Chicken Pox and other herpes infection found to cause Alzheimer’s disease.

A new commentary by scientists at the Universities of Manchester and Edinburgh on a study by Taiwanese epidemiologists supports the viability of a potential way to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

When the Taiwanese authors looked at subjects who suffered severe herpes infection and who were treated aggressively with antiviral drugs, the relative risk of dementia was reduced by a factor of 10.

Manchester’s Professor Ruth Itzhaki and Edinburgh’s Professor Richard Lathe say the paper, by Tzeng et al. and published in Neurotherapeutics in February 2018, also shows that type 1 (HSV1) leads to an increased risk of developing the .

“This article and two others by different research groups in Taiwan provide the first population evidence for a causal link between and Alzheimer’s disease, a hugely important finding,” said Professor Itzhaki.

They publish a commentary in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease on the three articles, arguing that they provide the strongest evidence yet for a causal link between herpes infection and Alzheimer’s disease, backing 30 years of research by Professor Itzhaki.

Professor Itzhaki said: “I believe we are the first to realise the implications of these striking data on this devastating condition which principally affects the elderly. No effective treatments are yet available.

“Almost 30 million people worldwide suffer from it and sadly, this figure will rise as longevity increases.

“But we believe that these safe and easily available antivirals may have a strong part to play in combating the disease in these patients.

“It also raises the future possibility of preventing the disease by vaccination against the virus in infancy.

“Successful treatment by a specific drug, or successful vaccination against the putative microbe, are the only ways to prove that a microbe is the cause of a non- infectious human disease.”

Most Alzheimer’s disease researchers investigate its main characteristics – and neurofibrillary tangles; however, despite the vast amount of research, the causes of their formation are unknown.

HSV1 infects most humans in youth or later and remains lifelong in the body in dormant form within the peripheral nervous system.

From time to time the virus becomes activated and in some people it then causes visible damage in the form of cold sores.

The Taiwanese study identified 8,362 subjects aged 50 or more during the period January to December 2000 who were newly diagnosed with severe HSV infection.

The study group was compared to a control group of 25,086 people with no evidence of HSV infection.

The authors then monitored the development of dementia in these individuals over a follow-up period of 10 years between 2001 and 2010.

The risk of developing dementia in the HSV group was increased by a factor of 2.542. But, when the authors compared those among the HSV cohort who were treated with antiviral therapy versus those who did not receive it, there was a dramatic tenfold reduction in the later incidence of dementia over 10 years.

Professor Richard Lathe added: “Not only is the magnitude of the antiviral effect remarkable, but also the fact that—despite the relatively brief duration and the timing of treatment—in most patients severely affected by HSV1 it appeared to prevent the long-term damage in brain that results in Alzheimer’s.

Professor Itzhaki said: “It was as long ago as 1991 when we discovered that, in many elderly people infected with HSV1, the virus is present also in the brain, and then in 1997 that it confers a strong risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain of people who have a specific genetic factor.

“In 2009, we went on to show that HSV DNA is inside amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s patients’ brains.

“We suggested that the virus in brain is reactivated by certain events such as stress, immunosuppression, and infection/inflammation elsewhere.

“So we believe the cycle of HSV1 reactivation in the brain eventually causes Alzheimer’s in at least some patients.”

The study by Tzeng et al. investigated only people with severe HSV and cannot be generalised to healthy populations.

Oldest Tools Outside Africa Found, Rewriting Human Story

New evidence suggests that our ancient cousins left the continent much earlier than thought.

China’s Loess Plateau now holds the record for housing the oldest stone tools outside of Africa, according to a blockbuster study published in the journal NatureModern humans’ distant relatives left Africa earlier than previously thought—rewriting a key chapter in humankind’s epic prequel, according to a discovery unveiled on Wednesday in Nature.

Modern humans’ distant relatives left Africa earlier than previously thought—rewriting a key chapter in humankind’s epic prequel, according to a discovery unveiled on Wednesday in Nature.

Nearly a hundred stone tools found at the Shangchen site in central China may push back the spread of our ancient usins—hominins—out of Africa by more than a quarter million years.

