The Journal Gazette
Friday, September 17, 2021 1:00 am


States vow to sue over vaccine rule

Associated Press

Two dozen Republican attorneys general warned the White House on Thursday of impending legal action if a proposed coronavirus vaccine requirement for as many as 100 million Americans goes into effect.

“Your plan is disastrous and counterproductive,” the prosecutors, led by Attorney General Alan Wilson of South Carolina, wrote in a letter sent to President Joe Biden.

The letter is the latest GOP opposition to sweeping new federal vaccine requirements for private-sector employees, health care workers and federal contractors announced by Biden this month. The requirement, to be enacted through a rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is part of an all-out effort to curb the surging COVID-19 delta variant.

Chinese kids' vision woes tied to pandemic

Research suggests vision problems increased among Chinese schoolchildren during pandemic restrictions and online learning, and eye specialists think the same may have happened in U.S. kids.

Researchers from Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou compared data from eye exams given a year apart to about 2,000 children, starting in second grade. Half the children were tested twice before the pandemic, in late 2018 and a year later. The others were tested in late 2019 and again late last year, several months after schools shut down and Chinese authorities imposed quarantines and lockdowns.

Initial tests of both groups done before the pandemic showed nearsightedness about the same – about 7% of second graders. It rose in both groups but went up more in those retested late last year. By third grade, about 20% were nearsighted compared with 13% of those tested again before the pandemic.

SC attorney in court over failed suicide ploy

Instead of a suit and tie, lawyer Alex Murdaugh found himself in a jail jumpsuit Thursday in a cramped South Carolina courtroom, struggling to wipe tears from his eyes with handcuffed wrists as his lawyer detailed how his life crumbled over the past three months.

Murdaugh discovered the bodies of his wife and son, shot multiple times at their Colleton County home June 7. His drug addiction got worse and in a deep depression on Sept. 4, he decided he should die, but instead of killing himself, he hired someone to do it, defense attorney Dick Harpootlian said.

The goal was to get his surviving son a $10 million life insurance benefit, state police said. But the shot only grazed his head and Murdaugh, 53, was charged Thursday with insurance fraud, conspiracy and filing a false police report – all felonies that could bring up to 20 years in prison if convicted of all three charges. There is no minimum sentence.

The killings of Murdaugh's wife, Maggie, and son Paul in June remain unsolved. Harpootlian said Murdaugh is adamant he had nothing to do with their deaths.

Sequoias wrapped in blankets as fire guard

Firefighters wrapped the base of the world's largest tree in a fire-resistant blanket as they tried to save a famous grove of gigantic old-growth sequoias from wildfires burning Thursday in California's rugged Sierra Nevada.

The colossal General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park's Giant Forest, some of the other sequoias, the Giant Forest Museum and other buildings were wrapped as protection against the possibility of intense flames, fire spokeswoman Rebecca Paterson said.

The Colony Fire, one of two burning in Sequoia National Park, was expected to reach the Giant Forest, a grove of 2,000 sequoias, at some point Thursday. It comes after a wildfire killed thousands of sequoias, some as tall as high-rises and thousands of years old, in the region last year.

French drone strike kills IS leader in Mali

The leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara died of wounds from a drone strike that hit him on a motorcycle last month in southern Mali, in a French-led operation involving backup from U.S., EU, Malian and Nigerien military forces, French authorities said Thursday.

The French government did not disclose how they identified him as Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, whose group has terrorized the region. Officials described al-Sahrawi as “enemy No. 1” in the region, and accused him of ordering or overseeing attacks on U.S. troops, French aid workers and some 2,000-3,000 African civilians – most of them Muslim.

Filipino leader rejects probe of deadly term

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte would rather “die first” before facing an international tribunal, his spokesman said Thursday, the day after the International Criminal Court said it would investigate allegations of crimes against humanity during his bloody war on drugs.

Duterte's spokesman, Harry Roque, said the president was unfazed when he'd informed him late Wednesday of the court's decision. “The president didn't have any reaction, because from the get go, he has said that he'll die first before he faces any international courts,” Roque told reporters.

Poll: Americans doubt security of online data

Most Americans don't believe their personal information is secure online and aren't satisfied with the federal government's efforts to protect it, according to a poll.

The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MeriTalk shows that 64% of Americans say their social media activity is not very or not at all secure. About as many have the same security doubts about online information revealing their physical location. Half of Americans believe their private text conversations lack security.

And they're not just concerned. They want something done about it. Nearly three-quarters of Americans say they support establishing national standards for how companies can collect, process and share personal data.

Bialik, Jennings split 'Jeopardy' job for now

Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings will split “Jeopardy!” hosting duties for the remainder of 2021.

Sony Pictures Television announced the plan Thursday, the same week that episodes filmed by ousted host Mike Richards are airing.

Subscribe to our newsletters

* indicates required