material they have on hand. Officials also immediately stopped funding a multiyear contract at the University of California-San Francisco using human fetal tissue in mice to research HIV therapies.

Federally funded projects at other research institutions using fetal tissue can continue until their grants expire. But renewal for these projects and future proposals will have to go through a newly established ethics review process to receive funding. It’s not clear yet what standards that process will entail or whether such experiments will be able to proceed under government sponsorship.

The change was enthusiastically welcomed by abortion opponents, who have long had fetal tissue research in their sights. Many scientists had a very different view.

Here are a few answers to questions about the issue.

Q: What exactly does fetal tissue research refer to?

Fetal tissue is any tissue or organ obtained from a fetus that was fertilized at least eight weeks earlier. (Anything younger than that is called an embryo.)

The statement from the Department of Health and Human Services referred repeatedly to “human fetal tissue from elective abortions.”

Researchers generally use fetal tissue from elective abortions rather than miscarriages because miscarriages often result from chromosomal or other developmental abnormalities that could make the tissue unsuitable for research.

Q: What is fetal tissue research used for?

These cells are less specialized than adult tissue cells and can be grown readily, making them valuable in research. Fetal tissue has been used in many types of medical research, including the development of vaccines for polio, measles and other diseases, and therapies to treat Parkinson’s, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and to prevent the transmission of HIV.

Some researchers graft fetal tissue onto mice, creating “humanized mice” with human blood-forming and immune systems.

Fetal tissue helps researchers learn about birth defects and human tissue development. In recent years, it has been instrumental in understanding how the Zika virus crosses the placenta and affects the development of the human brain, according to a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar signed by 70 organizations in December in support of continued fetal tissue research.

Q: Are there rules about using fetal tissue? 

Strict federal rules govern the collection and use of human fetal tissue. It’s against the law for anyone to accept payment for human fetal tissue, except for reasonable amounts associated with acquisition, storage or other costs. There are also provisions that require women who are donating fetal tissue for research to provide informed consent and prohibit physicians from altering the timing or method of an abortion in order to obtain fetal tissue.

Q: Has it always been as controversial as it is today?

Not really. The level of controversy around fetal tissue research waxes and wanes. Human fetal tissue research has been done in the United States since the 1930s, and NIH has been funding this type of research since the 1950s. There was a ban on such funding, however, during part of the terms of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Federal money was restored with bipartisan support in a 1993 bill for the NIH. Among the backers of that effort were some strong abortion opponents, such as Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), who argued that the research could help people — like his daughter — with diabetes.

NIH spent $ 115 million on human fetal tissue research in 2018, a tiny fraction of the nearly $ 14 billion it spent on clinical research overall. NIH currently funds roughly 200 projects that use fetal tissue, according to HHS.

Fetal tissue once again became a hot-button issue in 2015 with the release of doctored videos, later discredited, purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing tissue donation policies and reimbursement. Last fall, the Trump administration announced it was conducting a review of all research involving fetal tissue to ensure it was consistent with statutes and regulations governing it.

Q: Aren’t there effective alternatives?

It depends on whom you ask. Opponents of fetal tissue research point to a number of other possible options, including monkey or hamster cells for vaccines as well as blood collected after birth from umbilical cords that are rich in blood-forming stem cells. They also suggest the use of adult stem cells and “organoids” — artificially grown cells that somewhat mimic organs.

“Why do we keep focusing on these archaic models when newer, better alternatives are out there?” asked Tara Sander Lee, a senior fellow and director of life sciences at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which opposes research using fetal tissue from elective abortion.

She suggested that using tissue from a miscarriage could be an acceptable alternative to using tissue from an aborted fetus because it’s from “a natural death, not an intentional killing of the child.”

The letter from researchers to Azar in December called the idea that other cells could replace fetal tissue “patently incorrect.”

“The study of human fetal tissue provides researchers with incomparable insights into how birth defects arise and how they can be prevented as well as an unparalleled window into the complexity of human tissue development,” the letter said.

Sally Temple, scientific director of the Neural Stem Cell Institute who is a past president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, said that while these other types of cells hold promise, they aren’t ready for prime time.

“There’s a lot of excitement about using stem cells and talk about how we can use three-dimensional organoids,” said Temple. But organoids don’t have the same cellular arrangement or blood vessel network. “Organoids can’t mimic real tissue,” she said.

“If we’re going to understand how tissues are made in humans, you really have to have access to human tissue,” she added. “It makes you so nervous that scientists aren’t being heard.”

Kaiser Health News

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New York’s energy policy depends on an impossible fantasy

Last Wednesday, the Cuomo administration blocked construction of the proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement project, a 24-mile gas pipeline that would run from New Jersey across New York Bay to near the Rockaways. The Department of Environmental Conservation claimed the pipeline could have a negative effect on water quality and marine life. The move was cheered…
Opinion | New York Post

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Joe Biden’s China policy is stuck in the last century

Once upon a time, May 1 — May Day — was a day for working-class parades in factory towns. This year, it was a day for Joe Biden, to set off on his third presidential campaign in 32 years, to make news on the stump, not in a working-class venue but in the university town…
Opinion | New York Post

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Fed’s James Bullard says interest rate policy is ‘a little tight’ right now

Speaking at a time when the White House is pushing the Fed to lower rates, Bullard would not commit to that course.
Economy

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Court Blocks Trump’s Policy Of Returning Asylum Seekers To Mexico

A federal court temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s new policy that forced Latin American asylum seekers to return to Mexico while their cases are processed. In a ruling that came as a set back for the Trump administration’s efforts to stem the flow of migrants seeking asylum through the US border with Mexico, US District Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco said the Department of Ho
RTT – Political News

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Norwegian Cruise Line to no longer provide towel animals during test of new policy

