Yahoo Finance’s Akiko Fujita and Zack Guzman break down today’s market action and outlook with Todd Morgan, Chairman of Bel Air Investment Advisors.
Yahoo Finance’s Akiko Fujita and Zack Guzman break down today’s market action and outlook with Todd Morgan, Chairman of Bel Air Investment Advisors.
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos Getty/InstagramFor four years, roller derby player Zack “NoMad” Sherman lived and breathed Mota Skates. The Grand Rapids, Michigan-based company sponsored Sherman’s gear, and he worked the Mota booth at championships games and conventions. People saw him represent Mota so often that he would be mistaken as the company’s owner.In reality, that title belongs to a couple named Doug and Julie Glass. Sherman told The Daily Beast he “really considered Doug and Julie family” during his time with Mota. That ended abruptly when Sherman cut ties with the brand after they posted an anti-Black Lives Matter statement on Instagram last summer. Nine months later, as Mota has steadily promoted QAnon and COVID-truther conspiracy theories on their Instagram page, Sherman feels “disgraced” to have been tied so closely to the brand.Inside the BLM Controversy That Could Bring Down Mota, One of Roller Skating’s Biggest BrandsThis downfall began with a post on Mota’s Instagram page, presented last June in the response to the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests.Three different sentiments overlapped in a Venn diagram: feeling “outraged by George Floyd’s death,” supporting “good police officers,” and not condoning “looting or rioting.” Stamped into the center, in bright red letters, read “Me.”According to the graphic, “It’s OK to be all three.” View this post on Instagram A post shared by Mota Skates (@motaskates) As The Daily Beast reported at the time, swift backlash ensued. Skaters called out the brand in the Instagram comments section for posting a pro-cop sentiment while images of police brutality against protesters and journalists flooded the news.Doug and Julie Glass would later release an apology, via the caption of another Instagram post. Underneath a black square, the copy read, “Mota Skates, Doug and Julie Glass sincerely apologize for our ignorance regarding the black lives movement. We are working with others in the community to better ourselves in support of BLM. Your voices are heard.“We are open to positive criticism that will continue to improve the movement. We will continue to reach out as we navigate this very sensitive matter. We understand this is not enough and we will continue our support to the best of our knowledge and provide more information regarding our actions in the upcoming days.”But this, too, felt underwhelming for skaters looking for a heartfelt or genuine-seeming apology. Many, like Sherman, sought to disavow Mota. Some burned their skates outright, others covered up the Mota logo, or ripped it off using solvents like Acetone.A GoFundMe account raised nearly $10,000 to “assist skaters of color who need financial assistance in replacing their [Mota] boots.” Four different skate shops banded together to announce they would no longer sell Mota products.Eddy Jones, a Black skater from Philadelphia, created the #UnMotavated hashtag, where he encouraged anyone who used the skates to take a photo of theirs in a trash can or recycling bin. While he understood not everyone could afford to burn their skates in protest, he wanted to find a way for everyone to show their disgust.“What really set me off about that whole ordeal was the fact that when Mota posted their tone-deaf statement, there were a lot of skaters of colors who weren’t attacking Mota, but they wanted to explain what the situation was,” Jones told The Daily Beast. “But at that time, Mota was curating what they wanted to be seen on their post, and deleting [negative] comments. It wasn’t even like they wanted to have a conversation about it.”At the time, Mota made some vague promises about being “open to positive criticism that will continue to improve the movement,” according to an Instagram post. “We will continue to reach out as we navigate this very sensitive matter,” Mota added.As a brand, Mota was not alone in how it fumbled supporting the surge of activism that swept across the country last summer. Companies like Facebook, Fox, and Nextdoor all earned criticism for their hypocritical or lackluster “solidarity.”But while many companies have adopted caring for social justice issues as ad campaigns—however performatively—Mota made a full, 180-degree pivot. Their pledge to be “open to positive criticism” has devolved into promoting QAnon and other conspiracy theories.Mota has catalogued over 50 Instagram stories, which are currently listed under a highlight titled “RestoreRepublic,” most of which encourage anti-mask, anti-vaccine, and pro-Trump conspiracy thinking.One Instagram story highlight includes a link to “truther info” written by Carrie Madej. She is an osteopath who has “warned” that the coronavirus vaccine exists to change people’s DNA. The BBC reported that Madej also believes that the shot will “hook us all up to an artificial intelligence interface.”When news broke that Texas Governor Greg Abbott rescinded his state’s mask mandates and business occupancy limits, Mota posted a story that read, “Let’s pray this snowballs.”Mota’s greatest concern, it seems, is with the hashtag #SavetheChildren. The brand has reposted memes hinting at an “elite pedophile ring,” which lines up with the core conspiracy theory behind QAnon: that the world is run by a “cabal” of Satanic Democrats and celebrities who torture and sexually abuse children in bloody rituals.The brand has also name-dropped adrenochrome, a chemical compound formed by the oxidation of adrenaline, also known as the stress hormone. As my colleague Tarpley Hitt reported last year, a conjured QAnon theory says that the drug is extracted by tortured children and sold on to “elites” on the black market.Julie Glass, who is 42 and a mother of three children, answered a series of questions from The Daily Beast via email. (Glass would not reveal who runs Mota’s Instagram page, though some of her responses to the questions were later used as captions on Instagram posts.)When asked how she became aware of and interested in QAnon, Glass responded over email, “As far as Q, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I follow Sidney Powell, General Flynn, Lin Wood, Scott McKay and the Trump family among other peaceful patriots worldwide. I also follow resignations/passings of worldwide elites and declass intel as I’m constantly searching for truth and how I can help spread the word and awaken others.”Sidney Powell is a lawyer and Trump ally who pushed election fraud conspiracy theories. The Supreme Court has denied requests to review Powell’s cases in Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Michigan. Lin Wood is another lawyer who worked on cases to overturn the 2020 election. During the Capitol riot, Wood told Trump supporters to “get the firing squads ready” for Mike Pence. The New York Times reported that Flynn, the former national security advisor, suggested that Trump invoke martial law in battleground states after the election was called. Scott McKay is a former bodybuilder turned radio host known as the “Patriot Streetfighter.” On air, he talks about how the world is controlled by the “global central banking cartel,” an idea taken from historically anti-Semitic tropes. McKay has also said that Donald Trump remains “in control” of the military until around March 24, suggesting that the former president could return to power before then.Glass added that she believes the coronavirus is “cured” by hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug Trump pushed as a coronavirus treatment, despite its potentially deadly side effects.Another potential solution, according to Glass, is ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug. ABC News reported last week that one person obtained a “veterinary source of ivermectin” reserved for horses, and had to call poison control after ingestion. The Daily Beast asked why Mota espoused their passion for free speech online while also deleting or blocking comments that did not align with their viewpoint. Glass wrote, “It’s because we do not have time or energy for negativity. We are at war—this is a spiritual battle of good vs. evil. We have the right to remove evil/hate comments that have no place on our page.”Defying a “life of tyranny”Julie Glass grew up surrounded by sports, with a father in the army and a brother who ended up in the NFL. Glass told The Daily Beast she set one goal when she was 12 years-old: to be a world champion skater.Four years later at age 16, she had crushed it, taking home her first world title in speed skating. She spent her teenage years touring with Team USA and racking in medals. ESPN once called her the “Usain Bolt of roller derby.”She didn’t go to college and told The Daily Beast she has “never watched mainstream news,” and thinks of herself as an independent voter. Certain events seem to have rattled her sense of security, such as when a colleague was “robbed at gunpoint” during the 2003 World Championships in Venezuela. Because of this, Glass says, the team needed “24/7 security.”“Everywhere we went there were men with armed guns and people living in cardboard boxes,” she wrote in an email, adding, “This is not the life of tyranny I want for my 3 daughters and my future grandkids.”Glass told The Daily Beast she started “paying attention to politics” when Donald Trump ran for president. “The media was losing their minds about [him] in 2015,” she wrote. “I was indifferent about him at that time but knew this kind of reaction was alarming.”But Glass’ radicalization really began in the wake of the backlash to their anti-BLM Instagram post. After that, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) parted ways with Mota, which had been a vendor at industry events. (The funds raised from Mota’s booth at the 2019 International Championships were also donated to Black Lives Matter.)“The rest of the derby community decided to cancel us for not supporting BLM in solidarity and ACAB, it was our sign to educate ourselves on what was really happening here on a worldwide scale,” Glass wrote. “We did our research as the market asked of us and found many alarming truths that are worth fighting for, like the global pandemic of child/women trafficking and modern day slavery—organ harvesting, etc.” (ACAB means “All cops are bastards.” It’s a common anti-cop slogan to use as graffiti or on protest signs.)Sherman, the sponsored Mota skater, told The Daily Beast he believes a “tipping point” for the Glass family came when they visited Atlanta at the end of May 2020.They stayed at the Embassy Suites in Olympic Park, was vandalized during early protests against the Floyd murder hit downtown Atlanta. According to local news reporters, two cars were set on fire near the hotel.“It looked to me like Doug Glass was truly, genuinely, to his core, scared for the first time in his life,” Sherman said. “Rather than realize from that, hey this is what people of color in America live with everyday, he went very hard right, very quickly. [Doug and Julie] were already quietly pro-Trump, but after what happened in Atlanta, that’s when they went very hard right.”Glass remembered that night in an email with The Daily Beast. “My kids asked me if we were going to die,” she wrote. “That was not a fun experience, but I know God put me in that situation for a reason.” When asked to elaborate, she sent links and statistics regarding human trafficking and organ harvesting.One former sponsored Mota skater who asked to be anonymous for fear of retaliation also spoke with The Daily Beast about ending their relationship with the brand after the June Instagram post.Looking back on the four years they worked together, the skater said, “I never thought [Doug and Julie] were bad people. But the more they dug in about deleting people’s posts and attacking people online, I thought: they have zero empathy for others and zero awareness. But as much as everyone thinks that [Julie] is a really bad person—and I don’t want to take away from that—I do want to mention that this is a really sad thing to witness, this decline.”Vanessa Diva, another sponsored skater who cut ties with Mota last year, wanted to make clear that she supports Black Lives Matter and does not agree with what the company posts. But she also does not want to disparage Doug or Julie Glass.“They never treated me any differently during my transition,” Diva, who is trans, said. “They never did anything hurtful to me and supported me even when I was not well-known. Julie and Doug purchased our RollerCon tickets, got us hotels, and took us out to dinner. They did a lot for us; it was a friendship.”Sherman regrets his time with Mota. “I was a voice for them, and I put my name on them,” he said. “Now I look back and think that what I did may have funded the fact that they’re supposed QAnon. In some small way, I helped make that happen for them. I’ve helped fund these people who are so far off the deep end and so dangerous. I feel culpable in a way that while I shouldn't, I do.”Even before last summer, Mota’s social media tended to skew slightly vitriolic. When Julie started working for the multi-level marketing company Arbonne in 2019, she tried to recruit new consultants using an email list of Mota customers, which led many to worry about the way their contact information was used. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Mota Skates (@motaskates) And then there was the “Savage Boot,” a name many fans called out as a pejorative term associated with the abuse of Indigenous peoples. Or the custom “Blue Lives Matter” flag skates they made in 2018.Insta has been deleted now. This was the post. pic.twitter.com/TpAgNo6pEy— The Apex (@thederbyapex) August 7, 2018 Sherman recalled the “Savage” boot: “Several of us were like, ‘Hey, boss, what are you doing with this name? Because that’s not a good idea,’” he said. “Doug and Julie’s response [to concerns] was, ‘No, no, we’re being ‘savage’ as in: taking the market, not following the trends.’ There was not much we could do about it, so I would refer to it as the polymer boot, and tried not to use its name as much as I would with other boots like the Mojos.”Andy Lewis-Lechner used to be the a referee for the Oly Rollers, an Olympia, Washington derby league Julie played for in the late aughts. He also got free gear from Mota, and called the Glass family “very nice and generous.” But he remembers the couple as “not very analytical.”“Anything that didn’t align with their thought process was completely foreign to them,” Lewis-Lechner said. “There were lots of examples from games where the team would lose by a couple points, and I would show a play to [Doug and Julie] on the video. [As in], look, this happened, this is correct. But they weren’t able to be analytical about it; they were only able to understand what they had experienced in the moment. That’s why the QAnon thing doesn't surprise me—they would go along to get along.”Many skaters who spoke with The Daily Beast made clear that Mota is not representative of the derby community as a whole, which largely aligns itself with progressive causes.“There is a lot of arguing in derby,” one skate shop owner who asked to remain anonymous said. “But we want to argue over fiscal policy and dues and insurance and who should pay what. We’re not going to argue over other people’s right to exist. And that is where QAnon has taken this sharp, sharp turn into what-the-fuck.”So who will Mota sell to? Jack Bratich, an associate professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University who focuses on conspiracy theories, wonders how Mota will attempt to distill their customer base around their politics.