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For Some Anti-Vaccine Advocates, Misinformation Is Part Of A Business

NPR Health Blog - 1 hour 21 min ago

The coronavirus pandemic has created an opening for vaccine opponents to peddle alternative therapies, unproven cures and website subscriptions.

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It Appears Inflation Is Making A Comeback

NPR Topics: Economy - 1 hour 21 min ago

The latest data will likely show prices for everything from cereals to cars have risen as shortages of critical materials like lumber force companies to raise prices.

Biden Boasts About Equitable Senior Vaccination Rate by Race Without Data to Back It Up

“There’s virtually no difference between white, Black, Hispanic, Asian American,” referring to vaccination rates among Americans 65 and up.

President Joe Biden, May 3

During May 3 remarks on the American Families Plan, President Joe Biden boasted that there was not much disparity in the vaccination rates for white Americans and Americans of color who are at least 65.

This story was produced in partnership with PolitiFact. It can be republished for free.

“And what’s happening now is all the talk about how people were not going to get shots, they were not going to be involved — look at what that was — we were told that was most likely to be among people over 65 years of age,” said Biden. “But now people over 65 years of age, over 80%, have now been vaccinated, and 66% fully vaccinated. And there’s virtually no difference between white, Black, Hispanic, Asian American.”

This isn’t the only time that Biden has made that claim.

He went even further on April 27 during remarks on the covid-19 response: “And, by the way, based on reported data, the proportion — the proportion of seniors who have been vaccinated is essentially equal between white and seniors of color. … As a matter of a fact, if I’m not mistaken, there are more Latinos and African American seniors that have been vaccinated, as a percentage, than white seniors.”

However, the national data that Biden keeps touting — vaccination statistics regarding both race and age — is not public. We asked the White House for the information underlying this claim, but officials did not provide specifics.

So, we moved on to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Spokesperson Chandra Zeikel told KHN-PolitiFact on May 6 that “unfortunately, we don’t have available a data breakdown of both racial demographics and age together.” Zeikel didn’t respond to a follow-up question asking when or if the CDC would be publishing this data, but current CDC vaccination data is broken down only by race/ethnicity and shows significant differences, with white Americans far outpacing the percentage of other groups getting a shot. It also shows that the rate of vaccinations among some groups, including Black and Latino Americans, does not match their share of the population, though new CDC data shows there has been some progress on this front in the past two weeks.

That made us wonder about the premise of Biden’s statement. We turned to experts for their take.

“As far as I know, there is no comprehensive publicly available data on vaccination rates by race/ethnicity and age,” Samantha Artiga, vice president and director of the racial equity and health policy program at KFF, wrote in an email. “As such, we are not able to assess whether there are racial disparities in vaccinations among people over 65 years of age.”

What about other state-level data or anecdotes that might support Biden’s claim? Let’s dive in and see.

A Small Number of States Report Both Age and Race Together

At least seven states track vaccination based on a combination of age and race, according to Artiga: Michigan, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas, Minnesota, Washington and Vermont. (Vermont tracks only two racial categories: non-Hispanic white and a combination of Black, Indigenous and people of color.)

The results from some of these states show that racial disparities do exist in the older age groups.

In Michigan, for instance, over 50% of non-Hispanic white people ages 65 to 74 had completed their vaccinations as of May 11. Other racial groups — non-Hispanic Black people; Asian American and Pacific Islanders; and Hispanics — all trailed by about 10 percentage points. The exception was the Native American and Alaska Natives category, which was within 4 percentage points of white people.

And as of May 11 in Kansas, the rate at which white people in that same age group were vaccinated was higher than the rates of Black people and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders.

In Vermont, for those 65 and up, about 79% of people of color had received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with 85% of white people as of that date.

“With the exception of Vermont, which has the distinction of being the only state to target BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of color] populations by race explicitly, these are examples of states in which the numbers are not doing well in their equity efforts,” Dayna Bowen Matthew, dean of the George Washington University Law School and an expert in racial disparities in health care, wrote in an email.

