John Boyega Is Standing By His Tweet Calling Out Racism After George Floyd’s Death

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis man who died after being pinned down by cops, Star Wars actor John Boyega tweeted that he “really f*cking” hates racists — and he’s sticking by the sentiment despite the cries of some of his Twitter followers. While the tweet itself laments the deadly perils of police brutality faced by the black community, Boyega has since received an onslaught of replies from fans, some highlighting the reverse racism myth, and others criticizing his word choices as a Disney star. Still, the actor isn’t backing down.

On social media, celebrities and public figures have condemned the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death. (Four officers involved have since been fired, and people everywhere are calling for charges to be filed against them.) When Boyega chimed in on the matter, however, he faced accusations that he was being discriminatory towards white people. Boyega replied to a handful of the responses that seemed to miss the point of his original tweet. When a user said he broke up with his ex because “she hates whites,” for example, Boyega clarified, “I am talking about WHITE on BLACK racism. The kind that has ruined the world not caused a lil break up with your girlfriend.” He cemented his stance in another tweet that read, “I said what I said. Speak for yourself at all times.” When another user urged him to recognize racism from “all angles,” Boyega responded, “I am not talking about other perspectives given the current situation is that okay?”

The entire ordeal then spilled over to Instagram, where Boyega reportedly went on Instagram Live to further cement his statement. In video reposted to Twitter by fans, Boyega cited the “continuous cycle” of police brutality in America, and doubled down on his original statement: “I’m black. So I say it again, f*ck you racist white people. I said what I said.” The actor also dismissed claims that his comments would negatively impact his career and said, “All those things were just a part of my dreams, part of working… that’s got nothing to do with how you treat people.” He added, “So when I say it, I mean it.”

This isn’t the first time Boyega has been vocal about racism. Following the racist boycott to Boyega’s casting as a black stormtrooper for Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2014, he responded on Instagram with a simple, “Get used to it.” Boyega then revealed in an interview with the Guardian in 2018 that he was initially told to react with “grace” and stay silent on the matter. “I was like, be graceful? Are you mad? If anyone comes talking nonsense, I’m going to shut them down,” Boyega said at the time. “You have to fight fire with fire sometimes.”

Many fans are praising Boyega for putting career concerns aside to speak out on behalf of Floyd. And, unfortunately, as these instances of racism and police brutality continue, this probably won’t be the last time we hear from Boyega on the issue.

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Fans Are Confused by Khloé Kardashian's Face in Her New Instagram Pics

Khloé Kardashian posted new Instagram photos that left some of her fans so confused. The reality star looked almost unrecognizable in the images and people weighed in with their thoughts — some couldn’t decide if her face looked like it had been heavily Photoshopped or if she had plastic surgery.

Kardashian posted stunning new pics

On May 22, Kardashian posted a series of photos of herself looking sunkissed and bronde, with the caption “location: under bitches skiiiinnnnn.”

So many of her fans are loving the new look, with comments about how gorgeous the reality star is and how they are won over by her bronde hair color. Kardashian explained in the comments, “a little switch up is needed” about the new look.

When pal Malika Haqq commented “GO OFF,” Kardashian responded, “Seeing how incredible you look two months after baby I really have to step my sh*t up.”

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location: under bitches skiiiinnnnn 💋

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Fans weighed in on Twitter

Over on Twitter, things blew up as fans and critics tried towrap their heads around why Kardashian looked so different than she usuallydoes.

“This isn’t khloe kardashian?! Am I crazy,” one fan asked. Another pondered, “Ummm. This looks like an avatar of Khloe. I’m so confused.”

Some fans were in denial, with one tweeting: “No, no, no! There is no way that’s Khloe. That’s beyond photoshopping. She’s an entirely different person!”

Another fan agreed, stating, “I’m telling you, the Kardashians switch faces like clothes. I refuse to believe this is Khloe Kardashian.”

There was concern as well. “Khloe Kardashian morphs more and more in every post. She must have to reset her facial recognition on her iPhone every other day,” one Twitter user noted.