“Are there enough people out there who are both adherents to the kind of nationalism that they’re promoting who are also in the roller derby community? I don’t know,” Bratich said. “But it’s interesting to see how they’re going to carve out a space for themselves in this subculture or alt-community.”For her part, Julie Glass would not reveal if the brand’s public support of conspiracy theories had impacted their business. “Mota Skates sales is not of concern to me,” she wrote. “Do you think Mike Lindell of MyPillow is concerned about his company’s sales? No, because protecting FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY, and OUR CONSTITUTION is all that matters to him, me, and like minded patriots worldwide.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. 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Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast / Photos GettyOn the coldest night of the deep freeze that hit Texas in mid-February, the Serpentarium at the Texas Reptile Zoo was crowded with the cold-blooded—lizards from Madagascar, tortoises from the Sahara, sizable crocodiles and, of course, snakes by the scores.Then the water pipe in the ceiling burst.Zoo owner Tim Caglarcan walked in to check on his reptiles and found water spraying from the ceiling and pooling on the floor.“At the time it was a disaster,” he said. “You can imagine walking into your building and it’s raining. It’s freezing outside, and I had to kill the power because we have all the heaters on the ground.”The week of arctic cold was a statewide disaster, no doubt. People died of cold in their homes when their power went out. Others huddled together in their dark homes for days. Some people didn’t have water. Some couldn’t find food. There’s no discounting that tragedy and trouble.For those Texans who make a living running the scores of reptile zoos, rattlesnake museums, and snake farms that dot Lone Star highways, the cold was an imminent threat to their critters and their livelihoods. They survived through preparation and dedication.Texas Rattlesnake Fest May Bite the DustAt the Texas Reptile Zoo in Bastrop, about 35 miles east of Austin, Tim and Julie Caglarcan had a serious mess on their hands after they killed the power and shut off the water.“My wife ran over with every towel we had, and we got buckets to soak up the water by hand,” Tim said. “And we had a big hole in the ceiling—we still have it.”The zoo, housed in a former plant nursery, has about 220 reptiles and about 100 fish. Two of the old greenhouses were converted into herpetariums, but much of the zoo is outdoor space meant to mimic the reptiles’ natural habitat. The zoo is closed during the winter when many of the species brumate (akin to hibernation) underground.“At the Texas Reptile Zoo, the way we have the animals is as natural as possible,” Caglarcan said. “So we like it when they do things like they're supposed to do.”But when record low temperatures were forecast, Caglarcan knew he had to step in. Heaters were installed in some burrows. Tarps covered the ground where he knew some animals had dug in for winter.As the weather worsened, he used a temperature gun to measure ground and burrow temps, and knew he had to do more. Caglarcan brought most of his animals inside the main building—the serpentarium. That meant literally digging up some of them from the earth.“Basically, we had to evacuate everybody,” he said. For Caglarcan, that meant doing it himself. “I run the whole place right now. I’m always busy around the clock.”Caglarcan is pretty optimistic that the animals he couldn’t dig up and bring inside survived the winter storm, but he wasn’t so lucky with his plants.“We lost a lot of our food,” he said. “Our bananas died in the greenhouse. We lost all our cactus—we use our cactus to feed our herbivores like tortoises. We lost a whole crop of winter radishes.”These struggles on top of last year’s COVID-19 struggles have hit the Texas Reptile Zoo pretty hard.“I’ve rarely asked for much,” Caglarcan said. “I kind of think this year is gonna be a fundraising year for the place to get us back on track.”About 450 miles to the west, in remote Fort Davis, the Rattlers and Reptiles rattlesnake museum lost power for four days as temperatures sank as low as 3 degrees. Yet there’s a reason every one of the 200-odd snakes survived.“I’m a Kansas boy,” proprietor Scott Teppe said. “I’ve lived out on the tundra. So a couple years ago, I redid all the water lines and ran gas lines in… and that’s how I kept it warm.”There weren't any fans or space heaters or lights, but the ambient temperature stayed high enough to keep the snakes healthy. He keeps the museum at about 60 degrees in winter so that the snakes can brumate.“They're fairly dormant,” Teppe said. “They don't go into a torpor, like a bear does, where they actually go to sleep, but they get lethargic.“They're kind of like people—when there's a warm day in the winter, they'll sit on the porch and enjoy their coffee, but they're not going out foraging or looking for a mate or anything.”Last year, bit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rattlers and Reptiles had just over 2,000 visitors. The year before, it had been about 5,500.“It’s not like the Snake Farm over in New Braunfels,” Teppe said. “We are a small facility, and we get incidental tourism from people that are getting off the highway going to Big Bend [National Park].”The museum has more than 30 species of venomous snakes but keeps a few local non-venomous species so people headed to the nearby national park can be prepared for what they might find in the wild.Teppe is all about being prepared. He compared it to “The Ant and The Grasshopper” fable. “People in Texas just don’t expect it to get that cold that long. But a week without power isn’t too much where I’m from.”So he was ready, with a generator, 500 gallons of water, a wood-burning stove, and propane heaters.If there was one thing he wasn’t ready for, it was being the owner of the museum in the first place.“When I was in college, I helped the guy that owned it build all the cages and set it all up,” Teppe said. “He passed away a few years ago and left it to me. It’s not where I saw my retirement happening, but …”He trails off and then starts laughing.“The Snake Farm in New Braunfels” is the most famous in Texas. Technically the Ray Wylie Hubbard song “Snake Farm” isn’t necessarily about any specific snake farm, but there’s only one place along Interstate 35 with a giant sign saying “Snake Farm Zoo” in red and black letters.Officially the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo, the place is about 50 miles south of Austin.Jarrod Forthman, a director at the zoo, said that even though they did lose power on and off for a few days, they kept the generators running and kept the building “nice and warm” for their couple hundred snakes.Which is good, because there’s more to displaying snakes than just keeping kids’ hands out of the cobra cage.“Each species has its own temperature range that we have to keep them at,” Forthman said. “Each individual enclosure is set up for that particular species. Some of our more tropical species, [if the temperature] gets below 70, you can potentially get them sick.”Many of the smaller animals that make up the outdoor portion of the zoo, such as the birds and primates, were brought indoors to heated buildings. Others, such as the large cats, had additional heat in their winter housing.“Some of our carnivore housing, they already are able to go inside and get warm,” Forthman said. “But we're able to add additional heat and additional bedding, just to help out with the colder temperatures than we're used to facing.”The zoo’s website shows the alligators submerged in their frozen-over pond, snouts sticking through the ice. “Icing” occurs naturally and allows the gators to survive freezing weather for a while.Forthman credits protocols and people for helping the zoo get through the winter storm.