Category: Social Issues

America continues proud tradition of having the highest number of school shootings in the world

RED BLUFF, CA — A gunman killed four people and wounded a number of others at random Tuesday at multiple locations in rural Northern California, including an elementary school, before police shot him dead, authorities said.

Two hospitals said they were treating seven people, including at least three children.

No children were killed, Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said. The shooter, who has not been officially identified, was fatally shot by police after engaging two officers who returned fire at an intersection in the community of Rancho Tehama Reserve, about 130 miles north of Sacramento, Johnston said.

“We really don’t have any idea what his motive was at this time,” Johnston said. The first calls of a shooting came in at around 7:52 a.m. and it was all over in around 45 minutes, he said. During the rampage the gunman fired into an elementary school, he said.

One student was wounded at the school and another child was shot while in a car being driven by a woman, who also was wounded, Johnston said.

“It was very clear at the onset that we had an individual that was randomly picking targets,” Johnston said.

“Essentially, with this individual after the initial shooting, he is reportedly took a vehicle and went on a shooting rampage throughout the community,” Johnston said at an afternoon press conference. At one point the gunman crashed the first vehicle, robbed another person of his vehicle before he was shot by police.

Brian Flint told the Record Searchlight newspaper in the city of Redding that his neighbor, whom he knows only as Kevin, was the gunman and that his roommate was among the victims. He said the shooter also stole his truck.

“The crazy thing is that the neighbor has been shooting a lot of bullets lately, hundreds of rounds, large magazines,” Flint said. “We made it aware that this guy is crazy and he’s been threatening us.”

Authorities have recovered a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns after the shootings in the rural subdivision described on its website as a “quiet private country community” where “the people are friendly and the pace is relaxed.”

Jeanine Quist, an administrative assistant with the Corning Union Elementary School District, said no one was killed at the school with kindergarten through fifth grades.

New app makes claims to show us what women really look like without makeup

Ashot Gabrelyanov, who lives in New York City, bills himself as the founder of MakeApp, a new app which uses artificial intelligence to show how women really look without makeup.

You take a selfie or upload a picture of someone else, and the free version of the app gives you two options to add makeup or remove makeup. You pick one, and the filter does the rest.

Gabrelyanov, has suggested MakeApp could save lives by identifying women who had been trafficked illegally.

“In most of these cases, makeup is heavily used to disguise the age and/or identity of these people,” he said in an emailed statement. “If human traffickers can hide these victim’s identities, their chances of rescue are low.
When security services show an image and say “Is this your daughter?” heavily applied permanent makeup often makes the identification process quite difficult. We hope our technology may help families and authorities identify victims for rescue.”

Gabrelyanov said his firm was already in communication with organizations to identify victims of human trafficking. Despite Gabrelyanov’s assurances the  app was made for the good of humanity, and functions properly, users and critics are doubting him.

The app is a controversial idea by itself, given that AI tends to be fairly unflattering to anyone with a darker skin tone. some magazines have already begun using the app to “unmask” celebrities and judge their level of natural attractiveness.

Writers for Revelist have noted-

“while the app has caused something of a stir online, it has not been met with unanimous approval, calling it ‘a subtler form of shaming, saying  ‘If a woman steps out with makeup on her face, it’s because that’s the image that she wants to convey that day.’It’s not up to us, or up to some creep with an iPhone, to determine what she “really” looks like underneath her makeup. If a woman is wearing makeup, it’s presumably because she WANTS to, and robbing her of that right is totally unfair.”

Business Insider tested MakeApp on light- and dark-skinned women to see how accurate it is. They found the app is taking its cue from FaceApp, another controversial Russian photo app whose “hotness” filter made dark skin look lighter. MakeApp’s unflattering, malfunctioning AI is the latest in a long line of AI controversies: Snapchat’s offensive Bob Marley filter, FaceApp’s “black” filters, and smartphone cameras that lighten your skin by default.Based on how the app visualizes Serena Williams, it seems accuracy isn’t the end goal of this app.




Another victim of Roy Moore comes forward 

Beverly Young Nelson said she was 16 years old when Roy Moore allegedly tried to force himself on her after offering a ride home from her job as a waitress.”I tried fight him off while yelling at him to stop,” she said, adding that he locked his car to prevent her escape.

Moore, 70, denies the allegations, describing them as a “witch hunt”.

But Senator Cory Gardner, the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, said on Monday he believes Moore’s accusers “spoke with courage and truth” and the former Alabama chief justice should be expelled if he is elected.

“If he refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him, because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate,” he said.

Nelson’s accusation comes after four other women detailed allegations of sexual assault by the conservative firebrand while they were teenagers in Alabama.

