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Updated: 8 hours 42 min ago

Wash. Legislature Passes Bill To Make Daylight Saving Time Permanent

13 hours 37 min ago

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The state of Washington's House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a bill that would require the state to observe daylight saving time throughout the year.

The state House pushed House Bill 1196 to the governor's office in a 90-6 vote on Tuesday. The Senate passed the legislation 46-2 last week. The governor is expected to approve it.

But even if the governor signs the bill, there will still be one last hurdle before it becomes law. Congress would have to approve the switch, since federal law bars states from opting into daylight saving time permanently.

President Donald Trump voiced support for the idea on a national scale in early March, tweeting, "Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!"

According to the Seattle Times, more than 20 states are currently considering legislation that would end the twice-a-year clock change.

The World Health Organization Recommends Zero Screen Time For Babies

13 hours 40 min ago

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Echoing what many parents have been saying for years, the World Health Organization says youngsters today need to move around more instead of staring at a gosh-darn screen all day.

The WHO issued new guidelines on "physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep" for kids under 5 on Wednesday. The organization said moving more, sitting still less and getting enough quality sleep can "contribute to [kids'] physical health, reduce the risk of developing obesity in childhood ... and improve mental health and wellbeing." 

Per its recommendations, kiddos between the ages of 1 and 4 should spend at least three hours a day "in a variety of physical activities at any intensity" to support healthy development. Infants less than 1 year old also "should be physically active several times a day, ... particularly through interactive floor-based play."

It also says rugrats between the ages of 2 and 4 should not spend more than an hour a day watching an electronic screen, and kids younger than that shouldn't be looking at them at all.

As far as sleep is concerned, the U.N. agency says babies should get at least 12-14 hours of quality shut-eye, including naps. Children between 1 and 2 should get at least 11 hours of sleep, including naps, with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times. Children between 3 and 4 should hit the sack for at least 10 hours a day, "which may include a nap, with regular sleep and wake-up times."

Although there's still no concrete evidence on whether extended screen time poses development risks, pediatric associations from both the U.S. and Canada recommend similar limits.

United Airlines Pushes New Aircraft Branding In Big Reveal

13 hours 57 min ago

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United Airlines rallied employees, executives and reporters Wednesday to tout a fresh look for its planes. The airline says it's part of an "evolution" to cap off a years-long branding upgrade.

Internment Camp Survivor Discusses Reparations

14 hours 1 min ago

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The 2020 campaign trail has stirred up another debate on the concept of reparations for African Americans. While the idea is very far from becoming U.S. policy, it's not unprecedented: other groups have gained redress for discrimination in the past,  driven not by politicians, but activists who were directly impacted. 

"You have to have people who were, who's family generations back were affected," said Murakami. "You have to get those people active."

Mary Murakami is one of thousands of people who received reparations from the U.S. government decades after being forced into an internment camp during World War II. She vividly remembers how it all began. 

"And we saw the U.S. Army guarding us," Murakami said. "They were on top of the hill coming into Japantown in San Francisco. [They] were shoulder to shoulder across the sidewalk and the street and to the other side of the street [and] on that side of the sidewalk," Murakamai noted. "And at that point my father said there is a war and it's going to be pretty rough on us."

She was just a teenager when her family was taken from their home, eventually ending up in Utah. She spent a total of three years in the camps and is one of over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry interned from 1942 to 1945, many of whom were forced to quickly sell their property and personal belongings.

"When I came back and saw this heap at the church and I saw my sewing machine and so I told my father at least they didn't take my sewing machine and I opened it up and the machine itself was gone," Murakamai said. "And I thought oh my gosh, the only thing I wanted was gone."

It would take decades of effort by the Japanese American community before Congress agreed to form a commission to study what happened. That ultimately led to an apology from President Ronald Reagan and reparations. Those eligible would later receive a $20,000 payment from the U.S. government which in today's dollars would equal to about $44,000. 

"The ones who really needed it were our parents and they were already dead," Murakami said. 

At the time, members of the Japanese American Citizens League and other activists were key to the success of the law.

