Rising home prices and income inequality priced many out of the market, but for strivers who aspired to homeownership, the latest ruptures to the economy hit hard. The release of the new government’s sweeping plan for debt-funded tax cuts led to a big uptick in interest rates this week that roiled the mortgage market. Many homeowners are calculating their potential future mortgage payments with alarm, amid soaring energy and food prices and a general cost-of-living crisis.

Before they were informed they were no longer eligible, the family had been in the final stages of applying for a five-year fixed-rate mortgage on an apartment priced at £519,000, or around $576,000, in the leafy parish of Loughton, a town about 40 minutes north of London by train where the streets fill with students in the afternoon and the properties span from lower-end apartments to million-pound mansions.

according to the Financial Conduct Authority. And more than a third of all mortgages are on fixed rates that expire within the next two years, most likely exposing those borrowers to higher rates, too. By contrast, the vast majority of mortgages in the United States are locked in for 30-year fixed terms.

And the abrupt surge in interest rates could threaten to set off a housing market crisis, analysts at Oxford Economics wrote in a note on Friday, adding that if mortgage rates stayed at the levels now being offered, that would suggest that house prices were around 30 percent overvalued “based on the affordability of mortgage payment.”

“This just adds a significant further strain to finances in the order of hundreds of pounds a month,” said David Sturrock, a senior research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, adding that the squeeze on household budgets will affect the broader economy.

Uncertainty and even panic was clear this week, with many homeowners seeking financial advice. Mortgage brokers said they were receiving a higher volume of inquiries than normal from people stressed about refinancing their loans.

“You can feel the fear in people’s voices,” said Caroline Opie, a mortgage broker working with Ms. Anne who said she had not seen this level of worry in a long time. One couple this week even called her the morning of their wedding, she said, to set an appointment to refinance their mortgage next week.

the war in Ukraine. “Something has got to give,” he said. “Prices are too high anyway.”

To save for the deposit, Mr. Szostek, 37, picked up construction shifts and cleaning jobs when restaurants closed during Covid-19 lockdowns. A £5,000 inheritance from Ms. Anne’s grandfather went into their deposit fund. At a 3.99 percent interest rate, the mortgage repayments were set to be about £2,200 a month.

“I wanted to feel at home for real,” said Ms. Anne, adding she would have been the first in her family to own a property. Mr. Szostek called it “a lifelong dream.”

On Wednesday night, that dream still seemed in reach: The mortgage dealer Ms. Opie had found another loan, which they rushed to apply for.

The higher interest rate — 4.6 percent — will mean their new monthly mortgage payment will be £2,400, the upper limit of what the Szostek family can afford. Still, they felt lucky to secure anything at all, hoping it will mean their promises to their children — of bigger bedrooms, more space, freedom to decorate how they like — will materialize.

They would wait to celebrate, Mr. Szostek said, until they had the keys in hand.

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How a Hospital Chain Used a Poor Neighborhood to Turn Huge Profits

RICHMOND, Va. — In late July, Norman Otey was rushed by ambulance to Richmond Community Hospital. The 63-year-old was doubled over in pain and babbling incoherently. Blood tests suggested septic shock, a grave emergency that required the resources and expertise of an intensive care unit.

But Richmond Community, a struggling hospital in a predominantly Black neighborhood, had closed its I.C.U. in 2017.

It took several hours for Mr. Otey to be transported to another hospital, according to his sister, Linda Jones-Smith. He deteriorated on the way there, and later died of sepsis. Two people who cared for Mr. Otey said the delay had most likely contributed to his death.

the hospital’s financial data.

More than half of all hospitals in the United States are set up as nonprofits, a designation that allows them to make money but avoid paying taxes. Although Bon Secours has taken a financial hit this year like many other hospital systems, the chain made nearly $1 billion in profit last year at its 50 hospitals in the United States and Ireland and was sitting on more than $9 billion in cash reserves. It avoids at least $440 million in federal, state and local taxes every year that it would otherwise have to pay, according to an analysis by the Lown Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

In exchange for the tax breaks, the Internal Revenue Service requires nonprofit hospitals to provide a benefit to their communities. But an investigation by The New York Times found that many of the country’s largest nonprofit hospital systems have drifted far from their charitable roots. The hospitals operate like for-profit companies, fixating on revenue targets and expansions into affluent suburbs.

borrowing tricks from business consultants, have trained staff to squeeze payments from poor patients who should be eligible for free care.

John M. Starcher Jr., made about $6 million in 2020, according to the most recent tax filings.

“Our mission is clear — to extend the compassionate ministry of Jesus by improving the health and well-being of our communities and bring good help to those in need, especially people who are poor, dying and underserved,” the spokeswoman, Maureen Richmond, said. Bon Secours did not comment on Mr. Otey’s case.

In interviews, doctors, nurses and former executives said the hospital had been given short shrift, and pointed to a decade-old development deal with the city of Richmond as another example.

