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Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli to Plead Guilty in College Admissions Scandal

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  • For over a year, Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli maintained their innocence after being accused of paying half a million dollars to get their daughters into the University of Southern California as false rowing recruits. 
  • Now, Loughlin will plead guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, agreeing to a two-month prison sentence, a $150,000 fine, and 100 hours of community service. 
  • Giannulli will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud, agreeing to a five-month prison sentence, $250,000 fine, and 250 hours of community service. 
  • The other charges against the couple will be dropped, though a judge will have the final say on the extent of their punishment. 

Couple to Enter Guilty Plea

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, will plead guilty to charges related to the college admissions scandal after maintaining their innocence for over a year.

The couple is scheduled to enter their plea Friday morning. Loughlin and Gianulli were accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters, Isabella Rose and Olivia Jade, into the University of Southern California as false rowing recruits. 

They will become the 23rd and 24th parents in the College Admission Scandal to enter into a guilty plea. Loughlin will be pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. She has agreed to serve two months in prison, a fine of $150,000, two years of supervised release, and 100 hours of community service. 

Giannulli will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud. He has agreed to a sentence of five months in prison, a fine of $250,000, two years of supervised release, and 250 hours of community service. All other charges against both Loughlin and Giannulli will be dismissed, per the agreement. A judge will have the final say on the extent of their punishment. 

If the couple had continued to plead not guilty, they would have faced trial in October. If they were found guilty there, conspiracy charges could have landed them up to 20 years in prison. 

In the past couple of months, major developments in the case painted a bleak picture for the couple. In April, a release of evidence included photos that were allegedly used as part of the scam to get their daughters into USC. The photo showed Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose on rowing machines. Accompanying email correspondences showed Rick Singer, the mastermind behind the colossal scandal, requesting Giannulli send action shots of the girls so he could build their athletic portfolios. 

On May 8, a judge dismissed Loughlin’s and Giannulli’s bid to have the charges dropped against them. They cited misconduct on the behalf of federal agents, claiming they fabricated evidence. The judge rejected the bid, saying there was no such misconduct. 

Online Reactions

Soon after the news of their guilty plea broke, Loughlin, as well as Aunt Becky, the name of her famous Full House character, became trending topics on Twitter.  A major discussion point was the brevity of the possible sentences, which many considered to be a minor slap on the wrist afforded to them because of their wealth, privilege, and celebrity status.

People experienced a similar outrage when actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to just 14 days for her participation in the college admissions scandal. Huffman was accused of getting her child’s SAT scores faked. Prosecutors initially suggested she get four months. When all was said and done, Huffman was released after serving just 11 days.

Many brought up the case of Tanya McDowell, a woman in Connecticut who lied about her address to get her son into a better school district. McDowell was homeless and living out of her van at the time, and used her babysitter’s address on documents. She ended up getting five years in prison after entering a plea deal that encompassed charges related to this as well as drug charges. 

Many of the other parents involved in the scandal have received relatively light sentences. The news of Loughlin’s plea agreement surfaced frustrations around this again. 

“The type of ‘justice’ Lori Loughlin got is generally reserved for the rich and the white,” one Twitter user wrote. 

Some also believed that because Loughlin and Giannulli dragged this process out for over a year before pleading guilty, this was an especially huge miscarriage of justice. 

Others also thought that because of the coronavirus pandemic, the couple might try to serve the majority of their sentence from home instead of in prison, making it an even more relaxed punishment. 

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (Wall Street Journal) (Variety)

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FDA Authorizes Moderna and J&J COVID Vaccine Boosters, Approves Mix-and-Match Doses

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The approval will allow at-risk Americans who received Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to get any booster six months after their initial series and all Johnson & Johnson recipients 18 and older to do the same two months after their single-shot dose.


New FDA Authorization

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized boosters shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines and approved a mix-and-match strategy that will allow people who got one company’s shot to get a booster from a different maker.

The decision paves the way for millions of more at-risk Americans to get extra protection, and not just certain Pfizer recipients as previously approved by the FDA.

Under the authorization, people who received Moderna or Pfizer can get any one of the three booster shots six months after completing their initial series if they are 65 and older, at high risk of severe COVID, or face increased exposure because of their work.

Meanwhile, all J&J recipients 18 and older can get any of the approved vaccines two months after they received the one-shot jab.

Hazy Recommendations, For Now

Notably, the FDA did not recommend a certain combination of vaccines, nor did the agency say whether or not it would be more effective for people to stick with their original vaccine maker for their booster.

The new authorizations draw on a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that there are no safety concerns with mixing boosters and that vaccine combinations were at least as effective in stimulating antibodies as matched vaccines.

In the case of J&J recipients, the NIH found that people actually had a higher boost from mixing either Moderna or Pfizer boosters.

However, some of the scientists who worked on the study said it should not be used to recommend one combination over another because the research was limited.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which determines vaccine recommendations, could issue more guidance on when and whether people should switch vaccine makers for their booster shots.

An advisory panel for the agency is meeting Thursday to discuss the new FDA authorizations and recommendations.

Once the panel makes its decision, the CDC director has the final say on the guidelines. If the agency agrees with the FDA’s decisions, the booster shots could be rolled out as soon as this weekend.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)

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Paris Hilton Urges Lawmakers To Crack Down on Abusive Teen Treatment Facilities

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The heiress alleges that she was a victim of abuse in these types of centers for two years and wants to ensure that no child suffers through the same experience.


