Trump mounts extraordinary defence of his ‘mental stability’

President boasts of being a very stable genius and calls Michael Wolff a fraud but author says his explosive book will finally end this presidency

In an extraordinary public defence of his own mental stability, Donald Trump issued a volley of tweets that seemed guaranteed to add fuel to a raging political fire.

Suggestions in a new tell-all book that he was mentally unfit to be president were out of the old Ronald Reagan playbook, Trump wrote on Saturday.

Actually, the president added, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.

He also said he would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!

The book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff, burst into the public consciousness on Wednesday, when the Guardian reported excerpts nearly a week ahead of publication. Trump threatened to sue but succeeded only in prompting the publisher Henry Holt to bring the book forward.

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Fire and Fury: Key explosive quotes from the new Trump book – video

Wolff presents a picture of a doomed administration lurching from crisis to crisis, steered by a childlike figure who responds to overstimulation with intense, reflexive outbursts.

The president may not be able to restrain himself from commenting but I can restrain myself from commenting on his comments, Wolff told the Guardian on Saturday.

At a lunchtime press conference at Camp David, the president was asked why he tweeted. In a characteristically freewheeling answer, he said: Only because I went to the best colleges or college. I went to I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out and made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top business people.

Went to television and for 10 years was a tremendous success as you probably have heard. Ran for president one time and won.

In fact, in 1999 Trump mounted a first run for the White House when he sought the nomination of the Reform party.

The president continued, referring to Wolff: And then I hear this guy that does not know me doesnt know me at all by the way did not interview me for three he said he interviewed me for three hours in the White House it didnt exist, OK? Its in his imagination.

Trump called Wolff a fraud and his book a work of fiction and complained about US libel laws, which he has threatened to change.

The White House chief of staff, John Kelly, told a White House pool reporter the president tweeted to get around the filter of the media. Trump had not at all seemed angry on Friday night or Saturday, Kelly said, adding that the president had watched the Hugh Jackman movie The Greatest Showman about the hoaxer and politician PT Barnum with lawmakers and others.

Before Trumps tweets, Wolff spoke to the BBC. He said: I think one of the interesting effects of the book so far is a very clear emperor has no clothes effect.

Suddenly everywhere people are going: Oh my God, its true, he has no clothes. Thats the background to the perception and the understanding that will finally end this presidency.

The 25th amendment of the US constitution provides for the removal of a president if a majority of the cabinet and the vice-president agree. In Wolffs book, the then White House strategist Steve Bannon refers to Vice-President Mike Pence as our fallback guy. Pence stood to Trumps right at Camp David, his gaze rarely leaving the president.

Bandy Lee, an assistant clinical professor at the Yale School of Medicine, briefed a dozen members of Congress last month on Trumps behaviour. At the end of a week that began with Trump taunting North Korea over the size of his nuclear button, Lee told the Guardian the danger has become imminent.

Fifty-seven House Democrats have signed on to a bill to establish an oversight commission to determine if a president is mentally and physically fit.

We need this legislation quite apart from the Trump administration, Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland and the author of the bill, told the Guardian.

The 25th amendment was framed during the nuclear age the nuclear arsenal being a vast destructive power that is vested, as the president reminded us this week, in one person who views himself as having the power to press a button. We certainly dont want someone in that position who lacks the power of empathy.

The rising tide of questions around the presidents mental health reflects a lot of anxiety unleashed by the presidents nuclear taunts lodged at North Korea.

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A queue for Fire and Fury at Kramerbooks, in Washington. Photograph: Guardian

The White House has forcefully criticised Wolff, who has said he stands by his work, which included more than 200 interviews and extensive access to the West Wing and key administration figures.

At Camp David, Trump referred to Bannon derisively as Sloppy Steve. The former Trump campaign chief has avoided extensive comment, though in the aftermath of the Guardian story he called Trump a great man.

Trumps reference to the Ronald Reagan playbook was a curious one. Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimers, a degenerative brain disease, in 1994, five years after leaving office.

