Inovio Drops After U.S. Cuts Off Funding; Short Sellers Gain


(Bloomberg) — Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. sank as much as 29% Friday after the U.S. government pulled funding for its Covid-19 vaccine research, a vindication for short sellers who have been amassing positions in the biotech stock.

Bears betting against Inovio are set to reap nearly $160 million from Friday’s plunge alone, quintupling their $40 million in profits year-to-date, according to Ihor Dusaniwsky, S3 Partners managing director of predictive analytics. It shares closed 25% lower to $6.85, the steepest decline since Sept. 28.

Issues with a key supplier, development delays including a partial hold on testing from the Food and Drug Administration and the abundance of Covid-19 vaccine supplies in the U.S. have hurt the advancement of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania-based Inovio’s shot. Add to that Friday’s news that the Department of Defense will curtail funding for its late-stage vaccine trial because of the broad availability of other shots.

“The decision results from the changing environment of Covid-19 with the rapid deployment of vaccines,” the government agency said, according to Inovio’s statement released earlier. “This decision is not a reflection of the awardee or product, rather a fast-moving environment associated with the former Operation Warp Speed on decisions related to future products.”

The case of Inovio is among the few recent examples where short sellers betting against a company’s success have paid off. More broadly, hedge funds have elected to side-step placing bearish bets to avoid getting hammered by the rise of Reddit-fueled rallies and euphoric retail investors.

Despite backlash from Reddit users earlier this year, Citron Capital’s bets against Inovio were the fund’s largest contributor from shorting to a 155% return in 2020, according to a January letter to investors. Citron was far from being the company’s only skeptic, with roughly a third of shares available for trading sold short as of Friday, data compiled by S3 Partners shows. The total short positions stood at $634 million, the data show.

The company will continue to develop its shot through Phase 3 testing, though mostly outside the U.S. “Inovio remains well-positioned to support both pandemic and endemic vaccine needs with INO-4800 and INO-4802,” according to an earlier statement alluding to the company’s Covid-19 shot as well as a vaccine meant to address Covid variants. Inovio declined to comment beyond its initial press release.

Outlook

Analysts were divided on the company’s outlook. Six rate the stock at a hold-equivalent compared to just four who recommended shares to clients while none were sell rated, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Still, the average price target of $15 suggests the shares could more than double from Friday’s level.

With the FDA partial pause on the trial unresolved and following Friday’s setback, Inovio’s “window for success, already narrow, closes a bit more,” Piper Sandler analyst Christopher Raymond wrote in a research note. He has a Wall Street low price target of $7.

“INO-4800 has not been part of our valuation,” he said, referring to the vaccine candidate. “However, talking with investors, it appears the market has concerned itself with little else. Not a great set-up in our view, and given today’s events, we continue to remain on the sidelines.”

(Updates with closing share price in the second paragraph.)

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5 At-home Trackers to Measure Muscle Gain vs. Fat Loss/Gain


Am I gaining muscle or fat? Is it fat loss or muscle loss ? These questions can leave you disappointed if the physical changes are happening and you can’t measure them at home. Maybe it’s time to find a new way to track your progress.

“Tracking precise improvements in body composition can be a challenging task to do at home, especially since at best many of the products and equations that are used to calculate these values are at best very good estimates.” says Jake Harcoff, head coach and owner of AIM Athletic (www.aimathletic.com.)

He further adds, “While they may look a little scary to some people and tend to overestimate, there are some equations which are free and can be done at home to give you at least an idea of muscle mass and body fat percentage.”

  • Step 1: Weigh Yourself
  • Step 2: Calculate your body mass index using this formula
  • [body weight ÷ (height in inches)²] x 703 
  • Step 3: Calculate your body fat %
  • Men: (1.20 x BMI) + (0.23 x Age) – 16.2
  • Women: (1.20 x BMI) + (0.23 x Age) – 5.4 

Nurudeen Tijani, personal trainer, physique athlete and founder of TitaniumPhysique shares his piece of advise for tracking progress.

