Confusion roiled Michigan for days as abortion rights changed hour to hour

NPR - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 09:12
Protestors for and against legal abortions gathered at The University of Michigan on May 14, 2022.

In a span of 3 days this week, court rulings seesawed between outlawing abortions and permitting them. A judge allowed them to continue Wednesday for at least 21 days.

(Image credit: Jodi Westrick/Michigan Radio)

Categories: World News

Desperate Yemeni families are watching their children die

CNN World News - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 09:05
Yemen's warring parties have renewed a two-month-long truce, first signed in April this year. It was one of the first concrete steps taken towards peace in years and a genuine moment for celebration. But for thousands of families, time is running out.
Categories: World News

London's River Thames has shrunk as extreme heat and looming drought dries up its headwaters

CNN World News - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 08:47
The starting point of England's famous River Thames has dried up and moved downstream, following weeks of little rainfall and a heat wave in July that smashed the UK's all-time temperature record.
Categories: World News

Obituary: Gary Schroen, the CIA spy sent to get Osama bin Laden

BBC World News - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 08:45
Gary Schroen, one of the first Americans on the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11, has died aged 80.
Categories: World News

China Cuts Off Climate Ties With US in Retaliation for Pelosi’s Trip to Taiwan

TruthOut - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 08:40

The Chinese government on Friday escalated its retaliatory response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan earlier this week by suspending diplomatic ties on a number of key fronts, including the climate crisis, and canceling military coordination agreements with the United States.

According to the Associated Press:

The measures, which come amid cratering relations between Beijing and Washington, are the latest in a promised series of steps intended to punish the U.S. for allowing the visit to the island it claims as its own territory, to be annexed by force if necessary. China on Thursday launched threatening military exercises in six zones just off Taiwan’s coasts that it says will run through Sunday.

Missiles have also been fired over Taiwan, defense officials told state media. China routinely opposes the self-governing island having its own contacts with foreign governments, but its response to the Pelosi visit has been unusually vociferous.

In addition to the suspension or cancellation of the high-level diplomatic channels, China’s Foreign Ministry also announced unspecified sanctions against Pelosi and her immediate family as punishment for the “egregious provocation” which Chinese officials had adamantly warned against.

“In disregard of China’s grave concerns and firm opposition, Pelosi insisted on visiting China’s Taiwan region,” the ministry said in a statement. “This constitutes a gross interference in China’s internal affairs.”

Pelosi’s meddling, the statement continued, “gravely undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, seriously tramples on the one-China principle, and severely threatens peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

As Common Dreams reported, anti-war voices and regional experts had repeatedly urged Pelosi to reconsider the visit during her travels in Asia, warning that a stop in Taipei could further erode an already strained relationship with Beijing.

“A trip to Taiwan by the most powerful member of Congress undermines […] longstanding U.S. policy and increases the risk of another war,” said Marcy Winograd and Jim Carpenter, co-chairs of the foreign policy team for Progressive Democrats of America, in a statement ahead of Pelosi’s trip.

Following news of China’s actions on Friday, Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war group CodePink, offered exasperated sarcasm over the latest development.

“Way to go, ⁦Speaker Pelosi,” lamented Benjamin. “Your visit to Taiwan really helped global cooperation on critical issues like the environment. Not.”

Categories: World News

France drought: Parched towns left short of drinking water

BBC World News - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 08:34
Trucks are supplying many parched French towns with drinking water after an exceptionally dry July.
Categories: World News

Outraged Uvalde Residents Rise Up Against Local Fundraiser for NRA

TruthOut - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 07:49

A fundraising event planned by charity for National Rifle Association (NRA) in Hondo Texas, some 40 miles away from the Robb Elementary School shooting, was canceled after relatives of the victims demanded that the Hondo City Council nix the fundraiser.

The Hondo City Council voted 4-to-1 on Monday to deny Friends of the NRA, the foundation that planned the fundraiser, a space for the event in the city’s Medina Fair Hall after relatives protested the affair.

“It is a slap in the face to all of Uvalde, especially the ones that lost a loved one, some of us being here today. What’s an even harder slap in the face is the AR-15 you get if you donate $5,000 to the NRA,” Jazmin Cazares, whose sister died in the Uvalde massacre, told CNN. “What you guys decide to do next with this NRA meeting either proves me right or proves me wrong about how I feel about Hondo.”

