Category: Opinion

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Billionaire wealth falls first time since '15…


ZURICH (Reuters) – The world’s richest people became a little less well off last year, according to a report by UBS (UBSG.S) and PwC, as geopolitical turmoil and volatile equity markets reduced the wealth of billionaires for the first time since 2015.

Billionaires’ wealth fell by 4.3% globally to $8.5 trillion last year, the UBS/PwC report found, with a sharp decline in Greater China, including Hong Kong, and the Asia-Pacific region more broadly.

Private wealth in Hong Kong fell 4% in 2018 to $319.8 billion, the report showed, with months of anti-government protests in the Chinese-ruled city and an economic recession clouding the outlook this year.

Some Hong Kong tycoons have begun moving personal wealth offshore, Reuters reported in June, as concerns deepen over the protests.

“We haven’t seen any significant outflows, we have been tracking some of these numbers on a regular basis,” said Amy Lo, UBS co-head of Asia Pacific wealth management. “Our clients have been diversifying all along, it’s not in the last one year.”

Private banks including the world’s largest wealth manager UBS have felt the effects of U.S.-China trade tensions and global political uncertainties, as clients last year shied away from trading and taking on debt in favor of hoarding cash.

The net worth of China’s richest dropped 12.8% in dollar terms on the back of tumbling stock markets, a weaker local currency and a slowdown in growth, the report found, knocking dozens off the billionaires list.

Despite the drop, China still produces a new billionaire every 2-2.5 days, UBS’s head of ultra-high net worth clients, Josef Stadler, said in the report released on Friday.

Worldwide, the number of billionaires fell everywhere except in the Americas, where tech entrepreneurs continued to buoy the ranks of the United States’ wealthiest.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen at an office building in Zurich, Switzerland January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

“This report shows the resilience of the U.S. economy,” where there were 749 billionaires at the end of 2018, said John Matthews, head of private wealth management and ultra-high net worth business for UBS in the United States.

While a stock market recovery from a steep drop in late 2018 has helped wealth managers increase their assets, the world’s richest families remain concerned about global affairs from trade tensions and Brexit to populism and climate change and are keeping more of their money in cash.

“It is likely that billionaire wealth will go up again this year,” said Simon Smiles, UBS’s chief investment officer for ultra-wealthy clients, adding it would likely be a more muted increase than the wider financial market rally might suggest.

Reporting by Angelika Gruber and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Additional reporting by Elizabeth Dilts and Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Mark Potter and Giles Elgood

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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IVANKA ON IMPEACHMENT…


RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Ivanka Trump brushed off criticism that her family has profited off the presidency and said Friday a big difference between her family and Democrat Joe Biden’s is that President Donald Trump amassed his fortune before he entered politics while Biden’s wealth is “derivative” of his time in office.

In an interview with The Associated Press, she said the two situations were “completely inverse.”

In New Hampshire, Biden responded that the president’s daughter should look at his tax returns for evidence he didn’t cash in as vice president or a legislator.

Ivanka Trump, a White House adviser, pushed back against nearly three years of ethics complaints and lawsuits accusing the Trumps of trying to turn the presidency to their financial advantage. The president and his allies have tried to tarnish Biden by making similar but unfounded claims about Biden’s tenure as vice president and his son Hunter’s activities in Ukraine during that time.

Biden’s son, Hunter, served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company as his father led the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kyiv. Although anti-corruption advocates expressed concern about the timing, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president or his son.

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Biden spent more than 30 years representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate before serving eight years as vice president and Ivanka Trump said he “created wealth as a derivative of that.”

Her father entered politics after making a fortune in real estate.

“His wealth, and our wealth, collectively and independently, was created prior to government service and prior to anyone in our lives having run for elected office,” Ivanka Trump said.

“Most people do create their wealth post service. We created ours prior,” she added.

Members of Congress must follow strict rules while in office to avoid financial and other conflicts of interest. Many pursue higher-paying opportunities after they leave office.

