A 6-year-old unvaccinated boy almost died in 2017 after contracting the state’s first known pediatric case of tetanus in more than 30 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week. He spent 57 days hospitalized at a cost of $811,929 for a disease that’s preventable with five doses of a $30 vaccine. Six days after cutting his forehead while playing on a farm, the boy experienced muscle spasms and trouble breathing. He couldn’t open his mouth when admitted to the hospital, spent a month on a ventilator, and was in such pain that he wore earplugs in a darkened room for weeks to shut out light and noise. Surviving tetanus doesn’t provide future immunity, and the boy’s family declined to have him vaccinated after his recovery. In Oregon, 7.5 percent of kindergarten-age kids are unvaccinated for nonmedical reasons, one of the highest rates in the U.S.
Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed a moratorium on the state’s death penalty, granting reprieves to all 737 Californians awaiting execution—a quarter of the country’s death row inmates. The newly elected Democrat said, “The intentional killing of another person is wrong.” He added that the death penalty discriminates against minorities, the mentally ill, and the poor while failing to deter murders since California enacted its execution law in 1978. California’s last execution was in 2006, and prison officials have struggled since to devise a lethal injection procedure that would pass muster in federal court. Newsom’s order will apply for the remainder of his tenure, but the current death penalty law can be changed only by a ballot initiative. Such a measure narrowly failed to pass in 2016. Voters instead approved a rival initiative to speed up executions; in the 2016 race for governor, Newsom had pledged to “be accountable to the will of the voters” on the death penalty.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week upheld an Ohio law that defunds Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions. An 11-6 decision allowed the state to strip $1.5 million of annual support for Planned Parenthood’s more than two dozen clinics in Ohio. Just three of those provide abortions, but Ohio passed a law in 2016 preventing organizations that perform or promote abortions from receiving government funds. The 11-judge majority, four of them appointed by President Trump, ruled that providers “do not have a due process right to perform abortions.” The case, one of several nationwide concerning efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, likely will be appealed to the Supreme Court. While the high court has recently avoided similar cases, conservative justices Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas have pushed for it to issue a definitive ruling.
President Trump this week proposed a $4.7 trillion budget, the largest in federal history. Drawing fierce rebukes from congressional Democrats, the proposal previewed the likely themes of Trump’s re-election campaign. The White House wants a nearly 5 percent increase in military spending—more than the Pentagon requested—plus $8.6 billion to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. It’s also asking for $200 billion over 10 years for infrastructure. But the proposal’s main author, Russell Vought, said, “We have many, many programs that are wasteful and inefficient,” explaining Trump’s backing away from a pledge to leave safety-net programs intact. The plan would cut $818 billion from projected spending on Medicare over the next decade and $1.5 trillion from Medicaid, and includes massive cuts to climate programs. Nonetheless, the White House estimates the plan would produce trillion-dollar deficits for four straight years.
New York City
State Attorney General Letitia James issued subpoenas this week to Deutsche Bank for records related to four Trump Organization projects and Trump’s failed 2014 effort to buy the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. The civil investigation was prompted by last month’s testimony from Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who provided documents to Congress indicating Trump inflated his assets. James is seeking records related to a $125 million loan Trump obtained to buy the Doral golf resort outside Miami, $170 million to create the Trump International Hotel in Washington, and $69 million to refinance old loans on Trump’s tower in Chicago. James also subpoenaed records from New Jersey–based Investors Bank regarding its backing of Trump Park Avenue in Manhattan. To bolster his bid for the Bills, Trump valued a New York mansion at $291 million when local assessors valued it at around $19 million. He said his name brand alone was worth $4 billion.
Palm Beach, Fla.
Li “Cindy” Yang, the founder of a chain of Florida massage parlors linked to prostitution, also ran a company that offered Chinese clients access to President Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club. The news of Yang’s ties to Trump come on the heels of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s arrest last month after he was allegedly videoed soliciting prostitution at a day spa that Yang founded but later sold. Yang, 45, was not implicated in the sting operation that shut down 10 spas, though her franchises reportedly are also known for offering sexual services. She was photographed with Trump at Mar-a-Lago as he cheered on the Patriots in February’s Super Bowl. She and her close relatives have donated almost $60,000 to the Trump campaign and his Super PAC. Yang, who carries a rhinestone-covered “MAGA” purse, denies doing anything illegal. It’s unclear whether she was ever hired to connect clients with Trump. ■