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Inside the crypto restaurant after the crypto crash

When Bored & Hungry first opened in Long Beach in April, the burger joint didn’t just embrace the aesthetics of crypto culture. It was all-in on the digital money part too.

Sure, meme-y references to rockets and bulls dotted the walls, and Bored Apes — those cartoon monkeys that celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Post Malone have touted as six-figure investments — covered the cups and trays. But customers were also offered the option to pay for their meals in cryptocurrency. The restaurant was putting its bitcoin where its mouth was, so to speak.

Not even three months later, in the midst of a crypto crash that has some investors looking for the door, that’s not always the case.

During a lull in the lunch rush one recent afternoon, as a cashier stamped paper bags with the fast-food spot’s logo, twin menus hanging over his head — listing Bored & Hungry’s meat-based and vegan options, respectively — showed prices only in old-fashioned U.S. dollars.

A smashburger: $9.25. Pepper-seasoned fries: $3.50. An ape-themed cup of soda: $3.50.

Missing: any mention of ethereum or apecoin, the two currencies the popup boasted it would make history by accepting as payment.

An employee who declined to give their name said that the store wasn’t accepting crypto payments. “Not today — I don’t know,” they said, declining to clarify how long ago the store stopped accepting crypto or whether that option would eventually return.

Owner Andy Nguyen didn’t respond to repeated emails. Company co-founder Kevin Seo later said the restaurant has shut off its crypto payments system “from time to time” for upgrades but is currently accepting ethereum and apecoin.

With both coins down more than 60% since early April and undergoing double-digit intraday swings, it would be understandable for any business to be reluctant to accept them in lieu of dollars. But utility may also be a factor. At the restaurant’s grand opening, a staffer told The Times that the crypto payments were unwieldy and going largely ignored by customers.

The crypto-themed interior of the Bored & Hungry restaurant.

Restaurateur Andy Nguyen says he paid more than $330,000 for the different ape-themed NFTs that form the basis of his restaurant’s brand.

(Brian Contreras / Los Angeles Times)

Nearly three months later, it was hard to find a patron who cared much one way or the other about the restaurant’s fidelity to the crypto cause.

“Yes, ethereum is a currency in a way where you can exchange [nonfungible tokens, or] NFTs and stuff … but as far as buying food and all that, maybe not,” one crypto-enthusiast diner, Marc Coloma, said as he munched on fries outside the restaurant. “People want to hold on to their ethereum. They’re not gonna want to use it.”

Michael Powers, 46, of Long Beach was less in the loop. He comes to Bored & Hungry a lot — as often as two or three times a week, he estimated — but although the ape-themed signage was what first drew him in, he didn’t know the spot was NFT-themed until his sons explained it to him.

Powers’ one foray into crypto, an investment in the Elon Musk-promoted currency dogecoin, didn’t end well, and he doesn’t plan on trying again. “I’ve had my fill” of crypto, he said — though not of the burgers, which offer an upscale riff on In-N-Out’s “animal style” sandwiches. (The chopped onions and creamy sauce are a nice touch that, incidentally, isn’t subject to wild swings in value or exorbitant transaction fees.)

Another Long Beach local, 30-year-old Richard Rubalcaba, said he bought into ethereum after meeting other crypto investors during the four-hour wait for Bored & Hungry’s grand opening. But on this visit he too paid in U.S. dollars.

“I don’t know how [crypto purchases] would work, with the crash,” he said.

The crypto ecosystem is currently in free-fall, with high-profile companies either taking drastic steps to stave off catastrophe or simply collapsing altogether, while cryptocurrencies themselves plunge in value.

The two e-currencies that Bored & Hungry initially accepted, ethereum and apecoin, are down to about 23% and 17% of their highs over the last year, respectively. Estimates put the entire sector’s worth at less than a third of what it was in early 2022.

Nor have the nonfungible tokens that form the backbone of Bored & Hungry’s brand been immune. A sort of digital trading card series built around drawings of anthropomorphic monkeys, Bored Apes count the likes of Justin Bieber and Snoop Dogg among their owners; some have sold for millions of dollars. Yet they’re now facing the same market pressures as the rest of the crypto economy.

According to the crypto news outlet Decrypt, the cheapest available NFT in the series (that is, the “floor”) has fallen below $100,000 for the first time since last summer, and the project as a whole recently saw its value approximately halved over the course of a month.

That only raises the urgency of getting new buyers into the ape “community.”

The exterior of the Bored & Hungry fast-food spot in Long Beach.

Diners can get meat-based or veggie burgers at Bored & Hungry — but when a reporter asked if cryptocurrency could be used to pay, he was told no.

(Brian Contreras / Los Angeles Times)

One customer — Lindsey, 33, of San Pedro — said she didn’t know anything about crypto but came to Bored & Hungry because she’s a fan of the vegan burger brand it carries. But, she said, the scene at the restaurant made her want to learn more about the ecosystem.

“I’m pretty outside the world of cryptocurrency and all that stuff,” said Lindsey, who declined to give her last name, “so I’m definitely gonna go home and Google that.”

Another local, Nick Jackson, 29, said he’s more into collecting Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards — but added that previous visits to Bored & Hungry prompted him to start researching ethereum and apecoin too.

Jessica Perez, 24, of Gardena doesn’t follow cryptocurrency either but was making a return trip to Bored & Hungry. She and her friends like the burgers, she said: “We rate this up there with In-N-Out, maybe even better.”

Perez doesn’t have any immediate plans to invest in crypto but says she would consider it. The restaurant “is a good way to promote cryptocurrency,” she said.

Perhaps that was what Nguyen was thinking when he spent more than $330,000 on the various ape NFTs on display at his restaurant.

