The Trump travel ban on Muslim-majority countries may be associated with preterm births among women, study says

The 2017 travel ban imposed by the Trump administration on seven Muslim-majority countries may be associated with an increase in preterm births among women from those countries residing in the United States, according to a new study.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Researchers found an increase in preterm birth rates among women from countries on the 2017 travel ban.

© Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images
Researchers found an increase in preterm birth rates among women from countries on the 2017 travel ban.

The study, published last week in the journal Social Science and Medicine, analyzed preterm birth rates among women from countries impacted by the travel ban: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Researchers found an increase after the ban, with a preterm birth rate of 8.6% between February and September 2017. That percentage rose from 8.5% before the ban, between January 2009 and December 2016.

By comparison, US-born, non-Hispanic White women held a steady 8.6% preterm birth rate throughout the time frames.

The 0.1 percentage point increase may not seem dramatic, but it means that the odds of women from these countries having preterm births increased by 6.8%, according to lead author Goleen Samari, an assistant professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

“It’s a massive change when you think about a 6.8% increase,” Samurai told CNN. And because these women typically have better birth outcomes than non-Hispanic White women, Samari says, going from better to worse is significant.

Stress could be reason behind preterm births

To calculate the change, the team used a time series model to estimate the expected preterm birth numbers had the ban not been issued. They used data beginning in 2009 to see what the expected number of preterm births among women from the banned countries would be in 2017 and 2018, after the ban went into place. The team then compared the expected amount of preterm births to the actual amount, showing the elevated trend.

The researchers could not say why the policy led to a rise in preterm births. However, Samurai says that the researchers hypothesized that it was due to stress — either the initial acute stressful shock of the first order or chronic stress exposure as the ban continued to change and make headlines for its court filings or protests.

Another reason could be a decline of quality care, as some women may have avoided prenatal care because they may have felt like they were in a discriminatory environment, Samari says.

Researchers also noted some limitations in their analysis, notably that they did not use individual-level information in their analysis, like maternal facts, political ideology or gestational risk factors that may have contributed to preterm births.

The study stands out for its focus on women from the Middle East and North Africa, who tend to be overlooked as they are classified as non-Hispanic White in data, the researchers say. They add that no study had focused on the impact of a policy that is considered xenophobic and Islamophobic.

Preterm births and poor birth outcomes are “sensitive markers of temporally acute stressors from social and economic threats to

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If Trump skips the inauguration, it may be bad for America, but it would be a gift to Biden

Graham might be right in that Trump’s appearance at a Biden inauguration might be good for the country, but it is almost certainly not ideal for Biden.

Trump, a loser, would still upstage Biden

Consider how the event could play out if Trump were in attendance. Due to the pandemic, the inauguration will already be a sparsely attended event. Hours of television footage probably won’t involve wide pans of an audience on the National Mall. Instead, there will be lingering camera shots of socially distant dignitaries.

Biden wouldn’t be the star even at his own inauguration, but inevitably the supporting actor to Trump’s leading role. Everyone would be keeping an eye on Trump. Would he sulk? Would he tweet during the event? Would he be gregarious and charming?

Instead, if reports are true, Trump will just leave out the back door. (Granted, maybe not so quietly.)

It removes the thorny question about how to handle Trump and COVID precautions

Technically, the inauguration ceremony is hosted by Congress and that is one reason why it is typically held on Capitol Hill. It is their event, and congressional leaders will be the ones figuring how many people will be allowed to witness the proceedings in person and, among other things, where they will get to sit and whether they will be required to wear a face mask.

Now enter Trump into the equation. There is the politics and messaging to the country about what Trump would do regarding rules around COVID. But then there are also legit public health concerns. Two White House events this fall seemed to have been superspreader events. This week, Trump is holding holiday events indoors that could also spread the virus.

Whether or not Trump ends up going to the inauguration, organizers need to figure out how to keep everyone there healthy.

Just imagine the potential of an iconic picture where Trump finally extends a congratulatory handshake to Biden knowing that Biden wouldn’t shake his hand because of COVID. This is a situation Biden would surely like to avoid.

If Trump attends his own rally instead, it just plays into Biden’s hands

There is also reporting in recent days that Trump not only won’t attend the inauguration, but he will also actually leave the White House and do something else: Hold a kickoff rally for a 2024 campaign.

If he does that, then he sets up a dynamic where every criticism Trump makes of Biden going forward, he isn’t doing it as a former president, but as Biden’s chief political opponent. That lessens the impact of the criticism since Trump is then a loser looking for a rematch.

