February 22, 2018

NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch represented her organization at the CNN town hall in Florida Wednesday night, and she wasn't terribly popular with Parkland survivors in the audience. Student Emma Gonzalez asked Loesch if she believed "it should be harder to obtain the semiautomatic weapons and modifications to make them fully automatic," and Loesch talked mental health.

"I don't believe that this insane monster should have ever been able to obtain a firearm, ever," she said. "This individual is nuts," and no NRA member supports allowing "people who are crazy, who are a danger to themselves, who are a danger to others getting their hands on a firearm." (She may want to check with her boss, Chris Cox, or mental health experts.) Eventually, Gonzalez had to interrupt Loesch and repeat her question. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel jumped in, too. "You just told this group of people that you're standing up for them," he said. "You are not standing up for them until you say, 'I want less weapons.'"

Scott also argued that "we do need to have some gun control reform — 18-year-olds should never have a rifle," earning pushback from Loesch. "If you're old enough to vote, you're old enough to drive a car, old enough to serve your country, I think that you are old enough — if," she said, "if you are not a danger to yourself or others." She did not explain who would determine mental fitness or what threats merit losing gun privileges. "You're absolutely not the litmus test for how law enforcement should follow up," Scott said.

Loesch also sparred with slain teacher Scott Beigel's mother and an AP history teacher. Peter Weber

2:58 p.m. ET
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The opioid crisis has been steadily growing more dire for years, and new evidence has surfaced suggesting there are unexpected consequences even to treating the harmful addiction epidemic. CNN reported Monday that more and more young children are being unintentionally exposed to buprenorphine, a drug commonly used to treat opioid addiction.

Between 2007 and 2016, over 11,000 calls were made to U.S. poison control centers regarding children's exposure to the drug, a study published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday revealed. Eighty-six percent of those calls were about children under 6 years old.

Buprenorphine is "never prescribed" for children that young, and poses "a significant risk" to them, said Henry Spiller, one of the authors of the study. While 89 percent of the cases in the study concerned unintentional exposure, Spiller notes that intentional use is especially common among adolescents, with the intent of intoxication or even suicide.

The rate of exposure to buprenorphine almost doubled over the course of the study. With an increasing number of people misusing prescription opioids or otherwise battling addiction, misuse of treatment drugs like buprenorphine is likely to rise even more in the coming years.

The study shows that even the most well-intentioned methods for curbing the opioid epidemic can be harmful to "those who are most vulnerable," said Dr. Jason Kane, an associate professor of pediatrics and critical care with the University of Chicago. Read more at CNN. Shivani Ishwar

2:44 p.m. ET

The biggest soccer news right now has nothing to do with the World Cup.

In a moment definitely stolen from a rejected early-2000s Disney movie, a kangaroo invasion delayed a soccer game in Australia for more than half an hour Sunday, per The West Australian. The marsupial easily cleared the fence around the field, lounged in front of the goal, and even stopped a few balls kicked his way.

The very down-under incident happened during a National Premier League game between Australia's two best women's teams, says The Associated Press. The Socceroo's first appearance delayed kickoff for the second half, and his return paused the game again. One team's coach got in a truck and eventually steered the kangaroo off the field for good — but not before a Kangaroo Jack/Air Bud crossover was born. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:21 p.m. ET

Immigrant parents detained at the border could soon face a difficult choice: be placed in a tent city to await the asylum process as a family, or relinquish custody of their children to the government.

Two sources familiar with the plan told McClatchy that President Trump's administration is putting together a proposal for allowing immigrants to make this choice, in a hasty attempt to patch up holes left in Trump's executive order. The president last week signed an order to no longer require families to be separated while seeking asylum in the U.S., but his administration is still seeking to challenge a law prohibiting child migrants from being detained for more than 20 days at a time. After that time is up, parents will have to choose whether to keep their children with them in detention centers, or have the Department of Health and Human Services place them with a U.S.-based family member or sponsor.

The executive order moved to detain families together, but put no time frame on how long immigrants might need to be held in camps on military bases before their asylum requests are processed. McClatchy notes that only 20 percent of asylum requests were eventually granted in 2017, and only 15 percent have been approved this year. Families seeking asylum would be held a minimum of six weeks, and likely much longer, reports Vox.

