UAE woman Munira Abdulla wakes up after 27 years in a coma – BBC News

A woman from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who was seriously injured in a traffic accident in 1991 has made a seemingly miraculous recovery after emerging from a 27-year-long coma.

Munira Abdulla, who was aged 32 at the time of the accident, suffered a severe brain injury after the car she was travelling in collided with a bus on the way to pick up her son from school.

Omar Webair, who was then just four years old, was sitting in the back of the vehicle with her, but was left unscathed as his mother cradled him in her arms moments before the accident.

Ms Abdulla – who was being driven by her brother-in-law – was left seriously injured, but last year regained consciousness in a German hospital.

Omar has opened up about the accident and about his mother’s progress following years of treatment in an interview with the UAE-based newspaper The National.

‘She hugged me to protect me’

“I never gave up on her because I always had a feeling that one day she would wake up,” Omar told the newspaper on Monday.

“The reason I shared her story is to tell people not to lose hope on their loved ones; don’t consider them dead when they are in such a state,” he added.

“My mother was sitting with me in the back seat. When she saw the crash coming, she hugged me to protect me from the blow.”

He was unharmed, suffering just a bruise to the head, but his mother was left untreated for hours.

Years of treatment

Ms Abdulla was eventually taken to hospital, and later transferred to London. There, she was declared to be in a vegetative state – unresponsive, but able to sense pain – The National reports.

She was then returned to Al Ain, a city in the UAE on the border with Oman where she lived, and moved to various medical facilities according to insurance requirements.

She remained there for a few years, fed through a tube and kept alive. She underwent physiotherapy to ensure her muscles would not weaken through lack of movement.

In 2017, the family was offered a grant by the Crown Prince Court, a government body in Abu Dhabi, for Ms Abdulla to be transferred to Germany.

There, she underwent a number of surgeries to correct her severely shortened arm and leg muscles, and she was given medication to improve her state, including her wakefulness.

Hospital row

A year later, her son was involved in an argument in her hospital room, which seemed to prompt his mother to stir.

“There was a misunderstanding in the hospital room and she sensed I was at risk, which caused her a shock,” Omar said.

“She was making strange sounds and I kept calling the doctors to examine her, they said everything was normal.

“Then, three days later, I woke up to the sound of someone calling my name.

“It was her! She was calling my name, I was flying with joy; for years I have dreamt of this moment, and my name was the first word she said.”

She became more responsive, and can now feel pain and have some conversations.

She has returned to Abu Dhabi, where she is undergoing physiotherapy and further rehabilitation – mainly to improve her posture when sitting and prevent muscles from contracting.

Cases like Abdulla’s are rare

There are only a few cases of people recovering consciousness after several years – and even then, recovery can be protracted.

It is impossible to predict the chances of someone in a state of impaired consciousness improving, says the UK’s National Health Service.

People who do regain consciousness often have severe disabilities caused by damage to their brain.

One notable recovery case is that of Terry Wallis, an American man who was involved in a car accident when he was 19, and made a dramatic recovery after spending 19 years in a near-vegetative state. It was thought he had been able to re-grow brain tissue.

Former Formula 1 racing world champion Michael Schumacher suffered a head injury in a skiing accident in France in 2013. He was placed in a medically induced coma for six months before being transferred to his home in Switzerland to continue his treatment.

  • Michael Schumacher: Coma challenges

Source: bbc.com

Arya vs. the Night King: will Arya steal the face of a White Walker? – Vox.com

We learned in the second episode of Game of Thrones’ eighth season that Arya Stark is prepared to die in the upcoming battle against the Night King and his White Walkers. Knowing Arya, she’s likely planning to go down fighting — the only real question is how many White Walkers she’ll take down with her.

But another question is just how Arya will attack. We know that thanks to Gendry, she’s got a fun new double-sided spear made of dragonglass, in addition to her snazzy Valyrian steel dagger.

But what if she’s got another, seriously hardcore tool in her arsenal?

Namely: What if Arya brushes off the skills she learned from the Faceless Men and puts them to good use — by stealing the face of a White Walker in order to get to the Night King?

In the second episode of season eight, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” we see Arya checking in on Gendry to inquire about her special spear — and interrogating him about the White Walkers, with some interestingly specific questions about his experience with them.

“What do they look like?” she asks. “What do they smell like, how do they move, how hard are they to kill?”

