Thursday, September 30, 2021

US estimates 2 million youth vapers as regulator nears key decision

Issued on: 30/09/2021 -
A sign that states "must be over 21" hangs in the store window of a vape shop in New York City 

Washington (AFP)

More than two million American middle and high schoolers reported they were vapers in 2021, with eight in ten using flavored e-cigarettes, a government report said Thursday as the US regulator neared a key decision on the future of the industry.

The latest figure for youth vapers represents a decline from 3.6 million in 2020, but that could be at least partly driven by socialization restrictions and access to vaping products during the Covid pandemic.

The report's authors also said that because the more than 20,000 surveys they sent out between January and May were filled in online, rather than in the classroom as in previous years, the results are hard to compare.

Nonetheless, despite the fact that many youths were in remote learning environments, an estimated 11.3 percent (1.72 million) of high school students and an estimated 2.8 percent (320,000) of middle school students reported current e-cigarette use.

Middle school is grades 6-8 (generally ages 11 to 14) while high school is grade 9 - 12 (generally ages 14-18). Current usage was defined as at least once in the past 30 days.

"These data highlight the fact that flavored e-cigarettes are still extremely popular with kids," said Mitch Zeller, director of the Center for Tobacco Products at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In terms of frequency, 44 percent of high school vapers and 17 percent of middle schoolers reported e-cigarette use on 20 or more of the past 30 days.

Disposables were the most frequently used device, followed by prefilled or refillable pods or cartridges, followed by tanks.

Overall, 85 percent used flavored e-cigarettes, with the most common fruit; candy, desserts, or other sweets; mint; and menthol.

To curb youth vaping, the administration of former president Donald Trump announced a ban on most flavored e-cigarette products in January 2020, and a court ordered companies to submit applications to the FDA by September 2020 to stay on the market.

The FDA has ordered millions of products off the shelves, but missed a September 9 deadline to complete its final review, with market leader JUUL notably absent from determinations made so far.

The agency is weighing the potential benefits of vaping to adult smokers trying to give up conventional cigarettes, versus the harms posed to youth. It has said it is working "expeditiously" to complete the process.

This month, 15 past presidents of the respected Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) authored a paper urging the FDA to take a balanced approach to the question.

It cited clinical trials in England and New Zealand where e-cigarettes were successfully used as smoking cessation devices.

© 2021 AFP
Youth at climate talks frustrated yet defiant

Issued on: 30/09/2021 - 18:40

The 400 youth activists were chosen out of nearly 9,000 applicants by the UN

Milan (AFP)

"Is our voice so scary?"

For representatives of the next generation, who fear being saddled with a lifetime of climate misery, three days of events designed to have their voices heard hardly seem sufficient to address their concern.

Four hundred youth activists were chosen out of nearly 9,000 applicants by the UN to attend the event in Milan meant to give a platform for young people to speak their minds about the climate crisis -- and the lack of action from leaders to address it.

But having been invited from around the world specifically to express their views ahead of the vital COP26 climate summit in October, many participants in Milan did not feel they were being listened to.

On Thursday, when Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi took to the lectern, a small group of protesters held up placards and began chanting: "The people united will not be defeated."

They were promptly escorted from the premises by security.

"I think it's weird that they are scared from a bunch of young people, just because we were protesting and don't agree with the greenwashing," Rikke Nielsen, a 20-year-old activist from Denmark, told AFP.

"It's ridiculous we cannot speak up our mind, we have to stay within the format they created."

Youth activists, including Greta Thunberg, tell Italian PM Mario Draghi of their frustration at inaction on climate change 
Handout Palazzo Chigi press office/AFP

Ahead of the now-weekly youth climate strike on Friday, which Swedish activist Greta Thunberg is expected to lead, the youth were defiant.

- 'They cannot divide us' -

"We won't stop striking until we see change for real, until these things don't happen anymore," said Italian activist Martina Comparelli.

"Until they understand they cannot divide us into delegates and non delegates, as activists who can talk to prime ministers and activists that cannot talk to the prime minister, activists who are stopped because they raised a piece of cardboard."

Comparelli said that the officials gathering for the pre-COP discussions found young people's voices "scary".

"Maybe it is because it is the truth and the truth is always a bit scary."

Asked about what he had heard during the three-day youth gathering, COP26 President Alok Sharma, said:

"There are three feelings I got: it was inspiring, secondly they spoke very, very frankly, and third they spoke the truth, we need to do much more, much faster."

Activists protest in Milan ahead of the vital COP26 climate summit in October

The youth delegates agreed on several key messages for ministers, including increasing climate finance to developing nations and a green energy transition by 2030.

Above all, "young people are not only asking to be heard, they also want their part as equal partners", said one of UN chief Antonio Guterres' youth envoys, Jayathma Wickramanayake.

"It's clearer and clearer the mistrust between young people and governments is increasing more than ever, there is a lot of frustration among young people around the world, especially about the climate crisis."

- 'Greatest threat' -

Some delegates spoke positively about the opportunity to exchange views with government representatives in Milan, especially after the pandemic curtailed a groundswell in youth climate events.

"Today's event was such a great opportunity for so many people, and so many underrepresented people," said Reem al-Saffar, a delegate from Iraq.

Climate change caused by humans 

However the general mood among activists on Thursday was one of frustration at being invited but not really listened to.

"It's not a format designed by young people for young people, but by the UN to suits the UN way of working," said Salina Abraham, 26, from Eritrea.

"Unfortunately it's not perfectly matched with our ideas, and energy and spirit."

Speaking to journalists in a nearby park, where dozens of youths had moved to after the morning's ejections, Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate was undaunted.

"I and other activists will continue speaking, will continue striking, will continue demanding climate justice."

© 2021 AFP

Italian court hands former mayor famed for aiding migrants 13 years in jail

Issued on: 30/09/2021 -
Domenico "Mimmo" Lucano, the former mayor of Riace, pictured in September 2019. 
© Luigi Salsini/LaPresse via AP

A mayor once held up as a model for migrant integration in Italy was sentenced to 13 years in jail on Thursday for a series of crimes including abetting illegal immigration.