“Us as parents deserve better than this. I mean, you can’t sit here and try to sell a rifle strikingly similar to the one that killed our children, you know, less than 60 days after they passed away,” Angel Garza, the stepfather of a child who was killed in the massacre, echoed to a CBS affiliate.

The event would have taken place just months after an 18-year-old shooter in Uvalde, Texas stormed the Robb Elementary School with a semiautomatic assault rifle, gunning down nineteen students and two teachers.

Uvalde family members of victims spoke up at a neighboring town’s city council meeting about a local NRA fundraiser that would be raffling off an AR-15….they were met with snickering and jeers

*The NRA is a terrorist organization pic.twitter.com/h8V2fVU5eA

— Wu-Tang Is For The Children (@WUTangKids) August 3, 2022

Just days after the shooting, numerous gun reform advocates called on the NRA to cancel its convention in Houston. However, the group refused to do so, allowing thousands of attendees, along with numerous conservative lawmakers, to sell pro-gun paraphernalia and parrot talking points about the importance of preserving the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.

This week, planners of the event stressed that the fundraiser is not technically affiliated with the NRA and that it had been months in the making.

“These events are planned months in advance with the goal of raising funds for local programs that promote safe and responsible gun ownership,” Lars Dalseide, a spokesperson for the NRA, told CNN. “Penalizing hundreds of volunteers and participants at the 11th hour for the crimes of a sick, evil criminal is misguided and wrong.”

The fundraiser has taken place consistently over the past fifteen years. Event planners were expected to conduct a gun raffle.

Categories: World News

How many animal species have caught COVID? First global tracker has (partial) answers

NPR - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 07:45
A screenshot of a map showing case counts of COVID-19 reported in different animal species, part of an interactive COVID data tracking dashboard rendered by Complexity Science Hub Vienna. The drawings represent the type of animal, including both domestic and wild; the size of the bubbles reflects the number of cases in each locale.

Just as human counts are incomplete, so are animal counts. But the first worldwide compilation of animal cases is a start at understanding the extent of human-to-animal transmission, scientists say.

(Image credit: Complexity Science Hub Vienna/Screenshot by NPR)

Categories: World News

Israel attacks Gaza targets after militant threat

BBC World News - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 07:27
The operation comes after Israel's defence minister warned Gaza's militant leaders "your time is up".
Categories: World News

Taiwan tensions: China halts co-operation with US on key issues

BBC World News - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 07:26
Beijing has reacted angrily after senior US Democrat Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan earlier this week.
Categories: World News

17 States and DC Have Stopped Reporting Active COVID Cases Behind Bars

TruthOut - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 07:02

On July 5, Rita Deanda tested positive for COVID while incarcerated at the California Institution for Women. She was immediately ordered to pack her belongings and moved to a quarantine unit, which she referred to as “COVID jail.” That was where she spent the next 11 days.

The 57-year-old doesn’t know how she got COVID; she was taking precautions, such as wearing her mask and doing her best to socially distance from others. On the day she was tested, Deanda recalled that she felt great.

But the week before, she told Truthout, “I had a migraine from hell and thought my head was going to explode.” She also had a sore throat, which she attributed to lying in front of the fan all night. She lost her appetite. She suffered from chills and what she thought were menopausal hot flashes, but now, looking back, she suspects she had a COVID-related fever.

California remains one of the few state prison systems that continues to regularly test its incarcerated population. Otherwise, Deanda might never have known that she had COVID.

Deanda was approximately one of 96 new cases that the California Institution for Women reported in early July. One week later, the prison had 169 active cases among incarcerated people; across the state, California prisons had found over 1,000 new cases.

Across the United States, COVID rates have been ballooning as people, weary of the ongoing pandemic, have been shedding masks and other precautions. Behind bars, incarcerated people have also been experiencing pandemic fatigue or, as a woman incarcerated in Pennsylvania calls it, “pandemic hangover.” (As of July 28, Pennsylvania state prisons had 39 active cases. Throughout the course of the pandemic, they reported 16,000 cases and 166 deaths.)

“There was a moment when the closed box of carceral data was partially open,” Bennett Stein, project director of the UCLA Law COVID Behind Bars Data Project, told Truthout. “That small opening should be the floor, not the ceiling of data transparency.”

