While Mr. Obama was swept in with a clear majority of the popular vote, Mr. Biden, who served two terms as his vice president, is on track for a narrower margin in the nationwide results, reflecting a more divided electorate, said Rogers Smith, a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania“This was an extraordinary election that appears to have spurred one of the highest turnouts in a century,” he said. “That means that both candidates are going to receive larger vote totals than they would have in the past.” – Advertisement – While the outcome of the presidential race remains undecided, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has notched one clear milestone: He has collected more votes than his old boss Barack Obama did in 2008, to set a new record for the popular vote.Powered by the enormous turnout, Mr. Biden has received more than 71 million votes, and still counting, nationwide, exceeding the 69,498,516 collected by Mr. Obama in another year with enormous voter enthusiasm that held the record until this year.- Advertisement – This means that Mr. Obama received the votes of a greater percentage of Americans — about 23 percent, to Mr. Biden’s 22 percent. Mr. Obama also drew a higher percentage of the country’s registered voters, 48 percent to Mr. Biden’s 45 percent.- Advertisement – Democrats are likely to point to the vote total as evidence that they continue to represent the majority of the country in presidential elections. They have won the popular vote in every presidential election since 2000 with the exception of 2004.But there are some caveats: The population of the country has grown since 2008 from 304 million to more than 330 million people in 2020.
It would be sweet justice if Trump and right-wing talkers so thoroughly trash the electoral process that it depresses Republican base turnout in Georgia in January. And that just might happen. And then there’s reporting from CNN that key Republicans are tip-toeing around Trump and his aides, hoping the courts will solve their problem for them so they don’t have to have any icky conversations. GOP leaders are nervously watching President Donald Trump’s erratic handling of an election that’s slipping away from him, delicately urging him and his team to clearly make a specific case about voting impropriety or accept the will of the American public. […]But top Republicans are also treading cautiously around a mercurial president who holds enormous sway with their party’s base, with many unwilling to directly challenge his dubious claims and instead urging him to make his case in greater detail.GOP sources said Friday that the idea is to give Trump and his team a chance to make their case and allow the disputes to work themselves out in the courts, arguing that if the lawsuits fall flat, then Trump will have little choice but to concede the election without their having to confront him.What a bunch of self-serving snowflakes. It’s always self over party and party over country when it comes to Republican lawmakers. Once again, Senate Republicans are gladly watching Trump burn down our democracy in order to keep their stranglehold on power. – Advertisement – – Advertisement –
A similar case in Michigan was thrown out.In Nevada, the Trump campaign has sued to stop the processing of mail ballots, claiming that its monitors had inadequate access. A judge denied the request, citing a lack of evidence. Another Republican suit claimed lax authentication of ballots; a judge dismissed it.An Arizona lawsuit claims that ballots filled out with felt-tipped pens were being discarded; state and federal officials say that is false. A case in Georgia claims that a few dozen late-arriving ballots — which the state does not allow, even if they are postmarked by Election Day — were not properly set apart, raising the possibility that they would be counted. A judge threw out the complaint, saying there was no evidence that the ballots in question had arrived late. Nearly a dozen lawsuits filed by President Trump and his allies are working their way through the courts in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, trying — so far unsuccessfully — to stop ballot counting and invalidate enough votes to erase Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s leads there. Here is a look at those cases.In Pennsylvania, the biggest fight has been over ballots that were postmarked by Election Day but arrive later. In September, the state Supreme Court ruled, over Republican objections, that election officials could accept ballots arriving up to three days later. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to intercede, but left open the possibility that it could revisit the question. – Advertisement – One of several other Pennsylvania disputes involves people from both parties who observe the tabulation in Philadelphia, where they were told to stay 10 feet away from the vote counters. Some Trump allies have claimed, falsely, that no observers were allowed. In response to a Republican complaint, a judge ruled on Thursday that they could stand within six feet, but refused to stop the counting.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – Separately, the Supreme Court did grant the Trump camp a minor victory in Pennsylvania on Friday evening, when Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. ordered election officials there to keep the late-arriving ballots separate from other ballots, and not to include them, for now, in announced vote totals. But the victory was essentially in name only: Pennsylvania’s secretary of state had already given that instruction.The entire dispute over the late-arriving ballots could be moot, because Mr. Biden has taken the lead in Pennsylvania even without them. – Advertisement –
