Competition to grow medical marijuana in Utah heats up


The wide metal barn on the Utah alfalfa farm owned by Russell and Diane Jones will host their youngest son’s wedding next month. By September, they hope the structure will be full of marijuana plants.

The Joneses are fourth-generation farmers, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and among 81 applicants for one of a handful of coveted spots as a licensed medical marijuana grower in conservative Utah.

Though leaders of their faith once opposed the bid to legalize medical marijuana, Russell Jones says he researched the drug’s pain-relieving benefits as he battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Now he and his wife want to be part of an emerging industry that some doubted would ever come to the state.

“This is groundbreaking for Utah,” Diane Jones said. “Who doesn’t want to make history?”

Others hoping to win licenses include larger operations that grow hemp, and a handful of out-of-state growers. State officials are expected to begin awarding up to 10 licenses later this month.

The state recently opened the licensing process to out-of-state growers, a change that makes locals like hemp processor Darren Johnson nervous.

“Does it bode well for me? No, but they want it to be seamless. They don’t want hiccups. And I get that,” he said.

Some applicants worry the process stacks the deck against local growers in favor of “Big Weed,” or companies that have successfully grown cannabis in other states where the crop is legal. The application requires a $2,500 fee, and submissions are hundreds of pages long. Those who get a license pay $100,000 every year to keep it, in addition to buying tools and facilities that can cost millions.

Department of Agriculture officials said they are awarding extra points to applicants with community ties as they review applications. Eight applications came from out-of-state growers. The state is looking for farmers able to expand operations as demand increases while keeping costs low and growing plants free of mold and pesticides.

At an indoor facility in North Salt Lake, Troy Young tends to rows of hemp plants under the harsh, purple glow of LED lights designed to nurture growth. Young grows industrial hemp, a nonpsychoactive cousin of marijuana legalized in Utah last year.

He is among a number of ambitious growers who have invested in equipment and set aside money hoping to receive a license to grow medical marijuana.

Cannabis in its various forms is challenging to grow and requires a lot of experimentation, he said.

“It’s fun for me. I get to be a mad scientist,” Young, 52, said. He has a personal stake in marijuana legalization. Young lost his mother to an opioid addiction. If she had access to a less destructive pain-relieving drug, like marijuana, he said, maybe she’d still be alive.

Marijuana has been shown to help ease chronic pain, and studies have suggested medical marijuana laws may reduce opioid prescribing.

“There’s a real need for it. It’s not just about the high,” Young said.

Johnson, the hemp processor, has a spacious warehouse in Salt Lake City with a team of technicians and equipment primed to grow medical marijuana. One room is filled with large beakers. Sticky hemp drips through paper filters and into the glass to extract CBD oil.

Hemp is his side business. Johnson works full-time in construction but views cultivating marijuana as a smart, long-term investment.

“Once (medical marijuana) becomes less taboo and people opt for that over an opiate-based drug, we’re going to see more demand and a stronger market,” he said.

Revenues from the state’s medical cannabis program are projected to reach $5.4 million in 2020 then grow to $16.2 million in 2021, said Richard Oborn, director of the state health department’s Center of Medical Cannabis.

Utah joined 33 states in legalizing medical marijuana after voters approved a new law last year.

Leaders of the state’s predominant faith originally opposed the push to ask voters to approve medical marijuana but eventually struck a compromise with some advocates to allow medicinal use of the drug with more regulation.

Whoever wins the state’s 10 grower licenses will have to grow the cannabis in Utah. The state also will choose licensed processors to make medical marijuana products to be sold in dispensaries expected to open next year.



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US customs agents seize rat meat at Chicago's O'Hare Airport


Officials say U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport thwarted a man’s attempt to import several pounds of African rat meat.

Customs spokesman Steve Bansbach said Tuesday that the man declared the 32 pounds of meat on June 26 when his flight arrived from the Ivory Coast. The meat was confiscated and destroyed.

Bansbach says the man did not face a fine and continued on his journey because he was forthcoming about what he was bringing into the country. He says customs officials prohibit the entry of African meats to prevent the spread of African swine fever.

