Newsy

Subscribe to Newsy feed
The Latest Videos From Scrippsnews.com
Updated: 1 week 2 days ago

Experts warn climate change is making your allergies worse

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 23:23

View

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says as many as 60 million Americans a year are impacted by allergies, and experts say those seasonal allergies are getting less seasonal. 

"The main thing is global warming or climate change has led to longer seasons, they're starting earlier and earlier," said Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist with the Allergy and Asthma Network. 

"Not only are the seasons longer, but there's more levels of carbon dioxide in the air, which are greenhouse gases and plants feed off of that, so as a result, they produce more pollen. So not only are they producing it for longer amounts of time, they're producing it more at a higher intensity. So it's both a longer and a stronger season," she said. 

Just in time for the sniffling to begin this spring, the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA) just released their annual report of which cities will be the most allergy-challenged this year.

Wichita, Kansas, takes the top spot, based on higher-than-average tree and grass pollen, higher-than-average medicine use and lack of allergy specialists. Virginia Beach, Virginia, Greenville, South Carolina, Dallas and Oklahoma City round out the top five.

"We are the new canary in the coal mine, because we're feeling the impacts of climate change in things like our seasonal allergies. If people are saying my allergies are a lot worse or I never had allergies before, that's because of the longer and more intense allergy seasons," said AAFA president and CEO Kenny Mendez. 

While allergies will impact each area of the country differently, Mendez says climate change is the factor making it worse for everyone, including making asthma symptoms more severe. Mendez says over 10 people die every day from asthma, and allergies can be a trigger for an attack. 

Dr. Parikh sees the impact allergies have on asthma in her practice frequently. 

"We always see a rise in ER visits, hospitalizations this time of year due to asthma attacks," she said. 

AAFA data says that growing seasons are starting earlier and lasting longer than they did 30 years ago, even showing that some parts of the country experience pollen closer to year-round. Mendez says higher temperatures can also trap heat in more urban areas too, which stimulates pollen production.

"The trees start pollinating sooner, the carbon dioxide from tailpipe emissions and other pollutants supercharges the carbon dioxide and pollen releases, people actually can feel worse allergies in urban areas," he said. 

So how to prepare for the allergy season ahead? Dr. Parikh says the 24-hour over-the-counter meds, including nasal sprays, are a good bet for safe and effective treatment — but stay away from decongestants for long-term use. There are also things you can do at home, like sleeping with the windows closed, to help to reduce pollen exposure.

"We always recommend taking your shoes off, changing your clothes, showering if possible, because that washes all the pollen off of you, or not bringing it into your house and your bed when you go to sleep. And that also will reduce your constant exposure to it," said Dr. Parik. 

SEE MORE: What causes fall allergies? Here's how to alleviate symptoms

Reddit, the self-anointed 'front page of the internet,' soars in debut

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 22:52

View

Reddit's stock soared in its Wall Street debut as investors pushed the value of the company close to $9 billion seconds after it began trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reddit, which priced its IPO at $34 a share, debuted Thursday afternoon at $47 a share. At the close of trading, it was up 48% at $50.44, backing off a peak of $57.80.

“This volatility is not surprising because there has been a lot of buzz around Reddit,” Reena Aggarwal, director of Georgetown University’s Psaros Center for Financial Markets and Policy, noted.

When Reddit's price initially jumped, she explained, some investors who got an allocation may have sold their shares to cash in on the gains, bringing it back down. She noted that this pattern could continue in the stock's early days.

Reddit's IPO will test the quirky company’s ability to overcome a nearly 20-year history colored by uninterrupted losses, management turmoil and user backlashes to build a sustainable business.

The interest surrounding Reddit stems largely from a large audience that religiously visits the service to discuss a potpourri of subjects that range from silly memes to existential worries, as well as get recommendations from like-minded people.

About 76 million users checked into one of Reddit’s roughly 100,000 communities in December, according to the regulatory disclosures required before the San Francisco company went public. Reddit set aside up to 1.76 million of 15.3 million shares being offered in the IPO for users of its service.

Per the usual IPO custom, the remaining shares are expected to be bought primarily by mutual funds and other institutional investors betting Reddit is ready for prime time in finance.

Reddit’s moneymaking potential also has attracted some prominent supporters, including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, who accumulated a stake as an early investor that has made him one of the company’s biggest shareholders. Altman owns 12.2 million shares of Reddit stock, according to the company’s IPO disclosures.

By the tech industry’s standards, Reddit remains extraordinarily small for a company that has been around as long as it has. Thursday's opening debut valuation of $9 billion, for example, is still far below the $1.2 trillion market value boasted by Meta Platforms — whose biggest social media service Facebook was started just 18 months earlier than Reddit.

Reddit has never profited from its broad reach while piling up cumulative losses of $717 million. That number has swollen from cumulative losses of $467 million in December 2021 when the company first filed papers to go public before aborting that attempt.

In the recent documents filed for its revived IPO, Reddit attributed the losses to a fairly recent focus on finding new ways to boost revenue.

Not long after it was born, Reddit was sold to magazine publisher Conde Nast for $10 million in a deal that meant the company didn’t need to run as a standalone business. Even after Conde Nast parent Advance Magazine Publishers spun off Reddit in 2011, the company said in its IPO filing that it didn’t begin to focus on generating revenue until 2018.

Those efforts, mostly centered around selling ads, have helped the social platform increase its annual revenue from $229 million in 2020 to $804 million last year. But the San Francisco-based company also posted combined losses of $436 million from 2020 through 2023.

Reddit outlined a strategy in its filing, calling for even more ad sales on a service that it believes will be a powerful marketing magnet because so many people search for product recommendations there. The company also is hoping to bring in more money by licensing access to its content in deals similar to the $60 million that Google recently struck to help train its artificial intelligence models. That ambition, though, faced an almost immediate challenge when the U.S. Federal Trade Commission opened an inquiry into the arrangement.

Since Thursday just marks Reddit's first day on the public market, Aggarwal stressed that the first key measure of success will boil down to the company's next earnings call. “As a public company now they have to report a lot more ... in the next earnings release," she said. "I’m sure the market will watch that carefully.” Reddit also experienced tumultuous bouts of instability in leadership that may scare off prospective investors. Company co-founders Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian — the husband of tennis superstar Serena Williams — both left Reddit in 2009 while Conde Nast was still in control, only to return years later.

Huffman, 40, is now CEO. Although his founder’s letter leading up to this IPO didn’t mention it, Huffman touched upon the company’s past turmoil in another missive included in a December 2021 filing attempt that was subsequently canceled. “We lived these challenges publicly and have the scars, learnings, and policy updates to prove it," Huffman then wrote. "Our history influences our future. There will undoubtedly be more challenges to come.”