In 2012, the city agreed to lease land to Bon Secours at far below market value on the condition that the chain expand Richmond Community’s facilities. Instead, Bon Secours focused on building a luxury apartment and office complex. The hospital system waited a decade to build the promised medical offices next to Richmond Community, breaking ground only this year.

founded in 1907 by Black doctors who were not allowed to work at the white hospitals across town. In the 1930s, Dr. Jackson’s grandfather, Dr. Isaiah Jackson, mortgaged his house to help pay for an expansion of the hospital. His father, also a doctor, would take his children to the hospital’s fund-raising telethons.

Cassandra Newby-Alexander at Norfolk State University.

got its first supermarket.

according to research done by Virginia Commonwealth University. The public bus route to St. Mary’s, a large Bon Secours facility in the northwest part of the city, takes more than an hour. There is no public transportation from the East End to Memorial Regional, nine miles away.

“It became impossible for me to send people to the advanced heart valve clinic at St. Mary’s,” said Dr. Michael Kelly, a cardiologist who worked at Richmond Community until Bon Secours scaled back the specialty service in 2019. He said he had driven some patients to the clinic in his own car.

Richmond Community has the feel of an urgent-care clinic, with a small waiting room and a tan brick facade. The contrast with Bon Secours’s nearby hospitals is striking.

At the chain’s St. Francis Medical Center, an Italianate-style compound in a suburb 18 miles from Community, golf carts shuttle patients from the lobby entrance, past a marble fountain, to their cars.

after the section of the federal law that authorized it, allows hospitals to buy drugs from manufacturers at a discount — roughly half the average sales price. The hospitals are then allowed to charge patients’ insurers a much higher price for the same drugs.

The theory behind the law was that nonprofit hospitals would invest the savings in their communities. But the 340B program came with few rules. Hospitals did not have to disclose how much money they made from sales of the discounted drugs. And they were not required to use the revenues to help the underserved patients who qualified them for the program in the first place.

In 2019, more than 2,500 nonprofit and government-owned hospitals participated in the program, or more than half of all hospitals in the country, according to the independent Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

in wealthier neighborhoods, where patients with generous private insurance could receive expensive drugs, but on paper make the clinics extensions of poor hospitals to take advantage of 340B.

to a price list that hospitals are required to publish. That is nearly $22,000 profit on a single vial. Adults need two vials per treatment course.

work has shown that hospitals participating in the 340B program have increasingly opened clinics in wealthier areas since the mid-2000s.

were unveiling a major economic deal that would bring $40 million to Richmond, add 200 jobs and keep the Washington team — now known as the Commanders — in the state for summer training.

The deal had three main parts. Bon Secours would get naming rights and help the team build a training camp and medical offices on a lot next to Richmond’s science museum.

The city would lease Bon Secours a prime piece of real estate that the chain had long coveted for $5,000 a year. The parcel was on the city’s west side, next to St. Mary’s, where Bon Secours wanted to build medical offices and a nursing school.

Finally, the nonprofit’s executives promised city leaders that they would build a 25,000-square-foot medical office building next to Richmond Community Hospital. Bon Secours also said it would hire 75 local workers and build a fitness center.

“It’s going to be a quick timetable, but I think we can accomplish it,” the mayor at the time, Dwight C. Jones, said at the news conference.

Today, physical therapy and doctors’ offices overlook the football field at the training center.

On the west side of Richmond, Bon Secours dropped its plans to build a nursing school. Instead, it worked with a real estate developer to build luxury apartments on the site, and delayed its plans to build medical offices. Residents at The Crest at Westhampton Commons, part of the $73 million project, can swim in a saltwater pool and work out on communal Peloton bicycles. On the ground floor, an upscale Mexican restaurant serves cucumber jalapeño margaritas and a Drybar offers salon blowouts.

have said they plan to house mental health, hospice and other services there.

a cardiologist and an expert on racial disparities in amputation, said many people in poor, nonwhite communities faced similar delays in getting the procedure. “I am not surprised by what’s transpired with this patient at all,” he said.

Because Ms. Scarborough does not drive, her nephew must take time off work every time she visits the vascular surgeon, whose office is 10 miles from her home. Richmond Community would have been a five-minute walk. Bon Secours did not comment on her case.

“They have good doctors over there,” Ms. Scarborough said of the neighborhood hospital. “But there does need to be more facilities and services over there for our community, for us.”

Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

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Hurricane Fiona Slams Dominican Republic After Pounding Puerto Rico

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 19, 2022

Fiona was centered 35 miles southeast of Samana in the Dominican Republic Monday morning with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph.

Hurricane Fiona roared over the Dominican Republic Monday after knocking out the power grid and unleashing floods and landslides in Puerto Rico, where the governor said the damage was “catastrophic.”

No deaths have been reported, but authorities in the U.S. territory said it was too early to estimate the damage from a storm that was still forecast to unleash torrential rain across Puerto Rico on Monday.

Up to 30 inches was forecast for Puerto Rico’s southern region. As much as 15 inches were projected for the eastern Dominican Republic.

“It’s important people understand that this is not over,” said Ernesto Morales, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Juan.

