BBC – Italian children have been told not to turn up to school unless they can prove they have been properly vaccinated.
The deadline follows months of national debate over compulsory vaccination.
Parents risk being fined up to €500 (£425; $560) if they send their unvaccinated children to school. Children under six can be turned away.
The new law came amid a surge in measles cases – but Italian officials say vaccination rates have improved since it was introduced.
Under Italy’s so-called Lorenzin law – named after the former health minister who introduced it – children must receive a range of mandatory immunisations before attending school. They include vaccinations for chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella.
Children up to the age of six years will be excluded from nursery and kindergarten without proof of vaccination under the new rules.
Those aged between six and 16 cannot be banned from attending school, but their parents face fines if they do not complete the mandatory course of immunisations.
The deadline for certification was due to be 10 March after a previous delay – but as it fell on a weekend, it was extended to Monday.
The College Fix – San Diego State University is set to host a “Racial Healing Workshop” for minority students and faculty later this month that aims to help students and professors of color get through college and career life.
“This intimate one and a half hour Racial Healing Workshop catered to students and faculty of color will be led by well-known professional Dr. Cheryl E. Matias,” state the student organizers of the event, the Marriage and Family Therapy Association, a recognized student organization under the College of Education.
“She will provide a safe space for students and faculty of color to discuss issues that impact persons of color in higher academia,” the event’s online description states. “Dr. Matias will facilitate group healing and she will provide tools to help POC [people of color] navigate racialized spaces such as higher education and professional fields.”
Ron Paul Institute – The House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would expand the national background check system to require almost everyone selling firearms, including private collectors who supplement their incomes by selling firearms at gun shows, to perform background checks on the potential buyers. The bill has a section purporting to bar creation of a national firearms registry. However, the expanded background check system will require the government to compile lists of those buying and selling guns. In other words, it creates a de facto national gun registry.
Similar to the experience with other types of prohibition, making it more difficult to legally buy a gun will enhance the firearms black market. Criminals, terrorist, and even deranged mass shooters will thus have no problem obtaining firearms.
It is no coincidence that the majority of mass shootings take place in “gun-free zones,” where shooters know their targets will be unarmed. This shows that any law making it more difficult for Americans to own and carry firearms makes us less safe. If Congress really wanted to reduce the incidence of gun violence, it would repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act. This law leaves children easy prey for mass shooters by mandating that public schools be “gun-free zones.”
A nationwide system of gun registration could be a step toward national gun confiscation. However, antigun bureaucrats need not go that far to use the expanded background check system to abuse the rights of gun owners. Gun owners could find themselves subject to surveillance and even harassment, such as more intensive screening by the Transportation Security Administration, because they own “too many” firearms.
Neoconservative Senator Marco Rubio has introduced legislation that uses tax dollars to bribe states to adopt red flag laws. Red flag laws allow government to violate an individual’s Second Amendment rights based on nothing more than a report that the individual could become violent. Red flag laws can allow an individual’s guns to be taken away without due process simply because an estranged spouse, angry neighbor, or disgruntled coworker tells police the individual threatened him or otherwise made him feel unsafe.
President Trump has joined Rubio in wanting the government to, in Trump’s words, “take the guns first, go through due process second.” During his confirmation hearing, President Trump’s new Attorney General William Barr expressed support for red flag laws. California Senator and leading gun control advocate Dianne Feinstein has expressed interest in working with Barr to deprive gun owners of due process. It would not be surprising to see left-wing authoritarians like Feinstein work with right-wing authoritarians like Barr and Rubio on “compromise” legislation containing both a national red flag law and expanded background checks.
CBS – A representative in the Georgia Statehouse is drafting a rather blunt response to legislation that would dictate when a woman could get an abortion. It’s called the “Testicular Bill of Rights,” and state Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick said her legislative package is all about turning the tables on her male counterparts seeking to impose laws on a woman’s reproductive rights.
