U.S. measles cases in 2019 highest since 1992

FILE PHOTO: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Tami Chappell/File Photo/File Photo

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) – The United States recorded 971 cases of measles in the first five months of 2019, surpassing the total for any year since 1992, which was before the disease was declared eradicated in the country, federal officials said on Thursday.

The United States declared measles eradicated from the country in 2000, but officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Thursday that the country risks losing its measles elimination status.

There were a total of 2,126 U.S. cases of measles in 1992, the CDC said in a statement.

The disease has spread mostly among school-age children whose parents declined to get them vaccinated.

Public health officials blame the resurgence on the spread of misinformation about vaccines. A vocal fringe of parents opposes vaccines, believing, contrary to scientific studies, that ingredients in them can cause autism.

“Measles is preventable and the way to end this outbreak is to ensure that all children and adults who can get vaccinated, do get vaccinated,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement.

“Again, I want to reassure parents that vaccines are safe, they do not cause autism,” Redfield said.

When measles was declared eradicated in the United States in 2000, it meant the virus was no longer continually present year-round although outbreaks have still happened via travelers coming from countries where measles is common.

Communities in New York City’s Brooklyn borough and Rockland County, an area of New York state about 30 miles (50 km) north of Manhattan, are dealing with measles outbreaks that have lasted nearly eight months.

Other measles cases have occurred in Oklahoma and Washington state.

Decades ago, before widespread use of the measles vaccine, about 3 million to 4 million people a year became sick with the disease in the United States with 400 to 500 deaths a year.

(Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Chang and Diane Craft)

Man caught walking into New York cathedral with full gasoline cans, lighters: police

FILE PHOTO: People attend Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, December 25, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

(Reuters) – A 37-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday night after walking into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City with two full gasoline cans, lighter fluid, and lighters, police said.

The incident occurred two days after a massive fire severely damaged the eight-century-old Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, causing global shock and sorrow. The blaze was most likely the result of an accident though a major investigation is underway.

In New York, the man entered the Roman Catholic cathedral in midtown Manhattan just before 8 p.m. (0000 GMT) and was confronted by a security guard, according to a New York City Police Department (NYPD) official.

As the man turned to leave, gasoline spilled onto the floor and the guard alerted police officers stationed outside.

Officers caught up with the man and he was taken into custody after questioning, said John Miller, deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism for the NYPD.

“An individual walking into an iconic location like St. Patrick’s Cathedral carrying over four gallons of gasoline, two bottles of lighter fluid and lighters, is something we would have grave concern over,” Miller told reporters.

Asked if terrorism was a possible motive in the incident, Miller said it was “too early to say that”. But, alluding to worldwide publicity about the Notre Dame fire, he added: “This is an indicator of something that would be very suspicious.”

Three predominantly African-American churches in Louisiana burned down between March 26 and April 4. A man was arrested and charged with arson and hate crimes.

The man told police he was taking a short cut through the cathedral to get to Madison Avenue from 5th Avenue to return to his van which had run out of gasoline, Miller said.

When police checked the vehicle they found it was not out of fuel, at which point the man was arrested, he said. “He is known to police and we are looking into his background. We don’t know what his mindset was, what his motive was.”

The man, who police declined to identify because he has not been charged, was still in custody early Thursday.

The New York Daily News and other publications, citing unnamed police sources, identified the man as a philosophy professor and a New Jersey resident.

A police spokesman said detectives would discuss the case with the Manhattan district attorney’s office on Thursday morning to decide on possible charges.

St. Patrick’s, a neo-gothic church across from the Rockefeller Center, has stood in the heart of Manhattan since 1879 and is considered one of the most important symbols of the Catholic Church in the United States.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay in New Mexico, Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Deadly storms leave thousands without power in eastern U.S

A view of clouds, part of a weather system seen from near Franklin, Texas, U.S., in this still image from social media video dated April 13, 2019. TWITTER @DOC_SANGER/via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Tornadoes, wind gusts of up to 70 mph and pounding hail remained threats early on Monday from eastern New York and into New England, as the remnants of a deadly storm push out to sea, the National Weather Service said.

