February 13, 2020

This week, 66,000 marijuana convictions in Los Angeles County — some dating back to 1961 — were dismissed.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced on Thursday that she filed a motion asking a Superior Court judge to erase 62,000 felony and 4,000 misdemeanor convictions, and the order was signed on Tuesday.

With this move, 22,000 people no longer have felonies on their record in California, while 15,000 now don't have a criminal record at all, the Los Angeles Times reports. This affects 53,000 people — 45 percent are Latino, 32 percent are black, and 20 percent are white. "What this does is correct that inequality of the past," Lacey told the Times. "It gives them a start, a new start."

In 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64, which legalized possession and the purchase of up to an ounce of marijuana, plus lets people grow up to six plants for personal consumption. Catherine Garcia

6:56 p.m.

In a four-page memo sent to the Navy on Monday, USS Theodore Roosevelt Captain Brett Crozier asked for help stopping the spread of coronavirus on the aircraft carrier.

"We are not at war," he said. "Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors."

The USS Theodore Roosevelt is docked in Guam, and a defense official told CBS News that as of Tuesday morning, there are at least 70 people on the carrier who have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Crozier wrote that of the 33 sailors to first test positive for COVID-19, seven initially tested negative, and were then returned to quarantine areas where they were housed with other sailors. "Decisive action is required now," Crozier said, in order to "prevent tragic outcomes."

Because the sailors are in close quarters, they can't practice safe social distancing, and "the spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating," Crozier said. There are about 4,000 crew members on board, and Crozier proposed having 90 percent leave the ship and immediately go into 14-day individual quarantines. The other 10 percent would stay and thoroughly clean the carrier and run the reactor. This, Crozier said, is a "necessary risk." Catherine Garcia

5:32 p.m.

Chris Meloni's Elliot Stabler is reportedly making a remarkable reappearance after his retirement nearly a decade ago.

Meloni will reprise his role as the NYPD detective in his own Law & Order: SVU spinoff show, Deadline reports. NBC has already ordered 13 episodes of the show, and it's likely to be branded as part of Dick Wolf's Law & Order universe.

Wolf, the mastermind behind the rest of the Law & Order shows and spinoffs, will executive produce the show alongside Arthur W. Forney and Peter Jankowski — they both have a long history working with Wolf Entertainment. Universal will produce the series, as it's reportedly part of the five-year, nine-figure deal the studio inked with Wolf to produce multiple series across NBCUniversal's platforms, per The Hollywood Reporter.

In this series, Stabler, who was written off the show after its 12th season, will be heading an organized crime unit within the NYPD, Variety reports. That leaves the door open for "potential seamless crossovers" with SVU and the other Law & Order shows, including a possible reunion with Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:05 p.m.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason when it comes to the federal government fulfilling state's requests for medical supplies to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic, The Washington Post reports.

For instance, Oklahoma has reportedly received 120,000 face shields despite only requesting 16,000. North Carolina, meanwhile, wound up on the other end of the spectrum — after reportedly requesting 500,000 medical coveralls, only 306 showed up, state records show.

Despite President Trump's comments about wanting governors to show him appreciation when making their requests, the Post notes there's no evidence the White House is favoring Republicans. Indeed, Trump has talked up his cooperation with some Democratic governors, while GOP-led states like Georgia has reportedly struggled to fill its requests. Democratic aides have said the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency return calls promptly and always agree to consider requests.

Still, one White House officials told the Post on condition of anonymity that Trump isn't completely ignoring politics, at least in one swing state that could play a major role in the 2020 election. Florida, whose Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) gets along swimmingly with Trump, has had all of its requests received so far. "He pays close attention to what Florida wants," the official said. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

4:50 p.m.

Almost 30 students who recently traveled to Mexico for spring break have tested positive for COVID-19.

Health officials in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday announced an investigation into a "cluster" of COVID-19 cases among a group of roughly 70 people in their 20s who traveled in a chartered plane to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for spring break about a week-and-a-half ago amid the coronavirus crisis.

"Currently, 28 young adults on this trip have tested positive for COVID-19 and dozens more are under public health investigation," the Austin Public Health Department said. "Four of the confirmed cases did not present any symptoms."

