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    New rules from the Trump administration on Friday would require insurers and hospitals to disclose upfront the actual prices for common tests and procedures to promote competition and push down costs. The sweeping changes face stiff pushback from the health care industry and could be challenged in court. Even in an ideal world where information flows freely, patients and their families would have to deal with a learning curve to become comfortable with the intricacies of health care billing. “This shadowy system has to change,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said. “The patient has to be in control.” A final rule would apply to hospitals and a proposed regulation would apply to insurance plans. Disclosure requirements for hospitals would not take effect until 2021; for insurers, the timing is unclear. The requirements do not directly affect doctors. Officials say the rules would shine a spotlight on the confusing maze of health care prices, allowing informed patients to find quality services at the lowest cost. Prices for an MRI scan for example can vary by hundreds of dollars depending on where it’s done. Insurers would have to create individualized estimates of what patients would owe out-of-pocket due to deductibles and copayments. Insurance companies and hospitals say the push for disclosure goes too far. They say the government would force them to publicly disclose rates they negotiate as part of private contracts normally beyond the purview of authorities. Insurers also contend the plan could backfire, prompting providers that are accepting a bargain price to try to bid up what they charge if others are getting more. Azar called that “a canard,” saying transparency does not lead to higher prices in any other area of the economy. If the industry goes to court, it could be a long time before consumers see any major changes. For hospitals, the rule would require: —publication in a consumer-friendly manner of negotiated rates for the 300 most common services that can be scheduled in advance, such as a knee replacement, a Cesarean-section delivery or an MRI scan. Hospitals would have to disclose what they’d be willing to accept if the patient pays cash. The information would be updated every year. —publication of all their charges in a format that can be read on the internet by other computer systems. This would allow web developers and consumer groups to come up with tools that patients and their families can use. For insurers, the rule would require: —creating an online tool that policyholders can use to get a real-time personalized estimate of their out-of-pocket costs for all covered health care services and items, from hospitalization, to doctor visits, lab tests and medicines. —disclosure on a public website of negotiated rates for their in-network providers, as well as the maximum amounts they would pay to an out-of-network doctor or hospital. The disclosure requirements would carry out an executive order President Donald Trump signed this summer.
  • Government health experts on Thursday recommended broader use of a prescription-strength fish oil drug to help many more patients at risk for heart attack, stroke and related health problems. Currently the drug, Vascepa, is approved for a relatively narrow group of patients with extremely high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood linked to heart disease. Irish drugmaker Amarin is seeking approval for a much larger group of patients who have lower fat levels but are still at risk of heart problems, despite taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs like Lipitor and Zocor. The panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration unanimously supported the expansion based on recent study results showing the drug can cut rates of life-threatening heart problems in high-risk patients. “There is no doubt this drug could benefit a substantial portion of the U.S. population and meet an unmet need,” said Dr. Jack Yanovski, a panelist and hormone specialist from the federal National Institutes of Health. The FDA is not required to follow the group’s advice and is expected to make its decision by the end of the year. Financial analysts predict that broader use could translate into billions in sales for Amarin. Vascepa costs around $300 a month. Some panelists urged the FDA to tailor the drug’s label to patients who are most likely to benefit. “I do not want to see this become what I call cardio candy,” said Philip Posner, a patient representative on the panel. FDA-written drug labels guide physician prescribing and often determine which uses are paid for by insurers. Panelists based their decision on a company-funded study showing that Vascepa cut the risk of heart attack, clogged arteries and other cardiovascular problems by about 25%, compared with a dummy treatment. Patients in the study were randomly assigned to take Vascepa or mineral oil capsules as a comparison. Patients in the trial had high triglycerides and other risk factors for heart problems, such as diabetes. The results, published last year, came as a surprise because a string of past studies of fish oil failed to show a positive impact on heart health. The panel noted several potential side effects of the drug, including irregular heartbeats and internal bleeding. But they agreed the drug’s benefits outweighed those risks, which could be monitored and managed by physicians. Millions of Americans take over-the-counter fish oil supplements for their presumed health benefits. These oils, also called omega-3 fatty acids, are known to reduce triglycerides. But several pharmaceutical trials have tried and failed to show that lowering those fats translates into meaningful benefits for patients. If approved, Vascepa would be the first fat-lowering drug endorsed by the FDA to reduce heart problems. Amarin has long tried to differentiate its drug from non-prescription fish oil supplements. Company advertising states that it can take 10 to 40 over-the-counter capsules to equal the daily dose of Vascepa. The drug is taken in four 1-gram capsules per day. Wall Street analysts have high expectations for broader use of the drug, with some projecting annual sales of $3 billion or higher. That compares to total company sales of just $228.4 million in 2018, according to Amarin’s financial reports. Vascepa, first approved in 2012, is Amarin’s only product on the U.S. market. ___ Follow Matthew Perrone on Twitter: @AP_FDAwriter ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • The number of vaping illnesses in the U.S. is still rising, but at a slower pace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday said another 121 cases have been reported, bringing the total of confirmed and probable cases to 2,172. Forty-two people have died. The outbreak appears to have started in March and peaked in late summer but there is often a lag in reporting. Of the latest cases, the CDC says less than half are people hospitalized with lung damage in the last three weeks. Most of the people who got sick said they vaped products containing THC, the high-inducing ingredient in marijuana. Officials believe a thickening agent used in black market THC vaping products appears to be a culprit.
