YouTube Campus Shooting Ends With Suspect Dead, Three Hurt

  • Female suspect dies of self-inflicted wound, police chief says
  • Local hospitals report ready to receive patients from incident

A woman shot and injured at least three people before killing herself at Google’s YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California, police said.

San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said three victims were transported to local hospitals Tuesday afternoon. The woman found at the scene appeared to be dead of “a self-inflicted” gunshot wound, he said. No motive was given for the shooting.

Sepand Parhami, a YouTube software engineer, said he was having lunch on an outside patio when he heard shots and saw what looked to be a woman moving from a garage to the lobby of the building. He scrambled for the door and went inside as the woman started shooting, he said in an interview after the incident.

Police said they received multiple emergency calls beginning at 12:46 p.m. local time. Two minutes later officers arrived on the scene and encountered people escaping from the building. They began a search and found someone with gunshot wounds, according to Barberini. As the search continued they found a second person, a female, with what appeared to be a self-inflicted fatal gunshot wound. Police then found two more people with gunshot wounds, he said.

Zach Vorhies, a YouTube software engineer, said he saw a man on the ground with an apparent gunshot wound to the stomach. The victim was a heavyset man lying in the courtyard outside the building, Vorhies said in an interview. Vorhies said he then saw a police officer coming in with an assault rifle and ran out of the building through a rear exit.

Vadim Lavrusik, a product manager at YouTube, wrote earlier on Twitter that he and coworkers were barricaded inside a room at the 901 Cherry Ave. headquarters, before later tweeting “Safe. Got evacuated. Outside now.”

“Our security team has been working closely with authorities to evacuate the buildings and ensure the safety of employees in the area,” Alphabet Inc.’s Google said in a statement. “We advised all other employees in the Bay Area, and people with meetings scheduled, to stay away from the area, and that there is no need to take any action. We have provided employees a helpline.”

Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, which has the city’s major trauma center, said they were treating three patients from the incident: a 36-year-old man in critical condition, a 32-year-old woman in serious condition and a 27-year-old woman in fair condition. The patients had multiple injuries, Andre Campbell, a hospital surgeon, told reporters. Campbell declined to specify the type of gunshot wounds suffered by the victims.

“Gun violence happens here everyday,” Campbell said. “We have a serious problem that we need to address. This is a real problem.”

The Stanford Health Care Center, which had been told to prepare for patients from the shooting, didn’t receive any victims to treat, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded to the scene. U.S. President Donald Trump, in a tweet, said he was briefed on the shooting and offered his “thoughts and prayers” for everyone involved.

San Bruno is a city 11 miles south of downtown San Francisco which is adjacent to San Francisco International Airport. The city has been the home of YouTube, the world’s largest online video site, for more than a decade. It’s the northern border of Silicon Valley and is also home to a major Walmart e-commerce office.

As the incident started, a Google employee at a nearby complex to the YouTube office said several police sirens were heard around the office and colleagues inside of the building were texting them updates. Videos and photos posted to Snapchat showed police officers running into the YouTube offices. People were also seen evacuating the offices in a line with their hands up in the air, according to the videos. Television reports showed police officers patting down people who had left the building to check for weapons.

Across the nation, the gun control debate has gained increasing attention from voters and legislators in the wake of the February mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Congress recently bolstered the federal background check system for gun purchases as part of a larger spending bill and an additional report clarified that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could study the causes of gun violence. Additional measures have been passed at the state level.

An FBI study of active shooter incidents from 2000 to 2013 found that only six such cases, or 3.8 percent, involved a female shooter. Among the 160 shootings the study focused on, 23 occurred in business environments, and in 22 of those, the shooter worked for or had worked for the company targeted. Two of those shooters were women. In 40 percent of the total incidents studied, the shooter committed suicide.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-03/police-investigating-reports-of-shooter-at-youtube-campus

Cuomo Seeks New York Tax Revisions to Thwart Federal Changes

New York state would end income taxes on wage earners and make up the revenue with an employer payroll tax that’s federally deductible as part of a restructuring plan that Governor Andrew Cuomo is recommending to mitigate harmful effects of the new U.S. tax code.

