Utah vet confessed to sending ricin envelopes, officials say
By LINDSAY WHITEHURST
Thursday, October 4
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah Navy veteran confessed to sending four envelopes containing the substance from which ricin is derived to President Donald Trump and members of his administration, authorities said in court documents.
William Clyde Allen III, 39, made the confession while speaking with investigators after his arrest at his house in the small city of Logan, north of Salt Lake City, according to documents filed Wednesday night in a Utah court. He told them he had purchased castor beans and sent the letters that had the beans in them.
The documents filed to justify Allen’s arrest did not state a motive. He was being held on a $25,000 cash-only bond.
State investigators working with the FBI said the envelopes with ground castor beans were mailed last week to the president, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the Navy’s top officer, Adm. John Richardson.
Authorities have said the letters were intercepted and no one was injured. Castor beans can cause injury if swallowed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Investigators say all four letters tested positive for ricin.
No attorney has been listed for Allen. A federal complaint is expected to be filed Friday.
Allen served in the Navy from 1998 to 2002, according to Navy records. He has a criminal record in Utah including child abuse and attempted aggravated assault.
Last year, he sent a vague email threat to the Air Force, said Logan police Capt. Tyson Budge, though military officials did not believe he was capable of carrying it out.
Another letter sent to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert in July blamed him for health problems Allen’s wife was suffering, Budge said.
HUD AND VA TEAM UP TO HELP HOMELESS VETERANS IN OHIO
HUD-VASH vouchers to provide permanent housing for 55 veterans
WASHINGTON – To help end veteran homelessness, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today awarded $220,793 to provide a permanent home to an estimated 55 veterans experiencing homelessness in Ohio. The rental assistance announced today is provided through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program, which combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA.
HUD-VASH reduces veteran homelessness because it provides funding for both the housing and supportive services that are essential for ending homelessness for veterans, many of whom are living in unsheltered locations. These vouchers are critical tools in helping communities effectively end homelessness among veterans.
“We have few responsibilities greater than making sure those who have sacrificed so much in service to their country have a home they can call their own,” said HUD Secretary Carson. “The housing vouchers awarded today ensure homeless veterans nationwide have access to affordable housing and the critical support services from the VA.”
“The brave men and women who have served in our armed forces and their families have made incredible sacrifices to protect our freedoms. We must uphold our obligation to support those who have answered the call of duty,” said HUD Midwest Regional Administrator Joseph P. Galvan. “While, we have made great strides in reducing veteran homelessness in half nationally since 2010 and by nearly 44% in Ohio, these housing vouchers will help continue this trend by providing safe and affordable housing in conjunction with vital wrap-around services from the VA. We are proud to support those who have served.”
Since 2008, more than 93,000 vouchers have been awarded and approximately 150,000 homeless veterans have been served through the HUD-VASH program. More than 600 PHAs administer the HUD-VASH program, and this most recent award includes 22 additional PHAs, increasing HUD-VASH coverage to many communities. Rental assistance and supportive services provided through HUD-VASH are a critical resource for local communities in ending homelessness among our nation’s veterans.
In the HUD-VASH program, VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) assess veterans experiencing homelessness before referring them to local housing agencies for these vouchers. Decisions are based on a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of homelessness and the need for longer term, more intensive support in obtaining and maintaining permanent housing. The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff offers.
Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. VA offers eligible homeless veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Public Housing Authority Partnering VA Medical Facility Number of Vouchers Amount
Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority Cleveland 15 $59,081
Portsmouth Metropolitan Housing Authority Chillicothe 5 $20,733
Butler Metropolitan Housing Authority Cincinnati 15 $64,406
Columbiana Metropolitan Housing Authority Cleveland 5 $17,675
Erie Metropolitan Housing Authority Cleveland 15 $58,897
HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov. You can also connect with HUD on social media or sign up for news alerts on HUD’s Email List.
Two Ohio Fallen Firefighters to be Honored at National Memorial Service on October 7
For live streaming information and satellite coordinates, along with video of events for downloading, go to www.live.firehero.org
EMMITSBURG, MD – The U.S. Fire Service will honor two firefighters, who died in the line of duty, from Ohio during the 37th National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service on Sunday, October 7, 2018. They are among the 80 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2017 and 23 firefighters who died in previous years who will be remembered at the official national service at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
District Chief James “Jim” Benken, age 65, of the City of Wyoming Fire and EMS, suffered a heart attack and died within 24-hours of responding to an emergency medical call on April 14, 2017.
