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Pulisic Goal Advances U.S. In World Cup With 1-0 Win Over Iran

Wed, 11/30/2022 - 01:46

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Christian Pulisic kicked the ball, scored the goal and then crashed into the goalkeeper, a collision that sent the American star to the hospital and the United States into the second round of the World Cup.

More than an hour later, he contacted his teammates by FaceTime to join the celebration.

Pulisic's 38th-minute goal held up, and the United States beat Iran 1-0 on Tuesday in their politically charged rematch to advance to the World Cup's knockout stage.

“Every single player is ready to lay their body on the line to make sure this team is successful,” United States midfielder Weston McKennie said.

The Americans finished second in Group B with five points, two behind England, and will play the Netherlands on Saturday with the chance to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002.

“I always say it’s us against the world,” forward Tim Weah said. “No one believed the U.S. could play good football.”

Pulisic was sprawled on the field and lying in the goal for about three minutes as he received treatment from the U.S. staff. He tried to continue playing but was substituted at the start of the second half with Brenden Aaronson and taken for abdominal scans.

U.S. Soccer said Pulisic suffered a pelvic contusion and was day to day. He left the hospital and returned to the team hotel.

“I sent him a text and checked on him, and he said, 'Best believe I'll be ready on Saturday,'” McKennie said.

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said Pulisic felt dizziness after the collision.

Back in the World Cup after missing the 2018 tournament, the U.S. opened with draws against Wales and England and needed a victory to reach the round of 16.

Iran finished third in the group with three points. The team has failed to advance in all six of its World Cup appearances.

“The dream is over with this result,” Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said. “The U.S. started the game much better than us, more quick with better control of the game.”

Raucous Iranian fans with horns and drums in the crowd of 42,127 filled the lower bowl behind one goal at Al Thumama Stadium and were far louder than the red-white-and-blue U.S. supporters at the other end and behind the American bench.

The U.S. outshot Iran 9-0 in the first half but didn’t break through until Pulisic came up with the big moment that a growing and increasingly demanding fan base back home had been pining for.

McKennie lofted a pass from just past the center circle to Sergiño Dest at the edge of the 6-yard box. Dest headed the ball in front of the net on a bounce as Pulisic charged up the center of the field past Ramin Rezaeian and Majid Hosseiniand.

Turning his body to let the ball hit his right foot, Pulisic redirected the ball for his 22nd international goal and first in World Cup play. His momentum carried him into goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand.

“Christian makes those runs. That's what he does. That’s the special quality he has,” Berhalter said. “As soon as the ball is wide, he goes in with intensity to the penalty box and good things happen and you score goals.”

Berhalter thought Pulisic got second-half updates on phone apps.

Weah, who scored the Americans’ goal in the opening 1-1 draw with Wales, nearly doubled the lead in the seventh minute of first-half stoppage time but was ruled offside.

With England ahead of Wales, Iran knew it needed only a draw to advance and finally got its first shot at goalkeeper Matt Turner when Saman Ghoddos put a header over the crossbar in the 52nd minute. Saeid Ezatolahi put an open shot high and wide in the 70th and Morteza Pouraliganji’s diving header in the third minute of nine minutes of stoppage time went just wide.

Walker Zimmerman cleared a loose ball in front of the open net in the ninth minute after Cameron Carter-Vickers got a slight hand on Mehdi Taremi.

“I hope that our fans and our people in Iran forgive us. I am just sorry," Taremi said.

SEE MORE: Netherlands Beats Host Qatar 2-0 To Advance At World Cup


Carter-Vickers, a son of former NBA player Howard Carter, made his World Cup debut in place of Zimmerman and gave the U.S. an entirely Europe-based lineup for the first time ever in World Cup play.


The U.S. lineup averaged 24 years, 321 days, the youngest of any team at the tournament thus far and the youngest in the World Cup for the Americans since 1990. Yunus Musah turned 20, the first American to appear in a World Cup match on his birthday.


The U.S. is 1-4 against the Netherlands, all friendlies, overcoming a two-goal deficit to win 4-3 at Amsterdam in 2015.

“I think that’s the American spirit, the way this group plays, and I think people will appreciate that,” Berhalter said.

SEE MORE: Qatar Says Worker Deaths For World Cup 'Between 400 And 500'

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Doctors Worry For COVID Effects On Seniors, Particularly In China

Wed, 11/30/2022 - 01:17

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Nine out of 10 U.S. COVID deaths are people who are 65 and older, according to new Washington Post analysis of CDC data.

Older adults have been hit the hardest by the virus over the past nearly three years.

Dr. June McKoy — a professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School Of Medicine and the geriatric medicine specialist at Northwestern Medical Group — says she's concerned of the triple threat RSV, flu, and COVID has on senior patients, which are often the type of patients she sees.

"People have let their guard down to an extent where they're not remembering that they're in the presence of an older adult," Dr. McKoy said.

As humans age, normal body changes include weakened lungs.

"The chest cavity becomes a little smaller because of arthritic changes, osteoporosis and so on," Dr. McKoy said. "So, the ability to expand and exchange air is not as good, and then now you introduce an infection."

SEE MORE: Students Sent Home, Police On Patrol As China Curbs Protests

In China, elderly vaccination rates are lower than those in the U.S. Chinese officials say about two-thirds of adults over 80 are fully vaccinated. Many have resisted because they're afraid of side effects.

Plus, the country has not approved foreign vaccines, and has instead mostly used its own. Foreigners in the country were just recently allowed to get a Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA shot.

The Associated Press reports police are out in force after a weekend of protests of the country's lockdown plans, part of a tough "zero-COVID" policy where each case is isolated. Beijing, Shanghai and other major mainland cities were otherwise quiet.

In a news briefing, reporters asked if government health officials are reconsidering the restrictions.

"Long-term lockdowns not only greatly affect the production and living orders, but also cause anxiety and life difficulties," said Cheng Youquan, a supervisory official of the National Disease Control and Prevention Administration. "These kind of cases must be corrected and avoided."

In the same briefing, China's director of health emergency response urged those who can, especially the elderly, to get a COVID vaccine or booster as soon as possible.

Experts Are Expecting A Rise In Flu Cases Post-Thanksgiving

Wed, 11/30/2022 - 01:08

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Going into the Thanksgiving holiday, the CDC reported 35 states experienced high or very high numbers of respiratory illnesses. Now there are signs those family gatherings are helping to spread the sickness around.

Susan Post says her family was eager to get together, but now they're paying a price.

"We were all fine Thanksgiving Day, and then the next day, my sister called and told us that my niece was really sick, and then my sister got sick," Post said.

Medical experts had already warned of a "tripledemic" – high numbers of cases of COVID, the flu and RSV happening at once. The holiday travel and large gatherings are expected to make things worse.

So far this season, the CDC estimates there have been at least 6.2 million illnesses, 53,000 hospitalizations and nearly 3,000 deaths from the flu.

In Wisconsin, the latest rate of flu cases doubled from seven to 14%.

"We're going to be at high activity in about a week, so we're anticipating things are going to get worse before they get better," said Thomas Haupt, an epidemiologist at the Wisconsin Department of Health.

SEE MORE: Hospitals Are Bracing For COVID, RSV And The Flu Amid The Holidays

A higher demand for medicine earlier in the season is creating shortages for drugs like Tamiflu or amoxicillin. Stocks of over-the-counter remedies are also low, with it expected to get somewhat worse after the holidays.

"We can't keep them full; plus our warehouse is out of stock, and that holds us back a lot from filling the shelves," an employee at Point Loma Shelter Island Drug in San Diego said.

"I think after Thanksgiving a lot of people are calling asking about if we have over-the-counter medication or the doctor sent them prescription medication for the flu," pharmacist Dr. Hala Jolagh said.

