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Ron DeSantis signs texting-while-driving ban
« Reply #12750 on: May 17, 2019, 04:55:07 PM »
“I think it’s something that’s appropriate, I think it’ll make our roads safer.”



Police can soon pull over Florida drivers who text while driving.

Friday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 107, a bill making texting and driving a primary offense in Florida starting later this year. Law enforcement officers will be able to pull over drivers they see texting and driving and issue a ticket.

“I think it’s something that’s appropriate, I think it’ll make our roads safer,” said DeSantis during a bill signing ceremony at Sarasota High School.

“You can see people lose control of the vehicle, and we don’t want to put people at risk,” DeSantis said.

In addition to banning texting and driving in Florida, the bill will also make school zones and active work zones hands-free areas.

“We have a responsibility to all Floridians to limit distractions that cause tragedies on our roads,” Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez said.

“This bill is about protecting our residents and preventing as many accidents as possible through smart enforcement and I’m proud to stand with the Governor in this effort.”

Reps. Emily Slosberg and Jackie Toledo sponsored the House version. Slosberg’s twin sister, Dori, was killed more than 20 years ago in a car crash, where the now-state-Representative was also seriously injured.

“My family lives with this tragedy every day,” Slosberg said in a statement on the bill’s signing.

“I want to ensure that others will not go through the pain I went through of losing a loved one on our roadways because of dangerous conduct. This bill will change driver behavior and it will save countless lives on Florida’s roadways. I want to thank my colleagues for their support in moving towards making our roads safer and the Governor for signing the bill into law.”

A bill bumping texting to a primary offense died in the Senate last year after earning overwhelming approval in the House.

Toledo was present at Friday’s bill signing and spoke out on the legislation finally being signed into law.

“As a mother, the safety of our children and our communities is paramount,” Toledo sad.

“This bill is about saving lives by preventing accidents caused by texting while driving among other distractions on our roads.”

Praising the new law was Terry Rhodes, executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV).

“Using wireless communication devices while driving is one of the most dangerous driving behaviors as it takes your hands off the wheel, eyes off the road and mind off driving,” Rhodes said in a statement. “The Wireless Communications While Driving Law will undoubtedly make the state’s roadways safer and I applaud the Governor and Legislature for their dedication to this effort.

Rhodes also noted the efforts of the Florida Police Chiefs Association and the Florida Sheriffs Association, for their work in getting HB 107 passed.

“Through educational campaigns and Florida Highway Patrol enforcement in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, this law will enhance all of our missions to prevent crashes, reduce injuries and fatalities, and improve road safety for all road users,” she said.

State Rep. Richard Stark, who has long been a proponent of the change, also released a statement.

“For too many years Florida has had one of the weakest texting while driving laws in place which placed our residents at a significant safety risk on our roads,” Stark said.

“As a former sponsor of the measure for many years, I know the hard work it took to see the texting and driving ban through to the finish line.”

The new law takes effect July 1; fines for the hands-free part begin Jan. 1, 2020

https://floridapolitics.com/archives/296711-ron-desantis-signs-texting-while-driving-ban
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Man sentenced for killing girlfriend during suicide attempt
« Reply #12751 on: May 17, 2019, 05:11:10 PM »
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska man who attempted suicide and accidently shot his girlfriend has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

The Anchorage Daily News reports 23-year-old Victor Sibson fired a shot into his own head in 2017. The bullet passed through his skull and struck and killed 22-year-old Brittany-Mae Haag.

Sibson was originally charged with second-degree murder. He pleaded guilty in November to manslaughter.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys suggested a 14-year sentence with five suspended. Superior Court Judge Erin Marston agreed and ordered that Sibson receive treatment for mental illness.

Sibson has already served two years.

He apologized in court Wednesday to Haag's family, who filled the first row of the gallery wearing black T-shirts with pictures of Haag. Sibson said he has not been able to forgive himself.

https://www.newsminer.com/news/alaska_news/man-sentenced-for-killing-girlfriend-during-suicide-attempt/article_82b9cb8f-2c34-57f5-8897-13296747244c.html
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Starbucks' China rival Luckin surges in market debut
« Reply #12752 on: May 17, 2019, 05:15:51 PM »
(Reuters) - Shares of Luckin Coffee Inc surged as much as 52.7% in their market debut on Friday, indicating strong investor demand for the self-declared challenger to Starbucks Corp in China.

The company raised around $561 million after pricing its offering at the top of the anticipated price range, giving it a market value of $4.2 billion, in the biggest U.S. float by a Chinese firm this year.

The IPO gives Luckin more firepower and exposure to fuel its ambitious plan of overtaking Starbucks in China this year as the largest coffee chain by number of outlets.

“For us, brand is very, very important. If you’re a listed company, particularly in the U.S., that will elevate your brand even further than what it is today. So (the IPO) helps us with branding,” Chief Financial Officer Reinout Schakel said in an interview at the Nasdaq.

The stock opened at $25, well above its IPO price of $17. By 12:35 p.m. EST, shares pared gains to trade up at around $21.34.

Luckin has 2,370 stores in China and plans to open 2,500 more this year to go past Seattle-based Starbucks, which has long dominated China’s coffee scene and has over 3,600 stores in the country.

Luckin’s expansion is in stark contrast to Starbucks, which opened its first China store in 1999 and has spent two decades reaching its current store count.

The coffee start-up’s customers can order coffee via an app, watch a livestream of their coffee being made, and have it delivered to their door in an average of 18 minutes.

Luckin’s innovation on how consumers enjoy a cup of coffee sets it apart, said Zephirin Group analyst Lenny Zephirin in a note. “We believe this will continue to support above-industry growth in the coming years.”

