Healthier Happy Meals

McDonald’s announced Thursday their plan to redesign a healthier, balanced happy meal. By the end of 2022, 50 percent of Happy Meals will meet the new, global nutrition requirements. Meals will have 600 calories or less and no more than 650 mg of sodium. The cheeseburger will be removed from the menu and only be available by request. McDonalds’ in Italy introduced a lean, grilled chicken for their Happy Meals. Australian locations are currently exploring vegetable options. McDonald's says since 2013, the company has tracked a 14 percent increase in the number of Happy Meals ordered with milk, juice or water.  Some aren’t happy with the change, saying it isn’t that major.

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White House Officials Did Not Have Full Security Clearance

More than 100 staffers in the Executive Office of the President did not have full security access over a year after President Trump was elected. Senior level officials, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, operated on interim security clearances until November 2017, according to a government official. Complications with background checks and an immense backlog have caused the process to move at such a slow pace. Members of congress and the intelligence community are concerned with these interim clearances, as they put American security at risk.

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Brazil Declares State of Emergency

A state of emergency will be declared in Brazil’s state of Roraima, on the northern border with Venezuela. The cause of the announcement lies in the massive influx of people who have fled the disastrous economic conditions in Venezuela, which Brazil claims has put a huge strain on public services and spiked inflation. This comes not long after having to declare a state of emergency in another of its northern states, Rio Grande do Norte, because of police strikes that resulted in a sharp rise in street violence. With Roraima, Brazil plans to increase funding and troops to help control the influx of thousands of refugees, who have come to make up 10 percent of the population of Roraima’s capital. The reinforcements will set up a field hospital and screening centers for Venezuelans, and further talks are planned to help deal with the issue.

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Walgreen’s Continues Industry Shakeup

Walgreen’s is in an early bid to takeover one of the nation’s largest drug distributors; AmerisourceBergen. The news comes amid a backdrop of acquisitions and mergers by healthcare companies in an effort to stay competitive against rising threats like Amazon. Recently, the e-commerce giant has taken steps to enter the healthcare market, whether it be offering insurance or building pharmacies in Whole Foods. As a result, healthcare companies have been quick to acquire new businesses and insulate themselves from this new competition. The Hop had recently reported on CVS buying Aetna in a bid to stay competitive amid the changing landscape.

To read more about Walgreen’s and the changing healthcare market, click here and here

South African President Resigns

Jacob Zuma has resigned as President of South Africa after receiving pressure from his own party over corruption scandals. Zuma’s African National Congress party had privately demanded his resignation and when he failed to do so, the party made their petition public and called for a no-confidence vote in the leader on Wednesday. Zuma announced that he would be stepping down immediately, but that he “disagreed with the decision of his political party.” The 75-year-old, who was in power for over eight years, now leaves the country in the hands of acting president Cyril Ramaphosa.

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School Shooting in Florida Kills 17

Tragedy struck the community of Parkland, Florida yesterday when a young man opened fire on students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  The death toll is currently at 17 and could rise with multiple victims fighting for their lives in the hospital.  The suspect, who is in police custody, has been identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former of student of the school who was expelled for unspecified disciplinary reasons.  Investigators believe that the suspect intentionally pulled the fire alarm to draw more victims out of classrooms.  It is among the 10 deadliest shootings in modern history.

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Police Bring Corruption Charges to Israel Prime Minister

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel since 2009, faces charges of corruption from the Israeli police over alleged bribery. The cases in concern are two separate incidents. One claims that Mr. Netanyahu requested positive coverage in an Israeli newspaper in exchange for “help reining in a rival publication.” The other holds that he accepted $283,000 from Arnon Milchan, the producer of movies like Fight Club, Gone Girl, and The Revenant, in exchange for help in acquiring a US visa for Milchan and for support of a bill that would exempt returning Israelis from abroad from taxes for 10 years. The proposal did not ultimately pass. A decision on the allegations will take months to settle, but Mr. Netanyahu is confident they “will end in nothing.”

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Scary Crash for US Olympian

USA Olympian Emily Sweeney spun out of control and crashed during her luge run Tuesday night in Pyeongchang. Sweeney was on her fourth run and as she neared turn nine, she hit the right wall and pinballed back and forth. Sweeney tried to slow down, but eventually slid down the track with her sled right behind her. Medical personnel assisted her off the ice and took her to receive additional evaluation. The on-site doctor stated she had no broken bones but was banged up after the event. Sweeney was alert the entire time, but it is unclear if she will have to go under concussion protocol.

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Porter's Out, White House Drama Is Not

White House Senior Official Rob Porter resigned last Wednesday after allegations of domestic abuse became public. Although his resignation was days ago, the drama surrounding him has only multiplied. FBI Director Christopher Ray claims that the FBI completed a background report on Porter months ago with this information and reported it to the White House, which contradicts the White House claim that the investigation was “ongoing.” There continues to be contention in Washington as the public tries to uncover whether or not the White House knew about these allegations against Porter while he continued to work in the West Wing.

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Obamas Unveil Their Official Portraits

Former president and first lady, Barrack and Michelle Obama, had their official portraits unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery on Monday.  All former presidents, dating all the way back to George Washington, have their portraits on display in the museum, although this one was one of the most anticipated in history. Obama’s artist of choice had much to do with the anticipation.  Kehinde Wiley, a Yale-trained painter, is now the first African-American artist to be responsible for an official presidential portrait.  Obama mentioned one reason for his choice, saying, "What I was always struck by when I saw his portraits was the degree to which they challenged our ideas of power and privilege."

