We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Travis Scott's Astroworld festival under fire after eight attendees die and hundreds are injured
Last weekend, a Houston concert turned deadly as the crowd at rapper Travis Scott's Astroworld festival grew turbulent, resulting in eight deaths and hundreds of injuries. Those who died ranged in age from 27 to just 14. City fire chief Samuel Peña said at a news conference that a crowd surge “caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries.”
More than 50,000 fans gathered for the two-day festival, which has a reputation for rowdiness. Travis Scott and entertainment company Live Nation are now facing scrutiny for their handling of the situation. Police chief Troy Finner said an investigation could take weeks to months. Meanwhile, Scott is facing more than 40 lawsuits.
“I’m absolutely devastated by what took place last night,” Scott said in a statement. “My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival. Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life.”
He offered to fund victims’ funerals and pay for one month of free therapy for attendees through online counseling service BetterHelp, a move that has been criticized as a publicity stunt, especially as BetterHelp is not without its own controversy. —MFS
Texas governor launches investigation into porn in public schools
On Wednesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott published an open letter to the Texas Education Agency Commissioner in which he directed the agency to “investigate any criminal activity in our public schools involving the availability of pornography.” Earlier this month, Abbott penned a similar letter to the Texas Association of School Boards, asking them to investigate the extent to which “pornography or other inappropriate content” exists in public schools across the state.
The governor’s call for state agencies to investigate explicit materials in Texas public schools comes on the heels of heated and publicized debates between school boards and parents concerning graphic sexual content found in school libraries. The governor himself has referred in the past to two particular books with very explicit sexual content, which were pulled from shelves after Texas parents rallied to protest what they called “child abuse.”
In one district, parents read excerpts from a graphic erotica novel that depicts, via vivid illustrations, sexual acts between two underage boys who use and reference various sex toys. In another district, parents protested the inclusion of a young adult novel depicting a deeply abusive romantic relationship rife with graphic sexual details and assorted sex toys.
As the governor points out in his call for criminal investigations, the law is clear: "In Texas, it is illegal to provide pornography to anyone under the age of 18.” What’s more, he asks agencies and law enforcement to prosecute “to the fullest extent of the law." —Mariel Lindsay
IVF nightmare causes two families to have to swap babies
A catastrophic error at the California Center for Reproductive Health has led to a lawsuit after DNA tests proved two mothers gave birth to children that genetically belonged to the other.
Alexander and Daphna Cardinale say they were confused right away when their daughter was born with a much different skin tone than their first child. Their suspicions tormented them until the baby was three months old, when a test revealed the little one didn’t share their DNA.
The Cardinales confronted their infertility doctor, the New York Times reports, and the mixup was revealed. Their baby’s DNA belonged to a second couple that lived nearby. That family, meanwhile, had also recently delivered a healthy infant: the Cardinale’s genetic child.
Each family had already bonded with the baby they brought home from the hospital, but eventually they chose to swap the children to the genetic parents. The experience has been devastating for everyone, especially for the Cardinales’ older daughter, Olivia, who begged her parents to keep the sibling she already loved.
“That’s still the biggest trauma for me. Tough to explain to a five-year-old that the child, that that sister that they imprinted on and love—it’s their sister—is not their sister,” said Alexander Cardinale. The families do continue to visit each other.
Although IVF clinics are meant to have strict protocols to prevent such disasters, the profit-driven nature of the industry means sometimes corners get cut. Embryo mix-ups, and the resulting family chaos, are sadly all too common. —Margaret Brady
Malala Yousafzai announces marriage to Asser Malik
Almost ten years after a Taliban gunman shot her in the head, Malala Yousafzai, the world’s youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, married Asser Malik at her home in Birmingham, England. Malik is the general manager of high performance for the Pakistan Cricket Board.
Yousafzai, 24, announced her marriage on social media. “Today marks a precious day in my life,” she wrote. “Asser and I tied the knot to be partners for life. We celebrated a small nikkah ceremony at home in Birmingham with our families. Please send us your prayers. We are excited to walk together for the journey ahead.”
About five months ago, Yousafzai told British Vogue she did not understand why people have to get married. “If you want to have a person in your life, why do you have to sign marriage papers, why can’t it just be a partnership?’“ She continued, “My mom is like… ‘Don’t you dare say anything like that! You have to get married, marriage is beautiful.’” —Melanie Wilcox
Missy Elliott receives star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
Missy Elliott, chart-topping hip-hop musician, received a star on the Walk of Fame in Los Angeles on Monday.
Her friends, Lizzo and Ciara, were guest speakers for the four-time Grammy winner rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer.
“I am so Humbly Grateful for Hollywood Walk Of Fame. I’ve had to climb over many obstacles & I have been through a lot… but through the grace of God I never gave up even when times have been tough I have FOUGHT!” wrote Elliot on Instagram.
“If I hadn’t I may not be receiving these accolades today… So that’s why I always try to ENCOURAGE each of you to keep PUSHING THROUGH when times get tough because your BLESSING may be right round the corner!”
At the ceremony, Mona Scott-Young, Missy’s manager, said, “Missy Elliott has broken through the barriers of the male-dominated hip hop world, and music industry as a whole, as she has led the way for many women who have followed in her footsteps. She continues to break barriers year after year and we’re thrilled to be able to honor her on the Walk of Fame.”
Missy started her career in 1991 with the R&B group Fayze. She worked with Timothy Mosley, who later became known as Timbaland. —MW
Good News of the Week
Alabama baby sets a new world record as the most premature baby to survive
Michelle Butler was just 21 weeks and 1 day pregnant on July 5, 2020, when she unexpectedly delivered her twins, a little boy named Curtis and a little girl named C’Asya. Sadly, C’Asya passed away the next day. But Curtis, who weighed less than 15 ounces, responded to treatment, surprising his doctors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, who usually recommend palliative care for such extremely premature babies.
This week, Michelle celebrated the one-year anniversary of her original due date: November 11. To mark the occasion, the Guinness Book of World Records officially named Curtis the youngest premature baby to ever survive. Before him, the record was owned by a baby born in June 2020, at 21 weeks and 2 days gestation. And prior to that child, the prematurity record had stood for more than thirty years.
Curtis was able to go home in April after many months spent getting healthier in the hospital. His older siblings were thrilled to welcome him. Today, he remains on supplemental oxygen and a feeding tube, but is much stronger and has an adorable, happy smile. — MB
Watch of the Week
Do you love Lucy? Check out the teaser trailer for Being the Ricardos, starring Nicole Kidman in the title role.