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Biden signs bill to help veterans exposed to toxic burning stoves

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Biden Signs Bill To Help Veterans Exposed To Toxic Burning Stoves
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WASHINGTON — President Biden on Wednesday signed into law a bill that extends medical benefits to veterans who were exposed to toxins from burning trash pits on military bases, ending a years-long quest for support by veterans and their families.

The question is deeply personal for the president, who has long speculated that his son Beau developed brain cancer due to exposure to fire pits while serving in Iraq as a member of the Delaware National Guard. Before signing the legislation, Mr. Biden described the lingering effects of the exposures.

“Toxic smoke, thick with poisons, wafting through the air and into the lungs of our troops,” he said. “When they came home, many of the fittest and best warriors we sent to war weren’t the same. Headaches, numbness, dizziness, cancer. My son, Beau, was the one of them.

In a ceremony packed with veterans and their families in the East Room of the White House, Biden called the new law progress toward fulfilling “a sacred obligation” to those who have stood up for the nation and their families. The law passed despite a last-minute delay by Republican senators, who blocked its passage but backed down after a backlash.

“This is the most important law our country has ever passed to help millions of veterans who are exposed to toxic substances during their military service,” Mr. Biden said, adding minutes later: “This law is long overdue and we finally got it together.

The legislation addresses the effects some veterans have suffered after sleeping and working near large fires on military bases where waste – including tires, jet fuel, chemicals and other equipment – ​​has been burned, creating large clouds of smoke. Research suggests that toxins in smoke may be responsible for a range of ailments suffered by veterans, including cancer, bronchial asthma, allergic rhinitis, sleep apnea, bronchitis and sinusitis.

The new law, known as the PACT Act, makes it easier for veterans who believe they were exposed to toxins while on duty to apply for medical benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The act creates a $280 billion federal funding stream, making it one of the largest veterans benefit expansions in American history.

In his remarks, Mr Biden praised the many years of work by family members and activists, singling out Jon Stewart, the comedian, for his impassioned and sometimes angry demands that politicians pass the bill.

“What you’ve done, Jon, matters, and you know it,” Mr. Biden told Mr. Stewart, who was in the room for the signing ceremony. “You should know. This is really, really important. You refused to let anyone forget. Refused to let them forget, and we owe you a lot, man.

Mr Stewart, who has been pushing for the bill for years, was particularly vocal last month, when Republican senators abruptly refused to back the measure, fearing it was structured to create a new expensive law. The legislation had passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, and Republican senators who opposed it had expressed strong support just weeks earlier.

Appearing on CNN after Republicans blocked the bill, Mr Stewart was livid, helping to spark an intense backlash that led to the bill’s final passage days later.

“I’m used to lies. I’m used to hypocrisy. I’m used to their cowardice,” Mr Stewart told Jake Tapper on CNN’s ‘The Lead’. “I’m not used to cruelty, occasional cruelty.”

In his remarks on Wednesday, Mr. Biden did not mention the Republican filibuster. Instead, he focused on the bipartisan nature of the deal, citing its passage as proof that he has delivered on his promise to bridge ideological divides in the nation’s capital to get things done.

“I don’t want to hear the press telling me that Democrats and Republicans can’t work together,” he said. “We did it, and we did it together.”

Danielle Robinson, wife of Sgt. Heath Robinson, who died of lung cancer after serving in Iraq, spent years leading the fight for new veterans’ benefits. The law is named after her husband.

In her own remarks to the White House, Ms Robinson described how her husband developed cancer a decade after returning from combat. She thanked Mr. Biden and other activists for pushing lawmakers to pass legislation that will make it easier to access medical treatment and benefits after similar exposures.

“So many veterans still struggle with burn heart disease today,” she said. “Too many people have also succumbed to these diseases. And I’m honored to be with the father of another military family who understands the ultimate sacrifice as we do – our Commander-in-Chief, President Joe Biden.

Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015.