The 56-year-old said she met Mr Moore at the Olde Hickory House restaurant in Gadsen, Alabama, where she worked as a waitress while she was a teenager.

She claimed Moore, a 30-year-old deputy district attorney at the time, offered to sign her high school yearbook and wrote: “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas.”

He signed it “Love, Roy Moore, DA”, according to a copy of the yearbook page provided to reporters by her attorney, Gloria Allred.

About a week or two later, he allegedly offered to drive her home and instead drove to the back of the restaurant car park.

“I was terrified. He was also trying to pull my shirt off. I thought he was going to rape me,” she told reporters at a news conference on Monday.

“At some point he gave up and he then looked at me and he told me, ‘You’re just a child,’ and he said, ‘I am the district attorney of Etowah County. If you tell anyone about this, no one will believe you”, Nelson said, adding that her neck was bruised in the struggle.

“He finally allowed me to open the door and I either fell out or he pushed me out.”

Man accused of murdering sex worker had history of violence against women 

A man charged with killing a London sex worker was accused earlier this year of assaulting at another sex worker, and was under a court order not to seek paid sexual services, According to the Free Press.

But London sex workers say they received no warning from police of a dangerous situation in the city, with someone potentially targeting them free on bail and under conditions not to seek their services.

“We were not given the heads up by the police,” says a representative of SafeSpace, a collective of sex workers and allies.

London police said they can’t comment on the issue because of a court-ordered publication ban on evidence.

Oluwatobi Boyede, 25, was charged last week with second-degree murder in the death of Josephine (Josie) Glenn, 26, whose remains were found in his family’s home in southeast London.

“Court documents show an alarming pattern of escalation that exemplifies the need to take assault charges seriously,” women’s advocate AnnaLise Trudell, manager of education at Anova, a London agency and shelter supporting abused women said. 

“It is just textbook escalation. Initial charges need to be taken seriously and any emergent patterns need to be seen.” Trudell added. 

 Boyede was charged in March with sexual assault, choking, forcible confinement and assault of a sex worker. He faces yet another assault charge dated Feb. 26, involving another woman. 

According to Trudell- “People often get a sense of confidence when they commit — quote unquote — lesser assaults. There is a pattern of taking it to the next level.”

Boyede appeared in court last week and reported to be calm and relaxed as he dealt charges in one of the cases unrelated to the murder of Glenn. His next appearance will be on Friday when he will appear for the second degree murder charge. 

Actor George Takei accused of groping intoxicated model 

Scott R. Brunton, a former model and actor, told The Hollywood Reporter Friday that he was groped by Takei at the actor’s Los Angeles condominium in 1981.

Brunton, who was 23 at the time of the alleged incident, claims that Takei took advantage of him when he was most vulnerable.
“This happened a long time ago, but I have never forgotten it,” Brunton tells The Hollywood Reporter in an interview. “It is one of those stories you tell with a group of people when people are recounting bizarre instances in their lives, this always comes up. I have been telling it for years, but I am suddenly very nervous telling it.”

Brunton says he was living in Hollywood in 1981, working and beginning a career when he met Takei. 

At one point,  Brunton broke up with his then-boyfriend, he spoke with Takei for comfort and advice.

Brunton says “He was very good at consoling me and understanding that I was upset and still in love with my boyfriend. He was a great ear. He was very good about me spilling my heart on my sleeve.”

The two men went back to the actor’s condo for a drink the same night. “We have the drink and he asks if I would like another,” Brunton recalls. “And I said sure. So, I have the second one, and then all of a sudden, I begin feeling very disoriented and dizzy, and I thought I was going to pass out. I said I need to sit down and he said sit over here and he had a giant yellow beanbag chair. So I sat down in that and leaned my head back and I must have passed out.”

“The next thing I remember I was coming to and he had my pants down around my ankles and he was groping my crotch and trying to get my underwear off and feeling me up at the same time, trying to get his hands down my underwear,” Brunton says. “I came to and said, ‘What are you doing?!’ I said, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ He goes, ‘You need to relax. I am just trying to make you comfortable. Get comfortable.’ And I said, ‘No. I don’t want to do this.’ And I pushed him off and he said, ‘OK, fine.’ And I said I am going to go and he said, ‘If you feel you must. You’re in no condition to drive.’ I said, ‘I don’t care I want to go.’ 

So I managed to get my pants up and compose myself and I was just shocked. I walked out and went to my car until I felt well enough to drive home, and that was that.”

Takei, now 80, rose to fame playing Hikaru Sulu on the original Star Trek television series. He is also an author and activist and has been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights.