Of course, there were those who wondered if Kardashian had plastic surgery, as one Twitter user noted, “Khloe Kardashian’s surgeon about to get hella new clients.”

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🤍Cheeessseeeeeeee 🤍

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Reddit users discussed it, of course

Meanwhile, on Reddit, fans tried to figure out what they were looking at and they really put Kardashian’s lastest post under the microscope. “Can’t tell if it’s photoshop or surgery? I mean, she looks great but WOW… it’s different,” one Redditor noted.

“This ain’t it. I’m hoping it’s extreme photoshop and not more surgery… this is very very uncomfortable,” another wrote.

Others agreed it was “unsettling,” as one Redditor shared, “There is no doubt, this is a beautiful photo with great hair. The thing that is unsettling is the amount of surgery that has happened here and how this in no way looks like the Khloe 5 years ago.”

In addition to comparing her look to Malika, Chrissy Teigen, and Denise Richards, there was a deep dive into how much Photoshop was at play.

“Half of her necklace chain is gone,” one Reddit user pointed out. “That whole area is off. I can see a hint of the chain that was there and the area right where her neck and hair meet has an unexplainable brown chunk of color — I can’t tell if it’s a shadow or her hair,” another noted.

“I think what’s so disconcerting with them is each eye is looking in a slightly different direction. As well as one higher than the other. Also, half her necklace chain is missing. Think it’s 2 photos merged into one,” one eagle-eyed fan shared.

Still another Redditor explained, “Whoever photoshopped this went a little crazy. I zoomed in and it looks like her left front tooth is coming out of her lip.”

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Boy, 13, saves his mum £200 by fitting her new laminate flooring himself after she moaned about the state of her carpet

A SINGLE MUM has saved £200 on laminating her bedroom floor after her 13-year-old son insisted he knew exactly how to do it – an ddid it himself during lockdown.

Stay-at-home mum Samantha Corbin, 33, had complained about the state of her bedroom after she was forced to tear up the carpet when family cat, Sparkles, was sick on it last month – knowing it would be near-impossible to find a tradesman to do the job in lockdown.

But the mum-of-two, from Pennar, Pembrokeshire, decided to take a chance when son Toby,then 12, insisted he could re-floor it for her – all he needed was the tools.

After ordering £130 worth of laminate flooring, a jigsaw and saw, the savvy youngster transformed his mum’s room in just two days after previously watching tradesmen complete the job downstairs in the family’s three-bed terrace.

Samantha then added the finishing touches with a lick of spare paint and a £64 roll of wallpaper – bringing the total transformation cost to just under £200- and saving another £200 on labour.

Toby, who's in year eight, dreams of being an engineer when he grows up, and even captured the hearts of Screwfix staff after he then ordered himself a much larger and more dangerous circular saw online.


Samantha was forced to quickly request a refund, with the trade retailer replying "we admire his enthusiasm, but this is certainly not for a child!’.

Speaking of the carpet's condition, Samantha said: “When the cat was sick on the carpet it was the end of the life of the carpet – my daughter had already spilt suncream on it and there was no bringing it back.

“It was a horrible carpet anyway so I pulled it up and I was living with just the bare floor.

Samantha said that she was complaining as she was ripping it up saying that it looks terrible and moaning that she wouldn’t be able to get a tradesman in because of the lockdown.

“That’s when Toby said he said he could do it," she said.

“He said ‘it’s easy’ – we had had the downstairs floor done and he said ‘I’ve seen it being done, it’s not that hard, all I need is a saw and a jigsaw’.

“So I chose the flooring and he did the rest.

The proud mum said she couldn’t believe it when she first saw the new look and thought it looked likeprofessional job.

She said: “Some people have said how could you trust your 12-year-old to do that but if he was going to do a really bad job, I would have known straight away.


“I could see within 30 minutes that he was doing such a good job – he had done two rows and they were all perfectly straight.

