Drinking Tea Regularly Linked To ‘Longer And Healthier Life’, Research Finds

Tea drinkers unite: apparently drinking the hot beverage at least three times a week is linked with a longer and healthier life.

Now, before you say it, this isn’t just some tea-loving millennial trying to profess my love for the drink (disclaimer: I don’t even like it, sorry not sorry) with some made-up research.

Nope, actual scientists have found it to be true, with new research finding habitual consumption of tea is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and improved health.

girl drinking cup of teaPixabay

The findings have been reported in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, with scientists examining 100,902 Chinese adults who had no previous history of heart attack, stroke or cancer.

Information on tea consumption was collected through standardised questionnaires, with participants then being categorised into two groups: regular tea drinkers, who drank it three or more times a week; and never or non-habitual tea drinkers, who drank it less than three times a week.

The research spanned 22 years, with the participants being studied in 15 provinces across China since 1998, although each participant was only followed for an average of 7.3 years.

cup of teaPixabay

The researchers found habitual tea drinkers had a 20% lower risk of heart disease and stroke compared to those who never or rarely drank tea. In addition, those who drank tea regularly had 1.41 years longer being atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease-free, and their life expectancy was 1.26 years longer at the index age of 50 years.

In simple terms, tea consumption was linked to a reduced risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality, especially among those consistent habitual tea drinkers.

While the reason for this remains unclear, the researchers suggest it may be down to the polyphenols found in tea – chemicals with antioxidant properties.

Dr Xinyan Wang, one of the authors of the study, said as per The Mirror:

Habitual tea consumption is associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and all-cause death. The favourable health effects are the most robust for green tea and for long-term habitual tea drinkers.

cup of teaPixabay

The researchers do say their findings suggest there is a difference in effect with different types of tea, with green tea being the most popular blend in this study.

Of the habitual tea drinkers, 49% drank green tea, 43% preferred scented or other teas, and 8% opted for black tea.

Well, if you’ll all just excuse me while I go and stick the kettle on.

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‘Like a furnace’: Australia to see hottest day ever with 50C forecast as devastating bushfires rage

A “once in a lifetime” heatwave is set to sweep across Australia over the coming days, making almost the entire country “like a furnace” with temperatures on course to break records.

Highs of over 50C are expected, with meteorologists warning the heat could break the country’s existing record of 50.7C measured at Oodnadatta, South Australia, in 1960.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has said people in the south can expect back-to-back days of 49 and 50 degrees in some remote regions for Wednesday and Thursday.

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Diana Eadie, a bureau forecaster, told The Sydney Morning Herald a weak pressure pattern had allowed heat to build, while the late arrival of the monsoon over northern Australia had contributed to the build-up of the “very warm air mass” that would start to move south.

The bureau has weather warnings in place for almost the entire country, with fire warnings issued in Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. 

Dr Adam Morgan, a forecaster at the bureau said high temperatures were already marking the beginning of “an exceptional week that’s likely to break numerous December and all-time temperature records across the country. They may even approach or exceed Australia’s warmest day on record, which currently stands at a nationwide average maximum of 40.3C, set on 17 January 2013.”

The warnings come as parts of Australia are being scorched by enormous bushfires that have already destroyed hundreds of homes. 

A bushfire on Gospers Mountain, northwest of Sydney, which has spread to cover more than 400,000 hectares, has been upgraded to an “emergency” situation.

There are also numerous smaller fires burning in the vicinity, all of which have created a “public health emergency” in Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, where air pollution has reached levels as much as 11 times higher than the threshold to be classified as “hazardous”.

In Western Australia, firefighters are battling three major bushfires burning an area of more than 20,000 hectares. Two of the fires are threatening lives and homes.

And worse fires are expected as the heat and wind pick up later in the week.

Since September, six people have died in a bushfire crisis that has engulfed the east of the country (Reuters)

“We’re expecting heatwave conditions to be increasing through the week,” Tom Boeck, a senior forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology​, told the ABC.

“With that, there will obviously be increasing fire danger … probably peaking towards the later part of the week with winds also increasing and that’ll be ahead of a change.”

The country’s prime minister has been accused of “deafening silence” over the issue of climate change, over which Australia has a conspicuously poor record, and which scientists have said has contributed to the likelihood and severity of heatwaves around the world.

According to the ABC, when pressed on the subject, Mr Morrison and his office have repeatedly pointed to a comment he made on 21 November when he said in an interview: “I mean, in February, I acknowledged the contribution of those factors to what was happening in Australia, amongst many other issues.”

In the last 100 years, heatwaves have killed more people in Australia than bushfires, earthquakes, floods and severe storms combined, news.com.au notes

Last year was the hottest on record for most of the states in the country, with major heatwaves in December and January.

Blistering heat is not unusual during summers in the west of the country but this season has escalated much earlier than usual. 

Heatwaves are now becoming more common, getting hotter and lasting longer. Scientists have said Australia could be facing a “dangerous new normal”, and residents in affected areas are calling for a new approach from authorities.

Squad member blames Jersey City shootings on “white supremacy”. The shooters were black.

Here we go again.

A sitting member of Congress has once again made it clear that she has no business as an American leader – let alone even having an audience of nearly a million followers to spew nonsense and false truths to.

This week, a police officer and three additional civilians became victims after two members of a black supremacist group known as the Black Hebrew Israelites went on a rampage in Jersey City. 

And just two days later, Rashida Tlaib took to her social media soapbox to spread lies and misinformation, blaming the attacks on “white supremacy”.

Confirmed photos of the Jersey City shooters have been released. David Anderson & Francine Graham were followers of the black nationalist, anti-Semitic sect, the Black Hebrew Israelites. They killed one officer before launching an attack at the kosher market that killed 3 more. pic.twitter.com/gFCFS8riBm

— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) December 12, 2019

“This is heartbreaking. White supremacy kills.” Tlaib’s tweet read.

Twitter Screenshot

It didn’t take long for outraged members of the law enforcement community to take notice. Rob O’Donnell, frequent contributor for LET and retired officer, fired back at Tlaib for her blatantly false spread of information.

Tlaib quickly deleted her tweet, but not before we were able to secure a few screenshots for proof.

@RashidaTlaib is a sitting member of Congress who blames the Jersey City siege killing 3 victims & a Police Officer on “white supremacy”, when it was Black Hebrew Israelites (a black supremest group) with a history of hating Police & the Jewish Community. This woman is a disgrace pic.twitter.com/xDoHPzcvoy

— Rob O’Donnell (@odonnell_r) December 12, 2019

Tlaib’s original tweet was reposting the names of the victims who were killed in the tragic “war zone”-like gun battle that took place in a kosher market on Tuesday. 

