Major US Cities Making Adjustments To Their Fourth Of July Firework Displays

The Fourth of July is often celebrated with backyard barbecues, American flags, and of course, fireworks. However, this year the coronavirus pandemic has created a major obstacle for many fourth of July celebrations. Many major American cities that are known for their massive annual displays have already made announcements for what they plan to do this year to ensure spectators remain healthy and safe while still enjoying sparks light up the night sky.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall cancelled the city’s firework shows that typically take place in Jordan and Liberty Park and instead is asking residents to decorate their homes in red, white, and blue. Residents will be able to light their own fireworks from July 2nd to July 5th between the hours of 11 a.m. and 11 p.m., according to the Salt Lake City fire department.

Chicago cancelled its annual fireworks show at the Navy Pier but the city is still planning on maintaining some level of safe celebration. The city itself is hosting an at-home salsa dance class, a virtual house music festival, and a virtual Independence Day Salute concert accompanied by a professional orchestra for multiple ways of celebrating.

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“While we all reflect on America’s promise of freedom and justice and its painful legacy of racial injustice, I invite Chicagoans to commemorate this year’s holiday with family and close friends, connected with our city and people across our country through the healing power of music,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

In Washington D.C., the nation’s capital is still planning to have some celebrations this year, although the National Independence Day Parade has been cancelled. “A Capitol Fourth” will be hosting a pre-recorded 90 minute program on PBS at 8 p.m. on the fourth as opposed to their normal annual live show in the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn.

The White House also released a statement in which they said their national “Salute to America” will take place on the South Lawn and feature music, military demonstrations, and flyovers to honor the nation’s service members and first responders who have been battling this pandemic on the front lines.

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Las Vegas is continuing on with plans of multiple firework displays, including one at the famous Red Rock Resort. The event will also be live streamed on the resorts website and social media pages so that anyone can enjoy the show from the comfort of quarantine. The Red Rock Resort parking lot will also be open for spectators who want to see the display in person with social distancing measures enforced.

Los Angeles in general has been setting off fireworks mysteriously every night amid the massive protests for social justice; the same occurrences have been happening in New York City and other major metropolitans as well. The city itself, however, is still planning to continue on with their annual Independence Day shows, but will likely be reduced to only last for 15 minutes maximum.

Finally, New York City recently got word from Macy’s that the retail giant would be setting off 5-minute firework displays in all five boroughs of the city over multiple nights, starting on June 29th.

“Each display will launch from one or two unannounced land or water-based locations across New York City. The final display sites were chosen because they could safely accommodate the launch and firing of large-scale pyrotechnics,” according to city officials.

Regardless of how you plan to celebrate this year, it’s of the utmost importance that we all collectively continue to listen to the world’s healthcare workers and abide by social distancing measures. If you’re planning on attending a firework show in person that is projected to attract a large crowd, wear a face covering, stand at least six feet apart from everyone, and make sure to sanitize/clean yourself properly after you return home.

Coronavirus Virus

19 States Report Spikes In New Covid-19 Cases

Health experts and government officials have been fearful of a second wave of Covid-19 cases since the virus first entered America. Now, with 19 states reporting a spike in new cases, their fears are becoming a reality.

24 states are reporting a downward trend in new cases, and the remaining seven states have held steady with their case numbers. According to the constant live updates from Johns Hopkins University, more than 1.9 million Americans have been infected with the virus and more than 112,000 have died. 

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Arizona is one of the 19 states that’s enduring a second spike in new cases. At their initial peak Arizona’s intensive care unit beds were 78% in use, according to reports, and now about 76% are in use. In response Arizona’s Department of Health Services is calling for hospitals to “be judicious” with what elective surgeries they perform to keep as many beds open as possible. 

Bed capacity and medical resources in general have been top priority in America, as many healthcare facilities have been struggling to stay completely stocked up on all things needed for Covid-19. Health experts have already confirmed that a second-wave is going to happen based on the trends we’re seeing in these 19 states now, and the casual reopening of multiple states and metropolitans across the country. 

With no vaccine or solid drug treatment available, health experts have criticized the federal government for its lack of action in combating this virus from the moment it appeared in America. These new cases are likely a result of the multiple Memorial Day weekend outings that many citizens attended despite experts and government warnings against doing so. Public health experts are also urging everyone who’s been attending a protest within the past few weeks/in the future to stay diligent about wearing a mask and protecting yourself, and to also monitor yourself for symptoms two weeks after attending. 

