What we know — and don’t — about the mysterious Russian nuclear-propelled missile explosion

WORLD NEWS What we know -- and don't -- about the mysterious Russian nuclear-propelled missile explosion  https://linewsradio.com/what-we-know-and-dont-about-the-mysterious-russian-nuclear-propelled-missile-explosion/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/rss.xml

macky_ch/iStock(MOSCOW) — The explosion of a suspected Russian nuclear-powered cruise missile last week has caused a lot of confusion and anxiety, fueled in part by Russian authorities’ continuing secrecy around the accident.

Russia has provided few details known about the blast, which a U.S. official told ABC News “likely” took place during a test on the missile, named the SSX-C-9 Skyfall by NATO and as the 9M370 Burevestnik (Storm Petrel) by Russia.

What we know

There was a spike in radiation immediately after the explosion on Friday, briefly elevating levels up to 16 times higher than normal in a city 20 miles from the Nenoksa Missile Test Site on Russia’s northern Arctic coast. Russian authorities only officially acknowledged this spike on Sunday, three days after the accident. Nenoksa’s local administration had posted a notice on its website immediately after the blast, warning levels had spiked two times above normal. But this notice was then deleted after Russia’s defense ministry denied levels had increased.

Russia’s state weather service, Roshydromet, later acknowledged that the spike had sent radiation levels 4 – 16 times above the norm. But it appears the spike was also brief, lasting no more than 2 hours, before the lives returned to normal, according to Roshydromet.

The environmental group Greenpeace said its own readings show the spike lasted less than an hour. The group does not dispute the official Russian readings now that levels reduced to normal.

All of these readings have come from sensors at the nearby city of Severodvinsk, a nuclear submarine port, 20 miles from the test site.

The concern is that the radiation levels closer to the explosion were not immediately known. The village, Nenoksa, is located directly next to the blast and could have received higher levels. There is also the risk that radioactive debris from the rocket could have fallen near the site.

How dangerous is it?

The radiation levels recorded during the brief spike were around 0.002 millisieverts (mSv), officials said. According to the World Health Organization, the average background radiation dose people receive each year is 2.4 mSv (although that can vary from 1-10 mSv).

Per the WHO, highly exposed liquidators at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster received in excess of 100 mSv over a 20-year period. And a whole-body CT scan, for instance, emits 12 mSv.

That means that the elevated levels caused by the missile test explosion appear to have been less than 1/500th of the average amount of radiation absorbed by an adult naturally each year.

That could pose some potential risks if this was over a long period, but the spike also lasted only roughly an hour and a half. For those levels to be dangerous you would have to be exposed to them for months, according to Greenpeace.

Exposure levels closer to the explosion site, however, remain unclear.

Another risk, according to Greenpeace, is that the sensors also don’t account for alpha radiation. These particles — heavy by-products of radioactive decay — are easily blocked by materials such as skin, but are “potentially dangerous” if ingested, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

According to Greenpeace, those particles could have contaminated the nearby village, which has a population of about 500, and authorities therefore ought to test for them.

“The real problem is lack of transparency,” Konstantin Fomin, media coordinator on energy issues for Greenpeace Russia told ABC News. “It’s obviously not on the Chernobyl scale but even if there is no danger and I hope there is no danger, it is very worrisome that our government acts with so little transparency.”

Evacuations

Confusion over the blast is illustrated by the conflicting reports of evacuations in the village of Nyonoksa, directly next to the missile test site.

Local authorities initially said Tuesday that residents had been told to temporarily leave on Wednesday morning while a military operation was conducted. The local governor, Igor Orlov, then disputed that, calling reports of evacuations “absurd” and saying they weren’t taking place.

The same village authorities then said the request to leave had been cancelled.

Residents have since told local media that in fact such requests to leave temporarily are common and occur just ahead of planned tests on the missile range. It suggests more tests might have been planned, but that was not immediately confirmed.

What exploded?

U.S. officials and most experts believe the test was on a nuclear-powered cruise missile, called the SSC-X-9 Skyfall by NATO and the Burevestnik (Storm Petrel) by Russia.

Russian officials have said only that a rocket propulsion engine using nuclear materials exploded during a test. They have not officially confirmed it was the missile that U.S. officials believe likely exploded but have not disputed it was.

The explosion happened on a military missile test range and was carried out by engineers from Russia’s Federal Nuclear Center, under the state atomic agency Rosatom.