The company has also expanded outside coffee, allowing customers to buy food and other beverages such as grapefruit cheese jasmine tea and Sichuan cold noodles with pulled chicken via its app.

“People think we’re just coffee, but actually we’re more than coffee. We’re coffee but actually we want to use it as a connection ... and cross-sell different types of products,” Schakel said.

However, Luckin’s expansion comes at the cost of an aggressive cash burn. It relies heavily on cheap delivery and big discounts as a key strategy to attract customers.

Since inception in June, 2017, the company has been in the red, with net loss to shareholders at $475.4 million and total revenue of $125.27 million last year. For the first three months of this year, it posted a net loss of $85.3 million.

Luckin warned it may incur losses in the future and said it was more focused on expansion than turning a profit.

The coffee chain was co-founded by Chief Executive Officer Qian Zhiya and backed by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd.

Other investors in the company include U.S. money manager BlackRock Inc and Chinese investment firms Centurium Capital and Joy Capital.

Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, CICC and Haitong International were the lead underwriters on the IPO.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-luckincoffee-ipo/starbucks-china-rival-luckin-surges-in-market-debut-idUSKCN1SN1WR
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Israel firm meddled in Africa, Asia and Latin America elections
« Reply #12753 on: May 17, 2019, 05:29:58 PM »
An Israel-based campaign to meddle in the elections of several African, Asian and Latin American countries has been uncovered by social media giant Facebook

An Israel-based campaign to meddle in the elections of several African, Asian and Latin American countries has been uncovered by social media giant Facebook.

Facebook announced today that it had deactivated dozens of accounts found to be spreading disinformation by posing as local journalists and influencers. The social media giant traced these accounts to Archimedes Group, a private company based near Tel Aviv which had engineered the campaign.

Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, told reporters that the platform had deleted 65 accounts, 161 pages and dozens of groups linked to the misinformation campaign, noting that this activity had garnered 2.8 million followers and hundreds of thousands of views. Gleicher also told reporters that Archimedes has now been banned from Facebook, Haaretz reported.

For its part, the Times of Israel quoted Gleicher as saying that “these are actors that were essentially facilitating deception, and they appear to be commercially engaged to do this”. He added: “That type of business does not have a place on our platforms so we are removing them from the platform and our teams will continue to investigate to look for other instances of this type of behaviour, [whether] for commercial or other strategic purposes.”

Archimedes’ operations are thought to have focused on Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia, as well as a handful of Asian and Latin American countries. It is thought that the campaign has spent over $800,000 on Facebook adverts since 2012.

Relatively little is known about Archimedes Group. The Washington Post noted that the group presents itself as “a consulting firm involved in campaigns for presidential elections,” using the slogan “winning campaigns worldwide”. The website also features a vague description of the group’s “mass social media management” software, which it claims can enable the operation of an “unlimited” number of online accounts.

The Washington Post added that Archimedes is headed by Elinadav Heymann, citing Swiss negotiations consultancy Negotiations.CH. Heymann is also reported to have been Executive Director of the European Friends of Israel since 2012 and an “advisor to various parties [in] the Israeli Knesset for 3 terms”.

Facebook’s Gleicher said he could not speculate as to whether Archimedes’ motives were political, and as yet it is not known who solicited and paid for the group’s services. However, given the campaign’s focus on predominantly central and west African countries – a region in which the Israeli state has recently tried to increase its influence – questions to this effect are likely to be raised going forward.

In January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Chad to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries, which were severed in 1972. Speaking at a press conference before his departure, Netanyahu said that the visit was “part of the revolution we are doing in the Arab and Muslim world,” claiming that such an initiative “greatly worries, even greatly angers” Palestinians and the wider Arab world.

Though Israel’s normalisation drive in Africa has material benefits – often including lucrative arms deals, memorandums for economic cooperation and the use of airspace which will significantly shorten flight paths for commercial Israeli airlines – the initiative is also pursued for its propaganda value. Netanyahu has long been keen to emphasise these diplomatic successes, particularly in the run up to Israel’s general election which took place last month.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190516-israel-firm-meddled-in-africa-asia-and-latin-america-elections/
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Alabama has the fourth worst infant mortality rate in the country.

After signing the country’s strictest abortion ban into law Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) explained her reasoning in a statement, citing “Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”

But that belief is not reflected in the state’s abysmal statistics when it comes to child mortality, child poverty, food insecurity, education, child care, or paid family leave. Indeed, Ivey’s stated commitment to giving “every person the best chance for a quality life and promising future” doesn’t seem to extend beyond the womb.

Under Alabama’s total abortion ban, providers could face jail time of 10 to 99 years for providing abortions. Patients are exempt from criminal and civil charges. The only exception is if the health of the pregnant person is at serious risk. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. The law will go into effect in 2020, but is expected to be met with lawsuits before then.

Meanwhile, Alabama has the fourth worst infant mortality rate in the country, at 7.4 deaths for every 1,000 births, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. This number is actually the lowest in the state’s history, a glaring sign that infant health has long been a major problem in Alabama. And there are significant disparities between black and white infants: The Alabama Department of Public Health found that the 2015 infant mortality rate for black infants was the highest it has been in a decade, at 15.3 per 1,000 births, while the white infant mortality rate was at its lowest, at 5.2.

But the Alabama legislature has done little to tackle this problem, choosing instead to focus primarily on “fringe issues and oddball causes that don’t improve Alabamians’ lives and health,” the editorial board of a local newspaper wrote in 2018.

