Atom-Thin Patch Could Help Control Diabetes–without Needles

A wearable, graphene-based patch could one day maintain healthy blood glucose levels in people by measuring the sugar in sweat and then delivering the necessary dose of a diabetes drug through the skin (Nat. Nanotech. 2016, DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2016.38).

The device takes scientists a step closer to the “coveted prize” in diabetes care: a noninvasive method to monitor and control blood glucose levels, writes Richard Guy of the University of Bath in a commentary about the new work.

Currently, most diabetic patients keep track of their blood glucose levels by pricking their fingers and testing a resulting droplet of blood. For people who must monitor their levels regularly, this can be a literal pain. “There are a lot of people who don’t like sticking things in their skin,” Guy says.

About 15 years ago, the Food Drug Administration approved a noninvasive glucose-monitoring device called the GlucoWatch Biographer. Patients wore it on their wrists, and it extracted glucose from interstitial fluid in the skin using a small current. It didn’t catch on, in part because it wasn’t user friendly, Guy tells CEN.

For the new patch, the researchers, led by Dae-Hyeong Kim of Seoul National University, decided to detect glucose in sweat because previous studies had shown that levels of the sugar in perspiration match those in blood. Other groups have also developed devices that can analyze biomolecules in sweat (CEN, Feb. 1, 2016, page 11).

The new device uses layers of the fluoropolymer Nafion to absorb sweat and carry it toward the device’s sensors, which are built on modified graphene. The team doped the graphene with gold atoms and functionalized it with electrochemically active materials to enable reactions needed to detect glucose.

In the patch’s glucose sensors, the enzyme glucose oxidase reacts with the sugar and produces hydrogen peroxide, which, through an electrochemical reaction, extracts current from the doped graphene. This produces an electrical signal proportional to the amount of glucose present. The patch also contains pH and temperature sensors that help ensure that the glucose sensor’s signals accurately reflect the sugar’s concentration in sweat.

When two healthy volunteers wore the patch, the measured glucose levels—including spikes after meals—matched those from a commercial glucose meter. To monitor the levels, the patch sent its sensor signals to a device that analyzed them and then wirelessly relayed the data to a smartphone.

The drug delivery half of the patch consists of an array of 1-mm-tall polymer microneedles that pierce the skin. Each needle is made from a mixture of the diabetes drug metformin and a dissolvable polymer, polyvinyl pyrrolidone. And the needles are coated with a layer of tridecanoic acid. A gold and graphene mesh sits on top of the needle array and serves as a heater that can melt the coatings. Once the tridecanoic acid melts, the needle dissolves in the skin and releases its drug payload.

When researchers applied just the drug-delivery component to the stomachs of diabetic mice, they could deliver enough metformin to lower the animal’s elevated blood glucose levels by more than 50% in 6 hours.

Guy thinks the sensor portion of the patch is closer to real-world use than the drug-delivery component. To make the drug-delivery system practical, he says, the researchers must make the microneedle array as small as possible. That means they must find a drug that’s effective at low doses.

As for the glucose-detection half of the device, Guy wonders how often a user would have to calibrate the sensors to ensure accurate readings.

Still, he calls the patch an impressive proof of concept.

This article is reproduced with permission from Chemical Engineering News (© American Chemical Society). The article was first published on March 24, 2016.

San Francisco mayor bars city workers’ travel to North Carolina over transgender bathroom law

People protest outside the North Carolina Executive Mansion in Raleigh, N.C., on Thursday. (Emery P. Dalesio/AP)San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee on Friday said he is banning city employees from traveling to North Carolina on public business after the state passed a law limiting transgender rights.

“We are standing united as San Franciscans to condemn North Carolina’s new discriminatory law that turns back the clock on protecting the rights of all Americans including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals,” Lee said in a statement. “Effective immediately, I am directing City Departments under my authority to bar any publicly-funded City employee travel to the State of North Carolina that is not absolutely essential to public health and safety.”

The law, passed this week, bars local governments from extending civil rights protections to gay and transgender people and bans transgender people from using public bathrooms according to their gender identity.

Passage of the law elicited protests from individuals, newspapers and several corporations, including American Airlines, Apple, Duke University, IBM, Facebook, Google, Lowe’s, Microsoft, the National Basketball Association and Wells Fargo.

“The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events,” it said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.”

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) used the law as an opportunity to promote his own state.

Lee suggested that he would issue a similar travel ban to Georgia if it passes a religious liberty bill similar to an Indiana bill last year that elicited a similar travel ban: “With other states like Georgia on the verge of passing more discriminatory laws, let me be clear that San Francisco taxpayers will not subsidize legally-sanctioned discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in any City or State.”

North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature passed the law in response to a Charlotte ordinance, which would have expanded civil rights protections to individuals on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. That ordinance also would have allowed transgender people to use bathrooms aligned with their gender identity.

“The basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings, a restroom or locker room, for each gender was violated by government overreach and intrusion by the mayor and city council of Charlotte,” Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said in a statement. “… As a result, I have signed legislation passed by a bipartisan majority to stop this breach of basic privacy and etiquette which was to go into effect April 1.”

The Georgia legislature elicited a similarly strong response after it passed a religious liberty bill earlier this month. Proponents say the bill, which allows religious organizations to deny the use of facilities for “objectionable” purposes, merely protects religious rights. Opponents say it enshrines anti-gay discrimination.

Hundreds of corporations, including Disney, Marvel, Time Warner, the National Football League, Delta, Coca-Cola, Google and others have voiced varying degrees of opposition to that measure, some going as far as promising to move business out of state if the governor signs the bill into law.

Read more:

Disney and Marvel fire warning shot as Georgia’s culture war spreads to Hollywood

NFL warns that ‘religious liberty’ bill could cost Atlanta a Super Bowl

CEOs oppose Ga. push to let faith-based groups refuse certain services

Presidential primary lifts Republican voter registration as Democrats sag

The Donald Trump–Marco Rubio–Ted Cruz–John Kasich show that came to Florida this winter provided a boost of more than 100,000 registered voters for the Republican Party of Florida while the Hillary Clinton–Bernie Sanders affair gave no such bounce for the Florida Democratic Party.

Florida’s final voter registration counts going into the state’s March 15 presidential primary showed  an increase of 103,872 registered Republicans since the 2014 general election. At the same time, the number of Democrats register to vote in Florida declined by 58,390.

Along the way, the GOP flipped four counties from having more Democrats to having more Republicans: Bradford, Columbia, Baker and Washington. Since then, monitoring daily voter registration counts, Republican officials say they have taken two more counties, including one of the state’s most populated, Pinellas.

Democrats still hold significant voter registration advantages statewide and in all other urban counties though. And presidential general elections such as the one this November have historically led to robust summer voter registration efforts for Democrats.

A analysis of voter registration figures from the book closing for Florida’s presidential primary found that 37.8 percent of the state’s voters were registered as Democrats, and 35.5 percent as Republicans. The remaining 26.7 percent were registered either as independents or with minor political parties.

