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Israel Delays All-Out Assault On Gaza Amid Growing International Pressure, As Civilians Flee To South

Israel Delays All-Out Assault On Gaza Amid Growing International Pressure, As Civilians Flee To South

Update(1710ET): International pressure,…

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Israel Delays All-Out Assault On Gaza Amid Growing International Pressure, As Civilians Flee To South

Update(1710ET): International pressure, including from the United States, for Israel to allow more time for Palestinian civilian evacuations of the northern half of Gaza Strip has grown. There appears to be some level of delay at this moment on the part of Israel's military. Currently, there's widespread expectation that Al Awda Hospital is about to be bombed, but Israel has extended an earlier 2-hour evacuation warning and deadline, it appears

The humanitarion organization had previously said they were given only two hours two evacuate. They now say the order has been extended to 6am local (03 GMT). “The evacuation of patients remains complicated,” the organisation said on X

Hamas as well as Palestinian media have alleged that Israeli forces have killed some 70 men, women, and children as they were trying to flee to safety. There has been no response from the Israeli government regarding these specific allegations.

An Israeli i24 News anchor has also posted the following allegation:

i24 has also highlighted the following new to emerge video from the Saturday music festival massacre by Hamas:

* * *

Update(1425ET): Fears of an imminent all-out ground and aerial assault are growing, after one of northern Gaza's main hospitals has sent out an SOS message. Hospital officials say they've been given two hours to evacuate. The WHO has decried this as life-threatening for patients there:

A Gaza activist organization describes of the hospital

Al Awda Hospital, established in 1997, is the first-line hospital in the Gaza Strip and provides health services to all inhabitants in the northern part of the region. Al Awda is the main provider of maternity services in the northern part of the Gaza Strip and is the only provider of Fluoroscopy services. It is also authorized as an educational hospital from some universities in the Gaza Strip to train nursing students.

But where will they go?

A man brings an injured baby into Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza following an Israeli airstrike Wednesday, AFP/Getty Images

Over 40 US lawmakers in the House have sent an urgent letter to President Biden:

More than 40 U.S. lawmakers urged the Biden administration to push Israel to follow international law amid Israel's looming military campaign in Gaza and to establish a humanitarian corridor.

“We are deeply concerned about the order to evacuate over a million civilians out of northern Gaza and the devastating humanitarian consequences that would ensue,” wrote the House members.

“As both the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights said, imposing a complete siege on Gaza and depriving 2.3 million Palestinian civilians who have nowhere else to go — half of whom are children — of food, water, and electricity, would be a violation of international humanitarian law,” they added.

* * * 

Update(1240ET): As a number of countries, especially regionally (as well as UN representatives), continue calling on Israel's military to halt its impending ground offensive of Gaza given the likelihood for immense civilian casualties, the IDF has announced "localized raids" have begun.

This has included limited incursions into Gaza by infantry and tank units, to both prepare for a broader offensive and in efforts to locate hostages. The IDF said intelligence could be gained by these raids "that may help in the effort to locate the missing."

"The IDF says the troops also killed a number of terrorists in the area, including a Hamas cell that launched anti-tank guided missiles at Israel," Times of Israel reports. "The troops did not enter deep into Gaza."

The IDF further said the infantry has already "thwarted anti-tank guided missile squads that intended to infiltrate into Israeli territory." A statement added: "The forces located findings that may help in the effort to locate the missing."

"We will continue to make every effort to find every detail about the missing and hostages," a spokesman said of the anywhere between 100 to up to 200 people taken hostage in the weekend Hamas raids into southern Israel.

To the north, fighting along the border with Lebanon continues to intensify. Israel has shelled locations in southern Lebanon, reportedly resulting in casualties among journalists, including a Reuters team. This has been confirmed by Reuters in a new statement:

We are deeply saddened to learn that our videographer, Issam Abdallah, has been killed. Issam was part of a Reuters crew in southern Lebanon who was providing a live signal. Our thoughts are with their families at this terrible time.

Footage from today's IDF aerial campaign over Gaza:

The IDF has further confirmed growing military action at the Lebanese border: "An IDF UAV is currently striking terrorist targets belonging to Hezbollah in Lebanon," a spokesman said.