Minnesota is one of the few states in which people of color are actually being vaccinated at higher rates than white people — with 93% of Asian/Pacific Islanders and 87.5% of Black/African Americans age 65 and over having received at least one shot, compared with 81.5% of white people as of May 11.

Some states are vaccinating similar percentages of their population of Black or Hispanic people, Matthew said, however that data does not distinguish by age group.

According to Bloomberg’s Covid-19 Vaccination Racial Gap tracker, New Mexico, Idaho, Oregon and Utah have vaccinated approximately the same percentage of Black Americans as are represented in each state’s population. Maine, Ohio, Alabama, Louisiana and Missouri have achieved similar population-based rates for the Hispanic population.

KFF provides weekly updates on national and state race/ethnicity data of those who have received vaccinations, which have consistently shown that Black and Hispanic people are receiving smaller shares of vaccinations compared with their shares of the total population, while white people are receiving a higher share. The May 5 weekly update, for instance, found that based on the 42 states that share race/ethnicity data, the percentage of white people who have received at least one covid vaccine dose (39%) was roughly 1.5 times higher than the rates for Black (25%) and Hispanic people (27%). (KHN is an editorially independent program of KFF.)

It’s also important to note that data on race and ethnicity information has not been gathered for many people who have been vaccinated. As of May 3, the CDC reported that race and ethnicity were known for only 55% of all people who had received at least one vaccine dose. And three states, Montana, New Hampshire and Wyoming, don’t report race/ethnicity data at all.

How to Approach Vaccine Equity, Experts Say

Nneka Sederstrom, chief health equity officer at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, said that her state has done an “excellent job” vaccinating the 65-and-older population but that there’s still a lot of work to be done to reach communities of color.

We “will need more direct tactics to reach” those who haven’t yet been vaccinated, “and help address any issues of hesitancy due to lack of knowledge or systemic barriers,” Sederstrom wrote in an email.

Ensuring that vaccines are available at primary care providers is also important, said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

“The truth of the matter is, the more vaccinators that we can get that are placed where people are every day, where it becomes a routine part of your life, such as going … into your doctor’s office for a regular visit, that’s a winner,” said Benjamin.

But, Dr. Uché Blackstock, founder of Advancing Health Equity, an organization that advocates to end bias and racism in health care, said she would set the bar for vaccine equity success higher than just an equally proportionate share of a certain racial/ethnic population receiving their vaccine doses.

“What success in vaccine equity would look like would be if Black people or Hispanic people were overrepresented in terms of vaccine received since they have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” said Blackstock. So even though Biden quotes these statistics that lack data behind them, if the evidence did support them, it would still not be enough, she said.

In fact, the CDC does describe vaccine equity in those terms: “preferential access and administration to those who have been most affected by COVID-19.”

Our Ruling

Biden has repeatedly claimed that vaccination rates among white people and people of color age 65 and older are virtually the same — or even higher among people of color.

No public national data from the CDC or another database has been released to support this assertion.

For the few states that do report data on age and race/ethnicity combined, the numbers suggest that, for the most part, obvious disparities persist in the vaccination rates for white seniors and seniors of color. In several states, vaccine administration rates are more proportional to the percentage of the Black and Hispanic populations, but the data covers all age groups. National data for all age groups also shows that rates of vaccinations for Black and Hispanic people lag behind that of white people.

Existing data paints one story on vaccine equity, while Biden’s words paint another.

Without data to back it up, we rate Biden’s statement False.