"As time passed, particularly a lot of the children of the people who had been incarcerated became more aware of what had happened," said David Inoue, executive director of the Japanese American Citizens League. "Part of this was the civil rights movement in the [1960's] [and] the beginning of Asian American studies as a scholarly endeavor, where many of these children were actually learning about what had happened to their parents in school."

Right now, a similar path to reparations for African Americans is still unclear. But Democratic presidential candidates are adopting the idea of forming a commission to study how reparations would even work — an idea pitched by former Congressman John Conyers for years.

"There are obviously differences in how we could do reparations because we would not be paying reparations directly to someone who was wronged by slavery itself," said Inoue. "[What] we cannot deny is that there have been so many other wrongs that have happened and that continue to happen."

Murakami says regardless of how the conversation starts, she hopes the country will address past discriminatory practices by the government so it doesn't happen again.  

"Everyday that we spent in camp we saluted the flag because we believed in the United States and you should too," Murakami said. "The flag doesn't represent the president, it represents the constitution and eventually it will do right."

'Sovereign Citizens' Are Deemed A Serious Threat, Yet Largely Unknown

14 hours 34 min ago

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Some extreme right-wing groups are immediately recognizable: Klansmen in hoods, neo-Nazis giving a "Heil Hitler" salute. 

But there's a hodgepodge of factions and individuals far less visible but reportedly growing. They're called "sovereign citizens." 

They're not just men keeping to themselves in the woods. 

Some members have carried out murdersattacks on policeforged passports and money

Getting a fix on how many "sovereign citizens" there are is slippery. The Anti-Defamation League has put the number at "tens of thousands," and the Southern Poverty Law Center has estimated 300,000. Both groups predict growth is likely. Even knowing what to call them is challenging. In addition to "sovereign citizens" or "sovereigns," followers go by "constitutionalists," "freemen" and "state citizens." 

The root of their doctrine can be hard to define because there is no central document outlining their beliefs. A number of variations exist, but the central theme goes something like this: A corporation surreptitiously took over the federal government. The corporation went bankrupt and turned to international bankers for help. The bankers needed collateral, and the corporation put up the people of the United States. The implication is that your birth certificate and Social Security card are not just official documents. They're contracts that enslave you. Sovereigns often rip them up and throw them away. 

Here is a slightly different version: The government established by the Founding Fathers had a legal system the sovereigns call "common law." However, at some point, that original system was replaced with admiralty law — the law of the sea and international commerce. Under the original system, sovereigns were free. Under the new plan, they're slaves — unless they rebel. 

The FBI explains: "Sovereign citizens are anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or "sovereign" from the United States. As a result, they believe they don't have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement." 

The sovereign citizens movement can be traced to the Posse Comitatus, a racist, anti-Semitic group from the 1970s and '80s rooted in the Midwest. 

Today, many sovereigns, including black followers, seem unaware of the origins. A propensity for violence among some members concerns law enforcement. Incidents include: 

In 2010, a father and son who were "sovereign citizens" gunned down two police officers on Interstate 40 near West Memphis, Arkansas. 

In 2012, self-described sovereign citizens ambushed and shot dead two sheriff's deputies in St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana. 

SEE MORE: Suing Women-Only Spaces In The Name of Men's Rights

In 2016, an ex-Marine who had become a sovereign citizen killed three law officers in Baton Rouge. 

Those are fairly recent examples, but there's one that goes back to 1995 worth noting. Terry Nichols, who collaborated with Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing, claimed to be a sovereign citizen. This once-obscure group seems to be attracting followers. As they move into the national security spotlight, their effect on America’s future is a lingering question. 

Facebook Is Preparing For What Could Be A Record-Breaking FTC Fine

15 hours 20 min ago

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Facebook is still battling an ongoing investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, which it says could impose a fine of up to $5 billion.

The FTC is investigating Facebook for potential privacy violations after the social media company shared data with outside developers without users' permission. The investigation started after a developer sold information to Cambridge Analytica.

It's still unclear how much the company might have to pay, but Facebook estimates a settlement could land anywhere between $3 billion and $5 billion. 

