The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid plummeted last week to seasonally adjusted 339,000, the lowest level in more than four years. The sharp drop offered a hopeful sign that the job market could pick up. In this Friday Sept. 28, 2012, photo, a group of veterans listen during a session with one of the employers at a job fair introducing veterans to careers in the security and private investigations industry... (Associated Press) The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications fell by 30,000 to the fewest since February 2008. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped by 11,500 to 364,000, a six-month low. The positive figures follow a report last week that said the unemployment rate fell in September to 7.8 percent. It was the first time since January 2009 that the rate dropped below 8 percent. A Labor Department spokesman cautioned that the weekly applications can be volatile, particularly at the start of a quarter. And the spokesman said one large state accounted for much of the decline. The spokesman did not name the state. Unemployment benefit applications are a proxy for layoffs. When they consistently drop below 375,000, it suggests that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate. Some economists said they want to see more data before suggesting the job market is turning around. "Should this level hold for another week, it would flag a meaningful improvement in October" hiring, said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, in a note to clients. Dan Greenhaus, chief market strategist at BTIG LLC, is also reserving judgment. "Are things that much better all of a sudden? Perhaps. We're going to wait for some corroborating data." The total number of people receiving unemployment benefits also fell, the Labor Department said. A little more than 5 million Americans received benefits in the week ending Sept. 22, the latest data available. That's down about 44,000 from the previous week. Last week's report noted that the unemployment rate declined to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August because a government survey of households found that 873,000 more people had jobs. It was the biggest jump in nearly 10 years, although it was largely because of an increase in part-time employment. Still, a separate survey of businesses showed that employers added only 114,000 jobs in September. That's generally enough to keep pace with population growth but not enough to rapidly bring relief to more than 12 million who are unemployed. Hiring over the summer was stronger than previously estimated. The economy gained an average of 146,000 jobs a month in the July-September quarter. That's more than double the monthly pace in the April-June quarter. Another report Wednesday suggested hiring will likely remain modest. Employers posted slightly fewer open jobs in August compared with July, the Labor Department said. It was the second straight monthly drop and the fewest openings since April. A key problem is the economy is not growing fast enough to generate much hiring. Growth slowed to a tepid annual rate of 1.3 percent in the April-June quarter, down from 2 percent in the previous quarter. Most economists see growth staying at or below 2 percent in the second half of the year. ||||| WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. unemployment rate plunged in April to its lowest level since September 2008 as employers added 288,000 jobs, the most in two years. The figures are a clear sign that the economy is picking up after a brutal winter slowed growth. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent from 6.7 percent in March. But the drop occurred because the number of people working or seeking work fell sharply. People not seeking work aren't counted as unemployed. Employers also added more jobs in February and March than previously estimated. The job totals for those two months were revised up by a combined 36,000. Job creation is accelerating: Employers added an average of 238,000 jobs the past three months. That's up from 167,000 in the previous three. ||||| Associated Press Today was Jobs Friday, when for one ever-so-brief moment, the interests of Wall Street, Washington and Main Street all turned to focus on one thing: Jobs. The economy added 142,000 jobs in August, well below the 225,000 estimate that economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had expected. As expected, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.1% after ticking up to 6.2% in July. Here at MoneyBeat HQ, we crunched the numbers, tracked the markets and compiled the commentary before and after the data crossed the wires. Now that we’re done, feel free to weigh in yourself via the comments section. And while you’re here, why don’t you sign up to follow us on Twitter.
– The unemployment rate dropped to 8.2% last month, but the economy only added 120,000 jobs, when 203,000 new jobs had been predicted, according to today's jobs report. Reaction on the Wall Street Journal's MarketBeat Blog was swift: "Woah!!! Bad number." The unemployment rate, however, is better news; it had been expected to hold steady at 8.3%. But the AP notes that the dip is mostly due to more Americans giving up on seeking employment.
Shelly Sterling still wants to retain partial ownership of the Clippers. (Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports) Shelly Sterling has signed her divorce papers but is holding off on filing them against her husband Donald, partly because her camp knows that proceeding could disrupt the situation involving the NBA and the Los Angeles Clippers, a person familiar with the Sterling case told USA TODAY Sports. But that might be her strongest leverage against the league — a nuclear option that could place the Clippers under the jurisdiction of a California divorce court and delay any sale of the team indefinitely. MAGIC: No place for Shelly in NBA SHELLY: Says Donald has dementia The question is whether Shelly Sterling will use that leverage in her quest to keep her 50% ownership share of the Clippers. She has been advised not to file yet, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the situation. A decision by either Shelly or Donald Sterling to move forward with a divorce immediately could make it difficult for the NBA to force a sale of the franchise as quickly as desired by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. In the case of divorce, the couple's many assets, including the Clippers, could be subject to a temporary restraining order by the court as the couple tries to divide their community property and reach a resolution about who gets what, a situation that sometimes takes years. Shelly Sterling prefers to continue a dialogue with the league in her bid to keep her half of the team, the person said. Donald Sterling is worth about $1.9 billion, according to Forbes magazine, and owns a substantial amount of property in Southern California. Silver wants to move quickly to force a sale of the team as it tries to completely wash its hands of Donald Sterling and his racist comments about African-Americans. But the fact that Donald and Shelly Sterling are already estranged is a potential problem. "As soon as one of them files (for divorce), the family court is going to argue it has some jurisdiction over how that property gets disposed of," said Sharon Kalemkiarian, a family law specialist in San Diego who is not involved in the Clippers case. VIDEO: Magic shows class where Sterling showed crass Skip Ad Ad Loading... x Embed x Share USA TODAY Sports' Jeff Zillgitt breaks down Magic Johnson's response to Donald Sterling's CNN interview. Even if the NBA succeeds in forcing a sale of the team, as many expect, a divorce filing could drag out the case and keep the ownership situation in limbo indefinitely, a complication that the league, sponsors and players wouldn't like. The NBA might have to petition the presiding family court to take over the team in the case of a divorce. Shelly Sterling has said she will fight to keep her half of the team because she doesn't believe she did anything wrong. But many NBA players, fans and sponsors see the couple as intertwined even though they are separated. They have been married for than 50 years and have owned the team since 1981. They also were co-defendants in lawsuits that accused them of housing discrimination in their rental properties. In 2009, they reached a $2.8 million settlement with the federal government without admitting any wrongdoing. RIVERS: Didn't much care for Sterling's CNN apology ARMOUR: Shame belongs on Sterling, not Johnson After Donald Sterling's private comments about African-Americans were recorded and leaked to the gossip website TMZ, Silver banned him from the league for life and fined him $2.5 million. He also said he would move to force him to sell the team with a three-quarters vote of league owners. Though Silver said his ruling applies "specifically to Donald Sterling and Donald Sterling's conduct only," the league said a vote to force a sale of the team would include all ownership stakes. "Under the NBA Constitution, if a controlling owner's interest is terminated by a 3/4 vote, all other team owners' interests are automatically terminated as well," according to a statement from NBA spokesman Mike Bass. In an interview that aired Monday with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Donald Sterling said he didn't want to fight other league owners, though it's unclear if he will if they vote him out. "People want me to hire a wall of lawyers and them to have to hire a wall of lawyers and go to war," Donald Sterling said. "I don't think that's the answer." He referred to Shelly as his "ex-wife," though that's not yet official. When and if it becomes official could decide when this controversy finally goes away. Follow Brent Schrotenboer on Twitter @Schrotenboer. E-mail: GALLERY: Donald Sterling through the years ||||| LOS ANGELES (AP) — In her first interview since the NBA banned her estranged husband, Shelly Sterling says she will fight to keep her share of the Los Angeles Clippers and plans one day to divorce Donald Sterling. (Click Prev or Next to continue viewing images.) ADVERTISEMENT (Click Prev or Next to continue viewing images.) Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling, below, watches the Clippers play the Oklahoma City Thunder along with her attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, in the first half of Game 3 of the Western Conference... (Associated Press) Shelly Sterling spoke to Barbara Walters, and ABC News posted a short story with excerpts from the conversation Sunday. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has banned Donald Sterling for making racist comments and urged owners to force Sterling to sell the team. Silver added that no decisions had been made about the rest of Sterling's family. According to ABC's story, Shelly Sterling told Walters: "I will fight that decision." Sterling also said that she "eventually" will divorce her husband, and that she hadn't yet done so due to financial considerations. ||||| Shelly Sterling said today that "eventually, I am going to" divorce her estranged husband, Donald Sterling, and if the NBA tries to force her to sell her half of the Los Angeles Clippers, she would "absolutely" fight to keep her stake in the team. "I will fight that decision," she told ABC News' Barbara Walters today in an exclusive interview. "To be honest with you, I'm wondering if a wife of one of the owners, and there's 30 owners, did something like that, said those racial slurs, would they oust the husband? Or would they leave the husband in?" Sterling added that the Clippers franchise is her "passion" and "legacy to my family." "I've been with the team for 33 years, through the good times and the bad times," she added. These comments come nearly two weeks after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine for Donald Sterling on April 29, following racist comments from the 80-year-old, which were caught on tape and released to the media. Read: Barbara Walters' Exclusive Interview With V. Stiviano Being estranged from her husband, Shelly Sterling said she would "have to accept" whatever punishment the NBA handed down to him, but that her stake in the team should be separate. "I was shocked by what he said. And -- well, I guess whatever their decision is -- we have to live with it," she said. "But I don't know why I should be punished for what his actions were." An NBA spokesman said this evening that league rules would not allow her tol hold on to her share. "Under the NBA Constitution, if a controlling owner's interest is terminated by a 3/4 vote, all other team owners' interests are automatically terminated as well," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. "It doesn't matter whether the owners are related as is the case here. These are the rules to which all NBA owners agreed to as a condition of owning their team." Sherry Sterling's lawyer, Pierce O'Donnell, disputed the league's reading of its constitution. "We do not agree with the league's self-serving interpretation of its constitution, its application to Shelly Sterling or its validity under these unique circumstances," O'Donnell said in a statement released this evening in reposnse the NBA. "We live in a nation of laws. California law and the United States Constitution trump any such interpretation." If the league decides to force Donald Sterling to sell his half of the team, Shelly Sterling doesn't know what he will do, but the possibility of him transferring full ownership to her is something she "would love him to" consider. Related: NBA Bans Clippers Owner Donald Sterling For Life "I haven't discussed it with him or talked to him about it," she said. The lack of communication between Rochelle and Donald Sterling led Walters to question whether she plans to file for divorce. "For the last 20 years, I've been seeing attorneys for a divorce," she said, laughing. "In fact, I have here-- I just filed-- I was going to file the petition. I signed the petition for a divorce. And it came to almost being filed. And then, my financial advisor and my attorney said to me, 'Not now.'" Sterling added that she thinks the stalling of the divorce stems from "financial arrangements." But she said "Eventually, I'm going to." She also told Walters she thinks her estranged husband is suffering from "the onset of dementia." Since Donald Sterling's ban, several celebrities have said they would be willing to buy the team from Sterling, including Oprah Winfrey and Magic Johnson. Sterling remains the owner, though his ban means he can have nothing to do with running the team and can't attend any games. Silver announced Friday that former Citigroup chairman and former Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons has been named interim CEO of the team, but nothing concrete in terms of ownership or whether Sterling will be forced to sell the team. Parsons will now take over the basic daily operations for the team and oversee the team's president. Read: What You Need to Know This Week About Donald Sterling ABC News contacted Donald Sterling for comment on his wife's interview, but he declined.
– Shelly Sterling plans "eventually" to divorce her estranged husband Donald, she tells Barbara Walters at ABC News. As for her stake in the Los Angeles Clippers, she plans to keep it, the AP notes. Sterling says she would "absolutely" fight any NBA decision to force her to sell the team. The team is her "legacy" to her family, she says. "To be honest with you, I'm wondering if a wife of one of the owners … said those racial slurs, would they oust the husband? Or would they leave the husband in?"
GAITHERSBURG, Md. (AP) — A small, private jet has crashed into a house in Maryland's Montgomery County on Monday, killing at least three people on board, authorities said. Preliminary information indicates at least three people were on board and didn't survive the Monday crash into home in Gaithersburg, a Washington, D.C. suburb, said Pete Piringer, a Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman. He said a fourth person may have been aboard. Piringer said the jet crashed into one home around 11 a.m., setting it and two others on fire. Crews had the fire under control within an hour and were searching for anyone who may have been in the homes. Television news footage of the scene showed one home nearly destroyed, with a car in the driveway. Witnesses told television news crews that they saw the airplane appear to struggle to maintain altitude before going into a nosedive and crashing. An FAA spokesman said preliminary information shows the Embraer EMB-500/Phenom 100 twin-engine jet was on approach at the nearby Montgomery County Airpark. The National Transportation Safety Board is sending an investigator to the scene. ||||| GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WJLA) - A small plane crashed into a house in the 19700 block of Drop Forge Lane off Snouffer School Road in Gaithersburg on Monday, killing six people - three people aboard the plane and three local residents on the ground. Continue reading The two-story, wood-frame home was gutted by the crash impact and ensuing blaze. The first floor was nearly completely blown out and smoke drifted from a gaping hole in what was left of the collapsing roof. Two adjacent homes also had significant damage as the debris and fire spread. "The plane sliced through the roof of one home, and the main part of the fuselage and the tail landed against a second house. One of the wings "catapulted" into a third house, where the majority of the fire damage occurred, Robert Sumwalt of the National Transportation Safety Board said at a news conference. Montgomery County firefighters had the blaze under control within an hour, but it took a few more hours to sweep the homes and find the bodies of a missing mother and her two young children. Authorities said it appeared 36-year-old Marie Gemmell and her two sons, 3-year-old Cole and month-old infant Devon, sought refuge from the fire in a second-floor bathroom after the plane's wing tore into their home. While the official causes of death weren't yet determined, investigators speculated it might be smoke inhalation. Gemmell's husband and their other child, age 5, survived -- they weren't home at the time of the crash. The plane was ripped to shreds when it slammed into the neighborhood about 10:45 a.m. Authorities said the pilot and two passengers aboard the Embraer EMB-500/Phenom 100 twin-engine jet, built in 2009, likely died upon impact. ABC7 News confirmed the plane's owner, Dr. Michael J. Rosenberg - CEO of North Carolina-based Health Decisions, a clinical research organization - was among the three fatalities on the plane. He was described as "an experienced pilot." The identities of his two passengers were not immediately known. Rosenberg's family, which lives locally, said they were "in shock" and also "devastated" to find out others were killed in the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane, which originated its flight in Chapel Hill, N.C., crashed while on approach to the nearby Montgomery County Airpark. It went down less than a mile from the airpark and the house it hit was in line with Runway 14 at the airport. Rosenberg had survived a March 2010 crash into some trees near the same airpark, totaling his $1.4 million turbo-prop plane at the time. "The pilot’s failure to maintain aircraft control while performing a go-around" was cited by the NTSB as the crash cause. Witnesses to Monday's crash told ABC7 News that they saw Rosenberg's airplane "struggling desperately" to maintain altitude before going into a nosedive and crashing. "It did not appear to me that the pilot was in control of the aircraft," said Larry Matthews, an eyewitness who lives in the neighborhood. Fred Pedreira, 67, who also lives near the crash, said he had just returned home from the grocery store and was parking his car when he saw the jet and immediately knew something was wrong. "This guy, when I saw him, for a fast jet with the wheels down, I said, 'I think he's coming in too low,'" Pedreira said in an interview with ABC7 News. "Then he was 90 degrees - sideways - and then he went belly-up into the house and it was a ball of fire. It was terrible. Byron Valencia, 31, who lives nearby too, said that he was in his kitchen when he heard a jet engine flying overhead, and then a big thump shortly after. "When I opened my window, I could see smoke over the trees and I heard a small explosion, like a pop," he told the Associated Press. "I could see the smoke rising ... It's scary." Emily Gradwohl, 22, who lives two doors down from the house the jet hit, was home at the time of the crash and ran outside to see what had happened. "I heard like a loud crash, and the whole house just shook," Gradwohl told the AP. "We got jackets on, ran outside and saw one of the houses completely set on fire." She said planes fly low over the neighborhood every day but she had never worried about a crash until now. National Transportation Safety Board records reviewed by ABC7 News indicated there have been at least 14 plane crashes in Gaithersburg since 1995. Two were deadly with five total fatalities in those prior crashes. The most recent incidents - which didn't result in any fatalities - occurred in August and September, according to federal records, and were labeled a forced landing and a "landing overrun." The NTSB's Sumwalt said his agency would look into everything involving what could have led to this latest crash, including crew experience and proficiency, training and procedures, equipment performance and weather. "Our mission is to find out not only what happened but why it happened because we want to make sure something like this never happens again," he told reporters Monday evening. He said investigators recovered the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from the downed plane, and that they were in good condition. Air traffic control tapes obtained by ABC7 News indicated there were large numbers of birds reported near the airpark just before Monday's crash. It was unclear if birds being caught in the plane's engines played a role in the crash, but bird strikes have been a factor in other crashes - most notably the so-called 'Miracle on the Hudson' airliner emergency landing on a river in New York City. ABC7 meteorologist Jacqui Jeras said there was light snow in the vicinity of the Montgomery County airport at time of the crash, with a temperature just below freezing at 30 degrees - but there were no reports of any icing issues. Monday's crash was "incredibly unusual," observed ABC News aviation analyst John Nance. "These jets are incredibly safe," he said of the Embraer EMB-500/Phenom 100, adding that lost engines or fuel starvation could have been to blame for downing the aircraft. ||||| Gemmell family (Photo: Facebook) GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WUSA9) -- The investigations into a plane crash that left six people dead in Gaithersburg on Monday evening are just beginning. A mother and her two young children are three of the six lives lost in the crash. Marie Gemmell, 36, her three-year-old son Cole and her infant-son Devin were inside their home when a corporate jet crashed into it. Their bodies were found on the second floor hours after the crash. The father and a third child were not home at the time of the crash. Michael Rosenberg was on the jet that crashed (Photo: Health Decisions) Three people on the jet were also killed, according to Montgomery County fire officials. One of those victims has been identified as Michael Rosenberg, CEO of Health Decisions. You can read their statement here. An Embraer EMB-500/Phenom 100 crashed into a house in the 19700 block of Drop Forge Lane off Snouffer School Road in the neighborhood of Hunters Woods around 10:45 a.m., according to the NTSB. The plane was coming from Chapel Hill, NC and approaching the Montgomery County Air Park. The NTSB has sent a go-team to the site, where three homes were damaged. Firefighters used foam to battle fires all around the scene. The fuselage of the jet is parallel to a second house, and the tail of the airplane is at the front door. One of the wings was catapulted into the Gemmell's house, causing a huge fire and the majority of the damage, according to the NTSB. Senior Investigator Timothy LeBaron is leading the go-team. Investigators are looking at operations, including crew experience, training and procedures, the functionality of the engines, the weather, air traffic control and more, NTSB spokesperson Robert L. Sumwalt said at a press confrence. "Our mission is to find out not only what happened, but why it happened because we want to make sure something like this never happens again," Sumwalt said. MORE: Woman says community feared plane crash NTSB investigators are currently collecting perishable evidence, not determining the cause. They'll be conducting interviews and documenting the wreckage. Investigators could be on the scene for three to seven days for what they call the "fact-finding" phase. The black box, which has recordings from the crash, has been recovered. It is in good condition and has been rushed to labs, Sumwalt said. The first call about the crash came in at 10:44 a.m. from the National Guard Armory for the report of an explosion, and units were on the scene in approximately seven minutes, Montgomery County Fire Chief Steve Lohr said at an initial press conference. Utility crews were also on the scene and Lorh said it is safe for residents in the area. Electricity has been temporarily cut off. Recordings of the 911-calls from the crash were released on Monday evening. In the recordings neighbors and witnesses describe the scene where the plane crashed in the Gaithersburg neighborhood. Recordings of the 911 calls from the Gaithersburg plane crash were released on Monday evening. "We just heard a giant explosion we looked out the window and there's... it looks like a house is on fire, we've got some people running over there to see if people are okay," one caller described. RAW: Fire Chief Steve Lohr speaks on plane crash A woman who was traveling into the area after taking a test at Montgomery College tells WUSA9 that she could see the smoke from the crash from I-370. As she got closer, she saw all the emergency response vehicles and called her husband. He told her that the smoke was coming from the area where her mother and stepfather lived and she says she got worried. She discovered the house that was struck was their neighbors' house. She says there are "three little ones" who live in that house. One person reported seeing the plane "wobble" before it crashed into the house. Other neighbors reported hearing repeated booms and feeling their houses shake from the impact of the plane. Something went wrong with the jet heading to the Montgomery County airport and it went into a house in Gaithersburg WUSA9 spoke with an eyewitness named Jocelyn Brown who said she first heard the plane sputtering, making a sound that planes that go over the area normally don't make flying over the houses. She says she and her mother became concerned and went to investigate. They then saw the plane hit the side of a house. She reported seeing a "mushroom effect of smoke" and also hearing three explosions after the plane hit. Jocelyn says they also heard screams in the area of the home. She says she does not know whether they were coming from inside the house or behind them. Jocelyn lives in the area and says she knows the mother that lives there. She described her as a "sweet woman" who walks with her kids in the area all the time and speaks to everyone. He said the plane sounded like it was "puttering" and then saw fire A woman posted video from the ground of the scene of the plane crash on YouTube. . The FAA has released the following information: "This is preliminary information about an Embraer EMB-500/Phenom 100 twin-engine jet that crashed one mile north of the Montgomery County Airport, Gaithersburg, MD at 11am today. The aircraft was on approach to Runway 14 at the airport when the accident occurred. Please contact local authorities for information on passengers and the situation on the ground. The FAA will investigate. We will update this statement when new information is available. " Photo of plane from FlightAware (Photo: FlightAware) An FAA source says the jet was waiting for a much slower single engine aircraft, possibly a Cessna, to make its turn so it could make its approach. That information has not been confirmed by the NTSB. The Montgomery County Air Park is within 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile of the crash. The airport does not have a tower, so communication would have been with Washington Air Traffic Control Section, not the airport. The FAA registry shows that the plane was a corporate Phenom jet with tail number N100EQ. It's registered to Sage Aviation LLC out of Chapel Hill, NC which makes replacement parts for the aviation industry. MORE: Gaithersburg plane crash at Drop Forge Lane, 3 houses suffering some sort of damage, this one the worst — JimMacKayWNEW (@JimMacKayWNEW) December 8, 2014 Snouffer School Road was closed between Centerway Road and Goshen Road following the crash. Drivers and pedestrians are being urged to avoid the area. It is likely to remain closed throughout the night and possibly Tuesday. She says something has to be done about planes flying low directly over homes. Read or Share this story:
– A twin-engine Embraer jet that the FAA describes as "on approach to Runway 14" at the Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, Maryland, crashed into a home this morning, engulfing that home in flames and setting two others on fire. Three people are dead, but the count could grow. A Montgomery County Fire rep says three fliers were killed in the crash, but notes the corporate plane may have had a fourth person on board, reports the AP. A relative of the owner of the home that was hit tells WUSA 9 that a mother with three children pre-school age and under should have been home at the time; there's no word on the family's whereabouts. The crash occurred around 11am on Drop Forge Lane, and the fire was extinguished within an hour. Crews are now searching the wreckage. A witness noted the plane appeared to "wobble" before the crash; the airport is no more than 3/4 mile from the crash scene. NTSB and FAA will investigate.
