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Health impacts loom as government shutdown drags on



gouverneour healthcare

An unwelcome consequence of the federal government shutdown is a threat to public health, according to organizations and officials in New York and across the country.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that the city stands to lose $500 million in federal support per month, largely in aid that has health ramifications, if the shutdown stretches into March. And 280 organizations from New York and elsewhere signed on to a letter from the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health to President Donald Trump and Congress calling for an end to the shutdown.

“When you shut down the government for an extended period of time, there are serious health impacts that need to be recognized by policy makers and the general public,” said John Auerbach, president and CEO of the organization.

The letter notes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “will not be able to assess new drug and device applications if the shutdown continues, meaning lifesaving innovations will take longer to come to market.” The letter states, “The shutdown is having cascading impacts on the public’s health through loss of income and potential cuts to programs that families rely on for health and economic stability.” Among them, de Blasio said, are food stamps, school breakfast and lunch funding, rental assistance and support for public housing.

In its letter, the trust warned of a significant threat to public health when 800,000 Americans furloughed or working unpaid are unable to pay for rent and utilities or obtain medicine and food. In an interview, Auerbach added that the general public is at greater risk of food poisoning and exposure to environmental hazards, which are typically monitored by the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency.

New York City Health + Hospitals, Bronx Health Reach, the Brooklyn Coalition for Health Equity for Women and Families, and the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy at Columbia University are among the New York–based signers of the letter.
“The goal is to indicate an unintended consequence of the government shutdown is putting the health of the population at risk and in particular putting some of the people whose living conditions make them quite vulnerable [at risk of] preventable illnesses, preventable injuries and preventable deaths,” Auerbach said.

Dr. Neil Calman, president and CEO of the Institute for Family Health, which leads Bronx Health Reach, said low-income communities of color will be the first to be hit by some of the cutbacks. He noted the stress caused by the uncertainty can also lead to health impacts.

“I think sometimes the intangibles are more powerful than the tangibles,” he said.

In the city, de Blasio said, the shutdown puts at risk approval of new buprenorphine prescribers to fight the opioid epidemic and the program Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS.

The mayor’s office said if the shutdown continues beyond February, at least 2 million New Yorkers may lose access to such programs.

“Beginning March 1, millions of New Yorkers will lose a total of $500 million a month in vital federal supports, such as food stamps and rental assistance,” it stated in a press release. “Any attempt to backfill the void left by our federal government would be woefully inadequate to the scale of this crisis.”


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9-year-old genius to graduate university




Laurent Simons

(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.

Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.

Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.

He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.

His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.

“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.

Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.

While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.

But Lydia has her own theory.

“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.

The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.

“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.

“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”

Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”

Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”

His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.

“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.

“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”

While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”

Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.

However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.

In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.

Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.

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New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne




Lena Horne

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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem




Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem

Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.

The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.

Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.

Father and son were both knocked through a gate.

The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.

One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.

McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.

McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.

Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.


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