Saturday, June 5, 2021

May Flower: Broadly Speaking

The entire thing is a $cam:

"Eli Broad’s medical research legacy will ‘touch almost the whole world’" by Bryan Marquard and Jonathan Saltzman Globe Staff, May 7, 2021

Among scientists around the world, Eli Broad’s name will forever be tied to the role the institute he founded played in helping the region emerge from the global pandemic, and the foundation it provided for researchers who are seeking to identify and contain variants of the COVID-19 virus, but Broad, who died April 30, also will be remembered by families, such as the Chakrabartis in Cambridge, for what the Broad Institute of MIT and Cambridge has done on an individual level, bringing the intellectual clout of a major research institute to bear on a rare illness.

Along with his wife, Edythe, Broad provided the funding to launch the Broad Institute and poured more than $1 billion into the venture.

An uncommonly collaborative initiative, the nonprofit institute’s work is far-ranging, beginning with its focus on the genetic links that could reveal the molecular cause of diseases. These are massive, multiyear undertakings, but already, research at the Broad has provided a better understanding of genes linked to cancer and diabetes.

How far will the research by scientists at the institute the Broads helped create eventually reach?

“I can’t imagine that at some point the things they’ve done won’t touch almost the whole world,” said Robert S. Langer, a cofounder of Moderna, the Cambridge biotech that has created one of the COVID-19 vaccines, and an institute professor — the highest honor for an MIT faculty — at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “What they’ve done is outstanding and Eli Broad’s philanthropy allowed that to happen,” but it is the Broad’s more immediate work that has been most visibly felt within the region during the pandemic. It swiftly ramped up a testing regime that became the cornerstone of the region’s response to COVID-19 during the early days of the pandemic.

The inexpensive COVID-19 tests the Broad created made it possible for students to return to some 140 colleges and universities in the Northeast, and the institute is now doing the same for K-12 students in Massachusetts. As of this week, more than 18 million tests have been processed.

Those SARS-CoV-2 viral diagnostic tests on nasal swabs are collected and driven back to the Cambridge headquarters from nursing homes, colleges, health care facilities, homeless shelters, schools, and other organizations.

Who the hell knows what is on those things that poke near your brain.

“We’ve set up this massive testing lab basically out of nothing,” said Stacey Gabriel, senior director of the institute’s Genomics Platform. “When the pandemic hit, we went full force setting up something from scratch, and that took risk. Without having that kind of support from the Broads, we wouldn’t have been positioned to take that on.”

Moreover, Gabriel said the institute “invested early in starting to sequence the COVID virus to try to find those variants of concern you hear about.” The sequencing will help scientists track the spread of variants.

Even before the pandemic, however, the institute had become a major force in the research community.

“Eli Broad’s philanthropy helped make specific scientific discoveries possible, and he also helped bring about a powerful approach to biomedical research, generally,” said Dr. Todd Golub, director of the Broad Institute.

His death is “really a huge loss for the whole world. He was a giant in so many ways,” Golub added.

If so, you can trace his family tree here.

Part of that legacy, Golub said, is that it was clear from the start “that Eli and Edye had faith in early career scientists and young people with big ideas. That’s not always the case. Sometimes there’s the tendency to gravitate toward the most established leaders in the field. Eli and Edye were drawn to really young scientists, sometimes scientists in training who had big, bold ideas.”

The couple previously had been best known for arts and cultural philanthropy in Los Angeles. When they decided to use their wealth for medical research, the Broads initially considered trying to create a powerhouse consortium in California among that state’s universities.

Eli Broad told the Globe in 2003 that they changed their mind during visits to Cambridge and from their conversations with Eric S. Lander, who then directed the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research, which he had founded.

“Edye and I made this gift because we believe that biomedical research is uniquely poised to revolutionize the understanding and treatment of disease,” Broad told the Globe that year, when the Broad Institute was founded with the couple’s first $100 million gift.

Lander, the Broad Institute’s founding director, tweeted that “getting to partner for two decades with Eli and Edye to create and nurture a new kind of collaborative research community — spanning two universities and five hospitals, empowering young scientists to tackle big challenges — was exhilarating. Their biomedical philanthropy, at the Broad and elsewhere, has already had enormous impact and will ultimately affect millions of lives.”

Beyond the national and global impact of Broad’s research philanthropy, before and during the pandemic, his generosity also touched individual lives and families.

Prabal Chakrabarti, a Federal Reserve Bank of Boston executive vice president, learned about the Broad’s cutting-edge work under the most wrenching of circumstances, after his daughter, 7-year-old Sajni, was diagnosed with a rare, inoperable brain tumor — diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG.

Yeah, they ARE all in it together! 

That's why the world is so f**ked up.

Chakrabarti spoke with Lexington biotech Agenus, which agreed to try to make the first personalized immunotherapy vaccine for DIPG, but Agenus first needed someone to quickly do special genomic sequencing of Sajni’s brain tumor. That process is usually time-consuming, but Broad researchers agreed to do the work and completed the sequencing in about a week, just before Christmas in 2016, Chakrabarti recalled.

