COVID-19 Cases In South Dakota Increase 456% Since Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

South Dakota has seen a sharp increase in daily COVID-19 cases following the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Meade County this month. Hundreds of thousands of bikers descended upon the area August 6-15, despite the Delta variant wreaking havoc on the U.S. 

On August 4, the date closest to the start of the rally for which data was available, the state reported 657 active cases. On August 25, the state reported 3,655 active cases. That’s a 456% increase of active cases from before the start of the rally to two weeks after, according to the state’s department of health.

As of August 24, about two weeks from the start of the event, South Dakota saw a weekly positivity rate of 38.8%. The week leading up to the rally — July 30 to August 6 — the state’s weekly positivity rate was much lower, at 10.38%, the department of health data shows. The week before that, July 23-30, the positivity rate was just 6.10%.

The rate of daily cases increased 486% from August 6, when 80 new cases were reported, to August 23, when 469 cases were reported. 

Meade County, where Sturgis is located, saw a 34.2% weekly positivity rate last week, according to the state department of health. 

About 61% of the state’s population over age 12 have been administered at least one dose of vaccine, and 55% are fully vaccinated, the department’s data shows. In Meade County, 7,984 people have been vaccinated. With a population of 28,332, that’s about 28% of the county vaccinated.

Vaccines are proven safe and effective. Despite this, the Delta variant is still rapidly spreading, and hospitals report the majority of their COVID-19 cases are in unvaccinated patients. 

Still, the national vaccination effort is once again showing signs of slowing. Just over half of the American population is fully vaccinated, far short of the elusive “herd immunity” some hoped the country would reach by the end of the summer.

At the Sturgis rally, vaccines were not required, Mola Lenghi reported for “CBS This Morning: Saturday.” “We’re not going to start checking papers. I mean, that’s not really an American way,” said Daniel Ainslie, city manager of Sturgis, which has a population of 7,000.

Last year, the motorcycle rally received scrutiny for welcoming half a million bikers from across the country to what was considered a “superspreader” event. About three weeks after the 2020 rally kicked off, more than 100 cases of COVID-19 connected to the rally were reported in at least eight states, The Associated Press reported, and the number of related cases kept growing in the weeks that followed.

At the time, COVID-19 vaccines were not yet available. Some safety measures, like sanitizing sidewalks, were put in place, but masks were not required, City of Sturgis Public Information Officer Christina Steele told CBS News via email ahead of the event. 

In an email to CBS News, Daniel Bucheli, spokesman for the South Dakota Department of Health, said, “COVID-19 case spikes are following a national trend being experienced in every state, not just South Dakota.”

“Regarding cases surrounding the Sturgis rally, our department has only been able to link 39 cases directly to this event,” Bucheli said. “It is important to mention that Meade County currently has a lower vaccination rate than other counties in the state. Fully vaccinated residents in this county is 45.1%, versus 55.94% for the state as a whole.”

CBS News has reached out to representatives of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and is awaiting response. 

Source: CBS News

Why Atlanta Rapper Miss Mulatto Changed Her Name To Latto

The platinum-selling recording artist once known as Mulatto has officially changed her name. On Monday, rapper Latto debuted her new moniker on music streaming platforms like Tidal, Spotify, and Apple Music as she gears up to release an album on Friday.

For several months, the Clayton County-raised performer has discussed the possibility of changing her stage name as the term “mulatto” is described as offensive.

According to the Pew Research Center, the term  “mulatto” – mulato in Spanish – commonly referenced a person of mixed-race ancestry with white European and Black African roots. However, it was often used in a derogatory fashion during the times of slavery and segregation in America. The root of the word mula, or mule, refers to the offspring of a horse and a donkey. 

In the latest edition of Merriam-Webster, the word is still marked/labeled as “usually offensive.”

The literary trope “tragic mulatto” was born from the word in the early 1840s largely in credit to Lydia Maria Child. “The myth almost exclusively focuses on biracial individuals, especially women, light enough to pass for white,” according to an article by ThoughtCo which explores the history of the trope.