More than 79,000 homes and businesses were without power in Virginia, according to the tracking site PowerOutage.US, with 89,000 more outages reported across Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Maryland and New York.

The affected areas will get heavy rains, winds with gusts of up to 70 mph (110 kph) and the possibility of hail, NWS Weather Prediction Center in Maryland said.

“This is an ongoing threat,” said Brian Hurley, from the center.

“There are short spin-ups, pockets of heavy rain and damaging winds that can still hit before this pushes off shore.”

The weekend’s storm brought tornadoes that killed at least five people, including three children, in the U.S. South, officials said.

The massive storm system sped from Texas eastward with dozens of twisters reported as touching down across the South from Texas through Georgia into Pennsylvania.

Nearly 2,300 U.S. flights were canceled by Sunday evening, more then 90 percent of them at airports in Chicago; Houston, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Pittsburgh; Columbus, Ohio and a dozen major airports on the Eastern Seaboard, according to FlightAware.com.

But no major flight delays were reported on the east coast before 6 a.m. Monday.

The storm’s cold front brought snow to Chicago on Sunday, with 1 to 3 inches (2.5-7.6 cm) reported in central Illinois.

Two children, siblings aged three and eight, were killed on Saturday when a tree fell on the car in which they were sitting in Pollok, Texas, said a spokeswoman for the Angelina County Sheriff’s Department.

A third child, Sebastian Omar Martinez, 13, drowned late on Saturday when he fell into a drainage ditch filled with flash floodwaters near Monroe, Louisiana, said Deputy Glenn Springfield of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office.

In another storm death nearby, an unidentified victim’s body was trapped in a vehicle submerged in floodwaters in Calhoun, Louisiana, Springfield said.

In Mississippi, Governor Phil Bryant said one person was killed and 11 injured over the weekend as tornadoes ripped through 17 counties and left 26,000 homes and businesses without electricity.

In addition, three people were killed when a private jet crashed in Mississippi on Saturday, although Bryant said it was unclear whether it was caused by the weather.

Soaking rains could snarl the Monday morning commute on the East Coast before the storm moves off to sea.

“The biggest impact rush hour-wise probably will be Boston, around 7 to 8 o’clock in the morning, and around New York City around 5 or 6 o’clock, before sunrise,” NWS meteorologist Bob Oravec said.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta, and Barbara Goldberg and Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Alison Williams)

Alleged Gambino crime boss shot, killed outside Staten Island home

New York City Police officers (NYPD) investigate the scene where, reported New York Mafia Gambino family crime boss, Francesco "Franky Boy" Cali, was killed outside his home in the Staten Island borough of New York City, U.S., March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Rich McKay

(Reuters) – The reported crime boss of the New York Mafia’s Gambino family, Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, was gunned down in front of his Staten Island home late Wednesday, police and media said.

Cali, 53, was fatally shot multiple times to his torso shortly after 9 p.m. (0100 GMT on Thursday) in front of his home, police said.

Media, including the New York Post, reported that Cali was shot at least six or seven times and also run over by a blue pickup truck driven by the shooter, citing unidentified police sources.

The Gambino crime operation is one of the five historic Italian-American Mafia families in New York, Reuters has previously reported, and it makes money through violence and extortion.

Charges against members of Mafia operations, including Gambino family operatives, have included murder, loan sharking, gambling and illegal drug distribution, Reuters has reported.

The New York Daily News reported in 2008 that Cali was among 62 people arrested on federal racketeering charges and he later pleaded guilty to conspiring to extort money. He served a 16-month sentence.

There is no known motive for the shooting of Cali, a police watch commander told Reuters.

“There are no arrests and the investigation is ongoing,” police said in a statement.

(Reporting by Rich McKay; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Late winter snow hammers U.S. northeast, icy conditions ahead

A worker cuts away a tree that fell across Riverside Drive during a snow storm in upper Manhattan in New York City, New York, March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York faced its biggest snowstorm of the winter on Monday as snow spread across the northeastern United States, infuriating commuters who juggled canceled planes and trains and faced icy travels ahead as temperatures plunge.