The toolmakers lived at Shangchen on and off for 800,000 years between 2.1 and 1.3 million years ago, leaving behind tools that are unprecedentedoutside of Africa. The site’s oldest tools are roughly 300,000 years older than Dmanisi, a 1.8-million-year-old site in the Republic of Georgia with the oldest known fossils of our extinct cousin Homo Eretus

“Finding artifacts that you knew were around two million years old—and therefore the oldest outside Africa—was for me, as a palaeoanthropologist, really exciting,” says study coauthor Robin Dennell, a professor at the University of Exeter.

“More people have climbed Everest than found stone tools that old.”

“I’ve always said that once the Chinese researchers start looking for evidence on a similar scale as all the money spent in Africa, things will turn up!” exclaims Gerrit van den Bergh, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wollongong who wasn’t involved with the study.

“It again shows how little we actually know.”

Early Wanderers

Today’s modern humans, Homo sapiens, trace back to a migratory pulse that left Africa some 60,000 years ago. But that migration was hardly the first to leave the continent—nor were modern humans the only hominins to make the trip. Remains of Homo erectus have been found from Georgia to Java. Neanderthals’ ancestors trekked to Europe roughly half a million years ago. At least 700,000 years ago, early hominins somehow swept through the South Pacific, giving rise to the “hobbit” Homo floresiensis and other island toolmakers.

Some sites have hinted at an even older hominin presence in Asia. In the 1980s, researchers suggested that stone tools in Pakistan could be as old as two million years old. In 2004, a Chinese team found 1.66-million-year-old stone tools in north China’s Nihewan basin. And in 2015, researchers made the case that a Homo erectus skull found less than three miles from Shangchen was more than 1.6 million years old.

Convinced that China had even older sites, Zhaoyu Zhu, the new study’s lead author and a geologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, started digging at Shangchen in 2004.

In July 2007, one of Zhu’s colleagues at the site noticed a stone in a steep outcrop—which turned out to be a hominin-modified tool. By 2017, Zhu’s team had uncovered a 240-foot-thick sequence of soil at Shangchen, with 17 layers bearing stone tools.

“My colleagues and I were all very excited,” says Zhu. “This sequence is too massive and spectacular.”

But precisely when were the tools made? To find out, Zhu’s team measured the varying magnetic fields in the tool-bearing soil laye


As each layer formed, minerals within the soil preserved the orientation of Earth’s magnetic field at the time. Because Earth’s magnetic field sometimes reverses polarity, some of the layers’ fields flipped in kind—as did the magnetic fields of similarly aged sediments all over Earth.

By comparing Shangchen’s sediments to well-dated African soils that preserved the same magnetic reversals, Zhu could accurately assign ages to each Shangchen layer. Six of the 96 tools discussed in the study were found in a layer dating back 2.12 million years.

Who Made the Tools?

Since there aren’t hominin fossils alongside Shangchen’s tools, nobody knows for sure who made them.

Homo erectus, the toolmakers at Dmanisi, may have been responsible. The hominin species made stone tools, and it had the sort of build and walking gait needed to cross continents. But the species’s oldest known fossils are about 1.8 million years old—much younger than Shangchen’s oldest


Nestled on a hillside in China’s Shaanxi Province, this dig site exposed Shangchen’s oldest stone tools. Chinese Academy of Sciences geologist Zhaoyu Zhu and his colleagues excavated the area for 13 years.
“It is entirely possible that Homo erectus occupied China at this time, but given the age of the site, and the possibility that artifacts may be found at even earlier ages, another member of the genus Homo may be occupying Asia, such as a Homo habilis-like ancestor,” says Michael Petraglia, a Max Planck Institute paleoanthropologist who studies ancient tools from Asia.

María Martinón-Torres, the director of Spain’s National Center of the Study of Human Evolution (CENIEH) and a world authority on Asian hominin fossils, says that even some Chinese hominin fossils once labeled as H. erectus are worth a second look.

“It is time to accept that not all hominins found in Asia fit in the Asian H. erectus taxon, a species that has been largely employed as a blanket term,” she says. “I think that the question about the first Asian hominin identity is not closed yet.”