Our guess is that she saw a picture of the victim and assumed he was one of the suspects. We deserve better from our elected leaders. Can you really not take a few minutes to research a topic before blindly spewing false information to hundreds of thousands of Americans?

It’s a blatant case showing that Tlaib is more concerned with pushing a narrative instead of investigating facts. She doesn’t exactly have a stellar track record when it comes to members of law enforcement. 

And Rep. Tlaib wasn’t the only one to royally screw up when it came to the details of the shooting. 

Talk show host Joy Behar also blamed the slaughter on white nationalism while appearing on the daytime television show, The View.

“Yes. You will concede that the nationals — these white nationalists have been let out of their holes,” she said while speaking with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

And while Christie didn’t exactly call her out about her error, he steered the conversation in a more broad overview of the dangers we’re facing as a country.

“Listen,” Christie said. “It’s an awful, divisive time when you are allowing folks to be able to express these kind of views, no matter who they are, no matter what the ethnic, religious bias they have. That’s got no place in this country, never has, and we, all of us who feel that way, need to be speaking out against it and drown their voices out.”

USA Today reported about the motivation behind the killings. 

“We believe the suspects held views that reflected hatred of the Jewish people as well as law enforcement,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said at a press briefing.

According to the Hudson County Prosecutors, the incident, described as a “shootout,” lasted for at least an hour along a major road in Jersey City. A number of agencies responded to the scene, including local police, including a SWAT team, state police and federal agents. A spokesman for the A.T.F. said the agency was treating the incident as an “active shooter” situation as of 1:45 p.m. Witnesses in the area described the incident as a “war zone.”

Former NYPD Commissioner and Brothers Before Others member Bernie Kerik spoke with Law Enforcement Today about his police officer son’s role in taking out the armed suspects.

“I could not be more proud of not only my son, but the Jersey City detectives that were with him when they killed the suspects, as well as every first responder involved.”

Joe and Bernie Kerik (Provided to LET)

Kerik’s son Joe is a police officer in Newark and a member of a federal task force, according to sources.

During the gunbattle, Joe Kerik and a number of other officers smashed open the door of the bodega in an armored vehicle and stormed the shop, shooting and killing the suspects inside.

At Jersey City Medical Center with my son Joe… he’s okay by Prayers for the Jersey City Police and their fallen officer. 🙏🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

— Bernard B. Kerik (@BernardKerik) December 10, 2019

Bernie Kerik asked for prayers during the difficult time for the fallen officer.

“My prayers go out to the family of Detective Joseph Seals,” he said.

The area where the shooting occurred is a commercial district, and beside the school, has stores, a kosher supermarket and a hair stylist. It lies adjacent to a residential district.

Sgt. Marjorie Jordan risked everything entering the line of fire to pull her partner to safety after he was shot in the shoulder. (Social Media Screenshot)

Jersey City, New Jersey’s second-largest city, is located just across the Hudson River from New York City.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the men and women of the Jersey City Police Department, especially with the officers shot during this standoff, and with the residents and schoolchildren currently under lockdown. I have every confidence in our law enforcement professionals to ensure the safety of the community and resolve this situation.”

A steady stream of gunshots could be heard in the vicinity just before 2 p.m. For over an hour, loud exchanges of gunfire could be heard in the Greenville neighborhood of Jersey City. Police and media helicopters circled the scene as police officers filled the streets.

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Police fanned out in every direction as they went door to door getting residents and business owners out of harm’s way to safety.  

Jersey City resident James Scott said he was nearby when he heard gunfire.

“I was on the corner of Martin Luther King. Next thing you know there was shots fired. We all ducked to the ground. I got out of here,” he said.

Residents who were cleared from their homes watched from behind a barricade as SWAT officers, bomb squads and heavily armed police officers filled the neighborhood.

“I heard this constant shooting, and it kept going on for about 15 minutes,” said Willy McDonald, age 67. He said that by the time he got outside, there were police everywhere. “There had to be at least 8 of them,” he said.

McDonald continued, “This is one of the biggest gunfights I’ve seen in a while. And I’ve been in Vietnam.”

The New Jersey State PBA, in a tweet said, “We need a lot of prayers right now for Jersey City officers. Keep all those involved in your thoughts.”

This is Det Joe Seals who was killed in the line of duty today! He was a husband and father of 5. He is a #Hero and died protecting the citizens of Jersey City! God Bless his family and all of the JCPD members! #JerseyCityShooting @JCPoliceDept pic.twitter.com/pvs62bb0af

— NJ Chiefs of Police (@NJSACOP) December 10, 2019

O’Donnell commented about the sacrifices made by cops every single day.

“This is what the American police officer does day in and day out to protect themselves, each other, and the communities they serve,” he told LET. “This is what America needs to see, not the false rhetoric and narratives of those wishing to keep us divided.”


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Britain is in grips of scarlet fever: outbreak with 480 children infected last week | Daily Mail Online

Britain is in the grips of a scarlet fever outbreak as hundreds of cases of the disease have been recorded across England and Wales in recent weeks.

The infectious disease, which was most prominent in the Victorian era, is largely a childhood affliction seen in those aged between two and eight. 

The historically dangerous fever is far less serious in the modern day as the disease, characterised by a bright red rash and a sore throat, can be treated with antibiotics. 

Despite this, hundreds of cases of the infectious disease have been reported across England and Wales in recent weeks, the Mirror reported. 

Some 450 cases of scarlet fever were recorded in England and 30 in Wales last week, according to health officials

Some 480 cases of scarlet fever were recorded in the week ending December 1, according to health officials.

The highest number of recent cases were seen across the North West, with 105, Yorkshire and the Humber, with 53, and the East Midlands, where 59 cases were recorded.

Across London, 54 cases of scarlet fever have been recently diagnosed, with another 36 in outer London, according to health officials. 

Last week, between 18 November and 24 November, some 419 cases were recorded nationwide.

This compares to 281 cases across England and Wales which were seen in the week ending November 3. 

It isn’t unusual to see a spike in the number of recorded cases at this time of year as scarlet fever is seasonal, a Public Health England spokesman said.

Since 2014, the number of cases has risen significantly with between 15,000 and 30,000 diagnosed across England each year, Public Health England said. 

