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Nets' Kyrie Irving Apologizes For Antisemitic Post After Suspension

Fri, 11/04/2022 - 14:54

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Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving is apologizing to the Jewish community.

The apology comes after the basketball player was suspended without pay for at least five games by the Nets after he posted a link to an antisemitic video on Twitter and doubled down on his stance.

Statement from the Brooklyn Nets

— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) November 4, 2022

The Brooklyn Nets said in a statement, "We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film. This was not the first time he had the opportunity - but failed - to clarify."

Hours after the organization posted the reasoning behind Irving's suspension, he made a late-night post on Instagram, saying, "I had no intentions to disrespect any Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust or perpetuate any hate. I am learning from this unfortunate event and hope we can find understanding between us all. I am no different than any other human being. I am a seeker of truth and knowledge, and I know who I am."

FBI Warns Of 'Broad' Threat To Synagogues In New Jersey

Fri, 11/04/2022 - 13:38

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The FBI said Thursday that it had received credible information about a “broad” threat to synagogues in New Jersey, a warning that prompted some municipalities to send extra police officers to guard houses of worship.

The nature of the threat was vague. The FBI’s Newark office released a statement urging synagogues to “take all security precautions to protect your community and facility," but wouldn't say anything about who made the threat or why.

The alert was posted after officials discovered an online threat directed broadly at synagogues in New Jersey, a law enforcement official said. The posting did not target any specific synagogue by name, the official said. The official could not discuss details of the investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Messages left with the FBI's Newark office weren't returned.

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

Public warnings about nonspecific threats against Jewish institutions, made by a variety of groups including Christian supremacists and Islamist extremists, aren’t unusual in the New York City metropolitan area, and many turn out to be false alarms. But the area has also seen deadly attacks.

In Jersey City, Mayor Steven Fulop said police would be posted at the city’s seven synagogues and foot patrols would be added in the broader Jewish community. In 2019, two assailants motivated by anti-Jewish hate killed a police officer, then drove to a kosher market in Jersey City and killed three more people, before being slain in a gunbattle with police.

Police officers armed with rifles guarded a synagogue one city over, in Hoboken, where the public safety director also announced increased patrols in Jewish communities.

Five years ago, two New Jersey men were sentenced to 35 years in prison after being convicted for a series of attacks in 2012 that included the firebombings of two synagogues. They also threw a Molotov cocktail into the home of a rabbi as he slept with his wife and children.

In 2019, a man stabbed five people at a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi's home in an Orthodox Jewish community north of New York City, fatally wounding one person.

U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat, said he was “concerned and outraged” by the latest threat against Jews.

“I am deeply concerned and outraged by today’s alert from the FBI," Gottheimer said. “This is what happens after years of antisemitic comments from public figures,” he added, citing recent comments by Kanye West and a social media post shared by NBA star Kyrie Irving.

The FBI didn't release any information suggesting the threat that prompted the warning was related to the public debate over those comments.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

The U.S. Is In The Midst Of A Mini Baby Boom

Sat, 10/29/2022 - 00:07

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The pandemic has undoubtedly added stress and anxiety for new mothers in the past few years.

"[I'm] just trying to create as normal of the childhood as I can, even despite the pandemic," new mom Chrissy Athens said.

"Becoming a mother, you just are chronically tired, and you just learn to push through it and survive," new mom Theresa Alvarez Jarrin said.

Despite it all, a new study finds the U.S. is experiencing a mini baby boom, with 50,000 more babies born in 2021 compared to the year before. The upward trend appears to be continuing well into 2022 too.

Northwestern University economist Hannes Schwandt co-authored the new study. 

"It is a quite significant development in that fertility rates have been declining for over a decade, ever since the great recession, and that's the first major reversal in over a decade," Schwandt said.

He found that the baby boom is driven mostly by two groups of women: those having a first child and those with a college education who are more likely to benefit from working from home.

SEE MORE: Is The Future Of Contraception Male?

"The greater workplace flexibility allowed more [women] to balance the job demands and the private life," Schwandt said.

The birthrate increase was a surprise to the researchers because tough economic times have historically led to fewer newborns. But, the pandemic turned out to be different.

Many American families have been able to bolster their savings, as governments have offered financial support, like pandemic relief checks.

"We can, with the right policies, reverse long ongoing trends of negative fertility numbers," Schwandt said.

Experts have been worried for years about the declining fertility rate in the U.S. because if it falls too low, economic growth could be hurt. The study offers a glimmer of hope. 

"There might be a little small, positive aspect of the pandemic, as long as we think that more babies is good," Schwandt said.

Elon Musk's Twitter Takeover Raises Freedom Of Speech Questions

Sat, 10/29/2022 - 00:02

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Hours after taking over Twitter, Elon Musk started cleaning house.

Many conservatives have bristled at a social media company deciding what is and isn't language and ideas that deserve public distribution, and Musk has said Twitter should be what he calls an "inclusive arena for free speech."

"We want to be just very reluctant to delete things, just be very cautious with permanent bans," Musk said. "Time outs, I think, are better."

Areva Martin is an attorney and author. She told Newsy Musk's takeover raises red flags for marginalized and minority communities. 

"There's fear of intimidation, there's fear of disinformation, there's fear of racial bullying," Martin said. "I question whether the owners of these sites really want free speech. They want to spread the messages that they want people to listen to and to adhere to. I don't know if we're going to get there, although I think there is a need for some kind of government intervention."

Musk's takeover highlights the role gatekeepers on social media sites have played in social discourse and civility.

Now it's in question at one of the biggest social platforms on the planet.

SEE MORE: Elon Musk In Control Of Twitter, Ousts Top Executives

"Although he's talked about getting rid of large swathes of his workforce, large swathes of that workforce are keeping the platform from descending into absolute chaos, anarchy, pornography, pedophilia, God knows what," said Mike Butcher, editor-at-large of TechCrunch. "Content moderation on social networks is an enormous, enormous issue."

The change comes as Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, tries to purchase the conservative social media app Parler amid intense backlash for his antisemitic comments.

It's a startling move into social media, but it might not amount to much.

The app has struggled to recover since its major hosts pulled their services after reports many participants in the Jan. 6 insurrection relied on it.

Still, a mainstream figure is attempting to take over a space where hate speech could run rampant.

"Then Donald Trump with his social media platform, you're talking about three potentially very dangerous echo chambers where conservative viewpoints, and not just conservative viewpoints but extremist conservative viewpoints, will be amplified," Martin said.

Taken together, the moves paint a picture of the First Amendment under a stress test.

"We should watch to see what happens," Martin said. "There's been, again, a lot of folks — particularly people of color, a lot of women, a lot of strong voices on Twitter — who now are saying they're looking for a new home. It will have huge implications for not only the midterm elections coming up but for the future of our democracy and our politics as we know them."

Social Media Is Reacting To Elon Musk As New Owner Of Twitter

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 23:52

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With a simple tweet, the bird is freed — that's how Elon Musk announced he had captured Twitter, the social media platform he has long been pursuing. 

The "freed" part is now being seen by many as a signal that the platform will reduce restrictions on what can be posted there. 

"I think there is a chance that that one of the first things he'd like to do is bring back everybody that was banned or bring back everybody that was controversial. Certainly that's part of his main objective, and that could happen with or without Elon Musk," said Omar Akhtar, a research director at Altimeter.  

Musk has long complained about restrictions on Twitter, but has also promised it won't become what he calls a "hellscape." On the platform itself Musk tweeted Friday morning, saying "let the good times roll" — an idea celebrated and challenged by some of Twitter's 238 million users. 

SEE MORE: Elon Musk's Twitter Takeover Sparks Concern About Company's Future

Within hours of Musk's announcement, some users began posting racist, homophobic and transphobic comments and calling for suspended accounts to be restored.  

Republican representative Lauren Boebert tweeted "The bird is free, now free the greatest of all time @realdonaldtrump."  

While it's unclear what plans Musk has in store, in Europe, one E.U. official reminded him that under their rules, tech companies must have content moderation systems. The European Commissioner for Internal Market, Theirry Breton, tweeted "In Europe, the bird will fly by our rules," with an emoji of the European Union flag. 

"So it's very unclear what will actually happen. Right. So he wants to build a super app. He wants to add payments. He wants to do more video. I don't think, you know, the crystal ball on this is still very, very shiny. Right. I don't know where we're going to be six months from now," said Claire Diaz-Ortiz, a venture capitalist and former Twitter employee.

Are Hurricanes Getting Stronger?

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 19:09

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In September hurricane Ian made landfall in southwestern Florida. The deadly storm killed more than 100 people and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage. 

"I'm gonna cry. I thank god that I had my son come home again, I really did. I'm crying now," said Denise McPhillips, a Fort Myers resident. 

