A Baby Born With Her Heart Outside Her Body Is Believed to Be the First in U.K. to Survive

(TIME) Laignee Barron, December 14, 2017 — Against all odds, a British baby born with her heart outside her body is alive and recovering from her third surgery.

Vanellope Hope Wilkins, who was delivered three weeks ago in the English city of Leicester, was born with the extremely rare condition ectopia cordis, the BBC reports.

She is believed to be the first baby with the condition in the U.K. to survive, according to staff at the Glenfield Hospital where she is being treated.

Vanellope’s parents, Naomi Findlay, 31, and Dean Wilkins, 43, from Nottingham, told the BBC they were advised to terminate the pregnancy when ultrasounds showed the baby had no breastplate and her heart was outside her chest.

“The chances of survival were next to none — no-one believed she was going to make it except us,” Wilkins said.

Source: time.com/5062034/baby-heart-outside-body-ectopia-cordis/

Tax Plan Won’t Pay For Itself

(NEWSWEEK)  , December 13, 2017 — After months of pressure from watchdog groups, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, led by Trump appointee Steve Mnuchin, has released a one-page analysisof the Republican tax bill. The report shows that even when analyzed under Republican-favored methods, the tax cuts will enlarge the federal deficit and require additional policy changes to create the revenue needed to pay for them.

The analysis shows that only half of the growth will come from the trickle-down effect of the tax cuts. The other half would be spurred by a “combination of regulatory reform, infrastructure development, and welfare reform.” This means that in order for the tax plan to make up for its estimated $1.5 trillion addition to the federal debt, Congress will have to pass sweeping infrastructure legislation and cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, as well as other unspecified regulatory reform.

The report also assumes that the economy will experience nearly 3 percent in growth over the next 10 years—that’s a level of growth the U.S. hasn’t seen since 2005. “We acknowledge that some economists predict different growth rates,” the Treasury wrote in the document.

Source: newsweek.com/tax-plan-treasury-social-security-medicare-republicans-trump-744391

Pipe Bomb Explodes in New York Subway Walkway

(NEW YORK TIMES)— A 27-year-old man set off a pipe bomb strapped to his body during the morning rush hour on Monday, deep inside one of Manhattan’s busiest commuter corridors, the police said.

The blast echoed through the subway tunnels just off Times Square, and filled parts of the Port Authority Bus Terminal with smoke as commuters fled into the streets to escape what the authorities quickly concluded was an act of terror.

A suspect, identified by the police as Akayed Ullah, an immigrant from Bangladesh who lived in Brooklyn, was in police custody. He suffered burns to his hands and abdomen, and was in serious condition at Bellevue Hospital Center, according to Daniel A. Nigro, the commissioner of the New York Fire Department. Four other people had minor injuries, he said.

The explosion occurred at 7:20 a.m., the police said, in a pedestrian walkway connecting the Eighth Avenue, Seventh Avenue and Broadway lines, and was captured on surveillance video.

Source: New York Times, 12.11.17, article

Small Explosive Device Detonated In Midtown Subway Corridor

(MSCC) John Mudd, December 11, 2017 — At 7:20am On December 11, 2017, the 27 year-old suspected perpetrator, Okayed Ullah, set off a small tech explosive device, while walking along the underground corridor linking the IND 8th Avenue trains to the IRT 7th Avenue trains.  Three people Suffered minor injuries, while the suspect suffered more life threatening injuries. Activity around Port Authority is on lock down, streets are blocked from 34th Street to 42nd Street.

All factions (Midtown South Precinct, Bomb Squad, Terrorism Task Force, FBI…) of enforcement were on scene, and as the Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo. It was an orderly and controlled atmosphere. All was calm. The picture (left) was taken just after 9:00am.

A press conference held on our city streets at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, officials reported, “device was based on a pipe-bomb and affixed to his [the suspect’s] person with a combination of zip-ties and velcro”.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters that “this was an attempted terrorist attack.” Adding that there are “no additional known incidents at this time” and “there are no additional known activities.”

