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Once-in-a-lifetime bloom expected this month for Colorado agave plant – The Denver Post

A 16-year mission undertaken by one Berthoud agave plant will soon come to an end, as the high-desert succulent blooms extravagantly before withering and dying.

Parry’s agave is also known as the “Century Plant” for its unique life cycle, where it can grow as a small bush for decades before expending its life’s energy on a towering vertical stalk that yields hundreds of bright yellow flowers.

The Berthoud specimen is located in the public Conservation Gardens at Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

Northern Water spokesman Jeff Stahla said employees first noticed that the plant was sending up a stalk earlier this year.

Today, the agave looms roughly 20 feet over neighboring plants.

“For us, it’s beautiful, but obviously they’re not doing it for the beauty,” Stahla said. “It’s the most efficient way for it to propagate its species for decades to come.”

Several branches with flower buds are currently visible on the agave’s stalk, and Stahla said the branches and buds will continue to multiply before the plant blooms at some point in the coming weeks.

It is expected to remain in bloom for about a month before it dies.

Parry’s agave is included in the district’s display of yuccas and other drought-resistant plants that locals could include in a xeriscaped front- or backyard.

“It’s hardy,” Stahla said. “It gets down below zero every year, but it’s a high-desert plant, and it’s adapted to it.” (He noted that ecologists consider Berthoud and the surrounding area to be semi-arid shortgrass prairie rather than high desert.)

The plant is named for Charles Christopher Parry — a 19th-century botanist and mountaineer who was its European discoverer. Several other North American plants, such as the Parry pinyon and Parry’s penstemon, have also been named in his honor.

Parry’s agave is native to the southwestern United States. The agave on Northern Water’s Berthoud campus was planted in 2004, shortly after the district’s office was built in 2003.

Stahla said interested members of the public can visit the Conservation Gardens at 220 Water Ave. any time between sunrise and sunset as long as they observe social distancing rules.

“It’s pretty amazing that this plant after decades of growing decides to put up this massive shoot as its final hurrah,” he said.

“It’s been biding its time for decades, storing energy for this one final explosion.”

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‘Flag-burning hoax’ sparks far-right 4 July rally

Rumours that anti-fascist protesters planned to burn American flags on the Gettysburg Civil War battleground site led to armed far-right groups turning up in numbers on US Independence Day.

Posts on social media by supposed antifa leaders urged members to meet at the Pennsylvania site on 4 July.

In response, far-right groups assembled on the historic grounds on Saturday – but no adversaries showed up.

The holiday marks the US declaration of independence from Britain in 1776.

The posts that appeared on social media ahead of the Independence Day celebrations reportedly called for people to flock to the site in face paint.

Activists would “be giving away free small flags to children to safely throw into the fire”, the hoax call suggested.

“Let’s get together and burn flags in protest of thugs and animals in blue,” one anonymous Facebook post said.

There is no evidence to suggest that those responsible for the online posts are in any way linked to antifa – a loosely-affiliated network of mainly far-left activists.

Hours before the flag-burning was supposed to start, far-right groups gathered in a parking lot next to a Wal-Mart, some were armed.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a hoax or not,” Christopher Blakeman, who travelled to the Gettysburg site from West Virginia on Saturday, told the Washington Post newspaper.

“They made a threat, and if we don’t make our voices heard, it’ll make it seem like it’s OK,” he added.

In his Independence Day address on Saturday, President Donald Trump vowed to defeat the “radical left” as protests continued to sweep the country.

Mr Trump said he would “fight… to preserve American way of life”, while railing at “mobs” targeting historical monuments.

In May, the president said the US would designate antifa, which he accused of starting riots at street protests over the death of African American George Floyd, a terrorist organisation.

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Blackford vows Scotland WILL take ‘appropriate measure’ in grilling over SHUTTING border

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SNP MP Ian Blackford argued that more conversations needed to be had with the other UK Governments about quarantining during the coronavirus crisis. While on Sky News with Sophy Ridge, Mr Blackford hinted at Scotland closing its border to England to prevent further spread of coronavirus in the country. Mr Blackford insisted Scotland has had recent success on reducing the number of coronavirus cases and the Scottish Government is committed to taking all the appropriate measures to see this continue.

Ms Ridge asked: “If the scientists advised the Scottish Government that you would be keeping people safer if you closed the border, you would do it?”

Mr Blackford did not claim this was something the Scottish Government was preparing for but refused to rule out the possibility of a closed border.