Firefighter David Owen Lemponen, age 83, of the Austinburg Volunteer Fire Department, died on April 28, 2017, after he was struck by a passing motorist while directing traffic at the scene of an MVA on April 27, 2017.
Their names will be added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial on the Academy grounds. The national tribute is sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) and the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Fire Administration.
More than 5,000 people, including families, friends, members of Congress, Administration officials and firefighters are expected to attend on Sunday. Firefighter Honor Guards and Pipe & Drum units from across the U.S. will participate in this national remembrance.
For a complete list of fallen firefighters being honored and a widget to display their information on your website, along with Memorial Weekend related videos, photos, media and broadcast information go to www.firehero.org.
The Conversation: Academic rigor, journalistic flair
Think journalism’s a tough field today? Try being a reporter in the Gilded Age
October 4, 2018
Randall S. Sumpter
Associate Professor of Communication, Texas A&M University
Randall S. Sumpter does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Texas A&M University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
The internet has upended the journalism industry – and not in a good way.
Over the past decade, over 100,000 journalism jobs have been shed, while advertising revenue has fallen US$30 billion since 2004.
Sponsored content is on the rise. Reporters have been suspended for fabricating aspects of their stories. And, yes, entire stories have been made up out of thin air.
Not surprisingly, trust in the media has plummeted.
As a media historian, I see a lot of similarities to another era of soaring inequality: the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.
Back then, the media market was oversaturated; revenues were down; pay was poor; and publishers were locked in circulation battles, working to one-up one another for more subscribers – even if it meant engaging in some unsavory practices.
When I was researching my book “Before Journalism Schools: How Gilded Age Reporters Learned the Rules,” I learned that if Gilded Age reporters adhered to one rule, it was to do whatever it takes to get the story – even if it meant making things up.
A booming news biz goes bust
After decades of sustained growth, many newspapers found themselves in financial trouble in the late 19th century.
The reports on printing and publishing that accompanied the 1880, 1890 and 1900 national censuses shed some light on the issue: Newspapers had saturated virtually every possible geographic market.
According to the 1900 census, 451 daily newspapers were published in the nation’s 50 largest cities – about nine newspapers per city. These newspapers competed for smaller and smaller slices of advertising revenue. Even some tiny communities had more than one daily newspaper duking it out. As early as 1880, Tombstone, Arizona, for instance, had two dailies serving a population of 973.
Newspapers also were locked in expensive battles over who could acquire and deploy the latest technologies in typesetting, illustration and printing.
These technologies were costly to purchase and operate. For instance, the linotype, a new mechanical typesetting device, cost $3,000. More significantly, trained technicians who belonged to unions needed to be hired to run the machines. These technicians couldn’t be easily fired like young reporters, known as cubs.
To cut labor costs, publishers hired novice reporters, but didn’t train them. They left it up to these raw recruits to learn basic news work on their own.
Most of these workers were not salaried employees, so during slow news periods, editors would routinely lay off reporters. Editors also paid reporters on the space system, which meant the longer the story, the more the reporters got paid.
News executives did start hiring more women than they had in the past, but the aggregate industry data from the census reports show that these women earned about $312 a year in 1900 – half as much as men.
Editors hoped women reporters writing soft news for society pages would attract more female readers and more advertisers. They also hoped to exploit women reporters as “stunt girls” – a term used for female reporters who undertook risky reporting ventures. A popular one involved being admitted to an insane asylum and then writing about the experience, as undercover reporter Nellie Bly famously did.
Even with the industry struggling, men and women were still pursuing careers in the news business. One industry trade publication, The Journalist, estimated in 1889 that 100,000 people were seeking news jobs.
To survive in a Gilded Age newsroom, cubs would have to hustle to get by – even if it meant deviating from standard practice.
They might produce fakes, stage events or abandon hazardous and time-consuming assignments from their editors. They’d also share work with reporters from competing newspapers, a tactic known as “combination reporting.”
In an era with few university-level courses in journalism, cubs learned how to master these strategies by observing more experienced reporters. They sometimes witnessed truly colossal fabrications.