In a report on its latest quarterly earnings, the company said it has $3 billion set aside for that purpose. It also said sales rose to $15.1 billion, exceeding a predicted $14.97 billion. 

In the report, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, "We are focused on building out our privacy-focused vision for the future of social networking, and working collaboratively to address important issues around the internet."

In March, Facebook announced plans to turn itself into a privacy-focused platform. It also said it wants to give users the ability to send messages securely between all of its platforms. 

Why Joe Biden's Role In Drug War Could Stunt His 2020 Campaign

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 22:24

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Former Vice President Joe Biden seems primed to be at the head of a crowded Democratic 2020 field. But his role as a leading architect in America's crackdown on drugs could be a major liability for his campaign. 

"I think the problem with Joe Biden isn't that he was a passenger on the Drug War train, he was driving it," said Michael Collins, a spokesman for Drug Policy Action. 

In 1988, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden co-sponsored the Anti-Drug Abuse Act. The bill led to new mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders and created a sentencing rule that led to stiffer punishments for crack cocaine users than those who used powder cocaine.

In 1989, when then-President George H.W. Bush called for $8 billion to help law enforcement in the war against drugs, Biden said it was inadequate and called for stricter punishments for both drug users and dealers. 

"The president says he wants to wage a war on drugs, but if that's true, what we need is another D-day, not another Vietnam. Not another limited war, fought on the cheap and destined for stalemate and human tragedy," Biden said in remarks he gave in response to Bush's drug policy announcement. 

Then in 1994, Biden spearheaded the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, a bill that touched nearly every aspect of law enforcement and is credited for leading to a boom in for-profit prisons and mass incarceration. 

And while every other candidate in the 2020 Democratic primary supports marijuana legalization or decriminalization, Biden hasn't jumped on the 4/20 bandwagon yet. His position on marijuana itself hasn't wavered much over the years; in 2010 he said legalization would be a mistake. And He has been relatively mum on the issue since.

"Any person today who is a serious candidate for any high elected office who doesn't really look at marijuana at least decriminalization if not legalization as what is needed in this country as a baseline, if somebody doesn't take that position, it's going to be really hard for them to convince people who have criminal justice reform as a top issue that they're a serious candidate," said Ed Chung, vice president for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress.

Chung, who served as a senior policy adviser on criminal justice, policing and civil rights issues under the Obama-era Department of Justice, says Biden Can still make the case that his views have evolved, along with the country, when it comes to drug policy. 

"The question is what policies and what positions is he going to take now as president and is it going to be a continuation of some of the things that he championed under the Obama administration," he said.

But Collins says there's not much Biden can do or say that will erase the damage of his former policies. 

"I think it's a very easy to apologize," Collins said. "It's another thing to sit down with the communities impacted by the War on Drugs, predominantly communities of color and ask, you know, 'should I become President, what can I do to repair the damage?'"

Scotland's Leader Outlines Plans For A Second Independence Vote

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 22:01

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Scotland's leader has called for the country to hold a second vote on independence from the U.K.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced new plans Wednesday to set up a second nationwide vote for independence. She argued the U.K.'s handling of Brexit, as well as the negative economic impacts Scotland would face by leaving the EU, are enough reason for the country to choose whether to leave or stay with Britain.

Sturgeon said Scotland's Parliament would draw up and vote on a bill before the end of 2019. If it passes, then the plan is for the country to hold an independence vote by May 2021, which is when the current Parliament's term ends. 

Scotland's first independence referendum took place prior to Brexit in 2014, with a majority of voters choosing to remain part of the U.K. But an even larger majority of Scottish voters also voted to remain with the EU during the Brexit vote in 2016.

In response to the first minister's comments, the U.K.'s Scotland minister said, "Sturgeon continues to press for divisive constitutional change when it is clear that most people in Scotland do not want another independence referendum."

Florida Ex-Felons Fight Bill That Restrict Their Right To Vote

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 21:59

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1.4 million former felons in Florida were granted voting rights with the passage of Amendment 4 in last year’s midterms —  marking the largest expansion of voting rights since the Voting Rights Act more than 50 years ago.

