This is a comeback that no one was hoping for: Measles, which in 2000 was declared eradicated in the United States, has infected dozens in California, Texas, and New York this year alone as more parents are opting out of vaccinating their children. The highly contagious disease kills about one in every 1,000 patients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. had 189 reported cases of measles in 2013; that's a small number compared to what was seen prior to the vaccine's introduction in 1967, but enough to make people worried. "We really don't want a child to die from measles, but it's almost inevitable," Anne Schuchat, director of immunizations and respiratory diseases at the CDC, tells USA Today. "Major resurgences of diseases can sneak up on us."
It's not just measles, either; cases of meningitis and pertussis (whooping cough) are persisting as well. The most vulnerable to these diseases are infants, children with compromised immune systems, and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. As more children enter the school system without being vaccinated — in Idaho, Oregon, Illinois, Michigan, and Vermont, for example, 4.5 percent of kindergartners were not vaccinated for non-medical reasons — experts say the number of cases will continue to rise.
For the children who are hit by measles, pertussis, or meningitis, it's not like trying to shake off a cold. Meningitis can cause limbs to blacken and wither, leading to amputation and death. Brady Alcaide's infant body couldn't fight off whooping cough, and he died at 9 weeks, so swollen his mother decided to have a closed casket so as to not upset the family. Doctors have no idea where Brady contracted whooping cough. His mother, Kathryn Riffenburg, shared the details of her son's short life with USA Today, for this reason: "I hope Brady has saved babies and protected them because we have spread his story."
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D), a chill dude, formally introduced his bill to legalize marijuana Friday.
Schumer outlined his support for decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level in a Medium post, being careful to stipulate that he still believes individual states should be able to regulate the drug's consumption and sale as they wish. His proposal "will allow each state to ultimately decide how they will treat marijuana," Schumer wrote.
The senator acknowledged that his proposal reflected a change in his thinking. He attributed his attitudinal shift to, in large part, the evolving perceptions of the public: "When I first came to Congress in 1981, only 1 in 4 Americans believed marijuana should be made legal," he wrote. He also spelled out the skewed legal ramifications of criminalized marijuana:
When looking at the support for legalization that clearly exists across wide swaths of the American population, it is difficult to make sense of our existing laws. Under current federal law, marijuana is treated as though it's as dangerous as heroin and more dangerous than cocaine.
A staggering number of American citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are African-American and Latino, continue to be arrested every day for something that most Americans agree should not be a crime. Meanwhile, those who are entering into the marijuana market in states that have legalized are set to make a fortune. [Chuck Schumer, via Medium]
Schumer's bill will also "inject real dollars into minority and women-owned businesses" to try to offset the racialized nature of marijuana arrests, he said.
The senator spoke to Vice News about his proposal, in an interview that aired late Thursday, where he also signed a bong. Read more about Schumer's proposal — a proposal he released on April 20 — at Medium. Kimberly Alters
Students are back in the streets protesting gun violence for the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting
Thousands of students are expected to walk out of their classrooms in protest of gun violence Friday, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre that left 13 people dead in 1999. It is the second major national school walkout in response to gun violence since a shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school earlier this year.
Walkouts are planned at 2,000 schools around the nation, with at least one in every U.S. state, The New York Times reports. The demonstrations also include 13 seconds of silence, for each of the Columbine victims, or 19 minutes, for the years passed since the shooting:
Students in Tampa, Florida walk out of class as part of more than 2,000 events nationwide aiming to pressure lawmakers over gun reform. https://t.co/3aibt03fs5 #NationalSchoolWalkout pic.twitter.com/6UytoVWwR0
— ABC News (@ABC) April 20, 2018
— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) April 20, 2018
— ABC News (@ABC) April 20, 2018
#NOW: Students from Niskayuna High School walked out and made their way to the town hall next door for a rally. A bus of Schenctady students will join them. #NationalSchoolWalkout pic.twitter.com/xXmZoQaodg
— Leanne DeRosa (@CBS6Leanne) April 20, 2018
Walkouts will continue across the country Friday beginning at 10 a.m. local time. Jeva Lange
Have trumpets gone the way of typewriters, rotary phones, and brick-and-mortar movie rental stores? That was the opening question of the 8 a.m. hour Friday on Fox & Friends as Brian Kilmeade asked his co-hosts over the sounds of Jason Derulo's "Trumpets" whether "you can play the trumpet these days through the organ."
"You mean like push the button and you can hear the … ? I'm sure they have that on fancy keyboards," Ainsley Earhardt replied. An offended Steve Doocy jumped in to ask "why would you want to?" He suggested that if you want to hear trumpet noises, you should "just have somebody play the trumpet, hello!"
