Nov 08
Her eye on the news
‘Still parenting’

Lucy McBath, a Georgia gun control activist who lost her son to gun violence, has beaten out incumbent Republican Representative Karen Handel in the race for the state’s 6th Congressional District. Handel conceded the race in a Facebook post on early Thursday morning, writing that she wanted to send her Democratic opponent her best wishes as she assumes her new congressional duties.

“After carefully reviewing all of the election results data, it is clear that I came up a bit short on Tuesday,” wrote Handel. “Congratulations to Representative-Elect Lucy McBath and I send her only good thoughts and much prayer for the journey that lies ahead for her.” McBath won praise for her victory from Hillary Clinton, who posted on Twitter to congratulate her.

Speaking to CNN following her win in the Democratic primary earlier this year, Mcbath said she had been inspired to run for office by the political activism of the high school students who survived the infamous Parkland, Florida school shooting. In wake of the massacre, students such as Emma Gonzalez had called on politicians to reject “blood money” from the NRA and finally actually do something to limit access to machine guns and assault rifles. McBath lost her own, Jordan Davis, to gun violence in 2012 following a dispute over loud music.

“I’m still a mother. I’m still parenting. That’s why I believed this was the time to stand up,” said McBath. “For me, I was looking beyond my own tragedy, looking for the other tragedies that were most definitely going to happen if I didn’t keep talking about this crisis.”

Below, watch McBath talking about how critical it is to get out and vote.

Read the full story at CNN.


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Today in WTF

A Dutch “positivity guru” has begun a legal battle to change his date of birth by arguing that if transgender people are allowed to change their legal sex due to their gender identity, then he should be allowed to change his age because he identifies as someone 20 years younger. Appearing before a court in Arnhem, Netherlands, Emile Ratelband, 69, claimed that his official age was causing him to be discriminated against at work and on dating apps such as Tinder, and petitioned the court to change his birth from March 11, 1949 to March 11, 1969 instead.

“When I’m 69, I am limited. If I’m 49, then I can buy a new house, drive a different car,” Ratelband asserted. “I can take up more work. When I’m on Tinder and it says I’m 69, I don’t get an answer. When I’m 49, with the face I have, I will be in a luxurious position.”

Characterizing himself as a “young god,” the guru added that doctors told him his body was equivalent to that of a 45-year-old man.

The judge in the case expressed incredulity at the request, but conceded that Ratelband’s wasn’t incorrect to say that it once would have been thought “impossible” to legally change one’s gender. But being able to change one’s official age, the judge noted, could lead to a variety of other entanglements — especially regarding things such as health insurance and other matters in which age can play an important role.

“It is really a question of free will,” Ratelband declared.

When asked by the public prosecutor how health inspectors were supposed to determine someone’s emotional age, Ratelband’s lawyer, Jan-Hein Kuijpers, said that there was also room for “something like common sense, of course.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.


A Pakistani Christian woman who spent more than eight years on death row in solitary confinement before being acquitted of blasphemy charges by the country’s Supreme Court just over a week ago was finally allowed to leave jail on Wednesday. Asia Bibi, a 54-year-old farm laborer and mother of five, had been charged with blasphemy after an incident in which she allegedly offended Muslim co-workers by drinking water from the same cup of water she had fetched for them on a hot day. Lower-court judges, apparently afraid of retaliation from conservative Muslim groups, had upheld her initial conviction in 2010, only for the Supreme Court to rule eight years later that the accusations against her were clearly “nothing short of concoction incarnate.”

According to NPR’s Islamabad-based correspondent Diaa Hadid, Pakistan erupted into chaos following Bibi’s acquittal as “followers of a hard-line Pakistani religious group rushed onto major roads across the country to paralyze traffic in protest of the decision.” The angry mobs demanded Bibi’s death, as well as those of the three Supreme Court judges who voted to acquit her.

“Even in a country which generally tolerates a great deal of hate speech by the religious right, the calls against the army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, seemed to stun many in Pakistan,” wrote Diaa. “It led to the prime minister, Imran Khan, warning the protesters in an evening televised address that the state could be forced to act against them. Negotiations began shortly after the prime minister’s address to defuse the situation.”

Bibi’s family members have said that they plan to seek asylum in a foreign country, as her life would likely remain at risk if she remains in Pakistan. And it’s no wonder they fear for her life. On Friday, the streets in Karachi were flooded with protesters who railed against Bibi’s release and called for her beheading.

Watch video coverage of Bibi’s release from prison below.

Read the full story at NPR.