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The 10 least popular US states to move to in 2022

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A recently released report, moveBuddha, a relocation technology company, ranked the least popular states to move to in 2022.

The 2022 Mid-Year Migration Report used data collected from January 1 to July 5, 2022, through the company’s moving expense calculator.

moveBuddha compared the influx to the influx of people from state to state to see which places are gaining new residents and which are losing their current population.

1st least popular state to move to in 2022: New Jersey

Input-output ratio: 0.50

New Jersey tops the list of least popular states. According to the report, the Garden State is losing the most residents to those moving in.

Residents of the East Coast state pay the highest property taxes in the country, which may explain the population loss.

The other two states that make up the New York metropolitan area — New York and Connecticut — are experiencing similar challenges to New Jersey.

The two made the list of states whose people are leaving more than they are moving in, or no. 4 and no. 5 on the list respectively.

The 10 least popular states to move to in 2022:

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Pat Leonard: NFL, players’ union, Dolphins medical staff all failed Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa

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Pat Leonard: Nfl, Players’ Union, Dolphins Medical Staff All Failed Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa
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Tua Tagovailoa shouldn’t have been on the field Thursday night. Loopholes in the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and players’ union allowed the Miami Dolphins’ medical staff to clear him and create the frightening situation that unfolded in front of the entire nation.

“The problem isn’t necessarily that the protocol wasn’t being followed,” said Miami-based attorney Brad Sohn, a candidate with some player support to become the NFLPA’s next executive director. “It’s that they have these toothless rules and no one’s being held accountable. The league and P.A. codified a protocol that has loopholes big enough to drive a truck through.”

The central question — and the reason the union launched an investigation for a potential protocol violation immediately — is why Tagovailoa was cleared mid-game from the concussion protocol the previous Sunday during a win over the Buffalo Bills.

The quarterback’s head hit the turf after taking a hit from a Bills defender. Tagovailoa immediately raised his hands towards his head, with the fingers on his left hand looking a bit strange.

Then he stood up and tried to shake it off, he stumbled, lost his balance, and had his knees buckle underneath him. Teammates had to hold him up on his feet until trainers came out.

Tagovailoa was taken to the locker room and announced as questionable to return with a “head” injury. But he later returned to the game, and the team clarified he had injuries to his “back” and “ankle.”

“Ninety-nine percent of doctors who don’t work for the team see Tua shake off the cobwebs, wobble, have to be held up, and that player never goes back in,” neuroscientist Chris Nowinski, Ph.D., the founding CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, told the Daily News Saturday.

So how was it possible to bring him back into the game, especially with an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) involved?

Well, the NFL’s concussion game checklist says in the fine print that a players’ “gross motor instability” is “determined by [the] team physician, in consultation with the UNC, to be neurologically caused.”

In other words, Sohn said, “a team doctor can make the finding that an injury wasn’t neurologically caused, that it’s a player’s knee and not his head, and the independent neurologist no longer needs to be consulted. And the PA agreed to that.”

Indeed, the full CBA language says that “the decision to return a player to participation remains within the professional judgment of the head team physician or team physician designated for concussion evaluation and treatment, performed in accordance with these protocols.” And all return participation decisions only need to be “confirmed” by the independent neurologist.

The investigation hopefully will reveal the facts about how this decision was made. NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills promised all findings would be released to the public.

But when NFL executive VP of communications Jeff Miller said Wednesday that “every indication from our perspective is that [the protocol] was” followed, unaffiliated professionals weren’t buying it.

“It was a series of bad choices that gave Tua a serious brain injury,” Nowinski said. “I could accept if last Sunday was a mistake in the game. But to pretend it wasn’t a mistake the rest of the week shows a callousness with player health that I feel like I haven’t seen in a while.”

“Sometimes the cover-up is worse than the crime,” Nowinski added. “But I feel like the crime is very bad and the cover-up is becoming worse.”

