Day: February 24, 2020

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Drugmaker Delivers First Vaccine for Human Testing…


Drugmaker Moderna Inc. has shipped the first batch of its rapidly developed coronavirus vaccine to U.S. government researchers, who will launch the first human tests of whether the experimental shot could help suppress the epidemic originating in China.

Moderna on Monday sent vaccine vials from its Norwood, Mass., manufacturing plant to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md., the company said. The institute expects by the end of April to start a clinical trial of about 20 to 25 healthy…



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POLL: Biden holds narrow lead in SC…


WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are locked in a tight contest in South Carolina, according to a new NBC News/Marist poll ahead of the state’s Feb. 29 Democratic primary.

Biden gets the support of 27 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in South Carolina, while Sanders gets 23 percent — well within the poll’s margin of error of plus-minus 6 percentage points.

They’re followed by billionaire activist Tom Steyer at 15 percent, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 9 percent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., at 8 percent and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., at 5 percent.

No other candidate gets more than 3 percent in the poll.

The survey was conducted Feb. 18 to Feb. 21 — before the results from Saturday’s Nevada caucuses, which Sanders easily won, beating Biden by more than a 2-to-1 margin.

Steyer’s double-digit showing comes as he’s spent approximately $20 million on TV and radio ads in the state, according to ad-spending data from Advertising Analytics, which is nearly 10 times more than the second-biggest advertiser (Buttigieg).

“South Carolina closes the chapter on the first phase of the presidential sweepstakes,” says Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll for NBC News.

“Will Biden come off the canvas? Will Sanders continue his charge to Super Tuesday? Will someone else emerge as a top-tier candidate?”

In this new NBC News/Marist poll, Biden performs best among likely voters who are moderates (getting support from 38 percent of them), African American (35 percent) and those 45 or older (34 percent).

Sanders does best among those younger than 45 (40 percent) and self-described progressives (34 percent).

And while Sanders trails Biden among African-American likely voters, the margin is closer than it was four years ago — Biden gets 35 percent, Sanders gets 20 percent and Steyer is at 19 percent.

In 2016, by comparison, Hillary Clinton crushed Sanders among African-American voters, 86 percent to 14 percent, according to the exit poll.

Clinton won the state by nearly 50 points in the primary four years ago.

Buttigieg, meanwhile, struggles with African-American voters, getting support from just 4 percent of them, versus 17 percent among white South Carolina Democratic primary voters.

Also in the poll, 72 percent of Sanders backers say they strongly support the Vermont senator, versus 61 percent for Biden’s supporters and 60 percent for Steyer’s.

And 47 percent of likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters say a candidate who comes closest to them on the issues is their most important consideration, and Sanders wins 29 percent of these voters, while Biden gets 18 percent and Steyer gets 14 percent.

By contrast, 44 percent say that the candidate who has the best chance of defeating Trump is most important to them, and Biden gets 35 percent of these voters, while Sanders gets 17 percent.

GOP still holds the advantage in South Carolina

Turning to the general election in November, 53 percent of all registered voters in the state approve of President Donald Trump’s job, while 41 percent disapprove.

Republicans also enjoy a double-digit advantage in congressional preference in the GOP-leaning state, with 53 percent of all voters saying they prefer a Republican-controlled Congress, while 35 percent want Democrats in charge.

And in a hypothetical Senate matchup for November, incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., leads likely Democratic challenger Jamie Harrison by 17 points among registered voters, 54 percent to 37 percent.

The NBC News/Marist poll of South Carolina was conducted Feb. 18-21 of 2,382 registered voters, which has a margin of error of plus-minus 2.6 percentage points.

The margin of error for the 539 likely Democratic primary voters is plus-minus 6.0 percentage points.



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TRUMP: 'Under control'…


President TrumpDonald John TrumpAdvisor: Sanders could beat Trump in Texas Bloomberg rips Sanders over Castro comments What coronavirus teaches us for preventing the next big bio threat MORE asserted Monday that the coronavirus is “very much under control” in the United States, even as stock markets plunged amid concerns about the spread of the virus.

“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries,” Trump, who is traveling on official business in India, tweeted. “CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,031 points on Monday, one of its largest single-day drops in terms of points, as concerns rose about the spread of the coronavirus beyond China.

Trump has sought to project confidence in the steps his administration has taken to contain and mitigate the outbreak as cases are reported in the U.S. and at times has seemed to downplay the threat.

