being repeatedly told that the American election process is deeply corrupted.

In fact, Mr. Mastriano’s candidacy has from its inception been propelled by his role in disputing the 2020 presidential election lost by Mr. Trump.

county by county, but election experts say they do not reflect factors as benign as changes in addresses.

“They’re in search of solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist,” Kyle Miller, a Navy veteran and state representative for Protect Democracy, a national advocacy organization, said in an interview in Harrisburg. “They are basing this on faulty data and internet rumors.”

Some Republican lawmakers have leaned on false claims to call for changes to rules about mail-in ballots and other measures intended to make it easier for people to vote. Several counties have already reversed some of the decisions, including the number and location of drop boxes for ballots.

Mr. Miller, among others, warned that the flurry of false claims about balloting could be a trial run for challenging the results of the presidential election in 2024, in which Pennsylvania could again be a crucial swing state.

In Chester County, a largely white region that borders Delaware and Maryland that is roughly split between Republicans and Democrats, the effort to sow confusion came the old-fashioned way: in the mail.

Letters dated Sept. 12 began arriving in mailboxes across the county, warning people that their votes in the 2020 presidential election might not have counted. “Because you have a track record of consistently voting, we find it unusual that your record indicates that you did not vote,” the letter, which was unsigned, said.

The sender called itself “Data Insights,” based in the county seat of West Chester, though no known record of such a company exists, according to county officials. The letters did include copies of the recipients’ voting records. The letters urged recipients to write to the county commissioners or attend the commission’s meetings in the county seat of West Chester, in September and October. Dozens of recipients did.

The county administrator, Robert J. Kagel, tried to assure them that their votes were actually counted. He urged anyone concerned to contact the county’s voter services department.

Even so, at county meetings in September and October, speaker after speaker lined up to question the letter and the ballot process generally — and to air an array of grievances and conspiracy theories.

They included the discredited claims of the film “2000 Mules” that operatives have been stuffing boxes for mail-in ballots. One attendee warned that votes were being tabulated by the Communist Party of China or the World Economic Forum.

“I don’t know where my vote is,” another resident, Barbara Ellis of Berwyn, told the commissioners in October. “I don’t know if it was manipulated in the machines, in another country.”

As of Oct. 20, 59 people in Chester County had contacted officials with concerns raised in the letter, but in each case, it was determined that the voters’ ballots had been cast and counted, said Rebecca Brain, a county spokesman.

Who exactly sent the letters remains a mystery, which only fuels more conspiracy theories.

“It seems very official,” Charlotte Valyo, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party in the county, said of the letter. She described it as part of “an ongoing, constant campaign to undermine the confidence in our voting system.” The county’s Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment.

Disinformation may not be the only cause of the deepening partisan chasm in the state — or the nation — but it has undoubtedly worsened it. The danger, Ms. Valyo warned, was discouraging voting by sowing distrust in the ability of election officials to tally the votes.

“People might think, ‘Why bother, if they’re that messed up?’”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Putin Frames Illegal Annexation as Part of Existential Battle With West

Credit…Pool photo by Dmitry Astakhov

President Vladimir V. Putin on Friday asserted that Russia would take control of four Ukrainian regions and decried the United States for “Satanism” in a speech that marked an escalation in Moscow’s war against Ukraine and positioned Russia, in starkly confrontational terms, as fighting an existential battle with Western elites he deemed “the enemy.”

Speaking to hundreds of Russian lawmakers and governors in a grand Kremlin hall, Mr. Putin said that the residents of the four regions — which are still partially controlled by Ukrainian forces — would become Russia’s citizens “forever.” He then held a signing ceremony with the Russian-installed heads of those regions to start the official annexation process, before clasping hands with them and chanting “Russia! Russia!”

Mr. Putin’s address came against a backdrop of Russian embarrassments on the battlefield, where Ukraine’s forces have scored stunning victories in recent weeks in the east. Even as the Russian leader spoke, officials said the Ukrainian army had moved closer to encircling the Russian-occupied town of Lyman, a strategically important hub in the Donetsk region that lies inside the territory Mr. Putin is claiming.

Even by Mr. Putin’s increasingly antagonistic standards, the speech was extraordinary, a combination of bluster and menace that mixed conspiratorial riffs against the American-led “neocolonial system” with an appeal to the world to see Russia as the leader of an uprising against American power.

