$134 Billion Deficit in October for US Government

The U.S. government recorded a $134 billion budget deficit in October, the first month of the new fiscal year, the Treasury Department said Wednesday.

That compared to a budget deficit of $100 billion in the same month last year, according to the Treasury’s monthly budget statement.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a $133 billion deficit for the month.

Unadjusted receipts last month totaled $246 billion, down 3% from October 2018, while unadjusted outlays were $380 billion, a rise of 8% from the same month a year earlier.

The U.S. government’s fiscal year ends in September each year. Fiscal 2019 saw a widening in the deficit to $984 billion, the largest budget deficit in seven years, a result of the Trump administration’s decision to cut taxes and increase government spending.

Those figures reflected the second full budget year under U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican, and a time when the country had an expanding tax base with moderate economic growth and an unemployment rate near a 50-year low.

When adjusted for calendar effects, the deficit for October remained at $134 billion compared with an adjusted deficit of $113 billion in October 2018.

From: MeNeedIt

Poll Gives UK PM Johnson’s Conservatives 10-point Lead in Election

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have a healthy 10-point lead ahead of an election on Dec. 12, a poll by Savanta ComRes showed on Wednesday, extending their advantage over Labour after the Brexit Party stood down candidates.

The poll, carried out for the Daily Telegraph newspaper, showed the Conservative Party with 40%, up 3 points from a poll last week, ahead of Labour on 30%, up 1 point.

The poll was conducted after Nigel Farage said his Brexit Party would not put candidates up in Conservative-held seats, a major boost to Johnson. The Brexit Party will still stand candidates in Labour-held seats.

“The Brexit Party’s decision not to stand in Conservativeseats is likely to have an obvious positive impact on the overall Conservative vote share,” said Chris Hopkins, Head of Politics at ComRes.

 “But it’s those Labour-held seats that the Conservatives need to win for a majority, and the Brexit Party could still scupper those best-laid plans.”

The poll showed the Liberal Democrats on 16% and the Brexit Party on 7%. Voting analysis website Electoral Calculus said the vote shares implied a Conservative majority of 110 seats. The online poll of 2,022 adults was carried out on Nov. 11-12.

From: MeNeedIt

Naturalizations Hit 11-Year High as Election Year Approaches

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalized 833,000 people — an 11-year high in new oaths of citizenship — in fiscal 2019, which ended Sept. 30. This fiscal year, USCIS administered the Oath of Allegiance to 60 of America’s newest citizens, from 51 countries, during a special naturalizing ceremony Tuesday at Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Saqib Ul Islam talked to some of the new citizens about how they feel and what they are looking forward to as a U.S. citizen.

From: MeNeedIt

Venezuelan Leader Puts Militias on Patrol Ahead of Protests

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is beefing up patrols by civilian militias across the nation as political rivals call for mass demonstrations against him.

Maduro in a national broadcast Tuesday ordered the nation’s 3.2 million militia members to patrol Venezuela’s streets. He gave the command seated between the nation’s top-ranking military leaders.

The heightened patrols overlap with a Saturday protest called by opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido, who has led a nearly year-long campaign to oust Maduro with backing from the U.S. and 50 other nations.

Guaido has not managed to rally large demonstrations in recent months.

However, a wave of political unrest has struck several Latin American nations, and Bolivian socialist leader Evo Morales abruptly resigned Sunday.

Maduro says the same “imperialist” forces that undermined Bolivia’s president seek to oust him.



From: MeNeedIt

Michigan Teen Who Vaped Received Double Lung Transplant

A Michigan teenager was the recipient of what could be the first double lung transplant on a person whose lungs were severely damaged from vaping, health officials said Tuesday.

Doctors at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit described to reporters Tuesday the procedure that saved the 17-year-old’s life and pleaded for the public to understand the dangers of vaping.

The teen was admitted in early September to a Detroit-area hospital with what appeared to be pneumonia. He was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit and taken Oct. 3 to Henry Ford Hospital where the transplant was performed Oct. 15. The double lung transplant is believed to be the first performed on a patient due to vaping.

Doctors found an “enormous amount of inflammation and scarring” on the teen’s lungs, said Dr. Hassan Nemeh, surgical director of thoracic organ transplant at Henry Ford. “This is an evil I haven’t faced before. The damage that these vapes do to people’s lungs is irreversible. Please think of that — and tell your children to think of that.”

Health officials declined to release the teen’s name and said he is expected to recover. They also did not specify what the teen vaped or how long he vaped.

A photo of a patient being transported is displayed while medical staff at Henry Ford Hospital answer questions during a news conference in Detroit, Nov. 12, 2019.
A photo of a patient being transported is displayed while medical staff at Henry Ford Hospital answer questions during a news conference in Detroit, Nov. 12, 2019.