The White House is expected to ask Congress for emergency funding to combat the virus, which is believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, though it’s unclear yet how much.

There have been a handful of confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S., but it is not spreading among the general public. A number of countries, including Italy and Iran, reported considerable increases in confirmed cases over the weekend.

The Trump administration set up a coronavirus task force in late January and implemented a quarantine and travel restrictions in order to mitigate the spread of the virus. White House principal deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters at the White House earlier Monday that Trump continues to be briefed on the topic daily.

“The president’s concerns are always the safety and security of the American people, and so in this instance, because he has taken such aggressive action, because he does continue to receive briefings on a daily basis, he just wants to ensure the spread of this virus does not move quickly in this country at all,” Gidley said.  



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Shaq Drops F-Bomb…



Shaq Drops F-Bomb...

(Third column, 8th story, link)


Related stories:
Beyonce bans photos of her performance during Kobe memorial…
Michael Jordan Cries…





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Beyonce bans photos of her performance during Kobe memorial…


Photographers were forbidden from taking snaps of Beyoncé during her performance at Kobe Bryant’s memorial in Los Angeles on Monday, according to several photo agencies.

Editors at the Associated Press and Getty Images told The Post that organizers of the live-streamed Staples Center event prohibited them from taking photos of the Grammy-winning singer or Bryant’s children.

The pop superstar kicked off the memorial to the Lakers legend and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, by performing her hit songs “XO” and “Halo.”

One insider at the event said, “It is so offensive to Kobe’s family and the fans, Beyonce is so controlling of her image — she usually only allows approved selected images of her to be released — so no photographers at the Kobe memorial were allowed to take her picture. Really, at a memorial? Not even the family of Michael Jackson did that.

“A Staples Center staffer was dispatched to make sure not a single camera was focused on the stage. The photographers couldn’t believe it. This doesn’t help Beyonce’s image at all, it hurts her. It makes her look like a diva. The memorial wasn’t about her. The only shots of Bey that did emerge were screen grabs from TV. None of the other artists at the memorial asked for this, not Christina Aguilera, not Alicia Keys.”

Representatives for Beyoncé did not immediately return a request for comment.

Beyonce’s publicist has previously targeted media outlets demanding “unflattering” pictures of the singer be removed online.



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Michael Jordan Cries…


Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are often mentioned in the same breath when it comes to the greatest NBA players ever. It certainly wasn’t surprising that Jordan spoke at Bryant’s memorial service on Monday. He provided some comic relief while he was expressing his love for Bryant at the Staples Center.

The Chicago Bulls legend was emotional and crying before and while giving his speech. He lightened the mood by bringing up the “Crying Jordan” meme.

“Now he’s got me. I’m gonna have to look at another crying meme,” Jordan said. “I told my wife that I wasn’t going to do this because I didn’t want to see that for the next three or more years. That is what Kobe Bryant does to me.”

For several years, the “Crying Jordan” meme was often used to poke fun at athletes that may have had a blunder in a big game. The original photo of Jordan crying was taken back in 2009 during Jordan’s speech at his Pro Basketball Hall of Fame induction. When a player struggles in a big-time situation, they receive the “Crying Jordan” meme treatment. It’s great to see that Jordan himself is willing to joke about it.

It was truly a light-hearted moment during the beautiful service and Jordan absolutely captivated the audience with an uplifting speech. It was hilarious to see Jordan have a little bit of fun at his own expense while also paying tribute to one of the greatest basketball players that the world has ever seen.

This was a moment of one spectacular competitor honoring another, and to throw in a joke like that was something special.



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PAPER: Political conventions could be cancelled…



PAPER: Political conventions could be cancelled...

(Second column, 4th story, link)


Related stories:
As Fears of Pandemic Mount, W.H.O. Says World Not Ready…
Virus pushes beyond Asia, taking aim at Europe, Mideast…
CRAMER: Impact on companies more severe than thought…
Lab monkeys infected in desperate bid to find vaccine…
Cases skyrocket in Italy…
STORE SHELVES EMPTY AS PANIC BUYING HITS…
Fear Grips SKorea Amid Mounting Cases…
Thousands line up to buy face masks in astonishing drone footage…
Iran Denies Cover-Up After Lawmaker Contradicts Official Figures…





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Cardiology director: Sanders not disclosing heart measure…


WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has resisted calls to release additional medical information in the wake of a heart attack he suffered in October.

