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NHL bans all theme-night gear, including rainbow Pride tape

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 18:42


The NHL recently sent a memo to teams outlining what they can and can’t wear as part of themed nights during games.  

Among the things now banned on the ice is rainbow stick tape, which has become a hot-button issue during Pride-themed nights in recent years, ESPN reported. 

The NHL had announced in June that teams were no longer allowed to wear "specialty" jerseys during warmups, practices or games after a handful of players opted out of those situations during Pride night last season — which the league said was a distraction. 

However, players can still voluntarily participate in themed celebrations off the ice. 

Former league and team executive Brian Burke, who often advocates for inclusion in sports, criticized the decision that he says removes a powerful community outreach tool and  meaningful support to protect a select few who don’t want to answer questions about their choices.

“This is not inclusion or progress,” Burke, who spent six years as the NHL's executive vice president and director of hockey operations, said in a statement posted to social media. “Fans look to teams and the league to show they are welcome, and this directive closes a door that’s been open for the last decade. Make no mistake, this is a surprising and serious setback.”

This decision has stripped clubs of a powerful community outreach tool and removed meaningful support for Special Initiatives, all to protect a select few who do not want to answer any questions about their choices. I hope the NHL reconsiders in order to remain a leader in DEI.

— Brian Burke (@Burkie2020) October 11, 2023

The makers of Pride Tape also said they are "extremely disappointed" by the NHL's decision to ban players from using the rainbow stick tape in support of the LGBTQ+ community this season, ESPN reported

"The league has used language in recent days that would prohibit the tape from any proximity to NHL hockey. We hope the league — and teams — will again show commitment to this important symbol of combating homophobia," Pride Tape said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov was the first player to decide not to take part in warmups when the team wore rainbow-colored jerseys before their Pride night game, citing his Russian Orthodox religion. 

Other players followed for a variety of reasons, and individual teams including the New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks decided not to have any players wear Pride jerseys in warmup.

Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly told reporters in Toronto he wished players had the right to do more and be more involved, the Associated Press reported.

“I’m going to continue to be involved in the community and offer support to those communities and those groups that want that (and) need that,” Rielly said.

SEE MORE: NHL players asked by coach to see photos. Was that legal?

Chipotle is increasing menu prices again to 'offset inflation'

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 18:39


First it was streaming services, then it was Girl Scout cookies. Now, inflation is hitting one of America's most popular Tex-Mex fast food restaurants too.

Chipotle Mexican Grill confirmed to USA Today that customers will soon see a "modest" increase in prices, marking the company's fourth price hike in just two years. Laurie Schalow, Chipotle's chief corporate affairs officer, told the outlet that the changes are intended "to offset inflation" and may impact menu options across the board, though the company has yet to determine which items will be impacted.

SEE MORE: Chipotle getting robotic with making bowls, salads

The last time Chipotle increased its prices was back in August 2022, when customers ended up paying $1 or more extra for the same menu items as before. The restaurant chain had previously raised prices by about 4% in June 2021 and then again in the first quarter of 2022.

Despite the price hikes in recent years, Chipotle reported a 13.6% increase in revenue in the second quarter of this year, bringing in about $2.5 billion. The company also opened 47 new restaurants, including 40 locations with a drive-thru Chipotlane.

The company's continued success and rising profits indicate that customers, at least for now, don't seem to be shying away from paying a little extra for their double-meat or guac on the side.

Lexi Thompson wants to inspire at PGA Tour event

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 18:11


Lexi Thompson became the seventh woman ever to participate in a PGA Tour event, finishing Thursday 1-over par when play was suspended after 16 holes. She went out early Friday and finished the round at 2-over par. 

Participating in the Shriners Open, she had three birdies during her first round. 

Thompson said that getting the opportunity to play on the PGA Tour was an "automatic yes." 

"If I can leave here inspiring others, and especially the kids, the Shriners kids, that's what it's all about and what this tournament is. There is more than just playing golf," Thompson said. "If I can inspire one individual I would feel like I'm making progress. Of course, yes, I want to play good. That's a whole 'nother story. There is more to life than performing well. That's what I want to, inspire others."

Thompson said prior to Thursday's opening round that she was not feeling pressure being only the second woman to participate in a PGA Tour event in the last 15 years. The only other woman since 2008 to play in a PGA Tour tournament was Brittany Lincicome in 2018. She missed the cut at the Barbasol Invitational. 

SEE MORE: Flag football at the Olympics? 5 new sports expected in 2028

Michelle Wie West participated in eight PGA Tour events, missing the cut in seven and withdrawing in one other. 

Thompson enters the tournament ranked No. 25 in the world among women's golfers, but certainly as one of the highest-profile golfers in the women's game. 

"I've done it since I was 5 years old, spotlight since I was 12," she said. "You just have to block out everything and believe in yourself and go after what you want. No added pressure. That's what I want. I want to have women support me and me support them. That's what it's all about.

The event is being played at TPC Summerlin, which has a length of 7,255 yards. The last event she played, the Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America, had a total yardage of 6,475. 

She said the one change she made was replacing one of her wedges with a 5-iron. 

"Coming into a PGA TOUR event, being a woman, is a challenge," she said. "I just got to play within myself. I know my game. Don't try to push anything. Play within myself and that's all I can do."

7 million Americans have gotten the new COVID-19 vaccine

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 17:40


In the first month that it has been available, about 5% of the U.S. population has gotten an updated COVID-19 vaccine, data from Health and Human Services released on Thursday indicates. 

According to an HHS official, nearly 14 million vaccines have been distributed to pharmacies throughout the U.S. Of those, 7 million shots have been administered. 