Crypto skeptics have long warned that someone would get left holding the bag when the hype cycle played itself out. Better that bag should contain a burger and fries than nothing at all.

An Israeli Soccer Team’s Success Puts Its Arab Village on the Map

REINEH, Israel — Jamil Bsoul is smiling. The mayor has clearly delivered this line before. But after all that his community’s soccer club has achieved, and in such a short time, that is what makes it fun.

“Before the season started, everyone said we have no chance of staying in the second division,” Bsoul said. “They were right. Because we went up.”

His community’s soccer team, Maccabi Bnei Reineh, did not exist until six years ago. Less than two years ago, in September 2020, it was still a largely unknown club from a small Arab village of 18,000 people near Nazareth, preparing for yet another season in the Israeli fourth division. Now, after three promotions in quick succession, the name Maccabi Bnei Reineh is on everyone’s lips in Israeli soccer.

The team’s success, to the surprise of even the village’s own residents, has put its community firmly on the map.

“This is a tiny place,” said Jamil’s nephew, the team executive Anwar Bsoul. “When people from Reineh went to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, they used to say they were from Nazareth. Otherwise nobody would have understood.

“We had to explain to agents where the club is situated. This has changed now, though, because we became famous. Now people want to talk about Reineh everywhere.”

It is not uncommon to see an Arab team in the Israeli top flight. Bnei Sakhnin has been playing there for the last two decades, winning the State Cup in 2004 and representing the country in the UEFA Cup. Hapoel Tayibe and Maccabi Ahi Nazareth also enjoyed short spells in the first division.

The rise of Maccabi Bnei Reineh has felt even more extraordinary, though, mostly because the club was established in its current form in 2016.

“There was no football in the village for 13 years — in fact, there was no sporting activity at all,” Said Bsoul, a businessman from Reineh who owns a construction company, said. “We wanted to change that, and unite people through football.” He made a small initial investment and became the club’s chairman.

The project started in the fifth division, the lowest in Israel, with a team of local players. Only 10 to 20 fans supported the club back then. When Maccabi Bnei Reineh won promotion after its debut season, it soon found life in the fourth division wasn’t any easier. The club didn’t have a stadium — a problem that needed solving on a weekly basis — and fans usually had to travel to matches with their own generator to have a power supply.

In 2018, Jamil Bsoul, Said’s uncle, was elected mayor of Reineh, and arranged some modest municipal funding to the club. “Football is about togetherness,” Jamil Bsoul said. He encouraged local youths to establish an “ultras” club; it now counts about 350 people as members. “We have the best fans in the country,” Said Bsoul said, claiming that “they are always positive and don’t even curse.”

In the 2019-20 season, Reineh was battling for a second straight promotion when, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Israel’s soccer federation suspended the league season in March, with the team in second place. Only the top club was promoted to the third division, and Reineh’s progress appeared to stall. But when the pandemic’s financial crunch led two third-division clubs to merge, that opened another place in the table. A federation court decided that Reineh should have it.

Initially, playing in the third division seemed like a goal achieved, but Said Bsoul sensed an opportunity. He knew the season would be shorter because of the pandemic, “and thus we could sign better players because there were less months to pay their salaries,” he said.

He suggested that the team approach the condensed season as a chance to dream bigger, to see how high it could climb. Betting on itself paid off: Maccabi Bnei Reineh won promotion, again, to the second division.

“Suddenly we were playing against big, traditional clubs with a huge history,” said Anwar Bsoul, Said’s brother and business partner. “We were a bit frightened that we might have risen too high.”

The team’s budget of 4.5 million shekels (about $1.3 million) was the lowest in the division by some distance. Anwar Bsoul said that meant Reineh could sign only players who had been discarded by other teams. But that had its benefits, too: The recruits, he said, “arrived motivated to prove their worth.”

To prepare for its first season in the second division, Reineh traveled last year to its first training camp outside Israel, in northern Italy. One of its games there was a friendly against Atalanta — a Champions League regular from Italy’s top league, Serie A. When Reineh walked off with a 1-1 tie, Said Bsoul said, “That’s when I understood that we really have a good squad.”

Reineh started the season strong and never relented, eventually securing the latest in its string of promotions. It is the smallest club ever to reach Israel’s top tier.

What awaits will be Reineh’s biggest challenge to date. Its rivals in the 14-team Israeli Premier League not only include the champion Maccabi Haifa, the biggest northern club, which is widely popular in the Arab community, but also major domestic clubs like Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem, whose notoriously racist, Arab-hating ultras once traveled to Reineh — when Maccabi Bnei Reineh was still in the fourth division — to abuse the team and its fans before a cup match.

“They even came to our village and wrote insults on the walls before the game, and then behaved violently during it,” said Basel Tatour, one of the Reineh ultra leaders.

Tatour said his team has become a unifying force in a place where such connections are often fraught. “Thanks to football, everyone in the village got to know each other,” he said of Reineh’s most devoted fans. “We are all friends now. There are 70 percent Muslims and 30 percent Christians, but you won’t know who is who.”

According to the Bsoul family’s vision, this is only the beginning.

A year ago, a soccer academy was established in the village, with 300 children ages 7 to 13 training and playing on a new artificial turf field. Last month, the experienced, Haifa-born coach Yaron Hochenboim was recruited as the team’s sporting director. He will supervise everything on the field, from the grass-roots programs to the senior team.

The next dream is a modern stadium in the village. The team currently plays its home games in a nearby Jewish town, Nof HaGalil, but its ambitions are greater than ever: a 20,000-seat stadium in a village of 18,000 residents, as part of a complex that will also contain facilities for swimming, cycling and track and field.