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“Though disease experts at the FDA expect there will be multiple coronavirus vaccines in the future, the amount of people who will not take advantage of it puts herd immunity at risk. Remember that it is 30% or 40% of the population will not take this vaccine, even if the vaccine effectiveness is 70 or 80%. We will not be in a position to have herd immunity,” Dr. Peter Marks, the director of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Centers for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently said that the road to medical intervention for Covid-19 will be a long one, as “providing billions of doses of potential vaccines to everyone around the world will take the work of researchers around the world.”

As of March over 200 Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials have been occurring. Johns Hopkins has claimed that many of the vaccine plans are lacking important scientific components, however, given the urgency of the pandemic, this is an instance in which “further research” isn’t fully required. Creating at least a solid drug treatment plan is also top priority. 

For now, the future of this pandemic is still unknown, however, regardless of your state’s restrictions, you should still be taking the coronavirus as seriously as you were a few months ago. In order to truly stop the spread it’s up to all of us joining together, staying indoors, and waiting for a vaccine to appear.

Covid Antibody Test

New Report From CDC Claims Half Of All Coronavirus Antibody Tests Are False

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently listed a compilation of new guidance on their website that stated antibody tests used to determine if an individual has been infected with Covid-19 may be wrong half the time. The tests specifically look for evidence of an immune response in the body to determine, and now the CDC is claiming that they shouldn’t be used to “make decisions about grouping persons residing in or being admitted to congregate settings, such as schools, dormitories, or correctional facilities,” according to their website. 

The CDC is now encouraging health officials not to use these tests to make decisions about when essential workers can return to their workplace if they’ve been infected. Health care providers should also ensure that when they do give patients an antibody test that they’re using the most accurate test possible and are able to test the individual twice to be sure that the result is accurate. 

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“In most of the country, including areas that have been heavily impacted, the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibody is expected to be low, ranging from less than 5% to 25%, so that testing at this point might result in relatively more false positive results and fewer false-negative results. The higher the sensitivity, the fewer false negatives a test will give. The higher the specificity, the fewer false positives. Across populations, tests give more accurate results if the disease being tested for is common in the population. If an infection has only affected a small percentage of people being tested, even a very small margin of error in a test will be magnified,” the CDC said.

One of the biggest concerns is the false positives that some individuals are receiving. A false positive could lead someone to believe that they had the virus and have a certain level of immunity over it when they could’ve actually never had it at all. It’s also extremely important to note that even if the positive test result is accurate, no one is immune from this virus, and you shouldn’t believe that you have no chance at getting it again simply because you have the antibodies. We still don’t know how this virus fully works and mutates, so everyone must continue to ease on the side of extreme caution. 

“It cannot be assumed that individuals with truly positive antibody test results are protected from future infection. Serologic [antibody] testing should not be used to determine immune status in individuals until the presence, durability, and duration of immunity is established,” (CDC). 

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In general, the CDC doesn’t want anyone to use antibody testing as a means of making certain policy decisions. We need to be looking at actual case numbers and rates of infection more than anything when it comes to loosening quarantining measures. They claim that this testing can be wrong so often because of how common the virus is now. 

“For example, in a population where the prevalence is 5%, a test with 90% sensitivity and 95% specificity will yield a positive predictive value of 49%. In other words, less than half of those testing positive will truly have antibodies. Alternatively, the same test in a population with an antibody prevalence exceeding 52% will yield a positive predictive greater than 95%, meaning that less than one in 20 people testing positive will have a false positive test result,” (CDC).

The best way to receive an accurate test result is to take a test with higher sensitivity. High sensitivity antibody tests are much less likely to give a false positive specifically. The Food and Drug Administration has joined the CDC in expressing their hesitation in using antibody results for policy change. For now, both organizations encourage double-testing, and remaining diligent on all other social distancing measures as well.  

Mother & Daughter at home with masks

New Cases Of Coronavirus Down In 28 States, Health Officials Still Fear A Second-Wave

Johns Hopkins University has been recording data regarding all aspects of the coronavirus pandemic since cases initially started appearing in the United States. Recently, the Universities data showed that the number of new coronavirus cases in more than half of the states in the US are going down. These states are also mainly more rural areas with less densely populated metropolitans, such as Manhattan, however, this is still really positive news. 

