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Doctor who promoted ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment has advised Florida’s governor

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A California psychiatrist who has advised Gov. Ron DeSantis on the coronavirus pandemic recently promoted a drug for COVID-19 patients that federal disease experts have strongly warned against after a spike in calls to poison control centers.

The surge of interest in the parasite drug, ivermectin, prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday to issue a national alert advising against its use to treat coronavirus. The maker of the drug, Merck, has also said there is “no scientific basis” to claim that ivermectin is effective against COVID-19.

Dr. Mark McDonald of Los Angeles is among a fringe group of outspoken medical professionals who have pushed ivermectin as an alternative to widespread vaccination against coronavirus. McDonald called ivermectin an “effective, safe, inexpensive treatment” in a Aug. 5 Twitter post, and he shared an article by the Jerusalem Post citing a recent study of the drug in Israel.

A wave of online misinformation about ivermectin has led to increased demand, and some people have turned to a version of the drug meant for farm animals. That sparked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to tweet: “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”

Florida’s Poison Control Center, a state-funded non-profit, has treated 27 ivermectin-related cases in August, with most involving drugs made for livestock. That’s more cases tied to the drug than the center saw in all of last year.

McDonald called people who think ivermectin is a drug for horses “ignoramuses” in a tweet posted Monday. (The drug can treat parasites in both humans and animals like horses.)

In a phone interview, McDonald made clear Friday that people “should not get (ivermectin) from a feed lot.” But he said people are ingesting livestock medicine out of desperation because the federal government was preventing doctors from making the drug available.

McDonald accused the Food and Drug Administration of sidelining ivermectin because it already has spent billions of dollars to “mass vaccinate the population.”

“If the goal of these people is to advance public health and make the public well, why have none of them spoke a single word about prevention and making one healthy to prevent an infection or hospitalization or death?” McDonald said. “I think there is a lot of dishonesty here and cancellation of people who support truth.”

Dr. John Sinnott, the chairman of internal medicine at University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine and an epidemiologist at Tampa General Hospital, said it was “evil” for people to promote ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment “because it detracts from appropriate care.”

”Any physician who espouses this should be reported to their state medical association,” Sinnott added.

McDonald was one of several doctors summoned by DeSantis for a July closed-door discussion on mask policies in schools. In his comments, he argued that “masking children is child abuse,” according to video of the meeting later released by the governor’s office. He also likened mask mandates to apartheid, South Africa’s racist system of segregation during the 20th century.

At this week’s trial in Tallahassee over the governor’s ban on school mask mandates, attorneys for the state included McDonald’s comments as evidence. But in his ruling against DeSantis on Friday, Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper was dismissive of McDonald’s opinion.

McDonald is one of several medical professionals from outside the state’s network of public health experts who DeSantis has leaned on for guidance throughout the pandemic. DeSantis has also regularly turned to Dr. Scott Atlas, a Stanford neuroradiologist favored by former President Donald Trump. Atlas reportedly clashed with other White House coronavirus task force members last year for urging Trump to let the virus run its course without government interventions.

And at the mask trial, Florida attorneys called on Stanford University professor Dr. Jay Bhattacharya to defend DeSantis’ order — not state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees. Bhattacharya, an early opponent of business restrictions aimed at curbing the virus’ spread, testified he has been an “informal advisor” to the governor since last September.

In a Friday statement to the Times/Herald, DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw said McDonald’s inclusion on the school mask panel “does not imply that Governor DeSantis endorses (or opposes) any of Dr. McDonald’s opinions on other subjects.”

“The panel was not about ivermectin,” she said. “It was about forced masking of schoolchildren.”

McDonald has a history of comments that defy the consensus of the greater medical and public healthy community. He shared on social media a graphic that called people who wear masks “retarded,” and he has posted comments skeptical of vaccines.

McDonald has ties to America’s Frontline Doctors, a political organization that medical experts have accused of spreading misinformation about coronavirus and treatments. McDonald spoke at a summit organized by America’s Frontline Doctors, and a picture of him with the group is featured at the top of his Twitter feed.