The new federal law limits deductions for individuals’ state and local taxes — raising levies 25 percent on all New Yorkers, no matter where they live, Cuomo said Tuesday. The federal changes could push residents and businesses out of state, the Democratic governor said as he presented a budget for the next fiscal year.

“We’re doing everything we can to thwart the effects of the federal plan,” Cuomo said. “This is going to be the most difficult challenge that we’ve had to take on because it’s the most complicated, but I have no doubt that this is the fight of New York’s future.”

Earlier this month, Cuomo said his administration would file a lawsuit seeking to repeal the new federal tax law, arguing that it discriminates against states with high local and state taxes. In his budget speech, Cuomo for the first time fleshed out his plan to further reduce the impact of the federal law by changing the way the state taxes wage earners’ income.

In the tax-overhaul legislation that President Donald Trump signed last month, the Republican-controlled Congress cut income-tax rates on businesses and individuals across the board. But it also limited the deductions that individuals can take for state and local taxes — including income and property levies — to $10,000.

That so-called SALT provision is widely viewed as an attack on Democratic-leaning states, which tend to have higher taxes. On Tuesday, Cuomo called the SALT cap “ an economic missile” aimed at New York, which he said pays $48 billion more to the federal government than it gets back each year. The changes will add $14 billion more to that tally this year, Cuomo said.

New York’s ‘Penalty’

“It targets New York with a penalty,” he said. Overall, he said 12 states would be targeted by limiting the SALT deductions to help pay for other cuts. “Coincidentally, they all happen to be Democratic.”

In response, Cuomo said his proposal, the “New York State Taxpayer Protection Act,” would eliminate the state income tax on wage earners. Instead, the state would levy a wage tax on the employer. By doing so, the tax burden would shift from workers — who face new limits on their ability to deduct state income taxes — to employers, who could still take full deductions for such payroll taxes. The legislation would spell out which kinds of companies would be eligible for this treatment.

“It may actually reduce the liability because it may bring the worker down to a lower income bracket,” Cuomo said. 

The plan would apply only to wage earners. For other sources of income — including investment gains — the state would continue to run its personal income tax system, Cuomo said. The state Department of Taxation will spell out more details Wednesday, he said.

Cuomo also said he intends to create state charitable funds for education and health care, which would allow individuals to get state tax credits for their donations. This would mitigate the impact of the federal tax plan on high-income earners, he said. California and New Jersey officials are considering similar proposals.

The governor also proposed deferring tax credits for companies that receive $2 million or more in credits for one year, which would raise $300 million in state revenue, he said. The federal tax changes — which cut the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent — will more than make up for that change, he said.

“They weren’t expecting the tax cut; they got the tax cut,” Cuomo said. “It’ll more than offset the deferral of our credits.”

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-16/cuomo-says-new-york-to-alter-tax-law-to-thwart-federal-changes

    Sessions Ending Obama-Era Policy That Ushered In Legal Weed

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding an Obama-era policy that helped states legalize recreational marijuana, throwing a wet blanket on the fledgling industry during what could have been a celebratory week.

    The Justice Department will reverse the so-called Cole and Ogden memos that set out guardrails for federal prosecution of cannabis and allowed legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the U.S., according to two senior agency officials. U.S. attorneys in states where pot is legal will now be able prosecute cases where they see fit, according to the officials, who requested anonymity discussing internal policy.

    Shares of pot companies plunged as news of the policy change surfaced, though many began to rebound after investors weighed the potential impact.

    The change comes at a high point for the weed industry. California, the biggest U.S. state and sixth-largest economy in the world, launched its legal marketplace on Jan. 1. Sales in California alone are expected to reach $3.7 billion in 2018, according to estimates from BDS Analytics. 

    Seven other states and the District of Columbia have also legalized cannabis for adult use. Twenty-one additional states have voted to allow the plant to be used for medicinal purposes. The market is expected to skyrocket from $6 billion in 2016 to $50 billion by 2026, according to Cowen & Co.

    Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, has long been opposed to marijuana, equating it with heroin. But this is the first action he’s taken that deviates significantly from the Obama administration. Many in the industry said the news is unsurprising but disappointing.

