Thousands Packed Mostly-Maskless DC ‘Prayer March’ Speech Hours Before Rose Garden Super-Spreader Event

Hours before the Rose Garden event that was attended by a long list of people who have now become infected with COVID-19, thousands of people packed together for a “Prayer March” speech at which few masks were in evidence.

Since President Donald Trump announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for Covid-19 late Thursday night, a growing list of Republicans and individuals from the White House has also tested positive — many of whom attended or covered a Rose Garden event announcing the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, at which most did not wear masks.

The event has become a flashpoint, but as New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi pointed out on Twitter Saturday, there was a much larger event hours before that was attended by at least two people who would later be in the Rose Garden: Vice President Mike Pence and Rev. Franklin Graham.

Video of the event showed sparse mask compliance behind the lectern at which VP Pence spoke.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd

© Provided by Mediaite

Most of the crowd shots were from behind, but those that weren’t also showed very scant mask-wearing.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd

© Provided by Mediaite

a group of people standing in front of a large crowd of people

© Provided by Mediaite

Since Trump was diagnosed, Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence have been tested and found negative for COVID-19.

Watch above via Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

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Rare cheese plant stolen from New Zealand botanical garden ‘could fetch thousands on black market’

A rare indoor plant has been stolen from the Christchurch Botanic Gardens amid a boom in the houseplant industry.

The variegated monstera is hard to come by in New Zealand due to biosecurity laws, making it prized among Kiwi houseplant lovers.

Christchurch plant enthusiast Bridget Rennie told Stuff that even a cutting of the plant could fetch NZ$3,000 (£1,500).

She added: “The leaves are like fingerprints, no two are the same. It’s a very rare, very slow-growing plant. I only know of two people who own that plant.

“I’m angry, I’m disappointed, I’m really sad, every emotion you can imagine.”

Wolfgang Bopp, director of the Botanic Gardens told Stuff that the thief must have been “quite athletic” as they had to have scaled a high safety glass wall to reach the prized plant.

The gardens had begun installing security cameras at the time of the theft, but they were not operational when the daylight theft took place on September 19.

He said that the plant possessed “particularly nice” vegetation.

Mr Bopp added: “The thing I find sad is due to the selfishness of one or two individuals we can no longer share this plant with the public. It was there to be enjoyed.”

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Thousands to honor Ginsburg in DC today; House passes bill to avert shutdown; 4 MLB teams clinch | Nation

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Today is Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. Let’s get caught up.

These non-virus headlines are in the news this morning: Thousands are expected to pay their respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court; the House passed stopgap funding aimed at averting a shutdown; and four MLB teams clinched playoff spots.

Read on for these stories, other top headlines, celebrity birthdays and more.

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Supreme Court Ginsburg

A memorial to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg includes a photograph of the late Justice, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, outside the Harvard Law School library at Langdell Hall, on the campus of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass. 

Thousands expected to honor Ginsburg at Supreme Court

Thousands of people are expected to pay their respects at the Supreme Court to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the women’s rights champion, leader of the court’s liberal bloc and feminist icon who died last week.

Even with the court closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic and Washington already consumed with talk of Ginsburg’s replacement, the justice’s former colleagues, family, close friends and the public will have the chance Wednesday and Thursday to pass by the casket of the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

The sad occasion is expected to bring together the remaining eight justices for the first time since the building was closed in March and they resorted to meetings by telephone. The latest coverage:

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N.J. man accused of ‘house-of-cards-style’ scheme that embezzled hundreds of thousands

A Burlington County man allegedly duped people into paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars by jumping from a fraudulent foreign currency trading scheme to a fraudulent car lease scheme, in a “house-of-cards-style” operation, authorities said.

On Friday, authorities arrested Michael Salerno, 51, of Mount Laurel and charged him with 23 counts of wire fraud and six counts of mail fraud in an indictment, Philadelphia U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said in a statement. Through multiple fraud schemes, Salerno allegedly stole thousands from people by tricking them into paying him for a foreign currency trading business and then by getting to them to pay for car leases, the statement said.

