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U.K., E.U. agree to new divorce deal in key Brexit breakthrough

5 0 17 Oct 2019

LONDON — The U.K. and European Union announced Thursday they had agreed to a new Brexit divorce deal, a potentially key breakthrough ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline for Britain to leave the bloc.

However the deal must still be ratified by European leaders and lawmakers in the British Parliament.

And getting the support of U.K. lawmakers appears a particularly onerous task for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is set to put his deal to a rare weekend vote in the House of Commons on Saturday.

The Democratic Unionist Party — a Northern Irish group who have acted as allies to Johnson’s Conservatives — told NBC News on Thursday that they would not be supporting the plan in its current form.

“As things stand, we could not support what is being suggested,” a DUP statement said before the deal, citing disagreements over trade, taxes, and their ability to opt-out of certain parts of the arrangement. After the announcement, a spokesperson said that “our statement still stands from this morning.”

Losing the DUP’s support will make getting the deal through Parliament even harder.

Johnson needs the DUP’s backing because his Conservative Party do not have enough parliamentary seats to govern alone. Now he may have to look to moderate Conservatives — several of whom were kicked out of the party for opposing his Brexit strategy — and even members of the opposition Labour Party.

Before any of that, however, the deal will need approval from a summit of the European Council — which comprises the leaders of each E.U. member state — that kicks off in Brussels, Belgium, later on Thursday.

The possible breakthrough came after negotiators from the U.K. and Europe have been hunkered down in talks inside Brussels’ imposing, modernist Berlaymont building.

Both sides hope that the deal, which looked unlikely just days ago, will break the deadlock that has paralyzed British politics since the country voted to leave the E.U. in a June 2016 referendum.

Johnson has staked his leadership on a promise to leave the E.U. on the current Oct. 31 deadline with or without a deal.

But rebel lawmakers passed a law forcing him to seek an extension if a deal had not been agreed by next Saturday, in an effort to prevent a “no-deal Brexit” that could have devastating consequences for the country.

At this weekend’s parliamentary session, the prime minister will likely need to convince some of his opponents that his Brexit plan is better than the alternatives: Keep delaying the process, risk crashing out of the union without a deal at all, or cancel Brexit altogether.

The prime minister has already been dealt a series of defeats in Parliament and saw his efforts to shut it down in order to force through his hardline Brexit plans ruled unlawful by the U.K’s Supreme Court.

His predecessor Theresa May failed on three occasions to win support for a deal she had agreed with the E.U., leading her to resign earlier this year.

Vatican announces wearable eRosary smart device and app for guided prayer

5 0 17 Oct 2019

The Vatican announced Tuesday that it launched a wearable smart device that connects with an smartphone app for guided prayer.

The “Click to Prayer eRosary” is a device targeted to young people as a tool to educate about praying the rosary, according to the Vatican News, the church’s official communication channel. It’s a wearable device in the shape of a cross that syncs to a free app that tracks a user’s progress.

The device is activated by making the sign of the cross and will keep track of a user’s rosary progress.

“When activated, the user has the possibility to choose either to pray the standard rosary, a contemplative Rosary and different kinds of thematic rosaries that will be updated every year,” the Vatican News said.

“Click to Prayer eRosary” is a project under the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, a network focused on “mobilizing Catholics through prayer and action,” according to the Vatican.

The device has a “smart cross” which can be worn as a bracelet with ten consecutive black agate and hematite rosary beads that wrap around the wrist. It’s currently for sale online at Acer’s Italian website for about $110.

“The project brings together the best of the Church’s spiritual tradition and the latest advances of the technological world,” the Vatican News said.

A bomb cyclone is heading towards the Northeast with winds up to 55 mph

5 0 17 Oct 2019

The Bronx Bombers gave way for a “bomb cyclone” that’s dropping on the mid-Atlantic.

An unseasonably strong Nor’easter is set to bring high winds and drench the New York-to-Boston corridor Wednesday afternoon and night, forcing the American League playoff game between the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros to be called off hours before the first pitch.

Meteorologists are forecasting this storm to go through “bombogenesis,” meaning it will drop 24 millibars in pressure in 24 hours, leading to a “bomb cyclone.” These systems are typically characterized by intense winds, heavy rain and dangerous surf.

Wind gusts of up to 40 mph were expected in New York City on Wednesday afternoon and evening, along with up to 2 inches of rain, forecasters said.