Sure, these could be your generic “know your opponent” sorts of queries. But asking for details like how the White Walkers look, move, and even smell suggests that Arya is thinking about them not as prey to be hunted, but as an enemy to be infiltrated. And who better than Arya to do so? After all, she has a gift that practically no one else in Westeros has: She can steal faces.

“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” was a bit mum on the specific strategies the Winterfell army will bring to the fight, but we did get some focus on Bran’s plan to serve as bait for the Night King by parking himself and Theon’s small group of fighters in the center of the Winterfell godswood, where the big white tree with the red leaves, a.k.a. the Heart Tree, sits.

Though we didn’t see a roster of people who will accompany Bran and Theon on their special ops mission, Arya was prominently shown to be participating in that conversation, and it makes sense that she’d want to go after the Night King directly. We’ve been reminded over and over that the Night King essentially embodies death itself — Bran explains in this episode that the Night King’s goal is to wipe out all human memory and existence. And Gendry describes him as death to Arya — to which her response is that death has many faces. She would certainly know, having worn so many of them herself.

Moreover, let’s not forget how closely Arya herself is associated with death. In Game of Thrones’ first season, her swordfighting teacher Syrio taught her to always have a response to the god of death; in season three, Arya announced that death was the only god she recognized, after which the Faceless Man, Jaqen H’ghar, invited her to come train as an assassin to serve “the many-faced god,” a.k.a. death. After all this, she’s in a prime position to confront him one on one. And what better way to do this than by allowing Bran to distract the Night King while she steals the face of one of his White Walkers and then takes him out herself? And beside the Heart Tree, no less, a tree that has many faces literally preserved in its trunk.

(We should also note that a popular fan theory stemming from the season eight trailer, which contains a scene where Arya is running terrified through the castle at Winterfell, suggests that it shows her being pursued by the Night King himself.)

And while we’re indulging our fantasies, we’ll just leave you with a final image. As Arya takes out the Night King with a strategic spear jab or two, she can remind him of what she’s always said to the god of death: Not today!

Source: vox.com

Take a breath, Democrats. And keep your options open. – The Washington Post

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Source: washingtonpost.com

Feds criminally charge pharma distributor for role in opioid epidemic – Vox.com

The federal government on Tuesday charged a major drug distributor — for the first time — for its role in perpetuating the country’s deadly opioid epidemic.

Rochester Drug Cooperative faces charges for conspiring to distribute drugs and defrauding the federal government — after the company didn’t report thousands of suspicious orders of opioids, including oxycodone and fentanyl. Rochester is the sixth-largest distributor in the US, according to the New York Times.

The company, which as a distributor essentially links opioid makers and pharmacies, effectively admitted to committing the crimes it’s accused of in court on Tuesday.

“We made mistakes,” Jeff Eller, a Rochester spokesperson, said in a statement, according to the Times, “and RDC understands that these mistakes, directed by former management, have serious consequences.”

Separately, former chief executive Laurence Doud and former chief of compliance William Pietruszewski were reportedly charged, the Times reported.

According to the Times, the Drug Enforcement Administration investigated Rochester for two years, after the company violated terms of a previous civil settlement over opioids.

This is not the first time a drug distributor has faced serious legal consequences from the opioid crisis, with companies like Cardinal Health, CVS, McKesson, and Walgreens paying tens of millions of dollars in fines related to the opioid epidemic in recent years. But this is the first time a distributor has faced federal criminal charges, similar to those filed against illicit drug dealers and traffickers.

The news of the charges comes as opioid makers and distributors face increasing legal consequences — in the forms of lawsuits, fines, and charges — for their involvement in today’s drug overdose crisis, which is the deadliest in US history.

Hundreds of lawsuits have now been filed against the companies. Several states are suing individually, and Oklahoma recently landed a legal settlement. A separate collection of about 1,600 lawsuits, largely from various levels of government, has been consolidated by a federal judge in Cleveland in an attempt to reach a landmark legal resolution to the opioid epidemic.

Since 1999, more than 700,000 people in the US have died of drug overdoses, mostly driven by an increase in opioid-related deaths. That’s comparable to the number of people who currently live in big cities like Denver and Washington, DC. Some estimates predict that hundreds of thousands more could die in the next decade of opioid overdoses alone.

The hope of the legal action against opioid makers and producers is not just to hold them accountable, which alone could help deter drug companies from misbehaving in the future, but also to get funds — whether through fines or other legal payouts — that could be used to pay for addiction treatment. Addiction treatment is notoriously underfunded in the US, with experts in recent years calling on the federal government to invest tens of billions of dollars in building up treatment infrastructure. (For reference, a 2017 study from the White House Council of Economic Advisers linked a year of the opioid crisis to $500 billion in economic losses.)