The move comes after a Georgia House committee approved legislation last week to outlaw abortion after a fetus’ heartbeat can be detected, which is before many women know they are pregnant. Women in Georgia can currently seek an abortion within the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy. A heartbeat is generally detectable by medical professionals at around six weeks.
“HB-481 [The ‘Heartbeat Bill’] inspired me to see what the reaction would be from some males and male legislators if the tables were turned and we started to talk about their reproductive rights and organs,” Kendrick told CBS News on Tuesday.
Washington Times – House Democrats upped their ante on illegal immigration Tuesday, announcing new legislation that would not only grant legal status to potentially millions of illegal immigrant “Dreamers,” but adds hundreds of thousands of more migrants to the mix.
Dreamers would be eligible for in-state college tuition and taxpayer-backed financial aid, would get new protections against swift deportation, and would have a “direct” pathway to citizenship.
Washington Free Beacon – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a far-left nonprofit known for its “hate group” designations, has surpassed a half billion dollars in total assets and now has $121 million parked offshore, according to the group’s most recent financial statements.
The SPLC, which is based in Montgomery, Ala., has not publicly posted its most recent financial statements on its website. However, the organization applied for renewal in the state of California days ago and submitted a number of documents pertaining to its financial standing including its most recent audited statement and tax forms for calendar year 2018, which covers Nov. 1, 2017 to Oct. 31, 2018.
According to the filings submitted to California’s Office of Attorney General, the group reported total assets of $518 million from November 2017 to the Oct. 31, 2018, an increase of $41 million from the $477 million in total assets it reported on its previous year’s tax forms.
The SPLC’s assets increased despite its total revenue falling by $15 million last year. The SPLC hauled in $136 million in total revenue throughout 2017. This number fell to $121 million in 2018. Its contributions and grants also fell by more than $20 million from 2017 to 2018, from $132 million to $111 million.
Despite the fall in revenue, the SPLC’s vast investment portfolio expanded in 2018, which included a drastic increase in the amount of money it has parked overseas. By the end of 2018, its non-U.S. equity funds rose to $121 million, an uptick of nearly $30 million from the $92 million it had parked in offshore investments throughout 2017.
RT – US diplomats are undermining Venezuelan peace and stability, the nation’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said, setting a deadline for them to vacate the embassy in Caracas. Washington vowed to hurry the evacuation of its mission.
RT – Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 is under investigation after two deadly accidents in less than five months. The US firm’s reputation and billions of dollars are at stake depending on the results of the probe into the cause of the crashes.
Yahoo – Pest control experts warned of a ‘plague’ of super rats immune from poison invading homes – and a distraught mum says attempts to kill the rodents have been fruitless.
Edinburgh is said to be the worst place in Scotland for rodents, with the blame being placed on ‘lazy’ neighbours who do not dispose of waste properly in shared areas.
Pest control firm Wee Critters Pest Control estimated that there was a 20 per cent increase in call-outs year on year, while owner Sylvia Hill said ‘amateur’ poisons bought by concerned residents would barely make a difference to the problem.
Mum-of-three Laura McQueenie, 27, has said problems with rats at the council flat in Niddrie, Edinburgh, where she lives with her sons and young niece, have been persistent.
She said the living conditions were “disgraceful” and “horrific”, and blamed bins, describing them as a health hazard.
After the birth of her youngest son, seven months ago, the social work student began to realise the scale of the problem.
Laura said: “Two rats have died in my kitchen sink and there are many more we have seen.
“Every evening I hoover and sanitise all surfaces before bed.”
Pest control boss Sylvia said she believes rodents are ‘clever’ enough to avoid eating certain kinds of poison.
She said: “I don’t think people realise that mice are very clever to the point that they go above and beyond to avoid the amateur poison.
“The rats are just a major issue in Edinburgh at the moment.”
She believes the Gorgie area of Edinburgh could be ‘the worst in Scotland’ for rat infestations – and described the problem as a ‘plague’.
