Worker suspended for flying Trump flag from government truck

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida municipal worker was suspended without pay for flying a flag supporting President Donald Trump’s re-election from his government truck.

Palm Beach County suspended construction project specialist Randall Williams for five days for violating its rules against engaging in political activity during work hours.

“During a heated political season such as the one we find ourselves in now, it is imperative to remember that political activities must be done outside of working hours,” County Engineer David Ricks wrote in a staff memo Friday announcing the suspension.

A motorist spotted Williams, 61, driving his county truck with a Trump flag attached to the driver’s window last week and took a photo, The Palm Beach Post reports. The photo was forwarded to the county, which identified Williams.

Trump’s official residence, Mar-a-Lago, is in Palm Beach County.

Williams does not have a listed phone number and could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He could appeal his suspension.

The resident who spotted the truck told the Post in an email that Williams can support the president or any other candidate, but not by using a taxpayer-funded truck.

“Showing your political party, you can do it in your home, whatever, it’s your right,” Laurent Lesage said. “But on a county vehicle, I think it’s trying to do some provocation.”

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Lipocine Announces Presentations at the 21st Annual Fall Meeting of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America

SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Lipocine Inc. (NASDAQ: LPCN), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on metabolic and endocrine disorders, today announced it will present results from studies suggesting that low testosterone levels may play an important role on the clinical outcomes of COVID-19 in men as well as the safety and efficacy of TLANDO™, an oral testosterone replacement therapy without a dose titration requirement, at the 21st Annual Fall Scientific Meeting of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America (“SMSNA”). Lipocine will outline the possible mechanisms and clinical evidence that suggests men with low testosterone have poor COVID-19 outcomes, and the rationale of using an oral testosterone therapy for men with COVID-19. Results from the previously completed dose validation (“DV”) study of a fixed dose TLANDO in hypogonadal males will also be presented at the meeting.  The presentations will take place virtually on November 9, 2020 from 7:00 p.m.9:00 p.m. EST during Session 2 (Androgens and Ejaculation/Orgasm Disorders). 

https://www.smsna.org/V1/2020/program/scientific-program?where_person=44
https://www.smsna.org/V1/2020/program/scientific-program?where_person=42

“We know that while COVID-19 infection rates are comparable between men and women, men are developing severe symptoms and dying at a significant higher rate than women. Furthermore, men with comorbidities commonly associated with lower testosterone are at greater risk for severe disease and death,” said Dr. Mahesh Patel, Chairman, President and CEO of Lipocine Inc.  “The presentation on COVID-19 highlight key clinical evidences suggesting that low testosterone levels may play an important role on the clinical outcomes of COVID-19 in men. Based on the published data, the use of oral testosterone with the goal of achieving physiological testosterone levels should be evaluated in clinical trials of COVID-19.”

Dr. Anthony DelConte, Chief Medical Director of Lipocine further stated, “TLANDO will be the first oral testosterone for treatment hypogonadism without titration requirement. It is expected to be easy to prescribe and use.” Dr. DelConte added, “The SMSNA presentation on TLANDO highlights the key safety and efficacy data from multiple clinical studies supporting TLANDO’s ability to effectively restore testosterone levels in hypogonadal men without need for any dose adjustment.”

Is Oral Testosterone a Potential Treatment for COVID-19 in Men? (Benjamin J. Bruno et al)

The authors performed a literature search to understand the possible mechanisms and clinical evidence concerning testosterone levels in COVID-19 patients.  A recent clinical study investigating testosterone levels in men with COVID-19 found 80% of men who died due to COVID-19 had low total or bioavailable testosterone levels at the time of hospital admission. Those with severe Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (“ARDS”) had acutely depressed total testosterone compared to patients who did not exhibit severe ARDS. The mean total testosterone levels for men who required invasive ventilation was 29 ng/dL (normal range ~300-1100 ng/dL), whereas those who were discharged from the ICU had mean total T of 254 ng/dL at the time of ICU admission.

In comparison to other routes of testosterone administration, oral testosterone therapy may be the most convenient and suitable for acute treatment of COVID-19 in

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UK travel industry calls for urgent government action

Planes on the apron at London City Airport which has been closed after the discovery of an unexploded Second World War bomb.
Planes at London City Airport. Photo: PA

UK travel group ABTA said the government is not doing enough to support the sector, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

It criticised the government for “ever-changing quarantine rules and a dwindling number of destinations for holidaymakers to visit,” and demanded tailored support, including further grants.

