Cases of mystery illness causing paralysis in U.S. kids hit record

NEW YORK — This year has seen a record number of cases of a mysterious paralyzing illness in children, U.S. health officials said Monday.

It’s still not clear what’s causing the kids to lose the ability to move their face, neck, back, arms or legs. The symptoms tend to occur about a week after the children had a fever and respiratory illness.

No one has died from the rare disease this year, but it was blamed for one death last year and it may have caused others in the past.

What’s more, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say many children have lasting paralysis. And close to half the kids diagnosed with it this year were admitted to hospital intensive care units and hooked up to machines to help them breathe.

The condition has been likened to polio, a dreaded paralyzing illness that once struck tens of thousands of U.S. children a year. Those outbreaks ended after a polio vaccine became available in the 1950s. Investigators of the current outbreak have ruled out polio, finding no evidence of that virus in recent cases.

The current mystery can be traced to 2012, when three cases of limb weakness were seen in California. The first real wave of confirmed illnesses was seen in 2014, when 120 were reported. Another, larger wave occurred in 2016, when there were 149 confirmed cases. So far this year, there have been 158 confirmed cases.

In 2015 and 2017, the counts were far lower, and it’s not clear why.

The condition is called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. Investigators have suspected it is caused by a virus called EV-D68. The 2014 wave coincided with a lot of EV-D68 infections and the virus “remains the leading hypothesis,” said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, a member of a 16-person AFM Task Force that the CDC established last month to offer advice to disease detectives.

But there is disagreement about how strong a suspect EV-D68 is. Waves of AFM and that virus haven’t coincided in other years, and testing is not finding the virus in every case. CDC officials have been increasingly cautious about saying the virus triggered the illnesses in this outbreak.

Indeed, EV-D68 infections are not new in kids, and many Americans carry antibodies against it.

Why would the virus suddenly be causing these paralyzing illnesses?

“This is a key question that has confounded us,” said the CDC’s Dr. Nancy Messonnier, who is overseeing the agency’s outbreak investigation.

Experts also said it’s not clear why cases are surging in two-year cycles.

Another mystery: More than 17 countries have reported scattered AFM cases, but none have seen cyclical surges like the U.S. has.

When there has been a wave in the U.S., cases spiked in September and tailed off significantly by November. Last week, CDC officials said the problem had peaked, but they warned that the number of cases would go up as investigators evaluated – and decided whether to count – illnesses that occurred earlier.

As of Monday, there were 311 illness reports still being evaluated.

This year’s confirmed cases are spread among 36 states. The states with the most are Texas, with 21, and Colorado, 15.

But it’s not clear if the state tallies truly represent where illnesses have been happening. For example, the numbers in Colorado may be high at least partly because it was in the scene of an attention-grabbing 2014 outbreak, and so doctors there may be doing a better job doing things that can lead to a diagnosis.

For an illness to be counted, the diagnosis must include an MRI scan that shows lesions in the part of the spinal cord that controls muscles.

All things considered, AFM is extremely rare, with the CDC estimating that fewer than one-in-a-million people in the United States will get it every year.

“As a mom myself, I can certainly understand why parents are worried,” the CDC’s Messonnier said. “But it’s important for parents to realize it still is a relatively rare condition.”

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5 U.S. Marines missing since mid-air crash off Japan declared dead

TOKYO — The U.S. military has declared five missing crew members dead after their refueling plane collided with a fighter jet last week off Japan’s southern coast. Search and recovery operations were called off.

The five crew members were on a KC-130 refueling aircraft that collided Thursday with an F/A-18 Hornet during regularly scheduled training. It wasn’t clear whether the aircraft were practicing refueling when the mishap occurred, officials said.

The two crew members from the F/A-18 were recovered after the accident, but one died. The U.S. Marines said the survivor was in fair condition.

The military said in a statement that the next of kin of the five Marines have been notified and that their identities would be released within 24 hours of that notification.

The crew members were based at Iwakuni air station near Hiroshima.

