The rapid spread of the Zika virus has public health officials worried, not least because so little is known about the mosquito-borne illness. In most children and adults, the symptoms are mild, if they appear at all, but there is a speculative link to the nervous system disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome and a more solid and troubling tie to microcephaly, a condition where babies are born with small heads and shrunken brains. There is no vaccine and no treatment, but researchers in Texas and Brazil are working on a Zika vaccine. It will probably be 5-12 years before they have one ready for the public.
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston tell BBC News they could have a working vaccine in a year or two, but that getting regulatory approval to use it on humans could take another eight to 10 years. Prof. Nikos Vasilakis says that 20-30 million Americans in the Southern U.S. are at risk of infection if the virus spreads north of Mexico, as expected. But there's a debate over how dangerous the virus really is.
Several countries with significant infections — El Salvador, Colombia, and Brazil — are urging women to put off having children, given the risk of bearing children with microcephaly. But the spike in microcephaly cases in Brazil doesn't seem to be as big as originally thought, and the World Health Organization stresses that a link between the Zika virus and microcephaly is circumstantial and unproven. In 2014, Brazil had 150 reported cases of microcephaly a year (versus some 2,500 cases of microcephaly a year in the U.S.), so the 4,180 suspected cases reported since October shocked the country. But on Wednesday, Brazilian health officials said that of the 732 cases they examined more closely, 270 were confirmed to be microcephaly and 462 cases were actually something else.
Still, "I don't think we should lower our alarm over the Zika outbreak," Paul Roepe, co-director of Georgetown University's Center for Infectious Disease, tells The Associated Press. And two public health experts, Dr. Daniel Lucey and Lawrence Gostin, warned in the Journal of the American Medical Association that if the WHO doesn't act, it risks a repeat of the Ebola disaster in Africa. See more about Zika in the BBC News explainer video below. Peter Weber
"Attention chess lovers and history buffs," says Eustacia Huen at Forbes: This extravagantly bejeweled chessboard is ready to be played, not just displayed. Named after a historic clash between the armies of Alexander the Great and Persia's Darius III, the Battle of Issus Chess Set ($1,650,000) was created late last century by a master jeweler who poured 14,000 hours into crafting its figurines, using 14 pounds of gold and 11 pounds of silver while accenting the work with pearls, garnets, turquoise, rose quartz, and enamel. Each figure is unique, down to the character's shoelaces, and the set is being sold with a mahogany table and two antique leather-upholstered chairs.
A South Carolina waitress was left a note by a fundamentalist couple chiding her for working instead of staying home and taking care of her husband. The waitress, who is single and has no children, said she felt "a bit heartbroken" by the note, which stated that a "woman's place is in the home" and urged her to "help make America great again" by cooking and cleaning as "her husband and God intended."
Here's the message — with its original grammar mistakes — in full:
Thank you for your excelent service today — your a good waitress.
Here's your tip:
The womans place is in the home. You're place is in the home. It even says so in the Bible. You may think that your contributing to your household by coming into work, but your not. While your in here 'working' this is the reason your husband must see another women on his way home from a long day at his work. Because you should be takeing care of the household duties. You may think what you are doing 'working' is right, it is really essentially a disgrace to his manhood and to the American family. So instead of coming to your 'job' and looking for hand out's to feed your family, hows about going home and cleaning your house and cooking a hot meal for your husband and children, the way you're husband and God intended, and help make America great again. Praying for families and our nation. [The Miami Herald]
Bridget Anne Kelly, the former aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) who sent the infamous "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" email at the center of Christie's Bridgegate scandal, took the stand Friday in the federal trial surrounding the 2013 incident.
In her testimony, Kelly claimed that the proposal to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey, was presented to her by former Port Authority official David Wildstein as a "traffic study." The governor's staff is accused of closing the lanes as political retaliation against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (D), who had declined to endorse Christie in his re-election race, but Kelly told jurors Wildstein — who has already admitted to masterminding the plot and is the prosecution's key witness — told her he was running a study on traffic patterns near the bridge and "wanted to use the traffic study as a pedestal to prop up Christie for improving congestion at the bridge," NBC New York reports.
Also during her testimony, Kelly recounted alleged bullying at the hands of Christie unrelated to the bridge closure, saying that Christie once threw a water bottle at her. She broke down in tears twice on the stand.
Kelly faces incriminating evidence, NJ.com reports, including the aforementioned email and subsequent missives and texts, including some exchanged with Wildstein the week of the incident. She is on trial with Bill Baroni, another former Port Authority official, who testified earlier this week; Kelly is scheduled to testify for several more days. Each faces conspiracy and fraud charges that, if convicted, could lead to up to 20 years in prison. Kimberly Alters
The way Vice President Joe Biden would really like to settle the score with Donald Trump doesn't include a debate stage. "The press always ask me, 'Don't I wish I were debating him?'" Biden said while campaigning for Hillary Clinton at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania on Friday. "No, I wish we were in high school, and I could take him behind the gym. That's what I wish."
