The mothers fighting a scandal bigger than thalidomide: We were told the medication was safe
Since the 1970s, it has been known that sodium valproate can harm babies in the womb. So why was it prescribed to pregnant women?
Thu 22 Feb 2024 00.00 EST
In 2009, Emma Murphy took a phone call from her sister that changed her life. At first, I couldnt make out what she was saying; she was crying so much, Murphy says. All I could hear was Epilim. This was a brand name for sodium valproate, the medication Murphy had been taking since she was 12 to manage her epilepsy.
At that point, Murphy was a mother to five children, all under six, and married to Joe, a taxi driver in Manchester. My kids are fabulous, all of them, but Id known for years that something was wrong, she says. They werent meeting milestones. There was delayed speech, slowness to crawl, not walking. There was a lot of drooling that was really apparent. They were poorly, with constant infections. I was always at the doctors with one of them.
I knew there was something wrong and Id say it to doctors, to friends, to family, but no one was listening. I was told: Its a phase. Youre reading too much into things. Youre depressed. At times, she had wondered if her medication was to blame. Everyone knows about thalidomide, but then Id think: theres no way. It cant be. Ive been told so many times by midwives, by doctors, by consultants over so many years that it was safe to keep taking. By the time Murphy saw the news item, one of her children, Lauren, had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
This call between Murphy and Janet Williams was the start of an incredible partnership. It led to the report published this month by Englands patient safety commissioner, Dr Henrietta Hughes, which recommended a compensation scheme for families of children harmed by valproate taken in pregnancy. Hughes has suggested initial payments of £100,000 and described the damage caused by the drug as a bigger scandal than thalidomide. It is estimated that 20,000 British children have been exposed to the drug while in the womb.
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Boeing 757 Makes Emergency Landing After Wing Falls Apart Mid Flight
Story by Bill Galluccio 23h
A United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Boston with 165 passengers was forced to make an emergency landing in Denver after the plane's wing started to fall apart in midair.
When the pilot announced the plane was diverting to Denver, passenger Kevin Clarke looked out the window and saw part of the wing breaking off.
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making a sound like an old sliding whistle for three days. And headlights are on.
He tried battery charging to no avail.
Curious what the problem is..?
George Soros fund poised to take control of nations second-largest chain of radio stations
Story by Josh Kosman, Ariel Zilber
George Soros is poised to take a massive stake in the nations second-largest radio company, which owns more than 220 stations nationwide, according to court filings and sources close to the situation.
The left-leaning billionaires Soros Fund Management has bought up $400 million of debt in Audacy the No. 2 US radio broadcaster behind iHeartMedia with stations including New Yorks WFAN and 1010 WINS, as well as Los Angeles-based KROQ, according to bankruptcy filings.
One insider close to the situation, noting that he was a Republican, said he believed it was possible Soros was buying the stake to exert influence on public opinion in the months leading up to the 2024 presidential election.
This is scary, the source said.
shooting? Finland hopes hobby will boost national defence
Natos newest member, which shares 830-mile border with Russia, plans to open hundreds of new shooting ranges
Miranda Bryant Nordic correspondent
Mon 19 Feb 2024 10.22 EST
Finland plans to open more than 300 new shooting ranges to encourage more citizens to take up the hobby in the interest of national defence. It is hoped that shooting in the Nordic country which last year became Natos newest member and which shares a 830-mile (1,330km) border with Russia could become as popular as football or ice hockey.
There are about 670 shooting ranges in Finland, down from about 2,000 at the turn of the century. By 2030, the government plans to increase the number to about 1,000.
Jukka Kopra, a National Coalition party MP and the chair of Finlands defence committee, told the Guardian: The present government aims to increase the amount of shooting ranges in Finland from roughly 600-700 up to 1,000. This is because of our defence model, which benefits from people having and developing their shooting skills on their own.
Since Russias invasion of Ukraine, the popularity of voluntary training courses aimed at teaching reservists and civilians how to defend Finland has doubled. There has also been a big increase in the number of Finns applying for gun licences. Last year the Finnish defence training and education association MPK put on 116,000 training days, a significant increase on previous years when there were usually about 50,000.
Flowers grown floating on polluted waterways can help clean up nutrient runoff and turn a profit
Published: February 13, 2024 8:20am EST
Jazmin Locke-Rodriguez, Krishnaswamy Jayachandran, Florida International University
Flowers grown on inexpensive floating platforms can help clean polluted waterways, over 12 weeks extracting 52% more phosphorus and 36% more nitrogen than the natural nitrogen cycle removes from untreated water, according to our new research. In addition to filtering water, the cut flowers can generate income via the multibillion-dollar floral market.
In our trials of various flowers, giant marigolds stood out as the most successful, producing long, marketable stems and large blooms. Their yield matched typical flower farm production.
Why it matters
Water pollution is caused in large part by runoff from farms, urban lawns and even septic tanks. When it rains, excess phosphorus, nitrogen and other chemicals wash into lakes and rivers.
