The federal Department of Veterans Affairs has been giving 1,300 veterans hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus since late March — even though the drug has not been proven to be effective against the illness and may even trigger fatal heart problems.
In a study of 100,000 patients with COVID-19 published Friday in the medical journal The Lancet, patients who received hydroxychloroquine had a “significantly higher risk of death” compared to those who were not given the drug. “We were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine” on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19, the researchers concluded.
An April study of veterans who were given the drug — relentlessly hawked by President Donald Trump — produced similar findings.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a letter Friday to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that despite mounting concerns about the drug, the VA will continue to use hydroxychloroquine for veterans.
Revelations of the use of the controversial antimalarial drug have sparked concerns about the effects it may have on veterans, many of whom are older and have underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to a fatal side effect of the drug: heart arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats.
“Veterans’ groups remain deeply concerned that the VA has made large purchases of this drug and appears to have administered it to veterans despite the well-known, and in some cases, fatal risks,” Schumer wrote Wilkie earlier this month.
After Wilkie’s letter on Friday, Schumer responded in a statement later that day, saying, “This drug may be useless or even harmful for COVID-19 patients, but the VA continues to administer it to hundreds of vets. Why are we just learning this?”
“We need to know what the basis was for using this drug against the consensus of science, which called into question its effectiveness in treating COVID-19,” he continued. “We also need to know who is authorizing these new trials, what facilities are participating and what families are being told.”
Trump has been aggressively pitching hydroxychloroquine since March, even though the drug had not yet undergone clinical trials examining its effectiveness against COVID-19.
“What do we have to lose?” he asked during a briefing.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization have both warned against using the drug to treat COVID-19.
Last Monday, the president attacked a study of veterans treated with the drug that showed no benefits against the coronavirus. He called the findings a “Trump enemy statement,” insisting they were politically motivated. He then claimed that he had been taking the drug for weeks, though he stopped on Friday.
The Trump administration ordered 29 million doses of hydroxychloroquine before it underwent trials for COVID-19 treatment. The VA also bulk-ordered some 6.3 million doses, according to Wilkie’s letter.
American journalist killed by Russian forces in Ukraine, police say
An American journalist was killed and another journalist was wounded by Russian forces in the town of Irpin outside the capital of Kyiv on Sunday, Ukrainian police said.
Brent Renaud, a 50-year-old filmmaker, was killed when Russian troops opened fire, according to Andriy Nebytov, the head of Kyiv’s regional police force. Nebytov posted a graphic photo purportedly of Renaud’s body on Facebook, as well as pictures of his American passport and media credentials issued by The New York Times.
A spokeswoman for the Times said Renaud was “a talented filmmaker who had contributed to The New York Times over the years,” most recently in 2015, but he “was not on assignment for any desk at The Times in Ukraine.”
Nebytov wrote that Renaud “paid [with] his life for trying to highlight the aggressor’s ingenuity, cruelty and ruthlessness,” according to an automated translation of his Facebook post.
Renaud and his brother Craig Renaud have reported from a number of global hotspots over the past two decades, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt, according to a biography on their website. The pair won a Peabody Award in 2015 for an eight-part documentary for Vice News about a school in Chicago for students with severe emotional issues.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan called reports of Renaud’s death “shocking and horrifying,” telling “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the U.S. and its allies would impose “appropriate consequences” against Russia for the killing.
“I will just say that this is part and parcel of what has been a brazen aggression on the part of the Russians where they have targeted civilians, they have targeted hospitals, they have targeted places of worship and they have targeted journalists,” Sullivan said.
Singer Traci Braxton of ‘Braxton Family Values’ dies at 50
Singer Traci Braxton, who was featured with her family in the reality television series “Braxton Family Values,” died at age 50 on Saturday.
Her sister, Toni, and family said that Braxton died “this morning as the snow was falling.” According to reports, Traci Braxton had been fighting esophageal cancer.
“Needless to say, she was a bright light, a wonderful daughter, an amazing sister, a loving mother, wife, grandmother and a respected performer,” the family said. “We will miss her dearly.”
“Braxton Family Values” aired for seven seasons starting in 2011 on WeTV. It focused on the lives of sisters Toni, Traci, Tamar, Trina and Towanda and their extended families.
Traci was an actress and singer who released albums in 2014 and 2018, with the singles “Last Call” and “Broken Things” her best-known songs.
She spent much of her time doing social work for children with disabilities, according to her website.
She was married to Kevin Surratt, with whom she appeared on the TV series “Marriage Boot Camp.”