The CDC says RSV numbers are starting to go down, but the cases of flu are expected to keep rising in the coming weeks.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, continues to urge people to get vaccinations and boosters for COVID and flu shots. He also advises wearing masks in some situations.

"We're not talking about mandating anything; we're talking about good common sense in making a decision to put a mask on when you're in an indoor congregate setting," Dr. Fauci said.

Experts say preventive measures are key to keeping the numbers of illnesses down.

Landmark Same-Sex Marriage Bill Wins Senate Passage

Wed, 11/30/2022 - 00:03

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The Senate passed bipartisan legislation Tuesday to protect same-sex marriages, an extraordinary sign of shifting national politics on the issue and a measure of relief for the hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples who have married since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that legalized gay marriage nationwide.

The bill, which would ensure that same-sex and interracial marriages are enshrined in federal law, was approved 61-36 on Tuesday, including support from 12 Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the legislation was “a long time coming” and part of America’s “difficult but inexorable march towards greater equality.”

Democrats are moving quickly, while the party still holds the majority in both chambers of Congress, to send the bill to the House and then — they hope — to President Joe Biden’s desk. The bill has gained steady momentum since the Supreme Court’s June decision that overturned the federal right to an abortion, a ruling that included a concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas that suggested same-sex marriage could also come under threat. Bipartisan Senate negotiations got a kick-start this summer when 47 Republicans unexpectedly voted for a House bill and gave supporters new optimism.

The legislation would not force any state to allow same-sex couples to marry. But it would require states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were performed, and protect current same-sex unions, if the court's 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision were to be overturned.

That's a stunning bipartisan endorsement, and evidence of societal change, after years of bitter divisiveness on the issue.

The bill would also protect interracial marriages by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity or national origin.”

A new law protecting same-sex marriages would be a major victory for Democrats as they relinquish their two years of consolidated power in Washington, and a massive win for advocates who have been pushing for decades for federal legislation. It comes as the LGBTQ community has faced violent attacks, such as the shooting last weekend at a gay nightclub in Colorado that killed five people and injured at least 17.

“Our community really needs a win, we have been through a lot,” said Kelley Robinson, the incoming president of Human Rights Campaign, which advocates on LGBTQ issues. “As a queer person who is married, I feel a sense of relief right now. I know my family is safe.”

SEE MORE: Same-Sex Marriage Legislation Clears Key Senate Hurdle

The vote was personal for many senators, too. Schumer said on Tuesday that he was wearing the tie he wore at his daughter's wedding, “one of the happiest moments of my life.” He also recalled the “harrowing conversation” he had with his daughter and her wife in September 2020 when they heard that liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had passed away. “Could our right to marry be undone?” they asked at the time.

With conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett replacing Ginsburg, the court has now overturned Roe v. Wade and the federal right to an abortion, stoking fears about Obergefell and other rights protected by the court. But sentiment has shifted on same-sex marriage, with more than two-thirds of the public now in support.

Still, Schumer said it was notable that the Senate was even having the debate after years of Republican opposition. “A decade ago, it would have strained all of our imaginations to envision both sides talking about protecting the rights of same-sex married couples,” he said.

Passage came after the Senate rejected three Republican amendments to protect the rights of religious institutions and others to still oppose such marriages. Supporters of the legislation argued those amendments were unnecessary because the bill had already been amended to clarify that it does not affect rights of private individuals or businesses that are currently enshrined in law. The bill would also make clear that a marriage is between two people, an effort to ward off some far-right criticism that the legislation could endorse polygamy.

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who has been lobbying his fellow GOP senators to support the legislation for months, pointed to the number of religious groups supporting the bill, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of those groups were part of negotiations on the bipartisan amendment.

“They see this as a step forward for religious freedom,” Tillis says.

SEE MORE: House Passes Bill Protecting Same-Sex Marriage Rights

The nearly 17 million-member, Utah-based faith said in a statement this month that church doctrine would continue to consider same-sex relationships to be against God’s commandments. Yet it said it would support rights for same-sex couples as long as they didn’t infringe upon religious groups’ right to believe as they choose.

Most Republicans still oppose the legislation, saying it is unnecessary and citing concerns about religious liberty. And some conservative groups stepped up opposition in recent weeks, lobbying Republican supporters to switch their votes.

“As I and others have argued for years, marriage is the exclusive, lifelong, conjugal union between one man and one woman, and any departure from that design hurts the indispensable goal of having every child raised in a stable home by the mom and dad who conceived him,” the Heritage Foundation's Roger Severino, vice president of domestic policy, wrote in a recent blog post arguing against the bill.

In an effort to win the 10 Republican votes necessary to overcome a filibuster in the 50-50 Senate, Democrats delayed consideration until after the midterm elections, hoping that would relieve political pressure on GOP senators who might be wavering.

Eventual support from 12 Republicans gave Democrats the votes they needed.

Along with Tillis, Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman supported the bill early on and have lobbied their GOP colleagues to support it. Also voting for the legislation in two test votes ahead of passage were Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Todd Young of Indiana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Mitt Romney of Utah, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

Lummis, one of the more conservative members of the Senate, spoke ahead of the final vote about her “fairly brutal self soul searching” before supporting the bill. She said that she accepts her church's beliefs that a marriage is between a man and a woman, but noted that the country was founded on the separation of church and state.

“We do well by taking this step, not embracing or validating each other’s devoutly held views, but by the simple act of tolerating them,” Lummis said.

The growing GOP support for the issue is a sharp contrast from even a decade ago, when many Republicans vocally opposed same-sex marriages.

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat who is the first openly gay senator and has been working on gay rights issues for almost four decades, said this month that the newfound openness from many Republicans on the subject reminds her “of the arc of the LBGTQ movement to begin with, in the early days when people weren’t out and people knew gay people by myths and stereotypes.”

Baldwin, the lead Senate negotiator on the legislation, said that as more individuals and families have become visible, hearts and minds have changed.

“And slowly laws have followed,” she said. “It is history.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

More Than 400 Groups Urge Congress To Act To Prevent Rail Strike

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 23:02

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The deadline for a nationwide rail strike is 10 days away, and several industries are on edge.

In a letter to congressional leaders, over 400 trade groups wrote: "The risks to our nation's economy and communities simply make a national rail strike unacceptable. Therefore, absent a voluntary agreement, we call on you to take immediate steps to prevent a national rail strike and the certain economic destruction that would follow."

Experts fear a rail stoppage could lead to shortages in everything from gas to food to cars. It could result in price hikes, potentially making current inflation worse. It could also cause a headache for up to 7 million commuters per day.

Ultimately, it'll all come down to whether a deal is reached between rail companies and the unions who want better working conditions.

"I got displaced for my job and had to go work about 300 miles from home, five days a week, was only home for about a day and half every week," said Cory Ludwig, a member of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division.

SEE MORE: U.S. Supply Chain Under Threat As Unions, Railroads Clash

If there's no agreement, railroads could come to a halt at midnight on Dec. 9, threatening to upend an already fragile supply chain.

This comes after a tentative deal was struck in September with an assist from the White House. It gave workers 14% raises with backpay and 24% raises over the course of five years. It also promised $1,000 cash bonuses annually.

But, it was never just about wages. 

"You can work for the company for up to seven years and only have two weeks vacation, no sick days, no personal days, nothing else," said Paul Bellows, a member of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division.

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division is one of the four unions that rejected the deal, in part due to no sick time offered.

If an agreement isn't reached in time, the U.S. economy stands to lose up to $2 billion a day.

In the letter to Congress, trade groups warned the agriculture sector in particular is at risk if delivery of "fertilizers, chlorine, and other products essential to clean water, our food supply, and electricity generation" are interrupted.

