October 30, 2019

Johnson & Johnson maintained as late as Tuesday that a government test that had turned up asbestos in its Baby Powder was invalid, as other labs the company had hired found no traces of the carcinogen in the same bottle and subsequently recalled batch the Food and Drug Administration had tested. Unfortunately for Johnson & Johnson, Reuters reported Wednesday, in challenging the FDA, "the health-care giant is casting doubt on one of its own experts," Andreas Saldivar.

Saldivar, a key paid expert witness for Johnson & Johnson in its asbestos litigation since 2017, is laboratory director at the private Maryland lab AMA Analytical Services Inc. He testified in a May 2018 deposition that testing he did for the FDA in 2010 showed no signs of asbestos in Johnson's Baby Powder, Reuters reports. "Saldivar's lab began testing cosmetic talc products for the FDA again this year, and in September it found asbestos in an unmarked sample that the FDA later identified as Johnson's Baby Powder."

More than 16,000 people are suing Johnson & Johnson, claiming the company's Baby Powder caused their cancer. Previous cases have produced mixed results for the company: Some juries have sided with the plaintiffs, some with Johnson & Johnson, and some cases were settled, including a case in Indianapolis where the plaintiffs' lawyer won the right to share the FDA's positive asbestos test with the jury.

"This is bad news for J&J," University of Kentucky law professor Richard Ausness told Reuters. "The plaintiffs are clearly going to say this lab director worked for J&J for years, and he found asbestos so there must be asbestos there." Stanford law professor Nora Freeman Engstrom concurred. "This positive test turns up the heat on J&J," she said. "And their expert lit the match." Read more at Reuters. Peter Weber

12:43 a.m.

All 800 of Greg Dailey's customers received the same note stuffed in their newspaper: if they needed anything picked up from the grocery store, he was happy to do it for them, free of charge.

Dailey is a newspaper carrier, and delivers the Star-Ledger every morning to homes in central New Jersey. After New Jersey's governor told residents to stay at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, Dailey learned that one of his elderly customers was too afraid to even go outside to pick up their paper, and that got him thinking about others who might have difficulty navigating this new world. He typed up a note to customers offering his services, and soon the calls came flooding in.

His wife, children, and mother-in-law help him with taking orders and doing some of the shopping. When he's done delivering his papers for the day, Dailey hits the grocery store, then brings the items back to his house for disinfection before dropping them off. "This isn't something that we're just going to do for a few days — we're in this for the duration," he told The Washington Post.

Sandy Driska thought his offer was too good to be true, but because she was overcoming bronchitis and her husband has Parkinson's disease, she decided to give Dailey a chance. He did exactly as promised, delivering her much-needed groceries without asking for an extra penny. "What a godsend this man has been," she said. Catherine Garcia

12:35 a.m.

Ellis Marsalis Jr., the New Orleans jazz pianist and teacher whose sons have become jazz stars in their own rights, died Wednesday. He was 85, and the cause of death was pneumonia brought on by the new coronavirus, according to sons Branford and Ellis. "Pneumonia was the actual thing that caused his demise," Ellis III told The Associated Press. "But it was pneumonia brought on by COVID-19." The senior Ellis was tested for COVID-19 but hadn't received the results before he died, a family member told WWL-TV.

Along with Branford, a prominent jazz saxophonists, and Ellis III, a photographer and poet, Marsalis is survived by sons Wynton, the jazz trumpeter and jazz spokesman who serves as artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center; Delfeayo, a trombonist, performer, and producer; Jason, a drummer; and Mboya. Marsalis' wife, Dolores, died in 2017.

Marsalis spent most of his life in his native New Orleans, skipping out on Los Angeles after a few months backing Ornette Coleman there in 1956. He started performing jazz in high school and began teaching jazz at Xavier University and the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts in the 1970. He moved to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond in 1986, then returned home in 1989 to teach at the University of New Orleans until 2001. He performed until the end, officially retiring from his three-decade-long Friday night gig at the New Orleans club Snug Harbor in December, but continuing to sit in as a special guest.

