Why Are Older Americans Drinking So Much?

The New York Times

Why Are Older Americans Drinking So Much?

Paula Span – March 31, 2024

The pandemic played a role in increased consumption, but alcohol use among people 65 and older was climbing even before 2020. (Luisa Jung/The New York Times)
The pandemic played a role in increased consumption, but alcohol use among people 65 and older was climbing even before 2020. (Luisa Jung/The New York Times)

The phone awakened Doug Nordman at 3 a.m. A surgeon was calling from a hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado, where Nordman’s father had arrived at the emergency room, incoherent and in pain, and then lost consciousness.

At first, the staff had thought he was suffering a heart attack, but a CT scan found that part of his small intestine had been perforated. A surgical team repaired the hole, saving his life, but the surgeon had some questions.

“Was your father an alcoholic?” he asked. The doctors had found Dean Nordman malnourished, his peritoneal cavity “awash with alcohol.”

Doug Nordman, a military personal finance author living in Oahu, Hawaii, explained that his 77-year-old dad had long been a classic social drinker: a scotch and water with his wife before dinner, which got topped off during dinner, then another after dinner, and perhaps a nightcap.

Having three to four drinks daily exceeds current dietary guidelines, which define moderate consumption as two drinks a day for men and one for women, or less. But “that was the normal drinking culture of the time,” Doug Nordman, now 63, said.

At the time of his hospitalization, though, Dean Nordman, a retired electrical engineer, was widowed, living alone and developing symptoms of dementia. He got lost while driving, struggled with household chores and complained of a “slipping memory.”

He had waved off his two sons’ offers of help, saying he was fine. During that hospitalization, however, Doug Nordman found hardly any food in his father’s apartment. Worse, reviewing his father’s credit card statements, “I saw recurring charges from the Liquor Barn and realized he was drinking a pint of scotch a day,” he said.

Public health officials are increasingly alarmed by older Americans’ drinking. The annual number of alcohol-related deaths from 2020 through 2021 exceeded 178,000, according to recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is more deaths than from all drug overdoses combined.

An analysis by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows that people over 65 accounted for 38% of that total. From 1999 to 2020, the 237% increase in alcohol-related deaths among those over age 55 was higher than for any age group except 25- to 34-year-olds.

Americans largely fail to recognize the hazards of alcohol, said George Koob, director of the institute. “Alcohol is a social lubricant when used within the guidelines, but I don’t think they realize that as the dose increases it becomes a toxin,” he said. “And the older population is even less likely to recognize that.”

The growing number of older people accounts for much of the increase in deaths, Koob said. An aging population foreshadows a continuing surge that worries health care providers and elder advocates, even if older people’s drinking behavior doesn’t change.

But it has been changing. The proportions of people over 65 who report using alcohol in the past year (about 56%) and the past month (about 43%) are lower than for all other groups of adults. But older drinkers are markedly more likely to do it frequently, 20 or more days a month, than younger ones.

Moreover, a 2018 meta-analysis found that binge drinking (defined as four or more drinks on a single occasion for women, five or more for men) had climbed nearly 40% among older Americans over the past 10 to 15 years.

What’s going on here?

The pandemic has clearly played a role. The CDC reported that deaths attributable directly to alcohol use, emergency room visits associated with alcohol, and alcohol sales per capita all rose from 2019 to 2020, as COVID-19 arrived and restrictions took hold.

“A lot of stressors impacted us: the isolation, the worries about getting sick,” Koob said. “They point to people drinking more to cope with that stress.”

Researchers also cite a cohort effect. Compared with those before and after them, “the boomers are a substance-using generation,” said Keith Humphreys, a psychologist and addiction researcher at Stanford. And they’re not abandoning their youthful behavior, he said.

Studies show a narrowing gender divide, too. “Women have been the drivers of change in this age group,” Humphreys said.

From 1997 to 2014, drinking rose an average of 0.7% a year for men over 60, while their binge drinking remained stable. Among older women, drinking climbed by 1.6% annually, with binge drinking up 3.7%.

“Contrary to stereotypes, upper-middle-class, educated people have higher rates of drinking,” Humphreys explained. In recent decades, as women grew more educated, they entered workplaces where drinking was normative; they also had more disposable income. “The women retiring now are more likely to drink than their mothers and grandmothers,” he said.

Yet alcohol use packs a greater wallop for older people, especially for women, who become intoxicated more quickly than men because they’re smaller and have fewer of the gut enzymes that metabolize alcohol.

Seniors may argue that they are merely drinking the way they always have, but “equivalent amounts of alcohol have much more disastrous consequences for older adults,” whose bodies cannot process it as quickly, said Dr. David Oslin, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia.

“It causes slower thinking, slower reaction time and less cognitive capacity when you’re older,” he said, ticking off the risks.

Long associated with liver diseases, alcohol also “exacerbates cardiovascular disease, renal disease and, if you’ve been drinking for many years, there’s an increase in certain kinds of cancers,” he said. Drinking contributes to falls, a major cause of injury as people age, and disrupts sleep.

Older adults also take a lot of prescription drugs, and alcohol interacts with a long list of them. These interactions can be particularly common with pain medications and sleep aids like benzodiazepines, sometimes causing oversedation. In other cases, alcohol can reduce a drug’s effectiveness.

Oslin cautions that while many prescription bottles carry labels that warn against using those drugs with alcohol, patients may shrug that off, explaining that they take their pills in the morning and don’t drink until evening.

“Those medications are in your system all day long, so when you drink, there’s still that interaction,” he tells them.

One proposal for combating alcohol misuse among older people is to raise the federal tax on alcohol, for the first time in decades.

“Alcohol consumption is price-sensitive, and it’s pretty cheap right now relative to income,” Humphreys said.

Resisting industry lobbying and making alcohol more expensive, the way higher taxes have made cigarettes more expensive, could reduce use.

So could eliminating barriers to treatment.

Treatments for excessive alcohol use, including psychotherapy and medications, are no less effective for older patients, Oslin said. In fact, “age is actually the best predictor of a positive response,” he said, adding that “treatment doesn’t necessarily mean you have to become abstinent. We work with people to moderate their drinking.”

But the 2008 federal law requiring health insurers to provide parity — meaning the same coverage for mental health, including substance use disorders, as for other medical conditions — doesn’t apply to Medicare. Several policy and advocacy groups are working to eliminate such disparities.

Dean Nordman never sought treatment for his drinking, but after his emergency surgery, his sons moved him into a nursing home, where antidepressants and a lack of access to alcohol improved his mood and his sociability. He died in the facility’s memory care unit in 2017.

Doug Nordman, whom his father had introduced to beer at 13, had been a heavy drinker himself, he said, “to the point of blackout” as a college student, and a social drinker thereafter.

But as he watched his father decline, “I realized this was ridiculous,” he recalled. Alcohol can exacerbate the progression of cognitive decline, and he had a family history.

He has remained sober since that pre-dawn phone call 13 years ago.

They came for Florida’s sun and sand. They got soaring costs and a culture war.

NBC News

They came for Florida’s sun and sand. They got soaring costs and a culture war.

Shannon Pettypiece – March 31, 2024

One of the first signs Barb Carter’s move to Florida wasn’t the postcard life she’d envisioned was the armadillo infestation in her home that caused $9,000 in damages. Then came a hurricane, ever present feuding over politics, and an inability to find a doctor to remove a tumor from her liver.

After a year in the Sunshine State, Carter packed her car with whatever belongings she could fit and headed back to her home state of Kansas — selling her Florida home at a $40,000 loss and leaving behind the children and grandchildren she’d moved to be closer to.

“So many people ask, ‘Why would you move back to Kansas?’ I tell them all the same thing — you’ve got to take your vacation goggles off,” Carter said. “For me, it was very falsely promoted. Once living there, I thought, you know, this isn’t all you guys have cracked this up to be, at all.”