But for now, Democrats are losing ground. Democrats held a 3.8 percent advantage over Republicans in 2014, and that slipped to just under 2.4 percent last week.

Statewide, 4,569,788 Democrats were registered to vote in the presidential primary, a reduction of about 1.3 percent since the 2014 general election.

There were 4,276,104 registered Republicans registered for last week’s primary, a 2.5 percent increase from 2014.

Florida also had 3,214,856 voters who registered either as unaffiliated or with minor political parties. That was 83,733 more than in the 2014 general election, a 2.7 percent increase.

Democrats biggest advantages continue to be in the predominantly African-American and low-population counties of the central Panhandle, such as Gadsden, Liberty and Madison, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1. Democrats also still hold double-digit percentage leads over Republicans in several large counties – Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Orange – though Republicans made gains in each of those since 2014.

Republicans’ stronghold remains the western Panhandle counties of Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton, as well as the north Florida counties of Clay, Nassau and St. Johns, where they enjoy 2 to 1 (and growing, in the latest counts) advantages.

By flipping Pinellas the GOP would get its first red county with at least a half-million voters. Democrats still control the other six, including their single-digit percentage leads in Hillsborough and Duval.

Democrats made gains versus Republicans in only two counties: Seminole and Alachua. In Seminole, the Democrats signed up 2,836 more voters, while Republicans signed up 2,047 more. That sliced the GOP’s lead in voter registration there to 6 percent more than Democrats, down from 6.4 percent in the last election. In Alachua a very slightly better performance by Democrats in registering voters only padded that party’s already big lead in voter registration, now 18.7 percent.

Spring Break Destinations

Ah, spring break! Spring break is the week that marks the halfway point in the semester.


As spring break approaches, people may be wondering what they can do to make their spring break memorable and enjoyable. This article will, hopefully, offer exciting ideas for activities to do and trips to take. 


For those with a little extra money to spend, a cruise may be an attractive choice for those looking to go on a Spring Break trip. Cruises can be found to a variety of places, and many cruise lines offer cruises for less than $500.


Carnival offers cruises to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Mexico for less than $300. Royal Caribbean also offers a variety of cruises for $300 or less, and the cruises range in length from three to four days. This may appeal to working people who cannot afford to take an entire week off. 


Though these cruises may not be very long, they visit lovey places. One of the three-night Royal Caribbean cruises visits Miami, Florida, and Coco Cay and Nassau in The Bahamas. 


Those who are not interested in cruises, but would still like to visit the beach during their vacations, can find beaches fair close to home. Many of these beaches can be reached in less than a day. 


Galveston, Texas is popular destination for Spring Break, and the drive from Tulsa to Galveston can be made in about eight hours. South Padre Island, another Spring Break hot spot, is only a twelve hour drive from Tulsa. 


While not as close as Galveston and South Padre Island, Florida has some of the best beaches in the country and many locations can still be reached in under a day. Miami, for example, is only about 20 hours away from Tulsa by car. 


The Florida Keys are can also be reached in under a day. It takes about 21 hours to get to Key Largo by car, and the drive from Tulsa to Key West takes about 23 hours. 


If people are looking to remain even closer to home, Oklahoma offers many attractions to see. 


Oklahoma lakes are an option for those looking to make a day trip during Spring Break. Some popular lakes to visit include Keystone, Skiatook, Broken Bow, and Grand. 


With warm weather on its way, a dip in the water could be fun. If the waters are still too cold, however, there’s much more to do at Oklahoma lakes than swimming. People can take a picnic lunch and enjoy the outdoors, take a hike, or go fishing. 


Those who enjoy a thrill might like taking the Haunted Oklahoma Road Trip. Such stops along the route include Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Hillside Mission Cemetery in Skiatook, and the Stone Lion Inn in Guthrie. Be warned, however, that one never knows what ghostly visages one may see as they travel. 


No matter where people go for their vacation, the most important thing to remember is to have fun and relax. Happy Spring Break!

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Dr. Phil on Type 2 diabetes: I should have talked about it before

Dr. Phil McGraw is known for doling out advice on mental health on his talk show, but now the daytime host is also focusing on physical health with his new campaign about managing Type 2 diabetes.

Though the TV personality has struggled with Type 2 diabetes for more than two decades, he only recently decided to open up and talk in-depth about his personal experience living with the disease.

Why did you decide to partner with AstraZeneca to talk about Type 2 diabetes?

This is a real passion project for me. We’re talking about Type 2 diabetes and that was something I was diagnosed with over 25 years ago, and so I’ve been managing this disease for a long, long time. This is one of those diseases that has a real stigma to it because people judge that population as being lazy and out of shape and not taking care of themselves. When you talk to that population, they struggle with feeling judged, so I welcome the opportunity to deal with all of that.

Tell me about how it’s been for you to live with Type 2 diabetes.

A lot of people didn’t know what was going on with me. There are 28 million people in America that are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and another 86 million that are estimated to be at risk. That number is probably way low. I was one of those people that didn’t know I had it.

When I went to the doctor, it was because I was really having trouble losing weight no matter what I did, and I was having huge fluctuations in energy. They said you have Type 2 diabetes and your blood sugar is really out of control. I was not at all happy to be told I had a disease, but on the other hand, I was glad to finally have an answer.

What is the project you’re working on to raise awareness about Type 2 diabetes?

AstraZeneca was really interested in working with me to talk about dealing with how to manage diabetes because I deal with the psychological aspects of it. The disease is not curable and it’s not going away, so I’m going to focus on what now? What do you do with it now? They were completely willing and interested to say, “Let’s be responsible corporate citizens and help people understand how to manage this,” so we did this really exciting campaign called the On It campaign. It lives on, and I have put together six steps that I think cut across managing the disease for all Type 2 diabetes.

The six steps are very doable. You don’t have to be rich or have every resource at your fingertips. The first is what I talked about before: Move forward and get past the shame and judgment about Type 2 diabetes because it’s not your fault. Get educated and understand what this disease is all about. There’s lots more info on the website.

You’re known for covering health on your show. Why did you wait until now to talk more openly about your struggle with diabetes?

I’ve talked about it before, but I never focused on it. Frankly, I should have. I never put together and organized a plan or call to action for people. I should have. I just wasn’t putting enough emphasis on it, but I am now and I’m glad that I am.

You have an app, Doctor on Demand. How do people use it?

It’s a telemedicine app. It’s something that allows you to use your smartphone, laptop or desktop to get information with a board-certified physician, usually with the wait time of under 45 seconds. You don’t have to sit in a waiting room where everybody’s sick — if you weren’t sick, you’ll get sick before you leave — and it’s been an amazing, disruptive force in medicine. It’s a highly efficient way to get healthcare and I suspect the more you accessible you make healthcare, the more you’ll see a dent in these 86 million people who are at risk for diabetes.

Is It Safe to Travel to Europe Now?

