Maryna Lialko had raised the girls alone after their father left the family, their grandmother, Nina Lialko, said.

“She was devoted to these two girls,” she said.

Kateryna was discharged this fall from Ohmadyt hospital, where she received psychiatric and physical therapy, and the girls are now in Kyiv living with their grandmother and aunt.

The aunt, Olha Lialko, said she has seen a shift in their personalities. Kateryna is increasingly turning inward; she speaks very little and struggles to maintain eye contact. Yuliia still can’t fully comprehend the loss.

“Katya is very closed; she keeps it all to herself,” Olha Lialko said. “Yuliia is missing mom a lot. She needs attention, she likes to cuddle.”

The family is trying to help the girls process their loss. And occasionally they see glimpses of the girls they knew before the war.

They dye their hair wild colors and play with makeup. They fight as only sisters can, and cling closely to each other for company.

But no one knows what will come next for them. Their life is on hold. They attend school online and have few friends in the new city. The family is unable to return home to Donetsk but unwilling to commit to staying in Kyiv.

“It will be very difficult for them to live without her,” their grandmother said. “This life has no sense at all.”

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn contributed reporting

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Saudi Arabia ‘maturer guys’ in spat with U.S., energy minister says

  • OPEC+ oil output cut led to U.S., Saudi spat
  • Saudi Arabia and U.S. “solid allies” – minister
  • Big Wall St turnout at flagship Saudi investment summit

RIYADH, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia decided to be the “maturer guys” in a spat with the United States over oil supplies, the kingdom’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Tuesday.

The decision by the OPEC+ oil producer group led by Saudi Arabia this month to cut oil output targets unleashed a war of words between the White House and Riyadh ahead of the kingdom’s Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum, which drew top U.S. business executives.

The two traditional allies’ relationship had already been strained by the Joe Biden administration’s stance on the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Yemen war, as well as Riyadh’s growing ties with China and Russia.

When asked at the FII forum how the energy relationship with the United States could be put back on track after the cuts and with the Dec. 5 deadline for the expected price-cap on Russian oil, the Saudi energy minister said: “I think we as Saudi Arabia decided to be the maturer guys and let the dice fall”.

“We keep hearing you ‘are with us or against us’, is there any room for ‘we are with the people of Saudi Arabia’?”

Saudi Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih said earlier that Riyadh and Washington will get over their “unwarranted” spat, highlighting long-standing corporate and institutional ties.

“If you look at the relationship with the people side, the corporate side, the education system, you look at our institutions working together we are very close and we will get over this recent spat that I think was unwarranted,” he said.

While noting that Saudi Arabia and the United States were “solid allies” in the long term, he highlighted the kingdom was “very strong” with Asian partners including China, which is the biggest importer of Saudi hydrocarbons.

The OPEC+ cut has raised concerns in Washington about the possibility of higher gasoline prices ahead of the November U.S. midterm elections, with the Democrats trying to retain their control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Biden pledged that “there will be consequences” for U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia after the OPEC+ move.

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the kingdom’s ambassador to Washington, said in a CNN interview that Saudi Arabia was not siding with Russia and engages with “everybody across the board”.

“And by the way, it’s okay to disagree. We’ve disagreed in the past, and we’ve agreed in the past, but the important thing is recognizing the value of this relationship,” she said.

She added that “a lot of people talk about reforming or reviewing the relationship” and said that was “a positive thing” as Saudi Arabia “is not the kingdom it was five years ago.”

FULL ATTENDENCE AT FII

Like previous years, the FII three-day forum that opened on Tuesday saw a big turnout from Wall Street, as well as other industries with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter.

JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, speaking at the gathering, voiced confidence that Saudi Arabia and the United States would safeguard their 75-year-old alliance.

“I can’t imagine any allies agreeing on everything and not having problems – they’ll work it through,” Dimon said. “I’m comfortable that folks on both sides are working through and that these countries will remain allies going forward, and hopefully help the world develop and grow properly.”

The FII is a showcase for the Saudi crown prince’s Vision 2030 development plan to wean the economy off oil by creating new industries that also generate jobs for millions of Saudis, and to lure foreign capital and talent.

No Biden administration officials were visible at the forum on Tuesday. Jared Kushner, a former senior aide to then-President Donald Trump who enjoyed good ties with Prince Mohammed, was featured as a front-row speaker.

The Saudi government invested $2 billion with a firm incorporated by Kushner after Trump left office.

FII organisers said this year’s edition attracted 7,000 delegates compared with 4,000 last year.

After its inaugural launch in 2017, the forum was marred by a Western boycott over Khashoggi’s killing by Saudi agents. It recovered the next year, attracting leaders and businesses with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia, after which the pandemic hit the world.

Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi, Hadeel Al Sayegh and Rachna Uppal in Riyadh and Nadine Awadalla, Maha El Dahan and Yousef Saba in Dubai; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous and Michael Geory; Editing by Louise Heavens, Mark Potter, Vinay Dwivedi, William Maclean

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Saudi Arabia ‘maturer guys’ in spat with U.S., says energy minister

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals!<<<<

  • OPEC+ oil output cut led to U.S., Saudi spat
  • Saudi Arabia and U.S. “solid allies” – minister
  • Big Wall St turnout at flagship Saudi investment summit

RIYADH, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia decided to be the “maturer guys” in a spat with the United States over oil supplies, the kingdom’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Tuesday.

The decision by the OPEC+ oil producer group led by Saudi Arabia this month to cut oil output targets unleashed a war of words between the White House and Riyadh ahead of the kingdom’s Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum, which drew top U.S. business executives.

The two traditional allies’ relationship had already been strained by the Joe Biden administration’s stance on the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Yemen war, as well as Riyadh’s growing ties with China and Russia.

When asked at the FII forum how the energy relationship with the United States could be put back on track after the cuts and with the Dec. 5 deadline for the expected price-cap on Russian oil, the Saudi energy minister said: “I think we as Saudi Arabia decided to be the maturer guys and let the dice fall”.

“We keep hearing you ‘are with us or against us’, is there any room for ‘we are with the people of Saudi Arabia’?”

Saudi Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih said earlier that Riyadh and Washington will get over their “unwarranted” spat, highlighting long-standing corporate and institutional ties.

“If you look at the relationship with the people side, the corporate side, the education system, you look at our institutions working together we are very close and we will get over this recent spat that I think was unwarranted,” he said.

While noting that Saudi Arabia and the United States were “solid allies” in the long term, he highlighted the kingdom was “very strong” with Asian partners including China, which is the biggest importer of Saudi hydrocarbons.

The OPEC+ cut has raised concerns in Washington about the possibility of higher gasoline prices ahead of the November U.S. midterm elections, with the Democrats trying to retain their control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Biden pledged that “there will be consequences” for U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia after the OPEC+ move.

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the kingdom’s ambassador to Washington, said in a CNN interview that Saudi Arabia was not siding with Russia and engages with “everybody across the board”.

“And by the way, it’s okay to disagree. We’ve disagreed in the past, and we’ve agreed in the past, but the important thing is recognizing the value of this relationship,” she said.

She added that “a lot of people talk about reforming or reviewing the relationship” and said that was “a positive thing” as Saudi Arabia “is not the kingdom it was five years ago.”

FULL ATTENDENCE AT FII

Like previous years, the FII three-day forum that opened on Tuesday saw a big turnout from Wall Street, as well as other industries with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter.

JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, speaking at the gathering, voiced confidence that Saudi Arabia and the United States would safeguard their 75-year-old alliance.

“I can’t imagine any allies agreeing on everything and not having problems – they’ll work it through,” Dimon said. “I’m comfortable that folks on both sides are working through and that these countries will remain allies going forward, and hopefully help the world develop and grow properly.”

The FII is a showcase for the Saudi crown prince’s Vision 2030 development plan to wean the economy off oil by creating new industries that also generate jobs for millions of Saudis, and to lure foreign capital and talent.

No Biden administration officials were visible at the forum on Tuesday. Jared Kushner, a former senior aide to then-President Donald Trump who enjoyed good ties with Prince Mohammed, was featured as a front-row speaker.

The Saudi government invested $2 billion with a firm incorporated by Kushner after Trump left office.

FII organisers said this year’s edition attracted 7,000 delegates compared with 4,000 last year.

After its inaugural launch in 2017, the forum was marred by a Western boycott over Khashoggi’s killing by Saudi agents. It recovered the next year, attracting leaders and businesses with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia, after which the pandemic hit the world.

Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi, Hadeel Al Sayegh and Rachna Uppal in Riyadh and Nadine Awadalla, Maha El Dahan and Yousef Saba in Dubai; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous and Michael Geory; Editing by Louise Heavens, Mark Potter, Vinay Dwivedi, William Maclean

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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New PM Rishi Sunak pledges to lead Britain out of economic crisis

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  • Sunak meets King Charles on Tuesday morning
  • Vows to rebuild trust in the country
  • Expected to start forming a cabinet
  • Sunak faces huge challenge to rebuild stability

LONDON, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Rishi Sunak became Britain’s third prime minister in two months on Tuesday and pledged to lead the country out of a profound economic crisis and rebuild trust in politics.

Sunak quickly reappointed Jeremy Hunt as his finance minister in a move designed to calm markets that had balked at his predecessor’s debt-fuelled economic plans.

The former hedge fund boss said he would unite the country and was expected to name a cabinet drawn from all wings of the party to end infighting and abrupt policy changes that have horrified investors and alarmed international allies.