Florida has had a population boom over the past several years, with more than 700,000 people moving there in 2022, and it was the second-fastest-growing state as of July 2023, according to Census Bureau data. While there are some indications that migration to the state has slowed from its pandemic highs, only Texas saw more one-way U-Haul moves into the state than Florida last year. Mortgage application data indicated there were nearly two homebuyers moving to Florida in 2023 for every one leaving, according to data analytics firm CoreLogic.

But while hundreds of thousands of new residents have flocked to the state on the promise of beautiful weather, no income tax and lower costs, nearly 500,000 left in 2022, according to the most recent census data. Contributing to their move was a perfect storm of soaring insurance costs, a hostile political environment, worsening traffic and extreme weather, according to interviews with more than a dozen recent transplants and longtime residents who left the state in the past two years.

A demonstrator holds a placard reading
A demonstrator holds a placard reading

“It wasn’t the utopia on any level that I thought it would be,” said Jodi Cummings, who moved to Florida from Connecticut in 2021. “I thought Florida would be an easier lifestyle, I thought the pace would be a little bit quieter, I thought it would be warmer. I didn’t expect it to be literally 100 degrees at night. It was incredibly difficult to make friends, and it was expensive, very expensive.”

Cummings expected she’d have extra money in her paycheck working as a private chef in the Palm Beach area since the state doesn’t have an income tax. But the high costs of car insurance, rent and food cut into that additional take-home pay. After six months of dealing with South Florida’s heat and traffic, she began planning a move back to the Northeast.

“I had been so disenchanted with Florida so quickly,” Cummings said. “There was this feeling of confusion and guilt about wanting to leave, of moving there then realizing this is not anything like I thought it would be.”

A window air conditioning unit during a heat wave in Miami (Eva Marie Uzcategui  / Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A window air conditioning unit during a heat wave in Miami (Eva Marie Uzcategui / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

While costs have been rising across the country, some areas of Florida have been hit particularly hard. In the South Florida region, which includes Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, consumer prices in February were up nearly 5% over the prior year, compared to 3.2% nationally, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Homeowners insurance rates in Florida rose 42% last year to an average of $6,000 annually, driven by hurricanes and climate change, and car insurance in Florida is more than 50% higher than the national average, according to the Insurance Information Institute. While once seen as an affordable housing market, Florida is now among the more expensive states to buy a home in, with prices up 60% since 2020 to an average of $388,500, according to Zillow.

For Carter, who made the move in 2022 from Kansas to a suburb of Orlando for the weather, beaches and to be closer to her grandchildren, the costs began to quickly pile up. She purchased a manufactured home and initially expected the lot rent in her community to be $580 a month. But when she arrived she learned her monthly bill was actually $750, and by the time she left it had jumped to $875 a month. Along with the $9,000 in repairs from the armadillos, her car insurance doubled and Hurricane Ian destroyed her home’s roof on her 62nd birthday.

A aerial view of a man wading through a flooded street. (Bryan R. Smith / AFP via Getty Images)
A aerial view of a man wading through a flooded street. (Bryan R. Smith / AFP via Getty Images)

There were also the ever-present conversations and disagreements over politics that started to wear on her. Carter, who describes herself as a “middle of the road” Republican, said she learned to keep her opinions to herself.

“You cannot engage in a conversation there without politics coming up, it is just crazy. We’re retired, we’re supposed to be in our fun time of life,” she said. “I learned quickly, just keep your mouth shut, because I saw people in my own community break up their friendships over it. I don’t like losing friends, and especially over politics.”

A supporter of President Joe Biden faces supporters of Donald Trump outside of the courthouse in Fort Pierce, Fla., where Trump attended a hearing in his classified records case on March 14. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)
A supporter of President Joe Biden faces supporters of Donald Trump outside of the courthouse in Fort Pierce, Fla., where Trump attended a hearing in his classified records case on March 14. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

But she said the final straw was when she couldn’t find a surgeon to remove a 6-inch tumor from her liver that doctors warned could burst at any moment and lead to life-threatening sepsis. After being passed among doctors, she finally found one willing to remove the tumor. But when she called to schedule the surgery, her calls went unanswered and her messages weren’t returned. After months of trying and fearing for her life, she returned to Kansas to have the procedure done.

“It just seemed like one challenge after another, but I kept with it until there was literally a lifesaving event that I needed to get handled and I wasn’t able to do it there,” she said. “I think it was the most difficult year of my life.”

No state has had more residents relocate to Florida in recent years than New York, with 90,000 New Yorkers moving there in 2022, according to census data. Among all out-of-state mortgage applicants, nearly 9% were from New York in 2023, slightly lower than the previous two years but similar to 2019, according to CoreLogic. One of those New York transplants was Louis Rotkowitz. He lasted less than two years in Florida.

“Like every good New Yorker, this is where you want to go,” he said by phone while driving the last of his belongings out of the state to his new home in Charlotte, North Carolina. “It’s a complete fallacy.”

After years working in emergency medicine, and nearly dying from a Covid-19 infection he contracted at work, Rotkowitz said he and his wife were looking for a more pleasant, affordable lifestyle and warmer weather when they decided to buy a house in the West Palm Beach area in 2022. He got a job there as a primary care physician and his wife took a teaching position.

But he said he quickly found the Florida he’d moved to wasn’t the one he’d experienced on regular visits there over the years. His commute to work often took more than an hour each way, he struggled to get basic services like a dishwasher repair, and the cost of his homeowners association fees doubled.

“I had a good salary, but we were barely making ends meet. We had zero quality of life,” said Rotkowitz.

Along with the rising costs, Rotkowitz said he generally felt unsafe in the state between the erratic traffic — which resulted in a number of his patients being injured by vehicles — and a state law passed in 2023 that allowed people to carry a concealed weapon without a license.

A handgun is inventoried at store that sells guns in Delray Beach (Joe Raedle / Getty Images file)
A handgun is inventoried at store that sells guns in Delray Beach (Joe Raedle / Getty Images file)

“Everyone is walking around with guns there,” he said. “I consider myself a conservative guy, but if you want to carry a gun you should be licensed, there should be some sort of process.”

Veronica Blaski, who moved to Florida from Connecticut, said rising costs drove her out of the state after less than three years. When at the start of the pandemic her husband was offered a job in Florida making more money as a manager for a landscaping company, Blaski envisioned warm weather and a more comfortable lifestyle.

The couple, both in their 40s, sold their home in Connecticut and were starting to settle into their new community when Blaski said they were hit with a “bulldozer” of costs at the start of 2023.

Her homeowners insurance company threatened to drop her coverage if she didn’t replace her home’s 9-year-old roof, a $16,000 to $30,000 project, and even with a new roof, she was expecting her home insurance rates to double — one neighbor saw their insurance go from $600 a month to $1,200 a month.

She was also facing rising property taxes as the value of her home increased, her homeowners association fees went from $326 a month to $480, and her insurance agent warned that her car insurance would likely double when it was time to renew her policy. Her husband had to get a second job on weekends to cover the higher costs.

While Florida has an unemployment rate below the national average, Blaski and others said wages weren’t enough to keep up with their expenses. The median salary in Florida is among the lowest in the country, according to payroll processor ADP. To afford a home in one of Florida’s more affordable metro areas, like Jacksonville, a homebuyer would need to earn $109,000 a year, around twice as much income as a buyer would have needed just four years ago, according to an analysis by Zillow.

“My little part-time job making $600, $700 a month went to paying either car insurance or homeowners insurance, and forget about groceries,” said Blaski, who was working in retail. “There are all these hidden things that people don’t know about. Make sure you have extra money saved somewhere because you will need it.”

A woman looks at bottle of juice. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images file)
A woman looks at bottle of juice. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images file)

When her husband’s former boss in Connecticut reached out to see if he’d be willing to return, the couple leaped at the chance.

The reverse migration out of Florida isn’t just among newcomers, but also among longtime residents who said they can no longer afford to live there and are uncomfortable with the state’s increasingly conservative policies, which in recent years have included a crackdown on undocumented immigrants, a ban on transgender care for minors, state interventions in how race, slavery and sexuality are taught in schools, and a six-week ban on abortions.

