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The pancreatic cancer that claimed Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday at the age of 87 was the final chapter in a long battle with the disease.
Her final year on the bench was punctuated with medical issues, but she publicly remained upbeat and optimistic through a series of infections, a fall that broke several ribs and the recurrence of cancer. As recently as July she said she was “encouraged by the success of my current treatment.“
Ginsburg was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999 and underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
No further signs of cancer appeared until 2009, when doctors discovered a 1-centimeter lesion on her pancreas during a routine checkup. That lump turned out to be benign, but another, smaller tumor was discovered during surgery. That one was cancerous, but it was early-stage and had not yet spread.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-most fatal form of the disease in the United States, accounting for about 7% of deaths and about 3% of cases, according to the American Cancer Society. Localized pancreatic cancer has a five-year survival rate of 37%.
Ginsburg went on to beat the odds. Her 2009 surgery was considered successful. She underwent a course of chemotherapy she described as “precautionary” and said it would not affect her work on the bench.
In November 2018, Ginsburg fell in her office and broke three ribs. Follow-up tests turned up two malignant nodules in her left lung. A surgeon removed the lower lobe of the lung. Scans done before the surgery found no further signs of cancer.
Blood tests the following July found signs that the pancreatic malignancy had returned. She received radiation therapy in August and a stent was inserted into her bile duct as part of the treatment. No other signs of cancer were found.
“She canceled her annual summer visit to Santa Fe, but has otherwise maintained an active schedule,” a statement from the Court said.
This January she told CNN, “I’m cancer free. That’s good.”
Hospital trips earlier this year had raised concerns, but Ginsberg said they were unrelated. In May doctors removed a gallstone, and on July 14 an infection blocking the bile duct stent was cleaned out.
Three days after the bile duct procedure, she issued a statement with grimmer news. She had been undergoing chemotherapy. The cancer was back.
Doctors had found cancerous lesions on her liver in February, she said. Immunotherapy had failed, but chemotherapy was looking promising.
“My most recent scan on July 7 indicated significant reduction of the liver lesions and no new disease,” she said. “I am tolerating chemotherapy well and am encouraged by the success of my current treatment.”
She continued working through her treatment.
“I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam. I remain fully able to do that,” she wrote in her July 17 statement in a final burst of optimism before she died Friday.
“We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement. “Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”
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An Iranian political prisoner who has been beaten multiple times by security agents to the point of needing to use a wheelchair has been beaten again for complaining about his treatment, according to his lawyer.
Speaking to VOA Persian from Iran on Monday, lawyer Ali Sharifzadeh said his client Khaled Pirzadeh had been beaten earlier in the day by an officer of Greater Tehran Penitentiary, where Pirzadeh has been serving a sentence for alleged national security offenses.
Sharifzadeh said Pirzadeh had complained about a plan by security guards to transfer him to another part of the prison, prompting a guard to retaliate by striking the dissident on the knee.
The lawyer said his client had not yet fully recovered from a recent knee surgery to repair damage from a previous beating and had accused the guard of striking the repaired knee deliberately.
Authorities had allowed Pirzadeh to have the knee surgery at a private hospital outside prison last month but forced him to pay for the procedure himself.
Sharifzadeh said his client now needs additional medical treatment for the reinjured knee. He also posted a Twitter message about the latest beating, saying he advised Pirzadeh to file a complaint about it.
خالد پیرزاده امروز در زندان تهران بزرگ بشدت توسط افسر نگهبان بنام شاملی مورد ضرب و شتم قرار گرفت ، البته توصیه کردم حتما شکایت کند .
— alisharifzadeh (@alisharifzade16) September 14, 2020
Speaking to VOA, Sharifzadeh said the security officer who carried out the apparent beating must be disciplined. “He has no right to assault prisoners,” the lawyer said.
VOA could not independently verify the lawyer’s account.
Iranian state media have been silent about Pirzadeh’s case.
