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Zebra Cobra

Zebra Cobra

Venomous snake roaming North Carolina suburbs: Experts say one bite or spit may be fatal

Spitting cobra on the loose in North Carolina neighbourhood (Raleigh Police Department)
Spitting cobra on the loose in North Carolina neighbourhood

Residents of one Raleigh, North Carolina, neighborhood awoke Tuesday to news that a zebra cobra snake was on the loose.

The zebra cobra is not indigenous to the state; in fact, it's not even indigenous to the country. Zebra cobras originate from Africa, according to the African Snake Bite Institute. The snake is usually shy and will choose to escape, although if it is cornered, it will quickly bite or spit. Its venom can cause tissue damage or even death, according to the institute.

The zebra cobra is nocturnal and has black vertical stripes. It often has a dark black or brown head.

Residents of the neighborhood told WRAL-TV that they had no clue one of their neighbors was keeping a zebra cobra as a pet. They said they were especially concerned for their children and pets.

"It is pretty alarming," Mark Pavlic, who lives there in the neighborhood, told WRAL. "It seems like a pretty dangerous snake, and dogs like to sniff in the grass and check things out. It's an extreme worry."

According to North Carolina state law, as long as the owner keeps the reptile in an escape-proof enclosure, it’s not illegal to be in possession of a venomous snake. The law says the owner must have an escape if the animal escapes, including the location of a suitable antivenin.

Police advised residents to call 911 if they see the snake.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, June 30, 2021 3:16pm
 
Aaron Wright

She Wanted a New Restraining Order. She Got Shot 4 Times.

Melissa Geoghagan
Melissa Geoghagan

For the last two years, Melissa Geoghagan heard horror stories from her friend, Andrea Walker Wright, about her ex-husband.

Geoghagan, a 42-year-old middle school teacher, said that soon after her friend’s 11-year marriage to Aaron Wright dissolved in 2019, he began to launch a campaign of harassment against her. She said that several times, Andrea told her, Aaron drove past her house.

Andrea even said she feared he put a tracker on her car and a camera in her house, according to Geoghagan.

“He started harassing her soon after she left, but even when they were married, he had financial control over her,” Geoghagan, who said she has been best friends with Andrea for years, told The Daily Beast. “He lost it after the divorce, but I think she was scared to confront him about it.”

Last February, Andrea even got a temporary restraining order against Aaron, according to a sealed court docket. A judge, however, denied the motion to make it permanent eight months later.

Since then, Geoghagan said, and especially over the last three months, Andrea called police on Aaron “multiple times,” but he was never arrested.

“She would always say that he never faced any consequences,” Geoghagan added.

This time might be different—albeit at a tremendous cost.

This week, police say, Aaron turned off his ex-wife’s power and disabled her home alarm before breaking in through a back window and shooting her four times—all while their children slept in the house. The children, whose ages range from 5 to 12, were uninjured in the incident.

Aaron is now facing aggravated assault and burglary charges for the Monday morning attack authorities say he committed with a girlfriend. Investigators believe the elaborate crime, which occurred hours before the divorced pair were set to attend a child-custody hearing, was spurred by Aaron’s fear he would lose guardianship.

An attorney for Aaron Wright did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment for this story. A Sheriff’s Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 280th District Court Judge Barbara Stalder, who ruled on the restraining order and won her seat after campaigning as a survivor of domestic violence herself, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Geoghagan, however, insisted that Monday’s brutal crime was the latest in a grim pattern for the Harris County family.

“[Andrea] has been saying this was going to happen for years, and it just fell on deaf ears. I bet people are listening now that he finally snapped,” she said, noting that when her friend complained, “police treated her like she was this crazy person.”

Harris County Sheriff’s Office records first obtained by ABC13 show that between 2019 and 2020, the pair called law enforcement at least 13 times. Most of the calls were placed by Andrea, who frequently requested welfare checks on her children while they were at Aaron’s home. Since March, records show, deputies responded to three calls for service at Andrea’s address, including one for a terroristic threat and another for a suspicious vehicle.

Court documents paint a picture of the erstwhile couple’s contentious relationship—including what Aaron described as bogus claims of harassment against him.

In October 2019, Aaron filed for a temporary restraining order against his ex-wife after accusing her of launching a “deliberate campaign to damage and destroy my relationship with my children and my reputation in my church and community.”

In a detailed affidavit obtained by The Daily Beast, Aaron alleged that after the pair finalized their divorce on July 23, 2019, Andrea made several “defamatory” comments online and to members of their community claiming he was stalking, harassing, and breaking into her home.

She Tried to Escape Her Ex—but the Courthouse Was Closed

Aaron said that their eldest daughter even asked him if he had plans to harm Andrea after she had heard he was “going around telling people at church that I wish her mom was dead so she wouldn’t see her children anymore.” In the affidavit, which also states Andrea accused Aaron of breaking into her house and trying to burn it down “by plugging a coffee pot inside the garage with no water in it,” Aaron repeatedly denies all allegations of wrongdoing.

“Andrea Wright’s slanderous and defamatory statements and written comments are hurting our children,” the affidavit states. “Andrea Wright must stop her horrifically reprehensible, heinous, and despicable defamatory conduct.”

Aaron was ultimately granted this restraining order. In the order, obtained by The Daily Beast, Andrea was restrained from making “disparaging remarks” about her ex-husband “or discussing or airing any disputes between the parties on any social media or in any public forum outlet.”

Months later, Andrea won her own temporary restraining order against Aaron. But details of her allegations are unknown, since all court documents related to her case are sealed. On Nov. 20, 2020, however, her application for an extended order was denied after a two-day hearing that included testimony and evidence.

Andrea’s neighbors, meanwhile, believe that her allegations were highly credible.

In an interview with Click2Houston, Richard and Elda Carlson claimed that Aaron broke into Andrea’s house shortly after she moved into the Harris County neighborhood. Another neighbor, who did not wish to be named for fear of personal retaliation, told The Daily Beast that Andrea had asked her at least once if Aaron’s truck had passed their street.

“She was scared for her life,” the neighbor said.

Andrea’s boyfriend, Jimmy Bolton, echoed Geoghagan’s account of the legal system failing a woman in danger.

“She has been begging the courts and the police for help since their divorce two years ago. He has been violent and threatening, out of control, and everyone knew this was coming yet they did nothing to stop it,” Bolton told The Daily Beast.

Police have at least partially echoed Bolton’s own account of Aaron’s misconduct.

“I do understand that he has threatened the new boyfriend multiple times,” Harris County Deputy Investigator John Mook told reporters of Aaron Wright on Monday evening. “I’m sure this was a contentious divorce as well. We’re looking into all of that.”

Investigators believe that around 3:30 a.m. on Monday, Aaron cut Andrea’s power before breaking into the house through a back window. Inside the house, as their four children were sleeping, Aaron allegedly shot Andrea four times. Surveillance video obtained by local outlets shows Aaron and his girlfriend walking toward the house—and later running away. Aaron’s girlfriend had not been identified or charged in the crime.

The Carlsons said that after the shooting, the two of the Wright children ran to their house in a panic.

“They came over and saw us out here, a daughter and a son, and we took them in the house to protect them from what’s going on,” Richard Carlson told Click2Houston.

Aaron was arrested several hours later.

Authorities said that Andrea was immediately taken to a local hospital, where she was in the ICU after the initial surgery. Geoghagan has set up a GoFundMe for her best friend, stating that Andrea needs all the help she can get right now as she embarks on a “painful road ahead.”

“She still has a couple more surgeries,” Geoghagan said, noting that the incident “completely shattered her femur” and Andrea will now need “rods and pins” in her leg” after undergoing at least one surgery at a local hospital. “But Andrea is more concerned about her kids. She is terrified for them.”

Her prognosis was a grim one, Bolton agreed. “She is in a lot of pain,” he said, adding, “She is terrified that he is going to come back and finish the job, and nobody will do anything to stop him.”

During a Tuesday detention hearing, Judge Army Martin set Aaron’s bond at $175,000, noting that his “planning and technique” during the break-in shows his deliberate plans to harm Andrea.

The judge also ruled Aaron cannot go within 200 feet of Andrea and her house. Investigators noted during the hearing that the four children were currently with their maternal grandmother.

For Geoghagan, her best friend’s tragedy should be a “wake-up call to believe women.”

“People didn’t want to hear it. People don’t want to hear it. Police don’t want to hear it, families don’t want to hear it. They’re acting like we’re being dramatic, but this is their wake-up call,” she said. “We’re not being dramatic. Listen to people when they say they are scared.”

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, June 30, 2021 4:16pm
 
Joe Biden

Biden faces new heat to cancel $50K in student loan debt, keep payments frozen

Biden faces new heat to cancel $50K in student loan debt, keep payments frozen
Biden faces new heat to cancel $50K in student loan debt, keep payments frozen

As millions of Americans wait for President Joe Biden to make a decision about canceling massive amounts of student debt, congressional Democrats are urging the administration to protect borrowers who will soon have to resume making their student loan payments.

Those same lawmakers also are not giving up calls for Biden to write off $50,000 in federal student loans for every borrower. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer just made another pledge to keep the heat on the president.

Schumer and fellow Democrats say with just "the flick of a pen,” Biden could give millions of struggling Americans a meaningful break from crushing debt.

In the meantime, borrowers may get another reprieve from their loans coming due.

Top lawmaker pushes for $50,000 in forgiveness

On Monday, during a virtual event examining the effects of student debt cancellation, Schumer reiterated his recent vow to keep pressing the White House to forgive $50,000 in federal student loan debt per person.

“I promise I'll keep pushing the Biden administration to do it," the Senate's top Democrat said. He noted that some 43 million Americans hold over $1.7 billion in student loan debt, and about 1 in 5 borrowers is in default.

“With Joe Biden in the White House and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, the time is now to take action," Schumer said.

But lately, the president has been more focused on getting an infrastructure deal to repair roads, railways and bridges and connect every American to broadband — as well as a spending plan aimed at families.

Students aren't prepared to make payments again

Payments on some $1.4 trillion in federal student loan debt have been paused since March of last year. Interest charges also have been suspended, and the government stopped collection efforts on those in default.

The long break will end Oct. 1, when tens of millions of student loan borrowers will be expected to resume making their payments. But 90% say they're not ready to begin paying again, according to a recent survey from advocacy organization Student Debt Crisis.

Last week, Schumer was one of 64 U.S. senators and representatives who signed a letter urging Biden to extend the pause on federal student loan payments until at least March 31, 2022, or until the economy reaches pre-pandemic employment levels — whichever is longer.

For the first time, the letter says, millions of student loan borrowers have been able to pay rent and put food on the table. Millions of others have been able to pay down debts or save money to buy their first homes.

Failing to extend the pause, the lawmakers say, would not only hurt the struggling students, but could also hinder the country’s economic recovery.

What the Biden administration has done so far

Calls for widespread student loan forgiveness have intensified in recent months. Biden ran for president on the promise to forgive thousands of dollars in student loan debt for every borrower in the U.S.

Since taking office, he has expressed a preference for eliminating $10,000 in debt per person and has questioned his ability to go bigger than that.

The president has already canceled about $2.3 billion in student loan debt related to specific circumstances. About $1 billion of it was held by borrowers who said they’d been ripped off by their schools, and another $1.3 billion was owed by Americans described as totally and permanently disabled.

An additional $500 million was wiped clean in recent weeks, for former students defrauded by the now-defunct ITT Technical Institute.

But the $50,000 question remains unanswered. For around three months, Biden's education secretary, Miguel Cardona, has been studying whether forgiving that much student debt per borrower is within Biden's power.

What to do while you’re waiting for the verdict

If you're one of the millions with overwhelming student loan debt, there are a few steps you can take to try to reduce some of your expenses while Congress and the president sort out the forgiveness issue.

First, you might consider refinancing your student loans. Interest rates on student loan refinances from private lenders have hit record lows, so replacing your debt with a new private student loan could cut your monthly payments substantially.

Federal loan forgiveness, if it ever happens, would not apply to private loans.

If you’re a homeowner, you might refinance your mortgage. Some 14.1 million mortgage holders could save an average $287 a month with a refi, according to mortgage technology and data provider Black Knight. But time may be running out. The 30-year mortgage just rate hit 3.02%, the highest since mid-April.

And remember that the best rates go to borrowers with the highest credit scores. If you haven't seen your score in a while, it’s easy now to take a look at your credit score for free.

Once you slash your debt costs, you might think about generating a little more income — with some low-stakes investing in the stock market. One popular app helps you build a diversified portfolio using little more than "spare change" from everyday purchases.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, June 30, 2021 4:30pm
 
Heat Dome

Canada heatwave live: 250 die in historic ‘heat dome’ across Pacific Northwest as price gougers rip off victims

Smoke and flames are seen during the Sparks Lake wildfire at Thompson-Nicola Regional District, British Columbia on 29 June (via REUTERS)
Smoke and flames are seen during the Sparks Lake wildfire at Thompson-Nicola Regional District, British Columbia on 29 June

Temperatures have soared close to 50C as the US Pacific north-west and Canada is gripped by a heatwave that has already contributed to dozens of deaths.

The sweltering heat is being caused by a “heat dome” according to meteorologists, as temperatures climbed to 49.5C in Lytton, British Columbia, on Tuesday.

In Vancouver, the police department said it had redeployed dozens of officers and asked the public to call 911 only for emergencies because heat-related deaths had depleted frontline resources and delayed response times.

The force added that it had already responded to 130 sudden deaths since last Friday.

In the American west temperatures hit a high of 46C in Portland, Oregon, as roads buckled, schools were closed and large wildfires continue to burn in the region.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, June 30, 2021 4:36pm
 
Statue Of Diana

Princes Harry, William reunite for late mother Diana's statue unveiling on her 60th birthday

Prince William and Prince Harry look at the statue they commissioned of their mother Princess Diana, on what would have been her 60th birthday, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, London, Thursday July 1, 2021.
Prince William and Prince Harry look at the statue they commissioned of their mother Princess Diana, on what would have been her 60th birthday, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, London, Thursday July 1, 2021.

Prince Harry and Prince William reunited publicly Thursday for the unveiling of Princess Diana's new statue on what would have been their late mother's 60th birthday.

William, 39, and Harry, 36, entered the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace side by side, smiling, before greeting guests separately. Together, they revealed the bronze statue of Diana from under a green tarp and stood an arms' length away while admiring the work. The statue of Diana, which is slightly larger than life-size, is surrounded by three bronze children, meant to symbolize her universal and generational impact on humanitarian causes.

"Amazing," Prince William could be heard remarking at one point.

A plinth at the base of the statue was engraved with Diana's name and Thursday's date as well as an excerpt of the poem "The Measure of a Man," which was featured in her 2007 memorial service: “These are the units to measure the worth / Of this woman as a woman regardless of birth. / Not what was her station? / But had she a heart? / How did she play her God-given part?”

Only a handful of guests were at the statue unveiling, mostly Diana's relatives including her siblings: Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Lady Jane Baroness Fellowes and Earl Charles Spencer. No other royal family members were in attendance, though a few dozen spectators gathered outside, trying to catch a glimpse of the unveiling.

The Duke of Sussex returned to Britain earlier this week – the first time since April, when he visited for the funeral of his grandfather, Prince Philip. Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, stepped down from royal duties last year and the couple now lives in California with their children, 2-year-old Archie Harrison and newborn Lilibet Diana.