So what fueled all this destruction? Are hurricanes getting stronger? And is there a link to a warming planet? 

Ian began as a tropical depression in the Caribbean. It then pummeled Cuba as a category three storm. Then it moved over waters in the Gulf of Mexico, which were two to three degrees warmer than usual, in September. That gave the storm a boost. 

The hurricane's swirling winds sucked up the heat energy. It intensified to 155 miles per hour, a category four storm at landfall and one of the strongest storms to ever hit the U.S. 

While scientists can't pin any one storm on a warming planet, the behavior of the hurricane was consistent with how scientists predict a hotter ocean might supercharge future storms. 

So is climate change making hurricanes stronger?  Maybe – but the evidence isn't conclusive yet. The tropical Atlantic Ocean has warmed by one to two degrees Fahrenheit compared to recent decades.

But despite that increase in ocean water temperature, scientists don't think the annual number of major hurricanes in the Atlantic has risen since 1850.  

SEE MORE: Surviving The Storm: Newsy Team Covering Ian Narrowly Saved By Locals

"We don't really see very strong evidence at this time for some type of long term linear change, such as something that would be driven by increasing greenhouse gases," said Tom Knutson, a climate modeler at the U.S. Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The climate footprint might be there, but it could be drowned out by other fluctuations, said Knutson. 

Atlantic hurricanes seemed to diminish from the 1950s to the 1980s, but scientists aren't sure why. 

Some think that globally, tropical cyclones have already become rainier. One study suggested that since 1998, the storms have dumped 1% more rain each year.  

All that rain can cause deadly flooding, adding to other risks like winds or storm surges, but what about the future? Knutson uses computer models to simulate how a hotter, wetter atmosphere might affect hurricane trends. 

"So we kind of have a little bit of a give and take overall for hurricane activity, landfall or hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin, where we have fewer storms overall in the basin, but a greater fraction of those storms making landfall and we have a greater fraction of the storms reaching category four and five levels," he said.  

For every degree Fahrenheit of warmer global temperatures, the NOAA computer model predicts hurricane windspeeds to increase by 1%. That may not sound like much, but it would raise potential damage by 3%.  

And with every inch of sea level rise, NOAA says the storm surge from any given storm will be greater, and the water will tend to move further inland. 

Together, they make the forecast for the coming decades stormy indeed. 

Arizona Agrees Not To Enforce Total Abortion Ban Until 2023

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 19:06

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Arizona's attorney general has agreed not to enforce a near total ban on abortions at least until next year, a move that Planned Parenthood Arizona credited Thursday with allowing the group to restart abortion care across the state.

The state's largest provider of abortions restarted services at only their Tucson clinics after an appeals court blocked enforcement of the old law on Oct. 7. A lower court had allowed enforcement of that law on Sept. 23, halting all abortions statewide.

On Thursday, Planned Parenthood said services would resume statewide, including at clinics in metro Phoenix and in Flagstaff.

"While we are celebrating today, we can't ignore that we are still on a long an uncertain path to restoring the fundamental right to abortion in Arizona, and making this essential healthcare truly accessible and equitable for all people," Brittany Fonteno, who heads Planned Parenthood Arizona, said at a news conference. "While abortion is currently legal in Arizona and we have resumed abortion care throughout the state, we know that this could very well be temporary."

The only exception to the law is if the pregnant person's life is in jeopardy. The pre-statehood abortion ban law had been blocked since Roe was decided in 1973, but Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked a court in Tucson to allow it to be enforced this summer. The law dating to 1864 carries a prison sentence of two to five years.

After the judge in Tucson agreed with Brnovich, the court of appeals temporarily overrode her and set a schedule for Planned Parenthood and the Arizona attorney general's office lawyers to file their legal briefs in the appeal. Those document are due by a Nov. 17 deadline.

SEE MORE: Arizona Judge: State Can Enforce Near-Total Abortion Ban

Meanwhile, a Phoenix physician who runs a clinic that provides abortions and the Arizona Medical Association filed a separate lawsuit that sought to block the territorial-era law, arguing that laws enacted by the Legislature after 1973's Roe v. Wade decision should take precedence and abortions should be allowed until 15 weeks into a pregnancy.

The lawsuit filed by a Phoenix abortion doctor and the Arizona Medical Association repeated many of the arguments made by Planned Parenthood in their failed effort last month to persuade the Tucson judge to keep in place a 50-year-old injunction barring enforcement of the old law. The judge said it was not procedurally proper for her to try to reconcile 50 years of later law with the old law.

Brnovich sought to place that lawsuit on hold until the court of appeals rules on the Planned Parenthood case. In an agreement with the abortion rights groups, he agreed not to enforce the old law until at least 45 days after a final ruling in the original case.

Any decision by the court of appeals is certain to be appealed to the state Supreme Court, so any final decision could take well into 2023.

A law enacted by the Legislature this year limits abortions to 15 weeks into a pregnancy, well before the 24 weeks generally allowed under the Roe decision that was overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

Arizona women seeking abortions have been whipsawed by the state's competing laws since the high court's decision. Also in play is a "personhood" law that raised fears by providers that they could face charges under that law before a federal judge blocked it in July.

Abortion providers halted all care in the state after Roe was struck down, restarted in mid-July after the personhood law was blocked, and stopped them again when the Tucson judge allowed the 1864 law to be enforced.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

20 States Are Sending Out Stimulus Checks To Eligible Residents

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 18:27

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Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate dipped to 3.5% in September, inflation also remained near a 40-year high. As a result, many families are living paycheck to paycheck. While the IRS has made adjustments that could mean lower tax rates for many next year, the federal government has no plans to send out more stimulus checks.

However, 20 states have or will dole out some type of financial relief to certain residents. These payments are not on par with federal stimulus checks provided for pandemic relief, but they could help households struggling to put food on the table. Find out if your state is sending out stimulus money and, if so, who is eligible to receive it.

SEE MORE: U.S. Economy Returned To Growth Last Quarter, Expanding 2.6%


The state's Middle Class Tax Refund is part of an inflation relief package in California's budget agreement. The state government began issuing direct deposits into millions of Californians' bank accounts and mailing debit cards on Oct. 24. Eligible residents will receive a one-time payment of up to $1,050.

Residents can determine their eligibility and find out how much they can expect to receive on the California Franchise Tax Board website.


Colorado's governor signed a law in May giving residents a tax rebate of $750 for individual filers and $1,500 for joint filers. Checks were issued in September for those who filed their 2021 returns by June 30. Payments will be issued by Jan. 31, 2023, for anyone who received an extension and filed by Oct. 17.

If you have questions, call the Colorado Cash Back Call Center at 303-951-4996.


Residents who claimed at least one child as a dependent on their 2021 federal income tax return and meet certain income thresholds were eligible to receive a child tax rebate of $250 per child for up to three children. The application period closed on July 31, 2022, and checks were disbursed in August.


The 2022 Delaware Relief Rebate Program is a one-time direct payment of $300 per adult Delaware resident. Beginning Nov. 1, 2022, adult Delawareans who were over age 18 and living in the state on Dec. 31, 2021, may apply online.

The application period will be 30 days and ends on Nov. 30. No rebates will be sent until all applications have been reviewed. For more details, visit the Delaware Department of Finance website.


The state sent one-time payments of $450 per child to 59,000 families this summer. The Department of Children and Families selected recipients receiving benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. This program is administered by the state and funded by federal dollars.


In May, Georgia's governor announced that the state's Department of Revenue would issue special, one-time tax refunds that were a result of a revenue surplus from taxes in the year 2020. The maximum amount received would be $250 for those who filed as singles, $375 for head of household filers and $500 for married individuals who file joint returns based on an individual's tax liability.

Refunds were issued by early August for everyone who had filed 2021 taxes by April 18, 2022. For more information, you can call the department at 877-423-6711.


Approximately 600,000 Hawaii taxpayers who earned less than $100,000 a year ($200,000 for couples) were scheduled to receive tax refunds of $300 each, including dependents. Taxpayers who earned $100,000 or more ($200,000 for couples) were slated to get $100 each. Residents must file their 2021 tax returns by Dec. 31, 2022, to qualify.

The first refunds were delivered in mid-September via direct deposit. Paper checks are expected to be sent out by the end of October.


Tax rebate checks were approved during a special session of the Idaho Legislature in September. Eligible residents will receive a minimum of $300 for individuals and $600 for joint filers. These rebates for people who filed their taxes on time this year are already being sent out.

The governor said all rebates should arrive by Thanksgiving. You can check the status of your rebate using the state's Where's My Rebate tool.


The state is sending out rebates for income taxes and property taxes. Residents who made less than $200,000 in 2021 ($400,000 for couples) will receive $50 each and $100 per dependent for up to three dependents. Those who claimed property tax credit could receive up to $300 as well.