So far 28 states in total have recorded a decline in new Covid-19 cases appearing in their hospitals. Several of these states were the ones who decided to reopen early as well, including Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Colorado, however, as we know this virus  is unpredictable, so no one is in the clear yet. 

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In addition, seven states are still experiencing an increase in new cases, and the remaining 15 have reported to be holding relatively steady in the middle. So far, 1.4 million Americans have tested positive for Covid-19, and more than 85,000 have died, so while these states are experiencing a decline in new case numbers, the universal opinion has been that the US need to increase it’s quarantine and lockdown policies exponentially if we want to see a real difference. 

One of the biggest concerns that the US has been coping with since the beginning of this pandemic has been getting access to proper testing for the virus. While not every person who contracts Covid-19 needs treatment, as many are asymptomatic, it’s still crucial to get tested so that healthcare professionals can warn you to quarantine away from your loved ones for at least 14 days to prevent the further spread of the disease. 

“Every case that’s out there could be the spark that starts another outbreak in your community that gets out of control. With the right measures, countries can suppress transmission and avoid bouncing back-and-forth between lockdown and lifting restrictions,” said Dr. Richard Besser, the former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Some experts have speculated that the coronavirus could continue to spread for the next two years, or until about 70% of the world’s population has been infected. Obviously, finding a vaccine is a top priority for healthcare professionals. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has begun a new trial for those who have mild symptoms to see how effective/strong the drug treatments they’ve been experimenting with are working. 

“We will enroll 2,000 people infected with coronavirus to try the drug combination at home. Study participants must have a fever, cough and/or shortness of breath. Participants will be randomly assigned to receive short-term treatment with either hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin or matching placebos. People living with HIV and pregnant and breastfeeding women also are eligible to participate in the study,” according to the NIH. 

For now, the CDC, NIH, and any other healthcare professional worldwide would likely tell you to continue abiding by social distancing measures, and remaining indoors as much as possible. If you do need to leave the house, wear all the protective gear necessary and stay at least six feet apart from everyone.


Here’s Where Americans Want To Go Once The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Over

The annual Longwoods International Travel Sentiment Tracking Study has been released and provided some insight into the trips that all Americans want to take once this pandemic is over and we get the green-light to start living life normally again. Over half of the responses indicate that the first trip most Americans want to make is to travel domestically to visit their friends and family that they’ve been separated from for the past few months. 

To be specific, 52% of the respondents said they want to visit their loved ones first and foremost. In total, 76% of Americans surveyed said their first trip would be in the car while 24% said they would travel by air if it was completely safe. 

Among the sub-group that said they would be taking their first post-pandemic vacation via the car, 52% of them said they would stay within 200 miles of their home, while 48% agreed they wanted to go much further away. 

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“The survey, supported by Miles Partnership, was fielded April 29, 2020 using a national sample randomly drawn from a consumer panel of 1,000 adults, ages 18 and over.  Quotas were used to match Census targets for age, gender, and region to make the survey representative of the U. S. population,” according to the Longwoods International website

Again, keep in mind that all of these individuals were answering these questions under the assumption that the Covid-19 virus would no longer be a cause for concern and social distancing policies would no longer in place by the time they take these vacations. 

Once all the pandemic-imposed flying restrictions are lifted, 86% of Americans said they would want to visit somewhere domestically, within the US.  4% of individuals said they would go somewhere international, and 2% said they would keep it relatively local/plan a staycation near home. The remaining 8% of those surveyed said they have no intention of travelling for at least six months post-pandemic. 

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“Despite the pandemic, Americans are eager to travel, especially to spend time with family and friends. The vast majority of Americans will make their first trip after the pandemic in the U.S., with only four percent planning international travel as their first destination,” said Amir Eylon, President and CEO of market research consultancy, Longwoods International.

70% of all respondents said that they already have trips planned for within the next six months. Individuals who were recording the data for the survey kept in contact with these individuals as the pandemic has worsened, and so far, no one has made any adjustments or cancellations to those plans. 

On the opposite end, 55% did admit that the pandemic in general would greatly impact their travel for the six months, whether that be personal or business related travel; four weeks ago that number was 67%. 22% of these individuals also made this claim based on economic factors that have heavily impacted everyone’s life plans; not just travel. 

