The Good: FDA Fast-tracks Magic Mushrooms To Treat Depression
As America continues to wade in one of the worst opioid epidemics the U.S. ever seen, new research has suggested a new method of treating depression, a condition currently effecting nearly 16 million Americans.
Researchers at John Hopkins University have officially suggested to the FDA that mushrooms containing the psychoactive substance psilocybin be removed from the Schedule I drug classification restricting it from being used medicinally, to a schedule IV narcotic, allowing qualified patients to seek mushrooms as a treatment. Researchers likely won’t be able to overturn the FDA’s classification for another several years while they complete experiments and collect data, however researchers are optimistic continued trials will provide enough evidence.
Although a 5 year timeline for the potentially life saving alternative to prescription drugs seems like a blow to suffering patients, hopes are high with researchers. So far the FDA has approved the trials to be conducted without the pushback and scrutiny that plagued researchers in the 60’s when the drug was widely seen as part of hippie culture. Trial goers, mostly containing women, were given micro doses of psilocybin and managed by medical professionals who oversaw their progress.
Psilocybin has often been used to stimulate creativity, however scientists have also had success treating other ailments such as arthritis and anxiety. If mushrooms become available for prescription use, researchers hope to reduce the number of opioid deaths per year, which claimed 70,000 lives last year.
The Bad: Scientists Warn El Niño Weather Phenomenon Possible In 2019
The World Metrological Organization has reported this week that another visit from the weather altering El Niño may be imminent in the next several months. The phenomenon usually occurs every 3-5 years as winds and temperature change in the Pacific Ocean.
Scientists reviewing forecasted weather pattern data for December and February claim the patterns are associated with the onset of El Niño. Although officials believe the storm will be milder than it’s 2015 predecessor which caused major flooding, droughts and coral bleaching, they also warn that the storm will still have implications on rainfall and temperatures. Sudden changes in weather can have negative impacts on the overall climate and has the potential to harm water resources, agriculture, and overall public health.
The atmospheric event is estimated to have a 75 – 80% chance of occurring within the next several months. As farmers and businesses brace for what could potentially be a harsh economy for the next several months, the conversation concerning our environmental crisis continues to gain attention. WMO spokeswomen Claire Nullis addressed the issue in a statement to Voanews.com: “…we need to bear in mind, we have got climate change…So, every El Nino, every La Nina, which takes place now is taking place against a background of the fact that we are living in a dramatically altered climate compared to even 50 years ago. So, the impacts, for instance, on heat waves are likely to be more pronounced than they were several decades ago.”
In addition to the WMO’s report, the U.N. has also released a report this week estimating that the world has to triple it’s efforts to reduce gas emissions if we are to make our 2020 climate change deadline. Some researchers believe the heightened effects of El Niño on the climate may sway nations to act quickly.
The Good: Former Trump Lawyer Pleads Guilty To Misleading Congress
This week Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to charges that he lied to Congress about how long negotiations had taken place between the Trump camp and Russian officials who were negotiating the construction of a new Trump Tower in Moscow. Originally Cohen swore to congressional constituents that he nor any of Trump’s association had knowledge of Russia meddling in the 2016 election and had ended business with Russia in November. However, Cohen has recanted, admitting that he was the point person for the Moscow project and conversations between the two parties continued until at least June.
Cohen’s confession reveals that while Trump was in negotiations with Russia concerning his new skyscraper he was also using his platform as Presidential nominee to promote Russian ties and the removal of Obama era sanctions that would benefit his family business.
Trump so far has said he is innocent of any wrong doing citing his “no-conflict-of-interest provision as president.” “There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?” said Trump to reporters in Buenos Aires.
Investigators are likely to continue their probe into Cohen in an attempt to uncover the truth about the elections and if any collusion between Russian and Trump’s cabinet altered election results.
The Bad: Mother of 8 Denied Appeal In Voting Fraud Case
While the facts involved in Rosa Maria Ortega’s voter fraud case are blurry, the attorney generals office in Texas he announced that Ortega, who was charged with voter fraud for casting her vote 5 times between 2005 and 2014 will be denied an appeal and will face up to 8 years in prison, likely being deported following the conclusion to her sentence.