A band of winter weather stretching from Maryland to Maine dumped 15 inches (38 cm) of snow overnight on downtown Boston and 5 inches (13 cm) on New York’s Central Park, said meteorologist Marc Chenard of the National Weather Service.

A woman makes her way through the snow on cross country skis during a winter storm in Pallisades, New York March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

A woman makes her way through the snow on cross country skis during a winter storm in Pallisades, New York March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

That was enough for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to take the rare step of shutting the nation’s largest public school system and for New Jersey Transit, the largest statewide public transportation system in the United States, to cancel about a dozen commuter trains.

“This is horrible!” said Steve Wesley, 56, as he shoveled snow from his driveway in Maplewood, New Jersey, a New York City suburb.

Wesley’s two-mile local commute by car was delayed nearly two hours by the four to six inches of snow. 

“This is not what I want to be doing,” said Wesley, a sales representative for a power equipment distributor. “I’m usually the first one into the office. And if I get there and the parking lot is not plowed, I’ll be shoveling that too.”

Nearly 1,000 U.S. flights were canceled, most at Boston Logan International and New York area airports, according to FlightAware.com.

Government offices and libraries in Boston were closed. In New Jersey, where Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm, state workers had a two-hour delay.

Commuting challenges may mount over the remainder of the work week as snows melt and then temperatures drop, icing over roadways.

“Each day is a little bit cooler,” said Chenard, noting the week’s highest temperatures for the Northeast will be in the low 30s. “You’ll get some melting during the day, especially when the sun is hitting the snow, and then at night, it’s going to be cold enough to refreeze. Any road surfaces that aren’t treated certainly could get icy at night into the morning.”

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)

Widening snowstorm, freezing rain to snarl travel in eastern U.S.

Pedestrians walk down the sidewalk as snow falls in the Times Square neighborhood of New York, U.S., February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A widening snowstorm with an encore of freezing rain iced over the U.S. Midwest on Tuesday and headed east, causing hundreds of flight cancellations and closing schools, and was expected to tangle New York and Boston’s evening rush hour.

As much as 1 foot (30 cm) of snow was predicted for inland parts of New England, as well as up to 4 inches (10 cm) in New York City and up to 5 inches (13 cm) in Boston before turning to freezing rain in the late afternoon, said meteorologist Dan Petersen with the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland.

“The big cities along the coast are going to have a pretty quick changeover from snow to sleet and freezing rain and eventually rain,” Petersen said in a phone interview. “The danger of snow changing to freezing rain is people slip and slide quite a bit and that’s the cause of accidents when people lose control of their cars.”

The storm by early morning had iced over Illinois and Michigan and was moving through Wisconsin into northern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York state. The widening storm was expected to reach as far south as northern Delaware and Maryland, Petersen said.

More than 1,600 flights into and out of the United States were canceled on Tuesday, most of them at airports in Chicago, New York and Boston, according to FlightAware.com.

Ahead of the storm, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency, and hundreds of schools were closed for the day.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

New York’s Reproductive Act Heats up Abortion issues in all states

FILE PHOTO -- A woman holds a sign in the rain as abortion rights protestors arrive to prepare for a counter protest against March for Life anti-abortion demonstrators on the 39th anniversary of the Roe vs Wade decision, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, January 23, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File PhotoFILE PHOTO -- A woman holds a sign in the rain as abortion rights protestors arrive to prepare for a counter protest against March for Life anti-abortion demonstrators on the 39th anniversary of the Roe vs Wade decision, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, January 23, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

By Kami Klein

On the 46th anniversary of Roe V. Wade, the state of New York passed a law called the Reproductive Act that not only removes abortion from the criminal code and allows other medical professionals who are not doctors to perform abortions but is also designed to continue to give access to abortion if the historic case is ever overturned in the Supreme Court.  This new law also allows abortion at 24 weeks if the fetus is not viable or when necessary to protect the life of the mother. For those that are Pro-life, this new law is devastating and once again asks the question of when is a child viable or when can it exist (even with help) outside of the womb.