The first rebates were distributed the week of Sept. 12. State officials estimated it would take up to seven weeks to distribute the funds fully.


Eligible residents should receive refund checks of up to $325 by Nov. 1. Joint filers can receive up to $650. The payments may come as one check, two separate checks or a check combined with a direct deposit payment.

For more information, visit the Indiana Department of Revenue website.

SEE MORE: What's Tanking American Confidence In The Economy?


The state is providing Pandemic Relief Payments to eligible residents: those who earned less than $100,000 if filing as single, $150,000 if filing as head of household or $200,000 as a couple filing jointly in 2021. These taxpayers received $850 per person or $1,700 for a married couple. The first round of relief checks was mailed in June 2022, and the remainder will be delivered through the end of the year as returns are received.

For more information, call Maine Revenue Services at 207-624-9924 or check your status on the COVID Pandemic Relief Payment portal.


In August, the governor announced some Massachusetts residents would receive one-time rebates. Although all the details are not known yet, it looks like the rebate will be equivalent to approximately 13% of resident's state-based personal income tax liability for 2021.

You can use the online refund estimator provided by the Executive Office for Administration and Finance to see what you might expect to receive. More details and initial payments are expected in November.

New Jersey

New Jersey homeowners with a maximum household income of $150,000 can receive $1,500, and homeowners with an income between $150,000-$250,000 will receive $1,000. Renters with a maximum household income of $150,000 can receive $450, provided they meet eligibility guidelines.

You must apply for payment through the Division of Taxation's ANCHOR program. The deadline is Dec. 30, 2022. Payments will be issued as checks or direct deposits beginning in late spring of 2023.

New Mexico

In July, New Mexico began sending out economic relief payments to residents. Married couples, heads of household and surviving spouses with an adjusted gross income of up to $150,000 received $500 and single taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 received $250.

If you believe you should have received a payment but didn't, call the Taxation and Revenue Call Center at 866-285-2996.

New York

Homeowners in the state received property tax rebates of up to $1,050. Checks were expected to be delivered in June. Eligibility results from having an income less than or equal to $250,000 for 2020 and qualifying for a School Tax Relief benefit that year that comes to less than your school tax liability.

If you did not receive a check, you can find out about eligibility and other information on the New York Department of Taxation and Finance website.


In March, state lawmakers approved one-time stimulus payments for certain low-income workers. Residents who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit in 2020 received $600 payments delivered by July 31, 2022.

If you have questions about the payments, call the Oregon Department of Revenue at 800-356-4222.


Pennsylvania is offering one-time tax rebates for certain low-income homeowners and renters. The standard amount for the rebate is $650, but qualifying homeowners can get that boosted up to $975. The rebate program benefits residents age 65 and older, widows and widowers age 50 and older and people with disabilities aged 18 and older who meet specific income requirements.

You can apply online on the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue website or call 888-222-9190. The application deadline is Dec. 31, 2022.

Rhode Island

In August, the governor announced that eligible Rhode Island families would receive up to $250 per child for a maximum of three children as part of the fiscal year 2023 budget. The state started issuing the payments on Oct. 3, 2022, for individuals making up to $100,000 and joint filers making up to $200,000 No application is required.

Check the status of your rebate on the state's Division of Taxation website.

South Carolina

State residents can receive up to a $700 tax rebate, approved in June; the rebate amount is determined by your tax liability up to a certain amount. For most taxpayers, the South Carolina Department of Revenue will issue rebates in the same manner tax refunds were distributed, such as direct deposit, paper check or debit card.

Find out eligibility requirements and more on the SCDOR website.


Earlier this year, the state's General Assembly passed a law earlier this year giving taxpayers with a liability a rebate of up to $250 for individual filers and up to $500 for joint filers. Rebates were issued by Oct. 17 for residents who filed taxes before Sept. 5, either by direct deposit or mailed check.

You must file taxes by Nov. 1 to receive the rebate. To check your eligibility, visit the Virginia Tax website.

Jerry Lee Lewis, Outrageous Rock 'n' Roll Star, Dies At 87

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 17:58

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Jerry Lee Lewis, the untamable Rock 'n' Roll pioneer whose outrageous talent, energy and ego collided on such definitive records as "Great Balls of Fire" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and sustained a career otherwise upended by personal scandal, died Friday morning at 87.

The last survivor of a generation of groundbreaking performers that included Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, Lewis died at home in Memphis, Tennessee, representative Zach Farnum said in a release.

Of all the rock rebels to emerge in the 1950s, few captured the new genre's attraction and danger as unforgettably as the Louisiana-born piano player who called himself "The Killer."

Tender ballads were best left to the old folks. Lewis was all about lust and gratification, with his leering tenor and demanding asides, violent tempos and brash glissandi, cocky sneer and crazy blond hair. He was a one-man stampede who made the fans scream and the keyboards swear, his live act so combustible that during a 1957 performance of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" on "The Steve Allen Show," chairs were thrown at him like buckets of water on an inferno.

"There was rockabilly. There was Elvis. But there was no pure Rock 'n 'Roll before Jerry Lee Lewis kicked in the door," a Lewis admirer once observed. That admirer was Jerry Lee Lewis.

But in his private life, he raged in ways that might have ended his career today — and nearly did back then.

For a brief time, in 1958, he was a contender to replace Presley as rock's prime hit maker after Elvis was drafted into the Army. But while Lewis toured in England, the press learned three damaging things: He was married to 13-year-old (possibly even 12-year-old) Myra Gale Brown, she was his cousin, and he was still married to his previous wife. His tour was canceled, he was blacklisted from the radio and his earnings dropped overnight to virtually nothing.

"I probably would have rearranged my life a little bit different, but I never did hide anything from people," Lewis told the Wall Street Journal in 2014 when asked about the marriage. "I just went on with my life as usual."

Over the following decades, Lewis struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, legal disputes and physical illness. Two of his many marriages ended in his wife's early death. Brown herself divorced him in the early 1970s and would later allege physical and mental cruelty that nearly drove her to suicide.

"If I was still married to Jerry, I'd probably be dead by now," she told People magazine in 1989.

Lewis reinvented himself as a country performer in the 1960s, and the music industry eventually forgave him, long after he stopped having hits. He won three Grammys, and recorded with some of the industry's greatest stars. In 2006, Lewis came out with "Last Man Standing," featuring Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, B.B. King and George Jones. In 2010, Lewis brought in Jagger, Keith Richards, Sheryl Crow, Tim McGraw and others for the album "Mean Old Man."

SEE MORE: Loretta Lynn, Coal Miner's Daughter And Country Queen, Dies

In "The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll," first published in 1975, he recalled how he convinced disc jockeys to give him a second chance.

"This time I said, 'Look, man, let's get together and draw a line on this stuff — a peace treaty you know,'" he explained. Lewis would still play the old hits on stage, but on the radio he would sing country.

Lewis had a run of top 10 country hits between 1967-70, and hardly mellowed at all. He performed drinking songs such as "What's Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me)", the roving eye confessions of "She Still Comes Around" and a dry-eyed cover of a classic ballad of abandonment, "She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye." He had remained popular in Europe and a 1964 album, "Live at the Star Club, Hamburg," is widely regarded as one of the greatest concert records.

A 1973 performance proved more troublesome: Lewis sang for the Grand Ole Opry and broke two longstanding rules — no swearing and no non-country songs.

"I am a rock and rollin', country-and-western, rhythm and blues-singin' motherf-----," he told the audience.

Lewis married seven times, and was rarely far from trouble or death. His fourth wife, Jaren Elizabeth Gunn Pate, drowned in a swimming pool in 1982 while suing for divorce. His fifth wife, Shawn Stephens, 23 years his junior, died of an apparent drug overdose in 1983. Within a year, Lewis had married Kerrie McCarver, then 21. She filed for divorce in 1986, accusing him of physical abuse and infidelity. He countersued, but both petitions eventually were dropped. They finally divorced in 2005 after several years of separation. The couple had one child, Jerry Lee III.

Another son by a previous marriage, Steve Allen Lewis, 3, drowned in a swimming pool in 1962, and son Jerry Lee Jr. died in a traffic accident at 19 in 1973. Lewis also had two daughters, Phoebe and Lori Leigh, and his survived by his wife Judith.

His finances were also chaotic. Lewis made millions, but he liked his money in cash and ended up owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Internal Revenue Service. When he began welcoming tourists in 1994 to his longtime residence near Nesbit, Mississippi — complete with a piano-shaped swimming pool — he set up a 900 phone number fans could call for a recorded message at $2.75 a minute.