The Department of Agriculture says the highly contagious and deadly viral disease affects domestic and wild pigs and is not a threat to humans. The department says it has never been found in the U.S.



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Justices won't revive Alabama ban on abortion procedure


The Supreme Court won’t revive Alabama’s attempt to ban the most commonly used procedure in second-trimester abortions after the measure was blocked by lower courts.

The justices on Friday rejected the state’s appeal and declined to review a lower court ruling that blocked the law. The 2016 Alabama law sought to ban the abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation, a procedure Alabama referred to in court filings as “dismemberment abortion.”

Lower courts have blocked similar laws in Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas, but this was the first case to go before the Supreme Court, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the Alabama law.

Court records show 93% of abortions in Alabama occur before 15 weeks of pregnancy. For the 7% of abortions that occur later, almost all are by dilation and evacuation.

Randall Marshall, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said the ban would have effectively ended access to second trimester abortions in Alabama if it had been allowed to take effect.

“We are not surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision to deny reviewing this case. In doing so, they are upholding the Supreme Court’s own precedent in protecting a woman’s right to access the healthcare she needs. A woman’s health, not Alabama politicians, should drive personal medical decisions,” Marshall said.

Planned Parenthood said the decision was a victory for abortion access in the state, but warned of the continuing push to enact new restrictions on abortion.

“This is a major victory for Alabamians and people everywhere. The courts have for now protected our constitutional right to access abortion. But the fight is far from over,” said Staci Fox, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Southeast.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who supports overturning the Roe v. Wade decision that first declared abortion rights, did not dissent from the decision to pass on the Alabama case, but described the abortion procedure at issue as “particularly gruesome.”

“The notion that anything in the Constitution prevents States from passing laws prohibiting the dismembering of a living child is implausible,” Thomas said.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said he was disappointed in the court’s decision not to hear the Alabama case, and added “I believe that the day of reckoning for Roe is coming.”

“I am disappointed that the United States Supreme Court has decided not to hear Alabama’s appeal of a lower-court decision that invalidated our state law, enacted in 2016, prohibiting dismemberment abortion — a method of killing an unborn child that cannot be described in even the most clinical of terms to hide its monstrosity and gruesomeness,” the Alabama attorney general said.

Two Alabama abortion clinics and the ACLU had challenged the 2016 law in court.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson found the law was amount to a virtual ban on abortion in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Thompson’s ruling blocking the law, but two of the three judges on the panel said they voted to affirm only because they are bound by past Supreme Court decisions in support of abortion rights.

The state will now have to pay attorney fees to the ACLU and other plaintiff lawyers in the case.

The Friday decision comes as some conservative states are seeking to enact far-reaching restrictions on abortion.

Alabama lawmakers this year passed a law that would ban almost all abortions in the state, in the hopes of sparking a new court case that might prompt justices to revisit Roe. That near-total abortion ban, which is slated to take effect in November, is facing a challenge in court.

Marshall said the Friday decision on the procedure ban is perhaps a sign that justices, “are not ready to go in and make sweeping changes.”

The Supreme Court still is likely to hear an election year case involving abortion, a challenge to a Louisiana law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. A district judge who barred the state from enforcing the law found it would close one or two of the state’s three abortion clinics.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law and would have let it take effect pending a Supreme Court appeal. But the justices kept the law on hold in a 5-4 vote in February, pending a full review of the case.

Louisiana was among 21 states that urged the high court to hear the Alabama case. The other states, like Louisiana, have passed sweeping abortion restrictions, including an abortion ban as early as six weeks when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

———

Chandler reported from Montgomery, Alabama.



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WSOP review: Korea win a second series bracelet; Baris overcomes Cain online


Sejin Park became the second South Korean to win a World Series of Poker bracelet this series after taking down the COLOSSUS, and Nicholas Baris overcomes a 70% heads-up chip deficit to win a $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em event.

wsop-review-korea-win-a-second-series-bracelet-baris-overcomes-cain-online

[Image credit: WSOP]

On Monday, South Korea’s military sent fighter jets scurrying into the sky to investigate an ‘unidentified flying object’ flying near the North Korean border, a day after the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met with the U.S. President, Donald Trump.