In a series of tweets Saturday morning, Takei denied the allegations.

“The events he describes back in the 1980s simply did not occur, and I do not know why he has claimed them now. I have wracked my brain to ask if I remember Mr. Brunton, and I cannot say I do,” he said. “Right now it is a he said / he said situation, over alleged events nearly 40 years ago. But those that know me understand that non-consensual acts are so antithetical to my values and my practices, the very idea that someone would accuse me of this is quite personally painful.”

Brunton claims that he met up with Takei years after the incident in Portland, Brunton’s current home, while the actor was there on a book tour. “I wanted to see him,” Brunton says. “I always wanted to ask him — I just felt really betrayed. I thought I was a friend and here I am later, just another piece of meat. So I called him up at the hotel — I figured out which hotel he was at — and he said ‘Hi, Scott. I remember you.’ I wanted to ask him why. We met for coffee, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It was just too uncomfortable.”

Brunton says he considered going to the media with the story for years, but he assumed no one would take him seriously. “Who’s going to believe me? It’s my word against his,” he says.

Brunton’s reasoning changed after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and specifically when Takei spoke out regarding allegations leveled against Kevin Spacey.

Takei can be heard on the Howard Stern show recently, seemingly Justifying groping men in his home. 

Facebook promises to remove revenge porn- but only if you send them your own nudes 

In an attempt to combat the rise of revenge porn on its platform Facebook is creating a new policy. 

The catch? In order to use the new policy, Facebook requires users to upload any nude photos of themselves that think may be distributed without consent — a process which involves a Facebook employee reviewing the uploaded images. 

The pilot program is designed to prevent intimate images of users from appearing against their will on the social network’s platform.Users worried an inappropriate image might appear on Facebook’s platforms are asked to send an intimate image via Messenger, a preventive measure designed to flag the images before they’re shared.

The Australian government’s Office of the eSafety Commissioner announced it is joining a pilot program with Facebook. According to the eSafety Office, if a Facebook user in Australia is concerned about an intimate image spreading online, they fill out a form, then send the image to themselves using Messenger.

Once Facebook is notified, they use image-matching technology to prevent anyone from sharing it on their platforms.

“This partnership gives Australians a unique opportunity to proactively inoculate themselves from future image-based abuse by coming to our portal and reporting tool,” said Julie Inman Grant, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, in a statement.

The limited pilot program is available in three other countries: the U.S., U.K., and Canada.

Homeless sex offenders listing Walmart stores as their home address

Most people know they can go to the state database and search a home address to find if any sex offenders live nearby. However, it may not occur to people that they should also search the addresses where they shop.

A total of 17 sex offenders, seven of them predators, list the Walmart in Cocoa as their home. Many of the offenders listed the Walmart as their home but actually live in a homeless site near the superstore, the Brevard County Sheriff’s office told WESH.

In Orlando, 13 sex offenders list the intersection of John Young Parkway and Princeton Street as home. There’s a Walmart there, and like Cocoa, a homeless camp across the street.

In a written statement, a corporate spokesman for Walmart said, “It’s disappointing to know that law enforcement allows convicted felons to use our store as their proximity address. We disagree with such a practice and must refer any other questions to police.”

Walmart stores are not the only retailer upset with the practice.

One sex offender lists his address as “behind the Bravo Supermarket” at Silver Star and Hiawasse roads.

The manager was unaware.

“We feel offended by him that he is using our store as his address,” Freddy Rodriguez said.

It was not immediately clear how the sex offenders were able to list store addresses as their primary residences, but law enforcement officials said changing the sex offender registration process to keep transient offenders from using businesses as an address would require action from state lawmakers.

Boys with severe dairy allergy dies after school gives him grilled cheese sandwich

NEW YORK — A New York City school is closing while officials investigate the death of a 3-year-old boy who died after he was allegedly given a grilled cheese sandwich – despite the school knowing he had a severe dairy allergy, according to WPIX.

Elijah Silvera was in his pre-K class at Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services in Harlem on Nov. 3 when he went into anaphylactic shock after eating the sandwich. The child was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased

The family member also told WPIX that school officials called Elijah’s mother when it happened. It’s unclear why they did not call an ambulance, so his mother rushed Elijah 10 blocks south to Harlem Hospital. But it was too late.

The family stated online they want to know exactly what happened and if proper protocols were followed — “…at this moment, it is unclear where responsibility for Elijah’s death will fall between the pre-K and the hospital itself.”

“We want to find out exactly where, if any, breakdowns may have occurred at either the school or the hospital,” they wrote.

The money raised on GoFundMe will help pay for an independent autopsy, according to the family.

