Los cárteles de Sinaloa y Jalisco son señalados por la DEA como una amenaza principal

Los cárteles de Sinaloa y Jalisco son señalados por la DEA como una amenaza principal

WASHINGTON, DC- La agencia antidrogas de Estados Unidos (DEA, pro sus siglas en inglés) señaló este viernes a los cárteles mexicanos de Sinaloa y de Jalisco Nueva Generación como las principales amenazas “para la salud y las comunidades” en territorio estadounidense.

En un informe de las operaciones extranjeras de la agencia, la DEA recuerda que en septiembre del año pasado creó una unidad dedicada exclusivamente a perseguir y desmantelar los esfuerzos de esas dos organizaciones “transnacionales” para traficar con “fentanilo y metanfetaminas” a EEUU.

El secuestro de cuatro estadounidenses y el asesinato de dos de ellos en el fronterizo estado mexicano de Tamaulipas a inicios de marzo ha reavivado el debate en EEUU sobre los cárteles mexicanos.

Un grupo de legisladores republicanos pidió que las organizaciones narcotraficantes sean catalogadas como grupos terroristas, una medida que el Departamento de Estado no descarta y que ha sido criticada duramente por el gobierno mexicano.

El canciller mexicano, Marcelo Ebrard, viajó incluso a Washington el 13 de marzo para reunirse con los cónsules del país en EEUU y lanzar una estrategia de comunicación para rebatir la propuesta de los congresistas del partido opositor.

El Departamento de Estado de EEUU tiene catalogados como grupos terroristas extranjeros a organizaciones como el Estado Islámico (EI), Hamás y el Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Colombia (ELN).

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Gluten-free brownie brittle recalled because it contains wheat

Gluten-free brownie brittle recalled because it contains wheat

A gluten-free Reese’s Pieces brownie brittle was recalled Thursday because it contains wheat, which contains gluten.

Second Nature Brands, which sells the “Sheila G’s Gluten Free Reese’s Pieces Brownie Brittle,” recalled the dessert snack after it was discovered that the product’s packaging didn’t say that it contained wheat, which is the main source of gluten. Severe allergic reactions to gluten can be life-threatening.

One illness has been reported because of bad labeling.

An investigation of the brownie brittle found that the gluten-free product was cross-contaminated by a co-manufacturers product that uses wheat. Production of the brownie brittle has been paused until Second Nature and the Food and Drug Administration are sure the problem has been fixed.

The brownie brittle has a universal product code of 711747011562. The two batches being recalled have the lot code “SG 1054 15/NOV/2023 1S”  or “SG 1054 15/NOV/2023 2S” printed on the back of the pouch.

Consumers are urged to throw the brownie brittle away and to email recall@browniebrittle.com or call 800-651-7623 to receive a refund.

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U.S. bishops' new guidelines aim to limit trans health care

U.S. bishops' new guidelines aim to limit trans health care

United States Catholic bishops have issued guidelines that seek to stop Catholic hospitals from providing gender transition care, a move LGBTQ advocates say could harm the physical and emotional health of transgender people within the church.

The 14-page doctrinal note, titled “Moral Limits to the Technological Manipulation of the Human Body,” sets forth guidelines for changing a person’s sex, specifically with youth. The document, issued Monday, says Catholic hospitals “must not perform interventions, whether surgical or chemical, that aim to transform the sexual characteristics of a human body into those of the opposite sex, or take part in the development of such procedures.”

Transgender Catholics have received a mixed response across the U.S. church. Some have found acceptance in specific parishes and rejection in certain dioceses, including those that bar church personnel from using trans people’s preferred gender pronouns. The bishops’ latest guidance to Catholic medical centers could prevent trans people from getting the health care they need, said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which advocates for greater LGBTQ acceptance in the church.

Catholic hospitals make up a sizeable portion of the U.S. health care system and in some communities they are the only option. The Catholic Health Association, which comprises more than 600 hospitals and 1,400 long-term care and other health facilities in the United States, says more than one in seven U.S. hospital patients is cared for in a Catholic facility.

“These decisions are being made at a much higher level without knowing the individuals and individual cases involved,” DeBernardo said. “When transgender people are not permitted or restricted from transitioning in ways they feel are appropriate, it could end in depression, anxiety or even self harm, including suicide.”

The bishops’ guidelines “will not change much” when it comes to caring for transgender patients at Catholic hospitals, said the Rev. Charlie Bouchard, CHA’s senior director of theology and sponsorship. Transgender people will continue to always be accepted in Catholic hospitals and treated with dignity and respect, but might not receive all of the transgender care they request because of the church’s theological and moral teachings, he said.

“As we look at the document from the bishops, what we are mindful of is that we have a history of caring for the marginalized, and we see transgender people very much as a marginalized group,” he said.

