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Company behind 'One Chip Challenge' pulling items from stores

Fri, 09/08/2023 - 12:58


After gaining viral attention in recent days, Paqui announced that it is removing its spicy tortilla chips from grocery store shelves amid complaints the chips were making children ill. 

The announcement comes days after the family of a 14-year-old from Massachusetts blamed the spicy chip challenge for the boy's death. Also earlier this week, a Florida father told Scripps News West Palm Beach the chip challenge caused six elementary students to need medical attention.

Because of the incidents, Paqui said it is offering refunds for the products. Those with tortilla chips can call 1-866-528-6848 for a refund, the company said. 

"The Paqui One Chip Challenge is intended for adults only, with clear and prominent labeling highlighting the chip is not for children or anyone sensitive to spicy foods or who has food allergies, is pregnant or has underlying health conditions," the company said. "We have seen an increase in teens and other individuals not heeding these warnings.  As a result, while the product continues to adhere to food safety standards, out of an abundance of caution, we are actively working with our retailers to remove the product from shelves."

This was the seventh year Paqui led the One Chip Challenge. The company said the chips were made with two of the hottest peppers in the world, the Carolina Reaper pepper and Scorpion pepper.

Last month, the company encouraged "fans who are brave enough to face The Reaper" to share their experience on social media by showing off their blue tongue. 

Prior to Paqui's announcement, Walgreens had announced it was voluntarily pulling the chips off shelves. 

"We are currently in contact with the supplier on appropriate next steps to address reports of customer concerns," Walgreens said in a statement. 

SEE MORE: City sues Hyundai, Kia for social media challenge related thefts

D'Anton Patrick questioned why children were allowed to buy the product in the first place.

"The box says keep out of the hands of children. It says it's for adult consumption only. Why are y'all selling it to a 12-year-old child?" Patrick said.

The Carolina Reaper pepper is certified by Guinness World Records as the hottest chili pepper in the world at 1,641,183 Scoville Heat Units. 

By comparison, the National Institute of Standards and Technology says a normal jalapeno pepper has between 2,500 and 8,000 Scoville Heat Units. 

Rare Queen Elizabeth II portrait unveiled on anniversary of her death

Fri, 09/08/2023 - 12:43


Britain is marking the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's death and King Charles III's accession with gun salutes, tolling bells, and the release of a portrait that has not been seen in over 50 years. 

On Sept. 8, 2022, Queen Elizabeth II, the U.K.'s longest-reigning monarch, passed away at the age of 96. A year later, King Charles fondly remembered his mother as a symbol of stability during her 70-year reign by releasing a very rare portrait of the queen, captured by Cecil Beaton in October 1968.

"In marking the first anniversary of Her late Majesty’s death and my Accession, we recall with great affection her long life, devoted service and all she meant to so many of us," said the king in a press release. "I am deeply grateful, too, for the love and support that has been shown to my wife and myself during this year as we do our utmost to be of service to you all."

The image was taken at Buckingham Palace, and the Queen, then 42, is seen softly smiling to the camera as she wears the royal regalia, including a velvet cape and the Vladimir Tiara, a headpiece with intercepting diamond circles and pendant pearls hanging from each circle.

According to the Palace, the picture was first displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in November 1968, returned to the archives in March 1969, and remained unseen until now.

To honor the late Queen, a gun salute took place Friday morning at Hyde Park in London, while King Charles and Queen Camilla attended a remembrance service at a nearby small church, the same place where the late queen used to worship. Camilla and Charles will continue to spend the rest of the day at their family estate in Scotland.

As for the rest of the royal family, William and Kate, the prince and princess of Wales, will travel to St. Davids in southwestern Wales, where they will hold a private service at the historic St. Davids Cathedral.

Meanwhile, Prince Harry traveled from California to the U.K. for the annual WellChild Awards, a charity that helps seriously ill children get treatment, on Thursday, where he gave a speech remembering his grandmother.

"As you know, I was unable to attend the awards last year as my grandmother passed away," Harry said. "She would have been the first person to insist that I still come to be with you all instead of going to her. And that's precisely why I know, exactly one year on, she is looking down on all of us tonight, happy we're together, continuing to spotlight such an incredible community."

It's not clear if Harry will be meeting the rest of the family during his trip to the U.K.

Furthermore, military units will mark the king's accession with salutes at the Tower of London and Green Park in the capital. Westminster Abbey's bells will ring at 1 p.m.

SEE MORE: Corgis in regal attire marked Queen Elizabeth II's death anniversary

Why Apple is urging you to update iPhone software ASAP

Fri, 09/08/2023 - 12:11


If you haven't updated your iPhone since late Thursday, Apple is urging you to do so right away. That is because researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab discovered a flaw caused by "highly sophisticated exploits and mercenary spyware."

The update is needed for the following devices: iPhone 8 and later, iPad Pro (all models), iPad Air 3rd generation and later, iPad 5th generation and later, and iPad mini 5th generation and later.

