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Couple Whose Gender Reveal Party Triggered A Catastrophic Forest Fire Now Face Charges

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Opening ceremony kicks off the Tokyo Olympics as Naomi Osaka lights cauldron

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Biden says eliminating filibuster would "throw the entire Congress into chaos"

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China Rejects WHO Plan for Study into Origins of COVID

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Law forcing nursing homes to use trans pronouns struck down by appeals court

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Vaccine mandates likely after full FDA approval, says health expert

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Florida Man Gets 8 Months in Prison in First Capitol Riot Felony Case

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Amazon Billionaire Bezos Blasts Off into Space, Touts Beginning of Space Tourism

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U.S. gymnast catches COVID days before opening ceremony as coronavirus chips away at Olympic teams

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Black Lives Matter Sparks Uproar by Supporting Cuba Communist Gov't

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U.K. soccer player Bukayo Saka says he won't let negativity

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A British Paratrooper Just Survived Crashing Through The Roof Of A California Home From 15,000 Feet

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Over 20 Abortion Advocates Sue Texas to Stop Heartbeat Abortion Ban

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US to Begin Evacuating Afghans Who Aided American Military

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Uyghur woman tearfully recalls 'inhumane' treatment in China’s brutal concentration camps

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State under Pressure to Ban Chick-fil-A from Major Highway for being anti-LGBT

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Part of the Amazon is emitting more carbon dioxide than it absorbs — and it's a "really big warning" for the planet

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Parents sue DC over 'reckless,' 'unconstitutional' law to vaccinate kids without parental consent

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Croatian Village Plagued By 100 Gigantic Sinkholes Following Massive Earthquake

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The Wild Story Of John Harvey Kellogg, The Eccentric Wellness Guru Who Invented Corn Flakes

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Abortion Industry Is 'Panicking': States Pass Record Number of Pro-Life Laws in 2021, Report Says

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Rare Picasso Painting Sells For $150,000 After Sitting Forgotten In A Maine Closet For 50 Years

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Police investigate racist abuse of three Black players on England's national soccer team after Euro championship loss

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New Israeli Technology Could Rewire Damaged Nerves to Restore Touch

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Lightning strikes kill 38 people in India; some victims were taking selfies

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Thousands of Cubans stage largest protest against communist dictatorship in decades

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Italy wins UEFA Euro 2020, beating England 3-2 in penalty kicks

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The Inside Story Of Anthony Bourdain’s Death — And The Downward Spiral That Preceded It

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Biden won’t send US troops to Haiti despite interim leader’s request

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Judge Denies Woman’s Divorce Proceedings, Orders Her to Appear in Sharia Tribunal

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A Teen Couple Have Been Arrested For Killing The Girl’s Father — Then Filming Themselves Laughing About The Murder

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San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus faces backlash after releasing ‘we’re coming for your children’ video

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Men Have Fewer Close Friends Today Than They Did Three Decades Ago, Survey Shows

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The Unbelievable Story Of Dick Proenneke, The Man Who Lived Alone In The Alaskan Wilderness For 30 Years

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Grizzly bear still on the loose after pulling woman from tent, killing her; victim identified as a nurse

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Biden Calls for Door-to-Door Vaccine Push, Even at Churches, and GOP Lawmakers Are Furious

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Trump sues Facebook, Twitter and Google over censorship; Americans’ First Amendment rights 'are on the line'

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The Inspiring Story Of Corrie Ten Boom, The Dutch Watchmaker Who Saved 800 Jews From The Holocaust

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Disney Removes 'Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls' From Park Greeting Ahead of Fireworks

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Biden admin. to change US passport rules, allow Americans to self-identify as M, F or X

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Biological Woman Claiming to Be Male Goes Topless at Aquatic Center

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New filtering app Canopy uses groundbreaking technology to block porn, sexting

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Meet Ham The Chimp, The NASA Astronaut And First Chimpanzee In Space

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Biden to visit site of deadly Florida condo collapse as thousands donate over $1M to help

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How heat waves can scorch the U.S. economy

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Transgender Contestant Defeats 21 Women to Win Miss Nevada USA Pageant

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Nurses protest Methodist hospital after over 150 lose jobs for refusing COVID-19 vaccine

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Share of children living in 2-parent homes reaches highest level in nearly 30 years

Share of children living in 2-parent homes reaches highest level in nearly 30 years

The percentage of children living in a two-parent household has hit its highest point in nearly 30 years

The percentage of children living in a two-parent household has hit its highest point in nearly 30 years, according to a report by the Institute for Family Studies.

In an analysis of 2020 United States Census data, the conservative think tank released a report earlier this month titled “Growing Up With Mom and Dad: New Data Confirm The Tide Is Turning.”

According to 2020 data, 70.4% of people under 18 live in a home with two parents, while 25.5% live with one parent and 4.1% live with neither parent.

The finding on children living in two-parent homes is a slight increase from the 69.4% reported in 2010 and 69.1% reported in 2000. However, it remains slightly below the 72.5% recorded in 1990 and well below the 87.7% from 1960.

The report also drew from 2012 and 2020 data from the U.S. Department of Education's National Household Education Survey, which likewise shows increases in the presence of two-parent households for high school seniors.

This data suggests that from 2012 to 2019, the percentage of white high school seniors living in two-parent homes went from 55.8% to 59.1%, while the share of black high school seniors living in two-parent homes went from 24.3% to 29.6%.

Nicholas Zill, research psychologist and a senior fellow at IFS, wrote in the report that “although certainly not out of intensive care, the supposed corpse of the two-parent family seems to be breathing new life.”

“All the experts agreed: the nuclear family was on its way out. The two-parent family of married mother and father bringing up their own biological children would soon be replaced by a menagerie of alternate family forms,” wrote Zill.

“And for more than a half-century, each year’s tabulation from the Census Bureau on children’s living arrangements seemed to be proving the experts right.”

In comments emailed to The Christian Post on Tuesday, Zill explained that he found the increase in two-parent homes for children to be a “somewhat surprising” result.

He attributed the slight turnaround to multiple factors, among them marriages happening “at older ages and education levels,” a “decline in teen childbirth” and a “greater awareness of benefits of two-parent upbringing.”

In his analysis, Zill states that before "celebrating the turning of the tide," it's important to note that "the standard Census Bureau family trend charts underestimate how grave the condition of the two-parent family has been and still is."

"The Bureau lumps stepparent and adoptive families with both birth-parent families, making their two-parent category more inclusive than commonly understood," Zill wrote. "Furthermore, children in stepfamilies and adoptive families have experienced family disruption. The evidence is that they have higher rates of emotional, behavior, and learning problems than those residing with both birth parents."

Despite the recent uptick, the Census Bureau warned in April that the percentage of children living only with their mothers has doubled since 1968.

In 1968, 85% of children under 18 lived with two parents. About 11% of children lived with their mothers only in 1968. By comparison, 21% of children in 2020 were reported to live with their mothers only.

The number of children living with their fathers only has quadrupled from about 1% in 1968 to 4.5% in 2020.

Last November, IFS released a report based on the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which found that in 2019, the U.S. had its lowest divorce rate since 1970.

In 2019, according to the report, for every 1,000 marriages, 14.9 ended in divorce. The figure is lower than it was in 1970, which had a rate of 15 divorces per 1,000 marriages.

The 2019 numbers on divorce were also considerably lower than the data from 1980 when the National Vital Statistics had reported a divorce rate of 22.6 divorces per 1,000 marriages.

IFS Director of Research Dr. Wendy Wang, the author of the 2020 report, told CP at the time that while the divorce rate has been declining since the 1980s, the “rate has been falling much faster in the past decade.”

“People are getting married later in life these days, and they are less likely to rush into a marriage which they may regret later on. On the other hand, we've seen the record low marriage rate happening in the U.S.,” explained Wang in 2020.

“College-educated adults are more likely than those without a college degree to get married, and their divorce rate is lower.”

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, June 30, 2021 9:20am
 
Nurses protest Methodist hospital after over 150 lose jobs for refusing COVID-19 vaccine

Protesters demonstrate against Houston Methodist Hospital's mandatory vaccine policy during a June 26, 2021 protest. | Screenshot: KHOU 11
Protesters demonstrate against Houston Methodist Hospital's mandatory vaccine policy during a June 26, 2021 protest.

Over 100 protesters and counter-protesters gathered outside of Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas on Saturday in opposition to the hospital system's COVID-19 vaccine mandate that led to over 150 lost jobs.

“I’m running out of options for my career because of a mandatory vaccine that could affect my fertility," Keri R., a registered nurse previously employed at Houston Methodist, told FOX 26 Houston at the protest.

The hospital system, which includes eight hospitals and over 26,000 employees, set a Monday, June 7 deadline for all employees to be fully vaccinated.

Employees not fully vaccinated by then were suspended for 14 days without pay. And at the end of the suspension, those not fully vaccinated were fired or resigned.

Over 150 former employees were fired or resigned over their refusal to receive the mandated COVID-19 vaccine.

Some employees received an exemption for pregnancy, medical and religious reasons.

The hospital’s April vaccine mandate made it the first major healthcare system in the United States to do so, ABC News reported.

Over 100 former employees have filed a lawsuit regarding the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy.

Jennifer Bridges, a registered nurse and the leading plaintiff, worked at the hospital for nearly seven years before being fired for refusing to receive the mandatory vaccine.

Bridges still has natural antibodies from already having the virus, which protects her from receiving it again.

She said they are not giving proper informed consent about the vaccine and are “turning people into guinea pigs.”

"I have personally witnessed horrible adverse reactions to hundreds and hundreds of people," Bridges told FOX 26 Houston on Saturday.

"It scares me because the public doesn’t know the truth," she said.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, Ronald Reagan appointee, dismissed the lawsuit on June 12, deeming Bridges’ allegations that the vaccines are “experimental and dangerous” “false” and “irrelevant,” according to court documents.

Bridges said they plan to continue fighting the hospital management’s mandated vaccine policy in court and believes the lawsuit will reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

The COVID-19 vaccine is currently administered through an “Emergency Use Authorization” by the Food and Drug Administration but has not yet met the requirements to be FDA-approved since it is still in its early stages.

Dr. Marc Boom, Houston Methodist President and CEO, said around 25,000 members of the staff had been vaccinated, and he believes it is safe.

"We can now put this behind us and continue our focus on unparalleled safety, quality, service and innovation," Boom said in a statement.

"All our employees have now met the requirements of the vaccine policy and I couldn’t be prouder of them,” he continued. “Our employees and physicians made their decisions for our patients, who are always at the center of everything we do. They have fulfilled their sacred obligation as health care workers, and we couldn’t ask for a more dedicated, caring and talented team."

Boom said in a statement that “unfortunately, a small number of individuals have decided not to put their patients first.”

The Christian Post reached out to Houston Methodist Hospital for comment but did not receive a response by press time.

Reports have recently surfaced linking heart inflammation, especially in adolescents, to receiving the mRNA vaccine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has maintained that the benefits of receiving the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks.

A CDC safety panel reported last week, however, that there is a likely a “likely association” between receiving the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine and heart inflammation in adolescents and young adults.

The latest report from the CDC shows over 179 million Americans, or 54%, are fully vaccinated.

Many public and private colleges and universities require students to receive the vaccination for the next school year, which has sparked concern.

Dr. Robert Malone, who helped create some of the mRNA technology used in the COVID-19 vaccine, appeared on Fox News' “Tucker Carlson Tonight” last week to discuss his concerns about the vaccine for people who are not at high risk for COVID-19, like children and young adults.

"[O]ne of my concerns are that the government is not being transparent with us about what those risks are. And so, I am of the opinion that people have the right to decide whether to accept vaccines or not, especially since these are experimental vaccines," Malone said on the show.

For young adults, at least, Malone said he has a “bias that the benefits probably don't outweigh the risks” and said a proper risk-benefit analysis had not been done.

Reports have also surfaced that West Point cadets have faced harsh treatment for opting out of receiving the vaccine.

New York has implemented a universal vaccine passport system to enter participating businesses, while other states like Florida have banned vaccine passports and restrict any business or entity from requiring proof of vaccination status.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, June 30, 2021 9:25am
 
Transgender Contestant Defeats 21 Women to Win Miss Nevada USA Pageant

For the first time in the pageant's history, the title of Miss Nevada USA has been won by a transgender woman

For the first time in the pageant's history, the title of Miss Nevada USA has been won by a transgender woman.

Kataluna Enriquez was crowned the winner Sunday at the South Point hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

The 27-year-old Enriquez won the Miss Silver State USA pageant in March, a preliminary competition for the Miss Nevada USA pageant.

Enriquez beat 21 female candidates to represent Nevada in the Miss USA pageant that will be held on Nov. 29.

"I didn't have the easiest journey in life. It was a struggle for a moment. I struggled with physical and sexual abuse. I struggled with mental health. I didn't have much growing up. I didn't have support. But I'm still able to thrive, and I'm still able to survive and become a trailblazer for many," Enriquez told KVVU-TV.

The television station reports if she wins the pageant in November, she would be the second transgender contestant to join the Miss Universe pageant after Spain's Angela Ponce in 2018.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Enriquez first took part in transgender pageants in 2016 while working as a model.

The Miss Nevada USA Pageant posted a photo of the winner to its Instagram page.

As CBN News has reported, as popular culture treats transgenderism as the new "in" thing, the Bible clearly teaches there are no other gender categories besides male and female. The first two chapters of Genesis clearly show God's design for humanity.

Three years ago, the World Health Organization declared that being transgender should no longer be considered a mental health disorder.

But other medical researchers and former LGBT people disagree with this finding.

Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians, says it's a big problem that the use of the term "gender" has been morphed overtime to invent more than 60 different "genders."

"Our sex is binary," Dr. Cretella previously told CBN News. "It's an objective biological trait, and that's what we need to get back to. Thoughts and how we perceive ourselves are not hardwired by biology and can be correct and incorrect."

Meanwhile, people who have left LGBT lifestyles say the power of God can help heal sexual identity disorders. Many people who have voluntarily abandoned their LGBTQ identities have participated in events like The Freedom March or recently protested a bill by California lawmakers who have been trying to ban efforts to provide biblical counseling to those who are asking for help to overcome same-sex attraction.

"I am a living example that there is revival in the LGBT community," MJ Nixon, an ex-lesbian and co-founder of the Freedom March, told CBN News. "When I came to Christ, He really showed me the truth of my real identity."

Ken Williams and Elizabeth Woning minister at Bethel Church in Redding, California. They describe themselves as "once gay" and know personally that change is possible.

"I would never have made it without the ability to go find a counselor that was going to tell me, 'Hey, Jesus cares about this issue,'" Williams previously told CBN News.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, June 30, 2021 10:12am
 
How heat waves can scorch the U.S. economy

The triple-digit temperatures roasting the Pacific Northwest under a lingering heat dome are also starting to hurt the region's economy

The triple-digit temperatures roasting the Pacific Northwest under a lingering heat dome are also starting to hurt the region's economy.

In Portland, Oregon, temperatures forced the city's streetcar system to shut down as power cables melted and the heat strained the power grid. Near Seattle, roads cracked along stretches of a major interstate and a public pool shut because air quality was dangerous. Some restaurants closed to protect kitchen staff in a region where fewer than half of homes have air conditioning.

Avista, a utility that serves parts of Washington and Idaho, instituted rolling outages Tuesday as surging electricity demand because of the extreme temperatures strained power grids.

"We know that human-driven climate change is increasing global temperatures, and extreme heat waves disrupt a bunch of the conditions that we think are normal," said Costa Samaras, a Carnegie Mellon associate professor of civil environmental engineering who focuses on energy and climate change.

Last year, some 22 extreme events — from cyclones and hurricanes to drought — cost the U.S. a combined $95 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Since 1980, overall damage from some 285 weather and climate disasters cost at least $1 billion each, or a total of $1.9 trillion, according to NOAA.

"Taxpayers are on the hook for rebuilding all that," Samaras said. "So we all are paying additional taxes to fix infrastructure that gets degraded or destroyed because of extreme weather."

Here are other ways the record-breaking heat could take a toll on the Pacific Northwest.

Business stops
Extreme heat is especially hard on outdoor professions. Landscapers and groundskeepers, construction workers and highway workers are among those who spend the most time outside, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

"In the depths of summer, it's just going to be harder and harder to do a lot of outdoor work in very hot places," Samaras said. "And so things that we need, things that the economy does need to get done outside, will need to be adjusted to keep people safe."

But people who work indoors in buildings that lack air conditioning — from teachers and factory workers to kitchen staff and electricians — are also vulnerable to extreme heat, said A. Patrick Behrer, a postdoctoral scholar at the Center of Food Security and the Environment at Stanford.

"The most surprising industries are those where you tend to think of as working inside. But despite the fact that they're inside, they're still exposed to heat," Behrer said.

Productivity slows
Boeing, with two major manufacturing sites in the Seattle area, is operating normally "in most instances, with some adjustments for certain roles due to the heat," a spokesman told CBS MoneyWatch by email. The aircraft maker said it is monitoring the situation to "make adjustments as needed."

When temperatures soar, productivity appears to slow more in regions with fewer days above 95 degrees, like Boston or Seattle, than in places typically better prepared for prolonged heat, like Houston, a 2017 study led by Behrer found.

Predicting how well communities adapt as the planet gets hotter is difficult because it's hard to know what specific adjustments regions will eventually make to cope with a warming planet, Behrer told CBS MoneyWatch.

"There will be ways in which we're able to adapt and ways in which we're not able to adapt, and it's hard to predict exactly how that's going to play out," he said.

Infrastructure breaks down
Portland suspended its light rail service on Monday because of the heat, while Seattle slowed the speed of its railcars to ease the strain on the system. Alaska Airlines said the heat was slowing operations from New Orleans to Seattle, where temperatures on the runway can be 20 degrees hotter than elsewhere. The airline said it set up cooling vans for employees.

"A lot of the infrastructure is designed to perform within a certain temperature range. Extreme heat can make some of that exceed that range, and that's one of the economic impacts of this," said Samaras.

Electric bills surge
In extreme heat, power consumption rises as people try to stay cool. In the normally temperate Pacific Northwest — and even in hotter states — that can strain aging power grids not build to withstand searing temperatures.

As more cooling centers open, electricity prices have shot up by more than 400% in parts of the Pacific Northwest, according to Bloomberg.

Crops can wither
In central Washington, where temperatures are expected to reach around 117 degrees on Tuesday, orchard operators are trying to save the cherry crop by using sprinklers and sending workers out at night to harvest the fruit.

Cherries are ripening now just as the unprecedented temperatures grip the region. Growers are moving 500,000 boxes a day, B.J. Thurlby, president of the Washington State Fruit Commission, told the Associated Press. Washington accounts for the bulk of the nation's cherry crop, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, June 30, 2021 1:06pm
 
Biden to visit site of deadly Florida condo collapse as thousands donate over $1M to help

With so many loved ones still missing, family members and friends have created a memorial wall one block west of the 12-story building. | Billy Graham Rapid Response Team
With so many loved ones still missing, family members and friends have created a memorial wall one block west of the 12-story building.

President Joe Biden is set to visit the site of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, on Thursday, a week after its deadly partial collapse, the White House announced, as thousands of well-wishers donated more than $1 million to help families of the victims.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday that first lady Jill Biden will also travel with the president to thank first responders and meet victims' families.

”They want to thank the heroic first responders, search and rescue teams, and everyone who’s been working tirelessly around the clock, and meet with the families who have been forced to endure this terrible tragedy, waiting in anguish and heartbreak for word of their loved ones, to offer them comfort as search and rescue efforts continue,” Psaki said.

Half of the 13-story Champlain South Towers building collapsed last Thursday and now more than 150 residents remain unaccounted for, CNN reported. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also revealed Monday that at least 11 people had been confirmed dead as rescue officials indicate chances of finding more survivors are dwindling by the day.

A fundraising campaign on The Chesed Fund, which has a goal of $5 million, had raised more than $1.2 million as of Wednesday morning, and all the money is expected to go toward helping victims' families as the platform is commission free, unlike more popular crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe or YouCaring.

“In response to the terrible tragedy which struck the Miami community, EZS Events has organized this campaign in a combined effort with The Shul of Bal Harbour to create a central fund to be dispersed as needed directly to the victims and families. Please donate generously to this emergency campaign,” the organizers of the campaign said in a statement.

“This tragedy has shaken the Miami community to its core. News over the weekend of a rising death toll and more missing persons has saddened us greatly, and the clock keeps ticking. Our hopes lay in finding those still missing, but the window is becoming slimmer. As the news continues to unfold, it has become apparent that the needs of the community are growing so while search and rescue efforts continue, we must continue our efforts to raise financial support for those affected,” they added.

As the search for answers on why the tragedy happened continueddon, condo documents obtained by CNN and cited in a report Tuesday show that condo owners were hit with a $15 million assessment in April to complete repairs required under the county's 40-year recertification process.

The documents from the Champlain Towers South condo association show that two years earlier, members of the association had received a report informing them of "major structural damage" in the building that needed an estimated $9.1 million to repair. The building's condition, however, continued deteriorating after that, and the bill ballooned.

Condo association President Jean Wodnicki described in an April letter to homeowners that the building needed extensive repairs in parts, noting "the observable damage such as in the garage has gotten significantly worse since the initial inspection." The "concrete deterioration is accelerating. The roof situation got much worse, so extensive roof repairs had to be incorporated," she added, explaining the reason for the recent $15 million assessment.

"Other previously identified projects have been rolled under the main project. New problems have been identified. Also, costs go up every year," she said. "This is how we have gone from the estimated $9,128,433.60 cited in Morabito's 2018 report, to the much larger figure we have today."