He replied: “I don’t think we should be looking at emotive language about closing borders.

“There are checks we can put in place but this is about keeping people safe.”

DON’T MISS: SNP’s Blackford attacked on Nicola Sturgeon’s coronavirus demands

Ms Ridge interrupted to say: “People travelling from England could be forced to quarantine?

“Would that be a fairer way of putting it?”

Mr Blackford answered: “The simple fact of the matter is we have had reasonable success in driving down the incidents of the virus over the last few months.

“It has been hard-won and we have to take the appropriate measures to make sure that we can continue to see that.

“We will do that in a respectful way based on the evidence that we see.

“Of course, we always try to do things in cooperation with other parts of the United Kingdom.”

Mr Blackford also claimed the Scottish Government greatly values the tourism industry and still wants to welcome people into the country.

Mr Blackford said: “Of course we don’t want to stop people travelling.

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“We want to make sure we can open up as much as we can.

“But I think it is fair to say that there is a degree of frustration that we haven’t had the conversations with all the four Governments in the United Kingdom when it comes to the quarantine regulations and those coming into the UK.

“The fact is, as I have highlighted and you have conceded, the prevalent rate here is much lower.

“So we need to look at those coming into Scotland and the kind of risks that are there.

“Any decision taken by the Scottish Government will be based on the scientific advice that we get and keep people safe.”

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Kate Middleton and Prince William mark NHS anniversary in very special way

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn to mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.

Kate, 38, and William, 38, enjoyed afternoon tea with doctors, nurses and other staff at the hospital in Norfolk.

Mother-of-three Kate looked stunning in a blue dress with a white collar, while William was smart in a grey blazer.

The hospital, which celebrates its own 40th birthday later this month, serves more than 330,000 people across Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire and has treated 450 patients with coronavirus.

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“Lift Every Voice and Sing” hymn ignites hope across nation – The Denver Post

LOS ANGELES — The Black national anthem was born more than a century ago, but the popular hymn within the African American community called “Lift Every Voice and Sing” has resurrected a beacon of hope during nationwide protests.

In recent weeks, countless rallies were held from D.C. to Seattle with arm-locked protesters of different races reciting the song’s lyrics while marching against police brutality of unarmed Black people. The demonstrations throughout the U.S. were ignited after George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes.

Some marches were peaceful, while others turned violent. But one common thread at protests were people chanting the anthem‘s long-lasting message of faithfulness, freedom and equality.

“I saw whites singing that song saying ‘No justice, no peace’ and ‘’Black Lives Matter.’ It’s something I didn’t see early in my career or even 15 years ago,” recalled the Rev. Al Sharpton, referring to protesters in Minneapolis in the aftermath of Floyd’s death. “You got to see people other than us appreciating our song, our anthem. This is just not a moment. This is a real movement.”

Growing up, Sharpton said he learned self-identity through the anthem, which was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson before his brother, J. Rosamond, turned it into music. The song was performed for the first time in 1900, not long after it was written.

The NAACP dubbed “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as the Black national anthem in 1919. The decision came more than a decade before “The Star-Spangled Banner” was adopted as the national anthem of the U.S.

During the civil rights movement, the song was popular during protests with the likes of “We Shall Overcome” and “Amazing Grace.” The latter was written by former slave trader John Newton, but the song helped define racial equality.

Sharpton said the ability of “ Lift Every Voice and Sing ” enduring several generations speaks volumes.

“The fact that this song could survive us going from the back of the bus and the outhouse to the Truman Balcony at the White House, it shows that this song really resonates in our hearts,” he said. “Very few songs would last through those kinds of changes in Black America. That’s why it’s a great barometer to the cultural shift.”

Protesters are certainly making the song heard. In Dallas, hundreds flocked to the plaza where John F. Kennedy was shot in 1963 to march before collectively taking a moment to sing the song. Protesters sang the song last month at the historic Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The same happened in Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore and Minneapolis.

“The song is a refreshment and renewal of my faith,” said Young, the civil rights leader and former Atlanta mayor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He said the singing of the song at protests shows how “desegregation of America is really the integration of cultures, ideals, energies and spirituality.”

Young has known the song’s lyrics since kindergarten and even recited every word during a recent interview. He believes the Black anthem is a more “powerful and patriotic” song than America’s national anthem, which was written by a slave owner who made a painful reference to slavery in its little-known third stanza.

