Trending News for May 17

Miss Universe 2021 Winner is Miss Mexico, Andrea Meza; Bella Hadid Joins Pro-Palestinian Protests; Publix  Giving Free Cookies for Kids; Chicago Cubs Free Hot Dogs and Sodas; Pop-up Markets are Back in Chicago

Miss Universe 2021 Winner is Miss Mexico, Andrea Meza

The Miss Universe Pageant held in Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, concluded with the coronation of the new Miss Universe, Miss Mexico – Andrea Meza. 

The 69th edition of the world’s most prestigious beauty pageant held Sunday night had been delayed for a year due to the pandemic. Beauty queens from 74 countries worldwide flew to the US to take part in the Miss Universe competition. 

Paula M. Shugart, the President of the Miss Universe Organization, addressed the questions on the safety of the participants amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have spent months planning and preparing safety precautions to develop this edition of Miss Universe – one that will be memorable, special, and totally innovative,” Shugart said in a statement.

This year’s pageant was hosted by Mario Lopez and co-hosted by former 2012 Miss Universe, Olivia Culpo. The show also featured Luis Fonsi in a special performance.

Miss Mexico Andrea Meza ultimately bested the rest of the 73 candidates. She wowed the selection committee with her beauty and brains. She was crowned with the Mouawad Crown, which according to Mouawad Jewelry, the makers of the Mouawad Miss Universe Power of Unity Crown, is estimated to be valued at around $5 Million. It is considered the most expensive crown in the history of the Miss Universe Pageant.

Miss Brazil, Julia Gama was the first runner-up; Miss Peru, Janick Maceta was selected as the second runner-up; followed by Miss India, Adline Castelino was the third runner-up. Miss Dominican Republic, Kimberly Jiménez received the fourth runner-up award.

In the final question round, Miss Mexico was asked how she would have handled the COVID-19 pandemic:

“I believe there is not a perfect way to handle this hard situation such as COVID-19,” she said. “However, I believe that what I would have done was create the lockdown even before everything was that big because we lost so many lives, and we cannot afford that. We have to take care of our people. That’s why I would have taken care of them since the beginning.”

Bella Hadid Joins Pro-Palestinian Protests in NYC

Bella Hadid joined the Pro-Palestinian protest in New York City on Saturday to support Palestinians in the ongoing violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip. The supermodel on Sunday shared a collection of photos and videos on her Instagram showing her marching down the streets of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn while holding a Palestinian flag. 

“The way my heart feels … To be around this many beautiful, smart, respectful, loving, kind, and generous Palestinians all in one place … it feels whole! We are a rare breed!!” said the model, whose father, Mohamed Hadid, is of Palestinian descent. 

“It’s free Palestine til Palestine is free!!!” she added. 

Hadid joined the demonstration hours after she shared a post on Instagram of her grandparents in 1941, on their wedding day, along with a young photo of her father next to his seven siblings and their mom. Hadid mentioned that his father and his siblings were “taken out of their homes in Palestine in 1948, becoming refugees in Syria, then Lebanon, then Tunisia.” 

“I love my family, I love my Heritage, I love Palestine,” she wrote.

The two Instagram posts came after another post by Hadid being extremely critical of Israel. Her posts drew accusations of anti-Semitism from her followers. In the said post, she called Israel a land of colonizers that practice “ethnic cleansing, military occupation and apartheid over the Palestinian people.”

Many Instagram users accused her of perpetuating anti-Semitic metaphors and pointed out the mistakes in Hadid’s posts. Representatives for Hadid did not return the media’s request for comment.

Since the previous week, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a barrage of rockets into Israel, targeting Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and southern Israel. Israel countered the attacks with a series of airstrikes that killed a top Hamas commander and several other senior Hamas leadership.

The State of Israel criticized the supermodel on Sunday after Hadid took to the streets in Brooklyn in support of the Palestinians in Gaza. It said, her advocacy at the height of the escalating conflict amounts to a call for the “elimination of the Jewish state.”

Publix is Back at Giving Free Cookies for Kids

One of the nation’s largest grocery chains, Publix, announced the return of a well-loved feature of its bakeries, the free cookies for kids. The grocery chain stated that the popular free cookie program is returning company-wide one year after it was discontinued at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Publix discontinued the freebie handouts at its stores back in March of 2020. A spokesperson for the Lakeland-based supermarket chain confirmed that their free kids’ cookie program had been reinstated. The free cookies program is not only kids’ favorite but also popular with adults.

