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January 28, 2016

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

12:33 p.m. ET

With 7 in 10 Americans reporting they are "frustrated" with the 2016 presidential election, this year could be the Libertarian Party's big chance — and America's largest third party is holding its national convention in Orlando, Florida, this weekend.

On the agenda: picking a presidential nominee from among three contenders. Though the contest is considered close, greatest name recognition belongs to former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who was the Libertarian nominee in 2012, when he picked up more than 1 million votes. Johnson recently polled at 10 percent nationally against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and he would need 15 percent support to make it into the general election debates.

You can watch livestream of the convention proceedings below. The nomination is expected to take place around 5 p.m. Eastern on Sunday. Bonnie Kristian

12:19 p.m. ET

Martin Short and Maya Rudolph stopped by The Tonight Show on Friday, so naturally host Jimmy Fallon had to find something totally outlandish for them to do together. The gang spoofed '80s cop shows with The Windy City Blue, a gag that gets progressively sillier — and windier — with each new bit. Hold onto your hat and watch below. Julie Kliegman

11:42 a.m. ET
Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization dismissed a call Saturday to move or cancel the Rio Summer Olympics due to the spread of the Zika virus. The U.N. agency was responding to a Friday open letter from 150 health experts urging them to delay or relocate the event "in the name of public health," citing the mosquito-borne virus' link to birth defects.

"Based on the current assessment of the Zika virus circulating in almost 60 countries globally and 39 in the Americas, there is no public health justification for postponing or cancelling the games," the group's statement read.

The Zika virus is thought to have originated in Brazil. Julie Kliegman

11:39 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Speaking at Harvard University, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said Friday that she expects to hike interest rates "probably in the coming months" if the economy continues to improve.

Yellen noted that "growth looks to be picking up from the various data that we monitor," referencing rising oil prices and a weaker, stabilizing dollar as the rationale for her decision, which corresponds with recent remarks from other Fed policymakers.

She argued that a gradual increase from the near-zero rate the central bank has maintained since the 2008 financial crisis "would be appropriate" to push inflation toward the Fed's 2 percent goal. Bonnie Kristian

11:15 a.m. ET
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Things are looking good for Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, and not only because he's expected to star in the long-awaited Space Jam sequel.

James scored 33 points Friday in the Cavs' 113-87 rout of the Toronto Raptors. With the win, his team earned a spot in the NBA Finals against either the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Golden State Warriors, which would be a rematch of last year's contest.

This means, as The New York Times reports, that James is set to appear in his sixth-straight NBA Finals, and seventh overall. He's a two-time champ, both from when he took his talents to the Miami Heat. Julie Kliegman

7:54 a.m. ET

Police arrested at least 35 people Friday at a San Diego rally for Donald Trump. About 1,000 people turned out to protest the hard-line immigration policies of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Reuters reports.

Clashes between protesters and supporters were largely non-violent, but police in riot gear began pushing and pepper spraying protesters.

Trump's campaign has come under fire for its history of conflict at rallies and its subsequent handling of both protesters and reporters. On Wednesday, police arrested protesters at Trump's Anaheim rally after they reportedly pelted officers with objects. Julie Kliegman

May 27, 2016

A Home Depot employee in Staten Island, New York, sparked death threats by wearing an "America Was Never Great" hat to work, The New York Times reports. Krystal Lake, 22, says she wore the hat after several co-workers wore pro–Donald Trump pins. "The point of the hat was to say that America needs change and improvement," Lake said. A company spokesman said Lake has been told never to wear the hat again. The Week Staff

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