Sources:

The Associated Press, “AP Fact check: Biden overstates how many Americans immunized,” May 3, 2021

Bloomberg News, Covid-19 Racial Gap Tracker, accessed May 5, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Demographic Characteristics of People Receiving COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States,” accessed May 10, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “County-Level COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage and Social Vulnerability — United States, December 14, 2020-March 1, 2021,” March 26, 2021

Email exchange with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesperson Chandra Zeikel, May 6, 2021

Email exchange with White House administration official, May 6, 2021

Email interview with Manuel Pastor, director of the University of Southern California Equity Research Institute, May 5, 2021

Email interview with Nneka Sederstrom, chief health equity officer at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, May 5, 2021

Email interview with Samantha Artiga, vice president and director of the racial equity and health policy program at KFF, May 5-6, 2021

Kansas.gov, COVID-19 Demographics, accessed May 10, 2021

KFF, Latest Data on COVID-19 Vaccinations Race/Ethnicity, May 5, 2021

Michigan.gov, COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, accessed May 10, 2021

Minnesota.gov, “Vaccine Data,” accessed May 10, 2021

NBC News, “Biden Hails Progress on Vaccine Equity, but Some Local Leaders Paint a Different Picture,” May 3, 2021

Phone/email interview with Dayna Bowen Matthew, dean and Harold H. Greene Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School, May 6-7, 2021

Phone interview with Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, May 6, 2021

Phone interview with Dr. Uché Blackstock, founder of Advancing Health Equity, May 6, 2021

Vermont.gov, COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, accessed May 10, 2021

White House, “Remarks by President Biden on the American Families Plan,” May 3, 2021

White House, “Remarks by President Biden on the COVID-19 Response,” April 27, 2021

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

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Covid Fears Keep Many Latino Kids out of Classrooms

EAST LOS ANGELES — For the past year, 13-year-old twins Ariel Jr. and Abraham Osorio have logged on to their online classes from their parents’ flower shop. Ariel nestles in a corner among flowers, bows and stuffed animals. Abraham sets up on a small table in the back, where his dad used to work trimming flowers and keeping the books.

This story also ran on La Opinión. It can be republished for free.

It’s not ideal for learning: It’s loud. It’s cramped. It’s bustling with people. Still, when the twins’ mother, Graciela Osorio, recently had the chance to send her kids back to Brightwood Elementary in Monterey Park, California, she decided against it.

“After what we went through with their father, I’d rather keep them at home where I know they are safe,” said Graciela, 51. “There’s only a month left. It doesn’t make sense that they return for such a short time.”

The boys’ father, Ariel Osorio Sr., 51, died of covid-19 in January, four weeks after a trip to Mexico to visit his mother. He fell ill quickly and wasn’t able to say goodbye to his children.

“I miss his presence,” Abraham said. “I’m used to seeing him sit in his chair working, but not anymore.”

Latinos have been hit disproportionately hard by covid, and many families are opting out of in-person learning.

In California, Latinos make up 39% of the state’s population but account for 47% of covid deaths, according to the state Department of Public Health. Nationally, their risk of death from covid is 2.3 times higher than that of whites.

Latinos are vulnerable to the highly transmissible coronavirus because they are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to work essential jobs that expose them to the public, said David Hayes-Bautista, a professor of public health and medicine at UCLA and co-author of a January study on this topic. They are more likely to lack health insurance, which may make them less likely to seek medical care, he said. And they are more likely to live in multigenerational households, which means the virus can spread quickly and easily within families.

“Many of them are essential workers and the breadwinners for their families and don’t have the luxury of telework, of physical distancing and self-isolation,” said Alberto González, a senior health strategist at UnidosUS, a Latino advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

The Osorio family has lived in a multigenerational household since Ariel died, and Graciela had to keep other family members in mind when deciding whether to send her boys back into the classroom.

In February, Graciela and the twins moved in with her 74-year-old mother, Cleotilde Servin, in East Los Angeles. Ten people now share the roughly 1,000-square-foot home, squeezing by one another in the kitchen every morning.

Graciela’s mother and the other adults in the home have been vaccinated, but the children haven’t. Even though she instructs her sons to wear their masks and doesn’t allow them to visit friends, she’s terrified of what could happen if her kids caught the virus at school and brought it home.

“My mother is active and takes vitamins, but it still worries me,” Graciela said. She got covid from her husband and gave it to her sister and niece. “I don’t want anyone else to get sick,” she said.