On Friday, NBC News reported that America’s Frontline Doctors is one of the leading purveyors of ivermectin as a false cure. The organization has built a business around prescribing the drug, the network reported.

Prescriptions for ivermectin jumped to 88,000 in the week ending August 13, up from just a few thousand a week prior to the pandemic and a four-fold increase since July, the CDC said. Meanwhile, ivermectin-related calls to poison control centers are up 400 percent, the agency said.

Dr. Asim Tarabar, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Yale School of Medicine and a medical toxicologist, said the poison control figures likely underestimate the problem because many who are taking ivermectin may be experiencing no side effects. Or, they are getting sick from the medicine, but they’re reluctant to pick up the phone, he said.

Ivermectin has been successfully used in developing countries to treat parasites for decades. In the United States, it is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Association as an oral drug against roundworm and a topical treatment for lice, among other uses. It’s side effects are minor when used correctly, but overdoses can lead to vomiting, confusion, seizures and death, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Studies have not demonstrated that ivermectin is effective in treating coronavirus patients and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised against off-label use. The National Institutes of Health said in February that clinical studies on ivermectin have varied, with some suggesting some benefits while others showed little or worsening change in patients.

Tarabar said some people’s trust in ivermectin could be explained by a misunderstanding of the scientific process. The drug has been shown in some studies to limit the virus’ ability to reproduce in a laboratory setting, the physician said. But there’s no proof the medicine works that way in the human body.

“Regardless what we believe — left, right, center — scientific rigor has to be followed,” Tarabar said.



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India tests nuclear-capable missile amid tensions with China

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NEW DELHI (AP) — India has test-fired a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 5,000 kilometers (3,125 miles) from an island off its east coast amid rising border tensions with China.

The successful launch on Wednesday was in line with “India’s policy to have credible minimum deterrence that underpins the commitment to no first use,” said a government statement.

The Agni-5 missile splashed down in the Bay of Bengal with “a very high degree of accuracy,” said the statement issued on Wednesday night.

Beijing’s powerful missile arsenal has driven New Delhi to improve its weapons systems in recent years, with the Agni-5 believed to be able to strike nearly all of China.

India is already able to strike anywhere inside neighboring Pakistan, its archrival against whom it has fought three wars since gaining independence from British colonialists in 1947.

India has been developing its medium- and long-range nuclear and missile systems since the 1990s amid increasing strategic competition with China in a major boost to the country’s defense capabilities.

Tension between them flared last year over a long-disputed section of their border in the mountainous Ladakh area. India is also increasingly suspicious of Beijing’s efforts to heighten its influence in the Indian Ocean.

Talks between Indian and Chinese army commanders to disengage troops from key areas along their border ended in a stalemate earlier this month, failing to ease a 17-month standoff that has sometimes led to deadly clashes. India and China fought a bloody war in 1962.



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Friedman, Dodgers facing decisions on FAs, Bauer this winter

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Andrew Friedman is headed into an offseason filled with crucial decisions involving the Los Angeles Dodgers’ big-name free agents, a rebuild of the starting rotation and Trevor Bauer’s future with the team.

As always, Friedman is guided by the ultimate goal of the monied Dodgers, saying, “The number one objective is to put ourselves in the best position to win in 2022.”

After coming within two wins of reaching the World Series for the fourth time in five years, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations defined the team’s postseason as “our struggle to consistently score runs.”

“We needed someone to step up and pull an Eddie Rosario,” Friedman said, referring to the Atlanta Braves left fielder who was named MVP of the NL Championship Series.

“After we made the Trea Turner deal, in my opinion, one through eight, it was the deepest and best lineup I’ve been around. But it didn’t quite play like that over those two months. It was a little bumpier than I would’ve expected,” he said Wednesday. “Figuring out the why of that is the hard part.”

The turbulence began well before the postseason.

Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Bauer went on paid administrative leave in early July under MLB’s joint domestic violence and sexual assault policy. MLB is conducting its own investigation and has yet to announce any findings. Bauer, through his representatives, has denied any wrongdoing.

Asked if Bauer will pitch for the team again, Friedman said they remain in the same position as before.

“It’s being handled by the league office,” he said. “Whatever they decide, we’ll have to figure out from there what makes the most sense for us.”