Putin has touted the missile as having almost “unlimited” range and it is a centerpiece of a new generation of nuclear weapons that he has been saber-rattling at the West in an attempt to look tough at home and force the U.S. to negotiate with him on arms control abroad.

The missile is believed to be a ramjet, which propels itself by sucking air in, heating it and pushing it out behind it. To heat the air constantly, the missile would carry essentially a miniature nuclear reactor. Outside experts though are skleptical that Russia is close to getting the missile operational. The U.S. tried to develop similar missiles in the 1960s but abandoned the idea as impracticable.

Casualties

At least 5 nuclear engineers were killed in the blast, while three more suffered non-life threatening injuries, according to Russia’s nuclear agency.

Two more defense personnel were reported killed.

The dead engineers have been hailed as heroes serving the Motherland by officials and will receive posthumous state medals.

Kremlin comment

President Vladimir Putin has still not commented publicly on the explosion.

His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, commented for the first time Tuesday, saying, “Unfortunately, accidents happen. These are tragedies. It is important to remember about heroes, who have lost their lives as a result of those accidents.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 14 Aug 2019

Rep. Steve King asks if there would ‘be any population of the world left’ if children born of rape, incest were aborted

Political News Rep. Steve King asks if there would 'be any population of the world left' if children born of rape, incest were aborted https://linewsradio.com/rep-steve-king-asks-if-there-would-be-any-population-of-the-world-left-if-children-born-of-rape-incest-were-aborted/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/rss.xml

Luka Banda/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Steve King is once again facing Democratic criticism after he publicly surmised that he could have incestuous or rapist relatives in his blood line during a convoluted explanation of his stance on abortion.

King’s comments came during an event in his congressional district, where he attempted to explain his support for legislation banning abortions without including codified exceptions for mothers who become pregnant from rape or incest.

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled out anyone who was a product of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” King, R-Iowa, told the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, Iowa, on Wednesday, according to video posted online by the Des Moines Register.

“Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that happened throughout all these different nations, I know that I can’t say that I was not a part of a product of that.”

“It’s not the baby’s fault for the sin of the father, or of the mother,” King added.

As Democratic presidential candidates campaigned across the Hawkeye State, several piled on condemnation of King and called on him to resign.

“You would think it would be pretty easy to come out against rape and incest,” South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said while stumping in Tipton, Iowa.

“Then again, you’d think it’d be pretty easy to come out against white nationalism. So this is just one more example why there needs to be a sane representative in that district.”

 King was overwhelmingly condemned by the House and stripped of his assignments on the House Judiciary and Agricultural Committees after comments he made, and later disputed, to The New York Times last year about white supremacy, with many Democrats, as well as House GOP Conference chairwoman Liz Cheney, calling on him to resign.

Cheney repeated her belief that King should resign after his comments on Wednesday and is the only congressional Republican to do so.

A spokesman for the Iowa Republican Party issued a statement saying “these comments are outrageous and are not reflective of the views of the Iowa Republican Party.”

King has a fairly serious primary challenger this year in Iowa State Sen. Randy Feenstra. J.D. Scholten, the Democrat who lost to King in 2018 by just three points, is also running again in 2020.

“Yet again, Steve King puts his selfish, hateful ideology above the needs of the people of Iowa’s 4th district,” Scholten stated. “Excusing violence — in any way — is entirely unacceptable. Here in Iowa, we stand strong together in the face of violence, and strive to create a welcoming and safe community for all people.

His comments are disrespectful to survivors and don’t reflect Iowan values. We stand for bringing all people together and fighting for the positive change that we desperately need here in Iowa.”

Several Democratic presidential candidates also expressed support for Scholten.

 King has a long record of provocative immigration rhetoric, including comparing immigrants to “dirt,” a claim he later denied.

He also disparaged young undocumented immigrants who have grown up in the United States and have long sought a path to citizenship, often referred to as DREAMers, in July 2013, when he said, “For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that they weigh 130 pounds, and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

King, a major supporter of Trump, was reelected to a ninth term in the House last November.

A King spokesman did not immediately respond to an inquiry from ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 14 Aug 2019

New Trump administration rule would allow ‘religious litmus test’ for federal contractors, advocates say

Political News New Trump administration rule would allow 'religious litmus test' for federal contractors, advocates say https://linewsradio.com/new-trump-administration-rule-would-allow-religious-litmus-test-for-federal-contractors-advocates-say/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/rss.xml

Bumblee_Dee/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration has proposed a rule that would allow federal contractors to factor in religion in hiring a person, a move advocates say would enable employers to apply a religious litmus test and condone discrimination against the LGBTQ community and other groups.