The Pentagon has meanwhile confirmed departure of the first evacuation flights of US citizens out of Israel:

FIRST US CHARTER FLIGHT HAS DEPARTED FROM ISRAEL: KIRBY

And a new White House statement:

WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN KIRBY THERE IS NO SPECIFIC INTELLIGENCE INDICATING THREAT TO U.S. STEMMING FROM HAMAS ATTACK

* * *

Starting about six to eight hours ago, Israel's military began announcing that all Palestinian civilians in Gaza have 24 hours to evacuate from the north of the strip to the south. Leaflets are also being mass airdropped over the area. The northern part of Gaza constitutes over one million people, out of a total Gaza population of 2.3 million, all in the densely packed and blockaded strip of land.

"The IDF calls for the evacuation of all civilians of Gaza City from their homes southwards for their own safety and protection and move to the area south of the Wadi Gaza, as shown on the map," the Israel Defense Forces alert said. Israel has mobilized some 300,000 reservists and has been engaged in a large-military build-up in the south of the country, readying a presumed major ground assault. 

"Hamas terrorists are hiding in Gaza City inside tunnels underneath houses and inside buildings populated with innocent Gazan civilians," the warning said additionally. "Civilians of Gaza City, evacuate south for your own safety and the safety of your families and distance yourself from Hamas terrorists who are using you as human shields."

"You must evacuate your homes immediately and go to the south of Wadi Gaza," leaflets in Arabic being dropped over Gaza City read. Wadi Gaza is about 8 miles southeast of the city center.

The IDF is now claiming that Hamas is preventing civilians from evacuating. Hamas did issue a call for Palestinians to say in their homes and not heed the Israeli 'propaganda' campaign and "psychological war" being waged.

Hamas urges residence to "remain steadfast in your homes and to stand firm in the face of this disgusting psychological war waged by the occupation," AP reports. Gazans say they have nowhere to go, also after the lone Raffah border crossing with Egypt has at this point been bombed multiple times.

An injured child inside al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. Image: Middle East Eye

So far, the United Nations says that at least 400,000 Gazans have already been displaced. At over 1,500 Palestinians killed and over 6,600 wounded, it's already a humanitarian disaster in the making, also with possibly between 100 and 150 Israeli and foreign hostages still being held by Hamas somewhere in the strip or in underground tunnels. 

The UN has been urging Israel to rescind its evacuation order for Gazans, urging restraint

A U.N. spokesman in New York estimated that there are 1.1 million people in northern Gaza—about half of the strip’s total population—and urged Israel to rescind its announcement to avoid "a calamitous situation."

Critics of Israel's policy say this could be the start of a deliberate mass displacement of Palestinians and an ethnic cleansing campaign. The IDF has shot back that Hamas is using Gazans as human shields:

But the US and others are standing by Israel as this all unfolds. "This is no time for neutrality, or false equivalence, or for excuses for the inexcusable. There is never any justification for terrorism, and that is especially true after this rampage by Hamas," US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in fresh statements while meeting with Israeli leaders in Tel Aviv. "Hamas does not speak for the Palestinian people."

"The world has just witnessed a great evil," he added of the terror attacks of Saturday into Sunday, which left some 1,300 Israelis and foreigners dead (also from the rocket attacks).

"Make no mistake. The US will make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself," Austin said, further agreeing with Netanyahu that "Hamas is ISIS" - as the Israeli talking point has been asserting.

Air raid sirens have been blaring in northern Israel as of Friday afternoon, also as southern towns have continued to face rockets fired from Gaza. Also heavy clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli police have been reported in West Bank towns.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/13/2023 - 17:10

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Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide…

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Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide Black Lives Matter riots in the summer of 2020, some elite colleges and universities shredded testing requirements for admission. Several years later, the test-optional admission has yet to produce the promising results for racial and class-based equity that many woke academic institutions wished.

The failure of test-optional admission policies has forced Dartmouth College to reinstate standardized test scores for admission starting next year. This should never have been eliminated, as merit will always prevail. 

"Nearly four years later, having studied the role of testing in our admissions process as well as its value as a predictor of student success at Dartmouth, we are removing the extended pause and reactivating the standardized testing requirement for undergraduate admission, effective with the Class of 2029," Dartmouth wrote in a press release Monday morning. 

