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Possible Failure Point Emerges in Miami Building Collapse

The investigation into what may be the deadliest accidental building collapse in American history has just begun, but experts who have examined video footage of the disaster outside Miami are focusing on a spot in the lowest part of the condominium complex — possibly in or below the underground parking garage — where an initial failure could have set off a structural avalanche.

Called “progressive collapse,” the gradual spread of failures could have occurred for a variety of reasons, including design flaws or the less robust construction allowed under the building codes of four decades ago, when the complex was built. But that progression could not have occurred without some critical first failure, and close inspections of a grainy surveillance video that emerged in the initial hours after the disaster have given the first hints of where that might have been.

“It does appear to start either at or very near the bottom of the structure,” said Donald O. Dusenberry, a consulting engineer who has investigated many structural collapses. “It’s not like there’s a failure high and it pancaked down.”

The early examinations came as rescuers on Sunday spent a fourth day pushing through the enormous heap of debris created when half the 13-story building, Champlain Towers South, fell away early on Thursday. The death toll climbed to nine as additional remains were found, and more than 150 people remained unaccounted for.

While a number of bridges, overpasses and buildings under construction fail each year, the catastrophic collapse of an occupied building — absent a bomb or an earthquake — is rare, and investigators are struggling to understand how it could have come with so little urgent warning.

“It would be like a lightning strike happening,” said Charles W. Burkett, the mayor of Surfside, Fla., where the collapse occurred. “It’s not at all a common occurrence to have a building fall down in America,” he said. “There was something very, very wrong with this situation.”

The National Institute of Standards and Technology, a federal agency, was sending scientists and engineers to do a preliminary review, hoping to identify and preserve materials that might help understand the collapse. Officials said they expected a number of local, state and federal agencies also to be involved in the inquiry, though it was not clear which agency would lead the effort.

The search for an explanation comes with a sense of urgency not only for sister buildings near the complex but also for a broad part of South Florida, where a necklace of high-rise condos, many of them decades old, sits on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, enduring an ever-worsening barrage of hurricane winds, storm surge and sea salt.

Structural engineers were shocked that a building that had stood for decades would abruptly crumble on an otherwise unremarkable summer night.

But three years before the deadly collapse, a consultant found alarming evidence of “major structural damage” to the concrete slab below the pool deck and “abundant” cracking and crumbling of the columns, beams and walls of the parking garage under the building.

While no definitive conclusions could be drawn from the surveillance video, which was shot from a distance and reveals only one perspective of the disaster, some of the engineers reviewing it last week said it seemed to suggest that the failure began at a specific point near the bottom of the structure — perhaps as far down as the parking garage beneath the building, or on the first few floors.

From what can be seen in the video, part of the structure first slumped, seemingly falling vertically in one giant piece, as if the columns had failed beneath the southern edge of the center of the building, not far from the pool. Like a nightmarish avalanche, the failure quickly spread and brought down the entire center of the building. Seconds later, a large section to the east also toppled.

Mr. Dusenberry, whose impressions matched those of several other structural engineers who examined the video, said such a failure “would suggest a foundation-related matter — potentially corrosion or other damage at a lower level.” But he said it was not certain that corrosion was the culprit, and added that “you certainly can’t rule out a design or construction error that has survived for 40 years.”

One other clue that a problem started at the bottom of the building: Immediately before the collapse, one of the residents saw a hole of sorts opening near the pool.

Michael Stratton said his wife, Cassie Stratton, who is missing, was on the phone with him and was looking out through the window of her fourth-floor unit when, she told him, the hole appeared. After that, the call cut off.

Rick De La Guardia, an engineer based in Miami with experience in forensic investigation of building component failures, said that the collapse could have also started higher than the foundation, possibly on the second floor, based on his cursory review of the columns in the floor plans and his review of the video.