He said flooding reached “historic levels,” with authorities evacuating or rescuing hundreds of people across the island.

“The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

Before dawn on Monday, authorities in a boat traveled through the flooded streets of the north coastal town of Catano and used a megaphone to alert people that the pumps had collapsed and urged them to evacuate as soon as possible.

Brown water rushed through streets, into homes and even consumed a runway airport in southern Puerto Rico.

Fiona also ripped up asphalt from roads and washed away a bridge in the central mountain town of Utuado that police say was installed by the National Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017 as a Category 4 storm.

The storm also ripped off the roofs of several homes, including that of Nelson Cirino in the northern coastal town of Loiza.

“I was sleeping and saw when the corrugated metal flew off,” he said as he observed how the rain drenched his belongings and the wind whipped his colorful curtains into the air.

Fiona was centered 35 miles southeast of Samana in the Dominican Republic, with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph on Monday morning, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It was moving to the northwest at 8 mph.

Tropical storm-force winds extended out for 150 miles from the center.

Forecasters said the storm was expected to emerge over the Atlantic in the afternoon and pass close to the Turks and Caicos islands on Tuesday. It could near Bermuda as a major hurricane late Thursday or Friday.

Fiona hit Puerto Rico on the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which slammed into the island in 1989 as a Category 3 storm, and two days before the anniversary of 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria — from which the territory has yet to fully recover.

That hurricane caused nearly 3,000 deaths and destroyed the power grid. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes still have only a blue tarp as a roof.

Authorities announced Monday that power had been returned to 100,000 customers on an island of 3.2 million people, but power distribution company Luma said it could take days to fully restore service.

U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in the U.S. territory as the eye of the storm approached the island’s southwest corner.

Puerto Rico’s health centers were running on generators — and some of those had failed. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews rushed to repair generators at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, where several patients had to be evacuated.

Fiona previously battered the eastern Caribbean, killing one man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods washed his home away, officials said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Eye Of Hurricane Fiona Nears Battered, Powerless Puerto Rico

U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in the U.S. territory as the eye of the storm approached the island’s southwest corner.

Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico’s southwest coast on Sunday as it unleashed landslides, knocked the power grid out and ripped up asphalt from roads and flung the pieces around.

Forecasters said the storm would cause massive flooding and threatened to dump “historic” levels of rain, with up to 30 inches possible in eastern and southern Puerto Rico.

“The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

“I urge people to stay in their homes,” said William Miranda Torres, mayor of the northern town of Caguas, where at least one large landslide was reported, with water rushing down a big slab of broken asphalt and into a gully.

The storm also washed away a bridge in the central mountain town of Utuado that police say was installed by the National Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017.

Fiona was centered 10 miles west of Mayaguez with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It was moving to the northwest at 9 mph.

Fiona struck on the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which hit Puerto Rico 33 years ago as a Category 3 storm.

The storm’s clouds covered the entire island and tropical storm-force winds extended as far as 140 miles from Fiona’s center.

U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in the U.S. territory as the eye of the storm approached the island’s southwest corner.

Luma, the company that operates power transmission and distribution, said bad weather, including winds of 80 mph, had disrupted transmission lines, leading to “a blackout on all the island.”

“Current weather conditions are extremely dangerous and are hindering out capacity to evaluate the complete situation,” it said, adding that it could take several days to fully restore power.

Health centers were running on generators — and some of those had failed. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews were working to repair generators as soon as possible at the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Fiona hit just two days before the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a devastating Category 4 storm that struck on Sept. 20, 2017, destroying the island’s power grid and causing nearly 3,000 deaths.

More than 3,000 homes still have only a blue tarp as a roof, and infrastructure remains weak.

“I think all of us Puerto Ricans who lived through Maria have that post-traumatic stress of, ‘What is going to happen, how long is it going to last and what needs might we face?'” said Danny Hernández, who works in the capital of San Juan but planned to weather the storm with his parents and family in the western town of Mayaguez.

He said the atmosphere was gloomy at the supermarket as he and others stocked up before the storm hit.

“After Maria, we all experienced scarcity to some extent,” he said.

The storm was forecast to pummel cities and towns along Puerto Rico’s southern coast that have not yet fully recovered from a string of strong earthquakes starting in late 2019.

Officials reported several road closures across the island as trees and small landslides blocked access.

More than 780 people with some 80 pets had sought shelter across the island by Saturday night, the majority of them in the southern coast.

Puerto Rico’s power grid was razed by Hurricane Maria and remains frail, with reconstruction starting only recently. Outages are a daily occurrence.

In the southwest town of El Combate, hotel co-owner Tomás Rivera said he was prepared but worried about the “enormous” amount of rain he expected. He noted that a nearby wildlife refuge was eerily quiet.

“There are thousands of birds here, and they are nowhere to be seen,” he said. “Even the birds have realized what is coming, and they’re preparing.”

Rivera said his employees brought bedridden family members to the hotel, where he has stocked up on diesel, gasoline, food, water and ice, given how slowly the government responded after Hurricane Maria.