"Processing a maliciously crafted image may lead to arbitrary code execution. Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited," Apple said. 

The Citizen Lab also urges everyone to update their devices immediately. 

"Last week, while checking the device of an individual employed by a Washington DC-based civil society organization with international offices, Citizen Lab found an actively exploited zero-click vulnerability being used to deliver NSO Group’s Pegasus mercenary spyware," Citizen Lab said on Thursday. 

SEE MORE: Apple will soon pay $500 million to customers in phone battery case

The group said that it believes that placing the phone in Lockdown Mode blocks this attack for those with updated software.

"We commend Apple for their rapid investigative response and patch cycle, and we acknowledge the victim and their organization for their collaboration and assistance," Citizen Lab said. 

The vulnerabilities arose in devices' Image I/O framework and Apple's Wallet function. 

To initiate an update, go to Settings > General > Software Update. 

@scrippsnews Apple is urging #iPhone and iPad users to update their devices due to a flaw. The flaw could be allowing hackers access to your personal information. Here's how to update your device. #techtips ♬ original sound - Scripps News

How to save big money on Halloween costumes this year

Fri, 09/08/2023 - 11:01


Between candy, decorations, and costumes, Americans spend about $100 each on Halloween, according to the National Retail Federation. That's a big chunk of your fall budget.

But many parents are finding cheaper costumes that are even more creative than what you can buy at the store. Kristin Heitman makes DIY costumes for her children every year, saying they are much more creative.

"It uses your imagination," she said. "So, you can come up with better costumes than the pre-made ones."

We found her shopping at a Michaels store, looking at their extensive collection of costume-making supplies. Michaels manager Amanda Reinfelder said a DIY costume can save big bucks.

"We have very affordable do-it-yourself costumes," she said, "and it is very affordable 'upcycling' of your closet."

That means you can take any plain T-shirt in your closet and become a spider queen.

"It is super easy to make; you just trace out your spider web on the shirt," Reinfelder said.

SEE MORE: Should you shop now for Halloween decorations or wait?

Then, she says, just add some spiders that Michaels sells for $5 a pack. If that is too scary, Reinfelder said a child who likes to read can be a Scripps Spelling Bee champion.

"So this, you just need a T-shirt, some iron letters, and some fabric paint," she said.

Do-it-yourself costumes can save big bucks

Smart shopping expert Trae Bodge agrees that DIY is the way to go to save serious cash.

"There are so many YouTube videos that are really helpful in this regard," she said.

The next best thing is a gently used costume from a consignment store or your local Goodwill or Salvation Army.

"Remember, Halloween costumes are only worn once or twice. And so they're typically in very good shape," Bodge said.

She also recommends checking local Facebook groups for costume swaps in your community.

"Maybe that's something that you can quickly and easily organize," she said.

SEE MORE: Know these risks with money transfer apps

If you have to buy new, costume prices will only go down the closer we get to Halloween.

"Those retailers are going to be looking to clear that merchandise out," she said, "and they will price it to sell."

Just know you'll have fewer options to choose from that close to the holiday. Reinfelder says creating your own costume — with your kids— is something they will never forget.

"It's very heartwarming to do it together," she said.

Coco Gauff advances to U.S. Open women's final

Fri, 09/08/2023 - 02:22


Coco Gauff reached her first  U.S. Open final by defeating Karolina Muchova 6-4, 7-5 on Thursday night in a match interrupted for 50 minutes by environmental activists — including one who glued his bare feet to the concrete in the Arthur Ashe Stadium stands.

The toughest part for Gauff might have been closing out the victory: She needed six match points to get it done.

She is a 19-year-old from Florida who is the youngest American to make it to the title match in New York since Serena Williams in 2001.

Gauff was up by a set and 1-0 in the second when three protesters disrupted play from seats in an upper level of the arena. Two of the people were escorted away relatively quickly after security guards and, eventually, police officers arrived. But it took more time to remove the person glued to the ground.

Both players left the court for part of the delay.

SEE MORE: Climate protest interrupts US Open semifinal between Gauff and Muchova

The victory was the 11th in a row for Gauff and the 17th in her past 18 matches, a run that began after a first-round exit at Wimbledon in July. The streak includes the two biggest titles of Gauff's career — and now she needs one more win to get an even more important championship.

She was the runner-up at the 2022 French Open and now will try to claim her first Grand Slam title.

On Saturday, the No. 6-seeded Gauff will face No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka or No. 17 Madison Keys.

Sabalenka, who won the Australian Open in January and is guaranteed to move up to No. 1 in the rankings for the first time next week, and Keys, the runner-up at the 2017 U.S. Open, were scheduled to meet in the second semifinal Thursday night.