The same holds true of the state’s child poverty rate. A 2018 report by VOICES for Alabama Children found that there were more children living in poverty in 2018 than in 2000. About 26.5% of children in Alabama live in poverty, including about 30% of children under the age of 5.

Alabama is also one of the most food insecure states in the country, with more than 16% of the population struggling to afford food. This means that more than one in five children grow up hungry. The problem, as Hunger Free America CEO Joel Berg explained to Alabama Today, has much to do with the state’s lack of a minimum wage, instead abiding by the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

“It’s no surprise that we again found that states with higher minimum wages have less hunger among working people and states with lower minimum wages had more hunger among working people,” he said.

Exacerbating the situation are recent drops in food stamp recipients, thanks to the expiration of a federal waiver that allowed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to be exempt from work requirements. Now, all able-bodied SNAP recipients between the ages of 18 and 49 who aren’t raising children must have at least a part-time job to qualify for benefits. Last year, 38,000 Alabamians lost eligibility to food stamps.

Alabama consistently ranks as one of the worst states when it comes to public education. The state’s per pupil funding of $9,497 is significantly lower than the national average of about $11,400. Similarly, Alabama has done little to enact regulations for childcare services, allowing hundreds of child care centers to claim a religious exemption from licensing, even as child injuries and deaths at unlicensed centers have garnered attention over the past few years.

The average family in Alabama has a tough time affording child care, as the cost of taking care of one infant demands 11% of a family’s income. Research by the Economic Policy Institute found that this cost is “out of reach for low-wage workers.”

Making matters worse, Alabama does not have a statewide paid family leave policy. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, “This means Alabamians face impossible choices when new children are born or adopted and when serious personal or family health needs inevitably arise.”   

https://thinkprogress.org/alabama-governor-kay-ivey-abortion-sanctity-life-infant-mortality-8d9f9bb3de1e/

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Arkansas passes law allowing rapists to prevent victims who want an abortion
« Reply #12755 on: May 18, 2019, 05:00:19 AM »
Activists say state's blanket ban on the safest form of second trimester abortion could be ruled unconstitutional

A pregnant woman's husband will have the power to stop her from having an abortion, even in cases of spousal rape, under a new law introduced in the US state of Arkansas. 

Most second trimester abortions will also be banned by Act 45 - the Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act - which will make it possible for husbands to sue doctors who carry out abortions for civil damages, or get an injunction to block the termination.

The pro-life law, which was pushed through in just two months by the state's Republican government, prohibits all dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedures, in which the physician removes the foetus from the womb with surgical tools.

This is despite 683 of Arkansas's 3,771 abortions being D&E in 2015, according to the state's health department. 

A clause in the legislation also states the husband of a woman seeking an abortion, if he is presumed to be the baby's father, can file a civil lawsuit against the physician for monetary damages or "injunctive relief" ― a court order that would prevent the doctor from going ahead with the procedure.

The woman’s parents or legal guardians can also sue to stop the abortion, if she is a minor.

Although a husband cannot win money in cases of “criminal conduct” against his wife ― namely, spousal rape ― he could still sue to block her from having the abortion.

State Representative Andy Mayberry, who co-sponsored the bill, called D&E a “gruesome, barbaric procedure”, adding that the routine procedure “is one that no civilised society should embrace”.

Mr Mayberry is also the president of Arkansas Right to Life, a subsidiary of America's largest pro-life organisation, the National Right to Life Committee.

Karen Musick, co-founder of Arkansas Abortion Support Network, told The Daily Beast she could not fathom how the bill had become law.

“There is zero part of me that understands why a rapist or someone who got someone pregnant against their will, maybe incest, would have any right in that decision,” she said. “I cannot wrap my brain around the fact that there would be anyone who thinks otherwise.”

Holly Dickson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, told the Huffington Post the bill might not be constitutional.

“They created a whole new right ― the right of a husband or family member to sue a doctor on behalf of an adult patient,” she said. “I cannot begin to tell you what the intent was, but we have raised concerns about that provision and the entire rest of the bill, which is unconstitutional.”

The ACLU of Arkansas has said it plans to challenge the abortion law in court before it goes into effect later this year.

Six other states have passed nearly identical laws, and in all four states where the law was challenged ― Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and West Virginia ― it was struck down by the courts.

The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe versus Wade protects a woman’s right to have an abortion up until the foetus would be viable outside the womb, around 22 weeks of pregnancy.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/arkansas-abortion-law-that-will-let-rapists-sue-victims-husbands-second-trimester-a7561066.html?utm_source=reddit.com
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All modes of severe weather will be possible through the weekend as a vigorous storm system plows into the central United States, threatening at least 18 states and over 40 million residents. Large hail, tornadoes, life-threatening flash flooding and damaging winds could be unleashed by the severe thunderstorms.

There were over 30 preliminary tornado reports in Nebraska and Kansas on Friday and Friday night, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Storm Prediction Center (SPC). These twisters were spawned by two separate violent storms, known as supercells, that tracked for hundreds of miles.

The multi-day severe weather outbreak first got underway Thursday across the parts of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. Wind gusts of 86 mph were recorded in Washington, Iowa, while hail the size of baseballs fell in Westville, Illinois. A tornado was reported in Sheridan, Illinois, about 50 miles southwest of downtown Chicago. No injuries were reported.


9 more pictures

More powerful thunderstorms erupted across the central U.S. on Friday afternoon from western Texas through Nebraska. The strongest of the storms focused on central Nebraska, spinning up several large tornadoes.