Since companies like Rochester helped cause the opioid crisis, advocates argue that they should help pay for the consequences of the epidemic.

The opioid epidemic can be understood in three waves. In the first wave, starting in the late 1990s and early 2000s, doctors prescribed a lot of opioid painkillers. That caused the drugs to proliferate to widespread misuse and addiction — among not just patients but also friends and family of patients, teens who took the drugs from their parents’ medicine cabinets, and people who bought excess pills from the black market.

A second wave of drug overdoses took off in the 2000s when heroin flooded the illicit market, as drug dealers and traffickers took advantage of a new population of people who used opioids but either lost access to painkillers or simply sought a better, cheaper high. And in recent years, the US has seen a third wave, as illicit fentanyls offer an even more potent, cheaper — and deadlier — alternative to heroin.

It’s the first wave that really kicked off the opioid crisis — and where opioid makers and distributors come in.

Manufacturers of the drugs misleadingly marketed opioid painkillers as safe and effective, with multiple studies tying the marketing and proliferation of opioids to misuse, addiction, and overdoses. Opioid makers like Purdue Pharma, Endo, and Teva are all accused of playing a role here.

As a group of public health experts explained in the Annual Review of Public Health, the companies exaggerated the benefits and safety of their products, supported advocacy groups and “education” campaigns that encouraged widespread use of opioids, and lobbied lawmakers to loosen access to the drugs.

The result: As opioid sales grew, so did addiction and overdoses.

As opioid painkiller sales increased, more people got addicted — and died. Annual Review of Public Health

It’s not just that the drugs were deadly; they also weren’t anywhere as effective for chronic non-cancer pain as the companies claimed. There’s only very weak scientific evidence that opioid painkillers can effectively treat long-term chronic pain as patients grow tolerant of opioids’ effects — but there’s plenty of evidence that prolonged use can result in very bad complications, including a higher risk of addiction, overdose, and death. In short, the risks and downsides outweigh the benefits for most chronic pain patients.

While opioid manufacturers were the main culprits behind the marketing, distributors benefited as well — helping get the opioids out to pharmacies and consumers, making billions of dollars along the way.

Under federal law, these distributors are supposed to report suspicious orders of controlled substances, like opioids. But they often stood in the sidelines.

A previous investigation by the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia, for example, found that from 2007 to 2012, drug firms poured a total of 780 million painkillers into the state — which has a total population of about 1.8 million. Some of the numbers were even more absurd at the local level: The small town of Kermit has a population of 392, but a single pharmacy there received 9 million hydrocodone pills over two years from out-of-state drug companies.

With drug overdoses now tied to tens of thousands of deaths each year, different levels of government, as well as private groups and individuals, are now trying to hold both sides of the equation — the manufacturers and distributors — to account for the opioid crisis. That’s why Tuesday’s news of the charges against Rochester is a big deal: With criminal charges against a distributor, it shows a new step in that broader effort.

For more on the lawsuits against opioid companies, read Vox’s explainer.

Source: vox.com

More states are forcing students to study personal finance. It’s a waste of time. – The Washington Post

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Source: washingtonpost.com

‘Game Of Thrones’ Has A Daenerys Problem And There’s Only One Way To Fix It – Forbes

Daenerys is becoming more and more intolerable. Could she be breaking bad?

Credit: HBO

Game of Thrones is galloping ahead toward its final four episodes, and thankfully for fans Season 8 has been a return to form for HBO’s fantasy drama.

Season 7 left me and many others feeling worried that the show was rushing things too much, with a noticeable dip in writing quality and world-building details. But the first two episodes of this season have been great. In fact, I’d say this past Sunday’s episode, ‘A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms’, was one of the best episodes Game of Thrones has ever aired.

But there’s one character I’m struggling with still: Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains and Bender of Knees. I’m not sure if my intense dislike of Daenerys is because that’s what the show is going for, or because they’ve simply written her character into a corner. Let’s just look at how she acted in this past episode and go from there.