Regardless, Shangchen’s toolmakers would have had brains about a third the size of our own. While brain size isn’t everything, experts say that it’s astounding that such early, small-brained humans made it from Africa to China some two million years ago.

Future work will shed light on who these mysterious hominins were. Dennell says that he’d love to look at sediments older than 2.1 million years, which they couldn’t readily do at Shangchen because farms now cover them. Elsewhere in Asia, more stunning finds are all but guaranteed.

“For a long time [the] scientific community has given a secondary role to Asia versus Africa in explaining relevant episodes of our evolution,” says Martinón-Torres. “With more fieldwork at Asia I am sure that more surprises are to come.”

Alejandra Borunda contributed reporting.

2015-2018 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved


Indefinite Detention of Migrants Violates International Law

A man waits to make the daily crossing into the US border city of Brownsville, Texas, on June 22, 2018

Pursuant to its “zero-tolerance” policy, the Trump administration separated some 2,300 migrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border since May 5, 2018. Widespread international condemnation ensued. On June 26, a federal judge in San Diego ordered the government to reunite the families and established a timetable for reunification.

On June 29, the Department of Justice filed a notice of compliance with the court order, but indicated its intention to indefinitely detain families together. Indefinite detention violates international law.

“The Government will not separate families but detain families together during the pendency of immigration proceedings when they are apprehended at or between ports of entry,” the Justice Department wrote in its notice of compliance.

That would amount to indefinite detention as immigration cases can last for months or even years.

A 1997 settlement called the Flores agreement requires that detained immigrant children be released after 20 days. In its notice of compliance, the Justice Department asked the court to modify the Floresagreement to allow indefinite detention of migrants.

Meanwhile, on July 2, a federal judge in Washington ordered the government to give asylum applicants a meaningful opportunity to be released. More than 1,000 applicants have been incarcerated for months or years with no resolution of their cases.

Indefinite detention violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Refugee Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

A Violation of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The United States has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, making its provisions part of US law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, which says treaties “shall be the supreme law of the land.”

The UN Human Rights Committee is the expert body that monitors compliance with the covenant.* The committee has stated that detentions are arbitrary if they do not accord with due process and are manifestly disproportional, unjust or unpredictable.

Indeed, according to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, under the covenant, “‘arbitrariness’ is not to be equated with ‘against the law’, but must be interpreted more broadly to include elements of inappropriateness, injustice, lack of predictability and due process of law.”

Keeping families locked up for months with no good reason is unjust and inappropriate. It denies them due process and a timely resolution of their legal claims. And their time of release is unpredictable.

Moreover, the Human Rights Committee has said that even if detention is initially legal, it could become “arbitrary” if unduly prolonged or not subject to periodic review.

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People deprived of their liberty are entitled to a speedy trial. When they are arbitrarily detained, they have the right to compensation under the covenant.

The covenant’s provisions are not limited to citizens, but apply in cases of immigration control as well. Parties to the covenant may refuse to comply with them only “in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation.”

Alfred de Zayas, UN independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, and former secretary of the Human Rights Committee, wrote in 2016 that, “Neither the war on terror nor restrictive immigration policies justify indefinite detention.”

Experts report that prolonged indefinite detention can cause anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Even brief detentions can result in permanent physical and mental harm to children. The American Academy of Pediatrics wrote a 2015 letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security, which stated, “The act of detention or incarceration itself is associated with poorer health outcomes, higher rates of psychological distress, and suicidality, making the situation for already vulnerable women and children even worse.”

Documents obtained by the ACLU reveal that children in the custody of Customs and Border Protection between 2009 and 2014 suffered horrific brutality and physical, sexual and verbal abuse.

Negative effects of prolonged detention may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in violation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which the United States has ratified.

A Violation of the Refugee Convention

The United States is also a party to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, which prohibits parties from imposing penalties on refugees for illegal entry or presence. The refugees must either: (1) come from a place where their life or freedom was threatened; or (2) enter or be present without authorization. They are required to present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their unauthorized entry or presence.