The military later told the South Korean press than the UFO was nothing more than a flock of 20 birds, but our sources at CalvinAyre.com inform us with some accuracy that the UFO was Sejin Park, who was still flying high after his victory in Event #61: COLOSSUS – $400 No-Limit Hold’em.

Park, a cash game grinder from Macau, was visiting the World Series of Poker (WSOP) for the first time when he flicked in the $400 and took down the $451,272 first-prize after conquering a field of 13,109-entrants. He becomes the first Korean to win a WSOP bracelet, in an open event, and the second of the series after Jiyoung Kim won the ladies event earlier this summer.

Speaking to PokerNews after his win, Park said that he didn’t expect much from this tournament given the size of the field, before thanking Kim, for supporting him on the rail, alongside his other buddy.

“I would talk strategy during the break with them, and it was a tremendous help,” said Park.

The most recognised face at the final table was Andrew Barber who won the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E Championship in 2015. Barber is an ambassador for Raising for Effective Giving (REG), the meta-charity created to reduce suffering in the world, but that didn’t stop him from suffering when he hit the rail in the fifth position.

To win the bracelet, Park had to overcome Georgios Kapalas in heads-up action. The South Korean began with a 2:1 chip lead, and used it to treat Kapalas like a pumpkin seed rolling around a mortar and pestle, grinding him down to nothing after Kd2c flopped trips when all-in against the slightly superior As3h.

Final table results

1. Sejin Park – $451,272
2. Georgios Kapalas – $278,881
3. Ryan Depaulo – $208,643
4. Juan Lopez – $157,106
5. Andrew Barber – $119,072
6. Norson Saho – $90,838
7. Patrick Miller – $69,757
8. Maksim Kalman – $53,925
9. Diego Lima – $41,965

Three other stars of the game who wore kimonos, pipes and slippers late into this thing were bracelet winners Jeremy Ausmus (35th), Nicholas Haynes (52nd) and Tom McEvoy (93rd).

Nicholas Baris wins Event #68: $1,000 WSOP.com ONLINE No-Limit Hold’em Championship.

The online fields at the WSOP continue to swell like teenage gums with Event #68: $1,000 WSOP.com ONLINE No-Limit Hold’em Championship pulling in a field of 1,750-entrants.

Two names stood out amongst the pack with David ‘Bakes’ Baker making his second final table of the series (he finished 5/996 in $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em), and the 2017 WSOP Player of the Year, Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson, also making his second final table after finishing 3/116 in the $10,000 Razz Championship (Ferguson played on his iPad whilst also competing in a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event).

Bakes and Ferguson may have the star power, but it was Tara Cain who looked the likeliest to win this thing for most of the final table. Cain has. World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC) online gold ring somewhere in her jewellery box, and in 2017, she finished runner-up to Thomas Cannuli in the 424-entrant $3,333 No-Limit Hold’em Online High Roller.

Cain would have been desperately trying to avoid a second crushing disappointment, especially when she began heads-up with Nicholas Baris, holding 70% of the chips in play. Poker can send you into North Korean airspace, but it can also drop you deep into graveyard silence, and that’s what happened to Cain, as Baris chipped away, doubling up with tens against ace-nine before queens beat nines for all the chips, all the chops and the bracelet.

Final table results

1. Nicholas “Illari” Baris – $303,738.75
2. Tara “bertperton” Cain – $187,530
3. William “TheBurrSir” Lamb Harding – $113,332.50
4. David “YoungPitts” Baker – $96,092.50
5. Jason “LuckDuck” Lawhun – $69,991.25
6. Jack “Mr. Yang” Maskill – $51,703.75
7. Chris “Camdi” Ferguson – $38,736.25
8. Ryan “PlzCumAgain” Jones – $29,260
9. Antonio “karma007” Guerrero – $22,443.75

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New drug to boost women's sex drive approved in US


U.S. women will soon have another drug option designed to boost low sex drive: a shot they can give themselves in the thigh or abdomen that raises sexual interest for several hours.