He referred to “the ruling circles of the so-called West” as “the enemy,” a word he rarely uses in reference to the West — and struck a tone of spiteful anger and defiance.

“Not only do Western elites deny national sovereignty and international law,” he said in the 37-minute address. “Their hegemony has a pronounced character of totalitarianism, despotism and apartheid.”

Western leaders have condemned Russia’s annexations as illegal, and the “referendums’’ that preceded them — purporting to show local support for joining Russia — as fraudulent. The Biden administration announced new sanctions in response to the Kremlin’s move.

President Biden was quick to denounce Mr. Putin’s actions to annex the four territories, saying they “have no legitimacy’’ and adding that “the United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.’’

Ukraine’s government has rebuffed Mr. Putin’s claims and vowed to retake territory captured by Russia in the east and south. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded to Mr. Putin’s speech on Friday by announcing that he was fast-tracking his country’s application to the NATO alliance. In a video, he accused the Kremlin of trying to “steal something that does not belong to it.” “Ukraine will not allow that,” he said.

Mr. Putin insisted that Russia’s position on annexing the four territories was nonnegotiable, adding that the country would defend them “with all the forces and means at our disposal.”

“I call on the Kyiv regime to immediately cease fire and all military action,” he said, and for the Ukrainian government “to return to the negotiating table.”

“But we will not discuss the decision of the people of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson,” he went on, referring to the four Ukrainian regions being annexed. “It has been made. Russia will not betray it.”

Mr. Putin cast the conflict with the West in even more severe terms than in previous speeches, reeling off centuries of Western military actions to denounce the American-led world order as fundamentally evil, corrupt and set on Russia’s destruction.

“The repression of freedom is taking on the outlines of a ‘reverse religion,’ of real Satanism,” Mr. Putin said, asserting that liberal Western values on matters like gender identity amounted to a “denial of man.”

But Mr. Putin offered few new details on the matter that is now perhaps of greatest concern in Western capitals — whether, and at what point, he may be prepared to use weapons of mass destruction to force Ukraine to capitulate. His spokesman said earlier in the day that after the annexation of the four regions — a move that virtually no other country is expected to recognize — an attack on those regions would be treated as an attack on Russia.

Without saying so directly, Mr. Putin hinted that the role of nuclear weapons in war is on his mind. Describing the West as “deceitful and hypocritical through and through,” Mr. Putin noted that the United States was the only country to have used nuclear weapons in war. He then added: “By the way, they created a precedent.”

Valerie Hopkins and Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

McCarthy Unveils House GOP’s Midterm Agenda In Pennsylvania

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on Friday directly confronted President Joe Biden and the party in power, choosing battleground Pennsylvania to unveil a midterm election agenda with sweeping Trump-like promises despite the House GOP’s sometimes spotty record of delivering and governing in Congress.

McCarthy, who is poised to seize the speaker’s gavel if Republicans win control of the House in the fall, hopes to replicate the strategy former Speaker Newt Gingrich used to spark voter enthusiasm and sweep House control in a 1994 landslide.

The House GOP’s “Commitment to America” gives a nod to that earlier era but updates it for Trump, with economic, border security and social policies to rouse the former president’s deep well of supporters in often-forgotten regions like this rusty landscape outside Pittsburgh.

“What we’re going to roll out today is a ‘Commitment to America’ in Washington — not Washington, D.C., but Washington County, Pennsylvania,” McCarthy said at a manufacturing facility. “Because it’s about you, it’s not about us.”

On Friday, the House Republican leader stood with a cross-section of other lawmakers to roll out the GOP agenda, offering a portrait of party unity despite the uneasy coalition that makes up the House minority — and the Republican Party itself. 

The GOP has shifted from its focus on small government, low taxes and individual freedoms to a more populist, nationalist and, at times, far-right party, essentially still led by Trump, who remains popular despite the deepening state and federal investigations against him.

Propelled by Trump’s “Make America Great Again” voters, the Republicans need to pick up just a few seats to win back control of the narrowly-split House, and replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But even so, McCarthy’s ability to lead the House is far from guaranteed.

While Republicans and Trump did pass tax cuts into law, the GOP’s last big campaign promise, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, collapsed in failure. A long line of Republican speakers, including Gingrich, John Boehner and Paul Ryan, have been forced from office or chose early retirement, often ground down by party infighting.

