John M. Starcher Jr., made about $6 million in 2020, according to the most recent tax filings.

“Our mission is clear — to extend the compassionate ministry of Jesus by improving the health and well-being of our communities and bring good help to those in need, especially people who are poor, dying and underserved,” the spokeswoman, Maureen Richmond, said. Bon Secours did not comment on Mr. Otey’s case.

In interviews, doctors, nurses and former executives said the hospital had been given short shrift, and pointed to a decade-old development deal with the city of Richmond as another example.

In 2012, the city agreed to lease land to Bon Secours at far below market value on the condition that the chain expand Richmond Community’s facilities. Instead, Bon Secours focused on building a luxury apartment and office complex. The hospital system waited a decade to build the promised medical offices next to Richmond Community, breaking ground only this year.

founded in 1907 by Black doctors who were not allowed to work at the white hospitals across town. In the 1930s, Dr. Jackson’s grandfather, Dr. Isaiah Jackson, mortgaged his house to help pay for an expansion of the hospital. His father, also a doctor, would take his children to the hospital’s fund-raising telethons.

Cassandra Newby-Alexander at Norfolk State University.

got its first supermarket.

according to research done by Virginia Commonwealth University. The public bus route to St. Mary’s, a large Bon Secours facility in the northwest part of the city, takes more than an hour. There is no public transportation from the East End to Memorial Regional, nine miles away.

“It became impossible for me to send people to the advanced heart valve clinic at St. Mary’s,” said Dr. Michael Kelly, a cardiologist who worked at Richmond Community until Bon Secours scaled back the specialty service in 2019. He said he had driven some patients to the clinic in his own car.

Richmond Community has the feel of an urgent-care clinic, with a small waiting room and a tan brick facade. The contrast with Bon Secours’s nearby hospitals is striking.

At the chain’s St. Francis Medical Center, an Italianate-style compound in a suburb 18 miles from Community, golf carts shuttle patients from the lobby entrance, past a marble fountain, to their cars.

after the section of the federal law that authorized it, allows hospitals to buy drugs from manufacturers at a discount — roughly half the average sales price. The hospitals are then allowed to charge patients’ insurers a much higher price for the same drugs.

The theory behind the law was that nonprofit hospitals would invest the savings in their communities. But the 340B program came with few rules. Hospitals did not have to disclose how much money they made from sales of the discounted drugs. And they were not required to use the revenues to help the underserved patients who qualified them for the program in the first place.

In 2019, more than 2,500 nonprofit and government-owned hospitals participated in the program, or more than half of all hospitals in the country, according to the independent Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

in wealthier neighborhoods, where patients with generous private insurance could receive expensive drugs, but on paper make the clinics extensions of poor hospitals to take advantage of 340B.

to a price list that hospitals are required to publish. That is nearly $22,000 profit on a single vial. Adults need two vials per treatment course.

work has shown that hospitals participating in the 340B program have increasingly opened clinics in wealthier areas since the mid-2000s.

were unveiling a major economic deal that would bring $40 million to Richmond, add 200 jobs and keep the Washington team — now known as the Commanders — in the state for summer training.

The deal had three main parts. Bon Secours would get naming rights and help the team build a training camp and medical offices on a lot next to Richmond’s science museum.

The city would lease Bon Secours a prime piece of real estate that the chain had long coveted for $5,000 a year. The parcel was on the city’s west side, next to St. Mary’s, where Bon Secours wanted to build medical offices and a nursing school.

Finally, the nonprofit’s executives promised city leaders that they would build a 25,000-square-foot medical office building next to Richmond Community Hospital. Bon Secours also said it would hire 75 local workers and build a fitness center.

“It’s going to be a quick timetable, but I think we can accomplish it,” the mayor at the time, Dwight C. Jones, said at the news conference.

Today, physical therapy and doctors’ offices overlook the football field at the training center.

