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‘She’s my everything’: Athlete Sun Wenjing comes out as gay on Weibo in the face of government crackdown

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Sun Wenjing comes out on Weibo

Sun Wenjing, a retired volleyball player from China, has recently come out as a lesbian on Weibo despite the government’s public efforts to crack down on LGBTQ+ groups online.

Coming out: Sun, 27, shared the announcement on Sept. 9 along with two pictures of her and her girlfriend standing in front of a red backdrop, an officially recognized style used on marriage certificates in China, according to SupChina.

  • Sun wrote in Chinese, “She doesn’t have to do anything, but I will fall for her time and time again. Year after year, she’s my everything.” The post has received over 13,000 reposts and more than 60,000 likes.
  • Sun posted the photo on the day that many Chinese people regard as a symbol of eternity, South China Morning Post reported. Sept. 9, or 9-9 (九九 jiǔ jiǔ), is also one of the most popular dates Chinese couples choose to register their marriage.
  • Many people reportedly supported Sun’s post online, with one user writing on Weibo in Chinese, “The more people, especially public figures, come out of the closet, the less likely that Chinese society still sees LGBT+ issues as taboo topics.”
  • You are brave. I don’t know when I and my lover can act like you and your girlfriend in public, by not hiding our sex orientation at all,” another user commented.
  • Born in 1994, Sun became a famous volleyball player after winning a national competition while playing for a youth volleyball team in Shandong, China in 2013. Coaches reportedly screened the player for the national team but she failed to make the official volleyball player list. Sun announced her retirement in 2019 on Weibo.

Crackdown effort: The Chinese government has been working hard to crack down LGBTQ groups online, with the most recent event making headlines globally in July.

  • Many people expressed outrage after the Chinese government swiftly took down dozens of WeChat groups run by LGBTQ+ university students on July 6, The Guardian reported. The groups, which had operated for years, were considered safe havens for many of China’s LGBTQ+ youths.
  • Sun’s recent announcement was also somewhat affected by the strict LGBTQ+ crackdown online. Ifeng, a media outlet in the mainland, was hit by Chinese censorship after reporting the former volleyball star’s coming out on Monday. Other publications’ reports were also reportedly taken down the following day.
  • People who support the Chinese government’s effort also expressed negative reactions to Sun’s post online. One user wrote, “Although I respect your choice, it is not correct guidance for juveniles. Please don’t publicize this as something worthy of pride.”

Featured Image via Weibo

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Pioneer Press Big Ten football picks: Week 3

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Pioneer Press Big Ten football picks: Week 3

Gophers beat reporter Andy Greder picks this week’s games:

FRIDAY

MARYLAND AT ILLINOIS, 8 p.m., FS1

The Illini will follow a season-opening win against Nebraska with three consecutive losses. That was a short honeymoon for Bret Bielema. Maryland, 29-20

SATURDAY

NO. 8 CINCINNATI AT INDIANA, 11 a.m., ESPN

The preseason darling Hoosiers were destroyed by Iowa in the opener, and their blowout win over FCS Idaho means little because the Bearcats will do what the Hawkeyes did. Cincinnati, 35-17 

NORTHERN ILLINOIS at No. 25 MICHIGAN, 11 a.m., BTN

When Jim Harbaugh’s quotes include George Patton and Neil Armstrong, you know the quirky ol’ ball coach is feeling pretty good about his team. Michigan, 40-10

MICHIGAN STATE AT NO. 24 Miami (Fla.), 11 a.m., ABC

The Spartans have had the lead longer in two games this season than they did in seven in 2020. They might add to that stat in this one, but they won’t leave with a win. Miami, 28-24

NEBRASKA AT NO. 3 OKLAHOMA, 11 a.m., FOX

The Cornhuskers reportedly tried to get out of rekindling their lost rivalry with Oklahoma. After this blowout, they will regret that not happening. Oklahoma, 42-18

GOPHERS AT COLORADO, NOON, PAC-12N

Thousands of Minnesota fans will make the trip to Boulder for this rare matchup. The team will make it entertaining, and won’t spoil the visit. Gophers, 24-21