More than 300 emergency personnel, including teams from Israel and Mexico, are working around the clock, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been called in to help search for survivors, The New York Times reported.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, June 30, 2021 1:23pm
 
Meet Ham The Chimp, The NASA Astronaut And First Chimpanzee In Space

NASA Ham in his capsule with handler Edward Dittmer
Ham in his capsule with handler Edward Dittmer

Ham the chimp made history as the first chimp in space on Jan. 31, 1961. Project Mercury, NASA’s first human spaceflight program, hoped to send a man into Earth’s orbit and safely return him. With Ham’s help, it did just over three months later.

The space race between the United States and Soviet Union had been heating up since the late 1950s. The Soviets had already sent dogs into orbit, proving that mammals could survive in space.

But NASA wanted to show that humans could perform tasks in zero gravity, and the astrochimp project was born.

Although Ham’s space flight only lasted 16 and a half minutes, the data it provided NASA engineers proved invaluable to the future of space flight. And it made Ham the chimp one of the most famous apes to ever live.

“Number 65” Is Captured And Trained By NASA
Ham the chimp was born in July 1957 in French Cameroon. He was two years old when animal trappers caught him in the wild and sold him to the Rare Bird Farm in Miami, Florida.

NASA Ham during training with NASA in 1960.
Ham during training with NASA in 1960.

The U.S. Air Force purchased him and 39 other candidates to prepare for the mission at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico. NASA scientists put every chimpanzee through a series of tests and ultimately selected Ham for his mental acuity.

In public, NASA simply called him “Number 65,” for fear that the press would latch onto a cute name should the mission not go as planned. The name Ham, after the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center where he was housed, wasn’t given until after he had returned safely to Earth.

“He was wonderful,” his handler Edward Dittmer said. “He performed so well and was a remarkably easy chimp to handle. I’d hold him and he was just like a little kid.”

Using a controversial process called avoidance conditioning, NASA trained Ham to perform simple tasks under pressure to see if it was safe to have an astronaut control the spacecraft.

He would receive an electric shock to the soles of his feet if he failed to pull a lever within five seconds of seeing a flashing blue light. Another test had him choose which shape in a series of three didn’t match the others. Once in orbit, he would have to do the same.

The First Chimp In Space
On Jan. 31, 1961, Ham the chimp was fitted with sensors monitoring his vitals and strapped into a chair called the “biopack” from which he would perform his tasks, monitored by computers on the ground.

NASA Ham on the USS Donner after being rescued.
Ham on the USS Donner after being rescued

When the Mercury-Redstone 2 launched into suborbital flight, it did so at 5,857 miles per hour and reached an altitude of 157 miles above Earth. This was over 1,400 miles-per-hour faster and 42 miles higher than NASA had planned due to air pressure loss in the capsule caused by a crack.

Fortunately, Ham’s suit protected him, and scientists confirmed that a mammal could function in space. Ham’s performance was only a fraction of a second slower than it was on Earth. In 16 minutes and 39 seconds, the flight was over. He had spent six and a half minutes in total weightlessness.

But the crack had caused more problems, and Ham landed 132 miles from where he was supposed to in the Atlantic Ocean. The USS Donner, which was stationed to retrieve him, needed hours to reroute to the new landing spot. Meanwhile, water came in through the crack and reached dangerous levels before the ship arrived to ferry him to safety.

Though Ham appeared to smile in photos capturing his rescue, primatologist Jane Goodall said it was a sign of fear. “I have never seen such terror on a chimp’s face,” she told The Guardian. Ham even vehemently refused to get back in the chair for a post-mission photo op.

Ham The Chimp Is Buried In New Mexico
Following his landing, Ham achieved pop culture celebrity, appearing on the cover of LIFE magazine and even in a movie with Evel Knievel. His test flight gave NASA the data needed to successfully make Alan Shepherd Jr. the first American man in space on May 5, 1961.

Wikimedia Commons Ham, the first chimp in space, is buried at the International Space Hall of Fame.
Ham, the first chimp in space, is buried at the International Space Hall of Fame.

Ham was transferred to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in 1963 and spent 17 years in solitude. He then spent three years at the North Carolina Zoo in the company of other chimps before dying on Jan. 19, 1983 at age 25, young for a chimpanzee. The Smithsonian Institution hoped to put his body on display before public outrage forced them to reconsider.

“Talk about death without dignity,” wrote The Washington Post. “Talk about dreadful precedents — it should be enough to make any space veteran more than a little nervous about how he is going to be treated in the posthumous by and by.”

After an autopsy, Ham’s skeleton was removed and is today kept in the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Maryland. The rest of his remains were buried at the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, New Mexico — where it all began.

“Alan Shepard was a hero, no doubt about that,” Ralph Morse, who photographed Ham for LIFE, said. “But whenever people call Shepard the first American in space, I like to remind them of a chimpanzee who beat him to it.”

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, June 30, 2021 2:16pm
 
New filtering app Canopy uses groundbreaking technology to block porn, sexting

App logos are displayed on a cell phone. | Unsplash/Frederik Lipfert<br>
App logos are displayed on a cell phone.

Pornography is not just a problem in the United States; it’s a devastating epidemic that is robbing children of their innocence, destroying the traditional family structure and directly contributing to the sex trafficking crisis.

That’s according to Sean Clifford, CEO of Canopy, a Texas-based tech company that uses groundbreaking technology to block pornography and explicit content on the internet.

“Pornography is so much more graphic, addicting and darker today than it ever has been,” the husband and father of four told The Christian Post.

“This is an issue that impacts everyone. We have to start with offering a tool to people who want to quit so they can step away from pornography and have the space to heal their hearts and minds. With this service, we’re hoping to provide a space for them to do the other work that is so necessary.”

A software program that works on smartphones, tablets and computers, Canopy utilizes artificial intelligence that can detect pornography and nudity with 99.7% accuracy. It also scans internet traffic in real-time, allowing the service to block pornography that other filters miss.

Canopy also “closes the back door,” Clifford said, blocking sites regardless of the browser or network used (Josh Duggar was accused of using the “dark web” to bypass software that would report and monitor internet porn usage and download child pornography).

“We make it so that you can’t circumvent the system; we’ve blocked all the doors,” he explained.

A key difference between Canopy and other services, Clifford added, is that the program focuses on prevention — not just accountability. Canopy not only completely blocks pornographic websites, but it also detects and censors nudity and “minimal clothing” on individual photos and videos on popular apps like Instagram, Facebook and even TikTok.

“It used to be sufficient just not to go to the bad sites,” he explained. “But now on Twitter, on Reddit, on all these platforms that are really popular, you can find pornography. We can filter within those sites and pull out the bad from within the otherwise fine [sites] so that you can get the good without the explicit content.”

Canopy also discourages sexting, an issue Clifford revealed “tripled” in the first month of COVID-19 pandemic “and has only taken off since.”

When a child receives a text message with sexual image, Canopy can filter it out. If a child attempts to send a photo of themselves, the service will lock the image and send the parent a warning.

“Kids oftentimes are one step ahead,” Clifford contended. “We want to be a resource for parents: 'Here are the apps. Here’s why kids want them and like them, and here are the pitfalls. Here's how you can navigate this with a little bit more confidence.”

The concept behind Canopy was first developed 13 years ago by Rabbi Moshe Weiss, an Orthodox Jew who wanted to figure out how his community could enter into the online world and enjoy all the benefits without the toxic content that comes with it.

He, along with a handful of others in his community, began the development of a company and product called Netspark. Today, the content filtering tool protects 2 million devices and is used in 90% of Israeli schools.

In 2019, the group started Canopy to bring that same technology to the U.S. The service officially launched earlier this year.

Clifford said that the first reaction he’s seeing from parents is “relief” when they hear about Canopy.

“Parents are shocked by the porn problem today, but they don't know how to confront it. They feel overwhelmed about the technology, even above and beyond this issue. And when you throw this issue in there, they don't know what to do. It's uncomfortable, and they have to figure it out.”

Because Canopy operates in the background and is focused on enabling access to content, not just blocking it, it doesn’t hamper internet usage.

“Kids will know Canopy is on [their devices], but it's not going to obstruct them,” he posited. “It's not going to significantly impact the user experience. Parents are also relieved that this isn't going to be a source of tension or fight with their kids. You put it on, but then the kids are able to navigate. So parents have peace of mind while kids have freedom.”

Studies show that American adolescents watch much more pornography at a much younger age than their parents know — and it’s shaping their worldviews. The Church isn't immune to the epidemic. Statisticsshow that Christians — and even church pastors — view porn at almost the same rates as the secular world.

Ted Shimer, the founder of the online addiction recovery program Freedom Fight, told CP that the problem, even in the Church, is particularly severe as Pornhub and other sites “capitalized” on the pandemic lockdowns.

Shimer acknowledged that talking about porn in church is “awkward, uncomfortable and surrounded in shame." But he stressed that it’s “not going away.”

“Pastors and church leaders need to address it with effective, Gospel-centered, scientifically-informed solutions because it’s not simply going away,” he said, adding that only 7% of churches say they have the resources to assist their members with this addiction.

Clifford agreed that because technology is not going away — and porn addiction is only getting worse — the onus is on parents to raise a generation of healthy tech users.

“We think Canopy [is] critical. We're starting by limiting access to pornography, but our dreams are to really make sure that parents and families can come together and figure out what's the right thing for them,” Clifford stressed. “We want to give parents the wisdom to help them navigate this, whether it's letting you know what's out in the world, or equipping you to have those good conversations with your kids."

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 02, 2021 3:32pm
 
Biological Woman Claiming to Be Male Goes Topless at Aquatic Center

A public pool complex in a small city southeast of Des Moines reportedly allowed a teenage biological female who identifies as male to walk around the facility topless

A public pool complex in a small city southeast of Des Moines reportedly allowed a teenage biological female who identifies as male to walk around the facility topless.

The incident took place June 16, according to The Iowa Standard.

An assistant manager for the center told the local outlet patrons are free to wear clothing that aligns with their chosen gender and sexual identities.

One resident in Pella, where the pool is located, said that, when the issue was raised, facility staffers said there was “nothing they could do.

“[They said] that state law protects this biological female, allowing her to walk around indecently exposing herself to all the families enjoying the facility,” the resident said. “The facility is afraid if they act and require her to cover herself, they will face legal backlash.”

“I find it appalling that this would actually be state law,” added the concerned local. “If someone were to take a picture, it wouldn’t be viewed as some boy at the pool in his swim shorts. It would be a topless photo of a biological female, and it would be child pornography.”

The rules, posted to the city’s website, state:

The Pella Aquatic Center is a family-friendly facility. Inappropriate behavior, language, or attire are not permitted and will be grounds for refusing admission or removal from the facility without a refund. … Proper swim attire must be worn. It must be designed for swimming and made of non-absorbent material such as Lycra, spandex, nylon or neoprene. No cotton. No cut-offs. No metal grommets. Failure to abide by these rules may result in injury to yourself and others and could result in removal from the facility.

According to KNIA-FM, the city released a statement Tuesday.

“The city of Pella has received concerns related to the swimming attire of a patron who recently visited the Pella Aquatic Center,” the city stated. “The city has reviewed the matter with legal counsel and no further action will be taken. The city considers this matter concluded.”

“The city of Pella operates its facilities consistent with state and federal law, which prohibits discrimination against any patron or participant on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability,” it added.

This comes just days after a woman at Wi Spa in Los Angeles complained to staffers when a biological male who identifies as female — despite having male anatomy — entered a female-only changing area completely nude.

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 02, 2021 3:59pm
 
Biden admin. to change US passport rules, allow Americans to self-identify as M, F or X

U.S. President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks on the anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on March 11, 2021. | AFP via Getty Images/MANDEL NGAN
U.S. President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks on the anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on March 11, 2021.

The Biden administration has announced that the State Department will allow people to choose their gender identity on passports, even if it contradicts their biological sex. It's also looking to add an X marker for those who identify as nonbinary.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced Wednesday that the State Department will update “our procedures to allow applicants to self-select their gender as ‘M’ or ‘F’ and will no longer require medical certification if an applicant’s self-selected gender does not match the gender on their other citizenship or identity documents.”

“The Department has begun moving towards adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a passport or [Consular Report of Birth Abroad],” continued Blinken.

“We are evaluating the best approach to achieve this goal. The process of adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons to these documents is technologically complex and will take time for extensive systems updates.”

The ACLU, which campaigned for the change, released a statement on Wednesday supporting the Biden administration's decision.

Arli Christian, an ACLU campaign strategist, said the announcement was “an important first step in realizing a whole-of-government policy for accurate IDs.”

“Improved access to accurate passports will have such a profound impact on the lives of trans, intersex, and non-binary folks across the country,” Christian stated.

“Now people will be able to fill out a passport application and indicate M, F, or X — whichever is most appropriate for them. Despite a hateful wave of anti-trans legislation this year, trans, non-binary, and intersex people know who we are and we need recognition of who we are — not permission.”

The change came partly in response to the legal efforts of Dana Zzyym, a U.S. Navy Veteran who identifies as nonbinary and intersex and has been seeking a passport that reflects that identity.

According to court documents, Zzyym was born with both male and female genitalia, having been raised as a male but briefly identifying as female while an adult.

For its part, the State Department had defended its binary system for passports by arguing that it ensured the accuracy and reliability, helped identify individuals ineligible for passports, helped make passport data useful for other agencies, there not being a medical consensus on how to determine if someone was intersex, and that creating a third designation for sex, such as an “X” mark for the gender category, was not feasible.

In May 2020, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that three of the five reasons “lacked record support,” leaving the reasons of it helping identify individuals ineligible for passports and it helping to make passport data useful for other agencies intact.

“The State Department acknowledges that some individuals are born neither male nor female. Forcing these individuals to pick a gender thus injects inaccuracy into the data,” stated the panel.

“A chef might label a jar of salt a jar of sugar, but the label does not make the salt any sweeter. Nor does requiring intersex people to mark ‘male’ or ‘female’ on an application make the passport any more accurate.”

However, because the circuit panel did conclude that two of the reason were valid, they sent the case back down to the district court, albeit with the order that the State Department “reconsider Zzyym’s application for an intersex passport.”

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 02, 2021 4:16pm
 
Disney Removes 'Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls' From Park Greeting Ahead of Fireworks

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, has reworked the greeting for its fireworks show at Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, has reworked the greeting for its fireworks show at Magic Kingdom in order to be more inclusive.

For many years, ahead of the nightly fireworks show — which returns Thursday after being on a lengthy hiatus due to the pandemic —, an announcer issued this greeting: “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, dreamers of all ages…”

It was revealed Tuesday night, when Disney cast members were given a preview of the new fireworks show, that the theme park nixed the first part of the announcement and will now just be greeting “dreamers of all ages.”

The shift in the Orlando park comes months after Tokyo Disneyland made a similar decision in the name of inclusivity.

It should be noted the reworked greeting in the Japanese location came initially not from Disney but from the Oriental Land Company, which licenses the Disney brand, its characters, and their likenesses for the park.

The new greeting there welcomes “everyone” and doesn’t use sex- or gender-based language, according to HuffPost. It went into effect March 18.

A spokesperson for the Oriental Land Company said the change was made to make people of all sexual and gender identities “feel comfortable in the park.”

“It is a comprehensive judgment considering the current social situation, such as diversity,” the spokesperson explained. “Currently, information on parades and shows, Country Bear Theater in Tokyo Disneyland, and the Enchanted Tiki Room: Some attractions, such as Stitch Presents ‘Aloha e Como Mai,’ have already changed.”

Years ago, Jack Wagner, known by many as “the voice of Disney,” estimated he’d said, “ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,” some eight million times during his two-decade tenure as the park announcer for Disneyland in California, Disney World in Florida, and Tokyo Disneyland.

“When I do meet people who say, ‘Now I can associate a face with the voice,’ I always say, ‘Well, sorry about that, you know, but that’s how the cookie crumbles,'” Wagner joked.

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Posted by Temmy
Tue, July 06, 2021 10:57am
 
The Inspiring Story Of Corrie Ten Boom, The Dutch Watchmaker Who Saved 800 Jews From The Holocaust

Corrie ten Boom Huis/Facebook Corrie ten Boom, standing, and her family.
Corrie ten Boom, standing, and her family.

The watchmakers had a secret. In their home above the family shop on Barteljorisstraat in the Dutch city of Haarlem, they had built a safe room. There, Corrie ten Boom, her sister, and their father would save the lives of some 800 Jews fleeing the Nazis.

The ten Boom family joined the Dutch resistance after Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940. Guided by their religious beliefs, they quietly funneled desperate Jewish refugees to safety. But in 1944, an informer would send the Nazis straight to their door.

Corrie ten Boom survived her time in concentration camps — barely — after her father and sister died. Once the war ended, she set up a rehabilitation clinic for Holocaust survivors, preached the power of forgiveness, and wrote books about her experience.

This is her remarkable story.

The Early Life Of Corrie ten Boom

Corrie Ten Boom Family Corrie ten Boom Museum Bestie, Nollie, and Corrie Ten Boom circa 1905.
Bestie, Nollie, and Corrie Ten Boom circa 1905.

Corrie ten Boom was born Cornelia Arnolda Johanna ten Boom on April 15, 1892. The youngest of four children, ten Boom grew up in a tight-knit religious family. They were Calvinists in the Dutch Reformed Church, which emphasized service to others.

The entire ten Boom family — aunts included — lived above the watch shop run by ten Boom’s father, Casper. As ten Bloom grew older, she became fascinated with the mechanics of watchmaking.

“I had always felt happy in this little shop, with its tiny voices and shelves of small shining faces,” ten Bloom wrote in her postwar memoir, The Hiding Place.

After her mother’s death and a failed romance, ten Boom decided that she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps. “I was finding a joy in work I’d never dreamed of,” ten Boom wrote. She had long helped her father with the administration of his shop, but now decided she wanted to learn the mechanics of watch repair itself.

Casper Ten Boom Yad Vashem/The World Holocaust Remembrance Center Casper ten Boom at his desk.
Casper ten Boom at his desk.

She had no better mentor than Casper ten Boom. “Father’s patience, his almost mystic rapport with the harmonies of watchworks, these were things that could not be taught,” ten Boom remembered.

Alongside work with her father, ten Boom also enrolled in school to become a watchmaker. In 1922, she became the first licensed female watchmaker in Holland.

“And so was established the pattern our lives were to follow for over twenty years,” she wrote. In addition to helping her father run the shop, she established a youth club for young girls which offered religious instruction and classes.

But the peaceful existence of the ten Bloom family was fragile. War clouds were on the horizon. Soon, visitors to the watch store came with worries about a looming invasion by Nazi Germany.

The Nazis Come To The Netherlands

Dutch National Archives German Paratroopers In The Netherlands Dutch National Archives German paratroopers invading the Netherlands on May 10, 1940.
German Paratroopers In The Netherlands Dutch National Archives German paratroopers invading the Netherlands on May 10, 1940.

Over a stretch of seven days in May 1940, everything changed for Corrie ten Boom and her family. The Nazis invaded on May 10th. By May 17th, Germany occupied the Netherlands.

Before long, the country became a dangerous place for its Jewish citizens. Throughout the early 1940s, thousands and thousands of Jews were sent to concentration camps, leading Adolf Hitler acolyte Adolf Eichmann to state with satisfaction: “In the beginning you could say that the trains from the Netherlands were really rolling; it was quite wonderful.”

Corrie ten Boom vividly recalled how the mood of the country changed. Arrests of Jewish citizens became and more and more frequent. When ten Boom had Jewish customers, she delivered their watches so that they didn’t have to risk going out.

“At any minute there might be a rap on this door,” she remembered thinking while visiting with Jewish friends. “These children, this mother and father, might be ordered to the back of a truck.”

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Dutch Jews at the Buchenwald concentration camp in February 1941.
Dutch Jews at the Buchenwald concentration camp in February 1941.

As members of the Dutch Reformed Church, the entire ten Boom family believed firmly in the equality of all human beings before God. They especially respected Jews as “God’s ancient people.” So when a Jewish woman named Kleermaker came to their door looking for help, they opened their arms.

“In this household, God’s people are always welcome,” Casper ten Boom said. He, Corrie, and her sister Bestie agreed to shelter her.

Before long, word of the ten Boom’s generosity spread. More and more people showed up at their doorstep looking for help. And as conditions in the Netherlands grew more dangerous, the family even built a secret room in Corrie ten Boom’s bedroom.

Corrie Ten Boom Hiding Place Yad Vashem/The World Holocaust Remembrance Center The secret room in Corrie ten Boom’s bedroom.
The secret room in Corrie ten Boom’s bedroom.

The room was no larger than a closet but could hold about six people. It had a crude ventilation system so they could get fresh air. The ten Booms also installed a buzzer in the house in order to quickly alert anyone there to hide during security sweeps. Some people stayed for an extended period; others moved on after a few days.

Despite the peril that lurked nearby, conditions within the ten Boom house were often light and merry. People hiding in the house played music together. At one point, everyone got together to rehearse a play.

But the danger outside was present — and growing nearer. On Feb. 28, 1944, it made its way to the ten Boom’s door.

Corrie ten Boom and her family had been betrayed by a Dutch informant. That day, the Gestapo raided the ten Boom home.

After a search of the house and an interrogation of the family, Corrie, Bestie, and Casper were arrested — the Gestapo never found the Jews hiding in the secret room.

How Corrie ten Boom Survived The Nazi Camps

Vught Concentration Camp Tiago Fioreze/Wikimedia Commons The Vught concentration camp, where Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie spent several months.
The Vught concentration camp, where Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie spent several months.

The Gestapo ultimately arrested 30 people who had been in the ten Boom home that day. Eventually, they sent everyone home — except for Casper, Betsie, and Corrie ten Boom.

