Fox News 2024-03-16 16:05:34


Active shooter on the loose in Falls Township, Pennsylvania, police say multiple people shot

Police have issued a shelter-in-place order in Falls Township, Pennsylvania, amid reports of an active shooter and a carjacking.  

Falls Township police have told the public to abide by all instructions given and said more information will be released as it becomes available. 

“Police are asking residents to lock all doors and move to a central and secure location away from windows,” the Falls Township Police Department said. 

Authorities in neighboring Middletown Township said there have been confirmed shootings in Falls Township.

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“There are several gun shot victims and it is unknown at this time if they are targeted or random,” the Middletown Township Police Department said. “MTPD is monitoring our traffic and borders, and it does not seem that the shooter has entered our township limits.” 

Middletown Township police said this is a “fluid situation” and warned residents not to travel to Falls Township until further notice.

THIRD SUSPECT ARRESTED FOR PHILADELPHIA BUS STOP SHOOTING; FORUTH REMAINS AT LARGE

The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office said multiple law enforcement agencies are involved in an investigation.

“The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office and other law enforcement officials are assisting the Falls Township Police Department in an active police investigation and are urging residents in the township to shelter-in-place. Report any suspicious activity to 911,” the DA’s office said. 

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., who represents Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, said his office is monitoring the situation.

“There is an active shooter alert in Falls Township — we are monitoring a carjacking and a shooting in two sections of Falls Township,” Fitzpatrick posted on X. “I’m in touch with law enforcement officials as they pursue the suspect. More information to follow — please be alert of your surroundings and stay safe.” 

PHILADELPHIA POLICE ARREST TWO 18-YEAR-OLDS IN CONNECTION TO SEPTA BUS STOP SHOOTING, INJURING 8 STUDENTS

FOX 29 Philadelphia reported the shelter-in-place order went out after reports of multiple people shot and a carjacking.

Police sources told the outlet authorities responded to reports of people shot on Edgewood Lane and Viewpoint Lane in Falls Township.

Authorities have not yet confirmed the number of people wounded or the extent of their injuries.

A suspect is believed to have stolen a silver Honda CRV and may still be armed, FOX 29 reported.

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The Bucks County St. Patrick’s Day Parade was canceled due to the shelter-in-place order and several local businesses in the area have temporarily closed, the outlet reported. 

Falls Township is located about 28 miles northeast of Philadelphia.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Conservative actress fired from Disney blasts ‘unforgivable sin in Hollywood’

Gina Carano, the former star of the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian,” opened up about her public firing, the behind the scenes drama and the legal battle she is waging against Disney in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. 

Carano, who has right-libertarian-leaning views, although she resists labeling her politics, faced public backlash that ultimately resulted in her firing by Disney, because of tweets and Instagram posts on highly sensitive and divisive topics like COVID-19 vaccines, masking, Black Lives Matter, the transgender rights movement and the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

In the interview, she described the “unforgivable sin in Hollywood” as “a person who wouldn’t perfectly conform at a time when emotions were running wild in the world.” 

GINA CARANO OFFERS MOVING TRIBUTE TO LATE CARL WEATHERS, SAYS HE CALLED AFTER HER FIRING FROM ‘STAR WARS’

Now, Carano is suing The Walt Disney Company for “millions in lost income” over alleged wrongful termination and “discriminatory treatment” due to her political views. 

X Corp, which is owned by tech mogul Elon Musk, said it funded the suit as part of its “commitment to free speech” after the billionaire pledged to fund her legal bills if she was “unfairly treated by your employer due to posting or liking something on this platform [X].”

“I think it’s pretty incredible what he is doing,” Carano told The Hollywood Reporter. “A lot of billionaires put their money into buying islands and building bunkers. Elon Musk is using his money to fight massive injustice battles.” 

Her legal team argued, “Disney bullied Ms. Carano, trying to force her to conform to their views about cultural and political issues – when that bullying failed, they fired her.” 

Now, she is dishing out details about what happened behind the scenes amid public controversy, primarily prompted by her social media commentary that Disney considered problematic and offensive. 

GINA CARANO SAYS CO-STAR PEDRO PASCAL ADVISED HER TO ‘JUST PUT #TRANSRIGHTS IN YOUR FEED’ TO APPEASE FANS

Carano faced online backlash as a result of her controversial comments regarding pronouns in September 2020 when she put “boop/bop/beep” in her Twitter bio after fans asked her to show support for the transgender community. The actress said she wasn’t trying to insult the transgender community, noting: “I thought it was cute, like R2-D2.” 