Speaking outside his official Downing Street residence, Sunak praised the ambition of his predecessor Liz Truss to reignite economic growth but acknowledged mistakes had been made.

“I have been elected as leader of my party and your prime minister, in part to fix them,” said Sunak, who broke with the tradition of standing beside his family and cheering political supporters.

“I understand, too, that I have work to do to restore trust, after all that has happened. All I can say is that I am not daunted. I know the high office I have accepted and I hope to live up to its demands.”

Sunak said difficult decisions lay ahead as he looks to cut public spending. Hunt, who Truss appointed to calm markets roiled by her dash for growth, has been preparing a new budget alongside borrowing and growth forecasts due out on Monday, and repeated his warning on Tuesday that “it is going to be tough”.

The new prime minister also restored Dominic Raab to the post of deputy prime minister, a role he lost in Truss’s 44 days in office, but reappointed James Cleverly as foreign minister and Ben Wallace at defence.

Penny Mordaunt, who ended her bid to win a leadership contest against Sunak on Monday, also retained her position as leader of the House of Commons, a role that organises the government’s business in the lower house of parliament.

Sources had said she wanted to become foreign minister.

With his new appointments, Sunak was seen to be drawing ministers from across the Conservative Party while leaving others in post – a move that should ease concerns that Sunak might appoint loyalists rather than try to unify the party.

TOUGH DECISIONS

Sunak, one of the richest men in parliament, is expected to slash spending to plug an estimated 40 billion pound ($45 billion) hole in the public finances created by an economic slowdown, higher borrowing costs and an energy support scheme.

He will now need to review all spending, including on politically sensitive areas such as health, education, defence, welfare and pensions. But with his party’s popularity in freefall, he will face growing calls for an election if he ditches too many of the promises that the Conservatives win election in 2019.

Economists and investors have welcomed Sunak’s appointment – Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said the adults had taken charge again – but they warn he has few options to fix the country’s finances when millions are battling a cost of living crunch.

Sunak, who ran the Treasury during the COVID-19 pandemic, promised to put economic stability and confidence at the heart of the agenda. “This will mean difficult decisions to come,” he said, shortly after he accepted King Charles’s request to form a government.

Sunak also vowed to put the public’s need above politics, in recognition of the growing anger at Britain’s political class and the ideological battles that have raged ever since the historic 2016 vote to leave the European Union.

Workers heading towards London’s financial district said Sunak, at 42 Britain’s youngest prime minister for more than 200 years and its first leader of colour, appeared to be the best of a bad bunch.

“I think he was competent, and that’s really what we should hope for at the moment,” said management consultant, James Eastbook, 43.

With two prime ministers appointed in two months without a popular vote, some called for a general election now but others hoped Sunak would stay until the next scheduled election, due by January 2025.

POLITICAL MACHINATIONS

Sunak, a Goldman Sachs analyst who only entered parliament in 2015, faces a challenge ending the factional infighting that has brought his party low. Many Conservatives remain angry with him for quitting as finance minister in July and triggering a wider rebellion that ended Boris Johnson’s premiership.

Others question how a multi millionaire can lead the country when millions of people are struggling with surging food and energy bills.

“I think this decision sinks us as a party for the next election,” one Conservative lawmaker told Reuters.

Historian and political biographer Anthony Seldon said Sunak would also be constrained by the mistakes of his immediate predecessor.

“There is no leeway on him being anything other than extraordinarily conservative and cautious,” he told Reuters.

Many politicians and officials abroad, having watched as a country once seen as a pillar of economic and political stability descended into brutal infighting, welcomed Sunak’s appointment.

Sunak, a Hindu, also becomes Britain’s first prime minister of Indian origin.

U.S. President Joe Biden described it as a “groundbreaking milestone”, while leaders from India and elsewhere welcomed the news. Sunak’s billionaire father-in-law, N.R. Narayana Murthy, said he would serve the United Kingdom well.

“We are proud of him and we wish him success,” the founder of software giant Infosys said in a statement.

($1 = 0.8864 pounds)

Writing by by Kate Holton and Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Jon Boyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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China’s Communist Party Congress: What It Means for Business

The DealBook newsletter delves into a single topic or theme every weekend, providing reporting and analysis that offer a better understanding of an important issue in business. If you don’t already receive the daily newsletter, sign up here.

At a Communist Party congress starting in Beijing on Oct. 16, Xi Jinping is expected to be named to a third five-year term as the country’s top leader, paving the way for him to consolidate power to an extent not seen in decades.

