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Pentagon: Military Mistakenly Shipped Live Anthrax Samples

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In this Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, file photo, a sign marks the entrance to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,in Atlanta. The agency released its first progress report Thursday, and CDC officials said they're mostly pleased. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

In this Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, file photo, a sign marks the entrance to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday it is investigating what the Pentagon called an inadvertent shipment of live anthrax spores to government and commercial laboratories in as many as nine states, as well as one overseas, that expected to receive dead spores.

“At this time we do not suspect any risk to the general public,” CDC spokeswoman Kathy Harben said.

A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Steve Warren, said the suspected live anthrax samples were shipped from Dugway Proving Ground, an Army facility in Utah, using a commercial delivery service.

Warren said the government has confirmed one recipient, a laboratory in Maryland, received live spores. It is suspected, but not yet confirmed, that anthrax sent to labs in as many as eight other states also contained live spores, he said. Later he said an anthrax sample from the same batch at Dugway also was sent to a U.S. military laboratory at Osan air base in South Korea; no personnel there have shown signs of exposure, he said, and the sample was destroyed.

“There is no known risk to the general public, and there are no suspected or confirmed cases of anthrax infection in potentially exposed lab workers,” Warren said.

A U.S. official said Wednesday evening that four people in three commercial labs had worked with the suspect anthrax samples and the CDC has recommended the four be provided “post-exposure prophylaxis,” or preventive treatment. The official was not authorized to discuss the details because they involved non-government lab employees, and so spoke on condition of anonymity.

The anthrax samples were shipped from Dugway to government and commercial labs in Texas, Maryland, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, California and Virginia.

The Defense Department, acting “out of an abundance of caution,” has halted “the shipment of this material from its labs pending completion of the investigation,” Warren said.

Contact with anthrax spores can cause severe illness.

Harben said one of the laboratories contacted the CDC to request “technical consultation.” It was working as part of a Pentagon effort to develop a new diagnostic test to identify biological threats, she said.

“Although an inactivated agent was expected, the lab reported they were able to grow live Bacillus anthracis,” she said, referring to the bacteria that cause anthrax disease.

The CDC is working with state and federal agencies on an investigation with the labs that received samples from the Defense Department, she said.

Harben said all samples involved in the investigation will be securely transferred to the CDC or other laboratories for further testing.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Activism

What Took So Long? Statue of Henrietta Lacks Will Replace Robert E. Lee Monument

In a video of a December 19 press conference posted on the city’s Facebook page, it was announced that a statue honoring Henrietta Lacks will be unveiled in fall of 2023 in the very place that once held a monument dedicated to Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The new statue’s permanent home, which was once named Lee Plaza, was renamed Lacks Plaza in Henrietta’s honor.

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Henrietta Lacks / City of Roanoke Facebook page.
Henrietta Lacks / City of Roanoke Facebook page.

The Black woman whose cells have helped advance medical research will be honored in her hometown

By Angela Johnson

The city of Roanoke, Va., is honoring a Black woman who made tremendous contributions to modern medical research without her knowledge or consent.

In a video of a December 19 press conference posted on the city’s Facebook page, it was announced that a statue honoring Henrietta Lacks will be unveiled in fall of 2023 in the very place that once held a monument dedicated to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The new statue’s permanent home, which was once named Lee Plaza, was renamed Lacks Plaza in Henrietta’s honor.

Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump, who was on hand for the press conference, said the new Lacks statue is a step toward healing some of the racial divisions of the past. “In the past, we commemorated a lot of men with statues that divided us,” he said. “Here in Roanoke, Va., we will have a statue of a Black woman who brings us all together.”

Fundraisers collected over $160,000 for the project. Roanoke artist Bryce Cobbs created the sketch for the 400-pound bronze sculpture based on two photographs.

And Larry Bechtel, a Blacksburg, Virginia, artist, will sculpt the statue of Lacks who was a Roanoke native.

“I really wanted to have a distinguished, powerful pose. And I wanted her looking up. I always remember, like, looking up as being something like a feeling of proudness and of having that confidence in yourself and the strength in who you are,” Cobbs told NPR.

Henrietta Lacks was undergoing treatment for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951 when doctors sent portions of her cancerous tissue to another laboratory without her consent. Lacks passed away in October of that year at age 31.

Researchers used her tissue to harvest a line of living cells known as HeLa cells that are still used in medical research today.

According to Johns Hopkins, the HeLa cells have contributed to several major medical developments over the past several decades, such as the development of polio and COVID-19 vaccines and the study of leukemia and AIDS.

Johns Hopkins says they have never sold or profited from the HeLa cells and have shared them freely for other scientific research.

That is little consolation to the Lacks’ family, who is still seeking justice on Henrietta’s behalf.

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Activism

California One Of 18 States That Reached $5.7 Billion Opioid Settlement with Walgreens

“This settlement is another win in our ongoing fight to bring help and healing to California communities harmed by the opioid crisis,” said Bonta. “To all those struggling with substance abuse disorders, to all those desperately in need of treatment and recovery options — help is on the way.”

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta. Bonta was sworn in as the 34th Attorney General of the State of California on April 23, 2021. (Office of the California Attorney General via Bay City News)
California Attorney General Rob Bonta. Bonta was sworn in as the 34th Attorney General of the State of California on April 23, 2021. (Office of the California Attorney General via Bay City News)

By Olivia Wynkoop
Bay City News Foundation

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, alongside 17 other attorneys general, announced a $5.7 billion settlement agreement with the pharmacy retailer Walgreens for their alleged contribution to the opioid epidemic.