The Lucasfilm and Disney HR department disagreed, subjecting Carano to what she called a “reeducation camp,” that included a Zoom meeting with two transgender representatives from GLAAD. She was also told she had to attend a Zoom meeting along with 45 members of Disney and Lucasfilm’s LGBTQ affinity group, which she said she declined.

“I said, ‘Can I take five or six of these trans leaders to dinner? I’ll pay for it,’ ” Carano told The Hollywood Reporter. “They denied that. They were very upset. They said the meeting would be a ‘litmus test.’ I’m not even sure what that means.” 

“Seriously? This was the start of the end for me? A 20-year career, the blood, sweat and tears of fighting? I never compromised myself for a job,” Carano said. “I never ended in a bad situation where I did anything inappropriate. I had a clean and clear climb to where I got to and was going to just keep going. And boop/bop/beep was that harmful?”

Fox News Digital reached out to Disney for comment, but did not hear back. 

Carano told The Hollywood Reporter that while she was facing controversy, Pascal, who has a trans sister, told her to “Just put #transrights in your feed. Do it and they’ll leave you alone.'”  

She said she didn’t take his advice, “Because that’s not my style, to put hashtag anything. I’m also not going to put #TrumpsRights.” 

“He [Pedro] knows 1,000 percent I’m not homophobic or transphobic,” she said. “He texted me after Carl Weathers [another star of The Mandalorian] passed away. We had our conversation, and it was beautiful.”

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“One thing he did say was, ‘Thank you. You and Carl Weathers have always been protectors.’ And he knows what that means, and I know what that means, and I wish I could tell why,” she added. “We basically left it at ‘I can’t wait to give you a big hug.’ ”

In February 2021, Carano faced public backlash for an Instagram post she shared that likened the experience of Jewish people during the Holocaust to the U.S. political divide.

“Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors…even by children. Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views,” read the post, which was originally created by another account.

Her post prompted a Twitter hashtag campaign, #FireGinaCarano, but she says the news of her termination was not relayed directly to her, only learning she was no longer employed by the company after they issued a public statement. She was also dropped by her agency, UTA, and her Hollywood law firm, Ziffren Brittenham. 

At the time of her firing, Lucasfilm and the “Star Wars” franchise, which are both operated under parent company Disney, said Carano’s social media posts “denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

But, Carano told The Hollywood Reporter that the meme “just made sense — don’t hate your neighbor.”

“Before the Nazis were as powerful as they became, you had to make it OK to hate this person next to you,” she added. “That’s how we get to dangerous places. And history does repeat itself.”

“It became very popular to hate me and pick on me,” Carano said. “The Hollywood press and major news outlets coupled me into this extreme right-wing thing that I am not.”

Now, Carano is speaking out over the cancelation. 

“You become unhirable,” Carano told The Hollywood Reporter. “And then it becomes OK for other people to disrespect you. And then you’re just carrying around this disrespect, and you’re shouldering all this shame, and it affects your physicality, your mentality. You’re just kind of hopeless. So to be able to fight back — it makes me feel like, ‘OK. That feels good.’ ”

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“If the unforgivable sin in Hollywood is being a person who wouldn’t perfectly conform at a time when emotions were running wild in the world, then that’s probably not a Hollywood I’ll ever belong to,” she said. “But I think once egos are put aside, Hollywood has the opportunity to grow just like we all do.” 

According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Disney has until April 9 to respond to the legal petition. So far, the company has issued only a single word regarding the lawsuit — though that word came from the top. When a CNBC journalist asked CEO Bob Iger if he had any comment on the matter, Iger responded, ‘None.’” 

Winner of Powerball’s second-largest jackpot worth $1.765B revealed

The Golden State with the golden ticket.

The California Lottery has revealed that a person has come forward to claim the massive $1.765 billion Powerball jackpot win from October – the second-largest jackpot prize in history.

Theodorus Struyck was named as the representative of a group of winners that purchased the winning ticket at a store in Frazier Park in Kern County ahead of the Oct. 11 draw. The mountain town has a population of about 3,000 people.

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It is unclear how many people are part of the group, but Struyck was described by locals as a 65-year-old man who lives only 500 yards from the store, a family run business called Midway Market.

“He adores his grandchildren,” Struyck’s neighbor Mary Dreier told the KGET. “He’s just really pleasant to have around. I noticed yesterday he put up that Posted: No Trespassing sign.”

Another neighbor, Rick Kotnik, told the outlet he often has long talks to Struyck about fishing, but he has no idea where his neighbor is now.

“If I knew I wouldn’t tell you,” Kotnik laughingly told KGET.

The winner’s name and the name of the store are required to be made public under state law. In other states such as Arizona, Georgia and New Jersey, big lottery winners are permitted to stay anonymous. 