The extent to which he suffered during his time in the White House remains a matter of contention. Reagan, like Trump in his 70s when in office, long faced questions over his mental state. Opponents pointed to his habit of forgetting names and making contradictory statements.

In the Hollywood Reporter this week, Wolff wrote of Trump: Everybody was painfully aware of the increasing pace of his repetitions. It used to be inside of 30 minutes hed repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories now it was within 10 minutes. Indeed, many of his tweets were the product of his repetitions he just couldnt stop saying something.

The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, has said Trump will undergo his annual physical examination on Friday 12 January. The results are due to be made public.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/06/donald-trump-tweets-mental-stability-fire-and-fury-michael-wolff

The Shirk Report Volume 452

Welcome to the Shirk Report where you will find 20 funny images, 10 interesting articles and 5 entertaining videos from the last 7 days of sifting. Most images found on Reddit; articles from Facebook, Twitter, and email; videos come from everywhere. Any suggestions? Send a note to submit@twistedsifter.com

20 IMAGES

Friday!
Taking the fast lane to work
I am my father’s son
Rattled me to my core
He ate one of Dad’s ‘special’ brownies and now we’re at the vet
He also ate one of Dad’s brownies
When nobody reaches for the dish you brought to dinner
OMG the prof accidentally posted the exam answers!
Not all heroes wear capes
This guy
And this guy
High five | Fist bump
[incoming dad joke] Wrong on so many..
My favorite Christmas ornament
Breathe it in boys
Viva la revolución!
She skipped walking and went straight to driving
What’s in a name?
Oh
Until next week

10 ARTICLES

Time: The 25 Best Inventions of 2017
6-year-old made $11 million in one year reviewing toys on You Tube
Alaska Got 15 Inches of Snow in 90 Minutes Last Week
How a Dorm Room Minecraft Scam Brought Down the Internet
Jim Simons: The Numbers King
The fax of life
Virginia’s $40 Toll Road Better Be the Future of Driving
The Flat-Pack, Can-Do Opener: 38+ Uses for the “Best Army Invention Everâ€
The Dutch “Tulip Mania†Bubble (aka “Tulipomaniaâ€)
Former Facebook exec says social media is ripping apart society

5 VIDEOS + that’s my sister!

TURN THAT THUMB UPSIDE DOWN!

Read more: http://twistedsifter.com/2017/12/the-shirk-report-volume-452/

Trump Takes On Amazon Again, Urging Much More in Postage Fees

President Donald Trump said the U.S. Postal Service should charge Amazon.com Inc. more to deliver packages, the latest in a series of public criticisms of the online retailer and its billionaire founder.

The post office “should be charging MUCH MORE” for package delivery, the president tweeted Friday from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, where he’s spending the holidays.

“Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer?” Trump told his 45 million followers.

Trump regularly criticizes Amazon and its chief executive officer, Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post newspaper and is currently the world’s richest man. In August, Trump accused the company of causing “great damage to tax paying retailers,” even though the internet giant began collecting sales tax on products it sells directly in April.

As with prior missives targeting the company, Trump’s message appeared to concern investors. Amazon’s stock had gained the past three days, but dropped 0.6 percent to $1,178.68 at 12:41 p.m. in New York.

A sudden increase in postal service rates would cost Amazon about $2.6 billion a year, according to an April report by Citigroup. That report predicted United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. would also raise rates in response to a postal service hike.

Amazon didn’t respond to requests for comment.

‘Last Mile’

Amazon regularly uses the Postal Service to complete what’s called the “last mile” of delivery, with letter carriers dropping off packages at some 150 million residences and businesses daily. It has a network of more than 20 “sort centers” where customer packages are sorted by zip code, stacked on pallets and delivered to post offices for the final leg of delivery.

While full details of the agreement between Amazon and the Postal Service are unknown — the mail service is independently operated and strikes confidential deals with retailers — David Vernon, an analyst at Bernstein Research who tracks the shipping industry, estimated in 2015 that the USPS handled 40 percent of Amazon’s volume the previous year. He estimated at the time that Amazon pays the Postal Service $2 per package, which is about half what it would pay UPS or FedEx.

