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Opinion: For Colorado’s Jewish community, praying in peace means confronting anti-Semitism

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Texas rabbi says he, 2 hostages escaped synagogue standoff

We are deeply grateful that Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and three congregants at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas were able to escape safely after being taken hostage during last Saturday’s worship services. This attack against a sacred community in the middle of Sabbath services should be shocking to all people who share the bedrock principle that all of us, no matter our religion, should be allowed to pray free from fear.

The trauma caused by the perpetrator of this heinous act extended far beyond the small congregation in Colleyville. It added to the concerns of Jews in Colorado and around the country that such a horrific event could happen in their synagogues. While the hostage-taker’s focus may have been on the release of a convicted terrorist with links to Al Qaeda, he did not choose a library, shopping mall or church to try to leverage his ask; he chose a synagogue. This was an act of antisemitism, plain and clear.

Antisemitism has reached a high-water mark in the United States. Unfortunately, being on edge and hypervigilant is very much a part of the American Jewish experience. We saw it in the aftermath of the rally in Charlottesville in 2017 when white supremacists chanted “Jews shall not replace us” while marching with their tiki torches across the University of Virginia campus; the deadly shootings at synagogues in Pittsburgh in 2018 and Poway in 2019, and the subsequent attacks on Jewish targets in Jersey City, New Jersey and Monsey, New York.

In 2020, 2,024 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism in the United States were reported to the Anti-Defamation League, the third-highest year for incidents against American Jews since ADL started tracking such data in 1979. In Colorado, there were 60 antisemitic incidents reported in 2020, just one less than the high set in 2019. A 2021 ADL poll found that well over half of Jewish Americans have either experienced or directly witnessed some form of an antisemitic incident in the last five years.

So, when The Denver Post failed last Sunday to give prominent attention to the taking of hostages at gunpoint during worship services in Colleyville, it was painful. The story was relegated to the “Briefs” section on page 13, a section that included a story about the value of superstar Prince’s estate. We recognize that print deadlines may have passed, but steps should have been taken so that this terrible event was not made to appear less relevant than the primary story on page 2 about the “Nasal Ranger,” a machine that detects smells.

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78,000 pounds of infant formula arrives in US

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78,000 pounds of infant formula arrives in US

By MICHAEL CONROY

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Enough specialty infant formula for more than half a million baby bottles arrived Sunday in Indianapolis.

The formula, weighing 78,000 pounds (35,380 kilograms), was being transported by military plane, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One as President Joe Biden flew from South Korea to Japan.

It is the first of several flights carrying infant formula from Europe expected this weekend to relieve the deepening shortage in the U.S. The flights were authorized by Biden.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in Indianapolis to greet the arrival of the first shipment in Indianapolis.

The Biden administration — which has struggled to address a nationwide shortage of formula, particularly hypoallergenic varieties — has dubbed the effort “Operation Fly Formula.” The crisis follows the closure of the nation’s largest domestic manufacturing plant in Michigan in February due to safety issues.

The White House has said 132 pallets of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula was to leave Ramstein Air Base in Germany for the U.S. Another 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula were expected to arrive in the coming days. Altogether, about 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of the three formulas, which are hypoallergenic for children with cow’s milk protein allergy, are expected to arrive this week.

Indianapolis was chosen because it is a Nestle distribution hub. The formula will be offloaded into FedEx semitractor-trailers and taken to a Nestle distribution center about a mile away where the company will do a standard quality control check before distributing the supplies to hospitals, pharmacies and doctor’s offices, according to an administration official on site.

Air Force planes are transporting the initial batch of formula because no commercial flights were available this weekend.

The flight was the first of several to provide “some incremental relief in the coming days” as the government works on a more lasting response to the shortage, Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, said Sunday.

Reese told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Sunday’s flight brought 15% of the specialty medical grade formula needed in the U.S., and because of various actions by the government, people should see “more formula in stores starting as early as this week.”

Longer term, he said, the U.S. needs more formula providers “so that no individual company has this much control over supply chains.”

Under “Operation Fly Formula,” the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services are authorized to request Department of Defense support to pick up overseas infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards, so it can get to store shelves faster, according to the USDA.

Alfamino is primarily available through hospitals and home health care companies that serve patients at home.

U.S. regulators and the manufacturer, Abbott Nutrition, hope to have its Michigan plant reopened next week, but it will take about two months before product is ready for delivery. The Food and Drug Administration this week eased importation requirements for baby formula to try to ease the supply crunch, which has left store shelves void of some brands and some retailers rationing supply for parents nervous about feeding their children.

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WHO chief: The COVID pandemic is ‘most certainly not over’

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WHO chief: The COVID pandemic is ‘most certainly not over’

BERLIN (AP) — The COVID-19 pandemic is “most certainly not over,” the head of the World Health Organization warned Sunday, despite a decline in reported cases since the peak of the omicron wave. He told governments that “we lower our guard at our peril.”

The U.N. health agency’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told officials gathered in Geneva for opening of the WHO’s annual meeting that “declining testing and sequencing means we are blinding ourselves to the evolution of the virus.” He also noted that almost 1 billion people in lower-income countries still haven’t been vaccinated.

In a weekly report Thursday on the global situation, WHO said the number of new COVID-19 cases appears to have stabilized after weeks of decline since late March, while the overall number of weekly deaths dropped.

While there has been progress, with 60% of the world’s population vaccinated, “it’s not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere,” Tedros said.

“Reported cases are increasing in almost 70 countries in all regions, and this in a world in which testing rates have plummeted,” he added.

Reported deaths are rising in Africa, the continent with the lowest vaccination coverage, he said, and only 57 countries — almost all of them wealthy — have vaccinated 70% of their people.

While the world’s vaccine supply has improved, there is “insufficient political commitment to roll out vaccines” in some countries, gaps in “operational or financial capacity” in others, he said.

“In all, we see vaccine hesitancy driven by misinformation and disinformation,” Tedros said. “The pandemic will not magically disappear, but we can end it.”

Tedros is expected to be appointed for a second five-year term this week at the World Health Assembly, the annual meeting of the WHO’s member countries.

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Wisconsin couple kills bear that attacked them in their home

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Ravens kicker Justin Tucker’s record-breaking kick honored as NFL’s Best Moment of the Year

MEDFORD, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin couple say they killed a bear that attacked them inside their home after they spotted it eating from their bird feeder.

The Taylor County Sheriff’s office said the attack happened around 11 p.m. Friday at a home near Medford in north-central Wisconsin. The couple told authorities that the bear charged through a window after they yelled at it to go away.

Both the husband and wife were injured before they were able to stab the bear with a kitchen knife. Eventually, the man was able to grab a firearm and kill the animal.

The man and woman were treated at a hospital for several bites and other injuries before being released. The couple’s children were asleep in their bedrooms at the time and were not injured.

The sheriff’s office said the bear was an adult female, and one cub was seen running off as the bear ran toward the home. State wildlife officials took the bear for testing. Authorities have not specified what kind of bear it was.

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