The latest local news

How Credit Island Lodge is being cleaned up after the flood

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DAVENPORT, Iowa –  In the spring, Credit Island Lodge was slammed with flood waters.  Since then, mud sat on the ground of the building, desperately in need of clean-up.

Davenport Parks and Recreation decided to call professional cleaners after this flood and went with a bid for $20,000.

“We have never had it professionally cleaned before,” says Tubbs. “But we also never had a 90-day flood before.”

But the lodge isn’t the only place on the island still awaiting clean-up.  Sand piles are scattered throughout the inland from when it was the bottom of the river back in the spring.

“We’ve seen more sand on this flood event than we have in the past,” says Davenport Parks and Recreation Director, Chad Dyson. “So, we have quite a bit that our crews are having to remove from the interior of the island and push them out to the shorelines, so it can have its sand back that it left.”

Meanwhile, clean-up at the lodge has taken months, but if Parks and Rec want any reimbursement from FEMA they have to meet their guidelines.

“Those guidelines tend to slow things down,” explains Tubbs. “Here we are three or four months after the water is down and this what we still have because we want to make sure we have our I’s dotted and our T’s crossed.”

Although the island has been in a long state of distress, Davenport Parks and Rec is confident a fresh new start is coming soon.

“We absolutely want to restore this to the beauty it can, it just takes time,” Tubbs says.

Davenport Parks and Rec received eight different bids from professional cleaning companies in the area ranging from $20,000 to $80,000.

There were talks of Credit Island Lodge becoming a polling location in the fall, but because of the flooding, Scott County Auditor Roxanna Mortiz said they anticipated the lodge wouldn’t be ready to host voters.  Instead they decided to move the precinct to St. Mark’s Church on Telegraph Road.  Letters of the change were already sent to voters to keep them in the loop.

(Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story indicated that the lodge had a deadline to meet in order to host a polling location. The story has been corrected to note that Credit Island Lodge will not host voters for the upcoming election)

Solid gold toilet stolen from Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill

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(CNN) — Police are trying to recover a toilet made entirely from 18-carat-gold said to be worth around $6 million that was stolen Saturday morning from Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England, the stately home where former prime minister Winston Churchill was born.

The fully functioning toilet was installed as part of an exhibition by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan titled “Victory is Not an Option,” which only opened to the public on Thursday. The palace remained shut for the rest of the day Saturday, a spokesperson said on Twitter.

Dominic Hare, CEO of Blenheim Palace, said that the artwork, titled “America,” is valued at around $6 million.

Thames Valley Police received a report of the toilet’s theft at 4:57 a.m. Saturday morning. The thieves left the scene at about 4:50 a.m., according to a statement posted online. A 66-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the theft.

Detective Inspector Jess Milne said in the statement: “Due to the toilet being plumbed in to the building, this has caused significant damage and flooding,” adding, “We believe a group offenders used at least two vehicles during the offense.”

“The artwork has not been recovered at this time but we are conducting a thorough investigation to find it and bring those responsible to justice,” Milne continued, appealing for any potential witnesses to contact police.

Inspector Richard Nicholls said that a reception party Friday evening marking the launch of the exhibition “would form part of our inquiries in order to ascertain events leading up to the item being stolen.” He noted, however, that commenting on how the item was stolen “would be speculation at the moment.”

Hare told CNN in a statement: “‘Following the Thames Valley Police statement we can confirm ‘America,’ the art piece by Maurizio Cattelan has been stolen in the early hours of this morning.”

“We are saddened by this extraordinary event, but also relieved no one was hurt. We are very grateful to our staff and to Thames Valley Police for their rapid and brave reactions,” he continued. “We knew there was huge interest in the Maurizio Cattelan contemporary art exhibition, with many set to come and enjoy the installations.”

“It’s therefore a great shame an item so precious has been taken, but we still have so many fascinating treasures in the Palace and the remaining items of the exhibition to share. The investigation continues, but it will be business as usual from tomorrow, so visitors can continue to come and experience all we have to offer,” Hare said.

Cattelan appeared to make light of the situation, describing the thieves as “great performers.”

“When this morning I was informed about the robbery I thought it was a prank and it took me a while, after a few checks, to come to the conclusion that it was true and it wasn’t a surreal movie where instead of the jewels of the crown, the thieves went away with a b***** toilet,” he said in a statement. “I always liked heist movies and finally I’m in one of them.”

