Brian Conley to Play Ebenezer Scrooge in the West End’s A Christmas Carol This Season

first_imgBrian Conley as Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” (Photo: c/o Storyhouse PR) London audiences are going to be feeling tidings of comfort and joy this holiday season because Alan Menken, Lynn Ahrens and Mike Ockrent’s A Christmas Carol is coming back to the stage. Olivier nominee Brian Conley will star as Ebenezer Scrooge in this staged concert at the West End’s Dominion Theatre. The limited engagement will run from December 7, 2020 to January 2, 2021. Shaun Kerrison is set to direct.Based on the Charles Dickens classic, this A Christmas Carol first premiered in 1994 at New York’s Paramount Theatre and ran for a decade at Madison Square Garden.Conley has appeared on the West End stage in Me and My Girl, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Hairspray, Oliver!, The Music Man, Barnum and Jolson, which earned him an Olivier Award nomination. In 1995, he received the prestigious National Television Award for Most Popular Comedy Performer.Covid safety measures and social distancing will be in place front of house, on stage, backstage and throughout the Dominion Theatre. The production is also offering 900 free tickets to key workers and their families.This production of A Christmas Carol is not to be confused with Jack Thorne’s adaptation, which recently announced it will be livstreaming from London’s Old Vic Theater this season prior to returning to Broadway next year.The new musical The Prince of Egypt, which was playing at the Old Dominion Theater at the time of the theater shutdown, will resume its run in the spring 2021 pending U.K. government advice. View Commentslast_img read more

Vermont gasoline prices down over 35 cents since last year

first_imgAverage gasoline prices continue to fall in Vermont and across the nation. According to vermontgasprices.com, average prices in Vermont this week are $3.549 per gallon, down from $3.569 a week ago, $3.699 a month ago and $3.910 a year ago. The national average this week is $3.374 and was $3.739 a year ago. In Vermont, the lowest gasoline prices are in Rutland ($3.35) and the highest are in Montpelier ($3.73).GasBuddy, a national rating service, has assembled several gasoline price facts:1.      As of October 15, the US average has had a streak of 70 consecutive days where the price was lower than the same day last year. On August 6, 2013, the US average of $3.628 gal was the last time the country saw a price higher than last year on the same date. (On August 6, 2012, the average was $3.619 gal.)2.      Less than 1% of the country is over $4.00 gal; last year at this time, 15% of the United States saw prices over $4.00 gal.3.      Across the country, the average difference between the highest 1% of stations ($4.140 gal) and the lowest 1% of stations ($2.944 gal) is only $1.196 gal, a smaller differential than last week ($1.256 gal,) last month ($1.241 gal,) and last year ($1.508 gal.)4.      There are six states with over 1% of stations reporting gas stations with prices over $4.00 gal: Connecticut (1.2%,) New York (1.3%,) Nevada (1.4%,) California (4.32%,) Alaska (24.1%,) and Hawaii (95.1%.) Alaska and Hawaii both have nearly 2% of stations over $4.50 gal. Last year, there were only four states that reported no stations over $4.00 gal: Delaware, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Indiana.5.      There are three states where the most common price is under $3.00 gal: Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, all at $2.999 gal. (Hawaii is the only state with a most common price over $4.00 gal at $4.059 gal.) Last year, there weren’t any states with a most common price under $3.00 gal.6.      Not surprisingly, Hawaii’s highest 1% of stations is averaging the highest price at $5.112 gal. This is also the only state where the highest 1% is over $5.00 gal. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has the lowest 1% of stations averaging the least expensive price, at $2.871 gal.7.      At 42%, Missouri has the most stations under $3.00 gal; last week, only 26% of the stations in the state could say the same. Oklahoma has the second most stations reporting prices that low, with 24% of them under $3.00 gal.Source: GasBuddy.comlast_img read more