Explanations for an initial failure at the bottom of the building could include a problem with the deep, reinforced concrete pilings on which the building sits — perhaps set off by an unknown void or a sinkhole below — which then compromised the lower columns. Or the steel reinforcing the columns in the parking garage or first few floors could have been so corroded that they somehow gave way on their own. Or the building itself could have been poorly designed, built with substandard concrete or steel — or simply with insufficient steel at critical points.

Evan Bentz, a professor of structural engineering at the University of Toronto, said that the best evidence so far had come from the video and some simple reasoning — pointing a finger of suspicion at the supporting columns in the underground parking garage.

“The primary purpose of all the columns in the basement is to hold the structure up in the air,” he said. “Because the structure stopped being held up in the air, the simplest explanation is that the columns in the basement ceased to function.”

The extreme rarity of major building collapses in the United States deepens the mystery, engineers said, especially considering that Champlain Towers South had remained upright for four decades and had no obvious failure before much of it tumbled to the ground.

“It stood for 40 years and it collapsed relatively suddenly,” said Glenn R. Bell, director of Collaborative Reporting for Safer Structures, a program in the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers. “Why did it collapse at that moment?”

The 2018 report from the consultant, an engineer hired by the condo owners’ association to examine the building, helped set in motion plans for a $ 12 million repair project that had been set to start soon — more than two and a half years after the building managers were warned about the structural damage.

The corrosion of reinforcing steel identified in that report could have been a critical issue if it occurred on or near the supporting columns and was pronounced enough, Mr. Dusenberry said.

“If I were an investigator, I would check this as an issue,” he said.

But other structural engineers said that some level of corrosion was common in old buildings and was unlikely to bring a building down on its own.

A crucial clue is still unknown, Professor Bentz said, and “that would probably be found under the debris where the collapse seemed to start.”

The structural fiber of the building was largely reinforced concrete. That means the floor slabs upon which apartments sat were made of concrete that was poured around horizontal lengths of rebar, or stout steel rods, that provided critical strength when the concrete dried. Likewise, the columns that held up the slabs were created by pouring concrete around vertical stretches of rebar.

The corrosion of the rebar in the slabs, as revealed in the 2018 report, was probably significant only if it occurred in places where the slabs joined with the columns, Mr. Dusenberry said. Corrosion there could have weakened the connection to the columns, potentially leading to a failure, he said.

The same idea holds for the reinforced concrete pilings — deeply buried, vertical supports on which the entire building sat, said David Peraza, a structural engineer at Exponent, an engineering and scientific consulting firm.

A previously reported academic study showed that the entire coastline in the area of the building has been settling, or sinking, at the rate of a couple of millimeters a year. But the deep piles would have provided stability, Mr. Peraza said.

Danger would emerge only if there had been something like a void or a sinkhole that had caused one or several piles to settle downward and left the others unchanged. That could have threatened the structure that sat atop those piles: columns in the underground parking garage.

“Whether there’s something geologically under the building that caused this, that’s definitely something that’s got to be investigated,” Mr. Peraza said.

Another possibility is improperly installed piles, he said.

One last theory under consideration is the possibility that heavy construction next door in 2019 could have damaged the Champlain Towers building. An email released by the city on Sunday revealed that a member of the condo board had gone to the city for help at the time, expressing “concerns regarding the structure of our building.”

Town officials declined to intervene, suggesting that the residents hire someone to monitor any impacts.

Clues to any of those problems will be clear only after the rescue operation ends, recovery begins and engineers dig all the way to the bottom of the debris pile, Mr. Peraza said. He added that investigators should also examine construction documents that describe exactly how the piles were built.

Gregg Schlesinger, a contractor and lawyer in Florida, said that cracks and a kind of crumbling in the concrete known as “spalling,” also identified in the 2018 report, should have been a “red flag” if it seemed serious at the time. If that were the case, he said, engineers should have dug deeper to find out what was causing the deterioration.

“There are questions that are relevant around spalling where the concrete falls off of the structural elements,” Mr. Schlesinger said. “But no real research was done into why this stuff was coming off the wall and what was causing that.”