“What we’ve done is prepared ourselves to depend as little as possible on the central government,” he said.

It’s a sentiment shared by 70-year-old Ana Córdova, who arrived Saturday at a shelter in the north coastal town of Loiza after buying loads of food and water.

“I don’t trust them,” she said, referring to the government. “I lost trust after what happened after Hurricane Maria.”

Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, activated the National Guard as the Atlantic hurricane season’s sixth named storm approached.

“What worries me most is the rain,” said forecaster Ernesto Morales with the National Weather Service in San Juan.

Fiona was predicted to drop 12 to 16 inches of rain over eastern and southern Puerto Rico, with as much as 25 inches in isolated spots. Morales noted that Hurricane Maria in 2017 had unleashed 40 inches.

Pierluisi announced Sunday that public schools and government agencies would remain closed on Monday.

Fiona was forecast to swipe the Dominican Republic on Monday and then northern Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands with the threat of heavy rain. It could threaten the far southern end of the Bahamas on Tuesday.

A hurricane warning was posted for the Dominican Republic’s eastern coast from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo.

Fiona previously battered the eastern Caribbean, killing one man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods washed his home away, officials said. The storm also damaged roads, uprooted trees and destroyed at least one bridge.

St. Kitts and Nevis also reported flooding and downed trees, but announced its international airport would reopen on Sunday afternoon. Dozens of customers were still without power or water, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

In the eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Madeline was forecast to cause heavy rains and flooding across parts of southwestern Mexico. The storm was centered about 155 miles south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes Sunday morning, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph.

 Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Hurricane Fiona Rips Through Powerless Puerto Rico

U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in the U.S. territory as the eye of the storm approached the island’s southwest corner.

Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico’s southwest coast on Sunday as it unleashed landslides, knocked the power grid out and ripped up asphalt from roads and flung the pieces around.

Forecasters said the storm would cause massive flooding and threatened to dump “historic” levels of rain, with up to 30 inches possible in eastern and southern Puerto Rico.

“The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

“I urge people to stay in their homes,” said William Miranda Torres, mayor of the northern town of Caguas, where at least one large landslide was reported, with water rushing down a big slab of broken asphalt and into a gully.

The storm also washed away a bridge in the central mountain town of Utuado that police say was installed by the National Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017.

Fiona was centered 10 miles west of Mayaguez with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It was moving to the northwest at 9 mph.

Fiona struck on the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which hit Puerto Rico 33 years ago as a Category 3 storm.

The storm’s clouds covered the entire island and tropical storm-force winds extended as far as 140 miles from Fiona’s center.

U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in the U.S. territory as the eye of the storm approached the island’s southwest corner.

Luma, the company that operates power transmission and distribution, said bad weather, including winds of 80 mph, had disrupted transmission lines, leading to “a blackout on all the island.”

“Current weather conditions are extremely dangerous and are hindering out capacity to evaluate the complete situation,” it said, adding that it could take several days to fully restore power.

Health centers were running on generators — and some of those had failed. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews were working to repair generators as soon as possible at the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Fiona hit just two days before the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a devastating Category 4 storm that struck on Sept. 20, 2017, destroying the island’s power grid and causing nearly 3,000 deaths.

More than 3,000 homes still have only a blue tarp as a roof, and infrastructure remains weak.

“I think all of us Puerto Ricans who lived through Maria have that post-traumatic stress of, ‘What is going to happen, how long is it going to last and what needs might we face?'” said Danny Hernández, who works in the capital of San Juan but planned to weather the storm with his parents and family in the western town of Mayaguez.

He said the atmosphere was gloomy at the supermarket as he and others stocked up before the storm hit.

“After Maria, we all experienced scarcity to some extent,” he said.

The storm was forecast to pummel cities and towns along Puerto Rico’s southern coast that have not yet fully recovered from a string of strong earthquakes starting in late 2019.

Officials reported several road closures across the island as trees and small landslides blocked access.

More than 780 people with some 80 pets had sought shelter across the island by Saturday night, the majority of them in the southern coast.

Puerto Rico’s power grid was razed by Hurricane Maria and remains frail, with reconstruction starting only recently. Outages are a daily occurrence.

In the southwest town of El Combate, hotel co-owner Tomás Rivera said he was prepared but worried about the “enormous” amount of rain he expected. He noted that a nearby wildlife refuge was eerily quiet.

“There are thousands of birds here, and they are nowhere to be seen,” he said. “Even the birds have realized what is coming, and they’re preparing.”

Rivera said his employees brought bedridden family members to the hotel, where he has stocked up on diesel, gasoline, food, water and ice, given how slowly the government responded after Hurricane Maria.

“What we’ve done is prepared ourselves to depend as little as possible on the central government,” he said.

It’s a sentiment shared by 70-year-old Ana Córdova, who arrived Saturday at a shelter in the north coastal town of Loiza after buying loads of food and water.

“I don’t trust them,” she said, referring to the government. “I lost trust after what happened after Hurricane Maria.”

Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, activated the National Guard as the Atlantic hurricane season’s sixth named storm approached.

“What worries me most is the rain,” said forecaster Ernesto Morales with the National Weather Service in San Juan.

Fiona was predicted to drop 12 to 16 inches of rain over eastern and southern Puerto Rico, with as much as 25 inches in isolated spots. Morales noted that Hurricane Maria in 2017 had unleashed 40 inches.

Pierluisi announced Sunday that public schools and government agencies would remain closed on Monday.

Fiona was forecast to swipe the Dominican Republic on Monday and then northern Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands with the threat of heavy rain. It could threaten the far southern end of the Bahamas on Tuesday.

A hurricane warning was posted for the Dominican Republic’s eastern coast from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo.

Fiona previously battered the eastern Caribbean, killing one man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods washed his home away, officials said. The storm also damaged roads, uprooted trees and destroyed at least one bridge.

St. Kitts and Nevis also reported flooding and downed trees, but announced its international airport would reopen on Sunday afternoon. Dozens of customers were still without power or water, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

In the eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Madeline was forecast to cause heavy rains and flooding across parts of southwestern Mexico. The storm was centered about 155 miles south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes Sunday morning, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph.

 Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Former Senior CIA Officers Describe Their Mental Health Struggles

They discuss how they got help amid high stress jobs. The CIA’s Director of Medical Services says she sees anxiety, depression, and family problems.

Imagine you’re a Black intelligence officer in a foreign country, tasked with recruiting a person who’s profiting from slave labor; or spending your nights at the office, watching drone footage of explosions after your mother dies of cancer. 

Janaki Kates, a former senior intelligence officer at the CIA, and other former senior intelligence officers spoke with Newsy for this story. They have never shared their mental health challenges with a news organization.  

NEWSY’S SASHA INGBER: Do you think that people on the outside understand what intelligence officers go through?  

JANAKI KATES: No, I don’t. I don’t believe that people on the outside can fully comprehend what intelligence officers go through. I was one of the few minority females, and female leaders at the agency. I, because of the stigma around mental health, really felt like I didn’t want to admit that I needed help. 

Kates had worked in a war zone, but says another battle began after her second son was born. 

KATES: Suddenly I woke up after his first birthday and realized, why do I still cry every day coming into work? And why do I still have these thoughts of like, he’s going to get really sick, or something really terrible is going to happen? 

She was later diagnosed with anxiety and delayed postpartum depression.  

For Douglas Wise, also a former senior intelligence officer for the CIA, the particular problem was alcohol. 

DOUGLAS WISE: They could smell it on me when I came to work in the morning. So the first time I knew was when, literally, it was an intervention by my colleagues and by my supervisor and literally called me into the office and said, ‘you have a serious problem and you need to do something about it.'” 

INGBER: Are there a lot of intelligence officers who seek out your advice and want to learn about your experience? 

WISE: I would say I probably get a call about every month, every other month.  

Intelligence officers aren’t allowed to share classified information with a therapist outside of their agencies, and some worry that speaking candidly with a therapist on the inside may hurt their careers. 

“In a place to keep secrets, there are no secrets when it comes to your personnel file,” said Brian Scott, another former senior intelligence officer for the CIA.  

Scott calls it a “hallway file.”

“If a manager needs to understand what kind of a person he or she is getting in their field office,  or if a promotion board wants to make sure before they elevate someone to a senior rank,  issues that should be handled with confidentiality and only between that officer and his or her mental health support system will be made available to those assignment and/or promotion boards,” said Scott. “And once one person knows, it’s not a secret anymore.”

We sat down with the CIA’s director of medical services, who asked that Newsy conceal her appearance and just use her first name, Victoria.  

VICTORIA: We are not immune to life. Life happens to our folks just like everybody else. And so we do see anxiety and depression in our workforce. We also see marital issues and family problems and family stressors. And again, sometimes this is related to what we’re asking our officers to do, to move around, to serve in different parts of the world, to be away from their families for long periods of time.

INGBER: Some intelligence officers say that they fear seeking any kind of mental health support because they’re scared that it’s going to jeopardize their career. Is there any truth to that?  

VICTORIA: We definitely heard that. And we very much are trying to address it. I would say what’s most likely to jeopardize someone’s career is if they have an issue and they don’t seek out support and it gets worse and worse and worse and then starts to impact their reliability, their judgment and their stability. 

She says the stigma around mental health issues has been slowly lifting. 

VICTORIA: Senior leaders share their own experiences, both with mental health struggles and with seeking help from our employee assistance program or other resources. And that is really setting the culture and setting the tone that, yes, you can have a problem, address the problem, and still very much succeed in your career.

Kates first saw an agency therapist, then got a recommendation for a professional outside.  

INGBER: And what kind of help worked for you?  

KATES: I had been trained for so long to keep this facade of “nothing is wrong.” My therapist was able to help me latch onto my logical brain and think through, ‘why am I feeling this? Where is this coming from?'”   

Wise says he went through a 30-day treatment program, followed by two years of counseling and another year of monitoring. He says what really helped him was never feeling judged. 