Indefinite detention constitutes a penalty prohibited by the Refugee Convention.

After an initial period of detention, the Refugee Convention allows countries to impose restrictions on movement if they are “necessary” for national security or in special circumstances, such as a mass arrival of refugees.

Neither of those two conditions was present before Trump ordered indefinite detention of families.

Contrary to Trump’s nativist claims, immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes than US citizens. And a Customs and Border Protection report concluded that rates of illegal entry at the UN border in 2017 were “at the lowest level … on record.”

A Violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states, “No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”

Although the United States has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the US has signed it. A signatory to a treaty cannot take action inconsistent with the object and purpose of the treaty.

A primary object and purpose of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is to protect the best interests of the child. Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, stated that, “Detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation.”

Pentagon Builds Migrant Housing on Military Bases

As it formulates plans to indefinitely detain migrant families, the Pentagon is constructing temporary housing for them at two Texas military bases — Fort Bliss in El Paso and Goodfellow Air Force Base near San Angelo.

A US Navy internal document says the Navy is planning to build tent cities to house migrants, including two camps in California slated to house up to 47,000 people each. They will be called “austere” tent cities.

Since 1983, one of the sites, the former Concord Naval Weapons Station in California, has been undergoing “clean-up of Navy contamination and is not suitable for transfer nor human occupation,” according to Concord Mayor Edi Birsan.

“The idea that you put almost 50,000 people in a tent city facility in the middle of the Bay Area, an urban area, is absurd,” California Rep. Mark DeSaulnier wrote in a letter to the secretary of the Navy. “This does remind me of World II and Japanese internment. We don’t want to be a party to that.”

In the meantime, local officials across the United States are resisting Trump’s inhumane policies. Officials in Texas near Austin, California’s Sacramento County, Springfield County in Western Oregon, and Alexandria, Virginia, have cancelled deals with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain migrants.

*This is a different body than the UN Human Rights Council, from which the United States recently withdrew.

ICE has taken close to 7500 children into custody losing almost 1500.

In the recent days, outrage about treatment of children taken into U.S. custody at the Southwest border has reached a fever pitch, exploding in a barrage of tweets and calls to action with the hashtags #WhereAreTheChildren and #MissingChildren.

How accurate are certain claims circulating online? Are these children really missing? What do those children have to do with the Trump administration’s new immigration enforcement policies? How many families are being separated? And why is there so much outrage about it now? We take a look at how the story has snowballed.

Did the United States really lose track of 1,475 immigrant kids?

In short, yes. During a Senate committee hearing late last month, Steven Wagner, an official with the Department of Health and Human Services, testified that the federal agency had lost track of 1,475 children who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on their own (that is, unaccompanied by adults) and subsequently were placed with adult sponsors in the United States. As the Associated Press reported, the number was based on a survey of more than 7,000 children:

From October to December 2017, HHS called 7,635 children the agency had placed with sponsors, and found 6,075 of the children were still living with their sponsors, 28 had run away, five had been deported and 52 were living with someone else. The rest were missing, said Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary at HHS.

Health and Human Services officials have argued it is not the department’s legal responsibility to find those children after they are released from the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which falls under HHS‘s Administration for Children and Families. And some have pointed out that adult sponsors are sometimes relatives who already were living in the United States and who intentionally may not be responding to contact attempts by HHS.

However, neither of those arguments has done much to quell outrage surrounding the testimony by Wagner, a principal deputy at HHS who oversees the Administration for Children and Families.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), chairman of the Senate subcommittee, has repeatedly argued that it was a matter of humanity, not simply legal responsibility, citing a case in which federal officials had turned over eight immigrant children to human traffickers.

“These kids, regardless of their immigration status, deserve to be treated properly, not abused or trafficked,” Portman said in the subcommittee. “This is all about accountability.”

Portman reiterated his stance in an April 24 “Frontline” special called “Trafficked in America,” which documented the plight of the eight children who were forced to work on an egg farm in Ohio.

“We’ve got these kids. They’re here. They’re living on our soil,” he told the PBS program. “And for us to just, you know, assume someone else is going to take care of them and throw them to the wolves, which is what HHS was doing, is flat-out wrong. I don’t care what you think about immigration policy, it’s wrong.”

