Covid: Gangrene, hearing loss show Delta variant may be more severe

By Bhuma Shrivastava | Bloomberg

The coronavirus variant driving India’s devastating Covid-19 second wave is the most infectious to emerge so far. Doctors now want to know if it’s also more severe.

Hearing impairment, severe gastric upsets and blood clots leading to gangrene, symptoms not typically seen in Covid patients, have been linked by doctors in India to the so-called delta variant. In England and Scotland, early evidence suggests the strain — which is also now dominant there — carries a higher risk of hospitalization.

Delta, also known as B.1.617.2, has spread to more than 60 countries over the past six months and triggered travel curbs from Australia to the U.S. A spike in infections, fueled by the variant, has forced U.K. to reconsider its plans for reopening later this month, with a local report saying it may be pushed back by two weeks. Singapore found that the mutation accounted for 95% of the local Covid samples linked to variants of concern. Higher rates of transmission and a reduction in the effectiveness of vaccines have made understanding the strain’s effects especially critical.

“We need more scientific research to analyze if these newer clinical presentations are linked to B.1.617 or not,” said Abdul Ghafur, an infectious disease physician at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai, southern India’s largest city. Ghafur said he is seeing more Covid patients with diarrhea now than in the initial wave of the pandemic.

‘New Enemy’

“Last year, we thought we had learned about our new enemy, but it changed,” Ghafur said. “This virus has become so, so unpredictable.”

Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, hearing loss and joint pain are among the ailments Covid patients are experiencing, according to six doctors treating patients across India. The beta and gamma variants — first detected in South Africa and Brazil respectively — have shown little or no evidence of triggering unusual clinical signs, according to a study by researchers from the University of New South Wales last month.

Some patients develop micro thrombi, or small blood clots, so severe that they led affected tissue to die and develop gangrene, said Ganesh Manudhane, a Mumbai cardiologist, who has treated eight patients for thrombotic complications at the Seven Hills Hospital during the past two months. Two required amputations of fingers or a foot.

“I saw three-to-four cases the whole of last year, and now it’s one patient a week,” Manudhane said.

Baffling Clots

India has reported 18.6 million Covid cases thus far in 2021, compared with 10.3 million last year. The delta variant was the “primary cause” behind the country’s deadlier second wave and is 50% more contagious than the alpha strain that was first spotted in the U.K., according to a recent study by an Indian government panel.

The surge in cases may have driven an increase in the frequency with which rare Covid complications are being observed. Even still, Manudhane said he is baffled by the blood clots he’s seeing in patients across age groups with no past history of coagulation-related problems.

“We suspect it could be because of the new virus variant,” he said. Manudhane is collecting data to study why some people develop the clots and others don’t.

Doctors are also finding instances of clots forming in blood vessels that supply the intestines, causing patients to experience stomach pain — their only symptom, local media have reported.

Some Covid patients are also seeking medical care for hearing loss, swelling around the neck and severe tonsillitis, said Hetal Marfatia, an ear nose and throat surgeon at Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial Hospital.

“Every person is showing different symptoms” in the second wave, she said.

‘Atypical Presentations’

The unusual presentations for delta and a closely related variant known as kappa, whose spread led to a fourth lockdown in the Australian city of Melbourne, are still being confirmed, said Raina MacIntyre, a professor of global biosecurity at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. “In the meanwhile, it is important to take note of this and be aware of possible atypical presentations,” she said.

Delta Variant From India Begins to Show Its True Ugly Colors

The most alarming aspect of the current outbreak in India is the rapidity with which the virus is spreading, including to children, said Chetan Mundada, a pediatrician with the Yashoda group of hospitals in Hyderabad.

Entire Families

Apollo’s Ghafur said he was also seeing entire families with Covid symptoms, unlike last year when individuals dominated, reflecting an increase in household transmission caused by the delta variant.

Cases of Mucormycosis — a rare opportunistic fungal infection — have also been surging in India. It had infected more than 8,800 Covid patients and survivors as of May 22, forcing local health care authorities to call it an epidemic.

Even as India’s outbreak begins to ease — daily infections have slipped to less than a quarter of the May 7 peak — the delta variant is sparking outbreaks elsewhere, including hitherto virus havens such as Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam, bolstering calls for mass immunization.

German politician and scientist Karl Lauterbach said Tuesday the variant will probably become more prevalent in Germany too in the coming months. “To avoid it completely seems unrealistic to me,” he said on Twitter in German. “The decisive factor is a very high vaccination rate, which reduces mortality.”

But with emerging evidence delta and at least one other variant may be adept at evading vaccine-induced antibodies, pharmaceutical companies are under pressure to tweak existing shots or develop new ones.

“New vaccines have to prepared with new variants in mind,” said Ghafur. “We can’t get ahead of the virus, but at least we can least keep up with it.”

— With assistance by P R Sanjai, and Chris Kay

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Massive internet outage: Websites and apps around the world go dark

By Jordan Valinsky and David Goldman | CNN Business

Countless websites and apps around the world went down Tuesday after Fastly, a major content delivery network, reported a widespread failure.

Fastly supports news sites and apps like CNN, the Guardian, the New York Times and many others. It also provides content delivery for Twitch, Pinterest, HBO Max, Hulu, Reddit, Spotify and other services.

