The young activists you should be following for International Women’s Day

Image: Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images

International Women’s Day is an annual, global event that pushes for women’s rights. In today’s political climate, there’s a lot to be done in achieving equality.

Feminism isn’t all pink hats and snappy tweets — to be an intersectional feminist, you need to acknowledge the many levels of inequality that affect women worldwide. 

From young women fighting for access to clean water to those advocating for gun control or acceptance and trans rights, here are seven young activists you should know about for International Women’s Day. 

The woman tackling mental health stigma: Elyse Fox

A post shared by Elyse Fox (@elyse.fox) on

Elyse Fox runs Sad Girls Club, an online and in-person community dedicated to promoting mental health awareness among young women. The 27-year-old got her start on Tumblr, where she wrote about struggling with depression. She released a short documentary about her mental health called Conversations with Friends one year ago.

After releasing Conversations with Friends, Fox received hundreds of messages from other young women struggling with mental illness. She created Sad Girls Club as a community to tackle the stigma surrounding mental illness and help other young women with access to therapy. In addition to the online platform, Sad Girls Club hosts monthly meetings in New York. 

How to follow Sad Girls Club:

Here are the Instagram and Twitter accounts for Sad Girls Club. You can follow Fox on Instagram, too, at @elyse.fox.

The teenager who organized a mass student walkout in NYC: Hebh Jamal 

When Hebh Jamal was 15, she was featured in a New York Times article about young people facing Islamophobia in the midst of the 2016 presidential election. After the story was published, Jamal was invited to speak at local schools, and became politically active. At 17 years old, the first generation Palestinian-American organized a mass student walk-out in New York City to protest Trump’s travel ban against majority-Muslim countries. 

Since then, she’s worked extensively to organize rallies and advocate against Islamophobic agendas. Still fresh out of high school, she’s now the Director of Public Relations of Integrate NYC, an advocacy group dedicated to diversifying public schools.

She told Broadly that although she understands that her activism is interesting because of her young age, she wants to create a movement of thousands of voices, not just her own. “I want to emphasize it isn’t about one person,” she said, “Although it’s really great that I’m able to have a platform that a lot of Muslim women are not able to have I really want to use it to emphasize that it needs to be a movement.” 

How to follow Jamal:

You can keep up with Jamal’s work on Twitter and Instagram.

The first transgender women’s officer in the British Labour Party: Lily Madigan

Did a tv interview for channel 4 x

A post shared by Lily Tessa Madigan (@lilytessamadigan) on

At only 20 years old, Lily Madigan is the first transgender person to hold public office as a women’s officer in the British Labour Party. She came out as trans when she was 16, but her Catholic high school threatened to suspend her if she presented as a woman in class and insisted on using her male name. Madigan visited law firms in London until she found one that would represent her for free. The school eventually apologized.

She was elected in November 2017 amidst pushback from other politicians who claimed that because Madigan was assigned male at birth, she was unqualified for the position of women’s officer.

Despite the transphobic tweets she’s received, she’s still determined to be the UK’s first trans member of Parliament. In a Guardian essay in remembrance of Harvey Milk, Madigan wrote: “I’m constantly attacked for running for women’s roles as a transwoman. Milk rightly spoke on ending the disenfranchisement of oppressed groups in politics, and how we can’t always be representative but we must be inclusive. To loosely paraphrase him: I fight for women because I’m one of them.”

How to follow Madigan:

You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram

The student taking on the NRA: Emma Gonzalez

Image: Rhona wise/Getty Images

Emma Gonzalez survived the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, and has since become an outspoken advocate for tougher gun control in the United States. Her Feb. 17 speech in Fort Lauderdale, three days after the shooting, went viral. She called out politicians who accepted donations from the NRA, and implored her audience to contact their local representatives. 

Gonzalez now has more Twitter followers than the NRA, and uses her platform to push for stronger gun control laws. 

The high school senior also confronted NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch during a CNN Town Hall and told her, “I want you to know we will support your two children in a way that you will not.”

In an essay for Harpers’s Bazaar, Gonzalez criticized the adults who were skeptical of the teen-led movement. “We have always been told that if we see something wrong, we need to speak up; but now that we are, all we’re getting is disrespect from the people who made the rules in the first place,” she wrote, “Adults like us when we have strong test scores, but they hate us when we have strong opinions.” 

How to follow Gonzalez:

You can keep up with Gonzalez’s activism on Twitter.

The woman who united Sioux youths to fight the DAPL: Jasilyn Charger

Jasilyn Charger co-founded the One Mind Youth Movement when she was 19 years old, after a wave of young people on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation died by suicide. The youth group, formed with Charger’s cousin Joseph White Eyes and friend Trenton Casillas-Bakeberg, petitioned the tribal council for youth safe houses. The youth movement became politically active and also protested the Keystone XL pipeline that would cut through the Cheyenne River and the Dakota Access pipeline that would go through the neighboring Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s land. 

