5 things to know for March 27: Jussie Smollett, vaccines, Israel, Boeing, climate

Lack of a medium-sized spacesuit has forced the cancellation of the first all-female spacewalk. CNN's Jeanne Moos reports.

Posted: Mar 27, 2019 9:40 AM
Updated: Mar 27, 2019 9:40 AM

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1. Jussie Smollett

It's a plot twist even "Empire" couldn't come up with. All 16 felony charges against actor Jussie Smollett -- who'd been accused of staging a hate crime against himself -- were dropped by Chicago prosecutors, in a shock move that angered the city's mayor and police chief. What's more, Smollett's criminal record was wiped clean and records in the case were sealed, all in exchange for Smollett doing some community service and forfeiting his $10,000 bond. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson were livid. They blasted Smollett and the county attorney's office. Emanuel repeatedly called it a "whitewash of justice."

Smollett said he'd been vindicated and had "been truthful and consistent" from the start. Emanuel and Johnson still say the whole hate crime claim was a hoax. Even a prosecutor said he still believes Smollett lied, but prosecutors otherwise said little about why the case against the actor was tossed, leading to a host of questions, including these six. Lost track of all the dizzying turns in this story? Click here to recap and follow the latest updates here.

2. Vaccinations

Starting today, if you live in Rockland County, New York, you're under the age of 18 and you're not vaccinated, you're banned from public places. This "extremely unusual" step, which might be the first of its kind in the nation, is part of an effort by county officials to deal with a measles outbreak that started back in October. So far, 153 cases have been confirmed in the county, just north of New York City. Measles is a highly contagious virus that is prevented with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, but county health officials said they've met "resistance" from people who might need to be vaccinated.

3. Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country is "prepared to do a lot more" after hitting Hamas targets in Gaza. Militants in Gaza fired more than 60 rockets into Israel this week. Israel's defense forces responded with dozens of airstrikes on targets in Gaza. It's the sharpest escalation in violence in Israel since the start of the year and comes just weeks after rockets were fired at central Israel for the first time in almost five years. By last night, things seemed to have calmed down, at least temporarily. A senior Hamas official has told CNN that Hamas wants to secure a long-term ceasefire agreement for Gaza, with hope of easing Israel's blockade, which severely restricts Gazans moving in and out of the coastal strip, as well as controlling the entry of goods.

4. Boeing 737 Max 8

A Boeing 737 Max 8 plane made an emergency landing yesterday in Florida. There were no passengers on the aircraft, which is part of the fleet that was grounded after two deadly crashes. The plane was being ferried from Orlando to California for short-term storage when pilots reported "a performance issue" with an engine right after takeoff. It's not clear if the emergency landing was related to suspected problems with the 737 Max 8s' automated anti-stall system. The global fleet of 737 Max jets was grounded indefinitely after fatal crashes involving the planes in October and this month.

5. Climate change

The Arctic community that's home to the "doomsday vault" may be warming faster than any other town on Earth. Longyearbyen, Norway, is the world's northernmost town, just 800 miles from the North Pole. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault -- where copies of crop seeds are stored in case of global catastrophe -- is located there. But the climate in Longyearbyen is heating up faster there than anywhere else, a Norwegian researcher says, because of accelerated Arctic warming: warmer temps reduce ice and snow cover, causing less sunlight to be reflected and more solar energy to be absorbed. So the vault, which was supposed to be an insurance policy of sorts against disasters like climate change, is being threatened by climate change itself.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Perfect timing, guys

It comes way too late to help the Saints, but the NFL has OK'd a rule change that makes pass interference calls reviewable.

Love yourself

Justin Bieber is stepping away from music for a bit to focus on his mental health, saying he's dealing with "deep rooted issues."

Can you hear me know?

Got an iPhone? Then you need to check out the massive update that Apple just pushed out to fix some security flaws, like the one affecting your phone's mic.

Book club

Need Oprah to fix your life? The media icon clears the path to your ultimate happiness in her new book.

Art class

Meet the Texas teacher who let her grade school students draw on her white dress, which she then wore as a work of art.

TODAY'S NUMBERS

$270 million

That's what Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, will pay Oklahoma to settle a lawsuit that accused the drugmaker of aggressively marketing the painkiller and helping fuel the opioid epidemic

nearly 10 million

The sales tally for Michelle Obama's book, "Becoming," making the former first lady's memoir one of the most popular books of the decade

TODAY'S QUOTE

"You don't want the astronauts fighting against their spacesuit."

NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz, explaining why the space agency postponed the first all-female spacewalk -- which had been set for Friday -- because there weren't enough spacesuits at the International Space Station that fit women.

TODAY'S WEATHER

AND FINALLY

Generation gap

Get a heartwarming, "Waltons"-style vibe after watching these kids try their grandparents' fave foods from childhood. (Click to view.)

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1694651

Reported Deaths: 48335
CountyCasesDeaths
Queens2184108926
Kings2182459258
Suffolk1664973125
Nassau1526462956
Bronx1490725955
Westchester1103302125
New York1075853980
Erie668181618
Richmond589101605
Monroe53391998
Rockland39673896
Orange38194730
Onondaga32798636
Dutchess23006413
Albany21239335
Oneida19928481
Niagara15554316
Broome15461339
Saratoga12245149
Schenectady11039178
Ulster10331232
Rensselaer9233132
Putnam856586
Chautauqua7443126
Chemung6481130
Oswego611989
Ontario591490
St. Lawrence570191
Steuben5584139
Cayuga543889
Jefferson491063
Sullivan489160
Herkimer4609107
Wayne454065
Cattaraugus449977
Genesee4483119
Madison389685
Clinton378827
Livingston361156
Tompkins352343
Columbia345696
Fulton344085
Montgomery3259107
Cortland324160
Allegany293081
Warren291355
Wyoming288549
Tioga286456
Greene270971
Chenango250270
Otsego248643
Orleans247782
Washington240654
Franklin217612
Lewis210330
Seneca165554
Delaware159033
Essex136426
Schoharie125113
Yates102426
Schuyler87312
Hamilton2862
Unassigned16199
Out of NY0194
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