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  • Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. One out of every six premature deaths in the world in 2015 — about 9 million — could be attributed to disease from toxic exposure, according to a major study released Thursday in the Lancet medical journal. The financial cost from pollution-related death, sickness and welfare is equally massive, the report says, costing some $4.6 trillion in annual losses — or about 6.2 percent of the global economy. “There’s been a lot of study of pollution, but it’s never received the resources or level of attention as, say, AIDS or climate change,” said epidemiologist Philip Landrigan, dean of global health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, and the lead author on the report. The report marks the first attempt to pull together data on disease and death caused by all forms of pollution combined.
  • Pittsburgh police arrested a woman Thursday after a parent teacher conference. >> Read more trending newsSuspect Daishonta Marie Williams, 29, allegedly waited for Pittsburgh King elementary school teacher Janice Davis Watkins after school Wednesday. Williams is accused of following Watkins in her car, throwing a brick at her car at a red light, dragging her out of the vehicle and assaulting her.  Williams is facing several charges, including aggravated assault and stalking.  Police are trying to identify a man who was with Williams at the time of the alleged attack.  PREVIOUS COVERAGE A teacher was attacked after class Wednesday: hit by a brick, dragged out of her car and assaulted.  That teacher is recovering after her kids said she was brutally attacked by the parents of a child who weren't happy with the way she handled a punishment. 'It's just ridiculous and it's horrible,' said Gerald Watkins, the victim's son. 'That's the way they teach their children to solve differences.' Pittsburgh King pre K-8 teacher Janice Davis Watkins was attacked Wednesday afternoon after her children said she took away one of her elementary school student's cellphone.  'There's 102 ways that you can deal with this situation and violence is not one of them,' Gerald Watkins said. Watkins' children said their mother held a conference with the student's parents Wednesday at school after the child allegedly bit their mother when she took away her cellphone Tuesday. They allege the parents of the child threatened her during the conference, then waited for her, following her from the school. >> Related: Teacher accused of sex with students in cemetery sentenced 'As soon as she hit the red lights, they got out,' Gerald Watkins said. 'They threw a brick through her car. They pulled her out and assaulted her.' Read more here.
  • This winter won’t likely bring any extreme snow or cold in New England, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Based on the conditions in the Pacific Ocean running cooler than average (also known as La Niña), which Deputy Director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center Mike Halpert said are similar to those observed last year, the forecast for this winter will likely be similar to last year’s. Halpert said a La Niña watch was issued in September and is likely to be upgraded to an advisory in about a month. A La Niña event is associated with cooler than average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. In a conference call, NOAA officials provided the organization's official winter outlook based on data collected throughout the year, computer model simulations and known patterns regarding La Niña winters. It presents what is likely to come in the next few months to help families, business and governments prepare. Temperature forecasts indicate New England doesn’t have a strong enough climate signal to indicate whether the winter will be colder or warmer than usual. 'In the past, we have had variable La Niña winters that have provided wetter and drier winters locally, so there isn't as reliable an expectation,' Boston 25 Meteorologist Shiri Spear explained. 'Other parts of the United States have more predictable outcomes.  But higher than average precipitation could improve drought conditions in coastal New England, Halpert noted. NOAA officials say these ‘probablistic’ forecasts can certainly change and New England’s location along climate lines can sway these changes further. 'At this point, the outlook for New England would tilt the odds toward warmer than average,' said Halpert. 'Our models are kind of waffling in that area, there's not a real strong signal. I don't think there's even a strong signal for less snow up in New England.' Less snow than average usually comes in La Nina winters, but the signal in New England is not as strong as other parts of the United States when it comes to indicating what will happen. 
  • The bloody tragedy that befell north Tulsa in 1921 has largely been ignored, even covered up, for decades. But as U.S. Senator James Lankford has pointed out, in 2021 the entire country will look at Tulsa and remember what some call the “race riot,” while others prefer the term “race massacre.” “The entire country’s gonna pause, and is gonna look at Tulsa a hundred years later, and to say ‘you had major race issues in 1921, is it better now in 2021?’ That is not an unreasonable question for the nation to ask,” Lankford told KRMG last week after a town hall meeting in north Tulsa. Also at that town hall was State Senator Kevin Matthews, who was in Washington, D.C. this week to meet with Sen. Lankford and discuss the upcoming centennial. “Senator Lankford and I want to be leaders in showing people that across party lines, across cultural lines, political and geographical lines, we can come together and tell this story, and turn that tragedy into triumph for us all,” Matthews told KRMG Thursday. He sees the centennial as an opportunity not just for discussing racial reconciliation, but also for helping develop the Greenwood area economically. “Young people would be able to participate by having t-shirts, and the other things that people would buy,” Matthews said. “Entertainment, food, restaurants, all of those things that come with tourism. It could be a spark for entrepreneurism and business.” He urges anyone interested in getting involved in the commemoration of the 1921 tragedy to visit the Tulsa Race Riot Centennial Commission web page.
  • The GOP push for a major tax reform bill in Congress took an important step forward on Thursday night, as the Senate approved a Republican budget outline for 2018, authorizing work on a tax reform bill that cannot be derailed by a filibuster, as President Donald Trump urged Congress to move quickly on a tax package. “Tonight we completed the first step to replacing our broken tax code,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Senate vote was 51-49, with only Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) breaking ranks, as he voted against the plan, saying he was standing up for “fiscal responsibility.” The vote was welcome news at the White House. “I will tell you, our country needs tax cuts,” the President said at the White House on Thursday afternoon, arguing tax relief would spur new economic growth in the United States on a large scale. “If we get this done, it will be historic,” the President said. “It will be bigger than any plan ever approved or – ever. It will be the biggest tax cuts in the history of our country.” President Trump: 'I think we have the votes for the budget' https://t.co/ZxIn3XEXMh — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 19, 2017 That point was repeated on almost an endless loop by GOP Senators during Senate debate on the budget outline for 2018. “This is the first step to getting us to pro-growth tax reform,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). “It’s been more than 30 years since we reformed the tax code,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). “We have more preferences and loopholes and deductions than we know what to do with.” “If we don’t get that done, then I don’t think we have another opportunity to pass a tax bill in the next four years,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). “This budget allows us to cut taxes,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), as few Senators dwelled on the fact that the GOP plan would allow their party’s tax plan to create $1.5 trillion in extra deficits over 10 years. 'Lower taxes and better jobs are good things for Americans.' – @SenJohnThune #TaxReform pic.twitter.com/cCv8k1HtQl — Senate Republicans (@SenateGOP) October 20, 2017 For some, that wasn’t enough. “We should cut everyone’s taxes, to make sure we cut taxes for the middle class,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who offered an amendment to allow for deficits to go up by $2.5 trillion over ten years. Paul’s change was soundly defeated on a vote of 93-7. While Republicans rallied around the budget plan, critics of President Trump denounced it during Senate debate, in no uncertain terms. “This is not a bad budget bill, this is a horrific budget bill,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Republicans’ budget is not a bad bill. It’s a horrific bill. — Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 20, 2017 GOP Congressional leaders must still sort out the differences between the budget outlines approved in the House and Senate, before starting on their effort for the first major tax reform plan since 1986. Some late changes made in the plan by Senate Republicans could pave the way for the House to simply accept the Senate version of the budget as early as next week, which would speed up the effort to begin debate on tax reform. As of now, the fine print of the GOP tax reform package remain a secret. Republicans want that to change in the next few weeks.