Trump wouldn’t even need to both hold a rally and announce another bid for president. He could just suggest it in a tweet as he flies away on Marine One.

Biden would then be facing an opponent he already beat, have all the advantages of the presidency, and Trump will freeze the GOP field, potentially hampering other candidates who

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U.K. becomes first country to approve Pfizer vaccine, Trump discussed pardons for family and ‘the most 2020 wedding’

Good morning, NBC News readers.

The U.K. has become the first country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine, President Donald Trump has discussed the possibility of pardons for his family and one Georgia official has had enough of Republican silence and failure to condemn threats of violence against election workers.

Here is what we’re watching this Wednesday morning.

‘Help is on its way’: U.K. becomes first country to approve Covid vaccine, says rollout begins next week

The U.K. has become the first country to approve the use of the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, and says it will begin rolling it out next week.

“For so long we’ve been saying that if a vaccine is developed, then things will get better in 2021, and now we can say when this vaccine is rolled out things will get better,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said early Wednesday.

The vaccine was found to be 95 percent effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19, the drugmaker said after clinical trials.

The pharmaceutical giant submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration on Nov. 20 for an emergency use authorization in the U.S.

While the first Covid vaccines are still awaiting approval in the U.S., an independent advisory committee within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is already working on the list of who should be first in line once they become available.

Health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities should be the first groups to be offered the vaccine, according to the proposal. Combined, those groups represent around 24 million Americans.

With infections surging — the U.S. is fast approaching 14 million confirmed cases and the virus has killed more than 271,000 in the country — a vaccine can’t come soon enough.

The 911 system in the U.S. is “at a breaking point,” after receiving little Covid aid, ambulance companies say.

Private EMS services collectively received $350 million in Covid-19 relief funds in April, but those companies said that money ran out within weeks.

Now as they face another coronavirus surge, many private EMS services don’t know how they are going to make it.

And hospitals in a slew of states — from Indiana to Minnesota and Texas — are running out of space, overwhelmed by the number of coronavirus patients they have coming in.

Indiana’s Elkhart General Hospital was forced to stop accepting ambulance traffic for a full seven hours one day last week because it was so over-capacity. It was only the second time in 20 years that Elkhart General had to make that call.

“This is exactly why we were adamant about masks and flattening the curve. This is the situation that we wanted to avoid,” said Dr. Michelle Bache, the vice president of medical affairs at the hospital.

Follow our live blog for all the latest Covid-19 developments.

President Donald Trump has been discussing the possibility of issuing pardons for his family members and some close associates, multiple sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The New York

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Media amnesia over Donald Trump and women on senior comms team

Repeat a lie often and it can become the truth. That is what the media is evidently trying with its claim that Joe Biden shattered a glass ceiling by naming the first all female White House press team. “It is the first time all of the top aides tasked with speaking on behalf of an administration and shaping its message will be female,” declared the Washington Post. “It is the first time the entire senior White House communications team will be entirely female,” added the Associated Press.

a woman in a blue shirt: Media amnesia over Donald Trump and women on senior comms team

© Getty Images
Media amnesia over Donald Trump and women on senior comms team

Besides the fact that an all female White House senior press team can be hardly called diverse, Americans do not have to leave their living rooms to see why this claim is false. Every top communication official representing President Trump and the White House on their televisions is a woman. Kayleigh McEnany, a new mom, serves as White House press secretary. Alyssa Farah, who has served in critical roles in the administration for more than three years, is the White House communications director. Stephanie Grisham now serves as spokeswoman and chief of staff for Melania Trump after her stint as White House press secretary.

Katie Miller serves as communications director for Vice President Mike Pence, and Kara Brooks serves as communications director for Karen Pence. These women are the most senior communications officials in charge of representing the White House. They were preceded by Hope Hicks, Sarah Sanders, and Mercedes Schlapp, who all served in higher ranking roles in different capacities.

As Biden builds his own press shop, the roles on his senior communications team will not look the exact same as they do under Trump. This makes it impossible to do an apples to apples comparison. But in an attempt to prove their claims true, reporters are trying to count lower ranking male deputy communications officials in the White House as senior staff. But it is unclear whether deputy officials qualify as senior officials. The Washington Post admitted this in a later story, writing that “reasonable people can disagree about whether those are technically senior roles.”