The son of one-time bootlegger Elmo Lewis and the cousin of TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart and country star Mickey Gilley, Lewis was born in Ferriday, Louisiana. As a boy, he first learned to play guitar, but found the instrument too confining and longed for an instrument that the only the rich people in his town could afford — a piano. His life changed when his father pulled up in his truck one day and presented him a dark-wood, upright set of keyboards.

"My eyes almost fell out of my head," Lewis recalled in "Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story," written by Rick Bragg and published in 2014.

He took to the piano immediately, and began sneaking off to Black juke joints and absorbing everything from gospel to boogie-woogie. Conflicted early on between secular and scared music, he quit school at 16, with plans of becoming a piano-playing preacher. Lewis briefly attended Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas, a fundamentalist Bible college, but was expelled, reportedly, for playing the "wrong" kind of music.

SEE MORE: Rolling Stones Drummer Charlie Watts Dies At 80

"Great Balls of Fire," a sexualized take on Biblical imagery that Lewis initially refused to record, and "Whole Lotta Shakin'" were his most enduring songs and performance pieces. Lewis had only a handful of other pop hits, including "High School Confidential" and "Breathless," but they were enough to ensure his place as a Rock 'n' Roll architect.

"No group, be it (the) Beatles, Dylan or Stones, have ever improved on 'Whole Lotta Shakin'' for my money," John Lennon would tell Rolling Stone in 1970.

A roadhouse veteran by his early 20s, Lewis took off for Memphis in 1956 and showed up at the studios of Sun Records, the musical home of Elvis, Perkins and Cash. Told by company founder Sam Phillips to go learn some Rock 'n Roll, Lewis returned and soon hurried off "Whole Lotta Shakin'" in a single take.

"I knew it was a hit when I cut it," he later said. "Sam Phillips thought it was gonna be too risque, it couldn't make it. If that's risque, well, I'm sorry."

In 1986, along with Elvis, Chuck Berry and others, he made the inaugural class of inductees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The Killer not only outlasted his contemporaries but saw his life and music periodically reintroduced to younger fans, including the the 1989 biopic "Great Balls of Fire," starring Dennis Quaid, and Ethan Coen's 2022 documentary "Trouble in Mind." A 2010 Broadway music, "Million Dollar Quartet," was inspired by a recording session that featured Lewis, Elvis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash.

He won a Grammy in 1987 as part of an interview album that was cited for best spoken word recording, and he received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2005. The following year, "Whole Lotta Shakin'" was selected for the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry, whose board praised the "propulsive boogie piano that was perfectly complemented by the drive of J.M. Van Eaton's energetic drumming. The listeners to the recording, like Lewis himself, had a hard time remaining seated during the performance."

A classmate at Bible school, Pearry Green, remembered meeting Lewis years later and asking if he was still playing the devil's music.

"Yes, I am," Lewis answered. "But you know it's strange, the same music that they kicked me out of school for is the same kind of music they play in their churches today. The difference is, I know I am playing for the devil and they don't."

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

At Least 42 People Dead In Floods, Landslides In South Philippines

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 17:57

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Flash floods and landslides set off by torrential rains swamped a southern Philippine province, killing at least 42 people, leaving 16 others missing and trapping some residents on their roofs, officials said Friday.

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Most of the victims were swept away by rampaging floodwaters and drowned or were hit by debris-filled mudslides in three towns in hard-hit Maguindanao province, said Naguib Sinarimbo, the interior minister for a five-province Muslim autonomous region run by former guerrillas.

The unusually intense rains were triggered by Tropical Storm Nalgae, which was expected to slam into the country’s eastern coast from the Pacific Ocean on Saturday, forecasters said.

The stormy weather prompted the coast guard to prohibit sea travel in dangerously rough seas as millions of Filipinos planned to travel over a long weekend to visit the tombs of relatives and for family reunions on All Saints’ Day in the largely Roman Catholic nation.

“The amount of rainwater that came down overnight was unusually (heavy) and flowed down mountainsides and swelled rivers,” Sinarimbo told The Associated Press by telephone.

“I hope the casualty numbers won't rise further but there are still a few communities we haven’t reached,” Sinarimbo said, adding the rains had eased since Friday morning, causing floods to start to recede in several towns.

Sinarimbo said based on reports from mayors, governors and disaster-response officials, 27 died mostly by drowning and landslides in Datu Odin Sinsuat town, 10 in Datu Blah Sinsuat town and five others in Upi town, all in Maguindanao.

Six people were missing in Datu Blah Sinsuat and 10 others in Upi, Sinarimbo said.

A rescue team reported that the bodies of at least 11 villagers were recovered in Kusiong, a tribal village at the foot of a mountain in Datu Odin Sinsuat, where floods and landslides also hit houses in the community, Sinarimbo said.

“They were able to rescue some earlier but now they're only trying to dig up bodies there,” he said, adding it was uncertain how many were missing in Kusiong because of confusion after the tragedy struck the community.

Army officials also reported at least 42 storm deaths in Maguindanao and said in a statement that their forces were “continuing to rescue those trapped in the flood in collaboration with local disaster teams” and take the displaced in army trucks to evacuation camps.

SEE MORE: Why Is The Philippines A Natural Disaster Hot Spot?

The unusually heavy rains flooded several towns in Maguindanao and outlying provinces in a mountainous region with marshy plains. Floodwaters rapidly rose in many low-lying villages, forcing some residents to climb onto their roofs, where they were rescued by army troops, police and volunteers, Sinarimbo said.

Many of the swamped areas had not been flooded for years, including Cotabato city where Sinarimbo said his house was inundated.

“In one area in Upi only the attic of a school can be seen above the floodwater,” disaster-response officer Nasrullah Imam said, referring to a flood-engulfed town in Maguindanao.

The wide rain bands of Nalgae, the 16th storm to hit the Philippine archipelago this year, enabled it to dump rainfall in the country’s south although the storm was blowing farther north, government forecaster Sam Duran said.

Late Friday afternoon, the storm was about 110 miles east of Catarman town in Northern Samar province with sustained winds of up to 53 miles per hour and was moving northwestward.

SEE MORE: Earlier This Year: At Least 56 Dead From Philippine Landslides, Floods

Dozens of provinces and cities were under storm alerts including the capital, Manila. Fishing and cargo boats and inter-island ferries were barred from venturing out to sea, stranding thousands of passengers, the coast guard said.

About 5,000 people were protectively evacuated away from the path of the storm, which was not expected to strengthen into a typhoon as it approached land, government forecasters and other officials said.

About 20 typhoons and storms batter the Philippine archipelago each year. It is located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a region along most of the Pacific Ocean rim where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur, making the nation one of the world’s most disaster-prone.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Miami Beach Condo Building Evacuated Near Deadly Collapse

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 17:43

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An evacuation order has abruptly forced out residents of a 14-story oceanfront building on the same avenue where a condominium collapse killed nearly 100 people last year.

The city posted an unsafe structure notice Thursday evening at the Port Royale condominium, Miami Beach spokesperson Melissa Berthier said in an email.

A structural engineering report prompted the evacuation of the 164-unit structure, which is in the process of undergoing a required recertification. An engineer discovered that a main support beam identified for repair 10 months ago had shifted and that a crack in the beam had expanded, and other structural supports may need repair as well, the report said.

One resident, renovation contractor Marash Markaj, who lived in the building for more than six years, said the damage extends beyond a single support beam.

"I've seen the issues for many years," Markaj told The Associated Press. He said he tried to report the issues – including cracks in a column and water standing in the garage area for weeks at a time – to the building management and to the city's building department.

"I was never able to get a response," he said, adding that he was feeling "unsafe" living in the building and with the way the building's maintenance was handled.

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Inspection Engineers Inc. said in a letter to the city that it's working to obtain a city permit so that "comprehensive shoring" can be installed within 10 days. That will be followed by another inspection of the building, which was constructed in 1971.

During an inspection about 10 months ago, engineers found "areas of concern that we designated as a priority to be repaired," Arshad Vioar said in an email sent to the Miami Beach Building Department.

The building's association selected a contractor and the repairs started about four weeks ago. The firm that inspected the building was asked to supervise the work and this week "noticed that one of the main beams in the garage had experienced a structural deflection of approximately ½ inch and also the existing crack that was marked for repair had extended," Vioar said in the email.

The handful of condo residents who returned to the site Friday morning to see what was going on said no hotel or other arrangements have been made for residents evacuated.

Felicia Flores, 71, who lived in the building for 15 years, swung by Friday morning while walking her small dog and said she's gone to stay with her daughter a couple of blocks away. She said work was being done on the building for a few weeks but that something changed Thursday.

"It appears there was something more serious, so we had to leave all of a sudden," Flores said.