“COVID-19 vaccine distribution, which has shifted to the private market, is a lot different than it was last year when the government was distributing them. The Biden-Harris Administration, through HHS, has been working directly with manufacturers and distributors to ensure that the vaccines are getting to pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, pediatricians, and other vaccination sites, including long-term care facilities," an HHS spokesperson said. 

The updated vaccines are being made by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech and are intended to target more recent variants of the virus. 

Last year's bivalent COVID-19 booster is no longer authorized in the U.S., the FDA said. 

SEE MORE: Long COVID is a thing. What about long colds?

The updated mRNA vaccines are approved for individuals 12 years of age and older and are authorized under emergency use for individuals 6 months through 11 years of age.

Data indicates there is waning interest in staying up-to-date on COVID-19 shots, despite recommendations from leading health officials.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 17% of the U.S. population got an updated booster from September 2022 through May 2023. By comparison, 69.5% of the population was considered fully vaccinated with the original vaccine.

While 79.1% of the adult population got the primary series of COVID-19 shots, just 20.5% of adults went back for a booster.

Unlike last year's booster shot, which required previous vaccination against COVID-19, the updated shots this year are available to everyone, regardless of whether they have been previously vaccinated.

The Food and Drug Administration has said it is confident that the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine outweigh the risks.

Hottest September on record follows one hot summer

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 17:28


It’s been a brutally hot summer throughout the globe. The heat carried over into September, as scientists at NOAA, the National Center for Environmental Education, marked last month as the warmest September in the 174-year global climate record.

“September 2023 was the fourth month in a row of record-warm global temperatures,” NOAA chief scientist Dr. Sarah Kapnick said in a statement. “Not only was it the warmest September on record, it was far and away the most atypically warm month of any in NOAA’s 174 years of climate keeping."

That means September 2023 was warmer than the average July from 2001 to 2010.

The latest record-breaking temperatures in September could make 2023 the warmest year on record, coupled with the record-breaking summer heat.

According to NOAA, the average global temperature for September was 2.59 degrees Fahrenheit, above the 20th-century average of 59 degrees.

The September heat follows the hottest June, July, and August on record. The month brought torrential rains in the New York City area as well as flooding across Greece and Libya. Africa, Europe, and North and South America all saw the warmest September on record.

SEE MORE: More than 100 dead dolphins found in Amazon amid historic drought

UAW's Fain: 'We’re entering a new phase of this fight'

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 16:33


United Auto Workers Union President Shawn Fain said the strike against the Big Three automakers is "entering a new phase" on Friday, even though Fain did not announce new strike locations this time.

It's been four weeks since workers walked off the job because an agreement was not reached with Ford, General Motors, or Stellantis.

"We’re entering a new phase of this fight, and it demands a new approach. We’re done waiting until Fridays to escalate our strike," Fain said. "Today, we’re not announcing a new expansion, but we are prepared to call on new locals to stand up and strike."

SEE MORE: United Auto Workers strike delivers record hit to US economy

His announcement comes just days after Fain surprisingly called on 8,700 workers at the Ford Kentucky Truck Plant to walk out. That plant is one of Ford's most profitable, generating $25 billion in annual revenue. They produce the Ford F-250 through F-550 Super Duty trucks, the Ford Expedition, and the Lincoln Navigator.

Fain detailed how the Kentucky plant strike came to be, saying that Ford gave them the same offer they gave two weeks ago and that union leadership went to Ford's headquarters in Dearborn to see what they had to say.

"It was not a long meeting. They tried to give us the same deal," Fain said, adding that if that's all they had, he told them, "You've just lost the Kentucky Truck Plant."

"We didn't wait until Friday, and we didn't wait a minute," Fain said.

Ford fired back Thursday during a media conference call, saying "the fragile supply chain will be nudged further toward collapse with the strike at the Kentucky Truck Plant."

The automaker said it can't go further in negotiations and that it's at its limit.

"As a company, if we go further, we risk the ability to invest in the business and profitably grow," a Ford spokesperson said. "And profitable growth is in the best interest of everyone."

SEE MORE: Stellantis hints at more layoffs in response to UAW strike

Fain said that the automakers had gotten used to waiting until Fridays, when he made previous announcements, to make deals.

"They thought they figured out the rules of the game, so we change the rules. Now there's only one rule: pony up," Fain said.

"When I tell all of you members to be ready to stand up, I mean it. We’re not waiting until Fridays anymore," he added.

He also called on union members to join picket lines across the country this weekend and support striking workers. As for what the future of the strike holds as it begins its fifth week, Fain said he isn't sure.

"We’re gunning for a deal, and soon," he said. "A deal that makes up for decades of givebacks, sellouts, and insults. But the long-term goal here is much greater than that."

So far, there are 20 General Motors plants on strike, 21 Stellantis plants, and three Ford plants.

While Ford has the least amount of plants on strike, they have the most workers on strike, with around 16,600 workers. GM has 9,375 workers on strike, and Stellantis has 7,950.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Detroit.

Is exercise or medication better for managing depression?

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 16:22


Does running do a better job of curing depression than antidepressant medication? That was the question posed by scientists from the Vrije University in Amsterdam.

According to the findings recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, running is just as effective as antidepressants, plus it comes with added benefits. Professor Brenda Penninx presented her findings to the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

The study enrolled 141 patients with depression or anxiety. They were offered the choice of running regularly or taking antidepressants for 16 weeks. Forty-five of the participants opted for the medicine, while 96 signed up to run.

The study noted that only about half of the participants stuck with a running regimen, while four out of five on medication continued taking it at the end of the 16 weeks.

At the end of the 16-week period, about 44% of people in both groups showed improvement with depression and anxiety. What the study noted, however, was that those who ran had improved weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, and heart function. Those who took the medication actually saw some deterioration in these markers, the study noted.

SEE MORE: Ultra-processed foods, artificial sweeteners tied to depression

Professor Brenda Penninx said in a release that the antidepressants still work, but running and exercise could be a viable alternative.