Bain Capital company buys Brattleboro methadone clinic

first_imgby Laura Krantz vtdigger.orgBrattleboro’s opiate treatment center is the latest acquisition in a nationwide methadone clinic empire being assembled by a holding of private equity giant Bain Capital.CRC Health Group, owned by the Boston-based firm founded by 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has purchased Habit OPCO, the East Coast company that runs the Brattleboro methadone clinic and another in West Lebanon, N.H.CRC on February 28 purchased all 22 Habit OPCO facilities, in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New Jersey for $58 million, said Jonathan Ciampi, CRC vice president of marketing and business development.Bain Capital, which Romney co-founded in 1984 and where he subsequently made his fortune, acquired CRC in 2006, according to Bain’s website.CRC is a for-profit company and calls itself the nation’s largest provider of addiction treatment services. The Cupertino, Calif., based company owns 154 treatment facilities across the country and sees 30,000 patients a day, its website says.CRC also operates eating disorder programs, boarding schools and wilderness camps.CRC founder Barry Karlin is also the chairman and CEO of Prospira PainCare, a chain of pain management clinics across the country.A Habit OPCO official Monday said the acquisition will not affect treatment at the hub, one of five methadone clinics in Vermont.“Everything operates as-is,” said Tracey Nicolosi, director of clinical services for Habit OPCO.Nicolosi said the purchase was simply an acquisition of Habit OPCO stock.Ciampi, in a statement emailed through a CRC spokeswoman, said, “we are very pleased with their operations and focus on clients.”The Brattleboro treatment center will be obligated to fulfill any contracts or grants of Habit OPCO, said Barbara Cimaglio, deputy commissioner for alcohol and drug abuse programs at the Vermont Department of Health.“We do not expect any change in services,” Cimaglio said Monday in an email.The expectations of for-profit companies are the same as for nonprofits, Cimaglio said, and the rates for all the hubs are the same.The Brattleboro center as of March is the only hub without a wait list, according to the Vermont Department of Health. It serves 505 clients– 106 on buprenorphine and 399 who receive methadone.The Habit OPCO hub in Brattleboro collaborates with the Brattleboro Retreat, a nonprofit treatment center not owned by CRC.Since founding CRC in 1995, CRC has bought 82 chemical dependency treatment facilities in 22 states that employ more than 2,000 staff, according to CRC’s website.Karlin also founded eGetgoing, an online alcohol and drug treatment program. The website for eGetgoing Monday appeared defunct.A Bloomberg news report from 2013 said a CRC clinic was chronically understaffed and dispensed take-home methadone in doses as large as a 30-day supply.A 2012 report by Salon found allegations of abuse and neglect in at least 10 CRC residential drug and teen care facilities across the country. Ex-staffers told Salon the company valued money-making over client safety.Two months after the Salon report, R. Andrew Eckert, CEO of CRC, released a statement in response to what he called “one-sided” and “misinformed” media reports about CRC.“Having for-profit, investor-owned treatment centers is a positive thing for our country. Unlike many non-profits or single-owned facilities, we have the geographic breadth and financial stability that enables us to continue to provide these necessary services, even in challenging economic times,” Eckert’s statement said.Bain Capital holds about $70 billion in assets under management, according to its website. Among its other health care investments are Hospital Corporation of America and Lake Region Medical.There are five addiction treatment hubs in Vermont, at seven locations. Hubs are regional centers that provide specialty treatment to addicts, including medication and access to counseling and other basic and medical services.The other hubs are Rutland, Berlin, Burlington, Newport and St. Johnsbury.The Newport, St. Johnsbury and Berlin hubs are run by another national for-profit company, BAART, a San Francisco-based company that also runs clinics in California, North Carolina, Arizona and Nebraska.At the Berlin hub, BAART collaborates with non-profit Central Vermont Substance Abuse Services.Between 70 percent and 85 percent of clients who use treatment hubs receive Medicaid, government-subsidized insurance for low-income people. Medicaid is billed a bundled rate of approximately $500 per month per patient.One issue hub treatment centers face is clients who are uninsured or lose their insurance. There is money in the Habit OPCO’s grant to pay for uninsured clients, Cimaglio said. However, she said, “no organization is mandated to serve everyone who comes to the clinic.”Green Mountain Care Board member Cornelius Hogan at a meeting last week questioned Cimaglio about the practice of contracting with for-profit treatment centers headquartered on the opposite coast.“It has less to do with the distance,” Cimaglio said. “I mean, quite frankly we were looking to bring in the provider who delivered what we needed to be delivered.”The state does not operate any of its own services, she said. It solicits bids and contracts with providers.Running a methadone clinic is complicated and expensive. It comes with strict federal requirements to keep the medicine secure and documented.It was difficult to get bids for the methadone clinics in Vermont, Cimaglio said.“I think it also indicates that there’s a real need for this type of specialty care and there aren’t a lot of providers that are saying we want to do this,” Cimaglio said.Beth Tanzman, assistant director of Vermont Blueprint for Health Monday said there were three bidders for four hubs when the state issued a request for proposals in 2012, partly because the state asked a lot of bidders.“It was a high bar,” she said.last_img read more

