The Cleveland Clinic and the American Cancer Society Cancel Events at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Country Club!

Dear Commons Community,

Coming on the heels of CEOs resigning from Donald Trump’s advisory councils over his comments about the violence in Charlottesville last weekend, two major nonprofit organizations are canceling  their plans to host upcoming events at the President’s Mar-a-Lago Club.

The Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit medical center, announced its decision to cancel hosting its annual charity gala at the Palm Beach, Florida, resort in a statement on yesterday.

“After careful consideration, Cleveland Clinic has decided that it will not hold a Florida fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago in 2018,” the statement said. “We thank the staff of Mar-a-Lago for their service over the years.”

The annual event, which typically raises around $1 million and is attended by roughly 500 people, had been scheduled to take place on Feb. 24, 2018 and would have marked eight years in a row at the location.

Sheil told The Huffington Post there were “a variety of reasons” the clinic decided to drop Mar-a-Lago, but wouldn’t elaborate much further.

“I think the community really was asking us to not have it there,” Sheil said, adding that the decision was made Thursday morning.

The clinic is currently looking into other locations to host the gala.

Hours after Cleveland Clinic announced their plans to scrap their planned event, the American Cancer Society followed suit.

The nationwide health organization confirmed it is seeking a new venue to host its Island of Palm Beach gala on Feb. 22, 2018 in a statement to The Huffington Post. The organization has hosted the event at Mar-a-Lago since 2007.

“When we chose to hold our 2018 event and related dinner at Mar-a-Lago, we selected the venue based on a variety of factors, including costs and venue requirements,” the statement said.

“Our values and commitment to diversity are critical as we work to address the impact of cancer in every community,” the statement continued. “It has become increasingly clear that the challenge to those values is outweighing other business considerations.”

The American Cancer Society and Cleveland Clinic are the latest organizations to distance themselves from Trump following nearly a week of withering criticism over his response to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that left one dead and dozens injured.

Toby Cosgrove, the chief executive of Cleveland Clinic was a member of the Strategic and Policy Forum, one of Trump’s two business advisory councils that disbanded this week in the wake of Trump’s explosive comments.

The actions on the part of the Cleveland Clinic and the American Cancer Society hit Trump where it hurts.  Wound’t it be interesting if they turned into a full-scale boycott.



1 in 7 Public School Students Experience Homelessness in New York City!

Dear Commons Community,

A new report released yesterday by the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, concludes that one in every seven New York City public school students will be homeless at some point during elementary school. 

“In every school classroom, that’s two or three kids,” said Anna Shaw-Amoah, principal policy analyst at the institute. “And the challenges are not just about whether you’re currently living in a shelter or a doubled up setting, but did they have that experience last year, or did they have this experience in kindergarten? The instability really travels with students. If you fall behind in one year, it’s going to be harder to get on grade level the next year.”

Within the last six years, more than 140,000 New York City students have been homeless, the report said.

The growing number of homeless children is part of the fallout of the city’s housing crisis, which has seen a growing number of families in city shelters, as rents have risen, federal and state aid has dwindled, and a state rental assistance program ended. The de Blasio administration has struggled to slow the rising numbers, but with little success.

Below is an Executive Summary of the Report.



On the Map: The Atlas of Student Homelessness in New York City 2017

Executive Summary

Education provides the best chance for children to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness. Not only is academic achievement crucial for life outcomes, but the social and emotional development that happens in school is vital as well. The connections created in the classroom are even more critical for any child who has experienced housing instability and homelessness.

More than 140,000 children attending New York City public schools have experienced homelessness within the past six years. Together, these children would form a city larger than White Plains and New Rochelle combined, with roughly the same population size as Syracuse, New York. Given the prevalence of homelessness among school-age students, educators and policymakers need to understand the educational challenges that students experiencing homelessness face, and the opportunities that exist to help students in temporary housing succeed.

Homelessness is more than a lack of housing. For the more than 140,000 students in New York City who have been homeless, the impact of housing instability is all too real. These children are not only struggling with maintaining a place to sleep, but also attending school, succeeding academically, and accessing supports for their additional educational and behavioral needs. Improving student achievement for homeless and formerly homeless students is not as simple as addressing a student’s housing, but knowing more about homeless students’ experiences in school is an important step to addressing their unique support needs.

