March 12, 2018

Police in Austin, Texas, are investigating three package explosions this month that they believe to be related. Officials said they have identified "similarities" between the incidents, two of which were fatal.

A Monday morning explosion that killed a teenage boy and caused a woman life-threatening injuries was followed just hours later by a second blast, which left a 75-year-old woman in critical condition. On March 2, a man was killed when he picked up a package that exploded.

In a press conference, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said Monday that investigators are treating all three incidents as connected, retroactively upgrading the first incident to be a homicide rather than a suspicious death. The death of the 17-year-old is also being treated as a murder. All of the explosions occurred when residents found packages outside their homes, which Manley says were not delivered by the postal service or companies like UPS or FedEx.

"The evidence makes us believe these incidents are related," he said.

While investigators have not yet determined a motive, officials are looking into the possibility that the blasts were hate crimes, Manley explained. CBS News reports that the victims in the first two incidents were African-American, while the victim in the latest explosion was Hispanic. Summer Meza

February 20, 2018
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A report published Tuesday by UNICEF found that every year, 1 million newborn babies do not live past their first day. The report also found that 2.6 million babies die before they have lived even a month.

More often than not, newborn mortality is greatly determined by where the baby was born. Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF's executive director, said Tuesday that "babies born to the poorest families are more than 40 percent more likely to die in the newborn period than babies in the richest families."

The shame is that most of these deaths are preventable, UNICEF explains. More than 80 percent of the deaths are tied to premature births, "complications during labor and delivery," and inadequate health care to treat said complications. In other words, they are circumstantial deaths, rather than medical issues that doctors could not address.

High-income countries average just three deaths for every 1,000 births, whereas low-income countries report 27 fatalities for every 1,000 births. But economic prosperity is not the only determinant of newborn mortality: UNICEF points out that the U.S. and Kuwait, two wealthy countries, each report four newborn deaths for every 1,000 births, a rate that is comparatively outperformed by "lower-middle income" countries like Sri Lanka and Rwanda, which report five deaths per 1,000 births.

The lesson, UNICEF contends, is that "[investing] in strong health-care systems that prioritize newborns … can make a major difference, even where resources are constrained." Rwanda in particular — a poor country that has recently halved its newborn mortality rate — should "offer hope and lessons for other countries committed to keeping every child alive," the report says.

Read the full report here. Kelly O'Meara Morales

February 15, 2018
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Nikolas Cruz has confessed to killing 17 people Wednesday at a high school in Parkland, Florida, The Associated Press reported Thursday. Cruz reportedly made the confession to investigating authorities after making his first court appearance earlier Thursday.

Cruz's confession was detailed in court documents for a probable cause hearing, The Washington Post said. In them, Cruz is quoted as telling investigators that he "began shooting students that he saw in the hallways and on school grounds" at his former school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

In the documents, Cruz explained that he had extra ammunition concealed in his backpack for his weapon, a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle. He also said that he decided to rid himself of his gun and ammunition vest so that he could leave the school with the hordes of evacuating students and evade detection by authorities.

Cruz was finally captured about a mile away from the school, and is being held without bail on 17 counts of premeditated murder. Kelly O'Meara Morales

February 15, 2018

On Wednesday, a gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 people with a semiautomatic rifle. The suspected shooter is 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who was a former student at the school.

During his time at Douglas, Cruz was reportedly suspended for having bullets in his backpack. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters Wednesday that Cruz was expelled last year for "disciplinary reasons." Teachers at his former high school had reportedly been warned not to let Cruz on campus after his expulsion, and a former classmate told the Miami Herald that "from past experiences, he seemed like the kind of kid who would do something like this."

In recent months, Cruz had been living with the family of a friend from his old high school, after his adoptive mother Lynda passed away in November. His adoptive father, Roger, had died of a heart attack more than 10 years ago, CNN reported. A lawyer for the family that Cruz had been living with told The Washington Post that while Cruz seemed to struggle with depression, he did not exhibit any obvious violent tendencies.

Authorities, however, found two Instagram accounts believed to be Cruz's. Images on the accounts featured knives as well as an array of firearms, which the poster had described in a caption as his "arsenal." Former classmates of Cruz reportedly unfollowed him on Instagram because they were disturbed by the content he posted.

Additionally, a YouTube account posting under the name Nikolas Cruz commented on a video last September, saying, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter." This comment was reported to the FBI by another YouTube user, BuzzFeed News reported, but the investigation apparently fizzled out. Authorities said that Cruz obtained the semiautomatic AR-15 that he reportedly used to carry out the shooting legally, after passing a background check. Kelly O'Meara Morales

February 8, 2018

Arthur Jones is a Nazi, says the Illinois Republican Party. Unfortunately, Jones is also the only Republican running to represent the state's third congressional district.

Because he is essentially guaranteed to be on the ballot this fall, CNN's Alisyn Camerota interviewed Jones on Thursday's New Day. Things quickly turned contentious: After playing a clip of Jones yelling that the "white majority" could no longer tolerate the "two-party, Jew-party, queer-party system," Camerota said, "Mr. Jones, it is shocking to hear how vocally and unapologetically racist you are." She then asked point-blank: "Are you a Nazi?"