Under Mr. Xi, China has become the world’s dominant manufacturer of everything from cement to solar panels, as well as the main trading partner and dominant lender for most of the developing world. It has built the world’s largest navy, developed some of the world’s most advanced ballistic missiles and constructed air bases on artificial islands strewn across the South China Sea.

in a tailspin. Its property market, which over the last ten years contributed about a quarter of the country’s economic output, is melting down. Foreign investment has faltered. And widespread lockdowns and mass quarantines, part of China’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19, have hurt consumer demand and stalled businesses.

At the same time, Mr. Xi has worked to turn China into a more state-led society that often puts national security and ideology before economic growth. He has cracked down on Chinese companies and limited their executives’ power. Some of China’s best-known entrepreneurs have left the country and others, such as Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, have largely disappeared from public view.

All of this has hurt China’s economy, which was just 0.4 percent larger from April through June than during the same period last year. The growth was far below the government’s initial target for growth of about 5.5 percent this year. For the first year since the 1990s, China’s economic growth is expected to fall below the rest of Asia’s.

at the start of the last party congress, in 2017, lasted more than three hours. But buried in that jargon are likely to be some important messages. Here’s what finance leaders and corporate executives around the world want to know.

One of Mr. Xi’s favorite economic policy initiatives in recent months has a simple, innocuous-sounding name: “common prosperity.” The big question lies in what it means.

Common prosperity, a longtime goal of the Communist Party, has been defined by Mr. Xi as reining in private capital and narrowing China’s huge disparities in wealth. Regulators and tax investigators cracked down last year on tech giants and wealthy celebrities. Beijing demanded that tycoons give back to society. And Mr. Xi has strongly discouraged speculation in housing, pushing instead for government subsidies for the construction of more rental apartments.

A regulatory crackdown on tech companies and after-school education companies contributed to a wave of layoffs that left one in five young Chinese city dwellers unemployed by August. Lending limits on China’s highly inflated housing sector have triggered a nosedive in the number of fresh construction projects being started and a wave of insolvencies among real estate developers. Many Western hedge funds that bet heavily on the real estate developers’ overseas bond issues incurred considerable losses.

The term “common prosperity” was seldom used by top officials last spring during those setbacks. But Mr. Xi conspicuously revived it during a tour of northeastern China in mid-August. The Politburo subsequently mentioned common prosperity when it announced on Aug. 30 the starting date and agenda for the party congress.

first put forward in May 2020, is a theory of what he calls “dual circulation.” The concept involves relying primarily on domestic demand and innovation to propel the Chinese economy, while maintaining foreign markets and investors as a backup engine for growth.

Mr. Xi has pushed ahead with lavish subsidies to develop Chinese manufacturers, especially of semiconductors. But the slogan has attracted considerable skepticism from foreign investors in China and from foreign governments. They worry that the policy is a recipe for replacing imports with Chinese-made goods.

China’s imports have indeed stagnated this year while its exports have soared, producing the largest trade surpluses the world has ever seen. Those surpluses, not domestic demand, have sustained China’s economic growth this year.

Chinese officials deny that they are trying to discourage imports, and contend that China remains eager to welcome foreign companies and products. When the Politburo scheduled the party congress for Oct. 16, it did not mention dual circulation, so the term might be left aside. If it goes unmentioned, that could be a conciliatory gesture as foreign investment in China is already weakening, mainly because of the country’s draconian pandemic policies.

China’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19 has prevented a lot of deaths and long-term infections, but at a high and growing cost to the economy. The question now lies in when Mr. Xi will shift to a less restrictive stance toward controlling the virus.

in Tiananmen Square, on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, when he reiterated China’s claim to Taiwan, a self-ruled island democracy. President Biden has mentioned four times that the United States is prepared to help Taiwan resist aggression. Each time his aides have walked back his comments somewhat, however, emphasizing that the United States retains a policy of “strategic ambiguity” regarding its support for the island.

Even a vague mention by Mr. Xi at the party congress of a timeline for trying to bring Taiwan under the mainland’s political control could damage financial confidence in both Taiwan and the mainland.

The most important task of the ruling elite at the congress is to confirm the party’s leadership.

Particularly important to business is who in the lineup will become the new premier. The premier leads the cabinet but not the military, which is directly under Mr. Xi. The position oversees the finance ministry, commerce ministry and other government agencies that make many crucial decisions affecting banks, insurers and other businesses. Whoever is chosen will not be announced until a separate session of the National People’s Congress next March, but the day after the congress formally ends, members of the new Politburo Standing Committee — the highest body of political power in China — will walk on a stage in order of rank. The order in which the new leadership team walks may make clear who will become premier next year.

a leading hub of entrepreneurship and foreign investment in China. Neither has given many clues about their economic thinking since taking posts in Beijing. Mr. Wang had more of a reputation for pursuing free-market policies while in Guangdong.

