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Updated: 6 days 34 min ago

U.S. Stocks Fall Broadly Ahead Of Key Fed Decision On Rates

Tue, 09/20/2022 - 16:39

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Stocks fell broadly in midday trading on Wall Street Tuesday ahead of a key decision on interest rates by the Federal Reserve.

The S&P 500 index fell 1% as of 11:46 a.m. Eastern. More than 90% of stocks and every sector in the benchmark index lost ground as traders wait to see how far the Fed will raise interest rates at its meeting that ends Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 312 points, or 1%, to 30,706 and the Nasdaq fell 0.5%.

U.S. crude oil prices fell 2.1% and weighed down energy stocks. Hess fell 1.7%.

Bond yields edged higher. The yield on the 2-year Treasury, which tends to follow expectations for Fed action, rose to 3.97% from 3.95% late Monday and is hovering around its highest levels since 2007.

The 10-year yield, which influences mortgage rates, rose to 3.57% from 3.52% and is trading at its highest levels since 2011.

Stocks have been slumping and Treasury yields rising as the Fed raises the cost of borrowing money in hopes of slowing down the hottest inflation in four decades. The central bank's aggressive rate hikes have been making markets jittery, especially as Fed officials assert their determination to keep raising rates until they are sure inflation is coming under control.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell bluntly warned in a speech last month that the rate hikes would "bring some pain."

"He has done everything he possibly can to signal that it's going to be another aggressive move," said Liz Young, head of investment strategy at SoFi. "He's been clear as a bell about what they've been focused on."

SEE MORE: Powell: Fed Could Keep Lifting Rates Sharply 'For Some Time'

The Fed is expected to raise its key short-term rate by a substantial three-quarters of a point for the third time at its meeting on Wednesday. That would lift its benchmark rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, to a range of 3% to 3.25%, the highest level in 14 years, and up from zero at the start of the year.

Wall Street is worried that the rate hikes could go too far in slowing economic growth and push the economy into a recession. Those concerns have been heightened by data showing that the U.S. economy is already slowing and by companies warning about the impact of inflation and supply chain problems to their operations.

Ford fell 9.6% after slashing its third-quarter earnings forecast because a parts shortage will leave it with as many as 45,000 vehicles unfinished on its lots when the quarter ends Sept. 30. Last week, FedEx and General Electric warned investors about damage to their operations from inflation.

The U.S. isn't alone in suffering from hot inflation or dealing with the impact of efforts to fight high prices.

Sweden's central bank on Tuesday raised its key interest rate by a full percentage point to 1.75%, catching almost everyone off guard as it scrambles to bring down inflation that was measured at 9% in August.

Consumer inflation in Japan jumped in August to 3%, its highest level since November 1991 but well below the 8% plus readings in the U.S. and Europe. The Bank of Japan is set to have a two-day monetary policy meeting later this week, although analysts expect the central bank to stick to its easy monetary policy.

Min Joo Kang, senior economist, South Korea and Japan, at ING Economics noted inflation remained relatively low in Japan. Energy prices were rising, but not as much as in the U.S. or some parts of Europe. Housing prices haven't risen and household income have remained stagnant.

Rate decisions from Norway, Switzerland and the Bank of England are next.

Markets in Europe were mostly lower, while markets in Asia gained ground

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Advocates, Patients Push For Mental Health Resources In Mississippi

Tue, 09/20/2022 - 16:37

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Melody Worsham is a mother, teacher and volunteer who says she's fought a 30-year battle with a disease that mental health professionals were supposed to help her with but instead left her feeling humiliated.  

"I live with PTSD, with psychotic features. And as soon as someone hears the word 'psychotic,' they think I am that person that's in some sneaky little dark closet and I'm doing some sneaky little back-channel thing on social media, and I'm about to pull out an AR-15 and get on the rooftop somewhere," she said. "I don't have a dangerous bone in my body ... It angers me so bad because it puts a barrier up to people asking for help because it's that automatic."

Worsham penned an open letter to the state's attorney general pointing to a 2016 Department of Justice lawsuit against the state of Mississippi for unnecessarily institutionalizing adults and children with mental health disabilities.  

A federal judge agreed there should be more community-based options.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness in Mississippi says even the state's big institutions weren't providing the help people needed.  

Sitaniel Wimbley is the executive director of NAMI Mississippi. 

"Prime example: A lot of the facilities are in bigger cities in the state. So, if you live in a rural area, you have to manage getting to the facility," she said. "Once you get there, you have to make sure you have an appointment. If you have an appointment, there has to be insurance. So, there's a lot of things that go into actually getting treatment." 

Now in 2022, the Magnolia State — known for catfish, cotton and Southern charm — is still trying to figure out how to provide patients with the necessary care closer to home.

The good news is changes are on the horizon. For starters, the state is taking full advantage of the new National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.  

"When someone calls 988, they will be either sent to an officer who has to come out — and their person should be trained to help with mental health — or a clinician can come out to that person's home to try to do an assessment," Wimbley said. "So, things like that are making a difference."

SEE MORE: Swedish Program Aims To Fight High Youth Suicide Rate In Montana

Another area program making strides is NAMI's Peer-to-Peer Program. Jessica James is one of the peers specialists in recovery who's helping others.

"We have people who live with the mental illness that are in recovery, that are able to help others in their recovery," she said. 

James is a longtime Mississippi resident who is proud of her accomplishments. She achieved her associate degree with honors, raised two successful kids and has been a peer support specialist with NAMI for eight years. 

For James, it was a long path to get to where she is today.  

"I really didn't know what was going on with me until it was 2014," she said. 

James says she suffers from anxiety, depression. 

"I also was told that I may have a little PTSD as well," she continued.

James recalls one tough day on a job she loved. She'd been missing work but couldn't muster the strength to get out of bed.

"I would have a boost of energy at times," she said. "But then, all of a sudden, it just seemed like my whole world just went and crashed down." 

A supervisor called her in an after seeing her doctor's note  

James says the supervisor dialed the number to make sure the note was real. It was devastating for her.

"I'm seeing her do this in front of me ... I felt like I'm being punished for me being sick and like she didn't care," she said.

That hopeless feeling didn't last long, though. She remembered seeing the NAMI promotion table at a health fair she went to with her son. That led to a partnership between the two. 

As a peer, James now helps others push through the mental health issues she faced.

Worsham is also a peer support specialist. Newsy caught up with her during work at the Mental Health Association of South Mississippi.  

"This isn't about looking at a disease," she said. "It's not what's wrong with you, it's what's strong with you. That's our focus with our people."

She says the program isn't what you would call "clinical." It's actually unique because there are no psychiatrists or licensed therapists involved, and it's voluntary.

"There's no one-size-fits-all model. And that's something that those of us with lived experience, we do understand," Worsham said. "We are about sitting down and exploring that with you and finding out what your pathway is and what's going to work. And it might be a Franken-program, you know, you do a little 12-step thing here, or you might have some spiritual thing going on, and then you need a drop-in, you know, meditation."

SEE MORE: Curbing People With Mental Illness Away From Jail

A 2019 report by Mental Health America says peer support specialists lower the cost of mental health services and help reduce the rate of hospital recidivism.  

The National Institute for Health Research also found people receiving peer support lowered the risk of being hospitalized by 14% and significantly increased recovery. 

"The state of Mississippi is now starting to focus on it a little bit more and make sure that peer specialists are in every county," Wimbley said. "I think last year, there were 164 trained to be peer specialists across the state. And then some of those, I want to say between 10 and 12, were actually in jail systems. So, they can now lead others through their mental health journey and say, 'It's OK not to be OK."

As the Magnolia State tries to grow its mental health programs to satisfy the Department of Justice, mental health advocates are helping to cultivate the Peer-to-Peer program to provide help to those in need.  