“We have emergency response protocols in place that help us in case of disasters like tornadoes or hurricanes, anything that causes power outages, or loss of water,” Forthman said. “And while we weren't expecting the record-breaking freezes or anything like that, our other protocols acted in their place. We were pretty fortunate.”Also key was the ability to get employees to the zoo—not a given considering iced-over roads can be shut down in Texas. Ten to 15 employees worked up to 12-hour shifts day and night.“If we were unable to get staff on site during this time, and if we didn’t have staff willing to work literally around the clock, things could have been different, or a whole lot harder on the folks that did make it.“But a lot of our staff was available. We do have housing on site that our staff was able to stay in during this time. So that that pretty well saved us.”One thing that kept staff busy for a while was when a boil-water advisory was issued for the area. Though they had water in storage, they did have to boil water for their 500 animals—including bison and zebras who can drink quite a bit a time.“I'll tell you what, had that gone on too much longer, things could have gotten bad for sure,” Forthman said.A lot of fans of the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo reached out to help during this time and sent in donations, but the zoo wasn’t hurting. In fact, they reached out to their local community and were able to donate firewood to those in need.Preparation is key, and the zoo is already making improvements to make sure the next time won’t be as tough.“Our biggest issue that affected us, believe it or not, was our above-ground plumbing,” Forthman said. “We had broken water lines all over the place that we're still working on now. So that's going to change before we have another huge freeze like this, that's for sure.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. 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Catherine Falls Commercial/GettyAuthor’s introduction: Months after giving birth to her firstborn son as an unmarried teenager in 1961, Margaret Erle Katz became one of an estimated three million young women in the decades after World War II and before Roe v. Wade who was forced—by her family; by society; and even New York State law, which until 1971 criminalized premarital sex—to surrender her firstborn son into an adoption system designed to keep the identities of birth families, adoptees, and adoptive families a secret. Margaret, the 17-year-old daughter of Jewish refugees in Manhattan, did all she could to maintain custody of her son. She pushed aside the shaming admonitions of her parents, maternity home officials, and social workers, who told her she would “forget” her baby and move on. She eloped with her son's father, George Katz, but was no match for the predatory industry intent on delivering white infants to the homes of hopeful couples who were unable to conceive in a period—the Baby Boom—in which creating families was a national fetish.Margaret and George Katz had had three more children and were raising their family in New Jersey in 1981. Unbeknownst to anyone, even George, Margaret still thought daily about the son she'd been coerced into relinquishing to Louise Wise Services, the Manhattan adoption agency into whose custody her mother had signed her. Over the years, she had called the agency to warn the son she'd named Stephen of the illnesses in the family tree. When Stephen was a young adult, Margaret herself was becoming politicized by adoptee-rights activists in New York and began trying to find him herself. Thwarted by New York's byzantine secrecy laws, she resolved to leave her contact information for him at the agency's Upper East Side offices.As much as Margaret sought to ignore the topic of adoption, it continued to bubble to the surface. One day, during a quiet moment, she picked up a newspaper and saw a headline that read “Parents Want Proposal Defeated.” The article addressed the concerns of adoptive parents, who were trying to block the passage of a bill to allow New Jersey adoptees access to their original birth certificates. In the brief piece, a woman who represented the group Concerned Adoptive Parents said such a bill represented an “intrusion into the sanctity of the home and personal lives,” and was a “betrayal” that would benefit no one.How, exactly, was the legislation a “betrayal”? Margaret wondered. She certainly wouldn’t feel that way if Stephen found her and got in touch. Didn’t Stephen have the right to learn more about himself? And didn’t she have the right to learn what had happened to him, her own flesh and blood?The Adoption System’s Lost ChildrenFocus, Margaret, she told herself. Focus. Look at your beautiful family. She envisioned Stephen at the Louvre; at the Colosseum; praying at Jerusalem’s Western Wall—and above all, with the loving parents who were raising him. She turned the page.When Gertrude died of metastatic cancer in 1978—Margaret cared for her till the end—she felt a complex range of emotions: sadness, guilt, and a feeling that a weight had lifted. The secret remained, but with Gertrude gone, the force of its hurt had begun to diminish ever so slightly. After the funeral and shiva, Margaret turned her attention to Josef. Ill with emphysema, he fell into a deep depression. When he wasn’t silent, he’d have angry outbursts. “Let me die,” he’d say when doctors tried to drain his lungs. As she often did, Margaret winced with remorse as she remembered how she’d shamed her parents with the pregnancy. Was it somehow, after all these years, worsening his anguish? She tried to put her invisible son out of her mind.But one day in early 1980, she looked down at the classifieds section of a New York newspaper that was sitting on the kitchen countertop. She saw a notice for an ALMA meeting the following week at a large Protestant church in midtown Manhattan. She took it as a sign that she couldn’t wait to find Stephen a moment longer.On the appointed evening, after an early dinner, she told George she had to attend a school meeting in another town. “It will go very late,” she told him. She dressed in her best slacks and jacket, raced in her wood-paneled station wagon to a parking lot at Princeton Junction, and took a train into the city. She took the subway uptown, exiting a few blocks from the church. She anxiously glanced to see if anyone she knew was behind her as she double-checked the address, and scanned the street again as she stepped gingerly up the steps of the red sandstone church. She walked upstairs to the second floor, where she heard voices floating from the social hall. A woman in the doorway noticed her standing there.“You’re here for the ALMA meeting?” she asked. Margaret nodded, too shy to speak.