Ocala makes homelessness a crime, UF discovers breakthrough cancer drug, and other news you may have missed


Ocala makes 'Hall of Shame' report for arresting homeless people who sleep outside: "In Ocala, Florida, homeless people are strictly policed in accordance with Ocala's draconian anti-homeless ordinances. It is illegal to rest in the open on public property, which has been heavily enforced by the city," says the "Housing Not Handcuffs" report released by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. "The city's 'Operation Street Sweeper' and aggressive policing have even led to a federal lawsuit on behalf of three unhoused residents. These three plaintiffs have collectively spent 210 days in jail and been assessed over $9,000 in fines, fees, and costs due to enforcement of the trespass and unlawful lodging ordinance alone." The report surveyed 187 urban and rural cities across the country and found that over the last 13 years there's been a significant increase in policies that punish the homeless for "life-sustaining conduct," which include things like sleeping, sitting or lying down, and living in vehicles within public spaces. "We refer to these policies and their enforcement collectively as the 'criminalization of homelessness,' even though these laws are punishable as both criminal and civil offenses," reads the report, which placed Ocala on its "Hall of Shame" list.

University of Florida College of Pharmacy reveals breakthrough cancer drug: Researchers from the University of Florida College of Pharmacy say they have discovered a safer and more effective anti-cancer drug. The new treatment would target leukemia, lymphoma, and breast and lung cancers. The drug, known currently as DT2216, affects a protein called B-cell lymphoma-extra large, which grows malignant cells and strengthens their resistance to treatment. According to a UF press release, the new drug works better against a variety of tumor cells aided by the BCL-XL protein, and is also less toxic to blood platelets. University researchers developed the new BCL-XL-targeting anti-cancer drug using a technology that relies on small molecules that suppress and break down cancer-promoting proteins. They published their findings in the journal Nature Medicine on Dec. 2. "These findings support the potential of DT2216 to be developed as a first-in-class BCL-XL-targeting antitumor agent," said Guangrong Zheng, Ph.D., in the release. "First-in-class" refers to drugs that use a "unique mechanism of action" to work. There are a few more steps and additional testing to go before clinical trials on people can begin.

Osceola jail ignored woman's miscarriage symptoms, before a county judge released her early: When a pregnant Kenzi Dunn began bleeding Wednesday, Dec. 4, Osceola County Jail staff didn't call for a doctor, she says. The bleeding continued through Thursday but Dunn says she still wasn't attended to by a doctor. Finally, on Friday, while Dunn was still bleeding, a doctor was summoned to check on the 20-year-old. In county court Dec. 12, Dunn said that she continued to bleed into Saturday and that cramps joined her symptoms Sunday, the day she miscarried. It wasn't until Monday that Osceola Jail staff took her to the hospital, WKMG News 6 reports. When Dunn returned to the Osceola County Corrections Department, she was placed back in the same cell where the miscarriage occurred. Dunn, who found out she was pregnant when she was booked into the Osceola jail in October, was scheduled to stay in jail until Dec. 30. In court, Dunn's attorney asked that she be released before then. "I'm gonna go ahead and modify the sentence to make it time served as of today's date," Judge Greg Tynan said.

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