The medication OK’d Friday by the Food and Drug Administration is only the second approved to increase sexual desire in a women, a market drugmakers have been trying to cultivate since the blockbuster success of Viagra for men in the late 1990s. The other drug is a daily pill.

The upside of the new drug “is that you only use it when you need it,” said Dr. Julia Johnson, a reproductive specialist at UMass Memorial Medical Center who was not involved in its development. “The downside is that it’s a shot — and some people are very squeamish.”

The drug’s developer, Amag Pharmaceuticals, could also face some of the same hurdles that have plagued the lone pill previously approved for the condition, including unpleasant side effects and limited insurance coverage. The company declined to release price information.

The FDA approved the new drug, Vyleesi (pronounced vie-LEE’-see), for premenopausal women with a disorder defined by a persistent lack of interest in sex, causing stress. The most common side effect in company studies was nausea. The approval was based on women’s responses to questionnaires that showed increases in sexual desire and decreases in stress related to sex. The women didn’t report having more sex, the original goal for the drug.

“Women are not desiring more sex. They want better sex,” said Dr. Julie Krop, Amag’s chief medical officer.

Flushing, injection site reactions and headache are other common side effects.

Women with high blood pressure or heart disease should not take the drug because increases in blood pressure were observed after injections, the FDA said. It also could interfere with oral naltrexone, a drug for people with alcohol and opioid dependence, the FDA said.

Because so many factors affect sexual desire, doctors must rule out other causes before diagnosing the condition, including relationship issues, medical problems and mood disorders. The condition, known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder, is not universally accepted, and some psychologists argue that low sex drive should not be considered a medical problem.

Still, the pharmaceutical industry has long pointed to surveys — some funded by drugmakers — suggesting that it is the most common female sexual disorder in the nation, affecting roughly 1 in 10 women. Amag estimates nearly 6 million U.S. women meet the criteria for the drug.

Cynthia Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network, urged women to avoid using the drug “until more is known about its safety and effectiveness.” She noted in a statement that Amag had not yet published full clinical trial results.

The search for a pill to treat women’s sexual difficulties was once a top priority for many of the world’s biggest drugmakers, including Pfizer, Bayer and Procter & Gamble. Those companies and others studied and later abandoned drugs acting on blood flow, testosterone and other targets.

Vyleesi acts on receptors for a brain-stimulating hormone called melanocortin, which is associated with sexual arousal and appetite in both men and women.

Waltham, Massachusetts-based Amag plans to pitch the drug to consumers through social media, including a website called unblush.com that tells women that low sex drive “is nothing to blush about.”

Amag’s campaign has some of the hallmarks that helped launch the first female libido drug, Addyi, a once-a-day pill approved in 2015. The FDA decision followed a contentious four-year review that included a lobbying effort funded by Addyi’s maker, Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which framed the lack of female sex drugs as a women’s rights issue.

Women taking Addyi showed a slight uptick in “sexually satisfying events” per month and improved scores on psychiatric questionnaires. Those results were only slightly better than what women taking a placebo reported, but they were significant enough to meet FDA effectiveness standards.

The pink pill — originally developed as an antidepressant — was ultimately approved with a bold warning that it should not be combined with alcohol, due to risks of fainting and dangerously low blood pressure.

Most insurers refused to cover the drug, citing lackluster effectiveness, and many women balked at the $800-per-month price. Last year, Sprout slashed the price to $400. It was prescribed just 6,000 times last year, according to investment analyst data.

UMass’s Johnson said drugs should not be the first choice for treating women’s sexual problems. Instead, she recommends counseling to help women “separate all the stresses of life” from their sex life.

“But if that doesn’t work, having a medication that may help is worth trying,” she said.

———

Follow Matthew Perrone on Twitter: @AP—FDAwriter

———

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.



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The Vatican Rejects Gender Fluidity



By Madison Hill-Glover, 19, Contributor


June 25, 2019

Recently, the Vatican published a document that said that people can’t choose their gender. This is accurate. Gender identity is about how a person feels inside and for some people, this does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. For some, it is more fluid. However, the Vatican is also insisting that someone’s gender identity—which, again, is not chosen—should match their biological sex or sex assigned at birth. They reject the idea that for some, this is not the case.