The 2017 Atlas of Student Homelessness in New York City builds on the 2016 Atlas of Student Homelessness, providing a more in-depth look at the educational outcomes of homeless students. Using a six-year cohort of elementary students, this publication highlights the educational risks faced by the one in seven children who will experience housing instability by the end of elementary school if current trends do not change. This publication also reveals the different educational risks faced by students living in shelters compared to those living doubled up or in other temporary situations, as well as outcomes of formerly homeless students, who experience continued instability in the classroom.

What’s New?

  • The number of homeless students in NYC public schools increased by almost 33,000 students—a 50 percent jump— in six years.
  • If current trends continue, more than one out of seven NYC public school students will experience homelessness at least once by the time they reach fifth grade.
  • Despite improvement in academic outcomes between SY 2010–11 and SY 2015–16, gaps by housing status and type of homelessness persist. Students in shelter achieve proficiency on 3rd–8th grade math State assessments at just half the rate of homeless students living doubled up.
  • Even after moving into stable housing, students with a history of homelessness experience lasting effects of instability, with 1.5 times the chronic absenteeism and mid-year transfer rates of their low-income peers who had always been housed.

Policy Considerations

  • The way that available data are used must change in order to effectively improve educational outcomes for homeless students. Schools, service providers, policymakers, and elected officials need to look at the type of homelessness students experience, since gaps between sheltered and other homeless students are persistent.
  • Additional supports in schools like IEP and ELL programs must take students’ housing status into consideration when delivering services. Students who have been homeless are more likely to need additional educational and language learning supports, but are less likely to receive those supports in a timely and effective manner. IEP and ELL programs must consider the unstable housing situations that many students are facing and the unique challenges placed on their attendance and school stability.
  • It is critical to recognize that the effects of homelessness last beyond the experience itself. Available data that show whether students have a history of homelessness should be made more accessible to teachers and administrators, and can help ensure that supports exist both for students who are currently living in unstable housing as well as those who have been homeless in the past.
  • A student’s record of homelessness is only captured roughly once per year. This fails to account for students who experienced homelessness later in the year, and also does not provide a full picture of the students’ history of homelessness to teachers and school administrators.

Key Citywide Findings

  • The number of homeless students in NYC public schools jumped by 20% in just one year, reaching close to 100,000 in SY 2015–16.
  • An average of nine percent of New York City public school students were homeless in one year (SY 2015–16).
  • In addition to the nine percent of students homeless in SY 2015–16, another four percent were currently housed but had experienced homelessness at some point since SY 2010–11 (formerly homeless).
  • The City has succeeded in increasing pre-K enrollment among homeless children, with a 17% increase from SY 2014–15 to SY 2015–16.
  • On average, 6.6% of students in New York City charter schools were homeless in SY 2015–16—three points lower than the rate of students experiencing homelessness in public schools (9.3%).
  • Students who had a history of homelessness but were housed in SY 2015–16 (formerly homeless) were still facing instability at school. Almost a third were chronically absent and 13% transferred schools mid-year compared to 19% and 7% among housed students citywide.
  • Absenteeism places students at risk of not only falling behind academically, but also having their additional support needs be identified later. Homeless students who were absent 40 or more days in Kindergarten had a 12-point higher rate of late IEP identification compared to their homeless peers with 0–4 absences.
  • One in every six English Language Learner (ELL) students was homeless in SY 2015–16. The majority (82%) of homeless students with ELL needs were living doubled up.
  • Homeless students were not only more likely to have ELL needs, but they were also more likely to be designated as ELL for longer than their housed peers who were both low income and not low income. More than 40% of homeless ELL students still had ELL needs after six years compared to one-third of low-income housed students and only 4% of non-low-income housed students.
  • Amidst citywide policy and curricula changes over time, achievement gaps by housing status persisted. Homeless students scored proficient at roughly half the rate of housed students overall on State English Language Arts (ELA) assessments (21% to 40% in SY 2015–16).
  • Middle school proficiency is a strong predictor of dropping out of high school: overall, 16.5% of those who were not proficient ended up dropping out compared to 3.6% of students who did score proficient. For homeless students, this is an even stronger predictor. One in four (24.5%) homeless students who did not score proficient in middle school dropped out of high school.


Trump Disbands Advisory Councils as C.E.O.s Resign En Masse!

