Virtual reality

The latest twists in the Northeastern ‘explosion’ case

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The case of the reported package “explosion” Tuesday night at Northeastern University has taken an unexpected turn. Here’s the latest on the investigation, a developing situation in Martha’s Vineyard and much more in this morning’s packed newsletter:

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that investigators are now considering the possibility that the Northeastern employee who reported the explosion and was taken to the hospital with minor hand injuries actually staged the incident. Officials reportedly said they found inconsistencies in the staffer’s statements and that his injuries did not match the wounds typically consistent with an explosion.

However, the employee — identified by The Boston Globe as 45-year-old Jason Duhaime — is denying that it was a hoax and maintains he was the victim of a “traumatic” criminal act.

Another detail that leaked Wednesday: CNN is reporting that officials found no evidence of any explosives in the hard plastic “Pelican-style” case that the employee said exploded. Rather, the case contained a lengthy note railing against virtual reality and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg , according to the AP.

Northeastern and other local universities are increasing their security in the wake of the event. But after being briefed by investigators, Northeastern also released a statement Wednesday stressing that the campus is “safe and secure.”

Meanwhile, where Martha’s Vineyard, local officials are scrambling to accommodate about 50 immigrants who were dropped off without notice on the island by a plane chartered by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration, as part of an expanding Republican effort to transport immigrants from the border to liberal communities with “sanctuary city” polices. The GOP governors of Texas and Arizona have similarly sent charter buses full of migrants and refugees to New York City and Washington, DC

Several migrants in Martha’s Vineyard told NPR that they had crossed the border in Texas and were staying at a shelter in San Antonio — where they were lured onto the plane by a woman offering food and promises of expedited work papers in Boston. Many were reportedly confused about where they had been flown.

Local officials say they have given the immigrants food, shelter, interpreters and other support. At the same time, they expressed anger at DeSantis for using people as political pawns. “It is an incredibly inhumane and depraved thing to do,” said state Rep. Dylan Fernandes, who has been tweeting updates from the island.

Prepare to see an increase in your monthly health insurance bill next year if you get your coverage through the Massachusetts Health Connector. Officials approved a premium increase averaging nearly 8% for 2023 — although for some the increase could be over 11%.

Insurance companies blame higher provider and pharmacy costs for the hike. However, some Health Connector board members are worried this will push some to drop their insurance.

Officials in Massachusetts have used everything from free Dunkin’ to Six Flags passes to $25 grocery gift cards to nudge people into getting vaccinated against COVID-19. But with the new school year underway and the fall season approaching, Boston is upping the ante. The city’s Public Health Commission is offering $75 Visa gift cards to anyone who gets a COVID vaccine or booster at a back-to-school clinic this Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm at Franklin Park’s White Stadium.

The four-hour clinic will have pediatric vaccines for those as young as 6 months, as well as free food and backpacks for students. But a BPHC official confirmed that the $75 gift cards will be available to “everyone,” regardless of how old they are. Not a bad deal if you’re over 12 and were planning to get the new omicron booster soon anyway.

Speaking of COVID, Massachusetts officials now have the power to more swiftly ban visitors to nursing homes in the case of future disease outbreaks. Under a pandemic policy made permanent Wednesday by the state’s Public Health Council, the public health commissioner will have the authority to unilaterally restrict admissions at facilities dealing with outbreaks or clusters.

PS—Interested in working at WBUR? Or know someone who might be? The application window for our yearlong newsroom fellowship is open through next Friday, Sept. 23. The salaried program provides full-time, hands-on training for early-career journalists — and you can get an inside look from our current fellows of what it’s like here.

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