“I’m just really proud of him. He was only 12 when he did it, it’s not the normal thing you think of a 12-year-old boy doing – most of them wouldn’t even care.

“He is the man of my house, " she continued, "he does mend and fix everything that he can for me.”

The incredible flooring job inspired Toby to also use his new tools to build a duck house for the duck eggs he, his mum and sister Annabelle, three, have been incubating since lockdown began.


But the trade savvy youngster got slightly ahead of himself on his 13th birthday this month, when he used his birthday money to order a £120 circular saw from Screwfix – leaving Samantha red-faced and requesting a quick refund.

She said: ‘He had his birthday four weeks after doing the floor and I gave him my details to get himself something from Screwfix – he was adamant that he wanted to order tools.

“But when I sent his dad the screenshot confirmation of the email so he knew what he’d got with his birthday money, straightaway I got a call back from his dad saying ‘he can’t get a circular saw’.

“I hadn’t realised how dangerous they were, so I had to email Screwfix to get a refund and explained the situation.

“They replied saying that they admired his enthusiasm but the tool was not appropriate for a child!”

After splitting with Toby’s dad when he was just a toddler, Samantha describes her 13-year-old as ‘the man of the house’.

But bringing up Toby and his little sister on her own meant that Samantha had no time to decorate her own room in the last two years since moving in.

She said: “I moved into the house two years ago and I literally just put a bed in my room.

“I focused on making sure Annabelle and Toby’s rooms were done first.

“This was the first opportunity that I had to do something about it – and everyone says it looks professional.”

In other news, amum shares her genius hack to get her toddler to fold his own clothes and all you need is a cardboard box.

And this mum revealed her clever hack she uses to ensure kids don’t lose parts of board games during lockdown.

Plus, a mum shares a quick and easy hack for folding babygrows & parents can’t believe they never thought of it.

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Kim Kardashian West Slammed by Fans for Describing a Solid Black Face Mask on an African American Model as 'Nude'

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, Kim Kardashian West has expanded her SKIMS line to include face masks that can help people stay protected. She announced on May 16 that the masks would come in five nude colors along with a campaign showing the items on models of various skin tones. But fans have a major issue with an African American model being placed in a solid black mask described as “nude.”

More on Kim Kardashian West’s latest SKIMS release

Kardashian West took to both Twitter and Instagram to announce the launch of the masks. The SKIMS website says they are non-medical grade masks, presumably made from the same material as SKIMS’ signature shapewear. The items “will not eliminate the risk of contracting disease or infection.” However, they can “reduce exposure to dust, allergens, germs, and bodily fluids.”

While promoting the garments, Kardashian West shared photos on Twitter of several models wearing them. A lot of the masks are almost the same shade as many skin colors. But one is literally black — and an African American model was used to highlight it.

Fans reactions to the SKIMS masks

As you can imagine, people are seriously enraged by this. Hitting the comment section, critics sounded off and expressed their frustrations with that particular mask.

“The nude shade for the Black model is inaccurate, offensive, and culturally out of touch,” read one tweet.

“The color black isn’t nude for black people but go off,” read another.

A third fan wrote the reality star saying, “You do realize black people aren’t the color black like white people aren’t paper white? The other skin tones are fine but why couldn’t you make a dark brown color?”

But the thing is, there actually is a dark brown color listed on the website.

“They know what they’re doing with the marketing because there’s a nude closer to the black model’s color on the website. But they used solid black just to get people riled up. Crazy,” read a fourth tweet.

People then called on Kardashian to do better as the wife of a black man and mother of black children.

“kimberly don’t you have a darkskin husband and black kids as you call them? isn’t every single black man involved with your family a darkskin? why did no one double check this before you posted it? ditch your yes men they’ve already let you slip up once,” read another tweet.

RELATED: Kim Kardashian West Is on Her Way to Becoming a Billionaire Just Like Kylie Jenner, All Thanks to SKIMS

But some defended the KKW Beauty star, with one person suggesting the model was merely placed in the mask because it matched her bodysuit. This could be true but as many social media users pointed out, the problem is that the mask was still described as “nude” when it obviously doesn’t fit the model’s skin tone.