Latto, whose real name is  Alyssa Michelle Stephens, identifies as biracial. Back in 2016, she emerged in the music industry as Miss Mulatto in the first season of Jermaine’s Dupri’s reality competition series on Lifetime, “The Rap Game.”

“I’m passionate about my race. I’m Miss Mulatto. The term mulatto technically is a racist slur. It means someone that’s half Black and half white. So it’s, like, controversial,” she said during her time on the show. “I took that negativity from the word mulatto and now … everybody calls me Miss Mulatto.” 

She was only 15 years old at the time. 

The now 22-year-old “Queen of the South” artist hinted during an interview with HipHopDX at the 2020 BET HipHop Awards that she was thinking about changing her name.

“It is a controversy that I hear and see every day as far as my name goes, so I would be lying to say no I never thought of that. But I can’t say too much … right now, because it’s going to be a part of something bigger,” she told HipHopDX in 2020.

After much social media scrutiny and reflection, the southern lyricist stayed true to her word and revealed that she would change her name in a trending interview with Hot Freestyle back in January.

“You know you might know your intentions, but these are strangers who don’t know you, never even met you in person,” Mulatto expressed in the interview. “So you gotta hear each other out, and if you know those aren’t your intentions and that’s how it’s being perceived, it’s like why not make a change or alter it? For me, it was the name. So now I’m like, ‘OK, my intentions was to never glorify being mulatto.’ So if that’s how it’s being perceived and people think I’m saying, ‘Oh, I’m better because I’m mulatto’ or ‘My personality trait is mulatto’ … then I need to change the matter at hand.”

Latto said she would not just change her social media handles because “that’s not sensitive enough to the subject matter” and she wants “to be able to speak on it” so people can hear her out. She said changing your name in the music industry is no easy feat and it comes with a load of logistics. 

“I want them to also understand that the name change at this level in your career is a big decision,” the 22-year-old rapper said during her Hot Freestyle interview. “Freaking investors, labels, everything … been riding on this name, so it is a big decision … it’s way deeper than a tweet.” 

She made it clear that multiple aspects were involved in the decision and a variety of business partners had a “say so in that decision.”

“It’s not like me being ‘I want to do this’ and then it’s just done,” she said.

The platinum-selling artist made a video post on Instagram Tuesday evening teasing a potential song speaking on the name change. 

“You gotta be strategic with the word choice because it could come off a way that you don’t mean. That’s how I got in this predicament in the first place with the damn name,” she said. “That’s why you gotta be proactive with the word choice … gotta think ahead … my intentions weren’t for the backlash … exactly what I’m saying in the song … intentions weren’t for that.”

The star reached a huge milestone back in March when her single “B*tch From Da Souf” received a platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

“I was the first solo female rapper from ATL to go gold,” she penned in a tweet. “Now I’m the first solo female rapper from ATL to go platinum too!”

Last year, Latto appeared in Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s controversial hit music video “WAP.” She also collaborated with Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane on her song “Muwop” which went gold.

Source: 11Alive News

Donkey Of The Day – University Of South Carolina (USC) President Robert Bob Caslen Called Graduates At His Own School ‘The Newest Alumni From The University Of California’

University of South Carolina President Robert “Bob” Caslen called graduates at a Friday commencement ceremony “the newest alumni from the University of California.”

“It’s now my honor and privilege to officially congratulate you as the newest alumni from the University of California,” Caslen said at the end of a nearly three hour ceremony.

The moment, which was caught on video and recorded by USC, is circulating on social media.

Some in the graduating class laughed. Others at the ceremony jeered. One person on a video can be heard saying “What?” in a confused tone. The university president apologized seconds later and corrected himself after someone on the stage let him know about the error.

Caslen, an Army general, told the gathering “I owe you pushups” after using the incorrect name.