In a direct plea to the thieves, he added: “Dear thieves, please, if you are reading this, let me know how much you like the piece and how it feels to pee on gold.”

In an August interview with the Times, Edward Spencer-Churchill, the current Duke of Marlborough’s half-brother and founder of the Blenheim Art Foundation, dismissed the possibility that the toilet could be stolen.

“It’s not going to be the easiest thing to nick,” Spencer-Churchill said. “Firstly, it’s plumbed in and secondly, a potential thief will have no idea who last used the toilet or what they ate. So no, I don’t plan to be guarding it.”

“America” first went on display at the Guggenheim in New York City in 2016. It made headlines again in 2017, after US President Donald Trump’s White House emailed the Guggenheim asking to borrow Vincent Van Gogh’s 1888 painting “Landscape with Snow”; instead, the institution’s curator offered the gold toilet.

At Blenheim Palace, the toilet was installed in a room next to the one in which Churchill was born. A statement announcing the exhibition said the work could be perceived as a comment on the social, political and economic disparities in the United States.

“His work can make us laugh and quake in turn, with its acerbic comments on the world we live in. I believe that his wry wit, stoicism and fantastical vision are exactly what we need in these times of global flux and uncertainty,” Spencer-Churchill said in a statement.

Cattellan commented previously on the work, telling The New Yorker: “Whatever you eat, a two-hundred-dollar lunch or a two-dollar hot dog, the results are the same, toilet-wise.” He also described the work as “1% art for the 99%.”

The toilet was due to remain on display until October 27.

President Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon deeply in debt, at risk of closing

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DIXON, Illinois -- Fifteen years after President Ronald Reagan's death, the nonprofit that runs his boyhood home and visitors center in Dixon is at risk of closing its doors.

There are many tributes to the former president that called the city home during his formative years, from plaques and statues to a chunk of the Berlin Wall he helped to tear down. But none represents his humble beginnings in Dixon as vividly as his boyhood home.

"Well I think everybody has got a fondness in their heart for a man like him," said Executive Director of the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home & Visitors Center Patrick Gorman. "And went on to become president of the United States. Not too many towns in the United States get to claim home to a president," he said.

However, the tourist attraction has been running an annual deficit of tens of thousands of dollars for years. To make matters worse, the nonprofit is deeply in debt after borrowing 100,000 dollars to repair the home when Gorman took over in 2016. He says those repairs were absolutely necessary.

"I was shocked when I came here to see how far this place had fallen," Gorman said. "Pretty much ashamed. It was very unpresidential," he said.

Today, the home has never looked better since it became a tourist attraction in the 1980s, during Reagan's presidency. But even now, in it's restored state, the home is bleeding money.

"As a matter of fact, this place has been operating at a loss ever since it opened up," said Assistant Director Jerry Schnake. "It has never ever made money; it has lost somewhere between 20-to-40,000 dollars every year," he said.

To make matters worse, attendance has fallen from more than 13,000 a year in the 1980s to fewer than 6,000 in the last few years. But Gorman thinks he can still turn it around by selling adjacent properties owned by the non-profit and getting a good financial manager to help out.

"I just believe it can be done. That's a saying from Ronald Reagan, 'It can be done," he said.

Tools for Teachers: Milan teacher gets boost for school supplies

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MILAN, Illinois -- Jennifer Jackson has worked in the Rock Island-Milan School District for more than 20 years.

"From the time I wake up I'm thinking about what I need to do in the morning until the time I go to bed," said Jackson, "I'm still thinking abut and doing paperwork at my kitchen table."

Jackson's job is never over, working off the clock and sometimes using her own money to get everything done.

However, for the 2019-2020 school year, Jackson was nominated for a boost from her mom.  She got a $200 Visa gift card from Carpetland USA as part of the monthly Tools for Teachers contest.  That money can go toward supplies for her classroom.

"I can't believe it," said Jackson.  "Just to be recognized for, you know, doing what I do everyday you know, it's my job... It's just nice to get some special thing."

Jackson works as a special education teacher, thinking each day of the best possible ways to support her students.  Knowing her students, she knows just what to invest in.

