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Monkeypox

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Social media users shared a range of false claims this week. Here are the facts: An image purporting to show Ghislaine Maxwell with the judge who approved the FBI search warrant for Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate was manipulated by combining two unrelated photos. Monkeypox hasn't been detected in Georgia drinking water. A video of a speech by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was translated incorrectly to English. The World Health Organization Director-General is vaccinated against COVID-19, and scientists say a recent finding that Earth is spinning slightly faster is no cause for concern.

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Health officials say a central Illinois day care worker has monkeypox but that it has not spread to others at the center. They say the worker at the unidentified day care in the village of Rantoul is in isolation and doing well. Screening of children, other workers and their close contacts is underway. Julie Pryde, director of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, says officials hope there are no cases in children, but for all they know, "the employee could have gotten it from a kid.” Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Lauri Sanders says the Rantoul case is Illinois’ first monkeypox case linked to a day care.

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Social media users shared a range of false claims this week. Here are the facts: All ballots at a Detroit ballot counting site went through the necessary signature review process, and bags pictured on the floor of the facility contained election workers' belongings. A U.S. congressional bill would not turn current semi-automatic weapon owners into felons. Health experts and officials say monkeypox can be transmitted to anyone, not just gay and bisexual men, and immigrants are not receiving Social Security numbers at the U.S. border.

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Spain is struggling to curtail Europe's leading monkeypox outbreak since the disease spread beyond Africa. The southern European nation counts 4,942 cases and two men have died from the disease. Authorities and groups in the LGBTQ community are honing their campaigns to get vaccines to the most needy members of the most affected demographic so far. In the U.S. and Europe, the vast majority of monkeypox infections have happened in men who have sex with men. But experts warn that if the cases continue to rise they will inevitably spread to other groups like happened with AIDS/HIV. Given the dearth of vaccines, the focus is now on getting out the message that reducing sexual partners is critical.

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The U.S. has declared a public health emergency to bolster the federal response to the outbreak of monkeypox that already has infected more than 7,100 Americans. The announcement Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services frees up federal funding and resources to fight the virus, which may cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and pimple-like bumps on many parts of the body. Xavier Becerra is the head of HHS. He says the agency is ready to take the U.S. response “to the next level.”

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In a highly unusual move that has rattled Hollywood, Warner Bros. axed the “Batgirl” film planned for HBO Max, opting to shelve the $90 million film as the reorganized studio revamps its approach to streaming and DC Comics films. The studio ultimately decided the nearly completed “Batgirl” didn’t merit either a streaming debut or a theatrical release. Warner Bros. instead is choosing to entirely write off the film starring “In the Heights” star Leslie Grace as Batgirl and co-starring Michael Keaton (returning as Batman), J.K. Simmons and Brendan Fraser. Production wrapped in April.

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Asian shares are mostly higher as investors welcome encouraging economic data and quarterly earnings reports from big companies. Benchmarks rose Thursday across the region, including Japan, China, Australia and South Korea. The gains followed a strong rally on Wall Street. Jitters eased over the visit of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan after she left for South Korea and then later Japan, firm U.S. allies for decades. But analysts said some geopolitical risks remain, with China conducting military exercises near the self-ruled island that it claims as its own territory. Investors are also watching U.S. nonfarm payrolls for indications on hiring.

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The first grain ship to leave Ukraine under a Black Sea wartime deal has passed inspection in Istanbul and is heading on to Lebanon. Ukraine says 17 other vessels at its ports are loaded with grain and waiting permission to leave. There was no word yet, however, on when they could depart. Authorities said a joint civilian inspection team spent three hours Wednesday checking the cargo and crew on the ship Razoni. The wartime deal aimed to ease food security around the globe by creating a safe corridor across the Black Sea.

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A Christian flag that became the focus of a free speech battle that went to the Supreme Court has been taken down after briefly flying outside Boston City Hall. Wednesday's flag-raising took place three months after the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the the city discriminated against Harold Shurtleff and his Camp Constitution group because of his “religious viewpoint” when it refused permission for him to fly the banner on City Hall Plaza in 2017. The flag was up for about two hours before Camp Constitution took it down. The city has proposed new flag-raising rules.

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Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones says he now understands he was irresponsible to declare the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax, and he now believes it was “100% real.” The jury in Austin, Texas, began deliberating Wednesday how much the conspiracy theorist and Infowars host owes the parents of one of the children who were killed in the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut. Testimony wrapped up with Jones telling the jurors that any compensation above $2 million would sink his Texas-based company. Jones also acknowledged that he was wrong to push false claims that the massacre didn’t happen. The parents suing Jones testified Tuesday that an apology wouldn't suffice and that Jones must be held accountable. They are seeking at least $150 million.

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Some evacuation orders have been lifted for towns near a Northern California wildfire that has claimed at least four lives. Authorities on Wednesday said residents forced to flee the Siskyou County seat of Yreka and the town of Hawkinsville can return home but warned the fire remains a threat. The out-of-control blaze that began last Friday turned much of the hamlet of Klamath River to ash. Some residents are now picking through the burned out shells of their modest houses. Thunderstorms in recent days dumped much-needed rain but it also led to threats of mudslides in the fire-denuded areas. Wednesday's weather was drier but scorching temperatures remained.

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