Regardless of when we’re all able to travel and see our loved ones again, it’s imperative that we continue to listen to our healthcare workers and remain inside, so that we have a greater chance at returning to normalcy sooner rather than later.

Colorado River

The Colorado River Is Drying Up, Putting 40 Million Americans At Risk For Drought

The Colorado River provides water that supports more than 40 million Americans. Anyone living between Denver and Los Angeles, can most likely thank the massive river for a renewable and clean source of water. However, like most natural resources on Earth in 2020, climate change is beginning to take its toll. 

Scientists have found that there has been a 20% decrease in the Colorado River’s flow within the 21st century, when compared to the rate at which the flow was decreasing last century; an issue that they are blaming climate change on. Researchers who worked on a recent study, posted last week in the Journal Science, found that more than 50% of the river’s flow decline is due to increasing global temperatures. This is becoming a major issue that will only get worse; the biggest concern being the extreme water shortage that scientists are predicting millions of individuals who rely on the river as a water source will endure within the coming years. 

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“For each 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit of warming averaged across the river’s basin, its flow has decreased by nearly 10%. Over the course of the 20th and early 21st centuries, the region has already warmed by an average of roughly 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The study also examined the impact that pollution and heat-trapping gases could have on the river’s water supply. Without any cuts to [these] emissions, the river’s discharge could shrink by between 19% and 31% by the middle of this century,” (National Climate Assessment).

The Colorado River is one of the most vital rivers in the United States because of how much land it covers, and how many people rely on it as a renewable resource. The river itself begins at a high altitude in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming. It stretches throughout the Southwest of the U.S. and ends up in the Gulf of California. However, according to the study, by the time the river gets to California its reduced down to nothing more than a trickle of water. 

On its journey from the mountains down to the golden state, the river makes a few detours to supply fresh water to cities like Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, Phoenix, and a multitude of farms that reach all the way down to Mexico. If the river continues to slow down, a majority of these places will be left at serious risk for drought, and will likely dry up.  

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According to the study, “Global warming is taking a severe toll on the snowpack that feeds the river, the scientists found. As temperatures increase, snow cover in the region is declining, meaning less energy from the sun is reflected back into space and more warms the ground as heat. This triggers a vicious cycle that leads to even more evaporation and therefore, less water supply.”

Increasing global temperatures has also already had a multitude of negative effects on the planet, obviously, that have already begun affecting the river as well. Lake Powell and Lake Mead are two of the Colorado river’s main reservoir sources, and they both are currently half full, to what’s considered their normal/sustainable volume of water, due to a 20-year-long severe drought brought on by climate change. 

In total, seven states rely on the river for water. Last year, the federal government reached an agreement regarding the rights of the river and how it should be governed within the next decade or so; the deal will protect the river until 2026, and negotiations are scheduled to take place at some point this year to determine which sectors of the river are the driest, and thus need to greatest protections/rehabilitation efforts. 

In general, a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions brought on by new technology, federal policies, and true systematic/economic change will help reverse the extensive damage this river has endured, as well as protect the rest of the planet from the massive amounts of destruction it’s already been through thanks to humanities ignorance on global warming.

Woman with Morning Ritual

How To Adopt A Healthy Morning Ritual

When you hear the words “morning routine” do you immediately feel joyful, or a sense of dread? Most working Americans would choose the latter, as their mornings are typically filled with frantically making sure everything they need for the day is together, taking care of their bodies/hygiene, and avoiding any thoughts about work until they actually have to clock-in at the ripe hour of 9 AM. 

When we first wake up, it’s easy to get caught up in the fact that we’re getting up due to an alarm, and not by choice, which is frustrating. However, getting caught up in the misery of waking up early for a job can cause our entire system to absorb those thoughts of negativity and become “sluggish.” Instead, it’s important to take a sort of “mind over matter” approach when it comes to waking up. 

“Emotions are not hard-wired reflections of our external reality. They’re actually guesses our brains make based on previous experiences. Anytime you feel miserable it’s because you are experiencing an unpleasant effect due to physical sensations,” according to Lisa Feldman Barrett, a neuroscientist who wrote the book How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain.

