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More adult Americans identify as LGBT, Gallup poll finds

A Gallup survey released on Wednesday found that more and more adult Americans are identifying themselves as LGBT, a change pollsters see as being driven, at least in part, by people in younger generations who are more likely to see themselves as LGBT. something other than heterosexual.

The poll found that 5.6% of adults identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, up from 4.5% in 2017, the last time Gallup released an annual update. The poll also found that more than half of LGBT adults identified as bisexual.

According to the survey, one in six Gen Z adults, someone born between 1997 and 2002, identifies as LGBT. The growth in the number of Americans who identify as LGBTQ is likely to continue to rise, wrote Jeffrey Jones, editor-in-chief of Gallup, announcing the results. Indeed, younger generations are more likely than older generations to consider themselves LGBT, he said.

Americans are more supportive of equal rights for LGBTQ people, Mr Jones said, which has resulted in an increase in the number of people who identify as LGBT.

“I think the results prove that visibility and acceptance, when combined, will burst closet doors,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, a media organization and advocacy group. of LGBTQ people.

The survey was based on more than 15,000 interviews conducted throughout 2020 with Americans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia aged 18 or older. Respondents were interviewed both by cell phone and landline. They were asked, “Which of the following do you consider yourself to be?” You can select as many as you want: heterosexual or heterosexual; lesbian; gay; bisexual; transgender. “

Gallup said the poll’s margin of error was plus or minus one percentage point for all adults, and plus or minus five percentage points for LGBT adults.

The identity question in the latest poll was more detailed than in previous years, Jones said. Respondents answered their specific sexual orientation instead of answering “yes” or “no” to see if they identified as LGBT

The Supreme Court has issued several landmark decisions over the past decade, adding to a more favorable climate for LGBTQ people. In 2013, the court ruled that same-sex married couples were entitled to federal benefits. In 2015, the court ruled that same-sex marriage was a national right. Most recently, he ruled in June that civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers.

But the challenges continue for LGBTQ Americans. Although hundreds of religious leaders around the world have signed a declaration demanding a global ban on conversion therapy, which aims to change the sexual orientations of LGBTQ people, only about 20 states have some form of ban on sex. contested approach. Under the administration of President Donald J. Trump, the decline in trans rights has spread across the federal government.

An annual GLAAD report this year also revealed that LGBTQ representation on television fell for the first time in five years.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on the Equality Act, a bill that would expand protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, NPR reported.

While major LGBTQ rights groups were encouraged to see that Gallup’s results matched their independent polls, executives said there was more to do to make the estimates more inclusive for people who are otherwise identify or are non-conforming to gender.

“You are not only erasing their identity, but you are missing an opportunity to understand the complexity of their lived experiences,” said Amit Paley, CEO and CEO of the Trevor Project, an organization that aims to prevent youth suicides. LGBTQ people.

For executives, the survey also highlights a perennial problem in collecting data on LGBTQ people that could influence new policies.

“We don’t really know how many LGBTQ people in this country die by suicide because death registries do not include data on gender identity or sexual orientation, which significantly erases LGBTQ people.” Mr. Paley said.

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People with dementia are twice as likely to contract Covid, huge study finds

People with dementia had a significantly higher risk of contracting the coronavirus, and they were much more likely to be hospitalized and die from it, than people without dementia, a new study of millions of cases found. medical in the United States.

Their risk could not be fully explained by characteristics common to people with dementia that are known risk factors for Covid-19: old age, living in a nursing home, and conditions such as obesity, l asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. After researchers adjusted for these factors, Americans with dementia were still twice as likely to have contracted Covid-19 at the end of last summer.

“It’s pretty compelling to suggest that there is something about dementia that makes you more vulnerable,” said Dr. Kristine Yaffe, professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco, who doesn’t did not participate in the study.

The study found that black people with dementia were almost three times more likely than white people with dementia to be infected with the virus, a finding that experts say most likely reflected the fact that people of color have generally suffered disproportionate damage during the pandemic.

“This study highlights the need to protect patients with dementia, especially those who are black,” the authors wrote.

Maria Carrillo, chief scientist of the Alzheimer’s Association, which heads the journal that published the study, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, said in an interview: “One of the things that comes out of this Covid situation is that we should highlight these disparities. . “

The study was conducted by researchers at Case Western Reserve University who analyzed the electronic health records of 61.9 million people aged 18 and older in the United States from February 1 to August 21, 2020. data, collected by IBM Watson Health Explorys, came from 360 hospitals and 317,000 health care providers in all 50 states and represented one-fifth of the US population, the authors said.

Rong Xu, professor of biomedical informatics at Case Western and lead author of the study, said there had been speculation about whether people with dementia were more prone to infections and damage from Covid-19.

