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Beyoncé and Jay-Z Are on the Most Glamorous $4 Million-a-Week Yacht Vacation

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Beyoncé and Jay-Z Are on the Most Glamorous $4 Million-a-Week Yacht Vacation
Beyoncé and Jay-Z are living their best lives aboard a $400 million yacht.

While eager fashion fans were disappointed they didn’t get to see Beyoncé at the Met Gala on Monday, September 13, the Grammy Award-winning musician was already quite busy that day, as she’s in the midst of a lavish 40th birthday celebration in Europe.. Beyoncé, who turned the big 4-0 on September 4, and Jay-Z have been living their best vacation lives aboard an absolutely massive megayacht, sailing around the Mediterranean.

Beyoncé, Jay-Z and their three children (Blue Ivy and twins Rumi and Sir) are currently aboard the Flying Fox, a 450-foot-long yacht was costs approximately $4 million a week to charter, according to Forbes. The palatial yacht, which cost a reported $400 million to build, has been rumored to belong to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, though other reports claim the tech billionaire isn’t the owner.

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No matter who owns the lavish yacht, it’s currently occupied by Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who have been traveling around Italy and France; they were spotted in Cannes earlier this week, where they were joined by Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles, and dined at La Geurite, before heading to Portofino. Beyoncé has shared plenty of photos of the family’s European jaunt on her Instagram, including a snap where her youngest daughter, Rumi, makes a cameo.

The sprawling 67-foot-wide yacht does make for a rather picturesque Instagram aesthetic. The Flying Fox contains 10 bedroom suites, and can accommodate up to 25 guests as well as 55 crew members. The decor features lots of marble, limestone and cream leather, as well as rattan and coconut shell details, per Boat International.

The plush spa has oak paneling and heated limestone floors, and is equipped with a hammam, sauna and a massive pool, plus a cryosauna. There’s also a fancy gym, movie theater, a formal living room as well as a dining room with an aquarium. The owner’s suite has its own sitting room, beauty room and double dressing rooms, in addition to an ethanol fireplace.

There are no less than six decks, including a helipad perched on the very top. There’s also a DJ alcove, for whenever the guests might want to transform the aforementioned helipad into a dance floor.

Even though Beyoncé didn’t make an appearance at the Met Gala, she’s still making a true fashion statement with plenty of stylish vacation looks. And while she might not have stood on the red (well, beige) carpet, a $400 million yacht might be an even better backdrop than those famous Met steps.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z Are on the Most Glamorous $4 Million-a-Week Yacht Vacation

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Bill to bring back eviction moratorium filed in Congress

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Bill to bring back eviction moratorium filed in Congress

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., hope to bring back the COVID-era eviction moratorium, a move property owners continue to oppose.

“An extremist Supreme Court cut short eviction protections and put millions of people at risk for losing their homes,” Warren said in front of the White House Tuesday. “Forcing tens of thousands of people out of their homes will only make this public health crisis worse as (the delta variant) surges.”

The Supreme Court struck down the federal eviction moratorium late last month, arguing that the Department of Health and Human Services lacked the authority to implement eviction moratoriums and that Congress had to specifically authorize it.

The bill, titled the “Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021,” would also implement an automatic eviction moratorium that would not require renters to apply, an issue Massachusetts renters and landlords have struggled with, and would remain in effect until 60 days after the end of the public health emergency.

But landlords, who have long opposed the moratorium, said it would only saddle renters with debt they can’t pay.

“Instead of responsibly addressing the crisis at hand, moratoriums leave renters strapped with insurmountable debt and housing providers left to unfairly hold the bag,” said Greg Brown, a senior vice president for government affairs at the National Apartment Association. “Ultimately, any effort to pursue additional moratoriums will only balloon the nation’s rental debt … and exacerbate the housing affordability crisis, permanently jeopardizing the availability of safe and affordable housing.”

Warren argued that a stay on evictions have staved off some COVID-19 spread, and cases spike after they expire. One study from MIT found that the average risk of contracting COVID-19 in states that ended eviction moratoriums jumped 1.39 times in the five weeks following the expiration, and 1.87 times after 12 weeks. The effect was amplified in low-income communities.

The Bay State senator acknowledged that, although Congress approved $45 billion for rental assistance to help landlords, “the money is going out too slowly.”