Charger and White Eyes formed a prayer camp in Standing Rock called “Sacred Stone.” Although it received little support from tribal elders, it became a safe haven from drugs and alcohol for native teenagers. To further raise awareness, One Mind Youth Movement ran a 500 mile relay run from North Dakota to Nebraska to deliver a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers. The letter asked the Army Corp to deny the pipeline’s access to the Mississippi River. The run involved young people from several Sioux reservations, according to the New York Times

After the run, Charger and other members of the One Mind Youth Movement stayed at Standing Rock to continue to protest. She told Democracy Nowthat she wants more young women to get involved: “Don’t listen to the men. Don’t listen to people telling you to go away. Make that mind up for yourself.”

How to follow Charger:

Although Charger doesn’t have any public social media accounts, you can follow One Mind Youth Movement on Facebook.

The student who ran for city council: Nadya Okamoto

Nadya Okamoto made headlines last year when she ran for Cambridge City Council in Massachusetts at only 19 years old, making her the youngest candidate in the race. She ran on a platform of housing policy, focussing on the prevention of gentrification in Cambridge’s low-income neighborhoods. Although she ultimately lost the election, the Harvard College student remained active in civic engagement.

In 2014, she co-founded PERIOD, a nonprofit organization that distributes sanitary products to people in need, aiming to de-stigmatize menstruation through social and legal change. Okamoto’s family was homeless during her freshman and sophomore years of high school, and she noticed that care packages for homeless women often lacked menstrual products. 

She was inspired to create PERIOD after conversations with other homeless women, who often resorted to unconventional and unsanitary methods because they couldn’t afford pads and tampons. 

“It really is a huge obstacle to global development because it’s holding back more than half our population,” Okamoto told The Cut in 2016, “We say the menstrual movement is our push to make menstrual hygiene and menstruation a more open topic.”

How to follow Okamoto:

Follow Okamoto on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with her work.

The girl fighting for clean water in Flint: Mari Copeny

Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny is one of the youngest activists on Twitter. The ten year old, who posts under the handle “Little Miss Flint” with her mother’s help, has been fighting for clean water in Flint, Michigan for the past few years. Copeny has organized water drives and distributed school supplies to other children in Flint, where costly bottled water claimed many families’ budgets. She also attended the Congressional hearings on the water crisis in Washington, DC. 

She became famous for her letter to then-president Barack Obama in 2016, which prompted him to visit Flint himself. “Letters from kids like you are what make me so optimistic for the future,” he wrote back. 

Copeny also met President Trump, who had a part in facilitating the $100 million EPA grant to fix Flint’s infrastructure. Her reaction to meeting him was noticeably different. She later criticized Trump in a video because “He didn’t even let me ask one question.” 

Copeny also raised $16,000 through GoFundMe to help underprivileged children in Flint see Black Panther. The campaign raised enough to buy 750 tickets and Black Panther merchandise, according to the Washington Post

Although Flint’s lead levels are low enough for federal standards, residents say they’re still experiencing negative effects. Copeny has been running a campaign called “Don’t Forget Flint,” selling shirts to remind people that the water crisis isn’t over. Proceeds will go to the anti-bullying program TSP.

How to follow Copeny:

You can follow Copeny on Twitter, where she frequently posts with her mother’s supervision.

The young advocates fighting for equality on all fronts show just what modern feminism should look like. There’s no such thing as “too young” to be an activist. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/08/young-activists-to-follow/

Visionary physicist Stephen Hawking dies

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Media captionLooking back the life of Stephen Hawking

World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76.

He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday, his family said.

The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.

At the age of 22 Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease.

The illness left him in a wheelchair and largely unable to speak except through a voice synthesiser.

In a statement his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said: “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today.

“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”

They praised his “courage and persistence” and said his “brilliance and humour” inspired people across the world.

“He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”

A book of condolence is due to be opened at Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge, where Prof Hawking was a fellow.

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Media captionProfessor Brian Cox on the legacy and wonder of Hawking’s work

Prof Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology as a union of relativity and quantum mechanics.

He also discovered that black holes leak energy and fade to nothing – a phenomenon that would later become known as Hawking radiation.

Through his work with mathematician Sir Roger Penrose he demonstrated that Einstein’s general theory of relativity implies space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes.

The scientist gained popularity outside the academic world and appeared in several TV shows including The Simpsons, Red Dwarf and The Big Bang Theory.

He was portrayed in both TV and film – recently by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, which charted his rise to fame and relationship with his first wife, Jane.

The actor paid tribute to him, saying: “We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet.”

Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Prof Hawking in a BBC drama, said he was “a true inspiration for me and for millions around the world”.

Image copyright BBC/PA
Image caption Stephen Hawking was portrayed on TV and film by Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne

His most famous book – A Brief History of Time – has now shot to the top of the Amazon Best Sellers list.

The Motor Neurone Disease Association, of which Prof Hawking had been a patron since 2008, reported that its website had crashed because of an influx of donations to the charity.