Unfortunately for critics, though, the photo remains on social media and Kardashian West has not offered up any kind of response to the backlash.

This is just one of SKIMS’ many controversies

The brand faced backlash before it even took off due to its original name. Kardashian West initially chose the name Kimono, prompting widespread scrutiny and claims of cultural appropriation. She went on to defend herself against the backlash in a June 2019 interview with The New York Times but decided to rename the brand after nonstop criticism.

“When I announced the name of my shapewear line, I did so with the best intentions in mind,” she wrote on Instagram back in July 2019. “My brands and products are built with inclusivity and diversity at their core and after careful consideration, I will be launching my Solutionwear brand under a new name. I will be in touch soon. Thank you for your understanding and support always.”

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Being an entrepreneur and my own boss has been one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve been blessed with in my life. What’s made it possible for me after all of these years has been the direct line of communication with my fans and the public. I am always listening, learning and growing – I so appreciate the passion and varied perspectives that people bring to me. When I announced the name of my shapewear line, I did so with the best intentions in mind. My brands and products are built with inclusivity and diversity at their core and after careful thought and consideration, I will be launching my Solutionwear brand under a new name. I will be in touch soon. Thank you for your understanding and support always.

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

She announced its new name, SKIMS, at the end of August 2019.

Read more: Kim Kardashian West Explains Her Two Major Mistakes When Launching Skims Shapewear

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Child hit by Covid-19-linked disease was so sick her heart could barely squeeze

A 12 year-old girl suffered a massive heart attack after coming down with a mysterious condition linked to coronavirus. Juliet Daly spent four days on a ventilator, with a doctor who treated her saying the youngster’s heart was ‘barely squeezing.’

Juliet, from Louisiana, initially appeared to be suffering from a bad flu, until her limbs went cold and her lips turned blue. Her father Sean dialed 911 after she collapsed, with the youngster then airlifted to Ochsner Children’s Hospital in Lousiana, where she was put on a ventilator.

Dr Jake Kleinmahon, a pediatric cardiologist who treated Juliet, said ‘she was about as close to death as you can get.’ She tested positive for coronavirus soon afterwards.

Juliet is one of a number of children who have come down with a new inflammatory condition in recent weeks, which has provisionally been named multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MISC) or pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome (PMIS). The condition, which has hit 110 children across New York state and killed at least three youngsters, sees the body’s immune system overreact and inflame blood vessels.

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That can stop young sufferers’ blood from getting to their hearts. The condition is similar to another rare disease seen in children called Kawasaki syndrome, although MICS causes even more severe issues with children’s hearts. MICS seems to be most prevalent in children under five years-old, and while usually treatable, can be fatal. It has caused grave concern worldwide after scientists initially said that coronavirus did not appear to cause serious harm to young sufferers who caught the new virus.

Thankfully, Juliet recovered from her brush from MICS, and is now on the mend. She told CNN: ‘I really didn’t understand how serious it was but I was scared.’

Researchers across the world are working to try and establish whether MICS is the same condition as Kawasaki syndrome, and to discover if it is specifically triggered by a child being diagnosed with coronavirus. All sufferers in New York state either tested positive for Covid-19, or had antibodies present in their bodies suggesting they’d already overcome the virus.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected] more stories like this, check our news page.

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A&E attendance falls by 57% to lowest figure on record amid coronavirus crisis – The Sun

A&E attendances at hospitals in England have plummeted to their lowest figure on record – as Brits are gripped by coronavirus fear.
New NHS figures show 916,581 people went to emergency departments in April, down 57 per cent on the same month last year.

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It comes amid fears that Brits, terrified of catching Covid-19, are avoiding seeking treatment for potentially life-threatening conditions.

Experts have warned lives are at risk, as people suffering signs of heart attack and stroke, as well as symptoms of cancer, are staying at home – and failing to get medical help early enough.