Pirzadeh was arrested in early 2019, accused of writing anti-government slogans, according to Sharifzadeh. After a trial in which the dissident had no access to a lawyer, he was sentenced in May 2019 to five years in prison on charges of assembly and collusion against national security and insulting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iranian human rights activists previously reported that Pirzadeh was beaten while being detained in 2019 and beaten again in July this year while authorities transferred him from Tehran’s Evin prison to Greater Tehran Penitentiary. Sharifzadeh said the prison transfer was an additional form punishment against his client.
A relative of Pirzadeh also previously told VOA Persian that the July beating caused the dissident to suffer a loss of bladder control and to need a wheelchair for using the bathroom.
Sharifzadeh said it appears some prison officers are trying to intimidate political prisoners through beatings.
“Lawyers of such prisoners also are under pressure in Iran,” he said. “When they publicize information about their clients, security organizations can cause problems for them.”
Iran has detained several human rights defenders in recent years and charged them with national security offenses in relation to their legal work.
One of Iran’s most prominent jailed lawyers is Nasrin Sotoudeh, who began her second hunger strike of this year on August 11 to protest Iran’s treatment of political prisoners, according to her husband. She has been jailed at Evin prison since June 2018 for defending Iranian women who were detained for removing their compulsory hijabs in public defiance of Iran’s ruling clerics.
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The Trump administration issued a sweeping ban Friday that will begin barring downloads and use of the Chinese-owned mobile apps WeChat and TikTok from U.S. app stores as of midnight Sunday. The announcement is the latest escalation in America’s tech fight with China.
Officials from the U.S. Commerce Department cited national security and data privacy concerns over the move to ban the two popular internet platforms that serve more than 100 million people in the United States.
Starting Monday, both apps will be removed from app stores and users will not be able to download the apps to their phones. For users who have the apps already installed, they will not be able to receive updates to the platforms. This restriction will quickly make the app obsolete on smartphones, as the inability to update will make it incompatible with Apple and Google smartphone software, which currently dominate the tech market.
The order includes moves to render WeChat useless within the United States by banning American companies from hosting internet traffic or processing transactions from within the app as of midnight Sunday.
WeChat serves millions of U.S. users who predominantly rely on the app to stay in touch and conduct business with people and companies in China.
Like most social networking sites, both TikTok and WeChat collect user data, including location and messages to track what kind of targeted ad content is most applicable to them.
As of now, TikTok will escape the most drastic sanctions until similar restrictions go into effect November 12 unless the company is able to resolve the administration’s national security concerns by the deadline. The order follows weeks of wrangling with the company, which recently struck a deal with U.S.-based software maker Oracle, the details of which have yet to be announced.
The app, which has become especially popular among younger users, has proved useful in some political contexts, including for mischief.
TikTok users made headlines earlier this year by working to inflate the expected turnout for a rally President Donald Trump held in Tulsa, Oklahoma — and making the actual attendance seem especially low by comparison.
The deadline to comply with restrictions falls just after the November 3 presidential election in the United States.
Prior to striking the deal, representatives of TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, were in talks with Microsoft. The partnership between Microsoft and ByteDance fell through earlier this month after reports estimated that the company would shell out up to $30 billion for the acquisition of the app.
“We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users, while protecting national security interests,” Microsoft said in a blog post Sunday. “We would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety and combating disinformation, and we made these principles clear in our August statement.”
The move to ban the use of the apps in the United States follows an August 6 executive order by Trump, in which he argued that TikTok and WeChat collect data from American users that could be accessed by the Chinese government. Over the past several weeks, Trump has pressured the app’s owner to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to a domestic company to satisfy these concerns.
TikTok spokesman John Gartner said in a statement that the company is “disappointed” by the move and that it would continue to challenge the “unjust executive order.”
The American Civil Liberties Union denounced the move as well, saying that the order is an infringement on Americans’ rights to free expression.
While the Trump administration has accused the apps of collecting data used by the Chinese government to surveil Americans, the government has not provided specific evidence to support the allegations.
ByteDance has repeatedly denied that it has partnered with the Chinese government to siphon U.S. user information.
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