The Washington Post
The national suicide hotline is changing to 988 starting Saturday
The nationwide hotline for mental health emergencies switches to a simple 988 number on Saturday, a transition that is expected to bring millions more calls, chats and texts into a system where readiness to handle the surge varies from place to place.
At the same time, advocates hope the renewed focus on emergency assistance, and the spending that has accompanied it, will prompt expansion of other mental health services that are in desperately short supply in many communities.
“I look at 988 as a starting place where we can really reimagine mental health care,” said Hannah Wesolowski, chief advocacy officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a nationwide grass-roots group. “We’re really looking at a fundamental tide shift in how we respond to people in mental health crisis.”
Secret Service deleted texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, after watchdog sought records
The Secret Service deleted text messages from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, after an internal watchdog requested them as part of a review of the department’s handling of last year’s Capitol riot, the watchdog said this week.
A letter sent Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General to the heads of the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees, which was obtained by ABC News, said the messages were deleted “as part of a device-replacement program” despite the inspector general requesting such communications.
A judge once again declined to delay Steve Bannon's trial for contempt of Congress
Judge Carl Nichols said that he was “hopeful” they would be able to find a jury that hadn’t been paying close attention to the Jan. 6 committee hearings and didn't know much about Bannon and would be able to fairly decide the case. […]
"We're still going to be at trial on Monday," Nichols said.
Bannon was indicted last year for refusing to answer questions from the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Los Angeles Times
Stunning spread of COVID subvariants brings high-risk summer to California
California’s summer is being complicated by a dizzying array of Omicron subvariants that have emerged over the last several months.
The most dominant nationwide is BA.5, which officials say is not only highly contagious, but has increased the risk of coronavirus reinfection — perhaps just weeks after an earlier case.
According to federal estimates, BA.5 comprised 65% of the nation’s coronavirus cases over the weeklong period ending Saturday, an astonishing climb from a month ago, when it made up 17% of cases.
In response to Trump, senators agree to clarify vice president's role in electoral certification
Senators from both parties have reached an agreement to clarify that the vice president only has a ceremonial role in overseeing the certification of the electoral results, according to two Senate sources, the first legislative response to … Donald Trump's pressure campaign to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
The agreement will be part of a larger deal to overhaul the Electoral Count Act, which a bipartisan group of senators plans to unveil as soon as next week. The effort was spawned by Trump's effort to get Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence to disregard now-President Joe Biden's electoral win and install him into a second term, with senators looking to make it harder to do that future.
State abortion bans prevent women from getting essential medication
Annie England Noblin, a 40-year-old resident of rural Missouri, had never had a problem filling her monthly prescription for methotrexate until this week.
On Monday, Noblin's pharmacist said she could not give her the drug until she had confirmed with Noblin's doctor that the medication would not be used to induce an abortion.
Missouri now bans nearly all abortions and methotrexate can be used to end a pregnancy. It also happens to be one of the first medicines prescribed by doctors to treat rheumatoid arthritis, which affects more than one million Americans. […]
"It's infuriating," Noblin said. "It made me feel I couldn't be trusted with the medication prescribed to me simply because I have a uterus."
National Right to Life official: 10-year-old should have had baby
The 10-year-old Ohio girl who crossed state lines to receive an abortion in Indiana should have carried her pregnancy to term and would be required to do so under a model law written for state legislatures considering more restrictive abortion measures, according to the general counsel for the National Right to Life.
Jim Bopp, an Indiana lawyer who authored the model legislation in advance of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, told POLITICO on Thursday that his law only provides exceptions when the pregnant person’s life is in danger.
“She would have had the baby, and as many women who have had babies as a result of rape, we would hope that she would understand the reason and ultimately the benefit of having the child,” Bopp said in a phone interview on Thursday.
Texas AG Paxton sues Biden administration over abortion guidance to doctors
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued in federal court seeking to overturn guidance from the Biden administration that advised medical professionals that women are entitled emergency abortions under federal law if medically necessary, even if doing so goes against state law.
Earlier this week, Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services sent a letter to medical practitioners around the country about a 1985 federal law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.