State and local education officials don’t have recent data on in-person attendance by race, but an EdSource analysis of California Public Health Department data from February shows that white students were more likely to attend school in person than other students. The analysis showed that 12% of Latinos were attending in-person classes at least some of the time, compared with 32% of whites and 18% of all students.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest in the country, serves more than 600,000 students and reopened for in-person learning in mid-April. Only some campuses are open, mostly elementary schools, and are running on hybrid schedules, combining on-campus classes with distance learning.

“We’ve upgraded the air filtration systems in every classroom, reconfigured school facilities to keep all at a school appropriately distanced, doubled the custodial staff, and we’ll provide weekly covid testing at school for every student and staff member,” district superintendent Austin Beutner said in his weekly recorded video update on March 22.

In a statement released May 4, Beutner said 40% to 50% of elementary school students are now back in schools in “more affluent” communities compared with roughly 20% in low-income communities.

“We see the greatest reluctance for children to be back in schools from families who live in some of the highest-needs communities we serve,” he said.

Brightwood Elementary is a K-8 school with 870 students, about half of whom are Asian American and 40% Latino, said principal Robby Jung. Just 15% of students are back on campus, he said, and, of those, about one-third are Latino.

For the Osorio family, the overriding reason the eighth grade twins are not back at Brightwood is fear.

Like so many other Latino families — roughly 28,000 Latinos have died of covid in California — they are reeling from the grief and trauma that the disease has already wrought, and the fear of what it could do if it struck again.

“The boys are seeing a therapist to deal with their dad’s death,” Graciela said. “I know I should probably talk to someone, too.”

With the memory of her husband’s death still so fresh that she can’t speak of him without crying, Graciela is still adjusting to the emotional toll, and to the day-to-day realities of running a flower shop by herself.

Originally from Guerrero, Mexico, she started Gracy’s Flower Shop with her husband in 1997. Ariel took care of the finances at home and at the shop and was the better English speaker of the two.

“Now being alone with the boys, it’s more difficult to keep up,” she said.

During the covid lockdowns, the boys joined the couple at the shop. Her husband sat next to their children while they attended school online, helping with their homework and acting as the main contact for the school.

“They were always with us,” Graciela said. “They grew up in the flower shop, so they didn’t have a problem setting up their school stations there.”

Brightwood reopened its doors April 12, offering in-person learning two days a week for a few hours a day, with the rest of the sessions online. Graciela said the limited schedule doesn’t work with her role as the family breadwinner.

“I would have to take them to school, pick them up for lunch and then bring them back,” she said. “I can’t do that. I have to work.”

But mostly she’s keeping them off campus because she doesn’t want to lose another family member. She said she knows online classes aren’t the same as in-person instruction “but they have been keeping their grades up,” she said. “I thank God I have good boys. They listen. They understand why I kept them home.”

The last day of school is May 28. Ariel and Abraham said they’re looking forward to high school in the fall. Still dealing with their father’s death, the boys, who are shy and reserved by nature, are torn between returning to school in person or continuing their classes online.

“We might go back,” Abraham said. “For now, we keep each other company.”

This story was produced by KHN, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation.

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

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Don’t Eat the Yellowstone Snow: Elite Ski Resort Aims to Turn Sewage Into Powder

An exclusive Montana resort wants to turn sewage into snow so that its rich and famous members can ski its slopes in a winter season that’s shrinking because of climate change.

This story also ran on Men's Health. It can be republished for free.

The Yellowstone Club — a ski and golf resort just north of Yellowstone National Park that counts Bill Gates, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel among its members — has asked the Montana Department of Environmental Quality for a permit to allow it to use wastewater for snowmaking operations on its ski slopes.

About a dozen other ski areas across the U.S. have used wastewater to make artificial snow before, but the Yellowstone Club would be the first in Montana. The technique has also been used in Europe and Australia.

Officials at the club say the program would not only ensure the slopes can open on time, usually in late November and early December, but also replenish the area’s watershed and keep streams running longer into the season. And it would allow the growing Big Sky resort area to handle its increasing wastewater volumes.

