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Health News

  • Disease hunters are using genetic sequencing in their investigation of the ongoing food poisoning outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, a technique that is revolutionizing the detection of germs in food. The genetic analysis is being used to bolster investigations and — in some cases — connect the dots between what were once seemingly unrelated illnesses. It also is uncovering previously unfathomed sources of food poisoning, including one outbreak from apples dipped in caramel. So far, most of the work has largely focused on one germ, listeria. But it is expanding. By the end of this year, labs in all 50 states are expected to also be using genetic sequencing for much more common causes of food poisoning outbreaks, including salmonella and the E. coli bacteria linked to recent lettuce outbreak. That means the number of identifiable outbreaks are likely to explode even if the number of illnesses don't. 'There are a lot of outbreaks where they don't connect the dots. Now they're going to be connected,' said Michael Doyle, a retired University of Georgia professor who is an expert on foodborne illness. Not only that: The new DNA testing is enabling disease detectives to spot food contamination before anyone is aware of a resulting human illness — the equivalent of starting a murder investigation by finding a gun first and then looking for someone with a gunshot wound. 'It's turning around how outbreaks are figured out,' said Bill Marler, a prominent Seattle lawyer who has made a business of suing companies whose products sicken people. Marler added that the program is in its early stages and it's too early to call it a success. But he said the new approach has the potential to transform how and when outbreaks come to light. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is driving the program. It estimates that 48 million Americans get sick — and 3,000 die — from food poisoning each year. The new technique relies on whole genome sequencing, which has been used in biology for more than two decades. The laboratory process determines nearly all of an organism's DNA, the genetic material needed to build and maintain an organism. And scientists use software to compare the DNA of specimens to see if they are the same strain and how resistant they are to current medicines. The technique allows the analysis to become faster, cheaper and more automated, said Dr. Robert Tauxe, one of the CDC's leading experts on food poisoning. Plans are to use the technology against several germs that cause food poisoning, but so far all the work has concentrated on listeria. The bacteria cause around 1,600 illnesses each year, a tiny fraction of U.S. foodborne disease diagnoses. But it is a particularly lethal infection, killing nearly one in five people who get it. Historically, listeria-caused outbreaks were known as 'the graveyard of epidemiology.' It could take weeks for people to develop symptoms, meaning food evidence was discarded — and some of the patients were dead — by the time officials began to sort things out. From 1983 to 1997, only five listeria outbreaks were identified in the United States. They were obvious and large — with a median of 54 cases per outbreak. That's how it was with other food poisoning outbreaks, too. 'Most foodborne outbreaks were detected because it happened in one place,' like in a town where a popular restaurant's customers grew ill, Tauxe said. Outbreaks were investigated by asking people what they ate before they got sick, and then comparing notes to see what patients had in common. The field took a big step in the 1990s, after a frightening outbreak erupted in the Seattle area. Four deaths and more than 700 illnesses in four states eventually were traced to undercooked Jack in the Box restaurant hamburgers contaminated with E. coli. The outbreak prodded the CDC to develop a program that relied on a technique called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis in which investigators could look at a germ's DNA in clumps. It helped health officials more easily link illnesses, but it was imperfect: It couldn't make exact matches and sometimes missed when cases were related. Then came whole genome sequencing. The CDC began using the technique in food poisoning investigations in 2013. Initially state labs sent samples to a CDC lab in Atlanta for testing. Now, the CDC is working to get labs in all 50 states up and running. Last year, the federal agency awarded about $32 million to state and city health departments to work on foodborne, waterborne and fungal disease outbreaks. That included $12 million to help them set up whole genome sequencing technology. Since whole genome sequencing began, the CDC says it's catching more listeria outbreaks with a food source identified. By that measure, the number rose from about two per year to an average of more than six per year from 2014 to 2016. One of the first success stories came a couple of weeks after Halloween in 2014, when listeria cases began popping up in Arizona, New Mexico and the Midwest. Through whole genome