However, as cases rise, transparency is declining: Prison systems have been rapidly reducing their testing and reporting.

Stein noted that 17 states as well as Washington, D.C., have stopped reporting active COVID cases behind bars. Ten of these systems no longer report any data at all on COVID behind bars. Other prison systems continue to report active cases, but do not report testing numbers, making it impossible to ascertain if the low numbers reflect low transmission rates or the administration of fewer tests. Various state departments of correction did not respond to Truthout’s queries about COVID and testing.

The current lack of reporting not only affects those behind bars, but also people in outside communities. The Prison Policy Initiative estimated that, in the summer of 2020 alone, prisons and jails contributed to more than half a million cases, or roughly 13 percent of COVID cases nationwide.

17 states as well as Washington, D.C., have stopped reporting active COVID cases behind bars. Ten of these systems no longer report any data at all on COVID behind bars.

“We know that people are still getting quite sick. We know that people are still dying from COVID in the community and in prisons,” said Stein. “When there are outbreaks or high risks of outbreaks, it’s still important that the government, prison officials, judges, district attorneys, and policy makers are considering interventions to keep people safe and save lives.”

“Going Back to the Black Box of Just Not Knowing”

Oklahoma has a statewide daily average of 1,482 new COVID cases. But as of August 2, its state prison system reported only eight new cases — all in the same men’s prison.

That’s a lie, charged Mary Fish, who is currently incarcerated at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center, the state’s largest women’s prison. She told Truthout that, in late June, two housing units were quarantined for two weeks after an incarcerated woman tested positive during sick call. “Bam — locked [in] for about 14 days!” she said. “That was 120 women.” Shortly after, according to Fish, 10 women in a third housing unit tested positive, resulting in that unit being quarantined. But these weren’t reflected on the department’s website. “That [Department of Corrections] website needs serious updating,” she concluded.

“The pandemic created this opening where the public expected to know what was happening behind bars in terms of how many active cases there were, whether people were dying,” said Stein. “We saw that [prisons and jails had] the capacity to collect and publish this data.”

That information allowed policy makers to intervene — demanding more oversight and creating protocols for masking, testing and release.

Two and a half years later, however, Bennett says that he and other researchers are seeing “a rapid regression to the closed off posturing of prison systems. Instead of building off this new capacity to share with the public what’s happening and allow this information to drive policy, instead, we’re going back to this black box of just not knowing.”

Then there’s the question of how much the official numbers — if there are numbers at all — reflect reality. The Bureau of Prisons, which operates federal prisons, says that it tests people who are symptomatic, those who were in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID, and upon entry and release from custody. This testing policy applies to all of its prisons although medical staff may test entire housing units in prisons with high transmission rates.

But in at least one federal prison, people avoid testing to prevent being put in solitary confinement. While the Bureau of Prisons site lists fewer than one dozen active COVID cases in that particular prison, “Alice” told Truthout, “We do have a new wave of BA.5 COVID racing through, though, and everyone is ill. I’ve had it for the last four days and it’s a bad one — I was basically unable to get out of bed.” (Alice asked that neither she nor the prison be publicly identified for fear of retaliation.)

But, Alice said, “because they send you to the SHU [Special Housing Unit] if you test positive, no one is going to health services.” The SHU is the prison’s solitary confinement unit where people are locked in their cells nearly 24 hours each day. Unlike quarantine — where a person can still telephone their loved ones, listen to the radio, watch television or read a book — the SHU is an extreme form of isolation, typically used for punishment for breaking prison rules. People are not allowed their belongings and are largely cut off from human contact.

While outside of prison, people at risk of severe COVID can access antiviral medications, most incarcerated people cannot.

“Basically [you] sit around in your room for 10-14 days of quarantine in solitary confinement without anything to do or any of your things, feeling poorly without [over-the-counter medication] or even half-way edible food, and are completely immobilized,” Alice explained. “It’s the same treatment you would receive if you are punished for an infraction. It’s quite miserable and nonsensical.”

In another unit in the prison where Alice is incarcerated, a woman became sick and did not report to her prison job. Her absence triggered testing in that housing unit. Those who tested positive were sent to the SHU, according to Alice; others remained quarantined on the unit.