"We have a lot of students that have some sensory things that they deal with," she said, "so maybe some sensory things for the classroom that would probably be my first thought."

Click here to nominate a special teacher for the Tools for Teachers contest. 

Florida bloodhounds find missing 3-year-old with autism in under 30 minutes

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PENSACOLA, Fla. – In less than half an hour, a couple bloodhounds belonging to a Florida sheriff’s office found a missing 3-year-old boy with autism, who had wandered alone into the thick woods of the Panhandle Sunday.

Audra Hughes said her mother was watching her son Aedric and was in the bathroom when the boy apparently managed to unlock the deadbolt to the front door and “went for a little adventure,” she said.

Hughes said her neighbors in the Pensacola suburb of Pace were searching their own properties and others to find Aedric.

“The most terrifying words a mother can get on the phone is ‘your child is missing, get home right now,'” mother Audra Hughes said at a Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office press conference Monday morning. “And then a couple hours later, the best news I’ve ever heard in my life. ‘We found your kid.'”

Aedric was gone for about two hours when sheriff’s deputies dropped off police dogs Copper and Zinc to search for him. Johnson said it took them just 28 minutes to find the 3-year-old in a muddy, briar-choked section of the woods about 200 yards away from a neighbor’s house. Deputies said they needed machetes to get to him.

“A year ago we got some bloodhounds, and yesterday they paid off with dividends,” Sheriff Bob Johnson said. “All they do is track people and they are really, really good at it.”

Aedric was found healthy aside from possibly a couple scratches and bug bites. During the press conference Sheriff Johnson even gave the boy a present – a giant stuffed animal wearing a sheriff’s office T-shirt.

“I’m very grateful for the team,” Hughes said. “Words can’t express the excitement and gratitude I have.”

Rock Island self-proclaimed gang member and felon handed 7 years for possessing a gun

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ROCK ISLAND- A convicted felon and self-proclaimed gang member was sentenced to seven years in prison after a court found him guilty of possessing a firearm.

On Sept. 16, 2019, Matthew Eric Moultrie, 20, of Rock Island, was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for illegally possessing a firearm.

Judge Darrow ordered that the federal sentence be served consecutively to two other criminal cases Moultrie has in Rock Island County.

Earlier on March 9, 2019, Moultrie pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon on Sept. 14, 2018.

According to court documents, on Sept. 14, 2018, Moultrie, a self-identified gang member, fired multiple shots at a car and the people inside in Rock Island.

Officers identified Moultrie as the shooter and went to arrest him later that evening.

They say he fled into an occupied home. This resulted in a two-hour standoff with law enforcement that ultimately ended with his surrender and arrest.

Skilled to Work: union retirement plan and investments offer post-career comfort and fun

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CORALVILLE LAKE, Iowa -- Many workers in the skilled trades say that their union retirement plan is one of the most attractive perks of the job. They say it provides financial security later in life and gives retirees the opportunity to pursue other dreams and hobbies.

Coralville Lake is a favorite fishing spot for retired plumber Mark Runge.  "My title now is 'retired and loving it,'" he said with a laugh. "I put 35 years in," Runge said.

He could be seen fishing with his friend and Local 25 Union brother, Greg Sly, who is a retired pipefitter. He put in 34 years, working for local contractors in the Quad Cities.

There's a friendly rivalry between the two over which trade produces better fishermen.

"That's no contest!" said Sly. "Plumbers are always working underwater," he said.

"No contest? Let's tell him how we did in Canada," Runge shot back with a grin.

But their love of the outdoors and years of friendship both on and off the job bonds them as brothers, even in their retirement. In their later years, their union pension and investments help pay for Runge's 18 and a half foot alumacraft and other life necessities.

"This trade has been awesome to me," said Runge. "And the end game, what we're living and doing right now, should sell it all by itself," he said.

"You know those young guys coming along, they see us old guys, doing this," said Sly as he cast out his hook. "You know, it's not all bad," he said.






New York Times reporters grilled about botched Kavanaugh story

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(CNN) — The two reporters at the center of the botched New York Times story about a new sexual misconduct allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh were pressed on Tuesday about the paper’s handling of the facts.