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So to emphasize Barrett’s point, when you wake up and automatically get caught up in how upset you are to be awake, your brain is telling the rest of your body to focus on that negativity and try to run on it. Instead, wake up in the morning and think about what you need at that moment to feel more motivated to get ready and go to work. The first thing you should do for the best physical, mental, and emotional outcome in the morning is drink a tall glass of cold water, after that, figure out what you personally need to do to have the most relaxed, yet productive, morning. 

Get the idea of a morning “routine” out of your head and instead think of it as a ritual to prepare your mind, body, and soul for the day in its entirety. Make a list of things that you can do in the morning to keep yourself centered and relaxed. Remember, like Barett said, our brains are just telling us to be miserable in the morning because that’s how we’ve hardwired it to think. Instead emphasize activities in the morning that promote calmness; this could include simply making the bed, savoring a cup of coffee, reading through the newspaper, or even meditating. 

Regardless of what you specifically need to center yourself, carve out enough time in the morning so that you can leisurely go about your ritual with no real rush or urgency. Even if it means waking up 15 minutes earlier than normal, your mental health will thank you for the less frantic, and more relaxed morning. 

Mindfulness and self-awareness are the two obvious things that should be at the forefront of your ritual. When it comes to major tasks that you need to accomplish throughout the day beyond the realm of work, you need to plan out when each task most efficiently fits into your schedule while still allowing you the luxury of leisure. 

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For example, if you’re the type of person who enjoys going to the gym, for a walk, on a run, etc. throughout the week, think about when in your day, ideally, would you love to see those goals accomplished. If going for a morning walk sounds like something that would center you and prepare you for the busy day ahead, then put it in your ritual. However, if it’s something that you want to ensure you have plenty of time for and that you know will help you unwind after a long day, as opposed to prepare you for it, then save it for after you’ve clocked-out. 

Avoid traditional means of waking up and getting out the door, such as chugging caffeine/caffeinated products as a means of getting a quick pick-me-up, because it likely will help for the first few hours of your morning but leave you with that lovely 2 o’clock lagging feeling. Again, water is the best thing you can put into your body first thing in the morning, not just health wise either, energy wise as well. 

Also avoid the stresses in your life that are within your control. Prepare your lunch the night before your work day so it’s one less thing to worry about in the morning. If you want to take a cup of coffee to go for your commute, after you’ve had a tall glass of water of course, think about also making it the night before and either letting it sit in a pot that’s equipped for scheduled brewing, or putting in the fridge for an iced coffee approach. 

Showering is another thing that can wait until the evening if you can manage it, which will also help alleviate some of the personal hygiene items on your morning ritual list. 

Regardless of what your morning ritual consists of, again, just be mindful and go into it positively. Working everyday can be hard, but you’ll find, as you grow older, there are plenty of things to come home to that make it all worth it. So instead of waiting for those moments of joy, take control, and start making them yourself, and do it first thing in the morning while you’re at it.

Seville Spain

Where To Go On Your Next Solo Vacation

Travelling is one of the most enchanting and fulfilling experiences we can do while here on Earth. When the stars align enough to the point that we’ve saved enough money and vacation days to take a much needed trip away from our everyday lives, it seems like a no-brainier. However, what happens when you get to a place in your life when no one you’re close to is as available as you to take said vacation? Solo-travel may not seem like it would be your top priority, however, there’s something truly gratifying about wanting to go out into the world and experience something new by yourself, and then actually doing it. So where should you go on your next independent journey? 

Seville, Spain has practically every element of Hispanic culture all in one city. From a series of historical cathedrals and other houses of worship, cobblestone roads, and bars and eateries lining the borders of countless plaza’s, you can’t go wrong. Seville has been described as one of the most social European cities out there, as residents spill into the streets everyday and spend their time wandering around, making new connections, and taking in the beauty that is traditional Spain. 

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Seville, Spain

If you are looking to stay in America, California is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country. But instead of going to the traditional California getaway spots, like San Diego or LA, try going someplace more scenic and secluded, like Redding. Redding is one of California’s nicest up and coming spots for those who love all things nature and outdoors. There’s a bunch of protected grounds to hike and explore, such as the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Six Rivers National Forest.

Thailand has become one of the most popular international vacation destinations to date. Bangkok, to be more specific, is described as a “one place fits all” type of experience. The city is not only oozing with culture, wildlife, and a multitude of markets, but it also is known for its insane nightlife. Electric neon lights, bass-heavy beats, and individuals in the most colorful club attire you’ve ever seen fill the streets at night, giving a “I never want this to end!!” type feeling to all involved. 