The Duke of Cambridge, who is second in line for the British throne, remains in the U.K. with his wife, Duchess Kate of Cambridge, and their three children: Prince George, who turns 8 later this month, Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3.

Harry and William commissioned the statue of their mother in 2017 to honor her legacy after she died in a Paris car wreck in 1997. Four years later, following a killer pandemic that continues to keep England locked down, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex are living on different continents and barely speaking to each other.

To recap, Harry and his biracial American wife, the former Meghan Markle, stunned his family and Britain by abruptly quitting their royal roles and moving to America in 2020. A year later, in March 2021, they told Oprah Winfrey in a TV interview that they did so because they were fed up with racism in the British media and in the royal family. Meghan said that someone in the royal family, but neither the queen or Prince Philip, had raised concerns about "how dark" Archie's skin might be when he was born. Harry said he wanted to protect Meghan, who became suicidal from the pressure of royal life.

William was so cross about what Harry has said about the royals in public that he uncharacteristically spoke out himself, sternly declaring to a reporter, "We're very much not a racist family."

Following Prince Philip's death on April 9, Harry returned to join his family at the April 17 funeral. He and William entered the funeral separated by their cousin, Peter Phillips, but left later standing shoulder to shoulder in conversation.

More: Diana’s statue will reunite Prince William and Prince Harry. Can it repair their rift?

Ahead of Thursday's unveiling, the brothers released a joint statement thanking statue designer Ian Rank-Broadley and garden designer Pip Morrison for their efforts to "keep our mother's memory alive."

“Today, on what would have been our Mother’s 60th birthday, we remember her love, strength and character – qualities that made her a force for good around the world, changing countless lives for the better," they said. “Every day, we wish she were still with us, and our hope is that this statue will be seen forever as a symbol of her life and her legacy."

The new Princess Diana statue sits in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, one of her favorite spots at the palace and where Harry and Meghan announced their engagement in November 2017.

Ahead of the unveiling – which was delayed due to the pandemic – the palace shared details about the garden's redesign, which keeps historic structures and now includes several of Diana's favorite flowers, including forget-me-nots. The garden and statue will be open to the public during palace visiting hours.

“While she was in residence at Kensington Palace, Diana, Princess of Wales, regularly admired the changing floral displays in the Sunken Garden and would always stop to talk with me and the other gardeners who cared for it," read a statement from Graham Dillamore, Deputy Head of Gardens and Estates at Historic Royal Palaces.

“Over three decades later, I’m honored to have been part of the team preparing the garden for the installation of this statue. We’ve incorporated a number of the Princess’s favorite flowers into the design, and I hope that visitors to the palace and gardens will enjoy its peaceful setting, and take a moment to reflect on the life and legacy of the Princess.”

A day prior to the statue unveiling, Harry made a surprise appearance at a London charity event to meet with seriously ill children.

On Wednesday, Harry visited Kew Gardens in west London for an awards ceremony for WellChild, a charity he is patron of. He was joined at the garden party by celebrities including Ed Sheeran and Ronnie Wood.

He chatted with children who won awards and their families, and was seen telling some of those attending that it was “quite a juggle” coping with his newborn daughter, Lilibet, and his 2-year-old son, Archie.

In a statement released by WellChild, Harry said the charity had “an extraordinarily special place in my heart.”

“Now as a father of two, I feel all the more connected, inspired and in awe of the resilience of these families, who power through indescribable challenges with the support of WellChild,” he said.

Prince William visited Scotland over the past few days with Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate Holyrood Week, known in Scotland as Royals Week, which "celebrates Scottish culture, achievement and communities," according to the palace.

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 02, 2021 5:37pm
 
Parasailer Attacked By Shark

Shark leaps out of water and bites parasailer in bizarre attack

A tandem parasailer hovering just above the water surface of the Red Sea sustained injuries when a shark leaped out of the water and bit his foot in a bizarre attack


A tandem parasailer hovering just above the water surface of the Red Sea sustained injuries when a shark leaped out of the water and bit his foot in a bizarre attack in the Gulf of Aqaba.

The incident occurred last Friday off the Jordanian port city of Aqaba, as reported by the Daily Mail and The U.S. Sun.

The 37-year-old Jordan man, who wasn’t identified, was taken to Prince Hashem Military Hospital where he underwent an operation on his right foot. He lost part of the back of his foot and suffered severed tendons, torn muscles and broken bones. He was listed as stable.

“The shark attack garnered a lot of media attention; truthfully, it scared a lot of people, but this is something that can take place anywhere,” Mohammad Qatawneh of the Aqaba International Diver Center told the Jordan News, according to the Daily Mail.

“I’ve been diving for 20 years and this is the first time I’ve heard of a shark attack.”

Mohammed Khalil Al Zabada of the College of Marine Sciences, told Gulf News, “Sharks are found in all the seas of the world, and in the Red Sea there are many types of sharks, but their presence in the Aqaba region is very rare.”

Meanwhile, Nayef Al Bakhit, head of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, announced that a committee was formed to investigate information circulating about citizens being attacked by a shark in Aqaba Friday evening.

“The committee will issue a detailed statement about what happened as soon as they complete the investigation,” Al Bakhit emphasised.

Regarding news about sharks attacking a boat, Bakhit said that ASEZA was not informed and no sharks were seen in the Gulf of Aqaba on Sunday, the day after the man was attacked.

The Daily Mail reported that several people have been attacked by sharks in the Red Sea in the past year, though farther south, off the Egyptian coast.

It was not known what kind shark was involved in the attack on the parasailer.

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 02, 2021 5:49pm
 
Meghan Mccain Leaving The View

Whoopi Goldberg Got Emotional Talking About Meghan McCain's Departure From ‘The View’

Whoopi Goldberg Got Emotional Talking About Meghan McCain's Departure From ‘The View’
Whoopi Goldberg Got Emotional Talking About Meghan McCain's Departure From ‘The View’

At the top of Thursday’s episode of The View, Meghan McCain announced that she is leaving the show at the end of July. In her on-air announcement, she shared that it wasn’t an “easy decision” to make, but it is “the right decision for me,” revealing her plans to stay in Washington D.C. to raise her daughter with husband Ben Domenech.

Just hours before the show aired, a source exclusively told DailyMail that Meghan planned to announce her exit from the show, claiming that she had left her co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin and Sara Haines in the dark up until now. True or not, the whole panel appeared to be in good spirits on Thursday’s show.

[email protected] announces her departure from @TheView at the end of the show’s season, saying “this was not an easy decision.”

“I’m just eternally grateful to have had this opportunity here so, seriously, thank you from the absolute bottom of my heart.” https://t.co/ZiP1UTs2xu pic.twitter.com/eLuEAJ4KLT

— The View (@TheView) July 1, 2021

At one point, Meghan brought up how her dad, the late Senator John McCain, convinced her to do the show, telling her that she could “never give up an opportunity to work on such an iconic show and to work with Whoopi Goldberg.” Whoopi went on to share her perspective, saying that it was an honor that he put his trust in the women on this show. “He wanted you to be here with us because I think he thought we could help toughen you up for what was coming, which was this wonderful baby you were going to have and his departure. It was an honor when he said, ‘please take my child.’”

To that point, Sara reflected on how sweet this “full-circle moment” really is for Meghan and her family. “It’s a full-circle moment to know so much of your dad’s words brought you here and yet your calling for your daughter and your family is what takes you away. It’s beautiful.”

Sunny echoed her other co-hosts, revealing that the late senator also spoke to her when Meghan first joined the show four years ago. “He also told me to take it easy on Meghan and that I would learn to love her and understand her and that she would be a pain in the a-- and he was right about all of those things,” she laughed.

Over the course of the show, the two women have really leaned on one another, so much so that Sunny says they “talk every day after the show” and “text during the show.” “I’ll miss those conversations. I think you have a really important point of view and it’s just been wonderful.”

Leave it to Joy to tell it like it is. Joy and Meghan have famously disagreed on the show, often prompting fiery debates and fueling exit rumors. All the while, the two have continuously praised one another’s passions and smarts—and Thursday’s show was no exception. “I have to say, you and I have in common, as do all of us here, that we’re on a show where we stick our necks out, we take the blowback, we take a lot of hits on this show and we stick to our points of view. You have done that brilliantly for four years. I hope you can say that I did the same thing.” She later called her co-host a “formidable opponent,” confirming to Meghan and the viewers at home that she’s “no snowflake.”

Even though Meghan’s future on television remains unclear (to us, at least), Whoopi reminded Meghan that The View has given her a solid foundation that she can take with her wherever she goes. “When you leave here, you can take on anything because everything possible has been fired at you. So, when you leave here, you’re a better person, better woman, better mother, better friend.”

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 02, 2021 5:57pm
 
Federer Wimbledon 2021

Wimbledon 2021: Roger Federer cruises to classy victory against Richard Gasquet

Wimbledon 2021: Roger Federer cruises to classy victory against Richard Gasquet
Wimbledon 2021: Roger Federer cruises to classy victory against Richard Gasquet

Few things in tennis can feel quite so incongruous as a framed shot off Roger Federer’s racquet. Even in these twilight years, when his powers are waning and his right knee wails, the purity of his ball-striking was always supposed to be sacrosanct. It is tennis’s grace distilled: one fluid swish of the right arm, the soft punch of rubber against string, followed by the ball’s perfect spring forwards, like a prized racehorse released from its starting post. Federer’s timing has a way of reducing even sweat and toil to a regal art form.

Yet, midway through the first set of his second-round match against Richard Gasquet, the ball rattled the frame of his racquet with a clank that reverberated around Centre Court and elicited a collective gasp from the crowd. Such betrayals of timing might have been a common occurrence since his comeback, but not for an audience who still remember Federer in his divine and undimmed light. Throughout the first set, his rhythm laboured a fraction and he made 13 unforced errors. But while Federer is far from his old heights, the freedom he found in the second and third sets will breathe new life into adoring illusions. Even at 39 years old, the soul of so many triumphs lives on.

This routine straight-sets victory might not have been a perfect performance, but it was in many respects exactly what was required. The drama and tragedy of Federer’s first-round match against Adrian Mannarino, that could have quite possibly led to the 20-time grand slam champion’s exit until the Italian’s injury, was an exacting and at times unforgiving test. It is easy to forget that Federer has now still only played 11 tour-level matches this year and there is still plenty of ring rust to be shaken off. To that effect, Gasquet was the perfect sparring partner, having lost 18 of their 20 prior meetings, and the pair traded elegant single-handed backhands like whistling jabs. The uncharacteristic errors were exorcised, the stiff serves shaken out. When Federer needed to raise his level, he caught Gasquet cold, clinching the first-set tiebreak.

Soon afterwards, to the roaring approval of the crowd, the unquestionable quality that still lies beneath began to shine through. Federer moved across the court freely, used a serve-and-volley to fine effect, and hit exquisite groundstrokes off both sides, his power and precision far superior than anything Gasquet could muster. The second set was a near-exhibition, breaking the Frenchman’s serve twice and hitting 17 winners, each struck with the wonder of old, gliding across the court and scratching paint off the tramlines. For every drive volley where he leapt into the air at full-stretch there was a wicked slice or drop shot that he picked up off the grass. By the time he wrapped up victory, the errors had all but evaporated but the highlights remained a constant.

“It’s not the most important to feel your absolute best in the first and second round but what you really don’t want to do is go out because then you really have to look at everything and question yourself,” he said after wrapping up a 7-6 6-1 6-4 victory. “I’m in the third round, I’m really happy with my level right now. Today was special and I’m very happy with that.

“It’s been a difficult year and a half in many ways for me with the knee surgery and rehab and everything – the initial goal was to come back for Wimbledon last year and that was never going to happen.”

The level of competition will increase in the third round, where Federer will face Cameron Norrie. The pair’s last meeting was almost a whitewash, completed inside an hour, but the Briton now represents a far more imposing challenge and is riding a fantastic wave of momentum on grass. It is another style that will suit Federer perfectly, though, all long rallies with looping top spin, and will help to further smooth any chinks in his once impregnable armour on grass. It may be too late to recapture the physicality of his youth, but if his timing rings true like old, the next ten days could offer plenty of dreams yet.

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Fri, July 02, 2021 6:07pm
 
Tropical Storm Elsa

Tropical Storm Elsa threatens NC, SC coasts with winds and rain. Here’s the forecast

A map from the National Hurricane Center shows Tropical Storm Elsa’s location as of 8 a.m. Wednesday.
A map from the National Hurricane Center shows Tropical Storm Elsa’s location as of 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to lash the coastal Carolinas with heavy rain and strong winds starting Wednesday.

Elsa was located 35 miles West of Cedar Key, Florida, and 115 miles northwest of Tampa, Florida, as of 8 a.m. Wednesday. The storm was moving north at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. Tropical storm force winds — which range from 39 mph to 73 mph — extend up to 90 miles from Elsa’s center.

Tropical storm conditions could reach parts of the Carolinas starting Wednesday night, forecasters say.

The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm warning from the mouth of the St. Mary’s River in Georgia to the Little River Inlet in South Carolina, which is near the North Carolina border.

A tropical storm watch is in effect from Little River Inlet to Chincoteague, Virginia, covering coastal North Carolina.

The National Hurricane Center says a tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions are “expected somewhere within the warning area” and a tropical storm watch means tropical storm conditions are “possible within the watch area.”

Elsa’s winds are most likely to reach South Carolina late Wednesday or early Thursday and North Carolina on Thursday, the forecast shows.

The storm could dump between 2 and 4 inches of rain on South Carolina’s Lowcountry, with up to 6 inches possible in some areas. Coastal North Carolina could get between 1 and 3 inches with up to 5 inches possible in some areas Wednesday night through Thursday night.

The rain could result in flash and urban flooding, forecasters say.

The mouth of the St. Mary’s River to the South Santee River in South Carolina could see 1 to 2 feet of storm surge.

The eastern part of South Carolina could also see a “few tornadoes” Wednesday night, and the “threat should shift to the eastern Carolinas” on Thursday.

The National Weather Service’s Wilmington Office says a high risk of rip currents is also included among the tropical storm’s main threats to the coast.

As of Wednesday morning, there’s a high risk of rip currents along much of the South Carolina coast and parts of the North Carolina coast. Other areas are under a moderate risk of rip currents.

A high risk indicates “life threatening rip currents are likely” and that people should stay out of the water as the surf zone is “dangerous of all levels of swimmers.”

Forecasters have said “interests” elsewhere in the Carolinas should also monitor the storm’s progress.

“On the forecast track, Elsa will make landfall along the north Florida Gulf coast by late this morning or this afternoon,” the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday. “The storm should then move across the southeastern and mid-Atlantic United States through Thursday.”

Elsa reached hurricane strength Tuesday evening before weakening back to a tropical storm early Wednesday.

Forecasters say “little change in strength is likely” until Elsa makes landfall later Wednesday. The storm is then expected to weaken after it moves over land.

Elsa’s current path shows it remaining a tropical storm while over North and South Carolina.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and state emergency management officials said Tuesday that residents in Eastern and Central North Carolina should “be prepared for significant rains and possible flooding.”

“Small changes in the forecast track of a tropical system can mean big changes in storm impacts and rainfall amounts,” state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said in a release. “That’s why close attention to the forecast for your area is important.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and the state’s Emergency Management Division also encouraged residents on Tuesday to “finalize their storm preparations ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa.”