She cited statistics that almost 90% of the funds haven’t been distributed. “There are still billions of dollars to distribute and millions of families who need that help to avoid losing their homes,” she said.

Massachusetts received $768 million in federal emergency rental assistance funds and has spent almost $270 million on over 40,000 households since March 2020, according to recent data from the Baker-Polito administration.

Massachusetts currently has a temporary law in place that prevents evictions, providing the tenant has filed for rental assistance.

— Herald wire services contributed

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Ross Douthat: The extremely weird politics of COVID

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Ross Douthat: The extremely weird politics of COVID

I want to put a text before you, from February 2020, the ideological landscape into which the coronavirus first arrived. It’s a review in The London Review of Books, a fine highbrow left-of-center publication, covering a book about plague and quarantine in 17th-century Italy. The book, by University of London historian John Henderson, details the attempts by the city of Florence — led by its public health board, the Sanità — to avoid the awful fate of other Italian cities: first by closing the city to commerce and then by imposing quarantines, lockdowns and what we now call social distancing.

The sympathies of the reviewer — Erin Maglaque, another historian of early modern Europe — are not exactly with the Sanità. Like our federal government in 2020, the Florentine state spent lavishly to make its restrictions sustainable, delivering wine and bread and meat to households (“On Tuesdays, they got a sausage seasoned with pepper, fennel and rosemary”) during the mandatory confinement. But the quarantine was also inevitably punitive and authoritarian, and Maglaque’s review details the way public health restrictions reproduced and deepened inequality and how already-disfavored groups — the poor, Jews, prostitutes — were regarded as particularly dangerous “vectors of contagion” and policed accordingly.

Meanwhile, the most sympathetic characters in her account are people who found ways to steal a bit of normal life in defiance of public health restrictions — like two girls, Maria and Cammilla, who danced illicitly with their friends and got those friends’ parents arrested. At the end of the review, Maglaque notes that Florence achieved a much lower mortality rate than other Italian cities — just about 12%, compared with 33% in Venice, 46% in Milan and a staggering 61% in Verona. But she hesitates to give the Sanità all the credit; maybe the disease was just “less virulent” among the Florentines. And besides:

Percentages tell us something about living and dying. But they don’t tell us much about survival. Florentines understood the dangers but gambled with their lives anyway: out of boredom, desire, habit, grief. To learn what it meant to survive, we might do better to observe Maria and Cammilla, the teenage sisters who danced their way through the plague year.

It’s a fine review of a fascinating-sounding book, but I confess that when I reached this ending — and again, I was reading it in early 2020, when COVID was a concern but not yet a world crisis — I rolled my eyes a little. The Sanità’s measures obviously worked! The percentages do tell us about survival, because thousands of Florentines survived to dance and gamble and go to Mass and frequent brothels for years and years after their difficult but temporary spell of quarantine! One could sympathize with the prostitutes who kept working, the peasants slipping “past bored guards as they played cards” or the girls who broke the rules and danced. But given that the Sanità was fighting a disease that killed more than half the population in some cities, it felt like folly to romanticize the rule-flouters.

And not just folly but a particular kind of left-wing folly — still worse, left-wing academic folly — whereas my more pro-Sanità reaction felt impeccably right wing. In a crisis the government needs to act to save lives, even if ordinary liberties need to be suspended. Yes, there will be unevenly distributed injustices; yes, it’s good to point that out. But if the Sanità’s temporary authoritarianism saved thousands of lives, then it deserved the gratitude of Florentines, despite the costs.

That was my view in February 2020. It was also my view in March, April and May 2020, when I was a COVID hawk but many other American conservatives embraced a much more libertarian position on how to respond to our own pandemic. Indeed, by late spring, it was commonplace for the right to critique the Sanità of Anthony Fauci on roughly the same grounds that The LRB’s reviewer critiqued the 17th-century Florentine authorities — arguing that lockdowns were instruments of class discrimination; that elites flouted the rules while demanding compliance from the lower orders; that distancing imposed too much unhappiness and loneliness and misery, especially on the young; that the bare living preserved by public health restrictions wasn’t worth the cost to life in full.