Around 5:45 p.m. CDT, a tornado was reported near McCook, Nebraska. SPC reported tree and power line damage along with minor damage to a farm. As the storm tracked northeast, is spun up two tornadoes near Farnam, Nebraska around 7:26 p.m. CDT.

Later in the evening, a tornado was reported near Dodge City, Kansas, tracking just southeast of the city.

AccuWeather Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer was reporting from Nebraska for the AccuWeather Network and intercepted a tornado on foot near McCook, losing his hat in the process.

“Tornado Alley is certainly waking up with significant severe weather," Timmer said while breaking down the multi-day outbreak. Earlier this week, he said this is the worst setup for severe weather he has seen in years.

Meanwhile, Blake Naftel, AccuWeather video journalist, intercepted a tornado near the border of Kansas and Oklahoma on Friday evening.

The severe weather setup will be similar on Saturday, but will shift a little farther east. Severe thunderstorms are likely in an expansive area Saturday into Saturday night from central Iowa, much of Missouri and Kansas, eastern Arkansas, Oklahoma and northern and central Texas. Major metro areas like Dallas, Oklahoma City, Kansas City and Des Moines are at risk on Saturday.

By Sunday, the threat for damaging storms will continue to push eastward into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.

Download the free AccuWeather app to stay alert to severe storm and tornado warnings in your area. Keep checking back for updates on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/dozens-of-tornadoes-reported-in-nebraska-kansas-as-severe-weather-slams-central-us/70008303
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War with Iran, so soon after invading Iraq on false pretenses?
« Reply #12757 on: May 18, 2019, 05:23:11 AM »

The U.S. aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, shown on May 8, is part of a group of ships being sent to the Persian Gulf, ratcheting up pressure on Iran.



To the editor: With drumbeats for war against Iran coming from Washington, those of us who recall how we entered two fraudulently and tragically failed wars during the past 55 years cannot help being concerned by alarming echoes of past disasters.

The bogus Gulf of Tonkin attack set off a full-scale war in Vietnam in 1964, and contrived evidence of Iraqi nuclear weapons development resulted in the 2003 invasion. We must not repeat this by launching an attack on the Iranians based on suspicious claims of the danger they pose to the United States and its allies.

President Trump could well benefit by starting a conflict and diverting our attention from the investigations into his administration, the failure of his trade war with China, and the declining prospects for his reelection in 2020. He has a willing accomplice in national security advisor John Bolton, who downplays the value of diplomacy and has rarely seen an adversary he didn’t want to go to war against.

For the sake of our young men and women, our nation’s integrity and our international credibility, we must say no to the hawks in Washington who threaten other people’s lives to achieve their own political goals.

Bill Hessell, Culver City

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/readersreact/la-ol-le-iran-war-trump-bolton-20190518-story.html
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No longer in the dark: Navajo Nation homes get electricity
« Reply #12758 on: May 19, 2019, 04:54:08 AM »


KAIBETO, Ariz. (AP) — Miranda Haskie sits amid the glow of candles at her kitchen table as the sun sinks into a deep blue horizon silhouetting juniper trees and a nearby mesa.

Her husband, Jimmie Long, Jr., fishes for the wick to light a kerosene lamp as the couple and their 13-year-old son prepare to spend a final night without electricity.

They're waiting for morning, when utility workers who recently installed four electric poles outside their double-wide house trailer will connect it to the power grid, meaning they will no longer be among the tens of thousands of people without power on the Navajo Nation, the country's largest American Indian reservation.

Haskie and Long are getting their electricity this month thanks to a project to connect 300 homes with the help of volunteer utility crews from across the U.S.

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority typically connects from 400 to 450 homes a year, chipping away at the 15,000 scattered, rural homes without power on the 27,000-square-mile (43,000-square-kilometer) reservation that lies in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

At that rate, it will take the tribal utility about 35 more years to get electricity to the 60,000 of the reservation's 180,000 residents who don't have it.

The couple's home at the end of rutted dirt roads outside the small town of Kaibeto was about a quarter-mile (0.4 kilometers) from the closest power line. Life disconnected from the grid in the high desert town dotted with canyons and mesas was simple and joyful but also inconvenient, they said.

"It's not that bad. Growing up, you get used to it, being raised like that," Long said.

The family's weekday routine included showering, cooking and charging cellphones, battery packs and flashlights at Haskie's mother's house 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) away, down dirt roads that turn treacherous in stormy weather.

Navajos without electricity also pack food or medication in coolers with ice or leave it outside in the wintertime. Children use dome lights in cars or kerosene lamps to do their homework at night. Some tribal members have small solar systems that deliver intermittent power.

No electricity typically means no running water and a lack of overall economic development. Creating the infrastructure to reach the far-flung homes on the reservation is extremely costly.

Hooking up a single home can cost up to $40,000 on the reservation where the annual, per-capita income is around $10,700 and half the workforce is unemployed, said Walter Haase, general manager of the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority.

For the recent power hookup project called LightUpNavajo, the utility raised funds from an online campaign, collected donations from employees, businesses and communities, and used revenue from solar farms on the reservation to cover the utility's $3 million cost. Money that isn't raised will be borrowed and the repayment passed on to customers via their rates, Haase said. The project started in March and ends this month.

The volunteer crews spent days on the reservation, learning about Navajo culture, the language and the landscape before setting out to job sites often hours away from their hotel rooms. Tribal utility crews had already performed much of the prep work, removing trees or stumps so the volunteers could focus on installing power poles and miles of electric line to connect homes.

A four-man crew from Piqua, Ohio, weathered rain, dust storms and sandy terrain that threatened to bury their equipment as they traveled through the western part of the reservation in Arizona earlier this month. They heard from families who have waited months, years and a lifetime to get power. Navajos showed their appreciation to the crews with feasts of fry bread, steaks and steamed corn.