Health officials also previously recorded a significant rise from 2013, when 4,366 cases of scarlet fever were seen, to 17,829 three years later.

The historically dangerous scarlet fever is far less serious in the modern day as the disease, characterised by a bright red rash and a sore throat, can be treated by antibiotics

Those will scarlet fever often develop a white coating on the tongue which peels away a few days later

Almost all cases of scarlet fever occur in those under 10, and the disease can be treated with a 10-day course of antibiotics.

Scarlet fever is a highly contagious affliction which is spread by close contact with someone already carrying the bacteria. It can then take up to five days to develop symptoms after exposure.

These symptoms include a high temperature, usually of 38C or above, a sore throat and swollen neck glands. A bright red rash typically develops a few days later. 

Last April, the British Medical Journal noted the rates of scarlet fever in England had reached the highest point for 50 years.

Britain is in grips of scarlet fever: outbreak with 480 children infected last week

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Med students send message with plantation photo: We are our ancestors’ wildest dreams

It wasn’t by chance that more than a dozen black medical students dressed in white coats and posed outside the slave quarters of a Louisiana plantation.

Russell Ledet and classmates from Tulane University planned the trip and photos at the Whitney Plantation in Edgard with the hope that others would be inspired by the images.

“Just thinking about being a black doctor in America. I think more people should see this,” Ledet, 33, told NBC News.

The second-year med student first visited the site with his daughter and a friend last summer and shared the impression it made on him with classmate Sydney Labat and others.

“I came back and talked about it with Sydney and the classmates. I said, ‘We should go in all black and our white coats.’ Everybody was on board,” Ledet said.

On Saturday, 16 members of Tulane’s Student National Medical Association made the trip from New Orleans to the former plantation, which is about 50 miles west.

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“Seeing that many black students in training in one photo was striking. In a place that was dedicated to our ancestors and their struggles,” Labat, 24, said. “We knew this photo was going to make people stop … and really think. I can say for myself, I definitely got emotional throughout this experience.”

Labat shared an image of 15 of the students outside the slave quarters on Twitter that has since gone viral, garnering more than 17,000 retweets and more than 74,000 likes.

“Standing in front of the slave quarters of our ancestors, at The Whitney Plantation, with my medical school classmates. We are truly our ancestors’ wildest dreams,” Labat wrote on Twitter.

Ledet hopes that message gets to those who feel a lack of representation in and out of the classroom.

“There are babies, kids in school right now, and they don’t have these images in their classrooms,” he said. “They don’t have the image of someone black in a white coat. The first thing they see is a white guy.”

“These kids need somebody who looks like them in an image in their classroom,” Ledet said. “When that’s in their mind. That’s where their memories come from. They can be me.”

“You will rarely find an image of black medical students in a classroom, regardless of the makeup of the kids in the classroom,” Ledet said. “That’s our goal now, to get 100,000 of these pictures framed, and put them in classrooms.”

He said a few school boards have already said they’d be supportive of the endeavor.

The dean of Tulane’s medical school is proud of the students and their message.

“These are powerful images. Our students are our greatest strength and we applaud their sense of purpose, community and service,” Dr. Lee Hamm, Tulane University School of Medicine dean and senior vice president, said in a statement to NBC News.

Jeremy Corbyn releases leaked government documents that show Boris Johnson ‘lied about Brexit deal’ | The Independent

Jeremy Corbyn has unveiled new leaked government documents that appear to show Boris Johnson misled the public over the nature of his new Brexit deal with the EU.

Labour says the internal government paper, marked “official sensitive”, warns of new customs checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland – which the government has claimed would not exist. 

Speaking in central London on Friday Mr Corbyn told journalists: “Today I can reveal further hard evidence that Johnson is deliberately misleading the people”.

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He added: “This document is very ominous. There will be other secret reports like this one in every government department that reveal the disastrous impacts of his policies on the safety of the food you eat, on the rights you have at work, on the pollution of the air that we breathe and on the jobs and industries that people work in. These reports exist but the government is hiding them from you because in this election the Conservatives want you to vote blind.”

The leaked document is marked “official sensitive” and appears to originate from the Treasury. It is titled “Unfettered access to the UK internal market” and appears to be an official analysis of the so-called “Northern Ireland protocol” which replaces the backstop negotiated by Theresa May.

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The Labour leader said the document was “fifteen pages that paint a damning picture” of the Brexit deal. He said that page five of the document stated: “There will be customs declarations and security checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain” – which Mr Johnson has repeatedly denied in public.

Mr Corbyn added: “It is there in black and white. It says there will be customs declarations, absolutely clearly, for trade going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.

“The Government cannot rule out regulatory checks, rules of origin checks and animal and public health checks also. For trade going the other way, from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, there will be all of the above plus potentially damaging tariffs.”

The leaked document seems to confirm in the government’s own words what essentially all trade experts say about the Brexit deal with regard to customs, but which Mr Johnson has continued to deny point-blank when asked in public.

At the start of the election campaign, the prime minister was asked in person by Northern Ireland business leaders whether they would be subject to customs declarations.

“You will absolutely  not,” he told them. “If anyone asks you to do that tell them to ring up the Prime Minister and I’ll direct them to put that for in the bin.”

Earlier in the campaign Labour presented separate leaked documents that showed UK negotiators have been repeatedly discussing the National Health Service with US trade officials, despite claims by Boris Johnson that the NHS is not “on the table” in talks.

More follows…

Inside the Cell Where a Sick 16-Year-Old Boy Died in Border Patrol Care — ProPublica

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published.

Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant, was seriously ill when immigration agents put him in a small South Texas holding cell with another sick boy on the afternoon of May 19.

A few hours earlier, a nurse practitioner at the Border Patrol’s dangerously overcrowded processing center in McAllen had diagnosed him with the flu and measured his fever at 103 degrees. She said that he should be checked again in two hours and taken to the emergency room if his condition worsened.

None of that happened. Worried that Carlos might infect other migrants in the teeming McAllen facility, officials moved him to a cell for quarantine at a Border Patrol station in nearby Weslaco.

By the next morning, he was dead.

In a press release that day, Customs and Border Protection’s acting commissioner at the time, John Sanders, called Carlos’ death a “tragic loss.” The agency said that an agent had found Carlos “unresponsive” after checking in on him. Sanders said the Border Patrol was “committed to the health, safety and humane treatment of those in our custody.”