American explorer trapped 3,000 feet deep in Turkish cave

Fri, 09/08/2023 - 02:07


Rescuers from across Europe rushed to a cave in Turkey on Thursday, launching an operation to save an American researcher who became trapped almost 3,000 feet below the cave's entrance after suffering stomach bleeding.

Experienced caver Mark Dickey, 40, suddenly became ill during an expedition with a handful of others, including three other Americans, in the Morca cave in southern Turkey's Taurus Mountains, the European Association of Cave Rescuers said.

While rescuers, including a Hungarian doctor, have reached and treated Dickey, it could be days and possibly weeks before they are able to get him out of the cave, which is too narrow in places for a stretcher to pass through.

In a video message from inside the cave and made available Thursday by Turkey’s communications directorate, Dickey thanked the caving community and the Turkish government for their efforts.

“The caving world is a really tight-knit group and it’s amazing to see how many people have responded on the surface," said Dickey. “ ... I do know that the quick response of the Turkish government to get the medical supplies that I need, in my opinion, saved my life. I was very close to the edge.”

Dickey, who is seen standing and moving around in the video, said that while he is alert and talking, he is not “healed on the inside” and will need a lot of help to get out of the cave. Doctors will decide whether he will need to leave the cave on a stretcher or if he can leave under his own power.

Dickey, who had been bleeding and losing fluid from his stomach, has stopped vomiting and has eaten for the first time in days, according to a New Jersey-based cave rescue group he’s affiliated with. It’s unclear what caused his medical issue.

The New Jersey Initial Response Team said the rescue will require many teams and constant medical care. The group says the cave is also quite cold — about 4-6 C (39-42 F).

Communication with Dickey takes about five to seven hours and is carried out by runners, who go from Dickey to the camp below the surface where a telephone line to speak with the surface has been set up.

Experts said it will be a challenge to successfully rescue Dickey.

Yusuf Ogrenecek of the Speleological Federation of Turkey said that one of the most difficult tasks of cave rescue operations is widening the narrow cave passages to allow stretcher lines to pass through at low depths.

Stretcher lines are labor intensive and require experienced cave rescuers working long hours, Ogrenecek said. He added that other difficult factors range from navigating through mud and water at low temperatures to the psychological toll of staying inside a cave for long periods of time.

Marton Kovacs of the Hungarian Cave Rescue Service said that the cave is being prepared for Dickey's safe extraction. Passages are being widened and the danger of falling rocks is also being addressed.

SEE MORE: 23-year-old dies after falling into controversial Lake Lanier

Turkish disaster relief agency AFAD and rescue team UMKE are working with Turkish and international cavers on the plan to hoist Dickey out of the cave system, the European Cave Rescue Association said.

The rescue effort currently involves more than 170 people, including doctors, paramedics who are tending to Dickey and experienced cavers, Ogrenecek said, adding that the rescue operation could take up to two to three weeks.

The operation includes rescue teams from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Turkey.

Dickey was described by the association as “a highly trained caver and a cave rescuer himself” who is well known as a cave researcher, or speleologist, from his participation in many international expeditions. He is secretary of the association’s medical committee.

Dickey was on an expedition mapping the 1,276-meter (4,186-feet) deep Morca cave system for the Anatolian Speleology Group Association (ASPEG) when he ran into trouble about 1,000 meters down, according to Ogrenecek. He initially became ill on Sept. 2, but it took until the morning of Sept. 3 to notify others who were above ground.

Justin Hanley, a 28-year-old firefighter from near Dallas, Texas, said he met Dickey a few months ago when he took a cave rescue course Dickey taught in Hungary and Croatia. He described Dickey as upbeat and as someone who sees the good in everyone.

“Mark is the guy that should be on that rescue mission that’s leading and consulting and for him to be the one that needs to be rescued is kind of a tragedy in and of itself,” he said.

A team of rescuers from Italy’s National Alpine and Speleological Rescue Team will be flying to Turkey on Thursday night. A total of around 50 rescuers will be at the entrance of the cave early Friday ready to participate in the operation directed by Turkish authorities.

The rescue teams hope that the extraction can begin on Saturday or Sunday. Kovacs said that lifting Dickey will likely take several days, and that several bivouac points are being prepared along the way so that Dickey and rescue teams can rest.

The cave has been divided into several sections, with each country’s rescue team being responsible for one section.

The Hungarian Cave Rescue Service, made up of volunteer rescuers, was the first to arrive at Dickey’s location and provided emergency blood transfusions to stabilize his condition.

Appeals court orders temporary stay on Texas buoy barriers

Fri, 09/08/2023 - 02:02


A 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge ruled late on Thursday to temporarily halt an order from a district court judge that had required the state of Texas to remove controversial buoy barriers floating in the Rio Grande river, meant to deter migrants at the border with Mexico. 

In a previous ruling, a court ruled that the barriers would have to be removed by Sept. 15, and that Texas would have to pay for the removal. 