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Moving forward

Electric car manufacturer Tesla named longtime technology executive Robyn Denholm to serve as the company’s new board chair on Wednesday night. The former chair, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk had been forced to temporarily step down from the position by a deal he made with securities regulators in September. Musk had attracted attention from authorities in August after he posted to Twitter claiming to have secured private funding from Saudi Arabian investors for a buyout of the company — a move that cause the company’s stock price to skyrocket. It was later revealed that no such deal had been reached, prompting an investigation that culminated in Musk’s agreement to a settlement that required Tesla appoint two independent directors to its board, name a new chair, and set up a permanent committee to monitor Musk’s public declarations — including those made on social media.

Denholm, who is currently chief financial officer of Australian telecommunications giant Telstra, has been a Tesla board member since 2014. Before taking the job at Telstra, she served as an executive at computer networking equipment manufacturer Juniper Networks for about a decade, and also spent seven years in the auto industry as national manager for finance at Toyota Motor Corporation Australia. In a statement, Tesla said that Denholm was assuming her new duties as chairwoman of the board immediately, and that she would step away from her role at Telstra following the completion of her six-month notice period.

In his customary style, Musk took to Twitter to congratulate Denholm. In a statement, he hailed her “extensive experience” and “significant contributions” to the company, adding that he would “look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.”

Musk’s use of social media, which at times has been erratic, had become a distraction for Tesla in recent months — including a series of incidents in which Musk responded to criticism from a British diver who helped save 12 boys trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand by claiming, without evidence, that the diver was a pedophile. In August, Musk admitted that he had taken to using sleep drug Ambien to combat insomnia — a factor that some Tesla board members suggested may have been influencing his controversial late-night Twitter use.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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Get well soon

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is recovering in a Washington, D.C., hospital after fracturing three ribs as a result of a fall she took in her office Wednesday evening. The Supreme Court released the news of Ginsburg’s injuries Thursday morning in a statement.

“She went home, but after experiencing discomfort overnight, went to George Washington University Hospital early this morning,” the statement said. “Tests showed that she fractured three ribs on her left side and she was admitted for observation and treatment.”

At 85, RBG is the oldest justice on the bench of the high court and one of the four liberal-leaning members, so her health is a constant issue of speculation. And as the news broke early Thursday about Ginsburg’s hospitalization, concerned fans of the Supreme Court icon took to Twitter to make tongue-in-cheek offers to donate their ribs and vital organs to Ginsburg if it would speed up her recovery, The Kansas City Star reported.

However, Ginsburg is known for adhering to a regiment of vigorous daily workouts to maintain her energy and vitality. There’s even a book that advises readers on how they can stay in tip-top shape like the hard-working justice. Her workout routine was a topic that was covered in the documentary about Ginsburg’s life that ran in movie theaters earlier this year. And Ginsburg has proven her resiliency over the years, overcoming cancer multiple times and, in 2014, doctors placed a stent in her right coronary artery, according to CNBC.

During an appearance at an event in New York City this past summer, Ginsburg described herself as a “flaming feminist” and predicted she would remain on the court for another five years. Here’s hoping that her prediction comes true and she gets back to working out ASAP.


Read the full story at The Associated Press


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‘Dogpile of people’

A former U.S Marine opened fire in a California country music bar on Wednesday night, killing 12 people — including the sheriff’s sergeant who was the first to respond to the scene. Police said Ian David Long, 28, used a smoke device and a .45-caliber handgun to lay waste to the Borderline Bar & Grill, a popular hangout spot in Thousand Oaks for local college students before apparently taking his own life. According to authorities, Long had previously exhibited erratic behavior last spring due to what was thought to be post-traumatic stress disorder acquired during his years in the military.

Tayler Whitler, 19, told NBC’s Today show that she was on the dance floor with friends when “out of the blue, during the middle of a song, I heard gunshots coming from behind me.”

“I turned around and saw a guy standing in the door, gun in his hand, shooting,” the distraught teenager recalled. “I saw three people drop and by then I was halfway off the dancefloor. I jumped into a dogpile of people on the other side.”

The shooter, she continued, appeared to be focused purely on killing as many people as he could.

Former U.S. Marine Ian David Long, who authorities say killed 12 in a mass shooting at a popular California bar before he turned the gun on himself. (Facebook)

“He didn’t say anything. He wore all black. He had a black baseball cap … It looked like he knew exactly what he was doing,” said Whitler. The status of at least two of her friends, she added, was still unaccounted for.

“It seems like it didn’t really happen,” she admitted. “It feels surreal. Just thinking, this could never happen to me and then it happens. I’m just so shocked. It doesn’t feel real.”

Twelve people inside the bar, including the gunman, were found dead. Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, who arrived at the club with a passing highway patrolman to respond to 911 calls, was reportedly shot as soon as he entered the club. The patrolman pulled Helus out, but Helus died of his wounds on Thursday at a hospital.

“There’s no doubt that they saved lives by going in there and engaging with the suspect,” said Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean, noting that Helus, a longtime friend, had been set to retire on Friday. “He went in there to save people and paid the ultimate price.”

Watch Whitler’s interview with Today below.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.


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