‘Miss Sri Lanka’ Pageant Winner Suffers Head Wounds in Crown Fight

“Miss Sri Lanka” winner Pushpika De Silva was taken to the hospital Sunday night, after another pageant winner leaped onto the stage to take her crown.

Moments after being crowned “Miss Sri Lanka 2021,” fellow Sri Lankan and 2020 “Miss World” winner Caroline Jurie leaped onstage. In front of the assembled audience at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre in Colombo, Jurie grabbed the microphone to announce she was acting based on a rule disqualifying divorcees from winning the title.

“There is a rule that prevents women who have already been married and are divorced, so I am taking steps to make the crown go to second place,” Jurie said. In the ensuing chaos, Jurie pulled the crown from De Silva’s head and placed it on the runner-up, who began to cry as Jurie embraced her.

De Silva was reportedly hospitalized for head injuries and “trauma” sustained in the scuffle. “I know you are expecting my response to the unexpected incident that happened,” she later wrote on her Facebook page. “Even though I have a lot to say, I will post only the essential things here,’’

“The pain of my skull when my crown was snatched from my head by the world married beauty queen, the pain I felt when I lost the crown,” De Silva said. “I say a true queen is not a woman who snatches another woman’s crown, but a woman who [helps straighten] another woman’s crown!!”

De Silva also said she had “already taken the necessary legal action against the injustice and humiliation caused to me at the event.” She was re-crowned and certified as the winner on Monday. A video of the event has gone viral, with over 288,000 views as of the time of this writing.

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NYPD Orders Officers to Allow People to Smoke Weed in Public

The NYPD has issued new orders on enforcement of marijuana-related offenses after New York legalized recreational use on Wednesday.

On March 31, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill legalizing the growth, sale, and recreational use of marijuana. In a four-page memo circulated among officers of the New York Police Department, they have been instructed to ignore smokers unless money changes hands, and not to search vehicles based on the smell of both “burnt and unburnt” weed.

Sale of weed is now legal “unless they receive compensation,” while “hand-to-hand exchange of lawful amounts … without compensation to a person 21 or over, is not considered a sale.”

Police were advised that anyone over the age of 21 is legally allowed to smoke weed “almost anywhere that cigarette smoking is allowed including on sidewalks, on front stoops and other public places.” Smoking “in any of these locations is not a basis for an approach, stop, summons, arrest or search,” the memo said.

Officers have also been told not to “approach, stop or detain” individuals out on parole for potential weed offenses, even if it is a known restriction on said parole. Instead, the memo advises, they “should notify the relevant parole officers” for encforcement.

Despite this, officers themselves are still banned from partaking themselves. “Rules governing the use of marijuana for members of the NYPD have not changed,” according to the memo.

An unnamed source within the NYPD expressed concern about the change, questioning its effect on public safety. “We always say, ‘Drugs equal guns.’ When you smelled weed, you could pull a car over,” he reportedly told the outlet. “Now, you can’t pull them over.”

On Wednesday, Governor Cuomo said the bill “rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities.” New York is now the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana use.

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Senate Will ‘Move Forward’ to Legalize Marijuana with or Without Biden’s Support

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told Politico this week the Senate will push marijuana reform legislation, even without President Biden’s support.

In the interview with Politico, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that while he and others will make a case to President Biden for marijuana law reforms, the 46th president’s hesitation will not stop the legislation. “I want to make my arguments to him, as many other advocates will,” Schumer told the outlet. “But at some point we’re going to move forward, period.”

Schumer asserted the last decade of state marijuana legalization efforts has proven his position. “In 2018, I was the first member of the Democratic leadership to come out in support of ending the federal prohibition. I’m sure you ask, ‘Well what changed?’ Well, my thinking evolved,” Schumer said.

“When a few of the early states — Oregon and Colorado — wanted to legalize, all the opponents talked about the parade of horribles: Crime would go up. Drug use would go up. Everything bad would happen,” he continued.

However, Schumer said, “the legalization of states worked out remarkably well. They were a great success. The parade of horribles never came about, and people got more freedom. And people in those states seem very happy.”

