POLITICS

Researchers believe they have a cure for ‘Bubble Boy’ disease in infants

Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) is a rare illness affecting an estimated 1 in 100,000 infants. It is a fatal condition caused by mutations in different genes involved in the development and function of infection-fighting immune cells.” Researchers led by a team out of St. Jude’s Medical Center in Memphis, Tennessee, have announced that they have been employing a new experimental gene therapy that has shown amazing results, so much so that they are calling it a “cure.”

“It’s a game changer,” said Jennifer Hemall, a pediatric immunologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who was not involved in the study. “For immunologists following this disease, gene therapy has always been out there as the hope of the future. It’s exciting to see this wave of treatments actually becoming a reality.”

While an infant with SCID may seem healthy, they are vulnerable to severe infections, resulting in death within the first two years of life if the disorder goes untreated. The disease became widely known through a young boy named David Vetter, who lived his entire life inside of a bubble to protect him from outside pathogens and became known as “Bubble Boy.” Since then, treatments for infants with SCID have developed, frequently including bone marrow transplants that try to kickstart the child’s immune system. And while these treatments have broadened the lifespan for people with the disease and allowed a lot of those children to grow up, many of those kids must rely on continuing therapies while hoping that the new immune system they are developing won’t attack their own body.

There are a few kinds of SCID, and there has been some success treating some forms of the immune disease with gene therapy, but researchers have had less success with the most prevalent form, XSCID, until now. 

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Couple walks around Rhode Island Holocaust memorial wearing Nazi armbands and MAGA hat

It’s not against the law to wear a swastika. That’s something that falls under the protection of the First Amendment to our Constitution. It is arguably the most fundamental freedom we have, and the most important one in defending ourselves against sliding into fascism. The irony of course is that our constitutional tool to thwart fascism can be applied to brandishing fascist symbolism and ideology. The Providence Journal reports that a man and woman were seen outside a downtown eatery on South Main Street in Providence, Rhode Island, wearing swastika armbands—the woman had on a swastika-emblazoned shirt, while the man also wore a red Make America Great Again Trump hat.

According to Sondra Pierson, who took photos of the two and spoke with the Journal, the two smoked cigarettes, crossed the street to the Rhode Island Holocaust Memorial, and took photos of one another posing around the memorial park. Pierson says she confronted the two, who responded sarcastically and then got into their car and drove away. Pierson called the police, but realized there really wasn’t much the police could do.

Steven Brown, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, told the Providence Journal that while their actions were “shameful” and “despicable,” the two asshats were well within their legal rights. Signs of hate and anti-Semitism have increased across the country as the movement that swept Donald Trump into power and buoys him up becomes more prevalent. It is legal to say those things, but the line between protected speech and incitement to violence is getting blurrier and blurrier, as the hatred and right-wing political rhetoric find their way into the mouths of mass-murdering bigots more and more often.

The continuing empowerment of those spouting white supremacist ideas by our current administration and its state propaganda outlets such as Fox News only spurs more scumbags like these two to walk around in the light of day.

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Michigan city moves to criminalize calling 911 on people of color who are just living their lives

Sweeping amendments to a 66-year-old human rights ordinance might make Grand Rapids, Mich. the latest city to try to tackle the epidemic of racially-motivated abuses of emergency services. The planned changes “would make it a criminal misdemeanor to racially profile people of color for ‘participating in their lives.’”

Diversity and Inclusion Manager Patti Caudill said the ordinance is a new concept in Michigan. It isn’t meant to discourage 911 calls, she said. Rather, it’s meant to make people “check their biases” before calling the police.

“Call the police, but if you’re calling because your neighbors are having a barbecue and you’re calling because of some implicit bias because they’re people of color, we don’t want to see that,” she said.

The scenarios Caudill cites are all too familiar these days: White people keep calling 911 on people of color while they’re simply trying to live their best lives. The depressing #LivingWhileBlack hashtag never lacks new fodder, since black people face the brunt of these racist actions that waste valuable first-responder resources. The epidemic, which we can only hope peaked in 2018, showed the nation just how hard it is to be a person of color in spaces that bigots have declared to be for “whites only.” 

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The most hateful thing I’ve read this week reminds us of our country’s biggest failure

Callie June was adopted by two loving parents, who immediately had to put her in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to deal with her stage four cancer. Her parents, already working multiple jobs, did what most Americans are forced to do when confronted with high medical bills: They set up a GoFundMe page.  