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, July 07, 2021 4:47pm
 
Peter R. de Vries

Peter R. de Vries, Dutch reporter 'tirelessly' chasing justice

Dutch reporter Peter R. de Vries rose to prominence for reporting on numerous crime cases, including the kidnapping of beer millionaire Freddy Heineken
Dutch reporter Peter R. de Vries rose to prominence for reporting on numerous crime cases, including the kidnapping of beer millionaire Freddy Heineken

Peter R. de Vries, a Dutch journalist hailed as a "national hero" Wednesday after being shot in a brazen assassination attempt, is known as a fearless fighter for justice who rose to fame for his reporting on the 1980s kidnapping of beer millionaire Freddy Heineken.

The 64-year-old was fighting for his life in a Dutch hospital after being gunned down in broad daylight on Tuesday in a busy Amsterdam street as he left a television studio.

De Vries, who grew up in a religious family in Amstelveen just outside the Dutch capital, first made a name as an intrepid crime reporter for De Telegraaf tabloid, writing about Heineken's kidnapping which made headlines around the world.

"He managed to break into the circle of trust of two of the kidnappers, Cor van Hout and Willem Holleeder," the Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad wrote.

In 1987 he wrote "The Kidnapping of Alfred Heineken", which describes the abduction from Van Hout's point of view.

Based on interviews with Van Hout and Holleeder, the book became a best-seller and one of the most prominent on shelves in homes in the Netherlands.

The 2015 movie "Kidnapping Freddy Heineken", starring Anthony Hopkins in the titular role, was based on his book.

In 1994, De Vries tracked down a third kidnapper Frans Meijer in Paraguay, where he was hiding and eventually extradited to the Netherlands in 2002.

- 'National hero' -

The celebrity journalist then moved into television, where he ran his own crime programme called "Peter R. de Vries, Crime Reporter".

His reporting led to the release of two brothers-in-law in 2002 who had been convicted for the brutal rape and murder of an air hostess in the central Dutch town of Putten. Police eventually arrested a new suspect in 2008 who was later sentenced to 15 years in jail.

De Vries shot to international renown in 2008 when he won an Emmy Award for his coverage of the disappearance of US citizen Natalee Holloway on the Caribbean island of Aruba.

The reporter had a special penchant for "cold-cases", including the indecent assault and murder of a young boy, Nicky Verstappen, in 1998.

He acted as the spokesman for the Verstappen family when a breakthrough was made in 2018, leading to a suspect being sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema praised the intrepid journalist on Tuesday evening.

"Peter R. de Vries is a national hero to all of us, a rare and brave journalist, tirelessly seeking justice, completely independent, and free-spirited," she told a press conference.

"He stands up for those in need, for the parents of a murdered child, for those who have been wrongly convicted."

- Target -

De Vries also often testified in court, including in a murder case against Heineken kidnapper Holleeder, accused of later murdering Van Hout in 2003, which some say may have put a target on the reporter's back.

During an especially heated sitting, Holleeder called De Vries a "filthy scammer".

And since last year De Vries has been acting as an advisor and confidante of Nabil. B, the main prosecution witness in the case against Ridouan Taghi, described as the Netherlands' most wanted criminal.

Prosecutors have described Taghi's organisation as a well-oiled killing machine.

De Vries himself tweeted in 2019 that he was informed by police and justice officials that he was on a hitlist, drawn up by Taghi.

Security around the case against Taghi is extra-tight after Nabil B's lawyer Derk Wiersum was gunned down in the street outside his house in 2019.

"Peter R. De Vries reports on cases, even if he himself is involved," the NRC newspaper wrote on Wednesday.

"He is a spokesman, journalist, opinion-former... all rolled into one."

"After years of reporting about the underworld, and being involved in court cases, he has now been shot," it added.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, July 07, 2021 4:59pm
 
Jimmy Uso

WWE reportedly upset with Jimmy Uso after DUI arrest

Jimmy Uso has been released from prison in Pensacola, Florida after his arrest on Monday

Jimmy Uso has been released from prison in Pensacola, Florida after his arrest on Monday. Jonathan Solofa Fatu of Cantonment, whose ring name is Jimmy Uso, secured his release from the Escambia County Jail on a $500 bond after he was arrested on a DUI charge.

Fatu was booked by the police at I Street for reportedly exceeding the speed limit and failed the sobriety test. His alcohol level was reportedly more than double the legal limit.

Police say Uso’s BAC breath tests came back at .202 and .205, well above the legal limit of .08 in the state of Florida.

However, according to Wrestle Votes, WWE officials are not happy about this situation at all. "I’ve spoken to two sources this morning on the Jimmy Uso news. I can say with certainty that a few “high level people in power” are extremely disappointed & legitimately pissed off over the arrest. This many times isn’t a mistake or bad luck. It’s personal judgment. Not good."

Fatu was previously arrested for DUI by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office in July 2019. He was later found not guilty of DUI after the 2019 arrest.

Neither Uso nor WWE have officially released a statement on the situation. Uso is currently featured on SmackDown in the main storyline with WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. There is no word yet on how this will impact his status with the company.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, July 07, 2021 5:37pm
 
Jacob Zuma

South Africa's Jacob Zuma: From freedom fighter to president to jail

Jacob Zuma has achieved political ignominy as the first former president of South Africa to be sent to prison
Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma has achieved political ignominy as the first former president of South Africa to be sent to prison.

His life as a free man - who enjoyed the perks of a former president - ended just before midnight local time, when in a dramatic scene he was escorted by a convoy of vehicles from his home in rural Nkandla to a prison in the small town of Estcourt.

His son, Edward Zuma, had warned that there would be "blood on the floor" if he was arrested, but in the end there was none.

The 79-year-old surrendered, knowing that he could not resist the might of the state, leaving behind his son who had earlier stood by the gate of their home with a stick.

Zuma was once a celebrated political figure.

He was imprisoned for 10 years in 1963 for fighting the racist system of apartheid in South Africa, then went into exile in 1975 to become the spymaster of the African National Congress (ANC), before returning to South Africa triumphantly in 1990, and rising to the presidency in 2009, though by then his reputation had been stained by a deluge of corruption allegations.

Humble roots

He had also been charged with raping a family friend, but was acquitted in 2006 in a trial that deeply polarised the ANC, the former liberation movement which became the governing party in 1994 and of which Zuma has been a member since the age of 17.

Now, he has been imprisoned for being in contempt of a court made up of South Africa's most senior judges - those who are the guardians of the democracy he fought for most of his life.

Earlier this month, the judges of the Constitutional Court sentenced him to 15 months in prison for ignoring an order to appear before an official inquiry investigating the corruption allegations he faced during his nine-year presidency - especially his relationship with the notorious Gupta brothers who fled South Africa in 2018 as the legal noose closed in on them.

They have all denied the allegations, and Zuma insists that his political enemies are using the courts to target him.

Having fought racial oppression in South Africa at the height of the Cold War between the US and the now-defunct Soviet Union, Zuma is still steeped in this mentality, casting himself as the victim of a political conspiracy hatched in Western capitals - and their "puppets" in South Africa - to thwart his attempts at ending the economic power of white people in the country.

For his critics, the former freedom fighter from a poor rural family became intoxicated by power once the liberation struggle was won and - along with his new business friends - looted the state's wealth on a grand scale.

Where the truth lies is yet to be established but it is a tribute to South Africa's 27-year-democracy that a former freedom fighter and president has been imprisoned for tying to evade accountability over his time in office.

It shows that South Africa's democratic institutions - often battered by politicians - remain strong, and judges, policemen and government officials are still prepared to uphold the rule of law by jailing a man whom some of them personally know and with whom they were once in the trenches of the liberation struggle.

Most high-profile prisoner

Moreover, judges have been scrupulously fair towards Zuma, giving him a hearing at every opportunity as he waged in the courts what became known as the Stalingrad strategy - fighting point-by-point every attempt to put him on trial for his alleged high crimes.

On Friday, a judge will rule on whether or not to revoke his arrest, and on Monday the highest court of the land will hear his request to overturn his conviction for contempt.

This is unprecedented in South Africa, and the months ahead are likely to be more dramatic as Zuma is tried, in a separate case, on charges of corruption related to a $5bn (£3bn) arms deal in the 1990s.

He is facing more than 15 counts of racketeering, corruption, fraud, tax evasion and money laundering - charges to which he pleaded not guilty during a court appearance in May.

With Zuma fighting legal battles on various fronts, the big question is: Will he ultimately win and walk free, or will he gain even more notoriety as South Africa's most high-profile prisoner?

Zuma's legal woes:
2005: Charged with raping family friend - acquitted in 2006

2005: Charged with corruption over multi-billion dollar 1999 arms deal - charges dropped shortly before he becomes president in 2009

2016: Court orders he should be charged with 18 counts of corruption over the deal - he appealed, but in 2017 lost a bid to overturn them

2016: Court rules he breached his oath of office by using government money to upgrade private home in Nkandla - he has repaid the money

2017: Public protector said he should appoint judge-led inquiry into allegations he profiteered from relationship with wealthy Gupta family - he denies allegations, as have the Guptas

2018: Zuma approves inquiry into claims of state looting

2018: The National Prosecuting Authority confirms Mr Zuma will face prosecution for 12 charges of fraud, one of racketeering, two of corruption, and one of money laundering, relating to the arms deal, which he denies

2021: Begins a 15-month jail sentence after the Constitutional Court orders his arrest for refusing to testify at the commission into state looting

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 08, 2021 3:06pm
 
Haitian President

Who killed Haitian President Jovenel Moïse? The list of suspects is 'like an Agatha Christie novel.'

Haitian president's assassination Valerie Baeriswyl/AFP/Getty Images
Haitian president's assassination

Haiti's National Police director Léon Charles said Wednesday night his officers killed four suspects in the early morning assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and captured two others. The alleged assassins have not been identified, but Charles and other Haitian officials have described them as "foreigners," "mercenaries," and "a highly trained and heavily armed group" speaking English and Spanish in the French-speaking nation and posing as U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price dismissed the DEA ruse reports as "absolutely false" and said the Biden administration stands ready to help Haiti uncover a motive for Moïse's assassination and investigate who was behind the brazen attack at his private residence.

Moïse, 53, dissolved parliament in January 2020 and had been ruling by decree for 18 months. His unilateral governance made him unpopular as gangs brazenly terrorized neighborhoods in violent turf wars and inflation and high unemployment exacerbated poverty in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation.

"He had obviously many enemies," Robert Fatton, a politics professor and Haiti expert at the University of Virginia, tells The Washington Post. "There might have been some degree of complicity on the part of those protecting the president." There is a very long list of suspects, a leading Haitian businessman told The Wall Street Journal. "This is like an Agatha Christie novel."

In the meantime, it isn't clear who is or should be in charge in Haiti. Claude Joseph, the prime minister Moïse tried to fire on Monday, says he is running Haiti under emergency powers with help from the police and military. Arial Henry, the neurosurgeon Moïse named prime minister on Monday but had not sworn in before his death, told The Associated Press on Wednesday it's a "confusing" and "exceptional situation" but "I am the prime minister in office." According to Haiti's constitution, the president of Haiti's Supreme Court should have assumed the presidency after Moïse's death, but the chief justice recently died of COVID-19.

"So far this looks like an execution and not a coup d'état," says Jean-Max Bellerive, a former Haitian prime minister. "But it could start looking like a coup d'état if the interim prime minister starts taking charge of everything without trying to achieve consensus."

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 08, 2021 3:22pm
 
Microsoft Update

Users must update PCs ‘as soon as possible’ as Windows left vulnerable to massive flaw, Microsoft says

Earlier this year the company said that it had found vulnerabilities in its Exchange Server tools, which is used to run email and calendars for many large companies (Getty)
Earlier this year the company said that it had found vulnerabilities in its Exchange Server tools, which is used to run email and calendars for many large companies

Microsoft has announced an emergency update to Windows 10 in order to patch a serious vulnerability in the operating system.

The PrintNightmare flaw, also identified as CVE-2021-34527, affects all versions of Windows, and targets Windows Print Spooler service, a process that manages access to printers from multiple users. It was revealed after researchers at cybersecurity firm Sangfor accidentally published guidance for exploiting the flaw.

The researchers had tweeted in May that they had found the vulnerability, but accidentally made the proof-of-concept available online. Although they quickly deleted it, it was shared elsewhere including on Microsoft-owned GitHub.

Hackers could use the loophole to install programs, view and delete data, and create new user accounts with administrator access. Microsoft has had to issue patches for Windows Server, Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and even Windows 7.

“We recommend you update your devices as soon as possible. The update is available on all release channels including Windows Update, Microsoft Update Catalog and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS)”, Microsoft wrote in a post about the issue.

Microsoft has not yet introduced a patch for Windows 11, although preview builds are currently available for the company’s upcoming operating system. The company says the new OS will be more secure than Windows 11, but many could have to buy entirely new systems to run it.

This is the latest in a series of security concerns for Windows this year. In March, Microsoft said that it had found major vulnerabilities in its Exchange Server tools, which is used to run email and calendars for many large companies.

Less than two weeks later a problem with the Adobe Type Manager Library, which collects fonts together, caused by a particular font meant the operating system could be taken over by hackers.

The threat was low in Windows 10 because Microsoft had added protections in that version of the operating system, but the bug was classed as “critical" – the highest-possible level of alert

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 08, 2021 3:48pm
 
Marton Fucsovics

Novak Djokovic eases past Marton Fucsovics to reach 10th Wimbledon semi-final

Fucsovics fought back from 5-0 down in the opening set with three successive games (Adam Davy/PA)
Fucsovics fought back from 5-0 down in the opening set with three successive games

Novak Djokovic marched into his 10th Wimbledon semi-final after a straight-sets win over Marton Fucsovics on Centre Court.

The five-time champion, looking to claim a record-equalling 20th grand slam title this weekend, swept aside unseeded Fucsovics 6-3 6-4 6-4.

It was not the most convincing display from the world number one but, as has been the case throughout these Championships so far, it did not really have to be.

Djokovic has still only dropped one set, against Britain’s Jack Draper in the first round, and he remains firmly on course to become only the fourth man to win three consecutive Wimbledon titles alongside Roger Federer, Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras.

Things looked ominous for Fucsovics when Djokovic raced into a 5-0 lead and brought up two set points inside the first 25 minutes.

But the underdog fended those off to finally get a game on the board and, amid plenty of encouragement from the crowd, managed to break in the next, only the fourth time Djokovic had dropped serve in the entire tournament.

Fucsovics, the first Hungarian man to reach the last eight of a grand slam in 40 years, has a similar playing style to Djokovic and easily matches up with the Serbian on the fitness front.

Having surrendered the first set, the 29-year-old stayed with Djokovic until 4-4 in the second when one of too many forehand errors gave away a break point which the top seed devoured.

A backhand return winner brought Djokovic another break at the start of the third and he fended off four break points among some punishing rallies to wrap up another routine win.

“I think it was a solid performance,” he said. “I started extremely well, did not do too many things wrong in the first five or six games.

“One break of serve in the second and third sets was enough and credit to Marton for hanging in there. He had a great tournament.

“Going for history is a huge inspiration to me – let’s keep it going.”

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 08, 2021 3:57pm
 
Taylor County Florida

1 dead as Tropical Storm Elsa moves into South Carolina

Tropical Storm Elsa making landfall in Taylor County, Florida. Mark Wallheiser/Getty
Tropical Storm Elsa making landfall in Taylor County, Florida.

