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Zhou Xiaoqin installs a fine glass pipette into a sperm injection microscope in preparation for injecting embryos with Cas9 protein and PCSK9 sgRNA on Oct. 9 at a lab in Shenzhen, southern China's Guandong province. China's government on Thursday ordered a halt to work by a medical team that claimed to have helped make the world's first gene-edited babies. 

Former President George H.W. Bush dies at age 94

HOUSTON — George H.W. Bush, a patrician New Englander whose presidency soared with the coalition victory over Iraq in Kuwait, but then plummeted in the throes of a weak economy that led voters to turn him out of office after a single term, has died. He was 94.

The World War II hero, who also presided during the collapse of the Soviet Union and the final months of the Cold War, died late Friday night at his Houston home, said family spokesman Jim McGrath.

Son of a senator, father of a president, Bush was the man with the golden resume who rose through the political ranks, from congressman to U.N. ambassador, Republican Party chairman to envoy to China, CIA director to two-term vice president under the hugely popular Ronald Reagan. The 1991 Gulf War stoked his popularity. But Bush would acknowledge that he had trouble articulating "the vision thing," and he was haunted by his decision to break a stern, solemn vow he made to voters: "Read my lips. No new taxes."

He lost his bid for re-election to Bill Clinton in a campaign in which businessman H. Ross Perot took almost 19 percent of the vote as an independent candidate. Still, he lived to see son George W. twice elected to the presidency — only the second father and son chief executives, following John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

The 43rd president issued a statement Friday following his father's death, saying the elder Bush "was a man of the highest character."

In the years after his presidency, George H.W. Bush came to be seen as a fundamentally decent and well-meaning leader who, though not a stirring orator or a visionary, was a steadfast humanitarian.

Bush entered the White House in 1989 with a reputation as a man of indecision and indeterminate views. One newsmagazine suggested he was a "wimp," but his work-hard, play-hard approach to the presidency won broad public approval. He held more news conferences in most months than Reagan did in most years.

The Iraq crisis of 1990-91 brought out all the skills Bush had honed in a quarter-century of politics and public service.

After Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Bush quickly began building an international military coalition that included other Arab states. After winning United Nations support and a green light from a reluctant Congress, Bush unleashed a punishing air war against Iraq and a five-day ground juggernaut that sent Iraqi forces reeling in disarray back to Baghdad. He basked in the biggest outpouring of patriotism and pride in America's military since World War II, and his approval ratings soared to nearly 90 percent.

After freeing Kuwait, he rejected suggestions that the U.S. carry the offensive to Baghdad, choosing to end the hostilities a mere 100 hours after the start of the ground offensive.

The decisive military defeat did not lead to the regime's downfall, as many in the administration had hoped. His legacy was dogged for years by doubts about the decision not to remove Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi leader was eventually ousted in 2003, in the war led by Bush's son that was followed by a long, bloody insurgency.

The elder Bush's prime interest was foreign policy. Under his watch, the Berlin Wall came down, the Warsaw Pact disintegrated and the Soviet satellites fell out of orbit.

Bush's invasion of Panama in December 1989 was a military precursor of the Gulf War — a quick operation with a resoundingly superior American force. The troops seized dictator Manuel Noriega and brought him back to the United States in chains to stand trial on drug-trafficking charges.

The other battles he fought as president, including a war on drugs and a crusade to make American children the best educated in the world, were not so decisively won.

He rode into office pledging to make the United States a "kinder, gentler" nation and calling on Americans to volunteer for good causes, to create "a thousand points of light."

An avid outdoorsman, Bush sought to safeguard the environment and signed the first improvements to the Clean Air Act in more than a decade. He also signed the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act to ban workplace discrimination against people with disabilities and require improved access to public places and transportation.

There were points of dissension. His nomination of a little-known federal appeals judge to the U.S. Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, became a battle royal when Thomas was accused of sexual harassment by a former colleague, Anita Hill. His confirmation hearings, a national spectacle, sparking an intense debate over race, gender and the workplace. Thomas was eventually confirmed.

Bush violated his no-new-taxes promise in the second year of his term, cutting a deficit-reduction deal that angered many congressional Republicans and contributed to GOP losses in the 1990 midterm elections. Then, seven years of economic growth ended in mid-1990, just as the Gulf crisis began to unfold. Bush insisted the recession would be "short and shallow," and lawmakers did not even try to pass a jobs bill or other relief measures.

George Herbert Walker Bush was born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts. He was born into the New England elite, a world of prep schools, mansions and servants that was seemingly untouched by the Great Depression.

