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Biden Urged to Take COVID-19 Test with Public Disclosure of Results

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President Biden keeps pushing back.

He’s not going anywhere, he defiantly insists, and claims he feels just fine.

But I’ve been hearing from doctors who saw Biden muddle through the June 27 debate and think he’s anything but fine. One of them told me he’s certain Biden is suffering from a movement disorder for which there is no cure.

A diagnosis by someone who has not examined a patient is speculative. But the shared view among the doctors who contacted me is that we are not looking at a man who’s simply getting older. We’re looking at a man with a serious medical condition.

California is about to be hit by an aging population wave, and Steve Lopez is riding it. His column focuses on the blessings and burdens of advancing age — and how some folks are challenging the stigma associated with older adults.

In a recent column, I wrote that no one can accurately diagnose dementia from afar. But doctors tell me neurological movement disorders can be easier to detect.

“Every physician I have spoken to agrees that Biden has classic symptoms of Parkinson’s,” one of the doctors said.

Another noted the “masked face, blank expression, stopping as he shuffles along, soft, hoarse speech and stiff arms as he walks — all Parkinson’s.”

Two additional responses were of particular interest because they came from neurologists with decades of experience. So on Monday, just after the New York Times reported that a Parkinson’s specialist visited the White House eight times in eight months, I called them.

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“When I was watching the debate,” said Dr. Michael Mahler, who’s on the UCLA faculty, “there were clues to me” that Biden, 81, was probably dealing with more than the normal challenges of aging.

The first sign for Mahler was “the way he walked onto the stage, with a very stiff gait. Normally, the way people walk, they swing their arms, and he didn’t have much arm swing. Then, watching and listening to him, he had … almost no facial expression…. His blink rate was really, really low, and he had very few other movements.”

Mahler noted Biden’s muffled speech as well. He said he couldn’t make a definitive diagnosis without a full physical, lab work, medication history and a five- to six-hour neurological battery of tests. But he said that what he saw were symptoms in the “Parkinsonian” paradigm.

Dr. Jack Florin, a Fullerton neurologist who’s been practicing medicine for 50 years, told me he has noticed signs of an advancing movement disorder in Biden for several years, and they were accentuated during the debate.

For Florin, there’s no doubt what’s going on: He thinks Biden has a Parkinson’s variant called progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). He noted that singer Linda Ronstadt has the same condition, as did the late actor Dudley Moore.

“When you have PSP, your eye movements are not normal,” Florin said. “You’re looking down and you have difficulty moving your eyes from side to side. People with PSP have what’s called a fixed stare, and it looked like he was just staring, because his eyes were not moving.”

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Over the course of his career, Florin said, he’s had hundreds of PSP patients. In Biden, he said, other telling symptoms included “low volume and rapid speech with loss of normal rhythm,” as well as “episodes of sudden forced eye closure,” also known as blepharospasm.

A man, seen from behind, sits facing two men in suits standing at lecterns across from each other

Dr. Michael Mahler, a UCLA faculty member, said that during the June 27 debate, shown in a screenshot from “L.A. Times Today,” he saw “clues” that President Biden might be dealing with more than the normal challenges of aging.

In Biden’s stiff gait, Florin saw another clue.

“He doesn’t have idiopathic Parkinson’s. That’s the most common type. People are stooped, often they have a tremor, and usually it’s on one side more than another. He doesn’t have that,” Florin said.

In his opinion, Biden has PSP, which is “progressive, incurable and untreatable…. As it gets worse, postural instability is the main problem, and there’s a risk of falls. After a while, patients cannot safely walk. A cane or walker won’t really help, because you can fall over backwards. As the disease gets severely worse, you’re mainly confined to a wheelchair.”

Two other doctors who contacted me did not rule out the possibility that Biden’s problems during the debate could have been caused — at least partially — by the side effects of medication.

“I certainly couldn’t diagnose him,” said Dr. Laura Mosqueda, a USC geriatrician who worries that people will incorrectly make the diagnosis that the president’s problem is his age, even though the world has no shortage of fully functioning people far older than Biden. “I don’t care if it’s 81, 61 or 41. I don’t think this is about his age. It’s about — does he have a medical problem we ought to be aware of?”

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And that’s the right question.

Just four months shy of election day, the presidential election comes down to a choice between someone we know and someone we don’t know.

Trump, we know, and many people consider him the greater threat to the republic. And it’s no surprise that readers keep asking me why he’s not the candidate whose party wants to put him out to pasture.

Biden, we used to know, but a stranger is now wearing his suits.

He owes it to voters and his own party to undergo a full physical, cognitive and neurological workup and to make the results public. If there’s a problem, it needs to be addressed, with courage and transparency.

For his sake, and ours.

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Burkina Faso Outlaws “Homosexuality and Related Behaviors” as Africa’s Coup Belt Shifts from Western Influence

burkina faso niger 2160141808

Johannesburg – The military junta that seized power in Burkina Faso less than two years ago announced a law Wednesday criminalizing homosexuality. Justice Minister Edasso Rodrigue Bayalawas quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. It makes the West African nation the latest of the continent’s 54 countries to follow a trend in banning same-sex relations. There are now only 21 African nations that do not explicitly prohibit same-sex relations. Uganda imposed the continent’s most severe laws in May.