Sajni ended up getting three infusions of the experimental vaccine. Although it didn’t save Sajni, who died in July 2017, a month before she would have turned 9, “the Broad gave us a shot at that, and I’m grateful to them,” said Chakrabarti.

Since then, the Broad has established the Sajni Chakrabarti Fund for DIPG, which has raised about $250,000, he said. The institute is using the money to test more than 6,000 approved medicines and experimental compounds that the Broad has collected in a “drug repurposing hub” for unrecognized cancer-fighting properties on DIPG cell lines.

“They might have this long-term orientation, but they have people who want to do stuff now,” Chakrabarti said of the Broad’s researchers. “That’s the mark of intelligence. They’re able to work on the now and work on the future at the same time.”

The Broad Institute’s founding mission was to use insights from the Human Genome Project to advance the treatment of diseases.

A cofounder of homebuilding pioneer Kaufman and Broad Inc., Eli Broad later launched financial services giant SunAmerica Inc., and had devoted most of his time to philanthropy for more than two decades.

In Los Angeles, where he had lived for much of his life, Broad and his wife used their fortune to shape the city’s arts and cultural life, financing museums and performance venues there, as well as funding education initiatives that helped schools in California and across the nation.

He told Harvard Magazine in 2003 that he and his wife chose Cambridge as the site for the Broad Institute for the simple reason that “the science is more important than the geography. There is no place in America, or elsewhere in the world, we believe, that has the combined scientific quality and leadership that’s here in Cambridge.”

Pardis Sabeti, a computational biologist and medical geneticist who is an institute member of the Broad and a professor at Harvard University, said the Broads “gave this money that was designed to be catalytic — to allow scientists to go in new directions and stimulate new discoveries, from cancer to infectious disease to heart disease to a lot of immune disorders and beyond, to allow new fields of study to be born.”

The uniqueness of the institute is such that for those who work there, “you hear about this idea of a ‘Broadie,’ " she said, adding that “there is a really keen sense when you’re at the Broad that you have a mission and a mandate to make the world better through science.”

Look, I was taught to say nothing ill of the dead and I'll see you in hell because I'm a sinner and fail, sometimes a little, rarely a lot, but I still fail Saint Peter's questionnaire.


I can be little more broad when it comes to Bottoms:

"Keisha Lance Bottoms won’t seek second term as Atlanta mayor" by Richard Fausset New York Times, May 7, 2021

ATLANTA — Keisha Lance Bottoms, the first-term Atlanta mayor who rose to national prominence this past year with her stern yet empathetic televised message to protesters but has struggled to rein in her city’s spike in violent crime, will not seek a second term in office, Bottoms announced on Twitter on Thursday night.

The news shocked the political world in Atlanta, the most important city in the Southeast and one where the mayoral seat has been filled by African American leaders since 1974, burnishing its reputation as a mecca for Black culture and political power.

Although Bottoms did not say why she was leaving office, she did rattle off a list of challenges she had faced, along with her accomplishments, and 2020 unquestionably took a toll on mayors nationwide. It was one of the most tumultuous years for American cities since the 1960s, with the social and economic disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic as well as racial justice protests that sometimes turned destructive.

In November, St. Louis’ mayor at the time, Lyda Krewson, announced she would not pursue a second term. A month later, Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle announced she would not run for reelection. Several mayors in smaller cities have also declined to run again, exhausted or demoralized by the ravages of 2020.

Two contenders who have been seeking to unseat Bottoms, a Democrat, in the nonpartisan November election have promised to do a better job fighting what Bottoms has called a “COVID crime wave,” which includes a 58 percent spike in homicides in 2020.

You know, they empty the prisons and open the borders and then they wonder why this happens?

Don;'t get me wrong, I'm not arguing for a police state at all; however, the situation they are describing is a contrived situation for ulterior motives.

Bottoms, 51, who served as a judge and a city councilwoman before narrowly winning election to the mayor’s office in 2017, is also blessed with a voice — measured, compassionate, slightly bruised, and steeped in her experience as a Black daughter and a Black mother — that seemed uniquely calibrated to address the challenges of the past year.

Knowing what we know now after 2020 and Fulton County, she probably lost.

It was in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis that Bottoms went on live television and became a national star as she spoke directly to protesters. Some of their demonstrations had descended into lawlessness, with people smashing windows, spray-painting property, and burning cars.....

The pre$$ called that peaceful.

I'm done unloading verbal shots at her and I'm no Shadow Moses so I think I'll just hop over the border to Disney World:

"Anti-racism, tattoos and no more ‘wench auctions:’ Disney’s ‘woke’ moves spark a conservative backlash" by Hannah Sampson Washington Post, May 7, 2021

The “wench auction” was among the first to go in the exodus of classic-but-problematic Disney scenes. In 2018, the popular Pirates of the Caribbean ride got an overhaul when a redhead who had once been sold as a bride became a pirate instead.

Two years later, the theme park giant announced it was overhauling the Splash Mountain flume ride to lose its story line inspired by Song of the South — an outdated Disney film that the company no longer makes available to view because of its rosy view of post-Civil War plantation life. More recently, the company announced updates to the classic Jungle Cruise ride to remove “negative depictions of ‘natives’” and add new elements, just in time for a new movie out this summer.