After more than three decades in the Tampa Bay area, Donna Smith left the state for Pennsylvania in December, with politics and rising insurance costs playing a major role in her decision to leave.

“It breaks my heart, it really does, because Florida was really a pretty great place when I first moved there,” Smith said.

Having grown up in Oklahoma, Smith considered herself a Republican, but as Florida’s politics shifted to the right, she said she began to consider herself a Democrat. It wasn’t until the past several years, though, that politics started to encroach on her daily life — from feuds between neighbors and friends to neo-Nazis showing up at a Black Lives Matter rally in her small town.

“When I first moved to Florida, it was a live-and-let-live sort of beach feel. You met people from all over, everybody was relaxed. That’s just gone now, and it’s shocking. It’s just gone,” said Smith, 61, who works as a graphic designer and illustrator. “Instead, it’s just a constant stressful atmosphere. I feel as though it could ignite at any point, and I’m not a fearmonger. It’s just the atmosphere, the feeling there.”

She was already considering a move out of the state when she was told by her homeowners insurance company that she would need to replace her home’s roof because it was older than four years or her insurance premium would be going up to $12,000 a year from $3,600, which was already double what she had been paying. Even with a new roof, she was told her premium would be $6,900 a year. Before she could make a decision about what to do, her insurance policy was canceled.

Shortly after, Smith ended up moving to the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, area, where she is closer to her adult children. While the majority of voters in her new county chose Donald Trump in the last election, she said politics is no longer such a heavy presence in her everyday life.

“I don’t feel it is as oppressive. People don’t wear it on their sleeve like they did in Florida,” she said. “When you walk in a room, you don’t overhear a conversation all the time where people are saying ‘Trump is the best’ or ‘I went to that last rally,’ and they’re telling total strangers while you’re just waiting for your car or something. It was just everywhere.”

A supporter of Donald Trump wears a Trump bust jewelry. (Chandan Khanna / AFP - Getty Images)
A supporter of Donald Trump wears a Trump bust jewelry. (Chandan Khanna / AFP – Getty Images)

Costs and politics were also enough to cause Noelle Schmitz to leave the state after more than 30 years, despite her son having a year left in high school, and relocate to Winchester, Virginia. She said the politics became ever-present in her daily life — one former neighbor had a massive Trump banner in front of their house for years, and another had Trump written in big letters across their yard. When she put out a Hillary Clinton sign in 2016, it was stolen and her house was egged.

“I saw my neighbors and co-workers become more radicalized, more aggressive and more angry about politics. I’m thinking, where is this coming from? These are not the people I remember,” Schmitz said. “I was finally like, we need to get the hell out of here, things are not going well.”

For some Florida newcomers though, politics is the main draw to the state, said John Desautels, who has sold real estate in Florida for decades. While politics never used to be a topic for homebuyers, Desautels said it is now a regular subject his clients bring up. Rather than asking about schools or amenities in a community, prospective buyers are asking him about the political affiliations of a certain neighborhood.

“One of the first things they say is, ‘I don’t want to be in one of them X or Y political party neighborhoods,’” Desautels said. “I spend hours listening to people vent to me about fleeing the communist government of XYZ and they want to come to freedom or whatever. So the politics have been the biggest issue when we get the call.”

Even home showings have become a politically sensitive issue. He recalled showing an elderly woman one property where there were Confederate flags at the gate and swastikas on the fish tank.

But while politics are a lure to people arriving in the state, he said they’re also among the reasons sellers tell him they’re leaving, and the state’s politics have deterred some of his gay or nonwhite clients from moving there.

“The problem is, when we alienate protected classes, it sounds like a good sound bite, but you’ve got to remember those are people who spend money in our community,” he said. “For this pro-business, free state, I’m feeling it in the wallet, bad.”

In Kansas, Carter says it’s good to be home. She moved into a 55-plus community in a small town about 10 miles from Wichita. While in Florida she was paying nearly $900 in lot rent for her manufactured home, she now pays just $520 in rent for a cottage-style apartment — a place she estimates would have cost her $1,800 a month in Florida.

With the money she’s saving in Kansas, she can afford to visit Florida.

“People call me the modern-day Dorothy,” she said. “There’s no place like home.”

An aerial view of a vehicle driving along a flooded street. (Miguel J. Rodriguez Carrillo  / AFP via Getty Images)
An aerial view of a vehicle driving along a flooded street. (Miguel J. Rodriguez Carrillo / AFP via Getty Images)

PCOS symptoms are still difficult for doctors to diagnose and treat. Here’s why

NBC News

PCOS symptoms are still difficult for doctors to diagnose and treat. Here’s why

Caroline Hopkins – March 31, 2024

Every morning, Jeni Gutke swallows 12 pills. In the evening, she takes 15 more, then another before bed. She also takes an injectable medication once weekly, and two other medications as needed.

Gutke, of Joliet, Illinois, has polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, and the medications and supplements help the 45-year-old cope with migraines, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, anxiety and depression that come with the complex hormonal condition.

Not one of  Gutke’s medications are technically “PCOS drugs.”

portrait (Courtesy Jeni Gutke)
portrait (Courtesy Jeni Gutke)

The Food and Drug Administration has not approved a medication specifically for PCOS, which is often linked to infertility, irregular or missed periods, weight problems, and other debilitating symptoms. Gutke’s array of medications is typical of how many of the estimated 5 million women in the U.S. diagnosed with PCOS deal with it.

“It’s such a vast syndrome that affects everything from your head to your toes,” she said. She was diagnosed with endometrial cancer — another risk linked to PCOS — at age 37.

After nearly a century of disagreements over what, exactly, defines the condition, as well as a lack of research, PCOS is still poorly understood. The symptoms vary so widely that any single drug would be unlikely to help all patients, said Dr. Heather Huddleston, a reproductive endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco and director of UCSF’s PCOS Clinic.

Women with PCOS and the doctors who care for them say they want better options — treatments for the condition’s root causes rather than bandages for individual symptoms. Even as calls for better treatments grow, the lack of investment in PCOS research has limited doctors’ ability to help their patients.

“It gets very messy to try to identify one treatment that’s going to work for everybody,” Huddleston said.

Many women with the condition end up taking off-label prescriptions — meaning drugs technically approved for other conditions, like diabetes or obesity — to help PCOS-related symptoms. Navigating insurance coverage for off-label prescriptions can be challenging.

“There’s no magic pill,” said Tallene Hacatoryan, 31, a registered dietician from Orange County, California. “There are too many components for there to be a one-size-fits-all treatment.”

portrait weights exercise happy smile (Courtesy Tallene Hacatoryan)
portrait weights exercise happy smile (Courtesy Tallene Hacatoryan)

Hacatoryan was diagnosed with PCOS at age 18 and now works as a diet and lifestyle coach for women with PCOS.

Although research is murky when it comes to the best diet for women with PCOS, the most up-to-date international guidelines recommend exercise and a healthy diet. There’s no evidence that any particular diet improves symptoms, although some women have found lifestyle coaching helpful.

Insufficient funding for research

Among the reported 315 medical conditions that receive federal support from the National Institutes of Health, PCOS ranks near the bottom, with an estimated $10 million earmarked for research in 2024. Until 2022, PCOS was so underfunded that it wasn’t included as a line item in the NIH list.  And the condition is not explicitly included in the $100 million the Department of Health and Human Services announced recently to research neglected areas of women’s health. Neither is PCOS mentioned in President Joe Biden’s recent executive order to advance women’s health, which includes $200 million for NIH research grants, or the White House’s calls for Congress to allocate $12 billion to fund women’s health research.

A spokesperson at the NIH said that it’s too early to know which women’s health conditions will receive funding under the new initiative.

“Given how common PCOS is, the amount of funding it’s gotten is proportionately extremely small,” Huddleston said.

Government funding is just one part of the total research budget for a given disease. While it’s tough to pin down a dollar figure for private industry spending, experts say the lack of FDA-approved PCOS treatments reflects a lack of investment from drugmakers, too.