“We thought, ‘We have the data, we can just test this hypothesis,’ Dr Xu said.

The researchers found that out of 15,770 patients with Covid-19 in the records analyzed, 810 of them also had dementia. When researchers adjusted for general demographic factors – age, sex, and race – they found that people with dementia were more than three times more likely to contract Covid-19. When they adjusted for Covid-specific risk factors like nursing home residency and underlying physical conditions, the gap narrowed somewhat, but people with dementia were still twice as likely to ‘be infected.

Experts and study authors said the reasons for this vulnerability could include cognitive and physiological factors.

“People with dementia are more dependent on those around them to ensure safety, to remember to wear a mask, to keep people away through social distancing,” said Dr. Kenneth Langa, professor of medicine at the University of Michigan , who did not participate in the study. “There’s the cognitive impairment and the fact that they’re more socially at risk,” he says.

Dr Yaffe said there could also be an “element of frailty” in people with dementia, including a lack of mobility and muscle tone, which could affect their resilience to infections.

Dr Carrillo noted that the coronavirus infection was associated with an inflammatory response that has been shown to affect blood vessels and other aspects of the circulatory system. Many people with dementia already have vascular disorders, which can be made worse or amplified by Covid-19.

Indeed, the study authors subdivided patients according to the type of dementia listed in the electronic records and found that people designated as having vascular dementia had a greater risk of infection than those designated as having vascular dementia. Alzheimer’s disease or other types.

But Dr Langa and Dr Yaffe warned that there was a significant overlap between types of dementia. Many patients have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular disease, they said, and physicians who are not specialists may not distinguish the subtypes when providing codes for electronic records.

In examining the risk of hospitalization and death for patients with Covid dementia, the researchers did not adjust demographics such as age or whether they lived in nursing homes or had under-developed medical conditions. underlying. They found that dementia patients with Covid were 2.6 times more likely to have been hospitalized in the first six months of the pandemic than those without dementia. They were 4.4 times more likely to die.

Blacks with Covid-19 and dementia were significantly more likely to be hospitalized than whites with both diseases. The authors did not find a significant difference in the death rate of black-and-white coronavirus patients with dementia, although they wrote that the number of deaths analyzed, 170, may be too small to provide a conclusion. solid about it.

Experts noted that one of the limitations of the study was that researchers did not have access to socio-economic information, which could lead to a better understanding of patients’ risk factors.

Dr Langa also noted that the data only reflected people who interacted with the health system, so it did not include “more isolated and poorer patients who have a harder time getting to homes. doctors”.

Therefore, he said, the study could be “an underestimate of the higher risk of Covid infection for people with dementia.”

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New California variant could lead to virus surge there, study finds

At the end of December, scientists in California began to search for coronavirus samples for a new, rapidly spreading variant that had just been identified in Britain.

They found it, but in relatively few samples. But in the process, scientists made another unwelcome discovery: California had produced its own variant.

This mutant, which belongs to a line known as CAL.20C, appears to have arisen in July but remained low until November. Then it started to spread rapidly.

CAL.20C made up more than half of viral genome samples collected from Los Angeles labs on January 13, according to a new study that has yet to be released.

“We had our own problem that didn’t cross Europe,” said Jasmine Plummer, a researcher at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who worked on the new study. “He was really born here, and he was lucky enough to start emerging and soaring during the holidays.”

There is no evidence that CAL.20C is more lethal than the other variants. And scientists need to do more research to determine if CAL.20C is in fact more contagious than other forms of the virus.

But Eric Vail, director of molecular pathology at Cedars-Sinai, said it was possible that CAL.20C could play a significant role in the outbreak of cases that overwhelmed hospitals in Southern California. “I have no doubts that this is a more contagious strain of the virus,” said Dr. Vail.

Dr. Charles Chiu, a virologist at the University of California, San Francisco, said statewide, he and his colleagues find the variant in about 20-30% of the samples sequenced. “It just appeared under our noses, and now it is increasing in several counties,” he said. “Overall, it’s safe to say this is going to spread outside of California.

Researchers are also looking for CAL.20C in other states, Dr Plummer said, and so far have found it in Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, as well as the District of Columbia. It is not yet clear how common this is outside of California.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a formal warning about the variant flooding Britain. Although this mutant, called B.1.1.7, is still relatively rare in the United States, accounting for less than half a percent of infections, the agency said it could be responsible for the majority of cases in the countries by March.

A spokesperson for the agency said the CDC is working with California to learn more about the new variant. “Currently, it is not known if this variant is different from other SARS-CoV-2 viruses, if these differences may have contributed to its emergence, or if this emergence was simply a random event,” he said.

