The entire White House press corps should walk out and stop indulging this bully

By Jane Merrick

Updated 1446 GMT (2246 HKT) November 8, 2018            CNN

Editor’s Note : Jane Merrick is a British political journalist and former political editor of the Independent on Sunday newspaper. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

(CNN) – With the Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives, Donald Trump gained a glimpse of what it’s like to lose some — albeit only some — power.

And, when bullies think they’re losing control, they lash out in anger.

The President’s reaction to tough questions from CNN’s Jim Acosta about the Republican campaign and his immigration “invasion” rhetoric was classic bullying behavior: calling the chief White House correspondent a “rude, terrible person” shows how rattled Trump is about the results.

Just because the President’s outburst on Wednesday was in keeping with his portrayal of the media as “enemies of the people” does not mean it should be tolerated.

Trump’s decision to revoke Acosta’s pass to the White House grounds is an outrageous ramping up of his campaign against a questioning, robust. free media.

In response to a man who treats his Presidency as if it’s a series of a particularly bizarre reality-TV show, the entire White House press corps should walk out. Deny him coverage. Take him off the air. Cancel his series. Leave him to rage into Twitter’s echo chamber, which is all he deserves.

As Peter Baker, the chief White House correspondent for The New York Times, said on Twitter: “This is something I’ve never seen since I started covering the White House in 1996. Other presidents did not fear tough questioning.”

In Britain, too, Prime Ministers are asked tough, sometimes very hardline questions. I have covered UK politics during the terms of four Prime Ministers, and I have never seen a response like this.

Once, Tony Blair was asked if he had “blood on your hands” after the suicide of the Iraq weapons inspector Dr. David Kelly. This was a far more controversial question than anything Trump faced on Wednesday, yet the then-Prime Minister merely stood in stony silence. What’s more, the reporter who asked the question did not have his credentials revoked.

And now, not only has Acosta’s pass been withdrawn, but he now faces the false claim by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders that he “placed his hands” on the female intern who tried to remove the microphone as he tried to ask more questions.

This young woman should not be blamed for doing her job in what must be a tough environment. What is disgraceful is that Sanders should insinuate that Acosta has committed some sort of assault — when footage of the incident clearly shows the intern placing her hands on his arm, and not the other way around.

Sanders has even circulated what to my eyes appears to be a doctored film of the interaction with Acosta’s arm movement sped up, to make it look as though he has karate-chopped her forearm.

Senior White House officials disseminating lies and smears on social media — which are then lapped up by Trump supporters — in revenge against a journalist asking questions evokes George Orwell’s “1984”: “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

This accusation of assault is outrageous on its own. It is an insult to real victims of harassment and assault. But from a White House whose President has in the past admitted “grabbing” women in a sexual manner, whose record on misogyny is so poor, and who only last month praised a Republican candidate for body-slamming a reporter, it is breathtakingly hypocritical.

This marks the lowest point in the Trump White House’s campaign against the press, and it should no longer be indulged.

Trump seeks to downplay past skepticism of Russian election meddling


By Kevin Liptak, CNN White House Producer

Updated 0624 GMT (1424 HKT) November 12, 2017

Hanoi, Vietnam (CNN) President Donald Trumpdownplayed on Sunday his past skepticism of Russia’s involvement in US election meddling, saying he sides with American intelligence agencies over Vladimir Putin when it comes to assigning culpability for the hack.

But he again stopped short of stating explicitly that Russia was behind the interference in the 2016 presidential election,which US intelligence has determined was conducted to help Trump.

Speaking at a news conference in the Vietnamese capital, Trump was clarifying remarks he made a day earlier which suggested Putin was being sincere in his denials that Moscow engaged in election meddling.

The President stressed he was not accepting Putin’s denials at face value, instead saying he merely believed Putin was being genuine.

“I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election,” Trump said. “As to whether I believe it or not, I am with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with the leadership.”

Trump has long declined to say definitively whether he believes Russia was behind the attempts to sway last year’s election. And he did not say conclusively on Sunday when asked directly whether Russia was responsible. But his nod toward American intelligence agencies, which he said were led by “very fine people,” put him closer to accepting what his own government has determined happened months ago.

The remarks came after Trump ignited further controversy over the Russia interference issue when he told reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday that he believed Putin was being sincere when he denied involvement in the cyber-intrusion.

“I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said.

The remark prompted backlash in Washington, where intelligence officials are unanimous in their assessment that Russia sought to influence last year’s contest.

The CIA released an unusual statement saying the current director Mike Pompeo believes the agency’s determination that Russia was behind the election meddling.

Trump, however, insisted during his news conference on Sunday that his remarks were clear.

“I’m surprised there’s conflict on this,” he said. “I think it was very obvious to everybody.”