Biden was consistently among the poorest members of Congress, relying largely on his lawmaker’s salary, according to his annual financial disclosure forms.

But he has seen his income grow since leaving the White House in 2017. A financial disclosure form Biden released this year shows he and his wife, Jill, took in more than $15 million since leaving the Obama White House, including a lucrative book deal.

“Tell her to look at my tax returns,” Biden responded from New Hampshire, where he filed paperwork to appear on the ballot next year. “I’ve laid it all out — everything,” he added before calling on Trump to release his own income tax returns.

Government watchdogs have criticized Trump for unethically mixing official business with promotion of his own interests.

Trump is the first president in modern history who has not walled himself off from his business holdings. He makes frequent trips to his for-profit golf clubs, collects dues at his members-only properties and hosts fundraisers and foreign delegations at hotels that bear his family’s name.

Ivanka Trump spoke in a wide-ranging AP interview as she wrapped up a three-day visit to Morocco, where she promoted U.S. efforts to help empower women in developing countries.

Speaking about the House impeachment inquiry from half a world away, she echoed her father’s view that the investigation is aimed at overturning the 2016 election that put him in the White House.

But she parted ways with him by saying the identity of the whistleblower whose complaint helped spark the investigation is “not particularly relevant.”

President Trump and some of his allies lately have been pressing mainstream journalists to publicize the whistleblower’s name. The president has also sent tweets calling on the individual to come forward.

But Ivanka Trump said the person’s motives were more important than knowing their identity. She declined to speculate about what led the individual to lodge a formal complaint.

“The whistleblower shouldn’t be a substantive part of the conversation,” she told AP, saying the person “did not have firsthand information.”

She said the individual’s identity is not “particularly relevant” to her, “aside from what the motivation behind all of this was.”

She noted that the whistleblower was not among administration officials who heard the president ask Ukraine’s leader during a July 25 telephone conversation to investigate Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination to challenge Trump.

Ivanka Trump said her family has faced constant criticism since her father became president and that impeachment is part of that pattern. House Democrats counter that the inquiry is about whether Trump abused his office by putting his political interests first.

“Rather than wait, under a year, until the people can decide for themselves based on his record and based on his accomplishments, this new effort has, has commenced,” she said. “But to us, it’s really been like this from the beginning.”

She said she has not been reading transcripts of the depositions that current and former administration officials have given impeachment investigators.

As for the future, Ivanka Trump said she had yet to decide on what role she will play in her father’s re-election campaign.

And on the question of whether she also wants four more years at the White House, the mother of three said the answer would largely depend on the needs of her children.

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Associated Press writer Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.

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Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap



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All-Female Village Evacuated as Turkish Forces Advance…


The village of Jinwar in northeastern Syria, an unusual community consisting entirely of women and children, was reportedly evacuated on Monday as Turkish forces continued to advance despite a cease-fire agreement.

Kurdistan24 News described Jinwar as a village “set up by local women’s groups and international volunteers a few years ago to create a peaceful space for women who want to live out of family-orientated roles and patriarchal society.” 

Some of the residents are women whose husbands died fighting the Islamic State, while others say they relocated to escape from rigid social structures, or to keep custody of children their extended families wanted to take from them.

The name of the village literally translates to “women’s land” in Kurdish. Its population was never meant to be entirely Kurdish, however. 

“We built a village not only for Kurdish women, but we have Arab, we have Yazidi and some of our foreign friends are also living with us,” one of the founders told CNN in May.

At that time, the full-time population of the tiny settlement included 16 women and 32 children, living in houses they built themselves from mud bricks. More recent reports suggest the population has roughly doubled since then.

“It was a very hard moment and made us all very sad angry. Jinwar is part of the achievement of women in this region and part of the women’s revolution that has been realized by so many women here in the last years,” a female foreign volunteer from Jinwar told Kurdistan24.

The volunteer said the women of Jinwar took temporary refuge in other villages. “As soon as possible, all of us are returning to the village. We are supporting each other, we will continue to resist!” a Jinwar resident vowed.