PURDUE AT NO. 12 NOTRE DAME, 1:30 p.m., NBC

College football is weird. Example 12,472: Notre Dame won’t allow the Boilermakers to bring their 10-foot tall, 565-pound drum into its stadium’s main tunnel, so Purdue will have to go without the “World’s Largest Drum.” Notre Dame, 38-24

KENT STATE AT No. 5 IOWA, 2:30 p.m., BTN

The Big Ten West — and maybe the Big Ten Conference — runs through Iowa City after the Hawkeyes’ defense smothered two ranked teams to start the season. Iowa, 28-3

TULSA AT No. 9 OHIO STATE, 2:30 p.m., FS1

Oregon said they wanted to run the ball just like the Gophers did against Ohio State. Then the Ducks had even more success, and Buckeyes coach Ryan Day wouldn’t solo tackle the status of Key Coombs as defensive coordinator. Ohio State, 40-20

DELAWARE AT RUTGERS, 2:30 p.m., FS1

Given the thrilling nature of this matchup, this is a perfect place to share that we went 13-1 in Big Ten picks in Week 2. Thanks a lot, Ohio State. Rutgers, 24-9

NORTHWESTERN AT DUKE, 3 p.m., ACCN

The Wall Street Journal reported Oregon State-Purdue was the least-watched FOX game on Sept. 4, showing the new alliance’s scheduling won’t benefit everyone. Northwestern, 21-17

NO. 22 AUBURN at NO. 10 PENN STATE, 6:30 p.m. ABC

Auburn hasn’t played a road Big Ten game in nine decades and their first one is a “White Out” game at Happy Valley. Good luck with all that. Penn State, 31-23

Our picks: 20-3

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As case counts rise, Vermont adds staff for contact tracing

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As case counts rise, Vermont adds staff for contact tracing

Posted: Updated:

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont is boosting staff for contract tracing amid a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, state officials said.

The state had hired a contractor in the spring to allow some state workers who had been doing contract tracing to return to their jobs, said Human Services Secretary Mike Smith during the governor’s weekly virus briefing on Tuesday.

“The contract calls for them to increase their workforce as COVID-positive case counts rise. Recently, they failed to do that sufficiently leaving the state to fill the gap,” he said.

In response, as of Tuesday, the state has increased its staffing to 104 full-time equivalent employees doing contract tracing and other related duties, including reaching out to close contacts and to businesses and schools, Smith said.

“We will continue to add state workers, our National Guard service members, and additional contracted employees as needed,” he said. Vermonters who want to be tested for COVID-19 are urged to again make appointments rather than walk into a test site, as the state investigates reports of delays in receiving results amid a recent surge in cases, officials said.

“Now we are transitioning back to appointments because just showing up in a higher demand environment causes people to wait,” said Smith.

Testing reservations can be made on the Health Department and pharmacy websites. The state is also working to expand weekly surveillance testing in schools, Smith said.

“Many school districts expressed an interest in participating in this new program,” he said. By the end of September more than 101 schools, representing more than 37% of school districts, will have testing programs and 50 more schools are expected to start operating testing programs by mid-October, he said.

Vermont reported 139 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, for a statewide total since the pandemic began of over 30,580. One death was reported, bringing the total to 291. Three deaths were reported on Tuesday.

A total of 39 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, including ten who were in intensive care, the Vermont Health Department reported Wednesday. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 137.57 on Aug. 30 to 150.14 on Sept. 13.

The Associated Press is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the U.S.

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More Colorado concerts canceled, postponed as frustrated ticket-holders get $3 million refund

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More Colorado concerts canceled, postponed as frustrated ticket-holders get $3 million refund

Head-spinning, COVID-related concert news continued this week as touring artists shelved local shows due to health concerns, even as promoters continued selling tickets to dozens of newly announced, metro-area events.

