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July 9, 2020

Italy has hit an incredible milestone in its fight against COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, Italy, has no more COVID-19 cases in its ICU ward, Italy's wire service ANSA reports. It's the first time the hospital can say that since it admitted its first coronavirus case on Feb. 23, 137 days ago.

Bergamo is at the center of Italy's Lombardy region, which was one of the earliest and hardest hit areas in the coronavirus pandemic. Italy at one point had the most COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world, and Lombardy led that count, ABC News notes. Nearly 35,000 people have died in Italy due to COVID-19, giving it the fourth highest death toll of any country.

Meanwhile the U.S. has taken over as the coronavirus capital of the world, and shows no sign of slowing down. Where Italy announced 193 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the U.S. reported a record 62,751 — and proportional differences between the two countries' populations don't explain away that yawning gap. Kathryn Krawczyk

February 10, 2020

The Department of Justice has charged four members of the Chinese military in its investigation of the massive Equifax data breach.

The four members of the People's Liberation Army of China were charged Monday with hacking into the networks of credit reporting agency Equifax and stealing the personal information of about 145 million Americans. They were also charged with taking Equifax's trade secrets in what Attorney General William Barr called "a deliberate and sweeping intrusion into the private information of the American people."

Essentially half of America's population and many other people worldwide had their personal data breached in the Equifax hack, first exposed in 2017. That data included names and Social Security numbers, giving the breach a reputation as one of the largest of all time, both in terms of scale and what data was released. Equifax's CEO Richard Smith was forced into resignation after the incident, which also spurred congressional hearings and eventually a settlement of around $650 million.

The Justice Department similarly charged PLA members with hacking other American corporations back in 2014. With Monday's charge, "we remind the Chinese government that we have the capability to remove the Internet's cloak of anonymity and find the hackers that nation repeatedly deploys against us," Barr said in a press conference. Kathryn Krawczyk

November 28, 2018

Florida millionaire Jeffrey Epstein once faced life in prison on charges of trafficking dozens of underage girls for sex. He was indicted in a 53-page federal document, accused of building a "cult-like network" of girls coerced into sexual acts at Epstein's homes and at his "sex parties," the Miami Herald reports.

But in 2007, Epstein took a "secret" plea deal that blocked those accusations from the public eye and subjected him to just 13 months in prison, the Herald writes. Alex Acosta, then a federal prosecutor and now President Trump's Labor Secretary, was instrumental in making Epstein's deal happen, dozens of interviews and hundreds of court and FBI documents show.

Epstein's case was "not a 'he said, she said' situation," retired Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter tells the Herald. "This was 50-something 'shes' and one 'he' — and the 'shes' all basically told the same story," he continued. Still, Epstein's alleged victims — about 80 women now in their 20s and 30s — "have all but been forgotten," the Herald writes.

That's because Epstein avoided any public scrutiny for his charges, agreeing to a plea deal that broke federal law by guaranteeing it wouldn't be revealed to Epstein's alleged victims or the public. And as a federal prosecutor in Epstein's case, Acosta "basically allow[ed]" Epstein's lawyers "to write up the agreement," a former state prosecutor representing Epstein's victims in a new suit told the Herald. The agreement also ended an FBI probe into Epstein's alleged trafficking ring, but two new suits brought by victims might uncover more details in the coming months.

Acosta now heads the federal department that oversees human trafficking laws, the Herald notes. He did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Read more of this massive investigation at the Miami Herald. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 28, 2015

Americans admire Hillary Clinton and President Obama most in 2015, according to a Gallup poll released Monday. Based on how often each is in the public eye, that's not exactly a shocker. In fact, they've earned the titles for the past 14 and eight years straight, respectively.

But a closer look at the runners-up for the most admired man in the survey of 824 U.S. adults is a little more head-scratching. Behind Obama's 17 percent of the vote, there are two men tied for second place with 5 percent. When asked to name a man — any living man in the world — they admired most in 2015, equal numbers of people chose Pope Francis and Donald Trump. Let that sink in, and take comfort that there's a 4 percentage-point margin of error in either direction.

On the women's side, Malala Yousafzai, Oprah Winfrey, and First Lady Michelle Obama all racked up some points as most admired, but none came close to snagging Clinton's 13 percent. Check out Gallup's full results here. Julie Kliegman

December 14, 2015

Donald Trump's bravado is somehow not going unmatched in this world. The new contender? Trump's own physician.

Take a gander at Dr. Harold N. Bornstein's assessment of Trump's health, as released Monday by the Republican presidential hopeful:

With his "astonishingly excellent" test results, wrote Bornstein — who is apparently not Chris Parnell — Trump would be "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency." Unequivocally. Julie Kliegman

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