Both shippers were up less than 1 percent Friday. Higher postal service rates would benefit private carriers by making their rates more competitive.

But the postal service’s losses have little to do with Amazon and more to do with its large health-care obligations and the dwindling use of first-class mail. USPS charges some of the world’s lowest stamp prices.

The president’s tweet also assumes that Amazon would be forced to pay if the Postal Service increased its rates for packages. But Amazon has been setting up its own shipping operations in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world to minimize costs.

For more on Trump’s Twitter storms, check out this podcast:

 

$62 Billion Loss

The Postal Service reported a net loss of $2.1 billion in the third quarter of 2017 and has $15 billion in outstanding debt. The service has lost $62 billion over the last decade.

USPS’s chief financial officer, Joseph Corbett, wrote in a post for PostalReporter.com in August that the service is required by law to charge retailers at least enough to cover its delivery costs.

“The reason we continue to attract e-commerce customers and business partners is because our customers see the value of our predictable service, enhanced visibility, and competitive pricing,” he wrote.

He said Congress should pass provisions of legislation introduced last year by former Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, that would allow the postal service to raise some rates and discontinue direct delivery to business customers’ doors.

Amazon is experimenting with a new delivery service of its own that is expected to see a broader roll-out in the coming year. Under the program, Amazon would oversee the pickup of packages from warehouses of third-party merchants and delivery to home addresses.

Despite the occasional anti-Amazon tweet, Trump is unlikely to target Amazon with any action because the company is creating jobs by building new warehouses around the country. It’s also expected to generate 50,000 new positions with its second headquarters, said James Cakmak, analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co.

“The interests of Amazon and the administration are largely aligned – even factoring the dislocation to retail – given the positive headline potential around new job creation with fulfillment centers and HQ2,” he said.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-29/trump-says-u-s-post-office-should-charge-amazon-much-more

    12 People Who Did Ancestry DNA Tests For Fun And Got More Than They Bargained For

    Thanks to the innovative and ever-developing technology of the modern age, learning about where you came from is as easy as spitting in a cup.

    Genetic tests revealing your ancestry and personal health-related information, such as the “23andMe” DNA test, are just a click away for consumers interested in examining their lineage — no health care professional needed. That’s why a lot people take them just for fun. But as described in these 12 testing stories, a person’s results can reveal seriously uncomfortable truths they never expected to face.

    1. “My mom did 23 and Me this summer, it came back saying my uncle was only a half uncle. She asked family friends and it turns out my grandmother had an affair and passed my mom off as her father’s kid — a fact that my grandmother clearly intended to take to her grave but science caught up.” — reverendexile

    2. “In my genetics class we do a blood typing lab and our teacher told a story about her first year doing it where there was a girl who had a blood type that meant her dad couldn’t be her actual father and the mom (who also worked at the school) got caught cheating.” — Xzeener

    3. “A former coworker of mine took the test and found she had a different father than her sister and neither were related to their father. She decided to confront her mom about her infidelity. She found out that her mom and dad were into group sex and that the biological fathers could be a number of gentlemen.” — MTGothmog

    4. “So I did Ancestry. My father is ‘an eighth Cherokee’ and my mother ‘a little.’ They insist they’re ‘on the rolls’ somewhere. Ancestry came back 0% Native American. They’re not sure which is worse- did I get switched at the hospital or is their Cherokee heritage a lie?” — JustGreenGuy7

    5. “This is how my ‘brother’ found out my father wasn’t his father. I’m adopted and last year found my biological father and mother. One of my new brothers also took the test and we did not match, although I DID match with our father…and he did not. Found out mom had had an affair while father was in Korea during the war. Oops!” — Edrondol

    6. “My girlfriend got us tests for Christmas, and ever since posting about it on Facebook my mom has been sending her messages asking her to tell her the results before anyone else, including me.” — YoureRude

    7. “At Christmas my grandma told me her friend took a test and found out her dad was her mom’s OBGYN.” — parksy555

    8. “My wife had been told she was of Native American decent her entire life. Supposedly, her great grandmother was full-blood Native. This is a story her family still preaches to be true. Well, my wife does the DNA test only to discover it matches 100% with folks in Europe. Not a drop of Native American in her.” — pyledrive