When does an unborn child have rights?  When is the age of viability? These questions plague the abortion debate.  According to studies between 2003 and 2005, 20 to 35 percent of babies born at 23 weeks of gestation survive, while 50 to 70 percent of babies born at 24 to 25 weeks, and more than 90 percent born at 26 to 27 weeks, survive. As medical treatments have advanced, many doctors have the opinion that those percentages have gone up for those born at 23 weeks.

Abortion existed long before Roe V. Wade.  Before the Supreme Court decision, thirteen states allowed abortion in cases of danger to a woman’s health, rape, incest or the likelihood that the fetus was damaged.  Two states allowed only if the pregnancy was a danger to a woman’s health, In one state abortion was allowed only in the case of rape. Four states gave full access to abortion simply on request. But there were thirty states where it was absolutely illegal to have one.

Because of the Roe v. Wade decision, abortion is now legal in every state and has at least one abortion clinic.  If Roe V. Wade was shot down by the Supreme Court, this would then pass on the responsibility in every state of the union to decide on their own regulations, definitions and laws.   

In a Gallup poll completed in May of 2018, it was found that the country was split 48% to 48% when asked if they were Pro-Choice or Pro-Life.  When asked the question, “Do you believe abortion should be allowed under any circumstances, Legal only under certain circumstances or Illegal in all circumstances”, 50% of those polled said that they believed abortion should only be performed under certain circumstances.  29% said they should be performed in any circumstance and 18% polled said that abortion should not be allowed under any circumstance.

Probably the most surprising poll result was in asking the question, ‘Would you like to see the Supreme Court overturn its 1973 Roe versus Wade decision concerning abortion, or not?’, 64% said they did not want it to be overturned, 28% wanted the decision to be overturned and 9% had no opinion.  

No matter where you stand on these issues, the question of Roe V Wade has spurred many states to make a clear stand on their position.  Eleven states have attempted to pass bills which would prohibit abortion after a heartbeat has been detected during pregnancy.  Most of these have passed through legislation but are now tied up in Federal Courts. Other states such as New York and recently Virginia, have tightened up their support on abortion, designing their laws and bills to continue offering abortion should Roe V. Wade be overturned.  

On January 30th, 2019,  The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) released The State of Abortion in the United States, 2019 report. In addition to summarizing key legislative developments in the states and at the federal level, the sixth annual report also analyzes data on the annual number of abortions in the United States. The report also dissects the 2017-2018 annual report of the nation’s abortion giant, Planned Parenthood.  According to their data collected from abortion clinics and doctors around the country, almost 61 million babies have been aborted since Roe V. Wade.

The key to supporting Mothers as well as supporting the life of the unborn is still under debate but many have suggested that education, financial means to support and untangle the bureaucracy for those willing and wanting to adopt, funding for those who want birth control including tubal ligation and vasectomies as well as counseling for those considering abortion are only a few of the suggestions states are considering.  

Overturning Roe V. Wade would be only the first step to moving beyond the rights of Women, vs Rights of the unborn.  It is when we value ALL lives will this long debated argument be put to rest.

 

Burnout, stress lead more companies to try a four-day work week

FILE PHOTO: Office workers take their lunch at a food court in Sydney, Australia, May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

By Emma Thomasson

BERLIN (Reuters) – Work four days a week, but get paid for five?

It sounds too good to be true, but companies around the world that have cut their work week have found that it leads to higher productivity, more motivated staff and less burnout.

“It is much healthier and we do a better job if we’re not working crazy hours,” said Jan Schulz-Hofen, founder of Berlin-based project management software company Planio, who introduced a four-day week to the company’s 10-member staff earlier this year.

In New Zealand, insurance company Perpetual Guardian reported a fall in stress and a jump in staff engagement after it tested a 32-hour week earlier this year.

Even in Japan, the government is encouraging companies to allow Monday mornings off, although other schemes in the workaholic country to persuade employees to take it easy have had little effect.

Britain’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) is pushing for the whole country to move to a four-day week by the end of the century, a drive supported by the opposition Labour party.