“I will say this particular variant is one to watch out for,” said Kristian Andersen, a virologist at the Scripps Research Institute who discovered one of the first samples of B.1.1.7 in the United States. But he warned that it’s still unclear whether CAL.C20 is becoming more common because it has a biological benefit, or just by chance.

While B.1.1.7 and CAL.C20 are both more contagious than the other variants, it is not known how a competition between the two will settle. “CAL.C20 is way ahead,” said Dr. Vail. “Even though B.1.1.7 is more infectious overall, we may never see a big increase here in LA”

Since scientists first identified the novel coronavirus a year ago in China, they have been tracking the emergence of new mutations, which occur at random and are transmitted to new generations of viruses as they replicate. in our body.

Many mutations are harmful to the virus and worsen its replication. Many others are neutral. But researchers have now found several that are worrying because they seem to help the virus infect people more effectively.

In the first few months of the pandemic, a mutation appeared in a lineage which then became dominant in much of the world. Known as D614G, the mutation is now believed to make the virus easier to pass from person to person, compared to variants without it.

In December, British researchers discovered B.1.1.7, which is around 50% more transmissible than previous versions of the virus. The variant is a major factor in the surge in cases and hospitalizations out there now.

B.1.1.7 was in the United States in early November, according to a study published online Tuesday by University of Arizona biologists Brendan Larsen and Michael Worobey. This would mean that the variant had circulated for two months before being detected.

In California, researchers looking for B.1.1.7 began to notice an unusual mutation in their samples. The mutation, called L452R, changes the shape of a protein, called a peak, which decorates the surface of the coronavirus.

“We stumbled upon this truly unexpected discovery and took it from there,” Dr. Vail said.

The mutation has appeared in different viral lineages over the past year. Scientists have studied L452R because it could help coronaviruses stick to our cells and infect them.

In California, Dr Vail, Dr Plummer and their colleagues discovered that whenever they encountered a variant with the L452 mutation, it also carried four other distinctive mutations. This combination, they said, indicated that this was a single lineage that had emerged at some point in California. The researchers named any virus carrying the five CAL.C20 mutations.

The California Department of Health held a press conference on Sunday evening to announce that the L452 mutation is becoming more common in California. On Monday evening, Cedars-Sinai released a press release on their study, which will soon be posted on the MedRxiv pre-print website.

The Cedars-Sinai team is part of a statewide network of researchers who have been tracking mutations in the coronavirus. They randomly selected nasal swabs from patients who tested positive for Covid-19 and then collected genetic material from the swabs.

The researchers pieced together the fragments to reconstruct the virus’s entire genome, then looked for distinctive mutations. They then compared their own findings to other viral genomes sequenced across the state and country.

Researchers found the first CAL.C20 sample in July in Los Angeles. They couldn’t find another sample until October. The variant became more common in November, reaching 36% of Cedars-Sinai samples in December and 50% last week.

Outside scientists are concerned about the new findings, but say it’s still not clear whether the California variant’s mutations give it an advantage – or if it happens so much by chance.

There may be a bias in the samples that scientists examine, for example. It’s also possible that CAL.C20 has become more mainstream thanks to some large super-spreader events.

“I think we need to be careful before concluding that a particular lineage is spreading because of a transmission benefit rather than because it has been riding a wave caused by human behaviors,” Dr Worobey said.

If it turns out to be more contagious, Dr Plummer said, then CAL.C20 could be partially responsible for the recent crippling outbreak of cases in Southern California hospitals.

As the total number of cases increased, Dr Plummer and his colleague found that the percentage of CAL.C20 also increased. This would be consistent with the idea that this is a more contagious variant. “I mean, the numbers speak for themselves,” she said.

Dr Chiu also noted that the variant was involved in a number of outbreaks where large numbers of people have been infected. “There are worrying signs that this variant may be highly transmissible,” he said.

Dr. Chiu and his colleagues are now growing the variant in cells to see how quickly they multiply compared to other variants. The researchers will also observe the effectiveness of the antibodies produced by the vaccines against CAL.C20.

Other scientists are also studying more closely the increased frequency of the variant in California. They are looking for evidence that could determine whether biology or chance is behind its rise.

“This is the job that needs to be done,” Dr. Vail said. “We just don’t have that information.”

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Poll finds majority of voters support climate change initiatives

A majority of registered voters from both parties in the United States support initiatives to fight climate change, many of which are outlined in the climate plans announced by President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr, according to a new poll.

The survey, which was conducted after the presidential election, suggests that a majority of Americans from both parties want a government that tackles climate change forcefully instead of denying its urgency – or denying that it exists at all.

In the survey, released Friday by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, 53% of registered voters said global warming should be a high or very high priority for the president and the Congress, and 66 percent said developing clean energy sources should be a high or very high priority.