Newsy’s mental health initiative “America’s Breakdown: Confronting Our Mental Health Crisis” brings you deeply personal and thoughtfully told stories on the state of mental health care in the U.S. Click here to learn more.

4 Ukrainian Separatist Regions Plan Votes To Join Russia

Tue, 09/20/2022 - 15:47

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Russian-controlled regions of eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans Tuesday to start voting this week to become integral parts of Russia. The concerted and quickening Kremlin-backed efforts to swallow up four regions could set the stage for Moscow to escalate the war against Ukrainian forces successfully battling to wrest back territory.

The announcements of referendums starting Friday in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia regions came after a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin said votes were needed, as Moscow loses ground in the war that began nearly seven months ago.

Former President Dmitry Medvedev said folding regions into Russia itself would make redrawn frontiers “irreversible” and enable Moscow to use “any means” to defend them.

The votes, in territory Russia already controls, are expected with near-certainty to go Moscow’s way but are unlikely to be recognized by Western governments backing Ukraine with military and other support.

SEE MORE: Young American Fighting in Ukraine GoPros War From Trenches

Luhansk and Donetsk together form much of the Donbas region, which has been gripped by separatist fighting since 2014 and which Putin has set as a primary objective of the Russian invasion.

In Donetsk, separatist leader Denis Pushilin said the “long-suffering people of the Donbas have earned the right to be part of the great country that they always considered their motherland.”

He added that the vote will help “restore historic justice that millions of the Russian people were waiting for.”

Pressure within Russia and from Moscow-backed leaders in Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine for votes to pave their way to becoming Russian increased in the wake of a Ukrainian counteroffensive — bolstered by Western-supplied weaponry — that is recapturing large areas of previously Russian-occupied territory.

In another signal that Russia is digging in for a protracted and possibly ramped-up conflict, the Kremlin-controlled lower of house of parliament voted Tuesday to toughen laws against desertion, surrender and looting by Russian soldiers. Lawmakers also voted to introduce possible 10-year prison terms for soldiers refusing to fight. If approved, as expected, by the upper house and then signed by Putin, the legislation would strengthen commanders’ hands against failing morale reported among soldiers.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that there are no prospects for a diplomatic settlement. Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council chaired by Putin, said on his messaging app channel that votes in separatist regions are important to protect their residents and “restore historic justice" and would "completely change" Russia's future trajectory.

“After they are held and the new territories are taken into Russia’s fold, a geopolitical transformation of the world will become irreversible," said Medvedev, who served as Russia’s president from 2008-2012.

“An encroachment on the territory of Russia is a crime that would warrant any means of self-defense,” he said, adding that Russia would enshrine the new territories in its constitution so no future Russian leader could hand them back.

“That is why they fear those referendums so much in Kyiv and in the West,” Medvedev said. “That is why they must be held.”

SEE MORE: Ukraine's Fighters Share What They've Seen In Newly Retaken Territory

The recapturing of large areas of previously Russian-occupied territory, most notably in the northeastern Kharkiv region, has strengthened Ukraine's arguments that its troops could deliver more stinging defeats to Russia with additional armament deliveries.

More heavy weaponry is on its way, with Slovenia this week promising 28 tanks and Germany pledging four additional self-propelled howitzers. More aid also is expected from Britain, already one of Ukraine's biggest military backers after the United States. British Prime Minister Liz Truss is expected to promise that in 2023, her government will “match or exceed” the $2.7 billion in military aid given to Ukraine this year.

The swiftness of the Ukrainian counteroffensive also saw Russian forces abandon armored vehicles and other weapons as they beat hasty retreats. Ukrainian forces are recycling captured weaponry back into battle. A Washington-based think tank, The Institute for the Study of War, said Tuesday that abandoned Russian T-72 tanks are being used by Ukrainian forces seeking to push onward into Russian-occupied Luhansk.

In the counteroffensive's wake, Ukrainian officials found hundreds of graves near the once-occupied city of Izium. Yevhenii Yenin, a deputy minister in Ukraine’s Internal Affairs Ministry, told a national telecast that officials found many bodies “with signs of violent death."

“These are broken ribs and broken heads, men with bound hands, broken jaws and severed genitalia,” he said.

Ukrainian officials also have alleged Russian forces tortured people in occupied areas, including shocking them with radio telephones dating back to the Soviet era. Russia has repeatedly denied abusing or killing prisoners, though Ukrainian officials found mass graves around the city of Bucha after blunting a Russian offensive targeting the capital, Kyiv, at the start of the war.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian push continues in the south of the country. Ukraine’s southern military command said early Tuesday its troops sank a Russian barge carrying troops and weapons across the Dnipro River near the Russian-occupied city of Nova Kakhovka. It offered no other details on the sinking of the barge in the Russian-occupied Kherson region, which has been a major target in the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

With Brittney Griner In Jail, WNBA Players Skip Russia In Offseason

Tue, 09/20/2022 - 15:25

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Brittney Griner's highly publicized legal woes in Russia and the country's invasion of Ukraine have the top WNBA players opting to take their talents elsewhere this offseason.

For the past few decades, Russia has been the preferred offseason destination for WNBA players to compete because of the high salaries that can exceed $1 million and the resources and amenities teams offered them.

That all has come to an abrupt end.

"Honestly my time in Russia has been wonderful, but especially with BG still wrongfully detained there, nobody's going to go there until she's home," said Breanna Stewart, a Griner teammate on the Russian team that paid the duo millions. "I think that, you know, now, people want to go overseas and if the money is not much different, they want to be in a better place."

Griner was arrested in February, then detained and later convicted on drug possession charges amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Griner was sentenced last month to nine years in prison.

SEE MORE: Expert Talks About Effects Of Trauma On Detainees Like Griner, Whelan

Now, Stewart and other WNBA All-Stars, including Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot — who also have made millions of dollars playing in Russia — are going elsewhere this winter. All three played for Ekaterinburg, the same Russian team as Griner. That club won five EuroLeague titles in the past eight seasons and has been dominant for nearly two decades with former greats DeLisha Milton Jones and Diana Taurasi playing there.

Nearly a dozen WNBA players competed in Russia last winter and none of them are heading back this year.

After the World Cup tournament, Stewart is going to Turkey to play for Fenerbahçe. Top players can make a few hundred thousand dollars playing in Turkey, much less than their Russian salaries. Playing in Turkey also allows Stewart to be closer to her wife's family in Spain.

"You want to have a better lifestyle, a better off-the-court experience, and just continue to appreciate other countries," Stewart said.

Like Stewart, Vandersloot also isn't headed back to Russia, choosing to play in Hungary where she obtained citizenship in 2016.

"I am Hungarian. I thought it would be special since I haven't played there since I got the citizenship," Vandersloot said.

The 33-year-old guard said a lot would have to change before she'd ever consider going back to Russia to play even though she has many fond memories of the Russian people.

"The thing about it is, we were treated so well by our club and made such strong relationships with those people, I would never close the door on that," she said. "The whole situation with BG makes it really hard to think that it's safe for anyone to go back there right now."

Jones will be joining Stewart in Turkey, playing for Mersin. The 6-foot-6 Jones said she would consider going back to Russia if things change politically and Griner was back in the U.S.

SEE MORE: Griner, Whelan Families To Meet Biden Amid U.S.-Russia Talks

The Griner situation also is weighing heavily on the minds of young WNBA players.

Rhyne Howard, the 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year, is playing in Italy this winter — her first overseas experience. She said was careful when deciding where she wanted to play.

"Everyone's going to be a bit cautious seeing as this situation is happening," she said.

It's not just the American players who are no longer going to Russia. Chicago Sky forward Emma Meesseman, who stars for the Belgium national team, had played in Russia with Stewart, Jones and Vandersloot. She also is headed to Turkey this offseason.