The weeks ahead will involve a meticulous dig to unearth clues that Mr. Dusenberry likened to an archaeological excavation.

Engineers will record each layer photographically, possibly with drones, before moving on to the next.

Collapsed portions of the building will most likely be taken apart piece by piece and reassembled at another location where experts can assess them. They will also do “petrography” on the concrete — studying it chemically and microscopically to test its strength and quality. They will measure the thickness of the slabs and columns and the positioning of the steel to see if it all matches the design drawings.

Donna DiMaggio Berger, a lawyer who represents the condo association, said that members of the association board — the ones who survived — had been left dumbfounded and hoping for answers. Nothing in the 2018 assessment presented to the board had suggested that the building was at risk of collapse, she said, and the board’s “deliberative” approach to doing necessary repairs had been based on the assumption that there was time to do it right.

“The sense of urgency is directly tied to the wording used and the consequences outlined in the report,” Ms. Berger said. “All boards can do is rely on the advice of the professional advisers that they engaged.”

Patricia Mazzei and Joseph B. Treaster contributed reporting.

Author: James Glanz, Anjali Singhvi and Mike Baker
This post originally appeared on NYT > Top Stories

Statins reduce cancer risk by up to 40 percent among heart failure patients, says study

Statins are a group of medicines that can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. LDL cholesterol is often called the “bad” cholesterol because it collects in the walls of your blood vessels, hiking your risk of having a heart attack. Fortunately, statins intercept this process by reducing the production of LDL cholesterol inside the liver. Another major benefit of taking the drug is its ability to reduce cancer risk, says a new study.

Lead researcher Dr Kai-Hang Yiu said: “Our findings should raise doctors’ awareness of the increasing cancer incidence among heart failure patients and encourage them to pay extra attention to non-cardiovascular-related outcomes.

“Moreover, our study highlights the relationship between heart failure and cancer development and provides important information regarding the possibility of reducing cancer incidence and related deaths by using statins in these patients.

“Randomised trials should be carried out to investigate this further.

“In addition, the findings, combined with previous research showing the strong association between heart failure and cancer, call for potential strategies to reduce the risk of cancer, such as screening for cancer in heart failure patients.”

Previous laboratory studies have suggested that lipids including cholesterol play a role in the development of cancer, and that statins inhibit cancer development, said lead author Paul Carter, Cardiology Academic Clinical Fellow at the Department of Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, UK.

He added: “However, no trials have been designed to assess the role of statins for cancer prevention in clinical practice.

“We decided to assess the potential effect of statin therapy on cancer risk using evidence from human genetics.”

In a previous study, genetic variants which mimic the effect of statins through a technique known as Mendelian randomisation in UK Biobank was further analysed.

UK Biobank is a large study of UK residents which tracks the diagnosis and treatment of many serious illnesses.

Researchers were able to compare the risk of cancer in patients who inherit a genetic predisposition to high or low levels of cholesterol and were able to predict whether by lowering one’s cholesterol levels could their cancer risk be reduced too.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Health Feed
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Democrats confront failure on elections strategy

In today’s 50-50 Senate, Democrats would need every single one of their members to vote in favor of any changes to the rules, and there is no sign that’s close to happening.

It gets worse for Biden’s party: Now that the GOP has rejected debating the legislation that would overhaul federal elections, Democrats are without a new strategy to show party activists some momentum before the 2022 midterms. At the moment, the party doesn’t have a backup plan on elections and Democratic senators acknowledged their internal maneuvering over the filibuster has only begun after months of dominating their time in control of Washington.

“There doesn’t seem to be much of a path to getting any Republican votes on voting reforms. So what does that leave?” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “It leaves a conversation in the caucus about whether you want to give Republicans the authority to continue to strip away from people the right to vote.”