The fact is that Tagovailoa demonstrated at least three “potential concussion signs,” as defined in the CBA, after that Bills hit:

1. Slow to get up following a hit to the head (‘hit to the head’ may include secondary contact with the playing surface)

2. Motor coordinator/balance problems (stumbles, trips/falls, slow/labored movement)

3. Clutching of head after contact

If Tagovailoa’s left hand indicates upon review that he was also in a brief “fencing” posture, that would make it four potential concussion signs. “Balance or coordination difficulties” are also listed as a “potential concussion symptom.”

The difference between signs and symptoms are signs are things you can observe with your eyes, and symptoms are what a player reports to the doctors or tests reveal.

The Dolphins QB was administered the required tests before being cleared to return to the Bills game, according to Sills, and subsequently tested throughout the week. But Nowinski said the league’s preference to lean on these back-room tests is part of the problem, too.

“This is a tactic the NFL has used for years,” he said. “The NFL is trying to make concussion evaluation about the locker room protocol or blue tent protocol. And what trumps those things is on-field signs. But the NFL doesn’t want that because they want the wiggle room of ‘he sobered up and passed the known-to-be-not-fully-accurate concussion test.’”

Returning Tagovailoa to play after unquestionably demonstrating those signs and that symptom was egregious. Thankfully, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh stood up and blasted the Dolphins on Friday to make clear that people in the clear do not believe this is OK.

“Like probably most people, I couldn’t believe what I saw [Thursday] night. I couldn’t believe what I saw last Sunday,” Harbaugh said. “It was just something that was astonishing to see. I’ve been coaching for almost 40 years in college and the NFL, and I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Harbaugh said the Ravens exercise extreme caution. A couple weeks ago, wide receiver Devin Duvernay didn’t have any symptoms at all but Baltimore held him out for the following game and most of the week’s practice.

“I appreciate our docs,” he said. “I think they probably would call themselves conservative, but that’s what they should be. The other part of it, [Thursday] night, was not something you want to see.”

Giants tackle Evan Neal, Tagovailoa’s Alabama teammate in 2019, told The News he turned the Dolphins-Bengals game off after seeing Tagovailoa go into the “fencing” posture with his hands up in front of his face and his fingers twisted.

“I couldn’t watch it anymore,” Neal said. “It was tough to see him carted off like that. It was scary. At first I thought he broke his fingers or something. But I watched the play more and saw that he hit his head. That’s scary. Thankfully he’s responsive, he’s conscious, he can move his limbs.”

Giants coach Brian Daboll, Tagovailoa’s 2017 offensive coordinator at Alabama, started to tear up on Friday when asked about the Dolphins QB.

“He means a lot to me,” Daboll said. “It was tough … I don’t really think about them as players. They’re not too far off from my kids [in age].”

JC Tretter, the NFLPA’s recently-retired player president, said players are “outraged” and “scared for the safety of one of our brothers” after seeing a player cleared from the protocol despite clear demonstration of “no-go” symptoms.

Like Sohn, Tretter advocated for amending protocols, not just reviewing this case.

“Until we have an objective and validated method of diagnosing brain injury, we have to do everything possible, including amending protocols, to further reduce the potential of human error,” Tretter wrote. “A failure in medical judgment is a failure of the protocols when it comes to the well being of our players.”

Unfortunately, the union is part of the problem because there aren’t enough checks and balances to protect the players in the CBA the union signed off on.

Nowinski said in the union’s defense, though, the sad reality for players is that they’re also afraid of concussion diagnoses because it attaches a stigma. And plenty of players have had their careers ended because they were deemed untouchable by teams due to concussion histories.

“It can be worse to be out when you’re healthy than to play when you’re concussed,” Nowinski said of the mindset unfortunately adopted by plenty of players fighting for jobs.

Sohn boiled down the need for reform this way: “There are so many short-term interests that run the risk of being prioritized over health. Tua to his credit is probably a tough kid who wants to get out there and play football. But you need to police guys from making bad short-term decisions. The same is true with the team doctor. The same is true with the league.”