Police: Escaped Idaho prison gang member and accomplice are in custody

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 21:44

View

A White supremacist Idaho prison gang member and an accomplice were in custody Thursday after a brazen attack to free the inmate as he was being transported from a Boise hospital, authorities said.

Escaped inmate Skylar Meade, a 31-year-old member of the Aryan Knights gang, and his accomplice Nicholas Umphenour fled the scene early Wednesday morning and were arrested at 2 p.m. Thursday in Twin Falls, authorities said.

Police throughout the region were looking for both men. Meade was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2017 for shooting at a sheriff’s sergeant during a high-speed chase.

Authorities said they were alerted of the attack at 2:15 a.m. Wednesday as Idaho Department of Corrections officers prepared to bring Meade back to prison from Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, where they had taken him after he injured himself, officials said.

Meade had been imprisoned at Idaho Maximum Security Institution in Kuna, about 12 miles (19 kilometers) south of Boise.

Police said Nicholas Umphenour is suspected of shooting two corrections officers during Wednesday's ambush in the ambulance bay at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. A warrant with a $2 million bond was issued for his arrest on two charges of aggravated battery against law enforcement and one charge of aiding and abetting an escape, police said.

He and inmate Skylar Meade drove off early Wednesday after the shooting in a gray 2020 Honda Civic with Idaho plates. The car was later located near Leeland, Idaho.

Officials described Meade, 31, as a White supremacist gang member. Meade was sentenced to 20 years in 2017 for shooting at a sheriff’s sergeant during a high-speed chase.

Three corrections officers were shot and wounded during the attack — two allegedly by Umphenour and one by responding police. One officer shot by the suspect was in critical but stable condition, police said, while the second wounded officer had serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The third injured corrections officer also sustained non-life-threatening injuries when a responding officer — incorrectly believing the shooter was still in the emergency room and seeing an armed person near the entrance — opened fire.

“This brazen, violent, and apparently coordinated attack on Idaho Department of Corrections personnel, to facilitate an escape of a dangerous inmate, was carried out right in front of the Emergency Department, where people come for medical help, often in the direst circumstances,” Boise Police Chief Ron Winegar said in a written statement.

Umphenour, 5-foot-11 (180 centimeters) and 160 pounds (72.5 kilograms), has brown hair and hazel eyes, police said. Detectives have confirmed that he is an associate of Meade, police said.

Meade, 5-foot-6 (168 centimeters) and 150 pounds (68 kilograms), has face tattoos with the numbers 1 and 11 — for A and K, the first and 11th letters of the alphabet, representing the Aryan Knights gang he affiliated with, Tewalt said. Photos released by police also showed an A and K tattooed on his abdomen.

The Aryan Knights formed in the mid-1990s in Idaho's prison system to organize criminal activity for a select group of white people in custody, as well as outside prison walls, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in the district of Idaho.

In 2021, a man described as a leader in the group was sentenced to life in prison for his role in a plot to traffic drugs behind bars and use violence to collect unpaid debts. In a court filing ahead of Harlan Hale’s sentencing, federal prosecutors described the Aryan Knights as a “scourge” within the state's prison system that drains its resources.

“The hate-fueled gang engages in many types of criminal activity and casts shadows of intimidation, addiction, and violence over prison life,” prosecutors wrote.

SEE MORE: 3 corrections officers shot as suspect broke an inmate out of hospital

In 2022, the Anti-Defamation League counted 75 different White supremacist prison gangs in federal or local facilities in at least 38 states. The ADL said two of the largest such groups, the Aryan Circle and Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, had at least 1,500 members.

Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow for the ADL’s Center on Extremism, estimates that the Aryan Knights has approximately 150 members behind bars and roughly 100 more on the streets. He said it operates in other states, including Washington and Oregon.

“With all White supremacist prison gangs, the ideology takes a backseat to the organized crime. That’s just a given,” he said. “They use that as a sort of a glue to help keep them together and help keep them loyal to the gang.”

Pitcavage said White supremacist prison gangs are a very different phenomenon than neo-Nazi groups like Aryan Nations, which had a compound in north Idaho at its peak in the 1980s and 1990s.

Meade had been held in a type of solitary confinement called administrative segregation at Idaho Maximum Security Institution in Kuna, about 12 miles (19 kilometers) south of Boise, because officials deemed him a severe security risk, Tewalt said.

Tewalt said earlier in the day that Meade had been escorted in the ambulance and at the hospital by two uniformed, unarmed officers wearing ballistic vests, tailed by armed staff. Later in the day Correction Department spokesperson Sanda Kuzeta-Cerimagic said in an email that officials had confirmed that one officer had been in the ambulance with Meade and two officers were in an escort vehicle.

“To the best of our knowledge, Meade was in restraints while being escorted in and out of the hospital,” Kuzeta-Cerimagic said. In a press conference Thursday, authorities said their protocol was “wholly in line with our policies and practices.”

Authorities also did not say if other security measures were in place when Meade was leaving the hospital.

The attack came amid a wave of gun violence at hospitals and medical centers, which have struggled to adapt to the threats.

A hospital spokesperson said the shooting happened in the ambulance bay by its emergency department.

“All patients and staff are safe, the medical center campus is safe and secure, and has resumed normal operations. The Emergency Department itself is currently under temporary lockdown while the Boise Police Department completes the investigation,” Leticia Ramirez said Wednesday morning in a statement.

She said as an added precaution, “we have increased security on campus, all entrances to the hospital will be closed” and monitored by hospital security until further notice.

Ramirez declined to comment when asked about Meade, deferring to the police department.

Plane lands safely in North Las Vegas after losing a door midflight

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 21:35

View

An aircraft landed safely at North Las Vegas Airport after losing a door midflight. The incident prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to investigate, according to an agency spokesperson, Scripps News Las Vegas reported. 

SEE MORE: Man arrested after boarding flight without ticket, hiding in bathroom

The plane, a single-engine Diamond DA 40, landed safely at 9:20 a.m. local time on Thursday, March 7 "after losing the left rear passenger door," the FAA said in a statement to Scripps News. 

"There were two people on board" the plane at the time, the FAA said.  

Beyond noting that the agency is investigating, the FAA shared few additional details. The aircraft was manufactured by Diamond Aircraft IND Inc., and had a certificate that is valid and was issued in late 2020, according to the FAA's registry website. The plane is registered to Tactical Integrated Training Solutions LLC based out of Colorado Springs, Colorado, the FAA registry said. 