    “While dismantling the industry will prove impossible, the move by Sessions will sow more seeds of uncertainty in an industry that already has its fair share of risks and unknowns,” said Chris Walsh, vice president of Marijuana Business Daily. “Businesses could be in for a bumpy ride amid this uncertainty, and we certainly could see some types of regional crackdowns or delays in upcoming medical or recreational cannabis markets.”

    Shares Plummet

    The Bloomberg Intelligence Global Cannabis Competitive Peers Index dropped as much as 24 percent after the Associated Press first reported the Justice Department plan. Most companies in that group are small. Still, there are a few big names that could be hit by the changing policy. 

    Constellation Brands Inc., which sells Corona beer and Svedka vodka in the U.S., got involved in the cannabis industry in October when it acquired a minority investment in Canopy Growth, a Canadian marijuana company. Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has also made its way into the Green Rush. It fell as much as 5.7 percent after the news, the biggest intraday drop since May. 

    A tightening of enforcement also would be felt in Canada, where the cannabis industry has blossomed. Ontario’s Canopy Growth fell as much as 19 percent to C$29.06 in Toronto, while Aphria Inc. plunged as much as 23 percent to C$16.59. ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF, the first pure-play pot ETF to be listed in the U.S., dropped as much as 9.7 percent, the biggest intraday decline since May.

    Fear and Doubt

    Sessions’s policy may cause investors to think twice before putting their money into the Green Rush, according to Adrian Sedlin, founder of Canndescent, a marijuana cultivation and branded-flower company.

    “Fear, uncertainty and doubt will rip through our industry like a California wildfire because of this,” he said. “Whatever happens longterm, this will retard and limit capital flows into the industry for the foreseeable future.”

    The move is likely to sow confusion among consumers and state officials, and may spark a backlash if state-approved retailers are prosecuted. Sixty-four percent of the U.S. population now wants to make pot legal, according to a Gallup poll released in October.

    But it’s too late to stop the industry from growing, said Laura Bianchi, a partner and director of cannabis, business and corporate transactions and estate planning at Rose Law Group in Scottsdale, Arizona.

    “To undo this industry would be like closing Pandora’s box once it’s been opened,” she said. “It would be a Herculean effort that would undermine another Republican cornerstone, which is the importance of states’ rights.”

    Senators React

    Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, where marijuana is legal, said in a tweet that Sessions’s move contradicts what he told the senator before his confirmation.

    “I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me,” Gardner said.

    Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, said Sessions’s actions are an affront to medical patients who need to use the plant as medicine. 

    “Parents should be able to give their sick kids the medicine they need without having to fear that they will be prosecuted,” she said in a statement. “This is about public health, and it’s about reforming our broken criminal justice system that throws too many minorities in prison for completely nonviolent offenses.”

    Still, the federal policy change may not actually hurt business much at all. Entrepreneurs starting marijuana businesses have already been working under risky circumstances. The plant has remained federally illegal, meaning most large companies — including banks — have shied away. Instead, the business has relied on state regulators, many of whom previously said they would defend the industry through any federal crackdown. 

    “We’re not overly concerned that a change in DOJ policy around cannabis will be meaningfully disruptive to legal adult use cannabis states, given the vocal support offered by these state-level AG’s,” said Vivien Azer, a Cowen & Co. analyst who covers the industry.

      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-04/sessions-said-to-kill-obama-policy-that-ushered-in-legal-weed

      Spinal-Cord Implants to Numb Pain Emerge as Alternative to Pills

      For millions of Americans suffering from debilitating nerve pain, a once-overlooked option has emerged as an alternative to high doses of opioids: implanted medical devices using electricity to counteract pain signals the same way noise-canceling headphones work against sound. 

      The approach, called neuromodulation, has been a godsend for Linda Landy, who was a 42-year-old runner when a foot surgery went awry in 2008. She was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, a condition dubbed the suicide disease by doctors: The pain is so unrelenting that many people take their own lives.

      Linda Landy and family

      Last November, Landy underwent surgery to get an Abbott Laboratories device that stimulates the dorsal root ganglion, a spot in the spine that was the pain conduit for her damaged nerves. A year after getting her implant, called DRG, she’s cut back drastically on pain pills.