Florence Kelly, a former Boston Globe reporter, recorded one of these fabrications by a co-worker in her 1939 memoir. After doing some research at the public library and concocting an interview with an imaginary ship captain, the co-worker produced a story about a volcanic eruption somewhere in the South Pacific. He then sold the story to the Globe, and the Globe turned around and sold it to European newspapers. Those newspapers sold the story once more to American newspapers.
Eventually, the story was discredited. But Kelly’s co-worker was able to keep his job by arguing that his story was based on authentic accounts of real eruptions.
He used the money he earned to buy a train ticket.
Staging a story
Fakes became so common that an article in an 1892 issue of The Journalist estimated that the majority of stories supplied to newspapers by local news bureaus and press associations were fiction.
While some stories were made out of thin air, other practices, like staging, required deliberation and planning.
Samuel G. Blythe described the unfolding of such a story series in his 1912 autobiography, “The Making of a Newspaper Man.”
At the time, Blythe worked for a Buffalo, New York, newspaper. One of the newspaper’s more experienced reporters purchased a cadaver’s hand and arm from a medical student. He severed some fingers and cut the arm into pieces. He then dropped fingers in a nearby canal, returned to the newsroom, and wrote a story about discovering one of the fingers.
“He speculated graphically on the problems of where the finger came from, whose finger it was, and why the police had not reported a missing man,” Blythe wrote.
More appendages in local waterways followed and so did more stories until the authorities investigated. At that point, the reporter wrote a final story exposing the hoax and criticizing police for taking so long to take action.
Our ‘era of error’
None of this delinquent newsroom behavior was extraordinary by 19th-century standards. Rank-and-file reporters openly discussed it with colleagues, none of whom reported it to their superiors. Newspaper economics and the advent of new technologies encouraged this behavior.
Today’s news environment shares some parallels with the 19th-century news world. Digital media have changed how fast and how accurately stories are written and edited. Continuous news cycles, shrinking newsroom staffs and the multiple, simultaneous demands for content have produced what Washington Post writer Paul Farhi referred to as the “Era of Error.”
The lack of formal gatekeepers on the internet has made it easier for the creators and disseminators of fake news to spread their deceptions and force out legitimate news.
Perhaps the best advice on ethical behavior for today’s reporters and editors comes from a 19th-century source.
After surviving his initiation into reporting as a 14-year-old cub and later becoming an influential news executive, Moses Koenigsberg drafted his own “Newspaperman’s Seven Commandments.”
“At all times and in all things the editor must serve the reader to the exclusion of everyone else,” Koenigsberg wrote.
Success of immunotherapy stimulates future pigment cell and melanoma research
October 4, 2018
Fabian V. Filipp
Assistant Professor of Systems Biology and Cancer Metabolism, University of California, Merced
Fabian V. Filipp, Assistant Professor of Systems Biology and Cancer Metabolism at the University of California Merced, receives funding from National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, National Science Foundation, European Molecular Biology Organization, and the University of California Cancer Research Coordinating Committee. He is an elected council member of the PanAmerican Society for Pigment Cell Research.
University of California provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
Our skin is not only the largest organ and primary contact interface with the world, it also reflects our individuality. From a medical point of view, different skin tones come with different pathological features, and it is no secret that skin color matters in health care.
Malignant melanoma, the most deadly skin cancer, has played an important role in understanding immune responses to cancer. One clue about how to attack these aggressive cancers came from a case in which a patient’s melanoma regression was linked to a disease called vitiligo, a patchy loss of pigmentation. Additional insights came from breakthroughs in our understanding of how the immune system fights cancer, which also resulted in the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for James Allison and Tasuku Honjo who pioneered the field of immunotherapy. The connection between melanoma and vitiligo is the pigment-producing skin cell called a melanocyte – when it divides uncontrollably it leads to melanoma, and when it is destroyed it causes vitiligo.
My cancer systems biology research group at the University of California is focused on metabolism and molecular signaling of melanoma. During the past year, in my role as council member of the Pan-American Society for Pigment Cell Research, I had the opportunity to spearhead a team effort to identify the next phase in our battle against skin cancer and pigment disorders. The task force included an international panel of experts from more than 30 cancer centers around the world. Our new research identifies emerging challenges and opportunities in melanoma and pigment cell research.