While outside of prison, people at risk of severe COVID can access Paxlovid and other antiviral medications, most incarcerated people cannot. The Bureau of Prisons told Truthout that Paxlovid and other therapeutics approved for COVID-19 are provided to those who meet FDA criteria. But inside prison, Alice does not know anyone who has gotten these treatments. Instead, Alice said, “We all treat ourselves with tea and honey, Vicks, Tylenol and ibuprofen.”

Even though many of the women around Alice are feverish and coughing, they prefer to pretend that nothing is amiss rather than risk being locked indefinitely in their cells under brutal conditions.

Masking

At the start of the pandemic, jails and prisons began requiring that all people — both staff and incarcerated people — wear masks. While the new policy was not always followed or enforced, many prisons and jails are now dropping even this basic precaution.

In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that counties could lift mask requirements if new cases and COVID hospitalizations are low. Three days after the announcement, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf lifted masking requirements for state employees; the state’s Department of Corrections followed suit. When it resumed in-person visits, it recommended, but did not require, masking.

When vaccinations became available, the Pennsylvania prison system offered incentives — $25 for an initial vaccination and another $25 for a booster. The money, which came from commissary (or the prison’s sole store) purchases, was deposited into the incarcerated person’s commissary account. Now, nearly 86 percent of the state’s prison population is fully vaccinated, with another 1.7 percent partially vaccinated.

Pennsylvania prisons also created separate housing units for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. At the start of April 2022, however, prison officials eliminated the distinction. It also allowed unvaccinated incarcerated people to return to work assignments, programs, education and religious services, all of which had previously required vaccination.

Still, social distancing remains nearly impossible behind bars. “I’d love to stay six feet apart from most people but alas, most people don’t recognize personal space,” said Annie, who is incarcerated at SCI Muncy, the larger of the state’s two women’s prisons. (Annie asked that her full name not be used to protect her family’s privacy.)

“No one, but no one, wants to wear a mask,” said Fish in Oklahoma. “Even the officers were lax going into Pod 5 [under quarantine] with masks and PPE gear.”

Social distancing remains nearly impossible behind bars.

Geneva Phillips, incarcerated at Oklahoma’s other women’s prison, told Truthout that even while sleeping, women cannot socially distance. “The beds are just barely over three feet apart. I can almost touch my neighbor’s bed with my arm outstretched,” she wrote. Furthermore, she explained, the bunks are separated by a piece of particle board that does not reach the ceiling, “so any cough, sneeze [or] cloud just wafts right on over!”

Alice told Truthout that the federal prison she is in has “plenty of mingling that keeps the virus circulating. After all, we all eat together in the same dining hall.” Meanwhile, she says, “people cough and sneeze and do not wear masks at all, or only the flimsy cotton masks we are given that do nothing to prevent the spread.”

Women sleep in bunk beds less than six feet apart in dormitories which share air vents.

“It’s no wonder everyone got it — we breathe the same air in close proximity, 24/7,” Alice said.

Not everyone has shed their mask. In Oklahoma, which averages more than 1,400 new cases each day, Fish still wears hers, although she says that few others do.

Others have told Truthout that they find it hard to continue masking in poorly ventilated prisons as temperatures soar. Some also have noted that even when they attempt to mask and practice physical distancing, prison makes these preventive practices nearly impossible and many have still contracted COVID.

This includes Ardelle, now in her late 80s and incarcerated at Shakopee, Minnesota’s sole women’s prison. Although she is fully vaccinated and doubly boosted, and never leaves her cell without her mask, Ardelle has twice tested positive for COVID — most recently in May 2021. Like Deanda, she was asymptomatic and, had she not been tested, would not have known she had COVID. “We never seem to get through [testing] without a few positives,” she said.

Both times Ardelle was quarantined for 10 days. In June, another woman in her housing unit tested positive and the entire unit was placed on a seven-day quarantine, during which they were confined to their cells for 23 hours each day.

Now, Ardelle told Truthout, “[I’m] afraid to toss my mask yet, though we are on green level now.” Green means that people do not need to wear masks. (Ardelle asked to be identified only by her first name to protect her family’s privacy.)