Over the past 16 months, I have shifted somewhat in this COVID-dovish direction. I think schools should have been open everywhere last fall; I think mask requirements should have mostly gone away with widespread vaccination; I think you can see in certain public health mandarins and certain countries chasing COVID zero a pathology of control that is incompatible with human flourishing. I also have a general sympathy for Americans who haven’t been immediately on board with all the rulings from our Sanità — in part because I have had my own difficult medical experiences and in part because there has been so much obvious expert-class bumbling throughout the pandemic.

But at the same time, I remain a COVID hawk relative to many conservative writers and talkers. Knowing what we know now, I would have supported much more draconian measures in February 2020, in terms of travel restrictions, border closures and quarantine requirements, than anything we did. I still think the March response to the first coronavirus wave — shut everything down and spend a lot of money until we figure out just how bad this is going to be — was fundamentally correct.

Likewise, maintaining indoor mask mandates, social distancing rules and limits on mass gatherings into the winter of 2021 still seems entirely reasonable, especially since the speed with which we developed vaccines created a window in which restrictions that lasted mere months could save a lot of lives. And more recently many Republicans have let reasonable doubts about vaccine mandates undercut their commitment to finding ways, by hook or crook, to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

Informing my continued COVID-hawk status is the fact that while the COVID death rate has not been nearly as a brutal as those 17th-century Italian percentages, it has still been much, much higher than a lot of COVID doves wanted to initially believe. In the first months of the pandemic, I was often reassured by conservative friends that data would reveal that more people had already been infected than the official numbers showed and thus the disease was far less lethal and herd immunity far closer than official projections assumed. Or, alternatively, that the first plunge in death rates in the late spring of 2020 was the disease burning itself out, independent of anything we did, and that the belief that this needed to be treated as an extended emergency was all hype from anti-Trumpers.

These friends were wrong. And as someone who thought of my COVID-hawkish position as the more right-wing one, I have found it remarkable that through all those hundreds of thousands of deaths — deaths that many doves didn’t think would happen — the American right’s libertarian stance has mostly stuck.

But as someone who can see lots of specific issues on which the doves and libertarians have a point, I’m equally fascinated by how dramatically liberals have swung against any acknowledgment of what until very recently seemed like a core left perspective — that stringent public health responses are inherently authoritarian and inevitably ratify various forms of inequality and social control.

As Justin E.H. Smith, an American-born academic in Paris, noted in a recent essay, a left that just a little while ago seemed committed to Foucauldian critiques of biopolitics and fears of what governments do with emergency powers now is “dug in so deeply on the side of anti-anti-vaxx signaling” that it can’t “acknowledge anything worrisome about the new high-tech hygiene regime, about how hard it might be to dismantle it once it has outlived its purpose, about how it might sprout new purposes that are inimical to human thriving.”

What’s especially striking is how smoothly and absolutely these shifts happened — how quickly, and without embarrassment or backward looks, much of the right started talking like Michel Foucault and his disciples and much of the left starting embracing the mindset of the Florentine Sanità, as if those had been their natural and inevitable positions all along.

Whatever the explanation, in the short run I think the bare acknowledgment that this weird flip took place might help a little with our polarization — tempering the liberal sense that the right is just a pro-COVID death cult and the right’s sense that the left wants us all to mask up and eat Soylent in our disease-free habitats forever.

In less than two years, we have gone from a world where it was normal for a left-leaning publication to run an essay gently celebrating the defiance of public health rules during a brutal outbreak of the plague, to a world where the defiance of public health rules during a less lethal pandemic is coded as incredibly right wing.

I don’t know exactly why or exactly what it means. I just want people to acknowledge that it has happened and it’s really, really weird.

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New York docs ‘very excited’ about Pfizer vaccines for 5-year-olds on up

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New York docs ‘very excited’ about Pfizer vaccines for 5-year-olds on up

BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) — Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine works for children as young as 5-years-old. It’s now waiting on FDA approval for emergency use.

“Pfizer is saying that they expect an FDA approval in weeks, not months,” said Dr. Kathleen Grisanti, the president and medical director of Pediatric and Adolescent Urgent Care of WNY. “We’re really hoping, as we move forward in the next month or two, that we’ll be able to start vaccinating these school-aged children.”