His father, Prescott Bush, the son of an Ohio steel magnate, made his fortune as an investment banker and later served 10 years as a senator from Connecticut.

George H.W. Bush enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday in 1942, right out of prep school. He returned home to marry his 19-year-old sweetheart, Barbara Pierce, daughter of the publisher of McCall's magazine, in January 1945.

They would be together for more than 70 years, becoming the longest-married presidential couple in U.S. history. She died on April 17, 2018.

The couple had four sons — Neil, Marvin, the future president George W. and the presidential candidate and Florida governor Jeb — and two daughters, Dorothy and Robin, who died at age 3.

Lean and athletic at 6-foot-2, Bush became a war hero while still a teenager. One of the youngest pilots in the Navy, he flew 58 missions off the carrier USS San Jacinto.

He had to ditch one plane in the Pacific and was shot down on Sept. 2, 1944, while completing a bombing run against a Japanese radio tower. An American submarine rescued Bush. His two crewmates perished. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery.

After the war, Bush took just 2½ years to graduate from Yale, then headed west in 1948 to the oil fields of West Texas. Six years later, he moved to Houston and became active in the Republican Party.

In politics, he showed the same commitment he had displayed in business. Bush was first elected to Congress in 1966, serving two terms, and went on to serve as ambassador to the United Nations, Republican national chairman through the worst of the Watergate scandal, envoy to China, CIA director and vice president.

He made his first bid for president in 1980 and won the first contest, the Iowa caucuses. But Reagan went on to win the nomination. Bush had ridiculed Reagan's tax cut plan as "voodoo economics," but when Reagan failed to lure Gerald Ford as his running mate, he turned to Bush.

In the 1988 presidential race, Bush and his running mate, Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle, trailed the Democratic nominee, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, by as many as 17 points that summer. But Bush soon became an aggressor, flailing Dukakis as an out-of-touch liberal. He carried 40 states and achieved a nearly 7 million-vote plurality, becoming the first sitting vice president to be elected president since Martin Van Buren in 1836.

He took office with the humility that was his hallmark.

"Some see leadership as high drama, and the sound of trumpets calling, and sometimes it is that," he said at his inauguration. "But I see history as a book with many pages, and each day we fill a page with acts of hopefulness and meaning. The new breeze blows, a page turns, the story unfolds."


Gauge Regnier, 8, waits for the event to start at the Idaho Operation Livesaver float Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, during the Festival of Lights Parade on Main Ave. in Twin Falls.

Marriott security breach exposed data of up to 500M guests

NEW YORK — Hackers stole information on as many as 500 million guests of the Marriott hotel empire over four years, obtaining credit card and passport numbers and other personal data, the company said Friday as it acknowledged one of the largest security breaches in history.

The full scope of the failure was not immediately clear. Marriott was trying to determine if the records included duplicates, such as a single person staying multiple times.

The affected hotel brands were operated by Starwood before it was acquired by Marriott in 2016. They include W Hotels, St. Regis, Sheraton, Westin, Element, Aloft, The Luxury Collection, Le Méridien and Four Points. Starwood-branded timeshare properties were also affected. None of the Marriott-branded chains were threatened.

The crisis quickly emerged as one of the biggest data breaches on record.

“On a scale of 1 to 10 and up, this is one of those No. 10 size breaches. There have only been a few of them of this scale and scope in the last decade,” said Chris Wysopal, chief technology officer of Veracode, a security company.

By comparison, last year’s Equifax hack affected more than 145 million people. A Target breach in 2013 affected more than 41 million payment card accounts and exposed contact information for more than 60 million customers.

Security analysts were especially alarmed to learn that the breach began in 2014. While such failures often span months, four years is extreme, said Yonatan Striem-Amit, chief technology officer of Cybereason.

It was unclear what hackers could do with the credit card information. Though it was stored in encrypted form, it was possible that hackers also obtained the two components needed to descramble the numbers, the company said.

For as many as two-thirds of those affected, the exposed data could include mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and passport numbers. Also included might be dates of birth, gender, reservation dates, arrival and departure times and Starwood Preferred Guest account information.

“We fell short of what our guests deserve and what we expect of ourselves,” CEO Arne Sorenson said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to support our guests and using lessons learned to be better moving forward.”

The breach of personal information could put Marriott in violation of new European privacy laws, as guests included European travelers.

Marriott set up a website and call center for customers who believe they are at risk.

The hackers’ access to the reservation system could be troubling if they turn out to be, say, nation-state spies rather than con artists simply seeking financial gain, said Jesse Varsalone, associate professor of cybersecurity at the University of Maryland University College.

