Posts tagged with "USA Today"

Kids left alone with baby monitor: There’s ‘no point’ in sitters, one mom says—but experts sound the alarm

January 9, 2023

Parenting experts are sounding the alarm about stories circulating of parents leaving their children home alone with nothing but the audio and video feeds from a baby monitor to connect parents and kids, reports Fox News.

A recent example of “babysitting by baby monitor” involved late ABC News executive producer Dax Tejera, 37, and his wife Veronica. The husband suffered a heart attack and died on December 23 while the couple were out in New York City, according to multiple reports.

Their two small children, reportedly two years old and five months old, were left alone in a hotel room with only a baby monitor while the couple was reportedly out to dinner around the corner.

Veronica Tejera, 33, was arrested and charged with two counts of child endangerment just hours after her husband’s passing, after police received a call from the hotel about “unattended children” at the location, said USA Today.

“We had two cameras trained on my children as they slept, and I monitored them closely in the time I was away from them,” Veronica Tejera said in part in a statement provided to Entertainment Tonight and the New York Post.

“While the girls were unharmed, I realize that it was a poor decision,” she also said.

 Meanwhile, last fall an unidentified young mother left her infant at a rental apartment in the Outer Banks of North Carolina while she and her husband went to the beach located five minutes away.

“We sat on the beach and watched the monitor,” the woman recently told the New York Post for an article on the topic. The monitor has a built-in app that alerts a cellphone with notifications when it senses movement or sound, the woman also said.

“We do it all the time. There’s no point in having a babysitter. We frequently go back and check in on him, too,” the woman added.

While monitors offer convenience and “eyes and ears” on a child when parents are separated from them physically, should parents really trust baby monitors exclusively with their children’s health and safety?

One Michigan-based pediatrician  with over 30 years of experience in treating children offered a resounding “no.”

“Parents are increasingly leaving their children alone in their homes or cars, believing that they can keep their child safe by carrying a video monitor with them,” Dr. Meg Meeker, who is also the author of several books, including “7 Keys to Staying Sane During the COVID-19 Crisis,” told Fox News Digital via email this week.

“Here’s what parents miss,” Dr. Meeker continued. “When an accident happens to a baby or child, it happens in seconds, not minutes. And parents must respond within seconds, not minutes.”

Calling response time “a matter of life and death” to a child, Dr. Meeker said that permanent brain injury is only one possible tragic outcome. “How long can a choking baby stop breathing before his brain is damaged?” Meeker said.

“Not long. How much smoke can a child inhale in a burning home before he passes out? How quickly should a child get to a hospital if he falls and becomes unconscious?”

The answer to that, she said, is nothing less than “as soon as possible.” Meeker also said, “I have profound respect for the quickness with which kids can have life-threatening injuries.”

She added, “We are trained to work fast because we know that speed matters when treating a hurt child.”

She continued, “Parents don’t realize how quickly they must act—and they simply can’t do this if they aren’t physically present.”

Meeker added, “Fires can break out, babies can choke, suffocate, fall or even — God forbid — have a stranger break into the home and take the child.”

While noting that “parents certainly need to have time away from their baby,” she emphasized that a videocam is “no substitute for a person” when it comes to taking care of a child.

“There is a place for video monitors, but they should never replace a person within short reach of a child,” she said.

Research contact: @FoxNews

CVS and Walgreens say they plan to sell the abortion pill

January 9, 2023

Walgreens and CVS on Wednesday said they plan to sell the abortion pill after the U.S. Federal Drug Administration relaxed its rules on January 5 on where patients can buy the drug. In addition, Rite Aid it is reviewing the FDA action and will comply with federal and state law, reports USA Today.

The announcements from the pharmacy chains come one day after the FDA said any certified mail and brick-and-mortar pharmacy can dispense the abortion pill mifepristone. Patients will still need a prescription but will no longer be required to pick it up in person at a doctor’s office or clinic.

Mifeprex (mifepristone) and its generic Mifepristone Tablets, 200 mg (collectively mifepristone) are approved, in a regimen with Misoprostol, to end an intrauterine pregnancy through ten weeks gestation (70 days or less since the first day of a patient’s last menstrual period). The FDA first approved Mifeprex in 2000 and approved a generic version of Mifeprex, Mifepristone Tablets, 200 mg in 2019.