  • A baby boy born in Texas without much of his skin is finally at home after months of treatment involving grafts of skin grown in a lab from his own cells. Ten-month-old Ja’bari Gray was released Wednesday from the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where he received the experimental skin transplant in May. Ja’bari was born weighing 3 pounds with fused eyelids and large areas of skin missing from his arms, legs and torso, the Houston Chronicle reported. His fingers and toes fused together, and his arms became attached to his torso over time. His mother, Priscilla Maldonado, said the cause is still unknown. As of now, doctors plan to leave Ja’bari’s eyes alone. “It’s kind of scary,” Maldonado said this week about her son coming home. Before his discharge, Ja’bari’s parents spent several days with him at the hospital, practicing taking care of him without a nurse’s assistance. The hospital issued a statement Wednesday saying Ja’bari was treated by neonatologists, plastic surgeons, dermatologists and specialists for the eyes and the ear, nose and throat. “Though Ja’bari will require additional care in the future, we are glad he is able to go home with his family,” the hospital said. The surgery allowed lab-grown sheets of Ja’bari’s skin to be transplanted onto the uncovered parts of his body. A Boston-area company that produces skin grafts for severely burned patients developed the skin from his biopsied cells. Maldonado said the procedure was remarkably successful. Ja’bari gained weight and color in his skin. In September, after his breathing tube was removed, his family members were able to hold him without the burden of any medical equipment or protective hospital gowns. And they heard him cry for the first time. The baby, who was born on New Year’s Day, was initially treated at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio before being transferred to Texas Children’s. Maldonado said future procedures are expected on his fingers, toes and arms. “The strength is amazing for that boy, to be able to do all that,” said Ja’bari’s father, Marvin Gray. ___ Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com
  • Germany's parliament has passed a law requiring that children who attend school or daycare must be vaccinated for measles. Lawmakers approved the government’s bill Thursday with a majority of 459 in favor, 89 against and 105 abstentions. The law means parents who can't prove their children have been vaccinated for measles by Aug. 1, 2021, will have to pay a fine of up to 2,500 euros ($2,790). Health Minister Jens Spahn has argued that the compulsory vaccination is necessary because of an increase in cases of the highly contagious and potentially deadly disease. Some parents and doctors had opposed the measure Teachers and daycare workers, staff in hospitals and residents of refugee shelters will also have to be vaccinated. Germany has recorded 501 cases of measles so far this year.
  • Schools in India’s capital are shut on Thursday and Friday after a thick gray haze of noxious air enveloped the city for the third consecutive day, and angry residents blamed authorities for holding an annual children’s race. Buildings and monuments were largely obscured by smog and an official health advisory urged people to avoid all physical activity outdoors. The air quality index exceeded 460, nine times the level recommended by the World Health Organization, according to the state-run Central Pollution Control Board. In some places, the index crossed the 500 level. Still, hundreds of children took part Thursday in the annual “Run for Children” race organized by a nonprofit group called Prayas. Residents took to social media and blamed authorities for allowing the run after pictures were shared of children without protective masks. The event was organized to mark the birthday of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, which is celebrated as Children’s Day in India. “It was a symbolic event and children didn’t run beyond 200 meters,” organizer Amod K. Kanth told The Associated Press. Kanth said the organization had permission from the authorities and he was not directed to cancel the event. Many decried the rising pollution levels and said the government is not doing enough. New Delhi is one of the world’s most polluted cities, and winters have become a time of annual health woes when the city is covered in a toxic haze that obscures the sky and blocks sunlight. Doctors in the city of 20 million people say many of their patients are complaining of ailments related to the filthy air they breathe. Air pollution in northern India, including New Delhi, peaks due to smoke from agricultural fires in neighboring Haryana and Punjab states which mixes with the city’s vehicle emissions and construction dust. Authorities have resorted to emergency measures such as banning construction, reducing traffic and prohibiting the use of diesel generators. But the steps have had little effect because state governments have failed to cooperate in tackling pollution. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not spoken about the crisis, even though he frequently promotes government programs on Twitter and elsewhere. Pollution was expected to decrease starting Thursday night when wind speed picks up, according to the India Meteorological Department. WHO data released last year showed India had 10 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities. ___ Rishabh R. Jain contributed to this report.
