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Science

NASA astronaut captures shocking photo of California wildfires from the ISS

Over the past two weeks wildfires have broken out across southern California, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes.

The wildfires were sparked by extreme weather conditions, and have destroyed nearly 100,000 acres in a matter of weeks.

Now, a NASA astronaut on board the International Space Station (ISS) has revealed that the wildfires are so vast that they can actually be seen from space.

Andrew Morgan, who is on the ISS for a nine-month mission, snapped a photo of the fires in the Bay Area.

He posted the photo to his Facebook page, writing: “From the International Space Station I was able to catch these pictures of the California wildfires burning north of the Bay Area.

“Thinking of the people who have lost their homes and the brave first responders on the front lines protecting them.”

NASA’s satellites are often the first to detect wildfires in remote regions.

NASA explained: “Together, NASA instruments detect actively burning fires, track the transport of smoke from fires, provide information for fire management, and map the extent of changes to ecosystems, based on the extent and severity of burn scars.”

The photos of the wildfires from space come shortly after Donald Trump threatened to cut federal funding for the wildfires.

Mr Trump blamed California’s Governor Gavin Newsom for the wildfires, claiming that he had done a "terrible job of forest management".

He tweeted: “Every year, as the fire's (sic) rage & California burns, it is the same thing – and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor.”

However, Mr Newsom replied: “You don't believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation."

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Technology

Lyft app to display U.S. ride-hail alternatives as congestion concerns mount

(Reuters) – Lyft Inc on Tuesday said it will roll out changes to its app, allowing users to switch between different modes of transportation at a time when U.S. cities become wary of worsening traffic caused by ride-hailing.

The San Francisco-based company, which operates in over 300 cities across the United States and Canada, said a new version of the app would be pushed to users on Tuesday. Over the coming weeks, the app will not only display nearby ride-hail vehicles, but also compare the cost and travel times of other transportation options.

Lyft operates bike-share services in eight cities and scooters in 20 cities, options which will be integrated into the app. The new version will also show rental car options.

Detailed information on public transportation alternatives will become available early next year for Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Washington, Lyft said.

Lyft and its competitor Uber Technologies Inc have come under growing pressure as cities around the United States accuse ride-hailing companies of worsening congestion by taking riders off public transit and putting them into individual ride-hail cars.

A May study published by a group of researchers in collaboration with the city of San Francisco attributed half of the city’s increase in congestion between 2010 and 2016 to ride-hail vehicles.

New York’s Department of Transportation in 2018 found ride-hail cars to make up 30% of vehicles during peak traffic hours in Manhattan, causing the city regulator to impose a cap and other restrictions on those services.

An August study commissioned by Lyft and Uber confirmed an increase in inner-city congestion attributable to ride-hailing vehicles. It also found that on average close to half of the cars’ trips take place without a passenger in the backseat.

But the study also showed that the use of private and commercial vehicles still far outstrips the traffic caused by ride-hailing vehicles.

Lyft on Tuesday said tests of its new app design showed a significant increase of engagement and usage of bikes, scooters and public transit information.

“At Lyft, we’re working toward a future where cities are centered around people, not cars,” John Zimmer, Lyft’s co-founder and president said in a statement, adding that the app changes will “unlock better transportation solutions” for city dwellers across the country.

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Technology

This app lets you donate, interact with the homeless

In November of 2015, Jonathan Kumar stood on a street corner in Seattle and watched wincingly as a man begged for twenty minutes and not a single car opened a window for him.

“He stood there painfully, seeking diabetes medication for his feet after recently ending up on the street,” Kumar, who was working for a tech startup at the time, told Fox News. “As person after person passed by him, I eventually approached him and had a conversation. I realized that, despite the undeniable visibility of the problem, it was not being seen that affected this man. Edward was experiencing not just financial poverty, but a profound sense of relational poverty.”

It was that one encounter with Edward that spurred Kumar to take the matter into his own hands – and by September 2016 the Samaritan app was in-motion and the first smart wallet – also referred to as a “beacon” – made its way into the hands of a needy individual in his community.

“Our primary outcome is unhoused individuals, improving their factors for better health and housing outcomes, Kumar explained. “And the secondary outcome is the cultural change of helping people realize the humanity behind situations of homelessness. In Seattle, housed residents with the Samaritan app can learn the stories of beacon holders.”

Here’s how it works.

People with the app on their phone will receive a notification when in close proximity with a homeless person – referred to as a “beacon holder” – and they are then given the opportunity with a click on the profile to learn their name and background, what led them to the streets and if the user chooses, to donate money to assist.

Beacon holders are only able to use the funds donated to them at approved partner locations which include businesses such as supermarkets, second-hand clothing stores, coffee shops and clinics. Individuals are first enrolled and issued beacons – also called smart wallets – from certified nonprofits and medical clinics, such as the Salvation Army and community centers that focus on street outreach and case management.

Once a person has a beacon they can access funds from passersby and other individuals and organizations endeavoring to help. Samaritans can give directly to an individual, write them a letter of encouragement, offer an introduction or connection depending on their skills, hire them for a gig like making art or music and invite friends to also join.