Understandably, anybody with plans to travel to Europe in the near future is probably thinking twice about hopping on a plane right about now, especially after the State Department issued a travel alert for the continent earlier this week. “U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation,” according to the March 22 advisory, which also advised keeping your wits about you at festivals, religious gatherings, and sporting events.

Obviously, an utterly carefree spring fling by Eurail pass is out of the question at this point. The Brussels airport remains closed, and authorities report that extremists involved in the recent attacks may still be at large; meanwhile, the investigation has widened to France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Time to cancel a trip to northern Europe? What if your plans take to you the U.K., Spain or another country in the region? We talked to Leslie Overton, managing director of luxury tour operator Absolute Travel, how to make your travels as safe as possible during tense times in Europe.

Check your travel insurance. If you have travel insurance, which you should says Overton, an airport that is closed usually is grounds for coverage, says Overton. Some insurance plans have clauses about terrorism, so it will depend on the policy. Even if you’re not covered by insurance, airlines, hotels, and even restaurants will probably do their best to be accommodating. “Nobody wants to harm their own tourism industry in the future. The airlines are going to be as proactive as possible in terms of rerouting you, getting you another ticket. Airlines are not great at saying, ‘Here’s a full refund.’ But usually they’ll give you a voucher or let you rebook.”

Wait, you bought travel insurance, didn’t you? “Insurance is very important,” emphasizes Overton. It will cover you if something happens and you need to get to safety and get home. Overton works frequently with Global Rescue, which provides security and risk management for travelers. They do security briefings, monitor the situation, and will evacuate you if you need help. It’s a pricy option, though.

Register your trip. The State Department has a website where you can do this. You’ll receive their updates and alerts if the security situation changes in any of the destinations you’re going to. That also means the State Department knows where you are going to be if there’s an emergency situation on the ground, they will know how to reach out to you.

Make sure your phone works abroad. Overton uses T-Mobile, which operates in more than 100 countries. “It’s as easy as just turning your phone back on when you land,” says Overton. If you have another carrier and are a little more cost-conscious, you may want to buy a local SIM card when you arrive. That will change your phone number for the period that card is in your phone, so make sure to immediately let everybody know your new number.

Make sure your loved ones know your plans. Always leave behind a copy of your itinerary, let people know if your plans change, and leave behind either a hard copy or a scan of your passport. If your passport is lost or stolen, it’s a lot easier issue a new one if you have a copy of the original. And it will also make it a lot easier if there’s an emergency situation for your relatives to say to the authorities, here’s your documentation.”

Be vigilant, not terrified. “The State Department did not tell people not to travel, it was advice to take caution when you’re traveling,” says Overton. It’s something most regular travelers are already doing, she notes: “It’s pretty much a fancified version of ‘if you see something, say something.'” If your immediate plans includes Brussels, you might consider changing them. “The situation is evolving, the airport is still closed. And like in Nepal after the earthquake, you don’t necessarily want to jump in right away if they’re still handling a crisis. They need to use their resources to assist their own people. However, for the rest of Europe, I would say that if you want to travel there, you should feel as safe as you would anywhere else.”

Follow your gut.  Travel—at least for vacation—should be about enjoyment and exploration, so if you’re uncomfortable, then it might not be worth it. “If you’re going to be nervous in that setting and it’s going to ruin the experience, then don’t do it.” On the other hand, if you’re a soccer fan and you’re in Europe to see a match, or in Italy to see the churches, that’s going to be the highlight of your trip. “It’s hard to tell people to stay away from that,” says Overton. ” Just be sure to keep your eyes and ears open.”

Live updates from Bernie Sanders’ rally at Safeco Field in Seattle

Here is what’s happening:

  • Doors opened at 4 p.m. Speeches start later in the evening, including one by socialist Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. Admission is free.
  • Commuters should expect traffic congestion near Safeco Field in the afternoon and evening. The Washington State Department of Transportation tweeted that traffic for the Bellevue-Seattle commute would be about the same as during an afternoon Mariners game.
  • Democrats across the state will caucus tomorrow, dividing up 101 delegates between Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Find your caucus location here. If you’re wondering how it all works, check out our explainer.

Additional coverage:

UPDATE, 6:26 p.m.:

UPDATE: 6:20 p.m.:

UPDATE, 6:15 p.m.:

Bernie Sanders is scheduled to speak in 45 minutes. What are the odds he could get a visit from a little birdie twice in one day?

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., smiles as a bird lands on his podium as he speaks during a rally at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore., Friday. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., smiles as a bird lands on his podium as he speaks during a rally at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore., Friday. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

UPDATE, 6:06 p.m.:

UPDATE, 5:51 p.m.:

UPDATE, 5:45 p.m.:

Sawant is talking about her own campaign win, and leading the crowd in a chant of “When we fight, we win! When we fight, we win!”

She told the crowd to stand against “bigotry, misogyny and homophobia of billionaire Donald Trump.”

Sawant also took a shot at Hillary Clinton: “We do not need a president who has taken millions from Wall Street banks.”

UPDATE, 5:35 p.m.:

UPDATE, 5:31 p.m.:

UPDATE, 5:24 p.m.:

UPDATE, 5:20 p.m.:

Heather Yarbrough brought her 5-month-old daughter, Kaimana, and her 9-week-old pit bull puppy, Madame, to the rally. Yarbrough said that with two young children and a new puppy, she hadn’t been keeping up with the presidential campaign. “My friends have been raving for Bernie. I had to see for myself.” She’s from Kansas but is relocating to Steilacom with her husband.

Bonnie Wright, left, and Heather Yarbrough
Bonnie Wright, left, and Heather Yarbrough

UPDATE, 5:16 p.m.:

UPDATE: 5:02 p.m.:

April Sims brought her two daughters to the Bernie Sanders rally, and while waiting in the long line outside Safeco Field, she gathered signatures for a statewide initiative seeking to raise the minimum-wage.
Sims, who works for the Washington State Labor Council, a coalition of labor unions, said she had signed up at least 85 people in a couple hours.
“I’m just taking advantage of being surrounded by so many like-minded people,” she said.
Sims noted both Sanders and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, had endorsed the proposed measure.
Initiative 1433 seeks to raise the statewide minimum wage to $13.50 per hour over four years and give workers up to seven days of “safe and sick leave” credit per year.
Daughter Niah Sims, 13, said she was excited to see Sanders.
Her favorite thing about him?
“That he’s not like Trump,” she said.

UPDATE, 5 p.m.:

UPDATE: 4:48 p.m.:

Sean Donatello, from Washington, D.C., took  time out of his vacation in Seattle to attend Bernie Sanders’ rally. He said he supports Sanders’ socialist policies including free college tuition, revamping the Affordable Care Act and his support for women and minorities. “It’s not just that he isn’t a bigot. He’s got the longest history of standing up for the little people.”