Oath Keepers' Stewart Rhodes Guilty Of Seditious Conspiracy

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 22:37

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Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was convicted Tuesday of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

A Washington, D.C., jury found Rhodes guilty of sedition after three days of deliberations in the the nearly two-month-long trial that showcased the far-right extremist group’s efforts to keep Republican Donald Trump in the White House at all costs.

The rarely used, Civil War-era charge calls for up to 20 years behind bars.

Rhodes didn’t go inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but was accused of leading a plot that began shortly after the 2020 election to wage an armed rebellion to stop the transfer of presidential power.

Through recordings and encrypted messages, jurors heard how Rhodes rallied his followers to fight to keep Trump in office, warned of a possible “bloody” civil war and expressed regret that the Oath Keepers didn’t bring rifles to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

In an extraordinary move, Rhodes and two other defendants took the stand in their defense, opening themselves up to intense questioning from prosecutors. Rhodes told jurors there was no plan to attack the Capitol and insisted that his followers who went inside the building went rogue

On trial alongside Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, were Kelly Meggs, leader of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers; Kenneth Harrelson, another Florida Oath Keeper; Thomas Caldwell, a retired Navy intelligence officer from Virginia; and Jessica Watkins, who led an Ohio militia group.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

SEE MORE: Feds: Oath Keepers Sought 'Violent Overthrow' Of Government

Netherlands Beats Host Qatar 2-0 To Advance At World Cup

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 20:35

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The Netherlands still has a long way to go to match the "total football" teams of the 1970s, or even the more offensive "Oranje" squads that reached the World Cup final in 2010 and finished third in 2014.

Still, a 2-0 win over Qatar on Tuesday ensured the Dutch advanced to the round of 16 by finishing first in Group A while the Qataris, who were already eliminated, became the first host to lose all three of its group matches at the World Cup.

"If you play against Qatar everybody will think and expect that you'll win 5-0 or more, but this tournament has shown that it's very difficult," Netherlands midfielder Davy Klassen, who earned player of the match honors, said through a translator.

"We're very critical of ourselves and we need to improve," Klassen added. "But we have progressed and we're going to move on."

SEE MORE: Morocco Pulls Off Another World Cup Upset, Beats Belgium 2-0

Cody Gakpo put the Netherlands ahead midway through the first half with his third goal in as many matches and Frenkie de Jong doubled the advantage five minutes into the second half.

The Netherlands is a three-time runner-up at the World Cup, and also finished third in 2014, while Qatar was making its tournament debut.

Qatar won the 2019 Asian Cup but the team's Spanish coach, Felix Sanchez, said that tournament can't be compared to the World Cup.

"We came here trying to compete and we managed to do that," Sanchez said, adding that he wasn't sure about his future status with the team.

"One of the things about our national team is that we have a long-term plan that doesn't depend on me or anyone else," Sanchez said. "We're going to rest for a few days and we're going to keep working and planning."

SEE MORE: U.S. Frustrates England Again At World Cup In 0-0 Draw

The Netherlands, which failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, finished with seven points at the top of the group. Senegal, which beat Ecuador 2-1 in the other group game, advanced in second place with six points. Ecuador was eliminated with four points and Qatar ended up with zero.

The attendance at Al Bayt Stadium, which also hosted Qatar's loss to Ecuador in the tournament opener, was given as 66,784 — nearly at full capacity. There were small pockets of orange-clad Netherlands supporters, and Qatar fans behind one of the goals chanted in unison and jumped up and down.

At one point during the second half, Qatar fans held aloft a large Palestinian flag that said "Free Palestine" on it.

In the 26th minute, Gakpo took control outside the area, dribbled forward and unleashed a powerful side-footed shot between two defenders that entered inside the right post.

SEE MORE: Ronaldo Makes World Cup History, Portugal Beats Ghana 3-2

Gakpo became the fourth Dutch player to score in three consecutive World Cup games after Johan Neeskens (1974), Dennis Bergkamp (1994) and Wesley Sneijder (2010). He also became only the second player to open the scoring for his team three times in the same group stage after Alessandro Altobelli for Italy in 1986.

"Cody Gakpo has everything it takes to become a star," 71-year-old Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal said. "Plus he has a wonderful personality. He's open minded to everything."

De Jong's goal came when he sprinted forward uncontested to knock in a rebound from close range following a shot from Memphis Depay.

A possible third goal for the Netherlands by Steven Berghuis was waved off following a video review for a handball in the buildup.

Berghuis then hit the bar in added time.

While the Netherlands dominated the possession and created many more chances, Qatar did push forward on occasion and there was a nervous moment for the Dutch when goalkeeper Andries Noppert had trouble collecting a long-range shot from Ismael Mohamed after Gakpo's goal.

SEE MORE: Japan Gets 2 Late Goals To Upset Germany 2-1 At World Cup


Gakpo drew level with France standout Kylian Mbappé and Ecuador veteran Enner Valencia atop the tournament scoring chart.

For club and country in all competitions this season, Gakpo has been involved in 35 goals in 29 appearances with 17 goals scored and 18 assists.

That should make the 23-year-old PSV Eindhoven forward the target for an expensive transfer in the upcoming months.


Van Gaal said his team was boosted by the return to full fitness of Depay and midfielder Marten de Roon.

"The next phase, which is the real, most important part, we can start with a positive feeling," the coach said.


In the round of 16 on Saturday, the Netherlands will face the second-place team from Group B, which includes England, Iran, the United States and Wales.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

10 Things You Should Rent Rather Than Buy

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 19:59

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Renting  vs. buying is a common debate when it comes to home and car ownership. For many years, financial experts insisted that ownership through direct purchase is the best option for people looking to build their credit and financial stability.

In recent years, though, a movement toward renting is gaining traction, especially for high-ticket items. That's because renting often allows people more flexibility when it comes to their finances by keeping the initial investment low.

Renting also cuts down on waste, according to The New School economics professor Teresa Ghilarducci.

"One of the most wasteful aspects of American life is the existence of dead pieces of capital that many of us own but only use 5% of the time," she wrote for Forbes, citing unused gym equipment, pools and even cars.

Many items are better suited for rental or membership rather than purchase because they may only have a limited use based on season or occasion. Or, maybe rental might be the best option before making a purchase to ensure the high-ticket item is worth the investment.

Here are 10 items experts recommend renting instead of buying to maximize your spending power and savings — and reduce clutter in your home. 

Tools and Machinery

The only people who should have a shed or garage full of tools are people who build for a living or are seriously into it for a hobby. For most of us, though, the need for most larger tools or machinery only pops up for a special project or a home emergency.

You can rent tools from well-known retailers including Home Depot or Lowe's when needed. Even better, if you live in a town with a tool lending library, you might be able to borrow what you need. Some tool libraries are free, while others have a small membership fee.

Then, if you decide you truly need it, you can always purchase it later.

Formal Wear

Most of the time, we think of renting formal wear for men — think tuxedos for prom or weddings. However, now anyone can consider renting formal duds for events. Many people only wear these wardrobe pieces once or twice a year. Why shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars for something to sit in a closet most of the time?

Several companies have wardrobes ready for shopping and shipping directly to your home. Rent the Runway offers both one-time rentals and membership plans available for designer outfits in sizes from 0 to 22. For example, this stunning Zulay gown, which has a retail price $499, is available to rent for $75 or for $56 as part of a four-item rental deal with a membership fee.

Recreational Vehicles

If you've ever dreamed of traveling across the country in an RV but didn't have the money to spend or space to store it, then consider renting one.

Money Talks News points out that an RV is a big-ticket purchase that you should never make because of its ongoing upkeep and storage costs. However, rental companies solve this problem for would-be travelers by providing everything needed without the up-front investment or a long-term service and maintenance commitment.

