Kenya’s top court considers case to legalize homosexuality

Kenya’s High Court began hearing a case that may decriminalize homosexuality.

It’s a significant step in East Africa, where homosexuality is illegal in almost every country in the region and in 38 countries in total across the continent, according to Amnesty International.

“The fact that we are being heard is an indicator that our democracy has come of age,” said Eric Gitari, a Harvard-educated lawyer and founder of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, one of the organizations which brought forward the case in 2016.

The case opened Friday in a crowded Nairobi courtroom. The judges had to change to a different room to accommodate the large crowd.

“The judges know the entire world is watching,” Gitari said.

Kenyan law currently prohibits “carnal knowledge against the order of nature,” labeling it a felony that is punishable with 14 years in prison.

The case argues that this law, which can be traced to British colonial law from the turn of the century, is unconstitutional.

“We are hopeful,” Gitari said. “The judgment is going to give guidance to countries across Africa. It’s going to encourage activists in so many African countries, it’s going create a ripple effect.”

Activists say that laws that prohibit homosexuality lead to the harassment, abuse and discrimination of the LGBT community.

“The case before Kenya’s High Court seeking to decriminalize consensual same-sex conduct is of monumental significance for Kenya and beyond,” Neela Ghoshal, senior researcher in the LGBT Rights program at Human Rights Watch, told CNN.

“A positive ruling would affirm that same-gender-loving Kenyans are just as deserving of equality, privacy and dignity as anyone else. “

“The courageous Kenyan activists and ordinary people who brought this case are a model and an inspiration to LGBTQ people and their allies throughout Africa.”

In 2016, Kenyan courts ruled that forced anal testing of men was constitutional and could be used as evidence in a trial of men accused of homosexuality.

A 2014 parliamentary report found that between 2010-2014, the Kenyan government prosecuted 595 cases of homosexuality.

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Subway starts loyalty program to turn around sales

Subway is launching a new rewards program to win back customers.

Starting next month, customers will be able to sign up for a loyalty program that offers, among other things, $2 off any menu item for every $50 customers spend.

Subway could use a pick-me-up: The sandwich chain’s U.S. sales fell 4.4% in 2017, according to food service research company Technomic.

Subway is a privately-held company, so does not share sales figures with the public.

The new program, which will be offered in all of Subway’s 25,600 U.S. locations and about 2,800 of its Canadian stores, grants users four tokens for every dollar spent.

Once diners get 200 tokens ($50), they’ll receive a $2 reward, which can be applied toward any menu item.

Customers will also get surprises, including free cookies and chips, on their birthdays and as a reward for ordering more.

“It’s important to us that we deliver a seamless, convenient experience to help our customers get what they want when they want it,” said Subway’s Chief Digital Officer Carissa Ganelli in a statement.

The program is part of Subway’s efforts to go digital using its app and in-store kiosks where customers can order and pay with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. The company announced store makeovers last summer.

In 2016, the chain closed more stores than it opened, for the first time in Subway’s history.

— CNN’s Jackie Wattles contributed to this report.

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10 things you didn’t know about Rev. Billy Graham

If you didn’t grow up listening to Billy Graham’s Sunday radio show or watching his TV show — you might not know the ubiquitous Christian televangelist from the WWE wrestler.

Outside of being the “pastor to the presidents,” Graham — who died Wednesday at the age of 99 — was one of the first Christian preachers to harness the power of media to spread his religion’s message.

Here are 10 facts about the man known as the “Protestant Pope”:

1. Billy Graham once preached for more than 100 nights straight

Every night for 16 consecutive weeks, Billy Graham addressed the sold-out audiences in New York’s Madison Square Garden at his so-called New York Crusade in 1957. The event was only supposed to last for six weeks.

2. He’s met with 12 post-war presidents

From Harry Truman to Barack Obama, Billy Graham knew them all — attending the inaugurations of six presidents and delivering the invocations for two: George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

3. He helped George W. Bush stop drinking

In his 2010 book “Decision Points,” former President George W. Bush said he was actually drunk when he first met Graham at his parents’ family home in Maine in 1985. The two talked extensively the next day and later, Graham sent Bush a Bible and that he said helped him to better understand Christianity and change his life.

 

4. He apologized for anti-Semitic remarks caught on tape with President Nixon

In March 2002, tapes were released of private conversations between President Nixon and Graham in 1973, in which Graham joins Nixon in making anti-Semitic remarks. Graham later apologized.

5. His preaching has been heard in nearly every country

Billy Graham’s preaching has been heard in more than 185 of the world’s 195 countries, to 215 million people.

6. More than a million people came to see him on one day

On June 3, 1973, an estimated 1.1 million people attended the final day of a five-day crusade in Seoul, South Korea — the largest single turnout for a Billy Graham rally. More than 3.2 million attended the entire crusade, the largest gathering he’s ever had.

7. Mormonism no longer a “cult” after Romney meeting

After Graham met with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney — a Mormon — at his mountaintop retreat in 2012, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association removed a reference on its website that said Mormonism was a cult. The association’s chief of staff Ken Barun explained that the reference was scrubbed “because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.”

8. He was a registered Democrat

Despite his conservative views, Billy Graham told Katie Couric in 2005 that he was a registered Democrat, adding that it doesn’t determine the candidates he supports. “I’m for whoever the best candidate is,” he said.

9. He’s converted more than 3 million people

While the actual number is unknown, at least 3.2 million people have decided to convert to evangelical Christianity as a result of his preaching, according to William Martin’s book, “A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story.”