“I told them how important the club is to our community,” said Jamil Bsoul, the mayor. “It unites everyone, and you can see children, women and elderly coming to watch games and even training sessions. Even my 98-year-old mother became excited and asked to watch the promotion game on TV for the first time in her life.”

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy pledges $25m revamp for Sandringham Hospital

A $25m refurbishment of a hospital in Melbourne’s leafy Bayside has been promised ahead of the state’s next election.

The multimillion-dollar revamp of a hospital in Melbourne’s leafy Bayside has been promised by the Victorian Opposition in a bid to gain voters in the cashed-up area.

Sandringham Hospital, 20km south of the city, provides maternity services, general surgery and operates a 24/7 emergency department.

However, its facilities have been heavily hampered by a backlog of elective surgeries built up through months of suspensions during Covid lockdowns.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the Liberals’ plan was aimed to bolster services for Melburnians in surrounding suburbs.

“Cutting and closing local hospitals is not the way to recover, rebuild and move forward with confidence,” Mr Guy said.

“This commitment is an important part of our plan to fix Victoria’s healthcare crisis and will help give Sandringham the local health services they deserve.”

It comes after the state government considered cutting the emergency department’s opening hours to 12 a day

Eight short-stay post-operative beds have additionally been cut along with the displacement of five full-time nursing staff.

The general surgical unit has also been disbanded and could result in the loss of seven surgeons from the hospital.

Mr Guy’s plan would cost $25m and modernise wards, refurbish maternity facilities and allow the emergency department to stay open 24 hours a day.

Member for Sandringham Brad Rowswell said the upgrades were needed to provide for the area’s medical needs.

“I was born at Sandy Hospital 36 years ago and the place hasn’t changed much since then,” he said.

“Our plan will support critical health services, upgrade facilities for the future and bring the local community together to ensure the Sandringham Hospital can service the next generation of local residents.”

Surgeons at the hospital earlier this year fought a plan to make it a surgical hub due to fears it would lead to delayed patient treatment and medical job losses.

The scheme is part of the state government’s plan to speed elective surgery up to 125 per cent of pre-pandemic levels if it is re-elected in November to clear the system’s backlog.

This would result in an extra 40,000 operations in 2023 and up to 240,000 each year from 2024.

Originally published as Opposition Leader Matthew Guy pledges $25m revamp for Sandringham Hospital

Qatar Airways expands further in South Africa with Airlink deal

Middle-Eastern airline Qatar Airways has signed an agreement with South Africa’s Airlink to expand its operations in South Africa.

The codeshare agreement will offer travellers more choice and improved connectivity between 45 destinations in 12 countries across southern Africa, Airlink said.  The group added that travellers will be able to purchase connecting flights on both airlines using one reservation.

Qatar Airways group chief executive, Akbar al-Baker, said expanding its network will give customers more choice of destinations and flights and contribute to the rapid recovery of travel, which plays an important role in South African economies.

Qatar Airways currently offers direct flights from Doha to Johannesburg 21 times weekly, Cape Town 10 times weekly, and Durban four times weekly.

The international airline has extended its presence in the African market by adding eight new destinations since the start of the pandemic, said Airlink.

The agreement will increase Qatar Airways’ footprint in southern Africa, with improved access to the following destinations:

  • Ggeberha (Port Elizabeth);
  • Hoedspruit;
  • Skukuza; and,
  • George.

Outside of South Africa’s borders, connectivity would be further extended into Africa, namely:

  • Botswana;
  • Namibia;
  • Zambia;
  • Zimbabwe; and,
  • Mozambique.

Airlink added that the new partnership would enable customers to book attractive offers from southern Africa to popular destinations in the U.S. such as New York and Dallas, cities in Europe such as London, Copenhagen and Barcelona, and points across Asia like Manila, Jakarta and Cebu.

“This development is an endorsement of Airlink’s relevance to providing air access to the entire region through our expansive network of destinations, which when considered in conjunction with Qatar Airways’ global reach creates unparalleled connectivity opportunities,” said Airlink’s chief executive Rodger Foster.

The new codeshare flights are available for sales and will commence travel on 6 July 2022, subject to government approval.

Prospective passengers can book their travel with both airlines through online travel agencies as well as with local travel agents.

Recent flight operations

South Africa’s domestic flight capacity has recently been in turmoil.

This follows airline Comair failing to secure the necessary funding to pull it out of financial distress with its business rescue practitioners deeming there no reasonable prospect for the company to be rescued.

As a result, Kulula and British Airways flights have been grounded since early June, leaving domestic airlines such as Airlink, FlySafair and Lyft adjusting to a 40% loss in domestic seat capacity.


Read: One of South Africa’s busiest highways is getting upgrades – what you should know

The Wild History of the Real ‘Only Murders’ Building

Fans of the Hulu series “Only Murders in the Building,” which returns for its second season this week, know the building at the center of the drama as the Arconia, where Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez play an unlikely trio of residents who become amateur sleuths with a podcast. But the Renaissance-style apartment building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan is actually called the Belnord, and it has been making headlines for more than a century.

From the get-go, the Belnord was a newsmaker — an edifice of excess, a home for hyperbole. When it was finished in 1909, covering a full city block at West 86th Street and Broadway, the architect boasted that it was the largest apartment building in the country, and maybe the world. Newspapers, including this one, touted the interior courtyard as the biggest in Manhattan — a half acre of open space, with a garden and a lawn “for a score of children to romp on,” crowned with a bountiful, tiered marble fountain.

