[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/17 5:58am

Tim Morrison and Chris Taber were driving to work along the 14 Freeway in Santa Clarita, Calif., early Wednesday when they saw a motorcyclist and a silver sedan blaze past them, according to KTLA TV.

On the video, which one of the men then started to shoot with his cellphone, you can hear a gasp as the two watch the horror unfolding in front of them in what police believe was a possible road rage episode that miraculously killed no one but left one motorist injured.

The motorcyclist and the silver sedan veer together into the southbound carpool lane of the highway. As they do, the motorcyclist appears to attempt to kick the sedan with his right leg.

The sedan veers to the left in response, sideswiping the motorcycle.

But then the sedan driver swerves back across the lane to the right and then wildly to the left. Apparently out of control, it smashes into center divider.

Sparks or flames shoot up from the left front wheel of the sedan, which then spins back across the lanes of traffic into a white pickup, which flips over.

“Okay stop,” says one of the drivers of the car where the cellphone is filming. “Call 9-1-1 Chris,” said Tim Morrison.

The motorcycle driver takes off and has yet to be apprehended.

California Highway Patrol officer Josh Greengard told ABC7 that the motorcyclist left the scene and “that is technically a hit and run, but we’re trying to get his side of the story … We’re trying to see if it was an intentional veer to the left or a reaction veer to the left.”

Greengard said the driver of the truck suffered “moderate” injuries.

The video was posted on Facebook.

[Category: National]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/17 4:23am

Family says Armando Garcia was just "protecting a dog" when he was accidentally killed by deputies' ricocheting bullets #Palmdale @CBSLA pic.twitter.com/lBapBJBiZ2

— JASMINE VIEL (@jasmineviel) June 22, 2017

Amber Alcantar woke early Thursday morning to a knock at the door.

Before her stood a friend of her nephew, 17-year-old Armando Garcia-Muro. The young man was frantically searching for Garcia-Muro’s mother, Alcantar told the Los Angeles Times. In his hands were bloody shoes.

“Obviously something was wrong,” Alcantar said.

What had just unfolded outside an apartment complex in Palmdale, Calif., would later be described by authorities as an “extremely, extremely unfortunate incident” and by his family as the tragic loss of an animal-loving teen. While trying to shoot a dog that had attacked an officer, deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office instead struck Garcia-Muro.

Their bullets ricocheted off the driveway, authorities said, and one hit the teen’s chest. He later died at a hospital.

The sheriff’s office released details of the incident in a statement and at a news conference, but did not identify the teen victim. The family of Garcia-Muro told local reporters his name and age.

“My nephew was trying to save the dog because the cops started shooting at the dog,” Alcantar, the teen’s aunt, told CBS Los Angeles. “He put his life on the line for an animal that wasn’t even his.”

According to the police account, deputies were called to an apartment in Palmdale, a city 60 miles north of Los Angeles, just before 4 a.m. Thursday to investigate a report of “loud music.” They approached the apartment in question and were “aggressively charged” by a 60 to 65-pound pit bull, authorities said. The dog bit one of the deputies on the knee.

At that time, a “male Hispanic juvenile” emerged from behind the apartment, restrained the dog and took him back to the rear of the complex. Deputies “retreated back onto the street for safety,” treated the injured officer and called paramedics.

As they waited for help to arrive, the dog returned and charged the deputies again, authorities said. Two officers shot at the dog from a distance of five to seven feet and it returned to a carport area behind the complex.

Deputies followed the dog to trap it and “prevent additional victims” but in the carport area, they found the young teen bleeding on the ground from “what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the chest.” Deputies provided medical attention until paramedics transported the boy to a local hospital, where he died.

“Preliminary investigation indicated the first six to eight feet where the shooting occurred with the pit bull, there was evidence of skip rounds on the driveway area,” the sheriff’s department said in the statement. “Detectives believe when the juvenile came out from behind the building, which was approximately 40 feet away from where the shooting occurred with the dog, the juvenile may have been struck by one of the skip rounds.”

The deputy injured by the dog bite was also hit by a bullet fragment in his right leg, authorities said. He was taken to a hospital and is in stable condition. The dog was shot and survived but will be euthanized, authorities said.

At a news conference, Capt. Christopher Bergner told reporters five deputies were present at the time of the shooting but only two discharged their weapons, reported the Los Angeles Times. Six to eights shots were fired, Bergner said.

“(The teen) may have been struck by one of the skip rounds in what we’re calling an extremely, extremely unfortunate incident,” Bergner said. “Our initial impression was didn’t even see the individual coming around from the side of the building.”

The dog’s owner, a woman, told the Los Angeles Times that the neighborhood kids use her home a local hangout to listen to music.

“They are all my friends,” the woman, who declined to give her name, told the LA Times. “They are good kids.”

The dog, she said, is a 3-year-old blue-nosed pit bull that was usually well-mannered when off its leash. She disputed authorities’ claim that her dog attacked them.

“That’s not my dog,” the woman told the LA Times. “That’s not his personality.”

Garcia-Muro’s mother, Roberta Alcantar, told the Times her son was the eldest of four siblings, loved dogs and wanted to go into the construction business. He would have been a senior at R. Rex Parris High School in Palmdale this fall.

“He would give his life for anybody,” Alcantar said. “He was a very loving person.”

More from Morning Mix

A child takes her own life as suicide pact shakes indigenous Canadian community

How Canada’s small military produced deadly, record-breaking snipers

Bill Cosby plans ‘town halls’ on avoiding sexual assault accusations, his publicists claim

[Category: National, newsletter]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/17 4:23am

Family says Armando Garcia was just "protecting a dog" when he was accidentally killed by deputies' ricocheting bullets #Palmdale @CBSLA pic.twitter.com/lBapBJBiZ2

— JASMINE VIEL (@jasmineviel) June 22, 2017

Amber Alcantar woke early Thursday morning to a knock at the door.

Before her stood a friend of her nephew, 17-year-old Armando Garcia-Muro. The young man was frantically searching for Garcia-Muro’s mother, Alcantar told the Los Angeles Times. In his hands were bloody shoes.

“Obviously something was wrong,” Alcantar said.

What had just unfolded outside an apartment complex in Palmdale, Calif., would later be described by authorities as an “extremely, extremely unfortunate incident” and by his family as the tragic loss of an animal-loving teen. While trying to shoot a dog that had attacked an officer, deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office instead struck Garcia-Muro.

Their bullets ricocheted off the driveway, authorities said, and one hit the teen’s chest. He later died at a hospital.

The sheriff’s office released details of the incident in a statement and at a news conference, but did not identify the teen victim. The family of Garcia-Muro told local reporters his name and age.

“My nephew was trying to save the dog because the cops started shooting at the dog,” Alcantar, the teen’s aunt, told CBS Los Angeles. “He put his life on the line for an animal that wasn’t even his.”

According to the police account, deputies were called to an apartment in Palmdale, a city 60 miles north of Los Angeles, just before 4 a.m. Thursday to investigate a report of “loud music.” They approached the apartment in question and were “aggressively charged” by a 60 to 65-pound pit bull, authorities said. The dog bit one of the deputies on the knee.

At that time, a “male Hispanic juvenile” emerged from behind the apartment, restrained the dog and took him back to the rear of the complex. Deputies “retreated back onto the street for safety,” treated the injured officer and called paramedics.

As they waited for help to arrive, the dog returned and charged the deputies again, authorities said. Two officers shot at the dog from a distance of five to seven feet and it returned to a carport area behind the complex.

Deputies followed the dog to trap it and “prevent additional victims” but in the carport area, they found the young teen bleeding on the ground from “what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the chest.” Deputies provided medical attention until paramedics transported the boy to a local hospital, where he died.

“Preliminary investigation indicated the first six to eight feet where the shooting occurred with the pit bull, there was evidence of skip rounds on the driveway area,” the sheriff’s department said in the statement. “Detectives believe when the juvenile came out from behind the building, which was approximately 40 feet away from where the shooting occurred with the dog, the juvenile may have been struck by one of the skip rounds.”

The deputy injured by the dog bite was also hit by a bullet fragment in his right leg, authorities said. He was taken to a hospital and is in stable condition. The dog was shot and survived but will be euthanized, authorities said.

At a news conference, Capt. Christopher Bergner told reporters five deputies were present at the time of the shooting but only two discharged their weapons, reported the Los Angeles Times. Six to eights shots were fired, Bergner said.

“(The teen) may have been struck by one of the skip rounds in what we’re calling an extremely, extremely unfortunate incident,” Bergner said. “Our initial impression was didn’t even see the individual coming around from the side of the building.”

The dog’s owner, a woman, told the Los Angeles Times that the neighborhood kids use her home a local hangout to listen to music.

“They are all my friends,” the woman, who declined to give her name, told the LA Times. “They are good kids.”

The dog, she said, is a 3-year-old blue-nosed pit bull that was usually well-mannered when off its leash. She disputed authorities’ claim that her dog attacked them.

“That’s not my dog,” the woman told the LA Times. “That’s not his personality.”

Garcia-Muro’s mother, Roberta Alcantar, told the Times her son was the eldest of four siblings, loved dogs and wanted to go into the construction business. He would have been a senior at R. Rex Parris High School in Palmdale this fall.

“He would give his life for anybody,” Alcantar said. “He was a very loving person.”

More from Morning Mix

A child takes her own life as suicide pact shakes indigenous Canadian community

How Canada’s small military produced deadly, record-breaking snipers

Bill Cosby plans ‘town halls’ on avoiding sexual assault accusations, his publicists claim

[Category: National, newsletter]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/17 4:00am

Wapekeka First Nation declares state of emergency in wake of suicides https://t.co/JwbTNhEf9E

— NishnawbeAski Nation (@NANComms) June 21, 2017

The three 12-year-old girls made a pact: They would all take their own lives.

They lived in Wapekeka First Nation, an isolated community of less than 400 people in the boreal forest of northwestern Ontario, Canada. The Oji-Cree community — which can only be reached by aircraft — is one of many indigenous groups in the region plagued by high rates of suicide over the years and lacking the necessary funds to address the crisis.

So when local leaders learned about the girls’ suicide pact, they immediately pleaded with the federal government for health funding and suicide prevention help. But their requests were turned down.

In January, two of the 12-year-old girls, Jolynn Winter and Chantel Fox, took their own lives just two days apart, according to a Wapekeka statement. The community closed its school, flew in a crisis team, and flew out several at-risk children — including the third girl in the pact — to receive treatment and 24-hour monitoring.

But less than six months later, the third girl followed in their footsteps.

Jenara Roundsky was found dead by a friend last week at a local hockey rink, Canadian media outlets reported. And on Tuesday, the Wapekeka chief declared a state of emergency, asking for immediate support from Ontario officials.

“Our people are getting tired,” Wapekeka spokesman Joshua Frogg told the Toronto Star. “We need help, boots on the ground, people properly trained to assess and determine and help as needed — we don’t need 11 and 12-year-olds on the front lines trying to save their friends.”

Earlier this year, after Wapekeka uncovered the suicide pact, Canada’s health ministry pledged to provide Wapekeka with $380,000 in emergency funding, but has so far only sent $95,000, according to the Toronto Star. That money has already been used up to hire new mental health workers.

A spokesman for the national health ministry told the Toronto Star the $95,000 payment was the amount it owed for the fiscal year 2016-2017, and the department will provide Wapekeka with $380,000 in annual “enhanced funding” until 2019. The money will finance four youth mental health workers who are already in place on a rotating basis, according to the department’s statement to the Star.

But Wapekeka leaders maintain that they need more immediate assistance to deal with the aftermath of the recent deaths. They have identified almost 40 adolescents — about 10 percent of the community’s population — that are considered to be at risk of suicide in the wake of the recent pact.

“This is just devastating for the community,” Frogg told the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), adding that its leaders are “stressed to our bones” trying to help its youth.

“It is concerning and it is sad that this child fell through that crack,” Frogg said.

For this small, remote community, the loss of three children is crushing. It also opens up wounds from a previous suicide epidemic during the 1990s.

Wapekeka was one of many indigenous communities in northwestern Ontario targeted by convicted pedophile Ralph Rowe, an Anglican priest and Boy Scout leader who would fly into small reserves and seek out adolescent boys. Rowe was convicted in 1994 of 39 counts of indecent assault on 15 boys ages 8 to 14. In 2006, he faced dozens of additional charges. Rowe, considered “one of Canada’s most prolific pedophiles” is estimated to have abused 500 victims, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. He served a total of five years in prison.

[Did Canada commit a ‘cultural genocide’?]

Between 1989 and 1999, 15 young people committed suicide in Wapekeka, CBC News reported.

The epidemic roiled the community but prompted its leaders to develop a Survivors of Suicide program and host annual suicide prevention conferences. Wapekeka’s efforts forged the community into a “leader in suicide prevention,” as the Guardian reported, and for years it managed to take hold of the crisis.

But after extensive attempts to “stabilize our community,” as Frogg told APTN, “Now we’re just back to where we were.”

And the suicide crisis is not limited to Wapekeka. From 1986 to 2016, 500 suicides were reported across 49 First Nations in northern Ontario. More than 270 were children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 20. The 49 communities, part of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, are home to a total of about 45,000 people.

“We stay up late at night worrying about our children,” Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said in a speech, the CBC reported. “We are so programmed to always be in this crisis state and that shouldn’t be.”

Indigenous youth are about five to six times more likely to commit suicide than non-aboriginal youth in Canada, according to a report from Canada’s health ministry, Health Canada, which described the aboriginal suicide rate as “alarming.” Those numbers are similar among Native American populations in the U.S.

Many First Nations adolescents experience isolation, poverty and a lack of basic amenities, on top of the continuing effects of being marginalized by society.

About 150,000 indigenous children were forced from their communities and placed in residential schools nationwide during the 19th and 20th centuries to assimilate them into mainstream society.

“The ripple effect of trauma is powerful in First Nations communities, most of which are close-knit and small in population,” the report said. “Every suicide thus has a direct effect on many community members and this may account for the tendency of suicides to occur in clusters.”

Jenara Roundsky, 12. (Family photo)

Wapekeka’s leaders tried to keep this ripple effect from affecting Jenara, the third 12-year-old girl who made the suicide pact. They flew her to a specialized residential home outside of the community until a few weeks before her death.

“There was no plan of care, there was no safety plan for her,” Frogg told CBC News. Wapekeka’s chief and council protested the decision to allow her to return without an arrangement for continuing treatment. The child and family services agency that treated her disputed this, telling CBC News that a safety plan was indeed in place.

Jenara had been living with her grandparents, APTN reported. Her father committed suicide in 2011 when she was only 6.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Jenara’s grandparents said she was diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder.

[What life is like in this Canadian town known for its suicide epidemic]

“Her actions were on an impulse and went ahead to do things as if without no thought,” they said.

“We do not blame anyone for the loss of our granddaughter,” the statement continued. “The services that she was given through different agencies, everyone did their best to help our granddaughter while she was with us.”

Wapekeka officials, however, are less hesitant to point fingers and ask the federal government for more assistance. They worry that the death of Jenara will trigger other children — such as the 12-year-old who found Jenara dead — to hurt themselves.

“That stays with you for a long, long time,” Frogg told APTN. He recalled what it was like to find a person hanging many years ago.

“It stays with you forever,” he said. “It never goes away. Can you imagine a child?”

More from Morning Mix

How Canada’s tiny military produced deadly, record-breaking snipers

Bill Cosby plans ‘town halls’ on avoiding sexual assault accusations, his publicists claim

‘Star Trek’ fans anger at remake’s diversity proves they don’t understand ‘Star Trek’

Illinois Catholic bishop decrees no Holy Communion, funerals for same-sex couples

[Category: International, newsletter]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/17 3:40am

Canadian sniper 'kills IS militant 2 miles away' in Afghanistan. It's reported bullet took 10 seconds to hit target https://t.co/UXzb0g9kEw pic.twitter.com/G7vvL5B6kI

— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) June 22, 2017

Canada is not known, at least not in popular culture, for its military might. Fewer than 70,000 active soldiers serve in the country’s armed forces, whose size and strength have been mocked over the years by American and Canadian commentators alike. The United States, by comparison, has about half a million active soldiers in the Army alone, and hundreds of thousands more across the other branches. By American standards, Canada’s roughly $20 billion defense budget is minuscule.

But don’t let those numbers fool you.

Despite its small size, Canada is known for producing well-trained, highly skilled soldiers, who have long fought alongside American and British counterparts in major world conflicts, including the current fight against Islamic State militants.

In particular, Canada boasts some of the best snipers of any military, and the world may very well have gotten another reminder of that this week.

On Thursday, the country’s military said that a Canadian Special Operations sniper had shot an Islamic State fighter in Iraq from more than 2 miles away, purportedly breaking a world record for the longest confirmed kill shot in history, according to the Globe and Mail.

An unidentified sniper from the elite Joint Task Force 2 made the shot from a distance of 3,540 meters using a U.S.-made McMillan Tac-50 rifle, according to the Globe and Mail. The Canadian government’s statement about the shot provided no details about the operation, nor did it say whether the human target was killed, as The Washington Post reported. But the Globe and Mail cited anonymous military sources saying that the fatal shot, made from a high-rise building during an operation in Iraq, was independently verified by video and other data.

The Post’s Thomas Gibbons-Neff described the extreme difficulty of hitting an enemy combatant at such a distance, let alone fatally wounding one:

For the soldier to hit his target 3,540 meters (3,871 yards) he would need to account for every atmospheric factor available. Wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure, the bullets yaw and the rotation of the earth would all need to be considered before pulling the trigger. These variables, once harnessed from devices such as a handheld weather meter and potentially range-finding equipment on the gun, would then be processed through a ballistic calculator that would let the shooter make the necessary adjustments on the rifle’s scope.

If all that went according to plan and the insurgent was indeed killed, the Canadian sniper’s shot shatters the previous world record, held by a British soldier, by a staggering 1,065 meters.

It also fits a long tradition of expert marksmanship among Canadian soldiers.

During World War I, Canadian snipers were celebrated for their deadly accuracy on the battlefield. Among the legends is the late Francis Pegahmagabow, a First Nations sniper from Ontario who fought in Europe with the Canadian Expeditionary Force from 1914 to 1918. He was credited with 378 kills before he was discharged the following year, and as of 2014 he remained the most decorated First Nations soldier in the country’s history, according to Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News.

“Canadian snipers were arguably the best-equipped Allied soldiers in the early year of the war,” wrote military historian Martin Pegler in a 2011 history of sharpshooters. He called Pegahmagabow “arguably the finest sniper Canada fielded.”

“Most of the finest Canadian snipers proved to be Natives, whose backwoods skills, patience and acute eyesight made them ideally suited to the task,” Pegler wrote. “Canadian soldiers provided some of the best snipers of the war. Their kill rate was extraordinary.”

Outdoorsmanship played a big role in how the Canadian military selected its snipers, according to Maj. Jim McKillip, a historian with the Canadian Forces department of history and heritage. Many British soldiers came from urban backgrounds, he told the Globe and Mail in 2014, whereas Canada had an abundance of farmers, hunters and trappers.

“People realized pretty quickly that sniping was more. It was shooting and hunting combined — the skills of camouflage and concealment,” he said. “The kind of hunting that you do to hunt animals at close range were the same sort of skills for concealing yourself from the enemy.”

Sergeant Harold A. Marshall of the Calgary Highlanders in Belgium in 1944. (Library and Archives Canada)

That experience carried into World War II, said Mark Zuehlke, author of a dozen books on Canada’s military history. One of Canada’s most iconic photos from the war shows Sergeant Harold A. Marshall, a sniper from the Calgary Highlanders, posing with his rifle.

“The best snipers were usually country boys who knew how to hunt,” Zuehlke told Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News. “They knew how to handle a gun and handle a gun well.”

If Thursday’s account of the Canadian sniper’s fatal shot is true, Canadian soldiers hold three spots in the top five longest recorded sniper kills.

It’s a morbid list, to be sure. There are human beings on both sides of those mind-bogglingly long and complicated shots. War is not a video game, and no soldier tasked with such a grave responsibility takes up a rifle seeking to break a record.

But records do get broken, and a degree of bragging does take place.

In 2002, Canadian Master Cpl. Arron Perry shot and killed an Afghan insurgent from 2,310 meters, resetting the bar for a confirmed kill. Just weeks later, during the same operation, Canadian Cpl. Rob Furlong killed an insurgent at 2,430 meters. That record held until 2009, when British Corporal of Horse Craig Harrison shot and killed a Taliban gunner from 2,475 meters, according to the Globe and Mail.

After the 3,540-meter shot was reported Thursday, some expressed skepticism. The Post quoted a former Marine sniper saying an array of systems likely helped make the shot, such as a spotter with an advanced optical device or an overhead drone. He said the shot was “possible” but extraordinarily tough.

Furlong, now a marksmanship instructor, told the magazine Maclean’s on Thursday that sniping had been taken to a “different level.” Canadian snipers excelled, he said, because they were trained to run complex operations and learn command-type thinking beyond their current rank.

“I’ve been saying this forever,” he told Maclean’s. “Canadian snipers are the best in the world. The sniper training program has been around for a long time. It’s the foundation, and it’s been retooled from lessons learned in Afghanistan. We’ve built it to be the best.”

Shared via @globeandmail – Canadian elite special forces sniper makes record-breaking kill shot in Iraq – https://t.co/IkhlMlkzEJ pic.twitter.com/V6oqG9meEM

— Canadian Army (@CanadianArmy) June 22, 2017

More from Morning Mix

Bill Cosby plans ‘town halls’ on avoiding sexual assault accusations, his publicists claim

‘Star Trek’ fans anger at remake’s diversity proves they don’t understand ‘Star Trek’

Illinois Catholic bishop decrees no Holy Communion, funerals for same-sex couples

[Category: International, National, newsletter]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/17 3:40am

Canadian sniper 'kills IS militant 2 miles away' in Afghanistan. It's reported bullet took 10 seconds to hit target https://t.co/UXzb0g9kEw pic.twitter.com/G7vvL5B6kI

— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) June 22, 2017

Canada is not known, at least not in popular culture, for its military might. Less than 100,000 active personnel serve in the country’s armed forces, whose size and strength have been mocked over the years by American and Canadian commentators alike. The United States, by comparison, has nearly half a million active soldiers in the Army alone, and hundreds of thousands more across the other branches. By American standards, Canada’s roughly $20 billion defense budget is minuscule.

But don’t let those numbers fool you.

Despite its small size, Canada is known for producing well-trained, highly skilled soldiers, who have long fought alongside American and British counterparts in major world conflicts, including the current fight against Islamic State militants.

In particular, Canada boasts some of the best snipers of any military, and the world may very well have gotten another reminder of that this week.

On Thursday, the country’s military said that a Canadian Special Operations sniper had shot an Islamic State fighter in Iraq from more than 2 miles away, purportedly breaking a world record for the longest confirmed kill shot in history, according to the Globe and Mail.

An unidentified sniper from the elite Joint Task Force 2 made the shot from 3,540 meters away using a U.S.-made McMillan Tac-50 rifle, according to the Globe and Mail. The Canadian government’s statement about the shot provided no details about the operation, nor did it say whether the human target was killed, as The Washington Post reported. But the Globe and Mail cited anonymous military sources saying that the fatal shot, made from a high-rise building during an operation in Iraq, was independently verified by video and other data.

The Post’s Thomas Gibbons-Neff described the extreme difficulty of hitting an enemy fighter at such a distance, let alone fatally wounding one:

For the soldier to hit his target 3,540 meters (3,871 yards) he would need to account for every atmospheric factor available. Wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure, the bullets yaw and the rotation of the earth would all need to be considered before pulling the trigger. These variables, once harnessed from devices such as a handheld weather meter and potentially range-finding equipment on the gun, would then be processed through a ballistic calculator that would let the shooter make the necessary adjustments on the rifle’s scope.

If all that went according to plan and the insurgent was indeed killed, the Canadian sniper’s shot shatters the previous world record, held by a British soldier, by a staggering 1,000 meters.

It also fits a long tradition of expert marksmanship among Canadian soldiers.

During World War I, Canadian snipers were celebrated for their deadly accuracy on the battlefield. Among the legends is Francis Pegahmagabow, a First Nations sniper from Ontario who fought in Europe with the Canadian Expeditionary Force from 1914 to 1918. In those four years he was credited with 378 kills, and he went on to become the most decorated First Nations soldier in the country’s history, according to Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News.

“Canadian snipers were arguably the best-equipped Allied soldiers in the early year of the war,” wrote military historian Martin Pegler in a 2011 history of sharpshooters.

“Most of the finest Canadian snipers proved to be Natives, whose backwoods skills, patience and acute eyesight made them ideally suited to the task,” he wrote. “Canadian soldiers provided some of the best snipers of the war. Their kill rate was extraordinary.”

Outdoorsmanship played a big role in how the Canadian military selected its snipers, according to Maj. Jim McKillip, a historian with the Canadian Forces department of history and heritage. Many British soldiers came from urban backgrounds, he told the Globe and Mail in 2014, whereas Canadians had an abundance of farmers, hunters and trappers.

“People realized pretty quickly that sniping was more. It was shooting and hunting combined — the skills of camouflage and concealment,” he said. “The kind of hunting that you do to hunt animals at close range were the same sort of skills for concealing yourself from the enemy.”

Sergeant Harold A. Marshall of the Calgary Highlanders in Belgium in 1944. (Library and Archives Canada)

That experience carried into World War II, said Mark Zuehlke, author of a dozen books on Canada’s military history. An iconic photo from the war shows Sergeant Harold A. Marshall, a sniper from the Calgary Highlanders, posing with his rifle.

“The best snipers were usually country boys who knew how to hunt,” Zuehlke told Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News. “They knew how to handle a gun and handle a gun well.”

If Thursday’s account of the Canadian sniper’s kill is true, Canadian soldiers hold three spots in the top five longest recorded sniper kills.

It’s a morbid list, to be sure. There are human beings on both sides of those mind-bogglingly long and difficult shots. War is not a video game, and no soldier tasked with such a grave responsibility takes up a rifle seeking to break a record.

But records do get broken, and a degree of bragging does take place. In 2002, Canadian Master Cpl. Arron Perry shot and killed an Afghan insurgent from 2,300 meters, resetting the bar for a confirmed kill. Shortly after, Canadian Cpl. Rob Furlong killed an enemy combatant at 2,430 meters. That record held until 2009, when British Corporal of Horse Craig Harrison shot and killed a Taliban gunner from 2,475 meters, according to the Globe and Mail.

After the 3,540-meter shot was reported Thursday, some expressed skepticism. The Post quoted a former Marine sniper saying an array of systems likely helped make the shot, including a spotter with an advanced optical device or an overhead drone. He said the shot was “possible” but extraordinarily tough.

Furlong, now a marksmanship instructor, told the magazine Maclean’s that sniping had been taken to a “different level.” Canadian snipers excelled, he said, because they were trained to run complex operations and learn skills beyond their current rank.

“I’ve been saying this forever,” he told Maclean’s. “Canadian snipers are the best in the world. The sniper training program has been around for a long time. It’s the foundation, and it’s been retooled from lessons learned in Afghanistan. We’ve built it to be the best.”

Shared via @globeandmail – Canadian elite special forces sniper makes record-breaking kill shot in Iraq – https://t.co/IkhlMlkzEJ pic.twitter.com/V6oqG9meEM

— Canadian Army (@CanadianArmy) June 22, 2017

[Category: International, National, newsletter]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/17 3:01am

Just days after a judge declared a mistrial in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case, his publicists have revealed what he plans to do next — a national tour educating young people on sexual assault, specifically, on how to avoid getting accused of sexual assault.

“Mr. Cosby wants to get back to work,” spokesman Andrew Wyatt told an Alabama TV anchor Wednesday morning. “We are now planning town halls.”

“Really?” responded the WBRC Fox 6 News anchor in Birmingham.

[Mistrial declared in Bill Cosby sex-assault trial]

There was a hint of skepticism in the anchor’s voice, which ballooned into full incredulessness from women’s groups and victims’ advocates Thursday when news of Cosby’s plans began to spread.

“It would be more useful if Mr. Cosby would spend time talking with people about how not to commit sexual assault in the first place,” Jodi Omear, vice president of communications for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) told Newsweek.

As Wyatt explained it, these town halls will educate young people and married men on the law and the dangers they face from accusations of sexual assault.

“This is bigger than Bill Cosby,” Wyatt told the anchor. “This issue can affect any young person, especially young athletes of today, and they need to know what they’re facing when they’re hanging out and partying, when they’re doing certain things they shouldn’t be doing.”

“And it also affects married men,” he added.

Bill Cosby exits the Montgomery County (Pa.) Courthouse after a mistrial was declared in his sexual assault trail on June 17, 2017 . (AP/Matt Rourke)

Wyatt was joined on the morning show by Ebonee Benson, who works at his publicity firm, Purpose PR, and spoke for Cosby’s wife during the trial. When the TV host pushed back on the agenda for the town halls, asking if it was a “‘do as I say, not as I do’ situation,” Benson put the issue in legal terms.

“Laws are changing,” she said. “The statute of limitations for victims of sexual assault are being extended, so this is why people need to be educated on a brush against a shoulder, anything at this point can be considered sexual assault. It’s a good thing to be educated about the laws.”

The element of time was a major factor in Cosby’s trial, which ended with the jury deadlocked on sexual assault charges against Cosby. The former comedian, 79, has been accused by some 60 women of sexual misconduct. The allegations stretch back decades and have sullied Cosby’s reputation as “America’s Dad.”

[Three years and 60 accusers later, Bill Cosby’s trial begins. But only one woman will decide his fate.]

Though his accusers abound, only one was able to bring her case into a criminal court. Andrea Constand, a former women’s basketball staffer at Temple University, testified that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2004 at his suburban Philadelphia estate. Cosby sat on Temple’s board of trustees at the time, a position from which he resigned following the allegations.

But the Constand case was more than a decade old, and Cosby’s defense attorneys capitalized on inconsistencies in her recollection to raise doubt in the minds of jurors.

The jury of seven men and five women heard six days of testimony before retiring for deliberations. After 30 hours, the jury wrote the judge a one-line note saying they could not reach a “unanimous consensus,” as reported by The Washington Post. The judge told them to keep trying, but on Saturday morning he asked the jurors one by one if they were “hopelessly deadlocked.”

Each one said “yes.”

After the mistrial, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele announced he planned to retry Cosby. Constand agreed to testify at a new trial, which the judge said will be scheduled within the next 12 months.

Wyatt did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the planned town hall meetings Thursday night. CNN reported that Cosby’s team is planning a minimum five-city tour with stops in Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia, though there is no official schedule yet. Wyatt said during the TV interview Wednesday that one town hall will take place in Alabama in July.

In an email to the New York Times, Wyatt said that Cosby had received “hundreds of calls from civic organizations and churches requesting for Mr. Cosby to speak to young men and women about the judicial system.”

“Speeches will be free,” Wyatt told the Times, and the program will be critical of prosecutors decision to charge Cosby at all.

Reached by Rolling Stone, Wyatt said he and Benson:

… Received hundreds of calls from civic organizations and churches requesting for Mr. Cosby to speak to young men and women about the judicial system. They feel that the young men and women need to be aware that Mr. Cosby was given a deal to never be criminally charged by Former DA Bruce Castor and 12 years later DA Kevin Steele runs a Willie Horton style campaign ad saying, ‘If you elect me I will bring Bill Cosby to justice. These groups would like for Mr. Costy to share that people in the judicial system can use their powers to annul deals for personal agenda and political ambitions.

… It’s important to educate people that you could be at a baseball game and it could be crowded and a young man could try to squeeze through and accidentally touch a young lady’s butt or breast by mistake and that could be considered sexual assault.

Among those critical of Cosby’s planned town halls were organizers of the Women’s March, who wrote on Twitter Thursday that “rape culture is Bill Cosby planning town halls on how married men and male athletes can avoid sexual assault charges.”

#RapeCulture is Bill Cosby planning town halls on how married men & male athletes can avoid sexual assault charges. https://t.co/eByrQw3iUy

— Women's March (@womensmarch) June 23, 2017

Instead of teaching men to avoid the law we should teach men to respect women. This is a sick insult to his victims. https://t.co/ot9nYoMzhb

— Jen Siebel Newsom (@JenSiebelNewsom) June 22, 2017

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[Category: National, newsletter-hero]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/17 2:54am

The trailer for CBS’s “Star Trek: Discovery,” the latest entry in the “Star Trek” universe, feature two women of color — Michelle Yeoh as the starship captain and Sonequa Martin-Green as her first officer — as they engage the Klingon people.

It’s fairly standard fare for the series, which has seen multiple entries since Gene Roddenberry created it in 1966. This new show takes place a decade before the adventures of Captain Kirk and Spock aboard the Enterprise starship, the original and most famous story in the “Star Trek” canon. What’s most shocking about the trailer is how different the Klingons look, but some fans took issue with something else entirely: the ethnicity and sex of the lead characters.

As the New Yorker reported, comments such as “Where is the alpha male that has balls and doesn’t take crap from anyone?,” “Is everything going to have to have females in every … thing?” and “Star Trek: Feminist Lesbian Edition” quickly appeared on YouTube.

On Twitter, fans focused on the lead characters’ race, often employing the term “white genocide.”

Star Trek Discovery: The only white males are a Vulcan a-hole and a wimpy helmsman. This show appears to be fully SJW converged.