“Come on in,” the woman said.More than a dozen people stood near a table in the meeting room, drinking coffee and eating cocktail nuts. Most of them were women. Margaret, anxious, glanced around the room. She didn’t recognize a single face, but she sat on a metal folding chair in the back just in case. Then a woman about Margaret’s age stood up before a lectern. “Can everyone hear me?” she asked in a clear, calm voice. She wore overalls and had creamy, pale skin and thick chestnut hair in a braid that dangled over one shoulder. When she smiled, deep dimples punctured both cheeks. She introduced herself as Pam Hasegawa.She was born, she said, in New York City in 1943, the year before Margaret, and adopted at birth by a Manhattan couple. She was their only child. She had never touched a blood relative until she delivered her firstborn, Sergei, a boy she and her Japanese-born husband named after the composer Rachmaninoff.She spoke about the profound need for adoptees to have access to their original birth certificates, and how state laws in all but Kansas and Alaska prevented them from doing so. She spoke kindly about her gentle adoptive father, but did not shy away from her lonely childhood, and the difficulties she’d had with her late mother. Her mother had been mentally ill and was often institutionalized during severe mood swings in which she lost touch with reality. Pam was candid: when her adoptive mother died when she was twelve, she felt a burden fade.At the same time, though, her relief seemed to fuel even more frequent fantasies about finding her birth mother. Pam said she envisioned her as a kind, steady presence who liked classical music as much as she did.Her mission, and ALMA’s—Pam was also helping to lead legislative efforts in New Jersey—was to learn the most basic of truths: who she was, and where she came from. She smiled sadly as she ended her brief talk. “I know many of you will understand me when I say this much: whenever I see people with dimples, or wavy brown hair that’s the same color as mine, it’s really hard not to stare,” she said. “You always wonder: Are you my mother? My sister? My brother? My father?”By then, Margaret was rapt. She hadn’t spoken a word about her missing son in years. She’d spent seventeen years looking for him in crowds, wondering if boys with dimpled chins might be him, then reminding herself that it couldn’t possibly be him—Stephen, after all, lived abroad. Margaret had been riveted by Florence Fisher’s story, but she’d wanted to believe her rocky childhood had been the exception. Adoptees were supposed to have better lives. Better parents. A new start.Now she was hearing about the experience of another adoptee, in person, whose experiences echoed both Fisher’s and her own. Did Stephen think she had rejected him, or was a “bad girl”? What if he was angry at her and never wanted to meet her? Worse, what if he was sick? Or, like Pam, felt unloved? As Pam’s words sank in, Margaret tried not to cry. Maybe Stephen missed her, too, and was looking for her. Maybe he had questions about his heritage. What if his adoptive parents were dead, and he had nobody?Pam—a lost daughter—had kept her composure, so Margaret—a lost mother—resolved that she could too. Margaret, of course, had met many other pregnant girls at Lakeview. But the national scope of adoption had never dawned on her. Pam’s passionate discourse spelled it out: What had happened to mothers like Margaret and to the children from whom they were separated was a profound, cruel wrong with corrupt roots. Together, they could help set things right.As Margaret listened, she began to understand, for the first time, the enormity of what she had endured. Pam, who had become a close friend of Florence Fisher’s, described the experience as a massive injustice. It wasn’t just Margaret, George, and Stephen who suffered from the silence, secrecy, and judgments surrounding adoption, it was in fact millions of others. Hasegawa, citing figures widely circulating at the time, said that in 1980 there were more than 5 million living adoptees. And despite the claims of adoption workers, adopted people were not tabula rasa, and adoption was not a discrete event: it affected everyone involved, for generations. According to Pam, few people in the United States could claim that adoption didn’t touch them. By adding birth and adoptive parents, plus siblings, half siblings, and eight grandparents, she said, adoptee- rights advocates estimated that approximately a third of Americans had a link to adoption in their direct immediate families.After the talk, Margaret mustered the courage to introduce herself and ask what she could do to find Stephen. She had no desire to register with ALMA; what would postal workers think if they saw a letter from the organization? Worse, what if the kids found it? Pam suggested they sit down, and as they faced each other at a plastic folding table, Pam explained the steps Margaret could take to search for her son. Luckily, Pam said, Stephen had been born in New York City. Pam explained that in New York City, the birth of every child is recorded in an index with a number that also appears on his birth certificate; at the time, the indexes were stored in giant ledgers at the main branch of the New York Public Library.For New York City adoptees, the same number issued on the city index appeared on four records: in the index with their birth names, on their original birth certificates, in the birth index with the adoptive name, and on the amended birth certificate. Pam told Margaret to search through the ledgers to find Stephen’s number in the birth index. It would appear with Stephen’s name, his birth date, and a code noting that he had been born on Staten Island. Once Margaret found Stephen’s index number, Pam explained, she could use it to match him with his adoptive name.Margaret left the meeting feeling almost giddy. Now she had a map. But every time she thought of making the trip to the library, some urgent matter arose. Josef was increasingly ill, and with three small children, it seemed too risky to sneak into Manhattan for the day.Then, in April 1981, Josef died.She loved her father, but as she cleared out his clothes after the shiva, she also realized that now she had more freedom than ever to begin her search. The children were all in school, and while the tasks of cooking, cleaning, and carpooling were almost entirely hers, she finally had time to herself. After nearly two decades, her yearning to find her son had only intensified. She could go into New York City without having to worry or explain herself—at least not too much.One day in late spring, she planned her trip with great care. She told George she needed to buy some sheets on sale at Macy’s near Herald Square, and made a show out of clipping some coupons from the local newspaper. Once George left for work, and the children for school, she dressed in a skirt and blouse, packed herself a turkey sandwich, and drove to the station. She got off the bus at Port Authority, striding past the very same gate where she caught the bus to elope. Nearly eighteen years had passed since that moment, and Margaret took it as a sign. In Judaism, eighteen is the symbol for the letter Chai, and the number and its multiples are symbols of luck.She walked the three long blocks east to the majestic library, past the marble lions and up the worn steps to the entrance. She knew the place well, of course—she had also come to the library to study bus schedules and the state rules for marriage. Now she was coming to try to find her son.The librarian in charge of the birth indexes demanded her driver’s license. Margaret sensed that the man knew why she was searching the records, and her heart fluttered at what she felt was a disapproving glance. She made sure to display her left, wedding-ringed hand when reaching for the first giant brown ledger of 1961 births. The man issued a warning, already posted in several places. “No purses, no bags, no pens, pencils, or paper allowed,” he bellowed.She almost didn’t know where to start. Pam had explained that the births were listed alphabetically by surname, but when Margaret took down the first ledger of surnames from A to K to find Erle, she was so overcome by nerves she couldn’t focus. She returned the ledger, her search yielding nothing. She checked her watch every few minutes, terrified she’d be late to pick up the linens, terrified she’d miss the bus back to Roosevelt. Terrified someone would find her out.Finally, she left empty-handed—and dejected. She rushed eight blocks south to Macy’s and bought the first set of sheets she put her hands on.On her return to Roosevelt, she caught sight of her reflection in the window. She was about to turn thirty-six. Her hair was long and wavy. Her eyelashes were long, her almond eyes were rimmed with liner, and her face still looked