But while its passage was celebrated, its implementation has been contentious. Among other things, Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would require ex-felons to pay back all court costs, fines and fees including restitution before they can register to vote.

Desmond Meade is the executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which led the fight to get Amendment 4 passed. For his efforts, Meade was nominated as a 2019 TIME 100 honoree

Meade himself was convicted of felony drug and gun possession charges and ended up homeless for years after his release. Flashforward to January, he was one of the first in line to register to vote when Amendment 4 went into effect. 

"We just want to feel like we're a part of something, you know? And so just to be able to have the right to vote and say that 'hey I'm a part of society again' is very emotional … It was like, the world said, welcome home."

But now, Meade says his organization is working to keep the soul of Amendment 4 intact. 

At issue is what it means to "complete your prison sentence." Meade and the amendment’s supporters call it “self-executing,” meaning it doesn't require any clarification from Florida’s government. 

"We didn't reach out to any politician to endorse our campaign. None of that. We did it in spite of the politics because we lead with people first … We believe that there's no need for legislation. If there is legislation going through then we need to be weighing in to make sure that their legislation mirrors what we believe and what we know to be the will of the people."

But Republican legislators want to impose stipulations. Some believe former felons need to finish parole, probation and pay outstanding fines to "complete their sentence." 

The state representative who drafted the bill has defended it on Twitter and in the Florida statehouse for weeks. Republican state representative James Grant argues that those who pushed for the bill had always intended for fines, fees and restitution to be a part of the amendment.

But fines and fees in Florida courts can be excessive— according to the Florida Clerks and Comptrollers Association, more than $1 billion in felony fines were issued between 2013 and 2018.  

"If you're talking about withholding the right to vote, though, because you need to pay a fee, then does that mean that we shouldn't pay taxes until we pay that fee? … Does that mean that we can't get a job until we pay that fee? We want to do things that enhance the likelihood of people plugging into their community, and we know that if a person is able to do that, then they're less likely to commit a crime."

Meade and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition are sounding the alarm on this proposal and asking Floridians to call their local representatives to vote it down. But with a Republican governor, House and Senate in power, this bill could easily become law, despite Democrats’ opposition

Justice Department Official Will Defy Subpoena Over Census Question

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 21:58

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On Wednesday, the Justice Department told the House oversight committee it will not comply with a subpoena requesting the appearance of a DOJ official. The subpoena is part of a House probe into the addition of a citizenship question to the census. 

In a letter sent to House oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, the Justice Department argues that the official, John Gore, should be able to bring a DOJ attorney with him to the inquiry. Cummings has denied that request, citing committee rules.

The committee wants to ask Gore, who works in the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, about the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. His deposition was initially scheduled for Thursday.

This is the second time this week that the Trump administration has ignored a House subpoena, and President Trump has made it clear he does not want officials responding to congressional requests that he views as politically motivated.

"Well, we're fighting all the subpoenas. Look, these aren't, like, impartial people. The Democrats are trying to win 2020," the president said.

According to The Hill, Cummings called the DOJ's refusal to comply with the subpoena a part of a "massive, unprecedented, and growing pattern of obstruction."

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

Nearly 8,000 Boy Scout Leaders Accused Of Abusing Children Since 1940s

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 21:31

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Nearly 8,000 Boy Scout leaders are accused of sexually abusing over 12,000 children between 1944 and 2016, according to a victims' rights law firm called Jeff Anderson & Associates. 

Those numbers come from the testimony of Dr. Janet Warren, a professor hired by Boy Scouts of America to review the so-called "perversion files," which she looked over for five years.

In a statement sent to Newsy on Wednesday, BSA said "every instance of suspected abuse is reported to law enforcement." It also said the organization has mandatory youth protection trainings, that it conducts criminal background checks, and that it has a Volunteer Screening Database designed to stop people accused of abuse or inappropriate conduct from participating in the program.

BSA said: "Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in Scouting and we are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children."