Mr. Hu is seen as having a stronger political base than Mr. Wang because he is still young enough, 59, to be a potential successor to Mr. Xi. That political strength could give him the clout to push back a little against Mr. Xi’s recent tendency to lean in favor of greater government and Communist Party control of the private sector.

Precisely because Mr. Hu is young enough to be a possible successor, however, many businesspeople and experts think Mr. Xi is more likely to choose Mr. Wang or a dark horse candidate who poses no potential political threat to him.

In any case, the power of the premier has diminished as Mr. Xi has created a series of Communist Party commissions to draft policies for ministries, including a commission that dictates many financial policies.

What do you think? Let us know: dealbook@nytimes.com.

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Media Advisory: Charles Schwab Bank and FHLB Dallas to Present $16K to Fort Worth Nonprofit

FORT WORTH, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Charles Schwab Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) will award $16,000 in Partnership Grant Program (PGP) funds to Housing Opportunities of Fort Worth (HOFW) during a ceremonial check presentation at the HOFW offices in Fort Worth, Texas. The media is invited to attend.

HOFW helps low- to moderate-income families access and maintain affordable homeownership. The organization works with clients one-on-one to provide homebuyer education and loan counseling.

PGP awards provide 3:1 matches of member contributions to provide grants up to $12,000 per member to help promote and strengthen relationships between Community-based organizations (CBOs) and FHLB Dallas members. The PGP also complements the development activities fostered by FHLB Dallas’ Affordable Housing and Community Investment programs.

       

 

WHAT: 

     

Check presentation for HOFW

       

 

WHEN:

     

2:30 p.m., Monday, October 3, 2022

       

 

WHO: 

     

Andrea Glispie, Senior Manager, Community Development, Charles Schwab Bank

       

David O’Brien Jr., Executive Director, HOFW

       

Melanie Dill, Community and Economic Development Product Manager, FHLB Dallas

       

 

WHERE:

     

HOFW main office

1065 West Magnolia Avenue

Fort Worth, TX, 76104

 

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U.S. Schools Will Now Carry Overdose Medication

Los Angeles public schools will stock campuses with the overdose reversal drug naloxone in the aftermath of a student’s death.

The nation’s second-largest school district will now start carrying a medication to reverse opioid overdoses.

It’s a terrifying sign of the times after seven teens overdosed, one of them dying on campus. 

“Our system has been deeply impacted by the injury to some students and the death of at least one student as a result of an unacceptable level of availability of narcotics and opioids in our community,” said Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District.  

The LA Unified School District isn’t alone. Hartford, Connecticut schools started carrying naloxone after a seventh-grader died in January.  

Schools near Vail, Colorado have also been carrying the medication as of this school year. The same goes for schools in parts of Oregon and Texas. 

All over the country, there’s a rush to stock schools with a life-saver as more young high schoolers die taking fentanyl-laced drugs. 

“They’re even packaging it in colored pills, presumably to make it attractive to a younger and younger group,” said Chief Greg Dull, at Excelsior Springs, Miss. Police Department. 

In Kansas City Sarah Manser put up a billboard trying to get parents’ attention after her son died from fentanyl poisoning. 

“He was kind, he called me mama. I miss that, you know,” said Manser. “If I can even stop one person from overdosing, I will definitely.”

In nearby Clay County, Missouri, detectives are trying desperately to stop the flow of pills into teen groups and schools. 

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my 24 years. Ever. So that’s the hard part. You know, I hate to say it but it’s almost triage, that’s the way we’re dealing with it right now,” said Michael Nelson, a detective at Clay County, Miss. Sheriffs’ Office.

The DEA is trying to raise awareness among parents and kids about dealers hawking pills on social media. 

What might just seem like illegal painkillers, are laced with fentanyl — a synthetic opioid 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. 

“Your kid could be on social media or in their bedroom, where you think they’re safe, ordering an illicit pill that’s ultimately gonna lead to an overdose and to them being killed,” said Orville Greene, a special agent in charge at the Detroit Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Agency.

In schools the education is paying off. 

Heather Guilkey is a Missouri school district administrator. 

“We would have lost one of our students,” said Guilkey.  

At a school near Kansas City, a nurse treated a students’ overdose only because a teacher knew what to look for. 

“You hear about these things; you just don’t think it will happen in your school,” said Guilkey. 

It’s proof that education works. It’s just a matter of stopping the drug’s flow. 

That’s something that’s taxing law enforcement at the southern border.

“We’re finding packages floating in gas tanks and in drive shafts, we’re getting people carrying strapped to their body. Even inside human bodies,” said Michael Humphries, the Nogales Port director for U.S. Customs And Border Protection. 

It’s frustrating law enforcement from California to Florida and everywhere in between. It’s coming down hard on the country’s kids and students who should be getting textbooks, not overdose treatments. 