"Both interventions helped with the depression to around the same extent," Penninx said. "Antidepressants generally had worse impact on body weight, heart rate variability, and blood pressure, whereas running therapy led to improved effect[s] on general fitness and heart rate, for instance. We are currently looking in more detail for effects on biological aging and processes of inflammation."

Even though the benefits of exercise were evident, it was harder for people to stick with working out compared to those who simply took medication.

"Telling patients to go run is not enough," Penninx added. "Changing physical activity behavior will require adequate supervision and encouragement, as we did by implementing exercise therapy in a mental health care institution."

Of course, getting people to exercise remains a challenge. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that just 24.2% of U.S. adults meet guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity.

The CDC advises adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate—or 75 minutes of vigorous—physical activity a week in addition to two days of strength training.

'There is no escape': A couple from Israel tries to find peace

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 15:46


Gabriella and Kesem say they've found peace at a park in Leawood, Kansas. It features symbols and sculptures, like Jacob's Ladder, that remind them of their home in Tel Aviv, Israel.

"It’s a kind of guilt," Gabriella told Scripps News Kansas City. "I’m in this perfect paradise, you know? Look at this green grass and everything planted perfectly, and there’s people on the other side of the world who won’t be able to experience this."

The pair came to Kansas City to visit Gabriella's family and celebrate the Jewish High Holy Days. They didn't know they wouldn't be able to leave.

"It’s almost like communicating with our loved ones is our full-time job right now," Gabriella said.

SEE MORE: Israel at War: A Scripps News special report

What makes it worse is seeing the terror attacks online as Gabriella and Kesem try to do whatever they can from thousands of miles away.

"Everyday, it almost gets more difficult to cope because more news comes out, and it’s hard to look away," Gabriella said.

"We try to shake ourselves out of it; let’s go out for a walk; let’s breathe some air," Kesem added.

He deleted all social media on Tuesday because he said he couldn't take it anymore. Kesem was born in New York City but was raised in Israel, and his family still lives there.

"The horrors that are occurring there are... so profoundly disturbing that when you see them... it doesn’t comprehend," Kesem said. "But then for the rest of your day, and the rest of your night, and the days that follow, it’s flashing constantly in your head."

He said it's important to understand and be aware of what's happening, but not to drown in it.

"If we break our heart over and over again looking at the worst things possible, it just doesn’t allow us to rebuild that strength so that we can be strong for them," Kesem said.

SEE MORE: Israel urges 1.1M Gazans to evacuate due to ground offensive threat

That's similar advice Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy school psychologist Sarah Whelan is giving people right now.

"We can do the doom-scrolling, and we all want to know is what’s going on," Whelan said. "But doing that too much and inadvertently seeing images that we can’t ever unsee has a real impact on our mental health."

Some of her tips to cope include:

- Staying off social media first thing in the morning and first thing at night.

- Find credible, trusted sources to get your information from.

- Maintain a routine.

- Get physical activity, like taking a walk and getting fresh air.

- Parents: talk to your kids about what's going on.

"There’s so much we cannot control, but we can control, like, you know what, there’s this thing that I can go do, and they’re going to have a drive where they’re sending stuff to soldiers in Israel," Whelan said. "Finding a meaningful way to contribute can really help connect people and give them a sense of, like, 'I’m actually helping and contributing.'"

In a time where it feels like all hope is lost, they also find peace in being safe and together.

"I don’t know what God did to gift us this moment, but it’s like the most special thing that we get to be here," Gabriella said.

This story was originally published by Caroline Hogan at Scripps News Kansas City.

EU probes Musk's X for 'illegal content' related to Israel-Hamas war

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 15:17


The European Commission on Thursday made a formal, legally binding request for information from Elon Musk's social media platform X over its handling of hate speech, misinformation and violent terrorist content related to the Israel-Hamas war.

It is the first step in what could become the EU's inaugural investigation under the Digital Services Act, in this case to determine if the site formerly known as Twitter is in compliance with the tough new rules meant to keep users safe online and stop the spread of harmful content.

San Francisco-based X has until Wednesday to respond to questions related to how its crisis response protocol is functioning. Responses to other questions must be received by Oct. 31. The commission said its next steps, which could include the opening of formal proceedings and penalties, would be determined by X's replies.

Representatives for X did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. The company's CEO, Linda Yaccarino, said earlier that the site has removed hundreds of Hamas-linked accounts and taken down or labeled tens of thousands of pieces of content since the militant group's attack on Israel. One social media expert called the actions "a drop in the bucket."

Yaccarino on Thursday outlined steps taken by X to combat illegal content flourishing on the platform. She was responding to an earlier letter from a top European Union official for information on how X is complying with the EU's new digital rules during the Israel-Hamas war. That letter, which essentially served as a warning, was not legally binding — the latest one, however, is.

"X is proportionately and effectively assessing and addressing identified fake and manipulated content during this constantly evolving and shifting crisis," Yaccarino said in a letter to European Commissioner Thierry Breton, the 27-nation bloc's digital enforcer.

SEE MORE: EU warns TikTok about Hamas-Israel disinformation spreading on its app

But some say the efforts are not nearly enough to tackle the problem.

"While these actions are better than nothing, it is not enough to curtail the misinformation problem on X," said Kolina Koltai, a researcher at the investigative collective Bellingcat who previously worked at Twitter on Community Notes.

"There is an overwhelming amount of misinformation on the platform," Koltai said. "From what we have seen, the moderation efforts from X are only addressing a drop in the bucket."

Since the war erupted, photos and videos have flooded social media of the carnage, including haunting footage of Hamas fighters taking terrified Israelis hostage, alongside posts from users pushing false claims and misrepresenting videos from other events.