Mifepristone is used to dilate the cervix and block the hormone needed to sustain a pregnancy. Mifepristone is followed up with a second medication called Misoprostol that causes the uterus to contract and expel tissue.

CVS and Walgreens will need to get certified in the FDA’s program before they can begin selling the drug, and the new rule won’t change access for those in states where abortion is restricted.

Independent pharmacies also have expressed interest in dispensing the abortion pill, according to Ronna Hauser, senior vice president of policy and pharmacy affairs at the National Community Pharmacists Association, which represents about 19,400 independent pharmacies nationwide.

Research contact: @USATODAY

Nearly half of young adults are living at home with their parents

December 19, 2022

Young adults in the United States are choosing to live with their parents in an effort to save on rent, according to findings of a new study, reports Fox Business.

Inflation concerns and record-high prices in rent, groceries, and other amenities have caused nearly half of all young adults (48%) between the ages of 18 and 29 to choose to live with their parents, a conglomerate of analysts found, citing data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The data came from a Pew Research Center analysis, USA Today, the University of Minnesota, and a team of Morgan Stanley analysts led by Edouard Aubin.

One sector that has benefited from the Millennial and the Gen Z decision to stay at home is luxury retailers, the report found, as young adults are spending less (or nothing) on rent and are then using the extra disposable income on higher-end brands of clothing and luxury items. Only one in five Millennials living at home say that their parents charge them rent. Of those, nearly half were paying less than $500 per month.

“When young adults free up their budget for daily necessities, they simply have more disposable income to be allocated to discretionary spending,” Aubin said in the report. “We see it as fundamentally positive for the [luxury] industry.”

“When asked about the incentives to move in with parents, 51% of the young adults said that it was to save money and 39% of them said that it was because they could not afford rent,” said in a survey published on December 5.

The survey, conducted by Pollfish, included 1,200 Americans ages 26 to 41, and about one in four said they lived with a parent.

Aubin and his team of analysts found some of those polled also cited a desire to pursue higher education—using the cheaper rent option to help cover its costs—and intentionally choosing not to depart from their parental protection until their debts are paid off.

The analyst said developments in social media also have helped prompt the additional luxurious spending.”This is of course not the only reason luxury-goods consumers are getting younger in the West (social media also playing an important part), but we see it as fundamentally positive for the industry,” the analysts reported.

Other payment options for luxury goods, such as buy-now-pay-later have also facilitated the increase in high-end spending, according to Quartz.

The report found the figure of young adults staying at home is the highest it has been for decades. The 2022 figure, although down slightly from 2020 (49.5%), is the highest it has been dating back to the 1940s. The recent record was likely exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research contact: @FoxBusiness

McCarthy plans to block three Democrats from committees if he becomes House Speaker

November 22, 2022

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy served further notice on Sunday, November 20, that his potential speakership will be politically volatile—saying he will try to kick three high-profile Democrats off of certain committees, reports USA Today.

Democrats said McCarthy will do whatever his right wing wants him to do because he still lacks the votes to land the speaker’s job.

In stumping for the position, McCarthy has targeted Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Representatives Adam Schiff (D-California), and Eric Swalwell (D-California), members of the House Intelligence Committee.

McCarthy and other Republicans have for months said that these members’ past statements and actions regarding issues like Israel, China, and Russia should keep them off these committees.

“I’ll keep that promise” to remove them, McCarthy told Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures.

Schiff and other Democrats said McCarthy is trying to court support from hard-right conservatives like Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia)—who was expelled from committees during a 2021 vote of the full House because of her incendiary statements about Democrats.

“I suspect he will do whatever Marjorie Taylor Greene wants him to do,” Schiff said on ABC’s This Week. “He is a very weak leader of his conference, meaning that he will adhere to the wishes of the lowest common denominator. And if that lowest common denominator wants to remove people from committees, that’s what they’ll do.”

McCarthy is favored to become Speaker of the House when Republicans take over the chamber next year—but it is not yet a done deal.