Recreational vehicle rental companies such as Cruise America and Outdoorsy offer everything from vans to full motor coaches available for just a few hundred dollars a night. When you consider this includes sleeping quarters for at least two people, it can be significant cost savings for vacationers.


While it may sound a little morbid and depressing, you do not need to purchase a coffin for a funeral. Many funeral homes offer rental services for the family to use for memorial services. Then, the body can either be buried in a plain box or cremated, depending on the deceased's final wishes. When making final arrangements, talk to the funeral director about this option.

With coffins costing thousands of dollars, a rental option can help alleviate the expenses during this difficult time for a family.

Musical Instruments

Remember when you were in elementary school and taking music lessons? Your parents may have rented an instrument for you to play. That option is still available, for people of all ages. So, if you've ever dreamed of picking up the clarinet again or maybe trying your hand at the piano or guitar, don't go all in and spend the money to buy the instrument. Why spend all that cash when you might discover you may still not love to practice as often as you should?

A quick Google search for music rental shops in your area and a little research on your background can help you get started. Then, head over to the shop, look around, talk to staff and maybe sign up for a few classes.

Baby Gear/Equipment

Families with babies know the necessary hassle of traveling with all the gear required to keep the little ones safe and comfortable. But parents can travel a little lighter by renting things like cribs, strollers, portable cribs and more at their destination.

Travel-weary families looking to make trips a little easier can start by asking hotel staff if they have any supplies or baby furniture. Or, if you're staying in a private home, consider looking for national or local companies that rent baby and toddler gear, including BabyQuip and Baby's Away.

Outdoor Sporting Goods and Equipment

Why have a basement full of costly sporting equipment and camping gear that's collecting dust when you can rent them? Retailers such as REI rent out many different kinds of outdoor gear, and equipment-sharing sites such as let you rent gear including skis, bikes, tents and more.

With a small deposit (often $100 or less), and a small daily fee, you can pick up whatever equipment you need, use it and then return it without having to keep it in your home or pay to store it somewhere — or pay for the up-front cost.

Your Home

This may seem to fly in the face of many experts who say paying rent for a home is like throwing money out the window. But, as licensed real estate broker Rebecca Blacker wrote for U.S. News and World Report, renting a house may be a better option for some people.

Rising mortgage rates can make it difficult for some people to get a home loan, she explained. Another financial consideration is the maintenance costs that come with home ownership. Those who travel often, plan to move regularly or are considering downsizing might want to think about renting a house, condo or apartment instead of sinking a lot of money into a new mortgage.

Pickup Trucks

Pickup trucks are useful in hauling a variety of things. But using them as regular transportation isn't always convenient because of their limited passenger space. And, with higher gas prices and lower miles-per-gallon ratings than cars, filling a pickup truck's gas tank can be a major hit to the wallet.

If you need to haul anything with a truck, there are ways to rent one, from an hour to days at a time. Home improvement retailers such as Home Depot have trucks available to rent for less than $20 an hour for short-distance jobs. If you're looking to move furniture to a new home, there's always U-Haul.

And if you're looking for a nice pickup truck to take on a beach or lake vacation, rental car companies offer truck and trailer rentals for reasonable rates.

At-Home Entertainment

Take a look at your movie and video game collection. Are your shelves piled with DVDs and games that you only watch once in a while? Even with those cabinets stuffed full of options, we often have a hard time deciding what to watch or play.

The neighborhood Blockbuster store might be a thing of the past, but you can still rent movies. And, these days, it's easier than ever. Streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+ and more provide endless entertainment options with just the touch of a remote button. Or, if you like it more old-school, you can pick up a DVD at a Redbox located in many local grocery and convenience stores.

Video games can even be rented through services such as Gamefly and Amazon Prime. This is a fantastic way to try new games for a lot less money than paying for a new title and only playing it once.

For an even better deal on renting movies, TV series, and video games, check out your local library. They often have all of these options available to borrow for weeks at a time for free. You can't beat that price!

Elon Musk Asks Apple For Answers Over Twitter Advertising Standoff

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 18:48

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The tech industry is watching the stare-down between the world's richest man and the world's biggest tech company, Apple.

Late Monday, Twitter owner Elon Musk said Apple has halted most of its advertising on his social platform, hurting the company's already struggling bottom line.

After that claim, Musk tweeted that "Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its app store but won’t tell us why."

In the meantime, Apple CEO Tim Cook has said they're going to continue to monitor how Twitter moderates its content under the month-old ownership of Elon Musk.

Apple potentially removing Twitter from its app store would be a pretty dramatic outcome, but it's something the company has previously shown it's willing to do. In addition to claiming that Twitter may be removed from the app store, Musk also said Apple has halted most of its advertising on Twitter, and asked the company "if they hate free speech in America?"

SEE MORE: Twitter Users Fear App Shutdown After Hundreds Of Employees Quit

Musk also appealed directly to Apple’s CEO, asking "What’s going on here, Tim Cook?" 

There's been no response yet from Apple on Musk's claims, but removing apps from the app store is a move typically reserved for egregious violations. If the Twitter app were pulled, the social network would lose one of its main distribution platforms.

Watchdog site Media Matters reported last week half of Twitter’s top advertisers, including Jeep, Ford and AT&T, have halted spending amid concerns about the direction Twitter is headed. 

In an effort to try and save money, Musk went on a firing frenzy over at Twitter. And Musk is set to re-launch Twitter’s paid subscription service Twitter Blue this Friday, promising improvements like a manual verification process.

Qatar Says Worker Deaths For World Cup 'Between 400 And 500'

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 18:33

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A top Qatari official involved in the country's World Cup organization has put the number of worker deaths for the tournament "between 400 and 500" for the first time, a drastically higher number than any other previously offered by Doha.

The comment by Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary-general of Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, appeared to come off the cuff during an interview with British journalist Piers Morgan.

It also threatened to reinvigorate criticism by human rights groups over the toll of hosting the Middle East's first World Cup for the migrant labor that built over $200 billion worth of stadiums, metro lines and new infrastructure needed for the tournament.

In the interview, portions of which Morgan posted online, the British journalist asks al-Thawadi: "What is the honest, realistic total do you think of migrant workers who died from – as a result of work they're doing for the World Cup in totality?"

"The estimate is around 400, between 400 and 500," al-Thawadi responds. "I don't have the exact number. That's something that's been discussed."

But that figure hasn't been discussed publicly by Qatari officials previously. Reports from the Supreme Committee dating from 2014 through the end of 2021 only include the number of deaths of workers involved in building and refurbishing the stadiums now hosting the World Cup.

Those released figures put the total number of deaths at 40. They include 37 from what the Qataris describe as nonwork incidents such as heart attacks and three from workplace incidents. One report also separately lists a worker death from the coronavirus amid the pandemic.

Al-Thawadi pointed to those figures when discussing work just on stadiums in the interview, right before offering the "between 400 to 500" death toll for all the infrastructure for the tournament.

SEE MORE: Qatar Detains Workers Protesting Late Pay Before World Cup

In a later statement, the Supreme Committee said al-Thawadi was referring to "national statistics covering the period of 2014-2020 for all work-related fatalities (414) nationwide in Qatar, covering all sectors and nationalities."

Since FIFA awarded the tournament to Qatar in 2010, the country has taken some steps to overhaul the country's employment practices. That includes eliminating its so-called kafala employment system, which tied workers to their employers, who had say over whether they could leave their jobs or even the country.

Qatar also has adopted a minimum monthly wage of 1,000 Qatari riyals ($275) for workers and required food and housing allowances for employees not receiving those benefits directly from their employers. It also has updated its worker safety rules to prevent deaths.

"One death is a death too many. Plain and simple," al-Thawadi adds in the interview.