At a press conference Wednesday, Warren defended BSA, saying its database has worked "very well" and that "data demonstrated that the scouting program is safe." She also said she didn't find any evidence of a cover-up by BSA. 

Boy Scouts of America had previously been forced to release a portion of the records detailing accusations of abuse in 2012. 

Attorneys with Jeff Anderson & Associates released the names of around 50 accused abusers at a press conference in New Jersey on Tuesday and demanded the organization release the identities of all those accused in the state.

The firm said it plans to file lawsuits in New York and New Jersey. In New York, a new law going into effect Aug. 14 will extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse and allow more victims to take legal action. Lawmakers in New Jersey have passed similar legislation, which is expected to be signed by the governor.

The FAA Just Approved Alphabet's Drone Delivery Company

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 19:47

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Google's parent company Alphabet got the OK to officially open its drone delivery service in the U.S., an important first for the drone industry as a whole.

The Federal Aviation Administration approved air carrier certification for the company's Wing Aviation unit Tuesday. 

Wing has been testing its drone delivery service in Australia for a while now. In an announcement, Wing says its "drones have flown over 70,000 test flights, and more than 3,000 deliveries" in the country to prove the service is safe.

With the approval from the FAA, Wing says it will start testing in southwest Virginia over the next several months.

President Trump Says He'd Fight Impeachment In Supreme Court

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 19:07

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President Donald Trump weighed in on the impeachment talk that's been swirling on Capitol Hill, and he revealed what his defense strategy might look like. 

On Wednesday morning, he tweeted, "I DID NOTHING WRONG. If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not only are there no 'High Crimes and Misdemeanors,' there are no Crimes by me at all."

First it's important to know there's no clear definition of "high crimes and misdemeanors." Bad judgment or unethical actions could qualify as impeachable offenses, even if they don't qualify as criminal conduct. 

Secondly, impeachment proceedings happen in Congress, not in the court system. The House of Representatives initiates impeachment investigations, and the Senate plays the role of judge and jury. The one exception to that is in the case of a presidential impeachment, where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over the Senate trial.

Multiple legal experts have said it's unlikely the Supreme Court would intervene in the impeachment process. And the court has previously ruled that the power to oversee impeachment trials lies with the Senate and "nowhere else." 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN

California County May Revise Its Sanctuary Policy After Woman's Death

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 19:05

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"Those responsible for the sanctuary policies are responsible for Bambi Laron's death."

"I find it very upsetting that anti-immigrant forces are trying to capitalize on this tragedy to roll back these sanctuary policies."

The recent slaying of a San Jose woman, allegedly by an undocumented immigrant with prior convictions, has sparked a heated debate about the pros and cons of sanctuary policies in the Silicon Valley.  

"Please change this policy. Make sure that violent felons who are here illegally are deported and not released on the streets."

"Our county should keep this policy in order to avoid increasing an atmosphere of mistrust and fear among our immigrant brothers and sisters."

At the center of it all is this conundrum that applies to sanctuary cities nationwide: How far should local politicians go in avoiding cooperation with ICE — and at what cost?

"What we're asking is simply for the county jail to pick up the phone and call the federal authorities when a violent criminal is about to be released in the community."

Not too far, says San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. He's among a group of local leaders and residents who want to change a Santa Clara County policy that says local jails should almost never notify ICE when they release undocumented inmates. Liccardo wants exceptions for violent criminals, like Carlos Eduardo Arevalo-Carranza, the man accused of killing Bambi Larson. 

"It's really a critical question for us to distinguish the very small number of people who are violent criminals, and the 99-plus percent of immigrants who come to our community and to our country to build their lives, their families, and work hard and do everything they can to be part of America."

Arevalo-Carranza was convicted of multiple crimes in recent years and served time in different local jails. However, he was never transferred to ICE, despite the agency's multiple detainer requests. 

"A lot of forces both on the law enforcement end and on the political end, are making an issue of that, on the premise that he could have been sent out of the country prior to his contact with Miss Larson."