“The president speaks at 15 separate ceremonies all across the state during spring commencement season, congratulating thousands of University of South Carolina system graduates,” said USC spokesperon Jeff Stensland. “It’s a joyous time for our graduates, their families and the entire university community. President Caslen apologizes for accidentally saying ‘California’ instead of ‘Carolina’ at the end of last night’s ceremony and regrets any attention it may have drawn from the accomplishments of our graduates.”

The 2021 Class of USC has had graduation activities all week, culminating in Friday evening’s commencement. Another commencement occurred on Saturday morning and another is planned for Saturday evening.

USC has over 35,000 students.

A California school and the University of South Carolina have clashed in the past. In 2009, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office determined the term “USC” belonged to the University of Southern California. Carolina sued, but the courts sided with Southern California, according to an article from the Los Angeles Times.

Source: The State

The Dual Album Design Of Kendrick Lamar’s Major Label Debut Offers A Glimpse Into An Alternative Future

The two albums’ early 90s photographs are highly personal to Lamar, but have a familiarity to the beholder as well

In 2012, good kid, m.A.A.d city brought hip hop’s finest new storyteller to the attention of the masses. Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut tells the story of a kid growing up in Compton, Los Angeles, circumnavigating the pitfalls of gang life, whether by accident or design. The cover art meanwhile provides two stories, perhaps offering us a glimpse into an alternative future. 

It’s a cinematic roman-à-clef that comes at you out of sequence—memory isn’t linear, after all—and the two photographs chosen for two editions of the album conjure up different but connected memories from the immediate past: one is a family scene from a kitchen, and the other, a van sitting in the driveway of Lamar’s old house. While personal to the artist, these pictures from the early ’90s have a familiarity to the beholder too, even if they’re not our own memories.

Exhibit one, for the initial 12-track release, is a picture we’re to assume is of the baby Kendrick surrounded by three older figures who may be relatives. According to Marcus J. Moore’s excellent new biography The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited The Soul Of Black America, that is indeed Lamar in diminutive form, with two teenage uncles and his grandfather sitting to his left. In an interesting visual twist, the eyes of these other figures are blacked out with identity-obscuring oblongs, while the toddler—who you’d expect to be the protected party here—stares into the lens. A few years after this photo was taken, Kendrick, aged just five, would witness a teenage drug dealer gunned down before his eyes, and the year before, he’d seen mass rioting in the streets following the infamous attack on Rodney King by LAPD officers. 

On closer inspection, the photograph is communicating dangers via signifiers, such as a bottle of alcohol sitting on the table—something he’ll addressed on ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)”; meanwhile, the uncle whose lap young Kendrick is sitting on is throwing a surreptitious gang sign with his left hand. Potential downfalls are hiding in plain sight in a picture as symbolically rich as Holbein’s The Ambassadors. “That photo says so much about my life and about how I was raised in Compton and the things I’ve seen,” said Lamar. 

Exhibit two, mounted on the cover for the deluxe version of good kid, m.A.A.d city, is not as easy to read. Lamar’s mother’s van, parked on the street in front of their family home, appears on the cover, shot through a fisheye lens. Intriguingly, while this photo offers less in the way of visual portents, the house itself has become a shrine to fans. Type “Good Kid M.A.A.D City House” into Google Earth and you’ll find the rapper’s childhood home in Compton, and pictures of fans assembled outside like they’re at Graceland. Furthermore, scrawled under the battered Chrysler are the words “a short film by Kendrick Lamar,” adding to the hauntological vibrations.  

“I fought not to have that on the cover!” says designer Don Clark on a Zoom call from his Seattle office. Clark set up the design agency Invisible Creature with his brother Ryan in 2006. “At the beginning I felt a photo of a minivan wasn’t worthy of an album cover, but I’m not always right. Because then his art creates this thing that becomes greater than any of us. That’s the sweet spot I love when working with other artists, when it takes on a life of its own.” 

