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September 7, 2017
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First responders who worked to evacuate the region around the Arkema chemical plant fire near Houston are suing the facility after they were left "doubled over vomiting" from fumes Arkema claimed were not "toxic or harmful in any manner," the Houston Chronicle reports. The Arkema plant was left dangerously flooded from the torrential rains of Hurricane Harvey.

Several refrigerated-truck containers of volatile organic peroxides exploded last week after cooling systems failed, sending up dark plumes of smoke. The seven responders are demanding at least $1 million for what they call "gross negligence" and Arkema's willful ignorance of the "foreseeable consequences of failing to prepare" for a disaster like Harvey.

The suit alleges:

Immediately upon being exposed to the fumes from the explosion, and one by one, the police officers and first responders began to fall ill in the middle of the road. Calls for medics were made, but still no one from Arkema warned of the toxic fumes in the air. Emergency medical personnel arrived on scene, and even before exiting their vehicle, they became overcome by the fumes as well. The scene was nothing less than chaos. Police officers were doubled over vomiting, unable to breathe. Medical personnel, in their attempts to provide assistance to the officers, became overwhelmed and they too began to vomit and gasp for air. [International Business Times]

The chemical fire at Arkema is under ongoing investigation. Federal regulations governing chemical plant safety haven't been updated since 1992, and experts say that the decisions to upgrade plants to the latest safety technology are mostly voluntary. Jeva Lange

July 17, 2017
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A "threatening note" was found Sunday morning outside the Las Vegas office of Sen. Dean Heller (R), police said Monday.

Officers were notified at around 9 a.m. that a burglar alarm had gone off at the office building where Heller has an office, and when they arrived, they did not find any signs of a break-in at his office, but they did discover the note taped to his door. Police are investigating the note, but said they will not release what it says, as the incident is under investigation.

Heller is an undecided vote on the Senate health-care bill, and a person in law enforcement told The Nevada Independent the note stated that the writer would lose his health care if Heller voted in favor of the Republicans' bill to repeal ObamaCare, and if he was going to die, he would take Heller along with him. Catherine Garcia

July 13, 2017

Former President Jimmy Carter, 92, is reportedly doing "fine" after collapsing from dehydration while constructing homes for Habitat for Humanity in Winnipeg, Canada, The Washington Post reports. Although Carter was rushed to the hospital, where he is under observation, the former president "encourages everyone to stay hydrated and keep building," the Carter Center said in a statement.

Habitat for Humanity credits Carter — a melanoma survivor — and his wife, former first lady Rosalynn Carter, with having built or repaired nearly 4,000 homes with the organization worldwide. The couple was participating in an effort to build or repair 100 homes in Canada in four days when the former president collapsed. Jeva Lange

March 13, 2017

As alarmed passengers watched, a Carnival cruise ship nearly mowed down two people on a jet ski Saturday in Port Canaveral, Florida.

The Canaveral Pilots Association says that the Carnival Magic's Capt. Doug Brown noticed the ship was looming over the jet ski, and notified Brevard County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit Deputy Taner Primmer, on patrol in the harbor. As Primmer responded, one of the two people on the jet ski fell into the water, and when they tried to climb back on, the watercraft flipped over. Now both jet skiers were in the water, and the Magic was coming closer and closer.

As Brown steered the ship away, Primmer was able to pull both of the jet skiers into his boat, and despite the close call, no one was hurt. Watch the video shot by a worried Magic passenger below. Catherine Garcia

October 31, 2016
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Nearly 1 child in 7 worldwide — or 300 million kids — lives in an area that has high levels of outdoor air pollution, a UNICEF report released Monday says.

Most of the affected children — 220 million — live in South Asia. Sources of pollution include factories, power plants, burning waste, dust, and vehicles that use fossil fuels, which "don't only harm children's developing lungs, they can actually cross the blood-brain barrier and permanently damage their developing brains," UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake said in a statement. Lake said that every year, air pollution is a "major contributing factor in the deaths of around 600,000 children under 5."

The World Health Organization estimates that outdoor air pollution killed 3.7 million people worldwide in 2012, including 127,000 kids under 5. Indoor air pollution, usually caused by coal or wood-burning cooking stoves in developing nations, killed 4.3 million people in 2012, including 531,000 children under 5. Next week in Morocco, the U.N. will lead talks among 200 governments on global warming, and UNICEF wants a discussion started on restricting the use of fossil fuels to not only improve health but to also halt climate change, Reuters reports. Catherine Garcia

May 26, 2016
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For the first time in the United States, a person has been diagnosed with a superbug that can't be treated by a last-ditch antibiotic.

As described in a study published Thursday in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a 49-year-old woman went to a military clinic in Pennsylvania with symptoms of a urinary tract infection, and when her sample was sent to a lab, it was determined the E. coli bacteria that caused her infection was resistant to colistin, an antibiotic used as a last resort. Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics due to overuse of antibiotics in medicine and food production, and in April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced one in three antibiotic prescriptions is unnecessary. "We risk being in a post-antibiotic world," CDC Director Thomas Frieden told USA Today. "The medicine cabinet is empty for some patients."

Doctors say this woman's diagnosis is noteworthy because she has not traveled outside of the United States. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have been working on legislation to make the approval of new antibiotics go faster, and in a statement, Bennet said the news out of Pennsylvania is "terrifying," adding, "we need new drugs to fight these antibiotic-resistant bacteria that pose serious and unique challenges to health care professionals."

Update 1:15 p.m.: The U.S. has seen its first case of bacteria resistant to a last-resort antibiotic — not, as it had previously been reported, to all antibiotics. This post has been updated to reflect the change. Catherine Garcia

April 28, 2016
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The president of the Philippines said Wednesday that the Islamist terrorist group Abu Sayyaf wanted to kidnap champion boxer Manny Pacquiao or one of his five children "to use them in bargaining for the release of their cohorts."

Benigno Aquino III said he himself was also a potential assassination target, and police foiled the militant group's plan to detonate bombs around Manila, The Associated Press reports. Abu Sayyaf is believed to be behind the beheading of Canadian hostage John Ridsdel, who was murdered earlier this week after his ransom wasn't paid. Aquino, whose six year term is over in June, said he will "devote all my energies" to fighting the extremists, making them a "very seriously degraded problem" for the next president.

Pacquiao is a two-term congressman in the Philippines and is running for one of 12 senate seats, with the election set for May 9. Catherine Garcia

October 21, 2015

A poll conducted by Chapman University found that Americans' greatest fear — above terrorist attacks, economic collapse, biological warfare, and more — is corrupt government officials.


(Washington Post)

Other top fears include corporate and government tracking of personal information, identity theft, running out of money in the future, and credit card fraud. Plus, nearly one in four Americans reported they've voted for at least one political candidate because they were afraid.

"The 2015 survey data shows us the top fears are heavily based in economic and 'big brother' type issues," said Christopher Bader, who organized the survey. "People often fear what they cannot control, and technology and the future of our economy are two aspects of life that Americans find very unpredictable at the moment." Bonnie Kristian

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