The WNBA has also been trying to make staying home in the offseason a better option for players. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said at the WNBA Finals that top players could make up to $700,000 this year between base salary, marketing agreements and award bonuses. While only a select few players could reach that amount, roughly a dozen have decided to take league marketing agreements this offseason.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Texas Sheriff Investigating Migrant Flights To Martha's Vineyard

Tue, 09/20/2022 - 13:55

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A Texas sheriff on Monday opened an investigation into two flights of migrants sent to Martha's Vineyard by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, but did not say what laws may have been broken in putting 48 Venezuelans on private planes last week from San Antonio.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, an elected Democrat, railed against the flights that took off in his city as political posturing. But he said investigators had so far only spoken to attorneys representing some of the migrants and did not name any potential suspects who might face charges.

He also did not mention DeSantis in a news conference that appeared to mark the first time a law enforcement official has said they would look into the flights.

“I believe there is some criminal activity involved here,” Salazar said. “But at present we are trying to keep an open mind and we are going to investigate to find out what exact laws were broken if that does turn out to be the case.”

SEE MORE: More Migrants Arrive In D.C. As White House Slams Republican Governors

DeSantis' office responded with a statement that said the migrants had been given more options to succeed in Massachusetts.

“Immigrants have been more than willing to leave Bexar County after being abandoned, homeless, and ‘left to fend for themselves,'” DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske said. “Florida gave them an opportunity to seek greener pastures in a sanctuary jurisdiction that offered greater resources for them, as we expected.”

The Venezuelan migrants who were flown to the wealthy Massachusetts island from San Antonio on Wednesday said they were told they were going to Boston. Julio Henriquez, an attorney who met with several migrants, said they “had no idea of where they were going or where they were.”

He said a Latina woman approached migrants at a city-run shelter in San Antonio and put them up at a nearby La Quinta Inn, where she visited daily with food and gift cards. She promised jobs and three months of housing in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Boston, according to Henriquez.

Salazar said the migrants had been “preyed upon” and “hoodwinked.”

Some Democrats have urged the Justice Department to investigate the flights, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, whose district includes San Antonio.

A federal investigation might be complicated, however. It’s not clear whether anyone boarded buses or planes unwillingly, or that their civil rights were violated. The rights of asylum seekers arriving to the U.S. are also more limited because they are not citizens. The Constitution, though, does protect them from discrimination based on race or national origin and from improper treatment by the government.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Fiona Barrels Toward Turks And Caicos As Category 3 Hurricane

Tue, 09/20/2022 - 12:12

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Hurricane Fiona barreled toward the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday as a Category 3 storm, prompting the government to impose a curfew.

Forecasters said Fiona was expected to pass near Grand Turk, the British territory's capital island, on Tuesday morning.

“Storms are unpredictable,” Premier Washington Misick said in a statement from London, where he was attending the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. “You must therefore take every precaution to ensure your safety.”

Misick is scheduled to return home on Thursday.

Early Tuesday, Fiona was centered 20 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island. It had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and was moving north-northwest at 10 mph.

SEE MORE: Hurricane Fiona Slams Dominican Republic After Pounding Puerto Rico

The intensifying storm kept dropping copious rain over the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where a 58-year-old man died after police said he was swept away by a river in the central mountain town of Comerio.

Another death was linked to a power blackout — a 70-year-old man was burned to death after he tried to fill his generator with gasoline while it was running, officials said.

The National Guard has rescued more than 900 people as floodwaters continue to rush through towns in eastern and southern Puerto Rico with up to 30 inches of rain forecast for some areas. Multiple landslides also were reported.

The blow from Fiona was made more devastating because Puerto Rico has yet to recover from Hurricane Maria, which killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the power grid in 2017. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes on the island are still covered by blue tarps.

Authorities said at least 1,300 people and some 250 pets remain in shelters across the island.

SEE MORE: Hurricane Fiona Rips Through Powerless Puerto Rico

Fiona sparked a blackout when it hit Puerto Rico’s southwest corner on Sunday, the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which slammed into the island in 1989 as a Category 3 storm.

By Tuesday morning, authorities said they had restored power to more than 260,000 customers on the island of 3.2 million people.

Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi has warned it could take days before everyone has electricity.

Water service was cut to more than 837,000 customers — two-thirds of the total on the island — because of turbid water at filtration plants or lack of power, officials said.

Fiona is not expected to threaten the U.S. mainland.

In the Dominican Republic, authorities reported one death: a man hit by a falling tree. The storm displaced more than 12,400 people and cut off at least two communities.

The hurricane left several highways blocked, and a tourist pier in the town of Miches was badly damaged by high waves. At least four international airports were closed, officials said.

The Dominican president, Luis Abinader, said authorities would need several days to assess the storm’s effects.

Fiona previously battered the eastern Caribbean, killing one man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floodwaters washed his home away, officials said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

President Joe Biden Claims The Pandemic Is Over

Tue, 09/20/2022 - 01:16

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President Joe Biden raised eyebrows over the weekend with a bold declaration on "60 Minutes." 

"The pandemic is over," the president said during an interview. "We still have a problem with COVID, we’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over." 

That's an assessment of the COVID-19 outbreak that doesn’t square with the facts. 

The World Health Organization's top official, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said clearly just days ago: "We're not there yet, but the end is in sight."  

The president’s own chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday, "We are not where we need to be if we’re going to be able to quote 'live with the virus.'"

Still it's the most hopeful the World Health Organization’s leaders have sounded since the start of the virus' spread in late 2019. 

"We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic," said Ghebreyesus.  

Leaders from the Oval Office to statehouses celebrated. 

But the CDC says the virus is still killing 360 people a day in the U.S. — the lowest we’ve seen since July and far from winter peaks.

SEE MORE: Updated Omicron Booster Shots Are Now Available For Americans

Yet, it's still higher than the lulls of mid-2021. 

Infectious disease experts warn colder weather could again spike the spread, though vaccines will soften the blow. 

Meanwhile the economic mayhem from the global shutdown lingers. World leaders are still grappling with how to navigate out of the storm.

It's a key focus for the U.N. General Assembly this week.

"We meet at the moment of great peril for our worlds: The ongoing effects of a global pandemic. Lack of access to finance for developing countries to recover. A crisis not seen in a generation," said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. 

Even White House COVID Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha and second gentleman Doug Emhoff masked up just Friday to get COVID booster shots. 

"This is a new formulation that we want all Americans to get right now over the age of 12," said Emhoff. 

They're setting an example for millions of Americans being asked to give the fight against COVID a final push across the finish line. 

"Let’s make sure we’re playing the game until the very end," said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. 

"A marathon runner does not stop when the end comes into view," said Ghebreyesus. "She runs harder with all the energy she has left. So must we."

Why Do Some People Live So Long?

Tue, 09/20/2022 - 00:49

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The U.S. life expectancy is 76 years according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Others are living beyond that benchmark. Government numbers show there are more than 72,000 centenarians in the U.S., or those who've reached the age of 100.  

The CDC predicts life expectancy for all Americans grow to 85.6 years by 2060.  They credit current patterns in mortality caused by an more vaccinations, fewer infectious diseases, and alcohol and smoking prevention programs.   

Jan Gantz is already past that. She celebrated her 90th birthday in April surrounded by friends and family at her home in Sarasota, Florida.  

"I'm almost 5-6 months from my 91st year and I still don't know how I got to be 90. And as I told somebody, it happens one day at a time. And then all of a sudden, it's like what?" said Gantz. "The party was beautiful, they put so much planning into it."

You're probably wondering what her secret is to staying happy and healthy. 

"I play mahjong several times a week, I go to the gym twice a week — that doesn't mean it's fun necessarily, I try and do water aerobics, entertain at least once a week and I go out socially," said Gantz. 