“They’re not judgmental,” said Wise. “They’re not assessing whether you’re a good person or a bad person. You are just a person with the disease of alcoholism. The combination of the agency’s rehabilitative program and the loving support of my wife, you know, allows me to do this interview today. You’d be talking to me, you know, in front of a gravestone in Arlington is what you’d be doing.”

Eventually, he was able to return to every part of his job. 

“I ended up as the number two in a national intelligence agency of the most powerful nation in the history of the human race. That says a lot about the intelligence community. And yes, it says a little bit about me, too,” said Wise.  

Newsy’s mental health initiative “America’s Breakdown: Confronting Our Mental Health Crisis” brings you deeply personal and thoughtfully told stories on the state of mental health care in the U.S. Click here to learn more.

Source: newsy.com

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West Virginia Legislature Passes Abortion Ban With Few Exceptions

By Associated Press
September 14, 2022

The legislation would allow victims of rape and incest to obtain abortions at up to eight weeks of pregnancy, if they report to law enforcement first.

West Virginia’s Legislature passed a sweeping abortion ban with few exceptions Tuesday, approving a bill that several members of the Republican supermajority said they hope will make it impossible for the state’s only abortion clinic to continue to offer the procedure.

“It is going to shut down that abortion clinic, of that I feel certain,” Republican Sen. Robert Karnes said on the Senate floor, amid shouts from protesters standing outside the chamber doors. “I believe it’s going to save a lot of babies.”

Under the legislation, rape and incest victims would be able to obtain abortions at up to eight weeks of pregnancy, but only if they report to law enforcement first. Such victims who are minors would have until 14 weeks to terminate a pregnancy and must report to either law enforcement or a physician.

Rape and incest victims would have to report the assault within 48 hours of getting an abortion, and a patient must present a copy of a police report or notarized letter to a physician before the procedure can be performed.

Abortions also would be allowed in cases of medical emergencies.

West Virginia joins the ranks of states moving to ban abortion in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to end the constitutional right to privacy that protected abortion rights nationwide. That left it to states to decide whether abortion should remain legal, which in turn has ignited intense state-level debates, especially in states controlled by Republicans, about when to impose the ban, whether to carve out exceptions in cases involving rape, incest or the health of the woman giving birth, and how those exceptions should be implemented.

The West Virginia bill now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Jim Justice, who has signed several anti-abortion bills into law since taking office in 2017. Lawmakers resumed debate on the bill Tuesday after failing to come to an agreement in late July, giving up the chance for the state to become the first to approve new legislation restricting access to abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June removing its protected status as a constitutional right.

Both the Senate and the House of Delegates speedily approved the bill, after several hours of debate. Dozens of protesters wearing pink shirts reading “bans off our bodies” and holding signs reading “abortion is healthcare” staged a rally in the Capitol rotunda while lawmakers were in session.

Some of the group sat in the gallery as legislators discussed the bills, with some shouting down to legislators in frustration as they spoke in support of the bill. Legislative leadership asked that the onlookers remain silent as lawmakers conducted business. At one point, at least one protester was escorted out of the building by police. 

Lawmakers inserted several provisions they said were specifically targeted at the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, which was the state’s first abortion clinic when it opened in 1976 following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade case. It has existed as the state’s sole abortion clinic for years, making it the ever-increasing target of anti-abortion lawmakers and protesters.

The bill states that surgical abortions can only be performed at a state-licensed hospital by a physician with hospital privileges. Anybody else who performs an abortion, including nurse practitioners and other medical professionals, could face three to 10 years in prison. A physician who performs an illegal abortion could lose their medical license.

Pregnant people who obtain illegal abortions will not face any form of prosecution under the bill, however.

Kaylen Barker, spokesperson for the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, said the clinic will not be shutting down, even if the staff is no longer able to provide abortions. Like many clinics that perform abortions, the facility did not offer the procedure daily.

Most days are dedicated to services like gender-affirming hormone therapy, HIV prevention and treatment and routine gynecological care — cervical exams, cancer screenings — mostly for low-income patients on Medicaid with nowhere else to go.

Democratic Sen. Owens Brown, West Virginia’s only Black senator, spoke against the bill before it passed the Senate. He said when he looks around at his fellow lawmakers, he sees a body that is overwhelmingly comprised of white, middle-aged to elderly men who are middle-class or above.

Brown compared groups of men passing legislation that overwhelmingly impacts women to laws that were passed by white lawmakers when slavery was legal in the U.S. He said “all laws are not good laws made by men.”

“That’s somewhat irrational in many ways to be able to apply a law that will never apply to you,” he said to his fellow lawmakers. “It’s easy for you to sit there and do that because you will never have to face the consequences of your actions.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Curbing People With Mental Health Away From Jail

Newsy takes an inside look at Miami-Dade’s Mental Health Program, and how it helps people get treatment, and avoid jail.

Behind the barbed wire of jails and prisons across the country people with mental illnesses are incarcerated. But behind the doors at this courthouse in Miami is a decades long effort to divert people with serious mental illnesses away from the criminal justice system.  

