legal issues
August 4, 2014

A Thai woman raising one of the babies she gave birth to as a surrogate may soon receive help from the Australian government.

Pattaramon Chanbua, 21, was left with Gammy after his biological parents went back to Australia with only his healthy twin sister. Gammy, now seven months old, has Down syndrome and a congenital heart condition. Pattaramon said she's not mad at Gammy's mother and father and is "always willing to forgive them," but does "want to see that they love the baby girl as much as my family loves Gammy. I want her to be well taken care of."

As The Associated Press reports, in Australia, it is illegal to pay a surrogate mother; it can be done for free, but the surrogate then has the right to keep the child and not give it to the biological parents. In some states, including Western Australia where Gammy's biological parents live, it is legal to pay a surrogate living abroad. On Monday, Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told Sydney Radio 2GB the law is "very, very murky," and the government is "taking a close look at what can be done here, but I wouldn't want to raise any false hopes or expectations. We are dealing with something that has happened in another country's jurisdiction."

He added that Pattaramon is "an absolute hero" and "a saint."

Pattaramon said a surrogacy agency in Bangkok promised her 300,000 bhat, or $9,300, but never paid following the twins' birth in December. She also said the agency knew about Gammy's health issues when she was four to five months into the pregnancy, but doctors waited until she was seven months along to tell her and then suggested she abort him. "I asked them, 'Are you still humans?'" she told The Associated Press. "I really wanted to know."

There is some immediate assistance on the way for Pattaramon; an Australian charity called Hands Across the Water has raised $200,000 for Gammy since July 22. Catherine Garcia

8:58 p.m. ET
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 Tuesday, the day Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy resigned 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," and 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
8:27 p.m. ET
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 paninis 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

7:33 p.m. ET

Something sinister is happening in the Sea of Japan.

Since October, a dozen wooden boats have been discovered in the sea or on the coast filled with 22 decaying bodies, police and the Japanese coast guard said. One boat contained six skulls, and another had two headless "partially skeletonized" bodies. So far, the clues point to the boats being from North Korea – the coast guard says the hull of one boat with 10 bodies on it had "Korean People's Army," the name of the military, written in Korean, and Japan's NHK reports a tattered piece of cloth found on one boat looks like it could be from a North Korean national flag.

The coast guard is likely correct, maritime expert Yoshihiko Yamada told NHK. The boats have a "striking resemblance" to vessels used by North Korean defectors, and because the boats are "old and heavy," they didn't have enough engine power to "turn the ships against the currents." If the people on the boats were attempting to defect from North Korea, they could have taken the Sea of Japan route because, although more dangerous, it's not policed like the border with China. Catherine Garcia

fight against ISIS
6:35 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced a specialized expeditionary targeting force will be deployed to Iraq to fight the Islamic State.

Carter told the House Armed Services Committee the U.S. will launch raids "at the invitation of the Iraqi government" and "conduct unilateral operations in Syria" against ISIS targets, with the goal of defeating ISIS "at its core." He did not say when the troops will arrive.

Department of Defense officials told NBC News about 100 to 150 special operations forces will be permanently based in Iraq, and will gather intelligence, free hostages or prisoners, and kill or capture ISIS leaders. They will also accompany and assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces in operations against ISIS. A senior defense official told NBC News the missions will be similar to the raid that was conducted in northern Iraq in October, where commandos helped Kurdish fighters free 70 ISIS prisoners. Catherine Garcia

they believe the children are our future
4:43 p.m. ET
David Ramos/Getty Images

Most parents dream of a better world for their children. Unfortunately, most parents are not Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, who just announced the birth of their first child — a baby girl named Max.

Fortunately, Zuckerburg and Chan do have the resources to do their part to ensure that Max will grow up in a better world — and the rest of us will also get to reap the benefits! In an extended letter addressed to Max (and posted on Facebook), Zuckerberg and Chan have announced that over the course of their lifetimes, they will give away 99 percent of their Facebook shares — currently valued at $45 billion — in an effort to "advance human potential and promote equality."

"Max, we love you and feel a great responsibility to leave the world a better place for you and all children," the letter concludes. "We wish you a life filled with the same love, hope, and joy you give us. We can't wait to see what you bring to this world."

You can read the full letter here. Scott Meslow

Best of
4:00 p.m. ET
Mad Max/Facebook

The National Board of Review (NBR) named Mad Max: Fury Road the best film of 2015 Tuesday, surprising many who thought the group of 120 New York film fans from would pick a "less action-oriented film," The Wrap reports. The film, directed and produced by George Miller, stars Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy in the Mad Max series' fourth installment depicting a rebellion against a tyrannical ruler in post-apocalyptic Australia.

While the win is certainly a victory for Mad Max, "don't take this as a sign that Mad Max is all of a sudden guaranteed to be a gate-crasher at the Oscars," writes Kevin Lincoln at Vulture:

Last year the NBR made the genuinely idiosyncratic decision to recognize A Most Violent Year as the best film of 2014, a decision that didn't quite set the dominos falling for J.C. Chandor's mostly under-the-radar '80s crime epic. The year prior they went with Her, which at least snagged an Academy nomination. [Vulture]

This year, NBR selected Ridley Scott as Best Director and Matt Damon as Best Actor for The Martian. Best Actress went to Brie Larson for Room. See the full list of winners at Variety. Becca Stanek

2:59 p.m. ET

Has Jeb Bush already got a certain someone in mind for a running mate? Answering an audience question about vice presidents at a town hall meeting in Waterloo, Iowa, Bush let it slip that, "Should I be elected president, I would have my vice president — I think she will be a great partner."

It appeared to be almost an intentional "mistake" as he immediately joked, "I mean, did I say that out loud?" The audience laughed, and Bush went on: "We always talk about this with one gender in mind. I think we've reached the point I think in our country where maybe we should be a little less gender specific about this."

But as to who exactly he might be considering, Bush remained tight-lipped. Watch below. Jeva Lange

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