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Jeremy Lin’s stereotype-busting run with Knicks the focus of new HBO doc ‘38 at the Garden’

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Jeremy Lin’s Stereotype-Busting Run With Knicks The Focus Of New Hbo Doc ‘38 At The Garden’
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Frank Chi had trekked from Washington D.C. to witness Linsanity, the basketball phenomena that connected deeply with the Asian-American filmmaker.

Scalpers outside Madison Square Garden had other ideas.

“They were trying to charge $700 at the door,” Chi recalled. “It was not happening.”

So Chi wandered to a karaoke bar in nearby Koreatown, where he discovered a crowd with similar enthusiasm for Jeremy Lin. Together, as a culture suppressed by stereotypes that should’ve rendered Lin’s confidence and athleticism impossible, they saw the Knicks guard drop 38 points against the Lakers and Kobe Bryant.

“I’m surrounded by people who look like me and it was just two hours of us just losing it. People are crying in their beer. They’re screaming their lungs out. I’m doing all those things too,” Chi said. “And I’m like, ‘What is going on?’ Maybe it’s the wall of stereotypes Asian people feel following them around and then suddenly there’s a cathartic reaction when they see somebody break it on the world stage.”

Chi’s film on Linsanity, “38 at the Garden,” will debut Oct. 18 on HBO as a celebration of those special weeks and an education into the stereotypes that still follow Asian-Americans. Lin recounts his experience as an overlooked D-Leaguer turned overnight sensation, including his humble living arrangements on the tiny couch of teammate Landry Fields. There’s also an anecdote of an unnamed Knicks assistant coach dismissing Lin’s game as that of a “Japanese cartoon character.” But the implications of Linsanity to other Asian-Americans are the meat of the 38-minute documentary, with comedian Hasan Minhaj providing the most poignant and colorful analysis.

“Jeremy was not going to do a movie about Linsanity just recounting it and what happened on the court, even if it’s 10 year later. That’s not something I was interested in making and neither was Jeremy,” said Chi, who also worked on the 2018 documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “We wanted to make something that took the story and put it in the context of the people who freaked out about it the most.”

It’s also heavier a decade later. The COVID-19 pandemic amplified anti-Asian sentiment in the United States, with former President Donald Trump stoking the hatred with his “Chinese Flu” and “Kung Flu” references. It fed into a rise in violence against Asian-Americans, including a mass shooting last year at a spa in Atlanta.

“We get to stereotypes that follow Asian people all the time, especially when you’re weak and submissive,” Chi said. “What happens when all those stereotypes get weaponized like during COVID? That’s anti-Asian violence.”

Lin’s story is not only about overcoming the emasculating stereotypes attached to Asians, but also how they almost kept him out of the NBA. He was a star in high school but received zero recruiting letters. He was a star at Harvard but never close to getting drafted. Chi said the pre-draft scouting reports on Lin “read like a lintany of anti-Asian stereotypes: passes the ball too much, lacks confidence in his shot.”

“Linsanity is a product of people underestimating him his whole life,” added Chi. “Jeremy is the greatest example Asian Americans have of someone who has this wall of stereotypes and is trying to crush them. He found every single crack in that wall and kept pushing, and pushing and pushing.”

The peak of Linsanity only lasted 10 days in 2012, with the Lakers game neatly situated in the middle. The ensuing months were a mess with accusations of Carmelo Anthony’s jealousy to questions about the severity of Lin’s knee injury to James Dolan’s refusal to match the Rockets’ contract offer. But that aftermath isn’t explored in “38 at the Garden,” which is more interested in contextualizing the gravity of Linsanity through the people it inspired.

Chi said the idea started through a conversation with fellow producer Travon Free. They were trying to find comparisons to Barack Obama’s election as the first Black president, “when society at large assigns a stereotype to a group of people saying you can’t do something. And someone comes out of nowhere and shatters it.

“So we were like what other moments feel like that,” Chi said, “and I said, ‘Look, I’m Asian, and I only have one answer for that — Linsanity.’”