ABTA said it is “vital that the Global Travel Taskforce launched this month to consider a testing regime, and other measures to support recovery of the travel industry, acts decisively and urgently to help increase consumer confidence and get the industry moving again.”

The taskforce was set up by the government and is meant to report to prime minister Boris Johnson no later than early November, setting out recommendations for how the UK can support the recovery of international travel.

According to new figures released by ABTA, only 15% of people took a foreign holiday between February and July 2020 compared to 51% over the 12-month period, and 64% the previous year.

READ MORE: EU gets approval to slap $4bn worth of tariffs on US imports in Boeing dispute

More than half (53%) of the people surveyed said they took fewer overseas holidays this past year compared to the previous year, with 87% of those saying they took fewer holidays because of coronavirus. 

Government restrictions were a contributing factor to a hesitation to travel, with 93% of people concerned about potential last-minute changes to foreign office travel advice and four in five people (80%) concerned about having to quarantine when they return to the UK.

The findings are from research based on a sample of 2,000 consumers and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to July 2020.

Meanwhile, figures also revealed that more than half of people (52%) believe that the travel industry should reopen in a greener way. 

A new report by ABTA identified the sustainability challenges faced by the industry, including the need to accelerate decarbonisation and to ensure that tourism generates greater benefits for destinations and local communities.

READ MORE: Turbulent times ahead for airlines as UK travel quarantine measures kick in

Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s CEO said: “There is no doubt that people’s confidence and trust in the industry has taken a huge hit — and we must work hard to earn that trust back. Not only is that by being creative and flexible in terms of the holiday and customer experience we offer, but also by making sustainability a fundamental principle of travel.”

Earlier this week a survey was reported to show that nearly two-thirds (64%) of business leaders see domestic and international travel as “key to their future prospects.”

The research, commissioned by London City Airport, also indicated that 48% believe the government’s quarantine restrictions are the biggest barrier to business air travel.

In other news showing the toll the pandemic has taken on the travel industry, British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz has quit the top job with immediate effect, to be replaced by

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Communities can force government action to stop out-of-control wildfires

Every year, more of America’s forests burn. For months now, Americans throughout entire time zones have been inundated with ash and smoke from our woodlands, neighbors’ homes and ecosystems that will take years to recover.

Yet despite this predictable yearly carnage, the solutions our government can and should immediately take are lost among generalizations and talking points. Public officials on both sides of the aisle have lobbed excuses at each other over the “true” cause of these wildfires: “It’s bad forest management!” “No, it’s climate change!”

They are both right and they are both wrong.

Starting in the early 1900s, decades of flawed forest management led to the dangerous over-accumulation of forest fuel (dense forest brush and small trees). Then, in the past few decades, longer and more severe droughts made dangerously fire-prone forests literal tinder boxes where fires burned hotter, moved faster, grew bigger and posed ever-greater risks to forests, homes and lives. Our forests are burning uncontrollably today because of decades of questionable management and changing environmental conditions.

But it doesn’t matter whether it is 30 percent of one cause and 70 percent of the other, or a 50/50 mix of both. Because whatever has led to these conditions, our federal officials are 100 percent responsible for taking every reasonable step available to dramatically reduce fuel loads in our forests and making the land safe for residents, homeowners and wildlife.

This is because federally owned forests dominate our fire-prone landscapes, and Congress bears the largest share of the responsibility to make them safer. But federal legislators have handcuffed forest management staff with red tape and competing (often conflicting) priorities, all the while failing to fund the top priority, which should always be community safety. This has to stop, and Congress has the responsibility to make it so by reforming federal forest management policies to prioritize fuel reduction and make forests healthier.

Prioritizing fuel reduction means exempting fuel removal from the thicket of bureaucracy that impedes it. Things such as lengthy environmental reviews, multiple layers of planning documents, vetoes on fuel reduction by other agencies, ever-looming citizen lawsuits, and inadequate funding for proper forest management all have made the forests more dangerous and less healthy. Cutting and reforming these debilitating policies, and even removing forest fuel reduction from Endangered Species Act regulation (there are few greater risks to endangered wildlife than catastrophic fires), can have real, immediate impact on forest fire danger. 

Unfortunately, these obvious measures depend on Congress taking its responsibilities seriously and accomplishing rapid, bipartisan action. But communities at greatest risk of fire can’t wait while Congress dithers, so they should take matters into their own hands in the federal courts.

