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Maine Enacts Comprehensive Gun Control Measures in Response to Tragic Shooting

The approval of wide-ranging gun control ordinances by Maine mirrors concentrated endeavor to curb the pandemic of gun violence, despite the swirling debates and eleventh hour re-considerations.

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Maine Enacts Comprehensive Gun Control Measures in Response to Tragic Shooting
Maine Enacts Comprehensive Gun Control Measures in Response to Tragic Shooting. Credit | AP file

United States – The Maine Legislature passed a wide-ranging gun control bill banning gun sales to convicted criminals and requiring background checks in private sales before going home Thursday, almost six months since the deadly shooting in the state.

Legislature Takes Action After Deadly Shooting

Mills, a Democratic governor, and the Democrat-led lawmakers insisted on a number of gun/mental health bills after the shooting that took 18 lives and injured another 13 persons. However, the state is not very keen on hunting and supporting gun owners at large, as reported by Associated Press.

“Maine has taken significant steps forward in preventing gun violence and protecting Maine lives,” Nacole Palmer, executive director of Maine Gun Safety Coalition, commented favorably on the state legislation that reflects citizen’s will.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed legislation, approved early this morning that will strengthen the state’s yellow flag law, impose a background check for private gun sales, and punish recklessly selling a gun to a prohibited person. The act also includes investing in various violence prevention strategies and opening a mental health crisis receiving center in Lewiston.

In the face of fierce resistance, the Maine Senate authorized the 72-hour waiting period for gun buying and the ban on bump stocks that enable rifles to function like machine guns.

Provisions of the Gun Control Bill

Apart from that, no decisions were made about implementing a “red flag” law. The proposed bill (R. Talbot Ross bill) would have given family members the right to apply to the judge to remove the firearms from a mentally. The state’s present “yellow flag” law is different as it relies on police leading the process, something critics have objected to on the grounds that it is too difficult.

As the excess hours ticked on and their adjournment date of Wednesday came closer, lawmakers pressed on through the night until morning. Unfortunately, it wasn’t without the last-minute tantrum. The lawmakers had put online a special budget and thus debated well into the night, delaying their final votes until the very early morning hours and closing the session at daybreak.

A gruesome incident of a military guard’s shooting spree in Lewiston, Maine’s second-largest city, gained the attention of the lawmakers when the session started.

The police knew of the family members reporting that the shooter had become delusional and was in possession of firearms. During his training hours this summer, he is hospitalized for two weeks with the team. Also, one of his best buddies, a fellow reservist, said that he just was taking a lot of pills and he was going to snap and do a mass shooting. The shooter killed himself after the attack.

Republicans argued that Democrats were exploiting people’s emotions during the tragic moment for the purpose of introducing controversial legislation in the first place.

 

“My big concern here is that we’re moving forward with gun legislation that has always been on the agenda. Now we’re using the tragedy in Lewiston to force it through when there’s nothing new here,” said Republican Sen. Lisa Keim. “It’s the same old ideas that were rejected year after year. Using the tragedy to advance legislation is wrong.”

Governor’s Call for Action

However, the Republicans stated their constituents approached them to do something to prevent such future attacks. They asserted that they would have left the credibility and the accountability unfulfilled if they had ignored their cry, as reported by Associated Press.

“For the sake of the communities, individuals, and families now suffering immeasurable pain, for the sake of our state, doing nothing is not an option,” the governor said at the end of January when she laid out the new initiatives in the State of State speech. The crowd stood up with thunderous applause to show their appreciation.

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Hunter Biden’s Ex-Wife to Testify in Firearm Possession Case

The trial will involve whether Hunter Biden falsely stated about his drug use in a bid to buy a pistol: witness accounts from his former wife and former girlfriends.

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Hunter Biden's Ex-Wife Kathleen Buhle


United States – Hunter Biden’s ex-wife is set to testify about what the young Biden’s drug habits were as a defense claim in a case that suggests he lied about them to possess a firearm.

On charges of possession of a firearm by a user of a controlled substance, prosecutors said they would prove that Hunter Biden allowed his anti-drug screening test to come back clean when he purchased a revolver in October 2018, knowing that he was a drug user, as reported by Reuters.

The jurors viewed the text messages, banking records, and some clips of the audiobook of the Then Hunter Biden memoir that the prosecutors say show the client was habitually using crack at the time he bought the gun, one day after the purchase.

“Addiction is not a crime. Lying is,” prosecutor Derek Hines said.

Hunter Biden, 54 years old, has not quit guilty to three felonies, charging him with filing false information while purchasing the gun and possession of the prohibited firearm for 11 days.

The trial comes in the wake of another precedent setting case; the criminal indictment of former President of the United States, Donald Trump, who became the first US president to be convicted of a felony last week. Trump is the Republican candidate for president against Joe Biden of the Democratic party in the Nov. 5 poll.

Something was not mentioned at Hunter Biden’s trial regarding that aspect, but the prosecution used the phrase “no one is above the law.

Testimonies and Defense

Hines said that jurors would hear Kathleen Buhle, Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, and his former girlfriend, Zoe Kestan, and Hallie Biden, who was his brother, Beau Biden’s wife. They all can testify about Hunter Biden’s problems with drugs and alcohol throughout the years, Hines noted.

Prosecution’s Evidence and Statements

Lowell, who has represented Hunter Biden in an ongoing grand jury investigation, noted that his client contradicted these claims in his memoir titled “Beautiful Things,” published in 2021. Hunter Biden’s lawyer insisted that the evidence would demonstrate the subject was sober when purchasing the firearm and viewed himself as ‘not a user’ at the time.