“It’s an outside-the-box-idea,” said Rich Chandler, environmental manager for the club. “But it also checks a lot of boxes.”

Is it a safe plan for the rich and famous who will occasionally ingest it when they wipe out on the slopes? The short answer from state officials is yes. The method is safe for people and the environment as long as there is close monitoring to ensure contamination levels stay within standards, according to an environmental analysis.

But, the state officials said, that analysis did not study potential pollutants for which there are no environmental standards in wastewater, such as traces of prescription drugs.

A similar effort to turn wastewater into snow was controversial at the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort near Flagstaff. To combat snowless winters there, the resort in the early 2000s purchased wastewater from Flagstaff and pumped it from the treatment plant to the ski area, where it would be turned into snow and sprayed onto the San Francisco Peaks.

That drew protests from the Hopi Tribe, which said the artificial snow posed risks to public health and the environment and would desecrate a mountain it considers sacred. The tribe lost a legal challenge to prevent the Arizona ski area from moving ahead with the plan. In December 2012, the ski area fired up its snow guns and started making powder.

During the legal fight, environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, raised specific concerns about how wastewater can reduce local aquatic populations and cause some male fish to take on female appearances and reproductive traits.

Wastewater’s effect on human health also raises concerns. Although modern water treatment can eliminate many pollutants — and, in some instances, prepare that water for human consumption — some elements still escape the process, specifically pharmaceuticals. The research is in its infancy, but a 2017 study by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization found that only half of the pharmaceutical compounds were removed in the water treatment process. It noted that evidence suggests some of the chemicals could affect human reproductive systems, too, just as studies have shown on aquatic life.

“Modern wastewater treatment plants mostly reduce solids and bacteria by oxidizing the water. They were not designed to deal with complex chemical compounds,” said Birguy Lamizana-Diallo, program management officer at the United Nations Environment Program and an expert on wastewater treatment.

Officials in Montana are quick to point out differences between their plan and what happened in Arizona. For one, the ski area near Flagstaff often makes all its snow from treated wastewater, whereas the Yellowstone Club will use it, at least initially, on only about 10% of the 2,700 acres of skiable terrain and usually only in October and November to create a base layer for its ski runs. Come December, most of the snow people would be skiing and riding on would be natural.

But perhaps the biggest difference between the two projects is the level of support the Yellowstone Club has for its plan, which is backed by environmental and conservation groups including the Gallatin River Task Force, the Association of Gallatin Agricultural Irrigators and Trout Unlimited.

The idea to turn Big Sky’s wastewater into snow has been brewing for more than a decade and emerged from a collaboration between the Yellowstone Club and other local groups concerned about depleted snowpack due to climate change, which could starve area creeks and streams of water later in the season.

Yellowstone already uses treated wastewater to hydrate its golf courses, and in 2011 it teamed up with the Montana DEQ and the Gallatin River Task Force to see if they could safely turn the same water into snow. Chandler, the club’s environmental manager, said they successfully turned a half-million gallons of wastewater into 2 acres of snow about 18 inches deep.

Kristin Gardner, executive director of the Gallatin River Task Force, said the snowmaking process effectively re-treats the wastewater by blasting it out of a filtered snowmaking gun that atomizes the water.

“It’s an added layer of security for the human health side of things,” Chandler said.

Chandler said the information gathered from the pilot study forms the core of the ski club’s application with the Montana DEQ. A draft permit tentatively approving the project has been issued by the state agency, and a final decision is expected later this year.

Officials at DEQ said that the wastewater used to make snow will be treated to the highest standards possible and that they can issue permits only to projects that will not pollute state waters. But the effect of pharmaceuticals remains uncharted territory. Amy Steinmetz, public water supply bureau chief, said that neither the DEQ nor the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has standards to specifically treat wastewater for pharmaceuticals.

“The science is still emerging on that,” she said.

If the DEQ does issue its final permit this year, the Yellowstone Club will most likely begin turning wastewater into snow in late 2022. It would then be required to post signage advising skiers not to consume the snow. Similar signage can be found at Arizona Snowbowl.