5 Ways to Calculating Muscle Gain vs. Fat Gain/Loss At Home while on diet and training program:

Use a Body Fat-Caliper

body fat calliper

Take a weekly measurement of your body fat using a fat caliper. The actual result of the fat caliper test is irrelevant. Instead, focus on your week-by-week results to determine whether you are gaining or losing fat. For example, if you measure 18% body fat or BF (Week #1) and 16% BF (Week #2), this indicates decreased body fat. As such, any weight gain during this time is mostly muscle gain, not fat gain.

Use a Bodyweight Scale

You can use a bodyweight scale combined with a body fat-caliper to track muscle gain vs fat loss progress. To accomplish this, you need to weigh yourself twice a week to determine your approximate weight. For example, weigh yourself Sunday night before bed and upon waking Monday morning. Then weigh yourself again, Monday night and Tuesday morning. The average of the four weight measurements should give you a reliable estimate of your actual weight.

If your week-by-week weight measurement is going up while your BF measurement decreases, you are gaining muscle weight, not fat.

Use a Tape Measure

fat gene

The waist is often a problem spot, and most people tend to accumulate fat in the waist, hips or thighs. To track fat gain/loss progress, take a weekly measurement of your waistline with a tape measure.

As you continue to implement your diet and muscle training program, your waist measurement should decrease week by week.

Use a Mirror

The abdominals offer a quick and easy way to measure fat loss progress visually. You can do a quick abs check in the morning upon waking up. If your abs are becoming more visible upon waking in the morning, you are losing fat.

Take Progress Photos

LOSING FAT

A person’s age, sex and genetics can influence where fat is stored in their body. While someone may accumulate fat in their hips, waist, or thighs, another person may gain fat in their chest or arms (triceps). These “trouble spots” are the last place most people will notice fat loss.

When you take and compare progress photos, you may notice fat loss in some parts of your body but not your trouble spots; this is an encouraging sign of fat loss progress. For best results with progress photos, take weekly front, side and rear shots for comparison.

If you’re training regularly, you can trust the fact that your body is changing. Your heart is learning to work more efficiently, your circulation is getting better.

Disclaimer
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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Big Brother is coming: ‘Vaccine passport can not be allowed to gain momentum’



Sky News host Alan Jones says the idea of a vaccine passport “cannot be allowed to gain momentum” stating in the last 15 months, we have seen an “extraordinary erosion of our fundamental freedoms”.

“There is loose talk which can’t be allowed to become anything more than that about vaccine passports,” he said.

“In other words, you can’t get on a plane, you can’t shop, you can’t go where you want to go unless you have proof of vaccination.

“I have warned since the beginning of all of this against the massive erosions of our freedoms. In many ways, we are all too busy trying to get on with our lives.

“If people in a certain precinct are unvaccinated, could they be declared a risk to public health? Could this be the extension of the vaccine passport idea? And where do our basic freedoms stand in relation to this?

“We have seen, in the last 15 months, an extraordinary erosion of fundamental freedoms. We learned early on in life, once bitten, twice shy. Beware lest big brother comes after us again. Vaccine passports; no.”

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Millennial expectations: four key tips to gain buy-in


We “all know” that millennials enter the workplace with a different worldview and expectations. But oftentimes, businesses don’t stop to ask themselves the “what” or the “why”. Instead, expecting younger employees to simply integrate into existing business culture and ways of working.

The
problem with this approach, are the assumptions that are created. That all
employees work the same way. That all employees want the same thing out of
their workplace, or job. That new hire will comply with the status quo of how
things are done, regardless of whether it truly “fits” their values, wants, or
need.

Assumptions that are problematic and damaging. Especially when you consider how this translates on a day-to-day basis within an organisation. We don’t need to look very far to see the impacts that our jobs or workplaces have on us – both personally and professionally.  Declines in productivity, performance, and culture. Declines in wellbeing and mental health.  

When we consider that millennials will make up to 75 per cent of the global workforce in the next five years, the criticality of understanding this generation becomes clear. They will be driving and shaping the growth of organisations and will be in control of creating impact and change. Which is why, going back to the original point – understanding the “what” and the “why” – will be imperative to business.