Conservative Republicans like Representatives Andy Biggs of Arizona and Matt Gaetz of Florida said they will oppose McCarthy. Every vote counts because the GOP majority will likely be no more than ten seats.

“He does seem to be struggling” to get to the 218 votes necessary to win the speakership, said Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York), who is expected to be Democratic leader in the next Congress.

“Let’s see what happens on January 3,” Jeffries said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), who is retiring from Congress and ran afoul of McCarthy over the latter’s support of Donald Trump, told CNN that the presumed speaker has made a lot of promises to Greene and other hard-right conservatives.

Right-wing Republicans won’t be happy if McCarthy has to cut deals with Democrats to get essential business done, Kinzinger said, and he could wind up as their political hostage.

“I, frankly, don’t think he’s going to last very long,” Kinzinger said. “Maybe he will prove me wrong. But it’s sad to see a man that I think had so much potential just totally sell himself.”

Research contact: @USATODAY

Custom Nikes, Adidas for horses: This Kentucky sneakerhead is extending ‘drip’ to hooves

November11, 2022

In today’s sneakerhead craze, humans are extending their shoe “drip” to horses—who now can have trendy kicks for the first time, from a company named Horse Kicks, reports by USA Today.

Marcus Floyd, a 39-year-old sneaker designer based in Kentucky, is offering his innovative sneakers fitted for horse hooves to the world’s most elite equine athletes in “the horse capital of the world,” VisitLEX, Lexington’s convention and visitors bureau, said in a statement.

“If LeBron James can have his own custom sneakers, why shouldn’t American Pharoah?” said Mary Quinn Ramer, President of VisitLEX.

In partnership with VisitLEX, Floyd’s business —which is not affiliated with Nike, New Balance or Adidas—specializes in using human sneakers to bring fashionable footwear to the surrounding Lexington horse farms.

A horse named Bear became the “poster-horse” for Horse Kicks by starring in the brand’s photography and teaser video as the first horse to don a sneaker made by Floyd. 

Floyd learned how to do reconstruction while studying at The Shoe Surgeon’s SRGN Academy in Los Angeles, the statement said.

“As far as I know, I’m the only one in Kentucky doing cut and sew reconstruction of sneakers, and definitely the only one in the world doing it for horses,” Floyd said in the statement. “It was a unique challenge for sure.”

The sneakers, which are taken apart and reconstructed on top of a common protective boot made specifically for horses, are finished with Floyd’s equine-esque logo.

The debut sneaker line was on display during a pop-up event in Lexington during this year’s Breeders’ Cup Festival on November 4 and 5.

“It spotlights Lexington’s creative culture and one of our most talented artists in Marcus,” Ramer said.

Three “one-of-a-kind” sneakers from this collection will be donated and auctioned off during the Sneaker Ball Lex event in Lexington on Saturday, Nov. 12. To order a pair of sneakers, inquire at

Research contact: @USATODAY

‘Like 13-year-olds invented a sport’: Face-slapping league gets go-ahead in Vegas

October 25, 2022

Cue the Will Smith jokes: The much-maligned president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Dana White, has the green light for a new venture—the Power Slap League, reports The Guardian.

Though much remains uncertain about the new league, slap fighting is pretty much what it sounds like: two people face each other and take turns smacking one another on the side of the head with an open hand.

The Nevada state athletic commission voted last week in Las Vegas—a city known for carefully considered decisions—to oversee the slap-fighting league, supporting a controversial sport that already has seen one competitor die.

Videos this year from one competition, the Slap Fighting Championship held on May 21, show some fairly brutal hand-to-face contact while the recipient simply stands there and takes it. Some blows lead to knockouts. Seated on the sidelines, Arnold Schwarzenegger weighs in: “Thank God it wasn’t me that got slapped.”

Hunter Campbell, the UFC’s chief business officer, said his team had spent a year working with commission officials to develop rules for the league built on those of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). “It made all the sense in the world to go toward regulation before the sport’s commencing, for all the obvious reasons: No. 1, the health and safety of the competitors,” he told ESPN.