If it is true that deputy officials do not count as senior officials, as one of those current deputy officials noted on Twitter, then the Washington Post claim, “It is the first time all of the top aides tasked with speaking on behalf of an administration and shaping its message will be female,” is patently false. Despite receiving hardly any coverage from the media, the current administration shattered that glass ceiling for women.

Similar to how the media tried to erase the role of Richard Grenell in the administration as the first openly gay cabinet level member in the White House, most reporters will never celebrate or even credit Trump for empowering women. He will never receive accolades for nominating two female ambassadors to the United Nations, for selecting women to lead at the State Department, or for empowering

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‘White Women Voted for Trump’ Is the Worst Election Trope

White women voted for Trump. Or so you have probably heard. In the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump’s 2016 victory, the finding from early exit polls that 53 percent of white women voted for Trump formed the basis for a million social-media posts, op-eds, and rally placards. That this “fact” is not true is not even close to the biggest problem with its ubiquitous place in progressive social-justice discourse.

a group of people in front of a crowd posing for the camera: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

© Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images
Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

In the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election, Slate’s L.V. Anderson articulated what would become a ubiquitous theme in the social-justice media world: “White women sold out their fellow women, their country, and themselves last night.”


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The 53 percent figure turned out to be erroneous, and corrected analyses eventually pegged Trump’s share of the white female electorate closer to 47 percent. Nonetheless, the impulse that propelled so many writers to blame white women for electing Trump proved strong enough to survive even after the factual basis was undercut. Indeed, left-wing opinion writers continued churning out polemics based on the erroneous 53 percent figure for years. The production line has kept running right through the 2020 elections, which have yielded more shaky early-exit-poll data that has been turned into another round of flagellation of white women for their alleged collective sin.

A Washington Post op-ed by Lyz Lenz, headlined “White Women Vote Republican. Get Used to It, Democrats.,” uses white women’s alleged support for Trump to urge Democrats to stop focusing on winning them. Lenz bemoans “the amount of money and effort that went to flip suburban women, who had no intention of voting Democratic at all, while other groups of voters were taken for granted.”

Lenz’s argument strings together a series of factual and logical missteps, each compounding the last. First, even after acknowledging that the 2016 exit polls showing Trump won white voters were wrong, she uses the 2020 exit polls anyway. (“Exit polling indicates that Trump’s support had increased among White women.”) Lenz then concedes the figure could, at some point, be “adjusted,” without considering the high probability that the adjustment will in fact negate her premise.

Second, she treats the supposed failure of white women to turn against Trump as a reason Democrats should do less to try to win their votes, while proceeding to treat Trump’s gains among nonwhite voters as a reason Democrats should do more to win their votes. Of course, the whole idea that political parties should ignore constituencies they don’t win is quite odd, but Lenz doesn’t even apply an internally consistent standard to her self-defeating principle.

The most fundamental problem with Lenz’s argument is revealed in her dismissive suggestion “White women are not a swing voting bloc.” The word swing applies to states in the Electoral College. Because the system awards votes on a winner-takes-all basis, states that might swing from one candidate to another command most of the resources. Demographic blocs don’t work like that. It doesn’t

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Melania Trump unveils 2020 White House holiday decorations

This comes on the heels of Trump being labeled a Christmas grump after her stunning “Who gives a f— about the Christmas stuff and decorations?” comment to former East Wing adviser Stephanie Winston Wolkoff. The taped conversation, secretly recorded in 2018 and released in October, created a major stir.

Nevermind. The first lady carried on with her duties, and this year she’s dished up decorations that aptly reflect her patriotic theme, including ornaments in the Library that honor the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and, in the State Dining Room, a gingerbread replica of the White House, including the recently renovated Rose Garden. The official White House Christmas tree, in the Blue Room, features more than 160 pieces of artwork created by students from each state honoring what they think makes their state beautiful.

A Red Room mantel honoring first responders, including a snow-dusted hospital, is a sobering moment in the tour, bringing attention to the pandemic that has killed more than 266,000 Americans.

The White House reported that “more than 125” volunteers worked on the project, and photos shared on the FLOTUS Twitter feed depict some wearing masks while participating in the weekend’s assembly sessions. (In 2018 and 2019, 225 volunteers worked on decorations.)

According to a Nov. 23 article from the Associated Press, the White House is still planning to host a number of holiday parties, despite CDC guidelines indicating that gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading the coronavirus. Stephanie Grisham, first lady Melania Trump’s spokeswoman and chief of staff, told the AP that this year’s holiday events will include smaller guest lists, require masks and encourage social distancing on the White House grounds. Hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the State Floor.

