Tag Archives: protect

Martin Lewis advises EXACT thing to do to protect yourself BEFORE your provider goes bust

MARTIN LEWIS appeared on This Morning today to answer viewers’ questions about the latest changes in energy bills. The UK currently faces an energy bills crisis following high demand for gas and a reduced supply. This has caused a surge in wholesale prices.

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Knight: England must protect ‘warrior’ Brunt

Watch the fourth ODI between England Women and New Zealand Women live on Sky Sports Cricket from 12.30pm on Thursday, with over-by-over commentary and in-play clips on the Sky Sports App and skysports.com

Last Updated: 22/09/21 3:40pm

England's Katherine Brunt celebrates bowling New Zealand's Suzie Bates during the third ODI

England’s Katherine Brunt celebrates bowling New Zealand’s Suzie Bates during the third ODI

England captain Heather Knight says Katherine Brunt’s workload will be carefully managed ahead of next year’s Ashes and 50-over World Cup defence.

Brunt, 36, top-scored with 49 not out and then took 4-22 in Tuesday’s third ODI to turn what could have been a White Ferns walkover into a nervy three-wicket win for the tourists.

The seamer left the field at Leicester before the White Ferns completed their chase – having been rested for the second match in the series – and Knight stressed it’s important England keep the leader of their attack in prime condition.

England vs New Zealand

September 23, 2021, 12:30pm

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“She’s a warrior. She brings so much to our side and I think the biggest thing is competitiveness and the high standards that she sets for herself,” Knight said.

“She sets that for everyone else and she drags people with her as well. It brings the best out of people.

“She just had some sore heels as she went off, she’s got plantar fasciitis (pain in the heel and foot arch), so that was the reason she went off.

“Obviously, with all our players, we’re trying to manage them and trying to look after them and Katherine isn’t a spring chicken any more.

“We want to get her in the best possible place early next year, because she’s going to be a huge part of us being successful, hopefully, in Australia and New Zealand.

“She has a lot of characteristics – resilience is a huge one as well. The way she’s come back from two pretty serious back injuries, two back surgeries, and she’s always willing to put herself and our body on the line for the interests of the team.”

The best of the action from the third ODI between England and New Zealand

The best of the action from the third ODI between England and New Zealand

The best of the action from the third ODI between England and New Zealand

England lead the five-match series against New Zealand 2-1 with two to play, but are hoping to put right some slack batting which has seen them bowled out inside 50 overs on all three occasions to date – starting with Thursday’s fourth ODI at Derby.

“As a top-order, we’re pretty disappointed at not being able to put together a total and leaving the tail with a lot to do,” Knight reflected.

“So it’s a bit frustrating but we know with the talent that we’ve got in that batting line-up, we know we’ve got to find a way to turn it around quickly. We really have to take responsibility to be the ones to score those runs.

“Partnerships is a big word – we’ve lost wickets in clusters throughout this series and we need to find a way to be a little bit better.

“We’ve identified that when we sometimes bat first that we want to be a lot better on tougher wickets and find a way to push past that 250-mark consistently – and when the pitch is really good to go way past it. We need to be better as a batting group.”

Watch the fourth ODI between England Women and New Zealand Women live on Sky Sports Cricket from 12.30pm on Thursday.

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Vital Protective Mechanism Discovered: Dying Cells Protect Their Neighbors To Maintain Tissue Integrity

Artistic rendering of dying cells protecting their neighbors to maintain tissue integrity. Holes in epithelium created by uncoordinated cell death are shown in purple. Credit: © Institut Pasteur / Léo Valon et Romain Levayer

Cells undergoing cell death protect their neighbors to maintain tissue integrity.

To enable tissue renewal, human tissues constantly eliminate millions of cells, without jeopardizing tissue integrity, form, and connectivity. The mechanisms involved in maintaining this integrity remain unknown. Scientists from the Institut Pasteur and the CNRS recently revealed a new process that allows eliminated cells to temporarily protect their neighbors from cell death, thereby maintaining tissue integrity. This protective mechanism is vital, and if disrupted can lead to a temporary loss of connectivity. The scientists observed that when the mechanism is deactivated, the simultaneous elimination of several neighboring cells compromises tissue integrity. This lack of integrity could be responsible for chronic inflammation. The results of the research were published in the journal Developmental Cell on June 2, 2021.

