Arts & Entertainment/Economy & business

Nassib Becomes First Active NFL Player to Come Out as Gay

Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib on Monday became the first active NFL player to come out as gay.  
Nassib, who is entering his sixth NFL season and second with the Raiders, announced the news on Instagram, saying he wasn’t doing it for the attention but because he felt representation and visibility were important.
“I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Nassib said in his video message from his home in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.
“I really have the best life. I got the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for. I’m a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know that I’m really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important.”
Nassib added in a written message that followed the video that he “agonized over this moment for the last 15 years” and only recently decided to go public with his sexuality after receiving the support of family and friends.
“I am also incredibly thankful for the NFL, my coaches, and fellow players for their support,” Nassib wrote. “I would not have been able to do this without them. From the jump I was greeted with the utmost respect and acceptance.”
Nassib, whose announcement came during Pride Month, added that he was donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit that seeks to prevent suicides among LGBTQ youth.
“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Representation matters. We share his hope that someday soon statements like his will no longer be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season.”
Nassib’s announcement also was greeted by Brian Burke, president of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. Burke has been a major proponent of LGBTQ rights for more than a decade since his late son Brendan came out as gay.
“Proud to support Carl and his decision to come out as the first active gay player in the NFL,” Burke said. “I hope other sports executives will join me in publicly expressing their support as well.”
The Raiders showed their support, writing, “Proud of you, Carl,” on their repost of Nassib’s message on Twitter and adding a black heart emoji.
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, tweeted: “Our union supports Carl and his work with the Trevor Project is proof that he — like our membership — is about making his community and this world a better place not for themselves, but for others.”
Penn State coach James Franklin said he and his wife Fumi were inspired by Nassib’s announcement to donate $10,000 to the Trevor Project.
“I am very proud of Carl for his courage and voice,” Franklin said. “This announcement doesn’t surprise me because if you know Carl, you know his strength. Carl’s story continues to add chapters which will have an impact well beyond the field of play.”
Nassib led the nation with 15½ sacks in 2015, Franklin’s second season in State College, and he was a cornerstone of the program’s path back to contention.
“Carl’s brave announcement will forge a path for others to be true to their authentic self,” Franklin added. “I was proud of Carl when he led the nation in sacks, but I’m even more proud of him now.”
Former All-Pro linebacker Shawne Merriman commended Nassib and suggested teammates and opponents won’t have a problem with his announcement.
“Congrats to Carl Nassib on coming out that’s a big step, I think that most players are concerned if you can play or not,” Merriman tweeted.
In a post saying he was proud of Nassib, Hall of Famer Warren Moon said he played with several gay football players in a storied pro career that spanned from 1978 to 2000 but none were “comfortable enough to go public.”  
“They were great teammates, & obviously very talented. As long as they helped us win and were great teammates, their sexual preference was never a issue,” Moon wrote. “We live in a different time now where diversity is much more accepted. Cheers Carl, and I hope this lets other athletes know, its OK to say who you are…”
Added fellow Nittany Lions alum and Giants running back Saquon Barkley, “Much respect brudda.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, a leading LGBTQ advocacy organization, called Nassib’s “powerful coming out is a historic reflection of the growing state of LGBTQ visibility and inclusion in the world of professional sports, which has been driven by a long list of brave LGBTQ athletes who came before him.”
Ellis said Nassib’s story “will not only have a profound impact on the future of LGBTQ visibility and acceptance in sports, but sends a strong message to so many LGBTQ people, especially youth, that they too can one day grow up to be and succeed as a professional athlete like him.”
More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over.
Former University of Missouri defensive star Michael Sam was the first openly gay football player ever selected in the NFL draft, going in the seventh round to the then-St. Louis Rams in 2014. But he never made the final roster and retired in 2015 having never played in an NFL regular-season game.
Nassib is a sixth-year pro who was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2016 in the third round (65th overall) out of Penn State. He played two seasons for the Browns and two for Tampa Bay before joining the Raiders in 2020. He has 20 1/2 sacks in 73 career games.