Reports from other cities and villages in the region say the Turkish invaders and allied Syrian militia have continued pushing deeper into Kurdish territory in defiance of the cease-fire agreement, moving closer to a conflict with Syrian army forces dispatched to the region. 

The Turkish advances have been accompanied by artillery fire considered threatening to civilians in the area. The Turks, in turn, say their units and allied forces have come under artillery fire from Kurdish positions. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed on Thursday that promises to clear Kurdish militia units regarded as terrorists by Turkey from the border region have not been fulfilled.



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Texas Gov to Establish Camp for Homeless in Austin…


Escalating his feud with Austin city leaders over how to address the Texas capital’s problem of homelessness, Gov. Greg Abbott is planning to begin housing homeless people on state land.

The announcement comes just days after state officials began clearing people out from underpasses Monday, a move taken in opposition to the policy the city council adopted this summer allowing camping in public, which raised the visibility of the city’s homeless population.

Mr. Abbott’s office said Thursday that it will begin allowing people to camp on a 5-acre plot of state-owned land in southeastern Austin. The property will have portable restrooms, hand-washing stations and an agreement from local charities to service meals there, said John Wittman, a spokesman for the Republican.

“This is the governor following through on his commitment,” Mr. Wittman said. “He said he would clean up downtown.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he appreciated any assistance in responding to homelessness in Austin, but said the city’s efforts will remain on finding permanent housing for people. City staff members over the summer recommended against putting resources toward designated camps, saying they often end up becoming permanent and taking effort away from permanent solutions.

“Ultimately, we don’t want people camping anywhere,” Mr. Adler said.

Before Monday’s clearing out of the state-controlled underpasses, Mr. Abbott had for months threatened state intervention and encouraged constituents to tweet videos of homeless people behaving badly in Austin, signaling his displeasure with the city’s policies. Austin council members and advocates for the homeless criticized him for pushing people with nowhere else to go into hiding.

The plan announced Thursday provides a new option, Mr. Wittman said, though he emphasized it is a short-term solution.

Austin Chamber of Commerce representatives, meanwhile, announced a longer-term effort Thursday to address homelessness. The chamber said it is forming a coalition with faith-based partners to try to raise $14 million to build and operate one or more shelters that can hold about 150 bunk beds.

The Austin city council adopted a policy this summer to allow camping in public, which raised the visibility of the city’s homeless population.


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Bob Daemmrich/Zuma Press

Both new efforts could have political implications on an issue where Mr. Abbott and other Republican leaders have accused the liberal city government of failing in leadership. Conservative state leaders have in recent years railed against Texas’ left-leaning major cities, focusing legislative efforts on overturning local ordinances.

On homelessness, Mr. Abbott has found increasing support from some city residents who say they are frustrated with the growing impact of homeless people.

Austin’s debate mirrors others around the country. President Donald Trump has threatened federal action against California cities for their high homelessness numbers. In Las Vegas, an ordinance passed Wednesday evening to outlaw public camping—the opposite of what Austin did—drew opposition this week from Democratic presidential contenders including South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro.

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BLOOMBERG journalists 'unnerved'…


In conversations with POLITICO, current and former Bloomberg employees recalled the company’s struggles in 2016 as Bloomberg flirted with running for president, a situation made even more complicated by the company’s restrictions on covering Bloomberg the man and the organization.

Then, last year, Bloomberg mused in a Radio Iowa interview that he might sell his company or even cease political coverage if he decided to run for president in 2020. He initially declined to enter the race, before reportedly preparing to file papers for the Alabama primary, which has an early filing deadline.

“As long as he keeps doing this Hamlet-on-the-Hudson routine — he might get in, he might not get in — it really tortures the journalists working there,” Missouri journalism professor Kathy Kiely told POLITICO. “This is the time you want to be getting your feet under you, developing sources, setting up plans for coverage of the campaign.”