The rule is the latest nod to the religious right and evangelical Christian leaders who say the U.S. workplace in recent decades has become too focused on protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community.

The Labor Department said that federal contractors would not be able to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, national origin, or other protected groups in accordance with the law. But under the rule, companies and groups that identify as religious “may make employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs without fear of sanction by the federal government,” according to a statement.

Advocacy groups argue the rule authorizes discrimination and allows religious employers to make adherence to religious tenants a condition of employment.

“The rule reflects part of a very dangerous tide if you care about equality and if you care about separation of church and state,” Louise Melling, deputy legal director with the ACLU, said on a call with reporters Wednesday.

A senior official from the Labor Department said the changes are meant to update the legal language to align it with recent Supreme Court cases and executive orders issued by President Donald Trump. The administration has proposed similar changes for health care offered by religious organizations.

“The department’s regulations for a long time have allowed religious organizations to take applicants and employees religion into account when making employment decisions, that’s not new, this proposal only seeks to clarify who qualifies as a religious organization and what religion means under the law. That’s it,” an official with the Labor Department told ABC News.

The rule “proposes to define Particular religion to clarify that the religious exemption allows religious contractors not only to prefer in employment individuals who share their religion, but also to condition employment on acceptance of or adherence to religious tenets as understood by the employing contractor,” according to the text of the proposed rule change.

The proposed rule uses a three part test to determine if an entity is religious, whether it was organized for a religious purpose, publicly presents itself as religious, or engages in the exercise of religion.

The rule is likely to face legal challenges from civil rights groups that say it legalizes discrimination based on a religious litmus test. The rule defines religion as “all aspects of religious observance or beliefs,” though the government does not define what kinds of religious practices would be considered.

“Not only does this have tremendous negative impact on the LGBTQ community but it completely revamps how religious exemptions have been applied previously, including that were put in place by the Bush administration, to allow for widespread discrimination against religious minorities, against women, against any individual who is not adhering to both what we would traditionally consider to be a religious organization holds out as it’s tenets, but then also applies those religious exemptions in a brand new way to for-profit companies,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign.

Advocates said they don’t know of any specific federal contractor who has been pushing for the change, but the proposed rule mentions entities that have said they haven’t applied for government contracts because of a lack of clarity around religious exemptions. The proposal doesn’t give an estimate of how many potential contractors could claim a religious exemption.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that advocates for religious protections, said the rule will make more religious organizations available to provide services like foster care, shelters and job training without being marginalized for religious views.

“All Americans have the freedom to operate according to their religious beliefs, and those freedoms don’t disappear when a university, charity, or international nongovernmental organization enters into a contract with the federal government,” the group’s senior counsel Gregory S. Baylor said in a statement.

A senior Labor Department official said they expect more religious organizations, such as universities, to compete for federal contracts because the rule ensures greater respect for their faith-bases missions.

The rule will be open for 30 days of public comment and is expected to face legal challenges.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 14 Aug 2019

Several officers injured by suspect firing in ongoing shooting in Philadelphia: Police

U.S. NEWS Several officers injured by suspect firing in ongoing shooting in Philadelphia: Police https://linewsradio.com/several-officers-injured-by-suspect-firing-in-ongoing-shooting-in-philadelphia-police/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/national-news/rss.xml

WPVI-TV(PHILADELPHIA) — Several Philadelphia police officers are injured by at least one gunman who authorities say is firing at them in an ongoing shooting incident, Philadelphia Police Sgt. Eric Gripp tweeted.

Police cars were seen speeding toward the scene in the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Tioga-Nicetown as armored vehicles and police in tactical gear converged on a street.

About a dozen officers were seen taking cover behind cars as other officials surrounded a home with guns drawn.

One woman said she heard over 100 gunshots and saw people running for their lives.

“I heard so many gunshots… I’m scared,” she told ABC Philadelphia station WPVI.

Agents from ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) are at the scene to assist, a spokesperson said.

Gripp urged residents to avoid the area.