They marveled at its capacious rental apartments, 175 of them, each 50 feet deep, stretching from street to courtyard, with interior decoration “in the style of Louis XVI” — pale, painted paneling and “harmoniously tinted silks” on the walls — and the most up-to-date modern conveniences. The refrigerators had ice machines, so no iceman would ever invade the Belnord, as one paper put it. On the roof, each apartment had a private laundry, a low-tech luxury that included a tub, ironing board and clothesline — for the convenience of one’s maid.

It would be its own city, this paper noted, with a population of more than 1,500. Over the years, there were notable tenants: Lee Strasberg, the dictatorial father of Method acting, who was often visited by his shy protégée Marilyn Monroe; Walter Matthau, when he was an up-and-coming theater actor with a young family; the actor Zero Mostel, who played Tevye in the original Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof”; and Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Nobel Prize-winning author, who liked to jog around the courtyard in a three-piece suit.

But by the 1970s, that city was in chaos. The ornate limestone-and-terra-cotta structure was crumbling, the roof was leaking and the plumbing cracked. Ceilings were collapsing. Stalactites, The New York Times reported in 1980, had formed in the basement. The fountain had been broken for years, and the garden was a fenced-in jungle, off limits to residents.

The building’s owner, Lillian Seril, would earn the dubious distinction of being one of the city’s worst landlords: By all accounts, she was both litigious and recalcitrant, refusing to fix even the simplest issues, but energetic enough to sue not only her tenants but also the landlord association that threw her out for not paying her dues. (Tenants recalled buying their own refrigerators and sneaking them in with the help of sympathetic building staff, because Mrs. Seril would not allow their broken appliances to be repaired or replaced.)

The Belnord’s residents, many of whom paid just a few hundred dollars a month for their enormous, house-like apartments, organized and revolted. In 1978, they began what would be the longest rent strike in the city’s history.

For the 16 years that it went on, the Belnord battle was so contentious that one housing court judge declared that the two sides deserved each other, before washing his hands of the case when a settlement he had brokered collapsed. “I’m convinced the tenants and the owner are going to litigate the building to death,” he said. A city official likened the situation to the siege of Beirut.

The battle ended in 1994, when the developer Gary Barnett, who was then only 38, bought the building with a group of investors for $15 million. (As part of the deal, Mrs. Seril insisted on retaining a 3,000-square-foot rent-controlled apartment for herself — at her death, in 2004, she was paying just $450 a month.) A decade later, Mr. Barnett and his company, Extell Development, would build One57, the funnel-shaped, blue-glass skyscraper on West 57th that was the city’s first supertall tower and, in so doing, incur the ire of preservationists, urban planners and civic groups. But in those years, he was a hero. The Belnord was his first Manhattan property, and he would spend $100 million shoring it up.

He made various deals with individual tenants as he attempted to turn the place into a luxury rental building, with some apartments that leased for up to $45,000 a month. For a rabbi and his family who were paying $275 for a 4,000-square-foot apartment, Mr. Barnett bought a house in the New Jersey suburbs. Then there was the penthouse dweller who hankered for the desert: He flew her to Las Vegas to pick out a house with a pool, arranged for its purchase and paid her moving expenses. Other tenants opted to keep their low rents, but agreed to swap their vast, 11-room apartments for smaller ones.

Mr. Barnett once joked that the fountain he had resuscitated at enormous expense — a project that involved disassembling and carting it away for repairs — was the fountain of youth, because nobody ever seemed to die at the Belnord.

“It was a labor of love to restore that building,” he said recently. “But I didn’t really understand what I was getting into. It was quite a picture.”

By 2015, Mr. Barnett was out of the picture, in a deal worth a reported $575 million.

Like everything else at the Belnord, the terms of Mr. Barnett’s mortgage had been problematic, and for a time, after he stopped making the loan payments, the city classified the property as “distressed.” (The calculus of the building’s debt and its rental revenue never quite added up.) And so a new group of investors swooped in — the cast of which kept changing, as various players dropped out because of insolvency, lawsuits and other calamities — to turn the place into a high-end condominium, converting the 100 or so available apartments into showplaces with Italian kitchens sheathed in marble.

Robert A.M. Stern, the architect whose firm handled the conversion, described the process as “a very high-class Botox treatment.”

Prices for the revamped units ranged from about $3.6 million to more than $11 million, although some tenants bought their own apartments at deep discounts. After a rocky start, the condos are now selling briskly, keeping pace with the high-end market in the city, said Jonathan Miller, the veteran property and market appraiser.

And now the Belnord is once again in the limelight, thanks to the Hulu series. John Hoffman, who created the show with Mr. Martin, was delighted and stunned to have scored the place for his production, particularly in the middle of a pandemic. While the atmospheric apartments of Mr. Martin, Mr. Short and Ms. Gomez’s characters were built on a sound stage, the story needed a building like the Belnord, with its grand appointments and panopticon of a courtyard.

“I was obsessed,” Mr. Hoffman said. “I knew we could make something as elevated as that amazing building. It’s a cliché to say that the building itself is a character, but I like the challenge of getting beyond that cliché a bit. What pulls us out of our apartments to meet people? How well do you know your neighbors? Do you only connect when it’s necessary? The ways in which we get pulled together when we live in these spaces is what’s really interesting.”

One Friday evening in early June, Debbie Marx, a Latin teacher and longtime Belnord resident, led a visitor through her unrenovated classic seven, its meandering, book-lined hallways a time capsule from 1959, the year her parents moved in. Her father, Josef Marx, was an oboist and musicologist who had his own music publishing company; her mother, Angelina, had been a ballerina. Ms. Marx moved back into her childhood apartment in the late 1980s, when she was pregnant with her first child and her mother was living there alone. Ms. Marx’s father had died in 1978, a victim, in a way, of the Belnord battle, having suffered a heart attack in the courthouse during a hearing with his fellow tenants.