The conflict is one of the first major tests for the EU's groundbreaking digital rules, which took effect in August. Breton fired off a similar letter Thursday to TikTok, telling CEO Shou Zi Chew that he has a "particular obligation" to protect child and teen users from "violent content depicting hostage taking and other graphic videos" reportedly making the rounds on the video sharing app.

For X, changes that Musk has made to the platform since he bought it last year mean accounts that subscribe to X's blue-check service can get paid if their posts go viral, creating a financial incentive to post whatever gets the most reaction. Plus, X's workforce — including its content moderation team — has been gutted.

Those changes are running up against the EU's Digital Services Act, which forces social media companies to step up policing of their platforms for illegal content, such as terrorist material or illegal hate speech, under threat of hefty fines.

"There is no place on X for terrorist organizations or violent extremist groups and we continue to remove such accounts in real time, including proactive efforts," Yaccarino wrote in the letter posted to X.

X has taken action to "remove or label tens of thousands of pieces of content," Yaccarino said, pointing out that there are 700 unique Community Notes — a feature that allows users to add their own fact-checks to posts — "related to the attacks and unfolding events."

The platform has been "responding promptly" and in a "diligent and objective manner" to takedown requests from law enforcement agencies from around the world, including more than 80 from EU member states, Yaccarino said.

Koltai, the researcher and former Twitter employee, said Community Notes are not an "end-all solution to curtailing misinfo" and that there are gaps that the feature just can't fill yet.

"There are still many videos and photos on X that don't have notes that are unmoderated, and continue to spread misleading claims," she said.

Since Musk acquired Twitter and renamed it, social-media watchers say the platform has become not just unreliable but actively promotes falsehoods, while a study commissioned by the EU found that it's the worst-performing platform for online disinformation.

Rivals such as TikTok, YouTube and Facebook also are coping with a flood of unsubstantiated rumors and falsehoods about the Middle Eastern conflict, playing the typical whack-a-mole that erupts each time a news event captures world attention.

Breton, the EU official, urged TikTok's leader to step up its efforts at tackling disinformation and illegal content and respond within 24 hours. The company did not reply immediately to an email seeking comment.

Breton's warning letters have also gone to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook and Instagram parent Meta.

Rural 'peer counselors' help in combatting the opioid crisis

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 15:12


The small town of Greensboro seemingly rises up out of the farm fields of Caroline County, Maryland. In the back parking lot of a local church, hope rises too, inside a mobile health unit.

"I never touched a drug until I was 36 years old," said Jessica Anthony, a lifelong resident of this rural county on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

She knows the struggle of addiction.

"I had everything before, marriage and a child," Anthony said. "Like, everything was in order. I worked for an insurance company. Then I went through a divorce and started drinking a lot, and then got involved with people I shouldn't have and took a wrong turn."

Anthony eventually sought help at the mobile health unit, a partnership between the University of Maryland and the Caroline County Health Department.

"They really turned my life around," Anthony said. "I owe everything to them."

Now, she's paying forward.

SEE MORE: Rural North Carolina county uses opioid settlements to fund solutions

Anthony is part of a new program using peer counselors who are specially-trained addiction survivors to help others facing addiction in rural areas, where help is often hard to find. About 200 patients a month seek help from a single mobile health unit in this one rural county.

"They want someone who's been there, who's walked in their shoes, who can make it feel okay when people are nervous or have a lot of barriers in starting care," said Jessica Magidson, director of the Center for Substance Use, Addiction, and Health Research at the University of Maryland.

She used her research experience in sub-Saharan Africa to help craft the program for use in rural Maryland, where health care options can be limited.

"A lot of these questions came about from understanding, 'How do we address workforce shortages in some of the poorest communities globally?'" Magidson said.

A study, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, is looking at how this program is working.

Magidson said they recruit peer counselors from those who have gone through the addiction recovery program, which creates a paid job opportunity for them as well.

"We actually found this is a really important part of the model," she said. "That they need to be treated as part of the health care team. These are paid members of the team. They're often certified and really treated as equals on our teams."

SEE MORE: How a survivor is now helping battle the opioid epidemic

For more than a decade, deaths from synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, have been rising across the U.S. According to the CDC, more than 107,000 Americans died from fentanyl overdoses last year.

"Unemployment is very high over in this area. We have a lot of people that transportation is just almost nonexistent," said Roger McKnight, who is the administrator of the mobile treatment unit.

In addition to the peer counselors, the unit also boasts a registered nurse on hand as well as separate telehealth rooms, so patients can reach big city doctors.

McKnight recruited Jessica Anthony to be a peer specialist onboard.

"She was one of those that wanted a major change in her life," McKnight said. "I don't sell this program by pie charts and bar graphs, you know, and say, 'This is our success.' I have real people."

People like Jessica Anthony, who said she sees her life experience reflected back to her with every person she helps.

"I've seen things. I've been there. I've done it," Anthony said. "So now, where I am today, I can help people see that there's a light at the end of the tunnel."

US cities, states monitoring protests amid Israel/Hamas war

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 14:51


As Israel prepares to send thousands of troops into the Gaza Strip in response to Hamas' attack on Israelis last week, communities are monitoring for potential violence at protests in the U.S.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations has said there are no specific threats against Jewish or Palestinian populations in the U.S., but it is monitoring.

On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency and directed law enforcement to monitor and respond to potential conflicts. The executive order also included language that would charter flights to Israel to evacuate Americans wanting to leave.

DeSantis' order was one notable example of how cities and states are expressing concern after there has been online chatter about potential violence between those in solidarity with Israelis and Palestinians.

SEE MORE: Israel urges 1.1M Gazans to evacuate due to ground offensive threat

New York City was among the locations in the U.S. warning residents to be vigilant.