Other major internet platforms and sites including Amazon, Target, and the UK government website — Gov.uk — were affected.

The problem appeared to be related to an outage at Fastly, a cloud service provider. The company said on its service status website (which was working) Tuesday morning it had identified the problem and fixed the issue — but many sites were still unavailable for some users at 7 a.m. ET.

Fastly helps improve load times for websites and provides other services to internet sites, apps and platforms — including a large global server network.

Major website and app outages happen from time to time and typically don’t last long — internet service providers, content delivery networks and other hosting services are built with multiple redundancies and a global network of backup servers designed to reduce disruptions when things go haywire.

In August 2020, CenturyLink, an internet service provider that is supposed to keep websites up and running, was down itself for the better part of a day. That meant Cloudflare, Hulu, the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, Feedly, Discord, and dozens of other services reported connectivity problems. When Cloudflare — a content delivery network like Fastly — went down, it took dozens of website and online services along with it.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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What business owners are saying the high cost of real estate

My days are filled counseling business owners. You see, my commercial real estate practice focuses on family-owned and operated manufacturing and logistics companies experiencing a transition.

Frequently, this transition causes a decision to be made about their locations. As an example. let’s say the operation is considering a merger. When two groups morph into one, a duplication of their facilities emerges, and in some cases, excess capacity results.

Our services are engaged to dispose of the overage through selling or subleasing the unwanted space. An expansion into another state also requires a partnership with us. We are able to locate vacant buildings in need of an occupant and negotiate lease or sale transactions. A dramatic increase in orders could lead to the need for a larger building.

Yep,we’ve seen that transition a lot these days.

But today, I’d like to focus on the conversations I’m having with entrepreneurs outside of their commercial real estate concerns. After all, small business is the fabric of our economy and employs a substantial percentage of our workforce.

Never in my four decades as a commercial real estate practitioner have I heard this much angst.

Hiring is tough. The pandemic of 2020 placed many people on the unemployment roll. To combat this, state and the federal government created unemployment benefits that in some cases can reach $1,000 per week. Additionally, the time an unemployed or furloughed worker could receive these benefits was extended.

Consequently, a worker could make a fairly nice living by not working. Now that our economy is opening again, manufacturing and logistics companies are finding it difficult to persuade workers back into their plants.

An acute shortage of available candidates for job openings exists. Even prior to the pandemic, skilled workers were difficult to find. Those who operate machining or other specialized equipment were in short supply. Now it’s downright impossible to employ these experts. Plus, our community colleges were not engineered to prepare students for manufacturing careers.

Raw material pricing is skyrocketing. Copper, petroleum, plastic resin, building materials, lumber and steel are all in terribly short supply. Doubt but I say? Go to your local Home Depot and check out the price for a piece of 2×4 lumber. You might want to bring your mortgage broker along with you as a purchase could require a second mortgage on your home!

Manufacturers are pinched at every stage, from stocking enough components for the creation of their product, increased wages for the folks running their machinery and higher gasoline prices that push up shipping costs. Expect to see your pocketbook affected eventually.

Is the grass greener? Regardless of the size of an operation, many I’ve spoken with are considering locating outside the state of California. But are other states really more receptive? Yes!

I just came back from a trip to Georgia on behalf of one of our clients. They have engaged us to locate three facilities for them nationally – one of the west, one in the central part of the United States and one in the east.

We found Georgia and the individual communities to be extremely receptive to the 200-plus jobs our client will deliver to the local economy. Incentives, reduction in regulation, property tax rate rebates, streamlined building permits, sales tax reduction, industrial development bonds, employee training and tax credits for hiring are all on the table.

We were shocked at the red carpet that was rolled out for our requirements. And here I thought the red carpet was only seen at the Academy Awards. Boy, was I wrong!

Government overreach. AB5, new AQMD requirements, increases in the minimum wage, noise abatement and lengthy permitting processes all have an impact on the operation of a manufacturing or logistics company.

Layer in some uncertainty about property taxes, long-term capital gain increases, the potential abolition of the tax-deferred exchange and the absolutely insane pricing for commercial real estate and you get a sense of what’s keeping owners awake at night.

The California I remember embraced small business and provided a platform to succeed — by stepping aside. Hewlett Packard, Disney, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon all started with a dream in someone’s garage. My, how far we’ve drifted.

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at abuchanan@lee-associates.com or 714.564.7104. 

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Now proven against coronavirus, mRNA can do so much more

By Maggie Fox | CNN

When the final Phase 3 data came out last November showing the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna were more than 90% effective, Dr. Anthony Fauci had no words. He texted smiley face emojis to a journalist seeking his reaction.

This astonishing efficacy has held up in real-world studies in the US, Israel and elsewhere. The mRNA technology — developed for its speed and flexibility as opposed to expectations it would provide strong protection against an infectious disease — has pleased and astonished even those who already advocated for it.

The messenger RNA, or mRNA, platform may be new to the global public, but it’s a technology that researchers had been betting on for decades. Now those bets are paying off, and not just by turning back a pandemic that killed millions in just a year.