"For Dartmouth, the evidence supporting our reactivation of a required testing policy is clear. Our bottom line is simple: we believe a standardized testing requirement will improve—not detract from—our ability to bring the most promising and diverse students to our campus," the elite college said. 

Who would've thought eliminating standardized tests for admission because a fringe minority said they were instruments of racism and a biased system was ever a good idea? 

Also, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. More from Dartmouth, who commissioned the research: 

They also found that test scores represent an especially valuable tool to identify high-achieving applicants from low and middle-income backgrounds; who are first-generation college-bound; as well as students from urban and rural backgrounds.

All the colleges and universities that quickly adopted test-optional admissions in 2020 experienced a surge in applications. Perhaps the push for test-optional was under the guise of woke equality but was nothing more than protecting the bottom line for these institutions. 

A glimpse of sanity returns to woke schools: Admit qualified kids. Next up is corporate America and all tiers of the US government. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/05/2024 - 17:20

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Four burning questions about the future of the $16.5B Novo-Catalent deal

To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.
Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand…

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To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.

Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand its own production capacity for its weight loss drugs, the Danish drugmaker said Monday it will pay $11 billion to acquire three manufacturing plants from Catalent. It’s part of a broader $16.5 billion deal with Novo Holdings, the investment arm of the pharma’s parent group, which agreed to acquire the contract manufacturer and take it private.

It’s a big deal for all parties, with potential ripple effects across the biotech ecosystem. Here’s a look at some of the most pressing questions to watch after Monday’s announcement.

Why did Novo do this?

Novo Holdings isn’t the most obvious buyer for Catalent, particularly after last year’s on-and-off M&A interest from the serial acquirer Danaher. But the deal could benefit both Novo Holdings and Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk’s biggest challenge has been simply making enough of the weight loss drug Wegovy and diabetes therapy Ozempic. On last week’s earnings call, Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said the company isn’t constrained by capital in its efforts to boost manufacturing. Rather, the main challenge is the limited amount of capabilities out there, he said.

“Most pharmaceutical companies in the world would be shopping among the same manufacturers,” he said. “There’s not an unlimited amount of machinery and people to build it.”

While Novo was already one of Catalent’s major customers, the manufacturer has been hamstrung by its own balance sheet. With roughly $5 billion in debt on its books, it’s had to juggle paying down debt with sufficiently investing in its facilities. That’s been particularly challenging in keeping pace with soaring demand for GLP-1 drugs.

Novo, on the other hand, has the balance sheet to funnel as much money as needed into the plants in Italy, Belgium, and Indiana. It’s also struggled to make enough of its popular GLP-1 drugs to meet their soaring demand, with documented shortages of both Ozempic and Wegovy.

The impact won’t be immediate. The parties expect the deal to close near the end of 2024. Novo Nordisk said it expects the three new sites to “gradually increase Novo Nordisk’s filling capacity from 2026 and onwards.”

As for the rest of Catalent — nearly 50 other sites employing thousands of workers — Novo Holdings will take control. The group previously acquired Altasciences in 2021 and Ritedose in 2022, so the Catalent deal builds on a core investing interest in biopharma services, Novo Holdings CEO Kasim Kutay told Endpoints News.

Kasim Kutay

When asked about possible site closures or layoffs, Kutay said the team hasn’t thought about that.

“That’s not our track record. Our track record is to invest in quality businesses and help them grow,” he said. “There’s always stuff to do with any asset you own, but we haven’t bought this company to do some of the stuff you’re talking about.”

What does it mean for Catalent’s customers? 

Until the deal closes, Catalent will operate as a standalone business. After it closes, Novo Nordisk said it will honor its customer obligations at the three sites, a spokesperson said. But they didn’t answer a question about what happens when those contracts expire.

The wrinkle is the long-term future of the three plants that Novo Nordisk is paying for. Those sites don’t exclusively pump out Wegovy, but that could be the logical long-term aim for the Danish drugmaker.

The ideal scenario is that pricing and timelines remain the same for customers, said Nicole Paulk, CEO of the gene therapy startup Siren Biotechnology.

Nicole Paulk

“The name of the group that you’re going to send your check to is now going to be Novo Holdings instead of Catalent, but otherwise everything remains the same,” Paulk told Endpoints. “That’s the best-case scenario.”

In a worst case, Paulk said she feared the new owners could wind up closing sites or laying off Catalent groups. That could create some uncertainty for customers looking for a long-term manufacturing partner.