“We asked Henry Ford doctors to share that the horrific life-threatening effects of vaping are very real!” his family said in a statement released by the hospital. “Our family could never have imagined being at the center of the largest adolescent public health crisis to face our country in decades.”

“Within a very short period of time, our lives have been forever changed. He has gone from the typical life of a perfectly healthy 16-year old athlete — attending high school, hanging out with friends, sailing and playing video games — to waking up intubated and with two new lungs, facing a long and painful recovery process as he struggles to regain his strength and mobility, which has been severely impacted.”

The boy had his 17th birthday after initially being admitted to the hospital.

More than 2,000 Americans who vape have gotten sick since March, many of them teenagers and young adults, and at least 40 people have died.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week announced a breakthrough into the cause of a vaping illness outbreak, identifying the chemical compound vitamin E acetate as a “very strong culprit” after finding it in fluid taken from the lungs of 29 patients. Vitamin E acetate previously was found in liquid from electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices used by many who got sick and only recently has been used as a vaping fluid thickener.

Many who got sick said they had vaped liquids that contain THC, the high-inducing part of marijuana, with many saying they received them from friends or bought them on the black market.

E-cigarettes and other vaping devices heat a liquid into an inhalable vapor. Most products contained nicotine, but THC vaping has been growing more common.

FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2019 file photo, a man blows a puff of smoke as he vapes with an electronic cigarette. Months into an…
FILE – A man blows a puff of smoke as he vapes with an electronic cigarette, Oct. 18, 2019.

Henry Ford doctors did not say Tuesday what the lung transplant recipient vaped. They did say that he was critically ill when he arrived at Henry Ford where he was placed Oct. 8 on an organ transplant waiting list. His lung damage due to vaping was so severe and he was so close to death that the teen immediately was placed at the top of the transplant waiting list, they said.

“Vaping-related injuries are all too common these days. Our adolescents are faced with a crisis,” said Dr. Lisa Allenspach, pulmonologist and the medical director of Henry Ford’s Lung Transplant Program. “We are just beginning to see the enormous health consequence jeopardizing the youth in our country … these vaping products should not be used in any fashion.”

The 17-year-old’s case does not open any new ethical considerations about transplants for people how who irreparably damage their own lungs by vaping, Nemeh told The Associated Press.

“It won’t change what we do on a routine basis. We will still evaluate every patient as an individual patient,” he said. “We hope sharing this patient’s story prevents anyone else from experiencing a vaping injury that would require a transplant.”

Nemeh added that lung transplants have been considered for ex-smokers who have quit and demonstrated that they quit smoking, but transplants are not routinely done for people over the age of 70.
“Children do receive priority over an adult for a transplant from a pediatric donor,” he said. “The United Network for Organ Sharing creates the rules and then offers the organs to recipients who are a match. We don’t decide who gets an offer.”


From: MeNeedIt

US Supreme Court to Decide DACA Fate

The fate of about 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children is in the hands of nine U.S. Supreme Court justices. The court will decide if the Trump administration has the right to end the program, called DACA, which protects the young immigrants, known as dreamers, from deportation. For most of them, the United States is the only home they have ever known, and they are protesting losing their protected status. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports the U.S. high court heard arguments for both sides on Tuesday.

From: MeNeedIt

Bolivia’s Morales in Exile in Mexico

Exiled Bolivian president Evo Morales arrived Tuesday in Mexico, which granted him asylum after he resigned the presidency on Sunday and fled his country.  Mike O’Sullivan reports, Bolivian opposition leaders say they are working to ensure a peaceful transition despite continuing tensions.


From: MeNeedIt

US Film Industry Taps New Mexico Community College for Talent

While Southern California draws film and television students from all over the world, people in New Mexico don’t have to set foot outside the state to learn the trade, as local colleges are grooming talent for a booming entertainment industry that has sprung up about 1,200 kilometers from Hollywood.

Recently, Albuquerque Studios signed a billion-dollar contract with entertainment giant Netflix and a $500 million deal with NBC Universal Studios. These agreements come on the heels of New Mexico’s enhanced tax incentives to production companies, who film there and hire local talent. One of the seedbeds for such talent is Central New Mexico (CNM) Community College.

Program tied to jobs
Students at Central New Mexico Community College can learn about wardrobe assembly, electrical work, set lighting and camera operation — to name a few of the courses offered. For New Mexico residents, CNM charges $56 per credit hour; for nonresidents, $296 per credit hour. Even that price is nowhere near the five-figure yearly tuition at other colleges around the country, such as New York’s renowned School of Visual Arts, whether tuition is upwards of $50,000 a year, for a similar program.
Both schools promise connections and training to get their students hired. But in Albuquerque, students have an edge: a blossoming film industry that provides tax incentives for TV and film productions with crews made up of at least 60% local hires.