But the record shows that the Border Patrol fell far short of that standard with Carlos. ProPublica has obtained video that documents the 16-year-old’s last hours, and it shows that Border Patrol agents and health care workers at the Weslaco holding facility missed increasingly obvious signs that his condition was perilous.

The cellblock video shows Carlos writhing for at least 25 minutes on the floor and a concrete bench. It shows him staggering to the toilet and collapsing on the floor, where he remained in the same position for the next four and a half hours.

According to a “subject activity log” maintained by the Border Patrol throughout Carlos’ custody, an agent checked on him three times during the early morning hours in which he slipped from unconsciousness to death, but reported nothing alarming about the boy.

The video shows the only way CBP officials could have missed Carlos’ crisis is that they weren’t looking. His agony was apparent, even in grainy black and white, making clear the agent charged with monitoring him failed to perform adequate checks, if he even checked at all. The coroner who performed an autopsy on Carlos said she was told the agent occasionally looked into the cell through the window.

The video makes clear that CBP, the Border Patrol’s parent agency, inaccurately described how Carlos’ body was discovered. Contrary to the agency’s press release, it was Carlos’ cellmate who found him, not agents doing an early morning check. On the video, the cellmate can be seen waking up and groggily walking to the toilet, where Carlos was lying in a pool of blood on the floor. He gestures for help at the cell door. Only then do agents enter the cell and discover that Carlos had died during the night.

Officials with the Department of Homeland Security, which includes CBP, wouldn’t say whether the scenes recorded by the camera during Carlos’ final hours were shown live on video monitors, as is the case in some Border Patrol facilities, and if they were, whether anyone had been assigned to watch the footage.

The video and other records reviewed by ProPublica document numerous missteps in the days leading up to Carlos’ final hours on the floor of Cell 199. Independent medical experts pointed in particular to the decision to send a 16-year-old suffering from the flu to a holding cell rather than a hospital as a pivotal mistake.

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“Why is a teenaged boy in a jail facility at all if he is sick with a transmissible illness? Why isn’t he at a hospital or at a home or clinic where he can get a warm bed, fluids, supervised attention and medical care? He is not a criminal,” said Dr. Judy Melinek, a San Francisco-based forensic pathologist who reviewed records of Carlos’ death at the request of ProPublica. “No one should die this way: vomiting, with a fever and without the comfort of a caregiver.”

A CBP spokesman declined to respond to a series of questions about Carlos’ death, citing an ongoing internal investigation. “While we cannot discuss specific information or details of this investigation, we can tell you that the Department of Homeland Security and this agency are looking into all aspects of this case to ensure all procedures were followed,” CBP spokesperson Matt Leas said.

CBP has refused to release the video and other records of Carlos’ death to the public or Congress, citing the ongoing internal investigation. But using Texas open records laws, ProPublica obtained material from the Weslaco Police Department, which briefly investigated his death. The records included surveillance video, detainee logs and health records turned over to police by Border Patrol.

Interviews and documents illustrate how immigration and child welfare agencies, while grappling with surging migrant numbers, were unable to meet their own guidelines for processing and caring for children. With holding tanks that were never equipped to house migrants for more than a few hours, the Border Patrol was inundated with families and children. Shelters for children, offering beds and medical care, were already packed.

The agency held Carlos for six days, though the agency is supposed to transfer children within 72 hours.

Carlos was the sixth migrant child to die after being detained while entering the U.S. in less than a year. Some died of preexisting illnesses, but at least two others died of the flu diagnosed while in Border Patrol custody. Carlos was the only one to die at a Border Patrol station; the others were taken to medical facilities after falling ill. In the previous decade, not a single migrant child had died in custody.

Carlos’ death prompted changes to require Border Patrol agents to enter the cells of ailing detainees at regular intervals to check on them and take temperatures, according to a source familiar with the fallout.

The DHS inspector general has been investigating the circumstances of Carlos’ death but has not released any findings.

Sanders, the acting head of the agency, resigned soon after the incident. He recently faulted unprepared agencies and an unresponsive Congress for a tragedy that he said was both predictable and preventable.

The deaths of Carlos and other children under his watch continue to haunt him. “I believe the U.S. government could have done more,” he said.

Carlos’ Journey

Carlos left his remote village in central Guatemala in early May. San Jose del Rodeo, home to indigenous Maya, is set in a lush landscape, and the village is a collection of tin-roofed houses and smoky outdoor cooking fires. The valleys below provide most of what little work there is, on farms growing and harvesting corn, coffee beans and sugar cane.

Carlos, the second youngest of eight children, was a standout student at the village school. He was captain of the soccer team and excelled in playing instruments the school had bought by selling raffle tickets. “He played percussion and the bombo and the lyre and the trumpet,” said Jose Morales Pereira, who was Carlos’ teacher. “He always said, ‘Professor, let’s teach everyone else.’ He was my leader.”

Bartoleme Hernandez, Carlos’ father, worked when he could planting corn or clearing land. He wore cut up tires on his feet to save his shoes for Sundays. Money was so tight that Carlos sometimes came to school with no lunch and did weekend farm work and odd jobs to help out, his teacher said.

As children, Carlos and his friends made a game of pretending to cross the border. To reach their imaginary U.S., they scaled a fence, and Carlos always played the one who made it across. The kids used guava leaves as pretend money to send to family back home, recalled a childhood friend who described the game in a Facebook post.

Two dozen or more young friends had traveled to the U.S. before Carlos. Crossing the border typically cost migrants $5,000 to $10,000 for smugglers who offer safe passage through drug cartel territory. Some migrants take out loans to fund their travel; Carlos told his teacher he might work along the way to pay his fees. He had a brother already in the U.S., and he planned to find a construction job.

Starting late last year, smugglers ran express buses up through Mexico to meet demand. A family member said Carlos and his sister traveled by bus for much of their journey. At the Rio Grande on May 13, they wore life vests and crowded onto a rubber raft with a half-dozen others.

Their parents received a video that day — later shared with the media — showing them casting off into the river. The siblings landed near Hidalgo at the southern tip of Texas, part of a group of 70 that was immediately rounded up by border agents.

In custody, Carlos was separated from his adult sister, as required under the law. He was assigned an alien identification number — A203665141 — to help agencies track him. A Border Patrol agent at the warehouselike processing center in McAllen screened Carlos for illness or injury and found none.

