TIME Infectious Disease

CDC Confirms First Case of Ebola Diagnosed in the U.S.

Outbreak has claimed more than 3,000 lives in Africa

Health officials confirmed Tuesday that a patient in Dallas has Ebola, marking the first such diagnosis of the deadly disease ever to occur on U.S. soil.

Until now, the only cases of Ebola in the U.S. have been Americans who were infected abroad and were brought back for treatment. The death toll from the worst Ebola outbreak ever, which has hit several countries in West Africa, surpassed 3,000 last week.

The patient, who has not been identified, had traveled to the U.S. from Liberia, leaving Liberia on Sept. 19 and arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 20. The patient had no symptoms when departing Liberia or when first landing in the U.S., but began developing symptoms for the deadly virus four days after arrival. On Sept. 28, the patient was placed in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. The patient’s specimens tested positive for Ebola on Tuesday afternoon.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr. Tom Frieden said that the medical team’s priorities are to care for the patient, as well as to track down everyone the patient came in contact with while the patient was infectious. A patient with Ebola is only contagious once an infected person starts presenting symptoms. The CDC and Dallas Health and Human Services will identify all the contacts and monitor them for 21 days, which is the incubation period for the disease. If any of the contacts comes down with a fever, they will be isolated and cared for. The CDC says it has just started the contact tracing.

Frieden acknowledged that it’s possible someone with close contact with the patient could come down with the disease, but is confident the U.S. healthcare system can handle that possibility. “The bottom-line here is I have no doubt that we will control this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely,” said Frieden during a news conference.

The CDC said that they do not know how the individual was infected, but the patient must have had close contact with someone infected with the disease. The CDC is sending disease specialists to Texas. The CDC has long acknowledged that it’s possible for Ebola to reach the U.S., though concern for widespread infections is low given the quality of U.S. health care. “As long as the outbreak continues in Africa, we need to be on-guard,” Frieden said.

TIME voting rights

Voting Rights Battles Heat Up Ahead of Midterm Elections

Voting booths in polling place
Getty Images

After Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Texas may send voting rights cases to the Supreme Court

Updated: September 30, 2014

Voting rights advocacy groups and Ohio state officials submitted dueling briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court Saturday and Sunday in a fight over early voting in the state.

On Sept. 24, the U.S. Appeals court for the Sixth Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision to block Ohio’s new election rules, which would cut back early voting from 35 to 28 days before the election and limit early voting on weekends. The courts found that Ohio’s new laws if enacted would violate the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Ohio officials have asked Justice Elena Kagan to overrule the state courts and prevent voting from starting Sept. 30. She could hand down a decision as early as today.

Ohio is just the latest flashpoint as early voting fights are heating up around the country ahead of midterms. Democrats seek to mobilize lower-income voters who are less likely to turn out for general elections if they have to take time off of work to vote on a Tuesday. Republicans object, claiming the risk of voter fraud and other concerns require tighter voting restrictions.

Here are the three other voting rights laws cases that could work their way up to the Supreme Court before the midterms:

Wisconsin- On September 12, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals put into effect a law requiring most voters to present photo identification at the polls. Proponents of the law say it will discourage voter fraud, while critics say it will deter minorities from voting. On Friday, the entire Seventh Circuit split 5-5 on whether to hear the case, which may send it to the Supreme Court.

North Carolina – North Carolina’s 2013 state voting law, which eliminates same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting and shortens the early voting window by ten days, will be in place for the first time this year in a statewide election. A panel of three judges heard oral arguments about the law on Sept. 25, with one judge pointedly asking, “Why does the state of North Carolina not want people to vote?” The case will likely end up at the Supreme Court, especially if the Fourth Circuit rules against the law.

Texas – Last week, trial ended in a challenge to Texas’s voter identification law requiring voters to display government-issued forms of identification. Under the stringent law, a concealed-carry permit is a valid form of identification, but a student ID is not. The judge is expected to rule soon on whether the law violates the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act, and if the decision comes out against the law, the state could appeal to take the case to the Supreme Court.