She told the AP: “Guests will enjoy food individually plated by chefs at plexiglass-protected food stations. All passed beverages will be covered. All service staff will wear masks and gloves to comply with food safety guidelines.”

The first lady’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comments on this or questions on how many gatherings were planned.

The 40 towering crimson topiary trees that appeared in the East Colonnade in 2018 (which quickly became known on social media as “the avenue of blood red trees”) this year have been replaced by classical urns filled with “foliage representative of the official tree of each state and territory.”

Certain decorations have become Christmas staples during the Trump era. Be Best ornaments honor the first lady’s children’s initiative. Her “signature wreaths” (pine circles with red bows) made their debut on exterior windows of the White House in 2017 and this year there are 106 wreaths, one adorning each window. The Gold Star Family Tree honoring military families is an annual tradition upon entering through the East Wing, and the 18th century Neapolitan Creche, now in its 53rd year on display at the White House, according to the first lady’s press

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Trump is leaving Biden a Christmas gift of Middle East peace

Will Joe Biden and his foreign-policy team accept the extraordinary gift Team Trump is leaving for them under the Christmas tree — or is their hatred for the president so all-consuming that they will toss it in the garbage?

I’m talking about the Abraham Accords, peace deals between Israel and various Arab states — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan — that have sought the Jewish state’s destruction since its founding in 1948. Normalization has proceeded so quickly, Dubai already has a kosher restaurant, and its supermarkets are stocking Israeli agricultural products festooned with Stars of David — a science-fictional sight only a year ago.

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman — the first face-to-face contact we know about between leaders of Israel and Saudi Arabia. There is no way the UAE and Bahrain made peace without Riyadh’s nod, and so Sunday’s meeting gave rise to the idea that Saudi Arabia might be the next nation to follow suit.

The establishment of diplomatic ties between the two would represent the fulfillment of a key US diplomatic goal dating back seven decades — and the end of the hopeless but destructive Sunni war against Israel’s existence.

It’s unlikely the Saudi-Israeli deal will happen in the 55 days before President Trump leaves office, especially since the Saudis have officially denied the meeting took place. But who knows? Bin Salman is impulsive and incautious, his behavior unpredictable.

Riyadh realized more than a decade ago that its greatest enemy isn’t Israel, but Iran — and that, in fact, the Jewish state and the House of Saud found themselves under the same existential threat once it became clear the Iranians were hell-bent on nukes.

Plus, the two countries found themselves in the same boat when President Barack Obama struck his 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which not only supplied Tehran with hundreds of billions of dollars, but also ­acknowledged the regime’s ultimate right to nukes.

This is where the Biden team and its attitude toward these extraordinary developments may play a decisive role.

Incoming Secretary of State ­Antony Blinken and incoming National ­Security Adviser Jake Sullivan were senior officials during the Obama administration, both deeply involved in negotiating the Iran deal. Both have spoken of their interest in renewing the deal despite Trump’s formal exit from it in 2018. The hunger to do so may reveal a mindset that views the Abraham Accords not as a US triumph, but a sideshow.

First, there is a general sense among all Democrats that anything and everything Trump has touched is corrupted and diseased and must be discarded.

The Abraham Accords are in part an outgrowth of the Trump administration’s clear tilt toward Israel from the moment it took ­office and the move of the American embassy to Jerusalem. That may alone may render the accords suspect in Obamian eyes.

At the same time, Biden now presides over a Democratic Party whose antipathy toward Israel is growing, as represented by

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Maskless man seen exhaling on women outside Trump golf club charged with assault

A man has been charged with misdemeanor assault after he was seen forcefully exhaling on two women outside of President Donald Trump’s golf course in Virginia.

a group of people riding on the back of a truck: President Donald Trump golfs at Trump National Golf Club on November 22, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia.

© Tasos Katopodis, Getty Images
President Donald Trump golfs at Trump National Golf Club on November 22, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia.

In video footage now widely shared on social media, Raymond Deskins, 61, intentionally blows air on the unidentified women when one asks him to get away and points out that he’s not wearing a mask.

“That’s assault” one of the women says afterwards.

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“I breathed on you,” Deskins replies.

Virginia mandates masks be worn in certain areas to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but they are not required outdoors.

The altercation occurred Saturday outside of Trump National Golf Club in Loudoun County, Va., where the president was playing. Protestors and supporters regularly gather outside the club’s entrance when he plays.

Deskins was seen wearing a pro-Trump shirt and inflatable pool tube around his waist. In a letter, several members of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors signed and sent to law enforcement Sunday, the two women were described as protesting the president at the time of the incident.