Migrants were supposed to be held in CBP centers for no more than three days before being deported, moved to Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers or released pending a hearing. Under a 2008 anti-trafficking law, children and teenagers crossing the border illegally without parents or guardian generally must be placed with the Office of Refugee Resettlement at the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours, except in the case of heavy influx. Then they must be moved out as quickly as possible.

But Carlos had arrived at the peak of the surge, with 144,000 migrants apprehended in May alone. With the overflow crowds, nothing was working as it should have been. HHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were backlogged in transferring children out of CBP custody. In a spot check soon after Carlos died, the DHS inspector general reported that a third of the 2,800 unaccompanied minors in CBP custody in the Rio Grande Valley had been there longer than 72 hours.

Authorities at first questioned whether Carlos was a minor and whether the woman he was traveling with was his sister, according to a CBP source with knowledge of the matter. It took agents 48 hours to determine he was a few weeks shy of his 17th birthday, and the confusion delayed the search for HHS shelter space.

The McAllen facility where Carlos arrived on May 13 was barely fit for habitation. The DHS inspector general visited Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol facilities about a month later, as the number of apprehensions had begun to decline, and found holding pens packed well beyond capacity and other appalling conditions. The inspector general’s urgent alert to management warned that the overcrowding posed “an immediate risk to the health and safety” of both agents and detainees, including through the spread of infectious diseases.

Border Patrol centers were designed to temporarily hold migrants and were not set up for long-term detention, which typically includes medical staff to treat detainees who become ill. The agency had a handful of emergency medical technicians assigned to the centers. In late 2018, it had only 20 medical staffers working under contract along the 2,000-mile Mexican border to monitor the health needs of 50,000 apprehended migrants a month. CBP brought in medics from the Coast Guard and other federal agencies after two children died in custody in December and as the number of border crossers in custody began to approach 100,000 a month.

At the high point of the migrant surge in May, the Border Patrol had custody of 20,000 people a day; its definition of a crisis is 6,000 detainees.

As the surge escalated and Sanders and others pressed for help, the DHS shifted $47 million for additional medical staff to its contract provider, Loyal Source Government Services. (The company did not respond to requests for comment.)

Loyal Source increased its hiring, running a stream of job ads like one seeking EMTs for screenings at the Weslaco Border Patrol station, where Carlos died, that offered full-time, part-time, day, night and weekend shifts.

The prospect of flu outbreaks was a growing concern. The CBP had rejected a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that it vaccinate migrants, saying such a program was impractical and complex. Amid the crowding, Border Patrol agents, trained in law enforcement, had reluctantly stepped into care-taking roles.

If Carlos had made it to an HHS shelter, he likely would have been vaccinated for the flu, a standard procedure in HHS shelters. But when HHS finally found a bed for him, the agency postponed his relocation because he had the flu and was not fit to travel.

Carlos had been detained in McAllen for six days when he reported feeling ill.

At 1 a.m. on May 19, he saw a nurse practitioner and complained of a headache and fever. Tests showed he had type A flu and a 103-degree fever. Nurse practitioner Irasema Gonzalez gave him ibuprofen and Tylenol and ordered Tamiflu, which is a standard treatment for flu symptoms.

Gonzalez’s treatment report also said Carlos should “return to medical office in 2 hrs or sooner” and should be taken to an emergency room if his symptoms persisted or worsened. There is no record of further medical treatment over the next 19 hours in the records obtained by ProPublica. Gonzalez didn’t respond to an inquiry from ProPublica.

Carlos was not sent to an emergency room or other outside medical facility. Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said basic monitoring of Carlos should have provided warnings that he was becoming seriously ill.

“Flu can progress rapidly, but it’s not like a heart attack. Even when fast, it worsens over a period of hours. There should have been signs that indicated he needed to go to the hospital,” Sharfstein said.

Instead, records show he was moved at midday to the smaller Weslaco station, where he could be isolated with other sick detainees.

At 8 p.m. that night, Carlos was given Tamiflu at the Weslaco station by Martha Garcia, a nurse practitioner. Her treatment report didn’t record a temperature or vital signs, leaving it unclear how thoroughly he had been examined. The report said Carlos had no medical complaints and was “in no acute distress.” Garcia didn’t respond to an inquiry from ProPublica.

The Border Patrol’s “subject activity log” from early morning on May 20 shows that Carlos was given a hot meal just after midnight. It is unclear if he was able to keep down any food. Weslaco police reports say that was the last time Border Patrol agents saw him alive.

The video of Cell 199 provided to ProPublica by Weslaco police is split into two parts, the first showing more than 33 minutes beginning about 1:13 a.m. and the second showing 1 hour and 11 minutes beginning about 5:48 a.m. Weslaco Police Chief Joel Rivera said that’s how Border Patrol provided the video to his investigators. The investigation ended after the coroner and police found no foul play in Carlos’ death.

CBP didn’t respond to questions about why the tape it provided has a four-hour gap that includes the hours when an agent reported doing welfare checks.

The time stamp on the video is inaccurate, but ProPublica was able to compare it with police and emergency medical service records to estimate that the first video begins at about 1:13 a.m., about an hour after Carlos was fed.

The beginning of the video shows Carlos on the toilet in the cell, partially obscured by a waist-high privacy wall. His cellmate, another ill boy who has not been identified, is asleep under Mylar blankets on a cement bench.

Carlos returns to the cement bench opposite his cellmate about six minutes into the video and shifts uncomfortably. He moves out of the camera’s view for a couple of minutes, apparently sitting or standing next to the cell’s large window.

At about 1:24 a.m., Carlos topples forward and lands face-first on the concrete floor. He is wearing blue jeans and a disposable surgical mask. For the next 11 minutes, he is largely still. At about 1:35 a.m., he vomits blood on the floor and then stands and staggers to the toilet.

The tape shows him sitting on the toilet for about a minute before he slides onto the ground. He struggles for several more minutes and then stops moving at approximately 1:39 a.m. Police photos taken after his death show a large pool of blood around his head.

The second part of the video opens at about 5:48 a.m. Carlos can be seen in the same position as he was four hours earlier. He is on his back, his head by the toilet, and his legs stretching out before him, toes up. The Border Patrol’s log documenting Carlos’ detention for the evening notes three welfare checks during the gap in the video, at 2:02 a.m., 4:09 a.m. and 5:05 a.m. All three log entries were attributed to Agent Oscar Garza.