The number of Americans 90-and-older has nearly tripled since the 1980s. 

But Jan still has some ways to go to reach the bar set by these two: Jeanne Louise Calment of France and Jiroemon Kimura of Japan. 

SEE MORE: Why Does Our Vision Get Worse As We Age?

The oldest female and male ever lived to 122 years and 116 years, respectively, according to Guinness World Records. 

Family members say Calment had a good diet, but had a sweet tooth and ate about two pounds of chocolate a week. 

Kimura's life motto was reportedly "eat light to live long." 

There might be some truth to the old saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." 

A study out this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed obesity and diabetes can deter how long we live. Researchers recommended a Mediterranean diet focused on seafood and veggies and went light on meat and sugar. 

Regular exercise can slow down father time and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. 

German researchers analyzed a handful of studies and determined regular exercise can add almost four years to some people's life span. Good genes also factor in. It's estimated about a quarter of the variation in life span is dictated by genetics. 

Yet the science to all the specific genes and how they help longevity is still in the works. And then there's lifestyle. 

The more seniors stay mentally active, the more it can prevent Alzheimer's disease, according to the National Institute on Aging. 

It's something Jan Gantz at 90 has been able to do, even through isolation during the pandemic. 

"I spent time reading, interacting on the computer with people playing mahjong and games, and it was just a different time. And I feel very blessed to have gotten through that and not feeling scarred by a lot of it," said Gantz.  

When asked what advice Gantz has for others looking to live a long and happy life, she gave an answer that's reflective of how she's lived hers.  

"Be kind. And smile. You go out with a smile, you're always going to meet somebody. And kindness I think in today's world is going to go so far," she said. 

Why Are So Few Women In Animation?

Tue, 09/20/2022 - 00:20

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Animated films like Domee Shi’s "Turning Red" or Nora Twomey’s Oscar-nominated "The Breadwinner" are putting women and young girls in the spotlight, but the animation industry as a whole is still struggling to hire and promote women behind the scenes.  

Nicole Hendrix is the co-founder and executive director of the BRIC Foundation. 

"These pathways into the industry are not equitable," said Hendrix.  

"It’s like, there’s all this great talent out there that you’re not utilizing," said Margaret Dean, the president of Women in Animation.  Of the top animated films released from 2007 to 2018, less than 3% were directed by women and industry leaders say it’s because of inequality in the talent pipelines. 

"It's just very much exclusion by familiarity within the industry. It's a 'you have to know someone' in order to get hired or to get into a really good program that you'll get hired from. Not to mention money, right? Not everybody can afford to be an unpaid intern," said Hendrix. 

"It was just the phrases of 'it was an old boys club,' and then people always hired people that they knew that they were friends with," said Dean. 

SEE MORE: Disney Releases Trailer For New 'The Little Mermaid' Movie

A 2019 report from the University of Southern California found that women directors were more likely to be seen as a "risk" to studios, and less likely to be promoted to higher leadership roles.  

Women overall hold around 30% of the creative jobs in animation. And as more people in Hollywood are becoming more aware of the gender-gap in entertainment, organizations like the BRIC foundation and Women in Animation are pushing for parity. 

"There's definitely waves that people ride and we just need to all come together to make sure that we hold people accountable," said Alison Mann, the co-founder of the BRIC Foundation. 

"Equally important work that we realized we needed to do was to start working with the women themselves, and to really launch talent development programs," said Dean.  

Women in animation, or "WIA," has challenged the industry to achieve 50/50 parity by 2025. And its educational programs include mentorship opportunities for women, transgender and non-binary people. 

"They became these little networks, almost like a seed of a little network," said Dean. 

The BRIC Foundation is working to create more opportunities for women as well through its own industry-wide summits, workshops and the development of a new apprenticeship program.  

"Out of our third-year summit, the plan for an apprenticeship program came and it was an industry advisory across animation, visual effects in gaming, 60 major companies represented. And we really mapped out what are the entry level positions that people are wanting to hire for, what knowledge, software, skills, portfolio is needed to achieve those roles?" said Hendrix. 

The program hopes to provide training opportunities for students in public high schools and community colleges and ultimately lessen the barriers to enter the animation industry.  

"We have to remember to kind of rise above and continue pushing forward and figuring out new strategic ways to create opportunities for people that might not and, and I think everybody has a seat at the table to make change," said Mann. 

Carbon Farming Is A New Way For Farmers To Make Extra Money

Mon, 09/19/2022 - 23:37

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It's getting tougher and tougher to survive as a family on a farm these days because the cost of doing business is just getting so high. But there's a new, environmentally friendly way of farming that's putting thousands of dollars back into farmers pockets. 

Since 1926, Todd Olander's family has worked this land to make a living. 

"We grow corn, alfalfa, barley, wheat, rye. I am the last remaining farmer that's left out of everyone," said Olander. 

He's trying to keep his family's legacy alive, but, to do that, he's had to embrace change. 

"I'm always open to trying different things," he said. 

The corn fields that once provided a stable paycheck weren't making as much of a profit, so he started a malting operation that works with Colorado breweries and distilleries. It's called root shoot malting.

Mike Myers helps him run it. 

"We wanted to focus on quality more than anything. So that also kind of is why we've changed some of our farming practices is to make sure that our barley is the highest quality possible," said Myers.  

SEE MORE: California Heat Threatens Agriculture With 8th Day Of Triple Digits

The biggest change to their farming practices: becoming a carbon farming operation. 

What does that mean? When plants grow, they remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it. Now, there are companies making natural compounds to help crops do that better. The goal is to slow or reverse the impacts of climate change and grow crops better and faster. 

Todd is getting paid to try this carbon farming assistant on his crops. 

"It's not going to replace actually growing the crops. It's going to be just extra money to kind of offset maybe some of the extra fertilizer costs or fuel costs that we're seeing," said Olander. 

It's earned him several thousand dollars, at a time when every penny counts. The company that he's working with has paid family-owned farms across the country more than $1.5 million for carbon farming. 

"That'd be my hope is that farmers are going to see the incentive to actually earn a little bit of extra money and they're going to take some of these steps towards regenerative farming," he said. 

And Todd is taking his carbon farming one step further — he's growing radishes as ground cover to keep the soil cool, moist and full of nutrients. 

TODD OLANDER: Once you get the cycle working together, you should be able to eliminate fertilizer. 

SCRIPPS' ALEXA LIACKO: And that's better for the planet, too.

OLANDER: It is. Exactly. 

These two know, every farmer that takes on these changes can help better feed our nation and better protect our environment. 

"I think we can reverse global warming. I mean, that's that's my hope," said Olander.  

A New California Law Could Raise Minimum Wages

Mon, 09/19/2022 - 23:34

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Fast food chain workers in one state could soon be making triple the federal minimum wage. And that shift might have national ripple effects for low-wage workers. 

It comes from a recently passed law in California that gives new power to workers across the fast-food industry to set standards on wages and working conditions.  

It's a system that could start a new way for workers in other states to fight for a living wage, but restaurant owners, fast food companies and trade associations worry it could raise food prices in an economy suffering from inflation. 

So, where did this come from? And how will it affect the fast-food industry? 

California passed AB 257, also known as the FAST Recovery Act. It's a law that Governor Gavin Newsom signed on Labor Day. 

"We recognize there are sectors of our economy where we're falling a bit short and one of those areas is fast food workers. A bill that empowers our workers, particularly in that sector giving them more voice, giving them more choice, creating a new council, and I'm proud on Labor Day, to sign that bill and enshrine it in law," said Newsom.  

SEE MORE: Labor Shortage Compounds Federal Firefighters' Staffing Woes

It creates a fast food council system that will consist of workers, industry representatives, franchise owners and state officials. They'd work together to set labor standards for workers, including the minimum wage. 