SEE MORE: After Collapse, Engineers Warn of Florida Environmental Challenges

Samy Bosch, who lived in building for nine years, said the residents were given very little time to move out. They were told at 5 p.m. Thursday that they had to be out by 7 p.m.

"We don't know exactly what's going on inside there but we can't stay. That's it," Bosch said, as he and his wife returned to the area on scooters to observe the scene on Friday morning.

The Port Royale is about 1.3 miles south of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida, also on Collins Avenue, where 98 people were killed in a June 2021 collapse.

The disaster at the 12-story oceanfront condo building in Surfside drew the largest non-hurricane emergency response in Florida history, including rescue crews from across the U.S. and as far away as Israel to help local teams search for victims.

Other buildings in South Florida have been evacuated amid similar safety concerns since the Surfside collapse.

The disaster focused scrutiny on the structural integrity of aging condominium towers throughout Florida, especially along its coastlines, and the state has since moved to strengthen laws requiring inspections and periodic recertification of buildings.

Miami-Dade County had required the first recertification only after 40 years and the Surfside building was undergoing that recertification process when it collapsed.

New state rules signed into law in May require buildings to have their first recertification after 30 years, or 25 if they are within 3 miles of the coast, and then every 10 years thereafter.

Miami-Dade also now requires building owners to provide up to three months of housing and associated costs if officials determine their building was unsafe as a result of negligent maintenance.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Tom Brady, Gisele Bündchen Announce Divorce After 13 Years

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 17:32

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Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen have finalized their divorce, they announced Friday, ending the 13-year marriage between two superstars who respectively reached the pinnacles of fashion and football.

Brady and Bündchen posted statements on Instagram late Friday morning, each saying they had “amicably” reached the decision. Checks of court dockets Friday morning in Tampa, Miami and West Palm Beach did not immediately show a divorce petition from either member of the couple, who are entitled to file in any Florida county.

“The decision to end a marriage is never easy but we have grown apart and while it is, of course, difficult to go through something like this, I feel blessed for the time we had together and only wish the best for Tom always,” Bündchen wrote.

Both said their priorities lay with their children and asked for privacy.

“We arrived at this decision to end our marriage after much consideration,” Brady wrote. “Doing so is, of course, painful and difficult, like it is for many people who go through the same thing every day around the world.”

SEE MORE: Tom Brady Is Returning To Tampa To Play 23rd Season In NFL

The divorce landed in the midst of Brady's 23rd NFL season, and amid his first three-game losing streak in 20 years, just months after the seven-time Super Bowl champion put an end to his short-lived retirement. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback — who had long stated a desire to spend more time with Bündchen and his three children — announced his departure from the game in February, only to change his mind 40 days later.

“What more do you have to prove?” Bündchen told her husband on the sidelines after his last, record-shattering Super Bowl victory, as Brady himself recounted shortly after the win.

Despite Brady initially saying his retirement was a chance to focus his “time and energy on other things that require my attention,” part of his motivation to come back was what he has referred to as “unfinished business” with the Buccaneers. The team failed to reach the Super Bowl last season in their effort to repeat as champions.

Bündchen told “CBS This Morning” in 2017 that she was concerned about her husband after he played through a concussion the previous year. Brady's then-team, the New England Patriots, and agent declined to respond to her comments at the time, and an NFL spokesperson said there were no records he had suffered a head injury. Brady later said he preferred to keep his medical history private.

“I mean, we don’t talk about it," Bündchen said during the interview. "But he does have concussions. I don’t really think it’s a healthy thing for anybody to go through.”

She more recently contended that the characterization in reports that she was desperate for her husband to retire carried sexist overtones.

“Obviously, I have my concerns. This is a very violent sport, and I have my children and I would like him to be more present,” the supermodel told Elle magazine in September. “I have definitely had those conversations with him over and over again. But ultimately, I feel that everybody has to make a decision that works for (them). He needs to follow his joy, too.”

SEE MORE: Tom Brady To Join Fox Sports When Playing Career Ends

Bündchen and Brady were introduced by a mutual friend and married — twice — a little over two years later. They said their first “I dos” in early 2009 at a Catholic church in Santa Monica, California, before family and close friends, followed by an equally small second wedding at her house in Costa Rica nearly two months later.

Their son Benjamin was born later that year, followed by a daughter, Vivian, in 2012. Brady also has a 15-year-old son, Jack Moynahan, from a previous relationship with actor Bridget Moynahan.

Bündchen, who was discovered by a modeling scout at age 13 in Brazil, secured her place as one of the industry's highest-paid models by the 2000s and became a tabloid staple, fueled by a relationship with Leonardo DiCaprio. In addition to walking the runways of top designers, appearing in campaigns for high street and high fashion brands alike, she signed on as a Victoria's Secret Angel and took on small film roles — including in “The Devil Wears Prada."

She took a step back from modeling in 2015, giving up runway work and limiting herself to a few advertising campaigns and magazine covers a year. She made one big exception, wearing a glistening gown and a huge smile in 2016 as she crossed a 400-foot runway at the Rio Olympics while fellow Brazilian Daniel Jobim performed “The Girl from Ipanema.”

Since paring back her modeling commitments, she has dedicated herself to environmental activism, particularly with regard to the Amazon rainforest's conservation, and business ventures like eco-friendly skin care and a lingerie line. She has also been vocal about mental health, disclosing debilitating panic attacks that she said had her contemplate suicide and criticizing unrealistic beauty standards.

Above all, Bündchen told Elle, her top priority was her family.

“I’ve done my part, which is (to) be there for (Tom). I moved to Boston, and I focused on creating a cocoon and a loving environment for my children to grow up in and to be there supporting him and his dreams,” she said. “Seeing my children succeed and become the beautiful little humans that they are, seeing him succeed, and being fulfilled in his career, it makes me happy. At this point in my life, I feel like I’ve done a good job on that.”

After years in Boston — where Brady played for the Patriots — and then moving again to Tampa with him in 2020, she said she had her own plans: “I have a huge list of things that I have to do, that I want to do. At 42, I feel more connected with my purpose.”

Brady turned 45 in August, when he left the Buccaneers for 11 days for unspecified personal reasons. The team supported the leave, calling it a pre-planned break agreed to before the start of training camp in July.

A three-time NFL MVP and the league's all-time leader in yards passing and touchdowns, Brady signed a 10-year contract reportedly worth $375 million to become the lead football analyst for Fox Sports once he hangs up his cleats. When that will be is yet uncertain — while Brady had expressed an interest in extending his playing career beyond his mid-40s if he remained healthy, his now ex-wife had a different idea back in 2017.

“That kind of aggression all the time, that cannot be healthy for you,” she said during the CBS interview. “I’m planning on him being healthy and do a lot of fun things when we’re like 100, I hope.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: Assailant Shouted 'Where Is Nancy?" In Attack

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 16:53

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The intruder who attacked Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband in their San Francisco home confronted him shouting,"Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?" according to a person briefed on the situation and granted anonymity to discuss it.

Paul Pelosi was attacked and severely beaten by an assailant with a hammer who broke into their home early Friday, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Pelosi, 82, suffered blunt force injuries to his head and body, according to two people who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing probe.

The attack was not random; the assailant specifically targeted the home, the people said. The assailant was in custody.

Pelosi was being treated by doctors for bruising, severe swelling and other injuries. Nancy Pelosi's spokesman Drew Hammill said he was expected to make a full recovery.

"The Speaker and her family are grateful to the first responders and medical professionals involved, and request privacy at this time," Hammill said in a statement.

While the circumstances of the attack are unclear, the attack raises questions about the safety of members of Congress and their families as threats to lawmakers are at an all-time high almost two years after the deadly Capitol insurrection. The attack also comes just 11 days ahead of midterm elections in which crime and public safety have emerged as top concerns among Americans.

In 2021, Capitol Police investigated around 9,600 threats made against members of Congress, and members have been violently attacked in recent years. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, , was shot in the head at an event outside a Tucson grocery store in 2011, and Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., was severely injured when a gunman opened fire on a Republican congressional baseball team practice in 2017.

Members of Congress have received additional dollars for security at their homes, but some have pushed for more protection as people have showed up at their homes and as members have received an increasing number of threatening communications.

Capitol Police, tasked with protecting congressional leaders, said Nancy Pelosi was with her protective detail in Washington at the time her husband was attacked. She'd just returned this week from a security conference in Europe and is due to keynote an advocacy event Saturday evening with Vice President Kamala Harris.

Capitol Police said the FBI and San Francisco police were also investigating. The suspect is in the custody of the San Francisco police.

Often at Nancy Pelosi's side during formal events in Washington, Paul Pelosi is a wealthy investor who largely remains on the West Coast. They have five adult children and many grandchildren. The two have been married 59 years.