“We have released as much” medical information “as any other candidate,” the Vermont senator told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” earlier this month.

When pressed on whether he would release more, Sanders responded that, “you can start releasing medical records and it never ends.”

But by releasing one simple indicator of his heart health, Sanders could address some lingering questions, the president of the American College of Cardiology, Richard Kovacs, tells NBC News.

Following Sanders’ heart attack, doctors inserted two stents in an artery and he was hospitalized for several days. After promising to release “comprehensive” records after the procedure, his campaign balked, saying no more information would be forthcoming.

“We released the full report of that heart attack,” Sanders said at last week’s NBC News/MSNBC debate, pointing to letters from three doctors the campaign distributed in December, which are not the same as medical records.

Kovacs, who reviewed the letters for NBC News, said they omit a “standard” measure of Sanders’ heart health.

That indicator, called the left ventricular ejection fraction, is provided to any patient after a heart attack, Kovacs said. It’s a measure of how much blood volume the heart pushes out with an individual heartbeat and it correlates with the risk for future cardiac events and mortality rate.

“Normally the heart will push out 60 percent,” Kovacs said. “If you go down to 40 or 50 percent, we regard that as mild impairment of the left ventricle. Thirty to 40 percent would be moderate. If you get to 30 percent, that would be severe.”

Sanders hasn’t revealed what the number was at the time of his heart attack nor what it is today. Campaign spokesman Mike Casca, responding to questions from NBC News, declined to provide the ejection fraction number to NBC. The doctors’ letters “are pretty comprehensive,” Casca told NBC News.

The letters, Kovacs said, “imply with the heart attack that he (Sanders) had diminished heart muscle strength,” or a lowered fraction. Still, the letters provided by his doctors also suggest he’s improved since then.

“Full transparency would be to release his ejection fraction,” agreed Dr. Hadley Wilson, an ACC board trustee and cardiologist at the Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“A subsequent stress test in January and the other information about his clinical response were all very positive and encouraging,” Wilson said. “I don’t really know” why Sanders wouldn’t release it, he added, offering that it could be over concern it could be “misconstrued” in the broader clinical picture. “It is an important baseline but it does have to be taken into the whole clinical context,” including the fact that Sanders hasn’t had additional incidents, which is all positive, he said.

Sanders is not a patient of Kovacs and Kovacs said he would not comment specifically on his condition. But he did note that presidents routinely release the results of similar health benchmarks like cholesterol and colonoscopy readings.

“It’s a patient’s personal private information but there’s the importance of the number,” Kovacs said.

One letter released by the campaign, from University of Vermont cardiologist Martin LeWinter, called Sanders’ heart function “stable and well preserved” but omits the number.

“I don’t know what that means but it’s not the ejection fraction which is just a simple number,” Kovacs said. “They’ve chosen not to reveal the ejection fraction.”

In another letter, Brian Monahan, attending physician at the U.S. Capitol and Sanders’ primary care doctor, said Sanders is in “good health” and that he has stopped taking several medications that were required after the heart attack.

Yet the ejection fraction rate would be a good indicator of the progress of Sanders’ recovery, Kovacs said.

“That is a number that we routinely obtain that is important for guiding therapy,” Kovacs said. “I say here is your ejection fraction and here’s what we will need to do down the line.”



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Key To Curing Cancerous Brain Tumors — Could Be Dogs…


BAR HARBOR, Maine — In order to better understand and treat cancer, researchers often turn to experimental models that allow thorough observation and experimentation without the involvement of actual human patients. Common examples of these practices include cancer cells placed in a dish to more complex strategies like tumors being transplanted into lab mice for observation. Unfortunately, this approach isn’t efficient in all types of cancers, due to the fact that it is impossible for researchers to recreate the exact conditions of the human body within an external environment.

Now, a new study conducted at Jackson Laboratory may have found a novel way to study and analyze one of the historically hardest to treat forms of cancer in humans: Diffuse glioma, or the most common form of brain tumor. Researchers say studying and treating brain tumors in dogs will lead to effective treatment options for humans, especially children.

Brain tumors appear in domesticated dogs about as often as in humans, and just like among people, they are notoriously difficult to treat. On that note, caring for a dog suffering from a brain tumor can be very difficult for his or her family. With this in mind the research team say that dogs in this situation may benefit from experimental tumor treatments.

