3.27.2019

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All your news in a single email. We scour 100+ sources so you don't have to. Culture, science, sports, politics, business, and more - all packaged in a 5-minute read below.
Need To Know.
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Smollett Charges Dropped.
Prosecutors in Chicago dropped all charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett yesterday, who was accused of filing a false police report after staging a hate crime attack in January. It was a stunning reversal after Smollett was charged with 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct after police identified two suspects who said they were paid by Smollett to carry out an attack (see full timeline). Officials did not offer an explanation, and the presiding judge reportedly agreed to have the court documents sealed and Smollet’s record expunged, stirring speculation as to the reason for the abrupt change. At the same time, prosecutors were adamant that it did not mean Smollett did not falsely report the attack.

The move came one week after the Chicago Police Union called for a probe into Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx's handling of the case.
Opioid Maker Settles Lawsuit.
OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma will pay $270 million to the State of Oklahoma to settle a lawsuit alleging the company engaged in deceptive marketing practices, officials said yesterday. OxyContin is one of the most well-known opioid-based prescription pain medications, which many have implicated as fueling the nation's broader opioid crisis. Officials have accused members of the Sackler family, who own Purdue, of misleading doctors and patients about the safety of the drug. Fellow drugmakers Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceuticals were also named in the lawsuit, though the settlement only applies to Purdue. The companies face over 2,000 lawsuits nationally, including over 1,600 cases consolidated by a federal judge who pushed both sides to reach a settlement before an October trial. Opioids, which also include heroin and fentanyl, led to 47,600 overdose deaths in the US in 2017 - more than 80% of heroin users said they began by abusing prescription painkillers. 

Read how super-potent fentanyl is driving a "third wave" of the opioid crisis. 
Measles Emergency in New York.
Rockland County in New York declared a 30-day emergency amid a measles outbreak, taking the unusual step of banning unvaccinated children from public spaces. The suburb on the north side of New York City where over 300,000 people live has seen more than 150 cases since last October, hitting the county's orthodox Jewish community the hardest, where vaccination rates tend to be lower. Health officials say preventing measles, a highly contagious airborne disease that was declared eliminated in the US in 2000 before making a comeback, requires a community vaccination rate of 92-95% - less than 75% of people under 18 years old in Rockland County have estimated to have been vaccinated. County executive Ed Day said the ban was meant to emphasize the seriousness of the outbreak, believing it to be the first time such a step had been taken in the US. 
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In The Know.
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Sports, Entertainment & Culture.
> New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft enters not guilty plea, asks for a jury trial on two misdemeanor charges of soliciting a prostitute (More)
> Recently retired mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor under investigation for sexual assault in Ireland (More)
> Stolen Pablo Picasso portrait, Buste de Femme, worth $28M is recovered after 20 years (More)

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Science & Technology.
> North Carolina hospital launches pilot test using drones to transport blood samples; represents the first FAA-approved use of drones to carry revenue-generating products (More)
> Scientists find introduction of a molecule that blocks a metabolic enzyme slows aging, extends the lifespan of worms up to 45%; compound will be tested in mammals next (More)
> Researchers create wood-based, wearable membrane that generates electricity from the heat of the human body (More)
Business & Markets.
> Airplane manufacturing giant Airbus stock up 2% after winning order to sell 300 aircraft to China (More)
> Apple & Qualcomm split decisions over ongoing patent battle, setting up major trial scheduled for next month (More)
> Coworking space giant WeWork doubles revenue to $1.8B but loses $1.9B in 2018 (More) |  Spotify acquires another podcasting company - Parcast - to strengthen original content (More)

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Politics & World Affairs.
> European Parliament passes controversial online copyright package that allows news companies to "tax" news aggregators like Facebook and Google News for using their links (More)
> US State Department announces expansion of so-called "Mexico City policy", which prohibits US aid from going to groups that promote or provide abortions (More) | Utah bans abortion after 18 weeks, setting up likely court showdown (More)
> House Democrats pivot to health care, introduce legislative package shoring up Affordable Care Act (More) | Senate blocks vote on Green New Deal with 0-57 vote, with 43 Democrats voting 'present' (More)
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Etcetera.
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An interactive map of healthiest (and least healthy) American communities
NASA cancels the first-ever all-woman spacewalk because the spacesuits didn't fit
Google scientists give tips on how to search the internet better.

British Airways flight mistakes Scotland for Germany
Firefighters rescue dogs from burning building, perform CPR on pooches
...And this English bulldog is replacing the Cadbury bunny
Discount rental units in San Francisco now come with "no cooking" clauses.
Man shows off $250,000 Lamborghini, promptly crashes into wall.
 
Clickbait: Gwyneth Paltrow's daughter is calling her out over this picture
Historybook: HBD Quentin Tarantino (1963); RIP first human in space Yuri Gagarin (1968); HBD Mariah Carey (1970); Tenerife Airport Disaster, worst accident in aviation history kills 583 (1977).
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"There's a light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully it's not a freight train."
- Mariah Carey
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