This approach that led to remarkably safe and effective vaccines against a new virus is also showing promise against old enemies such as HIV, and infections that threaten babies and young children, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and metapneumovirus. It’s being tested as a treatment for cancers, including melanoma and brain tumors. It might offer a new way to treat autoimmune diseases. And it’s also being checked out as a possible alternative to gene therapy for intractable conditions such as sickle cell disease.

Vaccines

The story of mRNA vaccines dates back to the early 1990s, when Hungarian-born researcher Katalin Kariko of the University of Pennsylvania started testing mRNA technology as a form of gene therapy. The idea is similar whether scientists want to use the mRNA molecule to cure disease or prevent it; send instructions to the cells of the body to make something specific.

Researchers like to use a cookbook analogy. The body’s DNA is the cookbook. Messenger RNA is a copy of the recipe — one that disappears quickly. In the case of genetic disease, it can be used to instruct cells to make a healthy copy of a protein. In the case of mRNA vaccines, it’s used to tell cells to make what looks like a piece of virus, so the body produces antibodies and special immune system cells in response.

The recipe disappears while the cooked product — the body’s immune response — lasts.

Kariko was unable to drum up much interest in this idea for years. But for the past 15 years or so, she’s teamed up with Dr. Drew Weissman, an infectious disease expert at Penn Medicine, to apply mRNA technology to vaccines. Since scientists started focusing on the threat of a pandemic caused by a new influenza or coronavirus, they’ve recognized the promise of mRNA vaccines for quickly turning around a pandemic vaccine.

“If you want to make a new influenza vaccine using the traditional methods, you have to isolate the virus, learn how to grow it, learn how to inactivate it, and purify it. That takes months. With RNA, you only need the sequence,” Weissman told CNN.

They did not even need a sample of the virus itself.

“When the Chinese released the sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we started the process of making RNA the next day. A couple weeks later, we were injecting animals with the vaccine.”

Although it sounded revolutionary, the idea was far from new to Weissman, Kariko and others.

“In my lab, we have been working on vaccines for years. We have five Phase 1 clinical trials that we started before Covid hit,” said Weissman, whose work with Kariko helped lead to Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine.

“They been delayed because of the pandemic. The plan is to complete them next year.”

Two of these experimental vaccines target influenza, including one Weissman hopes will be a so-called universal influenza vaccine — one that will protect against rapidly mutating strains of flu, and perhaps offer people years of protection with a single shot, eliminating the need for fresh immunizations each flu season.

They are also working on two vaccines against the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, that causes AIDS, and one to prevent genital herpes.

Researchers have also studied mRNA vaccines to fight Ebola, Zika, rabies and cytomegalovirus.

Another possible target: respiratory syncytial virus. RSV infects most people in babyhood, and it can put fragile infants into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). It kills an estimated 100-500 children a year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates — but it kills an estimated 14,000 adults, mostly over age 65.

“It infects everyone by age 2,” said Jason McLellan, a structural biologist and Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry at The University of Texas at Austin whose work underlies several coronavirus vaccines.

One obstacle will be finding the best version of the viruses. McLellan specializes in finding just the right conformation of the target viral structures that will allow the human immune system to best recognize and build defenses against them.

GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer are both working on that, he said. A different common cold virus called human metapneumovirus, which can cause pneumonia in adults and children alike, is another potential target for a vaccine, McLellan said.

Again, ongoing work helped speed development of coronavirus vaccines, McLellan said. In this case, work on the original 2003-2004 severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, virus and Middle East respiratory, or MERS, virus helped researchers understand which version of the knoblike structure found on the outside of the virus, called the spike protein, to use in making vaccines. “We figured out how to stabilize coronavirus spikes back in 2016, so we had all the knowledge ready when Covid-19 emerged,” McLellan said.

It was ready to go “within hours,” he said.

Other potential vaccines include malaria, tuberculosis and rare viruses such as Nipah virus, Weissman said — all made more possible by the mRNA technology. Effective vaccines against these infections have eluded scientists for various reasons.

Weissman’s lab is now working on a universal coronavirus vaccine that would protect against Covid-19, SARS, MERS, coronavirus that cause the common cold — and future strains.

“We started working on a pan-coronavirus vaccine last spring,” Weissman said. “There have been three coronavirus epidemics in the past 20 years. There are going to be more.”

And the mRNA vaccines work very well. “We knew in mice and monkeys and rabbits and pigs and chickens that it was very potent,” Weissman said. The Pfizer vaccine, he said, produces an antibody response that is five time bigger than what’s see in people who have recovered from infection.

Cancer

Another obvious use for mRNA technology is to fight cancer. The human body fights off cancer every day, and using mRNA could help it do so even better.

“You can use it to have your body produce a beneficial molecule,” McLellan said.

Different tumor cell types have various, recognizable structures on the outside that the immune system can recognize. “You can imagine being able to inject someone with an mRNA that encodes an antibody that specifically targets that receptor,” McLellan said.

Moderna — a company formed specially to develop mRNA technology — is working on personalized cancer vaccines.

“We identify mutations found on a patient’s cancer cells,” the company says on its website. Computer algorithms predict the 20 most common mutations. “We then create a vaccine that encodes for each of these mutations and load them onto a single mRNA molecule,” Moderna says. That’s injected into the patient to try to help orchestrate a better immune response against the tumors.