Ms. Marx recalled growing up in the building — playing handball in the courtyard, which was forbidden by Mrs. Seril, and slipping through the bars of the fence to the off-limits garden, by then a riot of shrubs and trees. She had her own courtyard gang, with Walter Matthau’s daughter Jenny and others, but their transgressions were mild: nicking the hat from a doorman, commandeering the service elevator, dropping the odd water bomb.

“It’s like an archaeological site,” Richard Stengel said of the building. “The further you burrow down, you get a different culture and history.”

Mr. Stengel, the author, journalist and former State Department official, has been a tenant since 1992, when he moved into an apartment that had been charred by a fire and left vacant for years. (If you see Mr. Stengel on MSNBC, where he is a contributor, with a deep red bookshelf behind him, he is broadcasting from his apartment at the Belnord.)

John Scanlon, the wily public relations man who died in 2001, was also a ’90s-era tenant. In those days, Mr. Scanlon was embroiled in another long-running New York City real estate battle: the first Trump divorce. (He was Ivana Trump’s spokesman.)

Like Mr. Stengel, Mr. Scanlon was a member of a Belnord demographic that you might call literary-and-publishing adjacent. He liked to tease Mr. Stengel, who was then an editor of Time magazine, when they collided in the courtyard: “How does it feel to be on the cutting edge of the passé?”

Earlier waves of tenants included Jewish European émigrés, unreconstructed Socialists and scores of psychoanalysts.

“When we moved in, it had the feel of an Eastern European shtetl,” said Peter Krulewitch, a real estate investor who arrived 35 years ago with his wife, Deborah, a retired Estee Lauder executive, and soon formed what became known as the Belnord 18, one of the many splinter groups of building tenants who tried to negotiate with Mrs. Seril. “There were these wonderful aging lefties that had been there for years — and fought Mrs. Seril for years.”

In many cases, those tenants had succession rights for their children. So despite the influx of condo buyers, Mr. Krulewitch said, the Belnord is a city that still — although just barely — has a population more culturally varied than the monolithic moneyed class that has taken over much of Manhattan.

As Mr. Krulewitch put it, “It has been quite an adventure.”

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46 people believed to be migrants found dead in Texas tractor-trailer

The bodies of 46 people believed to be migrants were found in a tractor-trailer in San Antonio on Monday in what appeared to be one of the deadliest human-smuggling incidents in recent U.S. history.

About 5:50 p.m., a worker heard a cry for help and found a trailer with the doors partially open, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said. The worker opened the doors, found “a number of deceased individuals inside” and called police.

Firefighters found a body outside the trailer and several inside in the area of 9600 Quintana Road, in the southwestern part of the city, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said.

First responders described seeing bodies piled on top of one another inside the trailer.

Sixteen survivors — 12 adults and four minors — were taken to hospitals, Hood said.

“The patients that we saw were hot to the touch,” he said. “They were suffering from heat stroke, heat exhaustion. [There were] no signs of water in the vehicle. It was a refrigerated tractor-trailer, but there was no visible, working AC unit on that rig.”

Temperatures in the area were as high as 99 degrees Monday.

Those who survived, mostly young adults, were too weak to get out of the trailer, Hood said.

A spokesperson for University Hospital in San Antonio confirmed the facility was treating two patients in critical condition.

Two of the survivors were identified as Guatemalan, Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said on Twitter. Officials from the Guatemalan Migration Institute and the nation’s consulate in McAllen, Texas, said they were awaiting the identity of those in the truck and could not confirm whether any were Guatemalan.

Three people are in custody, McManus said, but authorities “don’t know if they are absolutely connected to this or not.” The investigation has been turned over to U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, McManus said.

Federal agents responded to a call reporting “an alleged human smuggling event” from San Antonio police, a spokesperson for Homeland Security Investigations told The Times.

Agents arrived at the scene on Quintana Road near Cassin Drive, the spokesperson said, and launched an investigation with the support of the San Antonio Police Department.

Local TV news footage showed San Antonio police blocking a narrow road near railroad tracks. Several ambulances were on scene as authorities surrounded the tractor-trailer.

The tractor-trailer had U.S. license plates, a possible attempt to avoid scrutiny, and is very likely the work of traffickers, Ebrard said.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg called the deaths “nothing short of a horrific tragedy.”

“We know of 46 individuals who are no longer with us who had families, who were likely trying to find a better life, and we have 16 folks who are fighting for their lives in the hospital,” Nirenberg said. “Our focus right now is to try to bring aid to them as as best we can.”

San Antonio City Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia, who represents the area where the tractor-trailer was found, was at the scene late Monday.

“These families, I can’t imagine what they’re going through, not knowing if their family member was one of the ones who passed away,” Garcia said. “All they were doing was trying to come for a better life.”

Smuggling migrants in tractor-trailers is a common practice along the Southwest border.

In 2003, 19 people died after they were abandoned in a trailer at a truck stop in Victoria, Texas. The driver, Tyrone Mapletoft Williams, was convicted and is serving a sentence of nearly 34 years in prison.

In 2017, 10 people died after they were left in a tractor-trailer outside a Walmart in San Antonio. The driver, James Matthew Bradley Jr., was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Last year, 55 migrants who were being smuggled through Mexico died in a tractor-trailer crash near the Guatemalan border.

The number of migrants relying on smugglers has surged in recent decades amid tougher enforcement by U.S. and Mexican immigration authorities after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Migrants now pay as much as $10,000 to smuggling networks that are closely linked to drug traffickers. Rape, kidnapping and extortion along the migrant trail are common.

Harsh border policies, migrant advocates say, have forced those trying to reach the U.S. to take increasingly dangerous risks.