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Minnesota bear harvest down 33% from this time last year

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Minnesota Bear Harvest Down 33% From This Time Last Year
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Bear hunters in Minnesota are having a tougher time of it this year than recent seasons thanks to ample wild food like berries and acorns in the woods, according to Minnesota Department to Natural Resources wildlife officials.

The bear season started Sept. 1, and, as of Sept. 26, hunters had registered 1,857 bears. That’s down 33 percent from the 2021 harvest of 2,770 at the same time.

The season runs through Oct. 16, but the vast majority of bears are harvested in the first few weeks of the season, so it’s not likely the harvest will go up much more.

The 1,857 bears killed so far is down 35 percent from the recent peak of 2,992 at this point in 2020 and 2,146 in 2019 and is the lowest harvest since 2018, when 1,537 bears had been registered at this time.

When berries, acorns, hazelnuts and other natural foods are abundant like this year, bears are less likely to visit hunter bait piles, leading to fewer opportunities for hunters to shoot, DNR officials said. Last year’s harvest was likely up because the severe drought vastly reduced natural foods in the woods, sending bears scurrying to find human sources of food, be it hunters’ bait or Northland residents’ garbage cans.

“It’s the natural food abundance that’s bringing that harvest total down,” said Dan Stark, large carnivore specialist for the DNR. “There’s a lot of food in the woods this year in most places.”

Stark noted that the overall number of bear hunting permits available in the quota zones of the state were nearly the same as last year, with a few less permits in the north and a few more to the south. Overall, including the no quota or unlimited license area in central Minnesota, about 200 fewer licenses have been sold this year than in 2021.

Andre Tri, the DNR’s bear project leader, said that well-fed sow bears should go into their winter dens in great shape and come out with a good number of cubs next spring.

“There are still lots of chokecherries, dogwood berries and acorns out on the landscape,” Tri said. “This will be a good winter for cub production indeed.”

Stark said it’s too early to tell how this year’s reduced harvest will impact the number of permits available in 2023. Those numbers will be crunched over the winter with a decision by spring.

Bear hunting in Minnesota is bucking a long-term trend by drawing more participants over the past decade even as other forms of hunting have declined in popularity.

Last year, 24,698 people applied for a quota-area bear hunting license in Minnesota, up 11 percent over 22,279 applicants in 2020 and up a whopping 57 percent since 2009.

Overall, including the unlimited, or “no quota,” bear range in the state, 8,990 bear hunting licenses were sold in 2021, up nearly 37 percent from 6,589 in 2013. Over that same time, Minnesota deer hunting license sales fell by about 12 percent.

The increase in bear hunting interest comes as the state’s bear population has slowly increased as well, from an estimated modern low point of 12,995 in 2013 to 15,247 in 2021.

The recent high numbers for both bears and bear hunters still remain below the historic high levels from the turn of the century when, in 2000, Minnesota had an estimated 18,268 bears and the DNR was trying to bring the population down, with bears expanding into farm field regions and causing trouble across their range. That year, a record 19,304 hunting licenses were sold and hunters bagged 3,898 bears, with nearly 5,000 killed in 2001.

The bear population then crashed due to the high hunter harvest, which is by far the highest cause of bear mortality. For the past decade, DNR wildlife biologists have been trying to walk a line between having enough bears to make the public and hunters happy, but not too many bears that they become a widespread nuisance to farmers and cabin owners.

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Readers and writers: As summer becomes fall, 8 kid-worthy books to help ease the transition

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Readers And Writers: As Summer Becomes Fall, 8 Kid-Worthy Books To Help Ease The Transition
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Days are shorter, the kids are going to bed earlier. To ease the transition from summer, we found kid-worthy fiction and non-fiction that will feed their imaginations and their minds during bedtime reading and cuddles.