This story was originally published by Scripps News Las Vegas

Prosecutors say Donald Trump's hush money trial should start April 15

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 21:30

View

New York prosecutors on Thursday urged a judge to start Donald Trump's hush money criminal trial on April 15, saying the defense's calls for further delays or dismissal of the former president's case because of a last-minute evidence dump were a "red herring."

The vast majority of records that Trump's lawyers received in recent weeks — more than 100,000 pages from a prior federal investigation into the matter — were "entirely immaterial, duplicative or substantially duplicative" of evidence they'd already been given, the Manhattan district attorney's office said.

One batch containing 31,000 documents had fewer than 270 that were relevant to Trump's case and had not previously been given to his lawyers, prosecutors said. The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan finished giving evidence to Trump's lawyers on March 15.

Trump pleaded not guilty last year to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in what prosecutors said was an effort to hide arrangements to bury damaging stories during his 2016 presidential campaign

His lawyers' "grab-bag of meritless discovery arguments is the latest of a long series of attempts to evade responsibility for the conduct charged in the indictment," Assistant District Attorney Matthew Colangelo wrote.

In all, about 10 million pages of evidence have been turned over by Trump's lawyers since his indictment a year ago, including grand jury minutes, bank records, witness statements, cell phone data, and records from his company, the Trump Organization, Colangelo said.

Judge Juan M. Merchan last week postponed the trial until at least mid-April after Trump's lawyers complained that their preparations were being hampered by the late arrival of evidence from the 2018 federal investigation that sent his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen to prison.

SEE MORE: Judge delays Trump's hush-money trial, citing last-minute evidence

Cohen, now an outspoken critic of Trump, is poised to testify against him as a star prosecution witness in the hush money case. The D.A.'s office did not oppose Merchan's 30-day delay but said it would fight the defense's attempts to put the trial off any longer.

Trump's criminal trial had been scheduled to begin Monday. The hush money case is among four criminal indictments against the presumptive Republican nominee as he campaigns to retake the White House.

Instead, on Monday, Merchan will hold a hearing to assess "who, if anyone, is at fault" for the late evidence, whether it hurt either side and whether any sanctions are warranted. Trump is expected to attend.

The hush money case centers on allegations that Trump aimed to hide the true nature of payments to Cohen, who paid porn actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 to suppress her claims of an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump years earlier. Trump has denied her claims. His lawyers argue the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal expenses and not part of any cover-up.

Trump's lawyers have said some of the recently arriving evidence appears to be "exculpatory and favorable to the defense." Prosecutors argue it mostly pertains to Cohen's unrelated federal convictions, though that material could come in handy to Trump's lawyers in seeking to undermine Cohen's credibility.

Trump's lawyers want a 90-day delay, but they've also asked Merchan to dismiss the case entirely, alleging the late disclosures amount to prosecutorial misconduct and violate rules governing the sharing of evidence. That sharing process, called discovery, is routine in criminal cases and is intended to help ensure a fair trial.

SEE MORE: Ex-Trump aide Peter Navarro reports to prison

Prosecutors said in a court filing Thursday that the Trump legal team's allegations were "wholly unfounded, and the circumstances here do not come close to warranting the extreme sanctions" that are being sought.

They said there was no discovery violation because evidence-sharing rules apply only to material in their possession — not evidence kept by outside parties. They've also blamed Trump's lawyers for bringing the time crunch upon themselves by waiting until Jan. 18 to subpoena the records from the U.S. attorney's office — a mere nine weeks before jury selection was supposed to start.

The defense has also sought to delay the trial until after the Supreme Court rules on Trump's presidential immunity claims, which his lawyers say could apply to some of the allegations and evidence in the hush money case. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments April 25.

Cohen broke with Trump in 2018 after a decade working for him and soon pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations related to the hush money payments, as well as unrelated charges of making false statements on a bank loan application, evading taxes related to his taxi industry investments and lying to Congress.

Cohen went to prison for about a year before being released to home confinement because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He became an outspoken Trump foe and is poised to be a key prosecution witness against Trump. Trump and his lawyers, meanwhile, contend Cohen is untrustworthy.

In their case against Cohen, federal prosecutors said the hush money payments were made to benefit Trump and occurred with his knowledge — but they stopped short of accusing Trump of directly committing a crime.

The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which provides legal advice and guidance to federal agencies, has maintained that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Federal prosecutors didn't revive their investigation once Trump left the White House after losing the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden.

Carlee Russell, who faked her own kidnapping, will serve no jail time

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 21:25

View

Carlee Russell, the Alabama woman whose false kidnapping story last July captivated the nation, pleaded guilty Thursday to filing a false police report and falsely reporting an incident to law enforcement.

A judge had found the 26-year-old guilty of the two misdemeanor charges in October, but her attorneys appealed the decision. A trial was set for March 18 before the plea hearing was scheduled last week.

In court Thursday, prosecutor Katherine Robertson asked the judge to deviate upward from sentencing guidelines and give Russell jail time because of her "ongoing, complete disrespect" for the community and law enforcement in perpetuating her hoax.

But Judge David Carpenter said it would be an even further "waste" of government resources to put Russell in jail, adding he would not treat Russell differently from any other first-time nonviolent offender.

Ultimately, Russell was given a six-month suspended sentence — allowing her to avoid going to jail — and 12 months of supervised probation. She'll also have to pay $17,974.88 in restitution to the city of Hoover and do community service.

Hoover Police Chief Nicholas Derzis said he was "disappointed" that Russell didn't get jail time and said the restitution amount didn't come close to what was actually spent, which he said was around $40,000 to $50,000.

SEE MORE: Carlee Russell's Alabama abduction hoax could affect legislation

Police had begun searching for Russell on July 13, 2023, when she disappeared after calling 911 to report a toddler wandering beside an interstate near Birmingham. She returned home two days later and told police she was abducted, but soon after, police shared that her attorneys acknowledged the wandering toddler and kidnapping never occurred. 

During the plea hearing Thursday, Russell tearfully apologized for the "negative impact" of her actions, saying she made a "grave mistake while trying to fight through various emotional issues" and regrets the pain she put everyone through. Her attorneys said she is now looking forward to putting the incident behind her and redeeming herself.

But the case appears to have made a mark on the state, as a bill that would make false reporting a felony works its way through the state legislature. The prosecutor acknowledged the bill Thursday, saying that Russell's case showed the need for tougher laws around the crime.

About 68% of children in Chicago exposed to lead-contaminated water

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 21:16

View

A new study has found that a significant number of children in Chicago are being exposed to lead in their drinking water, with increased levels of exposure among Black and Hispanic households.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health tested tap water in 38,385 homes from 2016 to 2023, and based on that sample found that about 68% of kids under 6 years old in Chicago were drinking water containing lead.