“House Republicans are really good at running people out of town,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Coalition, or CPAC.

McCarthy, first elected to office in 2006, is among the remaining political survivors of those House Republican battles, and he’s a new style of leader who has shown more ability to communicate than to legislate.

A key architect of the Republican “tea party” takeover in 2010, the California Republican personally recruited the newcomers to Congress — many who had never served in public office and are long gone. McCarthy was an early Trump endorser, and has remained close to the former president, relying on his high-profile endorsements to propel GOP candidates for Congress. He abandoned an earlier bid to become speaker when support from his colleagues drifted.

The “Commitment to America” reflects the strength of McCarthy’s abilities, but also his weaknesses. He spent more than a year pulling together the House GOP’s often warring factions — from the far-right MAGA to what’s left of the more centrist ranks — to produce a mostly agreed upon agenda.

But the one-page “commitment” preamble is succinct, essentially a pocket card, though it is expected to be filled in with the kind of detail that is needed to make laws.

“They talk about a lot of problems,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “They don’t have a lot of solutions.”

In traveling to battleground Pennsylvania, a state where President Biden holds emotional ties from his early childhood, McCarthy intends to counter the president’s fiery Labor Day weekend speech, in which he warned of rising GOP extremism after the Jan 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, with a more upbeat message.

The event is billed as more of a conversation with the GOP leader and lawmakers rather than a stirring address in a uniquely contested state.

Along with as many as five House seats Republicans believe they can pick up in Pennsylvania in November, the state has one of the most watched Senate races, between Democrat John Fetterman and Trump-backed Mehmet Oz, that will help determine control of Congress. Top of the ticket is the seismic governor’s matchup between the GOP’s Doug Mastriano, who was seen outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, and Democrat Josh Shapiro.

“If you are a hardline, populist, and you really want anger, Kevin’s a little frustrating because he’s not going to be angry enough for you,” Gingrich said. “On the other hand, if what you want is to have your values implemented and passed in the legislation, he is a really good leader and organizer.”

Gingrich has been working with McCarthy and his team to craft the style and substance of the proposal. The former speaker, who has been asked by the Jan. 6 committee investigating the Capitol attack for an interview, was on hand Thursday in Washington, joining McCarthy as he unveiled the plans privately to House Republicans, who have been mixed on the approach.

Mostly, the GOP pocket card hits broad strokes — energy independence, security and an end to liberal social policies, particularly in schooling.

Conservative Republicans complain privately that McCarthy isn’t leaning hard enough into their priorities, as he tries to appeal to a broader swath of voters and hold the party together.

Many are eager to launch investigations into the Biden administration and the president’s family, with some calling for impeachment. Legislatively, some House Republicans want to fulfill the party’s commitment to banning abortion, supporting Sen. Lindsey Graham’s bill prohibiting the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

In a sign of the pressures ahead for McCarthy, dozens of House GOP lawmakers signed on to plans from Trump-aligned Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to prevent many gender reassignment procedures for minors, celebrating the Georgian as courageous for taking such a hardline approach.

She and others were invited to join Friday’s event, as McCarthy seeks their backing.

Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, has advocated for withholding federal funds as leverage for policy priorities, the tactic that engineered past government shutdowns.

“Putting out like, you know, principles about, ‘Well, we’ll secure the border.’ I mean, okay, but what are we gonna do about it?” Roy said. “The end of the day, I want specific actionable items that’s going to show that we’re going to fight for the American people.”

It’s notable that McCarthy alone has proposed a plan if Republicans win control of the House chamber. In the Senate, Republican leader Mitch McConnell has declined to put forward an agenda, preferring to simply run against President Biden and Democrats in the midterm election.

“Kevin’s done a very good job of being in position to become the speaker. And then the question is, what do you do with that? Schlapp said. “This helps as a road map.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Pop Quiz: Can You Fall In Love With A Fictional Character?

In this segment of “Pop Quiz,” Newsy’s “In The Loop” dives into whether or not you can fall in love with a fictional character.

In 1955, a woman by the pseudonym of “Miss A” wrote in asking for advice about a crush. 

The response was: “I don’t know what you learned in college, but you are flunking the course of common sense. You have fallen for a piece of celluloid as unreal as a picture on the wall.” 