  • The website of a Virginia gynecologist describes his surgical skills as “unparalleled.” But federal prosecutors say many of the procedures Dr. Javaid Perwaiz performed on unsuspecting patients were unnecessary and unwanted, including hysterectomies and tubal ligations. Perwaiz, of Chesapeake, Virginia, was ordered held without bond on Thursday on charges of health care fraud in a case that has prompted outraged patients to swamp his offices demanding their medical records. A prosecutor said 173 women have come forward since his arrest to report similar experiences, including repetitive surgeries that they never asked for. An arrest warrant affidavit written by an FBI agent alleges that Perwaiz, an obstetrician-gynecologist, has a long history of performing unnecessary surgical procedures on his patients without their knowledge or permission. In one case, Perwaiz is accused of performing annual surgeries on a woman who had diagnosed herself with endometriosis. When she went to see a fertility specialist in 2014, she learned that “both fallopian tubes were burnt down to nubs,” making natural conception impossible. “Perwaiz had removed J.L.’s fallopian tubes without her knowledge or consent,” FBI agent Desiree Maxwell wrote in the affidavit. Another patient sought treatment in 2012 after an abnormal Pap smear. The affidavit says Perwaiz advised her to undergo a hysterectomy, but she objected, agreeing only to outpatient laparoscopic surgery, to remove just her ovaries. When she awoke, she was “shocked” to learn Perwaiz had performed a total abdominal hysterectomy and had perforated her bladder during the surgery, the affidavit states. The woman developed sepsis and was hospitalized for six days. During Perwaiz’s detention hearing in U.S. District Court on Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney V. Kathleen Dougherty said the affidavit focuses on just four women, but there are many more. She said prosecutors have interviewed dozens of additional women and heard from nearly 200 who allege similar experiences. “That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” she said of the initial allegations. Perwaiz is accused of submitting fraudulent claims to health care benefit programs — including Medicaid — seeking reimbursement for the procedures. Prosecutors said he performed the surgeries “for his own financial gain.” Dougherty said Perwaiz owns five luxury automobiles, including one Bentley and four Mercedes-Benz vehicles — and claimed on a 2016 loan application that he has $200,000 in “Gold/Art” in his home. Perwaiz’s lawyer, Lawrence Woodward Jr., said he has received a flood of unsolicited emails from patients who have described Perwaiz’s “fine qualities” and “how he helped them.” “There is a multitude of them,” he said. Woodward said Perwaiz, a native of Pakistan, has devoted 40 years to his medical practice in Virginia. “His life has been his work,” Woodward said. Woodward urged Magistrate Judge Robert Krask to allow Perwaiz to be released on bond while he awaits trial. He said Perwaiz is in the process of shutting down his medical offices in Chesapeake and will not be performing surgery. The judge rejected that request, calling the allegations “deeply disturbing.” “If those allegations are proven, that would be a gross abuse of patient trust — to put it mildly,” Krask said. Several of Perwaiz’s former patients attended his detention hearing. One woman left the courtroom in tears. Shamai Watkins, 44, of Portsmouth, said Perwaiz performed eight or nine surgical procedures on her between 1998 and 2013, including a hysterectomy when she was in her mid-30s. She said Perwaiz led her to believe she had cancerous cells and could not conceive a child. “Every time I think about it, I think, what if I never went to him? I could have had our baby,” she said gesturing to her husband, who accompanied her to the court hearing. Authorities said Perwaiz has been named in at least eight malpractice lawsuits that allege he falsified patient records to justify medical procedures, failed to use less invasive techniques and provided substandard care that caused permanent injuries to three patients and life-threatening injuries to two patients. The investigation began in September 2018 after the FBI received a tip from a hospital employee who suspected Perwaiz was performing unnecessary surgeries on unsuspecting patients. The tipster said Perwaiz’s patients would tell hospital staff they were there for their “annual clean outs.” In many cases, the patients were not aware of the procedures that were being done on them, the affidavit said. “Witnesses also alleged PERWAIZ routinely used the ‘C-word’ (Cancer) to scare patients into having surgery,” Maxwell wrote in the affidavit. Perwaiz has had a history of disciplinary problems. In 1982, he lost his privileges at Maryview Hospital in Portsmouth because of “poor clinical judgment” and for performing unnecessary surgeries, Dougherty said. He was previously investigated by the Virginia Board of Medicine for performing surgeries — mainly hysterectomies — “without appropriate medical indications and contrary to sound medical judgment,” the affidavit states. He was only censured for poor record-keeping. In 1996, Perwaiz pleaded guilty to tax evasion. His medical license was temporarily revoked but was reinstated in 1998. Perwaiz is either 67 or 69; his exact age is unknown. Prosecutors said agents searching his medical office found documents indicating he had instructed his staff to falsify his date of birth when filling out certain paperwork.