A Litchfield Park, Arizona woman told CBS Phoenix affiliate KPHO-TV her son was among the missing. Rosa Bennett told CBS Phoenix affiliate KPHO-TV Maximo Flores, 27, had a heart of gold and a smile that could light up a room. “Oh, he was just very sweet. Always happy real smart and just a good guy,” she remarked.

The Marines said the FA-18 pilot who lost his life was Capt. Jahmar F. Resilard, 28, of Miramar, Florida.

Lt. Col. James Compton called Resilard an “effective and dedicated leader who cared for his Marines and fellow pilots with passion.” His decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal and National Defense Service Medal.

The crash was the latest in recent series of accidents involving the U.S. military deployed to and near Japan.

Last month, a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan crashed into the sea southwest of Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, though its two pilots were rescued safely. In mid-October, a MH-60 Seahawk also belonging to the Ronald Reagan crashed off the Philippine Sea shortly after takeoff, causing non-fatal injuries to a dozen sailors.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Thousands of mailed-in Florida ballots not counted, officials say

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida officials say thousands of mailed ballots were not counted because they were delivered too late to state election offices. Three statewide Florida races, including the contest for governor, went to state-mandated recounts because the margins were so close. 

The Department of State late last week informed a federal judge that 6,670 ballots were mailed ahead of the Nov. 6 election but were not counted because they were not received by Election Day. The tally prepared by state officials includes totals from 65 of Florida’s 67 counties. The two counties yet to report their totals are Palm Beach, a Democratic stronghold in south Florida, and Polk in central Florida.

In the battle for agriculture commissioner, Democrat Nikki Fried won her election by 6,753 votes. Republican Gov. Rick Scott ousted incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson by slightly more than 10,000 votes.

Under Florida law, ballots mailed inside the United States must reach election offices by 7 p.m. on Election Day. Overseas ballots are counted if they are received up to 10 days after the election.

A group called VoteVets Action Fund along with two Democratic organizations filed a lawsuit a few days after the 2017 election that argued the ballots should count if they were mailed before Election Day.

But U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said the restriction was reasonable and that Florida election officials have a right to establish deadlines. He turned down an emergency request that all properly postmarked ballots received up to 10 days after the election be counted.

The lawsuit, however, is still pending and Walker asked that state election officials report how many ballots were mailed before Election Day but ultimately were not counted.

Walker was the judge involved in a half-dozen lawsuits that were filed following the razor-thin elections in Florida.

In a separate lawsuit filed last month, Walker gave voters extra time to fix their mail-in ballots if they were not counted because their signature on their ballot envelope did not match the one on file with local election officials.

State officials testified in court that nearly 4,000 mailed-in ballots were set aside because local officials decided the signatures on did not match. The Department of State last week informed Walker that his ruling resulted in 637 votes being counted in the final totals.

© 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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North Carolina 9th District: Records point to three coordinated absentee ballot efforts

It has been more than a month since the 2018 midterms, but North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District election is far from over. Nick Ochsner, chief investigative reporter for CBS Charlotte affiliate WBTV, spoke to “Red and Blue” about the irregularities he’s uncovered in his reporting about the race.

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Investigation uncovers hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse in fundamental Baptist churches

A new investigation by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram uncovered hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse against those in the Independent Fundamental Baptist church. Sarah Smith, an investigative reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, joins CBSN to discuss the paper’s findings.

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12/10: CBS Evening News


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CBS holds an annual meeting without Les Moonves

The last time CBS Corp. had an annual meeting without Leslie Moonves at the helm was 2005, when the biggest show on TV was Fox’s “American Idol,” a video website called YouTube was a few months old, and Netflix’s only line of business was delivering DVDs by mail.

On Tuesday, the CBS shareholders meeting takes place against the backdrop of protesters demanding that the media company deny any severance payout to Moonves, who was ousted as CEO on Sept. 9 after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

At stake is his $120 million exit package, conditioned on the results of an investigation into Moonves’ conduct. The company’s board of directors hired two law firms in August to investigate the allegations, and the report is expected to be presented to the board by a Jan. 31 deadline, although it could come much sooner.