"It's kind of crazy to think about the different things you take for granted on a daily basis," said Ken Wagner, a journeyman lineman for Piqua Power System. At an appreciation dinner, his crew received gifts of posters with traditional Navajo sayings, turquoise jewelry, shirts and mugs.

Among those getting electricity hookups were Vernon Smith and his wife, Bertha. They live in Salt Lake City but are preparing their home in Tuba City on the reservation for a move back. They became set on getting electricity when a kerosene lamp tipped over while she was napping and she feared the house would burn down.

The wait for electricity took three years, but Vernon Smith called that "a miracle."

"I couldn't believe it," he said in an interview, his face lighting up as recalled seeing the whirling blades of a ceiling fan in his reservation home for the first time. "I didn't think I was going to get electricity that fast."

Haskie said she could live without electricity but that it's also exciting getting it.

"I can walk in, turn the light on without my son turning on the generator," she said.

She's crafted a wish list that includes a blender, a coffee maker, a juice maker, a stand-up mixer and an espresso machine. Eventually, she'll subscribe to cable TV.

The couple's son, Jayden, said he managed fine without power — using portable chargers for his cellphone. Some days, he fired up a gas generator that was hooked up to the home's electric panel to watch TV or turn on the light in his bedroom.

But the generator's 5-gallon (19-liter) tank lasted less than a day and the cost of fuel meant it was used sparingly and mostly on the weekends.

He's looked forward to taking eggs, bacon, steak, pork chops and hamburgers out of a refrigerator to cook whenever he wants.

As of Thursday, the LightUpNavajo project hooked up 208 homes. Crews from 26 utilities in 12 states traveled to the reservation to help, installing 1,500 power line poles and more than 35 miles (56 kilometers) of electric lines.

The project was designed with a $125,000 grant from the American Public Power Association. Mark Hyland, an association senior vice president, said the group and the tribal utility will consider repeating it on the Navajo Nation, or using it as a model for other reservations or rural areas.

On the morning that Haskie's and Long's home got power, journeyman lineman Justin Foutz with the Piqua utility slipped on a pair of gloves and grabbed an extendable, yellow tool to close a switch atop the utility pole and send power to the home.

"Coming in hot," he said.

A few minutes later, electrician Delbert Graham knocked on the trailer's door.

"Hey, you're energized," he said. "Go ahead and turn on your main breaker."

Using a flashlight inside the darkened house, Long flipped on the breaker, turned on the home's porch light and opened the door with a smile.

Then the crew loaded up their utility trucks and headed toward the small community of Coppermine, about an hour's drive down the next dirt road, to connect more homes.

https://www.abc15.com/news/state/no-longer-in-the-dark-navajo-nation-homes-get-electricity
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Trump Batting 0.00 On Trade
« Reply #12759 on: May 19, 2019, 05:00:30 AM »
Two-and-a-half years into his presidency, Donald Trump’s batting average on trade is 0.00. And that appears unlikely to change any time soon.


U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the National Association of Realtors Legislative Meeting and Trade Expo in Washington,  May 17. The U.S. will lift steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico in favor of stronger enforcement actions, in a move that will help clear the way for ratification of the new NAFTA.

His NAFTA revision, which he named the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA, awaits congressional approval, but House democrats are disinclined to give it to him. They say its enforcement language isn’t strong enough and that the Trump administration should re-convene negotiations with Canada and Mexico to strengthen them. To that prospect, Canada and Mexico have said: forget about it.

Trump threw a wrench into his hoped-for trade agreement with the European Union by agreeing to limit negotiations to non-automotive industrial goods, then reneging on that and insisting that agriculture be put on the table as well. E.U. officials have said repeatedly that that is out of the question. They’re also angry about his threat to impose a 25% tariff on European car imports, based on the absurd premise that they threaten U.S. national security. Do American cars threaten the national security of countries to which they’re exported?

Trump was to say on Thursday whether he would go ahead with the 25% car tariffs. He said instead that he would hold them in abeyance for six months. That may sound conciliatory, but EU officials probably see it as a threat: either come to terms with us within six months or we hit you with punitive tariffs.

Trump said he was close to a trade deal with China, but then China raised objections to certain U.S. conditions, such as leaving some tariffs in place even after the agreement takes effect. Trump said the Chinese initially agreed to these conditions, then backed away from them. They deny that. Whatever the truth is, another round of tariff increases by both sides is in the offing.

Perhaps owing to these failures, the Trump administration is hoping for a quick agreement with Japan on a bilateral trade agreement. But his threat to impose a 25% tariff on auto imports from Japan, which has no car tariff, has not endeared him to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He has said he wouldn’t agree to a deal with the U.S. until after the country holds elections for the upper house of its legislature, the Diet, in July. If the two governments sign an agreement in August, which is unlikely, Congress won’t vote on it until next year, if at all. Historically, Congress has been reticent to vote on trade agreements during election years.

What we can glean from all of this is that Trump’s bellicose, gun-to-the-head negotiating style isn’t working. No one likes to be threatened. No one likes to be presented with a list of demands by a negotiating partner who offers little or nothing in return. No one likes negotiating with an adversary who is mercurial and unpredictable. No one sympathizes when the richest country on earth claims to be taken advantage of by its closest allies.

The United States had a trade agreement with Japan as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the Obama administration negotiated and signed, but Trump tore that up during his first week in office. He called it “the rape of our country,” although it’s not clear that he ever even read it. Japan and the 10 other TPP parties ratified it without the United States and now American farmers and exporting industries are on the outside looking in. They wanted it badly.