Between September 2016 and November 2018, Salerno ran multiple businesses that each were supposedly trading foreign currencies, the statement said. By lying to clients, Salerno had victims pay advance fees that were usually more than $1,000 to hire him, he said.

Salerno allegedly told victims that if one of his companies were hired, he would give them access to $10 million to use on the foreign currency market. To instill confidence in him and his businesses, Salerno posed as a “sophisticated and successful” businessman, despite having a history of bankruptcy and federal tax charges, according to the statement.

Through his network of fraudulent foreign currency trading businesses, Salerno embezzled more than $300,000 from victims, the statement said.

In 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s office started a criminal investigation into Salerno and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed an injunction against him, the statement said. But Salerno simply moved to the next scheme, the statement said, shifting his efforts to a car lease and loan scheme.

Between May 2018 and December 2019, Salerno ran AccuOne Financial, Inc., a company that claimed to help clients get ride of “unwanted automobile leases,” the statement said. At the same time, the company also claimed to offer automobile leases to people with credit that prevented them from getting a lease.

In order to scam both sets of clients, Salerno would take the cars from the first set of clients, barely making any lease payments, and then gave the cars to the second set of clients, who paid him monthly fees, the statement said.

The clients who wanted to get out of their leases would ultimately end up continuing to make payments, while the other clients would sometimes have cars repossessed, the statement said. In this scheme, Salerno stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from victims, the statement said.

“When Salerno’s foreign currency trading scheme came crashing down around him, he very quickly moved on to an alternative way of swindling people out of their money with car leases and loans,” Williams said in the statement. “The damage done by such corrupt financial schemes can be catastrophic to innocent people’s credit and financial security. We will continue to hold those who commit crimes like the ones alleged here accountable for their misdeeds.”

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Couple give ‘scabby’ bathroom a DIY makeover ‘saving thousands’

A couple have given their ‘scabby’ bathroom a modern makeover – and saved themselves ‘thousands of pounds’ in the process.

It’s their third transformation project during lockdown, having created a cosy garden hangout for £200, a country-style kitchen, and now a bathroom fit for a stylish hotel – which they say was their ‘toughest project yet’.

Ben Wright, 36, and his wife, 37, spent just £600 on completely overhauling their old and tired bathroom using bargain finds from Amazon, The Range, and B&M.

The multimedia designer, who taught himself how to tile on YouTube, said: “Bathrooms are no mean feat. I have a newfound respect for plumbers and tilers after doing the whole thing myself.

“It was arguably the toughest project yet.”

Ben installed a brand new waterfall shower, toilet, and vanity unit, completing the ambitious renovation in less than four weeks.

Posting the impressive results in the DIYOnABudget Facebook group, he added: “Turned my dingy, scabby, little bathroom into a hotel inspired bathroom. I reckon we’ve still saved thousands by shopping around and doing it ourselves!”

a sink and a bath tub: The Wright's family bathroom before the renovation

© Ben Wright
The Wright’s family bathroom before the renovation

a close up of a sink: The process during - which Ben describes as 'no mean feat'

© Ben Wright
The process during – which Ben describes as ‘no mean feat’

“At times, we doubted the decision to do it ourselves. There were hurdles, many of them along the way! Leak after leak!

“The plumbing work hadn’t been touched in over 40 years which meant every time I so much as breathed in the direction of some of the old joins, they’d happily just start leaking! At one point the ceiling collapsed in the room below!

“I’ve picked up many skills in the last six months so it wasn’t a huge deal and wasn’t long before it was patched up. Hugely stressful though!”

a glass shower door: The project took less than four weeks

© Ben Wright
The project took less than four weeks

Ben, who shares his renovations on his dedicated DIY Instagram page, managed to build the vanity unit by sourcing old scrap wood from Facebook Marketplace for free.

