Get your dang shots
August 5, 2014

Vaccines are a fundamental building block of modern public health, and everyone who can should get them. But some people can't be vaccinated — very young babies, the elderly, or people who have allergies, depending on the particular vaccine. However, a rigorous vaccination program can still protect those people.

How? As Aaron Carroll explains below, it's all about the statistics of disease. In order for an outbreak to spread, there must be a transmission mechanism — typically, another person who catches the disease and then gives it to someone else. But if there are enough people who are immune to the disease surrounding the sick person, then the outbreak can't get going.

For example, chicken pox used to kill a few children each year. But after the chicken pox vaccine became ubiquitous, the death rate for babies under one year of age plummeted, all the way to zero between 2004-2007 — and kids that young aren't even old enough to receive the vaccine! Ubiquitous vaccination made it so those babies weren't exposed to the disease, and thus saved many lives. Check out the full explanation in the video below. --Ryan Cooper

just don't name your kid X-Pro II
1:18 a.m. ET

When it comes to baby names, new parents are turning to a Fox drama about a hip hop mogul and his family, an app popular with narcissists, and outer space for inspiration.

BabyCenter, a website offering pregnancy and parenting advice, looked at the names of 340,000 babies born in 2015 to registered users. For the sixth year in a row, Sophia is the number one name for girls (with Emma, Olivia, Ava, and Mia close behind), and for the third time in a row, Jackson is in the top spot for boys (followed by Aiden, Liam, Lucas, and Noah). While the most popular names aren't a surprise, some of the more creative names certainly are — including Royalty (up 90 percent from last year for both boys and girls) and Sultan (up 25 percent).

Naming babies after regal words was prevalent, with Duchess up 75 percent and Reign up 54 percent. Other trends included monikers based on the solar system — Venus saw an increase of 68 percent, Jupiter 50 percent, and Sunny 43 percent for boys and 18 percent for girls — and the hit show Empire, with Dre up 77 percent, Lyon up 6 percent, Hakeem up 55 percent, and Lucious back on the list for the first time in three years.

Instagram filters were also behind some of the trending names, with Lux up 75 percent from 2014, Ludwig up 42 percent, and Amaro up 26 percent for boys, and Juno up 30 percent and Valencia up 26 percent for girls. If people are going to start naming their children after apps or their tools, Hefe and Lo-fi are still better than Baby Tinder or Waze. Catherine Garcia

planned parenthood
12:58 a.m. ET
Colorado Springs Police via Getty Images

Barbara Mescher Michaux has been divorced from Robert Lewis Dear since 1993, but as soon as he was identified as the man who allegedly killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs last week, she told NBC News on Tuesday, she knew he wasn't at the clinic on accident. "For him to plan this and go there, he meant to go there," she said. "There is no doubt in my mind."

Mescher Michaux, who lives in South Carolina with her current husband, described Dear, 57, as volatile and violent and said that while they were married he once put glue in the locks of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Charleston, South Carlolina. "He was very proud of himself that he'd gone over and jammed up their locks with glue so that they couldn't get in," she told The New York Times. After police arrested Dear, he said "no more baby parts," officials told several news organizations, but his statement was "so rambling that it has been challenging to pinpoint what motivated the attacks," The Associated Press reports.

Mescher Michaux had also characterized Dear as physically and emotionally violent in a 1993 affidavit she filed during their divorce, AP notes, saying he would listen to music on headphones for hours and disappear on gambling trips to Las Vegas or Atlantic City. "He claims to be a Christian and is extremely evangelistic, but he does not follow the Bible in his actions," she added. "He says as long as he believes he will be saved, he can do whatever he pleases. He is obsessed with the world coming to an end."

Dear's third wife, Pamela Ross, also reported domestic abuse to police in 1997, and he has been accused of rape and stalking by women he was not married to. Neighbors of Dear in North Carolina and South Carolina describe him as "silent and sullen, a recluse notable for odd behavior: cruelty to his own dogs, bizarre mutterings about government conspiracies, skinny-dipping, and angry rebuffs when they tried to say hello," The Washington Post reports. "One person who had discussed politics with Dear said he had often praised those who attacked abortion clinics as 'heroes.'" Peter Weber

a piece of history
12:10 a.m. ET

On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a white man. Although the story is now ingrained in American history, at the time, it barely received a mention in a local newspaper.

It wasn't until a few days later, on Dec. 5, that the nation first heard the name "Rosa Parks." It was then that The Associated Press wrote about the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the $14 fine that Parks received for "having disregarded... a driver's order to move to the rear of the bus." To mark the 60th anniversary of this civil rights milestone, AP made its initial story on the boycott available once again.