In California, after the recent outbreak, Deanda reports that masking requirements have changed. Previously, she said, women were allowed to remove their masks while they were outside. Now, both staff and incarcerated people are required to wear masks at all times, but not everyone does.

Deanda had been wearing surgical masks whenever she left her cell. But, she says, after her bout of COVID and quarantine, “From now on, I’m going to wear the KN95 or N95.”

While the California Institution for Women now issues KN95 and N95 masks, other systems continue to issue thin cloth masks or standard surgical masks, both of which are less effective against the new variants.

Warehoused and Wasted Years

Even as prisons fail to adequately test, report data and provide treatment, they continue to limit activities that are a lifeline for those behind bars.

“My whole anxiety with COVID is more about what they’ll do to respond to it than about the virus or infection.”

“The restricted COVID schedule persists … severely limit[ing] time outside, educational and other programming (such as trauma classes, counseling, drug education, etc.), and basically keeps everyone contained in their unit and very bored. For so many people, that’s been the way here for the last 2.5 years,” Alice said. “These are essentially wasted years.”

She also noted that the lack of programming has prevented people from accruing credits under the First Step Act that would reduce their sentences: “Because the time in classes is so restricted and limited and often canceled, it basically is impossible to complete any programming in any kind of reasonable time frame.”

In addition, staffing shortages have hit the Bureau of Prisons (as well as other prison systems). These shortages have led to frequent lockdowns in the federal prison where Alice is confined. “The result is basically warehousing women and then releasing them without any kind of adequate preparation to face life on the outside,” she said. “It’s … a colossal waste — of resources, money, talent, brains, humanity, dignity — all of it.”

The same holds true for those in many state prisons. “They took a lot away for COVID,” said Annie in Pennsylvania.

Now, the prison has started to return to what passes for normalcy — allowing hugs and food from vending machines during visits and resuming programs.

“It would take a huge mental toll to lose what we have gotten back. I’d rather get sick again than be locked down,” continued Annie, who contracted COVID twice — both times when the prison was locked down. “My whole anxiety with COVID is more about what they’ll do to respond to it than about the virus or infection. I have no confidence that anything I do will protect myself. There are too many points of contact and too few effective PPE options.”

Categories: World News

Ron DeSantis and the Florida GOP Are Targeting Trans Youth for Political Gain

TruthOut - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 06:45

“I’d never consider myself an activist in that sense,” says Dr. Michael Haller, a medical school professor and head of paediatric endocrinology at the University of Florida. “But I’m sure as hell going to stand up for my patients.”

Although his primary specialisation is type 1 diabetes, Haller has treated transgender children, and oversees other paediatric endocrinologists who specialise in their care. And those patients’ well-being is currently at risk, given how prominent Florida Republicans, especially Governor Ron DeSantis, are targeting trans rights. The result is that experts of conscience, such as Haller, have become vocal opponents of the politicisation of patient care for authoritarian ends.

Trans people are now the primary target for political persecution in the Sunshine State (and many other Republican-controlled states), just as November’s midterm elections loom. This is a development that Haller views with concern. He describes DeSantis as “willing to use whatever tools he needs to maintain power, even if it means trying to utilise policies that are not in the best interests of people he represents”.

DeSantis is widely viewed as a leading contender for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential candidate, should that candidate be anyone other than Donald Trump.

For Floridians and other Americans concerned about the rights and welfare of marginalised people, that’s a worrying prospect.

Attacks on Trans Minors

Last September, DeSantis appointed Joseph Ladapo Florida’s surgeon general – the operational head of the state’s department of health. Ladapo has also been given a professorship at the University of Florida in what Haller, who has expressed concern over Ladapo’s lack of public health experience, describes as “a political process well outside the norms” of typical university hiring.

Ladapo has proved willing to use his office to pursue DeSantis’s anti-trans agenda, adopting the arguments of fringe groups and what Haller calls “cherry-picked” data to provide a fig leaf of cover to push for a sharp departure from both the US and international medical consensus regarding best practices for the treatment of transgender minors.

In April, Ladapo sent a memo to the state’s medical professionals claiming a “lack of conclusive evidence” for the benefits of gender-affirming care and advising that “social gender transition should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents.” It also read in part, “Anyone under 18 should not be prescribed puberty blockers or hormone therapy.”