On the west side of Richmond, Bon Secours dropped its plans to build a nursing school. Instead, it worked with a real estate developer to build luxury apartments on the site, and delayed its plans to build medical offices. Residents at The Crest at Westhampton Commons, part of the $73 million project, can swim in a saltwater pool and work out on communal Peloton bicycles. On the ground floor, an upscale Mexican restaurant serves cucumber jalapeño margaritas and a Drybar offers salon blowouts.

have said they plan to house mental health, hospice and other services there.

a cardiologist and an expert on racial disparities in amputation, said many people in poor, nonwhite communities faced similar delays in getting the procedure. “I am not surprised by what’s transpired with this patient at all,” he said.

Because Ms. Scarborough does not drive, her nephew must take time off work every time she visits the vascular surgeon, whose office is 10 miles from her home. Richmond Community would have been a five-minute walk. Bon Secours did not comment on her case.

“They have good doctors over there,” Ms. Scarborough said of the neighborhood hospital. “But there does need to be more facilities and services over there for our community, for us.”

Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

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Fugitive In Massive Navy Bribery Case Caught In Venezuela

Leonard Glenn Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing military officials so his company could overcharge the U.S. Navy for servicing ships.

A Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” who orchestrated one of the largest bribery scandals in U.S. military history has been arrested in Venezuela after fleeing before his sentencing, authorities said Wednesday.

U.S. Marshals Service via AP

The international manhunt for Leonard Glenn Francis ended with his arrest by Venezuelan authorities Tuesday morning at the Caracas airport as he was about to board an airplane for another country, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

Francis had traveled to Venezuela from Mexico with a stopover in Cuba, Interpol Venezuela Director General Carlos Garate Rondon said in a statement posted on Instagram. Francis was headed to Russia and was arrested at the main international airport in Caracas, the agency said.

The arrest came on the eve of his scheduled sentencing in a federal court in California for a bribery scheme that lasted more than a decade and involved dozens of U.S. Navy officers.

There was no immediate word on when he might be extradited to the United States.

At the sentencing hearing Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Janis Sammartino announced to the court that Francis was in custody in Venezuela and that a “no bail arrest warrant” had been issued.

“This turn of events raises several issues, and obviously will have an impact on other cases,” she said. A sentencing hearing for four Navy officers who went to trial in the case and were found guilty is set for October.

Prosecutors asked the court to note that Francis failed to appear at his sentencing hearing as ordered, while defense attorneys notified the court that they would be filing a motion severing their ties with Francis due to an “irreparable break down of the attorney-client relationship.”

Sammartino set a Dec. 14 status hearing for Francis with the caveat that all parties could meet sooner depending on how events unfold.

“I believe that’s all we can accomplish this morning,” Sammartino said.

The U.S. government faces an uphill challenge returning the fugitive back to American soil. The U.S. government doesn’t recognize Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government, has no embassy in the country and has imposed crushing sanctions on the country that has further embittered relations. Law enforcement cooperation between the two countries is rare.

Francis was under home arrest in San Diego when he cut off his GPS ankle bracelet and escaped on Sept. 4. Ten U.S. agencies searched for Francis and authorities issued a $40,000 reward for his arrest.

U.S. authorities also issued a red notice, which asks law enforcement worldwide to provisionally arrest someone with the possibility of extradition. Malaysia and Singapore both have extradition agreements with the United States.

Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to offering prostitution services, luxury hotels, cigars, gourmet meals and more than $500,000 in bribes to Navy officials and others to help his Singapore-based ship servicing company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd. or GDMA. Prosecutors said the company overcharged the Navy by at least $35 million for servicing ships, many of which were routed to ports he controlled in the Pacific.

Francis had been allowed to remain in home confinement to receive medical care while he cooperated with the prosecution. With his help, prosecutors secured convictions of 33 of 34 defendants, including more than two dozen Navy officers.

Sammartino had feared Francis would run when she denied a request four years ago to allow him to be under house arrest without around-the-clock security guards.

The judge repeatedly maintained that security guards must be on site for Francis to be on house arrest, despite his poor health.

According to a transcript of a closed-door hearing in February 2018, which was unsealed in January, Sammartino expressed concern that her name would come up if Francis escaped and ended up back in Malaysia if anyone asked “who let somebody do this without security.”