Dear Commons Community,

The White House’s two advisory councils of top business executives disbanded on Wednesday in response to President Donald Trump’s comments on the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

The move came two days after executives began resigning from the dwindling American Manufacturing Council and hours after Steve Schwarzman who headed the separate Strategic and Policy Forum, hosted a call with other members of that panel. 

Trump took credit on Twitter for dissolving the advisory panels in order to alleviate pressure on the executives. 

“He took the coward’s way out and disbanded the business council before anyone else bailed out,” Jonathan Bernstein, founder of the consultancy Bernstein Crisis Management, said to HuffPost. “Rather than face more resignations, he just further proved that he was only interested in people who agreed with him.”

The tone of Trump’s announcement was a sharp departure from his previous, combative statements lashing out at those who had already resigned in protest of his refusal to quickly and pointedly condemn white supremacists. 

After Merck & Co. CEO Kenneth Frazier, the only African-American on the manufacturing council, stepped down on Monday, Trump lambasted his company’s high drug prices.   

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich dropped out later Monday evening, just hours after Trump gave a press conference in which he said that “racism is evil” and called out the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.

On Tuesday, the president disparaged the two businessmen as “

But his criticism did nothing to stem the departures. Exactly 15 minutes after Trump posted his tweet, Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, quit the manufacturing council. Paul tweeted that “It’s the right thing for me to do.” On Tuesday evening, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka announced his resignation amid mounting pressure from unions in the federation.

The retreat continued on Wednesday with Inge Thulin, chief executive of the industrial conglomerate 3M, resigning after “careful consideration.” Denise Morrison, chief executive of the Campbell Soup Company, resigned soon after.

And within minutes of Trump’s tweet announcing the end of both panels, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky sent out a press release declaring to be “unacceptable” the president’s “statements equating those who are motivated by race-based hate with those who stand up against hatred.” In an email to HuffPost, a spokeswoman said Gorsky had resolved to resign from the manufacturing council before the president posted his tweet. She did not respond when asked if the White House had alerted Johnson & Johnson of the disbanding of the councils before making it public. 

Congratulations to these CEOs for standing up to a President who has brought chaos and shame to the White House. 


President Trump’s Disastrous Press Conference in New York City!

Dear Commons Community,

As reported by CNN, President Donald Trump’s press conference at Trump Tower in New York City yesterday went “off the rails” after reporters questioned his response to the violence at the “Unite the Right” white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday. 

The New York Times editorial this morning commented that Trump simply cannot help himself — especially when cornered. Given one more chance to forcefully condemn the neo-Nazis and white supremacists whose rally in Charlottesville, Va., ended in violence and a counterprotester’s death, Mr. Trump angrily insisted, as he had suggested on Saturday, that both sides were equally to blame — a false equivalency that not just his critics but also an increasing number of his supporters have urged him to abandon.

The setting yesterday was a bizarre and contentious press conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan that was originally meant to be about infrastructure but quickly escalated into a shouting match about Charlottesville. Gone was the measured tone that the president’s aides had talked him into on Monday, when he said “racism is evil” and appeared to distance himself from his earlier claims about shared responsibility for the violence. In its place was a high-decibel defense of his original position, to which he added the claim that while there were “bad people” and “very fine people” on both sides, the “very, very violent” protesters on the “alt-left” who came “charging in without a permit” were at least as culpable as the neo-Nazi protesters.

In so doing, Mr. Trump took up many of the talking points of the white nationalists and far-right activists who have been complaining that the news media and the political establishment do not pay enough attention to leftists who call themselves anti-fascists. He also sympathized with the demonstrators’ demand — the announced reason for their rally — that Robert E. Lee’s statue in a Charlottesville park be saved. “Is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?” However deep their flaws, though, Washington and Jefferson are memorialized as heroes of American freedom, whereas Lee symbolizes violent division. It was hardly a surprise, then, that David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, tweeted to thank the president for his “honesty & courage” in denouncing “leftist terrorists.”

How much more of this president can America take?



Two More CEOs Resign From Trump’s White House Manufacturing Council!