Paris, France is a bit of a no brainier when it comes to “dream vacation” spots and that’s exactly why it’s worth mentioning here. Paris is rich with European culture and museums as far as the eye could see holding some of the world’s finest art. In fact, you can get a Museum Pass in Paris for 74 Euros and that one pass will give you entry into 50 different historic sites. The best part? The pass is good for six days, so you don’t have to worry about cramming all of the sights to see in one day. 

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Staying in Europe, Wales in the United Kingdom has become a much more popular tourist destination within the past decade. Wales is one of the few places in Europe with beautiful white sandy beaches and postcard worthy sunset views. Additionally, Wales is known for its uniquely colorful architecture, immersive meadow fields and medieval castles, as well as plenty of places to grab a pint and a quick bite to eat. 

If you’re a bit of an alcoholic beverage connoisseur, look no further than Belgium for your next tour of some of the world’s greatest breweries. Belgium alone has over 150 breweries, and is known for its active biking culture. There’s a bike shop on nearly every corner and plenty of dedicated bike paths throughout the country, allowing for easy access to some of the most breathtaking European views you’ll ever see. 

Finally, one of the more underrated destinations on anyone’s list would have to be the state of Utah. While Utah may seem like your average middle-America place to be, it’s actually becoming quite the hot spot during the summer months. Utah is home to  Zion National Park, Goblin Valley State Park, and the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument on the border of Utah and Arizona. If you can, try to hit any of these spots at night for some of the most incredible stargazing spots you’ll ever see, at least in America. 

Regardless of where you decide to take yourself on your next solo trip, make sure you take the time to plan out what exactly you want to do. All of the locations listed above are known for their hospitality and social scenes, so you likely will never have an issue when it comes to asking for directions, or finding a good place to eat. So go on your own Eat, Pray, Love journey and go be with yourself for a week.

Marijuana Leaves

L.A. County To Dismiss Over 66,000 Marijuana Convictions

America is going green, cannabis green that is. Within the past five years states and counties alike have legalized the use of marijuana recreationally. After Colorado made the leap back in 2014, more and more regions in the U.S. have followed in their footsteps after seeing the massively successful economic results of doing so. However, as more American territories begin legalizing, a new debate is emerging regarding the millions of people currently serving prison time for marijuana-related charges.

It’s the same political argument when it comes to eradicating student debt; what about all the individuals who already paid back/are currently paying back their loans? Well, Los Angeles, California is setting a very important precedent for this growing debate regarding recreational marijuana use and those currently incarcerated for something that’s been legalized since 2016 (in California that is). 

Close to 66,000 marijuana convictions made in Los Angeles County will be dismissed within the coming months. Of those cases 4,000 are misdemeanor possession charges and 62,000 are felony convictions for selling and cultivation, and some of the charges date all the way back to 1961, according to California District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office. 

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“The dismissal of tens of thousands of old cannabis-related convictions in Los Angeles County will bring much-needed relief to communities of color that disproportionately suffered the unjust consequences of our nation’s drug laws. I am privileged to be part of a system dedicated to finding innovative solutions and implementing meaningful criminal justice reform that gives all people the support they need to build the life they deserve,” Lacey said.

Lacey also went on to state that the dismissals will give “conviction relief” to about 53,000 individuals; 45% of which are Latino, 32% black, and 20% white. This relief effort began the moment that California approved Proposition 64 back in November of 2016. When that proposition, which stated the legalization of recreational marijuana use, passed a big part of it stated that individuals with old marijuana convictions/charges would be able to petition the judicial system to expunge their records. 

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Then, two years later, in 2018, the California state Legislature passed AB 1793 which was a bill that then required the state Department of Justice to go through all of California’s crime records and mark past marijuana convictions that would be eligible for either expunging or downgrading to a misdemeanor charge; obviously the Department only went through documents of individuals who were still alive, convicted, or still had the charges on their record. 

AB 1793 leads us to today, as the Department is still looking through past court documents and convictions. They have until July to fully review the list of past charges in order to determine which dismissals and downgrades will be appropriate based off the bill. In 2018 after initial document review the Department determined that more than 218,000 state wide convictions could be eligible for dismissal. 