She raised similar concerns in a Dec. 17, 2020, after receiving a report that the home was left without anyone guarding it for nearly three hours, according to the court transcript. The guard was on a lunch break, and Francis apologized to the judge for the mishap.

Officials found no security guards when they arrived at Francis’ home in a tony San Diego neighborhood some seven hours after he removed the ankle monitor, according to Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marsha, Omar Castillo. The device, believed to have been removed with heavy scissors, was found in the home.

Castillo said someone had called the San Diego police department, which sent officers to the home on the afternoon of Sept. 4. Officers found the home empty and contacted U.S. Pre-Trial Services, the federal agency in charge of his confinement, which then contacted the U.S. Marshals Service.

Neighbors reported seeing U-Haul trucks coming and going from the home one or two days before the escape, Castillo said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Xi, Putin Hold Summit In Uzbekistan As Ukraine War Dominates

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 15, 2022

Russian President Putin and Chinese President Xi were due to meet one-on-one to discuss the war in Ukraine, according to one presidential adviser.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and leaders from India and Central Asia gathered Thursday in Uzbekistan for a summit of a security group formed by Beijing and Moscow as a counterweight to U.S. influence.

The meeting Friday of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization is overshadowed by Putin’s attack on Ukraine and strains in China’s relations with Washington, Europe, Japan and India due to disputes over technology, security and territory.

The event in the ancient sultanate of Samarkand is part of Xi’s first foreign trip since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic 2 1/2 years ago, underscoring Beijing’s desire to assert itself as a regional power.

Putin and Xi were due to meet one-on-one and discuss Ukraine, according to the Russian president’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov.

Xi’s government, which said it had a “no limits” friendship with Moscow before the invasion, has refused to criticize the attack. Beijing and India are buying more Russian oil and gas, which helps Moscow offset the impact of Western sanctions.

China “states explicitly that it understands the reasons that forced Russia to launch a special military operation,” Ushakov said Thursday, according to the Russian news agency ITAR-Tass.

Putin planned to meet Friday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ITAR-Tass said, citing Ushakov.

There was no indication whether Modi might meet Xi. Chinese-Indian relations are strained due to clashes between soldiers from the two sides in a dispute over a border in a remote area of the Himalayas.

Other SCO governments include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Tajikistan.

The meeting planned to consider an application by Iran, an observer of the group, to become a full member, according to ITAR-Tass.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which has the status of “dialogue partner,” was also in attendance.

Putin and Erdogan planned on Friday to “evaluate the effectiveness” of a deal under which wheat exports from Ukraine via the Black Sea resumed, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, according to ITAR-Tass.

The Chinese leader is promoting a “Global Security Initiative” announced in April following the formation of the Quad by Washington, Japan, Australia and India in response to Beijing’s more assertive foreign policy. Xi has given few details, but U.S. officials complain it echoes Russian arguments in support of Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.

The region is part of China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative to expand trade by building ports, railways and other infrastructure across an arc of dozens of countries from the South Pacific through Asia to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

On Thursday, Xi met with President Sadyr Zhaparov of Kyrgyzstan and said Beijing supports the “early operation” of a planned railway linking China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

China’s economic inroads into Central Asia have fueled unease in Russia, which sees the region as its sphere of influence.

Xi made a one-day visit Wednesday to Kazakhstan en route to Uzbekistan. Pope Francis was in Kazakhstan, but they didn’t meet.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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New Mexico County Official Banned From Office Over Role In Jan. 6 Riot

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 7, 2022

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin was previously convicted of a misdemeanor for entering the Capitol grounds during the insurrection.

A New Mexico state district court judge on Tuesday disqualified county commissioner and Cowboys for Trump cofounder Couy Griffin from holding public office for engaging in insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The judgment from state District Court Judge Francis Mathew permanently bars Griffin from federal and local public office. It arrived amid a spate of lawsuits aimed at sidelining political candidates and elected officials linked to the Capitol riots.