The ruling that came down late on Thursday argued that the state of Texas' ability to defend itself and its sovereignty would be hurt. Court documents outlined the argument that the United States government has "failed to defend Texas's borders, leading to millions of individuals and hundreds of millions of fatal doses of fentanyl, often trafficked by transnational criminal cartels, illegally entering Texas and the U.S." 

SEE MORE: Texas activists seek 'trafficking' laws to halt abortion travel

In a previous ruling, U.S. District Judge David Ezra had all but required Texas to dismantle the wrecking-ball sized buoys floating in the Rio Grande, saying they were a threat to safety, and that they would harm relationships with neighboring countries.

Lawyers in the appeal argued that "The buoys were deployed under the Governor’s constitutional authority to defend Texas from transnational-criminal-cartel invasion."

The lawyers said, "Moving the buoys exacerbates dangers to migrants enticed to cross the border unlawfully, and to Texans harmed by human trafficking, drug smuggling, and unchecked cartel violence."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's office said it was willing to fight the case and attempt to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. 

From 1999-2020, obesity-related cardiovascular disease deaths tripled

Fri, 09/08/2023 - 01:24


New research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association finds that the impacts of obesity on heart disease have increased. The analysis found that between 1999 and 2020, obesity-related deaths from cardiovascular disease increased threefold.

The research also found Black individuals had higher mortality rates than any other racial group in the study.

Mortality rates for all groups in the study were higher in rural areas, except for in Black individuals, who had higher mortality rates in urban settings.

Black women had the highest mortality rates of any single group in the study.

"Our study is the first to demonstrate that this increasing burden of obesity is translating into rising heart disease deaths," said lead study author and cardiologist Zahra Raisi-Estabragh, MD, in a statement. "This rising trend of obesity is affecting some populations more than others, particularly Black women."

SEE MORE: Weight-loss drugs are a lot more expensive in US than other countries

The most common diseases contributing to the increase in deaths were ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary heart disease, and hypertensive diseases as a result of chronic high blood pressure.

The study incorporated records from more than 280,000 deaths in which obesity was a contributing factor.

Between 2017 and 2020, obesity rates in the U.S. population reached 41.9%, an increase of almost 10% over the previous decade. The researchers also noted that obesity continues to be a global phenomenon, with rates of obesity rising in every country.

In the U.S. alone, obesity incurs health care costs of some $173 billion.

The researchers say their study highlights the need for better socially-targeted interventions that could help alleviate current health care inequalities.

Climate protest interrupts US Open semifinal between Gauff and Muchova

Fri, 09/08/2023 - 00:53


The U.S. Open semifinal between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova was delayed early in the second set because of a disruption by environmental activists in the Arthur Ashe Stadium stands on Thursday night.

Gauff was ahead 6-4, 1-0 when play was halted for at least 25 minutes.

Tournament referee Jake Garner came out onto the court, while security headed toward where the protesters were. They were wearing shirts that read, "End Fossil Fuels." At least one person had glued their shoes to the ground, making it harder to be removed.

At least two protesters were taken away. Later, more than a half-dozen police officers arrived — greeted by cheers from fans near the section where the disruption happened. Spectators were asked to move away to clear a path for the police.

SEE MORE: Could Americans break 20-year drought at US Open?

Gauff sat on her sideline bench for a bit, eating fruit out of a plastic container, before then getting some tennis balls and hitting a few practice serves. Muchova was briefly visited by a trainer during the interruption.

Eventually, both players headed toward the locker room as the delay continued. Gauff sat on a treadmill, a towel draped over her lap, while chatting with members of her team.

It is the latest in a recent series of protests at sporting events — and tennis, in particular — related to the use of fossil fuels.

At Wimbledon in July, two matches were interrupted when environmental activists jumped out of the stands at Court 18 and scattered orange confetti on the grass.

At a U.S. Open tune-up tournament in Washington last month, about a dozen people were asked to leave the site after chanting and displaying signs protesting the use of fossil fuels.

Man arrested after trying to cross Atlantic in human hamster wheel

Fri, 09/08/2023 - 00:38


A Florida man wanting to essentially walk on water just can't get past one obstacle: The U.S. Coast Guard, which arrested the 51-year-old after a dispute over his method of transportation.

Reza Baluchi was aboard a homemade, human-sized hamster wheel in the Atlantic Aug. 26 when the Coast Guard spotted him amid preparations for Hurricane Franklin, a criminal complaint filed in Miami said.

Some 70 miles off the coast of Georgia, the 51-year-old told officers he was headed to London by way of the "Hydro Pod vessel." But after inspecting the human-powered vessel, afloat from buoys and wiring, the Coast Guard had to halt his more than 4,000-mile journey. 

This didn't sit well with Baluchi, who said he had Florida registration to pilot the vessel, though he wasn't able to locate it for the officers asking.

When officers told Baluchi he had to disembark his "manifestly unsafe" vessel onto their small boat, he told them he "was armed with a 12-inch knife and would attempt to commit suicide should the USCG officers attempt to remove him from the Vessel."