We should note we don't know yet what number they would land on for a minimum wage, and an increase may be gradual. But the law says it can be anything up to $22 an hour.

That number on its own could be groundbreaking. It would be a 40% pay hike from the state's existing minimum wage of $15 per hour for most workers. And it covers more than half a million employees who work at restaurants with 100 or more locations.

California is the third-most expensive state in the U.S. to live in and has half of the top ten most expensive metro areas, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  

Anneisha Williams, a single mother of six, is an employee at Jack In The Box. She's fighting for $15 an hour.

"That will go to my bills because my rent has gone up. You know, they talk about how minimum wage is going up. We need it because the cost of living went up," said Williams. 

Fast food workers in California, like Los Angeles have had it especially rough in the past few years. Her challenges have led her to join the Fight for 15 Movement advocating for a higher minimum wage. 

A study earlier this year by the UCLA Labor Center surveyed fast food workers in Los Angeles. It found that in addition to limited protections from COVID-19 infection, many workers faced threats of wage theft, lost hours and a lack of paid sick leave. 

"I did lose out on wages, you know, because I had to take off for school. And they don't pay you for taking off. I don't have sick time to take off for work, so I had no choice but to lose out on those wages for the time that I did so. It was two, on two occasions that I had to miss out for a couple of days out on work because of COVID," said Williams. 

Nearly two-thirds of workers experienced wage theft, including a lack of reimbursements for supplies, late paychecks and limited breaks. And nearly a third of workers, including Anneisha, said they weren't provided with paid sick time. 

SEE MORE: Americans Face Tough Decisions As Food Prices Continue To Soar

"With this bill, AB 257— that will help us be able to collect our wages that we missed out on in case, you know, things like that happen. Our kids get sick or we get sick or something, you know? That right there would have our back, you know, that would be it for us. You know, who, who wants to miss out on money when they're sick?" she said. 

Businesses already have some worries about this. Large chains including Chipotle, Chick-Fil-A and In-N-Out are sponsoring efforts to block the bill. 

The National Restaurant Association and the International Franchise Association put out a joint statement condemning the bill for unfairly punishing small businesses and portraying restaurants as bad employers. They worry the law could lead to food prices rising too quickly.  

Jeff Hanscom is the vice president of state and local govt. relations at the International Franchise Association. 

"There's no doubt that 257 and the wage council will ultimately, ultimately lead to higher labor costs, which will then ultimately lead to higher food costs for the consumer. And for franchisees who are already operating on very thin margins and not just franchisees, it will affect restaurant owners who are already operating on very thin margins. You have to pass the cost along somewhere," said Hanscom. 

But the numbers seem to indicate the effects on prices may be relatively small. Michael Reich, a UC Berkeley economist and wage expert, told Newsy that a study by researchers at the Boston Federal Reserve and MIT found that a sudden minimum wage bump from $15 to $22 would increase prices, but just a pinch. 

"My calculation is that just looking at this business model, the increase in prices going up to $22 would be about 2 to 3%. So that means for something like a $2 Burger King bacon cheeseburger, is one example, or the Taco Bell burrito, that's $2. That's about a nickel increase. That isn't going to really deter people from buying those items," said Reich. 

Industry groups have also supported a referendum that could block the law from taking effect. If they get enough signatures by December 1, the law would be put on hold until a statewide referendum in 2024. 

Industry advocates warn this law targets not just large fast-food providers, but the smaller, usually locally-owned franchisee businesses that run individual locations.

"We're talking about nearly 15,000 franchise businesses that are impacted by 257 or at least 15,000 units in California that are part of chains with 100 or more locations. But 70% of those — 70% of the franchisees in California — only own one store," said Hanscom.  

Legal challenges could also be on the way, as there are questions about whether this setup that allows bargaining for industry-wide standards could be blocked because it's not one covered by the existing federal law called the National Labor Relations Act. 

San Francisco-based lawyer Ellen Bronchetti works with employers in labor law cases and says that businesses could use this route in an effort to block AB 257 from taking effect. 

"There's an argument that the NLRA is the sole and exclusive law that should govern how employees can work together collectively to force their employers to increase, to provide better wages and working conditions," said Bronchetti. 

If the council system takes effect, this could have consequences for fast food workers in other parts of the country, if other states try a system like this that relies on bargaining agreements that cover entire industries. 

"This type of system has had various degrees of success overseas in places like Europe and South America and Canada, but it's not recognized as a standard in the United States. This type of council proposal in the statute, in effect, does create what I would view as the first of its kind sectoral bargaining mandate that we've seen, and it could have a huge ripple effect if it's successful not just on the fast food industry, but on other industries," said Bronchetti. 

And companies are already moving forward, at least on minimum wage increases. That's in line with data showing that the previous minimum wage increase in California, a gradual rise to $15 an hour, drove wages even higher than that. 

"Wages have been rising since just before the pandemic and through the pandemic, and especially in restaurants. And so now the actual entry wage, the starting wage is well above $15. It's more like $17, $18 in many parts of California," said Hanscom. 

Why Do Air Traffic Controllers Retire At 56?

Mon, 09/19/2022 - 21:22

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There are a lot of reasons why it feels so difficult to fly right now. 


Air traffic controllers are critical to operation of U.S. airways, but the industry has dealt with decades of staffing woes that still aren't quite resolved.

On top of contollers' rocky history, federal law requires that they retire at 56, in part because controllers have to stay current on advancing technology.

The Federal Aviation Administration argues burnout gets more acute for workers by their mid 50s.


 

'Serial' Case: Adnan Syed Released, Conviction Tossed

Mon, 09/19/2022 - 21:02

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A Baltimore judge on Monday ordered the release of Adnan Syed after overturning Syed’s conviction for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee — a case that was chronicled in the hit podcast “Serial.”

At the behest of prosecutors, Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn ordered that Syed’s conviction be vacated as she approved the release of the now-41-year-old who has spent more than two decades behind bars.

Phinn ruled that the state violated its legal obligation to share evidence that could have bolstered Syed’s defense. She ordered Syed to be placed on home detention with GPS location monitoring. The judge also said the state must decide whether to seek a new trial date or dismiss the case within 30 days.

“All right Mr. Syed, you’re free to join your family,” Phinn said as the hearing ended.

Syed has always maintained his innocence. His case captured the attention of millions in 2014 when the debut season of “Serial” focused on Lee’s killing and raised doubts about some of the evidence prosecutors had used, inspiring countless dinner table debates about Syed’s innocence or guilt.

Last week, prosecutors filed a motion saying that a lengthy investigation conducted with the defense had uncovered new evidence that could undermine the 2000 conviction of Syed, Lee’s ex-boyfriend.

“I understand how difficult this is, but we need to make sure we hold the correct person accountable,” assistant state’s attorney Becky Feldman told the judge as she described various details from the case that undermine the decades-old conviction, including flawed cellphone data, unreliable witness testimony and and a potentially biased detective.

Syed was serving a life sentence after he was convicted of strangling 18-year-old Lee, whose body was found buried in a Baltimore park.

The investigation “revealed undisclosed and newly-developed information regarding two alternative suspects, as well as unreliable cell phone tower data,” State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office said in a news release last week. The suspects were known persons at the time of the original investigation, but weren’t properly ruled out nor disclosed to the defense, said prosecutors, who declined to release information about the suspects, due to the ongoing investigation.

Prosecutors said they weren’t asserting that Syed is innocent, but they lacked confidence “in the integrity of the conviction” and recommended he be released on his own recognizance or bail. The state’s attorney’s office had said if the motion were granted it would effectively put Syed in a new trial status, vacating his convictions, while the case remained active.

Syed was led into the crowded courtroom in handcuffs Monday. Wearing a white shirt with a tie, he sat next to his attorney. His mother and other family representatives were in the room, as was Mosby.