The letter, written by Chair-at-Large Phyllis Randall, also asked for a full investigation.

“We are in a hundred-year, highly contagious, worldwide pandemic of a deadly virus that has killed more than 250,000 Americans,” Randall wrote. “Not wearing [a mask] and not social distancing, is clearly irresponsible. Willfully coughing in someone’s face is clearly dangerous.”

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said the altercation was investigated at the scene — but was “not witnessed by law enforcement and the video did not capture the entire interaction.” The sheriff’s office advised both parties that they could seek a citizen obtained warrant through a county magistrate.

Deskins was charged with misdemeanor assault Sunday after such a warrant was obtained.

FOX 5 DC identified one of the women as Kathy Beynette. Beynette told the station that “the incident itself came so out of nowhere that it was shocking,” adding that Deskins approached them without prior conversation.

Both FOX 5 and the Associated Press were unable to reach to Deskins for comment Sunday.

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Man seen exhaling on women outside Trump golf club charged with misdemeanor

A Virginia man wearing a Trump T-shirt has been charged with misdemeanor assault for intentionally exhaling on two protesters outside the president’s golf club in Sterling, Va.

Man seen exhaling on women outside Trump golf club charged with misdemeanor

© Getty Images
Man seen exhaling on women outside Trump golf club charged with misdemeanor

A 24-second cellphone video shot Saturday by one of the two women shows Raymond Deskins arguing with the two women, followed by one of them shouting at him to get away from her. Deskins is also wearing an inflatable inner tube with Trump’s image on it.

The second woman then accuses Deskins of “get[ting] up in somebody’s face,” and tells him to keep his distance as he is not wearing a mask.

In response, Deskins takes a deep breath and exhales in the women’s direction.

When one of the two women calls this “assault,” Deskins responds “I breathed on you” before repeating the act.

“Two separate parties reported they were assaulted during a verbal argument outside of Trump National Golf Club,” the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement, according to CNN. “As the incident was not witnessed by law enforcement and the video did not capture the entire interaction, an investigation was conducted on scene and both parties were advised they could go to a Loudoun County Magistrate and seek a citizen obtained warrant.”

The sheriff’s department later updated the statement, saying Deskins had been released on a summons after deputies served the warrant and charged him with simple assault.

Virginia currently requires masks in certain locations, although not outside, where the incident took place.

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A man in Trump gear faces simple assault charge after he was seen breathing on women outside a Trump golf club

A man wearing a Trump shirt and an inflatable Trump innertube around his belly who was seen on video deliberately exhaling on two women outside of President Donald Trump’s golf course in Virginia has been charged with simple assault.

a man looking at the camera: Raymond Deskins was charged with misdemeanor simple assault, police said.

© Twitter
Raymond Deskins was charged with misdemeanor simple assault, police said.

Raymond Deskins, 61, of Sterling, Virginia, was charged with misdemeanor simple assault, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

One of the women shot cellphone video of Saturday’s incident outside Trump’s club in Sterling and posted it on social media.

Michele Bowman, public information officer for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed to CNN that Raymond Deskins, the man charged, is the man seen in the video.

CNN has been unable to reach Deskins despite multiple attempts.

In the 24-second video, Deskins — who was not wearing a mask — can be seen in a verbal confrontation with the women who were there protesting Trump. It is not apparent what happened before the video began.

The women can be heard telling him to get away from them and back up. One of the women yelled at him, “Get away from me! Get away from me!”

The other woman told him, “You don’t get up in somebody’s face,” to which he responded, “I’m not in anybody’s face.”

She replied, “You are in my face — and you don’t have a mask, so you need to back up.”

That’s when the man can be seen exhaling forcefully, apparently in the direction of one of the women. The women gasped in shock as the man turned around with a smirk on his face.

One of the women yelled, “That’s assault!”

The man yelled back, “I breathed on you!” He then exhaled on the woman taking the video.

“Two separate parties reported they were assaulted during a verbal argument outside of Trump National Golf Club,” the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “As the incident was not witnessed by law enforcement and the video did not capture the entire interaction, an investigation was conducted on scene and both parties were advised they could go to a Loudoun County Magistrate and seek a citizen obtained warrant.”

LCSO later updated their statement to say, “This afternoon our deputies served a warrant obtained by a citizen through a Loudoun County Magistrate. Raymond Deskins, age 61, of Sterling, VA, was charged with simple assault (misdemeanor) and released on a summons.”

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