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Photographer shares ‘magical’ photos of rare white bison calf at Yellowstone

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Photographer shares ‘magical’ photos of rare white bison calf at Yellowstone
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A rare white bison spotted in Yellowstone National Park has social media users in awe.

Erin Braaten, an outdoor photographer from Kalispell, Montana, captured the animal on camera.

“It was pretty amazing,” she told USA TODAY on Tuesday, adding that she initially thought it was a coyote or something else. “It just seemed really odd for it to be there and we got stuck in traffic. And so I took my camera out and looked back and saw that it was actually a white bison calf that had just been born.”

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Bison injures park goer: Bison gores 83-year-old woman at Yellowstone, lifts her a foot off the ground

Her family was about 100 yards away from the bison. It was across a river that was flowing pretty quickly.

“They were able to experience it too,” she said. “It was just kind of a very neat, magical time for us all to see this.”

Braaten said she was equipped with her own camera that day since she was in Yellowstone. She usually keeps it on her when she’s in the area because she never knows what she’s going to see. She has even seen lots of bears in the area.

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She said she sees cows in the area often, as well as bison. This is the first time she has seen a white bison though.

White bison born in Wyoming last spring

The bison isn’t the first making headlines as of late. 

Last spring, a white bison was born at Bear River State Park in Evanston, Wyoming. 

Calling the new addition a “little white ball of fluff,” the white calf was born with four reddish-brown colored bison calves. The white bison calf is the first born in the 32-year-old park’s history.

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How do the rare bison get their white color?

White bison appear the way they do typically because of albinism and leucism, conditions that can cause an animal to have white fur, hair, skin or feathers, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The conditions are caused by a lack of cellular pigments. 

Leucism can cause the entire animal to appear white, or just patches. Albino animals typically have pink eyes while leucistic animals don’t.

White bison are typically albino, leucistic, meaning they have white fur with blue eyes, or beefalo, a bison-cattle crossbreed.

Native Americans consider white bison to be sacred, according to African Safari Wildlife Park. In fact, one social media user on Instagram came across the photographer’s post about the white bison and chimed in. “Thank you for these photos,” the Instagram user wrote. “You cannot imagine the meaning for us Lakota as a people.”

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White bison are so rare that it’s estimated there are only one out of every 10 million bison births, according to the African Safari Wildlife Park.

The animals can weigh anywhere from 701 pounds to 2,200 pounds and they can measure 5-to-6 feet. White bison can live for 15 years in the wild or even 25 years in captivity, the safari park said on its website.

Photographer got to witness rare bison with her family

Braaten, who captured a photo of the most recent white bison calf in Yellowstone National Park, is a mother of eight children ranging from ages 16 to 30. She had three of her youngest children with her that day.

Her family had been camping for a week and each day, they went to different sections of the park. They were in Lamar Valley, where people often see wolves and different animals. They spotted the white bison on their first day.

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She said she’s a little surprised to see the reaction her photos have received.

They live close to Glacier National Park and she first got into photography taking family photos and photos of her family’s farm.

“I started doing landscapes and then wildlife,” she said. “People just enjoy them and so it has just kind of grown … It’s great therapy.”

Keep up with Braaten’s photography at www.facebook.com/DancingAspensPhotography and www.instagram.com/dancing_aspens_photo.

Contributing: Camille Fine

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Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY’s NOW team. She is from Norfolk, Virginia – the 757. Follow her on Twitter at @SaleenMartin or email her at sdmartin@usatoday.com.

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Video: Biden Says It’s Time to ‘Pass the Torch’ to a New Generation

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Video: Biden Says It’s Time to ‘Pass the Torch’ to a New Generation

new video loaded: Biden Says It’s Time to ‘Pass the Torch’ to a New Generation

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Biden Says It’s Time to ‘Pass the Torch’ to a New Generation

Speaking from the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, President Biden defended his record and celebrated the vice president, Kamala Harris, saying it’s time for new, younger voices to lead the country.

