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Biden’s shredded agenda and the lessons of history



President Biden was in Israel when the shocking news came late last Thursday night in Washington:  talks between Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, and Senator Joe Manchin, the champion of the coal industry from West Virginia, to reach agreement on what was left of President Biden’s ambitious legislative agenda on climate change, health and taxes had collapsed. 

SUMMIT COUNTY COLORADO — Manchin had had enough. He repeated his brutal termination of Biden’s transformative Build Back Better program – the centerpiece of his first term – last December.  

The Biden agenda has been shredded with a vengeance. 

Gone – with no hope for passage in Congress – are Biden programs across education, health care, seniors and income security to help working families cope with the costs of living.  Biden’s program offered universal pre-k, childcare, public housing, paid family leave, dental, vision care for seniors, free community college.

Biden also faces recession fears amid inflation and soar in cost of living.

Gone are minimum taxes on super-billionaires to fund these social equity programs.  Gone is Biden’s proposed global minimum tax Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have asked global economic allies – including Australia – to adopt.  

And gone was any hope for any meaningful progress on climate change – a pillar of Biden’s presidency. 

The inability to pass any legislation to effectively fund the move towards renewables and electric vehicles means that the United States will not meet its 2030 climate targets of a 50% reduction in fossil fuel emissions by 2030.   It means that President Biden, for all his commitment on this issue, can offer only words on behalf of the United States – and not action.

Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts has been a warrior on clean energy and climate change for decades.  His anger was on display for the world:

Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts

“Rage keeps me from tears. Resolve keeps me from despair. We will not allow a future of climate disaster. I believe in the power of the Green New Deal. The power of young people. I am with you. We will not give up.”   

For all his work, Biden will be lucky, come September, to get the Democrats in the House and Senate to unite to pass legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and extend health insurance premium under Obamacare. 

That’s it.  And that is not enough.

In January 2021, my co-author Bryan Marshall and I wrote a foreword for the new edition of our book, The Committee: A Study of Policy, Power, Politics and Obama’s Historic Legislative Agenda on Capitol Hill.  We saw some important lessons for Biden from the Obama-Biden years over a decade ago.  With the Democrats controlling both the House and Senate, and together with Biden in the White House, we wrote:


We therefore see the course of the first two years of President Biden’s historic legislative agenda on Capitol Hill as revisiting and operating with the benefits of lessons drawn from much of the history from the 111th Congress in 2009–10.

In 2021, the issues include addressing profound issues of economic inequality, racial justice and voting rights, gun control, forging a renewable energy economy, reforming immigration, and rebuilding America’s infrastructure.  

If the infrastructure program is enacted, on top of the rescue bill, and health care and education and income security programs are expanded, if real results are apparent by the end of 2021, then the killer midterm history for the incumbent party in the White House, where they lose on average two dozen seats, may not recur next year. This is why the Democrats are insistent this get done. Biden wants— and needs—to show the country, and the world, that American democracy can work again. And Democrats need to show that the Congress they lead can do big things. Because they cannot win the midterms if they cannot govern. 

Biden and the Democrats are paying a vicious political price from their failures in the context of this history

There are no deliverables from this Congress on economic inequality, racial justice, voting rights, gun control, and immigration.  And nothing on climate.  And for American women, their constitutional right to abortion has been lost. And Congress has failed to pass a law to restore it.

The midterm elections are less than four months away.  Biden’s approval rating is in the 30’s. Over 75% of the voters believe America is on the wrong track.  Inflation and interest rates are soaring.  Younger voters are massively turned off.

The midterm elections are less than four months away.

The lessons of history from a decade ago, with a 50-50 Senate requiring all Democrats to stick together – and Biden ensuring that they did – left no margin for error.  America’s democracy is not working.  Congress is unable to do big things. 

The whole world can see it. There is every risk the Democrats will lose their control of Congress in the midterms because they are not governing.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

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Leading athletes and medical experts push for medicinal cannabis in sport



Leading lawmakers, medical experts and athletes are pushing for therapeutic use of medicinal cannabis for chronic pain and injury

Basketball star Brittney Griner is one of the leading players of her generation. She jumped into the spotlight for serving a sentence for possession of cannabis oil in Russia.

