Velvet Revolution dissidents warn against new threats to Czech freedom

On the 30th anniversary of the uprising, Vclav Havels allies say the revolutions ideals are again at risk Times have changed dramatically since Monsignor Vclav Mal endured interrogations, beatings and the indignities of being barred from the priesthood while being forced to clean toilets as the price of campaigning against Czechoslovakias communist regime. As a signatory and then spokesman for Charter 77, a civic initiative demanding respect for human rights that was led by, among others, the dissident playwright Vclav Havel, the clergyman was on the frontline of opponents targeted by the hated secret police. Yet this weekend, exactly 30 years after the Velvet Revolution began, ushering in the overthrow of the totalitarian system, Mal now Roman Catholic auxiliary bishop …

From working at a doughnut shop to the Federal Reserve: The unlikely journey of Mary Daly

New York (CNN Business)Mary Daly never could have imagined she would be here. “If you asked me back then: Did I think this was in my future? The answer was absolutely not,” Daly told CNN’s Poppy Harlow in a Boss Files interview. “I thought my future included being a bus driver. And that would have been a really great job, but I got lucky.” Daly’s family didn’t have much money.They were always just one emergency away from falling through the cracks. ‘I was drowning, honestly’ But Daly was lifted back up when Betsy, a successful woman in her thirties who was a friend of Daly’s guidance counselor, took the teenager under her wing. Betsy encouraged Daly to get her GED. …

Big plastic polluters accused of cynically backing US recycling day

America Recycles Day promoted by EPA is brainchild of not-for-profit backed by companies that produce plastic products Americas government-backed national recycling awareness day is being used as cover by large corporations that are churning out enormous volumes of plastic that end up strewn across landscapes, rivers and in the ocean, critics have said. The America Recycles Day event on Friday is being vigorously promoted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a way to encourage Americans to recycle more. But critics point out that the initiative is the brainchild of Keep America Beautiful, a not-for-profit founded and backed by large companies that produce vast quantities of plastic products that end up as pollution. Current backers include Coca-Cola, Nestl, Pepsico, …

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards projected to win second term, beating GOP’s Rispone

Republican candidate Eddie Rispone, left, shakes hands with Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards before a debate last month. (Associated Press) Edwards, 53, was helped when Louisiana’s top-tier GOP officials decided against running for the seat. Rispone, the 70-year-old owner of a Baton Rouge industrial contracting company, had never run for office and had little name recognition. He hitched his entire candidacy to Trump, introducing himself in ads that focused on support for the president. Rispone poured more than $12 million of his own money into the race. But he had trouble drawing some of the primary vote that went to U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, after harshly attacking Abraham in ads as he sought to reach the runoff. Rispone also avoided many …

An astonishing week closes with a wild new window into Trump’s style

(CNN)Every week feels weird and wild lately, but this one included some particularly difficult setbacks for President Donald Trump. David Holmes, the aide to Bill Taylor who testified behind closed doors Friday, said he and two more witnesses overheard the Sondland and Trump conversation over the phone when Sondland was in a Ukrainian restaurant July 26. Manu Raju had it first and read the opening statement live on CNN. The phone wasn’t on speaker, but Trump’s voice was loud enough to be audible through the earpiece, Holmes testified. He detailed a conversation that veered from Zelensky, who “loves your ass,” Sondland told Trump. “So he’s gonna do the investigation?” Trump asked, according to Holmes. The call then moved on to …

What Rudy and ‘Three Amigos’ were up to

(CNN)It was a powerful television moment: the ex-US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, listening to a snippet from a rough transcript of President Donald Trump — the man who ousted her — predicting to a foreign leader, “She’s going to go through some things.” “Let’s be clear: his tweet was terrible,” Republican strategist Doug Heye wrote. “It was also nonsensical. To blame Ambassador Yovanovich for the 1990s troubles in Somalia, where she served as a foreign service officer, not ambassador, is so preposterous it can be dismissed out of hand.” Frida Ghitis summed up Yovanovich’s role: “An American hero, attacked by an American president; removed from her post not because she failed to do her job but because she was …

This man wants to convince America beef is healthier than meatless burgers

Richard Berman is running a campaign to educate the public on plant-based meat burgers such as Impossible and Beyond Beef The food industry has a weapon of mass destruction. His name is Richard Berman. And he has his sights set on destroying the growing appetite for meatless burgers and plant-based meat substitutes. Berman has form in this line of work. A longtime Washington DC lobbyist and PR strategist, he has advised and tried to shield some of Americas most powerful industries from criticism. Berman has waged campaigns against animal welfare groups, labour unions and even Mothers Against Drunk Driving. His efforts earned him the title Dr Evil from his critics. He embraces the nicknames, displaying them prominently on his website. …

Cigarette use among US adults hits record low while vaping rates rise: CDC

Cigarette smoking rates among US adults have dropped to an all-time low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (iStock) NEW YORK RAISES AGE TO PURCHASE TOBACCO AND E-CIGARETTE PRODUCTS TO 21 The health agency has named vitamin E acetate, which is found in THC-containing vape products, as the possible culprit in the outbreak. The CDC said earlier this week the chemical compound, which is typically used as a nutritional supplement, was found in lung fluid from 29 patients tested in a government lab. CDC Director Robert R. Redfield called the “marked decline” in cigarette smoking among U.S. adults an “achievement of a consistent and coordinated effort by the public health community and our many partners.” “Yet, …

Is there such a thing as a ‘national emergency’?