Their son, Kevin Surratt Jr., said on Instagram Saturday that his mother fought to the end.
“I love my mother forever and this hurts so much but I’m at peace knowing she’s not in pain anymore,” he said.
UNITED MASTERS TEAMS UP WITH THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS
BPRW) UNITEDMASTERS TEAMS UP WITH THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS TO GIVE INDEPENDENT ARTISTS THE OPPORTUNITY TO WIN $15K AND HAVE THEIR MUSIC INCLUDED IN THE FILM’S PROMOTIONAL CAMPAIGN
ORIGINAL SONG “BACK TO LIFE” FROM EMERGING HIP-HOP ARTIST QUANTRELLE WINS GRAND PRIZE; 5 RUNNERS UP TO RECEIVE $1,000
(Prestige Celebrity Magazine) NEW YORK, NY — In celebration of the highly anticipated film The Matrix Resurrections, UnitedMasters – the “record label in your pocket” for independent artists – has joined forces with Warner Bros. Pictures to offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for artists to win $15,000 and have their original music included in the film’s promotional campaign.
Today, UnitedMasters has revealed rising hip-hop artist and Charlotte, NC native Quantrelle as the winner of the contest. Quantrelle’s song, “Back to Life,” written specially for the open call, will receive the $15,000 cash prize and be featured in The Matrix Resurrections promotional campaign. Quantrelle’s track was selected as the lead song out of thousands of entries.
Quantrelle shared, “When I first started working on this song, the intention was to create a sound that embodied the energy of the movie. Once that feeling was solidified, I got inspired to write lyrics that really speak to the film and are words any Matrix fan would understand. I was really inspired by the scene of Neo dodging bullets, which I watched during the process, and that illustrious moment felt so in sync with what I was going for, that’s when I knew we had something special.”
Five runners-up were also selected to receive $1,000 each to put towards their music careers. Each track was judged by UnitedMasters’ professional sync team and based on encompassing The Matrix themes, overall creativity, production quality, lyrical content, dynamics, mood, and emotion. The Matrix Resurrections is set to release in U.S. theaters and on HBO Max on December 22nd.
UnitedMasters’ engagement with The Matrix Resurrections aligns with their mission of ensuring the next generation of creators take their futures into their own hands. UnitedMasters is dedicated to helping artists level the playing field by offering opportunities and exclusive resources often reserved for major label acts. The platform gives independent artists access to premium music distribution services, a suite of tools to help directly connect with their fans, and opportunities to connect with brands that want access to premium music produced and owned by independent artists. UnitedMasters artists maintain ownership over their master recording rights while being introduced to millions of new fans worldwide through direct brand partnerships.
Launched in 2017 by Translation founder and music industry veteran Steve Stoute, UnitedMasters is a music technology company that gives creators access to premium music distribution services, a suite of tools to help them directly connect with fans, and opportunities for unique partnerships with some of the world’s biggest brands all while allowing them to maintain full ownership over their master recording rights.
About The Matrix Resurrections
The Matrix Resurrections reunites Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss as cinematic icons Neo and Trinity. Return to a world of two realities: one, everyday life; the other, what lies behind it. To find out if his reality is a physical or mental construct, to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more. And if Thomas…Neo…has learned anything, it’s that choice, while an illusion, is still the only way out of—or into—the Matrix. Of course, Neo already knows what he has to do. But what he doesn’t yet know is the Matrix is stronger, more secure and more dangerous than ever before. Déjà vu.
The film also stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Jada Pinkett Smith (“Angel Has Fallen,” TV’s “Gotham”).
Lana Wachowski directed from a screenplay by Wachowski & David Mitchell & Aleksander Hemon, based on characters created by The Wachowskis. The film was produced by James McTeigue, Lana Wachowski and Grant Hill. The executive producers were Garrett Grant, Terry Needham, Michael Salven, Karin Wachowski, Jesse Ehrman and Bruce Berman.
Wachowski’s creative team behind the scenes included directors of photography Daniele Massaccesi and John Toll, production designers Hugh Bateup and Peter Walpole, editor Joseph Jett Sally, costume designer Lindsay Pugh, visual effects supervisor Dan Glass, and composers Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer.
Warner Bros. Pictures Presents, In Association with Village Roadshow Pictures, In Association with Venus Castina Productions, The Matrix Resurrections. The film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures. It will be in theaters nationwide and on HBO Max via the Ad-Free plan on December 22, 2021; it will be available on HBO Max in 4K UHD, HDR10, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos (English only) on supported devices for 31 days from theatrical release.