The mixed messages from the music industry follow increasingly tight COVID rules at music and sports venues, including the largest ones booked by corporate promoters AEG Presents Rocky Mountains and Live Nation. All concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Mission Ballroom, the Fillmore Auditorium and most other large venues now require concertgoers to be masked and provide proof of vaccination.

A few touring artists have brought even more measures to bear, in some cases canceling shows at venues that can’t or won’t accommodate their stricter rules. That includes Canadian crooner Michael Buble’s cancellation this week of a Sept. 20 show in Austin, Texas.

But there was good news, too: On Tuesday, Attorney General Phil Weiser announced that 8,688 Colorado ticket-holders who had been on the hook with San Francisco-based ticket reseller Stubhub will receive refunds totaling $3,120,442, or about $359 per ticket-holder.

The refunds apply to people who bought tickets under the company’s pre-pandemic refund policy for events that were canceled due to COVID-19, investigators said. Instead of honoring its “FanProtect Guarantee” — that the purchase price and fees for all shows would be refunded if the events were canceled — Stubhub stiffed its customers starting in March 2020.

The company instead said that ticket-holders would receive account credits equal to 120% of their purchases, to be used for future events, while denying them their money.

“Consumers should not be out of their money when a service they paid for was never provided,” Weiser said in a press statement. “My office is committed to protecting consumers, and we will continue to take action to ensure that consumers, like those of Stubhub, receive the refunds they are owed.”

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Matt Damon Found a Buyer for His $17.9 Million Pacific Palisades Mansion

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Matt Damon Found a Buyer for His $17.9 Million Pacific Palisades Mansion
Matt Damon is parting ways with his Pacific Palisades mansion.

Just over a month after Matt Damon lowered the price of his Pacific Palisades mansion down to $17.9 million, the actor has found a buyer for the home. Damon and his wife, Luciana Barroso, first listed the palatial 13,508-square-foot abode for a hefty $21 million in January 2021, but didn’t manage to net any major interest from potential buyers.

The over $3 million discount seems to have done the trick, as Damon and Barroso have accepted an offer on the Los Angeles estate, as first spotted by the New York Post.

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1631891187 598 Matt Damon Found a Buyer for His 179 Million Pacific
The sprawling home spans 13,508 square feet.

Even though Damon had to lower his expectations a tad, if he scores the entire ask, he’s still netting a profit from the $15 million he paid for the California property back in 2012.

An atrium with 35-foot mahogany ceilings leads into the airy, Zen-inspired home, per the listing held by The Agency broker Eric Haskell. There’s an open living room with a stone fireplace, as well as a dining room with a wall of glass.

The sleek kitchen is equipped with dark wood cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, marble countertops and a center island, and is open to a family room that, in turn, leads to the backyard via sliding glass doors.

1631891187 341 Matt Damon Found a Buyer for His 179 Million Pacific
There’s wine storage and a tasting room. Courtesy Alexis Adams/The Agency

Elsewhere in the home, there’s a game room, office, bar and movie theater, as well as a wine cellar (complete with a private tasting room) on the lower level.

The owner’s suite is outfitted with two dressing rooms complete with wood built-ins, in addition to a bathroom with a soaking tub and separate glass-enclosed shower.

Outside, there’s a pool and a spa, a waterfall and a very crucial koi pond, as well as various lounging and entertaining spaces, including a covered lanai for an al fresco dining situation.

1631891187 91 Matt Damon Found a Buyer for His 179 Million Pacific
The atrium features 35-foot mahogany ceilings. Courtesy Alexis Adams/The Agency

Damon and Barroso decided to sell their Pacific Palisades home of nearly 10 years because they’re just not spending that much time on the West Coast anymore; they relocated to New York with their four children earlier this year, as the couple finally moved into their massive penthouse in Brooklyn Heights, for which they paid a reported $16.75 million in 2018.

Matt Damon Found a Buyer for His $17.9 Million Pacific Palisades Mansion

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‘My heart bled for them’: Director Justin Chon’s ‘Blue Bayou’ aims to change the fate of American adoptees facing deportation

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blue bayou justin chon adoptees deportation

In a shotgun home in the Louisiana bayou, a Korean adoptee’s small-town world is rocked when he finds out that in the 30 years he’s lived in America, he is not considered a citizen and is at risk of deportation.