— LubertDas (@lubertdas) May 18, 2017

Star Trek Discovery aka "SJW The Next Generation" Trailer Drops. Seems BLM made the trailer…

— Michael Burns (@ooohouchburn) May 18, 2017

https://t.co/E5gtwYYDtT white genocide hit new Star Trek, if you are white, you'd better be gay. GFY all you "Diversity " a-holes #tcot

— Jackie Langley (@jackieaxeNH) June 22, 2017

Star Trek: Discovery
moar liek
Star Trek: muh forced Diversity pic.twitter.com/a7WnjpWeJu

— David Laettner (@DavidLaettner) May 19, 2017

It makes you wonder where they’ve been all these years. The series, in 1968, featured the first interracial kiss on television. And, in 1966, it featured the first black woman to play a lead role on television when it cast Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura.

The series, in fact, has long been lauded as one of the most progressive on television, a fact not lost on Martin-Green, who was recently asked by Entertainment Weekly about the backlash. On the show, those with differing backgrounds and viewpoints often have to work together to solve problems, which Martin-Green said is “one of the foundational principles” of the series.

“I would encourage them to key into the essence and spirit of ‘Star Trek’ that has made it the legacy it is — and that’s looking across the way to the person sitting in front of you and realizing you are the same, that they are not separate from you, and we are all one,” Martin-Green said. “That’s something ‘Star Trek’ has always upheld and I completely believe that is why it’s been a mainstay in society in the hearts of so many people for so many decades.”

Courtesy CBS

George Takei, who played Sulu on the original series, also defended the show, calling the detractors “alien life forms that we call trolls” on MSNBC’s “AM Joy.”

“You know, when you go out into space, you’re going to have even greater diversity,” he said. “These so-called trolls haven’t seen a single episode of the new series because it hasn’t been aired. And they don’t know the history of ‘Star Trek,’ that Gene Rodenberry created this with the idea of finding strength in our diversity.”

Added Takei, “These people claiming ‘Star Trek’ is racist genocide, or whatever, ‘white genocide,’ don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re equal to the president of the United States.”

Finally, the new show’s co-creator Bryan Fuller mirrored the sentiments, saying at the Television Critics Association Summer Tour, “’Star Trek’ started with a wonderful expression of diversity in its cast. We’re continuing that tradition.”

Many others on Twitter felt the same way.

Diversity is the cornerstone of Star Trek's message. "White genocide in space" is the lamest bs I've heard yet coming from the right.

— TrumpIsAnAssClown (@WideDamnAwake) May 28, 2017

About time! Missed #StarTrek. White genocide in space? Trek universe always diverse! #amjoy

— Sugaree (@sugaree71) May 28, 2017

If you think racial diversity in Star Trek is white genocide, then you have no clue what Star Trek is about.https://t.co/hUfmF9XtGC

— Lindsay Knake (@LindsayKnake) June 22, 2017

Indeed, the ‘Star Trek’ series, as Manu Saadia put it in the New Yorker, has always been about inclusion, diversity and breaking down human-made social barriers. Saadia wrote:

Each successive “Star Trek” cast has been like a model United Nations. Nichols’s black communications specialist worked alongside George Takei’s Japanese helmsman and Walter Koenig’s (admittedly campy) Russian navigator. Leonard Nimoy’s Spock was half-human, half-Vulcan, and he bore traces of the actor’s own upbringing in a poor Jewish neighborhood in Boston. The Vulcan hand greeting, for instance, which Nimoy invented, is the Hebrew letter shin, the symbol for the Shekhinah, a feminine aspect of the divine. The original series aired only a few years after the Cuban missile crisis, at the height of the Vietnam War and the space race, and its vision of a reconciled humanity was bold. Nichols, who considered leaving the show after the first season, has said that she was persuaded to stay on by Martin Luther King, Jr., who told her that he watched “Star Trek” with his wife and daughters.

This isn’t the first time an entry in the “Star Trek” series has come under fire for including ever more diverse characters. Just last year, the film “Star Trek Beyond” portrayed Sulu as a gay man. It was the first time the series featured an openly gay character, and some fans were furious.

“It is absolutely reprehensible to take (and this is what the Gay Left always does: takes) a beloved and established character and use him as a publicity stunt and Social Justice Trophy,” columnist John Nolte wrote in the Daily Wire. “The decision to make Sulu gay is not about furthering gay rights or creating a more realistic ‘Star Trek’ universe. It is about the Left telling the world: ‘Now that we have the power, we are going to shit all over everything you hold dear.’”

Such critics, though, didn’t seem to detract from the film’s success. It grossed more than $340 million worldwide.

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[Category: Entertainment, newsletter]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/17 2:54am

The trailer for CBS’s “Star Trek: Discovery,” the latest entry in the “Star Trek” universe, feature two women of color — Michelle Yeoh as the starship captain and Sonequa Martin-Green as her first officer — as they engage the Klingon people.

It’s fairly standard fare for the series, which has seen multiple entries since Gene Roddenberry created it in 1966. This new show takes place a decade before the adventures of Captain Kirk and Spock aboard the Enterprise starship, the original and most famous story in the “Star Trek” canon. What’s most shocking about the trailer is how different the Klingons look, but some fans took issue with something else entirely: the ethnicity and sex of the lead characters.

As the New Yorker reported, comments such as “Where is the alpha male that has balls and doesn’t take crap from anyone?,” “Is everything going to have to have females in every … thing?” and “Star Trek: Feminist Lesbian Edition” quickly appeared on YouTube.

On Twitter, fans focused on the lead characters’ race, often employing the term “white genocide.”

Star Trek Discovery: The only white males are a Vulcan a-hole and a wimpy helmsman. This show appears to be fully SJW converged.

— LubertDas (@lubertdas) May 18, 2017

Star Trek Discovery aka "SJW The Next Generation" Trailer Drops. Seems BLM made the trailer…

— Michael Burns (@ooohouchburn) May 18, 2017

https://t.co/E5gtwYYDtT white genocide hit new Star Trek, if you are white, you'd better be gay. GFY all you "Diversity " a-holes #tcot

— Jackie Langley (@jackieaxeNH) June 22, 2017

Star Trek: Discovery
moar liek
Star Trek: muh forced Diversity pic.twitter.com/a7WnjpWeJu

— David Laettner (@DavidLaettner) May 19, 2017

It’s an ironic complaint to make of a series that, in 1968, featured the first interracial kiss on television. And one that, in 1966, featured the first black woman to play a lead role on television when it cast Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura.

The series, in fact, has long been lauded as one of the most progressive on television, a fact not lost on Martin-Green, who was recently asked by Entertainment Weekly about the backlash. On the show, those with differing backgrounds and viewpoints often have to work together to solve problems, which Martin-Green said is “one of the foundational principles” of the series.

“I would encourage them to key into the essence and spirit of ‘Star Trek’ that has made it the legacy it is — and that’s looking across the way to the person sitting in front of you and realizing you are the same, that they are not separate from you, and we are all one,” Martin-Green said. “That’s something ‘Star Trek’ has always upheld and I completely believe that is why it’s been a mainstay in society in the hearts of so many people for so many decades.”

Courtesy CBS

George Takei, who played Sulu on the original series, also defended the show, calling the detractors “alien life forms that we call trolls” on MSNBC’s “AM Joy.”

“You know, when you go out into space, you’re going to have even greater diversity,” he said. “These so-called trolls haven’t seen a single episode of the new series because it hasn’t been aired. And they don’t know the history of ‘Star Trek,’ that Gene Rodenberry created this with the idea of finding strength in our diversity.”

Added Takei, “These people claiming ‘Star Trek’ is racist genocide, or whatever, ‘white genocide,’ don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re equal to the president of the United States.”

Finally, the new show’s co-creator Bryan Fuller mirrored the sentiments, saying at the Television Critics Association Summer Tour, “’Star Trek’ started with a wonderful expression of diversity in its cast. We’re continuing that tradition.”

Many others on Twitter felt the same way.

Diversity is the cornerstone of Star Trek's message. "White genocide in space" is the lamest bs I've heard yet coming from the right.

— TrumpIsAnAssClown (@WideDamnAwake) May 28, 2017

About time! Missed #StarTrek. White genocide in space? Trek universe always diverse! #amjoy

— Sugaree (@sugaree71) May 28, 2017

If you think racial diversity in Star Trek is white genocide, then you have no clue what Star Trek is about.https://t.co/hUfmF9XtGC

— Lindsay Knake (@LindsayKnake) June 22, 2017

Indeed, the ‘Star Trek’ series, as Manu Saadia put it in the New Yorker, has always been about inclusion, diversity and breaking down human-made social barriers. Saadia wrote:

Each successive “Star Trek” cast has been like a model United Nations. Nichols’s black communications specialist worked alongside George Takei’s Japanese helmsman and Walter Koenig’s (admittedly campy) Russian navigator. Leonard Nimoy’s Spock was half-human, half-Vulcan, and he bore traces of the actor’s own upbringing in a poor Jewish neighborhood in Boston. The Vulcan hand greeting, for instance, which Nimoy invented, is the Hebrew letter shin, the symbol for the Shekhinah, a feminine aspect of the divine. The original series aired only a few years after the Cuban missile crisis, at the height of the Vietnam War and the space race, and its vision of a reconciled humanity was bold. Nichols, who considered leaving the show after the first season, has said that she was persuaded to stay on by Martin Luther King, Jr., who told her that he watched “Star Trek” with his wife and daughters.

This isn’t the first time an entry in the “Star Trek” series has come under fire for including ever more diverse characters. Just last year, the film “Star Trek Beyond” portrayed Sulu as a gay man. It was the first time the series featured an openly gay character, and some fans were furious.

“It is absolutely reprehensible to take (and this is what the Gay Left always does: takes) a beloved and established character and use him as a publicity stunt and Social Justice Trophy,” columnist John Nolte wrote in the Daily Wire. “The decision to make Sulu gay is not about furthering gay rights or creating a more realistic ‘Star Trek’ universe. It is about the Left telling the world: ‘Now that we have the power, we are going to shit all over everything you hold dear.’”

Such critics, though, didn’t seem to detract from the film’s success. It grossed more than $340 million worldwide.

More from Morning Mix

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[Category: Entertainment, newsletter]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/17 2:09am

Bishop Thomas Paprocki leads the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Ill. (Screen grab via Facebook)

The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Ill., is calling on priests there to deny Holy Communion and even funeral rites to people in same-sex unions unless they show “some signs of repentance” for their relationships before death.

The decree by Bishop Thomas Paprocki also said that people “living publicly” in same-sex marriages may not receive the sacrament of confirmation or be admitted to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a process by which many converts become Catholic, preparing them for baptism and confirmation.

At the same time, Paprocki said that children living with a Catholic parent or parents in a same-sex marriage may be baptized. But when it comes to same-sex unions, priests cannot bless couples, church property cannot be used for ceremonies and diocesan employees are forbidden from participating, the decree said.

The bishop’s decree has not yet been made public by the diocese, but was sent to clergy and diocesan staff in an email last week. That email, in turn, was shared with other clergy around the country, as well as Catholic LGBT organizations, which posted the document and condemned it as unduly harsh, particularly in light of Pope Francis’s more compassionate posture.

“Although some other bishops and dioceses have instituted similar policies in part, this document is mean-spirited and hurtful in the extreme,” Christopher Pett, incoming president of DignityUSA, said in a news release by the organization that rallies the church for full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics.

Although same-sex marriages have been legal across the United States since the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the decree reiterates church teaching that marriage is a “covenant between one man and one woman.” The church’s official catechism states that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”

Four years ago, after gay marriage was legally recognized in Illinois, Paprocki “performed an exorcism in response to the law, suggesting politicians were ‘morally complicit’ in assisting the sins of same-sex couples,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

The 64-year-old bishop, trained as a lawyer as well as priest, has served the Springfield diocese since 2010. He was previously a priest and auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Chicago, and is known for his passion for running and penchant for playing hockey.

In a statement provided to The Post, the bishop said of the decree: “These norms are necessary in light of changes in the law and in our culture regarding these issues.” The decree states:

Jesus Christ himself affirmed the privileged place of marriage in human and Christian society by raising it to the dignity of a sacrament. Consequently, the church not only has the authority, but the serious obligation to affirm its authentic teaching on marriage to preserve and foster the sacred value of the married state.

Last year, the pope released a 256-page document, “The Joy of Love,” which affirmed the church’s traditional views on marriage, as The Post reported. At the same time, the pope said unconventional unions are not without their “constructive elements.” He called on the church’s clergy to be pastoral and not to use doctrine as a weapon.

Other clergy have also embraced a more welcoming approach. Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, recently welcomed dozens of gay and lesbian Catholics to worship. “I am Joseph your brother,” Tobin told the group, according to a New York Times report. “I am your brother, as a disciple of Jesus. I am your brother, as a sinner who finds mercy with the Lord.”

The Rev. James Martin’s latest book — “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the L.G.B.T. Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity — also calls for a gentler approach. Of the Paprocki degree, the noted Jesuit author, said in a pointed Facebook post:

If bishops ban members of same-sex marriages from receiving a Catholic funeral, they also have to be consistent. They must also ban divorced and remarried Catholics who have not received annulments, women who has or man who fathers a child out of wedlock, members of straight couples who are living together before marriage, and anyone using birth control. For those are all against church teaching as well. Moreover, they must ban anyone who does not care for the poor, or care for the environment, and anyone who supports torture, for those are church teachings too. More basically, they must ban people who are not loving, not forgiving and not merciful, for these represent the teachings of Jesus, the most fundamental of all church teachings. To focus only on LGBT people, without a similar focus on the moral and sexual behavior of straight people is, in the words of the Catechism, a “sign of unjust discrimination.”

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[Category: National, newsletter]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/17 2:09am

Bishop Thomas Paprocki leads the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Ill. (Screen grab via Facebook)

The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Ill., is calling on priests there to deny Holy Communion and even funeral rites to church members in same-sex unions unless they show “some signs of repentance” for their relationships before death.

The decree by Bishop Thomas Paprocki also said that people “living publicly” in same-sex marriages may not receive the sacrament of Confirmation or be admitted to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a process by which many converts become Catholic, preparing them for the church’s sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

At the same time, Paprocki said that children living with a Catholic parent or parents in a same-sex marriage may be baptized. But when it comes to same-sex unions, priests cannot bless couples, church property cannot be used for ceremonies and diocesan employees are forbidden from participating, the decree said.

The bishop’s decree has not yet been made public by the diocese, but was sent to clergy and diocesan staff in an email last week. That email, in turn, was shared with other clergy around the country, as well as Catholic LGBT organizations, which posted the document and condemned it as unduly harsh, particularly in light of Pope Francis’s more compassionate posture.

“Although some other bishops and dioceses have instituted similar policies in part, this document is mean-spirited and hurtful in the extreme,” Christopher Pett, incoming president of DignityUSA, said in a news release by the organization that rallies the church for full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics.

Although same-sex marriages have been legal across the United States since the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the decree reiterates church teaching that marriage is a “covenant between one man and one woman.” The church’s official catechism states that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”

Four years ago, after gay marriage was legally recognized in Illinois, Paprocki “performed an exorcism in response to the law, suggesting politicians were ‘morally complicit’ in assisting the sins of same-sex couples,” the Chicago Tribune reported. The 64-year-old bishop, trained as a lawyer as well as priest, has served the Springfield diocese since 2010. He was previously a priest and auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Chicago, and is known for his passion for running and penchant for playing hockey.

In a statement provided to The Post, the bishop said of the decree: “These norms are necessary in light of changes in the law and in our culture regarding these issues.” The decree states:

Jesus Christ himself affirmed the privileged place of marriage in human and Christian society by raising it to the dignity of a sacrament. Consequently, the church not only has the authority, but the serious obligation to affirm its authentic teaching on marriage to preserve and foster the sacred value of the married state.

Last year, the pope released a 256-page document, “The Joy of Love,” which affirmed the church’s traditional views on marriage, as The Post reported. At the same time, the pope said unconventional unions are not without their “constructive elements.” He called on the church’s clergy to be pastoral and not to use doctrine as a weapon.

Other clergy have also embraced a more welcoming approach. Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, recently welcomed dozens of gay and lesbian Catholics to worship. “I am Joseph your brother,” Tobin told the group, according to a New York Times report. “I am your brother, as a disciple of Jesus. I am your brother, as a sinner who finds mercy with the Lord.”

The Rev. James Martin’s latest book — “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the L.G.B.T. Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity — also calls for a gentler approach. Of the Paprocki degree, the noted Jesuit author, said in a pointed Facebook post:

If bishops ban members of same-sex marriages from receiving a Catholic funeral, they also have to be consistent. They must also ban divorced and remarried Catholics who have not received annulments, women who has or man who fathers a child out of wedlock, members of straight couples who are living together before marriage, and anyone using birth control. For those are all against church teaching as well. Moreover, they must ban anyone who does not care for the poor, or care for the environment, and anyone who supports torture, for those are church teachings too. More basically, they must ban people who are not loving, not forgiving and not merciful, for these represent the teachings of Jesus, the most fundamental of all church teachings. To focus only on LGBT people, without a similar focus on the moral and sexual behavior of straight people is, in the words of the Catechism, a “sign of unjust discrimination.”

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[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/23/17 12:59am

Alyssa Milano and Ted Cruz.(Patrick Eccelsine/Reuters)

Actress Alyssa Milano of “Who’s the Boss?” and “Melrose Place” tweeted an electronic group hug Tuesday, which she encouraged everyone to “get in.”

~GROUPHUG~
get in.

— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) June 21, 2017

Well, maybe not everyone.

After the post had collected thousands of “likes” and hundreds of retweets, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) decided to “get in” on the fun. He retweeted Milano, adding his own caption: “We all need a hug!” He also included a winking face emoji, which according to Urban Dictionary, “is used as a way to convey the playful sentiment in a medium, such as text, where emotions can’t otherwise be displayed. Depending on the context, it can be flirtatious, but usually denotes joking.”

We all need a hug! https://t.co/I9vZChpRTw

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 22, 2017

Why the wonky Cruz, or perhaps a Cruz staffer, would even be following Alyssa Milano is uncertain. Milano is a passionate Democrat who has long spoken out against the Republican party. Most recently, she volunteered to go door-to-door in suburban Atlanta to help campaign for Jon Ossoff, the unsuccessful candidate for Congress in Georgia’s 6th District. She even drove voters to the polls, People Magazine reported. Right-wing website Breitbart suggested her “group hug” tweet was in reference to Ossoff losing the election.

 

Here are the Republicans that wrote the senate #HealthcareBill. Very. White. Men. pic.twitter.com/kv6cR10uRy

— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) June 22, 2017

Milano quickly tweeted to him, “Not you, @tedcruz. You’re not invited.” She then mirrored his tweet by adding a winky face emoji of her own.

Not you, @tedcruz. You're not invited. pic.twitter.com/1NTZFvwk9h

— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) June 22, 2017

Many others followed suit, similarly insulting the senator.

“Ted, reaching creep factor 1000 with the winky emoji,” tweeted one user.

“Thanks for ruining hugs,” tweeted another.

Other tweets read, “Nobody touch Ted! It’s a trap!” and “Sorry, @tedcruz, but you’re actually one of the reasons we need a hug. Own it.”

Milano herself added one more message.

.@tedcruz but anytime you want to get together to talk about your duty to your constituents, I'd love to chat. People before party.

— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) June 22, 2017

Cruz, it should be noted, is well trafficked in the art of using the winky face, be it emoji or emoticon. Just look at this tweet mocking Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).

Covfefe? Hard to say, but I hear Al Franken's new book is full of it ;) https://t.co/o6BSSUyKE4

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 31, 2017

 

[Category: Entertainment, Politics, newsletter]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/22/17 5:49am

False alarm: Caltech staffer accidentally sends alert for large earthquake in Santa Barbara – that happened in 1925 https://t.co/3c8BFEPYqD pic.twitter.com/4I2NaoRyAb

— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) June 22, 2017

Scores of people around the world received reports on their email accounts and Twitter feeds Wednesday, alerting them to a powerful earthquake with a magnitude potentially capable of causing buildings to crumble.

A 6.8-magnitude earthquake reportedly hit the Pacific Ocean about 10 miles from Santa Barbara, Calif., the U.S. Geological Survey alert stated.

A minute after the alert, at 4:52 p.m. Pacific time, the Los Angeles Times automatically published a story to its website — and a tweet to its account — alerting readers to the report of the earthquake.

The alert sent droves of reporters and others in California and beyond searching for information about the quake. Surely millions of people would have felt a tremor of that magnitude. But why was no one tweeting about it?

Struggling to find any information on the USGS site or elsewhere online, people wondered, did anyone feel it?

“Obviously no one felt it,” Justin Pressfield, a USGS spokesman, told The Washington Post. “Because it didn’t happen.”

The report, it turns out, was a false alarm.

Indeed, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake once struck near Santa Barbara — in 1925.

A U.S. Geological Survey map shows the location of the actual 6.8-magnitude earthquake in 1925. (Screen grab).

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology mistakenly triggered the notification while working to correct the exact location of an earthquake that took place near Santa Barbara on June 29, 1925, the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times later reported.

Some scientists had recently noted that the tremor’s location was actually six miles from where it was initially reported, Pressfield said, adding that the USGS partners with numerous universities to compile its historic earthquake database.

So in the process of making the necessary corrections to the earthquake’s records, someone on the university’s research team accidentally triggered an email from the USGS email server, a California Institute of Technology spokesman told the Los Angeles Times.

Even more confusing, those who took a closer look at the alert would have noticed that the subject line of the USGS email included a date of June 29, 2025.

That alert, in turn, automatically generated a story on the Los Angeles Times website through an algorithm called Quakebot, which generates articles about earthquakes based on USGS notifications, the Los Angeles Times tweeted.

We have an algorithm (Quakebot) that automatically writes stories about earthquakes based on USGS alerts. The USGS alert was incorrect.

— L.A. Times: L.A. Now (@LANow) June 22, 2017

Shortly after the alert sent out, the USGS announced on Twitter that it was a false alarm. Within a half-hour, a more detailed statement appeared on its website clarifying the software issue. And about an hour after the initial alert was emailed to USGS subscribers, a second email was sent out correcting the false information.

The Los Angeles Times also tweeted a correction to their initial story. Which in turn welcomed a plethora of Twitter jokes.

Back in 1925 we were all on 56k dialup, and tweets were slow to process.

— InsideHoops.com NBA (@InsideHoops) June 22, 2017

Unfortunately, some mistakes are of larger magnitude than others

— Elias Saadeh (@CarneASaadeh) June 22, 2017

The definition of fake news is changing a lot these days

— Wolf (@lobowski) June 22, 2017

A software glitch turned an update of the magnitude of 1925 Santa Barbara quake M6.8 into a 2025 quake. New method for predicting quakes?

— Dr. Lucy Jones (@DrLucyJones) June 22, 2017

“We’re still trying to figure out how that happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Pressfield said. He added that while occasionally the USGS will report erroneous preliminary information about seismic activity, he could not recall an error like this happening during his time with the government agency.

A disclaimer on the agency’s website even states that earthquake information delivered through the notification service is preliminary and does not imply an impending threat.

The false alarm, “in my mind exemplifies some of the problems” with automated technology. But one of the beauties of technology, Pressfield said, is that “people can easily then go online and double check it.”

“Technology in this case had a hiccup,” Pressfield said. “But the advancement of technology is still fantastic for earthquake purposes.”

A similar false alert was sent out by Japan’s meteorological agency in August of last year, telling people a massive, 9.1-magnitude quake struck the Tokyo area. The agency canceled the alert seconds later, but not before at least one smartphone app disseminated the information, sending people into a panic and even disrupting certain train services.

Santa Barbara has suffered numerous serious earthquakes through the decades, and there are several faults that cross through the area. As a 2003 article in the Santa Barbara Independent stated, the 1925 temblor is among the best known, and one of the earthquakes that caused the most damage in the region. Thirteen people died as a result of the quake and several buildings were leveled, according to the Associated Press.

An archived article in the Los Angeles Times described how the “severe temblor,” on June 29, 1925, “demolished or seriously damaged virtually all brick concrete and stone structures in the city” and forced Santa Barbara’s 30,000 residents at the time to sleep on the city’s lawns, in public parks and on the beach.

Three structures near the waterfront were burned, and a famous hotel was “virtually wrecked.” Pavements along the water were ripped apart “as though from the force of an explosion.”

“The terror and panic,” the article stated, “gripped the city when the first temblor brought buildings crashing to earth and threw many sleeping men, women and children from their beds.”

 

 

[Category: National, Science, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/22/17 5:46am

John Oliver at an event in New York City on June 13, 2017. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

“Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver knew he was inviting a legal battle when he used his show Sunday to lambaste one of the country’s largest coal mining companies and mock its chief executive.

But it had to be done, he said.

In a 24-minute segment on the decline of the coal industry and President Trump’s tenuous promises to bring it back, Oliver railed against the mining giant Murray Energy Corporation and CEO Robert E. Murray, who has blamed the industry’s troubles on an “evil agenda” by President Barack Obama.

Before he got going, Oliver offered up a proviso. “I’m going to need to be careful here,” he said, “because when we contacted Murray Energy for this piece, they sent us a letter instructing us to ‘cease and desist from any effort to defame, harass, or otherwise injure Mr. Murray or Murray Energy,’ and telling us that ‘failure to do so will result in immediate litigation.'”

Then he tore into the 77-year-old coal magnate.

Murray looked like a “geriatric Dr. Evil,” he said, who mistreated his employees and tried to weaken coal safety regulations through litigation. He suggested Murray was “on the same side as black lung” and criticized his response to a deadly 2007 mine accident in Utah found to have been caused by safety violations.

He called up a satirical article in the United Mine Workers of America’s journal that described a squirrel hopping onto Murray’s porch and telling him, “You should be operating your very own mines” (the company said this was not, in fact, a true story).

Finally, in a stunt fit only for late night television, Oliver brought out a man in a giant squirrel costume and paraded him around the stage.

“Bob Murray, I didn’t really plan for so much of this piece to be about you, but you kinda forced my hand on that one,” Oliver said. “And I know you’re probably going to sue me over this. But, you know what? I stand by everything I said.”

On Wednesday, Murray did sue Oliver for defamation, along with HBO and Time Warner.

The lawsuit, filed in West Virginia circuit court, accuses Oliver of carrying out a “meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation” of Murray and broadcasting false statements about his company to HBO’s 134 million paying subscribers.

The goal is to allow Murray, who is said to be gravely ill, to “set the record straight,” the complaint says.

“Nothing has ever stressed him more than this vicious and untruthful attack,” it says, adding that Oliver’s segment was an attempt to advance “biases against the coal industry” and “disdain for the coal-related policies of the Trump Administration.”

Robert Murray, chief executive of Murray Energy Corp., speaks in his office at the Crandall Canyon Mine, in Huntington, Utah, in 2007. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

When Oliver’s writers contacted Murray Energy for comment prior to airing the segment, the company’s representatives warned them that they were using outdated information and discredited reports to support the show’s arguments, according to the complaint. Nevertheless, it says, Oliver ignored other materials Murray Energy provided that might have set him straight.

The lawsuit claims that Oliver deliberately omitted facts offered by Murray Energy that, in the company’s view, contradicted Oliver’s account of the mining accident in Utah. Murray and his company have argued that an earthquake, not dangerous mining operations, triggered the collapse of the Crandall Canyon Mine, which killed nine miners.

"Welcome, welcome, welcome to Last Week To-nut, I'm Mr. Nutterbutter. Just time for a quick recap of the week…" pic.twitter.com/Gsveb3PUfb

— Last Week Tonight (@LastWeekTonight) June 19, 2017

Murray’s complaint also addresses the squirrel episode:

In reference to Mr. Murray’s denial of an absurd story that Mr. Murray claimed a squirrel told him he should operate his own mines, Defendant Oliver stated, “You know what, I actually believe Murray on that one” and “Even by your standard that would be a pretty ridiculous thing to say.” This implied that Mr. Murray lied about other, more important matters, such as the cause of the mine collapse, and that he treated the affected families with “honesty, sincerity and compassion.”

The complaint alleges one count each of defamation, false light invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It seeks financial damages and an injunction barring the rebroadcast of Oliver’s segment.

In an emailed statement Wednesday, Murray Energy said the company sent letters earlier this month to Oliver, Time Warner and HBO, then held a conference call with their counsel on Saturday to “correct what we knew of their proposed false and destructive broadcast.” The defendants “ignored our communications and, instead, continued to baselessly and maliciously attack the character of Mr. Murray and Murray Energy, with no factual basis whatsoever,” the statement read.

Spokesmen for Time Warner and HBO did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Thursday morning.

Murray is known for aggressively suing journalists and media organizations that run critical content about him and his companies. Between 2001 and 2015, he filed at least nine lawsuits against journalists and news outlets that published a negative advertisement from an activist group, claiming they maligned his character and threatened his employees’ jobs, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Most if not all never went to trial.

In 2013, he sued the Huffington Post and a blogger for defamation over a story that called him an “extremist coal baron” and criticized his donations to a gubernatorial candidate. The case was dismissed the following year.

In May, Murray Energy sued the New York Times for libel after the newspaper published an editorial accusing the CEO of lying about the Crandall Canyon Mine and calling the company a “serial violator” of federal health and safety rules. Murray is also suing a corporate intelligence firm for disseminating articles that used anonymous sources to report on the company’s discussions with debt holders. The firm, Reorg Research Inc., is currently fighting a court order to reveal the sources.

[Category: Business, National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/22/17 5:33am

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley speaks at a news conference Wednesday in St. Louis.  Looking on is Jammie Fabick, whose 17-year-old daughter died of an opioid overdose in 2014. (AP Photo/Jim Salter)

Helen Fabick was an honors student who in February 2014 was supposed to attend a daddy-daughter dance at her high school.

Instead, her father found the 17-year-old dead in her bed.

“If this sounds like a nightmare, it has definitely been a nightmare for our family,” Helen’s mother, Jammie Fabick, said during a news conference Wednesday with Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. “It’s something no parent should ever have to do, to bury her own child, to something so senseless.”

Fabick and Hawley stood together in St. Louis as the state’s top lawyer announced he was suing three pharmaceutical giants he claims are responsible for a “coordinated campaign of fraud and deception” that has led to Missouri’s current opioid crisis.

The lawsuit, Hawley said, will seek “hundreds of millions of dollars” in damages and civil penalties from Endo Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson, reported the Associated Press.

He said the companies have used fraudulent science to mislead patients on the addictive risks of opioids and “profited from the suffering of Missourians.”

“They used bogus front organizations and fake research; they used fraudulent advertising and deceptive trade practices,” Hawley said in prepared remarks, according to Reuters. “And they repeatedly lied about the true risks of the drugs they sold.”

In Missouri in 2015, thousands of people were hospitalized from non-heroin opioid overdoses and about 500 people died, according to the AP.

Yet it’s the only state in the country with no prescription drug monitoring system, a database that experts have said is a crucial step to curbing addiction and overdoses.

Proposals have languished in the legislature for half a dozen sessions.

At the news conference Wednesday, Hawley said Missouri lawmakers “should act to pass a prescription drug monitoring program” as just one of several efforts to “address what is a national epidemic but one that has had serious consequences here in the state of Missouri,” reported the AP.

With Hawley’s lawsuit, Missouri becomes the third state to legally challenge the pharmaceutical industry over the current opioid epidemic.

In 2015, Mississippi sued several drug companies and just last month, Ohio filed its own lawsuit against five pharmaceutical groups. Purdue, Endo and Johnson & Johnson were cited in both, reported Reuters.

Endo told the Kansas City Star it would not comment on pending litigation, but Stephen Mock, the vice president for investor relations and corporate affairs wrote in an email that the company’s “top priorities include patient safety and ensuring that patients with chronic pain have access to safe and effective therapeutic options.”

A spokesman for Purdue vigorously denied the allegations, reported the Star, but said the company shares “the attorney general’s concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions.”

A Janssen spokeswoman told the Star that the company had “acted appropriately, responsibly and in the best interests of patients regarding our opioid pain medications, which are FDA-approved and carry FDA-mandated warnings about the known risks of the medications on every product label.”

In March, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) launched an investigation into five top opioid manufacturers and their alleged role in the deaths of more than 200,000 people since 2000, as The Washington Post previously reported. Purdue and Janssen were on her list of companies from whom she demanded information.

At the news conference Wednesday with the attorney general, Fabick said she wasn’t educated when her daughter died in 2014.

“I didn’t see any of the exact signs (of drug abuse),” Fabick said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “You never know when it’s going to be your last hug.”

[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/22/17 5:08am

Rebecca Burger, Instagram

A popular fitness blogger and Instagram model in France died after a pressurized canister used for dispensing whipped cream exploded, hitting her in the chest.

Rebecca Burger’s death from the June 17 incident was announced on social media Wednesday by her family, who warned of the potential risks of defective whip cream dispensers.

Voici un exemple de siphon à chantilly qui a explosé et percuté le thorax de Rebecca, entraînant son décès. Précision : le siphon qui a engendré sa mort quant à lui été mis sous scellé. N’utilisez pas ce genre d’ustensile chez vous ! Plusieurs dizaines de milliers d’appareils défectueux sont encore en circulation.

A post shared by Rebecca Burger (@rebeccablikes) on Jun 20, 2017 at 12:08pm PDT

The post published on Burger’s Instagram page to her more than 150,000 followers read:

Here’s an example of the cartridge/siphon from Chantilly that exploded and struck Rebecca’s chest, killing her. Take note: the cartridge that caused her death was sealed. Do not use this type of device in your home! Tens of thousands of these appliances are still in circulation.

Authorities in Eastern France told the French newspaper 20 Minutes, that Burger, 33, suffered cardiac arrest in her home in Galfingue on Saturday and firefighters were able to revive her heartbeat. But Burger was unconscious when she arrived to the hospital and died the following day.

Whipped cream dispensers use nitrous oxide canisters, which, when pierced by a pin, release the gas and pressurize the cream container.

According to the consumer magazine, 60 Millions, two people were gravely injured in 2014 by whipped cream canister dispensers in France.