Human epithelia are tissues found in several parts of the body (such as the epidermis and internal mucosa). They are composed of layers of contiguous cells that serve as a physical and chemical barrier. This role is constantly being put to the test by both the outside environment and their own renewal. Tissue renewal involves the formation of new cells by cell division and the elimination of dead cells. The mechanisms that regulate the ability of epithelia to maintain their integrity in contexts involving large numbers of eliminated cells remain poorly understood, despite the fact that this situation occurs regularly during embryogenesis or the maintenance of adult tissues. For example, more than ten billion cells can be eliminated every day in an adult intestine. How are these eliminations orchestrated to maintain tissue integrity and connectivity?

Scientists from the Institut Pasteur and the CNRS set out to identify the mechanisms involved in epithelial integrity and the conditions that can affect epithelial connectivity by using Drosophila (or vinegar flies), an organism studied in the laboratory with a similar epithelial architecture to humans.

Using protein-sensitive fluorescent markers, the research team revealed that when a cell dies, the EGFR-ERK pathway – a cell activation signaling pathway known for its involvement in the regulation of cell survival – is temporarily activated in the neighboring cells. The scientists observed that the activation of the EGFR-ERK pathway protected neighboring cells from cell death for approximately one hour, thereby preventing the simultaneous elimination of a group of cells. “We already knew that this pathway plays a key role in regulating cell survival in epithelial tissue, but we were surprised to observe such protective dynamics between cells,” comments Romain Levayer, Head of the Cell Death and Epithelial Homeostasis Unit at the Institut Pasteur and last author of the study.

Drosophila Pupa Epithelium

A Drosophila pupa epithelium showing cell contours (gray) and the reporter of the EGFR-ERK pathway (yellow/purple gradient). Credit: © Institut Pasteur / Romain Levayer et Léo Valon

The scientists’ research also shows that inhibiting this protective mechanism has a drastic effect on epithelial tissue: cell elimination becomes random and neighboring cells can be eliminated simultaneously, leading to repeated losses of connectivity. The elimination of groups of neighboring cells is never observed in epithelial tissue in normal conditions, when the EGFR-ERK pathway is not deliberately inhibited, even if a large number of cells are eliminated.

By using a new optogenetic tool that can control cell death in time and space and bypass the protective mechanism, the scientists confirmed that epithelial integrity was compromised when neighboring cells were eliminated simultaneously. “Surprisingly, epithelial tissue is highly sensitive to the spatial distribution of eliminated cells. Although it can withstand the elimination of a large number of cells, epithelial integrity is affected if just three neighboring cells are eliminated simultaneously,” explains Léo Valon, a scientist in the Cell Death and Epithelial Homeostasis Unit at the Institut Pasteur and first author of the study.

The scientists’ observations confirm that tissues need to develop mechanisms preventing the elimination of neighboring groups of cells. “These observations are important as they illustrate the incredible self-organizing ability of biological tissues, a property that enables them to withstand stressful conditions. So there is no need for a conductor to orchestrate where and when the cells should die; everything is based on highly local communications between neighboring cells,” adds Romain Levayer.

This process seems to have been conserved during evolution. The same protective mechanism based on local EGFR-ERK activation was discovered independently in human cell lines by the research group led by Olivier Pertz at the University of Bern in Switzerland (the results are published in the same journal2). The results of the other study suggest that the protective mechanism is conserved between species separated by hundreds of millions of years, indicating that it is a relatively universal mechanism.

Future research will reveal whether disruption to this cell death coordination mechanism and repeated loss of connectivity in epithelial tissue could be one of the roots of chronic inflammation, a phenomenon responsible for various diseases that are currently among the leading causes of death worldwide.

Distribution of cell deaths in a Drosophila epithelium:

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Development of the Drosophila pupa epithelium showing the location of all cell deaths (colored dots). The cell contours are shown in gray. Credit: © Institut Pasteur / Léo Valon et Romain Levayer

Activation of the EGFR-ERK pathway in neighboring cells:

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Activation of the EGFR-ERK pathway in the neighbors of a cell extruded from the tissue. The reporter on the left is excluded from the nucleus when the pathway is activated (the eliminated cell is circled in green). Activation can also be viewed by other pathway sensors (the FRET sensor – red for strong activation. Credit: © Institut Pasteur / Romain Levayer et Léo Valon