No longer will origami swans nestled delicately on your bed greet you.
FOX News

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IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecast On Trade Tensions, Policy Uncertainty

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday slashed the global growth forecast for this year, citing the trade tensions, weaker business confidence, tighter financial conditions and higher policy uncertainty. The Washington-based global lender cut the growth forecast for this year to 3.3 percent in its latest World Economic Outlook, or WEO, which is released twice a year.
RTT – Top Story

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Trump leaves Washington reeling with policy whiplash as he struggles with domestic agenda

Republicans try to adjust as the president rolls out new ideas on immigration and health care.
Politics

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‘Start Here’: Rosenstein’s letter offers clues, Trump’s tweet tweaks Mideast policy

It’s Friday, March 22, 2019. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.
ABC News: Top Stories

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US policy on asylum seekers facing court challenge

Associated Press

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New FDA policy could get some flavored e-cigarette products pulled off the market

The US Food and Drug Administration released a policy draft Wednesday aimed at preventing e-cigarette products from getting into kids’ hands. The result could be that some flavored products are taken off the market.


CNN.com – RSS Channel – Health

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We need to fix NYC’s school discipline policy as soon as possible

The current implementation of Department of Education policy on in-school suspension is not effective in addressing school discipline and safety in our public schools. While many advocates are proponents of the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports system, both funded and advanced by the US Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, there must be…
Opinion | New York Post

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WATCH: Federal Judge Issues New Order Against Trump Administration’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ Policy

A family complains about telemedicine call; Arnold Schwarzenegger has ‘a new hero’ — a bodybuilder with cerebral palsy
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Amazon, DoorDash will keep the controversial tipping policy Instacart just ditched

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Instacart heard the cries of an angered internet and took action. Amazon and DoorDash, on the other hand, seem content to dig in.

It was online anger that led Instacart to change its policy on tips, which were previously used to pay the base wages of the company’s gig-economy delivery workers. As anyone who has ever worked in a service industry will tell you, tips are additive; it’s money you’re paid on top of your base wage.

“Tips should always be separate from Instacart’s contribution to shopper compensation,” Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta wrote in an email to employees.  Read more…

More about Tech, Doordash, Instacart, Amazon Flex, and Tech


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Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ Live From D.C.: A Look Ahead At Health Policy In 2019

(From left) Tom Miller, Kimberly Leonard, Anna Edney, Joanne Kenen and Julie Rovner(Lynne Shallcross/KHN)

The 2020 presidential campaign has begun and health is a big part of it, with Democratic candidates pledging their support for “Medicare-for-all” and many of its variations.

Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats are both promising to do something about drug prices and “surprise” medical bills. But whether they can translate that agreement on the broad problem to a detailed solution remains to be seen.

This week’s panelists for KHN’s “What the Health?” are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Joanne Kenen of Politico, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News and Kimberly Leonard of The Washington Examiner. Joining the panel for this week’s live show was Tom Miller of the American Enterprise Institute.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • The early jockeying among Democrats running for president is likely to overshadow any efforts to make changes to the Affordable Care Act or help stabilize its insurance marketplaces.
  • Legislative remedies for the ACA marketplaces are expected to hit the same roadblock that senators found in 2017: demands by conservatives that plans operating in those insurance exchanges be banned from offering abortion coverage.
  • Although the general idea of expanding Medicare garners high public support, if Democrats agree on a plan to push forward, it could be expected to meet strong opposition from the health care industry.
  • Republicans and Democrats have expressed interest in moving legislation to help lower drug prices. One area where they could find common ground might be revisions to the patent laws to help spur more lower-cost generic drugs.
  • Both parties also say they are concerned about surprise bills that patients receive after receiving medical care. Still, there is no consensus on how to approach the problem, and industry stakeholders are split on what remedies the country should take.

The panelists also discussed Anna Edney’s series on the dangers of generic drugs. You can read her stories here, here and here.

To hear all our podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to What the Health? on iTunesStitcher or Google Play.

Kaiser Health News

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Sorry, bad foreign policy isn’t a criminal offense

The New York Times recently reported that President Trump has, on a number of occasions, contemplated withdrawing from NATO. This is an important issue for public debate and, ultimately, for elections. There is, however, no constitutional amendment codifying a forever-alliance with select European nations. So if Trump decided to try to pull out of the…
Opinion | New York Post

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Pompeo criticizes previous Middle East policy

Newsy

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Viewpoints: Expanding Public Charge Policy Would Be Detrimental To Immigrants’ Health; Supreme Court Conservatives’ Impatience On Display With Planned Parenthood Case

Editorial pages focus on these health care topics and others.
Kaiser Health News

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Bethesda Is Taking Heat Over Fallout 76 Return Policy

A lot of gamers don’t feel as if Bethesda met some standards with the release of Fallout 76, and some gamers who have been attempting to get refunds for the game aren’t being allowed to do so, which has resulted in Bethesda taking a lot of heat over its opaque return policy.


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House Democrats, now in power, will steer health policy, attack drug prices

Democrats will control the House and its powerful health committees for first time since passing Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act.
ABC News: Health

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Fed’s new Vice Chair Clarida backs more rate hikes in first major policy speech

Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida, in his first major policy speech since being seated at the central bank, said more interest rate increases are likely warranted as the economy continues to gather strength.
Economy

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White House’s Kudlow says Trump not demanding Fed policy change

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said on Wednesday that U.S. President Trump was not demanding a policy change at the Federal Reserve after Trump heaped more criticism on the Fed on Tuesday, calling rising U.S. interest rates his “biggest threat.”


Reuters: Politics

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Consumer sentiment falls shy of expectations, but confidence in economic policy is at a 15-year high

Consumer sentiment in October fell just short of expectations on Friday.
Economy

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