The study, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics, states that out of that 68% exposed to lead, 19% of them (22,400) used unfiltered tap water as their main source of water, with Black and Hispanic populations being less likely to be tested for lead exposure and more likely to have contaminated water sources. 

“Many cities across the U.S. still have lead service lines in their water systems, including Chicago, Illinois, where lead pipes were mandated until the 1986 federal ban,” the study notes. “Chicago is estimated to have nearly 400,000 lead service lines (where 1 line serves approximately 1 household), the most of any U.S. city. Despite efforts to identify and replace lead service lines, progress has been slow, with only 280 (0.007%) lead pipes replaced by the city government from 2020 to 2022.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, drinking water containing any amount of lead is unsafe, and even low levels of lead consumption can result in developmental problems. 

"In children, low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells," the EPA states. 

In 2023, the EPA proposed that cities across the U.S. replace lead service lines they control within 10 years, but since Chicago has a more extensive lead pipe problem than any other U.S. city, it needs 40-50 years to replace them, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

SEE MORE: A pediatrician talks about the EPA's lead pipe replacement plan

First genetically edited pig kidney transplanted into living human

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 21:01

View

For the first time, doctors have successfully transplanted a genetically edited pig kidney into a living human.

Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital took the kidney and transplanted it into a 62-year-old man with end-stage kidney disease.

The surgery took four hours and was completed on Saturday. The patient, Richard Slayman of Massachusetts, is recovering and will be discharged soon, the hospital announced in a press release Thursday morning.

The pig kidney was modified using CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology, allowing researchers to add human genes to improve the compatibility, and remove harmful pig genes.

The transplant was done under a single FDA expanded access protocol, which allows for investigational medical products or procedures to be used on a patient with a life-threatening disease or condition.

SEE MORE: Pig kidney works in a donated body for over a month

This is not the first time a genetically edited pig kidney has been put in a human body.

Last year, doctors at NYU Langone Health successfully completed a pig kidney xenotransplantation into a man who had been declared brain-dead and was maintained on a ventilator.

The pig kidney functioned for months.

Advocates say this is a potential solution for the worldwide organ shortage.

More than 103,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for an organ transplant as of March 21, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

Close to 90,000 people are waiting for a kidney donation, according to Donate Life America.

Those who oppose procedures like this say it’s harming animals and dangerous to human health.

Last year, the nonprofit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, wrote in a press release, “These experimenters are harming animals, exploiting a human who can’t speak for himself, and risking another pandemic. It’s impossible to ensure that organs from pigs do not harbor dangerous viruses.”

@scrippsnews Surgeons successfully completed the first gene-edited pig kidney transplant into a living human this week. With more than 90,000 Americans waiting for a kidney donation, advocates say this could be a possible solution. #pigkidneytohuman #kidneytransplant #organdonor ♬ original sound - Scripps News

SEE MORE: US investigating organ collection groups for potential fraud

Kentucky parents accused of trying to sell newborn twins for $5,000

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 20:39

View

A Kentucky mom and dad were arrested for allegedly trying to sell their newborn twin daughters for $5,000.

According to an arrest citation, Zackary Davis and Jacquilyn Keith are both charged with promoting human trafficking after a relative contacted police regarding the alleged sale.

The arrest citation states that after responding to the home and interviewing the parents, Davis admitted to saying he would sell the twins but claims he was joking because he "thought the relatives were going to try and take them regardless." Keith told officers that she "felt that the relatives were trying to set them up."

According to the arrest citation, Davis told police that the relative had been watching the newborns for around three weeks and would "always talk him into letting them keep them rather than taking them home."

Police obtained screenshots from the relative of conversations with Davis about the incident.

Davis and Keith were arrested and booked into the Jackson County Detention Center.

This story was originally published by Cherish Walters on Scripps News Lexington.

SEE MORE: 3rd man charged in connection to woman's death at Chiefs parade rally

Texas awaits ruling on controversial immigration law

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 20:35

View

The back-and-forth legal battle over a controversial Texas immigration law now rests with three judges on an appeals court panel.

The law, currently stayed until the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rules whether it can go into effect, empowers law enforcement all over the Lone Star State to arrest people "suspected" of crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

"Texas has decided we are at the epicenter of this crisis. We are on the front line and we're going to do something about it," said Aaron Nielson, Texas' solicitor general. 

The Biden administration argues the measure is unconstitutional and that those powers belong only to the federal government. 

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the law to take effect without ruling on the merits of the law. 

However, a late-night order from the 5th Circuit put the law on hold again. In a hearing Wednesday's hearing, the appeals court appeared divided on whether the law should stand.

The three-judge panel is made up of a Trump appointee, a George W. Bush appointee and a Biden appointee. Only the Trump appointee, who used to be the solicitor general of Texas, appeared to be sympathetic to Texas' arguments. The Biden appointee didn't ask any questions or make comments during the hearing.

Chief Judge Priscilla Richman, a George W. Bush appointee, seemed skeptical, quoting a 2012 Supreme Court ruling against Arizona that puts the power to admit or remove migrants with the federal government.

"It seems to me this statute washes that away," Richman said. 

Judge Andrew Oldham, a Donald Trump appointee, asked about states' powers on immigration.

"Is there anything a state can just do because they think it's a good matter for the people of Texas outside of what Congress has allowed them to do?" asked Oldham. 

The court, considered to be the most ideologically conservative in the appellate system, is still mulling a decision. 

If the law takes effect, critics worry about civil rights violations and wrongful arrests.

SEE MORE: Supreme Court lifts stay on TX law allowing police to arrest migrants

Final former Mississippi officer sentenced over torture of 2 Black men

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 20:09

View

Sentencing has concluded for the six White former officers in Mississippi who pleaded guilty to breaking into a home without a warrant and torturing two Black men.

High-ranking former deputy Brett McAlpin, 53, was the fifth former law enforcement officer sentenced this week by U.S. District Judge Tom Lee after pleading guilty to the attack, which involved beatings, repeated uses of stun guns and assaults with a sex toy before one of the victims was shot in the mouth. The final member of the group, 32-year-old former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield, was given a sentence of about 10 years on Thursday afternoon.

McAlpin on Thursday wore a jumpsuit turned inside out to conceal the name of the jail where he is detained, and he nodded to his family in the courtroom. He offered an apology before the judge sentenced him.

“This was all wrong, very wrong. It’s not how people should treat each other and even more so, it’s not how law enforcement should treat people,” said McAlpin, who did not look at the victims as he spoke. “I’m really sorry for being a part of something that made law enforcement look so bad.”