Domenico Lucano, the mayor of Riace in southern Italy until 2018, made headlines around the world for welcoming migrants to the sparsely-populated Calabrian village in a bid to boost jobs and development.

Prosecutors had called for the 63-year old, known as Mimmo, to be sentenced to seven years and 11 months for a series of crimes, including conspiracy, abuse of office, fraud, extortion and embezzlement.

His lawyers said the court found him guilty on nearly every count, and gave him almost double the jail time – 13 years and two months – sparking disbelief and outrage among supporters and the political left.

"It's an exorbitant conviction that totally goes against the evidence... (it is) totally incomprehensible and unjustified," lawyers Giuliano Pisapia and Andrea Daqcua said.

"More than 13 years in prison for a man like Mimmo Lucano, who lives in poverty and has had no pecuniary or non-pecuniary advantages from his actions as mayor of Riace... (is) astonishing," they were quoted as saying by Italian media.

Lucano, who will appeal, "has always been committed to his community and to the reception and integration of children, women and men fleeing war, torture and hunger," they said.

The mayor's arrest in 2018 stunned some in Italy and reverberated around Europe, where the "Riace model" – paid for since the 2000s with Italian and European funds – had been hailed as a simple but effective way to revive depopulated villages and house hundreds of asylum seekers.

The programme saw abandoned houses restored and craft workshops reopened in Riace, attracting tourists, and was lauded by many as a model of integration.

Lucano was even named one of the 100 most influential personalities by Fortune magazine in 2016 and inspired a docu-fiction by Wim Wenders.

The court ordered Lucano to repay 500,000 euros ($580,000) worth of EU funds, media reports said.

"I am outlawed because the state has behaved cowardly towards me," Lucano said as he left court, according to the Repubblica newspaper.

"I have spent my life chasing anti-mafia ideals. I became mayor, I sided with the least fortunate, with the refugees," he said, adding that he thought it "unlikely that mafia crimes receive such sentences".


Manchin: If You Want to Save the Planet, Elect More Progressives in 2022


The West Virginia senator's suggestion came as he declared a topline figure of $1.5 trillion for Democrats' reconciliation bill.

A flotilla of activists from Center for Popular Democracy, CASA, and Greenpeace USA take to kayaks and electric boats to demonstrate near Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-W.Va.) houseboat in the Washington, D.C. Wharf to demand that he support the Build Back Better Act. (Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Greenpeace)

September 30, 2021

Sen. Joe Manchin said Thursday that securing sweeping climate legislation to safeguard the planet for future generations requires electing more progressives—unlike him—in 2022.

The corporate Democrat's assertion came as he announced to a crowd of reporters that his topline number for the broad reconciliation bill is $1.5 trillion—a fraction of the $3.5 trillion demanded by progressive lawmakers for the 10-year Build Back Better plan that includes investments to strengthen the safety net and tackle the climate emergency.

Manchin (D-W.Va.), the Senate's top recipient of fossil fuel industry cash, has pushed his party to water down the reconciliation bill, and he and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have obstructed the package's passage.

The $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill, favored by Manchin and criticized by climate campaigners, is facing a tentative vote in the House on Thursday. But progressives have continued to demand congressional passage of the broader reconcilation bill first, before the bipartisan bill faces a vote.

Although Manchin said that his aim is to "put our children at the front end" with the proposed legislation, he told reporters Thursday that, with regard to progressive priorties included in the reconcilation bill, "the other things they want to do maybe we can do at another time."

To progressives opposed to gutting parts of the reconciliation bill's social and climate investments, Manchin said, "Basically take whatever we aren't able to come to agreement with today and take that on the campaign trail next year and I'm sure that you'll get liberal, progressive Democrats with what they say they want."

"I've never been a liberal in any way," said Manchin, adding that "all we need to do I guess for them to get theirs... is elect more liberals."

Polling has shown the Build Back Better plan is popular nationwide—and both political commentators and progressive activists have warned that not passing the full package could negatively impact Democrats at the ballot box next year.

Activists with Center for Popular Democracy, CASA, and Greenpeace USA targeted Manchin this week over his obstruction of the reconcilation bill, bringing a "flotilla" of kayaks near the senator's yacht in Washington, D.C.

"Congress cannot fall for Big Oil's false choice between a healthy economy and a healthy planet. The truth is with fossil fuels we get neither," said John Noël, a senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace USA.

"Climate-fueled disasters cost the global economy $150 billion in 2019. Fossil fuels killed 8.7 million people globally in 2018," he added, calling the Build Back Better Act "a prime opportunity to kickstart a clean energy future and stop sending billions of our tax dollars to fossil fuel companies."

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Manchin Admits Getting His Bill Passed and Then Tanking Progressive Package Was Always the Plan

"Thank god," said one observer, that the Congressional Progressive Caucus is "holding the line on the original deal otherwise we'd be toast on child care, climate, housing, prescription drugs, and everything else."

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) arrives for a bipartisan meeting on infrastructure legislation at the U.S. Capitol on July 13, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images)

September 30, 2021

Sen. Joe Manchin admitted Thursday, ahead of a scheduled House vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, that it had been corporate Democrats' plan all along to first secure passage of their fossil fuel-friendly legislation and then undermine the party's more ambitious reconciliation package that proposes investing up to $3.5 trillion over a decade in clean energy and the social safety net.

The conservative West Virginia Democrat told reporters Thursday that on July 28, he secured a signed agreement (pdf) from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) outlining his conditions for voting on the final reconciliation bill.

A spokesperson for Schumer, meanwhile, told Politico that "Schumer never agreed to any of the conditions Sen. Manchin laid out; he merely acknowledged where Sen. Manchin was on the subject at the time."

In addition to demanding a topline figure no higher than $1.5 trillion, something he reiterated on Thursday, Manchin said in July that he wanted to delay debate on the reconciliation package until October 1.