The supermarket chain’s bakery plant in Lakeland is where a massive number of cookies are churned out before it is distributed to more than 1,200 of its stores and peaks during the busy holiday season. A cascade of cookie dough rolls on a conveyor belt at the plant, and a machine with a wire cutter inside instantly cuts them into the correct shape and portion.

According to Publix, its main bakery plant can produce 2,400 cookies a minute, which are then shipped to the chain’s 1,200 stores nationwide. They utilize 2 million pounds of flour and 400,000 pounds of sugar in a week. 

“Twenty-four hundred cookies a minute,” said the bakery general manager Gaye Pate to FOX 13. “And every one of those cookies has about 45 to 50 chips in each cookie.”

Through the help of automated packing, the cookies are stacked “shoulders up.” The customers will think they see the front of the package from all angles of the packaging.

“You notice that we put one angle this way. One angle this way,” Publix CEO Todd Jones shared. “So, if a customer is on this side, they are seeing the front. On this side, the front. So, you see these beautiful chocolate chips in there.”

The program was suspended amid lockdowns and shutdowns across the country early last year. As the pandemic slowly winds down, the free cookie program is one of the latest aspects of everyday life to make a comeback.

Chicago Cubs Offers Free Hot Dogs and Sodas to Vaccinated Fans

The Chicago Cubs are actively promoting COVID-19 vaccinations and offering fans the opportunity to get vaccinated at the Wrigley Field. Any person with a ticket to the Washington Nationals series can get a jab at the American Airlines Conference Center at Gallagher Way starting May 17 to May 20.

The fans will receive a voucher for a free hot dog and soda or water, redeemable at any “Classics” concession stand at Wrigley Field after they are administered with the COVID-19 vaccine. The free snacks can be redeemed by the attendees of any of the following four games who get vaccinations on-site at Gallagher Way.

The vaccination site at the American Airlines Conference Center is expanding its hours of operations from May 17 to 19 only to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. On May 20, Thursday, the venue will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. No appointment is needed, and all walk-ins will be entertained.

Vaccinations will be offered before and during games at the American Airlines Conference Center building during the four-game series against the Nationals that opens Monday. Proof of ticket purchase for at least one of the games in the series is required to receive the voucher, which expires Thursday.

According to the Wrigley Field management, they are prepared to welcome more fans back to the Friendly Confines. The City of Chicago in collaboration with the State of Illinois requires a designated area dedicated to fully vaccinated fans for the four-game series against the Washington Nationals. The upper section of Budweiser Bleachers is the designated area for fully vaccinated fans. This section will be sold at full capacity, and seats will not be physically distanced.

Single-game tickets for the May 17-20 games are on sale now for $20 plus applicable taxes and fees on a first-come, first-served basis.

A person is considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after the second dose in a two-dose series, or two weeks after taking the single-dose vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

Pop-up Markets are Back in Chicago

The City of Chicago is welcoming back the pop-up markets giving it a chance to shine and show off small businesses and local products. This weekend, one of the first pop-up markets made a comeback in Chicago. In Ravenswood, the ‘Market for Makers’ was greeted with a growing long line growing outside its location, with an enthusiastic crowd, despite the mask requirement.

“I’m just happy to be back in front of my customers,” Danielle Schultz of Marigold Mary Jewelry said. She is one of the 60 vendors of all stripes, most of them local, finding their footing as businesses reopen.

“It’s been a very long year, so many festivals and fairs have been canceled, and I’m just thrilled we have the opportunity to be in person, and I get to see all my pieces on people,” Schultz said.
Capacity inside the venue is still limited to 60 percent, giving vendors added space to spread out and display their products.

The Shudio brought many varieties of plants to the market as more people became interested in house plants during the pandemic.

“I think because everyone was stuck at home, they suddenly realized that they wanted to bring some life into their space, and what better way to do it than a bunch of greenery,” Mel Kinzie of The Shudio said.

In the upper area of the market, the Roseland couple shows off their ‘Tea-Fusion’ business that began during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of people have been concerned about what’s going in our bodies, and we only use all-natural ingredients. All fresh fruits, green tea, and raw sugar and ginger root,” Nawana Walton said. Being able to finally showcase their products in person makes a big difference.

“I know that we’ve had a lot of government help, we’ve had a lot of local help, there’s nothing like being in front of customers, and now that Chicago is opening up again, we finally have the opportunity to do what we do,” Schultz said.