  1. “Robustness of epithelial sealing is an emerging property of local ERK feedback driven by cell elimination” by Léo Valon, Anđela Davidović, Florence Levillayer, Alexis Villars, Mathilde Chouly, Fabiana Cerqueira-Campos and Romain Levayer, 2 June 2021, Developmental Cell.
    DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2021.05.006
  2. “Collective ERK/Akt activity waves orchestrate epithelial homeostasis by driving apoptosis-induced survival” by Paolo Armando Gagliardi, Maciej Dobrzyński, Marc-Antoine Jacques, Coralie Dessauges, Pascal Ender, Yannick Blum, Robert M. Hughes, Andrew R. Cohen and Olivier Pertz, 2 June 2021, Developmental Cell.
    DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2021.05.007

This research project was supported by the European Research Council (ERC), a Marie Skłodowska-Curie post-doctoral fellowship, the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (FRM) et the Cercle Fondation Schlumberger pour l’Education et la Recherche (FSER), R.Levayer 2019 laureate.

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This post originally posted here The European Times News

The country must do something ‘dramatic’ to protect the US against Covid-19, an expert says

“We’re seeing this because the public misunderstood the CDC guidance for fully vaccinated people as ‘We can now do whatever we want. Even if we are unvaccinated, we can now behave as if we are vaccinated,'” CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday.
Covid-19 cases are surging in nearly every state with the average of new cases at least 10% higher than a week ago — and 38 states are seeing at least a 50% increase, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Many experts have attributed the rise to slowing vaccination rates with only 48.3% of the US population fully vaccinated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Arkansas, where only 35.1% of the population is fully vaccinated, the Delta variant has had a big impact, Chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Cam Patterson said, adding hospitals are “full right now and cases are doubling every 10 days.”
And emergency response services in the state say there are receiving a record number of calls due to the rise in the virus, according to CNN affiliate KATV.
In Missouri, one local health department has asked the state to fund staffing and a location for a Covid-19 care site to handle to rise in severe cases, according to a statement from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.
There is still hope for avoiding a fall spike, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, if enough people get vaccinated. But, if the trend in rising cases continues, cities and states could implement travel restrictions for unvaccinated travelers, she told ABC’s Good Morning America.
“I think now is our moment to really double down on our vaccination efforts and our other prevention interventions,” she said. “We still have to send the same messages as we did last year,” Walensky said.
In an interview on NBC Nightly News, Walensky said that with case rates rising, vaccination rates declining and the Delta variant spreading, things could continue to get worse in the pandemic.
In California, Los Angeles County — the nation’s largest county with a population of 10 million people — has responded to a surge in cases and hospitalizations by reinstating a mask mandate beginning Saturday.
“Right now is the time for locales to follow LA county’s lead,” Wen said.
A patient arrives at the Jordan Valley Community Health Center in Springfield, Missouri,  on July 12, 2021

Colleges and universities requiring vaccinations

Some businesses and hospitals have already required their employees to be vaccinated, and now some universities are implementing requirements as well.
Rhode Island has become the first state where all public and private colleges and universities require their students to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus this fall, Governor Dan McKee announced this week.
Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Rhode Island’s director of health, said in the state’s news release that vaccinations are “key” to having a successful academic year.
“We cannot let our guard down now,” Scott said. “The Delta variant is now circulating in parts of the country where many of our students live. The good news is that the vaccines provide protection against this variant. Anyone who has not been vaccinated should get vaccinated today.”
And the University of California, the nation’s largest public university system, said it plans to mandate that all students, faculty and staff be fully vaccinated before returning to campuses in the fall. Those who are not exempt from receiving the vaccine will be barred from in-person classes, activities, and housing, UC officials announced Thursday.
Experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have said that local vaccine mandates could be helpful in protecting the US from further surge. And such mandates could become easier for private companies as vaccines move further along.
An average of about 343,000 people are becoming vaccinated each day, a pace less than a quarter of the rate two months ago, when more than 1.3 million people were becoming vaccinated each day.
“Getting full approval — getting out of the emergency use authorization and into full approval — is something that will clear up any legal questions that private employers may have,” former US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday.
With so many people hesitating or resisting the vaccine and vaccination rates dropping, restrictions to work and school may be key to motivating the public to reach the necessary threshold to slow or stop the spread., experts have said.

