ALABAMA TORNADO

The violent tornado that roared through Alabama last Sunday was among the nation’s strongest, and deadliest, in years. Due to the tornado’s unusually extreme size, strength, and duration (at one point, it stretched for nearly a mile, with a wind speed estimated at 170 MPH), it tragically took the lives of 23 people — four of whom were children. All of the victims whose bodies have been recovered have been identified.  Two unnamed corporations have pledged to pay for the funerals of all 23.

NEW TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION

A couple of days ago, the FDA approved Johnson & Johnson’s ketamine-like nasal spray for patients who suffer from “treatment-resistant” depression, which is apparently about 16 million American adults. The spray, called Spravato, which works by restoring brain cells, can be administered in a doctor’s office or clinic, or you can do it yourself – under supervision (and not at home). Spravato has all sorts of side effects — the most severe being out-of-body hallucinogenic sensations — so patients will be monitored for at least two hours after being given the drug. As for the cost, it’s up there. For the standard regimen, you’re looking at $5000-$7000 for the first month; $2500-$3,500 a month thereafter. Johnson & Johnson says it expects most insurance plans to pay for the drug, but we all know how that goes….

CURE FOR HIV?

Has another person been cured of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS? Appears that way–for just the second time since the global epidemic began. We learned a few days ago that a man in the UK, identified only as the “London patient,” has been in long-term remission from HIV-1, following a bone marrow transplant intended to treat cancer. This news comes almost 12 years to the day when a person referred to as the “Berlin patient” was reportedly cured of HIV using a similar method. Doctors say the surprise success is inspirational–it confirms that a cure, while “difficult,” is “reachable.”

ZUCKITY ZUCK ZUCK

What’s Mark Zuckerberg up to now? After a year of dealing with Facebook privacy issues, he’s discovered…privacy! Says that’s where the action is (Mind you, we’re talking privacy between peers/friends; not privacy from Facebook, which is the real relationship we all struggle with.) – and he’s got an elaborate plan to make this happen. Zuckerberg says he’s going to focus on private group chats, one-on-one communication, and he’s going to make sure these chats – whether on WhatsApp, Messenger, or Insta’s DM – work together. Something about encryption this, that, and the other (It’s Complicated), and content and messages that poof! disappear. Zuckerberg says it will take a few years to overhaul the platforms, which leaves us ample time to Unfriend.

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