“We want to get as many people as possible vaccinated because the more people that are vaccinated in the community, the quicker we can return to normal,” said Stephen Turkovich, who’s the chief medical officer at Oishei Children’s Hospital. “By making the 5 to 11 year-olds within the nation eligible, we will increase the number of eligible people by 28 million.”

People in the community say they’re on board with children in that age group getting vaccinated. “This will help with the curve. I think the numbers are going to go down,” said Tyshawn Thomas. “I’m 100% pro-vaccine, because if you go with science, science is not wrong. So I’m all for it. I think it’s a good idea. It’s about time.”

“I have a cousin who’s in that age group, and I think she’s been wanting to get the vaccine because she’s been very anxious about the whole thing. And with kids being out of school, I think it’s increased their anxiety,” Caroline Terhaar said. “Getting vaccinated would just help them get back into their normal routine.”

Because the vaccine would be for a younger age group, the vaccine dose is lower than what’s used for people older than 11-years-old, but experts say it’s just as effective. “They found that the antibody levels that the vaccine produced were equivalent or even a little bit higher than what we’ve seen in the adults and older children that got the vaccine,” Turkovich said.

Local pediatricians also stress parents go to the experts with their vaccine concerns. “There’s always concern with anything new—and again, we just kind of reassure them that this is not a new technology, that we have been using this type of technology in all sorts of vaccines,” Grisanti said. “We just encourage them to talk to their pediatricians to find out their recommendations and vaccinate their children as soon as it becomes available to them.”

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4 in custody after police pursuit ends in O’Fallon, Mo.

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4 in custody after police pursuit ends in O’Fallon, Mo.

O’FALLON, Mo. – Four people are in custody following a police pursuit Tuesday night that ended along highway 364 in O’Fallon, Missouri.

Police said it started just before 8:00 p.m. when the thieves stole from a store on Mexico Loop Road West. One of the four was left behind and arrested. The other three piled into a car and took off.

Officers eventually used stop sticks to disable the vehicle on 364 where the three bailed out of the moving car. They were arrested after a short foot chase.

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Rockies fall to Dodgers in extra innings to open final homestand of season

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Rockies fall to Dodgers in extra innings to open final homestand of season

On the last night of summer at Coors Field, with a lively crowd split evenly between purple and blue, the Rockies went ahead by two runs over the NL West-contending Dodgers.

But Los Angeles emerged with a 5-4 victory in 10 innings.

Colorado was unable to produce clutch hits — 4-of-20 with runners in scoring position — while closer Jhoulys Chacin gave up L.A.’s game-winning run on an Albert Pujols RBI single. The Rockies (70-80) continue their final homestand Wednesday in their second matchup of a three-game series against the Dodgers.

Colorado’s bullpen combination of Robert Stephenson, Tyler Kinley and Carlos Estevez was spectacular Tuesday with no runs allowed on just one hit. The Rockies also had an opportunity to go ahead in the seventh and ninth with no outs and a runner on second. They never came through.

“I thought we pitched well and had some chances because of our pitching,” manager Bud Black said. “But we just couldn’t get the big knock as the game unfolded, especially late in the game.”

Pujols put the game away with an RBI infield single off Chacin that scored the Dodgers’ designated runner in the 10th.

The night began with a pitching duel. Starters Antonio Senzatela and Julio Urias combined to retire a stretch of 23 consecutive batters to keep the game scoreless through three innings.

Garrett Hampson broke through for Colorado in the fourth with a leadoff single. He came home when Charlie Blackmon smacked a two-out RBI double off the wall in right. C.J. Cron followed it up with his own RBI double to put the Rockies ahead 2-0.

“We’ve faced (the Dodgers) a bunch this year and we know what they’ve got,” Cron said. “I don’t know if you can even say: Get to the pen early. It doesn’t really do much when they have the caliber of arms they have down there. It was a tough game.”

Senzatela ran into trouble when he gave up two-out singles in the fifth to Gavin Lux and Luke Raley. A Urias RBI single brought L.A. to within one run. Then Mookie Betts reached base on an infield single that tied the game.

Ryan McMahon ripped a double to deep left to lead off the fifth. He advanced to third on a called balk on Urias. But Ryan Vilade grounded out, Senzatela struck out swinging and Hampson flied out to end the frame. It came back to bite Colorado the next inning when a Max Muncy RBI double put the Rockies into a one-run hole. Los Angeles bolstered its lead, 4-2, on a Will Smith sacrifice fly that scored Muncy.