On Monday night, while the rest of the world was watching Charlie Sheen flame out live on CNN, Tucker Carlson took to Twitter to make some impolitic statements of his own. "Palin's popularity falling in Iowa, but maintains lead to become supreme commander of Milfistan," he wrote. By the next morning, the tweet was deleted and he had apologized, writing, “Apparently Charlie Sheen got control of my Twitter account last night while I was at dinner. Apologies for his behavior.” But that wasn’t enough to spare him the ire of conservative women on the blogosphere and Twitter. On Tuesday, before Carlson’s first apology, Stacy Drake, writing on Conservatives4Palin, praised Carlson’s works at The Daily Caller, particularly the leaks of the Journolist emails, saying that’s why his tweet stung so badly. Aside from Tucker’s sheep-like response to warped poll numbers, he also failed to take ownership of his sexist comment. He deleted the original (which is why I had to link to a retweet) obviously aware that what he had posted was wrong. Unfortunately for him, many people had already seen it and responded. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, Tucker. Is this the sort of treatment that Conservative women, who want to get involved in the process, are expected to put up with? Is it okay for male columnists (Conservative or otherwise) to continue objectifying women in the world of politics? No it’s not! She was unimpressed with his first apology, and called for him to apologize to Palin while continuing to denounce him for sexism on her Twitter account. Michelle Malkin joined the calls Tuesday, tweeting: “I am not down with @karlrove @tuckercarlson misogynist mockery of @sarahpalinusa. Sick of it.” Later Tuesday, Carlson obliged: “I’m sorry for last night’s tweet. I meant absolutely no offense. Not the first dumb thing I’ve said. Hopefully the last.” Some bros have come to Carlson's aid. Tuesday, Erick Erickson tweeted, "Maybe my sense of humor needs to be recalibrated, but when I heard @TuckerCarlson's MILFistan comment, I laughed then got out my passport." (Needless to say, Drake was not amused.) But by Wednesday, the thing had escalated into a full-blown war of the sexes within the conservative blogosphere, with Whitney Pitcher taking Carlson's tweet as inspiration for her post on Conservatives4Palin: "MILF–Misogynists (and Elites) I’d Like to Fulminate." Perhaps an additional reason that Governor Palin does not win the respect of the Elite and Establishment is that you cannot be praised for your “perfectly creased pants” if you often wear a skirt, right David Brooks? The continued line of attack from the Establishment and Elite men in the GOP have come as a result of Governor Palin’s genetic makeup. This post has been updated to correct the spelling of Stacy Drake's first name. ||||| Tucker Carlson Exposes His Own Sexism on Twitter (Updated) Tucker Carlson has done some good work in the past… His site, The Daily Caller, is a frequent stop of mine and many other Conservatives. They were responsible for exposing the Journolist scandal, which highlighted the planning and coordination of many members of the left-wing press. I will always be grateful to Tucker’s team for bringing that story to light. This is also why I am so angered by Tucker’s recent actions. I thought he was better than this. If you haven’t heard by now, Monday evening, Tucker Carlson posted a disturbing tweet about Governor Palin which said: Palin’s popularity falling in Iowa, but maintains lead to become supreme commander of Milfistan Aside from Tucker’s sheep-like response to warped poll numbers, he also failed to take ownership of his sexist comment. He deleted the original (which is why I had to link to a retweet) obviously aware that what he had posted was wrong. Unfortunately for him, many people had already seen it and responded. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, Tucker. Is this the sort of treatment that Conservative women, who want to get involved in the process, are expected to put up with? Is it okay for male columnists (Conservative or otherwise) to continue objectifying women in the world of politics? No it’s not! The best thing Tucker Carlson could do, is admit that what he tweeted was wrong, apologize to Governor Palin, and urge his fellow colleagues to be respectful with their language and written word. What he did was demeaning and offensive, and there is no place for it in Conservative circles. Update: This is a poor attempt at an apology. Tucker Carlson tries to cover his tracks this morning by repeating the same mistakes he made last night. He wrote: Apparently Charlie Sheen got control of my Twitter account last night while I was at dinner. Apologies for his behavior. He didn’t take responsibility for his comment and he fails horribly at humor. Try again, and Tucker… you’re not funny. Update II: Almost a day later, he finally apologizes: I’m sorry for last night’s tweet. I meant absolutely no offense. Not the first dumb thing I’ve said. Hopefully the last. ||||| A time-honored parlor game for political pundits is to expose the glaring hypocrisies of their opponents with pithy zingers, a tradition that has flourished in the 140-character universe of Twitter. The boilerplate is something like this: Party A is demanding X, but when the issue is Y, Party A demands the opposite! A liberal-friendly example: GOP says mental health care not gun safety will prevent deaths. So why are they are turning down Medicaid expansion?… — LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) January 20, 2013 And a conservative one, referring to President Obama's inaugural address: "We cannot treat name-calling as reasoned debate." But we can treat it as good, old-fashioned fun, right? Romnesia! — Timothy P Carney (@TPCarney) January 22, 2013 These devastating juxtapositions have not, of course, led either side to reexamine its positions or forge a more conciliatory path forward. However, they at least possess the virtue of making a modicum of sense. It's hard to say the same of a recent attempt in the genre by Tucker Carlson, the editor-in-chief of the conservative Daily Caller. In response to the news that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta would lift a ban on women in combat, a subject upon which people can reasonably disagree, Carlson fired off this tweet: The administration boasts about sending women to the front lines on the same day Democrats push the ViolenceAgainst Women Act. — Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) January 24, 2013 Critics, of course, pounced. Some have lectured Carlson as if he were a child… @tuckercarlson hey Tucker, fighting for your country is not the same as being beaten by your boyfriend or husband. Sad you don't get that. — Copperbird (@copperbird7) January 24, 2013 …questioned his manhood... @tuckercarlsonObviouslythe chivalrous thing for you to do is to enlist and spare a woman the horrors of war. #chickenhawk — TBogg (@tbogg) January 24, 2013 …and attacked his sartorial pretensions. @copperbird7 The bow tie cut off his supply of oxygen, it would seem... — Caris Severn (@CarisSevern) January 24, 2013 Jonathan Chait at New York compared Carlson's powers of analogy to those of Lindsay Bluth, not exactly the brightest member of the Bluth family in Arrested Deveopment: This is a Lindsay Bluth–level retort. ("You know, we're not the only ones destroying trees. What about beavers? You call yourself an environmentalist, why don't you go club a few beavers?") Serving on combat is a choice citizens make, accepting risk in order to serve their country. [New York] And Comedy Central's Indecision blog fears what else may be on Carlson's mind: Thank goodness for Twitter's character limit or all of Carlson's comments would end with "and what are we going to do when their menstruation attracts bears??" [Comedy Central] There's plenty more — even from Carlson, who is pretty clearly in no mood to back down. Here's his follow-up:
– Tucker Carlson is in deep doodoo with conservative women after an ill-advised tweet referencing Sarah Palin that he posted, then removed, Monday night. "Palin's popularity falling in Iowa, but maintains lead to become supreme commander of Milfistan," he tweeted—and we probably don't need to tell you where that is. His first attempt at an apology, which he tweeted the next morning: "Apparently Charlie Sheen got control of my Twitter account last night while I was at dinner. Apologies for his behavior.” That wasn't good enough for many conservative women, Politico notes, rounding up reactions from bloggers to Michelle Malkin calling his behavior sexist and misogynistic. By late Tuesday, Carlson had offered up a more sincere-sounding apology: “I’m sorry for last night’s tweet. I meant absolutely no offense. Not the first dumb thing I’ve said. Hopefully the last.” But at least one man—Erick Erickson, editor of—was on Carlson's side, tweeting his reaction to the post in question: "I laughed then got out my passport."
Image caption A man has admitted removing another man's testicle during an "unauthorised" surgery An amateur surgeon in Australia has pleaded guilty to removing the left testicle of a man who could not afford professional medical treatment. Allan George Matthews, 56, admitted to "removing tissue" from the man "without consent or authority" at a motel in Port Macquarie, north of Sydney. Police said the 52-year-old victim posted an online ad "requesting assistance with a medical issue". He had been suffering for years after being kicked in the groin by a horse. Police became aware of the case in June when the man attended hospital after the wound he suffered during the operation became infected. Officers raided Matthews' home and seized medical equipment, firearms and four bottles of what they suspected to be amyl nitrate. Prosecutors alleged that Matthews was not authorised to perform such a procedure as he was not a qualified or registered medical practitioner. He also pleaded guilty in court this week to illegally possessing a gun and two counts of possessing or attempting to prescribe a restricted substance. ||||| A man accused of removing another man's testicle during a meeting in a Port Macquarie motel room has pleaded guilty to a string of charges. Allan George Matthews, 57, appeared in Port Macquarie Local Court on Wednesday morning for the first time since his arrest in Glen Innes, last month. SHARE Share on Facebook SHARE Share on Twitter TWEET Link A man has pleaded guilty after 'unauthorised' surgery to remove another's testicle. During the proceedings, Matthews' solicitor Douglas Hannaway entered pleas of guilty to removing tissue from the body of another without consent or authority. He has pleaded not guilty to the more serious charge of reckless grievous bodily harm. Magistrate Dominique Burns ordered police to compile a brief of evidence by next month and serve it on Matthews' defence before it returns to court in mid-August. The charges stem from an incident in a motel room in Port Macquarie on May 16. Advertisement Police allege Matthews met a 52-year-old man and surgically removed his left testicle. It is the crown's case that Matthews is not qualified or authorised to perform such a procedure, and is not a qualified or registered medical practitioner. The 52-year-old alleged victim attended the motel room after posting an advertisement online requesting assistance with a medical issue, police claim. After the alleged incident, the man then attended hospital a week later to repair the wound he suffered to his testicle. The hospital visit triggered an investigation by Mid North Coast police who raided Matthews' home in Glen Innes on June 23. They seized medical equipment, electronic equipment, seven firearms and four bottles of what they suspected to be amyl nitrate. In court, Matthews pleaded guilty to not keeping a pistol safely, possessing an unauthorised firearm, not keeping a firearm safely, and two counts of possessing or attempting to prescribe restricted substance. According to court documents, the 57-year-old did not enter a plea to the charge of causing grievous bodily harm. Matthews remains on conditional bail. The Port News ||||| AAP A DIY “doctor” accused of slicing off a man’s testicle in a NSW motel room has pleaded guilty to a charge of illicitly removing another person’s bodily tissue. Police say Allan George Matthews, 56, responded to an online advertisement posted in May by a 52-year-old man requesting help with a medical issue. The two men then met at a motel in Port Macquarie, on the state’s mid-north coast, where the younger man’s left testicle was allegedly surgically removed by Matthews, who police say was not a qualified doctor. A week later, the younger man showed up at hospital seeking help with a wound he had sustained during the illicit operation. Matthews faced Port Macquarie Local Court on Wednesday and entered a guilty plea to a charge of removing tissue from the body of another person without proper consent or authority. He has also admitted charges of possessing a prescribed restricted substance, unauthorised possession of a firearm and failure to keep a firearm safely, but will fight a charge of reckless grievous bodily harm, according to court records. He is yet to enter a plea to the charge of causing grie`vous bodily harm with intent. Matthews will remain on bail until his case returns to court on August 18.
– What are the three most horrifying words in the English language? Wrong. The correct answer is "amateur testicle surgery." The BBC reports 56-year-old Allan Matthews pleaded guilty Wednesday to removing another man's left testicle at an Australian motel despite not being qualified to practice medicine. The unsanctioned surgery took place in May after a 52-year-old man posted an ad online seeking help for a medical issue, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The man was apparently still suffering after being kicked in the groin by a horse years earlier but couldn't afford an actual doctor. A week after Matthews allegedly removed the man's testicle, infection set in. The man went to the hospital, and the police launched an investigation. Authorities say a raid of Matthews' home last month turned up medical equipment, seven guns, and four bottles of what may be amyl nitrate. In addition to performing surgery without being a doctor, Matthews also pleaded guilty to gun and drug charges. He did not plead guilty to inflicting "reckless grievous bodily harm." AAP reports Matthews is out on bail until another hearing next month. (An Oregon man claimed surgery left him with an 80-pound scrotum.)
The deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain in a single week have led to a sharp increase in calls to suicide prevention hotlines. Publicity around the suicides of famous people has been linked to increases in suicide, and the phenomenon is nothing new: Marilyn Monroe’s death in August 1962 was followed by a 12 percent increase in suicides nationwide, and 303 more people died than in August of the previous year, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The thought of more people needing to call is upsetting, but at least indicates people are reaching out for help. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Also Read: What's the Future of CNN's 'Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown' After His Death? “We’ve definitely seen an uptick,” Lauren Foster, the executive director of HopeLine, a non-profit suicide hotline in Raleigh, North Carolina, told TheWrap. “We contacted our volunteers and made sure we had extra people on today.” Foster said the organization, which usually receives around 800 calls and texts a month, has already answered about 400 this month. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline, the largest in the country, told TheWrap it experienced a 25 percent increase in call volume over the past two days compared to the same time period last week. “The Lifeline phone number is being shared widely as a resource by the media and on social media platforms, resulting in more people being aware of the resource and calling the Lifeline to get help,” the hotline’s communications director, Frances Gonzalez, said. Also Read: Asia Argento 'Beyond Devastated' by Anthony Bourdain's Death: 'My Love, My Rock, My Protector' A third suicide hotline, REAL Crisis Intervention, which receives an average of 250 calls per day, had already fielded more than 200 calls by Friday afternoon. Last month was one of the busiest yet, with 8,146 calls — nearly 1,000 more than the month before. The death of Swedish DJ Avicii may have been a factor, Tracy Kennedy, the hotline’s assistant director, told TheWrap. Tuesday, the day Spade was found dead, was the busiest day of the year so far, with 333 calls. Kennedy said she also brought in extra staff on Friday. Foster said news of Bourdain’s death Friday led to fears of a “suicide contagion,” a phenomenon defined by the Department of Health and Human Services as an increase in suicides due to “the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one’s family, one’s peer group, or through media reports of suicide.” “When people who have suicidal thoughts see seemingly happy, famous and wealthy people dying of suicide, it makes them feel more hopeless,” Foster said. “They think if they died, what’s to stop me?” Also Read: CNN to Remember Anthony Bourdain With Tribute Specials This Weekend Robin Williams’ death by suicide in 2014 similarly caused a 10 percent increase in suicides in the five months after his passing, according to a recent study published in the journal, PLOS ONE. But increases in calls to suicide hotlines are positive, in that they indicate people are looking for help. “When someone we admire dies of suicide, it makes us reflect on our own lives and stresses,” Kennedy said, “and that helps people reach out, which is important.” If you or someone you care for needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24 hours a day, at 1-800-273-8255. ||||| CLOSE On average, there are 123 suicides per day in the United States. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. USA TODAY Anthony Bourdain speaks during South By Southwest at the Austin Convention Center on Sunday, March 13, 2016, in Austin, Texas. (Photo: Rich Fury, Invision via AP) The deaths of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade this week have led to an uptick in calls to suicide prevention hotlines. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline saw a 25% increase in volume over the last two days compared to the same time period last week, said Frances Gonzalez, director of communication for the Lifeline. Gonzalez said that since the 1-800-273-8255 phone number has been shared widely by the news organizations and on social media, more people are "calling the Lifeline to get help," Gonzalez said. "The Lifeline has been proven to de-escalate moments of crisis and help people find hope." The high-profile deaths has led to an increase of about 25% to 30% in inquiries to crisis lifelines and text services from those who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts as well as concerned loved ones, according to Dan Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE). “We’re so extremely busy. Every time we put down the phone another call comes in. We are glad people are reaching out who are in need though. That’s what we’re here for," said Rachel Larkin, director of crisis prevention at EveryMind, a nonprofit in Montgomery County, Md., that operates a suicide hotline. “I think we’re all worried and it’s been very, very busy. Both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are people a lot of people related to.” In New Jersey, the NJ Hopeline received 49 calls between 6 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Friday. That's a 70% increase from normal call volume, according to Ellen Lovejoy, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Health. "More people are calling out of concern about someone else. They are asking about warning signs and guidance on what to do," Lovejoy said. "Several callers specifically mentioned the news about Anthony Bourdain’s death." Bourdain, who was born in New York and raised in New Jersey, died Friday at age 61. CLOSE Anthony Bourdain's passion for food and travel inspired us to taste and see the world. The iconic chef, author and TV host was found dead of an apparent suicide in Strasbourg, France, where he’d been filming segments for his CNN show ‘Parts Unknown.' USA TODAY When asked if Reidenberg has seen a similar increase in calls following previous suicides of stars such as Robin Williams in 2014, "It's been even greater just this morning. From around the world I can see the level of interest and people wanting to help," he said. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found Thursday that suicide deaths in the United States have increased nearly 30% since 1999, putting a major spotlight on suicide prevention awareness among the American public. Reidenberg said that in times of tragedy, one of the main suicide prevention goals is to make sure that people have the right information as a means to prevent another death. "We need to have people understand that just because there was a high profile death by suicide it doesn’t mean it has to be your outcome, too," he said. More: Suicide warning signs: Here's what to look for when someone needs help Jane Pearson, chair of the Suicide Research Consortium at the National Institute on Mental Health, said that the suicide prevention community is on "high alert" with the close timing of the two celebrity deaths. "We’re concerned about how our crisis resources are responding," Pearson said. "We already know we could need more (prevention) resources." Reidenberg noted that despite the influx in volume of calls, people should know that if they reach out in a time of need that their calls will not go unanswered. "Everyone will get service. People are going to get help," Reidenberg said. "It may just take a little bit longer." In the case of celebrity deaths, those who identify with or admire that specific celebrity may also be at an increased risk for suicide. "When you’re talking about celebrity so many more people are going to know about that person, and that person is going to touch those peoples’ lives. Thus, more people are going to be affected," said Heather Senior Monroe, director of program development at Newport Academy, a rehabilitation center. Reidenberg encouraged those who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide or are impacted by the recent celebrity deaths to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or reach out to a local crisis center. "We know that one of the best ways to help in people feeling disconnected is allowing them to feel connection with other human beings," Monroe said. Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said that these are teachable moments to educate the public about prevention. "What we want to make sure is that people struggling identify with suicide prevention options rather than the people who have died by suicide," she said. That's why an uptick in calls to a suicide prevention hotline can be positive because it means that those individuals are "showing up wherever they need to show up to get some help," Harkavy-Friendman said. Harkavy-Friendman believes people can make it through moments of suicidal thoughts. "If you’re thinking about taking your life, don't." she said. "Take a moment and reach out to somebody." Read or Share this story: ||||| Follow CBSDFW.COM: Facebook | Twitter COLLIN COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – It will be a somber and tough day for students at Plano East Senior High School. Administrators, staff, teachers and students are all mourning the loss of two young women. Police think the girls both committed suicide over the weekend. As the Murphy Police Department continues to investigate the two deaths, grief counselors prepare to help students as they return to class. Those grief counselors will be at the school for the second day in a row. A district spokesperson says about 100 people, including students and families, were at the campus Sunday to get help from the counselors. According to police, family members found the body of 17-year-old Ritu Sachdeva at her home. Hours later, police found her classmate, Hillary Kate Kuizon. The body of that 17-year-old was found in a wooded area close to Kimbrough Stadium. According to investigators there was no evidence of foul play detected at either location. Police say the young women were friends, and those that knew them describe both girls as smart, beautiful and nice. Student Christian Lewis didn’t know the girl’e personally but said, “I’ve seen them probably a couple times in the past. They were good students, always on time, always kept their grades up.” Some students of campus said if there is anything good that can come out of the tragedies, it’s that maybe there will be more of an open dialogue when it comes to talking about suicide or suicidal thoughts. Student Praharsha Sunkara said, “I don’t know what the school can do, or anyone else can do to prevent stuff like this really. But I really think that just talking about it would help.” Murphy Police Chief Arthur Cotton issued a statement saying — “Our thoughts and prayers are with the two families. We are treating these two cases with the care and compassion they deserve, and will continue to seek answers for the families.” Police say they’re still trying to determine if the deaths are related, but at this point it’s not clear if there is a connection. The medical examiner will determine the exact cause of both deaths. Anyone contemplating suicide or is dealing with the suicide death of someone they know is encouraged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to talk with a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in their area. Call 800-273-TALK — that’s 800-273-8255. (©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
– Calls to suicide hotlines have spiked dramatically since the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain—not an unusual phenomenon in the wake of celebrity suicides. The Wall Street Journal reports on a 25% uptick at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) since Spade's death, while USA Today attributed a similar rise to both celebs, and a New Jersey hotline experienced a 70% increase in calls Friday morning. "We're so extremely busy," says Rachel Larkin, who heads a crisis-prevention center in Maryland. "I think we’re all worried. ... Both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are people a lot of people related to." Celebrity suicides have been linked to suicide increases before. Marilyn Monroe's 1962 death, for example, preceded a 12% spike in suicides nationwide, the Wrap reports. "When people who have suicidal thoughts see seemingly happy, famous and wealthy people dying of suicide, it makes them feel more hopeless," says Lauren Foster, who heads a hotline in Raleigh, North Carolina. "They think if they died, what’s to stop me?" But suicide-prevention advocates are emphasizing that hotlines do help and people's calls will go through, despite the surge this week. Check out Buzzfeed to learn what happens on hotline calls and see what resources are available.
A photo series on the popular Humans of New York Facebook page may have went viral and captured the nation’s attention last Tuesday, but for Daniel Kang, the post really hit home. When Kang, a junior studying computer science at the University of Michigan, heard that the refugee pictured and his family were relocating to his hometown of Troy, Mich., he said he knew he had to help. “I was really inspired by how intelligent he was and I knew a lot of people wanted to welcome him, so I thought, why not it be me?” he said. On the Humans of New York Facebook page with over 16 million likes — including comments from President Obama — the seven-part picture series’ captions detail one Syrian scientist and his family’s tale of loss after a missile strike destroyed their home, forcing them to to flee to Turkey, now with plans of coming to the United States. “Everything ended for us that day. That was our destiny. That was our share in life,” the scientist said. Battling stomach cancer, the loss of a home, career and seven family members, the man, whose name remains confidential to protect his identity as a refugee, expressed his hope for a new life in the United States. “I learned today that I’m going to Troy, Michigan,” he said. “I know nothing about it. I just hope that it’s safe and that it’s a place where they respect science. I just want to get back to work. I want to be a person again. I don’t want the world to think I’m over. I’m still here.” Knowing that refugees come to the United States with little more than they can carry, Kang quickly organized a crowdfunding campaign to help establish the man in his new home. In four days, the GoFundMe page has raised over $16K in donations from over 700 people. On Saturday afternoon, actor Edward Norton also began a fundraiser for the scientist, raising even more for the refugee who says he “just wants to be a person again.” “The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Kang. “A lot of people thanked me for doing a nice thing but I really feel like I was doing what anyone else would have done.” Kang said he’s received many messages from people expressing their gratitude, those who want to reach out to the man personally, as well local companies interested in working with the scientist. This includes invitations to lecture at local colleges, research job opportunities and potential help from local medical facilities in treating the man’s stomach cancer. “There’s definitely a lot of interest in helping him out,” he said. The biggest concern, said Kang, are those skeptical of how the money will reach the man. Kang, who has successfully crowdfunded in the past, is working closely with GoFundMe, the local refugee relocation agency Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, and is in communication with the Humans of New York staff to make sure all funding goes to the scientist. In the end, Kang said he just hopes the scientist receives the welcome he deserves. “If I could talk to him right now, I’d just tell him how sorry I am for everything he’s been through and that he’s coming to a great place. One of the things he said that resonated with me the most is that ‘I hope Troy is a place that appreciates science.’ I’d say out of all the cities in Michigan, Troy is the best place to raise a family, be a scientist and we can’t wait to have him.” Oona Goodin-Smith is a student at Oakland University and a member of the USA TODAY College contributor network. ||||| The actor's gesture follows his plagiarism of the graphic novelist, and his lifted apologies on Twitter from Alec Baldwin, Russell Crowe and others' infamous controversies. Shia LaBeouf is looking up to ensure he follows through on his New Year's resolution. ANALYSIS: In Defense of Shia LaBeouf The Charlie Countryman and Nymphomaniac actor -- who found himself in the middle of a plagiarism controversy when graphic novelist Daniel Clowes accused LaBeouf of borrowing shamelessly from his 2007 comic, Justin M. Damiano, for the short film Howard Cantour -- commissioned an apology to the artist written in the sky on New Year's Day. He had the words "I am sorry Daniel Clowes" displayed over the Los Angeles area Jan. 1, and tweeted a photo: CLOUD: - vapor floating in the atmosphere - remote servers used to SHARE DATA - to make LESS CLEAR or TRANSPARENT -- Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) January 1, 2014 The apologetic gesture seems to be original, as the actor has been ceaselessly tweeting remorseful reflections ever since the controversy first unfolded in mid-December. However, he began pasting excerpts of other famous apologies from the likes of former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, artist Shepard Fairey and Tiger Woods, to name a few, and was criticized for copying once again. From Mark Zuckerberg's open letter in 2006: I want to thank all of you who have written in and created groups and protested. Even though I wish I hadn't made so many of you angry. -- Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 19, 2013 From Russell Crowe's apology after tweeting comments on circumcision in 2011: Personal beliefs aside I realize, some will interpret this as me mocking the rituals and traditions of others, not the case, I am very sorry -- Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 26, 2013 From Alec Baldwin's statement on his homophobic comments in November: I did not intend to hurt or offend anyone with my choice of words, but clearly I have - and for that I am deeply sorry. Words are important. -- Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 20, 2013 On New Year's Eve, LeBeouf apologized for the lifted apologies, also saying that his 2014 resolution is to "work on being a less controversial tweeter." I am sorry for all the plagiarized tweets, they all were unintelligent, ambiguous and needlessly hurtful. -- Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 31, 2013 2014 Resolution - I need to work on being a less controversial tweeter. -- Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 31, 2013 You have my apologies for offending you for thinking I was being serious instead of accurately realizing I was mocking you. -- Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 31, 2013 Twitter: @cashleelee ||||| PLEASANTON, Calif. (CN) — A gag gift that a black employee did not find funny has landed a Bay Area construction company owner in court, for giving her a photo of himself dressed as Donald Trump in front of a Confederate flag, inside a rhinestone purse also emblazoned with the Stars and Bars. Tishay Wright sued Southland Construction Management and its supervisors and co-owners Kenneth and Anita Hayden on Thursday in Alameda County Court, on 12 causes of action, including racial discrimination and harassment, retaliation, assault and battery and wrongful firing. Wright, a project administrator at the Pleasanton business, says that Kenneth Hayden retaliated for her objecting to his calling her a “bitch�? by giving her a rhinestone purse at the company Christmas party, emblazoned with the Confederate flag. Inside the purse, she says, were photographs of Kenneth Hayden dressed as Trump, and his wife as a Trump supporter, both posing in front of Confederate flags hung above Wright’s desk. The slogans “The Southland Shall Rise Again�? and “Make Southland Great Again�? were written on the flags in capital letters. In one photograph, the gift purse hung from Anita Hayden’s shoulder. Wright “returned home in tears after opening the gift, horrified, humiliated and deeply fearful that the owners of Southland would go to these lengths to silence and intimidate her after her multiple complaints to management,�? she says in the complaint. Her “shock and horror over the purse and pictures depicting racist symbolism and a hostile potential violent message caused her to become increasingly nauseous and anxiety-ridden.�? Southland could not be reached for comment after business hours Thursday. Wright, who began working for Southland in 2015, says the Haydens used racist language openly and regularly around their employees, with “we’ll just make the Mexicans do it�? a common refrain. When the Haydens were unhappy with their work, they would say Mexicans are lazy and would work for beer, according to the complaint. Wright says Kenneth Hayden told a Sikh intern to “go get your people before they blow something up.�? Wright says the Haydens gave her the purse as payback after she complained to management that Kenneth Hayden had called her and another female employee into his office and told them: “Ya’ll are my bitches and you’re going to take notes for the smaller projects coming up.�? When she objected to the language, she says, Kenneth Hayden told her: “This is the way I talk and if you don’t like it and can’t work with me then you don’t have to.�? The Haydens then reduced her job responsibilities, taking her off a large project and effectively demoting her to a receptionist, she says. They fired her in March, she says, after she told Anita Hayden it was unacceptable to give a black employee the gifts they had given her. She seeks damages and punitive damages, for charges that include racial and gender harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is represented by Christopher Dolan in San Francisco, who could not be reached for comment after hours Thursday. Like this: Like Loading...
– Public apologies making headlines this week include a scientist and a senator trying to show how funny they are: Prize winner: "I'm really, really sorry I caused any offense, that's awful. I certainly didn't mean that. I just meant to be honest, actually."—Tim Hunt, Nobel-winning scientist, after he made light of "girls" working in labs. He added that it was a "stupid" thing to say in front of journalists, which is partly why a writer at the Washington Post calls this the "non-apology of the year." New name, please: "We are sorry that wording which could be considered offensive has been used, as this has not been our intention at all."—Lego, after it described a strange-looking new Lego model as a "window-licker," a derogatory term for people with learning disabilities. If it's on Facebook, it must be true: "I want to apologize as well to all our listeners for having made an erroneous statement. I am sorry for the mistake. However, I am glad to play a role in putting this rumor to rest."—Diane Rehm of NPR, after she informed Bernie Sanders that he had Israeli citizenship during an interview. He doesn't. She had seen it on Facebook. Unsportsmanslike: "We apologize to all fans watching the game on television, to both teams and to our guests from Italy for the Nazi symbol."—Tomislav Pacak, a Croatian Football Federation spokesman, referring to the faint but unmistakable imprint of a large swastika on a soccer field. He's a what? "(He) was joking with his colleague and immediately apologized to anyone offended by his remark."—Spokesperson for Sen. Mark Kirk, after he described his bachelor colleague Lindsey Graham as a "bro with no ho." (A Sun-Times columnist thinks he owes a specific apology to residents of Chicago's South Side.) All business: "Please accept the apologies from my previous letter, which should not have been sent."—Homeowners association in Brentwood, Tenn., after threatening to sue a family for putting up a wheelchair ramp. The homeowner, a pastor, just had brain surgery. The HOA had second thoughts when the story went public.