Justin Chon, the writer, director and star behind “Blue Bayou” plays the character Antonio LeBlanc, a financially struggling New Orleans-based tattoo artist who was adopted from South Korea when he was 3. The film peers into the lives of Antonio and his pregnant wife Kathy, played by Alicia Vikander, as parents of Kathy’s young daughter from a previous marriage.

The first scene opens with Antonio in a job interview that feels more like an interrogation as the disembodied voice of a motorcycle shop owner poses a familiar and microaggressive question, “Where are you from?” and then immediately presses with “What did you steal?”

Antonio is a flawed character and Chon intended for him to be that way. “I wanted to tell a story of a real person, not a perfect individual,” he told Vanity Fair. “This film represents what America feels like and looks like.”

The character sports a small rap sheet of two felonies for stealing motorcycles in his youth. He’s since moved past that and wants to continue living a quiet life with his family, but his story gets muddied after a racist encounter is escalated and immigration services are brought in. The couple are then left to deal with the titanic revelation of his possible deportation to South Korea.

It’s a devastating reality for adoptees brought to the U.S. and who’ve only ever known life in it. 

Chon spent over five years researching, reading articles and listening to stories from Korean American adoptee friends about the underbelly of a flawed and crushingly rigid adoption and foster care system that stranded thousands of adoptees without many options.

Between loopholes and faulty, incomplete paperwork from their adoptive parents, “these people, now adults, would find out that they were never officially U.S. citizens,” Chon told NextShark.

Specifically for Korean adoptees, the Korean War orphaned and separated around 2 million children from their families. In 1953, Congress passed the Refugee Relief Act, which would enable thousands of Korean adoptees to immigrate to the U.S. under visas. Two years later, it was when evangelical Christians Harry and Bertha Holt adopted eight Korean War orphans, and later facilitated the process for others through the Holt International adoption agency, that more Americans were racing to adopt these displaced children.

Treated like a hot commodity and like they were in desperate need of “saving,” the number of adoptions from Korea continued to grow until more than 160,000 Korean children were adopted into Western homes in the years following the war and required a lengthy naturalization process, NPR reported.

In 2000, a sliver of hope was given to children from other countries who were under 18. Congress passed the Child Citizenship Act that protected them and gave them automatic citizenship, according to NBC Washington. But this left out the adoptees who were brought over during the ‘70s and ‘80s and had already built established lives at the age of 40 or 50. They would be doomed to starting over and going back to a “motherland” they have nothing but birth ties to.

“I was absolutely appalled,” Chon said. “My heart bled for them and figured that people needed to know.”

“Listen to him, look at him, he’s American,” Kathy says in an impassioned plea to an immigration lawyer in one of the film’s released clips. Her husband speaks with a Southern drawl, has a large eagle tattoo defiantly emblazoned across his neck and is the father of two children. Yet the titanic revelation of a looming deportation to South Korea begs the elusive question: “Who gets to decide who is American?” and “What does it mean to be American?”

Chon wants the viewer to empathize with these characters, with the Asian community who are made to feel like perpetual foreigners despite their birth status and with these adoptees who represent an overlooked part of America. He said the film “represents the idea of who we choose as our families.”

It’s also part of the reason why he got attached to the script, wound up playing Antonio and cast actors who weren’t American. He wanted them to study what it meant to be one, to define it for themselves, and to “make more intentional choices” in their acting, he told Dig IN Magazine. Vikander, who is from Sweden, took extra steps to submerge herself into it—thinking of every detail, down to her hair and the scrubs she wears as a physical therapist in the film.


(Exclusive clip courtesy of Focus Features)

“As the country continues to grow and evolve I think it’s important to look at ourselves and become more tolerant of one another,” he said. “It’s the reason I placed the film in the South. It’s not a red or blue issue but rather a film that hopefully sparks honest conversations.”