"We have directed the NYPD to surge additional resources to schools and houses of worship to ensure that they are safe and that our city remains a place of peace," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said. "We're also stepping up NYPD patrols in other key neighborhoods to protect all of our city residents."

"There is currently no intelligence showing any active threats in New York—that is, the entire state of New York," New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday. "But in a moment fraught like this, we will continue to exercise elevated vigilance and impose measures to deter any potential violence."

Los Angeles Police said it did not know of any active threats but was working with other agencies to monitor the situation.

"We will be reaching out to our local Jewish and Muslim communities and will be providing extra patrol during this unimaginable time," LAPD said.

Smaller cities have already seen some conflict. The Columbus Dispatch reported that a truck struck a protester on a bicycle during a pro-Palestinian protest at the Ohio Capitol. An eyewitness told the Dispatch that a man began shouting obscenities about Palestinians before striking the protester.

Teacher killed, others wounded in France school stabbing

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 14:03


A man armed with a knife killed a teacher at the high school in northern France he once attended and critically wounded another teacher and a security guard Friday, authorities said, an attack being investigated as potential terrorism amid soaring global tensions over the war between Israel and Hamas.

French anti-terror prosecutors said they were leading the investigation into the attack at the Gambetta high school in the city of Arras, some 115 miles north of Paris. They said they were investigating charges including terror-related murder and attempted murder against the suspect, who was arrested.

National police said the suspected assailant was a Russian national of Chechen origin. The French intelligence services said the suspect had been closely watched since the summer with tails and telephone surveillance and was stopped as recently as Thursday for a police check that found no wrongdoing.

Sliman Hamzi, a police officer who was one of the first on the scene said the suspected attacker, a former student at the school, shouted “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great” in Arabic.

Hamzi said he was alerted by another officer who was passing in front of the high school and called in. He “was shouting ‘someone is attacking with a knife,’” Hamzi said

Hamzi said he rushed to the school and saw a male victim lying on the ground outside the school and the attacker being taken away.

“Colleagues arrived quickly but unfortunately couldn’t save the victim,” Hamzi said.

Police said two other men, a second teacher and a security guard, were in critical condition.

School attacks are rare in France. President Emmanuel Macron was heading to the scene along with the interior and education ministers, and the government asked authorities to heighten vigilance at all schools across the country.

SEE MORE: New York City on alert after violence in Israel and Gaza

Julie Duhamel, an official with the the Unsa teachers’ union in the Pas-de-Calais region that includes Arras, told Franceinfo that teachers had noted the suspect’s radicalization “a few years ago.”

Hundreds of police deployed around the school and nearby neighborhoods, including heavily armed units, and barricaded a wide perimeter around the school. Parents said pupils were still confined to the locked-down school more than three hours after the attack.

Friday's attack came three years after a teacher was beheaded outside a school in suburban Paris. Samuel Paty, a history and geography teacher, was murdered on Oct 16, 2020 — also a Friday — by an 18-year-old who had become radicalized. Like the suspect in Friday's stabbings, that attacker was of Chechen background.

Martin Doussau, a philosophy teacher at the Gambetta high school, said the attacker appeared to be hunting for a history teacher.

“I was chased by the attacker who ... asked me if I teach history. (He said), ‘Are you a history teacher, are you a history teacher?'" said Doussau, who recounted how he barricaded himself behind a door until police used a stun gun to subdue the attacker.

“When he turned around and asked me if I am a history teacher, I immediately thought of Samuel Paty,” Doussau told reporters.

The attack came amid heightened tensions around the world over Hamas' weekend attack on southern Israel and Israel's military response, which have killed hundreds of civilians on both sides. There have been calls in Muslim nations for mass protests after Friday prayers over Israel’s intense bombing campaign in Gaza.

Darmanin on Thursday ordered local authorities to ban all pro-Palestinian demonstrations amid a rise in antisemitic acts since the Hamas attack.

France is estimated to have the world’s third-largest Jewish population after Israel and the U.S., and the largest Muslim population in Western Europe.

A vice president of France's lower house of parliament, Naima Moutchou, said the National Assembly “expresses its solidarity and thoughts for the victims, their families and the educational community as we learn that a teacher has been killed and several others have been injured.″

MLB playoffs: Phillies topple Braves to reach NL Championship Series

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 13:22


Four teams are left fighting for that World Series trophy. Now everybody can take a break for a couple of days before the playoffs resume Sunday night.

Nick Castellanos became the first player to hit multiple homers in consecutive postseason games, and the Philadelphia Phillies eliminated the Atlanta Braves for the second straight year with a 3-1 victory Thursday night in Game 4 of their NL Division Series.

Trea Turner singled twice, doubled and hit a solo homer in the fifth inning for a 2-1 lead as the defending NL champions make another run at their first World Series title since 2008.

They advance to an all-wild card NL Championship Series and will play the Arizona Diamondbacks, making their first trip since 2007 after a surprising sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Game 1 is Monday night in Philadelphia.

“We feel good, there’s no question about it,” Castellanos said.

The best-of-seven ALCS starts first, when Houston hosts rival Texas on Sunday night in a Lone Star State showdown. Three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander is scheduled to pitch for the defending World Series champion Astros.

None of baseball's eight playoff series so far have gone the distance. There have been six sweeps and two best-of-five Division Series that ended in four games.

SEE MORE: MLB fans react to new pitch clock

Betting favorites

The Astros are the current betting favorites to win the World Series at +180, followed by the Phillies (+195), Rangers (+290) and Diamondbacks (+500), according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Bye, bye?

After getting five days off, the top four playoff seeds went a combined 2-6 on their home fields to start the division round.

Two of them were eliminated in three-game sweeps: the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers. Atlanta, which led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season, was bounced in four games by Philadelphia.