Even though excellent efficacy and some complete remissions have been seen in a limited number of melanoma patients, some of whom may be regarded as cured of cancer, many malignancies do not respond to immunotherapy. Predicting which patient’s tumor will respond to immunotherapy remains a major challenge and an active field of research.
Following the panel’s assessment, the goal of the research community is to translate the successes of cancer immunotherapy to related topics, including cancer prevention, loss of pigmentation and hyperpigmentation frequently observed following inflammatory processes.
Addressing future needs of a diverse community
One of the aspects the committee addressed was the enormous disparity between the rates of skin cancers between different ethnicities. Traditionally underserved ethnic populations such as Hispanics and African-Americans tend to suffer higher rates of cancer and age-related disease for reasons that are not always clear. Variations in health, lifestyle and socioeconomic risk factors across racial groups may account for some differences. Other differences are found in genes related to pigmentation and metabolism.
The colored pigment in our skin is produced by special protective cells called melanocytes found within our skin that absorb dangerous UV radiation. On a campus like at the University of California, Merced, which is dedicated to underserved minorities, one encounters an ethnically diverse, young generation in all skin tones.
Hispanics represent the largest and fastest-growing ethnic group in California. They are also 50 percent more likely to suffer from late-stage malignancies as white people of similar age. As such, Hispanic families in the Central Valley of California bear a disproportionately large share of the nation’s substantial and ever-mounting burden of cancer due to environmental exposure to carcinogens. One of the goals of the research community is to figure out why.
Pigment-producing melanocytes protect from UV
The life-threatening form of skin cancer, melanoma, arises when pigment-producing melanocytes undergo cancerous transformation. That happens when the DNA inside these cells accumulate mutations and other damage at locations on the body exposed to UV-intensive sunlight.
When genetic mutations affect the production of the melanin pigment, people encounter partial or complete loss of pigmentation of their skin, eyes and hair. Albinism is a rare genetically inherited condition, in which cells produce no pigment. In sub-Saharan Africa people with this disease are prone to sunburns and UV-dependent skin cancers, particularly in regions with a high UV index.
In developing countries, people with albinism may not have access to health care specialists, sunscreen or protective clothes. Sadly, patients with albinism in Africa are increasingly targeted for ritual assassinations. The united pigment cell community stands in solidarity and supports patients suffering from albinism, leaving a unique footprint in the field of pigment cell biology.
In some cases, like vitiligo, pigment loss occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks melanocytes and targets them for destruction. In some cases, the disease can be reversed by suppressing the immune system and promoting melanocyte regeneration
At the other end of the spectrum is hyperpigmentation – too much pigmentation – called melasma. Albinism, vitiligo and hyperpigmentation are all disorders where patients show different responses to hormone changes, metabolism or drugs, depending on their gender and skin type.
The future of cancer research is prevention
Now that immunotherapy and genomic insights have led to unprecedented improvement in the overall survival of cancer patients, the next logical step is to prevent cancer from happening in the first place.
Primary prevention and early detection are powerful but underutilized strategies to reduce cancer incidence and mortality. To systematically battle skin cancer mortality, the Melanoma Prevention Working Group that I am part of proposes a state-of-the-art pipeline to translate the most promising chemoprevention agents for high-risk patients into the clinic. A research program and science alliance on precision medicine and cancer prevention aims to reduce exposure of carcinogens and health disparity among underserved minorities. The bilateral project between Germany and the U.S. addresses timely aspects of big data science across international boundaries, health care reforms, bioethical consideration of direct-to-consumer diagnostics and treatment protocols based on our individuality. Important goals of the scientific exchange across continents is to learn about integration, diversity and ways to overcome prejudice or judgment based on the color of skin, which might be approached very differently in different counties.
The future and importance of studying pigment cells is defined most dramatically by recent advances in melanoma immunotherapies that can be lifesaving, but also by the many diseases and conditions intersecting with the pigment system that remain in need of effective treatments.
Ongoing efforts are focused on utilizing the established preclinical models to overcome drug adaptation and immunotherapy resistance as well as precision medicine profiling of cancer patients. The research community expects that genome-wide data in combination with systems biology analyses will identify new drug targets and help overcome therapy-resistant cancers.