Co-reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day” that it was an “oversight” by the paper when it omitted a key detail in their story: The woman at the center of the allegations against Kavanaugh, declined to be interviewed. Moreover, her friends said she did not recall the incident.

“In the editing process, I think there was some debate about naming her because the Times has a history of not necessarily naming a victim, and so, in the course of that reporting, I think a judgment was made to omit her name and that sentence also included the fact that she didn’t remember it,” Pogrebin explained. “Upon realizing that omission, that oversight, the Times decided to put it back into the story and to issue an apology for having left it out in the first place.”

The Times’ Sunday Review, which falls under the Opinion section of the paper, published a story based on an upcoming book written by Kelly and Pogrebin, detailing a previously unreported allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, which he denied. When Camerota asked why the explosive story was “relegated” to the Opinion section instead of appearing in the news section or the front page of the paper, Kelly said she disagreed “with the word relegated.”

“I think the Sunday review section is a place where Times authors run excerpts of their book. It happens on a regular basis,” Kelly said. “We thought that was a good home for the piece. We shared the book early with our leadership on the news side as well as in other parts of the paper, and we had a discussion amongst ourselves about the best way to handle this. And the feeling was we wanted to write a nuanced piece that would focus on Debbie Ramirez’s story which we thought we were telling with fresh detail and context.”

Pogrebin also addressed the backlash over a tweet that the Times posted to tease the story. The tweet said that “having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun.” On Sunday night, the Times apologized for the “offensive” tweet and appended to the story an editor’s note addressing the glaring omission in its original story. Politico reported on Monday that Pogrebin wrote the offensive tweet, citing a Times insider familiar with the matter.

But on Tuesday, Pogrebin sidestepped questions about her role in writing the tweet, saying “all I can say is the tweet was written, and the tweet was sent out, and it shouldn’t have happened.”

When pressed by Camerota, Pogrebin said, “I just feel it’s a distraction to try and go back over that.”

The errors around the Kavanaugh story is far from the only mistake the Times Opinion has made in recent years. Earlier this year, the Opinion section of The Times’ international edition published an anti-Semitic cartoon. The Opinion section issued an apology and The Times’ publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, said the newspaper was “taking disciplinary” measures regarding the editor involved.

In 2017, Sarah Palin filed a lawsuit against the newspaper over an editorial that falsely drew a link between an advertisement of her political action committee and the 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona, in which six people were killed and then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was severely wounded. There is no evidence that the shooter saw the advertisement or that he was motivated by it.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the woman who declined to be interviewed by the Times.

Georgia man shoots, kills 3 masked teens attempting to rob him

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A Georgia homeowner shot and killed three masked teens as they approached his residence with their faces covered, authorities said.

The three victims, one 15-year-old and two 16-year-olds, were all from the area but did not live in the specific neighborhood they were in, the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office said.

The teens approached three residents at the front yard of a home early Monday morning and attempted to rob them, authorities say. One of the would-be robbers took out a gun and fired shots at them, before one of the residents returned fire.

“The victims of the attempted robbery were all uninjured, but the three attempted robbery suspects were all shot during the exchange of gunfire and succumbed to their injuries, one on scene and two at a local hospital after being transported,” the sheriff’s department said in a press release.

One neighbor told CNN affiliate WSB he heard someone asking for help.

“I heard a guy yelling for help. ‘Help me help me, I’m dying, I’m dying, help me, help me,” Brian Jenkins told the affiliate.

Another neighbor said they ran out to help after they heard what sounded like five shots from a handgun.

“Then I heard somebody have an assault rifle,” Carlos Watson told WSB. “And it was a slew of shots that came out.”

Georgia is one of at least 10 states with self-defense laws that include language stating a person may “stand his or her ground,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Stand your ground laws allow people to respond to threats or force without fear of criminal prosecution.

Georgia Code states that “a person is justified in using force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or herself or a third person or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. ”

No charges have been filed against anyone at this time, authorities said.

The investigation is still active, according to the sheriff’s department.

US cities are losing 36 million trees a year. Here’s why it matters and how you can stop it

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(CNN) — If you’re looking for a reason to care about tree loss, this summer’s record-breaking heat waves might be it. Trees can lower summer daytime temperatures by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a recent study.

But tree cover in US cities is shrinking. A study published last year by the US Forest Service found that we lost 36 million trees annually from urban and rural communities over a five-year period. That’s a 1% drop from 2009 to 2014.