SEE MORE: Hurricane Lee gains strength in the Atlantic

Attempts to get Baluchi to disembark his vessel continued over the next several days as he continued threatening to hurt himself and even displaying two knives. He also threatened to blow himself and the vessel up while holding wires in his hand, which the Coast Guard took as a valid threat, the complaint said. This prompted officers to contact the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit to determine the alleged bomb's radius.

Coast Guard vessels offering Baluchi support, food, water and hurricane predictions arrived on Aug. 28, according to the complaint. Though he continued to refuse disembarking orders, he told officers the bomb wasn't real, the complaint said.

Finally after a three-day standoff, Coast Guard officers were able to safely disembark Baluchi from the hamster wheel on Aug. 29, bringing him ashore in Miami Beach on Sept. 1. 

He was charged Tuesday with obstruction of boarding and a violation of a captain of the port order. Court filings show he posted a $250,000 bond.

This wasn't the first time Baluchi's had a voyage intercepted by the Coast Guard.

He attempted a voyage on a similar homemade vessel in 2014. The next year, the Coast Guard served him a captain of the port order, barring him from any future voyages on homemade vessels. But he was intercepted on another one in 2016, and again in 2021. 

Ukraine is using sea drones to deliver the fight beyond front lines

Fri, 09/08/2023 - 00:38


At the start of the full-scale invasion, Russia wiped out Ukraine's navy. Until recently, Russian warships fired cruise missiles with impunity. But Ukraine is now deploying new types of weapons, as the drone wars expand from the skies to now the sea.

Recently, Ukraine's intelligence service revealed to the world its 18-month-in-the-making innovation named "Sea Baby."

It's a kamikaze boat designed to carry upwards of 700 pounds of explosives. Sea Baby represents an entirely new class of Ukrainian homegrown weaponry that's still in its infancy.

"Ukrainians are probably trying to see, okay, well, what gets past the goalie on the Russian side," says Oleg Vornik, CEO of DroneShield, an Australian maker of counter-drone technologies. "The Russians are figuring out what the heck they're going to use to defend [themselves]. I think it's all like very, very early stage right now."

Last month, after a Sea Baby hit a Russian military ship used to carry heavy cargo, including armored vehicles, one of its siblings successfully targeted a Russian oil tanker off the eastern coast of Crimea.

The unveiling of Sea Baby solves a mystery: How did Ukraine attack the Kerch Bridge connecting Russia to Crimea back in July?

SEE MORE: Ukraine's Zelenskyy: Defense Minister Reznikov replaced this week

Ukrainian intelligence claims responsibility and now credits Sea Baby with heavily damaging the vital, highly protected, Russian supply line.

These three successful missions demonstrate that Baby's got range, and is able to ride the waves to targets at least 500 nautical miles away. At such distances, suicide missions require onboard radar to assist the person who's aiming the vessel from afar.

"If you're using a boat to smash into a target, and the target is moving, radar is the only way," says Vornik. "Well, plus, a camera is the only way really to figure out where you're actually moving to smash into a target."

Ukrainian officials aren't saying how many Sea Babies they've been able to secretly build, nor how many the Russians have successfully destroyed. But the country's military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, recently said that Russia only manages to destroy 60%-70% of Ukrainian kamikaze drone boats, and mass production of them is underway.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's global crowdsourcing initiative, United 24, is raising money for a fleet of 100 state-of-the-art naval drones. Each one costs, they say, a quarter of a million dollars to build.

Beneath the surface, Ukraine's development program also includes even harder-to-detect underwater drones. A newly unveiled model, called "Marichka" has a range of 600 miles. It's unclear how Russia would counter them.

"You can put some netting up," Fornik says. "But that's not going to be reliable over larger distances."

Pinterest to use AI, algorithm to represent more body types in search

Fri, 09/08/2023 - 00:10


Social platform Pinterest announced this week that it will be ramping up the use of AI and algorithms involved in its new "body type technology" to improve search results to show more body types to users. 

When users search for things like makeup, clothing and other inspiring design ideas and fashion, the platform wants to display a wider array of beauty standards in products, design and models. 

"When you don’t feel represented, it’s hard to feel inspired," the company said. 

SEE MORE: Google introduces new rules for the use of AI in political ads

For users who are not tall, they should expect to see more fashion suggestions in searches, like for back-to-school attire, that fit their height and body type. 

Pinterest said it was "inspired by user behavior and the culturally critical discussion around body representation." The company said it has partnered with experts to develop their body type technology that "uses shape, sizes, and form to identify body types in images."

The goal is to examine how social media platforms tend to amplify long-standing biases toward light-skinned, tall and thin women as the mainstream standard for beauty. 