Most people have some sort of soul; they see the suffering of such a small life and are touched, even if they aren’t able to give.

Others use it as an opportunity to spread a hateful message.

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This is disgusting. A baby girl could lose her life and someone had this to say about her having 2 mothers. Yet they’re doing everything they can to save their daughter. And people say homophobia isn’t a problem anymore? If you agree with what they said, you’re sick. End of. pic.twitter.com/nbmHhUVZTB

— pussy poppin Ⓥ (@flyingawxy) April 14, 2019

The message, from a Facebook user going by “Bren Marie,” is beyond cruel.

“My prayers for Callie. I was going to donate $7600.00 to her fund, but I found out her parents are lesbian. I’ve chosen to donate to St. Jude due to that fact. Sorry. I’ll still pray for her though, but maybe it’s God’s way of getting your attention that she needs a mommy and a daddy, not two mommies.”

I genuinely mean this: Rot in hell, Bren Marie.

It always amazes me when awful human beings like her use their so-called religious beliefs to excuse their hate. The parents have committed no sin according to the Bible, and neither has Callie June.

Yet Bren Marie is the exact same sort of person whom I guarantee you’ll find at a MAGA rally, justifying the personification of sin and blasphemy while singing the praises of our charity-swindling cesspool of a president.  

But there is a bigger issue here. This is what Americans have been reduced to: begging for money from people like this, to pay for medical care which almost every other civilized country on the planet considers a right.

When the hell did GoFundMe become a mandatory pillar of our healthcare insurance? One person who doesn’t think it should be this way is the CEO of GoFundMe, Rob Solomon, who told CBS News that one-third of the site’s fundraisers are for assistance with healthcare expenses. 

“When we started in 2010, it wasn’t purposefully set up and built to be a substitute for medical insurance. We weren’t ever set up to be a health care company and we still are not. But over time, people have used GoFundMe for the most important issues they are faced with.”

Panhandling on cyberspace street corners to survive a medical emergency shouldn’t be a “solution,” but digital begging is now a well-established practice. In fact, hospitals now send out letters requiring you to beg for money before they treat you.

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Insurance groups are recommending GoFundMe as official policy - where customers can die if they can’t raise the goal in time - but sure, single payer healthcare is unreasonable. h/t @DanRiffle pic.twitter.com/zetPW0MgDd

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 24, 2018

It’s only getting worse. Thanks to Donald Trump, one million more Americans have lost their healthcare since 2016. That number is growing rapidly, and even people who do have insurance still have to pay excruciatingly high deductibles.

So, until we get serious about a basic level of care for all of our citizens, begging will remain an established feature of our system. I had to do it six years ago (and I’m still paying off the bills). I helped a RedState blogger do it. Even conservatives who have declared themselves immune from needing healthcare have had to embrace it.

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Rightwing star declared himself too healthy for insurance. Guess what happened? https://t.co/cDMwGyulYw pic.twitter.com/sk1IjfPofj

— TheSeminoleDemocrat (@TheSemDem) April 19, 2019

The Affordable Care Act was a step forward, but let’s face it: Our healthcare crisis is far too big to simply argue for “tweaks” to it. Until the Democrats control all branches of government, the ACA is too prone to manipulation and destruction. The GOP efforts to harm the ACA have had one silver lining, though: More Americans are behind single-payer than ever before. Try 70% of Americans.

Our leadership, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, need to get on board with where the rest of America is. Their waffling is just stupid. You think single-payer is expensive? One-fifth of our economy is dedicated to healthcare spending. We spend more on healthcare than any other nation, and yet we also don’t provide even the most basic level of care for tens of millions of citizens. There isn’t a more inefficient and expensive healthcare system. 

As far as strategy, Democrats could not get a better issue to fight on. For over a decade, the GOP has not been able to create a plan. All they can do is defend the current system, which no one, except the super rich, thinks is working.

At some point, with this new generation’s help, I believe we will have Medicare for All. None of the arguments and studies supporting it can match the image above, which is a metaphor of healthcare in this nation that can’t be ignored: A hateful stranger not only refusing to donate, but also leaning on their supposed faith as they insult the suffering parents of a young child in unimaginable pain.

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