There is also a “general fund” people can donate to, which is divided equally over all those in need, depending on the goals they complete or positive actions they take in their community, Kumar said.

Samaritan data to-date shows that donors – or “Samaritans” – have invested some $100,000 in their local beacon-holding population and more than 1,000 notes of encouragement have also been sent their way. The beacon is free to use, but each holder must renew it on a monthly basis by sitting down with a designated counselor to “share progress, set goals and share needs for the 30 days ahead.”

According to Kumar, the app has been used by more than 10,000 “good Samaritans” in the Seattle area alone and has helped hundreds to “address critical needs and dozens to enter housing, employment and substance disorder treatment.”

By the end of 2018, Seattle was deemed to have the third-largest homeless population in the United States, just behind New York and Los Angeles and the fastest growing – with more than 12,000 officially declared homeless, an increase of 4 percent from the previous year.

But homelessness is far from isolated to a few major cities and over the past decade has spawned into a national epidemic.

Kumar’s long-term goal is to see the app spread across the United States.

“Samaritan’s vision is to equip health organizations and nonprofits in 100 cities and by 2023 to surround people struggling through homelessness with the financial and relational capital needed to leave the street,” he continued.

On any single night in the US, over half a million people sleep on the streets or in emergency accommodations – according to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress. Between 2017 and 2018, the unsheltered population increased by two percent, meaning an additional 4,300 Americans spent their nights without a roof over their heads.

Next up, the app is expected to roll out in Los Angeles – which has almost 60,000 homeless people – in time for Thanksgiving. The Illumination Foundation and Skid Row Housing Trust are expected to utilize the app’s technology, as well as the Bowery Mission and New York Rescue Alliance in New York City, which currently has a homeless population of more than 63,000.

In particular, Kumar underscored, several US veterans have benefitted from becoming beacon holders and the app has served as a way for people to directly support individuals who have served the country. For one, John was struggling with mental illness and addiction for decades after having served in Vietnam. After accepting a beacon, he received $136 in just ten days – along with several messages of support and fortitude.

“Without spending a dollar, John checked into a fulltime patient rehab for the first time,” Kumar recalled, noting that John attributed his new lease on life to the complete strangers who had invested and believed in him, fueling him with a desire to invest in himself.

Ultimately, the Samaritan message is simple.

“These are our neighbors. As much as others ignore them, you don’t have to. We’re never more likely to do something than in the moment we see the need with our own two eyes,” reads the mission statement. “This app exists to provide a simple, compassionate response. Walk with, not by.”

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Categories
Science

Two black bears caught in intense fight in New Jersey backyard

Two bears fight each other in front yard of New Jersey home

Raw video: Two bears spotted fighting each other in the front yard of a residence in Branchville, New Jersey. Filmer Corey Bale believes the bears were fighting over a female.

Two black bears were caught on video in a front-yard brawl outside a New Jersey home last week.

The bears appeared to be on their hind legs swatting and nipping at each other, while residents in Frankford Township watched the incredible sight.

“When I went out to look, I actually heard the bears’ jaws hitting together as they were fighting and growling at each other,” Corey Bale, who recorded the video on May 3, told NJ.com.

Bale said he watched the fight from his yard. He told NJ.com he believed it was two male bears fighting over a female bear, but it wasn’t immediately clear.

After the fight was over, Bale said he found bear hair and blood in his backyard.

New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection has warned residents of bear sightings as the weather grows warmer.

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Categories
Fashion

Mum blasts plus-size clothing brand who used stick-thin models to advertise knickers by stretching them out

A FURIOUS mum has slammed a plus-size clothing store after she was ‘disgusted’ by their use of thin models who advertised their garments by STRETCHING them out.

After looking to buy plus-sized lingerie online, Kristin Russell – who wears a US size 24 [UK size 28] – said she came across an online clothing store called ‘Plus Sized Baby’ that supposedly specialised in catering to larger women.

The 31-year-old mum-of-one from Falls City, Nebraska, USA, said she was excited at the prospect of being able to purchase plus-sized lingerie online.

But she claimed she was ‘shocked and disgusted’ after seeing how the company advertised their clothing.

Instead of using plus-sized women to model their clothes, the online store has taken photographs of petite models wearing larger clothes – despite the garments being far too big for their frame.

The models have then stretched out the clothing with their hands to show the true size.

In one photograph used to advertise a pair of black leggings, the model has even squeezed her entire body into one pant leg.

Restaurant owner Kristin said: “I had never actually heard of the company before, but I came across their website one day after one of their advertisements popped up on Twitter."

She continued: “I was looking to buy some nice lingerie, and I do prefer buying online as it can be difficult to find nice plus-sized underwear in stores.

“I saw one of their photos of a stick-thin model wearing a pair of underwear and she was stretching it out with her hands as far as it would go."

She continued: “I thought it must have been a mistake. I didn’t think anyone would advertise that way.

“But the website was full of them and they just got more offensive as you keep looking. It just made me feel bad about myself.