Ortega, 37, mother of 4 teen children and a national from Mexico was brought to the U.S. as a child, later becoming a permanent resident. She believed she was qualified to vote, stating that the voter registration information she received was “confusing” but managed to register and cast her ballot for Republican incumbents and the current Texas Attorney General whose office is now prosecuting her.
Voter fraud cases in the United States are rarely pursued and most outcomes end in probation, however Ortega’s attorney believes that his client is a victim of Trump’s unfounded accusations that 3 million illegal votes were casted among non citizens during the past election, a point prosecutors used to sway the jury, all of whom were from a community that mostly sided with Trump’s campaign according to polls. Although Ortega’s attorney tried to steer jurors away from the Trump’s wild and unfounded claims of massive voter fraud, the judge refused to allow him to incorporate that into Ortega’s defense.
“It was the 800-pound gorilla sitting in the jury box,” Ortega’s attorney said. “I would have said: You cannot hold this woman accountable for Donald Trump’s fictitious 3 million votes.”
Although the prosecution has denied that the case has anything to do with immigration, political analysts believe the case has been publicized in an effort to scare immigrants from the democratic process.
The Good: Samsung Apologizes To Cancer Victims, Promises Compensation
Samsung’s co-President Kim Ki-Nam held a press conference and apologized former employees who developed various illnesses from working in Samsung’s factories. “We have failed to properly manage health risks at our semiconductor and LCD factories. We sincerely apologize to the workers who suffered from illness and their families,”
The apology and confession came as part of the settlement agreement between Samsung and the attorneys representing the victims. Each family will also be awarded $133,000 in addition. The lawsuit began after campaigners vilified the company in 2007 after workers reported over a dozen different types of cancers, miscarriages and multiple sclerosis.
Although it appears Samsung will remain true to their word and compensate victims, the company has still not been transparent about the exact cause of the illnesses or the chemicals used inside of their factory in South Korea. They declined to identify the materials used in their products citing a need to keep trade secrets to themselves.
The Bad: Ukrainian Parliament Votes To Impose Marshall Law
Following a naval incident between Russia and Ukraine that took place on the Kerch Strait, an important waterway for the two nations, the Ukrainian government has voted to enact a state of marshal law that would grant authorities extra control over society for 30 days. Police and military personnel would be able to restrict gatherings, enforce curfews, and forcefully police cities under watch.
Allegedly, Russian naval ships seized several Ukrainian boats, detained 24 sailors and fired on several ships in the process. Ukrainian officials who remembered their past conflicts with Russia in 2016 acted quickly to defend their interests and have established Marshall law in regions where Russian soldiers are stationed or borders the former Soviet Union.
Leaders from around the world including the United States, France, Poland, The U.K. and others condemned the actions of the Russian military and called for the release of the imprisoned soldiers immediately citing a 2003 agreement declaring the Kerch Strait democratic waters for the two countries. At an emergency international council meeting, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Security Council Nikki Haley said: “This is no way for a law-abiding, civilized nation to act…Impeding Ukraine’s lawful transit through the Kerch Strait is a violation under international law. It is an arrogant act that the international community must condemn and will never accept.”
Although the two nations are providing different accounts of the story, a posted video of the incident appears to show a Russian commander ordering soldiers to ram a boat and brace for impact. President Trump had planned on meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin while they were both in South America but canceled the meeting after news broke of the attack.
More Things You Should Know:
⁃ Dolce Gabbana Apologies For Racially Insensitive Campaign in China
⁃ Trump Administration Wants Supreme Court To Consider Banning Transgenders From Military
⁃ Worldwide Investigation Into Plastic Surgery Reveals 83,000 deaths, & More Than 1 Million Injuries
⁃ U.N. Concludes “Home” Is The Most Unsafe Place For Women
⁃ Amanda Bynes Makes a Comeback After Years Of Sobriety
⁃ Jerry Springer To Launch New Courtroom Show In 2019
⁃ Transgender Asylum Seeker Who Died In Ice Custody Was Physically Abused Report Reveals
Make Sure To Stay Up To Date On The Week’s Top Stories Here At Emcee!