One year later, that advice column was published again in an academic paper that coined the phrase “parasocial relationship,” which was defined as a “seeming face-to-face relationship between spectator and performer.”  

Parasocial relationships have also been characterized as one-sided and basically imaginary, but they feel real, because as an audience member or a reader, we’re spending a lot of time with them. 

They have since been the focus of around 250 empirical studies over the past seven decades, and most of them analyze audience relationships with real life media figures: like TV personalities, actors, musicians, or, in more recent years, social media influencers. And some studies have looked specifically at fans of celebrities like Justin Bieber or Elvis Presley. Fun fact: there are still more than 600 active fan clubs dedicated to Elvis Presley.  

On a neurological level, we do know that the human brain is pretty good at experiencing imagined stimuli as if they were real. One study found that the auditory cortex in the brain can light up both when hearing a sound and when imagining that sound. 

So, it’s not a huge leap to suggest these fictional or “imagined” parasocial crushes might feel like the real thing. 

Fewer studies have been conducted on parasocial relationships with fictional characters; but the ones that exist have looked at anime characters, sitcoms like “Modern Family,”  readers of the “Twilight” series and, specifically, everyone who had a crush on the fictional vampire Edward Cullen.  

In a survey of around 240 women, 44% said the series had no real influence on them, and that it was all just fantasy. But 31% said the series showed them “the type of true love and strong commitment they would like to have in their own romantic relationship.”

Researchers have described parasocial relationships as identity-forming, allowing “adolescents to crystallize their beliefs, preferences and expectations.” 

Many researchers do note that parasocial relationships can lead to unrealistic expectations for real-life relationships, but others also saw them as “placeholders” for actual relationships that allowed people to romantically experiment.  

Another real-world example of a parasocial relationship is when a man named Akihiko Kondo held an unofficial wedding ceremony to marry the holographic pop star Hatsune Miku. The marriage is not actually legally recognized, but it’s one of many around the world.  

Skeptics can look at this as an example of something keeping him from making real-life relationships. In an interview with the New York Times, Kondo says he’s aware of how strange people think his attraction is. And while he knows that Hatsune Miku isn’t real, his feelings are — and he says he was able to pull himself out of depression and find a sense of love and solace because of it.  

All of that goes to show that parasocial relationships with fictional characters can, and do have real-world impacts. 

Companies have long capitalized on the appeal of parasocial relationships. And video games take this one step further, especially when you look at the entire genre of dating Sims, where players can virtually date fictional characters. 

Dating Sims have made an estimated $570 million across several platforms. “Stardew Valley” is one of the most popular ones, letting players date and marry from a pool of 12 fictional characters. And as of this spring, the game has sold over 20 million copies. 

The fandoms surrounding these games really confirm a lot of the past studies done on parasocial relationships. Players have described them as venues for escapism that provide a sense of autonomy and emotional safety, and that is especially true for queer gamers.  

One person told Huffpost: “I get to live through the experience of not being seen as weird or an outcast for being ‘different’ in my gender identity and sexuality.” 

It seems that our emotional attachments to fiction and pop culture are very real and can even have a purpose from giving us ways to form our emotional identities, providing venues for emotional escapism, as well as a way to explore and feel a real sense of love. 

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

TV Shows And Movies Are Contributing To Youth Sex Education

Sex has always been portrayed in TV, movies and shows, but it’s changed over time to educate people about sex.

In a time when sex education varies between different states and local school districts, TV shows and films are filling in the gaps for some teens and young adults.  

In 2018, a Healthline survey of more than 1,000 Americans found that only 33% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 reported having some form of sex education in school.   

And a 2020 study from the Journal of LGBT Youth found that a majority of gay and lesbian college students “expressed that their formal sex education was lacking and that they sought out or received information from other informal sources to supplement their learning.” 

Those informal resources included internet forums, popular films, music and TV shows.

When it comes to television, teen dramas like the long-running series “Degrassi” has been paving the way.  

Since 1987, when “Degrassi Junior High” first debuted, the franchise about students at a Canadian junior high and high school has highlighted the issues of teen pregnancy, abortion, STDs and sexual assault. In 1992, the U.S. Department of Education even developed a sex education curriculum that used episodes of “Degrassi” as starting points for classroom discussion. 

