Category Archives: Huffington Post

Foodborne Botulism Can Be Deadly, But It’s Usually Preventable

The death of a 37-year-old man from foodborne botulism linked to nacho cheese sauce sheds light on a rare foodborne illness that’s more frequently associated with unsafe home-canning methods.

The toxin that causes botulism thrives in low-oxygen conditions, and can cause serious, sometimes fatal illness, according to the World Health Organization. 

The most common form of botulism is infant botulism, which happens when spores of bacteria get into a baby’s intestines. Infant botulism tends to afflict babies between 2-to-8 months old who are exposed to spores of bacteria from raw honey or contaminated soil. 

Wound botulism, anther common form of the illness, is most often associated with black tar heroin users and develops when bacteria spores enter an open cut, multiply and produce the toxin that causes botulism. Wound botulism is also associated with traumatic injuries and surgery. 

Though dangerous, botulism is uncommon. And foodborne botulism outbreaks, like the one linked to the cheese sauce sold at a gas station store in Walnut Grove, California, are relatively rare.

There were just 39 confirmed cases of foodborne botulism reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2015, and 15 cases reported in 2014.

The California case led to the death of Martin Galindo and caused the hospitalization of nine others, according to state health officials.

Foordborne botulism typically occurs from unsafe home-canning methods, such as failing to use a pressure canner for some foods or ignoring spoilage signs, according to the CDC. Low-acid foods, such as green beans, corn and beets, as well as fermented seafood, are common foodborne botulism culprits.

For safe home canning, read the USDA’s safety guide and always inspect cans ― both store-bought and home-canned ― before consuming. If cans are swollen or cracked, if the food inside is discolored, smells bad or spurts from the container when opened, it should be thrown out

Because the botulism toxin attacks the nerves, symptoms include difficulty swallowing, facial weakness, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, trouble breathing, nausea and paralysis, which typically set in between 12 and 36 hours after consuming the toxin, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

An injection of antitoxin, which attaches itself to the botulism toxin to keep it from attacking nerves, can reduce symptoms, but it can’t undo damage that’s already been caused. Nerves regenerate, though, and many people recover after extended rehabilitation therapy.

Regardless of treatment, botulism is fatal in about 5 percent of cases, and without treatment more than 50 percent of people who contract the disease would die, according to Harvard Health Publications. 

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Senate Hits Michael Flynn With Two New Subpoenas

WASHINGTON ― Michael Flynn’s assertion of his Fifth Amendment right against incriminating himself does not apply to his businesses and documents, and he could be subject to a contempt charge if he doesn’t turn related materials over to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the leaders of the panel said Tuesday.

Flynn, who was fired as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser for failing to reveal contracts he had with foreign governments, refused Monday to answer subpoenas from the Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian ties to the Trump campaign and interference in the 2016 election.

Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Vice Chairman Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said they sent a letter to Flynn’s attorneys questioning whether he had a right to assert the Fifth for documents.

They were also sending two new subpoenas specifically targeting Flynn’s businesses, Flynn Intel LLC, and Flynn Intel Inc., both based in Virginia.

“It is even more clear that a business does not have a right to take the Fifth. It is a corporation,” Warner told reporters. 

He said that “all options” were on the table to enforce the requests.

Asked what those were, Burr said they included a contempt charge, but committee lawyers were first considering preliminary moves to obtain cooperation from Flynn.

“The end of that option is a contempt charge,” Burr said. “That’s not our preference today. We would like to hear from Gen. Flynn. We’d like to see his documents. We’d like him to tell his story because he publicly said ‘I’ve got a story to tell.; We’re allowing him that opportunity.”

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Scientologists Pushed Leah Remini To ‘Work On Chelsea’ Handler And Other Famous Friends

Former “King of Queens” star Leah Remini is one of the most outspoken critics of the Church of Scientology, and she has no plans of stopping.
The actress, whose A&E exposé series “Scientology and the Aftermath&…

Bernie Sanders Says Trump Budget Exposes President As Fake Populist

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) savaged President Donald Trump’s budget proposal on Tuesday, accusing the president of turning his back on campaign pledges to stand up for struggling Americans.

Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, rattled off the budget’s numerous cuts to safety net and social insurance programs, as well as tax cuts for wealthy Americans and corporations, while speaking at a press conference held by Democratic leaders in Congress.