Millennials are a unique generation; the challenges they face are different from their parents, grandparents, and generations to come. On face value, one could say all generations experience challenges – and they do. But the impacts for millennials, because of the economic, political, and societal factors that have shaped this generation, mean that their experiences are different.  

Millennials’ sense of work and what drives their career choices are different from older generations. They value meaning and fulfilment above all else; but oftentimes end up in jobs that don’t match that – for varying reasons. Which, in turn, leads to the problems outlined above.

As a business
owner, you should be eager to get to know your millennials and work out what
makes them tick.  As a start, the
following four tips will help you forge some headway and create a workplace
culture that millennials want to be part of. 

  1. Give them meaningful work. Millennials need a sense of purpose. They need to know that what they are doing, matters. It doesn’t need to be ground-breaking, but enough for them to feel engaged in a meaningful way.
  2. Remove outdated structures. Traditional hierarchical working structures don’t work for millennials. This isn’t to say hierarchy isn’t respected – but millennials view colleagues as equal, and as such, treat them that way.
  3. Work-life balance is a must. Millennials have a strong work ethic and will put in the efforts – but they are also susceptible to burn out. You must honour their commitments – and lives – outside of the workplace.
  4. Development opportunities must exist. With an appetite for learning and development, millennials must have an opportunity to grow professionally. This also ties in with their notion of success – and whether it fits with the organisation culture. If it doesn’t, they will swiftly move on. 

Establishing
rapport with your millennials is not as insurmountable as some may think. All
it takes is decision.  Doing it right can
make all the difference in keeping performance and engagement high, retaining
quality talent and nurturing a flourishing high-performing culture.   

Jacqueline Cripps, Management Consultant and CEO, JCL



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Gold Coast mother Maree Crabtree faces court accused of killing children by drugging them for financial gain


Maree Crabtree was charged in 2018 over the murders of her son Jonathan Crabtree, 26, in 2017, and her daughter Erin, 18, in 2012.

Both deaths were initially considered suicides.

Ms Crabtree was also charged with torturing and attempting to murder another woman known to her over a seven-year period.

Police alleged she forced all three to take prescription pain medication over a prolonged period, which caused them to suffer from health and developmental problems.

It was also alleged Ms Crabtree used their disabilities, and her children’s deaths, to claim close to $1 million dollars in insurance payouts.

In a committal hearing being held in Brisbane, Jonathan’s ex-girlfriend Katelyn Lofts told the court he had feared his mother.

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Banyan – As Malaysia’s politicians bicker, its royals gain authority | Asia


IN A LANDMARK election in 2018, Malaysians voted for change. Instead, they got upheaval. Appalled by the growing venality of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), in power since the country’s founding, they plumped instead for Pakatan Harapan (“Alliance of Hope”). Yet bickering within the new government led, a year ago, to its collapse, and the emergence of a different coalition, including UMNO, that is itself perpetually rumoured to be on the brink of implosion.

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Few are happy. Malaysians voted for Pakatan Harapan’s promises of good governance, enhanced democracy and an end to racially divisive politics. Yet the new prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, hounds critics and spreads patronage about like manure—just like the good ex-UMNO man he is. Ordinary folk grumble at the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, at once arbitrary and repressive.

The country’s royals, by contrast, are in clover. Nine of Malaysia’s 12 states have monarchs: seven sultans, a raja and, in Negeri Sembilan, a ruler-for-life elected by four local grandees. The nine royals take turns to serve five-year terms as Yang di-Pertuan Agong (“He Who is Made Lord”)—the constitutional head of the Malaysian federation.

In their states, the sultans exercise considerable theoretical power: approving the chief minister, controlling the civil service and, in Johor, even commanding the palace guard. But at the federal level, recent kings have taken a back seat in politics. Their role in the appointment of prime ministers had been considered largely ceremonial.

Last year’s political turmoil thrust the current agong, the sultan of Pahang, into prominence. Pakatan Harapan fell as the nonagenarian prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, and Anwar Ibrahim, who hoped to succeed him, feuded. Dr Mahathir resigned as prime minister, apparently hoping to form a new government that excluded Mr Anwar. But the agong instead turned to Mr Muhyiddin, who then took ages to prove his majority in parliament. As William Case of the University of Nottingham Malaysia puts it, the king became the kingmaker.