Midway Market received a $1 million bonus check for selling the lucky ticket. 

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Nidal “Andy” Khalil, the co-owner, said he initially didn’t believe the store sold the winning ticket.

“I did not believe it at first and then I started getting calls and text messages from friends and realized it was true,” Khalil previously told Fox 11.

The win is second only to Edwin Castro’s $2.04 billion haul scooped in November 2022, also in California. Castro took home a $997.6 million lump sum – before taxes. 

California Lottery players have won, or co-won, the top four-largest  jackpots in Powerball history dating back to 2016 – all worth more than $1 billion, the California Lottery said. 

The October jackpot win came during the 36th draw for that Powerball sequence, a run that raised an additional $119.5 million for public schools, the California Lottery said. 

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“Announcing big wins like this gives all of our players the chance to hope and dream that they could be next,” said Harjinder K. Shergill Chima, the director of the California Lottery Director. 

“But it also gives us an opportunity to shine the spotlight on our terrific mission, which is to generate additional, supplemental funding for public education in California. So, it’s students of all ages across the state, who win everyday thanks to our players, our retail partners who sell these fun games, and our hard-working staff here at the Lottery. This is an exciting day for all of us!”

Meanwhile, the Mega Millions jackpot now sits at an estimated $875 million after no tickets matched the winning numbers during Friday’s drawing.

Residents left to pick up the pieces after twisters flatten homes, leave 3 dead in Ohio

LAKEVIEW, Ohio – A deadly severe weather outbreak swept across the Southern Plains and Midwest into the Ohio Valley on Thursday, spawning at least 20 tornadoes and leaving trails of damage across multiple states.

Three people have been killed in one tornado in Ohio, while dozens were injured in a tornado in Indiana, according to local and state officials.

Deadly tornado sweeps through Northern Ohio

The three deaths in Ohio occurred when a tornado tore through Logan County on Thursday night, according to Chief Deputy Joe Kopus with the sheriff’s office. 

Heavy damage was also reported throughout Lakeview, Midway, Orchard Island and Russel’s Point. 

As of Saturday morning, Logan County authorities said search and rescue had been completed as crews begin to move into the recovery phase.

“The area is still very dangerous,” officials said in a joint statement with the Logan County EMA and Logan County Sheriff’s Office. “We urge caution to everyone. Damage assessments will begin tomorrow (Sunday).”

The National Weather Service said at least nine tornadoes struck Ohio, with the Logan County twister being the strongest at an EF-3.

“We’re heartbroken by the devastation that’s come upon the Indian Lake community in the last several hours,” said Logan County Commissioner Joe Antram, who said he is a lifelong resident of the community. “We very much appreciate the fact that there’s been such an outreach — not just in the local community in Indian Lake and the county, but in fact many counties around us, and we appreciate the gesture.”

Nearby Mercer County also sustained tornado damage, with emergency management reporting at least 3 injuries.

“We have several homes damaged,” Mercer County Emergency Management Director Mike Robbins told FOX Weather. 

PowerOutage.us reported nearly 20,000 electrical outages in Ohio at the height of the storm, with many occurring between the Interstate 70 and 90 corridors.

A tornado that struck New Washington, Ohio caused extensive damage to homes and power poles along its 10-mile path from Crawford County into Richland County, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland. The agency rated the storm an EF-2 with estimated wind speeds of 120 mph. 

Another tornado – this one rated EF-1 – damaged five homes and several farm buildings in Hancock County near Orange Township, the NWS said.

Dozens injured in Indiana tornado

Another tornado tore through the town of Winchester, Indiana, leaving 38 injured, but so far no deaths, according to Randolph County Emergency Management. Twelve of the injured required hospitalization, but locals consider it a miracle that no one was killed.

Urban search and rescue teams are on the scene helping first responders in searching damaged structures, but there are no reports of anyone missing.

The NWS office in Indianapolis surveyed of the some damage and determined that winds speeds reached 155-165 mph, making the twister an EF-3.

“We’re in the basement, we hear the (tornado) sirens go off and we hear a freight train,” said Lydia Carpenter. “Everyone says it sounds like a freight train and we could hear it. It was crazy.”

Winchester Community High School was not damaged during the storms and was opened for victims.

“Winchester – we were a beautiful town and will be a beautiful town again, we just need all the help we can get,” Carpenter said.

Nearby Delaware County reported that at least 50% of structures in the town of Selma were damaged, but there were no reports of life-threatening injuries.