“Heavy rain and gusty winds are in the forecast for this afternoon through tonight,” the city’s Department of Emergency Management said in a statement late Wednesday morning. “High winds can cause flying debris, and downed trees and power lines.”

Utility company Consolidated Edison said it was ready to handle any power outages caused by the weather in and around the city.

Meanwhile in Boston, up to 3 inches of rain was expected between late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning with wind gusts of up to 55 mph.

The Yankees and the Astros were supposed to play Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at 8:08 p.m. Thursday in the Bronx before the cancellation was announced at about noon.

Now, Game 4 will be pushed back to Thursday at 8:08 p.m., while Game 5 was rescheduled for 7:08 p.m. Friday, the team announced.

Houston leads the best-of-seven series, 2-1.

Video shows hundreds of birds crashing into the NASCAR Hall of Fame building

8 0 17 Oct 2019

Hundreds of birds crashed into the side of the NASCAR Hall of Fame building in North Carolina, leaving the majority of the animals dead or severely injured.

A video posted to Facebook showed a flock of birds scattered across the ground after apparently making impact with the building in uptown Charlotte on Tuesday evening. Carolina Waterfowl Rescue identified the birds as Chimney Swifts, a species that nests on vertical surfaces in dim and enclosed areas.

Of the estimated 310 birds that crashed against the building Tuesday, about a third were dead on arrival and another 10 were euthanized, according to the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue’s Facebook page. Another hundred birds required further medical treatment for broken wings, legs or other fractures.

It appeared that the remaining birds were merely stunned, the rescue group reported.

The group emphasized that losing hundreds of these birds is horrible as the populations are already in decline as they lose nesting sites.

“Chimney swifts are aerial insectivores and require hand feeding lots of worms,” the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue wrote. “It’s an expensive endeavor but these birds are an incredible contributor to our eco system and eat hundreds of mosquitos a day.”

The NASCAR Hall of Fame thanked the rescue along with other city organizations for their response in a statement obtained by NBC affiliate WCNC.

“We are saddened by this very unusual and unfortunate event, and are very appreciative of the professionalism and response of our City partners who assisted last night,” the statement said. “Animal Control has confirmed there are not any health issues that might affect the public, our guests or employees.”

To answer the many questions on their Facebook page about why the birds crashed into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Carolina Waterfowl posted a link from Cornell University explaining that birds flying at night can be attracted to light shining through windows.

A vast heat wave is endangering sea life in the Pacific Ocean. Is this the wave of the future?

5 0 17 Oct 2019

A vast region of unusually warm water has formed in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, and scientists are worried that it could devastate sea life in the area and fuel the formation of harmful algal blooms.

The broad swath of warm water, now known as the Northeast Pacific Marine Heat Wave of 2019, was first detected in early June. Now data from weather satellites and buoys show that it spans more than 600,000 square miles, or six to seven times the size of Alaska.

Given its size and location, the marine heat wave rivals a similar one that arose in 2014 and persisted for two years. That heat wave, known simply as “the blob,” occupied roughly the same region of the Pacific and became known for triggering widespread die-offs of marine animals including sea birds and California sea lions.

“The moms were going out to get food, but when they couldn’t find anything, they swam off and the babies were just left dying,” Andrew Leising, an oceanographer at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California, said of the sea lions and their inability to find enough squid and fish to feed on.

“This year is most similar to 2014, and that was just the beginning of that last big heat wave,” Leising said. “We saw the maximum impacts in 2015, so it’s possible that next year we’ll be in for some really strong impacts.”

The marine heat wave formed as a result of a stubborn ridge of high pressure that lingered over Alaska this summer, which in turn resulted in unusually light winds over the Pacific.

“When you don’t have too much wind, warm temperatures can build up near the surface as a result of just the sun shining down on it,” said Gregory Johnson, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

Leising and Johnson agreed that more research is needed to understand what role climate change may play in the formation of marine heat waves. But it’s unusual for two such big events to occur in a relatively short timespan, according to Leising. “We’ve never had this before,” he said. “This is new.”

It’s likely that global warming will exacerbate heat waves in the future, given the excessive amounts of heat that oceans have absorbed in recent years, Johnson said. “From 1993 to 2018, the ocean has taken up heat at a rate of 350 terawatts — equivalent to five Hiroshima bombs a second exploding continuously from 1993 to the present,” he added.

With this trend of overall warming, climate change will likely make marine heat waves more intense and more frequent, said Nick Bond, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“It’s easier to have a heat wave if you’re already starting with a higher base temperature,” Bond said. “If the floor is raised, it’s much easier to jump up and touch the ceiling.”