Factfile: Stephen Hawking

  • Born 8 January 1942 in Oxford, England
  • Earned place at Oxford University to read natural science in 1959, before studying for his PhD at Cambridge
  • By 1963, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given two years to live
  • Outlined his theory that black holes emit “Hawking radiation” in 1974
  • In 1979, he became the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the Cambridge – a post once held by Sir Isaac Newton
  • Published his book A Brief History of Time in 1988, which has sold more than 10 million copies
  • In the late 1990s, he was reportedly offered a knighthood, but 10 years later revealed he had turned it down over issues with the government’s funding for science

Tributes have poured in for Prof Hawking since the announcement of his death.

Prof Lord Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, who was at university with Prof Hawking when he was diagnosed, said his friend had “amazing willpower and determination”.

Prime Minister Theresa May called him a “brilliant and extraordinary mind” and “one of the great scientists of his generation”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn praised the scientist for his “determination to explain the mysteries of the cosmos” and his “burning passion to protect our National Health Service.”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web, said: “We have lost a colossal mind and a wonderful spirit. Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking,” he said.

The vice chancellor of the University of Cambridge – where Prof Hawking had studied and worked – Professor Stephen Toope, said he was a “unique individual” who would be remembered with “warmth and affection”.

Prof James Hartle, who worked with him to create the Hartle-Hawking wavefunction to explain the Big Bang, said Prof Hawking had a “unique” ability to “see through all the clutter in physics” and get to the point.

He told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “My memory of him would be… first our work together as scientists and, second, as a human being whose whole story is a triumph over adversity [and] who inspired a lot of people, including me.”

The comedian and presenter of the BBC’s Stargazing Live Dara O’Briain said the scientist had an “immeasurable life” and “one of the few people I would call a hero of mine”.

Theoretical physicist, professor Jim Al-Khalili, from Surrey University said Prof Hawking had a tremendous sense of humour.

He told BBC Radio Surrey: “He was a fun loving guy. Inside that shell, inside that body that was paralysed, was someone who was full of vigour, full of passion for life.”

Hawking’s discoveries

  • With the Oxford mathematician Roger Penrose, he showed that if there was a Big Bang, it must have started from an infinitely small point – a singularity
  • Black holes radiate energy known as Hawking radiation, while gradually losing mass. This is due to quantum effects near the edge of the black hole, a region called the event horizon
  • He predicted the existence of mini-black holes at the time of the Big Bang. These black holes would have shed mass until they vanished, potentially ending their lives in an explosion that would release vast amounts of energy
  • In the 1970s, Hawking considered whether the particles and light that enter a black hole were ultimately destroyed if the black hole evaporated. Hawking initially thought that this “information” was lost from the Universe. But the US physicist Leonard Susskind disagreed. These ideas became known as the information paradox. In 2004, Hawking conceded that the information must be conserved

British astronaut Tim Peake said Prof Hawking “inspired generations to look beyond our own blue planet and expand our understanding of the universe”.

Gian Giudice, head of theoretical physics at the European nuclear research laboratory CERN, said Prof Hawking had a “great impact” on the centre’s research, adding: “A giant of our field has left us, but his immortal contributions will remain forever.”

Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak said: “Stephen Hawking’s integrity and scientific dedication placed him above pure brilliance,”

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Stephen Hawking arrives on the red carpet with former wife Jane Hawking (L) and daughter Lucy Hawking (R).

In his 2013 memoir he described how he felt when first diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

“I felt it was very unfair – why should this happen to me,” he wrote.

“At the time, I thought my life was over and that I would never realise the potential I felt I had. But now, 50 years later, I can be quietly satisfied with my life.”

Speaking to the BBC in 2002, his mother, Isobelle, described him as a “very normal young man”.

She said: “He liked parties. He liked pretty girls – only pretty ones. He liked adventure and he did, to some extent, like work.”


Did you ever meet Stephen Hawking? Share your memories of him by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43396008

France wants to become an artificial intelligence hub

Emmanuel Macron and his government are launching a big initiative around artificial intelligence today. They want to turn France into one of the leading countries when it comes to artificial intelligence.

“[Artificial intelligence] is a technological, economical, social and obviously ethical revolution,” Macron said in a speech. “This revolution won’t happen in 50 or 60 years, it’s happening right now. There are new opportunities and we can choose to follow some innovations or not.”

Some of the best mathematics and engineering schools are in France, and some of the best data scientists and AI researchers come from France. Many of them now work in California or London for Facebook, Deepmind, etc. And the French government wants to capitalize on that soft power to make an AI push.

And yet, how do you attract engineers and scientists? France’s answer is quite complicated because the government doesn’t want to inject a ton of public money and call it a day. It’s all about creating an AI ecosystem with strong pillars.

France’s AI strategy

First, many private companies have opened or plan to open AI research centers in France. Facebook and Google already work with hundreds of researchers in Paris. Today, Samsung, Fujitsu, DeepMind, IBM and Microsoft all announced plans to open offices in France to focus on AI research.

This represents tens of millions of dollars in investments and hundreds of employees. “Everybody is saying that Silicon Valley is overflowing right now,” a source close to the French President told me. That’s why big tech companies need to find talent outside of the U.S.