“Janet and I send our deepest condolences and prayers to the loved ones of those impacted by tonight’s storms and the Hoosiers in the path of destruction,” Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said in a statement. “The people of Winchester are resilient and should know the state will walk alongside and support them as we pick up the pieces and rebuild.”

Video shows tornado crossing Ohio River

A supercell that rolled through southern Indiana and northern Kentucky produced at least one tornado caught on video as it crossed the Ohio River near Madison, Indiana.

Local National Weather Service offices issued Tornado Warnings for the thunderstorm. According to PowerOutage.us, at least 5,000 customers in the immediate area lost electricity.

Photos and video from the region showed debris being lofted by the twister. Damage was reported in the towns of Milton and Carrollton along the Ohio River in Kentucky.

The NWS office in Louisville dispatched a team of meteorologists to Milton, Kentucky, to assess damage and determine how strong the tornado was on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

According to the team, some damage was consistent with an EF-2 tornado with winds greater than 110 mph.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency after the severe storms and reported more than 100 buildings suffered damage.

Indiana State Police deployed to Jefferson County in the southern part of the state said multiple homes were damaged between Hanover and Madison and encouraged drivers to avoid the region.

Several patrol cars were also said to have been damaged by hailstones the size of baseballs.

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Hundreds of storm reports stretched over 1,000 miles

Aside from the tornadoes, millions were under threat of severe weather throughout Thursday evening and night. 

The National Weather Service issued over 90 Tornado Warnings and 350 Severe Thunderstorm Warnings across 11 states, stretching over 1,000 miles from Texas to Pennsylvania.

Amid the storms, spotters reported 342 instances of severe-weather events, including at least eight tornadoes and 120 reports of damaging wind gusts.

Wednesday damage reports

Thursday’s outbreak came on the heels of a rather stormy Wednesday too, when around 100 reports of severe weather were recorded by the National Weather Service, making it now the fifth-most active day of 2024. In Alma, Kansas, a report of softball-sized hail (4 inches in diameter) tied the largest hail report of the year so far.

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FOX Weather Storm Trackers were also in the right place at the right time and captured video of a supercell producing a large tornado outside of the town of Alta Vista in northeastern Kansas. There were no reports of significant damage, but about 200 customers in the rural area experienced a power outage.

Woman’s life saved after full-body scan detects deadly condition with no symptoms

As some doctors say, “If you look, you will find.”

In August 2023, Mary Ann Waldron, a healthy Arizona woman, decided to undergo an elective MRI full-body scan at a SimonMed Imaging facility, never expecting to find anything serious.

She was shocked when the scan detected a large aneurysm in her pancreas area, ultimately saving her life.

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Today, a strong proponent of full-body scans as a preventative measure, Waldron is eager to share her story as a cautionary tale for others.

“I believe we each need to take responsibility for our health,” she told Fox News Digital. “I’m more than 70 years old, and despite being asymptomatic, I wanted to learn if I had any early-stage cancers.”

Dr. Brett Osborn, a Florida neurologist and longevity expert, also recognizes the benefits of full-body MRI scans.

“Full-body scanning, mainly through MRI, presents a significant advancement in modern medicine’s diagnostic capabilities,” he told Fox News Digital. (He was not involved in Waldron’s care.) 

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“MRI technology allows for a comprehensive, noninvasive examination of the body to detect a wide range of conditions, including cancer and vascular malformations like aneurysms, without the need for potentially harmful X-rays, as is the case with CT scans.”

Life-saving discovery

The results of Waldron’s scan indicated that there “may be an aneurysm.” A follow-up CT scan of her abdomen and pancreas was then recommended.

“If in fact I had an aneurysm, then this was life-threatening, as death is imminent when an aneurysm bursts, unless the person is already in an operating suite,” said Waldron.

Dr. Barry Sadegi, SimonMed’s chief medical officer in Scottsdale, Arizona, emphasized the danger of Waldron’s condition.

“Pancreaticoduodenal artery aneurysms are extremely rare, representing only 2% of all splanchnic (abdominal organ) aneurysms,” he told Fox News Digital.

“The majority (64%) of patients who seek treatment present after the aneurysm has ruptured.”

Aneurysm rupture can be life-threatening, Sadegi confirmed, as it results in abdominal bleeding.

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In many cases, there are no symptoms of an aneurysm, which was the case for Waldron.

“And because I had no prior imaging studies of this area for comparison, there was no way to know how long this aneurysm had been present or for how much longer it would exist before bursting,” she added.

Once doctors confirmed that Waldron had an aneurysm, she was referred to a vascular surgeon, who determined that she would need immediate surgery.