But Bloomberg “becomes an X factor and you don’t know what the landscape is going to look like for you and what you can cover,” said Kiely, who believes the company’s reporters should “cover Michael Bloomberg just like any other candidate.”

Kiely, a former Bloomberg politics editor, quit that position in early 2016 out of frustration with not being able to aggressively cover Bloomberg’s political ambitions. She sees the newsroom constrained again heading into 2020.

“He’s hired terrific reporters, he has great editors, and then he goes and handcuffs them,” said Kiely, who suggests building a firewall between the potential candidate and the newsroom.

“Decide you want to be a publisher or a presidential candidate,” she added, “but you can’t do both and have a credible organization.”

As a matter of policy, Bloomberg News — which is part of financial and data juggernaut Bloomberg LP — does not cover Bloomberg’s “wealth or personal life” and “doesn’t originate stories about the company.” For instance, the company didn’t report on Bloomberg returning as CEO in 2014 after serving three four-year terms as mayor of New York City, news which broke in The New York Times.

Bloomberg News City Hall reporter Henry Goldman covered Bloomberg’s time in office, but the newsroom did not deeply investigate the mayor and local city news has never been a major part of the global organization.

The race for the presidency, and the presidency itself, is a more consequential story for Bloomberg News, which employs many journalists focused on national politics and policy issues like taxes, health care, and the environment. It’s hard to see how cutting out “politics” wouldn’t impact a wide range of beats domestically and internationally, as well as the financial markets, which are a core Bloomberg News coverage area.

Bloomberg continues to serve subscribers of its high-priced terminals with up-to-the-second financial information, while also expanding its media footprint in recent years with magazines, like Bloomberg Businessweek, and through commentary and analysis at Bloomberg Opinion.

For now, journalists are reading Bloomberg’s comments in Iowa last year like tea leaves. In the radio interview, Bloomberg suggested putting the company in a blind trust or selling it. He reiterated that the company has “always had a policy that we don’t cover ourselves” and joked about how he didn’t want “reporters I’m paying to write a bad story about me.”

“One of the things you could do,” if running, he said, “is you could say we’re not going to cover politics at all.”

Nonetheless, Bloomberg’s latest political move didn’t go unmentioned on Bloomberg News.

Washington bureau chief Craig Gordon wrote a short piece Thursday evening on Bloomberg’s political ambitions, though after news first broke in The New York Times.



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Medical Company Claims To Have Cure For HIV, AIDS…




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Arctic blast expected to break 170 records across USA…


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Climate change is making winters colder despite rising temperatures and hotter summers. Here’s why.
Just the FAQs, USA TODAY

Story Highlights

  • The temperature drop will be a 3-day process as a cold front charges across the central and eastern US.
  • High temperatures on Monday may be stuck in the teens and 20s in the Midwest.
  • Snow may also be in the forecast for portions of the eastern and even southern U.S.

This week’s cold snap is only an appetizer compared with the main Arctic blast that’s coming next week, meteorologists said. That freeze could be one for the record books.

“The National Weather Service is forecasting 170 potential daily record cold high temperatures Monday to Wednesday,” tweeted Weather Channel meteorologist Jonathan Erdman. “A little taste of January in November.”  

The temperature nosedive will be a three-day process as a cold front charges across the central and eastern U.S. from Sunday into Tuesday.

The front will plunge quickly through the northern Plains and upper Midwest Sunday, into the southern Plains and Ohio Valley Monday, then through most of the East Coast and Deep South by Tuesday, the Weather Channel said.

Melting ice: One of the world’s thickest mountain glaciers is melting because of global warming

SOURCE AccuWeather (Photo: USA TODAY)

High temperatures on Monday may be stuck in the teens and 20s in the Midwest and around the Great Lakes. It could be the coldest Veterans Day on record in cities such as Chicago and Minneapolis, according to the Weather Channel. 

By Tuesday, record cold is possible in the Northeast, Ohio Valley and portions of the South. Highs may get only into the 30s as far south as Alabama. 