Reservation information could mean knowing when and where government officials are traveling, to military bases, conferences or other destinations abroad, he said.

“There are just so many things you can extrapolate from people staying at hotels,” Varsalone said.

The richness of the data makes the hack unique, Wysopal said.

“Once you know someone’s arrival, departure, room preferences,” that could be used to incriminate a person or for a reputation attack that “goes beyond your traditional identity theft or credit-card theft,” he said.

It isn’t common for passport numbers to be part of a hack, but it is not unheard of. Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific Airways said in October that 9.4 million passengers’ information had been breached, including passport numbers.

And while the credit card industry can cancel accounts and issue new cards within days, it is a much more difficult process, often steeped in government bureaucracy, to get a new passport.

Email notifications for those who may have been affected begin rolling out Friday.

When the merger was first announced in 2015, Starwood had 21 million people in its loyalty program. The company manages more than 6,700 properties across the globe, most in North America.

While the first impulse for those potentially affected by the breach could be to check credit cards, security experts say other information in the database could be more damaging.

The names, addresses, passport numbers and other personal information “is of greater concern than the payment info, which was encrypted,” analyst Ted Rossman of said, citing the risk that thieves could open fraudulent accounts.

An internal security tool signaled a potential breach in early September, but the company was unable to decrypt the information that would define what data had possibly been exposed until last week.

Marriott, based in Bethesda, Maryland, said in a regulatory filing that it was premature to estimate what financial impact the breach will have on the company.

Elected officials were quick to call for action.

The New York attorney general opened an investigation. Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, co-founder of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, said the U.S. needs laws that limit the data companies can collect on customers and ensure that companies account for security costs rather than making consumers “shoulder the burden and harms resulting from these lapses.”

Magic Valley state legislators tour Twin Falls schools

TWIN FALLS — Rep. Laurie Lickley, R-Jerome — who next month is going into her first state legislative session — sat next to a fourth-grade girl Friday at Oregon Trail Elementary and watched as she worked on a reading intervention on a laptop computer.

“Which paragraph are you fixing?” Lickley asked. Then, she asked the girl to explain what the story was about.

Nearby, another girl was arranging letters in the word “mitten” to come up with the correct spelling and to form a sentence: “She lost her mitten in the snow.”

Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, and Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, talked with a boy as he worked.

“No wonder you’re better on the computer than I am,” Heider told him. “You started at an earlier age.” The 6-year-old boy chatted with Heider about his older brother, who’s 8.

A group of about 25 people — including state legislators, local business leaders, school district employees and school board members — participated Nov. 30 in the Twin Falls School District’s yearly legislative tour.

The aim was to give leaders an update about what’s happening in the school district and how legislators’ decisions from previous sessions are playing out in local classrooms. The 2019 legislative session begins in January.

The group started the day at Magic Valley High School for breakfast — which was prepared by students — and a “State of the District” address by the school superintendent. They traveled to a couple of other schools after that via school bus.

Breakfast and “State of the District” address at Magic Valley High School

At Magic Valley High, four culinary students introduced themselves, each wearing a purple apron and chef’s hat. They talked about their plans for after high school and things they appreciate about Magic Valley High, including a schedule that allows them to take one class at a time and one-on-one attention from their teachers.

Family consumer science teacher Sharman Januik told a few stories about students, including those who work full-time — such as overnight shifts at Chobani — and arrive at school on time in the morning.

“Work ethic is so much a part of what we do,” Januik said.

After breakfast, Twin Falls School District Superintendent Brady Dickinson presented the State of the District address, covering topics such as student achievement, how students are involved with civic engagement, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities in schools, school district finances, class sizes and school security.

Before going over “data high points” and areas for improvement, Dickinson said there are a lot of data points to look at to gauge how students are doing. “I feel like the education we receive in Idaho is certainly not 48th in the country.”

In the Twin Falls School District, 64 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches. Students who are living in poverty tend to have lower test scores, Dickinson said, and educators look at why. “What factors can we influence?”

By the time students graduate from high school, educators want to equip them to break the cycle of generational poverty, he said.

L.T. Erickson, secondary programs director for the Twin Falls School District, thanked legislators for allocating state funding to allow high schools to employ college and career advisers. “They’re making a huge impact on our seniors.”

On the topic of fund balance, Dickinson showed the group a graph showing how it has dropped over the years.

“Our fund balance is pretty low in terms of the percentage of our overall budget,” he said.

School districts want to spend the money on children, he said, but also needs cash flow in order to make payments and payroll — particularly, during the summer months.

“During the last economic downturn, our fund balance really saved us,” Dickinson said, and the district didn’t have to eliminate student programs.