Earlier this year, Paul Pelosi pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving under the influence charges related to a May crash in California's wine country and was sentenced to five days in jail and three years of probation.

President Joe Biden and lawmakers from both parties reacted to the assault with shock and expressed their well wishes to the Pelosi family.

"What happened to Paul Pelosi was a dastardly act," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, "I spoke with Speaker Pelosi earlier this morning and conveyed my deepest concern and heartfelt wishes to her husband and their family, and I wish him a speedy recovery."

"We have been to many events with the Pelosis over the last 2 decades and we've had lots of occasions to talk about both of our families and the challenges of being part of a political family. Thinking about the Pelosi family today," tweeted Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that President Joe Biden has also been in contact with Nancy Pelosi.

"The President is praying for Paul Pelosi and for Speaker Pelosi's whole family," Jean-Pierre said. "This morning he called Speaker Pelosi to express his support after this horrible attack. He is also very glad that a full recovery is expected. The president continues to condemn all violence, and asks that the family's desire for privacy be respected."

The Pelosi home in the wealthy Pacific Heights neighborhood has been the scene of several protests in the past few years. After Nancy Pelosi was seen on video getting her hair done at a salon while many were shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, stylists protested outside with curling irons. Members of the Chinese community protested outside recently before Pelosi's trip to Taiwan. And during debates over the federal stimulus package protesters scrawled anarchy signs in black paint across the garage door, along with "cancel rent," and "we want everything."

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Elon Musk's Twitter Takeover Sparks Concern About Company's Future

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 15:04

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After months of trying to back out from a deal to buy Twitter, Elon Musk is officially moving forward with the acquisition. It's still unclear what direction the company could head under his leadership - but some experts are concerned it could lead to increased unsavory content. 

Those worries stem from Musk's comments on how speech should be moderated with a light touch on social media. Musk tried to allay those concerns in a Tweet, saying: "Twitter cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences." But reports also indicate that Musk may cut Twitter's staffing by up to 75%, which experts say will likely have a large impact on moderating harmful content. 

"I think there's a very realistic danger of the incremental progress that Twitter has made in civilizing the site being rolled back, if Elon Musk comes in and is running the place day to day," said New York University Deputy Director of the Stern Center for Business and Human Rights Paul Barrett. "I think you would end up seeing it move toward an environment like Parler or Gab, where the worst of internet discourse comes to predominate."

SEE MORE: Elon Musk In Control Of Twitter, Ousts Top Executives

Musk has also said that he would reinstate former president Donald Trump's Twitter account, which was banned for repeatedly pushing the false narrative that the election was illegitimately won by Joe Biden, and posing "a risk of further incitement of violence."  In recent weeks, Trump has used his Truth Social platform to routinely push election misinformation. Civil society experts are also concerned that Trump’s acceptance back to Twitter could create a chain effect where he gets back on Facebook and other platforms.   

"A lot of the major social media companies will follow what others are doing. And certainly with Trump, we saw his being banned [as] sort of a domino effect. When he was banned on one platform, the other companies followed in succession," Free Press Director of Civil Rights and Digital Justice Nora Benavidez said. "His coming back on any of these platforms signals that there will be a surge in that hate and toxicity yet again. It doesn't matter if it's one or all of them."

There are also concerns around Musk's cryptic proposal to "authenticate all real human users," which could require individuals to attach their real names to accounts. Experts told Newsy that could lead to real-world harm. 

"There are authoritarian regimes. There are cases where people don't want to maybe talk about their sexual orientation or political beliefs to their family members. Authenticating everyone and saying that old-fashioned sort of a thing as having everything out in the open - I think those things have been shown not to work," Michigan State University Omura-Saxena Professor of Responsible AI Anjana Susarla said. 

Hawaiian Residents Warned Of Potential Volcanic Eruption

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 14:33

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Hawaii officials are warning residents of the Big Island that the world’s largest active volcano, Mauna Loa, is sending signals that it may erupt.

Scientists say an eruption isn’t imminent, but they are on alert because of a recent spike in earthquakes at the volcano’s summit. Experts say it would take just a few hours for lava to reach homes closest to vents on the volcano, which last erupted in 1984.

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Hawaii’s civil defense agency is holding meetings across the island to educate residents about how to prepare for a possible emergency. They recommend having a ″go″ bag with food, identifying a place to stay once they leave home and making a plan for reuniting with family members.

“Not to panic everybody, but they have to be aware of that you live on the slopes of Mauna Loa. There’s a potential for some kind of lava disaster,” said Talmadge Magno, the administrator for Hawaii County Civil Defense.

The volcano makes up 51% of the Hawaii Island landmass, so a large portion of the island has the potential to be affected by an eruption, Magno said.

There’s been a surge of development on the Big Island in recent decades — its population has more than doubled to 200,000 today from 92,000 in 1980 — and many newer residents weren’t around when Mauna Loa last erupted 38 years ago. All the more reason why Magno said officials are spreading the word about the science of the volcano and urging people to be prepared.

Mauna Loa, rising 13,679 feet above sea level, is the much larger neighbor to Kilauea volcano, which erupted in a residential neighborhood and destroyed 700 homes in 2018. Some of its slopes are much steeper than Kilauea’s so when it erupts, its lava can flow much faster.

During a 1950 eruption, the mountain’s lava traveled 15 miles to the ocean in less than three hours.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, which is part of the U.S. Geological Survey, said Mauna Loa has been in a state of “heightened unrest” since the middle of last month when the number of summit earthquakes jumped from 10 to 20 per day to 40 to 50 per day.

Scientists believe more earthquakes are occurring because more magma is flowing into Mauna Loa's summit reservoir system from the hot spot under the earth's surface that feeds molten rock to Hawaii's volcanoes.

The temblors have declined in frequency in recent days but could rise again.

SEE MORE: Why Some Volcanic Eruptions Don't Have Bigger Climate Impacts

More than 220 people attended a community meeting last weekend that county civil defense officials held in Ocean View, a neighborhood that lava could reach in hours if molten rock erupts through vents on Mauna Loa’s southwest flank.

Bob Werner, an Ocean View resident who didn’t attend the meeting, said it’s wise to be aware of a possible eruption but not to fear it. He’s not concerned that the neighborhood would be completely cut off, if lava flows across the only road connecting it to the bigger towns of Kailua-Kona and Hilo, where many people do their shopping.

The “greater concern is it will be extremely annoying to drive an extra hour or two hours to get the same stuff,” he said.

Ryan Williams, the owner of the Margarita Village bar in Hilo, said the volcanic unrest wasn’t worrying customers who are used to warnings.

There could still be a heightened sense of urgency since officials have been holding town hall meetings, urging people to prepare.

“But everything I’ve read or heard, they trying to kind of assure people that conditions have not changed,” Williams said. “There’s no imminent eruption, but just to be alert.”

Magno said his agency is talking to residents now because communities closest to vents likely wouldn’t have enough time to learn how to respond and prepare once the observatory raises its alert level to “watch,” which means an eruption is imminent.

The current alert level is “advisory” meaning the volcano is showing signs of unrest yet there’s no indication an eruption is likely or certain.

Residents in other parts of the island would have more time to react.

Lava from Mauna Loa’s northeast flank could take days or weeks to reach residential communities. That’s because the mountain’s slopes on that side are relatively gentle and because towns are farther from volcanic vents.

Frank Trusdell, research geologist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said all of Mauna Loa’s eruptions in recorded history have started in its summit crater. About half of them stayed there, while the other half later spewed lava from vents lower down the mountain.

Lava erupting from the summit generally doesn’t travel far enough to reach residential areas.

Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since 1843. It last erupted in 1984 when lava flowed down its eastern flank only to stop 4.5 miles short of Hilo, the Big Island’s most populous town.

Mauna Loa also has a history of disgorging huge volumes of lava.

In the 1950 eruption, which lasted for 23 days, Mauna Loa released 1,307 cubic yards of lava per second. In contrast, Kilauea released 392 cubic yards per second in 2018.

The earthquakes could continue for a while before any eruption: increased seismic activity lasted for a year before a 1975 eruption and a year-and-a-half before the 1984 one. Alternatively, the temblors could subside and Mauna Loa may not erupt this time.

Trusdell said residents should look at his agency’s maps and learn how quickly lava may show up in their neighborhood. He also urged people living in one of the short-notice areas to pay attention if the summit turns red.

“All you got to do is look up there and see the glow. You grab your stuff, throw it in the car and drive. Go!” he said.

They can always go home after if the lava ultimately doesn’t flow into their neighborhood, he said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Divers Find More Human Remains At Receding Lake Mead

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 12:52

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Divers have found more human remains at drought-stricken Lake Mead near Las Vegas, authorities said Thursday.