According to HHS, approximately 85 percent of sponsors who ultimately acquire custody of unaccompanied minors are parents or close family members.

Were these 1,475 children separated from their parents at the border?

No. The children unaccounted for in last year’s HHS survey all arrived at the Southwest border alone. The government refers to these children as “unaccompanied alien children,” or UACs.

Are children being taken from their parents after they cross the border into the United States?

Yes. On May 7, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department would begin prosecuting every person who crossed the Southwest border illegally — or at least attempt to prosecute “100 percent” — even if some of them could or should be treated as asylum seekers, as the American Civil Liberties Union has argued.

Although Sessions said he understood that some people were fleeing violence or other dangerous situations, he has also stated that the United States “cannot take everyone on this planet who is in a difficult situation.”

“If you cross the border unlawfully … then we will prosecute you,” he said in a pair of speeches in Scottsdale, Ariz., and San Diego. “If you smuggle an illegal alien across the border, then we’ll prosecute you. … If you’re smuggling a child, then we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally. It’s not our fault that somebody does that.”

The consequence of this new “100 percent” policy is that children will be separated from their parents as the adults are charged with a crime, even if the adults are seeking asylum and present themselves at official ports of entry.

Under federal rules, Immigration and Customs Enforcement transfers unaccompanied minors, and now children of detained adults, to Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement within 48 hours of their crossing the border, according to the AP.

Are child-parent separations being used as a tool to deter border crossings?

That would appear to be the case. As The Washington Post’s Sari Horwitz and Maria Sacchetti reported, internal discussions about separating families at the border suggested that it was to dissuade people from attempting to cross the border:

Senior immigration and border officials called for the increased prosecutions [in April] in a confidential memo to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. They said filing criminal charges against migrants, including parents traveling with children, would be the “most effective” way to tamp down on illegal border crossings.

The “zero-tolerance” measure announced Monday could split up thousands of families because children are not allowed in criminal jails. Until now, most families apprehended crossing the border illegally have been released to await civil deportation hearings.

In a May 11 interview with NPR’s John Burnett, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly referred to family separation as something that would be a “tough deterrent” to migrant parents who may be thinking of bringing their children to the border.

“Let me step back and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into United States are not bad people,” Kelly told Burnett. “But they’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society. They’re overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from — fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm. … They’re coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws. But a big name of the game is deterrence.”

Children have their breakfast at the Vina de Tijuana AC migrant shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, on April 28. (Hans-Maximo Musielik/AP)

What are some of the issues that these children face during separation?

For months, stories have abounded of families separated by immigration authorities at the border: Three children were separated from their mother as they fled a gang in El Salvador; a 7-year-old was taken from her Congolese mother who was seeking asylum; and so on, in reportedly hundreds of cases. In almost every case, the families have described heart-wrenching goodbyes and agonizing uncertainty about whether they would be reunited.

According to the Florence Project, an Arizona nonprofit organization that provides legal and social services to detained immigrants, there have been more than 200 cases of parents being separated from their children since the beginning of the year in the state alone.

“The type of devastation that we’re talking about … where a separated mother doesn’t know where her child is for four days, that’s entirely common right now in this administration,” Laura St. John, the group’s legal director, told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. “Children and parents who are separated sometimes don’t have any way to communicate with each other for days, for weeks — I’ve seen months where a parent had no idea where their child was after the U.S. government took their child away.”

St. John noted her group also was seeing increasingly younger children being taken into custody by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, as opposed to the migrant teenagers who had previously crossed the border themselves.

“Just last week we saw a 53-week-old infant in court without a parent,” St. John told Hayes. “What we’re seeing now is that, because the government is separating the children from the parents, the government is actually rendering these children as unaccompanied minors and bringing them to the shelters.”

On the same program, Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s immigrants’ rights project, told Hayes that the number of separations his group has seen was “unprecedented.”