The current marine heat wave extends to an average depth of about 65 feet, with some parts of the Gulf of Alaska having elevated temperatures as far down as 260 feet. In comparison, the blob reached depths of 1,000 feet in some areas.

The extent of the warm water and how deep into the ocean it penetrates have enormous implications for marine life. Sea birds and sea lions may have been some of the most obvious victims of marine heat waves, but the negative consequences of unusually warm water can be seen throughout the marine food chain — from plankton, the tiny organisms that form the foundation of the food chain, to whales.

“Plankton that live in colder waters are generally fattier and more nutritious, so when the water warms up and species composition shifts, creatures higher in the food chain — sea birds, salmon, marine mammals — that rely on that fatty base of the food chain all suffer,” Johnson said.

Marine heat waves can also trigger overgrowths of microscopic algae, and these so-called algal blooms can be harmful to humans and animals. In 2015, commercial fisheries along the Pacific Coast were severely affected by a bloom that rendered fish and shellfish in the area unsafe for human consumption.

Bond said there have already been reports of algal blooms off the coast of Washington state tied to the current heat wave.

Scientists will be closely monitoring how the heat wave evolves over the coming weeks and months, and Bond said there have been signs that it has backed off slightly over the past month.

“There’s strong consensus in our climate models that it’ll decrease some,” he said. “What we’re still trying to hash out is the ecosystem’s response and what makes more of a difference: an extended, slightly warm period or an intense but shorter event.”

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Judge denies Alan Dershowitzs motion to dismiss Epstein-related defamation suit

6 0 17 Oct 2019

Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre can move forward with her defamation lawsuit against lawyer Alan Dershowitz, but she’s going to need a new attorney, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Dershowitz, a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School and a former lawyer for Epstein, has been embroiled for years in the child sexual abuse scandal surrounding the wealthy financier who died by suicide in August.

Giuffre, one of Epstein’s earliest and most prominent accusers, filed the defamation suit against Dershowitz in April.

The suit alleges that she was a victim of sex trafficking and abuse by Epstein from 2000 to 2002, beginning when she was 16 years old. Guiffre claims Dershowitz “was also a participant in sex trafficking, including as one of the men to whom Epstein lent out Plaintiff for sex,” and that Dershowitz falsely claimed she had fabricated the accusations.

Dershowitz has adamantly denied the allegations and filed motions to dismiss the case and to disqualify Giuffre’s lawyers from representing her. He claims that she conspired with her lawyers at the firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP to extort him.

But Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled Wednesday that the case would continue, stating that “Giuffre has pled sufficient facts” to defeat Dershowitz’s motion to dismiss. Preska ruled in Dershowitz’s favor on a second motion he filed — that Giuffre could no longer be represented by lawyers from Boies Schiller Flexner LLP due to the likelihood that lawyers from the firm will be called as witnesses in the case.

The case hinges in part on Giuffre’s claim that Dershowitz defamed her by saying she and lawyers at Boies Schiller Flexner attempted to extort him.

“The defamation case against Alan Dershowitz is going forward and he will have to face justice,” Sigrid McCawley, one of Giuffre’s lawyers at Boies Schiller Flexner, said. “The decision, however, to disqualify our firm, which has had the privilege of representing Virginia and advocating for her brave voice and continued call for justice, is deeply disappointing and it will be promptly appealed.”

Dershowitz released a statement saying he was pleased that the firm led by prominent attorney David Boies has been “disqualified.” He said he plans to call Boies “as a major witness to prove — in Boies’ own recorded words — that his client is ‘wrong … simply wrong’ in accusing me.”

According to the judge’s ruling, Dershowitz also provided the court transcripts of a conversation between himself and Boies.

The judge cited the transcript in her ruling saying that if Giuffre’s current attorneys weren’t disqualified, they would be in the unusual position of having to question their own colleagues, including Boies, about conflicting evidence and testimony in the case.

The case is now headed to trial, though Giuffre will need new representation. Dershowitz told the court his legal team plans to call multiple lawyers from Boies Schiller Flexner as witnesses to prove the extortion happened. Giuffre’s attorneys at the firm maintain that the conversation transcript was taken out of context and that nothing improper occurred.