“We thought we did everything possible during the delay, recreated things the best we could. And we can do everything right and all that and you start a series, and you know what, your offense doesn’t get traction. I mean, it could happen anytime,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I don’t know that we could have done anything any better or been more thorough in what we did with our time off to get us ready to play.”

But clearly, the time off did those clubs little good. Which begs the question: Is it time to say goodbye to the bye?

“It’s not ideal,” Snitker said. “I’m not going to say that’s an excuse for us. I look at the Astros. It didn’t bother them. They kind of kept hitting on all cylinders.

“I never liked two days off as a team or whatever. I think one day is plenty,” he added. “But you know what? It's what it is, and we've got to figure it out.”

SEE MORE: Baseball is big business for companies that invest in players' futures

How to watch

TBS will broadcast the NLCS. Fox and FS1 will carry the ALCS.

League Championship Series: Oct. 15-24

World Series: Oct. 27-Nov. 4

US, Qatar agree to block release of $6 billion in Iranian funds

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 13:09


The U.S. and Qatar have reached an agreement that the Qataris will not act on any request from Tehran for the time being to access $6 billion in Iranian funds that were unblocked as part of a prisoner swap last month, a U.S. official said Thursday.

The move, which stops short of a full refreezing of Iranian funds in Qatar's banking system, follows the deadly attacks by Hamas on Israel and continued Republican criticism of the Biden administration's deal with Iran, in which $6 billion was unfrozen in exchange for the release of five detained Americans. The official who outlined the understanding between the U.S. and Qatar was not authorized to comment and spoke on condition of anonymity.

U.S. officials have strenuously pushed back against the criticism, noting that the money had yet to be spent by Iran and can only be used for humanitarian needs.

"None of the funds that have now gone to Qatar have actually been spent or accessed in any way by Iran," Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Israel on Thursday when asked about the funds. "Indeed, funds from that account are overseen by the Treasury Department, can only be dispensed for humanitarian goods — food, medicine, medical equipment — and never touch Iranian hands."

The White House has said it has yet to uncover information that Iran was directly involved in the multipronged Hamas operation — the biggest attack on Israel in decades. Even so, Iran is the principal financial and military sponsor of Hamas. U.S. officials have said their intelligence does not show a direct role by Iran and have not pointed blame at Tehran.

As Israel prepares to escalate retaliatory action against Hamas militants for the weekend attacks, the White House announced the U.S. government will begin evacuation flights on Friday for Americans who want to leave Israel.

In a deliberate show of support for Israel, a U.S. official confirmed that U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin plans to visit on Friday, following Thursday's visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Austin is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to determine what additional military aid is needed in the war with Hamas, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive travel details

Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Thursday, Austin said the U.S. is "working urgently to get Israel what it needs to defend itself, including munitions and our iron Dome interceptor interceptors."

SEE MORE: UN diplomats are calling for peace in Gaza conflict

The White House confirmed that the death toll in the fighting now includes at least 27 Americans, while 14 more U.S. citizens in Israel remain unaccounted for. The White House has said a "handful" of Americans are among the dozens of people that Hamas took hostage.

U.S. officials estimate 160,000-170,000 Americans are in Israel, as residents, tourists or in some other capacity. An estimated 500 to 600 American citizens are in Gaza, including people who have been working as humanitarian workers or visiting relatives. Israel has sealed its crossing out of Gaza as part of a harsh siege on the territory since Saturday's Hamas attacks. And Gaza's sole crossing point with Egypt was forced to close after Israeli airstrikes hit nearby.

The U.S. government is arranging for at least four charter flights a day out of Israel, according to people familiar with the planning.

The State Department said it expects to facilitate the departure of thousands of U.S. citizens per week from Israel. The overall security situation, availability and reliability of commercial transportation, and U.S. citizen demand will all influence the duration of this departure assistance. The department asked U.S. citizens in need of evacuation assistance to complete the crisis intake form at

There are still some commercial carriers flying in and out of Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport, and ground routes are open to leave Israel. White House officials, however, have voiced concern that those options may not be feasible or affordable for some Americans in Israel who want to leave.

Blinken visited Israel on Thursday to meet with Netanyahu and Israeli citizens. He was joined by the deputy special representative for hostage affairs, Steve Gillen, who will stay in Israel to to support the efforts to free the hostages.

Blinken said Americans would continue pushing regional countries for a safe passage in and out of Gaza, which could help the hundreds of American civilians trapped in the blockaded enclave.

Israeli defense officials have yet to order a ground invasion of the pummeled territory, but have been planning for the possibility. The military has called over 300,000 reservists into action in preparation.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who joined from Air Force Two en route to Las Vegas met on Thursday with senior administration officials to discuss efforts to safeguard the U.S., including Jewish, Arab and Muslim communities, following the Hamas attacks in Israel.

Biden administration officials have been speaking with lawmakers about the contours of a supplemental aid package as it continues to determine Israel's needs.

Some key Republicans, including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, have advocated for a larger package that would lump in funding for Ukraine, Taiwan and border security along with Israel aid, and the White House has started to prepare such a package, according to an official familiar with the deliberations. The person was granted anonymity to speak about private conversations, and no final decisions have been made on a supplemental package.

The White House has indicated that it will send the new request to lawmakers next week, when both chambers are back in Washington. Its legislative affairs staff is set to brief senators on Friday afternoon about "ongoing national security needs," according to another official granted anonymity to confirm a private meeting.

Kaiser Permanente, union reach agreement following strike

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 12:38


A tentative agreement has been reached between Kaiser Permanente and the unions representing thousands of health care workers, the union and company both announced on Friday.

All of the terms have not been released, and the final deal is pending approval from union members.

The agreement comes a week after nearly 75,000 workers conducted the largest strike of health care workers in the U.S. Union officials said the three-day strike was a last resort in response to Kaiser executives' failure to address a staffing crisis.