This is early, Phase 1 clinical research.

BioNTech founders Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci also had cancer vaccines in mind from the beginning. The company has eight potential cancer treatments in human trials. “While we believe our approach is broadly applicable across a number of therapeutic areas, our most advanced programs are focused on oncology, where we have treated over 250 patients across 17 tumor types to date,” the company says on its website.

Autoimmune diseases

Using mRNA to fight autoimmune diseases is an “exciting area,” McLellan said.

Current treatments are crude and involve tamping down specific areas of the mistaken immune response — something that can leave patients with autoimmune disease such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis vulnerable to infection.

BioNtech has been working with academic researchers to use mRNA to treat mice genetically engineered to develop a disease similar to multiple sclerosis — an autoimmune disease that starts when the immune system mistakenly attacks the myelin, a fatty covering of the nerve cells.

In the mice, the treatment appeared to help stop the attack, while keeping the rest of the immune system intact.

Gene therapy

The idea behind gene therapy is to replace a defective gene with one that works properly. Despite decades of work, researchers haven’t had much success, with the exception of certain immune deficiencies and some eye diseases.

It’s difficult to find a vector to carry the corrected gene into cells without causing side-effects, and in a way that lasts.

The mRNA approach promises to send instructions for making the healthy version of a protein, and Weissman sees special promise in treating sickle cell disease, in particular.

In sickle cell disease, red blood cells take on a folded shape and can clog tiny blood vessels, causing pain and organ damage. Messenger RNA could be used to change the instructions going to the bone marrow, where red blood cells are made, telling them to make healthier shaped cells.

“Now that we can target that cell, the hope is we can give people an injection of RNA and it will target the bone marrow stem cells and fix the disease,” Weissman said.

“It’s gene therapy without the half a million dollar price tag,” he added. “It should be just an IV injection and that’s it.”

Tests in mice are showing promise — the next step it to test the approach in monkeys, Weissman said.

In 2008, a company then called Shire Pharmaceuticals started to develop mRNA treatments for cystic fibrosis — a deadly genetic illness caused by any one of a number of small mutations to a gene called CFTR.

That technology is now owned by Translate Bio, a company dedicated to making mRNA therapies and vaccines. It’s working to correct faulty CFTR in the lungs by delivering mRNA via a nebulizer. The treatment appears safe in early stage trials in people and has won orphan drug status from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Tickborne diseases

The mRNA approach might also work against some tickborne diseases, Weissman said.

“The idea there is if you are immune to tick saliva proteins, when the tick bites you, the body produces inflammation and the tick falls off,” Weissman said.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, and the tick generally has to stay attached 36 to 48 hours before it transmits the bacteria to the host. If the tick falls off before that, it cannot transmit the infection.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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How to read a tax notice from the (real) IRS

The extended May 17th IRS tax deadline has passed and most of us will breathe a sigh of relief as refunds arrive or tax payments clear the bank. Another year done!

But what if weeks or months after you thought you were done with taxes, you receive a notice there was something wrong with your return? Maybe the notice stated the return was prepared incorrectly or that they intend to audit it or that you owe. Perhaps the notice is so unclear you cannot tell what they want. What should you do?

The good news is, more likely than not, the notice is about a minor issue that can be cleared up quickly. In fact, you have less than a 1% chance of being audited. So, here is how to decipher a notice from a tax agency and why, more often than not, it is not something that should cause too much anxiety.

Beware of fraud

First, if it is a legitimate tax notice, you should have received it by mail. Most tax agencies, including the IRS, will almost never initially contact you by phone, text, or email. If you receive a communication that you think might be fraudulent, report it to reportfraud.ftc.gov.

Next, make sure that the letter is from a governmental tax agency and not from a company selling tax negotiation or corporate filing services.

For example, the name on the letter might be from the Franchise Tax Service when the official State of California tax agency is named the Franchise Tax Board. It’s easy to mistake one for the other.

One way to be sure is to look at the website address on the notice. The extension should be .gov and not .com or .net. Go to the website to see if it is an official IRS or state tax agency website.

When to respond

Find the notice date on the top or the top right corner of the letter. Next, note the due date of when your response is required. It is usually in bold letters in the body of the letter or at the end. Put the due date on your calendar as a reminder to respond in time.

A legitimate tax notice will give you adequate time to respond, generally 14 to 30 days. Tax agencies will often send several notifications requesting payment and provide you sufficient time to answer before sending a certified letter threatening to lien or levy. If they finally do threaten collection action, the notice will include your rights as a taxpayer and instructions on how to appeal the action.

If you need more time than the letter allows to respond, you should always call the number on the notice. When you speak to an agent, be sure to write down their name and ID number. There is almost always a fax number on the notice. It is a good idea to document all phone calls by also sending a fax. Save the fax confirmation sheets.

If you used a tax professional to prepare your return, you should fax or send a copy of the notice right away through their secure portal. (Email is not a safe way to send tax information to anyone.) Your preparer may or may not have made a mistake, so it is not helpful to blame them at this point.