      “The DRG doesn’t take the pain completely away, but it changes it into something I can live with,” said Landy, a mother of three in Fort Worth, Texas. She’s now now able to walk again and travel by plane without using a wheelchair. “It sounds minor, but it’s really huge.”

      Crackdown on Opioids

      Recent innovations from global device makers like Abbott to smaller specialists such as Nevro Corp. made the implants more powerful and effective. Combined with a national crackdown on narcotics and wanton pain pill prescriptions, they are spurring demand for implants.

      The market may double to $4 billion in 10 years, up from about $1.8 billion in the U.S. and $500 million in Europe today, according to health-care research firm Decisions Resources Group.

      “There was a big stigma around this when it first came out,” said Paul Desormeaux, a Decisions Resources analyst in Toronto. “The idea of sending an electrical signal through your nervous system was a little daunting, but as clinical data has come out and physicians have been able to prove its safety, there has been a big change in the general attitude.”

      Read More: Millions Face Pain, Withdrawal as Opioid Prescriptions Plummet

      At least 50 million adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only a fraction of them would benefit from spinal-cord stimulation — about 3.6 million, according to Decisions Resources — but those are patients who are often given the highest doses of narcotics. They include people with nerve damage stemming from conditions like diabetic neuropathy and shingles, as well as surgeries.

      “There is no question we are reducing the risk of opioid dependence by implanting these devices,” said Timothy Deer, president of the Spine and Nerve Centers of the Virginias in Charleston, West Virginia, a hotbed of the opioid epidemic. “If we get someone before they are placed on opioids, 95 percent of the time we can reduce their need to ever go on them.”

      Studies show spinal-cord stimulators can reduce use of powerful pain drugs by 60 percent or more, said Deer, a clinical professor of anesthesiology.

      Read More: Tangled Incentives Push Drugmakers Away From an Opioid Solution

      Technology breakthroughs that are just now reaching patients came from a better understanding of how pain signals are transmitted within the spinal cord, the main thoroughfare between the command center in the brain and the body.

      For some chronic pain patients, the spinal cord runs too efficiently, speeding signs of distress. Stimulators send their own pulses of electrical activity to offset or interrupt the pain zinging along the nerve fibers. They have been available for more than three decades, but until recently their invasive nature, potential safety risks and cost limited demand.

      Market Leader Abbott

      Illinois-based Abbott, with its $29 billion acquisition of St. Jude Medical this year, took the market lead with advances that allow it to target specific nerves and tailor the treatment. Nevro, of Redwood City, California, has rolled out improvement to its Senza system, a best-in-class approach that is safe while getting an MRI and operates without the tingling that often accompanies spinal-cord stimulation.

      In the latest devices, which cost $30,000 or more, codes that are running the electrical pulses are more sophisticated. The frequency, rate and amplitude can be adjusted, often by the patients, which allows personalized therapy. 

      The new implants are also smaller: The surgery is generally an outpatient procedure with minimal post-operative pain and a short recovery. They have longer battery life, reducing the need for replacement. And patients can try out a non-invasive version of the equipment before getting a permanent implant.

      “This is really a defining moment in what we can do to impact the lives of people who suffer from chronic pain,” said Allen Burton, Abbott’s medical director of neuromodulation. “We can dampen the chronic pain signal and give patients their lives back.”

      Medtronic Plc, which pioneered the technique but ceded the lead in recent years, is now working on next-generation devices. The company recently gained approval for the smallest pain-management implant, Intellis. In development are devices that can detect pain waves and adjust automatically, said Geoff Martha, executive vice president of Medtronic’s restorative therapies group.

      “A self-correcting central nervous system — that’s the panacea. That’s the ultimate goal,” Martha said. “It could take a huge bite out of the opioid problem.”

        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-26/spinal-cord-implants-to-numb-pain-emerge-as-alternative-to-pills

        It’s no longer felony to knowingly infect others with HIV in California

        Knowingly exposing others to HIV without disclosing your status is no longer a felony in California—which is being heralded as a victory for sex workers’ rights activists and LGBTQ organizations for easing the stigma in being HIV-positive.