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Mirai Nagasu Makes History

On Tuesday, U.S. figure skater Mirai Nagasu made history when she landed the triple axel during her routine at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. This feat makes her the first female American skater to nail the move at the Olympics. Nagasu now becomes one of only three skaters to have ever completed the axel at the Olympics, the other two being Japanese skaters Midori Ito and Mao Asada. The triple axel is considered to be one of the most difficult moves in skating since it requires three-and-a-half rotations before landing on the opposite foot. Her routine put her in second place and helped Team USA win bronze for the ladies’ free skate event.

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71 Dead in Plane Crash Outside Moscow

A Russian passenger plane crashed shortly after take-off on Sunday, killing all 71 onboard. The plane, which left Moscow for a Kazakh border town, plummeted from 22,000 feet just 25 miles from the airport. Poor weather conditions and human error are the likely causes, but investigators have not ruled anything out. Russian civil aviation has been plagued since the fall of the Soviet Union with poor oversight and infrequent aircraft repairs. Within the last few years, a handful of Russian aircrafts have crashed during take-off and landing due to mechanical problems. However, in this incident the plane was only 7 years old, and the airline had seen improving safety records. The White House issued a statement offering its condolences.

To read more about the crash, click here.

Red Comes Through for the Red, White, and Blue

Team USA captured its first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics over the weekend thanks to Red Gerard.  Gerard, just 17 years old, pulled off a surprising victory in the men's slopestyle snowboarding after crashing in both of his first two runs.  Luckily he saved his best run for last, outlasting a pair of Canadian riders which sent him from eleventh to first place.  Gerard became the youngest Olympic snowboarding champion ever, and the teenager has a chance to add another medal to his resume when he competes in the men's big air competition, which will be making its debut in the Olympic Games on February 21.

For more information on Gerard’s victory, click here. For an up-to-date medal tracker, click here.

Rain Finally Falls on Cape Town

On Friday night, residents of Cape Town, South Africa dropped everything to experience the precipitation that is helping to ease the pressure that the city has been experiencing during this drought. The city hadn’t seen rain fall since January 22. Officials have now pushed back what they are calling “Day Zero,” the day the city’s water supply is expected to run dry, to May 11.  Residents have been limited to using only 50 liters of water per day, and if “Day Zero” hits, they will be limited even further.  Cape Town expects to have another small rainfall on Monday night, but no more is expected in the near future after Tuesday morning. 

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2018 Winter Olympics Have Begun

Let the games begin! The opening ceremony in PyeongChang, South Korea has happened and the games have officially started. Medals are up for grabs today in speed skating, cross country skiing, and ski jumping. Ice hockey and snowboarding will also start today. 

For a recap of events so far, click here. For more information on the rest of the Olympics, click here.

Nancy Pelosi Gives Longest Speech in House History

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi broke a record on Wednesday when she spoke in front of the House for over eight hours, advocating for “dreamers” and insisting Congress take action on immigration. Pelosi announced she would lead an opposition to the impending two-year budget deal agreed upon by leaders in the Senate this week, as it does not address DACA, which is set to expire next month. House rules prohibited the minority leader from sitting or taking a break, resulting in Pelosi standing on the House floor from 10 a.m. until slightly after 6 p.m., all while wearing four-inch heels. 

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Oh Baby!

Meet Lucas Warren, the 2018 Gerber baby! Lucas is a 1-year-old from Georgia with Down syndrome. He is the first child with Down syndrome to win the contest since it began in 2010. The 2018 Gerber Spokesbaby contest had 140,000 entries this year, and Lucas’s Instagram photo won! According to the CEO and president of Gerber, Bill Partyka, Lucas’s smile and happiness in the photo helped him win the contest. Lucas’ mom, Cortney, hopes Lucas will be seen for his funny, energetic self, not just as a baby with Down syndrome.

For more information on Lucas, click here

Twitter Finally Reports a Profit

In releasing its quarterly returns on Thursday, Twitter has reported a profit for the first time ever. Since going public in 2013, the social media company has struggled to create revenue, but now things may be turning around. Mr. Trump’s favorite social media site made $91 million in the last quarter, compared to losing $167 million a year earlier. After breaking the news of its first profit, Twitter’s shares went up more than 12 percent, its highest level of trading in two years. The number of Twitter users has also grown for five consecutive quarters. After a long, shaky start, the Twitter bird may finally be venturing out of the nest.

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Could Mickey D's Cure Baldness?

Word has it that eating McDonald’s french fries can help cure baldness! Well not exactly, but Japanese scientists have made an interesting discovery experimenting with oxygen-permeable dimethylpolysiloxane, a chemical used in small doses on McDonald’s french fries to prevent foaming of the oil, which they also use to fry Chicken McNuggets and fish. In an experiment with mice, scientists found that the chemical helped the animals grow hair on their backs and scalps.  While it does not physically upstart the growth of hair, it has proven effective in creating cells that help grow hair follicles.

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Budget Deal in Motion, Expect a Fight

With the possibility of another government shutdown looming, the Senate has come to a bipartisan agreement to fund the government. This agreement would lift certain spending caps and allow for $300 billion more in defense and domestic spending over the next two years. Notably absent from the bill, however, is a fix for DACA and Dreamers; the unfinished immigration question played a significant role in the last government shutdown as well as previous close calls. The House of Representatives has passed their own bill but the two chambers will need to come to a difficult agreement. House republicans have balked at the increased government spending and house democrats are frustrated with the bill’s absent immigration legislation. If the Senate and House cannot agree on a spending bill, the government will shut down Thursday at midnight.

To read more about the spending bill, click here.