"Kaiser Permanente is one of the nation’s largest hospital companies that made $3 billion in profits between January and June alone," said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. "Workers across race and background are taking on Kaiser, saying it’s time to bargain in good faith and respect us, protect us and pay us the living wages we need to thrive. They’re demanding what’s necessary for patients to get the quality care they need and deserve." 

SEE MORE: UAW expands strike with thousands of workers in Kentucky

Union negotiators said Kaiser workers are demanding a minimum of $25 per hour, with 7% increases in the first two years of the contract and a 6.25% increase in the final two years.

SEIU Local 105, which represents workers in Colorado, said its unionized members would get a 21% wage increase over the life of the contract.

"We were able to come to this historic agreement because of our united strength and our willingness to fight for the safety of our patients," the union said. "As a massive step forward in addressing Kaiser’s short-staffing crisis, this tentative agreement aims to ensure that health care workers are protected and equipped to give the best possible care to people across Colorado."

In addition to 75,000 allied health care workers, Kaiser Permanente also employs nearly 24,000 doctors and 68,000 nurses at its 39 hospitals and 622 medical facilities.

Nurses, lab techs, pharmacists, X-ray techs, and food and janitorial workers were among those who went on strike. The nonprofit is one of the nation's biggest health providers, with more than 12 million patients a year.

Officer killed in shootout at Philadelphia International Airport

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 12:32


One officer is dead and another is hospitalized after a late-night shootout at Philadelphia International Airport.

Interim Police Commissioner John Stanford said the officers were arriving for work shortly after 11 p.m. when they spotted several people breaking into a vehicle at an airport parking garage. Stanford said "the suspects opened fire" as the officers approached, with one being struck several times in the upper body and the other in the arm.

"Anger, devastation and heartbreak are the emotions," Stanford said on X. "One officer gave his life tonight and one is recovering. Please wrap your arms and prayers around their families and our department."

SEE MORE: At least 50 arrested after mass organized looting in Philadelphia

The slain officer has not yet been identified, but Stanford said he was a 50-year-old married father to one child. The other officer is 60 years old and has 20 years of experience with the department, Stanford said.

Authorities said the suspects in the shooting and carjacking are still at large after fleeing the scene in a stolen Dodge Durango SUV.

"We will continue our search for those responsible and won't stop until all are in custody," Stanford said.

He noted that the deadly shooting comes just a week after three other Philadelphia police officers were shot and wounded while responding to the scene of a shooting.

Secrets to save on your Halloween candy

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 12:16


Filling those trick-or-treat bags may be a lot more costly this Halloween, as inflation hits many of the ingredients used to make popular candy. But you can keep those costs down based on what you buy and where you buy it.

Kelly Schneider understands what shoppers are facing. She runs a candy shop her family has owned since 1939, Schneider's Sweet Shop, in Bellevue, Kentucky.

"You are definitely seeing big inflation in cream, sugar, and our other ingredients," she said.

Schneider says prices of key ingredients have gotten "scary" since the pandemic.

"Sugar skyrocketed a lot. I would say we have gone up 30 to 40 percent on our sugar costs," she said.

So what can you do?

Buy in bulk, look for coupons

We did some early trick-or-treating ourselves, not for treats but for Halloween savings tips. Smart shopping expert Trae Bodge says buying in bulk is the way to go if you typically have a lot of Halloween traffic at your home.

"If you have a wholesale club membership," she said," now is the time to use it."

Bodge also suggests combing through coupons and online coupon sites.

"I love Paypal, honey. I love Slick Deals and Coupon Cabin. If you search Halloween candy, inevitably they will have good deals," she said.

Check the price per piece

The Krazy Coupon Lady suggests you look at the cost per piece of candy (not the price per bag).

In a blog post, KCL says you should aim to pay 12 cents or less per piece and says you will often find those prices during candy sales at big box stores or even drugstores like Walgreens and CVS. 

If you are not watching for deals, however, you can pay 18 cents or more. Another secret? Their report also says variety packs are cheaper than a full bag of one type of candy.

SEE MORE: The history behind pumpkin spice

Meanwhile, the savings site Money Crashers says to skip the most popular candy and buy whatever is cheapest. It says most trick-or-treaters won't care if they receive fine chocolates or Tootsie Pops.

The Penny Hoarder says if you are on a very tight budget, nix the candy and swap in non-candy alternatives like stickers, spider rings, or glow sticks. That can be a nice change for kids with a pillowcase full of M&M's and Reese's cups.

At Schnieder's Sweets Shop, Schneider still insists on making top-quality candy, even if it costs a little bit more.

"We try to be very reasonable," she said, "and just raise prices enough to keep our doors open and our lights on."

She says her customers don't mind paying a little bit more for real, hand-crafted milk chocolate.

Israel warns north Gaza to evacuate as likely ground assault looms

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 12:00


The Israel Defense Forces is urging residents of northern Gaza to flee, an indication that the Israeli military could soon be starting its ground invasion of the Palestinian-held region.

Nearly 1.1 million residents of Gaza are included in the evacuation notice, according to the United Nations. 

"Gaza City is an area where military operations are taking place. This evacuation is for your own safety. You will be able to return to Gaza City only when another announcement permitting it, is made," said IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus.

Currently, 423,000 Palestinians are displaced, and no supplies have been allowed into Gaza since the airstrikes began.

While Israel appears to be on the cusp of a ground offensive into Gaza, the Jewish nation has continued to attack Hamas by air. Israel Defense Forces said it launched hundreds of air raids overnight, striking 750 Hamas targets.

The IDF warning comes nearly a week after Hamas launched an attack on Israel. The Israeli government reports that 1,300 Israelis have died. The Palestinian-run Gaza Health Ministry says that there have been 1,537 Palestinians killed during the conflict.