A National Park Service dive team confirmed Oct. 18 that a bone found a day earlier at Callville Bay was part of “human skeletal remains” on the Nevada side of the Colorado River reservoir behind Hoover Dam, according to a statement from the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

"At this time, no foul play is suspected," the statement said, and the Clark County coroner’s office in Las Vegas was working to confirm the identity of the dead person.

SEE MORE: Bodies Found In Lake Mead Renew Interest In Vegas Mob Folklore

The discovery marked at least the sixth time since early May that remains identified as human have been discovered in shallow water or on the dramatically receding shore of the lake. The water level has dropped more than 180 feet since the lake was full in 1983, putting it at less than 27% full today.

A man’s body found stuffed in a barrel near Hemenway Harbor on May 1 has not been identified, but Las Vegas police said he had been shot, probably between the mid-1970s and the early 1980s, and his death is being investigated as a homicide.

Remains found May 7 at Callville Bay were identified in August as Thomas Erndt, a 42-year-old Las Vegas man believed to have drowned during a family boat outing in 2002. Callville Bay is one of several lake marina and resort areas.

Several more sets of partial human skeletal remains have been found since then — including on July 25, Aug. 6 and Aug. 16 — generally near a swimming area at the lake. They were not in barrels.

Seven states in the U.S. West and Mexico draw water from the Colorado River. Scientists attribute the drop in lake water levels to a warmer and drier climate affected by atmospheric warming, mainly due to rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Barack Obama Gets A Midterm Do-Over To Help Boost Democrats

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 12:48

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Barack Obama is trying to do something he couldn't during two terms as president: help Democrats succeed in national midterm elections when they already hold the White House.

Of course, he's more popular than he was back then, and now it's President Joe Biden, Obama's former vice president, who faces the prospects of a November rebuke.

Obama begins a hopscotch across battleground states Friday in Georgia, and he will travel Saturday to Michigan and Wisconsin, followed by stops next week in Nevada and Pennsylvania.

The itinerary, which includes rallies with Democratic candidates for federal and state offices, comes as President Biden and Democrats try to stave off a strong Republican push to upend Democrats' narrow majorities in the House and Senate and claim key governorships ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

With President Biden's job approval ratings in the low 40s amid sustained inflation, he's an albatross for Democrats like Sens. Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada. But party strategists see Obama as having extensive reach even in a time of hyperpartisanship and economic uncertainty.

"Obama occupies a rare place in our politics today," said David Axelrod, who helped shape Obama's campaigns from his days in the Illinois state Senate through two presidential elections. "He obviously has great appeal to Democrats. But he's also well-liked by independent voters."

SEE MORE: Biden Zeroes In On Economic Message As Campaign Winds Down

Neither President Biden nor former President Donald Trump can claim that, Axelrod and others noted, even as both men also ratchet up their campaigning ahead of the Nov. 8 elections.

"Barack Obama is the best messenger we've got in our party, and he's the most popular political figure in the country in either party," said Bakari Sellers, a South Carolina Democrat and prominent political commentator.

Obama left office in January 2017 with a 59% approval rating, and Gallup measured his post-presidential approval at 63% the following year, the last time the organization surveyed former presidents. That's considerably higher than his ratings in 2010, when Democrats lost control of the House in a midterm election that Obama called a "shellacking." In his second midterm election four years later, the GOP regained control of the Senate.

Swimming against those historical tides, President Biden traveled Thursday to Syracuse, New York, for a rare appearance in a competitive congressional district. After months of Republican attacks over inflation, he offered a closing economic argument buoyed somewhat by news of 2.6% GDP growth in the third quarter after two previous quarters of retraction.

"Democrats are building a better America for everyone with an economy ... where everyone does well," President Biden said.

Yet Lis Smith, a Democratic strategist, said Obama is better positioned to take that same argument to Americans who haven't decided whom to vote for or whether to vote at all.

"If it's just a straight-up referendum on Democrats and the economy, then we're screwed," Smith said, acknowledging that no incumbent party wants to run amid sustained inflation. "But you have to make the election a choice between the two parties, crystallize the differences."

Obama, she said, did that in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections "by winning over a lot of working-class white voters and others we don't always think about as part of the 'Obama coalition.'"

SEE MORE: Abrams, Kemp, Hazel Face Off At Georgia Gubernatorial Debate

He couldn't replicate it in midterms, but he's not the president this time. Smith and Axelrod said that means Obama can more deftly position himself above the fray to defend Democratic accomplishments, from the specifics of the Inflation Reduction Act to the COVID-19 pandemic relief package that many Democrats have avoided touting because Republicans blame it for inflation. Smith said Obama can remind voters of years of Republican attacks on his 2010 health care law that now seems to be a permanent and generally accepted part of the U.S. health insurance market.

Beyond those policy arguments, Sellers noted that Obama, as the first Black president, "connects especially with Black and brown voters," a bond reflected in the opening days of his itinerary.

In Atlanta, he'll be on stage with Warnock, the first Black U.S. senator in Georgia history, and Stacey Abrams, who's vying to become the first Black female governor in American history. Warnock faces a stiff challenge from Republican nominee Herschel Walker, who is also Black. Kemp is trying to unseat Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who narrowly defeated her four years ago.

In Michigan, Obama will campaign in Detroit with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is being challenged by Republican Tudor Dixon, and in Wisconsin he'll be in Milwaukee with Senate candidate Mandela Barnes, who is trying to oust Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. Each city is where the state's Black population is most concentrated. Obama's Pennsylvania swing will include Philadelphia, another city where Democrats must get a strong turnout from Black voters to win competitive races for Senate and governor.

With the Senate now split 50-50 between the two major parties and Vice President Kamala Harris giving Democrats the deciding vote, any Senate contest could end up deciding which party controls the chamber for the next two years. Among the tightest Senate battlegrounds, Georgia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are three where Black turnout could be most critical to Democratic fortunes.

Plans have been in the works for Obama and President Biden to campaign together in Pennsylvania, though neither the White House nor Obama's office has confirmed details.

A wider embrace for Obama is a turnabout from his two midterm elections. But it's at least partly a rite of passage for former presidents. "Most of them — maybe not President Trump, but most of them — are viewed more favorably after they leave office," Axelrod said.

Notably, during Obama's presidency, former President Bill Clinton was the in-demand surrogate heavyweight, especially for moderates trying to survive Republican surges in 2010 and 2014. Clinton was a pivotal voice for Obama's reelection effort in 2012, with Obama dubbing him the "secretary of explaining stuff" after Clinton's sweeping endorsement address at the Democratic convention as Obama was locked in a tight contest with Republican Mitt Romney.

"Bill Clinton was the MVP for us in 2012," Axelrod said.

Now, Clinton is two decades removed from the White House, and the #MeToo movement has forced some people to reevaluate his history of sexual misconduct allegations.

"It's always been dicey to bring in national Democrats in a midterm, and it doesn't help when they bring a lot of baggage," Smith said of Clinton.

Axelrod was more circumspect, saying simply, "It's a different time."

But he said Obama and Clinton have a similar approach.

"What Clinton and Obama share is a kind of unique ability to colloquialize complicated political arguments of the time, just talk in common-sense terms," Axelrod said. "They're storytellers. I think you'll see that again when he's out there."

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Elon Musk In Control Of Twitter, Ousts Top Executives

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 11:29

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Elon Musk has taken control of Twitter and ousted the CEO, chief financial officer and the company's top lawyer, two people familiar with the deal said Thursday night.

The people wouldn't say if all the paperwork for the deal, originally valued at $44 billion, had been signed or if the deal has closed. But they said Musk is in charge of the social media platform and has fired CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal and Chief Legal Counsel Vijaya Gadde. Neither person wanted to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the deal.

A few hours later, Musk tweeted, "the bird has been freed," a reference to Twitter's logo.

The departures came just hours before a deadline set by a Delaware judge to finalize the deal on Friday. She threatened to schedule a trial if no agreement was reached.

Although they came quickly, the major personnel moves had been widely expected and almost certainly are the first of many major changes the mercurial Tesla CEO will make.

Musk privately clashed with Agrawal in April, immediately before deciding to make a bid for the company, according to text messages later revealed in court filings.

About the same time, he used Twitter to criticize Gadde, the company's top lawyer. His tweets were followed by a wave of harassment of Gadde from other Twitter accounts. For Gadde, an 11-year Twitter employee who also heads public policy and safety, the harassment included racist and misogynistic attacks, in addition to calls for Musk to fire her. On Thursday, after she was fired, the harassing tweets lit up once again.

Musk's changes will be aimed at increasing Twitter's subscriber base and revenue.

In his first big move earlier on Thursday, Musk tried to soothe leery Twitter advertisers saying that he is buying the platform to help humanity and doesn't want it to become a "free-for-all hellscape."