Lee sentenced Christian Dedmon, 29, to 40 years and Daniel Opdyke, 28, to 17.5 years on Wednesday. He gave about 20 years to Hunter Elward, 31, and 17.5 years to Jeffrey Middleton, 46, on Tuesday. All but Hartfield served with the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office outside Mississippi’s capital city, where some called themselves “The Goon Squad.”

McAlpin was the fourth highest-ranking officer at the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office, a probation officer said in court. Arguing for a lengthy sentence, federal prosecutor Christopher Perras said McAlpin was not technically a member of the Goon Squad but “molded the men into the goons they became.”

Parker told investigators that McAlpin, who was off duty and not in uniform during the attack, functioned like a “mafia don" as he instructed the officers throughout the evening. Prosecutors said other deputies often tried to impress McAlpin, and Opdyke's attorney said Wednesday that his client saw McAlpin as a father figure.

The younger deputies who were already sentenced tried to wrap their heads around how they had started off “wanting to be good law enforcement officers and turned into monsters,” Perras said Thursday.

“How did these deputies learn to treat another human being this way? Your honor, the answer is sitting right there," Perras said as he turned and pointed at McAlpin.

In March 2023, months before federal prosecutors announced charges in August, an investigation by The Associated Press linked some of the deputies to at least four violent encounters with Black men since 2019 that left two dead and another with lasting injuries.

The officers invented false charges against the victims, planting a gun and drugs at the scene of their crime, and stuck to their cover story for months until finally admitting that they tortured Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker. Elward admitted to shoving a gun into Jenkins’ mouth and firing it in what federal prosecutors said was meant to be a “mock execution.”

In a statement read by his attorney Thursday, Jenkins said he “felt like a slave” and was “left to die like a dog.”

“If those who are in charge of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office can participate in these kinds of torture, God help us all. And God help Rankin County,” Jenkins said.

Lee handed down prison terms near the top of the sentencing guidelines for all of the culprits, except for Hartfield.

SEE MORE: Former Mississippi officer sentenced to 40 years for racist torture

The terror began Jan. 24, 2023, with a racist call for extrajudicial violence when a White person complained to McAlpin that two Black men were staying with a White woman at a house in Braxton. McAlpin told Dedmon, who texted a group of White deputies asking if they were “available for a mission.”

“No bad mugshots,” Dedmon texted — a green light, according to prosecutors, to use excessive force on parts of the body that wouldn’t appear in a booking photo.

Dedmon also brought Hartfield, who was instructed to cover the back door of the property during their illegal entry.

Once inside, the officers mocked the victims with racial slurs and shocked them with stun guns. They handcuffed them and poured milk, alcohol and chocolate syrup over their faces. Dedmon and Opdyke assaulted them with a sex toy. They forced them to strip naked and shower together to conceal the mess.

After Elward shot Jenkins in the mouth, lacerating his tongue and breaking his jaw, they devised a coverup. The deputies agreed to plant drugs, and false charges stood against Jenkins and Parker for months.

McAlpin and Middleton, the oldest men of the group, threatened to kill the other officers if they spoke up, prosecutors said. In court Thursday, McAlpin's attorney Aafram Sellers said only Middleton threatened to kill the other officers.

Sellers also questioned probation officer Allie Whitten on the stand about details submitted to the judge. When federal investigators interviewed the neighbor who called McAlpin, that person reported seeing “trashy” people at the house who were both White and Black, Sellers said. That called into question whether the episode started on the basis of race, he argued.

Federal prosecutors said the neighbor referred to people at the home as “those people” and “thugs.” The information included in the charging documents, which the officers did not dispute when they pleaded guilty, revealed some of them used racial taunts and epithets throughout the episode.

The majority-White Rankin County is just east of Jackson, home to one of the highest percentages of Black residents of any major U.S. city. The officers shouted at Jenkins and Parker to “stay out of Rankin County and go back to Jackson or ‘their side’ of the Pearl River,” court documents say.

Attorneys for several of the deputies said their clients became ensnared in a culture of corruption that was not only permitted, but encouraged by leaders within the sheriff's office.

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey, who took office in 2012, revealed no details about his deputies’ actions when he announced they had been fired last June. After they pleaded guilty in August, Bailey said the officers had gone rogue and promised changes. Jenkins and Parker called for his resignation and filed a $400 million civil lawsuit against the department. Last November, Bailey was reelected without opposition to another four-year term.

Michigan teacher says she was fired for rapping on social media

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 19:16

View

A Michigan woman is saying she was recently fired from her teaching position because of her rap career and music videos.

Domonique Brown, whose rap name is Drippin' Honey, has been an educator for seven years. She started teaching history at Taylor Preparatory High School in August, but all that came to an abrupt end months after she says a parent came across one of her rap videos online.

“The first meeting that I had with, like the principal and the dean, they had told me that the parent wished to stay anonymous and she felt as if she didn’t like my rap career and that I was a bad influence on the kids because I rap," Brown said.

She says she was fired in February because she’s a rapper. Before the firing, around Thanksgiving, she says there were meetings and an ultimatum.

“My mind and my heart were telling me two things," Brown added. "I couldn’t see myself, like, giving up my other passion just because somebody didn’t like it and they say, ‘Erase all your content.' That was the ultimatum. Erase all your content. I was like, 'Respectfully, I can’t do that.'"

SEE MORE: Texas teacher fired for showing illustrated book about Anne Frank

Brown acknowledges the profanity in her lyrics, but she says that has nothing to do with Taylor Prep and the positive impact she’s had on her students and the community.

Scripps News Detroit asked if she thinks the issue is her rap career or the (lyrical) content.

"The meetings was like so one-sided where they only told me what somebody didn’t like," Brown said. "They didn’t tell me, as if, ‘You did this wrong. You did that wrong’ ... that’s why I also [said] on my behalf, 'Well send me what am I doing wrong in writing.'”

The writing was on the wall. Despite that, in December, she won teacher of the month.

In February, on her last day, she created a music video, "Drippin' 101," with her students that has since gone viral on TikTok.

SEE MORE: US school districts desperate to fill teacher vacancies

Christina Lynn Lackley-Bah told Scripps News, "As a parent, we long for teachers who support our children and who inspire them, and she was one of those teachers. So really disappointed."

Lackley-Bah says her son, an 11th grader, started a petition in support of Brown, gathering over 200 student signatures.

She says she's seen Brown's videos, and that they're no different than any other hip-hop video a child can access on social media.

"For me, it doesn't matter what you do outside of the education structure," Lackley-Bah added. "Like, once you leave that particular building and you go on with life, you do whatever you do."

Brown says she misses her students and making an impact and is speaking with an attorney about her termination.