Misinformation costing lives

Meanwhile, key reasons for the hesitancy around Covid-19 vaccines are mistrust and misinformation, according to a CNN analysis of data from the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.
Nearly half of people who said they will “definitely” or “probably” not get a Covid-19 vaccine cited mistrust in the vaccines as a reason for not getting vaccinated, according to the latest data, published Wednesday and based on survey responses from June 23 to July 5. That’s an increase from about a month ago, when 46% of people who said they did not plan to be vaccinated gave the same reason.
And in the latest survey, more than a half of people who said that they “definitely” or “probably” would not get a Covid-19 vaccine because they were concerned about side effects, up from 49% about a month ago.
“Millions of people don’t have access to accurate information right now, because on social media platforms and other tech platforms we’re seeing the rampant spread of misinformation, and it’s costing people their lives,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Much of that information frequently comes out of people with good intent, he added, saying that they think they are spreading helpful information, but that often misinformation spreads more quickly than accurate information.
Conversations in social circles may be a big part of the solution, he added.
“It’s about peers talking to peers,” Murthy said during a Stanford University panel event on Thursday. “Remember, all of these conversations first start with listening… so try to understand where somebody is coming from, why they may be worried. It may not always be what you think.”

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This post originally posted here CNN.com – RSS Channel – HP Hero

PS5 and PS4 warning: Sony urges PSN users to take steps to protect their accounts

PS5 and PS4 gamers have been been advised to make sure their PSN accounts are protected by Two Factor Authentication (2FA). Last month reports emerged that an alleged data breach was causing PlayStation 3 console IDs to be leaked, which was leading to some users being banned. It was claimed millions of PS3 gamers could have been affected by this alleged breach.

And in the aftermath of these reports emerging an official PlayStation Twitter account has given some security advice.

As reported by Siliconera (via Game Watch), the Ask PlayStation Japan has advised PlayStation gamers to enable Two-Factor Authentication on their accounts.

The @AskPS_JP Twitter said they had received many messages from PSN users who had their accounts hijacked.

And as a result, they were advising PlayStation gamers to activate 2FA on their PSN accounts.

The Ask PlayStation JP Twitter posted: “We have received many inquiries from customers whose accounts have been hijacked.

“As a countermeasure, we recommend setting 2-step verification. Click here for the setting method”.

There is no indication, however, that the reports of account hijacking are linked to the alleged PS3 data breach.

Nor is there any indication the PSN hijacking reports are a sign of Sony’s accounts being breached.

Two-Factor Authentication is an easy way to add an extra layer of security to your logins, and is offered by a wide range of services.

When you log in with your e-mail and password, you will be sent a verification ID to your mobile phone number which also needs to be entered to log in.

This code will only be valid for a limited amount of time, after which you will need to request another two-step code. Here’s how you can set-up two factor authentication on your PSN account.


• Go to Account Management on a connected device and select Security. Next to 2-Step Verification Status, select Edit > Activate > Continue.

• Select how you’d like to receive the verification code: Authenticator App or Text Message


• Go to Settings > Account Management > Account Information > Security > 2-Step Verification.

• Select Activate to switch on 2SV.

• Select how you’d like to receive the verification code: Authenticator App or Text Message


• Go to Settings > Users and Accounts > Security > 2-Step Verification.

• Select Activate to switch on 2SV.

• Select how you’d like to receive the verification code: Authenticator App or Text Message

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This post originally posted here Daily Express

Standard Medical Mask Can Protect Wearer from Aerosols

A standard medical face mask is more effective at preventing the wearer from inhaling aerosols without causing substantial breathing resistance than various cloth, medical, or respirator masks, new research shows.

“Medical face masks with good filtration efficacies can provide even better protective effects than KN95 respirators,” write Christian Sterr, MD, from Philipps University of Marburg in Germany, and his colleagues. “FFP2 respirators, on the other hand, could be useful in high-risk situations but require greater breathing effort and therefore physical stress for users.”

Extensive evidence has shown that face masks are an excellent form of source control, preventing infectious people from spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus into the environment. But evidence has been less clear about how well masks protect the wearer from inhaling particles containing the virus.

The researchers conducted three experiments to test 32 different face masks. The findings were presented at the 31st European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases and published online in PLOS One.

First they tested pressure drop, which “relates to how easily air can pass through the material,” said Chris Cappa, PhD, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Davis, who was not involved with the study.

“Higher pressure drops mean that there is greater resistance to the air passing through. A higher pressure drop will typically mean breathing through the material will be slightly more challenging compared to a low pressure drop. There is no relationship between pressure drop and the mask effectiveness,” he told Medscape Medical News.