SEE MORE: Musk Lugs Sink Into Twitter HQ As $44B Deal Deadline Looms

The message appeared to be aimed at addressing concerns among advertisers — Twitter's chief source of revenue — that Musk's plans to promote free speech by cutting back on moderating content will open the floodgates to more online toxicity and drive away users.

"The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence," Musk wrote in an uncharacteristically long message for the Tesla CEO, who typically projects his thoughts in one-line tweets.

He continued: "There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right wing and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society."

Musk has previously expressed distaste for advertising and Twitter's dependence on it, suggesting more emphasis on other business models such as paid subscriptions that won't allow big corporations to dictate policy on how social media operates. But on Thursday, he assured advertisers he wants Twitter to be "the most respected advertising platform in the world."

The note is a shift from Musk's position that Twitter is unfairly infringing on free speech rights by blocking misinformation or graphic content, said Pinar Yildirim, associate professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

But it's also a realization that having no content moderation is bad for business, putting Twitter at risk of losing advertisers and subscribers, she said.

"You do not want a place where consumers just simply are bombarded with things they do not want to hear about, and the platform takes no responsibility," Yildirim said.

Musk said Twitter should be "warm and welcoming to all" and enable users to choose the experience they want to have.

SEE MORE: Where Alternative Social Media Platforms Stand Before Midterms

Friday's deadline to close the deal was ordered by the Delaware Chancery Court in early October. It is the latest step in a battle that began in April with Musk signing a deal to acquire Twitter, then tried to back out of it, leading Twitter to sue the Tesla CEO to force him to go through with the acquisition. If the two sides don't meet Friday's deadline, the next step could be a November trial that could lead to a judge forcing Musk to complete the deal.

But Musk has been signaling that the deal is going through. He strolled into the company's San Francisco headquarters Wednesday carrying a porcelain sink, changed his Twitter profile to "Chief Twit," and tweeted "Entering Twitter HQ — let that sink in!"

And overnight the New York Stock Exchange notified investors that it will suspend trading in shares of Twitter before the opening bell Friday in anticipation of the company going private under Musk.

Musk is expected to speak to Twitter employees directly Friday if the deal is finalized, according to an internal memo cited in several media outlets. Despite internal confusion and low morale tied to fears of layoffs or a dismantling of the company's culture and operations, Twitter leaders this week have at least outwardly welcomed Musk's arrival and messaging.

Top sales executive Sarah Personette, the company's chief customer officer, said she had a "great discussion" with Musk on Wednesday and appeared to endorse his Thursday message to advertisers.

"Our continued commitment to brand safety for advertisers remains unchanged," Personette tweeted Thursday. "Looking forward to the future!"

Musk's apparent enthusiasm about visiting Twitter headquarters this week stood in sharp contrast to one of his earlier suggestions: The building should be turned into a homeless shelter because so few employees actually worked there.

The Washington Post reported last week that Musk told prospective investors that he plans to cut three quarters of Twitter's 7,500 workers when he becomes owner of the company. The newspaper cited documents and unnamed sources familiar with the deliberation.

Musk has spent months deriding Twitter's "spam bots" and making sometimes contradictory pronouncements about Twitter's problems and how to fix them. But he has shared few concrete details about his plans for the social media platform.

Thursday's note to advertisers shows a newfound emphasis on advertising revenue, especially a need for Twitter to provide more "relevant ads" — which typically means targeted ads that rely on collecting and analyzing users' personal information.

Yildirim said that, unlike Facebook, Twitter has not been good at targeting advertising to what users want to see. Musk's message suggests he wants to fix that, she said.

Insider Intelligence principal analyst Jasmine Enberg said Musk has good reason to avoid a massive shakeup of Twitter's ad business because Twitter's revenues have taken a beating from the weakening economy, months of uncertainty surrounding Musk's proposed takeover, changing consumer behaviors and the fact that "there's no other revenue source waiting in the wings."

"Even slightly loosening content moderation on the platform is sure to spook advertisers, many of whom already find Twitter's brand safety tools to be lacking compared with other social platforms," Enberg said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Halloween Costumes Have Grown Into A Billion-Dollar Industry

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 01:20

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The National Retail Federation, or NRF, expects this Halloween spending to return to pre-pandemic numbers, with customers spending more on adult costumes than those for children.

"Halloween has really grown as a holiday over the last decade, and a lot of that has been fueled by adult — particularly young adult — participation," said Katherine Cullen, senior director of consumer insights at NRF.

Americans are expected to spend $1.7 billion this year on costumes, a welcome number after the pandemic took a bite out of Halloween sales the past few years. But with COVID-19 vaccines making the pandemic more manageable, the NRF says more 18- to 24-year-olds will embrace the spooky tradition with the return of Halloween parties, Halloween themed bar crawls and haunted houses.

"I'm seeing a lot of people who are my age throwing parties or even going out to restaurants or bars during the night to celebrate," said Nikki Cristobal, customer at a Halloween store.

Bella Farkas is one of the managers at Chicago's Fantasy Costumes. The store has been selling a cornucopia of get-ups for more than 50 years, and not just during Halloween, but throughout the year. The store is full of adult costumes, but the kids' costumes are limited to one room.

"In the last maybe 15 years, that's when we had the change in here," Farkas said. "This was mostly just mascot costumes, and it just became such a thing for adults that we made this whole room for females."

SEE MORE: Your Halloween Candy Will Cost More This Year Thanks To Inflation

Farkas says they have two adult costumes for every one kid's outfit.

"The adults really like to accessorize most of their stuff if they're doing something elaborate," Farkas said. "The kids, some of them are so small they can't carry anything."

The practice of wearing Halloween costumes has roots in paganism and Christianity in the early part of the 20th century to ward off evil spirits. Some historians trace adults getting into the dress-up act to San Francisco's LGBTQ neighborhood, Castro, in the 1970s when gay people entered a children's costume contest for fun. Cross dressing was illegal then, and it was one night a year where someone could dress-up without breaking the law.

"I think because it's such a big holiday for many people across the United States, and it allows for your freedom of expression, I think just dress however you want to dress," Cristobal said. 

Halloween, even now, is a way to dress up as anything or anyone, though more sexual costumes have started growing in trendiness since the 70s, as the gay Halloween parades grew combined with the rise of the sexual revolution.

"I'm going to start with schoolgirl girl Britney, and then I'm going to quickly transition to the VMA Britney... and then I'm going to transition to bald Britney where she shaved her head, and then to free Britney," customer Buffie Amoroso said.

This year's top three popular adult costumes are witches, vampires and ghosts.

The NRF says 70% of adults already know what their costume will be this year, but Farkas says for others, waiting until the last minute won't get the costume customers really want.

Where Alternative Social Media Platforms Stand Before Midterms

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 01:10

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After the 2020 election, alternative social media platforms like Parler, Gettr and Gab experienced surges in amount of users, especially after former President Donald Trump was banned from established social media. But since then, these spaces have seen their role diminish.

A recent report from the Pew Research Center found only 6% of adults regularly get news from at least one alternative social media space. Of the platforms Pew evaluated, none drew more than 2% of Americans looking for news.

"If you look at that 6% of people who get news on any of these sites, 66% are Republicans or lean toward the Republican Party, and a third are Democrats or lean Democratic," said Galen Stocking of Pew Research Center. "This is a contrast with more established social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and YouTube, where 39% are Republicans and 55% are Democrats, or independents."

Stocking told Newsy that every alternative site in the report identified itself as a "defender of free speech," with several declaring that they were against censorship. Critics say this approach has opened these spaces to extremism, conspiracy theories and misinformation. Pew's report found that 6% of prominent accounts on these sites mention a connection to QAnon.

SEE MORE: Are Social Media Platforms Ready For The Midterms?

Despite this, the approach seems to be a hit with alternative social media users, who report having overall positive feelings about these spaces.

"Two-thirds of any users who get news on these sites say that they have found a community of people who share their views there," Stocking said. "They say that they are more satisfied than dissatisfied with their experience in getting news there. But the most common response for people who had heard of the sites but did not use them for news was about the sites being inaccurate or unreliable."

One outstanding question is whether these spaces will retain users. Social media experts told Newsy that many prominent users who flocked to alternative sites after Trump's ban, including Trump's own Truth Social platform, may find themselves back on established platforms if the former president does return. Elon Musk said he'd let Trump back on Twitter if he acquires the company. Meta's ban on Trump is scheduled to end in January 2023.

"Trump is going to be followed no matter where he is by the media, but some of these other characters who follow in his wake... those guys know that they would instantly reach a hundred times as many people potentially on Twitter as they do Gab," said Paul Barrett, deputy director at New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.