youthful. Or did it? In the bright afternoon light, she noticed the faintest of crow’s-feet and a small crease between her eyebrows.A few weeks later, Margaret told George she had to visit a sick friend in Manhattan. She got off the bus, raced toward the library, and confidently asked for the ledger containing the E’s. This time, she found the listing immediately. It was proof of her son’s birth—and her as his mother—in black and white. As Pam had promised, Stephen’s name, the date and location of his arrival, and the last four digits of his city birth record number were all there. When she saw the listing—she committed the numbers to memory—her heart leapt. Now all she had to do was find the matching number in the index next to his adoptive name.She devised new excuses to go into the city. George didn’t ask questions, and by now, her trips to the library were almost routine. Margaret was on a mission as she returned to the room of ledgers. She had Stephen’s birth date and the four-digit ending as clues, but had little else to go on as she sought the index entry of his new name. The indexes were arranged alphabetically by year, and Margaret assumed that Stephen had been adopted shortly after she had signed the surrender papers in May 1962. Hour after hour, trip after exhausting trip, she combed through seven months of 1962 ledgers looking for the numeric match that would reveal her son’s adoptive name.She tried to push away haunting thoughts, remembering those months after Stephen’s birth when she lived at the YWCA, so desperate to get him back. She thought of the weeks she’d spent in this very building, scouring bus routes in her naive belief that eloping would keep her new family together. She thought of the tiny images of Stephen as a somber three-month-old, and of his giggling the last time she saw him. What did he look like now? Surely he was in college: Did he live at home with his parents and commute to school, or did he live on a campus? What did he like to eat? Did he like sports, like his father and Mark? Was he artistic, like Lisa? Did he like Billy Joel? Did he like show tunes and jazz, like her? Did he have a knack for singing and performing, like Cheri? Already the little girl had a powerful voice that belied her small body. With perfect pitch, she’d already begun singing complex lyrics into a toy microphone.One day, not long after Thanksgiving, Margaret stepped out of the bus terminal, greeted by canned Christmas music, bright lights, and Santas ringing Salvation Army bells. It was cold and rainy, and she wore galoshes and a rain bonnet to cover her hair. She had been searching for six months, combing through hundreds of columns for the matching digits, with her eye especially on common Jewish surnames. She raked through names from Ackerman to Cohen, from Franken to Mossberg, from Pasternak to Wasserman.When she was down to the letters between W and Z, she gave herself a pep talk. Maybe he’d been adopted by some Weissmans. Or someone whose last name started with Z. But when her eyes finally made it through the Zwerdlings, she wanted to cry. All those books, all those names: Had she missed one? Could she have? Should she start again? And then she told herself no. She had been so careful. She had used an index card to guide her descent through each page so she wouldn’t skip a line, so her eyes wouldn’t play tricks if she was tired. She’d read each 1962 book twice, scanning for the four-digit match that would give her her son’s new name. It never dawned on her that the adoption had happened nearly two years after he was born. His name would not be anywhere she was looking.On that dreary day, when she got up to return the final ledger to the librarian, she felt some hope flee. Maybe he’d been adopted in Israel. Or Italy. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.She stifled tears as she shuffled back through the crowds to Port Authority and forced herself to think about what she did have: a husband and three children she cherished. She climbed aboard the bus feeling despondent. But then something strange happened: she got angry—an emotion she hadn’t felt, not really, since the days in the hospital when she demanded to see her son. She thought of Florence Fisher and the failed legislation. She thought of Pam, and the crowd of others at the church. She thought of the futility of her search at the library. Why was this so hard? And wasn’t there something more she could do? Margaret did what she usually did with her mind and hands and made herself busy. Hanukkah was approaching, so that evening on her way home from the station, she stopped at the store to buy the potatoes and onions she would make into pancakes and freeze for the first night of the holiday later that month. She was quiet that night as she made dinner; she was quiet as she helped the kids with their homework. George watched hockey on television, and after she kissed Lisa, Mark, and Cheri good night, she retreated to her bathroom and drew herself a hot bath. She poured in a cup of Epsom salts and stepped in as the water lapped around her, muffling her sobs.She woke up the next morning, made breakfast for everyone, and set about grating the vegetables and frying the latkes. She made stack after stack—enough for her family, enough for the neighbor kids, and enough to give her time to think as the smell of the oniony oil permeated her kitchen. Instead of focusing on her first, fruitless search, she thought of a new way to find Stephen. Her mind was a jumble.She knew this much: Her son would be twenty in a few weeks, a legal adult in New York. The Twenty-Sixth Amendment, passed in 1971 during the Vietnam War, had lowered the minimum voting age to eighteen in all states; in New York it had become the age of majority for both men and women. What was stopping her from going directly to Louise Wise? After her dozens of calls about the family’s medical issues, certainly they had a decent file on him; maybe they even knew where he was.She pushed aside her memories of the time she’d been there, arriving through the hidden entrance and then waiting, pregnant and terrified, as Gertrude and a social worker plotted her and her baby’s future. But now she was someone different: Mrs. Margaret Katz. She would enter through the front steps and leave her contact information. Now the staff would treat her with respect. Surely, she believed, they would help her. Things were different now: a woman had just been appointed to the Supreme Court. She dialed Louise Wise’s number; she hadn’t forgotten it from the clandestine calls from phone booths. This time, she made up a name and a story about how she and her husband were interested in adopting a child. She wanted to come in, she said, and needed to know their office hours. For the first time ever, the woman who answered the phone at Louise Wise Services was kind.“Nine to five, Mrs. Meyer,” she told Margaret. “Thank you very much,” Margaret responded.