Democratic leaders have told members that Tuesday’s vote is only the beginning of the discussion, not the end. And some Senate Democrats took it as a positive sign that all 50 members of the caucus — including Manchin — were united in Tuesday’s vote.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer did not detail next steps during Tuesday’s private caucus meeting, according to an attendee. But later on the floor, he said that Democrats will “have several, serious options for how to reconsider this issue” and “are going to explore every last one.”

Many in his caucus are desperate to find a path forward. “A body that won’t defend itself from an internal attack hardly deserves the name of a U.S. Senate,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). “No consequences for Trump, no impeachment, no censure, no January 6 commission … no agreement on voting rights.”

Potential backup plans after the filibuster include breaking up the elections bill into pieces to force more votes on the GOP or waiting until the fall to push a voting-rights-specific bill. Democrats could also put elections spending in a party-line budget reconciliation bill.

But on Tuesday evening success looked far off, even as Democrats vowed not to give up after Schumer promised that “failure is not an option.” Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters that “the fight is not over.”

In the meantime, the Senate is left with a handful of bipartisan gangs negotiating critical legislation on infrastructure and policing — and a lot of angry progressives who want to exercise their party’s power while they still have full control of Congress.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was among those perplexed by Sinema’s latest defense of minority-party rights in the chamber. While Sinema said the “filibuster compels moderation,” Warren argues that “the filibuster as it’s currently used is giving Republicans a veto.”

“We’re talking about voting, which is a fundamental right, and the friction between rights and a rule that’s not even in the Constitution,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.). “I would hope we would at least consider a rifle shot here of dealing specifically with voting rights and the fact that those should be inviolate.”

Progressives had long viewed the elections bill as the vehicle for Democrats to scrap the legislative filibuster. But Republicans didn’t block a bill this Congress until May 28, instead working with Democrats on water infrastructure, a new hate crimes law and competitiveness legislation. With that in mind, Democratic moderates on Tuesday suggested that despite the GOP blockade on elections legislation, they still aren’t prepared to kill the filibuster.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) demurred when asked if his mind has changed, while Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) predicted that the conversation surrounding the filibuster “will pick up speed.”

“When you talk about something again and again and again in a hypothetical sense, it’s never the same as when you’re actually talking about it and the reality’s upon you,” Hickenlooper said after the vote.

But with such stern opposition from Manchin and Sinema to touching the filibuster rules, it doesn’t appear there’s much incentive for other members of the Democratic caucus to begin calling for easing or elimination of the 60-vote requirement. Sinema has asked for a Senate debate on the legislative filibuster and members of the caucus say the party is likely to have one, albeit internally.

Some Democrats, Manchin included, aren’t going to give up on trying to round up Republican votes for elections legislation. Thus far, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is endorsing a voting rights bill named for the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and said she supports expanding early and absentee voting as well.

Democrats are skeptical that much will come of that.

“Sen. Manchin and several other members of the caucus want to earnestly try to engage Republicans to say: Is there no way that we can work together on voting rights?” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who is close to many Senate Republicans. “I do not see a serious interest or enthusiasm in improving access to the ballot among Republicans.”

Democrats need nine more Republicans to join Murkowski. And GOP leaders say their members are cool to doing so.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has panned a slimmed-down elections bill sought by Manchin. And even more modest reforms are likely to meet the same fate that Democrats’ sweeping bill met on Tuesday.

“I don’t think there’s anything I’ve seen yet that doesn’t fundamentally change the way states conduct elections. It’s sort of a line in the sand for most of our members,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.).

Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) announced that her next step will include field hearings on elections laws, starting in Georgia. Schumer also vowed Tuesday that Democrats would bring up the issue for debate again.

“We will not let it go,” he said. “This voter suppression cannot stand. And we are going to work tirelessly to see that it does not stand.”

