February 21, 2019: What to Know 

  • Bingo Barnes
  • Pope Francis opened a historic summit at the Vatican early today calling for "concrete and effective measures" to address the the sexual abuse of children, an issue that has eroded faith in some corners of the Roman Catholic Church while being ignored and denied in others. The New York Times says the conference will amount to a kind of "crash course" for church leaders on how to handle abuse cases—and aim to convince some members of the clergy that the problem exists at all.
  • Actor Jussie Smollett turned himself in to authorities overnight and was charged with a felony count of filing a false report. The Empire co-star reported a hate crime last month, insisting that he had been attacked in downtown Chicago by masked men who shouted homophobic and racial slurs. Variety reports that investigators had difficulty corroborating Smollett's account from the beginning.
  • City of Boise officials announced Wednesday the addition of eight acres of land for Foothills open space protection. The new parcel extends the Hillside to Hollow Reserve north and west of Harrison Hollow Lane. If approved by City Council, the city will purchase the parcel from Healthwise for about $435,000. The city already owns and manages 258 acres of the reserve, which is extremely popular with hikers.

  • CNN reports that the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that if states don't require more schoolchildren to get vaccinated, the federal government might have to step in. "If certain states continue down the path that they're on, I think they're going to force the hand of the federal health agencies," said Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

  • A Japanese spacecraft is scheduled to touch down on a distant asteroid sometime today. It will then shoot a bullet into the space rock in order to capture a sample that will eventually be returned to earth. NBC News says the Hayabusa2 probe has already voyaged 2 billion miles.

  • A group of scientists say they think they've solved the mystery of why zebras have stripes. The Atlantic reports that the research indicates stripes deter bloodsucking flies.

  • Once a year, The Hollywood Reporter convinces a voting member of the Motion Picture Academy to reveal his or her Oscar ballot, as long as they remain anonymous. This year's ballot came from a male member of the Academy's directors branch. He calls ROMA "just an expensive home movie," won't be bothered with watching all of the performances from the acting nominees, and will not be watching the ceremony, which he calls "idiotic."
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