According to a New York Times article published last week, a draft of the investigators’ report lists additional allegations of sexual misconduct against Moonves and finds that he lied to company lawyers and otherwise obstructed their investigation. If true, that narrative almost certainly dooms a significant payout for Moonves. An attorney for Moonves has said the executive denies the misconduct allegations and has cooperated fully with the company’s investigations.

CBS News has not reviewed the report, and it’s unclear how much of it the board plans to make public. Many CBS stock analysts, however, say that board transparency is the best way to assuage investors’ concerns.

“I think they want to make sure that they look like they’re taking the report seriously and that they’re going to do something to change the culture there,” said Neil Macker, senior equity analyst at Morningstar, speaking of the board members who shareholders will vote to install at Tuesday’s annual meeting. “If the reports we saw last week are true about the conduct there, they’ll want to show that the company is trying to put the framework in place to make sure these types of things don’t happen again.”

Six board members were replaced on Moonves’ departure, while five others remained. Key CBS executives have also departed after Moonves, including longtime corporate communications head Gil Schwartz and “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager. 

But some analysts say the company hasn’t gone far enough to clean house. “The problem with CBS is it’s clear there was a lot of poor corporate governance and behavior. The new board literally needs to drain the swamp,” said Richard Greenfield, media and tech analyst for BTIG.

The CBS board’s compensation committee last April praised Moonves’ “outstanding leadership” and “stellar reputation” in a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that appears in the shareholder proxy for Tuesday’s meeting. 

“During 2017, Mr. Moonves continued to demonstrate outstanding leadership in driving the Company’s execution on key strategic initiatives,” according to the filing included in the Nov. 16 proxy statement. 

The filing described more than a dozen achievements running a $13.6 billion business in 2017 that earned Moonves a total compensation package valued at nearly $70 million last year. It cited his “ratings successes across the Company’s portfolio of networks” and his “vision” that “solidified the Company’s position as a leader in the evolving media landscape, establishing the Company among those best positioned for the digital future.”      

“The [board’s] Compensation Committee also acknowledged Mr. Moonves’ stellar reputation among and successes in communication with members of the investment community, and in management development and human resources,” the compensation summary in the proxy continued.

All that was written before accounts of accusations of sexual misconduct by Moonves were published over the summer. On Tuesday, feminist groups including NOW-New York and UltraViolet are holding a rally outside the CBS shareholders meeting in midtown Manhattan to encourage the board to withhold severance from Moonves. 

“It’s as clear as day to women everywhere that we have to stop rewarding sexual abusers with payouts. It’s crystal clear in this case,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of NOW-New York. “Companies really don’t have an option any longer of sweeping these issues under the rug.”  

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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"Someone wanted me dead": Chicago campaign volunteer shot while handing out flyers

CHICAGO — Maxwell Little, a campaign volunteer for Chicago 15th Ward alderman candidate Joseph Williams, was shot in the leg Sunday while handing out flyers and broadcasting about it on Facebook Live. Williams, who was also present at the shooting, said he would be increasing security.

Police said a man in a red mask fired several shots, hitting Little in the leg, CBS Chicago reports. His live stream on Facebook was interrupted, and the gunman is not visible on the video.

Little is a first-time campaign volunteer, and was stumping for Williams when he was wounded.

“My family was out there with me,”  Williams told CBS Chicago. “We had our campaign workers out there with us. I was actually talking to a resident at the time we heard the shots go off; heard about five or six shots go off, and then Maxwell came running past us.”

Little logged onto Facebook again from the hospital and said this was not a random incident.

“This was no random shooting,” Little posted. “Someone wanted me dead.”

Williams and his team planned to return to the campaign trail as early as Monday afternoon.

“I think it’s a nervous situation. I think you have no choice, but to be nervous,” Williams said. “I tell you one thing I’ll be going for, I’ll make sure my kids aren’t out with me anymore. … We won’t let this stop us.”

The incumbent alderman, Ray Lopez, has his ward office about two blocks away from the shooting. He called the attack “mindless.”

“Campaign or not, it is completely unacceptable and unfortunate that someone would feel compelled to shoot at someone simply because they did not recognize him from the community,” he said in a statement.

There was no one in custody as of Monday morning, CBS Chicago reports.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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"CBS Evening News" headlines for Monday, December 10, 2018


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