State employee medical plan premium rates announced, up 17.9 percent

first_imgThe annual open enrollment period for State employees to choose among medical plans begins November 1. Human Resources Commissioner Maribeth Spellman announced today that the plans will see a 17.9 percent premium increase in 2015 for active State employees and non-Medicare retirees, while Medicare retirees will see a decrease or very small increase (-2.3 percent or +1.0 percent) depending on their plan.The increase for active employees is driven primarily by significantly greater than expected high cost claims experience beginning in the 3rd quarter of 2013, which correlates with increased inpatient utilization, including hospital admissions and days spent in the hospital.Spellman noted that the spike in high cost claims began prior to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT) taking over as administrator of the state’s medical plans. In 2014, the State selected BCBSVT to administer the medical plans, and Express Scripts and Northeast Delta Dental for its pharmacy and dental coverage. Although still higher than projections, the claims experience in recent quarters is not as high as the 3rd quarter spike of 2013.The Commissioner said that over the past two years, state employees have seen no rate increases and have had seven premium holidays worth $1,183 for a family in the most popular health plan. With the anticipated increase in premium rates for 2015, active state employee medical plans will be in line with the increases seen over the same 3 year period of time in comparable public employee plans, such as the Vermont teacher medical plans.Retiree rates are benefitting from pharmacy discounts offered through the Employer Group Waiver Plan (EGWP), the Commissioner said, which allows the State to utilize federal subsidies in providing pharmacy services. This new feature for 2015 was the result of collaboration between the State and employee groups.The State employee plan is self-insured and this rate increase is necessary to offset plan’s deficit and maintain solid financial footing.While Commissioner Spellman acknowledged that the premium increase for active employees is not welcome news, she appreciated the willingness of VSEA and VTA leadership to meet with her team recently to discuss the reasons for the increase and the wisdom of addressing the plan deficit in the near term.  She also noted that other aspects of the state employee plan have performed as expected, including new wellness programs. BCBSVT has been a strong partner in employee wellness initiatives, providing the State with $250,000 for expenditure on wellness initiatives. With these resources the State has developed a comprehensive Wellness Program – some highlights:So far this year, 2,958 employees have completed the personal health assessment, providing valuable insight into the actual health and mental health issues impacting employees and the guidance to tailor Wellness Program initiatives to tackle those issues;1,254 employees and retirees have received in person biometric screenings (blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol) to date.Source: State of Vermont 10.20.2014last_img read more