If we continue on this path, “cities will become warmer, more polluted and generally more unhealthy for inhabitants,” said David Nowak, a senior US Forest Service scientist and co-author of the study.

Nowak says there are many reasons our tree canopy is declining, including hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, insects and disease. But the one reason for tree loss that humans can control is sensible development.

“We see the tree cover being swapped out for impervious cover, which means when we look at the photographs, what was there is now replaced with a parking lot or a building,” Nowak said.

More than 80% of the US population lives in urban areas, and most Americans live in forested regions along the East and West coasts, Nowak says.

“Every time we put a road down, we put a building and we cut a tree or add a tree, it not only affects that site, it affects the region.”

The study placed a value on tree loss based on trees’ role in air pollution removal and energy conservation.

The lost value amounted to $96 million a year.

Nowak lists 10 benefits trees provide to society:

Heat reduction: Trees provide shade for homes, office buildings, parks and roadways, cooling surface temperatures. They also take in and evaporate water, cooling the air around them. “Just walk in the shade of a tree on a hot day. You can’t get that from grass,” Nowak said. To get the full temperature benefit, tree canopy cover should exceed 40% of the area to be cooled, according to a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “A single city block would need to be nearly half-covered by a leafy green network of branches and leaves,” the authors wrote.

Air pollution reduction: Trees absorb carbon and remove pollutants from the atmosphere.

Energy emissions reduction: Trees reduce energy costs by $4 billion a year, according to Nowak’s study. “The shading of those trees on buildings reduce your air conditioning costs. Take those trees away; now your buildings are heating up, you’re running your air conditioning more, and you’re burning more fuel from the power plants, so the pollution and emissions go up.”

Water quality improvement: Trees act as water filters, taking in dirty surface water and absorbing nitrogen and phosphorus into the soil.

Flooding reduction: Trees reduce flooding by absorbing water and reducing runoff into streams.

Noise reduction: Trees can deflect sound, one reason you’ll see them lining highways, along fences and between roads and neighborhoods. They can also add sound through birds chirping and wind blowing through leaves, noises that have shown psychological benefits.

Protection from UV radiation: Trees absorb 96% of ultraviolet radiation, Nowak says.

Improved aesthetics: Ask any real estate agent, architect or city planner: Trees and leaf cover improve the looks and value of any property.

Improved human health: Many studies have found connections between exposure to nature and better mental and physical health. Some hospitals have added tree views and plantings for patients as a result of these studies. Doctors are even prescribing walks in nature for children and families due to evidence that nature exposure lowers blood pressure and stress hormones. And studies have associated living near green areas with lower death rates.

Wildlife habitat: Birds rely on trees for shelter, food and nesting. Worldwide, forests provide for a huge diversity of animal life.

Planning for trees

Nowak says there’s a downside to trees too, such as pollen allergies or large falling branches in storms, “and people don’t like raking leaves.” But, he says, there are ways cities and counties can manage trees to help communities thrive. “You can’t just say ‘we’re not going to have forests.’ We might as well manage and work with the trees.”

“You don’t want a tree in the middle of a baseball field. It’s very difficult to play sports if you have trees in the way. Or trees in the middle of freeways.”

Nowak says we can design and manage tree canopies in our cities to help “affect the air, to affect the water, to affect our well-being.”

Urban forests especially need our help to replace fallen trees. Unlike rural areas, it is very difficult for trees to repopulate themselves in a city environment with so much pavement and asphalt.

“A lot of our native trees can’t actually find a place to drop an acorn so they can regenerate,” explains Greg Levine, co-executive director for Trees Atlanta.

“That’s why the community has to go in and actually plant a tree because the areas just aren’t natural anymore.”

The job is not complete when the saplings take root. Organizations like Trees Atlanta and their volunteers plan most of their year to care for these young trees until they’re mature enough to thrive on their own.

“We try to prune trees for 10 years to make sure they get a good healthy structure.” Levine adds. “We also add mulch around trees to help keep the moisture in the ground so the tree doesn’t dry up. We have to have a lot of patience with planting trees around pavement, making sure that they can rise to the challenge. ”

How you can help stop tree loss

Protect what you have: Nowak says the first step is caring for the trees on your own property. “We think we pay for our house, and so we must maintain it. But because we don’t pay for nature, we don’t need to. And that’s not necessarily true.”