This story is developing. Please check back for more updates.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 14 Aug 2019

“Whatever you like”: Vanessa Bell Calloway officially joins cast of ‘Coming 2 America’

Entertainment News  "Whatever you like": Vanessa Bell Calloway officially joins cast of 'Coming 2 America' https://linewsradio.com/whatever-you-like-vanessa-bell-calloway-officially-joins-cast-of-coming-2-america/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/entertainment-news/rss.xml

 

TM & COPYRIGHT © 1988 BY PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.(LOS ANGELES) — It’s safe to say it’s going to be a star-studded family reunion in Zamunda.

Variety has learned that Vanessa Bell Calloway is officially on board to reprise her role as Imani Izzi, the former betrothed of Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem, in the upcoming sequel Coming 2 America. She joins Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Shari Headley, and Paul Bates, who are all set to reprise their roles in the sequel. 

They’ll be joining newcomers Jermaine Fowler, Kiki Layne, Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones, Luenell and Rick Ross.

The original 1988 film Coming to America starred Murphy as Akeem Joffer, crown prince of the fictional African nation of Zamunda. In an effort to find a wife, Akeem, along with his trusty assistant Semmi, played by Hall, decide to travel to Queens, NY.

In the sequel, Akeem learns about a long-lost son and must return to America to meet the “unlikely heir to the throne of Zamunda.” 

As previously noted, black-ish creator Kenya Barris is rewriting a script from original Coming to America writers Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield.

Hustle & Flow director Craig Brewer has signed on to direct the project, which Murphy’s also producing. The two recently worked together on the Netflix comedy Dolemite Is My Name, which follows the story of real-life comedian Rudy Ray Moore.

Coming 2 America is set to hit theaters August 7, 2020.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 14 Aug 2019

White House and Capitol Hill discuss a way forward on gun control

Political News White House and Capitol Hill discuss a way forward on gun control https://linewsradio.com/white-house-and-capitol-hill-discuss-a-way-forward-on-gun-control/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/rss.xml

Moussa81/iStock(BEDMINSTER, N.J.) — While President Donald Trump is away at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, work has been underway back in Washington, where staffers from Capitol Hill and the White House have been meeting on potential gun control legislation.

At the White House on Tuesday, aides from key Senate offices, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R- Tenn., met with members of Trump’s legislative affairs teams to discuss potential gun control measures. While there are no plans at the moment for the president to be briefed, Trump has given his “full blessing” for the bipartisan discussion, according to a senior official, who said the president is staying updated.

In the aftermath of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, there is a renewed effort to tackle gun control in Congress. Trump began taking the temperature for what can potentially get accomplished, either by legislation or executive action, with aides and members on Capitol Hill. The meetings, first reported by the New York Times, demonstrate the White House’s willingness to act after the recent tragedies that left 31 dead.

Over the weekend in New Jersey, the president talked to Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and last week, he spoke on the phone with Manchin and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., multiple times about their 2013 background check bill. According to aides, Ivanka Trump has called members on the Hill to discuss their ideas, and Vice President Mike Pence has been working with Attorney General William Barr to make the death penalty more likely for mass shooters. But despite the blur of activity, concerns have also been raised about the feasibility of anything getting done.

Trump hasn’t made any decisions about next steps, but has expressed interest in the Manchin-Toomey background check bill, expanding red flag laws — but also beefing up due process protections — and working on mental health measures.

On Tuesday, en route to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the president said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell supports background checks.

 “I am convinced that Mitch wants to do something. I’ve spoken to Mitch McConnell. He’s a good man. He wants to do something. He wants to do it, I think, very strongly. He wants to do background checks and I do too, and I think a lot of Republicans do. I don’t know, frankly, that the Democrats will get us there,” Trump said.

McConnell, however, has not publicly expressed whether or not he supports background checks and said he has no plans to call the Senate back from recess.

“We’d just have people scoring political points and nothing would happen. There has to be a bipartisan discussion here of what we can agree on,” McConnell said in a radio interview last week. “We’re going to begin these discussions over the August break and when we get back (in September), hopefully we’ll be in a position to agree on things on a bipartisan basis and go forward and make a law.”

Democrats have asked for McConnell to call lawmakers back to vote on two bills passed by the House in February that focused on background checks. McConnell did not take up the bills for a floor vote, and the White House recommended a veto.

There is skepticism that the momentum for some kind of bipartisan agreement – even during the famously slow month of August in Washington – will fall short. And behind the scenes, some have expressed to the president concerns about how gun control measures will play out politically.