President Biden has lagged behind many of his fellow Democrats in support of changes to existing marijuana restrictions. Even so, recent years have seen him soften on the issue. During his presidential campaign in May 2020, in a conversation on The Breakfast Club with Charlamagne tha’ God, Biden stressed a position of decriminalizing — not legalizing — the drug.

Moreover, the president said, no one should be imprisoned for drug offenses. “No one should be going to jail for drug crime. Period. Nobody. Nobody. No matter what the crime,” Biden said. “You should go to a mandatory rehabilitation. It costs less to put people in a drug rehabilitation program than it does in jail,” he continued. “And you have a chance. You’ve got to give people a chance!”

Biden deferred a question about the difference between decriminalization and full legalization. “We should wait until the studies are done, and I think science matters,” he said at the time.

It is clear, however, the administration will have to reckon with the issue soon. In February, the White House issued guidelines about marijuana usage to more easily fill positions, this occurring after “transition officials quickly identified recreational marijuana use as a potential hurdle for applicants, especially younger ones, in meeting that requirement.”

Schumer declined to discuss the details of a bill he has partnered with fellow Sens. Cory Booker and Ron Wyden to present “soon.” Schumer did affirm he is “personally for legalization,” saying the bill “is headed in that direction.”

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National Intelligence, Security Agencies Warn of U.S. Supply Chain Threats

On Thursday, the U.S. intelligence and security launched a “call to action” to address supply chain threats from foreign powers.

The National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Department of Defense’s Center for the Development of Security Excellence have joined in an effort to “raise awareness” of threats to U.S. supply chains made all too apparent in the wake of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

The NCSC warned foreign powers arrayed against U.S. interests are using vital supply chains as “attack vectors,” compromising products and services that “underpin America’s government and industry.” The effects of these efforts, they said, include “lost intellectual property, jobs, economic advantage, and reduced military strength.”

Acting NCSC Director Michael Orlando stressed the immediacy of the issue: “If the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting product shortages were not a sufficient wake-up call, the recent software supply chain attacks on U.S. industry and government should serve as a resounding call to action,” he said. “We must enhance the resilience, diversity, and security of our supply chains.” Orlando continued, saying the “vitality of our nation depends” on addressing threats posed by foreign adversaries.

The aforementioned agencies have partnered with the National Association of State Procurement Officials and the National Association of Counties for what the NCSC dubbed the “4th annual National Supply Chain Integrity Month.” They will use the time to highlight warnings that “actions by foreign adversaries to exploit vulnerabilities in U.S. supply chains” which “pose unique counterintelligence and security threats,” but also to address ongoing practical concerns such as production shortages, trade disruptions, and natural disasters.

The NCSC referenced the now-infamous hack of Texas-based IT company SolarWinds, noting the attention it brought to a much larger issue. At the time, Microsoft President Brad Smith called the subversion of SolarWinds’ Orion security software “the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen.” But the attack was not the first, the NCSC said; merely one in a series of similar attempts at sabotage.

Other examples include the June 2017 “NotPetya” cyberattack against Ukraine’s financial, energy, and government sectors, at the time labeled “the most destructive and costly cyber attack in history,” as what the U.S. government described as “part of the Kremlin’s ongoing effort to destabilize” the country.

Despite a history of support for foreign trade deals, even President Biden acknowledged the supply chain crisis. In February, Biden signed an executive order for a thorough review of supply chains for computer chips, large capacity batteries, pharmaceuticals, “critical minerals,” and “rare earth materials.” On February 24, Biden said while “we all recognize that the particular problem won’t be solved immediately,” they “need to stop playing catch up after the supply chain crisis hit,” and “need to prevent the supply chain crisis from hitting in the first place.”

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Anonymous Donor Gifts Kentucky Grandpa a New Smile

Jim Penick was surprised when an anonymous donor paid the entire cost of a major dental procedure he could not afford.

An unidentified woman offered thousands to 77-year-old Jim Penick, who was discouraged by the price tag on a major tooth replacement procedure. Even with insurance, the dental surgery to be performed by Independence Family Dentistry would require another $8,000.

