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World News

Why this 4 July will be unlike any other

For millions of Americans, celebrating 4 July comes with certain rituals and traditions.

Parades, public fireworks displays and large family reunions are some of the most popular ways Americans mark the nation’s independence from Britain in 1776.

But this year is set to look a little different. Here’s why.

1) Cancelled parades

Sadly, it looks like the floats will have to stay in the garage this year.

Cities around the US have cancelled their annual parades as cases of coronavirus continue to rise. The National Independence Day Parade in Washington DC is the highest-profile casualty.

“Covid-19 infection levels will not be abated to the degree that it would be safe,” its organisers said in a rather downcast statement.

But others have approached things with a more creative touch.

In the small town of Montgomery, Ohio, there’s set to be a “reverse parade” where motorists will drive past a stationary show featuring the usual marching band, stilt walkers and floats.

Either way, we’re unlikely to see the kind of showpiece events that we’re used to. There’s always next year, at least.

2) Secret fireworks

Fireworks displays are synonymous with Independence Day and – while a raft of events have been cancelled – it’s not all bad news.

Some organisers have come up with ingenious ways to ensure they can still go ahead without crowds gathering to watch.

In New York, the Macy’s Fireworks Show is being held over a series of nights at unspecified locations and times. Each show will last for just five minutes to avoid crowds being able to gather.

Other cities, such as Boston and Houston, are encouraging people to watch the fireworks from home on TV or online. Which brings us nicely onto…

3) …virtual events

It’s fair to say this pandemic has pushed a lot of people to do more online, and that appears to include celebrating Independence Day.

A huge number of events will be streamed online so they can be enjoyed safely at home.

The Capitol Fourth concert in Washington DC is one of the most well-known. This year, it was pre-recorded in “iconic locations across the country” and will be shown both online and on TV.

And in Los Angeles, an arts centre is set to host an “online block party” with music and other performances being shown live on Facebook. Plenty of other cities are planning to livestream concerts of their own.

Oh, and one of the quirkier Independence Day traditions – Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest – is still going ahead with various Covid-19 precautions in place.

The century-old competition will be shown on TV where it’s previously attracted almost two million viewers. Some traditions are sacred, after all.

4) ‘Sorry, we’re closed’

While some events organisers are finding innovative ways to keep things on track, there’s no getting around the fact that a lot of public spaces will be closed this weekend.

Bars and restaurants will be shut in many states, as officials continue to pull back on plans to reopen after the recent spike in coronavirus cases.

And beaches in states such as Florida and California, which would normally be packed with holidaymakers, will be closed to the public.

But there’s some consolation if you had planned a trip to see a major attraction.

A fair few offer some form of online tour, including the USS Constitution which is one of the world’s oldest warships. It’s set to stream virtual tours as well as a live 21-gun salute to mark Independence Day on Saturday.

5) Protests and politics

Beyond the pandemic, the US has also been rocked by another major news event this year.

The death of African American George Floyd in police custody in May triggered nationwide protests and led to renewed demands for an end to institutional racism. Many of these protests targeted statues of controversial historical figures.

Now, some officials are concerned that Independence Day could see further clashes at monuments and sites.

President Donald Trump’s administration has put “rapid deployment teams” in place to guard federal monuments around the country ahead of the long weekend.

“While the department respects every American’s right to protest peacefully, violence and civil unrest will not be tolerated,” Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement announcing the move.

There are also plans for Black Lives Matter protests on 4 July in a swathe of cities including Orlando, Newark and Washington DC.

6) The start date

While the majority of this year’s events will take place on 4th, the celebrations will actually kick-off on 3rd.

That’s when President Trump will travel to the Mount Rushmore National Monument in South Dakota for the first firework display there in more than a decade.

It’s proved to be a controversial plan for a few reasons. Firstly, there are environmental concerns as some fear the display could set off wildfires in the surrounding forest.

And Native American groups are planning to protest against Mr Trump’s visit as the monument to former US presidents was built on land sacred to the Sioux tribe.

The event has also attracted criticism because social distancing will not be enforced and masks will not be mandatory. “We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home,” the Republican governor said.

Mr Trump has promised a “special evening” back in Washington DC, too, where 10,000 fireworks will be set off as part of the “Salute to America” event which is still going ahead.

But the city’s Mayor Muriel Bowser has expressed concern and urged people to stay at home. “Ask yourself, do you need to be there?” she said. “Do you know if you’ll be able to social distance?”

Their disagreement points to the fraught political backdrop that is likely to make this year’s Independence Day – in more ways than one – unlike any other.