Author: Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine
This post originally appeared on Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

Sebastian Vettel asks Pirelli 'Who next?' after Max Verstappen and Stroll tyre failure

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has raised serious concerns to Pirelli, demanding an investigation into their tyres after Aston Martin teammate Lance Stroll and championship leader Max Verstappen suffered high-speed crashes at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Concerns were raised about the tyres after the race after the two very similar crashes in Baku due to a tyre failure, with a full investigation promised by both Red Bull and Pirelli ahead of Paul Ricard.

To add to the worry, Pirelli also revealed Lewis Hamilton’s hard tyre also showing a cut after the race.

Vettel, whose Aston Martin team-mate Stroll was the first to crash, said: “Obviously I was on the safer side because my tyres were fresher than everyone else’s but when Max had the same issue, it was quite clear that… who’s next? That sort of thing.

“I don’t know why but this is not supposed to happen so I think there needs to be a bit of an investigation because it’s probably the worst place of the year you want to have this.

JUST IN:
F1 drivers ‘concerned’ as Sergio Perez asks for Pirelli answers 

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

LIFE: ARNI Does Not Best Valsartan in Advanced Heart Failure

Researchers were astounded to find that in patients with advanced heart failure (HF), the angiotensin-receptor neprilysin inhibitor (ARNI) sacubitril/valsartan was not superior to valsartan for efficacy, tolerability, or safety in the LIFE trial.

Douglas Mann

Compared with patients who received valsartan, those who received sacubitril/valsartan did not have a significantly lower area under the curve (AUC) for change in levels of N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) from baseline through 24 weeks, a surrogate for reverse cardiac remodeling and the primary study endpoint.

“We were surprised and disappointed and stared at the data for a long time, partly in disbelief,” said Douglas L. Mann, MD, during a Late-Breaking Clinical Trial session at the virtual American College of Cardiology 2021 Scientific Session.

Nevertheless, “we know a lot more now about the safety and tolerability and efficacy for this remarkable class of drugs,” said Mann, Lewin Distinguished Professor of Cardiovascular Disease, Washington University, St. Louis.

Although sacubitril/valsartan was approved for patients with New York Heart Association (NYHA) class II to IV heart failure on the basis of outcomes in PARADIGM-HF, only 1% of patients in that trial had NYHA class IV heart failure, so LIFE aimed to shed light on the drug’s use in patients with advanced heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF).

Compared with patients in PARADIGM-HF, “LIFE patients were far sicker, with lower blood pressure, worse renal function, lower LVEF [left ventricular ejection fraction], more atrial fibrillation, and higher baseline NT-proBNP,” Mann pointed out. LIFE had a shorter drug run-in time with lower doses of sacubitril/valsartan, and it compared the ARNI with an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) as opposed to an angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitor (enalapril).

“The results of the LIFE trial are consistent with prior observations that as heart failure advances, chronic excessive activation of RAAS [renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system] blunts or overrides the effect of natriuretic peptides on the heart, vasculature and kidneys,” Mann concluded.

Results “Absolutely Surprising”

In a press briefing, panelist Gurusher Panjrath, MD, director of the heart failure and mechanical circulatory support program, The George Washington University Hospital, Washington, DC, said that the results were “absolutely surprising,” and not what he would have predicted. This was a very good, informative trial that raised more questions that need further investigation, he summarized.

During the Late-Breaking Clinical Trial session, panelist Nancy M. Albert, PhD, said that “since 2014, when PARADIGM-HF was stopped early, and then after FDA approval, we’ve all been excited about using sacubitril/valsartan in daily use, but we’ve had questions about how to use it in advanced heart failure, so we appreciate receiving some answers.”

“As healthcare professionals, what should we be considering when we interpret these results?” Albert, associate chief nursing officer, Office of Nursing Research and Innovation, Cleveland Clinic Health System, asked Mann.

Although the trial was not powered to say whether sacubitril/valsartan “is inferior, superior, or even the same” as valsartan for clinical outcomes in advanced heart failure, Mann said, “if you look at all the outcomes, they consistently favor treatment with valsartan.”

