Five years ago, a Southern California mother decided that in order to save the life of her son with severe autism, she needed to turn to medical marijuana.
Joey Hester-Perez was diagnosed with autism at 16 months, and later with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. His symptoms became worse as he got older, and more and more medications were added to his regimen until he was taking 13 different drugs every day. When Joey was 9 years old, ABC 7 in Los Angeles says, doctors told his mother to plan his funeral.
"I couldn't bear that," Mieko Hester-Perez said. "I couldn't imagine my life without Joey." Instead, she decided to give medical marijuana a try. It took trying about 15 different strains before the right one was found, but as soon as Joey's Strain, as it's now called, was concocted, the change was immediate. Joey began to smile, laugh, and joke with his in-home nurse. He gained weight, calmed down, and was no longer on edge. Today, Joey eats one brownie every week that contains cannabis oil derived from Joey's Strain, and his mother is sharing the positive results with other families.
"We need to open the door to more research so we can do this the right way," she told ABC 7. The few studies on autism and medical marijuana in the U.S. are focusing on cannabinoids, the active molecules found in marijuana, but it's very difficult to get started; according to doctors, they must "navigate a maze of bureaucratic red tape and receive permission from multiple federal agencies."
Mieko hopes that the rules are loosened, so more strides can be made and other children like Joey can have improved lives. "He may never walk, he may never form a sentence, he may never throw a ball," she said. "But he will smile, and that's all I've ever wanted." --Catherine Garcia
The president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing 15,000 Border Patrol agents, said that the deployment of National Guard troops ordered by President Trump has had "no benefit" and is a "colossal waste of resources."
The union endorsed Trump when he was running for president, and union president Brandon Judd told the Los Angeles Times that his members "generally support the administration, but we're not going to be cheerleading when things are not going well." In April, Trump directed that National Guard troops be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border to assist agents, but "they're not allowed to be in the public eye," Judd said. "They're not allowed to be in our lookout and observation posts, even in Texas."
There are about 1,600 National Guard troops at the border, and they have been operating surveillance cameras and offering air support; Border Patrol Acting Chief Carla Provost said officials decided that was a better use of their time. In some cases, Border Patrol agents have to leave their posts to assist National Guard troops who aren't familiar with the area, the Times reports, and it has become a burden on the agents. The deployment is expected to cost $220 million to $252 million through end of the year, a Defense Department spokesman said. Catherine Garcia
President Trump decided to pull out of his June 12 summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un while talking with advisers Thursday morning from 7-9 a.m., then dictated his Dear Kim letter — to hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton, according to Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) — and released it to the public at 9:43 a.m. without warning allies, members of Congress, or North Korea, all of whom seemed blindsided and upset by the sudden cancelation. Trump and his advisers had only started discussing canceling the meeting less than 12 hours earlier, NBC News reports.
What made up his mind? "The president, fearing that the North Koreans might beat him to the punch, wanted to be the one to cancel first," NBC News says, citing "multiple officials." At 10 p.m. Wednesday, Bolton told Trump about North Korea's public pushback against "political dummy" Vice President Mike Pence and threat to cancel, The Washington Post reports. "Bolton advised that the threatening language was a very bad sign, and the president told advisers he was concerned Kim was maneuvering to back out of the summit and make Americans look like desperate suitors, according to a person familiar with the conversations. So Trump called it off first."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. who met with Kim twice in Pyongyang and was working to set up the meeting, publicly blamed North Korea, telling the Senate Thursday that his negotiators "received no response to our inquiries from them. ... We got a lot of dial tones." Privately, Pompeo "blamed Bolton for torpedoing the progress that had already been made," NBC News reports, citing several administration officials. "One person familiar with the summit preparations said it was Bolton who drove the decision to cancel and that he had convinced Trump to make the move." Bolton's threat of "the Libya model," and Pence's parroting that line on Monday, angered the North Koreans. Peter Weber
Abortion was already illegal in the heavily Catholic nation before the constitutional ban was adopted 35 years ago, and in 2013, it was partially repealed, only for instances when the life of the mother is in danger. Deputy Prime Minister Simon Covenay said that more than 3,000 women leave Ireland for Britain every year for abortions, while countless others order pills online.
Polls suggest that there is enough support to repeal the ban, and many Irish expats have returned home because they can't vote by mail or in embassies, and they want to have their voices heard. If the amendment is repealed, the government will then introduce a bill on abortion that would be debated in parliament. Catherine Garcia
David MacNeil, a Chicago-area businessman who has donated more than $1 million to President Trump, told Politico Republican candidates can expect nothing from him until they take action on an immigration bill.
MacNeil owns the WeatherTech automotive company, and employs more than 1,100 people. MacNeil told Politico that if Congress doesn't come up with a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) deal, one of his employees could be deported. "I'm saying this as a political donor who's donated seven figures in the last couple of years: I will not donate any more money to anyone who doesn't support DACA, period," he said. "I'm putting my money where my mouth is."
The "critically important" employee was brought to the United States as a toddler, and "it would be a disaster if I were not able to legally employ her," MacNeil told Politico. "They should not be playing political football, political blackmail with people's lives." Catherine Garcia
If you've ever said something rude, crude, or lewd in front of your Amazon Echo, you'd better hope it wasn't listening.
A woman in Portland named Danielle, who did not want her last name used, told KIRO that an Amazon Echo device inside her home recorded private conversations she had with her husband, and then sent them to one of his phone contacts — an employee in Seattle. Danielle said they only found out when the employee called and said: "Unplug your Alexa devices right now. You're being hacked."
Alexa is the digital assistant built into the Echo, and the family had devices in every room. Danielle said they knew the employee wasn't joking when he told them all about a conversation they just had about hardwood floors. "We said, 'Oh gosh, you really did hear us,'" Danielle said. She called Amazon, and an Alexa engineer said he was able to pinpoint when the conversations were recorded, but didn't say why it happened or if anyone else had the same issue. "I felt invaded," Danielle said. "A total privacy invasion."
An Amazon spokesperson told The Verge that the Echo heard what sounded like "Alexa," and "the subsequent conversation was heard as a 'send message' request. At which point, Alexa said out loud, "To whom?' At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, '[contact name], right?' Alexa then interpreted background conversation as 'right.'" Amazon, the spokesperson added, is now "evaluating options." If you have an Echo, you might want to evaluate the option of throwing it in the garbage. Catherine Garcia
In response to President Trump canceling the historic summit scheduled for next month between the U.S. and North Korea, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan declared his country is ready to meet with the U.S. "at any time."
In a statement published by North Korean state media on Friday morning, Kim said Trump's decision to pull out of the meeting wasn't "the world's desire," and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "had focused every effort" on the summit. He also said the U.S. and North Korea must meet in order to take care of the "grave hostilities" between the countries. Catherine Garcia
The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1, and scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shared their forecast Thursday, saying they expect to see a near-normal season.
The season ends Nov. 30 and hits its peak mid-August through mid-October. The scientists predict a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher, and of those, five to nine could turn into hurricanes, including one to four major ones, ABC News reports. To become a hurricane, winds must reach 74 mph or more.
The average hurricane season has 12 named storms, with six becoming hurricanes. Last year, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria slammed parts of the Caribbean and the U.S., and Puerto Rico is still trying to recover, with some residents living without power or water, and others waiting for their homes and roads to be rebuilt. Catherine Garcia