Will PA Dems fight back against CRT?

Source: US National Republican Congressional Committee

The following text contains opinion that is not, or not necessarily, that of MIL-OSI –

The Pennsylvania School Counselors Association is promoting Critical Race Theory to its members across the Commonwealth.

The PSCA’s website includes a list of recommended materials that push the controversial CRT ideology and a training video urging counselors to be “active” in promoting CRT dogma.

Will Chrissy Houlahan, Susan Wild, Matt Cartwright, and Conor Lamb stand up against Critical Race Theory being pushed in their own backyards?

Or will they stand in opposition to the Pennsylvania parents who are fighting against the divisive, race-based curriculum?

DeFazio and AOC: Team Abolish Prisons

Source: US National Republican Congressional Committee

The following text contains opinion that is not, or not necessarily, that of MIL-OSI –

As Democrats struggle to shed their pro-crime image, Peter DeFazio’s campaign benefactor, AOC is calling for the abolition of prisons.

At a rally for Nina Turner, Ocasio-Cortez said, “I want to abolish our carceral system that’s designed to trap Black and Brown men. I want justice.”

Peter DeFazio took $5,000 from the self-avowed socialist who wants to defund the policeabolish ICEeliminate private health insurance, open our borders and now abolish prisons.  

NRCC Comment: “Since Peter DeFazio refused to return AOC’s campaign cash, he should tell Oregonians whether he agrees with her proposal to abolish prisons and release convicted criminals into our communities.” – NRCC Spokeswoman Courtney Parella

CDC MEDIA TELEBRIEFING: Update on COVID-19

Source: US Gov Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC works 24/7 saving lives, protecting people from health threats, and saving money to have a more secure nation. A US federal agency, CDC helps make the healthy choice the easy choice by putting science and prevention into action. CDC works to help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

New Collaboration Aims to Improve Measurement of Viral Vectors Used in Cutting-Edge Gene Therapies

Source: US Government research organizations

A ribbon diagram showing a portion of the protein shell of an adeno-associated virus used for delivering gene therapies. The colored ribbons represent different proteins.

Credit: Jazzlw, CC BY-SA 4.0

ROCKVILLE, Md. — The  U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) and United States Pharmacopeia (USP) have announced a research collaboration to assess analytical methods and develop standards for adeno-associated virus (AAV), an important mechanism for delivering gene therapies. 

AAVs are particularly useful for gene therapies because they are not known to cause human disease and cannot replicate on their own. AAV-based therapies are currently used to treat a type of inherited retinal dystrophy that causes blindness and spinal muscular atrophy in children, and treatments for many more diseases are currently being developed. However, to use AAVs most effectively, scientists need to accurately measure attributes related to their quality. These attributes include the purity of the AAV product and the relative number of virus particles that contain the full genetic payload.

At a workshop hosted by NIIMBL in 2019, academic and industry scientists, product developers, instrument manufacturers and other stakeholders identified needs for improved consistency of measurement methods and physical standards for AAV-based products as top priorities.

“AAV is important because these are critical components to manufacture a variety of gene and cell therapy products,” explained Kelvin Lee, NIIMBL institute director. “By addressing the quality attributes assessment of viral vectors, the field of gene therapies as a whole will benefit from access to high quality components to enable the development of a variety of products.”

As part of this collaboration, USP and NIST will conduct an interlaboratory study in which multiple laboratories will measure these critical quality attributes and their results will be compared and analyzed. This will contribute to the standardization of measurement methods and the development of physical reference materials that will improve measurement consistency across the industry. The study will take two to three years to complete.

“There is great level of synergy between the organizations engaged in this collaboration,” said Fouad Atouf, USP vice president of global biologics. “NIST’s long-standing experience with measurement sciences and USP’s established role in the application of measurement to the development of methods and associated reference standards is a great combination to advance the field of testing of biopharmaceuticals. NIIMBL provides the appropriate collaborative platform and access to the right stakeholders.”