“These kids have their own goals, their own aspirations. I’m just trying to see how I can help them," she said.

Scripps News Detroit reached out to Taylor Prep High School for comment and received the following statement from spokeswoman Leah Nixon with National Heritage Academies:

"While student and employee privacy rights limit the details I can share, what I can say is that we are aware of the alleged claims by a former teacher. Student well-being remains at the forefront of everything we do, and we will continue fostering a distraction-free teaching and learning environment focused on student success."

This story was originally published by Darren Cunningham at Scripps News Detroit.

3rd man charged in connection to woman's death at Chiefs parade rally

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 18:57

View

Jackson County Prosecutors announced Thursday they've charged a third man in connection to the shooting death of Lisa Lopez-Galvan at the end of the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade and rally.

Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced Thursday that Terry J. Young, 20, has been charged with second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of armed criminal action.

Detectives say surveillance video shows Young appearing to fire several times. Police also used social media posts from Young's accounts that show Young wearing the same "distinctive backpack" seen in the surveillance video.

Cell phone data reviewed by detectives also show Young's phone in the area at the time of the shooting. As part of Thursday's announcement, Peters Baker says "all involved shooters" in the incident "are in custody of adult and juvenile authorities."

Dominic Miller and Lyndell Mays were previously charged with second-degree murder in connection to Lopez-Galvan's death, with investigators alleging a bullet fired by Miller caused her death.

Earlier this week, the Jackson County Family Court’s Juvenile Officer announced that a 16-year-old male is facing felony unlawful use of a weapon charges. A second 16-year-old juvenile remains in custody on gun possession and resisting arrest charges.

SEE MORE: Teenager accused of firing gun at Chiefs rally may be tried as adult

"Everyone we've identified who discharged a firearm in response to the verbal altercation detailed here has been taken into custody," Peters Baker said in a release, adding that "additional charges are still expected."

Police said if anyone has information, they can contact their local police department directly — and to remain anonymous, people can contact the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), or by submitting the tip online.

This story was originally published by Sam Hartle at Scripps News Kansas City

40 mice will be sent to space to help with macular degeneration study

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 18:41

View

A California ophthalmologist and retinal surgeon is working on a drug that could potentially prevent and even reverse damage from intermediate macular degeneration. For that moonshot, she’s looking to space.

A new crew aboard the International Space Station is currently waiting for 40 very special space mice. They will be part of a payload with several other experiments to be tested aboard the ISS. The launch is scheduled for 4:55 p.m. ET Thursday, and planned docking with the ISS would be Saturday.

Dr. Hema Ramkumar cares for patients at Providence St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, California. She has been researching macular degeneration for 17 years.

With the disease, deposits collect and cells in the center of the eye, called the macula, break down. The retina, which sends electrical signals to the brain about what is seen, doesn’t work right. Patients can have sudden blurry vision, trouble seeing clearly at night, and eventually become blind. Ramkumar is developing a gene therapy to teach certain eye cells to self-heal.

“There is a huge impact on quality of life. For patients suffering from macular degeneration in the intermediate stage and advanced stages, this takes away people’s ability to read their own medications, do their own finances and their independence,” she told Scripps News. “For the intermediate stage, which is what we’re targeting, the patients that have full independence and are looking at their future and don’t want it to get worse. That’s what our therapy is geared at.”

As part of her research and inspired by her aerospace engineer father, Ramkumar will work with scientists aboard the International Space Station who will care for the 40 mice.  

Another 40 stay on land as ground control for a month. Animals are used in research for understanding disease, and microgravity is key.

“You’ve seen their hair, [floating] in interviews. That is also happening to the fluids inside their bodies. This affects the eyes and the pressure within the eyes. And it can cause damage that mimics macular degeneration and other diseases on Earth, ” Kristin Kopperud, science program director, biological sciences at the International Space Station National Laboratory told Scripps News.

In space, spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome (SANS) can happen to astronauts after six months.

“Takes a lot longer to get to Mars. So someday we’ll be on a rocket for much longer,” said Kopperud.

Retinal scans of the mice will help inform clinical trials and one day help patients.

“I think we have a good chance. And if not, it was worth trying. And we’ll learn more, iterate. And patients need better options. That is my driving factor, ” said Ramkumar, who has founded a company, Oculogenex, for the work.

Other researchers are also working on gene therapies for advanced macular degeneration. This would be the first for patients less severe, if it works. After the mice, Ramkumar hopes for human trials sometime next year.

Poll: Caitlin Clark is biggest name in NCAA basketball, male or female

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 18:41

View

A new poll is declaring Iowa star Caitlin Clark the biggest name in college basketball — regardless of gender.

According to the 2024 Seton Hall Sports Poll, more than 4 in 10 (44%)  Americans said they've heard of Clark before. That number increased to 58% for people who described themselves as sports fans, and 68% among avid sports fans.

Additionally, when respondents were given the names of five male and five female NCAA basketball players, Clark ranked first in name recognition — more than two times greater than any other athlete on the list. Another woman, Louisiana State University's Angel Reese, came in second with 18% of Americans saying they recognize her name.

SEE MORE: Most US adults follow women's sports, study finds

From breaking the all-time college basketball scoring record, to drawing the largest women's basketball regular season television audience of the past 25 years, there's no denying Clark's indelible impact on college basketball. And with the NCAA men's and women's March Madness tournaments tipping off Thursday, Clark's name alone is expected to attract record viewership for this year's women's tournament.

According to the poll, nearly two-thirds of sports fans agreed that women's college basketball is now more popular than ever, with nearly half (48%) of the general population and 74% of avid sports fans saying they will tune in to this year's women's March Madness tournament. Those figures are up more than 8% and 7% respectively since last year. 

“Caitlin Clark is carrying the March Madness brand this year,” the poll's chief methodologist Daniel Ladik said in a blog post. “It’s likely that viewer numbers for the Women’s tournament will surpass all previous records and her presence alone is a logo shot for the NCAA.”

The Seton Hall Sports Poll surveyed more than 1,500 U.S. adults between March 15-18. It was conducted in partnership with Seton Hall University's Stillman School of Business and YouGov, a global public opinion and data company.

National Park Service sued for going cashless

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 18:23

View

Three plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the National Park Service, alleging they were denied access to the parks due to the parks' cashless entry policies. 

Plaintiffs Esther van der Werf, Toby Stover, and Elizabeth Dasburg filed the lawsuit in federal court earlier this month. They say that the National Park Service is violating federal law as cash "is legal tender for all public charges pursuant to 31 U.S. Code § 5103."

The law states, "United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues. Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts."