Eighth Avenue was open to traffic before 2:00pm, and all trains are expected to resume their normal everyday operation by the afternoon rush.

 

Hang A Tale’s “Hold These Truths” at the Sheen Center

Hold These Truths is inspired by the true story from a little-known chapter of American history, when civil liberties were under attack, constitutional rights violated, and issues of race hotly debated by a divided country. Written by Jeanne Sakata and directed by Lisa Rothe, this powerful and timely play stars Joel de la Fuente (Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle) as Gordon Hirabayashi in his Drama Desk nominated solo performance.

Hang a Tale Theater Company was nominated for a 2015 Off-Broadway Alliance Award for its production of The Little Prince at the Pearl Theatre. Previous New York productions include A Winter’s Tale, The Dumb Waiter, and Insignificance (in collaboration with London’s Defibrillator Theatre Co.). Hang a Tale seeks both to reinvigorate classic texts and to find fresh stories that respond to the world around us. We are a company of New York artists who embrace a diverse, dynamic theater heritage and seek tales of universality, both old and new, that transcend the limitations of time.

Hold These Truths runs from December 6–20, 2017 at the Sheen Center

Source: https://sheencenter.org/shows/holdthesetruths/

MSCC’s Urban Farming and Fashion High School Meeting Minutes

(MSCC) Andrea Winter, December 10, 2017 — MSCC / Inner City Farmers viewed the fashion High School for a possible roof top farm project

Meeting: Fashion High School

Subject: Roof Farm on 10th floor terrace

In Attendance: Judith Dahill, Karen Batts, Andrea Winter

To start, Karen showed me the 10th Floor roof.

Goals: Specific to the HS—We discussed our “farm” which produced 500 pounds of produce and donated most of it. The farm proposed at the HS will have food to distribute as well as a green space to use. The school can do the same by giving food to a shelter or pantry or come up with plan as to what is best use of the produce (how best to help the community). I explained to Karen and Judith that one of the main purposes or our plan (MSCC and Inner City farmer) is to donate food.  However, we can also grow flowers, which help with pollination (attract bees), can also be donated or sold to help defray costs as well as being pleasant to look at. If the terrace is used by the school as a space for learning and gathering, students can sketch them. They also attract all kinds of insect, butterflies and bees. (Are bees insects?) as well as birds.  Karen suggested growing milkweed, which attracts and help monarch butterflies. We have had quite a few monarchs that enjoy our roof garden especially the zinnias in addition to praying mantis, lovely small birds, bees, etc.  The roof also serves to “green” NYC turning Co2 caused by fumes which abounds in NYC into oxygen as well as having an insulating quality.

Composting is another goal. All the food substances are gold for composting. This turns the problem of waste into an asset. Most of  the balance of the compost will come from the gardens when plants are trimmed and then cut down in late fall. I will send Judith the link for rotating composter. I think the school can start with one or two and get more if needed. We also discussed that natural fabric such as muslin can be composted. FIT donates theirs to Governor Island farm.

Educational goals include: Learning how plants grow. We hope to be able to make a “nursery” for seedling on the premises. Judith and Karen will look into a space where grow lights can be hooked up and shelving put up for trays of seedling. The students can plant the seeds, water and watch them grow. We discussed how this could work.  These seedlings would be used on the 10th floor “farm” and some can go home with students along with a small fabric pot and some soil.

(more…)

For some inmates, being released can be more terrifying than being locked up

(USA TODAY) Terrance Coffie, December 10, 2017 — The day began like so many others.

I was standing in my apartment, drinking coffee and watching the news.

My past — which was filled with horrible decisions that had led to drug use and multiple attempted robberies — was weighing heavily on my mind. I had long since left that lifestyle behind. But, as a former felon, I live in a society that doesn’t let criminal pasts be easily forgiven or forgotten.

It was 8 a.m. — just 25 minutes before I had to catch the train to work.

POLICING THE USA: A look at race, justice, media

RE-ENTRY: Is America failing its prisoners?

Nearly anything can trigger a prison memory. That morning, it was the audible tick-tick-tick of the clock in my kitchen. It reminded me of a moment eight years earlier when I was sitting inside the Miami-Dade County jail watching a similar clock, waiting to hear about my release.