The TUC argues that a shorter week is a way for workers to share in the wealth generated by new technologies like machine learning and robotics, just as they won the right to the weekend off during the industrial revolution.

“It would reduce the stress of juggling working and family life and could improve gender equality. Companies that have already tried it say it’s better for productivity and staff wellbeing,” said TUC economic head Kate Bell.

OVERWORKED

Lucie Greene, trends expert at consultancy J. Walter Thompson, said there was a growing backlash against overwork, underlined by a wave of criticism after Tesla boss Elon Musk tweeted that “nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week.”

“People are starting to take a step back from the 24-hour digital life we have now and realize the mental health issues from being constantly connected to work,” Greene said.

A recent survey of 3,000 employees in eight countries including the United States, Britain and Germany found that nearly half thought they could easily finish their tasks in five hours a day if they did not have interruptions, but many are exceeding 40 hours a week anyway – with the United States leading the way, where 49 percent said they worked overtime.

“There has been work creep. Because you always have the technology, you are always working, so people are getting burned out,” said Dan Schawbel, director of executive development firm Future Workplace, which conducted the survey with Kronos.

Schulz-Hofen, a 36-year-old software engineer, tested the four-day week on himself after realizing he needed to slow down following a decade of intense work launching Planio, whose tools allowed him to track his time in detail.

“I didn’t get less work done in four days than in five because in five days, you think you have more time, you take longer, you allow yourself to have more interruptions, you have your coffee a bit longer or chat with colleagues,” Schulz-Hofen said.

“I realized with four days, I have to be quick, I have to be focused if I want to have my free Friday.”

Schulz-Hofen and his team discussed various options before settling on everybody working Monday to Thursday. They rejected the idea of flexible hours because it adds administrative complexity, and were against a five-day week with shorter hours as it is too easy for overwork to creep back in.

Clients who call on a Friday hear a recorded message explaining why nobody is at the office.

“We got an unexpected reaction from customers. Most of our clients did not complain. They were just jealous,” Schulz-Hofen said.

Grey New York, an ad agency owned by WPP, launched a program in April to allow staff to work a four-day week for 85 percent of their full-time salary.

Schawbel expects the idea to catch on in more companies and countries, but probably not his own: “I think America will be the last country to give us Monday mornings off because we’re so used to this way of working.”

(This version of the story corrects paragraph 13 to reflect that the study was conducted by Kronos and Future Workplace)

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Lauren Young)

FBI arrests man in Florida suspected of sending parcel bombs

New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers stand outside a U.S. Postal Service facility after a suspicious package was discovered there in the Manhattan borough of New York, New York, U.S., October 26, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

By Zachary Fagenson and Bernie Woodall

PLANTATION, Fl. (Reuters) – Federal authorities arrested a man in Florida on Friday suspected of sending at least a dozen parcel bombs to high-profile critics of U.S. President Donald Trump days ahead of congressional elections, officials said.

Two federal law enforcement officials named the suspect as Cesar Sayoc, born in 1962. He was taken into custody in the parking lot of an AutoZone store in Plantation, near Fort Lauderdale, where two witnesses told Reuters they heard a loud blast at the time of the arrest.

Local television stations showed investigators using a large blue tarp to cover a white van that was plastered with decals and stickers, before removing it on a truck.

A federal law enforcement official said more arrests could follow. Another law enforcement source said charges would likely be brought by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

The U.S. Justice Department was due to hold a news conference at 2:30 p.m. EDT. (1830 GMT), a spokeswoman said.

No one had claimed responsibility for parcel bombs, which were denounced by authorities as terrorism, and came less than two weeks ahead of U.S. congressional elections that could alter the balance of power in Washington.

Police found two of the suspicious packages on Friday addressed to U.S. Senator Cory Booker and James Clapper, the former U.S. director of national intelligence, officials said.

The 11th package was addressed to Booker, a Democratic senator from New Jersey, and was discovered at a mail sorting facility in Florida, the FBI said. A 12th package was addressed to Clapper at cable network CNN and was intercepted at a New York City post office, a federal law enforcement official said.

A thirteenth suspicious parcel was discovered addressed to Democratic U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California, CNN said.