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World News

NFL awards 4 projects in helmet safety development program – The Denver Post

Four organizations have been awarded a total of $1.37 million by the NFL to support the creation of their helmet prototypes.

As part of the NFL Helmet Challenge, a contest with an additional prize of $1 million, receiving grants will be Impressio Inc. and CU Denver; Xenith Project Orbit; Kollide; and the University of Virginia.

Sponsored by the league and Football Research Inc., the Helmet Challenge aims to stimulate the development by experts, innovators and helmet manufacturers of a new helmet that based on laboratory testing outperforms all helmets currently worn by NFL players.

The challenge ends in July 2021 with applicants submitting helmet prototypes for testing sponsored by the NFL-NFLPA that ranks helmets for performance and safety.

“There has been a dramatic increase in the rate of innovation in safety equipment in the last five to 10 years,” said Dr. Barry Myers, director of innovation at Duke University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, who is chairman of the independent Oversight Committee that selected the winners. “Manufacturers are bringing out new models that outperform prior models almost every year. It is amazing. That wasn’t the case 10 or 20 years ago, when new models were released slowly.”

The awardees:

— Christopher Yakacki , Impressio Inc. and CU Denver, $491,999.

Yakacki’s group is looking to create unprecedented energy-dissipating helmet liners. This project is supported by partners including EOS, nTopology and Schutt helmet manufacturer.

— Xenith Project Orbit, Detroit, $412,000.

Xenith, which manufactures football equipment, seeks to bring together experts in a variety of fields to create a new solution for energy management and a best-in-class on-field experience for the athlete. It’s supported by partners including Rheon Labs, the University of Waterloo and BASF.

— Eric Wagnac and Franck LeNaveaux, Kollide, Montreal, $238,545.

This consortium combines the expertise of academic researchers and four Montreal-based companies (Kupol, Tactix, ShapeShift3D, Numalogics) to use their virtual design and 3D printing approach to create helmets customized to the player’s head, with a custom liner optimized to absorb and redirect impact.

— Dr. Matthew Panzer, Topologica Inc., $223,047.

Panzer and collaborators seek to use their foam meta-material to design a new energy absorbing layer in a football helmet that will minimize risk of concussion.

“I look at it as we are trying to take new technology and science and develop a whole new product,” Yakacki said. “It is more than a hobby; you can’t do this in your spare time. If you are going to make helmets safer, solve the concussion problem, you need time and resources and people.

“This kind of help makes it worth it. It helps attract talent and allows them to do the work.”

The NFL’s HeadHealthTECH Challenge grant funding is one of several resources being applied to improve helmets. It includes the league’s Engineering Roadmap, a $60 million effort into enhancing understanding of the biomechanics of head injuries in professional football. One of its initiatives is to create incentives for helmet manufacturers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, universities and others to develop and commercialize new and improved protective equipment, including helmets.

“I believe the Engineering Roadmap and the stimulus it provides to innovators” should be credited with the upgrades, Myers said. “A lot of people want to see athletes protected and able to do their sport and succeed, and now with a lot of people paying attention and a lot of new industries coming to work on this problem, I think we are at the precipice of even more innovation.”

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Fitness

These 4 Moves Can Help to Build Stronger Knees

Men’s Health/Eric Rosati

No matter how or why you exercise, you’re probably used to training to target specific muscles—just think about all of the biceps curls and crunches you’ve done in your life. But not every body part gets the same amount of love. That’s partly because some muscles are just easier to isolate, but others might be neglected because it’s less obvious exactly how to focus your attention on them.

Case in point: your knees. Yes, they’re joints, not muscles—but there are muscles supporting them which you can work to help to promote healthy function. “The muscles of the thigh act on the knee by either bending or extending the leg,” says trainer Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S. That mean that your quads and hamstrings are largely responsible for that movement, and that you’ll want to work on strengthening those muscles when you train for stronger knees.

Atkins designed this four move series of exercises specifically to do just that. Each movement has a different focus; you’ll target your hamstrings and quads, and work to develop stability in your hips. You’ll need a yoga mat for your back, a short platform, and a chair or bench to do the workouts. If you’re more advanced, grab a weight for the chair get-up.

Perform each exercise for either 45 seconds or 8 to 12 reps

Take on the whole series on a lower body training day as a circuit, or implement the exercises in your training split.

Want to learn more moves from Atkins? Check out our series full of her workout tips, Try Her Move. You can also take on her new 30 day challenge in our streaming All Out Studio app, check out her Le Sweat workout app, and follow her on Instagram to find out when she’s hosting live workouts from her living room.

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