When to pay

Thankfully, the most common notice and the easiest to respond to is a request for additional late filing penalties, late payment penalties, or interest. The notice will generally contain a table in the body of the letter that has some penalty codes and will state any additional interest charged. Look at the back of the notice to look up the codes.

Sometimes, the charge might be for paying your estimated taxes a few days late. Also, tax programs do a poor job of calculating late payment interest up to the date the return was filed, especially on state income taxes due. If the tax on your return matches the notice, but there is additional interest, it might be that interest was not calculated correctly.

If the notice is for a small amount due, it might make sense to pay the balance. If the agency charged late filing or late payment penalties when you filed and paid on time, you might need to send them proof of when you filed your return (or extension) and paid the tax. Once you send the confirmation, they will generally remove the charges.

What to send

If an agency asks for you to send additional information, make sure to send copies. Never send original documents. I once represented a meat salesman who sent an original Elvis wall calendar with his mileage information to the IRS. Unfortunately, the calendar was lost and so was proof of his automobile expense.

Another common type of letter is one wherein a tax agency is proposing changes to your return. This can happen if income amounts, like interest from a small bank account, were omitted, or if the wrong amounts, like incorrect withholding on a W-2, were reported.

The letter will generally compare what you reported on your return with the amounts that were reported to the agency. If a 1099 or W-2 was missing from the return, the letter might sometimes tell you which form was omitted. If the change is correct and the balance due is reasonable, it might make sense to pay the balance.

There are times when you should not just pay the balance. A taxpayer forgot to include stock sales reported on one of his brokerage accounts. The IRS sent him a letter proposing an adjustment and adding in the gross sales price of the stock sales as income. The taxpayer realized that the IRS did not include the cost of the stock in the calculation. The taxpayer wrote the IRS and sent them the brokerage 1099 with the cost of the stock info.

The agent suggested the taxpayer file an amended tax return to claim the stock sales and the loss. Taxpayers have three years from the date they filed their original return to file an amended return to claim a refund. Filing an amended return with the agent saved the client thousands of dollars in proposed taxes.

Hiring help

Suppose the letter is serious and is calling for an audit. In that case, you might want to consider hiring a tax attorney, a CPA, or an enrolled agent with experience handling tax examinations. (Check their credentials online before hiring.) Also, consider requesting a correspondence examination instead of an in-person or onsite examination to save time and costs.

Chances are, however, that if you received a tax notice, it is probably for something minor. Take care of it right away, and you will not have to think about taxes again until next year.

Michelle C. Herting, CPA, ABV, AEP, specializes in estate, trust and gift taxes, and business valuations. She has three offices in Southern California and serves on the boards of several educational and professional organizations.

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Southwest Airlines bans woman accused of knocking out flight attendant’s teeth

DALLAS  — Southwest Airlines has banned a woman accused of punching a flight attendant in the face last weekend in an incident that highlighted a recent increase in unruly passengers.

An airline executive disclosed the ban Thursday in a message to employees.

The incident happened shortly after a plane from Sacramento, California, landed in San Diego on Sunday morning. San Diego Harbor Police arrested Vyvianna Quinonez, 28, and charged her with felony battery.

The airline said the passenger ignored instructions from the flight attendant before assaulting her. A brief video posted by another person on the flight shows a woman punching the flight attendant and a male passenger interceding to stop the attack.

Police said Thursday that Quinonez is 5-foot-5 and 175 pounds and the flight attendant suffered “serious injuries.” The president of her union said she lost two teeth.

Sonya Lacore, Southwest’s vice president of in-flight operations, told flight attendants that the airline has a process for permanently banning passengers and “the passenger involved in the most recent incident has been advised that she may no longer fly on Southwest Airlines.”

The Dallas-based airline has not revealed the name of the flight attendant, who was treated at a San Diego hospital and released. Lacore said she has contact her, “and we will continue to provide her the support she needs.”

The president of the union, Lyn Montgomery, cited the incident this week in asking the airline to respond more forcefully when passengers are disruptive and to lobby for more federal air marshals on flights.

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Class A industrial availability to see big changes ahead in Orange County

I’ve written ad nauseam about the imbalance existing between supply and demand of available industrial buildings in Southern California.

Since the economy was reawakened – akin to Rip Van Winkle – in 2011 and after the mortgage meltdown, we’ve been on an upward trajectory. Recently, in the last six months of 2020 and the first four months of 2021, we’ve been on turbocharge!

If you desire to lease or buy a 100,000-plus-square-foot Class A building in Orange County, you have exactly one choice! That’s it. And, by the way, the building isn’t complete and won’t be until October. What about older stock? Unfortunately, the inventory isn’t more plentiful. Therefore, lease rates and sales prices have eclipsed sanity.

You may be wondering what differentiates older buildings – Class B and C – from newer Class A alternatives. These things: age, location and amenities.

During the last construction boom in the mid-2000s, very few industrial buildings in Orange County came equipped with warehouse ceiling heights in excess of 24 feet. Additionally, the fire suppression system rarely allowed high-pile storage without special permitting.

Consequently, logistics providers — those e-commerce folks who stack and ship things to your front door — were forced to consider areas where abundant new construction was occurring – the Inland Empire.