Ten social media followers invited to meet 2019 Vitus Pro Cycling…

first_imgTen followers of Vitus Pro Cycling Team will receive an invitation to join the full 2019 rider line-up at an exclusive and intimate gathering, taking place in Derby, UK, on Thursday November 22, 2018.With the support of key partners, led by headline sponsor Vitus Bikes, the team is encouraging fans to apply and state why they would like to join the team in Derby on Thursday November 22, 2018. Ten winners will be announced this Friday (November 16, 2018).Cherie Pridham’s pro cycling team has been significantly strengthened for the coming season, thanks to continued and enhanced support from new and existing sponsors for a ‘values-based approach to professional cycling’.Ed Clancy, Graham Briggs, Alistair Slater, Chris Latham, Joe Holt, Dylan Kerfoot-Robson, Michael Mottram, Freddie Scheske, Adam Kenway, Red Walters, Liam Davies and Tim Torrie will meet this month as a team for the first time at the University of Derby’s state-of-the-art sports centre from 18.30 GMT.The facility, built at a cost of nearly £11m and opened just two years ago, will stage an informal gathering of riders, staff, sponsors and invited media. Competition winners will have the opportunity to mingle with the riders, including Clancy, a triple Olympic champion.“We’re very pleased to extend an invitation to our community of followers on social media to meet our new rider roster for 2019,” said Cherie Pridham, Vitus Pro Cycling Team’s owner and manager. “We’re delighted with the squad. With proven winners like Ed Clancy and Graham Briggs, and riders of real pedigree, such as Ali Slater and Chris Latham, we’re certain Vitus Pro Cycling Team can make a real impact next year on the biggest races of the domestic calendar and key events abroad.“By signing Joe Holt, Red Walters and Dylan Kerfoot-Robson, we’ve strengthened our commitment to developing young talent, and given the team a solid spine in the form of Michael Mottram, Freddie Scheske and Adam Kenway.“Adam was one of three riders who really impressed me this season, and we’re delighted that he’ll represent Vitus Pro Cycling Team again next year, alongside Liam Davies and Tim Torrie, two of our brightest prospects.”As well as winning three Olympic gold medals with Great Britain’s men’s team pursuit squad, Ed Clancy has won six world titles on the track, and a number of races on the road. This year, he won the Herald Sun Tour prologue, two rounds of the Tour Series and the London Nocturne.Graham Briggs is another prolific winner: a former British circuit racing champion, who sealed his place at this year’s Tour of Britain with victory at the Ryedale Grand Prix. Briggs won the combativity award in the 2017 Tour of Britain and raced for Pridham in 2012 and 2013.Despite a challenging financial climate, Vitus Pro Cycling Team has retained its key supporters for 2019 and attracted new, carefully selected partners with a commercial model that rewards investment with online engagement, bespoke marketing assets and B2B opportunities, as well as more traditional methods of exposure.“We’re very much looking forward to having followers of Vitus Pro Cycling Team with us in Derby at the first gathering of the 2019 Vitus Pro Cycling Team rider roster,” said Michael Kirkland, Chairman of Cherie Pridham Racing.“Our team is open, inclusive and transparent, and engaging with fans whose support means everything to our riders in races like the Tour de Yorkshire and Lincoln Grand Prix is our way of saying thanks. To welcome them to the University of Derby, a key supporter in the home of Cherie Pridham Racing, is entirely fitting.”vitusprocycling.com Relatedlast_img read more

The Greater Your Fear, the Larger the Spider

first_imgLiveScience:Fear can distort our perceptions, psychological research indicates, and creepy-crawly spiders are no different. People who are afraid of spiders see the arachnids as bigger than they actually are, recent experiments have shown.Researchers asked people who had undergone therapy to address their fear of spiders to draw a line representing the length of a tarantula they had just encountered in a lab setting.“On average, the most fearful were drawing lines about 50 percent longer than the least fearful,” said Michael Vasey, lead study researcher and professor of psychology at Ohio State University. “We have seen participants draw lines that are at least three times as long as the actual spider.”Read the whole story: LiveScience More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

Streets with no game

first_imgAeon: In 2007, the Whole Foods supermarket chain built one of their largest stores on New York City’s storied Lower East Side, occupying an entire block of East Houston Street from the Bowery to Chrystie Street. For the well-off, the abundant availability of high-quality organic foods was a welcome addition, but for the majority of locals, many of whom had roots going back generations to New York’s immigrant beginnings, the scale of the new store, selling wares that few of them could easily afford, was a symbolic affront to the traditions of this part of the city.…Behavioural effects of city street design have been reported before. In 2006, the Danish urbanist Jan Gehl observed that people walk more quickly in front of blank façades; compared with an open, active façade, people are less likely to pause or even turn their heads in such locations. They simply bear down and try to get through the unpleasant monotony of the street until they emerge on the other side, hopefully to find something more interesting.For planners concerned with making city streets more amenable and pedestrian-friendly, findings such as these have enormous implications: by simply changing the appearance and physical structure of a building’s bottom three metres, they can exert a dramatic impact on the manner in which a city is used. Not only are people more likely to walk around in cityscapes with open and lively façades, but the kinds of things that they do in such places actually changeRead the whole story: Aeon More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