sequencing, investigators discovered about three dozen people had been sickened. In interviews, patients and their families didn't mention foods commonly associated with listeria. But most did say they had eaten packaged caramel apples. Scientists hadn't considered them a threat, because apples and caramel aren't hospitable to listeria individually. But it turns out that putting a stick in a caramel-covered apple gives germs a door into tiny spaces between caramel and the apple's skin. Besides fingering foods previously seen as unthreatening, whole genome sequencing has the potential to turn investigations around: In several outbreaks recently, germs found in food plant inspections prompted product recalls before anyone knew about an outbreak. Then whole genome sequencing helped find and confirm illnesses. In 2015, state officials in South Carolina and Texas found listeria in tests of Blue Bell-brand ice cream products. Investigators used pulsed-field gel electrophoresis to find 11 illnesses with a similar genetic pattern, but whole genome sequencing definitively linked 10 and caused one to be tossed out as unrelated. Some of the illnesses had happened as far back as 2010. 'They're picking up cases that are five years old. This is revolutionary,' Doyle said. Whole genome sequencing is becoming increasingly important, but it's not yet the basis of outbreak solving. It was used in the current investigation of E. coli bacteria found in romaine lettuce grown in Arizona, which has sickened at least 84 people in 19 states, according to a CDC update released Wednesday. But 'that's not how we first detected the outbreak,' said Matthew Wise, a CDC food poisoning investigator. It was more crucial in an investigation last year of a 21-state salmonella outbreak that ultimately was linked to ground beef. Whole genome sequencing allowed health officials to wade through a wave of cases to parse out the illnesses that were most closely matched and then look for a common origin, Wise said. 'Using our previous technology,' Wise said, 'we would have had a really difficult time solving that one.' ___ AP video journalist Robert Ray in Atlanta contributed to this report. ___ This Associated Press series was produced in partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • The E. coli outbreak linked to tainted romaine lettuce has grown and sickened 84 people from 19 states, U.S. health officials said Wednesday. At least another 31 cases are believed to be tied to romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said. Those infected range in age from 1 to 88 and more than half of are female. Forty-two people have been hospitalized, including nine battling kidney failure. Symptoms of E. coli infection include diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting, the agency said. No deaths have been reported. The illnesses started between March 13 and April 12, according to agency officials. Pennsylvania has had the most, with 18 cases, followed by California with 13 and 10 in Idaho. The agency last week issued a warning against eating all romaine lettuce. An investigation is being conducted by the agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA spokesman Peter Cassell says a recall cannot be issued because no common supplier or grower has been found. Agency workers are in Yuma sifting through paperwork showing how romaine lettuce was handled and shipped. 'We're on the paper trail, not onto the sampling yet,' Cassell said. Lettuce samples will be tested after the workers find evidence of a shared farm or supplier, he said. Restaurants and supermarkets were also instructed to dispose of romaine lettuce if it came from Yuma or its origin was unknown. Sandwich shop Panera Bread, which has more than, 2,000 U.S. locations, said on its website that all romaine from Yuma was removed when the first warning was issued. The chain says its cafes are now using romaine lettuce harvested in California. Wildflower Bread Company, an Arizona restaurant chain, said all of its romaine lettuce comes from California, which has no connection to the outbreak. Cassell said the outbreak will be declared over when health officials are sure romaine lettuce from Yuma is no longer on the market. The Yuma region about 185 miles (298 kilometers) southwest of Phoenix and close to the California border is referred to as the country's 'winter vegetable capital.' It is known for its agriculture and often revels in it with events like a lettuce festival. According to the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association, the outbreak came as the harvest of romaine was about to end. Steve Alameda, the group's president, said growers haven't suffered significant economic losses partly because of the timing of the outbreak. Growers in Yuma typically plant romaine lettuce between September and January. The peak of the harvest season runs from mid-November until the beginning of April. 'At this point, there wasn't that much romaine left here,' Alameda said. He said it's likely more affecting the parent companies of local growers — shippers and processors who make chopped, packaged salads.
