FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
May 2, 2014

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

1:19 p.m. ET

On Monday, the American Medical Association slammed the Senate's health-care bill in a scathing letter to Senate leadership. The largest physicians group in the nation declared that it could not support the Better Care Reconciliation Act introduced last week because it "violates" the medical standard of "first, do no harm" on "many levels."

Based on the "combination of smaller subsidies resulting from lower benchmarks and the increased likelihood of waivers of important protections such as required benefits, actuarial value standards, and out of pocket spending limits," the AMA predicted that "low and middle income patients" will face "higher costs and greater difficulty in affording care." In particular, the AMA cited concerns about the plan's proposed changes to Medicaid via a formula it declared was "arbitrary and unsustainable" and "extremely difficult and costly to fix."

"We sincerely hope that the Senate will take this opportunity to change the course of the current debate and work to fix problems with the current system," the AMA wrote. "We believe that Congress should be working to increase the number of Americans with access to quality, affordable health insurance instead of pursuing policies that have the opposite effect."

Read the AMA's full letter to Senate leaders below. Becca Stanek

1:00 p.m. ET
DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images

A million suns isn't cool. You know what's cool? A billion suns. Physicists from the University of Nebraska's aptly-named Extreme Light Laboratory have just made the brightest light ever produced on Earth, and it is one billion times brighter than the surface of the sun, Phys.org reports.

The super bright laser beam is helping researchers understand how light and matter interact. When light from a regular bulb or the sun strikes a surface, it "scatters," which is what allows us to see. In everyday circumstances, an electron scatters just a couple photons of light at a time, but with the University of Nebraska's laser, almost 1,000 photons scatter at once.

"It's as if things appear differently as you turn up the brightness of the light, which is not something you normally would experience," said the University of Nebraska's Donald Umstadter. "[An object] normally becomes brighter, but otherwise, it looks just like it did with a lower light level. But here, the light is changing [the object's] appearance. The light's coming off at different angles, with different colors, depending on how bright it is."

In one example, the scientists were able to create a high-resolution X-ray of a USB drive, photographing interior details that aren't able to be seen with regular X-rays. Understanding the phenomenon could help scientists find more sophisticated ways to "hunt for tumors or micofractures that elude conventional X-rays, map the molecular landscapes of nanoscopic materials now finding their way into semiconductor technology, or detect increasingly sophisticated threats at security checkpoints," Phys.org writes. "Atomic and molecular physicists could also employ the X-ray as a form of ultrafast camera to capture snapshots of electron motion or chemical reactions."

Read more about the Extreme Light Laboratory and its findings at Phys.org. Jeva Lange

12:45 p.m. ET
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

In a statement Monday, President Trump declared the Supreme Court's decision regarding his travel ban a "clear victory for our national security." The Supreme Court on Monday announced that it would review Trump's executive order temporarily banning travel from six majority-Muslim nations in October; in the meantime, it will allow the government to partly implement its ban, though only against people without a "bona fide" connection to the U.S.

Trump claimed in his statement that the court's decision allows his ban to become "largely effective." "Today's ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our nation's homeland," Trump said in the statement, noting he only wants people "who can love the United States and all of its citizens, and who will be hardworking and productive."

BuzzFeed News legal editor Chris Geidner reported that it "remains to be seen how big a change this is, given many have connections" to the U.S.

Twice in the statement, Trump lauded the fact that the Supreme Court unanimously agreed to review his ban and to partially reinstate it. However, the decision was actually made per curiam, meaning it was issued in the name of the court rather than by a unanimous consensus from the justices. Becca Stanek

10:54 a.m. ET

President Trump's super PAC, America First Policies, is singling out a Republican lawmaker for opposing Senate Republicans' plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. In a Monday morning tweet, the nonprofit, which was started by Trump advisers to back Trump's policies, urged people to pressure Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) to reverse his opposition to the Senate health-care bill. Heller on Friday became the fifth Republican senator to come out against the health-care proposal, declaring "there isn't anything in this bill that would lower premiums."

America First Policies declared Heller should be held "accountable [for] turning on voters" by opposing the proposed ObamaCare replacement plan. Both Heller and one of his staffers were called out by name in the tweet:

This tweet isn't the first time America First Policies has called Heller out by name either: On Friday, the super PAC questioned in a tweet why Heller would "lie to voters" about repealing and replacing ObamaCare. The group claimed Heller is "now with" House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Becca Stanek

10:52 a.m. ET

The Supreme Court handed down the final opinions of its nine-month term Monday, with a 5-4 decision on the death penalty case Davila v. Davis, a 5-4 decision on the securities case California Public Employees' Retirement System v. ANZ Securities, Inc., and a 7-2 decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer.

Likely the biggest news out of the court Monday is the announcement that the justices agreed to review President Trump's travel ban in October, which bars immigration from six majority-Muslim nations. In the meantime, the justices lifted the injunction against the ban, meaning it can be enforced except against individuals who have a "bona fide relationship" to the U.S., including a relative in America. The ruling "represents a setback for immigration rights and civil liberties groups that had bottled up two executive orders through legal action, exacerbating the president's battles with federal courts that began during the election campaign," USA Today writes.

"This means that the government can enforce the travel ban with regard to people who don't have a relationship to the United States, but not with regard to the named challengers or people like them — for example, who have relatives who want to come," added SCOTUSblog's Amy Howe.

The court will additionally review Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, testing if a bakery had a constitutional right to break a state anti-discrimination law when it refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. Jeva Lange

10:42 a.m. ET
Jacqueline Nell/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images

Disney World's Hall of Presidents is a sit-down ride for all ages featuring animatronic representations of every American president. It is ideally a celebration of American history and realistically a place for tired, sunburnt parents to just sit in the air conditioning for a few blessed moments.

It is also currently closed, as the park shutters the attraction for renovations — namely, installing a new figure — after every presidential inauguration. The unusual length of 2017's closure since President Trump took office led to reports that Disney was unsure of how to craft a family-friendly Robo-Trump. Would he talk? What would he say? So many of his quotes are less than magical.

On Sunday, however, Disney confirmed to a local Florida news outlet that the Hall of Presidents will reopen in "late 2017" and Robo-Trump will indeed have a speaking role. "The same thing that we've done with other presidents, is the same plan we have for President Trump," said Disney's Jacquee Wahler, vice president of communications. The park hopes to have the Hall of Presidents back in action by the anniversary of Trump's election. Bonnie Kristian

10:25 a.m. ET

Is President Trump trying to run the White House like a city hall? That's the proposal of Politico's Jack Shafer, who argues much of Trump's behavior that strikes us as strange in a president would make sense in a mayor:

Our classic big-city mayors all cut a similar figure. Even after winning office, they kept campaigning, stumping for their causes without apology. They blustered in the name of the neighborhoods, the parishes, and the synagogues. They feuded with their enemies. Loudly. They "fixed" things, looked for deal-making partners and struck alliances. They maintained peace between labor and capital, and they kept civil order. They played the booster. The classic mayors knew how to shame companies from moving their headquarters out of town, how to crowd their way to the center of any photo opportunity, how to junket, and how to get results. Most of all, classic mayors were virtuosos in the art of blowing their own horns. [Politico]

Trump seems most in his element, Shafer notes, when he engages in the sort of "civic theater that mayors specialize in" — the photo-ops and dramatic, well-publicized slayings of what are really rather tiny dragons. The "America's mayor" theory also explains Trump's predilection toward rule by personal influence and edict: City councils can be manhandled in a way Congress, the judiciary, and federal bureaucracy cannot. Read Shafer's full analysis here. Bonnie Kristian

See More Speed Reads