A few months later Mr Anwar sought time with the agong, claiming that he had “convincing” evidence that he could command a parliamentary majority. For several days the monarch found himself conveniently incapacitated. Even Mr Muhyiddin failed last year to persuade him to declare a state of emergency to tackle the pandemic (and helpfully forestall a vote of no confidence in the prime minister). Only in January, on the second request, when Mr Muhyiddin again looked like losing his shaky majority, did the king accede.

As political power fragments, royal influence will only grow, says James Chin of the University of Tasmania. The rulers are officially the guardians both of the culture of Malaysia’s Malay majority and of their religion, Islam. They still have considerable constitutional powers, although Dr Mahathir, during a previous stint as prime minister, took some away.

There is a commercial dimension to their authority. The sultans influence how land is used in their states. They can also benefit from property developments accompanying federal projects, such as a planned high-speed railway. In Johor the royal family has prospered from deals with nearby Singapore and from a China-backed boondoggle, Forest City. Critics make the comparison to the Thai royal family’s prodigious if opaque holdings. Patron-client business networks run through Malaysian royal circles, as they do through its politics. No aspiring prime minister would be foolish enough to ignore the sultans’ interests.

Not all Malaysians are happy. In Selangor, the sultan’s heir is behind an unpopular bid to turn a tract of protected forest over for development. A daughter of the agong is chairman of a company involved in a bitter land dispute with durian farmers.

Many want the royals to stick to Instagram. There, one of them touchingly touts inelegant baking efforts, another her sonic healing and, in the case of the crown prince of Johor (once involved in a nightclub brawl with another royal), a rather naff polo-and-private-plane lifestyle. Someone who is acquainted with several royals calls them, on balance, “a gruesome bunch”. Yet few will denounce them in public. As in Thailand, the royals are protected by draconian laws, including the one against sedition. While they kept away from politics, why cross them? Cross them now, says one politician, and it could be jail.

This article appeared in the Asia section of the print edition under the headline “The swing to the sultans”

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Poor sleep linked to weight gain in 2-year smartphone sleep tracking study


The link between poor sleep and a greater body mass index (BMI) has been shown in study after study, but researchers typically relied on the memories of the participants to record how well they slept.
Sleep apps on fitness trackers, smartphones and watches have changed all that. In a new study, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers tracked sleep quality for 120,000 people for up to two years.
The results showed sleep durations and patterns are highly variable between people. Despite that, the study found people with BMIs of 30 or above — which is considered obese by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — had slightly shorter mean sleep durations and more variable sleep patterns.

It didn’t take much less sleep to see the effect. People with BMIs over 30 only slept about 15 minutes less than their less weighty counterparts.

There were some limitations to the study. Naps were excluded, other health conditions could not be factored in, and people who use wearable tracking devices are typically younger, healthier and from a higher socioeconomic status than those who do not wear trackers.

“These are quite pricey devices, and remember, they are not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration,” said sleep specialist Dr. Raj Dasgupta, the associate program director of the Sleep Medicine Fellowship at Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California.

“The results would need to be validated by the appropriate FDA-approved devices, and because the study is likely on younger people who are more economically well off, does that really apply to older folks we worry about with poor sleep?” said Dasgupta, who was not involved in the study.

However, Dasgupta added, a major plus for the study is that it did monitor people for over two years, and the results corroborated prior research and were “not surprising.”

“While we cannot determine the direction of association from our study result, these findings provide further support to the notion that sleep patterns are associated with weight management and overall health,” the authors wrote.

“The findings also support the potential value of including both sleep duration and individual sleep patterns when studying sleep-related health outcomes.”

Link between sleep and eating

There is a scientific reason why a lack of sleep is linked to appetite. When you’re sleep deprived, research has shown, levels of a hormone called ghrelin spike while another hormone, leptin, takes a nosedive. The result is an increase in hunger.