That includes Medicaid work requirements in a number of states, which are still in the courts in the few states that took them up. The administration can immediately say: no more waivers to states to implement work requirements going forward. But it’ll take some time to kill them entirely and the administration can crack down on states that do have them to make them really adhere to the requirements for coverage under the law. It can also expand what states can do with their Medicaid programs—particularly under COVID-19, like expanding telehealth to make accessing care safer.Expect Planned Parenthood to come back to the Title X family planning program, getting federal dollars to provide important reproductive health care to millions of people. The organization left when the Trump administration finalized rules to ban grantees under Title X from referring women for abortion and also requiring them to financially separate facilities that provide abortion services from other services.Expanding the ACA as Biden has promised (if the Supreme Court doesn’t scrap it) is going to depend an awful lot on what finally happens with the Senate and the two pending runoff races in Georgia. But right now, the healthcare industry is just relieved that there’s not going to be more Trump chaos. It means “we get preservation and enhancement of ACA to ensure that the newly unemployed and anybody else who lacks insurance has access,” said Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals. They’re not alone in their relief.- Advertisement – Also expect a new special enrollment period on Healthcare.gov to open right away—it opened on Nov. 1 this year, and will close on Dec. 15 for plans beginning Jan. 1, 2021. Biden will open it back up, and will restore funding to the enrollment campaigns for advertising and outreach. Even with the Obamacare law in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and a decision expected next spring, the new administration is expected to go all out in getting people enrolled, particularly those who’ve lost their coverage because of the epidemic. In fact, a massive enrollment could help save the law from SCOTUS.The new administration is also likely roll back Trump’s expansion of junk health plans, the “short-term” plans that were allowed under Obamacare to help people bridge gaps between coverage. They were intended to be used for no more than a few months, and didn’t have to comply with the full coverage requirements of long-term health insurance plans, like the requirement to provide comprehensive coverage regardless of someone’s medical history. Trump expanded them to last for months, effectively undermining protections for people with pre-existing conditions. They are low-cost and many consumers have been fooled, enrolling in them without the understanding that they don’t provide actual coverage. Rolling these plans back is a relatively simple, day one-kind of action. Others are going to take some time to unwind.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –
Pearce noted that she hoped “people respect us to understand that we are humans and I certainly didn’t get married to get divorced,” adding that “things happen.”Listen to Watch With Us to hear more about your favorite shows and for the latest TV news! Us Weekly confirmed that Pearce filed for divorce from Ray in June after eight months of marriage. She made their relationship Instagram official in July 2018, and they tied the knot in October 2019.The “Hide the Wine” singer spoke out about the split in October, telling ET Canada that the biggest lesson she learned was that she is “way stronger than I thought.”- Advertisement – The “Next Girl” songstress teased the performance via Instagram on Thursday, November 5, prior to Brice’s diagnosis. “I truly have no words for this one,” she wrote. “I have dreamt of singing one of my songs on the @cma awards since I was a little girl, and it’s finally happening. Watch Country Music’s Biggest Night LIVE next Wednesday on ABC as I perform ‘I Hope You’re Happy Now’ with @leebrice! (And probably low key cry into my microphone) #cmaawards.”Although the track focuses on a couple moving on after a breakup, Pearce had someone other than Ray, 32, in mind when she penned the song. She revealed in December 2019 that she actually called it quits with her ex, whom the tune is based on, because of her feelings for the fellow country star.AFF-USA/Shutterstock“I’m married, and I don’t want anyone to think that I have this person still lingering in my past or looming because this is my story,” she explained in a YouTube video. “But I also feel like this person is in a good place too, and I wanted people to kind of, the payoff of that to be he’s finally seeing his ex-girlfriend for the first time and is able to kind of look her in the face and say, ‘It’s OK.’”- Advertisement – Singing away the pain? Carly Pearce performed a duet with Charles Kelley at the 2020 Country Music Association Awards amid her divorce from estranged husband Michael Ray.Pearce, 30, and Kelley, 39, sang her hit “I Hope You’re Happy Now” at the Wednesday, November 11, awards ceremony, which took place in Nashville. The Lady A member replaced her original duet partner, Lee Brice, after the 41-year-old crooner tested positive for coronavirus.Carly Pearce and Charles Kelley perform “I Hope You’re Happy Now” at the 2020 CMAs. John Russell/Country Music Association Inc./Shutterstock- Advertisement – – Advertisement –