Developing PCOS treatments requires a better understanding of the condition. This, in turn, requires far more research tracking thousands of women over many years, which can be extremely expensive, experts say.

However, there are some promising signs.

Although research is early and only in a few dozen women, there are a handful of small drug companies studying possible PCOS treatments. A Menlo Park, California-based company called May Health, for instance, is developing a one-time surgical procedure it thinks could help with PCOS. Spruce Bio, a San Francisco biotech firm, is running a small clinical trial with a drug called tildacerfont for PCOS. It is not clear yet if the oral drug works. President and CFO Samir Gharib said larger clinical trials will depend on the company’s ability to “secure additional financing” or partner with another drug company.

The FDA recently attended a meeting with advocacy group PCOS Challenge where women shared their experiences with the agency’s scientists and drug companies. No PCOS drug trials were announced after the meeting, but the FDA’s interest shows a growing push for improved treatment, said William Patterson, a spokesperson for PCOS Challenge.

No known cure for PCOS

Doctors recommend hormonal contraceptives — most commonly the birth control pill — to regulate heavy, irregular periods;, acne;, and unwanted hair growth. Others say taking the pill just masks, rather than treats, their PCOS symptoms and the symptoms return as soon as they stop taking it.

“PCOS is unfortunately not curable, so treatment is about managing its symptoms,” said Dr. Jessica Chan, a reproductive endocrinologist at Cedars-Sinai. Chan said birth control can be a good option for some, but not all, of her PCOS patients.

For women with PCOS whose main concerns are insulin resistance or stubborn weight gain, Chan often prescribes off-label diabetes medications like metformin.

Some doctors who treat PCOS, including OB-GYNs or endocrinologists, have also begun prescribing GLP-1 agonists like Ozempic and Wegovy, which have shown promise for some women with PCOS,  although studies have been small and early -stage.

Novo Nordisk, the company that makes Ozempic and Wegovy, said it has no plans as of now to seek FDA approval for PCOS. Still, the company mentions PCOS on its Truth About Weight website, part of its marketing campaign for Wegovy

Causes and symptoms of PCOS

“We don’t know the initial spark leading to PCOS or where it arises from,” Chan said.

PCOS affects an estimated 6% to 12% of reproductive-age women in the U.S. The real prevalence is likely higher since an estimated 70% of cases go undetected.

Experts generally agree that PCOS, at its core, is a hormone-related condition. Women with PCOS have higher levels of androgen hormones, which can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • Missing, irregular, or heavy periods
  • Acne
  • Excess hair growth on the face or body
  • Thinning or balding scalp hair

According to endocrinologist Dr. Andrea Dunaif, some doctors have been pushing to separate PCOS into two different diagnoses: one having more to do with the reproductive cycle and fertility issues and another having more to do with metabolism, high body weight, and diabetes.

“PCOS looks to be at least two or three different conditions we’re lumping together, but they’re genetically distinct,” said Dunaif, the chief of the endocrinology, diabetes and bone disease division of Mount Sinai Health System and the Icahn School of Medicine.

The confusion surrounding PCOS diagnosis is partly why it’s been hard to get large pharmaceutical companies to invest in PCOS treatment, she said.

In Dunaif’s view, it’s not accurate to call the condition “PCOS” at all, because it has more to do with excess hormones than it does with actual cysts on the ovaries. PCOS got its name from the bumps on the ovaries appearing like cysts on an ultrasound image. These are not cysts, but instead egg follicles that are, as Dunaif described them, “arrested in development.”

As it is, many doctors diagnose the condition based on two of three factors:

  • Irregular periods
  • High androgen levels
  • Multiple follicles on the patient’s ovaries

But these three factors don’t account for some of the most challenging symptoms of PCOS: insulin resistance and stubborn weight gain. Excess androgen hormones can spike insulin levels, which interferes with how the body processes sugar. Doctors aren’t sure whether the hormonal dysregulation causes insulin resistance, or whether insulin resistance causes excess androgen hormones.

Either way, women with PCOS have a higher risk of diabetes, excess weight gain, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Yet these metabolic conditions aren’t included in the criteria many doctors use to diagnose PCOS. The result? A missed diagnosis.

This was initially the case for Candice Bolden, 35, who started noticing acne and excess facial and body hair several years before she was diagnosed with PCOS in 2021. Bolden, a lifelong dancer, also had unusually low energy.

portrait (Courtesy Candice Bolden)
portrait (Courtesy Candice Bolden)

“The final straw was excess weight gain that I could not take off no matter what I did,” said Bolden, who lives in Los Angeles. “All the other things I had kind of just stuffed under the rug. I’d just chalked it up to being a hairy, Haitian woman.”

After gaining 35 pounds, the 5-foot-2-inch Bolden, who exercised twice a day and followed strict diets, saw multiple doctors who she said ignored her symptoms.

“Doctors kept telling me I was fine, and to go home, work out, and eat clean,” she said. “It was the most frustrating thing ever.”

‘We don’t have to live underneath this dark cloud’

Women living with PCOS say the rise of online communities, including on social media apps like TikTok and Instagram, has given them a place to speak out, share the treatment approaches working for them, and meet other women with PCOS.

When Bolden finally got a diagnosis, she wasn’t sure what to do next. Gutke and Hacatoryan had similar experiences.

“I was like, ‘Wait, I have so many questions,’ and the doctor just told me, ‘It is what it is,’” Hacatoryan said.

Hacatoryan calls women in her online community her “cysters.”

Bolden said she’s noticed more women turning to social media to learn how others manage their PCOS and share their own stories.

On her own social media accounts, she’s been trying to change the narrative about PCOS being primarily a fertility problem, which she sees as an outdated perception.

“When I was diagnosed, my doctor mentioned PCOS being the No. 1 reason for infertility, and that shattered me,” said Bolden, who was newly engaged at the time and eager to start a family. “I was happy I was diagnosed, because it showed me something was actually happening and I wasn’t just crazy. But I was heartbroken.”

Things changed after Bolden moved; found a new doctor; and worked closely with her husband and the  online PCOS community to find a system that worked to manage her PCOS symptoms.

Bolden is now pregnant and expecting a baby girl.

“I want people diagnosed with PCOS to know there’s hope, and we don’t have to live underneath this dark cloud all the time,” she said.

‘After Years Of Failed Fad Diets And Workouts, I Started Lifting Heavy Weights At 43′

Women’s Health

‘After Years Of Failed Fad Diets And Workouts, I Started Lifting Heavy Weights At 43′

Jenna Seguin, as told to Andi Breitowich – March 30, 2024

jenna seguin strength transformation
‘I Tried Every Diet, But This Changed Everything’Courtesy of Jenna Seguin

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I’ve always tried to eat well and exercise, but I lacked consistency. Whether it was the Whole30 diet75 Hard challenge, or a month-long bootcamp, everything always had a clear start and end date. I was quick to move on and, consequently, never saw lasting results.

In April 2021, I finally had enough. I realized doing the same thing over and over without results is scarier than trying something new, so I set up a meeting with a personal trainer at my local gym. I experimented with lifting weights in my early 20s here and there, but I was never consistent and didn’t follow a program. But I’m a lifelong learner who enjoys getting out of my comfort zone. My goals were simple, yet ambitious: I wanted to master the big lifts—bench press, squat, and deadlift—and I wanted to understand how to increase weight progressively to reach my full potential.

My first session was tough. Everything was hard, my form was all over the place, and the moves felt awkward. I was also nervous that people thought I didn’t belong in the gym. But instead of saying, “This is hard I can’t do it,” I said, “How can I improve?” Approaching this new challenge with curiosity, rather than fear, empowered me. I was determined to get stronger, and I was ready to put in the work.

I committed to training four times a week: two days with my trainer and two days on my own. I wanted to stay consistent, improve my form, and build muscle. I was excited for the challenge and motivated to get better.

After consistently working with my trainer for a year, I was craving more.

