Tag Archives: Begun

The Pandemic in the U.S. Has Vastly Improved. For These Families, the Worst Has Just Begun.

For families of those who are dying now, the entire issue of vaccination has created a new layer of discomfort — and a set of difficult questions no one was asking in the early months of the crisis, before vaccines.

Hollie Rivers has been devastated in the weeks since her husband, Antwone, died in Michigan. Mr. Rivers had helped raise their blended family of five children, Ms. Rivers said, and had worked his way up to the manager level at his job at a vehicle logistics company. She said he became her life partner — the “Charlie,” as she called him, to her “Angel.” At his funeral in May, she helped carry the coffin.

“I wanted to hold him until the very end, until I couldn’t hold him any longer,” Ms. Rivers, 28, said.

But after Ms. Rivers gave an interview to a Detroit-area television station and disclosed that her husband had not been vaccinated, she said she faced critical comments online. She and her husband had been initially hesitant, she said, but were considering getting the vaccine. Then Mr. Rivers, 40, got sick in early April, his wife said, before Michigan opened up vaccination to people his age.

Ms. Rivers described some online comments, including on a family GoFundMe page, as plainly hostile: “He refused the shot, how could you dare ask for money?” she recalled the tone of one message suggesting.

“Now I just feel like I want to cancel it. It’s not about money,” said Ms. Rivers, who is on short-term leave from her job installing car door panels. “I would live in a cardboard box if it meant my husband coming back to me and his kids.”

Dr. Miles, the epidemiologist who studies grief, said she had seen such dynamics play out in deaths from diseases like lung cancer or diabetes.

Author: Sarah Mervosh
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

This Seminary Built on Slavery and Jim Crow Has Begun Paying Reparations

[Race affects our lives in countless ways. To read more stories on race from The New York Times, sign up here for our Race/Related newsletter.]

One night in 1858, Carter Dowling, an enslaved Black man forced to work without pay at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Northern Virginia, made the brave decision to escape.

He made it to Philadelphia, where he met the famed abolitionist William Still. He then continued north to Canada and, after the Civil War, returned to Washington, D.C., where he was able to open a bank account for his children. He eventually went on to work as a labor organizer in Buffalo.

To this day, Mr. Dowling’s family line continues. And, most likely for one of the first times in American history, his descendants could receive cash payments for his forced labor.

In February, the Virginia Theological Seminary began handing out cash payments to the descendants of Black Americans who were forced to work there during the time of slavery and Jim Crow.

The program is among the first of its kind. Though other institutions have created atonement programs, such as scholarships and housing vouchers for Black people, few, if any, have provided cash. (The Times could not verify whether the seminary is the first to provide cash payments.)

“When white institutions have to face up with the sins of their past, we’ll do everything we can to prevaricate, and we’ll especially prevaricate if it’s going to have some sort of financial implication,” said the Rev. Ian S. Markham, the president and dean of the seminary, which is in Alexandria, Va. “We wanted to make sure that we both not just say and articulate and speak what’s right, but also take some action — and we were committed to that from the outset.”

The checks, about $ 2,100 this year, will come annually and have begun to flow to the descendants of those Black workers. The money has been pulled from a $ 1.7 million fund, which is set to grow at the rate of the seminary’s large endowment. Though just 15 people have received payments so far, that number could grow by the dozens as genealogists pore through records to find living descendants.

The program authorized payments to the members of the generation closest to the original workers, calling them “shareholders.” If that generation includes people who have died, the payments would go to their children. And if that person had no children, the money would be split among the siblings of the eldest generation.

The Rev. Joseph Thompson, the seminary’s director of multicultural ministries, remembers the day that Mr. Markham walked into his office and asked what he thought about creating a reparations program.

“This is one of those things I never thought I would see in my lifetime — a serious, a kind of broad conversation about reparations in the United States of America,” he said. “That was a very striking moment for me.”

Credit…Linda J. Thomas

The seminary’s leaders acknowledge that the particulars of who will receive money, and how much, could be complicated. Take the case of Mr. Dowling. While he was Black, his grandchildren identified themselves on official records as white, and so have their descendants.