Trump has spoken with Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association, which still has immense power in Washington and influence with its millions of members across the country. The NRA’s stance remains in opposition to “expanding firearm background check systems, because background checks don’t stop criminals from getting firearms, because some proposals to do so would deprive individuals of due process of law, and because NRA opposes firearm registration,” the organization states on its website.

A senior administration official told ABC News that while the president wants to accomplish something, there is concern about how some gun laws could impact Trump in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. They recognize the margin for Trump to win is so narrow they want to be careful they don’t offend his base in any way.

The president, for now, has signaled that no matter what, he plans to move forward.

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “But I believe that Mitch, and I can tell you from my standpoint, I would like to see meaningful background checks, and I think something will happen. Look, it’s very simple, there’s nobody more pro-Second Amendment than Donald Trump, but I don’t want guns in the hands of a lunatic or a maniac and I think if we do proper background checks, we could prevent that.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 14 Aug 2019

Family of boy in brutal bullying attack caught on video sues Los Angeles school, saying he suffered permanent brain damage

U.S. NEWS Family of boy in brutal bullying attack caught on video sues Los Angeles school, saying he suffered permanent brain damage https://linewsradio.com/family-of-boy-in-brutal-bullying-attack-caught-on-video-sues-los-angeles-school-saying-he-suffered-permanent-brain-damage/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/national-news/rss.xml

Obtained by ABC News(NEW YORK) — The family of a teenage boy is suing the charter school that he attended over a year after a bullying attack that left him with what they say are “permanent traumatic brain and cervical injuries.”

The January 2018 attack at Animo Westside Middle School and the staff’s ensuing response were captured on surveillance video.

The video shows the victim, who was 12 and in sixth grade at the time, being attacked by a 14-year-old eighth-grader, a student who the victim’s attorney, Ben Meiselas, says had a “prior history of violence towards others.”

Other students are seen in the video crowding around the boy and his attacker. A school staff member is also seen pausing at the scene and walking away without stepping in.

The boy drifted in and out of consciousness and suffered from seizures during the attack and after it ended, the complaint claims.

The attacker later tried to assist the 12-year-old boy, the video shows, after he grew “nervous that he had killed” the boy, Meiselas said.

The boy’s mother, who asked that both their identities remain confidential, arrived 20 minutes after the attack, and it was only then that emergency services were called at her request, according to the filing.

The mother didn’t initially know that her son had been attacked, the complaint alleges, saying that she initially thought he had only experienced a seizure before seeing the attack on the surveillance tape.

When she requested the video later, she was allegedly given video from another day and a short clip of the attack that was “deceptively edited,” Meiselas said.

The charter school is connected to the Los Angeles Unified School District, but the organization that oversees the school is Green Dot, according to ABC affiliate KABC.

ABC News’ requests for comment from the school itself, the school’s principal and staff were not immediately returned.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided funding to Green Dot, told ABC News, “We believe all schools should provide a safe and welcoming environment for students and should have no tolerance for bullying or violence of any kind. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has provided funding to Green Dot schools but is not involved in their management.”

In a statement to KABC, Green Dot said, in part, “Green Dot is committed to working to ensure all our students receive a quality education in a safe environment where they can learn and grow. We are naturally concerned by the incident portrayed in media coverage.”

The complaint says that the boy has “regressed socially, emotionally [and] academically” as a result of the trauma and that he now suffers from post-traumatic sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy.

Dr. Morteza Shamsnia, a chief neurologist at Tulane Medical School, said in the lawsuit that the boy will likely have to seek treatment for the effects of the attack for the rest of his life.

The complaint alleges that a separate incident, in which the same aggressor pushed another student into the tires of a school bus, occurred before the 12-year-old boy was attacked.

Meiselas claims the school knew about this incident and “failed to take adequate action in order to protect the other students at the school.”

The complaint says the school implemented a “proposed safety plan” for two months before “reneging” on it prior to the videotaped incident. It claims the attacker returned to the same afterschool program where the January 2018 attack took place and was never expelled.

“The school district cited the need for understanding and sensitivity towards the aggressor,” the complaint says.