Trump’s fiscal priorities prove he was never a serious advocate for the working and middle classes, the senator added.

“When Donald Trump campaigned for president, he told the American people he would be a different type of Republican, that he would take on the political and economics establishment, that he would stand up for working people, that he understood the pain that families all across this country were experiencing,” said Sanders, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.

“Well, sadly this budget exposes all of that verbiage for what it really was: just cheap and dishonest campaign rhetoric that was meant to get votes ― nothing more than that,” he added. “At a time when the rich are already getting richer, while the middle class continues to shrink, this is a budget for the billionaire class, for Wall Street, for corporate CEOs and for the wealthiest people in this country.”

Sadly this budget exposes all of that verbiage for what it really was: just cheap and dishonest campaign rhetoric that was meant to get votes.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Trump’s budget makes cuts to disability insurance under Social Security, even though he promised not to touch the program, noted Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee. Yarmuth appeared at the press conference alongside Sanders, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“The president’s budget was a betrayal, a line-by-line tally of broken promises he made to the American people,” Yarmuth said.

It’s ultimately up to Congress to decide how much to spend on everything from the military to programs like Meals on Wheels. Still, Trump’s budget is a useful window into the White House’s worldview ― which is why Democrats have wasted no time pouncing on it.

The rhetoric of Sanders, who launched an unexpectedly competitive bid for the Democratic presidential nomination with a campaign platform of economic populism, has sometimes been compared to that of Trump, who found success by highlighting his anti-establishment tendencies (albeit with a racial demagoguery that was anathema to Sanders).

Sanders has a made a point of trying to hold Trump to his promises to fight for working people ― even insisting that it could be grounds for bipartisan cooperation.

The Vermont senator said in a statement the day after the election that he and other progressives would be willing to work with the president “to the degree that [he] is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country.”

For a lawmaker like Sanders, this was a win-win proposition. In the unlikely event that Trump governed progressively, Sanders could claim a policy victory. And the senator had ammunition to attack the president if he did not.

So far, Sanders hasn’t found much to like in Trump’s agenda ― even when it comes to issues like trade policy, on which Sanders and Trump both defy the bipartisan, pro-business consensus in favor of trade agreements.

The support of Democratic senators ensured the confirmation of United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, a trade hawk who enjoys a good reputation among progressive experts.  

But Sanders was one of 11 members of the Democratic caucus to vote against confirming Lighthizer, complaining that the nominee was insufficiently committed to reforming a status quo on trade that privileges corporate profits over human need.

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Familial Tensions Are Thick In The ‘Queen Sugar’ Season 2 Trailer

The Season 2 trailer of “Queen Sugar” is here and you’ve probably never felt so happy to hear the words ‘sugar cane farm.’ But this trailer will have you feenin’ for the return of weekly doses of Bordelon family…

Meet The Man Bringing Slam Poetry To The Deaf Community

A post shared by ASL SLAM (@aslslam) on Oct 13, 2016 at 1:28pm PDT

Douglas Ridloff started composing poetry in American Sign Language when he was a teenager, after a well-known ASL poet named Peter Cook visited his high school. Fast forward 10 years, and he hadn’t done much in the way of slam poetry apart from a little dabbling. But then a friend of his invited him to an informal gathering of college students, where ASL was used to respond to challenges and prompts.

“I wasn’t interested in the first place,” Ridloff said in an interview with HuffPost. “At that time I only did ASL poetry and storytelling for fun at parties and backyard gatherings. The host who was also my friend dragged me to go to ASL Slam for the first few times, and I was sitting in the back at the bar chatting with other people and watching some performances and attempts on stage.”

Over time, he began joining in when there were gaps in performances. Gradually, he started paying more attention to the host’s approach to the craft, and began incorporating it into his own routine.

“Boom,” Ridloff said. “I found a home.”

That was in 2005, when a now-monthly gathering called ASL Slam was first founded. The show was co-hosted by ASL poets Bob Arnold and Jason Norman at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City, where it still takes place today. Only now, Ridloff is the host. 

Ridloff says ASL Slam is mostly composed of performers from the deaf community, including native deaf individuals like himself. This marks a significant change from the program’s early years, when ASL students and others who use sign, but who are not deaf, made up a majority of the participants. 

Attendees are also likely to be people who sign, as Ridloff prefers not to have his work translated into English.