Local governments have the power to sue the federal government under public nuisance laws to force the feds to properly maintain overgrown forests threatening cities and towns. Just as a city can take action against delinquent property owners over a rundown property that poses a fire risk to a neighborhood, cities can take action against the

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Europcar chooses the law that suits it best to refuse a refund | Money

In June I booked a hire car with Europcar for a week’s holiday in France. I paid a higher rate which allowed me to cancel for a cash refund and phoned to confirm that this was what I was entitled to. However, when the government advised against travel to France, Europcar told me that under French law it was allowed to issue a credit note instead of a refund. It claimed that since the car was booked in France my contract was with its French counterpart, despite the fact the payment was taken in sterling and Europcar’s address on my credit card statement given as Watford. I think Europcar is choosing the law that suits it best.
JA, London

You have good reason to think that. I began by asking Europcar why customers who need to cancel a booking by phone are directed to a number that costs up to 75p a minute from a mobile. Premium rate numbers are banned for after-sales service.

Europcar replied that it does not consider a contract is formed until a customer collects their rental vehicle. That argument does not stop it holding that same customer to its terms and conditions as soon as they make – and pay for – a booking.

As for those terms and conditions – your booking confirmation indisputably states that Europcar provides free cancellation up to 48 hours before pick up. The terms and conditions on its website state the same. Nowhere does it warn that its policy may vary depending on where you hire a vehicle.

“Europcar has investigated this case and found that whilst it operated within the law and its own terms and conditions, it appreciates that the current process for cancelled bookings made for France may not have been made clear at the reservation stage and on the UK website,” it says. “Therefore a refund for the cancelled booking has been processed and the company’s apologies extended to the customer.”

It says it is reviewing the wording on its website. Customers are not bound by terms and conditions which are unclear or a figment of the trader’s imagination. Anyone else affected by Europcar’s concerning approach to small print can make a claim through their credit card issuer or the small claims court.

If you need help email Anna Tims at [email protected] Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions

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Big Tobacco goes big in effort to quash law banning sales of flavored tobacco products

A coalition of big tobacco companies and small retailers is paying professional signature gatherers upward of $10 a name in an attempt put the brakes on the statewide law barring brick-and-mortar stores from selling menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products.



Suresh Raina standing in front of a store: Employee Majid Abbas (left) helps a customer buy flavored tobacco at City Smoke and Vape Shop in San Francisco in 2017.


© Gabrielle Lurie / The Chronicle 2017

Employee Majid Abbas (left) helps a customer buy flavored tobacco at City Smoke and Vape Shop in San Francisco in 2017.


With the Nov. 30 deadline approaching for submitting signatures to qualify the measure for the 2022 ballot, the high-dollar effort has become an interesting blend of California politics and potentially huge business profits, with a dash of coronavirus shutdown tossed in for good measure.

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At issue: SB793, authored by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in August. Stores that break the ban on selling flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes would face a $250 fine per violation.

Tobacco interests wasted no time filing the paperwork to put the law before voters in a referendum. They need 623,212 validated signatures to make the ballot.

“The law goes too far and is unfair. Particularly since lawmakers exempted hookah, expensive cigars and flavored pipe tobacco,” said Beth Miller, spokeswoman for the California Coalition for Fairness, the group seeking to repeal the ban.

“It will hurt small businesses and take jobs from licensed retailers who do sell tobacco products,” while still allowing for online sales, Miller said. “If the past is any indication, it will also lead to an underground market that could increase the access for minors.”

Hill dismissed the pro-tobacco arguments as a smokescreen.

“The goal is to keep kids from starting to smoke,” Hill said. “What 15-year-old is going to buy a $12.50 cigar or pipe tobacco? That’s ridiculous.”

Hill said the coalition had another reason for launching the referendum — profit.

If the referendum qualifies, the law, which is slated to go into effect in January, would be suspended until voters have their say in the November 2022 general election. And no matter what the outcome of the vote, the tobacco industry and retailers would get two more years of in-store sales until after the election.

Getting the signatures of the required registered voters by the November deadline, however, is not coming cheap.

The Coalition for Fairness estimates that it will need about 900,000 signatures to ensure it has enough verified signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Like most groups that place initiatives on the ballot, the Coalition for Fairness is using professional signature gatherers, those people you see carrying clipboards with petitions hawking various ballot measures outside of stores, farmers’ markets and other places people gather — or used to gather before the pandemic.