As the article explains, in 1955 Montgomery, "Negro passengers ride in the rear of buses here, white passengers in front under a municipal segregation ordinance." AP quoted a boycott spokesman as saying it would last until bus riders were no longer "intimidated, embarrassed, and coerced." Parks, described as a "42-year-old department store seamstress," was first charged with "violating a city ordinance that gives bus drivers police powers to enforce racial segregation," and after appealing her fine was released under a $100 bond; her lawyers would not tell AP if they "planned to attack the constitutionality of segregation laws affecting public transportation." The manager of City Lines Buses, which operated the buses in Montgomery, told AP he estimated "80 or maybe 90 percent" out of the "several thousands Negroes" who usually rode the bus joined the boycott. Read the article in its entirety here. Catherine Garcia

two thumbs up for condoms
December 1, 2015
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

When asked by an audience member to clarify his stance on making contraception available for women, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) launched into a four-minute speech on Monday that extolled the ubiquitousness of condoms.

"Anyone who wants contraceptives can access them," he said during the campaign stop in Bettendorf, Iowa. As a lifelong conservative, Cruz said, he "never met anybody, any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives. Last I checked, we don't have a rubber shortage in America. Like look, when I was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom. You put 50 cents in — and voila!"

Cruz also revealed that because of contraceptives, there aren't more small Cruzes running around. "[My wife] Heidi and I, we have two little girls," he said. "I'm very glad we don't have 17." He went on to say that during previous election cycles, "Republicans would curl up in a ball" when it came time to talk about women's reproductive health matters. "They'd say, 'Don't hurt me,'" Cruz said. "Jiminy Cricket! This is a made-up, nonsense example."

While Cruz showed that he knows what condoms are used for and their price in the early 1990s, he didn't discuss other forms of contraception, like birth control pills, which not only prevent pregnancies but are also used to treat a variety of health issues, from acne to polycystic ovarian syndrome. Catherine Garcia

right name wrong guy
December 1, 2015
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Since 2002, Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri has been held at Guantanamo Bay as an enemy combatant, and on Tuesday, U.S. officials admitted that al-Shamiri was not the person they originally thought.

Al-Shamiri was believed to have been a courier and trainer for al Qaeda, but was actually a low-level Islamist foot soldier, The Guardian reports. During a hearing to discuss his possible release, the Department of Defense said that al-Shamiri did fight in Afghanistan for the Taliban from 2000 to 2001 and associated with al Qaeda members, but conceded he was not a significant catch, and they confused him with other men with similar names.

The 37-year-old Yemeni was previously considered too dangerous to be released, but there was not enough evidence to try him, The Guardian says. A representative for al-Shamiri said he is "not a continuing significant threat to the United States of America," and is "earnestly preparing" for life on the outside. Over the past 13 years, he has taken English and art classes, and learned carpentry and cooking skills. "Mustafa does have remorse for choosing the wrong path early in life," the representative said. "He has vocalized to us that while he cannot change the past, he would definitely have chosen a different path." Catherine Garcia

December 1, 2015
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Illinois attorney general is calling for an independent investigation of the Chicago Police Department by the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.

Lisa Madigan sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Tuesday, the same day Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy resigned under pressure in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting. "The shocking death of Laquan McDonald is the latest tragedy in our city that highlights serious questions about the use of unlawful and excessive force by Chicago police officers and the lack of accountability for such abuse," Madigan said in a statement. "Trust in the Chicago Police Department is broken." Madigan said she knows the "vast majority" of officers serve "with bravery, honor, and integrity," but added that the "children in all of Chicago's communities deserve to grow up in a city in which they are protected and served by the police."

Madigan requested that investigators look into the department's use of force; training and supervision of officers; the adequacy of reviews and investigations into officer misconduct; and if there is a pattern of discriminatory policing, ABC Chicago reports. Catherine Garcia

food safety
December 1, 2015
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that tainted celery was likely behind an E. coli outbreak that has made at least 19 people in seven states sick, Starbucks recalled its turkey and stuffing panini from 1,347 West Coast locations last week.

A seasonal offering, the sandwiches were pulled from stores in California, Oregon, and Nevada, Starbucks spokeswoman Erin Jane Schaeffer said; no other markets were affected, and so far, there are no reports of the sandwiches making anyone ill. After the E. coli outbreak was traced to chicken salad sold at Costco, the CDC tested the celery and onion used in the salad, and found the bacteria, Bloomberg reports. Taylor Farms Pacific Inc. then announced it was recalling multiple celery products, including the sandwiches sold at Starbucks.

Costco and Starbucks aren't the only companies dealing with E. coli — an outbreak linked to Chipotle has made at least 45 people sick, and health officials are still trying to determine the contaminated ingredient. Catherine Garcia

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