Giuffre, who lives in Australia, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Democrats angrily walk out of White House meeting after Trump meltdown

7 0 16 Oct 2019

WASHINGTON — Democratic leaders in Congress on Wednesday angrily walked out of a White House meeting with President Donald Trump after he had a “meltdown,” according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown. Sad to say,” Pelosi told reporters outside the White House with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The President started the meeting with a lengthy bombastic monologue, according to a senior Democratic aide. He bragged about the “nasty” letter he sent to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the Turkish leader’s decision to invade northern Syria, the aide said.

The meeting quickly devolved into a series of contentious exchanges centering on the president’s decision earlier this month to pull troops from Syria, which paved the way for the Turkish invasion. The White House called the meeting to discuss the president’s decision and the deescalating situation on the ground. Ahead of the meeting, the House overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution rebuking Trump’s decision to pull troops out in a 354-60 vote.

“I think that vote, the size of the vote — more than 2 to 1 of the Republicans voted to oppose what the president did — it probably got to the president, because he was shaken up by it,” Pelosi said. “That’s why we couldn’t continue in the meeting because he was just not relating to the reality of it.”

At one point during the meeting, Schumer brought up former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Trump’s decision to pull troops from Syria could lead to ISIS’s resurgence.

According to multiple aides, Trump called Mattis, “the world’s most overrated general.”

“You know why?,” Trump said, according to one aide. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”

In another heated encounter, Pelosi challenged Trump on Russia’s involvement in Syria, saying “All roads with you lead to Putin.”

The Democratic leaders said that the moment that prompted them to abruptly leave was when Trump called Pelosi “a third-rate politician” to her face.

According to the senior Democratic aide, Hoyer stated, “This is not useful.”

Pelosi and Hoyer then stood up and left the meeting, the aide said.

As they left said, Trump shot back, “Goodbye, we’ll see you at the polls.”

Schumer followed shortly thereafter.

“He was insulting, particularly to the speaker,” Schumer told reporters later on Wednesday. “She kept her cool completely. But he called her a third-rate politician. He said that there are communists involved and you guys might like that. I mean, this was not a dialogue. It was sort of a diatribe — a nasty diatribe not focused on the facts, particularly the fact of how to curtail ISIS, a terrorist organization that aims to hurt the United States in our homeland.”

Hoyer echoed those remarks, saying that the meeting “deteriorated into a diatribe” and that they were “deeply offended” by the way Trump treated Pelosi. He said that after serving in Congress over the course of six presidential administrations, he has “never” seen a president “treat so disrespectfully a co-equal branch of the government.”

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham denied the Democrat’s characterization of the meeting, saying, “The President was measured, factual and decisive, while Speaker Pelosi’s decision to walk out was baffling, but not surprising. She had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues. While Democratic leadership chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine, everyone else in the meeting chose to stay in the room and work on behalf of this country.”

Trump later tweeted a series of photos from the meeting, including one that he labeled, “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown.” Pelosi later made the image her cover photo on Twitter.

Republicans, who stayed behind in the meeting, spoke to reporters afterward. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said that Pelosi stormed out of the room, calling it “unbecoming” of the speaker.

“It’s very disappointing to see the Democratic leadership walk out of this meeting,” he said.

“When there is a time of crisis, leaders should stay” whether they like what they’re hearing or not, he added.

When NBC News asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about Trump’s criticism of Pelosi and the meeting more broadly, he said, “I didn’t have anything to say in the meeting, and I don’t have anything to say about it now.”

The dramatic meeting comes amid the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry. Democrats on Wednesday said that impeachment did not come up during their conversation with the president.

The episode was reminiscent of the White House meeting Trump held with congressional leaders in May on the nation’s infrastructure, during which Pelosi said that Trump threw a “temper tantrum” and “stormed out” of the room. Trump said at the time that he would only work with Democrats if they stopped investigating him.

Hallie Jackson, Peter Alexander and Frank Thorp V contributed.

Dont be a tough guy: Trumps extraordinary letter to Erdogan

5 0 16 Oct 2019

President Donald Trump wrote Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan an extraordinary letter warning him not to be “a tough guy” or “a fool” as his forces launched their attack on northern Syria, a White House official confirmed to NBC News.

“Dear Mr. President,” the Oct. 9 letter began, “Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will.”

Trump then referred to economic sanctions his administration used on the country to push for the release of an American pastor who’d been locked up in Turkey, calling it “a little sample” of what could be in store.

“I have worked hard to solve some of your problems. Don’t let the world down. You can make a great deal,” Trump wrote, asserting that the commander of the Kurdish forces is “willing to negotiate with you.”