"Pinterest has shaped its algorithms to increase representation of both body type and skin tone across search results and related Pins," the company said. So, Pinterest says, if a user searches for fashion inspiration, they should see search results that are more inclusive of the wide array of body types and skin tones that exist. 

A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that as the importance of body positivity increases, it puts more attention on the harms caused by fat-shaming and weight bias. 

Lee intensifies to a Category 5 hurricane

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 23:37


Hurricane Lee reached Category 5 strength on Thursday night, less than 48 hours after it reached Category 1 status on Wednesday. The storm now has top sustained wind speeds of at least 160 mph.

The storm has organized and strengthened with remarkable speed, even by the standards of fast-developing hurricanes.

The National Hurricane Center defines rapid intensification as an increase in the speed of a storm's fastest sustained winds by 35 mph within a 24-hour period. In that time frame, Lee accelerated its top wind speeds by at least 55 mph.

Forecasters expect strengthening will continue through Thursday night and Friday thanks to low winds and high ocean surface temperatures.

SEE MORE: Hurricane Lee gains strength in the Atlantic

Forecasters are also confident that the storm's path will continue west-northwest, north of the Leeward Islands, for the next five days. In that time, the main threat to land will continue to be dangerous surf and rip currents, affecting parts of the Northern Caribbean by Friday, and later the U.S. East Coast.

It's too early for forecasters to speculate on Lee's trajectory as it approaches the U.S. mainland. In the meantime, they encourage people to stay up to date with information from their local weather offices.

High court Justice Kavanaugh: 'Concrete steps soon' on court ethics

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 23:24


Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh told a judicial conference on Thursday he hopes there will be "concrete steps soon" to address recent ethics concerns surrounding the court, but he stopped short of addressing calls for justices to institute an official code of conduct.

"We can increase confidence. We’re working on that," Kavanaugh told the conference attended by judges, attorneys and other court personnel in Ohio. He said all nine justices recognize that public confidence in the court is important, particularly now.

Public trust in the court is at a 50-year low following a series of divisive rulings, including the overturning of Roe v. Wade federal abortion protections last year, and published reports about the justices' undisclosed paid trips and other ethical concerns.

"There's a storm around us in the political world and the world at large in America," Kavanaugh said. "We, as judges and the legal system, need to try to be a little more, I think, of the calm in the storm."

Justice Clarence Thomas acknowledged recently that he took three trips last year aboard a private plane owned by Republican megadonor Harlan Crow even as he rejected criticism over his failure to report trips in previous years.

Reporting by the investigative news site ProPublica also revealed that Justice Samuel Alito failed to disclose a private trip to Alaska he took in 2008 that was paid for by two wealthy Republican donors, one of whom repeatedly had interests before the court.

SEE MORE: Coach who won Supreme Court case about praying on field has resigned

The Associated Press also reported in July that Justice Sonia Sotomayor, aided by her staff, has advanced sales of her books through college visits over the past decade. The AP obtained thousands of pages of documents that showed how justices spanning the court’s ideological divide lent the prestige of their positions to partisan activity — by headlining speaking events with prominent politicians — or to advance their own personal interests.

"My perspective is we’re nine public servants who are hard-working and care a lot about the court and care a lot about the judiciary as a whole," Kavanaugh said. He added that he believes justices "respect the institution and want that respect for the institution to be shared by the American people, recognizing that people are going to disagree with our decisions."

Besides Roe v. Wade, Kavanaugh pointed to a series of lesser-noticed rulings that featured unusual line-ups that "didn’t follow some pattern" based on the political leanings of the justices' appointing presidents.

Kavanaugh, 58, is one of three justices nominated by former President Donald Trump who have reshaped the court in recent years. He has sided with conservative majorities in affirmative action and student loan rulings, as well as in the Dobbs case that overturned Roe. He joined liberal justices this term in backing Black voters in a case out of Alabama and preserving a federal law aimed at keeping Native American children with Native families.

Kavanaugh took questions from Jeffrey Sutton and Stephanie Dawkins Davis, chief judge and judge, respectively, of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court, at the conference.

At one point brandishing a dog-eared copy of the Constitution plucked from his jacket, Kavanaugh urged the gathering to act with constitutional consistency, civility and respect — including taking special care that losing parties in lawsuits understand their rulings.

"I think this is important for all judges," he said. "Respect for our system, which we all believe in, depends on the losing party still respecting the process. That’s hard to do. They’re not going to be happy, and so, to write an opinion the losing party understands and respects, they’re going to take the decision to heart."

Lawyers accuse court clerk for Murdaugh case of tampering with jury

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 23:20


Attorneys for Alex Murdaugh charge that Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill tampered with the jury to "secure for herself a book deal and media appearances that would not happen in the event of a mistrial," the attorneys claim. However, Hill’s co-author of the book "Behind the Doors of Justice: The Murdaugh Murders" Neil Gordon says there was no book deal and the attorneys could not be more wrong.