“This work will help build trust in the quality of AAV,” said NIST research scientist and chemical engineer Wyatt N. Vreeland, who will be leading the NIST component of the collaboration. “And it will support the development of promising new gene therapies that will greatly improve peoples’ lives.”

About NIST

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. NIST supports the biomanufacturing sector by improving measurement science for the accurate and reproducible characterization of a wide range of processes and products and through the development of reference materials and interlaboratory comparisons. 

About NIIMBL

The National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) is a public-private partnership whose mission is to accelerate biopharmaceutical innovation, support the development of standards that enable more efficient and rapid manufacturing capabilities, and educate and train a world-leading biopharmaceutical manufacturing workforce, fundamentally advancing U.S. competitiveness in this industry. NIIMBL is part of Manufacturing USA®, a diverse network of federally sponsored manufacturing innovation institutes, and is funded through a cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S. Department of Commerce with significant additional support from its members.

About USP

The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) is an independent scientific organization that collaborates with the world’s top experts in health and science to develop quality standards for medicines, dietary supplements and food ingredients. USP’s standards are used in the U.S. and other countries to ensure the quality of thousands of products including cardiovascular, oncology, endocrine and antibiotic drugs. Through its standards, advocacy and education, USP helps increase the availability of quality medicines, supplements and food for billions of people worldwide. 

Media Contacts

NIST
Richard Press
richard.press [at] nist.gov

NIIMBL
Maria Chacon
mchacon [at] udel.edu

USP
Anne Bell
ADB [at] USP.org

Scientists uncover how decisions about what we see are relayed back through the brain

Source: US Department of Health and Human Services – 2

News Release

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

NIH study in monkeys finds that in visual decision-making, information relevant to the decision is broadcast widely.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have discovered that decisions based on visual information, which involve a complex stream of data flowing forward and backwards along the brain’s visual pathways, is broadcast widely to neurons in the visual system, including to those that are not being used to make the decision. Feedback—such as information about a decision traveling back to neurons detecting visual features like color or shape—is thought to help the brain focus on visual information that is relevant to decision-making. The study, by scientists at the National Eye Institute (NEI), was published in Nature Communications. 

“Why and how decision-making information is relayed back into the visual processing parts of the brain is an open question. Some theories posit that this type of feedback should be selective – only affecting those neurons that are involved in the decision,” said Hendrikje Nienborg, Ph.D., chief of the NEI Unit on Visual Decision Making and lead author of the study. “This study shows that decision-related feedback is spatially unselective, affecting neurons much more broadly than one might suppose.”

Feedback is used by the brain in many ways and many systems. When a decision is based on what we see, information about expectation or attention — such as where the object is, or about its features — is fed back to brain regions involved in the visual process, raising the activity of neurons involved in seeing the object or event in question. 

An example of this type of expectation might be keeping an eye out for a pedestrian at a crosswalk while driving through an intersection. Neurons specialized in detecting objects to your right might receive an extra bit of signal due to your attention. If you were trying to decide whether the person was your red jacket-clad child, neurons specializing in detecting the color red might receive feedback.

Researchers have hypothesized that feedback may help the brain focus in on hard-to-see features, or perhaps help stabilize the decision as it’s being made. Some scientists have thought that decision-related feedback is selective, raising the activity of only the neurons involved in the decision, and not irrelevant neurons.

However, scientists wondered what happens when two different types of information are relevant to a decision at the same time. Is there feedback for each type of information, and is that feedback selective for the decision?

To answer this question, Katrina Quinn, a graduate student in Nienborg’s lab and first author of the study, and colleagues trained monkeys to distinguish whether an object on a screen in a particular location looked concave or convex, while ignoring objects in irrelevant locations. While the animals were performing the task, the researchers recorded the activity of neurons involved in processing visual information. The animals were good at the task, efficiently distinguishing objects in the correct locations and ignoring objects in irrelevant locations. 