Chandler said that the Yellowstone Club is proud of the collaborative work and that, ultimately, the process will benefit the community and watershed. Making more snow and increasing the snowpack during the winter, Chandler estimates, will increase the summer runoff in area creeks by about 19 days, a big win in the increasingly arid West. It’s also better than the alternative, he said: treating the wastewater and then just pushing it directly into the Gallatin River.

“It’s not like the Earth is producing more water, so we have to use what we have effectively,” he said.

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

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3 Fort Campbell Soldiers Charged In Scheme To Traffic Guns To Chicago

WXXI US News - 3 hours 15 min ago
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WXXI US News - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 10:21pm
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WXXI US News - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 7:15pm
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Arizona Republicans Enact Sweeping Changes To State's Early Voting List

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WXXI US News - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 6:39pm
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Biden To Sit Down With The 'Big Four' Leaders From Congress

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 6:06pm
AILSA CHANG, HOST: To call an actor a Hollywood legend sounds like hyperbole, but Norman Lloyd really was. His manager told the Associated Press that he died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 106 years old. NPR's Neda Ulaby has our remembrance. NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Norman Lloyd, born in 1914, got his start performing with the Federal Theatre Project, part of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Extra, extra - Uncle Sam going into show business. ULABY: The Federal Theatre Project employed hundreds of out-of-work actors. And Lloyd, the son of a Jersey City store manager, soon started acting with Orson Welles at his acclaimed Mercury Theatre. Then Alfred Hitchcock hired Norman Lloyd to play the saboteur in his 1942 movie "Saboteur." (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST) NORMAN LLOYD: The big scene, if I may say so, is my falling off the Statue of Liberty. ULABY: That's Norman Lloyd in 2013 on Los Angeles

Rob Astorino enters race for NY governor, seeking rematch with Cuomo

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 5:50pm
Another Republican entered next year’s race for governor Tuesday, with former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino throwing his hat in the ring for the party’s nomination. Astorino, who also ran for governor in 2014, said he wants to focus his campaign on revitalizing New York’s economy, curbing corruption in Albany, and boosting education. “The problem has been not just Andrew Cuomo … but this whole system up here has to be fixed,” Astorino said. “It’s broken and unfortunately the people of New York have responded by leaving.” Astorino is the third Republican to declare their candidacy for governor, following an announcement in April from Rep. Lee Zeldin and last year from Lewis County Sheriff Mike Carpinelli. Since his announcement, Zeldin has garnered an endorsement from more than half the state’s county Republican chairs, and raised close to $3 million, according to his campaign. But Astorino said Tuesday that Zeldin’s momentum won’t stop his campaign. He said the party’s

Medina Spirit Allowed To Run In The Preakness Amid Controversy Over Failed Drug Test

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 5:04pm
Medina Spirit, the thoroughbred colt whose 2021 Kentucky Derby win is in peril due to a failed drug test, will be allowed to run in this Saturday's Preakness Stakes, the second leg of horse racing's Triple Crown. The colt's participation in Saturday's race had been in question since a post-race drug test after the Kentucky Derby earlier this month discovered the presence of betamethasone, a corticosteroid commonly used to treat pain and inflammation in horses but is illegal in any amount on race day in Kentucky. After originally denying that Medina Spirit had been administered the drug, trainer Bob Baffert said Tuesday he had recently learned the horse had indeed been given an anti-fungal ointment containing the offending substance. "While we do not know definitively that this was the source of the alleged 21 picograms found in Medina Spirit's post-race blood sample, and our investigation is continuing, I have been told by equine pharmacology experts that this could explain the test

Bridging a digital divide, subsidized internet program enrollment starts Wednesday

