US comedian and broadcaster Jon Stewart has attacked a “near-empty” congress after members failed to show up to a hearing on renewing funding for the healthcare of 9/11 first responders.
The former Daily Show host was testifying before the judiciary committee’s subcommittee about securing more money to help care for members of the emergency services who became ill after responding to the attacks.
But most of the panel’s 14 members failed to show up.
“Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak and no one,” Stewart said.
“Shameful, it’s an embarrassment to the country and a stain on this institution. You should be ashamed of yourselves for those who aren’t here but you won’t be because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.”
Becoming tearful, he continued: “Where are they? It would be one thing if their callous indifference and rank hypocrisy was benign, but it’s not.
“Their indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity, time, the one thing they’re running out of.”
Retired NYPD bomb squad detective, Luis Alvarez, was part of the attack response team.
He told the hearing: “Less than 24 hours from now, I will be serving my 69th round of chemotherapy… I should not be here with you. But you made me come. You made me come because I will not stand by and watch as my friends with cancer from 9/11 like me are valued less than anyone else.”
Other emergency service members sat behind Mr Alvarez wiping away tears.
He continued: “We were there with one mission and we left after completing that mission. I have been to many places in this world and done many things. But I can tell you that I did not want to be anywhere else than Ground Zero when I was there.
“I have been lucky enough to have had 68 rounds of chemo. You heard me right. 68 rounds. Many others haven’t had the opportunity to have five. Some have had none.
“It is my goal and it is my legacy to see that you do the right thing for all 9/11 responders.
“You all said you would never forget – well I’m here to make sure that you don’t.”
The fund, originally approved for five years in 2010, provides medical treatment for those who require ongoing care due to inhaling toxic dust in the days following the attack.
Republicans were unhappy with the cost of the original legislation and as a compromise at the time, Democrats agreed to authorise the fund for five years and cover the cost with an excise tax, with a re-evaluation every five years.
Stewart criticised congress for continuing to require the fund be renewed every five years – pointing to the panel’s top Republican, Mike Johnson, for saying that congress has to balance other emergencies as well.
“I’m pretty sure what’s going to happen five years from now, more of these men and women are going to get sick and they are going to die and I am awfully tired of hearing that it’s a 9/11 New York issue,” Stewart said, adding: “Al Qaeda didn’t shout death to Tribeca.”
More than 40,000 people have applied to the Victim Compensation Fund, which covers illnesses potentially related to being at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after the attacks.
More than $5bn in benefits have been awarded out of the $7.4bn fund, with about 21,000 claims pending.
Stewart criticised the fact that nearly 18 years after the attacks, first responders and their families still have no assurance the fund will not run out of money.
Unhatched birds can warn other eggs in nest of danger by vibrating | Science & Tech News
Unhatched baby seabirds can warn each other of impending danger by vibrating within their shells, scientists have discovered.
A study of yellow-legged gull embryos, found they reacted to warning calls from a parent and even passed on the message to siblings who had not heard the call.
The researchers collected gull eggs and divided them into groups of three.
A week before hatching, two of the three eggs in each nest were temporarily removed and exposed to a recording of a predator alarm call.
The noise was delivered four times a day at random intervals for three minutes at a time until hatching.
The third egg from each group remained in the nest in silence.
All three eggs were then reunited and left to hatch.
It was found the embryos responded to the external alarm calls by vibrating more.
This information appeared to be passed on to the third egg which had not been directly exposed to the sounds and it then mimicked the vibrations.
Experts from the Animal Ecology Group at the University of Vigo in Spain discovered all the chicks underwent genetic changes that delayed hatch time.
There was also evidence of increased production of stress hormones which is known to make birds more aware of their surroundings after hatching.
The findings were published in the journal, Nature Ecology and Evolution.
Bali arrests: Shackled Australians facing jail over ‘cocaine use’ | World News
Two Australian men have been paraded in front of the media a week after being arrested in Bali on suspicion of cocaine use and possession.
Indonesian police are preparing to charge the pair and are currently searching for a third suspect after a series of drug raids in the village of Canggu, a popular nightclub area on the island of Bali.
The two men, who have been named as William Cabantong, 35, and David Van Iersel, 38, were led out in front of the media in hand and foot shackles, alongside local drug suspects.
Police acted on a tip-off, and said they found 1.12g of cocaine in the pockets of one of the men, as well as drug equipment including a set of broken scales.
The men bought 2g of cocaine for three million rupiahs (£172), according to police.
The pair have undergone days of interrogation and tests while in prison. Police say a blood test revealed that both Mr Cabantong and Mr Van Iersel were cocaine users.
Denpasar police chief Ruddi Setiawan told reporters: “We advise tourists, locals, and foreigners to come here for a holiday, don’t come to have a drugs party or to use drugs.
“We will take firm action if any foreigners resist. We will not be lenient.”
The men are expected to be charged under Indonesian law 112, legislation which covers drug possession. The punishment carries a possible jail term of between four and 12 years, as well as a fine of 800 million rupiah (£45,000).
It is understood that both Mr Cabantong and Mr Van Iersel worked as nightclub promoters whilst they lived in Australia before they travelled to Bali.
Indonesia is known for its strong penalties against those who commit drug offences. In 2017, Indonesian President Joko Widodo told police officers to shoot drug traffickers.
He said: “Be firm, especially to foreign drug dealers who enter the country and resist arrest. Shoot them because we indeed are in a narcotics emergency position now.”
Drug-resistant malaria strains spread through south east Asia | World News
Strains of drug-resistant malaria are becoming more dominant in Vietnam, Laos and northern Thailand after spreading rapidly from Cambodia.
Malaria is caused by parasites which are carried by mosquitoes and spread through their blood-sucking bites.
And scientists have discovered a growing number of cases where the parasite has mutated making it resistant to drugs.
“We discovered (it) had spread aggressively, replacing local malaria parasites, and had become the dominant strain in Vietnam, Laos and northeastern Thailand,” said Roberto Amato, from the Wellcome Sanger Institute.
Malaria can be successfully treated with medicines if it is caught early enough, but resistance to anti-malarial drugs is growing in many parts of the world, especially in south east Asia.
The first-line treatment for malaria in many parts of Asia in the last decade has been a combination of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine, also known as DHA-PPQ.
Researchers found in previous work that a strain of malaria had evolved and spread across Cambodia between 2007 and 2013 that was resistant to both drugs.
This latest research, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, found it has crossed borders and tightened its grip.
“The speed at which these resistant malaria parasites have spread in south east Asia is very worrying,” said Olivo Miotto, who co-led the work.
“Other drugs may be effective at the moment but the situation is extremely fragile and this study highlights that urgent action is needed.”
Almost 220 million people were infected with malaria in 2017, according to World Health Organisation estimates, and the disease killed 400,000 of them.
The vast majority of cases and deaths are among babies and children in sub-Saharan Africa.
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