“This is the worst thing I’ve seen in 25-plus years of doing this civil rights work,” Gelernt said. “I am talking to these mothers and they are describing their kids screaming, ‘Mommy, Mommy, don’t let them take me away!’ … The medical evidence is overwhelming that we may be doing permanent trauma to these kids, and yet the government is finding every way they can to try and justify it.”

The Office of Refugee Resettlement reported that children spent an average of 34 days in their custody during the 2015 fiscal year.

What has the government’s response been?

In his May 11 NPR interview, the White House chief of staff danced around a question about whether it was “cruel and heartless” for U.S. border officials to take an immigrant child away from his or her mother.

“I wouldn’t put it quite that way,” Kelly told Burnett. “The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.”

Many members of Congress have expressed concern about family separations. In February, 71 Democratic lawmakers signed a letter to Nielsen stating that they were “deeply disturbed” by the increasing practice, which “suggests a lack of understanding about the violence many families are fleeing in their home countries.”

On May 16, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) questioned Nielsen about the “immoral” policy and asked whether she had been directed to separate families to deter future border crossing attempts. Nielsen denied that the new policy was an act of deterrence.

“What purpose have you been given for separating parents from their children?” Harris asked.

“So my decision has been that anyone who breaks the law will be prosecuted,” Nielsen said. “If you’re a parent or you’re a single person or you happen to have a family, if you cross between the ports of entry, we will refer you for prosecution. You’ve broken U.S. law.”

Nielsen also tried to recast questions that characterized children being removed from their parents’ custody as family separations. When Harris demanded to know whether or how Border Patrol agents were trained to take children from their parents, Nielsen interrupted.

“No, what we’ll be doing is prosecuting parents who have broken the law, just as we do every day in the United States of America,” she said.

“I can appreciate that,” Harris continued, “but if that parent has a 4-year-old child, what do you plan on doing with that child?”

“The child, under law, goes to HHS for care and custody,” Nielsen said.

“They will be separated from their parents,” Harris said, slowly. “My question then is, when you are separating children from their parents, do you have a protocol in place about how that should be done and are you training the people who will actually remove a child from their parent on how to do that in the least traumatic way? I would hope you do train on how to do that.”

Nielsen said she would provide that information to Harris later.

Although the hearing took place two weeks ago, Harris tweeted footage from it on Saturday afternoon, calling Nielsen’s responses “beyond insufficient.”

How has HHS responded?

On Monday night, HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan said in a statement that “the assertion that unaccompanied alien children (UAC) are ‘lost’ is completely false. This is a classic example of the adage ‘No good deed goes unpunished.’”

Hargan’s statement said that ORR “began voluntarily making calls in 2016 as a 30-day follow-up on the release of UAC to make sure that UAC and their sponsors did not require additional services. This additional step, which is not required and was not done previously, is now being used to confuse and spread misinformation.

“These children are not ‘lost’; their sponsors — who are usually parents or family members and in all cases have been vetted for criminality and ability to provide for them — simply did not respond or could not be reached when this voluntary call was made. While there are many possible reasons for this, in many cases sponsors cannot be reached because they themselves are illegal aliens and do not want to be reached by federal authorities.

“This is the core of this issue: In many cases, HHS has been put in the position of placing illegal aliens with the individuals who helped arrange for them to enter the country illegally. This makes the immediate crisis worse and creates a perverse incentive for further violation of federal immigration law.”

He added that “the tracking of UAC after release is just one of the recent headlines that focus on the symptoms of our broken immigration system while ignoring its fundamental flaws. President Trump’s administration has been calling on Congress to put an end to dangerous loopholes in U.S. immigration laws like the practice of ‘catch and release,’ in which federal authorities release illegal immigrants to await hearings for which few show up. In the worst cases, these loopholes are being exploited by human traffickers and violent gangs like MS-13. Until these laws are fixed, the American taxpayer is paying the bill for costly programs that aggravate the problem and put children in dangerous situations.”

Why are we hearing about these issues now?

As mentioned, reports of the 1,475 children HHS could not account for first emerged in April, and proposals to crack down on migrant families crossing the border were discussed as early as last year.