“I’d like to send you home, old fellow,” one of the guards at the Scheveningen prison said to Casper, who was then 84-years-old. “I’ll take your word that you won’t cause any more trouble.”

“If I go home today,” Casper responded, “I will open my door again to any man in need who knocks.”

Ten days later, he grew ill and died in prison.

After a few months in prison, Bestie and Corrie ten Boom were transferred to the Vught concentration camp in June 1944. That September, they were transferred again, to the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp, which had been constructed specifically for women.

Betsie Ten Boom Ten Boom Museum Betsie ten Boom didn’t survive her incarceration in the Ravensbrück concentration camp.
Betsie ten Boom didn’t survive her incarceration in the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

There, Betsie and Corrie lived under brutal conditions. They were among so-called “inferior beings” — social outcasts, Gypsies, resistance fighters, Jehovah’s Witnesses, political enemies, prostitutes, the disabled, and the mentally ill. The Nazi guards would routinely use their prisoners for twisted experiments. Between 1939 and 1945, more than 100,000 women would die there.

Including Betsie ten Boom.

Although Betsie and Corrie were able to find solace in their faith during their time in the camps, Betsie became ill at Ravensbrück. On Dec. 16, 1944, she died at the age of 59.

“We must tell people what we have learned here,” Betsie said shortly before her death. “That there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been there.”

Due to a stroke of extraordinary luck — a clerical error — Corrie ten Boom was released 12 days after her sister’s death. She didn’t learn about the mistake until later. After ten Boom left, all the women in her age group were sent to the gas chamber.

Corrie ten Boom’s Legacy And Postwar Life

Yad Vashem/The World Holocaust Remembrance Center<br>
Corrie ten Boom in her former home, now a museum.
Corrie ten Boom in her former home, now a museum.

After leaving Ravensbrück, Corrie ten Boom made her way home. Everything had changed. Her sister and father were dead. The city she’d known was utterly transformed.

But Corrie ten Boom hadn’t lost herself. After the war ended, she opened up a rehabilitation center for concentration camp survivors. She took the last words of her sister to heart, and spread the message that “there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still” and that “God will give us the love to be able to forgive our enemies.”

In 1947, Corrie ten Boom even forgave one of her former captors at a church in Munich.

“You mentioned Ravensbrück in your talk,” he told her. “I was a guard in there.” He didn’t recognize his former prisoner. But ten Boom recognized him. Although she remembered the trauma of her captivity, she gave forgiveness when he asked for it.

“For I had to do it — I knew that,” ten Boom wrote. “The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us.”

Yad Vashem/The World Holocaust Remembrance Center Corrie ten Boom lived to the age of 91.
Corrie ten Boom lived to the age of 91.

In the next 30 years, Corrie ten Boom spent her life spreading that message. She traveled to over 60 countries to speak about the power of forgiveness.

By the time she died at the age of 91, on April 15, 1983, ten Boom had been recognized as one of Yad Vashem’s Righteousness Among Nations, an honor given by Israel to non-Jews who helped Jews during the Holocaust. Casper and Betsie ten Boom were recognized as well. Through their efforts, they’d saved some 800 lives.

Corrie ten Boom died on the same day she was born. In Judaism, this symmetry is considered a blessing for those who have completed their mission on Earth.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, July 07, 2021 1:45pm
 
Trump sues Facebook, Twitter and Google over censorship; Americans’ First Amendment rights 'are on the line'

The Twitter logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S. | Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid
The Twitter logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S.

Former President Donald Trump has filed class-action lawsuits against leading social media companies in response to being suspended from the platforms after the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Trump filed lawsuits against Facebook, Twitter and Google, which owns YouTube, and their CEOs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai, at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The announcement was made by Trump at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Wednesday morning, in conjunction with the America First Policy Institute, the organization backing the lawsuits.

AFPI is chaired by multiple former Trump administration appointees.

"We’re demanding an end to the shadow-banning, a stop to the silencing, and a stop to the blacklisting, banishing and canceling that you know so well," Trump said during a press conference.

The lawsuits seek to “hold Big Tech very accountable,” and restore the former president's social media accounts, as well as punitive damages, so other users will not be banned by the companies, Bloomberg reported.

Twitter permanently banned Trump, who had 88.9 million followers at the time. Facebook, which owns Instagram, banned him for two years, with conditions for his return to the social networking site. The announcement was made by Nick Clegg, vice‑president for global affairs and communications at Facebook, who once served as deputy prime minister in a U.K. coalition government between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party with David Cameron as prime minister.

Trump made it clear he does not intend to back down in the lawsuits.

“We’re not looking to settle,” Trump told reporters at Bedminster when asked about the lawsuits, CNBC reported. “We don’t know what’s going to happen but we’re not looking to settle,” he said.

The Christian Post reached out to Twitter for a statement, but Twitter declined to comment.

CP also reached out to Facebook and Google for a statement regarding the lawsuits but did not receive a response by press time.

AFPI applauded Trump’s move to hold Big Tech accountable in statements released Wednesday.

Brooke Rollins, president and CEO of AFPI and former director of the Domestic Policy Council and former chief strategist at the White House, said, “all Americans” need Trump to win this case.

“There’s not much precedent for an American president taking major-media corporations to court — nor is there much precedent for an American president engaging the judiciary to shape the landscape of American freedoms after his presidency,” Rollins said in a statement released by AFPI.

“President Trump often remarked that if Big Tech is out to get him, it’s because they’re out to get the American people — and he was just standing in the way,” she continued. “The actions of the Big Tech firms we’re taking to court illustrate the point perfectly. What they’ve done, what they’ve wrought in the past few years staggers the imagination.”

Pam Bondi, chairman of the Constitutional Litigation Partnership at AFPI, said Americans’ First Amendment rights “are on the line” in this case.

“The law and Constitution are on our side,” Bondi said in a statement. “America is the great country that it is because our Constitution protects our freedoms, including freedom from censorship — this lawsuit ensures that those rights are properly defended.”

Trump’s team launched a new social media platform, GETTR, ahead of Independence Day in response to Big Tech’s free speech crackdowns on the president and other conservatives. The newest social media platform is headed by Trump adviser Jason Miller.

The new platform isn't funded by Trump, who has yet to join it.

Trump’s one-way communication social media platform, “The Desk of Donald J. Trump,” was permanently removed from his website in June after less than a month online.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation in May to punish Big Tech censorship and protect the ability of Floridians to participate freely in online platforms.

This bill will allow Floridians to sue "totalitarian" Big Tech platforms that violate this law. Trump is a resident of Florida and resides at his Palm Beach estate.

The law states that social media platforms have “unfairly censored, shadow banned, de-platformed, and applied post-prioritization algorithms to Floridians” in the past and the state has "a substantial interest in protecting its residents from inconsistent and unfair actions by social media platforms."

Many have raised concerns that Twitter has not banned violence-inciting speech including the hashtag #killalljews or suspended the accounts of Democratic politicians who called for the escalation of riots in the summer of 2020. The Black Lives Matter protests turned into violent riots in which over 20 people were killed and more than $2 billion in damage was done to small businesses and apartment buildings set on fire, leaving people homeless and without jobs.

Corporate news outlets often refer to the Jan. 6 riots as a deadly insurrection. Five people died on that day, all of them being Trump supporters.

The lone person killed by lethal force was Ashli Babbit, an unarmed U.S. Air Force veteran who attempted to climb through a smashed door pane into the House chamber. She was shot in the neck by a plainclothes officer from inside the chamber. His name has yet to be released.

Three others who reportedly died at the Capitol that day include a woman who sustained injuries after being trampled on by the crowd, an individual who suffered a heart attack, and another individual who had a stroke.

For months the media reported that Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick died as a result of injuries he suffered when responding to the riot, specifically alleging that he was hit in the head by a fire extinguisher, which was also cited by Democrats during Trump's second impeachment. Reports now say medical examiners "did not find signs that the officer sustained any blunt force trauma."

Sicknick, who died from a stroke on Jan. 7, reportedly told his family that he had been sprayed by an irritant, possibly bear spray. It's speculated that it might've contributed to his death, along with any other preexisting conditions.

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Thu, July 08, 2021 10:03am
 
Biden Calls for Door-to-Door Vaccine Push, Even at Churches, and GOP Lawmakers Are Furious

In this June 18, 2021, file photo, President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
In this June 18, 2021, file photo, President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday pleaded with Americans to get vaccinated and unveiled a new grassroots effort to make the vaccine more accessible, including going door-to-door and visiting houses of worship.

"Now we need to go community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood and often times door-to-door, literally knocking on doors, to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus," Biden said during remarks from the White House.

The president said 42,000 local pharmacies will serve as vaccine centers. The vaccines could also be made available at workplaces, summer festivals, and sporting events through mobile clinics.

Biden warned that the new Delta variant is contributing to a rise in cases and endangering lives.

“Our fight against this virus is not over,” Biden said. “Right now, as I speak to you, millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected. And because of that, their communities are at risk, their friends are at risk, the people that they care about are at risk.”

Biden was told during a briefing Tuesday that the Delta variant was responsible for half of all the new coronavirus cases in many parts of the country. “It's more easily transmissible, potentially more dangerous,” Biden said during his remarks.

Outrage Against Big Government

Numerous Republican lawmakers are furious about the Big Government intrusion into Americans' personal medical decisions.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) tweeted, "How about don’t knock on my door. You’re not my parents. You’re the government. Make the vaccine available, and let people be free to choose. Why is that concept so hard for the left?"

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) tweeted, "Wait a minute. So the Trump administration can’t even ask who is a US citizen - while doing the census - but the Biden administration can go door to door to know who isn’t vaccinated? This might just be about power to some people…"

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) tweeted, "The government now wants to go door-to-door to convince you to get an 'optional' vaccine... No American that does not want to be vaccinated should be forced. This includes our military members."

She later tweeted her concern about mutations is that "COVID-19 mutated into Communism a long time ago."

Delta Variant

The Delta variant is currently the most prominent strain of the coronavirus and is hardening the line between the fully vaccinated and those who aren’t. Scientists believe it poses an elevated threat to the unvaccinated.

Delta strain infections contributed to a 10% rise in daily COVID-19 cases late last month, according to the CDC. That’s still a 95% drop from peak levels in the U.S. in January.

Meanwhile, daily vaccination numbers have fallen steeply since they peaked in April. Still, President Biden said a total of 160 million Americans will likely be fully vaccinated by the end of the week.

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 08, 2021 10:40am
 
Grizzly bear still on the loose after pulling woman from tent, killing her; victim identified as a nurse

A helicopter from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks flies around the Ovando, Mont., area on Tuesday, July 6, 2201, in search of a bear that killed a camper early that morning. TOM BAUER/THE MISSOULIAN VIA AP
A helicopter from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks flies around the Ovando, Mont., area on Tuesday, July 6, 2201, in search of a bear that killed a camper early that morning.

A grizzly bear pulled a woman from her tent in a small Montana town in the middle of the night and killed her before fellow campers could use bear spray to force the animal out of the area, wildlife officials said Wednesday.

Leah Davis Lokan, 65, of Chico, California, was on a long-distance bicycling trip and had stopped in the western Montana town of Ovando when she was killed early Tuesday, said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials as they provided more details about the attack.

The attack triggered an intensive search for the bear by wildlife officials and law enforcement officers who planned to kill the animal.

Lokan was killed on the bear's second visit to the site where she and two fellow bicyclists were camping near the post office, officials said.

The approximately 400-pound grizzly first awakened the campers about 3 a.m., officials said. They took food out of their tents, secured it and went back to sleep, they said.

Surveillance video from a business in town showed the bear about a block from the post office about 15 minutes later, wildlife officials said.

About 4:15 a.m., the sheriff's office received a 911 call after two people in a tent near the victim's were awakened by sounds of the attack, Powell County Sheriff Gavin Roselles said. They discharged their bear spray, and the bear ran away.

The bear is also believed to have entered a chicken coop in town that night, killing and eating several chickens.

Officials searched by helicopter for the grizzly again Wednesday but couldn't find it.

"At this point, our best chance for catching this bear will be culvert traps set in the area near the chicken coop where the bear killed and ate several chickens," said Randy Arnold, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks regional supervisor in Missoula.

The bear will be killed if it is found, said Greg Lemon, a spokesperson for Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Investigators have obtained DNA from the bear at the scene of the attack and will be able to compare it with any bruin they are able to trap, the agency said.

Lokan, a registered nurse who had worked at a hospital in Chico, had looked forward to the Montana bike trip for months, said Mary Flowers, a friend of the victim's from Chico. Lokan had taken previous long-distance bike trips and on this one was accompanied by her sister and a friend, Flowers said.

"She loved these kind of adventures. A woman in her 60s, and she's doing this kind of stuff -- she had a passion for life that was out of the ordinary," Flowers said.

Montana's grizzly and human populations have both risen substantially since 1975, when the bears were protected under the Endangered Species Act, "60 Minutes" correspondent Bill Whitaker reported last year.

Grizzly bears have run into increasing conflict with humans in the Northern Rockies over the past decade.That has spurred calls from elected officials in Montana and neighboring Wyoming and Idaho to lift protections so the animals could be hunted.

Ovando, about 60 miles northwest of Helena, is a community of fewer than 100 people at the edge of the sprawling Bob Marshall wilderness.

North of Ovando lies an expanse of forests and mountains, including Glacier National Park that stretches to Canada and is home to an estimated 1,000 grizzlies. It's the largest concentration of the bruins in the contiguous U.S.

Fatal attacks are rare in the region. There have been three in the last 20 years, including Tuesday's mauling, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In 2001, a hunter was killed by a grizzly with two cubs while he was gutting an elk at a wildlife management area west of Ovando. The three animals were shot and killed by wildlife officials days later.

Over the past 20 years, there have been eight fatal maulings of people by grizzlies from a separate population of about 700 bears in and around Yellowstone National Park. In April, a backcountry guide was killed by a grizzly bear while fishing along the park's border in southwestern Montana.

Bears that attack people are not always killed if the mauling resulted from a surprise encounter or the bear was defending its young. But the bear involved in Lokan's death is considered a public safety threat because of the circumstances of the attack, Lemon said.

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 08, 2021 1:41pm
 
The Unbelievable Story Of Dick Proenneke, The Man Who Lived Alone In The Alaskan Wilderness For 30 Years

Wikimedia Commons Dick Proenneke’s cabin sheltered him from the elements during cold Alaskan winters.
Dick Proenneke’s cabin sheltered him from the elements during cold Alaskan winters.

Richard Proenneke did what most nature buffs can only dream of: At age 51, he quit his job as a mechanic and moved to the Alaskan outback to become one with nature. He set up camp on the shores of Twin Lakes. There, surrounded by mighty glaciers and solemn pine trees, he would remain for the next 30 years.

The Alaskan wilderness is as beautiful as it is dangerous, especially if traversing it alone. If Proenneke were to ever run out of food supplies, it would take him several days to reach civilization. If he ever fell out of the canoe he used for fishing, he would instantly freeze to death in the icy water.

But Proenneke didn’t just survive in this harsh environment — he thrived. Sheltered by the elements inside a cabin he built from scratch with his own two hands, he lived out the remainder of his life with a smile on his face. To the park rangers that would occasionally check in on him, he was as wise and content as an old monk.

Equal parts Henry David Thoreau and trapper Hugh Glass, Proenneke is widely remembered for both his practical survival skills and his gentle musings about man’s relationship with nature. Though long dead, his cabin has become a monument for survivalists and conservationists alike.

Dick Proenneke Loved To Venture Off The Beaten Path

Wikimedia commons The cabin Proenneke would build on Twin Lakes in his 50s included a stone fireplace.The cabin Proenneke would build on Twin Lakes in his 50s included a stone fireplace.

Richard “Dick” Proenneke was born on May 4, 1916, in Primrose, Iowa the second of four sons. He inherited his craftiness from his father William, a carpenter and well driller. His love of nature can be traced back to his mother, who enjoyed gardening.

Ever one to venture off the beaten path, Proenneke received little to no formal education. He briefly attended high school, but dropped out after just two years. Feeling he did not belong in a classroom, he spent his 20s working on the family farm.

At this age, Proenneke’s longing for the quiet life had to contend with his passion for gadgetry. When he wasn’t on the farm, he was cruising around town on his Harley Davidson. He got to work with even bigger machines when joining the U.S. Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Proenneke’s Voyage North

Alaska Kodiak Island Town Wikimedia Commons Proenneke spent several years in the Alaskan city of Kodiak before moving up to Twin Lakes.
Proenneke spent several years in the Alaskan city of Kodiak before moving up to Twin Lakes.

Proenneke, who had never caught as much as a cold, contracted rheumatic fever while stationed in San Francisco. Six months later, he was discharged from both the hospital and the army. Reminded of his own mortality, he knew he wanted to change his life. But he didn’t yet know how.

For the time being, he decided to move north, where the forests were. First to Oregon, where he ranched sheep, and then to Alaska. Based out of the island city of Kodiak, he worked as a repairman, technician, and fisherman. Before long, tales of his skills as a handyman that could fix anything spread across the state.

A welding accident that nearly cost Proenneke his eyesight proved the last straw. After making a complete recovery, he decided to retire early and move somewhere where he could cherish the eyesight that might have otherwise been taken from him. Fortunately, he knew just the place.

How Richard Proenneke Built His Dream Home From Scratch

Twin Lakes View Sky Wikimedia Commons Proenneke built his cabin on the remote shores of Twin Lakes.
Proenneke built his cabin on the remote shores of Twin Lakes.

Today, Twin Lakes is best known for being Proenneke’s private retirement home. Back in the 60s, however, people knew it only as a was a complex of deep blue lakes nestled between tall, snow-covered mountains. Tourists came and went, but no one ever stayed for long.

Then, Proenneke came along. Having visited the area before, he set up camp on the southern shores of the lake.
Thanks to his carpeting, Proenneke was able to construct a cozy cabin from trees he cut and carved on his own. The finished home included a chimney, bunk bed, and large window overlooking the water.

Needless to say, Proenneke’s cabin didn’t come with easy access to electricity. Hot meals had to be prepared over a fireplace. In lieu of a fridge, Proenneke kept his food stored in containers he would bury deep underground so they wouldn’t freeze during the seven months of severe winter.

Proenneke Survives The Ghostly Silence Of The Wilderness

Proennek Cabin Meat Storage Wikimedia Commons Proenneke’s built meat storage on stilts to keep off wild animals.
Proenneke built meat storage on stilts to keep off wild animals.

For Proenneke, starting a new life out in the wilderness was about fulfilling a childhood dream. But he also wanted to prove something to himself. “Was I equal to everything this wild land could throw at me?” he wrote in his diary.

“I had seen its moods in late spring, summer and early fall,” that same entry continues. “But what about the winter? Would I love the isolation then? With its bone-stabbing cold, its ghostly silence? At age 51, I decided to find out.”

During the 30 years he stayed at Twin Lakes, Proenneke filled up more than 250 notepads with his diary entries. He also carried a camera and tripod with him, which he used to record some of his daily activities, in case anyone would ever be interested to see how he lived.

Along with a biography composed by his friend Sam Keith, Proenneke’s notepads and camera footage were later turned into a documentary, Alone in the Wilderness, which shows Proenneke’s simple lifestyle in all its glory. The film was released in 2004, one year after Proenneke’s death.

Richard Proenneke’s Spirit Never Left Alaska

Proenneke_Cabin_NPS Wikimedia Commons After Proenneke’s death, park rangers turned his cabin into a monument.
After Proenneke’s death, park rangers turned his cabin into a monument.

Interestingly, Proenneke didn’t breathe his last breath overlooking Twin Lakes. Though at age 81 he could still outrace young visitors on a hike up to his favorite rock, he left Twin Lakes and flew back to California in 1998 to spend the last chapter of his life with his brother.

In his will, Proenneke left behind his Twin Lakes cabin to the park rangers as a gift. It was a little ironic, considering Proenneke had technically never owned the land on which he lived. Nonetheless, he had become such an integral part of the park’s ecosystem that the rangers had trouble imagining life without him.

Today, Proenneke’s slower, simpler lifestyle remains an inspiration to many. “I have found that some of the simplest things have given me the most pleasure,” he wrote in his diaries. “Did you ever pick blueberries after a summer rain? Pull on dry woolen socks after you’ve peeled off the wet ones? Come in out of the subzero and shiver yourself warm in front of a wood fire? The world is full of such things.”

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 08, 2021 2:39pm
 
Men Have Fewer Close Friends Today Than They Did Three Decades Ago, Survey Shows

According to a new survey by the Survey Center of American Life, there has been a significant decline in having close friends among Americans, especially men

According to a new survey by the Survey Center of American Life, there has been a significant decline in having close friends among Americans, especially men, in the past 30 years.

In 1990, most men (55 percent) reported having at least six close friends, whereas, today, just 27 percent of men say the same.

Also, today, 15 percent of men report having no close friends, a stark difference from the 3 percent of men who reported the same thing in 1990.

While women have also seen a decline in friends, it is not as prominent as men.

Roughly four in ten (41 percent) of women reported having six or more friends in 1990, while 24 percent report the same today. Meanwhile, there was a 10 percent increase in women who said they have no close friends today compared to 1990.

In general, fewer American adults also reported having a best friend today (59 percent) as compared to 1990 (77 percent).

The survey cited the COVID-19 pandemic and Americans marrying later and becoming more geographically mobile as some of the reasons for the decline in friendships. Additionally, American parents are working longer hours and spending twice as much time with their children than past generations.

For young Americans, many are increasingly turning to their parents for emotional and personal support as their friendship circle shrinks.