Google’s Device Lock Controller app has silently been developed by the search giant. It allows banks and credit providers to remotely lock your device if you don’t make payments. The Device Lock Controller app uses the DeviceAdminService API of Android to remotely restrict access to the device in case of a payment default. It is already listed on Google Play, though users cannot download it on their own. The app also retains access to basic functionality including emergency calling and access to settings even when the device is restricted.“Device Lock Controller enables device management for credit providers. Your provider can remotely restrict access to your device if you don’t make payments,” reads the description of the app.- Advertisement – A Google spokesperson confirmed to XDA Developers that the new app had been launched in partnership with a Kenyan network operator Safaricom. In late July, the operator launched a financial plan called “Lipa Mdogo Mdogo” (Pay Bit by Bit) to offer Android (Go edition) smartphones in instalments. That plan included a clause under which the operator will “lock the device” following non-payment for four days.Google seems to have enabled Safaricom to lock payment defaulters’ phones using the Device Lock Controller app. However, it is unclear whether the app could be expanded to other credit providers and in other markets in the future.Google clarified to XDA Developers that the Device Lock Controller app should not be listed on Google Play for general users. The Google Play listing of the app was, however, still accessible at the time of filing this story. But nonetheless, you can’t find it on the Play Store available on your smartphone or tablet.- Advertisement – Is Android One holding back Nokia smartphones in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel. Jagmeet Singh Jagmeet Singh writes about consumer technology for Gadgets 360, out of New Delhi. Jagmeet is a senior reporter for Gadgets 360, and has frequently written about apps, computer security, Internet services, and telecom developments. Jagmeet is available on Twitter at @JagmeetS13 or Email at email@example.com. Please send in your leads and tips.More
There’s nothing “shy” about these people or their support for Trump, yet pollsters aren’t catching them. They turn out for Trump, but they didn’t turn out for Republicans in 2017, 2018, or 2019. Remember, last year Democrats picked up governorships in the blood-red states of Louisiana and Kentucky. xTrump on Nov. 4 in KY, regarding the election of a Dem Gov. “[Y]ou can’t let that happen to me!” per @voxdotcom Result: Dem electedTrump Thursday in Louisiana: “You got to give me a big win, please, O.K.” per @nytimesResult: Dem re-elected#SundayThoughts #VoteBlue— Stay Home or Mask Up (@MnMarches) November 17, 2019No amount of personal begging and pleading from Trump could get Republicans to the polls in those red states, nor did his extensive campaigning help his party during the 2018 Democratic wave year.- Advertisement – From the start, let’s dispense with the notion of a “shy Trump voter.” These people aren’t shy, yet they certainly exist. They’re the assholes trying to run the Biden campaign bus off the road in Texas. They’re the anti-government militias in Michigan. They’re these people: xA Fox News anchor briefly paused mid-segment on Saturday after a sign carried by a demonstrator at the so-called “Million MAGA March” in Washington, D.C. appeared on the screen bearing a racist threat. “Shows their a Bunch of Racists!”#DemVoice1https://t.co/NhGwL0nSmc— Mexi-‘Can’ Marine💪🇺🇸🇲🇽(F🖕U TRUMP!) (@Jay_USMC2) November 15, 2020- Advertisement – The hidden deplorables aren’t Republican. They aren’t even conservative. They’re apolitical, otherwise ignoring politics, because their lives legitimately suck. They live in meth country, with dim job prospects (in fact, those two factors are highly correlated). Institutions have failed them—corporations abandoned them for cheaper labor overseas, government seems and feels distant, and it’s certainly not improving their lives. Cities feel like walled gardens—unattainable, unaffordable, yet that’s where all the jobs are, the culture, the action. These deplorables have been left behind. So their attitude? “Fuck them all.” Trump shows up in 2016 and gives them hope for change, saying the quiet part out loud—that their lives suck not because of their own choices and that of those decamped corporations, but because all that sweet, sweet government money is going to “illegals” and “thugs” in those cities. He puts uppity Black and brown people and women in their place. He offers them hope that, if he can’t improve their lives, that at least he’ll hurt all those others. “I voted for him, and he’s the one who’s doing this,” she said of Mr. Trump. “I thought he was going to do good things. He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.”Their lives suck, but Trump was supposed to be bringing everyone else down to their level. That’s why all that nonsense about “economic uncertainty” was such bullshit. None of these people ever thought Trump would bring back the factories, paying good middle-class wages. They can do the same math that the corporations have. But it would all be worth it if Trump would just hurt the people he needed to be hurt.And then he did. He put brown kids in cages. He sent federal troops against the Black Lives Matter “mobs.” He nominated judges hostile to a woman’s right to have agency over her body.And above else? He