It begs the question whether medicinal cannabis and athletes are a good mix. Well, many lawmakers, health experts and athletes around the world want to break down the stigmas associated with its use.

Many want to use Griner’s ordeal as motivation to change cannabis laws and therapeutic use exemptions in sports.

Mark Brayshaw, Managing Director of Levin Health has spoken closely with Dr. Peter Brukner who is a world-renowned Australian sports medicine clinician and researcher.

Dr. Peter Brukner

Brukner believes athletes should be able to compete in their field with medicinal cannabis because it doesn’t enhance their performance.

“Medicinal cannabis is arguably performance diminishing rather than performance enhancing…

It’s likely to be taken off the ban list in the near future.”

Mark Brayshaw, Managing Director of Levin Health

“I don’t see there are any risks at all.”

Mark Brayshaw, Managing Director of Levin Health

Brayshaw believes there are higher risks for athletes becoming addicted to anti-inflammatory and opioids. As opposed to any risks associated with taking medicinal cannabis.

He explains it enables athletes to function in a healthy way, pain free.

Overall, there is hope Griner’s case will break down stigma surrounding natural medicines and athletes.

In Australia, there are tens of thousands of new applications for medicinal cannabis every month.

“We’re seeing a significant stigma reduction… There are 30,000 new applications every month [in Australia] for medicinal cannabis...

In the right hands, and through a GP it can be a very safe alternative to opioids and anti-inflammatories in the treatment of chronic pain.”

Mark Brayshaw, Managing Director of Levin Health

There are also growing calls for countries to adopt therapeutic use exemptions in sport, including in the Australian Football League.

“We’ve got Alistair Clarkson and Damien Hardwick on our board, they’ve taken a keen interest… Yes, it’s on the rise.”

Mark Brayshaw, Managing Director of Levin Health

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Why is China’s changing its strategy to handling the pandemic?



Changes to China’s COVID policies are coming thick and fast, much faster than many people anticipated given how strict the country has been in the last few years, the latest big announcement is around an app that people had to install on their phone

Then it tracked them when they travelled across the country, alerting them if they’ve been to a high risk COVID area, the government says that that app is now deactivated and people no longer have to have it installed on their phones.

It’s yet another indication of the change in China’s strategy to handling the pandemic.

We’ve seen changes related to quarantine, and also testing as well. And a real change in narrative from the authorities when talking about the virus and how dangerous it is. Now officially case numbers are dropping.

But that is largely due to the fact that much less testing is taking place, and we are seeing signs that in reality cases are surging.

There’s queues of people outside of pharmacies, queuing to get medication for colds and for fevers, and also self testing kits as well.

On social media, many people in China now saying that they have caught COVID For the first time, or that they know a number of people who have COVID When previously they didn’t know anyone at all.

So it’s clear that cases are rising, and this is coming just the month before the Chinese New Year holidays, which will take place at the end of January, traditionally a time when millions of people will travel across the country.

We would expect that to happen this year, as travel within China is now much easier.

So we would expect COVID cases to spread across the country talking to travel and is yet no sign of when the borders will open internationally.

Still very, very hard to get into China and very strict. When people do enter and the procedures they have to follow.

Maybe the government will wait and see how the first phase of reopening goes domestically, before thinking internationally?

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Children are our future, but cancer is impacting far too many of them



Children are our future and that’s why investing in childhood cancer is critical to improving treatments and research

Cancer does not discriminate. It is a major cause of death in children worldwide. While there has been tremendous progress in fighting childhood cancer, significant investment is required to improve access to treatments and diversify research.

Lance Kawaguchi, who heads Cure Brain Cancer Foundation is passionate about raising awareness and funds to beat childhood cancer.

“It’s critically important that we invest more in childhood cancer…I want to make sure that we can have enough funds to support not just certain types of cancer… But also the ones that have less volume.”

Lance kawaguchi, ceo, cure brain cancer

Why invest in Childhood Cancer?

Childhood cancer is a major cause of death in children worldwide, impacting children aged 0-14.