10 commandments for better sleep

“The ‘l’ in leptin stands for lose: It suppresses appetite and therefore contributes to weight loss,” he said. “The ‘g’ in ghrelin stands for gain: This fast-acting hormone increases hunger and leads to weight gain,” Dasgupta said.

Another reason we gain weight is due to an ancient body system called the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids bind to the same receptors as the active ingredient in marijuana, which as we know, often triggers the “munchies.”

“When you’re sleep deprived, you’re not like, ‘Oh, you know what, I want some carrots,'” said behavioral neuroscientist Erin Hanlon, who studies the connection between brain systems and behavior at the University of Chicago, in a prior CNN interview.

“You’re craving sweets and salty and starchy things,” she added. “You want those chips, you want a cookie, you want some candy, you know?”

Do you sleep with your eyes open? (You'll be surprised how many of us do)
A 2016 study by Hanlon compared the circulating levels of 2-AG, one of the most abundant endocannabinoids, in people who got four nights of normal sleep (more than eight hours) to people who only got 4.5 hours.

People who were sleep-deprived reported greater increases in hunger and appetite and had higher afternoon concentrations of 2-AG than those who slept well. The sleep-deprived participants also had a rough time controlling their urges for high-carb, high-calorie snacks.

Get better sleep

Want more control over your appetite? Depending on your age, you are supposed to get between seven and 10 hours of sleep each night.

Getting less has been linked in studies to high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, weight gain, a lack of libido, mood swings, paranoia, depression and a higher risk of diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease, dementia and some cancers.
 A later bedtime linked with obesity for children under 6, study says

So sleep a full seven to 10 hours a night, stick to a regular bedtime and get up the same time very day, even on weekends, experts advise.

Adding exercise to your daily routine is a great way to improve your sleep and improve your health. After finishing one 30-minute physical activity, you’ll have less anxiety, lower blood pressure, more sensitivity to insulin and you’ll sleep better that night.

You can also train your brain to get more restful sleep with a few key steps:

  • During the day, try to get good exposure to natural light, as that will help regulate your circadian rhythm.
  • Avoid stimulants (coffee, tea) after 3 p.m. and fatty foods before bedtime.
  • Establish a bedtime routine you can follow each night. Taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or doing light stretches are all good options.
  • Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable and the room is cool: Between 60 and 67 degrees is best. Don’t watch TV or work in your bedroom; you want your brain to think of the room as only for sleep.
  • Eliminate all lights — even the blue light of cellphones or laptops can be disruptive. Dull sounds, too. Earplugs or white noise machines can be very helpful, but you can create your own with a humidifier or fan.
Does that sound hard? Then sign up for our sleep newsletter and take steps toward better sleep.

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Canberra woman stood to gain more than $2.5 million from parents’ murders: police | The Canberra Times