Amber Dodson, film liaison for the city of Albuquerque, said entertainment giant Netflix alone has committed over the next decade to spending $1 billion in production and generate 1,000 jobs a year throughout the state. She said students in Albuquerque learning “below-the-line” crafts, which include jobs on a film crew like a grip, “are getting jobs often times before they even graduate.”
Jim Graebner, CNM’s senior film instructor, described the school’s program for below-the-line crafts.
“Our program is only a two-term program, that’s basically half a (calendar) year, where we get through the whole protocol of how to make a movie and workflow, and then we expose people to all the different tools they’ll need on a set and then try to get them specialized in a different craft,” Graebner, or “Grubb” as he is known, added.
Work ethic
Graebner likened CNM’s program to a “boot camp,” where the students are working hard to learn skills to meet the needs of production companies and studios.
“The biggest thing we have to teach them is stamina, because they are coming in(to) a world where everybody expects an eight-hour workday. We’ve got 14 hours. It’s the average,” he said.
In a trade dominated by men for decades, women are beginning to make inroads.
“I have women – especially Hollywood’s big on upping the percentage of women on all the below-the-line (non-cast member) crafts – I have women who are grips now and they don’t have to be huge or strong. So, if you’re a woman, want to become a grip, I can get you a job tomorrow,” Graebner said.
Apart from learning to be a grip – that is, to be part of a team that builds and develops a movie set – students receive mentoring and gain on-set experience.
Graebner said the school connects students with the local union, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) 480, where they train with a paid union member and get evaluated for their skills. If they show competency, they can get into the workforce pipeline for the industry, which the union has negotiated for safe working conditions and labor benefits.
Good prospects
CNM instructional technician Gabe Reyes works full time at CNM and also freelances for the film industry.

With the influx of Hollywood in Albuquerque, Reyes said CNM’s Applied Technologies and Film program has taken off since he started in the summer of 2018.

Karen Grandinetti, enrollment strategist of CNM School of Applied Technologies, said the program had 220 students enrolled in the summer of 2018. This fall, there are 657 students.

Prospects are also good for homegrown New Mexican directors and actors who want to build a career in their home state.

One of them is Riley Del Rey, a student actor in the film program at CNM, who recently completed a short film called “Doubt.”
“I think it’s important for people that are moving here to work on productions to take a look at our work and to start selecting their directors and their talent from this market because that’s what’s going to get people to stay and that’s it’s gonna uplift our state,” she says.
Del Rey also pointed to the importance not having to set foot outside the state where she grew up to learn the trade and seek job opportunities.
“What’s making me stay here is that this is the place I’m getting my chops, and it’s where I have family. I also know people in the industry and, with the film community growing so much, it’s just more places for me to find where I fit in here,” Del Rey said. “It’s also less daunting than traveling thousands of miles to go somewhere where I’m not familiar with and (where) it’s kind of a make-it-or-break-it situation.

“I still have to take risks, but I still have all the support from my network here at school but also the family ties that I have to New Mexico,” she added.

From: MeNeedIt

Officials: US Airstrike Mistakenly Kills 4 Afghan Soldiers

An airstrike carried out by American forces in eastern Afghanistan has mistakenly killed at least four Afghan soldiers and injured six others.

A provincial police spokesman said the overnight incident occurred in the troubled Logar province during clashes between Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents.

Shahpoor Ahamadzai told VOA the fighting erupted Monday night after insurgents assaulted a security outpost near the provincial capital of Pul-e-Alam.

The Taliban attack prompted the Afghan National Army (ANA) to call in U.S. air support, which resulted in the “friendly fire” incident, Ahmadzai explained.

A U.S. military spokesman told VOA it was aware of reports an American airstrike conducted in support of Afghan forces may have resulted in ANA casualties.

“U.S. and Afghan forces are working closely together to develop a shared understanding of this event. A joint investigation is ongoing,” the spokesman said.

Separately, the provincial police confirmed a U.S. convoy was struck by a suicide car bomber near a foreign military base just outside Pul-e-Alam.

A U.S. military spokesman confirmed the attack, saying it only killed the assailant driving the vehicle.

“No U.S. or Coalition service members were wounded or killed in the attack. We are investigating the incident,” the spokesman added.

There were no claims of responsible from the Taliban, which often claims attacks against U.S. and NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan.  


From: MeNeedIt