In 1990, some 45 percent of young men reported turning to close friends for support, Just 22 percent of young men reported the same thing today. Meanwhile, some 36 percent say the first person to call for help is their parents.

The study also found that 53 percent of Americans reach out to their spouse or partner as the first person when facing personal problems. According to an earlier report in Harper’s Bazaar, women are the ones who bear the burden for men’s lack of friendships.

“Men don’t usually put the effort into maintaining friendships once they’re married,” artist Lindsay Johnson told the publication. “The guys at work are the only people other than me that my husband even talks to, so when some of these men retire, they expect their wives to be their source of entertainment and even get jealous that they have a life.”

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 09, 2021 10:03pm
 
San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus faces backlash after releasing ‘we’re coming for your children’ video

The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has faced intense backlash after releasing a song

The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has faced intense backlash after releasing a song that many believe is intent on pushing the LGBT agenda on children.

In the song, which was released earlier this month but made private Thursday following immense public criticism, the choir sings such phrases as, “we’ll convert your children” and “we’re coming for your children,” which was viewed as an overt threat to parents.

"You think we're sinful. You fight against our rights,” one choir member sings in a solo at the beginning of the song. “You say we all lead lives you can't respect. But you're just frightened.”

“You think that we’ll corrupt your kids if our agenda goes unchecked,” he continues. “Funny, just this once, you’re correct. We’ll convert your children. Happens bit by bit. Quietly and subtly. And you will barely notice it.”

“You can keep them from disco,” the full chorus sings. “Warn about San Francisco. Make ’em wear pleated pants. We don’t care. We’ll convert your children. We’ll make them tolerant and fair ... The gay agenda is coming home."

The “We’re Coming For Your Children” song went viral, and after being slammed on social media, the choir released a statement on Twitter regarding the backlash.

“The far-right conservative media found [our video] and have taken it as their cause,” the choir said in a statement released Thursday. “This has all happened in the past 24 hours and it continues to pick up steam. They have taken the lyrics out of context to support a narrative that suits their intolerant and hateful needs. It is obvious this tongue-in-cheek humor is lost on many.”

The choir said it made the video private to keep members of the chorus in the video safe due to “vitriolic” threats of harm and comments that became “increasingly alarming.” The choir added that it's in contact with local and national law enforcement regarding the threats and will take legal steps.

The video, titled “A Message From the Gay Community,” reportedly received 88 likes and 5,000 dislikes before it was made private, according to The Post Millennial.

The song was written by Rosser and Sohne, the duo that previously apologized for writing music endorsing Afghan child sex abuse, according to Andy Ngô, editor-at-large for The Post Millennial.

Conservative podcast host Ben Shapiro, editor emeritus for The Daily Wire, reacted to the video by saying he doubts the song was actually a “tongue-and-cheek” parody, as the choir said in its statement.

“The left has a very different vision of what America ought to be and the way they’re going to achieve this is by changing how your kids are taught,” Shapiro said.

“And if you push back on them, then this, of course, makes you the true threat to the kids. …,” he continued. “If you want to separate the country, this is how you are going to separate the country. As I say, I’m going to educate my kids how I want to educate my kids. Frankly, I am not interested in what the San Francisco Gay Men’s Choir thinks my kids should learn.”

Multiple pastors and Christian leaders expressed their disapproval of the LGBT agenda that's promoted in the video.

Arizona-based pastor and apologist James White tweeted about the song, saying, “Reason #1,462,908 to homeschool and communicate a passionate, deep Christian worldview that explains how men are to be men, women to be women, and all are to be thankful for the gifts and roles God has given.”

Similarly, Andrew T. Walker of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary quipped, “But remember, everyone, it's the religious conservatives who spend their day plotting the next chapter of the culture war.”

In its statement, the choir added that it was working to control the narrative and is dedicated to “being role models, teaching and spreading the message of love, tolerance and celebration through our music.”

“After decades of our children being indoctrinated and taught intolerance for anyone who is ‘other,’ from using Bible as a weapon to reparative therapy, it’s our turn,” the choir’s statement continued.

Although the choir sings about teaching children not to hate, the chorus repeats the phrases, “We’re coming for them. We’re coming for your children.”

The song ends with the choir singing, “no escaping it,” and once the children are converted, they will “start converting you.”

"Your children will care about fairness and justice for others,” the song continues. “Your children will work to convert all their sisters and brothers. Then soon we’re almost certain, your kids will start converting you!"

"We'll make an ally of you yet. The gay agenda is coming home,” the choir sings. “The gay agenda is here! But you don't have to worry because there's nothing wrong with standing by our side."

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 09, 2021 10:31pm
 
A Teen Couple Have Been Arrested For Killing The Girl’s Father — Then Filming Themselves Laughing About The Murder

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police/Salt Lake County<br>
Sierra Halseth and Aaron Guerrero now face murder charges.
Sierra Halseth and Aaron Guerrero now face murder charges.

On April 9, Las Vegas police found 45-year-old Daniel Halseth’s body in his garage. He’d been stabbed about 70 times, stuffed into a sleeping bag, and set on fire.

But his killers had left plenty of evidence. By following clues like receipts and surveillance tapes, police soon found the incriminating self-recorded cell phone video.

The video starts with two young lovers, 18-year-old Aaron Guerrero and 16-year-old Sierra Halseth, in an embrace. They lie on the floor and look up at the camera, Halseth nestled into the crook of Guerrero’s arm.

Sierra Halseth Aaron Guerrero Video KLAS A still from the video police recovered from Halseth’s phone.
A still from the video police recovered from Halseth’s phone.

“Welcome back to our YouTube channel,” Guerrero jokes. “Day three after murdering somebody…”

“Whoa,” Halseth gasps, giggling. “Don’t put that on camera.”

But Guerrero goes on. “It was worth it,” he says, pulling Halseth close and kissing her on the head.

“And we had sex a lot today,” Halseth adds, to which Guerrero responds: “Payment for doing it.”

Both have now been charged with the murder of Sierra’s father.

Daniel Halseth Sierra Halseth Facebook Sierra Halseth and her father, Daniel.
Sierra Halseth and her father, Daniel.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Halseth and Guerrero had dated from June to December 2020. But when their parents learned that the teenagers had plotted to run away together to Los Angeles, they forbade them from seeing each other.

In response, Halseth and Guerrero allegedly conspired to kill her father, Daniel. Police say that after the couple stabbed him repeatedly, they attempted to dismember his body and set the house on fire before fleeing the state.

Meanwhile, Halseth’s family began to grow worried after Daniel didn’t respond to messages.

“Hey, Sierra, I’m trying to get a hold of your dad, where is he?” Christine Halseth, Daniel’s mother, messaged her granddaughter.

The 16-year-old texted back, “His phone has been acting up but he’s okiej, it should be fixed by tomorrow night, no worries”

“Thanks for getting back to me,” Christine wrote. “Love you.”

However, as her son’s silence continued, Christine Halseth did worry. And for a good reason. Soon after the text exchange, police found Daniel Halseth’s body “burned from head to toe.” An autopsy later revealed that he had suffered burns to 40 percent of his body.

But the police didn’t have to look far to find the killer.

Sierra Halseth In Court Twitter Sierra Halseth in court.
Sierra Halseth in court.

At the scene, police found multiple receipts from WinCo supermarket and Home Depot for items like bleach, both a circular saw and a chainsaw, lighter fluid, and gloves.

Then, by consulting surveillance footage at the two stores, police saw videos they say show Halseth and Guerrero — with bleach, a circular saw, and lighter fluid. They also found surveillance video of Halseth using her father’s debit cards.

They caught up to the teens in Salt Lake City, Utah. After confiscating Sierra Halseth’s phone, investigators came across the disturbing video — in which Halseth and Guerrero appear to admit to murder.

Now, both Halseth and Guerrero face nine felony counts each in connection with the homicide.

Sierra Halseth Aaron Guerrero Video Stills KLAS Halseth and Guerrero filmed themselves discussing “murdering somebody” and pantomimed choking while giggling.
Halseth and Guerrero filmed themselves discussing “murdering somebody” and pantomimed choking while giggling.

At an arraignment hearing on June 25, both pleaded not guilty. They are charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, arson, and four counts of fraudulent use of credit or debit cards.

Although just 16-years-old, Sierra Halseth was charged as an adult, but in accordance with Nevada law will not face the death penalty because she is under 18. However, because Aaron Guerrero has turned 18, he could face execution for the crime.

Meanwhile, Sierra Halseth’s family is first and foremost mourning the death of her father.

Daniel Halseth was a “father, brother, and son, who was the heart of the Halseth family,” his family said in a statement. They called his death a “horrific, savage, senseless, and violent act of murder” that has left them “heartbroken.”

And the Halseth family wants Sierra and her boyfriend to pay a heavy price for what they did. In a statement, the family said, “The total lack of remorse on display in the video is both reprehensible and unforgivable.”

For now, the Halseth family is “waiting for justice to be served with the maximum accountability allowed.”

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 09, 2021 10:51pm
 
Judge Denies Woman’s Divorce Proceedings, Orders Her to Appear in Sharia Tribunal

women in hijab

A judge in Texas has ordered a Muslim woman seeking a divorce from her husband to appear in a tribunal governed by Sharia law.

Collin County District Judge Andrea Thompson ruled in March that Mariam Ayad must forego the justice system’s legal paths for divorce and instead submit to mediation under a Fiqh panel governed by a Muslim group based in Saudi Arabia, according to the Washington Examiner.

The judge based her decision on the fact that Ayad signed a prenuptial agreement with her husband, Ayad Hashim Latif, stating she would permit her marriage — if necessary — to be arbitrated by Sharia.

Court documents, however, suggest Ayad didn’t know what she was signing when she endorsed the prenuptial agreement. She said she believed she was signing duplicate copies of her marriage acknowledgment form.

Ayad’s legal complaint argues that the Islamic tribunal violates her rights as defined by the U.S. Constitution as well as the Texas Constitution, pointing out that “a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s.”

“The application of Islamic law means that the weight and credibility of the evidence provided by [the] wife will be half of that of any male who testifies or provides evidence, including [the] husband,” the document states. “Thus, [the] wife will neither be meaningfully heard nor afforded a meaningful opportunity to present evidence material to the controversy.”

Despite Ayad’s concerns, Thompson said the agreement was legally binding.

A new ruling issued in June reaffirmed the judge’s earlier decision, ordering her case to fall under the jurisdiction of the Islamic Association of North Texas, one of the largest Islamic groups in the Lone Star state.

Ayad’s attorney has taken the matter to the Texas appeals court, arguing the terms of the prenuptial agreement are “unconscionable,” noting Ayad’s coerced signature “was derived by fraud and duress.”

The agreement, the lawyer said, “is invalid and unenforceable.”

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Posted by Temmy
Sun, July 11, 2021 4:47pm
 
Biden won’t send US troops to Haiti despite interim leader’s request

The Biden administration has declined the request of Haiti’s Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph for U.S. troops as the impoverished nation struggles

The Biden administration has declined the request of Haiti’s Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph for U.S. troops as the impoverished nation struggles in the social and political aftermath of the assassination of President Jouvenal Moïse.

The U.S. will only send security officials to assess the situation, senior officials said Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported, adding that the interim leader has imposed a two-week state of emergency and had requested the U.S. to deploy troops to protect infrastructure ahead of elections that had been scheduled for September.

Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security were to arrive in Haiti on Sunday.

“We need U.S. troops to help us provide security to the population, to efficiently confront the COVID-19 pandemic and to assist in the investigation of Mr. Moïse’s assassination,” a spokesman for Joseph was quoted as saying.

The interim leadership of Joseph, who was an ally of the president, is being challenged by some Haitian politicians. He took charge after the killing of Moïse on Wednesday, which occurred the day after the president appointed a new prime minister, neurosurgeon Ariel Henry. President Moïse was also accused of corruption, having ties to criminal gangs, and overstaying his tenure.

The slain president’s wife, Martine Moïse, was also critically wounded in Wednesday’s attack by an armed commando of 28 men, 26 of whom were Colombians and two were Haitian-Americans. She addressed the nation on social media on Saturday.

“I am alive, thanks to God,” she said in an audio message posted on Twitter, France 24 reported. “I am alive but I have lost my husband Jovenel. … In the blink of an eye, the mercenaries entered my home and riddled my husband with bullets ... without even giving him a chance to say a word. I am crying, it is true, but we cannot let the country lose its way. We cannot let his blood ... have been spilled in vain.”

Meanwhile, the AP reports that James Solages, an American arrested in relation to the killing of Moïse, worked alongside Hollywood actor Sean Penn to rebuild the country after the 2010 earthquake that killed at least 300,000 people.

Until 2011, Solages worked as a driver and in a security capacity for Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization, according to three anonymous sources who are familiar with the actor’s relief work in Haiti.

Solages, 35, studied in Florida and started a charity in 2019 to help residents of his hometown of Jacmel, along Haiti’s southern coast.

Haiti has seen an increase in crime since last year.

The United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti stated in a February report that there were 234 kidnappings in the previous 12 months, an increase of 200% from the previous year.

Authorities in Haiti reported 1,380 killings in 2020.

According to the watchdog group Fondasyon Je Klere, over 150 gangs operate in Haiti.

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Sun, July 11, 2021 5:06pm
 
The Inside Story Of Anthony Bourdain’s Death — And The Downward Spiral That Preceded It

Paulo Fridman/Corbis/Getty Images When Anthony Bourdain died in 2018, he left a gaping hole in the culinary world.
When Anthony Bourdain died in 2018, he left a gaping hole in the culinary world.

From exposing the seedy underbelly of the restaurant industry to dining with President Obama in Vietnam, it’s no wonder why Anthony Bourdain was called the “original rock star” of the culinary world. Unlike other celebrity chefs, his appeal stretched far beyond the delicious food he cooked and ate. This made Anthony Bourdain’s death all the more tragic.

On June 8, 2018, Anthony Bourdain was found dead of an apparent suicide at Le Chambard Hotel in Kaysersberg-Vignoble, France. His body was discovered by fellow chef Éric Ripert, who had been filming an episode of Bourdain’s travel show Parts Unknown with him. Ripert became concerned when Bourdain missed dinner the night before and breakfast that morning.

Sadly, by the time Ripert found Bourdain in his hotel room, it was too late — America’s most beloved travel guide was already gone. Anthony Bourdain’s cause of death was later revealed to be suicide by hanging, and he had used a belt from his hotel bathrobe to end his life. He was 61 years old.

Despite his massive success, Bourdain had a troubled past. During his early years of working in restaurants, he had developed an addiction to heroin and other problems that he later said should have killed him when he was in his 20s. While Bourdain eventually recovered from his heroin addiction, he continued to struggle with his mental health throughout his life.

While it’s impossible to tell what was going through Bourdain’s mind during his final moments, there’s little doubt that his personal struggles played a role in his demise. While many were shocked by the suddenness of his death, others were not that surprised. But today, most who knew him simply miss their friend. And there’s a lot about him to miss.

Flickr/Paula Piccard A young and wild Anthony Bourdain.
A young and wild Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Michael Bourdain was born on June 25, 1956, in New York City, New York, but spent most of his youth in Leonia, New Jersey. As a teenager, Bourdain enjoyed going to the movies with friends and gathering at restaurant tables to discuss what they had seen for dessert.

Bourdain was inspired to enter the culinary world after he tried an oyster on a family vacation in France. Freshly caught by a fisherman, the tasty catch led Bourdain to work in seafood restaurants while attending Vassar College. He dropped out after two years, but he never abandoned the kitchen.

He attended the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1978. While most of his early jobs in restaurants involved tasks like dishwashing, he steadily moved up in the ranks of the kitchen. By 1998, Bourdain had become the executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in New York City. Around this time, he was also chronicling his experiences in the “culinary underbelly.”

The future celebrity chef wrote candidly about his heroin addiction, as well as his use of LSD, psilocybin, and cocaine. But he wasn’t the only one who struggled with these vices while working in restaurants in the 1980s. As he later explained, “In America, the professional kitchen is the last refuge of the misfit. It’s a place for people with bad pasts to find a new family.”

Anthony Bourdain Holding Peabody Award

Wikimedia Commons Anthony Bourdain was given a Peabody Award in 2013 for expanding our palates and horizons in equal measure.
Anthony Bourdain was given a Peabody Award in 2013 for expanding our palates and horizons in equal measure.

In 1999, Bourdain’s writing made him famous. He published an eye-catching article in The New Yorker titled “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” exposing some unsavory secrets of the culinary world. The article was such a hit that he expanded on it in 2000 with the book Kitchen Confidential.

Not only did his book become a bestseller, but he soon saw even more success with A Cook’s Tour. That book was turned into a TV series — which led to Bourdain’s world-famous No Reservations show in 2005.

Though Bourdain had found success in the literary world, he truly arrived when he went on TV. From No Reservations to the Peabody Award-winning series Parts Unknown, he explored culinary cultures all over the world as a humble tour guide to hidden pockets of life and food.

He had become the toast of the town as his honest depiction of people, culture, and cuisines found a global legion of fans. And as a former heroin addict, Bourdain inspired countless people with his remarkably honest story of recovery. But things were far from perfect in his world.

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic Anthony Bourdain and his last girlfriend, Asia Argento, in 2017.
Anthony Bourdain and his last girlfriend, Asia Argento, in 2017.

Just a couple of years before his suicide, Bourdain publicly visited a psychotherapist in Buenos Aires, Argentina on an episode of Parts Unknown. While this episode, like others, focused on unique dishes and fascinating people, it also showed a darker side to Bourdain’s relationship with food.

While talking to the psychotherapist, he confessed that something as small as eating a bad hamburger at the airport could send him into “a spiral of depression that can last for days.” He also expressed a desire to be “happier.”

It seemed like he was happier than ever when he first met Italian actress Asia Argento in 2017 while filming an episode of Parts Unknown in Rome. Though Bourdain’s first marriage had ended in divorce and his second in separation, he was clearly overjoyed to begin a new romance with Argento.

Still, he continued to struggle with his mental health. He often brought up death, wondering out loud how he would die and how he would kill himself if he decided to end his own life. In one of his last interviews, he said that he was going to “die in the saddle” — a sentiment that later proved chilling.

Despite his enviable career as a travel documentarian, he was haunted by darkness that he couldn’t seem to shake. This coupled with his rigorous schedule likely made him feel exhausted whenever the cameras were off.

Le Chambard Hotel

Wikimedia Commons Le Chambard Hotel in Kaysersberg-Vignoble, France, the site of Anthony Bourdain’s death.
Le Chambard Hotel in Kaysersberg-Vignoble, France, the site of Anthony Bourdain’s death.

Five days before Bourdain’s death, paparazzi photos were released of Argento dancing with another man, French reporter Hugo Clément. While it was later reported that Bourdain and Argento were in an open relationship, some people speculated on how the photos had made Bourdain feel. But it’s impossible to say exactly what was going through his mind.

At 9:10 a.m. on June 8, 2018, Anthony Bourdain was found dead at Le Chambard Hotel in Kaysersberg-Vignoble, France. Tragically, Anthony Bourdain’s cause of death was soon revealed to be an apparent suicide. His friend Éric Ripert, with whom he had been filming Parts Unknown, was the one to discover the body hanging in the hotel room.

“Anthony was a dear friend,” Ripert later said. “He was an exceptional human being, so inspiring and generous. One of the great storytellers of our time who connected with so many. I wish him peace. My love and prayers are with his family, friends, and loved ones.”

For the prosecutor of Colmar, the city closest to the hotel, Anthony Bourdain’s cause of death was clear from the very beginning. “We have no reason to suspect foul play,” said Christian de Rocquigny. That said, it wasn’t immediately clear whether drugs played a role in the suicide.

But a couple of weeks later, Bourdain’s toxicology report showed no trace of any narcotics and only a trace of a non-narcotic medication. Experts noted that his suicide appeared to be an “impulsive act.”

The Aftermath Of A Legendary Chef’s Demise

Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Mourning fans at Brasserie Les Halles in New York City on June 9, 2018.
Mourning fans at Brasserie Les Halles in New York City on June 9, 2018.

Shortly after Bourdain’s death, mourning fans gathered at Brasserie Les Halles to leave tributes. Colleagues at CNN and even President Obama tweeted their condolences. And Bourdain’s loved ones expressed their disbelief, with his mother saying he was “absolutely the last person in the world I would have ever dreamed would do something like this.”

Some devastated fans wondered why Bourdain killed himself — especially since he had recently claimed that he “had things to live for.” A few even floated ominous theories that Bourdain’s outspoken views had somehow led to his death. For example, Bourdain publicly supported Argento when she revealed that she had been raped by Harvey Weinstein, a former film producer who was later imprisoned for other sex crimes.

Bourdain, never one to bite his tongue, was a vocal ally of the #MeToo movement, using his public platform to speak out against not only Weinstein but other famous people who had been accused of sex crimes. While many women were grateful to Bourdain for speaking up on their behalf, his activism undoubtedly made some powerful people angry.

Still, authorities insisted that there were no signs of foul play at the scene of his death. And there has never been any confirmed evidence that Anthony Bourdain’s cause of death was anything else other than a tragic suicide.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images/Food Network/SoBe Wine & Food Festival Anthony Bourdain and Éric Ripert in 2014
Anthony Bourdain and Éric Ripert in 2014.

As time went on, Bourdain’s family, friends, and colleagues began to honor his memory in a variety of ways. About a year after he died, Éric Ripert and some other famous chefs designated June 25th as “Bourdain Day” to pay tribute to their late friend — on what would’ve been his 63rd birthday.

More recently, the documentary film Roadrunner explored Bourdain’s life through home videos, snippets from TV shows, and interviews with those who knew him best. The movie — scheduled to be released in theaters on July 16, 2021 — also includes some never-before-seen footage of Bourdain.