The most common cancers diagnosed in children is leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), brain and nervous system cancers.

Significant investment is required to improve access to treatments and diversify research.

Often, certain types of cancers remain underfunded and under-researched. However, just because they’re less common, shouldn’t mean they’re less important.

Brain Stem brain tumours like DIPG, primarily affects children, with most diagnoses occurring between 5 and 7 years of age.

It makes up approximately 10-15% of all brain tumours in children. Unfortunately, fewer than 10% of children survive.

Simon Gray lost his son Tom when he was seven years old, and is on a mission to prevent other parents from going through the same grief.

We need to raise more funds for this kind of cancer… We don’t want another parent to have to sit in a room with a bunch of doctors and be told ‘just go create some memories, there’s no if buts or maybe, he’s just going to die’

Simon Gray, cancer advocate

Need For More Specific Paediatric Cancer Treatments

There is a need to develop cancer treatments specifically for children and invest more in enabling this to happen effectively.

A relative lack of cancer research in children limits how to treat them. As a result, some children with cancer are dealt adult treatments, which are often ineffective.

Childhood cancer treatments very rarely reach FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) or EMA (European Medicines Agency) approval.

Therefore, it’s critical that more money is invested into treatment and research for childhood cancer.

Katie Banovich’s 6-year-old son Greyson is a cancer survivor. Greyson has emerged as an inspiration to all those who hear his story. His courage and resilience are a testament that no one should ever give up hope when confronted with adversity.

Katie believes it is through our collective efforts that we will continue to make strides in the fight against childhood cancers.

“Get involved, everyone can help. Awareness of the problem leads to motivation to solve it. And motivation leads to action.”

Katie banovich, cancer advocate

Any family can be impacted by childhood cancer, it does not discriminate. For some they have a positive outcome, but for many they are forced to live out a nightmare.

It’s crucial that we make the fight against childhood cancer a global fight.

In our experience, the key flaws have been a lack of options for treating paediatric brain cancers.

Our daughter Olivia was diagnosed at 18 months… It’s very high risk giving children radiation at such a young age.
.. We had limited options.

Andrew macphillamy, cancer advocate

Centres of Excellence fighting childhood cancer

1. Australia – Children’s Cancer Institute

The Children’s Cancer Institute (CCI) in Australia is celebrating thirty years of working with like-minded individuals and organisations to fund innovative research projects, world-class clinical care, and quality family support programs. To date, the foundation has raised over A$60.5 million. This capital was spent on a range of programs that align with the CCIs goals of improving the lives of children affected by cancer.

2. Qatar – Sidra Medicine

Sidra Medicine, located in the innovative Education City in Qatar is a benchmark for family healthcare in the Middle East. This 400-bed medical centre caters solely to women and children, offering state-of-the-art health care in a collaborative, research-driven environment. Sidra Medicine aims to establish itself as a global leader in the research of cancer and precision medicine. In September 2022, the institute published a study highlighting the successful use of precision medicine to guide the treatment of some paediatric cancers.

3. US – National Pediatric Cancer Foundation

Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death resulting from illness in children aged four to fourteen in the United States. Sadly, only 4% of the billions of dollars spent on cancer research annually go to funding research for paediatric cancers. The National Pediatric Cancer Foundation (NPCF) formed an innovative collaboration called the Sunshine Project. The primary goal of this project is to fast-track a more targeted and less toxic cure for paediatric cancer by bringing together the nation’s foremost researchers and medical professionals. Since 2005, the Sunshine Project has funded several clinical trials and translational studies in excess of US$ 33 million.

4. The European Society for Paediatric Oncology

The European Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOPE) was established to ensure optimal care and outcomes for children and adolescents with cancer in Europe. The society is active across many areas including research, care, training and education, and EU advocacy. They are driven to facilitate collaborative research across the European continent as well as the promotion of novel treatment modalities in use in clinical trials. Seated in Brussels, SIOPE is ideally situated to promote and advocate better policies for children with cancer to EU policy makers.

Report contributed by Holly Stearnes, Lance Kawaguchi and Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.

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