“We hope to be seeing you soon, Mrs. Meyer,” the receptionist said. “Please call to schedule an appointment when you are ready.”As she wrapped the latkes in tinfoil, she glanced at her kitchen calendar. She would visit the agency’s elegant brownstone on East Ninety-Fourth Street on December 18, a Friday, twenty years and a day after she’d given birth to Stephen. He was a grown man now and had the right to know his origins if he wished—to know she’d never stopped thinking about him. Never stopped wondering. Never stopped loving him. Maybe he would even want to meet. She’d seen tearful reunions of mothers who’d lost their children to adoption on television. Maybe, she thought, Stephen would want the same. She imagined embracing him; she imagined George embracing him; she imagined all four siblings embracing one another. Who would he most look like?The morning of her journey, she announced to George nonchalantly that she had to buy Hanukkah gifts for the holiday’s start two days later. He didn’t flinch. If he suspected anything—and she believed he didn’t—he never let on.On that morning, a Friday, she saw everyone off and took a few bites of toast. She put on her best pantsuit and her long winter coat and pulled on her brown leather gloves. It was cold, and she drove herself to the station with a single-minded purpose.She brought a book to read on the forty-five-minute bus ride to Manhattan, but she was so excited, she couldn’t concentrate. She tried praying. She tried breathing exercises. Her mind raced—what if there was a note from Stephen already waiting for her? The ride seemed to take forever, and Margaret checked her watch every few minutes as the bus chugged north in pre-Christmas traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike.Finally, it pulled into Port Authority. Margaret pushed her way through the midmorning holiday crowds to the ladies’ room. As she touched up her hair and freshened her makeup, she decided to splurge on a taxi. She looked pretty. Respectable. Ready to be received at Louise Wise.When she stepped into the cab, her heart still fluttering, she again tried to visualize getting some brief news of her son. Maybe there’d be word about his wonderful childhood. She felt the same surge of hope she had felt as a teenager when the social workers reassured her about his bris. In her head, she practiced what she was going to tell the receptionist, making sure the words came out evenly.As the cab traveled uptown and then across the park festooned with Christmas lights, Margaret again tried to calm her ragged breathing. When the driver inched toward the brownstone on East Ninety-Fourth Street, she felt buoyed with confidence. She hoped she’d return triumphantly to George that night with wonderful news of their son’s whereabouts. Her mind flashed briefly to Florence Fisher’s recalcitrant mother, so fearful of what her second family might think. Such worries could not have been further from Margaret’s mind. Everybody who had been ashamed of her was dead. If the neighbors made a fuss, tough—they’d have to cope. Lisa, Mark, and Cheri would adore their big brother.She’d even read some more recent stories about ALMA. There were lots of people out there looking for their parents. Surely her Jewish son, adopted by Jewish parents through a Jewish agency founded by the wife of one of America’s most prominent rabbis, wanted to find her too. De- spite how Gertrude and Fritz had acted, she reasoned, Jews, as a people, cared about family, above all else. Didn’t they?She looked up at the elegant building and the gleaming Palladian window she’d only glimpsed from the inside, walked up the front steps, and rang the buzzer with her gloved index finger. She heard a click and pushed open the door to the vestibule. She closed the heavy outside door behind her, stepped onto the black-and-white-tile floor, and pressed another bell.“May I help you?” said a woman’s voice.“My name is Margaret Erle Katz,” she said, making sure to keep her tone measured. “I’m here to leave contact information for my son. I gave birth to him on December 17, 1961.”There was no response. Margaret touched the buzzer again.“Yes?” the same voice asked.“His father and I are married, and he has three siblings. I’ve called many times with medical information.” She paused. “I don’t want to interfere with his life, but I’d like to leave my number and address for him,” Margaret said.There was no response.Through the vestibule’s glass panels, Margaret could see a woman in an office at the end of the hallway. The woman did not look up at her. Margaret rang the buzzer again.She could hear a click, but this time, no voice. Margaret continued: “I’d like to leave contact information for our son, so that if he ever looks, he’ll know how to find us. Can I please come talk to someone, so I can leave him our number?”Her assurance began to flee; her indignation, to rise. All the years she’d called in secret; all those years fearing someone would expose her. All the years she’d wanted to write but didn’t, afraid a return letter would reveal her secret.She rang the bell a fourth time, aware, as she stood in the drafty space on marble tiles, just how cold it was outside. “Hello?” Margaret said again. “May I please come in?”There was a pause. This time, the woman’s voice was threatening, not aloof. “You’d better leave, or we’ll call the police. You’re trespassing.” It took a moment for the words to sink in. Then Margaret felt her knees buckle, and she crumpled to the floor. Curled into a fetal position, at first she was mute. When a cry finally emerged, it seemed disembodied, hanging in the air as if it had come from far away. Then she began to sob. Panic, rage, fear, and shame sprang from such a deep well, all she could do to gather her emotions was cross her arms and rock herself from side to side, as if trying to mother herself. Was Stephen dead, and they weren’t telling her? Had he died of illness as a child? In a horrible accident as a teenager? Was that the reason she’d had those nightmares?The voice called to her again. “If you don’t leave now, we’ll call the police.”Margaret forced herself to stand up and go.As she turned to face the door, she shuddered uncontrollably. It was near-freezing outdoors. Her limbs were cold, but her body, under layers of clothing, began to perspire profusely. As resolved as she’d been as a teenager to claim her son as her own, this time, she felt the optimism she’d maintained for two decades drain through the soles of her black pumps.From AMERICAN BABY by Gabrielle Glaser, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Gabrielle Glaser.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast / Photos GettyImagine excavating ancient burial ground and running across a brewery. This is exactly what happened last month when the Egyptian government announced that a team of Egyptian and American archaeologists had discovered what may be the world’s oldest known beer factory. Pyramids, Pharaoh, and now tasty adult beverages—ancient Egypt had it all.The factory was unearthed at Abydos, a site located 280 miles to the south of Cairo and west of the Nile river. Abydos is primarily known for its temples and funerary practices, with a number of monuments honoring Osiris, the god of the dead. Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, noted that the discovery was made at the site of an ancient burial ground and that the beer factory dates to the reign of King Narmer, who lived and ruled at the beginning of the First Dynastic period, more than 5,000 years ago.Dr. Matthew Adams, of the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and one of the leaders (along with Dr. Deborah Vischak of Princeton University) of the mission, said that the factory was built here to supply beer for royal rituals. The brewery itself was divided into eight large sections each of which contained 40 clay pots for mixing grain and water. In its prime, Adams added, the brewery may have produced as much as 22,400 liters of beer at a time. Beer was an important part of the ancient Egyptian diet that was drunk by everyone from Pharaohs to peasants, and workers were even sometimes paid in beer.How ‘Sesame Street’ Was Inspired by Beer CommercialsAs ancient as the Abydos factory is, it wasn’t the first place that beer was made. The world’s oldest alcoholic beverage likely comes from China, but beer likely emerged in the Middle East. The factory is roughly contemporaneous with ceramic vessels—still coated with a sticky beer residue—found in ancient Mesopotamia. The Sumerian “Hymn to Ninkasi” (ca. 1800 BCE), which was sung in honor of the goddess of beer, includes a recipe that was made by female priestesses. For ancient Sumerians, beer was a staple as it was healthier than drinking water from streams, which was often contaminated with animal waste.Ancient Egyptian beer was flavored with mandrakes, olive