The DIY-lover told the M.E.N.: “It feels beyond amazing to have a bathroom we can be proud of and somewhere we can enjoy and relax in.”

He’s written a rough cost breakdown of everything that was bought, as well as where it was purchased from.

Shopping list

Tiles, adhesive, grout, backing boards, edging = £310. Tiles are from Wickes: City Stone, Grey.

Bath taps = £45 – Amazon

Rainfall shower = £26 – Amazon

Bath screen = £10 – Facebook Marketplace

Vanity unit = Free. Built from scrap wood – Facebook Marketplace

Vanity unit handle = £2 – Toolstation

Vanity basin and tap = £15 – Facebook Marketplace

a sink and a white tub sitting next to a window: Ben built the vanity unit with old scraps of wood for free from Marketplace

© Ben Wright
Ben built the vanity unit with old scraps of wood for free from Marketplace

Toilet = £50 – Screwfix

Radiator paint = £8 – Screwfix

Kitchen ceiling = Free. Left over from a previous job

Caddy and hook = £13 – The Range

Toilet roll holder + towel ring = £15 – The Range

Mirror = £20 – Dunelm

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10 interior design trends which could boost your house value by thousands

The interior design trends which could help to boost the value of your property by thousands has been revealed in a new study — and the much-loved Scandinavian style has taken the winning spot.

Mortgage comparison website, Bankrate, entered the biggest interior design styles into Zoopla’s property search tool to calculate average house prices in England for each style, and uncover how much each one could add to the value of a home.

While Scandi style unsurprisingly came out on top (it was also named the top interior trend for 2020), other trends in the top 10 include farmhouse, rustic, vintage and bohemian.

‘With the UK housing market beginning to reopen for business, buying and selling a home has hit the headlines across the world,’ explains Bankrate. ‘With so many properties coming back onto the market, there has never been a better time to give your home a “glow up”. But rather than expensive overhauls, does adding a splash of paint and updating your furniture add any value? And do some interior design styles add more value than others?’

Looking to boost the value of your home without a complete refurb? Take a look at the interior design trends below:

1. Scandinavian (£340,224)

It’s no surprise that Scandinavian style took the top spot, with this trend boosting the value of homes by around £340,224.

The team advise: ‘To add more value to your home, declutter rooms and add splashes of white with warm textures as a hygge nod towards Scandinavian styling.’

2. Farmhouse (£289,543)

Traditional farmhouse decor is on the up, with post-lockdown searches increasing by 50 per cent. From rustic wooden beams to cosy fireplaces, it seems this interior trend can also help to boost the value of a home, too. In fact, their research found that, on average, farmhouse-style properties can boost the overall value by £289,543.

‘Those with a love of the countryside will be happy to discover that this home design is the second most lucrative style.’

a dining room table: Hampshire Dining Table, Furniture Choice

© Furniture Choice
Hampshire Dining Table, Furniture Choice

3. Rustic (£285,097)

Rustic-style homes are also worth considering if you’re looking to boost the value of your abode before selling. ‘Re-using old furniture, keeping weathered wood and adding some cosy, hand-stitched materials will emphasise rustic’s “home is where the heart is” feel.’

4. Bohemian (£283,819)

Bohemian style might not harbour as much interest when compared to other trends, however the quirky style could add an additional £283,819 to the value of your home, according to the study. Are you a fan of this unique look?

5. Vintage (£273,973)

This much-loved trend could boost the value of a home by £273,973, so it’s definitely one to consider if you’re planning to redecorate.

a living room filled with furniture and a lamp: Orson Industrial Side Table with Drawer, Cult Living

© Cult Living
Orson Industrial Side Table with Drawer, Cult Living

6. Contemporary (£269,292)

Seriously smart modern homes can help to boost the value of a home by a staggering £269,292, so it’s certainly worth keeping an eye open for contemporary furnishings, accessories and schemes you can adopt

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