  • When she confronts Jaime about his intentions, she’s the most unyielding of any of the Lannister’s interrogators. At first, both she and Sansa seemed equally disdainful of Jaime’s offer to help. But Sansa’s resistance melted when Brienne vouched for him. Daenerys even invoked the killing of her father as a way to threaten Jaime, though everybody knows the Mad King had it coming. When Jaime reveals that Cersei lied and has no intention of helping, Daenerys blames Tyrion and threatens that she’ll name somebody else Hand of the Queen if he keeps screwing up, essentially shifting all the blame on to her advisers rather than taking any for herself.
  • Jorah is able to convince Dany to be nicer to Tyrion and he also convinces her to go speak with Sansa. She goes and talks with the Stark matriarch and things between them begin warming up until Sansa asks about the fate of the North should Daenerys take the Iron Throne. Dany is so perturbed by Sansa’s defiance and her peoples’ desire for self-governance, that she pulls her hand away from Sansa abruptly, a look of fury washing over her face.
  • The worst of all, however, came when Jon revealed his true identity to her. First she reacted with disbelief and suspicion over his sources–Sam and Bran–and then she realized Jon would have a better claim to the throne than her. Not once did she consider what it meant for their relationship (the whole aunt and nephew thing took a back seat to her worry over her precious Iron Throne).

Dany’s becoming increasingly intolerable to watch, though she was just as bad last season with her incessant bend the knee demands and frostiness toward everyone. In virtually every scene with Daenerys in it, I find myself liking her less and less.

Varys, Dany and Jorah

Credit: HBO

Power is what Daenerys wants and that’s really all she wants. She lusts after the Iron Throne with a hunger that is truly baffling. She’s not from Westeros, or at least she’s never really lived there her entire life. Yet she still believes that Robert was just a usurper and that her Targaryen blood entitles her to the Iron Throne and domination of all the Seven Kingdoms. Never mind her family’s history of madness, murder and tyranny. Never mind the fact that they were conquerors to begin with. And apparently never mind the whole “break the wheel” idea that once seemed to motivate her.

Now Daenerys has come to Westeros, bringing with her massive foreign armies. Unsullied mercenaries, Dothraki barbarians, even fire-breathing dragons. She is conquering a land she barely knows with an invading force that is comprised of foreign soldiers. What could go wrong?

Why does she want to be queen so badly? Is it to bring a more just era of rule to the land? Her execution of Randall and Dickon Tarly proves that she’s more concerned with utter fealty than with justice. While Jon Snow may care about the fate of the little people and doing what’s right, all Daenerys cares about is power.

Why? What will she do with this power? Will she be a good and just monarch or will she be more like her father, the Mad King? More and more I suspect that she will be a very bad queen, only interested in doing what is right only if it helps her secure the Iron Throne. I see her and the Starks increasingly at odds after the Battle of Winterfell.

In fact, given the direction they’ve taken Daenerys, I have a hard time imaging her taking the Iron Throne as a heroic figure. The only way her current arc makes any sense is if she ends up being a villain. A number of characters have already voiced their concerns with her. And while Tyrion and Jorah are devoted to her and believe that she’s a good person, Sam has a very different perspective on the matter. Will Daenerys back Jon’s much better claim to the throne when all is said and done, or will she still claim it for herself?

I suspect the latter. I suspect there will be more to Dany’s arc than we ever expected. Perhaps we’ll even get a fight scene between Dany (riding Drogon) and Jon (riding Rhaegal). Or what if she leaves Jon to die and Rhaegal rescues him?

Or maybe this is all just wishful thinking on my part. I’m still not sure what the showrunners and writers even want us to feel about Daenerys. Are they purposefully making us doubt her, only to have her come out on the side of justice and compassion in the end? Or are they building toward a breaking bad moment when all bets are off and Daenerys emerges as the final villain? Or do they not realize how unlikable she’s become. After all, we still have Davos and Tyrion and the various “miserable old shits” remarking on her goodness, and what a fine match she and Jon would be (if only they knew the truth).

Daenerys

Credit: HBO

We’ve seen bad men turn into good men in this show, after all. Jaime’s arc is the most dynamic, interesting arc in this entire show (and books). Sansa and Arya have both become stronger and, with Arya at least, a little more morally grey. But if Daenerys really does go from innocent Khaleesi to Mother of Dragons to conquering hero to wicked dragon queen, it would be quite the satisfying twist.

I’m not sure if it’s likely, and some fans would probably hate it if Daenerys broke bad and went full villain, but that’s the only logical outcome I can think of that works with the way the show has written her character. Her ruthlessness can’t just mean nothing. She’s far too power-hungry and far too cold to end up as a good person, ruling magnanimously over a peaceful land.

I think Dany is ultimately selfish and unfeeling. I’m not sure she actually ever loved Jon at all, and her affection for Ser Jorah Mormont strikes me as more utilitarian than compassionate. Dany is concerned with herself and her dragons and little more. If she doesn’t back Jon despite his superior claim to the Iron Throne, that’s all the proof I need that she is rotten to the core.