U.S. News, Politics & Government
Washington Times – ICE officers who endorsed President Trump in 2016 now say he has failed to follow through on his get-tough promises, saying catch-and-release of immigrants living illegally in the U.S. is not only still happening, but has gone into “overdrive.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers say they’re being roped into such mundane tasks as opening the doors on vans to release immigrants already caught by Border Patrol agents. That’s dragging the officers from their usual duties of nabbing fugitives, or scouring local prisons and jails for immigrant criminals who lived illegally in the U.S. ready to be deported.
The shell game is all the more “ridiculous,” the officers said, because Border Patrol agents could fill out paperwork and open the doors themselves, but the agency’s leaders don’t want to be part of catch-and-release.
“Hundreds of man hours are wasted each day at a time of crisis on the border,” the leaders of the National ICE Council, the union that represents ICE officers, said in a letter sent directly to Mr. Trump on Monday.
The letter was sent just hours before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted to approve Mr. Trump’s pick, Ronald D. Vitiello, to be the new director of ICE.
Palm Beach Post – The far-right commentator, also a part-time Palm Beach resident, was a Trump supporter in 2016 because of his hard-line stance on immigration, but she’s recently accused him of failing to back up his rhetoric.
Aside from the 600 or so people who came to hear her speak at the Kravis Center on Monday, conservative flamethrower Ann Coulter says it’s hard to find people she can talk to now that she’s directed her scorching criticism on President Donald Trump and his failure to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
“It’s frustrating,” Palm Beach resident Coulter said at a Forum Club of the Palm Beaches luncheon. “I can’t talk to Trump detractors because, as the subtitle to my last book indicated, they’re insane. I can’t talk to the Trump flatterers because they think as soon as it comes out of his mouth, it has happened. No, he’s an excellent talker. It’s just when it comes to doing anything that he falls down on the job.”
“Trump may be a shallow, narcissistic conman, but that doesn’t mean the media are not the enemy of the people. Both things can be true,” said Coulter. She later said the one positive of Trump’s presidency could be the “total destruction of the lying media.”
The Hill – Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Monday rejected what he called a culture of outrage from both Democrats and Republicans amid the fallout from recently resurfaced offensive comments he made about women and minorities years ago.
Carlson delivered a roughly seven-minute opening monologue on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” peppered with graphics that read “The Mob,” “Crackdown on Dissent” and “Liberal Hypocrisy.” While he did not reference any of his specific controversial comments, he doubled down on his initial refusal to apologize for them.
“Fox News is behind us, as they have been since the very first day,” Carlson said. “Toughness is a rare quality in a TV network, and we’re grateful for that.”
“We’ve always apologized when we’re wrong, and we’ll continue to do that,” he added. “That’s what decent people do. They apologize. But we will never bow to the mob, ever, no matter what.”
Carlson made a series of indirect references to the backlash his comments generated after the first batch was resurfaced Sunday by the left-leaning Media Matters. The Fox News host described the cycle of the “great American outrage machine,” in which he said one comes under questioning from reporters, is forced to apologize and still faces criticism.
“But what if we stopped pretending for a minute?” Carlson asked. “What if we acknowledged what’s actually going on?”
Carlson described Democrats as “deadly serious” in their effort to “crush” those who oppose their ideology.
WSJ – The Navy and its industry partners are “under cyber siege” by Chinese hackers and others who have stolen tranches of national security secrets in recent years, exploiting critical weaknesses that threaten the U.S.’s standing as the world’s top military power, an internal Navy review has concluded.
The Hill – A bill recently introduced in California’s legislature would seal millions of criminal convictions, a move that could help low-level offenders find work, housing and education.
The legislation was introduced by Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco, and it is also being pushed by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.
The bill would require the state to clear misdemeanor convictions and records of other low-level offenders once they complete their jail sentences. The law would not apply to those convicted of crimes such as murder and rape, according to The New York Times.
The legislation would make California the first state to automatically seal such convictions, and it could affect 8 million individuals.