Maddy McCoy, a genealogist working with the seminary to find the descendants of enslaved individuals, said that while such situations have presented difficult questions, the seminary had tackled them head on.

“There is no manual that we are referring to as we move through this,” Ms. McCoy said. “With that, it’s going to be a lot of ups and downs and a lot of really, really difficult decisions and difficult conversations, but that’s what this work is.”

The expansion of the program in the coming years will coincide with the seminary’s 200th anniversary in 2023. The seminary, a 25-minute drive south from Washington, has become the most powerful in the Episcopal Church. It graduates about 50 students a year and boasts a $ 191 million endowment.

But the institution, for all its prominence, depended for decades on the labor of Black people who were never paid adequately for their labor — or were never paid at all. They included gardeners, cooks, janitors, dishwashers and laundry workers. The exact number of Black workers from 1823 to 1951 is still unknown, but they probably numbered in the hundreds.

Among them was the grandfather of Linda J. Thomas, the first woman to receive a $ 2,100 payment from the seminary. Ms. Thomas’s grandfather, John Samuel Thomas Jr., worked at the seminary after World War I as a janitor, and most likely also as a laborer on the seminary’s farm.

Ms. Thomas, 65, said her mother remembered growing up in a little white house on the campus. She said her grandfather had dreamed of becoming a minister but had been barred from applying to the seminary because of his skin color. Eventually, near the end of World War II, he moved to Washington and became a minister before his death in 1967.

Though the payments are modest, she said she hoped the program would mark a shift in the American narrative around reparations — both about the exploitation of Black people and the institutions that benefited. “For so many years, people with the sweat on their backs not only picked cotton, but built institutions,” she said.

While the seminary’s program is groundbreaking in the United States, William A. Darity, a professor of public policy and African-American studies at Duke University, said such atonement programs should not be interpreted as sufficient in righting the wrongs of slavery or in eliminating the effects of racist policies.

The only institution that can fund a comprehensive reparations program large enough to atone for the lost wages of slavery or bridge the racial wealth gap is the federal government, he said. “This is not a matter of personal guilt,” he added, estimating that such a comprehensive program would require $ 11 trillion. “This is a matter of national responsibility.”

Public support for reparations has grown over the years, from 19 percent of those surveyed in 1999 to 31 percent in 2021, according to polls from ABC and The Washington Post. But even within the seminary, the atonement program drew some pushback.

Mr. Markham said a handful of donors had objected and had said they would no longer contribute money. They also heard from some people who asked to be removed from the seminary’s mailing lists.

In determining how to provide reparations, a common dividing line has been whether to provide cash. The City Council of Evanston, Ill., agreed to distribute $ 10 million to Black families in the form of housing grants, though the particulars of that plan remain unclear. Earlier this year, Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia signed a law requiring five public universities to create scholarships and community development programs for Black individuals. And in March, a prominent order of Catholic priests vowed to raise $ 100 million to benefit the descendants of the enslaved people it once owned.

Payments are a fundamental part of the Virginia seminary’s program, said Ebonee Davis, the associate for multicultural ministries, but she added that relationships with families, as well as the recognition of their ancestors’ contributions, were also crucial. “I’ve cried on the phone with shareholders,” she said. “We’ve laughed and kind of shared our disbelief that this is actually happening.”

It is no small task to confirm the identities of enslaved people who worked at the seminary, along with their descendants. It is likely that from 1823 to 1865, at least 290 people labored there, according to the research staff. From 1865 to 1951, there were probably hundreds more.

Gerald Wanzer, one of the shareholders, said the records examined by the seminary had revealed new details about several members of his family who worked there as general laborers, laundresses and janitors. His great-grandfather, a blacksmith, is believed to have been the first.

But Mr. Wanzer, 77, said that the seminary “can never make up for what happened 150 years ago, and the money is not going to change, personally, my views.” Mr. Wanzer said that in his own lifetime, he had experienced much of the racism that his ancestors endured.

“I never had to ride in the back of the bus, but I do remember the separate bathrooms and the separate water foundations, and not being able to get served at the carry-outs,” he said, adding that those experiences had fueled his belief that he would never live to see atonement in the form of cash payments.

Mr. Markham said that he believed America was facing a reckoning over racial inequality and that the seminary’s program, though modest, would help nudge the nation away from its tendency to turn a blind eye.