Gender fluidity can include having a gender identity that fluctuates between two genders, having no gender or being multiple genders. The document from the Vatican, called, “Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education” and issued by a department at the Vatican dedicated to Catholic education, says that people can identify solely as men or women because these genders correspond to traditional ideas around procreation and how kids are made. This is consistent with what Pope Francis has said in the past. The document—intended for Catholic schools and teachers—refers to “an educational crisis” when it comes to a more accepting and flexible view of gender. But isn’t it more of a crisis to insist that people force themselves to identify as something that does not represent them?

Since this document was released during Pride month, a lot of people have criticized it for fueling hatred and discrimination toward trans and gender-nonconforming people during a period of honor and celebration and for potentially further confusing people who might be questioning their gender. An advocacy group for LGBTQ Catholics called New Ways Ministry found fault with the document because it seems to express that gender is solely determined by genitalia, but gender identity is about how a person feels inside as a masculine or feminine person, a blend of both or something else altogether.

Other advocates took issue with the lack of representation of LGBTQ people in the document and hope that this criticism opens a conversation about gender in the Catholic Church. For instance, activist and Jesuit priest Rev. James Martin said, “The real-life experiences from LGBTQ people seem entirely absent from this document,” according to an Associated Press article. He then voiced his expectations for future inclusivity in the Catholic Church.

Gender fluidity is important because it allows people to express their gender in a way that feels most affirming for them. To deny this is to deny people’s true identity and experience.



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Local governments seek negotiating power in opioid lawsuit


Lawyers suing over the toll of opioids asked a judge Friday to allow a structure for all 25,000 municipal and county governments in the U.S. to be paid — if a settlement can be reached with companies that make and distribute powerful prescription painkillers.

The approach, if approved, would create dueling negotiating systems as state governments are also in collective settlement negotiations with the drug industry.

The unified approach on behalf of municipalities would also help the manufacturers and distributors by defining a finalized group of entities benefiting from a settlement, said Joseph Rice, a South Carolina-based attorney representing local governments in the complaint.

“If you’re a corporation trying to address this problem, you need to get closure, you need to put it behind you,” Rice said in an interview Friday. “If you’re going to put significant resources into the resolution, you’ve got to know it’s behind you. The only way to do that is to get releases from everybody that’s got a potential claim.”

The action would also help address a problem that is widespread and reaches across city and county lines, Rice said. Providing assistance from a settlement to one county doesn’t help the people in a neighboring town, he said.

“These pills have wheels, they move around,” Rice said, citing the documented cases of pain pills obtained in Florida being taken to West Virginia.

The motion filed Friday requests the creation of a negotiating class “for the specific purpose of creating a unified body to enter into further negotiations with defendants,” according to the filing. “It is neither aimed at being the vehicle for litigation or settlement.”

Hundreds of local governments and other entities, such as hospitals, have accused pharmaceutical companies of downplaying the addictive nature of opioids and prescription painkillers largely blamed for one of the deadliest drug crises in U.S. history. Opioids include prescription and illicit drugs.

The complaints are being overseen by Cleveland-based U.S. District Judge Dan Polster. He previously ruled that lawsuits filed by the Ohio counties of Cuyahoga, which includes Cleveland, and Summit County, which includes Akron, will be heard first this October.

A trial on claims made by West Virginia’s Huntington and Cabell counties will be next, followed by Cleveland and Akron’s claims.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says opioids are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Opioids were involved in 47,600 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017, according to the agency.

Attorneys general fighting for compensation in separate legal actions are likely to have mixed reactions to the filing, said Paul Nolette, a Marquette University political scientist.

With the lone exception of Nebraska, every state has sued, filed administrative charges or promised to sue the companies blamed for the national crisis, which played a role in the deaths of more than 390,000 Americans from 2000 through 2017.

On one hand, the move could complicate things for the states, which see themselves as negotiating both on their behalf and communities within the state, said Nolette, who studies attorneys general. On the other, some may welcome the pressure that a giant class of communities puts on drug makers and distributors to settle.