“We scheduled the procedure and were advised to drive from Sedona to Chicago, as the risk of flying with changes in pressure was dangerous,” she said. “The size and location of my aneurysm was unusually large and uncommon.”

Waldron underwent an angiogram of the mesenteric artery (a major artery of the abdomen). The surgeon performed an embolization of the aneurysm, placing several titanium wires to block the artery and close off the sac of the aneurysm, preventing further blood flow and bursting. 

Today, Waldron is feeling healthy and is back to her regular routines.

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“It is now necessary for me to take daily blood thinners, which make me susceptible to bruising, but other than that I am feeling well,” she told Fox News Digital.

“I have resumed my usual activities of golf, swimming and walking.”

Waldron will continue to see her doctor every six months for the next couple of years for ultrasounds of the stented area.

“This was a truly life-saving surgery,” she said. 

“Generally, early detection enables early intervention, which provides the best opportunity for successful resolution. In my case, the detection was not early in the formation of the aneurysm, but was early enough to correct it.”

She added, “I believe these scans can detect abnormalities at an early stage, helping us prolong our lives — and certainly the quality of our lives.”

Focus on preventative health care

The majority of the U.S. health care system is reactive rather than proactive, Sadegi stated — “more focused on treating illness after it develops rather than preventing it.”

The scan, he said, is a means of empowering patients who want to take an active role in their disease prevention.

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“Although the American College of Radiology does not currently recommend MRI whole-body screening for the general population, many SimonONE patients have similar stories in which the scan resulted in very positive health outcomes,” he said.

Some of the conditions that SimonMed’s scans have discovered have included other aneurysms, severe arterial stenoses in the neck and head, and masses in the brain, pituitary gland, neck, thyroid, mediastinum, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, lymph nodes, bladder, endometrium and prostate gland, said Sadegi.

Potential risks and limitations

Because the MRI scans don’t use ionizing radiation, Sadegi said the test itself is low-risk.

There is the risk of overdiagnosis, however, as Osborn noted.

“This is where benign conditions are detected and treated unnecessarily, leading to undue stress, further testing, and potentially unnecessary interventions and their inevitable complications,” he told Fox News Digital.

“These studies are imperfect,” he told Fox News Digital. “Is the patient ready to deal with a positive finding? Often, it’s unclear whether a lesion is benign or malignant. And then what? Are these studies worth the ‘risk’ at this point?”

He added, “I defer to my patients and allow them to make an informed decision. To me, however, the benefits far outweigh the risks.”

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In Waldron’s case, she was OK with the risks.

“Because there can be false positives, one may argue that there is unnecessary expense in the whole-body scan and unnecessary radiation in the follow-up studies that confirm there are no issues,” she said.

“I defer to my patients and allow them to make an informed decision. To me, however, the benefits far outweigh the risks.”

“But this, in my opinion, is a minor trade-off for the peace of mind one achieves either knowing all is well or knowing what needs to be addressed.”

This type of scan also has some limitations.

It does not screen for blood-borne tumors, such as leukemia, or for skin tumors, such as melanoma or basal cell carcinoma, according to Sadegi. It also might not detect smaller nodules in the lungs.

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The scan is also not ideal for detecting musculoskeletal conditions involving bones or joints.

Sadegi said it cannot replace colonoscopies for colon or rectal screenings; and mammography and MRI of the breasts are more sensitive for breast cancer.

Barriers to care

Right now, given the associated costs, most insurance carriers do not cover a full-body MRI, Osborn pointed out.

“The numbers don’t make sense to them,” he said. “It’s simply a matter of dollars and cents. Many scans, at significant cost, would have to be performed to save one life … This is the ‘business’ of medicine and one of the main reasons why, historically speaking, insurance companies have not embraced preventive care.”

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That could change in the future, he said.

“As consumer interest in preventive care soars — and people want to live longer, healthier lives — it may be the driver of change.”

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Rep. Nancy Mace spars with Bill Maher, explains her shift towards Trump

“Real Time” host Bill Maher offered a friendly warning to Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., about a certain viewer who might have listened to her comments about certifying the 2020 election as vice president. 

She also sparred with Maher, explaining her general shift towards former President Trump this way: “We’ve had three years of Joe Biden.” “Wow, that bad huh?” Maher quipped. “It’s been that bad,” the Republican doubled down.

Mace has been among the high-profile Republicans earning buzz in recent months as potential candidates to be former President Trump’s running mate in 2024. 

During a panel discussion Friday night, Mace touted that she had voted to certify the 2020 election after Maher mocked “Trumper” Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake for calling the question of certifying the election as vice president a “hypothetical.”

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“Let me ask that of you,” Maher said to Mace. “If you were the vice president on January 6th, would you have done what Mike Pence did that made Trump so angry?”

