US birth and fertility rates drop to record lows in 2020, CDC says

Birth and fertility rates in the United States dropped to record lows again last year, according to provisional data in a new report published Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of U.S. births in 2020 fell 4% from 2019. The figure is double the average annual rate of decline of 2% since 2014 and marks the sixth consecutive year that the number of births have dropped. Both the general and total fertility rates in 2020 also declined 4% from 2019, reaching record lows for the nation. Last year’s total fertility rate “was again below

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Nearly 40% of Marines have declined Covid-19 vaccine

Nearly 40% of US Marines are declining Covid-19 vaccinations, according to data provided to CNN on Friday by the service, the first branch to disclose service-wide numbers on acceptance and declination. As of Thursday, approximately 75,500 Marines have received vaccines, including fully vaccinated and partially vaccinated service men and women. About 48,000 Marines have chosen not to receive vaccines, for a declination rate of 38.9%. The declination rate at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, one of the prominent Marine Corps bases, was far higher, at 57%, according to another set of data. Of 26,400 Marines who have been offered

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The drug industry keeps ramping up its spending on lobbying

The pharmaceutical industry keeps turning up the dial on lobbying, setting massive new spending records in its intensive effort to influence Congress and the Biden administration. Yet this week, President Biden angered drugmakers when he said he supports the waiving of intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines. Drug and health product manufacturers, along with their national association, spent a combined $92 million to lobby the federal government from January through March. That puts the industry on track to break its spending record for the second year in a row. Not only that, but its first-quarter spending was more than double

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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says a ‘shocking’ $7 trillion in taxes is going uncollected

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said a “shocking” amount of taxes was going uncollected by the federal government. “The gap between what we’re collecting in taxes on current tax and what we should be collecting … amounts to over $7 trillion over a decade,” Yellen said. Yellen’s remarks emphasize the Biden administration’s efforts to collect tax revenue from the wealthiest Americans and multinational companies to finance $4 trillion in spending programs. At the center of Biden’s planned revenue raisers is a provision to increase funding for IRS enforcement. He also wants to slap investors earning above $1 million with

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Pfizer Reaps Hundreds of Millions in Profits From Covid Vaccine

Last year, racing to develop a vaccine in record time, Pfizer made a big decision: Unlike several rival manufacturers, which vowed to forgo profits on their shots during the Covid-19 pandemic, Pfizer planned to profit on its vaccine. On Tuesday, the company announced just how much money the shot is generating. The vaccine brought in $3.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of this year, nearly a quarter of its total revenue, Pfizer reported. The vaccine was, far and away, Pfizer’s biggest source of revenue. The company did not disclose the profits it derived from the vaccine,

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New York mayor calls off ‘creepy, alienating’ police robo-dog

New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered a controversial robotic dog undergoing trials with the city’s police off the street, and a $94,200 contract with creator Boston Dynamics cancelled. The robot canine, named “Digidog”, is to be returned to its manufacturer following outrage tied to calls to cut police funding and law enforcement access to military-developed or surplus hardware. De Blasio voiced that he is “glad the Digidog was put down.” A city government spokesperson added: “It’s creepy, alienating, and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers.” The 70lb robot could run at three and a half miles per

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First-ever US release of genetically modified mosquitoes begins in Florida Keys

The first release of genetically modified mosquitoes in the United States began this week in the Florida Keys – the culmination of a decade-long effort by local mosquito control authorities to see if a genetically modified organism is a viable alternative to spraying insecticides in the region. For the first 12-week phase, blue-and-white boxes containing about 12,000 GMO eggs developed by a US-owned, British-based company called Oxitec have been placed in six small areas of Ramrod Key, Cudjoe Key and Vaca Key. When water is added, the mosquitoes hatch, mature and enter the environment over the next week or so.

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The Victims of Agent Orange the U.S. Has Never Acknowledged

The main focus of the War Legacies Project is to document the long-term effects of the defoliant known as Agent Orange and provide humanitarian aid to its victims. Agent Orange – best known for its widespread use by the U.S. military to clear vegetation during the Vietnam War – is notorious for being laced with a chemical contaminant called 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-P-dioxin, or TCDD, regarded as one of the most toxic substances ever created. The use of the herbicide in the neutral nation of Laos by the United States – secretly, illegally and in large amounts – remains one of the last

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Wall Street’s Cooked Books Fueled the Financial Crisis in 2008. It’s Happening Again.

It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked,” the billionaire investor Warren Buffett has famously said. During the crash of 2008, the whole world learned just how dangerously nude Wall Street was. Now it may be happening again – this time not with residential mortgage-backed securities, based on loans for homes, but commercial mortgage-backed securities, or CMBS, based on loans for businesses. John M. Griffin and Alex Priest are, respectively, a prominent professor of finance and a Ph.D. candidate at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. In

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German Authorities Break Up International Child Sex Abuse Site

German prosecutors have broken up an online platform for sharing images and videos showing the sexual abuse of children, mostly boys, that had an international following of more than 400,000 members, they said. The site, named “Boystown,” had been around since at least June 2019 and included forums where members from around the globe exchanged images and videos showing children, including toddlers, being sexually abused. In addition to the forums, the site had chat rooms where members could connect with one another in various languages. German federal prosecutors described it as “one of the largest child pornography sites operating on

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