Update: The Supreme Court on September 29th blocked early voting in Ohio. The order will stand until the Court acts on an appeal by state officials.

TIME Infectious Disease

More Than 700 Babies Exposed to Tuberculosis at Texas Hospital

The Texas Department of State Health Services said it's "one of the largest TB exposure investigations we've ever been involved in"

More than 700 babies and 40 health workers have been exposed to tuberculosis in an El Paso, Texas, hospital, the city’s Department of Public Health announced.

At some point between September 2013 and August 2014, a Providence Memorial Hospital employee with TB, as the disease is commonly known, entered the hospital and worked in close proximity with infants, CNN reported Monday.

It is unknown whether any of those exposed have subsequently tested positive for tuberculosis, which can be fatal. The hospital and the health department promised free care for anyone infected and said they have alerted each person at risk by phone call and letter.

“This is one of the largest TB exposure investigations we’ve ever been involved in, and it involves infants, so it is particularly sensitive,” Carrie Williams, the director of media relations for the Texas Department of State Health Services, told CNN. “Babies are more likely than older children and adults to develop life-threatening forms of TB.”

The department investigated last week and reported that the hospital’s infection-management standards were lacking. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services gave the hospital an Oct. 11 deadline to identify changes in protocol to prevent similar exposures in the future — otherwise it will cut off Medicare and Medicaid funding.

Active cases of TB can spread through the air when an infected person coughs and sneezes. Typically treatment requires months of antibiotics, although an infection can stay dormant in patients and not show symptoms, which include breathing difficulties and chest pains.

The employee who was initially infected is no longer working at the hospital but is reportedly receiving treatment.

[CNN]

TIME States

A Quarter of Americans Want to Secede From the U.S.

Pins in a United States map show where students have come from to take classes at Oaksterdam University, the nation's first marijuana trade school, on Sept. 23, 2010 in Oakland.
Pins in a United States map show where students have come from to take classes at Oaksterdam University, the nation's first marijuana trade school, on Sept. 23, 2010 in Oakland. Tony Avelar—The Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images

Which is extremely unlikely

The Scottish referendum on secession from the United Kingdom may have failed to pass, but it succeeded in stirring secessionist sentiment in that country and beyond—specifically, in the United States.

Nearly a quarter of Americans, 23.9%, said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state leaving the United States and forming its own country, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken between August 23 and September 16 released Friday.

Support for secession was weakest in the northeast and strongest in the southwest. It cut across party lines, though Republicans (29.7%) are somewhat more keen on the idea than Democrats (21%). A majority, 53.3%, said they strongly opposed or tended to oppose the idea.

Even in states with the with the highest level of support for seceding from the Union, the possibility that it could actually be done is extremely farfetched. In modern American history even attempts at simply seceding from a state have proven impossible—seceding from the country entirely is a different matter altogether. No state since the Civil War has come anywhere close enough to force the courts to issue a final word on the legality of secession, but any such argument would, at the very least, face a very steep climb.

[Reuters]

TIME Crime

Texas Executes Woman for Murder of 9-Year-Old

Texas Execution
This undated handout photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Lisa Coleman AP

She is the 15th woman to be executed in the U.S. since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976

A Texas woman convicted of starving and torturing her girlfriend’s 9-year-old son to death was executed on Wednesday evening.

Lisa Coleman, the ninth person executed in Texas this year, was put to death by lethal injection about an hour after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch appeal from her legal team.

Coleman, 38, was sentenced to death in 2006 for the murder of Davontae Williams, who in 2004 was found dead in the Arlington, Texas, apartment that Coleman shared with the child’s mother, Marcella Williams.

The emaciated child weighed just 36 lb. — about half the weight of the average 9-year-old — and had been suffering from pneumonia, as well as more than 250 injuries, including burns, the Texas Tribune reports. Records showed that Williams and her son had been the subject of six child-abuse investigations, the Tribune says.