The 28 people who tested positive are currently self-isolating, and more are being monitored while quarantined, according to the statement. The University of Texas at Austin told NBC News that the 28 young adults with COVID-19 are students at the school. Some individuals who went on the trip came back home on commercial flights, according to the Austin Public Health Department's statement.

Austin officials said that although Mexico wasn't under a federal travel advisory when the young adults traveled there, "Austin-Travis County residents should follow CDC's travel recommendations indicating travelers avoid all non-essential international travel," and "a leisure vacation of any kind is not considered essential." The University of Texas at Austin told NBC that this serves as a "reminder of the vital importance" of following health officials' warnings amid the coronavirus pandemic. Brendan Morrow

4:44 p.m.

The major U.S. indexes weren't as volatile as they've been recently by the time markets closed Tuesday, but stocks still capped off their worst quarter since the 2008 financial crisis as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The S&P 500 finished the quarter down 20 percent, its largest decline since 2008, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 23 percent. You'd have to go back to 1987 and the Black Monday era to find a lower point for the index. The downturn, unsurprisingly, was global in scope — Stoxx Europe 600 had its biggest quarterly drop since 2002, and Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell to 2008 levels, as well.

Analysts are hoping the long-term consequences more closely resemble 1987, which allowed for a quicker recovery. Still, Shawn Snyder, the head of investment strategy at Citi Personal Wealth Management, told The Wall Street Journal "we're really in unprecedented territory" where "there's still a huge amount of uncertainty." Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell

4:31 p.m.

The Defense Production Act isn't the rarely used, last-resort power President Trump has made it out to be.

Trump officially invoked the Korean War-era mandate on Friday to compel General Motors to make ventilators to address a nationwide shortage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But for more than a week beforehand, Trump acted like invoking the DPA to force production of government necessities was a big deal and held out on doing so — even though he'd used it "hundreds of thousands of times" throughout his presidency, The New York Times reports.

While he originally signed the DPA in mid-March, Trump clarified in a follow-up tweet that he would only "invoke it in a worst case scenario." A week after that, Trump tweeted that "we haven't had to use" the act "because no one has said no!" Companies had already switched their production lines to make direly needed masks, Trump said, though lawmakers continued to push him to invoke the DPA until he did last week.

But reports submitted to Congress and interviews with former government officials show using the DPA was nothing new for Trump, per the Times. The Defense Department has reportedly used it over 300,000 times each year, including to obtain "rare Earth metals" to build lasers last summer. It all led Larry Hall, the recently retired director of the DPA program division at FEMA, to question "What's more important? Building an aircraft carrier or a frigate using priority ratings or saving a hundred thousand lives using priorities for ventilators?"

Still, Trump hasn't used the DPA on a company other than GM despite the fact the General Electric employees walked off the job to demand they make ventilators on Monday. Read more at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:01 p.m.

This January, East Antarctica — an area that previously seemed to be spared from climate warming — experienced its first recorded heat wave.

The heat wave was recorded at the Casey Research Station between Jan. 23 and 26, marking the area's highest temperature ever at 48.6 degrees Fahrenheit, while minimum temperatures stayed above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, according to research in Global Change Biology.

A rarity in Antarctica, heat waves are known as "three consecutive days with both extreme maximum and minimum temperatures," according to the research.

Meanwhile, Denman Glacier — a large glacier in East Antarctica — appears to be rapidly retreating. Its position above the world's deepest known canyon may be causing it to melt faster than it can recover, according to a letter in Geophysical Research Letters, Live Science reports.

As the glacier retreats, warm water fills the canyon, which could cause a feedback loop that returns all of the glacier's ice to the ocean, leading to about 5 feet of global sea level rise, reports Live Science. Researchers concluded the retreating of the glacier should be a "wake-up call" to scientists who believed melting in East Antarctica to be less of a threat than that of west Antarctica.

"Although it is too early for full reports, this warm summer will have impacted Antarctic biology in numerous ways," researchers wrote in their letter on Global Change Biology, noting disruption to ecosystem, community, and populations scales. Taylor Watson

See More Speed Reads