National & International News

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On Christmas Day last year, a 68-year-old woman in southern China came down with the flu. A week later she was hospitalized.

The woman eventually recovered, but she spent three weeks in the hospital.

The culprit? H7N4, a new type of bird flu.

"This is the first case of human infection with avian influenza A (H7N4) in the world," the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection said Wednesday in a statement.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted 16-5 to advance a bill that would ease mandatory minimum sentences for some drug criminals, but its prospects on the Senate floor are uncertain after opposition from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and at least one big law enforcement group.

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed a complaint Thursday on behalf of several abortion providers seeking to block a state law that bans abortions "because an unborn child has or may have Down Syndrome."

Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 214 into law late last year, although it is not scheduled to take effect until March 23, 2018.

It's barely been two weeks since Idaho regulators said they would allow the sale of health insurance that doesn't meet all of the Affordable Care Act's requirements — a controversial step some experts said would likely draw legal scrutiny and, potentially, federal fines for any insurer that jumped in.

And on Wednesday, Blue Cross of Idaho unveiled a menu of new health plans that break with federal health law rules in several ways, including setting premiums based on applicants' health.

Federal health officials say that, as they anticipated, the flu vaccine isn't very effective this year — but they say it has still prevented thousands of serious illnesses and deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures that, overall, the flu vaccine is 36 percent effective at preventing disease. One bright point for parents of young kids: Children ages 6 months to 8 years responded significantly better to the vaccine than older Americans.

Could anyone have stopped this? That's one of the biggest questions for schools and educators as the nation takes in the facts of the shooting in Parkland, Fla., that has left 17 dead and 23 injured.

The world's largest species of orangutans is rapidly disappearing.

Borneo has lost more than 100,000 orangutans in the last 16 years – that's more than the number of the critically endangered species remaining.

This species — the Bornean orangutan — is only found on the island, which is divided between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It has seen dramatic deforestation, as lush jungle is converted into palm oil and paper pulp plantations.

It was Julie Liles' 17-year-old daughter, Emily, who suggested that they attend a sex education program together.

Julie was eager to go. She was just 14 when she gave birth to Emily.

"So always in the back of my mind was a worry that she would get hurt," says Julie, her voice cracking. "I worried in the back of my mind that she would find herself in the same situation."

Addressing the nation after Wednesday's Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead, President Trump said no child or teacher "should ever be in danger in an American school."

He said he will meet with governors and attorneys general to deal with the issue of mental health.

Speaking from the White House, Trump said it was "not enough to simply take actions that make us feel we are making a difference, we must actually make that difference."

On a cold evening in Manhattan's Chinatown, Mei Lum sits at the front counter of her family's century-old store. She's closed the porcelain shop for the night, and is tapping away on her laptop, tying up loose ends for the multi-day Lunar New Year celebrations she's organizing for both her family and the store.

Lum, 27, can already picture the scenes that will unfold. Just as they have every year for decades, family and friends will gather in Wing on Wo & Co. tonight for an elaborate dinner.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

Court documents say the suspect in the shootings at a South Florida high school has confessed to investigators. Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been booked on 17 charges of premeditated murder at Broward County's Main Jail in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in October and has been republished with updates following the shooting Wednesday in Florida.

It was the deadliest school shooting since a gunman took 26 lives at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Conn. On Wednesday, a shooter killed at least 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Federal immigration agents have reportedly detained more than 100 people in ongoing sweeps in the Los Angeles area, targeting people in the country illegally.

The immigration enforcement operations, which began Sunday, are pursuing roughly 400 people across seven Southern California counties, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

Back in 1983, it seemed like a good idea.

When Dustin Gordon's high school invited juniors and seniors to meet with recruiters from colleges and universities, a handful of students showed up.

A few were serious about the prospect of continuing their educations, he said, "But I think some of them went just to get out of class."

In his sparsely settled community in the agricultural countryside of southern Iowa, "there's just no motivation for people to go" to college, says Gordon, who's now a senior at the University of Iowa.

Updated at 4:25 p.m. ET

The Senate failed to pass any immigration legislation before a self-imposed Friday deadline, leaving lawmakers with no plan to address the roughly 700,000 immigrants who stand to lose legal protections as early as March 5.

The defeat follows a rocky 24 hours of negotiations on a bipartisan bill that failed following a veto threat from President Trump. By a 39-60 vote, senators rejected a White House-backed plan that became a partisan lightning rod after Trump insisted his plan was the only one he would sign.

Three years ago, a woman waiting in line at a Walgreen's in Providence, R.I., recognized the man behind her — his face and black sombrero — the man she believes is responsible for the disappearance of her father and uncle.

It was Juan Samayoa, a paramilitary leader from the country's civil war, who's haunted her since she was a little girl.

She confronted him outside the store.

Burgers and chicken nuggets are still the mainstay of the Happy Meal. But on Thursday McDonald's announced its goal to market more balanced kids meals around the globe.

The company says by the end of 2022, at least 50 percent or more of the kids meal options listed on menus will meet new global Happy Meal nutrition criteria: Meals will have 600 calories or less; no more than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat; no more than 650 mg sodium; and no more than 10 percent of calories from added sugar.

Even as Democrats and Republicans spend 2018 vying to win key races around the country, a larger legal battle underway this year could reshape the American political map — literally.

By June, the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to decide three major redistricting cases — out of Wisconsin, Maryland and Texas — that will lay some of the foundation for what the maps will look like, not just this year, but after the 2020 census that could affect control of Congress for the next decade.

The state of those legal cases and other key ones (that could affect 2018 and 2020) are below.

Mikaela Shiffrin overcame both delays and some of the best skiers in the world to claim her first gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics, winning the giant slalom. The weather finally cooperated, with sunny, clear skies over the Yongpyong Alpine Center in Pyeongchang.

Norway's Ragnhild Mowinckel won silver, 0.39 behind Shiffrin's combined time of 2:20.02.

New York City is one step closer, as part of a larger plan, to shutting the doors on the Rikers Island jail complex. On Wednesday, city officials announced an agreement to start a public review process of proposed sites for smaller jails in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens.

"This agreement marks a huge step forward on our path to closing Rikers Island," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "In partnership with the City Council, we can now move ahead with creating a borough-based jail system that's smaller, safer and fairer."

Let's acknowledge at the outset that despite its name, Iceland can be brilliantly, beautifully green. But the country lies far north of the equator, and a small part of it has an ice cap. One Icelander even made waves this week for posting a photo of herself hanging out laundry in chest-deep snow.

Updated at 2:40 a.m. ET on Thursday

The Broward Sheriff's Office has identified the suspect in Wednesday's deadly school shooting as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons. Law enforcement says Cruz carried out the attack that killed at least 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and left others hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

Cruz is now in police custody after briefly receiving treatment at a local hospital.

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Germany is considering free public transit in its cities in order to curb car use, as it hurries to meet the European Union's requirements for air quality.

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