Sean Donatello
Sean Donatello

UPDATE: 4:42 p.m.:


UPDATE, 4:38 p.m.:

Lynn and Mike Treseler
Lynn and Mike Treseler

Lynn and Mike Treseler of Edmonds came to Seattle to support Bernie Sanders. Lynn said she feels passionate about the inequality in the country and Sanders’ message that it’s a rigged economy. “Corporations are controlling so much. The richest people are getting richer. There’s terrible poverty. I’m surprised there hasn’t been a revolution already.”

UPDATE, 4:29 p.m.:

Wearing a shirt that reads, “99% love Bernie Sanders,” T-shirt vendor Andrew Houston, 51, of Vancouver, said he had sold about 150 shirts in three to four hours outside Safeco Field.
Houston’s company,, donates three dollars from each shirt sale to the Sanders campaign, he said.

Andrew Houston
Andrew Houston

A sign taped to Houston’s arm displayed prices as follows:
“Bernie? Not for sale. This T-shirt? $20.”

UPDATE, 4:22 p.m.:

A group of Seattle area Sikhs wait in line for the Bernie Sanders rally.
A group of Seattle area Sikhs wait in line for the Bernie Sanders rally. Sanders’ values parallel ours, said Jaspreet

UPDATE, 4:08 p.m.:

The line from Safeco Field stretched across the street past CenturyLink Field, snaked through its north parking lot, then doglegged around a building to Occidental Avenue.

Near its end three teenagers from Mill Creek held signs reading “Gays for Bernie,” “Feel the Bern,” and “Latinxs Por Bernie.”

Miguel Carroll, 17, said by the time of the presidential election, she will have turned 18.

“So we are caucusing tomorrow,” Carroll said.

He and friends, Shione Borgal, 18, and Molica Perry, 17, said they support Bernie Sanders because he appeals to a more diverse group of people, including immigrants, gays and low income families.

“I absolutely love his consistency,” said Carroll. “You can’t see that in Hillary.”

Perry added that Sanders’ stances on the environment, reducing student debt and racial inequality issues attract her the most to his candidacy.

UPDATE, 4:01 p.m.:

UPDATE, 3:54 p.m.:

UPDATE, 1:53 p.m.:

The Sanders campaign kicked off the day bright and early with this tongue-in-cheek tweet promoting the event:

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — March 24

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica.

STAT OF THE DAY — There are now more registered Republicans (225,976) in bellwether Pinellas County than there are registered Democrats (225,957). Of course, NPA (178,687) is the fastest-growing cohort, but the fact that progressive, environmentally-conscious Pinellas is now a red county is emblematic of much of what is wrong with the Florida Democratic Party.

The last Democratic Speaker of the Florida Hosue, Peter Rudy Wallace, was from St. Petersburg. The liberal Tampa Bay Times is headquartered in downtown St. Pete. Pinellas County has a Democratic majority on its County Commission. Tampa Bay is the home of Bob Buckhorn, Rick Kriseman, Charlie Crist, and Alex Sink. Were the Florida Dems ever to mount a real comeback in the Florida Legislature, it would have to include winning battleground seats in Pinellas and Hillsborough County. Yet it will be lucky if it fields even nominal opposition in two key state Senate races (versus Jeff Brandes and Dana Young).

Registration numbers only say so much, but this is a huge moral victory at the grassroots level for the Florida GOP.

As goes Florida, so goes the presidency. As goes the I-4 corridor, so goes Florida. As goes Pinellas, so goes the I-4 corridor. That’s why this number is so important.

SPEAKING OF (AND FOR PINELLAS) — FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Jack Latvala — “I think its time for Republican leaders to start acknowledging the valid issues driving Donald Trump’s supporters. The simple fact is that many Republican voters are worse off now than they were a decade ago and the ones who are better off don’t see the same opportunities available for their children or grandchildren. Donald Trump’s message has won the day and his nomination appears inevitable.

There is, however, another truth about Americans. We don’t like winners who pile on and taunt. Almost every professional sports league in America has rules against excessive celebrations because we respect people who win with dignity. As the presumptive winner of the GOP primary contest, I sincerely hope Donald Trump starts acting like the type of winner Americans need and respect. Otherwise, we will face a very difficult election in the fall.”

WHY JEB BUSH’S ENDORSEMENT IS A GAME CHANGER FOR TED CRUZ via Jeremy Carl of the National Review – The endorsement … had a surprisingly enthusiastic tone, with Bush calling Cruz “a consistent, principled, conservative who has shown he can unite the party.” But beyond the positive language, the Bush endorsement is Cruz’s most significant to date for many reasons. This may seem a somewhat strange claim, given that Bush campaign was never able to attract many votes despite beginning the cycle as the presumed front-runner. But Bush’s endorsement … serves as a tremendous validation for Cruz that he is, at long last, beginning to unite the various strands of the mainstream GOP, both conservative and establishment, around him in opposition to Trump. Even more important, Bush’s unqualified endorsement is an unofficial blessing by Bushworld for GOP financiers that they can and should feel free to raise money for Cruz without apology and without any fear of “mainstream” backlash. To do otherwise, given Bush’s statements, would be to be “more royalist than the king.”

CHART OF THE DAY: HOW FAR JEB BUSH IS GOING TO STOP DONALD TRUMP via Ritchie King of – It’s an anti-Trump, clothespin endorsement: Bush appealed to Republicans to “overcome the divisiveness and vulgarity Donald Trump has brought into the political arena.” And although Bush praised Cruz as a “consistent, principled conservative,” the two men come from completely different camps of the Republican Party … our graphical conception of the Republican field — what we call the GOP’s “five-ring circus” — and how far across that field former presidential candidates have gone when choosing who to endorse. Both Bush and Lindsey Graham traveled a ways along the circus floor — across the entire “establishment” ring and beyond — to arrive at their Cruz endorsements. Only Chris Christie’s endorsement of Trump, the GOP front-runner, looks like a bigger stretch, though admittedly, Trump’s placement is extremely tenuous. Still, Cruz has been mostly despised by Republican apparatchiks, and the chart should give you a sense of the lengths some Republican Party “elites” are willing to go to stop Trump.

TWEET, TWEET: @realDonaldTrump: Low energy Jeb Bush just endorsed a man he truly hates, Lyin’ Ted Cruz. Honestly, I can’t blame Jeb in that I drove him into oblivion!

GOP ELITES LINE UP BEHIND TED CRUZ via Eli Stokols of POLITICO – Republican elders, desperate to stop Trump, are increasingly convinced they would rather forfeit the White House than hand their party to the divisive Manhattan billionaire. That’s why the party’s establishment is suddenly rallying behind Cruz, a man they’ve long despised and who has little chance, in the view of many GOP veterans, of defeating Hillary Clinton on Election Day. “People think we’re not going to win in November anymore. All the candidates that had a shot at winning don’t appear to have a shot at winning the nomination. Everyone is resigned to that,” said a high-ranking GOP operative about the thinking among Bush and Rubio alumni, as well as Republican party officials and big-money donors. “People think we lose with Cruz, but we don’t lose everything,” said the operative … “He’s still a real Republican. We don’t lose the House and Senate with Cruz. We don’t lose our soul as a party, and we can recover in four years and I’m not sure people think we can recover from Donald Trump.” Said one high-level operative inside the Koch network: “He’s the devil you know.” Indeed, they’d rather lose with Cruz and play a longer game with eyes on 2020 than see their party and conservative principles hijacked by Trump – a candidate they do not trust even as they recognize his political dexterity and the possibility that he could be just cagey enough to win in the fall.