Foreign companies creating hundreds of jobs isn’t going to foster public research and European tech giants though — these companies are just tapping the smartest brains they can find. That’s why the French government wants to make it easier to work on fundamental research papers when you work for a private company.

The INRIA is going to create a national AI research program with four or five partners. The goal is quite simple — Macron said that there should be twice as many people studying and researching AI projects in France. Researchers will also be able to access and use some cloud computing capacities for their work.

It’s also going to get easier if you want to create a startup based on your research work or if you want to work for a private company during your PhD.

Second, France is going to set some new boundaries when it comes to data. French administrations are going to share new data sets so that anyone can build AI services using those data sets.

When it comes to health data, it looks like France wants to avoid another NHS/DeepMind scandal. While multiple French governments have worked on some kind of health data hub, Macron announced that this time it’s going to happen for real. The INDS is going to make sure that services and public institutions respect your privacy and grant authorizations on a case-by-case basis.

Third, when it comes to regulation, companies will be able to experiment in multiple industries. And it starts with autonomous vehicles. Companies will be able to test level 4 self-driving cars in 2019.

Overall, France is going to invest $1.85 billion (€1.5 billion) in AI projects, from public research to startup investments. Last year, Macron announced that there would be a new $11.2 billion (€10 billion) public fund managed by Bpifrance. Macron said today that AI startups should be the first priority of this new fund.

Making AI as neutral as possible

Arguably, the most interesting part of Macron’s speech was about the moral impact of artificial intelligence. As algorithms become more prominent, there’s a risk that they become black boxes that decide for you.

The French administration already has to share all its algorithms and data that they use following Axelle Lemaire’s law. But that’s still not the case for some touchy subjects. Macron said it’s still a work in progress.

Research projects or companies financed with public money will also have to share everything — this could impact public infrastructure companies for instance.

But it’s more complicated when you’re talking about private companies. Macron said GDPR was a step in the right direction. And now, he wants to go further.

He doesn’t have any practical suggestion for now, but he said that there should be an international certification authority. For instance, this authority could make sure that there’s no bias in training data sets. I don’t think Facebook or Google would enjoy this new regulation.

Finally, you introduce a bias if your staff is not diverse enough. That’s why schools and universities should make sure that they train a diverse group of people.

Not the first AI push

As Next INpact pointed out, there have been multiple reports on artificial intelligence over the past few years — FranceIA, the CNIL, the OPECST and the European Economic and Social Committee all wrote their own recommendations when it comes to AI policies.

Today, Fields medal winner and parliament member Cédric Villani shared a new report on artificial intelligence. It’s always an interesting read, and it was the inspiration for Macron’s speech today.

According to a source close to the French President, multiple ministers now have to focus on artificial intelligence for their own industries.

Today’s report feels more like a starting point than a conclusion. The French President thinks that AI is something important but not urgent. Now, it’s all about convincing the rest of the government to put aside all the urgent tasks for a minute and look at what’s important.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/29/france-wants-to-become-an-artificial-intelligence-hub/

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Gets Real About His Struggle With Depression Following His Mother’s Suicide Attempt: ‘I Was Crying Constantly’

Even the toughest people can break down.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is being commended for opening up about his battle with depression when he was 15 years old.

Related: The Rock’s 2-Year-Old Daughter Had A ‘Scary’ Medical Incident

The Rampage star got candid about his struggle one month after sharing the story of his mother’s suicide attempt on his Instagram page, revealing that the close call severely affected his mental health.

He explained to The Express:

“Struggle and pain is real. I was devastated and depressed. I reached a point where I didn’t want to do a thing or go anywhere. I was crying constantly.”

For Johnson, the “beast” of depression began to manifest after he watched his mother Ata try to kill herself by walking into oncoming traffic, months after they were evicted from their apartment.

He wrote in the post:

“Big rigs and cars swerving outta the way not to hit her. I grabbed her and pulled her back on the gravel shoulder of the road. What’s crazy about that suicide attempt is to this day, she has no recollection of it whatsoever. Probably best she doesn’t.”

Years after the scary incident, Johnson was let go from the Canadian Football League due to several injuries, shattering his dream of being a pro football player.

Shortly afterwards, his girlfriend broke up with him — which the actor calls his “absolute worst time,” adding that he could have easily grown suicidal like his mother had he not found the inner strength to carry on.

Related: Iggy Azalea Sought Treatment For Mental Health Issues

The Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle star decided to share the story after shooting a scene for the upcoming season of Ballers, which shows his character visiting the grave of a friend who committed suicide. While Johnson “didn’t like” filming the scene, he said it reminded him that we should do our best to “pay attention when people are in pain.”

Fans praised the actor for getting so real about his mental health struggles, which, in turn, made them feel less guilty about their own. Johnson commented on the big response Sunday night, reminding his followers that “depression never discriminates.”

