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Monday, Sep 24, 2018
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Cracking the peanut allergy; Clooneys inspire $2M celebrity donations to March For Our Lives; lawyer admits lying to Mueller team; more in U.S. news


Cracking the allergy

The first treatment to help prevent serious allergic reactions to peanuts may be on the way. California’s Aimmune Therapeutics said Tuesday that its daily capsules of peanut powder helped children build tolerance in a major study. Millions of children are allergic to peanuts. Doctors have been testing daily doses of peanut, contained in a capsule and sprinkled over food, as a way to prevent life-threatening reactions by gradually getting kids used to very small amounts. Aimmune Therapeutics said 67 percent of tested kids were able to tolerate the equivalent of roughly two peanuts at the end of the study, compared to only 4 percent of others given a dummy powder. But a big warning: Don’t try this at home. "This is investigational. It has to be done in a very safe setting," said Dr. Stacie Jones, an allergy specialist.

Washington, D.C.

Lawyer admits lying to Mueller team

A lawyer whose firm was accused of whitewashing abuses by the former president of Ukraine in cooperation with Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, pleaded guilty Tuesday to making false statements to Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian election interference. Alex van der Zwaan’s false statement regarded communications he had with Rick Gates, a longtime associate of Manafort and a former Trump campaign aide, about work they did in 2012 for the Ukrainian government. Both Gates and Manafort have been charged by Mueller with money laundering and violations of tax and lobbying laws and have pleaded not guilty, although there are reports that Gates will plead guilty as soon as this week and testify against Manafort. Van der Zwaan worked in London for the prominent New York law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom before he was fired last year.


Coldilocks, the oldest captive polar bear in the U.S., dies

The oldest captive polar bear in the U.S. has died. The Philadelphia Zoo on Tuesday said Coldilocks was euthanized. Zoo officials said the 37-year-old bear had a variety of age-related medical issues. "She was really a great animal," said Dr. Keith Hinshaw, the director of animal health. It was "spectacular" for Coldilocks to surpass the average 23-year lifespan of a polar bear, he added. About a week ago, her appetite waned and her activity level decreased, Hinshaw said. Medical tests turned up potential liver and spinal problems on top of others. Dr. Andy Baker, the zoo’s chief operating officer, said Coldilocks brought attention to how climate change affects polar bears and will be greatly missed.


Face of Trump.Dating has child sex conviction, and there’s more

A North Carolina man who was one of the faces of a dating service for fans of President Donald Trump has a felony conviction for sex with a child. And that’s not the only strange news. Visitors to Trump.Dating were originally greeted with images of conservative activists Jodi and William Barrett Riddleberger. State records show William Riddleberger was convicted in 1995 of indecent liberties with a child stemming from filming sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 25. His conviction is well known in Guilford County, N.C. He told WRAL-TV that he’s "already paid (his) debt" for that charge. Records show he didn’t serve prison time. By Tuesday, the site featured a new middle-aged couple in a stock photo. Trump.Dating spokesman Sean McGrossler in a statement said the Riddlebergers had not revealed their history to the website and they "no longer represent the Trump.Dating image." The statement also mentioned the site — which gives users the options of only "Straight Man" and "Straight Woman" to register — incorrectly allowed in married Trump supporters. The Washington Post discovered the Daily Caller on Feb. 5 named the site’s founder and owner as Sean McGrossier, sometimes spelling it as McGrossler. And for some reason, McGrossler’s byline on the Daily Caller is tagged as "ariddleberger." The spokesman did not respond to questions from the Washington Post. — tbt* wires

Clooneys inspire $2M celebrity donations to march against guns

George and Amal Clooney early Tuesday announced a $500,000 donation to students organizing nationwide marches against gun violence, spurring celebrity donations. The actor-human rights lawyer couple’s statement added they will attend the Washington march. The Clooneys donated in their infant twins’ names and said they’re inspired by the Florida survivors-turned-activists from Stoneman Douglas High School. Not long after, other celebrities followed the Clooneys’ lead. Media mogul Oprah tweeted she would match the $500,000 donation, adding "these inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s." Director Steven Spielberg said the Parkland students are "an inspiration to us all" in a statement, according to Variety. He and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, pledged $500,000. Variety also reported co-founder of DreamWorks Animations, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and his wife, Marilyn, would match the Clooneys’ donation and join the march to "stand alongside these remarkable young people." The March 24 marches nationwide will urge lawmakers to enact tougher gun control. — Ashley Dye, tbt*

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