Science & Health

World Bank, African Union Partner to Buy, Distribute 400 Million COVID-19 Shots

The World Bank announced a partnership with the African Union Tuesday to finance the acquisition and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine for 400 million people in Africa.In a remote news conference via Zoom, World Bank Managing Operations Director Axel van Trotsenburg said the World Bank is providing $12 billion to not only acquire but deploy 400 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — a single dose shot — in support of the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) initiative.The announcement comes a day after African finance ministers and the World Bank Group met to fast-track vaccine acquisition on the continent and avoid a third wave of COVID-19.Van Trotsenburg said the bank is making the financing available in an effort to address the imbalance in vaccine access between the world’s wealthy and not-so-wealthy nations.  He said, “Less than one percent of the African population has been vaccinated. Africa has been marginalized in this global effort to get a vaccine. We have to correct this unfairness; and given that this is a global pandemic, we need global solutions and global solidarity.”  The project will be a big step toward helping the African Union meet its goal to vaccinate 60% of the continent’s population by 2022.   Van Trotsenburg said the regional effort complements the work of the World Health Organization-managed COVAX vaccine cooperative and comes at a time of rising COVID-19 cases in the region.The World Bank has already approved operations to support vaccine roll outs in 36 countries. By the end of June, the World Bank expects to be supporting vaccination efforts in 50 countries, two thirds of which are in Africa.

Science & Health

US Will Likely Miss July 4 COVID Vaccination Goal of 70%

The United States is likely to miss President Joe Biden’s goal of having 70% of U.S. adults partially or fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by the July 4 Independence Day holiday; but, the White House says the U.S. could reach that mark for adults 27 or older.
In a new assessment Tuesday of the country’s vaccination effort, COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients is expected to say the federal government now will focus on convincing those who are 18 to 26 years of age to get vaccinated, a White House official said.  
Many young U.S. adults, for various reasons, have shown little interest in getting vaccinated, especially since the number of new coronavirus cases and deaths has fallen sharply in the country in recent weeks and many businesses have reopened without facemask and social distancing restrictions that had been in place for more than a year.
Overall, however, since the pandemic first spread widely in the U.S. in March 2020, the country has recorded more than 602,000 deaths and 33.5 million infections, more than in any other country, according to the Johns Hopkins University.Johns Hopkins: 177.8 Million Global COVID InfectionsFrench and German leaders urge vigilance against COVID-19 variants 
Biden, who set the 70% vaccination goal for the July 4 holiday, has not publicly acknowledged it is unlikely to be met.  
Like on many divisive political issues in the U.S., a sharp split has developed on getting vaccinated, with numerous Democratic states that voted for Biden in last November’s election showing higher vaccination rates than Republican states that voted for his predecessor, President Donald Trump.  
Some of the lowest vaccination rates have been recorded in southern states that Trump won handily and where skepticism is widespread about the need to be vaccinated.   
Trump and former first lady Melania Trump, who both contracted the virus, were privately vaccinated before he left office in January, but Trump often downplayed the spread of the infection in the U.S. Both Biden and first lady Jill Biden were vaccinated on live television before he took office. They have made numerous appeals to Americans to get the shot. Joe Biden receives his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at ChristianaCare Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., Dec. 21, 2020, from nurse practitioner Tabe Mase. Zients is expected to say that 70% of Americans 30 and older already have received at least one shot, a Biden official said. The pace of inoculations, however, has fallen markedly in recent weeks even though plenty of shots are available.
The White House is planning a large July 4 celebration on the South Lawn with about 1,000 guests expected to attend the picnic and watch the fireworks celebrating the country’s 1776 independence from Britain.
Even as Biden likely misses the 70% vaccination rate for adults, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said this week, “We’ve made tremendous progress in our vaccination efforts to date, and the ultimate goal has been to get America back to normal … and we’re looking forward to doing that even here at the White House.”

Economy & business/Silicon Valley & Technology

EU Investigates Google’s Advertising Business

The European Union announced Tuesday it is once again investigating Google for what could be anti-competitive activities in digital advertising.The investigation will try to determine if Google is harming competitors by restricting third party access to user data that could better target advertising.”We are concerned that Google has made it harder for rival online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad tech stack,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.Google said it would cooperate in the investigation.”Thousands of European businesses use our advertising products to reach new customers and fund their websites every single day. They choose them because they’re competitive and effective,” a Google spokesperson said.The EU has fined Google more than $9.5 billion over the past decade for restricting third parties from online shopping, Android phones and online advertising.In the past year, online ads generated $147 billion in revenue for the U.S.-based company.Google’s ad business also is facing scrutiny in the U.S., where several states and the U.S. Justice Department are suing the company for alleged anti-competitive behavior.  