Meanwhile, a small group of corporate-funded House Democrats—led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.) and supported by Manchin and fellow right-wing Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.)—in August pressured Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to bring the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) to the floor by September 27 in exchange for their votes on the $3.5 trillion budget resolution that enabled lawmakers to draft the Build Back Better Act, as the reconciliation package has since been named.

Critics were quick to point out the significance of Manchin's revelation.

"It sure feeds the idea that their goal is to pass BIF then bail on reconciliation," noted former Senate staffer Adam Jentleson, now executive director of the Battle Born Collective, a progressive messaging firm.

Ezra Levin, co-founder and co-executive director of Indivisible, a progressive advocacy group, expressed gratitude for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which has vowed to secure President Joe Biden's entire domestic policy agenda by voting down the bipartisan physical infrastructure bill until Congress passes the popular Build Back Better Act—a broader social infrastructure package that would fund climate action and anti-poverty measures by raising taxes on corporations and the rich—through the filibuster-proof budget reconciliation process.

It remains unclear whether Pelosi still plans to bring the BIF to a vote on Thursday, but progressives' pledge to block the bipartisan bill until it is relinked with the reconciliation package is consistent with the deal that Democratic Party leaders outlined months ago to keep both pieces of legislation connected and advance them together.

In June, Pelosi said that the House would not take up either piece of legislation until the Senate passed both. Last month, she successfully got Gottheimer and the other holdouts to vote for the $3.5 trillion budget blueprint. In order to secure their support, however, Pelosi agreed to hold a late-September vote on the Senate-passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as the BIF is also known.

Pelosi's decision on Monday to schedule a vote on the bipartisan bill even though the reconciliation package is not yet ready, let alone approved—a reversal of her earlier promise to not decouple the two pieces of legislation—has been sharply rebuked by progressives in the House as well as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

As Sanders said Tuesday, "If the bipartisan infrastructure bill is passed on its own on Thursday, this will be in violation of an agreement that was reached within the Democratic Caucus in Congress."

"More importantly," Sanders warned, "it will end all leverage that we have to pass a major reconciliation bill."

"That means there will be no serious effort to address the long-neglected crises facing the working families of our country, the children, the elderly, the sick, and the poor," he added. "It also means that Congress will continue to ignore the existential threat to our country and planet with regard to climate change."
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India counters China in Sri Lanka with $700 million port deal


Issued on: 30/09/2021 - 
The move by an Indian company to build a container terminal in Sri Lanka is seen as countering China's rising influence in the region

Colombo (AFP)

An Indian company entered into a $700 million deal Thursday to build a strategic deep-sea container terminal in Sri Lanka, officials said, in a move seen as countering China's rising influence in the region.

The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) said it signed an agreement with India's Adani Group to build a brand-new terminal next to a $500-million Chinese-run jetty at the sprawling port in the capital Colombo.

"The agreement worth more than $700 million is the largest foreign investment ever in the port sector of Sri Lanka," the SLPA said in a statement.

It said Adani will enter into a partnership with a local conglomerate, John Keells, and the Sri Lankan government-owned SLPA as a minority partner.

John Keells said it will have 34 percent of the company while Adani will have a 51 percent controlling stake in the joint venture known as the Colombo West International Terminal.

The new container jetty will be 1.4 kilometres in length, with a depth of 20 metres and an annual capacity to handle 3.2 million containers.

The first phase of the project with a 600-metre terminal is due to be completed within two years, the company said. The terminal will revert to Sri Lanka ownership after 35 years of operation.

Plans to allow India into the strategic Colombo port goes back several years, but they were scuttled in February when trade unions linked to the ruling coalition opposed giving New Delhi a partially built terminal within the port.

Later, the government asked Indians to build a brand-new terminal adjoining the Chinese-operated Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT).

Colombo is located in the Indian Ocean between the major hubs of Dubai and Singapore, meaning influence at its ports is highly sought after.

Two Chinese submarines berthed at the CICT in 2014, sparking concerns in India which considers neighbour Sri Lanka to be within its sphere of influence.

Since then, Sri Lanka has refused permission for more Chinese submarines to be stationed there.

In December 2017, unable to repay a huge Chinese loan, Sri Lanka allowed China Merchants Port Holdings to take over the southern Hambantota port, which straddles the world's busiest east-west shipping route.

The deal, which gave the Chinese company a 99-year lease, raised fears about Beijing's use of "debt traps" in exerting its influence abroad.

India and the United States have also expressed concerns that a Chinese foothold at Hambantota could give Beijing a military advantage in the Indian Ocean.

© 2021 AFP

Facebook exec defends policies toward teens on Instagram


In this March 20, 2018 file photo, Facebook's head of global safety policy Antigone Davis speaks during a roundtable on cyberbullying with first lady Melania Trump, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. Facing lawmakers’ outrage against Facebook over its handling of internal research on harm to teens from Instagram, Davis is telling Congress that the company is working to protect young people on its platforms, on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing outrage over its handling of internal research on harm to teens from Instagram, a Facebook executive is telling Congress that the company is working to protect young people on its platforms. And she disputes the way a recent newspaper story describes what the research shows.

“We have put in place multiple protections to create safe and age-appropriate experiences for people between the ages of 13 and 17,” Antigone Davis, Facebook’s head of global safety, said in written testimony Thursday for a Senate Commerce subcommittee.

Facebook has removed more than 600,000 accounts on Instagram from June to August this year that didn’t meet the minimum age requirement of 13, Davis said.

Davis was summoned by the panel as scrutiny over how Facebook handles information that could indicate potential harm for some of its users, especially girls, while publicly downplaying the negative impacts.

The revelations in a report by The Wall Street Journal, based on internal research leaked by a whistleblower at Facebook, have set off a wave of anger from lawmakers, critics of Big Tech, child-development experts and parents. The outcry prompted Facebook to put on hold its work on a kids’ version of Instagram, which the company says is meant mainly for tweens aged 10 to 12. But it’s just a pause.

For some of the Instagram-devoted teens, the peer pressure generated by the visually focused app led to mental-health and body-image problems, and in some cases, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts. It was Facebook’s own researchers who alerted the social network giant’s executives to Instagram’s destructive potential.