Prune the dead limbs out of your trees: If they’re small enough, do it yourself or hire a company. The risk of limbs damaging your house is significantly lowered when there’s tree upkeep, Nowak said.

Notice where your trees may be in trouble: Often, you can observe when something’s wrong, such as when branches are losing leaves and breaking or when mushrooms are growing at the base or on the trees. You can also hire an arborist or tree canopy expert to assess the health of your trees on an annual basis. Or you can contact your local agricultural extension office for advice.

Don’t remove old trees if it’s not necessary: Instead, try taking smaller actions like removing branches. “It takes a long time for these big trees to get big: 50 to 100 years. And once they’re established, they can live a long time. But taking a big tree out and saying ‘we’ll replant,’ there’s no guarantee small trees will make it, and it will take a very long time to grow.”

Allow trees to grow on your property: Although everyone’s aesthetic is different, it’s the cheap way to get cooler yards and lower energy bills. It’s also an inexpensive approach to flood and noise control.

Nowak says he laughs when his neighbors wonder why their property doesn’t have more trees, because “I hear people running their lawn mowers.” Fallen seeds need a chance to implant, and constant mowing prevents that. If you don’t like where a seedling is growing, you can dig it up and plant it or a new tree where you like.

Educate yourself about trees and get involved: Many cities have tree ordinances that seek to protect very old, significant trees. You can get involved by attending city council meetings. You can also help your city plant trees by joining local nonprofit groups.

Volunteer or donate to tree planting and research organizations:

The US and UK see vaping very differently. Here’s why

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(CNN) — An outbreak of a vaping-related illness in the United States has sickened hundreds and may be linked to the deaths of seven people, and an epidemic of youth vaping there has been called a “public health crisis.”

President Donald Trump’s administration moved to ban e-cigarette flavors and there are warnings to avoid vaping altogether, and

But in the UK, there doesn’t appear to be an outbreak of vaping-related sickness. Neither has vaping’s popularity soared among young people who never smoked. Rather, e-cigarettes have been embraced mostly as a way for adults to quit combustible cigarettes. Indeed, health authorities in the UK stand by their support for e-cigarettes as a cessation tool.

“If you don’t smoke, don’t vape,” said John Newton, director of health improvement at Public Health England. “But if you smoke there is no situation where it would be better for your health to continue smoking rather than switching completely to vaping.

“PHE’s advice remains that e-cigarettes are a fraction of the risk of smoking, and using one makes it much more likely you’ll quit successfully than relying on willpower alone.”

What’s different? Regulation, especially on advertising and promotion, and the levels of nicotine in vaping products.

“In the UK the culture is that this is a replacement and not an initiation product,” said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a professor of pediatrics in Stanford Medicine’s Division of Adolescent Medicine.

The great vape debate

In a review last year, Public Health England found that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking conventional cigarettes and was helping 20,000 people quit a year. The agency was concerned that more than half of smokers “falsely believed that vaping is as harmful as smoking.”

“There is much public misunderstand about nicotine,” the body said, with “less than 10% of adults understand that most of the harms to health from smoking are not caused by nicotine.”

It also said that concern about e-cigarette use as a gateway to smoking among young people wasn’t supported by evidence in the UK, where regular vaping among young people who’ve never smoked is less than 1%.

“Similar choice of flavors exist in the US and UK and yet we do not have the same levels of youth vaping here. Our much lower rates are due to our much stricter advertising regulations and possibly our lower nicotine cap,” a spokesperson for Public Health England said Thursday.

Halpern-Felsher noted those differences, too.

“In the UK, first of all, they are not allowing advertisements in the same way and so you don’t get advertisements to young people,” Halpern-Felsher said. Outdoor advertisements on buses, for example, are allowed, but “e-cigarette companies just don’t have the presence on social media and in the TV or radio.”

In the United States, more than a quarter of high school students were current e-cigarette users in 2019, according to preliminary numbers from the National Youth Tobacco Survey revealed last week.

In the UK, 3.3% of 11-to-18-year-olds use e-cigarettes “less than weekly” and 1.6% use them at least weekly.