A 2014 news release by the French economy ministry advised people to be cautious when using cream dispensers: “Since 2010, several models of kitchen syphons, also called cream syphons, have turned out to be dangerous and led to home accidents.”

Ard’Time, the company of the whip cream dispenser Burger reportedly used has been recalled because of reports that the plastic head could explode and fly off, according to their website.

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

Attention!Information Importante à diffuser le plus possible.Pour les siphons de notre marque rendez vous sur le site:www.ardtime.net

Posted by Ard'time on Friday, December 18, 2015

In addition to posting fitness pictures on Instagram, Burger ran the lifestyle blog Rebecca Likes where she would document her travels and outfits. She uploaded her first YouTube video on June 10 showing her on a trip in Bali.

In an Instagram post, Women’s Best, an online health store which Burger promoted online, paid tribute to the blogger.

We are sorry to announce the sad news of losing this beautiful soul. Our french athlete Rebecca Burger (@RebeccaBlikes) passed away. Rebecca was not only a great fitness figure but a generous and kind person to work with. Please pray for her soul to rest in peace and for her family to stay strong. We will always be proud of you Rebecca ❤

A post shared by WOMEN’S BEST (@womensbest) on Jun 19, 2017 at 11:48am PDT

The BBC reported that in 2013, one victim of an exploding cream dispenser told RTL radio: “I had six broken ribs, and my sternum was broken. At the hospital, I was told that if the shock and blast had been facing the heart, I would be dead now.”

In 2014, a consumer watchdog group in France issued a warning about dispensers with “defective parts …. When a user screws a new gas cartridge into the head of one of the defective canisters the resulting pressure causes the spray nozzle to break free and fire off like a rubber bullet,” it reported, according to The Local. 

Officials have opened an investigation into Burger’s death.

Bastien Inzaurralde contributed to this story.

[Category: International, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/22/17 4:27am

Our Creative sessions always start and end like this. #HouseOfFriends

A post shared by Casamigos Tequila (@casamigos) on Apr 20, 2017 at 12:59pm PDT

George Clooney’s “perfect” tequila — so smooth it doesn’t burn the throat, require lime and salt or, apparently, induce a hangover — was only meant to be consumed by the actor and his friends. It was never meant to become a brand or a company.

But almost by accident, it did.

On Wednesday, spirits giant Diageo bought Casamigos for up to $1 billion.

Four years after Clooney and his two friends, Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman, debuted their tequila brand Diageo announced it had acquired the company. Calling it “the fastest growing super-premium tequila brand in the U.S.,” Diageo said in a news release that the transaction went for an initial $700 million with another $300 million possible if sales go well.

“If you asked us four years ago if we had a billion dollar company, I don’t think we would have said yes,” Clooney said in a statement to reporters. “This reflects Diageo’s belief in our company and our belief in Diageo.”

The acquisition should be finalized by the second half of 2017, but Clooney said he and his business partners aren’t going anywhere.

“We’ll still be very much a part of Casamigos,” Clooney said in the statement. “Starting with a shot tonight. Maybe two.”

Chicks dig us. #HappyEaster pic.twitter.com/8FoqQjJ7O8

— Casamigos Tequila (@Casamigos) April 16, 2017

Casamigos has been a labor of love for Clooney and his friends, who started out as tequila lovers and are now tequila kings.

While Casamigos might not need any salt, the story of its origin, as told by Clooney and friends, might require a grain of it.

Clooney, an award-winning actor, and Gerber, a liquor entrepreneur and the husband of model Cindy Crawford, became friends decades ago over tequila. Clooney was shooting a movie in New York and Gerber owned the bar he would drink at.

Fast forward to 2011. Clooney and Gerber spent that year in hotels across Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where they were building adjacent, massive vacation homes on the beach. At the hotel bars, the friends drank on the bartenders’ recommendations — top shelf tequila and cheap tequila, tequila that was bad and tequila that was good.

Nothing, though, was quite good enough.

“We were always looking for the perfect tequila and we could never find it, so we said, ‘What the hell?'” Clooney told the Miami Herald. “Let’s give it a shot and make our own.”

Gerber, who had already launched the award-winning Caliche Rum, started researching distilleries in the area. In Jalisco, they found a “master distiller” who was making tequila with which they thought they could work.

Over the next two years, they went through nearly 1,000 sample bottles while refining their blend. As they tell it, they critiqued each bottle and forced friends into blind taste tests. They finally settled upon a recipe that worked — no burn, no chasers, no hangovers — and named it Casamigos, the same name they’d given their vacation compound, which loosely translates to “house of friends.”

“George opened the sample, poured one for me, poured one for him, and we tasted it,” Gerber told CNBC of the winning blend last year. “We both looked at each other, had another taste of it, and we were like, ‘This is it. It’s perfect.’”

But after two blissful years of guzzling Casamigos at Casamigos, their distiller called with bad news: the celebrities either had to get licensed and become a business, or quit drinking the tequila altogether.

“It was just for us,” Gerber told CNBC. “We didn’t really want to be in the business. We figure, George is an actor and a director. I own restaurants and bars and wasn’t looking to get in another business.

“‘But then the distiller called and said, ‘Hey guys, we have a little problem. In the past two years we’ve been sending you about a thousand bottles a year. Either you’re selling it or you’re drinking way too much — either way, we can’t keep calling it samples. You guys have to get licensed and do this right.’”

“We wanted to keep drinking it,” Gerber told CNBC last year.

Looking back to where it all began. #NationalBestFriendDay #HouseOfFriends pic.twitter.com/IBYwESy0uy

— Casamigos Tequila (@Casamigos) June 8, 2017

So their tequila went public, and quickly rocketed in sales. They sold it with a simple slogan — “made by friends for friends” — and aimed for a bottle aesthetic that was simple.

“We talked about how this was going to be like the bottles you see in old John Wayne movies,” Clooney once told AzureAzure, “where you slide the bottle down the bar, pull the cork out with your teeth, and pour yourself a shot.”

Ultimately, it was the product inside the glass that mattered.

“We didn’t just slap our names onto some glue and try to talk people into drinking it,” Clooney said in an interview with Architectural Digest in 2013. “It’s what we drink whenever we’re at the house.”

As soon as the product went public, Clooney and Gerber became celebrity ambassadors for the product, traveling to bars and parties across the world to sell Casamigos. In 2015, they created Casamigos Spirits Company to be the exclusive importer for their tequila.

Some tequila critics didn’t agree on its perfection.

“Many new people to Tequila bought Casamigos, because they didn’t know any better, and after hearing that it’s somewhat drinkable, and that George Clooney was involved got a pass,” said a review in Long Island Lou Tequila, which rated it “artificially sweet and overpriced.”

On the other hand, Drink Spirits rated Casamigos Anejo Tequila as “dangerously drinkable … very much a gateway tequila, a perfect spot for folks who never have considered sipping their tequila straight to start.”

By 2016, the company sold 120,000 cases of Casamigos, and the brand is expected to exceed 170,000 cases by the end of 2017, according to Diageo.

“We are extremely excited to team up with one of the largest, most respected spirits companies in the world,” Gerber said in a statement after the announcement Wednesday. “What started from a friendship and an idea to create the best tasting, smoothest tequila as our own house tequila to drink and share with friends, has quickly turned into the fastest growing super-premium tequila. Casamigos has always been brought to you by those who drink it and we look forward to continuing that, working alongside the expertise and global reach of Diageo.”

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[Category: Business, National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/22/17 2:36am

Bascom Hall on the campus of the University of Wisconsin. (BigStock Photo)

Conservative media commentator Ben Shapiro was just a few minutes into a lecture at the University of Wisconsin last fall when more than a dozen student protesters rose from the audience and began chanting “shame!” and “safety!” in hopes of drowning him out.

Some of the protesters made their way to the front of the room and stood in front of Shapiro, a former Breitbart News editor who was giving a speech titled “Dismantling Safe Spaces,” as the university’s independent student newspaper reported at the time. Eventually, campus police arrived and the group exited, allowing Shapiro to carry on.

Under a new bill approved Wednesday night by the Wisconsin State Assembly, such student protesters in the UW system could be suspended or even expelled if they repeatedly disrupt campus speakers they disagree with.

The Republican-backed legislation, called the Campus Free Speech Act, is part of a national effort by conservative groups to crack down on protests intended to silence controversial speakers on liberal college campuses. Similar measures have been in Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia and California.

Demonstrations like the one that interrupted Shapiro’s speech last fall have become an increasingly common sight at universities around the country as debate has roiled over how to curb hate speech while protecting free expression and intellectual diversity. Some demonstrations have turned violent, like the recent protests and riots in Berkeley, Calif., that shut down a planned lecture by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

After nearly four hours of debate Wednesday night, Wisconsin lawmakers approved the Campus Free Speech Act in a 61-36 vote along party lines, with no Democrats supporting it. The bill now heads to the State Senate.

Rep. Jesse Kremer, the lead sponsor, said he introduced the bill in response to “situations where students’ free speech rights have been taken away.” The goal, he said, was to make the state university’s campuses more civil for people of all political orientations.

“We don’t want to get to the point of having situations in Wisconsin like Berkeley,” Kremer, a Republican from Kewaskum, Wis., told The Washington Post. “It’s not meant to hurt anyone. People are still allowed to protest and disagree. It’s that the person in a forum has the right to get their point across without being disrupted.”

But assembly Democrats have warned that the bill could have a chilling effect on campus speech if it becomes law.

“Our colleges and universities should be a place to vigorously debate ideas and ultimately learn from one another,” Rep. Lisa Subeck, a Democrat from Madison, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Instead, this campus gag rule creates an atmosphere of fear where free expression and dissent are discouraged.”

Campus gag rule sets atmosphere of fear. Protect free speech by exercising it, not restricting it. https://t.co/3d1VuipB2x #WIDeserveBetter

— Lisa Subeck (@LisaSubeck) June 22, 2017

Under the legislation, students in the UW system could face a disciplinary hearing if they receive two or more complaints about disruptive conduct during a speech or presentation. If a student is found responsible for “interfering with the expressive rights of others,” the bill would require that the student be suspended for a minimum of one semester. A third violation would result in expulsion. Anyone who feels their expressive rights are violated can file a complaint.

The legislation, based on a model bill from the conservative Goldwater Institute, would require the UW system to remain neutral on public controversies and require the Board of Regents to report annually on disciplinary matters and “free expression barriers and disruptions.” It also would require institutions to explain their free speech rules and policies in their orientation materials.

Free speech applies to both sides. Something the liberals and anarchists refuse to tolerate. Good job Wisconsin.

— Gary Schmitt (@Gary469998) May 31, 2017

Republican Gov. Scott Walker has expressed support for the measure.

“To me, a university should be precisely the spot where you have an open and free dialogue about all different positions,” he told WISN in April. “But the minute you shut down a speaker, no matter whether they are liberal or conservative or somewhere in between, I just think that’s wrong.”

Others voiced skepticism. Democratic Rep. Cory Mason told the Associated Press the bill’s requirements would “neuter” universities from “having any stance on things.” And one Republican, Rep. Bob Gannon, said he worried that liberals could use it to silence conservative students seeking to protest abortion or gun control.

“I’m afraid it’s going to intimidate students into silence — conservative students into silence,” he told the Journal Sentinel.

The legislation comes at a time of extraordinary tension on college campuses around the country. Many conservatives accuse liberal students and outside agitators of suppressing free speech by demonstrating — sometimes violently — against controversial speakers. Those protesting often contend that such speakers are engaging in unprotected hate speech and threatening the safety of minority students, women and others through their words.

Several weeks after a violent mob shut down Yiannopoulos’s lecture in Berkeley, a planned lecture there by conservative writer Ann Coulter was canceled over threats of unrest. Scuffles also broke out in April during a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer at Auburn University in Alabama. And in May, angry protesters at Middlebury College cut short a speech by the conservative scholar Charles Murray, author of a widely criticized book linking I.Q. scores to race, and badgered him as he tried to exit.

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[Category: National, newsletter]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/22/17 2:36am

Bascom Hall on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (BigStock Photo)

Conservative media commentator Ben Shapiro was just a few minutes into a lecture at the University of Wisconsin Madison last fall when more than a dozen student protesters rose from the audience and began chanting “shame!” and “safety!” in hopes of drowning him out.

Some of the protesters made their way to the front of the room and stood in front of Shapiro, a former Breitbart News editor, who was giving a speech titled “Dismantling Safe Spaces,” as the university’s student newspaper reported at the time. Eventually, campus police arrived and the group exited, allowing Shapiro to carry on.

Under a new bill approved Wednesday night by the Wisconsin State Assembly, such student protesters in the UW system could be suspended or even expelled if they repeatedly disrupt campus speakers they disagree with.

The Republican-backed legislation, called the Campus Free Speech Act, is part of a national effort by conservative groups to crack down on protests intended to silence controversial speakers on liberal college campuses. Similar measures have been enacted in California, according to the AP, and are being considered in Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia and California.

Demonstrations like the one that interrupted Shapiro’s speech last fall have become an increasingly common sight at universities around the country as debate has roiled over how to curb hate speech while protecting free expression and intellectual diversity. Some demonstrations have turned violent, like the recent protests and riots in Berkeley, Calif., that shut down a planned lecture by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

After nearly four hours of debate Wednesday night, Wisconsin lawmakers approved the Campus Free Speech Act in a 61-36 vote along party lines, with no Democrats supporting it. The bill now heads to the State Senate.

Rep. Jesse Kremer, the lead sponsor, said he introduced the bill in response to “situations where students’ free speech rights have been taken away.” The goal, he said, was to make the state university’s campuses more civil for people of all political orientations.

“We don’t want to get to the point of having situations in Wisconsin like Berkeley,” Kremer, a Republican from Kewaskum, Wis., told The Washington Post. “It’s not meant to hurt anyone. People are still allowed to protest and disagree. It’s that the person in a forum has the right to get their point across without being disrupted.”

But assembly Democrats have warned that the bill could have a chilling effect on campus speech if it becomes law.

“Our colleges and universities should be a place to vigorously debate ideas and ultimately learn from one another,” Rep. Lisa Subeck, a Democrat from Madison, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Instead, this campus gag rule creates an atmosphere of fear where free expression and dissent are discouraged.”

Campus gag rule sets atmosphere of fear. Protect free speech by exercising it, not restricting it. https://t.co/3d1VuipB2x #WIDeserveBetter

— Lisa Subeck (@LisaSubeck) June 22, 2017

Under the legislation, students in the UW system could face a disciplinary hearing if they receive two or more complaints about disruptive conduct during a speech or presentation. If a student is found responsible for “interfering with the expressive rights of others,” the bill would require that the student be suspended for a minimum of one semester. A third violation would result in expulsion. Anyone who feels their expressive rights are violated can file a complaint.

The legislation, based on a model bill from the conservative Goldwater Institute, would require the UW system to remain neutral on public controversies and require the Board of Regents to report annually on disciplinary matters and “free expression barriers and disruptions.” It also would require institutions to explain their free speech rules and policies in their orientation materials.

Free speech applies to both sides. Something the liberals and anarchists refuse to tolerate. Good job Wisconsin.

— Gary Schmitt (@Gary469998) May 31, 2017

Republican Gov. Scott Walker has expressed support for the measure.

“To me, a university should be precisely the spot where you have an open and free dialogue about all different positions,” he told WISN in April. “But the minute you shut down a speaker, no matter whether they are liberal or conservative or somewhere in between, I just think that’s wrong.”

Others voiced skepticism. Democratic Rep. Cory Mason told the Associated Press the bill’s requirements would “neuter” universities from “having any stance on things.” And one Republican, Rep. Bob Gannon, said he worried that liberals could use it to silence conservative students seeking to protest abortion or gun control.

“I’m afraid it’s going to intimidate students into silence — conservative students into silence,” he told the Journal Sentinel.

The legislation comes at a time of extraordinary tension on college campuses around the country. Many conservatives accuse liberal students and outside agitators of suppressing free speech by demonstrating — sometimes violently — against controversial speakers. Those protesting often contend that such speakers are engaging in unprotected hate speech and threatening the safety of minority students, women and others through their words.

Several weeks after a violent mob shut down Yiannopoulos’s lecture in Berkeley, a planned lecture there by conservative writer Ann Coulter was canceled over threats of unrest. Scuffles also broke out in April during a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer at Auburn University in Alabama. And in May, angry protesters at Middlebury College cut short a speech by the conservative scholar Charles Murray, author of a widely criticized book linking I.Q. scores to race, and badgered him as he tried to exit.

More from Morning Mix

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‘I don’t want you to get shooted,’ girl, 4, begged mother after Philando Castile shooting

‘Fake news,’ tweets Ivanka Trump. Marco Rubio ‘is an excellent hugger.’

[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/22/17 1:37am

Police video footage from July 6, 2016, shows St. Anthony, Minn.., police officer Jeronimo Yanez, firing at Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn. (St. Anthony Police Department/AP)

In the back seat of a patrol car, moments after witnessing a Minnesota police officer fire seven shots at Philando Castile, Diamond Reynolds’ 4-year-old daughter begged her mother to stop screaming, in fear that officers would shoot her, too.

“Mom, please stop cussing and screaming ’cause I don’t want you to get shooted,” the girl pleaded to Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend.

Reynolds, whom police had placed in the back seat next to her daughter, gave the girl a kiss.

“I can keep you safe,” her daughter said.

“It’s okay,” Reynolds responded. “I got it, okay?”

The dialogue — captured in video footage from a police officer’s squad car — was part of a trove of files released by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Wednesday, five days after police officer Jeronimo Yanez, 29, was acquitted of manslaughter in Castile’s July 2016 death during a traffic stop.

On Tuesday, state officials also released to the public a police dashboard camera recording of the shooting itself, along with a collection of other documents and evidence from the state’s investigation into the shooting, The Washington Post reported.

[What the police officer who shot Philando Castile said about the shooting]

The scene between Reynolds and her daughter provides an even deeper look into the initial aftermath of the shooting in Falcon Heights, Minn., which was live-streamed worldwide on Facebook by Reynolds, who was sitting next to Castile in the car when the officer fired. Her 4-year-old daughter was sitting in the back seat.

The officer testified that he feared for his life after Castile told him that he had a gun. Reynolds told authorities Castile was shot while reaching for his wallet, not his gun, which he had a permit to carry. Castile, 32, worked a nutrition services supervisor for St. Paul Public Schools.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, who met with black leaders on Wednesday, spoke of the video footage during a news conference, the Star Tribune reported.

“Seeing the little girl and her mother in the back of the squad car, hearing a child’s narrative of what occurred, it was really awful,” Dayton said.

In the video of the back seat, Reynolds’ daughter is shown trying to console her mother, whom police had handcuffs and did not yet know whether Castile was alive or dead.

“It’s okay, Mommy,” the girl said.

“I can’t believe they just did this,” Reynolds responded. As the mother screamed and cried, her daughter held her close.

“It’s okay, I’m right here with you,” the girl said.

Minutes later, Reynolds moved around in her seat as her daughter asked her to stay quiet, so she wouldn’t be shot.

“They’re not gonna shoot me, okay?” Reynolds said. “I’m already in handcuffs.”

“Don’t take them off,” the girl begged. “I wish this town was safer.”

“That’s true.” Reynolds said.

“I don’t want it to be like this anymore,” the girl said.

“Tell that to the police, okay?” Reynolds said. “When they come and get me, tell them you wish that they didn’t have to kill people.”

In another angle of the video footage, officers instructed the mother and daughter to put on their seat belts in the back seat. A voice told Reynolds she was being taken to give a statement to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

“You guys don’t understand,” Reynolds said, crying. “I feel like I’m being a prisoner and you guys did this to me.”

“Why?” Reynolds screamed out, looking distraught.

The girl tells her, “I was scared because I didn’t want bullets to come in the back seat.” (Photographs later showed a bullet that passed through Castile’s seat hit the back seat, barely missing the girl.)

“Please, God let him be okay,” Reynolds shouted. “Please, God.”

“His birthday is next week,” she said. “I can’t believe this.”

More from Morning Mix

Author Marlon James offers biting critique of Minnesota racism after Philando Castile case

[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/21/17 5:38am

By the time the rapper Prodigy sang what would become the most famous lyric of his decades-long musical career — “I’m only 19, but my mind is old” — he had already suffered through greater physical pain than most people will experience in a lifetime.

Prodigy, one half of the groundbreaking hip-hop duo Mobb Deep, was diagnosed as an infant with a severe form of sickle cell anemia, a blood disease marked by debilitating bouts of bodily pain. It didn’t stop him from revolutionizing rap music in the 1990s with the group’s bleak, foreboding vignettes of street life in New York City. But in his day-to-day life Prodigy worried often about when the next pain attack would come and how bad it would be.

On Tuesday, after being hospitalized in Las Vegas for complications from the disease, Prodigy died at the age of 42. The cause of death wasn’t clear, as The Washington Post reported. He was on tour at the time.

Born Albert Johnson, Prodigy wrote and spoke at length about how his battle with sickle cell anemia was as psychological as it was physical. Growing up, his youth was disrupted by the chronic pain and frequent hospital visits, driving him toward drugs, alcohol and street crime as a teenager and 20-something. But the anger and frustration were also part of what drove him toward hip-hop, he would later say. As he grew older, he told NPR in 2013, living with the disease made him focus on his health, which had ripple effects on the rest of his life.

“It made me a better business person, having sickle cell. And it also stopped me from destroying my body with drugs and alcohol and all that,” he said. “It’s like a domino effect. That caused me to be a better person because when you take care of your health, you start looking at life different. And you start looking at people different. And your actions and your thoughts different.”

Music group Mobb Deep, from left, Kejuan Muchita, aka Havoc, and Albert Johnson, aka Prodigy, are photographed in the Queens borough of New York in 2006. (AP/Jim Cooper)

Prodigy, who was born in 1974 and grew up in Queens, N.Y., was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia before he was a year old, he wrote in his 2011 autobiography, “My Infamous Life.”

The disease, which disproportionately affects blacks and Latinos, causes the body to produce abnormal blood cells shaped like crescents or sickles rather than discs. Sickle-shaped cells have trouble properly delivering oxygen to body tissue, which causes the extraordinarily painful attacks.

The long-term effects of sickle-cell anemia are grim. In addition to chronic pain, people with the disease can suffer a long list of problems, ranging from fatigue to ulcers to organ failure. They face increased risk of stroke, weakened immune systems, cardiovascular disorders and other devastating consequences. Life expectancy is typically between 40 and 60 years, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The disease was a daily reality for Prodigy, starting at a time before he had even formed memories. The ups and downs that came with repeated attacks and treatments affected his personality early on, he wrote.

“Extreme pain to extreme pleasure has been the story of my entire life,” he wrote. “That tremendous joy then pain then joy then pain again turned me into one moody li’l” person, he added, using an expletive not printable here.

As a boy, he learned to feel the attacks quietly coming on — in school, with friends, waiting for the bus. He described how he would walk slowly to stave off the wave of pain sweeping over his body, and wondered if the other kids thought he was disabled. He said he learned to stay calm and not worry about whether his schoolmates were gawking at him.

“A sickle-cell attack would creep up slowly in my ankles, legs, arms, back, stomach and chest. Sometimes my lips and tongue turned numb and I knew I was going into a crisis,” Prodigy wrote. “I was a very serious child who never got to enjoy life to the fullest like a normal, healthy kid.”

Four to six times a year, every year of his life, Prodigy was treated at the hospital, with some visits lasting as long as a month, he wrote. As time passed, the pain got worse.

“By the time I hit my teens, going to the ER was like going to war,” he wrote.

In his early teens, Prodigy once attempted suicide, hoping to release himself from the grip of his disease, according to his autobiography. Though he was never suicidal again, he wrote, he was self-destructive for years thereafter, first dabbling in marijuana and alcohol, then abusing painkillers, cocaine and angel dust. He also turned to robbery, drug dealing and other violent crime.

Prodigy, left, and Havoc, right, of the legendary rap duo Mobb Deep. (Jessica Lehrman)

But it was around the same time that Prodigy discovered hip-hop and met Kejuan Muchita, his partner in Mobb Deep, better known by the stage name Havoc. They recorded their first album, “Juvenile Hell,” in 1993. Two years later, they released “The Infamous,” which is widely considered one of the most important rap albums of all time, a pioneer in the hardcore genre, released at the height of East Coast and West Coast hip-hop rivalry. They would go on to release six more albums as a unit, and more as solo artists.

It was on “The Infamous” that Prodigy sang his unforgettable line. “I’m only 19, but my mind is old, and when the things get for real my warm heart turns cold,” he raps in “Shook Ones Pt. II” amid gritty depictions of violence drawn from life in what was then one of New York’s toughest housing projects, the Queensbridge Houses.

At that point in prodigy’s life, it was certainly a candid and unembellished introspection. He wrote of a “spiritual war” going on inside him as the group rose to the top of the hip-hop game. Over the following few years, cocaine and alcohol exacerbated his disease.

There was no great turnaround point, no cliched moment at which he gave up his old ways. If anything, Prodigy seems to have struggled for years to kick some of his more destructive habits.

But a three-year prison sentence he served from 2008 to 2011 for illegal possession of a firearm was a pivotal moment. During his incarceration, he wrote, he reflected on his disease and how it had affected his life.

“I used to be cold and emotionless. I believe the disease I was born with made me that way,” Prodigy said in his autobiography, which was written in prison. “I’m different now, only because I choose to be.”

When he was released, he went on to advocate for people with sickle cell anemia, offering advice on eating a proper diet. In an interview from prison in 2008, he said fans would come up to him at shows and ask him how he had so much energy on stage, how he fought through the pain, and how he had stayed alive into his 30s and 40s.

“I always tell ’em, it’s the diet and the mental attitude too,” he told DJBooth. “Every day I wake up like this might be my last day, and I’m not scared of it. I’m gonna go out there, do what I gotta do; I ain’t gonna let nothing stop me.”

More from Morning Mix

This union ironworker wants Paul Ryan’s job. He’s got a great ad but a losing record.

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[Category: Entertainment, newsletter-hero]

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[l] at 6/21/17 4:52am

A Wisconsin congressional campaign ad has politicos buzzing. It opens with footage from President Trump’s victory lap news conference in early May, when he and House Speaker Paul Ryan jubilantly celebrated the House vote to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Then it cuts to sprawling sunrise shots of open fields and grain silos in southeastern Wisconsin, finally landing in a living room where a woman who has multiple sclerosis describes the 20 drugs she must take to control her excruciating pain.

She is speaking to her son, Randy Bryce.

Bryce is a Democrat who on Sunday announced he would challenge Ryan in the 2018 midterm election. He portrays himself as the antithesis of Ryan. He is a blue collar Democrat, union leader, ironworker, Army veteran and single dad.

After listening  to his mom, Bryce makes clear how he plans to win: by selling himself as a working class hero who wants to save health care.

He’s a man’s man. He wears T-shirts and dad jeans, hard hats and welding masks. He’s nobody’s wonk. Where Bryce works, sparks fly.

“Let’s trade places,” Bryce says at the end of the ad, addressing Ryan. “You can come work the iron, and I’ll go to D.C.”

Just 48 hours after its release, Bryce’s two minute and thirty second spot is being hailed for its evocative messaging — and being cast as exactly what Democrats need to win over Trump country in 2018.

if democrats have any brains at all this will be every 2018 ad https://t.co/czZ5bBJq1q

— Bob Jovi (@pblest) June 20, 2017

I used to make political web ads. This is one of, if not the, best one I have seen. #RandyforWI #PaulRyanNeeds2Go https://t.co/f9CqYrdJEr

— Connor Shaw (@ConnorTShaw) June 19, 2017

Wow—This ad by union ironworker Randy Bryce, who is challenging Paul Ryan is seriously powerful & moving @IronStache https://t.co/Yso8SxIvm6

— Steven Greenhouse (@greenhousenyt) June 21, 2017

Some sharing his ad online have compared him to the fictional mustache-wearing Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson. Someone wrote that Bryce is “genetically engineered from Bruce Springsteen songs.

Bryce’s Twitter handle — @IronStache — shows his social media swag.

“I don’t just want @IronStache to be my Congressman,” one man tweeted. “I want him to be my father.”

Even Bryce professed to be surprised by the attention the ad is getting.

Knew launch would be good but this has been amazing
America – I didn't think it was possible to love you more

But I do

Let's do this. #4US

— Randy Bryce (@IronStache) June 20, 2017

But it’ll take more than a great ad and working class cred to elect Bryce.

The district covers southeastern Wisconsin from the city of Janesville in the west to Racine and Kenosha to the east on Lake Michigan, south of Milwaukee. It’s Republican. It hasn’t elected a Democrat since 1993. And Ryan has won it with ease since he was first elected nearly 20 years ago.

It went for Trump by 11 percentage points last fall. Ryan won by 35 points.

On top of that, Bryce’s three prior attempts at winning elected office have failed.

He lost a Democratic primary for state assembly in 2012. Two years later, in 2014, Bryce was defeated in the general election for state senate. And in 2013 he lost a 10-way primary for Racine County Board of Education, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“The voters of Wisconsin have already rejected Randy Bryce multiple times,” Republican Party spokesman Alec Zimmerman told the AP. “Instead of fighting for hard-working Wisconsin families, Randy Bryce will say and do anything to get to Washington and defend his liberal special interest friends.”

But Bryce is counting his previous defeats as formative, valuable experiences. He told the Journal Sentinel that he plans to raise $2 million. The newspaper reported that Bill Hyers, campaign manager for New York Democratic politicians Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Mayor Bill de Blasio, is guiding Bryce’s campaign.

The Wall Street Journal’s Reid Epstein reported on Twitter that Bryce’s campaign confirmed raising more than $100,000 within the ad’s first 24 hours.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Bryce told the Journal Sentinel. “The people of Wisconsin know who I am. I have community roots.”

His life story is one with deep blue collar ties, the kind of narrative that used to entice Midwesterners to the Democratic Party but in 2016 had them flocking to Trump’s pledge to “Make America Great Again.”

The ironworker and union activist is a lifelong resident of southeastern Wisconsin. His mother worked in a doctor’s office and his sister is a public school teacher. Bryce’s father, who lives in an assisted living facility, was a police officer, according to a campaign news release. His brother followed that same path into law enforcement.

Bryce, an Army veteran, took some college classes but never graduated, reported the Daily Cardinal. He survived testicular cancer in his twenties, the campaign said, and had a “miracle child” in his 40s. Bryce is divorced, according to his Facebook page, but his young son Ben makes an appearance in the viral campaign ad.

“I work everyday so that me and my son have insurance,” Bryce says in the spot, a tool belt slung over his  shoulder. “I’ve been an iron worker for 20 years. I work hard and I earn every penny that I make. And I know everybody that I work with is the same way.”

He represented the union Ironworkers Local 8 for nine years as a volunteer political coordinator, reported the Journal Sentinel. Bryce is president of the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce board of directors, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin Veterans Caucus and until recently served on the Milwaukee Area Labor Council board of directors.

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[Category: National, Politics, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/21/17 4:35am

British actor Daniel Day-Lewis holds his Oscar for Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for ‘Lincoln’ at the 85th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Feb. 24, 2013. (EPA/Paul Buck).

Daniel Day-Lewis has a tendency to disappear.

For the select few films he starred in, the British actor would shed his own persona — or as he once said, “drain” himself — to become his character. And over the course of his career, for months or even years at a time, he would retreat into a reclusive lifestyle, escaping the public eye and Hollywood altogether.

Now, Day-Lewis, 60, lauded by many as one of the best actors of his time, is leaving the film industry for good. Without providing any reasoning, Day-Lewis’ spokeswoman confirmed in a statement to reporters Tuesday the actor is retiring.

“Daniel Day-Lewis will no longer be working as an actor,” his spokeswoman, Leslee Dart. “He is immensely grateful to all of his collaborators and audiences over the many years. This is a private decision and neither he nor his representatives will make any further comment on this subject. ” Variety reported the news Tuesday afternoon.

His final film will be Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread,” which has already been filmed and will release in December, according to the Associated Press.

His departure marks the end of a career that made Hollywood history and spurred as much intrigue as it did praise. He was nominated for an Academy Award five times, and is the only person to have ever won the award for best actor three times — for the films “My Left Foot,” “There Will Be Blood,” and “Lincoln.”

But Day-Lewis is perhaps most known for being one of his generation’s most skilled “method actors,” adopting a immersive style of acting for which the late film star Marlon Brando was so revered, a raw style of acting that was “brash, bold and brimming with machismo,” as Angelica Jade Bastién wrote in the Atlantic.

Indeed, many have compared Day-Lewis to Brando, particularly in the wake of the news of his retirement. “Daniel Day-Lewis was our era’s Marlon Brando,” one fan wrote on Twitter.

But even the term “method acting” fails to capture the extent to which Day-Lewis has become his characters — physical and emotional extremes that few others have matched.

While playing a writer with cerebral palsy in “My Left Foot,” he never left his wheelchair and was spoon-fed by the film crew. While preparing for “The Last of the Mohicans,” he lived off the land for weeks, hunting and skinning animals and even sleeping with his rifle, as the Guardian noted in a 2002 profile.

For “In the Name of The Father,” he spent nights sleeping in a jail cell. Before filming “The Crucible,” he built the home in which his character would live using 17th-century tools. Leading up to the 1997 film “The Boxer,” he trained as a fighter twice a day for almost three years. His trainer even said that he could have gone professional, the Independent wrote in an extensive profile and interview.

While filming the 2002 Martin Scosese film “Gangs of New York,” he caught pneumonia and insisted on only wearing a “threadbare” coat that would have existed in the 19th century, according to the Independent.

He would occasionally walk around Rome, where the movie was filmed, and pick fights with strangers. “I had to do my preparation,” he told the Independent. “And I will admit that I went mad, totally mad.”