Safety rules will include requirements for protective gear, such as mouthguards and earplugs, and regulations on which parts of a face can be slapped. Campbell and officials also called for blood testing, brain scans. and on-site medical staff.

But even MMA enthusiasts appear to have serious reservations, The Guardian reports.

The primary concern: “​​It’s all offense and no defense,” writes Trent Reinsmith at the UFC news site Bloody Elbow. “It’s common to see competitors badly concussed or fall completely unconscious from the blows.” On his Substack The Fighting Life, the journalist Ben Fowlkes describes the sport as “what you’d get if you let 13-year-old boys invent a new sport”.

On Twitter, Luke Thomas, a combat sports analyst for CBS, wrote: “If boxing is to hit and not be hit, slap fighting is kinda the opposite where getting hit is specifically arranged and done without impediment. Nevada’s commission is pretty shameless.” USA Today’s Simon Samano posted: “It might as well be kicking each other in the nuts.”

Slap fighting has existed in various forms for years; it was mocked on Fox Sports as far back as the early 2000s. But it grew in popularity in the early days of the pandemic, with help from viral videos. Last year, a Polish competitor, Artur “Waluś” Walczak, was knocked out several times at an October event and died the following month in the hospital after being put in a medically induced coma, Reinsmith notes.

White, himself, has been the subject of numerous controversies. He has told fighters concerned with UFC pay to “shut up and fight” and backed the organization’s decision to feature the ex-NFL player Greg Hardy, who was convicted of domestic abuse, though the charges were expunged after an appeal. He is an ardent supporter of Donald Trump and spoke at the 2016 Republican national convention.

Campbell said the Power Slap League hopes to have a “major broadcast partner” by year’s end. It has not yet been decided when the slapping will begin.

Research contact: @guardian

What is ‘gray rocking’? A way to set boundaries with the narcissist in your life

August 24, 2022

When dealing with manipulative or narcissistic people in your life, the best option is to cut contact and leave. But what if that isn’t possible?

The reality is, not everyone can escape from a toxic relationship—especially when it involves co-workers, in-laws or a co-parent. That’s why relationship and mental health experts are recommending an alternative in setting boundaries with these people, and it’s called the “gray rock method,” reports USA Today.  

Also known as gray walling or gray rocking, this strategy involves being as disengaged and unresponsive as possible. The goal is to keep your responses limited in order to make the person you are communicating with lose interest in you. That’s why relationship and mental health experts are recommending an alternative in setting boundaries with these people, and it’s called the “gray rock method,” reports USA Today. 

“It’s when somebody tries to make themselves as boring and nonreactive as possible to decrease the amount of provoking or emotional reactions,” Deborah Ashway, a licensed mental health counselor in North Carolina, recently told USA Today. “Because when somebody doesn’t give the manipulator the responses they want, they’re no longer able to push their buttons.”

What exactly is gray rocking and how can we do it?  Some examples include avoiding eye contact, maintaining a flat tone in your communication, or responding with simple answers like “yes,” “no,” or “I didn’t know that.”

“The first step is to visualize yourself as a gray rock,” says Holly Richmond, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “You’re this immovable, impenetrable force who is disinterested. If they ask you a question, say yes or no and don’t give details about your life or admit you’re practicing this gray rock method.”

Richmond says she recommends gray rocking over yelling or defending yourself, which are likely to provoke the narcissist’s damaging behavior.

However, those who are co-parenting after a separation may want to opt for a slight variation of gray rocking called yellow rocking, which involves “the infusion of a little more emotion in communication,” according to Ramani Durvasula, a clinical psychologist and author of “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

“You can’t be a complete robot in front of your kid, so yellow rocking infuses a bit more emotion into the communication that goes beyond the flatness of gray rocking,” Durvasula says. “For example, instead of just saying yes, no, you say, ‘Oh wow, I didn’t know. Thank you so much.'”

While experts say gray rocking is effective in the long run, it may do more harm than good, and not everyone can stomach it.

“This method could aggravate them more, because they’re not getting the reaction they’re used to,” Ashway warns. “They may feel their power slipping or their control over you waning, and as a result, they might double down on the manipulation tactics they used to provoke a reaction out of you.”