destroyed. He tore shit down. Norms, traditions, entire agencies. So 2020 rolled around, and Trump no longer offered hope of economic revival in these economically devastated meth counties. Instead, he was the personification of their rage made real, in the Oval Office itself. We saw this in Georgia, where Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rep. Doug Collins were locked in a battle to make it to the January runoff in the state’s special election. Loeffler was originally chosen to try and appeal to the very white moderate college-educated suburban women that were abandoning the GOP and endangering the party’s electoral chances. Collins is a right-wing ideologue, a staunch Trump ally, and the clear favorite of the Freedom Caucus wing of the GOP. So how did Loeffler fend him off? By moving to Collins’ right, like this ad that claimed she was “More conservative than Attila the Hun” and had a ”100 per cent Trump voting record.” Loeffler literally said she was worse than a king best known for raping, pillaging, plundering, and extorting the Roman Empire into near insolvency. There are no Hun ruins you can visit today because they built no civilization, created no lasting art or culture. So truly, Loeffler couldn’t have picked a better representative of the modern Trumpian Republican Party—destructive, barbaric, and corrupt. Now given their hatred for institutions like government and the media, is it any wonder that these hidden deplorables wouldn’t answer pollsters’ questions? Any attempt to survey them would likely be met with a middle finger and a “fuck you.” So the last four years have shown us that they only turn out when Donald Trump is in the battle. We’ll have an early test of my Hidden Deplorables theory in January, when the two Senate seats in Georgia are decided. Given the essentially tied result in the presidential race (we won by a sliver), that special election will come down to the party that suffers the last amount of drop-off from their November turnout. Trump got a remarkable 369,000 more votes in the Peach State this year compared to 2016, when he won the state by 5%. That should’ve been enough to seal the deal again. Yet Stacey Abrams, her volunteers, and an army of allied organizations did the near-impossible: Biden got 594,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. That is beyond mind-blowing!If I’m right, Republican turnout among those new Trump voters could very well be catastrophic for the GOP. Now to be clear, no one should expect this. We assume they get every single one of their voters out. We need to out-hustle them, and they’ll be working their assess off to turn those people out. So to be 100% clear, this isn’t a prediction, nor is it even a hope. If Republicans can get these hidden deplorables out, then the political picture the next few cycles will be rough—more closely fought elections, control of Congress and the White House balancing on a razor’s edge. Making progress will be a tough slog. On the other hand, if the hidden deplorables only come out when Trump is on the ballot, then that gives us some breathing room in the next few cycles ahead. That is, until a Trump ends up back on the presidential ballot in 2024. Now this is an evolving theory, and it may be bolstered or undermined as additional data and information emerges (not to mention the Georgia runoff results will reveal a great deal). But regardless, Trump is likely the single greatest campaigner in modern presidential history. Hillary Clinton didn’t lose because she was a terrible candidate, she lost because she faced a political prodigy, someone whose ability to tickle the darkest recesses of the white American’s lizard brain is unparalleled, in a country that doesn’t elect its presidents by popular vote, but by a system that overrepresents white rural states. Joe Biden cobbled together enough of a coalition to defeat Trump, but the damage was deep down-ballot precisely because so many of the House, Senate, and state legislative battles were fought in disproportionately white and rural states and districts—the places most excited by Trump’s candidacy. So take a man who has criminally mismanaged the country, enriching himself at the expense of its people and his donors, killed a quarter million Americans due to negligence, leading to the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, and didn’t even bother to have a campaign platform because neither he nor his party cares about issues anymore … and he gets 10 million more votes than the last time? That number is a testament to his power as a vote-getter. Let’s hope no other Republicans reverse engineers that formula anytime soon. And let’s pray that these hidden deplorables, seeing their vote cast for a loser (and a loser who claims the vote was stolen!) decide to return to whatever dark crevices they emerged from. Yet with the national environment only worsened from the COVID-19 pandemic and other Trump self-inflicted wounds (like his failed trade war against China), Republicans stormed back this year, dealing Democrats painful down-ballot losses in the House, Senate, and state legislatures. Not only will those loses hamstring a Biden administration, even if we win both Senate runoffs in Georgia in January, but Republicans will have a free hand to redraw U.S. House and state legislative maps to their enduring, decades-long advantage. All because Trump was at the top of the ballot. So again, who are these people who only vote for Trump, otherwise ignore the Republican Party (despite Trump’s pleading), and don’t talk to pollsters? – Advertisement – – Advertisement –