And he refused to break character throughout the filming of Abraham Lincoln, even signing off text messages with co-star Sally Field as “Abe.”

Speaking to the BBC in 2013, Day-Lewis described the meticulous process he undertook to create the voice of Abraham Lincoln, which involved intensely researching the accents in various counties where Lincoln grew up across Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

“I begin to hear a voice, which I don’t try to reproduce. It’s the voice of the inner ear,” he said. Then, he said, “I set about the task of trying to get it outside of me.”

In many of his rare interviews, Day-Lewis seems to dread broaching the subject of his “method acting,” which he asserts is not a scientific or isolationist exercise. Immersing himself in the experience of the role he plays, and staying in character throughout the entire filming of a movie is simply how Day-Lewis attempts to “allow the imagination to free itself,” he told the BBC.

“Your job is to more or less drain yourself,” Day-Lewis said. “What would drain me much more in my case is jumping in and out of that world that we’ve gone to such inordinate lengths to create for ourselves.”

Day-Lewis is also notoriously selective in the films he chooses to participate in — he told the BBC he only accepts roles he feels he can truly service, intriguing characters with lives “the feel very far removed from my own.”

“The mystery of that life is the thing that draws me towards it,” he said.

But he is also an “acting enigma,” as the Guardian wrote, and is known for stepping away from the film industry for lengthy periods of time. In the late 1990s, he reportedly apprenticed as a shoemaker in Florence.

Day-Lewis grew up in Greenwich in southeast London, holds both British and Irish passports, and has long had a home in Wicklow, Ireland. (He was knighted by the Duke of Cambridge in 2014.) He is married to writer-director Rebecca Miller, daughter of American playwright Arthur Miller, and has three children.

His stage career ended decades ago “when during his performance of Hamlet he walked off the stage claiming to have seen an apparition of his father, the late poet laureate Cecil Day Lewis,” Burhan Wazir wrote in the Guardian.

His film releasing in December will be his first movie appearance in five years.

“I have a slow rhythm,” he told the BBC, acknowledging that he does seem to “disappear” from time to time.

But, he contends that these breaks, these escapes from the public eye, are what allow him to dive in so deeply to his work.

“What I’m doing is re-engaging with life,” he said.

In his acceptance speech for his 2013 Academy Award win, Day-Lewis thanked his wife for having lived with “some very strange men” he had personified over the years.

“They were strange as individuals and probably even stranger if taken as a group,” said the actor who, despite always playing serious roles, exudes an upbeat, down-to-earth temperament in interviews — as long as he is not in character.

Speaking to reporters after his win, Day-Lewis joked that he was “definitely out of character at this moment,” the Telegraph reported.

“If I slip back into it by mistake, you can do an intervention of some kind, the Heimlich maneuver or whatever it is you do for actors stuck in character.”

So perhaps that is what’s in store for Day-Lewis, a seemingly permanent escape from a limelight he never truly felt comfortable in. Some of his fans joked there might be other motives involved.

“What if Daniel Day-Lewis announced that he is retiring from acting as research for a role where he plays an actor who retires from acting,” one person wrote.

“Nobody is happier about Daniel Day Lewis’s retirement than his wife. You try living with a guy who’s pretending to be Romanian for 8 months,” said another.

only daniel day-lewis could master a job, be famous for rarely doing it, and retire. like imagine if santa said "i'm out the christmas game"

— demi adejuyigbe (@electrolemon) June 21, 2017

His hiatus is not entirely surprising. When it came to public appearances there was an innate comfort for Day-Lewis to express himself through a character, through “these other vessels in a way that we can’t in ourselves,” he told the BBC.

And although he found great joy in his work, Day-Lewis never quite enjoyed the film industry anyway.

‘I know this is part of what we have to do. But I really have to be forced,” he told the Guardian in 2002.

And when the movie is over, he said “I have done my part.”

“And once I’m finished, I always feel a little empty inside. ”

And this week, for his fans, that same feeling — of emptiness, of loss — rang true.

[Category: Entertainment, Europe, International, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/21/17 3:07am

Karen Handel, Republican winner in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, gives her acceptance speech in Atlanta. (Reuters)

The special congressional election in Georgia on Tuesday that was supposed to be tight wasn’t.

And as the results rolled in, Team Trump seized the moment to celebrate the victory, poke Democrats and throw a little snark at the news media as Republican Karen Handel soundly defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff to fill the seat Tom Price vacated to become Trump’s secretary of health and human services.

“Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and 0! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0,” the president tweeted just before midnight.

Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and O! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2017

It was one of five tweets he posted as election results came in from both Georgia and South Carolina, where a Republican also won, though in a race that was much closer than expected. Ralph Norman snagged a victory over Democrat Archie Parnell in the state’s 5th District with approximately 51 percent of the vote. The seat was vacated by Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

But it was the Georgia victory which drew the biggest digs from the Trump family and the president’s associates. Although Price had won the district by 20 percentage points in November, Trump won by only four percentage points. So when Price vacated the seat, Democrats saw an opportunity and spent millions to back Ossoff in what was said to be the most expensive House race in history, with an estimated $50 million spent by both parties.

[Republican Karen Handel defeats Democart Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District]

“The democrats could not have put more into this race. They spent the most $ EVER and LOST,” Donald Trump Jr. said in one of many tweets throughout the night.

The democrats could not have put more into this race. They spent the most $ EVER and LOST. Maybe they will start working with POTUS?

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 21, 2017

Media headlines this week should be: Democrats go 0-4 in special elections… voters reject socialism.

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 21, 2017

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, tweeted with a touch of snark.

“Laughing my #Ossoff,” she wrote.

Laughing my #Ossoff

— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) June 21, 2017

And many on Team Trump tweeted or retweeted barbs at the news media, such as this jab at CNN:

Hey @CNN its like your constant conspiracy theories and hatred towards the President actually doesn't make a difference

Enjoy the night! pic.twitter.com/R0E0GiuWGS

— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) June 21, 2017

“For every reporter who covered this race as a referendum against President Trump and his agenda, it’s time to refocus your stories,” said a statement from Michael Ahrens, the Republican National Committee’s rapid response director, posted to Twitter by New York Times reporter Eric Lipton.

Meanwhile, the president’s preferred news outlet received nothing but praise.

Thank you @FoxNews "Huge win for President Trump and GOP in Georgia Congressional Special Election."

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2017

[Category: Uncategorized, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/21/17 2:58am

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ivanka Trump on June 20, 2017. (Erica Werner/AP)

As Ivanka Trump arrived on Capitol Hill ready to discuss parental leave with lawmakers on Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) decided to greet the first daughter and adviser to the president with a hug.

Based on a photograph that circulated in Twitter, Trump was, well, not into it. She looked stiff as a board in the photo taken by an Associated Press reporter — arms at her side, looking past Rubio through her oversized sunglasses.

Throughout the day, Twitter had a field day with the cringe-worthy photo.

One person captioned the photo with alternative lyrics from the TLC song “No Scrubs.”

No, I don't want no Marco Rubio hug,
A Marco Rubio hug is a hug that can't get no love from me pic.twitter.com/DfNMOFd54h

— Faisal Halabi (@faisalhalabi) June 21, 2017

Some called Rubio thirsty.

The Thirstiest Senator™ pic.twitter.com/jR48pFgKv2

— eve peyser (@evepeyser) June 20, 2017

*Rubio after waiting for two hours behind the pillar
"Wow, Ivanka, what a surprise. It's so good to see you again." pic.twitter.com/qsxBXwpstp

— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) June 20, 2017

Others suggested Trump had no idea who was trying to hug her.

Ivanka: Who are you again? Rubio: I'm Marco. Ivanka: Pollo? pic.twitter.com/my9g2EpCwe

— Kermanetherunner (@KermaneB) June 20, 2017

But instead of being the butt of yet another joke, Rubio joined in on the fun, opening “an investigation” to learn the truth about the “failed hug.”

Just left Intel comm & informed meeting 2day with @IvankaTrump blowing up twitter over alleged failed hug! Investigating. Will respond soon

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 20, 2017

He then tweeted that additional photographic evidence would shed light on the ordeal.

We believe we have our own unclassified photographic evidence that will shed greater details on this incident.

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 20, 2017

Somehow the senator acquired a different angle of the photo, though just what it proved remained unclear.

New photo emerges providing more insight into alleged failed hug. (Faces blurred for security purposes) pic.twitter.com/GzSLe3JD3I

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 20, 2017

He concluded that the “press covfefe of the alleged failed hug” was false — “covfefe” being a reference to a mysterious and still unexplained tweet on May 31 by President Trump.

Based on review of evidence & my own recollection, have concluded no hug was even attempted & press covfefe of alleged failed hug is false

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 20, 2017

Ivanka Trump herself joined in on the Twitter action and wrote, “Anonymous sources say @marcorubio planned the alleged failed hug. I have no comment (but I would have hugged him anyway!)”

Anonymous sources say @marcorubio planned the alleged failed hug. I have no comment (but I would have hugged him anyway! ) https://t.co/TChrqWsL4D

— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) June 20, 2017

Fake news! Marco is an excellent hugger… https://t.co/Dk7XXRQlX8

— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) June 20, 2017

More from Morning Mix

Laura Ingraham as the new Sean Spicer? Why many find that hard to imagine.

 

[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/21/17 1:06am

The parents of Michael Brown, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown, Sr., appear at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington Sept. 25, 2014. (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

The parents of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen fatally shot by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer, settled a wrongful-death lawsuit with the city Tuesday, closing the civil case over a killing that stoked nationwide debate about African American deaths at the hands of law enforcement.

The settlement amount was not disclosed, but U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber of the Eastern District of Missouri said he was satisfied that the agreement was fair to the parties and complied with the law.

“The gross settlement amount is fair and reasonable compensation for this wrongful death claim and is in the best interest of each Plaintiff,” Webber wrote. He added that it provided a reasonable amount for attorney fees and expenses, and said the split between Brown’s parents was proper.

The judge ordered the agreement sealed under Missouri’s Sunshine Law, saying Brown’s parents could be harmed if it were revealed to the public.

“Disclosure of the terms of the settlement agreement could jeopardize the safety of individuals involved in this matter, whether as witnesses, parties, or investigators,” he wrote.

An attorney for the parents declined to discuss the agreement Tuesday. Attorneys for the defendants did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Brown, 18, was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, during a physical altercation on a residential street in August 2014. His death set off a wave of outrage over the way black people are treated by U.S. law enforcement, sparking unrest in the city and nationwide protests that continued for months. A grand jury declined to indict Wilson in connection with Brown’s death and the Department of Justice cleared him of civil rights violations.

Brown’s parents, Michael Brown Sr., and Lesley McSpadden, sued the City of Ferguson along with Wilson and the former Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson in May 2015. Their lawsuit alleged Wilson was unreasonably aggressive when he stopped Brown and used excessive force when he fired on him, all in violation of his civil rights.

It also claimed the city’s law enforcement practices “contributed to police officers’ devaluation of African American life in the city of Ferguson,” and said the police department had a “historical racial bias and hostility” to black citizens. Police in Ferguson routinely stopped or detained African Americans for no good reason, spoke to them in disparaging language and used excessive force in their encounters, in a pattern of misconduct that led to Brown’s death, the parents alleged.

The lawsuit extensively cited a scathing Department of Justice report from 2015 that found pervasive racial bias in Ferguson’s 72-member police department and detailed what then-attorney general Eric Holder called “routine” constitutional violations by law enforcement.

The defendants denied the allegations and sought to have the case dismissed.

Until recently, the case appeared headed to trial. The parties disclosed their expert witnesses to the court last month and were scheduled to turn over their depositions and other evidence this summer. A jury trial was set for February 2018.

But the judge referred the parties to alternative dispute resolution in April, according to court records. Two sealed documents were filed with the court this month, and attorneys for the family and the city held a 14-minute confidential telephone conference with the judge on Monday, the records show.

Police officers are rarely prosecuted in fatal shootings, but wrongful death and civil rights lawsuits by family members are common. In those cases, the amount in damages that plaintiffs can recover is often limited by local governments’ liability caps — typically several hundred thousand dollars — and usually hinges on whether plaintiffs can prove civil rights violations.

[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/20/17 5:33am

A photo provided by Forrest Fenn shows an estimated $2 million of gold, jewelry and other artifacts that Fenn says he has hidden in the Rocky Mountains for treasures hunters to find. (Forrest Fenn via AP)

Forrest Fenn’s promised secret bronze treasure chest — filled with $2 million in gold and jewels — has been luring wide-eyed adventure seekers to the Rocky Mountains since 2010, when the millionaire antiquities dealer penned a mysterious, clue-filled poem he claimed would lead its witty decoder to the elusive riches.

The goal, Fenn has said, was to get people off the couch and into the wilderness, and tens of thousands have followed suit, writing the man with tales of their harrowing attempts and regretful failures.

Then last summer, the challenge Fenn hoped would grant him immortality claimed the life of one of his most enthusiastic followers, a 54-year-old grandfather who ventured into the New Mexican terrain and was found dead six months later in the Rio Grande.

[Man perishes in wilderness looking for treasure hidden by New Mexico millionaire Forrest Fenn]

Now, authorities say, Fenn’s treasure hunt seems to have turned deadly again.

On Sunday, officials recovered the body of a man believed to be Paris Wallace, a pastor who went missing last week after his family said he had come to a rugged, mountainous area of New Mexico searching for Fenn’s bronze chest, reported the Daily Sentinel.

New Mexico State Police Lt. Elizabeth Armijo told the newspaper that authorities found the body seven miles downstream from the area where Wallace was believed to have been before he disappeared. His backpack was nearby.

“We are still awaiting positive identification on the identity,” Armijo told the Daily Sentinel in an email. “However, we believe, and all evidence thus far indicates, the deceased is Paris Wallace.”

Wallace, the lead pastor at Connection Church in Grand Junction, Colo., was last heard from a week ago, reported the Daily Sentinel. His wife reported him missing after he missed a meeting last Wednesday, and his belongings were later found at a hotel in Espanola, N.M.

Using GPS technology through his cellphone, authorities located the Chevrolet Tahoe Wallace was driving near a bridge that crosses the Rio Grande about 50 miles north of Santa Fe, reported the Daily Sentinel.

Inside the vehicle, Armijo said that officials found a receipt from a local store for rope and other equipment. Near the Rio Pueblo de Taos — a tributary of the Rio Grande — search and rescuers discovered a rock on the riverbank with a rope lashed around it, reported the Daily Sentinel. The rope led across the water.

“Please continue to pray for the Wallace family and praise and thank our Lord for the blessings He provided us through our time with Paris,” said a message posted to the church’s Facebook page.

News of the second death in a year tied to Fenn’s famed treasure hunt reignited old calls for the aging eccentric to shut the search down.

“My heart and my prayers go out to his family and his church,” Fenn said in a statement to CBS This Morning on Sunday. “It is such a tragedy.”

Forrest Fenn sits in his home in Santa Fe, N.M., in 2013. (AP/Jeri Clausing)

In a post on mysteriouswritings.com last week, Fenn warned apprehensive hunters of the dangers.

“Please don’t ever overextend yourself,” Fenn wrote. “I was 80 or about when I hid the treasure and it was not a difficult task. I will soon be 87 and I could go back and get it if I were so inclined, I think.”

[Treasure hunter vanishes while searching for $2 million gold stash in N.M. wilderness]

It has been nearly a year since the body of Randy Bilyeu, the 54-year-old grandfather, was finally recovered from the Rio Grande. Bilyeu, also from Colorado, had traveled to New Mexico with his dog, Leo, a raft, a wet suit, a GPS and maps of the area, as The Washington Post reported.

Bilyeu’s ex-wife filed a missing person’s report in mid-January 2016, about 10 days after he set off on his adventure. The next day, the man’s raft and his dog, which was alive, were found. Search crews, including fellow treasure hunters and Fenn, looked for Bilyeu for weeks.

His body wasn’t recovered until the following July.

At the time, the man’s ex-wife, Linda Bilyeu, had harsh words for Fenn.

“There’s no treasure — it’s not real. He lost his life for a hoax,” she told the Albuquerque Journal last summer. “We’re disappointed that he lost his life because of a treasure hunt.”

News of another death sparked another wave of criticism from Bilyeu.

“Another family is left to grieve and carry on without their loved ones,” Bilyeu told the Associated Press in an email. “Only one man has the power to stop the madness. Yet, he continues to pretend he’s doing a good deed by getting people off the couch and into nature.”

The 24-line poem that has inspired treasure hunters for seven years now was published in Fenn’s memoir, “The Thrill of the Chase.” He often offers adventurers additional clues in his writings.

This is the full poem:

As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know,
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.

So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

More from Morning Mix

Teen runner lost after Alaska race found dead with huge black bear looming over him

Author Marlon James offers biting critique of Minnesota racism after Philando Castile case

A Trump PAC fakes appeal from Obama to lure blacks to vote Republican in crucial Ga. race

[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/20/17 5:09am

Imagine the job description for President Trump’s White House Press Secretary: Defend the president’s utterances at all costs, no matter how ridiculous or counterfactual; admit in the alternative that you don’t have the slightest idea what he’s thinking; get yelled at by the president when you stumble; be prepared to hide in the bushes and get mocked every week on Saturday Night Live.

Does this sound like conservative talk-radio host Laura Ingraham? While Ingraham can be as brutal and snarky as anyone on the right or left and as a trained lawyer and polemicist can hold her own in the daily joust with reporters, she’s been an independent operator accustomed to running her own show in her own way. That might not be a good fit for what we have come to expect in this particular job.

After a gradual retreat from the public eye, press secretary Sean Spicer is stepping away from the podium and moving into a more behind-the-scenes communications role, The Washington Post and other news organizations reported. And as the White House seeks a replacement press secretary, the question is not only who else could do the job, but who would be willing to take it.

Several possible candidates are being considered, The Post reported, including Geoff Morrell, former Pentagon press secretary, and Scott Reed, the senior political strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

But for many, the potential candidate who drew the most attention was Ingraham — a Fox News contributor and ardent Trump supporter — to whom White House officials reached out in recent weeks about the position. The AP reported, however, that Ingraham is not likely to take the job if offered.

That wouldn’t be surprising. Many observers can’t imagine anyone, but particularly someone like Ingraham, being willing to put up with the job. And this speaks volumes about the extent to which a highly visible position once considered a steppingstone to fame and perhaps fortune has evolved into everyone’s favorite punching bag.

Her wariness about working for the Trump administration, if true, puts her in good company. The Post’s Lisa Rein and Abby Phillip reported this week that many Republicans are turning down job offers in part because Trump’s “volatile temperament makes them nervous. They are asking headhunters if their reputations could suffer permanent damage,” they reported.

Yes, Ingraham, 54, has shown loyalty to Trump throughout his campaign and election, batting for him at the Republican National Convention and across her various media appearances. But she has also been unafraid to call him out and to speak frankly about his faults.

She would have to leave a highly lucrative job as an independent talking head in exchange for a job as Trump’s mouthpiece. And for many, that seems highly unlikely. In fact, the Associated Press reported Ingraham is not expected to take the job, and The Post reported earlier this month that Ingraham told officials she is more comfortable remaining outside the White House as a vocal Trump supporter across her various platforms.

While she can be a nasty slasher in the Trump tradition (she was called a “nativist hatemonger” in the Daily Kos), she is not about to be manipulated. Yet some of her conservative followers on social media are holding out hope that Ingraham might take her rapier rhetorical skills to the press room.

Conservative political commentator Laura Ingraham speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 20, 2016.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Many supporters point to her resume: Ingraham, a former Ronald Reagan speechwriter and law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is described on her radio show’s website as “the most-listened-to-woman in America on political talk radio.” She is editor in chief and co-founder of the conservative website LifeZette.com, and has written several books.

Ingraham’s aggressive style is marked by “rapid-fire pacing” and fluid, often funny banter, wrote Rory O’Connor in his book “Shock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio.”

“Ingraham argues politics the way lawyers argue cases, as if there can be no possible interpretation other than her own,” O’Connor wrote. “She is a class-A schmoozer who understands and exploits her verbal gifts to the fullest.”

Some on social media also wondered if the press secretary job would offer a high enough salary to attract Ingraham — who reportedly makes millions in income entirely on the basis of her reputation, which might be threatened in a Trump White House.

“You need to be able to lie with a straight face and not care about your reputation,” one person wrote on Twitter.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow, a vocal liberal critic of Trump, is no fan of Ingraham’s, he said on CNN Monday. He does not think Ingraham is much of an “honorable person,” he said.

But, “even if its Laura Ingraham,” Blow said, “Anybody stepping into this role has to already assume that you’re taking on the baggage of not being an honorable person because you have to go out and defend someone who’s lying,” he said.

But Ingraham has previously appeared willing to at least contemplate the idea, calling it a “privilege to even be considered.”

“I have known Donald Trump for a long time, and we have been friends for a long time, and I am looking forward to that conversation,” she said on “Fox & Friends” in December. “If your country calls you, if God opens that door, you have to seriously consider it. If I can really help, it is hard to say no to that. If I think I can help, which I think I could.”

Politico reported shortly after the election that Ingraham — then one of the potential contenders for Spicer’s job — was willing to accept the position but would request a bigger role in policy building and higher-level decision-making.

[Sean Spicer didn’t get to meet the pope. Even reporters feel sorry for him.]

As press secretary, Ingraham would most likely share at least one trait with Spicer: disdain for mainstream media outlets.

In an interview with Politico, Ingraham commended “new media” outlets for dispersing theories about Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s private server.

“None of these things and others would have come to light without the New Media,” Ingraham said. “ABC, NBC, The Washington Post are worse than irrelevant. We now must make fun of them.”

During an impassioned speech at last summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ingraham pointed to the media box, saying “to all my friends up there in the press, you all know why in your heart Donald Trump won the Republican nomination. You know it.”

“You know why he won it?” she said. “Because he dared to call out the phonies, the frauds and the corruption that has gone unexposed and uncovered for too long.”

“Do your job,” Ingraham continued with a chuckle. “Doing your job is a novel concept.” Trump later tweeted at Ingraham in appreciation.

But Ingraham has on numerous occasions also criticized Trump’s actions. In March, when the president attacked the Republican Freedom Caucus in the House because it wouldn’t support the Republican health care bill, Ingraham said on Fox News it’s “really really unhelpful to Donald Trump’s ultimate agenda to slam the very people who are going to be propping up” his policy goals.

“I don’t know where he thinks he’s gonna get his friends on those issues, unless he completely flips to become more of a Democrat,” she said.

Attacking the Freedom Caucus won't win @POTUS any plaudits from Dems; could alienate those R's who stood by him when so many others ran.

— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) March 30, 2017

She has also addressed Trump’s communication strategies, providing a window into which changes she might make if she were a member of the White House team.

On Fox News earlier this month she called out Trump’s use of social media, saying his tweets about the ongoing Russia investigation will not help him.

“I think that if I were giving people advice in the White House, I’d say you’re not going to win the investigation regarding James B. Comey in the press,” she said.

In May, she tweeted that fewer and shorter briefings, more message discipline and sharper “strategic planning of new initiatives” would all “help keep the focus on economy.” That same month she said Trump’s desire to cut back on press briefings was “part of this cat-mouse game.”

“Again, if you’ve known him for as long as we have, you’re used to this,” Ingraham said. “This is what he does with people. It’s a bit of a challenge.”

 

 

 

[Category: Media, Politics, Uncategorized, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/20/17 3:55am

The ominous text message came in to Brad Precosky’s phone just before 3 p.m. on Sunday.

“Eyes on bear. Guarding body. Coordinates were correct,” it read. “Need a weapon.”

Precosky, the organizer of a popular race in a park near Anchorage, had spent more than two hours with a search party scouring the densely wooded terrain for Patrick Cooper, a 16-year-old runner who had strayed from the trail and was feared to be in grave danger, as the Alaska Dispatch News reported.

It’s not clear how Cooper ventured off the course, which takes runners up a steep mountain in Chugach State Park. But sometime after he disappeared, he made a panicked phone call to his brother, according to the Associated Press.

A bear was chasing him, he said.

Using a phone tracking app, the search party pinpointed Cooper’s location about a mile from the trailhead, the Dispatch News reported. When they got to the right spot, he lay motionless, a 250-pound black bear standing over him.

Authorities arrived shortly after and fired a single shot at the animal. It appeared only to wound the bear, which ran off and has not been seen since, according to the Dispatch News.

Cooper was pronounced dead on the scene Sunday afternoon, local media reported, and his body was airlifted out of the park. He was identified by police on Sunday evening.

Park rangers spent the day Monday scanning the area for the bear and were expected to continue their search on Tuesday.

The mauling of Cooper rattled the tightknit Anchorage community, which has not seen a deadly bear attack in more than two decades. The last fatal mauling happened in 1995, when two local runners were killed by a brown bear guarding a moose carcass.

The bear that killed Cooper was most likely displaying rare predatory behavior, not defending itself, Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh told the Associated Press.

“It’s very unusual,” Marsh said. “It’s sort of like someone being struck by lightning.”

Though it ended in tragedy, Sunday started out on a positive note. Hundreds of runners and spectators from the area had gathered at the Bird Ridge trail for the race, which has been held annually for 29 years.

It’s a challenging competition. Adult competitors run 3 miles and 3,400 vertical feet up the rocky mountainside. Juniors under 17 years old run 1.5 miles and 1,500 vertical feet before reaching the finish line, then head back down at their leisure. The race was profiled in 2011 by Runner’s World, which said it was part of “a series of hard-core mountain races” where runners encounter “gruelingly steep trails, bad weather and bears.”

The starting gun for the juniors race sounded at 10:11 a.m. sharp, according to the Dispatch News. Cooper hit the turnaround point for his age group about 40 minutes later, with eight other juniors trailing him. A trail “sweeper” was reportedly following the last runner in the group.

At some point during his descent back down the mountain, Cooper veered off the trail. He would have quickly found himself surrounded by thick woods, brush and jagged terrain, so it’s easy to imagine how he might have lost his way.

Around 12:30 p.m., he made the frantic call to his brother, who was also participating in the race, according to the Associated Press.

File photo of an Alaskan Black Bear. (AP)

The brother immediately alerted Precosky, the race organizer, who told the Dispatch News the brother was “very shaken” when he relayed the message. Cooper’s mother also heard the distressing news. They rounded up people to start searching for Cooper.

Earlier in the day, runners had reported seeing bears near the trail, according to KTUU. Bear sightings are common in that part of Alaska, and runners know to be wary, Precosky said.

“I’ve been running in the mountains for 30 years,” he told KTUU. “People come down off the trail and say they’ve run into a bear. Sometimes that means nothing; other times, it’s really serious. Like this.”

John Weddleton, an Anchorage Assembly member who was watching the race, set out into the woods with the search party, which included local authorities.

“I ran up to cheer, came down, and thought, I might as well go back up,” he told KTUU. “All I knew was there was a boy missing, and missing in bear country.”

Weddleton broke from the main group and was trudging through the heavy brush when he heard a rustling sound he thought might be the teen.

As he moved closer, a black bear burst out of the thicket.

Weddleton shouted at the others to stay back.

“I’m backing up yelling, ‘Whoa, bear! Whoa, bear!’ with my bear spray pointed at him,” he told KTVA. “That’s not a place you want to be.”

The animal charged within about 10 feet of Weddleton, then stopped and locked eyes with him.

At first, he said, he didn’t notice Cooper’s body lying on the ground nearby.

“And then I saw him,” Weddleton told KTUU. “No motion. He looked awful.”

Weddleton said he called 911 and waited on a ledge a safe distance from the animal until authorities arrived. Afterward, he went to a nearby parking lot, where he met Cooper’s mother.

“I said, ‘I’m not going to cry until I see his mom.’ And that’s what I did,” he told KTVA in a recorded interview, his voice quavering. “We shared some tears.”

Precosky was alerted to the scene by the text from a member of the search party, according to the Dispatch News.

“We got word that it didn’t look good when we got eyes on the bear,” he told KTUU.

“I think everyone is just terribly sickened by the whole episode,” he said. “Mountain runners are never safer than when they are in a race. How often do you have 300 people around you, making noise?”

Park rangers arrived and saw Cooper “pinned” by the bear, Matt Wedeking, operations manager for Alaska State Parks, told the Associated Press. The blast from their shotgun struck the bear in the face, scaring it away from the body but not killing it.

Authorities said the terrain where they found the body was so rugged that they were only able to send a team of six people to retrieve him. Tracking down the bear is now a top priority, they said.

“This young man didn’t do anything wrong,” Tom Crockett, a Chugach State Park ranger, told the Dispatch News. “He was just in the wrong place. You can’t predict which bear is going to be predatory.”

[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/20/17 3:30am

Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff and Republican candidate Karen Handel. (EPA)

In the eighth chapter of his memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” former president Barack Obama describes a barbershop haircut he got in Chicago in the 1980s, just days after he moved to the city for his new job as a community organizer.

Obama’s barber, named Smitty, speaks in the passage of the racial and political tension in Chicago before the city elected Harold Washington as its first black mayor in 1983, and the neglect African Americans felt from the Democratic Party at the time.

In the paperback version of the book, Obama directly quotes Smitty’s words. In the audio version, Obama reads them aloud.

Now, a pro-Trump super PAC is using that passage from the first black president’s book to lure black voters away from Democrats with a misleading attack ad targeting Georgia’s 6th Congressional District’s special election.

Don't sell out for a #ChristmasTurkey. The time for change is NOW! #GaPol #GA06 pic.twitter.com/DrKiwbUUVQ

— Great Alliance (@TrumpAlliance) June 13, 2017

Great America Alliance, which brands itself as the “largest and most effective pro-Trump Super PAC,” is among the many outside political groups pouring money into Tuesday’s election, the most expensive congressional race in U.S. history as The Post’s Robert Costa reported and one that could have far-reaching consequences for Republicans nationwide.

Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel are in a dead heat for the seat, traditionally a stronghold for conservatives, which was vacated by Tom Price when Trump appointed him Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Ossoff has been highly critical of Trump. Handel, whom the president endorsed on Twitter Monday, has not. The results could serve as a road map for how republican members of Congress should navigate their relationship with Trump during their own reelection campaigns.

Karen Handel's opponent in #GA06 can't even vote in the district he wants to represent….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 19, 2017

The district in the Northern suburbs of Atlanta has been in Republican hands since 1979. The population is about 13 percent African American, but a “turnout gap” among black voters in 2016 and in the first round of the special election has Democrats worried, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which is one of the reasons civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) has campaigned there for Ossoff.

Great America Alliance’s radio ad targets black voters by taking Smitty’s words and Obama’s voice out of context.

The radio ad opens with a monologue from conservative political activist Autry Pruitt, a black man and Trump surrogate who often argues that Democrats have taken black voters for granted.

“Hi, my name is Autry Pruitt, a fellow black American working hard every day, just like you,” Pruitt says. “It may seem out of season, but all of a sudden, Democratic politicians have started coming around again. We normally only see them every other November, swarming around and making promises to get our vote. But nothing ever changes for us, does it? Here’s what President Barack Obama had to say about it.”

Then Obama begins speaking, but the ad provides no context for his words.

“A plantation. Black people in the worst jobs. The worst housing. Police brutality rampant,” Obama says. “But when the so-called black committeemen came around election time, we’d all line up and vote the straight Democratic ticket. Sell our souls for a Christmas turkey.”

Then Pruitt tells listeners not to “sell out for another Christmas turkey.”

A video version of the ad turns the phrase into a hashtag. “Take Obama’s Advice,” it says. “Don’t sell out for a #ChristmasTurkey.”

But in the greater context of the memoir’s eighth chapter, it’s clear the words don’t belong to Obama — and from Smitty they take on a different meaning.

Here is the full scene in “Dreams From My Father”:

“Had to be here before Harold to understand what he means to this city,” Smitty said. “Before Harold, seemed like we’d always be second-class citizens.”

“Plantation politics,” the man with the newspaper said.

“That’s just what it was, too,” Smitty said. “A plantation. Black people in the worst jobs. The worst housing. Police brutality rampant. But when the so-called black committeemen came around election time, we’d all line up and vote the straight Democratic ticket. Sell our souls for a Christmas turkey. White folks spitting in our faces, and we’d reward ‘em with the vote.”

PolitiFact, a fact-checking publication run by the Tampa Bay Times, assigned the Great America Alliance ad its “Pants on Fire” rating for being misleading.

Though a spokesman from the PAC, Pruitt told PolitiFact that the Obama quote was not taken out of context.

“The clip of President Obama was absolutely in context on this issue and helps make our point in the ad, which is why we used it,” Pruitt said, according to PolitiFact.

@Autry hits it out of the park with this one. #christmasturkey #GreatAmerica https://t.co/OIdXDQeWje

— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) June 19, 2017

Great America Alliance co-chair Eric Beach told CNN that the ad was an “outside the box” attempt to show “creatively” the Democrats history with black voters.

“It’s like any ad,” Beach told CNN about the edited quote, “those are his words and we want to use his words and I’ll leave it at that.”

Eric Schultz, a senior adviser to Obama, told CNN that the use of the former president’s voice in the ad was “fraudulent” and a “shameful, indefensible tactic.”

“Deceptively using President Obama’s voice to suggest people sit out of the democratic process is a form of voter suppression and it not only signals weakness, it runs counter to our American values,” Schultz said.