As a filmmaker, he opts to use his creative strengths in storytelling to change this bleak narrative. By empathizing with Antonio’s story, he hopes to bring enough awareness to have it shared and eventually reach the eyes of a legislator, while also serving as a warning to the large number of Asian American adoptees who aren’t aware that they are undocumented.

“If the right people see it, the right people share it, maybe the right person picks it up and there can be some legislation change, and someone who is going through this can stay and someone who has been deported can come back,” he said.

He also believes that the community needs to take more creative liberties and “branch out of just our own Asian ethnicities and tell each other’s stories respectfully” to build more unity and cohesion.

“I feel like the conversation a lot of the time focuses on Koreans, Japanese and Chinese people. We need to use our platforms for our Southeast Asian counterparts as well. It’s the reason that my next film will focus on Indonesian characters,” Chon said, referring to the one he finished filming with musician Rich Brian a few days ago and features an Indonesian father and son.

His biggest goal for his films is for people to “think about the characters one more time” as they lay in bed—that’s when he considers it a success.

“Blue Bayou” will debut in theaters on Sept. 17.

Featured Image via Focus Features (left, right)
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Caine & Plaza chemistry make ‘Best Sellers’ a must-watch

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Caine & Plaza chemistry make ‘Best Sellers’ a must-watch

MOVIE REVIEW

“BEST SELLERS”

Not rated. On VOD.

Grade: A-

Can anyone have anticipated a scenario in which Michael Caine and Aubrey Plaza play a variation of “The Odd Couple”? In the small, gem-like, screwball comedy “Best Sellers,” Plaza plays Lucy Stanbridge, a young, rich, well-educated woman who inherits a venerable New York publishing house from her father. The house is in trouble and on the verge of being sold off at a loss to former executive Jack Sinclair (Scott Speedman), who was once romantically involved with Lucy, although things have chilled down.

Aubrey Plaza in ‘Best Sellers.’

Lucy and her wryly funny assistant Rachel Spence (an indispensable Ellen Wong) are desperate to find a best seller to publish to save the company. The only candidate they come up with is Harris Shaw (Michael Caine), who hasn’t published a book in 50 years. But his first and only effort, “Atomic Autumn,” which Lucy’s father supposedly carefully edited, was a smash hit, and an old contract confirms that Harris owes them a book. The set-up is simple, elegant and full of potential.

Directed by first-time feature filmmaker and actor Lina Roessler, “Best Sellers” has the nerve to open to the sound of someone pounding on a typewriter, something some people in the audience might not recognize. Harris, an old, angry geezer and widower, picks up a ringing phone and spews the words, “He’s dead; bugger off,” into it and hangs up. We see him type the words THE END at the bottom of a page. We learn something of Harris’s background. He was “thrown out of Ireland” and lives in Westchester, N.Y. (the film was shot in Quebec). He’s a “drunk, a recluse and a madman.” His house faces imminent foreclosure.

Thus, he is persuaded by Lucy to go on a book tour to promote “The Future is X-Rated,” his newest effort, a bleak, “Children of Men”-type, extinction-level work of dystopiana. But instead of reading from the book, Shaw, who shares his name with a certain Anglo-Irish playwright and polemicist, scandalously reads a missive from the letter section of a 1977 issue of Penthouse Magazine. Harris catchphrase “It’s all bullshite” is trending. Twitter loves the curmudgeon.

Lucy, who has to learn to drive Shaw’s oddly reliable, right-hand drive vintage Jaguar, goes on the road, touring dive bars with the old man, who sits in the back of the Jag, smoking cigars and dozing. It’s clear that as much as she disapproves of Shaw’s outrageous behavior, Lucy grows increasingly fond of him.

Caine, 88, has a blast acting like the most scandalous member of the Sex Pistols. Plaza, a gifted comic actor with a razor-sharp. sarcastic screen presence, has not had this sort of chemistry with a male colleague, maybe ever. For his part, Caine does very little outside of talking to his beloved dead wife, to make Shaw likable.