“It’s a policy of death,” tweeted Adam Isacson, a researcher at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights group.

In recent years, U.S. border enforcement has targeted not only economic migrants seeking work but also asylum seekers in search of protection.

Title 42, which former President Trump invoked in 2020 on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19, allows border authorities to immediately expel migrants, even if they say they want to seek asylum in the U.S. Since it was put in place, the U.S. has expelled migrants nearly 2 million times.

The Biden administration sought to lift Title 42 this year, but its efforts were blocked by a judge after 24 states sued. Texas filed its own lawsuit to block the move.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott blamed the deaths of the migrants in San Antonio on President Biden. “They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law,” Abbott said in a tweet.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) tweeted that he had spoken with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas about the the deaths, which were “most likely the victims of merciless human smugglers.”

Federal agents are working to alert the victims’ families, find those responsible and investigate what happened, Castro said.

Mayorkas, meanwhile, tweeted that he was heartbroken by the loss of life.

Times staff writer Molly Hennessy-Fiske contributed to this report.

Hugh McElhenny, Elusive Hall of Fame Halfback, Is Dead at 93

Hugh McElhenny, a Hall of Fame halfback who was known as the King for his thrilling, high-stepping prowess in the football world of the 1950s, first with the University of Washington and then with the San Francisco 49ers, died on June 17 at his home in Henderson, Nev. He was 93.

His daughter Karen Lynn McElhenny confirmed the death on Thursday but did not specify a cause. The Pro Football Hall of Fame also announced the death on Thursday.

McElhenny was a dazzling figure on the field, twisting and turning as he eluded frustrated defenders on his circuitous romps to the end zone.

“Hugh McElhenny was as good an open-field runner as you’ll ever see,” his teammate Joe Perry, the 49ers’ Hall of Fame fullback, once said.

“I was best running up the middle, and Hugh was a great outside runner who would zig and zig all over the place,” Perry, one of pro football’s first Black stars, was quoted as saying by Andy Piascik in “Gridiron Gauntlet” (2009), an oral history of the game’s racial pioneers. “Sometimes he zigged and zagged so much that the same guy would miss him twice on the same run.”

McElhenny was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981. He was also named to the N.F.L.’s all-decade team for the 1950s.

At 6-foot-1 and about 200 pounds, he set a host of rushing records for the Washington Huskies, of the Pacific Coast Conference. As a junior he ran for 296 yards and scored five touchdowns in a victory over Washington State. As a senior, in 1951, he ran back a punt 100 yards against Southern California. He was an All-American for a team that won only three games that season.

By his telling, he was well paid for his collegiate exploits. In an interview with The Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2004, he said that while playing for Washington he had regularly received cash payments and other improper benefits from alumni and team boosters totaling close to $10,000 a year (about $115,000 in today’s money).

“I know it was illegal for me to receive cash, and every month I received cash,” he said. “I know it was illegal to receive clothing, and I got clothing all the time from stores. I got a check every month, and it was never signed by the same person, so we never really knew who it was coming from. They invested in me every year. I was a movie star up there.”

The 49ers selected McElhenny as a first-round draft pick and signed him to a $7,000 contract, which meant that he was getting a pay cut to play pro football.

McElhenny said he got his nickname, the King, from the 49er quarterback Frankie Albert after running back a punt for a 94-yard touchdown against the Chicago Bears in his fourth pro game.

“Albert gave me the game ball and said, ‘You’re now the King,’” he recalled in Joseph Hession’s book “Forty Niners: Looking Back” (1985). (The College Football Hall of Fame compared him to another celebrity known as the King, saying McElhenny was “to pro football in the 1950s and early 1960s what Elvis Presley was to rock and roll.”)

McElhenny was the N.F.L.’s rookie of the year in 1952, averaging seven yards a carry. Two years later, when he averaged eight yards per run, Albert’s successor at quarterback, Y.A. Tittle, and three others — McElhenny and John Henry Johnson at halfback and Perry at fullback — were collectively nicknamed the Million Dollar Backfield for their offensive power. All four were ultimately elected to the Hall of Fame.

McElhenny played in six Pro Bowls, was twice a first-team All-Pro and amassed 11,375 total yards — running, catching passes and returning punts, kickoffs and fumbles — in his 13 years in the N.F.L.: nine with the 49ers, two with the Minnesota Vikings, the 1963 season with the Giants and a final year with the Detroit Lions.

Hugh Edward McElhenny Jr. was born on July 31, 1928, in Los Angeles to Hugh and Pearl McElhenny. He was a football and hurdling star in high school, then played one season at Compton Junior College in the Los Angeles area.

He became a football celebrity at Washington, though the Huskies never made it to a bowl game in his three years there. The payments he acknowledged receiving were part of a wide scandal that led the Pacific Coast Conference to penalize Washington in 1956, along with the University of Southern California, U.C.L.A. and the University of California, Berkeley, over past illegal payments to athletes by supporters.

Following his time with the 49ers and his stint with the Vikings, McElhenny was reunited with Tittle, who had been traded to the Giants by the 49ers in 1961. Tittle took the Giants to an N.F.L. championship game for the third consecutive time in 1963 — a loss to the Chicago Bears — but McElhenny, coming off knee surgery, gained only 175 yards that year and was then released.

He was later part of an investment group that made an unsuccessful bid to obtain an N.F.L. expansion franchise for Seattle, the team that began play as the Seahawks in 1976.

In addition to his daughter Karen, McElhenny is survived by another daughter, Susan Ann Hemenway; a sister, Beverly Palmer; four grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. His wife, Peggy McElhenny, died in 2019.