If MLB suspends Bauer, it could create a domino effect on the team’s payroll plans.

“The extent of it, I don’t know yet,” Friedman said.

The Dodgers began the season with eight starters and tried to get through the postseason with just Walker Buehler, Max Scherzer and 20-game winner Julio Urías. The lack of depth was exposed by the team’s decisions to use Scherzer in relief in Game 5 of the NL Division Series and Urías out of the bullpen in Game 2 of the NLCS that left both pitchers tired in their later starts.

“We’re got a really good group of young starting pitchers coming,” Friedman said, citing Mitch White, Andre Jackson, Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot and Landon Knack. “Gives us a really strong foundation of depth.”

Friedman and the front office have decisions to make on such key veterans as Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Kenley Jansen and Chris Taylor, who will become free agents after the World Series.

“We’ll do everything we can to keep as many of this group together,” Friedman said, “but not standing in the way of a great opportunity and I’m sure there will be for different people.”

Kershaw, the 33-year-old three-time Cy Young Award winner, reinjured his left arm not long after returning from over a two-month absence for the same issue and wasn’t available to pitch in the postseason.

“He just wants to feel good again and get to the point where he’s healthy,” Friedman said.

Kershaw has spent his entire 14-year career in Los Angeles, where he’s been the longtime face of the franchise.

“There’s something nostalgic and great about Kersh playing for one team and winning another championship and having a parade,” Friedman said.

Offseason moves would be impacted if no agreement on a collective bargaining agreement is reached before the current deal expires Dec. 1.

“We need to be prepared accordingly,” Friedman said.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports





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Senators have heated exchanges with AG Garland over DOJ school board memo

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Senators have heated exchanges with AG Garland over DOJ school board memo



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Drinking Coffee Has Some Super Benefits—Here Are 4 Health Perks of Your Morning Cup

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Drinking Coffee Has Some Super Benefits—Here Are 4 Health Perks of Your Morning Cup



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Nor'easter has New England bracing for floods, power outages

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Nor'easter has New England bracing for floods, power outages



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Trump Jr. Gets A Reality Check After Comparing U.S. To Communist Czechoslovakia

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Donald Trump Jr. was ridiculed this week after he likened shortages of certain products in the U.S. under President Joe Biden to living in communist Czechoslovakia in the 1980s.

Trump Jr. made the remarks during conversation Saturday on Newsmax with Sebastian Gorka, a right-wing media personality and former aide to Donald Trump.

Gorka asked Trump Jr. to discuss the “empty shelves” and backlog of cargo ships in California due to supply-chain issues, given his “perspective” as someone who, “as a child, traveled behind the Iron Curtain and saw real socialism.”

“When conservatives say, ‘They’re socialists. The Democrats have gone radical,’ this isn’t an exaggeration, is it? You’ve seen it, Don,” Gorka added.

Trump Jr.’s mother, Ivana Trump, grew up in Czechoslovakia before moving first to Canada and then the U.S. in the 1970s. He told Gorka his Czech grandparents wanted him to understand the “freedoms and blessings we have here” in the U.S.

“So I traveled with them there every summer, you know, six, eight weeks. I’ve waited in those bread lines,” said Trump Jr., whose father was estimated to be worth more than $1 billion in the 1980s. “We’re starting to see the empty shelves that I experienced then in communist Czechoslovakia in the ’80s in America right now.”

Grocery stores in the U.S. are having problems stocking certain products due to the coronavirus pandemic, a worker shortage and shipping congestion at the Port of Los Angeles.

Some social media users and conservative media personalities have shown images of empty shelves to attack Biden over the supply-chain issues. However, some of these images have turned out to be photos from years ago.

Trump Jr. was slammed on social media for the absurd comparison. A number of people also pointed out that last year, at the peak of the pandemic during the Trump administration, shelves in stores across the country were stripped bare of certain essentials and people lined up for miles in their cars or for blocks on foot to get aid from food banks.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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How a pro-Trump “command center” at a hotel near the White House fueled January 6 efforts to block election certification

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How a pro-Trump “command center” at a hotel near the White House fueled January 6 efforts to block election certification



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