Griffin was previously convicted in federal court of a misdemeanor for entering Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, without going inside the building. He was sentenced to 14 days and given credit for time served.

The new ruling immediately removes Griffin from his position as a commissioner in Otero County in southern New Mexico. He also is barred from serving as a presidential elector.

“Mr. Griffin aided the insurrection even though he did not personally engage in violence,” Mathew wrote. “By joining the mob and trespassing on restricted Capitol grounds, Mr. Griffin contributed to delaying Congress’s election-certification proceedings.”

Griffin said he was notified of his removal from office by Otero County staff, who prevented him from accessing his work computer and office space at a county building in Alamogordo.

Griffin, who served as his own legal counsel at a two-day bench trial in August, called the ruling a “total disgrace” that disenfranchises his constituents in Otero County.

“The actions that are being taken are, I believe, perfect evidence of the tyranny that we’re right now living under,” Griffin said. “The left continues to speak about democracy being under attack, but is this democracy? Whenever you’re removed from office by the civil courts by the opinion of a liberal judge?”

A flurry of similar lawsuits around the country are seeking to punish politicians who took part in Jan. 6 under provisions of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which holds that anyone who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution can be barred from office for engaging in insurrection or rebellion.

The provisions were put in place shortly after the Civil War.

At trial, Griffin invoked free speech guarantees in his defense and argued that removing him from office would cut against the will of the people and set a “dangerous precedent.” Elected in 2018, Griffin withstood a recall vote last year but isn’t running for reelection or other office in November.

Mathew wrote that Griffin’s arguments “disregard that the Constitution itself reflects the will of the people.”

Griffin “overlooks that his own insurrectionary conduct on January 6 sought to subvert the results of a free and fair election, which would have disenfranchised millions of voters.”

Griffin is among a dozen people charged in the Jan. 6 riot that had either held public office or ran for a government leadership post in the two and a half years before the attack. Of those, seven have been convicted of crimes for their participation.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Its Largest Lake Is So Dry, China Digs Deep To Water Crops

By Associated Press
August 23, 2022

High temperatures have sparked wildfires in southwest China, and factories have cut production as hydroelectric plants reduce their output.

With China’s biggest freshwater lake reduced to just 25% of its usual size by a severe drought, work crews are digging trenches to keep water flowing to one of the country’s key rice-growing regions.

The dramatic decline of Poyang Lake in the landlocked southeastern province of Jiangxi had otherwise cut off irrigation channels to nearby farmlands. The crews, using excavators to dig trenches, only work after dark because of the extreme daytime heat, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

A severe heat wave is wreaking havoc across much of southern China. High temperatures have sparked mountain fires that have forced the evacuation of 1,500 people in the southwest, and factories have been ordered to cut production as hydroelectric plants reduce their output amid drought conditions. The extreme heat and drought have wilted crops and shrunk rivers including the giant Yangtze, disrupting cargo traffic.

Fed by China’s major rivers, Poyang Lake averages about 1,400 square miles in high season, but has contracted to just 285 square miles in the recent drought.

As determined by water level, the lake officially entered this year’s dry season Aug. 6, earlier than at any time since records began being taken in 1951. Hydrological surveys before then are incomplete, although it appears the lake may be at or around its lowest level in recent history.

Along with providing water for agriculture and other uses, the lake is a major stopover for migrating birds heading south for the winter.

China is more accustomed to dealing with the opposite problem: seasonal rains that trigger landslides and flooding every summer. Two years ago, villages and fields of rice, cotton, corn and beans around Poyang Lake were inundated after torrential rains.

This year, a wide swath of western and central China has seen days of temperatures exceeding 104 Fahrenheit in heat waves that have started earlier and lasted longer than usual.

The heat is likely connected to human-caused climate change, though scientists have yet to do to the complex calculations and computer simulations to say that for certain.

“The heat is certainly record-breaking, and certainly aggravated by human-caused climate change,” said Maarten van Aalst, director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre in the Netherlands. “Drought is always a bit more complex.”