In recent years, numerous U.S. National Parks have shifted toward only allowing those with credit or debit cards to pay for entry fees. The National Park Service said there are multiple benefits to eliminating paper money. 

"Uniform cashless policies should decrease wait times and reduce errors around making change. It supports more of your fee dollars going toward programs and projects that support the visitor experience, rather than administrative expenses," the National Park Service said. 

SEE MORE: Cherry blossoms in DC hit peak bloom as dark cloud of removal looms

The plaintiffs argue that the cashless policy shuts 5.9 million Americans out of some National Parks, citing a 2021 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation that shows the unbanked population. 

All three plaintiffs shared in a court filing that they attempted to enter a National Park using cash but were denied entry. In the filing, Dasburg said she was directed to visit a nearby store to purchase a prepaid credit card in order to conduct the transaction. 

Manhunt for escaped inmate and accomplice after Idaho hospital ambush

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 18:14

View

Authorities are searching for a White supremacist Idaho prison inmate and an accomplice who fled after the accomplice shot and wounded corrections officers as they were transporting the inmate from a Boise hospital, according to police.

Police said Nicholas Umphenour is suspected of shooting two corrections officers during Wednesday's ambush in the ambulance bay at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. A warrant with a $2 million bond has been issued for his arrest on two charges of aggravated battery against law enforcement and one charge of aiding and abetting an escape, police said.

He and inmate Skylar Meade drove off early Wednesday after the shooting in a gray 2020 Honda Civic with Idaho plates. It's not known where they are or where they are headed, police said Wednesday evening.

Three corrections officers were shot and wounded during the attack — two allegedly by Umphenour and one by responding police.

Officials described Meade, 31, as a White supremacist gang member. Meade was sentenced to 20 years in 2017 for shooting at a sheriff's sergeant during a high-speed chase.

The attack occurred at 2:15 a.m. as Idaho Department of Correction officers prepared to bring Meade back to prison. Department Director Josh Tewalt said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon that Meade was taken to the hospital at 9:35 p.m. Tuesday after he engaged in "self-injurious behavior" and medical staff determined he needed emergency care.

One officer shot by the suspect was in critical but stable condition, police said, while the second wounded officer had serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The third injured corrections officer also sustained non-life-threatening injuries when a responding officer — incorrectly believing the shooter was still in the emergency room and seeing an armed person near the entrance — opened fire.

"This brazen, violent, and apparently coordinated attack on Idaho Department of Corrections personnel, to facilitate an escape of a dangerous inmate, was carried out right in front of the Emergency Department, where people come for medical help, often in the direst circumstances," Boise Police Chief Ron Winegar said in a written statement.

Umphenour, 5-foot-11 (180 centimeters) and 160 pounds (72.5 kilograms), has brown hair and hazel eyes, police said. Detectives have confirmed that he is an associate of Meade, police said. Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Umphenour through social media were unsuccessful.

Meade, 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds, has face tattoos with the numbers 1 and 11 — for A and K, the first and 11th letters of the alphabet, representing the Aryan Knights gang he affiliated with, Tewalt said. Photos released by police also showed an A and K tattooed on his abdomen.

The Aryan Knights formed in the mid-1990s in the Idaho prison system to organize criminal activity for a select group of White people in custody, according to the U.S. attorney's office in the district of Idaho.

Meade had been held in a type of solitary confinement called administrative segregation at Idaho Maximum Security Institution in Kuna, about 12 miles (19 kilometers) south of Boise, because officials deemed him a severe security risk, Tewalt said.

Tewalt said earlier in the day that Meade had been escorted in the ambulance and at the hospital by two uniformed, unarmed officers wearing ballistic vests, tailed by armed staff. Later in the day Correction Department spokesperson Sanda Kuzeta-Cerimagic said in an email that officials had confirmed that one officer had been in the ambulance with Meade and two officers were in an escort vehicle.

"To the best of our knowledge, Meade was in restraints while being escorted in and out of the hospital," Kuzeta-Cerimagic said. She didn't specify whether the restraints were handcuffs, shackles or another type of restraint but said transport procedures are dependent on the custody level of the person being transported.

Authorities also did not say if other security measures were in place when Meade was leaving the hospital.

The attack came amid a wave of gun violence at hospitals and medical centers, which have struggled to adapt to the threats.

A Saint Alphonsus spokesperson said the shooting happened in the ambulance bay by its emergency department.

"All patients and staff are safe, the medical center campus is safe and secure, and has resumed normal operations. The Emergency Department itself is currently under temporary lockdown while the Boise Police Department completes the investigation," Leticia Ramirez said Wednesday morning in a statement.

She said as an added precaution, "we have increased security on campus, all entrances to the hospital will be closed" and monitored by hospital security until further notice.

Ramirez declined to comment when asked about Meade, deferring to the police department.

Congress unveils $1.2 trillion plan to avert federal shutdown

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 17:56

View

Lawmakers introduced a $1.2 trillion spending package Thursday that sets the stage for avoiding a partial government shutdown for several key federal agencies this weekend and allows Congress, nearly six months into the budget year, to complete its work in funding the government through September.

Democrats were largely able to swat back scores of policy mandates and some of the steeper budget cuts that House Republicans were seeking to impose on nondefense programs, though House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., highlighted some policy wins, including a nearly 24% increase in detention beds for migrants awaiting their immigration proceedings or removal from the country.

This year's spending bills were divided into two packages. The first one cleared Congress two weeks ago, just hours before a shutdown deadline for the agencies funded through the bills.

Now Congress is focused on the second, larger package, which includes about $886 billion for the Defense Department, a more than 3% increase from last year's levels. The 1,012-page bill also funds the departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Labor, and others.

"Congress must now race to pass this package before government funding runs out this Friday," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Nondefense spending will be relatively flat compared with the prior year, though some, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, are taking a hit, and many agencies will not see their budgets keep up with inflation.

When combining the two packages, discretionary spending for the budget year will come to about $1.66 trillion. That does not include programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and financing the country's rising debt.

SEE MORE: Congressional Budget Office says US debt to be high over next 30 years

The House is expected to take the measure up first, on Friday. Then it would move to the Senate where senators would have to agree on taking it up expeditiously to avoid a partial shutdown. Usually, such agreements include votes on proposed amendments to the bill.

Johnson described the bill as a serious commitment to strengthening national defense by moving the Pentagon toward a focus on its core mission while expanding support for those serving in the military. The bill provides for a 5.2% pay increase for service members.

In promoting the bill, Republicans cited several ways it would help Israel. Most notably, they highlighted a prohibition on funding through March 2025 for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which is the main supplier of food, water and shelter to civilians in Gaza.