“Degrassi” now spans five different series across three generations of viewers and represents teens and families of various cultures, as well as varying sexual and gender identities. Its newest iteration is slated to debut on HBO Max in 2023.  

As “Degrassi” served almost like the blueprint for sex education in teen dramas, a series for older viewers, ABC’s “How To Get Away With Murder,” made history with its own advocacy for safe sexual health within the LGBTQ community.  

The series centers on a group of law school students and their professor. And in 2018, it became the first network primetime series to highlight pre-exposure prophylaxis, more commonly known as “PrEP,” a medication that reduces the risk of spreading HIV.  

The series’ discussion of PrEP, as well as the representation of a character living with HIV, was praised by organizations like GLAAD and Greater Than AIDS for the way it educated audiences without stigmatizing the issue.  

“How To Get Away With Murder” ended in 2020, but sex education in TV has continued.  

Today’s teen dramas like Netflix’s new “Heartbreak High” or the critically acclaimed and aptly named “Sex Education” are poking fun at the limitations of real-life sex education in schools, while advocating for honest and informative conversations about sex, consent, body positivity and healthy relationships. 

“Sex Education” tells the story of the son of a sex therapist who gives relationship advice to his peers. Both critics and health experts have praised the show for its informative humor and nuance about the realities of sex. The fourth and final season of the series is expected to be released next year. 

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

World Leaders Meet In New York For U.N. General Assembly

The annual meeting comes after pandemic interruptions, including an entirely virtual meeting in 2020 and a hybrid one last year.

In an alarming assessment, the head of the United Nations warned world leaders Tuesday that nations are “gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction” and aren’t ready or willing to tackle the challenges that threaten humanity’s future — and the planet’s. “Our world is in peril — and paralyzed,” he said.

Speaking at the opening of the General Assembly’s annual high-level meeting, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made sure to emphasize that hope remained. But his remarks reflected a tense and worried world. He cited the war in Ukraine and multiplying conflicts around the world, the climate emergency, the dire financial situation of developing countries and setbacks in U.N. goals for 2030 including an end to extreme poverty and quality education for all children.

He also warned of what he called “a forest of red flags” around new technologies despite promising advances to heal diseases and connect people. Guterres said social media platforms are based on a model “that monetizes outrage, anger and negativity.” Artificial intelligence, he said, “is compromising the integrity of information systems, the media, and indeed democracy itself.”

The world lacks even the beginning of “a global architecture” to deal with the ripples caused by these new technologies because of “geopolitical tensions,” Guterres said.

His opening remarks came as leaders from around the planet reconvened at U.N. headquarters in New York pandemic interruptions including an entirely virtual meeting in 2020 and a hybrid one last year. This week, the halls of the United Nations are filled once more with delegates reflecting the world’s cultures. Many faces were visible, though all delegates are required to wear masks except when speaking to ward off the coronavirus.

Guterres made sure to start out by sounding a note of hope. He showed a video of the first U.N.-chartered ship carrying grain from Ukraine — part of the deal between Ukraine and Russia that the United Nations and Turkey helped broker — to the Horn of Africa, where millions of people are on the edge of famine It is, he said, an example of promise and hope “in a world teeming with turmoil.”

He stressed that cooperation and dialogue are the only path forward — two fundamental U.N. principles since its founding after World War II. And he warned that “no power or group alone can call the shots.”

“Let’s work as one, as a coalition of the world, as united nations,” he urged leaders gathered in the vast General Assembly hall.

It’s rarely that easy. Geopolitical divisions are undermining the work of the U.N. Security Council, international law, people’s trust in democratic institutions and most forms of international cooperation, Guterres said.

“The divergence between developed and developing countries, between North and South, between the privileged and the rest, is becoming more dangerous by the day,” the secretary-general said. “It is at the root of the geopolitical tensions and lack of trust that poison every area of global cooperation, from vaccines to sanctions to trade.

Before the global meeting was gaveled open, leaders and ministers wearing masks to avoid a COVID-19 super-spreader event wandered the assembly hall, chatting individually and in groups. It was a sign that despite the fragmented state of the planet, the United Nations remains the key gathering place for presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and ministers.

Nearly 150 heads of state and government are on the latest speakers’ list, a high number reflecting that the United Nations remains the only place not just to deliver their views but to meet privately to discuss the challenges on the global agenda — and hopefully make some progress.