Actor-screenwriter Anthony Grieco sticks to the rules of the traditional screwball comedy. But instead of a romance, he gives us a surrogate father-daughter bond. Shaw rubs off on Lucy, and she becomes more and more like the old man, chanting, “It’s all bullshite,” with the hipsters at the bars, enjoying long swigs of neat Johnnie Walker Black Label and smoking the old man’s cigars. Later, she will quote his favorite lines from “The Great Gatsby.” Apparently, these two were meant for each other. But their “romance” has little future.

That’s the Kinks performing “Last of the Steam-Powered Trains” over the final credits, a suitable send-off for this very pleasant surprise.

(“Best Sellers” contains profanity, drunkenness and a scene in which someone pees on a burning book.)

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Thousands without power in Twin Cities following early Friday morning storm

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Thousands without power in Twin Cities following early Friday morning storm

Residents in the East Metro awoke Friday morning to downed trees and power outages following a thunderstorm that blew through the area about 3 a.m.

As of 8 a.m., about 50,000 Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota and 11,000 in western Wisconsin were without power. Dakota Electric, which has customers in Dakota, Goodhue, Rice and Scott counties, reported about 3,000 without power.

“We just thank people for their patience,” said Joe Miller, spokesman for Dakota Electric. “I think it’s been a number of years since we saw something this significant move through our area. We’ve got all crews out there working to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.”

Xcel had about 300 employees and contractors out working to restore power Friday morning, with more expected to be added later today, the company said in a statement.

In St. Paul, 5,757 Xcel customers lost power. Stillwater reported about 3,190 and in Hudson, 7,691 were in the dark.

Dakota Electric customers were hardest hit in Burnsville, Apple Valley and Eagan, Miller said.

The company could not give specifics, as the power outage map on its website had been knocked offline.

Residents out and about Friday are cautioned to stay away from downed power lines. Always assume an electric line, even one that is on or near the ground, is energized and dangerous. Never touch or move a downed power line. Downed power lines should be reported immediately by calling 1-800-895-1999.

The overnight storms also delayed classes at several schools across the metro including Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan schoo, district.

“Due to significant storm damage in parts of the district, all schools will start two hours late today, September 17, 2021. Rosemount Elementary and Rosemount Middle are canceled as Xcel Energy works to restore power. All after-school activities and events are also canceled at these schools,” the district said in a post on social media.

Stillwater Area Schools also announced delays and, in some cases, canceled in-person instruction due to the storms. For more information go to https://www.stillwaterschools.org/

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Unvaccinated New Yorkers with event tickets facing dilemma

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Unvaccinated New Yorkers with event tickets facing dilemma

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Following a bombshell announcement from Gov. Kathy Hochul about vaccine requirements at sports events, many ticketholders were left with questions.

If roughly 30% of Erie County is not vaccinated, that means several thousand fans with tickets now have a little over a week to decide whether to get their first shot or sell their tickets. One, Kylie, is selling her floor seat tickets for the Eric Church concert 10 days before he performs at the KeyBank Center.

She says she doesn’t feel comfortable getting the vaccine as required. “Those that are going, I hope they enjoy the concerts, and those that can’t, stand your ground and do what you think is right for yourself,” Kylie said.

Kristen Pachucki is also selling her tickets on Facebook for less than face value because she can’t be sure she’ll get a refund. “We’ve contacted the insurance company because we did get insurance on them, and we’ve also contacted Ticketmaster and Key Bank, and we’ve heard nothing,” she said. “Except Ticketmaster said that currently, their policy is not changing.”

Nick Giammusso runs VIP TIX, which resells tickets. He said that, even though Bills season ticket holders can get a refund if they commit by Friday night, they would lose their seniority. “It’s frustrating because we don’t have the answers right now,” Giammusso said. “Fans would use a service like ours to resell their tickets so they could keep their seniority.”

Attorney Corey Hogan says his office is considering legal action based on the flood of calls he’s received over the vaccine requirement at both Highmark Stadium and KeyBank Center. “Probably have now received between 75 and a hundred calls from obviously very upset, disgruntled fans feeling that the Bills have pulled the rug out from underneath them,” he said.