In response to a tweet asking about the ad Monday night, Pruitt wrote: “Not an effort to suppress votes; it is an effort to get my fellow Black Americans to run screaming from lying democrats #christmasturkey”

Not an effort to suppress votes; it is an effort to get my fellow Black Americans to run screaming from lying democrats #christmasturkey

— Autry (@Autry) June 20, 2017

More from Morning Mix

Author Marlon James offers biting critique of Minnesota racism after Philando Castile case

Watch this machete-wielding Fla. homeowner refusing to be a robbery victim

[Category: National, Politics, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/20/17 2:37am

In the early morning of June 15, Leandro Mojena-Peralta and another man were casually sitting outside at a table when suddenly three masked men stormed his home in Sarasota, Fla., according to the Herald-Tribune. The men, wearing makeshift masks and baggy clothes were armed with a shotgun, machete and crowbar. They looked scary enough but as the surveillance footage would later show, they were no match for homeowner Mojena-Peralta and his huge, gleaming machete.

The video shows the men appearing suddenly out of nowhere. Mojena-Peralta throws his lawn chair at them. Then he picks  up a wooden plank and starts swinging it.

The intruders keep advancing, instructing the other man to lie down on the ground, which he does.

The intruders (later identified by police as Alen Beltran-Vazquez, Angel Cabrera-Basulto and Ronier Jauregui-Lorente) chase Mojena-Peralta as he sprints inside for a few moments.

Then, though armed with the shotgun and other weapons, the robbers start backing up all of a sudden. The reason for their retreat soon becomes apparent as Mojena-Peralta reappears waving his own machete, much bigger than theirs.

Mojena-Peralta charges at them brandishing the huge blade.

Suddenly two of the robbers drop their weapons, jump the fence and flee the scene, leaving their pal behind.

Mojena-Peralta grabs the gun of the remaining robber and pins him to the ground.

Mojena-Peralta tosses the shotgun to the side just as a scared woman appears in sleep attire. A small dog runs around excitedly in the background.

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said the two men who fled were found a short time later in a car at a gas station with two other men. Deputies said one of the men was carrying several zip ties. Two of the men admitted to committing the attempted robbery. Two men not seen in the surveillance video helped to coordinate it.

In total, five men were arrested including Jorge Valido-Leyva and Roberto Salcedo-Balanza. They all remain in the Sarasota County jail without bail.

Sarasota is on the west coast of Florida. The suspects were said to reside all the way across the state on the east coast. It was unclear why they allegedly chose Mojena-Peralta as a target.

“Sometimes luck plays into it. In this case here, things just worked out,” Lieutenant Brian Gregory with the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office told WFLA.

(Courtesy of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office)

Beltran-Vazquez is charged with two counts of armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a felon. Valido-Leyva and Salcedo-Balanza are charged with two counts each of principal to armed robbery. Jauregui-Lorente and Cabrera-Basulto face two counts each of armed robbery.

No injuries were reported.

[Category: National, newsletter]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/20/17 2:08am

Marlon James won the 2015 winner of the Man Booker Prize for “A Brief History of Seven Killings.” (Jeffrey Skemp)

Nearly two years ago, “Marlon James Day” was celebrated in Minnesota, a special honor bestowed on the Jamaican-born Minneapolis author who had just won the prestigious Man Booker Prize — Britain’s top literary honor — for “A Brief History of Seven Killings.”

Minnesota, a state with a strong literary community, was especially proud that a writing teacher at Macalester College in St. Paul had earned one of literature’s most coveted honors for his fictionalized book about the 1976 attempted killing of reggae king Bob Marley, its aftermath and the CIA’s role in political upheaval in Jamaica.

”I thought it would be considered as one of those experimental novels that no one reads,” James told the New York Times after winning the award — a unanimous decision though many reviewers had considered him a long shot to win. That win, magnified the reach of his voice many times over.

Last weekend, James took to Facebook to voice his frustrations about racism in Minnesota as a “big, black guy” who has lived in the state for a decade. His essay was titled, “Smaller, and Smaller, and Smaller.”

” … I’m more famous than most people of colour in Minnesota, and yet in ten years I have only four close friends who were born here,” James wrote. “In ten years I have only seen the home of five people.”

Jamaican author Marlon James as he poses for a photograph in London ahead of the ceremony for the 2015 Man Booker Prize for fiction. (AFP/Getty Images)

His comments were posted a day after a jury’s June 16 acquittal of police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the shooting death of Philando Castile during a traffic stop north of St. Paul last July as demonstrators took to the streets to protest the verdict.

After being pulled over, 32-year-old Castile informed the officer that he had a weapon in the car — he had a permit for it. Soon after, the officer fired seven shots at Castile. As he lay dying, another passenger in the vehicle — Castile’s girlfriend — livestreamed the aftermath on social media, attracting massive national attention.

Castile was a longtime employee of St. Paul Public Schools. At the time of his death, worked as a nutrition services supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School.

In his Facebook post, James said that being famous hasn’t made him feel any safer in Minnesota.

I have a big global voice, but a small local one, because I don’t want to be a target, and resent that in 2017, that’s still the only choice I get to have. … I go out of my way to avoid police, because I don’t know how to physically act around them. Do I hold my hands in the air and get shot, Do I kneel and get shot? Do I reach for my ID and get shot?

Do I say I’m an English teacher and get shot? Do I tell them everything I am about to do, and get shot? Do I assume than seven of them will still feel threatened by one of me, and get shot? Do I simply stand and be big black guy and get shot? Do I fold my arms and squeeze myself into smaller and get shot? Do I be a smartass and get shot? Do I leave my iPhone on a clip of me on Seth Meyers, so I can play it and say, see, that’s me. I’m one of the approved black guys. And still get shot?

… You will never know how it feels to realize that it doesn’t matter how many magazines articles I get, or which state names a day after me. Tomorrow when I get on my bike, I am big black guy, who might be shot before the day ends, because my very size will make a cop feel threatened. Or if I’m a woman, my very mouth. And a jury of white people, and people of colour sold on white supremacy will acquit him. And even me hoping for hipster points on my fixed wheel bike, is countered by them thinking I probably stole the bike.

By early Tuesday, the essay had received hundreds of “likes” and been widely shared, but received only a few comments.

“After reading this Marlon, I am convinced one must come to London and work,” one man wrote. “This constant theme of being a target cannot be healthy for you …”

Said another commenter: “Wow dude … wow … wow.”

Marlon James, dropping truth bombs, as usual. https://t.co/W3BtHbcpg5

— Jack Norton (@HistoryJack) June 20, 2017

Marlon James is an English professor @Macalester & his FB post gone viral is a searing take on life as a black man in Minnesota. https://t.co/i6QKdgM2eq

— Lars Leafblad (@larsleafblad) June 20, 2017

yes-this is MN too. To be black here is not easy. thx @MarlonJames5 #PhilandoCastile #notproudhttps://t.co/MgjoL6JBC1

— LynnBlewett (@LynnBlewett) June 20, 2017

[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/19/17 11:30am

Seattle police officers shot and killed a 30-year-old pregnant woman at her apartment Sunday morning in front of “several children” when the woman “confronted” them with a knife, according to a statement from authorities.

The Seattle Times reported that the woman had called police to report a possible burglary.

At a vigil Sunday night, family identified the woman as Charleena Lyles, according to the Times, and relatives said she had a history of mental health struggles. She was three months pregnant, her family said, and too “tiny” for officers to have felt threatened by her — even if she had a knife.

“Why couldn’t they have Tased her?” Lyles’s sister, Monika Williams, said to the Seattle Times. “They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down.”

Charleena Lyles, 30yo woman who was fatally shot by SPD today. Photo shared with permission from family pic.twitter.com/zHr3DV8mqM

— Steven Hsieh (@stevenjhsieh) June 18, 2017

On Sunday morning just before 10 a.m., two patrol officers were dispatched to investigate a reported burglary at Brettler Family Place, an apartment complex for people transitioning out of homelessness, according to Detective Mark Jamieson.

Usually, only one officer would respond to a standard burglary call like this one, Jamieson told reporters. But police were familiar with Lyles and her apartment, he said, and her call flagged “hazard information” affiliated with her apartment that “presented an increased risk to officers,” the detective said.

[Minn. officer acquitted in shooting of Philando Castile during traffic stop, dismissed from police force]

Officers walked to the fourth floor and “at some point, the 30-year-old female was armed with a knife,” Jamieson told reporters. Both officers, who have not been identified, fired their weapons. They performed CPR, according to authorities, but Lyles was later declared dead by fire department officials at the scene.

The children inside at the time were unharmed. Police were trying to determine Sunday whether the children had witnessed the shooting.

The department’s Force Investigative Team is investigating the officers’ decision to use deadly force. Both officers will be placed on administrative leave during the investigation, authorities said.

Florida Carroll, a relative of the victim, cries into her phone at the scene of the shooting. (Bettina Hansen/Seattle Times via AP)

Authorities offered few immediate details about what led police to fire their weapons. Early Monday, the police department released an audio recording capturing what they described as “some of the interaction with the caller prior to the rapid development of the use of force incident.”

On the recording, which officials said was captured by dashboard video cameras in the patrol cars, officers can be heard discussing a woman who had previously made “all these weird statements.” Neither officer is identified, and police say all names have been removed from the recording.

The recording captured officers speaking to a woman about an Xbox that she said was taken. Seconds after that interaction, however, the encounter suddenly escalates and the officers can be heard shouting at the woman to back away.

“Hey, get back! Get back!” an officer shouts, a call echoed by the other officer, before a volley of gunshots are heard.

In a short statement accompanying the recording, police said that both police officers involved “were equipped with less lethal force options, per departmental policy.”

[Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no.]

Family members told the Seattle Times that they believe Lyles’s race — she is black — was a factor in her death. Seattle police told the newspaper that the officers who shot her are white.

Sean O’Donnell, captain of the department’s north precinct, where the shooting took place, said one of the officers is an 11-year veteran of the force and the other is “newer to the department,” reported the Times.

King County jail records show that Lyles was arrested June 5 on charges of harassment, obstruction of a public official and harassment of a law enforcement officer. She was released conditionally on June 14. Williams told the Seattle Times that one condition was that she receive mental health counseling, although the newspaper could not independently verify that information Sunday.

Williams told TV station KOMO News that her sister’s arrest earlier this month was connected to another incident at the apartment. Lyles was charged with obstruction because she refused to hand over one of the children to officers until Williams arrived at the scene. She had scissors in her hand, Williams said.

“She didn’t charge nobody or nothing,” Williams told KOMO News.

She said Lyles had “mental health issues” that were going untreated.

People attend a memorial outside the apartment building in Seattle. (Ken Lambert/Seattle Times via AP)

Around a hundred people gathered Sunday for a vigil honoring Lyles. The mourners taped a photos of the woman and her children to the back of black plastic chairs and spelled her name out on the sidewalk with small votive candles. Friends and family wondered aloud how police could shoot and kill a mother in front of her children.

Lhora Murray, 42, lives in the apartment directly below Lyles and told the Stranger she often heard yelling from the woman’s unit and called security multiple times. When she heard gunshots Sunday morning, Murray said she called people — unaware it was officers who had fired their weapons.

Murray told the Stranger that after the shooting, police handed her two of Lyles’s children, a 10-year-old and a toddler. “They shot my mom,” Murray said the 10-year-old told her as she took the kids outside.

A Seattle police officer cradles a child, with two more in the car. (Bettina Hansen/Seattle Times via AP)

The deadly shooting in Seattle came just two days after a jury in Minnesota acquitted an officer who was charged with fatally shooting Philando Castile, a local school employee, during a traffic stop last year. That acquittal sparked intense protests late Friday and early Saturday around St. Paul, where police estimate thousands of people were demonstrating, including a group that blocked the freeway.

The shooting in Seattle was “a tragedy for all involved,” Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement. He promised a full and thorough investigation, citing “historic police reforms” that are “in place to address such crises.”

The Seattle Police Department has been operating under a consent decree since 2012, following the conclusion of a federal investigation the previous year.

The Justice Department’s investigation concluded that the Seattle Police Department, one of the 40 largest local police forces nationwide, engaged in an unconstitutional pattern or practice of excessive force. While the 2011 investigation did not find that Seattle police officers have a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing, federal officials said their investigation raised “serious concerns on this issue,” concluding that some of the department’s “policies and practices, particularly those related to pedestrian encounters, could result in unlawful policing.”

After the investigation, the city of Seattle and the Justice Department negotiated a consent decree, which the federal government has used for nearly a quarter of a century to bring about court-enforceable reforms overseen by an independent monitor. These agreements were a key legacy of the Obama administration, but they are far less popular with the Trump administration. Earlier this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has criticized such decrees, ordered Justice Department officials to review all reform agreements nationwide.

[A brief history of consent decrees, which have been used to force police reform]

In April, less than a week after Sessions ordered a sweeping review of consent decrees, the Seattle police monitor filed a report saying that use of force by officers had gone down. Notably, the monitor concluded that officers and people in Seattle were not imperiled by this shift.

“Overall, use of force has gone down even as officer injuries have not gone up and crime, by most measures, has not increased,” the monitor wrote. “At the same time, the force that SPD officers do use is, by and large, reasonable, necessary, proportional, and consistent with the Department’s use of force policy.”

The report studied more than 2,380 incidents involving a use of force over a period of 28 months, the monitor wrote. During that time, more than half of the incidents involved someone determined by police to be “exhibiting some sign of impairment,” described as a mental health or behavioral crisis or potential intoxication. During that 28-month period, the monitor said there were 15 shootings by police officers; in six of those cases, the person facing police “appeared to be experiencing a behavioral crisis.”

This story has been updated since it was first published.

Further reading:

The Washington Post’s database of fatal police shootings in 2017

Some gun owners are disturbed by the Philando Castile verdict. The NRA is silent.

Fatal shootings by police remain relatively unchanged after two years

[Category: National, newsletter]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/19/17 5:49am

Seattle police officers shot and killed a 30-year-old mother of four at her apartment Sunday morning in front of “several children” when the woman “confronted” them with a knife, according to a statement from authorities. The Seattle Times said she had called police to report a possible burglary.

At a vigil Sunday night, family identified the woman as Charleena Lyles, reported the Times, and said she had a history of mental health struggles. She was three months pregnant with her fifth child, her family said, and too “tiny” for officers to have felt threatened by her — even if she had a knife.

“Why couldn’t they have Tased her?” Lyles’s sister, Monika Williams, told the Seattle Times. “They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down.”

Charleena Lyles, 30yo woman who was fatally shot by SPD today. Photo shared with permission from family pic.twitter.com/zHr3DV8mqM

— Steven Hsieh (@stevenjhsieh) June 18, 2017

Authorities offered few details Sunday of what led police to fire their weapons.

Two patrol officers dispatched just before 10 a.m. Sunday to investigate a reported burglary at Brettler Family Place, an apartment complex for people transitioning out of homelessness, Detective Mark Jamieson said.

Usually, only one officer would respond to a standard burglary call like this one, Jamieson told reporters. But police were familiar with Lyles and her apartment, he said, and her call flagged “hazard information” affiliated with her apartment that “presented an increased risk to officers,” the detective said.

Officers walked to the fourth floor and “at some point, the 30-year-old female was armed with a knife,” Jamieson told reporters. Both officers, who have not been identified, fired their weapons. They performed CPR, according to authorities, but Lyles was later declared dead by fire department officials at the scene.

The children inside at the time were unharmed. Police were trying to determine Sunday if the kids had witnessed the shooting.

The department’s Force Investigative Team is investigating the officers’ decision to use deadly force. Both officers will be placed on administrative leave during the investigation, authorities said.

Florida Carroll, a relative of the victim, cries into her phone at the scene of the shooting. (Bettina Hansen/Seattle Times via AP)

Family members told the Seattle Times that they believe Lyles’s race — she is black — was a factor in her death. Seattle police told the newspaper that the officers who shot her are white.

Sean O’Donnell, captain of the department’s north precinct, where the shooting took place, said one of the officers is an 11-year veteran of the force and the other is “newer to the department,” reported the Times.

King County jail records show that Lyles was arrested on June 5 on charges of harassment, obstruction of a public official and harassment of a law enforcement officer. She was released conditionally on June 14. Williams told the Seattle Times that one condition was that she receive mental health counseling, though the newspaper could not independently verify that information Sunday.

Williams told TV station KOMO News that her sister’s arrest earlier this month was connected to another incident at the apartment. Lyles was charged with obstruction because she refused to hand over one of the children to officers until Williams arrived at the scene. She had scissors in her hand, Williams said.

“She didn’t charge nobody or nothing,” Williams told KOMO News.

She said Lyles had “mental health issues” that were going untreated.

People attend a memorial outside the apartment building in Seattle. (Ken Lambert/Seattle Times via AP)

Around a hundred people gathered Sunday for a vigil honoring Lyles. The mourners taped a photos of the woman and her children to the back of black plastic chairs and spelled her name out on the sidewalk with small votive candles. Friends and family wondered aloud how police could shoot and kill a mother in front of her children.

Lhora Murray, 42, lives in the apartment directly below Lyles and told the Stranger she often heard yelling from the woman’s unit and called security multiple times. When she heard gunshots Sunday morning, Murray said she called people — unaware it was officers who had fired their weapons.

Murray told the Stranger that after the shooting, police handed her two of Lyles’s children, a 10-year-old and a toddler. “They shot my mom,” Murray said the 10-year-old told her as she took the kids outside.

A Seattle police officer cradles a child, with two more in the car. (Bettina Hansen/Seattle Times via AP)

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement that the shooting was “a tragedy for all involved.”

He promised a full and thorough investigation, citing “historic police reforms” that are “in place to address such crises.”

The Seattle Police Department has been operating under a federal consent decree since 2012, when a Department of Justice investigation found that officers used regular and widespread excessive force on the job, reported the Seattle Times.

A court-ordered federal monitor issued a report in April asserting that the department had made a positive turnaround and that use of force by officers was down, reported the Times.

[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/19/17 5:47am

Jay Sekulow had a hectic day Sunday, bouncing from one news show to another to beat back reports that President Trump was under investigation for obstruction of justice.

In media blitz through four networks, Sekulow, a new member of Trump’s legal team, repeatedly insisted that there was no such probe — an assertion at odds with stories published last week in The Washington Post and elsewhere — only to concede later that he could not know for sure. At one point he flatly contradicted himself on Fox News Sunday, in a stumble that host Chris Wallace, a seasoned TV interrogator, seized upon for maximum effect.

All told, Sekulow came off a bit like a Washington novice, which he’s definitely not. His face and his name are well known in the nation’s capital and among conservatives generally — but not for this kind of work. He’s an experienced litigator on behalf of conservative causes, especially of causes dear to the religious right. White collar defense lawyers, particularly those who defend political figures, form a small community in Washington, and Sekulow is not part of it.

Sekulow made his first big Washington debut in 1987 in the U.S. Supreme Court when he helped the evangelical group Jews for Jesus defeat a measure that banned the distribution of religious literature at Los Angeles International Airport.

His performance was unimpressive, The American Lawyer wrote at the time. Sekulow was “rude and aggressive,” the publication wrote, “so nervous that at times he appeared nearly out of control.”

Fortunately for Sekulow it was an easy case to win. The ordinance literally barred “First Amendment activity” at the airport, presenting clear constitutional problems. And win Sekulow did — in a unanimous decision striking down the measure.

“I left the courtroom feeling like the Beatles must have felt leaving Shea Stadium,” he wrote in 2005.

The victory turned Sekulow, a self-described Messianic Jew, into a crusader for religious expression and a celebrity on the Christian right, a status that has only grown since then. Over the course of three decades, he built a legal and media empire by representing religious groups, antiabortion advocates and other conservative organizations in high-profile court battles.

With televangelist Pat Robertson, Sekulow launched the American Center for Law and Justice — the conservative response to the American Civil Liberties Union — which litigates an array of evangelical causes, often with great success. He has appeared before the Supreme Court on 11 other occasions and has filed numerous amicus briefs in cases related to civil liberties.

Like so many other people in Trump’s orbit, he hosts a widely syndicated daily radio talk show with millions of listeners, and is a regular guest on Fox News, the 700 Club and Sean Hannity’s radio show, where he weighs in on legal issues.

Recently, some 30 years after his humble beginning in the Supreme Court, he agreed to take on the client of a lifetime: the president of the United States.

It was an unusual move for Sekulow, now 61.

He has virtually no experience in law enforcement investigations or white collar matters, unlike his main counterparts on the legal team representing Trump in the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and, now, possible obstruction of justice by the president. Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s personal attorney, has long represented clients facing investigations, and John Dowd, another new addition to the team, is renowned for defending public figures and politicians in white-collar cases.

Nevertheless, it was Sekulow who entered the fray this weekend to defend Trump.

The exchanges with hosts on CNN, NBC and Fox News were tense and combative, with Sekulow’s inner litigator and conservative media bravado on full display.

In the heated interview on Fox News Sunday, he first asserted that Trump was not being investigated.

Then Wallace pressed him about what Trump meant when he tweeted Friday, “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!”

“He’s being investigated for taking the action that the attorney general and the deputy attorney general recommended him to take, by the agency that recommended he take the action. That’s the constitutional threshold issue,” Sekulow said.

Wallace went in for the kill. He pointed out that Sekulow, now saying the president was “being investigated,” appeared to have changed his answer.

That’s when Sekulow grew frustrated.

“I don’t appreciate you putting words in my mouth when I’ve been crystal clear that the president is not and has not been under investigation,” he said.

“But you don’t know that he’s not under investigation again, sir?” Wallace responded.

“You’re right, Chris. I cannot read the mind of the special prosecutor,” Sekulow shot back.

The makeup of the Trump team, specifically its inexperience with the unique challenges of high-level Washington probes, became a target of ridicule last week from Trump critics, which only increased with the appearance of Sekulow.

“The point here is not that he’s some kind of fringe crackpot,” MSNBC’s Steve Benen wrote of Sekulow.

“Rather, the point is there’s a sizable gap between Sekulow’s decades of work on religious and social issues,” Bennen said. “When thinking of the kind of lawyers Trump should seek for this crisis, Sekulow’s name wouldn’t come to mind — not because he’s ridiculous, because he’s not that kind of attorney.”

I don't know what the facts will show or what the special counsel will conclude, but Kasowitz, Sekulow & Dowd is not the dream team. https://t.co/lRR3zoll7C

— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) June 18, 2017

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo seemed to agree, writing, “this just isn’t his line of work.”

“I’m not saying Sekulow is a joke. He’s not,” Marshall wrote. “There is literally nothing in Sekulow’s professional background (other than perhaps simply having a law degree) which would suit him to the very specific legal task of defending a sitting president from legal jeopardy.”

Sekulow did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Sunday night.

Few attorneys have ever handled the investigation of a president. What Sekulow — or anyone, for that matter — may lack in proven skills tailored to the task at hand, he may make up for in loyalty to Trump. Perhaps that’s among the reasons Trump hired him.

As Trump’s scandals have ballooned over the past few months, Sekulow has stood up for the president and inveighed against the perceived enemies of the White House on his radio show, in television appearances and on his website.

Using language popular on the political far-right, he has warned repeatedly of a “deep state bureaucracy” out to sabotage the presidency and a “shadow government” led by none other than former FBI director James B. Comey, who was fired by Trump last month.

In May, Sekulow dismissed the Russia scandal as “a fraud on the American people.” He said on his radio show: “The Washington Post and the New York Times love it. There’s only one thing missing: facts.”

The #ShadowGovernment is a gross detriment to our national security and it must be defeated. SIGN & RT: https://t.co/DKKX6Xgw6K pic.twitter.com/CDnpeoRdsg

— Jay Sekulow (@JaySekulow) May 24, 2017

After Comey’s closely watched testimony before the Senate earlier this month, Sekulow called the former FBI director the “leaker in chief” and said he should face charges. In an appearance on Hannity, he said: “This is the complete collapse of James B. Comey and the Comey narrative about this case. It’s over. There is no case there.”

The same day, on his radio show, Sekulow addressed what were then rumors about his role on the legal team, saying he was happy to help defend against an “attack on the presidency.”

“If the president of the United States asks you for legal advice and you’re a lawyer and you’re serving your country and the Constitution, you do it,” Sekulow said. “This was an opportunity that opened up and we wanted to take advantage of it in order to make sure the Constitution is fulfilled. This is an attack on the presidency. That’s what this is.”

He added that he was fulfilling a sort of commitment to his audience as well.

“A lot of you have been asking to have a voice on this,” he said. “Well, you do.”

[Category: National, Politics, newsletter-hero]

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[l] at 6/19/17 4:14am

Seattle police officers shot and killed a 30-year-old mother of four at her apartment Sunday morning in front of “several children” when the woman “confronted” them with a knife, according to a statement from authorities. The Seattle Times said she had called police to report a possible burglary.

At a vigil Sunday night, family identified the woman as Charleena Lyles, reported the Times, and said she had a history of mental health struggles. She was three months pregnant with her fifth child, they said, and too “tiny” for officers to have felt threatened by her — even if she had a knife.

“Why couldn’t they have Tased her?” Lyles’ sister, Monika Williams, told the Seattle Times. “They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down.”

Charleena Lyles, 30yo woman who was fatally shot by SPD today. Photo shared with permission from family pic.twitter.com/zHr3DV8mqM

— Steven Hsieh (@stevenjhsieh) June 18, 2017

Authorities offered few details Sunday of what led police to fire their weapons.

Two patrol officers dispatched just before 10 a.m. Sunday to investigate a reported burglary at Brettler Family Place, an apartment complex for people transitioning out of homelessness, Detective Mark Jamieson said.

Usually, only one officer would respond to a standard burglary call like this one, Jamieson told reporters. But police were familiar with Lyles and her apartment, he said, and her called flagged “hazard information” affiliated with her apartment that “presented an increased risk to officers,” the detective said.

Officers walked to the fourth floor and “at some point, the 30-year-old female was armed with a knife,” Jamieson told reporters. Both officers, who have not been identified, fired their weapons. They performed CPR, according to authorities, but Lyles was later declared dead by fire department officials at the scene.

The children inside at the time were unharmed. Police were trying to determine Sunday if the kids had witnessed the shooting.

The department’s Force Investigative Team is investigating the officers’ decision to use deadly force. Both officers will be placed on administrative leave during the investigation, authorities said.

Family members told the Seattle Times that they believe Lyles race — she is black — was a factor in her death. Seattle police told the newspaper that the officers who shot her are white.

Sean O’Donnell, captain of the department’s north precinct, where the shooting took place, said one of the officers is an 11-year veteran of the force and the other is “newer to the department,” reported the Times.

Florida Carroll, a relative of the victim, cries into her phone at the scene of a police shooting at the Brettler Family Place Apartments in Seattle on June 18, 2017. (Bettina Hansen/The Seattle Times via AP)

King County jail records show that Lyles was arrested on June 5 on charges of harassment, obstruction of a public official and harassment of a law enforcement officer. She was released conditionally on June 14. Williams told the Seattle Times that one condition was that she receive mental health counseling, though the newspaper could not independently verify that information Sunday.

[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/19/17 3:46am

Jay Z performs during a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Cleveland on Nov. 4, 2016. (AP/Matt Rourke)

Jay Z is the father to at least one child. If you believe the Internet rumors that Beyoncé has indeed given birth to the couple’s long-awaited twins, then he might be the father to three.

Yet the rapper ushered in Father’s Day in an unusual way: by writing an essay in Time magazine about the “injustice of the profitable bail bond industry.”

Writing under his given name, Shawn Carter, Jay Z lamented the many fathers who spent Sunday’s holiday away from their children because they couldn’t afford bail.

“If you’re from neighborhoods like the Brooklyn one I grew up in, if you’re unable to afford a private attorney, then you can be disappeared into our jail system simply because you can’t afford bail,” Jay Z wrote. “Millions of people are separated from their families for months at a time — not because they are convicted of committing a crime, but because they are accused of committing a crime.”

He said he became “obsessed” with the topic after helping produce the Spike docu-series “TIME: The Kalief Browder Story.”

Browder was arrested in the Bronx on May 15, 2010, just ten days before his seventeenth birthday by police who accused him of stealing a backpack, the New Yorker reported. He remained in jail for three years, awaiting trial. He refused numerous plea deals, insisting on his innocence.

“Kalief’s family was too poor to post bond … He was sentenced to a kind of purgatory before he ever went to trial,” Jay Z wrote. “The three years he spent in solitary confinement on Rikers ultimately created irreversible damage that lead to his death at 22.”

One night in prison, Browder “tore his bedsheet into strips, tied them together to make a noose, attached it to the light fixture, and tried to hang himself,” the New Yorker reported. When he finally was released because the state could not meet the necessary burden of proof, Browder was 20 years old.

He killed himself two years later.

In his essay, Jay Z claimed the bail bond industry was partially to blame. He noted the only option for Browder’s family would have been taking out a loan, which can be financially devastating.

“When black and brown people are over-policed and arrested and accused of crimes at higher rates than others, and then forced to pay for their freedom before they ever see trial, big bail companies prosper,” he wrote. ” … Families are forced to take on more debt, often in predatory lending schemes created by bail bond insurers. Or their loved ones linger in jails, sometimes for months — a consequence of nationwide backlogs.”

For his part, Jay Z said “This Father’s Day, I’m supporting” Southerners on New Ground and Color of Change “to bail out fathers who can’t afford the due process our democracy promises.” These are two nonprofits that held a fundraiser to help bail out 100 imprisoned mothers on Mother’s Day.

“As a father with a growing family, it’s the least I can do, but philanthropy is not a long fix, we have to get rid of these inhumane practices altogether,” Jay Z wrote. “We can’t fix our broken criminal justice system until we take on the exploitative bail industry.”

Jay Z has long been vocal, generally through his music, about the criminal justice system and its inadequacies. As he wrote, seventeen years ago he released a song titled “Guilty Until Proven Innocent.”

This essay, and the promised donation, was in keeping with Jay Z’s late-career activism, much of which flourished during the Obama administration.

Along with his wife Beyoncé, Jay Z hosted a fundraiser for Obama’s second presidential campaign. The two formed a friendship, and in 2016, Jay Z was among several musicians who visited the White House to discuss criminal justice reform.

[Obama describes his bond with Jay Z]

Obama seemed moved by Jay Z’s activism. Just days ago, Obama helped induct the rapper into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In a prerecorded video, he said, “Jay, you have been inspiring, making me want to be active in my retirement just you have been in yours.”

It should be noted, though, that Jay Z is far from retired. He recently announced a new studio album titled “4:44.” And, in fact, he released a snippet of a new song from it titled “Adnis” on the same weekend his op-ed published in Time, Pitchfork reported.

More from Morning Mix

Smartphones made his kids ‘moody’ and ‘withdrawn’. Now he wants to ban them for preteens.

[Category: Entertainment, National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/19/17 2:48am

(iStock photo)

Colorado dad and Denver-area anesthesiologist Tim Farnum has always understood the intrigue of modern technology. Smartphones, tablets and unfettered Internet access connect us to faraway corners of the world and make life — and movie watching — all the more convenient.

But the father of five is not convinced these devices are beneficial for children, a conclusion he came to after his two youngest sons, ages 11 and 13, got smartphones last year.

“There were some real problems,” Farnum, 49, told The Washington Post. “If you tell them to watch the screen time, all of a sudden the fangs come out.”

As he tells it, his once energetic and outgoing boys became moody, quiet and reclusive. They never left their bedrooms, and when he tried to take away the phones, one of Farnum’s sons launched into a temper tantrum that the dad described as equivalent to the withdrawals of a crack addict.

So Farnum started researching the side effects of screen time on kids and found statistics that astonished him. Too much technology too soon can impair brain development, hinder social skills and trigger an unhealthy reliance on the neurotransmitter dopamine, a high similar to what drug and alcohol addicts feel.

Farnum read it all, then said he thought to himself: “Someone has got to do something.”

Tim Farnum (Photo courtesy of Tim Farnum)

In February, he formed the nonprofit PAUS (Parents Against Underage Smartphones) with a few other medical professionals and began drafting a ballot initiative that, if passed, would make Colorado the first state in the nation to establish legal limits on smartphones sales to children.

Farnum’s proposal, ballot initiative no. 29, would make it illegal for cellphone providers to sell smartphones to children under the age of 13. The ban would require retailers to ask customers the age of the primary user of the smartphone and submit monthly adherence reports to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

The department would be responsible for creating a website portal for the reports and would investigate violations and collect penalties. The first violation would incur a written warning. A second would produce a $500 fine, and the amount would double with each subsequent incident.

The initiative has garnered “overwhelming” support from parents and grandparents who worry that too much technology can stunt imaginations and appreciation for the outdoors, he claims. But Farnum also faces opposition from others, including some lawmakers, who believe that it’s a parental responsibility, not one for government.

“Frankly, I think it should remain a family matter,” Colorado state Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, told the Coloradoan. “I know there have been different proposals out there regarding the Internet and putting filters on websites that might put kids at risk. I think ultimately, this comes down to parents … making sure their kids are not putting themselves at risk.”

Farnum told The Post he understands the pushback from those who see this as a parental responsibility and a law as an encroachment on parental power, but said his group sees premature smartphone access as a danger equivalent to smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or watching pornography.

“We have age restrictions on all those things because they’re harmful to kids,” Farnum said. “This is no different, in my opinion.”

The proposal also distinguishes smartphones from other cellular devices like standard flip phones that cannot access the Internet, because many parents just want to be able to contact their children for safety reasons.

Though the goal is to curb what Farnum described as the corporate interest of cellphone companies and app makers from latching onto the younger generations, he admitted that there is also an educational component his crusade. Many parents don’t know the dangers of excessive technology usage, he said, or the permanent damage it can do to their children.

Because iPads and tablets are even entering the classroom at an earlier age, Farnum said it is a “real struggle” for parents to feel like they have control over their children’s exposure to technology.

“Hopefully this helps and pushes the conversation forward,” Farnum told The Post.

The nonprofit has cleared some of the initial hurdles that come with proposing new legislation, but still has a long road ahead. PAUS will need to collect roughly 100,000 signatures over the next year and a half to get the issue on the ballot in the fall of 2018.