The 77th General Assembly meeting of world leaders convenes under the shadow of Europe’s first major war since World War II — the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has unleashed a global food crisis and opened fissures among major powers in a way not seen since the Cold War.

At the top of that agenda for many: Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, which not only threatens the sovereignty of its smaller neighbor but has raised fears of a nuclear catastrophe at Europe’s largest nuclear plant in the country’s now Russia-occupied southeast.

Leaders in many countries are trying to prevent a wider war and restore peace in Europe. Diplomats, though, aren’t expecting any breakthroughs this week.

The loss of important grain and fertilizer exports from Ukraine and Russia has triggered a food crisis, especially in developing countries, and inflation and a rising cost of living in many others. Those issues are high on the agenda.

At a meeting Monday to promote U.N. goals for 2030 — including ending extreme poverty, ensuring quality education for all children and achieving gender equality — Guterres said the world’s many pressing perils make it “tempting to put our long-term development priorities to one side.”

But the U.N. chief said some things can’t wait — among them education, dignified jobs, full equality for women and girls, comprehensive health care and action to tackle the climate crisis. He called for public and private finance and investment, and above all for peace.

The death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her funeral in London on Monday, which many world leaders attended, have created last-minute headaches for the high-level meeting. Diplomats and U.N. staff have scrambled to deal with changes in travel plans, the timing of events and the logistically intricate speaking schedule for world leaders.

The global gathering, known as the General Debate, was entirely virtual in 2020 because of the pandemic, and hybrid in 2021. This year, the 193-member General Assembly returns to only in-person speeches, with a single exception — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Over objections from Russia and a few allies, the assembly voted last Friday to allow the Ukrainian leader to prerecord his speech because of reasons beyond his control — the “ongoing foreign invasion” and military hostilities that require him to carry out his “national defense and security duties.”

The U.S. president, representing the host country for the United Nations, is traditionally the second speaker. But President Joe Biden is attending the queen’s funeral, and his speech has been pushed to Wednesday morning.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Package Explodes On Boston Campus; 1 Injured, FBI Involved

By Associated Press
September 14, 2022

The package exploded as it was being opened near Northeastern University’s Holmes Hall.

A package exploded on the campus of Northeastern University in Boston late Tuesday, and the college said a staff member suffered minor injuries.

Authorities said another suspicious package was found near a prominent art museum and the FBI was assisting with the investigation.

The parcel that blew up was one of two that were reported to police early in the evening. Boston’s bomb squad neutralized a second package near the city’s Museum of Fine Arts, which is on the outskirts of the Northeastern campus.

NBC Boston reported that the package that exploded went off as it was being opened near the university’s Holmes Hall, which is home to the university’s creative writing program and its women’s, gender and sexuality studies program. It said the FBI was assisting the investigation.

Authorities declined to elaborate, but Northeastern spokesperson Shannon Nargi said in a statement that an unidentified university staff member suffered minor injuries to his hand in the explosion. Felipe Colon, a Boston police superintendent, later described the victim as a 45-year-old man.

Police converged on the campus shortly before 7:30 p.m., and the university asked students who had gathered for an evening journalism class at the hall to evacuate the building.

Northeastern is a private university in downtown Boston with about 16,000 undergraduate students. WCVB-TV said one of its reporters, Mike Beaudet, was teaching a class there at the time. Beaudet told the station his class was moved outside but that neither he nor his students heard an explosion.

Michael Davis, chief of Northeastern’s police force, told reporters the campus was secure. Boston police didn’t say whether any other suspicious packages were found.

“We’re monitoring the situation at Northeastern and we’re ready to work with the university and our law enforcement partners on any prosecutions that may develop,” Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden said, promising “a comprehensive investigation to determine exactly what occurred here.”

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both on the other side of the Charles River separating Boston from Cambridge, said they were increasing patrols on their campuses as a precaution and urging students and faculty to report anything suspicious.

Tuesday’s explosion marked one of the first big scares in Boston since 2013, when two bombs planted near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three spectators and wounded more than 260 others.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

LGBTQ+ Individuals Face Heightened Safety Risks In Prison

LGBTQ+ inmates often face bias, discrimination and unsafe circumstances in prison.