As of 5 a.m. ET Thursday, Tropical Storm Elsa was near Blackville, South Carolina, a town near the state's border with Georgia, the National Hurricane Center said.

It was also weakening as it moves inland, currently carrying maximum sustained winds of about 40 mph, the NHC said. Before it made landfall, the storm was carrying winds of 65 mph.

Elsa is forecasted to move over South Carolina and North Carolina on Thursday, pass near eastern mid-Atlantic states by Thursday night, and move near or over the northeastern US on Friday and Friday night before crossing over to Canada, the NHC said.

As of 5 a.m. the storm was moving northeastward at a speed of about 18 mph, the NHC said, though it expects the speed to increase in the coming days.

The storm made landfall in Taylor County, along Florida's northern Gulf Coast, around 11 a.m. ET Wednesday.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for large parts of the US East Coast, including the area from Little River Inlet, South Carolina, to Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and the area from New Haven, Connecticut, to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts.

That area includes the popular holiday destinations of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket.

Elsa is also expected to bring heavy winds and rain, including up to 8 inches of rain across parts of South Carolina on Thursday.

The NHC also warned that "a few tornadoes are possible" across the eastern Carolinas and southeast Virginia through Thursday afternoon.

The storm has killed one person in Florida and injured ten in Georgia.

One person was killed in Jacksonville, Florida, on Wednesday when a tree fell during heavy rains and struck two cars, the Associated Press reported, citing authorities. No one else was injured.

Also on Wednesday, about ten people were injured and hospitalized after an apparent tornado hit an RV park at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Camden County, Georgia, on Wednesday, the base said in a statement.

The extent of their injuries was not clear.

Elsa had killed three people in the Dominican Republic and St. Lucia earlier this week.

The National Hurricane Center warned that a combination of storm surge and high tide could cause normally dry areas near the coast to see flooding.

The water could reach heights of up to 4 feet between Longboat Key to Suwannee River, Florida, including Tampa Bay. Parts of Georgia could see up to 2 feet of flooding.

A storm surge warning remains in effect for the west coast of Florida, from the Suwannee River to the Aucilla River.

The NHC also reported that a few tornadoes are possible across northern Florida and southeastern Georgia into eastern South Carolina through Wednesday night.

Video from Tampa early on Wednesday showed dead fish and other debris washed up on a sidewalk after heavy rains on Tuesday night.

Kemp issued a state of emergency for 92 counties in middle, south, and southeast Georgia on Tuesday night in preparation for Tropical Storm Elsa's anticipated Wednesday morning landfall.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also warned residents to prepare for the impending storm and its aftermath.

"We ask Floridians to please begin their preparations that include to potentially be prepared to potentially be without power for a few days," Nuñez said at a press conference.

Nearly 15,000 Florida residents in Taylor County and the six surrounding counties were without power as of Wednesday afternoon.

Both Nuñez and DeSantis urged Floridians throughout the state to take precautions.

"Be prepared to be without power for a few days and having enough food and water for each person in their family, including for your pets," DeSantis said, according to CBS Miami.

On Monday, DeSantis reminded residents that if they plan to use a backup generator in case of a power outage, they must safely vent exhaust fumes outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Elsa killed at least three people in the Dominican Republic and St. Lucia.

The tropical storm hit Cuba and other Caribbean islands over the weekend and on Monday.

Weather from Elsa's approach scuttled search-and-rescue efforts at the collapsed Champlain Towers South condominium near Miami.

Workers recovered 10 additional bodies from the rubble of the collapsed Florida condo tower, bringing the total number of known deaths to 46 as of Wednesday. About 109 people are still missing.

Although currently a tropical storm (meaning its sustained wind speeds are slower than 74 mph), Elsa was briefly classified as a Category 1 hurricane.

Forecasters classified Elsa as a Category 1 hurricane on Friday, then it weaken to be a tropical storm on Saturday. It then regained hurricane status on Tuesday, then weakened once more, becoming a tropical storm around 2 a.m. local time Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Elsa is the fifth named storm of 2021. It's the earliest in the season that the fifth name storm has ever formed.

Hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic are getting stronger, on average, as the climate crisis causes ocean and air temperatures to climb. The chances of a tropical storm becoming a major hurricane have increased by 8% every decade for the past 40 years.

The 2020 hurricane season shattered records with a total of 30 named storms. That year tied 2016 as the hottest ever on record.

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Thu, July 08, 2021 5:08pm
 
Mma News

Conor McGregor Loses Fight Against Dustin Poirier After Suffering Leg Injury During First Round

Conor McGregor of Ireland kicks Dustin Poirier in their welterweight fight during the UFC 264 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Conor McGregor of Ireland kicks Dustin Poirier in their welterweight fight during the UFC 264 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Conor McGregor has racked up another loss to Dustin Poirier.

During the first round of Saturday night's highly-anticipated UFC 264 fight, the Irish MMA pro, 32, injured his leg, leaving him unable to get off the mat before time expired, according to ESPN. After the fight, UFC President Dana White said that McGregor had injured the lower tibia in his left shin.

Poirier, 32, won by TKO and McGregor was transported out of the arena on a stretcher.

"It sucks. It's brutal. It's not the way you want to see fights end," White said while speaking to reporters at a press conference, adding that McGregor would go into surgery on Sunday.

"His ankle snapped from throwing punches. He was fighting back," White added. "It wasn't like he was up against the cage defenseless...if his ankle doesn't break, I think we get to the end of the round."

White added that another rematch between the pair is likely.

"The fight didn't get finished. You can't have a fight finish that way. We'll see how this whole thing plays out," he said. "Who knows how long Connor's out. Poirier will do his thing until Connor's ready."

As for the cause of his injury, Poirier said that he hurt McGregor's ankle on a checked kick, although the Irish fighter denied this, ESPN reported.

"He fractured it on one of the checks at the beginning of the fight, then it broke on a punch, for sure," Poirier said during his post-game interview. "I pointed at him at the beginning of the fight, that's when I checked a kick, that's when it cracked. It was probably cracked and then something twisted with the punch."

Both fighters are also determined to face each other once again.

"This is not over!" McGregor said after the match, while Poirer remarked, "we are going to fight again."

Back in January, McGregor suffered a second-round knockout loss to Poirier at UFC 257.

Following his defeat, the fighter shared a post on Instagram, saying he was looking forward to redemption in a future match. "Thanks for the support everyone! Was not my night/morning in there but a great contest to improve on. I'm excited at the blockbuster trilogy I now have on my hands," he wrote. "Dustin is a hell of a competitor and I look forward to going again."

They also faced off in 2014, with McGregor knocking out Poirier in under two minutes.

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Posted by Temmy
Sun, July 11, 2021 5:26pm
 
Branson Space Flight

Richard Branson successfully completes flight to space with Virgin Galactic

Richard Branson has successfully touched the edge of space on board a Virgin Galactic flight

Richard Branson has successfully touched the edge of space on board a Virgin Galactic flight.

The Virgin boss was carried on board his company’s space plane in its first fully crewed test.

As well as representing a success – and major publicity coup – for the company, it also meant that Mr Branson beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos to space. The Amazon founder will make a similar journey on 20 July, on board one of his own Blue Origin spacecraft.

Blue Origin has argued that Mr Branson’s trip does not really count as a trip to space, since he did not cross the Kármán line that generally defined the boundary of space. Mr Branson and Virgin Galactic’s space plane Unity reached a maximum height of about 280,000 feet, before gliding back down to Earth.

“Seventeen years of hard work to get us this far,” a jubilant Mr Branson said as he congratulated his team on the trip back.

Branson became the first person to blast off in his own spaceship, beating Bezos by nine days. He also became only the second septuagenarian to depart for space. (John Glenn flew on the shuttle at age 77 in 1998.)

With about 500 people watching, including Mr Branson's wife, children and grandchildren, a twin-fuselage aircraft with his space plane attached underneath took off in the first stage of the flight.

The space plane then detached from the mother ship at an altitude of about 8 1/2 miles and fired its engine, reaching the edge of space. The entire flight up and back aboard the sleek white ship, named Unity, took just under 15 minutes.

Virgin Galactic conducted three previous test flights into space with crews of just two or three.

The flamboyant, London-born founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways wasn't supposed to fly until later this summer. But he assigned himself to an earlier flight after Mr Bezos announced plans to ride his own rocket into space from Texas on July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Mr Branson, who has kite-surfed the English Channel and attempted to circle the world in a hot-air balloon, denied he was trying to beat Bezos.

Another one of Mr Branson's chief rivals in the space-tourism race among the world's richest men, SpaceX's Elon Musk, arrived in New Mexico to witness the flight, wishing Mr Branson via Twitter, “Godspeed!”

Mr Bezos likewise sent his wishes for a safe and successful flight, though he also took to Twitter to enumerate the ways in which be believes his company's rides will be better.

Mr Bezos' Blue Origin company intends to send tourists past the so-called Karman line 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth, which is is recognized by international aviation and aerospace federations as the threshold of space.

But Nasa, the Air Force, the Federal Aviation Administration and some astrophysicists consider the boundary between the atmosphere and space to begin 50 miles (80 kilometers) up.

The risks to Branson and his crew were underscored in 2007, when a rocket motor test in California's Mojave Desert left three workers dead, and in 2014, when a Virgin Galactic rocket plane broke apart during a test flight, killing one pilot and seriously injuring the other.

Ever the showman, Branson insisted on a global livestream of the Sunday morning flight and invited celebrities and former space station astronauts to the company's Spaceport America base in New Mexico.

R&B singer Khalid was on hand to perform his new single “New Normal” — a nod to the dawning of space tourism — while CBS “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert served as the event's master of ceremonies.

Virgin Galactic already has more than 600 reservations from would-be space tourists, with tickets initially costing $250,000 apiece. Blue Origin is waiting for Mr Bezos' flight before announcing its ticket prices.

Musk's SpaceX, which is already launching astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA and is building moon and Mars ships, is also competing for space tourism dollars. But its capsules will do more than make brief, up-and-down forays; they will go into orbit around the Earth, with seats costing well into the millions. Its first private flight is set for September.

Musk himself has not committed to going into space anytime soon.

“It's a whole new horizon out there, new opportunities, new destinations,” said former Nasa astronaut Chris Ferguson, who commanded the last shuttle flight 10 years ago. He now works for Boeing, which is test-flying its own space capsule.

“This is really sort of like the advent of commercial air travel, only 100 years later,” Mr Ferguson added. “There's a lot waiting in the wings.”

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Sun, July 11, 2021 5:41pm
 
Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi’s Argentina Team Breaks 28-Year Major Trophy Drought, Beats Brazil 1-0

Argentina team beat Brazil 1-0 at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium

Lionel Messi has finally broken through.

His Argentina team beat Brazil 1-0 at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium on Sunday at the Copa America, the South American Football Championship. It’s the main tournament contested among national teams from South America and the oldest still-running international soccer competition.

Messi had experienced four losses in the finals, and had even retired from the national team at one point. Thus, the victory was sweet redemption for the soccer superstar.

“I needed to remove from myself the thorn of achieving something with the national team,” Messi said after celebrating with his teammates. Messi had kneeled on the pitch and covered his face with his hands at the final whistle.

Messi scored four goals and five assists during the tournament. The team captain also broke the team’s record for international appearances with 151 matches.

The title also put an end to Argentina’s 28-years without a major trophy.

After he lifted the Copa America trophy, Messi spoke to his family on the phone. He flicked the golden medal around his neck and shouted, “I won, I won!”

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Sun, July 11, 2021 5:52pm
 
Donald Trump

Donald Trump Jr says he 'understands addiction' before attacking former drug addict Hunter Biden in CPAC speech

Donald Trump Jr talking at CPAC conference C-Span
Donald Trump Jr talking at CPAC conference C-Span

Donald Trump Jr has taken the stage at CPAC - America's largest Conservative conference - to call Hunter Biden a "total waste" and accused him of "selling access to the highest levels of government".

The former president's son suggested that Hunter Biden, second son of President Joe Biden, got an easy ride from the mainstream media over his former struggles with drug addiction.

"What do you think the media reaction would be to Don Jr smoking parmesan cheese? I promise you it wouldn't be what you see from the mainstream media. And then they say, 'oh you're making fun of people with addictions,'" Trump Jr said.

"Let's just talk about this for a second. I totally understand addiction. It is terrible. We all know people who have suffered from it. It does not exempt you from being a total waste in every other aspect of your life. This does not exempt you from selling access to the highest levels of government. This does not exempt you from selling your country." added the Conservative.

Conservative groups and figures, including Donald Trump Jr and his father, have repeatedly alleged that Hunter Biden used his father's influence to support his business dealings. The White House has denied any such conversations ever occurred.

Hunter Biden has been upfront with his past, with his recently published memoir detailing his years of addiction to alcohol and crack cocaine, exacerbated by the grief caused by the death of his brother.

President Biden has also openly acknowledged his son's complicated past. In a Presidential debate with President Trump in September 2020, he said: "My son, like a lot of people, like a lot of people you know at home, had a drug problem. He's overtaken it, he's fixed it, he's worked on it, and I'm proud of him."

Trump Jr has used the CPAC to claim that the world is "going to hell" under the Biden administration, and that "Fauci is better at pitching baseballs than he is at science.'

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Sun, July 11, 2021 5:58pm
 
Barkevious Mingo

Barkevious Mingo arrested for alleged 'indecency with a child'; Falcons terminate linebacker's contract

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Barkevious Mingo was arrested Thursday and accused of sexual contact with a child
Barkevious Mingo

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Barkevious Mingo was arrested Thursday and accused of sexual contact with a child, according to the Arlington (Texas) Police Department.

Mingo posted a $25,000 bond and was released from custody, according to Tarrant County, Texas, bond records.

The alleged offense is a felony in Texas that can carry up to 20 years in prison depending on whether it's a second or third-degree charge.

Mingo turned himself in after talking to his attorney, an Arlington Police press release stated.

Due to the nature of the alleged incident, the Arlington Police Department could not release any more information.

Arlington police released this information about Falcons defensive end Barkevious Mingo, who was arrested today on one count of Indecency with a Child - Sexual Contact.

"Our organization became aware of the allegations involving Barkevious Mingo today and are currently gathering information on this incident," the Falcons said in a statement to multiple outlets Saturday. "The Falcons take the allegations very seriously and will continue to monitor the situation."

The Falcons announced they had released Mingo late Saturday night.

"After being made aware today of allegations involving Barkevious Mingo and gathering information on the matter, the Atlanta Falcons have terminated his contract," the team said in a statement.

Mingo signed a one-year contract with the Falcons in March. A 2013 first-round pick by the Cleveland Browns, the linebacker has played for five teams after being traded to the New England Patriots in 2016.

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Sun, July 11, 2021 6:07pm
 
Joe Biden

Tackling student debt may have just gotten easier as 4 more advocates join Biden's ranks

Tackling student debt may have just gotten easier as 4 more advocates join Biden's ranks
Tackling student debt may have just gotten easier as 4 more advocates join Biden's ranks

President Joe Biden may not have yet canceled student debt for every borrower, but new hires to his administration suggest the crisis could be inching up on his agenda.

On Monday, the Education Department announced five new hires to the Federal Student Aid (FSA) office, four of which were former employees at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Sartaj Alag, Bonnie Latreille, Kristen Donoghue, and Stephanie Richo all previously served at the CFPB, which was founded by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the leading lawmaker on cancelling student debt.