To see whether the decision-related feedback was selective for both pieces of relevant information, such as location and depth, the researchers recorded activity from neurons that detect depth information and spatial location in the visual cortex, the part of the brain that specializes in visual processing. 

Despite the animals’ stellar performance, the researchers discovered an unexpectedly nuanced picture of feedback in the visual system. Similar to previous studies, they found that location feedback is selective, but location feedback didn’t vary depending on the decision the animal made, it was only associated the location that the animal was paying attention to. Conversely, feedback related to the object’s depth was associated with the decision, but was spatially unselective, meaning that even depth-sensing neurons that couldn’t possibly be used to make the decision got extra decision-related feedback anyway. 

“You would think that this kind of feedback is always tailored to the task at hand, but it turns out we can’t make that assumption,” said Quinn.

“This study may point towards a feedback mechanism that generalizes across tasks, but in some ways, these findings raise more questions than they answer,” said Nienborg.

The study was funded by the NEI Intramural program, the European Research Council, the German Research Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.

This press release describes a basic research finding. Basic research increases our understanding of human behavior and biology, which is foundational to advancing new and better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease. Science is an unpredictable and incremental process— each research advance builds on past discoveries, often in unexpected ways. Most clinical advances would not be possible without the knowledge of fundamental basic research. To learn more about basic research, visit https://www.nih.gov/news-events/basic-research-digital-media-kit.

NEI leads the federal government’s research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs to develop sight-saving treatments and address special needs of people with vision loss. For more information, visit https://www.nei.nih.gov

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®

References

Quinn KR, Seillier L, Butts DA, and Nienborg H. “Decision-related feedback in visual cortex lacks spatial selectivity.” Nat Comm. July 22, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24629-0 

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AOC: Abolish Prisons

Source: US National Republican Congressional Committee

The following text contains opinion that is not, or not necessarily, that of MIL-OSI –

As Democrats struggle to shed their pro-crime image, de facto Speaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is calling for the abolition of prisons.

At a rally for Nina Turner in OH-11, Ocasio Cortez said, “I want to abolish our carceral system that’s designed to trap Black and Brown men. I want justice.”

NRCC Comment: “Every vulnerable Democrat who refused to return AOC’s campaign cash should tell voters whether they agree with her proposal to abolish prisons and release convicted criminals into our communities.” – NRCC Spokesman Mike Berg

A list of Democrats who did not return AOC’s campaign cash can be accessed here.

#BidenBorderCrisis: Vol. 79

Source: US National Republican Congressional Committee

The following text contains opinion that is not, or not necessarily, that of MIL-OSI –

#BidenBorderCrisis: Vol. 79

Many migrants captured illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border are being released into the United States after they are processed by border patrol. 

Fox News reports the Biden Administration is directing border patrol to drop illegal migrants at bus stations like the ones in McAllen, Texas so they can then travel to their final destination.

The New York Post reports, “four bus companies that operate out of McAllen’s central bus station are struggling to keep up with business” because of the influx of illegal immigrants. 

NRCC COMMENT:  “Democrats created this border crisis because their immigration policies don’t deter illegal migrants, they encourage them.” — NRCC Spokeswoman Torunn Sinclair 

An Interview with Samantha Mendoza, Herencia Crowdsourcing Intern

Source: US Global Legal Monitor

Samantha Mendoza, an intern working on transcribing the Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents crowdsourcing campaign. [Photo provided by Samantha Mendoza]

Today’s interview is with Samantha Mendoza, an intern working on transcribing the Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents crowdsourcing campaign at the Law Library of Congress

Describe your background.

I was born and raised in Auburn, Alabama. I come from a very diverse background as I am a first generation American on my dad’s side of the family. He is originally from Mexico and immigrated here in the late 1980’s. My mom is from here in Alabama, so I grew up in a multicultural atmosphere. It’s always fun sharing my Mexican culture with my American family and vice versa. In my free time, I love watching TV and spending time with friends and family.