    9. “Through my DNA test, we discovered that my father has an older half brother that we never knew about before. He was adopted and trying to find his biological family. Turns out my grandpa had a little thing on the side. Both he and my grandmother have passed away… We don’t know if either of them were aware of the child (now grown up).” — dmc5

    10. “My very French Canadian aunt (related to me by marriage) and her sister both took the test. My aunt’s result was more or less exactly what she expected. Her sister found out that she was 50% Arabic, not French at all. Looks like momma had some explaining to do.” — thepragmaticsanction

    Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/dna-tests-gone-wrong/

    Hunt sorry as A&Es struggle to cope

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    Media captionJeremy Hunt: I apologise for postponed operations

    Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has apologised to patients in England who have had their operations postponed.

    Non-urgent treatments had already been cancelled until mid-January, but NHS England said on Tuesday that would now be extended to the end of the month.

    It came after hospitals reported they were struggling to cope with the surge in patients being seen since Christmas.

    At least 17 hospital trusts – one in 10 – have declared a major incident in the last 24 hours, the BBC understands.

    Bosses said they had been forced into the move as patients were experiencing long waits in A&E and being left on trolleys in corridors because there were no beds available.

    Some ambulance services have even started asking 999 callers with less serious problems to make their own way to hospital so they can prioritise the most life-threatening calls.

    Of the decision to cancel operations, Mr Hunt said it was “absolutely not what I want”.

    But he said the move was needed given the pressure hospitals were under.

    “This is the busiest week of the year for the NHS.”

    And he also said the whole country was grateful for the work NHS staff were putting in working “incredibly long hours through the night, beyond the call of duty in every possible way”.

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    Media captionTheresa May: The NHS has been better prepared for this winter than ever before

    His thanks were echoed by Prime Minister Theresa May, who also denied the health service was in crisis.

    “The NHS has been better prepared for this winter than ever before,” she added.

    If you can’t see the NHS Tracker, click or tap here.

    Problems have also been reported in other parts of the UK.

    The Welsh government said the health service was facing “significant pressure”.

    Meanwhile, in Scotland there has been a 20% jump in A&E attendances compared with the previous year, prompting an increase in patients waiting more than four hours, and in Northern Ireland the Antrim Area Hospital has been forced to bring in St John ambulance volunteers to help with a surge in demand.

    NHS England’s Prof Keith Willett admitted the pressures were severe – the worst he had seen since the 1990s – but said plans were in place.

    As well as the cancelling of non-urgent treatments, such as knee and hip replacements, hospitals have been given the green light to put patients on mixed sex wards and to bring GPs into A&E to help deal with patients.

    “A crisis is when you haven’t got in place mitigations and you haven’t got a plan to deal with it,” Prof Willett said.

    “We’ve gone into this winter in a way we’ve never prepared before.”

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    Media captionNHS chief tells Today service is not in crisis but says they may need to cancel more operations in future

    Doctor warns of ‘huge tragedy’

    But Prof Suzanne Mason, of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said the measures were “too little too late” as hospitals simply had no beds free and these treatments would have had to be cancelled anyway.

    She added: “Patient safety is being compromised – there’s no doubt about that. When patients are in crowded emergency departments and staff cannot actually move between patients and provide the basic level of care that’s required, then safety is compromised.

    “Patients who spend many hours on a trolley – and these are often elderly patients – they are the sickest patients in our department.

    “They are much more likely to have a poorer outcome and even die as a result of their experience in the emergency department. And that is a huge tragedy for us in our specialty and that’s why we are so desperate to see things improve.”

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    Media captionDr Adrian Harrop: “I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle”

    Reports have emerged of serious problems in a number of places over the past 24 hours:

    • Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre has asked patients to avoid its A&E after being deluged on Tuesday evening
    • Southend Hospital said it was dealing with an “internal critical incident” with all its beds full, which has led them to call in extra staff
    • A consultant at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust apologised for “third world conditions” in his hospital department
    • Milton Keynes University Hospital is telling people only to attend for emergency treatment
    • Two ambulance trusts in the east and north-east of England are on the highest alert
    • A concentration of major incidents declared at hospitals across the West Country and south-east

    Doctors and nurses have also been speaking about the problems.

