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March 26, 2018
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The FBI is investigating several suspicious packages that were delivered to military and intelligence locations in the Washington, D.C., area, U.S. officials told CNN on Monday.

One official said more than 10 devices, all crude and involving black powder, arrived in packages at Fort McNair, Fort Belvoir, and the CIA. Had any of the packages exploded, the official added, they would not have been able to cause any fatalities. At least one package was sent to the National Defense University at Fort McNair, CNN reports, arriving in the morning. The package went through a scanning machine, and as soon as it was discovered to contain explosive material, the building was evacuated. No one was injured.

All of the suspicious packages are now being examined at the FBI's lab in Quantico, Virginia. Catherine Garcia

March 8, 2018
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Police in Britain announced Thursday that 19 people who may have been exposed to the nerve agent used in an attack against a former Russian spy and his daughter have received medical treatment.

On Sunday, Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench near a mall in Salisbury. Kier Pritchard, the acting Wiltshire police chief, said one officer who went to help the victims, Sgt. Nick Bailey, is sick in the hospital, but is slowly making some progress. "Of course he's very anxious, very concerned," he told reporters. He said that other people who were at the scene have had blood tests and gone to the hospital, but would not say if they were police officers, medical workers, or bystanders, NBC News reports.

Both Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal remain in the hospital in critical condition, and authorities said they view their case as an attempted murder. Skripal was convicted in 2006 of spying for Britain, and was sentenced to 13 years in prison, but was freed in 2010 as part of a U.S.-Russia spy swap. Catherine Garcia

March 1, 2018
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Russia has successfully developed a new range of nuclear weapons that are unparalleled in the West and are effectively impossible for America to intercept, Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted Thursday, as reported by The Associated Press. "I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country's development: All what you wanted to impede with your policies have already happened," Putin said. "You have failed to contain Russia."

Russia's new weapons include "a nuclear-powered cruise missile, a nuclear-powered underwater drone, and new hypersonic missile that have no equivalent elsewhere in the world," AP writes.

Putin cited the 2002 decision by the U.S. to withdraw from the Cold War-era Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, as well as American efforts to subsequently develop missile defense systems, for fueling Moscow's determination to create weapons that can get around the protections. "The Obama administration [had] continued to develop and deploy anti-missile defenses, both in the United States and in Europe, resurrecting in Russia Cold War-era concerns that the Americans would leverage this new ABM capability to subject Russia to nuclear blackmail, threatening a nuclear strike for which Russia would have no response," Newsweek explains.

President Trump has aggressively pushed for rebuilding the U.S. nuclear arsenal, including a line about modernizing the Cold War technology in his own State of the Union address. Critics have slammed his plans, saying they would provoke an international arms race.

Putin, though, noted that the weapons Russia has developed are unrivaled and while they "may appear [elsewhere] someday … by that time we will develop something new."

The Russian president added: "No one has listened to us. You listen to us now." Jeva Lange

February 1, 2018
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A new report by the Anti-Defamation League found that in 2017, incidents of white supremacists putting up posters, banners, and other messages on college campuses rose 258 percent.

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement that white supremacist groups see campuses "as a fertile recruitment ground" and have been targeting colleges "like never before." The ADL compared incidents reported from Sept. 1 to Dec. 30, 2016, and Sept. 1 to Dec. 30, 2017, and found there was a jump from 41 incidents in 2016 to 147 in 2017. Texas had the most incidents: 61.

These white supremacist groups want a reaction and "troll campuses," Oren Segal, director of the ADL's Center on Extremism, told BuzzFeed News. They also hope that by focusing "on the 'threat' of multiculturalism, diversity, and liberalism ... some students who feel that that atmosphere on campus is too much for them will view white supremacist groups as an alternative."

Most of the messages talked of "protecting" and "saving" white people, and at schools like Middle Tennessee State University, they have been found pasted on top of posters advertising Black History Month events. "While campuses must respect and protect free speech, administrators must also address the need to counter hate groups' messages and show these bigoted beliefs belong in the darkest shadows, not in our bright halls of learning," Greenblatt said. Catherine Garcia

January 24, 2018
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On Tuesday, officials in Cape Town, South Africa, moved up their estimate for a water shortage "day zero" by nine days, leaving just 80 to go until residents could lose piped water to their homes due to critically low levels in the city's reservoirs, The Guardian reports. β€œIt is still possible to push back day zero if we all stand together now and change our current path," urged Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson.

The situation is even more dire in other parts of the country, where the town of Patensie has just 25 percent of their water quota left for the year, and Hankey just 9 percent; both are estimated to have their day zero on March 8, SABC TV reporter Jayed- Leigh Paulse said.

The situation in Cape Town, though, is particularly startling; if it actually reaches day zero, it will be "the first major city in the developed world to run out of water," NPR writes. Hitting day zero would mean residents could no longer get water to their homes and would be required to queue at standpipes across the city to get a ration of just 6.6 gallons a day, The Guardian reports.

A long drought as well as a booming population and poor city planning have exacerbated the situation. "This is not a one-off," said World Wildlife Fund freshwater expert Christine Colvin. "We need to use this now to reboot our entire system to be prepared for it in the future."

As things stand now, Cape Town's nearly 4 million residents are restricted to a daily limit of 87 liters, or about 23 gallons. As of Feb. 1, that consumption will drop even more, to just 13.2 gallons a day, NPR reports. "For people that are used to the luxury that Cape Town promises, this has come across as a rather drastic measure," said BBC correspondent Pumza Fihlani. Jeva Lange

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 β€” a melanoma survivor β€” 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

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