Many Bills tickets and concert tickets will likely sell for less than market value over the coming days because of this new rule and the uncertainty of refunds.

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Colorado extends $11.3 million in tax incentives to four companies

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Colorado extends $11.3 million in tax incentives to four companies

The Colorado Economic Development Commission on Thursday morning approved $11.3 million worth of job growth incentive tax credits to four companies that are considering the creation of 610 jobs over the next eight years in the state.

The largest of the awards, worth up to $7.7 million, went to a foreign maker of medical devices and health care technology products that was given the code name Project Tempus to protect its identity. The company is looking to set up a North American headquarters as well as a global headquarters for one of its subsidiaries.

The company told the state that it is looking to create 300 jobs at an average annual wage of $154,957, double the average annual wage in Denver. The positions are in management, administration, marketing and finance.

“Our challenge right now is that we have team members residing in the U.S. We are really trying to find a North American headquarters. We want to bring together several hundred people,” said a representative for the company, which is also looking at locations in Texas and New Jersey.

Project Linin, an early-stage company working on a molecular detection technology that can detect foodborne pathogens rapidly, received approval for $1.4 million in credits in return for the creation of 144 net new jobs paying an average annual wage of $124,573.

The jobs will include microbiologists, production and test engineers, sales and marketing and managers. The company, currently based in California, is considering metro Denver, Austin or the Bay Area for a headquarters, and research and development and production facilities.

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Franks: We can’t let inner-city Catholic schools go extinct

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Franks: We can’t let inner-city Catholic schools go extinct

A former Catholic cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, is facing trial on charges of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy. He is the only current or former U.S. cardinal to be criminally charged with child sex crimes.

The Catholic Church has been paying millions of dollars to settle such cases for decades. Inner-city children (Black and Hispanic) are suffering the collateral damage.

The Archdiocese of Hartford paid more than $50 million to settle abuse allegations against dozens of its priests. The archdiocese admitted in a financial statement that such payments harmed its ability to provide other services. Among its major assets would be school buildings.

Connecticut could be on the verge of ending Catholic school choice for inner-city high school kids, with only one such school left, Kolbe Cathedral.

Just imagine if the state’s public schools denied inner-city children the opportunity to get an education but allowed students from white communities to have that opportunity. The entire nation would be outraged. Now imagine the villain in this scenario is a very unlikely institution: the Catholic Church and its Catholic schools. The church is allowing white communities to have an opportunity at a Catholic school education in neighborhood high schools while denying the same opportunity to Black and Hispanic students by closing all of its inner-city Catholic high schools in Connecticut. It could rightly be called discriminatory.

The record is clear. After the closing of seven inner-city Catholic high schools, there will be only one Catholic high school in Connecticut not in an affluent white community. The schools can try to segregate themselves like the schools in the South did in the 20th century, prompting the Brown v. Board of Education decision. But like Bob Jones University in the 1980s, which also condoned discriminatory practices, these schools cannot be allowed to receive federal funding and, in most states, state funding.

The graduation rates at Catholic schools in Connecticut are much higher than at most inner-city public schools. The prospects for college scholarships are much better in Catholic schools, and the values that a Catholic high school education offers are superior as well, in my opinion.

Yet, the Catholic high schools for inner-city children in Connecticut are on the verge of extinction, soon to become a memory and thing of the past, ending Catholic school choice for inner-city high school kids.

Connecticut is not an aberration. Inner-city Catholic schools have been closing nationwide.

There are many thousands of Blacks and Hispanics who have benefited from a Catholic education. All of us would owe a part of our success in life to having this opportunity. As possibly the first Black product of a Catholic high school education to enter Congress, I find the pulling up of the “ladder of opportunity” on millions of other Black people and Hispanics by the Catholic Church very disheartening. Let us pray that something positive can happen. We must not hurt those who are in the greatest need of help.


Gary Franks is a former U.S. representative from Connecticut and visiting professor/adjunct at Hampton University, Georgetown University and the University of Virginia. He is now a public policy consultant and columnist.

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