Dickinson thanked state legislators for the five-year career ladder, which boosted teacher salaries amidst a statewide teacher shortage.

The group had a chance to ask questions. One topic that came up: When will Twin Falls need more new schools?

The school district is probably four or five years away from a new elementary school and 10 to 12 years from a high school, Dickinson said.

“It just depends on how fast growth occurs.” This year, there was a slight slowing in enrollment growth compared with past years.

Rep. Sally Toone, D-Gooding, asked if Twin Falls schools have any full-day kindergarten classes.

There’s a half-day for everyone — the state pays for half-day kindergarten — and some students receive a full day for intervention, said Teresa Jones, elementary programs director for the school district.

Dickinson said he thinks the Twin Falls School District has the building space to be able to handle full-day kindergarten.

“Not every district in Idaho will be that way.”

Reading at Oregon Trail Elementary School

The group traveled to Oregon Trail Elementary School and paired up with students — ranging from first- through fifth-grades — in Larson’s Title I classroom, which was adorned with pineapple-themed decorations. Students showed visitors how they use Istation for reading interventions.

Across Idaho, kindergartners through third-graders are taking a new reading test this school year. The computer-based test — Istation’s Indicators of Progress, Early Reading — replaces the old Idaho Reading Indicator.

One of the main complaints among educators about the old IRI test was it tested only reading speed; the new test measures performance in six areas of literacy.

The Twin Falls School District purchased an Istation package the year before the state rolled out Istation for testing. It means the district has more tools through the program beyond what the state pays for, including for math instruction and testing.

For the most part, teachers are happy with the new reading test, Dickinson said, and data helps with targeting instruction.

Larson talked with visitors about the reports teachers can use via Istation.

“The information I’m getting from this testing is so much more powerful than how many words a child can read per minute,” she said.

New legislator Rep. Linda Wright Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, said she would have appreciated a glossary to help explain some of the education terms used during the stop at Oregon Trail Elementary. There’s a lot of acronyms, she said.

College and career readiness at Canyon Ridge High School

At Canyon Ridge High School, visitors heard from a panel of three students — David Hernandez, Hisham Salhi and Cortni Griffith — and college and career adviser Barb Denney.

Hisham, a senior at Canyon Ridge, said he’s taking most of his classes now at the College of Southern Idaho. He wants to become a physician.

He’s looking into Idaho State University, College of Idaho and out-of-state schools for a pre-med program.

“It’s really up to whoever has the best financial situation for me,” Hisham said.

Cortni has taken many dual-credit classes — earning high school and college credits simultaneously — and is currently in a certified nursing assistant class. She wants to go into nursing.

“I really like to take advantage of the dual credit courses here,” she said, and to have them paid for by the state through the Advanced Opportunities program.

David plans to join the U.S. Army, focusing on mechanics.

When asked about whether their friends are going to college, the students talked about the cost barriers.

“The finances for college can be a struggle for many people,” Courtni said.

If you do one thing

If you do one thing: Magic Valley Chorale will perform a “Christmas Magic in the Valley” concert at 7:30 p.m. in the College of Southern Idaho Fine Arts Auditorium, 315 Falls Ave., Twin Falls. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $6 for students.


Boise State wide receiver Sean Modster (8) runs the ball as Fresno State linebacker George Helmuth (34) tackles him during the second half Friday night, Nov. 9, 2018, at Albertsons Stadium in Boise.

Jury trial for man accused of killing Minidoka man moved to May

RUPERT— A first-degree murder trial for a former Nampa man accused of shooting and killing a Minidoka man has been bumped to May.

Denis O. Lopez-Serrano, 22, is also charged with attempted murder and two counts of first-degree kidnapping in connection with the shooting.

Lopez-Serrano was charged after police said he shot and killed 42-year-old Rafael Gil Vargas.

The jury trial, which was scheduled in January, has been moved to 9 a.m. May 14 at Minidoka County District Court.

Police said Lopez-Serrano lured former girlfriend Nallely Vargas out of her Minidoka home on April 28 and then waited on a road to kill her. The woman arrived with her father, Rafael Gil Vargas.

Lopez-Serrano shot Rafael Gil Serrano three times, fatally wounding him, police said. Then he shot Nallely Vargas in the hand and took her to a remote location where he said he was going to kill her and dump both bodies.

Vargas said during a preliminary hearing that she talked Lopez-Serrano out of killing her by telling him she would make up a story about another man shooting them and that she would not turn him over to police, which she later did.

Lopez-Serrano has pleaded not guilty to the charges.