“It’s much more applicable to the United States as we would love it to be more than ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’” Young said of the Black anthem.

Along with the protest, the staying power of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” into broader audiences can also be credited to the biggest entertainers and political figures who have referenced it.

Beyoncé performed the song in front of a mostly white audience at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in 2018. The late Rev. Joseph Lowery began his benediction reciting the song’s third verse at the inauguration for President Barack Obama in 2009; and musicians Mike Phillips and West Byrd sprinkled in snippets of the song while playing the national anthem at NASCAR’s 2020 Pocono 350 on Sunday.

The NFL will play “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before each game during Week 1, a person familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press. It’ll be played first when the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans to kick off the NFL regular season on Sept. 10.

Last month, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden released the “Lift Every Voice” plan, which is a reference to the song. The plan proposes to address issues in the Black community, including “systemic misconduct” in police departments and prosecutors’ offices.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins said Biden’s reference to the song and hearing white Americans singing the lyrics has given him “hope and confidence, although we’re in a dark place as a nation today.”

“There’s new inspiration and motivation in America today for people of every walk of life, every race, every culture and every orientation,” he said.

Some NBA and collegiate teams played the song at games during Black History Month years ago, thanks to Eugene Williams. The retired Howard University professor lobbied for teams to play the song in February.

Williams wants the song to be played in all U.S. sporting venues, but Young and Hutchins are unsure if that should be the case. Hutchins thinks the song should be sung with pride and not taken lightly.

“I think the song is just too sacred to be reduced to what ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is,” he said. “The ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ is patriotic and inherently and uniquely American. It represents the complexities of America. But ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ is much more sacred on my view and should be handled as such.”

Sharpton confidently said the song should be performed at big venues for sporting events and beyond.

“It should because it recognizes the heritage and the true authentic America struggle,” he said. “There’s always been the controversy about race being involved in the national anthem. Here’s an authentic anthem coming out of the American experience that does not denigrate the country, but also uplifts the struggle and affirmation of people that have been part of this country.”

___

Follow AP Entertainment Writer Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MrLandrum31

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1 of 2 protesters hit by driver on Seattle freeway dies – The Denver Post

SEATTLE — One of two people hit by a man who drove his car onto a closed Seattle freeway and into a crowd protesting police brutality has died.

Summer Taylor, 24, of Seattle died Saturday evening at Harborview Medical Center, spokesperson Susan Gregg said.

Taylor and Diaz Love, 32, of Portland, Oregon, were hit by the car that barreled through a panicked crowd of protesters on Interstate 5 early Saturday morning, officials said.

Dawit Kelete of Seattle drove the car around vehicles that were blocking I-5 and sped into the crowd about 1:40 a.m., according to a police report released by the Washington State Patrol. Video taken at the scene by protesters showed people shouting “Car! Car!” before fleeing the roadway.

Love is in serious condition in the intensive care unit, Harborview, Gregg said.

Love was filming the protest in a nearly two-hour-long Facebook livestream captioned “Black Femme March takes I-5” when the video ended abruptly; with about 15 seconds left, shouts of “Car!” can be heard as the camera starts to shake before screeching tires and the sound of impact are heard.

A graphic video posted on social media showed the white Jaguar racing toward a group of protesters who are standing behind several parked cars, set up for protection. The car swerves around the other vehicles and slams into the two protesters, sending them flying into the air.

The driver, who was alone, fled the scene after hitting the protesters, Trooper Chase Van Cleave told The Associated Press. One of the other protesters got in a car and chased the driver for about a mile. He was able to stop him by pulling his car in front of the Jaguar, Van Cleave said.

Troopers arrived, and the driver was put in custody, Washington State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead said.

Kelete was described by officers as reserved and sullen when he was arrested, according to court documents. He also asked if the pedestrians were OK, the documents say.

Kelete was booked into the King County Correctional Facility on Saturday morning on two counts of vehicular assault. Bail was denied.

A judge found probable cause to hold Kelete on an investigation of vehicular assault. He faces a second court hearing on Monday at which the judge will determine if he can be released on bail, according to court documents.

It was not immediately clear if Kelete had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Officials were trying to determine the motive as well as where he got onto the interstate, which had been closed by the state patrol for more than an hour before the protesters were hit. Mead said they suspect Kelete drove the wrong way on a ramp. Trooper Rick Johnson said the driver went through a barrier that closed the freeway.