The Obama administration and the E.U. were negotiating a trade agreement, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Granted, the two sides were still miles apart when Obama left office, but a more rational president than Trump, i.e., not Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, might have continued negotiating.

Now, farmers are filing for bankruptcy. Workers throughout the U.S. auto industry – from factory floor to showroom – are scared they’re about to lose their jobs. Walmart and other retailers are raising their prices because of Trump’s tariff war. The only benefit that Trump can point to is that tariff income is pouring into the Treasury.

Whom does that help?

Trump is like a third baseman who boots a ground ball, allowing three runs to score, which put the other team ahead. Now it’s the ninth inning and Trump is at the plate with the bases loaded, desperately hoping to hit a grand slam to atone for his error and win the game.

The odds are not in his favor.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrinkley/2019/05/18/trump-batting-0-00-on-trade/#e543e9214022
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The region regularly suffers from devastating spell of drought .

 Strong and sustainable socio-economic development could reduce vulnerability to climate change and ensure resilience.

Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has published the draft national climate change adaptation strategy (NCCAS) for public comment in the Government Gazette, her department said on Sunday.

“The adaptation strategy has been developed in line with South Africa’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change to introduce measures to adapt to the effects of climate change, while achieving the stabilisation of greenhouse gas emissions and limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celcius,” the department said in a statement.

The development of the strategy was central towards attaining the national climate change response policy objective of effectively managing the inevitable climate change impacts through interventions that built and sustained South Africa’s social, economic, and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity, it said.

There was evidence that extreme weather events in South Africa were increasing, with heat wave conditions found to be more likely, dry spell durations lengthening slightly, and rainfall intensity increasing. Increases in annual-average near-surface temperatures were projected to occur over large parts of South Africa, including the western interior and northern parts of South Africa.

Climate zones across the country were already shifting, ecosystems and landscapes were being degraded, veld fires were becoming more frequent, and overused natural terrestrial and marine systems were under stress, the department said.

“South Africa is therefore taking immediate action in planning for, and responding to intensified climate change impacts. In particular, urgent action in respect of managing water resources in a changing climate, planning for the potential impact on agricultural production, and ensuring that local governments are able to anticipate and reduce the risk of extreme events (such as floods and droughts) on human settlements.”

There was increasing international recognition that strong and sustainable socio-economic development could reduce vulnerability to climate change and ensure resilience. Adaptation to climate change presented South Africa with an opportunity to transform the economy, strengthen the social and spatial fabric, and become and build a climate resilient society.

The NCCAS provided a common vision of climate change adaptation and climate resilience for the country, and outlined priority areas for achieving this vision, the department said.

Members of the public or organisations were invited to submit written inputs and comments within 30 days of publication of the notice in the Gazette to: The Director General, Department of Environmental Affairs, Attention: Mr Sibonelo Mbanjwa, Private Bag X447, Pretoria, 0001.

https://citizen.co.za/news/south-africa/government/2132451/draft-national-climate-change-adaptation-strategy-open-for-public-comment/
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The GOP Is on the Road to Mass Lockups for Women Who Have Miscarriages
« Reply #12761 on: May 19, 2019, 05:17:58 AM »
The GOP’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice is on its way.

During Mike Pence’s first year as governor of Indiana, his state put a young woman in prison for having a miscarriage, alleging that she’d taken an abortion-causing drug. Purvi Patel didn’t have a trace of such a drug in her system, but Pence’s state sentenced her to 20 years in prison anyway. Just a few years earlier, Indiana had also held Bei Bei Shuai for 435 days in the brutal maximum security Marion County prison, facing 45 years to life for trying to kill herself and, in the process, causing the death of her 33-week fetus.

Utah charged 28-year-old Melissa Ann Rowland with murder because she refused a C-section, preferring vaginal birth for her twins, and one of them died. Sixteen-year-old Rennie Gibbs was charged by the state of Mississippi with “depraved heart murder” when her baby was born dead because his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck: her crime was that she had cocaine in her bloodstream, according to prosecutors. Angela Carder was ordered to have a C-section to deliver her baby before she died of cancer; both she and the baby died from the procedure.

These cases have exploded in recent years, as the GOP and the nation’s law enforcement system have embraced the American “Christian” version of fundamentalist Islamic law which dictates that women are the property of men and their principal purpose for existence is reproduction.

According to Duke University’s Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, there were 413 documented—and probably thousands of lesser-known—cases of women being prosecuted for having miscarriages or attempting abortions between the time Roe v. Wade became the law of the land and 2005.

Between 2005 and 2014, the Guttmacher Institute documented another 380 cases.

Georgia just passed a law, signed by Republican Brian Kemp (the man who ran his own election against Stacey Abrams), which puts any woman in that state who has a miscarriage at risk of 30 years in prison or even the death penalty. Other states are in line, and in those states, like Georgia, with the death penalty, many are proposing legislation to put women who have abortions to death.

And we know what happens when abortion is totally banned. Romania, with a population slightly smaller than Florida, banned abortion (although, unlike Alabama, they allowed a provision for rape, incest, and congenital abnormalities) in 1966.

While wealthy Romanian women were still able to get abortions by traveling to other nearby nations, that option was not available to poor women. At least 10,000 women died of botched illegal abortions (that’s the official number; the real number is probably 10 times that) before Nicolae Ceaușescu was deposed and the law was repealed.

Few families were spared; maternal death was higher than any other country in Europe by a factor of ten and poverty exploded.