But getting people to stop and sign a petition is not easy these days. And with a pressing deadline, the price per signature has gone from $3 to $4 to as high as $10 per name. Miller said she did not have the exact figure, but

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Society condemns ‘special tax on legal profession’ | News

Government plans for a levy to fund the fight against financial crime amount to a ‘special tax on the legal profession’, the Law Society said today. In a strongly-worded response to a consultation on the economic crime levy announced by the chancellor earlier this year, Chancery Lane said any levy based on income would be especially harmful to the profession.

‘The legal profession is fully committed to supporting the fight against economic crime and takes anti-money laundering responsibilities very seriously,’ outgoing Law Society president Simon Davis said. ‘Law firms already play an important role in tackling money laundering, as demonstrated by the substantial costs and resources allocated by the profession to comply with its anti-money laundering (AML) and financial crime obligations.’

He noted that further increasing the cost of doing business would hit the international competitiveness of the legal sector and the willingness of law firms to invest in the UK.

‘With the UK in recession, the predicted future state of the economy being so uncertain and the legal sector already struggling in so many areas, imposing a tax on the profession is an unjustified step too far,’ Davis said. 

The Treasury has proposed that the economic crime levy, designed to collected £100m a year, be imposed from 2022/23. It is based on the idea that the costs of further action to tackle money laundering should not be borne solely by the general taxpayer but rather by a ‘joint public-private partnership’. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in his March budget that firms already in the ambit of money-laundering regulations should be required to pay. This would potentially affect 90,000 businesses, including many legal practices.

The consultation, on the design principles of the levy, proposed that ‘revenue from UK business should form the basis of the levy calculation’. The Law Society disagrees, saying that if the levy goes ahead it should be calculated according to the number of suspicious activity reports (SARs) that a firm submitted the previous year. This would be ‘simple, cheaper and fairer than a revenue-based levy’. However the consultation document argued that this method of calculation could incentivise non-reporting and entrench poor reporting behaviour.  

The consultation closed yesterday. The Treasury said it would announce further steps in due course.

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The ‘Spycops’ bill undermines the rule of law and gives a green light to serious crimes

The so-called culture wars are not just about race and gender. They encompass a barrage of attacks on progressive or “woke” values to distract attention from catastrophic pandemic management in both Washington and Westminster. On closer inspection, some of the targets in the crosshairs are actually rather conservative; a case in point being the rule of law.



text, whiteboard: Photograph: Mark Kerrison/Alamy Stock Photo


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Mark Kerrison/Alamy Stock Photo

If the prime minister and the home and defence secretaries are anything to go by, lawyers are the new enemies of the state. But as these ministers are not averse to employing briefs in their own causes – both personal and political – I rather suspect it’s the message, not the messengers, that they are trying to destroy.

Related: David Greene: Condemning lawyers for doing their jobs is inherently dangerous

It is now well over a decade since former master of the rolls Tom Bingham published his seminal book The Rule of Law. The most glittering legal and judicial career notwithstanding, he wanted to make this vital constitutional principle more readily accessible to the people it is designed to protect. He asked me to endorse his book and chair his discussion of it at the Royal Society for Arts. The greatest jurist of my lifetime was also incredibly good at plain English. He set out eight tests for the rule of law with a succinct clarity that any pundit or politician would envy.



text, whiteboard: Banners outside the Royal Courts of Justice during the judge-led public inquiry into alleged misconduct of undercover police officers who spied on hundreds of different political groups.


© Photograph: Mark Kerrison/Alamy Stock Photo
Banners outside the Royal Courts of Justice during the judge-led public inquiry into alleged misconduct of undercover police officers who spied on hundreds of different political groups.

Bingham’s third rule was that “the laws of the land should apply equally to all” . His fifth was, “the law must afford adequate protection of fundamental human rights”. At the time, we thought the former incontrovertible and the latter slightly contentious. Ten years on, both values are in peril.

Two bills currently before the House of Commons would undermine these principles. The overseas operations bill would make it much harder to prosecute British personnel for serious crimes – including torture – overseas, and immunise the Ministry of Defence from claims by the very veterans it has neglected.

The second, the covert human intelligence sources (criminal conduct) bill, is arguably even more abhorrent. It grants a host of state agencies the power to licence its agents and officers to commit grave crimes in advance, even here in the United Kingdom.