news, crime,

A woman accused of using the dark web to arrange the contract killings of her parents stood to inherit more than $2.5 million if the “prominent Canberrans” died, a court has been told. New details of the case against the 26-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, emerged during an unsuccessful bail application in the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday. In documents tendered to the court, police claim the defendant entered her parents’ place in Canberra’s south to use her mother’s laptop while neither parent was home on September 21 last year. It is alleged that while on the device, she made a number of large, unauthorised bank transfers from her parents’ business account and mother’s personal account. Some of the money was returned at her parents’ request the following day, police say, but $15,000 “remained outstanding”. Two days after the alleged burglary and theft, police say the woman created an account with a cryptocurrency exchange called Paxful. She is then alleged to have purchased more than $6000 worth of Bitcoin on September 24, under the username “SelectSeatrout300”. Police say her name, date of birth, email address and phone number were linked to the Paxful account, while she also allegedly provided photographs of herself and her driver’s licence to verify her identity. Later that same date, police claim the woman accessed a dark web site named “The Sinaloa Cartel Marketplace”. “The site advertises services including murder and assault for hire, and the sale of illicit items such as drugs and firearms,” police say in court documents. “‘Accidental murder’ prices are advertised as low as $7000. “Users can create an account and submit a ‘job’ request, which includes the ability to upload images of the intended targets.” According to investigators, the defendant created a Sinaloa Cartel account under the name “cback339884”. She is alleged to have then sent a message to site administrator “Juan”, saying: “Willing to pay $20,000 AUD to have this done as soon as possible. 2 individuals, death by accident if at all possible.” The woman allegedly went on to give her parents’ names and address. The person calling themselves Juan wrote back, police claim, with: “Hi, Ok, that is agreeable. $20,000 AUD for the two individuals as specified, death as accident. Do you have bitcoin? Let me know.” Cback339884 replied: “Have placed money into my wallet here. I require this job to be done asap.” Police allege that the woman provided Bitcoin worth about $6032, prompting “Juan” to ask for the balance and enquire as to whether the targets would be armed. According to officers, “Juan” sent further messages requesting additional payment, but the defendant never responded. ACT Policing started investigating the woman on October 24 after receiving an email from a UK-based journalist, who has been commissioned by the BBC to produce a podcast on “contract violence websites”. The journalist told police that while conducting research on the dark web, he had “obtained information relating to the order of the murders of [the woman’s parents]”. Police quickly alerted the alleged targets, who told officers their daughter would receive one-third of their estate, which is worth about $8 million, if they died. “[The parents] feared for their safety and undertook a number of steps including changing the locks at their residential property, as well as temporarily relocating whilst the matter was investigated,” police say. Detectives ultimately formed a view that the Sinaloa Cartel marketplace was “likely a fraudulent site which takes Bitcoin from customers, though delivers no services in return”. The woman was arrested on December 7 and charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of inciting murder, and single counts of burglary and theft. A summary of her subsequent police interview says she made “full denials” and claimed to have “nil knowledge” of the allegations. The 26-year-old pleaded not guilty to all charges on December 21. When she applied for bail on Wednesday, her barrister Jack Pappas said there were “severe problems with the case on all counts”. Mr Pappas, instructed by solicitor Adrian McKenna, also said the woman’s case would likely be delayed for an inordinate length of time after the court heard it would probably be at least a year before the prosecution could compile the full brief of evidence. He said the woman should not be left languishing in custody in such circumstances, and said “it would be hard to imagine a more stringent set of [bail] conditions” than those he was proposing. Prosecutor Soraya Saikal-Skea, however, argued the defence had failed to establish the special or exceptional circumstances necessary for bail to be granted in an attempted murder case. Following lengthy submissions, Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker agreed with Ms Saikal-Skea and refused bail. The defendant is due back in court on March 1.

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tweets photo after skin cancer removal: ‘No pain, no gain’


Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan isn’t letting his latest battle with cancer get him down.

“No pain, no gain. Play like a Raven,” Hogan tweeted Saturday following a procedure to remove cancerous cells from his face.

The tweet included a photo of himself with a bandage on one side of his face, giving a thumbs up while donning Baltimore Ravens gear ahead of the NFL team’s playoff game against the Buffalo Bills (which Buffalo won 17-3).

Hogan, who celebrated five years of being cancer-free last summer following a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015, was recently diagnosed with early-stage skin cancer known as basal and squamos cell carcinoma, FOX 5 in Washington, D.C., reported.

MARYLAND GOP GOVERNOR, LIEUTENANT WANT TRUMP TO RESIGN AFTER CAPITOL RIOT 

On Wednesday, the Republican governor called the outpatient procedure “minor” and said he likely wouldn’t need any more treatment, the Baltimore Sun reported.

‘DANCING WITH THE STARS’ JUDGE LEN GOODMAN REVEALS SKIN CANCER REMOVAL FROM FACE

Hogan had some skin removed a few weeks ago and in 2018. He said his most recent procedures were “another pop-up of that stuff. But it’s nothing serious,” the Sun reported.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is seen in Annapolis, Md., Jan. 7, 2021. (Associated Press)

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Hogan has managed to take care of his duties as governor despite the medical procedure. On Friday he declared a state of emergency in Maryland, which borders D.C., amid heightened security measures ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday, according to FOX 5.

He previously called on President Trump to resign after the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. 

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5 Stocks That Could Gain After Earnings — and 5 That Are Ready to Drop


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