White House Blocked News Outlets from Press Briefing

Several news organizations were barred from a White House press briefing. Reporters from CNN, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico and BuzzFeed were not allowed into a White House briefing room for a meeting with press secretary Sean Spicer. NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News were permitted to attend.

CNN released a statement that reads in part, "...Apparently this is how they retaliate when you report facts they don't like..."

The executive editor of the Times said in a statement, "Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties...Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”

The Associated Press and TIME magazine boycotted the briefing.

The White House defended the move, saying they had a pool so everyone could be represented and added additional people to the pool. A pool usually consists of one representative from a TV outlet and one from a print outlet, then the material gathered is shared between outlets.

Malaysian Police Say Kim Jong-nam Killed by VX Nerve Agent

Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, was killed by a deadly nerve agent, according to Malaysian authorities. They say VX nerve agent was used to kill Kim at the Kuala Lumpur airport.

Police say two women had the chemical on their hands, approached Kim at the airport and rubbed it into his face.

The U.N. identifies VX nerve agent as a weapon of mass destruction. It was listed as a banned chemical under the Chemical Weapons Convention. The BBC reports just one drop of VX nerve agent is enough to kill and it isn't something you can just create at home, the BBC says this suggests the involvement of a nation state...North Korea, who denies any involvement.

The women involved in the attack washed their hands right after the attack, which could explain why they didn't get hurt as well, but Malaysian officials say one of the women allegedly vomited after the incident.

Iraqi Forces Take Back Control of Mosul Airport From ISIS

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have taken back control of the Mosul airport.

Reuters reports police and an interior ministry unit drove Humvees flying Iraqi flags into the perimeter of the airport. In the process, Iraqi forces destroyed ISIS car bombs and motorcycles. CNN reports ISIS has held the airport since 2014 and has destroyed most of its infrastructure.

CNN also reporting the airport is located on land in Mosul that is an important target for Iraqi forces since it is an access point from the southwest of the country.

The Iraqi forces have also taken control of nearby villages and an ISIS weapons storage warehouse.

How Can Special Needs Trusts and Structured Settlements Fit Together? Andrew Hook Explains

The damages recovered in personal injury lawsuits are often distributed to injured plaintiffs using structured settlements. If the injured plaintiff is a person with special needs, some special planning may be necessary to assure that the settlement is flexible enough to meet the needs the injured person may encounter in the future. Attorney Andrew Hook explains structured settlements and how a special needs attorney can help with the planning process in this report.

Hook explains that a structured settlement is an annuity that receives special tax treatment under the Internal Revenue Code. Where the entire settlement is paid into the annuity, the payments received are tax-free. Structured settlements are tools used in personal injury settlements to help assure that the settlement proceeds are not rapidly dissipated. Studies show, Hook says, that about 80% of people who receive sudden wealth will dissipate it within five years. People with permanent injuries could find themselves with no money to pay for needed care on a long-term basis. The structured settlement also provides professional management of the proceeds.

The difficulty with a structured settlement, Hook says, is inflexibility. Once the annuity is purchased, there is a set amount that will be paid out on a set schedule. The problem for persons with special needs is that they sometimes need liquidity. Current bills in a given month may exceed the amount of the scheduled payment. This is why it is important to have a special needs lawyer sit down with the plaintiff’s lawyer and the structured settlement broker to determine how much of a particular settlement should be put into the structure and how much should be retained in cash or in readily salable investments so as to provide the liquidity that might be needed to buy a house or a car, for example.

Hook explains that a special needs trust is a means of managing the assets of a person with special needs who is reliant on public programs such as Medicaid and SSI. Those programs apply a means test to determine eligibility for benefits. A special needs trust can keep some assets available for persons with special needs and avoid disqualification for benefits under the needs tests. Hook says that the solution is to have the structured settlement benefits paid to the trust rather than to the individual. This avoids the disqualification problem.

Hook points out that the payout options for a structured settlement annuity are very flexible. “You can have a level monthly amount, you can have level monthly amounts that increase with inflation,” and a number of other options designed to provide the injured person with money when it is needed and in amounts that will be sufficient. The key point is that, once the agreement has been negotiated and executed, it can’t be changed. It is important to have a knowledgeable special needs attorney involved in the working out of the settlement.

Andrew H. Hook is the president of Hook Law Center, where he practices in the areas of elder law, estate and trust administration, estate, tax, retirement and financial planning, long-term care planning, asset protection planning, special needs planning, business succession planning, and personal injury settlement consulting. Mr. Hook is a former President of the Special Needs Alliance, a nationwide network of disability attorneys. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.

Cats Won't Make You Mentally Ill, Study Says

Cat owners have probably know this for a long time, but now it's been confirmed by a study -- owning a cat won't make you mentally ill. The research, published in Psychological Medicine suggests there is no connection between cat ownership and psychotic symptoms, debunking previous research that showed people who grow up with cats are at a higher risk of mental illness.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science says that's because cats are the primary host of a parasite that is linked to health problems, like schizophrenia. CBS News reports researchers say the parasite is passed on to humans through their feces. CBS News also reporting pregnant women should still avoid exposure to litter boxes, since there is evidence exposure to the parasite during pregnancy can lead to serious health problems in children.