  • Police investigators are looking into drug overdoses as a potential cause of death among some of the nine students who have died this semester at the University of Southern California. USC President Carol L. Folt told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that the school is working with police and “doubling down” on education and outreach over drug and alcohol abuse. A letter sent Tuesday to staff and students warned about the dangers of substance abuse, and especially about the increase of contaminated drugs. The death of nine students since classes began a little more than two months ago has left students and administrators shaken and seeking answers. Administrators say three deaths were the result of suicide. The causes of the other deaths are either unknown or haven't been disclosed. ___ Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/
  • A former top government environmental health official joined health experts on Wednesday in expressing alarm as the Trump administration moves forward with a proposal that scientists say would upend how the U.S. regulates threats to public health. “It will practically lead to the elimination of science from decision-making,” said Linda Birnbaum, who retired last month as director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences after serving under both Republican and Democratic administrations. In an appearance before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Birnbaum said the proposal could be used to roll back fundamental protections from air pollution and other toxins. The “effects here could affect an entire generation,” she said. The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulation seeks public disclosure of the data underlying studies used by agency officials in deciding how to regulate contaminants and toxins, from car exhaust to coal waste to pesticides. Opponents fear that could include seeking to release identifying information for patients and study participants in violation of confidentiality requirements, leading important public health studies and other research on people to be taken out of consideration instead. The administration says the proposal would increase transparency in government regulation. Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, an EPA principal deputy assistant administrator, told the lawmakers that the agency was working 'to ensure the public has access to information so they can make decisions to protect their health and environment.” But opponents fear the measure will be used to toss out findings of decades of research on humans — and of future studies yet to come — that are a foundation of environmental and public health regulation. With weaker evidence regarding risks to human, the result could be weaker regulation of toxins, opponents said. When the EPA first raised the proposal last year, university heads, public health officials, researchers, health workers, environmental advocates and others lined up at the agency’s public hearings to object. The agency received nearly 600,000 public comments on the change, the majority urging against it. Debate on the proposal revived this month when the EPA sent a draft supplement to the measure to the White House for government review. That made clear that the administration was moving ahead on the measure despite the unusually strong torrent of opposition from scientists and health practitioners. At Wednesday’s hearing before a committee of the Democratic-controlled House, some Republicans also indicated concerns about the measure, which follows past, failed efforts by conservative lawmakers to get similar legislation through Congress. “This is about attacking the EPA under the current administration — not about improving transparency and scientific integrity,” said Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, the committee’s senior Republican member. Lucas called the EPA proposal “well-intended,” but said broader discussion was needed about “the best way to improve reproducibility and transparency.” Orme-Zavaleta, a career EPA employee, said a draft of the rule obtained by the news media this week was not the final version. Under questioning from Democratic lawmakers, Orme-Zavaleta acknowledged that while the proposal was not intended to be retroactive to existing rules, it could apply to past health studies. Democratic lawmakers argued the change could also be used to throw out findings of health studies and rewrite regulations whenever an existing rule comes up for review. “The true purpose is to undermine the decades of sound science on which the EPA relies to protect public health,” so that “political agendas are given more weight than science,” said Rep. Paul Tonko, D-NY. It “will endanger the safety and health of millions of Americans for many generations to come.” Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., noted the early draft rule would allow the EPA administrator to make exceptions to the data disclosure requirements. “Can you understand why we might not be comfortable having the final call being made by a coal lobbyist?” Foster asked, referring to the current EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler. Birnbaum, one of five scientists and health experts testifying Wednesday in addition to the EPA official, said eliminating studies and research on humans because of the confidentiality of identifying information would leave regulators more dependent on animal studies, which are less accurate for people. However, Wheeler announced separately in September that the agency intended to scale down and ultimately eliminate testing of chemicals on animals. Animal rights advocates welcomed the move, but health officials said it eliminated an essential safeguard for human health.
  • Drug-resistant “superbug” infections have been called a developing nightmare that could set medicine back a century, making conquered germs once again untreatable. So there’s some surprising news in a report released Wednesday: U.S. superbug deaths appear to be going down. About 36,000 Americans died from drug-resistant infections in 2017, down 18% from an estimated 44,000 in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated. The decline is mainly attributed to an intense effort in hospitals to control the spread of particularly dangerous infections. “We are pushing back in a battle we were losing,” said Michael Kirsch, a pharmacist at AdventHealth Tampa, a Florida hospital that has seen lower superbug infection rates. “I would not by any means declare success.” Indeed, though deaths are going down, nonfatal infections grew nationally from 2.6 million in 2013 to 2.8 million in 2017. Some worrisome new germs are emerging. And superbugs are appearing much more often outside of hospitals, the report says. For example, urinary tract infections have been easily treated in doctor’s offices with common antibiotics. But it’s increasingly common to see young healthy women with such infections forced into the hospital after initial treatments don’t work, said Dr. Bradley Frazee, a California emergency room doctor. “We never really worried about this kind of antibiotic resistance in the past,” said Frazee, who last year co-authored a journal article