The “truly mind-boggling temperatures roasting China” are connected to a stuck jet stream — the river of air that moves weather systems around the world — said Jennifer Francis, a climate scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts. 

She said an elongated area of relatively high atmospheric pressure parked over western Russia is responsible for both China’s and Europe’s heat waves this year. In China’s case, the high pressure is preventing cool air masses and precipitation from entering the area.

“When hot, dry conditions get stuck, the soil dries out and heats more readily, reinforcing the heat dome overhead even further,” Francis said.

In the hard-hit city of Chongqing, some shopping malls have been told to open only from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. to conserve energy. Residents have been seeking respite in the cool of air raid shelters dating from World War II.

That reflects the situation in Europe and elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, with high temperatures taking a toll on public health, food production and the environment.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press. 

Source: newsy.com

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The Meaning Behind Pope Francis’ Meeting With Transgender People

Some say Pope Francis’s meeting with transgender people may not translate into doctrinal change, but it could lead to cultural acceptance.

Father James Martin has taken his message of prayer and inclusivity just about everywhere, from “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to the halls of the Vatican.

In May, he wrote to Pope Francis with a few questions.

“I just wanted to give him a time to briefly talk to LGBTQ Catholics,” Martin said.

Francis has extended apologies to the abused and a welcome to the historically rejected. According to the Vatican News, he recently met with transgender people near Rome, Italy.

So Martin’s questions aren’t so random.

“I asked him, ‘What would you most like them to know about the church?'” Martin said. “He said, ‘Read Acts of the Apostles,’ which was really interesting because there’s a church that’s kind of mixing it up. Then also, ‘What would you say to an LGBTQ Catholic who felt rejected by the church?’ And he said very interestingly to remember that it’s not the church that rejects you, the church loves you, but it might be individual people in the church.”

It isn’t the first time Francis has corresponded directly with Martin on LGBTQ relations or the first time he has spoken up about their place within the Catholic church.

In 2016, Francis agreed the church should apologize to not only gay people but other marginalized groups, like the poor. He’s also called for parents to accept their LGBTQ children.

Francis’ gestures are one thing; changing church doctrine, which teaches that the act of homosexuality is sinful, is another.

“What would have happened really, in a sense, is for theologians working together, along with church officials, to come to some newer understanding of how they can accommodate for older church teaching on these issues, to show that the church evolves rather than dramatically changing,” said Michele Dillon, professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire. “Because the church is not going to say, ‘Oh, we were wrong.’ It’s very rare.”

“If he were to do that, which I don’t think Pope Francis will, but if he were to do that, he would not want to do it without support from the Curia and the College of Cardinals,” said Cristina Traina, professor of Catholic theology at Fordham University. “He would not want to do it without tracing a pathway theologically.”

Instead, Francis has gone another direction: one met with both criticism and praise, uplifting LGBTQ Catholics while simultaneously reiterating church doctrine.  

NEWSY’S AMBER STRONG: Is he sort of riding the line between saying that this is doctrine, and doctrines not going to change. But, we also still need to love and affirm people as well?

FATHER JAMES MARTIN: I think that’s a good question, and I think he is kind of trying to straddle that line. But I think one thing to remember is that what seems very bland and tepid in the United States — overseas is a big deal. In the U.S., we might say, ‘Oh, big deal. Of course, you should welcome your kids.’ If you’re in Eastern Europe or sub-Saharan Africa or Latin America or India, that’s a big deal. So, we have to remember that he’s speaking to the whole church.”

According to Pew Research, 76% of U.S. Catholics say society should be accepting of homosexuality. That’s below the rate of Catholic support in countries like Spain and the Netherlands but far higher than places like Lebanon and Nigeria.

Some theologians argue that Francis’ support could have a trickle-down impact on individual Catholics and parishes.

“These things can do a lot to encourage Catholics to embrace LGBTQ people with love and compassion and mercy and not to see them as the Antichrist, the anathema, the enemy of salvation,” Traina said.

In 2021, a group of catholic leaders, including a cardinal and archbishop, signed a statement calling for widespread support of at-risk LGBTQ youth. According to an NCR analysis of recent listening sessions among U.S. Catholics, there was a growing call for LGBTQ inclusion and more opportunities for women.  