Trump said he didn’t want to engage in a public spat with his Russian counterpart over the issue of election meddling during talks this week in Vietnam.

“I’m not looking to stand and start arguing with somebody when there are reporters all around and cameras recording and seeing our conversation,” Trump said.

His meetings with Putin in Da Nang were held in private, however, and reporters did not see the two men engage in discussions.

Trump said it was imperative the US and Russia work together to solve problems like Syria and North Korea.

“What I believe is we have to get to work,” Trump said. “People don’t realize, Russia has been very, very heavily sanctioned. They were sanctioned at a very high level. And that took place very recently. It’s now time to get back to healing a world that is shattered and broken.”

Earlier Sunday, Trump unleashed a series of tweets as he nears the end of his epic 13-day diplomatic tour of Asia, going after “haters and fools” who question his ties to Russia and mocking the shape of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

The stream of invective came after days of relatively restrained tweeting as Trump darted between Asian capitals on his first presidential trip to the continent.

“When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” Trump wrote at 7:18 a.m. local time in Hanoi.

He spent the night here after a state dinner, and held talks and a joint news conference with Vietnamese President President Tran Dai Quang on Sunday morning.

“There (sic) always playing politics – bad for our country,” he added. “I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!”

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. There always playing politics – bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!

9:18 AM – Nov 12, 2017 · Vietnam

In a second posting at 7:43 a.m., Trump wrote: “Does the Fake News Media remember when Crooked Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, was begging Russia to be our friend with the misspelled reset button? Obama tried also, but he had zero chemistry with Putin.”

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

Does the Fake News Media remember when Crooked Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, was begging Russia to be our friend with the misspelled reset button? Obama tried also, but he had zero chemistry with Putin.

9:43 AM – Nov 12, 2017 · Vietnam

He was referencing a 2009 episode in which Clinton, then secretary of state, presented her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, a small red button with the Russian word “peregruzka” printed on it.

“We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” she asked Lavrov, laughing.

“You got it wrong,” said Lavrov. The correct word for “reset” was “perezagruzka,” he explained. “Peregruzka” means “overcharged.”

Trump has long insisted that a better relationship with Russia could help solve vexing global problems, including ending the civil war in Syria and containing North Korea.

Trump has worked while in Asia to consolidate support behind his efforts to choke off support for Pyongyang, and delivered stern warnings to Kim during stops in Tokyo and Seoul.

But his message on Twitter Sunday delved further into the types of personal insults that colored his rhetoric about the dictator before arriving in Asia.

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!

9:48 AM – Nov 12, 2017 · Vietnam

“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?'” Trump wrote at 7:48 a.m. “Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!”

He appeared to be responding to North Korea’s statement last week that Trump is a “dotard,” implying senility.

Asked at his news conference about the prospects of befriending Kim, Trump offered a coy response.

“Strange things happen in life,” he said. “That might be a strange thing that happens. But it is certainly a possibility.”

The flurry of tweets on Sunday came as Trump approaches the end of his Asia trip. He will depart midday for Manila, the Philippine capital, for a summit meeting of Southeast Asian leaders.

“Will be doing a joint press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam then heading for final destination of trip, the Phillipines,” Trump wrote, misspelling the name of his next stop.

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

Will be doing a joint press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam then heading for final destination of trip, the Phillipines.

8:35 AM – Nov 12, 2017

Trump had remained dutifully on script during his visits to Japan, South Korea, China and Vietnam, including on Twitter, where his postings have stuck to the talking points he’s delivered during his stops.

But after a formal meeting with Putin was stymied during his visit to an economic summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, Trump held forth with reporters about the damage the Russia investigations unfolding in Washington are having on Washington-Moscow ties.



Sugar and cancer: Is there a link?


Sugar and cancer: Is there a link?

By Susan Scutti, CNN

Updated 1737 GMT (0137 HKT) October 27, 2017

Are you eating too much sugar on Halloween? 00:46

(CNN) Does sugar, which makes all things delicious, lead to cancer?

A biologic mechanism in yeast cells may explain the relationship between sugar and malignant tumors, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications.

The nine-year research project may even influence personal medicine and diets for cancer patients, the authors concluded. The study begins by looking closely at cancer cells’ appetite for sugar.

Scientists understand that cancer cells support their rapid reproduction by rewiring their metabolisms to take glucose, ferment it and produce lactate.

Conversely, healthy cells continue with normal respiration, a process in which they take glucose and break it down into carbon dioxide and water.

This “switch of cancer cells from respiration to fermentation is something that was discovered by Otto Warburg, a German biochemist, about 70 or 80 years ago,” said microbiologist Johan M. Thevelein, senior author of the study and a professor at KU Leuven in Belgium. It is known as “the Warburg effect.”