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WITH DONALD TRUMP LEADING, NEARLY ALL SENATE CANDIDATES SEEK ‘OUTSIDER’ LABEL via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Call it the Trump effect or the Bernie Sanderseffect: Nearly all of the seven candidates for Florida’s open U.S. Senate seat — even some sitting congressmen — are angling to be seen as “the outsider.” But some experts say that strategy may not be the boon candidates hope for, even in an election cycle that’s so anti-Washington. “There’s something that is so unique to Trump that I’m not sure it’s easily translated to another race,” said Nathan Gonzales, editor of the Rothenberg and Gonzales political report. “In terms of the effect of Trump down-ballot, nobody knows,” said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor of the Cook political report. “Everybody is in pretty uncharted water.” For the last month, Republicans in particular have hurled criticisms at one another, trying to make their opponents out to be part of the political elite. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantiscalled Bradenton homebuilder Carlos Beruff a “Charlie Crist Republican” and accused him of “crony capitalism.” For his part, Beruff has gone after Carlos Lopez-Cantera and David Jolly as “professional politicians.”

MY TAKE: SELF-PROCLAIMED ‘TAXPAYER HERO’ RON DESANTIS CARRIES MOST DEBT IN FLORIDA’S U.S. SENATE RACE via Florida Politics – Boasting a reputation as a “leading fiscal conservative in the House,” DeSantis doesn’t quite walk the same walk in his own campaign. As he frequently rails against the national debt, comparing a recent budget deal to “giving a shopaholic an unlimited credit card,” the congressman seems perfectly fine carrying a boatload of debt on his own. POLITICO Florida reports that nearly $100,000 is owed to direct mail vendors; $86,039 of it to Virginia-based Targeted Victory Funding, which provides website development and online marketing. As of the last reporting period, DeSantis added another $29,470. Calling yourself a “taxpayer hero” by decrying massive debt is apparently much easier said than done, especially when vendors’ money is already in your pocket. Financial solvency is a simple equation — pay your debts with the money you have.

PATRICK MURPHY STAFFER ASKS TRACKER IF HE’S “DOIN’ GOOD?” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Video trackers have become a regular way of life on the campaign trail … No doubt Jupiter Democratic Representative Patrick Murphy gets his fair share … The other night, Murphy and one of his staffers were en route to a meeting when a tracker caught up with them. In a video, courtesy of the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aimed at keeping the Senate in GOP hands, the Murphy staffer tries to obstruct the tracker from asking a question, and comes out looking a bit foolish in doing so. Congressman Murphy seems to be enjoying the exchange, nevertheless.

U.S. SENATE TRACKER: Carlos Beruff will attend the Sarasota Republican Club dinner meeting at 6 p.m. at Marina Jack Restaurant in Sarasota. Carlos Lopez-Cantera will attend the Republican Club of Okaloosa County meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion in Fort Walton Beach.

CORRINE BROWN FACING HOUSE ETHICS INVESTIGATION via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The House Committee on Ethics has established an investigative subcommittee to look at whether Brown violated any laws or committed “fraudulent activity.” A release from the committee does not list specific allegations, but the head of a charity linked to Brown pleaded guilty earlier this month to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Brown was served with a federal subpoena in January. Carla Wiley, president of the Virginia-based nonprofit One Door for Education, pleaded guilty to using the influence of a public official to solicit contributions to her organization. She has agreed to cooperate with federal officials. Court documents in that case do not name the public official but simply refer to them as “Person A.” It outlines $150,000 in disbursements made from the nonprofit to “cover costs associated with social or political events hosted by Person A or held in Person A’s honor.” Brown’s office said she has “no comment” on the ethics probe.

JEFF MILLER BACKS NEAL DUNN TO TAKE ON GWEN GRAHAM via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – “North Florida needs a conservative who is committed to serving our veterans, shrinking the size and scope of the federal government and safeguarding our Second Amendment rights,” Miller said. “Neal Dunn shares the same conservative values as many of us in our community, and he has demonstrated a commitment to the ideals and principles of the Founding Fathers. I believe his background as a veteran and surgeon makes him uniquely qualified to represent the 2nd District of Florida in Congress.”

REBECCA NEGRON MAKES THE BALLOT IN CD 18 BY PETITION via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – “I am encouraged and honored that I am now qualified to appear on the ballot to represent Congressional District 18 for the upcoming Republican primary on Aug. 30,” Negron said. “Reaching this milestone by petition is further proof that Congressional District 18 voters are not only hearing our conservative message, but hearing a message they embrace for the future of their community and nation … My team and I have enjoyed meeting and speaking with the people of this community.”

CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS CAN HELP OR HINDER CANDIDATES SWITCHING RACES via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Because of differences between federal and state campaign finance laws, Mike Haridopolos can use money left over from his failed U.S. Senate bid to run for state Senate, but Matt Gaetz, who switched from a state Senate seat to a congressional effort, is out of luck. According to Federal Election Commission records, [Haridopolos] still has $944,745 in his campaign committee, “Friends of Mike H” … Gaetz can’t just move his money to a congressional campaign because Florida law says he has to “dispose” of those funds after withdrawing from the race. He has 90 days to so do once he officially takes his name out of contention … Gaetz will have to “return pro rata to each contributor (any) funds that have not been spent or obligated.” On the other hand, should Haridopolos jump into the state Senate race, he can — generally speaking — apply his federal campaign dollars toward that bid, according to Paul S. Ryan, deputy executive director of the Campaign Legal Center … “In this instance, the only restriction on a federal candidate’s use of campaign funds is that the candidate cannot convert the funds to personal use … In order for a federal candidate to use their campaign funds to support a state office campaign, state campaign finance law would require the funds to be contributed to, and then spent out of, the candidate’s state campaign committee … So, in the eyes of federal law, this is deemed a contribution from a federal committee to a state committee.”

NATIONAL LIBERAL GROUP TARGETS ANITERE FLORES AS ‘QUEEN OF CORRUPTION’ IN FLORIDA via Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – … because of her past work with the unaccredited Doral College in Miami-Dade County. In an online video — that declares her “Florida’s most corrupt politician” — Occupy Democrats takes Flores to task for her former job as president of the college and for supporting legislation that benefited Florida’s charter school industry. The group alleges she “takes tax dollars meant for education and pockets them” for her own enrichment and those of her “friends.” Doral College is run by Academica, a for-profit company that’s believed to be Florida’s largest charter school operator and that a few Miami-Dade Republican lawmakers have connections to. Flores worked as president of Doral College from its inception in 2011 until July 2015. Occupy Democrats — which bills itself as a “counterbalance” to the conservative tea party movement — posted its video on Facebook, sharing it with nearly 2.6 million fans on the site.