While the film touches on Bourdain’s gravitation toward “darkness,” it also shows the beautiful impact that he had on other people during his travels throughout the world and his all-too-short journey through life.

As Bourdain once said, “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

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Sun, July 11, 2021 6:28pm
 
Italy wins UEFA Euro 2020, beating England 3-2 in penalty kicks

Bukayo Saka of England misses his team's fifth penalty in a shootout which is saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma of Italy during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. PAUL ELLIS/ GETTY IMAGES
Bukayo Saka of England misses his team's fifth penalty in a shootout which is saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma of Italy during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021.

Italian soccer's redemption story is complete. England's painful half-century wait for a major title goes on.

And it just had to be because of a penalty shootout.

Italy won the European Championship for the second time by beating England 3-2 on penalties on Sunday. The match finished 1-1 after extra time at Wembley Stadium, which was filled mostly with English fans hoping to celebrate the team's first international trophy since the 1966 World Cup.

"It's coming to Rome. It's coming to Rome," Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci shouted into a TV camera amid the celebrations, mocking the famous lyric "it's coming home" from the England team's anthem.

For England, it was utter dejection again — they know the feeling so well when it comes to penalties — after Gianluigi Donnarumma, Italy's imposing goalkeeper, dived to his left and saved the decisive spot kick by 19-year-old Londoner Bukayo Saka, one of the youngest players in England's squad.

That was England's third straight failure from the penalty spot in the shootout, with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho — players brought on late in extra time seemingly as specialist penalty-takers — also missing.

As Saka and Sancho cried, Donnarumma was mobbed by his teammates as they sprinted toward him from the halfway line at the end of the second penalty shootout in a European Championship final.

Then Italy's jubilant players headed to the other end of the field and ran as one, diving to the ground in front of the Italian fans who have witnessed a rebirth of their national team.

It was less than four years ago that Italy plunged to the lowest moment of its soccer history by failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades. Now, they are the best team in Europe and on a national-record 34-match unbeaten run under Roberto Mancini, their suave coach who has won an international trophy in his first attempt to add to the country's other European title — in 1968 — and its four World Cups.

Mancini joined his players on the podium as Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini lifted the Henri Delaunay trophy to the backdrop of fireworks and tickertape.

"It was impossible even to just consider this at one stage," Mancini said, "but the guys were just amazing. I have no words for them."

For England, it's the latest heartache in shootouts at major tournaments, after defeats in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2012. They ended that losing streak by beating Colombia on penalties in the round of 16 at the 2018 World Cup, but the pain has quickly returned.

"The boys couldn't have given more," England captain Harry Kane said. "Penalties are the worst feeling in the world when you lose. It's been a fantastic tournament — we should be proud, hold our heads up high. It's going to hurt now, it's going to hurt for a while."

England's first major final in 55 years had all started so well, too, with Luke Shaw scoring the fastest goal in a European Championship final by meeting a cross from opposite wing back Kieran Trippier with a half-volley that went in off the post in the second minute.

It was Shaw's first goal for England and it prompted a fist-pump between David Beckham and Tom Cruise in the VIP box amid an explosion of joy around Wembley, which had at least 67,000 fans inside. Maybe more, given dozens of ticketless England fans managed to barge their way past stewards and police and into the stadium in unsettling scenes before kickoff.

That was the only time Italy's famously robust defense was really opened up in the entire 120 minutes.

Indeed, after Shaw's goal, England barely saw the ball for the rest of the game.

Italy's midfielders dominated possession, as widely predicted before the match, and England simply resorted to dropping deep and getting nine or even all 10 outfield players behind the ball. It was reminiscent of the 2018 World Cup semifinals, when England also scored early against Croatia then spent most of the game chasing its opponent's midfield before losing in extra time.

Italy's equalizer was merited and Bonucci was the unlikely scorer. He put the ball in from close range after a right-wing corner was flicked on to Marco Verratti, whose stooping header was tipped onto the post by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

England managed to hold on for extra time — the way three of the last six European finals went — and actually had the better of the final stages.

Just not the shootout, again.

After the misses of Rashford — he stuttered up to the ball and then hit the post — and Sancho, whose shot was saved by Donnarumma again down to his left, Jorginho had the chance to win it for Italy.

Incredibly, the midfielder who converted the decisive penalty in a shootout win over Spain in the semifinals also failed to score as Pickford tipped the effort off the post.

It was Donnarumma who then made the crucial saves and within minutes he had also been named player of the tournament, the first goalkeeper to be so honored.

So instead of coming home, the trophy is headed to Rome.

"We'd heard it day in, day out from Wednesday night — we heard it would be coming home to London," Bonucci said. "I'm sorry for them, but the cup will be taking a nice flight, making its way to Rome so Italians all over the world can savor this."

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Mon, July 12, 2021 10:23am
 
Thousands of Cubans stage largest protest against communist dictatorship in decades

The Cuban national flag is seen raised over their new embassy in Washington, July 20, 2015. | Reuters/Andrew Harnik/Pool
The Cuban national flag is seen raised over their new embassy in Washington, July 20, 2015.

The people of Cuba on Sunday demonstrated their anger against the communist government in what is said to be the largest protest in decades amid shortages of medicine and food during the pandemic.

Protests were held in cities around the Caribbean island country, including in San Antonio de los Baños, Palma Soriano and Havana, according to reports.

“It is the most massive popular demonstration to protest the government that we have experienced in Cuba since ’59,” the year Fidel Castro took power, Cuban activist Carolina Barrero was quoted as telling The New York Times.

She called the protests “spontaneous, frontal and forceful.”

The slogans people shouted included "Yes we can!" and “Freedom,” The Washington Post reported. Videos also emerged on social media.

Cuba has been a one-party state under the Communist Party of Cuba since the late dictator Fidel Castro overthrew the United States-supported dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959. In 2008, Castro’s brother Raul Castro was elected president, followed by Miguel Díaz-Canel in 2019.

International travel restrictions and monthslong COVID-19 lockdown within the country have caused an economic crisis in Cuba.

Hours after the protests erupted, President Díaz-Canel addressed the nation on national television, urging government supporters to confront the protesters on the streets. He also accused the U.S. of causing the crisis in Cuba by imposing sanctions.

Public officials from Florida, where many Cuban migrants and refugees live, backed the Cuban people’s protest.

“Florida supports the people of Cuba as they take to the streets against the tyrannical regime in Havana,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wrote on Twitter.

“The Cuban dictatorship has repressed the people of Cuba for decades & is now trying to silence those who have the courage to speak out against its disastrous policies."

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a Cuban-American, warned Cuba was likely to impose an information crackdown on its people.

“The incompetent communist party of #Cuba it cannot feed the people or protect them from the virus. Now the military must defend the people, not the communist party,” he tweeted.

Rubio also said he would request President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to “ask the members of the Cuban army not to shoot at their people.”

The Cuban government amended its Constitution in 1992, declaring Cuba a secular state instead of an atheist state, partially allowing religious activities. Since then, the percentage of the country’s population that identifies as Christian has grown. However, the communist regime of Cuba persecutes Christians. A new constitution was adopted in 2019, which also lists the country as a secular state.

According to the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project, about 59% of Cubans are Christian. Cuban Christians face constant government surveillance and infiltration even though the church is growing in the island country.

In 2019, Cuba barred evangelical leaders from traveling to Washington, D.C., to talk about the human rights situation during the U.S. State Department's ministerial on international religious freedom.

In 2019 and 2020, the State Department placed Cuba on its “special watch list” of countries that engage in or tolerate severe violations of religious freedom.

In a March 2020 report, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom detailed how Cuban authorities manipulated the legal system to “wage persistent harassment” against religious leaders. The panel also voiced concerns over the denial of religious freedom for human rights activists and journalists.

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Mon, July 12, 2021 1:50pm
 
Lightning strikes kill 38 people in India; some victims were taking selfies

State Disaster Response personnel perform a search operation at a watchtower of the 12th century Amber Fort where 11 people were killed Sunday after being struck by lightning in Jaipur, Rajasthan state, India, July 12, 2021. VISHAL BHATNAGAR / AP
State Disaster Response personnel perform a search operation at a watchtower of the 12th century Amber Fort where 11 people were killed Sunday after being struck by lightning in Jaipur, Rajasthan state, India, July 12, 2021.

Lightning has killed at least 38 people across two Indian states over the past 24 hours, officials said Monday.

Many of the deaths occurred in the western state of Rajasthan, where 11 people died after being struck by lightning near a watchtower at the 12th century Amber Fort, police said.

Senior police officer Anand Srivastava said some of the victims were taking selfies near the watchtower when lightning struck late Sunday.

"As it started raining visitors took cover at a watchtower near the fort. Lightning struck the watchtower killing 11 people
on the spot and injuring others," Jairam, a local police officer who identified himself by only one name, told Reuters on Monday.

Srivastava said at least nine more people were killed and nearly 20 others were injured in separate lightning strikes when the state was lashed with thunderstorms and monsoon rains.

In Uttar Pradesh, 18 people were killed by lightning on Sunday, said Manoj Dixit, a government official. Most of those killed were farm laborers working in fields.

Both state governments announced financial compensation for the families of the victims and those who were injured.

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Mon, July 12, 2021 1:58pm
 
New Israeli Technology Could Rewire Damaged Nerves to Restore Touch

Israeli scientists say they have developed a new

Israeli scientists say they have developed a new "groundbreaking" technology that can rewire damaged nerves to restore a lost sense of touch.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have engineered a tiny sensor called a "triboelectric nanogenerator" (TENG) that can be implanted in the nerve of an injured limb and connect it with a healthy nerve. When the limb touches something, the sensor is activated and sends an electrical impulse to the healthy nerve to create the sensation. The sensor doesn't require a complex implantation process or charging device, unlike already existing technology.

The sensor is specially designed for people who have lost their sense of touch as a result of amputation or injury.

"It should be understood that this loss of sensation can result from a very wide range of injuries, from minor wounds – like someone chopping a salad and accidentally cutting himself with the knife – to very serious injuries," said biomedical engineer Dr. Ben M. Moaz. "Even if the wound can be healed and the injured nerve can be sutured, in many cases the sense of touch remains damaged. We decided to tackle this challenge together, and find a solution that will restore tactile sensation to those who have lost it.”

Moaz collaborated with Dr. Amir Arami and a team of other scientists and medical experts to develop the technology and test it on animals. They published their study in the prestigious journal ACS Nano and say the technology will be available for use after they complete clinical trials.

“We tested our device on animal models, and the results were very encouraging,” said Maoz. “Next, we want to test the implant on larger models, and at a later stage implant our sensors in the fingers of people who have lost the ability to sense touch. Restoring this ability can significantly improve people’s functioning and quality of life, and more importantly, protect them from danger. People lacking tactile sensation cannot feel if their finger is being crushed, burned or frozen.”

The scientists say the device is so small, it can't be seen externally and could potentially restore the quality of life to many people.

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Tue, July 13, 2021 9:39am
 
Police investigate racist abuse of three Black players on England's national soccer team after Euro championship loss

Three Black players on England's national soccer team have been subjected to racist abuse online after England lost to Italy

Three Black players on England's national soccer team have been subjected to racist abuse online after England lost to Italy in the European Championship finals Sunday night. The players — Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka — helped carry the England team though the tournament, but missed penalty shots in the final match against Italy.

The abuse has been condemned by leaders across the country, including Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, London's Mayor Sadiq Khan, and the Football Association, who called on social media companies to "take accountability and action to ban abusers."

"The FA strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and is appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media," the group said in a statement. "We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behavior is not welcome in following the team. We will do all that we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible."

The manager of the England team, Gareth Southgate, called the abuse "unforgivable," and London's Metropolitan Police said they would investigate.

"We are aware of a number of offensive and racist social media comments being directed towards footballers following the #Euro2020 final. This abuse is totally unacceptable, it will not be tolerated and it will be investigated," the police said in a statement on Twitter.

Throughout the European Football Championship tournament, players from the England team have taken the knee at the start of matches to protest racial inequality. Sometimes spectators booed the gesture. Earlier this year, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was criticized for not immediately condemning the booing.

Soccer players in England started taking the knee ahead of matches in March last year after the killing of George Floyd in the United States and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Late on Sunday and early Monday, some supporters tried to drown out the online racist abuse by flooding the three players' Instagram accounts with positive comments, and reporting the abusive ones.

Twitter reportedly said it had deleted over 1000 tweets and suspended a number of accounts.

"The abhorrent racist abuse last night has absolutely no place on Twitter," a spokesperson said, according to media reports.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in a statement that, "it quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England's footballers last night and we'll continue to take action against those that break our rules," according to reports.

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Tue, July 13, 2021 10:01am
 
Rare Picasso Painting Sells For $150,000 After Sitting Forgotten In A Maine Closet For 50 Years

John McInnis Auctioneers This colorful Picasso painting languished forgotten for decades.
This colorful Picasso painting languished forgotten for decades.

Sometimes, old houses hold treasure. A family in Maine just found a rare Pablo Picasso painting in their relative’s closet — and sold the artwork for $150,000.

The whimsical Picasso piece, thought to be a maquette, or mock-up, of a stage curtain for the 1919 Russian ballet Le Tricorne, sat forgotten in Maine for at least five decades. But a New England homeowner came across the 16-by-16-inch work — signed by the artist — in the home of their great-aunt.

“This painting was discovered in a house owned by my great-aunt which was passed down to her from her uncle in the late 1930s,” the unnamed seller explained in a statement.

“There were several paintings kept in a closet for 50 years (including this example) which were left by her at the time of the passing of the house to my father and now to me.”

At first, the family thought that they’d sell the painting alongside others at an estate sale. But after someone recommended an auction house, they turned to John McInnis Auctioneers for an appraisal.

“The print was stacked in a closet,” John McInnis said, explaining that the family thought that the artwork was just a print.

“At first glance, it did look like a print, even to a trained eye, because the artwork was on paper, known as a lithograph print, and did not look like an original but once we assessed it we learned it was an original work of art.”

In fact, the forgotten Picasso piece appeared to be a mock-up of a stage curtain. In 1919, the artist designed the curtain for the Russian ballet Le Tricorne (“Three-Cornered Hat”). The full curtain is currently on display at the New York Historical Society.

The Four Seasons/Facebook The stage curtain, currently on display in New York City.The stage curtain, currently on display in New York City.

Pablo Picasso is better known as an artist than a theater designer. By the time he died at the age of 91 in 1973, he’d completed some 13,500 paintings, many in his iconic Cubist style.

However, the prolific artist also dabbled in stage design. He likely sketched out the forgotten stage curtain piece in 1919, while designing sets and costumes for Le Tricorne in London.

The Russian ballet opened on July 22 that year. And Picasso biographer John Richardson later described the artist’s work in Le Tricorne as Picasso’s “supreme theatrical achievement.”

The Museum of Modern Art Pablo Picasso made waves with paintings like “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.”
Picasso made waves with paintings like “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.”

But although Picasso’s stage curtain for Le Tricorne had a highly publicized journey to New York City, his original sketch simply disappeared. Somehow, it ended up in the hands of a woman from Maine.

However, her family isn’t surprised that their great-aunt came across such a treasure. According to the sellers, both their family’s great-aunt and grandmother led “an interesting life with uncommon travels” and were some of the first women to fly to Asia to buy silk.

“Both my aunt and grandmother studied in Europe in the 1920s,” the seller explained. “My great aunt became a professor of English history at Rutgers and lived in New York City for decades.

“Each enjoyed collecting objects from their travels. My aunt collected rare books and art.”

Somewhere along the way, the family suspects, she came across the Pablo Picasso sketch. Back in Maine, she added it to her collection.

Wikimedia Commons Pablo Picasso in 1912.
Pablo Picasso in 1912.

However, the painting still needs an official stamp of approval. It’s been sent off to The Claude Picasso Administration, where it will be examined by Pablo Picasso’s son, Claude Ruiz-Picasso. Ruiz-Picasso alone has the ability to authenticate Picasso’s artwork. He has 120 days to approve of this one.

If authenticated, as expected, the forgotten Picasso sketch will prove that treasure can be found anywhere. What might attics and closets across the world contain? What lies forgotten under layers of dust? For McInnis, it’s a rare — but always exciting — event.

“Great things can be found in the strangest places for no reason at all,” he said.

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Posted by Temmy
Tue, July 13, 2021 4:26pm
 
Abortion Industry Is 'Panicking': States Pass Record Number of Pro-Life Laws in 2021, Report Says

Pro-life groups and activists are celebrating a report from the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute

Pro-life groups and activists are celebrating a report from the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute showing that states have enacted more pro-life laws in 2021 than in any other year.

The July 1 report from the Guttmacher Institute shows that in the first six months of 2021, 90 pro-life laws were enacted, beating the old record of 89 in all 12 months of 2011.

Guttmacher calls it the "worst legislative year ever for U.S. abortion rights." Pro-life activists, though, are calling it the best year.

"Let's keep up the momentum for the rest of the year!" tweeted Michael J. New, a professor at the Catholic University of America.

Among the pro-life laws, according to Guttmacher, are:


  • Near-total bans on abortion in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

  • Six-week abortion bans in Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.

  • A 20-week abortion ban in Montana.

  • Restrictions on medical abortions (the "abortion pill") in Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and West Virginia.

  • Laws protecting babies who survive an abortion in Alabama, Kentucky, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming.




Pro-life group March for Life referenced the Guttmacher data and tweeted, "Pro-life efforts on the state level are saving lives every day!"

Lauren Enriquez, a media strategist for Students for Life, said recently in The Courier-Journal, "The record-breaking number of state and local pro-life laws in 2021 is proof that the momentum is on our side. The future is anti-abortion, and the panicking abortion industry knows it."

The report comes as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear a major abortion case this fall involving a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Supreme Court said it would limit the scope of the case to one question: Are all laws restricting pre-viability abortions unconstitutional?

The text of the law says abortions after 15 weeks mostly involve the "use of surgical instruments to crush and tear the unborn child apart." In the medical realm, such an abortion is called a dilation and evacuation abortion.

"The Legislature finds that the intentional commitment of such acts for nontherapeutic or elective reasons is a barbaric practice, dangerous for the maternal patient, and demeaning to the medical profession," the law says.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, July 14, 2021 10:02am
 
The Wild Story Of John Harvey Kellogg, The Eccentric Wellness Guru Who Invented Corn Flakes

Getty Images As a leading figure in the American hygiene movement, John Harvey Kellogg espoused a holistic approach to health and wellness, but he also believed genital mutilation was an appropriate anti-masturbation measure.
As a leading figure in the American hygiene movement, John Harvey Kellogg espoused a holistic approach to health and wellness, but he also believed genital mutilation was an appropriate anti-masturbation measure.

For a simple American breakfast staple, “Kellogg’s Corn Flakes” has a surprisingly sordid past.

John Harvey Kellogg, who invented the cereal with his brother, was a sort of prophet of hygiene in 20th-century America. But although he championed nutrition and a holistic approach to the overall health of the average American, Kellogg was also a staunch eugenicist and launched a violent anti-masturbation campaign that saw the genitals of young boys and girls mutilated.

So how did such a controversial scientist become the baron of breakfast in homes across America?

John Harvey Kellogg And Religious Medicine
John Harvey Kellogg was born at the onset of America’s hygiene revolution on Feb. 26, 1852, in Tyrone, Michigan. This was the same year that the nation’s first flushing toilet was patented and just eight years before the invention of Listerine, which was originally used as an antiseptic.

At the same time, America saw a rise in temperance groups like the Seventh-Day Adventists, whose main campaigns were against alcohol and sex. This combination of extreme hygiene and abstinence heavily influenced Kellogg’s theories about health and wellness.

University of Michigan Will Keith Kellogg never mended his relationship with his brother John Harvey, which was irreparably damaged during their legal battle for the rights to use their last name on their respective cereals.
Will Keith Kellogg never mended his relationship with his brother John Harvey, which was irreparably damaged during their legal battle for the rights to use their last name on their respective cereals.

Kellogg was one of 11 kids in a family of devout Seventh-Day Adventists, and his most notorious relationship would be with his younger brother, William Keith Kellogg, who John Harvey notoriously sidelined as his intellectual inferior.

In 1856, the Kelloggs moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, which was the mecca for Seventh-Day Adventists at the time. Because they were so confident that Christ’s second coming — and the end of the world — was inevitable, none of the Kellogg children were really formally educated. John Harvey Kellogg, however, voraciously educated himself.

When he earned his medical degree in 1875, he had already formed a holistic model for healthy living that hinged on the innovations of America’s hygiene movement and his religious faith, which he dubbed “biologic living:”

“All the inventions and devices ever constructed by the human hand or conceived by the human mind, no matter how delicate, how intricate and complicated, are simple, childish toys compared with that most marvelously wrought mechanism, the human body.”

Kellogg deeply revered the human body, which he referred to as “the living temple,” and took a holistic approach to supporting it that was based as much in nutritional science as it was in religious extremism.

He espoused vegetarianism, prohibition, and abstinence, and he called any action outside of these things, “self-pollution.” In sum, Kellogg was invested in total cleanliness — of the body and the spirit — and he concocted some bizarre ways of achieving it.

In 1877, Kellogg took over the Battle Creek Sanitarium, a health spa for Seventh-Day Adventists, and remodeled the facility based on his ideals for optimal living.

In a nation where the average life expectancy was 41 years and city streets were literally piled with human feces, the Sanitarium emerged as a beacon of wellness. The facility took off. Within a decade, it went from treating 300 patients per year to almost 1,200.

Meanwhile, Kellogg had taken a particular interest in cleaning up America’s breakfast routine.