Context and Political Backdrop

Trump is expected to be sentenced on July 11th after he was convicted by a jury in the state court in New York last Thursday of 34 felonies of presenting fake documents to conceal payments made to a pornographic actor ahead of a sex scandal that might have had an impact on the build-up to the 2016 U. S. election, as reported by Reuters.

He has denied the allegations in three other ongoing criminal charges, two against him for his attempts to overturn his 2020 defeat by Biden and one for keeping top-secret materials at his Florida estate after his presidency in 2021.

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FDA Debate Looms Over MDMA Therapy’s Role in PTSD Treatment

The FDA on MDMA therapy for PTSD is going to usher a new era in the therapeutic management of mental health with implications in treatment for millions of patients with the disorder.

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FDA Debate Looms Over MDMA Therapy's Role in PTSD Treatment


United States – An important meeting on the approval of a new treatment using one of the substances considered hallucinogens is to be held on Tuesday as the advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration are set to deliberate on the therapy based on MDMA for PTSD.

The session, conducted by the independent experts of the agency, is the closest that a drug based on MDMA, commonly referred to as ecstasy or molly, has ever gotten within the FDA procedure for approval, as reported by Reuters.

Addressing Mental Health Needs

This comes after several similar efforts have been pursued by supporters claiming that substances such as MDMA are effective in the treatment of mental health and millions also have other uses that are not related to drug use in society.

The treatment is a capsule containing or containing pure MDMA manufactured by the public-benefit corporation Lykos Therapeutics and to be taken in combination with hourly, full-spectrum sessions of talk therapy by a licensed, entheogenic mental health provider.

Promising Results and Concerns

MDMA, in combination with consultation, has indicated lower PTSD scores in trials with over 190 patients in contrast to placebo.

However, the FDA’s staff reviewers voiced concerns on Friday about how patients suffering from PTSD in the clinical trials knew whether they were given MDMA or a placebo due to the mind-altering effects of the drug.

A Step Towards Innovation

“I don’t think that is as much of a concern because even if it is an enhanced placebo effect, people are still getting better,” said David Olson, director of the UC Davis Institute for Psychedelics and Neurotherapeutics.

“But the bigger question is, what is the risk to those individuals?”

PTSD is among the largely prevalent mental health disorders, which impacts 13 million people within the United States of America and is prevalent among war veterans. This indicates that there is still a big gap in the development of new treatments for PTSD in this regard since the other drugs do not affect every person.

Lykos treatment is one treatment out of many psychedelic drugs given to patients with untreatable mental disorders, including Compass Pathways’ (CMPS. O) drug, which is derived from magic mushrooms.

The agency’s staff discussed restrictions on its use and oversight in briefing documents delivered on Friday. The FDA also pointed out the increase in both blood pressure and pulse in the trials and instances of hepatic toxicity.

According to Olson, the approval could provide “a new way to attack the problem, but as a single agent, it is not going to be a large driver” because of the cost and logistical challenges associated with it, as reported by Reuters.

“It’s important because it would be the first in this class of molecules, but I don’t think it will be the last; it will be replaced by compounds that have superior properties to MDMA.”

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British Tech Pioneer Faces Fraud Charges in HP Acquisition Trial

The fraud trial of Lynch is a follow-up on the disastrous HP-Autonomy interface, which has been a significant turning point on the technology as well as corporate governance.

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British Tech Pioneer Faces Fraud Charges in HP Acquisition Trial


United States – Jurors at the trial of British tech pioneer Mike Lynch may hear closing arguments in San Francisco on Monday in the fraud case regarding Hewlett-Packard’s (HPE. N) acquisition of Lynch’s software company Autonomy for USD 11.2 billion in 2011.

The Cambridge University-educated businessman testified for the defense at the trial, explaining that he had no criminal intentions and that HP performed the merger poorly, as reported by Reuters.

HP then proceeded to write down the value of Autonomy by USD 8.8 billion in one year since the acquisition.

Lynch and the former Autonomy finance executive Stephen Chamberlain have been charged with fraud and conspiracy for planning to artificially increase the company’s revenue starting in 2009, in part to attract a buyer.

Allegations of Fraud

Prosecutors claimed the two inflated Autonomy revenue through back-dated transactions and ‘round-trip’ transactions, where money was paid upfront by the customer through a fictitious contract.

During the trial, which started mid-March, the jurors were presented with over thirty government witnesses, including Leo Apotheker, the former HP chief who was dismissed just a few weeks after the purchase of Autonomy was declared.

Lynch’s legal advisors prepared the trial, stating that HP wanted to acquire Autonomy ahead of potential competitors, so the due diligence was performed quickly before the sale was closed.

Lynch Denies Involvement in Accounting Decisions

Taking the stand, Lynch denied that he was involved directly with the accounting decisions at issue and asserted that he was more concerned with technology issues at the time, leaving the finance-related matters in the hands of Sushovan Hussain, Autonomy’s former chief financial officer.

Hussain was convicted in 2018 in the same court in another trial. He was released from U. S. prison in January following his five-year imprisonment term.

Lynch was identified as one of the UK’s leading tech enablers in a bracket that included Steve Jobs of Apple and Bill Gates of Microsoft.

Fallout from Controversial Acquisition Continues

The Autonomy deal was one of the largest British technology deals that was supposed to boost HP’s software segment. Rather, it gave rise to a chain of cruel and costly court proceedings, as reported by Reuters.

Lynch and Hussain were found liable for the defamation in a civil trial in London in 2022, though the amount of the damages remains unconcluded. The company is requesting 4 billion US Dollars in total funding.

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