By the end of June, Farnum plans to have the official petition printed and ready for signatures. Colorado does not accept digital petition signatures, so Farnum and his group will have to collect support the old-fashioned way.

“It’s kind of ironic, perhaps,” he said. “We’re going to have to go knock on doors and sit outside grocery stores. It’s slowly gaining steam.”

Next week, Farnum, who characterizes his views as “fairly libertarian,” is meeting with the most liberal democratic senator in the state. But he is trying to keep the initiative away from partisan politics.

“I think it’s good that we’re all going to get to vote on it,” he said. “The parents all have to come together and do this.”

At home, Farnum’s two young sons no longer have smartphones — at least for now. They spent much of their second semester of the school year nearly technology free and he says he saw a notable difference.

They laughed again and wanted to be outdoors.

One, Farnum recalled, even offered a striking admission: “’Hey dad, I really like reading now.’”

More from Morning Mix

YouTube announces plan ‘to fight online terror’, including making incendiary videos difficult to find

 

[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/19/17 2:04am

Volunteers in the YouTube Heroes program flag inappropriate content for deletion. (Screenshot)

YouTube has long struggled with the conundrum of how to police videos that advocate hateful ideologies but don’t specifically encourage acts of violence.

The basic problem is such videos don’t break any of the platform’s specific guidelines. Banning some videos based on ideology and not others could lead to a slippery slope that could damage the primary appeal of YouTube: that users can upload their own content, so long as it’s not illegal, without fear of being censored.

On Sunday, Google, which owns YouTube, announced new policies to help police such content in a blog post by Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel and senior vice president, titled, “Four steps we’re taking today to fight online terror.” It also appeared as an op-ed in the Financial Times.

The first two steps focus on identifying and removing videos that specifically encourage terrorism. But, as Walker wrote, that isn’t always as simple as it sounds, particularly since as of 2012, one hour of content is uploaded to the platform each second, as AdWeek reported, noting that makes a century of video every 10 days.

“This can be challenging: a video of a terrorist attack may be informative news reporting by the BBC, or glorification of violence if uploaded in a different context by a different user,” Walker wrote.

Currently, YouTube uses a combination of video analysis software and human content flaggers to find and delete videos that break its community guidelines.

The first step, Walker wrote, is to devote more resources “to apply our most advanced machine learning research” to the software, which means applying artificial intelligence to the software that will be able to learn over time what content breaks these guidelines.

The second step is to increase the number of “independent experts in YouTube’s Trusted Flagger Program,” which is composed of users who report inappropriate content directly to the company. Specifically, Google plans to add to the program 50 experts from nongovernmental organizations whom it will support with operational grants to review content.

“Machines can help identify problematic videos, but human experts still play a role in nuanced decisions about the line between violent propaganda and religious or newsworthy speech,” Walker wrote.

The third step, meanwhile, focuses on content that doesn’t actually break the site’s guidelines but nonetheless pushes hateful agendas, “for example, videos that contain inflammatory religious or supremacist content.”

Take Ahmad Musa Jibril, a Palestinian American preacher who espouses radical Islamic views in line with the beliefs of the Islamic State, for example. A 2014 report by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence found that more than half of recruits to the militant group, also known as ISIS, follow Jibril on Facebook or Twitter.

One of the London Bridge attackers reportedly became a follower of Jibril through social networks such as YouTube, the BBC reported.

But while these videos may help radicalize certain individuals, the ICRS report found that Jibril “does not explicitly call to violent jihad, but supports individual foreign fighters and justifies the Syrian conflict in highly emotive terms.”

Therefore, he doesn’t violate YouTube’s content guidelines.

Since YouTube cannot delete these videos and others of its kind, the company’s basic plan is to simply hide them as best they can.

“These will appear behind an interstitial warning and they will not be monetized, recommended or eligible for comments or user endorsements,” Walker wrote. “That means these videos will have less engagement and be harder to find.”

“We think this strikes the right balance between free expression and access to information without promoting extremely offensive viewpoints,” Walker added.

The final step is to use “targeted online advertising to reach potential ISIS recruits” and then redirect them “towards anti-terrorism videos that can change their minds about joining.”

These reforms come at a time when social media companies struggle with the fact that they’re often a breeding ground for radicalism. Most, by their very nature, act as global free speech platforms — which often makes them attractive as recruiting hotspots.

During the final six months of 2017, Twitter suspended almost 377,000 accounts for promoting terrorism. The company first announced it would police extremism on its network in 2015. Facebook, meanwhile, announced last week that it, like YouTube, uses a combination of artificial intelligence and human content flaggers in attempts to rid itself of extremist content.

YouTube’s need for some reform was arguably the most pressing, though, as companies such as AT&T and Verizon pulled advertising from the site in March because their ads would sometimes appear on videos that promoted hateful and extremist ideologies.

More from Morning Mix:

 Why a Colorado dad is fighting to make smartphones for preteens illegal

[Category: National, Tech, newsletter]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/19/17 2:04am

Volunteers in the YouTube Heroes program flag inappropriate content for deletion. (Screenshot)

YouTube has long struggled with the conundrum of how to police videos that advocate hateful ideologies but don’t specifically encourage acts of violence.

The basic problem is such videos don’t break any of the platform’s specific guidelines. Banning some videos based on ideology and not others could lead to a slippery-slope that could damage the primary appeal of YouTube: that users can upload their own content, so long as it’s not illegal, without fear of being censored.

On Sunday, Google, which owns YouTube, announced new policies to help police such content in a blog post by Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel and senior vice president, entitled “Four steps we’re taking today to fight online terror.” It also appeared as an op-ed in the Financial Times.

The first two steps focus on identifying and removing videos that specifically encourage terrorism. But, as Walker wrote, that isn’t always as simple as it sounds, particularly since as of 2012, one hour of content is uploaded to the platform each second, as AdWeek reported, noting that makes a century of video every 10 days.

“This can be challenging: a video of a terrorist attack may be informative news reporting by the BBC, or glorification of violence if uploaded in a different context by a different user,” Walker wrote.

Currently, YouTube uses a combination of video analysis software and human content flaggers to find and delete videos that break its community guidelines.

The first step, Walker wrote, is to devote more resources “to apply our most advanced machine learning research” to the software, which means applying artificial intelligence to the software that will be able to learn over time what content breaks these guidelines.

The second step is to increase the number of “independent experts in YouTube’s Trusted Flagger Program,” which is composed of users who report inappropriate content directly to the company. Specifically, Google plans to add to the program 50 experts from nongovernmental organizations whom it will support with operational grants to review content.

“Machines can help identify problematic videos, but human experts still play a role in nuanced decisions about the line between violent propaganda and religious or newsworthy speech,” Walker wrote.

The third step, meanwhile, focuses on content that doesn’t actually break the site’s guidelines but nonetheless pushes hateful agendas, “for example, videos that contain inflammatory religious or supremacist content.”

Take Ahmad Musa Jibril, a Palestinian-American preacher who espouses radical Islamic views in line with the beliefs of ISIS, for example. A 2014 report by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence found that more than half of ISIS recruits follow Jibril on Facebook or Twitter.

One of the London Bridge attackers reportedly became a follower of Jibril through social networks such as YouTube, the BBC reported.

But while these videos may help radicalize certain individuals, the ICRS report found that Jibril “does not explicitly call to violent jihad, but supports individual foreign fighters and justifies the Syrian conflict in highly emotive terms.”

Therefore, he doesn’t violate YouTube’s content guidelines.

Since YouTube cannot delete these videos and others of its kind, the company’s basic plan is to simply hide them as best they can.

“These will appear behind an interstitial warning and they will not be monetized, recommended or eligible for comments or user endorsements,” Walker wrote. “That means these videos will have less engagement and be harder to find.”

“We think this strikes the right balance between free expression and access to information without promoting extremely offensive viewpoints,” Walker added.

The final step is to use “targeted online advertising to reach potential ISIS recruits” and then redirect them “towards anti-terrorism videos that can change their minds about joining.”

These reforms come at a time when social media companies struggle with the fact that they’re often a breeding ground for radicalism. Most, by their very nature, act as global free speech platforms — which often makes them attractive as recruiting hotspots.

During the final six months of 2017, Twitter suspended almost 377,000 accounts for promoting terrorism. The company first announced it would police extremism on its network in 2015. Facebook, meanwhile, announced last week that it, like YouTube, uses a combination of artificial intelligence and human content flaggers in attempts to rid itself of extremist content.

YouTube’s need for some reform was arguably the most pressing, though, as companies such as AT&T and Verizon pulled advertising from the site in March because their ads would sometimes appear on videos that promoted hateful and extremist ideologies.

More from Morning Mix

 Why a Colorado dad is fighting to make smartphones for preteens illegal

[Category: National, Tech, newsletter]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/19/17 2:04am

Volunteers in the YouTube Heroes program flag inappropriate content for deletion. (Screenshot)

YouTube has long struggled with the conundrum of how to police videos that advocate hateful ideologies but don’t specifically encourage acts of violence.

The basic problem is such videos don’t break any of the platform’s specific guidelines. Banning some videos based on ideology and not others could lead to a slippery-slope that could damage the primary appeal of YouTube: that users can upload their own content, so long as it’s not illegal, without fear of being censored.

On Sunday, Google, which owns YouTube, announced new policies to help police such content in a blog post by Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel and senior vice president, entitled “Four steps we’re taking today to fight online terror.” It also appeared as an op-ed in the Financial Times.

The first two steps focus on identifying and removing videos that specifically encourage terrorism. But, as Walker wrote, that isn’t always as simple as it sounds, particularly since as of 2012, one hour of content is uploaded to the platform each second, as AdWeek reported, noting that makes a century of video every 10 days.

“This can be challenging: a video of a terrorist attack may be informative news reporting by the BBC, or glorification of violence if uploaded in a different context by a different user,” Walker wrote.

Currently, YouTube uses a combination of video analysis software and human content flaggers to find and delete videos that break its community guidelines.

The first step, Walker wrote, is to devote more resources “to apply our most advanced machine learning research” to the software, which means applying artificial intelligence to the software that will be able to learn over time what content breaks these guidelines.

The second step is to increase the number of “independent experts in YouTube’s Trusted Flagger Program,” which is composed of users who report inappropriate content directly to the company. Specifically, Google plans to add to the program 50 experts from nongovernmental organizations whom it will support with operational grants to review content.

“Machines can help identify problematic videos, but human experts still play a role in nuanced decisions about the line between violent propaganda and religious or newsworthy speech,” Walker wrote.

The third step, meanwhile, focuses on content that doesn’t actually break the site’s guidelines but nonetheless pushes hateful agendas, “for example, videos that contain inflammatory religious or supremacist content.”

Take Ahmad Musa Jibril, a Palestinian-American preacher who espouses radical Islamic views in line with the beliefs of ISIS, for example. A 2014 report by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence found that more than half of ISIS recruits follow Jibril on Facebook or Twitter.

One of the London Bridge attackers reportedly became a follower of Jibril through social networks such as YouTube, the BBC reported.

But while these videos may help radicalize certain individuals, the ICRS report found that Jibril “does not explicitly call to violent jihad, but supports individual foreign fighters and justifies the Syrian conflict in highly emotive terms.”

Therefore, he doesn’t violate YouTube’s content guidelines.

Since YouTube cannot delete these videos and others of its kind, the company’s basic plan is to simply hide them as best they can.

“These will appear behind an interstitial warning and they will not be monetized, recommended or eligible for comments or user endorsements,” Walker wrote. “That means these videos will have less engagement and be harder to find.”

“We think this strikes the right balance between free expression and access to information without promoting extremely offensive viewpoints,” Walker added.

The final step is to use “targeted online advertising to reach potential ISIS recruits” and then redirect them “towards anti-terrorism videos that can change their minds about joining.”

These reforms come at a time when social media companies struggle with the fact that they’re often a breeding ground for radicalism. Most, by their very nature, act as global free speech platforms — which often makes them attractive as recruiting hotspots.

During the final six months of 2017, Twitter suspended almost 377,000 accounts for promoting terrorism. The company first announced it would police extremism on its network in 2015. Facebook, meanwhile, announced last week that it, like YouTube, uses a combination of artificial intelligence and human content flaggers in attempts to rid itself of extremist content.

YouTube’s need for some reform was arguably the most pressing, though, as companies such as AT&T and Verizon pulled advertising from the site in March because their ads would sometimes appear on videos that promoted hateful and extremist content.

[Category: National, Tech, newsletter]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/16/17 5:50am

Oregon residents will soon have three options when selecting their gender on driver’s licenses and state identification cards: “M” for male, “F” for female and “X” for a nonspecified gender.

In offering them, Oregon becomes the first state to legally recognize “non-binary” individuals on ID cards, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation, which is making the option available beginning in July. The measure was approved Thursday by the Oregon Transportation Commission, according to the Oregonian.

An employee of the advocacy group Basic Rights Oregon hands out stickers during an Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle department public hearing on May 10. (Terray Sylvester/Reuters)

The change became inevitable after an Oregon judge’s decision last June to allow then 52-year-old Jamie Shupe the right to legally identify as non-binary, which was thought to be a first in the United States, according to NPR.

“My gender identity has never been male, but I feel like I have to own up to my male biology,” Shupe told the Oregonian at the time. “Being non-binary allows me to do that. I’m a mixture of both. I consider myself as a third sex.”

The Department of Motor Vehicles said in a statement that it took roughly a year to implement the change because “time was required to study state laws, update computer systems, work with business partners such as law enforcement and courts, and change administrative rules.”

DMV spokesman David House told the Guardian, “There was very little opposition” to the change.

A 2015 report by the National Center for Transgender Equality, found that people who show IDs that don’t match their identities regularly report facing harassment and in some cases physical violence.

California’s state Senate passed a bill on May 31 to allow a third gender option on all state issued documents. It’s awaiting a vote in the House. Oregon’s change did not require a legislative vote, the Oregonian reported.

More from Morning Mix:

Pence’s lawyer is the godfather of Comey’s daughter. That’s ‘the swamp’ for you.

‘Wonder Woman’ fans are sticking ‘swords’ down the back of their dresses in Internet trend

Obama describes his bond with Jay Z

[Category: National, newsletter]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/16/17 5:50am

Oregon residents will soon have three options when selecting their gender on driver’s licenses and state identification cards: “M” for male, “F” for female and “X” for a non-specified gender.

In offering them, Oregon becomes the first state to legally recognize “non-binary” individuals on ID cards, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation, which is making the option available beginning in July. The measure was approved Thursday by the Oregon Transportation Commission, according to the Oregonian.

The change became inevitable after an Oregon judge’s decision last June to allow then 52-year-old Jamie Shupe the right to legally identify as non-binary, which was thought to be a first in the United States, according to NPR.

“My gender identity has never been male, but I feel like I have to own up to my male biology,” Shupe told the Oregonian at the time. “Being non-binary allows me to do that. I’m a mixture of both. I consider myself as a third sex.”

The Department of Motor Vehicles said in a statement that it took roughly a year to implement the change because “time was required to study state laws, update computer systems, work with business partners such as law enforcement and courts, and change administrative rules.”

DMV spokesperson David House told the Guardian, “There was very little opposition” to the change.

An employee of the advocacy group Basic Rights Oregon hands out stickers during an Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle department public hearing on May 10. (Reuters/Terray Sylvester)

A 2015 report by the National Center for Transgender Equality, found that people who show IDs that don’t match their identities regularly report facing harassment and in some cases physical violence.

California’s state Senate passed a bill on May 31 to allow a third gender option on all state issued documents. It’s awaiting a vote in the House. Oregon’s change did not require a legislative vote, the Oregonian reported.

More from Morning Mix

Pence’s lawyer is the godfather of Comey’s daughter. That’s ‘the swamp’ for you.

‘Wonder Woman’ fans are sticking ‘swords’ down the back of their dresses in Internet trend

Obama describes his bond with Jay Z

[Category: National, newsletter]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/16/17 5:46am

Vice President Pence participates in a meeting on health care reform in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on June 5, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Vice President Pence became the latest member of the Trump administration to lawyer up Thursday, announcing that he had hired an outside attorney, Richard Cullen, to deal with the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections.

News reports described the sterling reputation of Cullen, 69, a longtime Washington insider who played crucial roles in some of the most high-profile political investigations of the last several decades.

But other parts of his resume attracted even more interest. For three years, Cullen worked at a Richmond law firm with a central figure of the Russia investigation: FBI Director James B. Comey, who was just fired by Pence’s boss, President Trump.

And not only are the two “close associates,” as news reports described them, but Cullen is also the godfather of one of Comey’s daughters, The Washington Post reported.

“So swampy,” one Twitter user said. “What a tangled Web we weave …” tweeted another.

Outside of President Trump’s chosen personal attorney, a New York-based corporate lawyer, the legal minds affiliated with the Russia probe — even in its infancy — are indeed all part of the same Web or, if you prefer, dwellers in the same swamp, if that’s how you see Washington. The term, mind you, is not a Trump invention. Think of the swamp as the ecosystem it is, inhabited by particular species that thrive on its food-chain, few so cooperatively as politicians and their lawyers.

In such a place, it would be tough to assemble a team of people that hadn’t shared a cubicle once or twice or more, and hadn’t passed one another going through revolving doors and revolving scandals.

A relatively small group of people specialize in this type of work and their names come up, depending on their age, across some the biggest Washington controversies from Watergate on.

Even in the earliest stages of the Russia investigation, as more and more members of the Trump administration and the office of the special counsel, Roberts S. Mueller III, are lawyering up, the pattern is once again repeating itself.

The origin of many of these connections is the investigation of the Watergate break in, 45 years ago this coming weekend.

Even Cullen, fresh out of college in the 1970s, was involved from the sidelines. He served on the campaign staff for Republican Rep. M. Caldwell Butler of Virginia, a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

“And lo and behold, there’s the impeachment,” Cullen recalled in a 2007 profile in Richmond Law magazine.

As a swing vote, Butler played a crucial role in impeachment hearings, and Cullen often fielded questions from reporters covering it. Years later, he served as special counsel to then U.S. Sen. Paul Trible (R-Va.) in the Iran-contra investigations.

As the Richmond Law magazine profile stated it, “Cullen has frequently crossed paths with the powerful, the famous and the infamous.”

Comey and Cullen worked together at law firm McGuireWoods between 1993 and 1996. And although they did not overlap, both served in the U.S. attorney’s Office in Richmond.

Cullen has often been quoted speaking highly of Comey in the press. When Comey was named FBI Director in 2013, Cullen told the Richmond Times Dispatch that his former colleague would “be a great director. There are many people in Richmond who remember him and his family fondly and are very pleased that the president has chosen him for such a vitally important position.”

But two years later, Cullen and Comey’s ties became news. Cullen was hired to represent FIFA chief Sepp Blatter in the corruption investigation into soccer’s governing body, a probe led by his “close associate” — then FBI director Comey. (Russian president Vladimir Putin vocally supported the FIFA chief amid the scandal).

Comey’s personal friendship with Cullen isn’t the only one mentioned.

Soon after Mueller was appointed special counsel, questions were raised about his close relationship with Comey during their time together working for the Department of Justice, Mueller as FBI director and Comey as deputy attorney general, where together they intervened to block President George W. Bush’s domestic surveillance program.

Some Republicans have insisted that their friendship constitutes a conflict of interest, as Comey’s status as a likely star witness in Mueller’s probe becomes more clear. Some Trump supporters are using that, and the fact that some of Mueller’s hires have been Democratic contributors, in an effort to justify the firing of Mueller by Trump, a possibility considered by Trump, according to his friend Christopher Ruddy.

[Christopher Ruddy, the Trump whisperer: ‘I’m honest with him’]

On Thursday, Trump tweeted: “You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history — led by some very bad and conflicted people!”

Beyond his friendship with Comey, Mueller’s appointment drew skepticism from some when it was reported that the law firm he left for the special prosecutor role, WilmerHale, was representing other key players in the investigation: former Trump aide Paul Manafort and the president’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

The Department of Justice ultimately ruled that Mueller’s past connection to WilmerHale would not impede his judgment since he was not connected to the other three clients. Mueller resigned and took with him three others from the firm to join his “dream team” of lawyers for the probe.

Manafort, whose dealings with a Russia-aligned Ukrainian political party are at the center of the probe, is being represented by WilmerHale partner Reginald Brown. Brown worked in the Bush White House and runs the firm’s financial institutions group and congressional investigations practice.

Brown’s WilmerHale partner, Jamie Gorelick, a staunch liberal who served as deputy attorney general during the Clinton years and was a favorite for attorney general had Hillary Clinton won the presidency, is being lambasted by a few as a turncoat for taking on as clients Ivanka Trump and Kushner.

[When a liberal power lawyer represents the Trump family, things can get ugly]

She told Politico she was still recovering from the loss of the Clinton campaign, which she worked on, when she was approached about working for the Trumps.

Like Cullen, she has ties to Watergate. Her first case as a lawyer was helping represent former president Nixon before the Supreme Court protecting his papers.

As a member of the commission tasked with investigating the 9/11 attacks, Gorelick frequently met with then-FBI Director Mueller, according to a 2004 article in the Chicago Tribune, which reported the FBI was “intensely lobbying commission members in an effort to convince them it’s up to the task of protecting the nation.”

“I’ve had lunch with him, I’m sure everybody has had lunch with him,” Jamie Gorelick said of Mueller at the time, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The only lawyer who seems to have few, if any, ties to the Washington establishment is Kasowitz, who has long defended the business mogul but brings to the table little experience in matters of criminal justice.

It’s a disconnect that bids an oh-so-DC question — does an outsider thrive in the swamp or drown in it?

[Category: National, Politics, newsletter-hero]

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[l] at 6/16/17 4:32am

This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows Gal Gadot in a scene from “Wonder Woman,” in theaters on June 2. (Clay Enos/Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP)

For years, young boys and girls alike left thrilling action movies and began mimicking their heroes.

A Superman fan might wrap a bright red sheet around his neck to use as a cape. An Ironman fan might grow a goatee. But with a lack of female superheroes, girls and young women often had to mimic male characters.

Much ink has been spilled in the wake of “Wonder Woman’s” success, some pointing out the movie’s deep undercurrents (or perhaps simply currents) of feminism, others wondering what this means for female directors.

But what is often missed is the simple experience many young women now have that they never did before: seeing the movie, then immediately imitating the character.

In this regard, one scene seemed to stand out. Diana Prince (i.e. Wonder Woman) goes undercover at a German party, wearing an evening gown, but she needs to stealthily carry her trusted sword. So she slides it down the back of her dress, along her spine, until just the sword’s hilt peeks out, obscured by her neck and shoulders.

Please let the Wonder Woman sword/dress style stick. Imagine: girls in dresses asking each other which blacksmith forged their accessories. pic.twitter.com/ViCNGeObkg

— Mikki Kells (@MikkiKells) June 16, 2017

Many fans, naturally, left the theater wondering if such a thing was possible. So they grabbed their dresses and their swords and began trying.

Turns out, it is possible — and many fans posted photos to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #wwgotyourback to prove it. It’s now morphed into a spreading Internet challenge.

It’s unclear if the swords being used are real or merely plastic toys. The types of dresses and apparent make of the swords varied widely.

One fan, for example, slid what appears to be a sheath down the back of what appears to be a wedding dress. “#WonderWoman showing us how to be a pretty princess and a force to be reckoned with,” she captioned the post.

#wonderwoman showing us how to be a pretty princess and a force to be reckoned with. #WWgotyourback challenge: accepted!

A post shared by Hayley Kohler (@hayleykohler) on Jun 13, 2017 at 2:05pm PDT

Another tested it out in a black dress with what appeared to be a katana, a traditional Japanese sword. Verdict: “It works.”

Guys, I tried it. It works " class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" />" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" /> #wonderwoman is definitely one of my favorite movies ever. #wwgotyourback #godkillerchallenge #godkiller #katana #sword #blade #galgadotismyqueen #galgadotiloveyou #cosplayer #italincosplayer #cosplay

A post shared by Arya Riverfall (@aryariverfall) on Jun 15, 2017 at 2:08pm PDT

One woman decided to test the full range of motion, pulling the sword out in a video to see if it could be done.

#GodKiller. I have never felt like such a freaking #BAMF #theswordtrickworks #wonderwoman #princessdianaofthemyscira #yesyesidid #dresssword #godkillerchallenge #wwgotyourback

A post shared by Ali (@stjoan) on Jun 10, 2017 at 6:18pm PDT

Some swords seemed to be a bit long.

Had to try the #wwgotyourback challenge! I could fit the Katana down the back of my dress but it was too long for me to draw back out! It's a fairly dull sword so I wasn't going to hurt myself with it, but was worried that it might damage my dress, probably the last thing you'd worry about in combat! #wonderwoman #daughterofthemyscira #katana #katanasword #fightlikeagirl #winlikeawoman #dianaprince #galgadot #godkillersword #godkiller #dccomics

A post shared by Brooke (@lilloudgal) on Jun 12, 2017 at 3:12pm PDT

And some sword handlers also seemed a little short.

#WWgotyourback #WonderWoman #HeroicGirls @heroic_girls_ @wonderwomanfilm @gal_gadot #StrongFemaleMovie @dccomics #bestcomicbookmovieever @reallyndacarter #MeredithAnn #GwenyGoose #June2017 #California #theEarth #protecthumankind

A post shared by Meredith Mattimoe (@mairzy_doatsy) on Jun 10, 2017 at 5:45pm PDT

#wwgotyourback #nailedit #wonderwoman #futureisfemale

A post shared by @aaquino22 on Jun 15, 2017 at 5:32pm PDT

The trend has been met with generally positive reactions, most seeing it as an extension of the film’s feminist messages of inclusion and feminine strength.

“The hashtag #WWGotYourBack continues to feed Wonder Woman‘s message of unity and strength with its double meaning of the literal image of women’s backs and the notion that these women are there to support others,” wrote Entertainment Weekly’s Maureen Lee Lenker.

“This look is elegant and dangerous, which is pretty much the ultimate display of girl power,” wrote BuzzFeed’s Delaney Strunk, referring to the hashtag as “probably the best new Instagram trend.”

Beth Elderkin of i09, meanwhile, had a different take, which she shared in a piece titled, “Ladies, I Know We’re All Wonder Woman, But Don’t Put Swords Down Your Dresses.”

“It’s stupid and dangerous,” Elderkin wrote.

She pointed out that in the scene everyone’s emulating, “Wonder Woman was wearing her battle gear underneath her dress. You see her rip off the dress when she heads to the village, fully dressed underneath. She had a thick leather buffer zone between her skin and the ice-cold blade of death. ”

“At the very least, you’re probably going to wreck your outfit,” Elderkin concluded. “In the worst circumstance, you will have fled this mortal coil for no other reason than thinking it’s cool to ram a sword down your skirt.”

Her warning, however, doesn’t seemed to have stopped many people yet.

#WWgotyourback surprisingly comfortable! pic.twitter.com/NtKBLh9fke

— Mary Ann Moss (@Kirachan3) June 13, 2017

It. Works. Probably not with a fully sharpened sword, though! #wwgotyourback #godkillerchallenge #wonderwoman #sword

A post shared by Nicole Williams (@nwilliams316) on Jun 10, 2017 at 8:31am PDT

#WWGotYourBack #ladyferal

A post shared by Alana McLaughlin (@lady_feral) on Jun 11, 2017 at 10:46am PDT

The veil of time.. #wonderwoman #WWgotyourback #sword #svärd #sverige #sweden #artistry_sweden #ig_myshot #vzcomood #igpic #myshot #fight #woman #power #womanpower #heart_imprint #shotoftheday #thingsyoudowhenthekidsaregone #varannanvecka #instalove #vsco #canon

A post shared by Stina Holmerin (@grandammen) on Jun 12, 2017 at 1:06pm PDT

Finally got around to trying the #wwgotyourback challenge. I only have single edged swords, so it wasn't quite the same. But still doable! #wonderwoman

A post shared by Renna Mira (@rennacosplay) on Jun 11, 2017 at 12:03pm PDT

When I saw the #WWGotYourBack trend, I had to give it a shot. Then I realised I don't have any tight dresses and my sword collection consists of katanas (curved) and Claymores (minimum 5'3") ..because I'm clearly over compensating. So this was the best I could do.

A post shared by Ashayla Webster (@ashaylawebster) on Jun 10, 2017 at 5:57pm PDT

I was challenged to a thing, and lo, HERE IS THAT THING as soon as I got off the plane, as promised. #WWgotyourback got me out here ready to fight ANY DAMN TIME YOU PLEASE. #amazonian #warriorgoddess #fightlikeagirl #backmuscles #broadsword #bks #baltimoreknifeandsword

A post shared by Coral Rose (@lingua.danca) on Jun 9, 2017 at 10:03pm PDT

Curiosity got the better of me, so I had to try #wwgotyourback with the only formal dress that currently fits my post pregnancy body and the only sword I currently own (Sweet Pea's from Sucker Punch.) I'd say Wonder Woman's way of wearing it works pretty well! Would be better with a shorter sword since this one hits the back of my knees and a low profile sheath would be nice because I'd totally cut my dress if I tried to pull this out quickly as is…but still, I'd say it's workable! . . . #wonderwoman #dccomics #ww #wonderwomanfilm #strongissexy #galgadot #amazon #girlpower #girlswithmuscles #cosplay #dcmovies #strong #postpartumbody #postpregnancybody

A post shared by Vivian Kyle (@viviankyle) on Jun 8, 2017 at 10:20am PDT

Thanks to Eva Wei for starting this test. It can be done, and isn't uncomfortable. The sword I was wearing is real, and wasn't difficult to draw. It would have stayed in place easier if it had a hilt in the style of the god killer. Now where do I find a sword of Athena? @gal_gadot #wonderwoman #WWgotyourback #dress #sword #woman #warrior #bonuscat #catsofinstagram #movies #dianaprince #amazon #wonderwomanwhenigrowup

A post shared by Angie Bare (@thesilvergirl_) on Jun 8, 2017 at 8:44am PDT

Couldn't resist doing the #wwgotyourback though I have to admit this probably would have been easier with a shorter sword.

A post shared by Kayla (@kaylasansgravity) on Jun 9, 2017 at 10:08am PDT

[Category: Entertainment, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/16/17 4:27am

Heavily armed civilians with a group known as the Oath Keepers arrive in Ferguson, Mo., early Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015.  (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

On the surface, the white supremacists of the burgeoning alt-right movement seem to have a lot in common with the Oath Keepers, the anti-government paramilitary group made up of former military and law enforcement people from around the country.

They share a deep contempt for the federal government. They loathe political correctness in all its forms. They relish a good fight with left-wing activists. And, generally speaking, they support President Trump.

But a confrontation at a recent rally in Houston showed just how far the alt-right’s standard-bearers have drifted from the older, somewhat less radical Oath Keepers.

On Saturday, hundreds of protesters supporting the group This Is Texas, a purported Oath Keepers affiliate, gathered at a park in Houston after reports circulated that a statue of slaveholder and former Texas governor Sam Houston was going to be removed. The reports turned out to be a fabrication, as the Houston Chronicle reported, but a large crowd of demonstrators turned out, many of them wearing camouflage and carrying guns.

A smaller contingent of white supremacists also attended, among them followers of the popular neo-Nazi hate site the Daily Stormer and the National Vanguard, a neo-Nazi splinter organization dedicated to racial cleansing.

At some point, the two sides started arguing, with attendees from This Is Texas denouncing the white supremacists’ message. The tension erupted when a when young white supremacist — the Daily Stormer called him “one of ours” — was briefly put in a chokehold by an armed protester, then forced away from the demonstration by one of the organizers, David Amad. Someone filmed the incident and posted the footage to YouTube.

“Racists are not welcome amongst us, because racism is just plain stupid,” Amad said in the video. “And if you don’t like that, I don’t give a damn.”

The scuffle drew a flurry of attacks this week from the Daily Stormer and the white nationalist Altright.com, which blamed Oath Keepers for the incident and found the sites’ writers angrily confronting the possibility that the militia group is not as racist or radical as they are.

Vicious, Freedom-Hating, Anti-Constitution Oath Keepers Might as Well be the Feds,” read one headline. “Oathkeepers turn against the alt right,” read another. The sites ridiculed the militia group as “geriatrics,” “normies” and “cucks,” using an insult popular on the alt-right for conservatives who aren’t right-wing enough.

The Daily Stormer referred to the group as “Boomer Antifa,” a riff on the Oath Keepers’ perceived age group and the black clad anti-fascist protesters that have clashed with conservative activists at numerous political rallies this year.

(As “antifa” refers to an anti-fascist movement on the extreme left, hurling this term at an ultraconservative is designed to be the ultimate insult.)

“They are obsessed with not being perceived as ‘racists,’ due to their boomer brain programming, which leads them to believe that a racist is the most evil of all things,” wrote Daily Stormer editor Andrew Anglin. “In fact, I’m not even sure what their goal is exactly.”

In Facebook posts this week, the Oath Keepers denied that the militia member who roughhoused the white supremacist protester was one of its own. The group said it couldn’t confirm whether members of its Texas chapter had participated in the rally.

“Clearly some in the white nationalist movement will do anything they can to attribute every such incident to us, whether we were involved or not, because we are civic nationalist rather than white nationalists,” wrote Oath Keepers president Stewart Rhodes.

Oath Keepers was founded by Rhodes, an Army veteran, in 2009 and claims to have some 35,000 members nationwide. Its stated goal is to defend the Constitution at all costs.

The group’s members have become fixtures at political rallies and protests, where they show up wearing military gear and carrying assault weapons, for the self-proclaimed purpose of protecting controversial speakers and demonstrators from counterprotesters.