As front-line health care providers, that federal statute “protects your clinical judgment and the action that you take to provide stabilizing medical treatment to your pregnant patients, regardless of the restrictions in the state where you practice,” the guidance reads. The law says that only doctors can determine what the correct medical care is, according to the Biden administration’s interpretation, and, “Any state laws or mandates that employ a more restrictive definition of an emergency medical condition are preempted.”
Doctor who provided abortion care for 10-year-old rape victim to be investigated by Indiana AG
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita says his office plans to investigate a doctor who provided care for a 10-year-old rape victim who crossed state lines to have an abortion.
Dr Caitlin Bernard, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Indiana, told news outlets earlier this month that she was contacted by a colleague in Ohio seeking help for their 10-year-old patient three days after the state banned abortion in the wake of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision. […]
Mr Rokita told Fox News … “We’re gathering the evidence as we speak, and we’re going to fight this to the end, including looking at her licensure if she failed to report. And in Indiana it’s a crime … to intentionally not report,” Rokita told Fox News host Jesse Watters on Wednesday.
GOP Sen. James Lankford Blocks Bill Protecting Right To Interstate Travel For Abortion
Democratic legislation that would protect the right to travel freely from state to state to seek abortion care was blocked in the Senate on Thursday by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).
Lankford, who supports instituting a national ban on abortion, dismissed it as unnecessary and objected to a unanimous consent request from Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.). […]
7 governor’s races that could hinge on abortion politics
[…] As has been the case in many national races, GOP gubernatorial candidates have generally been less vocal about their stance on abortion than their Democratic opponents. But Democrats and their allies have been working to put abortion front and center in races for governorships, which represent a key bulwark against further state restrictions on abortion.
Though things could change by November, abortion rights currently seem to be galvanizing voters nationally. […]
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A new reality: Georgia Democrats keep money advantage over GOP
[…] Financial disclosures released within the past week reinforce views of the new political landscape. With the most expensive midterm election in Georgia history underway, top Democrats are racing to expand their extensive donor networks in hopes of overcoming a tough political climate.
One of the Senate’s premier fundraisers, Warnock raised $17.2 million between April and June… And with $22.2 million in cash on hand, Warnock has more than three times as much money in the bank as his GOP rival.
Abrams amassed more than $22 million over a two-month span and ended with $18.5 million in her campaign accounts. That’s about $11 million more than Kemp reported in his coffers despite the governor’s head start.
The Kyiv Independent
22 people killed, over 90 injured in Russian missile attack on downtown Vinnytsia
A Russian missile strike hit the city of Vinnytsia in central Ukraine on July 14. According to Deputy Head of the President's Office Kyrylo Tymoshenko, as of 5:00 p.m., 22 people have been killed, including three children. Out of the total killed, only six have been identified and 39 people are still missing, National Police Chief Ihor Klymenko said.
Tymoshenko said the missiles were Kalibr cruise missiles launched from a Russian submarine located in the Black Sea. […]
"Every day, Russia destroys the civilian population, kills Ukrainian children, and directs rockets at civilian buildings, where there are no military facilities," said President Volodymyr Zelensky in a response to the Vinnytsia missile attack. "What is this, if not an open act of terrorism? (Russia) is a country murderer, a terrorist country."
Two-thirds of Ukraine refugees plan to stay put for now, according to UNHCR Access to the comments
Around two-thirds of refugees from Ukraine expect to stay in their host countries until hostilities subside and the security situation improves after Russia's invasion, a survey by the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR has found. The survey was conducted between mid-May and mid-June.
Most of the refugees from Ukraine, mainly women and children, hope to return home eventually, according to the survey of around 4,900 people from Ukraine now living in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. […]
UNHCR says more than 5.6 million refugees are now recorded across Europe, with nearly 8.8 million people crossing out of Ukraine and nearly 3.3 million crossing back in since the Russian invasion on Feb. 24.
EU expects Russia's invasion of Ukraine to push inflation to record high
Inflation in the eurozone is predicted to jump to "historical highs" of 7.6% due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the European Commission said in a new forecast published on Thursday. […]
"Russia's war against Ukraine continues to cast a long shadow over Europe and our economy," said EU Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis.
