DETROIT — At least one Michigan organ transplant center is considering making COVID-19 vaccination a requirement for the procedure — a policy that has presented challenges elsewhere for people who need a transplant but object to the vaccine. In Michigan, two of the largest hospital systems — Henry Ford Health System and Beaumont Health — don't require vaccination for an organ transplant. But Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan's health system, is considering making COVID-19 vaccination a requirement for organ transplantation, spokeswoman Mary Masson said Friday. A Colorado woman at r...
Commonly known as "forever chemicals," PFAs can be found in water, air, food, packaging or even in shampoo or makeup, but on Monday the United States unveiled plans to tackle these ubiquitous and potentially harmful substances.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a three-year plan aimed at setting maximum thresholds in drinking water for the chemicals, technically called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
There are several thousand types of PFAS, but their common characteristics is that they disintegrate extremely slowly, earning them the nickname "forever chemicals."
Once ingested, they accumulate in the body. According to some studies, exposure to PFAS can lead to problems with fertility, developmental delays in children, increased risks of obesity or certain cancers (prostate, kidney and testicular), an increase in cholesterol levels or even a decrease in the immune response to certain infections or after a vaccine.
The EPA plans to designate certain PFAS as "hazardous substances" and will demand that manufacturers who produce them provide information on their toxicity.
"For far too long, families across America – especially those in underserved communities – have suffered from PFAS in their water, their air, or in the land their children play on," said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.
"This comprehensive, national PFAS strategy will deliver protections to people who are hurting, by advancing bold and concrete actions that address the full lifecycle of these chemicals."
The roadmap takes a three-pronged approach: increase research on PFAS, act to limit their dissemination in the environment and accelerate the clean-up of contaminated sites.
"Thousands of communities have already detected these toxic forever chemicals in their water and PFAS have been confirmed at nearly 400 military installations," said the Environmental Working Group, which estimated that "more than 200 million Americans are drinking water contaminated with PFAS."
While welcoming the new measures, the EWG lamented the fact that they come after decades of delays.
"The EPA has known of the risks posed by PFAS since at least 1998 but failed to act," it said in a statement.
PFAS can notably be found in food packaging, such as pizza boxes, but also in certain cleaning products, paints, varnishes or coatings, according to the EPA.
They can also be found in fish from contaminated water, or in dairy products, due to the exposure of livestock to these products on certain sites.
Prosecutors are risking their careers by refusing to enforce some controversial laws passed by Republican legislators in various states.
The elected law enforcement officials have said they're doing the right thing by ignoring GOP-passed bans on abortion, voting restrictions, limits on protest activities, discriminatory laws against LGBTQ people, and restrictions on mask mandates, but even prosecutors in heavily Democratic strongholds will eventually have to face voters, reported The Associated Press.
"The real limit on this is political," said William & Mary Law School professor Jeffrey Bellin. "These prosecutors have to stand for election almost everywhere in the country. Ultimately, the limit on this is popularity."
Nashville prosecutor Glenn Funk vowed not to prosecute teachers and school officials defying Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee's executive order allowing parents to opt out of mask mandates, and he won't enforce a GOP-passed law requiring notices outside public restrooms warning that transgender people could be inside.
"It's also incumbent, I think, upon public officials who disagree to stand up and say so," Funk told The AP. "Because if people who are elected officials just stay quiet in the face of unconstitutional laws being passed, in the face of a social debate that might actually be dehumanizing large sections of our population, then if nobody speaks up, then the impression is that there is a not another side to this argument, and that there really is no argument."
The Gwinnett County solicitor vowed not to punish anyone who distributed food or water to voters in line, as Georgia Republicans had required, and prosecutors in Florida, Kansas and Vermont have also refused to enforce laws they see as cruel or discriminatory.
"We know that our country has seen a past where some have sought to criminalize interracial marriage or individuals of different race who choose to sit at a lunch counter together, or ride a bus together, or use certain bathrooms and certain drinking fountains," said Miriam Krinsky, executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution. "Change often starts at the ground and moves its way on up."
According to a report from Politico, a convicted former Florida tax official who is often described as the "wingman" for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) during his partying days, has successfully forestalled his sentencing after pleading guilty to sex crimes last year because he is still providing an "unexpected' wealth of information to federal investigators.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell agreed to move Joel Greenberg's sentencing out until March at the request of Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg who called the Gaetz associate, "a prolific criminal" in court.
In making his case to hold off on the sentencing, Handberg explained, "Mr. Greenberg was not alone. This is an unusual situation in the number of different investigations and lines of investigation we are pursuing," adding investigators require more time "because of the need to follow up on some of these leads."
Additionally Handberg said some information given by Greenberg was "unexpected," telling the judge, "The investigators in this case have followed the evidence where it takes them. This is obviously not a normal situation."
As Politco's Marc Caputo writes, "The biggest prize for federal prosecutors is Gaetz, who was not mentioned in court Monday and is under investigation on suspicion he paid to have sex with a 17-year-old girl to whom Greenberg had introduced him in 2017."
The report adds, "Sex-trafficking a minor isn't the only potential charge Gaetz faces. Prosecutors have been looking at a 2018 Bahamas trip Gaetz was on to see if the congressman and two political allies violated the Mann Act, which forbids taking people across state lines to engage in prostitution. Greenberg wasn't on that trip, but the victim of his sex trafficking was, though at that point she had turned 18. Gaetz previously said he never paid for sex."
Moving the sentencing out will continue cast a cloud of Gaetz who is facing reelection in 2022 and will likely be a campaign issue for him.
According to a recent report from Mother Jones, Gaetz is having fundraising difficulties.
"Gaetz campaign's latest filing shows that his fundraising has all but dried up. He raised just $527,000 from July 1 to September 30. He spent far more—$627,000—trying to raise that money. In another parallel to Greene, Gaetz's biggest expenses are direct mail and paying fundraising consulting costs to his vendors. In fact, those two things ate up more than 60 percent of his donations," the report states.
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