I could be wrong. We’ll know soon enough. With just four episodes remaining, there’s very little time for all this to take place and for all our many questions to be answered.

~~

Source: forbes.com

Cornyn draws a high-profile Democratic challenger for Senate reelection bid – The Washington Post

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Source: washingtonpost.com

A Bitter Finish for Slow Runners: Get on the Bus – The New York Times

MARATHON, Fla. — What would you do if you were running across a bridge and a sheriff’s deputy, exiting from a large vehicle, ordered you to stop? For Peggy Paino, who recently found herself in that unpleasant position during the Seven Mile Bridge Run in Marathon, Fla., the response was pure criminal instinct: Run away. Only it was more of a slow jog.

“I pleaded with him to let me finish the race,” Paino, 66, said of her emotional encounter with the deputy, Frank Westerband of the Monroe County sheriff’s office, about three-quarters of the way across the bridge. Sorry, not sorry, he responded, essentially.

“He said, ‘Nope, you’ve got to get on the bus,’” she recalled.

It turns out sometimes you can’t outrun the law, not when the law arrives backed up by a large yellow school bus and a mandate to round up every laggard and straggler in its path.

The race takes place every spring, when 1,500 participants run 6.8 miles across the two-lane Seven Mile Bridge about halfway along the Florida Keys. Because the bridge, part of the Overseas Highway, as Route 1 is called down here, is the only land route connecting the north and south keys, there is no flexibility in timing. The race starts at 7:30 and ends at 9 a.m., when the bridge reopens to traffic that has been backing up at each end.

nytimes.com

Biden set to announce presidential run Thursday in a video – NBC News

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By Mike Memoli and Allan Smith

Former Vice President Joe Biden will announce his presidential bid Thursday morning with an online video, two sources close to Biden with direct knowledge of the planning confirmed to NBC News.

Biden will then appear in Pittsburgh on Monday for an event at a local union hall, NBC News has learned. Biden will then embark on a tour of the four early voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — in the following weeks.

The former vice president finds himself atop of many early primary polls. The RealClearPolitics polling average has him at just above 29 percent, with Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders in second place at about 22 percent.

News that Biden is set to announce on Thursday comes after months of suspense over whether he would join the primary field, although it appeared to be all but certain in recent weeks. Even the date of his announcement video appeared to be in flux, as other outlets reported it would be released on Wednesday.

“My intention from the beginning was, if I were to run, (I) would be the last person to announce,” Biden said last last week. “We’ll find out whether I can win in a primary.”

This will be Biden’s third run for the White House. Both prior campaigns — in the 1988 and 2008 election cycles — ended well before the Democratic primary process had played out. After that 2008 bid, Barack Obama tapped Biden as his running mate, and Biden went on to serve as Obama’s vice president for eight years after a more than three-decade career in the Senate representing Delaware.

Since President Donald Trump unexpectedly won in 2016, Biden has been a sharp critic of the president’s foreign policy and political rhetoric and campaigned across the country for Democrats in the 2018 midterms. But Biden is faced with a leftward push among some of his Democratic primary competitors that he has been reluctant to join.

Biden’s lengthy record in Washington has already come under intense scrutiny ahead of his expected bid. He authored the Violence Against Women Act, helped pass an assault weapons ban and came out in favor of same-sex marriage before Obama, but he also voted in favor of authorizing the Iraq War, was a lead author of a contentious 1994 crime bill and, as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, presided over Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing to the Supreme Court — which included handling Anita Hill’s testimony that Thomas sexually harassed her, which he denied.

Then, just weeks before the anticipated launch of his campaign, Biden was criticized for what a former Democratic nominee for Nevada lieutenant governor described as unwelcome physical contact at a 2014 campaign event. Soon after, other women described similar interactions.

Responding to those statements, Biden acknowledged in an online video this month that “social norms are changing” and what he viewed as “gestures of support and encouragement” sometimes made people uncomfortable. He vowed to “be more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space.”

Source: nbcnews.com

Why a citizenship question on the census matters to all Americans – MSNBC

The Supreme Court is hearing a case about whether a citizenship question should be listed on the U.S. census. Former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Austan Goolsbee and MSNBC Legal Analyst Maya Wiley join Stephanie Ruhle and Ali Velshi to discuss why this decision matters in all realms of American life – from civil rights to your bank accounts.

Source: msnbc.com