    Dr Adrian Harrop, an A&E doctor at Scarborough Hospital, said he felt he was “fighting a losing battle” as he was not able to do his job properly and care for his patients in the way he wanted.

    Mark Nevison, a senior nurse in the north-east, tweeted he had worked in A&E for 10 years and had “never been so ashamed of the sub-standard care” now being offered.

    Image caption Esther Herbert said she couldn’t leave her mother before 06:30 the following morning

    Meanwhile, patients have been talking about their experiences.

    Esther Herbert accompanied her 87-year-old mother to Worcestershire Royal Hospital before Christmas.

    The doors opened and it was just a sea of people,” she said.

    “There were people on beds all the way down the corridor, as far as you could see.”

    Labour shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has blamed the pressures on “Tory underfunding”.

    The health service is in the middle of its toughest cash settlement since it was created.

    Has your operation been cancelled? Please share your experiences with us by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

    Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

    • WhatsApp: +447555 173285
    • Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSay
    • Upload your pictures / video here
    • Send an SMS or MMS to 61124 or +44 7624 800 100

    Or comment here:

    Related Topics

    Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42552267

    Trump Terminated All Members Of HIV/AIDS Council Without Explanation

    The White House has fired the members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), the council’s executive director, Kay Hayes, confirmed to HuffPost on Friday.

    The council, which still had 16 members, was completely dismissed with a letter sent through FedEx on Wednesday, the Washington Blade first reported.

    “Current members of Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) received a letter informing them that the Administration was terminating their appointments” on Dec. 27, 2017, Hayes told HuffPost in a statement sent via email.

    “They were also thanked for their leadership, dedication and commitment to the effort. Changing the makeup of federal advisory committee members is a common occurrence during Administration changes,” the statement read.

    Six members of the council had earlier resigned in June due to “a president who simply does not care,” according to one member in a Newsweek op-ed entitled “Trump doesn’t care about HIV. We’re outta here.”

    SAUL LOEB via Getty Images
    A red ribbon in recognition of World AIDS Day hangs from the North Portico of the White House in Washington, D.C.

    One source with knowledge of PACHA told the Washington Blade that “many council members were terminated even though additional time remained on their terms as advisers.

    PACHA is a federal advisory committee created in 1995 with the goal of “providing information, advice, and recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding programs, policies, and research to promote effective treatment, prevention, and cure of HIV disease and AIDS.”

    As of September, President Donald Trump signed an executive order renewing PACHA for an additional year so the move to fire the current council without explanation seems brash. One of those members ― Gabriel Maldonado, CEO of the Riverside, Calif.-based LGBT and HIV/AIDS group Truevolution ― told the Washington Blade, however, that “it is common for appointees to be terminated and for folks to kind of want their own people in.” 

    “I think where the discrepancy comes in is why a year later, No. 1? Two, many of us, our terms were over earlier this year and we were sworn back in, and three were stayed on nearly four months after an executive order was signed continuing the council,” he said.

    Also of note, during the Obama administration, nearly all of George W. Bush’s appointees were eliminated prior to new appointees being named.

    The current administration has not appointed a director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, a major reason contributing to the June resignation of the six members of PACHA. Additionally, the ONE Campaign released a report earlier this year on the potential impact of the White House’s proposed $800 million cut to HIV/AIDS efforts. The cut would slash the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief by 17 percent and gut global health programs by $2 billion, according to CBS News. The impact would be so great that AIDS experts and advocates predicted to the publication that it would “upend progress on curbing the epidemic.”  

    On World AIDS Day, the Department of Health and Human Services published a notice in the Federal Register inviting nominations of members to serve on PACHA. The council can have up to 25 members and nominations are due no later than 5:00 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018.  

    Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-terminated-all-members-of-hivaids-council-without-explanation_us_5a465bd1e4b0b0e5a7a5ffb5

    Excitement as trial shows Huntington’s drug could slow progress of disease

    Hailed as enormously significant, results in groundbreaking trial are first time a drug has been shown to suppress effects of Huntingtons genetic mutation

    A landmark trial for Huntingtons disease has announced positive results, suggesting that an experimental drug could become the first to slow the progression of the devastating genetic illness.

    The results have been hailed as enormously significant because it is the first time any drug has been shown to suppress the effects of the Huntingtons mutation that causes irreversible damage to the brain. Current treatments only help with symptoms, rather than slowing the diseases progression.

    Q&A

    What is Huntington’s disease?

    Huntingtons disease is a congenital degenerative condition caused by a single defective gene. Most patients are diagnosed in middle age, with symptoms including mood swings, irritability and depression. As the disease progresses, more serious symptoms can include involuntary jerky movements, cognitive difficulties and issues with speech and swallowing.

    Currently there is no cure for Huntington’s, although drugs exist which help manage some of the symptoms. It is thought that about 12 people in 100,000 are affected by Huntington’s, and if a parent carries the faulty gene there is a 50% chance they will pass it on to their offspring.

    Prof Sarah Tabrizi, director of University College Londons Huntingtons Disease Centre who led the phase 1 trial, said the results were beyond what Id ever hoped … The results of this trial are of ground-breaking importance for Huntingtons disease patients and families, she said.

    The results have also caused ripples of excitement across the scientific world because the drug, which is a synthetic strand of DNA, could potentially be adapted to target other incurable brain disorders such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons. The Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche has paid a $45m licence fee to take the drug forward to clinical use.

    Huntingtons is an incurable degenerative disease caused by a single gene defect that is passed down through families.

    The first symptoms, which typically appear in middle age, include mood swings, anger and depression. Later patients develop uncontrolled jerky movements, dementia and ultimately paralysis. Some people die within a decade of diagnosis.

    Most of our patients know whats in their future, said Ed Wild, a UCL scientist and consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, who administered the drug in the trial.

    The mutant Huntingtons gene contains instructions for cells to make a toxic protein, called huntingtin. This code is copied by a messenger molecule and dispatched to the cells protein-making machinery. The drug, called Ionis-HTTRx, works by intercepting the messenger molecule and destroying it before the harmful protein can be made, effectively silencing the effects of the mutant gene.

    How the drug works to slow the progress of Huntington’s disease

    To deliver the drug to the brain, it has to be injected into the fluid around the spine using a four-inch needle.

    Prof John Hardy, a neuroscientist at UCL who was not involved in the trial, said: If Id have been asked five years ago if this could work, I would have absolutely said no. The fact that it does work is really remarkable.

    The trial involved 46 men and women with early stage Huntingtons disease in the UK, Germany and Canada. The patients were given four spinal injections one month apart and the drug dose was increased at each session; roughly a quarter of participants had a placebo injection.

    After being given the drug, the concentration of harmful protein in the spinal cord fluid dropped significantly and in proportion with the strength of the dose. This kind of closely matched relationship normally indicates a drug is having a powerful effect.

    For the first time a drug has lowered the level of the toxic disease-causing protein in the nervous system, and the drug was safe and well-tolerated, said Tabrizi. This is probably the most significant moment in the history of Huntingtons since the gene [was isolated].

    The trial was too small, and not long enough, to show whether patients clinical symptoms improved, but Roche is now expected to launch a major trial aimed at testing this.

    If the future trial is successful, Tabrizi believes the drug could ultimately be used in people with the Huntingtons gene before they become ill, possibly stopping symptoms ever occurring. They may just need a pulse every three to four months, she said. One day we want to prevent the disease.

    The drug, developed by the California biotech firm Ionis Pharmaceuticals, is a synthetic single strand of DNA customised to latch onto the huntingtin messenger molecule.

    The unexpected success raises the tantalising possibility that a similar approach might work for other degenerative brain disorders. The drugs like Lego, said Wild. You can target [any protein].

    For instance, a similar synthetic strand of DNA could be made to target the messenger that produces misshapen amyloid or tau proteins in Alzheimers.