“I certified the Electoral College in every single state,” Mace responded. “I mean, that was the right thing to do, the constitutional thing to do. And I would do it again, 100 percent. 100 percent.”

“That’s great,” Maher replied. 

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Maher then added, “I must warn you, Donald Trump sometimes ‘accidentally’ watches this show.”

“I hope he’s watching tonight! I hope he’s watching tonight,” Mace exclaimed.

“He won’t be happy with that answer,” Maher told her. 

“Here’s the thing Bill, Republicans need more independent-minded voters to win in November,” Mace said. “We can’t just have this binary Republican, Democrat- we independent-minded people. My district is 40% unaffiliated independent voters and Republicans need those people to win in November in the general election. Those are just the facts.”

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Earlier in the conversation, Maher grilled Mace, a once outspoken critic of Trump following Jan. 6 who offered her endorsement of the former president in January. 

“You did switch on Trump,” Maher said. “You said, ‘How do we hold the president accountable? We need to find a way to hold the president accountable. His entire legacy was wiped out yesterday. We got to start over. We got to rebuild our nation and rebuild our party.’ That’s not where you are now.”

“Well, we’ve had three years of Joe Biden,” Mace responded.

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“Wow, that bad huh?” Maher quipped. 

“It’s been that bad,” Mace doubled down. “I had an independent voter call me two mornings ago early in the morning and he said, ‘I voted for Trump in 16 but I did not vote for president in 20. I didn’t like the options.’ And then he says to me, ‘We can’t have four more years of Joe Biden.’ And I think there are a lot of people out there that would agree. And he cited the endless wars that are going on right now that didn’t happen under Trump.” 

She concluded, “We had Russia invading Ukraine. We have Biden giving billions of dollars to Iran to fund terrorism around the world. All these things- we have inflation, we have over 8 million illegal immigrants who have come across the southern border.”

FDA warns of overdose risks associated with taking non-opioid drug as painkiller

As the U.S. weathers its fourth wave of the opioid epidemic crisis, more people are turning to non-opioids — including a natural remedy known as kratom — to combat their pain.

Yet medical examiners and coroners have found that kratom caused 1.5% to 1.7% of overdose deaths between Jan. 2020 and Dec. 2022. 

That’s according to data from the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS) that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared with Fox News Digital.

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Here’s a closer look at this important issue.

What is kratom? 

“Kratom is derived from the leaves of a Mitragyna speciosa, a Southeast Asian tree found in Malaysia and Thailand,” Lori Karan, M.D., professor of internal and preventive medicine at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, told Fox News Digital.

The leaves of the tree have more than 40 different active compounds; the most primary is mitragynine, 7-hydroxymitragynine and speciofoline. 

The plant is thought to have dual properties.

It produces a stimulant effect at low doses, and an opioid-like analgesic effect when taken in higher amounts, according to Dr. Richard Clark, medical director of the San Diego division of the California Poison Control System.

“It has activity at opioid receptors in the brain (like opioid analgesics), and for that reason has been used as either a substitute for opioid analgesics or a tool to improve symptoms of opioid withdrawal,” Clark told Fox News Digital.

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Americans most commonly use kratom for self-treatment of chronic pain and to help battle opioid withdrawal symptoms, he said.

The drug is banned in six states — Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin — although people can still buy products prepared from kratom leaves online and in stores across the U.S.

“There are currently no specific laws against possession of kratom in the United States,” Clark noted.

Approximately two million Americans aged 12 and older used kratom in the past year, according to a 2022 national survey on drug abuse.

“There are no drug products containing kratom or its two main chemical components that are legally on the market in the U.S.,” according to the website of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

“FDA has not approved any prescription or over-the-counter drug products containing kratom or its two main chemical components, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-OH-mitragynine).”

Potential risks of kratom

While vendors may advertise kratom as safe and “all natural,” the composition can vary widely and may not accurately reflect the product labeling, experts caution.

It’s uncommon for kratom to cause major toxic effects, but when people ingest large amounts or combine it with other drugs, they may experience hallucinogenic reactions, convulsions, coma and, in rare cases, death, Clark warned.

“There is also a potential for individuals to develop dependence and withdrawal with heavy kratom use,” he said.

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Other side effects may include nausea, dizziness, confusion and tremors, according to Karan.

“Despite U.S. Food & Drug Administration warnings of the risks of kratom use, the agency continues to receive concerning reports of adverse events associated with its use by the public,” an FDA spokesperson told Fox News Digital.

“The FDA has also warned consumers not to use kratom because of the risk of serious adverse events, including liver toxicity, seizures and substance use disorder (SUD).”