Davis says in her testimony that Facebook has a history of using its internal research as well as outside experts and groups to inform changes to its apps, with the goal of keeping young people safe on the platforms and ensuring that those who aren’t old enough to use them do not.

“This hearing will examine the toxic effects of Facebook and Instagram on young people and others, and is one of several that will ask tough questions about whether Big Tech companies are knowingly harming people and concealing that knowledge,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., chairman of the consumer protection subcommittee, said in a statement. “Revelations about Facebook and others have raised profound questions about what can and should be done to protect people.”

Blumenthal and Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, the panel’s senior Republican, also plan to take testimony next week from a Facebook whistleblower, believed to be the person who leaked the Instagram research documents to the Journal.

Despite the well-documented harms, Facebook executives have consistently played down Instagram’s negative side and have forged ahead with work on Instagram for Kids, until now. On Monday, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said in a blog post that the company will use its time out “to work with parents, experts and policymakers to demonstrate the value and need for this product.”

Already in July, Facebook said it was working with parents, experts and policymakers when it introduced safety measures for teens on its main Instagram platform. In fact, the company has been working with experts and other advisers for another product aimed at children — its Messenger Kids app that launched in late 2017.

The focused outrage transcending party and ideology contrasts with lawmakers’ posture toward social media generally, which splits Republicans and Democrats. Republicans accuse Facebook, Google and Twitter, without evidence, of deliberately suppressing conservative, religious and anti-abortion views.

Democrats train their criticism mainly on hate speech, misinformation and other content on the platforms that can incite violence, keep people from voting or spread falsehoods about the coronavirus.

The bipartisan pile-on against Facebook proceeds as the tech giant awaits a federal judge’s ruling on a revised complaint from the Federal Trade Commission in an epic antitrust case and as it tussles with the Biden administration over its handling of coronavirus vaccine misinformation.

Meanwhile, groundbreaking legislation has advanced in Congress that would curb the market power of Facebook and other tech giants Google, Amazon and Apple — and could force them to untie their dominant platforms from their other lines of business. For Facebook, that could target Instagram, the social media juggernaut valued at around $100 billion that it has owned since 2012, as well as messaging service WhatsApp.


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Ecuador bloodbath: Deadly unrest in Latin America's jails

Issued on: 30/09/2021 -
Inmates walk on the roof of a wing of the main regional prison in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where dozens of prisoners were killed in a gun battle among inmates Fernando Mendez AFP

Guayaquil (Ecuador) (AFP)

With at least 116 dead after clashes between prisoners in an Ecuador jail, here is a look at the deadliest riots in recent years in Latin America's notoriously overcrowded jails.

- Deadliest -

Over the past three decades, there have been several massive prison riots that left more than 100 inmates dead.

In 2005, a fire ripped through an overcrowded prison in the Dominican Republic's eastern city of Higuey after a dawn riot, leaving at least 135 people dead.

In 1994, 121 inmates were killed after prisoners set fire to three prison blocks during a riot at Sabaneta prison in Venezuela's northern city of Maracaibo.

In 1992 in Brazil, 111 prisoners were killed when security forces put down a riot at the enormous Carandiru jail outside Sao Paulo.

The massacre was later portrayed in an acclaimed 2003 film, "Carandiru".

- Ecuador's 'war' -

Tuesday's bloodshed in Guayaquil is believed to be linked to a "war" between Mexican drug gangs. It is the fifth major incident in the port city's prison in just over a year.

In all, some 200 inmates have died in violence in Ecuador's jails so far this year as they have become a battleground for thousands of prisoners with ties to powerful Mexican cartels.

More than 100 died in clashes last year -- with many beheaded -- with corruption allowing inmates to smuggle in arms and ammunition.

Ecuador's prison system has 65 facilities designed for about 30,000 inmates but a population of 39,000, watched over by 1,500 guards -- a shortfall of about 2,500, according to experts.

- Bloody Brazil -

Deadly riots are frequent in Brazil's overcrowded prisons, which roughly hold twice the number of inmates they were built for.

With more than 702,000 prisoners, Brazil has the world's third largest prison population after China and the United States.

In late May 2019, at least 55 prisoners were killed in several jails over two days in the northwestern state of Amazonas.

Two months later 57 died in a battle between rival gangs in a prison in Altamira in northern Brazil.

On April 11, 2018, at least 21 died in an attempted breakout from a prison near the northern city of Belem.

In early 2017, deadly riots left around 100 prisoners dead in the space of a month -- many were decapitated and even disemboweled.

- Venezuela -

Venezuela also has a long and bloody history of prison unrest, almost matching Brazil's grisly record of 756 death since 1992.

In May 2020, 47 prisoners died after a riot sparks by food shortages in a jail in the western city of Guanare.

Inmates pictured at a 2013 protest at Venezuela's Sabaneta jail, where 121 inmates were killed in a riot in 1994 

In May 2019, at least 29 prisoners were killed in clashes at a jail in the western town of Acarigua.

March 28, 2018 saw one of the worst prison riots in Venezuela, with 68 people dying in a blaze in a police station jail in the northern city of Valencia.

In August 2017, 37 were killed in a jailhouse in the southern Venezuelan state of Amazonas.

© 2021 AFP
National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

Content warning: this article mentions death, Indigenous residential schools, and the ongoing violence committed against Indigenous peoples.

Today, September 30th 2021, marks the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. The day is meant to honour the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. [1] While this is an important moment to grieve and reflect—we cannot stop here.

Over the past six months, over 1,300 unmarked children's graves have been discovered on the sites of former Residential Schools. [2] It’s likely there are many more: over 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend Indian Residential Schools. [3] 139 of them were set up across the country, and so far, less than 10 have been searched. [4] We know there are thousands yet to be found, and countless others who we may never find.

These figures are hard to comprehend, but we cannot become numb to them. Each of those 1,300 represents a child who was stolen from their family and never returned.