The EU’s Tobacco Products Directive, which took effect in 2016, lays down rules on the manufacture, presentation and sale of e-cigarettes in member countries. This includes restrictions on labeling, packaging and advertising. An EU report on the health and environmental risks of e-cigarettes is due by the end of 2020.

EU regulations also restrict e-cigarette liquids used in vaping devices to a nicotine strength of no more than 20mg/ml but in the US, some Juulpods contain 59 mg/ml, making them more potent.

A 5% nicotine Juulpod contains “the amount of nicotine found in two packs of cigarettes — one and a half to two packs,” Halpern-Felsher said. “Whereas the UK would not allow that.”

Juul says a 5% strength Juulpod is designed to replace one pack of cigarettes in terms of the number of puffs and the nicotine strength. The company says its studies “have consistently shown that use of JUUL products with 5% nicotine strength results in a nicotine uptake similar to, but lower in concentration than, a cigarette,” and that Juul’s “nicotine experience” was developed to help adult smokers transition from combustible cigarettes.

Regulatory differences

That’s not to say there’s no concern over the safety of e-cigarettes in the UK.

One 2018 study found that, among young people in Great Britain, those who had ever smoked were more likely to start vaping — and those who had ever used an e-cigarette, even if they weren’t smokers, were more likely to start smoking.

Public Health England said that vaping “is not completely without risks” and stressed that vapers should use “UK-regulated e-liquids and never risk vaping home-made or illicit e-liquids or adding substances, any of which could be harmful.”

And the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said 62 reports of adverse reactions linked to e-cigarettes had been reported by the public and health professionals between May 20, 2016 and September 6, 2019.

It’s a far cry from the United States, where illness and addiction have hoisted vaping into headlines.

The CDC says there are 380 confirmed and probable cases of lung disease associated with e-cigarette product use, or vaping. It’s not clear what’s causing the illnesses, although some of the patients vaped THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The US Food and Drug Administration also said in August it was investigating 127 reports of seizures that might be linked to vaping.

The Trump administration’s moves to ban e-cigarette flavors “will serve as a powerful tool that the FDA can use to combat the troubling trend of youth e-cigarette use. We must act swiftly against flavored e-cigarette products that are especially attractive to children,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless said last week. “The tremendous progress we’ve made in reducing youth tobacco use in the US is jeopardized by this onslaught of e-cigarette use.

“Nobody wants to see children becoming addicted to nicotine, and we will continue to use the full scope of our regulatory authority thoughtfully and thoroughly to tackle this mounting public health crisis.”

Some in the UK were critical of the Trump administration’s plan.

Dan Marchant, the owner and founder of Vape Club in the United Kingdom and founding member of the UK Vaping Industry Association, warns that banning products could “create a black market” — an argument that has been made by US vaping advocates, as well.

“We know prohibition doesn’t work. Regulation does work,” Marchant said. “From the UK perspective, we have a very highly regulated market … The diseases that are being reported don’t really correlate with the ingredients in professionally manufactured e-liquids.”

Professor Linda Bauld, professor of public health at University of Edinburgh, said that it would be a mistake for the United States to ban flavored e-cigarettes.

“It is true that a rising number of American teenagers have tried or recently used flavored vapes and this has caused alarm. But by removing all these products from the market, the proposed US policy forgets that the flavors are an important part of the appeal to adult smokers trying to quit smoking,” she said.

“In Europe, flavored e-cigarettes have contributed to recent declines in adult smoking and well-conducted randomized controlled trials show that these products do help people quit.”

Views on vaping around the world

Some 35 million people around the world are believed to be using e-cigarettes or newer heat-not-burn products, according to data and research company Euromonitor.

They are popular among smokers in many places trying to kick the habit, as they satisfy the urge for nicotine while removing exposure to the tar and toxins of burned tobacco, but many worry they’re creating new addictions to nicotine, particularly among young people.

Governments around the world are divided about vaping. According to the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction report, 39 countries have banned the sale of e-cigarettes or nicotine liquids. Norway bans the sale of e-cigarettes containing nicotine, as does Australia. There are bans in Japan, Thailand and Singapore, and under proposed legislation in Hong Kong, vapers could be jailed.