Kratom’s role in overdose deaths 

Among the 144,189 overdose deaths between 2020 and 2022, kratom was “detected” in 2,966 cases, according to the SUDORS report, which means some amount of the substance was detected in post-mortem toxicology testing, whether or not it was a cause of death.

(The SUDORS report includes data from 30 states and Washington, D.C.)

Kratom was “involved” in the deaths of 2,343 cases, which means medical examiners and coroners listed it as a cause of death.

When kratom is found in post-mortem testing in overdose cases, the deaths almost always occur as a result of multiple medications — not just kratom, experts say.

“Most fatal overdoses occur in persons who have consumed other substances in addition to kratom.”

“Most fatal overdoses occur in persons who have consumed other substances in addition to kratom,” Karan told Fox News Digital. 

In many cases, people were also taking fentanyl, alcohol or medication for anxiety or depression.

Advocates speak out against claims

The American Kratom Association, based in Virginia, supports the right of Americans to consume kratom in a safe and responsible way.

Advocates for kratom noted that the substance was found in a small minority of more than 300,000 lethal overdoses in the study.

“Research shows that virtually every death associated with the consumption of kratom involved polydrug use, which is not surprising given that many afflicted with drug use disorders have found kratom helps them to wean off more dangerous drugs,” Mac Haddow, senior fellow on public policy at the American Kratom Association, told Fox News Digital.

“While it is possible that a consumer could harm themselves by abusing kratom products, like most consumer products already on the market, those occasions are both rare and not related to the safety profile of kratom when it is responsibly consumed,” he added.

The FDA also said that it’s rare for deaths to occur from kratom use alone, and that these deaths usually occur in combination with other drug use, concluding that “the contribution of kratom in the deaths is unclear,” as stated on its website.

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Cornel N. Stanciu, M.D., director of addiction services at New Hampshire Hospital and assistant professor of psychiatry at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, told Fox News Digital that to her knowledge, there have been no deaths in which kratom was the only involved substance.

The doctor is currently working on a paper examining overdoses that are attributed to kratom by medical examiners.

“So far, what I am seeing is that there is tremendous variability in reporting and testing,” Stanciu said.

Comprehensive testing is lacking among medical examiners, she noted, with most labs not testing for active metabolites of kratom after someone dies. 

“Second — and more concerning — I am seeing that even when more toxic substances are found, some may still call it a kratom-only death,” she cautioned. 

Calls for regulation in testing 

Haddow from the American Kratom Association claimed there is “rampant misinformation” associated with kratom risks — and argues for standardized toxicology testing protocols to better determine the substance’s role in overdoses.  

On Feb. 8, he noted, the U.S. District Court for Southern California requested that the FDA present supporting evidence that kratom is dangerous.

“The FDA refused to attend the hearing and the U.S. attorney explained to the court that the FDA ‘has not yet determined whether kratom is dangerous,’” he told Fox News Digital.

When contacted for comment, the FDA told Fox News Digital that it “does not comment on possible, pending or ongoing litigation.”

The FDA recently conducted a human dose-finding study, which found that no significant adverse events occurred when participants took kratom, even at high doses, Haddow claimed. 

“The FDA has warned consumers not to use kratom because of the risk of serious adverse events, including liver toxicity, seizures and substance use disorder.”

The finding, which the FDA presented at a scientific conference in February 2024, was that “kratom appears to be well-tolerated at all dose levels,” Haddow added.

“The FDA’s current pilot study on dose-finding was conducted in a small sample and is still blinded,” an FDA spokesperson noted, cautioning that the data is preliminary and unvalidated.

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“We need to wait until final analysis to draw any definitive conclusion or interpretation of the results,” the FDA spokesperson added.

“Ultimately, we anticipate that the data in this pilot will be informative and can support future studies of botanical kratom.”

One of the FDA’s top priorities as part of its Overdose Prevention Framework is to protect the public from the risks of unapproved drug substances, including kratom, the agency told Fox News Digital.

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“We will continue to collaborate with federal partners to engage proactively in meaningful research to advance science-based, regulatory decision-making,” the FDA spokesperson said.

“As new scientific and validated knowledge emerge that is based on rigorously designed studies, the agency will update the public.”

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

Legal analyst warns Fani Willis’ case against Trump is ‘going nowhere’

Jeffrey Toobin, a former CNN legal analyst, returned to the network on Friday and argued that the Georgia case against Donald Trump was “going nowhere,” and said it had been a “very good day for Donald Trump.”