“We’re not gonna let you down. Keep it up, keep taking it one day at a time,” said Judge Javier Enriquez.

The 11th Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project lessens the cycle of incarceration for people experiencing serious mental illness and substance use disorders. It links treatment and support programs to people who commit less serious crimes. 

Julie Reed is a program graduate, and now a peer specialist for the program.  

She’s often outdoors talking to people, keeping them engaged and offering support. 

“I’m helping people and I’m giving back to the community,” said Reed.  

When she was a teen she tried to take her life and was introduced to the mental health system. Years later she became a widow and she believes untreated trauma fed her mental health issues. She says  she eventually started self medicating.

“I’ve had many different diagnoses. I would probably lean more towards like bipolar disorder. It was just really hard to access help and I was uninsured,” she said. “I was a single mom and trying to work full time trying to juggle my two kids and it just was a lot and I just started breaking down. I wound up going through the criminal justice system and fortunately that’s where I got my help.” 

She was ready for change and said the program provided support and links to services. 

NEWSY’S HALEY BULL: When you look at this photo here, your story being displayed, what goes through your head?

JULIE REED: I’ve come a long way and I’m just glad I had the support of my family. If you see in my story “Julie’s Story” it’s a lot of my family because they were the ones that were really there for me and helped me get through. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them. And the team here at JDP helped out a lot. I feel good and hopeful of my future. It’s been 12 years in recovery clean and sober, no going back to jail, no going back to the hospitals.

The program goes back more than two decades. 

Judge Steve Leifman has helped turn Miami-Dade County into a national leader in criminal justice reform by changing the way people with serious mental illnesses are treated in the criminal justice system. 

“We wouldn’t treat people with cancer or heart diseases this way; we shouldn’t be treating with mental health illness this way,” said Leifman.  

He is a former assistant public defender who became a passionate advocate as a judge. In his courtroom he saw the holes in the system that led to a commitment for change.  

“Our recidivism rate in our felony and misdemeanor went from about 75% now to about 20 to 25%,” he said.  

But there are still more he hopes to reach. The Miami Center for Mental Health and Recovery plans to become an extension of the program later this year, a one-stop shop for the mentally ill cycling through the system. 

BULL: Is this a first of its kind facility in the country? 

STEVE LEIFMAN: It’s the first of its kind in the United States and possibly in the world.  

It will include everything from a crisis stabilization unit, residential treatment, courtroom to health care, tattoo removal and a culinary support employment program. 

The details, down to the lack of linoleum, are carefully designed to be more welcoming. 

“It will give us a full continuum of all the services we already have that were lacking and every other community lacks. And that’s the problem. There’s no capacity in the United States for the most acutely ill,” said Leifman. 

The American Psychiatric Association Foundation partnered with others on the “Stepping Up Initiative” to help support counties in reducing mental illness in the justice system. Rawle Andrews Jr. is the executive director of the APA Foundation.  

“Over two million people a year get caught up in our criminal justice system annually and those two million people suffer from serious mental illness that need help but what we’ve given them is a jail cell,” said Andrews. “What we’re hoping and what we’re backing is that this 988 system that just went into place last month almost 30 days in, that the diversion and deflection that we need away from incarceration to some real access to care will happen.” 

Back in Miami-Dade, Commissioner Sally Heyman says they’ve come a long way. 

“Now you have people focused on their care in custody, till they can determine what needs to be done. So, you know, it’s not just one thing with the diversion. It’s ‘what are we doing?’ Before we get them in a car,” said Heyman. 

While there’s more work to do yet Julie shares this, “to never give up to keep continuing to look for help even if you’ve had doors shut on you. To keep looking, you’re not alone.”   

Newsy’s mental health initiative “America’s Breakdown: Confronting Our Mental Health Crisis” brings you deeply personal and thoughtfully told stories on the state of mental health care in the U.S. Click here to learn more. 

Source: newsy.com

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In A Nod To JFK, President Biden Pushing ‘Moonshot’ To Fight Cancer

The president is seeking to rally the nation around developing treatments and therapeutics for the pervasive diseases.

President Joe Biden is set to channel John F. Kennedy on the 60th anniversary of the former president’s moonshot speech, as the incumbent tries to set the nation’s sights on “ending cancer as we know it.”

President Biden was traveling to Boston on Monday to highlight a new federally backed study that seeks to validate using blood tests to screen against multiple cancers — a potential game-changer in diagnostic testing to dramatically improve early detection of cancers. He also planned other announcements meant to better the lives of those suffering from cancer.

His speech at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum comes as President Biden seeks to rally the nation around developing treatments and therapeutics for the pervasive diseases that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks as the second-highest killer of people in the U.S. after heart disease. President Biden hopes to move the U.S. closer to the goal he set in February of cutting U.S. cancer fatalities by 50% over the next 25 years and to dramatically improve the lives of caregivers and those suffering from cancer.