But Durvasula says it’s important to protect yourself from toxic people, and suggests victims remember the acronym DEEP: Don’t defend. Don’t engage. Don’t explain. Don’t personalize.

Research contact: @USATODAY

‘He’s with them still’: Family reunited with message in bottle written by son who died decades ago

August 18, 2022

A Mississippi family has been reunited with a message in a bottle written by their late son 33 years ago, reports USA Today.

“Love never goes away,” said Eric Dahl, 68, who—with his wife Melanie and son Chris traveled about 200 miles from Oxford, Mississippi to meet the shipyard workers in Vicksburg who found the bottle during an otherwise ordinary salvaging trip on the Yazoo River.

The bottle was completely intact and still remained sealed.

“I’m always that way,” said Billy Mitchell, the salvage diver who first spotted the green bottle floating above a barge. “I always look for stuff that’s unique —driftwood or anything … I told my buddy, I said, ‘there’s a message in this bottle!'”

Mitchell grew even more curious; in his 20 years in the business, he says he’s never once found anything like it. Half an hour later and with the help of “shish kebab sticks,” he says he gently extracted the wilted paper from the glass bottle and let it dry out.

Most of the note was destroyed but he and his boss, Brad Babb, started to reconstruct what was left of it. They deciphered the last name Dahl, the year 1989, the location of Oxford Mississippi, a “please”, “thank you,” and a phrase that made them laugh: “Call or phone.” It was all in a child’s handwriting.

“We’re all kids at heart really. We could all envision ourselves as that 11-year-old boy,” said Babb, safety manager at Big River Shipbuilders in Vicksburg, Mississippi. “It really just fueled us to go and say, ‘let’s go find this guy’ cause this is kind of a kindred spirit where, ‘would I want somebody to find me? Yes I would.'”

They stayed late at work and started calling nearby school districts for leads. They kept each torn piece of the note in a safe place—even taping it down to the desk, so it wouldn’t be accidentally thrown out by someone cleaning up. And they talked about it day and night at work and at home. But it wasn’t until they posted a photo of the note on the company’s Facebook page, which was widely shared, that the mystery began to reveal itself.

“Never thought it would take on the life it’s taken, but so glad that it has,” said Babb.

On an extremely hot and humid summer day, the Dahl family saw the bottle and note for the first time sitting on a table at the shipbuilders’ office. They take a moment to examine the unbroken glass and read the note.

“One thing that jumps out at me is an 11-year-old boy saying ‘please’,” says Eric with a smile. “Knowing that something he wrote is connecting strangers, that really helps.”

While the shipyard workers initially thought the Dahl’s son Chris had written the note, it was Eric and Melanie’s other son, Brian, who composed the message. An athlete who beat cancer at one point, Brian died in an accident at home at the age of 29.

“He was victorious in his life because of the relationships he established, the bonds with other people,” said Eric. “And he continues to inspire connections.”

The message in a bottle was a sixth-grade class project in 1989. Martha Burnett, now 82, was his teacher. “We had a field trip. We dropped our bottles in the water, and for many years we heard nothing,” said Burnett from her home in Oxford, Mississippi.

The class had launched their bottles in Mississippi’s Talahatchie River. Burnett says one bottle was found years later in Louisiana. Brian’s, however, floated an estimated 200 miles to the Yazoo River.

It happened to float into a canal, where Mitchell was able to find it. But had the bottle taken just a slightly different turn, it could have ended up in the vast Mississippi River and possibly even the Gulf of Mexico.

“Who would ever have imagined this would happen?” said Burnett. “I think it brings him back to life in a way.”

Burnett says she told all her students to write their names and hometown on the paper and seal their bottles with wax to keep them tightly closed. The bottle’s survival is a testament, she says, to how well Brian listened in class.

Eric, Melanie, and Chris all marvel at how something so small from decades ago could prove so meaningful all these years later. Eric says they don’t feel like new friends, but rather, like instant family.

“He’s with them still,” said Mitchell. “I think that’s what the note meant when we found it. To let his parents know that he was watching over them as well.”