“I think the time has come to say, ‘No, you can’t anymore,’” he said. “You actually do need to really face up to what happened, how it happened, and how you make it right.”

Author: Will Wright
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

The Red Room Takeover has begun in Marvel’s Avengers

Prepare for a conquering of crimson. The Red Room Takeover Event has initiated in Marvel’s Avengers and will last until May 31.

Agent James Woo has reported several anomalies within the HARM Room, linked to a computer virus that managed to make its way into the helicarrier’s system. The only thing he was able to decipher were cryptic messages addressed to Black Widow from her old friend Yelena Belova. The messages seem to be teasing, almost taunting, Natasha as if a twisted game were being played. Investigate these disturbances and find out what Yelena has in store for the Avengers.

New mission chains will be available during this event where players must enter five different hacked HARM Rooms, each with their own unique challenges and obstacles. These new HARM Rooms are tinged with red and include hazards that Yelena set up just to see if you can dodge them. In “the floor is lava” fashion, one of these hazards is techno lava, a pulsating surface that will immediately down an Avenger – or an enemy. The Red Room Takeover is single player only, scaled to different Power Levels, and you cannot bring your companions along with you to help. What fun would that be?

Marvel's Avengers - Red Room

Rewards for this event include an exclusive team nameplate, special gear, a unique comic set, and a substantial amount of XP.

Here are a few tips on how to survive the Red Room Takeover from Principal Designer Jason Botta:

  • Always. Be. Moving. – With large waves of enemies in small spaces, you’ll need to keep on your toes to stay out of harm’s way.
  • Utilize the ‘techno lava’ death pits – Positioning yourself correctly and utilizing the correct attacks to knock troublesome enemies off platforms to their deaths can be critical to surviving certain waves.
  • Use mobility and grapple focused characters for maximum enjoyment – You can get through them with anyone, but characters like Black Widow, Kate Bishop, Hawkeye, and Kamala can really flow through the spaces. Any character with a grapple can save you from poorly timed jumps.
  • But pay attention to the environments and which moves you’re using – Several heroes have moves that will translate them very far while in air, this can often lead to inadvertently landing in a death pit. Switch up tactics/moves in the air to avoid unfortunate deaths until you are really comfortable with the environments and can judge when you are over safe ground or not

Since part of the Red Room Takeover’s rewards are a staggering amount of XP, it ties in wonderfully with a new system we have introduced: the Champion System. Currently, when Heroes reach the level cap of 50, XP becomes obsolete since there are no more Skills to unlock. The Champion System solves this by allowing level 50 characters to continue earning XP to level up their Champion Levels. With each Champion Level, comes a Champion Skill Point, which can be used to unlock a new set of skills to further improve your character’s combat prowess.

Marvel's Avengers - Red Room

Champion Skills are on their own separate page of the UI and include boosts to Heroic Charge Rate, Melee Damage, Critical Chance, and much more. They are permanent boosts and do stack, which means unlocking skills in the entire tree will greatly increase each stat. There are a total of 372 Champion Levels, which means it’s time to grind and choose who your main is going to be. You will not be able to respec your Champion Skills yet, so for the time being, please choose carefully how you want to power up your hero.

We’re excited to see all your heroes continue to power up in preparation for some of the toughest content we will be introducing later this year. We have so much more down the road including Patrol Mode and of course, the War for Wakanda expansion. Enjoy the Red Room Takeover – if you can survive…