However, it wasn’t previously known how similar dog brain tumors are to human brain tumors. So to start, the study’s authors gathered 83 posthumous dog tumor samples for molecular examination. Then, they compared the results of their analysis to brain tumor information collected from both child and adult brain tumor patients. Indeed, they noted quite a few striking similarities between dog brain tumors and tumors seen in human adults as well as children.

These similarities included mutations in certain genes and pathways, including the DNA repair system that is always changed in human brain tumors. Similar fluctuations in the number of chromosomes were also observed. Most notably, brain tumors seen in dogs are especially similar to tumors seen in human children, even more so than adult brain tumors.

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The study’s authors also examined how closely canines’ immune responses to brain tumors mimicked that of humans. Again, it was observed that dogs’ immunological response to a spontaneous brain tumor closely resembled what happens in human bodies.

This is especially helpful because, while immunotherapies in human medicine have shown great promise in cancer treatment, it’s been difficult to achieve high patient response rates. Incorporating immunotherapies into dog treatments may be an innovative and effective way to measure their overall effectiveness in both dogs and people.

All of the similarities between human and canine brain tumors point to these cancers “adapting” to the same environmental pressures experienced by both species. Of course, a dog’s lifespan is much shorter than a human’s, with the old adage stating that one human year of aging represents the equivalent of seven dog years. As such, the dog tumor samples used in this study didn’t show as many mutations as tumors examined from human adults. Instead, the dog tumors much more closely resembled adolescent human brain tumors. This aspect of canine brain tumors may prove useful in studying the role of age when it comes to fighting tumors.

All in all, the research team believe their findings indicate that if a cure for canine brain tumors can be developed, it would in all likelihood be very effective against brain tumors seen in human children as well.

The study is published in Cancer Cell.


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Second-Least Snowy Winter Ever…


BOSTON (CBS) — This winter has been ridiculous. All three winter months will finish with well above average temperatures. January was the third warmest on record. February will finish in the top five warmest on record. The winter months of Dec-Jan-Feb combined will finish in the top three warmest on record.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

The combination of January and February 2020 will go in the books as the second-least snowy (3.6”). .  . we haven’t had less snow in Jan-Feb combined since 1937!

So that begs the question. . . is winter over? Can we stick a fork in it? Or, will March smack us in the face (as it so often does) and leave a mark on what otherwise would have been a warm and snowless winter.

Let’s look at what the statistics say.

If you simply take the top 10 warmest Februarys in Boston and look at the month of March that followed, seven out of 10 stayed the course and had a warmer than average March. Five of the 10 had significantly warm months of March ranging 3 to nearly 10 degrees above the average! So by this measure, ODDS FAVOR A WARM MARCH.

OK, what if we take the top 10 warmest winters (Dec-Jan-Feb) on record in Boston and look at the March that followed? Similar story. . . six of the 10 had warmer than average months of March, again many were way over the average. So, add another check in the ODDS FAVOR A WARM MARCH column.

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How about snow? Glad you asked! When looking back at the top 10 least snowy February’s and then the March that followed, we find a similar trend. Seven of the 10 months of March had below average snowfall (most were way below). So, by this measure, ODDS FAVOR LOW MARCH SNOWFALL.

So, if you just go by the numbers, I would say we have about a 60-70% chance of continuing the trend of warm and low snow this March.

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Now, of course it isn’t that simple. Each of these years had different stories to tell, entirely different atmospheric setups from El Nino to La Nina, etc.

No two years are alike and the setup this winter is vastly different than many of the other warm winters when you take into account everything happening globally (from ocean temperatures to Polar Vortex).

So, there is certainly a bit more value in looking at the current overall weather pattern as we head into March and trying to see if any large scale changes are coming. The answer there is a resounding NO.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

This winter has been ruled by a very tight Polar Vortex over the North Pole, trapping much of the real cold up north. Also, a persistent Alaskan trough has kept Alaska cold but had the opposite reaction in the U.S. flooding us with mild, Pacific based air.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

Both of these features show no signs of relenting in March. The storm track looks to remain to our west, meaning mainly rain storms here in southern New England followed by a few days of cold. Just like the last few months, when the cold air does come, it is here for a brief spell and gone before the next storm arrives.

Maybe, just maybe, we will be golfing and hitting the soccer and baseball fields earlier this year.

Famous last words? We shall see.

Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ



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