Education Secretary John King speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Photo: Susan Walsh, AP) U.S. Education Secretary John King is urging school districts nationwide to stop hitting and paddling students, saying corporal punishment is “harmful, ineffective, and often disproportionately applied to students of color and students with disabilities.” In a “dear colleague” letter being issued Tuesday, King asks educators to “eliminate this practice from your schools, and instead promote supportive, effective disciplinary measures. “The use of corporal punishment can hinder the creation of a positive school climate by focusing on punitive measures to address student misbehavior rather than positive behavioral interventions and supports,” King writes. “Corporal punishment also teaches students that physical force is an acceptable means of solving problems, undermining efforts to promote nonviolent techniques for conflict resolution." Recent research suggests that more than 160,000 children in 19 states are potential victims of corporal punishment in schools each year, with African-American children in a few southern school districts about 50% more likely than white students to be smacked or paddled by a school worker. The prevalence of corporal punishment in schools has been steadily dropping since the 1970s, according to findings published last month by the Society for Research in Child Development, a Washington, D.C.-based policy group. Half of states banned school corporal punishment between 1974 and 1994, but since then, researchers say, only a handful more states have followed suit. University of Texas researcher Elizabeth Gershoff and a colleague found that 19 states still allow public school personnel to use corporal punishment, from preschool to high school. The states are all in the south or west: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming. In his letter, King says that more than one-third of students subject to corporal punishment in schools during the 2013-2014 academic year were black, though black students make up just 16% of public school student population. He also notes that boys overall, as well as students with disabilities, were more likely to be punished physically: boys represented about 80% of corporal punishment victims, and in nearly all of the states where the practice is permitted, students with disabilities were subjected to corporal punishment at higher rates than students without them. “These data and disparities shock the conscience,” King wrote. Follow Greg Toppo on Twitter: @gtoppo Read or Share this story: ||||| BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Education Secretary John B. King Jr. is urging governors and school leaders in states that allow student paddling to end a practice he said would be considered “criminal assault or battery” against an adult. King released a letter Tuesday asking leaders to replace corporal punishment with less punitive, more supportive disciplinary practices that he said work better against bad behavior. More than 110,000 students, including disproportionate numbers of black and disabled students, were subjected to paddling or a similar punishment in the 2013-14 school year, said King, citing the Education Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection. Corporal punishment is legal in 22 states. “The practice has been clearly and repeatedly linked to negative health and academic outcomes for students,” King said during a conference call with reporters. “It is opposed by parent organizations, teachers unions, medical and mental health professionals and civil rights advocates as a wholly inappropriate means of school discipline.” Coming toward the end of President Obama’s term, the push to end corporal punishment builds on the administration’s “Rethink Discipline” campaign to create safe and supportive school climates, King said. It also lines up with Mr. Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, meant to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color, he said. Eighty organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, NAACP, Association of University Centers on Disabilities and American Federation of Teachers, signed an open letter released by the National Women’s Law Center supporting an end to the practice. Students are regularly paddled for minor or subjective infractions like dress code violations, cellphone use or disrespecting staff, the letter said. “Corporal punishment of adults has been banned in prisons and in military training facilities, and it’s time we do the same for our nation’s schoolchildren,” said Fatima Goss Graves of the Women’s Law Center. Although its use has been diminishing, there are corners of the country where corporal punishment remains deeply woven into culture and tradition. School administrators say it has broad support from parents and preserves learning time that would be lost to a suspension. Fifteen states expressly permit corporal punishment: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. In seven states, there is no state law prohibiting it. They are: Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire and South Dakota. “There are better, smarter ways to achieve safe and supportive school environment,” King said, adding that the education law passed late last year supports using funding for positive intervention and supports. President-elect Donald Trump has not yet announced his choice for education secretary. He met last week with Michelle Rhee, a former chancellor of the District of Columbia schools. “It doesn’t actually matter who the secretary of education is or what people’s view is about the election,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said on the call with King. “This is a moral matter. ... We must all be about safe and welcoming places for all students.” ||||| Breaking News Emails Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings. / Updated The indictment of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson for allegedly using a wooden "switch" to punish his 4-year-old son has put a spotlight on corporal punishment. Though on the downswing in the United States, physical discipline is still common in homes and schools and spanking, in particular, is widely supported. Here's a snapshot of the situation: AT HOME: Corporal punishment is technically legal in all 50 states. Statutes vary from state to state but generally say that the physical punishment must be reasonable or not excessive, although Delaware passed a law in 2012 that said it couldn't cause any injury or pain. Proposed legislative bans in several states have failed to pass, and courts have generally upheld parents' right to spank. This summer, New York's second highest court ruled that it was "reasonable use of force" for a father to use his open hand to hit an 8-year-old boy who had cursed. AT SCHOOL: Nineteen states allow corporal punishment in public and private schools. Federal data collected for 2009, the most recent available, estimates 184,527 students without disabilities were physically disciplined in schools across the country that year. The numbers reveal boys are more likely than girls to receive corporal punishment, and it was disproportionately applied to blacks. PUBLIC OPINION: A Harris poll last year found that 81 percent of Americans say parents spanking their children is sometimes appropriate, while 19 percent say it is never appropriate. Two-thirds of parents said they had spanked their children while a third said they had not. RESEARCH: Dozens of studies have examined the effect of corporal punishment or child abuse on behavior and mental health, with mixed results. A 2012 study published in the journal Pediatrics found harsh physical punishment such as pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, hitting in non-abusive households increased the odds a child would develop mood, anxiety or personality disorders and alcohol or drug addiction. IN-DEPTH —Tracy Connor
– Education Secretary John King has a message for states where physical discipline is permitted in schools, per USA Today: Quit it. In a letter to governors and state school chiefs, King says 22 states—mostly in the South and West—still allow corporal punishment or don't forbid it. He implores them to stop the "harmful" and "ineffective" practice, saying it teaches kids that getting physical is OK to solve problems. He also points out that some corporal punishment taking place in schools would be considered criminal assault or battery in real-world settings. About 80 groups—including the NAACP—lent their support to a similar letter penned Monday by the National Women's Law Center, reports CBS News. "Corporal punishment of adults has been banned in prisons and in military training facilities, and it's time we do the same for our nation's schoolchildren," an NWLC rep says. King also notes that physical punishment isn't applied equitably to all students. For example, even though black students make up about 16% of attendees in public elementary and secondary schools, they're on the receiving end of one-third of the corporal punishment. Boys are subjected to 80% of such acts, while students with disabilities also tend to be victims more so than other students. "These data and disparities shock the conscience," King writes. (Alabama paddled 19K students in one school year.)
Vantage Energy operates the natural gas drilling site on the grounds of Lake Arlington Baptist Church. (Photo: WFAA) ARLINGTON — Two months ago, 100 homes in Arlington had to be evacuated as fracking fluid spilled out of a drilling site onto the city streets. Now we know officially what happened, why it happened, and why Arlington officials are blaming the drilling company for "unacceptable behavior." A series of video recordings obtained by News 8 shows the scene behind the walls of a fracking site 600 feet from a cluster of homes in the state's seventh largest city. In the incident, 42,800 gallons of fracking fluid — boiling up from thousands of feet underground — spewed into the streets and into Arlington storm sewers and streams. WFAA obtained this video that shows a leak of fracking fluid from an Arlington drilling site (Photo: WFAA) Four attempts and 24 hours later, experts were finally able to plug the natural gas well. Nearby residents and Arlington officials feared the worst. Now, two months later, fire officials have concluded their investigation. "Clearly there was a release of unpermitted materials into the stormwater system," said Arlington Fire Chief Don Crowson as he addressed Arlington City Council members on Tuesday. The good news, according to Crowson: Despite numerous toxic substances being released into the environment, tests show it was not in amounts that did significant damage to the environment. The bad news? He said the drilling company mishandled the spill. "For my concerns, the main issue I articulated to you a few months ago was the delayed notification of 911," Crowson said. "It's not acceptable." According to the report, Vantage Energy first contacted 911 nearly two hours after fracking water first started to spill. What's more, the call to 911 came not from the site, but from corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania. "This is unacceptable behavior," said City Council member Robert Rivera. "The citizens of Arlington do not appreciate the lack of ability to control the site." LABC gas well leak (Photo: WFAA) The official causeof the spill at a site adjacent to Lake Arlington Baptist Church is listed as equipment failure. Vantage Energy was issued a citation and has agreed to reimburse the city $84,000. But this was not included in the city's report: Records uncovered by News 8 of another 1,500-gallon spill at the same site one month earlier. Despite numerous toxic substances being released into the environment, tests show it was not in amounts that did significant damage to the environment. Arlington Resident Kim Feil said the two incidents one month apart reinforce her fears that drilling so close to homes is not safe. "I just assumed this was a residential area and it would be free from industrial hazardous operations," Feil said. "Now we see it's not." In the meantime, drilling operations remain shut down and will not resume until the city does a final inspection and the folks across the street and those affected are given official notification. Read or Share this story: ||||| The Fire Department has taken a gas well operator to task and imposed rules to make sure a leak like the one that occurred in southwest Arlington on April 11 doesn’t happen again, top fire officials told the City Council at an afternoon work session Tuesday. A pipe sprung a softball-size hole at the Vantage Energy well site at 3016 Little Road, allowing nearly 43,000 gallons of fracking water and chemicals to gush into the city storm-water system and sparking fears that natural gas would follow, Assistant Fire Chief Jim Self said. More than 100 families living within 1/8 mile were evacuated as a precaution. “Some were displaced as long as 21 hours,” Self said. Never miss a local story. Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access. SUBSCRIBE NOW No gas leaked, but Vantage employees, trying to fix the problem themselves, waited two hours to call 911. “That’s unacceptable behavior,” Councilman Robert Rivera said. Self and Fire Chief Don Crowson assured the council that they have taken steps to clarify the city’s expectations in such emergencies. Step 1: Call 911 before doing anything else. “We’re not kidding around about the 911 issue,” Crowson said during a break. “It was a very serious situation. It could have ended in a bad outcome. Two hours’ advance notice could have helped alot. Luckily, we were prepared and we worked well with [Vantage], and we were able to resolve the issue.” The pipe began leaking about 1 p.m. It was carrying water and solvents that had been used, under high pressure, to fracture shale and release its natural gas. At any moment, the frack-water leak could have become a gas leak. Stopping the leak took almost 24 hours. City officials praised Vantage officials for their cooperation. City Manager Trey Yelverton said Vantage hasn’t been the only focus. The city’s expectations have been communicated to all drilling operators in Arlington. In other business, the council told parks officials to work both a senior center and a “multigenerational” activities center into the ongoing update of the parks master plan. Parks Director Lemuel Randolph estimated the senior center’s cost at $25 million and the all-ages facility at $40 million. He said the master plan was virtually finished in November when a new senior center became a priority. About 25 older residents in red T-shirts attended the afternoon session to lend silent support for a stand-alone senior center. Then at the evening council meeting, they weren’t so silent. Several walked to the lectern at the end of the meeting to lobby. Elva Roy, head of Age-Friendly Arlington Action Brigade, asked that the city dedicate the last quarter-cent available in the city sales tax to raising money for a senior center, and put the issue on the November election ballot. Seniors now use portions of two aging activities center, called Eunice and New York. The seniors want something like the Summit, the $23 million 50-and-over senior center in Grand Prairie that opened in 2010, Roy said. “When you walk into the Summit, it’s just so tranquil,” she said. ||||| Arlington fire officials indicated the site of a gas well that leaked thousands of gallons of fracking fluid back in April could be close to reopening. (Published Tuesday, June 16, 2015) An Arlington gas well site that leaked thousands of gallons of fracking fluid in April could soon resume drilling. All operations at Vantage Energy's Lake Arlington Baptist Church site along Little Road have been suspended since that leak occurred. The company said a well head component malfunctioned, causing a back flow of fracking fluid to spill out. No natural gas leaked from the well, but the incident forced dozens of families in the area to evacuate their homes. On Tuesday, Arlington Fire Chief Don Crowson gave the City Council an update on the cleanup efforts. 92-Year-Old Woman Arrested in Denton Fracking Protest A 92-year-old mother and son were the latest arrests in Denton’s fracking protests Tuesday; only that mother also happens to be a great grandmother. (Published Tuesday, June 16, 2015) ( Tue Jun 16 16:40:54 PDT 2015 $__output ) "I will give Vantage credit for this," said Crowson. "They've owned it. They've owned the responsibility for it." Through the course of their investigation, fire officials determined more than 42,000 gallons of fracking fluid escaped into the city's storm water system. They don't believe the city's water supply or the public are in any danger. "Arlington Environmental, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the EPA tested the water and soil samples in several locations and found pollutant material below levels that will require further remediation," said Assistant Fire Chief Jim Self. Crowson said Vantage has identified the faulty component that caused the well head to malfunction and has taken steps to fix the problem on that well and others. The company has also paid the city more than $82,000 to reimburse taxpayers for the response to the leak. That doesn't include additional fines Vantage had to pay for three citations the city issued following the incident. "Our relationship with Vantage has been very good historically," said Crowson. Crowson did not mince words, though, when he discussed Vantage's decision to wait nearly two hours before reporting the leak to 911. He called the company's actions "unacceptable" and said he's met with Vantage and other energy companies to make sure they understand that. "Call the fire department immediately," said Crowson. "That's been carefully and directly communicated." In an email to NBC 5, a spokesperson for Vantage said, "We've worked collaboratively with the fire department on revised notification procedures." Crowson said the site has to pass one last inspection before drilling can resume. When that happens, he said the public will be notified.
– A massive leak of fracking fluid poured into the streets of Arlington, Texas, two months ago and forced the evacuation of a hundred homes. Now city officials have taken Vantage Energy to task for its "unacceptable" handling of the 43,000-gallon spill, WFAA reports. During a city council meeting yesterday, it emerged that Vantage had taken nearly two hours to call 911 despite the risk of a gas leak. "This is unacceptable behavior," says an Arlington city council member. According to Fire Chief Don Crowson, the two-hour delay was no joke: "We’re not kidding around about the 911 issue," he tells the Star-Telegram during a break in city council. "It could have ended in a bad outcome. Two hours’ advance notice could have helped a lot." Still, officials say the environmental damage was not extensive and Vantage has been cooperative. So what happened, exactly? According to the city's report, a Vantage well site sprung a leak on April 11, which allowed fracking water and chemicals to boil up into Arlington's streets, storm sewers, and streams. Because the fracking fluid had been fracturing shale and freeing gas under high pressure, natural gas could have leaked at any time. Now WFAA says a 1,500-gallon spill occurred at the same location a month before, and NBC-Dallas/Fort Worth reports that the site is close to reopening. "I just assumed this was a residential area and it would be free from industrial hazardous operations," says a resident after hearing about the earlier spill. "Now we see it's not."
A woman said a man skipped out on a meal with her at an LA restaurant,; she later learned the same man had done this before, to at least two other women. (Source: KCAL/KCBS/CNN/social media photos/surveillance video stills) LOS ANGELES (KCAL/KCBS/CNN) - The dine-and-dash dater has struck again. A California woman came forward this week to say a man who’s been accused of dining and ditching on the bill with two other women also did it to her. As she scrolled through her text messages with Paul Gonzales, the woman, who asked to be identified as Beth, said she thought she was just going on a typical blind date. Gonzales asked if she was available for dinner over the weekend, and she said yes. Beth, who wanted to protect her identity, said she met Gonzales on the dating app Bumble. There, he called himself Dave Gonzales. He has since taken down his profile. She said when she met him at BJ’s in Pasadena, he ordered right away and after he scarfed down most of his meal, he got up. “Left maybe half a baked potato and then received a phone call and said, ‘Oh, I need to take this call. Make sure they don’t take the rest of my meal,'” Beth said of her date. But she said he never returned, leaving her with the bill. “I was shocked that anybody would do this. And I even texted him, ‘Is everything OK?’ And obviously he never responded,” she said. Beth said she went online and discovered previous stories about Gonzales - how he had dined and dashed last summer, leaving at least two other women with large bills. Police said he committed a snip-and-ditch when security video caught him leaving a Burbank hair salon with his smock on after getting a cut and color last year. Beth said the restaurant was nice enough to comp Gonzales’ meal. She only had to pay for his glass of wine. She now hopes this doesn’t happen again to another unsuspecting date. What she wants is “for him to stop doing this to people. It’s just disgusting.” Copyright 2017 KCAL/KCBS via CNN. All rights reserved. ||||| LONG BEACH ( — A second woman has come forward to tell the tale of a romantic date gone wrong when the man she met on social media dined, dashed and stiffed her with bill. KCAL9’s Andrea Fujii on Thursday talked to the woman who didn’t want to be identified. She had no problem identifying her date — Paul Gonzales. She said they met on a dating website in May. The plan was a romantic first date at a restaurant in Long Beach. “[He was] very complimentary, very chatty, seemed to have similar interests,” she said. The woman said things got weird when he ordered over $100 worth of food for himself. “This guy is obnoxious,” she thought. “First of all, who orders two entrees? But he excused it by saying he was a bodybuilder.” She said when she didn’t reciprocate his advances, he took off and left her holding the check. “He says ‘I’m going to the bathroom, I’ll be right back’ and he never did,” she said. The woman acknowledges she is very embarrassed but said she came forward after seeing another women tell her similar story on Wednesday evening on the KCAL9 News at 10 p.m. “He had an appetizer, he ordered a steak. This restaurant is all ala carte,” said Diane Guilmette. Police said the alleged dine-and-dasher also did the same thing to a Burbank hair salon in February. RELATED LINK: Police Look For Man Who Allegedly Committed ‘Snip And Ditch’ At Hair Salon Security video allegedly caught Gonzales walking out of the salon still wearing his smock. Police told Fujii he was arrested on July 23 in that incident but it’s not clear if he’s still behind bars. The LA County DA’s Office says they have two pending petty-theft cases against him. The women he dashed out on in May said she didn’t file a police report but now says she will. “So, now is my retribution time,” she said. Fujii reports that since our story aired Wednesday evening, she also heard from another Burbank hair salon that said Gonzales skipped out on his bill. She said she tried reaching out to Gonzales via Facebook, but as of Thursday had not heard back. ||||| Photo: Roy Hsu In the low-down world of dining and dashing, there are classy thieves and then there are people like Paul Gonzales, an alleged “serial” check-skipper from L.A., whose method involves setting up a dinner date, then ditching the woman before the check arrives. CBS Los Angeles reports that his latest victim is a Bumble match he invited to the local BJ’s brewhouse, where he ordered a steak, a Caesar salad with a side of shrimp, a baked potato, and a glass of wine. Once he’d worked his way through most of that haul (“he left maybe half a baked potato,” the woman says), he said he needed to take a phone call. That’s the last anyone at the restaurant saw of Paul Gonzales. He’s reportedly swindled at least two other women with this same trick. One of them says he showed up “very complimentary” at a “romantic” restaurant in Long Beach, but things got weird really fast: He ordered more than $100 worth of food, including an extra entrée he claimed was necessary because he’s “a bodybuilder.” On that occasion, he disappeared during an alleged bathroom trip. Not surprisingly at all, Gonzales has a police record with multiple misdemeanors, two warrants out for his arrest, and once even committed something called a “snip and ditch,” which involved him fleeing a hair salon still wearing a smock. Amazingly, when it comes to online dating, women can somehow still do worse.
– Paul Gonzales' approach to dating is similar to that of many men. He meets women online and invites them out to dinner. But here's where he allegedly diverges: According to CBS Los Angeles, 44-year-old Gonzales has been dining and dashing at area restaurants, leaving behind unsuspecting women he's asked out on blind dates. CBS reported in August that Gonzales had left two women to pay the bill after walking out on restaurant dates last summer. One of the women described how he'd eaten $100 worth of food at a restaurant in Long Beach—explaining he had to order two entrees because he's a bodybuilder—before saying he was going to the bathroom. She never saw him again. Now, the man Grub Street identifies as perhaps "the world's worst dinner date" appears to have struck again. A woman, identified by WTOL as Beth, says she met "Dave Gonzales" on Bumble before agreeing to dinner at a restaurant in Pasadena. Gonzales ordered "a glass of pinot, a Caesar salad with a side of shrimp, a steak, and a baked potato" and ate most of the meal before excusing himself to take a phone call, Beth says. He never returned, a text went unanswered, and his Bumble profile was later removed, adds Beth, who soon after learned of Gonzales' alleged notoriety. She says she wants his "disgusting" ruse to stop. According to police, Gonzales has also walked out of a salon, still clad in a smock, without paying for a haircut and color. He's wanted on two bench warrants as a result of misdemeanor charges, including petty theft. (This blind date was more shocking.)