Well, that’s about to change! The development pipeline plans 10 new offerings with all the modern goodies of 30-foot ceilings and early suppression, fast-release sprinkler systems. Large truck access will be eased with 180-foot turning capabilities. Beautiful new offices will be housed at the entrance.

By the fourth quarter of 2022, approximately 3.2 million square feet of pristine new warehouses will be delivered to the Orange County market. To put that in perspective, that’s about 2.8% of the base of 116 million square feet. A whopping number!

Where, you may be wondering?

Fullerton has three projects totaling over 1.9 million square feet. Brea has three projects with 450,000 square feet. A new development in Orange will have 300,000 square feet. Two projects in Anaheim will total 350,000 square feet, and finally, Tustin is getting a new 225,000 square foot location.

Related: Logistics hub coming to former Kimberly-Clark campus in Fullerton

Underpinning the new construction was a ravenous rush by developers to consume land at the end of 2020 and that pace continues this year. But, it’s not vacant acreage. All of the new product is replacing obsolete manufacturing and flex campuses. A few of the notables include Kimberly Clark, Kraft Heinz, National Oilwell Varco, Schneider Foods and Universal Alloys.

Related: Amazon triples Southern California delivery hubs to get packages out faster

Yes, it’s very sad to see the manufacturing jobs stripped away.

Many of the major players are in the fray: IDI, Duke Realty, Goodman, Rexford and Western Realco. Capital is flowing in from internal sources and institutional means. This boom in construction also will keep contractors very busy. KPRS, Millie Severson, Oltmans and Fullmer lead the pack. Finally, our local architects have been drawing like crazy. Think: Hill Pinkert, Ware Malcomb and AO or Architects Orange.

Rents for the new product are projected to be well north of $1 per square foot. When I started in 1984, we were lucky to get 30 cents. My, how the landscape has changed!

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at abuchanan@lee-associates.com or 714.564.7104. 

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Palestinians see victory in Gaza truce as Israel warns Hamas

By FARES AKRAM and JOSEPH KRAUSS

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinians rallied by the thousands Friday after a cease-fire took effect in the latest Gaza war, with many viewing it as costly but clear victory for the Islamic militant group Hamas. Israel vowed to respond with a “new level of force” to any further hostilities.

The 11-day war left more than 200 dead — the vast majority Palestinians — and brought widespread devastation to the already impoverished Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. But the rocket barrages that brought life to a standstill in much of Israel were seen by many Palestinians as a bold response to perceived Israeli abuses in Jerusalem, the emotional heart of the conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against further attacks, saying, “If Hamas thinks we will tolerate a drizzle of rockets, it is wrong.” He vowed to respond with “a new level of force” against aggression anywhere in Israel.

The Israeli leader, who has faced criticism from his hawkish base for ending the offensive prematurely, said Israel had done “daring and new things, and this without being dragged into unnecessary adventures.” He added that Israeli forces had caused “maximum damage to Hamas with a minimum of casualties in Israel.”

Israeli strikes killed more than 200 militants, including 25 senior commanders, and hit more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) of militant tunnels, Netanyahu said.

The truce faced an early test when clashes broke out between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police following Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem that is sacred to Jews and Muslims. It was unclear what sparked the violence.

Police fired stun grenades and tear gas, and Palestinians hurled rocks and at least one firebomb after hundreds took part in a celebratory demonstration in which they waved Palestinian and Hamas flags and cheered the militant group. Clashes between protesters and police there earlier this month were one of the main triggers for the war.

Protesters also clashed with Israeli troops in parts of the occupied West Bank, which has seen violent demonstrations in recent days linked to Jerusalem and Gaza.

Thousands took to the streets of Gaza as the cease-fire took hold at 2 a.m. Young men waved Palestinian and Hamas flags, passed out sweets, honked horns and set off fireworks. Celebrations also broke out overnight in east Jerusalem and across the occupied West Bank. Israel captured all three territories in the 1967 war and the Palestinians want them for their future state.

An open-air market in Gaza City that was closed throughout the war reopened and shoppers could be seen stocking up on fresh tomatoes, cabbage and watermelons. Workers in orange traffic vests swept up rubble from surrounding roads.

“Life will return, because this is not the first war, and it will not be the last war,” said shop owner Ashraf Abu Mohammad. “The heart is in pain, there have been disasters, families wiped from the civil registry, and this saddens us. But this is our fate in this land, to remain patient.”

There was little to celebrate in the hard-hit northern town of Beit Hanoun, where residents, many of whom had lost loved ones, surveyed wrecked homes.

“We see such huge destruction here, it’s the first time in history we’ve seen this,” said Azhar Nsair. “The cease-fire is for people who didn’t suffer, who didn’t lose their loved ones, whose homes were not bombed.”

Like the three previous wars, the latest round of fighting ended inconclusively. Israel claimed it inflicted heavy damage on Hamas with hundreds of bruising airstrikes but once again was unable to halt the rockets.

Hamas also claimed victory but faces the daunting challenge of rebuilding in a territory already suffering from high unemployment and a coronavirus outbreak.

At least 243 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children, with 1,910 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not list the numbers of fighters and civilians. Twelve people were killed in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl.