Garza couldn’t be reached for comment and CBP officials wouldn’t answer questions about the extent of the welfare checks. The pathologist who performed the autopsy, Dr. Norma Jean Farley, said in an interview that she had been told the agent looked through the window but didn’t go inside Cell 199. She said it wouldn’t be unusual for a feverish child to seek comfort by laying on a cool floor.

The CBP’s policies on holding detained migrants are outlined in its National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detention and Search, known as TEDS. The standards are vague about welfare check requirements, saying agents should physically check holding cells in a “regular and frequent manner, according to each operational office’s policies and procedures. Physical inspections must be recorded in the appropriate electronic system(s) of record as soon as practicable.”

At about 6:05 a.m., the tape shows, Carlos’ cellmate awakens and discovers him on the floor. After about a minute, he walks over to the cell door and gets the attention of a Border Patrol agent, identified in police reports as Edgar Reyes.

The agent comes in, shines a flashlight on Carlos’ body and leaves. A few minutes later, a physician assistant, Alda Martinez, comes into the cell with a medic’s kit and attempts one chest compression. She quickly concluded that Carlos was dead, police reports said. Other agents walk in, stepping on silver blankets strewn around the cell. Weslaco paramedics arrive at 6:47 a.m. and declare Carlos dead.

The Border Patrol press release describing these events said “He was found un-responsive this morning during a welfare check.”

The autopsy report did not address how long Carlos had been dead before his cellmate found him. His body had already begun to stiffen when Martinez attempted to revive him. The process of rigor mortis can be accelerated by the flu.

John Sanders had seen the crisis on the border coming as early as November 2018. Then serving as the CBP’s chief operating officer, he had worked the numbers and realized that if projections about the migrant influx held true, agencies would be woefully short of shelter space for unaccompanied minors. An interagency task force monitoring the weather conditions and movements of people in Central America projected huge migrations in the coming months.

But the Trump administration agencies responsible for handling migrants, CBP and HHS, were at odds over the problem’s severity. HHS shelters were then boarding about 15,000 children, but the HHS leadership believed beds would empty out quickly thanks to a policy change reluctantly implemented by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after a long battle. ICE had made it less legally risky for migrant adults to come forward to pick up children in shelters by easing mandatory fingerprinting requirement implemented in April 2018. The December 2018 policy change had increased the number of children released from HHS custody.

Still the numbers kept growing. Buses and car caravans ferried groups of 100 or more migrants at a time to the border; 111 such groups arrived in the winter and spring, compared with 13 the previous year and just two in 2017. CBP told Congress the large groups overwhelmed border security and at the same time created diversions for drug smuggling.

The Trump administration asked Congress in January for $800 million to upgrade border facilities, but it approved about $414 million, including money for a new El Paso processing center to hold children and families, renovation funds for the McAllen processing center and about $192 million for “improved medical care, transportation, and consumables” for those in CBP custody, according to the joint statement issued when the bill was finalized. It soon became clear it wasn’t enough.

Sanders was among the administration officials who appealed to Congress for additional funding. He predicted that without more funding, children would not be safe.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a California Democrat who chairs the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, blamed the Trump administration for conditions that led to the deaths of Carlos and other children.

“Their deaths should never, ever have happened. Tragically, DHS was irresponsible in not having an adequate mass migration plan to keep migrants safe, ensure their humane treatment and address their health care needs,” Roybal-Allard said. She also criticized HHS for failing to have “a plan to ensure it could quickly and safely take custody of unaccompanied children in CBP custody.”

In April, with the border crisis deepening daily, Sanders was named acting CBP commissioner as his boss Kevin McAleenan moved up to become acting secretary of DHS. Those would prove just interim personnel shuffles by a White House determined to harden its border policies.

The fight for money became one of Sanders’ top priorities. By May, as Carlos prepared to head north, the Trump administration made the case for $4.5 billion in emergency aid, with $2.9 billion to cover a shortfall in the program for unaccompanied minors. Democrats supported the humanitarian funding but many objected to $1.1 billion for additional immigrant detention spending.

Carlos’ death highlighted the need for relief. White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and McAleenan, making the case for the administration’s border funding request, described deteriorating conditions in a May 30 call with reporters:

“Four hundred children arrived in the last 24 hours alone. Four of those children this month have died transiting through Mexico into the United States — two drowning in a river, both a 5-year-old and 10-month-old; and two teenage boys died of infections after receiving medical treatment in federal custody,” McAleenan said. “Yesterday, a single group of 1,036 families and unaccompanied children simply walked from Juárez, Mexico, into the United States illegally as a single group — the largest group ever apprehended at the border.”

Another month would pass before a majority in Congress agreed on the humanitarian funding.

A police investigation into Carlos’ death began soon after his body was discovered, the case assigned to Det. Chris Ramirez of the Weslaco Police Department. There was no sign of foul play, and Ramirez noted that Carlos showed signs of a flulike illness. The Border Patrol turned over its surveillance video for review by police and the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy.

Dr. Norma Jean Farley served under contract with the county government. Her work on Carlos’ case included reviewing the timeline presented in the cell video and examining photos of his body from the death scene. Her autopsy report listed the cause of death as Influenza A 2009 H1N1 respiratory infection complicated by bronchopneumonia, sepsis and an immune system disorder called hemophagocytosis.

Farley said in an interview that the video showed that no one entered Carlos’ cell between 12:20 a.m., when he was fed, and around 6 a.m., when the cellmate knocked on the door to get an agent’s attention.

Farley largely defended the Border Patrol’s handling of the matter and questioned why Carlos did not do more to save himself.

“I was a little surprised that this kid, as sick as he was in the cell, never just knocked on the door as his roommate did, because as soon as the roommate did, they opened,” Farley said. “I just don’t know why he didn’t knock on the door.”

H1N1 flu has a typical incubation period of one to four days after exposure, and Carlos was in Border Patrol custody during that time. But Farley said she suspects Carlos may have had diarrhea caused by an immune disorder on his journey through Mexico, although there was no evidence of illness in his Border Patrol medical screening record.

“I’m finding what these people that tend to come there, they don’t tell them that they’re sick. And I don’t know if they’re afraid to tell them they’re sick because they’ll be quarantined. I don’t know what the issue is that they don’t. He finally did, but by the time he’s telling them that he’s sick, he’s more sick than he knows,” she said.

Questions remain about why Carlos’ grave condition was not recognized by the nurse practitioners on May 19, or before, or during his hours at Weslaco. An agency spokeswoman said investigators are looking into “all aspects of a case to ensure proper care procedures were followed.”