Eight in 10 support the achievement of these goals by offering tax breaks to people who buy electric vehicles or solar panels and by investing in renewable energy research.

“These results show that there is very strong public support for bold and ambitious action on climate change and clean energy,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, who heads the Yale program. This suggests an opening for bipartisan legislation backed by voters in lawmakers.

During the campaign, Mr Biden spoke often about how his proposals would generate jobs, and the survey indicates broad support for the idea, and not just the jobs that would come from creating renewable energy.

Of those polled, 83% said they were in favor of creating an employment program that would hire unemployed coal workers, safely close old coal mines, and restore the natural landscape. The same percentage said it supports an employment program that would shut down thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells across the country, which pollute water and leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Some of the policies that appear in the survey echo points from Mr Biden’s campaign, including 78% of respondents’ support for setting stricter fuel efficiency standards for vehicles and 67% for l installation of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the United States by 2030.

The nation is still politically divided, of course, with higher levels of support for some of the initiatives among Democrats than Republicans. The percentage of Liberal Democrats who said global warming should be a high or very high priority was 86%; among conservative Republicans, the figure was only 12 percent, and among all Republicans, the figure was closer to 23 percent.

While 93% of Liberal Democrats said they thought developing clean energy sources should be a high or very high priority for the President and Congress, only 32% of conservative Republicans did; among all Republicans, however, the figure was 43 percent – and 58 percent among liberal and moderate Republicans.

An incentive program promoting renewable energy could win the support of conservatives seeking energy independence or economic development, Dr Leiserowitz said, though they may not be as deeply concerned about tackling the issue. climate change. “There are many roads leading to Damascus,” he said.

The Green New Deal, a set of progressive proposals to tackle climate change that has come under heavy attack from conservatives, garnered support from 66% of those polled, a figure lower than most specific proposals examined in the survey. . Mr Biden declined to support the Green New Deal in particular, although his campaign called it a “crucial framework” for climate action.

Some of the Trump administration’s flagship initiatives have proven deeply unpopular with the public, especially efforts to promote drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: only 28% of voters supported it. Just 40% supported the drilling and extraction of fossil fuels on public lands, and 47% supported the expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling in the United States.

On the Paris climate deal, which Mr. Trump abandoned with great fanfare, 75% of American voters said they wanted the nation to return. And while Mr. Trump has announced his aggressive efforts to relax energy efficiency standards for home appliances like dishwashers and lighting. light bulbs, 83% of voters in the survey said they supported more energy efficient appliances.

The fact that interest in climate issues is so strong, given the proliferation of crises that include the coronavirus pandemic and its attendant economic woes, as well as months of racism-related unrest, is impressive, said Dr. Leiserowitz. This could in part be attributed to increased media coverage and events such as the very active wildfire and hurricane seasons last year.

“For most people, until recently, climate change was an abstract issue,” he said.

The survey of 1,036 registered voters was conducted between December 3 and 16 and has a margin of error of three percentage points.

Dr Leiserowitz said support for government action to move the nation forward towards a clean energy future, even among conservative Republicans, has shown a shift in American political thinking.

“We are in a fundamentally different political climate today than we lived in the 80s and 90s,” he said.

This survey suggests that Americans accept the idea that “the free market alone will not solve people’s problems,” he said. “It takes a strong government to solve these problems.”

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Underprivileged students more likely to learn remotely, study finds

NWEA, a nonprofit research group, warned in May that closing spring schools could cost students a third of their expected annual reading progress and half of their expected math progress. Subsequent analysis of the fall test scores showed better results – no drops in reading and more modest drops in math – but many underprivileged students did not take the test, which likely skewed the results.

Data from Zearn, an online math program used by some schools, shows performance gaps are widening, with low-income students’ progress falling 14% since January, even as it increased 13% among high-income students. A recent study of Dutch exams found that the average student made “little or no progress” during an eight-week hiatus last spring, with disadvantaged students suffering the greatest learning loss.

“Distance learning is almost certain to widen the achievement gap,” Lake said. “It has been a complete disaster for low income students.”

Among those affected are Dehlia Winbush of Kent, Wash., And her ten-year-old daughter, Nadira, who suffers from a behavioral disorder that oscillates between depression and aggression.

The switch to distance learning last spring “was extremely horrible,” said Ms. Winbush. “It was constantly a struggle for her to log on, even if it was only for an hour.” The school computer malfunctioned and Ms. Winbush, who is visually impaired, was unable to read it well enough to help Nadira with lessons.

“Personally, I don’t think she learned anything,” she says.