Planned Enrolment Cut Due to COVID

LIFE researchers screened 462 patients at 38 centers and planned to enroll 400 patients. However, because of concerns about patient safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, enrolment was suspended on March 23, 2020, at 335 patients.

Eligible patients had to have NYHA class  IV symptoms, be on or intolerant to guideline-directed medical therapy in the previous 3 months, have an LVEF of 35% or less, a BNP of at least 250 pg/mL or NT-proBNP of at least 800 pg/mL, systolic blood pressure of at least 90 mm Hg, and at least one additional objective finding of advanced heart failure.

The researchers randomized 167 patients to receive sacubitril/valsartan and 168 patients to receive valsartan for 24 weeks.

The patients had a mean age of 59 years, 27% were women, 60% were White, and mean LVEF was 20%.

After a drug run-in phase, the patients entered a 4-week dose-titration phase, followed by a 20-week maximum-tolerated dose phase.

Neither treatment decreased median NT-proBNP levels below baseline through 24 weeks.

The AUC for the proportional change in NT-proBNP levels from baseline through 24 weeks was similar for patients in the two treatment groups (P = .45).

Drug efficacy, tolerability, and safety were similar in the two groups.

Drug efficacy, defined as a composite of days alive out of hospital and free from heart failure events, was 111 days in the valsartan group and 103 days in the ARNI group (= .45).

On average, in each group, patients took 48% of the targeted drug dose, 4% had worsening renal function, and about 15% had hypotension. However, more patients in the sacubitril/valsartan group than in the valsartan group had hyperkalemia (17% vs 9%; P = .035).

A quarter of the patients in each group had premature discontinuation of the study drug, a quarter had syncope or lightheadedness, and 1% of patients in the valsartan group but none in the ARNI group had angioedema.

The risks for cardiovascular (CV) death or heart failure hospitalization, or for heart failure hospitalization alone, were not significantly different in the two groups.

Study limitations include its small size, short duration, and lack of power to detect changes in CV death or HF hospitalizations, HF hospitalizations, CV death, or all-cause death, the researchers note.

Session panelist Biykem Bozkurt, MD, PhD, professor, Medicine-Cardiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, congratulated Mann “on this very important study that raises quite a few questions.”

She asked whether, in class IV heart failure, potentiation of peptides that are substrates for neprilysin, such as angiotensin I and endothelin, could play a role in potential adverse outcomes.

Mann replied that this might be a possible mechanism, but it’s not currently known.

“Another really interesting question is the use of enalapril versus valsartan,” he added. “I realize in overall heart failure trials we consider ARBs and ACE inhibitors to be the same,” but “I don’t know if we can say that in this particular patient population.”

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, with additional support from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation through an investigator-initiated trial program. Mann discloses receiving consultant fees/honoraria from MyoKardia, Novartis, and Novo Nordisk. Panjrath discloses receiving consultant fees/honoraria from CVRx and being on a speaker’s bureau for Pfizer. Albert discloses receiving consultant fees/honoraria from Amgen, AstraZeneca, Boston Scientific, Merck, and Novartis. Bozkurt discloses receiving consultant fees/honoraria from Amgen, Relypsa/Vifor Pharma, and scPharmaceuticals; being on the data safety monitoring board for LivaNova; and having ties to Abbott Laboratories.

American College of Cardiology (ACC) 2021 Scientific Session: Session 410-12. Presented May 17, 2021.

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This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

EU bullies: No wonder 7-year Swiss negotiations ended in failure – vicious tactics exposed

Relations between Switzerland and Brussels are governed by more than 100 bilateral treaties. EU leaders had hoped to simplify this whilst further integrating Switzerland into their economic sphere.

However, Switzerland has now abandoned negotiations with Ignazio Cassis, the country’s foreign minister, saying its conditions were “not met”.

There was particular anger in Switzerland over EU demands for freedom of movement to include the non-employed.

This would entitle them to full access to the Swiss social security system.