NORA PATTERSON RAMPS UP ENDORSEMENT WAR IN STATE SENATE RACE via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Patterson took the endorsement chase to a whole new level when the former Sarasota County commissioner put out a list of 150 people supporting her state Senate bid. The list Patterson sent out Wednesday covers two full pages. What’s unusual is that many of the names aren’t those of elected officials. Instead, they’re prominent business leaders and community activists. They include doctors, attorneys, realtors, a veterinarian, a library manager, the former head of Sarasota Memorial Hospital, the former head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and plenty of people who are just listed as “Sarasota resident” or “Venice resident” or “Longboat Key resident” … “These leaders are all well-known and respected in their communities and will be part of an unprecedented local grassroots effort to elect Nora Patterson to the Florida Senate,” Patterson said in the release. The list further showcased the deep connections Patterson has in Sarasota County after nearly a quarter century in local government.

HD 25 HOPEFUL TOM LEEK NETS ENDORSEMENTS FROM FORMER RIVALS via Florida Politics – The endorsements came from Volusia County Councilwoman Deb Denys and Becky Reichenberg, a former legislative aide for current Republican Rep. Fred Costello, who is running for Congress. “Tom Leek is someone we can count on to be a conservative leader in Tallahassee,” Denys said. “Tom is someone who understands our needs, from better cooperation between the state and local governments to better-paying jobs and a technology-driven future for our economy.” Reichenberg said that after meeting Leek, she was confident that “he’s a true conservative with the right experience and the right mindset for the job.” Leek said he was “beyond grateful” for the former candidates’ support and that he looked “forward to working closely with both Deb and Becky for many years to come.”

RENE PLASENCIA USES POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE MONEY TO BUY SCHOOL BUS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Plasencia’s Commitment to Opportunity, Action and Community Health PC (COACH PC) spent $6,735 on Feb. 18 to purchase, at the Campus Auto Retail Service in Deland, what the PAC’s website called “capital.” Once the purchase was noticed on the PAC’s website, it had political activists and observers in Central Florida raising eyebrows and gossiping about whether “Coach P” Plasencia, an Orlando Republican, used PAC campaign money to buy a used car. “It’s a school bus,” Plasencia said …  A full-size school bus. Plasencia, a high school teacher and track coach before he was elected, said he intends to put an advertising wrap on it declaring “Coach P.” Then he intends to use it as a mobile campaign office, a mobile constituency outreach and services office, and to help out at social services and community events that might need a mobile office. Or a bus. “The lawyers said the only way we could do it is to purchase it through the PC,” Plasencia said. Coach P’s Magic Bus won’t be ready for its debut for a few weeks. Plasencia said he imagines the purchase should be fine with those who had donated to the PAC. After all, he said, PAC money can be spent on virtually anything.

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DANE EAGLE TALKS GUN LEGISLATION DURING AT SWFL TIGER BAY CLUB via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Eagle said a bill to allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns on college and university campuses will be proposed again in the next Legislative Session. However, he seemed less sure about the future of a second gun bill (HB 163) that would have allowed concealed permit holders to openly carry their weapon. “Guns are a very sensitive topic for many,” he said. “When some people see (an image of a gun) they automatically see violence. Others see pride, patriotism and self-defense. It’s understandable why there is so much controversy, those believes are strong and people have differing opinions.” Eagle co-sponsored the campus carry bill (HB 4001) during the 2016 Legislative Session. The proposal cleared the Florida House on an 80-37 vote, but died in the Florida Senate.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: State Rep. Ed Narain will mark the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act by highlighting the success story of Ken Conklin, who discovered a life threatening illness after enrolling in a private health insurance plan offered by the ACA. News conference begins 10 a.m. at Narain’s District Office, 2109 East Palm Ave., Suite 201 in Tampa.

JET FUEL TAX CHANGES SET TO BECOME LAW JULY 1, BARRING UNLIKELY VETO via Florida Politics – The bill removes exemptions to the state’s jet fuel tax, which currently apply to once-upstart carriers like Southwest Airlines and JetBlue beginning in 2018. It would also lower the overall rate for all carriers from 6.9 percent to 4.7 percent, in order to keep the change “revenue neutral,” or avoid becoming a de facto tax increase. The move undoes a legislative change made in 1996 designed to help lure (now-defunct) Pan Am II to Florida by giving smaller fledging carriers who employ 250 or more workers what now amounts to a 10-figure tax break annually. The exemption briefly expired in 2001, but lawmakers reinstated it in 2002 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks shook officials’ confidence in the strength of Florida’s aviation industry. The bill is considered a major win for larger air lines like Delta, American and United, who say the “small” carriers like Southwest have now grown their market-shares enough to compete without tax incentives. It’s essentially a twofer for the big firms: they will pay less in jet fuel taxes, while their competitors will go from paying 0 to 4.7 percent per gallon.

LEGISLATURE EASES TRANSFER RULES FOR HIGH-SCHOOL ATHLETES via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – That bill (HB 7029), passed by lawmakers but not yet delivered to Scott, contains a section for school districts to amend their eligibility requirements for high school athletes. The provision is substantially the same as legislation pushed in the House and Senate that gave student athletes more freedom to transfer schools without incurring penalties. Among other things, the provision allows student-athletes to be immediately eligible when they enroll in or transfer to a school and requires a local board to establish eligibility criteria. The bill also lays out penalties for school employees who are found guilty of recruiting, requires teams to forfeit wins using recruited students and changes the threshold of proving eligibility to a “preponderance of evidence,” instead of by “clear and convincing evidence,” a tougher legal standard.

GOV. SCOTT SIGNS NEEDLE EXCHANGE, RAPE KIT BILLS via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The new rape kit law is intended to prevent future backlogs in the wake of Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports that 13,000 kits lie untested in the state. It requires state crime labs to test kits within 120 days of receiving them. Scott also signed a law allowing the University of Miami to give out free, clean needles and syringes in exchange for used ones. Its goal is to reach drug users, who are particularly susceptible to contracting HIV and AIDS. Taxpayer money can’t be used for the program, which will include a mobile unit to bring the exchange to people without transportation.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will talk jobs at 10 a.m. at Inside Sales Solutions, 1431 4th Street South in St. Petersburg.

DEO WORKERS AT NORTHWOOD CENTER SENT HOME via Jeff Burlew and Sean Rossman of the Tallahassee Democrat – A number of state workers at Northwood Centre got sick … prompting agency officials to let them go home for the day. At least one Department of Economic Opportunity employee fainted at Northwood … and others were reportedly vomiting, said an attorney representing dozens of employees who are suing over environmental and health problems. It was just the latest turn in the unfolding drama at Northwood Centre, where reports of mold, bat guano, sewage and other problems have prompted new rounds of lawsuits and a planned exit of nearly all of the 1,500 state employees with offices there. Dean Izzo, DEO chief of staff, visited the building and told workers they could leave for the day. Employees were instructed to report back to their Northwood offices … DEO executive director Cissy Proctor issued a statement saying the workers, housed in the former Publix building at Northwood, were allowed to leave “out of an abundance of caution.”