The Florida Panhandle may shiver with lows in the 30s Wednesday and Thursday morning.

Low temperatures may fall below freezing all the way to the Gulf Coast. The most intense cold will be in the northern Plains where temperatures may fall below zero, according to AccuWeather. Gusty winds will make it feel even colder across the region, and time spent outside will need to be limited.

In addition to the cold, a storm system may develop over the central USA, AccuWeather said, bringing icy conditions to the central Plains near the dividing line of warm and cold air next week.

Snow may be in the forecast for portions of the eastern and even southern USA as the storm is likely to track in that direction into the middle of the week.

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By Friday the chill will also reach the deep south. Afternoon high temperatures Friday will be 10-20 degrees below normal for early November
Accuweather

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Traumatic tale of 16-year-old virgin forced to be sex slave at Auschwitz told in new book…


SHE was just a girl when she was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

But 16-year-old Cilka Klein’s beauty so entranced the camp commandant that he made her his sex slave.

 Cilka Klein endured ten years of horrendous conditions and sexual abuse during her time at Auschwitz

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Cilka Klein endured ten years of horrendous conditions and sexual abuse during her time at AuschwitzCredit: Getty – Contributor

Cilka, a virgin, was repeatedly raped by him and kept separately from the other prisoners.

While in Auschwitz she had a degree of privilege, including extra food rations and warmer clothes, but that came at a huge cost.

When the camps were liberated in January 1945, Cilka was charged as a collaborator by the Russians and sent to Vorkuta, a brutal prison camp in Siberia.

For ten years, Cilka endured horrific conditions, including more sexual assaults.

After her release in 1958, Cilka, who became known as Cecilia, returned to Czechoslovakia, where she found love with Ivan Kovac, who had also spent time in a Russian gulag.

For the rest of her life, until her death in 2004, Cilka lived quietly in Kosice and rarely spoke about the hardships she had endured.

Her incredible life is the basis for the novel Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris, which is out now.

It is a sequel of sorts to Heather’s first book, The Tattooist Of Auschwitz.

‘NOTORIOUS’

 Prisoners pictured at Vorkuta Gulag in Russia

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Prisoners pictured at Vorkuta Gulag in RussiaCredit: Getty – Contributor

It was in 2003, while working as social worker in a Melbourne hospital, that Heather met Lale Sokolov.

As their friendship grew, Lale trusted her enough to reveal his story to her.

Heather learnt that her new friend was a Slovakian Jew, who fell in love with a woman called Gita at the most notorious concentration camp of them all.

Lale’s memories were immortalised in The Tattooist Of Auschwitz, a fictionalised account of his story — and one of last year’s most popular books.

It has sold more than three million copies — two million in the UK alone. The book is being adapted into a six-part TV miniseries.

Heather says: “During one of our conversations Lale mentioned Cilka and said to me, ‘Did I tell you about Cilka? She was the bravest person I knew’. Her story was so extraordinary that I knew it had to be told, too, so I seeded her into the first book.”

Heather, 66, did an extraordinary amount of research for her second book.

She explains: “I saw Cilka’s school reports, I stood outside her home, I went to the synagogue where she worshipped and met many people who knew her.”

However, the new book has been a target for criticism. The Auschwitz Memorial Research Centre claims “the book contains numerous errors and information inconsistent with the facts”.

But the mum of three says: “I promised Lale before his death in 2006 that I would never give up telling his story.

“I make it clear that the books are a work of fiction, based on what I learnt from the first-hand testimony of Lale.

“Although Cilka’s Journey weaves together facts and reportage with the experiences of women survivors of the Holocaust, and the experiences of women sent to the Soviet Gulag system at the end of the Second World War, it is a novel and doesn’t represent the entire facts of Cilka’s life.

‘ABOUT HOPE’

 Vorkuta Gulag was one of the major Soviet labour camps in Russia

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Vorkuta Gulag was one of the major Soviet labour camps in RussiaCredit: Getty – Contributor

“Ultimately both of the books are about hope.