Gascón said at a recent press conference that criminal records would still be available to law enforcement, but not to the rest of the public.
“It really impacts the ability for the general public to get this information. … Landlords, employers, schools,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “It still allows law enforcement to have this information in case they re-offend.”
Under the legislation, California’s Department of Justice would be required to make a database of the millions of cases that are eligible to be cleared, according to the AP. The department would then need to send those cases to local courts throughout the state.
Ting told the AP that there has been a focus in San Francisco on the “rehabilitation” of low-level criminal offenders and that this bill would help give those people a “fresh start.”
“Rehabilitation begins with a fresh start,” he added. “You can’t get a fresh start with something still on your record.”
NBC – Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman are among 50 people charged in a $25 million college entrance exam cheating scheme, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.
The alleged scam focused on getting students admitted to elite universities as recruited athletes, regardless of their athletic abilities, and helping potential students cheat on their college exams, according to the indictment unsealed in Boston.
Authorities said the FBI investigation, code-named Operation Varsity Blues, uncovered a network of wealthy parents who paid thousands of dollars to a California man who boosted their childrens’ chances of gaining entrance into elite colleges, such as Yale and Stanford, by paying people to take tests for their children, bribing test administrators to allow it to happen, and bribing college coaches and administrators to identify the applicants as athletes.
“This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth, combined with fraud,” said U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling.
“There can be no separate college admission for wealthy, and I will add there will not be a separate criminal justice system either.”
The plot involved students who attended or were seeking to attend Georgetown University, Stanford University, Yale, UCLA, the University of San Diego, USC, the University of Texas and Wake Forest, according to federal prosecutors.
Of the 50 people charged thus far, 33 were parents and nine were college coaches. The others were a mix of test administrators and the scheme’s main figures, authorities said.
“We believe everyone charged here today had a role in fostering a culture of corruption and greed that created an uneven playing field for students trying to get into these schools the right way through hard work, good grades and community service,” said Bonavolonta.
Prosecutors said the scam was masterminded by William Rick Singer, the founder of a for-profit college preparation business based in Newport Beach, California.
Parents paid Singer between $15,000 and $75,000 per test for someone else to take the SAT or ACT exams in place of their college-aged sons or daughters, according to the court papers.
Singer facilitated the cheating by advising students to seek “extended time on the exams, including by having their children purport to have learning disabilities in order to obtain medical documentation that ACT,” the indictment says.
Prosecutors said Singer used the cash to bribe two people who administered the exams — Igor Dvorsiky, of Los Angeles, and Lisa “Niki” Williams, of Houston.
Dvorsiky and Williams, in exchange for receiving the payments, allowed Mark Riddell, a Florida man hired by Singer, to secretly take the tests or to replace the children’s answers with his own, according to the indictment.
Riddell was paid roughly $10,000 per test, money that was often funneled through a charity account set up by Singer, the indictment says.
From 2011 to last month, parents paid Singer roughly $25 million to bribe coaches and university administrators to “designate their children as recruited athletes, or other favored admissions categories,” according to the court papers.
CBS – Feeding animals in city parks could soon be outlawed.
That means feeding birds and squirrels – which many people love to do – could mean fines or even jail time and that’s sparking a heated debate across the five boroughs.
Soon, doing this at any park property could land Maria a $50 fine. In extreme cases, possibly even a night in jail.
It is currently illegal to feed any wildlife except for squirrels and birds such as pigeons, but the parks department is proposing the rule be changed to ban feeding all animals. This would legally constitute “an abuse of park animals.”
“This is their home. How can we deny them food? That’s cruel,” Roxanne Delgado of Bronx Animal Rights Electors said.
Energy & Environment
Seattle Times – Farmers in the Yakima Valley are still assessing the damage after a snow- and windstorm a month ago left 1,850 dairy cows dead in the span of a few hours. Hundreds more cows suffered frostbite, threatening their milk production and health.