The new school year, she said, brought a longer school day and “a really good teacher.” But the isolation worsened Nadira’s depression and led to recent hospitalization. Ms Winbush took time off from her warehouse job to be by her daughter’s side, but her absences caused her to lose her job, adding financial problems to medical problems.

As Nadira’s screen flashes with interesting lessons – the rise of cities, defense mechanisms in animals – she misses the social and emotional development that comes from being in a classroom.

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New analysis finds prostate cancer cells hidden in the body

After doctors discovered Dr Mark Samberg’s prostate cancer last spring, the 70-year-old retired urologist prepared to have his prostate removed. He knew the surgery would cure him, assuming the cancer was confined to the organ.

But her doctors had a nagging concern – the cancer cells seen on the biopsy were aggressive and may have already escaped her prostate. If that was the case, the operation would not cure him. The problem for Dr. Samberg, and for many men with aggressive prostate cancer, was this: If there are cancer cells outside the prostate, how do you find them?

The Food and Drug Administration has now approved a test to locate prostate cancer cells wherever they are. Exuberant cancer specialists have said the test will change the treatment of patients nationwide.

“It’s the most exciting thing about prostate cancer of my life,” said Dr. Kirsten Greene, director of the urology department at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

The test relies on a radioactive tag attached to a molecule that lodges in prostate cancer cells that have spread to other places in the body and can seed new tumors. Once labeled, clusters of cells appear as bright spots on PET scans.

At this time, the FDA approval only applies to tests performed at the University of California at San Francisco and the University of California at Los Angeles, which have conducted clinical trials. But several companies hope to market similar tests soon.

“It’s absolutely fabulous,” said Dr Oliver Sartor, professor of medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine. When he learned the test had been approved, he said, he danced in his office “and toasted the imaginary champagne”.

Now, specialists hope to use this technique to kill cancer cells, not just find them. The idea is to attach a radioactive drug to the molecule that searches for prostate cancer cells. The molecule will deliver the drug directly to these cells and, hopefully, the radiation will destroy the cancer. Experiments have already started at UCSF and UCLA

The road to the new test has been long. Almost 30 years ago, researchers discovered that prostate cancer cells carried a unique protein on their surface called the prostate-specific membrane antigen, or PSMA.More recently, researchers discovered small molecules that could concentrate on the PSMA

Scientists speculated that radioactive tracers attached to these molecules could make prostate cancer cells visible on PET scans. In 2010, researchers at the University of Heidelberg in Germany published the first images of prostate cancer cells located in this way.

Over the past four years, studies of approximately 1,000 patients by Dr. Jeremie Calais, nuclear physician at UCLA, and Dr. Thomas Hope, nuclear physician at UCSF, have shown that the analysis detected with precision prostate cancer cells anywhere in the body. before treatment and even after treatment, when cancer may come back.

Research has led to treatment changes for most patients, including decisions to recommend targeted radiation therapy, guided by scans, rather than chemotherapy or androgen-blocker therapy, treatments that impact everyone. body.

Dr Hope described two situations in which PET scans can transform treatment decisions.

Most men find out they have prostate cancer when a simple blood test reveals high levels of prostate specific antigen, or PSA. The next step is a prostate biopsy and removal of the cancer cells for examination to see how aggressive they appear.

Men often have MRI scans to see if the capsule surrounding the prostate has been punctured – a sign that the cancer has come out. And doctors consider how high the PSA levels are. The higher they are, the more cancer there is in the body and the more it spreads.

The second scenario occurs after a man has had his prostate removed or destroyed by radiation. If the patient’s PSA levels start to rise months or years later, the cancer the doctors thought it cured had already spread elsewhere in the man’s body.

In either case, “we know they have the disease, but we don’t know where it is,” said Dr. Hope. The new analysis seems able to show doctors where to look. Researchers are currently conducting studies to see if these treatment revisions ultimately extend the lives of patients.

Dr. Samberg, who lives in Sacramento, was one of the participants in the UCSF trial. Before her scheduled prostatectomy, the exam revealed cancer cells in her bones and lymph nodes. “It was shocking,” he said.

Without the new test, doctors would have removed Dr Samberg’s prostate and found he still had cancer when his PSA levels started to rise. In such a case, doctors usually irradiate the area where the prostate was – the prostate bed, which is the site of remaining cancers a little more than half the time.

For Dr. Samberg, this procedure, like the prostatectomy, would not have helped. “Standard therapy for me would fail,” he says. Instead, the discovery that her cancer was in her bones and lymph nodes pointed to targeted radiation therapy, hormone therapy and, more recently, immunotherapy.

“I am in complete remission,” said Dr Samberg. “I hope this will make a difference in the long run.”