When the country was opened to the world, over 170,000 children were found languishing in brutal orphanages, ignored, emaciated and handcuffed to cribs. Nobody knows how many died in the decades before that.

When Nicolae Ceaușescu was deposed in 1989, his own soldiers gleefully machine-gunned him and his wife to death. The same penalty Georgia would inflict on its women who get abortions.

Given that one out of four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, laws like Georgia’s and Alabama’s may well require a substantial addition to our police systems.

Who is going to monitor all those pregnancies, and examine the women and the remains of their miscarriages to make sure there wasn’t a drug or self-inflicted injury involved?

Who is going to make sure that women who are pregnant are immediately brought to the attention of the authorities if they’re reluctant to do so themselves?

When Governor Mike Pence proudly signed Indiana’s abortion restrictions in 2016, women across the state noted that it required that miscarried fetuses (along with aborted fetuses) be “interred [buried in a cemetery] or cremated,” no matter whether the pregnancy was six or sixteen weeks along when the miscarriage happened.

It led to a movement across the state called “Periods for Pence,” in which women tweeted or called the governor’s office to tell him when their periods had started and ended, so the state wouldn’t mistake a normal menstrual period for a miscarriage.

The press treated it as funny at the time; nobody’s laughing now.

The Republicans could borrow the name from Saudi Arabia for their police who scour the streets looking for badly behaving women; the “Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice” would hire a few million upright “Christian” men who would each take responsibility for monitoring the menstrual cycles of 50 or 100 women.

Like in Saudi Arabia, it would be a real job-creator, boosting the economy while ensuring public morality.

Thanks to the internet, each woman who’s the ward of a particular commissioner could use modern technology to keep it all simple; like the Saudi Absher app that women use in that country to obtain a man’s permission to leave the house or date, American women could simply swipe “period started” and “period finished normally” when those events happen.

This way, the commissioners could limit the unpleasant work of physically checking women’s uteruses or showing up with a pregnancy test to only once a year (more frequently for “high-risk” women, less frequently for “low-risk” ones).

No doubt Facebook could help out with a handy algorithm based on women’s online activity.

My wife Louise and I have had three children and one miscarriage, which was an emotionally gutting experience. It pains me to even write this article, and particularly to present the idea above.

But if the GOP keeps going down this road, this very well may be where we end up.

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/node/84819
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The SAT’s Bogus ‘Adversity Score’
« Reply #12762 on: May 19, 2019, 06:02:57 AM »
Are we really going to rank students on a one-to-100 pseudoscientific index of oppression?

Between my freshman and senior years of high school in the late ’90s, my father spent his evenings, weekends and vacations drilling my best friend and me for our SATs. My father was born black in the 1930s in the segregated South and became the first member of his family to go to college, let alone graduate school. These were lean years for my family, and my white mother had to return to work after decades as a homemaker. We just managed to rent a small house on the white side of our de facto segregated New Jersey suburb.

My best friend, who was black and Puerto Rican and attended parochial school with me, commuted from a less affluent and more ethnically diverse neighborhood where his parents, who did not have graduate degrees and were divorced but frequently living together and pooling resources, were upwardly mobile homeowners. When the time came to take the test, I scored higher, though my friend did well enough to attend a selective four-year college, where he flourished, eventually moving on to the Ivy League and Wall Street. Both of us worked hard, had some advantages — namely highly supportive and involved parents — and were able to succeed despite being members of a historically oppressed demographic.

I thought of those long hard hours studying at the dinner table when I heard on Thursday that the College Board, the company that administers the SAT, was appending an “adversity index” to aptitude scores — essentially a handicap to standardize “privilege.”

This “overall disadvantage level” will appear on something the College Board is calling an “environmental context dashboard.” It incorporates demographic and census data to profile high school students along a scale, from one to 100, of relative poverty, opportunity and achievement on the SAT in relation to their classmates. A score north of 50 indicates adversity; below that threshold lies privilege. Colleges will see this number, but students will not.

Though there are a near infinitude of ways both explicit and subtle to experience challenges in life, the adversity index will restrict itself to just three categories: neighborhood environment (including factors like crime and poverty rates and housing values); family environment (the income, education and marriage status of parents and whether they speak English); and high school environment (aspects like the free lunch rate and rigor of the curriculum).

Discarding high school environment and race, which were the same for both me and my best friend, by these metrics, he would almost certainly have received an adversity bump relative to me because his home was in a poorer neighborhood and, like many of his neighbors, his parents at the time weren’t married. His mother often spoke Spanish at home, so he may have been counted as coming from an English as a Second Language household (an indicator of adversity even though Asian students born to immigrant parents often outperform upper-middle-class white Americans on standardized testing). And while we’d both benefited from his tutelage and presence in our lives, I alone would have been penalized for my father’s dogged educational attainment. That my family lived, albeit precariously, on the white side of town would have been a further demerit.

Yet exactly what constitutes privilege and disadvantage can be counterintuitive: There is no metric to take into account the casual racism that I had to navigate in my neighborhood, a difficulty I was keenly aware friends of mine on the more socially cohesive and nurturing black side of town were often able to avoid.

No two lives are commensurate and not all adversity can be taken into account. But the College Board is attempting to dictate which forms matter and which do not. It cannot — and does not — attempt to assess the mental toll of being called a “monkey” on your walk home, or of living through the premature death of a parent or sibling. It will not capture the texture of life with an educated but alcoholic or emotionally abusive parent.