Paris Hilton Details Abuse Within “Troubled Teen Industry”

Socialite and entrepreneur Paris Hilton spoke outside of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to support the Accountability for Congregate Care Act, which is set to be introduced in the near future.

Hilton joined Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to advocate for the legislation, which aims to create a “bill of rights” for children in treatment and behavioral centers.

The heiress has alleged that she spent two of her teenage years in these types of facilities and was subject to rampant abuse. She is far from alone. 

During a press conference, Hilton said that one night when she was 16, she woke up to two large men in her bedroom forcing her out of her house. She said she screamed for help because she thought she was being kidnapped, but her parents watched as she was taken away to a “troubled teen” program. 

“Like countless other parents of teens, my parents had searched for solutions to my rebellious behavior,” she explained in an op-ed for The Washington Post this week. “Unfortunately, they fell for the misleading marketing of the ‘troubled teen industry’ — therapeutic boarding schools, military-style boot camps, juvenile justice facilities, behavior modification programs and other facilities that generate roughly $50 billion annually in part by pitching ‘tough love’ as the answer to problematic behavior.”

Hilton said she was sent to four different facilities where she was “physically and psychologically abused.” 

“I was strangled, slapped across the face, watched in the shower by male staff, called vulgar names, forced to take medication without a diagnosis, not given a proper education, thrown into solitary confinement in a room covered in scratch marks and smeared in blood and so much more,” she explained during the press conference. 

“At Provo Canyon School in Utah, I was given clothes with a number on the tag. I was no longer me, I was only number 127,” she continued. “I was forced to stay indoors for 11 months straight, no sunlight, no fresh air. These were considered privileges.”

Goals of the  Accountability for Congregate Care Act

Hilton claims that a lack of transparency and accountability has allowed this structure of abuse to thrive for decades. In some cases, she said it has taken children’s lives. Now, she wants Congress and President Joe Biden to act. 

“This bill creates an urgently needed bill of rights to ensure that every child placed into congregate care facilities is provided a safe and humane environment,” Hilton said of the Accountability for Congregate Care Act.

“This bill of rights provides protections that I wasn’t afforded, like access to education, to the outdoors, freedom from abusive treatment, and even the basic right to move and speak freely. If I had these rights and could have exercised them, I would have been saved from over 20 years of trauma and severe PTSD.” 

Foster children, children being treated for mental disorders, and other children in youth programs would be impacted by the bill.

Hilton was one of several survivors and advocates who fought for the legislation on Wednesday. Rep. Khanna thanked them for using their stories to fight for change. 

“No child should be subjected to solitary confinement, forced labor, or any form of institutional abuse,” he wrote. “Thanks to Paris Hilton, my colleagues & the survivors & advocates who joined us today to discuss how we can hold the congregate care industry accountable.”

While only Democratic legislators are currently sponsoring the bill, Hilton called for a bipartisan effort to fight for the rights of children. 

Ensuring that children are safe from institutional abuse isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue,” Hilton said. “It’s a basic human rights issue that requires immediate attention.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hill) (NBC News)

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Surgeons Successfully Test Pig Kidney Transplant on a Human

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The procedure has been hailed as a major scientific breakthrough that could eventually open the door to a renewable source of desperately needed organs.


Groundbreaking Procedure

Surgeons at the NYU Langone Transplant Institute revealed Tuesday that they temporarily attached a kidney from a genetically modified pig to a human patient and found that it worked normally.

The operation was the first of its kind and could one day lead to a vast supply of organs for those who are in severe need. According to the Associated Press, more than 90,000 people in the U.S. are in line for a kidney transplant. Each day, an average of 12 die while waiting.

With the family’s consent, the groundbreaking procedure was performed on a brain-dead patient who was kept alive on a ventilator.

According to the surgeons, the pig used was genetically engineered to grow an organ that wouldn’t produce a sugar that the human immune system attacks, which would then trigger the body to reject the kidney. 

The organ was connected to blood vessels on the patient’s upper leg, outside the abdomen, and it was observed for over 54 hours, with doctors finding no signs of rejection.

Concerns and Hurdles Ahead

While the procedure was successful, this doesn’t mean it’ll be available to patients anytime soon. Several questions about long-term functionality remain, and it will still have to go through significant medical and regulatory hurdles. 

Details of the procedure haven’t even been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal yet, though there are plans for this. 

Experts are also considering the ethical implications of this type of animal-to-human transplant. For some, raising pigs to harvest their organs raises concerns about animal welfare and exploitation. Such medical procedures have already earned criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.

“Pigs aren’t spare parts and should never be used as such just because humans are too self-centered to donate their bodies to patients desperate for organ transplants,” PETA said in a statement, according to The New York Times.

On the other side of the debate are people like Dr. Robert Montgomery, the director of the N.Y.U. Langone Transplant Institute who performed the breakthrough procedure in September.

“I certainly understand the concern and what I would say is that currently about 40% of patients who are waiting for a transplant die before they receive one,” he told BBC.

“We use pigs as a source of food, we use pigs for medicinal uses – for valves, for medication. I think it’s not that different.”

See what others are saying: (CNN)(BBC) (The New York Times)

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