Along with a like to a story covering his comments, he shared:

A hero on all fronts. Read the full story in his IG post (below):

Not your typical scene on our comedy #ballers, as I cracked a beer open toasting my character’s brother, William who committed suicide. Got me thinkin’ though bout how many of us have been affected by suicide of our friends, family. Struggle and pain is real. We’ve all been there on some level or another. My mom tried to check out when I was 15. She got outta the car on Interstate 65 in Nashville and walked into oncoming traffic. Big rigs and cars swerving outta the way not to hit her. I grabbed her and pulled her back on the gravel shoulder of the road. What’s crazy about that suicide attempt is to this day, she has no recollection of it whatsoever. Probably best she doesn’t. Shits of a scene to shoot – didn’t like it – but it did reminder that we always gotta do our best to really pay attention when people are in pain. Help ‘em thru it, get ‘em talkin’ about the struggle and remind ‘em that they’re not alone. We got lucky that day when I was 15 and that ain’t always the case.

A post shared by therock (@therock) on Feb 1, 2018 at 12:45am PST

[Image via WENN.]

Read more: http://perezhilton.com/2018-04-02-dwayne-johnson-rock-depression-struggle-mental-health-mother-suicide-attempt

Lesbian and bisexual women have no health problems, says government health agency

Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Image: chris kleponis-pool/Getty Images

Congratulations, everyone! Lesbian and bisexual health problems are officially over.

Or so it would seem, if you believe the Department of Health and Human Services’ website. According to the Sunlight Foundation, a government transparency project, HHS removed pages from it’s Office on Women’s Health site that focused on lesbian and bisexual women’s health.

HHS told Politico, who first reported the story, that the pages were taken down because of a “routine update.” However, they appear to have been gone since September — and none of the missing information has been restored to the site.

Bisexual and lesbian health is no longer listed as a topic on the page, which has existed since 2012. @WomensHealth, the official HHS Twitter account, hasn’t had an update about lesbian and bisexual women’s health since 2016.

“The removal of lesbian and bisexual health materials in particular, without advance notice and in a targeted way, raise concerns that they’ve targeted information for vulnerable populations,” Andrew Bergman of the Sunlight Foundation told Politico.

This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has eliminated critical information about at-risk groups from government websites. When Trump was elected, one of the first things to go was the government’s official page on LGBTQ rights. In October 2017, the EPA eliminated references to climate change on their website. In December, the National Park Service took down climate change plans for over 90 parks.

Nothing to see here, folks! Lesbian and bisexual women are in perfect health, and climate change doesn’t exist. 

Proceed normally — with a chronic sense of despair.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/21/lgbtq-womens-health-removal-hhs/

Some officials wanted Stoneman Douglas suspect Nikolas Cruz committed in 2016, report says

Some school counselors and officials were so concerned about the mental stability of Nikolas Cruz, accused in last month’s Florida school massacre, that they reportedly decided to have him forcibly committed more than a year before the shooting.

However, the recommendation was never acted upon.

Documents in the criminal case against Cruz showed that school officials at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and a sheriff’s deputy recommended in September 2016 that Cruz be involuntarily committed for mental evaluation under Florida’s Baker Act for at least three days, according to The Associated Press.

The documents, part of Cruz’s criminal case in the shooting, showed that he had written the word “kill” in a notebook, told a classmate that he wanted to buy a gun and use it, and had cut his arm supposedly in anger because he had broken up with a girlfriend. He also told another student he had drunk gasoline and was throwing up. Calls had even been made to the FBI about the possibility of Cruz using a gun at school.

Students are seen fleeing Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where Nikolas Cruz is accused of having killed 17 people.  (AP)

The documents were provided by a psychological assessment service initiated by Cruz’s mother called Henderson Behavioral Health. The documents showed a high school resource officer who was also a sheriff’s deputy and two school counselors recommended in September 2016 that Cruz be committed for mental evaluation under Florida’s Baker Act. That law allows for involuntary commitment for mental health examination for at least three days.

Such an involuntary commitment also would have been a high obstacle if not a complete barrier to legally obtaining a firearm, such as the AR-15 rifle used in the Stoneman Douglas massacre on Feb. 14, authorities said.

NIKOLAS CRUZ HAD GORY, VIOLENT FANTASIES YEARS BEFORE FLORIDA SHOOTING, REPORT SAYS

Nikolas Cruz is seen during a hearing flanked by his lawyer Diane Cuddihy.  (AP)

When reached by Fox News, the special counsel for the school district would not confirm the existence of the documents.

There is no evidence Cruz was ever committed. Coincidentally, the school resource officer who recommended that Cruz be “Baker Acted” was Scot Peterson — the same Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy who resigned amid accusations he failed to respond to the shooting by staying outside the building where the killings occurred.

David S. Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor, said that an involuntary commitment would have been a huge red flag had Cruz attempted to buy a firearm legally.

“If he had lied, hopefully the verification of the form would have pulled up the commitment paperwork,” Weinstein said.

The documents did not say why Cruz was not committed under the Baker Act or whether he may not have qualified for other reasons. The law allows a law enforcement officer such as Peterson to initiate commitment under the Baker Act.

An attorney for Peterson did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Sunday.