The 66,000 number comes just from LA County specifically (hence the much larger statewide number). Lacey’s office has gone through those cases as well ,with some collaborative help from the organization Clear My Record; a nonprofit California service that has helped over 85,000 individuals get their marijuana convictions dismissed since 2016. 

Now, the hope for the future is that as the rest of the nation begins opening their minds and legislation to the possibility of becoming a federally legal country, and hundreds upon thousands of individuals will be able to have their criminal records rightfully expunged, and the chance to start a new life.

Statue of Liberty

Underrated Things To Do In New York City

New York City is known as the “city that never sleeps”, and as a native myself I can confirm that this holds true. With five large borough’s, over 8 million residents, and skyscrapers as far as the eye can see, NYC is truly one of the most magnificent and diverse places in the U.S., maybe even the world. 

If you’re not a native, are planning on visiting, have visited but was overwhelmed by the thousands of things to do, or just are in the mood to explore a new city and New York has always been on your list, than it’s important to look into some of the amazing attractions that NYC has to offer. A lot of the typical tourism spots in New York do hold true to the photos online, however, they really aren’t the star of the show. NYC is HUGE and there’s an endless amount of possibilities when it comes to what to do when you find yourself exploring this concrete jungle. 

Central Park is the most popular park in NYC, and rightfully so, if you’ve ever seen an aerial shot of the city, it’s absolutely magnificent how contained this massive plot of nature remains in an otherwise industrial landscape. However, there are plenty of other beautiful parks in New York that don’t get as much attention, but truly deserve to. Bryant Park is an obvious runner up, as it has an endless amount of eateries surrounding the perimeter, and plenty of seating to enjoy the views on a nice day. In the winter, the park also has ice skating and the occasional concert in the park (concerts occur throughout the entire year it just depends on the day). 

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The Met

If you want to go the more historical and artsy route, NYC has one of the widest selections of museums that one could dream of. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most magnificent museums in the country. The MET holds a myriad of artwork extending from the dawn of man, to modern examples of pop art by Andy Warhol himself. The vast size of the amount of artwork the MET has curated throughout the years is astounding, and a majority of it is on display. The best part? Entry is only $25, and for the amount to be seen within the museum, it’s definitely worth it. 

Other notable and exciting museums that one should visit in the city include; The Museum of Natural History, The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Sex, The Museum of Ice Cream, The Guggenheim, and plenty more

Some more underrated attractions that one may not initially think of when planning their trip to New York City includes taking a ride on the Staten Island Ferry! Many don’t realize that the ferry itself travels on a route that allows passengers to see Brooklyn, the Statue of Liberty (without the overwhelming tourist energy), and lower Manhattan! 

Brooklyn itself has truly built up a representation as being flooded with hipsters and artisanal cheeses, however, the art and culture that’s circulating throughout these boroughs streets is truly astounding. Brooklyn Flea is the epicenter of all of it. Filled with up-cycled clothing stores, unique cafes and an endless amount of artwork, you can’t go wrong with a day of hipster magic and good food. 

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The West Village

The West Village is another beautiful little piece of NYC that deserves to be explored. In fact you could spend a whole day just walking around the village and you’ll definitely find plenty to do without all the noise and congestion that one would find in Times Square. Something unique to the West Village as well is their Midnight Movies at the IFC Center. IFC often roles through a whole slew of titles for their late night movie showings; including classics such as Jurassic Park and The Shining. 

Chinatown is to New York City as peanut butter is to jelly, however, if you’re looking for the greatest Chinatown/NYC experience, no other beats that of Flushing’s Chinatown. This location specifically stands out because of all the amazing food and restaurants that are bustling throughout the streets. Even more so, they have the New World Mall Food Court, a must see in terms of NYC eating. 

Finally, The Bronx. No, nothing in particular, but the Bronx in general is one of the most underrated boroughs throughout NYC and it’s no thanks to a lot of ignorant representation in the media. The Bronx has way more to offer than just the zoo as well. Home of the Yankee’s, the NYC Botanical Gardens, and several Victorian mansions, the Bronx has become a cultural hub for the history of the city, and has plenty to offer in terms of things to do. 

There’s a billion possibilities when it comes to exploring New York City. The key is figuring out what specific kind of experience you want to get out of it. Once you figure that out, there’s plenty of online resources to connect you to the perfect attraction to get the most out of your time in NYC.