Residential schools are one feature of the state-designed system to destroy Indigenous culture and to subjugate and eliminate Indigenous peoples. This is genocide. [5]

And it is ongoing: the Canadian state continues to undermine the rights of Indigenous peoples, spending millions to fight Residential School survivors in court, foregoing provision of basic rights and services like clean drinking water to Indigenous communities, and sending militarized police into unceded Indigenous territory to violently remove air, water, and land defenders in the name of resource extraction. [6-8]

Today is a day to remind ourselves that the land we live on was never given up freely, but stolen through violence. Non-Indigenous people who live here still benefit from this—and we have the responsibility today, and every day, to work towards reconciliation and dismantle the genocidal legacy of the country we call Canada.

Here are three ways you can take action today:

1. Learn about the history and ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples in Canada: take the time to learn about the Indigenous Nations whose land you live on, and ways that you can support their calls to action for sovereignty. If you don’t know what territories you are on, you can enter your postal code here to find out. There’s also a list below of resources to get you started.2. Take action: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has 94 calls to action, including 6 which directly relate to the Residential School systems. We ask that you take the time to read these calls to actions, acknowledge the privilege we all have living on stolen land, and act.3. Donate: today is a federal statutory holiday. There is a call to action to donate One Day’s Pay of your holiday’s earnings, or whatever you can manage, to an Indigenous-led organization or project. The Leadnow team have curated a list of national organizations as well as frontline communities to donate to below.
Here is a list of resources to learn more, and communities/organizations you can donate to and support. This is not a comprehensive list and we encourage you to use it as a starting point to delve deeper about how you can act in solidarity with Indigenous Nations in your community as well.

Articles and Reports

The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
Overview of the Indian Residential School System
Indigenous Children and the Child Welfare System in Canada
Calls to Action Accountability: A 2020 Status Update on Reconciliation
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Reports
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action
What is Land Back? A settler’s FAQ
Stories from Survivors:
Residential School Survivors' Stories
Survivors Speak - A Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
Indigenous-led organizations to donate to and support:

National Center for Truth + Reconciliation
Orange Shirt SocietyBC Based:

Urban Native Youth Alliance Vancouver
Tiny House WarriorsOntario Based:

Assembly of 7 Generations
Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction
1492 Land Back LaneAtlantic Based:

Mi'kmawPrairies Based:

Alberta Native Friendship Circle Association
The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation is just one day, but our solidarity with Indigenous communities must be year-round. For that reason, it is imperative for us to amplify the calls for justice and sovereignty from Indigenous peoples — not just in moments like these, but always.

In solidarity,
Adriana, Claire, and Maggie, for Leadnow

[4] See [2]
[8] is an independent campaigning community that brings Canadians together to hold government accountable, deepen our democracy and take action for the common good. You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. - À l’Action est une communauté indépendante qui souhaite réunir les Canadiens afin de demander des comptes au gouvernement, approfondir notre démocratie et passer à l’action pour le bien commun., PO Box 2091, Stn Terminal, Vancouver, BC, V6B 3T2 — 1‑855‑LEADN0W | 1‑855‑532‑3609


On this day we focus on truth and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We acknowledge, consider, and honour their contributions to the country we call Canada.

There can be no reconciliation without truth.

The Douglas Coldwell Foundation recognizes the inhumane and unjust treatment of our Indigenous sisters, brothers, and siblings through colonization. These injustices are not just historical; they continue today.

The brutal colonization of Indigenous people was horrific and the lasting effects are tragic: genocide’ stolen lands; broken treaties and promises;, structured dispossession; forced displacement; and continued anti-Indigenous racism.

A national day of recognition is not enough if we do not act upon the truth and work more for justice.

We must come together to ensure support and resources for all Indigenous communities. This commitment must include access to drinking water and safe schools, reform of the child welfare system, actualizing Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, a full and comprehensive investigation into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, and legal prosecutions for the children killed in residential schools.

We must all steward the earth better, live up to our commitments to each other, and strive to live in proper relation.

The founders of the DCF worked hand-in-hand with Indigenous leaders to establish the framework that would become our universal healthcare system and many of the social democratic concepts of which Canadians are proud. Tommy Douglas and MJ Coldwell collaborated with many Indigenous leaders with the goal of building a federation that could lift everyone up. This vision has still yet to come true.

During our 50th Anniversary celebrations, the Douglas Coldwell Foundation will be shining a bright light on the contributions of outstanding Indigenous leaders, artists, Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and youth in society, culture, and social democratic policy.

Indigenous people whether First Nations, Inuit, or Métis deserve more than words and promises. We all deserve respect, equality, justice, and full access to all benefits.

In a spirit of hope, we, the DCF, will strive to learn from our continued mistakes and help finally make Indigenous peoples - and the country - whole.

Learning, listening, and acting with a full heart, open mind, and strong hands in a spirit of solidarity can and will provide us a path toward realizing reconciliation and decolonization.

The Directors of the Douglas Coldwell Foundation thank our Indigenous sisters, brothers, and siblings for their wisdom, patience, and leadership.

We will do better including you and educating Canadians with you, as needed, about your histories, and accomplishments to create a better future together.

Especially today, we see you, hear you, appreciate you and seek to reconcile.

Chi Miigwech | Qujannamik | Marsee | Thank you | Merci


Content warning: This message contains details about Canada's residential schools.  

September 30th, marks the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. We honour the lives of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis children uprooted from their families and reflect on the deep wounds borne by Indigenous Peoples ever since.

An estimated 150,000 children were forcibly removed from their families and communities, transferred to residential schools, sometimes thousands of kilometres away from their homes. They endured horrific conditions of physical and sexual abuse, unsanitary conditions resulting in disease, malnutrition and starvation, forced labour, and indoctrination out of their identity, languages and cultures. Thousands of children never made it home. 

From 1831 to 1996, there were 140 federally run residential schools across the country. For years, survivors and communities spoke out about the intergenerational trauma caused by these institutions: from the trauma inflicted on these children within the system, their loss of language, community, and culture and ways of being, to the ongoing forcible removal and assimilation under the child welfare system.