Fermentation of sugar to lactic acid produces about 15 times less energy than respiration of sugar, Thevelein noted. Yet cancer cells “grow much more rapidly than normal cells, and yeast actually grows the fastest when they ferment,” he noted.

“This is weird,” he said, and it raises an important question: Is the Warburg effect a symptom of cancer — or a cause of it?

Searching for the answer, Thevelein and his colleagues experimented with yeast cells since, just like cancer cells, they are known to favor fermentation over respiration.

The researchers found an intermediate compound that is a “potent activator” of the RAS protein. RAS is a proto-oncogene: a gene that codes for proteins that help to regulate cell growth and differentiation. Proto-oncogenes can become oncogenes or cancer-causing genes when mutations occur. Mutant forms of RAS proteins are present in many tumors, Thevelein said.

The new study, then, reveals “a vicious cycle,” he said.

As sugar is broken down in cells, the intermediate compound activates the RAS proteins, and this in turn stimulates cell proliferation, he said.

This cycle seen in yeast cells might help explain the aggressiveness of cancer.

“Very interesting,” said Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, chairwoman of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s energy balance committee. Still, she urges caution in interpreting these findings.

“It’s important to not make too many jumps into a patient message based on a study of yeast,” she said.

Eating sugar or too much weight?

Even though the researchers pinpointed some similarities between yeast and human cancer cells, Ligibel explained, “it’s important to recognize we’re a few steps away from even human cancer cells in a test tube.”

The study showed only an increased rate of cell growth triggered by glucose, she said. Even though the team showed RAS pathways being activated, this “actually didn’t result in the cells replicating more quickly,” she said.

Still, the data are “incredible,” said Ligibel, who is also an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “This is really one of the first studies that’s provided a biologic mechanism that could explain a relationship between glucose itself and cancer progression.

“When we think about the relationship between sugar and cancer — when we think about what drives the level of sugar in someone’s body — it’s primarily related to their weight,” Ligibel said.

When people are heavier, their bodies manage sugar differently than those of people who are lighter. This sugar management is what leads to type 2 diabetes, a disease in which blood sugar is high and levels of insulin, the hormone the body uses to manage blood sugar, begins to rise because the body becomes resistant to its effects.

“We’ve known for a while that having a higher blood sugar and having a higher level of insulin in your system are both linked to the risk of developing cancer,” Ligibel said.

At the same time, studies that have tried to look at how eating sugar might be linked to cancer risk “have been much less consistent,” she said. One large study of older US adults, for instance, did not find a relationship between the amount of sugar people ate and the risk of developing cancer.

Conversely, she noted, other studies show that people diagnosed with colon cancer who ate a higher proportion of their total calories in sugar had a higher risk of cancer recurrence — but only for people who were already overweight and obese. Once again, how the body manages sugar — and not the sweetener itself — may be key.

Studies in breast cancer patients have compared low-carbohydrate diets to low-fat diets and found that the amount of weight people lost, not the diet itself, was important, Ligibel said. If it led to weight loss, either diet brought an identical lowering of sugar in the blood stream and an identical lowering of insulin.

“Whether you achieved that through one diet versus another didn’t seem to be as important as the amount of weight you lost if you were overweight or obese,” she said. Translated into practical advice for cancer patients: “If you have someone who is obese or overweight, helping them to lose weight is going to be an important thing. We know that from a lot of different lines of study.

“I think that sugar definitely contributes to weight gain. I think that sugar doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value,” Ligibel said. Still, cancer patients need to focus on maintaining a healthy weight by balancing exercise and the food they eat.

Sugar can cause obesity which leads to cancer

Asked whether he believes that eating more sugar leads to more cancer, Thevelein immediately answered, “No! definitely not.” He and his co-authors do not state that in the paper; instead, they explain how normal, healthy cells can handle sugar in a controlled way.

“On the other hand, we all know that when you eat a lot of sugar, you have a tendency — that has been clearly shown — to become more obese,” Thevelein said. “And obesity is linked to a higher risk of cancer.”

Though it’s “too early to say,” Thevelein said that when you eat too much sugar over a long time, “maybe this can also lead in some way to dysregulation of the RAS protein in the normal cells,” and possibly it is this “dysregulation” that triggers RAS genes into becoming mutants.

“It’s better not to eat too much sugar so that you don’t become obese,” he said. “And if at the same time, you also decrease your risk of cancer, the better — but this is something we cannot make a statement about at this moment.”

If anything, he would suggest that cancer patients eat less simple sugars and more complex sugars, such as those found in starch and whole grains. Complex sugars are released more slowly and are taken up by the body more slowly, and this might be helpful to cancer patients.

“That would be our message,” Thevelein said: “Try to look for alternative ways of providing sugar and energy to cancer patients rather than rapidly metabolized simple sugars.”