Activists have called on Doha to do more, particularly when it comes to ensuring workers receive their salaries on time and are protected from abusive employers.

Al-Thawadi's comment also renews questions on the veracity of both government and private business reporting on worker injuries and deaths across the Gulf Arab states, whose skyscrapers have been built by laborers from South Asia nations like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

"This is just the latest example of Qatar's inexcusable lack of transparency on the issues of workers' deaths," said Nicholas McGeehan of Fairsquare, a London-based group which advocates for migrant workers in the Middle East. "We need proper data and thorough investigations, not vague figures announced through media interviews.

"FIFA and Qatar still have a lot of questions to answer, not least where, when, and how did these men die and did their families receive compensation."

Mustafa Qadri, the executive director of Equidem Research, a labor consultancy that has published reports on the toll of the construction on migrant laborers, also said he was surprised by al-Thawadi's remark.

"For him now to come and say there is hundreds, it's shocking," he told The Associated Press. "They have no idea what's going on."

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

President Biden Calls On Congress To Prevent Potential Rail Strike

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 18:18

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President Joe Biden on Monday asked Congress to intervene and block a railroad strike before next month’s deadline in the stalled contract talks, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said lawmakers would take up legislation this week to impose the deal that unions agreed to in September.

“Let me be clear: a rail shutdown would devastate our economy,” President Biden said in a statement. “Without freight rail, many U.S. industries would shut down.”

In a statement, Pelosi said: “We are reluctant to bypass the standard ratification process for the Tentative Agreement — but we must act to prevent a catastrophic nationwide rail strike, which would grind our economy to a halt.”

Pelosi said the House would not change the terms of the September agreement, which would challenge the Senate to approve the House bill without changes.

SEE MORE: U.S. Supply Chain Under Threat As Unions, Railroads Clash

The September agreement that President Biden and Pelosi are calling for is a slight improvement over what the board of arbitrators recommended in the summer. The September agreement added three unpaid days off a year for engineers and conductors to tend to medical appointments as long as they scheduled them at least 30 days in advance. The railroads also promised in September not to penalize workers who are hospitalized and to negotiate further with the unions after the contract is approved about improving the regular scheduling of days off.

Hundreds of business groups had been urging Congress and the president to step into the deadlocked contract talk and prevent a strike.

Both the unions and railroads have been lobbying Congress while contract talks continue. If Congress acts, it will end talks between the railroads and four rail unions that rejected their deals President Biden helped broker before the original strike deadline in September. Eight other unions have approved their five-year deals with the railroads and are in the process of getting back pay for their workers for the 24% raises that are retroactive to 2020.

If Congress does what President Biden suggests and imposes terms similar to what was agreed on in September, that will end the union’s push to add paid sick time. The four unions that have rejected their deals have been pressing for the railroads to add that benefit to help address workers’ quality of life concerns, but the railroads had refused to consider that.

SEE MORE: Earlier This Year: Biden Intervenes In Railroad Contract Fight To Block Strike

President Biden said that as a “a proud pro-labor president” he was reluctant to override the views of people who voted against the agreement. “But in this case — where the economic impact of a shutdown would hurt millions of other working people and families — I believe Congress must use its powers to adopt this deal."

President Biden's remarks and Pelosi's statement came after a coalition of more than 400 business groups sent a letter to congressional leaders Monday urging them to step into the stalled talks because of fears about the devastating potential impact of a strike that could force many businesses to shut down if they can’t get the rail deliveries they need. Commuter railroads and Amtrak would also be affected in a strike because many of them use tracks owned by the freight railroads.

The business groups led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and National Retail Federation said even a short-term strike would have a tremendous impact and the economic pain would start to be felt even before the Dec. 9 strike deadline. They said the railroads would stop hauling hazardous chemicals, fertilizers and perishable goods up to a week beforehand to keep those products from being stranded somewhere along the tracks.

“A potential rail strike only adds to the headwinds facing the U.S. economy,” the businesses wrote. “A rail stoppage would immediately lead to supply shortages and higher prices. The cessation of Amtrak and commuter rail services would disrupt up to 7 million travelers a day. Many businesses would see their sales disrupted right in the middle of the critical holiday shopping season.”

A similar group of businesses sent another letter to President Biden last month urging him to play a more active role in resolving the contract dispute.

On Monday, the Association of American Railroads trade group praised President Biden’s action.

“No one benefits from a rail work stoppage — not our customers, not rail employees and not the American economy,” said AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies. “Now is the appropriate time for Congress to pass legislation to implement the agreements already ratified by eight of the twelve unions."

Business groups that have been pushing for Congress to settle this contract dispute praised President Biden’s move.

“The Biden administration’s endorsement of congressional intervention affirms what America’s food, beverage, household and personal care manufacturers have been saying: Freight rail operations cannot shut down and imperil the availability and affordability of consumers’ everyday essentials,” said Tom Madrecki, vice president of supply chain for the Consumer Brands Association. “The consequences to consumers if a strike were to occur are too serious, especially amid continued supply chain challenges and disruptions.”

Clark Ballew, a spokesman for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division, which represents track maintenance workers, said before President Biden's announcement that the union was "headed to D.C. this week to meet with lawmakers on the Hill from both parties. We have instructed our members to contact their federal lawmakers in the House and Senate for several weeks now.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Neil Bradley said President Biden was correct in advocating for the deal already reached. “Congress must do what it has done 18 times before: intervene against a national rail strike," Bradley said in a statement, and he called Congress enforcing the deal agreed to by railroads and union leaders the "only path to avoid crippling strike.”

The railroads, which include Union Pacific, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, CSX and Kansas City Southern, wanted any deal to closely follow the recommendations a special board of arbitrators that President Biden appointed made this summer that called for the 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses but didn't resolve workers' concerns about demanding schedules that make it hard to take a day off and other working conditions. That's what President Biden is calling on Congress to impose.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Survivor Of Virginia Walmart Mass Shooting Files $50M Suit

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 17:48

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Walmart employee who survived last week's mass shooting at a store in Virginia has filed a $50 million lawsuit against the company for allegedly continuing to employ the shooter — a store supervisor — "who had known propensities for violence, threats and strange behavior."

The lawsuit, which appears to be the first to stem from the shooting, was filed Tuesday in Chesapeake Circuit Court by Donya Prioleau. Walmart, which is headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, did not immediately respond to a written request seeking comment on the litigation.

Prioleau's suit alleges that she has experienced post-traumatic distress disorder, including physical and emotional distress, from witnessing the rampage in the store's breakroom on Nov. 22.

SEE MORE: 7 Dead, Including Gunman, In Virginia Walmart Shooting

"Bullets whizzed by Plaintiff Donya Prioleau's face and left side, barely missing her," the lawsuit states. "She witnessed several of her coworkers being brutally murdered on either side of her."

The lawsuit adds: "Ms. Prioleau looked at one of her coworkers in the eyes right after she had been shot in the neck. Ms. Prioleau saw the bullet wound in her coworker's neck, the blood rushing out of it, and the shocked look on her coworker's helpless face."

The store supervisor fatally shot six employees and wounded several others before he died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot, police said.

The lawsuit alleges that he "had a personal vendetta against several Walmart employees and kept a 'kill list' of potential targets prior to the shooting."

SEE MORE: Witness: Walmart Shooter Seemed To Target Certain People

The lawsuit also states that Prioleau had submitted a formal complaint on a Walmart Global Ethics Statement Form indicating that the shooter had "bizarrely and inappropriately commented on Ms. Prioleau's age."The lawsuit alleges that he told her: "Isn't your lady clock ticking? Shouldn't you be having kids?"