documenting more than 1,000 drug-resistant urinary tract infections in one year at Highland Hospital in Oakland. Antibiotics first became widely available in the 1940s, and today dozens are used to kill or suppress the bacteria behind illnesses ranging from strep throat to the plague. The drugs are considered among medicine’s greatest advances, and have saved countless lives. But as decades passed, some antibiotics stopped working. Experts say their overuse and misuse have helped make them less effective. The new report marks only the second time the CDC has tried to measure the numbers of U.S. illnesses and deaths attributed to drug-resistant germs. The first was released six years ago. This time, the agency relied on new data and it recalculated the 2013 numbers, resulting in larger baseline estimates. The 2013 report estimated more than 23,000 U.S. deaths and more than 2 million infections each year from superbugs. Those numbers were based on 17 germs that were considered the greatest threat. That count did not include deaths and illnesses from a nasty bug called Clostridium difficile, because the germ still is cowed by the drugs used to treat it. But C. diff is considered part of the larger problem, because it can grow out of control when antibiotics kill other bacteria. C. diff infections and deaths, fortunately, have also been declining. Overall, public health officials acknowledge the superbug problem is probably even bigger. A 2018 paper suggested more than 153,000 Americans die each year with — though not necessarily from — superbug infections. The difference stems from where researchers get their data and on what’s included. “There’s not universal agreement on what constitutes a drug-resistant infection,” said the paper’s lead author, Dr. Jason Burnham of Washington University in St. Louis. For Wednesday’s report, the CDC turned to new data sources. For example, some earlier estimates were based on reports from about 180 hospitals. This time, CDC was able to draw from the electronic health records of about 700 U.S. hospitals. Among the CDC’s other findings: —There were fewer cases of several nasty hospital-associated germs, including drug-resistant tuberculosis and the bug known as MRSA. —Infections from a so-called “nightmare bacteria” — carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE — held steady instead of increasing, to the relief of health officials. Officials credit hospitals for using antibiotics more judiciously, and to do more to isolate patients with resistant infections. They also believe government funding for laboratories has helped investigators labs more quickly spot drug-resistant germs and take steps against them. Still, CDC officials said there’s hardly cause for celebration. “There are still way too many people dying,” said Michael Craig, a leader in CDC’s superbug threat-assessment work. “We have a long way to go before we can feel we can even get ahead of this.” ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

News

  • A jury found Roger Stone guilty Friday of obstruction, giving false statements to Congress and tampering with witnesses in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. >> Read more trending news  The verdict came on the second day of jury deliberations. Stone had denied any wrongdoing and framed the charges as politically motivated. Update 12:20 p.m. EST Nov. 15: Jurors found Stone guilty Friday of all seven counts against him, including one charge of obstruction, one charge of witness tampering and five charges of making false statements connected to his pursuit stolen emails damaging to Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman set a February 6 sentencing date for Stone, Fox News reported. Until then, Berman allowed Stone to be released on his own recognizance. Stone, who did not take the stand during his trial, is the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The president slammed the jury's verdict Friday, questioning in a tweet whether Stone fell victim to 'a double standard like never seen before in the history of our Country.' Original report: Jury deliberations in the case against Roger Stone, a political consultant and confidant of President Donald Trump, extended into a second day Friday after jurors failed to reach a verdict on whether he lied to Congress about his attempts to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election. Jurors asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson two questions Thursday during their six hours of deliberations, Reuters reported. The questions were about what was considered testimony in the case and a request for a clarification of the charges, according to the Courthouse News Service. Authorities arrested Stone in January on charges brought by then-special counsel Robert Mueller, who headed the Justice Department's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Stone was charged with obstruction, giving false statements and witness tampering. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Kravis said Stone lied to protect the Trump campaign from embarrassment and scrutiny in its quest for emails hacked by Russian officials and disseminated by WikiLeaks, according to The Washington Post. Attorneys for Stone claimed he never intentionally deceived Congress and that he was simply wrong in his testimony after committee members unexpectedly peppered him with WikiLeaks-related questions. 'There was nothing illegal about the campaign being interested in information that WikiLeaks was going to be putting out,' defense attorney Bruce S. Rogow said, according to the Post. 'This is what happens in a campaign. … It happens in every campaign.' In testimony, several witnesses highlighted how Trump campaign associates were eager to gather information about the more than 19,000 emails the U.S. says were hacked by Russia and then provided to WikiLeaks. Former campaign CEO Steve Bannon reluctantly testified last week and told jurors Trump's campaign saw Stone as an 'access point' to WikiLeaks. He said Stone boasted about his ties to the anti-secrecy group and its founder, Julian Assange. Bannon said campaign officials tried to use Stone to get advanced word about hacked emails damaging to Trump's rival in the 2016 presidential election, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Rick Gates, who served as a campaign aide for Trump, told jurors Stone asked him in June 2016 for the contact information of Trump's son-in-law and then-senior campaign adviser, Jared Kushner. Stone wanted to 'debrief' him on developments about the hacked emails, Gates said. Stone has proclaimed his innocence and accused Mueller's team of targeting him because of his politics. He could face up to 20 years in prison if he's convicted. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A newborn’s body was found on a pile of rocks on the side of the road Tuesday night, authorities said. >> Read more trending news  The infant was found lying in the fetal position with the umbilical cord still attached in freezing temperatures, News12 reported. Investigators are interviewing the child’s mother. Charges have not been filed and there have been no arrests, WPVI reported. Her identity has not been released. 