"We have important work ahead of us on behalf of students, parents, and borrowers, and we are pleased to have these experienced, dedicated public servants here at Federal Student Aid," Richard Cordray, FSA director and former CFPB head, said in a statement.

Over the past months, Biden's administration has continued to hire experts who have fought alongside Warren in protecting borrowers and holding student-loan servicers accountable. Cordray, for example, has been a longtime ally of Warren's and has shared much of her agenda throughout his career.

Last week, Insider reported that Toby Merrill was hired as the Education Department's Deputy General Counsel. Merrill, along with Eileen Connor and Deanne Loonin from the Project of Predatory Student Lending, wrote a letter to Warren in 2020 affirming her legal ability to cancel student debt using executive action - something Warren is now pushing Biden to do.

The new hires announced on Monday will likely help further Warren's agenda. Alag, who will serve as Principal Deputy Chief Operating Officer at FSA, served as the CFPB's chief operating officer in 2018, and upon stepping down, Warren told Morning Consult in an email that his "vision and leadership" helped CFPB establish its consumer hotline, which helped process millions of complaints.

"He helped build a strong consumer agency that stands up for millions of American families," Warren said.

And Latreille, who was formerly CFPB's student loans ombudsman and later joined the Student Borrower Protection Center, which was founded by CFPB members to protect student-loan borrowers, is now serving as the third ombudsman in FSA's history.

After President Donald Trump selected Mick Mulvaney to lead the CFPB, Latreille joined a few others in leaving the agency to form the Student Borrower Protection Center because its director, Seth Frotman, said at the time that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Mulvaney had turned their backs on "millions of borrowers drowning in student-loan debt."

Donoghue's ties to the CFPB go all the way back to its founding in 2013 - she was one of the bureau's original employees and worked alongside Warren during its creation.

Also included in Monday's new hires is Colleen McGinnis, who has worked in public service for over 20 years and will serve as FSA's chief of staff.

While the new hires have not commented on large-scale student-debt cancellation, Warren continues to push for Biden to cancel $50,000 in debt per borrower and extend the pandemic freeze on student-loan payments in the meantime.

"About 40% of people with student loan debt weren't able to finish their degrees-so now they're stuck trying to pay college-graduate-sized bills on high-school-diploma-sized salaries," Warren wrote on Twitter. "We're fighting to #CancelStudentDebt because people need relief."

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Mon, July 12, 2021 5:55pm
 
Paul Orndorff

Wrestling Legend Paul Orndorff Jr., Known as 'Mr. Wonderful,' Dead at 71

Paul Orndorff Jr., better known as WWE Hall of Famer
Paul Orndorff Jr.

Paul Orndorff Jr., better known as WWE Hall of Famer "Mr. Wonderful," has died. He was 71.

Orndorff's son, Travis Orndorff, announced the news of his father's death on Instagram Monday.

"It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my father, Paul Parlette Orndorff Jr. . He is better known as 'Mr. #1derful' Paul Orndorff," Travis captioned an image of himself hugging his dad.

He continued, "Most of you will remember him for his physique. Many will remember his intensity. But if I could only get you to understand and see his heart. He will always be Pop, Paw Paw, and Daddy at home. And as much as many of you hated him as a wrestler, he absolutely loved you for it. He was an amazing father that showed me more love than I ever deserved. I love you Daddy."

Orndorff joined the World Wrestling Federation, the predecessor to the WWE, in 1983. He made his debut in the ring in 1984 with a win over Salvatore Bellomo at Madison Square Garden, quickly launching into the wrestling spotlight.

In 1985, Orndorff joined Roddy Piper to go up again World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan and Mr. T for the main event of the first WrestleMania.

Orndorff transitioned to World Championship Wrestling in the early 1990s, where he scored his first major championship win, defeating Erik Watts to become Television Champion. In 1994, he became a two-time WCW Tag Team champion with Paul Roma.

The wrestling legend was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2009, he became part of the National Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame.

On Monday, several other former wrestlers shared tributes to Orndorff on social media, including his once-rival Hogan.

Just got slammed with the Paul Orndorff news, RIP my brother,love you and thank you for always making me fight for everything in our matches, heaven just got even more Wonderful, love wrote Hogan.

Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, known as The Iron Sheik, also honored his "brother," writing: "You were the toughest."

"We train together. We ride together. You were excellent Bubba. I am so sad I love you forever rest in peace."

Along with the announcement of his father's death, Travis and his wife set up a GoFundMe campaign for Orndorff Monday to raise funds for his funeral expenses. Along with their donations, fans began sharing photos and memories of the wrestler on the page.

"Thank you for a childhood of entertainment," one fan wrote. "You were a true champion."

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Tue, July 13, 2021 6:24pm
 
Londre Sylvester

Rapper gunned down outside Chicago jail, shot 64 times

A Chicago rapper died after suffering as many as 64 bullet wounds to his head and other parts of his body in what police are calling an ambush shooting just as he was released from jail. Cook County Jail
A Chicago rapper died after suffering as many as 64 bullet wounds to his head and other parts of his body in what police are calling an ambush shooting just as he was released from jail.

A Chicago rapper was gunned down in a hail of bullets moments after he walked out of jail and had been fitted for an ankle bracelet, reports said.

When 31-year-old Londre Sylvester left Cook County Jail just before 9 p.m. Saturday, gunmen got out of two parked cars and shot him 64 times, according to a police report obtained by the Chicago Tribune.

Two women were also injured in the ambush — a 60-year old woman who’d just posted Sylvester’s bond and a 35-year-old woman who worked at the jail, CWBChicago said.

Sylvester rapped locally as KTS Dre and had tattooed KTS on his neck alongside a target sign, the report stated. KTS stands for “Kill to Survive,” the outlet said.

Sylvester had “just been released” from custody and fitted with an electronic monitoring device as part of his bail, the police report stated.

The rapper had been jailed for violating the conditions of his release on a 2020 gun charge, the Tribune said. He posted $5,000 bail Friday, the newspaper said.

Cook County Jail in Chicago, from which Sylvester was released before his death. REUTERS
Cook County Jail in Chicago, from which Sylvester was released before his death.

Sylvester and the 60-year-old woman were walking to a waiting car Saturday when they were ambushed, CWBChicago said. He was hit in the face and chest and the woman was struck in her knee. The other woman was grazed by a bullet, the report said.

Sylvester was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to reports.

The shooters fled in their vehicles in different directions and police are seeking surveillance footage of the area, reports said.

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Tue, July 13, 2021 6:38pm
 
River Fire California

Aggressive River fire burns structures near Yosemite; Sugar fire tops 90,000 acres

The Sugar fire burns near Doyle, Calif., on Monday. It was 26% contained by late afternoon. (Neal Waters / Getty Images)
The Sugar fire burns near Doyle, Calif., on Monday. It was 26% contained by late afternoon.

The fast-moving River fire near Yosemite National Park exploded to more than 9,500 acres Tuesday as firefighters tried to protect communities in the area.

Officials said at least four structures and four outbuildings have been destroyed and 600 others are threatened.

The River fire, which broke out about 20 miles southwest of Yosemite on Sunday afternoon, swelled to 2,500 acres in just a few hours and had spread to 8,000 acres by Monday evening, officials with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

"The fire more than doubled in size since Sunday, so there's a lot of activity going on," said Chief Nathan Trauernicht with the UC Davis Fire Department, which deployed firefighters to assist Cal Fire with the blaze.

More than 1,200 firefighters and support personnel were battling the fire from the ground and the air Tuesday, Cal Fire spokesperson Jaime Williams said.

The fire was 15% contained, Williams said.

Firefighters are up against dangerous conditions, including soaring temperatures, low humidity and frequent spot fires, officials said. The National Weather Service on Tuesday issued a heat advisory for portions of Mariposa County, where temperatures could climb as high as 108 degrees.

"We've had very dangerous heat that the firefighters have been working in," Williams said. "Things still remain very dry and very critical."

While wind and topography are contributing to the fire's spread, Trauernicht said the drought is a major driving factor.

"We haven't seen drought and fuel moistures like this in a long time," he said. "It creates a really dangerous situation, not just for the community, but obviously for firefighters who are trying to help."

Mandatory evacuation orders and warnings were issued in parts of Madera and Mariposa counties.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Cal Fire said.

North of the River fire, the lightning-induced Beckwourth Complex fire, which includes the massive Sugar fire, ballooned to 92,394 acres Tuesday morning and was 46% contained, Plumas National Forest officials said.

The Sugar fire ignited July 2 and is now the state’s largest fire of the year. It could become the first 100,000-acre megafire of the season.

Homes were reported destroyed in multiple communities, and video posted to social media showed houses ablaze in Doyle. A damage assessment team is working on a tally of the structures lost.

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Tue, July 13, 2021 6:51pm
 
Covid Delta Variant

What Are The Symptoms Of The Delta Variant Of COVID-19?

The delta variant is quickly becoming the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the U.S

The delta variant is quickly becoming the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the U.S. In fact, the variant is moving across the nation at such a rapid pace, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that it makes up roughly 80% of COVID cases in areas of the Midwest and upper mountain states, and 51.7% of all new COVID cases in the U.S. over the last month, according to the Washington Post.

But despite the fact that the delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading so quickly throughout the U.S., it remains a fairly new threat. As a result, people have a lot of questions about it, including: How can I know if I have the delta variant of COVID-19? Are the delta variant symptoms any different?

A regular COVID-19 test may not tell you which specific variant is afflicting you. And while it’s possible that your symptoms may offer a clue, any differences would be minor, William Schaffner, MD, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, tells Refinery29. “The illness is pretty much the same, but there are nuances [of the delta variant] which are being discussed,” Dr. Schaffner explains. “Symptoms being discussed from the delta variant is that it causes less disruption of taste and smell. The other thing I’ve seen discussed is whether this illness has more or less diarrhea associated with it.”

But Dr. Schaffer adds that “from a practical point of view, there’s nothing distinctive about symptoms of the delta variant.” You may be less likely to lose or notice a difference in your sense of taste or smell — but plenty of people with earlier strains of COVID-19 didn’t experience a change in their taste or smell either. Like all the strains of COVID-19 that we’ve encountered so far, the delta variant could cause issues like a cough, shortness of breath, a fever, body aches, congestion, and more. But if you’re trying to figure out if you have a certain variant, symptoms alone aren’t enough to go on.

Besides symptoms, the delta variant behaves differently from other strains of COVID-19 in a few key ways, Dr. Schaffner says, including the speed at which people get infected and who in particular gets infected.

“[The delta variant] is more contagious and spreads more readily,” he explains. “What makes that so? The virologists and immunologists are working on that now, but it has the capacity to attach to the cells in the mucus membrane more readily. Now, when people confront the delta variant, it takes less of the virus to make you sick. It’s easier for it to initiate an infection.”

This threat of infection is obviously higher in people who are unvaccinated or half-vaccinated, a trend Dr. Schaffner says he’s seeing more in younger people and is backed by eye-opening statistics: Only 38 percent of people aged 18 to 29 in the U.S. received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of June.

Overall, while the delta variant may differ slightly from the standard COVID-19 strains, it’s still largely the same virus and will still be studied as such. Dr. Schaffner’s takeaway? To get vaccinated, plain and simple. “The vaccine still protects against [the delta variant],” he says.

The urgent need for vaccination is a universally agreed-upon sentiment backed by medical professionals, including Dr. Anthony Fauci. Just last Thursday during an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered, Dr. Fauci was asked whether the approved COVID-19 vaccines work against the delta variant. “The answer is yes, it does,” he said during the sit-down. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

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Wed, July 14, 2021 3:41pm
 
Texas Democrats' Arrests

Texas Republicans Vote to Arrest Democrats Who Fled State

The Texas House voted Tuesday to send law enforcement to track down, and possibly issue warrants for the arrest of Democratic lawmakers

The Texas House voted Tuesday to send law enforcement to track down, and possibly issue warrants for the arrest of Democratic lawmakers who walked out on the legislature’s special session to prevent the GOP from advancing a key voting bill.

The Texas Republicans voted Tuesday to order a “call of the House,” which stops members from arriving at or leaving the chamber. A separate vote asked the sergeant-at-arms to “send for all absentees…under warrant of arrest if necessary.”

Fifty-seven Democratic House legislators abandoned the chamber in protest Monday and traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby for national voting legislation, denying the Texas legislature quorum, or the minimum number of members needed in attendance to conduct business.

The sergeant-in-arm’s authority only applies in Texas, however, so the defectors can’t be detained until they return to the state. Special sessions can last a maximum of 30 days, so the runaway lawmakers may remain away for weeks.

With a Republican majority in the legislature, Governor Greg Abbott has signaled that the ruling party will pursue all necessary legislative avenues to enact the voting reforms, vowing to prolong special sessions until they get approved. He said Monday that the Democrats “will be arrested” and “cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done.” Abbott added that Democrats would need to stay out of the state for “well over a year” to kill the bill, an unlikely scenario.

In their technically illegal departure from the chamber, Democratic state Senator Royce West told the Washington Post that the Texas Democrats are “buying time” by leaving the state while “hoping that something gets done at the national level.”

While the Texas House lacks quorum, the Texas Senate has maintained its quorum and passed the voting legislation Tuesday, although the bill cannot proceed.

This episode marks the second walk-out the Democrats staged to stall a voting bill they have condemned as a restrictive measure that disenfranchises minorities and underprivileged Texans from exercising their civic duty. Advocates believe it will bring integrity and transparency to the Texas voting system, by more closely regulating poll-watching, prohibiting 24-hour and drive-thru voting, and cracking down on paid “ballot harvesting” as well as mass mail-in ballot distributions.

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Wed, July 14, 2021 3:57pm
 
Cuban Protests

Cuba protests: Frustration at government runs deep

Many Cubans had been voicing their anger on state media websites
Many Cubans had been voicing their anger on state media websites long before Sunday's nationwide protests

Cuba's communist rulers and state-controlled media are alleging that anti-government protests that swept across the island on Sunday were "organised and financed" from the United States, and egged on by a "perverse" and co-ordinated communications campaign on social media.

"There was no social uprising," Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez was quoted by the Communist Party daily Granma as saying.

"There were riots, disorder, caused by a communications operation that has been prepared for some time, to which multi-million dollar resources have been destined: laboratories, technological platforms [backed] with funds of the United States government."

However, monitoring of state media websites prior to the protests shows that Cubans had been voicing deep frustration, despair and anger online long before they took to the streets in their thousands to complain about shortages of food and medicines, power and water interruptions and an apparently faltering government response to surging Covid-19 cases.

In fact, they had been venting these feelings precisely on official online pages in Cuba, particularly on the readers' comments section of the government news website Cubadebate.

This section, though undoubtedly controlled and monitored, has become something of a sounding-board of public opinion on the island in recent years.

As Covid-19 cases and deaths announced by health authorities rose sharply recently, Cubans posted hundreds of comments on the site, with some openly criticising the health authorities and the government.

"Let's leave pride aside, the health system is collapsed, it's the moment to ask for international help, for how long are people going to carry on dying, there are no resources [to fight] this resurgence [of Covid-19]," reader Padrino said.

Danilo wrote: "We need medicines of all kinds and urgently".

The comments will not have gone unnoticed by the ruling Communist Party, which has a dedicated polling unit to track public opinion. The government - for all its efforts to characterise the protests as a "communications operation" driven from the US - was well aware of the existing levels of frustration and anger among the population.