And so the dehumanizing message of the new adversity index is that America’s young people are nothing but interchangeable sociological points of data — and the jagged complexity of an individual life somehow can be sanded down, quantified and fairly contrasted.
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As the recent admissions scandals at Yale, the University of Southern California and other colleges have demonstrated, the rich and entitled enjoy an astonishing array of ways to game the system, and aptitude tests are far from perfect.

It is for this reason and others that universities rely on a cocktail of broader considerations — most likely including any and all of the factors on the College Board’s index. Though the adversity index uses proxies, “The purpose is to get to race without using race,” said Anthony Carnevale, the director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce who previously worked for the College Board, in The Wall Street Journal.

The college admissions system already takes into account racial identity. Thus, whatever one’s views on affirmative action, this new score introduces an inscrutable redundancy — one that cannot be disputed or appealed.

Like my father, I used to believe that hard work and mastery of a standardized exam was the fairest way for students like me to compete with those who had far more resources. We put our faith in the one thing that was in our control. That the College Board will now manipulate the outcome with no transparency is a chilling step in the wrong direction. It reifies overly simplistic notions of difference that fall apart under scrutiny (Nigerian immigrants have the highest levels of education in the nation), and codifies the patronizing fallacy that demographics are destiny.

The more difficult truth is that a genuinely equitable society requires greater educational opportunities being extended to poor and disadvantaged children long before an adversity rating can be applied as a Band-Aid on their college applications.

Yet in retrospect it seems inevitable that the social media-fueled rhetoric of comparative fragility has careened here, to a pseudoscientific index of oppression. No matter how well meaning the intentions, we have been conditioning ourselves to interpret the world exclusively through the overlapping lenses of race — or its euphemisms — and privilege. But one of the most valuable gifts a liberal arts education can offer is the jarring and ultimately liberating realization that differences in money and social background do not, and cannot, explain everything.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/17/opinion/sat-adversity-score.html
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Rare 'blue flower moon' will appear in Saturday night's sky
« Reply #12763 on: May 19, 2019, 05:37:27 PM »


 May's full moon is typically known as the flower moon because of all the blooms this month. This year it coincides with a rare occurrence: a blue moon.

Of course, Saturday's moon won't actually be blue. And the reason for the name is a little confusing.

A blue moon is the second of two full moons in a month -- but it can also be the third of four full moons during a single season. In this case, it's the third of four full moons this spring. These don't occur as often as two full moons in a month.

"The name 'Blue Moon' has nothing to do with the color of the Moon," Gianluca Masi, astrophysicist and director of the Virtual Telescope Project in Rome, wrote in an email. "Every two to three years we have 13 full Moons within a year. This way, we can have four full Moons during a given season or two full Moons in a given month."

This is the last seasonal blue moon until August 2021.

Very rarely, both types of blue moons happen in one year; this will occur in 2048, including a monthly blue moon in January and a seasonal one in August.

Sometimes, the moon can actually appear blue during certain sky conditions, but it can't be predicted.

So, on Saturday, enjoy the sight of the beautiful moon with some appreciation for what it means. And to see a dramatic full moon over the Rome skyline, watch the live stream provided by the Virtual Telescope Project.

https://www.kktv.com/content/news/Rare-blue-flower-moon-will-appear-in-Saturday-nights-sky-510114801.html
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SOUTH BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET/CNN) - The family of an 8-year-old girl has filed a claim against a California school district after a dog visiting the girl’s classroom reportedly bit and cut open the right side of her face.

Leilani Rivera, 8, received stitches after she was bitten by a dog at school on May 9. The little girl’s lip was split open down to her chin, and a gash on her cheek cut through the muscle. Since the attack, she has only been able to eat and drink out of a syringe, according to her aunt, Andrea Gonzalez.

Attorneys have filed a lawsuit on behalf of Leilani’s family against the Bakersfield City School District and Kern County Superintendent of Schools, claiming both organizations failed to supervise two dogs that visited Leilani’s second grade class at Wayside Elementary School.


Leilani Rivera, 8, received stitches after she was bitten by a dog at school on May 9. Since the attack, she has only been able to eat and drink out of a syringe, according to her aunt.



A volunteer reader named Ann Ardell brought the dogs, believed to be either Chows or Akitas, and invited students to pet them. But when Leilani tried to hug one of them, she says the dog attacked.

"I tried to lean in for a hug, and the dog just bit me on the face,” Leilani said. "I was crying, and it was really painful."

Leilani’s family fears her scars will last a lifetime. They are calling for a policy where dogs are banned from classrooms.

"I just want to see a change… and to make sure that this doesn't happen to any other child,” Gonzalez said.

Family attorney Matthew Clark says the case serves as a warning to school officials and parents on allowing animals near students on school campuses. It’s unclear why Ardell brought the dogs May 9, as she had previously visited without them, he says.

"You never expect the dog to bite somebody. Dogs are unpredictable,” Clark said.

Due to their reputations for aggression, both Chows and Akitas are backlisted from homeowners’ insurance policies in California.

“Under the laws in California, if you own a dog and it bites somebody, you are strictly liable – period. There's not a question of ‘Did you act reasonably?’ or ‘Was it negligent?’ The law doesn't even consider that,” Clark said.

The family’s claim does not list a specific dollar amount but is designated as “unlimited,” meaning exceeding $25,000. It says the family has incurred "substantial" medical bills to treat Leilani's injuries.

The school district issued a written statement saying officials immediately sought medical attention for Leilani after the incident. They also began an investigation into what happened.

Police say the dog that bit Leilani was quarantined by animal control and released May 11.

https://www.live5news.com/2019/05/19/year-olds-girl-lip-cheek-torn-open-attack-by-dog-visiting-calif-classroom/
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