In response, the Florida branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) put out a statement saying: “This non-binding guidance is in direct opposition to advice from every major medical organisation in the country.” The statement added that “the Florida Department of Health is attempting to demonise life-saving, critical, medically necessary healthcare for transgender youth. It is simply despicable and wrong.”

According to The Washington Post, Jack Turban, chief fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, called Ladapo’s memo a “shocking” example of misinformation, observing, “There are false statements on nearly every line of this document.”

Brandon Wolf, press secretary for LGBTQI advocacy organisation Equality Florida, said Ladapo’s policy proposal is one of the most extreme in the country. “The surgeon general is asserting that the state government should dictate what haircuts and clothes kids receive.”

Haller says the memo has already had a chilling effect, with some Florida doctors halting their treatment of trans minors.

Ladapo’s guidelines for the ‘care’ of trans minors remain non-binding for now, but physicians, parents of trans kids and LGBTQI activists and advocates are concerned that this may change following a meeting of the Florida Board of Medicine, which oversees the licensing of medical practitioners in the state, set to take place in Fort Lauderdale today.

Transgender Floridians and their allies have been sounding the alarm about the session, calling it an attempt at a “backdoor” ban on gender-affirming care in Florida. Should this prove to be the case, DeSantis will have pulled off an end run around the state legislature similar to how Texas Governor Greg Abbott exploited his power over the state bureaucracy to redefine supportive parenting of trans children as “child abuse”.

The meeting’s agenda includes a “discussion” of a 2 June letter from the state surgeon general to the board regarding gender dysphoria in children and adolescents. The Florida Department of Health has also petitioned the board to ban gender-affirming care for anyone under the age of 18, and to discourage adults considering medical transition.

This isn’t the first time DeSantis has abused state bureaucracy in pursuit of far-Right social policy goals. For example, the agency that administers Medicaid in Florida – taking its cues from the governor and the surgeon general – has already moved to ban coverage of gender-affirming care, not just for trans minors, but for all trans patients.

While this would mainly affect poorer Floridians (Medicaid is government-provided health insurance for low-income Americans), private insurers in the state might decide to follow suit and drop their coverage of gender-affirming care.

Haller spoke at a public meeting in Tallahassee on 8 July, where the state pushed its plan to defund gender-affirming care. Calling the government’s move “well organised”, Haller described the meeting as “a political showpiece”, noting that it featured far more speakers who favoured the government’s plan, including many “faux-experts”, than those who opposed it.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune called the meeting “raucous and rowdy”. The sessions on gender-affirming care at the upcoming board of medicine meeting may well be the same.

And it’s not just trans healthcare that’s under attack in Florida.

Ron DeSantis: Worse Than Trump

Last week, the state commissioner of education, Manny Diaz Jr., issued a memo to education professionals to reject the Biden administration’s recently issued guidelines on non-discrimination for transgender students.

The memo states that the department of education “will not stand idly by as federal agencies attempt to impose a sexual ideology on Florida schools that risk the health, safety, and welfare of Florida students”.

Of course, there is nothing inherently ‘sexual’ about being transgender, and there is no evidence of any inherent ‘risk’ in allowing trans students to access the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

Haller describes DeSantis as “unfortunately, quite clever” at deftly manoeuvring within state politics and the bureaucracy he oversees, identifying means to persecute scapegoated communities in order to “stir a base that is scared of anything perceived as ‘other’”.

Jaime Jara, a high-school teacher of American history and mother of three children, one of whom is a ten-year-old transgender girl, agrees. “I thought Trump was bad,” she says. “But for me, DeSantis is even worse, because he’s smarter and more calculating. So it’s terrifying.”

The Florida Board of Medicine has 15 members, appointed by the governor as vacancies arise. Most were appointed by Republican governors, with four appointed by DeSantis. A simple majority is all it will take to begin the process of imposing the ban on gender-affirming care for minors that the DeSantis administration is seeking.

This appears to be the most likely outcome – though Haller thinks the worst might be avoided. The 12 physicians on the board are supposed to speak in their professional capacity as doctors, not politicians – and Haller thinks there’s some chance, however small, that the majority could have enough integrity to declare that setting the standard of care for a field in which most of them have no experience, and in contravention to the consensus of that field, falls outside the board’s purview.

