SAN JOSE, Calif. — Faith leaders at a tiny church in San Jose where a three-year-old girl perished last fall have confirmed that they performed a ceremony on the child to “liberate her of her evil spirits” but say what happened was “the will of God,” not the consequence of an exorcism. “If you read the Bible, you’ll see that Jesus casts away demons and made sick people healthy again,” said Rene Huezo, pastor of Iglesia Apostoles y Profetas and grandfather of the victim. “It’s not when I want to do it, it’s when God, in his will, wants to heal the person. The preacher is like an instrument of G...
Stories Chosen For You
Superstar Rihanna and rapper A$AP Rocky have reportedly welcomed their first child, after a pregnancy the singer flaunted in a radical revamp of normally covered-up maternity style.
The entertainment and fashion mogul behind the hits "Diamonds" and "Umbrella" gave birth to a boy on May 13 in Los Angeles, according to TMZ, which first reported the news.
People Magazine confirmed the celebrity birth, citing a source close to the couple who said they are at home with the baby and that "Rihanna is doing well. They are very excited to be parents."
Representatives for the couple did not immediately respond to an AFP request for confirmation.
No other details, including the child's name, have been made public.
The Barbadian-born Robyn Rihanna Fenty, 34, in recent years has become a billionaire, parlaying her music achievements into successful makeup, lingerie and high-fashion brands.
Rumors that she and A$AP Rocky, 33, were dating swirled for years before the pair confirmed last year that their romance was official.
The pair announced they were expecting in January with a set of glamorous snow-dusted images taken in Harlem, the mother-to-be sporting a long pink jacket buttoned only at the top, paired with a long bejeweled necklace over her bare belly.
Since then, Rihanna has triggered a paparazzi frenzy and left the fashion industry in awe, appearing in barely-there maternity looks that showcased her growing baby bump, no holds barred.
Weeks after announcing her pregnancy, the pop icon dazzled the fashion week circuit in look after look, notably arriving in Paris in a completely see-through Dior lace cocktail dress, under which she donned lingerie from her own Savage X Fenty line.
Paired with spiky heeled knee-high boots, a leather trench coat, and silver necklaces, the star walked with such grace and confidence she appeared to float.
"You're late!" shouted someone off-camera in a viral clip.
Rihanna slowly turned her head, held her bump and narrowed her piercing eyes: "No shit."
'Rewriting' pregnancy rules
It's a quip that's come to encapsulate the artist's embrace of her changing body -- Rihanna didn't just bare her belly, she boasted of it, adorning herself in jewels, sequined bras, and low-slung miniskirts.
"She's changed something profound in fashion -- single-handedly rewriting the rules of pregnancy dressing with one jaw-dropping style maneuver after another," wrote Vogue, which featured Rihanna on its May cover.
"I'm hoping that we were able to redefine what's considered 'decent' for pregnant women," the performer told the magazine.
"My body is doing incredible things right now, and I'm not going to be ashamed of that. This time should feel celebratory."
She's far from the first celebrity to show off her pregnant belly: Demi Moore posed nude while expecting on Vanity Fair's cover in 1991, a stunning move for the time.
Since then, Britney Spears, Cindy Crawford and Serena Williams have all sat for similar glossy pregnancy portraits. Beyonce meanwhile announced her twins with a highly polished, belly-baring Instagram post chock full of art-world references including Botticelli's Venus.
But Rihanna's scantily clad looks have been far less calculated and far more frequent, a statement on maternity that goes beyond the magazine cover to be an everyday celebration of self.
"Right now I'm really into pushing the idea of sexy," she told the lifestyle website Refinery29 in February. "When women get pregnant, society tends to make it feel like you hide, hide your sexy."
"I don't believe in that shit," she continued. "So I'm trying stuff that I might not have even had the confidence to try before I was pregnant."
"The strappiest, the thinnest, and the more cut-outs -- the better for me."
American aerospace giant Boeing's Starliner capsule was heading for the International Space Station Thursday, in a critical uncrewed test flight that followed years of failures and false starts.
The spacecraft encountered some propulsion troubles early in its journey, with two thrusters responsible for orbital maneuvering failing for unclear reasons -- but NASA officials said the mission remained on track.