Prioleau also complained that the supervisor had harassed her for "being poor and being short," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states that she also informed Walmart that he called her a "bitch" under his breath."Despite [the supervisor's] long-standing pattern of disturbing and threatening behavior, Walmart knew or should have known about [his] disturbing and threatening behavior, but failed to terminate [him], restrict his access to common areas, conduct a thorough background investigation, or subject him to a mental health examination," the lawsuit states.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

U.S. Bat Species Devastated By Fungus Now Listed As Endangered

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 17:24

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The Biden administration declared the northern long-eared bat endangered on Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to save a species driven to the brink of extinction by white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease.

"White-nose syndrome is decimating cave-dwelling bat species like the northern long-eared bat at unprecedented rates," said Martha Williams, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The agency is "deeply committed to working with partners on a balanced approach that reduces the impacts of disease and protects the survivors to recover northern long-eared bat populations," she said.

First documented in the U.S. in 2006, the disease has infected 12 types of bats and killed millions. The northern long-eared bat is among the hardest hit, with estimated declines of 97% or higher in affected populations. The bat is found in 37 eastern and north-central states, plus Washington, D.C., and much of Canada.

Named for white, fuzzy spots that appear on infected bats, white-nose syndrome attacks bats' wings, muzzles and ears when they hibernate in caves and abandoned mines.

SEE MORE: Migratory Monarch Butterfly Added To Endangered Species List

It causes them to wake early from hibernation and to sometimes fly outside. They can burn up their winter fat stores and eventually starve.

The disease has spread across nearly 80% of the geographical range where northern long-eared bats live and is expected to cover it all by 2025.

Another species ravaged by the fungus is the tricolored bat, which the government proposed to classify as endangered in September.

Bats are believed to give U.S. agriculture an annual boost of $3 billion by gobbling pests and pollinating some plants.

The Fish and Wildlife Service designated the northern long-eared bat as threatened in 2015. With its situation increasingly dire, the agency proposed an endangered listing in March and considered public comments before deciding to proceed. The reclassification takes effect Jan. 30, 2023.

In many cases, the service identifies "critical habitat" areas considered particularly important for the survival of an endangered species. Officials decided against doing so for the northern long-eared bat because habitat loss isn't the primary reason for its decline, spokeswoman Georgia Parham said. Calling attention to their winter hibernation spots could make things worse, she added.

SEE MORE: Animals Heading For Extinction Over Habitat Destruction, Poaching

Recovery efforts will focus on wooded areas where the bats roost in summer — usually alone or in small groups, nestling beneath bark or in tree cavities and crevices. Emerging at dusk, they feed on moths, beetles and other insects.

Under the Endangered Species Act, federal agencies are required to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service to be sure projects that they fund or authorize — such as timber harvests, prescribed fires and highway construction — will not jeopardize a listed species' existence.

For nonfederal landowners, actions that could result in unintentional kills could be allowed but will require permits.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said that it will also work with wind energy companies to reduce the likelihood that bats will strike turbines. These collisions are currently a threat in roughly half of the northern long-eared bat's range, an area likely to grow as wind energy development expands.

The service has approved nearly two dozen plans allowing wind energy and forestry projects to proceed after steps were taken to make them more bat-friendly, said Karen Herrington, Midwest regional coordinator for threatened and endangered species.

Operators can limit the danger by curtailing blade rotation during bats' migration season and when winds are low.

Research continues for methods to fight white-nose syndrome, including development of a vaccine. The service has distributed more than $46 million for the campaign, which involves around 150 agencies, private organizations and Native American tribes.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Explaining The Reemergence Of Antisemitism

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 17:18

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The Tree of Life Synagogue shooting happened four years ago. It remains the worst single act of violence against Jews in America. And since that Fall day in 2018, findings show that antisemitic hate incidents have reached their highest levels in over 40 years. 

In this segment, The Why traces the history of antisemitic hate and the tools and methods that contribute to its spread, and explores the communities that are coming together to counter antisemitism in all its forms.


SEE MORE: How Mass Shootings Have Rattled The American Jewish Community

What's Cheaper: Turning Up The Thermostat Or Using Space Heaters?

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 16:47

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When the days get chilly, it's natural to want to crank up the heat in your home. After all, there are only so many layers you can wear. But if you're worried about the cost of turning the temperature up on the thermostat, you might want to consider which is cheaper in the long run: a space heater or whole-house heating.

But before you can really compare the cost of whole-house heating versus space heaters, there are some factors to consider that are individual to your home.

Your Fuel Source Matters

In October, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its winter fuels outlook that heating costs would be higher this winter than in recent years. This is because fuel prices are up, but also because the forecast indicates slightly colder weather is coming.

According to the EIA, heating costs for fuel sources will increase the most for natural gas, but it will still be the cheapest fuel source, followed by electricity. Propane and heating oil are the most expensive.

There are many factors that go into your heating bill, from your home's fuel source for heat to efficiency, as well as how you're using your space (more on that below). But in general, since central heating powered by natural gas is cheaper than heat from electricity, heating a large space will cost less with an HVAC system that runs on gas.

However, the biggest thing to consider when deciding whether to turn up your thermostat or use space heaters is whether the goal is to heat a smaller space or a larger space. If you're mostly using just a room or two in your home, it might make sense to turn down the thermostat and run a space heater in the room you're occupying.

SEE MORE: Report: Americans To Pay More To Heat Their Homes This Winter

Why Space Heaters Can Work Well For One Or Two Rooms

If you need multiple space heaters in several rooms, you're likely not saving much money versus turning up your whole-house heating system.

"Buying a space heater for every room would increase the electricity bill more than if you had just bumped up the thermostat," Mikelann Scerbo, research manager for the Alliance to Save Energy, told Save on Energy.

Here's why. According to CNET, most of us pay an average of about 20 cents an hour to run a 1,500-watt space heater in an average-sized room. Over eight hours, that's $1.60 a day, or $50 a month. If you are using multiple space heaters, increase that average by $50 a month times the number of heaters.

However, the average American home racks up about $120 in energy bills each month, with about half of that going to cooling and heating, the moving experts at say. The age of your appliances, your location and the insulation and size of your house are all factors in cost, of course, but that average of $60 pales in comparison to the average cost of using multiple space heaters.

But what if, for example, you spend most of your day in your home office? Or your whole family hangs out together in the living room every evening? Does it make sense to turn down the thermostat and to run a space heater in that room?

It might, especially if it's not a huge room. Grist offered a helpful rule of thumb to consider: If the space you're looking to heat is less than half or a third of your house's total area, space heaters may save you money.

You'll also want to consider if you're getting up and moving a lot — you'll be chilly as you move between colder rooms and those that have space heaters.

SEE MORE: 10 Money-Saving Tips For A Warmer House Without Turning Up The Heat

Keep Safety And Efficiency In Mind

If you're considering boosting the heat in a room or two with space heaters, there are a few things to keep in mind.

The most energy-efficient ones use radiant heat to focus on heating people, not the air. Electric infrared heaters are especially effective because they heat people and objects, not air. You'll want to consider size and wattage, and determine which heat setting you prefer.

When buying space heaters, you'll also want to look for ones with safety measures like auto-off settings. Space heaters cause thousands of fires every year.

If you're using space heaters, take heed of manufacturer warnings and do not run them for extended periods of time. Keep them away from combustible materials, such as bedding, and place them in areas where they are less prone to tipping over. Be careful of plugging them into overloaded outlets. If they have frayed cords, don't use them.

Other Ways To Warm Up Your Home

How's your home's insulation? Beyond how old your windows and doors are, and what insulation was used when your home was built, there are short-term measures you can take to keep cold from seeping through your house, like door draft stoppers and window insulation kits.

You can also maximize natural heat by keeping window treatments open on south-facing windows on sunny days.

And don't forget that you can always add a blanket to your bed or wear an extra layer.