A federal law enforcement official said earlier on Friday that the focus had intensified on Florida as a key location for the investigation and possible point of origin of the packages.

Police closed roads around the AutoZone parking lot where Sayoc was arrested and helicopters flew overhead.

A man named Dre, a manager at a used car dealership next door to the AutoZone, said he heard a loud noise that sounded like an explosion shortly after 11 a.m.

“I heard like a bomb,” Dre, who declined to give his full name, said in a telephone interview. “I opened the door and saw the FBI there.”

Dre said they were told by FBI agents to stay inside as the area was on lockdown.

A woman who lives nearby and declined to give her name said she was in her yard weeding on Friday morning when she heard a loud bang, saw smoke and heard a lot of shouting.

‘SWIFT JUSTICE’

Florida Governor Rick Scott said he had been briefed on developments in the investigation.

“ANY attempt to harm others is disgusting and has no place in Florida or our country,” Scott wrote on Twitter. “I appreciate the hard work of law enforcement to bring swift justice to whoever is responsible for these cowardly acts.”

CNN reported that Sayoc has a criminal history and ties to New York. Reuters could not immediately confirm the report.All the people targeted by the suspicious packages have often been maligned by right-wing critics. They included former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and billionaire Democratic Party donor George Soros.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has said that at least five of the packages bore a return address from the Florida office of U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a former chair of the Democratic National Committee.

There has been an outcry from Trump’s critics, who charged that his inflammatory rhetoric against Democrats and the press has created a climate for politically motivated violence.

After first calling for unity and civil discourse on Wednesday, Trump lashed out on Thursday at the “hateful” media. His supporters accused Democrats of unfairly suggesting the president was to blame for the bomb scare.

On Friday, Trump said the incidents were distracting from successful efforts by Republican candidates.

“Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this “Bomb” stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows – news not talking politics,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!”

None of the devices detonated and no one has been hurt. They were believed to have been fashioned from bomb-making designs widely available on the internet, according to a federal law enforcement source. Still, investigators have treated the devices as “live” explosives, not a hoax, officials said.

Investigators have declined to say whether they were built to be functional. Bomb experts and security analysts say that based on their rudimentary construction it appeared the devices were more likely designed to sow fear rather than to kill.

But two federal officials involved in the investigation cautioned that it was too early to say whether the devices were incapable of firing or were deliberately designed to frighten rather than explode.

Two packages were sent both to U.S. Representative Maxine Waters and to former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Others targeted for parcel bombs included former Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA director John Brennan and actor Robert De Niro.

“I thank God no one’s been hurt, and I thank the brave and resourceful security and law enforcement people for protecting us,” De Niro said in a statement. “There’s something more powerful than bombs, and that’s your vote. People MUST vote!”

(Reporting by Zachary Fagenson and Bernie Woodall; Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus, Gabriella Borter and Peter Szekely in New York, Mark Hosenball, Makini Brice, Susan Heavey and Sarah N. Lynch in Washington, and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Suspected explosive device found at George Soros’ New York home

FILE PHOTO: Business magnate George Soros arrives to speak at the Open Russia Club in London, Britain June 20, 2016. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo

(Reuters) – A package containing what appeared to be an explosive device was found in a mailbox outside the New York residence of billionaire financier George Soros on Monday, police said.

Soros, one of the world’s biggest donors to liberal groups and causes, has become a hate figure for right-wing campaigners in the United States and eastern Europe, and the target of a hostile media campaign by the nationalist government in his native Hungary.

An employee at the home in Katonah, New York, opened the package, revealing what appeared to be an explosive device. Soros was not home at the time, the New York Times reported.

Authorities were contacted at around 3:45 p.m., the Town of Bedford Police Department said in a statement.

Bomb squad technicians detonated the package in a nearby wooded area, police told the newspaper.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking into the incident, police said.

A Hungarian government spokesman said: “The matter falls under the jurisdiction of U.S. authorities. After all, the incident occurred there.” He declined to comment further.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; additional reporting by Gergely Szakacs in Budapest; Editing by John Stonestreet)