A Cereal So Bland It Hampers Sexual Desire

Getty Images Women inspect filled boxes of Corn Flakes in the Kellogg Company factory in 1934.
Women inspect filled boxes of Corn Flakes in the Kellogg Company factory in 1934.

The average American breakfast in the 1880s consisted mostly of meat in various forms: cold, jellied, smoked, salted, fried in leftover fat. Any non-meat alternatives, like grains or oats, were time-consuming, which made breakfast a burdensome meal both in calories and preparation.

In keeping with his desire for total cleanliness, Kellogg encouraged his patients to eat sterile, healthy foods that he believed all primates should eat: mostly nuts and grains, and yogurt. And for years, he and his brother William worked tirelessly to perfect a low-maintenance, grain-based breakfast cereal.

Their first attempt was made of baked whole graham biscuits that were then crumbled into bits. They called this “Granola,” but were ultimately unsatisfied with the result. Finally, they settled on a flaked wheat cereal they originally dubbed Granose. In 1902, they remanufactured the product out of maize and called it corn flakes.

But by this time, John Harvey grew disinterested in the enterprise, so William — the real business brain behind the operation — bought his brother’s share of corn flakes and opened the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company in 1906.

He proved to be a marketing genius and launched an uber-successful campaign telling consumers to “wink at your grocer and see what you get,” which resulted in a free sample of corn flakes.

Meanwhile, John Harvey continued to manufacture and sell Granose out of his own company by the name “Kellogg’s” and sued his brother over who got the rights to use their last name. William sued him back.

After years of fighting, during which corn flakes became all the more popular, William won the rights to use his own name for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes in 1920.

“I am not after the business,” Kellogg said of the affair. “I am after the reform.”

Getty Images Kellogg in 1938, aged 86.
Kellogg in 1938, aged 86.

To his point, the saga of corn flakes, more importantly, represented to John Harvey the battle against one of life’s deadliest vices: masturbation. As a meticulously manufactured “clean” food, Kellogg had intended for corn flakes to rid people of their carnal desires.

Terrified and disgusted by sex nearly all his life — he never even consummated his own relationship with his wife — Kellogg launched a violent pseudoscientific anti-masturbation crusade. He equated fondness for spicy foods, round shoulders, and “boldness” with signs of a chronic masturbator. He concluded that “such a victim literally dies by his own hand.”

Kellogg encouraged parents to tie their children’s hands to their bedposts or to circumcise their teenage boys. An even more aggressive tactic saw the foreskin of a young man’s penis sewed shut to prevent erections. For young girls, he recommended pouring carbolic acid on their clitorises.

Of course, it was Kellogg’s hope that a purer diet, provided by his Corn Flakes, might suffice as a less gruesome method of controlling children’s sexual desire.

John Harvey Kellogg’s Bizarre Wellness Tips

Library of Congress Kellogg ran the Sanitarium, pictured here, until his death in 1943. During that time, he invented peanut butter and several nut-based meat alternatives.
Kellogg ran the Sanitarium, pictured here, until his death in 1943. During that time, he invented peanut butter and several nut-based meat alternatives.

In addition to creating a breakfast cereal so bereft of flavor he believed it would erase any desire, Kellogg’s biggest project was his wellness retreat at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, which he led until his death in 1943.

The facility introduced thousands of Americans to the importance of exercise, bathing, and occasional douching. Kellogg even invented the mechanical horse for indoor exercise. At its height, the Sanitarium sprawled across 30 acres and was dubbed one of the “premier wellness destinations” in the United States.

To crowds of wealthy and unwell Americans learning about hygiene for the first time, Kellogg basically became one of the nation’s first “wellness gurus,” and he managed tens of thousands of patients. Among them were retailer J.C. Penny, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Amelia Earhart, and President William Howard Taft.

But Kellogg also concocted some more incongruous health methods. For instance, he encouraged his patients to get multiple enemas a day — and invented an enema machine that could run 15 quarts of water through the bowels in a matter of seconds. Kellogg himself received an enema at breakfast and lunch.

Kellogg also encouraged his patients to consume a daily pint of yogurt — one half through the mouth and the other through the anus. Strange though that may sound, it was actually an early way of receiving probiotics. He also patented a chair that shook patients so violently they involuntarily defecated.

Battle Creek Health Pamphlet

Public Domain This pamphlet for the Sanitarium shows some of the many treatments patients could receive there, from hydrotherapy to artificial sunlight baths.
This pamphlet for the Sanitarium shows some of the many treatments patients could receive there, from hydrotherapy to artificial sunlight baths.

But for all those progressive — albeit bizarre — beliefs about nutrition and wellness, he had equally dangerous ones. A staunch eugenicist, Kellogg advised against “racial mixing” and instead posited a registry that kept track of people’s medical records so that “racial thoroughbreds” could be introduced to each other before marriage.

He was also in favor of the forced sterilization of criminals and organized the first Race Betterment Conference, which was basically a fair for eugenicists. The conference even hosted so-called Better Baby contests, during which white infants were judged and awarded on the basis of their “breeding.”

At the same time, however, Kellogg rejected segregation at his Sanitarium, where he trained doctors and nurses of color. And Kellogg treated legendary abolitionist Sojourner Truth at the Sanitarium, once reportedly grafting some of his own skin onto her leg to treat an ulcer.

A Tumultuous Personal Life And Complicated Legacy
Kellogg ran the Sanitarium until his death in 1943, before which he opened a second health spa in Florida. He patented four medical devices, including an artificial sunbath machine and a peanut-based meat alternative called Nuttose.

With his wife Ella Ervilla Eaton, he fostered 42 children, seven of whom he legally adopted. They never had any biological children of their own.

John Harvey Kellogg also never mended his relationship with William. On his deathbed, however, he did pen a letter of amends that was seven pages long. “I earnestly desire to make amends for any wrong or injustice of any sort I have done to you,” he wrote.

But his secretary, for whatever reason, chose not to deliver the letter. William, therefore, didn’t learn that his older brother had reached out until it was too late.

Unusual though some of his wellness treatments seemed, Kellogg must have been doing something right: He died at the ripe old age of 91.

John Harvey Kellogg’s legacy is a complicated one. Though he brought nutrition and hygiene to the forefront of American living as one of the nation’s first wellness gurus, he also espoused dangerous and violent ideas about sexuality and race.

Concerned as he was with the betterment of humanity, he primarily focused on the white race, but he devoted his life to progress, nonetheless. Perhaps his contentious invention of Corn Flakes, a nutritious cereal with a dangerous idea behind it, best encapsulates his duality.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, July 14, 2021 2:44pm
 
Croatian Village Plagued By 100 Gigantic Sinkholes Following Massive Earthquake

AFP/Getty Images The sinkhole in Mečenčani on March 10, 2021.
The sinkhole in Mečenčani on March 10, 2021.

It was six days after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit central Croatia on Dec. 29, 2020 that Nikola Borojević saw his garden destroyed. Rather than waking up to marvel at his potato seedlings, the resident of Mečenčani was met by a 98-foot-wide sinkhole with a 49-foot drop.

And 100 more like it would crop up within months.

“My wife was in the house the whole morning, looking occasionally through the window,” Borojević told the BBC. “Around 2 p.m. she noticed something strange in the garden. We went outside and there was this huge hole in our orchard.”

Geologists have long understood that sinkholes are triggered by landslides or earthquakes, but the sheer amount appearing in Mečenčani and its adjacent village of Borojovići left them in awe. Like the earthquake itself, which killed seven people and injured 26 others — the gaping results continued without warning.

Many of the initial collapses luckily razed empty rural grounds, according to IFL Science, but the sinkholes just kept coming. With 54 of them scattered across the region by the end of January, this rapidly became a threat to the lives and properties of thousands — with officials strongly considering the evacuation of both villages.

When the earthquake struck the city of Petrinja mere days before New Years’ celebrations, it was the strongest Croatia had experienced in nearly half a century. The natural disaster that had killed and injured dozens had also destroyed thousands of homes, while its tremors were felt in both Bosnia and Serbia.

While the worst devastation may be over, Croatians now impacted by the unexpected appearance of sinkholes are anything but relieved. Many residents have seen these surface depressions crop up mere feet from their homes, while several have seen the ground beneath their houses fall out beneath their feet.

“We feel very uncomfortable,” said Mečenčani resident Stojan Kresojevic. “The sinkholes are around us, the uncertainty is killing us. We don’t know if we will be forced to leave. These holes are dangerous as they open up suddenly with water spurting out.”

With 100 sinkholes spread across 3.8 square miles and new ones opening every week, things are nearly becoming untenable. One almost swallowed a local farmer and the tractor he was operating whole, for instance. Fortunately, experts around the world are now on the ground looking for solutions.

AFP/Getty Images Many of the sinkholes appeared mere feet from people’s homes.
Many of the sinkholes appeared mere feet from people’s homes.

While questions abound, certain things are rather well established. What we do know is that Croatia is a very seismic area, with the Adriatic plate and Eurasian plate slamming into each other causing powerful tectonic shifts. As a result, there have been nine earthquakes with magnitudes over 6 since the early 1900s.

Furthermore, there are thousands of limestone caves along Croatia’s coast comprising what is called the “Dinaric karst.” Dozens of them reach inland, with three deeper than 3,261 feet. They’re highly precarious, drained by acidic water, and slowly eroding the limestone — with earthquakes capable of making their ceilings collapse.

“Even without earthquakes, the ground above such cavities would collapse and depressions would form, as has occasionally happened in the past, but earthquakes have accelerated and intensified these processes,” according to the Croatian Geological Institute (CGI).

“While Dinaric karst is mostly from the Cretaceous and Jurassic period, the karst that we find here is younger and even more porous and hollow,” said CGI hydrogeologist Josip Terzić. “It is limited to a few small zones around here and close to the city of Zagreb.”

AFP/Getty Images With earthquake tremors impacting the structural integrity of Croatia’s cavernous limestone areas and subterranean waters, these sinkholes were a matter of time.
With earthquake tremors impacting the structural integrity of Croatia’s cavernous limestone areas and subterranean waters, these sinkholes were a matter of time.

Since part of Croatia sits atop the Pannonian basin, an enormous underground lake that formed the modern-day lowlands, Zagreb University geophysicist Bruno Tromljenović believes the sinkholes weren’t caused by collapsed caves — but by the earthquake rerouting subterranean waters to shoot upwards.

Both villages in question have been situated atop these lowlands, with enormous amounts of sand, gravel, and silt sitting atop the porous limestone rocks. Ultimately, it certainly appears as though the earthquake was the primary cause of this fiasco, whether by tremors merely collapsing the caves or rerouting waters.

“It is obvious that earthquakes accelerated some already ongoing processes,” said Terzić. “The earthquakes caused massive dynamic stress to these lands and locations that were already in borderline balance suddenly collapsed.”

As it stands, scientists are gathering further data and combing through the region’s historical record to gather a more detailed view into the connection of earthquakes and sinkholes. Meanwhile, Borojević is looking at an estimated bill of $237,130 to fill his gigantic sinkhole — which has become a tourist attraction.

“I could turn it into a fishpond,” he joked.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, July 14, 2021 6:07pm
 
Parents sue DC over 'reckless,' 'unconstitutional' law to vaccinate kids without parental consent

A girl wears a face mask as students sit in a classroom of the Petri primary school in Dortmund, western Germany, on June 15, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. | AFP via Getty Images/Ina Fassbender
A girl wears a face mask as students sit in a classroom of the Petri primary school in Dortmund, western Germany, on June 15, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Parents in Washington, D.C., have filed a lawsuit against the District over a new law that allows officials to vaccinate children in public schools without parental consent, even if they have a religious objection.

The municipal regulation, known as the "Minor Consent to Vaccinations Act of 2020," was passed by the council in a vote of 10-3 in November and went into effect on March 19. It enables children ages 11 and older to consent to a vaccine if they are deemed "capable of meeting the informed consent standard" and "... able to comprehend ... significant risks ordinarily inherent in the medical care."

Under the law, students can have vaccines administered to them without their parents' knowledge because insurance providers are required to "seek reimbursement, without parental consent ..."

Insurance companies are also prohibited from sending parents an "Explanation of Benefits" detailing the medical service their child received. Yet children will be given access to their immunization records "without parental consent."

Children’s Health Defense and the Parental Rights Foundation filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District for the District of Columbia on behalf of four parents who have religious objections to their children getting COVID-19 vaccinations and say the mandate is unconstitutional.

“The D.C. Act is reckless, unconstitutional, and needlessly endangers children’s lives by stripping away parental protection and the protection of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986,” said Mary Holland, president and general counsel of the Children’s Health Defense, in a statement.

“The Minor Consent Act subverts the right and duty of parents to make informed decisions about whether their children should receive vaccinations, by both depriving them of the opportunity to make those decisions and by concealing from parents that their children have been asked to consent to vaccinations or may have indeed been vaccinated,” the lawsuit claims.

Officials named in the lawsuit against the District include: Mayor Muriel Bowser; Laquandra Nesbitt, the director of the Department of Health; and Lewis Ferebee, chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools.

Though District of Columbia Public Schools is not requiring students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before classes start in the fall, DCPS would be able to administer the vaccine to eligible children under the Minor Consent Act.

The lawsuit also states that the Minor Consent Act creates two health records for students, such as for those whose parents have a religious exemption for the HPV vaccine. The immunization record available to parents is blank, while the child’s actual medical history, including vaccinations, is kept private from parents but is accessible to their children.

“On its face, the Minor Consent Act circumvents parents’ decisions to claim a religious exemption pursuant to D.C.,” the lawsuit states.

Ferebee, chancellor of the DCPS, sent an email to DCPS parents on May 14 saying it was their “responsibility” to get vaccinated if they want to see their children back in school.

“While the COVID-19 vaccine is currently not required for students to attend school next year, we encourage all students age 12 and older and their parents and caregivers to get vaccinated,” the email from the chancellor read.

“If you want to see students back in school, then it is our responsibility as a community for everyone to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to them. We are collaborating with local health officials to host vaccination clinics at our schools,” the email continued.

In another email sent on June 1, Ferefee wrote: “The science is clear: Vaccines are the single most effective tool we have to stop the spread of the coronavirus. To help meet our commitment to fully reopen schools for every student, every day in the fall, it is our responsibility as a community to get vaccinated, including our middle school and high school students.”

Mary Cheh, a council member and sponsor of the Minor Consent Act, said before the District's Committee on Health that “anti-science beliefs” of parents are putting their unvaccinated children at risk.

“Unfortunately, we see a rising number of individuals or families across the globe, really, who are choosing not to vaccinate their children based on the widely disproven belief that vaccines may cause autism or other harmful health effects,” Cheh said.

“These anti-science beliefs not only put the unvaccinated children at risk, but have led to the spread of diseases that have been all but eradicated in the past,” she continued.

DCPS opened walk-in vaccination clinics in four schools to offer the vaccine to anyone 12 years old and older.

Bowser announced all schools in the District would be fully reopened for in-person learning, five days a week, for every student starting on Aug. 30.

Shanita Williams, one of the parents named in the lawsuit, said she fears she cannot send her two children back to school in the fall without subjecting her children to receive the vaccine, despite her religious objection to it.

Another parent, Shameka Williams, worries her children will be pressured to “consent” to the vaccine.

Reports are surfacing of adverse effects to the vaccine, especially in young adults and adolescents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now tracking cases of heart inflammation associated with the mRNA coronavirus vaccine.

Dr. Robert Malone, an mRNA pioneer, has said he believes the "benefits probably don't outweigh the risks” for younger Americans contemplating whether to get vaccinated.

The CDC released an update on Tuesday called “Reported Adverse Events” that lists anaphylaxis, thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, myocarditis and pericarditis, and reports of death as adverse but rare side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines, which are not FDA-approved but authorized for emergency use.

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 15, 2021 11:58am
 
Part of the Amazon is emitting more carbon dioxide than it absorbs — and it's a "really big warning" for the planet

The Amazon rainforest has played a critical role in the fight against climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide

The Amazon rainforest has played a critical role in the fight against climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. But a study published in Nature on Wednesday found that humans are threatening its ability to do so — which could have devastating consequences for the planet.

The Amazon basin is roughly 80% to 90% of the size of the continental U.S. and contains 2.8 million square miles of jungle, which is more than half of Earth's remaining tropical rainforests, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which helped support the research. The region stores roughly 123 billion tons of carbon in trees and in the soil.

"Roughly half of the CO2 that we've emitted from fossil fuels has been absorbed by either the oceans or the land — and that's roughly a 50-50 split," John Miller, one of the study's lead authors, told CBS News. "So there's this huge climate mitigation service that we're getting for free, and global warming would be much worse if trees were not taking this up."

The Amazon has long been known as a "carbon sink" — something that absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases — but studies were beginning to show that the forest was losing its ability to retain the carbon. Miller and other scientists embarked on a nine-year study to find out why. From 2010 to 2018, they analyzed four areas of the jungle: the northwest, northeast, southwest and southeast.

The region, also known as Amazonia, is known for its ability to store massive amounts of water in its soil and vegetation. This water storage makes its way into the atmosphere and then fuels rainfall, keeping vegetation and the forests healthy. But deforestation and global warming have impacted some of the rainforest's ecosystem, making the dry seasons longer and the area more susceptible to fires.

In northwest Amazonia, where the climate is wet almost year-round and vegetation rarely varies throughout the year, researchers found that the area was near carbon balance, meaning that it absorbed roughly as much carbon as it released. But the farther southeast researchers observed, the more disrupted that balance became.

While Amazonia's southeastern and northeastern regions — which have experienced higher rates of deforestation and warming — are carbon balanced during the wet season, when the dry season comes, the forests release far more carbon than they previously had, researchers said.

"Eastern Amazon sites have warmed by as much as about 0.6 Degrees Celsius per decade during the dry season over the past 40 years," a Nature news release about the study says. "This is more than three times the rate of global warming and about the same rate as for the Arctic."

In total, the researchers found that the southeastern region, which is about 20% of the total area, was emitting more carbon dioxide than it was absorbing, meaning that it was no longer a carbon sink.

"The more deforested and climate-stressed eastern Amazon, especially the southeast, was a net emitter of CO2 to the atmosphere, especially as a result of fires," Miller said in a NOAA news release. "On the other hand, the wetter, more intact western and central Amazon, was neither a carbon sink nor source of atmospheric CO2, with the absorption by healthy forests balancing the emissions from fires."

The study comes as carbon dioxide levels have reached their highest point in 3.6 million years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. One NOAA scientist predicted that if the pandemic had not hit, 2020 would have been a record-breaking year in global emissions.

If current trends continue, scientists believe the amount of carbon dioxide will be twice as high as pre-industrial levels in roughly 55 years, when today's children are preparing to retire.

In March, non-governmental organization Rainforest Foundation Norway released a study saying that humans have caused the rapid decline of Earth's tropical rainforests, with 34% now "completely gone." Global use of coal, farming, soy, palm oil and mining is quickly degrading the forests that are left are being put "closer to a tipping point," the report said.

With Amazonia's ability to maintain its status as a carbon sink at stake, the research indicates that tropical forests may lose their ability to absorb carbon dioxide from fossil fuel emissions in the future.

"There are certain parts of the Amazon, such as the southeast, you could go into a tipping point, where the ecosystem that would be best matched with that rainfall and temperature conditions would actually be a savannah as opposed to a tropical rainforest," Miller said.

Miller explained that it's "very hard to come back from" the loss of the forests in the short term — which in this regard could be "hundreds of years." And even if the forest could recover in 100 years, the climate itself could be different, meaning that the forest's role in handling carbon would be unclear.

"It's a really big warning that we're seeing happening over a really pretty significant area. And if we don't take steps now to try and adjust our policies on both deforestation and emissions reduction from fossil fuel burning, things are going to get worse," he added. "We're going to be in more trouble. Because that's what got us here in the first place."

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 15, 2021 2:30pm
 
State under Pressure to Ban Chick-fil-A from Major Highway for being anti-LGBT

A group of New York Democrats is urging the state to block Chick-fil-A from building restaurants along a major toll road

A group of New York Democrats is urging the state to block Chick-fil-A from building restaurants along a major toll road as part of a $450 million modernization project.

The three state legislators, led by Assembly member Harry Bronson, sent a letter last week to the head of the New York State Thruway Authority asking it to halt plans that would allow the popular restaurant to open its stores at rest stops along the New York State Thruway, a major toll road in the state. Assemblymembers Danny O’Donnell and Deborah Glick also signed the letter.

Chick-fil-A is not the only company that would launch new restaurants along the thruway. Others include Popeye’s and Panera Bread.

The letter from Bronson notes that Chick-fil-A CEO Dan T. Cathy has spoken out against same-sex marriage legalization. The letter also criticizes Chick-fil-A for supporting the Salvation Army. Chick-fil-A and its founders, the letter charged, “have a long and controversial history.”

“This move by the Thruway Authority strikes us as sending a message to LGBTQ+ communities that it doesn’t share the same commitment to their civil rights as New York State,” Bronson said in the letter. “We are requesting that you re-examine the list of approved concessions for these rest spots considering Chick-fil-A’s action against the LGBTQ+ community.”

Chick-fil-A is owned by a Christian family and is closed on Sundays. The company’s official corporate purpose is “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Chick-fil-A told Fox Business it does not discriminate.

“We want to be clear that Chick-fil-A does not have a political or social agenda, and we welcome everyone in our restaurants,” Chick-fil-A said in a statement to Fox Business. “We are proud to be represented by more than 200,000 diverse team members nationwide, and we strive to be a positive influence in our local communities.”

The Thruway, in a statement, seemed to stand by its decision.