The war has caused food and energy prices to surge in Europe as countries scramble to deal with sanctions and disruptions to key infrastructure.
Long lines are back at US food banks as inflation hits high
Long lines are back at food banks around the U.S. as working Americans overwhelmed by inflation turn to handouts to help feed their families. […]
Inflation in the U.S. is at a 40-year high and gas prices have been surging since April 2020, with the average cost nationwide briefly hitting $5 a gallon in June. Rapidly rising rents and an end to federal COVID-19 relief have also taken a financial toll. […]
The surge in food prices comes after state governments ended COVID-19 disaster declarations that temporarily allowed increased benefits under SNAP, the federal food stamp program covering some 40 million Americans .
There's a massive housing shortage across the U.S.
[...] Home prices are up more than 30% over the past couple of years, making homeownership unaffordable for millions of Americans. Rents are rising sharply too. The biggest culprit is this historic housing shortage. Strong demand and low supply mean higher prices.
Part of the problem goes back to the last housing crash, which happened around 2008. After that, many homebuilders went out of business, and economists say we didn't build enough for a decade.
Biden Calls Inflation Numbers ‘Out of Date.’ Americans Disagree
President Joe Biden is risking a disconnect with the American public, playing down inflation readings that have sown discontent with his handling of the US economy and unsettled a Federal Reserve his team says is key to taming prices.
The US saw the largest increase in consumer prices in more than 40 years last month, data showed Wednesday. Biden and his top economic advisers fanned out to say that the “unacceptably high” 9.1% annual inflation rate was “out of date” because it did not reflect the easing of gas prices since mid-June.
Fed officials took it differently. Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester said she had “not seen any convincing evidence that inflation has turned the corner.” And Fed Board member Christopher Waller called the consumer-price index report a “major league disappointment.”
And there’s no relief in sight for Americans who’ve been seeing their real incomes dropping for more than a year now.
South China Morning Post
Chinese ‘superiority’ keeps its inflation low, economic planner boasts as US prices keep rising
With consumer prices continuing their skyward trajectory in the United States, reaching a nearly 41-year high, China is becoming increasingly vigilant and wary of “uncertain and unstable factors” that could affect its own prices in the second half of the year.
The warning on Thursday, from the country’s top economic planning agency, came after Premier Li Keqiang flagged “imported inflation” at a symposium where China’s economic situation was discussed with economists and entrepreneurs, according to state media reports. [...]
His view echoed that of Zou Lan, head of monetary policy at the People’s Bank of China, who warned on Wednesday that considerable economic uncertainties and instability would remain over the coming six months. […]
He credited the “superiority” of China’s political system for the “significantly lower” rise in prices than other major economies endured during in the January-June period.
Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa submits resignation after arriving in Singapore
Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa turned in his resignation on Thursday after he arrived in Singapore, marking the partial end of a crisis that led thousands of protesters into the streets to demand his departure.
The resignation letter was emailed to Parliamentary Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, officials said. Some were left to speculate earlier on Thursday when Rajapaksa missed the deadline to submit the letter. […]
Protesters stormed the offices of Prime Minister and Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday after Rajapaksa fled. Some reports said that he waited to submit his resignation until he was safely out of Sri Lanka to avoid possible arrest.
Italian PM Mario Draghi offers resignation after coalition falls apart
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has tendered his resignation after populist coalition partner Five Star withdrew its support in a confidence vote.
The former head of the European Central Bank has led a unity government since February 2021. In a statement, he said the pact of trust that had sustained the unity government had gone. However, the president refused to accept his resignation. […]
The extraordinary developments in Rome capped a day of drama triggered when Five Star leader Giuseppe Conte refused to back the government's €23bn (£19.5bn) package of economic aid for families and businesses, arguing Mr Draghi was not doing enough to tackle the cost of living crisis.
'Everything is dry': The droughts putting Kenya's herding cultures at risk
Kenya’s remote Marsabit County, in the far north near the border with Ethiopia, is the land of pastoralists. Even in the heat of the midday sun, the smooth tarmac roads are regularly interrupted by meandering goats, cattle or camels passing by.