Source: newsy.com

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4.4M Americans Roll Up Sleeves For Omicron-Targeted Boosters

Some Americans who got the new shots said they are excited about the idea of targeting the vaccine to the variants circulating now.

U.S. health officials say 4.4 million Americans have rolled up their sleeves for the updated COVID-19 booster shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the count Thursday as public health experts bemoaned President Joe Biden’s recent remark that “the pandemic is over.”

The White House said more than 5 million people received the new boosters by its own estimate that accounts for reporting lags in states.

Health experts said it is too early to predict whether demand would match up with the 171 million doses of the new boosters the U.S. ordered for the fall.

“No one would go looking at our flu shot uptake at this point and be like, ‘Oh, what a disaster,'” said Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “If we start to see a large uptick in cases, I think we’re going to see a lot of people getting the (new COVID) vaccine.”

A temporary shortage of Moderna vaccine caused some pharmacies to cancel appointments while encouraging people to reschedule for a Pfizer vaccine. The issue was expected to resolve as government regulators wrapped up an inspection and cleared batches of vaccine doses for distribution.

“I do expect this to pick up in the weeks ahead,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha. “We’ve been thinking and talking about this as an annual vaccine like the flu vaccine. Flu vaccine season picks up in late September and early October. We’re just getting our education campaign going. So we expect to see, despite the fact that this was a strong start, we actually expect this to ramp up stronger.”

Some Americans who plan to get the shot, designed to target the most common Omicron strains, said they are waiting because they either had COVID-19 recently or another booster. They are following public health advice to wait several months to get the full benefit of their existing virus-fighting antibodies.

Others are scheduling shots closer to holiday gatherings and winter months when respiratory viruses spread more easily.

Retired hospital chaplain Jeanie Murphy, 69, of Shawnee, Kansas, plans to get the new booster in a couple of weeks after she has some minor knee surgery. Interest is high among her neighbors from what she sees on the Nextdoor app.

“There’s quite a bit of discussion happening among people who are ready to make appointments,” Murphy said. “I found that encouraging. For every one naysayer there will be 10 or 12 people who jump in and say, ‘You’re crazy. You just need to go get the shot.'”

President Biden later acknowledged criticism of his remark about the pandemic being over and clarified the pandemic is “not where it was.” The initial comment didn’t bother Murphy. She believes the disease has entered a steady state when “we’ll get COVID shots in the fall the same as we do flu shots.”

Experts hope she’s right, but are waiting to see what levels of infection winter brings. The summer ebb in case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths may be followed by another surge, Dowdy said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, asked Thursday by a panel of biodefense experts what still keeps him up at night, noted that half of vaccinated Americans never got an initial booster dose.

“We have a vulnerability in our population that will continue to have us in a mode of potential disruption of our social order,” Fauci said. “I think that we have to do better as a nation.”

Some Americans who got the new shots said they are excited about the idea of targeting the vaccine to the variants circulating now.

“Give me all the science you can,” said Jeff Westling, 30, an attorney in Washington, D.C., who got the new booster and a flu shot on Tuesday, one in each arm. He participates in the combat sport jujitsu, so wants to protect himself from infections that may come with close contact. “I have no issue trusting folks whose job it is to look at the evidence.”

Meanwhile, President Biden’s pronouncement in a “60 Minutes” interview broadcast Sunday echoed through social media.

“We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over,” President Biden said while walking through the Detroit auto show. “If you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing.”

By Wednesday on Facebook, when a Kansas health department posted where residents could find the new booster shots, the first commenter remarked snidely:

“But Biden says the pandemic is over.”

The president’s statement, despite his attempts to clarify it, adds to public confusion, said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington.

“People aren’t sure when is the right time to get boosted. ‘Am I eligible?’ People are often confused about what the right choice is for them, even where to search for that information,” Michaud said.

“Any time you have mixed messages, it’s detrimental to the public health effort,” Michaud said. “Having the mixed messages from the president’s remarks, makes that job that much harder.”

University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi said he’s worried the president’s pronouncement has taken on a life of its own and may stall prevention efforts.

“That soundbite is there for a while now, and it’s going to spread like wildfire. And it’s going to give the impression that ‘Oh, there’s nothing more we need to do,'” Salemi said.

“If we’re happy with 400 or 500 people dying every single day from COVID, there’s a problem with that,” Salemi said. “We can absolutely do better because most of those deaths, if not all of them, are absolutely preventable with the tools that we have.”

New York City photographer Vivienne Gucwa, 44, got the new booster Monday. She’s had COVID twice, once before vaccines were available and again in May. She was vaccinated with two Moderna shots, but never got the original boosters.

“When I saw the new booster was able to tackle Omicron variant I thought, ‘I’m doing that,'” Gucwa said.

