Rita Blanger

An important message from Paul Gross on Melanoma Monday
in Health

An important message from Paul Gross on Melanoma Monday

I’ve always been thankful that I was born with my mother’s skin — she has a darker skin tone that tans, and never had skin cancer in her life.

My late father, on the other hand, had very fair skin. That, compounded with extensive sun exposure when he was stationed in San Juan, Puerto Rico during World War II, caused him all sorts of problems later in life. He had several skin cancers removed from his head, face and ears, and many, many other pre-cancerous lesions proactively removed. It seemed like every few months, he was coming home from the dermatologist with bandages all over his face and scalp.

I was thankful that I never had to go through any of this. Until I did.

This past winter, I had a scab on the side of my head that just didn’t seem to want to heal. I finally went to the dermatologist to have him take a look, and he decided to carve it out and have it biopsied. Fortunately, the biopsy was negative for cancer, but it was identified as an actinic keratosis: sun damaged skin. Left untreated, it very well could have turned into skin cancer. This stunned me, as I always wear baseball hats and golf hats when outside — but the doctor told me that the sun damage could have occurred when I was young.

This Melanoma Monday, I am writing this letter to plead with you to get anything on your skin, face or head that isn’t normal checked out. Melanoma is the worst-case skin cancer you could get, and one you should dread. If it’s caught early, the cancer is 99% curable, according to the American Cancer Society. However, should your melanoma spread regionally, that cure rate drops to 66% and, if it spreads distantly in your body, your likelihood of surviving drops to 27%.

Like most cancers, you need to catch this early.

If you don’t see a dermatologist annually for skin checkups, at least have your partner or a family member occasionally take a look at the parts of your body that you can’t easily see. Below is a chart of abnormal things to look out for. A helpful note: “greater than 6 mm” is larger than the size of a pencil eraser.

Andrew Brown Jr. funeral: Rev. Al Sharpton to deliver eulogy at North Carolina service
in Headlines

Andrew Brown Jr. funeral: Rev. Al Sharpton to deliver eulogy at North Carolina service

A funeral service will be held in North Carolina Monday for Andrew Brown Jr., the 42-year-old Black man who was killed by deputies serving drug-related search and arrest warrants on April 21.

Brown’s death sparked over a week of protests that have continued even as a judge delayed the public release of body camera footage of the fatal shooting for at least 30 days.

A private funeral ceremony will begin at noon ET Monday at the Fountain of Life Church in Elizabeth City. The event is invitation only but will be livestreamed by Horton’s Funeral Home.

Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy. Other speakers will include Brown’s relatives, prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who’s representing Brown’s family, and Rev. William Barber II, leader of the Poor People’s Campaign.

“I would want to get across that this is a human being. And for us, it’s part of a continual abuse of police power,” Sharpton told the Associated Press about his plans for Brown’s eulogy.

Family and friends had their first opportunity to pay their respects Sunday morning as Brown’s body lay in state at Horton’s Funeral Home and Cremations Chapel in Hertford. About 80 people had streamed in to sign the guest registrar and briefly stand by the open casket.

Brown’s chrome casket was loaded into a Cadillac hearse and transported to The Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, where at least 300 people came to pay their respects that afternoon.

Sharpton recently delivered the eulogy for Daunte Wright, who was fatally shot by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. His death sparked nights of unrest amid the nearby trial for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was later convicted in the murder and manslaughter of George Floyd.

Rev. Greg Drumwright, a pastor from Greensboro, organized buses to bring people into Elizabeth City on Sunday, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. Protesters marched peacefully during the afternoon, ending at Brown’s home on Perry Street, where the deputy-involved shooting took place, WAVY-TV reported. A mural of Brown is now spray painted on the side of the residence. There were two press briefings organized Sunday by Brown’s children and local faith and city leaders.

Elizabeth City officials on Friday pushed back a curfew by several hours each night after a week of generally peaceful protests. Starting Friday night, the curfew will run from midnight until 6 a.m. It took effect at 8 p.m. on previous nights.

Last week, Superior Court Judge Jeffery Foster ruled all body camera footage of the April 21 fatal deputy-involved shooting of Brown will be delayed for public release for at least 30 days to allow North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to move forward with their probe.

Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox had filed a petition on behalf of Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II for the release of the footage. Four of the seven deputies placed on administrative leave following the fatal shooting of Brown were reinstated Thursday after body-camera footage revealed they did not fire their weapons, Wooten announced. Three remain on leave.

The attorneys representing Brown’s family and a district attorney in North Carolina have contradicted each other’s accounts of what took place on the body camera footage of the incident.

District Attorney Andrew Womble said in court that Brown’s car “made contact” with sheriff’s deputies twice before law enforcement opened fire. He called comments made by Brown family attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter at an earlier press conference “patently false.”

Cherry-Lassiter, who was part of a group privately shown a clip of body camera footage, argued it depicted “an execution” and claimed that Brown had his hands on the steering wheel and was not threatening deputies as he was fired upon.

An independent autopsy commissioned by attorneys representing Brown’s family showed Brown was shot four times in the right arm, and a fifth time fatally in the back of the head.

L.A. County reports 500 new coronavirus infections and 29 deaths as vaccinations build
in Health

L.A. County reports 500 new coronavirus infections and 29 deaths as vaccinations build

Los Angeles County reported 500 new coronavirus infections and 29 deaths on Saturday, Department of Public Health officials announced.

Since the start of the pandemic, 23,918 people have died from COVID-19 across L.A. County, with infections totaling 1,233,488.

The news comes as infections in L.A. County remain at the lowest levels seen throughout the pandemic. The average daily test positivity rate was 0.7% over the past week, according to county data.