        Senate Bill 239 was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Friday, after it was passed early last month. Starting Jan. 1, 2018, exposing another person to HIV without their knowledge or consent is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to six months in county jail. Previously, doing so was a felony with up to eight years in prison if charged and convicted.

        According to the Washington Post, arrests under the former law were rarely handed down to people who maliciously infected others with HIV. Instead, sex workers facing a solicitation conviction were regularly charged with infecting others with HIV during mandatory testing.

        “If you are a sex worker and you solicit someone and you’re HIV positive, you’re guilty of a felony before any contact occurs,” co-sponsor and state Sen. Scott Wiener (D) said, the Post reports. “These laws are so draconian that you can be convicted of a felony and sent to state prison even if you engage in behavior that creates zero risk of HIV infection.”

        The bill’s changes stem partly from ongoing research: The Center for Disease Control recently declared that people on HIV medication can’t transmit the virus through sex.

        “The most effective way to reduce HIV infections is to destigmatize HIV,” Wiener said, CNN reports. “To make people comfortable talking about their infection, get tested, get into treatment.”

        Republicans aren’t happy about the law, with conservatives in both the state government and right-wing media harshly condemning its passing. National Review’s Wesley J. Smith called California “radical” and “accepting of dysfunctional and anti-social behavior.”

        “To knowingly decide that one’s own desires matter more than the right of a partner to decide yes or no to potentially risky behavior, or to potentially risk the blood supply, deserves more than a slap on the wrist,” Smith wrote. “Leave it to California to make a declining and decadent culture even more declining and decadent.”

        Meanwhile, for LGBTQ rights group, the bill’s signing is a huge victory across the state. Equality California praised the law as a step forward in fighting discrimination against people with HIV.

        “This is an important bill that modernizes California’s HIV laws,” Equality California executive director Rick Zbur said to CNN. “It will really advance public health and reduce stigma and discrimination that people living with HIV have suffered.”

        H/T the Washington Post

        Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/california-hiv-misdemeanor/

        Trump Officials Dispute the Benefits of Birth Control to Justify Rules

        When the Trump administration elected to stop requiring many employers to offer birth-control coverage in their health plans, it devoted nine of its new rule’s 163 pages to questioning the links between contraception and preventing unplanned pregnancies.

        In the rule released Friday, officials attacked a 2011 report that recommended mandatory birth-control coverage to help women avoid unintended pregnancies. That report, requested by the Department of Health and Human Services, was done by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine — then the Institute of Medicine — an expert group that serves as the nation’s scientific adviser.

        “The rates of, and reasons for, unintended pregnancy are notoriously difficult to measure,” according to the Trump administration’s interim final rule. “In particular, association and causality can be hard to disentangle.”

        Multiple studies have found that access or use of contraception reduced unintended pregnancies. 

        Claims in the report that link increased contraceptive use by unmarried women and teens to decreases in unintended pregnancies “rely on association rather than causation,” according to the rule. The rule references another study that found increased access to contraception decreased teen pregnancies short-term but led to an increase in the long run.

        “We know that safe contraception — and contraception is incredibly safe — leads to a reduction in pregnancies,” said Michele Bratcher Goodwin, director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law. “This has been data that we’ve had for decades.”

        Riskier Behavior

        The rules were released as part of a broader package of protections for religious freedom that the administration announced Friday.

        The government also said imposing a coverage mandate could “affect risky sexual behavior in a negative way” though it didn’t point to any particular studies to support its point. A 2014 study by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found providing no-cost contraception did not lead to riskier sexual behavior.

        The rule asserts that positive health effects associated with birth control “might also be partially offset by an association with negative health effects.” The rule connects the claim of negative health effects to a call by the National Institutes of Health in 2013 for the development of new contraceptives that stated current options can have “many undesirable side effects.” 

        The rule also describes an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality review that found oral contraceptives increased users’ risk of breast cancer and vascular events, making the drugs’ use in preventing ovarian cancer uncertain.

        Federal officials used all of these assertions to determine the government “need not take a position on these empirical questions.”

        “Our review is sufficient to lead us to conclude that significantly more uncertainty and ambiguity exists in the record than the Departments previously acknowledged.”

          Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-06/trump-officials-dispute-birth-control-benefits-to-justify-rules