Colorado fired back in the sixth with two-out RBI doubles from C.J. Cron and Elias Diaz to tie the game.

Senzatela ended his spectacular stretch of quality outings in seven consecutive starts dating back to Aug. 11. He finished the night with four earned runs on seven hits over six innings. He issued zero walks and three strikeouts.

“In the fifth inning I just started making mistakes,” Senzatela said. “They capitalized on that. I think I threw too many pitches in the middle.”

Lambert decision looming. Starting right-handed pitcher Peter Lambert is nearing his MLB return since enduring Tommy John Surgery before the 2020 season. Lambert threw a bullpen session Tuesday.

“I’m going to check with Peter and the pitching coaches to see how he did and how he feels tomorrow. The next step will be for him to throw a game probably later in the week. Either here with us or in Triple-A,” manager Bud Black said. “I want to see how he feels physically. I want to know his emotional state coming back from all these minor league rehab assignments and whether he’s ready to pitch in the big leagues.”

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Massachusetts coronavirus cases increase by 1,283, highest daily death count in months

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Massachusetts coronavirus cases increase by 1,283, highest daily death count in months

Massachusetts health officials on Tuesday reported 1,283 new coronavirus cases and 25 COVID deaths, which was the highest daily death count in more than five months.

Total COVID hospitalizations in the Bay State dropped again, while the positive test rate ticked up.

Virus cases have been climbing for months amid the more highly contagious delta variant. Now deaths have been higher in recent weeks.

The 25 new COVID deaths was the highest single-day tally since April 3’s count of 30 deaths. Last week, the state reported 24 new COVID deaths in one day.

The state’s total recorded death toll is now 18,480. The seven-day average of deaths is now 7.1. The record-low daily death average was 1.3 in mid-July.

After the new 1,283 virus cases, the seven-day average of cases is now 1,222. Two months ago, the daily average was 352 infections.

The positive test average has been coming down, however. The percent positivity is now 2.10%, a dip from 2.98% last month. The daily positive test rate for Tuesday’s report was higher at 2.98%.

There are now 636 COVID patients in the state, a daily decrease of five patients.

The state reported that 173 patients are in intensive care units, and 103 patients are currently intubated.

Of the 636 total hospitalizations, 211 patients are fully vaccinated — or about 33%. Those who are unvaccinated are at a much higher risk for a severe case.

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West St. Paul plans $2.1 million upgrade to Marthaler Park

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West St. Paul plans $2.1 million upgrade to Marthaler Park

A planned overhaul to Marthaler Park in West St. Paul will feature a brand new design, with an improved sledding hill, modern bathrooms and new playground equipment.

The improvements will cost about $2.1 million, said Dave Schletty, the city’s assistant parks and recreation director. The work could begin in 2022 and be completed in 2024.

Improvements for Marthaler Park have been ongoing for some time, Schletty said. The city started working with WSB, a Minneapolis based design and consulting firm, in the mid-2010s, but was held up because the recent Robert Street development cost more than anticipated. Now the plan is to move ahead in three phrases.

“Instead of waiting three years where we could have full funding, we’d rather start,” Schletty said. “With the help of our consultant, we felt like it would be doable and fine to break it into phases.”

  • Phase 1: In 2022, demolish parking lots and put in new ones. The city may also put in a paved trail connecting a parking lot to the River-to-River Greenway Trail.
  • Phase 2: In 2023, improvements will be focused on the central portion, including the playground, picnic area and possibly the bathrooms.
  • Phase 3: In 2024, focus on pond cleanup and the park’s sledding hill.
Rendering for the Marthaler Park in West St. Paul with details on upgrades planned through 2024. (Rendering made by WSB. Courtesy of Dave Schletty)

The city has held public meetings and collected comment cards from residents. Officials have also been working with the Marthaler Park Neighborhood Group, an informal group formed after a shooting at the park to help take care of it.

Carol Keyes-Ferrer, a member of the Marthaler Park Neighborhood Group, said that she wants to see trash and security improve in the park. She looks forward to increased lighting in the park.

“I’m glad that they’re keeping the basketball court and keeping the tennis courts because we see those used a lot,” Keyes-Ferrer said.

