‘Superbug’ outbreak linked to scopes

A “superbug” outbreak in Los Angeles which has been suspected in the deaths of two patients and the infection of five others, has been linked to contaminated scopes. The Los Angeles Times reports that the FDA had known about potential problems with the type of scope linked to the outbreak, and also has a superbug Q&A on “what it is, how it spreads, what you can do.”

While some 170 people may also have been exposed, local health officials said the outbreak “is not a threat to public health,” yet the Food and Drug Administration said the problem may not be limited to UCLA, since other cases may not have been reported.

* WORLD * Eurozone finance ministers meet in Brussels on Friday to try to find a deal over next steps on Greece’s debt obligation. On Thursday, Germany rejected Greece’s request for a six-month extension to its assistance package – rather than a renewal of the bailout deal, which imposed austerity conditions.

Britain and Europe are “sleepwalking” into the Ukraine crisis, a report on Friday by British MPs says, as the shaky ceasefire in the region continues to falter.

A UN mediator said rival parties in Yemen had agreed on a “transitional council” to govern the country, Reuters reports.

A polar vortex with a blast of arctic air is set to bring record low temperatures to the US east coast on Friday, even stretching as far south as Miami.mapcold(image: The Weather Channel)

Cops in Kentucky, meanwhile, have had enough of winter, issuing an arrest warrant for Queen Elsa from ‘Frozen‘.

* POLITICS * The Washington Post reports on signs that New Jersey Gov Chris Christie may be the victim of Jeb Bush’s highly effective outreach to big GOP donors. Previously considered a Christie booster, former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani was at a dinner on Wednesday night in Manhattan with Wisconsin Gov Scott Walker, where Giuliani famously questioned whether President Obama “loves America”;  remarks on which he doubled down the next day.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America.  He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me.”

The Post’s Alexandra Petri has a handy guide to just how much politicians should actually love America; so, in the wise words of Michael Stanley, come on let the provin’ begin…

* BUSINESS * BP lost its legal attempt to reduce the maximum fine it could face over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Guardian reports that Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, is to end its lucrative relationship with the American Petroleum Institute after more than a decade.

Wal-Mart said it would introduce a $10-an-hour minimum wage by next year, spending more than $1bn to give its workers a pay hike, and invest more in staff training.

Apple wants to start producing electric cars as soon as 2020, according to Bloomberg.

“The timeframe — automakers typically spend five to seven years developing a car — underscores the project’s aggressive goals and could set the stage for a battle for customers with Tesla Motors Inc. and General Motors Co., both of which are targeting a 2017 release of an electric vehicle that can go more than 200 miles on a single charge and cost less than $40,000.”

* CULTURE * To mark next year’s 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service, President Obama announced on Thursday that, beginning this fall, all fourth-graders and their families will get free admission to national parks and other federal lands for a year. The President also designated three new national parks: in Colorado and Hawaii, as well as the first in Chicago.

pullman(Image: Pullman Historic District, Chicago)

Finally, The New York Times published a remarkable essay by Oliver Sacks, written after the professor of neurology discovered he had terminal cancer. It is a humbling, beautiful, yet matter-of-fact account.

“Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.”




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