In 2016, a lower court ordered a retrial for Syed on grounds that his attorney, Cristina Gutierrez, who died in 2004, didn’t contact an alibi witness and provided ineffective counsel.

But after a series of appeals, Maryland’s highest court in 2019 denied a new trial in a 4-3 opinion. The Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court that Syed’s legal counsel was deficient in failing to investigate an alibi witness, but it disagreed that the deficiency prejudiced the case. The court said Syed waived his ineffective counsel claim.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Syed’s case in 2019.

The true-crime series was the brainchild of longtime radio producer and former Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Koenig, who spent more than a year digging into Syed’s case and reporting her findings in almost real-time in hour-long segments. The 12-episode podcast won a Peabody Award and was transformative in popularizing podcasts for a wide audience.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Strong Earthquake Shakes Mexico's Pacific Coast; 1 Killed

Mon, 09/19/2022 - 20:55

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A magnitude 7.6 earthquake shook Mexico's central Pacific coast on Monday, killing at least one person and setting off a seismic alarm in the rattled capital on the anniversary of two earlier devastating quakes.

There were at least some early reports of damage to buildings from the quake, which hit at 1:05 p.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which had initially put the magnitude at 7.5.

It said the quake was centered 23 miles southeast of Aquila near the boundary of Colima and Michoacan states and at a depth of 9.4 miles.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said via Twitter that the secretary of the navy told him one person was killed in the port city of Manzanillo, Colima when a wall at a mall collapsed.

In Coalcoman, Michoacan, near the quake's epicenter, buildings were damaged, but there were not immediate reports of injuries.

“It started slowly and then was really strong and continued and continued until it started to relent,” said 16-year-old Carla Cárdenas, a resident of Coalcoman. Cárdenas ran out of her family’s hotel and waited with neighbors.

She said the hotel and some homes along the street displayed cracks in walls and segments of facades and roofs had broken off.

“In the hotel, the roof of the parking area boomed and fell to the ground, and there are cracks in the walls on the second foor,” Cárdenas said.

She said the town’s hospital was seriously damaged, but she had so far not heard of anyone injured.

Mexico's National Civil Defense agency said that based on historic data of tsunamis in Mexico, variations of as much as 32 inches were possible in coastal water levels near the epicenter. The U.S. Tsunami Warning Center said that hazardous tsunami waves were possible for coasts within 186 miles of the epicenter.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum tweeted that there were no reports of damage in the capital

Alarms for the new quake came less than an hour after a quake alarms warbled in a nationwide earthquake simulation marking major, deadly quakes that struck on the same date in 1985 and 2017.

“This is a coincidence,” that this is the third Sept. 19 earthquake, said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle. “There’s no physical reason or statistical bias toward earthquakes in any given month in Mexico.”

Nor is there a season or month for big earthquakes anywhere on the globe, Earle said. But there is a predictable thing: People seek and sometimes find coincidences that look like patterns.

“We knew we’d get this question as soon as it happened,” Earle said. “Sometimes there are just coincidences.”

The quake was not related to or caused by the drill an hour or so earlier, nor was it connected to a damaging temblor in Taiwan the day before, Earle said.

Humberto Garza stood outside a restaurant in Mexico City's Roma neighborhood holding his 3-year son. Like many milling about outside after the earthquake, Garza said that the earthquake alarm sounded so soon after the annual simulation that he was not sure it was real.

“I heard the alarm, but it sounded really far away,” he said.

Outside the city's environmental ombudsman's office, dozens of employees waited. Some appeared visibly shaken.

Power was out in parts of the city, including stoplights, snarling the capital's already notorious traffic.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Sherri Papini Gets 18 Months For Kidnapping Hoax

Mon, 09/19/2022 - 20:41

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A Northern California mother of two was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison for faking her own kidnapping so she could go back to a former boyfriend, which led to a three-week, multi-state search before she resurfaced on Thanksgiving Day in 2016.

Sherri Papini, 40, pleaded guilty last spring under a plea bargain that requires her to pay more than $300,000 in restitution.

Probation officers and Papini's attorney had recommended that she spend a month in custody and seven months in supervised home detention. But Senior U.S. District Judge William Shubb said he opted for an 18-month sentence in order to deter others.

The judge said he considered the seriousness of the offense and "the sheer number of people who were impacted."

Papini, who was emotional throughout the proceedings, quietly answered, "Yes, sir," when the judge asked if she understood the sentence. Previously she was in tears as she gave a statement to the court accepting responsibility and admitting her guilt.

"As painful as it is," Papini accepts her sentence as part of her recovery, defense attorney William Portanova said after the hearing.

Portanova previously said Papini was troubled and disgraced and that she should serve most of her sentence at home. Prosecutors, though, said it was imperative that she spend her full term in prison. The judge ordered her to report to prison Nov. 8.

"Papini's kidnapping hoax was deliberate, well planned, and sophisticated," prosecutors wrote in their court filing. And she was still falsely telling people she was kidnapped months after she pleaded guilty in April to staging the abduction and lying to the FBI about it, they wrote.

"The nation is watching the outcome of Papini's sentencing hearing," Assistant U.S. Attorneys Veronica Alegria and Shelley Weger wrote. "The public needs to know that there will be more than a slap on the wrist for committing financial fraud and making false statements to law enforcement, particularly when those false statements result in the expenditure of substantial resources and implicate innocent people."

"Outwardly sweet and loving, yet capable of intense deceit ... Ms. Papini's chameleonic personalities drove her to simultaneously crave family security and the freedom of youth," Portanova wrote in his responding court filing.

So "in pursuit of a non-sensical fantasy," Portanova said the married mother fled to a former boyfriend in Southern California, nearly 600 miles south of her home in Redding. He dropped her off along Interstate 5 about 150 miles from her home after she said she wanted to go home.

Passersby found her with bindings on her body, a swollen nose, a blurred "brand" on her right shoulder, bruises and rashes across her body, ligature marks on her wrists and ankles, and burns on her left forearm. All of the injuries were self-inflicted and were designed to substantiate her story that she had been abducted at gunpoint by two Hispanic women while she was out for a run.

The wounds were a manifestation of her "unsettled masochism" and "self-inflicted penance," Portanova wrote. And once she began, "each lie demanded another lie."

Prosecutors said Papini's ruse harmed more than just herself and her family. "An entire community believed the hoax and lived in fear that Hispanic women were roving the streets to abduct and sell women," they wrote.

Prosecutors agreed to seek a sentence on the low end of the sentencing range in exchange for Papini's guilty plea. That was projected to be between eight and 14 months in custody, down from the maximum 25 years for the two charges.

She has offered no rationale for her actions, which stumped even independent mental health experts who said her actions didn't conform with any typical diagnosis.

"Papini's painful early years twisted and froze her in myriad ways," Portanova said in arguing for home confinement. With her deception finally revealed, he said, "It is hard to imagine a more brutal public revelation of a person's broken inner self. At this point, the punishment is already intense and feels like a life sentence."

But prosecutors said her "past trauma and mental health issues alone cannot account for all of her actions."

"Papini's planning of her hoax kidnapping was meticulous and began months in advance — it was not merely the reaction to a traumatic childhood," they wrote.

After herarrestin March, Papini received more than $30,000 worth of psychiatric care for anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. She billed the state's victim compensation fund for the treatment, and now must pay it back as part of her restitution.

As part of the plea agreement, she has agreed to reimburse law enforcement agencies more than $150,000 for the costs of the search for her and her nonexistent kidnappers, and repay the $128,000 she received in disability payments since her return.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

KTNV: More Latinos Are Becoming Homeowners, But Roadblocks Remain

Mon, 09/19/2022 - 19:51

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LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — 700,000 Latinos live in Clark County, and many of them are buying homes. In fact, a recent report by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals says Latinos across the country are buying homes more than ever before.