Dr. Vinayak Prasad, head of the World Health Organization tobacco control program, told CNN in an email on Thursday that WHO “was actively monitoring developments in the US and other countries and will update governments in due course,” adding that its member states hadn’t reported similar lung illnesses to those seen in the United States.

The organization also hasn’t thrown its weight behind the use of e-cigarettes as a way to quit.

“The scientific evidence on e-cigarettes as cessation aids is inconclusive and there is a lack of clarity as to whether these products have any role to play in smoking cessation,” the global health body said in a July report. “There are also real concerns about the risk they pose to non-smokers who start to use them, especially young people.”

WIU gets $10 million grant to investigate potential of pennycress in the fuel industry

WQAD News -

MACOMB, Illinois — Western Illinois University has been awarded $10 million as they investigate an alternative cover crop called pennycress.

During the announcement on Tuesday, September 17, Professor of Agriculture, Win Phippen said he will be leading a team of researchers as they investigated the crop’s potential.

Dr. Phippen said he and his team would focus on how the crop can be used in the bio-fuel industry, with a specific emphasis on aviation fuel uses.  They will be working with researchers from Illinois State University, the Ohio State University, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and the University of Minnesota.

Students working on this project will focus on plant breeding, ecosystem services, supply chain management, and education opportunities.

Pennycress is planted immediately after corn is harvested and is harvested just before soybeans are planted.  Dr. Phippen said integrating this crop into the rotation extends the growing season and helps curb the fight between food versus fuel.

The overall goal is to make 50 billion gallons of biofuel in 25 years, said Dr. Phippen.  On a smaller scale, WIU hopes to commercialize the use of pennycress within five years.

The grant is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.  WIU was one of eight schools to receive this $10 million grant.

Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders commit to releasing medical records early

WQAD News -

(CNN) — Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden committed to publicly releasing his medical records before the Iowa caucuses after questions of whether the 76-year-old former vice president is fit for the rigors of the presidency and to take on President Donald Trump, aged 73, in a grueling 2020 campaign.

In Houston on Friday, a day after the third presidential debate, the Democratic frontrunner was asked by a reporter if he will be disclosing his medical records to address worries about his age.

“Yes,” Biden said, then with a quip, “What health concerns man? You want to wrestle?”

Asked about the timing, Biden said he’ll release his medical records “when I get the next physical” exam and “before there’s the first vote.”

A Biden spokesman confirmed to CNN that meant before the Iowa caucuses in February 2020.

Biden had previously committed to releasing his medical records before the general election.

“I mean there’s no reason for me not to release my medical records,” Biden told reporters Friday.

Although the statesman would be the oldest US president to be sworn in for his first term, Biden is not the oldest candidate in the race for the Democratic ticket — nor is he the only one in his 70s.

At 78, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is older than Biden. While Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is 70. Together with Biden, the three septuagenarians have been dominating the field of their younger Democratic rivals.

Warren also plans to release her medical records before the Iowa caucuses, Kristen Orthman, a spokeswoman for the Warren campaign, confirmed to CNN. And a senior adviser to the Sanders campaign confirmed that the Vermont senator will release his medical records before the first votes are cast. NBC first reported Sanders’ pledge.

Biden’s propensity for gaffes and slip-ups, which is consistent with his previous campaigns, have been linked to his age by Democratic challengers and other critics.

Biden has said that it’s “totally appropriate” for people to consider his age when evaluating him as candidate, though he has repeatedly assured that he’s in good health and fine shape for the job.

If he were to win the White House, Biden would be 78 years old when he’s sworn into office in 2021 — which would make him the oldest president at the beginning of his first term in American history. Trump was the oldest president at the beginning of his first term in 2017.

During the third presidential debate on Thursday, Julián Castro, 44, made what was seen as an attack against Biden’s age by questioning Biden’s memory. Castro later denied it was such an attack.

After the debate, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said Castro had “really legitimate concerns about can he be someone in a long grueling campaign” and said that Castro “has every right to call it out.”

“There’s a lot of people concerned about Joe Biden’s ability to carry the ball across the end line without fumbling,” Booker told CNN’s Anderson Cooper late Thursday night.

Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, another Democrat running for president but who was not on the debate stage Thursday, recently said Biden “is declining” and thought he didn’t have the stamina, Bloomberg reported.


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