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A new ruling from a federal judge puts convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein back in the headlines; Japan reports an outbreak of measles.
Judge rules prosecutors made illegal deal in Epstein case
- Alexander Acosta, a former US attorney for Miami and the current secretary of labor, was among a team of prosecutors who broke the law by concealing a nonprosecution agreement from more than 30 victims of hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein, who was convicted of sexual abuse of underage girls in 2007, a federal judge ruled Thursday. [Vox / Jane Coaston and Anna North]
- Epstein’s trial came into question after a report by the Miami Herald last year exposed the deal for Epstein, who allegedly sexually abused hundreds of girls between 2001 and 2006. Prosecutors reportedly concealed the deal from Epstein’s victims and allowed Epstein to plead guilty in a lower court, where he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He stayed in prison for only 13 months. [Miami Herald / Julie K. Brown]
- Two of Epstein’s victims then sued in 2008. The judge’s ruling Thursday gives prosecutors 15 days to work with the victims to reach a settlement. The White House responded with a promise to explore Acosta’s deal for Epstein and his withholding the arrangement from the victims. Acosta reportedly also gave leniency to Epstein’s lawyers. [The Hill / Rachel Frazin]
- ”My understanding is that’s a very complicated case … but that they made the best possible decision and deal they could have gotten at that time,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday. President Trump (whom Epstein at one time counted among his powerful friends) said that Acosta had done a “fantastic” job as labor secretary and that the plea agreement “seems like a long time ago.” [Politico / Rebecca Morin]
- Acosta’s ruling helped Epstein avoid life in federal prison, the usual punishment under Florida’s extremely strict sex offender laws. A 53-page indictment in 2007 alleged that the billionaire recruited girls from middle and high schools, whom he paid to perform sexual acts and to bring more victims to him or others. [Miami Herald / Julie K. Brown]
- US District Court Judge Kenneth Mara ruled that Acosta’s concealment of the deal violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. A group of Epstein’s high-profile connections reportedly met in 2007 to discuss how to keep Epstein’s victims from knowing about the deal. [BuzzFeed News / Claudia Koerner]
Symptoms: runny nose, cough, fever, and red or pink eyes
- 167 cases of measles had been reported in Japan by February 10, marking the highest number of cases of the contagious airborne disease in the country in more than a decade. Japan’s government recommended a new measles shot for children in 2006, after an initial vaccine was discontinued in the 1990s. [NYT / Austin Ramzy and Hisako Ueno]
- Japan’s outbreak is mostly centered on an anti-vax religious organization called Kyusei Shinkyo in the Mie Prefecture. The group released a statement in January admitting its responsibility for the 49-person outbreak in Mie after guests at one of its workshops became ill and spread the disease. [Quartz / Isabella Steger]
- Japan’s second-largest outbreak affected customers of a skyscraper shopping complex in the Osaka Prefecture, where 47 people have become infected since a Valentine’s Day fair. Many of the measles patients in Japan also recently returned from foreign travel. Other Asian countries like the Philippines are currently dealing with thousands of measles cases. [UPI / Darryl Coote]
- So-called moral exemptions of vaccines have contributed to the global increase in measles cases. In the US, 120 people have been infected since the start of January. The virus was actually declared eliminated in the US by 2000, but loose state policies on vaccines have made it easy for parents to bypass requirements for children. [Vox / Julia Belluz]
- This situation is completely preventable — if enough people get vaccinated. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency about a month ago over measles cases. Most infections were in unvaccinated children under the age of 10, who could suffer other physical effects because of the virus. [NPR / Jonathan Lambert]
- The House will vote Tuesday on whether to block President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to bypass Congress and get funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border. [Politico / Sarah Ferris]
- The US has $22 trillion in public debt, but the dollar has held steady despite President Trump’s trade provocations and chaotic foreign policy. International reserves held in dollars have remained relatively constant from 2008 to 2018. [NYT / Peter S. Goodman]
- Planned Parenthood could lose $60 million per year due to a new Trump administration rule that bars groups that provide abortions from receiving money. The $286 million government family planning program will be changed so that clinics cannot refer a patient for an abortion. [Washington Post / Ariana Eunjung Cha]
- Millions of people give apps personal information about everything from weight loss goals to menstrual cycles. What they might not know is that most of this intel is given to Facebook, which collects data from apps even if they aren’t connected to the tech giant. [WSJ / Sam Schechner]
- On Friday, Florida police charged New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft with soliciting prostitution. More than two dozen people including Kraft have been charged in a state investigation into human trafficking. [CNBC / Dan Mangan]
- Winter tick infestations are on the rise across North America due to climate change, threatening moose and cow populations, but researchers have found that more moose also mean more ticks. The struggle is finding a balance between animal density and tick density that won’t threaten these species. [Atlantic / David Dobbs]
“I wanted to show that Israel — this little country with a population of about 6 or 8 million people — could actually do a job that was only done by three major powers in the world: Russia, China, and the United States.” [Morris Kahn, founder of SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit that orchestrated SpaceX’s mission to the moon]
Watch this: Where the @#$(! did these come from?
How these @*#%!$ things became a symbol for cursing. [YouTube / Phil Edwards]