Brenda Biya, the daughter of Cameroon’s President Paul Biya, came out as a lesbian in a post on her Instagram account last week, posting a photo of her kissing her girlfriend and saying: “I’m crazy about you and want the world to know.”

“There are plenty of people in the same situation as me who suffer because of who they are,” she said. “If I can give them hope, help them feel less alone, if I can send love, I’m happy.”

Her father has been president of Cameroon since 1982 and has not changed the country’s anti-LGBTQ laws, which have been in place since before he was sworn in. Brenda Biya told the French newspaper Le Parisien her parents were unaware of her sexuality and that she made the post without their knowledge, adding they had since asked her to delete it. She does not live in the country.

Disinformation in Africa’s coup belt

General Michael Langley, Commander of the U.S. Military’s Africa Command, voiced concern in a phone briefing with journalists at the end of June about the rapid slide of West Africa, a volatile region plagued by security and misinformation challenges, away from democratic values.

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“There’s a strong link between the scope of disinformation and instability,” Langley said. “Getting the truth out there to counter disinformation is essential… Disinformation campaigns have directly driven deadly violence, promoted and validated military coups, and also cowed civil society members into silence.”

The Sahel, region in Africa between Sahara and Sudanian savanna, political map
A map shows the Sahel region stretching across the northern African continent.
Getty/iStockphoto

The volatility Langley was referring to has been apparent across what’s become known as Africa’s coup belt.

First, there was Mali, where a military coup toppled the government in August 2021. Then Burkina Faso fell to military rulers in a September 2022 coup. Niger’s government was overthrown by generals in July 2023.

Common history, and a new alliance

The three countries have a considerable amount in common.

They are still governed by military coup leaders. None has held elections since the uprisings. All three share common borders, a common French colonial history — and rising anti-Western sentiment, both in their leadership and their populations.

Niger U.S. troops
Young boys gather on top of a car, displaying the flags of Niger, Burkina Faso and Russia, during a demonstration demanding the immediate departure of U.S. soldiers from Niger, in Niamey, April 13, 2024.
AFP via Getty

The three nations also face the same threats of violent extremism: Armed groups including ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliates have been fighting to gain territory in recent years in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

Perhaps from these commonalities, an alliance was born: The Alliance of Sahel States was formed in September 2024 in the wake of these three countries asserting their independence from former colonial ruler France. They all left the regional ECOWAS bloc of nations and, in September, they signed the Liptako-Gourma Charter, the first of a few agreements that amount to a new defense pact between them.

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The three coup leaders declared their new partnership a tool to form alliances with other countries that have not yet “exploited” their own resources. Some took that as a nod, if not an invitation, to nations such as Russia and Iran, where anti-Western sentiment has also been stoked by leaders for years.

Russia, in particular, has sought to extend its influence in Africa by investing in partnerships that often see security forces offered in exchange for access to natural resources.




How Russia’s Wagner mercenary group exploits Africa for funding
03:16

“I think it’s important that our African partners understand that what the Russians are offering is, maybe regime protection — it’s certainly not national security,” U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Virginia Palmer told CBS News in May. “What those countries are paying for that is extraordinarily high in terms of treasure. You know, young men and women’s lives, and mining concessions, all those kinds of things. … The Russians are very transactional, and U.S. partnership is about development and security, and it’s a real partnership, and I think those are very stark differences.”

The members of the Sahel alliance have made it clear already that they view Western interests very differently, however.

“Westerners consider that we belong to them, and our wealth belongs to them,” Mali’s post-coup leader Colonel Assimi Goita, who was chosen to lead the new coalition of states from the Sahel, a vast region that stretches across Africa, was quoted as saying. “This era is gone forever, our resources will remain for us.”

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NIGER-BURKINA-MALI-POLITICS-DIPLOMACY-COUP
The head of head of Niger’s military government General Abdourahamane Tiani (C), Malian Colonel Assimi Goita (3rd R) and Burkina Faso’s Captain Ibrahim Traore (2nd R) arrive ahead of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) summit in Niamey, Niger, July 6, 2024.
AFP via Getty

At the group’s first summit last week, the partners ruled out returning to the nearly 50-year-old ECOWAS bloc, which has worked with the U.S. and other Western nations, and accused it of failing to curb the violence spreading across West Africa.

The West’s eviction from West African nations

As the leaders met last week, the U.S. announced that it had pulled the last of its military personnel and hardware out of one its two bases in Niger, this one outside the capital, Niamey.

Sources tell CBS News the rest of the roughly 1,000 troops the U.S. had based in Niger, and its remaining equipment, will be pulled out of the $110 million Agadez drone base by the end of August, before the complete U.S. withdrawal from the country is completed in September.

TOPSHOT-NIGER-BURKINA-MALI-POLITICS-DIPLOMACY-COUP
The head of head of Niger’s military government General Abdourahamane Tiani (C), Malian Colonel Assimi Goita (L) and Burkina Faso’s Captain Ibrahim Traore (R) show the documents of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), which they signed during their first summit in Niamey, Niger, July 6, 2024.
AFP via Getty

Niger’s leaders ordered the American forces to leave the country late last year. French troops left Niger and Burkina Faso in 2023, and Mali in 2022.

One U.S. defense official told CBS News the U.S. has longstanding relationships with all three of the Sahel alliance countries and that, while the current situation is “less than ideal,” the U.S. is in it for the long haul because both the region and the entire continent are too important for American interests to ignore.

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