FICTION (picture books)

Be Good, Peanut Butter” by Nicole Helget, illustrated by Erin McClean (River Horse Children’s Books, $18.99)

Minnesotan Helget, author of books for children and adults, is a manuscript coach and consultant who lives on a farm in southern Minnesota. Peanut Butter is a dog who finds himself alone for the first time when his family rushes out the door for the first day of school. Bored and curious, he sneaks out of the house in search of adventure, encountering new animals, exploring new places, smelling new smells. He even makes a friend. When he realizes the day is almost over, he must race home before the kids get there and find out he hasn’t been a good dog. Illustrator McClean, who lives in Northern Ireland, loves drawing cute, energetic characters and incorporating bright colors and traditional textures into her work. (Publication Oct. 4)

“Finding Bunny” by Renee Bolla, illustrations by Jess Bircham (Independently published, $16.99)

Nothing creates more drama in a household than a child who’s lost a stuffed animal. Elle loves her best friend, Bunny, but when Mom leaves and Dad is in charge, Bunny is nowhere to be found. Just when Elle’s tears begin, Mom comes home and takes Bunny out of the washing machine. This is a charming story that every kid who loves a stuffy can relate to. The illustrations are clean and simple, suited for little ones. Minneapolis-based Bolla left her career as a retail executive (most recently at Target) to follow her dream of becoming a self-published author. She’s writing books for her three daughters, each unique for the girl’s personality and real-life experiences. “Finding Bunny” is her debut.

“Saving the Night” story by David Hietpas, written by Matty Caron, illustrated by Bill Tierney (BookBaby, $32.99 hardcover)

Matty Caron, who grew up in St. Paul, tells the story of a young Prince who’s afraid of the dark and shares his adventures with a mushroom, a daisy, an eagle and a wolf, all of whom depend on the dark to thrive. It’s a story told to the debut author by his late friend, David Hietpas, 30 years ago. It’s a slightly complicated story for the littlest ones, but those past kindergarten should enjoy it. Bill Tierney’s paintings are almost like photographs and make for a very pretty book.

“Sprinkles” by Allison Wood, illustrated by Samuel Waddle (Independently published, $20.99 hardcover, $10.99 paperback)

Julia and her dad take a walk to the bakery on a beautiful day to get doughnuts before Grandma comes to visit. The baker lets Julia pick one just for herself and she chooses “the pretty, pink, super-sprinkly” one. At home, she eats her treat and there are sprinkles everywhere, even on her cat. Just in time, she and her dad clean up, and when Grandma arrives she’s carrying a big box of doughnuts — with sprinkles. Wood is an elementary English Learner teacher at St. Paul Public Schools. Waddle’s playful illustrations complement the light-hearted text.

SOME WITH A MESSAGE

Minneapolis-based Free Spirit Publishing is an imprint of Teacher Create Materials and the leading publisher of learning tools that support young peoples’ social, emotional, and educational needs. Three Free Spirit books published this year ($14.99-$16.99) fulfill this mission.

“You Wonder All the Time,” written by child-development expert Deborah Farmer Kris and illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin, is the newest addition to the All the Time series. Drawing on questions from real kids (Where do colors go at night?), the book is written from the perspective of an adult speaking to a child, helping young children know they are deserving of love through life’s ups and downs.

“Sometimes When I’m Bored” by award-winning psychologist Deborah Serani, illustrated by Kyra Teis, adds to Free Spirit’s Sometimes When collection with this answer to that complaint, “I am bored.” The text describes a child’s experiences with boredom and loneliness and, along with the main character, young children learn how to recognize boredom and see opportunities for imaginative play or new activities.

“We Accept No” by Lydia Bowers, illustrated by Isabel Munoz, is the fourth book in the We Say What’s Okay series.

Book Jacket For &Quot;We Accept No.&Quot;This one teaches respect for personal boundaries, following Jamin, who is upset when his friend Zakiya doesn’t want to share a “great big extra-squeezy hug” at the end of the day. Parents and teachers can use the story to teach why accepting “no” for an answer is important, what kids can do with their sad and angry feelings, and what they can do when someone doesn’t want a hug.