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 5:04pm
A new federal program will provide low-income residents with a monthly subsidy to help pay for internet service. The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will provide a monthly subsidy of up to $50 to eligible residents to pay for internet services, and up to $75 for households on Native American territories. “In today’s society and especially in the wake of the pandemic, it’s clear that internet access is no longer a luxury any longer,” said Congressman Joe Morelle, who supported the program which was passed by lawmakers in December as part of a COVID-19 relief package. “It’s a necessity required to participate in the activities of daily living.” Anyone eligible can apply for the program starting Wednesday. Eligibility includes anyone at or below federal poverty guidelines, anyone enrolled in SNAP or Medicaid, and anyone facing financial hardship from a job loss during the pandemic. Organizations like Ibero-American Action League, ROC the Future, and public libraries willcan help

What The School Attack Means For Afghanistan's Future

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 5:03pm
Scores of teenage schoolgirls are dead, killed by unknown bombers on Saturday as they were leaving school in Kabul, Afghanistan. The attackers appeared to have targeted girls. More than 80 people were killed and about 150 injured, most of them girls of high school age. Most were from poor families; many weaved carpets in addition to studying to support their families. It was the deadliest bombing targeting civilians in at least a year in Afghanistan. No group has claimed responsibility. ISIS has launched similar attacks in the past in the same part of Kabul, which is home to the Hazara minority group. The Taliban denied involvement, though the Afghan government blamed the Taliban for the attack. Though Muslims in Afghanistan are preparing to celebrate the Eid holiday, "there is a sense of grief and fear and anxiety" now in Kabul, says Shaharzad Akbar, the chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. Horrific violence is already normalized in the country, a "forever

'It Feels More Desperate Than 2020': Attorney On New Voting Restrictions

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 4:54pm
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit AILSA CHANG, HOST: Georgia, Florida, Iowa and Montana - these are all states where, in recent months, governors have signed restrictive voting bills into law. Arizona, Texas and Ohio likely aren't far behind. In fact, in the first quarter of this year, legislators across the country have introduced 361 bills with restrictive voting provisions. Meanwhile, federal legislation aimed at making voting easier across the country is languishing in Congress. Marc Elias is an election law lawyer. He's a Democrat, and he filed a lawsuit challenging the new Florida voting law nine minutes after Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill. Marc Elias joins us now. Welcome. MARC ELIAS: Thanks for having me. CHANG: Thanks for being with us. So let's just start with that Florida lawsuit. Is it true that you filed it nine minutes after the governor signed the bill into law? ELIAS: We did. As you recall, he kept the - most of the media out of the signing. It was only...

Biden Administration Urges Israelis And Palestinians To De-Escalate Violence

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 4:54pm
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit AILSA CHANG, HOST: The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is intensifying. Three women in Israel were killed by Hamas rocket fire on their apartment blocks today, among hundreds of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Israel continues its airstrikes on Gaza, which have killed at least 30 people and brought down an apartment building there. As the escalation continues, some say the U.S. needs to do more to help resolve the conflict. The Biden administration wants to focus on other foreign policy priorities. But as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, the Middle East has a way of drawing the U.S. back in. MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: The Biden administration was trying to tread lightly in the Middle East. It has taken some small steps to rebuild relations with the Palestinians, restoring aid that was cut by the Trump administration. But former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer says the U.S. needs to get more involved. DANIEL KURTZER:

Bishops Debate Whether Politicians Who Support Abortion Should Receive Communion

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 4:54pm
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST: When President Biden spends the weekend here in Washington, he often attends mass at Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown. And when he's there, Biden participates in a central part of the service - the Eucharist. But there is tension surrounding the sacrament for the most prominent Roman Catholic politician in the U.S. Some bishops, some priests believe that because Biden supports abortion rights, he shouldn't be allowed to receive Holy Communion. And now, some American bishops are moving to make that a policy not only for the president, but for other Catholic politicians who also support abortion rights. Well, we're going to talk through this with Reverend Stan Chu Ilo. He's a priest and an associate professor in Catholic studies at DePaul University in Chicago, and he opposes this policy. Welcome. STAN CHU ILO: Thank you. KELLY: So I want to start with today's news. The Vatican weighed in on this with a warning to the head
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