In the spring of 1965, Frank Gifford, McElhenny’s collegiate rival when he played for U.S.C. and later his Giants teammate, threw a retirement party for him and narrated film clips of McElhenny’s spectacular jaunts, including perhaps his most famous one: the 100-yard punt return for Washington against U.S.C.

McElhenny had ignored his coach’s pleas that he let the football go into the end zone for a touchback, giving Washington the ball on the 20-yard line.

“Our coach, Howie Odell, was running down the sideline yelling, ‘Let it go, let it go!,’” he told The Seattle Times. “All of a sudden he stopped yelling. It was a stupid play on my part, but it worked out.”

McElhenny once said that his running style was not something he was taught. “It’s just God’s gift,” he said. “I did things by instinct.”

Maia Coleman contributed reporting.

Best hidden map feature that will save you money on gas

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Here’s a question that keeps landing in my inbox: “How can I save on gas?” I get it. Every stop at the pump is painful these days. 

Sam’s Club and Costco offer a fuel discount but remember you have to pay that annual membership fee. Tap or click to find out if the savings is worth it

Or maybe you need a reliable way to find the best gas prices near you. It’s frustrating to fill up, then see gas 10 cents cheaper a mile away. Tap or click here for the best app to scout the lowest price

Once your tank is topped off, there are ways to make it last a bit longer. Anyone can do this with the help of a GPS app. 

Algorithms are good at predictions 

If you drive to the same few places most of the time, you likely don’t use your mapping app to tell you how to get there. You may use it to spot traffic and road closures or find a better route.

Traffic isn’t just frustrating; it’s bad for fuel economy, too. Every time you hit the brakes, you use more power to get the car moving again. These burns fuel and reduces your miles per gallon. Driving in traffic also means more idle time and more wear on your brakes and engine components. 

It’s easy to open your navigation app and see the current traffic, but what if you want to see the expected traffic conditions tomorrow or next week? 

Whether you use Apple Maps or Google Maps, you can get pretty accurate traffic forecast for a future date based on what the conditions usually are like on that day and time. Then you can fine-tune your departure time to find the ideal time to hit the road. 

Rising gas prices have sparked a nationwide sticker reaction. 

Rising gas prices have sparked a nationwide sticker reaction. 
(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

RELATED: Private maps alternative when you don’t want Google or Apple tracking you 

How to plan the most efficient route in Apple Maps 

With Apple Maps, you can set a time you want to leave, or an arrival time based on road and traffic conditions. 

Here’s how to see traffic based on your departure time: 

  • Open the Maps app and tap on the Search Maps field.
  • Type your destination and select it from the results.
  • Tap Directions, then tap Leaving Now.
  • Tap Leave at, select a date and time and then tap Done.
  • You can see the traffic, distance, and time for your trip.
  • Tap Go next to your desired route.

You can also set your desired arrival time and see the best time to leave: 

  • Open the Maps app and tap on the Search Maps field.
  • Type your destination and select it from the results.
  • Tap Directions and then tap Leaving Now.
  • Tap Arrive by, select a date and time, and then tap Done.
  • You can see the traffic, distance, and time for your trip and Leave by time.
  • Tap Go next to your desired route.

CAR SMARTS: 7 Apple CarPlay tips that make your drive easier 

Save time and gas using Google Maps 

Google Maps works similarly. You can plan a future trip while the app analyzes predicted traffic, routes, and road conditions along the way. 

Here’s how to set a planned time and date for a trip: 

  • Open Google Maps and tap on the Search here field.
  • Enter a destination and select it from the results.
  • Tap Directions and then tap the three dots button to the right of your location field.
  • Tap Set depart or arrive time.
  • Select Depart at and enter a date and time, then tap Done.
  • You’ll get various route options and details such as time and distance.
  • Select a route and tap Start.

Want to know when you should leave to arrive at a location at a specific time? Here’s how: 

  • Open Google Maps and tap on the Search here field.
  • Enter a destination and select it from the results.
  • Tap Directions and then tap the three dots button to the right of the your location field.
  • Tap Set depart or arrive time.
  • Select Arrive by at and enter a date and time then tap Done.
  • You’ll get various route options, details such as distance, and a recommended time to leave.
  • Select a route and tap Start.

Use Google Maps? There are many valuable features, from finding your car in the parking lot to sending your exact location.  

Animation of rising gas prices.

Animation of rising gas prices.
(istock)

Tap or click here for 10 Google Maps tricks you’ll use again and again

PODCAST PICK: Drone deliveries, digital license plates, $3,700 Walkman 

Want to get your Amazon Prime packages by air? You can if you live in this city. Plus, Netflix officially announced “Squid Game” season two, Sony made a $3,700 Walkman and Webex is introducing seamless Apple CarPlay support so you can take meetings in the car. Oh, and four states approved digital license plates featuring GPS tracking and Dark Mode. I’ve got all the details. 

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player. 

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.” 

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

Price Hikes and Marriage Delays: Egyptian Youth Struggle to get Married Amid Economic Crisis


Price Hikes and Marriage Delays: Egyptian Youth Struggle to get Married Amid Economic Crisis

Photo via flickr

It all started on 21 March. As the Arab world prepared to celebrate Mother’s day, Egyptians woke up content, ready to honor mothers and maternal figures in their lives. To the surprise of many, however, it had not panned out as a day of celebration but as a day of panic. The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) announced the devaluation of the Egyptian pound by 15 percent, with EGP 18.1 for buying and EGP 18.2 for selling, down from EGP 15.6 and EGP 15.7 respectively the night before.