California's own sanctuary law prohibits local law enforcement from complying with ICE detainers — that's when ICE asks a local jail to hold an undocumented inmate for an additional 48 hours to facilitate a custody transfer. Local police are allowed to communicate with ICE about some inmates, like Arevalo-Carranza, who have been convicted of crimes in the past. However, Santa Clara County's non-cooperation policy is stricter than the state standard. 

"The argument for advocates of the Santa Clara County sanctuary policy is that 'we need to bring better than state law.' And this homicide shouldn't bring the county back down to a lower standard that the state endorses."

In a long and heated meeting in early April, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved proposals to explore ways to change the current sanctuary policy, which Supervisor Dave Cortese calls "too ambiguous."

"What the language has always said is that county officials, when faced with a significant law enforcement concern, can communicate with ICE. It doesn't specify when, what would trigger that."

California's sanctuary law allows localities to notify ICE when someone in jail has been convicted of any of roughly 800 offenses. But Supervisor Cortese says using such a list — even a narrower one — could have serious civil rights ramifications.  

"Is there some way to do notifications of serious and violent felons without essentially violating people's civil rights, and essentially forcing ourselves to inquire of the 360,000 non-citizens who live and work here in our county every day, as they happen to get stopped for a misdemeanor or felony or whatever is on this list? Are we really going to take that rap sheet and start asking people for citizenship documentation? I mean, it's almost scary to think that you'd have government officials in this country randomly making decisions, you know, about who might be an ICE suspect and who might not. How do you determine that by language?" 

"Even the suggestion that we are going to start looking at potential changes to the policy really sparks fear in a very vulnerable community."

Supervisor Susan Ellenberg was the only board member to vote against the proposals. She argues that counties with robust sanctuary policies, like Santa Clara, tend to be safer as a result — and that idea falls in line with recent research from the left-leaning Center for American Progress. Ellenberg also says policymakers should look at factors besides Arevalo-Carranza's immigration status. 

"I think our biggest issues are not around people's immigration status, but mental health status, level of addiction, tendency to recidivate their violent activity … Who are we arresting, booking? What is the process for releasing somebody pre-trial? What is their risk to the community? And that's where I want to reassure community members that we can keep them safer by more effectively addressing those very real issues."

The proposals approved by the county board ask law enforcement leaders to report back in 60 days with options on how to best implement a possible policy shift.

"This is a pivot point for the county as far as how it deals with crime, the intersection of crime and immigration policy, because ultimately, that's what we're talking about here. And I think everyone understands that, whatever happens on this issue is going to, you know, be a compass for where the county where this local community is going to go moving forward."

Health Officials Investigating Measles Outbreak In Los Angeles County

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 18:54

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Health officials in Los Angeles County are investigating a measles outbreak.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Monday it's looking into at least five confirmed cases of the illness. 

Officials say those cases are the first transmissions confirmed in the county this year. Additional exposures may have taken place this month at Los Angeles International Airport, UCLA, California State University and several restaurants. 

It's unclear how old the infected individuals were, but officials say the majority of them weren't vaccinated.

This newest outbreak comes as the number of measles cases in the U.S. continues to grow.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

US Measles Outbreak Largest Since 2000, According To CNN Analysis

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 18:29

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The U.S.' measles outbreak is now the largest since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000, according to CNN.

On Monday, the CDC reported 626 measles cases in 2019 so far, but the agency only updates its official numbers once a week. Since then, CNN says states have reported 55 additional cases, which pushes the outbreak past the previous highest year.

Twenty-two states have confirmed cases, but as of Monday the CDC only considers five of them to currently have ongoing outbreaks — which is defined by three or more cases at once. Those states are New York, Washington, New Jersey, California, and Michigan.

Measles is a respiratory illness that's highly contagious — and also vaccine-preventable. Health regulators recommend children be fully immunized against 14 preventable diseases by the time they're 6 years old. That includes the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR vaccine. 

The growing number of unvaccinated children has government officials concerned. One of them is Ned Sharpless, the new acting commissioner of the FDA. In his first speech at the agency, he said he wants to communicate the safety and effectiveness of vaccines to the public.