Plans for Marthaler Park are not final. The parks department will have a table at the West St. Paul open house on Thursday and will take any questions and suggestions for Marthaler Park. The gathering is located at the city’s Municipal Center, which is across the street from the park.

Schletty encourages residents to contact the city and share ideas.

“I’ve been with the city 20 years, so about the time I started was when we were first talking about (Marthaler Park) improvements,” Schletty said. “To actually see it finally coming together, I’m really, really excited.”

OPEN HOUSE

West St. Paul will host a free Open House at its Municipal Center, 1616 Humboldt Ave. with live music, kids games, police and ire demonstrations, free food and more. The event will run from 4 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 23.

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‘Scared to death’ Vermont advocates rally for emergency housing

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‘Scared to death’ Vermont advocates rally for emergency housing

Posted: Updated:

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WFFF) — An 84-day extension of emergency housing benefits is set to expire for more than 540 Vermont households this week. Vermont Legal Aid (VLA) and housing advocates are asking the state for more time.

“Most of us are afraid for our lives, the winter itself,” said 24-year-old motel voucher participant Randy Tatro. “If you’re homeless in the winter, and you can’t end up in centers—People will freeze to death.”

April Metcalf, a participant in the voucher program, says she’s lived in several different motels in Central Vermont throughout the pandemic. “It’s just really hard. I’m scared to death, and I’m sure everybody else is,” she said. “When Thursday comes, what are we going do to?”

In a letter to the Department for Children and Families, VLA and shelter providers are asking the department to extend the benefits “for as long as possible, dictated only by room availability,” for 543 households. VLA staff attorney Mairead O’Reilly said that with COVID cases rising due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, ending the benefits doesn’t make sense. “When the legislature approved the administration’s plan to offer benefits for only 84 days, the circumstances were really different,” she said.

Rick DeAngelis, executive director of the Good Samaritan Haven in Barre, said that without an extension, 50 to 75 people in Washington County, Vermont, will lose housing. He said the state should take advantage of the recent decision by FEMA to extend a 100% cost-share through the end of the year. “In this period of uncertainty and crisis, why wouldn’t you use that funding to provide support and protection?” he asked.

The advocates’ letter also points out that while the state is investing in affordable housing and additional shelters, the units won’t be ready in time. Another Way, a drop-in site in Montpelier, is supplying camping gear—tarps, tents, sleeping bags, and meals—to those in need.

However, Ken Russell, executive director of the site, says it’s a temporary fix. “We’re helping them get stable emotionally to the best of our ability,” he said. “But this feels like pulling the rug out from underneath the motel system. These are human beings we’re talking about, here. These are people who are not outside just because of moral failings, they’re in life crisis.”

Metcalf says she’s hoping and praying for more support from Gov. Phil Scott and his administration. “What do they expect us to do?” she said. “Really.”

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Missouri’s abortion law in federal court; focus on Down syndrome diagnosis

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Missouri’s abortion law in federal court; focus on Down syndrome diagnosis

ST. LOUIS – Missouri could join Texas with one of the strictest abortion laws in the country if a federal court of appeals rules in the state’s favor.

Back in 2019, the Missouri General Assembly passed a bill banning abortions after eight weeks or if the mother receives a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis. A day before the law was set to go into effect, a federal judge blocked the measure, and it has been an ongoing legal fight since. A rare move Tuesday as all 11 members of a federal court of appeals heard the case.

“Today, we argued that every single life matters,” Attorney General Eric Schmitt said. “We are hopeful that we are on the right side of this issue, and we are going to continue to fight for those most vulnerable among us.”

Just days after lawmakers passed the legislation, Gov. Mike Parson signed the bill which does not allow exemptions for rape or incest survivors. But the focus in Tuesday’s hearing wasn’t how long a woman has to get an abortion. Instead, it was about a mother receiving a Down syndrome diagnosis.

“People who are pregnant, regardless of why they are choosing to have an abortion should be able to have that care here in the state of Missouri,” Chief Medical Officer for Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region Dr. Colleen McNicholas said. “Pregnant folks who are facing an abortion in the context of having a diagnosis of a fetal anomaly, a genetic diagnosis, whether it’s Down syndrome or any other diagnosis, are facing a real traumatic decision.”