The practice suggested Penick could have the teeth extracted, but delay the rest of the procedure until he could pay. “Well, they said, ‘You could get the extractions done and go without teeth for three months,’” Penick recalled. “Well, I thought, for $1,000 a month, I could go without teeth. I could eat a lot of soup.”

Penick left the office discouraged. “When I left here, I thought, ‘How can I cut this back where I could afford it?’” he said. “I’m 77 years old. I still work. I drive a truck. I’ve been laid off since December.” But less than an hour after he walked out the door, they called him back. A long-time patient at their office had offered to cover his procedure in full.

“They called me back and said there was some lady willing to pay for everything my insurance wouldn’t pay for,” Penick remembered. “It blew me away. I didn’t know what to do or what to say. But she’s got to be such a loving kind and giving person.” He expressed his gratitude for the life-changing money, and said he plans to do the same for someone else, someday.

Penick told Fox 19 he would use the money he saved to visit his four-month-old grandson. Penick’s son, a 12-year Navy veteran, never got to meet his son, after he was taken in a fatal car accident on the way to work. Penick carries some of his ashes around his neck, and wants to connect with his grandson — even if the little one is too young to understand. “I know he won’t know me,” Penick said of his grandson. “But I’d like to have some pictures of him with me to carry in my wallet, like I do of my son.”

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New York Lawmakers Commit to Thorough, Lengthy Impeachment Investigation of Andrew Cuomo

The New York State Assembly’s judiciary committee announced on Tuesday that its investigation of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s behavior could take “months.”

The New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair, Long Island Democrat Charles Lavine, said its investigation of embattled New York Governor Andrew Cuomo could take “months, rather than weeks” to “assess whether there’s evidence that the governor has engaged in conduct that justifies articles of impeachment.”

“Given the breadth and seriousness of the issues under investigation, we expect that the timing will be in terms of months rather than weeks,” Lavine explained during an audio broadcast of a judiciary committee meeting streamed Tuesday.

The committee’s investigation was authorized on March 11. “The reports of accusations concerning the governor are serious,” New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said at the time. “The committee will have the authority to interview witnesses, subpoena documents and evaluate evidence, as is allowed by the New York State Constitution.”

Judiciary committee attorney Greg Andres acknowledged that the public may not get their answers before the results of New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ misconduct investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. “I think it’s more of a recognition that there’s a parallel process happening.,” he said. “We don’t have control over that process, when that report would come out or not. And we won’t necessarily gear our investigation solely on the timing of that report. I think we want to be aware of it, to the extent possible.”

Cuomo is facing allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior toward women and has been accused of attempting to inhibit the investigation led by New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Yet even that issue may be dwarfed by the governor’s alleged mishandling and subsequent cover-up of nursing homes deaths during the coronavirus pandemic.

In February, the Associated Press uncovered a discrepancy between the 9,056 coronavirus patients sent to nursing home facilities that records reportedly showed, and the much lower numbers reported by the Cuomo administration’s health department. The administration has been accused of underreporting numbers they believed could be “used against them.” As of January 19, at least 12,743 people were confirmed to have died in nursing homes during the pandemic; the original count was 8,505.

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik described the scandal as “a massive corruption and coverup scandal at the highest level of New York State Government,” as she and other lawmakers called for Cuomo’s prosecution. The FBI announced their own investigation of the undercount on March 19.

Despite widespread cries for his resignation, Cuomo has refused to back down from either controversy. “I’m not going anywhere, darling,” he told an especially ardent supporter Monday.

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MSNBC Members Use Photo from 2019 to Shame Miami Spring Breakers over Coronavirus

Reporters and contributors from MSNBC attempted to shame Florida’s spring break tourism boom — with a photograph from a year before the coronavirus pandemic began.

“Today’s center of the #COVIDIOTS universe is Miami Beach, Florida,” MSNBC analyst and University of Miami professor Fernand R. Amandi tweeted Sunday morning. Accompanying the message was a picture of a crowded Miami Beach. What Amandi did not realize at the time was that the picture was from a March 22, 2019, story — a full year before the global coronavirus pandemic began.