The figures show that 1.2 million fewer Brits turned up at A&E last month, compared with April 2018 – when 2.1 million emergency attendances were recorded.

The number is the lowest for any calendar month since current records began in August 2010.

NHS England, which published the results, said the sharp fall was "likely to be a result of the Covid-19 response" – an indication that people are staying away from A&E due to the outbreak.

Data also shows that the number of patients waiting to start treatment at the end of March was 4.2 million, down on the 4.4 million the previous month.

Months for NHS restart

The stark stats come amid warnings today that it will take months for the NHS to restart services.

Experts from the Health Foundation, the King's Fund and the Nuffield Trust will tell MPs at today's Health and Social Care Select Committee of the significant challenges facing the health service as it tries to create a "new normal".

A separate report from NHS Providers, which represents all NHS trusts, warns there are challenges to ramping up care for people with non-Covid conditions while still caring for those with coroanvirus.

In a joint submission to the Select Committe, the think tanks said the Government must not ignore the impact the crisis has had on already exhausted NHS staff.

They warned that an new campaign will have to reassure the public it is time to start using the NHS again, while guarding the health service against a second peak as the annual winter pressures hit.

The organisations said more PPE will be needed as non-Covid services resume, more space must be allocated so patients and staff can socially distance, and there is a need for more widespread testing.

These factors, together with the extra time needed for cleaning equipment and facilities, will "severely limit capacity for many months until the infection has been brought under control in the community," they said.

The groups warned that the pandemic has exposed "pre-existing weaknesses", most obviously a long-term under-investment in health and care services and a "precarious" social care system.

"These issues will still need to be tackled alongside the backlog of demand," they said.

'No easy route back'


Nigel Edwards, chief executive of Nuffield Trust, said: "With the virus still at large there is no easy route back to the way things were before in the NHS, and unfortunately that means people waiting much longer and some services being put on hold.

"Hospitals and a whole range of services provided in the community will have to be remodelled to control infection and keep people safe, by separating out coronavirus patients and testing constantly and quickly at every level.

"We must be honest that this will slow things down."

Jennifer Dixon, chief executive of the Health Foundation, said: "Getting services back up and running, taking account of likely future pressures from Covid-19, winter, and the backlog of ill health from delayed care will be a steep climb.

"But Covid-19 has also demonstrated how the health and care system can move fast, implement new technology and ways of working, and the deep commitment of NHS and care staff."

Richard Murray, chief executive of the King's Fund, said: "The health and care system is a complex web of inter-related services: when one part fails, patients and service users can easily fall between the gaps.

"All aspects of the health and care system will need to be back up and running if services are to return to any semblance of normality.

"In the case of social care, normality should not be the aim: the sector needs increased funding and fundamental reform."

Huge risk

The report from NHS Providers echoes some of these calls, saying there is a huge task in restarting the full range of NHS services while managing the threat from coronavirus.

It says trusts will still need to care for Covid-19 patients and keep enough capacity in the system in case there is a second wave of infection.

It warns of backlogs, increased new demand for mental health services due to the effects of Covid-19, and the need to care for NHS staff who have experienced highly pressured "once in a career" circumstances.

New challenges include a lack of PPE and testing, shortages of key drugs and equipment, including anaesthetic drugs and kidney dialysis machines, and the need for staff to take leave they have deferred due to caring for coronavirus patients.

"Given the scale of these challenges and constraints, it is already clear that NHS trusts will be unable to deliver all that is expected," the report warned.

"We must, therefore, have an open and honest debate about priorities."

Covid peak 'first laps of a marathon'

The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, who is also giving evidence to the Health and Social Care Select Committee, said: "The NHS has performed extremely well through the first peak of the virus, but that's just the first few laps of what we know will be a marathon.

"Only now is the scale of the challenge for the rest of the race coming into view.

"Trusts will do all they can to restart services as quickly as possible.

"They'll seek to solve every problem they encounter as they've consistently done so far.