Earlier this summer, a three-judge panel from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the law, but after the June decision, the court made a rare move and decided in July to re-hear the case before all the judges.

Schmitt said the focus was on the Down syndrome piece because that’s a relatively new issue for the courts.

“I think that every individual deserves the right to live their life and pursue happiness including those with Down syndrome,” Schmitt said. “This is modern-day eugenics, this is discriminating to the most extreme level of the elimination of an entire class of people because of a trait.”

During a press conference after the hearing, Schmitt, citing a 2019 dissent from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana & Kentucky, Inc.), claimed roughly 70% of babies in the U.S. are aborted due to a Down syndrome diagnosis.

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block a law in Texas that bans abortions as early as six weeks, allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone who participates. This law makes Texas the most restrictive state in the country for abortions.

“I would say that Missouri is on the list of many states who are on the verge of losing access to abortion and so last week Texas, this week, Missouri,” McNicholas said.

McNicholas said it’s not a decision the state should make for women who are pregnant.

“Anti-abortion groups and legislators have longed tried to find wedge issues to push people to anti-abortion stances but our stance, my stance, the stance of the patients I care for, everyone has a unique situation,” McNicholas said.

Planned Parenthood in the Central West End in St. Louis is Missouri’s only abortion clinic. The Show-Me State is one of five states across the country that only has one clinic. McNicholas said whatever the ruling is, they won’t close their doors.

“This is a public health matter, it is basic healthcare and we will continue to fight for people to have access to that,” McNicholas said.

Under the Missouri law passed back in 2019, physicians who perform abortions after eight weeks could face anywhere from five to 15 years in prison but the woman who made the decision to have the abortion would not be charged. Anyone who participates in an abortion after the knowledge of a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis could be charged with civil penalties which could include the loss of a medical license.

Currently in Missouri, a woman can have an abortion up to 22 weeks. The number of abortions in Missouri per year has decreased significantly over the years in the past decade. According to the Department of Health and Senior Services, the state recorded 6,163 abortions in 2010, but only 46 in 2020.

Here is the list of abortions per year in the last decade:

2010 – 6,163
2011 – 5,772
2012 – 5,624
2013 – 5,416
2014 – 5,060
2015 – 4,765
2016 – 4,562
2017 – 3,903
2018 – 2,911
2019 – 1,368
2020 – 46

Schmitt said he does not know when the court will rule but is hoping for a quick decision.

The hearing in St. Louis comes less than three months before the country’s highest court is expected to hear arguments for a Mississippi law that challenges the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which establishes abortion as a protected right.

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Officials: Many Haitian migrants are being released in US

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Officials: Many Haitian migrants are being released in US

By ELLIOT SPAGAT, MARIA VERZA and JUAN A. LOZANO

DEL RIO, Texas (AP) — Many Haitian migrants camped in a small Texas border town are being released in the United States, two U.S. officials said Tuesday, undercutting the Biden administration’s public statements that the thousands in the camp faced immediate expulsion.

Haitians have been freed on a “very, very large scale” in recent days, according to one U.S. official who put the figure in the thousands. The official, with direct knowledge of operations who was not authorized to discuss the matter and thus spoke on condition of anonymity

Many have been released with notices to appear at an immigration office within 60 days, an outcome that requires less processing time from Border Patrol agents than ordering an appearance in immigration court and points to the speed at which authorities are moving, the official said.

The Homeland Security Department has been busing Haitians from Del Rio to El Paso, Laredo and Rio Grande Valley along the Texas border, and this week added flights to Tucson, Arizona, the official said. They are processed by the Border Patrol at those locations.

A second U.S. official, also with direct knowledge and speaking on the condition of anonymity, said large numbers of Haitians were being processed under immigration laws and not being placed on expulsion flights to Haiti that started Sunday. The official couldn’t be more specific about how many.

U.S. authorities scrambled in recent days for buses to Tucson but resorted to flights when they couldn’t find enough transportation contractors, both officials said. Coast Guard planes took Haitians from Del Rio to El Paso.

The releases in the U.S. were occurring despite the signaling of a massive effort to expel Haitians on flights to Haiti under pandemic-related authority that denies migrants an opportunity to seek asylum. A third U.S. official not authorized to discuss operations said there were seven daily flights to Haiti planned starting Wednesday.