“If you insist on being #COVIDIOTS please #WearAMask for our sake,” he added a few minutes later.

The tweet spread across social media, and Amandi’s peers quickly joined in. “That literally looks like a microscopic image of a petrie dish,” MSNBC’s AM Joy host Joy-Ann Reid tweeted that evening.

Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication Professor Dr. Jason Johnson shared the tweet, holding it up as an example of “why schools won’t open again this fall.” At of the time of this writing, the tweet has been shared over 3,600 times on Twitter alone, garnering upward of 10,000 likes.

Other users quickly corrected Amandi. User @AGHamilton29 pointed out the error early Monday morning. “Pretty confident that the center of the #COVIDIOT universe are Twitter accounts that post pictures from 2019 to try to shame people for engaging in normal and safe activities,” he said.

Former National Republican Senatorial Committee member Matt Whitlock responded to the tweet by calling out MSNBC, saying “your analyst is spreading disinformation” and observing that “misinformation just flows through MSNBC like water” later that morning. Spectator contributor and Vs Media Podcast host Stephen L. Miller predicted “nothing will happen” to Amandi’s account.

By Monday morning, Amandi admitted the mistake. “It has come to my attention that the picture in the original tweet is not from this week,” he said, “but that does not change the fact that Miami Beach has been overrun by thousands of maskless Spring Breakers who are not abiding by the CDC pandemic guidelines as these other photos confirm.” The correction has been shared just over 110 times.

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Rhode Island Community Supports Pizza Shop Owner Battling Cancer

The city of Warwick, Rhode Island, rallied behind the owner of Don’s Pizza after a battle with stage 4 cancer forced him to close.

Donald Ryan is a staple of the Warwick community. His business, “Don’s Pizza,” served Warwick residents for 39 years before his mortal battle against cancer finally forced him to close its doors. Ryan has been fighting stage 4 prostate cancer for two years. He recently learned the cancer had spread.

Longtime customer Joanne Miller said the loss was more than just good pizza. “He wasn’t just serving pizza. He served love and friendship, sponsored so many teams,” she told local channel WPRI. “He is just there for the community as much as they are here for him now, he was there for them.”

Miller was inspired to repay that kindness. “It was just a divine appointment maybe. My mom wanted a pizza that night and Don’s is right around the corner and I know he’s got great pizza,” she recalled. “His phone was out and when I met him he told me about his cancer. I told him I would be praying.”

But Miller knew Ryan needed more. As the restaurant went belly up and hospital bills piled higher, she decided to turn her compassion into action. She posted to a Warwick community Facebook page, asking for others to join her. Over 2,000 people responded with cards, wishes, and prayers. But one community member believed they could offer more than sentiment.

“A teacher who’s first-grader [always] asked her for Don’s Pizza — even Googled it for her in her phone — called me,” Miller said. “Her name was Alicia Rathbun, and Ben is the student, and she called me and asked if she could set up a GoFundMe. She is the one who did that, and that is how we have raised over $10,000 now.”

Rathbun’s GoFundMe has already rocketed past that $10,000 goal, but donations are still coming. The encouragement — and the vital funding — arrived just in time.

“It was a really tough week for him last week because it was the first week of chemo and what Joanne did was she came in at the perfect time,” Ryan’s wife Mary said. “He was so depressed, just so upset about the restaurant and that he couldn’t serve his community.”

She and her husband were overwhelmed by the unexpected compassion. “I just couldn’t believe the outpouring of support from friends of mine and the community of Warwick. People I don’t even know,” she said. Don expressed his gratitude as well. “Joanne, thank you very much. You’ve come just at the right time in my life with the first week of my chemo,” he told Miller. “All these memories on the internet, so nice. All the love and support, thank you.”

Don and Mary Ryan said the money raised will help to pay off remaining debts from the business as they work through the process of selling it. Whatever remains will go toward the mountain of medical bills. Regardless of the total, Warwick has managed to raise another resource for the Ryan family: hope.

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