The Orbital Test Flight 2 (OFT-2) mission blasted off at 6:54 pm Eastern Time (2254 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with the spaceship fixed atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
Its success is key to repairing Boeing's frayed reputation after the first bid, back in 2019, failed to dock with the ISS due to software bugs -- one that led to it burning too much fuel to reach its destination, and another that could have destroyed the vehicle during re-entry.
A second try was scheduled in August of last year, but Starliner was rolled back from the launchpad to address sticky valves that weren't opening as they should, and the capsule was eventually sent back to the factory for fixes.
At a post-launch press conference, senior NASA official Steve Sitch said: "Overall, the spacecraft is doing really well," but he also flagged two anomalies that engineers were now working to understand.
The first was that two out of 12 orbital maneuvering and attitude control (OMAC) thrusters located on Starliner's aft side had initially fired but then shut down, forcing a third to take up their slack.
The second issue was that a device known as a sublimator responsible for cooling the spacecraft was initially slow to get started.
NASA is looking to certify Starliner as a second "taxi" service for its astronauts to the space station -- a role that Elon Musk's SpaceX has provided since succeeding in a test mission for its Dragon capsule in 2020.
Both companies were awarded fixed-price contracts -- $4.2 billion to Boeing, and $2.6 billion to SpaceX -- in 2014, shortly after the end of the Space Shuttle program, during a time when the United States was left reliant on Russian Soyuz rockets for rides to the orbital outpost.
Boeing, with its hundred-year history, was considered by many as the sure shot, while then-upstart SpaceX was less proven.
In reality, it was SpaceX that rocketed ahead, and recently sent its fourth routine crew to the research platform -- while Boeing's development delays have cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars.
Starliner should dock with the ISS about 24 hours after launch, and deliver more than 500 pounds (226 kilograms) of cargo, including food and provisions such as clothes and sleeping bags for the current crew on the station.
Its sole passenger is a mannequin named Rosie the Rocketeer -- a play on the World War II campaign icon Rosie the Riveter -- whose job is to collect flight data with her sensors in order to learn what human astronauts would experience.
"We are a little jealous of Rosie," said NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, who is expected to be among the first crew selected for a manned demonstration mission should OFT-2 succeed.
The gumdrop-shaped capsule will spend about five to ten days in space, then undock and return to Earth, using giant parachutes to land in the desert of the western United States.
NASA sees a second provider to low Earth orbit as a vital backup, should SpaceX encounter problems.
"It's a really critical step for us and moving towards having two routinely flying crewed vehicles who can bring our crew to and from ISS," Dana Weigel, deputy program manager for the ISS, told reporters this week.
Meatpacking companies knew early on in the pandemic that their facilities were hot spots for the coronavirus, but rather than take safeguards to protect their workers, they instead pushed the Trump administration to limit local health requirements and insulate themselves from legal accountability.
A congressional select committee recently issued a report on COVID outbreaks in the meatpacking industry, and their investigation found that industry lobbyists ginned up bogus fears of meat shortages to keep their plants open and force workers back onto the job, despite the health risks, reported MSNBC.
“Now to get rid of those pesky health departments!” one lobbyist told a Koch Foods executive, according to the report.
The companies probably could have kept their facilities open without turning them into COVID factories, according to MSNBC columnist Ryan Cooper, but rather than take countervailing steps to improve ventilation or provide masks to workers, the industry successfully lobbied the Trump administration to invoke the Defense Production Act to overrule local regulations and shield companies from legal liability for worker deaths.
"Sure enough," Cooper wrote, "meatpacking facilities, where workers are commonly immigrants and about 69 percent are nonwhite, have been some of the deadliest places during the pandemic, and workers also spread the virus around their communities. One study found that the presence of a meatpacking plant increased case numbers in U.S. counties by about 160 percent."
Some of the protective measures might have been difficult to implement, although grocery store chains successfully pulled them off, but Cooper said the episode shows that American executives view their workers as "lazy rabble" who must be coerced into work and then discarded, and "pseudo-populists" like Trump help them get away with it.
"It’s an illustration of the fundamentally fraudulent nature of Trump-style 'populism,'" Cooper wrote. "He and his party might rail against 'globalist' bankers, corporate fat cats or slanted trade deals and occasionally might even make some token policy gesture in that direction. But when corporate profits — or capitalists’ control of their workforces, especially diverse ones — are on the line, then Donald Trump and his goons have their backs, always."