These nutrients feed algae, leading to widespread and harmful algae blooms, which can severely lower oxygen in water, creating dead zones where aquatic life cannot survive. Nutrient runoff is a critical issue as urban areas expand, affecting the health of water ecosystems.
more the Aztecs chinampas in Mexico and the Miccosukees tree island settlements in Florida zinnias, sunflowers and giant marigolds
War on Gaza: Indian union refuses to load ships with arms headed for Israel
The move comes days after Israel received 20 Indian-made Hermes 900 drones, routinely used in attacks on Gaza
By Azad Essa
Published date: 18 February 2024 17:23 GMT
An Indian trade union operating at several ports across the country have vowed not to load or offload ships carrying weapons to Israel, the general secretary of the Water Transport Workers Federation of India has said, just days after news broke that Indian-made combat drones had made their way to Israel.
In an interview with Middle East Eye on Sunday, T. Narendra Rao, general secretary of the Water Transport Workers Federation of India, said the union refused to be involved in any action that would add to the further suffering of Palestinians.
"We decided, if any vessel or any ship is carrying the arms or ammunitions or weaponised cargo to Israel, we decided to boycott. We will not cooperate with that," Rao told MEE.
Last week, the union released a statement announcing its decision to boycott all ships carrying arms to Israel. It added the decision also applied to any ship with military cargo headed to Israel.
UFCW Local Leads Fight to Win Washington's Strongest Tenant Protections
February 12, 2024 / Ty Moore
Grocery and retail workers helped win the strongest tenant protections in Washington state last November for the 100,000 renters in the city of Tacoma.
First we had to beat the mayors and city councils attempt to bring a competing watered-down ballot measure. And then we had to overcome a vicious and deceptive landlord opposition that smashed all previous political spending records in Tacoma.
Weve created incredible goodwill in the community just as we gear up for a tough contract fight, said Michael Whalen, who helped initiate the campaign as a dairy clerk and shop steward at Fred Meyer.
Members were inspired to take on this fight not only because we have co-workers sleeping in cars; not only because rent hikes keep eating away at bargaining table gains, said Whalen, a member of Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 367s executive board and now on union staff. Solidarity goes both ways, and were going to need all of Tacoma to stand with us as we get strike-ready.
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As with a poem, each patient is unique: the cancer surgeon using poetry to help train doctors
João Luís Barreto Guimarães, a breast cancer specialist and prizewinning poet, is pioneering the teaching of poetry alongside medicine to help trainee doctors empathise with their patients
Sat 17 Feb 2024 08.00 EST
In an unremarkable lecture hall on a rainy Monday afternoon, Cândida Pereira is expounding passionately on the intricacies of a poem by the Portuguese politician-poet Vasco Graça Moura. Her classmates listen closely as the second-year university student enthuses about lyric form, poetic voice and Mouras use of perceptual imagery and sensual tone. Nothing unusual for a standard poetry module, perhaps. Yet once the bell goes, Pereira will repack her well-thumbed poetry anthology and replace it with more prosaic textbooks on neuroanatomy and pharmacology. The 19-year-old is one of 20 or so trainee doctors at Porto Universitys medical faculty taking a new elective course on the fundamentals of modern poetry.
In todays ever more transactional healthcare culture, the initiative signals a belief in the priority of people-centred care and old-fashioned notions of a doctors bedside manner. As the course creator João Luís Barreto Guimarães explains, poetry has a unique capacity to help students connect holistically with their future patients, as opposed to viewing them as a medical problem in need of fixing.
Doctors often dont have time to stop and think, so everything quickly gets reduced to the technical and mechanical
For that reason, I get them to look at poems that talk about empathy, compassion, solidarity and other similar humanistic values that doctors should strive for when they are in front of a patient, he says.
A graduate of the universitys medical department himself, 56-year-old Guimarães has been a practising breast cancer surgeon for three decades. When not in theatre carrying out life-saving operations, however, he is back home at his desk crafting his own poems. The author of 10 published collections, in 2022 he was awarded Portugals Pessoa prize in recognition of his contribution to the arts.
China, Russia and Cambodia top list of regimes targeting critics in exile
The five biggest perpetrators of transnational repression last year also included the governments of Myanmar and Turkmenistan, according to report
About this content
Fri 16 Feb 2024 09.30 EST
Scores of attacks, including assassinations, abductions and assaults, were perpetrated by 25 governments last year against people outside their borders, new analysis reveals.
Data from the Washington DC-based pro-democracy organisation Freedom House reveals that the governments of Russia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Turkmenistan and China were the biggest five perpetrators of transnational repression in 2023.
Michael Abramowitz, the president of Freedom House, said: The phenomenon of authoritarians striking down dissidents who have sought refuge abroad is not going away. Democracies will have to do more, and soon, to protect their sovereignty and their fundamental values.
Forty-four countries more than a fifth of the worlds national governments have reached beyond their borders over the past decade in an attempt to forcibly silence exiled political activists, journalists, former regime insiders and members of ethnic or religious minorities.
The analysis reveals that, in total, 125 physical attacks which also included detentions and unlawful deportation were ordered by states against individuals based abroad during 2023.
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