Nation and world news briefs

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Hydroxychloroquine shouldn’t be used at all for COVID-19, medical group says

WASHINGTON — Hospitals should drop using the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine altogether to treat COVID-19 patients, even if it’s in a clinical trial, according to new medical guidelines.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America revised its COVID-19 treatment guidelines Friday, toughening its stance against the use of the anti-malarial drug that has been widely touted by President Donald Trump as a way to deal with the pandemic.

IDSA now recommends not to use hydroxychloroquine either by itself or along with the antibiotic azithromycin for patients with the coronavirus, even in hospitals. The society previously called for limited use of hydroxychloroquine in trials.

“IDSA’s expert guidelines panel concluded that higher certainty benefits (e.g., mortality reduction) for the use of these treatments are now highly unlikely even if additional high quality data would become available,” the group said in a statement.

Earlier, a National Institutes of Health panel recommended against using hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin, unless in a clinical trial, because of an increased risk of cardiac arrest. The agency halted its own clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine in June.

—Bloomberg News


People of color hold small percentage of top jobs in Senate, report finds

WASHINGTON — The Senate has a lot of work to do on bolstering the diversity of its top staffers, a report released Friday by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found.

Although people of color comprise 40% of the total U.S. population, they make up just 11% of the most senior positions in personal Senate offices. The report, written by LaShonda Brenson, considers diversity in three top positions — chief of staff, legislative director and communications director.

Republicans and Democrats fall short when it comes to placing people of color in the top spots, according to the study.

“While Democrats employ more personal office top staff of color than Republicans, both parties have low numbers, and the Republicans’ percentage is closer to their party’s share of voters who are people of color,” the report said.

Black, Hispanic and Asian people are all underrepresented in the Senate compared to their share of the total population, the study found. Hispanic individuals are over 18% of the U.S. population, but make up just 3.8% of top Senate staffers. Black people are more than 13% of the population, but comprise 3.1% of top Senate employees. Asians and Pacific Islanders make up over 6% of the total population, but 2.7% are represented in the most senior Senate staff jobs.

—CQ-Roll Call


Kanye West fails to make Ohio ballot

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Kanye West will not appear on the ballot as an independent candidate for president due to mismatched paperwork, Ohio’s top elections officials said Friday.

The Ohio secretary of state’s office determined the signature and information on West’s nominating petition and statement of candidacy did not match the documents actually used for petitions signed by voters.

“A signature is the most basic form of authentication and an important, time-honored, security measure to ensure that a candidate aspires to be on the ballot and that a voter is being asked to sign a legitimate petition,” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said in a news release. “There is no doubt that the West nominating petition and declaration of candidacy failed to meet the necessary threshold for certification.”

West’s campaign submitted 14,886 signatures and other paperwork earlier this month – he needed 5,000 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters to qualify.

West has qualified for the ballot in Iowa, Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Vermont and has pending petitions in a handful of other states. West’s campaign failed to meet signature requirements in Illinois and withdrew its petition in New Jersey after the validity of signatures was questioned.

His efforts to get on the ballot in Wisconsin and Montana were rejected Thursday.

West will not appear on enough states’ ballots to present a legitimate challenge to President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. That, with the campaign’s ties to Republican operatives, has led many to believe the West campaign is intended to siphon votes from Biden to help Trump.

In Ohio, West’s ballot paperwork was submitted by an associate at Columbus law firm Isaac Wiles, which has done legal work for Ohio House Republicans in recent years.

—The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio


Rashida Tlaib asks US to allow Lebanese nationals to remain in country because of blast

DETROIT — Led by U.S. House Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., 80 members of Congress sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking that Lebanese nationals living temporarily in the U.S. be allowed to remain because of the recent explosion in Beirut.

The letter asks the Department of Homeland Security to designate Lebanon for Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, or Deferred Enforced Departure, or DED, which allows Lebanese visitors of immigrants in the U.S. on a temporary basis the right to stay since they would be exposed to dangerous conditions in their native land. The U.S. has used such designations after natural disasters and other hazardous conditions in nations such as Haiti, El Salvador and Yemen, among others.

This move would “provide a safe haven to Lebanese nationals in the United States in the wake of the Beirut disaster,” Tlaib said in a statement Thursday.

The Wednesday letter said: “We urge you to welcome to our country individuals and families permanently displaced by this disaster through any and all means at your disposal, including humanitarian parole. The United States has long offered shelter to those seeking refuge from catastrophe. To turn away families in desperate need of refuge goes against everything we as Americans stand for.”

Citing media reports, the letter said the Beirut blast “has killed at least 154 people, wounded approximately 5,000, and has left an estimated 300,000 people homeless. … On top of COVID-19 and the economic crisis, the people of Lebanon are now facing a potential widespread food shortage as well as political and social instability arising from the extensive devastation to the capital.”

Michigan has about 57,000 residents with ancestral roots in Lebanon, according to 2018 Census data. Many Lebanese Americans have held vigils in recent weeks and raised money to help Lebanon recover.

—Detroit Free Press