On Friday, the Hamas press office said 70 people, mostly women and children, had been killed in Israeli airstrikes targeting convoys that were leaving Gaza City.

A source told Scripps News an American intelligence report last month warned that a Hamas assault against Israel was growing more likely — but it didn't expect an attack would come for another six months or so.

The Associated Press reports an Israeli strike killed one journalist and injured six others near Israel's border with Lebanon. Al-Jazeera said two of its journalists were among the wounded.

U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the evacuations Friday, saying his administration is working with Israel and other regional governments to address the growing humanitarian crisis.

"We can’t lose sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians had nothing to do with Hamas. And they’re suffering as a result as well," President Biden said.

President Biden also said Friday he had spoken with families of Americans who were still unaccounted for since the violence broke out. He said the U.S. will do everything possible to secure their return.

SEE MORE: UN diplomats are calling for peace in Gaza conflict

The IDF said it was urging residents of Gaza City to move to the south "for their own safety and protection." The Israeli military says residents should move at least four miles to the south of Gaza City, south of Wada Gaza.

"Hamas terrorists are hiding in Gaza City inside tunnels underneath houses and inside buildings populated with innocent Gazan civilians," the IDF said.

The UN said it's impossible for civilians to evacuate so quickly.

"The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences," a statement read. "The United Nations strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation."

The U.S. has offered its support for Israel. Both Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are in Israel on Friday.

Senate Majority Chuck Schumer, who is Jewish, will lead a bipartisan delegation from Congress to Israel on the weekend, his office said Friday. The group will discuss with Israeli officials "what resources the United States can provide to support Israel on all fronts."

Both Hamas' attack on Israel and Israel's retaliation to the attacks have come under scrutiny by international groups, including the United Nations. Doctors Without Borders expressed concern on Thursday for Israel conducting "collective punishment" against Palestinians.

"Millions of men, women, and children in Gaza are facing collective punishment in the form of total siege, indiscriminate bombing, and the pending threat of a ground battle," said Dr. Christos Christou, president of Doctors Without Borders. "Safe spaces must be established, and humanitarian supplies must be allowed into the enclave. The wounded and sick must receive medical care. Medical facilities and personnel must be protected and respected; hospitals and ambulances are not targets."

The Israeli military has claimed that Hamas fighters share civilian facilities. Because of that, the IDF has claimed that locations potentially containing civilians are legitimate military targets.

Israel at War: A Scripps News special report

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 02:57


Tonight, Scripps News presents the latest reporting on the ground from Israel, as war with Hamas rages on.

What do those caught amid the fighting think is coming next?

What should we expect as Israel prepares for a full offensive against Hamas targets on the ground in Gaza?

What do we know about the terrorist organization Hamas? 

And what commitments has the U.S. made to support its ally Israel in the conflict?

Scripps News shares scenes of humanitarian crisis, as streams of injured Palestinians begin to overwhelm Gaza's limited medical capacity.

SEE MORE: Hospitals in Gaza are about to buckle under new strain

New details about Hamas' attack came to light after first responders shared intelligence they found on the bodies of Hamas fighters. Planning documents and bodycam videos show a clear portrait of a terrorist group that is highly organized, heavily armed and had prior intelligence about the targets that they went after. 

During the attack, Hamas took some 150 hostages into Gaza, including a number of Americans. Now, efforts are underway to recover them safely.

A former FBI hostage negotiator told Scripps News that negotiators from the U.S. State Department and the FBI are working in Israel to secure the release of hostages. They are working with family members and reviewing video and social media posts to understand the goals of those who took hostages, in hopes of negotiating their safe return.

We speak with one family whose daughter was caught in Hamas' surprise attack on a music festival on Saturday, and who now believes she is held captive somewhere in Gaza.

SEE MORE: A Scripps News visual investigation dives deep into Hamas attack

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby spoke with Scripps News about U.S. efforts to recover Americans held in Gaza, and about the messages the U.S. is sending to the rest of the world as the war goes on.

"We are absolutely concerned about escalation here and widening the conflict," Kirby said. "And that is why the president has sent that very strong message. That's why he put that carrier strike group in the eastern Mediterranean — as a message to anyone, be they a nation-state or an organization — that we will take our national security interests very seriously. And we don't want to see this conflict widen."

But, Kirby said, "We have not seen any actor move towards greater involvement here or trying to deepen the conflict or open up a new front. We just haven't seen that."

Click here to watch the full special on Scripps News' YouTube channel.

FDA warns of risks involved with compounded ketamine products

Fri, 10/13/2023 - 02:38


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning urging consumers and healthcare providers to be aware of the risks involved with using compounded ketamine products for the treatment of any psychiatric disorder. 

The FDA says it has not approved the use of the drug for treating psychiatric disorders, but there have still been documented uses of compounded ketamine to treat disorders including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

SEE MORE: Hundreds of medications recalled at Family Dollar stores in 23 states

The agency says compounded drugs can serve an important purpose in the practice of medicine for some patients when there are no FDA-approved drugs that are medically appropriate. 

The FDA says there are known safety issues with the use of ketamine including the risk of abuse, misuse, increased blood pressure, psychiatric events, depression of the respiratory system and lower bladder and urinary tract symptoms. 

The FDA has put Ketamine hydrochloride into the Schedule III controlled substance category, and approved it for intravenous or intramuscular injection as a general anesthesia. 

But the FDA warned that"Patients who receive compounded ketamine products from compounders and telemedicine platforms for the treatment of psychiatric disorders may not receive important information about the potential risks associated with the product."

The FDA says that home use of ketamine products adds even more risk because the patient isn't being monitored by a health care provider. The agency says additional clinical studies are needed to look into the drug's benefit-risk profile.