Dear Commons Community,

While protests and marches have been organized around the country in response to President Trump’s weak comments about the events in Charlottesville over the weekend, much quieter but effective stances against the President have been going among a group hand-picked by him to represent commercial interests.  Three CEOs on the American Manufacturing Council resigned in protest over President Donald Trump’s botched response to a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.  As reported by The Huffington Post:

“Merck & Co. CEO Ken Frazier, the only African-American on the council, was first to step down “to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” he said in a statement. The move drew an immediate rebuke from Trump, who claimed on Twitter that the pharmaceuticals chief would now “have more time to lower ripoff drug prices.”

Later, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank quit the group “to focus my efforts on inspiring every person that they can do anything through the power of sport which promotes unity, diversity and inclusion,” he said in a statement.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich resigned “to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues,” he said in a statement. “I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them,” Krzanich added. “We should honor ― not attack ― those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values.”

After Trump’s initial response blaming “many sides” for the mayhem on Saturday, bipartisan criticism forced him to condemn white supremacist groups on Monday, referring to them as “criminals and thugs” and calling them “repugnant.”

Representatives for most of the CEOs on Trump’s manufacturing council did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s queries about Frazier’s resignation and whether they agreed with his statement. Some declined to comment outright. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said he was re-evaluating his participation in the council.

“We are aware of the decisions by other members of the President’s Manufacturing Council, which has yet to hold any real meeting, and are assessing our role,” Trumka said in a statement. “While the AFL-CIO will remain a powerful voice for the freedoms of working people, there are real questions into the effectiveness of this council to deliver real policy that lifts working families.”

Other CEOs on the council issued statements condemning bigotry and violence on display in Charlottesville over the weekend, while also making clear that they intended to remain on the panel.

“In Dow there is no room for hatred, racism, or bigotry,” said Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris. “Dow will continue to work to strengthen the social and economic fabric of the communities where it operates – including supporting policies that help create employment opportunities in manufacturing and rebuild the American workforce.”

Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison denounced the “racist ideology at the center of the protests” in Charlottesville and called on others to do the same, but added that she would stay on the council in order to “have a voice and provide input on matters that will affect our industry.”

A spokeswoman for General Electric said the company condemns the hatred and bigotry on display in at the rally in Charlottesville. However, that spokesperson added, CEO Jeff Immelt will also remain on the council because “it is important for GE to participate in the discussion on how to drive growth and productivity in the U.S.”

Lauren Lee, a spokeswoman for Dell, said there is “no change in Dell engaging with the Trump administration and governments around the world to share our perspective on policy issues that affect our company, our customers and our employees.”

Whirlpool Corp. said it “believes strongly in an open and inclusive culture that respects people of all races” and that it would continue on the council.

Under Armour’s Plank, who has faced criticism over his past praise of Trump and who later denounced some of Trump’s policies, initially tweeted that his company is “saddened” by the violence in Charlottesville.

“There is no place for racism or discrimination in this world. We choose love & unity,” Plank added. Monday evening, he resigned from the group.

Nucor and International Paper also denounced the violence over the weekend. They, too, said they would remain on the council.

Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, Corning CEO Wendell Weeks, and Harris Corp. CEO Bill Brown declined to comment. A representative for Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said he was traveling and unavailable to comment.

While Ford Motor Co. initially participated in the council, it is no longer a member.

“Ford does not have a representative on the manufacturing council,” Michael Levine, a Ford spokesman, told HuffPost. CEO Jim Hackett, who replaced Mark Fields in May, quickly distanced himself from the White House and did not rejoin the council.

Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of SpaceX and Tesla, also resigned from the council earlier this year due to Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Below is a list of the president’s remaining American Manufacturing Council members.”

We need to see more action such as the above from corporate America.



Members of the American Manufacturing Council!

Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical Co.

Bill Brown, Harris Corporation

Michael Dell, Dell Technologies

John Ferriola, Nucor

Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool

Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson

Greg Hayes, United Technologies Corp.

Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin Corp.

John Flannery, General Electric Co.

Jim Kamsickas, Dana Inc.

Rich Kyle, Timken Co.

Thea Lee, AFL-CIO

Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing Co.

Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar Inc.

Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing

MIchael Polk, Newell Brands

Mark Sutton, International Paper

Inge Thulin, 3M Co.

Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO

Wendell Weeks, Corning

Elon Musk Warns Again of the Perils of Unbridled Artificial Intelligence!