Clark was initially reluctant to talk about good kid, m.A.A.d city because of his lack of conceptual input into the design. Invisible Creature took 4×6 photos supplied by Lamar and scanned them, adding crease marks to the corners to give the packaging a more distressed appearance, and then superimposed the pictures onto various textures until they found a background that most resembled an old Polaroid. But otherwise, the direction all came from Lamar himself. Within the space of a five-minute conference call, the musician, who was just making a name for himself at the time, had laid out exactly what he wanted in fine detail. His objectives were clear for every inch of good kid, m.A.A.d city, visually and audibly.

There are ten polaroid photos laid out across the deluxe gatefold edition, again all chosen in sequence by Lamar. Clark also disapproved of the graffiti-style font at the base of the sleeve, but he’s willing to concede that that cover has become a fan favorite, and that it has an enigmatic quality, too: mystery, after all, is in short supply these days as cover art becomes utilitarian and avatar-like, a one inch box on a tiny smartphone screen to click on or swipe away. 

The alternative 12-track cover still makes more sense to Clark though, and a couple of serendipitous details add to its ability to communicate: the Parental Advisory sticker is analogous to the photo’s message, and use of the black strips across the eyes of the adults was actually at the insistence of the label. “That was more of a legal thing,” says Clark. “Interscope and the family wanted to do that to obscure their likenesses.” 

Other than obfuscating the identities of the grownups in the room, Interscope was happy to allow their new signing complete artistic freedom to unleash his vision, a gamble that obviously paid off given that Kendrick Lamar is one of the most acclaimed rappers of all time, a state of affairs that really began with good kid, m.A.A.d city

“From the beginning they let him do what he wanted,” says Clark. “He was also [Dr.] Dre’s guy and I think that had a lot to do with it. That’s another amazing thing about him in that he doesn’t care what people will think and his art speaks for itself, and I appreciate that audacity.”

Source: AIGA Eye On Design

After Being Cut Twice, Atlanta Falcons Kicker Younghoe Koo On Track To Make First Pro Bowl

Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo is having an outstanding 2020 season and looks to be on track to make his first Pro Bowl.

Thus far, Koo has converted on 96 percent of his kicks, making 24 out of 25 field goals. He’s a perfect 5-for-5 on his attempts from 50 yards or more, trailing only Jason Sanders of the Jets.

Koo joined the Falcons in 2019 after the team parted ways with long-time veteran, Matt Bryant. Koo went 23-for-26 the rest of the way and made it a point in the offseason to become more consistent with his kicks.

That hard work looks to be paying off for Koo, as for the 26-year-old leads all NFC kickers in Pro Bowl voting.

Source: The Falcons Wire

Mississippi Approves New Flag Design – Had Been The Last State In The Country To Feature An Image Of The Confederate Battle Flag

The new design, which includes a magnolia blossom, was selected by a state commission in September to be put on the November ballot. The final decision came down to the magnolia image and the “Great River Flag,” which featured a shield with white and red stripes and a symbol representing the Mississippi River.

The flag featuring Confederate imagery was officially retired in June after protests against racial injustice and police brutality led numerous states to reckon with the history behind such symbols.

“Our flag should reflect the beauty and good in all of us. It should represent a state that deserves a positive image,” Rocky Vaughan, designer of the magnolia flag, said in a statement in September.

“The New Magnolia Flag represents the warmth and strength of the good people of Mississippi. Now is the time we show the world that we’re from Mississippi, the Magnolia State,” he added.

Source: The Hill

LA’s Crispiest Thai Fried Chicken – Family-Run Anajak Thai Approaching 40th Year Of Business

For almost forty years, family-run Anajak Thai has kept their lights on by serving thousands of the pad thais and green coconut curries that most Americans know to be Thai fare. But there’s a specialty dish from the Nakhon region in Southern Thailand that’s gotten the menu’s top marks, and that’s simply their crunchy, juicy Thai-style fried chicken. Sprinkled with shallots and served alongside sticky rice and sweet, spicy chili sauces, Anajak’s piping-hot crispy-skinned chicken brings us in for a closer look at what makes this dish such a fan favorite.