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Virginia family, including toddler, hike entire Appalachian Trail

Published: Saturday, December 23, 2017 @ 10:29 AM

Hikers on the trail.
David McNew/Getty Images
Hikers on the trail.(David McNew/Getty Images)

This is one family that enjoys taking a hike.

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The Quirin family -- Bekah, Derrick and 1-year-old Ellie -- hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail this summer, The Roanoke Times reported.

The Quirins, who live in Roanoke, Virginia, completed the 2,190-mile trek over a six-month period. They began on March 20, heading south from the McAfee Knob trailhead in Roanoke On March 20, they set off from the McAfee Knob trailhead in Roanoke County and headed south to Georgia. From there, they traveled to Maine and marched back to McAfee Knob on Sept. 30, the Times reported.

“She’s a really happy baby, and she loves being outside,” said Bekah Quirin, who like her husband is 26. “She just flourished out there on the trail.”

Ellie is the first baby known to complete the Appalachian Trail. She technically didn’t hike it, because she spent most of the trek in a child backpack, the Times reported.

Ellie didn’t even know how to walk when the journey began. Her parents carried her in a backpack, but Bekah Quirin said they often let her out to explore. Creeks and streams were her favorite to play in.

“She’d grab sticks and play in the dirt or mud,” the mother said. “She was never bored. We didn’t even have to bring any toys.”

Because of her age, Ellie wasn’t permitted to climb to the summit of Katahdin, the trail’s majestic mountain terminus in Maine. The title of youngest thru-hiker belongs to Christian Thomas, also known as “Buddy Backpacker,” who walked the trail in 2013 with his family at the age of 5, the Times reported.

“We thought about how we could incorporate Ellie into that lifestyle early on,” Bekah Quirin said. “We had to adjust our lifestyle when we had a baby, but we wanted to get as close as we could to bringing her on outdoor adventures.”

The Quirins encourage other parents to get outdoors with their children, although they don’t necessarily need to embark on a 2,000-mile hike.“You don’t need to go on a thru-hike to have great outdoors memories with your kids,” Bekah Quirin said.

Hospital blames contraceptive app for accidental pregnancies

Published: Monday, January 15, 2018 @ 2:16 PM

Hospital Blames Contraceptive Phone App for Pregnancies

A phone app that claimed it was an effective digital contraceptive is now under fire after dozens of women who said they used the app became pregnant.

Natural Cycles was certified as a birth control method in the European Union last year.

It would help woman keep track of body temperature to predict when women could become pregnant when not using traditional forms of birth control, the Evening Standard reported. It was promoted as an alternative to birth control pills and researchers believed in the results after they found it was up to 99 percent effective, the newspaper reported last year.

>>Mobile app designed to prevent pregnancy approved in Europe

Now a Swedish hospital is casting doubts on the method after it has reported dozens of unwanted pregnancies from users over the past few months, The Daily Mail reported.

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The app is popular in Europe where users went from 5,000 in 2016 to 125,000 in 2017. 

And while there have been reports of unplanned pregnancies, the company markets Natural Cycles told the Daily Mail, “No contraception is 100 percent and unwanted pregnancies is an unfortunate risk with any contraception.”

Company officials said that the number that the hospital was reporting, 37 unplanned pregnancies out of 668 users, is within the 93 percent risk communicated to consumers, the Daily Mail reported.

The Evening Standard reported that the risk of unplanned pregnancy while using birth control pills is about 91 percent.

McConnell rejects Trump's suggestion to use 'nuclear option' to break budget impasse

Published: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 12:17 PM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he would not alter Senate rules.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he would not alter Senate rules.(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

On day two of the U.S. government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans would not adopt President Donald Trump’s call for a “nuclear option” to pass a budget with a simple majority, The New York Daily News reported Sunday.

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“The Republican Conference opposes changing the rules on legislation,” a spokesman for McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement to the Daily News.

The Senate is set to reconvene at 1 p.m. Sunday.

In a tweet Sunday morning Trump had called for the Senate to change the rules on filibusters, which requires a 60 votes to advance a bill. Trump’s “nuclear option” calls for a simple majority of 51 votes.

“Great to see how hard Republicans are fighting for our Military and Safety at the Border. The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no C.R.'s!” Trump tweeted.

The government officially shut down just after midnight Saturday when the Senate could not muster enough votes to advance a new spending bill. 

Republicans have branded the deadlock the “Schumer Shutdown,” blaming the impasse on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Democrats. meanwhile, have called it the “Trump Shutdown.”

Boy, 12, dies from flu-like symptoms in Michigan

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 11:34 PM

Ohio has reported the third flu-related infant death this season.

12-year-old boy from Michigan who vomited during dinner one night, went to an urgent care facility the next night and had a flu test come back negative tragically died the very next morning.

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Michael Messenger’s family can’t believe how quickly their world was turned upside-down, losing a son and a brother who had been so full of life in just a matter of days.

The timeline of Messenger’s symptoms, evaluation and death has his mother Jessica Decent-Doll urging other parents not to wait if they see signs of flu.

“Don’t wait, it’s all I can say. This flu or whatever is going around this year is unbelievably dangerous,” she told the Times Herald.

Messenger vomited during dinner Jan. 9, was taken to an urgent care the next evening where he was cleared for flu and administered anti-nausea medication and was found unresponsive at home in bed the morning of Jan. 11.

An hour and a half later, he was declared dead at a hospital.

Decent-Doll said her son’s vital signs were deemed normal at the urgent care center and that the family was advised to give him fluids.

By 9:15 a.m. Thursday, it was clear Messenger’s life was in grave danger.

“I ran upstairs, and I sat with him, and I tried to get him to respond to me, but there was no response, nothing,” Decent-Doll said. “It’s indescribable, it really is.”

The grieving mother said that her son had just gotten a flu shot in December and that he “never stopped, ever. He loved science. He loved his family.”

Kristen Ervinck started a GoFundMe to help the grieving family:
"Mikey was so full of life and so energetic he lit up the room with his smile," it read.

The GoFundMe raised more than $12,000 as of Saturday. 
At least 30 children have lost their lives to the disease this flu season.

Michael Messenger's funeral was Thursday. His family is still waiting for the results of his autopsy.

Several congressmen will donate pay during shutdown

Published: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 11:34 AM

Several Congressmen Donating Pay During Government Shutdown

Led by Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, several members of Congress asked for their pay to be withheld during the government shutdown, CNN reported.

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“I don't think it's right for me to get paid during a government shutdown while my constituents are being furloughed and important and necessary services are being limited or halted all together,” Delaney, a Democrat, said in a statement. “It's time to be responsible and come together on a bipartisan deal to fund the government.”

Delaney makes $174,000 annually, which is the base salary for members of Congress. According to Delaney’s spokesman, Will McDonald, Delaney will donate his pay to the Mercy Health Clinic in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It is the same clinic where he donated his salary during the 2013 government shutdown, CNN reported.

>> Government shutdown: What’s closed

Republican Reps. Rick Allen of Georgia and Mia Love of Utah tweeted Saturday that they also would not accept pay during the shutdown.

Allen said in a tweet that he plans to donate the withheld pay.