Obama, Congress air cautious optimism over Zika funds

first_imgAfter an Oval Office meeting with top Senate and House leaders yesterday, President Barack Obama said he was hopeful that Zika funding would be part of an agreement to continue funding the government, a step Congress needs to take before it adjourns again at the end of the month.In other developments, Florida reported 14 more local Zika illnesses yesterday and today and new details were published about the investigation into an unusual Zika case that surfaced in Utah in July, when an elderly man apparently passed the virus to his son, who was one of his caregivers.Funding progress citedThe meeting included House and Senate leaders from both parties, and afterward, Obama told reporters that he was encouraged by work that’s being done, according to an Associated Press (AP) report.Ahead of the White House meeting, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement that members on both sides have been working on an agreement to responsibly fund the government and have already made a lot of progress. “I expect to move forward this week on a continuing resolution through December 9 at last year’s enacted levels and include funds for Zika control and our veterans,” he said.Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was cautiously optimistic that the Senate would complete its work on Zika and the continuing resolution to temporarily fund the government. “But it can happen only if Republicans are resolved to not play politics with these important issues,” he said in a statement.At a press briefing before the White House meeting, Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, addressed a question about talk that Republican lawmakers might include a Zika bill without Planned Parenthood riders that would pay for funding with cuts to other programs. He said Obama forwarded the original funding proposal, based on input from public health experts, 7 months ago and said the legislation has been bogged down in Planned Parenthood and other controversial riders.”So the President is, once again, going to make the case that that’s exactly what Republicans in Congress should do,” Earnest said. “And again, I think it’s an open question about whether or not they’ll fulfill their responsibilities. Hopefully they will.”Health officials, professional groups urge fundingAt a media telebriefing today, meanwhile, federal health officials and leaders from two doctor’s groups pushed again for Congress to approve Zika funding, with money running out amid local illnesses and affected pregnancies increasing in the continental United States and its territories.Beth Bell, MD, MPH, director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Zika funding that had been earmarked from repurposed Ebola response money is essentially all spent. She warned that critical public health may not be able to move forward, such as mosquito surveillance and multiyear studies on Zika-related birth defects. She said the funding lapse could cancel vaccine work and slow the developments of new Zika tests.”We hope they will do the right thing,” Bell said of lawmakers.Thomas Gellhaus, MD, president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said developing better and faster tests for Zika virus is an urgent need, because the method for confirming infections is often complex, with pregnant women often having to wait several weeks for results, depending on where they live.He also said women of childbearing age need options for preventing pregnancy, in light of the Zika threat. “We don’t know how to prevent Zika, but we do know how to prevent unplanned pregnancy. We need to act now and act together.”Karen Remley, MD, executive director and chief executive officer of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said babies born with congenital Zika virus infections need extensive screening and access to care in the short term, and she urged Congress to keep in mind that affected children and their families will need comprehensive support in the years ahead, given that the estimated healthcare cost per Zika-affected child is about $10 million over his or her lifetime.”This is a major public health issue, and adequate funding is very important,” she said.Local Florida cases hit 70In related news, the number of local Zika cases in Florida continues to climb, with the Florida Department