The Guatemalan government brought Carlos’ body home to his village to wide television news coverage, its embassy calling on the U.S. to conduct a full investigation of his death. Thousands of mourners poured in from around the country to follow behind his casket, which was borne by soccer teammates down a long dirt road to the cemetery.

Pallbearers taped his royal blue No. 9 soccer jersey to the top of his casket as they laid it to rest. “Maybe in all of his life, the 16 years that he was in this life, maybe he didn’t do many things, but he did move us,” said a speaker at his funeral. “He touched hearts.”

Carlos’ grief-stricken parents questioned how their son could have died in U.S. custody. His father, in an interview with Telemundo, wondered: “He left healthy. What happened to him?”

Carlos’ father, Bartolome Hernandez, said in a phone interview he will be glad to have answers from U.S. officials. “They need to take better care of migrants,” he said. “The U.S. isn’t a place where they should be allowing anyone to die like that.”

Pereira, Carlos’ teacher, said that he believes the boy was abandoned in his cell. He had not seen the video but said “If you have an animal that’s sick and you’ve kept it in a room, every little while you’re going to go check on it, see if it has water, whether it’s shivering. That’s with an animal. And this was a human being.”

In the months that have passed, lawyers at the Texas Civil Rights Project, a migrant advocacy group, have been in touch with Carlos’ family and asked the CBP to preserve its records. They say that so far they have received little information about the death investigation.

Meanwhile, in Washington, moderate House Democrats joined Republicans in passing a bipartisan Senate bill sending $4.6 billion aid to the border on June 27. The impasse was broken a day after a heart-rending photograph went viral showing a drowned father and daughter lying face down on the banks of the Rio Grande.

The border situation has changed dramatically since Carlos’ death. CBP now has 250 health staffers at its facilities across the Southwest, but Border Patrol cells have largely emptied out since July. The number of migrants crossing the border has declined sharply. The Trump administration has credited the decrease to more aggressive interdiction efforts by Mexico.

Adults and families crossing the border increasingly have been sent back to Mexico under the administration’s controversial Migrant Protection Protocols program, which sends them to wait in dangerous Mexican border cities while U.S. courts consider their immigration and asylum claims.

The number of unaccompanied migrant children crossing the border was 2,800 in October, a quarter of what it was when Carlos arrived in May. Still, those who work with migrants on the ground say the numbers could swell again, and HHS is building out its shelter capacity from 15,000 beds to 20,000, with emergency influx facilities that can handle thousands more.

Questions about Carlos’ death and whether agencies or individuals could have done more to prevent it have yet to be fully aired. CBP has not said when the DHS inspector general’s review will be completed. Congressional committees that voiced concern about the spate of child deaths have not had access to the Carlos cell videos, pending internal agency reviews.

The death of the 16-year-old, whose Facebook page showed a circle of teenage friends, reverberated beyond the small village of San Jose del Rodeo. Friends posted video of his funeral and a village wake on social media, with emotional tributes to him. Guatemalan immigrants outside New York City held a fundraiser to help support his family, one of the goals Carlos had in coming to the U.S.

John Sanders resigned soon after the incident, frustrated with what he characterized as unprepared agencies and an unresponsive Congress that allowed children in custody to suffer in harsh conditions.

“I really think the American government failed these people. The government failed people like Carlos,” he said. “I was part of that system at a very high level, and Carlos’ death will follow me for the rest of my life.”

Jack Gillum and Benjamin Hardy contributed to this report.

Robert Moore has been a journalist at the U.S.-Mexico border for more than 30 years and is founder of the nonprofit news organization El Paso Matters.

Susan Schmidt is an investigative reporter who formerly worked for The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. She won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting at the Post in 2006 and was part of the Post team that won for national reporting in 2002.

‘I got the call at 6 p.m., left my kids with my husband and drove to her house with my socks crammed into my Birkenstocks.’: Mom urges others to ‘just show up’ when friends need you, ‘She didn’t need Pinterest, she needed me’

“Once upon a time I was in my early twenties, no children, a job I could leave at work for the most part a full night’s sleep and a partridge in a pear tree. When a friend would have a baby or someone got really sick I would show up with my arms loaded full of home baked goodies, thoughtful cards, meals to their exact liking and honestly I really thought this is what service to the people in my life should look like.

Then I had my first baby. Then another, this time the first one was only two and the second had colic. It was the hardest transition of my life. During this period, I completely stopped showing up with meals and loving my tribe in this way, not because I wasn’t able to but because I didn’t feel I could do the job justice. I felt that what I would be able to offer wasn’t good enough to bother with. I was so wrong.

Now, I have three little boys, we live in a tiny house (like an actual tiny house, not just a small house), our lives are full but so very happy. I’m in my thirties now, I’m older, more tired and I’ve been through enough in my life to learn the truth I wish I’d known then, are you ready? It’s really profound… Just show up.

That’s it, really. Just show up. When your friend’s husband dies unexpectedly, when she has a baby, when she is going through a divorce, when her life is unraveling, she doesn’t care if you baked the cookies from scratch and perfectly placed them in a platter. Show up (call first) in your socks with pizza. Honestly, I think showing up without your act perfectly together is probably more kind to the person who is going through hell.

Courtesy Katie Bryant

A friend went through some of the hardest life changes you can go through last year, I got the call at 6pm, left my kids with my husband and drove the 15 minutes to her house with my socks beautifully crammed into the Birkenstocks I’d found near the door. My hair needed to be washed and I probably had a coffee stain on my sweatshirt. I got to the door and let myself in (we’re close). I held her, loaded her dishwasher, read her kids a story and tucked them in, switched the laundry and cleaned the front bathroom for guests. You see earlier in my life I wouldn’t have made it there for an hour because I felt it was important to make myself presentable and bring a Pinterest worthy meal. She didn’t need Pinterest, she needed me, in all my socks with Birkenstocks imperfection. She needed me to meet her in the middle of her nightmare, to stand in the Gap and to sit at her table at 9:30 drinking hot tea and listening.

Loving the people around you shouldn’t wait until you can do it perfectly and beautifully. There’s no trophy for best baked good drop off. There’s nothing to be gained by keeping people from your realness. Somewhere in the social media age we lost touch with the people close to us. We started comparing our private lives to everyone else’s Instagram feed. We stopped being the village. We started fending for ourselves. Enough is enough. Life is beautiful but it can be so hard, we need people in our lives to show up and to love us in the midst of our tragedy. We need human interaction and we need pizza in our socks with good friends.