On Instagram, I came across a video of Michelle MacDonald bench pressing and was in awe of her form and heavy weight. I wanted to level up, so I applied to Michelle’s personal training community, The Wonder Women.

In August 2022, I started virtual training with The Wonder Women five days a week: three lower body days and two upper body days. I prioritized form and focused on progressive overload, but I also got curious about bodybuilding.

I decided to start training for my first bodybuilding competition in June 2023, but 12 weeks into prep, my competition was canceled. The Wonder Women didn’t have spots available to transfer into the current bodybuilding training group, so I switched teams and joined Dynasty Training.

Now, I train four days a week—two for lower body and two for upper body.

I’m preparing for my first show at the end of 2024, so I recently started my “build phase,” which consists of four days of weight training: two lower body days and two upper body days. My goal is to build muscle, but instead of only focusing on how much weight I can lift, I also prioritize tempo and increasing my reps and sets.

For lower-body workouts: I do a glutes and quads day and a posterior chain day. My workouts are typically an hour and a half, and I do seven to 10 moves per session. The number of reps and sets varies, but most of my current lower-body lifts are based on a ladder model: 12 reps, 10 reps, eight reps, and six reps of each move, increasing weight as the number of reps decreases.

For upper-body workouts: I do a shoulders and back day and a chest and arms day. These workouts are typically an hour, and I do seven to 10 moves per session, including bench press, pullups, man makers, lat pulldowns, and pushups.

I also do 35 minutes of cardio six days a week and have one day designated to core and high intensity intervals, and one day of stretching. Sunday is my day off.

Lower body is my favorite to train and I especially love deadliftsBulgarian split squats, and hip thrusts. Now, I can deadlift 195 pounds and thrust 300 pounds. I’m currently working on adding a pause at the top of each hip thrust and let me tell you… it adds a whole other level of intensity.

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I learned to count macros and let go of the belief that I needed to restrict food.

I’ve tried every diet in the book, but nothing was ever sustainable or satisfying. Then, I learned to count macros and realized I could still eat my favorite foods when I paid attention to portion size and nutrition labels.

I eat four to five meals a day and focus on my protein, carb, and fat intake. I always prioritize protein, and chicken, turkey, and fish are my go-to sources. It’s also fun to try new macro-friendly recipes, and meal prepping on Sunday sets me up for success during the week.

That said, it took me a long time to get over the idea of restriction. I was so used to eliminating foods and eating as little as possible, but once I learned nothing is off limits and macros are about balance and variety, I felt better than ever. Instead of a month-long, restrictive, fad diet, I realized the most sustainable plan is listening to my body and eating the foods I love.

These three things were key to my strength transformation success.

1. I let go of the notion that my strength journey needs to be perfect.

When I started strength training in 2021, it wasn’t necessarily the “perfect time” to embark on a new journey. But I decided to stop waiting and took control of my situation. Is every workout perfect? Nope! But that’s okay. I realized if I keep trying and continue to show up it’s going to pay off in the long run.

2. I became more self-aware and understood the value of the mind-body connection.

It’s so easy to operate on autopilot, but I’ve learned to evaluate my *entire* lifestyle when something feels off. If my energy levels are low, I look at my diet and sleeping habits. When I’m stressed, I reflect on why instead of letting anxiety rule my day.

As a result, I’ve learned the importance of the mind-body connection. How I’m feeling physically and mentally can have a direct impact on each other and the overall sense of self-awareness has gotten me closer to my goals.

3. I gave myself the opportunity to be good at something and realized consistency is key.

Most of my life, I participated in diets and fitness programs that had a clear start and end date. Once I understood that people become good at things by being consistent, a light bulb went off. I realized I had never given myself a chance (or the time) to get good. I always expected quick results and a long-term program seemed daunting, but when I challenged myself to start weight lifting without an end date in mind, my whole mindset changed.

Not only do I love that consistency brings me closer to my goals, but I found value and motivation in the process. Whether it’s perfecting my form or mastering a recipe, the sense of accomplishment after nailing a new skill keeps me determined to get better and stronger. It’s fun to show up for yourself and consistency in the gym has given me the opportunity to believe in myself.

Do turmeric supplements really treat pain, boost mood, and improve allergies? Experts say they work best for 2 conditions


Do turmeric supplements really treat pain, boost mood, and improve allergies? Experts say they work best for 2 conditions

Stephanie Watson – March 30, 2024

Getty Images

Americans spend around $50 billion a year on vitamins and supplements. One of the most popular is turmeric, a bright orange root that has its roots in both traditional Eastern medicine and cuisine. Proponents are willing to pay $20 or more for a bottle, hoping to relieve arthritis pain and inflammationlower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and treat whatever else happens to ail them. But is it worth the money?

While a lot of research has highlighted turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the wide range of supplement potencies and doses used in studies has made it hard to confirm any health claims.

Dr. Keith Singletary, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, has reviewed the evidence on turmeric. His take? “I think it’s promising,” he says, but he stresses that it isn’t “the cure-all that marketing would make it appear.”

Health benefits of turmeric

The health properties attributed to turmeric come from natural compounds called curcuminoids. “Curcumin, which is the major one, is believed to be largely responsible for the health benefits of turmeric,” says Singletary.

What might curcumin do? The best evidence centers on two conditions: arthritis and metabolic syndrome.


Considering turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties, it’s not surprising that researchers have investigated its use for arthritis. The supplement does appear to reduce pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis, the most common form of this achy joint disease.

“It’s not a miracle drug, but it probably works as well as ibuprofen or acetaminophen,” says Dr. Janet L. Funk, professor of medicine and vice chair of research for the Department of Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson. Her lab studies plant-derived dietary supplements for inflammatory diseases.

Metabolic syndrome

This isn’t a disease, but rather a cluster of conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high triglycerides that collectively increase the risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. About 1 in 3 American adults have metabolic syndrome, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Studies have looked at the effects of turmeric on blood sugar, triglycerides, and insulin levels, as well as on inflammation (which also plays a role in metabolic syndrome). “In general, there was a strong preponderance of evidence that it might help reduce all those things. So it might have some benefit in people who are overweight and concerned about inflammation and diabetes,” Funk says.

But—there’s a very big caveat. “There’s a lot of inconsistency between studies,” Singletary says. And therein lies the problem in evaluating turmeric.

An imperfect science

Though plenty of research is being done on turmeric, the studies aren’t consistent. Researchers have tested different amounts of the supplement in different groups of people for different amounts of time. Some studies added a compound like piperine, found in black pepper, to make turmeric more active in the body (researchers call this increased “bioavailability”).

For example, one study on knee osteoarthritis had participants take 180 milligrams (mg) of curcumin for eight weeks. Another one used doses of 500 mg plus 5 mg of BioPerine (black pepper) extract three times a day for six weeks.

Because most of the studies have lasted four months or less, researchers don’t know what might happen with long-term use. “The bottom line is, there’s no definitive, well-designed studies at this point,” Funk says. She’s skeptical that there ever will be, given that the nutraceutical industry and the National Institutes of Health aren’t funding them.

The risks of turmeric

Turmeric is probably safe if you get it from the spice or you take only the recommended amount in supplements, says the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. In larger quantities, it could cause GI side effects like nausea or diarrhea.

Piperine poses its own set of issues, because it increases the bioavailability of curcumin by inactivating an enzyme in the liver that would otherwise break it down. “That enzyme is really important for [breaking down] most drugs people take,” says Funk. Theoretically, piperine might cause a buildup of medications in the body, thus increasing the risk for side effects. “Generally speaking, if you’re taking other medications, I would shy away from any product that has piperine in it, just in case it could interfere with the metabolism of your other drugs,” she adds.

An even bigger concern is a rare but serious risk of liver damage from turmeric supplements, as well as high levels of lead in these products. Several studies, including one that Funk co-authored, found excessive amounts of lead in some turmeric supplements—especially those that contained turmeric root. Exposure to lead in large quantities can have toxic effects on the body, including heart and kidney problems.

Should you take turmeric?