Proponents of giving parents a choice in their child's fate say it could give more flexibility and speed asylum cases along. Others say it's not a fair solution and that it's coercive to force parents to make such a choice. Read more at McClatchy. Summer Meza

2:16 p.m. ET
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There is a creeping feeling at the State Department that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will not be a marked improvement over his widely disliked predecessor, Rex Tillerson, who departed almost two months ago, Politico reports. "Pompeo at least has a more open process," said former State Department official Ilan Goldenberg. "You're not hearing as much that everything goes through policy planning or the secretary won't talk to anybody."

Still, Pompeo's lack of pushback against President Trump's demands has left some staffers "worried that he won't defend the department's interests," Politico writes. Staffers were watching, for example, when Pompeo didn't argue at a congressional hearing against Trump's attempts to cut their funding by approximately 30 percent. Officials are also concerned about where Pompeo will stand on Trump's nomination of Ronald Mortensen as assistant secretary of state for population, refugees, and migration — a man Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has branded unfavorably as a "virulent opponent of immigration."

"People are still hopeful about Pompeo," said the president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, Ronald Neumann. "But they're getting a dose of reality." Added Goldenberg: "It's a low bar because of how terrible Tillerson was on all of these things." Read more about Pompeo's reception in the department at Politico. Jeva Lange

1:38 p.m. ET

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) had Republicans up in arms when she called for her supporters to physically harass White House officials. But even Waters' own party isn't necessarily on her side.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tweeted a calm response to Waters' message Monday, calling instead for measured responses to President Trump's "lack of civility."

Waters channeled America's recent habit of confronting Trump officials at restaurants at a rally Saturday, telling supporters to "create a crowd" and "push back" if they see Cabinet members in public. Republicans including The View co-host Meghan McCain, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), and Donald Trump Jr. all predictably fired back. So did the president, again using his "low IQ" insult for Waters.

But Pelosi's response was rare, tweeted political journalist Yashar Ali. CNN's congressional correspondent Manu Raju broke down why Pelosi had to tiptoe in her response to the Congressional Black Caucus member and fellow Californian:

You could call that thinking ahead — or maybe just politics. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:12 p.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first-ever prescription drug made from marijuana Monday, The Associated Press reports. The medication, Epidiolex, is an oral treatment for seizures associated with two rare forms of childhood epilepsy. "This approval serves as a reminder that advancing sound development programs that properly evaluate active ingredients contained in marijuana can lead to important medical therapies," said the FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb.

Epidiolex uses cannabidiol (CBD), one of the chemicals in the cannabis plant, not tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes the "high" associated with the drug.

"The difficult-to-control seizures that patients with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome experience have a profound impact on these patients' quality of life," said Billy Dunn, the director of Division of Neurology Products at the FDA's research wing. "In addition to [Epidiolex being] another important treatment option for Lennox-Gastaut patients, this first-ever approval of a drug specifically for Dravet patients will provide a significant and needed improvement in the therapeutic approach to caring for people with this condition."

The medication, which comes in the form of a strawberry-flavored syrup from Britain's GW Pharmaceuticals, was tested in trials with more than 500 patients. Read about its common side effects and the approval process at the FDA's website. Jeva Lange

1:10 p.m. ET
John Sciulli/Getty Images for ESPN

Move over Jay-Z and Beyoncé, there's a new power couple in town — and they're baring it all for ESPN The Magazine's annual Body Issue.

Soccer star Megan Rapinoe and WNBA great Sue Bird are the first same-sex couple to be featured on the cover of the Body Issue, which aims to challenge beauty norms and celebrate the diversity of all athletic bodies.

With the politically charged state of the U.S., Rapinoe told the magazine that posing with Bird for the cover felt necessary. "Just think of how far we've come, but also the current climate. Not only are we female athletes, but we're dating as well. It's kind of badass," said Rapinoe, a forward for the U.S. National Women's Soccer team and Seattle Reign FC.

Bird, who plays point guard for the Seattle Storm, agreed, saying she believes the cover will only get better with age. As the years go by, it'll only seem more momentous that they were the "first openly gay couple to be in the issue," she said.

For the 10th anniversary of the Body Issue, ESPN is putting out 10 covers altogether, reports People. The covers include three other female athletes: soccer player Crystal Dunn, softball player Lauren Chamberlain, and basketball player Breanna Stewart. The issue hits newsstands June 29. Amari Pollard

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