Another Minneapolis-based publisher, Beaming Books, has a similar title, “Hattie Hates Hugs” ($17.99), in which a little girl attending a family reunion wants to play horseshoes with her aunt and uncle but older relatives keep hugging her.

Book Jacket For &Quot;Hattie Hates Hugs&Quot;Her stomach “squirms” when she’s hugged, and finally Great-Grandma helps her use clear body language —  a raised hand — to indicate no more hugs. She asserts her right to consent or refuse physical touch — and she even wins at horseshoes.

Written by Sara Hovorka, illustrated by Heather Brockman Lee. Beaming Books is an imprint of 1517 Media, dedicated to helping children thrive emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

“Be A Bridge” by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Nabila Adani (Carolrhoda Books,$19.99), focuses on two children who go to school eager to find ways they can be a bridge to others.

Book Jacket For &Quot;Be A Bridge&Quot;They greet a new student, and kindness ripples through the class. Students invite classmates to join in at music, they speak up when another classmate teased and they listen respectfully when someone else is speaking. They comfort a friend when things go wrong. The day ends with an art project that builds connections between students and their community. At the back of the book is a Bridge Builder’s Pledge, as well as Bridge Builder activities and more books for building bridges.

The author and illustrator’s pervious collaboration was “Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship.”

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Soucheray: Nobody thought to ask, where are the hungry children?

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Where are the hungry children? Who are they?

More importantly, have the hospitals been overrun with malnourished children? The Feeding Our Future food fraud scam, currently standing at the theft of $250 million of our money, making it the largest scam of its type in the country, was supposed to feed all these supposedly hungry kids.

Tens of thousands of kids, come on, tens of thousands. FOF just kept getting the checks until it got too big to ignore. And yet, not one word of curiosity was spoken, not one printed word or broadcast word. Not one bit of bureaucratic oversight to wonder who exactly were all these starving kids.

The money starts at the United States Department of Agriculture. They get calls all the time, or petitions or applications or whatever means is used to pretend the petitioner is being responsible.

“Hi, USDA?”

“Yes.”

“This is the Minnesota Department of Education calling. We need, oh, we don’t know, about $25 million to start. We need to fund a program that is feeding our hungry Minnesota children.”

“OK.”

It got all the way up to $250 million. The alleged ringleader, somebody named Aimee Bock, apparently got her dough through kickbacks from all the alleged Somali co-conspirators who suddenly and supposedly owned restaurants that were supposed to be feeding sites, not to mention alleged co-conspirators who were suddenly flashing jewelry and driving expensive cars. The fraud might still be raking it in but a Somali activist took a video of one of Bock’s employees at a wedding in January where one of the gifts was a large amount of gold that the activist, according to the Star Tribune, said he heard came from food vendors who were getting rich from the money they collected from Bock’s nonprofit, FOF. He blew a whistle. The FBI became involved.

The government said they had to keep quiet about it so the fraudsters didn’t get wind of the FBI’s involvement. Keep quiet about it for almost a year. OK.

Yes, there are many questions, the most telling among them, is there really this much government incompetence? Nobody wondered about the children, who were they, where they were. No mayor or city council member tried to take credit for this wonderful new program that was supposed to be saving our children from hunger. No photo-ops.

And all the while, tens of millions of dollars are pouring in?

Strange.

Plus, this is Minnesota, not Yemen, where children are truly starving. We feed children in schools, churches, park and rec programs and neighborhood coalitions. We have food banks and food shelves and food drop-off sites.

We might be a passive-aggressive lot of us and our politics are unfortunately and essentially one-sided and too terribly expensive, but we will not let a child go hungry. We would be horrified to see a child with a distended belly and we would do something about it.

So why then, when this new outfit sprang up out of whole cloth, taking advantage of relaxed USDA red tape rules during the pandemic, were no questions asked? And will anybody at USDA or MDE be disciplined, fired, receive at least a stern talking to?

Maybe this happens all over the country.

Thank goodness the IRS will hire 87,000 new agents to check up on us, the people who actually do feed children.

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