David Bannerman, a former Tory MEP, accused Brussels of seeking to bully the Swiss on Twitter.

He commented: “If we think the EU is treating UK aggressively & unfairly, this is what it is doing to Switzerland. Same bullying pattern.

“No wonder the 7 years of negotiations between Switzerland and the EU have now led to failure.”

Mr Bannerman shared an article by Swiss Professor Carl Baudenbacher, former president of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) court, accusing Brussels of seeking to integrate Switzerland within the EU.

EFTA members, including Switzerland, participate in the European single market and accept freedom of movement.

READ MORE: Brexit fury – Ireland fuming as fishermen cut off while France & Spain keep access to UK

“Of course, the intention behind this plan was to set a “point of no return” towards EU membership.”

As a result of Switzerland’s decision, its relationship with the bloc will be downgraded to “third country” status resulting in more trade bureaucracy.

Swiss medical technology firms, which account for three percent of its GDP, will no longer be able to export duty-free to the EU.

The European Commission commented: “We regret this decision, given the progress that has been made over the last years.”

Ignazio Cassis, the Swiss foreign minister, admitted the two sides were unable to reach agreement over immigration.

He said: “For us, EU citizens moving here must have sufficient funds.

“The EU sees it differently, with the Union Citizens’ Directive it goes further than the free movement of workers.”

Switzerland held a national referendum last year on plans put forward by the nationalist Swiss People’s Party.

These would have given Swiss nationals preferential access to jobs and benefits over EU citizens.

It was defeated by 61.7 percent of the vote, with the Swiss government arguing it would damage ties with Brussels.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: World Feed

Toddler suffers kidney failure after eating seagull droppings while out playing in the garden

Author: Vanessa Chalmers
This post originally appeared on Health News – The Sun

A TODDLER has suffered kidney failure which docs said was due to eating seagull droppings while playing in the garden.

Jaydon Pritchard, of Amlwch in Anglesey, Wales, spent 19 days hooked up to a dialysis machine and although is now home, he is “still not out of the woods”.

Jaydon Pritchard, of Amlwch in Anglesey, Wales, spent 19 days in hospital hooked up to a dialysis machine after getting E. coli from eating seagull droppings

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Jaydon Pritchard, of Amlwch in Anglesey, Wales, spent 19 days in hospital hooked up to a dialysis machine after getting E. coli from eating seagull droppingsCredit: Arwel Pricthard/Daily Post

The youngster was diagnosed with an E. coli infection, which can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

Humans can pick up the bug from food or water that is contimated with it.

But Jaydon’s grandfather, Arwel Pritchard, told North Wales Live: “The doctors diagnosed him with kidney failure and told us that he had E. coli poisoning from having ingested the seagull faeces.”

Jaydon’s ordeal started on Tuesday, April 6, when he was taken to the doctor after being unwell for two days.

He was suspected to have a virus by doctors at Ysbyty Gwynedd and sent home to recover, where he lives with grandparents Arwel and Christine and mum Tiffany.

But Arwel said the next day he “didn’t do anything apart from sleep and be sick”.

Later in the evening the family heard a “horrible noise coming from his cot” and were shocked to discover he was having a fit. 

They immediately called for the ambulance, but Jaydon suffered another four fits before he arrived at hospital. 

Arwel said: “It was like he was looking through you. He didn’t recognise anyone.

“There was a point where we really thought we were going to lose him. It was horrific.”

Jaydon was suspected to have a virus and was sent home to recover, where he lives with grandparents Arwel and Christine (pictured) and mum Tiffany

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Jaydon was suspected to have a virus and was sent home to recover, where he lives with grandparents Arwel and Christine (pictured) and mum TiffanyCredit: Arwel Pricthard
Arwel said: "We were fearing the worst at the time, seeing his little body hooked up to the dialysis machine and his face turned yellow"

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Arwel said: “We were fearing the worst at the time, seeing his little body hooked up to the dialysis machine and his face turned yellow”Credit: Arwel Pricthard/Daily Post

What is E. coli and what are the symptoms of infection?