 What is your academic/professional history?

I graduated from high school in 2018 and am currently going into my senior year at Auburn University. I am studying political science and Spanish and hope to go to law school to become an immigration attorney. I have previously worked at a math and reading center for kids, which was a great way to be exposed to many different cultures, and I have assisted in the office of my family’s business. This is my first internship and I love working every day with documents that pertain to what I’m studying.

 How would you describe your job to other people?

I typically just tell people that I help transcribe historical Spanish legal documents, but it does go a little deeper than that. These transcriptions help make these historical documents more accessible for research, and what is amazing is that you never know what you may find in these documents.

 Why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?

I was initially drawn to this internship because it pertained to my two current areas of study. It was a huge plus that it was with the Library of Congress because of the many learning opportunities within the Library.

 What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library of Congress?

I think it is just amazing how much history is housed within the Library of Congress, such as collections that were once owned by historical figures like Thomas Jefferson, congressional publications that date back to the beginning of the United States, etc. I also find it very cool that the Law Library contains the largest law collection in the world.

 What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I played trumpet in band throughout middle school and high school, from seventh grade until I graduated. I can still play now, but I don’t sound as great as I did during my prime trumpet playing years!

New York Court Eases Return into Community After Prison

Source: United States Courts

Main content

Federal judges and court staff in Manhattan recently celebrated two dozen individuals’ successful transition back into the community after prison, thanks to a specialized program to help high-risk former offenders maintain crime-free lives.  

The yearlong journey for those under supervision in the Reentry through Intensive Supervision and Employment Court (RISE Court) program culminated in a special graduation ceremony in June. Speakers noted that the graduates fulfilled their obligations during the height of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Throughout this trying year, our graduates exhibited admirable courage, commitment, and perseverance – the courage to reconnect with their families and friends, the commitment to improve themselves, and the perseverance to find jobs, housing, and health programs during a worldwide pandemic,” said Judge Raymond Lohier, Jr., of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, who presided over a RISE Court during much of the pandemic. “We commend them for succeeding despite the many unusual obstacles and hardships they faced. I personally couldn’t be prouder of their achievement.” 

Graduates were joined by family, friends, members of the RISE Court initiative ­– and even some of their sentencing judges – to finally celebrate their achievements with a proper gathering.

The RISE Court, launched in January 2019, has three cohorts each presided over by federal judges. It is part of an effort to reduce recidivism among people on supervised release through initiatives that encourage employment and self-awareness.

“The RISE Court is a way for our district to more deeply engage with its supervised release population and to provide resources and support that will help reduce recidivism,” said Michael Fitzpatrick, chief probation officer for the Southern District of New York. “By reducing recidivism, we will keep families together, and we will keep our communities safer.”

According to the probation office, roughly 20 percent of moderate and high-risk individuals on supervised release are unemployed, and 70 percent of the supervisees with the greatest risk of recidivism end up with their terms of supervised release revoked, often from rearrest.

Participants in the RISE Court are offered several services to help them succeed, including cognitive behavioral therapy, mentorships, a financial literacy program, and pro bono legal assistance. Upon completion of the program, probation officers typically recommend that a participant’s sentencing judge reduce the term of supervised release. 

To graduate, participants must appear before a RISE Court judge every two weeks for approximately a year to discuss their living and employment situations, legal and financial issues, and their progress on completing a behavioral wellness program. Before each session, the judge meets with the participant’s probation officer, a coordinator, and representatives of service providers to discuss the participant’s progress. Members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Federal Defenders Office also attend the sessions.

“Obtaining and maintaining employment is an essential part of re-entering society after imprisonment. We hope to help participants develop meaningful ties to the community,” said Judge Denny Chin of Second Circuit Court of Appeals, who presided over the first RISE Court.

Other federal court districts have introduced similar programs to help people stay out of prison. The program in Southern New York was largely inspired by a successful reentry court program in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Related Topics: Probation and Pretrial Services