Many municipalities felt left out of states’ 1998 $200 billion-plus settlement with tobacco companies, Nolette said, especially after some states diverted their share to fill budget holes instead of paying for anti-smoking programs.

“At least in this litigation, the municipalities are saying, ‘No, that’s not good enough.’ We want our own voice,” Nolette said.

In Ohio, the state has sued drug makers and distributors in separate court actions. Attorney General David Yost on Friday called communities’ request for their own negotiating class “an extraordinary process and a novel approach.”

“We’re examining it very closely to make sure it is fair and appropriate for Ohioans and complies with the law,” Yost said in a statement.

———

Associated Press writer Geoff Mulvihill in New Jersey contributed to this report.



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Wrigley Field could get its own sportsbook


According to a report by ESPN, the iconic Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs, in Chicago, Illinois could be getting its own sportsbook. At least, that might be a plan set in motion by the Cubs, wrigley-field-could-get-its-own-sportsbookprovided they can get approval from Major League Baseball (MLB) for the venue. The sportsbook would see a physical location in the stadium, as well as betting kiosks in strategic places on the perimeter.

Sports gambling hasn’t yet been legalized in Illinois, but it most likely won’t be too much longer before the go-ahead is given. A bill drafted by the Senate, Senate Bill 690 (SB 690), has already been approved by legislators and now only needs the signature of Governor J.B. Pritzker to be converted into law. Pritzker will reportedly sign the bill this week.

In preparation for legalization, the Cubs, and other sports organizations in the state, have been getting ready to launch sportsbooks. However, the Cubs will only admit to being in early discussions about the possibility without acknowledging that it has official plans in place.

Even if the Cubs, or any other MLB franchise in the country, wanted to put a sportsbook at its stadium, there is still one last hurdle to jump. The league has to agree to allow the teams to offer sports gambling, and it has yet to do so. An MLB spokesperson told ESPN, “We will work with our clubs to explore the opportunities presented by the rapidly evolving sports betting landscape in a socially responsible manner.”

However, it’s a guarantee that, if it does, it will want to take a piece of the action. It said last October that it deserves an “integrity fee” from all wagers and, if it can’t get it from the states, it will certainly get it from the sports gambling operations. The MLB has already proven that it isn’t above extortion to try and get its way.

Sports gambling continues to spread across the US and will eventually permeate every sporting activity to some degree. If the previous reports are correct, it could mean up to – or more than $150 billion will go from illegal offshore gambling operators to states in the country, giving them stronger independent governments and greater autonomy.

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BetConstruct operator VBET joins Arsenal as official partner


Arsenal Football Club welcomed VBET as its Official Betting and Gaming Partner announcing a three-year deal.

VBET is the B2C brand from BetConstruct who provide their award-winning software to some of the most popular brands in the gaming industry. The partnership will see VBET bring their innovative approach directly to Arsenal fans in the stadium and worldwide with Ray Parlour fronting the campaign and marking the next step in VBET’s global expansion.

betconstruct-operator-vbet-joins-arsenal-as-official-partnerVigen Badalyan, VBET’s CEO and Founder, said, “We’re great admirers of Arsenal’s tradition and partnership with VBET is a key part of the long-term strategy. VBET is powered by BetConstruct, a business we created 16 years ago in Armenia and it has become a leading supplier of igaming technology. By building our own software and doing everything in-house we can offer VBET customers an innovative, easy and safe experience that has responsible gambling at the heart of the brand. We look forward to engaging with passionate Arsenal fans around the world.”

Arsenal Commercial Director, Peter Silverstone, said, “We are delighted to welcome VBET into our family of official partners. Innovation is a key part of what drives us at Arsenal, so we are excited to partner with such a forward-thinking, global brand.”

“We look forward to working with them to create unrivalled content and provide exclusive offers that we know our supporters will enjoy.”

Ray Parlour will front the campaign as a new VBET Ambassador which will feature bespoke campaigns for the fans to enjoy. The partnership will see VBET’s distinctive ‘v-sign’ logo used throughout the stadium and across Arsenal’s digital platforms.