Coleman’s lawyers had contended that the boy’s death was an accident, arguing that the child had mental-health issues and that the two women had exercised poor judgment in trying to handle him, according to the Associated Press.

Murdering a child under 10 years old has been listed as a capital murder offense in Texas since 2011.

Williams, the child’s mother, accepted a plea bargain after Coleman was sentenced to death. She is serving a life sentence.

AP reports that Coleman “mouthed an audible kiss,” as well as “smiled and nodded to several friends and an aunt” in attendance behind glass. She also expressed love for her fellow female prisoners on Texas’ death row and said the women should “keep their heads up.”

“I’m all right,” AP reported her as saying. “Tell them I finished strong … God is good.”

Coleman’s last words were, “Love you all,” AP says, before she closed her eyes, took “a couple of short breaths” and stopped moving. She was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m. C.T., 12 minutes after officials administered the execution drug, pentobarbital.

The next execution in Texas, home to the U.S.’s busiest death chamber, is scheduled for Oct. 15. The inmate, Larry Hatten, was convicted in 1995 of shooting a 5-year-old child to death and attempting to kill the child’s mother.

TIME Family

Hitting Your Kids is Legal in All 50 States

Getty Images

Adrian Peterson was arrested on child abuse charges because he hit his child too hard. Not because he hit his child

Most Americans can agree that Adrian Peterson crossed the line when he whipped his four-year-old son with a switch and left cuts and welts on the boy’s legs. But the line for what constitutes illegal behavior when it comes to parents striking their children is subject to different rules throughout the country.

Peterson seems to have genuinely believed at the time that he was not abusing his son. After all, it is legal to hit a child in all fifty U.S. states and the District of Columbia. States differ widely about what precisely is allowed.

In Delaware, for example, state law forbids a parent from hitting a child with a closed fist. But in Oklahoma, no such explicit prohibition exists. There, the law permits a parent to hit a child with a switch provided that the parent only uses “ordinary force.”

Much depends on the discretion of prosecutors. Both Arizona and Alabama allow the use of “reasonable and appropriate physical force,” but what is “reasonable and appropriate” in each state depends on existing case law and the interpretation of judges. The fact that Louisiana makes no mention of spanking but allows “reasonable discipline” that doesn’t “seriously endanger” the health of a child.

“It’s a very complex subject,” Director of the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law Howard Davidson told TIME. “I personally favor parents knowing what the law says in terms of what they can and can’t do and just saying ‘reasonable’ doesn’t provide a lot of guidance,” he said.

In Texas, corporal punishment becomes child abuse when it “results in substantial harm to a child.” As a practical matter in Texas, that means a physical injury that leaves a mark, like bleeding and bruising, as Peterson apparently did.

The law in that state is clearer than some others about when a spanking becomes child abuse. That standard—when a swat leaves a mark—is common among many states but what exactly a “mark” is doesn’t always mean the same thing. In Maine, for instance, corporal punishment is lawful if it results “in no more than transient discomfort or minor temporary marks.” Georgia simply forbids any “physical injury,” but here again, what that means is largely at the discretion of judges and prosecutors.

Some, like Deb Sandek, program director with the Center for Effective Discipline, argue, not without evidence, that corporal punishment of any kind causes psychological trauma in children and should be banned entirely. “There are effective discipline strategies that teach children right from wrong,” she said. “Why not go in a more proactive strategy and help children learn to problem solve and handle conflict without aggression?”

Around the world 39 countries, including Malta, Bolivia, and Brazil this year, have banned corporal punishment of children.

But any such national ban would go against the grain of public opinion today: four out of five Americans believe spanking children is sometimes appropriate, according to a 2013 poll from the Nielsen-owned market research firm Harris Interactive. Barring a major shift in public opinion or judicial interpretation, on corporal punishment of children we’ll be grappling with the devil in the details for some time yet.