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In trying a diverse administration, Biden finds that the gain of one group is the loss of another

WASHINGTON – The head of the NAACP issued a blunt warning to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. when Mr Biden met with civil rights leaders in Wilmington this week.

The appointment of Tom Vilsack, a former secretary of agriculture in the Obama administration, to re-head the department would anger black farmers and threaten Democratic hopes of winning two Senate rounds in Georgia, Derrick Johnson told Mr. Biden.

“Former Secretary Vilsack could have a disastrous impact on voters in Georgia,” Johnson warned, according to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by The Intercept. Mr Johnson said Mr Vilsack’s sudden dismissal of a popular black department official in 2010 was still too brutal for many black farmers despite Mr Vilsack’s subsequent apology and offer to rehire her.

Mr. Biden quickly ignored the warning. Within hours, his decision to appoint Mr Vilsack as head of the Agriculture Department had fled, angering the very activists he had just met.

The episode was just one part of a concerted campaign by activists to call on the president-elect to keep his promise that his administration “will be like America.” At their meeting, Mr Johnson and the group also urged Mr Biden to appoint a black attorney general and appoint a “civil rights czar” to the White House.

The pressure on the Democratic President-elect is intense, even as his efforts to ensure ethnic and gender diversity already go far beyond those of President Trump, who has not made diversity a priority and has often chosen his senior officials because they seemed to play the part. And it comes from all sides.

When Mr. Biden appointed the first black man to lead the Pentagon this week, women cried foul. LGBTQ advocates are disappointed that Mr. Biden has yet to appoint a prominent member of their community to his cabinet. Latino and Asian groups are looking for some of the same jobs.

Allies of the president-elect note that he has already made history. In addition to appointing retired General Lloyd J. Austin III, to be the first black secretary of defense, he chose a Cuban immigrant to head the Department of Homeland Security, the first female secretary of the Treasury, a black woman Housing and City Development Department and the son of Mexican immigrants to serve as secretary of health and social services.

But the deployment of Mr. Biden’s cabinet and White House choices created angst among many elements of the party. While some say he appears crippled by interest groups, others point out that his top picks included four white men who are close confidants to serve as chief of staff, secretary of state, adviser to the National Security and his senior political adviser, leaving the impression that for the administration’s most critical jobs, Mr Biden planned to lean on the same aid cadre he has held for years.

“Further dismay,” said the head of an advocacy group in Washington of Mr. Biden’s initial choices.

Glynda C. Carr, president of Higher Heights for America, a political action committee dedicated to electing progressive black women, said there was a sense of defeat that Mr Biden did not award positions keys in his closet to black women, as the group had hoped.

Susan Rice, a black woman who served as a United Nations ambassador and national security adviser in the Obama administration, had been considered a candidate for secretary of state. Instead, she will become the director of Mr. Biden’s Home Policy Council, a position that does not require confirmation from the Senate. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge of Ohio, another black woman, was dismissed from the post of agriculture secretary, the post she and her allies had claimed, and was appointed instead as housing secretary and urban development.

Rather, jobs in the state and in agriculture fell to white men.

“For me, I would definitely want Susan Rice to be part of the team rather than not being part of the team,” Carr said, but it was “disappointing” to see Ms. Rice in a position that was not at cabinet level. “We have to keep pushing,” she added.

Women’s groups were also disappointed with Mr Biden’s decision to choose General Austin as Secretary of Defense over Michèle Flournoy, a longtime senior Pentagon official who had been seen as the main candidate for the post since. months.

It didn’t help Mr. Biden’s case with women that he also chose Xavier Becerra, the Attorney General of California, as the Health and Human Services Secretary to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, who was chosen as a likely candidate for the post. just days before his death.

The choice of General Austin also hasn’t appeased civil rights leaders like Reverend Al Sharpton, who is adamant about the need for a black attorney general, or at least someone with experience in enforcement. voting rights.

In an interview after his meeting with Mr Biden, Mr Sharpton said bluntly when he would feel confident that the president-elect has kept his promise of diversity.

“If we get a real attorney general who has credible experience on civil rights and the enforcement of voting rights,” he said. “If we get a credible person with real experience in the field of work and education, then I would be willing to say that I am ready to accept some defeats or setbacks” in other positions.

Mr Sharpton has also made it clear who he will not accept. He said black activists would not support any position for Rahm Emanuel, the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama whose legacy he condemns as mayor of Chicago due to Mr. Emanuel’s handling of the Laquan murder. McDonald, a black teenager, in 2014 by a police officer.

Other activists are also determined to prevent the president-elect from appointing people he sees as too conservative and too timid in the face of racial injustices or too tied to the corporate world.

