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Search Resumes For Man Whose Girlfriend Disappeared On Cross-Country Trip

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Search Resumes For Man Whose Girlfriend Disappeared On Cross-Country Trip

NORTH PORT, Fla. (AP) — More than 50 law enforcement officers on Sunday started a second day of searching in a vast wildlife area near Florida’s Gulf Coast for a 23-year-old man that authorities consider a person of interest in the disappearance of his girlfriend who went missing while on a cross-country trek.

The search for Brian Laundrie resumed at the more than 24,000-acre (9,712-hectare) Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County, Florida, a wildlife area with more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) of trails, as well as campgrounds.

Laundrie and Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, 22, left in July on a cross-country trek in a converted van to visit national parks in the U.S. West. Police said Laundrie was alone when he drove the van back to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida, on Sept. 1. Petito’s family filed a missing persons report Sept. 11 with police in Suffolk County, New York.

Laundrie has been identified as a person of interest in the case.

“It is important to note that while Brian is a person of interest in Gabby’s disappearance, he is not wanted for a crime,” North Port police said in a statement. It added that the investigation is now a “multiple missing person” case.

Laundrie’s family members told investigators that the last time they saw him was on Tuesday when they believe he went to the wildlife reserve in the Sarasota area.

Petito’s family had been pleading for the Laundrie family to tell them where their son last saw her. Petito and Laundrie were childhood sweethearts who met while growing up on Long Island, New York. His parents later moved to North Port, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Sarasota.

The couple’s trek in the Fort Transit van began in July from Long Island. They intended to reach Oregon by the end of October according to their social media accounts, but Petito vanished after her last known contact with family in late August from Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, authorities said.

The FBI in Denver said Saturday that agents have begun conducting ground surveys at Grand Teton National Park, with help from the National Park Service and local law enforcement agencies, seeking clues to Petito’s disappearance.

FBI agents tweeted that they were focusing on an undeveloped camping area near Spread Creek on the east boundary of the park, which was closed to the public during the surveys. They urged anybody who had been there between Aug. 27 and 30, and had seen Petito, Laundrie or their vehicle, to contact them.

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Hollywood crew members reach a tentative deal with major studios, averting a strike

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Hollywood crew members reach a tentative deal with major studios, averting a strike


The Hollywood sign above homes in the Hollywood Hills.

Hollywood crew members and major studios have averted a nationwide strike, according to AP. Earlier this month, crew members in the union IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, voted to authorize a strike if they couldn’t reach a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). They’d been negotiating over pay, work schedules and more since May. A strike would have effectively shut down much of the film and TV production in the country. The union announced today that they’ve reached a deal.

At issue were quality of life issues and the health and safety of those who work behind the scenes in the film and television industry. That includes cinematographers, lighting technicians, makeup artists and the food workers who feed the casts and crews.

In recent weeks, many have been sharing their stories on social media, where some have complained of grueling call times that cause sleep deprivation and little time to be with their families. Some were asking to be compensated more for productions that are streamed online and not released theatrically. They’ve been working with lower rates since 2009, when the streamers were just beginning.

The arts and entertainment industries have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. According to a recent report by Americans for the Arts, 63% of artists and creative workers were unemployed at the height of the pandemic in 2020.



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Texas School Official Apologizes For ‘Opposing’ Views On Holocaust Comment

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Texas School Official Apologizes For ‘Opposing’ Views On Holocaust Comment

A north Texas school superintendent has apologized for an administrator’s instruction that students be taught “opposing” views on the Holocaust.

The executive director of curriculum and instruction at the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake was recorded earlier this month suggesting to a group of teachers that a new Texas law requires them to present “opposing” perspectives on events, no matter how horrifying they might be.

“Make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has opposing — that has other perspectives,” instructed the official, Gina Peddy, as teachers reacted in stunned surprise

NBC News published a recording of the comments on Thursday.

District Superintendent Lane Ledbetter issued a statement later on Thursday offering his “sincere apology,” and insisting that Peddy’s comments were “in no way to convey the Holocaust was anything less than a terrible event in history.”

He added: “Additionally, we recognize there are not two sides to the Holocaust.”

Peddy was reacting to the state’s hugely controversial new curriculum law, which eliminated a requirement to teach that the Ku Klux Klan is “morally wrong,” among numerous other changes.

The law is a thinly veiled attempt to overwhelm the teaching of critical race theory in schools with requiring “opposing” views.

“The idea is to whitewash American history of any legacy of racism,” state Rep. James Talarico (D) said of the law when it passed. An additional consequence of whitewashing racism appears to be soft-pedaling anti-Semitism.