Dear Commons Community,

During a week in which we saw frightening news and threatening rhetoric about North Korea,  Elon Musk was tweeting warnings about artificial intelligence.  As reported by Business Insider:

“If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea,” Musk tweeted after his $1 billion startup, OpenAI, made a surprise appearance at a $24 million video game tournament Friday night, beating the world’s best players in the video game, “Dota 2.”

Musk claimed OpenAI’s bot was the first to beat the world’s best players in competitive eSports, but quickly warned that increasingly powerful artificial intelligence like OpenAI’s bot — which learned by playing a “thousand lifetimes” of matches against itself — would eventually need to be reined in for our own safety.

“Nobody likes being regulated, but everything (cars, planes, food, drugs, etc) that’s a danger to the public is regulated. AI should be too,” Musk said in another tweet on Friday night.

Musk has previously expressed a healthy mistrust of artificial intelligence. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO warned in 2016 that, if artificial intelligence is left unregulated, humans could devolve into the equivalent of “house cats” next to increasingly powerful supercomputers. He made that comparison while hypothesizing about the need for a digital layer of intelligence he called a “neural lace” for the human brain.

“I think one of the solutions that seems maybe the best is to add an AI layer,” Musk said. “A third, digital layer that could work well and symbiotically” with the rest of your body,” Musk said during Vox Media’s 2016 Code Conference in Southern California.

Nanotechnologists have already been working on this concept.

Musk said at the time: “If we can create a high-bandwidth neural interface with your digital self, then you’re no longer a house cat.”

Musk is evolving into one of our more important futurists.   He does not simply think about the future but because of his business acumen, he is shaping it.


Maureen Dowd on the Two Bullies: Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un!

Dear Commons Community,

New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd, comments today on the two bullies, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, as they rattle their sabers at each other trying to get the other to blink. We are not sure how this will play out but most of humanity is concerned because each bully has his finger on nuclear weapons.  Here is an excerpt from Dowd’s column:

“Watching Trump, 71, and Kim, 33, trade taunts is particularly disturbing because they mirror each other in so many unhinged ways. Trump is a democratically elected strongman and Kim is a fratricidal despot, but they both live in bizarro fantasy worlds where lying and cheating is the norm.

They’re both spoiled scions who surpassed less ruthless older brothers to join their authoritarian fathers in the family business. They both make strange fashion statements with their hair and enjoy bullying and hyperbole. They both love military parades, expect “Dear Leader” displays of fawning and favor McDonald’s and Madonna.

They both demand allegiance. When Trump feels he isn’t getting it or paranoia takes over, he publicly mocks his lieutenants or jettisons them. Kim simply gets out his antiaircraft machine guns and calls up his nerve-agent assassins. He had his uncle killed for, among the reasons, clapping halfheartedly, The Times reported.

Pyongyang goaded Trump on Friday with this nutty line: “We consider the U.S. no more than a lump which we can beat to a jelly any time.”

“Kim understands Trump better than Trump understands himself,” Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio told me. “He is only comfortable dominating and forcing others into submission. When that’s not happening, he experiences an almost physical discomfort because he feels unsafe. He doesn’t know any other way to achieve status.”

…Ted Sorensen wrote about how much Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August,” chronicling leaders stumbling into World War I, influenced J.F.K. during the Cuban missile crisis: In “the 1914 conversation between two German leaders on the origins and expansion of that war, a former chancellor asking ‘How did it all happen?’ and his successor saying, ‘Ah, if only one knew.’ ‘If this planet,’ said President Kennedy, ‘is ever ravaged by nuclear war — if the survivors of that devastation can then endure the fire, poison, chaos and catastrophe — I do not want one of these survivors to ask another, ‘How did it all happen?’ and to receive the incredible reply: ‘Ah, if only one knew.’”

This time around we will know how it happened.  The United States elected a person with serious flaws to be its president.



Violence Erupts in Charlottesville – President Trump and David Duke Respond!

Dear Commons Community,

Following a night of protest at the University of Virginia, white supremacists staged a violent series of demonstrations in Charlottesville today and clashed with police and counter demonstrators.  The video above demonstrates the extent of the violence.  

Today’s protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, called “Unite the Right,” was nominally billed as a protest against the removal of a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The protest drew out hundreds of demonstrators bearing Nazi symbols and Confederate flags and chanting racist slogans. Violence erupted between the far-right rally attendees and counter-protestors, leading Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) to declare a state of emergency.”