“The staff did everything wrong, every step of the way, and showed a callous disregard for my 12-year-old client’s life and well-being,” said Meiselas. “The School and Green Dot miserably failed my client, who will now suffer permanent brain damage for the rest of his life. This is unacceptable and every adult working for this school should be haunted by their conduct for the rest of their lives.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 14 Aug 2019

How advocates say Trump’s endangered species rules could threaten conservation

Political News How advocates say Trump’s endangered species rules could threaten conservation https://linewsradio.com/how-advocates-say-trumps-endangered-species-rules-could-threaten-conservation/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/rss.xml

Tom Meaker/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Conservation experts and environmental advocates are sounding the alarm about the Trump administration’s latest move to weaken the law that protects endangered species, saying that if they go into effect it could be harder to protect species in the future and mean more human activity is allowed in areas where protected species live.

Republicans and administration officials said the changes will still protect critical species but limit protections they say went far outside the goal of the law.

But conservation groups and Democrats say the Endangered Species Act, which sets up how the government protects species at risk of becoming extinct, helped save populations of animals like Bald Eagles and manatees in Florida. Advocates say protecting vulnerable species could become even more important as the country experiences more effects from climate change, which the United Nations reports will increase pressure on many species.

The proposed rules are expected to face legal challenges that could hold them up in court, but conservation advocates said that if they go into effect it could be harder to protect species in the future and mean more human activity is allowed in areas where protected species live.

Kristen Boyles, a staff attorney for the environmental law firm Earthjustice, said one of the changes would impact any species waiting for a decision on whether it will be protected as “threatened,” which means the species is in danger of going extinct in the foreseeable future.

Under previous regulations, species listed as threatened got the same protections as those listed as endangered, so they could not be hunted, killed, or disturbed in any way. Under the new rule, however, each species added to the threatened list needs its own plan detailing how it will be protected, which Boyles said could be a slow process that would leave populations vulnerable.

That could impact species like the Monarch butterfly, which has been awaiting a decision since 2014. Under the previous rules, if the butterflies were granted a “threatened” designation, it could trigger restrictions on pesticide use, study on the impact of climate change on that population and possibly protections for habitats where the insects migrate. If the new rules go into effect, the agency would have to go through a separate rule-making process to institute those protections.

“In the short-term there’s no consequences, no protections put in place to be a threatened species,” Boyles said.

Administration officials said the change will allow more tailored conservation plans and eliminate some changes in the different agencies’ policies. But it could also add to the workload for government employees working on endangered species designations, a process that can take years to evaluate scientific research, finalize a decision, and develop plans to recover the population of a species.

Conservation experts and advocates say the changes announced Monday would make it even more difficult to get protections for more species in the future in part because it sets a higher bar by saying scientific information has to be “reasonably certain” about what will happen to a species in the future.

Brett Hartl, government affairs director from the Center for Biological Diversity, said the new rules create excuses not to act to protect species, even though the intent of the Endangered Species Act is to give wildlife the benefit of the doubt.

“They’re trying to use and abuse science to achieve a sort of deregulatory goal which is, if you create a perception of uncertainty then it’s an excuse to delay taking action,” he told ABC.

Another change in the rules would allow agencies working on endangered species decisions to publish information on the economic impact of protecting a species, though the Endangered Species Act doesn’t allow the cost to be a factor in deciding whether to add a species to the list.

Gary Frazer, the top Fish and Wildlife Service working on endangered species issues, told reporters Monday the economic information would be available to the public but wouldn’t be used to make decisions on how to protect species.

Hartl and other critics said it’s unrealistic to think economic information wouldn’t be used to influence lawmakers or to support industry arguments against protecting certain species or areas where the species’ live that might conflict with business interests. “It’s creating the conditions, creating the backdrop that allows for basically political interference and for improper economic considerations to take root,” he said.

The new rules are set to go into effect in about 30 days barring legal or congressional action.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 14 Aug 2019

Surprise medical bills are on the rise: STUDY

LIgorko/iStockBY: DR. LAITH ALEXANDER

(NEW YORK) — A new study from Stanford University published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows surprise medical bills – when you visit a hospital and, some time later, get charged a bill – are on the rise.

Dr. Eric Sun, lead author of the study and assistant professor of anesthesiology, pain medicine and health research and policy at Stanford University, and his colleagues used a national database to look at surprise billing from 2010 to 2016, all from one large commercial insurer.

“We looked at situations where people were admitted to an emergency room – where people have less choice of health care provider,” Dr. Sun told ABC News. “We also looked at care within in-network hospitals – where receiving a bill would be a surprise because it should be covered by insurance.”

If you visited the emergency department in 2010, there was a 32% likelihood you would receive a surprise medical bill. But in 2016, Sun and his team found it rose to just under 43%.