The law prohibits teachers from discussing “a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs.” If a teacher does engage in such a discussion in the classroom, the educator is required to “explore such issues from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.”

The Holocaust — namely, Nazi Germany’s murder of 6 million Jews — is not a “widely debated” or “currently controversial” issue.

Clay Robison, a spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association union, told The Washington Post that Peddy’s instruction to teachers was “reprehensible.”

“We’re saddened to hear it, but we’re not terribly surprised,” said Robison. “There is enough vagueness and ambiguity in that law that some educators are overreacting to it, as we feared that they would.”

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Joe Manchin’s objections to a clean energy program threaten Biden’s climate promises

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Joe Manchin’s objections to a clean energy program threaten Biden’s climate promises


Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, speaks to members of the media while departing the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 7. Manchin has reportedly told the White House that he opposes the key climate measure in Biden’s multitrillion-dollar climate and social programs package.

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Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, speaks to members of the media while departing the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 7. Manchin has reportedly told the White House that he opposes the key climate measure in Biden’s multitrillion-dollar climate and social programs package.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden had promised to halve U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030, but an essential tool the administration planned to use to achieve that goal now appears out of reach.

The New York Times reported Friday that Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative West Virginia Democrat, has indicated to the White House that he opposes the key climate measure in Biden’s multitrillion-dollar climate and social programs package.

The president needs the support of all 50 Democratic senators in order to pass the measure through a process known as reconciliation.

The program in question is the $150 billion Clean Electricity Performance Program, which would financially reward utilities that transition to renewable energy and penalize those which do not. Experts say that the program would sharply reduce greenhouse gas pollution tied to electricity generation — which today accounts for roughly a quarter of U.S. emissions.

Manchin is at odds with his Democratic colleagues

Manchin, who leads the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said during an appearance on CNN in September that energy companies are already transitioning to clean energy.

“Now they’re wanting to pay companies to do what they’re already doing,” he said. “Makes no sense to me at all for us to take billions of dollars and pay utilities for what they’re going to do as the market transitions.”

Manchin’s office did not immediately return a request for comment Saturday.

Sen. Tina Smith, a Minnesota Democrat and champion of the clean energy measures, said in an interview with the Star Tribune newspaper that Manchin’s characterization is “just not right.”

“In fact, what we’re doing is we’re providing utilities with support, so that they can rapidly add clean power without raising utility rates,” Smith said.

Ties to the fossil fuel industry

Coal is a dominant industry in Manchin’s home state of West Virginia.

As of 2019, the state is the second-largest U.S. coal producer and relies on the fuel for 91% of its energy needs. The energy sector accounts for 6% of the state’s employment, compared with a national average of roughly 2%.

The senator also has personal financial ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Last year, according to his public financial disclosure, Manchin received about $492,000 in dividends on stock from Enersystems, Inc., the coal business he founded in 1988, which is now controlled by his son Joseph. According to OpenSecrets, which tracks political fundraising, Manchin is the top recipient of donations from the oil and gas and coal mining industries this election cycle.

After news broke of Manchin’s reported opposition to the clean energy program, Smith issued a warning to the White House on Twitter.

“Let’s be clear: the Build Back Better budget must meaningfully address climate change,” Smith said, using the administration’s branding for the legislative package.

“I’m open to different approaches, but I cannot support a bill that won’t get us where we need to be on emissions,” Smith said. “There are 50 Democratic senators. Every one of us is needed get this passed.”

Smith told NPR this month that she and Manchin have been in regular contact about Manchin’s concerns.

U.S. credibility is on the line

In two weeks, world leaders will meet in Scotland for a major United Nations conference on climate change, COP26.

President Biden and John Kerry, his climate envoy, have been working to build U.S. credibility on climate issues after years of inaction and climate change denialism.

In an interview this week with The Associated Press, Kerry said that the administration’s trouble passing its own climate policies hurts the effort to spur climate action abroad.

“I’m not going to pretend it’s the best way to send the best message. I mean, we need to do these things,” Kerry said. He said that if Congress fails to pass significant climate change legislation, “it would be like President Trump pulling out of the Paris agreement, again.”

A crucial moment for the health of the planet

Kerry also indicated that the conference talks are likely to fall short of securing the pledges that would be necessary, if met, to limit global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, from pre-industrial levels.

Under current worldwide commitments, global emissions are expected to rise by about 16% in 2030, compared to 2010. That would put the planet on track for more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit of warming by 2100.

At that point, rising sea levels would inundate coastlines, extreme heat waves would be significantly more common and more intense floods and droughts would potentially displace tens of millions of people.

Lauren Sommer contributed reporting.



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