“I honestly have no idea why they’ve chosen to advertise in this way. I don’t know if perhaps they were just embarrassed to have someone of a bigger size wearing their clothes.

“It’s not helpful at all. Besides being offensive, I can’t actually see how the garment is going to fit.

“When you’re ordering online, all you have to go off is seeing how that item of clothing fits somebody else so you can imagine how it would look on you."

I don’t know if perhaps they were just embarrassed to have someone of a bigger size wearing their clothes.

She said: “But you can’t compare when they’re advertising this way. It’s impossible.

“The cherry on top was when they put a girl in one pant leg. It’s just bizarre and so demeaning.

After feeling ‘deeply offended’ by the company’s advertisements, Kristin decided to share her thoughts online in an emotive Facebook post – and was shocked after it rapidly went viral, racking up over 40,000 likes and shares in less than 48 hours.

On their website, 'Plus Size Baby' claim to be supportive of all women and encourage women of all sizes to 'be proud' of their bodies – even giving reasons as to why being plus-sized is 'cool'.

She said: “I had some friends I wanted to share it with, so instead of messaging them about it I decided to share it.

“I never expected the post to go so viral. But it’s obvious with how many shares it’s got, that lots of people feel the same way that I do.

“You don’t see clothing for petite women being advertised by plus-sized women who can’t fit the garments. It makes no sense.

“I really just hope that the company take these comments seriously and consider changing their website.

“You want to feel sexy when buying lingerie, regardless of what size you are. But sadly, nothing about their website made me feel good.”

‘Plus Size Baby’ has been contacted for comment.

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An obese dad, 27, who tipped the scales at 29st sheds half his body weight with these simple lifestyle tweaks.

And a mum shed a staggering 8st by ditching Starbucks coffees – after docs warned her she faced life in a wheelchair.

This plus size woman was branded 'porky' and a 'fat pig' by cruel online trolls – so she reported them to the police.

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World News

Donald Trump snaps at CBS interviewer Lesley Stahl as she probes him on Brett Kavanaugh and Russian meddling

He told CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl "I'm President and you're not" during exchanges over Brett Kavanaugh and Russia.

The pair also batted-around North Korea, the Mueller investigation and climate change during Sunday's half hour head-to-head.

It was Trump's first appearance on 60 Minutes since he entered the White House.

At one point Stahl challenges on his comments about Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

Trump denied he "made fun of her" before saying: "I’m not going to get into it because we won. It doesn’t matter. We won."


On Russia

The Predident doubled down on his assertion that there was no collusion with the Kremlin.

Trump said: "I think it’s a very unfair investigation because there was no collusion of any kind."

Pressed if he would vow on camera to shut down the investigation, he replied: "Why should I pledge to you? If I pledge, I’ll pledge.

"I don’t have to pledge to you."

He added: "Do you really think I’d call Russia to help me with an election? Give me a break.

"They wouldn’t be able to help me at all. Call Russia. It’s so ridiculous."

He did agree that Russia had meddled in elections but added: “They — they meddled. But I think China meddled too.”

Trump said he got "tough" with  Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Helsinki in July.

He said: "It was a very tough meeting and it was a very good meeting."

Asked about Putin’s involvement in assassinating political foes, Trump said, “Probably he is, yeah.”

“But I rely on them, it’s not in our country."

On Brett Kavanaugh

Stahl challenged Trump over "making fun" of Brett Kavanaugh's alleged sex attack accuser Christine Blasey Ford.

She pointed out his audience was clapping and laughing as he challenged her testimony at a rally in Mississippi earlier this month.

He said: "Had I not made that speech, we would not have won.

"I was just saying she didn't seem to know anything."

On North Korea

Stahl also pressed him on comments he made after meeting North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un.

Trump told supporter they wrote each other "beautiful letters and fell in love".

“You love him?” Stahl asked.

“That’s just a figure of speech,” Trump replied.

But “he’s a bad guy,” she pressed.

“Look. Let it be whatever it is. I get along with him really well. I have a good energy with him.

"I have a good chemistry with him.

"Look at the horrible threats that were made. No more threats. No more threats."

On immigration

Trump defended his zero-tolerance immigration policy and separating children from their parents at the border.

He said: "The same as the Obama law. You know, Obama had the same thing."

Stahl said that Obama did not enforce the law.

Trump added: "When you don't do it, when you allow the parents to stay together, okay, when you allow that, then what happens is people are gonna pour into our country."

Trump blamed himself for attracting illegal immigrants by making the US economy so strong.

On the anonymous New York Time op-ed

Trump suggested the paper could have authored the controversial whistle-blowing article.

On climate change

Trump denied that Hurricane Michael and other "super storms" were proof of climate change.

He said: "Something's changing and it'll change back again. I don't think it's a hoax, I think there's probably a difference.

"But I don't know that it's manmade."

On being President

In a lighter moment, Trump said it was “surreal” to refer to himself as the president.

“Now I very much feel like POTUS. I do.

"I feel like the president. You know, for a little while, it’s like ‘Mr. President, sir.’

"Even my friends, they don’t call me Donald, they call me Mr. President."



 

 

 

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