Escherichia coli is a type of bacteria common in human and animal intestines.

While most types of E.coli are harmless some can cause serious food poisoning and infection.

E.coli bacteria is a common cause of cystitis – an infection of the bladder.

Some types of E.coli can cause gastrointestinal infections.

As the bacteria can survive outside of the body, its levels serve as a measure of general hygiene and faecal contamination of an environment.

A common mode of infection is by eating food that is contaminated with the bacteria.

Signs include:

  • Diarrhea, which may range from mild and watery to severe and bloody
  • Stomach cramping, pain or tenderness
  • Nausea and vomiting, in some people

After being rushed to Ysbyty Gwynedd, a team from Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool were sent to pick up Jaydon within a few hours.

In most cases, people recover from E. coli within a week.

But some E. coli strains produce toxins (Shiga toxins) that can cause severe illness, which is extremely rare in England and Wales.

Sometimes these severe cases of E. coli can lead to a life-threatening form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The bacteria lodges in the digestive tract and produces toxins that enter the blood.

These toxins destroy red blood cells and block the kidneys filtering system, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Last summer, Public Health England said it was investigating a spike in Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infections focused in the Midlands.

It said it could be due to warmer weather.

Jaydon is "still not out of the woods" but is doing much better

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Jaydon is “still not out of the woods” but is doing much betterCredit: Arwel Pricthard/Daily Post

Jaydon was hooked up to a dialysis machine which filters waste and fluid from the body when the kidneys are not working. He also received three blood transfusions during his stay.

Arwel said: “We were fearing the worst at the time, seeing his little body hooked up to the dialysis machine and his face turned yellow.”

The ordeal has been “traumatising” for the family.

But Jaydon is doing “much better now than what he was a couple of weeks ago”.

His grandmother said she was “apprehensive” over leaving him in the garden again, where he is suspected to have first eaten the seagull faeces. 

She said: “I clean the patio every day, but it’s difficult because the seagulls are nesting nearby and it’s a constant mess to clean up.

“Poor Jaydon is on all sorts of medications now, we just hope that he’s not suffered any permanent issues. He’s still not himself, he’s still quite grey, but he’s getting there slowly.”

The grandparents issued a warning to others to “make sure that their children are playing in a safe environment, particularly when they’re outside”.

Jaydon faces a series of visits to Ysbyty Gwynedd over the coming weeks before he is taken to Alder Hey again for another check-up.

Liverpool's Champions League failure shows Roberto Firmino isn't Jurgen Klopp's only issue

Lining up against usual-midfielder Federico Valverde at right-back, Mane barely sprung a threat on a night when his side needed him most.

The reigning joint-Golden Boot winner showed glimpses of his former self in the first half, setting up a golden chance after just two minutes that was put straight at Thibaut Courtois by Salah.

But as the game wore on and it became more and important for him to deliver, Mane grew more and more disappointing.

This article originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

‘We turned essential services into a casino,’ energy market expert tells Max Keiser after Texas power-grid failure

A cold snap recently left millions in Texas in the freezing dark. Max Keiser talks with Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s energy program, to understand who’s to blame for the massive power outage.

The Texas energy market is largely not under federal oversight and relies entirely on market forces to have an impact on energy companies’ and power plants’ behavior, the analyst said, on the latest episode of RT’s Keiser Report. “This complete failure to have any sort of regulations or mandates tied with reliability is the cause the energy crisis that Texans experience,” Slocum explained. 

He added that allowing market players to serve households resulted in “predatory” practices. This was seen during the latest winter storm, when electricity providers charged $ 9,000 per megawatt hour, instead of the normal, average price of $ 20 per megawatt hour, according to him.

“We’ve turned essential services into a casino, where a couple of aggressive financial and energy companies are able to exploit these types of situations and make an enormous amount of money,” Slocum said.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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