WTF?! Howard Stern recently completed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and shared a video of the do-gooder act on YouTube. While Stern doing the bone-chilling charitable act is nothing out of the ordinary, you may be scratching your head when you hear who he nominates to undertake the challenge next. "Hey everybody, it's Howard Stern ready to take the Ice Bucket Challenge," a shirtless Stern says in the video. "I'm accepting the challenge of...who challenged me? Matt Lauer and Jennifer Aniston." ||||| After both Jennifer Aniston and Matt Lauer nominated him, Howard Stern finally accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge - and you won't believe who he nominated! Remember, all this ice bucket nonsense is for a good cause - donate to the ALS Association and help Strike Out ALS! And watch Beth Stern take the ice bucket challenge too! ||||| 1 year ago (CNN) - Former President George W. Bush took the ice bucket challenge, and is now challenging his predecessor in the White House to follow in his footsteps. In a video posted on his Facebook page, Bush takes a soaking from his wife, former First Lady Laura Bush, and then nominates former President Bill Clinton to take the challenge. Follow @politicalticker The challenge is raging this summer on social media, as people get doused with a bucket of ice water in order to bring awareness – and raise money – to combat amyotropic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. Politicians get soaked $15 million pours in from ice bucket challenge "Thanks to Jenna Bush Hager, Rory McIlroy, Woody Johnson, and Coach Jim Harbaugh for the #IceBucketChallenge," wrote Bush on his Facebook page. In the video, Bush said "to you all who've challenged me, I do not think it's presidential for me to be splashed with ice water, so I'm simply going to write you a check.” Moments later, after she pours a bucket of ice water on top of her husband, the former first lady said "that check is from me. I don't want to ruin my hairstyle." Bush then called on Clinton to get wet, saying, "Now it's my privilege to challenge my friend Bill Clinton to the ALS challenge. Yesterday was Bill's birthday and my gift to Bill is a bucket of cold water." Celebs embrace ice bucket challenge Bush's successor in the White House so far has decided to stay dry. President Barack Obama has declined to take the challenge, but instead has made a donation to an ALS charity, according to the White House. Bush's chilly dunking was arranged, in part, by his daughter Jenna Bush Hager, an NBC "Today" show correspondent.
– Howard Stern has nominated an interesting trio to complete the ice bucket challenge after him. Trouble is, one of them is dead, reports E! Online. In a bizarre video posted to YouTube yesterday, a bare-chested Stern plops an ice cube into a shot glass of water, then pours it over his head, immediately succumbing to mock shivers before hopping off camera. But first he challenges the very much alive Barbara Walters and Mark Consuelos, plus the quite dead Casey Kasem, to douse themselves with ice water next. Stern is aware of Kasem's death at age 82, E! notes, as he's discussed it on his radio show.
A judge has agreed to step down from a case after complaining his luggage had gone missing during a BA flight while he was presiding over an unrelated dispute involving the same airline. Mr Justice Peter Smith, one of the country’s most senior judges, withdrew from the £3 billion case amid accusations of bias, after he raised the matter of his missing luggage in his own court room. A new judge will now be appointed to preside over the case, over a European Commission ruling that BA was guilty of colluding to fix air cargo charges. The High Court judge was hearing a dispute involving BA, tens of thousands of firms and 30 other airlines, which dates back to 2006, By coincide he had sent emails to BA’s chairman using his judicial title after his baggage went missing on a recent trip to Italy, in which he accused airline staff of deliberately leaving behind all the plane’s luggage and deceiving passengers. The judge’s bags ‘spontaneously’ turned up at his home last week. But Mr Justice Smith went on to raise the matter in court, threatening to order BA’s chief executive to appear in front of him to explain how a whole aeroplane’s luggage could go missing He told BA’s legal team, led by Jon Turner QC: “Right, Mr Turner, here is a question for you: what happened to [the] luggage?” But when the barrister replied that they were not dealing with that issue Mr Justice Smith persisted with his line of questioning, saying: “I am asking you – what has happened to the luggage?” Mr Turner again declined to address his request, at which point Mr Justice Smith warned: “In that case, do you want me to order your chief executive to appear before me today?” Despite being told it would not be appropriate to discuss a personal dispute, the judge persisted: “What is inappropriate is the continued failure of your clients to explain a simple question, namely, what happened to the luggage? It has been two weeks since that happened.” He added: “I do not believe for a minute that the reasonably-minded observer would think that merely because I had raised issues about the non-delivery of my luggage, that it should raise the possibility of bias.” But when BA’s legal team applied for the judge to stand aside Mr Justice Smith he agreed. One of the legal circuit’s more colourful characters Mr Justice Smith once hid a message in a High Court judgment relating to the Da Vinci Code copyright trial. In 2006, he ruled in favour of the novel’s author, Dan Brown, after rival authors Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh sued publisher Random House, claiming he had stolen their ideas. Italicised letters in the first seven paragraphs of the judgment spelt out ‘Smithy Code’ in a reference to his own name. Other apparently randomly italicised letters read: “Jackie Fisher, who are you? Dreadnought”. This appeared to relate to one of the judge’s own interests – Admiral Lord Fisher, who designed the battleship HMS Dreadnought. It was thought to be the first time that a message had been hidden in a formal High Court judgment. Mr Justice Smith refused to confirm that the letters were a code at the time, saying only: “They don't look like typos, do they? I can't discuss the judgment, but I don't see why a judgment should not be a matter of fun.” In May this year Mr Justice Smith blamed a father for the horrific injuries that led to the death of the man's baby daughter, even though the man was cleared by a jury. He lifted the normal anonymity rules that apply to family court judgments to name Martin Thomas, 30, as responsible for brutal attacks on four-month-old Evie Thomas from Wigan, Greater Manchester. The judge said the law would be “a screen to hide the truth” if the father was allowed to remain unnamed. In 2010 Mr Justice Smith was due to oversee a £100million trial over the controversial Chelsea Barracks development, but was replaced at the last moment after reportedly upsetting the Qatari royal family. He had overseen the pre-trial hearings involving Qatari Diar, the property arm of the Qatari royal family, which was sued by Christian Candy, a London property tycoon, for breach of contract. But the Qataris were said to be upset when a number of decisions went against them. It was later ruled that the royal family's property company had breached its contract when it withdrew a planning application for the £3bn Chelsea barracks development after the intervention of Prince Charles. ||||| The behaviour of Mr Justice Peter Smith, who reluctantly agreed to step aside from the case last week after BA’s lawyers complained of “a real risk of bias”, has now been revealed in full after a transcript of the court exchanges was posted online. The document, which The Independent has confirmed is accurate, shows how the judge subjected the airline’s legal counsel Jon Turner QC to a barrage of questions about the whereabouts of his luggage, which had been mislaid during a trip to Florence with his wife. “Right, Mr Turner, here is a question for you. What happened to [the] luggage?” the judge asks a few minutes into the hearing. When the QC replies that his clients do not want to get involved in the issue, he shoots back: “In that case, do you want me to order your chief executive to appear before me today?” Justice Peter Smith emailed the BA chairman personally to complain about his lost luggage. File photo (Getty) After Mr Turner delicately suggests that doing so would be “an inappropriate mixture of a personal dispute” with the multi-billion pound case, the judge cuts him off. “What is inappropriate is the continued failure of your clients to explain a simple question: namely, what happened to the luggage? It has been two weeks since that happened now,” he says. A lengthy debate follows, culminating in Mr Justice Smith darkly suggesting that BA is fighting to have him recused because the airline is worried that the case is not going in its favour. “The next judge might not be on your solicitors’ acceptable judge list,” he says. After a break in which Mr Turner contacts his instructing solicitor – before regretfully informing the judge that “she does not know what has happened to your luggage” – Mr Justice Smith says he has “no alternative” but to recuse himself. A spokesman for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office, which handles complaints about the judiciary, said that Sir Peter was being “investigated under the conduct regulations”. Mrs Justice Vivien Rose has been appointed to hear the case in his place. The remarkable courtroom exchanges took place during one of the biggest competition battles to reach the UK courts. The case stems from a European Commission ruling that BA and a number of other airlines colluded to fix air cargo charges, with the firms now being sued by hundreds of companies for losses and damages. Will Gant, a reporter for the specialist legal magazine PaRR, witnessed the judge’s outburst. “I’ve been a court journalist for several years, and must have seen thousands of hearings, but frankly I was absolutely blown away by the unprofessional attitude that Mr Justice Peter Smith displayed at this one,” he told The Independent. “The room was packed with dozens of lawyers, and two or three reporters from specialist legal publications, and as this unfolded we all silently exchanged looks of complete amazement. I’ve never seen a judge allow their personal life to affect their work like this, and it was sad to watch. It was an embarrassment to British justice.” Another source familiar with the case added: “Frankly, it’s the sort of thing you might expect in other areas of the world, but not here.” In a parting shot, Mr Justice Smith then used a written judgment to chastise BA still further, suggesting that his luggage and that of his fellow passengers had been “deliberately bumped off for a more profitable cargo”. He had emailed BA’s chairman, Keith Williams, because he felt the incident “might be something that is strikingly similar to some of the allegations in this case”, he wrote. He continued: “I do not believe for one minute that the reasonably minded observer…would think that merely because I have raised issues over the non delivery of my luggage of itself should lead to the possibility of bias.” He also warned BA that he would continue his investigation into what happened to the bags “in a private capacity” and “with the vigour for which I am known”. Both British Airways and its legal advisers, Slaughter & May, declined to comment. Court records: Out of order According to a transcript, Mr Justice Peter Smith repeatedly harangued the British Airways barrister Jon Turner QC about what happened to his missing luggage. Here are some edited extracts: Mr Justice Peter Smith: Right, Mr Turner, here is a question for you. What happened to [the] luggage? Jon Turner: My Lord, the position remains that set out in the letter from Slaughter and May of 15 July, that we are not dealing with that as parties in these proceedings. PS: I am asking you: what has happened to the luggage? JT: My Lord, so far as the parties to these proceedings … are concerned, we have said, and we maintain, that we are not getting involved because we trust that that will be dealt with expeditiously, in the ordinary course of events. PS: In that case, do you want me to order your chief executive to appear before me today? JT: I do not wish your Lordship to do that; and I would say, if your Lordship will permit me to develop my submissions, that that would be an inappropriate mixture of a personal dispute ... PS: What is inappropriate is the continued failure of your clients to explain a simple question, namely, what happened to the luggage? It has been two weeks since that happened now.... JT: Our position, my Lord, is that where your Lordship initiates a personal dispute with British Airways… PS: I didn’t initiate a personal dispute. BA’s associated company retained my luggage. It is not my fault that that happened. I am the victim. I read the whole of your correspondence. The more I read it, I got the impression that BA was trying to portray itself of the victim of this case and being oppressed by wicked Mr Justice Peter Smith. It is just ridiculous... PS: As far as I am concerned, the key fact in this case is: what happened to the luggage; and your clients know what happened to the luggage and they are not telling me. And your solicitors and you are deliberately not asking... PS: If there is a perfectly understandable operational reason as to why the whole of the flight’s luggage was left behind in Florence ... then I will accept that. That has been my stance ever since I contacted the chairman. I contacted the chairman because the BA helpline is misdescribed. Because when I contacted them, they said, “It is nothing to do with us, it is down to Vueling [BA’s Spanish partner airline]”, despite the fact that I booked my flight with BA and BA took my money. The Vueling helpline was even worse. They couldn’t even tell me where the luggage was till it, without warning, spontaneously arrived at my house last Thursday. In those circumstances, I went to the BA website and the BA website says the chairman is anxious to have comments from customers, and there is his email address, so I sent him an email. Apparently he likes reading customers’ emails. It doesn’t appear to be necessarily he does anything about it, but he obviously likes reading them over his breakfast... PS: BA as a group, as a company in a group, clearly know what happened to the luggage, because ... they cannot have accidentally left the whole of the flight’s luggage off the plane, can they? I mean, I am intrigued. It might be for some reason they only had three gallons of fuel in the plane, it would run out unless they took everything off, which is a bit difficult because the plane was actually being refuelled when we got there. But equally, it is impossible to believe that the pilot, who has to sign the documentation as to what is the weight and composition of the weight in the plane, did not know that his hold was empty; and it is equally impossible for the ground staff not to know that the luggage was not there. These are things which, I accept, I am struggling to find a rational explanation for. ||||| What appears to be court stenographer’s note appears online after Mr Justice Peter Smith stands up for airline passengers everywhere A document appearing to be the full transcript of a judge’s bench badgering of British Airways over his lost luggage has emerged. Fleet Street last week cast the Chancery Court’s Mr Justice Peter Smith — whom The Times newspaper described as “one of the legal profession’s more colourful figures” — as the common air travellers hero after he castigated lawyers for the “world’s favourite airline”. But the bench-slapping had nothing to do with their submissions in the £3 billion lawsuit Smith was hearing — a spat in which BA was accused of colluding to fix air cargo charges. Instead it related to an entirely unrelated incident which had seen Smith’s luggage go missing on a BA flight during a recent trip to Italy. Legal Cheek cannot verify the authenticity of the document that is doing the rounds of legal London. However, it appears to be a comprehensive transcript of the court stenographer’s note. Emerald Supplies Ltd v British Airways Taking the brunt of Smith’s ire was Jon Turner, a silk of nine years’ standing from Monkton Chambers in Gray’s Inn. As BA’s lead counsel on the day, Turner came in for repeated questioning regarding the loss of Smith’s luggage during his recent trip Florence. At one stage the judge threatened to haul BA’s pugnacious Irish chief executive, Willie Walsh, before the court to answer some pretty searching questions on the missing luggage front. Sadly that didn’t happen, as it would have been one hell of a bout. Now, Smith is no stranger to courtroom antics. The judge once famously inserted his own coded message into a judgment he handed down on a copyright case concerning best-selling thriller novel “The Da Vince Code”. In the most recent case, according to the transcript, Smith repeatedly cross-examined BA’s lawyers about the lost luggage, while, in turn, they desperately tried to bring the proceedings back to the matter of the trial. In the end, frustrated lawyers, who included the airline’s law firm, Slaughter and May (whose partners presumably know a thing or two about international holiday travel), applied for Smith to recuse himself. The grounds were clear: anyone so arsed off with one of the litigants — no matter how legitimately in a customer service context — would not be able to hear case impartially. Smith adamantly disagreed, but he stood down nonetheless. He didn’t go quietly, telling the court: I do not believe for one minute that the reasonably minded observer … would think that merely because I have raised issues over the non-delivery of my luggage of itself should lead to the possibility of bias. I believe a reasonably minded observer would see a judge with a problem trying to resolve that issue and finding the parting question being obstructive and unwilling to address the issue and find a solution. A simple dispute as to the luggage cannot possible be grounds for recusal. However, BA and its solicitors have simply escalated the problem almost immediately. Nonetheless, Smith saw the writing on the wall in terms of public perception: I however cannot allow my presence in the case and its difficulties to distract the parties from this case. And therefore, regretfully, I feel that I have no choice, whatever my feelings about it, but to recuse myself from the case … BA’s legal team will be relieved. The rest of us will still shed a tiny tear as the case of Emerald Supplies Ltd v British Airways is destined to be a damn sight less entertaining than it was a week ago. Read the judgment in full below: Emerald Supplies Ltd v British Airways
– Anyone whose luggage has been lost by an airline now has a patron saint in the form of Justice Peter Smith in Britain. When lawyers for British Airways showed up in his court to argue a $4.6 billion price-fixing case, Smith had smaller fish to fry: He wanted to know why the airline lost his luggage on a recent trip to Italy, reports the Legal Cheek blog. The questioning of BA counsel Jon Turner is priceless, as relayed by the Independent: "Mr Turner, here is a question for you. What happened to [the] luggage?” When Turner replies that they're actually in court for a different matter, Smith won't be put off: “In that case, do you want me to order your chief executive to appear before me today?” Turner again tries to deflect the questioning, but Smith responds, “What is inappropriate is the continued failure of your clients to explain a simple question: namely, what happened to the luggage? It has been two weeks since that happened now." This goes on for a while, and the BA lawyers ask Smith to recuse himself from the case they're supposed to be arguing because he's biased. Smith reluctantly agrees to do so. Entertaining yes, but whether it was good judgeship remains to be seen—the Times of London reports that judicial conduct authorities are investigating. The same judge once inserted a secret message ("Smithy Code") into his ruling in a copyright case involving the Da Vinci Code, notes the Telegraph. (If you'd like to be berated by an American judge, try this.)