Xbox Live

Marvel’s Avengers

Square Enix

Marvel’s Avengers is an epic, third-person, action-adventure game that combines an original, cinematic story with single-player and co-operative gameplay*. Take the essential Super Hero gaming experience to another level! Marvel’s Avengers will be available for next-gen consoles at no extra cost.* This version will boast a wide spectrum of improvements to visuals and speed, and will be backwards compatible in single and multiplayer. Marvel’s Avengers has a beautiful world filled with exquisite detail, and with improved Heroics, destruction, graphical fidelity, and framerate versus previous gen, you won’t be missing any of it. Get right into the action with fast loading times and be blown away by the striking detail of enhanced destructive visuals that make Heroics feel truly in your hands. Marvel’s Avengers will support save file transfer and cross-gen play so you can pick up right where you left off and continue fighting AIM with your favorite Super Hero squad. We’re excited to herald in the next generation of consoles on Marvel’s Avengers! Marvel’s Avengers leverages the Smart Delivery technology – buy the game once and play it on either Xbox One or on Xbox Series X|S. Marvel’s Avengers on Xbox Series X|S is available now!*** *One-time online access required for single-player campaign; online access required for multiplayer and to download post-launch content. Free Square Enix Members account required. Platform-specific online subscription fee may be required. *Upgrading from the disk version will require the next-gen version of the same console with a disk drive. **Credits that you purchase are useable on Xbox Series X|S Console version of Marvel’s Avengers. Please be aware that the Credit that you own is synced with your Microsoft account, and the wallet will be shared through both platforms.

Author: Andy Wong, Community and Social Media Manager, Crystal Dynamics
This post originally appeared on Xbox Wire

Apex Legends Mobile beta has begun for some as download wait continues

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Gaming Feed

Apex Legends Mobile has been teased by developers Respawn Entertainment and publisher EA for some time, with the official port finally confirmed earlier this year.

The good news is that an Apex Legends Mobile beta is being conducted, meaning that some lucky gamers will have the chance to test it out early.

And according to the latest reports, the first of these tests have begun, allowing a select group of Android users to download the game on their phone.

The only downside is that this option is not available to everyone, and it could be a while before it becomes an option in the UK.

To begin with, the Apex Legends Mobile beta will be available to a few thousand lucky players in India and the Philippines.

But after this small initial rollout, EA is planning on opening up the Apex Legends Mobile beta to more players and regions around the world.

The first Apex Legends Mobile betas, which are launching in Spring 2021, will also only be available for Android devices.

EA said that as the size and scope of the beta tests expand iOS support will get added, along with a page that lets fans pre-register for the game and to sign-up for news about the beta.

And unlike other games, Apex Legends Mobile will not feature crossplay with other platforms, meaning you won’t be able to play with friends on console or PC.

A new report out today suggests that the new Apex Legends Mobile beta has begun in select regions.

A message from Respawn adds: “The Apex Legends Mobile is currently still in development and being optimised to run on a variety of devices.

“The beta specifically is available for phones running Android 6.0 and up. The mobile devices supported by this test do not represent the finally launched version, and we will support more models in the future.

“The game is still in development and the team is working to ensure Apex Legends Mobile truly feels like Apex Legends at its core.

“To start, only the World’s Edge map and some of the original Legends from the game will be playable. Additional details on the content available will be made closer to the launch of the game.

“To start with during our tests, the game will only be available on Google Play. We should note that the game should not be sideloaded through a third party site or direct APK download.

A New Limited-Time Pokémon Sword And Shield Item Distribution Event Has Begun

This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

Sword And Shield

Listen up, trainers! There’s a new item up for grabs in Pokémon Sword and Shield. This time around it’s the hold item Weakness Policy.

As explained by Serebii.net, the code for this item was released during the Pokémon Players Cup 3 stream. It’s available from now until 26th April, so be sure to redeem it while you still can. The code you’ll need for this particular item is: WPF1NALSPC3

“When held by a Pokémon, it raises the Pokémon’s Attack and Sp. Attack stats by two stages whenever it is hit by a move that is Super Effective”

Have you redeemed this item yet? Are you still playing Sword and Shield on a regular basis? Leave a comment down below. View all of the past code distributions for Sword and Shield in our full guide.

Neverwinter: A New War for Sharandar Has Begun

Old threats, now vanquished, leave room for rebuilding, for new growth, and for new foes. The Feywild calls upon adventurers once again in Neverwinter’s new module: Sharandar. Divided into three episodes, the newest content release brings a new storyline, adventure zone, dungeon, and more!

Episode 1: The Iron Tooth

Having defeated Malabog, the Iliyanbruen elves looked forward to a peaceful calm. Yet, an air of unease brings twisted visions and waking nightmares – compounded by the severing of the Fey Crossing. The bridge connecting the Feywild and Faerûn now blocks the passage between the planes as elven patrols report a threat watching in the shadows.