Republicans are insisting on cutting off funding to the agency after Israel alleged that a dozen employees of the agency were involved in the attack that Hamas conducted in Israel on Oct. 7.

But the prohibition does concern some lawmakers because many relief agencies say there is no way to replace its ability to deliver the humanitarian assistance that the United States and others are trying to send to Gaza, where one-quarter of the 2.3 million residents are starving.

Democrats emphasized that humanitarian assistance will increase overall, though.

Sen. Patty Murray, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also highlighted a $1 billion increase for Head Start programs and new child care centers for military families. Democrats also played up a $120 million increase in funding for cancer research and a $100 million increase for Alzheimer's research.

"We defeated outlandish cuts that would have been a gut punch for American families and our economy," said Murray, D-Wash.

She also said Democrats successfully fought off numerous policy measures, known as riders, that House Republicans were seeking to add.

"From Day 1 of this process, I said there would be no extreme, far-right riders to restrict women's reproductive freedoms — and there aren't, she said.

Among the few policy provisions that House Republicans did secure was a requirement that only allows for the American flag and "other official flags" to fly over U.S. diplomatic facilities. Under the Biden administration, U.S. embassies have been invited to fly the pride flag or light up with rainbow colors in support of the LGBTQ community.

SEE MORE: Lawmakers reach unofficial deal on government funding

There is also a provision that prevents the Consumer Product Safety Commission from banning gas stoves. But the White House has said President Joe Biden would not support a ban, and the commission, an independent agency, says no such ban was in the works.

The spending in the bill largely tracks with an agreement that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy worked out with the White House in May 2023, which restricted spending for two years and suspended the debt ceiling into January 2025 so the federal government could continue paying its bills.

Shalanda Young, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told lawmakers Thursday that last year's agreement, which became the Fiscal Responsibility Act, will save taxpayers about $1 trillion over the coming decade.

McCarthy, R-Calif., was ousted from the speaker's role a few months after securing the debt ceiling deal. Eight Republicans ended up joining with Democrats in removing McCarthy as speaker. And some of those unhappy with that deal also expressed misgivings about the latest package.

"I hope there will be some modest wins. Unfortunately, I don't expect that we will get much in the way of significant policy wins based on past history and based on our unwillingness to do use any kind of leverage to force policy wins, meaning a willingness to walk away and say no," said Rep. Bob Good, R-Va.

Work on the spending bills has been more bipartisan in the Senate. Murray issued a joint statement after the bill's release with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, praising the package of bills and urging colleagues to vote for it.

"There is zero need for a shutdown or chaos — and members of Congress should waste no time in passing these six bills, which will greatly benefit every state in America and reflect important priorities of many Senators," Murray and Collins said.

Johnson said that after the spending package passes, the House would next turn its attention to a bill that focuses on aiding Ukraine and Israel, though lawmakers are scheduled to be away from Washington for the next two weeks. The Senate has already approved a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, but Johnson has declined to bring that up for a vote.

First human Neuralink patient appears to show how brain implant works

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 17:42

View

Elon Musk's startup neurotechnology company Neuralink has shared new footage that purportedly shows the first patient with a brain-implanted device demonstrating how it works.

Neuralink posted a video on social media Wednesday introducing 29-year-old Noland Arbaugh as the "first telekinetic" human with the company's implanted brain–computer interface. Arbaugh explains that he is a quadriplegic who was paralyzed from the shoulders down in a "freak diving accident" about eight years ago, but is now able to control a computer cursor — and play digital chess — just by using his mind.

https://t.co/OMIeGGjYtG

— Neuralink (@neuralink) March 20, 2024

"I love playing chess and so this is one of the things that y'all [Neuralink] have enabled me to do, something I wasn't able to really do much the last few years, especially not like this," Arbaugh said. "I have used like a mouth stick and stuff, but now it's all being done with my brain. Y'all can see the cursor moving around the screen. That's all me."

A Neuralink engineer filming the video then asks Arbaugh if he can pause the music that is playing in the background, which he is also seemingly able to do without moving any of his limbs.

"It's all brain power," Arbaugh said.

In addition to playing chess, Arbaugh goes on to explain that he's also used Neuralink to play other video games for several hours on end — something he wasn't able to do before.

"It just wasn't really feasible [before] for me to play a full game or anything, and now I can just lie in bed and play to my heart's content," Arbaugh said. "Honestly, the biggest restriction at this point was like having to wait for the implant to charge once I used all of it. So, play for eight hours, have to get off and let it charge for a while and then hopefully be able to play some more."

SEE MORE: First human Neuralink patient can move a mouse cursor, Elon Musk says

Billionaire Musk, who founded Neuralink in 2016, shared the video of Arbaugh on his social media site X saying it demonstrated "telepathy." According to Neuralink's website, the company's mission statement is to "create a generalized brain interface to restore autonomy to those with unmet medical needs today and unlock human potential tomorrow."  

Neuralink was granted FDA approval for a human study on brain implants back in May 2023. This came as the company was reportedly under investigation for animal cruelty allegations during the preliminary testing phase of the technology.  

The nonprofit organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine issued a statement calling for an investigation into the biotech company in September 2023 after the death of a dozen monkeys on which the brain implant was being tested.

Scripps News reached out to Neuralink for more information about the implant and patient, but has not yet received a response. The company's claim that its brain-implanted device can provide telekinetic capabilities for humans has not been independently verified.

Chips Ahoy! is changing the recipe of its iconic cookie

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 17:22

View

The next time you try a Chips Ahoy! chocolate chip cookie, you may notice it tastes different than in years past. 

Foodmaker Mondelēz International announced this week that the updated recipe will mean a better cookie texture and "the right amount of chocolate chips."

The company said the texture will be changing because it's implementing a different mixing process. The new chocolate chips being used also apparently have a higher cacao content, as well as a higher-concentrate Madagascar vanilla extract. 

The company says the combination gives the cookie a "well-rounded chocolate flavor while reducing bitterness."

An official for Chips Ahoy! said developers spent more than 5,000 hours in the kitchen and tested more than 60 recipes before getting the desired result. 

"This was a daunting task, we heard time and again 'don't mess with the cookies we love,' but we knew we could bring Chips Ahoy! fans an even higher quality cookie," said Sabrina Sierant, senior director for Chips Ahoy! 

The cookie industry is about a $12 billion market in the U.S., according to a 2023 market research report from Technavio. The report predicts the industry will grow by nearly 5% by 2028.

So when can you get your hands on the new Chips Ahoy! cookies? Mondelēz International says they will be in select stores this month and rolled out nationally in April. 

SEE MORE: Subway switching from Coke to Pepsi in 2025

Pages