Catholic hospitals see transgender patients with a variety of health care needs from broken bones to cancer treatment and heart attacks, Bouchard said, adding that the hospitals would not perform cosmetic procedures such as reconstructive surgeries, hysterectomies, or treatments such as sterilizations on request, unless there is a medical need for them.

He said Catholic hospitals are also training staff to be respectful of transgender patients: “When a patient checks in, we ask staff to be respectful in how they ask questions. We want to affirm transgender individuals as persons and provide them with spiritual care and psychological counseling.”

Bouchard said Catholic hospitals will “base health care on science and continue to follow the science when it comes to transgender people.”

“But we don’t treat ideology,” he said. “We treat patients who are really suffering. There are things out there about gender fluidity that we do not agree with. But as Catholic hospitals, we are held to the same standard of care as other hospitals.”

DeBernardo disagreed, saying the bishops’ doctrinal guidelines cause harm rather than heal people by not paying heed to science.

“The bishops’ unwillingness to counter any of the evidence from the scientific community or the experience of transgender people is neither good theology nor acceptable pastoral care,” he said.

DeBernardo said he sees hope with many more Catholics in the pews showing greater understanding of transgender people’s lives. He noted cases where Catholic parents are supporting their transgender children against restrictive policies in Catholic schools, including barring puberty blockers and preferred pronouns on campuses and in parishes.

Christine Zuba, a transgender woman who lives in New Jersey, said she feels accepted at her local parish, but is upset that the national church “continues to deny our existence and our need for health care.” Zuba said she was disappointed to see that transgender people were not even mentioned in the 14-page document.

“In my parish, I feel accepted unconditionally for who I am,” she said. “But that is missing in our hierarchy. There is no willingness to engage with us and understand our lives.”

Zuba said she is happy to see more engagement and interaction in some dioceses. In Davenport, Iowa, Bishop Thomas Zinkula formed a Gender Committee calling Catholics to “listen to the people in the margins,” calling ministering to LGBTQ people – particularly trans people – as “a life issue.” In a column published in the Catholic Messenger, Zinkula said he has been haunted by the story of a transgender youth who attempted suicide after being denied Communion.

“This type of thing should never happen again,” he wrote.

Zuba said she would like to see that type of commitment to listen and learn in the upper echelons of the church.

“All we ask is listen to us as a group and as individuals,” she said. “Open your hearts and try to understand.”

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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Brazil’s Bolsonaro turns in undeclared jewels to authorities

Brazil’s Bolsonaro turns in undeclared jewels to authorities

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — A representative of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday handed a set of diamond jewelry…

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — A representative of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday handed a set of diamond jewelry he received during his presidency over to a state bank, as ordered by a government watchdog amid an investigation into the gifts.

Federal police and prosecutors are investigating whether the goods brought into the country from Saudi Arabia were public gifts that Bolsonaro improperly tried to prevent from being incorporated into the presidency’s public collection, or private gifts that Bolsonaro tried sneak into Brazil without paying taxes.

The Senate’s transparency commission also is investigating whether the sale of a refinery by Brazil’s state-controlled oil giant was related to the jewels.

The state bank Caixa Economica Federal received the box of precious stones Friday at one of its branches in capital Brasilia, the bank’s press office told The Associated Press. A representative also turned in firearms Bolsonaro received as a gift from authorities in the United Arab Emirates, according to the federal police’s press office.

A federal watchdog on Wednesday had given Bolsonaro five days to hand over the precious stones and guns that he had received while president.

Brazilian media started reporting on the set of jewels earlier this month, along with another set that was seized at the international airport in Sao Paulo. The confiscated set, composed of earrings, a necklace, a ring and a watch by Swiss brand Chopard, is estimated to be worth several million dollars. Neither set was declared to tax authorities.

Documents and video footage published by local press appear to show supposed emissaries of Bolsonaro making multiple unsuccessful attempts to retrieve the seized jewelry, up until just days before the end of his presidency.

Bolsonaro, who denies any wrongdoing connected to the gifts, has been in the United States since late-December, just days before the end of his presidential term.

The gifts add to the legal jeopardy already surrounding the right-wing populist politician. He is also under investigation for any involvement in a rampage by his supporters through the national capital after he left office and for numerous actions during the presidential election campaign he lost last fall.

© 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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Carl Icahn claims Illumina directors got extra insurance to close 'disastrous' $7.1 billion Grail deal

Carl Icahn claims Illumina directors got extra insurance to close 'disastrous' $7.1 billion Grail deal

Carl Icahn on Friday alleged that Illumina‘s directors demanded extra personal liability insurance before the biotech company signed off on a $7.1 billion acquisition of cancer test developer Grail in 2021. 