Are shareholders and regulators happy? 

The pandemic was a wild ride for Catalent’s stock, with shares surging from about $40 to $140 and then crashing back to earth. The $63.50 share price for the takeover is a happy ending depending on the investor.

On that point, the investing giant Elliott Investment Management is satisfied. Marc Steinberg, a partner at Elliott, called the agreement “an outstanding outcome” that “clearly maximizes value for Catalent stockholders” in a statement.

Elliott helped kick off a strategic review last August that culminated in the sale agreement. Compared to Catalent’s stock price before that review started, the deal pays a nearly 40% premium.

Alessandro Maselli

But this is hardly a victory lap for CEO Alessandro Maselli, who took over in July 2022 when Catalent’s stock price was north of $100. Novo’s takeover is a tacit acknowledgment that Maselli could never fully right the ship, as operational problems plagued the company throughout 2023 while it was limited by its debt.

Additional regulatory filings in the next few weeks could give insight into just how competitive the sale process was. William Blair analysts said they don’t expect a competing bidder “given the organic investments already being pursued at other leading CDMOs and the breadth and scale of Catalent’s operations.”

The Blair analysts also noted the companies likely “expect to spend some time educating relevant government agencies” about the deal, given the lengthy closing timeline. Given Novo Nordisk’s ascent — it’s now one of Europe’s most valuable companies — paired with the limited number of large contract manufacturers, antitrust regulators could be interested in taking a close look.

Are Catalent’s problems finally a thing of the past?

Catalent ran into a mix of financial and operational problems over the past year that played no small part in attracting the interest of an activist like Elliott.

Now with a deal in place, how quickly can Novo rectify those problems? Some of the challenges were driven by the demands of being a publicly traded company, like failing to meet investors’ revenue expectations or even filing earnings reports on time.

But Catalent also struggled with its business at times, with a range of manufacturing delays, inspection reports and occasionally writing down acquisitions that didn’t pan out. Novo’s deep pockets will go a long way to a turnaround, but only the future will tell if all these issues are fixed.

Kutay said his team is excited by the opportunity and was satisfied with the due diligence it did on the company.

“We believe we’re buying a strong company with a good management team and good prospects,” Kutay said. “If that wasn’t the case, I don’t think we’d be here.”

Amber Tong and Reynald Castañeda contributed reporting.

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Petrina Kamya, Ph.D., Head of AI Platforms at Insilico Medicine, presents at BIO CEO & Investor Conference

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb….

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Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

Credit: Insilico Medicine

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

The session will look at how the latest artificial intelligence (AI) tools – including generative AI and large language models – are currently being used to advance the discovery and design of new drugs, and which technologies are still in development. 

The BIO CEO & Investor Conference brings together over 1,000 attendees and more than 700 companies across industry and institutional investment to discuss the future investment landscape of biotechnology. Sessions focus on topics such as therapeutic advancements, market outlook, and policy priorities.

Insilico Medicine is a leading, clinical stage AI-driven drug discovery company that has raised over $400m in investments since it was founded in 2014. Dr. Kamya leads the development of the Company’s end-to-end generative AI platform, Pharma.AI from Insilico’s AI R&D Center in Montreal. Using modern machine learning techniques in the context of chemistry and biology, the platform has driven the discovery and design of 30+ new therapies, with five in clinical stages – for cancer, fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and COVID-19. The Company’s lead drug, for the chronic, rare lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is the first AI-designed drug for an AI-discovered target to reach Phase II clinical trials with patients. Nine of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies have used Insilico’s AI platform to advance their programs, and the Company has a number of major strategic licensing deals around its AI-designed therapeutic assets, including with Sanofi, Exelixis and Menarini. 

 

About Insilico Medicine

Insilico Medicine, a global clinical stage biotechnology company powered by generative AI, is connecting biology, chemistry, and clinical trials analysis using next-generation AI systems. The company has developed AI platforms that utilize deep generative models, reinforcement learning, transformers, and other modern machine learning techniques for novel target discovery and the generation of novel molecular structures with desired properties. Insilico Medicine is developing breakthrough solutions to discover and develop innovative drugs for cancer, fibrosis, immunity, central nervous system diseases, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and aging-related diseases. www.insilico.com 


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