Apple Music Reveals Top Music In 2022 And Listener Charts

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 16:39

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The smash hit by The Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber “Stay” topped Apple Music’s global song chart in 2022 as the giant music streamer released its end-of-year lists and provided listeners with data on their own most-listened-to tunes. 

“Stay,” which stayed atop the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks this summer, was No. 1 on Apple Music's top 100 global songs chart, staying on top for 51 days straight. Elton John and Dua Lipa's “Cold Heart (PNAU Remix)” was No. 1 on the streamer's Shazam chart, and “We Don't Talk About Bruno” from the movie musical “Encanto” was the song with the most-read lyrics in 2022 on the platform.

SEE MORE: Concerts Surge As More Artists Return To The Stage

Joining “Stay” at the very top of the global songs list were “As It Was” by Harry Styles, “Wait For U” by Future featuring Drake and Tems, “Super Gremlin” by Kodak Black, “Easy on Me” by Adele, and “Heat Wave” by Glass Animals. Hip-hop continued to lead the different genres on the global top 100 with 32 songs, followed by pop with 23 songs and R&B/soul in third place with 11 songs.

The data shows the growing presence of non-English-language tunes, with African songs on the rise on the Shazam chart as well as the global daily 100, while Japanese-language songs made big gains on the most-read lyrics chart.

“It’s really the rise of what was once very niche genres creeping into the mainstream, which is an exciting new development on the platform,” said Rachel Newman, global head of editorial.

Twenty-one non-English songs were in the global Top 100, more than double the number of songs last year. Fifty-five Latin songs reached the Global Daily Top 100 in 2022 — up 22% from 2021. In 2022, six of the 50 J-pop songs to reach the chart placed in the top 10; last year none were in the top 10.

SEE MORE: Mariachi Music Is Starting To Cross Cultures, Borders

The streamer began notifying users Tuesday that Apple Music Replay was ready. The feature lets users see and hear their favorite songs, albums, artists and playlists from the past year as well as total minutes on the service. One new feature is that superfans can discover whether they are in the top 100 listeners of their favorite artist or genre.

Replay — Apple's alternative to Spotify’s Wrapped playlist — has been redesigned with new, sleek functionality and optimized for sharing on social media like TikTok or Instagram. The charts are dynamic all year, so listeners can check any time to see how their music is charting. Eligibility is based on a threshold of plays and time spent listening.

In November, Apple Music crowned the Puerto Rican reggaeton superstar Bad Bunny its Artist of the Year, thanks in large part to his latest album, “Un Verano Sin Ti,” which became Apple Music’s most streamed album of 2022 and its biggest Latin album of all time.

Apple Music had a big 2022 itself, hitting a milestone in October when it recorded its 100 millionth song on the streaming service. That's more than YouTube Music’s 80 million songs, Spotify’s 82 million tracks and podcasts, and Amazon Music’s 90 million songs.

“One hundred million songs for us is really significant because I think it is such a kind of great reflection of just how diverse and enormous the music world is these days,” Newman said. “It’s the largest and most diverse collection of music in any kind of format ever in the history of music, which is just pretty astounding.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Houston Lifts Boil-Water Order Affecting More Than 2 Million People

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 15:31

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Houston officials lifted an order Tuesday that had called for more than 2 million people in the nation's fourth-largest city to boil their tap water before drinking or using it.

The boil order had been in effect since Sunday, when a power outage at a purification plant caused pressure to drop.

The order led to the closure of businesses and schools, including the Houston Independent School District, which canceled classes Monday and Tuesday. The city rescinded the order shortly before 7 a.m. Tuesday.

The city said water quality samples sent to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality confirmed the tap water meets regulatory standards and is safe to drink.

At a news conference Monday, Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city issued the notice, which affects all of Houston and some adjacent areas, in an "abundance of caution" after two transformers — a main one and its backup — "uniquely and coincidentally" failed at a water plant. The problem affected the plant's ability to treat and pump water into the transmission system, resulting in low pressure.

SEE MORE: Water Boil Order Issued For More Than 2 Million In Houston

Because the issue was within the plant's system, backup power generators would not have made a difference, Turner said. Since the transformers were down, they couldn't transmit power to the plant.

The power system at the water plant undergoes regular maintenance, Turner said, but he did not give a timeline for how often. The mayor said he has ordered a diagnostic review of the system to understand how the problem was possible and how it can be prevented.

Sixteen sensors marked dips under the minimum pressure levels required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, 14 of them for only 2 minutes and two of them for nearly 30 minutes, Turner said.

Typically, there is enough pressure for water to flow out of leaky pipes. When pressure is lost, however, contamination like bacteria sitting near pipes can be sucked into the system, creating a health risk.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

NATO Commits To Future Ukraine Membership, Drums Up Aid

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 15:02

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reaffirmed the military alliance's commitment to Ukraine on Tuesday, saying that the war-torn nation will one day become a member of the world's largest security organization.

Stoltenberg's remarks came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his NATO counterparts gathered in Romania to drum up urgently needed support for Ukraine aimed at ensuring that Moscow fails to defeat the country as it bombards energy infrastructure.

SEE MORE: Why NATO Is Expanding?

“NATO’s door is open,” Stoltenberg said. “Russia does not have a veto” on countries joining, he said in reference to the recent entry of North Macedonia and Montenegro into the security alliance. He said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “will get Finland and Sweden as NATO members” soon. The Nordic neighbors applied for membership in April, concerned that Russia might target them next.

“We stand by that, too, on membership for Ukraine," the former Norwegian prime minister said.

In essence, Stoltenberg repeated a vow made by NATO leaders in Bucharest in 2008 — in the same sprawling Palace of the Parliament where the foreign ministers are meeting this week — that Ukraine, and also Georgia, would join the alliance one day.

Some officials and analysts believe this move — pressed on the NATO allies by former U.S. President George W. Bush — was partly responsible for the war that Russia launched on Ukraine in February. Stoltenberg disagreed.

“President Putin cannot deny sovereign nations to make their own sovereign decisions that are not a threat to Russia,” he said. “I think what he’s afraid of is democracy and freedom, and that’s the main challenge for him.”

SEE MORE: U.S. Unveils $2B In Additional Military Aid For Europe

Even so, Ukraine will not join NATO anytime soon. With the Crimean Peninsula annexed, and Russian troops and pro-Moscow separatists holding parts of the south and east, it’s not clear what Ukraine’s borders would even look like.

Many of NATO's 30 allies believe the focus now must solely be on defeating Russia, and Stoltenberg stressed that any attempt to move ahead on membership could divide them.

“We are in the midst of a war and therefore we should do nothing that can undermine the unity of allies to provide military, humanitarian, financial support to Ukraine, because we must prevent President Putin from winning,” he said.

During the two-day meeting, Blinken will announce substantial U.S. aid for Ukraine’s energy grid, U.S. officials said. Ukraine’s network has been battered countrywide since early October by targeted Russian strikes, in what U.S. officials call a Russian campaign to weaponize the coming winter cold.

“We are all paying a price for Russia’s war against Ukraine. But the price we pay is in money," Stoltenberg said Tuesday, “while the price Ukrainians pay is a price paid in blood.”

The meeting in Romania — which shares NATO's longest land border with Ukraine — is likely to see NATO make fresh pledges of nonlethal support to Ukraine: fuel, generators, medical supplies, winter equipment and drone-jamming devices.

Individual allies are also likely to announce fresh supplies of military equipment for Ukraine — chiefly the air defense systems that Kyiv so desperately seeks to protect its skies — but NATO, as an organization, will not, to avoid being dragged into a wider war with nuclear-armed Russia.

The ministers will hold a working dinner with their Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, on Tuesday evening.