Slideshow: Tornadoes ravage Plains Sue Ogrocki / AP A monster tornado hit Moore, Okla., Monday afternoon, leaving scores dead as the threat for more storms continues. Launch slideshow About 9.5 million people remained under the threat of more "large and devastating" tornadoes Tuesday as the storm system that devastated the suburbs of Oklahoma City moved east, forecasters warned. Weather Channel meteorologist Kevin Roth said early Tuesday that the threat area appeared to be east and south of Oklahoma City. "Tornadoes, damaging wind gusts and large hail are possible throughout the threat area," Roth said. More from The greatest tornado threat will exist in northeast Texas, far southeast Oklahoma, southwest Arkansas and northwest Louisiana. A few strong tornadoes are possible in those states. On Tuesday afternoon The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Bowie County, Texas, which borders Arkansas in the northeast part of the state. Michael Welch captures dramatic video of twister from a KFC parking lot in Newcastle, Oklahoma. Roth said that cities including Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Shreveport, Texarkana and Little Rock were among the cities "close to the the larger tornado threat." A tornado watch was issued for Dallas-Fort Worth as well as all of north and central Texas until 8 p.m. ET. The Dallas zoo closed Tuesday afternoon due to the forecast. Strong wind gusts have been reported in the area but so far no tornadoes. Areas of Arkansas were under a tornado watch until 11 p.m. ET. "Another day of large and devastating tornadoes is possible this time from central/east Texas into central Arkansas," Roth said. "Severe threat continues farther to the east Wednesday, although the overall severity appears to be lower." Weather Channel forecaster Bill Karins told MSNBC that 9.5 million people lived in the area at most risk of more tornadoes. He said the likely pattern for twisters was the same as in recent days, with the biggest risk being in the late afternoon. The National Weather Service said storms were expected Tuesday "from the Great Lakes across the Mississippi River Valley and into central Texas." The agency issued a tornado watch late Monday for portions of east central Illinois, western and central Indiana, western Kentucky and southeast Missouri. The watch was in effect until 5 a.m. local time (6 a.m. ET). According to Roth, severe storms appeared possible from southeast New York to east Maryland on Thursday. He added: "An early look at Memorial Day Weekend shows that most of the country should be quiet. The stormiest weather appears to be across the Plains and Midwest with scattered showers and thunderstorms." Related: NBC's Andrew Rafferty contributed to this report This story was originally published on ||||| (CNN) -- The storm system behind Monday's Oklahoma twister brought strong rainstorms to parts of the South on Tuesday evening before heading toward the Great Lakes and the Tennessee Valley. Tornado watches continued for portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. Those watches were set to expire by 10 p.m. CT Tuesday. What to know about tornadoes The threat of a few strong tornadoes, large hail and thunderstorm wind gusts remained in northeastern Texas, southwestern Arkansas, extreme southeastern Oklahoma and northwestern Louisiana, CNN Meteorologist Sean Morris said. "The threat for strong tornadoes will rapidly diminish in these areas after sunset, with the main threat becoming damaging straight line winds during the overnight hours," Morris said. "Isolated tornadoes will still be possible." Rainstorms pushed through the Dallas area on Tuesday afternoon. A ground stop at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport was later lifted. Storms are expected to move east on Wednesday and will extend from the Great Lakes south-southwestward into the Ohio River Valley and into the Deep South. Primary threats will be damaging winds and large hail, according to the National Weather Service. Isolated tornadoes also will be possible. Storms weren't restricted to the Great Plains and Midwest. The National Weather Service said weather spotters on Tuesday afternoon reported a possible tornado near Copake, New York, near the Massachusetts border. Track the severe weather Mobile tools to help you survive tornado season 10 deadliest U.S. tornadoes on record ||||| CHICAGO (Reuters) - A wide area of the central and southeast United States faces the unusual threat of tornadoes in January over the next 12 to 18 hours as an approaching cold front clashes with unusually warm air, a meteorologist said on Tuesday. The first tornado warning of the approaching storm was issued for western Missouri, said meteorologist Bill Bunting at the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. A warning is intended to signal residents to take cover because a tornado could be forming. A less urgent tornado watch is in effect for a region from extreme northeast Texas through virtually all of Arkansas, western Tennessee and extreme southern Illinois. "It's a little unusual," Bunting said of the tornado threat. "We don't see this every winter with this kind of warmth preceding a storm system." Bunting said a lesser threat of severe storms and possible tornadoes extends over a huge area as far north as Chicago and extending east to Cincinnati, Ohio, and Nashville, Tennessee, and south into Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. "This weather system will reach its peak intensity this afternoon into the evening. It will only get stronger and cover a larger area over the next 12 to 18 hours," he said. In Arkansas, forecasters predicted winds of up to 80 miles per hour (129 km per hour) and possible tornadoes throughout the state on Tuesday night. The National Weather Service made a special release of weather balloons in Arkansas on Tuesday because of the threat. A strong line of storms, including possible tornadoes, had left more than 11,000 customers without power in Arkansas by Tuesday night. Strong winds downed trees and lightning strikes may have started fires in Monticello, a town of 9,500 in southeast Arkansas, according to a police dispatcher. The National Weather Service reported two possible tornadoes in Missouri and Arkansas, though neither had apparently caused any significant damage. The tornado threat was the latest development in a turbulent weather pattern. Several cities set records for warmth on Monday and a few more record high temperatures were expected on Tuesday, although there were more clouds overhead to moderate temperature, Bunting said. The high reached 74 Fahrenheit (23 Celsius) in Kansas City on Monday, encouraging residents to go outside for a winter round of golf or to a park wearing shorts and flip-flops. By midmorning on Tuesday, the temperature had fallen to 43F in Kansas City and was expected to fall to 28F overnight with a chance of snow. The temperature was 61F as far north as Chicago on Tuesday and the warmth extended into Indiana. "The tornado and damaging wind threat will continue well after dark tonight," Bunting said, adding that people should be aware of the weather and monitor media reports. Tornadoes are most dangerous after dark when residents are sometimes unable to see the approaching storm in time to take cover. (Reporting by Greg McCune; Additional reporting by Suzi Parker in Little Rock and Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz and Lisa Shumaker)
– The tornado threat isn't over: "Large and devastating" storms could continue today, forecasters say. "We could have a Round 3," says a CNN meteorologist. "Hopefully, it won't be as bad." But "tornadoes, damaging wind gusts, and large hail" could hit areas east and south of Oklahoma City, with cities from Dallas to Little Rock also at risk, says a Weather Channel forecaster. Some 9.5 million people could face further major tornadoes, a forecaster tells MSNBC, while CNN says 53 million could see severe weather today. Areas from Dallas to Shreveport face the biggest danger "from mid-afternoon to late evening hours," says another CNN expert. Storms could also strike "from the Great Lakes across the Mississippi River Valley and into central Texas," according to the National Weather Service. The threat moves further eastward tomorrow, "although the overall severity appears to be lower," adds a Weather Channel expert. Click for more.
People gather at makeshift memorial at a tour bus stop in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct 25, 2016. The tread on four of the eight tires on a tour bus that slammed into a truck and killed 13 people on Interstate... (Associated Press) People gather at makeshift memorial at a tour bus stop in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct 25, 2016. The tread on four of the eight tires on a tour bus that slammed into a truck and killed 13 people on Interstate 10 were below government standards, an official said Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, though the cause... (Associated Press) LOS ANGELES (AP) — The treads on half the tires of a tour bus that slammed into a tractor-trailer on a desert freeway, killing 13 people, were worn down to an unsafe level, a federal investigator said as authorities worked to determine the cause of one of California's deadliest highway crashes. The condition of the four faulty tires meant the 1996 bus was out of compliance with federal standards and could have been taken out of service, Earl Weener, a board member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said at a news conference Tuesday in Palm Desert, near the site of Sunday's crash that also injured 31 people on Interstate 10. Despite the discovery, the cause of the crash remained undetermined and the NTSB was expected to take about a year to complete its investigation. The California Highway Patrol has said there was no indication that the driver, Teodulo Elias Vides, applied his brakes before hitting the truck that was going about 5 mph because of utility work being done in the area. The bus was traveling at freeway speed, officials said. Vides was among those killed in the crash. Records kept by the CHP show that USA Holiday had been deemed unsatisfactory on several levels in the past, though it had not received that rating since 2010, when an unnamed company driver received an "unsatisfactory" rating overall and in relation to "controlled substance and alcohol testing results," the records show. An unsatisfactory rating could be a paperwork issue or a genuine safety concern, and because the CHP only retains records for four years, none of the original reports from 2010 and before on USA Holiday still exist, the agency said. Vides' overall inspection record was not alarming, a top CHP safety manager told The Associated Press. "This is not out of the norm. Commercial motor vehicle operation and the requirements that go along with that are complex and extensive," said Cullen Sisskind, manager of the CHP's motor carrier safety program. USA Holiday had past problems but then appears to have self-corrected "and has had a very good record" over the past few years, Sisskind said. From 2005 through 2008, the company received a cluster of unsatisfactory ratings for maintenance, equipment and issues involving a driver. In 2011, Vides was pulled over for going more than 80 mph in a 70 mph zone a few miles from the site where the crash occurred Sunday. He was also cited for driving with a suspended license but the charge was dropped when Vides later produced a valid license, according to court records. Vides, who is listed as the company's only driver in federal and state records, liked to joke with customers and playfully urged them during gambling excursions to casinos o save enough money for hamburgers, said Alba Martinez, a former customer. He told customers in Spanish as they returned to Los Angeles at sunrise from their weekend jaunts, "We've arrived at reality." Martinez, 43, once asked Vides why he joked with his customers and he replied: "It's so they have some fun." Martinez's friend, Dora Galvez de Rodriguez, was among the dead. On Tuesday, the CHP identified the 13th fatality — 50-year-old Tony Mai of Los Angeles. Rosa Ruiz was returning from her second bus trip to a casino within a 24-hour period when she was killed in Sunday's early morning crash, her daughter said. Jenny Ruiz said she last saw her mother on Friday evening before she boarded a bus for the Pala Casino, about 2 1/2 hours away in San Diego County. Before she left her apartment in Los Angeles for the evening, Ruiz turned to her daughter and asked as she often would "do I look pretty?" "You look gorgeous," Jenny Ruiz said she told her. "You're the most beautiful person in the world." A dozen people who had ridden with Vides gathered to share memories of those who had died and to leave candles, flowers and memories at a makeshift memorial on a street corner in Los Angeles where casino-bound passengers regularly boarded the bus with Vides. Tony Arceo, 31, said he was lucky his parents were sitting in the back of the bus when it crashed on Sunday. His mother, a candy factory worker, broke her jaw in three places after she was trapped beneath another passenger. His father, a retired car wash worker, was pinned between two seats. "I'm glad they're alive," said Arceo, who brought a candle. Elena Castillo, 68, said she began traveling with Vides in 2000 and recalled how the driver would chat with passengers sitting up front. She said he was friendly and took his work seriously. She remembered him offering her words of comfort when she was going through a divorce. Blanca Lopez said she had gone to gamble at another Southern California casino on Friday night and was headed out again Saturday with Vides' group when her sister stopped her, saying she was only going to lose more money. "I was going with my purse, and I just stayed, sitting on the couch," said Lopez, 70, a retired seamstress originally from El Salvador. "I would have died." ___ Associated Press writers Justin Pritchard in Los Angeles and Julie Watson in San Diego contributed to this report. Spagat reported from San Diego. ||||| Updates with name of 13th victim, Tony Mai All 13 people who died in a Palm Springs-area bus crash Sunday have been identified by the Riverside County Coroner's Office. They were killed when a tour bus crashed into a semi on Interstate 10 early Sunday. The bus was headed back to the Los Angeles area from Red Earth Casino in Thermal. Those identified by the Coroner's Office are: • Tony Mai, 50, of Los Angeles • Zoila Aguilera, 72, of Los Angeles • Conception Corvera, 57, of Palmdale • Dora Galvez de Rodriguez, 69, of Los Angeles • Ana Gomes de Magallon, 71, of Los Angeles • Milagros Gonzales, 72, of Los Angeles • Gustavo Green, 62, of Los Angeles • Isabel Jimenez Hernandez, 66, of Los Angeles • Yolanda Mendoza, 69, of Los Angeles • Rosa Ruiz, 53, of Los Angeles • Elvia Sanchez, 52, of Los Angeles • Aracely Tije, 63, of Los Angeles • Teodulo Vides, 59, of Los Angeles (who owned the bus company) All of the victims died at the scene, on the freeway about two miles east of the Highway 62 exit, according to the coroner. The CHP said Sunday that most of them were in the front of the bus and most were asleep when the bus plowed into the back of the semi. Another 31 people were injured, five of whom remained in intensive care Sunday evening. This story is developing. Check back for updates. ||||| Authorities continue their investigation at scene of tour bus crash that killed at least eight people and injured 38 people. The bus, left, was carrying group from Tijuana, Mexico when it collided with two other vehicles just north of Yucaipa, Calif. on Feb. 3, 2013. / AP Last Updated 11:25 a.m. ET YUCAIPA, Calif. At least seven people were killed and 38 injured Sunday when a tour bus careened out of control while traveling down a Southern California mountain road, struck a car, flipped and plowed into a pickup truck, authorities said. Calif. tour bus crash kills at least 8 Tour bus crashes in Calif. The accident occurred around 6:30 p.m. about 80 miles east of Los Angeles and left State Route 38 littered with debris, the bus sideways across the two lanes and its front end crushed. Authorities lowered the death count from 8 to 7 on Monday. Emergency crews worked to free passengers who were trapped in the bus, which was returning to Tijuana, Mexico, California Highway Patrol spokesman Mario Lopez said. A representative of the Mexican consulate was on-scene, reports CBS Los Angeles Station KCBS, citing the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). The violence of the crash and severity of the injuries made for a chaotic scene, and authorities had a difficult time determining how many people were injured or killed. Lopez said at least seven and perhaps 10 were dead, and 38 transported to hospitals. Caltrans spokeswoman Michelle Profant said the scene was shocking. "It's really a mess up there with body parts," she said. The bus driver survived and told investigators the bus suffered brake problems as it headed down the mountain, Lopez said. It rear-ended a sedan and flipped, then struck a pickup truck pulling a trailer. Lettering on the bus indicated that it was operated by Scapadas Magicas LLC, a company based in National City, Calif. Federal transportation records show that the company is licensed to carry passengers for interstate travel and that it had no crashes in the past two years. A call to the company was not immediately returned. Jordi Garcia, a manager for InterBus Tours, said his company ran Sunday's trip. He told U-T San Diego that 38 people departed Tijuana at 5 a.m. for a day of skiing at Big Bear. "The information that we have is that the bus' brakes failed and the accident occurred," he said. Route 38 runs through the San Bernardino National Forest and leads to Big Bear. The accident occurred as the bus was headed south and leaving the forest. Patients were taken to several area hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening. The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday it was sending a team to the crash. The California crash comes less than a day after a bus carrying 42 high school students and their chaperones slammed into an overpass in Boston. Massachusetts state police said 35 people were injured and that the driver had directed the bus onto a road with a height limit.
– If tour bus company owner-driver Teodulo Elias Vides hadn't been one of 13 people killed in a horrific crash on Interstate 10 near Palm Springs, Calif., on Sunday, authorities would probably have some tough questions for him. Authorities say half the tires on the bus he was driving, including both steer axle tires, were worn down to an unsafe level, which would have been enough for inspectors to take the bus out of service, the AP reports. The bus, which was on its way to Los Angeles from the Red Earth Casino in Salton Sea Beach, plowed into the back of a big rig and it's not clear whether Vides attempted to brake first. The full National Transportation Safety Board investigation could take up to a year. Vides, 59, had been sued twice for negligence over incidents involving his USA Holiday company, which is listed as having just one bus, the Los Angeles Times reports. In a 2007 incident, three people died when a USA Holiday bus hit a Honda Civic on a freeway in Riverside, Calif. The company also received at least six "unsatisfactory" ratings from the California Highway Patrol for issues including maintenance, and Vides had several traffic citations on his record. The victims, whose ages range from 50 to 72, were mostly seated near the front of the bus, reports the Press Enterprise. Another 31 people were injured.