After public speculation and circulating rumors in Egyptian streets, the CBE confirmed people’s fear in an unannounced move, attributing its decision to global inflationary pressures, the Ukraine war, and the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the country is still grappling with a vulnerable economy, this unexpected hit comes six years after the currency float in 2016, which reduced the Egyptian Pound’s value by almost 50 percent against the United States Dollar as part of the country’s economic reforms.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Egyptian economy had continued to suffer, as both countries are considered Egypt’s biggest suppliers of tourists, and its top two importers of wheat.

This created a ripple effect in the economy, forcing prices to soar. Those particularly feeling the pinch? Egypt’s soon-to-be wed.

Photo via Wedding Maps

How did this affect the 103 million-strong population?

Engaged in May 2021, Bishoy Sabry, a senior operations agent at a real-estate company, and his fiancée, had initially planned to get married by September 2022. Today, they hope to get married in April 2023.

“It was a joint decision. We decided that it’s more important for us not to lose our peace by constantly trying to keep up with the price hikes. We realized that we will do what we can, and leave the rest in God’s hands,” Sabry tells Egyptian Streets.

Whether it was the furniture, the electrical appliances, or the construction work for his apartment, Sabry complains the prices differ by the day, and that the couple can barely keep up.

“A few months ago, the cooker that we wanted to buy was priced at EGP 6,400 (USD 341) with a seven-year warranty, then it increased to EGP 7,400 (USD 395), and now it’s for EGP 9,800 (USD 523) with a five-year warranty. That wasn’t all; for a long time, the cooker was not even available in the market,” adds Sabry, voicing his frustration.

As part of the finishing work on his apartment, Sabry was initially told the aluminum work for two windows would cost him EGP 4,000 (USD 213). Today, it will cost him approximately EGP 6,800 (USD 363).

“Two wooden windows were for EGP 2,000 (USD 107), today they cost EGP 3,400 (USD 181), that is without calculating the extra money that I’ll be paying to the carpenter himself, other than the glazing of course.”

Since Sabry was still working on the final stages of the construction of his apartment, from flooring and painting, to facing and plastering, he had no way of buying the furniture early on, which is now about double the price in most stores.

In Egypt, cultural traditions stipulate that couples prepare every bit in their new home, from appliances to furniture, while steering clear of rentals.

“I don’t understand the reason for these constant price increases. I feel like traders take advantage of the situation and keep increasing their prices. Many appliance stores claimed that the products were out of stock or unavailable, so they can sell them later for higher prices. We’ve been witnessing unjustified greediness from the traders and absolutely no reaction from the government to put any limits to their actions,” Sabry argues.

Taking initiative, 33-year-old Sabry approached the Egyptian Consumer Protection Agency (CPA), who he recounts were professional and prompt in their communication. However, their answer was that they had no directives for implementing a forced pricing policy to date.

Having said that, Sabry is not the only groom struggling.

Together with his fiancée, 26-year-old mathematics teacher Nora Atef, 29-year-old accountant, Bvnoty Yacoub, was also forced to postpone his wedding plans for several months due to the rising prices in Egypt.

“We got engaged in February 2022, and we were planning on getting married in October 2022. Now, we are just hoping we get married by May 2023, and hopefully not postpone more than that,” says Yacoub. “The budget that we have was going to cover our expenses, but now it definitely won’t.”

Cost-cutting and reduction of expenses

Recently, Al Azhar Islamic Research Academy launched “Li Taskono Ilayha” (To live in tranquility with them), an initiative that calls for saving the costs of marriage.

The initiative addresses engagement, preparation for marriage, and marriage itself, and ways to cut down on expenses throughout these phases. In addition to its recommendation of canceling travel abroad for honeymoon and canceling the wedding photo session, the initiative advised families to agree on the shabka (a gift from the groom to the bride, traditionally a gold set, and most recently a diamond ring in some cases) according to its value instead of weight, and to postpone purchasing unnecessary furniture items.

“We initially planned to travel abroad for our honeymoon, and we still want to, but we don’t know what the prices will be like closer to our wedding date, and whether it’s going to be feasible for us to travel out of the country or not,” adds Yacoub.

Furthermore, many couples have started to reduce the number of products they choose to buy, postponing or disregarding inessential purchases.

“Although air conditioning (AC) is a main appliance in most homes nowadays, we decided we can buy a fan instead, and upgrade to an AC later on when we have fewer appliances to buy,” says Sabry.

Similarly, Yacoub and Atef chose to postpone purchasing a few items that they considered unnecessary, such as the children’s bedroom, the microwave, and the AC.

The bride’s journey

In addition to buying their wedding dresses, most Egyptian brides are expected to buy new clothes, lingerie, and loungewear prior to marriage.

In the past few years, many brides began resorting to renting their wedding dresses instead of buying them due to unattainable prices which can see certain gowns reach up to EGP 55,000 (USD 2,931). Shops offer numerous renting options for brides, such as first use, where the bride is the first to rent it, and second use, where the dress has been rented before. This is usually the most cost-efficient option.

Photo via The Jakarta Post

In Atef’s case, after one stroll in a few wedding dress shops, seeing the prices, she helplessly decided to “just leave it for now”.

It is popular belief that most Egyptian parents often prefer not to prolong the engagement period, limiting it to a maximum of one year, as they assume that the longer the engagement, the more room it leaves for problems to form between the couple and their families.

“My mom didn’t want our engagement to last longer than a year, but after she witnessed what has been happening, she understood that we have no other option,” explains Atef.

Unfortunately, the current circumstances have forced many young couples to delay their wedding plans, all while hoping they can still eventually get married.

“We love each other so much and we can’t wait to get married, but money is our main obstacle,” concludes Yacoub.

UN Concludes Palestinian Journalist Shireen Shireen Abu Akleh Killed by Israeli Forces


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