TIME Football

Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson Indicted for Child Injury

The NFL star allegedly used a switch to spank his young son. Late Friday, the Vikings announced that Peterson would not play in Sunday's game against the New England Patriots

Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sat., Sept. 13

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been indicted in Montgomery County, Texas for injury to a child. The indictment stems from allegations that Peterson used a switch to spank his son, according to his lawyer Rusty Hardin.

Peterson turned himself in to law enforcement authorities early Saturday and was freed shortly after on $15,000 bail, reports NBC. The Vikings announced that he has been deactivated for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots.

Hardin defended the star player in a statement, saying Peterson “never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury.” He added, “Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas.”

A former NFL MVP, 29-year-old Peterson has played in six Pro Bowls, rushed for more than 10,000 yards and scored more than 90 touchdowns.

Peterson testified before a grand jury “weeks ago,” according to a reporter for the NFL Network.

Last year, one of Peterson’s sons died in Sioux Falls, S.D. after allegedly being abused by the boyfriend of his mother.

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Wendy Davis on the Filibuster That Mattered to Her Most

Wendy Davis
Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis presents her new education policy during a stop at Palo Alto College in San Antonio on Aug. 26, 2014 Eric Gay—AP

It's not the one you think, the Texas gubernatorial candidate tells TIME

In June 2013, Wendy Davis made headlines across the country while standing on the floor of the senate chamber in the Texas legislature.

A member of that chamber’s embattled Democratic minority, Davis donned a pair of pink running sneakers under her otherwise business-as-usual attire and staged an 11-hour filibuster against a bill that included stiff restrictions on abortion across the state.

She ultimately lost that fight — the measure eventually passed and its constitutionality is now being fought over in the courts — but the episode became a viral sensation. Even those running shoes became Internet famous; “Guaranteed to outrun patriarchy” wrote one Amazon.com reviewer of the sneakers.

Davis was propelled to national prominence overnight, and she’s now making a long-shot bid for governor of Texas. But before her 2013 filibuster — which, she tells TIME, is not even the most important filibuster she’s staged — Davis was the daughter of a single mom and a single mom herself, experiences she has written about in her memoir Forgetting to Be Afraid, released this week.

She speaks to TIME about her struggle to get a college degree, her fight for reproductive rights and her favorite ice cream (it’s Rocky Road).

Your memoir is called Forgetting to Be Afraid. What inspired the title?
It was inspired by a Lady Bird Johnson quote. She was asked at least on one occasion by a group of young women how it is that she pushed through fear to do things, because she was inherently a very shy person. She advised them that you have to get so wrapped up in something you forget to be afraid. My whole life story can be captured through that idea. I had to make a way out of no way for myself and my daughter. Due to the fact that I was so wrapped up in trying to do that, I forgot to be afraid of doing it. Along every step of my journey I think that that sentiment really captures how it is that I’ve pushed through fear, put my head down and done what I needed to do.

Are you inherently shy yourself?
I was a very shy child. And I talk in the book about moving from being very shy to being a fighter, and that shift really came from the need to fight first for myself and my daughter and then next in the public-service arena for people who don’t have the same opportunities that I had in a myriad of ways.

In your book you write about your decision to terminate two pregnancies for medical reasons. Did that motivate your filibuster against the Texas abortion bill?
Honestly my personal experience in that regard was part of what I want people to know about me in hopes that it might help people struggling with the same situation. But my stand for reproductive rights in Texas was primarily motivated by my understanding of the harm that would come to women across our state if they were denied access to safe reproductive care. I have always firmly believed that women should be trusted to make decisions for themselves with their family, their faith, their doctor, and that the government has no business intruding in that most private arena. I fought that day for women, and men who love them, whose voices had been cut out of the process. In committee hearings at the state legislature, there were so many people that had signed up to speak and been told after several hours that their testimony was repetitive and they were cut off. I wanted to give voice to the people who felt like they’d not been heard.