You know, in recent weeks, it’s become clear to me that I need to unite my party in this critical endeavor. I believe my record as president, my leadership in the world, my vision for America’s future all merited a second term. But nothing, nothing can come in the way of saving our democracy. And that includes personal ambition. So I’ve decided the best way forward is to pass the torch to a new generation. You know, there is a time and a place for long years of experience in public life. There’s also a time and a place for new voices. Fresh voices. Yes, younger voices. I would like to thank our great vice president, Kamala Harris. She’s experienced. She’s tough. She’s capable. She’s been an incredible partner to me and a leader for our country. Nowhere else on Earth could a kid with a stutter from modest beginnings in Scranton, Pa., and Claymont, Del., one day sit behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office as president of the United States. But here I am. I hope you have some idea how grateful I am to all of you. The great thing about America is here kings and dictators do not rule. The people do. History is in your hands. The power is in your hands. The idea of America lies in your hands. You just have to keep faith. Keep the faith, and remember who we are. We’re the United States of America. And there is simply nothing, nothing beyond our capacity when we do it together. So let’s act together. Preserve our democracy. God bless you all. And may God protect our troops. Thank you.

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Live news: AI demand propels SK Hynix to highest profit in 6 years

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Live news: AI demand propels SK Hynix to highest profit in 6 years
Shoppers crowd Seoul’s Myeongdong district, but analysts expect South Korean domestic spending to deteriorate © Hon Wah Oong/Dreamstime

South Korea’s economy unexpectedly contracted in the second quarter on cooling consumer spending despite stronger exports, increasing expectations of an interest rate cut in the coming months.

Gross domestic product in the April-June quarter shrank 0.2 per cent from a quarter earlier in seasonally adjusted terms, according to the Bank of Korea, while analysts polled by Reuters forecast a 0.1 per cent rise.

This marks the sharpest contraction in six quarters, following 1.3 per cent growth in the first quarter.

Private consumption fell 0.2 per cent and construction spending dropped 1.1 per cent, while exports rose 0.9 per cent.

Capital Economics expects domestic spending to deteriorate, prompting the Bank of Korea to cut interest rates in October, but cautioned that there was an increased chance of a rate cut in August.  

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Will Harris sway PA voters? A Pittsburgh area Democrat and Republican each have a say

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Will Harris sway PA voters? A Pittsburgh area Democrat and Republican each have a say

Left: Kathleen Madonna-Emmerling, Right: John Wink

Nate Smallwood for NPR


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Nate Smallwood for NPR

PITTSBURGH – Kathleen Madonna-Emmerling of Moon Township, a municipality that sits a few miles northwest of Pittsburgh, smiles as a server at local staple Primanti Brothers delivers a sandwich stacked higher than a double AA battery.

The story that locals like Madonna-Emmerling tell is that this Pittsburgh-style sandwich – layered with coleslaw, tomato slices, and French fries – was created so that local blue collar workers could drive large trucks and eat with one hand while on a shift.

The sandwich ties back to her family’s history – and that of many other residents in the area – of working in the steel industry and other blue collar jobs, many of which disappeared long ago. Her father was an auto worker involved in the local union. That led to her now working as a community organizer and “multi-hyphenate” political pot stirrer, she said.

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When there were talks of closing a local school, she protested. She’s president of the library board and fought to keep a LGBTQ book on the shelves. She’s run for public office and trained activists to knock on doors at election time to shore up votes for Democrats.

But selling locals on President Biden at the top of the ticket has proven a struggle. His poor showing at the June debate with former President Donald Trump zapped a lot of energy. Then came the attempted assassination on Trump in nearby Butler, which caused a lot of “whiplash” in this area where many voters don’t adhere strictly to one party or the other.

“People are a little bit checked out. People are very tired. And we’re just trying to say, ‘OK , you’re going to be tired about the top of the ticket, but there’s still work to do,’” Madonna-Emmerling said, noting that some door-knocking efforts were slowed down after the shooting out of respect for Republican voters.

She couldn’t quite see a way forward.

Kathleen Madonna-Emmerling poses for a portrait outside a restaurant in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2024.

Kathleen Madonna-Emmerling poses for a portrait outside a restaurant in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2024.

Nate Smallwood for NPR

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But then came the historic news that Biden was dropping out and making way for Vice President Harris to take his place. While she wasn’t necessarily calling for Biden to drop out, Madonna-Emmerling said she feels like his decision may prove a consequential one in Pennsylvania, which will again prove key to winning the White House.

“It was a literal exhalation, shoulders lowering,” Madonna-Emmerling said. “We’ve stopped the bleeding.”

More and more volunteers, she said, have called her in recent days about voter outreach efforts since Biden’s move.

“Plug in, let’s go,” she told them. “Get on the train. We’re all going together to the top.”