In Gaza, rescue workers were still recovering bodies from areas that had been too dangerous to enter. Five were collected Friday in the southern town of Khan Younis, including that of a 3-year-old, the Red Crescent emergency service said.

The fighting began May 10, when Hamas militants in Gaza fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem. The barrage came after days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police at Al-Aqsa. Heavy-handed police tactics at the compound, and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers had inflamed tensions.

The competing claims to Jerusalem lie at the heart of the conflict and have repeatedly triggered bouts of violence.

The cease-fire was brokered by neighboring Egypt after the U.S. pressed Israel to wind down the offensive. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to visit the region “to discuss recovery efforts and working together to build better futures for Israelis and Palestinians.” the State Department said.

Hamas and other militant groups fired over 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities, launching them from civilian areas. Dozens landed as far north as the bustling commercial capital of Tel Aviv.

Israel, meanwhile, carried out hundreds of airstrikes, targeting what it said was Hamas’ military infrastructure.

The United States, Israel’s closest and most important ally, initially backed what it said was Israel’s right to self-defense against indiscriminate rocket fire. But as the fighting dragged on and deaths mounted, the Americans increasingly pressured Israel to stop the offensive.

President Joe Biden welcomed the cease-fire. He said the U.S. was committed to helping Israel replenish its supply of interceptor missiles and to working with the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority — not Hamas — to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Netanyahu faced heavy criticism from members of his hawkish, nationalist base. Gideon Saar, a former ally who leads a small party opposed to the prime minister, called the cease-fire “embarrassing.” Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the far-right Jewish Power party, tweeted that the cease-fire was “a grave surrender to terrorism and the dictates of Hamas.”

In a potentially damaging development for the Israeli leader, the Palestinian militants claimed Netanyahu had agreed to halt further Israeli actions at the Al Aqsa Mosque and to call off the planned evictions of Palestinians in the nearby Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. An Egyptian official said only that tensions in Jerusalem “will be addressed.”

Some 58,000 Palestinians sought shelter in crowded U.N. schools amid a coronavirus outbreak. Thousands returned to their homes as the truce took hold.

The fighting dealt another blow to the already decrepit infrastructure in Gaza. The small coastal territory, home to more than 2 million Palestinians, has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007, confining his authority to parts of the occupied West Bank.

The World Health Organization says 30 health facilities in Gaza were damaged, with one clinic destroyed and another with significant damage. An airstrike damaged the only facility in Gaza processing coronavirus tests, forcing a halt to testing in the territory.

Fabrizio Carboni, regional director for the Near and Middle East at the International Committee of the Red Cross, estimated there were “several hundred” pieces of unexploded ordnance strewn in Gaza, adding that medical supplies were a pressing need.

___

Krauss reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jamey Keaten in Geneva and Karin Laub in the West Bank contributed.

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What we know about UFOs: How the Pentagon has handled reported sightings, mysterious videos and more

By Zachary Cohen | CNN

For years, the US government largely ignored reports of mysterious flying objects seen moving through restricted military airspace but it is now slowly beginning to acknowledge that UFOs, which the Pentagon refers to as unidentified aerial phenomena, are real.

While it is certainly premature to speculate as to whether these flying objects come from another world, the US military has recently confirmed the authenticity of several videos and images showing encounters with unidentified flying objects — fueling questions about what the Pentagon knows about such incidents and others like them.

Next month, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and other agencies are scheduled to deliver unclassified reports on UFOs to Congress.

The Department of Defense’s watchdog is also set to examine how the Pentagon has handled reports of UFOs. A source with knowledge of the subject matter told CNN earlier this month that there will be more inquiries announced in the near future on how these encounters were handled in recent years.

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Here’s what to know about UFOs:

What is a UFO?

In short, a UFO is a flying object that looks or moves unlike any aircraft used by the US or any foreign country.

By their very nature, UFOs are shrouded in mystery and there are still a lot more questions than answers about these unexplained incidents.

There have been numerous UFO sightings in recent years but the military has only recently verified a handful of those reported encounters.

Last month, the Pentagon confirmed the authenticity of photos and video taken by Navy personnel in 2019 that appeared to show triangle-shaped objects blinking and moving through the clouds.

Another set of photos from Navy personnel showed three objects apparently flying in the sky, shaped like a sphere, an acorn and a metallic blimp.

In April 2020, the Pentagon released three short videos from infrared cameras that appeared to show flying objects moving quickly. Two of the videos contain service members reacting in awe at how quickly the objects are moving. One voice speculates that it could be a drone.

The Navy previously acknowledged the veracity of the videos in September of 2019 but officially released them months later, “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos,” Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said at the time.

“After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems,” said Gough in a statement, “and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena.”

In 2017, one of the pilots who saw one of the unidentified objects in 2004 told CNN that it moved in ways he couldn’t explain.

“As I got close to it … it rapidly accelerated to the south, and disappeared in less than two seconds,” said retired US Navy pilot David Fravor. “This was extremely abrupt, like a ping-pong ball, bouncing off a wall. It would hit and go the other way.”

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Are we talking about aliens?

The US government’s acknowledgment that UFOs are real undoubtedly begs the question: Are we alone?