Stoneman Douglas High School students mourn the death of their classmates after a gunman opened fire and killed 17 people.  (AP)

Cruz, 19, was charged in a 34-count indictment with killing 17 people and wounding 17 others in the attack. He faces the death penalty if convicted, but his public defender Melisa McNeill has said he would plead guilty in return for a life prison sentence.

In the Henderson Behavioral Health documents, Cruz’s mother Lynda was quoted as saying she had new concerns about her son’s mental state after he punched holes in a wall at their home in Parkland. The clinicians at Henderson came to the home for interviews and said Cruz admitted punching the wall but said he did so because he was upset at a breakup with his girlfriend.

NIKOLAS CRUZ REPORTED TO POLICE FOR THREATS, PUNCHING WALLS MONTHS BEFORE FLORIDA SHOOTING

Cruz also admitted cutting his arm with a pencil sharpener.

After a Sept. 28, 2016 interview, the documents say Cruz “reports that he cut his arms 3-4 weeks ago and states that this is the only time he has ever cut. (Cruz) states that he cut because he was lonely, states that he had broken up with his girlfriend and reports that his grades had fallen. (Cruz) states that he is better now, reports that he is no longer lonely and states that his grades have gone back up.”

He also told the clinician he owned only a pellet gun and was not capable of doing “serious harm” to anyone.

The documents showed that Cruz was very much on the radar screen of mental health professionals and the Broward County school system, yet very little apparatently was done other than these evaluations.

Other red flags also have surfaced, including calls to the FBI about Cruz’s potential to become a school shooter and numerous visits by county law enforcement officials to his home – both before his mother died in November and after, when he lived briefly with a family friend in Palm Beach County.

Again, very little was done.

It’s not clear from the documents who the recommendation was forwarded to or why it was not followed up.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/03/18/some-officials-wanted-stoneman-douglas-suspect-nikolas-cruz-committed-in-2016-report-says.html

Under Fire and Losing Trust, Facebook Plays the Victim

On Tuesday morning, Facebook employees were quiet even for Facebook employees, buried in the news on their phones as they shuffled to a meeting in one of the largest cafeterias at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Mark Zuckerberg, their chief executive officer, had always told them Facebook Inc.’s growth was good for the world. Sheryl Sandberg, their chief operating officer, had preached the importance of openness. Neither appeared in the cafeteria on Tuesday. Instead, the company sent a lawyer.

The context: Reports in the  and thethe previous weekend that Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting firm that advised President Trump’s electoral campaign on digital advertising, had effectively stolen personal information from at least 50 million Americans. The data had come from Facebook, which had allowed an outside developer to take it before that developer shared it with Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook tried to get ahead of the story, announcing in a blog post that it was suspending the right-leaning consultancy and that it no longer allowed this kind of data sharing. Its users—a cohort that includes 2 billion or so people—weren’t ready to forgive. The phrase #DeleteFacebook flooded social media. (Among the outraged was WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who in 2014 sold Facebook his messaging app for $19 billion.) Regulators in the U.S. and Europe announced they were opening inquiries. The company’s stock fell almost 9 percent from March 19-20, erasing about $50 billion of value.

QuicktakeFacebook and Cambridge Analytica

In most moments of crisis for the company, Zuckerberg or Sandberg have typically played damage-controller-in-chief. This time, the employees got all of 30 minutes with Paul Grewal, the deputy general counsel. the news reports were true—a blame-deflecting phrase that struck some as odd—Grewal told them, Facebook had been lied to. Cambridge Analytica should have deleted the outside developer’s data, but it didn’t. Reporters were calling this a breach, but it wasn’t, because users freely signed away their own data and that of their friends. The rules were clear, and Facebook followed them.

One employee asked the same question twice: Even if Facebook played by its own rules, and the developer followed policies at the time, did the company ever consider the ethics of what it was doing with user data? Grewal didn’t answer directly.

A Facebook spokesman declined to comment for this story, referring to a January post by Zuckerberg stating the CEO’s aim to get the company on a “better trajectory.” On Wednesday afternoon, Zuckerberg published a post promising to audit and restrict developer access to user data. “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you,” he wrote. “I've been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn't happen again.”

Read more: Silicon Valley Has Failed to Protect Our Data. Here’s How to Fix It

Of course, Facebook has weathered complaints about violating user privacy since its earliest days without radically altering its practices. The first revolt came in 2006, when users protested that the service’s news feed was making public information that the users had intended to keep private. The news feed is now the company’s core service. In 2009, Facebook began making users’ posts, which had previously been private, public by default. That incident triggered anger, confusion, an investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and, ultimately, a consent decree. In 2014, the company disclosed that it had tried to manipulate users’ emotions as part of an internal psychology experiment.

As bad as each of these may have seemed, Facebook users have generally been unfazed. They’ve used the service in ever-greater numbers for greater amounts of time, in effect trading privacy for product. They were willing to give more and more data to Facebook in exchange for the ability to connect with old high school friends, see pictures of their grandkids, read only the news that they agree with. The concept was dubbed Zuckerberg’s Law in 2008, when the CEO argued at a conference that each year people would share twice as much information about themselves as they had the year before. Notions of privacy were eroding, Zuckerberg said in 2010. “That social norm,” he added, “is just something that has evolved over time.”

