Democrats intensify push to protect voting machines from hackers

WASHINGTON _ The day after President Donald Trump’s top intelligence adviser warned that Russian hackers will be back with a vengeance in the upcoming midterm elections, House Democrats intensified their push to shore up the nation’s network of wheezing voting machines that are vulnerable to attack.

The Democrats released a voluminous report detailing the many ways in which elections systems are ripe to be breached, and the 2016 incidents in which at least one state’s voter registration files were penetrated and 20 others that were targeted for various forms of cyberattack.

Elections officials and many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are growing increasingly alarmed by how vulnerable their voting systems are. Many are still using machines that are easily hacked, and they have no money to fix them. Congress has so far balked at approving any of the bipartisan measures that address the problem, such as the Secure Elections Act.

House Democrats unveiled their own proposal Wednesday, which would spend more than $1 billion to replace aging voting systems with more secure, auditable technology.

_Tribune Washington Bureau

Investigators visit the state Capitol amid inquiry into Greitens’ affair, three lawmakers say

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. _ Investigators working for the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office were in Jefferson City on Wednesday, three state lawmakers said.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner, a Democrat, announced last month that her office would conduct a criminal investigation into claims Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, took a compromising photograph of his lover and threatened to release it if she spoke about the affair.

Greitens lived in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis at the time of his 2015 extramarital affair. He has acknowledged the affair but has denied allegations of possible blackmail.

The reason for the investigators’ visit was unclear.

Greitens has rejected the calls for his resignation that followed his public acknowledgment of the affair. The allegations of blackmail were made public by the ex-husband of the woman who had a relationship with Greitens.

The ex-husband released audio last month that he described as a secret recording he made of his then-wife telling him about the non-consensual photo and the threat.

Greitens has denied any criminal wrongdoing. But he has declined multiple times to say whether he took a photograph. At a news conference last week, Greitens said he wanted to move past the controversy.

_St. Louis Post-Dispatch

‘American Idol’ winner Fantasia Barrino’s nephew shot, killed in North Carolina

GREENSBORO, N.C. _ A nephew of “American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino was shot and killed Tuesday.

Tyquan Vonricco Washington, 18, suffered multiple gunshot wounds Tuesday morning, according to the Greensboro Police Department.

EMS tried to save Washington’s life at the scene, but he died at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital later that day.

Detectives from the Greensboro Police Department arrested David Lee White Jr., 21, of Greensboro, in Lexington on Tuesday in connection with Washington’s shooting. White was charged with first-degree murder and is being held at the Guilford County Jail without bond.

Greensboro police allege a dispute between Washington and White led to the fatal shooting. The nature of the dispute is unclear.

Washington is the son of R&B recording artist Ricco Barrino, whose real name is Kassim Vonricco Washington, of High Point.

Washington attended T. Wingate Andrews High School in High Point but did not graduate, fox 8 reported.

Ricco Barrino told Fox 8 that Washington wanted to enroll in a community college and pursue a music program.

Washington aspired to be a recording artist like his father and was working on a mix tape, according to the news report.

_The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

Weed won’t cause brain damage the way alcohol will, study finds

It’s a common stereotype that people who smoke weed are a bit foggy-headed and missing a few brain cells.

But a new study from researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that alcohol is much more damaging to your brain than marijuana. In fact, the study _ which was published in the journal Addiction _ suggests that weed use doesn’t seem to alter the structure of a person’s brain at all.

Kent Hutchison, a co-author of the study, told Medical News Today that he wanted to examine what effect pot has on a person’s brain because there isn’t a conclusive answer to the question.

“When you look at these studies going back years, you see that one study will report that marijuana use is related to a reduction in the volume of the hippocampus,” he said. “The next study then comes around, and they say that marijuana use is related to changes in the cerebellum.

“The point is that there’s no consistency across all of these studies in terms of the actual brain structures.”

For the study, researchers wanted to see the relationship between alcohol and marijuana use and the volume of gray and white matter in a person’s brain. Both gray and white matter are important for a healthy and functioning brain.

The study involved 853 people aged 18 to 55 and 439 teenagers. They had “a range of alcohol and cannabis use,” the researchers wrote.

It was found that among those who drank alcohol, adults _ and to a lesser extent, teens _ had a reduction in gray matter volume. The study found that white matter was affected in adults, but not teenagers, who drank. These effects were especially seen in adults with a history of drinking for years, according to Medical News Today.

_McClatchy Washington Bureau