of Health (Florida Health) reporting 14 more yesterday and today. Three patients are from the Wynwood transmission area, including two who were sick in late July, but officials were waiting on antibody tests to rule out other mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue and chikungunya. Another six infections are linked to the active transmission area in Miami Beach.Four new patients are Miami-Dade County residents, and health officials are still investigating where they were exposed to the virus. One of the patients is a Palm Beach County resident, apparently representing the fourth local case from that area, and efforts are under way to pinpoint where he or she was infected.The new cases lift Florida’s local case total to 70. Yesterday the agency reported seven more travel-related cases, including the first in Nassau County. The state now has 621 imported Zika cases.In related developments and as if to underscore the concerns health officials voiced today, pregnant women in Miami-Dade County are facing major delays in learning the results of Zika tests, which the state is offering for free, with a large number of women taking them up on the offer, the New York Times reported yesterday.Florida announced the testing offer on Aug 3, and according to the Times, many women are waiting at least 4 or 5 weeks for their test results. Sources linked the delays to a variety of reasons: complicated testing protocols, bureaucratic problems, and lack of resources.Doctors worry that the delays are adding to the stress of pregnancies and complicating decisions on carrying or terminating pregnancies, according to the Times.Florida is monitoring 86 pregnant women who are infected with Zika virus.Utah case hints at body fluid risks in severe infectionsThe Utah case involved an elderly man with underlying health conditions who contracted a Zika infection during travel abroad. The illness in the man’s son was unusual, because it didn’t involve sexual transmission, triggering an intense investigation by Utah health officials and the CDC into how the younger man was exposed and if any others were infected or if the virus was circulating in local mosquito populations.The team published the preliminary results of their investigation today in an early online edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).According to the report, the son had cared for his father for several days, and a blood sample from the elderly man obtained 2 days before he died from septic shock revealed Zika viral load that was 100,000 times higher than normal for infected patients.Nineteen family contacts who lived in the same household or had contact with the man’s body fluids were interviewed and tested, including 13 who—like the son—had hugged the man and kissed his face. The son had assisted hospital staff with the man’s care on one occasion, but didn’t have direct contact with his stool. No other Zika infections were detected in any of the other family contacts.Healthcare workers (86) and residents of 238 households within a 200-meter radius of the two homes the older man stayed in before he died were interviewed and offered Zika testing. Antibody testing is under way for all who submitted blood samples, and urine samples were collected for anyone reporting Zika-like symptoms in the 14 days before their interviews. As of Aug 22, no other Zika infections have been detected.Mosquito surveillance near the two homes is under way, and adult mosquitoes are being analyzed and tested for Zika virus. So far no Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes—the two types known to carry the virus—have been identified.The investigators said though it’s not clear how the younger man was infected, he had close contact with his father while the elder man’s viral load was very high.The researchers warned that family contacts should be aware that blood and other body fluids of severely ill Zika infections might be infectious. They also said the case underscores the importance of contact precautions for health providers working with all patients, including those who have possible Zika virus infection.See also:Sep 12 AP storySep 12 Mitch McConnell statementSep 12 Harry Reid statementSep 12 White House briefing transcriptSep 12 Florida Health daily Zika updateSep 13 Florida Health daily Zika updateSep 12 New York Times storySep 13 MMWR reportlast_img read more