  • Roger Stone was one of the key figures of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian election meddling, accused fo trying to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential race, NBC News reported. Stone was found guilty of all charges he faced including making false statements to Congress and obstruction of justice. Stone's lawyers said that any misstatements their client made to lawmakers were unintentional, the Washington Post reported shortly after his arrest. Who is Roger Stone? Stone was born in 1952 and was raised in Lewisboro, New York. His mother was a newspaper writer and his father was a well digger. Stone started his conservative leanings when a neighbor gave him a book, “The Conscience of a Conservative,” written by Barry Goldwater. It was given to him before he turned 13. Shortly after, he started working on the mayoral campaign for William F. Buckley Jr. in New York on weekends in 1965, The New Yorker uncovered in an article published in 2008.  He attended George Washington University but didn’t graduate because he got into politics, working with Republican candidates for more than 40 years, according to The New Yorker. >> Read more trending news  He was only 19 when Watergate happened, and he, under the name Jason Rainier, made contributions to Pete McCloskey, who was challenging President Richard Nixon for the Republican nomination. Stone, as Rainier, made the contributions through the Young Socialist Alliance and then released the receipt to a newspaper to show that McCloskey was a left-wing candidate, according to The New Yorker. Stone also hired another person to work in  George McGovern’s Democratic presidential campaign. Both events were uncovered during the Watergate hearings in 1973. He lost a job on the staff of Republican Bob Dole because of the hearings and started the National Conservative Political Action Committee, which backed Republicans Chuck Grassley in Iowa and Dan Quayle in Indiana. Stone also worked twice on the Republican presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan -- once in 1976, when Reagan didn’t win, and again in 1980, when he did -- then as political director for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, The New Yorker reported. After Reagan took office, Stone stayed in the private sector, creating a political consulting and lobbying firm that went under different names, including Black, Manafort, Stone & Atwater.  The firm worked for corporations like Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. to lobby former co-workers in the Reagan campaign who held jobs in the administration. It also served clients like Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, The New Yorker found. Focusing more on political campaigns as a solo entity instead of lobbying as part of a group, Stone worked as a senior consultant for the successful campaign of George H.W. Bush and worked three campaigns for Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter. He also ran unsuccessful campaigns for Dole’s 1996 quest for president. He was brought in when the 2000 presidential recount started in Florida. He played the political game on radio stations in southern Florida, saying that the recount was Al Gore’s left-wing power grab, The New Yorker reported. His efforts, along with other Republican assets, empowered George W. Bush’s Republican supporters to protest the second recount. Stone wanted, and got, the recount in Miami shut down in what became the “Brooks Brothers riot,” The Washington Post and The New Yorker reported. Stone also worked on  the younger Bush’s re-election campaign. It is believed documents obtained by CBS News that showed that Bush got out of military service for Vietnam were actually fake and that Stone was the person who created the documents, The New Yorker reported. Stone was one of President Donald Trump’s panel of long-time advisors, The Washington Post reported. He was connected to Trump when the now-president floated the idea of running in 2000.  Then, Trump said, “Roger is a stone-cold loser,” who “always takes credit for things he never did,” according to The New Yorker. Despite the harsh words then-private sector member Trump had for Stone, he used Stone for his campaign not once, but twice, teaming up in 2011 when Trump toyed with, but eventually decided against a presidential run. They went their different ways in August 2015, the Times reported.  But who pulled the plug on Stone’s tenure on the Trump campaign? Stone said he resigned and Trump’s campaign officials said he had been fired, The New York Times reported. Trump said of the firing, “I hardly ever spoke to the guy; he was just there. He played no role of any kind,” the Times reported in 2015. But Stone was listed on Federal Election Commission filings as being on the campaign payroll and he used Twitter to defend Trump during the campaign, according to the Times. What is his connection to Trump? Stone has been scrutinized for having ties to WikiLeaks by using an associate as an intermediary between himself and people associated with WikiLeaks, CNN reported. Stone spoke about having “back channel communications” with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, during the campaign. Stone later said the “back channel” was really a New York radio host, Randy Credico, who allegedly shared only information gleaned from interviews with Assange, CNN reported. Stone also predicted releases of information by WikiLeaks in the final days of the campaign between Trump and his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, CNN reported.  Stone said in a column for Breitbart, the website run by former Trump campaign adviser Steve Bannon, that it wasn’t the Russians who hacked the servers containing the emails leaked by WikiLeaks, but it was actually a hacker who went by the name Guccifer 2.0.  >>Read: Russian hackers indicted: Who is Guccifer 2.0? Here are 15 things to know Despite Stone’s assertions in the column, some have linked Guccifer 2.0 to Russian web services, Foreign Policy reported.  In July 2016, the Times reported that intelligence agencies had “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the email leaks and that Guccifer 2.0 was in reality an agent of the Russian military intelligence service, or GRU. Mueller’s team is investigating whether there were other connections between Stone and WikiLeaks. That connection could come in the form of Jerome Corsi, another associate of Stone’s who said this week that he expects to be indicted by Mueller for “giving false information to the special counsel or to one of the other grand jury,” CNN reported. If Corsi’s prediction comes true, he could face charges from perjury to making false claims and even obstruction of justice, all related to false statements he made about his alleged connection between WikiLeaks and Stone, CNN reported. Stone, however, said he was truthful in previous testimony before a congressional panel. >>Read: 12 Russians indicted: Here’s what the DOJ says happened “My attorneys have fully reviewed all my written communications with Dr. Corsi,” Stone wrote in a statement to CNN. “When those aren’t viewed out of context they prove everything I have said under oath regarding my interaction with Dr. Corsi is true.” Stone went on to write, “I stand by my statement to the House Intelligence Committee and can prove it is truthful if need be. I have passed two polygraph tests administered and analyzed by two of the nation's leading experts to prove I have (been) truthful.” >>Read: 12 Russians indicted: Military officials accused of hacking DNC, stealing voter info Corsi said Stone warned that there would be trouble for Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta after Corsi published an article for InfoWars. After Stone’s statement, WikiLeaks released thousands of hacked emails from Podesta, CNN reported.  >>Read: WikiLeaks emails: FBI investigates, Podesta claims he was targeted by Russian hackers Stone tweeted “it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel” six weeks before WikiLeaks published the emails, The Washington Post reported. >>Read: Julian Assange: WikiLeaks source was 'not the Russian government' Stone said he did not tell Trump that WikiLeaks was going to release the hacked emails and denied working with Russia, CNN reported. But Stone did say in a recent opinion piece for The Daily Caller, that he emailed Bannon during the campaign, CNN reported. Stone, in the column, clarified that the information he shared with Bannon was publicly available. Stone said the statements he made during the campaign were exaggerations or tips only and that he didn’t know details of WikiLeaks’ plans before the document drops, the Post reported.