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Trump wrote to Erdogan. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!”

“I will call you later,” the letter concludes. It’s signed, “Sincerely, Donald Trump.”

The letter was first reported by Fox Business Network, and the White House official confirmed its contents.

Trump is apparently proud of the missive — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the president handed out copies of it during a heated meeting with Congressional leaders on Wednesday.

Republican-turned-independent Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan tweeted a copy of the letter, and said, “This is insane.”

The letter was written the same day that the Turkish military began attacking Kurdish forces that had been allied with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS terrorists. That assault was launched after Trump told Erdogan he’d pull American forces who’d been protecting the Kurds out of the area, a decision that was immediately met with bipartisan condemnation.

Trump insisted to reporters at a joint press conference with Italy’s president on Wednesday that he had not given Turkey a “green light” to attack, but a statement issued by the White House on Oct. 6 — three days before Trump wrote the Turkish leader — made clear the U.S. was getting out of the way.

“Today, President Donald J. Trump spoke with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey by telephone. Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” the White House statement said. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”

Harry Dunns family rejects Trumps bombshell offer to meet Anne Sacoolas

9 0 16 Oct 2019

The family of a British teenager killed in a wrong-way crash involving the wife of an American diplomat said President Donald Trump dropped a “bombshell” during a meeting at the White House, revealing that the woman was waiting to meet them in the room next door.

Harry Dunn, 19, was killed after his motorcycle was hit by Anne Sacoolas, who admits driving on the wrong side of the road near a British military base used by the United States.

Sacoolas, 42, whose husband is an American diplomat assigned to the United Kingdom, said she cooperated with the police but flew back to the U.S. three weeks later.

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The case has sparked a transatlantic dispute about whether she still has diplomatic immunity from prosecution.

Harry Dunn’s parents say they want justice for their son.Courtesy of the Dunn Family

Dunn’s parents want Sacoolas to return to the U.K. to face trial, and they have traveled to the U.S. to find answers. But during a meeting with Trump at the White House on Tuesday, they said the president made what they considered a shocking and inappropriate offer.

“The bombshell was dropped not soon after we walked in the room: Anne Sacoolas was in the building and was willing to meet with us,” Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, told reporters in Washington afterward. “We made it very clear that as we’ve said all along … we would still love to meet with her but it has to be on our terms and on U.K. soil.”

Mark Stephens, a lawyer for the Dunn family, told Sky News on Wednesday the plan of the Trump team was to set up the meeting and then “bring in the press corp to show it was all happy families.”

“Unfortunately, that was a gargantuan miscalculation,” he said, describing the way the meeting was proposed as “so wrong.”

Stephens also described Sacoolas as a “fugitive from justice.”

Dunn’s father, Tim Dunn, had said earlier that Trump was “very gracious and respectful” throughout the meeting, holding Charles’ hand at one point and promising her he would seek a solution. “He was understanding and I think he genuinely will look to try and resolve this,” he said.

But Charles, the teenager’s mother, said the meeting ultimately went “round in circles” as Trump and his team tried to get the family to “accept the invitation to meet her [Sacoolas] on their terms which we weren’t willing to do.”

She said that any meeting would need to involve “therapists and mediators in the room and not just her and us. I wouldn’t imagine that’s even advisable for her, let alone us.”

Tim Dunn said they felt “a bit rushed” and that they “don’t think it would have gone too well” if they had gone through with the president’s plan.

Charlotte Charles and her husband, Bruce Charles, arrive for a news conference in New York on Monday.Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Sacoolas has admitted that she was driving on the wrong side of the road when she hit Harry Dunn on his motorcycle near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire, England.

“Anne was driving on the wrong side of the road and had no time to react when she saw the motorbike approaching — the crash happened too fast,” according to a statement from her family’s legal representative, Amy Jeffress.

She stayed at the scene of the accident but was told by British police that she should go home and that they would call her, Jeffress said. They never did, and three weeks later the family flew back to the U.S.

“The U.S. authorities determined that it would be difficult for the couple and their children to remain in the small Croughton community under these tragic circumstances,” Jeffress said.

Trump initially ruled out Sacoolas returning to the U.K., but later in the meeting Tuesday he mentioned trying to “push this from a different angle,” Dunn’s mother said.

Comedians death underscores high suicide rate among transgender people

6 0 16 Oct 2019

The death of a comedian who was recently referenced in Dave Chapelle’s Netflix special “Sticks and Stones” has underscored the disproportionately high suicidality rate among transgender people.