Is it worth taking turmeric? “That’s the million- dollar question,” says Singletary. Given the lack of clear evidence on its benefits and the potential risks, he says you’re safest getting turmeric through your diet. You can add the spice to soups, stews, sauces, and smoothies. Top them with a pinch of black pepper or cook turmeric in oil to enhance its bioavailability.

If you do use turmeric supplements, it can be difficult to know which form is best, or how much to take. The best advice is to ask your health care provider, says Singletary. Start out with a low dose to see how your body responds to it. And don’t expect turmeric to be a “cure-all for all your ailments, which is unlikely to be the case,” he adds.

Read more on supplements:

What is “pink cocaine” or “tuci,” the drug Diddy allegedly had smuggled on a jet?


What is “pink cocaine” or “tuci,” the drug Diddy allegedly had smuggled on a jet?

Manisha Krishnan – March 30, 2024

Sean Diddy Combs Paras Griffin/Getty Images
Sean Diddy Combs Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Among the many drugs Sean “Diddy” Combs allegedly consumed — and had his staff procure for him — was tuci, an obscure street drug concoction nicknamed “pink cocaine,” according to a lawsuit filed by his former producer Rodney Jones.

Jones, who alleged Combs sexually assaulted him while he was producing Comb’s “The Love Album,” filed the $30 million lawsuit in Federal District Court in Manhattan in February, amending it with additional allegations earlier this week.

Jones saId Combs’ chief of staff Kristina Khorram “required all employees, from the butler to the chef to the housekeepers, to walk around with a black Prada pouch or fanny pack filled with cocaine, GHB [a depressant drug], ecstasy [sometimes sold as MDMA], marijuana gummies (100 – 250 mg’s each), and tuci (a pink drug that is a combination of ecstasy and cocaine).”

“Khorram wanted Mr. Combs’ drug of choice immediately ready when he asked for it,” the lawsuit alleges.

Last April, Combs and Jones were rehearsing for the Something in the Water music festival in Virginia, when Jones alleged Combs did some cocaine in his dressing room and wanted tuci. However, Brendan Paul, Combs’ alleged drug mule who is facing felony drug possession charges, forgot to bring tuci, so Khorram had rapper Yung Miami fly the drug from Miami on Combs’ jet, according to the lawsuit.

Through his lawyer Shawn Holley, Combs denied the claims outlined in the initial lawsuit, describing them as “pure fiction.”

Tussi; Pink Cocaine
Tussi; Pink Cocaine

But what is tuci in the first place – and why is it popping off as a party drug in some circles?

The little-known drug has cropped up in the Latin American street drug supply over the last few years, typically sold as a neon pink powder, according to a 2022 report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. While the name, also spelled tusi and tucci may be a shortened version of 2C-B — a stimulant and psychedelic first synthesized in the 1970s — tested samples of tuci typically don’t contain 2C-B, but rather a mix of ketamine, MDMA and caffeine. Despite being nicknamed “pink cocaine,” it rarely contains cocaine, though it is typically snorted.

While it’s hard to quantify how much tuci is entering the North American drug supply, it has been detected in Vancouver, New York, Miami and in several European countries. Services in Europe and Canada that test street drugs have issued alerts about tuci, warning people that it’s very difficult to predict its true contents.

“It can contain any drug. Every batch is different,” said U.K-based drug checking service the Loop, in a tuci warning to drug users in August 2022. “Be extra cautious if mixing drugs because you might not know how you will react to that mixture.”

In a text blast viewed by Salon, a New York-based dealer recently advised customers he was selling “something new” called “ducey,” which he described as “pink euphoric snow.” (Snow is a nickname for cocaine.)

Get Your Drugs Tested, a Vancouver-based harm reduction service, said a sample of tuci they tested last weekend came back positive for MDMA, ketamine and multiple benzodiazepines (sedative drugs like Xanax.)

A Toronto-based journalist, who requested anonymity, told Salon she frequently encountered people using tuci while backpacking in Medellin, Colombia in December.

“It was like a combination of stuff that dealers had leftover that wasn’t enough to make up a gram but they would combine it and dye it pink and make it marketable and then sell it,” she said.

At a party one night in late December, she said several people were on tuci and seemed “really happy.”

“It looked like an intense MDMA high, they were super sweaty, dancing,” she said.

However, one man in the group had a bad reaction to the drug, and was unable to stand or sit up straight for hours.

“His eyes were rolling to the back of his head,” she said. “He kept trying to throw up but he couldn’t throw up, couldn’t really get words out … That’s what kind of scared me.”

A 2023 VICE documentary on tuci in Medellin found sales of the drug was so lucrative there, it has spawned a new wave of traffickers dubbed neo-narcos, selling grams for $10 to $16 each. Matt Shea, the host of the documentary, uncovered how dyeing this random mixture of drugs pink is little more than marketing strategy concocted by cartels and described the substance as a “frankenstein drug.”

Jones’ lawsuit didn’t detail how often Combs consumed tuci, but said Khorram ordered her assistants to keep Combs “high” off gummies and pills. Jones also accused Combs and his associates, described by the lawsuit as “the Combs Rico Enterprise,” of procuring, transporting and distributing ecstasy, cocaine, GHB, ketamine, marijuana, mushrooms and tuci in and around the U.S.

While Paul has been arrested, and federal agents have raided two of Combs’ homes, Combs has not yet been charged with any crimes.

Nicole Wallace Gets Fed Up, Tosses Script While Covering Latest Trump Attack: ‘What Are We Going to Do Different?’ | Video

The Wrap

Nicole Wallace Gets Fed Up, Tosses Script While Covering Latest Trump Attack: ‘What Are We Going to Do Different?’ | Video

Stephanie Kaloi – March 30, 2024

MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace quite literally threw out her prepared script on Friday on-air while covering breaking news about a new public attack from former president Donald Trump. The visibly angry anchor told a panel of guests that “it’s time to do something different” when speaking about Trump’s outrageous and sometimes dangerous actions on and offline.

Wallace picked up her news script and tossed it to her right as she explained, “I have come on the air with breaking news about requests for gag orders because of threats for judges and their kids more times than I can count today before I got ready.”

After she apologized to the person who “has to write the banner at the bottom of my show,” Wallace added, “Donald Trump broke the rule of law. We should cover a broken judiciary in this country. Donald Trump managed to delay every federal, criminal trial based on facts that he barely denies.”

“Donald Trump managed to enlist the Supreme Court in a delayed process — the highest court in the land. Donald Trump brazenly and repeatedly attacks not just judges … judges don’t have Secret Service protecting them.”

Wallace spoke in response to a Truth Social post that Trump published on Thursday about the daughter of Judge Juan Merchan, who had previously placed Trump on a gag order before his April 15 court date in his hush money trial.

Trump wrote, “Judge Juan Merchan is totally compromised, and should be removed from this TRUMP Non-Case immediately. His Daughter, Loren, is a Rabid Trump Hater, who has admitted to having conversations with her father about me, and yet he gagged me.”

“She works for Crooked Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff, and other Radical Leftists who Campaign on ‘Getting Trump,’ and fundraise off the ‘Biden Indictments’ – including this Witch Hunt, which her father ‘presides’over, a TOTAL Conflict – and attacking Biden’s Political Opponent through the Courts. Former D.A. Cy Vance refused to bring this case, as did all Federal Agencies, including ‘Elections.’

The claim about Merchan’s daughter has not been prove true.

Trump’s repeated use of social media to fire unsubstantiated and unwarranted accusations at his political opponents (perceived and real) is unprecedented in American politics, and has posed a real danger to his targets.

The gag order in Trump’s hush money case is meant to prohibit both Trump and surrogates from making public statements about jurors and witnesses in the trial. He is also banned from making statements about the court’s staff, prosecutors, and family members. The gag order does not prohibit Trump from commenting on Judge Merchan or his family members.

The hush money case is the first of Trump’s four federal cases that will go to trial. He is accused of logging payments to his former lawyer Michael Cohen as legal fees when they were actually for his work during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Those payments included $130,000 to adult entertainment star Stormy Daniels to ensure she would not speak about a sexual encounter she had with Trump.