'We've been begging for months'
Some readers also berated authorities about living conditions, complaining about everything from power outages to the difficulties in obtaining food, with citizens often having to queue for hours at state shops to obtain supplies.

"Lord, without water, or electricity, or food, that's how we all are," Dra J wrote.

Reader Alheli took aim at the government's exhortations for the population to show "resistance": "So how long is this resistance planned for? What happens to those who can no longer resist?... We've been begging for months for a change of strategy towards the pandemic and they've told us that no, that everything was under control."

"This is worse every day, and why wouldn't it be, if the conditions are less favourable every day," a reader called China wrote. "How can you pretend to control the virus if we can't comply with the basic things like the hygiene measures?"

People queue to buy food in Havana on 2 February
For months, Cubans have endured long queues to buy food, one of the main points of discontent

Many readers repeated complaints - long made by citizens during the pandemic - that the food shortages meant that most people had to spend long periods outside of their homes, in crowded queues, just to obtain basic necessities, and were thereby exposed to increased risks of infection.

"This isn't just indiscipline, this is out of control, we have to go out into the street to be able to eat, queuing up for three and four hours," Carmen wrote.

Many who posted comments were particularly incensed that the government had continued to allow thousands of Russian tourists weekly into the premier beach resort of Varadero, in Matanzas province. This province is now one of the worst Covid-19 hotspots on the island.

Reader Carlos directly upbraided President Miguel Díaz-Canel, writing: "Mr president, this situation in Matanzas is because of the Delta strain coming from Russia. What were you [the government] thinking when a few months ago you re-established the flights from Russia? Weren't you aware of the Covid situation in that country?"

After being posted, and seen by BBC Monitoring, this comment was later removed from the site.

A man is arrested during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana
Sunday's protests were the largest in decades in Cuba, where political opposition is illegal

Several readers, like Cuba's government, laid the blame for the crisis on US sanctions, which have contributed to the island's dire economic situation and shortages. Marcia said: "The only help that Cuba needs to ask for is for them [the US] to take away the blockade [sanctions]".

But there were many others too who no longer wanted to hear this argument.

"I just want to point out that the indiscipline and the lack of responsibility and oversight is not the fault of the blockade or the Yankees. It is ours alone," reader Rafael said.

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, July 14, 2021 4:12pm
 
Ashley Monroe

Country singer Ashley Monroe says she has rare form of blood cancer

Ashley Monroe performing on stage
Ashley Monroe performs onstage during the 2019 Stagecoach Festival at Empire Polo Field on April 26, 2019 in Indio, California.

Country singer Ashley Monroe said she has recently been diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer.

The 34-year-old musician wrote on Instagram Tuesday that she learned of her diagnosis after her doctor, who’d requested routine lab work a few months ago, found out she was anemic.

Monroe said she felt “fine” at first, and imagined that she would just take some extra vitamins and “double up on cheeseburger patties,” and then move on with her life.

Unfortunately, her red blood count kept falling, while her iron, B12 and folic numbers seemed to be fine.

After Monroe underwent a bone marrow biopsy, doctors found out she had a rare kind of blood cancer called Waldenström macroglobulinemia, which is “causing my body to be pretty severely anemic,” the Grammy-nominated singer wrote. “And I feel it.”

Waldenström macroglobulinemia, also referred to as lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma, is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in which cancer cells make large amounts of an abnormal protein called a macroglobulin, according to the American Cancer Society.

But despite her scary diagnosis, the Knoxville, Tenn.-born singer-songwriter is approaching the situation with hope.

“Seems like such a negative thing to say,” she said about her upcoming treatment. “Until I flip that doom feeling on its head and think, wow, I’m thankful I have an illness that is VERY live with-able.”

Monroe who also shared a number of photographs in the post including a few of her 3-year-old son Dalton, her husband John Danks, as well as fellow singers and Pistol Annies bandmates Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley — said that she is “thankful there IS a treatment that actually works to fight what is causing harm to my body.”

The “Satisfied” singer said she was also thankful for her friends and family “who have gathered around me praying and sending flowers and letting me lean on them during this super weird chapter of my life” and for her “angel son,” whom she is “fighting for the most.”

Monroe said that she was initially hesitant to post about her illness on social media, but she said that she has done a lot of research, and she is very happy with her doctors.

She also added that she “would greatly appreciate [it] if no one gave me any unsolicited advice or medical opinions.” But she could use some prayers.

“I DO believe in the power of prayer guys. I also believe in the power of love healing us all on an even deeper level,” she wrote. “I love you all big. Here I go.”

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Posted by Temmy
Wed, July 14, 2021 5:22pm
 
Mollie Tibbetts

Sentencing Delayed in Mollie Tibbetts Case After Bombshell New Info Emerges

Reuters/Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations

A man scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday to life in prison without parole for killing college student Mollie Tibbetts got a last-minute reprieve on Wednesday in light of bombshell new information pointing to other potential suspects.

In May, a jury convicted Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 27, an Iowa dairy farm worker, of first-degree murder in the 2018 death of Tibbetts, a 20-year-old student at the University of Iowa. On Wednesday, Judge Joel Yates ordered Bahena Rivera’s sentencing to be delayed after two witnesses independently approached authorities with stories that called into question his level of involvement in the crime.

“We are glad that Judge Yates has delayed sentencing to deal with this very important issue,” Chad Frese, one of Bahena Rivera’s defense attorneys, told The Daily Beast. “In our opinion, there is really no other option at this point. The motions we have on file, we believe, detail some very troubling circumstances in the investigation of our client and includes some information that was withheld from us that is certainly exculpatory and relevant.”

Central to the prosecution’s case was surveillance video that placed Bahena Rivera’s car in the area where Tibbetts vanished while out for a run, DNA evidence that identified blood found in the trunk of Bahena Rivera’s car as Tibbetts’, and a partial confession by Bahena Rivera, who directed investigators to a cornfield where Tibbetts’ body was found. In his own defense, Bahena Rivera claimed he had been abducted by two masked men who then forced him to help them kidnap and kill Tibbetts.

The case became a national flashpoint due to Bahena Rivera’s undocumented status; he came to the U.S. illegally as a teenager. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds called Bahena Rivera a “predator” who slipped through a “broken immigration system.” And then-President Donald Trump used the case as an opportunity to rail against undocumented immigrants and agitate for his long promised border wall.

“You heard about today, with the illegal alien coming in from, very sadly, from Mexico,” Trump told supporters at a West Virginia rally the day Bahena Rivera was charged. “And you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman. Should have never happened. Illegally in our country. We’ve had a huge impact, but the laws are so bad... We’re getting it changed but we have to get more Republicans.”

According to a 10-page motion from Bahena Rivera’s defense attorneys, an inmate at an unnamed Iowa correctional facility was watching Bahena Rivera’s May 26 court testimony on television. Prosecutors—and two days later, a jury—discounted Bahena Rivera’s account of having been kidnapped and forced to commit a heinous crime as wholly unbelievable. But the unidentified inmate told the prison chaplain that he could verify the story Bahena Rivera, who had been jailed since his 2018 arrest, told on the stand.

The chaplain called the associate warden, who interviewed the inmate. The inmate said that during a previous stay in county jail, another inmate asked if he “knew about the Mollie Tibbetts case.” Identified as “Inmate 2” in the July 8 defense motion, this person claimed to have taken part in Tibbetts’ murder.

“Inmate 2 then went on to detail that he and another individual whom he identifies by name, were staying in a ‘trap house’ owned by an approximately 50-year-old man involved in the sex trafficking trade,” the motion states, explaining that it was inside a second “trap house” that he saw Tibbetts bound and gagged.

Inmate 2 said Tibbetts “was going to be sex trafficked but the publicity got too big too quick,” the defense motion states, citing investigators. Inmate 2 and a second, unnamed person then carried out a plan Inmate 2 said had been devised by the 50-year-old man—to stab Tibbetts to death and “dump her body near a Hispanic male in order to make it appear that the Hispanic male committed the crime,” according to the motion. “Inmate 2 then said they did, in fact, kill Mollie Tibbetts and carry out the plan in such a way that the Hispanic man would be incriminated.”

“Inmate again thought Inmate 2 was exaggerating initially until he watched the end of the trial and heard Cristhian Bahena Rivera’s testimony which closely matched Inmate 2’s story,” the motion says.

The defense motion points out that the 50-year-old man had been a suspect in the recent disappearance of an 11-year-old Montezuma, Iowa, boy named Xavior Harrelson. The man, identified in local media reports as James Manuel Lowe, was arrested last week by federal authorities on illegal weapons charges, but he has not been charged in relation to the Harrelson or Tibbetts cases.

The second witness, who did not know the first, independently contacted Poweshiek County deputies later that same day, the defense motion states. This person was described in the filing as “very emotional” and likely under the influence when she first spoke to police. The woman claimed to have been in a vehicle a month earlier when a man reportedly pointed a gun at his own head and said, “[T]hat Mexican shouldn’t be in jail for killing Mollie Tibbett’s [sic] because I raped her and killed her.”

This was the same person the first witness had already identified as Inmate 2, states the motion.

All of this came out after the defense had rested its case and the jury had returned a guilty verdict.

“While perhaps not every bit of the account fits neatly into defendant’s account of the events, enough of the facts fit to certainly question whether the state would have been able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt had this information been known and presented to a jury,” the motion states.

Iowa state attorney general’s office spokesperson Lynn Hicks told the Associated Press that authorities continue to believe that Bahena Rivera is guilty of Tibbetts’ murder.

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 15, 2021 3:48pm
 
Monterey Plane Crash

2 women killed after small plane crashes into empty home

In this photo provided by the Monterey County Regional Fire District is the scene where a plane crashed into a home near Highway 68 in Monterey County, Calif., on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. A small plane crashed into a home starting a fire in the house that spread to nearby wild land. It is not yet known if people were inside the residence or how many people were on the plane, an official said. The twin-engine Cessna 421 crashed into a residential area after departing from the Monterey Regional Airport in Monterey, Calif. (Monterey County Regional Fire District via AP)
In this photo provided by the Monterey County Regional Fire District is the scene where a plane crashed into a home near Highway 68 in Monterey County, Calif., on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. A small plane crashed into a home starting a fire in the house that spread to nearby wild land. It is not yet known if people were inside the residence or how many people were on the plane, an official said. The twin-engine Cessna 421 crashed into a residential area after departing from the Monterey Regional Airport in Monterey, Calif.

Two women died when their small plane crashed into an empty home in a luxury gated community in the hills of Northern California, relatives said Wednesday.

Mary Ellen Carlin of Pacific Grove was flying the plane Tuesday, and Alice Diane Emig of Rancho Cordova and her dog, Toby, were on board, Emig's family told Monterey Bay-area news station KSBW-TV.

The twin-engine Cessna 421 crashed into the home in the gated community about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the city of Monterey shortly after departing from Monterey Regional Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The crash sparked a fire in the house that spread to nearby bushes, but crews got it under control Tuesday.

Carlin, the owner of the plane and a flight instructor, was planning to fly Emig from Monterey to Mather in the Sacramento area, family told the TV station.

Relatives said deputies told them no one survived the crash.

Officials have not confirmed who was flying the plane, but Carlin's son, David Carlin, told the Monterey Herald that he has no doubt his mother was the pilot.

“My mom flew that plane for well over a decade,” he said. “I want to make sure everyone knows that my mom was a great pilot. She spent tens of thousands of hours flying. She taught dozens of students over the years. She’s kind of a legend.”

John Thornburg, spokesman for the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department, said no bodies have been recovered from the wreckage yet.

The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation.

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 15, 2021 4:06pm
 
Richard Sherman

Everything We Know About Richard Sherman’s Arrest—and Yes, It’s Bad

On Wednesday, NFL free agent Richard Sherman was arrested after reportedly breaking into a family member’s home and scuffling with police

On Wednesday, NFL free agent Richard Sherman was arrested after reportedly breaking into a family member’s home and scuffling with police before being taken into custody.

Now the picture is starting to get a bit clearer after a 911 tape of a caller, reported to be Sherman’s wife Ashley Moss, claimed that Sherman was heavily intoxicated and threatening to kill himself.

According to ESPN which obtained the tape early Thursday, the caller claimed Sherman was being “drunk and belligerent” and said he was “threatening to kill himself.” The caller noted that Sherman was being aggressive, fought with her uncle, and allegedly “sent text messages to people saying he’s going to hang himself.”

The caller can be heard telling Sherman “Richard, please stop” in an attempt to prevent the former San Francisco 49er from leaving the residence. The caller also claimed that the one-time Pro Bowl cornerback had drunk two bottles of hard liquor.

The caller pleaded with the dispatcher to instruct police not to shoot Sherman as he allegedly threatened to fight with cops once they arrived.

In another 911 call, the caller told the dispatcher that she believed Sherman was driving to her parent’s home in Redmond, Wash. Sherman reportedly crashed his SUV and then allegedly tried to break into his in-laws’ home. The NFL free agent fought with officers who arrived at the scene and had to use a police dog to arrest Sherman. He was arrested and denied bail, which is standard for suspects in domestic violence cases in Washington.

Sherman will see a judge on Thursday afternoon, who will determine if there was probable cause for the arrest and set bail, ESPN reports.

“At this time we’re going to make no statements, except he didn’t harm anybody,” Sherman’s wife Ashley told the Seattle Times. “My kids were not harmed in the incident. He’s a good person and this is not his character. We’re doing all right, just trying to get him out. I want people to know no one was injured.”

Sherman, 33, played last season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2020 after spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Seattle Seahawks. Sherman has been extremely outspoken in the movement for Black lives and currently is the vice president of the NFL Players Association’s executive committee.

“We were made aware of an arrest last night of one of our player leaders for an alleged domestic violence incident and have activated our domestic violence crisis protocol for the protection and support of everyone involved,” the NFLPA said in a statement, ESPN reports. “We will continue to monitor events closely as more facts are made available to us.”

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 15, 2021 4:18pm
 
Oil News

Oil slumps on OPEC compromise expectations, COVID variant concerns

Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Oil futures fell Thursday, extending a slump that began in the previous session after data showed a rise in U.S. fuel supplies and after reports said the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia reached a compromise that would allow a further relaxation of output curbs beginning next month.

Concerns that the spread of the delta coronavirus variant have also contributed to weakness in oil prices as the variant is leading to renewed lockdowns in some countries, particularly in Asia, dulling demand for energy.

“We do feel the Delta variant is the biggest factor as Asia is having a real issue and Europe is problematic,” Tariq Zahir, managing member at Tyche Capital Advisors, told MarketWatch.

COVID cases are on the rise in the U.S. again also and this “could hamper oil demand in the days and weeks to come in parts of the country [where] vaccination levels are low,” he said.

West Texas Intermediate crude for August delivery CL00, -0.46% CLQ21, -0.51% fell 89 cents, or 1.2%, to $72.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. September Brent crude BRN00, -0.49% BRNU21, -0.48%, the global benchmark, was off 82 cents, or 1.1%, at $73.94 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

Crude fell sharply Wednesday after reports said the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia had reached a compromise in their dispute over output cuts. The U.A.E., however, has said no deal has been reached with OPEC+ producers and that talks are ongoing and would need the support of other OPEC countries, according to various news reports.

A meeting of OPEC and its allies — known as OPEC+ — ended earlier this month without an agreement on a proposed easing of output curbs after the U.A.E. insisted it should be allowed to raise the baseline dictating its output, putting it at odds with Saudi Arabia.