  • Call it a lab in a box: Researchers created a device about the size of a toaster that can test a drop of blood to tell, in about half an hour, who's immune to certain infections and who's not. The goal is to find groups of people at risk of outbreaks, especially in impoverished and remote parts of the world, in time to save lives. Wednesday, Canadian researchers reported their novel tool worked pretty well at identifying people vulnerable to measles and rubella in a refugee camp in Kenya. 'We're very excited about the potential for this technology,' said epidemiologist Aimee Summers of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who helped the Canadian team field-test the device. And while the device first targeted measles and rubella, 'we could imagine having a panel of tests for any type of infectious disease,' said University of Toronto professor Aaron Wheeler, the study's senior author. Vaccine-preventable diseases remain a major problem in developing countries. Measles, for example, killed nearly 90,000 people worldwide in 2016, and 100,000 children are born every year with birth defects due to rubella. Checking when a population is at risk of an epidemic requires sending blood samples to laboratories to measure protective antibodies, immune system substances that signal someone was vaccinated or previously infected. But that's costly, time-consuming and simply not feasible in areas where the nearest lab is hundreds of miles away. Wheeler works with a technology called digital microfluidics that is potentially cheap and portable, but hasn't been used outside of research labs, he said. Then one day a CDC official called: Was it ready for a real-world test in Africa? 'We science nerds in the laboratory are often not connected to the settings where our technologies might have the most impact,' Wheeler said. He jumped at the chance. Digital microfluidics involves moving minuscule droplets of liquid through a cartridge or 'chip' that's lined with a checkerboard of metal electrodes. Applying electrical signals to different electrodes directs the droplets step-by-step through a process that tests the liquid with chemicals or other agents. This piece of the technology is often called a 'lab on a chip.' First, Wheeler's team lowered the price of those cartridges from $60 to $6 by producing them with office printers that put down a pattern of ink that can conduct electricity. But the chips need to be programmed and powered. Next, the team made portable the bulky lab equipment that's normally used to do that — creating a desktop laboratory, built for less than $2,500. Stick in a chip, and they dubbed the finished product a 'measles-rubella box.' Carrying four of the boxes and dozens of chips, researchers boarded a plane for the Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya. Health workers there were conducting mass vaccinations, and the Toronto team took finger-pricks of blood from 144 young children and their caregivers to test their immunity. Additional blood samples were shipped to a Kenyan Medical Research Institute lab in Nairobi for comparison. While imperfect, the desktop lab could give results in 35 minutes — and matched standard lab testing 86 percent of the time for measles, and 84 percent for rubella, the researchers reported Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine . The CDC is analyzing results of a second study of the device conducted in the Congo last summer, using an even smaller, cheaper version of the desktop lab. Wheeler's team is developing chips that could test for additional diseases including malaria and Zika. 'We need to develop cheaper and more efficient ways to detect outbreaks earlier,' said Dr. Ernesto Marques, a University of Pittsburgh infectious disease specialist who wasn't involved in the study but finds the technology promising. 'This may be one step in that direction.' ___ The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • Britain's Court of Appeal on Wednesday rejected a new bid by the parents of terminally ill toddler Alfie Evans to take him to Italy and continue his life support against the wishes of his doctors and judges. Doctors say the 23-month-old boy suffers from a degenerative neurological condition that has left him in a 'semi-vegetative state' with almost no brain function. Medics caring for him at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool have said further treatment is futile, and the toddler's life support was withdrawn Monday after a series of court rulings sided with the doctors and blocked further medical treatment. Alfie's parents continued their fight to take him to Italy to be cared for at the Vatican's children's hospital, which has said it is willing to take him. Three Court of Appeal judges rejected the parents' latest legal bid on Wednesday. Judge Andrew McFarlane said nothing had changed since a previous court ruling that Alfie's treatment should end. High Court Justice Anthony Hayden dismissed the parents' case on Tuesday, and said his ruling represented 'the final chapter in the life of this extraordinary little boy.' It wasn't immediately clear whether Alfie's parents would seek another appeal. The months-long legal battle between Alfie's parents, backed by a Christian pressure group, and his doctors has drawn interventions from the pope and Italian authorities, who support the parents' desire to have their son treated in Italy. Paul Diamond, attorney for Alfie's father Tom Evans, said Evans accepted that his son would die but wanted palliative care in line with his Catholic faith. Alfie's father says the boy has continued to survive with no assistance after life support was withdrawn, and that doctors had subsequently resumed providing oxygen and hydration. On Wednesday he said Alfie was being given food again after 36 hours without it. 