Pressure drop was lowest with type II medical face masks, the typical three-ply surgical masks designed to stop large particles expelled by the wearer from entering the environment, was highest with respirators, including KN95 and FFP2 masks, and varied with the different cloth masks tested.

Next the researchers compared filtration efficacy, which “refers to how well the material removes particles from the air that passes through the mask material,” Cappa explained. They did this by placing each mask over the opening to an air collector that measured how many particles got through. “A mask that has 100% filtration efficacy will remove all particles from the air that passes through it and 0% means that no particles are removed.”

Cloth masks had the lowest filtration efficacy, at 28%. Certified face masks that met European Standards (EN) had a relatively high efficacy, at 70%; for uncertified face masks, filtration efficacy was 63%. As expected, KN95 and FFP2 masks had the highest filtration efficacy, at 94% and 98%, respectively.

Most of the particles that we exhale will travel right around a face shield.

Finally, the researchers tested as-worn filtration efficacies. They placed each mask on a dummy head with an artificial airway that collected airborne particles. They then pumped a mixture of aerosol particles — ranging in size from 0.3 to 2.0 µm — and particle-free pressurized air into the air-proof acrylic chamber in which the head was placed.

In this experiment, cloth masks and noncertified face masks were least effective, filtering less than 20% of aerosols. Interestingly, the cloth face mask with the highest filtration on its own (84%) had the lowest filtration efficacy (9%), apparently because of its very high pressure drop (breathing resistance). When more effort is required to breathe through a mask, more air can bypass the filtration system.

Type II medical face masks, however, filtered 47% of aerosols, KN95 masks filtered 41%, and FFP2 masks filtered 65%. Face shields did not prevent the inhalation of any aerosols.

“We know that face shields will only be effective in stopping very large droplets, essentially visible spittle,” Cappa explained. “Most of the particles that we exhale will travel right around a face shield.”

The “optimal mask effect is a combination of high filter performance and low filter resistance,” which applies to most of the FFP2 and medical type II face masks tested, Sterr and his colleagues write. “The type II medical masks in our random sample showed very good as-worn filtration performances with a low additional work of breathing at the same time.”

Although this study showed how well different masks filtered out particles, it could not assess how well different masks prevent actual infection.

“Like any virus, SARS-CoV-2 can only infect people as long as it is viable,” the researchers write. “Moreover, a certain number of viable virus particles need to be inhaled to trigger an infection. Thus, the assessed filtration efficacy may differ from the provided protection rate against SARS-CoV-2.”

In addition, particles containing the virus could dry out while going through the mask and become less infectious. “Even a small reduction in inhaled particles might prevent infection or at least lead to a less severe infection,” they note.

In fact, filtration efficacy does not necessarily indicate how well the mask filters out particles while being worn. “This might be due to the combined effects of mask fit and pressure drop of the mask material and therefore tendency for mask leakage,” the team writes. “High pressure drop results in higher breathing resistance and therefore supports leakage, especially if combined to a loosely fitting mask.”

If the mask does not fit well, then it will only provide moderate protection for the wearer.

These findings are “in line with what we already knew,” Cappa explained. “Even if the mask material filters out nearly all particles that pass through it, as is the case for high-efficiency masks such as N95 and FFP2, if the mask does not fit well, then it will only provide moderate protection for the wearer.”

Although the findings reaffirm the different levels of filtration provided by various cloth masks, they do not “provide any guidance on which types of cloth masks are better or worse,” he said. But they do show that “medical face masks will generally provide more protection to the wearer.”

It’s not surprising that face shields offer little protection from aerosols, Cappa said, but they can provide added protection when worn with a mask.

“A face shield could prevent large droplets that might shoot out when a person coughs or sneezes from depositing on a person’s eye,” he pointed out. And it can help “redirect the plume of particles that an infected person exhales, which could be useful in close quarters. However, even then those particles will keep moving around and could be inhaled. A mask can really help to decrease the amount inhaled.”

The study did not use external funding. The authors and Cappa have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

PLoS One. 2021;16:e0248099. Full text

31st European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID): Abstract 1760.

Tara Haelle is an independent science/health journalist based in Dallas.

For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube

Author: Tara Haelle
Read more here >>> Medscape Medical News

Sister of woman killed in Westchase domestic violence shooting says ‘they failed to protect her’

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — The sister of a woman who was shot four times while holding her 1-year-old son is speaking out after her death.