"They will build on the innovations they've developed over the last two months, like the 6,000 patient consultations a day now being delivered online, compared to 200 before the crisis.

"But one key lesson from the pandemic so far is not to over-promise.

"We must recognise that the NHS cannot deliver all that is now being asked of it. Expectations are already way ahead of reality."

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Fans Are Puzzled by Kylie Jenner's Latest Real Estate Purchase

Kylie Jenner may be known as a beauty influencer, but she’s also becoming quite the real estate mogul. The Kylie Cosmetics founder has been racking up properties around California since she was 17, from a sprawling mansion in Beverly Hills to multiple properties near Calabasas. One of her latest purchases, however, is more unusual than the others and causing a stir amongst her fans.

Kylie Jenner’s latest real estate purchase

Jenner recently bought a vacant lot in Hidden Hills, California for $15 million. Variety reports that she scooped up the property just days after purchasing a $36 million mansion in Los Angeles’ Holmby Hills neighborhood.

The outlet reported “the sale included approved plans for an 18,000 sq. ft. monster mansion with a 12-car garage, guesthouse, barn, guardshack for a full-time security detail, sports court, and a pool.” But as Variety notes, it is unclear whether she intends to build the mansion or use the plot for something else.

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trolls&chill ? 🤍

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Fans are confused by the purchase

Considering Jenner already has multiple homes, fans are wondering what exactly she intends to do with the property. As of writing, she has yet to address the purchase. But fans have offered up plenty of guesses in regards to her plans. One person told Realtor that she might build “some sleek, futuristic-looking house or a replica of a Tuscan villa” while another speculated that she might use it to house family and friends.

“Purchasing land like this allows Kylie to start with a clean vision and make it what she wants,” said a third person. “But she could potentially plug in to the plans the seller already has in place because all the legwork of this huge process is done,” they added.

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happy monday 👅

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Kylie Jenner’s plans for the property revealed

A few days after purchasing the property, a source told People that Jenner intends to build a house on the lot.

“She’s having architect Richard Landry design the new house,” said the source. “This has been discussed for the last couple of months.”

“They were incredibly diligent about making sure the lot was compacted correctly for the house they want to build,” the source continued. “It’s good for the neighborhood that she’s doing that and that there will be a significant architect.”

But it won’t be an overnight process. Real estate agent Cara Ameer told Realtor: “Developing a huge property like this with multiple elements takes time, even a couple of years, as Kylie is essentially building a resort that could rival many five-star properties.”

According to Variety, the property used to be owned by Miley Cyrus. The “Wrecking Ball singer” reportedly had a ranch on the property and kept horses there from 2015 to 2018.

In 2018, she sold it for $5 million to an unknown person who later tore down the ranch. The person reportedly intended to build a house there, but those plans never materialized.

Read more: Kylie Jenner’s BFF Stassie Gives Tour of Jenner’s New $36 Million Home and Massive Car Collection

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Irish pub delivers beer by drone during coronavirus lockdown

A rural pub owner in Rathdrinagh, Ireland, has come up with an ingenious way to keep her bar “open” during the lockdown.

Avril McKeever who owns the 152-year-old institution McKeever’s Bar & Lounge, has been serving her loyal customers bottles of beer and the occasional bag of potato chips via drone.

Operated by her niece’s husband, Paul Clarke, the drone delivers “bottles of Heineken usually, or sometimes a few cans of Bulmers,” McKeever told The Guardian.

“We had a bottle of wine and a bag of Tayto crisps ready to go last night but it didn’t take off because of the wind.”

Pubs, the cornerstone of Irish social life, have been closed since March — and aren’t slated to reopen until August 10 under government guidelines, leaving 50,000 workers unemployed.

Other pubs in Dublin have resorted to home deliveries and pulling pints from kegs in vans to keep customers.

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Man Who Got $69 Million By Tweeting At Trump Apparently Tried To Sell Masks To California

A car passes nurses protesting the lack of N95 respirators and other Personal Protective Equipment outside the UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.