Biden's suggestion that he'd rather use his fists than his words to fight Trump came as he expressed contempt for the Republican nominee's remarks about women. "What a disgusting assertion for anyone to make," Biden said, referring to Trump's past boasting about being able to do whatever he pleases to women because of his celebrity status. Biden said what Trump "said he did and does" is the "textbook definition of sexual assault."
Watch Biden's comments at the Friday rally below. Becca Stanek
— CNN (@CNN) October 21, 2016
There is one Obama that Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, and their supporters can all find nice words about: Malik Obama, the estranged Trump-supporting half brother of the better-known Barack. And in a Facebook post Friday, Palin made as if to praise President Obama, writing, "It was nice to shake Obama's hand the other night and whisper a belated 'thank you' for the courage and love of country he shows in this most important time." Only then Palin "apologizes" halfway through to clarify "oh sorry … not THAT Obama — this one — Barack's brother Malik …" A real knee-slapper.
There is also a picture included in Palin's Facebook post. In it, Palin is not in fact meeting Malik Obama. She is not talking to Malik Obama. She is not even looking at Malik Obama, who is a ghostly out-of-focus blur in the far left of the frame, with his face turned away from the camera. Sarah Palin is talking to a very-in-focus, but otherwise basically completely irrelevant, Ben Carson.
"This pic shows Malik Obama and Dr. Ben Carson as we exited the debate's surreal hearing of the oft repeated, unrefuted, untruthful sound bites uttered on stage on behalf of the globalist agenda," Palin explains in her post. As Jezebel writes: "If you just look at the … screenshot, it appears that Palin is not only praising President Barack Obama, but she is also smiling at someone who is not Barack Obama, but who is Ben Carson." Which raises the question: Was Palin trying to dupe everyone into thinking Carson was Obama for her "trick?"
And also, really, more to the point: Why isn't the picture just actually of her talking to Malik Obama? Jeva Lange
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is making her operatic debut next month — but she won't be doing any singing. The Washington National Opera announced Friday that Ginsburg will make an appearance for one night in its November production of The Daughter of the Regiment, an 1840 opera by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti.
Ginsburg will be playing the part of the Duchess of Krakenthorp, though her portrayal has been amended to be a speaking role rather than a singing role. And that's not the only change that's being made to the role for Ginsburg — NPR reported some of her lines will reference her daytime job at the Supreme Court:
At one point, for example, after the duchess observes that the best leaders of the House of Krakenthorp have been "persons with open but not empty minds, individuals willing to listen and learn," she looks at the audience meaningfully, and asks, "Is it any wonder that the most valorous members ... have been women?"
She goes on to list the qualifications for admission to the House of Krakenthorp, some of which sound suspiciously like the qualifications for being a Supreme Court justice — i.e., "must possess the fortitude to undergo intense scrutiny," and have a "character beyond reproach." [NPR]
Instead of her usual robe and decorative collars, though, Ginsburg will be wearing an extravagant, feathered hat.
Ginsburg has long been a fan of opera and has even appeared as an extra in three productions, but the fact that she lacks singing chops has prevented her from taking on a role of her own. You can catch Ginsburg at the opera on Nov. 12, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Becca Stanek
Donald Trump's posts on Facebook were flagged by users and employees for qualifying as hate speech, employees told The Wall Street Journal. In an article published Friday, it was revealed Facebook employees wanted the Republican candidate's posts pulled from the site, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg ultimately ruled against their removal, saying it would send the wrong message to censor a presidential candidate.
The discussion began when Trump posted a link on Dec. 7, 2015, to a campaign statement that called for "preventing Muslim immigration." Zuckerberg ruled later that month not to remove the post, even as some employees complained that the decision amounted to a special exception for Trump:
Users flagged the December content as hate speech, a move that triggered a review by Facebook's community-operations team, with hundreds of employees in several offices world-wide. Some Facebook employees said in internal chat rooms that the post broke Facebook's rules on hate speech as detailed in its internal guidelines, according to people familiar with the matter.
Content reviewers were asked by their managers not to remove the post, according to some of the people familiar. Facebook's head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, later explained in an internal post that the company wouldn't take down any of Mr. Trump's posts because it strives to be impartial in the election season, according to people who saw the post. [The Wall Street Journal]
"Banning a U.S. presidential candidate is not something you do lightly," a person familiar with the discussion said. Facebook has struggled to appear nonpartisan during the campaign, and has faced accusations of manipulating its Trending topics news module. Jeva Lange