For a while, the only thing Facebook needed to do to keep growing was to remove barriers to downloading and using the product. By 2014, it had reached almost half the world’s internet-connected population, and Zuckerberg realized the only way to expand further was to add people to the internet. While Facebook invested in internet subsidy programs in developing countries, it also went on an acquisition binge, buying up popular social software makers such as Instagram and WhatsApp.

These moves led to annual revenue growth of about 50 percent, with most of the increase coming from mobile ads, and converted the company’s Wall Street doubters. Last year, even as Facebook was forced to acknowledge that it had played a role in the Russian disinformation campaign during the election of Trump, investors pushed its stock price up 53 percent.

But the big blue app, as employees call Facebook’s namesake service, hasn’t changed much in years. The company has tweaked its algorithm, at times favoring or punishing clickbait-style news and viral videos, but most people use the service the same way they did two or three years ago. And some people are simply over it. In North America, Facebook’s daily user counts fell for the first time in the fourth quarter, and time spent on the site declined by 50 million hours a day. Facebook claimed that this was by design: Zuckerberg was focusing on helping users achieve “time well-spent,” with the news feed de-emphasizing viral flotsam.

The company positioned its new algorithmic initiative as a reaction to a study co-authored by one of its employees, arguing that while Facebook could be bad for users' mental health if they used it passively, more active use was actually good for you. The study could be viewed as a rare show of corporate transparency or a novel way to goose engagement.

Some of the moves, however, look even more desperate. Now, when people stop going on Facebook as often as usual, the company sends them frequent emails and text messages to encourage them to re-engage. It’s also getting more aggressive about suggesting what users should post.  According to some employees, the focus on time well-spent just means the company will point to metrics such as comments and personal updates as signs of growth, rather than genuinely improving the user experience.

In the long run, Facebook wants to make its product even more immersive and personal than it is now. It wants people to buy video chatting and personal assistant devices for their homes, and plans to announce those products this spring, say people familiar with the matter. It wants users to dive into Facebook-developed virtual worlds. It wants them to use Facebook Messenger to communicate with businesses, and to store their credit-card data on the app so they can use it to make payments to friends.

Employees have begun to worry that the company won’t be able to achieve its biggest goals if users decide that Facebook isn’t trustworthy enough to hold their data. At the meeting on Tuesday, the mood was especially grim. One employee told a reporter that the only time he’d felt as uncomfortable at work, or as responsible for the world’s problems, was the day Donald Trump won the presidency.

BOTTOM LINE – As its share price tanks and regulators circle, Facebook is struggling to answer basic questions about its next moves, even from its own employees.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-21/under-fire-and-losing-trust-facebook-plays-the-victim

Rob Kardashian Has ‘Very Little Contact’ With Blac Chyna Amid Fitness Bounce Back

Rob Kardashian is surrounding himself with positive vibes only!

According to a People report published on Monday, the KUWTK star has “very little contact” with ex Blac Chyna, even though she recently wished him happy birthday on social media.

Related: Caitlyn Jenner Still Considers The Kardashians Her Children

The insider reveals:

“As soon as he realized his family was right about Chyna and removed himself from all the drama, Rob started doing much better… He is on good terms with the family again and everyone is happy about it.”

Now that his life is baby momma drama-free, the Arthur George designer is focusing on his fitness, and his daughter Dream Kardashian.

“Rob is eating better and has a trainer — he wants to stay healthy for his daughter’s sake… He’s focused on what he should be focused on: Dream and his health… He wants to stay healthy for his daughter’s sake. Dream was a huge wake-up call for Rob. He wants to be the best dad possible… Rob spends a lot of time with Dream and he is a great dad… He really wants to give his daughter the best life.”

As we previously reported, the 31-year-old — who has publicly battled weight gain, depression, and type 2 diabetes in the past — “needs to get his eating in check” but has been “more active” lately.

You got this, dude!

[Image via DJDM/WENN.]

Read more: http://perezhilton.com/2018-03-26-rob-kardashian-blac-chyna-kuwtk-little-contact-fitness-journey

Why Midwives Are Fast Becoming More Popular Than OBGYNs

Midwives often come up in conversations of home births and even Goop moms, often deemed problematic. But theyre fast becoming an effective primary and reproductive health care option as womens access to healthcare (especially if theyre low-income) is rolled back.

The rising profile and respectability of midwives has also sparked debate over whether they can be part of major public health solutions in the United States. But certified nurse-midwives and certified midwives independent practice within the healthcare system is still limited, varying by state.

Independent has become a dirty word, Lisa Kane Low, president of the American College of Nurse Midwives and associate professor at the University of Michigans School of Nursing, said. Powerful organizations such as the American Medical Association, according to Kane Low, take the word independent to mean not within any kind of health care structure that supports interaction and collaboration.

A first-of-its-kind study published last month in the journal PLOS One found states where midwives are more integrated into the system also reported better maternal care outcomes.