  • The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine is testifying Friday in the second public hearing in the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump. >> Read more trending news  Marie Yovanovitch will appear before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to answers questions about her time as ambassador in Ukraine and how she believed she was driven out of that position by Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer. The hearing, which begins at 9 a.m. ET, will be broadcast live on CSPAN, CNN, Fox News and other cable news channels. Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, (D-California), and the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, (R-California), will question Yovanovitch in 45-minute segments each then committee members will have five minutes each to question Yovanovitch. Watch the live stream of Friday’s hearing here Live updates The hearing has resumed 12:22 p.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: The hearing has resumed and Republicans are asking questions. In a break 10:45 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: The hearing has been suspended for a short recess for House members to vote.  Trump tweets, Yovanovitch defends herself  10:30 a.m. Nov. 15, 2019: Schiff read a tweet from Trump this morning disparaging Yovanovitch’s service. Trump said that “everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.” Schiff asks if she wants to address the tweet. Yovanovitch answered, “I don’t think I have such powers,” but went on to say that her work “demonstrably made things better, both for the US and for the countries I’ve served in.” Fearing a tweet 10:24 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Goldman asks Yovanovitch if she was given a vote of support from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. She said she was not. He asked if she knew why not. She said the department feared that the president would post a tweet contradicting any support. ‘Devastated' by Trump's Ukraine call 10:15 a.m. Nov. 15, 2019: Yovanovitch said she was “shocked” and “devastated” by the White House memo on Trump’s call with Zelensky. The transcript included the phrase that Yovanovitch is “bad news.” “A person who saw me actually reading the transcript said the color drained from my face,” Yovanovitch told Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor with the Southern District of New York who is the counsel for the Democrats. She said Trump’s comment that she was “going to go through some things,” in his call with Zelensky, “felt like a vague threat.” ‘Big hit for morale’ 10 a.m. Nov. 15, 2019: Schiff asked Yovanovitch how her recall was received by colleagues in the State Department. Yovanovitch said, 'Well, it's been a big hit for morale, both at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv and also more broadly in the State Department.' She also that it’s fair to say that her firing affected morale of other ambassadors. Yovanovitch's opening statement 9:33 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Yovanovitch is giving her opening statement, talking about the sometime dangers of foreign service. She opened her statement by recounting her family’s history. They fled the Soviet Union. She says she has served in several “hardship” posts as a diplomat.  She talked about her work in Ukraine. 'Not all Ukrainians embraced our anti-corruption work. Thus, perhaps, it was not surprising, that when our anti-corruption efforts got in the way of a desire for profit or power, Ukrainians who preferred to play by the old, corrupt rules sought to remove me. What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them and, working together, they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a U.S. Ambassador. How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government?' She says she never tried to work against Trump or for Clinton. She said she has never met Hunter Biden but did know former Vice President Joe Biden. Nunes’ turn 9:20 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Rep. Nunes is speaking now. He says five of the members of the Intelligence Committee voted to impeach Trump before he ever made the July 26 phone call. He complains that the Democrats met secretly with the whistleblower and that Republicans have been threatened if they try to find out the person’s name and release it. He also said Democrats went after nude photos of Trump. He is reading the just-released transcript into the record. The hearing has begun 9:10 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Schiff is giving his opening statement. He is praising Yovanovitch’s qualifications and her anti-corruption work in Ukraine. He's asking why Trump wanted to recall Yovanovitch from her post. Phone call transcript released 9:05 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: The White House has released the transcript of the first phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That phone call took place in April. This is not the phone call the whistleblower reported on. People are getting to their seats 9 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: House Intelligence Committee members, the press and spectators are coming into the room for the start of the hearing. $3 million in donations 8:55 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale announced on Thursday that the Trump campaign raised more than $3 million on Wednesday during the first public impeachment hearings. A case of bribery? 