This month, a group of more than 70 environmental justice groups wrote to Biden’s transition team to urge the president-elect not to name Mary Nichols, California’s climate change regulator and one of the officials. most experienced climate change activists in the country, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We would like to draw your attention to Ms Nichols’ grim record in tackling environmental racism,” the groups wrote, saying she pushed California’s cap-and-trade program to cut greenhouse gases. greenhouse at the expense of local pollutants, which minority communities.

People close to the transition say Ms Nichols could end up losing her job to Heather McTeer Toney, an EPA regional administrator in the Obama administration, who is a top pick for Liberal activists and is said to be the second black woman to run the agency.

Adam Green, founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said liberal organizations were largely happy with some of Mr. Biden’s choices, including Ron Klain, one of his longtime advisers, as chief of staff and Janet L. Yellen, a past president. from the Federal Reserve, to be Secretary of the Treasury.

But he said Mr Biden had not selected any champion of the progressive movement, adding: “Those who are at the tip of the spear so far are not in the greatest positions.”

And candidates like Mr Vilsack, who Mr Green accused of having too many ties to big farm companies, are a disappointment, he said.

“There are so many opportunities with farming, especially if we’re going to make gains in the Midwest,” he says. But that would require a secretary ready to “fight for family farmers against big agriculture”.

As Mr. Biden ponders his choices for Home Secretary, a coalition of Democrats, Native Americans, liberal activists and Hollywood celebrities urge him to appoint Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico, a Native American , instead of Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico. and a longtime friend of Mr. Biden.

On Thursday evening, a group of liberal activists, including the Sunrise Movement, one of the most prominent groups on the left, wrote to Mr Udall, who is white, urging him to withdraw from the race for a job he his father, Stewart L. Udall, had under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

“It would not be fair for two Udalls to head the Home Office, the agency responsible for managing the nation’s public lands, natural resources and handing over responsibilities to tribes, before a single Native American,” they wrote. .

On Capitol Hill, progressive Democratic lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, are reserving judgment on Mr. Biden’s choices.

“I think one of the things I look for when I see all of these choices put together is, what’s the agenda?” she told reporters.

When meeting with activists, Biden bristled at the idea that his appointments suggest he is not pursuing a progressive agenda.

“I don’t wear a tampon on my head saying, ‘I’m progressive and I’m AOC,’” Mr Biden said, referring to Ms Ocasio-Cortez. “But I have more experience than anyone in the United States Congress.”

The comments reflect what people familiar with the thinking of Mr. Biden say is his growing frustration with public and private pressure campaigns.

But promises made to interest groups during his campaign are not usually forgotten.

Alphonso David, president of Human Rights Campaign, a group dedicated to advancing the interests of the LGBTQ community, said Mr. Biden assured him months ago that an LGBTQ person would be appointed to a position at the LGBTQ level. cabinet requiring Senate confirmation – which has never happened.

“It’s a big hurdle to break. we have to make sure that all communities are represented, ”said David. Like other activists, Mr. David was hesitant to pass judgment on Mr. Biden until he had finished choosing his cabinet.

“It’s still too early to tell,” he said. But he added a warning Mr. Biden has heard too often in recent days.

“If we don’t have the diversity of representation that Joe Biden promised and that we are looking for,” he said, “there will be a huge disappointment.”

Yet defenders of the president-elect are also blunt.

“He chose the first woman and the first black vice president. First female secretary of the Treasury. First Black Defense Secretary, ”said Philippe Reines, a veteran Democrat and former senior advisor to Hillary Clinton. “But if they can’t trust Joe Biden to keep doing the right thing and looking to pick the cabinet, they should do what he did: run for office and win the presidency.”

Luke broadwater, Coral Davenport, Lisa Friedman and Katie glueck contribution to reports.

Travel News

Michèle Flournoy finds her chance again at the elusive Pentagon summit

Instead, she became a senior advisor to the Boston Consulting Group, then co-founded WestExec Advisors, a consulting firm. Her second shot at the post was scuttled when Hillary Clinton – who was widely supposed to name her – lost the presidential election in 2016.

Ms Flournoy was known to move seamlessly between the civilian and active sides of the Pentagon, bridging the often impenetrable gap between those in uniform and those in costume – a skill some fear losing with a retired general in the role. She did so, her fans said, by translating the political imperatives of civilians in the military world to active duty and by carefully helping the civilian side understand the practical needs and limitations of the military to see through the objectives. policies of elected officials.

“She’s incredibly talented, and the last thing I think about is she’s a woman,” said Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time of the build-up. of Afghanistan, which she helped defend to Obama. White House. “From my point of view, that’s a good thing.”

Yet among the women who toil in the national security trenches, an area where men – and what Ms. Flournoy often calls their “mini-mes” who succeed them – have historically dominated, Ms. Flournoy is widely seen as a mentor. essential.