'Alfie is doing still as well as he can. He's fighting,' Evans told ITV television. A lawyer for Alfie's mother Kate James told the court Wednesday that the child was 'struggling' and needed immediate intervention if he is to survive much longer. Doctors say it is hard to estimate how long Alfie will live without life support, but that there is no chance he will get better. Under British law, it is common for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on the treatment of a child. In such cases, the rights of the child take primacy over the parents' right to decide what's best for their offspring. Emotions have run high over the case, with a band of supporters known as 'Alfie's Army' protesting regularly outside the hospital, at times trying to storm the entrance. The hospital increased its security, and police said they were monitoring social media posts about the case for malicious communications. McFarlane, the judge, said Tom Evans had attempted to bring a private prosecution for conspiracy to murder against three of Alfie's doctors. Diamond said Alfie shouldn't be 'kept prisoner' since there is 'alternative' care for him. 'We submit there is a likelihood of Alfie having some pleasure in life,' he said. 'That is beyond our knowledge.' Judge Eleanor King retorted that the evidence did not show this was the case. 'The evidence is that he is unlikely to have pain, but that tragically everything that would allow him to have some appreciation of life, or even the mere touch of his mother, has been destroyed irrevocably,' she said. Alfie's case has drawn international attention, with officials in largely Catholic Poland and Italy implicitly criticizing Britain's courts and state-run National Health Service. Polish President Andrzej Duda tweeted Wednesday that 'Alfie Evans must be saved!' 'His brave little body has proved again that the miracle of life can be stronger than death,' the president wrote on Twitter. 'Perhaps all that's needed is some goodwill on the part of decision makers. Alfie, we pray for you and your recovery!' Pope Francis has met Alfie's father and made appeals for the boy's parents' wishes to be heeded, saying only God can decide who dies. Italy has a military plane on standby to transport Alfie to Rome if the courts allow it. Alfie has also been granted Italian citizenship to facilitate his arrival and transport. About 100 supporters gathered outside the hospital. Some tied blue and purple balloons to trees. Alder Hey hospital chairman David Henshaw and chief executive Louise Shepherd issued an open letter defending the staff from a 'barrage' of abuse. 'We have endured attacks upon our motivation, our professionalism and our ethics. It has been a very difficult time,' they said in a statement. 'Having to carry on our usual day to day work in a hospital that has required a significant police presence just to keep our patients, staff and visitors safe is completely unacceptable.
  • The maker of a much-debated e-cigarette popular with teenagers says it will spend $30 million in an effort to keep its products out of the hands of children. The announcement from Juul (JOO'-uhl) Labs comes one day after the Food and Drug Administration questioned the design and marketing of the company's small, sleek vaping devices. The San Francisco company said the initial investment will fund research on vaping and the formation of an expert panel to combat underage use of Juul. That group will be led by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. The company says it will also support state and federal legislation to raise the minimum age for vaping products to 21. Federal law sets the age at 18, though some states have higher requirements.
  • Medicare will require hospitals to post their standard prices online and make electronic medical records more readily available to patients, officials said Tuesday. The program is also starting a comprehensive review of how it will pay for costly new forms of immunotherapy to battle cancer. Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the new requirement for online prices reflects the Trump administration's ongoing efforts to encourage patients to become better-educated decision makers in their own care. 'We are just beginning on price transparency,' said Verma. 'We know that hospitals have this information and we're asking them to post what they have online.' Hospitals are required to disclose prices publicly, but the latest change would put that information online in machine-readable format that can be easily processed by computers. It may still prove to be confusing to consumers, since standard rates are like list prices and don't reflect what insurers and government programs pay. Patients concerned about their potential out-of-pocket costs from a hospitalization would still be advised to consult with their insurer. Most insurance plans nowadays have an annual limit on how much patients must pay in copays and deductibles — although traditional Medicare does not. Likewise, many health care providers already make computerized records available to patients, but starting in 2021 Medicare would base part of a hospital's payments on how good a job they do. Using electronic medical records remains a cumbersome task, and the Trump administration has invited technology companies to design secure apps that would let patients access their records from all their providers instead of having to go to different portals. Verma also announced Medicare is starting a comprehensive review of how it will pay for a costly new form of immunotherapy called CAR-T. It's gene therapy that turbocharges a patient's own immune system cells to attack cancer. Immune system T cells are filtered from the patient's own blood and reprogrammed to target and kill cancer cells that had managed to evade them. Hundreds of millions of copies of the revved-up cells are then returned to the patient's blood to take on the cancer. Though only a couple of such treatments have been approved for blood cancers, the cost can exceed $370,000 per patient. 'It's a new area for the agency,' said Verma. 'We haven't seen drugs priced at this level and we're having to think about our strategy.

Health Reporter Sabrina Cupit

  • Georgia is among the top ten riskiest states for shipping and billing fraud connected to online shopping, according to Experian. Billing fraud is when a victim's address is tied to the payment account used to buy stolen goods. Shipping fraud occurs when a criminal uses their address for the delivery of stolen goods purchased on line. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself is monitor your accounts closely. It's best to skip the debit card and instead use and a credit card when shopping online.