[SPOILER ALERT: Do not read until you have watched Sunday night’s episode of The Simpsons, titled “Clown in the Dumps.”] Say a prayer — Jewish, preferably—for Rabbi Hyman Krustofski, who passed away Sunday night on the season premiere of The Simpsons. The stern, principled father of Krusty the Clown (voiced by Jackie Mason, who won an Emmy in 1992 for the role), expired while telling his down-and-out son who was in the throes of a comedy career crisis, “If you want to know my honest opinion of you, you’ve always been… eh.” The poignant father-child story, which prompted Lisa to fret that Homer would be next to go, ended a yearlong mystery over which character would meet his/her demise. EW spoke with Simpsons executive producer Al Jean about the good rabbi’s demise, what this means for Krusty moving forward, the hype around the event, and yes, that eerie, unsettling, trippy couch gag by Don Hertzfeldt, who wrote and directed the Oscar-nominated short film Rejected. EW: Why was Rabbi Krustofsky marked for death? AL JEAN: I was just trying to think of a story and I thought, “It would be a good father-son story if the rabbi passed away and the last thing he said to his son was, “I think you’re eh.” That the last word that Krusty heard from his dad was “eh,” and that he had to try to reconcile himself with that, and try to find an answer for this lifetime relationship. I thought we did it in a way that I hope is touching but is real and is just the little ways that people make peace with their past…. Then [last fall, journalists] were asking me on a phone conference what shows we had coming up and instead of just saying that, I thought it would be a little sneaky to say that the character had won an Emmy and the next thing I knew it was a huge, worldwide story. So from that point on, we tried to tease it as best as possible but as you can see, there’s really about three clues you can give. It’s pretty obvious. What’s funny is at the [Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour in July], we said, “Okay, we’ll make the title kind of easy and it should be really obvious,” so I said, “Clown in the Dumps.” And then there were people going, “(gasps) You’re killing Krusty???” And I was like, “What? In the dumps doesn’t mean you’re dead. It means you’re sad.” I thought it was so obvious. I would be nuts to kill Krusty. Everybody loves that character. EW: What do you say to fans who might be disappointed that a bigger character didn’t die? Do you think the hype got away from you guys? JEAN: No, for three reasons. For about six months, I’ve been saying this is overhyped. People said it’s an iconic character [who dies], but I never said it’s an iconic character. I never used those words. EW: Right. You said “beloved.” JEAN: He is beloved. Jackie Mason is wonderful. And he’s still with us. Secondly, we’re not the kind of show that does these really horrific things to its characters. Everybody loves these characters, and I would never kill Krusty. I thought I was never even implying that. But people misinterpreted “Clown in the Dumps,” and then once I was tied into this craziness, I said, “Okay, I guess we should go with it.” But the third thing is I think it just works as a sweet show, which is most important. It was something that would be a good exploration of the characters. I thought it’d be good to say, “This is what people think of heaven but it’s not exactly what you’re going to get—it’s more what you do on Earth that matters.”…. If you look back at the clues we gave, everything adds up, so I would find that satisfying. I wouldn’t feel like I was misled. EW: Could Rabbi Krustofski still return in flashbacks or dream sequences? JEAN: Sure. We told the actor that didn’t mean the end of his part in the show. He certainly could come back as a memory of Krusty. EW: Are there plans for that? JEAN: We haven’t recorded him yet, but it’s likely. EW: How did Jackie take the news? JEAN: Our casting director, Bonnie Pietila, deals with the guest cast, so she called him and said, “Well, we’re going to kill the character, but this doesn’t mean it’s the end of you being on the show.” He’s great, and actually he’s a real rabbi too. [Mason was ordained as a rabbi before quitting to become a comedian.] As a character, being a rabbi and exploring death is a good thing to do, and I think we dealt with different traditions of death… He was fine [with it.] He was happy to do it. He found out about it a week after it all broke. Julie Kavner [who voices Marge] came up to me because she didn’t know, and she said “Who’s going to die?” And I said, “It’s Krusty’s dad and the last thing he says is, ‘Krusty, you’re eh,’ and she says “That’s a good story!” She might have been afraid that we were killing Selma or something—she didn’t know.” EW: Will we see a kinder, different Krusty in subsequent episodes? JEAN: Actually, yes. That’s one of the few changes that we would make is that he would actually be a little bit more of a generous person. He is who he is because he thought his father had never given him the respect that he wanted and actually [his father] did, so I think Krusty will be a little more confident and a little more generous. EW: The opening couch gag? That was so crazy. My mind melted. JEAN: That was all Don. And it turns out that it looks a little bit like a reference to the FXX marathon, which I thought was cool. It’s definitely the most insane one we’ve ever done. And it’s got so many layers. I give him all the credit. What an amazing thing to start the show off with. EW: Did you just say to him, “Go nuts and do whatever you want”? JEAN: We had seen his work. He was recommended to us by our director Mike Anderson and he did that Oscar-nominated short Rejected. We knew this was the kind of thing he would do. He said he wanted to do the Simpsons in the deep, deep future, so we had an inkling, but it was even crazier than we thought, which I thought was great. That guy’s really brilliant. I hope this exposes a lot of people to his work. ||||| As promised, The Simpsons‘ 26th season premiere saw the highly anticipated demise of a “beloved” Springfield resident on Sunday. So now, we gather here to mourn the loss of Krusty’s father, Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky (voiced by the great Jackie Mason), who’s been a part of the Simpsons universe since reuniting with his estranged, red-nosed son in 1991. RELATED Family Guy Meets The Simpsons: 14 Photos From the Crossover Episode Let’s begin with what I’m sure is the first question on all of your minds: Why Krusty’s dad? “I just thought it would be a good story about someone who’s had a tough relationship with his father — having Krusty’s father die without him ever getting that warmth or connection he really wanted, then finally finding it in a surprising way,” executive producer Al Jean explains to TVLine. “If we could get a sweet moment out of that, that’s all we wanted. We didn’t want a crazy death, or anything shocking, just true human emotion.” And even though The Simpsons doesn’t serialize things too often, Jean acknowledges that Krusty’s father’s death is likely to have an impact on the character moving forward. “One of the reasons Krusty’s been such a loose cannon is because his father disapproved of him, and he never felt like he got that sort of love that he wanted,” Jean says. “He might have a little more confidence now that he has that. … A little more.” RELATED The Simpsons EP on Season Premiere Death: ‘It’s An Emotional Story’ But fear not; despite this highly publicized death, Jean says the show is not going to go on a stunt-killing spree. In fact, as long as The Simpsons team is putting yellow pen to paper, your favorites are safe. “We’re never going to kill off Homer, or even Krusty,” he admits. “This show is always running in syndication, and we don’t want you to feel bad every time you see an old character that you loved. … Totally inadvertently, and very sadly, now whenever I see Mrs. Krabapel [her portrayer, Marcia Wallace, passed away in 2013], I’m always a little sad, where I never was before.” So… Were you surprised by the season premiere’s big death, or did you already guess the victim? Grade the episode below, then drop a comment with more of your thoughts. – ||||| It should come as no surprise that the much-ballyhooed decision to kill off an important character in Springfield on the first episode of the 26th season turned out to be a lame play for attention by a show desperate to stay relevant. Because the person who died was not Homer, Sideshow Bob, Grandpa or Krusty the Clown as some had guessed but … Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky. Who? It’s Krusty’s father, voiced by comedian Jackie Mason. You may or may not remember him, since he made nine, mostly minor, appearances on the show. Only four of those were voiced by Mason and only one of which was in the show’s golden era in the ’90s. His death isn’t exactly an “Itchy and Scratchy” bloodbath, either: After Krusty suffers through a brutal Comedy Central-style roast (featuring real-life roasters Jeff Ross and Sarah Silverman), he visits his father to get parental approval for his comedy. After telling Krusty he finds his humor very “eh,” the rabbi dies, sitting at his desk. And, boom, that’s it, he’s off to yellow heaven with Bleeding Gums Murphy and Maude Flanders. The episode tries desperately to milk this moment for some kind of emotional resonance with viewers, but the pathos udders are painfully dry. After the rabbi’s death, Lisa becomes fraught with paranoia that her own father, with his non-stop donut and Duff consumption, is in danger of dying. But instead of pulling out a humorously poignant moment (remember when Homer’s mother had to run away in Season 7?), the writers went slapstick, having her encase Homer in bubblewrap in case he should get hit by a bus or something. Krusty spends most of the episode trying to reconcile with his father’s disappointment, and the climax — where Krusty discovers a rabbi his father admired maybe stole some of Krusty’s lame jokes, I guess? — leaves you feeling kind of “eh” yourself. It does lead to one of the episode’s actual funny moments, when he hallucinates Jewish heaven, with a Joe Lieberman presidential library and “free egg cream” day at Ebbets Field, where the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants are still playing. But compare this to the mortality gut check that Lisa got when Bleeding Gums Murphy died in Season 6, and Krustofsky’s death seems like a pointless plea for attention. The show’s writers opened with an oh-we’re-so-clever moment by having Bart write on the chalkboard “Spoiler alert: unfortunately my dad doesn’t die.” Then it goes into a couch gag scene by Oscar-nominated artist Don Hertzfeldt that is both overly long and perhaps one of the strangest in the show’s history, reimagining the Simpson family as distorted microbial blobs from the future. Kelsey Grammer makes a brief cameo as the murderous Sideshow Bob, but strangely, David Hyde Pierce, Grammer’s co-star from “Frasier” who played Sideshow Bob’s brother in a classic episode from Season 7, also appears, though he’s playing himself. No one expects much of a creativity payoff from this long-running sitcom, but even the 1999 death of Maude Flanders — a frequent but largely unremarkable presence on the show — felt like it was worth the build-up, as we watched Ned Flanders deal with life when it’s not so okely dokely. So next time “The Simpsons” tries to get your attention by killing off a major character, you can simply shake your head and say, “Eh.”
– Fans of The Simpsons who thought they'd be yelling "Doh!" last night were ranting "Dud!" this morning. Viewers had been warned for months that what was rumored to be a major character would be killed off during the premiere of the show's 26th season last night, the Los Angeles Times reports. There was a character who kicked the cartoon bucket, but it wasn't exactly a major one: It was Rabbi Hyman Krustofski, Krusty the Clown's dad, voiced by comedian Jackie Mason, a character that only appeared in "a handful" of episodes, the Times notes. Reaction to the "Clown in the Dumps" episode ranged from mild, NPR-style disappointment to outright irritation: Tim Donnelly writes in the New York Post that the death (and preceding teasers) were "a lame play for attention by a show desperate to stay relevant." One Twitter user quoted in the Times complained, "Krusty's dad died... Um, Krusty had a Dad? Never heard of him. Wasted anticipation." Producer Al Jean insists he has always said the untimely death was "overhyped" and that he never promised it would be one of the more-popular characters. "I never said it’s an iconic character—I never used those words," he tells Entertainment Weekly. In fact, he assures fans that favorites will never be purposely annihilated before series' end. "We're never going to kill off Homer, or even Krusty," he tells TVLine. "This show is always running in syndication, and we don't want you to feel bad every time you see an old character that you loved."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration formally notified Congress on Wednesday of a $1.83-billion arms sale package for Taiwan, including two frigates, anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles and other equipment, drawing an angry response from China. AAV-P7A1 amphibious assault vehicles of the Taiwan Marine Corps are seen as part of a parade during Taiwan's National Day celebrations in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei October 10, 2011. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang The authorization, which Reuters on Monday reported was imminent, came a year after Congress passed legislation approving the sale. It is the first such major arms sale to Taiwan in more than four years. The White House said there was no change in the longstanding U.S. “one China” policy. Past U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan have attracted strong condemnation in China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province. The White House said the authorization followed previous sales notifications by the administration totaling more than $12 billion under the Taiwan Relations Act. “Our longstanding policy on arms sales to Taiwan has been consistent across six different U.S. administrations,” a National Security Council spokesman, Myles Caggins, said. “We remain committed to our one-China policy,” he added. Although Washington does not recognize Taiwan as a separate state from China, it is committed under the Taiwan Relations Act to ensuring Taipei can maintain a credible defense. The sales come at a period of heightened tension between the United States and China over the South China Sea, where Washington has been critical of China’s building of man-made islands to assert expansive territorial claims. China summoned the U.S. charge d’affaires in Beijing, Kaye Lee, to protest and said it would impose sanctions on the companies involved, state news agency Xinhua reported. “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. China strongly opposes the U.S. arms sale to Taiwan,” Xinhua quoted Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang, who summoned Lee, as saying. Zheng said the sales went against international law and basic norms of international relations and “severely” harmed China’s sovereignty and security. “To safeguard our national interests, China has decided to take necessary measures, including imposing sanctions against the companies involved in the arms sale,” Zheng said. The U.S. State Department said Raytheon (RTN.N) and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) were the main contractors in the sales. Related Coverage China says no cooperation with U.S. firms selling Taiwan arms It was not clear what impact sanctions might have on the companies, although in 2013, Lockheed Martin signed a pact with the Thailand-based Reignwood Group to build an offshore plant to supply energy for a luxury resort on Hainan island in southern China. “U.S. companies participating in arms sales to Taiwan gravely harm China’s sovereignty and security interests,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. “China’s government and companies will not carry out cooperation and commercial dealings with these types of companies.” However, previous Chinese sanction threats have not been followed up by Beijing. China’s Defense Ministry said the sale would also inevitably affect military-to-military ties, but did not elaborate. Taiwan’s defense ministry said the new weapons would be phased in over a number of years and would enable Taiwan to maintain and develop a credible defense. U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the decision was based solely on Taiwan’s defense needs. “The Chinese can react to this as they see fit,” he said. “This is nothing new. ... There’s no need for it to have any derogatory effect on our relationship with China.” Kirby said Washington wanted to work to establish a “better, more transparent more effective relationship” with China in the region and had been in contact with both Taiwan and China on this on Wednesday. He declined to elaborate. David McKeeby, another State Department spokesman, said the arms package included two Perry-class guided-missile frigates; $57 million of Javelin anti-tank missiles made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin; $268 million of TOW 2B anti-tank missiles and $217 million of Stinger surface-to-air missiles made by Raytheon, and $375 million of AAV-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicles. The State Department said the frigates were being offered as surplus items at a cost of $190 million. The package also includes $416 million of guns, upgrade kits, ammunition and support for Raytheon’s Close-in Weapons System. Analysts and congressional sources believe the delay in the formal approval of the sales was due to the Obama administration’s desire to maintain stable working relations with China, an increasingly powerful strategic rival but also a vital economic partner as the world’s second-largest economy. U.S. Republican lawmakers said on Wednesday they were pleased the administration had authorized the sale but called for a more regular process for such transactions. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said this would “avoid extended periods in which fear of upsetting the U.S.-China relationship may harm Taiwan’s defense capabilities.” ||||| WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration announced a $1.83 billion arms sale to Taiwan on Wednesday, drawing an immediate rebuke and threats of retaliation from Taipei's rival Beijing. FILE - IN this Sept. 10, 2015 file photo, Taiwan's military fire artillery from self-propelled Howitzers during the annual Han Kuang exercises in Hsinchu, north eastern Taiwan. China on Wednesday, Dec.... (Associated Press) The arms package is the first offered by the U.S. to the self-governing island in four years. Even before its announcement, Beijing, which regards Taiwan as part of its territory, demanded it be scrapped to avoid harming relations across the Taiwan Strait and between China and the U.S. That was followed by a formal diplomatic protest late Wednesday, although at a lower level than in previous such instances. "China resolutely opposes the sale of weapons to Taiwan by the U.S.," Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang said in a meeting with Washington's second-highest ranking diplomat in Beijing. "In order to safeguard the nation's interests, the Chinese side has decided to take necessary measures, including the imposition of sanctions against companies participating in the arms sale to Taiwan," Zheng said, according to a statement posted on the ministry's website. Such sanctions have been threatened in the past, although there's no evidence they've had any meaningful effect. American and European Union companies are banned from selling military technology to China, and Chinese companies have extensive links with major overseas firms that often have weapon-making divisions. A U.S. Embassy spokesman, speaking on routine condition of anonymity, declined to comment on the meeting, saying, "we don't get into the content of our diplomatic discussions." The U.S. maintained there's no need for it to hurt the relationship, which has also been strained by China's island-building in the South China Sea and alleged cybertheft. The administration notified Congress that the proposed arms package includes two decommissioned U.S. Navy frigates, anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles and Stinger surface-to-air missiles. There's also support for Taiwan's capabilities in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and a weapons system to defend against anti-ship missiles. Congress has 30 days to review the sale, but it's unlikely to raise objections. There's been mounting bipartisan concern that Taiwan is inadequately armed to defend itself against an increasingly powerful mainland China. U.S. lawmakers welcomed the announcement. There were calls from both parties for more frequent arms sales to Taiwan. New York Rep. Eliot Engel, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the sale would contribute to peace and stability across the strait. "I wish we would see them on a regular basis," he said. The committee's Republican chairman, California Rep. Ed Royce, said the administration had "needlessly dragged out" the approval process, and that other Taiwanese requests "have still not seen the light of day." Sen. John McCain, Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. should avoid extended periods during which "fear of upsetting the U.S.-China relationship may harm Taiwan's defense capabilities." Taiwan's Foreign Ministry cheered the announcement as a sign of healthy ties between Taipei and Washington and rejected claims it would harm relations with Beijing. The sale will "help maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and increase our confidence as we engage in dialogue and improves relations across the Taiwan Strait," the ministry said in a statement. "It also highlights the fact that U.S.-Taiwan relations are indeed at their best ever," the statement said. However, a pro-Taiwan business group in the U.S. lamented the amount of time taken to process the sale and questioned whether it was adequate in the face of China's rapid military advancements. "While China has deployed new fighters, submarines, and missiles during the last four years, the U.S. has consistently refused to consider providing Taiwan access to similar platforms, or even aiding their indigenous development," Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, said in a statement. The administration has announced more than $12 billion in arms sales to Taiwan since 2010, but none since $5.9 billion in sales in September 2011 that included upgrades for Taiwan's F-16 fighter jets. That drew a high-level diplomatic protest from Beijing, which suspended some military exchanges with the United States. It did not seriously impair ties. In the meantime, President Barack Obama has sought greater cooperation with China on issues such as climate change, and the two sides have increased military exchanges to reduce the risk of conflict. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. was in contact with both Taiwan and China about the sale, which he said was consistent with U.S. support for Taiwan's ability to defend itself under the Taiwan Relations Act. "There's no need for it to have any derogatory effect on our relationship with China," Kirby told reporters. "We still want to work to establish a better, more transparent, more effective relationship with China in the region and we're going to continue to work at that." Relations across the Taiwan Strait have undergone a steady improvement over the past two decades, especially under the China-friendly administration of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou. ___ Bodeen reported from Beijing. ||||| The decision by the United States to sell arms to Taiwan was “wrong” and violated a consensus reached when Chinese President Xi Jinping met US President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April, Beijing told Washington. The announcement of the US$1.4 billion deal comes a week ahead of Xi’s planned meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. China’s ambassador to Washington, Cui Tiankai, told reporters that China firmly opposed the deal. “We have expressed firm opposition to the US and we will reserve our right to take further action,” Cui told reporters at an event in Washington to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China. A statement issued later by the Chinese embassy in Washington DC criticised the move as a breach of the consensus reached between the two leaders ar their first ever meeting. “The wrong move of the US side runs counter to the consensus reached by the two presidents in Mar-a-Lago and the positive development momentum of the China-US relationship,” its said. The arms sales package was announced by a US State Department spokeswoman on Thursday. It comprises seven items, including technical support for early warning radar, anti-radiation missiles, torpedoes and components for SM-2 missiles, Associated Press reported. The US Congress had been notified of the sale, State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, told a daily press briefing. A US State Department official added in an email: “Today’s notifications are consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act and our support for Taiwan’s ability to maintain a sufficient self-defence capability. “There is no change to our longstanding ‘one-China’ policy based on the Three Joint Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act.” The announcement came a day after the US Senate Armed Services Committee approved a bill that would allow regular stops by US naval vessels at Taiwan’s ports as part of an annual defence policy measure. China responded to the bill with anger. “We are strongly concerned about and firmly opposed to the bill approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee,” Lu Kang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Thursday. “The Taiwan question bears on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and belongs to China’s domestic affairs,” Lu said. “We urge the US to honour its commitment on the Taiwan question, immediately stop military contact and arms sales to Taiwan and avoid causing damage to the bilateral relationship and bilateral cooperation in a broader range of areas.” Taiwan soothed by US arms sales support after Panama picks Beijing over Taipei China’s Defence Ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian also condemned the move. “We are always firmly opposed to any form of official contact and military interaction between Taiwan and the US. “We urge the American side to abide by its commitment to the Chinese side with regard to the Taiwan issue and stop military contacts with Taiwan, so as not to cause damage to the relations between the two militaries and the two countries as well as to the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Wu said in a press briefing. Beijing considers Taiwan to be a breakaway Chinese province and tries to deter all countries from having formal ties with the island. US defence ties with Taiwan are a particularly sensitive issue. Trump’s meeting with Xi at the G20 will be their second since the US president took office in January. The two met for a summit at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in April, which set the course for a series of high-level dialogues. The Taiwan Relations Act, which guarantees US support for the self-governing island’s defence capacity, was signed in 1979, shortly after the US switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. Expedite Taiwan arms sales, US House committee urges Trump administration “We are always aware that there are some negative things in our relationship”, Ambassador Cui said in Washington. “Our job is to make sure the positive development will be overwhelming, and we will continue to try the best to keep the relations on the right track.” The last round of US arms sales to Taiwan was approved by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama in 2015. The US sold about US$1.8 billion worth of equipment to Taiwan in that round, including frigates, missiles and amphibious assault vehicles, according to the Federal Register, a US government publication. Every US president has approved arms sales to Taiwan since the Taiwan Act became law, starting with Jimmy Carter in his last year in office.