Accounts of wide-scale releases – some observed at the Del Rio bus station by Associated Press journalists – are at odds with statements a day earlier by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who traveled to Del Rio to promise swift action.

“If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned, your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life,” he said at a Monday news conference.

The releases come amid a quick effort to empty the camp under a bridge that, according to some estimates, held more than 14,000 people over the weekend in a town of 35,000 people. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, during a visit Tuesday to Del Rio, said the county’s top official told him the most recent tally at the camp was about 8,600 migrants.

The criteria for deciding who is flown to Haiti and who is released in the U.S. was unclear, but two U.S. officials said single adults were the priority for expulsion flights.

The Homeland Security Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Mexico has begun busing and flying Haitian migrants away from the U.S. border, authorities said Tuesday, signaling a new level of support for the United States as the camp presented President Joe Biden with a humanitarian and increasingly political challenge.

The White House is facing sharp bipartisan condemnation. Republicans say Biden administration policies led Haitians to believe they would get asylum. Democrats are expressing outrage after images went viral this week of Border Patrol agents on horseback using aggressive tactics against the migrants.

Mexico has helped at key moments before. It intensified patrols to stop unaccompanied Central American children from reaching the Texas border in 2014, allowed tens of thousands of asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration courts in 2019 and, just last month, began deporting Central American migrants to Guatemala after the Biden administration flew them to southern Mexico.

Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign relations secretary, said Tuesday he had spoken with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, about the Haitians’ situation. Ebrard said most of the Haitians already had refugee status in Chile or Brazil and weren’t seeking it in Mexico.

“What they are asking for is to be allowed to pass freely through Mexico to the United States,” Ebrard said.

Two Mexican federal officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, confirmed Mexico’s actions.

One of the officials said three busloads of migrants left Acuña on Tuesday morning for Piedras Negras, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) down the border, where they boarded a flight to the southern city of Villahermosa in the state of Tabasco.

The other official said there was a flight Monday from the northern city of Monterrey to the southern city of Tapachula near the Guatemala border. Tapachula is home to the largest immigrant detention center in Latin America. The flight carried about 100 migrants who had been picked up around the bus station in Monterrey, a hub for various routes north to the U.S. border.

The second official said the plan was to move to Tapachula all Haitians who already solicited asylum in Mexico.

The Haitian migrants who are already in Mexico’s detention centers and have not requested asylum will be the first to be flown directly to Haiti once Mexico begins those flights, according to the official.

Around Ciudad Acuña, Mexican authorities were stepping up efforts to move migrants away from the border. There were detentions overnight by immigration agents and raids on hotels known to house migrants.

“All of a sudden they knocked on the door and (yelled) ‘immigration,’ ‘police,’ as if they were looking for drug traffickers,” said Freddy Registre, a 37-year-old Venezuelan staying at one hotel with his Haitian wife, Vedette Dollard. The couple was surprised at midnight.

Authorities took four people plus others who were outside the hotel, he said. “They took our telephones to investigate and took us to the immigration offices, took our photos,” Registre said. They were held overnight but finally were given their phones back and released. Authorities gave them two options: leave Mexico or return to Tapachula.

On Tuesday afternoon, they decided to leave town. They bought tickets for a bus ride to the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, planning to continue to Tapachula where they had already applied for asylum.

Others left without being told. Small groups arrived at Ciudad Acuña’s bus station to buy tickets to Veracruz, Monterrey and Mexico City. The same bus lines prohibited from selling them tickets for rides north through Mexico, sold them tickets to head south without issue.

In Haiti, dozens of migrants upset about being deported from the U.S. tried to rush back into a plane that landed Tuesday afternoon in Port-au-Prince as they yelled at authorities. A security guard closed the plane door in time as some deportees began throwing rocks and shoes at the plane. Several of them lost their belongings in the scuffle as police arrived. The group was disembarking from one of three flights scheduled for the day.

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Verza reported from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, and Spagat from San Diego. Associated Press writers Mark Stevenson in Mexico City, Felix Marquez in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Evens Sanon from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Michael Balsamo in Washington, Michael R. Sisak in New York and Tammy Webber in Fenton, Michigan, also contributed to this report.

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Follow AP’s coverage of migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

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