FLORIDA CAR INSURANCE AMONG PRICIEST IN THE NATION via Nina Lincoff of the South Florida Business Journal – Florida is No. 5 for most expensive minimum car insurance, according to a new report from, which looked at average annual rates across all 50 states. Minimum car insurance in Florida is more than twice as expensive as it is in Alaska, the cheapest state for minimum coverage. On average, Floridians pay $1,058 a year, compared to the $385 North Carolina residents would pay. Rates vary for a variety of reasons, including accident rates and the rate of uninsured drivers. According to another study, Florida is the worst state to get in a car accident because of the high number of uninsured drivers and low insurance requirements.

WHAT BOB BUCKHORN IS READING — VINIK-CASCADE TEAM HIRES TAMPA FIRM FOR $35M INFRASTRUCTURE WORK via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – Strategic Property Partners has selected a Tampa contractor for its roadway reconfiguration and infrastructure work. SPP, the real estate company controlled by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment LLC, said that Kimmins Contracting Corp. has been chosen from five firms that responded to a request for qualifications that went out in January. A portion of the costs will be funded from downtown Tampa’s Community Redevelopment Area funds. CRAs have a state designation that allows them to use locally generated money to fund projects within the CRA.

MY TAKE: THE BULLYING OF A SMALL TOWN via Florida Politics – Residents of the small municipality of Bal Harbour in Miami-Dade County discovered last week that the owners of the Village’s largest shopping center, the Bal Harbour Shops, had sued both the Village, and its Vice-Mayor [Patricia Cohen]. Why? Simply because they would not bend to their will … the lawsuit is ostensibly about public records … Residents feel the suit is more about intimidation and bullying than anything else. For more than three years now, the Shops have been pushing a plan for a $400 million expansion of its mall space, nearly doubling the size of the current square footage and adding close to one thousand new parking spaces. The Shops have not wasted any time in their efforts to impose their will on the Village … demanded the city approves referendum language in a hastily scheduled special meeting of the Village Council March 17, to meet the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections’ deadline to schedule a special election in May. Things didn’t go well for the Shops almost immediately after they tried to fast track their referendum. Although the lawsuit claims that Cohen violated Florida public records law for allegedly refusing to provide official communications dealing with the Shops expansion and the land deal for the village property, many residents feel this is a blatant attempt by the developers to bully Cohen and the inhabitants of the town.

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APPOINTED: Phillip Russell and Elliot Stern to the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County.


Albert Balido, Anfield Consulting: ProcessMap

Dianne Bean: ACT Aspire

Pete Buigas, Buigas and Associates: Viventium Health Plan

David Ramba, Ramba Consulting Group: Gateway Services Community Development District

William Rubin, The Rubin Group: The Florida Bar, Family Law Section

SAINTPETERSBLOG ALUMNI WATCH: KAREN CYPHERS NAVIGATES DATA WITH DEXTERITY via Marina Brown of the Tallahassee Democrat – Public policy research. Data mining. Strategies. Trends. All of it dry information that might leave some thinking of a nap — but not Karen Cyphers, vice president of Research at Sachs Media Group … It is all about storytelling. “Information, when carefully analyzed, can paint a picture of what is happening now and how best to proceed. It is enlightening. And it is fascinating.” Cyphers, the mother of three girls … has cut a wide-swath through the governmental, health care and communications worlds of Tallahassee. Now, at Sachs Media, she says she’s found the place she wants to stay, the place her skills will make the difference to causes she holds most dear. Cyphers rose quickly in her field. She became active in the Crist and McCollum gubernatorial campaigns and became Gov. Charlie Crist’s Deputy Policy Chief for Health and Human Services. She was Director of Health Care Policy at the Florida Medical Association. She was awarded “Best In-Depth Reporting” by the Florida Magazine Association and sat on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Central and Peripheral Nervous System Drugs Advisory Board. Along with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, they collaborated on an Alzheimer’s series for CNN. The result is the Senator William Proxmire Award which was presented March 14 in Washington, D.C. at the Great Minds Gala. Cyphers says that along the way she has had only wonderful role models in both men and women. “The only challenge I’ve found as a woman is the pressure to wear uncomfortable shoes,” she laughs. She credits her ability to stay calm in the face of chaos and creating a workspace that is a haven for productivity as one of her most important skills. “I so value Sachs Media’s commitment to community service. It is the work I want to do.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our friends Brian Blanco and Glen Gilzean.

Phife Dawg’s Death a Reminder to Take Diabetes Seriously

The death at 45 of Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor of A Tribe Called Quest shines a glaring spotlight on blacks’ vulnerability to diabetes, the condition he battled for decades, and which ultimately claimed his life.

African American adults are “80 percent more likely” than white adults to have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, which also found in 2013 that African Americans were twice as likely as to die from the disease.

Black celebrities reported to have the condition include Blackish star Anthony Anderson; singer, Patti LaBelle; actress Sherri Shepherd; former American Idol judge Randy Jackson; Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin; Grammy winner Chaka Khan; entrepreneur Damon Dash; NBA legend Dominique Wilkins; and actress and former Miss America Vanessa Williams. Eating healthy, getting fit, taking proper medications, tracking glucose levels, and getting a twice yearly A1c test to track glucose levels over time are believed to be among the best ways to control the disease.

Taylor made his long-running battle with Type 2 diabetes public in the 1993 song “Oh My God,” rapping, “When’s the last time you heard a funky diabetic?” His condition was aggravated, by an uncontrolled sweet tooth, he admitted in Beats, Rhymes and Life, a 2011 documentary about the history of Tribe, where Taylor said: “Like straight-up drugs. I’m just addicted to sugar.”

Unchecked, diabetes can lead to dire health outcomes, including blindness, limb amputation, and kidney failure. The disease was a primary cause of kidney failure in 44 percent of new cases in 2011, with blacks suffering from kidney failure at a rate three times higher than whites.

Taylor’s condition worsened to the point that he received a kidney transplant from his wife in 2008, while still in his 30s. An All Hip Hop article from that year reported that Taylor was first diagnosed with diabetes in 1990, and went on dialysis in 2000, during which time he had difficulty performing and dropped considerable weight.

It’s a strain on me as far as going where I want to go, doing what I want to do,” he told Diabetes Forecast. “When I was on dialysis the first time, my stepson was playing basketball [and] I couldn’t practice with him. I wanted to go out and run with him and things of that nature, but I didn’t feel good.”

Though his prospects appeared to look up with the new kidney, four years later he was reportedly back on the waiting list for yet another one, and then on March 22 he succumbed to complications from diabetes.