Science & Technology
The Japan News – New findings indicate that the resurrection of mammoths is not a fantasy, a research team including members from Kindai University is saying, after cell nuclei extracted from the 28,000-year-old remains of a woolly mammoth were discovered to retain some function.
When placed in the ova of mice, the nuclei developed to a state just before cellular division, according to a paper published Monday in the British journal Scientific Reports.
The team includes researchers from Japanese and Russian universities. It has been working for about 20 years on a project to use cloning to resurrect mammoths, an animal that has long been extinct.
The cell nuclei used in the team’s recent findings were extracted from musculature and other tissue from Yuka, an about 3.5-meter-long female woolly mammoth excavated nearly intact in 2010 from permafrost in Siberia. When inserted into mouse ova, five out of 43 nuclei were observed to develop to a point just before the nuclei would split in two as a result of cell division.
Cell nuclei contain DNA, the so-called blueprint for life, and mouse ova have been confirmed in experiments to have a reparative function for DNA. It is said to be possible that the mammoth’s DNA, damaged as a result of being frozen for a long time, was repaired and its biological functions invigorated.
However, the predivision development stopped before completion in all the ova.
“Yuka’s cell nuclei were more damaged than we thought, and it would be difficult to resurrect a mammoth as things stand,” said team member Kei Miyamoto, a lecturer in developmental biology at Kindai University. “There’s a chance, if we can obtain better-preserved nuclei.”
Teruhiko Wakayama, a professor in reproductive biology at the University of Yamanashi’s Advanced Biotechnology Center, said: “This can be praised as a first step in research toward the dream of resurrecting extinct ancient animals. I hope they can determine to what extent the DNA was repaired and how much activity there was.
Bakersfield.com – Marine biologist Jacqueline Sones was strolling along a beach near this Northern California fishing village one foggy summer morning when she spotted an unfamiliar jellyfish bobbing in the surf.
Her curiosity turned to shock, however, when she opened a field guide and identified the creature with a white bowl-shaped bell, vivid stripes and long tentacles.
“I’d discovered something unprecedented,” Sones recalled Monday. “It was a purple-striped jellyfish.”
While the impressively hued Chrysaora colorata is no stranger to Southern California, or Monterey Bay for that matter, it had never been recorded venturing this far north, according to the researcher.
And that translucent visitor was just the first of dozens of nonnative species that started popping up here between 2014 and 2016, when an unusually intense and lengthy marine heat wave hugged California’s coast. Other marine immigrants included snails, dolphins, birds, crabs, fish, sea turtles and multicolored slugs that typically inhabited warmer waters off the Baja California Peninsula.
Sones, a research coordinator at the University of California, Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, and Eric Sanford, a professor of evolution and ecology at the lab, documented a total of 67 rare warm-water species.
Of those, 37 had never been documented this far north. Among those species never before seen here were Venus’ girdle ctenophores, or comb jellies; striated sea butterflies; rabbit dorid nudibranchs; pink-striped barnacles; scarlet sea cucumbers; Pacific sea eels; bottlenose dolphins; and spiny lobsters.
In a study published Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers at UC Davis, the Farallon Institute and the Marine Science Institute at UC Santa Barbara suggest that the migrant species were drawn north by rising sea surface temperatures and changing currents during the marine heat wave — also known as the warm-water blob.
Fast Company – Offices and tiny apartments could be transformed by the work of Boston University researchers, who recently unveiled an “acoustic metamaterial” that blocks all sound.
A team of Boston University researchers recently stuck a loudspeaker into one end of a PVC pipe. They cranked it up loud. What did they hear? Nothing.
How was this possible? Did they block the other end of the pipe with noise canceling foams or a chunk of concrete? No, nothing of the sort. The pipe was actually left open save for a small, 3D-printed ring placed around the rim. That ring cut 94% of the sound blasting from the speaker, enough to make it inaudible to the human ear.