“The beauty is lost,” he said. “Think of music. If a song had its lyrics removed but the melody remains, the mood is still there, but something is lost. Or if the melody is removed but the lyrics remain, sometimes the song no longer makes sense.”

The show has gone on tour to Michigan and Austin, and overseas to France. Earlier this year, ASL Slam visited Cuba, to work closely with members of the deaf community there who are interested in creative expression.

“It was amazing to see how fast they got it and created something fresh for the audience,” Ridloff said. “They are about 50 years behind in sign language literacy. Just like the cars.”

Meanwhile, Ridloff is now performing regularly in New York City, in a medium that he says has benefits and nuances that spoken word poetry does not.

“ASL poets can create a complete poem or story by using one handshape to represent a multitude of concepts,” he said. In ASL, Ridloff explained, a single handshape can mean a different word depending on its placement of movement. The handshape for “rooster,” for example, is the same as the handshape for “car.”

“Maybe you could compare rhyming or alliteration to that concept, but that’s just something not experienced in spoken English,” Ridloff said.

People who sign ― including ASL poets like Ridloff ― also use facial expressions and other “non-manual markers” to communicate the equivalent of volume or inflection. A head tilt, nod or shake will provide tonal context for the words that are signed, marking the difference between a declarative statement and an inquiry. Raised eyebrows indicate questions; lip movements indicate superlatives. 

This, he says, contributes to the “spherical” or nonlinear nature of ASL poetry. “Spoken English can be non-linear too, but what it cannot do is exemplify three, four things at the same time,” Ridoff said.

So, for him, what began as a passing hobby has evolved into its own unique art form.

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Lindsey Graham Invokes Benghazi in Attacking Trump Budget

WASHINGTON ― Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday that if “fully implemented,” President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to State Department funding would lead to “a lot of Benghazi situations.”

Trump first full budget proposal, released Tuesday, was met with heavy criticism, including from his fellow Republicans. But Graham evoking the deadly 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound attacks was, perhaps, the most pointed critiqued offered. Those attacks ― which left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens ― have been spotlighted by Republicans as massive, even criminal, failures of the Obama administration and, specifically, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

For Graham to cite the Benghazi attacks illustrates the frustration he and others have with Trump’s push to cut U.S. foreign policy functions outside of the military. 

“Twenty-nine percent cut to the State Department, I think, is very irresponsible given threats we face,” said Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “If fully implemented we’d have to retreat from the world or have a lot of Benghazi situations on our hands.”

Graham, who briefly was one of Trump’s opponents in the 2016 presidential race, also said the U.S. can’t win wars “with hard power alone,” referring to an approach focused on the heavy use of military force.

Trump’s budget isn’t being taken seriously by lawmakers on the Hill and doesn’t stand a chance of passing either congressional chamber.

“I’m sure we’ll take the budget and redo it,” Graham told reporters. 

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One Of The ‘Real People’ From That Chevy Commercial Speaks Out

How could one brand have all that J.D. Power?

That’s essentially the question Chevrolet has been asking America for quite some time now, with their ubiquitous commercial series that features “Real People. Not Actors.” The recurring conceit of these ads involves a Chevy spokesman, Potsch Boyd, bragging to normal people (just like you) about how many J.D. Power awards Chevy has won.

The very regular “not actors” then jump and scream and laugh and express how cool the Chevy brand is these days. It’s very uncomfortable to watch.

You’ve seen these ads. You’ve hated these ads. You’ve wished these ads would go away.

But you’ve probably also wondered how “real” these “not actors” are, especially since their emotions and reactions often seem highly strange and unbelievable.

Thankfully, one of the “real people” just broke their NDA and spoke to The A.V. Club about the whole experience. The person did the interview on the condition of anonymity, but The A.V. Club claimed they did a “a thorough background check.”

The whole Q&A is worth a read, as there are many funny moments that came out of creating this commercial, but here’s the basic rundown.

Everyone was just really confused. I felt nervous. It was weird.
A Chevy “Real Person”

A nondescript agency recruited this man on the street and asked if he was interested in participating in paid market research. He agreed, and for a promised $200 went to the Los Angeles Convention Center having no idea he was about to be in a Chevy commercial. The same day as filming, a porn awards show was taking place at the center and so he thought that’s what he was going to be a part of when he arrived.