In Episode 1: The Iron Tooth, you will be asked to assist Merrisara Winterwhite and the rest of the Iliyanbruen elves in uncovering the source of this new threat.


Feywild Foes

The Feywild is home to many creatures of different natures – some friends, many foes. No threat typically comes alone and this one is no different as players face known enemies such as Fomorians, Redcaps, Grungs, Dryads, and more. Among some of the new creatures tricked into service by the greater foe are the Oni, Froghemoth, and Displacer Beast.

The Oni, sometimes called magical ogres due to the innate magical ability, covet magic. Knowing whom they often serve in exchange for magical items will help in uncovering the source of the new threat upon Sharandar. The Frogemoth, revered as gods by the amphibious looking Bullywug, will force adventurers to contend with their large tentacles, prehensile tongue, and three eyes. Also with extra appendages is the Displacer Beast, a 6 footed cat-like creature with two tentacles sprouting from its shoulders.

The dangers of Sharandar are not to be trifled with, but rewards often serve as an incentive to even the most hesitant of heroes.


Rewards Fey and Wild!

The new 3-part campaign brings with it new rewards, from rings to other shiny tokens such Shattered Diamonds. These diamond fragments can be combined to create new gear transmutes, artifact sets, and more. For those wishing for quicker gear to better face the threats of Sharandar, you will also be able to trade in Seals for new gear!

The greater the danger, the greater the reward. The new Vault of Stars dungeon will allow adventures the means to obtain the Forest Guardian set as well as the Sparkling Fey Emblem Artifact!

Whether you desire a transmute item such as the butterfly Crown of the Forest, the Fairy Court fashion set, or the Refulgent Diamond Pin artifact, Sharandar will reward you for your skills and heroics.


Starry, Starry Vault

An item called the Night Diamond is said to be the key to stopping the menace that threatens Sharandar. As with any uniquely powerful item, acquiring it will require well-seasoned adventurers. The new level 80 Dungeon, the Vault of Stars, invites you to enter the Gloaming Court and fight your way to the Vault. The unseelie will stop at nothing to prevent unwelcome visitors who seek to threaten the inner sanctum of their Queen.

Those guarding the way to the vault include the Royal Gardener, whose experiments have resulted in beautiful and horrifying creations. If you get past the Gardener, you will proceed through the Forest of Blooms and its concentration of corpse flowers to make your way to the Prince of Frost. A final disorienting challenge to traverse the Maze of Shadows will lead to the final boss: The Queen of Air and Darkness.


The newly reimagined Sharandar offers a visual feast with its breathtaking environment, especially to adventures seasoned in the hellish landscapes of Avernus. But, just like its infernal predecessor, this module will also bring challenges and adventures. Will you defend the Feywild once again?

Xbox Live


Perfect World Entertainment

Neverwinter is the premier Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG experience, featuring fast-paced combat and epic dungeons. Explore the vast city of Neverwinter and its surrounding regions, battle its many enemies, and be a part of Forgotten Realms history. Experience Dungeons & Dragons Like Never Before – Neverwinter is an action MMORPG that bridges intense combat with classic D&D gameplay. Journey through the city of Neverwinter and the legendary subcontinent of Faerûn, and face off against the greatest adversaries from D&D legend. Build Your Own Legend – Bring your adventures to life through iconic D&D classes and races, advanced paragon paths, companions, and a remarkable range of customization options. Whether you’re hunting dragons and beholders within crumbling dungeons or battling other players in the icy reaches of Icespire Peak, you’ll discover why Neverwinter is the definitive Dungeons & Dragons experience. Optimized for Xbox One – Neverwinter inspires classic Dungeons & Dragons adventures with a fully optimized player experience for Xbox One. The fast-paced action gameplay of Neverwinter has been mapped to the Xbox One controller, giving adventures the ability to move around the battlefield and cast powerful spells with ease. Xbox One players can also use their Xbox One friends list to find and party up with others as they explore iconic locations of the Dungeons & Dragons universe. This game supports English, French, German, Italian, and Russian. Additional System requirements: Minimum broadband internet connection of 512 Kbps is required to access all features.

Julia Fredrickson, Community Manager, Neverwinter