“It is also unclear whether the UAE’s higher oil production would be set off against the planned increase in OPEC+ production, which would mean the other countries could raise their output by less, which they would hardly be willing to accept,” said Carsten Fritsch, commodity analyst at Commerzbank, in a note.

“If not, the UAE’s increased output would be on top of the intended increase in OPEC+ production, which could ultimately lead to too much oil on the market,” he said.

Traders will be watching to see if OPEC+ calls a meeting to ratify the reported compromise, said Robert Yawger, executive director of energy futures at Mizuho Securities.

“All OPEC+ members will need to agree on the increase for it to become official OPEC+ policy. No meeting [means] no agreement,” he said.

Weekly data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration released Wednesday revealed that domestic crude supplies fell for an eighth week in a row, but implied demand for motor gasoline declined, leading to an increase in supplies of the fuel.

In Thursday dealings, August gasoline RBQ21, -0.88% fell by nearly 1.3% to $2.26 a gallon and August heating oil HOQ21, -0.49% declined by 1.2% to $2.12 a gallon.

Meanwhile, OPEC on Thursday forecast world oil demand to grow by 6 million barrels a day in 2021, unchanged from its June projection, with total demand expected to average 96.6 million barrels a day.

In its monthly report, OPEC said there are “solid expectations” for global economic growth in 2022, with improved containment of COVID-19, particularly in emerging and developing countries, expected to allow oil demand to return to pre-pandemic levels next year. World oil demand is seen up 3.3 million barrels a day year-over-year in 2022, for average demand of 99.86 million barrels a day. Demand is forecast to top the 100-million-barrel-a-day threshold in the second half of 2022.

OPEC shaved its 2021 forecast for non-OPEC liquids supply by 30,000 barrels a day, despite upward revisions to the U.S. and Canada, and now sees growth at 81,000 barrels a day for an average of 63.8 million barrels a day.

Also on Nymex Thursday, prices for natural-gas futures fell after the EIA reported that domestic supplies of natural gas rose by 55 billion cubic feet for the week ended July 9. On average, analysts polled by S&P Global Platts forecast an increase of 46 billion cubic feet in natural-gas stocks.

August natural gas NGQ21, -0.49% traded at $3.64 per million British thermal units, down 0.7%.

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 15, 2021 4:43pm
 
Jeff Bezos

Blue Origin picks 18-year-old to become youngest person in space on Bezos journey after auction winner has 'scheduling conflicts'

Blue Origin picks 18-year-old to become youngest person in space on Bezos journey after auction winner has 'scheduling conflicts'
Blue Origin picks 18-year-old to become youngest person in space on Bezos journey after auction winner has 'scheduling conflicts'

Billionaire Jeff Bezos's rocket company, Blue Origin, selected an 18-year-old to go on its first mission to space.

Oliver Daemen, 18, and Wally Funk, 82, another expected participant on the July 20 flight to space, will become the youngest and oldest astronauts to travel to space. The company announced Daemen's attendance Thursday because the winner of the Blue Origin auction, who spent $28 million for a ticket on the spaceship, is unable to go "due to scheduling conflicts."

“We thank the auction winner for their generous support of Club for the Future and are honored to welcome Oliver to fly with us on New Shepard,” said Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin. “This marks the beginning of commercial operations for New Shepard, and Oliver represents a new generation of people who will help us build a road to space.”

The company described Daemen, a 2020 high school graduate who took a gap year before he attends the Utrecht University to study physics and innovation management, as "the first paying customer to fly on board New Shepard," though it did not specify how much he paid for the ticket.

The group of astronauts, which includes the Amazon CEO and his brother, will go over 62 miles above Earth, the unofficial point at which space begins, during the 10-minute trip.

Once the crew capsule enters suborbital space, it will detach from the top of the rocket, and the passengers will experience weightlessness while gazing out at Earth. Then the booster will come back down to land vertically, and the capsule will return to Earth's surface using parachutes, according to a visual diagram about the mission from Blue Origin.

The mission will be July's second launch of a wealthy business magnate into space. British billionaire Richard Branson completed a successful mission to space on July 11, operated by Branson's Virgin Galactic.

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Posted by Temmy
Thu, July 15, 2021 5:56pm
 
Los Angeles Mask Mandate

Mask mandate returns to Los Angeles as coronavirus cases rise

FILE - In this July 1, 2021, file photo visitors wear masks as they walk in a shopping district in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. A rapid and sustained increase in COVID-19 cases in the nation's largest county requires restoring an indoor mask mandate even when people are vaccinated, Los Angeles County's public health officer said Thursday, July 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
In this July 1, 2021, file photo visitors wear masks as they walk in a shopping district in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. A rapid and sustained increase in COVID-19 cases in the nation's largest county requires restoring an indoor mask mandate even when people are vaccinated, Los Angeles County's public health officer said Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Los Angeles County will reimpose its mask mandate this weekend in the latest sign that public health officials are struggling with an alarming rise in coronavirus cases tied to the highly contagious Delta variant.

The county, home to 10 million people and the nation's second-largest city, Los Angeles, is one of several jurisdictions to recommend or mandate wearing masks or other pandemic restrictions in recent days as cases rise to worrisome levels in many parts of the United States.

"We’re requiring masking for everyone while indoors at public settings & businesses, regardless of vaccination status so that we can stop the increased level of transmission we're seeing," the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said on Twitter Thursday.

The mandate will go into effect Saturday night at a minute before midnight, the agency said.

The announcement follows six straight days of more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in Los Angeles County, with nearly 400 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, up 275 from the week before. Nine new COVID-19 deaths were reported on Wednesday.

More than 1,500 new infections were reported on Thursday, and the county has become a place of "substantial" transmission, based on criteria set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Los Angeles County health officer, Dr. Muntu Davis, said in remarks provided to reporters.

Other California counties and other states are also grappling with a spike in coronavirus cases, led by a mutation of the coronavirus known as the Delta variant and predominantly affecting people who are unvaccinated.

Also on Thursday, Sacramento and Fresno Counties in California recommended that masks be worn indoors even by people who are vaccinated. Austin, Texas, on Thursday urged people who are not vaccinated or are otherwise high-risk to avoid travel, indoor gatherings, dining out and shopping, and to wear masks.

Earlier this week, Yolo County in California also recommended indoor masking, and in Springfield, Missouri, children and teachers have been required to wear masks during summer school.

"Everyone, including those who are vaccinated, should be aware of high-risk situations including being indoors, in crowds, and around unvaccinated and unmasked individuals and consider wearing a face covering in these settings,” said Fresno County Public Health physician Dr. John Zweifler.

Data from the CDC show high levels of coronavirus transmission in numerous states, including Missouri, Mississippi, Florida, Nevada and Utah.

Across the country, health officials urged residents who have not yet done so to become vaccinated. Vaccines are approved and available for all people as young as 12 years old. In Los Angeles County, just 0.09% of new cases were among people who had been vaccinated, officials said.

“Our best protection against COVID-19 continues to be the vaccine," said Sacramento County Public Health Officer Olivia Kasirye. "We urge all eligible residents to get vaccinated in order to protect themselves, and their family and friends.”

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Posted by Temmy
Fri, July 16, 2021 1:49pm
 
Joe Biden Child Tax Credit

Child tax credit payments started hitting bank accounts today. Here's what you need to know.

Most eligible families in the U.S. will get their first monthly payments of the expanded child tax credit Thursday

Most eligible families in the U.S. will get their first monthly payments of the expanded child tax credit Thursday.

The payments, which were included in the American Rescue Plan, change an existing tax credit by expanding the eligibility pool and increasing the money families get. Under the expanded credit, the IRS, also for the first time, is offering the option to receive the payments monthly, rather than in a lump sum as a tax refund.

The expanded payments are expected to significantly decrease the number of children living in poverty; the White House estimates that child poverty could be reduced by as much as 50 percent.

"I think this is one of the things that the vice president and I will be most proud of when our terms are up," President Joe Biden said in a speech at the White House on Thursday. "This can be life changing for so many families."

The first round of payments will total about $15 billion, according to an administration official. That amount will likely increase in the months to come as more people sign up. Biden said that for each dollar that the tax cut costs, it returns $8 in other benefits that would have been spent down the line.

"Your head, your heart and your budget all lead to the same place," Biden said. "This is the right thing to do and it's the smart thing to do."

Still, the program faces immediate challenges.

Most of the roughly 39 million families who are eligible have filed taxes recently or received stimulus checks and do not need to take any additional steps to receive the monthly benefit. But an estimated 4 million to 8 million eligible children are at risk of missing out because their families are not required to file taxes or they have not done so.

Non-filing households tend to be more vulnerable and the most in need of assistance. And although the Biden administration has rolled out a number of online portals where families can update their information, cumbersome government websites, language and technology barriers, and a general lack of public awareness threaten the impact of the program.

Here's what you need to know about the credit.

Who qualifies?
People who claim children 17 or younger as deductions on their taxes are eligible.

The full enhanced credit will be given to single filers who earn as much as $112,500 and joint filers making up to $150,000 a year. The payments begin to decrease for those making more, with the credit completely phasing out for single payers earning more than $200,000 or for married couples with incomes above $400,000.

The IRS determines the age of a child by how old the child is at the end of the 2021 calendar year. So children turning 18 this year will not be eligible.

There are no work requirements, and you do not need a permanent home to claim the credits.

How much money do you get?
That depends on how old the children are (and how much money you make).

Parents eligible for the full enhanced credit will get $300 a month per child under age 6 and $250 a month per child ages 6 to 17.

The payments max out at $3,600 annually for each child under 6 and $3,000 for those ages 6 to 17.

The credit is fully refundable, meaning families can still benefit even if they have no earned income or do not owe income taxes.

How will the money be distributed?
If you filed taxes in 2019 or 2020 or received a stimulus check, you should get a direct deposit. If the IRS does not have your current banking information, then keep an eye out for a check in the mail.

If you do not see a direct deposit payment Thursday, you can visit the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to see whether your information is up to date.

When will you get the payments?
The IRS plans to send direct deposits on the 15th of each month, so: July 15, Aug. 13 (this payment is early because the 15th falls on a Sunday), Sept. 15, Oct. 15, Nov. 15 and Dec. 15.

If you do not want to get payments on a monthly basis and would prefer to get the cash in a lump sum during tax season, you can update that preference on the IRS website. A White House official said about 1 million people have chosen to do that so far.

What if you don't file taxes?
If you were not required to file taxes in 2019 or 2020 or did not do so, you must update your information with the IRS to receive the benefit.

The IRS released an online tool where parents can register their information electronically. The tool does not work well on mobile devices, so it is best to use it on a laptop or a desktop computer. The tool is available only in English, but an administration official said Spanish and other languages are in the works.

If you did not receive the pandemic stimulus checks, the IRS will also use information uploaded to the non-filer tool to make sure you get those payments.

Lost your job? Got married? Had another kid?
If you had any significant life change that could affect how much money you are eligible for, you will need to update the information in a different IRS online tool (separate from the non-filer tool).

Changes in dependents, marital status and income, however, cannot be made until later in the summer.

As long as the information is updated this year, the IRS will give you back pay for any missed monthly credits.

When will the monthly expanded credit end?
The expanded credit ends in December. Biden has called for a four-year extension, which would need congressional approval. Other Democrats have called for making the expansion permanent.

How can the money be used?
However you'd like. Unlike other benefits, such as food stamps or housing vouchers, the child tax credit is unrestricted.

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Fri, July 16, 2021 2:48pm
 
Flooding In Germany

More Than 50 Dead, Thousands Missing in Germany as Severe Floods Devastate Western Europe

More than 50 people have died in Germany as of Thursday night after severe floods in Western Europe devastated several areas
Flooded German Neighborhood

More than 50 people have died in Germany as of Thursday night after severe floods in Western Europe devastated several areas of the country.

Over the past 24 hours, officials have determined that 58 people died across the nation — concentrated in southwestern state Rhineland-Palatinate and western state North Rhine-Westphalia — and 1,300 are missing, The Washington Post and New York Times reported on Thursday.

At least 11 people in Belgium have died as a result of the extreme weather, officials said, the New York Times and BBC reported. The flooding has also affected the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland, and warnings were issued in areas of France.

In addition to lives lost, the flooding washed some people's homes away, while some German citizens have been left awaiting rescue from their rooftops. Power and cell phone signals were cut off in dozens of communities.

Firefighters, helicopter personnel, police, emergency responders and military are working in a joint effort to save those reported missing, according to the New York Times.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel — who is visiting President Joe Biden at the White House — said in a press conference that she was "shocked" by the extreme flooding.

"My sympathy goes to the relatives of the dead and missing," she said. "I grieve for those who have lost their lives in this disaster."

Merkel, 66, added, "We still don't know the number. But it will be many."

"Heavy rain and flooding' doesn't capture what happened," she said of the natural disaster.

The downpour of rain marked levels of precipitation that have not been recorded in some areas for 100 years, German weather service spokesperson Andreas Friedrich told CNN. "In some areas we've seen more than double the amount of rainfall which has caused flooding and unfortunately some building structures to collapse," he said.

Activists, politicians and other leaders have connected the extreme weather to climate change. The catastrophe occurred just days after the European Union announced its goal to cut the use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases by 55 percent by 2030, the New York Times reported.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted, "Deadly heatwaves, floods, storms, wildfires, droughts, crop failures... This is not 'the new normal'. We're at the very beginning of a climate and ecological emergency, and extreme weather events will only become more and more frequent."

European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed her condolences to those affected by the severe flooding and vowed to support the nations affected.

"My thoughts are with the families of the victims of the devastating floods in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands and those who have lost their homes," she tweeted. "The E.U. is ready to help."

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Fri, July 16, 2021 3:04pm
 
Joe Biden Facebook

Joe Biden Clarifies Comment Blaming Facebook Over Vaccine Misinformation

Joe Biden speaking

Joe Biden clarified his comment about the spread of misinformation on social media platforms, drawing pushback from Facebook after the president seemed to suggest that it was “killing people” by letting false claims about the Covid-19 spread across its platform.

On Friday, Biden was asked, “On the topic of disinformation, what’s your message to platforms like Facebook?” He responded, “They’re killing people. Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people.”

Biden said on Monday that he was reacting to a report that 60% of the misinformation about the vaccine on Facebook came from 12 individuals.

“Facebook isn’t killing people,” Biden said. “These 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It’s killing people. It’s bad information. My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally that somehow I am saying that Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation. … That’s what I meant.”

After Biden’s Friday comment, Facebook released a statement from spokesperson Dani Lever in which she said, “We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts. The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”

The citing of 12 people appeared to be a reference to a report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which identified a group that included Joseph Mercola, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Ty and Charlene Bollinger.

The administration has called on Facebook to take a series of steps to better curb misinformation on the platform, as Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the White House has been flagging problematic posts about the vaccine. CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked Biden whether he would hold Facebook accountable if no action is taken.

“I am not trying to hold people accountable. I am trying to make people look at themselves. Look in the mirror. Think about that misinformation going to your son, your daughter, your relative, someone you love.”

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Mon, July 19, 2021 11:34pm
 
Tucson Shooting

Tucson suspect shoots at EMTs, police and firefighters in spree that leaves one dead, four injured

Tucson shooting scene
Tucson suspect shoots at EMTs, police and firefighters in spree that leaves one dead, four injured

A gunman who shot at paramedics, firefighters and police at three locations in Tucson, Arizona, Sunday afternoon killed a civilian and left four others injured.