– The US stands by the "one-China" policy, but that doesn't mean it can't sell weapons directly to Taiwan, citing ithe Taiwan Relations Act to ensure Taiwan can adequately defend itself—and China isn't happy about it. The Obama administration announced a $1.8 billion arms package sale to Congress on Wednesday, Reuters reports, including guided-missile frigates, anti-tank missiles, Amphibious Assault Vehicles, and $416 million worth of guns, ammo, and other supplies. The announcement came amid reports that the US had stalled the sale to avoid hearing about it from China, which still claims Taiwan as a territory, per the Wall Street Journal. Reuters notes the sale comes as US-China relations simmer over the latter's man-made islands in the South China Sea and US patrols in those waters. China notes it's going to sanction the companies involved in the sale (including Lockheed Martin and Raytheon), with a foreign ministry official telling Xinhua that the sale flouts international rules and "severely" damages China's sovereignty. "China's government and companies will not carry out cooperation and commercial dealings with these types of companies," a ministry spokesman says. A Pentagon spokesman gave the equivalent of an eyeroll Wednesday, per the New York Times, noting, "The Chinese can react to this as they see fit. … It's a [clear-eyed], sober view of an assessment of Taiwan's defense needs. … There's no need for it to have any derogatory effect on our relationship with China." Meanwhile, the AP notes that China has issued similar threats before, with "no evidence they've had any meaningful effect." (All this despite a lengthy handshake last month.)
CENTENNIAL — Prosecutors in the Aurora theater shooting case say they are "extremely unlikely" to accept an offer from suspect James Holmes to plead guilty unless they hear more details from him. In a court filing Thursday, prosecutors write that after Holmes offered to plead guilty, they asked him and his attorneys to provide "specific access to information that would allow them to fully assess the Defendant and his alleged acts for purposes of determining a just outcome to this case." They say Holmes and his attorneys have repeatedly denied access to that information. Because of that, prosecutors say Holmes' offer — which his attorneys disclosed in a court filing Wednesday — is not acceptable. "There is not — and has never been — an actual or unqualified 'offer' to plead guilty," they write in the Thursday filing. Significantly, the prosecution's filing was signed by 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler and not one of the deputy district attorneys more directly involved in the case. In the Wednesday court filing, Holmes' attorneys said Holmes has offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence in prison without parole. His attorneys wrote that the only thing preventing the case from concluding as early as Monday — the date of the next scheduled hearing — is if prosecutors decide to press ahead seeking the death penalty. Advertisement "Mr. Holmes is currently willing to resolve the case to bring the proceedings to a speedy and definite conclusion for all involved," Holmes' lawyers wrote in their motion. Holmes' attorneys wrote that they would likely file numerous pretrial motions if the case goes forward and that they may present a mental-health defense at trial. In the lengthy response filed Thursday, Brauchler angrily denied Holmes' characterization of the plea offer and suggested that Holmes' attorneys are not acting in good faith by disclosing the offer in a public court filing. Brauchler called the defense filing "unusual and unprecedented" in revealing plea negotiations to the judge and suggested Wednesday's motion was a publicity ploy that violates the case's gag order. Holmes' lawyers had "no legitimate reason" to disclose the offer in court papers, Brauchler wrote. Brauchler also disputed arguments by Holmes' lawyers that the case would require many months of hearings before even getting to trial. And Brauchler took issue with apparent comments made by the head of the state Public Defender's office that were paraphrased in an Associated Press article Wednesday. That, too, he said, violated the gag order. "The misrepresentation — now published by media outlets throughout the world — appears to be an attempt to deliberately prejudice the public, witnesses and victims against the People," Brauchler wrote in his filing. "The People believe that this needs to be corrected." In recompense, prosecutors are asking that the judge deny a separate defense motion for sanctions against the prosecution — one that alleges law enforcement officials broke the gag order and leaked information to Fox News. That motion has dragged in the Fox News reporter who wrote the story, and she has been subpoenaed to turn over her notes and testify during Monday's hearing about her sources. The Fox News reporter, Jana Winter, has fought the subpoena, and the prosecution's request on Thursday has offered her an unexpected lifeline. The two court filings this week forecast a dramatic showdown during Monday morning's hearing, when Brauchler said he will announce if he will seek the death penalty against Holmes. The revelation of Holmes' plea offer — and Brauchler's furious response to that revelation — adds new complications to the death-penalty decision. Brauchler and his staff have been talking with victims of the theater shooting to gauge their feelings about pursuing execution for Holmes. Victims have expressed mixed feelings . Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and injuring 58 others with gunfire during the July 20 attacks at the Century Aurora 16 movie theater. John Ingold:, 303-954-1068 or ||||| The fate of the man who allegedly fired into a crowded Aurora movie theater depends mostly on this question: Was it the act of a madman living in his own reality or that of a calculating, cold-blooded killer? Prosecutors likely will seek the death penalty for James Eagan Holmes, 24, who is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie Friday, numerous lawyers said Sunday. And, they said, his attorneys are almost sure to pursue an insanity defense. "You just have to imagine that there is something in his psychiatric makeup that will be exploited by his defense team," said former Adams County District Attorney Bob Grant. "I don't know what the hell else they are going to say." Defense attorneys typically use misidentification — the "it-wasn't-me" defense — or claim a murder was justified in self-defense. "Neither of those is going to be available, to put it mildly," said Peter Hedeen, who represented Colorado death- row inmate Robert Ray. It could take six months or more before the Arapahoe County district attorney's office announces a decision on whether to seek death for Holmes, accused of one of the most horrific mass killings in U.S. history. "If in fact he is sane, it's a hopeless case for the defense," said Scott Robinson, a Denver legal analyst. "They caught him literally gunpowder-handed with his weapons, with his tactical gear. They clearly have the right man." Advertisement The public defenders assigned to Holmes' case — Daniel King and Tamara Brady — are expected to seek a competency evaluation to determine whether Holmes is capable of assisting his defense team. If not, a judge could send him to the state mental hospital in Pueblo. If he is competent to stand trial, Holmes' lawyers will file a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity at his arraignment, experts predicted. "There are some crimes, the nature of which just scream out 'crazy.' This is one of those cases," said lawyer David Lane, who has represented 25 people charged with death-penalty offenses. Lane said that based on news reports of Holmes' behavior, intelligence, age and lack of a criminal record, his defense lawyers might construct a case that he has schizophrenia, a mental illness that makes it hard to tell what is real. "This looks like the guy is crazy," Lane said. "If you are seriously mentally ill, the death penalty is not going to be on the table." Insane, by the legal definition, means lacking the ability to know right from wrong at the time of the crime. It's not related to intelligence. It's not the same as evil, experts cautioned. Holmes, a neuroscience student, allegedly planned the massacre for months, amassing ammunition and weapons and booby-trapping his apartment, but it's possible his mind resided in his own version of reality, legal experts said. "Maybe he believed he was Batman," said Phil Cherner, a longtime Denver criminal-defense attorney who represents death-row inmate Nathan Dunlap, convicted of killing four people at an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in 1993. "Do they have a case against a defendant who is mentally ill, or is this a cold-blooded killer?" Cherner asked. The fact Holmes surrendered to officers without incident outside the movie theater makes it seem "he didn't see anything wrong with what he was doing," Cherner said, calling the idea just a "hunch." Holmes' lawyers will try as hard as they can to keep the case from going to trial, pursuing instead a plea deal that would ensure he spends life in prison, said Denver defense attorney Dan Recht. But for prosecutors to consider such a deal, defense attorneys would need evidence of mental illness or serious emotional damage in Holmes' past, such as a claim he was tortured as a child. "It will be very difficult to persuade a jury that he is insane, because a jury will understand that's a way of him escaping full responsibility," Recht said. "The prosecution will be aware of that and will think that increases their odds significantly of getting a death penalty." If the state seeks death, Holmes' sentencing is two to four years away, attorneys said. Regardless of any possible mental-health claims, the political pressure to seek an execution will be massive, experts said. "If you don't pursue the death penalty in this case, you may as well throw away the statute," said Craig Silverman, former Denver County chief deputy district attorney. Jennifer Brown: 303-954-1593, or ||||| The Colorado Department of Corrections on Wednesday said James Holmes, sentenced to life in prison for murdering 12 people and wounding dozens of others, has been transferred to federal prison. “The State sought to place the inmate in the Federal System several months ago, but placement required finding space at a facility that could provide appropriate security,” the department said in a news release. “That space recently became available and the move to the Federal prison was secured.” Late Wednesday, the federal Bureau of Prisons had not announced where Holmes was transferred. Early Thursday morning, Holmes’ location was updated to USP Allenwood, a high-security federal prison in Pennsylvania, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate tracker. Holmes, who is serving 12 consecutive life sentences plus more than 3,000 years extra, was transferred out of state in January 2016, a few months after he was attacked at a maximum-security prison in Colorado in an incident that also injured a guard. Holmes was sentenced in August 2015 for the Aurora theater shooting. Holmes was housed at the Colorado State Penitentiary, where he was assaulted on Oct. 8, 2015. After moving Holmes out of state, Colorado prison officials refused to disclose where he was being held, causing public controversy and deep concern for survivors and their families. In June 2016, after two hours of debate, the Department of Public Safety’s Victims Rights Act Subcommittee split 3-3 over whether the Colorado corrections was breaking the law by refusing to tell theater shooting victims of Holmes’ location. The deadlock kept the secretive location at status quo. At that point, state prison officials would say only that Holmes had been moved to an out-of-state prison to protect his and correctional officers’ safety. Theresa Hoover, mother of Alexander “AJ” Boik, an 18-year-old murdered by Holmes, at the subcommittee meeting referred to the non-disclosure as “unconscionable.” “I don’t think it’s right,” she said at the time. “I don’t think it’s fair for the victims not to know.” Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, the lead prosecutor in the Aurora theater shooting case, said Wednesday night that he hopes Holmes will be back in Colorado. “My great hope is he’ll be moved to Colorado in federal custody,” Brauchler said. “He can serve out the remainder of his life under Colorado skies, where he committed his crimes.” Brauchler doesn’t want to see Holmes serve his sentence in California, where the inmate’s family lives. “I’m pleased that after all these many, many months of obfuscation by the state government here that these family victims are finally going to get the peace of mind, knowing that the guy who murdered their loved ones, they’ll know where he is,” Brauchler said. Brauchler said he’d like to now know where Holmes has been since he dropped off the radar screen. “There is no longer any reason for the Department of Corrections to not disclose where he was,” Brauchler said. “I’d like to know what the conditions were.”
– Prosecutors have all but nixed James Holmes' reported offer of a guilty plea to dodge the death penalty. They're "extremely unlikely" to accept the proposal without "specific access to information" on Holmes that, so far, his team has refused to provide, they say, per the Denver Post. What's more, "there is not—and has never been—an actual or unqualified 'offer' to plead guilty," prosecutors wrote in an angry filing yesterday accusing Holmes' team of a misleading publicity stunt. The prosecutors' filing, signed by district attorney George Brauchler himself rather than a deputy, also took issue with defense suggestions about a lengthy series of pretrial hearings, among other concerns. Brauchler accused the defense of "an attempt to deliberately prejudice the public, witnesses, and victims against the People." Meanwhile, he called on the judge to reject a defense motion calling for action against the prosecution for allegedly leaking information to the press. Brauchler is poised to announce whether he'll seek the death penalty on Monday.
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis, starting Holy Week services leading to Easter, urged young people on Sunday to keep shouting and not allow the older generations to silence their voices or anesthetize their idealism. Pope Francis blesses faithful gathered to attend the Palm Sunday Mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, March 25, 2018 REUTERS/Tony Gentile Francis spoke a day after hundreds of thousands of young Americans and their supporters answered a call to action from survivors of last month’s Florida high school massacre and rallied across the United States to demand tighter gun laws. He did not mention the demonstrations. Catholic News Service (CNS) said Gabriella Zuniga, 16, and her sister Valentina, 15, both students from Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where 17 people were killed in February, attended the service with their parents. CNS posted a photo of the two holding up signs in St. Peter’s Square, with one reading, “Protect Our Children, Not Our Guns.” The 81-year-old Francis led a long and solemn Palm Sunday service before tens of thousands in the square, many of them young people there for the Catholic Church’s World Day of Youth. Pope Francis holds palm as he leads the Palm Sunday Mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, March 25, 2018 REUTERS/Tony Gentile Carrying a woven palm branch known as a “palmurello,” Francis led a procession in front of the largest church in Christendom to commemorate the day the Bible says Jesus rode into Jerusalem and was hailed as a savior, only to be crucified five days later. “YOU HAVE IT IN YOU TO SHOUT” Drawing on biblical parallels, Francis urged the young people in the crowd not to let themselves be manipulated. “The temptation to silence young people has always existed,” Francis said in the homily of a Mass. “There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. Many ways to anesthetize them, to make them keep quiet, ask nothing, question nothing. There are many ways to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive,” he said. “Dear young people, you have it in you to shout,” he told young people, urging them to be like the people who welcomed Jesus with palms rather than those who shouted for his crucifixion only days later. Slideshow (10 Images) “It is up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders, some corrupt, keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?” The young people in the crowd shouted, “Yes!” While Francis did not mention Saturday’s marches in the United States, he has often condemned weapons manufacturing and mass shootings. Palm Sunday marked the start of a hectic week of activities for the pope. On Holy Thursday he is due to preside at two services, including one in which he will wash the feet of 12 inmates in a Rome jail to commemorate Jesus’ gesture of humility toward his apostles the night before he died. On Good Friday, he is due to lead a Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession at Rome’s Colosseum. On Saturday night he leads a Easter vigil service and on Easter Sunday he delivers his twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message. ||||| A view of St. Peter's Square filled with faithful as Pope Francis celebrates a Palm Sunday Mass, at the Vatican, Sunday, March 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) (Associated Press) A view of St. Peter's Square filled with faithful as Pope Francis celebrates a Palm Sunday Mass, at the Vatican, Sunday, March 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) (Associated Press) VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday urged young people not to be silent and let their voices be heard during Palm Sunday celebrations. The pope's message comes on the heels of a meeting of young Catholics who told the Vatican they want a more transparent and authentic church, and a day after tens of thousands of young people marched in the United States with others to demand greater gun control. Francis said "the temptation to silence young people has always existed," and cited the many ways to keep them quiet, "to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive. " But he told youths "you have it in you to shout" even if "we older people and leaders, very often corrupt, keep quiet." ||||| Thirty-one years ago, when a man named Mehmet Ali Agca shot Pope John Paul II, the arrest and the trials that followed were dominated by a question: Who sent the would-be assassin? The Soviets? The Bulgarian secret police? Turkish fascists? John Paul was asked if he had a view, and he said it didn’t matter. In his biography “Man of the Century,” Jonathan Kwitney reported John Paul’s conversation with a close friend Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur. “I know well that the responsible one was the devil,” the pope said. “And whether he used the Bulgarian people or the Turkish people, it was diabolical.” I thought of that story for days after the first bulletins of 20 children shot in Newtown, Conn. Whatever we find out about the thinking, habits and sickness of Adam Lanza, it was the evil one who sent him to kill those children. And evil is part of life. But there are three obvious public policy ideas that come to the forefront after Newtown, and what happened there can push them forward quickly. First, broadly, we must provide more treatment options for parents of children whom they know to be mentally unstable and potentially dangerous. If your child is hungry, you can get food. If your child breaks his leg, the hospital is there. But if your child is psychologically sick or mentally unbalanced and beginning to show signs of violent behavior, you’re more or less on your own. We have to change this. We are making more sick teenagers and young men now, not fewer, and this is going to continue as our culture breaks up. I think we all know this, deep down. Second, Congress should move quickly—really, right away—to ban something almost every member would ban next week if they were given a clean, short, unambiguous piece of legislation. Two years ago, after Tucson, I urgedPresident Obama to make such a bill a priority in his 2011 State of the Union Address. A hot subject then was the polarizing nature of our political rhetoric. But I wrote: Normal people are not afraid of a lowering of discourse in political speech. They don’t like it, but it’s not keeping them up nights. Normal people are afraid of nuts with guns. That keeps them up nights. They know our society has grown more broken, families more sundered, our culture more degraded, and they fear it is producing more lost and disturbed young people. They fear those young people walking into a school or a mall with a semiautomatic pistol with an extended clip. What civilian needs a pistol with a magazine that loads 33 bullets and allows you to kill that many people without even stopping to reload? No one but people with bad intent. Those clips were banned once; the president should call for reimposing the ban. . . . The president should seize the moment and come out strong for a ban. My reasoning at the time: many Republicans on the Hill were ambivalent at best about extended clips. Few would go to the wall to defend them. The problem, as I saw it, was the Democratic Party, which had overreached after the assassinations of the 1960s, talked about banning all handguns, and suffered a lasting political setback. (Bill Clinton bucked the trend and paid a price for it.) The Democratic Party got burned and didn’t want to mention gun control anymore, even when it came to obvious things like extended clips. My reasoning now: Newtown changes everything. Move. What I fear is that the Democrats will overreach and put together some big, comprehensive gun bill that will bog down in useless disagreement, debate and acrimony. But they can get extended ammunition clips banned tomorrow with a brief and limited bill, and they can use that victory to gain momentum and launch a bigger debate on gun violence. A quick victory now would be good for the country: At least something good, one small thing, would have come from the disaster in Newtown, and would have come quickly. Third, everyone who has warned for a quarter-century now that our national culture has become a culture of death—movies, TV shows, videogames drenched in blood and violence—has been correct. Deep down we all know it, as deep down we know our culture has a bad impact on the young and unstable who aren’t sturdy enough to withstand and resist sick messages and imagery. When Hollywood wants to discourage cigarette smoking it knows exactly how to do it, because it knows exactly how much power it has to deliver cultural messages. When Hollywood wants to encourage environmentalism it knows how to do it. But there’s a lot of money to be made in violence…
– A day after hundreds of thousands of young people took to the streets to call for gun control, an old man used his bully pulpit to urge them to keep shouting, reports Reuters. Speaking at his Palm Sunday Mass, 81-year-old Pope Francis warned that "the temptation to silence young people has always existed," along with ways "to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive." But, reports the AP, he told young people that "It is up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders, some corrupt, keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?" The response from the crowd: "Yes!"

This is a copy of the Multi-News dataset, except the input source documents of its train, validation and test splits have been replaced by a dense retriever. The retrieval pipeline used:

  • query: The summary field of each example
  • corpus: The union of all documents in the train, validation and test splits
  • retriever: facebook/contriever-msmarco via PyTerrier with default settings
  • top-k strategy: "max", i.e. the number of documents retrieved, k, is set as the maximum number of documents seen across examples in this dataset, in this case k==3

Retrieval results on the train set:

Recall@100 Rprec Precision@k Recall@k
0.8661 0.6867 0.5936 0.6917

Retrieval results on the validation set:

Recall@100 Rprec Precision@k Recall@k
0.8626 0.6859 0.5874 0.6925

Retrieval results on the test set:

Recall@100 Rprec Precision@k Recall@k
0.8625 0.6927 0.5938 0.6993
Downloads last month