He tells Scripps News, "Well, I can tell you because I didn't meet Becky until three weeks after the trial, when we met and decided to move forward on sort of writing her memoir. I've just found her to be an incredibly genuine, honest person with a lot of integrity. A lot of character. The odd part that I thought about the press conferences. They kept using the word pressure. I've never even heard Becky raise her voice, let alone push somebody to do anything. It's just not in her DNA. And I did speak with her last night. She's retained both a defense attorney to fight state charges which involve SLED (the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division) and then an attorney related to potential federal charges ... and all of the affidavits point by point, she looks forward to responding to all of them. And then when the filing is done and presented to the attorney general, it will be on the record and then she would like her opportunity to speak out." 

Another inmate has died at Georgia jail where Trump was booked

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 22:46


Another inmate at Atlanta's problematic Fulton County Jail is dead, marking the sixth inmate death in six weeks, and tenth this year at the facility where former President Donald Trump was booked and released last month.

Detention officers found the inmate, 24-year-old Shawndre Delmore, unresponsive during a routine check on Aug. 31. Despite lifesaving measures from jail and later hospital staff, he remained in an unresponsive state and died Sept. 3.

It's a similar story for most of the other six inmates who died in the jail's custody recently.

From July 31 to Aug. 26, four inmates were also found unresponsive in their cells and were later pronounced deceased. The fourth one, 34-year-old Samuel Lawrence, had recently filed a civil rights complaint against the jail alleging excessive force from deputies and other inmates at the jail that led to injuries.

The Atlanta Police Department has said it's investigating both Lawrence's and Delmore's deaths.

Delmore's family told 11Alive they don't understand how he could've walked into the jail in April a healthy young man then suddenly died unexpectedly months later.

"My son did not deserve to die like this. He had his whole life ahead of him. I wasn't expecting to see my son in the condition he was in," said his mother Natasha Holoman.

SEE MORE: A fourth inmate has died in this problematic jail's custody this month

On Aug. 31, an inmate dispute turned into a mass stabbing at the jail, resulting in one inmate's death and four others injured with stab wounds.

These six deaths, along with another four to happen there this year, have pushed the Fulton County jail system further into the eyeline of the Department of Justice, which launched a civil investigation into the facility's alleged unsanitary conditions and severe violence in July.

The investigation stemmed from 35-year-old inmate LaShawn Thompson's death in September 2022. His family claimed he had been eaten alive by bedbugs and insects while living in the jail, alongside a private autopsy revealing Thompson had died from "severe neglect."

A recent statement from Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat said these violent and deadly incidents at the jail are "of grave concern but unfortunately [are] not surprising" due to the facility's dangerous overcrowding and its "crumbling walls."

And during a news conference Thursday, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said the jail just can't handle all that it has on its plate.

"Atlanta and Fulton County has become too big. [The jail] was antiquated the day they built it," Willis said. "People deserve to be housed humanely, even when they've been accused of crimes. We need a bigger facility, and it needs to be a facility that treats people humanely."

And adding to this jail's plate of cases is the massive one involving former President Donald Trump and 18 other co-defendants. They were all booked at the jail last month, but only one was actually held and released days later.

Google introduces new rules for the use of AI in political ads

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 22:24


Google will soon require that political ads on its platforms, including YouTube, will have to disclose if AI was used to alter images or sounds in the ad.

The rule requires a disclosure if AI was used to meaningfully alter the message or claims of an ad by changing any of its visual or audio content.

A disclaimer must be prominently displayed in such a way that a viewer will notice it.

The new rules will go into effect in November, about a year before the presidential election in the U.S. The timing of the changes may also affect election advertising in places like the EU, India and South Africa.

The change comes as some political campaigns, such as that of Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, are already using AI tools in their messaging. A June ad included AI-generated images of Donald Trump hugging Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The Republican National Committee aired an ad in April that used AI-generated images of boarded-up stores and military deployment.

SEE MORE: Judge rules that AI-generated art can't be copyrighted

Meanwhile, the Federal Election Commission is taking steps to potentially regulate the use of AI in political ads.

Some states have advanced legislation that governs the use of deepfakes in political content. U.S. Senators have also sponsored legislation that would require disclaimers in the case of deceptive AI use in political ads.

How a county has reached 'functional zero' for chronic homelessness

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 22:00


Julia Orlando is coming up with solutions to a complex challenge: Homelessness.

She oversees the Housing, Health and Human Services Center in Bergen County, New Jersey.

"We look at housing as a reward instead of a right," Orlando said about the way many view those experiencing homelessness. 

Perfection, for Orlando, would be ending homelessness. Progress is what they've done so far. Bergen County was the first, and remains among the few in America to reach "functional zero" for chronic homelessness. "Functional zero" means they have all but eliminated long-term homelessness among veterans and those dealing with a disabling condition.

The number of Americans experiencing homelessness has gone up every year since 2016. Headlines and state laws often focus on punishing those without shelter or pushing them out of downtowns. 