But those restrictions were eventually passed. In fact, restrictions on abortion have been tightened across the state.
The first provision, which required that doctors have admitting privileges (to a hospital) within 30 miles of an abortion clinic was implemented right away. It immediately caused 21 of the 40 clinics in Texas to close. The second provision was set to go into effect on [Sept. 1], but a federal judge ruled the law in its entirety unconstitutional. As a consequence of that and while it’s on appeal at the Fifth Circuit I know that some of those health centers are considering reopening, some are waiting to see what the Fifth Circuit will do.

Was the filibuster your defining moment as a politician?
A lot of the people know about my filibuster last summer but as important if not more to me was my filibuster in 2011 to try to stop $5.5 billion from being cut from our public schools and try to stop a dramatic reduction in financial assistance for our students trying to go to a state university. Access to opportunity comes through education, and that is my primary passion and fight. And it’s why I’m running for governor.

You have daughters aged 32 and 25. Do you feel hopeful about their future?
What I see when I look at them is the fact that their mother broke through and got a college degree created a path for them to logically follow. I think about how fortunate they are that they have the ability to do that and I think about all of the other young girls in Texas who are those first-generation college students like me who don’t have the same path available to them. It’s that concern that motivates me most.

According to your book, your mom worked at the ice cream chain Braum’s. I love Braum’s! I grew up in Tulsa.
You did? Well, Texas is all about Whataburger. Oklahoma is all about Braum’s.

But your mom worked at Braum’s! Does this make you a traitor to Braum’s?
No, I still crave a Braum’s hamburger every now and then for sure.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

TIME Texas

Wendy Davis: Abortion 17 Years Ago Left Me ‘Forever Changed’

Wendy Davis
Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis presents her new education policy during a stop at Palo Alto College in San Antonio on Aug. 26, 2014. Davis reveals in a new campaign memoir called Forgetting to be Afraid that she terminated two pregnancies for medical reasons in the 1990s, including one where the fetus had developed a severe brain abnormality Eric Gay—AP

“An indescribable blackness followed,” she writes

Texas state senator Wendy Davis, the Democrat running for Texas governor against Republican attorney general Greg Abbott, tells in her upcoming memoir the story of a pregnancy she and her then husband decided to terminate 17 years ago.

In the book Forgetting to Be Afraid, slated for release next week, Davis says multiple doctors offered medical opinions that the fetus suffered from an acute brain abnormality that was likely incompatible with life, reports the San Antonio Express-News. During the procedure, Davis said she felt the baby, who they’d named Tate Elise, “tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her.” A doctor stopped the unborn baby’s heart and the child was delivered by cesarean section.

“An indescribable blackness followed. It was a deep, dark despair and grief, a heavy wave that crushed me, that made me wonder if I would ever surface,” writes Davis. “And when I finally did come through it, I emerged a different person. Changed. Forever changed.”

The abortion debate has been front and center in the Texas governor race that pits Davis, a Democrat who rocketed to national prominence by filibustering passage of strict abortion restrictions in the state, against Abbott, a staunch abortion opponent.

Davis trails Abbott in the polls and faces long odds to win in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office in two decades. Her abortion is not expected to hurt her political fortunes, since only a very small number of hard-liners who were unlikely to support her in any event oppose abortion in the case of fetal abnormality.

[San Antonio Express-News]

TIME Bizarre

5-Year-Old Girl Was Locked in Washing Machine on High Speed

Texas girl was hospitalized after spending several minutes inside machine

A Texas girl was hospitalized Tuesday after she was locked in a washing machine on high speed for several minutes.

Police in Pasadena, Tex. told local news outlet KHOU that a woman had tried to use the machine but told the manager it wasn’t working properly, then moved to a different machine. The girl was in the machine for several minutes before anyone noticed and opened the machine.

“She was tumbling pretty fast in there,” Vance Mitchell with Pasadena Police. “One person walked by and said they saw something flopping around in there. They thought it was just a dress or something because it was moving pretty fast.”

Police did not say where the girl’s parents or caregivers were, but some police on the scene told KHOU that the child was unsupervised. Paramedics expect her to survive.

[KHOU]

 

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