  • SunTrust warns an ex-employee may have shared information on 1.5 million clients! The bank says the employee was not authorized to get that level of information, and that the company was reviewing its systems and capabilities. 'This is absolutely shocking,' says WSB Consumer Expert Clark Howard. He says, 'the fact that one person was able to gain access to that level of information and then sell it off is really shocking.'  SunTrust believes the information included names and account balances, but not personally identifiable information such as social security numbers.  In a press release , the bank said it was proactively notifying the 1.5 million affected clients that certain information, such as address, phone number and certain account balances may have been exposed, and said it is working with outside experts and coordinating with law enforcement on the matter. If you are a SunTrust customer Clark says make sure you freeze your credit and set up account alerts, where you are notified of transactions. 
  • More than half of all vehicles on the road are ten years old or older, according to AAA. 'A new analysis of AAA roadside data shows that cars and trucks that are ten years old or older are twice as likely to breakdown compared to newer vehicles,' says Garrett Townsend with AAA. The odds of needing a tow quadruples for older vehicles.

News

  • An 17-year-old faces a vehicular homicide charges nearly a month after police said she crashed a car, killing her classmate on senior skip day.  Prosecutors said Cristina Pavon-Baker was driving at 106 mph when she crashed a Mini Cooper into a tree and killed 18-year-old passenger Makayla Penn, Channel 2 Action News reported.  The March 26 crash occurred on I-75 North at the Jonesboro Road exit in Clayton County. The vehicle, “traveling at a high rate of speed,” failed to navigate the turn on the exit ramp, went airborne, overturned several times and ended up hitting a tree, uprooting it in a wooded area, the GSP said at the time of the crash. Pavon-Baker was cut out of the car and taken to Grady Memorial Hospital for her injuries.  Prosecutors said Pavon-Baker was on Snapchat before the crash.  The two girls attended Community Christian School and were participating in senior skip day at the time of the crash.  The judge gave Pavon-Baker a $31,000 bond and ordered her to surrender her passport, Channel 2 reported. She was also ordered to not drive and to stay off of Snapchat. 
  • Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, has withdrawn his name from consideration, multiple news outlets are reporting. >> MORE COVERAGE: Embattled VA nominee Ronny Jackson accused of drunken driving, drug use | Jamie Dupree: Trump pick to head VA in trouble as Senators postpone hearing | Senate postpones hearing for Trump VA pick Ronny Jackson amid 'serious allegations' | More trending news 
  • The Latest on a Wisconsin refinery explosion that injured several people (all times local): 2:15 p.m. Authorities have expanded the evacuation zone around a Wisconsin refinery that was rocked by an explosion and are now saying anyone within a three-mile (five-kilometer) radius should leave. Douglas County authorities also say those in a 10-mile (16-kilometer) corridor south of the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior should leave due to smoke coming from the site. Evacuees are being told to gather at Yellowjacket Union at the University of Wisconsin-Superior or at Four Corners Elementary School in Superior. It isn't clear how many people the evacuation order will effect. The refinery is in an industrial area, but there's a residential neighborhood within a mile to the northeast. The corridor downwind to the south is sparsely populated. At least 11 people were injured in the Thursday morning blast. A spokeswoman for Essentia Health says one person was seriously injured, while another nine being treated at Essentia hospitals in Superior and nearby Duluth, Minnesota, have non-life-threatening injuries. St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth received one patient who is in fair condition. ___ 12:55 p.m. The number of people injured in a refinery explosion in Wisconsin has grown to at least 11. Essentia Health spokeswoman Maureen Talarico says five patients are being treated at St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth, Minnesota. She says emergency room physicians describe those patients as awake and alert. Talarico says another five are being treated at St. Mary's Hospital in Superior, Wisconsin, where the explosion happened. She says the extent of injuries is unknown. In Duluth, spokeswoman Jessica Stauber says St. Luke's Hospital is treating one person. She doesn't know the condition of that person. The explosion at the Husky Energy oil refinery happened Thursday morning. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger has said there are no known fatalities. Panger earlier said the fire was out, but Superior police tweeted that the fire has reignited but that there is no need for residents to evacuate. ___ 12:10 p.m. Authorities now say five people have been taken to hospitals after an explosion rocked a large refinery in Wisconsin. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger initially told The Associated Press that six were taken to hospitals in nearby Duluth, Minnesota, after the explosion Thursday at the Husky Energy oil refinery. The Superior Fire Department later updated that number to five. The fire chief says there are no known fatalities. Authorities don't know the extent of injuries. The fire is out. A contractor who was inside the building told WDIO television that the explosion sounded like 'a sonic boom' and that it happened when crews were working on shutting the plant down for repairs. Owned by Alberta-based Husky Energy, Wisconsin's only refinery produces gasoline, asphalt and other products. ___ 11:30 a.m. Several people have been injured in an explosion at a refinery in Wisconsin. Authorities in Superior say the explosion at the Husky Energy oil refinery happened at about 10 a.m. Thursday. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger says six people were taken to hospitals in Duluth, Minnesota. He doesn't know the extent of their injuries. Others were walking wounded. There are no known fatalities. A contractor who was inside the building told WDIO television that the explosion sounded like 'a sonic boom' that happened when crews were working on shutting the plant down for repairs. Panger says the fire was out by 11:20 a.m. Superior police are advising people to stay away from the area and roads around the refinery have been blocked off. There have been no neighborhood evacuations.