If they do toe the governor’s line, however, they will not make an instant decision but will set up a committee to determine the standard of care at a later date. Banning puberty blockers and hormones, at least for minors, is highly likely.

“We’re Being Persecuted”

Should that occur, Jara says her family will leave the state. When people ask if they plan to move, Jara insists: “Let’s call it what it is. It’s not moving, it’s fleeing. We’re being persecuted.”

And if DeSantis becomes president? In that case, Jara says her family will find a way to leave not just Florida, but the United States itself.

Protecting her children is her highest priority as a parent. According to Jara, her daughter, Dempsey, has shown persistent gender non-conformity since she was 18 months old and at the age of five insisted, “I’m a girl in my heart and my brain.”

Although Jara receives hate mail and is often accused of somehow ‘making’ Dempsey trans, she says that no one ever pressured her child. In fact, Dempsey would throw tantrums when forced to wear boy’s clothing in public, and became increasingly withdrawn as a result.

Once she was allowed to socially transition, however, Dempsey thrived, including at school. Because some of her classmates remembered her using different pronouns and dressing differently in kindergarten, Jara decided to work with the school (and an outside organisation) to provide an age-appropriate, educational workshop for the class with a puppet show explaining what it means to be transgender.

“Nothing sexual at all, because it has nothing do with sex,” Jara explains, frustrated that so many people regard the topic as inherently sexual. Such workshops are now illegal under Florida’s recently passed ‘don’t say gay’ law.

Dempsey doesn’t need puberty blockers just yet, but she will fairly soon, which means a lot is riding on the board of medicine’s decision – for her, her family and similar families across Florida.

Jara and her husband moved to Florida 17 years ago from New York, for its affordability and its weather. “We still love Florida,” she tells me. But the increasingly hostile, anti-trans political climate is becoming intolerable. “The fallout is bad, it’s very real, it’s affecting families.”

Brandon Wolf from Equality Florida confirmed that “Florida has grown increasingly more hostile toward our community.” He places much of the blame on DeSantis: “We are being targeted by a governor desperate to be president someday and willing to traffic in all manners of hate and bigotry to get there.”

Equality Florida is part of a broad coalition working to push back against anti-trans policy initiatives. This includes gathering public comments urging the board of medicine not to adopt the anti-trans standard of so-called “care” proposed by the state’s health department.

This much is certain. Whatever happens on Friday, the vicious Republican attacks on transgender Floridians are not likely to stop any time soon.

Categories: World News

French mayor threatens €15,000 deposit to climb Mont Blanc

BBC World News - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 06:38
The deposit is meant to cover rescue and funeral costs amid increased rockfalls caused by hot weather.
Categories: World News

2 people killed after lightning struck near the White House

NPR - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 06:28
Across the street from the White House, shown here in 2021, is Lafayette Park. On Thursday, a lightning strike there hit four people, and two of them were pronounced dead on Friday.

Intense thunderstorms killed two and critically injured another two at the park next to the White House in Washington, D.C. Thursday evening. U.S. Park Police and the Secret Service rushed to help.

(Image credit: Andrew Harnik/AP)

Categories: World News

The job market got even better, in a surprisingly positive sign for the economy

NPR - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 05:40

U.S. employers added 528,000 jobs in July, showing the labor market remains strong, despite high inflation and softening economic growth. The unemployment rate fell to 3.5%.

(Image credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Categories: World News

On Japan's Yonaguni island, fears of being on the front line of a Taiwan conflict

NPR - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 05:28

Japan's westernmost island lies in sight of Taiwan, less than 70 miles away. On Thursday, a Chinese missile landed near Yonaguni. Japan has been strengthening defenses across its southwest islands.

(Image credit: Anthony Kuhn/NPR)

Categories: World News

William and Kate's kids step in as school shuts for summer

CNN World News - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 05:18
Succession planning isn't something most of us have to give much thought to, but for the royal family it's almost part of the daily routine.
Categories: World News

New studio execs slay 'Batgirl,' but she's been through tougher fights

NPR - Fri, 08/05/2022 - 05:00
Leslie Grace as Batgirl in the latest incarnation of the superhero.

Warner Bros. Discovery has shelved production of its film Batgirl. It's a good time to recall her path to this point.

(Image credit: Leslie Grace/Screenshot by NPR)

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