Advocates for untethering midwives from physicians say the stigma around independence hurts women, especially as physicians organizations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have supported their full scope, autonomous practice, as qualified, accountable providers who work collaboratively with ob-gyns in an integrated maternity care system that promotes seamless access to appropriate care.

When you are in the trenches together, we support each other. It doesn't feel like there's a turf war. It feels like we are all working together.
Holly Smith, California Nurse Midwives Association

If a nurse midwife is trained appropriately to provide well woman services or primary care services, we support that, Dr. Hal Lawrence, ACOG's CEO and EVP, told The Daily Beast. A model of team-based care, which ACOG supports, does not mean a doctor must always supervise a midwife.

But doctors and nurses dont make the legal cut, and the power struggle for midwives has run deep. A century ago, midwives were subordinated as physician specialization grew. Dr. Joseph DeLee, considered the founder of modern obstetrics, declared childbirth a pathologic process, introduced forceps, sedatives and episiotomies and denounced midwives as a relic of barbarism.

The United States attitude toward midwives differs from other developed countries, including Canada, Australia and England, where midwives lead the obstetric system with stronger birth outcomes.

Currently, full supervision requirements in five statesCalifornia, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Floridaand partial supervision requirements in dozens of others limit the services midwives can provide, and where they can provide them. This restriction can especially hurt low-income and rural communities, according to Kane Low. In 27 states and D.C., certified nurse-midwives can legally practice without physician supervision.

Something that always has been a core part of midwifery is going where we are needed, Sheri Mateo, secretary of the California Nurse-Midwives Association, told The Daily Beast. More midwives would do that if we werent tethered to physicians. By allowing certified nurse-midwives or certified midwives to practice independently in more areas of the country, ACNM argues, women would have more access to primary and maternal health care.

What people dont realize is that there are different categories of midwives, who work mostly in hospitals and deliver less than 9 percent of births in the United States. In the U.S., becoming a certified-nurse midwife requires a person to be an advanced-practice nurse with a masters degree to meet the standards set by the tight-knit International Confederation of Midwives. A certified midwife has or receives a receive less training background in a health-related field (not nursing), graduates from an accredited midwifery education program, and must pass the same exams as her nurse peers.

It boils down to who is in control, said Kane Low, whos practiced as a CNM for 30 years. And unfortunately in some states, partially through the lens of the AMA, the idea that you would be independent is turned into somehow youre going to go rogue.

A New Public Health Crisis

A doctor shortage is looming, and the U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world, especially for black women. Meanwhile, employment of nurse-midwives increased by about 23 percent between 2014 and 2016.

More than half of rural U.S. counties lack hospital obstetric services. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that women in rural areas are 64 percent more likely to die in childbirth than in urban areas. God damnit! Rural areas should only have higher concentrations of Waffle Houses! the late-night Samantha Bee joked in a skit on the maternal health care crisis in January. Maternity-care deserts also rely heavily on Medicaid, a program Republicans have long been promising to gut.

Midwives work with healthy, child-free women to provide birth control, abortions, or routine exams. About 50 percent of CNMs identify reproductive care and 33 percent identify primary care as regular responsibilities, according to the ACNM.

Critics of midwives independent practice, including the AMA, think we are trying to remove obstetrics, Holly Smith, health policy co-chair of California Nurse-Midwives Association, said.

Obstetrics include procedures like fetal screening and Caesarean sections. "We feel that we made a lot of progress in making connections with our physician counterparts, Smith added. We are attempting to change a law and a culture of care that has been around for decades and permeates the way we think about the best way to care for women during pregnancy and birth.

At the center of the debate over what to make of midwives is the political battle over womens health, on which both the government and scientific community have historically fallen short.

A 2014 editorial in the New York Times referenced British research that found midwives delivered safer uncomplicated pregnancies than doctors, and alluded to the longstanding turf war between obstetricians and midwives.

Midwives in general are huge patient advocates, and throughout the health care system, they bump into areas where women are not getting their needs met, Julia Phillippi, a CNM and assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, told The Daily Beast. Phillippi authored a 2015 paper about this very topic in the Journal of Midwifery and Womens Health.

We cost less to pay, we have good outcomes for low-risk women, Phillippi added. If you are a health system trying to care for vulnerable women who don't have health insurance, nurse midwives are often a cost-effective option.

Many women are simply unaware that they can seek primary care from a midwife.

I worked for years clinically as a midwife. We would say we work full scope… We had to stay in our lane and do OBGYN care, Mateo said. It has varied for midwives across the board, and many times we are not being allowed to function to the top of our education, to the top of our license.

Some midwives who work under doctors on a regular basis say its harmonious and not necessarily reflective of the higher-level politics. But the position of ACNM is that such restrictions create ambiguity around which provider is accountable and how power is distributed on a teamthough that might change in the future.

When you are in the trenches together, we support each other, Smith, the CNM in California, said. It doesn't feel like there's a turf war. It feels like we are all working together.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-midwives-are-fast-becoming-more-popular-than-obgyns