The claim is the latest development in a brewing proxy fight between the activist investor and San Diego-based Illumina, who have been trading jabs over the Grail deal that faces scrutiny from European antitrust regulators. Icahn, who owns a 1.4% stake in Illumina, is pushing for board seats at the DNA sequencing company. The investor also is calling for Illumina to unwind what he calls a “disastrous” acquisition that he believes represents “a new low in corporate governance.” 

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In a new letter to Illumina shareholders, Icahn claimed that the company’s directors required that it commit to providing them with an “unprecedented level of additional personal liability insurance” protection a day before the Grail deal closed on Aug. 18, 2021. 

“It seems that, in private, the directors were terrified that their decision might cause them enormous personal harm,” Icahn wrote.

He alleged that the purchase of additional insurance for directors was “buried in the hope no one would notice,” adding that it was quietly disclosed in a routine filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission three months after the Grail acquisition. 

He claimed the additional insurance was a fourth layer of liability protection on top of benefits like “extremely broad” directors and officers, or D&O, insurance coverage paid by Illumina. That insurance offers liability coverage for managers if they are personally sued by employees, vendors, investors or other parties for their actions in managing a company. 

“This smells strongly to us like a quid pro quo – a group of trepidatious directors were dragged reluctantly, kicking and screaming, by management into an extremely risky deal and ultimately conditioned their approval upon receiving an even thicker blanket of immunity than the extremely luxuriant comforter which they already possessed,” Icahn wrote. 

He also alleged the Illumina board decided not to tell shareholders about other negative information when they closed the Grail deal, such as how it could incur significant tax liabilities if Illumina is forced to unwind the acquisition. The board only admitted those potential tax consequences in Illumina’s most recent annual report filed on Feb. 17, he noted. 

Illumina did not immediately comment on Icahn’s latest salvo Friday.

Illumina prevailed over the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s opposition to the Grail deal in September, but is fighting for European regulatory approval.

Last year, the EU’s executive body, the European Commission, blocked Illumina’s acquisition of Grail over concerns it would hurt consumer choice. At the time, it unveiled details of a planned order that would force Illumina to unwind the deal. That could result in a fine of up to 10% of Illumina’s annual revenue, which hit more than $4.5 billion last year.

Illumina has challenged the European Commission, arguing the agency lacks jurisdiction to block the merger between the two U.S. companies. A final decision is expected in late 2023 or early 2024, the company noted Monday. Illumina said winning a jurisdictional appeal would eliminate any potential fine and “gives the greatest optionality for Illumina to maximize value for shareholders.”

The company on Monday also said it has interviewed Icahn’s three nominees for its board of directors and found they lacked relevant skills and experience. In his latest letter, Icahn reiterated his intentions to present his board nominees during the company’s annual meeting of shareholders.

“We feel strongly that our three highly qualified nominees (none of whom has ever elected voluntarily to engage in a value destructive war with powerful antitrust regulators) are particularly suited because of their experience to help keep Illumina’s directors from painting themselves further into a corner,” he wrote.

Icahn’s proxy fight follows a rocky 18 months for Illumina. The company’s market cap has shrunk to roughly $34 billion from about $75 billion in August 2021, the month it closed the Grail deal. Icahn has previously contended that the acquisition wiped out $50 billion in Illumina’s market value, which he said “clearly shows that shareholders have lost faith in Illumina’s management team and board of directors.”

Illumina earlier this week touted Grail, which claims to offer the only commercially available early screening test that can detect more than 50 types of cancers through a single blood draw. The test generated $55 million in revenue in 2022 and is slated to rake in up to $110 million this year, according to Illumina.

Grail is based in Menlo Park, California.

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Brazil's Lula contracts pneumonia, pushes back China trip

Brazil's Lula contracts pneumonia, pushes back China trip

Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has pushed back his departure to China after contracting “mild pneumonia,” the presidential palace said in a statement Friday.

Lula, 77, underwent medical examinations in a hospital after a trip to Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, the statement said. He had been expected to leave for China on Friday or Saturday.

The leftist leader is now scheduled to travel on Sunday for his multi-day visit. But newspaper O Globo reported Friday that his departure is pending a health assessment in the afternoon.

A delegation composed of ministers, senators, lawmakers and hundreds of businessmen is set to accompany Lula during his first state visit to Brazil’s biggest trade partner since taking office in January.

The Brazilian president and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet next Tuesday.

Trade, investment and climate change are all on the agenda and 20 bilateral agreements are expected to be signed, according to a statement Thursday from the presidential palace.

Lula, who rarely postpones or cancels trips due to health reasons, traveled to Argentina in January and the U.S. in February, marking a departure from Brazil’s foreign policy under former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who showed little interest in international affairs or travel abroad.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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