“There are no state taxpayer dollars or toll payer funds supporting the redevelopment of the Thruway’s 27 service areas,” the statement said, according to News10. “Every restaurant brand included by Empire State Thruway Partners has a contractual responsibility, and is legally required, under New York State law, including the New York State Human Rights Law and Executive Orders, to adhere to the inclusive and non-discriminatory standards that New York State embraces.”

Chick-fil-A this year was named America’s favorite restaurant in the American Customer Satisfaction Index poll of customers, marking the seventh straight year it led that survey.

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 15, 2021 2:43pm
 
Uyghur woman tearfully recalls 'inhumane' treatment in China’s brutal concentration camps

Tursunay Ziyawudun, a Uyghur who spent time in a Chinese concentration camp, tearfully recalls her experience at the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, D.C., on July 14, 2021. | YouTube/International Christian Concern
Tursunay Ziyawudun, a Uyghur who spent time in a Chinese concentration camp, tearfully recalls her experience at the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, D.C., on July 14, 2021.

A Uyghur tearfully recalled her time in a Chinese concentration camp in a speech before religious freedom advocates, telling them that her experience left “indelible scars on my heart.”

Tursunay Ziyawudun addressed the International Religious Freedom Summit on Wednesday, one of several survivors of religious persecution to share their stories. As a Uyghur living in China, she was subject to especially harsh treatment from the Chinese Communist Party, which is detaining members of the ethnic minority in concentration camps in an effort to strip them of their common culture and identity and turn them into loyal servants of the state.

“I was locked up in camps two different times. The second time was even more inhumane than the first, and my experiences in these Chinese camps have left indelible scars on my heart,” she said.

“I was taken into a camp for the second time in March 2018, and stayed there for close to one year. There were many new buildings in the camp, which looked similar to a prison, and many cameras and people inside. We could always see armed police officers. Sometimes they showed us propaganda films, sometimes they taught us Chinese law, sometimes they taught us Chinese ‘red’ songs, and sometimes they made us swear oaths of loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party,” she added.

According to Ziyawudun, “In the camp, we always lived in fear. We passed the days in fear, listening to the sounds of screaming and crying voices, wondering whether what was happening to them would happen to us too.”

Ziyawudun and other detained Uyghur women were also subject to rape in the concentration camps, part of a pattern of abuse at the hands of the guards: “Once they took me out alongside a young woman in her 20s. Next to the camp police officers, there was a man in a suit, wearing a mask over his mouth. I can’t even remember what time of night it was. They raped the young women. Three Han police officers raped me as well.”

“They were always taking girls out of the cells like this. They did whatever they wanted. Sometimes they brought some of the women back near the point of death. Some of the women disappeared.”

Echoing comments she made in a previous interview with the BBC, Ziyawudun asserted that some of the women “lost their minds in the camp.” Additionally, she maintained, “I saw some of them bleed to death with my own eyes.”

As years have passed since her harrowing ordeal in the concentration camp, Ziyawudun explained that while “my physical body is free, and so is my voice,” she is “suffering deeply” as a result of “nightmares” about her detention. She has since resettled in the U.S., “with the help of the U.S. government and the Uyghur Human Rights Project.”

Although these memories make Ziyawudun’s heart feel “as though it’s been sliced with a dagger,” she feels obligated to tell her story: “I have to speak out, because the things that I experienced in the camps are happening to my fellow Uyghurs. Millions of Uyghurs are suffering and they are alive only because they have the hope and belief that there is justice in this world.”

“As a survivor, I will not stop — not even for one minute — being a voice for all the people who have not survived, and for the people in East Turkistan who are trapped in a hellscape, placing their hope in the outside world,” she vowed. Ziyawudun concluded her remarks by pleading with the audience to “save my people from this oppression,” adding, “I hope you can do something to secure their freedom.”

In an introductory video that preceded Ziyawudun’s remarks, a translator speaking on behalf of the victim of religious persecution illustrated the magnitude of the Chinese government’s “brutal campaign of assimilation by force,” noting that “1 [million] to 3 million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims” have been detained in concentration camps since 2016. In addition to rape, concentration camp detainees are subject to forced labor and forced sterilization.

Later, Samantha Power, the administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, told the story of another Uyghur woman who was subject to the concentration camps, Zumret Dawut, in pre-recorded remarks: “In 2018, she was told to report to a local police station before being interrogated, shackled with a black hood over her head, and led to a detention camp where she was forced to change into prison clothes in front of male guards.”

Power explained that Dawut, a mother of three who wanted to have a fourth child, ended up undergoing a forced sterilization in lieu of facing additional detention. Even Uyghurs who have not been sent to concentration camps still face surveillance by the Chinese government.

During a panel on “Big Surveillance and the Rise of Technology in Persecution,” Uyghur-American lawyer Nury Turkel discussed the “digital authoritarianism” China has engaged in as part of its persecution of the Uyghurs: “Chinese officials, assisted by sophisticated technology, impose an iron grip over every aspect of life” by using “video cameras, equipped with facial recognition software.”

“Uyghurs must have their ID cards scanned at ubiquitous checkpoints to gain access to parks, banks, malls and stores. These scanners are linked to broader policing technology. If an individual is identified as risky, then entry will be denied,” he continued.

Turkel elaborated on the “broader policing technology” used on Uyghurs, including “QR codes posted outside of [a] Uyghur home to learn who lives there and how ‘trustworthy’ that they are,” as well as cell phones “equipped with mandatory spyware that records every aspect of Uyghurs’ online activity.” He stressed that the contents of Uyghurs’ private text messages have led some of them to face detention, lamenting that “Uyghurs cannot do anything to escape the watchful eye of the Chinese government.”

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 15, 2021 2:53pm
 
US to Begin Evacuating Afghans Who Aided American Military

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Friday, July 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Friday, July 9, 2021.

The Biden administration said Wednesday that it is prepared to begin evacuation flights for Afghan interpreters and translators who aided the U.S. military effort in the nearly 20-year war — but their destinations are still unknown and there are lingering questions about how to ensure their safety until they can get on planes.

The Operation Allies Refuge flights out of Afghanistan during the last week of July will be available first for special immigrant visa applicants already in the process of applying for U.S. residency, according to the White House.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to detail how many Afghans are expected to be among those evacuated in the first flights or where those evacuated will be taken, citing security concerns.

“The reason that we are taking these steps is because these are courageous individuals,” Psaki said. “We want to make sure we recognize and value the role they’ve played over the last several years.”

Confirmation on the timeline of the evacuation flights came as President Joe Biden met Wednesday with Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, who earlier this week stepped down as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Psaki said Biden wanted to personally thank Miller for conducting an “orderly and safe” drawdown of U.S. troops.

Miller, who oversaw the war effort for nearly three years, expressed dire concern in his final days as commander about the rapid loss of districts around the country to the Taliban, telling reporters that “ a civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized if this continues on the trajectory it’s on right now.” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who met separately with Miller at the Pentagon, praised the general for planning a “complex withdrawal of millions of tons of equipment and thousands of personnel” that “thus far been conducted without a single casualty."

Biden has faced pressure from lawmakers on both parties to come up with a plan to help evacuate Afghan military helpers before next month's U.S. troop withdrawal. The White House began briefing lawmakers on the outlines of their plans last month.

The evacuation planning could potentially affect tens of thousands of Afghans. Several thousand Afghans who worked for the United States — plus their family members — are already in the application pipeline for special immigrant visas.

The Biden administration has also been working on identifying a third country or U.S. territory that could host Afghans while their visa applications are processed.

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 15, 2021 3:16pm
 
Over 20 Abortion Advocates Sue Texas to Stop Heartbeat Abortion Ban

On Tuesday, more than twenty abortion providers filed a lawsuit against Texas officials in order to block a recently passed bill that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected

On Tuesday, more than twenty abortion providers filed a lawsuit against Texas officials in order to block a recently passed bill that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Fetal heartbeats are typically detected around the sixth week of pregnancy.

In May, Governor Greg Abbot signed a heartbeat abortion bill into law, prohibiting most abortions after a heartbeat is detected.

The legislation also allows anyone, even outside of Texas, to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps someone get an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Those winning the lawsuits could be awarded up to $10,000 in damages.

According to a press release from the Whole Woman's Health Alliance, a lead plaintiff in the suit, around 85 percent of abortions in Texas happen when a woman is at least six weeks into her pregnancy, the Texas Tribune reports.

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit include clergy, doctors and clinics who are represented by Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Senior counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights and lead attorney on the suit Marc Hearron said that the bill could produce "endless lawsuits."

"It allows complete strangers, anti-abortion activists, to sue and interfere with the patient's decision. Those people may try to essentially hijack the courts for their ideological agenda."

Defendants in the lawsuit include judges and county clerks in Texas, the Texas Medical Board, the Texas Board of Nursing, the Texas Board of Pharmacy, the state attorney general, and the Director of Right to Life East Texas, Mark Lee Dickson.

"The only thing more ridiculous than this lawsuit is the fact that we have people, right here in Texas, who are fighting to end the lives of innocent unborn children," Dickson wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, expressed optimism that the bill, which will go into effect on September 1, will be upheld.

"We still have the utmost confidence in the innovative legal strategy and carefully drafted nature of SB 8," Seago said in a statement. "We fully believe this pro-life priority will ultimately be upheld and save countless pre-born lives."

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 16, 2021 11:43am
 
Johnson & Johnson Recalling Sunscreens Due To Benzene Traces

This Feb. 24, 2021 photo shows a Johnson and Johnson logo on the exterior of a first aid kit in Walpole, Mass.(AP Photo/Steven Senne, file)
This Feb. 24, 2021 photo shows a Johnson and Johnson logo on the exterior of a first aid kit in Walpole, Mass.

Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday that it is recalling five of its sunscreen products after some samples were found to contain low levels of benzene, a chemical that can cause cancer with repeated exposure.

The affected products, packaged in aerosol cans, are Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen, and four Neutrogena sunscreen versions: Beach Defense aerosol sunscreen, CoolDry Sport aerosol sunscreen, Invisible Daily Defense aerosol sunscreen, and UltraSheer aerosol sunscreen.

The recall includes all can sizes and all levels of sun protection factor, or SPF. The products were distributed nationwide through retailers.

The health care giant said the benzene was found after testing by the company and an independent laboratory. It is investigating how the chemical got into the products.

J&J said it’s working to get all lots of the five products removed from store shelves. It urged consumers to stop using the sunscreens immediately and said customers can get a refund by calling J&J’s Consumer Care Center at 1-800-458-1673. More information is available at the websites for Neutrogena and Aveeno.

J&J said in a statement that “use of these products would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences" and that it voluntarily decided to recall them "out of an abundance of caution.” The statement added that people should use an alternate sunscreen to protect themselves from skin cancer melanoma.

Benzene is a highly flammable, widely used chemical that's present throughout the environment. It can cause cancer with repeated exposure at high enough levels. It also can damage the immune system and prevent cells from functioning properly, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The chemical's effects vary by whether a person accidentally inhales or ingests it or gets it on skin and clothing. Symptoms range from dizziness and irregular heartbeat to convulsions and, at very high levels, death.

J&J, which is based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, said it has notified the Food and Drug Administration of the recall.

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 16, 2021 11:51am
 
A British Paratrooper Just Survived Crashing Through The Roof Of A California Home From 15,000 Feet

Pxhere High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) jumps require opening parachutes at low altitudes, with the timing essential to safe landings.
High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) jumps require opening parachutes at low altitudes, with the timing essential to safe landings.

A British paratrooper just survived a fall from 15,000 feet after his parachute failed to open and he crashed through the roof of a house in San Luis Obispo County in California.

It was just another Tuesday in the town of Atascadero in California’s central coast, when a crescendoing crash changed everything. After rushing outside to spot an enormous hole in her neighbor’s roof, Rose Martin ran into the house to find a moderately injured paratrooper in the kitchen.

The incident occurred at around 5:00 p.m. on July 6, as most Americans were winding down and returning to work after a long holiday weekend. According to The Guardian, he survived the free fall after he managed to pull his reserve chute in time to dampen some of the impact. Several neighbors had spotted the flailing figure in the sky before he tore through the roof.

Martin was the first person to arrive at the debris-laden scene. “I ran in to make sure he was okay and I checked one him and his eyes were open but I wasn’t sure if there were any injuries,” she told local news station KSBY.

“I didn’t want anyone to move him. It’s a miracle in my estimation, really. I mean, who lands like that without a parachute and lives?”

Twitter/TheWTFNation The unidentified soldier after crashing into the house on Via Cielo in Atascadero, California.
The unidentified soldier after crashing into the house on Via Cielo in Atascadero, California.

The crash happened on the 9600 block of Via Cielo in San Luis Obispo County, about 30 miles south of Camp Roberts, where the Army was conducting High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) training exercises.

The soldier was rapidly identified as a British Special Air Service (SAS) soldier by his uniform. While the specialized British unit is highly capable of conducting successful HALO jumps, this soldier missed his designated drop zone when the primary parachute failed to open in time.

HALO jumps allow for troops to land covertly in hostile environments without the need of landing an aircraft and were first extensively employed in the Vietnam War. The technique requires paratroopers to open the parachute at altitudes as low as 3,000 feet to limit visible time in the sky as much as possible.

In the decades since its introduction, people have leapt from altitudes as high as 40,000 feet. Regardless of the SAS soldier’s much lower jump, opening the chute at a specific time is essential during HALO jumps in order to arrive at a designated drop zone. With vital seconds gone, he no longer had a choice in where to land.

Twitter/TheWTFNation Miraculously, the soldier crashed straight through the attic trusses — but left a sizable hole in the roof.
Miraculously, the soldier crashed straight through the attic trusses — but left a sizable hole in the roof.

According to a statement by the Atascadero Police Department, “The parachutist was conscious but stunned with complaints of pain but no visible serious injuries.” The residents of the house were not home at the time and were uninjured.

“There has been a parachuting incident involving a British Soldier training alongside American allies in California,” said the British Ministry of Defense. “The soldier received minor injuries and is recovering well.”

While the incident is certainly astounding, people have survived even deadlier free falls in the past, though such incidents are rare.

The most historic occurred on Jan. 26, 1972, when a bomb in the baggage compartment of JAT Flight 367 exploded in mid-air and saw the plane plummet 33,300 feet. Flight attendant Vesna Vulović miraculously survived. There are also reports of paratroopers in World War II surviving free falls from altitudes higher than 20,000 feet.

Flickr/Ian Abbott Camp Roberts is 31 miles away from the 9600 block of Via Cielo where the soldier landed.
Flickr/Ian Abbott Camp Roberts is 31 miles away from the 9600 block of Via Cielo where the soldier landed.

While the homeowner herself has yet to comment, her mother, Linda Sallady, chronicled just how lucky the parachutist was. After falling through the skies and crashing into a home, the soldier missed any object that could have killed him.

“[He] came through the roof, through the trusses and there’s not that much damage in the house,” she said. “It’s amazing. It’s mostly the ceiling, the sheetrock. He missed the counters, appliances, everything.”

All other members of the training group reportedly touched ground safely in the designated landing field nearby.

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 16, 2021 12:33pm
 
U.K. soccer player Bukayo Saka says he won't let negativity

Bukayo Saka of England is consoled by teammates and Gareth Southgate, the head coach / manager of England, after missing the decisive penalty during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. / GETTY IMAGES
Bukayo Saka of England is consoled by teammates and Gareth Southgate, the head coach / manager of England, after missing the decisive penalty during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

English soccer player Bukayo Saka has broken his silence days after enduring racist abuse online following his team's Euro championship loss to Italy on Sunday. The 19-year-old Arsenal star said in a social media post Thursday that he won't let negativity "break" him.

Saka along with teammates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, who are all Black, were targeted with racist insults after missing penalty kicks. In his first public remarks since then, Saka vowed to return stronger to the pitch.

"I was hurting so much and I felt like I'd let you all and my England family down, but I can promise you this.. I will not let that moment or the negativity that I've received this week break me," he wrote.

Saka also called out social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, for failing to protect people from hate speech.

"I don't want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that me Marcus and Jadon have received this week," he said. "I knew instantly the kind of hate that I was about to receive and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages."

"There is no place for racism or hate of any kind in football or in any area of society and to the majority of people coming together to call out the people sending these messages, by taking action and reporting these comments to the police and by driving out the hate by being kind to one another, we will win," he added.

Four people have been arrested as part of a hate crime investigation into racist abuse directed at members of the England national soccer team, British police said. The investigation is still ongoing, and dozens more reports of abuse are being reviewed.

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 16, 2021 12:40pm
 
Black Lives Matter Sparks Uproar by Supporting Cuba Communist Gov't

The Black Lives Matter organization on Wednesday released a controversial statement on Cuba that criticizes the United States embargo

The Black Lives Matter organization on Wednesday released a controversial statement on Cuba that criticizes the United States embargo and then goes a step further by supporting the revolution that installed the country’s Communist government.

The statement was released on social media, including on the Black Lives Matter Facebook page, as Cuban citizens march in opposition to their leaders.

“The people of Cuba are being punished by the U.S. government because the country has maintained its commitment to sovereignty and self-determination,” the statement says. “United States leaders have tried to crush this Revolution for decades. Instead of international amity, respect, and goodwill, the U.S. government has only instigated suffering for the country’s 11 million people – of which 4 million are Black and Brown.

“... Now, we look to President Biden to end the embargo, something Barack Obama called for in 2016. This embargo is a blatant human rights violation and it must come to an end.”

The BLM organization, the statement says, “condemns the U.S. federal government’s inhumane treatment of Cubans, and urges it to immediately lift the economic embargo.”

“This cruel and inhumane policy, instituted with the explicit intention of destabilizing the country and undermining Cubans’ right to choose their own government, is at the heart of Cuba’s current crisis,” the statement says.

Since 1962, the statement says, the U.S. “has forced pain and suffering on the people of Cuba by cutting off food, medicine and supplies, costing the tiny island nation an estimated $130 billion.”

The statement drew widespread criticism.

Giancarlo Sopo, a Cuban American and communication strategist who worked with the Trump administration, tweeted, “Disgusting! Despite the Cuban dictatorship’s murdering and beating of protestors (many of them Black), BLM’s statement on Cuba. … condemns the US, praises the Castro regime, and makes no mention of the atrocities being committed by the dictatorship.”

“The extortionist ring known as the Black Lives Matter organization took a break today from shaking down corporations for millions & buying themselves mansions to share their support for the Communist regime in #Cuba,” Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, tweeted.

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 16, 2021 1:27pm
 
U.S. gymnast catches COVID days before opening ceremony as coronavirus chips away at Olympic teams

Coco Gauff of the U.S. in seen in action during her second-round match at  Wimbledon July 1, 2021. REUTERS/PAUL CHILDS
Coco Gauff of the U.S. in seen in action during her second-round match at Wimbledon July 1, 2021.

With just four days to go until the opening ceremony, the COVID-19 pandemic is casting an ever longer shadow over the Tokyo Summer Olympics. Officials have reported at least 12 new coronavirus cases connected with the Games since Sunday, including a U.S. gymnast and the first cases among athletes inside the Olympic village.

Several of the latest COVID-related losses will be felt sorely by Team USA.

On Monday, the Japanese city hosting the U.S. gymnastics team for pre-Games training said a female gymnast from the team had tested positive. The name of the athlete, who is in her teens, has been withheld by the city of Inzai, in Chiba Prefecture, where she had been training.

In a statement released on Monday, USA Gymnastics confirmed that a replacement athlete for the women's artistic gymnastics team had tested positive and that "the local government determined that the affected replacement athlete and one other replacement athlete would be subject to additional quarantine restrictions."

"Accordingly, on Monday, the Olympic athletes moved to separate lodging accommodations and a separate training facility, as originally planned, and will continue their preparation for the Games," the team said.

While several athletes from overseas have tested positive for the virus since arriving in Japan, the gymnast was the first known COVID-19 case among Olympians from the United States. Another U.S. gymnast was isolating in her hotel room after health authorities determined that they had been in close contact with the young woman who tested positive.

The COVID-positive American gymnast was first suspected of being infected with the virus on Sunday, and another test at a hospital early on Monday confirmed the result, according to Inzai officials. The U.S. team of 10 athletes was being screened for the virus daily since their arrival in Japan on Thursday. They had only left their hotel for training using a designated bus, the city said.

Tennis phenom Coco Gauff broke the news on Sunday that she, too, had tested positive and would not be participating in the Games. Gauff revealed her test just a couple days after USA Basketball lost point guard Bradley Beal. He was placed under COVID health and safety protocols due to a possible close contact near the end of last week.

All will be big losses for Team USA, but they're just more curveballs in what has already been an incredibly shaky start to this year's Olympics.

As more Olympic teams descended on the Japanese capital over the weekend, two South African soccer players tested positive for the virus, becoming the first athletes with confirmed infections inside the Olympic village.

The South African Football Association said the whole team was put under quarantine — with their first match just three days away. They will only be allowed to compete if they all test negative six hours before the match.

Japan's Kyodo TV reported on Monday that an unnamed member of the U.S. Gymnastics team had tested positive for COVID-19 in Japan, in addition to a beach volleyball player from the Czech team.

While Olympics officials said there was "zero" chance of the Games triggering a super-spreader event, most Japanese haven't bought that line. Two separate news polls over the weekend showed that an overwhelming majority of residents remained skeptical that the Games could be held safely.

Outside the village, the sprawling city of almost 14 million faces its own surge. Tokyo saw five consecutive days with more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases until they finally dipped again on Monday. The weekly average of new cases jumped more than 45% last week.

A major sponsor, Toyota, has pulled its Tokyo Olympics advertising and said its president won't attend the opening ceremony on Friday — a sign of the stigma associated with these trouble-plagued Games.