After 19 years in and out of prison, I was no longer afraid of incarceration. But when the guard opened the cell door and told me the charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against me had been dropped, I was terrified.

Source: usatoday.com/story/opinion/policing/spotlight/2017/12/08/recidivism-reentry-incarceration-jail-prison-policingtheusa/838057001/

Healthy Holiday Gift Guide

(THE NOURISHED EPICUREAN) Kathryn Mattes, December 9, 2017 — Ahhh…December.  Rather than think of this month as an “ending” of a year; think of it as the perfect time to plan for a fresh start.  In the spirit of the season, give the gift of better health to yourself or to someone you love.

One of the most effective gateways to better health is cooking more meals at home.

In a John Hopkins Public Health study, researchers found that, among 9,000 participants, aged 20 and older, those who cooked dinner more frequently (3 or more times a week) at home, ate fewer calories than those who cooked less—both at home and when eating out.  Eating home-cooked dinners was also associated with lower calorie intake and eating less fat, sugar and fast food.1

Another study of 11,000-plus participants in the U.K., aged 29 to 64, found that those who ate home-cooked meals more than 5 times a week—compared to less than 3 times a week—ate more vegetables and fruits and were significantly less likely to have a BMI or body fat percentage in the “overweight” or “obese” range.2

Irrespective of whether weight loss is a goal, eating more home-cooked meals is linked to healthier eating overall, a longer and better quality of life, and reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.3

Source: Healthy Holiday Gift Guide – the nourished epicurean.

UN Experts Say Video Footage of Taser Use in US Jails Reveals Torture

(COMMON DREAMS) Andrea Germanos, December 9, 2017 — United Nations experts had a damning assessment of taser use in U.S. jails, saying footage they viewed revealed the need for investigations and in some cases showed abusive use of the devices so severe it amounted to torture.

The watchdogs viewed video footage obtained by Reuters of 22 incidents in four jails: Franklin County, Ohio; Cheatham County, Tennessee; Franklin County, Arkansas; and McCurtain County, Oklahoma.

In addition to showing the need for probe, Nils Melzer, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, said most of the incidents “are likely to merit prosecution.”

Reuters‘ multi-part investigation on Tasers includes chilling details of their use on people detained—people who were often posing no threat, and may have been pinned down or handcuffed.

“When you use a tool like this on an incapacitated person, to me it certainly amounts to cruel and degrading treatment,” Melzer told the news agency.

One case Melzer said “looks like a case of torture” was the 2009 tasing of 20-year-old pregnant and nearly naked Martini Smith. After having been in handcuffs for six hours, Smith told the Franklin Co., Ohio officers she was unable to comply with their demand to take her tongue ring out. The officers tased her in the chest. She miscarried five days later.

“It’s not that she physically resisted or would have been dangerous to the officer,” Melzer said.

Source: UN Experts Say Video Footage of Taser Use in US Jails Reveals Torture | Common Dreams.

As World Warms, Heart-Breaking Video Shows What It Looks Like When a Polar Bear Starves

(COMMON DREAMS) Julia Conley, December 9, 2017 — A video of a starving polar bear led to calls for climate change denialists to confront the real-world effects of global warming this week. Taken by a Canadian conservationist and photographer and posted to social media, the video offered a stark visual of the drastic impacts of climate change that have already begun taking root.

“When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death. This is what a starving bear looks like.”—Paul Nicklen, photographer

Paul Nicklen was traveling with the conservation group Sea Legacy in Canada’s Baffin Islands, located in the Arctic, when he spotted the emaciated animal struggling to walk across the dry land—historically covered with ice in December and home to seals that polar bears rely on for food. The bear searched in vain for sustenance in a trashcan before collapsing.

“When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like,” said Nicklen in an interview with National Geographic.“Bears are going to starve to death. This is what a starving bear looks like.”

 

Source As World Warms, Heart-Breaking Video Shows What It Looks Like When a Polar Bear Starves | Common Dreams.