    Huntingtons alone is exciting enough, said Hardy, who first proposed that amyloid proteins play a central role in Alzheimers. I dont want to overstate this too much, but if it works for one, why cant it work for a lot of them? I am very, very excited.

    Prof Giovanna Mallucci, associate director of UK Dementia Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, described the work as a tremendous step forward for individuals with Huntingtons disease and their families.

    Clearly, there will be much interest into whether it can be applied to the treatment of other neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimers, she added. However, she said that in the case of most other disorders the genetic causes are complex and less well understood, making them potentially harder to target.

    About 10,000 people in the UK have the condition and about 25,000 are at risk. Most people with Huntingtons inherited the gene from a parent, but about one in five patients have no known family history of the disease.

    The full results of the trial are expected to be published in a scientific journal next year.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/dec/11/excitement-as-huntingtons-drug-shown-to-slow-progress-of-devastating-disease

    When Your Activity Tracker Becomes a Personal Medical Device

    Fitbit spent its first decade selling activity trackers. With its latest moves, the company is starting to look less like a gear maker selling pricey accessories to fitness buffs and more like a medical-device company, catering to hospitals, patients, and health insurers. The company’s business-to-business arm, called Health Solutions, is now addressing four health conditions—sleep disorders including sleep apnea, diabetes, cardiovascular health and mental health—for employers, health insurers, healthcare providers, and researchers.

    Fitbit has deals with insurers like UnitedHealthcare, which pays its clients up to $1,500 a year for hitting step-count goals. United has done years of research to calculate its return on these payouts, says Fitbit CEO James Park. “The business models are finally catching up to the data we have been collecting.” The next stage is to add in heart rate data, he says.

    Fitbit’s newest product, the Ionic smartwatch, uses a blood-oxygen sensor to screen for sleep apnea and detect a type of heart arrhythmia. The company has completed clinical trials on the use cases and will submit them to the US Food and Drug Administration for approval. If it receives approval, Fitbits could replace expensive chest patch scanning to perform initial screenings for atrial fibrillation on some patients, Park says. The company’s data has been popular with cancer researchers.

    There are plenty of reasons behind the company’s transition: For one, Fitbit will always battle high abandonment rates. (“Fitbit? More like Quitbit,” The Atlantic once quipped.) Fitbit’s sales of fitness trackers, and in turn, its stock price, have reflected that fatigue; revenue fell 22% last quarter and its stock is trading at a 77% discount to its opening price in 2014. But most important, the company needs to differentiate its offerings from the Apple Watch, which debuted in 2015 and has studies that address some of the same areas Fitbit is chasing. Fitbit beat Apple in the third quarter in terms of devices shipped, taking 13.7% of the market, according to IDC. Apple, which took 10.3% of the market, experienced a dramatic increase in sales, while Fitbit continues its decline.

    Fitbit believes its position as a neutral player that works with any phone makes it desirable to insurance companies and hospitals. Apple Watches only work with iPhones; if an employer, hospital or insurer wants its clients to use them, it won’t be able to reach people who have Android phones.

    Fitbit’s push into medicine is not without risks. Park agrees that over time the company’s products will become a form of medical device, but he’s reluctant to call them that outright. The company’s brand is valuable because of its association with fitness and self-improvement, and consumer psychology is a critical component in making sure something like a step tracker is successful, he says.

    “There is a dramatic difference in consumer acceptance and engagement when you say, ‘Hey, here is a medical device from Medtronic, go wear it,’ versus, ‘Here’s a Fitbit, wear this instead,’ ” Park says. “One is aspirational, the other implies that you’re sick. Consumers just go in with a different mentality based on how it’s portrayed and that is actually really, really important.”

    That’s why Fitbit is participating in a new FDA precertification program aimed at digital health products, announced in September. “The FDA recognizes that there is this potentially new class of devices that’s not a consumer device and not a traditional medical device, but somewhere in between, and that there needs to be a new regulatory pathway,” Park says. Fitbit’s rival, Apple, is also a participant.

    CORRECTION, 12:55PM: Fitbit plans to seek approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to use data from its devices to screen for atrial fibrillation. An earlier version of this article said Fitbit was awaiting FDA approval.

    Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/when-your-activity-tracker-becomes-a-personal-medical-device/

    Fiit secures $3.2M seed investment to let you work out with your friends, live

    Want to work out with your friends but you’re all busy and in different parts of the city or even country? Surely you could do this in 2017? Maybe with a Hololens… Turns out one of the few capable of creating this ideal user experience is Peloton, which is now on its Series E funding and has raised as much as $444 million.

    But that is focused on cycling and, well, let’s face it, it pretty expensive. Then there are celebrity fitness apps (like Joe Wicks) but these are limited to a single trainer, not social and don’t incorporate technology, so there’s no feedback loops, fitness tracking etc

    What would be great would be a fitness startup that offered convenience, proper trainers, real-time feedback and the ability to work out against your friends no matter where they were – that isn’t in cycling or running (neither of which you can do at home).

    Step in London-based Fiit. This offers a real-time performance feedback and live leaderboards allowing you to, they say, challenge your friends from anywhere in the world. Over 60% of people cite cost and travel issues as barriers to exercise according to some figures. Fiit is currently signing up users for early access. The platform is set to launch early next year.

    Co-founded by a team of ex-Google employees the startup has now secured a £2.4m / $3.2m seed investment round, led by London-based Connect Ventures and supported by former Innocent co-founders and current JamJar Investors, Rooks Nest Ventures and Westminster Capital.

    The idea is that people work out in their own home in a live scenario with their friends.

    Co-founder Daniel Shellard says: “Traditional gyms and studios have limitations for most people because they haven’t successfully broken down the barriers to regular exercise and don’t easily fit into people’s busy lives. Boutique studios are expensive and elitist. At Fiit we are focussed on the future of fitness, and plan to make it addictive by combining the motivation of a world class studio experience with the convenience of a home workout powered by the fitness stars people follow.”

    JamJar’s Richard Reed says: “Fiit is one of the most exciting companies I have seen since setting up JamJar investments. They have noticed a gap within the health and fitness industry and are set to disrupt the traditional model, offering a unique platform providing unparalleled consumer choice and access.”

    Sitar Teli, Partner at Connect Venture says: “Fiit combines the intensity of boutique fitness classes with the convenience of an on-demand platform, motivation from real-time feedback and social competition to create an experience that surpasses [anything currently available]. This is Connect’s first investment in the fitness space and we think it represents the future of home fitness.”

    Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/18/fiit-secures-3-2m-seed-investment-to-let-you-work-out-with-your-friends-live/

    Fake documents tried to lob sexual harassment claims against Chuck Schumer

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has handed over fake documents which try to smear him with a concocted sexual harassment scandal to U.S. Capitol Police, Fox News has confirmed.

    The documents about allegations toward the highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate were shopped around to multiple news organizations Tuesday. 

    “The document is a forged document and every allegation is false. We have turned it over to the Capitol Police and asked them to investigate and pursue criminal charges because it is clear the law has been broken,” Schumer’s spokesman, Matt House, told Fox News. “We believe the individual responsible for forging the document should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law to prevent other malicious actors from doing the same.”

    The incident follows many allegations of sexual misconduct this year, known as the “Me Too” movement in which “silence breakers” brought down rich and famous men of media, politics and the entertainment worlds.

    Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken last week resigned from the U.S. Senate following a wave of sexual misconduct allegations against him that ranged from groping to forcibly trying to kiss women.

    The 88-year-old Rep. John Conyers retired last week amid allegations by about a half-dozen women who once worked for him that they were harassed and touched inappropriately. The Michigan Democrat has denied the allegations. Conyers, who was facing a House Ethics Committee investigation over claims by former staffers, cited health reasons for his resignation. Conyers first was elected in 1964.

    Late last week, Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks abruptly resigned, saying he had discussed surrogacy with two female staffers. A former aide told The Associated Press he pressed her to carry his child and offered her $5 million to be a surrogate.

    Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/12/12/fake-documents-tried-to-lob-sexual-harassment-claims-against-chuck-schumer.html