 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.  

Millions More Americans Are Breathing Polluted Air, New Report Finds

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 18:18

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Millions more Americans are breathing polluted air, according to the American Lung Association. 

The group's annual State of the Air report found that more than 141 million people in the U.S., or four in 10 people, live in areas with unhealthy air pollution. That's 7 million more Americans than last year's findings. 

The data also showed that cities across the U.S. had more days with hazardous air quality, which is a national standard determining unhealthy air conditions. 

Los Angeles weighed in at the top of the list for having the worst ozone pollution. That's been the case for almost all of the association's past reports. 

To be clear, the survey looks at ozone and particle pollution levels from previous years; in this case, from 2015 to 2017. Those were also the three hottest years recorded globally. 

Researchers say the findings add to a growing body of evidence that climate change is "making it harder to protect human health." Experts agree that pollution can lead to adverse health effects like asthma, other chronic illnesses and a shortened life span. 

Even though the 2019 report shows more people living in the U.S. have been exposed to polluted air, it's still lower than the 2016 figure: 166 million Americans. 

The study's authors say the federal Clean Air Act has been key in making progress on pollution reduction, and it should continue to be enforced. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN

UN: Pro-Afghan Forces To Blame For More Civilian Deaths Than Taliban

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 17:51

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A U.N. report says pro-Afghan government and international military forces were responsible for more civilian deaths in the first three months of this year than the Taliban. 

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan called the death toll "unprecedented." The mission called for immediate action to stop the "rising civilian harm from air and search [operations]." 

According to the quarterly U.N. report, between the start of January and the end of March this year, pro-Afghan government forces — international and local — killed 305 civilians. That's 53% of the total number of civilian deaths. Anti-government forces — the Taliban and ISIS, mostly — killed 227 civilians, 39% of the total number. 

To put those numbers in perspective, the overall civilian deaths were actually lower for the first three months of this year than they have been since the same time period in 2013. 

And for even more context, a U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan report from last October said civilian deaths between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 of 2018 were up 5% compared to that same period in 2017. 

Sri Lanka's President Calls On Top Security Officials To Resign

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 17:27

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Sri Lanka's president has called for two of the country's top security officials to resign after the deadly terror attacks that happened Easter Sunday.

According to several reports out Wednesday, the president asked the police chief and the defense secretary to step down from their positions. It's unclear who their replacements will be, but the president said he wants to make the change within 24 hours.

The shakeup follows growing backlash over how Sri Lanka's government responded to intelligence reports warning of possible attacks before Sunday's bombings.

Sri Lanka's deputy inspector general of police reportedly signed a letter earlier this month warning the country's security agencies that a local group was planning a suicide attack. 

But it's unclear what steps — if any — were taken to prevent it. Officials are currently looking into who knew what ahead of the blasts.

Authorities say nine suicide bombers carried out the attacks, which left more than 350 people dead. Dozens of people have been arrested in connection with the bombings.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombings on Tuesday. Officials have pointed the finger at two local Islamist militant groups for orchestrating the attacks, likely with support from outside the country.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

World's First Malaria Vaccine Introduced In Africa

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 17:18

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The world's first malaria vaccine is being introduced in Africa.

The World Health Organization announced Tuesday that Malawi will be the first of three African countries to start the "landmark pilot program." Ghana and Kenya will start offering the vaccines, known as RTS,S, next. The vaccine developer and manufacturer are donating up to 10 million doses. It will be available to children up to 2 years old. 

WHO says malaria is one of the deadliest diseases in the world, with the majority of the deaths in Africa. WHO's director-general says measures like insecticides and bed nets have been helpful over the past 15 years, but "the malaria vaccine has the potential to save tens of thousands of children's lives."

The vaccine is the only one licensed to help combat malaria, but it isn't perfect. In clinical trials, WHO says RTS,S was found to be about 40% effective at preventing malaria.

WHO says about 360,000 children are expected to be vaccinated under the program. The organization will use data collected from the three countries in the pilot program to make future recommendations on the use of the vaccine.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

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