Toobin, a former federal prosecutor, and Gwen Keyes, a former district attorney in DeKalb County, Georgia, joined CNN’s Elie Honig and Anderson Cooper on Friday to discuss the election interference case against Trump in Georgia. 

“Today was a very good day for Donald Trump,” Toobin said during his media appearance. “This case is going nowhere.”

“In the extremely unlikely event that this somehow staggers to trial in August or in the fall. Think about this: There‘s another racketeering case in Georgia where jury selection, not the trial. Jury selection has taken a year. This case is never going to trial before the election,” he continued. “It’s an embarrassment, all of this. Fani Willis has hung on, but this case is going nowhere very quickly.” 

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Gwen Keyes, a former district attorney in DeKalb County, Georgia, said she respectfully disagreed with Toobin.

“I do think that there is enough evidence to go forward. I think that particularly the timing in this case, while we’ve had one racketeering case that has taken a long time to go to a jury, that’s an anomaly. In my 17 years as a state prosecutor. I’ve never seen it take 10 or 12 months to get a jury. And in the last RICO case that I’m aware of D.A. Willis taking to trial – with 12 defendants – she was able to get a jury in about four weeks. So, I think that’s the precedent that we should be looking at,” Keyes said. 

A Georgia judge ruled on Friday that Willis must either step aside from the case against Trump, or fire special prosecutor Nathan Wade. Willis was accused of having an improper romantic relationship that she attempted to cover up with special counsel on the case, Nathan Wade.

Wade resigned shortly after the ruling. 

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Cooper asked Honig if the ruling was going to hurt her trial. 

“Absolutely,” he said. “She survived, I don’t think she won, but she survived and that’s the most important practical bottom-line. She‘s still on the case. But Fani Willis’ credibility is in tatters in a way that I‘ve never seen from any prosecutor. She’s now been reprimanded twice by two separate judges and the language, in this opinion, you never see this.” 

“I mean, the judge said there are seven or eight attacks on her credibility, founded by the record. He said there are reasonable questions about whether the DA testified untruthfully. That means the judge is saying there’s a realistic probability the district attorney got on the witness stand and committed perjury,” Honig said. 

Toobin chimed in again on the state of the trail and quipped it was “so far behind,” that it would occur in the presidency of Malia Obama. 

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Toobin, known in recent years for his embarrassing 2020 masturbation snafu, has appeared on CNN nearly a dozen times since the beginning of the year to provide commentary on various legal hot topics like former President Trump’s ongoing indictments, Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report on President Biden and more recently the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to toss Colorado’s Trump ballot ban. 

He has most frequently appeared on “Anderson Cooper 360,” making five appearances on that program since early February, according to Grabien transcripts. He has also appeared on CNN programs like “Laura Coates Live,” “The Source with Kaitlan Collins,” “CNN Newsnight” and “CNN This Morning.” A former legal analyst for the network, he is simply introduced as a “former federal prosecutor.” 

Fox News’ Brian Flood and Joseph Wulfsohn contributed to this report.

Drug gang members arrested after cops foil scheme to bring cocaine into nightclubs

Officials in Thailand discovered hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cocaine, allegedly smuggled in from the U.S. in clothing racks, according to local media reports. 

The secretary general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board in Bangkok, Police Lt. Gen. Phanurat Lakboon, said in a press conference earlier this month that officials arrested three Nigerian men after seizing 5,360 grams of cocaine from a flight that originated in the U.S. and landed in Bangkok, Thai newspaper Khaosod reported. 

The cocaine is worth an estimated 16 million Thai baht, or roughly $450,000, according to local reports.  

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The bust was initially spurred by the Customs Department’s Airport Interdiction Task Force at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on March 7. 

The three Nigerian suspects were reportedly waiting to collect the clothing racks after the shipment landed in Thailand and made its way through customs. The cocaine was concealed in the clothes racks’ metal pipes, photos show. 

Officials said the suspects are involved in a gang that sells drugs and is allegedly involved in human trafficking on Soi Nana Road in Bangkok, the Bangkok Post reported. 

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The Office of the Narcotics Control Board recently began cracking down on illegal activity along the road, according to the outlet. 

The drugs found in the clothes racks were intended to be sold in nightclubs to locals and tourists, according to media reports. 

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The identities of the three suspects have not been released. They are in police custody and allegedly linked to at least four other cases involving illegal cocaine and ecstasy pills. The suspects have reportedly colluded with a Western African gang since 2020 to bring illicit drugs into Thailand. 

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Bangkok has a lively party scene, including multiple red-light districts and clubs that attract both locals and tourists from around the world. The city is often listed alongside cities such as Ibiza, Las Vegas and São Paulo for best party scene and nightlife.