Local opposition to the Games isn't the only challenge this week. Officials also issued the first heatstroke alert for the city so far this year, encouraging athletes to drink more water to account for an Olympics that could, on top of everything else, end up being the hottest Games in decades.

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Posted by Temmy
Mon, July 19, 2021 4:46pm
 
Amazon Billionaire Bezos Blasts Off into Space, Touts Beginning of Space Tourism

Jeff Bezos attending the premiere of The Post at The Newseum in Washington
In this Dec. 14, 2017, file photo, Jeff Bezos attends the premiere of "The Post" at The Newseum in Washington.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos used the 52nd anniversary of NASA's Apollo 11 moon landing to tout his new space tourism company by riding in its first rocket.

Strapped in with three other crew members, Bezos became the second billionaire to launch into space on his own rocket.

Blue Origin's "New Shepard" rocket blasted off from West Texas with Bezos and his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands, and an 82-year-old female aviation pioneer from Texas — the youngest and oldest to ever hurtle off the planet.

The crew returned to earth safely after their brief ride.

Bezos and his billionaire rival Richard Branson are hoping to lure wealthy tourists to ride their new space attractions by appealing to people's sense of adventure and childhood dream of becoming an astronaut.

The capsule was fully automated, so there was no need for trained staff on the quick up-and-down flight which only lasted approximately 10 minutes. Branson's Virgin Galactic rocket plane needs two pilots to operate.

But the question remains. Can anyone who rides these "space flights" be considered an astronaut?

Axios reports the definition of an astronaut is open to interpretation since the FAA, U.S. military, and NASA all have different definitions of what it means to be designated as an "astronaut" and none of them fit perfectly with the way Bezos' Blue Origin or Branson's Virgin Galactic are doing business.

"There is going to be a segment of the population that's waiting in line to ride these suborbital rockets because they have dreamt of being an astronaut their entire lives, and to be told they're not an astronaut would ruin the experience for them," said space historian Robert Pearlman.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, July 21, 2021 12:39am
 
Florida Man Gets 8 Months in Prison in First Capitol Riot Felony Case

crowd surging towards the capitol

On Monday, a man from Tampa, Florida, was sentenced to 8 months in prison and fined $2,000 for his participation in the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building.

At the time of the riot, which was aimed at disrupting the certification process of the 2020 presidential election, 38-year-old Paul Hodgkins spent 15 minutes in the Senate taking pictures and waving the American flag in support of former President Donald Trump, USA Today reports.

U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss, who handed down the sentence, contended that waving the flag for Trump was an unmistakable sign of loyalty to one person instead of the entire country.

"Although Mr. Hodgkins was only one member of a larger mob, he actively and intentionally participated in an event that threatened not only the security of the Capitol but democracy itself," Moss said. "That is chilling, for many reasons."

Hodgkins, who previously pled guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding, asked the judge for no prison time. The defendant explained that he had no plans to enter the Capitol building on the day of the attack but claimed that he got swept up in a march heading down Pennsylvania Avenue.

After making his way inside the Capitol, Hodgkins claimed that he apologized to police officers and provided medical care to an injured rioter.

"I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I am truly remorseful and regretful for my actions in Washington," Hodgkins said. "This was a foolish decision on my part that I take full responsibility for it."

While Moss did not view Hodgkins as a "threat" or an "inherently evil person," the judge said that Hodgkins "knew what he was doing" on the day of the riot.

"He was one of a small number of people who made their way to the Senate floor," he added.

"It is essential to send a message that this type of conduct is utterly unacceptable, and that grave damage was done to our country that day," Moss contended.

Hodgkins' sentence is shorter than the 18-month sentence suggested by assistant U.S. attorney Mona Sedky. Hodgkins, who has no prior criminal background, was the first to plead guilty in the attack in the nation's capital.

Unlike the other rioters, however, he did not directly engage in violence or destroyed property.

Nevertheless, Hodgkins was ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution for his involvement in the insurrection on January 6.

Last month, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that over 500 people involved in the Capitol riot were arrested, including the 100th arrest of a defendant charged with assaulting a federal law enforcement officer.

"I could not be more proud of the extraordinary effort by investigators and prosecutors to hold accountable those who engaged in criminal acts that day," Garland said in a statement.

"Particular credit goes to those serving as prosecutors and agents in Washington, D.C., as well as those in FBI field offices and U.S. Attorney's Offices across the country, and with the Department's National Security Division," he continued.

He noted that the Justice Dept. received more than "200,000 digital tips" from the American public, which helped bring forth the criminal charges.

"I assure the American people that the Department of Justice will continue to follow the facts in this case and charge what the evidence supports to hold all January 6 perpetrators accountable," Merland asserts.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, July 21, 2021 9:07pm
 
Vaccine mandates likely after full FDA approval, says health expert

nurse preparing a flu shot
Nurses prepare a flu shot vaccine at a clinic in Boston.

As the Biden administration struggles to convince unvaccinated Americans to voluntarily take widely available COVID-19 vaccines in the face of rising infections and hospitalizations, one health expert believes vaccines could likely become mandated by businesses and government agencies once they receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 56% of the U.S. population has received a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, 48.7% of American adults have been fully vaccinated.

Andy Slavitt, who stepped down last month as President Joe Biden’s COVID response coordinator, told NBC News this week that he believes a wave of local vaccine mandates is likely to come once one or more of the three vaccines authorized by the FDA for emergency use get full approval from the agency.

“I think once the vaccines go through full FDA approval, everything should be on the table, and I think that everything will be on the table at the level of municipalities, states, employers, venues, government agencies,” Slavitt, who served as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the Obama administration, was quoted as saying.

Pfizer and BioNTech, as well as Moderna, submitted applications for full approval of their vaccines to the FDA on May 7, 2021, and June 1, 2021, respectively.

While the FDA has not indicated when full approval of the mRNA vaccines might happen, it is expected that the submissions for full approval will get what is known as “priority review," which takes about six months.

Using this timeline, the FDA could decide on full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by January 2022 and February 2022 for the Moderna vaccine, Healthline noted.

Once the vaccines are fully approved by the FDA, Slavitt said he believes some federal agencies should begin requiring vaccinations for their employees. This includes military members, healthcare workers at Veterans Affairs hospitals and nursing homes and other federal workers in close contact with the public.

“I think every government agency ought to rethink what's appropriate,” Slavitt told NBC News. “There are a number of people in surveys, by the way, who say precisely these words, ‘I'm not going to take it, unless it's required.’”

In August 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, said he didn’t foresee a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the United States.

“I don't think you'll ever see a mandating of vaccine, particularly for the general public,” Fauci said during a Healthline.com townhall, CNN reported.

He argued that everyone had the right to refuse the vaccine.

“If someone refuses the vaccine in the general public, then there's nothing you can do about that. You cannot force someone to take a vaccine," he said.

Almost a year later, however, Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union" last week that it would be a good idea to have vaccine mandates at the local level.

“I have been of this opinion, and I remain of that opinion that I do believe at the local level, there should be more mandates. There really should be,” Fauci said.

“We’re talking about life-and-death situations. We’ve lost 600,000 Americans already, and we’re still losing more people. There have been 4 million deaths worldwide. This is serious business. So I am in favor of that.”

Across the U.S., hundreds of colleges have mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for the upcoming school year, prompting legal challenges by those opposed to getting the experimental vaccine.

A federal judge sided with Indiana University's vaccination requirement in an opinion issued early Monday morning after eight students challenged the school's requirement that students and employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine before the start of the fall semester.

The university will recognize certain medical and religious exemptions to its requirement. But officials say unvaccinated students will need to continue following coronavirus mitigation strategies as they ease them for the fully vaccinated.

In June, a judge in Texas dismissed a lawsuit filed by former Houston Methodist Hospital staff members who were let go for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, July 21, 2021 9:21pm
 
Law forcing nursing homes to use trans pronouns struck down by appeals court

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A California appeals court has ruled that a state law that requires nursing home staff to use transgender pronouns is a violation of their free speech rights.

In a unanimous 3-0 decision Friday from the California Third District Court of Appeals, judges ruled against a 2017 rule that penalizes non-compliant health care providers who repeatedly fail to use trans-identified residents' preferred names or pronouns.

Violations could be prosecuted as misdemeanors, and violators could face 180 days in jail and a $2,500 fine.

The court held that what is known as “misgendering” a transgender-identified person with pronouns denoting biological sex may indeed be “disrespectful, discourteous, or insulting. However, “the First Amendment does not protect only speech that inoffensively and artfully articulates a person’s point of view.”

"At the very least, willful refusal to refer to transgender persons by their preferred pronouns conveys general disagreement with the concept that a person’s gender identity may be different from the sex the person was assigned at birth. Consistent with the Legislature’s findings in enacting section 1439.51, we conclude misgendering does indeed convey an ideological message," the opinion reads.

"Because the pronoun provision is a content-based restriction of speech, we disagree with both the trial court and the Attorney General, who argues the provision is
merely a time, place, or manner restriction."

The court further added that free speech law protects "a wide variety of speech a listener may find offensive, including insulting speech based on race, national origin, or religious beliefs."

The court further held that had the regulation been more specific by targeting intentional insults or harassment and not include criminal penalties, it might have been upheld.

Justice Ronald Robie argued in a concurring opinion that the state legislature "chose a prophylactic remedy to eliminate misuse of pronouns that just went too far."

"Instead of mandating that employers ensure the use of proper pronouns in the workplace, the Legislature unwisely made misuse of pronouns a crime," Robie wrote. "When we rule this law cannot stand, we do not reject the need for persons to use appropriate pronouns but, in my opinion, are suggesting that the Legislature fashion a workable means of accomplishing the laudable goal of the legislation."

LGBT activists decried the court's ruling.

"Let's be clear: refusing to use someone's correct name and pronouns isn't an issue of free speech — it's a hateful act that denies someone their dignity and truth," said Rick Chavez Zbur, the executive director of Equality California.

"California's nursing home patients deserve better than this — and we'll be fighting until this decision is overturned," he said.

The contested statute became law in 2017 as part of the LGBTQ Long-Term Care Facility Residents’ Bill of Rights, signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown.

State Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, who authored the law and is a frequent sponsor of other LGBT-oriented measures in the Golden State, said the court’s decision was “misguided” and must not be allowed to stand.

"Deliberately misgendering a transgender person isn't just a matter of opinion, and it's not simply 'disrespectful, discourteous, or insulting.' Rather, it's straight-up harassment," he said in a statement.

The ruling comes on the heels of a related court decision at the federal level surrounding institutionally mandated use of a transgender-identifying person’s desired pronouns and the challenge such requirements pose to rights outlined in the First Amendment.

In late March, a three-judge panel on the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit remanded a decision back to the lower district court. The judges' ruled that Nicolas Meriwether, a professor of philosophy at Shawnee State University in Ohio, was within his rights to sue the school for violating his free speech rights by requiring him to address a trans-identified student using opposite-sex pronouns.

The lower U.S. district court had previously dismissed Meriwether’s lawsuit.

The appellate court’s opinion, authored by Trump appointee Judge Amul Thapar, stated that universities have traditionally been home to academic freedom and that intellectual diversity is encouraged.

“They have prided themselves on being forums where controversial ideas are discussed and debated. And they have tried not to stifle debate by picking sides. But Shawnee State chose a different route: It punished a professor for his speech on a hotly contested issue,” the opinion reads.

“And it did so despite the constitutional protections afforded by the First Amendment. The district court dismissed the professor’s free-speech and free-exercise claims. We see things differently and reverse.”

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 22, 2021 1:45pm
 
China Rejects WHO Plan for Study into Origins of COVID

patient undergoing covid 19 test
A patient is given a COVID-19 test by a medical worker outside Brooklyn Hospital Center

China cannot accept the World Health Organization's plan for the second phase of a study into the origins of COVID-19, a senior Chinese health official said Thursday.

Zeng Yixin, the vice minister of the National Health Commission, said he was "taken aback" by the plan and specifically, the theory that the virus might have leaked from a Chinese lab.

He dismissed the theory as a rumor that runs counter to "common sense" and science at a news conference called to address the COVID-19 origins issue.

The search for the origins of the virus has become a diplomatic issue that has worsened China's relations with the US and many of its allies.

The US and others say that China has not been transparent about what happened in the early days of the pandemic.

China accuses critics of politicizing an issue that should be left to scientists.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO, acknowledged last week that it was premature to rule out a potential link between the pandemic and a leak from a Chinese government lab in Wuhan, the city where the disease was first detected in late 2019.

Zeng said the Wuhan lab has no virus that can directly infect humans.

He noted that a WHO-coordinated team of international experts who visited the lab earlier this year concluded that a lab leak was highly unlikely.

Zeng's points were supported at Thursday's news conference by Wuhan Institute of Virology Professor Yuan Zhiming.

Most experts believe the virus likely jumped from animals to humans.

The highly politicized debate centers on whether a lab leak is so unlikely that the theory should be ruled out as a possibility.

China has frequently sought to deflect accusations that the pandemic originated in Wuhan and was allowed to spread by early bureaucratic missteps and an attempted coverup.

Government spokespeople have called for an investigation into whether it might have been produced in a US military laboratory, a theory not widely held in the scientific community.

China has largely ended local transmission of the virus through lockdowns, masking requirements and the distribution of more than 1 billion doses of vaccine.

Just 12 new local cases were reported on Thursday and China's death toll from the virus remains unchanged at 4,636.

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 22, 2021 3:13pm
 
Biden says eliminating filibuster would "throw the entire Congress into chaos"

president biden standing with don lemon of cnn
President Biden, accompanied by CNN journalist Don Lemon, appears at a CNN town hall at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.

President Biden essentially rejected the idea of eliminating the filibuster, asserting, that doing so would "throw the entire Congress into chaos, and nothing would get done."

He was in Cincinnati at a town hall Wednesday night, and his desire to preserve the filibuster, with some reforms, came despite prodding from CNN host Don Lemon about the role of the filibuster in stalling civil rights legislation, and amid clear support among audience for eliminating it.

When a first-year law student asked about eliminating the filibuster, which has meant in modern times that most legislation needs 60 votes to end debate and move forward, the audience cheered. While some Democrats have said eliminating the filibuster is the only way to pass voting rights, Mr. Biden demurred and suggested that he wants — and believes he can get — a broader coalition. He said he wanted to bring Republicans along, too.

The president pushed the Senate to move forward with voting rights legislation and not get "wrapped up whether this is all about the filibuster."

In Mr. Biden's second town hall since taking office, COVID-19 and restarting the economy dominated the discussion. He addressed the spike in coronavirus cases, declining vaccination rates, and also immigration, the opioid crisis and the ongoing debate in the Senate over his infrastructure bill.

He remains confident that despite the failed procedural vote on the bill Wednesday, the legislation will be treated more favorably on Monday, and the bill will ultimately be successful. "I think it's going to get done," he said.

The infrastructure bill is a large part of Mr. Biden's economic agenda, and he insisted Wednesday it has bipartisan support, and repeatedly praised home state Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, a Republican.

Lemon kicked off the town hall by asking Mr. Biden about vaccinations as the nation grapples with slowing vaccination rates and infections that are rising in some states because of the rapidly spreading Delta variant among those without protection against the disease. "We have a pandemic for those who haven't gotten a vaccination. It's that basic, that simple," Mr. Biden answered.

Mr. Biden noted that there are ongoing trials on the vaccination of children under 12 years of age, and he said he thought kids in school will likely be wearing masks in the fall.

The town hall comes as Mr. Biden marks six months in office.

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 22, 2021 3:31pm
 
Opening ceremony kicks off the Tokyo Olympics as Naomi Osaka lights cauldron

Naomi Osaka reacts after lighting the cauldron during the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium
Japan's Naomi Osaka reacts after lighting the cauldron during the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 23, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.

The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics began on Friday in a largely empty stadium, as cases of the coronavirus in the host city hit a six-month high. Friends and families of competitors were among those barred from attending the ceremony in person to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Tennis star Naomi Osaka lit the cauldron atop a peak inspired by Mount Fuji, ending the flame's journey from Greece to Japan. The four-time Grand Slam winner dipped the flame in the cauldron to mark the formal start of the Games and fireworks filled the sky.

After an opening fireworks display, the opening ceremony was relatively somber in tone. Near the start, a moment of silence was taken for those who had died during the pandemic, as well as for members of the Israeli Olympic team who were murdered during the Munich Games in 1972.

The acts reflecting Japanese culture and heritage were streamlined and simple. A white pyramid depicting Mount Fuji remained in the background.

In keeping with Olympic tradition, Greece was first in the parade of nations to enter the stadium. It was followed by representatives of the refugee team. Japan, as the host country, entered last. The U.S. team entered third to last.

Athletes from the United States of America walk during the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium
Athletes from the United States of America walk during the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 23, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.

"You had to face great challenges on your Olympic journey," President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach told the athletes that were gathered after processing into the stadium.

"Through the pandemic, you did not know when you could train again... You did not even know whether this competition would take place at all. You struggled. You persevered. You never gave up. And today, you are making your Olympic dream come true," he said.

An extra line was added to the Olympic motto this year to make it read: "Faster, higher, stronger — together."

"The pandemic forced us apart," Bach said. "To keep our distance from each other. To stay away, even from our loved ones. This separation made this tunnel so dark. But today, wherever in the world you may be, we are united in sharing this moment together. The Olympic flame makes this light shine brighter for all of us," he said.

Some politicians and dignitaries, including U.S. first lady Jill Biden, were among the limited few permitted to watch from the stands. Hundreds of fans and supporters gathered outside the gates of the Olympic Village, waving at cars that went by with Olympic logos or people with Olympic credentials, the Associated Press reported.

But other crowds gathered in Tokyo to protest the Games.

Anti-Olympic protestors demonstrating near the National Stadium in Tokyo
Anti-Olympic protestors demonstrate near the National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan where the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics took place, Friday, July 23, 2021.

Dozens of demonstrators around the city chanted "cancel the Olympics" and "go to hell, IOC" on Friday. Despite precautions, there are fears that the event could worsen Japan's coronavirus outbreak.

In addition to the pandemic, the spectacle of the opening ceremony was undercut by the firing of the event's creative director. Kentaro Kobayashi was dismissed Thursday after a video emerged of him appearing to joke about the Holocaust.

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 23, 2021 4:54pm
 
Couple Whose Gender Reveal Party Triggered A Catastrophic Forest Fire Now Face Charges

A harrowing scene from the El Dorado wildfire
A harrowing scene from the El Dorado wildfire in 2020

The young couple wanted to celebrate the birth of their new baby. Instead, their “gender reveal party” birthed a fearsome fire that tore across Southern California. The couple now faces charges for 30 crimes including involuntary manslaughter.


“You’re obviously dealing with lost lives, you’re dealing with injured lives, and you’re dealing with people’s residences that were burned and their land that was burned,” stated San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson during a news conference.

“That encompasses a lot of, not only emotion, but damage, both financially and psychologically.”

As a result of the fire, Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez face charges of involuntary manslaughter, three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, and 22 misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to the property of another.


The couple has pleaded not guilty. If charged, they could face up to 20 years in prison.

But they didn’t set out to take life. On the contrary, the Jimenez family initially wanted to celebrate life. They put together a “gender reveal party” on Sept. 5, 2020, to unveil the gender of their new baby.

Alongside their young children, the Jimenez family set up a gender reveal at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa, at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains. But it quickly went awry. Their “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” — which was meant to burst into pink or blue smoke — instead caught the long, dry grass on fire.

The family desperately tried to douse the fire with water bottles. But it was too late. Strong winds, high heat, and parched grass fed the fire, which rapidly spread across 22,000 acres.

The blaze — dubbed the El Dorado fire — burned for the next two months. As it spread, it consumed five homes and 15 other buildings.

The blaze also injured 13 people and caused hundreds of people to evacuate from their homes. And, on Sept. 17, 2020, it took the life of a firefighter, 39-year-old Charles Morton.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, Morton died while “engaged in fire suppression operations.”

Until firefighters defeated the blaze on Nov. 16, California residents could only watch in horror. Officials called the El Dorado wildfire “one of the most dangerous fires” they’d ever seen.

“In my 30 years as a citizen in Yucaipa, I have never seen such a large fire,” said Yucaipa Mayor David Avila at the time. “As a retired firefighter with 32 years of experience, I can assure you I witnessed one of the most dangerous fires that we can have in this area.”

To make matters even worse, the El Dorado fire burned alongside 23 other fires in California. As those blazes scorched a full four percent of the state, they destroyed nearly 10,500 buildings and killed 33 people.

Tragically, such devastating fires are becoming the new normal in states like California. That’s because climate change doesn’t only cause dry conditions — it can also trigger extreme weather like high winds. Huge, rapidly spreading fires are much harder to fight using traditional techniques.

But perhaps the most devastating part about the El Dorado fire is that it didn’t have to happen. Some things are out of people’s control — lightning strikes, for example, frequently spark destructive wildfires. However, the El Dorado fire was caused by a gender reveal party — and a lack of caution and consideration.

In fact, it’s not even the first gender reveal party to turn deadly. In February 2021, a man in New York died while building a gender reveal explosive device. And a similar gender reveal explosive triggered the Sawmill Fire, which consumed 46,000 acres and racked up costs of $8.2 million.

So far, the Jiminez family has offered no comment on what happened.

“I can’t speak on their behalf,” said Capt. Bennet Milloy, of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, on Sept. 7, 2020, “but personally, I can only imagine how terrible they have to feel for a lot of reasons.”

The couple will return to court on Sept. 15.

After reading about the couple facing charges for their wildfire-sparking-gender-reveal, learn about the man who caused a wildfire by burning books in Florida. Or, looking through these shocking photos of fire tornadoes.

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 23, 2021 11:45pm
 
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