Dec 16, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – Federal health officials painted a rosy picture of the influenza vaccine supply today, saying most states have enough vaccine and the nation as a whole seems to have enough to meet the demand from groups who need the shots the most.Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said a recent survey showed that 82% of the 49 responding states had enough flu vaccine to meet their demand this year. The survey was conducted by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, she said.In addition, a CDC report published today says, “Adequate doses of vaccine appear to remain to meet the anticipated demand among priority groups for influenza vaccination, based on 2003-04 coverage estimates” from a CDC survey.Speaking at a teleconference, Gerberding said 21 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed since the current shortage began in early October, and about 3.5 million doses of licensed vaccine are still to come. Another 1.2 million doses of non-US-licensed vaccine made in Germany by GlaxoSmithKline are not yet being used, she said.The loss of an expected 48 million doses of vaccine because of contamination at a Chiron Corp. plant in England prompted the CDC to recommend in early October that the available doses be reserved for people at risk for serious flu complications. Those groups include the elderly, the chronically ill, pregnant women, children 6 to 23 months old, older children who take daily aspirin, and healthcare workers who care for patients.The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet tomorrow to discuss whether to broaden the guidelines, Gerberding said. “I’m not going to second-guess them,” she said. But last week the CDC suggested that state health departments could expand eligibility for the shots if they had already met the demand from high-risk groups.”We know that some states have a surplus of vaccine in the hands of private providers,” Gerberding said today. “We’re asking providers who have large numbers of doses to make it available to state health officials so they can redistribute it.”This year’s flu season continues to be relatively quiet, Gerberding said. New York is the only state reporting widespread flu activity; most states have only sporadic cases. “But the peak time is February, so we’re not assuming that we’re out of the woods yet,” she said.The CDC published a flurry of survey results on flu vaccination and related topics in today’s issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Overall, the reports suggest that most of the doses this season have gone to people in high-priority groups, but many in those groups have not yet been vaccinated.In one survey, part of the monthly Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System series, the CDC interviewed more than 16,700 people this month. The survey showed that 34.8% of adults in high-risk groups had received a shot between September and November of this year, compared with 4.4% of other adults. Coverage was about 51% for people age 65 and older and about 34% for healthcare workers with patient contact. For children aged 6 to 23 months, the vaccination rate was 36.6%.Among high-risk adults who had not been vaccinated, about 23% said they had tried unsuccessfully to get a shot. About 32% of unvaccinated elderly people had tried and failed to get a shot.On the basis of the survey, the CDC estimates that about 45 million noninstitutionalized people had received flu shots as of Nov 30 and that about 73% of them were in the high-risk groups.Because an estimated 58 million doses of licensed injectable flu vaccine and 3 million doses of intranasal vaccine are expected to be available in the nation this season, the CDC expects that enough doses will be available to meet the remaining demand from high-priority groups, the report says.The survey did not cover nursing home residents, but the findings suggest that enough vaccine will be available to meet the needs of the 1.5 million people in nursing homes, the CDC says.Gerberding said that many people eligible for a shot believe vaccine is not available or think they are not eligible. To those in the high-risk groups, she said, “Keep trying, be persistent, and we’ll do everything we can to get vaccine to you.”See also:CDC. Estimated influenza vaccination coverage among adults and children—United States, September 1–November 30, 2004. MMWR 2004 Dec 17;53(49):1147-53 [Full text]
In cooperation with the Nigerian agriculture ministry, the FAO will study the incidence, spread, and impact of H5N1 avian flu in the hope of eradicating it in Nigeria, according to the report. Low-pathogenic flu viruses are common in wild birds and typically cause only minor illness or none. Federal officials reported finding the mild “North American strain” of H5N1 in some Maryland ducks and Michigan swans in August. Montana wildlife officials said the samples were collected Sep 15 at Benton Lake, near Great Falls, during routine research on the movements of migratory birds, according to an Associated Press report. In other avian flu news, the World Bank today announced a $13 million grant to minimize the threat to humans from avian flu in the West Bank and Gaza strip. The disease struck poultry at eight sites in Gaza last April. “These grants will assist the PA [Palestinian Authority] to improve their readiness and protect their citizens from a potentially devastating outbreak as the [bird] migration season is around the corner,” Arif Zulfiqar of the World Bank said in