The foreign ministers of NATO candidates Finland and Sweden are joining the talks. NATO is eager to add the two Nordic nations to the defensive forces lined up against Russia. Turkey and Hungary are the holdouts on ratifying their applications. The 28 other member nations have already done so.

On Wednesday, the ministers will also address ways to step up support for partners who officials have said are facing Russian pressure — Bosnia, Georgia and Moldova.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Students Sent Home, Police On Patrol As China Curbs Protests

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 14:23

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Chinese universities sent students home and police fanned out in Beijing and Shanghai to prevent more protests Tuesday after crowds angered by severe anti-virus restrictions called for leader Xi Jinping to resign in the biggest show of public dissent in decades.

Authorities have eased some controls after demonstrations in at least eight mainland cities and Hong Kong — but showed no sign of backing off their larger "zero-COVID" strategy that has confined millions of people to their homes for months at a time. Security forces have detained an unknown number of people and stepped up surveillance.

With police out in force, there was no word of protests Tuesday in Beijing, Shanghai or other major mainland cities that saw crowds rally over the weekend. Those widespread demonstrations were unprecedented since the army crushed the 1989 student-led pro-democracy movement centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

A far smaller group did gather at a university in Hong Kong on Tuesday to protest virus restrictions.

Meanwhile, Beijing's Tsinghua University, where students rallied over the weekend, and other schools in the capital and the southern province of Guangdong said they were protecting students from COVID-19 by sending them home.

But dispersing them to far-flung hometowns also reduces the likelihood of more demonstrations. Chinese leaders are especially wary of universities, which have been hotbeds of activism including the Tiananmen protests.

On Sunday, Tsinghua students were told they could go home early for the semester and that the school would arrange buses to take them to the train station or airport.

Nine student dorms at Tsinghua were closed Monday after some students positive for COVID-19, according to one who noted the closure would make it hard for crowds to gather. The student gave only his surname, Chen, for fear of retribution from authorities.

Beijing Forestry University also said it would arrange for students to return home. It said its faculty and students all tested negative for the virus.

Universities said classes and final exams would be conducted online.

Authorities hope to "defuse the situation" by clearing out campuses, said Dali Yang, an expert on Chinese politics at the University of Chicago.

Depending on how tough a position the government takes, protests could continue on a "rotational" basis, with new groups taking turns, he said.

SEE MORE: China Eases Some COVID Rules After Wide Protests Of Lockdowns

But many people are nervous after police detained some protesters and warned them against demonstrating again.

In Shanghai, police stopped pedestrians and checked their phones Monday night, according to a witness, possibly looking for apps such as Twitter that are banned in China or images of protests. The witness, who insisted on anonymity for fear of arrest, said he was on his way to a protest but found no crowd there when he arrived.

Images viewed by The Associated Press of photos from a weekend protest showed police shoving the people into their cars. Some people were also swept up in police raids after demonstrations ended.

One such person, who lived near the site of a protest in Shanghai, was detained Sunday and held until Tuesday morning, according to two friends who also insisted on anonymity for fear of retribution from authorities.

In Beijing, police on Monday visited a resident who attended a protest the previous night, according to a friend who refused to be identified for fear of retaliation. He said the police questioned the resident and warned him not to go more protests.

On Tuesday, about a dozen people gathered at the University of Hong Kong, chanting against virus restrictions and holding up sheets of paper with critical slogans. Most were from the mainland, which has a separate legal system from the Chinese territory of Hong Kong, and some spectators joined in their chants.

The protesters held signs that read, "Say no to COVID panic" and "No dictatorship but democracy."

One chanted: "We're not foreign forces but your classmates." That's a reference to the fact that Chinese authorities often accuse foreign powers of fomenting dissent.

China's "zero-COVID" policy has helped keep case numbers lower than those of the United States and other major countries, but global health experts have increasingly criticized the methods as unsustainable.

The policy means that few Chinese have been exposed to the virus. Meanwhile, elderly vaccination rates lag other countries as seniors decline the shots, and China's domestically developed vaccines are also less effective than those used abroad.

Public tolerance of the onerous restrictions has eroded as some people confined at home said they struggled to get access to food and medicine.

The Chinese Communist Party promised last month to reduce disruptions, but a spike in infections has prompted cities to tighten controls.

The protests over the weekend were sparked by anger over the deaths of at least 10 people in a fire in China's far west last week that prompted angry questions online about whether firefighters or victims trying to escape were blocked by anti-virus controls.

Most protesters over the weekend complained about excessive restrictions, but some turned their anger at Xi, China's most powerful leader since at least the 1980s.

SEE MORE: Beijing On Edge As City Adds New Quarantine Centers

In a video that was verified by The Associated Press, a crowd in Shanghai on Saturday chanted, "Xi Jinping! Step down! CCP! Step down!" Such direct criticism of Xi is unprecedented.

Sympathy protests were held overseas, and foreign governments have called on Beijing for restraint.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters that the American position on the protests in China was the same as it was for demonstrations anywhere.

"We support the right of people everywhere to peacefully protest, to make known their views, their concerns, their frustrations," he said while in Bucharest, Romania, on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the British government summoned China's ambassador as a protest over the arrest and beating of a BBC cameraman in Shanghai.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said that "it is incredibly important that we protect media freedom. It is something very, very much at the heart of the U.K.'s belief system."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian disputed the U.K. version of events, saying Edward Lawrence failed to identify himself as a journalist and accusing the BBC of twisting the story.

Asked about criticism of the crackdown, Zhao defended Beijing's anti-virus strategy and said the public's legal rights were protected by law.

The government is trying to "provide maximum protection to people's lives and health while minimizing the COVID impact on social and economic development," he said.

Wang Dan, a former student leader of the 1989 demonstrations who now lives in exile, said the protest "symbolizes the beginning of a new era in China ... in which Chinese civil society has decided not to be silent and to confront tyranny."

But he warned at a Taipei news conference that authorities were likely to respond with "stronger force to violently suppress protesters."

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Iran-U.S. World Cup Clash Rife With Political Tension

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 13:30

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A win means a trip to the next round of 16, and for Iran it would be the first time in the country's World Cup history.

Team U.S.A. insists it's just a soccer match, but if history is any guide, the showdown between the two political enemies could be a highly emotional affair.

The two countries faced off once before at the 1998 World Cup in France. That match, which Iran wan, took place 19 years after the 1979 Islamic revolution overthrew the U.S.-backed Shah.

After two decades of animosity, there was hope that the match would bring the U.S. and Iran closer.

SEE MORE: At The World Cup, Iran Protests Are In The Spotlight

On Tuesday, emotions between the two nations are still running high and moving in opposite directions.

Earlier this week, Iran asked the soccer governing body FIFA to kick America out of the tournament after the U.S. Soccer Federation briefly posted Iran's flag without the symbol of the Islamic Republic.

For more than two months, Iranians have taken to the streets to protest the repressive Islamic regime and its brutal crackdown of the protest movement.

The unrest was sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini while in custody of the country's morality police after she was arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab too loosely. However, Iranian leaders accuse the U.S. of orchestrating the protests.

SEE MORE: Iran Government Supporters Confront Protesters At World Cup

A World Cup win against the U.S. — which they refer to as "The Great Satan" — could prove handy, but could also backfire.

"We should be quite clear of the type of challenges they will face if the Iranian team wins," said Trita Parsi of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. "Theres a decent likelihood that there will be massive crowds going out onto the streets celebrating under those circumstances. Those could turn into protests against the regime, and the regime would have great difficulty handling it."

At the same time, experts say most Iranians don't buy their government's rhetoric.

"There is a gap between the state and society," said Saeid Golkar, Senior Fellow on Iran Policy at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "While the regime is anti-American, the [Iranian] society in general is pro-American."

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.