Late Wednesday, the New York City Health Department released a statement announcing the school will close in order to investigate the incident saying-

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our children and we are deeply saddened by this tragedy. We will get to the bottom of what happened here. In the meantime, we’re closing the Center for Family Services and continuing to aggressively investigate what happened and whether the facility could have done something differently to prevent this tragedy.”
Elijah’s GoFundMe can be found here:

Florida insurance companies drop coverage of OxyContin 

FORT MYERS, Fla. — OxyContin has become one of the most recognizable brand names in the nation’s deadly opioid epidemic. Starting Jan. 1, the state’s largest health insurer will cease coverage of the drug in favor of a painkiller less easy to abuse.

Florida Blue’s alternate, Xtampza ER, is similar to OxyContin in that it is an extended-release, oxycodone-based product. 

The big difference, the company said Tuesday, is that Xtampza is more chemically suited to prevent users from crushing, snorting or injecting it — all means of getting a quicker, and potentially more lethal, high.

Florida Blue’s new policy will not apply to generic oxycodone, which is sold as an immediate-release drug at lower doses and is less likely to be so abused, said Scott McClelland, the company’s vice president of commercial and specialty pharmacy.

Florida Blue is taking the action because the abundance of opioids prescribed to its more than 5 million members represents a risk for abuse and provides evidence that doctors are doling out more than patients need of the powerful but addictive drug, said Scott McClelland, vice president of commercial and specialty pharmacy.

Opioids were the direct cause of 2,664 Florida overdose deaths in 2016 and showed up in the toxicology reports of 4,515 Floridians that year, according to an interim reportfrom the Florida Medical Examiners Commission.

“Imagine if you could take an 80-milligram extended-release (OxyContin) tablet and crush it and inject it and get it all at once, as opposed to a five-milligram oxycodone tablet,” McClelland said. “So, that’s the big reason there’s such huge concerns about these extended-release formulations. It’s a really big dose.”

The OxyContin ban applies to all Florida Blue individual and group plans. Medicare Advantage plans are excluded.

Xtampza ER is manufactured by Canton, Mass.-based Collegium Pharmaceutical Inc. Though it touts the drug’s “abuse-deterrent technology” it does not guarantee that the drug cannot be abused.

The company also notes: “Although Xtampza ER is formulated to make manipulation more difficult, it cannot entirely prevent abuse; abuse of Xtampza ER by injection and via the oral and nasal routes is still possible.”

The company’s decision to drop OxyContin follows a federal declaration earlier this year that the nation is in the grips of an opioid overdose epidemic. Shortly thereafter, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order declaring the opioid epidemic a statewide public health emergency.

Fentanyl, morphine, and heroin were the top three causes of lethal opioid overdoses. Oxycodone was fourth.
Florida Blue typically pays for 1.5 million opioid prescriptions every year, according to the company. About 8% of that business is for prescriptions lasting longer than 30 days, a group at a higher risk for addiction and overdose.

Florida Blue already has quantity limits on long- and short-acting painkillers. It has also required prior approval for prescriptions of extended-release opioid painkillers, such as OxyContin and fentanyl.

The policy was updated Oct. 1 to include prior approval for short-acting painkillers needed for more than seven days, McClelland said.

“We want to prevent as much abuse and addiction and deaths related to these overdoses as possible,” he said. “We’re just trying to take an active role and prevent these deaths that are occurring on a daily basis.”

Cigna also announced it will continue covering the same OxyContin alternative,Xtampza ER, as   part of its efforts to cut opioid use by its customers 25% by 2019, CNBC reported.

“Our focus is on helping customers get the most value from their medications — this means obtaining effective pain relief while also guarding against opioid misuse,” Cigna Chief Pharmacy Officer Jon Maesner said in a statement Wednesday.

Another mass shooting in an American church 

A gunman has killed at least 27 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, according to police at the scene. After a car chase, the shooter is also reportedly dead. The attack happened at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, a small town in Wilson County, Texas.

The victims of the shooting include children. A two-year-old was shot, according to a witness, and First Baptist Church Pastor Frank Pomeroy said his 14-year-old daughter is among the dead.

The shooting took place at approximately 11:30 a.m. local time. The shooter has not been identified and the motive is unknown.

Police official Albert Gamez Jr confirmed the number of fatalities to CBS News.
Helicopters and emergency personnel were seen arriving at the scene. The FBI is also on scene.

The number confirmed dead would make the Sutherland Springs shooting the fourth deadliest in U.S. history, behind only Las Vegas (58 dead), Orlando (39 dead) and Virginia Tech (32 dead). The same number of people, 27, were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.