They drew widespread criticism for patrolling the streets of Ferguson, Mo., with semiautomatic rifles during the 2014 protests and riots over the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. A handful of Oath Keepers were present during the armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge in January 2016, and the group’s leaders urged members to patrol polling places on Election Day in 2016.

More recently, members have appeared as self-appointed “security” at conservative-led protests in Oregon, California and elsewhere, ostensibly to defend attendees against antifa activists who turned out in opposition.

Advocacy groups including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have dubbed the Oath Keepers and extremist “patriot” group, saying they have shown violent, racist and conspiratorial tendencies. Daily Stormer has been dubbed a dangerous hate site and a “malignant presence” by the same organizations.

The Daily Stormer’s posts over the incident in Houston gave way to full-throated invectives against Oath Keepers this week. Put simply, the group simply isn’t extreme enough for the alt-right’s leading white supremacists.

“An anti-government militia that the ADL and SPLC say are planning to overthrow the government sounds pretty cool huh? Well, that’s sadly not what they actually are,” Anglin, the editor, wrote.

“It seems they’re not keeping an oath to the Constitution, but rather an oath to John Lennon’s ‘Imagine,'” he added. “But as long as they’re out there, be weary [sic]. With what happened in Houston, they’ve made it clear that they are hostile and violent towards us, meaning they are our enemies.”

A Daily Stormer author who attended the Houston demonstration wrote Tuesday: “We have a worldview. These people have stale, meaningless talking points and vague principles that they don’t even live up to if someone crosses a line they don’t agree with.”

The Oath Keepers have been accused of racism for their use of Confederate imagery at rallies and for their tendency to side with law enforcement in dust-ups with Black Lives Matter activists.

Rhodes, the founder and president, seems concerned about being associated with white supremacist movements, and he has spoken out against racism as the alt-right has gained traction in recent months.

“Frankly, I dislike the neo-Nazis more than Anti-fa, since they try to worm their way in and by doing so, they harm the cause of liberty far more than the radical leftists could ever do,” he wrote in April following a protest in Berkeley that was attended by Oath Keepers. “I made it very clear that this is about CIVIC nationalism, and not white nationalism, and the white nationalists want to destroy all my family fought to preserve, and are as deadly to this Republic as any communist.”

“We’re not white nationalists. We’re not racists of any kind,” he told SPLC recently. “And if they show up [at our rally], I am going to personally, physically remove them. Because they are trying to co-opt what we’re trying to do.”

[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/16/17 3:47am

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. (AP/Alex Brandon)

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein generated a lot of buzz but little clarity Thursday night with a statement urging Americans to “exercise caution” when evaluating stories attributed to anonymous officials.

Why Rosenstein would suddenly make that comment, or any comment, after having made no comment to story after story attributed to anonymous sources, remained a mystery.

The full statement read:

Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country – let alone the branch of agency of government – with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself, Rosenstein is the Justice Department official directly responsible for matters relating to the investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election of 2016, including any possible role played by people associated with Donald Trump’s campaign.

The statement followed several stories in the past few days in The Washington Post and New York Times quoting unnamed sources on the direction of the probe, now in the hands of special counsel Robert Mueller III.

The most explosive was a June 14 report in The Post that Mueller’s probe “now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice.” On June 15, before Rosenstein’s statement, The Post reported that Mueller is also investigating the “finances and business dealings of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser.”

In response to the stories, Trump, in tweets, expressed frustration, saying he is the target of “the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history …”

Rosenstein’s statement started a whole new round of speculation as people attempted to divine its meaning and its timing and its purpose, whether or not it was meant to discredit some particular story, all stories generally or some future story yet to be published.

“The Rosenstein statement suggests there must be a heck of a Trump story coming based on alleged information from anonymous foreign officials,” tweeted conservative commentator Bill Kristol.

The Rosenstein statement suggests there must be a heck of a Trump story coming based on alleged information from anonymous foreign officials

— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) June 16, 2017

Some wondered, without any evidence, whether the statement was the result of pressure from the White House. Others dismissed that possibility.

“I would put that Rosenstein statement more in the ‘giving Trump enough rope’ bucket than in the ‘succumbing to pressure’ bucket,” tweeted Matt Yglesias of Vox.

Where is Rod Rosenstein's overdue statement responding to the President's repeated attacks on his appointment of Robert Mueller? pic.twitter.com/y7dwtWTQ4G

— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) June 16, 2017

 

 

[Category: National, Politics, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/16/17 2:06am

Jay Z made history Thursday by becoming the first hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The man who helped present the award was another trailblazer, the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama. The two have much in common, as Obama mentioned in his speech.

Perhaps the most immediate thing they have in common, though, was that neither man was actually at the event. Obama gave his speech in a prerecorded video, and Jay Z tweeted about it later. E! reported the rapper was not able to attend the awards gala in New York City.

In the video, Obama named and congratulated all the inductees before turning to Jay Z (given name Shawn Carter), whom he called “a true American original.”

“I like to think Mr. Carter and I understand each other,” Obama said. “Nobody who met us when we were younger men would have expected us to be where we are today.”

The former president continued, highlighting some of the personal difficulties both men faced and, in their own ways, overcame.

“We know what it’s like not to have a father around,” he said. “We know what it’s like not to come from much, and to know people who didn’t get the same breaks that we did. So we try to prop open the door of opportunity so that it’s a little easier for those who come up behind us to succeed as well.”

Obama inducts JAY Z into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. pic.twitter.com/cgW0yzenDW

— Karen Civil (@KarenCivil) June 16, 2017

Obama sprinkled in a bit of his signature wit as well, saying, “Jay and I are also fools for our daughters, although he’s going to have me beat once those two twins show up,” referring to twins Jay Z and his wife Beyoncé have on the way (or have already had, if you believe the Internet rumors).

Speaking of Beyoncé, Obama tossed in a knowing reference to her and Michelle Obama, saying, “Let’s face it. We both have wives who are significantly more popular than we are.”

[For artists of color, President Obama leaves a musical legacy too]

It isn’t particularly surprising to see the former president speaking about the rapper. The two share a long and abiding respect for each other, perhaps even friendship.

“I’m pretty sure I’m still the only president to listen to Jay Z’s music in the Oval Office,” Obama said. “That may change at some point, but I’m pretty sure that’s true now.”

As he mentioned in his speech, “I sampled his lyrics to close my speech at Selma.”

It’s true. On the 50th anniversary of Alabama state troopers attacking nonviolent, mostly black protesters marching from Selma to Montgomery to fight for voting rights, Obama said, “We honored those who walked so we could run. We must run so our children soar.”

This was a paraphrase of Jay Z’s verse on the remix of Young Jeezy’s “My President,” in which Jay Z raps, “Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther could walk/Martin Luther walked so Barack Obama could run/Barack Obama ran so all the children could fly.”

Furthermore, Obama said, “I tweeted a reference to ‘My First Song’ as I was putting the finishing touches on my final State of the Union address.”

The song’s hook goes:

It’s my life, it’s my pain and my struggle
The songs that I sing to you is my everything
Treat my first like my last, and my last like my first
And my thirst is the same as when I came
It’s my joy and my tears
And the laughter it brings to me, it’s my everything

Obama has previously mentioned the song in an interview, saying he listened to it on the campaign trail because it “kinda keeps me steady. It’s a great song. It reminds you that you always have to stay hungry.”

Obama said he got to know the Carters during the first few years of his presidency, adding, “They’re good people. Beyoncé could not be sweeter to Michelle and the girls. So they’re good friends. We talk about the same things I talk about with all my friends.”

Beyoncé, in fact, sang — well, lip-synced — the “Star Spangled Banner” at Obama’s second inauguration.

Jay Z even once said of the former president, “I’ve spoken to him on the phone and had texts from Obama, of course.” He’s rapped about it too, saying in “On to the Next One” that he has “Obama on the text.”

In fact, Jay Z and Beyoncé visited the White House several times during the Obama administration. And, according to Obama, the rapper still serves as an inspiration.

“Jay, you have been inspiring, making me want to be active in my retirement just you have been in yours,” he said, before closing with a quote from Jay Z himself: “’I never looked at myself and said that I need to be a certain way to be around a certain sort of people. I’ve always wanted to stay true to myself, and I’ve managed to do that, people have to accept that.’”

 

[Category: Entertainment, Politics, newsletter]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/16/17 2:06am

Jay Z made history Thursday by becoming the first hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The man who helped present the award was another trailblazer, the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama. The two have much in common, as Obama mentioned in his speech.

Perhaps the most immediate thing they have in common, though, was that neither man was actually at the event. Obama gave his speech in a prerecorded video, and Jay Z tweeted about it later. E! reported the rapper was not able to attend the awards gala in New York City.

In the video, Obama named and congratulated all the inductees before turning to Jay Z (given name Shawn Carter), whom he called “a true America original.”

“I like to think Mr. Carter and I understand each other,” Obama said. “Nobody who met us when we were younger men would have expected us to be where we are today.”

The former president continued, highlighting some of the personal difficulties both men faced and, in their own ways, overcame.

“We know what it’s like not to have a father around,” he said. “We know what it’s like not to come from much, and to know people who didn’t get the same breaks that we did. So we try to prop open the door of opportunity so that it’s a little easier for those who come up behind us to succeed as well.”

Obama inducts JAY Z into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. pic.twitter.com/cgW0yzenDW

— Karen Civil (@KarenCivil) June 16, 2017

Obama sprinkled in a bit of his signature wit as well, saying, “Jay and I are also fools for our daughters, although he’s going to have me beat once those two twins show up,” referring to twins Jay Z and his wife Beyoncé have on the way (or have already had, if you believe the Internet rumors).

Speaking of Beyoncé, Obama tossed in a knowing reference to her and Michelle Obama, saying, “Let’s face it. We both have wives who are significantly more popular than we are.”

[For artists of color, President Obama leaves a musical legacy too]

It isn’t particularly surprising to see the former president speaking about the rapper. The two share a long and abiding respect for each other, perhaps even friendship.

“I’m pretty sure I’m still the only president to listen to Jay Z’s music in the Oval Office,” Obama said. “That may change at some point, but I’m pretty sure that’s true now.”

As he mentioned in his speech, “I sampled his lyrics to close my speech at Selma.”

It’s true. On the 50th anniversary of Alabama state troopers attacking nonviolent, mostly black protesters marching from Selma to Montgomery to fight for voting rights, Obama said, “We honored those who walked so we could run. We must run so our children soar.”

This was a paraphrase of Jay Z’s verse on the remix of Young Jeezy’s “My President,” in which Jay Z raps, “Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther could walk/Martin Luther walked so Barack Obama could run/Barack Obama ran so all the children could fly.”

Furthermore, Obama said, “I tweeted a reference to ‘My First Song’ as I was putting the finishing touches on my final State of the Union address.”

The song’s hook goes:

It’s my life, it’s my pain and my struggle
The songs that I sing to you is my everything
Treat my first like my last, and my last like my first
And my thirst is the same as when I came
It’s my joy and my tears
And the laughter it brings to me, it’s my everything

Obama has previously mentioned the song in an interview, saying he listened to it on the campaign trail because it “kinda keeps me steady. It’s a great song. It reminds you that you always have to stay hungry.”

Obama said he got to know the Carters during the first few years of his presidency, adding, “They’re good people. Beyoncé could not be sweeter to Michelle and the girls. So they’re good friends. We talk about the same things I talk about with all my friends.”

Beyoncé, in fact, sang — well, lip-synced — the “Star Spangled Banner” at President Obama’s second inauguration.

Jay Z even once said of the former president, “I’ve spoken to him on the phone and had texts from Obama, of course.” He’s rapped about it too, saying in “On to the Next One” that he has “Obama on the text.”

In fact, Jay Z and Beyoncé visited the White House several times during the Obama administration. And, according to Obama, the rapper still serves as an inspiration.

“Jay, you have been inspiring, making me want to be active in my retirement just you have been in yours,” he said, before closing with a quote from Jay Z himself: “’I never looked at myself and said that I need to be a certain way to be around a certain sort of people. I’ve always wanted to stay true to myself, and I’ve managed to do that, people have to accept that.’”

 

[Category: Entertainment, Politics, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/15/17 8:39pm

Two escaped inmates Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell Rowe are seen in these Georgia Department of Corrections photos released after their escape from Putnam County, southeast of Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. on June 13, 2017. (Georgia Corrections via Reuters)

The two inmates who authorities say escaped a Georgia corrections bus after killing two guards were captured Thursday night in Tennessee after a three-day manhunt.

Police in Shelbyville, Tenn. received information that the fugitives, Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell Rowe, were involved in the home invasion of an elderly couple nearby, Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) spokeswoman Nelly Miles told The Washington Post. The two men held the elderly couple captive, stole their vehicle and fled the area.

Police began chasing the two men, closing in on them after their vehicle crashed. Authorities took Dubose and Rowe into custody in Christiana, Tenn.

The capture “happened the way we thought it would,” GBI Director Vernan Keenan told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They would do a crime and it would escalate.” Keenan added that shots were fired but no one was wounded.

Dubose and Rowe were being transported on a corrections bus in Putnam County, Ga., early Tuesday when authorities say they overpowered the drivers and killed them, prompting a manhunt that lasted days and put the region on edge. A reward for information about the two fugitives rose to at least $130,000.

 

[Category: National]

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[l] at 6/15/17 8:42am

Trapeze artist Erendira Wallenda performs as she hangs from a helicopter flying over the Niagara Falls, in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada  on June 15. (Reuters)

Six years ago, world-famous daredevil Nik Wallenda dangled from a trapeze attached to a helicopter hovering 250 feet above a Missouri theme park.

He wowed onlookers with the precarious stunt by hanging from the trapeze with the grip of his toes. Then he resurrected one of his grandmother’s old tricks, the “iron-jaw hang,” by dangling this time from just his teeth.

The stunt set an iron-jaw hang Guinness World Record for height.

At 8:30 a.m. Thursday, his aerialist wife with her own rich circus lineage stole his title — from 300 feet above the raging waters of Niagara Falls.

Erendira Wallenda was just high enough to avoid the mist and pesky wind currents that come with the fall as she performed an elegant acrobatic routine, weaving in and out of a hula hoop during a routine choreographed to music. She dangled from her knees, her hands, her toes and, just like Nik did in 2011, only her teeth.

“If a guy can do it, a girl can do it, too,” she said after the stunt.

Her husband, Nik Wallenda, has called her a “ballerina in the air.”

[‘The show must go on’: Five acrobats of famed Wallenda troupe injured falling 25 feet during pyramid stunt]

The aerialist wore a cable tether around her waist, in accordance with a New York state law that requires a safety support for aerial stunts above 20 feet, but it didn’t aid her performance. It was only there to catch her if she fell — which she never did.

It all happened on the five-year anniversary of one of Nik Wallenda’s most impressive stunts: his televised tightrope walk across Niagara Falls.

“I remember watching Nikolas as he was crossing the falls and thinking, ‘Boy, I wonder what that would feel like, I wonder what that would look like,’ never thinking that five years later I was going to get the same opportunity,” Erendira Wallenda said at a news conference the day before. “I just feel blessed.”

Husband and wife come from world-famous circus and daredevil families.

Nik Wallenda helped revive his family’s 200-year-old legacy by performing death-defying stunts on live television, such as walking on a tightrope across Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon.

The signature stunt of the Flying Wallendas, as their troupe came to be known in the 1940s, was the seven-person chair pyramid — an act that went fatally wrong in 1962. The stunt involves four acrobats on the tightrope holding two more acrobats above them. A third performer, usually sitting on a chair and at his teammates’ mercy, teeters at the top. During a performance at the Detroit State Fair, the Wallenda pyramid toppled, sending two troupe members to their deaths and leaving a third paralyzed.

Other Wallendas, including Nik Wallenda’s great-grandfather, have fallen to their deaths while performing.

Erendira, a lifetime aerialist, is the product of eight generations of circus performers on her mother’s side and seven generations on her father’s side. Her mother’s family runs the third largest circus in Australia and her father’s family is part of a circus in Mexico City that now travels the United States.

“It’s hard to marry somebody who doesn’t walk a wire,” Nik Wallenda said Wednesday, “who doesn’t risk their life.”

He said the goal was to get through the stunt without slipping, and emphasized that dangling from your teeth is “extremely painful.”

“It hurts really bad,” he said.

Nik Wallenda walks eight stories above the Chicago River during Discovery Channel’s Skyscraper Live with Nik Wallenda in 2014. (Jean-Marc Giboux/AP Images for Discovery Communications)

He first performed the iron-jaw hang five years ago to pay homage to his grandmother and grandfather, both Wallenda family performers who used the stunt in a routine together. His grandfather would ride a bicycle on a tightrope while his grandmother dangled from her teeth below it.

Back then, the only mechanism keeping her in the air was her tight bite on a folded leather belt.

Now, with the help of modern technology, Nik and Erendira rely on the help of their dentist, a close family friend who built mouth guards molded to their bites.

The couple has strong toothpaste — and a “very understanding dentist,” Nik Wallenda said.

“Obviously, my dentist doesn’t want me to do this for the rest of my life,” Erendira added.

The helicopter took off at 8:30 a.m. from the roof of the Seneca Niagara Casino parking garage and returned by 8:50 a.m. Throughout the entire stunt, Nik Wallenda rode on the helicopter, watching her routine for hand and body signals they’ve come to recognize in each other during their 17 years of marriage.

The two share three children, all of whom are adept in the air but have shown limited interest in carrying on the family business.

It was as children watching their parents perform that Nik and Erendira met. He was 3 years old and she was 3 months. Their friendship evolved into romance as teenagers. When Erendira turned 18, they married.

“I really did marry my best friend,” she said at the news conference. “And not too many people can say they married someone with the same passions that they have.”

They spoke of their fascination with Niagara Falls and their long-held hope that one day, the family will find a way to build a permanent performance center on site.

“It’s an incredible force of Mother Nature,” Nik Wallenda said. “I don’t think people realize the magnitude of Niagara Falls around the world.”

Niagara County and the city of Niagara Falls each set aside $35,000 to help fund the stunt, and the Seneca Gaming Corp., the event’s lead sponsor, gave $50,000, reported the Buffalo News.

The idea for Erendira’s stunt came as the couple was brainstorming how to commemorate Wallenda’s Niagara Falls tightrope walk in 2012.

“Remember that world record that you set years ago hanging by your teeth under a helicopter about 200 feet above the ground?” Nik Wallenda recalled his wife saying at the time. “Well, why don’t you allow me to do it 300 feet above the falls?”

“I was like, ‘Absolutely,'” Wallenda said he responded. “That’s amazing. That’s awesome.”

But according to a quip he made during the news conference, the unabashed one-upper doesn’t plan to let his wife keep the record for long.

“In five more years,” he joked, “I’m going to hang by one tooth, 800 feet above the falls.”

More from Morning Mix:

Gene Simmons of Kiss tries to trademark the sign language gesture for ‘love’

Did Bob Dylan crib from SparkNotes for his Nobel lecture?

United apologizes after 2015 video shows employee pushing 71-year-old passenger to floor

[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/15/17 5:21am

.@ChrisRuddyNMX with @realDonaldTrump in Oval Office today. @POTUS: 'Many Tell Me Best Speech I Ever Gave' pic.twitter.com/2MfzYwYIvN

— Christopher Ruddy (@ChrisRuddyNMX) March 1, 2017

Nobody in President Trump’s orbit stirs up headlines quite like Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of the right-leaning media outlet Newsmax and his longtime friend.

Since the early days of the administration, Ruddy has fashioned himself into something of an unofficial spokesman for Trump, a freelance translator of sorts with a unique insight into the president’s thought process and the workings of his inner circle. Put differently, he’s a Trump whisperer.

Ruddy has been a ubiquitous presence in Trump’s sphere over the past several months, the “Zelig” of the administration, as the Atlantic’s Rosie Gray wrote. He converses regularly with Trump and White House officials, and says he has given the president advice on everything from health care to Chinese relations to fake news.

On more than one occasion this year he has stirred controversy by inserting himself into conflicts among Trump’s staff.

But what has really put Ruddy on the radar lately are his frequent media appearances, in which he is fond of telling reporters, candidly and on-the-record, what Trump is thinking — or rather, what he thinks Trump is thinking.

That was the case this week, when Ruddy made the explosive assertion on PBS “NewsHour” that Trump was pondering whether to fire Robert S. Mueller III, the former FBI director tapped by the Department of Justice to oversee the probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel,” Ruddy said Monday, adding that he believed the move would be a mistake. “I think he’s weighing that option.”

The remark made waves not only because Ruddy has become one of Trump’s most sought-after and loquacious confidants, but because he had visited the White House just an hour before heading to the PBS interview, leading some to speculate that he was testing the waters for Trump, as The Washington Post reported.

Though no one in the administration specifically disputed Ruddy’s claim, White House press secretary Sean Spicer responded that Ruddy had not met with Trump that day, saying he “speaks for himself.”

As Washington buzzed about whether Trump would indeed give Mueller the ax, Ruddy went on to give more interviews about the possibility of such a move. He also criticized the White House press office’s response, saying “it’s amateur hour over there.”

The dust-up was nothing out of the ordinary these days for Ruddy, who seems to have grown more bold about offering his perspective.

What sets Ruddy apart from other Trump allies is his dual role as a newsman and a close friend of the president. As the head of a prominent conservative news organization with a monthly audience in the millions, his takes on the West Wing carry more weight than they might otherwise. He is quoted almost weekly in The Post, the New York Times and other outlets, and makes regular rounds on cable news.

Ruddy goes out of his way to say he speaks only for himself, even if his remarks come suspiciously soon after a meeting with the president or White House insiders.

“I’m a newsman, so I’m going to give my views,” Ruddy told The Post Wednesday. “I’ve never on a very confidential matter ever gone on a show and quoted the president on it. People sometimes make the false jump that ‘he met with the president, therefore he must be talking on his behalf.’ I’ve never spoken on his behalf.”

But it’s not always easy to tell why, or for whom, Ruddy so readily offers his insights.

“Perhaps Ruddy tries to have it both ways,” CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter wrote Tuesday. “He trades on his access to Trump but emphasizes that ‘I am not speaking for the president.’”

Ruddy, 52, grew up on Long Island, studied history at St. John’s University in New York, and received his master’s in public policy from the London School of Economics. His journalistic career kicked off in the early 1990s, when he made a name for himself covering the Clinton White House for the New York Post. His reporting and subsequent book about the suicide of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster won him star status among conservative commentators.

He founded Newsmax in 1998, catering mostly to right-leaning baby boomers through the outlet’s website and a series of newsletters that quickly gained scores of subscribers, as he told Bloomberg in a 2014 profile. He met Trump shortly after. Both lived part-time in Palm Beach, Fla., and would bump into each other intermittently, Ruddy said. Their friendship grew in the mid-2000s after Ruddy joined Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Over the years, Trump and Ruddy would discuss their views on a range of issues and occasionally bounce ideas off one another. In the run-up to the 2012 election, Ruddy said, Trump expressed his frustration with Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, and said he was mulling a run of his own. Ruddy encouraged him.

“I don’t think he had really figured out what his political approach was going to be,” said Ruddy, who identifies as a Reagan conservative but is not a registered Republican. “I would say, if you run you’ve got to officially announce, and if you do, I’ll donate to your campaign. That was the Rubicon for him, the announcement.”

Since its founding, Ruddy’s Newsmax empire has steadily expanded. By 2014, it ranked as the most trafficked conservative news site on the Internet, topping 11 million visitors per month, as Bloomberg reported at the time. That year, Newsmax opened a new headquarters in Boca Raton, right down the road from Trump. Ruddy, then on the verge of launching NewsmaxTV, told Bloomberg that he was making a play to upend the conservative media landscape by shaving off Fox News viewers.

By 2017, Breitbart News had surpassed Newsmax as the Web’s leading conservative site, with more than 17 million visitors in January to Newsmax’s 7 million, as The Post reported. On top of that, it was Stephen K. Bannon, a former Breitbart chairman, and other Breitbart staffers who won seats in Trump’s White House, not Ruddy.

But Ruddy and Newsmax’s loyalty to Trump seem to have paid off in different ways. Ruddy said he has maintained an open line with the president since day-one.

“He’ll reach out to me and I’ll reach out to him,” Ruddy said. “I’ve been doing Newsmax for years, and the president used us as one of his platforms to reach his base. I’m not interested in looking for a job from the president and I’m not looking for financial gain from the president.”

Republican operative and Trump ally Roger Stone echoed those remarks in the Atlantic earlier this year.

“Newsmax is one of the earliest promoters of Trump,” he said. “They were in fact promoting Trump for president in 2012. Ruddy has always been a Trump promoter when others were not yet taking his candidacy seriously or his potential candidacy seriously.”

The squabble over the possible termination of the special counsel was not the first time Ruddy’s comments to the media have caused rumblings in Trump’s White House.

In February, Ruddy set off a media storm when he told reporters at Mar-a-Lago that Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, was “in way over his head.” He made the statements shortly after meeting with Trump for drinks, prompting questions about whether Trump was threatening Priebus through Ruddy. But Ruddy said later that he was only giving his opinion. A meeting with Trump, Ruddy and Priebus followed, and they appeared to smooth things over.

Another major reveal came in March, shortly after Trump baselessly accused President Barack Obama of wiretapping him. That weekend, Ruddy spoke with Trump twice and wrote about the conversation in a column for Newsmax. He wrote:

I haven’t seen him this pissed off in a long time. When I mentioned Obama “denials” about the wiretaps, he shot back: “This will be investigated, it will all come out. I will be proven right.”

Trump has not publicly bristled at any of Ruddy’s commentary, even if it causes trouble for those around him. Ruddy said it may be because he is always forthcoming with the president. If anything, he said, Trump seems to welcome his outspokenness.

“People who know us tell me that they think that because I’m honest with him in my assessments,” Ruddy said. “I think at the end of the day he respects it and values it.”

“We’ve had many frank discussions where we disagreed,” he added, “and it hasn’t changed the nature of our relationship one iota.”

[Category: National, Politics, newsletter-hero]

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[l] at 6/15/17 5:07am

John Lennon and Yoko Ono in November, 1980. (AllanTannenbaum/Photopost/Govinda Gallery)

John Lennon’s 1971 song “Imagine” is considered one of his masterpieces. Rolling Stone once called it his “greatest musical gift to the world.”

It was also undeniably inspired by Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono. Indeed, Lennon drew portions of the lyrics in “Imagine” from Ono’s 1964 poetry book, “Grapefruit.”

And in a 1980 video interview, Lennon said the song “should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song because a lot of it — the lyric and the concept — came from Yoko.”

Soon, more than four decades after the song’s release, 84-year-old Ono is likely to receive the songwriting credit Lennon said was always due her.

On Wednesday, the CEO of the National Music Publishers Association announced that the process is underway to add Ono to the song as a co-writer, Variety reported. David Israelite, the CEO, shared the news at the organization’s annual meeting in New York, where “Imagine” received the “Centennial Song” award.

Ono and her son, Sean Lennon, accepted the award onstage, where Ono proclaimed “this is the best time of my life,” Variety said. Ono — who is currently fighting a flulike sickness and had to be pushed onstage in a wheelchair — said her current illness has made her appreciate the song even more. Patti Smith then performed what many described as a poignant rendition of the song.

Sean Lennon later wrote about the award ceremony on his Instagram, calling it the “proudest day of my life.” “Cut to: my mother welling up in tears,” Sean Lennon wrote. “Patience is a virtue!”

And on Thursday morning, Ono tweeted a portion of an interview recording in which Lennon said “‘Imagine’ was inspired by Yoko’s ‘Grapefruit.’”

“There’s a lot of pieces in it saying imagine this or imagine that,” Lennon said. “I know she helped on a lot of the lyrics but I wasn’t man enough to let her have credit for it. I was still selfish enough and unaware enough to take that contribution without acknowledging it.”

“I was still full of wanting my own space after being in the room with four guys and always having to share everything,” he continued.

The song, he said, “expresses what I learned through being with Yoko and my own feelings on it.”

Proudest day of my life: The National Music Publishers Association just gave the centennial (song of the century) award to Imagine, but WAIT! Surprise! They played an audio interview of my father saying (approximately) ‘Imagine should’ve been credited as a Lennon/Ono song, if it had been anyone other than my wife I would’ve given them credit.’ Cut to: my mother welling up in tears, and then Patti and Jesse Smith played Imagine! Patience is a virtue! ✌️❤✌️❤✌️❤✌️ (PS they officially declared Imagine to be a Lennon/Ono song and gave my mother a second award! )

A post shared by Sean Ono Lennon (@sean_ono_lennon) on Jun 14, 2017 at 4:44pm PDT

Downtown Music Publishing, which manages Ono’s and Lennon’s solo work, tweeted that the award — bestowed to both of its songwriters — was “an incredible honor for us.”

Adding Ono to the credits of “Imagine” is significant in part because it would extend the amount of time the song would be able to reap income for its creators, as Variety pointed out. A song enters the public domain 70 years after the death of its last songwriter. Lennon died after being gunned down in New York on Dec. 8, 1980 by Mark David Chapman.

The decision would also be a highly controversial one among a segment of die-hard Beatles fans, some who still blame Ono for breaking up the band in 1970 by creating tensions and divisions between Lennon and the other band members.

As Delia Lloyd wrote in The Washington Post in 2012, many Beatles fans have formed the impression that “Ono was this new-agey, avant-garde, exotic Japanese freak show who forever spoiled the rough, working class sensibilities of the sometimes-truculent, creative musical genius from the streets of Liverpool.”

“There’s no doubt that after meeting Ono, Lennon moved in a decidedly different creative direction,” she added.

But Paul McCartney tried to dispel that mindset in a 2012 interview with David Frost, announcing that Ono was not responsible for the disbanding.

“She certainly didn’t break the group up, the group was breaking up,” McCartney said. He added that without Ono’s influence, songs such as Imagine would never have been written: “I don’t think he would have done that without Yoko, so I don’t think you can blame her for anything.”

More than Morning Mix

Gene Simmons of KISS tries to trademark the sign language gesture for ‘love’

Did Bob Dylan crib from SparkNotes for his Nobel lecture?

Christopher Ruddy, the Trump whisperer: ‘I’m honest with him’

 

 

[Category: Entertainment, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/15/17 3:43am

Marvin Wright, president of his high school senior class, spent two weeks working on his graduation speech, staying up till 5 a.m. on the morning of the great event to finish.

But later that day, the principal of Southwest Edgecombe High in Pinetops, N.C., told him he would be giving a different address, a five-sentence paragraph prepared by the school administrators. He gave him no explanation.

“I felt robbed of a chance to say my own words,” Marvin, 18, told The Washington Post. His mother, classmates and teachers urged him to give his speech anyway.

When he stepped onto the stage at the end of the commencement ceremony Friday, he opened up a folder under the podium containing the school’s prepared remarks:

I would like to thank all of our friends and family for being here tonight. I would also like to address my fellow graduates one last time before we leave this gym. Although we may all never be in the same room at the same time again, we will always share the memories that we created within these walls. And no matter what we all do after graduation, never forget that this is one place that we all have in common, this place is home. Congratulations graduates, we did it!

But instead of delivering those words, he took out his cellphone and read a copy of his original speech, with his friends in the audience nodding to him in encouragement.

Sitting behind Marvin, the principal, Craig Harris, immediately turned to another staff member, whispering with a look of disapproval, video footage shows.

After the applause and final procession, all of the students lined up to receive their official diplomas. But one folder in the stack was missing: Marvin’s. His senior adviser informed him the principal had removed the diploma because Marvin had read the wrong speech.

“All my friends were outside with their big yellow folders taking pictures and I was still inside, trying to get my diploma,” Marvin said. “I was really hurt and embarrassed, basically humiliated.”

The teenager and his mother, Jokita Wright, accused the school of not only censoring a student’s words, but then retaliating against him by withholding his diploma. The mother complained to the principal, who explained to her that her son had missed a deadline to submit the speech to the school. Marvin says he never knew about it.

Marvin did not receive his diploma for another two days, when the principal dropped it off at his home at the request of the superintendent. The principal handed him the diploma, saying only, “if your mom has any questions just give me a call.” Then he left.

[N.Y. subway breakdown inspires makeshift graduation on the E train]

Edgecombe County Schools Superintendent John Farrelly called Marvin on Monday to apologize for the way the school handled the situation on commencement day.

“I have communicated with the family to apologize on behalf of the school,” Farrelly said in a statement to the Wilson Times. “The diploma never should have been taken from the student.”

Farrelly said he did not have any problems with the content of the teenager’s speech, but was concerned about Marvin’s use of a cellphone and the decision to change course at the last minute.

“There is an expectation that is communicated to all graduation speakers that the prepared and practiced speech is the speech to be delivered during the ceremony,” Farrelly said. “That was made extremely clear to the speakers. The student did not follow those expectations.”

In the fall, when Marvin was elected senior class president, his adviser informed him he would have to write a graduation speech. He says he wasn’t given any guidance, so he sought out tips from the previous year’s senior class president, and listened to numerous commencement speeches online for ideas.

His English teacher told him she approved of the speech. Marvin even left a copy of the remarks on his principal’s desk for review on commencement day.

Still, administrators insisted he should read the address they prepared.

But Marvin gave the speech he wanted to give, recounting memories he shared with his classmates through elementary, middle and high school. Though he stumbled a few times — distracted by the conversations taking place behind him and struggling to read from his phone — Marvin’s speech was welcomed with cheers and laughs from the audience.

[ICE nabs teenager hours before his senior prom, days before his graduation ceremony]

In his approximately five-minute address, he thanked God, the family members of the graduates, the school’s faculty, and his mom — who was watching in the bleachers in tears.

“This is it,” Marvin said. “We have finally made it.”

He talked about playing at recess in elementary school, dealing with the “transition period” of middle school, when “things didn’t work out in our favor.”