The colonial policies and practices continue to this day: Indigenous children are overwhelmingly represented in Canada’s child welfare system; Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people experience staggeringly high rates of violence; and governments frequently approve industrial projects on Indigenous territories without their free, prior and informed consent.

Yesterday, in an important step towards justice for Indigenous children, the Federal Court upheld a landmark Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling ordering the federal government to compensate First Nations children and their families.   

On this day, all non-Indigenous people are called upon to witness and act upon this truth, without which there can be no reconciliation.

What can you do to mark this important day of reflection? Read more in our blog.

We also invite you to join us at 7:00 pm EST today for a virtual conversation with legal scholar Tamara Starblanket. Tamara is Spider Woman, a Nehiyaw iskwew (Cree woman) from Ahtahkakoop First Nation in Treaty Six. She is the author of “Suffer the Little Children: Genocide, Indigenous Nations, and the Canadian State”, a groundbreaking book in which she exposes the forcible removal of Indigenous children as a crime under the UN Genocide Convention. Register now >>>

Indigenous Peoples have led the way in seeking truth, justice and accountability. Settlers must reflect on the remarkable work Indigenous communities have been doing to gather and analyze evidence, support survivors, and lobby nationally and internationally for recognition and restitution. This work is exhausting and retraumatizing.

We call on all non-Indigenous people to find the courage to face up to benefitting from the living legacy of colonization. We must take on the work we are being asked to do.

On this, the first annual National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, we ask you to turn reflection into action. Please join us in calling for justice and accountability for Indigenous Peoples by taking action today.
In solidarity,  
Ketty & Mohamed 
Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General  
Mohamed Huque, Chair of the Board 
Amnesty International Canada 


The Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society is available for survivors and those affected at 1-800-721-0066 or on the 24 hour crisis line at 1-866-925-4419. British Columbia has a First Nations and Indigenous Crisis Line offered through the KUU-US Crisis Line Society at 1-800-588-9717.  


Gloria Estefan says she was molested at music school at 9

This image released by Facebook Watch shows co-hosts, from left, Lili Estefan, Gloria Estefan and Emily Estefan with guest Claire Crowley during a taping of "Red Table Talk: The Estefans." In the episode “Betrayed by Trusted Adults,” posted Thursday on Facebook Watch, Gloria Estefan revealed that she was sexually abused by someone her mother trusted when she was 9 years old. Crowley, the first Latina “Bachelorette,” spoke about being abused by a priest when she was young. (Facebook Watch via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Gloria Estefan has revealed that, at the age of 9, she was sexually abused by someone her mother trusted.

The Cuban-American superstar spoke for the first time publicly about the abuse and its effects on her during an episode of the Facebook Watch show “Red Table Talk: The Estefans” that aired Thursday.

“He was family, but not close family. He was in a position of power because my mother had put me in his music school and he immediately started telling her how talented I was and how I needed special attention, and she felt lucky that he was focusing this kind of attention on me,” the singer said.

Estefan, who was born in Cuba and moved to Miami with her family when she was a toddler, revealed the abuse at the top of the show, which featured Claire Crowley, the first Latina “Bachelorette.” On the episode, called “Betrayed by Trusted Adults,” Crowley talked about child abuse she experienced at the hands of a priest.

The Associated Press does not typically identify victims of sexual abuse unless they agree to be named or share their stories publicly.

Sitting at the round red table with her co-hosts — daughter Emily Estefan and niece Lili Estefan — Estefan opened by saying that “93% of abused children know and trust their abusers, and I know this, because I was one of them.”

“You’ve waited for this moment a long time,” her niece told her.

“I have,” Estefan replied.

The three held hands with teary eyes.

She did not name her abuser but described how she tried to stop him. She said the abuse started little by little before moving fast, and that she knew that she was in a dangerous situation after confronting him.

“I told him, ‘This cannot happen, you cannot do this.’ He goes: ‘Your father’s in Vietnam, your mother’s alone and I will kill her if you tell her,’” Estefan said. “And I knew it was crazy, because at no point did I ever think that it was because of me that this was happening. I knew the man was insane and that’s why I thought he might actually hurt my mother.”

Estefan said she started making up excuses to avoid going to music lessons. Her daughter Emily asked if her grandmother had any inkling something was going on. People didn’t talk about those things back then, Estefan replied.

She tried to reach her dad, with whom she exchanged voice tapes while he was posted in Vietnam.

Recordings in Spanish from when Estefan was 9 were played at the show with English subtitles:

Gloria: “I’m taking guitar lessons. I like them but the exercises are a little hard.”

Her dad: “Mommy told me that the owner of the academy where you’re taking your guitar lessons is very proud of you.”

Gloria: “I like the notes, but it’s a little boring to study the notes”.

Her dad: “Mommy tells me that he said that you are a born artist.”

Estefan said the level of anxiety made her lose a “circle of hair.”

“I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said, so one night she ran to her mother’s bedroom at 3 a.m. and told her what was going on.

Her mother called the police, but the officers advised her not to press charges because the trauma of testifying would be too harmful.

Both Crowley and Estefan said during the show that they didn’t like to be called victims. Crowley called herself a survivor.

Estefan said she didn’t tell the producers she was going to reveal her story on Thursday’s episode. No one knew about the abuse except for her family, said the singer, who has been married to music producer Emilio Estefan for over four decades.

She also said that, when her mother started inquiring about this man within the family, an aunt shared that he had abused her years back in Cuba.

The Associated Press asked the show’s publicist if Estefan could answer some questions, including if the man was still alive. The publicist told the AP that she would not make further comments.

On “Red Table Talk,” Estefan recalled almost going public in the mid-80s, when her hit “Conga” with the Miami Sound Machine was at the top of the Billboard charts and “this predator, who was a respected member of the community,” had the audacity to write a letter to a paper criticizing her music.

“At that moment, I was so angry that I was about to blow the lid off of everything,” she said. “And then I thought: ’My whole success is gonna turn into him!

