We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.
New Zealand approves paid miscarriage leave
New Zealand’s parliament has unanimously passed a measure that makes it one of the first countries in the world to provide paid leave after miscarriage. The new law will mandate three days of paid leave for women, and their partners, who lose a baby at any stage of pregnancy. Even prospective parents will be eligible if the mother of the baby they were hoping to adopt suffers a miscarriage. However, it doesn’t apply to women who obtain an abortion.
“I hope that this bill will go some way in allowing women to feel more comfortable about talking about miscarriage and that they feel comfortable reaching out for support and for help in what is a huge physical and emotional loss," said Ginny Andersen, the Labor Party representative who introduced the legislation.
Around the world, only one other country mandates paid leave for miscarriage at any time during pregnancy: India, which offers women six weeks off. However, most Indian women can’t take advantage because they are employed by informal work arrangements. The U.K. and Australia offer paid leave for losses after 24 weeks and 12 weeks gestation, respectively.
In the United States, paid leave is not required and many employers force miscarrying women to use their sick time—if any time off is offered, at all. Blue-collar employees are most at risk of getting no leave, but even salaried workers have reported callous treatment at a time of terrible physical pain and emotional anguish, all in the name of productivity.
The fact that the New Zealand vote was unanimous gives hope that the idea of paid leave after miscarriage could gain bipartisan ground worldwide. As Scott Simpson, a member of New Zealand’s opposition party said, “Occasionally and not often enough, in my view, we come together as parliamentarians in a unified, dignified, respectful way to do the right thing. This is an example of such an occasion.” —Margaret Brady
Ten die in mass shooting at Colorado supermarket
On Monday of this week, 21-year old Syrian-born man named Ahmad Al-Issa gunned down and killed 10 people at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado. First responder police officer Eric Talley was killed by the gunman, leaving behind a wife and seven children. Also among the many killed that day were a young, aspiring pilot working to save up money for school, and a mother of two who had left behind her fast-paced career in New York fashion to raise her family in the pleasant Southwest city.
Photographs from the scene show a SWAT team handcuff and drag away Al-Issa, who surrendered after being shot in the thigh and ripping off all his clothes. When questioned by investigators as to whether or not he was part of a larger conspiracy, he declined to answer, instead asking repeatedly to speak with his mother. New affidavits and court documents, however, lend further insight into the shooter’s background, with evidence showing that he had purchased a pistol just six days before opening fire at King Sooper’s supermarket.
In another twist, the New York Times reported that Ahmad was already under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his ties to another suspected criminal whose identity remains unknown. Yet, despite being on the FBI’s watch list, and despite Colorado’s universal background checks and red flag laws and Boulder City’s ban on “assault weapons,” the murderer was somehow able to pass a background check and purchase the weapon. —Mariel Lindsay
Western companies face backlash from Chinese for stopping import of Xinjiang cotton
More than 30 Chinese celebrities and athletes have boycotted Nike and other Western brands that have expressed concern about reports of forced labor and abuse in the Muslim region of China’s Xinjiang.
Nike is one of several companies that has halted the import of Xinjiang cotton, along with Gap, Zara, Adidas, Fila, New Balance, and H&M. Celebrities including Wang Yibo, Jackson Wang, Zhang Yixing, and Dilireba from the Xinjiant Aygur Autonomous Region have cut ties with Nike and Adidas to show support for Xinjian’s cotton products.
Nike stores have stayed open and their products are still available on Alibaba and other sites, unlike other international brands. One-quarter of Nike’s sales come from China.
H&M said it is “deeply concerned by reports from civil society organizations and media that include accusations of forced labor and discrimination of ethnoreligious minorities.”
As a result, users of Weibo, a Twitter-line platform popular in China, called for a boycott of the world’s second-largest clothing retailer for not using cotton from Xinjiang. “Spreading rumors to boycott Xinjiang cotton while trying to make money in China? Wishful thinking!” the Communist Youth League, a Chinese Communist Party affiliate, wrote in a post on Weibo. —Melanie Wilcox
HGTV star gets scammed in Detroit rehab deal
Nicole Curtis, star of HGTV’s Rehab Addict Rescue, is apparently out more than $17,000 after a real estate deal went south in Detroit. “It appears she was scammed,” Detroit mayor Mike Duggan said this week.