“To me, there’s no such thing as an empty gesture because, yes, many times people want to see more clear cut evidence of change and of their acceptance within the church, but sometimes it’s in small steps,” Dillon said.

In 2021, Martin, a Vatican appointee under Francis, launched Outreach: a website that provides resources to LGBTQ Catholics and leaders. It’s an effort Pope Francis has encouraged.

“He hasn’t changed any church teaching,” Martin said. “I’m not advocating for any church teaching, but he’s advocated a more pastoral response, listening to them, welcoming them, treating them with the respect.

Source: newsy.com

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Police: Man Drives Into Fundraiser Crowd, Then Kills Mother

By Associated Press
August 15, 2022

The driver told police an argument with his mother caused him to plow through the crowd before he went home and killed her.

Pennsylvania state police say a man upset about an argument with his mother drove into a crowd of people at a fundraiser for victims of a recent deadly house fire, killing one person at the event and injuring 17 others, then returned home and beat his mother to death.

Police identified the driver as 24-year-old Adrian Oswaldo Sura Reyes of Nescopeck, who was arraigned early Sunday on two counts of criminal homicide.

Police allege in a criminal complaint that Sura Reyes said he argued with his mother at their Nescopeck home Saturday evening and while driving through nearby Berwick was “extremely frustrated” and was “tired of fighting with his mother, including about money, and wanted to be done with it.”

At the time, police said, a crowd of about 75 people, including adults and small children, had gathered in a blocked-off parking lot in Berwick outside the Intoxicology Department bar, which was holding an all-day fundraising event to benefit victims of the Aug. 5 blaze in Nescopeck that killed seven adults and three children.

Police say Sura Reyes told them he drove past the gathering, then turned around and headed back to the bar “to drive through the crowd of people.” Investigators asked how fast he drove into the crowd and Sura Reyes replied “speeding up.”

“Video surveillance gathered by the Pennsylvania State Police corroborates Sura Reyes’ statement that he sped up into the crowd purposefully,” according to the criminal complaint.

Geisinger Medical Center said it received 15 patients after the crash, and five remained in critical condition while three were listed in fair condition, a hospital spokesperson said Sunday morning. Seven patients had been treated at hospitals and released.

Trooper Anthony Petroski III told reporters late Saturday that Sura Reyes was not currently a suspect in the fire — the cause of which remains under investigation.

“This is a complete tragedy in a community where there’s already been tragedy,” Petroski said.

Shortly after the crash was reported, troopers were called about a man “physically assaulting” a woman less than two miles away in Nescopeck. Troopers arrived to find local police had arrested Sura Reyes and that a woman was dead.

Luzerne County Coroner Francis Hacken confirmed Sunday that the victim, Rosa D. Reyes, 56, of Nescopeck, was the mother of Sura Reyes and had died of multiple traumatic injuries after being hit by a vehicle and assaulted with a hammer.

In the criminal complaint, police say Sura Reyes told investigators he saw his mother in the street upon returning home and hit her with his vehicle, then struck her with a hammer several times.

Sura Reyes was denied bail and remained in Columbia County prison pending an Aug. 29 preliminary hearing. News outlets reported he said “Sorry” in response to reporters’ questions as he was taken from the Shickshinny police station. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had a lawyer to comment on his behalf.

The first funerals for victims of the fire were held Friday, and more were scheduled for Sunday and Monday.

The bar called the events an “absolute tragedy” and said on its Facebook page that it will be closed until further notice and would like privacy “while we grieve and try to process the events that occurred.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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How Reproductive Rights Were Won In Latin America

By Newsy Staff
August 10, 2022

A movement called “The Green Wave” has pushed the success of the reproductive rights movement in three of Latin America’s most populous countries.

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the United States became one of only four countries that have rolled back abortion rights since the mid-90s, joining Poland and two Latin American countries: El Salvador and Nicaragua.

But elsewhere in Latin America, there’s been momentum building in the opposite direction.