“I don’t want to deal with Omicron again. I was kind of thrilled to see the boosters were updated.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Mental Health America: Texas Ranks Last In Mental Health Care Access

Canutillo Independent School District and Kingsville Independent School District try to get a handle on mental health care for students in need.

The old saying is “everything is bigger in Texas” — including its problems. 

Mental health ranks atop.  

In the wake of the Uvalde massacre, conservative politicians are waving away talk of gun control and stressing that mental health is the real culprit. And in boastful Texas, mental health is a big problem.  

Mental Health America ranks Texas dead last in access to mental health care. The Kaiser Family Health Foundation found that Texans suffer depression at higher-than-average rates. 

In data released by the Texas Education Agency, more than half of Lone Star schools don’t have a psychologist or access to telehealth.

Texas has also opted out of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. In various studies, that amounts to tens of billions of dollars in federal funding, which could insure more than a million Texans and provide reimbursements for mental health professionals.  

Canutillo Independent School District is north of El Paso, Texas. It’s like Uvalde, with a supermajority Hispanic population and a mental health desert. It’s chief concern is access for those services for its 6,200 students 

“So, one of the things that is most important is social workers, counselors and prevention specialists working together,” social worker Rosario Olivera said.

The school district is Title I funded, meaning more than 40% of its students fall below the poverty line.

Administrators grappled with various problems across 10 schools, like how to get students access to medical care and in a pandemic, access to mental health and more counselors.

“We do the best we can do to service children of highest need,” Olivera continued. “However, it’s the same thing as with counselors. The ratio is very high.”

In Canutillo, it meant a pilot program of bringing in social workers and social work interns from the University of Texas El Paso.

“For every campus that has 350 students, you need one counselor. The majority of our campuses have 500 and above,” Canutillo Independent School District Director of Student Support Services Monica Reyes said.

Another glaring indicator in mental health access is poverty.

“This is typically what you’ll see: A mobile home with six or seven family members in it,” said Francisco Mendez with Familia Triunfadores.

In the colonias of San Elizario, access to mental health is a question of whether there are any therapists close by. But oftentimes, the answer is no. 

“It’s really difficult for them,” Mendez said. “They’ll have to drive at least 35 miles to El Paso.”  

In Kingsville, Texas, the schools have one mental health professional for more than 2,800  students.

Tracy Warren is a licensed school specialist psychologist, or LSSP. She’s an intern completing her doctorate. The challenge for Kingsville Independent School District is holding on to her and getting more people like her.

“We are trying to let everybody know how important mental health is and that if we don’t have the mental health foundation, the education is not going to take place,” Warren said. 

She is the front line. The school district leans on nonprofits to help kids outside of class. 

“There are a lot more anxious students this year than I’ve ever seen,” Warren continued. “We actually had a student that was at one of our campuses — he’s 4, going into Pre-K. First day of school, he stopped outside to count the police cars that he can see to ensure that he was safe before he came into school.”

The small school district’s leader, Superintendent Cissy Reynolds-Perez, says more mental health professionals and counselors need to be trained to work in rural schools.

“It’s very difficult because not everybody wants to come out to this area,” she said. “You know, you have your metropolitan areas, which I’m not saying it’s easier, but there are more resources there.”

At nearby Texas A&M Kingsville, the school has opened an institute for rural mental health.

Steve Bain is the director of the Rural Mental Health Institute. His goal is to create a mental health graduate student counselor pipeline direct to public schools.

“We have an opportunity now to reverse this trend of being last, or toward the last, in terms of accessibility of mental health services,” he said. “Only about 25% of students in K-12 who suffer from depression are getting mental health services. And depression has increased among our student population in the last five to eight years, significantly so.”

In Texas, licensed school specialty psychologists and social workers can be mental health caregivers to emotionally fraught kids, but there is a catch.

“Texas Education Agency has not recognized social workers as TEA employees yet, per se. We don’t have a specific job description, like teachers or counselors do,” Olivera said. 

That means school districts miss out on funding and insurance reimbursements when social workers provide mental health care for kids.

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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How Disability Misunderstandings And Stigma Impact Mental Well-Being

Disability experts say it’s common for doctors to misunderstand bodily autonomy, which can impact a person’s mental health.

CDC data shows about 26% of Americans live with a disability, whether it’s physical or mental.  

 Conditions like anxiety, spinal injury, ADHD, amputation, depression, cerebral palsy — these are just some examples.  

 Advocates say there’s a lot of misunderstanding about a person who has a disability. And that stigma not only runs deep — it can also have a huge impact on that individual’s mental health. 

Twenty-eight-year-old New Yorker Chloé Valentine Toscano knows beauty, from walking in fashion week to her Instagram reels to publishing in magazines like Allure. 