Reportedly, Curtis purchased a fixer-upper from another renovation firm. But it turns out that company had already turned the house over to the Detroit Land Bank Authority after failing to do any work on the property. They no longer owned it when they sold it to Curtis and pocketed her $17,000.
Since then, Curtis says she’s made $60,000 in improvements to the home and has been fighting with the Land Bank in court after the Bank listed the property for sale to the public for $40,000. “I feel bad for Nicole,” Duggan says.
Curtis’s shows have aired on HGTV since 2010 and her program focuses on promoting a real estate comeback in the beleaguered Motor City. The real intent behind organizations like the Land Bank is to protect and promote the development of dilapidated real estate in inner-city neighborhoods, not to squeeze money out of them. One hopes common sense will prevail and a deal can be worked out to recognize Curtis’s investment in the home.
This situation is also a good reminder for home buyers to make sure a thorough title search is done before purchasing a property. If it can happen to a pro like Curtis, it can happen to anyone. —MB
Prince Harry’s cousin Zara has her baby—in her bathroom!
Zara Tindall, who is Princess Anne’s daughter and Queen Elizabeth II’s granddaughter, has given birth to her third baby in a way that’s quite unusual for royals—at home, on the bathroom floor.
Zara went into labor on Sunday evening at home in Gloucestershire and it was quickly apparent she and her husband, rugby player Mike Tindall, wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time. Luckily their midwife was in the neighborhood and got there just “as the head arrived,” according to Mike.
The new little blessing is a boy named Lucas Philip who joins big sisters Mia Grace and Lena Elizabeth. He is currently 22nd in line to the throne, although he’ll slip down a spot after Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s baby is born later this year.
As for Zara, who is a silver medal-winning Olympian, “she was a warrior, as always,” says Mike. One advantage of giving birth at home: he got to sit down and watch a rugby game and some golf on TV with his new baby. —MB
Chrissy Teigen quits Twitter
Chrissy Teigen, who was touted by Twitter as its “unofficial mayor,” officially quit the social media platform on Wednesday. Teigen, who had 13.7 million Twitter followers, said the social media platform “no longer serves me as positively as it serves me negatively, and I think that’s the right time to call something.”
Teigen was the target of harassment from “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorists who claimed that she and her husband, John Legend, were part of a pedophile ring based in a Washington D.C. pizzeria.
“For years I have taken so many small, 2-follower count punches that at this point, I am honestly deeply bruised,” she tweeted Wednesday. Teigen said she deleted thousands of her tweets and blocked more than a million Twitter accounts last July, most of which were from QAnon supporters.
“I’ve always been portrayed as the strong clap back girl but I’m just not,” Teigen ended her statement. “My desire to be liked and fear of pissing people off has made me somebody you didn’t sign up for, and a different human than I started out here as! Live well, tweeters.” —MW
Good News of the Week
Secretary of Education says all schools should be back in person by the fall
As the world marks one-year milestones in the fight against coronavirus, there’s some light emerging: this week the Biden Administration’s Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, says he expects 100 percent of schools to be reopened for in-person instruction by the fall.
Of all the body blows COVID-19 dealt humanity, arguably the hardest fell on kids from preschool to college who were kept home to learn virtually. As spring unfolds, teachers have been getting vaccinated and schools have slowly been reopening. Surveys show that about 75 percent of schools nationwide are open for at least part-time learning.
“Our students have been waiting for over a year now to be around their school community," he said. "We know schools are safe communities for our students and places where students grow not only academically,” Cardona told Today. Cardona also said he’s focused on opening as many schools as possible this spring, before the end of the school year. —MB
Watch of the Week
As schools in England prepare to reopen on Monday as part of Boris Johnson's plan to lead the country out of lockdown, four teachers from The King's School in Rochester UK performed a pandemic version of the 1995 hit “Back For Good.”