“An entire generation of women in national security used her as a role model to handle a male-dominated job,” said Representative Elissa Slotkin, Democrat of Michigan, who also worked for Ms. Flournoy. “The lesson she taught women is to always be the best prepared in the room. I learned this literally from her, and now I pass it on to the young women who work for me.

Celeste Wallander, president of the American-Russian Foundation, is one of dozens of women who see Ms. Flournoy as essential to their professional success. Ms Wallander recalled a time in 1989 when the two were both academics at Harvard, where Ms Wallander, a very junior, was typically left off the invitation list for dinners and other events with major players in her field. Ms. Flournoy quietly added it to the lists. “I got to meet people because I was at the table now,” said Ms. Wallander.

Ms Flournoy was also popular for her decision, after studying business literature in the workplace, to give exhausted Pentagon staff a ‘scheduled time off’, each covering each other as they took breaks for s ” looking after kids, visiting parents, training a marathon, scheduling dates or whatever they wanted.

Travel News

Army finds “major flaws” at Fort Hood; 14 disciplined officials

DALLAS – More than a dozen army officials fired or suspended as part of a large-scale climate and cultural investigation at Fort Hood, a major Texas military base that has been rocked by complaints of sexual harassment, intimidation and violence, officials said Tuesday. army.

The investigation revealed “major flaws” at Fort Hood and a climate of command “which permitted sexual harassment and assault,” said Ryan D. McCarthy, Secretary of the Army. He ordered the dismissal or suspension of 14 public servants and promised sweeping reform that would extend far beyond Fort Hood to affect more than a million soldiers and army civilians across the country.

“This report, without a doubt, will lead the military to change our culture,” McCarthy said at a press conference announcing the results of the investigation.

The investigation came in response to the murder of Vanessa Guillen, a 20-year-old army specialist who told friends and fellow soldiers that she was sexually harassed before she disappeared in April. Her remains, burned and dismembered, were found in June and authorities said she was killed at the base by a fellow soldier who later committed suicide.

The horror of his murder left the military in shock and called attention to the unusually high number of homicides, suicides and accidents that have made Fort Hood one of the largest military bases of the country, one of the most troubled.

For the 36,500 soldiers of Fort Hood, the homeland was deadlier than the battle front. Since January 2016, there have been more than 150 non-combat deaths of soldiers at Fort Hood, including at least seven homicides and 71 suicides.

The soldiers, men and women, described a culture of sexual harassment and intimidation at the base in Killeen, TX.

In August, the body of Sgt. Brother N. Fernandes, 23, was found hanging from a tree about 30 miles from Fort Hood. His family said he reported a sexual assault by a supervisor and suffered retaliation for speaking out.

Specialist Guillen’s case attracted special attention, spurring artistic murals, makeshift memory sites, and the attention of Congress and the White House.

Specialist Guillen, who was Latina, grew up in Houston and had dreamed of joining the military since childhood, when she would play with her brother’s toy gun, family members have said. Young and athletic, she enlisted in the army at 18.

She later told friends and fellow soldiers that she had been sexually harassed, although officials said she had not made any formal complaints.

She went missing on April 22, and her dismembered and burnt remains were found in June. Federal investigators said a soldier in his unit, Specialist Aaron D. Robinson, hit her on the head with a hammer and he and his girlfriend dismembered and burned her.

Specialist Robinson then committed suicide as police approached him, authorities said. His girlfriend, Cecily Aguilar, faces a charge of conspiracy to tamper with evidence.

David Montgomery contributed reporting from Austin, Texas.

Impacting Travel

Study Finds Top Travel Concern During COVID-19

A new study found that the biggest concern for travelers related to the coronavirus is flying.

According to research by JD Power, 37 percent of respondents were more concerned about contracting the coronavirus from other travelers on a plane, compared to just six percent at the destination or two percent at the hotel.


Being a trend now

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

Previous research found that respondents feel safer when they can control their immediate personal space, such as disinfecting surfaces within reach, wearing masks, and ensuring adequate distance from other travelers.

When asked which security measures are most important at airports, the overwhelming main response was mandatory face covering for all travelers and employees. Improving cleaning practices was also a popular response.

The study found that travel providers who advertise their coronavirus mitigation efforts are being rewarded. Respondents who reported hearing about almost any type of procedural change related to COVID-19 rewarded the brand with increased loyalty.

While the impact of the coronavirus on travel is undeniable, JD Power reported that satisfaction has increased at airports during the pandemic. The research also showed that 24 percent of those surveyed said they weren’t worried about getting COVID-19.

For a complete list of state travel restrictions, requirements, and information ahead of the busy winter vacation travel period, check out TravelPulse’s COVID-19 Mandate List.