Nevertheless, the story snowballed this past week, with thousands expressing outrage online about both family separations or the HHS survey from last year. Why? As with other topics that mushroom inexplicably on social media, it’s unclear. The issues may have drawn renewed attention in part because of a widely shared column in USA Today by Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini.

Friday also happened to be International Missing Children’s Day, producing what some called an ill-timed tweet from the recruiting arm of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Although ICE is not the agency that is responsible for migrant children, it has since President Trump took office cracked down on deporting undocumented immigrants who previously would not have been a priority.

MSNBC’s Hayes highlighted the issue on his show Friday and called out egregious cases of family separation on social media, labeling the practice “a moral abomination, and a national shame.”

As mentioned before, the 1,475 children were not separated from their parents at the border. However, many who have expressed outrage online about family separations have been appending their tweets with the hashtags #WhereAreTheChildren or #MissingChildren, intentionally or unintentionally linking the two issues.

Some who should have been better informed also conflated the two, implying that federal officials had lost 1,500 immigrant children who had been taken from their parents, when this was not the case.

Other officials and celebrities seized on the hashtag to propose protests and spread the story further, sometimes with erroneous information. For example, some mistakenly accused ICE, a different agency, of “losing” 1,500 children. Many began recirculating an Arizona Republic slideshow with photos from 2014 of a federal detention center for child immigrants.

However, as Vox immigration reporter Dara Lind pointed out in a long thread about both matters, the fact that HHS has already admitted that it cannot account for nearly 1,500 migrant children previously in its custody does not inspire confidence that the agency could perform better with an expanded scope of responsibilities.

“Is this relevant to their newly expanded duties to care for kids separated from parents? You bet it is,” Lind wrote. “But that’s [because] it’s the agency failing at its TRADITIONAL function, and now being asked to perform a new one.”

The topic gained traction Saturday morning when Trump tried to blame Democrats for “the horrible law that separates children from parents once they cross the Border” — even though there is no such law, and even though it was a policy supported by his administration.

Trump also tried to use the issue to drum up support for his proposed border wall.

“He used DACA kids as a bargaining chip, and it didn’t work,” said Kevin Appleby, the senior director of international migration policy at the Center for Migration Studies, a nonpartisan think tank. “So now he’s using vulnerable Central American families for his nativist agenda. It’s shameless.”

Tuesday morning, apparently responding to a segment on “Fox and Friends,” the president returned to Twitter to criticize some of the lawmakers and others on the left whose the #WhereAreTheChildren tweets had used archival photos showing unaccompanied minors in federal custody.

BCG Vaccine

For the last 20 years, the Faustman Lab has been the leader in investigating the potential of the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine to prevent and reverse autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes. This research has advanced from early mouse studies, moving to mechanistic, in vitro trials and now a multi-trial human clinical research program. The Faustman lab showed that BCG boosts a cytokine called TNF, which is beneficial in autoimmune diseases by directly eliminating the autoreactive T cells that attack the pancreas, as well as by inducing beneficial immune cells called regulatory T cells (Tregs).

In 2018 the Faustman Lab announced long term data on BCG treated patients followed for more than five years. All of the patients in the studies showed a durable and significant improvement in HbA1c.

Blood type affects severity of diarrhea caused by E. coli

A new study shows that a kind of E. coli most associated with ‘travelers’ diarrhea’ and children in underdeveloped areas of the world causes more severe disease in people with blood type A. The bacteria release a protein that latches onto intestinal cells in people with blood type A, but not blood type O or B, according to a new study.

Washington University School of Medicine

FDA approves new marijuana drug for epilepsy

  • The FDA approved a new drug containing a chemical found in marijuana.
  • The drug is called Epidiolex, and it’s used to treat epilepsy.
  • This is the first time a federal agency has approved actual components of marijuana in a prescription drug.

    For decades, researchers have hoped that marijuana, which federal law currently prohibits, will one day be approved to treat a variety of conditions like glaucoma, cancer, and multiple sclerosis. Although only 29 states plus Washington D.C. have passed laws to permit the use of medical marijuana, on Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its first prescription epilepsy drug containing cannabidiol (CBD), one of the more than 80 chemicals found in marijuana plants.