About 36% of Los Angeles County residents age 16 and older are fully vaccinated, according to Department of Public Health data, and 54% have received at least one vaccine dose.

But racial disparities in vaccination remain pronounced in L.A. County. More than 50% of white and Asian American residents ages 16 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, but only 30% of Latino and Black residents in the same age group have.

Across California, more than 30 million vaccine doses have been administered, but demand may be dropping. Recent data indicate the state’s vaccination pace is starting to taper off, and experts predict we are not on track to achieve herd immunity.

However, Californians are far less vaccine hesitant than residents of other states, federal data suggest. Only 11% of Californians have said they will probably not or definitely not take the vaccine a lower rate than in all but four states: Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and Hawaii.

“To those grieving the loss of a family member or friend, our hearts go out to you and we wish you peace,” said Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director. “Getting vaccinated in L.A. County is easier and more accessible than ever before and we encourage everyone waiting to get vaccinated to take advantage of the opportunity as soon as possible.”

Walk-in vaccinations are available without appointments to anyone 16 and older at all L.A. County sites through next week.

Dodgers' Dustin May exits start vs. Brewers after suffering right-arm injury
in Sports

Dodgers’ Dustin May exits start vs. Brewers after suffering right-arm injury

Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Dustin May departed Saturday’s start against the Milwaukee Brewers in the second inning after suffering a right-arm injury, per Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times. May signaled to the dugout after delivering a pitch, all the while wincing from apparent pain.

May completed 1 ⅔ innings, permitting a walk and a run on a Luis Urías home run. He struck out three batters and he averaged 98.3 mph on his fastball. His final pitch was a 94 mph fastball that registered as his slowest of the season, per SB Nation’s Eric Stephen. (For reference, his seasonal average was 98.4 mph.)

May was replaced by left-handed reliever Garrett Cleavinger, who the Dodgers acquired over the offseason as part of a three-team trade including the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays.

May entered Saturday’s game with a 2.53 ERA and a 6.40 strikeout-to-walk ratio in four starts this season. He’d struck out 32 of the 86 batters he had faced, including a career-high 10 last time out against the San Diego Padres.

The Dodgers already had seven pitchers on the injured list coming into play on Saturday, including Tony Gonsolin, David Price, Brusdar Graterol, Joe Kelly, and Corey Knebel. Caleb Ferguson and Tommy Kahnle, meanwhile, are both out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

The Dodgers have several off days over the next two weeks, suggesting they could massage their rotation if May requires an injured list stint. Alternatively, the Dodgers could turn to a minor-league pitcher like Andre Jackson (already on the 40-player roster) or top prospect Josiah Gray.

The Dodgers entered Saturday with a 16-11 record, good for second place in the National League West, a half game behind the surprising San Francisco Giants.

Police break up Brussels anti-lockdown party
in World News

Police break up Brussels anti-lockdown party

Police fired water cannon and tear gas in a Brussels park on Saturday to break up an anti-lockdown party of several hundred people designed to defy coronavirus social distancing rules.

The crowd of mostly young people responded to a post on Facebook announcing the unauthorised party. It took place a month after police cleared 2,000 people who gathered in the same Bois de la Cambre park for la Boum (the party), an event that had begun as an April Fool’s joke.

The follow-up Boum 2 event on May 1, a traditional day for demonstrations, was held a week before the Belgian government allows cafe and bar terraces to open and lets groups of more than four people meet outside in a relaxation of COVID-19 rules.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo urged Belgians on Friday to stay united and not “fall into this trap”. Facebook also took down the Boum 2 post on Thursday after a request from Belgian prosecutors, who warned partygoers they risked being detained or fined.

Police said several hundred people still attended.

Emile Breuillot, a 23-year-old dental student, said he had come to see people enjoy themselves and to defend their rights to gather.

After a calm start with groups chanting “freedom”, the police announced on social media that attendees were not observing public safety measures and that they would intervene. Many people were not wearing masks, a requirement anywhere in public in the Belgian capital.

Hundreds of people also marched in central Brussels and through the eastern city of Liege demanding a relaxation of coronavirus measures.

Romney booed while on stage at Utah GOP convention
in Headlines

Romney booed while on stage at Utah GOP convention

Utah Republicans voted not to censure Romney for his Trump impeachment vote

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney was booed by audience members when he took the stage at the Utah GOP convention Saturday.

Romney has faced negative backlash and a censure threat by the GOP delegation for his votes to impeach Donald Trump.

But Chairman of the Utah GOP, Derek Brown, interrupted Romney’s speech to tell the rowdy crowd to simmer down.

“I’m a man who says what he means, and you know I was not a fan of our last president’s character issues,” Romney said as the crowd threw insults at him including “communist” and “traitor,” first reported The Salt Lake Tribune.

“You can boo all you like,” Romney said. “I’ve been a Republican all of my life. My dad was the governor of Michigan and I was the Republican nominee for president in 2012.”

But despite the negative reaction the longtime Utah Republican ended his speech on a positive note.

“We need to come together in strength and unity,” he said.

While Romney was greeted with boos by some, others stood up to counter the negative reaction and applaud the senator – signifying the split the Republican Party has seen on a national scale between traditional conservatives and Trump-championed voters.

Utah Republicans ultimately voted Saturday not to censure Romney, who was joined by six other GOP senators including Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, to impeach Trump.

Romney doesn’t face voter repercussions in an impending re-election race like Murkowski in 2022, but his critical stance against Trump following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack was nothing new.

Romney also voted to impeach Trump during his 2019 impeachment trial, which could prove problematic for the senator should he seek reelection in 2024.