“I’m a writer. I’m someone who likes the color pink. I like butterflies. I like learning a lot about anyone and anything,” she said. “I think we all have differences, and I want to understand differences. … For me, beauty is just being open-minded,” she said.

She also has fought face-to-face with ugly mental health struggles caused by doctors who didn’t understand disability.  

“It is a journey,” Valentine Toscano said.

She lost motor function from her elbow down in 2014. She adapted and spent years living with — as she calls it — dead weight. She got into paralypmic swimming and started her career.  

Then, after years of researching and soul searching, she chose to amputate her arm. 

“I know amputation can be very traumatic because some people, a lot of people,will experience it through trauma,” she said. “But that wasn’t where I was in my case. So, it wasn’t traumatic talking about it, but it was traumatic playing a game with the yeses and the nos.”

Valentine Toscano spent three years fighting to get her procedure. She says some surgeons told her any elective amputation was too risky, even though she was healthy. Other rejections came after her surgery had been approved and scheduled. 

“The answer I got from one, he said, ‘Well, some people just need to learn to live with what they’ve got.’ That made me feel like someone else who wasn’t in my body was telling me what was better for me,” she said. “It felt very frustrating to have it and very offensive to have someone say that.”

Bodily autonomy — or the right to control what happens to your body — is a common struggle in the disability community. And disability experts say misunderstanding that is common, and can cause undue stress as well as impact a person’s mental well-being.  

In Valentine Toscano’s story, it happened a few times. 

She recounted that in one appointment: “I cried, I broke down and I felt like the minute I expressed that emotion, he sent me in for a psych evaluation, which felt like I was being punished for expressing emotion.” And then she described the examination, saying: “She was asking me, she said, ‘Do you find that you’re unattractive because of your arm and that you would be more attractive without it?’ And I was like, ‘It’s not about that at all. It’s never been about that.’ … I felt angry and belittled and just, not heard, because I was asking for one thing and being evaluated for something that wasn’t even remotely there.”

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Linda Mona has spent the past two decades working on disability and how it relates to health care.  

“If you haven’t been exposed to it personally — you have not been exposed to it through being a family friend, a lover, whoever that might be — And you’re not called to do it professionally and you don’t see it around you, you don’t think about it.”

She says, unfortunately, Valentine Toscano’s experience is all too common. Mental health experts with lived experience or expertise in disability are rare. 

“It can be quite challenging to find somebody,” Mona said. “The other thing to think about is the steps that come before that, which is that it’s very hard for people to access education if they have disability, let alone graduate school. And internship and fellowship…”

Sixty-one million U.S. adults, which is about one in 4, have some type of disability, according to the CDC.  

A 2021 anonymous survey of graduating medical students showed 7.6% identified as having a disability.  But data collected directly from medical schools show that only about 4% of medical students disclosed their disability.  

That stigma against disability —physical or mental — runs deep. 

From 1867 to 1974 U.S. cities had laws governing who could be in public. Codes included fining or jailing those deemed “diseased, maimed, mutilated, or anyway deformed.”

Mona says it’s federal bias favoring able-bodied people.

“You’re best at home. You’re best tucked away. Or, you’re best institutionalized out of the way of anybody else who is displeased with the way that you look,” she said.

She adds structural stigmas fueled misconceptions about disabled people’s decision-making about their own bodies. 

NEWSY’S LINDSEY THEIS: When we talk about bodily autonomy, what type of impact cannot have long term on someone’s mental well-being?  

LINDA MONA: Trying to bring that in and make your choices can have a huge effect on your mental health in the long run. … It also happens a lot with pregnancy and people with disabilities. Right? So, you know, somebody has some kind of cognitive mental difference or physical difference. There’s, you know, constant questioning about, you know, ‘you want to be pregnant? You know what that’s going to do to your body?’ … I don’t think anybody thinks those types of decisions are a simple decision. They’re complex. But you have to trust that somebody has made that made that decision with that context in mind and not assume that they’re uninformed.

In summer 2021, Valentine Toscano had her amputation surgery. She calls it a dream come true.  

“I just felt happy,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I got this is like a huge step in my life. It just felt like one of those, like, huge dreams. I got there. I got a huge part of my personality back immediately.”

Valentine Toscano uses a prosthetic, as needed. It’s bright pink and purple with a lot of glitter.  

“If I could have decided to have been born with an arm with butterflies and sparkles on it, like right out of the womb, I would have picked that,” she said. 

 Valentine Toscano said her prosthetic cost $13,000.

“It’s something that’s very expensive,” she said. “I was fortunate to have it covered by health insurance. But that’s not something everyone has.”

Valentine Toscano continues to advocate and write, sharing her experience now from two different sides of disability. She’s also writing a book on the side.  

She says the ability to share those stories in her voice and having others listen is not only good for her well-being, it’s truly beautiful.

Source: newsy.com

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