Skip to main content

As part of a yearlong investigation, The Associated Press obtained the data points underpinning several algorithms deployed by child welfare agencies to understand how they predict which children could be at risk of harm. They offer rare insight into the mechanics driving these emerging technologies. Among the factors they use to measure a family’s risk outright or by proxy are race, poverty rates, disability status and family size. The tools' developers say that their work is transparent and that they make their models public. The AP has learned the Justice Department is investigating one Pennsylvania county’s child welfare system to determine whether its use of an algorithm discriminates against people with disabilities or other protected groups.

Record snowfall and rain have helped to loosen drought’s grip on parts of the western U.S., even pushing it out altogether in California after consecutive dry years. National forecasters and climate experts detailed their spring outlook Thursday, warning that some areas should expect more flooding as the snow begins to melt. Flooding already has inundated parts of California, Nevada and now Arizona. In the upper Midwest, above average snowpack has forecasters warning of elevated flood risks along the Mississippi River from Minnesota south to Missouri. Still, for a West that has struggled with long-term drought, forecasters say all the moisture isn't enough to make a noticeable dent in the nation's largest reservoirs on the Colorado River.

Scientists can now see the big picture on water globally — which areas are repeatedly drying and which are getting hammered by extra-strong rainstorms, thanks to new analysis of satellite data. A study published Monday in the journal Nature Water says the link between greenhouse gases generated by burning fuels and other human activities is definitely making these droughts and storms more intense. One researcher called the study new and important for understanding the planet as a whole.

Scientists have figured out what makes a small see-through fish sometimes shimmer in the light. In a study published Monday, they say the key is in the muscles of the fish from Thailand, called a ghost catfish. Most iridescent animals have shiny scales or feathers to reflect the light. The ghost catfish has tightly packed structures in its muscles that bend light into its rainbow colors. Researchers aren't sure if the colors serve a purpose like attracting a mate. The fish is a few inches long and is sold around the world for aquariums.

The Webb Space Telescope has captured the rare and fleeting phase of a star on the cusp of death. NASA released the picture Tuesday at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. The observation was among the first made by Webb following its launch in late 2021. Its infrared eyes observed all the gas and dust flung into space by a huge, hot star 15,000 light-years away. Such a transformation occurs only with some stars and normally is the last step before they explode, going supernova. Astrophysicists say they've never seen this phase before in such detail.

Moonwalking astronauts will have sleeker, more flexible spacesuits that come in different sizes when they step onto the lunar surface later this decade. The spacesuits will be white like they were during NASA’s Apollo program more than a half-century ago to reflect heat and keep future moonwalkers cool. The company behind the next-generation spacesuits said Wednesday the design is proprietary. NASA awarded Axiom Space a $228.5 million contract to provide the moonsuits. The space agency is targeting late 2025 at the earliest to land two astronauts on the moon’s south pole.

Scientists are digging into why a few people escape the rarest form of Alzheimer's, which is inherited and strikes young. Every so often, someone dodges their family's genetic fate. Doug Whitney of Port Orchard, Washington, is one of those lucky “escapees.” He's a healthy 73 despite a gene that gave generations of his family Alzheimer's symptoms by age 50. Scientists in St. Louis are scouring Whitney's DNA and looking for other escapees for clues to their resilience. The hope is that mimicking what protects them might one day help not just these families but more common old-age Alzheimer's, too.

Pfizer is spending about $43 billion to reach deeper into new cancer treatments that target tumor cells while sparing surrounding healthy tissue. The pharmaceutical giant said Monday it will pay $229 in cash for each share of Seagen Inc. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla says his company then plans to let the biotech drug developer continue innovating, except with more resources than it would have alone. Seagen's key products use lab-made proteins called monoclonal antibodies that seek out cancer cells to help deliver a cancer-killing drug while sparing surrounding tissue.

The Kentucky senator, 81, was at a Wednesday evening dinner for the Senate Leadership Fund, a campaign committee aligned with him, when he tripped and fell at a Washington, D.C., hotel. President Joe Biden tweeted that he wishes McConnell a “speedy recovery” and looks forward to seeing him back on the Senate floor.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador appeared to depict the synthetic opioid epidemic largely as a U.S. problem, and said the United States should do more to fight drug addiction and “social decay.”

The Falcon rocket bolted from Florida's Kennedy Space Center early Thursday. The Dragon capsule should reach the space station Friday. NASA's two astronauts are joined by one Russian cosmonaut and only the second person from the United Arab Emirates to fly to space.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking aim at a new health hazard: online misinformation. Under FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf the agency has begun using Instagram memes, YouTube videos and other online tools to try and debunk myths about COVID vaccines and other medical products. 

Evening update
Stay informed

Subscribe to our evening newsletter for the latest news updates on your community.

COVID-19 resources

According to the World Health Organization, a coronavirus is a large family of viruses that may cause illness in humans or animals.

COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, is the most recently discovered virus of this kind.

Boone County case counts and information

State statistics and information from the Missouri Health and Senior Services

Most popular