8:47 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, accused Trump of bribery. Pelosi pointed out at her weekly press conference that bribery is “in the Constitution” as a reason for impeaching a president. Yovanovitch has arrived 8:38 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Yovanovitch has arrived at Capitol Hill with her attorneys and is entering the building. One public hearing and two in private8:35 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: While Yovanovitch will testify in public Friday, David Holmes will appear before the committee afterward in a closed-door session. Holmes is a State Department employee who claims to have overheard a phone conversation about Ukraine between Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, and Trump. On Saturday, Mark Sandy, an office of Management and Budget official, will testify before the committee in private. Sandy will be the first OMB official to agree to testify before the committee. How the hearing will go 8:15 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: The hearing will be conducted in the same way as Wednesday’s hearing with William Taylor and George Kent was conducted. Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-California, and the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, R-California, will question Taylor and Kent in 45-minute segments each. Those 45 minutes can be delegated to the staff lawyers or other committee members. After the extended 45-minute periods, the committee will go back to its usual format of five-minute rounds of questions for committee members. Let’s get started 8 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Good morning and welcome to live updates from the second public hearing of the impeachment inquiry. The hearing begins in an hour, at 9 a.m. ET. Live updates coming 6 a.m. ET Nov. 15, 2019: Live updates of Marie Yovanovitch's testimony will begin at 8 a.m. ET. The hearing begins at 9 a.m. ET [Summary]
  • A brake fluid leak on certain Nissan cars and SUVs could lead to risk of fire prompting the automaker to recall about 394,000 vehicles in the United States. >> Read more trending news  An antilock brake actuator pump can leak onto a circuit board, causing electrical shorts and fires. Because of the risk, Nissan recommends owners park the vehicles outside and away from buildings if the antilock brake light is on for more than 10 seconds.  The recall covers 2015 to 2018 Nissan Murano SUVs, 2016 to 2018 Maxima sedans and 2017 to 2019 Infiniti QX60 and Nissan Pathfinder SUVs, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is the second recall for some of the same vehicles. In 2018, Nissan dealers inspected parts but did not replace the pumps if fluid wasn’t leaking. Dealers will now replace pumps on all of the vehicles. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 
  • An Arkansas paramedic is charged with felony theft after authorities allege she cut a 1.7-carat diamond ring off a dead patient’s finger last month and pawned it for $45. Lisa Darlene Glaze, 50, of Hot Springs Village, is charged with theft by receiving and misdemeanor transfer of stolen property to a pawn shop, according to Garland County court records. Arrested Monday, she has since been released on $4,500 bond. >> Read more trending news  The Sentinel-Record in Hot Springs reported that Glaze, a paramedic at CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs, was one of the paramedics who attended to Gloria Farrar Robinson on Oct. 16 when the 72-year-old Whie Hall woman suffered a medical emergency. A probable cause affidavit obtained by the newspaper stated Robinson was taken to CHI St. Vincent, where she later died. After Robinson died, her personal effects were given to her husband, identified in her obituary as Leonard Robinson, and her sister, Alesia Massey. Massey asked Glaze about three of Robinson’s rings that were missing. Glaze “did not answer her and walked away,” according to the affidavit. Robinson’s husband and sister went to Fuller Hale South Funeral Home in Pine Bluff two days later to make funeral arrangements, at which time they were given a bag with two of the missing rings, the Sentinel-Record reported. A 1.7-carat diamond, gold solitaire ring was still missing. The ring, which was adorned with a marquise-cut diamond, had been cut off Robinson’s finger, according to the affidavit. On Oct. 24, eight days after Robinson died, Glaze went to Hot Springs Classic Guns and Loan with a marquise-cut, solitaire diamond ring with a gold band. She sold the ring, which the pawnshop worker noted had a cut in the band, for $45, the court documents allege. Glaze used her driver’s license for identification during the transaction, the Sentinel-Record reported. Five days after the sale, a Montgomery County investigator went to the pawnshop and took photos of the ring, sending the images to Robinson’s husband and sister. Both identified the ring as belonging to the deceased woman, the affidavit said. The pawnshop employee who bought the ring identified Glaze in a photo as the woman who sold the piece of jewelry, the Sentinel-Record reported. Massey, Robinson’s sister, retrieved the ring from the pawnshop and had it appraised. The ring was determined to be worth nearly $8,000. Robinson’s son, Ben Ellis, castigated Glaze in a Facebook post Wednesday, calling her an expletive before questioning her care of his dying mother. “You stole my mother’s rings off her hands after she died?” Ellis wrote. “Did you let my mother die so you could steal her jewelry?” A woman named Diane McAlister offered Ellis her condolences. “Gloria was a wonderful, hardworking person. She respected everyone,” McAlister wrote. “I hope this person is prosecuted to the highest degree.” According to her obituary, Robinson worked as a payroll officer at Southeast Arkansas College for more than 20 years. Glaze has been placed on administrative leave with pay by the hospital, which issued a statement to the Sentinel-Record about the case. “CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs places a priority on the safety and well-being of our patients and our healing ministry is committed to their security while in our care,” the statement read. The hospital is continuing to cooperate with the investigation, officials said. If convicted, Glaze faces up to 10 years in prison on the felony theft charge and up to a year in county jail for the charge of selling stolen property to the pawnshop, the newspaper said.