A Silicon Valley engineer who tweeted an offer to sell ventilators to President Trump and then received $69 million from New York for a contract he never fulfilled also apparently attempted to sell large quantities of N95 masks to California.

The man, Yaron Oren-Pines, proposed selling the state at least 18 million of the masks in late March as concerns about a shortage of personal protective equipment to fight the coronavirus pandemic mounted, BuzzFeed News has learned.

In that instance, Oren-Pines turned to a different social media platform: Nextdoor, a hyperlocal site that’s typically used to alert neighbors of prowlers, sell used furniture, or advertise babysitting gigs.

“3M 1860 N-95 Masks – Very large quantities for Government – please help,” an account in the name of Yaron Oren-Pines posted to the Nextdoor site in the San Jose area on March 21. “Those are the masks that everyone (in the world) is searching for.”

A spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health said the agency has not made any purchases from Oren-Pines or his companies. Agency officials did not provide detail on whether they had any contact with him.

Oren-Pines did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the masks. In a brief phone conversation last week about ventilators, Oren-Pines said “neither me nor my company is providing any comment on this” before hanging up. Since then, Oren-Pines’s Twitter account, which had only 75 followers as recently as last Wednesday, has been deleted.

Fellow Nextdoor users immediately dismissed his mask offer as less than credible. “Scam,” wrote one user. “No regular business around here is going to have ‘millions” of masks.”

Something very different happened six days later when Oren-Pines made a similar offer on Twitter, this time for ventilators.

We may all be at home, but that hasn’t stopped our reporters from breaking exclusive stories like this one. To help keep this news free, become a member and sign up for our newsletter, Outbreak Today.

Replying to a March 27 tweet by President Trump calling for ventilators, the engineer wrote “We can supply ICU Ventilators, invasive and noninvasive. Have someone call me URGENT.”

On March 30, New York’s Department of Health paid him $69.1 million for 1,450 ventilators that, in the end, he never delivered. That came out to more than $47,000 for each ventilator, or three times the market price for many such units. According to a New York State official, Oren-Pines was referred to Albany directly by the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

A report by the New York Times on Tuesday found that Oren-Pines had been referred by members of a team overseen by Jared Kushner to the Department of Health and Human Services, which in turn forwarded the referral to Gov. Cuomo’s office. Because the recommendation came from the Administration, New York officials, according to that report, assumed Oren-Pines had been properly vetted and cut the check almost immediately.

New York has been able to recover $59.1 million of the payment, according to Richard Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Gov. Cuomo. The state is still hoping to get a smaller number of ventilators or a refund of the remaining $10 million, he added.

Oren-Pines, an electrical engineer with numerous patents in mobile networking technology, has no apparent experience in ventilators, respirator masks, or other medical devices. He is a founder of several companies related to the cellular phone industry, but none have any public record of government contracting.

N95 masks, which are designed to filter out 95% of particles smaller than 0.3 microns in diameter, are a critical piece of personal protective equipment for combating coronavirus. A combination of soaring global demand and massive supply-chain disruption has sharply driven up prices of the masks. California’s Department of Transportation, for example, paid $12.74 apiece for 3M masks last month.

That’s a more than ten times markup over the $1.27 that 3M asks its distributors to charge for its 1860 mask, which is rated for surgical use. In recent weeks, 3M has filed at least eight federal lawsuits against companies that attempted to sell its masks at inflated prices, often to government agencies. The companies, 3M has alleged, were not authorized distributors and violated its trademarks, as well as state-level anti price gouging laws.

“Unfortunately, any number of wrongdoers seek to exploit the current public health emergency and prey on innocent parties through a variety of scams,” 3M wrote in several of the complaints it filed. “These scams include unlawful price gouging, fake offers, counterfeiting, and other unfair and deceptive practices – all of which undercut the integrity of the marketplace and constitute an ongoing threat to public health and safety.”

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None of the lawsuits, to date, have been directed at Oren-Pines. However, his post on Nextdoor did attract some skepticism.