Research contact: @USATODAY

‘It wouldn’t be my choice for judge’: Senate Democrats slam Biden’s planned anti-abortion pick

July 13, 2022

Several Senate Democrats said on Monday, July 11, that they planned to vote against the confirmation of a conservative, anti-abortion federal judge nominee if President Joe Biden follows through with a purported deal with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, reports USA Today. 

The strong reaction from Democrats on Biden’s planned nomination of attorney Chad Meredith in Kentucky raised the prospects that the president’s own party could block the pick, should he move forward.

“All I’m going to tell you is I’m going to vote no,” said Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) on Monday. “It’s his call, but if he asked me for my advice I would say I don’t know how many Democrats are planning on voting yes.”

Biden has not formally nominated Meredith, a Federal Society attorney who has fought against abortion rights.  But—as first reported exclusively by The Courier Journal—a White House official informed Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear‘s office in an email on June 23 that the Biden Administration planned to nominate Meredith to a U.S. District Court judgeship in Kentucky’s Eastern District the next day.

The next morning, however, the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade—ending the constitutional right to abortion and sending shock waves across the nation. Meredith’s intended nomination was not announced or submitted.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which takes up federal judicial nominations, said he spoke last week to the White House about the potential Meredith nomination.

“What’s in it for us? They didn’t give a specific answer,” Durbin told reporters, according to Politico. He said Democrats would not support Meredith’s confirmation “on his merits alone.”

Durbin told USA TODAY he needs to “know more,” including whether there was any arrangement with McConnell, adding: “It wouldn’t be my choice for judge.”

Biden could try to win support of a Meredith nomination with Republican votes in an evenly divided Senate. But a president fighting his own party for a lower-court judicial nominee would be highly unusual, and he would have to overcome a Judiciary Committee controlled by Democrats.

McConnell has refused to comment until Biden officially submits a nominee, but his camp has dismissed talk of a deal as “false information.”

Biden’s potential nomination of Meredith has fueled a backlash from progressive activists who have demanded bolder action from the Biden Administration after the Supreme Court decision.

Several pro-abortion-rights groups have called the potential nomination “unacceptable” and demanded Biden not move ahead with it.

nominated,” Brown said. “He should not send the name on.”

Research contact: @USATODAY

Senate Democrats warn of G.O.P. effort to restrict abortion nationwide

May 10, 2022

Democrats rang alarm bells on Sunday, May 8, about the likelihood that Republicans would try to restrict abortion nationwide, two days after an interview was published in which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said a ban was “possible” if his party gained control in Washington, D.C., reports The New York Times.

On the Sunday talk shows and in other public statements, Democratic senators said Republicans would not stop at letting the states decide the issue, but would most likely push for federal restrictions. That made it paramount, they said, that the Democratic Party maintain control of the Senate as it tries to codify abortion rights into federal law.

“We need to make sure that every single voter understands that the Republican Party and Mitch McConnell does not believe that their daughters, that their mothers, that their sisters have rights to make fundamental life and death decisions,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We are half-citizens under this ruling. And if this is put into law, it changes the foundation of America.”

After a leaked draft decision indicated that the Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that established a constitutional right to abortion, McConnell said in an interview with USA Today that a national abortion ban was “possible” if that draft document became an official opinion of the court.

“If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies—not only at the state level but at the federal level—certainly could legislate in that area,” McConnell said when asked if a national abortion ban was “worthy of debate.”

McConnell argued that the discussion about a federal ban was premature, but that it was clear that the Republican Party has long been opposed to abortion.

Discussions already are underway among some Republican senators about pushing to ban abortion after a certain number of weeks, ranging from six to 20, depending on the proposal.

“If and when the court makes a final decision, I expect everybody will be more definitive,” McConnell said. “But I don’t think it’s much secret where Senate Republicans stand on that issue.”

Indeed, the Times reports, a document circulated by the National Republican Senatorial Committee and obtained by Axios urged candidates to be low key about abortion, casting themselves as “compassionate consensus builders” with a post-Roe America looming as early as next month.

“States should have the flexibility to implement reasonable restrictions,” the document states.

Research contact: @nytimes