Progressive Briefing for Thursday, September 6

New study links air pollution to dementia, U.K. accuses Russian spies of implementing nerve agent attack, anonymous White House official publishes scathing NYT op-ed, and more.


New study links air pollution to dementia

There’s no question that air pollution is bad for your body, from lung cancer to heart disease. Even President Trump‘s coal-friendly U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admits that dirty air can increase adverse health effects and cause death.

Now, researchers from Arizona State University have determined another air pollution risk: dementia.

The new paper, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, compared fifteen years of Medicare records for 6.9 million older adults with the EPA’s air quality data. They tested whether these individuals’ onset of dementia was correlated with long-term exposure to tiny pollution particles known as PM2.5.

U.K. accuses Russian spies of implementing nerve agent attack

Recently released photos and CCTV footage depict images of two suspected Russian intelligence agents in the hours prior to a nerve agent attack targeting a former Russian spy and his daughter in England. According to British officials, the two Russian nationals suspected of working for Russia’s military intelligence service, known as the GRU, attempted to murder former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a military-grade Novichok nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union.

On Wednesday, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May issued the following statement: “I would like to update the House on the investigation into the attempted murder of Sergey and Yulia Skripal – and the subsequent poisoning of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley earlier this year.

“This was a sickening and despicable act in which a devastatingly toxic nerve agent – known as Novichok – was used to attack our country. It left four people fighting for their lives and one innocent woman dead. And I know the thoughts of the whole House will be with the family of Dawn Sturgess in particular, following their tragic loss.”

Anonymous senior Trump official publishes blistering take-down of the President in the New York Times

An anonymous senior Trump official published a blistering op-ed Wednesday in the New York Times denouncing the president and describing a “resistance” within his own administration working against him.

“The dilemma – which he does not fully grasp – is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” the official writes. “I would know. I am one of them.”

The slow rise of social democracy in the US

Until Bernie Sanders ran during the Democratic primaries in 2016, the progressive left in the United States was effectively on the fringes of U.S. politics, as it had been for decades. Rather than offering new ideas to deal with rising inequality, the party’s donor-centric strategy has been a mixture of neo-liberal identity politics and incrementalism at best, with voters told to pull the lever for the lesser of two evils in election after election to avoid Republican dominance.

Despite Sanders’ loss to an establishment candidate after what many of his supporters viewed as a corrupted primary process, and despite calls for voters to line up behind corporatist Democrats, Republicans took even more power in 2016 and now control both houses of the U.S. Congress, the presidency and 33 state houses. For almost two years, these politicians have used these offices to reward their funders through tax cuts that clearly favor the wealthy and shredded regulations, often with the complicity of their supposed Democratic rivals.

Short supplies and price increases give major hospital systems and philanthropies idea to launch nonprofit drug company

With more than 100 generic drug shortages and their rising costs plaguing hospitals around the country, several major hospital systems and philanthropies are fighting the problem head on by launching a nonprofit, generic drug company. Civica Rx, the new venture’s name, will be an independent company that plans to market 14 common drugs, which are in short supply and because of it, have risen in price as of recent.

Intermountain Healthcare, a company consisting of 22 hospitals based in Salt Lake City, and other hospitals, including Mayo Clinic and HCA Healthcare, teamed up alongside several philanthropies to launch this venture that will manufacture essential medications that are in short supply and have had “huge spikes” in price.


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