“It’s manipulation and control, but that’s what they do, they take your power,” she added, also admitting the fear that there could be other victims makes her feel bad.

After introducing Crowley and telling her that she didn’t want to sit quietly while she shared her story, Estefan said she had been waiting for the right opportunity and space to tell hers.

The show was that space.

“This is one of the reasons why I said yes to the ‘(Red) Table (Talk)’ at all, because we wanted to create this space where we talk about important things that hopefully will make a difference to everybody that’s watching out there.”


Sigal Ratner-Arias is on Twitter at
NLRB memo: College football players are employees


Northwestern football players gather during practice at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside campus in Kenosha, Wisc., in this Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, file photo. College football players and some other athletes in revenue-generating sports are employees of their schools, the National Labor Relations Board’s top lawyer said in a memo Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, that would allow the players to unionize and otherwise negotiate over their working conditions. The nine-page NLRB memo revisited a case involving Northwestern University football players who were thwarted from forming a union when the board said that taking their side “would not promote stability in labor relations.”(AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps, File)

College athletes who earn millions for their schools are employees, the National Labor Relations Board’s top lawyer said in guidance released Wednesday that would allow players at private universities to unionize and negotiate over their working conditions.

NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo also threatened action against schools, conferences and the NCAA if they continue to use the term “student-athlete,” saying that it was created to disguise the employment relationship with college athletes and discourage them from pursuing their rights.

“The freedom to engage in far-reaching and lucrative business enterprises makes players at academic institutions much more similar to professional athletes who are employed by a team to play a sport,” Abruzzo wrote.

In a statement, the NCAA disputed the characterization of its athletes as employees and said that its member schools and conferences “continue to make great strides in modernizing rules to benefit college athletes.”

“College athletes are students who compete against other students, not employees who compete against other employees,” said the nation’s largest college sports governing body, with oversight of some 450,000 athletes. “Like other students on a college or university campus who receive scholarships, those who participate in college sports are students. Both academics and athletics are part of a total educational experience that is unique to the United States and vital to the holistic development of all who participate.”

Abruzzo’s memo does not immediately alter the dynamic between the schools and their athletes, who can receive scholarships and limited cost of attendance funding in exchange for playing sports. Instead, it is legal advice for the NLRB should a case arise.

That could be triggered by an effort by a team to unionize, a claim of an unfair labor practice or even by a school using the term “student-athlete” to mislead players about their employment status, Abruzzo said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“It just perpetuates this notion that players at academic institutions are not workers that have statutory protection,” she said. “It is chilling workers’ rights to engage with one another to improve their terms and conditions of employment.”

Gabe Feldman, the director of the Tulane Sports Law Program, said the memo is “yet another threat” to the NCAA and its business model, which relies on unpaid athletes to reap billions in revenue that is distributed to its 1,200 member schools.

“All signs point to an increasingly at-risk and fragile system of college athletics,” he said.

Although football in the five largest conferences is college sports’ biggest money-maker, the memo would extend protections to all athletes who meet the legal definition of an employee: someone who performs services for an institution and is subject to its control.

The NLRB has authority only over private schools; public university athletes would have to look to state legislatures or Congress for workplace protections. But the NCAA and the conferences could be viewed as joint employers if they control some essential terms of conditions of employment, Abruzzo told the AP.

“If they’re engaged in commerce in the private sector, they are subject to that statute,” she said.

The NLRB’s new stance — which reinstates an old opinion that had been rescinded during President Donald Trump’s administration — is the latest test for the NCAA and the infrastructure of U.S. college sports.

This spring, a unanimous Supreme Court said the NCAA cannot limit education-related benefits while hinting at the end of the NCAA’s business model. A few weeks later the organization, under pressure from multiple states, cleared the way for athletes to earn money based on their celebrity.

In this Feb. 11, 2020, file photo, NCAA President Mark Emmert testifies during a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on intercollegiate athlete compensation on Capitol Hill in Washington. College football players and some other athletes in revenue-generating sports are employees of their schools, the National Labor Relations Board’s top lawyer said in a memo Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, that would allow the players to unionize and otherwise negotiate over their working conditions.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Since March, the NCAA has also faced criticism over the disparity between the resources, branding and support afforded its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The organization is planning to overhaul its constitution, parts of which have been in place for a century.

Abruzzo also wrote that players across the country had engaged in collective action following the killing of George Floyd — action that “directly concerns terms and conditions of employment, and is protected concerted activity.” Players likewise banded together during the recent pandemic — both by arguing for games to go forward, and for rules to protect themselves once they did.

“Players at academic institutions have gained more power as they better understand their value in generating billions of dollars in revenue for their colleges and universities, athletic conferences, and the NCAA,” she wrote.

“And this increased activism and demand for fair treatment has been met with greater support from some coaches, fans, and school administrators. Players at academic institutions who engage in concerted activities to improve their working conditions have the right to be protected from retaliation.”

The nine-page NLRB memo revisited a case involving Northwestern football players who were thwarted from forming a union when the board in 2015 said that taking their side “would not promote stability in labor relations.”

Much has changed since then, including the collective social justice awakening and the Supreme Court’s Alston decision that Abruzzo said “clearly stated that this was a for-profit enterprise and wasn’t amateurism.”

If cases similar to the Northwestern one come before the NLRB, she said, it could be decided differently.

“I don’t think the board can or should punt,” she told the AP. “I think we have more information that they are statutory employees.”

The memo issued by Abruzzo, who was appointed by President Joe Biden, reversed a 2017 opinion by her predecessor. That memo had, in turn, rescinded a memo issued by President Barack Obama’s appointee, when Abruzzo was a deputy general counsel.

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey noted that the repeated reversals and conflicting court rulings make it difficult for institutions to plan.

“Considering the resulting uncertainty and to address the many other challenges facing college athletics, we hope that Congress will step in and provide clear and uniform legal standards consistent with recent court decisions,” he said.


AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.