Dubbed an “acoustic meta-material,” the ring was printed from a mathematically modeled design, shaped in such a way that it can catch certain frequencies passing through the air and reflect them back toward their source. Typical acoustic paneling works differently, absorbing sound and turning the vibrations into heat. But what’s particularly trippy is that this muffler is completely open. Air and light can travel through it–just sound cannot.
Study Finds – Your eyes may be the window to your soul, but thanks to new research, they may also be the key to detecting Alzheimer’s disease early on. Researchers at the Duke Eye Center say a simple eye scan may reveal activity in the brain associated with the debilitating condition.
Eye doctors may not only be fitting patients with glasses or contacts in the future, but they could also be routinely checking people for Alzheimer’s. The research team found that blood vessel activity in the eyes of Alzheimer’s patients is notably different from that within healthy individuals.
“We know that there are changes that occur in the brain in the small blood vessels in people with Alzheimer’s disease, and because the retina is an extension of the brain, we wanted to investigate whether these changes could be detected in the retina using a new technology that is less invasive and easy to obtain,” says lead author Dr. Dilraj S. Grewal, M.D., an ophthalmologist and retinal surgeon at Duke, in a media release.
In healthy people, blood vessels form a dense web inside the retina, researchers say, but in patients with Alzheimer’s, that web is notably weaker. Using a noninvasive technology called optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA), the authors were able to spot these differences when looking at the eyes of 133 healthy people, compared to 39 people with Alzheimer’s and 37 people with mild cognitive impairment. The OCTA eye scan allows doctors to take high-resolution images of the retina in just a few minutes and see blood vessel activity.
Changes in the blood vessel density in the retina could indicate similar activity within the brain that occurs in people with Alzheimer’s. But these changes may occur before symptoms become noticeable, such as changes in memory. That’s why the authors believe this eye scan could be groundbreaking.
Natural Health News – Antioxidants commonly found in blueberries can help improve blood vessel function and a decrease in systolic blood pressure in healthy people, according to a new UK data.
Researchers from King’s College London studied 40 healthy volunteers for one month. They were randomly given either a drink containing 200g of blueberries, or a matched control drink daily.
The team monitored chemicals in volunteers’ blood and urine as well as their blood pressure and flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the brachial artery.
FMD is a measure of how the artery widens when blood flow increases, which is considered a sensitive biomarker of cardiovascular disease risk.
In a further study, researchers compared the effects of a blueberry drink with those of drink containing purified anthocyanins, the phytochemical responsible for the blue, red, pink and purple colour of some fruits and vegetables such as berries and red grapes. They also compared this with control drinks containing either similar levels of fibre, mineral or vitamins found in blueberries.
Results showed that:
Lead researcher Dr Ana Rodriguez-Mateos from the Department of Nutritional Sciences at King’s said: “Although it is best to eat the whole blueberry to get the full benefit, our study finds that the majority of the effects can be explained by anthocyanins.
“If the changes we saw in blood vessel function after eating blueberries every day could be sustained for a person’s whole life, it could reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease by up to 20%.”
Natural Health News – Getting more B-group vitamin could have a beneficial effect on brain health and disease prevention, according to Australian researchers.
A diet rich in B vitamins is recommended to maintain optimal health of body and mind. Insufficient intake, on the other hand, has been linked with elevated levels of oxidative stress and neural inflammation, as indicated by abnormally high blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine.
At the same time, the effect of increased oxidative stress in the brain is not well studied, thus researchers at Swinburne University and Austin Hospital in Melbourne (backed by supplement manufacturers Blackmores) conducted a small randomised controlled trial to assess the direct impact of six months of high-dose B vitamin supplementation on brain health and levels of homocysteine and other biomarkers in the brain.
They recruited 32 healthy adults (12 male, 20 female) between the ages of 30 and 65, who were given either Blackmores’ Executive B Stress Formula tablets, or placebo that contained a small amount of glucose and riboflavin (2mg of B2).
The findings were published in the journal Nutrients.