"Ellis Marsalis was a legend" and "the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz," New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Wednesday night. "He was a teacher, a father, and an icon." Tulane folklorist and public radio host Nick Spitzer called Marsalis "the coach of jazz." His students included Harry Connick Jr., trumpeters Terence Blanchard and Nicholas Payton, bassist Reginald Veal, and his own sons. Peter Weber

April 1, 2020

Stephen Colbert's Late Show knows what you — or at least some of you — have been doing while sheltering in place to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Other notable actors and comedians may try to cajole you into staying at home, but Colbert repurposed the theme song from the tippling-themed sitcom Cheers to persuade you — and if you watch to the end, one of the regulars makes a cameo to drive the point home, for better and worse. Drink responsibly, drink at home, and watch below. Peter Weber

April 1, 2020

A financial disclosure filed Tuesday shows that from mid-February to mid-March, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and her husband, New York Stock Exchange Chairman Jeff Sprecher, invested in DuPont, a company that makes personal protective equipment used by first responders fighting the COVID-19 coronavirus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Loeffler, worth an estimated $500 million, came under fire last month when it was discovered that she dumped millions in stock after receiving confidential briefings on the coronavirus pandemic and before she publicly downplayed the threat from the virus; 15 of the stocks had, on average, lost more than a third of their value by late March. Loeffler has denied using insider knowledge to influence her decisions to buy and sell stock, and her campaign says an investment firm manages her stocks and she does not have any control over day-to-day decisions.

The disclosure filed Tuesday shows that the largest transactions made between mid-February and mid-March involved $18.7 million in sales of Intercontinental Exchange stock. ICE owns the New York Stock Exchange, and Loeffler is a former company executive. Loeffler's campaign said the sales were prearranged as part of Loeffler's and Sprecher's compensation package. Read more about Loeffler's stock sales at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Catherine Garcia

April 1, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday said the heartburn drug Zantac should immediately be pulled from shelves and consumers should dispose of any pills or liquid they have at home.

During safety tests last summer, extremely high levels of the contaminant NDMA, believed to be a carcinogen, were discovered in samples of the drug. The active ingredient in Zantac is ranitidine, and the FDA said that over time, NDMA appears as an impurity in ranitidine in levels exceeding federal standards, NPR reports.

The FDA issued a warning last September, and CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart removed the drug and its generic forms from stores. Since then, the agency has confirmed that the issue is how ranitidine naturally breaks down in normal storage conditions, and has nothing to do with the way it is manufactured.

"We didn't observe unacceptable levels of NDMA in many of the samples that we tested," the FDA's Janet Woodcock said in a statement Wednesday. "However, since we don't know how or for how long the product might have been stored, we decided that it should not be available to consumers and patients unless its quality can be assured." Catherine Garcia

April 1, 2020

The U.S. Coast Guard is telling foreign cruise ships with more than 50 people on board that they need to "increase their medical capabilities, personnel, and equipment" in order to care for sick individuals amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

This is "necessary as shore-side medical facilities may reach full capacity and lose the ability to accept and effectively treat additional critically-ill patients," Coast Guard Rear Admiral E.C. Jones wrote in a safety bulletin dated March 29. During normal circumstances, a ship can call the Coast Guard and ask to have people who are seriously ill medically evacuated.

The order is for ships in the district covering Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Puerto Rico. There are dozens of cruise ships lined up at Port Miami and Port Everglades, in addition to several that are waiting offshore, The Associated Press reports. Most of the ships just have crew members on board, but Carnival Corp. says it has more than 6,000 passengers still at sea.

The cruise line is trying to reach a deal with federal, state, and local officials that would let two of its Holland America ships, the Zaandam and Rotterdam, dock at Port Everglades this week. Two people on board the Zaandam have died of COVID-19, and nine have tested positive for the virus. The medical center on another Carnival Corp. ship headed to Florida, the Coral Princess, has reported a "higher-than-normal number of people with flu-like symptoms," AP reports. By law, ships bound for the United States have to give daily updates on the number of coronavirus cases on board. Catherine Garcia

April 1, 2020

Musician Adam Schlesinger, co-founder of the rock band Fountains of Wayne and an award-winning songwriter for the television show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, died on Wednesday of coronavirus complications. He was 52.

On Tuesday, Schlesinger's family announced that he had been hospitalized and was on a ventilator, saying in a statement, "He is receiving excellent care, his condition is improving, and we are cautiously optimistic."

Schlesinger was a Grammy and Emmy Award winner, and over the course of his career was also nominated for Tony, Oscar, and Golden Globe Awards. He won two Emmys in 2018 for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and also served as the show's executive music director. Schlesinger wrote the theme song for Tom Hanks' 1997 film That Thing You Do! and recorded five albums with Fountains of Wayne. Their biggest hit, "Stacy's Mom," was released in 2003.

He is survived by two daughters. Catherine Garcia

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