About VBET

VBET is the B2C brand from BetConstruct, a global award-winning technology and services provider for online and land-based gaming industry.

Based in Yerevan, Armenia, the business was formed in 2003 and has grown to over 3,000 people based in offices across the globe.

BetConstruct’s innovative and popular services include online and retail sportsbook, casino, poker and much more, giving operators transparent access to the tools and support necessary to achieve their desired level of growth and success.

To learn more about VBET, visit: www.vbet.com

To learn more about BetConstruct, visit: www.betconstruct.com

About Arsenal Football Club

Arsenal Football Club was born when a group of workers at Dial Square armaments factory in Woolwich, notably exiled Scotsman David Danskin and Jack Humble, decided to form a football team to break the monotony of factory life.

Since that Dial Square team played its first match against Eastern Wanderers in 1886, Arsenal has gone on to become one of London’s most successful football clubs and one of the most famous names in modern football with millions of passionate followers worldwide.

Steeped in history and tradition, Arsenal Football Club has thrived on a pioneering and innovative spirit that has existed throughout its 133 years in existence. While society and football may have changed during this time, Arsenal has always served to create a sense of community for people here in Islington, across the UK and now around the world.

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#SRAisAbstinenceOnly: Same Old Stigma and Shame



By Sarah Emily Baum, 19, Contributor


June 12, 2019

“New name, same game: SHAME.”

That’s just one of the rallying cries for the #SRAisAbstinenceOnly campaign, which is challenging funding and support for sexual risk avoidance (SRA) programs. SRA is a new name for an old concept: abstinence-only sex education.

“Abstinence-only” describes a sex education curriculum that teaches only abstinence, or refraining from sex, until marriage. These programs don’t provide accurate information on birth control or safer sex, and they usually exclude LGBTQ identities entirely. Consent, communication and healthy relationships are also not included. What is included? Explaining sexuality to young people using faulty, outdated and hetero- and cis-normative language and metaphors. Shaming them by comparing sexually active young people to objects like a shredded piece of paper or a cup full of spit. Students are told that someone who has premarital sex is like a piece of chewed-up gum or used toothbrush and that no one will want them.

Shaming and scare tactics are harmful to young people, and they just don’t work. Abstinence-only programs have not been shown to delay sex among teens, while sex ed programs that provide all of the accurate information people need to make healthy decisions have. Abstinence-only programs actually increase the teen birth rate in conservative states, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Public Health. In spite of this, Congress has spent over $2.1 billion on abstinence-only programs since 1996, a number that continues to grow.

But the abstinence-only agenda has grown unpopular among many. Polls have shown that the majority of American adults want teens to learn about both abstinence as a choice as well as topics like safer sex and birth control. That’s why abstinence-only promoters have rebranded themselves as “Sexual Risk Avoidance,” even though it’s the same old shaming, inaccurate thing.

“Over the past several years, proponents of abstinence-only programs have been working to enhance their brand and reframe their approach,” writes Jesseca Boyer in a report by the Guttmacher Institute. “Nevertheless, most of the ‘sexual risk avoidance’ curricula…are the same as the ‘abstinence education’ curricula…and have the same goals.”

In response to attempts to rebrand abstinence-only as SRA, over a dozen organizations from across the country, including Answer—publisher of Sex, Etc., have teamed up to promote honest, accurate and nonjudgmental sex education and to reject the SRA agenda through the online campaign #SRAisAbstinenceOnly.

“Don’t be fooled by [SRA’s] deceitful appropriation of new rights language,” says the #SRAisAbstinenceOnly website. “It’s the same old shaming, inaccurate lectures. These lessons do nothing but harm young people by reinforcing harmful ideology and stifling honest discussion about sexuality.”

Want to speak out about harmful abstinence-only programs? Use #SRAisAbstinenceOnly on social media, spread awareness about the intentions of SRA and contact your elected officials to demand comprehensive sex education. When it comes to your body, you deserve to have reliable, accurate information delivered in a non-shaming way so that you can make educated decisions about what’s right for you.



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