But it’s not only that they are becoming more common — they’re becoming more expensive, too. The average cost rose from $220 to $628, the study found.

The situation is just as bad for inpatients. Twenty-six percent received a surprise medical bill in 2010, but 42% received one in 2016. The cost situation was even worse, rising from $804 to $2,040.

These surprise bills come from a variety of sources, but primarily it has to do with insurance coverage, according to the researchers.

“Whenever you get hospital care, the decision to participate in insurance is made independently by every doctor you see,” Sun told ABC News.

“If you see an in-network doctor, they agree to an amount that the insurance company pays, but an out-of-network doctor doesn’t like that agreement and so they bill more,” he said. “That comes as a surprise medical bill, and [it] can even happen at in-network hospitals.”

It isn’t fully clear why they’re on the rise.

“A lot of this is driven by insurers and doctors agreeing an amount to be paid for treatment,” Sun said. “The insurers might be putting more pressure on doctors to reduce costs by suggesting an amount the doctor doesn’t accept – and so the doctors choose to go out-of-network for additional revenue.”

Ambulance services, an often overlooked source of medical costs, resulted in a surprise bill for 86% of ER visits and nearly 82% of hospital admissions.

“It’s possible that the coverage of many networks still isn’t broad enough,” Dr. Robert Steinbrook, editor-at-large at JAMA Internal Medicine, told ABC News.

And as a patient, it can be really hard to avoid these bills. In fact, the situation is often impossible to avoid in the emergency room.

“In these settings, you often can’t choose who you’re treated by, so surprise bills are very difficult to avoid,” Sun said.

For inpatient admissions, Steinbrook has some advice: “If you have a choice of insurers, you should consider the breadth of the network. … If a hospital advertises that all physicians are part of an in-network insurance, you could go there and avoid out-of-network charges.”

In terms of what’s being done about the surprise bill epidemic, “different states have different laws,” Steinbrook said. Some approaches include setting a state-wide payment standard or using arbitration – where a third party resolves disputes between doctors and insurance providers.

“Congress has been debating various bills, but as of now, they haven’t enacted anything,” Steinbrook told ABC News. “In my view, a federal solution would be better because it would go beyond state boundaries.”

In the meantime, surprise medical bills may not be as out-of-the-ordinary as the name suggests. Whether it’s an ambulance or a hospital bed, your wallet might need to be braced for a bruising.

Dr. Laith Alexander is an MB/PhD student at the University of Cambridge, U.K., working with ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jay-Z teaming up with the NFL for music, social justice partnership

Sports News Jay-Z teaming up with the NFL for music, social justice partnership https://linewsradio.com/jay-z-teaming-up-with-the-nfl-for-music-social-justice-partnership/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/sports-news/rss.xml

Gearstd/iStock(NEW YORK) — Rap artist Jay-Z is teaming up with the NFL for a new partnership focusing on music and social justice, following the controversy the league faced over its handling of players kneeling to protest police brutality.

Jay-Z will become the National Football League’s “live music entertainment strategist,” a role the NFL says will enhance the live game experience and amplify its social justice efforts.

The rapper called the partnership “an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America.”

“With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country,” Jay-Z, whose birth name is Shawn Carter, said in a statement.

Jay-Z and Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, will speak about the deal in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

The partnership with Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s entertainment company, comes after the league faced a wave of player protests and heavy scrutiny — including from the rapper — over how it dealt with the protests.

Beginning in 2016, some football players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem at games to protest police brutality against people of color. Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback believed to be the leader of the protest movement, has not been with an NFL team since end of the 2016 season.

The NFL later issued a new national anthem policy in which players were allowed to stay in the locker room for the national anthem if they did not want to stand, but those on the field were expected to stand.

Jay-Z spoke out in favor of Kaepernick’s protests and, at one point, even seemed to take aim at the league.

“Would you rather be playing football, getting your head dinged in, or would you rather be an iconic figure for the rest of your life?” he told CNN’s Van Jones in January 2018, speaking about Kaepernick.

Months later, Jay-Z released a song with Beyoncé in which he appeared to criticize the NFL.

“I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don’t need you,” he rapped on Ape—-. “Every night we in the end zone, tell the NFL we in stadiums, too.”

Jay-Z appears to change his tune with the new partnership, which will be a multiyear deal.

A major component of the partnership will be to work with the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative, which launched in early 2019 and focuses on education and economic advancement; police and community relations; and criminal justice reform.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 14 Aug 2019