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US trial tests claims Roundup weed killer caused cancer

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Bayer AG on Monday faced a second U.S. jury over allegations that its popular glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup causes cancer, six months after the company’s share price was rocked by a $289 million verdict in California state court.

The lawsuit by California resident Edwin Hardeman against the company began on Monday morning in federal rather than state court. The trial is also a test case for a larger litigation. More than 760 of the 9,300 Roundup cases nationwide are consolidated in the federal court in San Francisco that is hearing Hardeman’s case.

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Bayer denies all allegations that Roundup or glyphosate cause cancer, saying decades of independent studies have shown the world’s most widely used weed killer to be safe for human use and noting that regulators around the world have approved the product.

During the first phase in the trial, the nine-person jury is asked to weigh scientific evidence to determine whether Roundup caused Hardeman’s cancer.

Aimee Wagstaff, a lawyer for Hardeman, told a packed courtroom during her opening statement on Monday that chemicals in Roundup made the weed killer more toxic than glyphosate alone, causing the man’s cancer.

But U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, who presides over the federal litigation, repeatedly scolded her for “crossing the line” by referring to internal corporate communications the judge has said have no bearing on the science in the case.

“You completely disregarded the limitations,” Chhabria said.

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In a January ruling, Chhabria called evidence by plaintiffs that the company allegedly attempted to influence regulators and manipulate public opinion “a distraction” from the scientific question of whether glyphosate causes cancer.

If the jury determines Roundup caused Hardeman’s cancer, the judge said such evidence could be presented in a second trial phase.

Plaintiffs criticized Chhabria’s order dividing the trial and restricting evidence as “unfair,” saying their scientific evidence allegedly showing glyphosate causes cancer is inextricably linked to Monsanto’s alleged wrongful conduct.

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Evidence of corporate misconduct was seen as playing a key role in the finding by a California state court jury in August that Roundup caused another man’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and that Bayer’s Monsanto unit failed to warn consumers about the weed killer’s cancer risks. That jury’s $289 million damages award was later reduced to $78 million.

Bayer’s share price dropped 10 percent following the verdict and has remained volatile.

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Hardeman began using the Roundup brand herbicide with glyphosate in the 1980s to control poison oak and weeds on his property and sprayed “large volumes” of the chemical for many years on a regular basis, according to court documents. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system, in February 2015 and filed his lawsuit a year later.

But Hardeman has a history of hepatitis C, a risk factor for developing lymphoma. Bayer in court filings also said the majority of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma incidents are idiopathic, or have no known cause.

Reporting by Jim Christie in San Francisco, Writing by Tina Bellon; editing by Anthony Lin and Lisa Shumamker

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‘I think I made a mistake’: Patient who thought pandemic was a ‘hoax’ dies after going to ‘COVID party’

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According to WOAI, a patient in San Antonio, Texas in their 30s has died after going to a "COVID party" — a gathering of people who intentionally expose themselves to coronavirus to see for themselves whether the virus is real.

Per Methodist Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jane Appleby, the patient's final words to the nurse were, "I think I made a mistake, I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not."

“It doesn’t discriminate and none of us are invincible,” warned Appleby. “I don’t want to be an alarmist and we’re just trying to share some real-world examples to help our community realize that this virus is very serious and can spread easily.”

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2020 Election

Election experts warn of November disaster

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After a presidential primary season plagued by long lines, confusion over mail-in voting and malfunctioning equipment, election experts are increasingly concerned about the resiliency of American democracy in the face of a global pandemic.

With four months until the presidential election, the litany of unresolved issues could block some voters from casting ballots and lead many citizens to distrust the outcome of one of the most pivotal races of their lifetimes.

There is widespread concern among voting activists, experts and elections officials that it will take further federal investment in local election systems, massive voter education campaigns and election administrators’ ingenuity to prevent a disaster come November.

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CNN

Trump balked at full pardon for Roger Stone over fears of Justice Department ‘backlash’: CNN legal analyst

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President Donald Trump's former political strategist Roger Stone claims that he asked for a commutation of his prison sentence, rather than a full pardon, because a pardon would have implied an acknowledgement of guilt whereas a commutation would still allow him to seek for the original conviction to be thrown out.

But on CNN Saturday, criminal defense attorney Page Pate suggested it may have played out differently: Stone may have actually wanted a full pardon, but Trump was spooked out of offering one.

"Page, this situation, I guess, is not entirely surprising. It's been signaled for some time," said correspondent Abby Phillip. "But what is different about this, I think a lot of people were expecting a pardon here. Roger Stone said he wanted his sentence commuted because he didn't want to admit guilt. What is the significance of that?"

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