Finally, he talked about his senior year.

“Everything seemed different,” he said. “Teachers became mentors, friends became family, and Southwest Edgecombe High became home.”

“I am no expert in this journey we call life, but we all have the ability to make a difference and to be that change the world needs,” Wright continued. “The past 13 years have equipped us for a time as this to stand bold in who we are. So I say to my classmates, cherish these last few minutes we spend here and the memories we have created and get ready for the journey ahead.”

Marvin was his mother’s last child to graduate high school. His relatives drove to watch him speak and receive his diploma. While she’s glad he gave an address in his own words, Jokita Wright wished her son could have left the school that day with the diploma he rightfully earned, she said.

“He can’t get that day back,” his mother said. “That was a special moment for me, it was a special moment for him.”

Luckily, Marvin received the diploma just in time for the day he needed it most. On Monday, he officially committed to entering the U.S. Navy, after which he hopes to study pediatric surgery.

The high school graduate will report for duty on Oct. 10.

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God is continuing to bless me.

Posted by Marvin Wright on Monday, June 12, 2017

[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/15/17 3:12am

Six years ago, world-famous daredevil Nik Wallenda dangled from a trapeze attached to a helicopter hovering 250 feet above a Missouri theme park.

He wowed onlookers with the precarious stunt by hanging from the trapeze with the grip of his toes. Then he resurrected one of his grandmother’s old tricks, the iron-jaw hang, by dangling this time from just his teeth.

The stunt set a iron-jaw hang Guinness World Record for height.

At 8:30 a.m. Thursday, his aerialist wife will attempt to steal that title — from above the raging waters of Niagara Falls.

Erendira Wallenda will try to outdo her husband by hovering 300 feet above the falls, high enough to avoid their mist and pesky wind currents, the couple said during a news conference Wednesday. She plans to perform an acrobatic routine from a hula hoop, then dangle from her toes and teeth, just like Nik did in 2011.

[‘The show must go on’: Five acrobats of famed Wallenda troupe injured falling 25 feet during pyramid stunt]

The aerialist will wear a cable tether around her waist, in accordance with a New York state law that requires a safety support for aerial stunts above 20 feet, but it won’t aid her performance. It’s only there to catch her if she falls.

It will all happen on the five year anniversary of one of Nik Wallenda’s most impressive stunts: his televised tightrope walk across Niagara Falls.

“I remember watching Nikolas as he was crossing the falls and thinking, ‘boy, I wonder what that would feel like, I wonder what that would look like,’ never thinking that five years later I was going to get the same opportunity,” Erendira said at the news conference. “I just feel blessed.”

Husband and wife come from world-famous circus and daredevil families.

Nik Wallenda helped revive his family’s 200-year-old legacy by performing death-defying stunts on live television, such as walking on a tightrope across Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon.

The signature stunt of the Flying Wallendas, as their troupe came to be known in the 1940s, was the seven-person chair pyramid — an act that went fatally wrong in 1962. The stunt involves four acrobats on the tightrope holding two more acrobats above them. A third performer, usually sitting on a chair and at his teammates’ mercy, teeters at the top. During a performance at the Detroit State Fair, the Wallenda pyramid toppled, sending two troupe members to their deaths and leaving a third paralyzed.

Other Wallendas, including Nik Wallenda’s great-grandfather, have fallen to their deaths while performing.

Erendira, a lifetime aerialist, is the product of eight generations of circus on her mother’s side and seven generations on her father’s side. Her mother’s family runs the third largest circus in Australia and her father’s family is part of a circus in Mexico City that now travels the U.S.

“It’s hard to marry somebody who doesn’t walk a wire,” Nik Wallenda said Wednesday, “who doesn’t risk their life.”

Erendira’s acrobatic act will be choreographed to music. She’ll listen through headphones.

Nik Wallenda said the goal is to get through the stunt without slipping, and emphasized that dangling from your teeth is “extremely painful.”

“It hurts really bad,” he said.

Nik Wallenda walks over the Chicago River uphill nearly 8 stories for Discovery Channel’s Skyscraper Live with Nik Wallenda in 2014. (Jean-Marc Giboux/AP Images for Discovery Communications)

He first performed the iron-jaw hang five years ago to pay homage to his grandmother and grandfather, both Wallenda family performers who used the stunt in a routine together. His grandfather would ride a bicycle on a tightrope while his grandmother dangled from her teeth below it.

Back then, the only mechanism keeping her in the air was her tight bite on a folded leather belt.

Now, with the help of modern technology, Nik and Erendira rely on the help of their dentist, a close family friend who built mouth guards molded to their bites.

The couple has strong toothpaste — and a “very understanding dentist,” Nik Wallenda said.

“Obviously, my dentist doesn’t want me to do this for the rest of my life,” Erendira added.

The helicopter will take off at 8:30 a.m. from the roof of the Seneca Niagara Casino parking garage and return by 8:45 a.m. Throughout the entire stunt, Nik Wallenda will ride in the helicopter, watching her routine for hand and body signals they’ve come to recognize in each other during their 17 years of marriage.

The two share three children, all of whom are adept in the air but have shown limited interest in carrying on the family business.

It was as children watching their parents perform that Nik and Erendira met. He was three years old and she was three months. Their friendship evolved into romance as teenagers. When Erendira turned 18, they married.

“I really did marry my best friend,” she said at the news conference. “And not too many people can say they married someone with the same passions that they have.”

They spoke of their fascination with Niagara Falls and their long-held hope that one day, the family will find a way to build a permanent performance center on site.

“It’s an incredible force of mother nature,” Nik Wallenda said. “I don’t people realize the magnitude of Niagara Falls around the world.”

Niagara County and the City of Niagara Falls each set aside $35,000 to help fund the stunt, and the Seneca Gaming Corp., the event’s lead sponsor, gave $50,000, reported the Buffalo News.

The idea for Erendira’s stunt came as the couple was brainstorming how to commemorate Wallenda’s Niagara Falls tightrope walk in 2012.

“Remember that world record that you set years ago hanging by your teeth under a helicopter about 200 feet above the ground?” Nik Wallenda recalled his wife saying at the time. “Well, why don’t you allow me to do it 300 feet above the falls?”

“I was like, ‘Absolutely,'” Wallenda said he responded. “That’s amazing. That’s awesome.”

But according to a quip he made during the news conference, the unabashed one-upper doesn’t plan to let his wife keep the record for long.

“In five more years,” he joked, “I’m going to hang by one tooth, 800 feet above the falls.”

More from Morning Mix

Gene Simmons of KISS tries to trademark the sign language gesture for ‘love’

Did Bob Dylan crib from SparkNotes for his Nobel lecture?

United apologizes after 2015 video shows employee pushing 71-year-old passenger to floor

[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/15/17 2:02am

Gene Simmons appears at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles in 2012 to announce an upcoming tour. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Numerous historians long ago agreed that rock-and-roll emerged from Ike Turner’s “Rocket 88,” but who invented the “rock on” hand gesture so associated with the genre?

That’s the hand signal fans and rockers alike hold up during shows, in which the index and pinkie fingers are extended, the middle and ring finger are curled into the palm, and the thumb either sticks out from the hand like an errant branch from a tree or is also curled into the palm.

The “rock on” or “Devil’s horns” hand gesture, which Gene Simmons wants trademarked. (Courtesy of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)

And Gene Simmons, the co-founder of Kiss, claims he used it first.

Simmons recently filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, seeking to trademark the hand gesture. He claimed on the application that the gesture was first used commercially, by him, on Nov. 14, 1974, which would have been during Kiss’s “Hotter Than Hell” tour.

For his request to be accepted, of course, “an examiner would consider the likelihood of confusion and, possibly, whether it’s too generic to be associated with Simmons,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

While there is documented evidence Simmons liked to rock-and-roll all night and party every day, he may have a bumpy road arguing he was the first to use or popularize the gesture that’s become ubiquitous among fans of loud guitar riffs and pounding drums.

Similar gestures — if not the exact same one — can be found in the world of music predating Kiss touring on its debut, eponymous record in 1974.

Consider, for example, John Lennon’s hand on the cover of the Beatles’s single “Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby,” which was released in 1966 — a full seven years before Kiss was even formed.

I will see your grainy G. Simmons and raise you one J. Lennon on the cover of the Yellow Submarine single 1966. #NoTrademark pic.twitter.com/bV2s6rHyUP

— Chuck Nowlin (@ChuckNowlinWZLX) June 15, 2017

Then in 1969, psychedelic rock band Coven released an EP with not one but two members flashing the sign. This variation, though, does pull the thumb in, which is the more popular version of the gesture in rock music.

Gene Simmons wants to trademark 'devil's horn' gesture. Says first used in 1974… yet Coven released this album in 1969. Hmmmmm… pic.twitter.com/vwqktTQ9p8

— Mitch Lafon (@mitchlafon) June 15, 2017

Many credit the popularization of the hand gesture not to Simmons but to Ronnie James Dio, the heavy metal rocker who in 1979 replaced Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath. As the Florida Times-Union reported:

Ozzy’s big gimmick on stage was flashing double peace signs. It had become such a Black Sabbath ritual that when Dio took over, he felt the band wouldn’t be the same unless he used a symbol as well, a former publicity agent told The Wall Street Journal. But he didn’t want to be an Ozzy copycat.

Setting himself apart from Ozzy, Dio adopted what has become the rock music salute.

A classic and one of the greats with the voice like a god Ronnie james dio #dio #ronniejamesdio #beast #metal #rock #hardrock #shredding #thumpingdrums #classic #classicmetal #holydiver

A post shared by canaan (@ilove2drumline) on Jun 10, 2017 at 8:20pm PDT

The gesture — both with thumb curled in and sticking out — enjoyed a long history before anyone ever plugged in an electric guitar, though.

Fans of the University of Texas at Austin have been using the hand gesture (thumb in), which they call the “Hook Em’ Horns” symbol, to cheer on their beloved Longhorns on the gridiron or court ever since a group of students came up with the symbol in 1955, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

Texas quarterback Chris Simms give the Hook ‘Em Horns sign after beating Louisiana State 35-20 in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 2003. (AP/Tony Gutierrez)

Meanwhile, superstitious Italians have used the gesture for many years to ward off the devil. Dio told Metal Rules online magazine he originally got it from his grandmother.

“I doubt very much if I would be the first one who ever did that. That’s like saying I invented the wheel, I’m sure someone did that at some other point,” Dio said. “It’s an Italian thing I got from my grandmother … It’s to ward off the Evil Eye or to give the Evil Eye, depending on which way you do it.”

It even appeared in this context in Bram Stroker’s 1897 novel “Dracula.”

Indeed, the BBC reported it is a common gesture in Italy, and has a double meaning. One might use it in a vulgar manner, flash it to a man whose wife is rumored to be cheating on him.

Here in the states, meanwhile, the gesture is known for a few reasons outside of music.

The more frivolous one is that Spider-Man makes it when he shoots sticky webs from his wrists.

Tomorrow is the day YOU become Spider-Man! Tag a photo of your Spidey costume on Instagram with #SpideyHalloween.

A post shared by Spider-Man (@spidermanmovie) on Oct 30, 2014 at 2:23pm PDT

More importantly, though, it’s the American Sign Language symbol for “love.”

Edith Rikuris gives the “I love you” sign to fellow residents at Columbus Colony in Westerville, Ohio, in 2009. (Maddie McGarvey/For The Washington Post Magazine)

Simmons sure seems to have a long road ahead of him, but claiming a hand gesture isn’t completely unprecedented. Dallas Page, a professional wrestler known to fans as Diamond Dallas Page, long touched his index fingers and thumbs together to create a diamond as a sort of calling card. He was able to trademark it.

Meanwhile, 3OH!3, a Colorado electronic band, made a similar hand gesture in a photo shoot. Theirs was rounder, though, creating more of a circle than a diamond. Page sued the band in district court, and the parties eventually settled.

More from Morning Mix

Did Bob Dylan crib from SparkNotes for his Nobel lecture?

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As a prosecutor, Kamala Harris’s doggedness was praised. As a senator, she’s deemed ‘hysterical.’

Trump calls mayor of shrinking Chesapeake island and tells him not to worry about it

[Category: Entertainment, newsletter]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/15/17 2:02am

Gene Simmons appears at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles in 2012 to announce an upcoming tour. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Numerous historians long ago agreed that rock-and-roll emerged from Ike Turner’s “Rocket 88,” but who invented the “rock on” hand gesture so associated with the genre?

That’s the hand signal fans and rockers alike hold up during shows, in which the index and pinkie fingers are extended, the middle and ring finger are curled into the palm, and the thumb either sticks out from the hand like an errant branch from a tree or is also curled into the palm.

The “rock on” or “Devil’s horns” hand gesture, which Gene Simmons wants trademarked. (Courtesy U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)

And Gene Simmons, the co-founder of KISS, claims he used it first.

Simmons recently filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, seeking to trademark the hand gesture. He claimed on the application that the gesture was first used commercially, by him, on Nov. 14, 1974, which would have been during KISS’s “Hotter Than Hell” tour.

For his request to be accepted, of course, “an examiner would consider the likelihood of confusion and, possibly, whether it’s too generic to be associated with Simmons,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

While there is documented evidence Simmons liked to rock-and-roll all night and party every day, he may have a bumpy road arguing he was the first to use or popularize the gesture that’s become ubiquitous among fans of loud guitar riffs and pounding drums.

Similar gestures — if not the exact same one — can be found in the world of music predating KISS touring on its debut, eponymous record in 1974.

Consider, for example, John Lennon’s hand on the cover of The Beatles’s single “Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby” which was released in 1966 — a full seven years before KISS was even formed.

I will see your grainy G. Simmons and raise you one J. Lennon on the cover of the Yellow Submarine single 1966. #NoTrademark pic.twitter.com/bV2s6rHyUP

— Chuck Nowlin (@ChuckNowlinWZLX) June 15, 2017

Then in 1969, psychedelic rock band Coven released an EP with not one but two members flashing the sign. This variation, though, does pull the thumb in, which is the more popular version of the gesture in rock music.

Gene Simmons wants to trademark 'devil's horn' gesture. Says first used in 1974… yet Coven released this album in 1969. Hmmmmm… pic.twitter.com/vwqktTQ9p8

— Mitch Lafon (@mitchlafon) June 15, 2017

Many credit the popularization of the hand gesture not to Simmons but to Ronnie James Dio, the heavy metal rocker who in 1979 replaced Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath. As The Florida Times-Union reported:

Ozzy’s big gimmick on stage was flashing double peace signs. It had become such a Black Sabbath ritual that when Dio took over, he felt the band wouldn’t be the same unless he used a symbol as well, a former publicity agent told The Wall Street Journal. But he didn’t want to be an Ozzy copycat.

Setting himself apart from Ozzy, Dio adopted what has become the rock music salute.

A classic and one of the greats with the voice like a god Ronnie james dio #dio #ronniejamesdio #beast #metal #rock #hardrock #shredding #thumpingdrums #classic #classicmetal #holydiver

A post shared by canaan (@ilove2drumline) on Jun 10, 2017 at 8:20pm PDT

The gesture — both with thumb curled in and sticking out — enjoyed a long history before anyone ever plugged in an electric guitar, though.

Fans of the University of Texas at Austin have been using the hand gesture (thumb in), which they call the “Hook Em’ Horns” symbol, to cheer on their beloved Longhorns on the gridiron or court ever since a group of students came up with the symbol in 1955, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

Texas quarterback Chris Simms give the Hook ‘Em Horns sign after beating Louisiana State 35-20 in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Jan. 1, 2003. (AP/Tony Gutierrez)

Meanwhile, superstitious Italians have used the gesture for many years as to ward off the Devil. Dio told Metal Rules online magazine he originally got it from his grandmother.

“I doubt very much if I would be the first one who ever did that. That’s like saying I invented the wheel, I’m sure someone did that at some other point,” Dio said. “It’s an Italian thing I got from my Grandmother … It’s to ward off the Evil Eye or to give the Evil Eye, depending on which way you do it.”

It even appeared in this context in Bram Stroker’s 1897 novel “Dracula.”

Indeed, the BBC reported it is a common gesture in Italy, and has a double meaning. One might use it in a vulgar manner, flash it to a man whose wife is rumored to be cheating on him.

Here in the states, meanwhile, the gesture is known for a few reasons outside of music.

The more frivolous one is that Spiderman makes it when he shoots sticky webs from his wrists.

Tomorrow is the day YOU become Spider-Man! Tag a photo of your Spidey costume on Instagram with #SpideyHalloween.

A post shared by Spider-Man (@spidermanmovie) on Oct 30, 2014 at 2:23pm PDT

More importantly, though, it’s the American Sign Language symbol for “love.”

In 2009, Edith Rikuris offered the “I love you” sign to fellow occupants at Columbus Colony in Westerville, Ohio. (Maddie McGarvey/For The Washington Post Magazine)

Simmons sure seems to have a long road ahead of him, but claiming a hand gesture isn’t completely unprecedented. Dallas Page, a professional wrestler known to fans as Diamond Dallas Page, long touched his index fingers and thumbs together to create a diamond as a sort of calling card. He was able to trademark it.

Meanwhile, 3OH!3, a Colorado electronic band, made a similar hand gesture in a photo shoot. Theirs was rounder, though, creating more of a circle than a diamond. Page sued the band in district court, and the parties eventually settled.

More from Morning Mix

Did Bob Dylan crib from SparkNotes for his Nobel lecture?

United apologizes after 2015 video shows employee pushing 71-year-old passenger to floor

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Trump calls mayor of shrinking Chesapeake island and tells him not to worry about it

[Category: Entertainment, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/14/17 6:03am

United Airlines issued an apology Tuesday after a video was released of a Houston-based employee pushing a 71-year-old passenger to the floor during an argument over a ticket. The man was left lying there motionless.

The confrontation took place about two years ago but was detailed in a lawsuit filed last week in Harris County, Tex. The airline is still facing fallout over an incident with David Dao, a passenger who was violently dragged off a flight in Chicago in April.

The video of the Texas pushing incident was obtained and broadcast Tuesday evening by Houston news station KPRC.

The passenger, Ronald Tigner, a Houston lawyer, is suing United and two of its employees for more than $1 million, alleging negligence in the incident that took place July 21, 2015, at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

In response to the video, United released a statement to KPRC saying it is “disturbed by the completely unacceptable behavior shown in a video of a customer and a former United employee.” The employee is no longer with the company, according to the statement.

“The actions shown here do not reflect our core values or our commitment to treat all of our customers with respect and dignity,” United’s statement read. “We are reviewing all circumstances surrounding this incident and reaching out to our customer through his attorney to profusely apologize for what occurred and to make this right.”

The encounter began when Tigner received a boarding pass that was illegible. He made “numerous attempts” to ask for a reprinted pass, but United agents denied him one, according to the lawsuit.

He was told to continue on to the security checkpoint, where Transportation Security Administration authorities refused to let Tigner enter because of his poorly printed pass.

So Tigner went back to the United ticketing area and tried once more to get a new ticket, the lawsuit states. Two United employees, Alejandro Anastasia and Ianthe Phillips-Allred, allegedly refused to help Tigner, laughing and cursing at him, the lawsuit states.

Tigner’s attorney, William Hoke, told KPRC that when Tigner asked Anastasia for a new ticket, he replied with a smile, saying, “Can’t you see I’m busy?”

Tigner then told Anastasia to “wipe that smile off your face,” Hoke said, to which Anastasia responded with an obscenity.

Then, Anastasia “suddenly, unexpectedly and violently injured” Tigner, the lawsuit alleges.

Surveillance video shows the United employee checking his watch, turning toward Tigner and pushing him to the floor. Tigner remains there motionless on his back, his legs and arms spread out. Meanwhile, a couple of people who appear to be airline employees stand near Tigner.

But for about 50 seconds, no one appears to bend down to help Tigner, until a woman — identified by Tigner’s lawyer as a flight passenger and nurse — walks over to check on him.

[United CEO tells Congress dragging man from flight was a ‘horrible failure’ by airline]

A United employee later called 911, telling the operator, “There’s a 70 year old male that had fallen down,” according to a 911 call published by KPRC. When the operator asked the employee what caused the fall and if the man was awake, the caller said he did not know.

Anastasia was later charged with a felony of injuring an elderly individual, KPRC reported. He was fined and ordered to attend anger-management classes and apologize to Tigner.

The lawsuit alleges the confrontation caused Tigner to sustain “severe personal injuries and damages,” and incur medical expenses and lost wages. It says the altercation left him with “physical disfigurement” and caused him to experience “mental anguish.”

It also says that nothing Tigner did or failed to do “caused or contributed to the incident.”

The lawsuit follows a number of high-profile controversies involving United, and the airline industry as a whole. In April, Dao refused to give up his seat on an overbooked United flight and was dragged off bloodied and limp, to the disgust of other passengers who captured it on video. Dao suffered a concussion, broken nose and two missing teeth, among other injuries, The Washington Post reported.

Since then, other airlines have come under fire for kicking a family off a flight due to a dispute over a birthday cake and booting a passenger from a plane for using a restroom.

One of the most recent confrontations also involved Houston-based United Airlines agents, who told Yennifer Correia she would have to check her 17th-century violin.

A “wrestling match” ensued, The Post reported, leaving Correia with an injured hand.

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[Category: National, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/14/17 5:52am

Bob Dylan performs during on day 2 of The Hop Festival in Paddock Wood, Kent on June 30 2012. (Ki Price/Reuters)

Bob Dylan has been accused of cribbing. Again.

Slate’s Andrea Pitzer suggested the musician took parts of his Nobel Prize for literature lecture from SparkNotes, the online study guides students often use to cram for a English test when they’ve failed to read a classic novel.

If it’s true, it wouldn’t be the only odd thing about the lecture. Dylan was named the Nobel winner last October. All Nobel prizewinners are required to write a lecture and have six months after the awards ceremony to deliver it. The winners generally give it in person, but Dylan skipped the ceremony and recorded the speech in Los Angeles, turning it in to the Swedish Academy many months later.

In the recorded lecture, Dylan spoke of several novels that inspired him, including “Moby-Dick.”

Pitzer first grew suspicious when reading a blog post by writer Ben Greenman, in which he suggested Dylan invented a new line for the already lengthy novel. When describing the part when a typhoon hits the ship, which is interpreted in various ways by the crew members, Dylan recalled a line from the book: “Some men who receive injuries are led to God, others are led to bitterness.”

[Bob Dylan opines in Nobel Prize lecture: ‘If a song moves you, that’s all that’s important’]

Only, Greeman suggested, that line isn’t in any edition of the book.

“It appears, from all available evidence, that Dylan invented the quote and inserted it into his reading of Moby-Dick,” Greenman wrote. “Was it on purpose? Was it the result of a faulty memory? Was it an egg, left in the lawn to be discovered in case it’s Eastertime too?”

Pitzer provided a potential answer. Because part of the line does appear somewhere: the SparkNotes character description of Father Mapple, which described him as “an example of someone whose trials have led him toward God rather than bitterness.”

In fact, Pitzer found, “Across the 78 sentences in the lecture that Dylan spends describing Moby-Dick, even a cursory inspection reveals that more than a dozen of them appear to closely resemble lines from the SparkNotes site.”

Alex Lubet, a University of Minnesota music professor who has taught classes on Dylan, said even if he borrowed from SparkNotes, it shouldn’t be a problem.

“His lecture is wild and strange,” Lubet told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “It’s meant to be a post-modern work of art. Any kind of a collage technique is fair game.”

David Yaffe, a Syracuse University professor of humanities, agreed.

“I was very moved by his speech and I’m not any less moved knowing this. I don’t find myself feeling like a dupe,” Yaffe told the newspaper. “He’s on the road all the time. He just turned 76. You could see him wanting to take a few shortcuts. I don’t think it makes him any less Bob Dylan.”

Dylan himself, meanwhile, hasn’t responded publicly. But that’s par for the course for the musician, who has been accused of plagiarism almost from the time he moved from Minneapolis to New York City and changed his name from Robert Allen Zimmerman to Bob Dylan.

His first record, the eponymous “Bob Dylan,” was filled with original songs alongside traditional songs such as “Man of Constant Sorrow” and covers of blues tunes like Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “Freight Train Blues.” This was common practice at the time, as evidenced by Elvis Presley, Otis Redding and the Beatles.

When he released his next album, the mostly original “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” in 1963, the following year, one reviewer wrote, “In barely over a year, a young plagiarist had been reborn as a songwriter of substance, and his first album of fully realized original material got the 1960s off their musical starting block.”

Others, though, said on that record “he rewrote songs by Lead Belly and Henry Thomas, which Dylan said was part of the folk tradition, and that he borrowed the melody for ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ from a 16th century Protestant hymn,” according to the Star Tribune.

These types of accusations followed him all the way through his trilogy of comeback albums in the early 2000s. He was accused of taking lines he sings on his 2006 record “Modern Times” from Henry Timrod, often called the poet laureate of the Confederacy. Critics attacked 2001’s perhaps winkingly titled “Love and Theft,” after claiming he borrowed lines from Dr. Junichi Saga’s ”Confessions of a Yakuza.”

By then, Joni Mitchell had gotten in on the action, telling the Los Angeles Times in 2010 of Dylan, “Bob is not authentic at all. He’s a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I.”

Once, he was even accused of cribbing lines from a New Orleans travel brochure.

After a lifetime of being called a plagiarist, a 71-year-old Dylan finally gave a lengthy response in Rolling Stone in 2012, calling his critics “wussies and p—ies.”

“It’s an old thing — it’s part of the tradition. It goes way back,” he said, referring to the practice in folk music of blending lyrics and riffs from various sources to create new compilations. He continued:

In folk and jazz, quotation is a rich and enriching tradition. That certainly is true. It’s true for everybody, but me. I mean, everyone else can do it but not me. There are different rules for me. And as far as Henry Timrod is concerned, have you even heard of him? Who’s been reading him lately? And who’s pushed him to the forefront? Who’s been making you read him? And ask his descendants what they think of the hoopla. And if you think it’s so easy to quote him and it can help your work, do it yourself and see how far you can get.

“I’m working within my art form. It’s that simple,” Dylan concluded. ” … It’s called songwriting. It has to do with melody and rhythm, and then after that, anything goes. You make everything yours. We all do it.”

In the interview, he made clear he wasn’t hiding the fact that he uses quotes. After all, his lines don’t always mirror those of obscure poets.

In the film “Bronco Billy,” for example, Clint Eastwood said, “I’m looking for a woman who can ride like Annie Oakley and shoot like Belle Starr.” In Dylan’s “Sweetheart Like You,” he sang: When I met you, baby/You didn’t show no visible scars/You could ride like Annie Oakley/You could shoot like Belle Starr.”

His lifting sometimes seems to blatant to some, many don’t consider it plagiarism of any kind.

As New York Times music critic Jon Pareles wrote:

He was simply doing what he has always done: writing songs that are information collages. Allusions and memories, fragments of dialogue and nuggets of tradition have always been part of Mr. Dylan’s songs, all stitched together like crazy quilts.

There’s an adage: “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” If the Nobel Committee deemed Dylan great enough for one of its prestigious awards, then, maybe here’s the proof.

[Category: Entertainment, newsletter]

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[l] at 6/14/17 4:53am

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) questions Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

During Sen. Kamala D. Harris’s 25-year career in law enforcement, she has established herself as a formidable presence in the courtroom, on the campaign trail and ultimately in government.

She grew up watching her African American dad and Indian American mother protest for civil rights in Berkeley and took that fierce fight for justice with her to law school. She served two terms as San Francisco’s first female district attorney and was the first woman elected as California’s attorney general.

It’s the résumé of hard-charging legal advocate, not unlike many others in Congress, where she is now a freshman senator from California. Those who know her also know she doesn’t back down.

While such attributes are often rewarded in Washington, they’re not going over so well for Harris — at least with some male colleagues and cable commentators. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee responsible for investigating Russian interference with the 2016 election and connections between the country and Trump campaign officials, Harris has landed a star role in the country’s political drama.

She has used her prosecutorial background to ask pointed, tough questions — and for that she is being admonished. One former Trump campaign adviser on CNN called her “hysterical.”

To those who have observed hearings on Capitol Hill, especially high-visibility televised hearings involving partisan subjects, there has been little or nothing unusual about Harris’s behavior. Members get a small amount of time to ask questions and make their points. Unfriendly witnesses are inclined to string out their answers and let the clock run.

The result, one side rushing, the other stalling, is never pretty. The phrase, “just give me a yes or no answer,” is so often heard it ought to be engraved on the Capitol portico.

But twice now, Harris has been interrupted and chastised by male senators for her style of questioning during the hearings. It happened first last week during questioning of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and then again Tuesday when Attorney General Jeff Sessions was testifying.

Each member of the committee had a limited number of minutes to question Sessions, who was forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation after it was revealed that he had failed to disclose his contacts with Russian diplomats during the campaign.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies on Tuesday on Capitol Hill. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Sessions and Harris spoke over each other throughout the interaction; Sessions seemed eager to slowly and thoroughly deliver his response, and Harris seemed just as eager to push him along, especially when his responses weren’t addressing the answers she sought.

At one point, Sessions said he was “not able to be rushed this fast.”

“It makes me nervous,” he told Harris.

Sessions refused to answer numerous questions from the panel, citing what he called a long-standing Department of Justice policy that prevented him from commenting on private communications with President Trump.

Harris asked if the policy was written down, to which Sessions gave no clear answer but instead explained the “principle” of it.

“Sir, I am not asking you about the principle,” Harris interjected. “I am asking — when you knew that you would be asked these questions and you would rely on that policy, did you not ask your staff to show you the policy that would be the basis for your refusing to answer the majority of questions we are asking you …”

At that moment, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) cut in and appealed to the committee chairman, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.)

“The witness should be allowed to answer the question,” McCain said.

“Senators will allow the chair to control the hearing,” Burr said, pointing to McCain. “Senator Harris, let him answer.”

Sessions then went on to describe the principle, at length.

Before Harris got her “yes or no” answer, Burr cut her off and said her time had expired.

After the exchange, Harris tweeted: “It was a simple question. Can Sessions point to the policy, in writing, that allows him to not answer a whole host of our questions today.”

The scene Wednesday was nearly identical to one that played out during a hearing last week, when Harris was questioning Rosenstein.

From him, Harris also asked for a simple “yes or no” answer to her question, a phrasing that is routine in hearings as members rush to ask as many questions as they can.

Would he sign a letter giving Special Counsel Robert Mueller full independence from the Justice Department during his own Russia probe, she asked.

“Senator, I’m very sensitive about time and I’d like to have a very lengthy conversation and explain that all to you,” Rosenstein responded.

“Can you give me a ‘yes or no’ answer?” Harris asked.

“It’s not a short answer, Senator,” Rosenstein said.

“It is,” she said, cutting him off. “Either you are willing to do that or you are not.”

The exchange felt like a contentious courtroom battle between a prosecutor and a key witness, one that apparently irritated McCain.

He interrupted Harris and told the chairman Rosenstein should be able to answer the question.

Harris continued interrogating the deputy attorney general, again pressing him to give a “yes or no” answer.

Then Burr interjected.

“Will the senator suspend?” Burr interjected. “The chair is going to exercise its right to allow the witnesses to answer the question, and the committee is on notice to provide the witnesses the courtesy, which has not been extended all the way across, extend the courtesy for questions to get answered.”

As with Sessions, Harris never got her answer before time expired.

Harris spokesman Tyrone Gayle told the Associated Press that the senator “has run countless investigations, and will follow the facts wherever they may lead to get the truth for the American people. That can only happen when witnesses answer questions,” he said.

Both hearing exchanges have prompted women to discuss aloud and online how Harris’s experiences with her fellow senators are only highlighting the treatment average women, especially women of color, experience every day.

Women of color “understand what Kamala Harris is dealing with,” Tanzina Vega, a CNN reporter who covers race and inequality, wrote on Twitter. “Raise your hand if you’ve been shushed, silenced, scolded, etc.”

Her words were retweeted nearly 2,000 times and garnered more than 3,000 likes.

“I thought so,” she responded. “Thanks ladies.”

WOC understand what Kamala Harris is dealing with. Raise your hand if you've been shushed, silenced, scolded etc.

— Tanzina Vega (@tanzinavega) June 13, 2017

Later Tuesday night, during a segment with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, former Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said Sessions “knocked away some of the hysteria from Kamala Harris and some of the Democrats who wanted to make this a big partisan show.”

CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers quickly seized on Miller’s use of “hysteria,” a word with historic sexist undertones grounded in a psychological disorder tied to women’s physiology.

“How was Senator Kamala Harris hysterical?” Powers asked.

Miller said he thought there was no real effort to get a real question answered.

“I think she asked a lot of questions,” Powers said. “She was very dogged. I wouldn’t say she was any more dogged than Senator Ron Wyden was, would you say that?” (Wyden also had a contentious exchange with Sessions.)

“I think she was hysterical,” Miller said. “I don’t think Senator Wyden was trying to get to the bottom of answers either.”

“But he wasn’t hysterical,” Powers said. “She was.”

The CNN commentator and Trump supporter then chimed in: “Hysteria is a neutral quality,” he said.

“And yet,” replied Powers, “it’s just women that usually are called hysterical.”

Harris’s treatment has not gone unnoticed.

The admonishments from men have in fact elevated Harris’s profile, prompting comparisons with her with fellow female Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), who was censured during Sessions’s confirmation hearing earlier this year and inspired the rallying cry, “Nevertheless, she persisted.”

After a contentious exchange between Harris and Sessions during Wednesday’s intelligence hearing, Harris tweeted: “The women of the United States Senate will not be silenced when seeking the truth.”

More from Morning Mix:

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Trump calls mayor of shrinking Chesapeake island and tells him not to worry about it

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