Jimmy Golen is a Boston-based sports writer for The Associated Press and a former Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School. Follow him at


More AP sports: and
US stem cell clinics boomed while FDA paused crackdown UNDER TRUMP


David Stringham holds prescription bottles at his home Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, in Provo, Utah. Stringham says undergoing a procedure for shoulder and elbow pain at a local clinic in 2018 was "the worst decision of my life" and left him in more pain. Since then, a neurologist has told Stringham he probably suffered nerve damage at the places where he was injected.
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hundreds of clinics pushing unproven stem cell procedures caught a big break from the U.S. government in 2017: They would have three years to show that their questionable treatments were safe and worked before regulators started cracking down.

But when the Food and Drug Administration’s grace period expired in late May — extended six months due to the pandemic — the consequences became clear: Hundreds more clinics were selling the unapproved treatments for arthritis, Alzheimer’s, COVID-19 and many other conditions.

“It backfired,” says Leigh Turner, a bioethicist at the University of California, Irvine. “The scale of the problem is vastly larger for FDA today than it was at the start.”

The continuing spread of for-profit clinics promoting stem cells and other so-called “regenerative” therapies — including concentrated blood products — illustrates how quickly experimental medicine can outpace government oversight. No clinic has yet won FDA approval for any stem cell offering and regulators now confront an enormous, uncooperative industry that contends it shouldn’t be subject to regulation.

Although emerging research suggests stem cells could someday have broad use for a number of medical conditions, experts say they should not be used outside of well-controlled studies or a handful of established uses. For instance, stem cells collected from blood or bone marrow have long been used to treat leukemia and other blood diseases.

Many clinics use so-called adult stem cells collected from tissue like fat or bone marrow — not the more versatile but controversial stem cells from embryos used in research.

Turner and other experts have tracked the growth of the clinics for nearly a decade. Clinics charge between $2,000 to $25,000 for adult stem cell injections and other infusions which they advertise for an assortment of diseases, including diabetes, autism, cancer, multiple sclerosis and vision problems. Some clinics use stem cells derived from fat, harvested via liposuction then reinjected into patients, aiming to repair joints or fight disease. Others use bone marrow or blood taken from umbilical cords after birth.

There is no government tally of how many clinics operate in the U.S. But Turner counted more than 1,200 of them in 2019, up from the 570 clinics he and a co-author identified in 2016. He’s working on an update but says the number has consistently grown.

The FDA has repeatedly warned Americans to steer clear of unapproved and unproven stem cell therapies, which have occasionally caused blindness, bacterial infections and tumors. During FDA’s three-plus years of “enforcement discretion,” the agency sent formal warning letters to more than a dozen businesses performing the riskiest procedures. Regulators also prevailed in a Florida court case to shutdown a major clinic offering unproven treatments. Another case against a similar prominent company is pending in California.

“It’s time to actually get the data we need,” to assess clinics’ stem cell procedures, FDA’s Dr. Peter Marks said at an industry conference in June. He pointed to a multiyear effort by FDA to help clinics through the review process.

Many stem cell doctors continue to argue that their in-office procedures are outside FDA’s purview. But FDA has concluded that processing stem cells and giving them to patients with serious diseases amounts to creating a new drug, which the agency regulates.

The FDA hasn’t disclosed how many clinics sought approval since 2017, but public comments suggest it was troublingly low.

“We have been very disappointed in the number of clinics that have come in,” FDA’s Dr. Wilson Bryan said at the same conference.

Bryan, who directs FDA’s cell therapies division, added that he is “extremely concerned” by how many stem cell and related offerings remain available.

Tracking injuries from the procedures is difficult. Drugmakers and hospitals are required to report drug-related complications to the FDA, but no such requirements exist for individual doctors. And patients often don’t know where to report problems.

David Stringham of Provo, Utah, says undergoing a procedure for joint pain at a local clinic was “the worst decision of my life.”

In 2018, Stringham was looking for an alternative to surgery for chronic pain in his right shoulder and elbows after years of weightlifting. He paid $2,400 for injections of so-called platelet-rich plasma at a clinic. It doesn’t involve stem cells but the procedure is similar: doctors take a blood sample, process it to concentrate the platelets and then reinject them into the patient’s problem areas in an attempt to speed healing.

The procedure went smoothly, but within hours Stringham was wracked by pain in his back, shoulder and arms.

“It was a crazy amount of pain and I kept calling them saying ‘something is not right,’” said the 51-year-old. ”And to this day I’m not right.”

The clinic gave Stringham medication for the pain and told him to be patient. But things didn’t improve, even after months of physical therapy. Since then, a neurologist has told Stringham he probably suffered nerve damage at the places where he was injected.

His case was included in a Pew Charitable Trusts review of 360 reported injuries from stem cell and other regenerative procedures between 2004 and 2020. Nearly all the reports came from medical journals, government publications, social media or news reports. Just five came from FDA’s database for medical injuries.

“There are a lot of holes in the safety system,” said Liz Richardson of Pew, who led the project.

The FDA didn’t clearly assert its authority over such clinics until 2017. The next year, it began sending form letters to some 400 clinics, warning that they may be violating FDA rules. But the names of the clinics haven’t been publicized, and such warnings are often ignored.

Traditional medical researchers welcome the FDA actions but say it’s impossible to gauge their effect.

“The business model is this: ’We can keep offering these products until things get serious with the FDA — and then we can just take down our website,” said Laertis Ikonomou, a stem cell researcher at the University of Buffalo.

He and other specialists say the clinics have damaged the reputation of legitimate stem cell research while also siphoning off patients who might otherwise enroll in studies.

Lawyers representing stem cell clinics say they have no choice but to resist FDA regulation.

“FDA is pushing them into this drug development pathway, which nobody is adopting because it requires a million dollars’ worth of toxicology and animal studies just to show something is safe for human use,” said Marc Scheineson, a former FDA attorney.

For now, people on both sides are waiting to see what FDA does.

“We shouldn’t feel too confident that the FDA has this wrapped up” said Turner, the bioethicist. “They really have invested some resources and they are trying to do something here but I think they’re just outmatched and overwhelmed.”


Follow Matthew Perrone on Twitter: @AP_FDAwriter


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.