He then waited around in a big, dark room with the other future “real people,” still having no idea what his task was. With all the confusion, he had the thought, “Oh, I might get murdered.”

Eventually, doors opened to reveal the brightly lit room seen in the commercial. Spokesman Boyd was already there, just silently smiling. Apparently, he didn’t really ever stop smiling.

Here’s the person’s explanation of the first few moments:

[The spokesperson] just said, “Hey, guys!” as we walked in, and it was another long walk to get over to where he was standing in complete silence. Everyone was just really confused. I felt nervous. It was weird.

Then, a cameraperson showed up and it was evident that this was for a commercial. Later, the “real people” would realize there were many other hidden cameras on set. In any case, once the NDA-breaker’s group realized they were going to be on TV, a magical spell seemed to be cast over them.

Here’s a hilarious explanation of the effect:

It was weird because, once we got in there, he didn’t tell us where to stand or anything. He didn’t point at anything. We just magically got in that line of four people horizontally right in front of him. It was like they had this weird power.

When I was talking to people in the lobby, no one seemed that enthusiastic about anything. The second we got in there, it was like magically everyone was the world’s biggest Chevrolet fan. I can’t stress enough that I’m a real person and not an actor. None of these people were actors, because I asked them what they all did for a living. They suddenly became these perfect spokespeople when this guy started asking questions, like, “What’s the first word that comes to your mind when you think about Chevy?” Literally, the guy next to me was like, “Freedom.” [Laughs.] He was suddenly so patriotic. He was like, “American-made cars. Quality.” All of these people were spewing out these buzzwords.

The whole thing took about two hours. Chevy ended up paying the person $150 in Visa gift cards and promised to mail $50 later. (This was a baffling payment method to him, as well.) The “real people” that ended up having speaking roles in the commercial would eventually get more money, something that may also explain why everyone is so eager to be enthusiastic.

As The News Wheel reported in 2015, some of the “real people” were actors by profession, a fact explained away by a GM representative who claimed this was just because they scouted for people in LA. Struggling actors who know that faking enthusiasm could yield a better paycheck could explain this. 

It’s a popular opinion that these commercials are pretty painful to watch, so much so that just one of the many people parodying the ads has earned millions of views. All at Chevy’s expense.

Here’s one of those parodies:

After being a part of the commercial, the NDA-breaker still doesn’t understand what the J.D. Power award is supposed to mean. He told The A.V. Club:

I’m still not really sure what a J.D. Power And Associates Award is, and they explained it to us. I didn’t retain it at all. But I am genuinely surprised to hear that Chevy has won more unimportant awards than any other car manufacturer.

No matter how long these inane commercials continue (and like cockroaches, they will probably outlive us all), the world may never know who or what J.D. Power is or represents.

Maybe ― speculating widely here ― J.D. Power is the pseudonym of famously reclusive author J.D. Salinger, who actually cheated death and spends his days writing the next great American car reviews, like, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish … and Chevy Products.” Nothing makes sense in this world. Especially these commercials, though. 

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The Manchester Attack And The Resilience Of Teen Girls

In Manchester on Monday, what should have been a joyful evening of music and dancing at Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman” concert turned into horrific tragedy. Just as fans were filing out of the arena, many with pink balloons in hand, a young man standing in the ticket area detonated a bomb.

The terror attack claimed at least 22 lives, and left nearly 60 injured. It was the deadliest attack in the U.K. since 2005. 

We don’t yet know what the proclaimed motivations of the attacker who terrorized Manchester Arena were ― the 22-year-old man who carried out the attack died in the blast ― but what we do know is that the majority of Ariana Grande’s fans are young women and girls. By all reports, the arena was filled with children, mothers and daughters, teen and tween girls who had traveled to the show in pairs or packs.

Teen girls learn how to express passion and love with abandon in a world that largely devalues, objectifies and mocks them.

Pop concerts like Grande’s provide a space where fandoms thrive. And Grande’s fandom, known affectionately as Arianators, is comprised largely of teen girls and LGBTQ youth. (“SO EXCITED TO SEE U TOMORROW,” 18-year-old Georgina Callendar, the Manchester bombing’s first-identified victim, tweeted at Grande on Sunday.) One can surmise that Monday’s concert-goers, ranging in age by decades, many wearing their idol’s signature cat ears and high pony, went out for a night into a space they believed would bring them (or their children) joy and a chance for unencumbered self-expression. For a few hours, the fans in attendance could sing along, losing themselves in the music and soaking up a bit of Grande’s subtle, transgressive sexuality.