Trump has pled not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records and has denied Daniels’ claims.

Watch the segment with Wallace in the video above.

OK, I’ll be the No Labels presidential candidate. My platform is: ‘Vote for Joe Biden.’

USA Today – Opinion

OK, I’ll be the No Labels presidential candidate. My platform is: ‘Vote for Joe Biden.’

Rex Huppke, USA TODAY – March 29, 2024

Now that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has turned down the chance to be the No Labels presidential candidate, I am issuing the following statement: “OK, fine. I, Rex Huppke, will be the No Labels presidential candidate. Happy now?”

At this point, I kind of feel bad for No Labels. They’re like the kid at recess who nobody picks for a kickball team.

The allegedly centrist third-party group holds the increasingly inaccurate belief that Americans don’t want to choose between Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican former president and current criminal defendant Donald Trump. Since both candidates have resoundingly locked up presidential nominations, there’s little wind in the sails of the “nobody wants them” argument, but No Labels has persisted.

Even Chris Christie wants nothing to do with No Labels
President Donald Trump shakes hands with New Jersey governor Chris Christie after he delivered remarks on combatting drug demand and the opioid crisis on October 26, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump shakes hands with New Jersey governor Chris Christie after he delivered remarks on combatting drug demand and the opioid crisis on October 26, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C.

The party has reportedly amassed big bucks from dark-money donors, but it is missing the one thing most necessary for a presidential run: a human person willing to say, “I am the No Labels presidential candidate!” out loud without feeling profoundly embarrassed and ashamed.

This week, Christie became the latest big-name politician to pass on the opportunity.

The former GOP presidential candidate told The Washington Post in a statement: “While I believe this is a conversation that needs to be had with the American people, I also believe that if there is not a pathway to win and if my candidacy in any way, shape or form would help Donald Trump become president again, then it is not the way forward.”

How serious is No Labels? Is No Labels an elaborate grift with no candidate? Their secrecy is telling.

That puts him very much at odds with No Labels, whose organizers surely recognize their candidate’s presence on the ballot might help Trump by pulling votes away from Biden.

I know the group doesn’t like labels, but it is clearly a threat to the incumbent and an asset to the guy who tried to overturn the last election.

My name is Rex Huppke, and I am the No Labels presidential candidate

Others who have said “Yeah, no” to No Labels included: former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican; Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat; and former Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican.

(FILES) Former President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd after speaking at a campaign event in Rome, Georgia, on March 9, 2024.
(FILES) Former President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd after speaking at a campaign event in Rome, Georgia, on March 9, 2024.

Since No Labels officials seem both unwilling to go away and unable to find anyone willing to play in their sandbox, I’ll take one for the team and be the group’s presidential candidate.

My platform will be: “For the love of God, please vote for Joe Biden. The other guy is, at best, dictator-curious, and he’s now selling $60 Bibles like some traveling huckster in a bad community theater musical.”

Getting to know the self-declared No Labels presidential candidate

Here is a candidate questionnaire so you can get to know me – Rex Huppke, the 2024 No Labels presidential candidate – a bit better.

Q: Why did you decide to join the No Labels ticket?

A: Well, for starters, I admire the party’s strong opposition to labels. I dislike labels, particularly the ones they put on apples at the grocery store. Those are hard to get off and sometimes I accidentally eat them.

Q: What should voters know about your key policy positions?

A: I don’t have any of those. I’m lucky if I can decide what I want for lunch, so asking me to decide how best to run the economy or deal with Russia is a fool’s errand. Absolutely nobody should vote for me. Ever. They should vote for President Joe Biden, who is by far the least likely of the two major party candidates to lock up journalists, forcibly silence dissenters and sell an entire U.S. state to a foreign power to help pay off his legal debts.

Who is Nicole Shanahan? RFK Jr.’s VP pick shows his presidential bid for what it is

Q: How would you describe a No Labels voter?

A: I guess I’d go with “incredibly selfish” and then perhaps “unconcerned about democracy” and “righteous to the point of arrogance and dismissive of all vulnerable groups that would be profoundly harmed by a second Trump presidency.”

Q: That sounds a little harsh.

A: Yeah, I guess I’m kind of labeling people a bit. The truth hurts sometimes. But when you think about it, even “No Labels” is a label, right? Like if someone called themselves a “centrist,” that’s a label. The only true “no label” would be … you know … not saying anything. Just kind of shutting up.

Q: Did you get high before this interview?

A: Yes. Yes I did. Nobody should vote for me. I am deeply unqualified. Please vote for Joe Biden.

USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke has bravely stepped up and offered to be the No Labels presidential candidate. His platform is simple: "Please vote for Joe Biden."
USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke has bravely stepped up and offered to be the No Labels presidential candidate. His platform is simple: “Please vote for Joe Biden.”

Q: Will you be picking a running mate?

A: Hah! No. If I’m the best No Labels could find for a presidential candidate, do you honestly think there’s a person alive who would stoop to being my vice president? No, the ticket is just me. And our slogan will be: “Huppke/Nobody 2024! A vote for us is dumb!”

The Unhinged Arguments the Supreme Court Is Fielding on Trump Immunity

Daily Beast

The Unhinged Arguments the Supreme Court Is Fielding on Trump Immunity

Jose Pagliery – March 30, 2024

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

Retired American generals vehemently say that no, Donald Trump cannot deploy SEAL Team 6 to kill a political rival. Gun groups howl that the United States is turning into Communist China. And a convicted Jan. 6 rioter warns that President Joe Biden could someday get sued over the death of a jogger in Georgia.

These are among the 18 various groups that shared their wisdom with the Supreme Court earlier this month, filing amicus briefs on the same day that Trump told the high court why he should be able to dodge a federal prosecution for trying to overturn the 2020 election on false pretenses.

Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith’s election interference case against Trump has finally reached the nation’s highest judicial authority, which will determine whether the business tycoon can be put on trial. The timing of the nine justices’ eventual decision will determine if the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee is to face trial in court before Election Day in November.

Trump Demands Supreme Court Gift Him ‘Absolute Immunity’

But ahead of oral arguments next month, the Supreme Court is already getting inundated with all kinds of opinions about the main question in the case: whether a former president enjoys immunity for actions made while at the White House.

The Daily Beast reviewed the litany of uninvited legal arguments spanning 599 pages, ranging from breathless reiterations of Trump’s claims to head-turning warnings. Yet all bear the signs of a historic case that could determine the fate of the election, if not American democracy.

The most unusual and unexpected amicus brief comes from three former high-ranking military leaders: Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who served as Trump’s own acting national security adviser; Robert Wilkie, who served as Trump’s Veterans Affairs Department secretary; and retired Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, who once led the Army’s elite commandos in Delta Force and Green Berets.

The three former military men felt it necessary to join together and address—in public and at the national level—one of the crazier Trump legal arguments: that Trump’s immunity from criminal prosecution is so beyond question that it would allow him to order the assassination of his political enemies.

“No—the president cannot order SEAL Team Six to assassinate his political rival and have the military carry out such an order,” they clarified, marking the first time former military leadership has ever had to utter such a phrase in court.

The trio went further, pointing out that a Reagan-era executive order already prohibits anyone acting on behalf of the United States government from taking part in an assassination. They dedicated a significant portion of their 18-page court filing to making clear that military officers would be legally justified in refusing to even carry out an official order from their commander-in-chief, an assertion rarely made by military brass—and one that underlies just how stark their concerns are at this point.

“That a person is a political rival of the president is neither a justification nor an excuse for an unlawful killing. And deliberately carrying out an order to murder such a person would be acting upon a premeditated design to kill or an intent to kill. Therefore, any officer engaged in murder on the orders of a president would be subject to the death penalty or life in prison—and the officer would know it,” they wrote.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of the other amici curiae—the so-called “friends of the court” who weighed in to give the Supreme Court their two cents—largely sided with Trump.