“I love you all. I’m sorry,” trans comedian Daphne Dorman wrote on Facebook on Oct. 11. “Please help my daughter, Naia, understand that none of this is her fault. Please remind her that I loved her with every fiber of my being.”

Her sister Becky Kugler confirmed Dorman’s death in the comment section of the post. “I so wish we could all have helped you through your darkness,” Kugler wrote. “We’ll always love you, fly high sweet angel.”

Clair Farley, who is a senior adviser to San Francisco Mayor London Breed and who leads the city’s Office of Transgender Initiatives, said that Daphne was a fixture in the city’s LGBTQ community and taught coding classes through the office’s Trans Code program.

“Daphne was one of the kindest and funniest people in the world. She never let anything get to her and she was always giving back,” Farley wrote in an emailed statement. “She was also an incredible mom to her daughter, she will be missed by many.”

The U.S. suicide rate increased 33 percent between 1999 and 2017, despite falling in many other developed countries, including most of Western Europe, according to CDC data. And while this national trend is worrisome, the suicide rates for transgender and gender-nonconforming people are much higher than the national averages. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 40 percent of adult respondents reported having attempted suicide in their lifetime — almost nine times the attempted suicide rate in the general U.S. population.

A 2018 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that the risks are equally as fraught for trans youth. More than half of transgender male teens who participated in the survey reported attempting suicide in their lifetime, while almost 30 percent of transgender female teens said they attempted suicide. Among nonbinary youth, more than 40 percent stated that they had attempted suicide at some point in their lives.

“We have to make sure Daphne’s story is told with the broader context of how trans people are at a greater risk of dying by suicide,” Bri Barnett, the director of development and communications at Trans Lifeline, a hotline and nonprofit organization offering support to trans people in crisis, told NBC News. “At the same time, her experience is unique, too, and her own experiences in the world contributed to this.”

Barnett added that trans suicide is “not a personal failing,” but rather “the product of a transphobic society that isolates trans people from support and resources and surrounds them with constant messages in the news, movies and sometimes comedy that they are freakish, wrong and unlovable.”

Gillian Branstetter, the media relations manager for the National Center for Transgender Equality, concurred, stating that while the risks of suicide are “complex and varied,” there are common experiences that can amplify the risk for trans people. She said these include alienation and marginalization, lack of systems of support, lack of access to adequate and affirming mental health care and the inaccessibility of information about what it’s like to be trans.

Both Branstetter and Barnett noted there are a number of misconceptions surrounding the disproportionately high transgender suicide rate.

“A lot of the focus has rightfully been on family acceptance, but acceptance at school, extracurricular activities and work also make a difference,” Branstetter said. “Research has shown that doing something as simple as referring to trans people by their chosen name can lower the risks of them attempting suicide. Constantly being misgendered takes a toll on people.”

Barnett said that’s there’s a “failure” to contextualize the material conditions that affect trans people’s mental health, including the fact that trans individuals are more susceptible to experiencing homelessness, harassment and violence.

Approximately 30 percent of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey respondents reported that they had experienced homelessness at some point in their lifetime, and almost half of respondents reported having been verbally harassed or physically attacked in the year prior to the survey.

The current political environment has also negatively impacted trans people’s mental health, according to Barnett. She said calls to Trans Lifeline have increased by 20 to 30 percent every year for the last five years. She attributes this increase both to trans people feeling more comfortable with coming out and trans rights being viewed as a “wedge issue.” The day after a leaked memo from President Donald Trump’s administration announced it would push to define gender solely as male or female, Barnett said the hotline received four times the amount of calls it usually does.

Maceo Persson, the civic engagement and operations manager for the Office of Transgender Initiatives, said the trans community in San Francisco was paying close attention to the Supreme Court as it heard oral arguments last week regarding whether “sex” discrimination includes anti-LGBTQ bias under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“It’s difficult to watch people discuss whether we’re entitled to our rights and humanity,” Persson said. “It’s a difficult time right now in the community and can trigger a lot of responses in folks, so we want to emphasize that there are resources and support for those who need it.”

Some of those resources include the Office of Transgender Initiatives, which launched the first city-funded program in the United States to find trans people work in 2007. Others include Trans Lifeline and The Trevor Project.

“Suicide is the most commonly shared experience in the trans community, and we continue to work to reduce the cost that any one person should have to pay for being themselves,” Barnett said. “There are no easy solutions, but the complexity is not an excuse for inaction.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.

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