Jones insisted it had been "15, 20 years" since he was affiliated with such groups "on a formal basis." "I don't call myself a Nazi," he said. "I call myself an American patriot and statesman."

Camerota calmly read off a list of damning facts in response. "You've been part of anti-Semitic groups since the 1970s, you go to neo-Nazi rallies … you were part of the White People's Party, you dress in Nazi garb, and you celebrate Hitler's birthday." She concluded: "You're a Nazi."

Jones reiterated that he does not belong to any "formal" Nazi-affiliated groups "anymore," before going on to claim that the Holocaust "is nothing but an international extortion racket by the Jews," which the "Israeli lobby" uses to drag the U.S. into wars in the Middle East. Camerota hit back: "Mr. Jones, 6 million Jews were killed. Adolf Hitler perpetrated a genocide. The Auschwitz death camp existed. And the Nuremburg trial happened. Those are the facts." Jones called Camerota's facts "poppycock."

Illinois' third district is deeply Democratic, so it's unlikely Jones will get anywhere near Capitol Hill. Still, watch him espouse his views below, if you can stomach it. Kelly O'Meara Morales

January 18, 2018

For the first time on TV, Dylan Farrow has spoken out about abuse allegations she made against her adoptive father, Woody Allen.

Farrow appeared Thursday on CBS This Morning in her first on-air interview about her allegation that Allen molested her when she was a child. Farrow first revealed the abuse in The New York Times in 2014 after it had been rumored for years. "I want to show my face and tell my story. I want to speak out literally," she told CBS's Gayle King.

Farrow told King that when she was 7 years old, Allen molested her while her mother, Mia Farrow, was out shopping. She described the incident in graphic detail: "He instructed me to lay down on my stomach and play with my brother's toy train that was set up. And he sat behind me in the doorway and as I played with the toy train, I was sexually assaulted." Farrow added, "As a 7-year-old, I would have said he touched my 'private parts,' which I did say. As a 32-year-old: He touched my labia and my vulva with his finger."

King pointed out that Allen has long maintained that Farrow's mother Mia manipulated her into making a false allegation. Farrow shot down the idea, saying, "What I don't understand is how is this crazy story of me being brainwashed and coached more believable than what I'm saying about being sexually assaulted by my father."

Allen has consistently denied Farrow's allegation. He wrote to CBS that the Farrows were "cynically using the opportunity afforded by the Time's Up movement to repeat this discredited allegation." Watch the full interview below. Kelly O'Meara Morales

January 12, 2018

Before interviewing Hillary Clinton in January 2016, MSNBC's Chris Matthews joked about slipping the then-Democratic presidential candidate a date rape drug, The Cut reported Friday.

The Cut obtained background footage of Matthews preparing to interview Clinton on Jan. 5, 2016, inside a fire station in Iowa. The former secretary of state was appearing for a segment on his show, Hardball with Chris Matthews. In the clip, as a staffer pours him water, Matthews asks, "Where's that Bill Cosby pill I brought with me?"

The host then breaks into a satisfied smile as the man sitting across from him shakes his head and laughs. To the far-right of the frame, you can see a female staffer walk away, mouth agape after Matthews' remark.

In response to the story, Matthews told The Cut: "This was a terrible comment I made in poor taste during the height of the Bill Cosby headlines. I realize that's no excuse. I deeply regret it and I'm sorry." In December 2015, disgraced comedian Bill Cosby was charged with sexual assault after being accused of sexually assaulting more than 50 women and using drugs to render his victims unconscious.

Shortly after The Cut's story was published, The Daily Caller's Amber Athey said on Twitter that she'd talked to "six former employees and guests" at the network who said that "these types of comments were par for the course for Matthews." The Cut notes that the Matthews' distasteful joke is part of "a long history of [him] talking disparagingly about Hillary Clinton." Kelly O'Meara Morales

December 29, 2017
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An NBA player has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman and then paying off the alleged victim, TMZ Sports reported Friday.

Avery Bradley, now a guard for the Detroit Pistons, allegedly assaulted a woman in Cleveland earlier this year while playing for the Boston Celtics. On May 23, Bradley's Celtics were in Ohio for a playoff game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and after the game Bradley allegedly assaulted an unnamed woman, whom TMZ Sports described as a "reality star." The alleged victim claims she was too inebriated to consent.

TMZ Sports reported that Bradley and the alleged victim negotiated a civil settlement. Exactly how much Bradley paid the woman is not known, but TMZ Sports claimed that a settlement of as much as $400,000 was at least briefly considered. The settlement included a confidentiality agreement "to protect the reputation and privacy of Mr. Bradley and his family," Bradley's lawyer, Brian Wolf, told ESPN.

Wolf additionally emphasized to TMZ Sports that his client is innocent. "Mr. Bradley absolutely denies having engaged in wrongdoing whatsoever. The confidentiality agreement specifically refutes and denies the validity of all allegations of any wrongful conduct by Mr. Bradley," Wolf said.

The Boston Globe reported that the Celtics were unaware of any accusations against Bradley until TMZ Sports released its report early Friday. The Celtics traded Bradley to the Pistons in July; neither the Pistons nor the NBA have released any public statement on the allegations, ESPN reported. Kelly O'Meara Morales

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