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Sinema Paradiso – Biden loves this movie

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It was a shocker out of nowhere when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a week ago that he had reached a deal with Senator Joe Manchin on a revival of significant pieces of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda for the American people:

  • The largest investment in clean energy and renewables ever undertaken by the United States, putting the US more firmly on track to meeting most of its 2030 carbon reduction targets
  • Reduced prescription drug prices for consumers and cuts in health insurance premiums – saving millions of households billions of dollars in the cost of medicines and health care
  • A national minimum corporate tax – with no tax increases for Americans earning less than $400,000

BEVERLY HILLS CALIFORNIA – It was less than a month ago that Manchin shredded Biden’s agenda, leaving the president’s party with very little to show voters this November that they can govern. 

Disunity among Democrats means political death, because if the party that controls the House, the Senate and the White House cannot produce the legislative goods for the American people, the Democrats’ half life going into the November midterms will be halved again.

Finally, the Democrats in the Senate fully understood this, from the socialist warrior Bernie Sanders, who decried what was left of the ambitious Biden agenda (this bill “does not address the major crises facing working families,” he said) to Ed Markey, the leader for decades on climate change. Markey said he would vote “to protect” the Schumer-Manchin-Sinema compromise — “which means voting no on amendments, even ones I support” on climate.  Both Senators understood it was better to get something real done than to be left with nothing for voters – that no Democratic Senator could let the best be the enemy of the good, as much as they hated settling for far less than they wanted.

Even Kirsten Sinema of Arizona finally came to the party she had helped wreck last December, when her vote for the Biden agenda was not certain. She stood firm on nixing one funding mechanism – taxing wealth industry managers on their capital gains – by accepting other taxes that would more than foot the bill.  

As they say here in Hollywood, Sinema Paradiso was a boffo performance.  And the president loved it:

“Today, Senate Democrats sided with American families over special interests, voting to lower the cost of prescription drugs, health insurance, and everyday energy costs and reduce the deficit, while making the wealthiest corporations finally pay their fair share.  I ran for President promising to make government work for working families again, and that is what this bill does — period.”

Behind the scenes, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who last year when everything was booming blew the whistle on the inflation that has been roaring across America for months, concluded that these social items, paid for in this way, would help curb inflation.  Other eminent economists concurred.

And to nail that point, this bill is called the “Inflation Reduction Act.”

The Senate vote on Sunday, with the 50-50 tie between Democrats and Republicans broken by Vice President Kamala Harris, capped one of Biden’s best months in office:  The killing in Kabul of the head of Al Qaida, the passage of the most significant industrial policy legislation in years to spur the strength and competitive edge of the US semiconductor industry, overdue legislation to care for veterans exposed to burn pits in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the new gun safety legislation. And this new legislation will build on the trillion-dollar infrastructure rebuilding program enacted into law last year. And Biden had Covid.

Suddenly, Joe Biden looks good in the Director’s chair.

One more vote later this week in the House of Representatives will crystallize all this.  The same political lesson re-learned by Senate Democrats now is staring House Democrats in the face.  They have a margin of four votes.  Unity will ensure victory; defections will bring down the curtain on dozens of their House colleagues – and themselves.

All this sudden legislative momentum, after months of paralysis, is occurring when the extremism of the Trump Supreme Court is causing a shift in the political tectonic plates.  Last week, in one of the most Republican states in the country, Kansas, voters decisively rejected a state constitutional amendment to prohibit abortion. That meant that a lot of Republicans in Kansas (!) thought the Supreme Court had gone too far. In Indiana late last week, the Republican legislature passed one of the strictest anti-abortion laws anywhere -and it was immediately signed by the governor.  This will happen in other states. 

Millions of women, and those who care about them, are angry that their constitutional right to reproductive health care has been taken away.  And they are mobilizing to vote in November.

Republican political hardheads are worried the anti-abortion zealots have gone too far.

For all these reasons, this is a moment for Democrats to show they can deliver on significant promises they made to the American people in 2020 and shift the polarity of these extraordinarily polarizing times.

If they fail in the House, this movie is over.

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

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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?

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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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TICKER NEWS INSIGHT

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

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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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