In what Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus called "an extremely complex series of incidents," another person was killed in a house fire.

The call about the fire at a home in South Tucson came in first, at 3:46 p.m., Magnus said. Three minutes later, police are told that a man has shot at an ambulance that had responded to an unrelated medical call at Quincie Douglas Park, about a mile away

The driver and passenger EMTs were struck, but one of them was able to make the call to police and describe the suspect and the vehicle he drove away in, Magnus said.

One of the EMTs, a 20-year-old male was shot in the head and hospitalized in critical condition, while the other a 20-year-old female was shot in the chest and arm and was in stable condition.

Back at the scene of the house blaze, firefighters and neighbors were working to get control of the flames when the suspect drove up and started shooting at them.

A neighbor was shot in the head and killed, while a fire captain was struck in the arm and is in good condition, Magnus said. Another neighbor's head was grazed by a bullet, and he is in good condition.

As the suspect left the scene of the fire, an officer spotted him, but the suspect rammed into the officer's vehicle, stopping him and starting to shoot at him. The officer returned fire and struck the suspect, who has not been identified. The 35-year-old is hospitalized in extremely critical condition, Magnus said. The officer who shot him was not hurt.

Another person was found badly burnt and dead in the fire. The relationship between that person and the suspect is unknown.

Two or three children associated with the house who were thought to be missing were later found alive, Sgt. Richard Gradillas tweeted Monday. Their relationship to the suspect is also unknown.

"This is both a highly tragic, really horrific incident with many unknowns at this time that is going to involve a lengthy and complex investigation," Magnus said.

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said the fire department and police department had her full support. "This was a horrific and senseless act of violence," she wrote on Twitter.

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Mon, July 19, 2021 11:46pm
 
Kris Wu

K-pop star Kris Wu faces date-rape allegations, denies predatory sex behavior

kris
Kris Wu

One of China’s most popular celebrities is under fire after a young woman on Sunday accused of him of raping her while she was unconscious and paying her hush money to keep the allegations from the public.

Actor and singer Kris Wu, a former member of the K-pop group EXO, took to social media on Monday to deny ever engaging in “date rape,” having sex with underage girls or coercing women into sex. The 30-year-old’s team also said it would take legal action against the woman.

The accuser, Du Meizhu, had been sharing her allegations online for weeks, but she gave details for the first time over the weekend in a bombshell interview for the Chinese website NetEase.

She said Wu lured her and other girls into his home when she was 17 last year and pressured them to drink alcohol, according to multiple reports. Du, who’s now 19, said she eventually passed out and woke up the next day in Wu’s bed, the BBC reported Monday.

The Chinese Canadian celebrity later paid her 500,000 yuan — about $77,000 — to keep quiet, she said, but Du reportedly returned the money and decided to speak out as she wanted to be “the last victim.”

The young woman also said she knows of at least seven other teenage girls who have had similar encounters with Wu, including two who are still under 18 and “don’t want their lives to be disturbed but wish to see him punished,” according to a translation by The Guardian.

In China, the legal age of consent is 14.

The allegations caused an outcry on China’s social media platforms and led multiple brands to cut ties with Wu. The growing list of companies includes music streaming platform Yunting, skincare brand Kans and detergent maker Libai, the Guardian reported.

Wu, who reportedly grew up between Vancouver and Guangzhou, rose to fame as one of 11 members of the South Korean-Chinese boy band EXO and later launched his own career as a rapper, singer and model.

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Mon, July 19, 2021 11:57pm
 
Carlos Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn: American father and son sentenced to jail in Japan for helping former Nissan chief flee

michael taylor and  peter his brother posing together
This undated combination of photos released to AFP on March 2, 2021 courtesy Rudy Michael Taylor shows his father, former US special forces member Michael Taylor (at R in both images) and his brother Peter, posing together years apart in the US.

A Tokyo court on Monday sentenced to prison the American father and son charged with helping former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn escape to Lebanon while on bail in Japan.

Michael Taylor, a 60-year-old former Green Beret, received a two-year sentence, and his 28-year-old son Peter one year and eight months.

Mr Ghosn caused a global sensation in 2019 when he escaped Japan in a large musical equipment case to Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.

Carlos Ghosn speaking during an interview
In this May 25, 2021, file photo, Nissan's former chairman Carlos Ghosn speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, in Dbayeh, north of Beirut, Lebanon.

The executive, once a leading figure in the automotive industry, had been arrested in Japan in November 2018 on charges of financial misconduct as the head of Nissan Motor Co. Mr Ghosn, who remains in Lebanon, maintains his innocence and says he fled because he would not get a fair hearing in Japan.

The Taylors were extradited from the US in March to face accusations that they aided Mr Ghosn’s escape in return for a £950,000 payment.

In December 2019, Mr Ghosn had left his home in Tokyo, where he was under house arrest, and taken a bullet train to Osaka. At a hotel there he met the Taylors, who posing as musicians smuggled Mr Ghosn onto a private jet at Kansai airport inside a box supposedly holding audio equipment.

Both men pleaded guilty and professed regret for their actions, saying they had acted out of altruism after Mr Ghosn told them that people were tortured in Japan’s criminal justice system, which has a conviction rate of over 99 per cent.

Their lawyer Keiji Isaji had sought a rapid trial, as court proceedings in Japan can often drag on for years.

During the sentencing hearing, Chief Judge Hideo Nirei said the pair committed a serious violation of the law in enabling Mr Ghosn to permanently avoid justice.

"This case enabled Ghosn, a defendant of a serious crime, to escape overseas," he said.

Although the defence argued the two had been misled and used by Mr Ghosn, Judge Nirei said they were clearly involved, irrespective of who made the decisions.

The judge said the Taylors were motivated by financial gain, despite a tearful Michael Taylor claiming he was penniless and that money he had received only covered expenses.

The maximum penalty for aiding a criminal in Japan is three years imprisonment. Prosecutors had sought two years and 10 months for Michael and two years and six months for his son.

Their defence had argued for suspended sentences for both men, who spent 10 months in custody in the United States after being arrested in Massachusetts in May 2020.

But Judge Nirei said he would not take time served in the United States into account. "There is a limit to how much we can consider," he said.

The pair now have two weeks to appeal their sentence.

Another man accused of helping the escape, George-Antoine Zayek, has not been arrested.

In a separate case a former top Nissan executive is also on trial in Tokyo charged with falsifying reports on Mr Ghosn’s remuneration. Greg Kelly, who faces up to 15 years in prison, also maintains his innocence.

He was arrested at the same time as Mr Ghosn and his trial began in September. A verdict is not expected until next year.

Asked about the fate of his former colleague and the men who helped him, Mr Ghosn told the BBC: "I feel sorry for all the people who are victim of the hostage justice system in Japan, all of them."

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Tue, July 20, 2021 12:11am
 
Pegasus Project

France's Macron targeted in project Pegasus spyware case - Le Monde

president macron in front of the door

The phone of French President Emmanuel Macron was targeted for potential surveillance on behalf of Morocco in the Pegasus spyware case, French daily Le Monde reported on Tuesday.

The French presidency said that if the revelations about Macron's phone being tapped were true, they would be very serious.

Le Monde said that former French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 14 ministers had also been targeted in 2019.

An investigation published on Sunday by 17 media organisations, led by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden Stories, said the spyware, made and licensed by Israeli company NSO, had been used in attempted and successful hacks of smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights activists.

NSO issued a statement on Sunday rejecting the reporting by the media partners, saying it was "full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories".

Its product is intended only for use by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime, it said.

An NSO spokesman did not immediately respond to a request by Reuters for comment on Tuesday on the Le Monde report about Macron.

Morocco issued a statement on Monday denying any involvement in using Pegasus.

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Tue, July 20, 2021 11:57pm
 
Keyshia Cole

Keyshia Cole's Biological Mother Dies of Overdose on 61st Birthday: 'Worst Pain Ever,' Says Sister

keyshia cole and her mother

Keyshia Cole's mother Frankie Lons has died.

Early Monday morning, Cole's sister Elite Noel confirmed that her mother Frankie had died on her birthday of an overdose after suffering from drug addiction for years.

"Worse [sic] pain ever.... to see my mama in a body bag on her birthday!" she wrote. "My heart so f—ing broke." Their brother also told TMZ Lons had relapsed at her Oakland, California home.

Lons had marked two months of sobriety back in March, TMZ reported. Cole, 39, has yet to make a public statement about her mother's death.

Back in 2018, Cole opened up about what it's like to have her mom face addiction.

"This was 2½ years ago. Every time my mom relapse, it breaks my heart more than it's already been broken," she wrote. "I'm hoping, if any of u are dealing with a family member who's battling with drug addiction, that you, yourself are learning how to cope with the struggle of it all."

"And all the pain it brings to see a loved one constantly relapsing," she added. "See them go back to the streets Because that's what they're used to, or would rather be. I really miss you! And will always love u."

In the video, Lons asks people to keep her in her prayers as she attempted sobriety. "I've been going to church," she said in the video. "I'm taking this a day at a time."

Lons was Cole's biological mother. Cole was adopted by family friends Leon and Yvonne Cole at 2 years old.

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Wed, July 21, 2021 12:13am
 
Coronavirus Update

COVID cases are surging, and it's not because of "breakthrough" infections

map of usa showing coronavirus infections in the states

Coronavirus infections are rising dramatically all over the U.S. as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads.

The big picture: Some “breakthrough” infections are happening to vaccinated people, but this rising tide of cases and hospitalizations is mainly a threat to those who aren’t vaccinated. And in some parts of the country, most people aren’t vaccinated — so the virus can still do serious damage.

Where it stands: Nationwide, the average number of new cases per day was up 55% over the past week.

New cases increased in 46 states, and many of those increases are substantial.

Florida is now averaging just under 6,500 new cases per day — by far the most of any state, and a 91% jump from the week before.

New cases more than doubled over the past week in Mississippi — from about 320 per day to about 660 per day. The state has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country; just 34% of its residents are fully vaccinated.

Earlier this summer, the U.S. seemed to have COVID-19 on the ropes. But now the Delta variant is sweeping through the country.

“Breakthrough infections” — people who have contracted the virus even after being vaccinated — are getting a lot of attention as cases mount. But it’s clear that those infections are not the primary driver of this new surge in cases, and that vaccinated people are much, much safer than unvaccinated people.

97% of people hospitalized for COVID-19 infections are unvaccinated, the CDC said last week, and federal officials have previously said that about 99% of people who die from the virus weren’t vaccinated.

By the numbers: More than 160 million Americans are fully vaccinated.

Of those 160 million people, just 3,733 have subsequently been hospitalized for a severe COVID-19 infection, according to the CDC’s most recent update, and 791 have died from the virus.

Clinical trials showed both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine to be 94-95% effective at preventing serious illness and death. There will be people in the other 5-6%. That does not mean the vaccines don’t work; those cases are noteworthy precisely because they are rare.

Real-world evidence consistently shows that the vaccines continue to offer strong protection against the Delta variant.

More evidence of the vaccines’ effectiveness came just this week, in a study — which has not yet been peer-reviewed — of health care workers in India.

In this study of roughly 28,000 vaccinated health care workers, just 5% developed symptomatic infections after being vaccinated. Only 83 people had to be admitted to a hospital, and none died.

The bottom line: The vaccines are the most effective weapon against this pandemic, but they only work if we use them.



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Thu, July 22, 2021 5:23pm
 
Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee Bucks' fans celebrate NBA championship with parade

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo celebrating the NBA finals victory
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) holds the finals MVP trophy after the Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals in Milwaukee, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. The Bucks won 105-98.

Hundreds of thousands of people were expected to squeeze into downtown streets on Thursday to catch a glimpse of the Milwaukee Bucks in a parade that celebrates the city’s first NBA championship in half a century.

The team’s ascendance has invigorated a Midwestern city that is far from the league’s more cosmopolitan venues, like Los Angeles or Boston.

“The city has had its struggles. What I know is that it’s been a city that’s coming together," said longtime Bucks fan Dameon Ellzey, 45, who was born and raised in Milwaukee. He lives near Fiserv Forum, where the Bucks play their home games, and he was outside the arena before the parade.

Fans have embraced NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who decided to stay with the team that selected him eight years ago with the 15th overall pick in the draft when he was just 18 years old.

The players and owners will board five double-decker buses as they roll through the heart of the city. They'll finish with a celebration outside Fiserv Forum in the city's Deer District, where an estimated 100,000 people gathered Tuesday night to watch the Bucks put away the Phoenix Suns in Game 6.

Gov. Tony Evers declared Thursday “Bucks In Six Day" in Wisconsin, a rallying cry among the fan base ever since former Milwaukee guard Brandon Jennings incorrectly predicted his eighth-seeded Bucks would win a 2013 first-round series over the top-seeded Heat in six games.

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Thu, July 22, 2021 5:37pm
 
Prince Harry

Buckingham Palace Breaks Its Silence Over Prince Harry's Memoir Announcement

the queen with princes william harry and their spouses
Buckingham Palace Breaks Its Silence Over Prince Harry's Memoir Announcement

On Monday, Prince Harry and Penguin Random House broke the news that the Duke of Sussex will be releasing a memoir in late 2022 that will share, “for the very first time, the definitive account of the experiences, adventures, losses, and life lessons that have helped shape him,” per the project's press release. Buckingham Palace didn't immediately respond to the news, but the Palace made the rare move of declining to comment to People with on-the-record words rather than silence. “Any clarification about the book would be a question for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex,” the Palace said, referring to Meghan and Harry by their titles.

Harry's memoir will address his time in the royal family, per the release: “Covering his lifetime in the public eye from childhood to the present day, including his dedication to service, the military duty that twice took him to the frontlines of Afghanistan, and the joy he has found in being a husband and father, Prince Harry will offer an honest and captivating personal portrait, one that shows readers that behind everything they think they know lies an inspiring, courageous, and uplifting human story.”

A spokesperson for Harry made it clear to People that the royal family wasn't blindsided by the news. People was told by the rep that Harry spoke privately with the royal family regarding the book's publication very recently. The spokesperson added that Harry would not be expected to obtain permission from Buckingham Palace for the project.

In a statement, Harry explained of the memoir: “I’m writing this not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become. I’ve worn many hats over the years, both literally and figuratively, and my hope is that in telling my story—the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learned—I can help show that no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think. I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to share what I’ve learned over the course of my life so far and excited for people to read a firsthand account of my life that’s accurate and wholly truthful.”

Harry and Meghan stepped back from their senior royal family roles in January 2020. They made that move permanent earlier this year and now live in Montecito, California, with their two children, two-year-old son Archie and one-month-old daughter Lili. In March, they gave a seismic tell-all interview to Oprah about their experiences as working royal family members.

Among their biggest bombshell claims was that a member of the royal family (not the Queen or Philip) had concerns that their then-unborn son Archie's skin would be too dark, Meghan revealing that the institution refused to let her seek treatment when she struggled with suicidal ideation, and Harry's statement that the family has an “invisible contract” with the British tabloids and are scared of them.

The royal family very tersely responded to the interview. Two days after the interview aired, the Palace released a brief statement on behalf of the Queen: “The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Meghan and Harry. The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. Harry, Meghan, and Archie will always be much loved family members.”

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Thu, July 22, 2021 6:01pm
 
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