New York – The worst of the flu season appears to be over.
The number of states reporting intense or widespread illnesses dropped again last week, and in a few states there was very little flu going around, U.S. health officials said Friday.
The season started earlier than normal, first in the Southeast and then spreading. But now, by some measures, flu activity has been ebbing for at least four weeks in much of the country. Flu and pneumonia deaths also dropped the last two weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
“It’s likely that the worst of the current flu season is over,” CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said.
But flu is hard to predict, he and others stressed, and there have been spikes late in the season in the past.
For now, states like Georgia and New York – where doctor’s offices were jammed a few weeks ago – are reporting low flu activity. The hot spots are now the West Coast and the Southwest.
Bush family photos, emails hacked
Houston – Turns out even former presidents can fall prey to hackers.
A mysterious email hacker apparently accessed private photos and messages sent between members of the Bush family, including both retired commanders in chief.
The Secret Service is investigating the breach, which appeared to yield little more than a few snapshots and some family discussions. But the incident illustrated how easily hackers can pry into private lives, even those of one of the nation’s most prominent and closely guarded political clans.
Kerry pledges fair review of pipeline
Washington – Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday promised a “fair and transparent” review of a Canadian company’s plan to pipe oil from western Canada to refineries in Texas.
In his first comments about the controversial Keystone XL pipeline since becoming secretary of state, Kerry said he is waiting for a review begun by his predecessor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and hopes to make a decision in the “near term.” The State Department has jurisdiction over the $7 billion pipeline because it crosses an international border.
Kerry, who met with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird on Friday, praised Canada as a close ally and the largest supplier of energy to the U.S. He declined to comment on the pipeline’s merits, but he said the review process begun under Clinton is well under way.