The settlement reached Monday resolves a multistate lawsuit alleging Walgreens fueled and profited from the opioid addiction crisis by dispensing substances without proper oversight.

The abatement funds, which will be split amongst participating states, may bring in over $500 million to California’s ongoing efforts to provide treatment and services to those addicted to opioids.

“This settlement is another win in our ongoing fight to bring help and healing to California communities harmed by the opioid crisis,” said Bonta. “To all those struggling with substance abuse disorders, to all those desperately in need of treatment and recovery options — help is on the way.”

Walgreens also has to satisfy court-ordered requirements to help prevent another substance abuse crisis from occurring again. The company agreed to create a program to train employees on drug diversion prevention, investigate “suspicious” prescriptions before dispensing them and allow for site visits at pharmacy locations.

Walgreens also agreed to provide sales data from its distributor to drug manufacturers, in efforts to help identify and prevent times where prescription medicines are obtained illegally

Last month, Walmart also reached a multi-billion-dollar settlement agreement with state attorneys general to resolve a lawsuit with similar claims.

California is currently assessing settlement terms with CVS, another retail pharmacy chain that attorneys general alleged to have fueled the opioid crisis.

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Activism

Oakland Frontline Healers Host “Circle of Peace” Event at Lake Merritt December 28

The ‘Circle of Peace’ will be preceded by a ‘peace caravan’ starting at Liberation Park at 7101 Foothill Blvd at 3 p.m. It will arrive at the north end of Lake Merritt at 5:30 p.m. where artists will entertain the crowd. Candle stations will be established at north, south, east, and west locations on the lake. “Please bring your children. It’s time to teach peace.”

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Tanya Dennis, lead facilitator of Oakland Frontline Healers and board chair of Adamika Village says that “We are teaching peace and ‘The African Way’ in the Black community. We hope we can get every citizen in Oakland to join us to bring peace to the streets by supporting our Circle of Peace event.” Photo courtesy of Tanya Dennis.
Tanya Dennis, lead facilitator of Oakland Frontline Healers and board chair of Adamika Village says that “We are teaching peace and ‘The African Way’ in the Black community. We hope we can get every citizen in Oakland to join us to bring peace to the streets by supporting our Circle of Peace event.” Photo courtesy of Tanya Dennis.

By Post Staff

On Dec. 28, over 20 Black nonprofits will stage the largest “Circle of Peace” in the history of Oakland around Lake Merritt. Their intent is to galvanize every citizen in Oakland to join them in a citywide appeal for “Peace in the Streets.”

“We need 1,500 men, women and children, standing 12 feet apart to totally encircle the lake,” says Tanya Dennis, member of Adamika Village #StopKillingOurKidsMovement and Oakland Frontline Healers (OFH).

“Dec. 28 is the third day of Kwanzaa, which honors ‘Ujima,’ collective work and responsibility,” said Dennis, who is lead organizer of the Circle of Peace event. “The purpose of Ujima is to build and maintain the Black community and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.

“It takes a village to heal a village,” Dennis said.

The ‘Circle of Peace’ will be preceded by a ‘peace caravan’ starting at Liberation Park at 7101 Foothill Blvd at 3 p.m. It will arrive at the north end of Lake Merritt at 5:30 p.m. where artists will entertain the crowd.

Candle stations will be established at north, south, east, and west locations on the lake. “Please bring your children. It’s time to teach peace.”

The organizers are asking 1,500 of Oakland’s brothers and sisters to come to Lake Merritt at 6:30 p.m., stand 12 feet apart and light a candle, and stand in silence from 7-7:30 p.m. to “shift the energy in Oakland and end violence.”

“Let’s make this go national and inform the nation Oakland wants and supports peace in the streets,” Dennis said. A drone will record the event.

Last year’s “Peace in the Streets” event saw the installation of hundreds of peace banners installed on International Boulevard.

Darren White, CEO of Realized Potential, teaches fatherhood workshops for youth regarding how to be good fathers, respect women and disavow violence in resolving conflicts. Photo courtesy of Darren White.

Darren White, CEO of Realized Potential, teaches fatherhood workshops for youth regarding how to be good fathers, respect women and disavow violence in resolving conflicts. Photo courtesy of Darren White.

Oakland Frontline Healers, Oakland’s premiere COVID-19 response team, comprises 19 Black-led nonprofits dedicated to the restoration, building, and healing of the Black community through providing resources, projects, and events.

The organization has also led development of a Black mental health initiative in partnership with the East Bay Association of Black Psychologists.

A collaboration with Adamika Village #StopKillingOurKidsMovement, MACRO, Broken Chains Ministries, and the Oakland Fire Department and headed by OFH member Realized Potential Inc., is hosting a community holiday event on Dec. 18 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at East Bay Dragons headquarters, located at 8731 International Blvd.

Realized Potential, which is headed by Darren White, does pop-up community resource events at local Oakland hot spots where gun violence has occurred to show residents that there are people and organizations engaged in gun violence prevention.

“We will provide Christmas gifts to youth and community members; we are serving food and distributing resource packets for community members that need information about jobs and housing,” White said. “We have hygiene kits, COVID-19 information, and PPE that will be available with hand sanitizer, masks, and home test kits — all free to the community.”

Realized Potential’s gift give-away and Adamika Village’s Circle of Peace are kicking off a series of OFH events in Oakland to prevent crime and show solidarity by modeling appropriate behavior for men and women involved in criminal behavior, utilizing their “African Way” philosophy.

OFH’s goal is to provide people with needed resources in order to change their behavior, put down guns, and end the violence that’s disrupting and traumatizing Oakland residents.

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