10. Preaching kept him away from the birth of his first child

Billy Graham missed the birth of his first child, Virginia, known as Gigi, in 1945 because he was away on a preaching trip. In his autobiography “Just As I Am,” Graham talked about the sacrifices his wife Ruth made raising the couple’s five children. “What I missed!” he wrote. “And what Ruth missed by not having me to help her. Whenever I did get home, I got a crash course in the agony and ecstasy of parenting. If Ruth had not been convinced that God had called her to fulfill that side of our partnership and had not resorted constantly to God’s Word for instruction and to His grace for strength, I don’t see how she could have survived.”

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Borneo’s orangutan population suffering

The number of orangutans on the island of Borneo has more than halved in 16 years, as hunting of the critically endangered species continues and rampant deforestation destroys its habitat, scientists say.

An article published in Current Biology found the population had declined by more than 148,000 between 1999 and 2015, leaving an estimated 70,000 to 100,000 on the Southeast Asian island.

The study projected a further drop of 45,000 from deforestation alone by 2050 if nothing changes, in a grim forecast for the great ape’s future.

Orangutans exist on only two islands — Sumatra in Indonesia and Borneo, which is shared by Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

Indonesia and Malaysia have for decades struggled to curb deforestation and illegal logging, losing swaths of tropical forest to palm oil and paper plantations, as well as mining, destroying crucial orangutan habitat.

The study found, however, that the steepest declines were not from land clearance, but in forests that were fully intact or only partly logged.

“We found that around 70 percent of the total loss occurs in primary forest areas or selectively logged forests, so the only explanation is that they are being hunted by people,” said Serge Wich, a scientist in the team from the Liverpool John Moores University.

The researchers’ findings were based on ground and aerial surveys of orangutan nests in 38 separate populations and satellite imagery.

Wich explained that hunters on Borneo who enter forests in search of pigs and other animals might kill an orangutan if they come across one.

Orangutans are also often forced to pass plantations to move between forested areas and are regularly killed by humans as they do. Some farmers consider them pests that threaten their crops while others shoot them out of fear.

Wich warned that with further declines forecast, orangutan populations would likely be confined to a few small protected national parks if action isn’t taken.

“The first step is that the conservation community and the governments in Indonesia and Malaysia need to really recognize that hunting and killing is a major issue that is going to need a lot of attention very quickly,” he said.

“We need to set up really smart awareness campaigns along with improved law enforcement to try to reduce this. And part of it is also working with palm oil and paper companies to ensure their management allows orangutans to move through plantations without being killed.”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the Bornean orangutan as critically endangered and found its population decreased by more than 60 percent between 1950 and 2010. It projects a 82 percent population drop between 1950 and 2025.

The Sumatran orangutan is also critically endangered, with only 13,846 individuals left, according to the IUCN. A third species, the critically endangered Tapanuli orangutan, was discovered last year in Sumatra with a population of less than 800.

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The phoneless retreat for the broken hearted

At breakup bootcamp, the first house rule is to digitally detox. No phones are allowed.

The intimate gatherings, which average about 14 people per event, are set up to help newly single women “rewire their hearts.” Retreats are held several times a year in upstate New York and Malibu, California.

Launched in 2017, Renew founder Amy Chan’s mission is to help women mend their hearts through a mix of spirituality and science. A team of all female experts, from psychologists and behavioral scientists to energy healers, conduct group and one-on-one sessions.

Also on site: a chef to cook nutritious meals, and zen activities such as alpaca petting, yoga and meditation.

It may sound like a tall order to help people move on from former relationships in one weekend, but Chan said the goal is to teach attendees how behavior may assist or detract from that process.

“After a breakup, some people go into inspector gadget mode trying to find clues and information to fill an insatiable void,” said Chan, a relationship writer and researcher turned entrepreneur. ” But it’s a mental trap. When constantly checking an ex’s Instagram, instead of neural pathways weakening, you’re just strengthening the old bonds.”

“No digital devices are seen,” she said.

On average, adults are spending two hours and 51 minutes on their smartphone every day. Digital connections, like a partner returning a text message or sending an emoji, result in dopamine boosts, and it makes for complications when it comes to severing ties.

“We’re in withdrawal from that dopamine shot,” said Dr. Naomi Arbit, who specializes in positive psychology.

Renew works with experts like Arbit to help women on the retreats heal. She is focused on teaching the women self-compassion.

According to Arbit, the best way to stop the cycle of seeking dopamine boosts from an ex is to “not continually revisit those pathways.”

Chan came up with the concept for Renew after working through her own breakup about five years ago. Since launching the retreats, it has attracted attendees ranging from women in their mid 20s to their 60s.

The retreat costs between $1,500 and $3,000 (pricing varies based on single or shared rooms). Chan plans to launch a scholarship application program for future retreats to make one slot available each time.

SelfHackathon founder Patrycja Slawuta, another expert at Renew, said that eliminating phone usage during the retreat is important to become present with feelings.

“Lack of technology allows attendees to process their emotions and form meaning,” said Slawuta. “[During my session], deeply-held sadness, fear, and aggression started popping up for women.”

Slawuta said Facebook and Instagram are such addictive platforms because “they speak to the primal need of belonging.” Renew can provide an alternative form of connection and a sense of belonging away from the phone, Slawuta added.

“People can have epiphany moments when they go through a profound experience and find the inspiration and commitment to change their lives going forward,” said Arbit. “That’s the hope.”

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