In Bergen County, the focus for 14 years has been bringing people in need to the center, providing every need they might have under one roof, and then securing them their own roofs in a matter of months. 

SEE MORE: Transgender homelessness surging amid wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation

Stephanie Zahn is one of the people who takes advantage of the resources in Bergen County. She meets with a counselor every week. 

"Mentally I'm just stressed," Zahn told her counselor. "But I'm taking my medication. I'm keeping my appointments."

Now, she's close to having a new place. That's where Orlando says the county truly stands out. They have services to help, but they also have the vouchers and affordable housing to place those in need.

"It's very hard to work on your mental health and your addiction when you're on the street," Orlando said.

To date, just a handful of communities have achieved "functional zero." But "functional zero" doesn't mean "absolute zero." On a given night in Bergen County, hundreds remain without homes. Dozens show up at the center for dinner and stay in the shelter.

"We have many referrals here that are people over the age of 80 years old," said Orlando. "That is a concern to me because we're a community that's reached functional zero, I think people maybe think, 'Then shouldn't your shelter be empty?' Your shelter's never going to be empty."

Progress, for Orlando, comes from the county's consistent will to not punish, but to treat. It's the message ingrained around the center: Savor progress in pursuit of perfection.

SEE MORE: What's being done to curb homelessness in US suburbs

The Colorado River is significantly declining due to climate change

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 21:45


The Colorado River is an artery that pumps millions of gallons of water to tens of millions of people in the Southwestern United States. And as much as the river divides and segments the land it runs through, it also connects.

"Water in western Colorado is not a partisan issue," said Andy Mueller, the executive director for the Colorado River District. "We have some of the most liberal counties in America, but we also have some of the most conservative counties in America, and yet when they come together — their representatives who employ me — 90% of the time they agree on water policy issues. And it is the one area in today's really divided political discourse where we see some united discussion."

A new study out of UCLA shows the Colorado River has lost 10% of its water since the 1950s due to rising temperatures. Along parts of the Colorado, that loss is due to lessened snowpack as the area becomes more arid, but in others it's due to evaporation as the temperatures cause the water to change to a gas more quickly.

"We're finding a lot more competition for a scarcer resource," said Mueller. 

"Yeah, in the last five years, there were four of those five years where we could see way below average flows. I could see rocks in this river that I would never be able to see otherwise. Old foundations from bridges were showing up in the middle of the river. It's really remarkable how different the river is behaving than it did 20 or 30 years ago," said Mueller. 

Maybe you're thinking, I live in a city, what does this river that begins in the middle of the mountains have to do with me?

SEE MORE: A tiny fish returns to Mississippi after vanishing 50 years ago

Consider the fact the Colorado provides water to people in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego and Phoenix. It also irrigates 15% of our country's agriculture, which includes 90% of our nation's winter vegetables. It also provides an income to the countless people and communities that reside along its shores.

"Right there the Roaring Fork joins up with the Colorado, and the Roaring Fork is a gold star fly fishing river. That is a huge industry through Glenwood and then rafting, obviously, is another huge industry, and with those two gone you would have hundreds of seasonal workers who aren't going to have jobs in this area, for sure, and a bunch of companies that would go out of business, absolutely," said Abby Lang, a tour guide for Glenwood Adventure Company.

To prevent that future, millions of voters have dug into their pockets to help. In 2020, 72% of voters in the Colorado River District voted to increase their property taxes to fund projects that would lead to future resilience. For farmers, the money has gone to switching to crops that use less water. It's also gone to building and land use codes that would reduce water use, and revitalization projects that would allow the Colorado to run as best as it can under its current condition. It's proof that this water source and the effects on it are vital to more than just those who live along it.

"The Colorado River and its tributaries absolutely is the fundamental building block to life and society here. Without this river, without the water it provides, we would not have cities, we would not have agriculture, it would be a barren land," said Mueller. 

First lady Jill Biden tests negative for COVID-19

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 21:34


After testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week and suffering from minor symptoms, first lady Jill Biden tested negative for the virus on Thursday, the White House reported. President Biden also tested negative, again. 

Infections and hospitalizations have been spiking in places across the United States as summer ends. 

The public health emergency from the era of the COVID-19 pandemic was declared officially over, but the virus still persists. 

SEE MORE: COVID is surging. What is the latest CDC quarantine, mask guidance?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 17,000 people were hospitalized with the virus in the last week — a 15% increase from the week before.

Scientists first noticed the increases when testing wastewater for the virus. The numbers, while not a surge, are seen by experts as trending upward heading into fall. 

The CDC recommends that people who test positive for the virus stay home and try to isolate for five days, until symptoms go away. While the CDC has issued recommendations that the public consider wearing masks, there is not a mandate. The CDC released a report recently warning doctors that they have seen spikes in RSV as well, but there have been various developments in mitigation measures and treatments for that respiratory virus this year.