Troopers did not know whether it was a targeted attack, but impairment was not considered a factor, Mead said.

Kelete has a Seattle address. He is listed in public records as a student who attended Washington State University between 2011 and 2017 majoring in business and commerce. His enrollment status could not be confirmed because the university was closed Saturday.

The Washington State Patrol said Saturday evening that going forward it won’t allow protesters to enter I-5 and would arrest pedestrians on the freeway.

Seattle has been the site of prolonged unrest following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked nationwide protests. Dozens of people were arrested this past week in connection with protests as demonstrations continue after authorities cleared the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone Wednesday morning.

Protesters had shut down the interstate for 19 days in a row, Mead said at a press conference.

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US: Outrage over cartoon equating mask requirement to Holocaust

The image was posted on social media by a Kansas newspaper owned by a county Republican chairman.

A cartoon posted on the social media account of a weekly Kansas newspaper owned by a county Republican Party chairman has been condemned for comparing a state mandate requiring all residents to wear masks in public in light of the coronavirus pandemic with the roundup of Jews during the holocaust.

The cartoon posted on the Anderson County Review’s Facebook page depicts Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat, wearing a mask with a Jewish Star of David on it, next to a drawing of people being loaded onto train cars.

Its caption reads: “Lockdown Laura says: Put on your mask … and step onto the cattle car.”

About six million Jews were systematically executed by Nazi Germany between 1941 and 1945, with many rounded up and transported to concentration camps via trains. 

Hicks’s characterisation is in line with some Republicans in the state who have criticised Kelly’s order as infringing on personal liberties, although Kansas law allows counties to opt out of the mandate. Anderson County, with a population of about 7,900, has done so.

Under pressure from the state’s Republican-controlled legislature, Kelly had previously lifted statewide restrictions on businesses and public gatherings on May 26, making Kansas one of several states across the US that health officials have criticised for reopening too early. 

‘Trifecta of garbage’

Rabbi Moti Rieber, the executive director of Kansas Interfaith Action, in an interview with the AP news agency said it was “incoherent” to equate an action designed to save lives with mass murder.

He added that putting the Star of David on Kelly’s mask is anti-Semitic because it implies “nefarious Jews” are behind her actions. 

“This thing is like the trifecta of garbage,” Rieber said.

Hicks, in his statement, also shrugged off suggestions he should apologise.

“Apologies: To whom exactly?” he said. “The critics on the Facebook page? Facebook is a cesspool and I only participate to develop readership.”

He added he “intended no slight” to Jews or Holocaust survivors.

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Drones to household utensils – weapons India is deploying against locusts

NEW DELHI – The enemy is unknown; the weaponry, therefore, improvised.

Farmers in different parts of India are facing up to invading locusts – a threat many of them have never seen in their lifetime – with anything that can produce noise to chase them away.

Locals are clanging plates and pans. Firecrackers are being lit.

Even loudspeakers have been brought in to belt out dance music.

On June 24, it was Mr Chhoturam Rulaniya’s turn.

That afternoon, locusts, which had until then flown over his farm, decided to settle on his property and nearby areas in Rajasthan’s Nagaur district.

“It was as if disaster had struck us from the skies,” said Mr Rulaniya, 60, describing the attack in and around five sq km of his farm.

Children were asked to run out with utensils. Mr Rulaniya revved his motorcycle engine.

Tarpaulin sheets were fanned around. All this to no avail.

“We would chase them away from the field, they would settle on the trees.”

“We would chase them from there, they would return to the fields,” Mr Rulaniya told The Straits Times.


Dead locusts at Mr Chhoturam Rulaniya’s farm in Rajasthan’s Nagaur district in India. PHOTO: NAVEEN RULANIYA

By the time the authorities arrived with pesticides and vehicle-mounted sprays, it was too late.

The locusts had devoured fresh shoots of his groundnut, mung and gwar bean crop, causing a loss of around 250,000 rupees (S$4,660).

They were sown a month ago with hopes for a bumper harvest but there is no chance of that happening.

“The situation is pitiable for small and medium-scale farmers like me,” he said, adding that alternative means of earning their livelihood – such as working in the construction sector – have become difficult because of the pandemic and its associated economic downturn.

Farmers like Mr Rulaniya are reeling from what is being described as the worst locust invasion in India since 1993.

Officials have struggled to control them for weeks since swarms began coming in from Pakistan and Iran in April, months before their usual arrival.