Have governments declared ‘national emergencies’? During World War One and Two the government was given wide-ranging emergency powers which were then repealed after the wars ended. Industrial action after World War One prompted new legislation to give governments the power to deal with such situations. The Emergency Powers Act 1920 was then used 12 times, according to a House of Lords report published earlier this year – the last time being the coal miners’ strikes of 1973-74. Today, the government has a definition of what constitutes an “emergency”, under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 but it does not use the phrase “national emergency”. Such an emergency can be declared when “an event or situation threatens serious damage to”: Human welfare …

Two of the world’s biggest economies are at risk of recession

London (CNN Business)Happy Sunday. A version of this story first appeared in CNN Business’ Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber? You can sign up right here. “With today’s data, a technical recession is not yet a done deal,” Carsten Brzeski, ING’s chief German economist, told clients, noting that Germany could have avoided another contraction “at the very last minute.” Recession or not, the reality is that Germany’s economy, the largest in Europe, looks very weak. A reminder of that could give investors a jolt. “The fact remains that the German economy has been in de facto stagnation for more than a year,” Brzeski said. “This is clearly nothing to become too cheerful about.” Not to be missed: Also on …

Hospital waiting times at worst-ever level

“I’m afraid when I look at the rival proposals and the economic disaster that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party would cause, that will make it impossible for us in the long term to fund the NHS.” But Labour leader Mr Corbyn said the performance figures were “disgusting” and a lack of staff and funding was to blame. And Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman Luciana Berger said the Tories had a “shameful” record. Is the NHS facing unprecedented demand? All the parties are proposing to increase the NHS budget. The government announced a five-year funding plan last year, which would see the front-line budget rise by 3.4% a year up to 2023. On Wednesday, Labour said it would spend more – …

Santa Clarita high school shooting: suspect dies as motive remains unclear

Los Angeles county sheriff says California shooting killed two and injured three others Investigators in southern California are working to figure out why a suspect opened fire outside his high school on his 16th birthday, killing two fellow students and wounding more before turning the gun on himself. The latest deadly school shooting to hit the US started early on Thursday morning at Saugus high school in Santa Clarita, 30 miles north of Los Angeles. The student pulled out a .45-caliber handgun around 7.30am in a large central outdoor area at the school, shooting five classmates and then himself, authorities said. A 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy succumbed to their injuries. They were identified as Gracie Anne Muehlberger and …

‘I live on the street now’: how Americans fall into medical bankruptcy

Having health insurance is often not enough to save Americans from massive debts when serious illness strikes Its been over a dozen years since Susanne LeClair of West Palm Beach, Florida was first diagnosed with cancer and shes been fighting ever since. Now she, like many other Americans facing life-threatening illness, is bankrupt despite having health insurance. Before her first cancer-related surgery, LeClair was told by the hospital they accepted her employer-based health insurance. Susanne LeClaire. Photograph: Courtesy the family I paid my $300 copay. After the surgery, I started receiving all these invoices and came to find out the only thing covered was my bed because the hospital was out of network, said LeClair. My bills were hundreds of …

Our fight against the Dakota Access pipeline is far from over

Several 2020 candidates have pledged to overturn the DAPL permits as the battle continues in the courts In 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribes peaceful and principled opposition to a new crude oil pipeline crossing our ancestral homelands and our water source captured the worlds attention. Although the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) has been operating for more than two years, the Tribes defense of water and earth hasnt faded from memory and continues to shape national conversations about how our choices affect this planet, our home. Several presidential hopefuls, including senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, recently pledged to revoke the DAPL permits if elected. That is the right thing to do; we ask all candidates to join …

Google’s secret cache of medical data includes names and full details of millions whistleblower

Whistleblower tells Guardian of growing alarm over secret transfer of medical history data, which can be accessed by Google staff A whistleblower who works in Project Nightingale, the secret transfer of the personal medical data of up to 50 million Americans from one of the largest healthcare providers in the US to Google, has expressed anger to the Guardian that patients are being kept in the dark about the massive deal. The anonymous whistleblower has posted a Wall Street Journal, involves the transfer to Google of healthcare data held by Ascension, the second-largest healthcare provider in the US. The data is being transferred with full personal details including name and medical history and can be accessed by Google staff. Unlike …

Vaccines Fast Facts

(CNN)Here’s a look at information and statistics concerning vaccines in the United States. Exemptions to vaccines fall into three general categories: medical, religious and philosophical. Median immunization coverage for state-required vaccines was approximately 94.3% for children entering kindergarten during the 2017-2018 school year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of July 2019, 45 states and the District of Columbia allow religious exemptions from vaccines, and 15 states allow philosophical (non-spiritual) exemptions. Timeline 1855 – Massachusetts mandates that school children are to be vaccinated (only the smallpox vaccine is available at the time). February 20, 1905 – In Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the US Supreme Court upholds the State’s right to compel immunizing against smallpox. November 13, …