Since police haven’t identified the victim, we’re not naming the sister, but she said, “She was a really great mother. She died protecting her son, because he was on her hip when she fell. She fell on top of him and he continued to shoot.”

Police say this was a domestic violence incident that happened outside the victim’s Westchase-area apartment Thursday morning.

SEE ALSO: Mother killed, 1-year-old wounded in domestic violence shooting incident in Westchase area

Authorities said the incident started as a domestic dispute. When officials arrived, the woman was in critical condition. Emergency personnel gave administered CPR and were able to identify a pulse, but she died at the hospital.

According to police, a bullet struck the 1-year-old boy’s ankle. He was also transported to Memorial Hermann, where he is stable.

“He’s doing really well. He was shot in the leg, (but) the bullet went in and out,” said the victim’s sister.

While police have not identified the suspect, they say he is the father of the child. Officials said the man was out of jail on seven felony bonds and had an ankle monitor. However, it’s unclear if he was wearing the device at the time of the shooting.

Police were looking for him Thursday afternoon.

“He’s a felon, a menace to society. He’s a person that should not have been walking free,” the sister said.

Court documents show the suspect posted bond on charges, including evading arrest, felon in possession of a weapon, assault bodily injury, and assault of a family member. ABC13 is waiting to hear back from the judge who granted the bond to find out why he would be given yet another bond.

The victim’s sister blames the system, saying, “They failed to protect her. Because she would still be here (Thursday) if he wouldn’t have kept getting out on bond.”

“We wonder what could we have done to prevent this. Once again, we don’t want to put any fault anywhere, however, with the suspect being out on bond for seven major felonies, this could have been prevented,” said HPD Asst. Chief Patricia Cantu.

Now, the victim’s family is hoping for justice, soon.

“Keep us in your prayers… just pray for my nephew,” says the woman.

GET HELP: If you need help getting out of a domestic violence situation, call the Houston Area Women’s Center 24/7 hotline at 713-528-2121 or call AVDA at 713-224-9911. You can also click here to chat with an advocate online. If you are deaf or hard of hearing and need help, call 713-528-3625.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: T.J. Parker
This post originally appeared on ABC13

Carer's allowance can boost NI credits and protect state pension income – full details

To be eligible for carer’s allowance initially, a person must provide 35 hours of care a week which can include helping with cooking, taking the person being cared for to a doctor’s appointment or helping with household tasks.

Claimants must also be aged 16 or over, have been living in England, Scotland or Wales for two of the previous three years and earn £128 or less per week after tax, National Insurance and expenses.

On top of this, claimants must not be in full-time education, studying for 21 hours a week or more to be subject to immigration control.

For those who are not eligible for carer’s allowance, it may be possible to apply for carer’s credit instead.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Finance Feed

Garland Pledges Renewed Efforts to Protect Voting Rights

Republican-led legislatures in several states including Georgia, Florida and Iowa have passed laws imposing new voting restrictions, and Texas, New Hampshire, Arizona and Michigan, among other states, are considering changes to their electoral systems.

At the same time, hopes have dimmed on the left that Congress will pass two major election bills after Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, said he would not support abolishing the filibuster to advance such measures.

Mr. Garland has said that protecting the right to vote is one of his top priorities as attorney general, and his top lieutenants include high-profile voting rights advocates such as Vanita Gupta, the department’s No. 3 official, and Kristen Clarke, the head of the Civil Rights Division. The division currently has about a dozen employees on its enforcement staff, which is focused on protecting the right to vote, according to a department official familiar with the staff.

Despite his pledge, Mr. Garland is still limited in what he can do unless Democrats in Congress somehow manage to pass new voter protection laws. He can sue states that are found to have violated any of the nation’s four major federal voting rights laws. He can notify state and local governments when he believes that their procedures violate federal law. And federal prosecutors can charge people who are found to have intimidated voters, a federal crime.

The Justice Department’s most powerful tool, the Voting Rights Act, was significantly weakened by a 2013 Supreme Court decision that struck down pieces of the act forcing states with legacies of racial discrimination to receive Justice Department approval before they could change their voting laws.

Now the department can only sue after a law has been passed and found to violate the act, meaning that a restrictive law could stand through multiple election cycles as litigation winds its way through the courts.