The crisis has its origins amid the worst outbreak of desert locusts in eastern Africa in decades, which has seen favourable breeding weather since 2018 caused by high rainfall.

Incoming locust swarms have spread wider in India in search of food because of the lower availability of vegetation in summer months.

They have moved as far as Nepal to the east, covering more than six states under their trajectory.

On June 27, locusts were seen flying through Gurugram, one of Delhi’s satellite cities, before even passing through outlying parts of India’s capital city, a spectre not witnessed for more than half a century.

The resulting loss of food and animal fodder has slashed incomes for farmers, exacerbating the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on families in rural areas.

While the damage has been limited so far as not many crops are grown and harvested during summer, there are growing fears of a devastating impact on the forthcoming major harvest that follows the rainy season if these swarms persist.

A 1 sq km swarm of desert locusts can eat the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

Locust swarms can vary from less than 1 sq km to several hundred sq km.

In its June 27 update, the FAO said that spring-bred swarms are present along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border where they are awaiting monsoon rains that will allow them to mature and lay eggs.

It has asked India to remain on “high alert” during the next four weeks and warned of the possibility of swarms from northern Somalia migrating to areas along the Indo-Pakistan border.

More than 60 ground teams from India’s Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) are involved in control operations in four different states and have sprayed pesticides on more than 200,000 hectares.

“We are worried but we are strengthening our resources and control potential day by day. Hopefully, we will be able to contain it,” Dr K. L. Gurjar, LWO’s deputy director, told The Straits Times.

Besides augmenting the number of vehicle-mounted sprays and requisitioning helicopters for aerial spraying, drones have been pressed into service as well for the first time.

India has also supplied pesticides to Iran and Pakistan but experts have called for greater coordination between affected countries to deal with this common threat.

Dr Bhagirath Choudhary, the founder director of South Asia Biotechnology Centre, an agricultural think-tank, said he is worried by reports of in-breeding in areas along the border with Pakistan as well as how swarms have been disintegrating this time into smaller groups and moving wider in different directions.

“All this has put a severe strain on government resources,” he told ST.

The damage caused by locusts, he said, can be akin to that of a severe drought or flood that comes every one or two decades.

“These are disasters that are not manageable by individual farmers.

It is the same with locusts,” added Dr Choudhary.

“Their attacks should be qualified as a biological disaster so that farmers can access compensation easily under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (a government crop insurance scheme for farmers).”

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French economy probably bouncing back faster than expected: central bank

PARIS (Reuters) – The French economy is pulling out of the slump induced by the coronavirus outbreak at least as fast as expected a month ago, and maybe even a little faster, Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau said on Sunday.

The central bank estimated last month that the euro zone’s second-biggest economy would be operating 12% below normal levels by the end of June, up from a 32% reduction at the start of France’s coronavirus lockdown in late March.

The Bank of France is due to update its estimate on Tuesday, drawing on responses from a monthly business climate survey of thousands of companies.

“The recovery is going at least as well as we expected and perhaps a little better,” Villeroy said on LCI television.

In June, the central bank forecast the economy had probably contracted 15% in the second quarter. Villeroy said on Sunday that it might be “a bit better”.

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Luckin Coffee chairman ousted by shareholders: Bloomberg, citing report

(Reuters) – Luckin Coffee Inc (LC0Ay.MU) Chairman Charles Zhengyao Lu has been ousted by shareholders from the embattled coffee chain, just days after a proposal to remove him failed to get board approval, Bloomberg News reported on Sunday, citing Chinese web portal 163.com.

Three other board directors including Sean Shao were also removed at an extraordinary shareholders meeting in Beijing on Sunday, the report bloom.bg/38slTRo said.

Ying Zeng and Jie Yang will be added as independent board directors, the report added.

Luckin Coffee declined to comment.

Luckin stated just days ago that a proposal to remove Lu as chairman of the embattled coffee chain’s board did not get the number of necessary votes from directors to pass.

The China-based coffee chain had earlier in the week wound up an internal probe into fake annual sales of about $300 million, following which several of Luckin’s directors proposed the ousting of Lu.

Lu, who is the controlling shareholder of Luckin, is also the founder of auto-rental firm CAR Inc and Chinese ride-hailing firm Ucar Inc.

During the investigation, Luckin sacked its chief executive and chief operating officers, who had previously held top positions at Lu’s other firms.

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