Economy & business/Silicon Valley & Technology

STEM Jobs Lead List of Fastest-Growing Occupations

The number of STEM jobs — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — have sped past the number of non-STEM jobs by three times since 2000. And experts say there might not be enough graduates in those fields to fill the jobs.  “Look around at how many times a day you touch a computer, tablet, phone … these industries are accelerating so much that these high school kids will have jobs that don’t even exist yet,” said Kenneth Hecht, the leader of the National STEM Honor Society, an membership program that engages students from kindergarten into their career in STEM project-based learning (NSTEM). STEM covers both high-tech and long-established professions. For example, STEM jobs in demand include those in cloud computing, informatics and other software developers that write code for computation. They also include occupations for actuaries, cartographers, critical care nurses and epidemiologists.  Jobs in the medical and healthcare fields have boomed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as populations age, but traditionally, computer technology, or tech, is the number one major that international students pursue within STEM, according to a study by the Institute of International Education. Jobs in computer and information technology are projected to grow 11% from 2019 to 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website, “much faster than the average for all occupations.”These occupations are projected to add about 531,200 new jobs to the U.S. workforce by 2029. Jobs in cloud computing, big data, and information security will be in high demand, according to BLS.COVID plus and minuses Recent enrollment declines because of the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed the pipeline between graduates and jobs, as most international students rode out the pandemic in their home countries. But recent graduates who land STEM jobs show greater availability and higher salaries.  “A STEM education and a STEM career can change the trajectory of one family’s path and even others,” said Kenneth Hecht, leader of the National STEM Honor Society that engages students from kindergarten into their career in STEM project-based learning (NSTEM).  Nidhi Thaker, a Ph.D. student in the biochemistry and molecular biology department at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, also is optimistic about the promise of STEM opportunities.    “Applying and combining a biology background with technology that can be helpful in making a product, and by product, I mean, it could be a machine, it could be a drug, it could be any other thing, to help medicine itself and to help the field grow,” is what biotechnology means to Thaker.   Her experience working in the Boston area, one of America’s biotech hubs and close to several top U.S. universities like Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, has been largely positive.  “It’s not just work, work, work. They also incorporate, like, team-building exercises, going out and having parties and things like that,” Thaker noted. “It’s a very well rounded, cultural approach that they’re taking, in regard to giving all the benefits.”   Lack of people skills One problem, though, is many graduates have a proficiency in tech skills but lack people skills, said Sahil Jain, senior enterprise architect at Adobe.    “This means they are good at coding. You can give them a digest code, they will do it very well. But they cannot speak to the senior leadership at the customer site.” Jain explains that both soft and hard skills are necessary to do well in emerging technology jobs, yet students often excel at one or the other, not both.    “That means they are good at speaking, but when it comes to technicalities, the customer brings his architects on the call, ‘Oh, tell me how this will work? Can you give me some architectural aspects as well?’ … That is where the big gap is,” he explained. In addition, Jain said the STEM job market is crowded with numerous evolving technologies.    “The industry is evolving a lot. It’s no longer only cloud computing based. There are many, many areas of blockchain,” a way to code to enhance the security of the information.   “We have machine learning, we have [artificial intelligence] …” said Jain, who has recently enrolled in Georgia Institute of Techology, a public university in Atlanta, to keep his skills up to date.  Filling needed roles Even with initiatives to alert students to STEM opportunities, like NSTEM, there were an estimated 2.4 million positions unfilled in STEM fields in 2018, according to a study by Impact Science, a California teacher-founded initiative to engage young students with science.“Being on the educational side, these numbers are well published and well recognized in the world, and the question is and has been, ‘What do you do about it?’” Hecht asked.  “If you look at the differences in ethnicities and gender it would be even worse,” which inspires one of NSTEM’s missions to help close equity divisions in STEM, he added.  Immigration issues An April 2021 study by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) found that “enrolling more international undergraduate students does not crowd out U.S. students at the average American university and leads to an increase in the number of bachelor’s degrees in STEM majors awarded to U.S. students.”  “Each additional 10 bachelor’s degrees—across all majors—awarded to international students by a college or university leads to an additional 15 bachelor’s degrees in STEM majors awarded to U.S. students,” the study found. The data suggests that U.S. students are more likely to major in STEM fields if they go to school with international students.    “In much of the U.S., STEM graduates are in short supply. Students who graduate with a STEM major typically earn more than other graduates, especially early in their careers,” according to the NFAP study.  “The finding here that the presence of international students actually increases the number of U.S. students graduating with a STEM major is another reason to encourage international students to come to the United States,” stated Madeline Zavodny, the study’s author.  “America’s future competitiveness depends on attracting and retaining talented international students,” according to companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter with other parties in a group letter to Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) in July 2020. ICE had announced it would revoke international student visas during the COVID-19 pandemic if those students were not in person to study on campus.  ICE Won’t Compel Foreign Students to Be on Campus Immigration agency retreats from ruling that risked student visa status

Arts & Entertainment/Economy & business

Angelina Jolie Visits Burkina Faso as UN Special Envoy

Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie has visited war-weakened Burkina Faso to show solidarity with people who continue to welcome the displaced, despite grappling with their own insecurity, and said the world isn’t doing enough to help.  
“The humanitarian crisis in the Sahel seems to me to be totally neglected. It is treated as being of little geopolitical importance,” Jolie told the Associated Press. “There’s a bias in the way we think about which countries and which people matter.”
While Burkina Faso has been battling a five-year Islamic insurgency linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State that’s killed thousands and displaced more than one million people, it is also hosting more than 22,000 refugees, the majority Malian.
As Special Envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Jolie marked World Refugee Day on Sunday in Burkina Faso’s Goudoubo refugee camp in the Sahel, where she finished a two-day visit. She spoke with the camp’s Malian refugees and internally displaced people in the nation’s hard-hit Center-North and Sahel regions.
After 20 years of work with the U.N. refugee agency, Jolie told the AP the increasing displacement meant the world was on a “terrifying trajectory towards instability”, and that governments had to do something about the conflicts driving the vast numbers of refugees.
“Compared to when I began working with UNHCR twenty years ago, it seems like governments have largely given up on diplomacy … countries which have the least are doing the most to support the refugees,” she said.
“The truth is we are not doing half of what we could and should … to enable refugees to return home, or to support host countries, like Burkina Faso, coping for years with a fraction of the humanitarian aid needed to provide basic support and protection,” Jolie said.  
Malians began fleeing to Burkina Faso in 2012 after their lives were upended by an Islamic insurgency, where it took a French-led military intervention to regain power in several major towns. The fighting has since spread across the border to Burkina Faso, creating the fastest growing displacement crisis in the world. Last month Burkina Faso experienced its deadliest attack in years, when gunmen killed at least 132 civilians in Solhan village in the Sahel’s Yagha province, displacing thousands.
The increasing attacks are stretching the U.N.’s ability to respond to displaced people within the country as well as the refugees it’s hosting.
“Funding levels for the response are critically low and with growing numbers of people forced to flee … the gap is widening,” UNHCR representative in Burkina Faso Abdouraouf Gnon-Konde told the AP.
The attacks are also exacerbating problems for refugees who came to the country seeking security.  
“We insisted on staying (in Burkina Faso), (but) we stay with fear. We are too scared,” said Fadimata Mohamed Ali Wallet, a Malian refugee living in the camp. “Today there is not a country where there isn’t a problem. This (terrorism) problem covers all of Africa,” she said.

Science & Health

UNESCO Panel Recommends Listing Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as ‘In Danger’

A special committee with the United Nations’s cultural agency says Australia’s Great Barrier Reef should be placed on a list of World Heritage sites that should be designated as “in danger.” The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Committee, or UNESCO, recommended the 2,300-kilometer-long coral reef system should be placed on the list because it has deteriorated due to climate change.  Australian officials denounced the recommendation. Environment Minister Sussan Ley said Tuesday that Canberra opposes the designation and accused the World Heritage Committee of “a backflip on previous assurances” and that it would not take such an action before its formal meeting next month.  Ley said she and Foreign Minister Marise Payne had spoken by phone to UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay about the decision, which she called “flawed” and a decision influenced by politics.   “This sends a poor signal to those nations who are not making the investments in reef protection that we are making,” she said. But Richard Leck, the head of oceans for World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia, said in a statement the recommendation “is clear and unequivocal that the Australian government is not doing enough to protect our greatest natural asset, especially on climate change.” The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s biggest coral reef system that brings an estimated $4.8 billion annually in tourism revenue.  Climate change has driven temperatures in the Coral Sea higher in recent decades, leading to three mass “bleaching” events since 2015, destroying at least half of the Reef’s vibrant corals and prompting the Australian government to downgrade its long term outlook to “very poor.”