oil and dates, which accounted for the sweetness; it was only with the rise of beer among medieval monks that hops were thrown into the mix. Even though hops is the most popular form of beer today, there were rivals in the medieval world. As early as the eighth century CE, brewers used gruit (a combination of botanicals that, like hops, prevent bacteria from growing in the liquid) in their concoctions. In his book Beer in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Richard Unger argues that gruit was the most popular form of beer in the twelfth century.For many brewers, flavor additives were a necessity. Bavarian summer beers, for example, were fermented in open barrels that were exposed to bacteria and, thus, liable to go “off.” To cover up the taste of these summer beers, brewers would add other ingredients including legumes, salt, chalk, soot, and even oxen bile and chicken blood. Beer has to taste pretty bad for you to add bile to improve the flavor. The popularity of beer led, almost inevitably, to regulation. In 1156 the city of Augsburg passed a decree insisting that bad beer “be destroyed or distributed among the poor at no charge.” By 1336 the city of Munich had appointed beer inspectors and in 1516, the Bavarian Duke Wilhelm IV issued the Reinheitsgebot, or beer purity law, which stipulated that only barley, hops and water could be used in Bavarian beer. The decree, which became law for all of Germany in 1906, is the world’s oldest food safety regulation.The Bavarians were not the first to try and legislate beer, however. Cleopatra introduced a tax on beer—which ancient Egyptians preferred to wine—to finance her wars with Rome. As Jason Lambrecht has put it, “this was so outrageous to Egypt, that it would compare to a tax on water today.” As unpopular as Cleopatra’s tax was, other governments have tried it with varying degrees of success. In the thirteenth century, the French city of Aix-la-Chapelle decreed that brewers who failed to pay their taxes would have their right hand cut off. When the British raised taxes on beer in the seventeenth century, they inadvertently made gin the cheapest alcoholic beverage in the country. The ensuing widespread consumption of gin led to substantial alcoholism problems in Britain, with the death rate overtaking the birth rate during this period.Is This Baboon Skull a Clue to Egypt’s Lost Kingdom of PuntBeer taxation is not always a bad thing, however. When 27-year-old Arthur Guinness set up his brewery in 1752 he chose to make a dark beer with unmalted roasted barley because it allowed him to lower the taxes he would otherwise have paid on malt and extra coal. The introduction of customs duties on beer (and wine) by Britain in 1764 was one of the many tax-related outrages that contributed to the American Revolution. Once Independence was achieved, beer circulated widely and tax-free until Abraham Lincoln and Congress, like Cleopatra before them, introduced a $1 per barrel tax in 1862 to help pay for the Civil War. You might say that when you’re drinking beer, you’re supporting freedom.Today, beer remains America’s most popular alcoholic beverage. Historically, this seems always to have been the case. Sixteenth-century colonists, adapting a recipe developed by Native Americans, used corn instead of malt in their recipes. It’s revealing that one of the first job advertisements placed by residents of Jamestown, Virginia in England was for “two brewers” to join them and make ale.Like the Americans, the ancient Egyptians loved their beer. It was only when the Romans, who much preferred wine and bread, turned Egypt into the bread-basket of the Roman empire that breweries were replaced with granaries. With that the beer recipes of the Egyptians were lost—but perhaps this new discovery will help reveal the ancient beer industry’s secrets.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Biden and Democratic leaders are pushing for passage before March 14 when unemployment benefits approved under an earlier relief bill expire.
Chinese state-sponsored group Hafnium reportedly used four zero-day flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server to infiltrate at least 30,000 organizations in the US.
The Mars rover Perseverance has successfully conducted its first test drive on the Red Planet, the US space agency NASA said on Friday. The six-wheeled rover travelled about 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) in 33 minutes on Thursday, NASA said. It drove four meters forward, turned in place 150 degrees to the left, and then backed up 2.5 meters, leaving tyre tracks in the Martian dust. "This was our first chance to 'kick the tyres' and take Perseverance out for a spin," said Anais Zarifian, Perseverance mobility test bed engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Zarifian said the test drive went "incredibly well" and represented a "huge milestone for the mission and the mobility team."
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Welcome to your early-morning news briefing from The Telegraph - a round-up of the top stories we are covering on Saturday. To receive twice-daily briefings by email, sign up to our Front Page newsletter for free. 1. Travel permits to stop Easter holidays abroad People seeking to leave Britain from Monday will have to show a new permit proving they are travelling for essential reasons in a move to stop Easter holidays. The crackdown – enforced by on-the-spot fines and the threat of criminal action – came as holiday destinations including Cyprus, Seychelles, Greece and the Spanish islands rushed to open to vaccinated Britons. Read the full story 2. Charity Commission reviewing Harry and Meghan's Sussex Royal organisation The Charity Commission is conducting a review of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's philanthropic organisation, The Telegraph can disclose. Well-placed sources have told The Telegraph the watchdog is examining how Sussex Royal was run and whether it complied with charity law. Read the full story 3. The inside story of the rift between Harry and Meghan and The Firm There was something distinctly familiar about the Oprah Winfrey teaser in which Prince Harry declared: "My biggest concern was history repeating itself." The words, due to be aired during the Duke and Duchess of Sussexes' tell-all interview on Sunday night, bore an uncanny resemblance to the statement released by Harry's communications secretary, Jason Knauf, in November 2016 after the Sunday Express had revealed that the Prince was dating the American actress. Read the full story 4. Death rate back to normal as Covid infections fall by third in a week Coronavirus infections have fallen by one third in a week, data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show, as Public Health England (PHE) surveillance confirmed death rates were back to normal. Experts continued to call for an earlier relaxation of restrictions, although sources close to the Government insisted that a five-week gap between each stage was crucial to check cases were not rising, suggesting the release dates would not be moved. Read the full story 5. NHS pay backlash threatens to overshadow Sunak's Budget Things could not have looked much rosier for Rishi Sunak on Thursday evening. A little over 24 hours after announcing his "spend now, tax later" Budget, the Chancellor was facing barely any backlash. His policies would push the UK tax burden to its highest level in half a century, yet the rebellion which Tory MPs were threatening beforehand had turned to dust. Read the full story Stay up-to-date with breaking news and the latest politics from The Telegraph throughout the day.
The US Senate broke a logjam late Friday when a centrist Democrat compromised on a key provision of the Covid relief package, setting the $1.9 trillion bill on a likely path to passage.
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