"We want to make sure everybody has the best time - that guests from all over the world can connect with the stories we share and that how we bring those to life are respectful of the diverse world we live in," Chris Beatty, Walt Disney Imagineering creative portfolio executive, told D23, the official Disney fan club.

Those are not likely to be the last changes at the parks as Disney examines its history with a more critical eye — and looks to the future with a bigger emphasis on inclusion. That initiative has even grown to include the way employees, known as cast members, present themselves on the job: They now have more flexibility around costume choices, nail styles, jewelry, visible tattoos, and gender-inclusive hairstyles, Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney parks, experiences and products, said in a blog post.

"We want our guests to see their own backgrounds and traditions reflected in the stories, experiences and products they encounter in their interactions with Disney," he wrote, "and we want our cast members — and future cast members — to feel a sense of belonging at work," but these changes aren’t taking place without pushback. Fans created a petition to "save" Splash Mountain from the new theme. Disney-focused sites are full of users who decry what they see as a progressive agenda in the parks, and announcements about updates are typically greeted with threats of a boycott. People who vocally advocate for revisions are often subjected to abusive messages.

This past month, a guest column in the Orlando Sentinel went viral when the writer, North Las Vegas resident Jonathan VanBoskerck, complained that "wokeness" was ruining his Disney experience.

"The next time I ride Jungle Cruise I will not be thinking about the gloriously entertaining puns of the skippers, I will be thinking about Disney’s political agenda," he wrote in one of the most-cited lines. "That’s a mood killer."

The most recent tempest came in response to a write-up about an updated ride — not a "woke" change on Disney’s part. An SFGate review of Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, which debuted when Disneyland reopened last week, was largely positive but noted that the ride’s new ending includes a moment where the prince kisses Snow White while she is asleep - a scene that surprised the writers in an era where conversations about consent have become more urgent.

"It’s hard to understand why the Disneyland of 2021 would choose to add a scene with such old-fashioned ideas of what a man is allowed to do to a woman, especially given the company’s current emphasis on removing problematic scenes from rides like Jungle Cruise and Splash Mountain," Julie Tremaine and Katie Dowd wrote.

While the piece ends with praise for the ride, and even for the final scene "as long as you’re watching it as a fairy tale, not a life lesson," the piece became a rallying cry for Fox News and other conservative media, which declared that "cancel culture" was targeting Snow White.

Tremaine, a contributing editor for the site who covers Disneyland, said the backlash grew far beyond the level of criticism in the story. Some of the responses included mentions of sexual violence and suggestions of suicide.

"Our message got rewritten so many times," she said. "Every time it got rewritten, it got bigger and more offensive and more distorted from what we actually wrote."

She has written about other updates underway and potential future ones, and understands that fans who grew up with Disney parks or movies have such a "deep ingrained emotional attachment" to their memories that they don’t want to see anything change. But, Tremaine said, she expects to see the company continue to examine old tropes that are no longer acceptable.

"I think there are ways to do it where it can preserve the character and what people love about the old rides, and preserve that nostalgia, and still update it in a way that feels more inclusive," she said.

The updates in the parks follow a shift in the company’s films over the past several decades. Anne Zimmermann, a lecturer in the Rollins College English department in Winter Park, Fla., said Disney’s princesses started becoming more inclusive, assertive, and even feminist over the past couple of decades.

"Today’s generation, they are kind of expecting this of Disney, and they will tell you it’s long overdue," said Zimmermann, who uses Disney stories in her classes.

At the same time, Disney has recognized that some of its older films include outdated and racist cultural stereotypes and has added warnings on its streaming platform or removed those movies from children’s profiles.

“They’re moving not just toward not being racist, but anti-racist,” Zimmermann said. “Changing the parks continues their own narrative of change.”

I went there in the early 1970s and have great memories of the place except for the Space Mountain roller coaster, haven't been back since, and likely won't be now that I know Disney was some sort of closet Satanist and government agent and his consent is buried with subliminal pedophile stuff.

Beyond that, they took the "wench auctions" away down there and apparently put them here.

May God help us all:

"In early April, dozens of maskless churchgoers in northwest Oregon stood onstage singing and clapping inside a packed indoor venue for Easter Sunday service. The Peoples Church, which previously sued the state over coronavirus restrictions, hosted three similar indoor services that day, each lasting a little over an hour. Days later, the state’s health authority began investigating a potential outbreak at the Salem church. Now, the Oregon Health Authority says that at least 74 people associated with the church have tested positive for the coronavirus — one of the state’s largest workplace outbreaks. In a statement, the church’s leaders attributed the outbreak to a recent rise in covid-19 cases in Marion County, Ore. ’'We are concerned about the covid-19 surge in Oregon,’' Executive Pastor Tom Murray said in an email to The Washington Post. ’'This statewide increase has impacted our entire region, including our church family.’' Murray said the church, which has held in-person services throughout the pandemic, intends to continue with in-person services on Sunday."

I would tell the evil communist authorities to take their manipulated tests and false figures and shove it, or God so help you.... 

Just painting a picture with words.