Dee Farmer served time at a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, for credit card fraud. She was housed in a male facility even though she identified as a trans woman. Based on prison policy, she was placed with her gender assigned at birth. Within two weeks of her arrival, she says she was beaten and raped by her cellmate. 

“I stayed in prison for 17 years. And while there, you know, I suffered all the types of abuses,” she said. “When I was raped, the guard was sitting down in his office and there were maybe 200 inmates in the unit I was in, in Terre Haute. There’s only one guard, generally, to every housing unit. So, to believe that the officers can protect you is just a myth.”

A lawsuit by Farmer against the prison system reached the Supreme Court. 

The justices ruled in her favor, saying that prison officials may be liable for harm if they know of safety risks and disregard them. That case was in 1994. 

Today, LGBTQ+ inmates still face bias, discrimination and unsafe circumstances in prison. 

Jane Hereth is an assistant professor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee whose recent report documented the overrepresentation of LGBTQ+ people in the criminal justice system and the pipeline that funnels many of them there.

“Bias and discrimination across the board by police, by judges, by attorneys,” she said. “Things like family rejection, poverty, homelessness, bullying in schools — were all part of their story leading to the criminal legal system.”

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, LGBTQ+ individuals were twice as likely to be arrested compared to their straight counterparts.   

“When we talk about incarceration, probation, the justice system in general, there’s a high representation of LGBTQ Black and brown folks,” Black and Pink Social Worker and Deputy Director Andrew Aleman said.

Once behind bars, trans individuals are at a heightened risk, especially trans women of color. 

“We know that most trans women who are who are taken into custody are housed in a men’s facility, despite knowing the risk and the high rates of sexual assault and violence that happen to trans women in men facilities,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Richard Saenz said.

Shows like “Orange Is the New Black” introduced many in the public to life in prison for LGBTQ+ people. 

“‘Orange Is the New Black’ and some other shows that have come out since then have really humanized people who are in custody,” Saenz continued. “One of the things that I remember seeing is that a trans woman was approached, you know, maybe by four or five inmates at once, sort of like jokingly harassing her sexually. And so that is something that you generally see within the prison system on a daily basis.”

Farmer says harassment takes a mental toll.  

“They suffer a number of times, many of them, even if they’re not raped, they are constantly sexually harassed and pressured into sexual relationships,” Farmer said. “And many of them have to do it for their safety.”

Farmer says there’s still a revolving door of LGBTQ+ people who go through solitary confinement for  protection but then return to the general prison population because confinement was depressing.  

“I was placed in the segregation unit and I was there for over a year. And while I was there, there were maybe eight or nine, not necessarily transgender, but gay and transgender — I would just say gender-nonconforming inmates — that were just back and forth into the segregation unit,” Farmer said.

Organizations like Black and Pink are advocates for LGBTQ+ in the criminal justice systems. Their programs connect gay inmates to support networks outside prison.  

“My ask would be that we don’t forget our roots, and we don’t forget that there are thousands of LGBTQ people in prisons and jails right now. And these are our loved ones,” Saenz said. 

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Abortion Driving More Women To Vote In Midterm Elections

Without any federal protection for reproductive rights, it’s votes for state and local officials that can have the biggest impact.

The topic of reproductive rights will be a defining issue in the 2022 midterms.  

A recent analysis from the Democratic-leaning TargetSmart found women have been registering to vote at a higher rate than men since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. 

“I’ve never seen anything quite as dramatic as the gender gaps we’re seeing in this voter registration,” said Tom Bonier, the CEO of TargetSmart. 

The increase was first noticed after the Kansas primary. Bonier said the difference is easiest to spot in states where abortion access is most at risk.   

“You’ve got these competitive states, like Wisconsin, like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, that have a lot of very important statewide and down-ballot elections this year. And where choice is very much either literally on the ballot or potentially on the ballot,” Bonier said.  

It’s not unusual for women to vote at higher numbers than men. But this surge is happening at a time when experts wouldn’t usually expect it.  

“If those voters, those women voters get energized, get highly motivated, see that they really have a stake in the outcome of an election, their potential to be a force in elections goes up exponentially,” said Debbie Walsh, the director for the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. 

In recent polls, more Americans have said abortion is an issue that will impact their vote.  

An August Wall Street Journal poll found registered voters said abortion was the second-most important issue, ranking only behind the economy. 

“It’s one thing when a right is denied. It’s another thing when a right is taken away. And I think you can’t overstate the impact of losing something that you thought you had, and the implications of that for the future,” said Walsh. 

This year’s primaries have shown that reproductive rights can bring voters to the polls. 

In the Kansas primary, where a state constitutional amendment on abortion was on the ballot, voter turnout was 48% — about double the typical primary turnout in Kansas.

“Particularly after the Kansas vote, Democratic and pro-choice candidates are seeing that this can be a motivator. This can increase turnout. This can energize voters to show up,” said Walsh.  

And without any current federal protection for reproductive rights, it’s votes for state and local officials that can have the biggest impact on a woman’s access to abortion.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

U.K. Leader Liz Truss Vows Energy Relief, Rules Out Windfall Tax

By Associated Press
September 7, 2022

Truss rebuffed opposition calls for a new windfall tax, but refrained from explaining how she’d fund a plan meant to help the public pay energy bills.

Newly installed U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss told Parliament on Wednesday that she would tackle Britain’s “very serious” energy crisis while still slashing taxes, ruling out imposing a windfall levy on oil companies to pay for her plans to offset the soaring cost of heating and electricity.

Truss rebuffed opposition calls for a new windfall tax, even as she refrained from explaining how she would fund a plan meant to help the public pay energy bills skyrocketing because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the economic aftershocks of COVID-19 and Brexit.

She said during her first session of prime minister’s questions that she would set out a plan on Thursday to help with the immediate prices crisis so that people “are able to get through this winter,” as well as measures to bolster Britain’s long-term energy security.

But she added: “I am against a windfall tax. I believe it is the wrong thing to be putting companies off investing in the United Kingdom just when we need to be growing the economy.

“This country will not be able to tax its way to growth,” she said, to thunderous cheers from Conservative lawmakers in a packed House of Commons.

Truss’s spokesman said she wouldn’t cancel a windfall tax imposed in May by former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, her defeated Conservative leadership rival, but wouldn’t bring in a new one. She is also scrapping a previously announced increase in corporation tax from 19% to 25%.

Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said that amounted to handing billions to energy firms that have pocketed hefty profits because of high energy prices. Instead, the cost of price relief will have to be paid by British taxpayers, he said, branding Truss’s economic plans a “Tory fantasy.”

British news media have reported that Truss plans to cap energy bills. The cost to taxpayers of that step could reach 100 billion pounds ($116 billion).

“The prime minister knows she has now choice but to back an energy price freeze, but it won’t be cheap and the real choice, the political choice is who is going to pay,” Starmer said. “Is she really telling us that she is going to leave (energy companies’) vast excess profits on the table and make working people foot the bill for decades to come?”

In her energy plan Truss also is likely to greenlight more oil and gas exploration in the North Sea and could lift a ban on fracking — both ideas that have been condemned by environmentalists.

Earlier Wednesday, Truss led the first meeting for her new Cabinet — a government diverse in race and gender and united in its support for the new leader’s staunchly free-market views.

Truss, 47, was appointed prime minister by Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday after winning an internal Conservative Party election to lead the Tories. The former foreign secretary is Britain’s third female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. All three have been Conservatives.

She immediately put her stamp on the government, clearing out many ministers from the administration of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson — notably those who had backed Sunak in the Conservative leadership contest.

She made Kwasi Kwarteng her Treasury chief, a key role for a Cabinet whose inbox is dominated by the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which threatens to push energy bills to unaffordable levels, shuttering businesses and leaving the nation’s poorest people shivering at home this winter. Kwarteng is the first Black holder of the job whose formal title is Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Truss ally Therese Coffey becomes Britain’s first female deputy prime minister and also leads the health ministry as the state-funded National Health Service grapples with soaring demand and depleted resources in the wake of COVID-19.

For the first time, none of the U.K.’s “great offices of state” – prime minister, chancellor, foreign secretary and home secretary – is held by a white man. James Cleverly, whose mother is from Sierra Leone, is foreign secretary and Suella Braverman, who has Indian heritage, has been named home secretary, responsible for immigration and law and order.

In her first speech as prime minister on Tuesday, Truss said she would cut taxes to spur economic growth, bolster the NHS and “deal hands on” with the energy crisis.

“We shouldn’t be daunted by the challenges we face,” Truss said in her speech. “As strong as the storm may be, I know the British people are stronger.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<