News Scan for Aug 27, 2018

first_imgUSDA issues alert over raw chicken tied to Salmonella illnessesThe US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Empire Kosher Poultry, Inc. late last week issued a public health alert over Salmonella illnesses in several states that might be tied to raw chicken products.FSIS was notified of multiple Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- illnesses in northeastern  and mid-Atlantic states on Jun 18. “Working in conjunction with public health partners, FSIS determined that there is a potential link between Empire Kosher brand raw chicken products and this illness cluster,” the agency said in a news release. “Based on available epidemiological information, multiple case-patients have been identified in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States, many of whom reported consumption of Empire Kosher brand chicken products.”The Empire Kosher brand raw chicken items include whole chicken and chicken parts that were produced and sold from September 2017 to June 2018. Officials issued the alert “out of an abundance of caution.” FSIS did not specify the number of cases, and Empire, of Mifflintown, Pa., has not recalled its products at this point.About half of affected patients have been hospitalized, and illness-onset dates range from September 2017 to June 2018. “FSIS continues to work with the company and public health partners and will provide updated information should it become available,” the agency said.The FSIS recommends cooking raw poultry to 165°F before eating it.Aug 24 FSIS news release Senate passes big spending bill with increased public health fundingLate last week the US Senate passed an $857-billion “minibus” package for the fiscal year beginning on Oct 1 that increases National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding by 5.4% ($2 billion) to $39.1 billion and includes historic amounts for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other departments.The bill, which also funds the departments of education, defense, and ;abor, is considered a bipartisan success, passing on a vote of 85-7, according to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology (GEN) News. The House has until Sep 30 to pass the bill.The bill includes $550 million dedicated to the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB), up $37 million from last year’s budget.The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) would get $562 million, up $25 million from last year, and $120 million would go toward funding research on a universal flu vaccine. That’s $20 million more than was designated in last year’s budget.According to a story published by Medpage Today, NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, said at a Senate hearing on the bill that the funds will allow for 1,100 new grants to first-time investigators through the Next Generation Researchers Initiative.Other proposals include $425 million for Alzheimer’s research and $190 million for cancer research. An additional $3.7 billion will go toward targeting the opioid abuse crisis, including increasing spending on mental health services, and funding research for the development of non-opioid painkillers. Aug 24 GEN News storyAug 24 Medpage Today story PAHO urges measles vaccination ramp-up in South AmericaWith an ongoing measles outbreak in Venezuela, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) urged member states to aggressively vaccinate against the disease.”It is vital that we continue vaccinating in order to reach more than 95% of our children everywhere,” said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne, MD, in a press release. “We must also strengthen national epidemiological surveillance and establish rapid response teams to expeditiously manage suspected cases, prevent new cases and halt outbreaks. These measures to sustain elimination were agreed to by Ministers of Health in 2017. These commitments must be renewed.”Endemic transmission of measles was reestablished in Venezuela in 2017. As of Aug 20 of this year, Venezuela confirmed 3,545 cases of measles, including 62 deaths.Although measles remains eliminated from all other PAHO countries, 10 countries in South America besides Venezuela have reported 1,459 confirmed cases of measles and 6 deaths since the outbreak in Venezuela began: Antigua and Barbuda (1 case), Argentina (8), Brazil (1,237, including 6 deaths), Canada (19), Colombia (60), Ecuador (17), Guatemala (1), Mexico (5), Peru (4), and the United States (107).In Brazil, most cases have been connected to the Venezuelan outbreak.The current outbreak in South America occurred just 1 year after World Health Organization Americas Region became the first in the world to obtain the measles elimination certification. Most countries in the region reported their last endemic cases more than 18 years ago, PAHO said. Aug 24 PAHO press release Aug 20 PAHO epidemiologic updatelast_img read more

ICO looks into private detective report obtained by Djanogly

first_imgThe Information Commissioner’s Office has confirmed that it is looking into a complaint concerning information obtained by private detectives instructed by justice minister Jonathan Djanogly. However, a spokeswoman for the ICO said press reports that the minister had been reported to the commission, or that he is being investigated, were not correct. Last year it was revealed that Djanogly had paid private detectives to investigate aides and colleagues in his Huntingdon constituency, to find out the source of media reports about his parliamentary expenses. Labour MP John Mann made a complaint to the ICO in relation to the information obtained by the private detectives. The ICO spokeswoman said: ‘We are looking into a complaint that we have received. We need to establish whether the information that was obtained was information of a personal nature.’ She said that if no personal information was obtained by the private detectives, there will have been no breach of the Data Protection Act and nothing further for the ICO to look into. Djanogly said: ‘It is not true to state that the Information Commissioner’s Office have started an official investigation into this matter.’ He said it was not clear what the relevance of the ICO could be in this case. Djanogly said: ‘As I said when the issue first arose last year, I would never have condoned anything unlawful and dishonest in the investigations, and the investigators have assured me that all of their inquiries were carried out in an entirely lawful manner.’ When the fact that he had hired private investigators was reported in the press, Djanogly said: ‘Following malicious allegations made against me in newspapers last year, I felt I had to find out who was spreading these untrue stories about me. ‘I instructed a firm of private investigators to try to find out the source of these stories because I was extremely upset that my private family life had been invaded.’ He added: ‘I am sorry if some people judge that I made a mistake. With hindsight I can see that I may have overreacted, but I was being subjected to very malicious, anonymous attacks on my family.’last_img read more