"It's hard to find a trumpet player," Kilmeade protested.
As ThinkProgress' Aaron Rupar points out on Twitter, the hosts don't appear aware that the "electronic keyboard was invented decades ago." Watch the amusing debate below. Jeva Lange
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 20, 2018
White House lawyer Ty Cobb confirmed to The Daily Beast on Friday that despite reports to the contrary, President Trump's legal team is still looking into the possibility of an interview between the president and the special counsel. The two parties were believed to be close to reaching an agreement over Trump speaking to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team when the FBI raided the home, hotel, and office of Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
"The Cohen searches, while they have taken time away from discussions with regard to an interview, certainly have not brought those discussions to a halt," said Cobb. "They continue." Another of the president's lawyers, Jay Sekulow, also confirmed: "We continue our ongoing cooperation with the Office of the Special Counsel."
Trump has reportedly been raring to sit down with the special counsel's team, although his allies fear he could say something that would potentially get him into legal trouble. Read why Bonnie Kristian says only a fool would voluntarily talk to Mueller here at The Week. Jeva Lange
The Kushner Cos. confirmed Thursday it received a federal grand jury subpoena for information related to its paperwork on rent-regulated tenants in its buildings in New York City, The Wall Street Journal reports. The subpoena came shortly after The Associated Press reported that the company, which is run by the family of President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, routinely filed false papers with the city claiming there were no rent-regulated tenants in the buildings, even though there were hundreds.
The Kushner Cos. issued a statement saying it has "nothing to hide and is cooperating fully with all legitimate requests for information, including this subpoena." Harold Maass
Trump was reportedly furious with Michael Flynn for making Vladimir Putin wait 6 days for a return call
Former FBI Director James Comey's contemporaneous memos of his conversations with President Trump, leaked by Congress on Thursday, less than an hour after the Justice Department handed them over to lawmakers, contain a lot of new details but only a few new revelations. One of those bits of news is that Trump reportedly expressed doubts about short-lived National Security Adviser Michael Flynn during their Jan. 28, 2017, dinner in the White House Green Room. Comey wrote:
[Trump] then went on to explain that he has serious reservations about Mike Flynn's judgment and illustrated with a story from that day in which the president apparently discovered during his toast to Teresa May that [redacted] had called four days ago. Apparently, as the president was toasting [British Prime Minister] May, he was explaining that she had been the first to call him after his inauguration and Flynn interrupted to say that [redacted] had called (first, apparently). It was then that the president learned of [redacted] call and he confronted Flynn about it (not clear whether that was in the moment or after the lunch with PM May). Flynn said the return call was scheduled for Saturday, which prompted a heated reply from the president that six days was not an appropriate period of time to return a call from the [redacted] of a country like [redacted]. ("This isn't [redacted] we are talking about.") He said that if he called [redacted] and didn't get a return call for six days he would be very upset. In telling the story, the president pointed his fingers at his head and said "the guy has serious judgment issues." [James Comey memos]
When Forbes launched the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans in 1982, Donald Trump made the cut at $100 million. He and his lawyer Roy Cohn complained to Forbes that $100 million was too small, Jonathan Greenberg, an investigative journalist who interviewed Trump for the issue, recounts in The Washington Post, but decades later, he learned that "Trump was actually worth roughly $5 million" and "should not have been on the first three Forbes 400 lists at all." In 1984, when Trump was pushing to be labeled a billionaire, Greenberg got a call from "John Barron," who assured Greenberg that Trump owned virtually all of his father Fred's real estate assets.
We now know that "John Barron" was Trump's alter-ego — and that Trump is still obsessed with his Forbes ranking — and Greenberg writes that when he recently rediscovered the tapes, "I was amazed that I didn't see through the ruse." In fact, according to Fred Trump's will, he retained 100 percent ownership of his residential empire until his death in 1999. And instead of the 25,000 residential units Donald Trump claimed his family owned, valued at $20,000-$40,000 each, there were 8,000 to 10,000 units, each worth about $9,000, Greenberg said. He added that this deceit mattered:
I was a determined 25-year-old reporter, and I thought that, by reeling Trump back from some of his more outrageous claims, I'd done a public service and exposed the truth. But his confident deceptions were so big that they had an unexpected effect: Instead of believing that they were outright fabrications, my Forbes colleagues and I saw them simply as vain embellishments on the truth. We were so wrong. This was a model Trump would use for the rest of his career, telling a lie so cosmic that people believed that some kernel of it had to be real. The tactic landed him a place on the Forbes list he hadn't earned — and led to future accolades, press coverage, and deals. It eventually paved a path toward the presidency. [The Washington Post]