Any terror attack flips the switch from assumed safety to fear, from light to darkness, evoking mourning from around the world. But there is something especially hideous about the targeting, whether intentional or not, of young people ― especially young people leaving a space that was supposed to belong to them, at least for a night.

As the New York Times’ Ceylan Yeginsu, Rory Smith and Stephen Castle wrote of the attack:

The violence is intended to stoke fear and to deliver a message. And it was the message of the Manchester blast that was so chilling: the slaughter of teenagers, the anxiety of parents who had been waiting to take their children home, the frantic search for loved ones amid chaos and sirens.

Teen girls are magical beings. I don’t consider this a political statement, more a statement of fact. And, no, Twitter trolls, this does not mean I believe teens are physically immune to the ravages of a terror attack. It means that teen girls learn how to express passion and love with abandon in a world that largely devalues, objectifies and mocks them. It was depressing but unsurprising that in the hours just after the Manchester bombing, at least one male journalist found it an appropriate moment to show disdain for Grande’s music and her largely girlish fan base on Twitter. (The tweets have since been deleted.) 

Teen girls can find joy in drugstore glitter, as well as deeply intimate friendship. They can be smart as hell. They can read up about politics and racial inequality and gender-based violence with just as much enthusiasm as they do about their favorite bands and YouTube stars. And, as Harry Styles articulated in a widely-shared Rolling Stone interview last month, when they find meaning in a musician and their songs, they show up for that artist, again and again and again: “Teenage-girl fans ― they don’t lie. If they like you, they’re there.” That artist becomes the recipient of their unbound love.  

You see this same love manifesting between teen girls (and boys and adults of all genders) in the wake of the Manchester bombing. In the hours following the attack, there was an outpouring of collective grief and support for victims, their loved ones and Grande herself ― both online and from within Manchester. 

Members of other fandoms, from Justin Bieber’s Beliebers to Demi Lovato’s Lovatics to One Direction’s Directioners, each community named after their chosen idol, vowed they’d be there for Arianators.

Directioners are here and so are the others, We will #StandTogether with you Ariana and Arianators. We love you #Manchester pic.twitter.com/6tXggQfOm2

— azizah (@horanbrightz_) May 23, 2017

Twitter, which sometimes feels like nothing more than a cruel cesspool, showed up for Georgina Callendar’s best friend Sophie after she posted a beautiful remembrance of her on Twitter.

“To my beautiful best friend I hope you rest in peace my darling. I love you so much and will always miss you,” she tweeted.

The messages began pouring in.

“I’m so sorry for your loss. I do not know you but I am sending you all my thoughts and endless amounts of my love,” one young woman wrote

“i know saying sorry won’t help but i really am. u have so many people that are here for u in this time,” tweeted another

(Strangers tweet their condolences to Callendar’s BFF, below.)

And in Manchester, the community is rallying, as flowers fill the streets near the arena, and blood banks are overwhelmed with donations.

Teen Vogue writer Lauren Duca received an email from a 23-year-old who lives in Manchester, which she posted on Twitter just after midnight on Tuesday. 

“We in this city have not reacted to this terror attack with vitriol; or with fear,” the author of the email wrote. “Our first reaction has been to take to the streets with water, with supplies, to open our homes to those who are stranded and also, sadly, to guide the families who have lost their children through to the centre of a city they don’t know. If you do choose to write about us, please know that [we] reacted with kindness, empathy and love. Not with hate.” 

Got this from a 23-year-old Manchester resident. Take a moment to read it? pic.twitter.com/Xviju8rYzG

— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) May 23, 2017

Nothing can fix the senseless violence and loss of life that occurred in Manchester. There is no making it better, and there is no undoing the trauma and violation that those directly touched by the terror attack ― and those impacted by any terror attack around the world ― experienced.

But what we can do is remember that, like the young women who fill concert halls to dance and laugh and bond, choosing unfettered love and joy whenever possible is the only way forward. 

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Trump’s Policies May Cost The U.S. $1.3 Billion, And That’s Just In Travel

The U.S. will likely miss out on more than $1.3 billion in travel-related expenditures this year, in part due to the Trump administration’s policies, one international business travel group predicts.
A loss in that range could mean thousand…