Their involvement in getting more voters to turn out could make all the difference in Moon Township, and other suburbs that surround Pittsburgh, which historically have voted for Republicans.

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Trump won most of Moon Township’s 13 voting precincts in 2016 when he carried the state, according to Allegheny County Election Results data. And though most precincts again went his way in 2020, Democrats and Joe Biden picked up support in the town, when almost 2,000 more people voted. The same happened in small counties across the state, between here and Philadelphia and helped Democrats win the swing state back.

With the vice president now in the race, a new NPR poll found that the presidential race has hit a bit of a reset. Trump and Harris are now statistically tied, and some independent voters now say they are undecided,

Madonna-Emmerling feels that Harris’ campaign has injected new energy into Democrats, and she feels that the vice president’s background as a prosecutor is a winning combination and makes her an “ideal suburban candidate.”

Polling in the immediate aftermath of Biden’s endorsement for Harris shows she has more work to do with suburban voters, but also has more opportunity with folks in these areas who may now be undecided.

“Often in the suburbs, people want someone who is pro-public safety, pro-police,” Madonna-Emmerling said, adding that many in the area have family who are former military now working in law enforcement. “That can be a really hard barrier to overcome sometimes. And when you can say this is a clear case of a prosecutor against a felon, it’s a home run.”

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But across town, a local Republican says, “We’ll see …”

Moon Township’s elected Republican tax collector John Wink, speaking to NPR from his backyard on a slightly muggy afternoon, said he believes the luster of Harris replacing Biden at the top of the ticket will wear off in the coming weeks.

“We’ll see if that lasts,” Wink said. “I think she’s a terrible candidate. When she actually ran for president, she couldn’t get votes.”

John Wink poses for a portrait outside his home in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2024.

John Wink poses for a portrait outside his home in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2024.

Nate Smallwood for NPR


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The core issues that Wink said he feels matter most to voters in this part of Pennsylvania – how they are currently experiencing inflation and securing the U.S.-Mexico border – still favor Trump.

Wink, who serves on the GOP’s state committee, has lived in the Pittsburgh area since he was two years old. His father was once mayor of Hampton Township, north of the city. Wink said he started working on campaigns, stuffing envelopes and putting mailers together for candidates, as early as 15 years old.

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And his wife serves on the library board alongside Democrat Madonna-Emmerling.

Residents and voters here are by and large happy with how the town is run, regardless of the party affiliation of those running the local government, he feels. The roads are well maintained and the police force is good, he added.

It’s Pennsylvania’s status as a swing state, closely watched by national politics, that makes living here interesting from a political perspective, Wink said.

“I’m glad Pennsylvania is a swing state, much more interesting than if it was one way or the other,” Wink said. “It’s a whole lot more fun.”

One of his gauges for how elections might go is looking at campaign signs in front yards.

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“I kind of thought Trump was in trouble in 2020 because I was seeing too many Biden signs, much more so than in 2016, where there were very little in the way of Hillary signs,” Wink remembered.

His verdict right now? It’s too early. There aren’t that many signs out yet, Wink said, but he’s still confident Trump will win.

So what are the keys for Trump and Harris here?

Wink said many local Republicans are excited to vote for Trump again, though he said he wished the party had nominated a younger candidate.

He would’ve liked to see Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley be the nominee. But Trump won the primaries, and Wink plans to vote for him.

Moon Township a suburban town in Allegheny County on July 24, 2024.

Moon Township a suburban town in Allegheny County on July 24, 2024.

Nate Smallwood for NPR

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As for whether Moon Township and areas nearby will vote for Trump or Harris, if she becomes the nominee as expected, Wink and Madonna-Emmerling have a similar view.

Families and seniors on fixed incomes here are struggling with the cost of groceries and other costs of living. Under Trump, “things were humming along pretty well,” Wink said, and if Republicans can communicate that message and get their lower-propensity voters to turn out, the election will be theirs.

Madonna-Emmerling thinks voters here will want a candidate to be honest and relatable and Harris fits the bill.

She says people in this community work hard and care about their families and those around them. Speaking authentically to that could motivate those among them who are non-voters to head to the polls.

“Don’t be fake,” Madonna-Emmerling advised. “We have a strong bull**** detector.”

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The audio version of this story was produced by Taylor Haney and edited by Gabriel Spitzer.

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