a news release. Confirmatory testing in Ames will identify the virus subtypes and their level of pathogenicity, the agencies said. The testing should be completed in 2 to 3 weeks. He said the United States also is training first responders in how to use protective equipment, collect and ship samples, detect disease, and provide emergency response. The money includes $3 million from the World Bank’s Avian and Human Influenza Facility, a multidonor financing mechanism, and $10 million from the bank’s own resources, officials said. Viruses containing H5 and N1 surface proteins (hemagglutinin and neuraminidase) were found in samples from healthy northern pintail ducks in west-central Montana’s Cascade County, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Interior said in a news release. Sep 22, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Wild ducks in Montana were found to be carrying what may be an H5N1 avian influenza virus, but not the lethal Asian strain of H5N1, US officials announced yesterday. USAID has sent 93,000 personal protective equipment kits to 66 countries this year and is building a stockpile of 1.5 million protective kits, 100 lab kits, and $15,000 decontamination kits for use by surveillance and outbreak-response workers, Tobias said. “Initial tests confirm that these samples do not contain the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain that has spread through birds in Asia, Europe and Africa,” the statement said. A Colorado State University laboratory tested 66 samples taken from the ducks and sent 16 samples on to the USDA’s national laboratory in Ames, Iowa, for further testing. One of 16 samples tested positive for both H5 and N1, but that doesn’t necessarily mean an H5N1 virus is present, officials said. It could point to two different viruses, one containing H5 and another containing N1. Sep 22 World Bank announcement USDA-DOI news release on avian flu in Montana ducks Avian flu first cropped up in Nigeria last February and has since been found in about 13 states and the capital city, the story said. The FAO study will cost $667,000 and will be funded by the EU. In other developments, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have launched a study of avian flu in Nigeria, according to an Agence France-Presse report yesterday. See also: Also yesterday, Randall L. Tobias, head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said the US has provided a total of $191 million in foreign aid to combat avian flu. Northern pintail ducks are among hunted species, but there is no known health risk to hunters or hunting dogs from contact with low-pathogenic avian flu viruses, federal officials said.
Sep 25, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said last week it would, under certain conditions, reimburse commercial poultry farms for the cost of stopping low-pathogenic H5 and H7 avian influenza outbreaks.Under a new rule, the USDA promised to provide “100 percent indemnity for specified costs” involved in eradicating H5 and H7 viruses at commercial poultry operations that participate in the National Poultry Improvement Program (NPIP), a voluntary federal, state, and industry program to prevent the spread of poultry diseases.Until now, the states usually handled reimbursement for the costs of fighting avian flu, and the provisions varied, the USDA said.”This program expansion strengthens U.S. protections against poultry diseases such as avian influenza,” said Dr. Ron DeHaven, head of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). He said the change also helps ensure US compliance with international animal health guidelines that require countries to report all H5 and H7 virus detections.The program expansion will encourage testing and provide incentives to report outbreaks. It also demonstrates the USDA’s commitment to openness about H5 and H7 viruses in the country’s bird populations, officials said.Low-pathogenic avian flu poses no risk to human health, but the USDA’s policy is to eradicate H5 and H7 viruses because they can mutate into highly pathogenic forms, the agency said.The NPIP, dating back to the 1930s, is a coordinated effort to certify poultry flocks as free of diseases. Until now, only breeder flocks could be included in NPIP avian flu programs. The new rule expands the program to include commercial production flocks, including “table-egg layers, meat-type chickens, and meat-type turkeys.”To be eligible for full indemnification, commercial poultry facilities and states must meet certain requirements. The main requirements are that:States must have a surveillance program for all poultry.States must have APHIS-approved plans spelling out response and containment efforts in case of an H5 or H7 outbreak.Industry must maintain active surveillance that includes testing of birds and eggs.The new rule takes effect Sep 26, when it will be published in the Federal Register, the USDA said.In other developments, the USDA confirmed Sep 23 that the avian flu virus found in mallard ducks in Pennsylvania last month was the low-pathogenic North American strain of H5N1.Screening results announced Sep 2 pointed to a mild form of H5N1 virus in samples from mallards in Crawford County, Pa., but further testing was necessary, the agency said. Genetic testing excluded the possibility of the lethal Asian strain of H5N1 in the ducks.Mild forms of H5N1 have also been found recently in mallard ducks in Maryland and in two swans in Michigan.See also:Sep 23 USDA news release on the NPIP changesSep 23 USDA news release on mild H5N1 in Pennsylvania ducks