RELATED: Cedric the Entertainer ‘Steps On Up’ for Diabetes Campaign

Taylor initially formed A Tribe Called Quest with high school classmate Q-Tip in 1985. The group later grew with the addition of Jarobi White and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, releasing five albums together between 1990 and 1998, and in 2015 reissuing their debut, People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm to mark its 25th anniversary. They also reunited on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon to perform that album’s chart topping single, “Can I Kick It?”

Diabetes affects how your body uses blood sugar, a source of fuel for the cells in muscles, tissues and the brain. People with diabetes have a glut of glucose in their blood. Type 1 is considered to be a more severe form of the disease, where the person is dependent upon insulin to control it. It’s sometimes called “juvenile” diabetes, because it typically develops during childhood or teen years. The most common form, Type 2, is non-insulin dependent diabetes, and usually develops after 35. While those who have it are able to produce some of their own insulin, it’s usually not enough. Often, Type 2 occurs in people who are overweight and/or sedentary. There’s also prediabetes, where blood sugar is high, but hasn’t yet developed into type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes, which can occur during a pregnancy.

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How the Travel Industry Needs to Change the Way it Treats Families


Think back to those summer road trips with your parents, or those family reunions out in the boondocks. How many family trips have you taken in your lifetime? Have you traveled with extended family? How about with children? Every family travel experience is different, but one pattern that seems to resurface is the travel industry’s lack of preparedness when accommodating families. Even though family travel is projected to be at an all time high this year (70 percent of Americans are expected to travel for leisure in 2016, which is up from 66 percent in 2015), the industry has a long way to go before it makes travel easy on families.

Vacations for many families are hard on the budget, stressful to plan for, taxing during transportation and not always what they are expected to be. In order to combat some of these obstacles, family travelers have started some new trends. Ninety-three percent of families surveyed in a Family Travel Association study were either “very likely” or “likely” to travel with their children in the next two years. Families are now traveling in larger groups with friends and their children. Vacations are being taken throughout the year, not just during spring and summer breaks. Grandparents and extended families are joining trips as well. In order to accommodate these trends, the industry needs to make some changes.


Vacations Don’t Need to be Big Monetary Investments

Families are always looking for affordable alternatives to the typical expensive vacation itinerary, but they also want to make sure they are providing the best possible experience. Unfortunately, the average trip for a family of four costs $4,580. That isn’t something a family can swing every few months. Affordability is the most prominent challenge for family travel. While it mainly affects middle to low income families, nearly every family sees this as a concern. By changing priorities and implementing new profit models to accommodate emerging family travel trends, the travel industry and the companies within it could see a sizable influx of families enjoying their services.


Planning Family Trips Should be Fun and Hassle-Free

With more and more resources out there for families to use to plan their vacations, it should be easier than ever to get an itinerary put together. This is not the case. With the increased access to information, also came the access to false information. Now families are having to wade through Internet muck to figure out what is legitimate and trustworthy, and what isn’t. Organizations like the Family Travel Association have tried to mitigate the problems that families have encountered due to unreliable information by vetting various travel sites and posting helpful articles on relevant topics. More sites dedicated to family travel options and current news would go a long way in encouraging travel. Rainer Jenss, the Founder and President of the Family Travel Association also suggested “travel agents who work with families need to continue to improve their understanding of family needs, starting with asking the right questions and also educating themselves on what’s available for families.”


Transportation Should Not be a Nightmare

Baggage fees, limited and expensive accommodations for young children, and little flexibility for letting kids stretch legs during long flights are just a few things that have turned families off of flying to their destination. Even a cup of milk for a thirsty infant is hard to come by. The problem is that airlines treat families like everyone else, which adds extra strain on unprepared or already-stressed parents. Families often have to buy pre-boarding tickets to make sure they get seats together. (This is unfortunately a typical problem with U.S. carriers, whereas international airlines have a better track record.) Some U.S. carriers simply can’t afford to offer niceties, such as snacks for kids or supplies to help them if they get sick. It is because of these hassles that the majority of families opt for road trips, instead of trips that require flights.

In 2008 Kari Dilloo, communications manager for what was then Bing Travel, took her twins (3-months old at the time), on an hour and a half flight from Seattle to Salt Lake City. After spending months planning the trip, Kari was met with such little support from the airline and other passengers that she chose to take her family on road trips from then on. “I already had low expectations,” Kari said. “But they dropped even more.” She noted that if there was an airline that catered specifically to families, she would fly them, but she has yet to hear of one.

If airlines worked to accommodate families better by guaranteeing that they would be able to sit together and planned to have extra provisions on board to assist in keeping children occupied and happy, families would be flying much more often.


Finding Comfortable Accommodations Shouldn’t Make You Squirm

Up until recently, hotels had a monopoly on travel accommodations. Travelers were forced to choose between myriad rooms that all looked the same. The only information available about the hotels was found on the hotel website or from reviews that may or may not have been sponsored by the hotel. Families found themselves in lodgings that didn’t hold up to expectation but had to make due nonetheless.

Luckily, gone are the days when the only lodging option for a family was a hotel suite. Now, with companies like HomeExchange, Airbnb and others, families can easily connect with like-minded home-owners around the world and find suitable accommodations, including affordable full sized condos or homes. “Residence-like accommodations are increasingly popular with families,” Caroline Shin, travel expert and CEO and Chief Vacation Officer of Vacatia says, “because they offer the bedroom space needed as well as kitchens to prepare affordable meals.” Resort condos with multiple rooms and kitchens are also very popular since they come with concierge service and other hotel-like amenities.

Families need better options in order to have stress-free and memorable travel experiences. The sharing economy has prompted solutions to the problems that families have encountered. Social platforms found on home sharing sites allow people to get their questions answered before booking. Parents now weigh the worth of discounted tickets to SeaWorld offered by a crowded hotel against the “home-away-from-home” experience they’d have at a shared residence. Driveways or quiet streets are chosen over expensive parking garages or lack thereof at city hotels. Shared cars are more affordable than rental cars and are just as reliable. Kitchens and dining rooms are preferred by families more often than restaurant dining, which saves money and late night tantrums. The sharing economy is currently the driving force behind stress-free family travel and if the rest of the travel industry wants to get in on this action, all it has to do is get on board.

About the author:

2016-01-22-1453494887-5982037-JimPickell.pngJim Pickell is President of, an advisor, angel investor, and frequent guest lecturer. Previously, Pickell founded several companies including, Latin America’s leading online language school, and served as Senior Vice President of SONY Connect in L.A., where he led the digital distribution of films, music, and eBooks. His later quest to collaborate with like-minded thinkers and create ideas that influence positive change led him to, first as a member and now as a core part of what he calls “a 23-year-old startup.” Pickell is a member of the board of the Family Travel Association and an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at the Argyros School of Business and Economics. He holds a degree in economics from UC Berkeley, a law degree from Loyola Law School, and an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA.