Austin police officer suspended for calling protester ’gay’ based on their clothing – News – Austin American-Statesman

An Austin police officer has been temporarily suspended following an internal affairs investigation into homophobic comments he reportedly made while describing a person at a Black Lives Matter protest in May.

While on duty to respond to a large number of protesters in front of Austin police headquarters on May 30, Officer Ryan Seweryn described one of the demonstrators as “that gay dude with the short shorts in the black shirt,” according to the disciplinary memo, signed by Austin Police Department Chief Brian Manley on Nov. 25.

The protester who Seweryn described may have been pointing a laser pointer at a helicopter, the memo said, adding that Seweryn’s comments were recorded on his body-worn camera. The internal affairs investigation was spurred by a complaint made by a commander at the department on Nov. 13, according to the memo.

When asked to explain his comments during the investigation, Seweryn claimed that he was not describing the sexual orientation of the protester, but rather their style of clothing, according to the memo.

In the conclusion of the memo, Manley wrote that Seweryn did not take responsibility for his conduct and tried to justify his description of the protester.

“While he acknowledged that his conduct is inconsistent with APD training and expectations, he did not accept that there was anything wrong with the assumptions, description, and stereotype he made,” the memo stated.

Seweryn was suspended for ten days — from Nov. 26 to Dec. 5 — for violating the department’s rules related to impartial attitude and courtesy, the memo said. He will also have to go through additional training, according to the memo.

Seweryn served a separate ten-day suspension earlier this year for posting an old booking photo of a fellow Austin police officer, according to disciplinary documents.

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From Hijabs to Cosplay, Indonesian Finds Calling in Cat Fashion Makeovers | World News

BOGOR, Indonesia (Reuters) – It may not be haute couture, but former Indonesian school teacher turned tailor Fredi Lugina Priadi has found a lucrative market for his cat fashions, creating unique costumes and cosplay outfits for cats.

After quitting his job as a teacher, he tried his hand at a number of businesses, including running a motorbike repair shop, before stumbling upon cat fashions, an idea from one of his cat-loving cousins.

The 39-year-old now supplies outfits to picky pet owners looking to dress their felines in everything from superhero outfits for figures like Thor and Superman to cosplay characters, nurse uniforms and even traditional Islamic wear.

“At first, my cousins who love cats gave me the idea to make these costumes and I thought it was weird,” said Fredi.

“But it turned out to be funny to see them with costumes,” he said, speaking from his rustic workshop with a sewing machine in Bogor just south of the capital Jakarta .

    Since setting up his online business three years ago, he now generates up to 3 million rupiah ($210) a month if he sells at least four pieces a day. Each outfit is priced at between $6 to $10. 

    Customer Risma Sandra Irawan has bought at least 30 outfits for her cat Sogan and puts in orders for special occasions like the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr or at Christmas.

    “Its for fun only…it can relieve our stress,” said Risma, who created an account on social media platform TikTok showing off Sogan’s outfits that has more than 50,000 followers.

While many find it cute, Fredi has received some negative comments on social media from those who consider it cruel to dress up a cat and he advises buyers not to make their pet wear an outfit for too long.

Indeed, in the wake of a boom in social media postings of pets dressed up, often in increasingly bizarre poses or outfits, some animal welfare groups have issued guidelines to make owners more aware of any signs that it may be causing their pet distress.

(Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Michael Perry)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Is Shopping in Stores Safe During the Pandemic? | Business News

Is shopping in stores safe during the pandemic?

There are ways to reduce risk, but health experts advise avoiding it when possible.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says holiday shopping in crowded stores is a “higher risk” activity and that people should limit any in-person shopping, including at supermarkets.

Instead, the agency recommends shopping online, visiting outdoor markets or using curbside pickup, where workers bring orders to your car.

If you need to enter a store, go during off hours when there will likely be fewer people. Wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from others.

Try to spend as little time inside the store as possible, says Dr. Isaac Weisfuse, a public health expert at Cornell University.

“You just want to go in and out,” he says. “Get your shopping done and move on.”

Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when you leave, and then wash your hands with soap and water when you get home.

Retailers have been doing all kinds of things to make shoppers feel safe, but they don’t eliminate the risk. Some check shoppers’ temperatures at the entrance, for example, but an infected person may not have a fever and can still spread the virus.

The plastic barriers between customers and cashiers also might not block all droplets from an infected person, Weisfuse says. If the air in a store feels stuffy, he says that’s a sign of poor ventilation, and you should leave.

The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: [email protected]

Read previous Viral Questions:

What does emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine mean?

Is it safe to stay in hotels during the pandemic?

Is it safe yet to fly during the pandemic?

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Cyber Monday Set to Be Biggest Online Shopping Day in U.S. History | Top News

(Reuters) – Cyber Monday is on track to bring in a record of as much as $12.7 billion in online sales, according to latest industry estimates, surpassing Black Friday’s digital numbers as U.S. retailers reached the last leg of an extended holiday selling season caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shoppers have seen nearly two months of offers from retailers looking to recover sales lost due to mall and store closures, while pushed back its annual summer promotional event to October, creating a longer than ever season.

Estimates from Adobe Analytics, however, showed this year’s conclusion to Thanksgiving weekend promotions would still be the largest online sales day in history, with spending between $10.8 billion and $12.7 billion. 

“We are seeing strong growth as consumers continue to move shopping from offline to online this year,” Adobe Digital Insights director Taylor Schreiner said.

“New consoles, phones, smart devices and TVs that are traditional Black Friday purchases are sharing online shopping cart space this year with unorthodox Black Friday purchases such as groceries, clothes and alcohol, that would previously have been purchased in-store.”

Traditionally, Cyber Monday starts with people, fresh off their long weekend, scouring for discounts online at work and driving another big day of promotions.

The popularity of event shopping days has faded with the emergence of online shopping and cheap deals throughout the year from retailers including Amazon and Walmart Inc, but the health crisis this year has also played with shopping patterns.

Walmart, Target Corp, Best Buy all moved their promotions up to remain competitive with Amazon, while doubling down on investments in fulfilling online orders.

The tent pole shopping event of Black Friday, which pulled in record online sales of about $9 billion, according to Adobe, saw shoppers turning up in smaller numbers at stores as they utilized the early deals and avoided stepping out into large crowds.

Consumers sought out deals for gifts and necessities including the latest Xbox and PlayStation consoles, Lego sets, the Roku Stick+ and Apple Watches.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham and Shinjini Ganguli)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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How can I stay safe while shopping? 25 common virus questions answered | National News

Oxford scientists expect COVID-19 vaccine data by Christmas

FILE – In this Thursday, April 23, 2020 file screen grab taken from video issued by Britain’s Oxford University, showing a person being injected as part of the first human trials in the UK to test a potential coronavirus vaccine, untaken by Oxford University in England. A key researcher at the University of Oxford says scientists expect to report results from the late-stage trials of their COVID-19 vaccine by Christmas. Dr. Andrew Pollard, an expert in pediatric infection and immunity at Oxford, said Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 that research was slowed by low infection rates over the summer but the Phase III trials are now accumulating the data needed to report results.

What does COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness mean? It refers to the likelihood that a coronavirus shot will work in people.

Two vaccine makers have said that preliminary results from their late-stage studies suggest their experimental vaccines are strongly protective. Moderna this week said its vaccine appears nearly 95% effective. This comes on the heels of Pfizer’s announcement that its shot appeared similarly effective.

Those numbers raised hopes around the world that vaccines could help put an end to the pandemic sometime next year if they continue to show that they prevent disease and are safe.

Effectiveness numbers will change as the vaccine studies continue since the early calculations were based on fewer than 100 COVID-19 cases in each study. But early results provide strong signals that the vaccine could prevent a majority of disease when large groups of people are vaccinated.

U.S. health officials said a coronavirus vaccine would need to be at least 50% effective before they would consider approving it for use. There was concern that coronavirus vaccines might be only as effective as flu vaccines, which have ranged from 20% to 60% effective in recent years.

The broad, early effectiveness figures don’t tell the whole story. Scientists also need to understand how well the vaccine protects people in different age groups and demographic categories.

For both vaccines, the interim results were based on people who had COVID-19 symptoms that prompted a virus test. That means we don’t know yet whether someone who’s vaccinated might still get infected — even if they show no symptoms — and spread the virus.

Also unknown is whether the shots will give lasting protection, or whether boosters will be required.

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In Japan, more people died from suicide last month than from Covid in all of 2020. And women have been impacted most | World News

“They lost their jobs, and they need to raise their kids, but they didn’t have any money,” Ozora said. “So, they attempted suicide.”

Most of the calls come through the night — from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. The nonprofit’s 600 volunteers live around the world in different timezones and are awake to answer them. But there aren’t enough volunteers to keep up with the volume of messages, Ozora said.

They prioritize the texts that are most urgent — looking for keywords such as suicide or sexual abuse. He said they respond to 60% of texts within five minutes, and volunteers spend an average of 40 minutes with each person.

Anonymously, over online messaging, people share their deepest struggles. Unlike most mental health hotlines in Japan, which take requests over the phone, Ozora says many people — especially the younger generation — are more comfortable asking for help via text.

In April, he said the most common messages were from mothers who were feeling stressed about raising their kids, with some confessing to thoughts of killing their own children. These days, he says messages from women about job losses and financial difficulties are common — as well as domestic violence.

“I’ve been accepting messages, like ‘I’m being raped by my father’ or ‘My husband tried to kill me,'” Ozora said. “Women send these kinds of texts almost every day. And it’s increasing.” He added that the spike in messages is because of the pandemic. Before, there were more places to “escape,” like schools, offices or friend’s homes.

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Kiplinger’s Personal Finance: Great credit cards for holiday shopping | Business News


Consider using a rewards credit card for holiday shopping.

As you dive into holiday shopping, get some extra oomph from your spending by using a rewards credit card that provides additional cash back or points at the retailers — or retailer websites — you visit most.

The Discover It card, for example, provides 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases at, and in the fourth quarter of 2020 (1% on all other spending). Quarterly categories for 2021 haven’t been announced, but bonus categories in 2020 included grocery stores, gas stations, wholesale clubs and restaurants.

For rewards on a broader variety of online purchases, consider the Bank of America Cash Rewards Visa.

You choose one of six categories that earn 3% cash back, including online shopping, gas, dining, travel, drugstores, and home improvement and furnishings — and each calendar month you can change the category.

The card also offers 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. After you spend $2,500 combined in the 2% and 3% categories each quarter, you get 1% back on purchases in both categories. All other spending earns 1% back.

The branded card of a retailer you are loyal to might have strong rewards.

The Amazon Rewards Visa offers 3% cash back on Amazon purchases (5% if you’re a Prime member), and the Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard provides 5% back at and 2% at Walmart stores (5% in-store the first 12 months if you use Walmart’s mobile payment app).

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CapFed Best News: New clothing boutique for girls opens on Small Business Saturday in Topeka – News – The Topeka Capital-Journal

About six years ago, Ashley Dassinger Carson opened local clothing store ASH Boutique. And since then, she has watched many women come into her shop with their young daughters or granddaughters in tow.

“They want to be a part of our community, but they’re still too young,” Carson said. “The clothes don’t fit them right.”

She began to realize there weren’t many local retail options in Topeka designed specifically for girls. And shopping for her own daughters — 11-year-old Lilly and 8-year-old Grace — affirmed that assessment.

“What I realized was that there was just this missed market, this missed opportunity to create a space that truly celebrates girls as they are,” Carson said. “I feel like so often in our culture we have babies and toddlers and then we kind of force these girls to grow up and become 13, 14, even when they’re not quite there yet. I wanted to create a place … that feels safe and comfortable.”

From that desire came “Lilly Grace,” a new boutique that opened on Small Business Saturday in the Westboro Mart shopping center near the intersection of S.W. Huntoon Street and Oakley Avenue. Lilly Grace occupies the same storefront, at 3123 S.W. Huntoon St., where ASH Boutique, which has since moved downtown, got its start.

Carson’s own daughters were the inspiration for Lilly Grace, which is aptly named after them.

According to Carson, Lilly Grace has been in the works for about a year-and-a-half.

“July of 2019 is when I kind of knew I was going to be moving ASH Boutique downtown,” Carson said. “It was at that time that I kept thinking about what I was going to put in my Westboro spot. … It felt like just the right time to do something like this.”

Carson envisions girls being able to shop at Lilly Grace for special occasions, holiday outfits, vacation attire or even to pick out their first bra “in a place where we are there to celebrate you and not make you feel embarrassed,” she said.

“There actually aren’t any more stores in Topeka that cater to this age range,” she added. “Justice that was in the mall — they’ve closed. So I feel like we’re filling the niche of some of the big chain stores that are no longer in Topeka.”

Clothing available at Lilly Grace may also be purchased on the ASH Boutique website,, under the “Girls” tab.

Though Carson is excited to open the store to customers, she said the journey to this point hasn’t been free of obstacles. While searching for store merchandise, Carson ran into supply-chain issues.

“Getting merchandise is not easy at this time,” she said. “I know a lot of other small businesses are running into issues in the supply chain.”

Another hindrance due the coronavirus pandemic involved not being able to view potential merchandise in person before buying it for the store.

“I love to touch and feel and curate products specially designed for my customers. I like

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Conflicting COVID test results forces Omaha couple to cancel their dream wedding | Local News

The bottom line: A negative test isn’t a free pass. Self-monitoring still is advised, O’Keefe said.

“In an ideal, non-pandemic world, tests should always be directed and interpreted by a trained clinician,” O’Keefe said. “While open access to testing is needed in this pandemic, it has shown us the difficulties in helping people understand the complexities of laboratory tests.”

As of Friday, Alex still reported no symptoms of COVID. Lauren, a private tutor, has tested twice in the past week, and both results came back negative. It’s a relief, she said, because her mother has just started breast cancer treatment.

Dr. Anne O'Keefe

Dr. Anne O’Keefe

O’Keefe’s advice to engaged couples: Sit tight on setting a wedding date for 2021. One person with COVID could turn a wedding into a super-spreader event. “It’s not worth the risk.”

Earlier this month, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on a large outbreak tied to a 55-person wedding reception in rural Maine. The outbreak was linked to 177 COVID-19 cases, including seven hospitalizations and seven deaths.

For couples who feel they can’t delay their nuptials for a few months, O’Keefe recommends having a small ceremony in the short term and a big reception after the pandemic has safely passed.

“We’re hoping that in three to four months we’ll have a vaccine that is broadly available, and things will begin to return to normal,” she said.

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‘It’s definitely a different vibe’: Pandemic casts pall over in-person shopping on Black Friday | Local Business News

Online sales could enjoy a sharper uptick heading into the holidays. Black Friday is projected to generate $10 billion in online sales, a 39% bump from the year ago period, according to Adobe Analytics, which measures sales at 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers. And Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, will remain the largest online shopping day of the year with $12.7 billion in sales, a 35% jump.

Tulsan Drew Yamashita said he typically isn’t enticed by Black Friday bargains. But he and friend Lauren Katz joined a virtual waiting list at Lululemon, an athletic apparel store on Brookside, at about 8:50 a.m.

“We were driving by after the gym, so we stopped in,” he said. “We normally do most of the stuff online, but something is on sale here that we’d like to get.”

Major retailers have been offering discounts for more than a month to mitigate the post-Thanksgiving rush to stores.

Lindsay Rodgers of Tulsa and Brandie Loftis of Cushing began their shopping at 5 a.m. and were spotted at Utica Square several hours later.

“Smaller crowds, less stores open not as early,” Rodgers said, summing up the experience.

Both added they preferred shopping in-person.

“We’ll go home and do the online later,” Rodgers said.

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