Luis Elizondo, the former head of a classified DoD program to research potential UFOs, told CNN in 2017 that he personally believes “there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone.”

“These aircraft — we’ll call them aircraft — are displaying characteristics that are not currently within the US inventory nor in any foreign inventory that we are aware of,” Elizondo said of objects they researched. He says he resigned from the Defense Department in 2017 in protest over the secrecy surrounding the program and the internal opposition to funding it.

But in reality, interest in the Pentagon’s handling of reported unidentified flying objects has more to do with ensuring any potential national security implications are being taken seriously — whether they are of this world or not.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s weather balloons, little green men, or something else entirely — we can’t ask our pilots to put their lives at risk unnecessarily,” Rachel Cohen, spokeswoman for Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, told CNN in 2019 after senators received a classified briefing from Navy officials on unidentified aircraft.

What will upcoming UFO report say?

While subject matter experts have applauded recent moves by the US government to share more information about UFO encounters reported over the last several decades, many remain skeptical that the upcoming report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and other agencies will provide a comprehensive look at the issue.

That’s because the Pentagon has long resisted acknowledging that some of what has been observed is simply unexplainable despite compelling evidence that these objects displayed characteristics that are not normally associated with conventional aircraft, according to Elizondo.

“Best case scenario … there’s an interim report that will meet the intent of Congress with a promise to provide another report following this one,” Elizondo told reporters last month. “Unfortunately there’s a lot more we don’t know than we do know. The good news is that we’re finally taking it seriously.”

The Pentagon has previously studied recordings of aerial encounters with unknown objects as part of a since-shuttered classified program that was launched at the behest of former Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.

The program was launched in 2007 and ended in 2012, according to the Pentagon, because the Defense Department assessed that there were higher priorities that needed funding.

Reid, Elizondo and others who have pushed for the government to release more information about UFOs say materials that have been released so far only scratch the surface of what is known.

Last year, the Pentagon created a task force to better understand “the nature and origins of UAPs,” the Defense Department said in a statement.

“The Department of Defense and the military departments take any incursions by unauthorized aircraft into our training ranges or designated airspace very seriously and examine each report. This includes examinations of incursions that are initially reported as UAP when the observer cannot immediately identify what he or she is observing,” the statement continued.

The task force has included the videos whose authenticity was confirmed last month.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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How a week with a 2-year-old teaches us real estate lessons 

I just concluded a week with our 2- almost 3-year-old grandson. We’ve been blessed with five altogether – four boys and a little girl. They range in age from 5 to 1.

Why was I a caregiver? Well, my wife, aka Nana, a budding stand-up comic, and our son-in-law were traveling to one of her gigs. You see, we also have a massive construction project underway that required supervision. Therefore the youngster’s mom – our daughter – and I became the village.

Our daughter manages a team of customer care reps. Typically, her husband and Nana share the childcare load. But with two villagers absent, my work had to be planned carefully to correspond with his pre-school. On the two non-school days, he and I were joined at the hip.

You may be wondering what any of this has to do with commercial real estate. As the title previews – several lessons were learned. Indulge me while I share a few.

Working and most important things

The life of a commercial real estate practitioner is segmented into three time expenditures. First, we must work in the business – finding, winning and fulfilling transactions. Some agents consume all their waking hours in pursuit of deals.

But, as my mentor says – this “transaction treadmill” will age you prematurely. Working on the business – thinking about how we find, win and fulfill – must play a role in our days. Smarter not harder should be our mottos.

Both of these pursuits – in and on – enable an opportunity to enjoy precious moments such as dance recitals, Little League practices, Scout outings visits to the tot park at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday. These are all things a 2-year-old cares about.

Too often we are so caught up in the daily cadence, we forget what is truly important. My grandson will not remember the deal I closed. He’ll only recall Papa missed Grandad’s Day at school.

Everyone is your friend

Watching our grandson interact on the playground with other kids was insightful. I’m not one of these helicopter grandparents who hovers over his every move. Sure, if he’s about to clock some kid, I’m there. But, generally, I’ll allow him a bit of space. I observe and wonder.

If I approached every prospective encounter with the non-judgment of a 2-year-old, what then? Unfortunately, years of bias cloud our views and dictate our approach to new relationships.

If you make a mess, so what?

Those of you with little ones are collectively nodding. I’m sure our three children were messy, but man! He can dismantle a room quicker than the Tasmanian devil. But, you know what? It’s now all back in order, as if no one visited.

Sure, in mid-demo it was overwhelming. But, everything returned to normal soon enough. Commercial real estate deals can get messy, too. Sometimes, downright ugly. But, normalcy returns – albeit slowly sometimes. Once the closing occurs, we rarely remember the turbulence before landing.

A mid-day siesta is epic

This might be the best lesson I learned! Two-year-olds wear themselves out and by 1 p.m. they’re cranky. On reflection, I also learned I am cranky as well.

But, at some point in our working careers, we are taught to “push-through” it all. Last week, in order to ensure he went down and stayed down, I snuggled in. Voila! 30 minutes later, I emerged quite refreshed and ready to slay more dragons.

Plus, I found an hour-plus while he rested.

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at abuchanan@lee-associates.com or 714.564.7104.

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