In a tweet, President Donald Trump commented:

“We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”

Trump was criticized for not calling out the white supremacists in particular.

As the official start of the “Unite the Right” rally kicked off in Charlottesville, Virginia, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke said the gathering of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and far-right individuals pointed to a future fulfillment of President Donald Trump’s “promises.” 

“This represents a turning point for the people of this country,” said Duke in video uploaded to Twitter by Indianapolis Star photojournalist Mykal McEldowney. “We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.”

Duke responded to Trump’s tweet by stating that Trump should “remember” that “White Americans’ were the ones to put him in office.

Duke, a former KKK Grand Wizard, has long connected his message of white supremacy to ideas espoused by the president.

During the presidential campaign, Duke stated that he and Trump had similar messages, pointing to Trump proposing policies like a border wall or Muslim ban.

“Donald Trump is talking implicitly. I’m talking explicitly,” Duke said last year, according to Time.

Our prayers are with the decent people of Charlottesville and hope they can overcome the hate exemplified by “Unite the Right” thugs.


White Nationalists Descend on the U. of Virginia!

Dear Commons Community,

Various media are reporting that a group of white nationalists sparked outrage at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville last night after they marched with torches across campus while chanting Nazi expressions.  The demonstrators marched as a precursor to a Saturday protest planned to oppose the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Marchers could be heard chanting slogans including “white lives matter” and “you will not replace us.” Others could be heard chanting “blood and soil,” a well-known Nazi rallying cry. Police eventually declared the protest an unlawful assembly and both protesters and counter protesters reported being pepper sprayed. Videos captured at the scene appeared to show counter protesters clashing with the white nationalists.

University of Virginia president Teresa A. Sullivan condemned the protesters in a statement issued late Friday night.

“As President of the University of Virginia, I am deeply saddened and disturbed by the hateful behavior displayed by torch-bearing protestors that marched on our Grounds this evening. I strongly condemn the unprovoked assault on members of our community, including University personnel who were attempting to maintain order.

Law enforcement continues to investigate the incident, and it is my hope that any individuals responsible for criminal acts are held accountable. The violence displayed on Grounds is intolerable and is entirely inconsistent with the University’s values.​​​​​​”

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer condemned the protest, which he called as a “cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance marching down the lawns of the architect of our Bill of Rights, Thomas Jefferson”

“Everyone has a right under the First Amendment to express their opinion peaceably, so here’s mine: not only as the Mayor of Charlottesville, but as a UVA faculty member and alumnus, I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus,” Signer said.

University Professor Larry Sabato described the events as “nauseating.”

“We need an exorcism on the Lawn,” he added — referencing the area of campus where the protesters gathered.

Police have estimated that between 2,000 and 6,000 protesters and counter-protesters may descend on Charlottesville for Saturday’s rally, and an earlier protest held in July saw clashes between protest and counter protest groups.



Gene-Editing Breakthrough Spurs Hope for Transplanting Pig Organs to Humans!

Dear Commons Community,

In November 2012, I posted on this blog about scientists manipulating genes in animals to make improvements in neural performance, strength and agility, among other augmentations.

Earlier this week, a major advance was reported that helps open the door to organ transplants from animals as researchers have created gene-edited piglets cleansed of viruses that might cause disease in humans.  The experiments, reported on Thursday in the journal Science, may make it possible one day to transplant livers, hearts and other organs from pigs into humans, a hope that experts had all but given up. As reported:

“If pig organs were shown to be safe and effective, “they could be a real game changer,” said Dr. David Klassen, chief medical officer at the United Network for Organ Sharing, a private, nonprofit organization that manages the nation’s transplant system.

There were 33,600 organ transplants last year, and 116,800 patients on waiting lists, according to Dr. Klassen, who was not involved in the new study. “There’s a big gap between organ supply and organ demand,” he said.

Dr. George Church, a geneticist at Harvard who led the experiments, said the first pig-to-human transplants could occur within two years.

The new research combines two great achievements in recent years — gene editing and cloning — and is unfolding quickly. But the work is novel and its course unpredictable, Dr. Klassen noted.

The idea of using pigs as organ factories has tantalized investigators for decades. Porcine organs can be the right size for human transplantation, and in theory, similar enough to function in patients.”

While fraught with ethical challenges, this type of research will become common in the years to come and offer new options in how we treat disease.