“Humans can cope with so many things and still have a capacity to love and hope for a better tomorrow.”

Reflecting on whether the book was hard to write, Heather says: “It made me angry to write about the abuse that Cilka suffered.

“So little has been written about the rape that went on at that time and I want to call it out.”

Musing on whether Cilka would be happy with the account of her life, Heather says: “I like to think Cilka would be quietly delighted that her story has finally been told.

“Before I met Lale, the Holocaust was just a word to me – much to my shame. I feel honoured to tell these stories.”

  • Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris (Zaffre, £14.99) is out now
 Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris is out now

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Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris is out now
 Author Heather Morris says the subject of her new novel would be 'delighted' her story was finally being told

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Author Heather Morris says the subject of her new novel would be ‘delighted’ her story was finally being told

 

 

Holocaust survivors reveal how they watched their relatives being sent to the gas chambers in Nazi camps in harrowing BBC documentary




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Beijing kicks off work on 6G…


SHANGHAI: China has officially started researching sixth-generation telecoms technology, state media reported on Thursday (Nov 7), a move it described as aiming to promote the latest wireless innovation.

Chinese government ministries and research institutes met this week in a “kick-off” meeting to establish a national 6G technology research and development group, according to a report by the Science and Technology Daily, which is published by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.


Technologies related to ultra-fast mobile services have become a key conflict point between the United States and China in recent months.

Countries around the world have been racing to roll out 5G next generation wireless networks, which can provide data speeds at least 20 times faster than 4G and promises to support new technologies such as self-driving cars and augmented reality.

In April, Reuters published a story quoting South Korean officials declaring victory over the United States and China as the site of the world’s first commercial launch of a 5G telecoms network.

They made their assertion on the basis that the new network connected to an actual 5G phone. US carriers disputed South Korea’s claims to be first.

The race has also embroiled China’s Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest telecoms equipment vendor, which is heavily involved in building many of these networks.

The US government, fearing that Huawei’s equipment could be used by China for spying, has placed Huawei on a blacklist in May that banned the company from buying American-made parts. The US government led a campaign to convince its allies to bar it from their 5G networks. Huawei has repeatedly denied the claims.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump in February tweeted that he wanted 6G technology in the United States as soon as possible, urging US firms to step up their efforts or get left behind.

Beijing’s move to kickstart research into 6G comes days after the country’s top three telecos rolled out 5G mobile phone services nationwide.

China had originally said it would launch the ultra-fast mobile internet service early next year but accelerated its plans as tensions with the United States heated up.



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10 hospitalized after flu shot turns out to be insulin…


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With weather changes comes the inevitable start to flu season, if you are still debating whether to get your flu shot or not this year, here are some truths you should know about getting vaccinated. Susana Victoria Perez has more.
Buzz60

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – Ten people at a facility for those with intellectual disabilities were hospitalized after they were injected with what authorities suspect was insulin rather than flu shots.

Emergency responders were called Wednesday afternoon to the Jacquelyn House, about 40 miles north of Tulsa, on a report of an unresponsive person and found “multiple unresponsive people,” Bartlesville Police Chief Tracy Roles said.

The facility had contracted with an experienced pharmacist to administer the influenza vaccine, Roles said, but all received injections of what’s believed to be insulin instead. Roles said the pharmacist is cooperating with police, but investigators believe it was an accident.

The eight residents and two staff members were taken to a hospital, and all have either been released or will be soon.

“I’ve never seen where there’s been some sort of medical misadventure to this magnitude,” Roles said. “It could have been worse. Not to downplay where we are, but thinking of where we could be, it certainly could have been very tragic.”

A similar mishap occurred in September in Indianapolis, when 16 students were mistakenly injected with insulin during a tuberculosis skin test.

Insulin is typically administered to someone with diabetes, a disease in which blood sugar levels are too high. The side effects of a too high injection of insulin includes sweating, nervousness, hunger and irritability, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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