“How does this guy have so many masks, and he doesn’t know what to do with them,” San Jose resident Linda York recalled thinking when she saw the post. “Like, why would he post on Next Door?”

A 3M 1860 N95 mask

After spotting it, she reported the post to the “Neighborhood Lead,” who is responsible for moderating content in the Graystone Nextdoor site. Oren-Pines lives in a nearby San Jose neighborhood and posted in a number of the surrounding areas. In her message, she voiced concerns that Oren-Pines was “trolling everyone, and is fraudulent in bringing hope to the hospital community.”

Screenshots from the group obtained by BuzzFeed News and dated March 21 show that several in the group were concerned about the legitimacy of the mask supply.

“Who is Yaron Oren-Pines from Almaden Meadows who has 18 million N95 masks???” wrote one commenter. “People’s lives are on the line. I’m shocked.”

The post was removed from the site, but it is unclear if Oren-Pines removed it himself. Nextdoor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

When Oren-Pines made headlines for his $69 million contract last week, York said she saw the story but didn’t realize it was about the same man who had posted in their neighborhood group just a couple of weeks ago. She and others in the group were shocked that New York State had already paid him $69 million for ventilators.

“Our Nextdoor group was more savvy than the White House,” said York. “We all figured he was a scam artist. We vetted him instantaneously.”

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  • Ken Bensinger is an investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He is the author of “Red Card,” on the FIFA scandal.His DMs are open.

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  • Rosalind Adams is an investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

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Air fares could rise by 50% as a result of the coronavirus pandemic

THE cost of a plane ticket could rise by at least 50 per cent as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the International Air Transport Association (Iata), air fares will drop initially when flights are allowed to resume as airlines battle to get customers in.

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But if they are forced to keep the middle seat empty on planes in order to comply with social distancing, then the price of a ticket will rocket eventually.

IATA has estimated that fares would go up by 49 per cent in Europe if planes have to remove a third of their seats, and it would increase by up to 54 per cent in Asia.

Their CEO  Alexandre de Juniac said: "The era of cheap, affordable travel will come to an end."

The body, which represents global airlines, came out in favour of passengers wearing masks onboard yesterday, as debate intensifies over how to get airlines flying while respecting social-distancing rules following the coronavirus crisis.

European flights have all but come to a standstill during the coronavirus pandemic. 
While there is no visibility on when travel restrictions will ease, airlines are considering how to safely restart services and give passengers confidence to fly.

Months without revenues is threatening to force some airlines out of business.

Britain's Virgin Atlantic said earlier on Tuesday that it would cut 3,150 jobs as it battles to survive, adding to the up to 12,000 jobs British Airways said last week it could shed and putting pressure on regulators to agree rules to help a quick restart when the health conditions allow.

IATA said it was working with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations aviation agency, governments and the World Health Organisation on new rules which would apply internationally.

ICAO could make an announcement on mandatory face masks on flights and other measures in June, IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac said at an online news conference.

In April, de Juniac had said leaving the middle seat empty was among the likely conditions for a resumption of air travel to be discussed with governments around the world.

But Brian Pearce, chief economist at IATA, told a news conference on Tuesday that most airlines would have been unable to make money last year if a third of the seats had been removed on the industry's most-flown models.

The switch away from leaving the middle seat empty was based on scientific evidence, IATA's medical advisor David Powell said.

He said: "Nobody has demonstrated that having the middle seat empty reduces the chance of transmitting covid-19 from one person to another.".

IATA would instead be recommending wearing masks and face coverings onboard, as well as screening passengers for a fever before flying, enhanced cleaning procedures and limited movement in the cabin.

Airlines such as Germany's Lufthansa and Hungary's low cost Wizz Air have already made it compulsory for passengers to wear face masks on flights.

Medical advisor Powell also said the recycled air that is circulated on passenger jets was not a cause for concern because in modern jets it was treated by the same sort of filter used in operating theatres.

 

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