To be clear, I believe many undercover operations to be essential. Yet it was always ridiculous that, while judicial warrants were required for the searches of premises, they were not needed for the far more intrusive and dangerous placing of spies in people’s homes, offices, trades unions, friendship circles and even bedrooms. These remain a matter of administrate discretion for security services, police forces and a host of other state agencies, without the need for any external authorisation.

Related: The UK government is attempting to bend the

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TikTok inks multi-year licensing deal with Dutch collecting Society Buma/Stemra

TikTok has signed a multi-year deal with Dutch Collecting Society Buma/Stemra, securing royalty payments for the songwriters, composers and publishers represented by the organization.

The agreement follows last month’s news of TikTok’s 100 million monthly active user milestone in Europe in addition to a similar number in the United States.

As part of the deal, according a press statement, TikTok will work with Buma/Stemra’s members to deepen their “understanding of the platform and the opportunities it presents to those creating and also performing music”.

Buma/Stemra’s members include Dutch EDM stars and TikTok users such as Fedde Le Grand and Tiësto, as well as Martin Garrix, whose hit Ocean featuring Khalid has been used in over 1.4m video creations and Summer Days the soundtrack to 1.2m creations.

In addition, prominent Dutch artists, songwriters and producers Kris Kross Amsterdam, Broederliefde, Duncan Laurence, Sam Feldt, Quintino and Nicky Romero also use the platform.

“This deal with Buma/Stemra secures royalty payments to the Dutch song-writing and publishing community and underlines TikTok’s commitment to paying creators when their music is used.”

Ole Obermann, TikTok

Ole Obermann Global Head of Music at TikTok, said: “This deal with Buma/Stemra secures royalty payments to the Dutch song-writing and publishing community and underlines TikTok’s commitment to paying creators when their music is used.

“Through our platform, a global audience can appreciate and explore their own creativity, using the musical talent of renowned producers, DJs and songwriters from The Netherlands.

“I’m delighted we’ve built on our existing relationship and put this multi-year deal in place.”

“This is good news for our authors and publishers, especially in these days where our members income has diminished in other markets.”

Bernard Kobes, Buma/Stemra

Bernard Kobes, CEO at Buma/Stemra, added:: “We are very happy that the intense but constructive negotiations with TikTok have brought us this agreement.

“This is good news for our authors and publishers, especially in these days where our members income has diminished in other markets.

“We look forward developing this partnership deal further with TikTok and our members”.

 Music Business Worldwide

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Government loses credibility as coronavirus goalposts keep moving

I’ve repeated this often over the last few months. We have lost sight of the goal. I think it’s reasonable for everyone to take a step back and say how did we end up here? How did we go from we need to flatten the curve for the month of April, to “we are going to shut your business down in September and October if you decide to stay open?”

In California, the goalposts continue to move. At the beginning, the goal was to make sure we had enough hospital beds, make sure we had enough PPE equipment, make sure we weren’t having to choose between who could live and who couldn’t. Thankfully, because of the people of San Diego and the great work from our local public health officials, we never had any of those problems.

Now though, the goal has changed. In California, we have a flawed color-coded system and that doesn’t even have a green tier with full openings. Businesses are going to limited in capacity for an indefinite period.

We’ve been told that life won’t get back to normal until there’s a vaccine. So, if the goal truly is to keep everyone locked down until there is a vaccine, we have to start being honest. An Axios/Ipsos poll was done last week that said only 13 percent of Americans would be willing to try the vaccine when it comes out.

Trust is decreasing, and now more and more people are becoming suspicious of what is coming out from the government. Almost all business owners set goals, whether it’s financial or other factors. They set goals as a way to look towards the future.

I look to Governor Newsom and Sacramento and I wonder, what is the goal? Is it hospital capacity? Is it a vaccine and extinction of the virus?

Yes, we should be working on a vaccine, but we should not base our economic future solely on it. We need to learn to live with this virus. If a vaccine is the goal, we need to win the trust back of the public. We need to let them get back to a life as normal as possible. We need to give them the facts.

The facts are, if you are under the age of 50 you have a 99.98% chance of surviving COVID-19. If you are below 70 you have a 99.5% chance. In San Diego County, 6% of our hospital beds are COVID-19 patients, and we have thousands of open hospital beds available in case of an increase. Those are the facts.

We need to quit playing with the emotions of business owners and with flawed color-coded systems. We need to start being honest when it comes to the goals for dealing with COVID-19, because we are quickly losing the trust of the people.

Jim Desmond is a San Diego County supervisor.

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