Today, nearly half of all Hispanics are homeowners. But are they buying in Las Vegas?

"I for sure wanted to have at least three bedrooms in the house," Hugo Organista told KTNV.

He bought a home last November. Organista says he came to Las Vegas after struggling to find something in the Phoenix area.

SEE MORE: Housing Market Is Cooling Off, But Interest Rates May Pause Price Drop

"(I) realized that I probably wasn't going to get what I wanted and placed four offers on a house there, got beat out by a cash buyer every time," Organista said.

Fortunately, he was able to scoop up a move-in-ready house near Boulder Highway and Tropicana Avenue. It's a dream the Mexican native says he still can't believe.

"When my family came here, we were eating pizza on the floor. We didn't even have enough for a dining room table," Organista said.

Organista said he was able to buy a home at a young age thanks to his mom. He credits her with teaching him how to work hard, save money and pay bills on time.

"You know, like she would drag me down to JC Penney's to go make a cash payment for her credit card because she didn't want it to be late. So, I kind of grew up with that in mind," he said.

LATINO HOUSEHOLDS

In the Latino community, Organista isn't alone. More than 650,000 Latinos became homeowners nationwide from 2019 to 2021. A lot of them are buying in the Las Vegas valley, says Myra Rivera, with the local chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

"(In) 2021, we went up a little bit over 48 percent in Latino households, and that's projected to continue to go up," Rivera said. "I think in the last few years that I've been in business, and also just looking at the stats, those numbers have been increasing every single year."

In fact, as of 2021, more than 40% of Hispanic adults 45 years old and younger are mortgage ready.

"And in the next few years, we're going to see a lot of those Latinos come into the market because now they're ready. Their next step is finding a home," Rivera said.

Many interested homebuyers are looking here in Las Vegas because they want new construction, Rivera added.

FROM CALIFORNIA

"We get people from California coming in, used to the older homes, and they see Vegas homes mostly in the 2000s and they're like, Oh, wow, this is new," says Rivera.

Rivera admits it's still a tough market for some Hispanic families. Many still struggle with poor credit and are looking for homes at a lower price point.

"Latino households usually are larger. They have a lot of kids or their parents living with them. So, they need at least 3 to 5 bedrooms. Finding a house that's 3 to 5 bedrooms in that little price point... is sometimes a little difficult," says Rivera.

But Rivera is happy to see the situation is improving. She says many younger Latinos see the benefits to buying versus renting.

"You're starting to see the next generations or the next one in the family is buying younger or they're upgrading sooner... They see it as 'I'm investing, I'm upgrading. My family needs it.' They're not scared of the process," says Rivera.

Organista says it's encouraging to hear Latinos his age and younger are learning, anything is possible.

"It's a testament to what happens when we start to tackle systematic injustices... Knowledge is like step number one. That's like half the battle. Then the other half of that is actually putting it into practice," says Organista.

This story was originally published by Tricia Kean on ktnv.com.

MLB's Judge, Pujols Closing In On Home Run Milestones

Mon, 09/19/2022 - 18:29

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Major League Baseball's Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols could make this a milestone week for home runs.

Judge hit two more Sunday, raising his season total to 59, two shy of Roger Maris' American League record. Now the slugger returns to Yankee Stadium, where New York plays its next six games. Pujols, meanwhile, is somewhat improbably closing in on the 700-homer mark after hitting 12 since the start of August.

The magical season of @TheJudge44 continues. pic.twitter.com/R3X3I2c6gu

— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 18, 2022

Albert leaves NO DOUBT! pic.twitter.com/lj7hUlIxQj

— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 17, 2022

Judge's pursuit of Maris has stirred debate over how to put this AL record in context, should he break it. He's unlikely to threaten Barry Bonds' major league record of 73, but that mark, as well as the exploits of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa around the same time, have become complicated by performance-enhancing drug suspicions.

There's one way in which Judge likely will surpass both Bonds and Maris, no matter how many more homers he hits. Right now, he has an incredible 20-homer lead over Kyle Schwarber, who is second in the majors. Nobody has led baseball in homers by at least 20 since Babe Ruth finished with 54 in 1928 and nobody else had more than 31.

Maris led the majors by only seven when he hit 61, and Bonds led by nine when he hit 73.

Judge is also in the mix for the AL Triple Crown — he's leading big in homers and RBIs and just one point behind batting leader Luis Arraez — but that won't sort itself out until closer to the end of the season.

The 42-year-old Pujols, who is retiring at the end of the season, is trying to become the fourth major leaguer to reach 700 homers, following Bonds, Hank Aaron and Ruth. Unlike Judge, he won't be going for his milestone at home this week. St. Louis' next eight games are on the road against the Padres, Dodgers and Brewers.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Swedish Program Aims To Fight High Youth Suicide Rate In Montana

Mon, 09/19/2022 - 18:05

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Montana is known for its wide open spaces, craggy mountains and fresh, clear water. 

But for all its beauty, it's also known for a devastating epidemic.  

The youth suicide rate in Montana between 2011 and 2020 was more than double the national rate for the same age group.  

The reasons behind the statistic are a complicated, cultural issue. A March 2022 report released by the state cites vitamin D deficiencies, altitude, social isolation and access to firearms as just a few of the reasons. It also shows 1 in 5 Montana kids live more than 100% below the federal poverty line. And the state has a high concentration of American Indians, who experience higher rates of suicide.    

SEE MORE: New Mental Health Hotline 988 Launches July 16

Kelley Edwards is the program director for Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) at Montana State University's Center for Mental Health Research and Recovery. She knows firsthand what teen suicide can do to a community.  

"I lived it. My co-workers lived it. My students lived it," she said.

Edwards used to teach high school in Helena, Montana, where seven students in her school died by suicide in a three-year span.  

"It will never leave me what that was like," Edwards said. 

Helena High School administrators knew something needed to happen, and they found the solution in Sweden, which is home to Youth Aware of Mental Health.  

"Helena School District was instrumental in bringing YAM to the United States, because they recognized the seriousness of the problem and wanted to do something about it," Edwards said. 

YAM started in 2014 with the goal of bringing down teen suicide rates. 

A randomized-controlled trial with 11,000 participants showed it reduced suicide ideation and attempts by about 50%. New cases of depression fell by about 30% in kids participating.   

The program is in 16 countries and its trainers are traveling the world to expand even more. 

Edwards is a program manager and also teaches it.  

"I've had kids say right after a session either, 'I'm really, really depressed,' or possibly, even, they've said, 'I'm suicidal.' And they are. They've said, 'I'm really, really worried about a friend,'" Edwards shared.

Designed for kids between 13 and 18 years old, the program consists of five five-hour sessions over three weeks, which dive into mental health literacy, role playing and identifying stressors and resources.  

"We need to get to the point where our students are comfortable with mental health knowledge, and what to do when your normal coping skills are not working or where it gets too severe that you would need professional help," Edwards said.

SEE MORE: Biden Announces New Efforts To Address Youth Mental Health Crisis

But as Edwards knows, that's not easy in rural places, like her native Montana — especially now.   

"I grew up in Denton, Montana. For students in rural areas that may not have access to anything … The best that we can provide at this point is starting with just having someone to talk to," Edwards said. "It's not ideal by any means. But that is where we're at, unfortunately."

Mary Windecker runs the advocacy group Behavioral Health Alliance of Montana. She, and so many other mental health professionals, are taking their concerns to state and federal leaders. They're trying to get more attention and funding on this issue.    

"Overall in the United States, we're failing our children. That's true by every metric you could possibly measure," Windecker said. 

And beyond Montana, people in the field of mental health are working to do what they can to help the next generation before it's too late.