We need the village. It was there for a reason.”

Courtesy Katie Bryant

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Katie Bryant, 31, of North Caroina. Follow Katie on Instagram here and Facebook here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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Miss USA, Miss America, Miss Teen USA, Miss Universe, and Miss World are all black women

JAMAICA — For the first time, top beauty pageants — Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss AmericaMiss Universe and now, Miss World — have crowned black women as their winners at the same time.

And that’s a big deal if you know pageant history.

Beauty pageants early in their histories, some dating back to the 1920s, barred women of color from participating. Even after organizations began changing their rules to accept women of all races, there was still a lingering frustration and opposition to join.

Only in the last 50 years have black women become more prevalent in these competitions. Janelle Commissiongwas the first black Miss Universe in 1977, Vanessa Williams was the first black Miss America in 1983, and Carole Anne-Marie Gist, the first black Miss USA contestant, was crowned in 1990. The following year Janel Bishop became the first black Miss Teen USA.

When Toni-Ann Singh of Jamaica was crowned as Miss World on Saturday, she joined a historic group of black women, along with 2019 Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, 2019 Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris, 2019 Miss America Nia Franklin and 2019 Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi.

Here’s what you should know about these five women:

Miss World plans to be a doctor

Singh, 23, from Morant, Jamaica, graduated from Florida State University with degrees in psychology and women’s studies. She plans to enroll in medical school soon, according to the Miss World website.

“I will continue to be an advocate for women,” she said, after winning the Miss World Jamaica crown in September. “I believe women are the lifeblood of our community. So, I will continue to inspire and work with them, so they understand just how great their potential is.”

Miss Universe fights against gender-based violence

Tunzi hails from the town of Tsolo in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Along with English, the 26-year-old speaks Xhosa and has launched a social media campaign against gender-based violence.

In a recent Instagram post, she called on her fellow South Africans to write love letters pledging support for women in her country.

“It is my hope that these pledges will start, and continue a conversation around gender-based violence,” Tunzi wrote. “We have to start the narration where right-thinking people act as role models for those who think it’s okay to mistreat women.”

At the Miss Universe pageant, Tunzi spoke about how conventional beauty standards haven’t typically included skin and hair like hers, encouraging women to embrace themselves and love who they are.

“I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me — with my kind of skin and my kind of hair — was never considered to be beautiful,” she said in her last response before she was crowned. “I think it is time that that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine.”

Miss USA works on behalf of prisoners

Receiving three degrees from two universitiesKryst is a 28-year-old attorney with a mission to help reform America’s justice system.

Hailing from North Carolina, Kryst practices civil litigation for a law firm and has a passion for helping prisoners who may have been sentenced unjustly get reduced punishments, free of charge.

Kryst, who is licensed to practice in two states, earned both her law degree and MBA from Wake Forest University and completed her undergraduate work at the University of South Carolina.

In a video played during this week’s competition, Kryst told a story about how a judge at a legal competition suggested she wear a skirt instead of pants because judges prefer skirts.

“Glass ceilings can be broken wearing either a skirt or pants,” she said. “Don’t tell females to wear different clothes while you give the men substantive feedback on their legal arguments.”

Since then, she’s built a blog for women’s workwear fashion and volunteered for Dress for Success.

Miss Teen USA defies pageant beauty norms

When Garris took the Miss Teen USA stage Sunday, she did it with confidence as she wore her natural hair.

“I know what I look like with straight hair, with extensions, and with my curly hair, and I feel more confident and comfortable with my natural hair,” the 18-year-old from Connecticut told Refinery29.

When she began competing in pageants, Garris said she had to fight against beauty standards suggesting that straight hair was better than her natural curls.

There were people who told her how they thought she should style her hair, she said. But she ignored their criticism and went on to win the title of Miss Connecticut Teen USA with her natural hair and then Miss Teen USA.

Miss America says music helped her find herself

Franklin remembers what music did for her. Now she tries to inspire children in the same way.

An opera singer, Franklin discovered her identity through music, she explained during the Miss America competition in September.

“I grew up at a predominately Caucasian school, and there was only 5% minority, and I felt out of place so much because of the color of my skin,” the 23-year-old North Carolina native said. “But growing up, I found my love of arts, and through music that helped me to feel positive about myself and about who I was.”

Representing New York, Franklin showed her passion for music when she sang “Quando m’en vo’” from Puccini’s “La Bohème.” Wowing the judges, she was crowned the 2019 Miss America.

This past year, she has been an advocate for the arts. She works with Sing for Hope, a nonprofit focused on helping people, including children and artists, through the power of music.

988: Suicide prevention three-digit number gains FCC approval

FCC approves new three-digit number, 988, as US suicide prevention hotline


Joel Shannon


USA TODAY
Published 7:31 PM EST Dec 12, 2019

A three-digit suicide prevention hotline number will soon make seeking emergency mental health help more like calling 911, federal regulators announced Thursday.

When the months-long process is completed, U.S. residents will be able to call 988 for help in a mental health emergency, just as 911 connects people in need to first-responders for other emergencies.

Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses a 10-digit number, 800-273-TALK (8255). That number routes callers to one of 163 crisis centers, where counselors answered 2.2 million calls last year.

“The three-digit number is really going to be a breakthrough in terms of reaching people in a crisis,” said Dwight Holton, CEO of Lines for Life, a suicide prevention nonprofit. “No one is embarrassed to call 911 for a fire or an emergency. No one should be embarrassed to call 988 for a mental health emergency.”

It’s not a hotline, it’s a ‘warmline’: It gives mental health help before a crisis heats up

A Thursday release from the Federal Communications Commission says formal rule-making on the 988 number has begun — it’s a process that started with a congressional statute in 2018 and was the subject of an FCC report released in August.

So far, the FCC has only proposed requiring all telephone service providers to accommodate the 988 number within 18 months. The next step is a comment period on the implementation, including the project’s timeframe.

Last year, a USA TODAY investigation reported that more than 47,000 Americans killed themselves in 2017, citing a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Since 1999, the suicide rate has climbed 33 percent. 

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and is often called a public health emergency.

“There’s been so much more put into every one of those causes of death than suicide. … If you didn’t do anything for heart disease and you didn’t do anything for cancer, then you’d see those rates rise, too.” John Draper, director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, told USA TODAY last year.

Public health experts say suicide is preventable.

Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741. National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Contributing: Anne Godlasky and Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY; The Associated Press