A widespread, grassroots movement known as “The Green Wave” has been gaining ground for reproductive rights in the region, winning major legal victories in the last couple of years. That’s in Latin America’s three most populous countries.

In December 2020, lawmakers in Argentina passed a law allowing abortion within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Less than a year later, in September 2021, Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalized abortion through a unanimous decision. Then in February of this year, Colombia’s highest court legalized abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. Coming up in September, voters in Chile will decide whether to ratify a new constitution that would protect the right to abortion.

These changes are a huge deal for countries that are predominantly Catholic and historically very conservative with abortion rights.

Argentina is the birthplace of Pope Francis, who made last-minute appeals against both an unsuccessful bill in 2018 and the bill that was passed in 2020. Meanwhile Chile, another historically very Catholic country, had a total abortion ban until as late as 2017.

So, what exactly is this movement, and how did it achieve such huge victories against the odds?

The Green Wave began in Argentina. Organizers took inspiration from the “Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo:” a group of women who protested against the ruling military junta in the late 70s. The women, protesting the thousands of civilian killings ordered by the mIlitary, famously wore white scarves on their heads.

Fast forward a couple of decades, two women decided to pay homage to the protesters without reusing the color white. The original organizers brainstormed together and settled on the color green to symbolize life and growth.

The green bandanas made their debut in 2018 to support a bill to decriminalize abortion. Though the law didn’t pass then, the image of the waves of green stuck – and the movement began in earnest.

It’s worth noting: The region is still one of the most restrictive in the world when it comes to reproductive health laws. As of 2021, abortion is entirely banned in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Suriname.

But, the recent wave of victories seems to be changing public opinion. For example, one poll in Mexico showed support for abortion access jumped dramatically from 29 to 48%. That poll was taken just as Argentina was passings its laws, and Mexico would follow nine months later.

This shift correlates with another important shift in the region: Some surveys indicate a decline in Catholicism among most Latin American countries. Argentina had one of the biggest drops in this regional survey, from 76% to 49% reporting they identified as Catholic. 

That begs the question: What effect from this might be seen in the U.S.? The green symbolism has already made its way stateside, and some elected officials like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a green bandana on the steps of the Supreme Court after the ruling.

Still, the question still remains of how the U.S. might translate this symbolism into real, legislative action seen in Colombia, Mexico and Argentina.

Source: newsy.com

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Catastrophic Flooding In The Appalachian Mountains

Residents in the Appalachians are being rescued by teams due to catastrophic flooding that have caused power outages and limited cell service.

In eastern Kentucky, between eight and 10 and a half inches of rain fell in a 48-hour period. 

It put schools, cars and homes underwater. 

“We’re hoping the houses don’t go but that’s a strong possibility,” said Paul Francis, who was rescued from his home.  

It’s going to be a real hard time for people.  

Main streets are cut off, an auto repair shop is submerged and other business owners are measuring damage levels in feet, not inches. 

More than 50 air rescues and hundreds of water rescues are happening across the state.

“I’m just glad to get out of there, but I’m going to lose everything I have for sure, but it’s better than losing my life,” said Bevery Daughtery, who was rescued from floodwaters.

Mike Lotz is the rescue team manager for Ohio Task Force 1.

“Floodwater work is always difficult because it’s constantly changing and you don’t know if the water is coming up or coming down,” Lotz said. 

Search and rescue will continue.

Accurate numbers of those still missing are difficult to come by, and cell service is spotty and power is out. 

Sally is still searching for her best friend’s daughter. 

“It’s hard to think about anything else. Right now we are in search and rescue which needs to be done by professionals. If you want to help, get in touch with one of these groups,”said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.  

Evacuated residents can’t return until floodwaters recede. Then the long, hard job of cleanup begins.  

But before that, more rain is expected on Sunday for this already waterlogged area. 

“That weather should remind us that this isn’t over,” Beshear said.  

Governor Beshear is predicting it could take more than a year to fully rebuild, with many families in this already financially strapped area losing everything.   

Source: newsy.com

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