Newsy’s mental health initiative “America’s Breakdown: Confronting Our Mental Health Crisis” brings you deeply personal and thoughtfully told stories on the state of mental health care in the U.S. Click here to learn more.

Doctors Are Still Hunting For The Cause Of Long COVID Brain Fog

Mon, 09/19/2022 - 17:32

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COVID-related brain fog is a condition that can feel very defeating and overwhelming. 

Newsy's Lindsey Theis has COVID-related brain fog herself. And it's a topic she's covered since 2020. She says each person she's spoken with tells her it's a dramatic change that impacts how they think and move throughout their lives. For this story, Theis met a family dealing with what she says is one of the worst cases she's ever seen. 

On a bright, sunny day in rural Rensselaer, Indiana, 45-year-old Kari Lentino's mind is a slow-moving storm. 

"I feel like a brain blizzard half the time," she said. 

Lentino is immunocompromised. She's had COVID twice. Since June 2021, it's left her with several neurological setbacks. She says her brain fog is among the worst of it. 

"I couldn't remember passwords to get into certain systems. I worked at the library and I would forget what I was doing while I was doing it," Lentino said. 

Her conversations now go at a snail's pace as she searches for words. 

The mother of four and grandmother of two had to quit work and file for disability. 

She can't watch her grandkids. She won’t run errands or drive. Now, her time is spent mothering her brain. 

Dr. Igor Koralnik is chief of neuro-infectious diseases and co-director of the Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive COVID-19 Center, where he also runs a lab. 

He says 70% of his COVID brain fog patients are like Lentino — women in their early 40s. 

"We see that attention is their main cognitive problem," he said. "Problem with attention, problem with memory, problem with multitasking and briefly, problems getting through their daily life and working in their current job capacity. ...  We have people who have been infected back in March 2020 and still have decreased quality of life because of those symptoms and decreased cognitive function."

Scientists think COVID cognitive dysfunction is from brain inflammation — but what causes it is still itself foggy.

One leading theory is that long COVID is an autoimmune disorder, where the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body, including the brain. 

"We find that the virus has confused the immune system, and we think that it's driving the immune system towards autoimmunity," Koralnik explained.

Studies show 30% of COVID patients report brain fog a few months after they're sick. It's 65 to 85% for long-haulers sick beyond that.  

Researchers haven't found brain fog treatments yet, so they tackle someone's symptoms. 

But even diagnosing brain fog is tricky. It's invisible. There's no set case definition but it can include trouble focusing, struggling to remember names, places, or words, reacting slowly, confused judgment, losing a train of thought often and fatigue or exhaustion from concentrating.  

Back in Rensselaer, Lentino's husband helps her prepare her pills. She takes eight medications and two vitamins daily, plus a handful more as needed. That's in addition to her therapies and memory aids like calendars and post it notes. Those cues share spots in the Lentino home near the signs of her former creative and vibrant self. Prescription bottles near her paintings. Reminders near her Star Wars string art. 

"It's frustrating and depressing. It takes so long to do anything," she said. 

In the spot where she used to stand to paint, brushes and acrylics wait patiently. 

Lentino is waiting too, like so many brain fog sufferers. It's a long, draining wait and the ultimate test of patience.  

On a hopeful note, research shows many brain fog patients recover memory and attention near the 6-to-9-month mark. For treatment, some doctors prescribe medicine, like steroids or antihistamines, plus therapies like speech or cognitive rehabilitation therapy. If you have brain fog yourself, experts say you can try memory games and puzzles, and focus on quality sleep and healthy eating. 

Ukraine Warns Of 'Nuclear Terrorism' After Strike Near Plant

Mon, 09/19/2022 - 17:12

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A Russian missile struck close to a nuclear power plant Monday in southern Ukraine without damaging the three reactors but hit other industrial equipment in what Ukrainian authorities denounced as an act of "nuclear terrorism."

The missile made impact within 328 yards of the reactors at the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant, blasting a crater 6 1/2 feet deep and 13 feet across, according to Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom.

The reactors were operating normally and no staff members were injured, the agency said. But the proximity of the strike renewed fears the nearly seven-month-long war in Ukraine might produce a radiation disaster.

The nuclear power station, which is also known as the Pivdennoukrainsk plant, is Ukraine's second-largest after the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which has repeatedly come under fire. The two facilities' reactors are of the same design.

SEE MORE: Cities Near Ukrainian Nuclear Plant Shelled

Following recent battlefield setbacks, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened last week to step up attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure. Throughout the war, Russia has targeted Ukraine's electricity generation and transmission equipment, causing blackouts and endangering the safety systems of the country's nuclear power plants.

The industrial complex that includes the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear plant sits along the Southern Bug River about 190 miles south of the capital, Kyiv. The attack caused the temporary shutdown of a nearby hydropower plant, shattered more than 100 windows at the complex and severed three power transmission lines, Ukrainian authorities said.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry released a black-and-white video showing two large fireballs erupting one after the other in the dark, followed by incandescent showers of sparks. A time stamp on the video read 19 minutes after midnight.

The ministry and Energoatom called the strike "nuclear terrorism." The Russian Defense Ministry made no immediate comment. The United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russian forces have occupied the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe's largest nuclear power station, since the early days of the invasion. Shelling cut off its transmission lines, forcing operators to shut down its six reactors to avoid a radiation disaster. Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the strikes.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which has stationed monitors at the plant, said a main transmission line was reconnected Friday, providing electricity that the Zaporizhzhia plant needs to cool its reactors.

But the mayor of Enerhodar, where the Zaporizhzhia plant is located, reported more Russian shelling Monday in the city's industrial zone.

While warning Friday of possible ramped-up strikes, Putin claimed his forces had so far acted with restraint in responding to Ukrainian attempts to hit Russian facilities.

SEE MORE: U.N. Agency Calls For Safety Zone Around Ukraine Nuclear Plant

"If the situation develops this way, our response will be more serious," Putin said.

"Just recently, the Russian armed forces have delivered a couple of impactful strikes," he said, referring to attacks last week. "Let's consider those as warning strikes."

As well as infrastructure, Russian forces are pounding other sites. The latest shelling killed at least eight civilians and wounded 22, Ukraine's presidential office said Monday.

The governor of the northeastern Kharkiv region, now largely back in Ukrainian hands, said Russian shelling killed four medical workers trying to evacuate patients from a psychiatric hospital, and wounded two patients.

The mayor of the Russian-occupied eastern city of Donetsk said shelling killed 13 civilians there.

Patricia Lewis, the international security research director at the Chatham House think tank in London, said the previous attacks at the Zaporizhzhia plant and Monday's strike indicated that Russian military planners were attempting to knock Ukrainian nuclear plants offline before winter by targeting power supplies that keep them functioning safely.

"It's a very, very dangerous and illegal act to be targeting a nuclear station," Lewis said in an interview. "Only the generals will know the intent, but there's clearly a pattern."

"What they seem to be doing each time is to try to cut off the power to the reactor," she said. "It's a very clumsy way to do it, because how accurate are these missiles?"

Power is needed to run pumps that circulate cooling water to the reactors, preventing overheating and — in a worst-case scenario — a radiation-spewing nuclear fuel meltdown.

Other recent Russian strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure targeted power plants in the north and a dam in the south. They came in response to a sweeping Ukrainian counterattack in the country's east that reclaimed Russia-occupied territory in the Kharkiv region and broke what had largely become a stalemate in the war.

The Ukrainian successes — Russia's biggest defeat since its forces were repelled from around Kyiv in the invasion's opening stage — have fueled rare public criticism in Russia and added to the military and diplomatic pressure on Putin.

The Kremlin's nationalist critics have questioned why Moscow failed to plunge Ukraine into darkness by hitting all of its major nuclear power plants.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

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