The region has been dubbed the "Cradle of Mankind" – Kenya has more fossil human species remains than anywhere else in Africa – yet the intensely unforgiving and parched environment means life here has never been easy.
But as East Africa faces a debilitating succession of droughts, the worst in 40 years, the region’s resilient communities are being pushed to their limits.
The Dallas Morning News
Biden won’t commit to confronting Saudi Arabia over journalist’s murder
President Joe Biden on Thursday would not commit to confronting the leaders of Saudi Arabia later this week over the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“I always bring up human rights, but my position on Khashoggi has been so clear, if anyone doesn’t understand it in Saudi Arabia — or anywhere else — they haven’t been around,” Biden said at a news conference in Jerusalem.
Biden had pledged during the 2020 election to make Saudi Arabia an international “pariah” over the killing, believed to have been ordered by Saudi leaders, as well as other human rights abuses. But he argued Thursday that it is essential to reengage with the longtime ally to avoid creating a leadership vacuum in the Middle East. Biden, who travels to Saudi Arabia on Friday to meet leaders of that country and others in the region, argued that China and Russia would fill that void if the United States fails.
The Denver Post
Judge issues arrest warrant for Tina Peters after indicted clerk left the state
A Mesa County District Court judge agreed Thursday to revoke Tina Peters’ bond and issue a warrant for her arrest after the indicted county clerk left the state without permission from the court, but her lawyer says it was an oversight.
District Attorney Dan Rubinstein filed a motion asking Judge Matthew Barrett to do away with Peters’ $25,000 cash bond after receiving a notarized letter Wednesday that Peters had sent to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office — the notary crossed out “Colorado” on the letter and instead wrote “Nevada” and listed “Clark” as the county. […]
Peters, the … election denier who ran in the GOP primary for secretary of state, came in last but rejected the results of the race on June 28. H
The Buffalo News
27-count federal grand jury indictment reveals arsenal of accused Tops shooter
A 27-count grand jury indictment returned Thursday revealed the arsenal of the accused white supremacist shooter in the Tops Markets attack May 14 that killed 10 and wounded three others.
Thirteen of the indictment's 27 counts involved using a firearm to commit hate crimes, and the 12-page document revealed the weapons and ammunition law enforcement seized from suspect Payton Gendron's Ford Taurus at the Tops shooting as well as from two addresses in his Broome County hometown of Conklin.
The indictment detailed three guns and a 21-item list of magazines, clips, ammunition and gun accessories. More than half were recovered from the shooting scene at 1275 Jefferson Ave. and the rest from the Binghamton-area addresses.
Pa., N.J., and Del. among 16 states suing USPS over lack of electric vehicles
U.S. Postal trucks travel to every town, back country road, suburban cul-de-sac, and city street in the country, delivering cards, bills, and packages. With all their stopping and starting, they also emit tons of climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions, along with dangerous air pollutants that contribute to ozone and cause health impacts like asthma.
Advocates say the USPS fleet of delivery trucks is perfect for conversion to electric vehicles, which would be in line with state and federal climate goals. But citing costs, the Postal Service’s plan to replace about 165,000 of the current gas guzzling delivery trucks includes just a fraction of EVs.
Sixteen states — including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware — are now suing USPS over the plan. The Postal Service’s move has angered Democratic members of Congress, climate activists, and postal workers themselves.
The New York Times
Why Woodpeckers Don’t Mind Hitting Trees With Their Faces
Watching a woodpecker repeatedly smash its face into a tree, it’s hard not to wonder how its brain stays intact.
For years, the prevailing theory has been that structures in and around a woodpecker’s skull absorb the shocks created during pecking. “Blogs and information panels at zoos all present this as fact — that shock absorption is occurring in woodpeckers,” said Sam Van Wassenbergh, a biologist at the University of Antwerp. Woodpeckers have even inspired the engineering of shock-absorbing materials and gear, like football helmets.
But now, after analyzing high-speed footage of woodpeckers in action, Dr. Van Wassenbergh and colleagues are challenging this long-held belief. They discovered that woodpeckers are not absorbing shocks during pecking and they likely aren’t being concussed by using their heads like hammers. Their work was published in Current Biology on Thursday.