  • Opening your hotel room door with your cell phone? Disney has started to roll out the new technology for guests to skip the front desk and go directly to their room, speeding up the start of vacations. Disney gave WFTV anchor Jamie Holmes an exclusive look at how guests will be able to use their cellphones to get into their hotel rooms. The theme park rolled out the technology at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Over the years, the My Disney Experience app has been an expanding feature of how guests navigate the parks and hotels. Previous story: Your smartphone could unlock Disney hotel rooms Guests can use it to check ride wait times and even clean up park photos. But guests can also use it to plan their hotel stay, skip the check-in desk, and go straight to their rooms. 'If you choose to, you can actually bypass the front desk area, if that's important to you, and start your vacation earlier,' Michael Trum, with Disney digital guest experience, said. Here’s how it works: Guests take their cellphones and hold it up to their hotel room door, and that’s when a little Disney magic happens. >> Read more trending news  'They're Bluetooth-enabled. Your phone, most smart phones. We've upgraded our locks to be Bluetooth enabled as well. So, they pair together, via security obviously,' Trum said. The technology can be used as a companion to the Magic Bands, which are required to get into the parks. Long gone are metal hotel room keys, and for the most part, even plastic key cards are gone. But, since most guests these days aren't far from their phones, the Bluetooth technology gives them a choice. Many people wonder whether the new technology is safe. Cellphone passcodes are notoriously hard to crack and Disney stands by the system. “We obviously designed this with security in mind. We can't go into details on Disney security policies, but our guests should absolutely feel safe using this as an entry point into their rooms,' Trum said. Disney is not the first to use the Bluetooth technology. Hilton and Marriot hotels have been using it for several years. The FBI said it has never had a case of hackers using phones to enter a hotel room in the U.S. Disney will expand the service to other hotels over the next several months.
  • New text messages obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News show a top aide to former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed pressuring other city officials to delay production of open records during Reed's final months in office. In unvarnished, sometimes vulgar comments, the texts reveal the mindset of senior Reed administration officials through the unguarded words of one of Reed's closest advisers and most ardent defenders, former communications director Anne Torres. We'll show you the text messages and explain how a simple request quickly turned into a dispute between Reed's office and the Atlanta BeltLine, on Channel 2 Action News at 6 p.m. The GBI opened a criminal investigation of the city's handling of open records requests last month after the AJC and Channel 2 reported on other text messages from former Reed press secretary Jenna Garland. Garland instructed another staffer 'to drag this out as long as possible' and provide information 'in the most confusing format available' in response to a Channel 2 open records request for city water billing records. The new texts from Torres show Garland's instructions to curtail production of records were not an isolated incident. Torres defended the remarks as 'inter-employee banter.' This article was written by Scott Trubey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Several fired and still working bus drivers gathered in front of Dekalb County School headquarters on Thursday to discuss their demands for a better work environment. Five of the eight divers who were let go one week ago, were back at the district’s offices demanding their jobs back. The press conference was held a half-hour before Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green was to meet with a hand-full of current drivers. Also in attendance, parents, grandparents and current drivers who were there in support of fired drivers like Melanie. “I stand here with the support of hundreds of drivers, parents, students and community members, and I say without hesitation, give us our jobs back.” Said Melanie.