Danielle Carnival, the White House cancer moonshot coordinator, told The Associated Press that the administration sees huge potential in the commencement of the blood diagnostic study on identifying and treating cancers.

“One of the most promising technologies has been the development of blood tests that offer the promise of detecting multiple cancers in a single blood test and really imagining the impact that could have on our ability to detect cancer early and in a more equitable way,” Carnival said. “We think the best way to get us to the place where those are realized is to really test out the technologies we have today and see what works and what really has an impact on extending lives.”

In 2022, the American Cancer Society estimates, 1.9 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed and 609,360 people will die of cancer diseases.

The issue is personal to President Biden, who lost his adult son Beau in 2015 to brain cancer. After Beau’s death, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which dedicated $1.8 billion over seven years for cancer research and was signed into law in 2016 by President Barack Obama.

Obama designated President Biden, then vice president, to run “mission control” on directing the cancer funds as a recognition of President Biden’s grief as a parent and desire to do something about it. President Biden wrote in his memoir “Promise Me, Dad” that he chose not to run for president in 2016 primarily because of Beau’s death.

Despite President Biden’s attempts to hark back to Kennedy and his space program, the current initiative lacks that same level of budgetary support. The Apollo program garnered massive public investment — more than $20 billion, or more than $220 billion in 2022 dollars adjusted for inflation. President Biden’s “moonshot” effort is far more modest and reliant on private sector investment.

Still, President Biden has tried to maintain momentum for investments in public health research, including championing the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, modeled after similar research and development initiatives benefiting the Pentagon and intelligence community.

On Monday, President Biden will announce Dr. Renee Wegrzyn as the inaugural director of ARPA-H, which has been given the task of studying treatments and potential cures for cancers, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and other diseases. He will also announce a new National Cancer Institute scholars’ program to provide resources to early-career scientists studying treatments and cures for cancer.

Experts agree it’s far too early to say whether these new blood tests for finding cancer in healthy people will have any effect on cancer deaths. There have been no studies to show they reduce the risk of dying from cancer. Still, they say setting an ambitious goal is important.

Carnival said the National Cancer Institute Study was designed so that any promising diagnostic results could be swiftly put into widespread practice while the longer-term study — expected to last up to a decade — progresses. She said the goal was to move closer to a future where cancers could be detected through routine bloodwork, potentially replacing more invasive and burdensome procedures like colonoscopies, and therefore saving lives.

Scientists now understand that cancer is not a single disease, but hundreds of diseases that respond differently to different treatments. Some cancers have biomarkers that can be targeted by existing drugs that will slow a tumor’s growth. Many more targets await discovery.

“How do we learn what therapies are effective in which subtypes of disease? That to me is oceanic,” said Donald A. Berry, a biostatistician at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. “The possibilities are enormous. The challenges are enormous.”

Despite the challenges, he’s optimistic about cutting the cancer death rate in half over the next 25 years.

“We can get to that 50% goal by slowing the disease sufficiently across the various cancers without curing anybody,” Berry said. “If I were to bet on whether we will achieve this 50% reduction, I would bet yes.

Even without new breakthroughs, progress can be made by making care more equitable, said Dr. Crystal Denlinger, chief scientific officer for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a group of elite cancer centers.

And any effort to reduce the cancer death rate will need to focus on the biggest cancer killer, which is lung cancer. Mostly attributable to smoking, lung cancer now causes more cancer deaths than any other cancer. Of the 1,670 daily cancer deaths in the United States, more than 350 are from lung cancer.

Lung cancer screening is helping. The American Cancer Society says such screening helped drive down the cancer death rate 32% from its peak in 1991 to 2019, the most recent year for which numbers are available.

But only 5% of eligible patients are being screened for lung cancer.

“It’s tragic,” said Dr. Roy Herbst, a lung specialist at Yale Cancer Center.

“The moonshot is going to have to be a social fix as well as a scientific and medical fix,” Herbst said. “We’re going to have to find a way that screening becomes easier, that it’s fully covered, that we have more screening facilities.”

President Biden planned to urge Americans who might have delayed cancer screenings during the pandemic to seek them out swiftly, reminding them that early detection can be key to avoiding adverse outcomes.

He was also set to highlight provisions in the Democrats’ health care and climate change bill that the administration believes will lower out of pocket drug prices for some widely used cancer treatments. He will also celebrate new guarantees for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, that cover their potential cancer diagnoses.

Dr. Michael Hassett of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, said President Biden’s goal to reduce cancer deaths could be met by following two parallel paths: one of discovery and the other making sure as many people as possible are reaping the advantages of existing therapies and preventive approaches.

“If we can address both aspects, both challenges, major advances are possible,” Hassett said.

In breast cancer, for example, many women who could benefit from a hormone-blocking pill either never start the therapy or stop taking it before the recommended five years, Hassett’s research has found.

“Those are big gaps,” Hassett said. “That’s a treatment that’s effective. But if many people aren’t taking that medication or if they’re taking it but stopping it before concluding the course of therapy, then the benefits that the medicine could offer aren’t realized.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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