Any new steps to protect voting rights are unlikely to move quickly, said Joanna Lydgate, a former deputy attorney general of Massachusetts who co-founded the States United Democracy Center. “People will need to be patient,” she said.

Author: Katie Benner, Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

State Bar investigating AG Ken Paxton for misconduct over election lawsuit to protect Trump

Texas Politics

Posted: Updated:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton makes comments during a news conference in Dallas (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

DALLAS (AP) — The Texas bar association is investigating whether state Attorney General Ken Paxton’s failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus claims of fraud amounted to professional misconduct.

The State Bar of Texas initially declined to take up a Democratic Party activist’s complaint that Paxton’s petitioning of the U.S. Supreme Court to block Joe Biden’s victory was frivolous and unethical. But a tribunal that oversees grievances against lawyers overturned that decision late last month and ordered the bar to look into the accusations against the Republican official.

The investigation is yet another liability for the embattled attorney general, who is facing a years-old criminal case, a separate, newer FBI investigation, and a Republican primary opponent who is seeking to make electoral hay of the various controversies. It also makes Paxton one of the highest profile lawyers to face professional blowback over their roles in Donald Trump’s effort to delegitimize his defeat.

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office did not respond to requests for comment. Paxton’s defense lawyer, Philip Hilder, declined to comment.

Kevin Moran, the 71-year-old president of the Galveston Island Democrats, shared his complaint with The Associated Press along with letters from the State Bar of Texas and the Board of Disciplinary Appeals that confirm the investigation. He said Paxton’s efforts to dismiss other states’ election results was a wasteful embarrassment for which the attorney general should lose his law license.

“He wanted to disenfranchise the voters in four other states,” said Moran. “It’s just crazy.”

Texas’ top appeals lawyer, who would usually argue the state’s cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, notably did not join Paxton in bringing the election suit. The high court threw it out.

Paxton has less than a month to reply to Moran’s claim that the lawsuit to overturn the results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin was misleading and brought in bad faith, according to a June 3 letter from the bar. All four of the battleground states voted for Biden in November.

From there, bar staff will take up the case in a proceeding that resembles the grand jury stage of a criminal investigation. Bar investigators are empowered to question witnesses, hold hearings and issue subpoenas to determine whether a lawyer likely committed misconduct. That finding then launches a disciplinary process that could ultimately result in disbarment, suspension or a lesser punishments. A lawyer also could be found to have done nothing wrong.

The bar dismisses thousands of grievances each year and the Board of Disciplinary Appeals, 12 independent lawyers appointed by the Texas Supreme Court, overwhelmingly uphold those decisions. Reversals like that of Moran’s complaint happened less than 7% of the time last year, according to the bar’s annual report.

Claire Reynolds, a spokeswoman and lawyer for the bar, said state law prohibits the agency from commenting on complaints unless they result is public sanctions or a court action.

The bar’s investigation is confidential and likely to take months. But it draws renewed attention to Paxton’s divisive defense of Trump as he and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush vie for the former president’s endorsement in the Republican primary to run for attorney general in 2022.

On the Democratic side, Joe Jaworski, the former mayor of Galveston, has said he’ll run. Moran said Jaworski is a friend but that he played no role in the complaint against Paxton.

Paxton’s election challenge was filled with claims that failed to withstand basic scrutiny. A succession of other judges and state elections officials have refuted claims of widespread voter fraud, and Trump’s own Justice Department found no evidence of fraud that could have changed the election’s outcome.

Nonetheless, Paxton’s lawsuit won him political and financial support from Trump loyalists at a time when fresh allegations of criminal wrongdoing led many in the state GOP to keep their distance from the attorney general.

Last fall, eight of Paxton’s top deputies mounted an extraordinary revolt in which they accused him of abusing his office in the service of a wealthy donor. The FBI is investigating their claims.

Paxton has denied wrongdoing and separately pleaded not guilty in a state securities fraud case that’s languished since 2015. He has also used his office in ways that have benefited allies and other donors.

The new criminal allegations prompted an exodus of the top lawyers from Paxton’s office. But Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins was still serving as Texas’ top appellate lawyer at the time of the election lawsuit.

Although the solicitor general usually handles cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, it was a private Washington D.C.-based lawyer who brought election challenge with Paxton. Hawkins has since moved to private practice. A spokesman for his firm said “we can’t help you” with questions about why he didn’t handle the suit.

This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin