March 8, 2018
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While speaking at the United Nations headquarters on Thursday, Reese Witherspoon announced that Time's Up, the campaign launched by women in the entertainment industry to fight sexual harassment in the workplace, has been able to assist 1,500 women since it started in January.

The Time's Up Legal Defense Fund has received more than $20 million, Witherspoon said, and helped 1,500 women file harassment suits against their employers for abuse and assault. The response has been "incredible," Witherspoon said, and proof "we are no longer to be harassed, we are no longer going to be mistreated or discriminated against. We are going to create more opportunity for each other." Catherine Garcia

January 24, 2018

Starbucks is investing $250 million into increased pay and benefits for its workers, CNBC reported Wednesday. A Starbucks press release noted that this decision was motivated "by recent changes in the U.S. tax law" and will affect more than 150,000 workers.

In April, Starbucks employees will receive wage increases "based on regional cost of living" that total $120 million. The company is also doling out stock grants; baristas and other store staff will receive at least $500 grants while store managers will get $2,000 grants.

The coffee-chain behemoth is also offering more generous benefits. Employees working full time will be able to accumulate up to five paid sick days per year, and "non-birth parents" will be eligible to take up to six paid weeks off to spend time with their newborn. Kelly O'Meara Morales

January 23, 2018
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Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) will give birth to her second child in April, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Tuesday. Ten lawmakers from the House of Representatives have given birth while in office — including Duckworth, back in 2014 — but Duckworth will be the first sitting senator to give birth while serving, the Sun-Times notes.

The journey to Duckworth's second pregnancy was an arduous one. "I've had multiple [in vitro fertilization] cycles and a miscarriage trying to conceive again, so we're very grateful," she told the Sun-Times, adding that the miscarriage happened while she ran for her Senate seat in 2016.

The 49-year-old senator was a House representative for Illinois' 8th district when she gave birth to her daughter in 2014. "As tough as it's been to juggle motherhood and the demands of being in the House and now the Senate, it's made me more committed to doing this job," Duckworth said. Kelly O'Meara Morales

December 5, 2017

Weight loss might be more effective in achieving remission for Type 2 diabetes than traditional medical treatments, scientists have found. A new paper published in the medical journal The Lancet chronicles a three-year study of patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes, the version of the disease that manifests in adulthood, and found that 86 percent of participants who lost a certain amount of weight achieved remission from the disease, BBC reports.

Specifically, that 86 percent of patients came from the pool of study participants who lost 33 or more pounds. By comparison, just 4 percent of patients who used traditional treatment methods achieved remission, BBC reports. In total, nearly half of all participants who used a weight-loss treatment plan saw their diabetes enter remission.

The weight loss treatment required participants to stop taking medication and instead eat low-calorie liquid meals for three to five months, after which they would go on a diet approved by a dietician. Weight loss reduces fat buildup around the pancreas, the organ that regulates blood glucose levels, which the researchers found allowed diabetics to produce more insulin, thus lowering their blood sugar levels.

Patients who lost large amounts of weight had the highest rates of remission — the 86 percent mentioned above — but 34 percent of participants who lost between 11 and 22 pounds also achieved remission, as well as more than half of the patients who lost between 22 and 33 pounds. Doctors did warn, however, that the disease could return if patients do not manage their weight. Read the full study at The Lancet. Kelly O'Meara Morales

November 7, 2017
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Lin-Manuel Miranda brought some hope to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, announcing that the Hispanic Federation has awarded $100,000 each to seven nonprofit organizations on the island trying to rebuild after the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in September.

The Hamilton creator, whose family hails from Puerto Rico, said the Amanece/Road to Recovery Fund will support organizations that provide social services, help the environment, and more, NBC News reports. The Hispanic Federation is a nonprofit launched by Miranda's father, Luis Miranda, and the group will ultimately donate $2.5 million to help a total of 25 organizations.

"I'm going to continue speaking up and helping Puerto Rico," Lin-Manuel Miranda said in a press conference. "I want you to know we are here en las buenas y en las malas, during the good and the bad. There are so many people around the world thinking about this island." Catherine Garcia

October 17, 2017
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Philando Castile would often reach into his own pocket to pay for student lunches when the children didn't have enough money to cover the cost, and in remembrance of the nutrition services supervisor, a memorial fund has been set up that aims to wipe out all student lunch debt in Minnesota.

Philando Feeds the Children was set up by a local college professor, with the goal of raising $5,000 to take care of the lunch debt of children in the St. Paul area. By Tuesday night, $77,000 had been raised, and the goal had been increased to $100,000 to try to pay every debt in the state. In 2016, Castile was shot and killed by police officer Jeronimo Yanez in an incident that was captured on tape and sparked protests.

Castile worked at J.J. Hill Montessori School, and on Friday, his mother, Valerie, dropped off the first check to cover lunch debt. "This project means the world to me," she told the Star Tribune. Stacy Koppen, director of nutrition services at St. Paul Public Schools, said it costs on average $400 a year for one student's lunch, and Philando Feeds the Children will make it easier for parents who don't make a lot of money, but also don't qualify for free or reduced meals. "This fund really speaks to exactly who Philando Castile was as a passionate school nutrition leader," Koppen told NBC News. Catherine Garcia

September 24, 2017
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The National Weather Service of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday reported an "extremely dangerous situation" due to a potential dam failure threatening a region with 70,000 residents already grappling with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Maria. But the damaged dam continued to hold as of Sunday morning, and evacuees began to return to their homes.

While the dam on Lake Guajataca remains compromised and a flash flood warning is in effect through Sunday afternoon, this is welcome respite for Puerto Ricans facing "apocalyptic" post-hurricane conditions. Aid is beginning to arrive to the island territory, where most Puerto Ricans remain without power and 95 percent of cell phone service sites are down.

Currently a Category 2 storm, Maria is expected to dissipate over the Atlantic Ocean later this week. Bonnie Kristian

July 26, 2017
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House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) has been released from the hospital, roughly six weeks after being shot in the hip during an attack on a GOP congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. Scalise was discharged Tuesday, MedStar Washington Hospital Center said in a statement Wednesday, after making "excellent process in his recovery."

MedStar said in its Wednesday statement that Scalise's injury was initially "life-threatening." The congressman is "in good spirits" and will now undergo a "period of intensive inpatient rehabilitation," the hospital said.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the chief deputy whip, has been serving as House majority whip in Scalise's absence. Kimberly Alters

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