Trump Seeks Hush-Money Trial Delay While Supreme Court Weighs Immunity Claim

The right-wing nonprofit America’s Future—which screened a bonkers QAnon Hollywood conspiracy “documentary” at Mar-a-Lago earlier this week—joined forces with Gun Owners of America and similar firearms associations to warn the high court that Smith’s prosecution was making the United States look more like China, Russia, or Zimbabwe.

“The prosecution of President Trump by the Biden Administration has a parallel to a recent event in Communist China,” they wrote, recalling the way former Chinese President Hu Jintao has vanished from public view ever since he was mysteriously escorted out of a public ceremony where he had been sitting next to his successor, Xi Jinping.

The United States is heading down that same route, they warned, lamenting “the explosion of lawfare” aimed at Trump for doing what they deemed totally sensible political speech—an argument that rests, in part, on the gun-toting petitioners’ continued rejection of the 2020 election results. They referenced Trump’s “supposed” defeat in Arizona and Georgia.

The real danger here, though, is that while Trump is currently polling strong, the gun groups concede that “the effect of a conviction may be very different and could determine the outcome of the election.”

But it wasn’t the conglomeration of Second Amendment enthusiasts that made a veiled threat over the high court decision. That came from an Alabama electrical engineer who’s become a political financier.

In his court filing, Shaun McCutcheon describes himself as “a successful, self-made American businessman and constitutional patriot.” And he warned Supreme Court justices that the country’s MAGA loyalists aren’t going to suddenly start trusting the U.S. court system to select fair-minded jurors.

“The former President’s tens of millions of supporters cannot reasonably be expected to accept the typical legal fictions of voir dire under such extreme circumstances,” his lawyer wrote.

McCutcheon assigns malicious intent to the Special Counsel’s decision to indict Trump in the largely liberal District of Columbia—never mind that the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment ensures that a person will be subjected to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury drawn from the district where his alleged crime was committed, which in this case was the White House.

“A prosecutor appointed by a partisan presidential appointee of the opposing political party may prosecute a former president in a hand-picked venue deeply hostile to that former president, his beliefs, political expression, and legacy,” his lawyer wrote.

While the Supreme Court received various interpretations of presidential immunity that cast the Special Counsel’s investigations as a severe threat to the functions of the commander-in-chief’s job, the sharpest example came from someone who knows a thing or two about Trump’s insurrection.

Trump Vows to Free Jan. 6 ‘Hostages’ as One of His ‘First Acts’ as President

In his brief, Treniss Evans argued that if Trump can be put on trial for allegedly masterminding a months-long and multi-pronged attack on U.S. democracy, then President Biden could be held personally responsible for the death in February of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley, given that an allegedly undocumented Venezuelan man was arrested for her killing.

“If a President doesn’t have immunity from prosecution for his actions, what prevents Georgia murder victim Laken Riley’s family from suing Joe Biden for allowing her illegal migrant murderer into the USA? Or what if hundreds of families all sued, seriatim?” his lawyer wrote, using the Latin phrase that means “one-by-one.”

Evans made the filing through his “legal advocacy group,” which bears the emotionally charged name Condemned USA. He trivialized Trump’s 2020 election fraud claims, but then went on to assert that Trump and his followers can’t possibly be accused of trying to stop certification of the election with a violent riot because technically Jan. 6, 2021, was just the official counting of the already certified votes before Congress.

The Supreme Court justices will get the sense that this topic is deeply personal for Evans. After all, his brief says right up top that “Mr. Evans has been investigating and reporting events of January 6th since January 6th, 2021. He was present at the Capitol on that day.”

In reality, he was in the violent crowd, held a bullhorn, and entered the Capitol—only to be identified by a Facebook tipster, arrested in Texas two months after the insurrection, and eventually sentenced to three years’ probation. To convince the federal judge to go easy on him, his other lawyer wrote that “Mr. Evans is quite self-reproving, sincerely remorseful, and duly contrite. He is embarrassed of this criminal conduct and the shame he has brought upon himself and his family. He has entered his plea of guilty voluntarily.”

But his March 19 brief before the Supreme Court doesn’t exactly hint at that remorse, nor does it morph into any critique of the man who called on him and others to show up that day and march on the Capitol Building.

Yet another legal advocacy firm asked the Supreme Court to give even more deference to Trump for the actions that led up to the disaster at the tail end of his presidency. The Christian Family Coalition Florida, a conservative Miami group that recently lent its support to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ crackdown on transgender kids in girls’ sports teams, reduced Trump’s election interference efforts to merely “core political speech.” And it would give future politicians carte blanche to lie—and follow through with those lies—regardless of their claim’s merit.

“For the sake of the presidency and the nation, criminal liability cannot turn on a mere factual dispute over whether an ex-president’s communications in challenging an election were ‘knowingly false,’” a lawyer for the group wrote.

In this Trump case, justices also heard from a favorite villain of the American progressive movement: Citizens United, the nonprofit behind the Supreme Court’s 2010 landmark decision that opened the door to having corporations spend unlimited funds on elections.

The group joined with two former U.S. Attorneys General: the Reagan administration’s Edwin Meese III, and the George W. Bush administration’s Michael B. Mukasey. Together, they tried to strip the current team of federal prosecutors going after Trump from any legitimacy.

Trump Briefly Named Election Denier to Acting AG, Lawyer Claims

They argued that Smith “wields tremendous power, effectively answerable to no one, by design.” And they contend that’s something he can’t do without the Senate’s confirmation. Instead, they say, AG Merrick Garland should have taken the same approach he did with the separate Hunter Biden investigation and tap an existing, Senate-confirmed federal prosecutor in charge of a regional office, like Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss.

The two conservative former AGs and the nonprofit also claim that most cabinet officials have the authority to appoint officers—minus the Justice Department, a proposition that would give the heads of Agriculture, Education and Homeland Security departments more leeway than the nation’s attorney general. And they warn that Garland’s actions could “create by regulation an entire shadow Department of Justice.”

But leave it to a consortium of 18 state attorneys general—all pro-Trump Republicans led by Alabama AG Steve Marshall—to make the one point everyone can probably agree on.

“If he had not been president, none of this would be happening,” they wrote.

Donald Trump faces backlash after sharing video featuring a hogtied Joe Biden

USA Today

Donald Trump faces backlash after sharing video featuring a hogtied Joe Biden

Phillip M. Bailey, USA TODAY – March 30, 2024

Former President Donald Trump is facing intense criticism for what Democrats say is a new low this weekend after sharing a video on his social media website that has an image of President Joe Biden hogtied.

In a 20-second video posted on the presumptive Republican nominee’s Truth Social page, a pickup truck featuring pro-Trump flags can be seen with a large decal on its rear end showing Biden bound by his legs and hands, lying horizontally.

Trump indicated the clip was filmed in Long Island on Thursday while he was there attending the wake of Officer Jonathan Diller, a New York City police officer gunned down in the line of duty.

Donald Trump (L) and Joe Biden (R) during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski and JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKIJIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Donald Trump (L) and Joe Biden (R) during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski and JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKIJIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Promoting the video ignited a new round of condemnation from Trump’s critics, who pointed to how the GOP contender has repeatedly used grisly images in the past and who asserted it crosses a serious line in U.S. politics.

“A realistic picture of President Biden tied up helpless in the back of a van with Trump’s gloating mug in front of the scene. He’s threatening the president’s life,” Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law professor emeritus said in a March 29 post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“That’s a felony. If anyone else did it, the feds would arrest him. What now?”

Asked about sharing the clip, Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung pivoted to several comments by Democrats in years past that he alluded to as going too far.

Among the examples Cheung spotlighted was a 2018 comment made by Biden referring to Trump’s infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, which surfaced during the 2016 campaign.

“If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him,” Biden said at the time.

“Democrats and crazed lunatics have not only called for despicable violence against President Trump and his family, they are actually weaponizing the justice system against him,” Cheung said.

The Biden campaign did immediately responded to a request for comment.