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.
– 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 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.
– 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: ||||| One tweet too many X marks the spot where Denis Finley, editor of the paper in Bernie Sanders' hometown, screwed up. If Oprah Winfrey was the media's Big Winner for her Golden Globes peroration on sexual harassment, Finley was a (fortunately less-publicized) Big Loser due to ham-handed tweets. Even the most sober of mainstream media get bollixed up over page views and reader engagement as they seek to be more refined P.T. Barnums of a digital age. Being provocative for provocation's sake is increasingly rationalized as a way to promote your handiwork, no matter how tenuous and fleeting the actual loyalty manifested (perhaps with help from a Drudge Report link) might be. But, as Finley, executive editor of the Gannett-owned Burlington Free Press, unwittingly reminds us, there's a difference between being responsibly provocative and perhaps tone deaf to your audience — especially in the digital age. Vermont plans to join Oregon and Washington, D.C., in offering drivers a third option in listing gender on licenses. So M, F or X. In liberal Burlington, where Sanders was mayor, it's not unpopular. And it just prompted one citizen's tweet, "This is awesome! // #VT Is One Step Closer To Offering A Third Gender On Driver's Licenses." But Finley, who came to the Free Press from Virginia in 2016 after a long stint as Norfolk Virginian-Pilot editor (and, briefly, as publicist for a Norfolk museum), felt compelled to respond: "Awesome! That makes us one step closer to the apocalypse." If Winfrey played brilliantly to her audience, Finley fumbled in recognizing his. The Vermont online universe is now filled with mostly outrage, and claims of canceling subscriptions. In fact, it was only the third in a succession of curious tweets by Finley. They underscored the tempting perils of journalists, even newsroom bosses, who feel compelled to opine on, well, just about anything.Thus, Finley saw an Associated Press tweet on how fans of Frank Lloyd Wright are seeking to prevent the demolition of a Montana office building designed in 1958. This inspired a response: "I don't care who designed them, destroy all office buildings." Fine. Chalk that up to lame humor. Then, after word from none other than The New York Times that "Former President Barack Obama is to be the first guest on David Letterman's new monthly Netflix talk show," he sought to exhibit his inner Jimmy Kimmel with this: "Another reason not to subscribe to Netflix." That was lame, with a smidgen of the obtuse. As outrage quickly manifested itself over the gender matter, Finley seemed to dig a deeper hole. A Tim Sinnott tweeted that the state policy was awesome "because recognition is awesome" and Finley responded, "All recognition? Any recognition, Tim? What if someone said it's awesome they are going to recognize pedophiliacs on licenses? I'm not being snarky, I'm just asking. Not all recognition is awesome." Finley was either high-mindedly engaged in a Socratic inquiry, as if teaching a constitutional law seminar, or manifesting Jonesean (as in Alex Jones, of InfoWars) subtlety cum derision. If I'm a top Gannett official, I might now be wondering if a second bomb cyclone affecting New England is actually on my payroll. "So you think trans people are the equivalent of pedophiles?" Anderson asked. When tracked down by Vermont's Seven Days about the flap (He declined comment when I contacted him, saying, "Maybe in a few days"), Finley said, "I really just wanted to ask the question: 'Why is that awesome? And why is that necessary?' That’s all, and I think any journalist would ask that question." He said use of the word apocalypse was inspired by a Sports Illustrated feature, "Signs of the Apocalypse." When I passed through Burlington last summer, there were still Sanders T-shirts in store windows. How long before some retail outlets offer a tie-dyed image of Finley with a big, fat "X"? "Denis Finley doesn't seem to care that, when he enters the arena as executive editor, he carries the reputation of his news organization with him. 'Reader engagement' is not making provocative statements and then picking fights with people who disagree," says Tom Kearney, deputy managing editor of the Stowe Reporter, Waterbury Record and News & Citizen of Morrisville, and executive editor of the Shelburne News and The Citizen, which serves Charlotte and Hinesburg. Then there's Jon Margolis, who was an A-list national political writer during his heyday with The Chicago Tribune. That was a pre-internet world where reporters and editors weren't tweeting their views on everything from whom they'd seen at lunch, a referee's call in the NFL game they were watching or, of course, every breathing moment of Donald Trump. "Why this urge to tweet so often?" asks Margolis, who is retired in South Burlington, a few blocks from the Burlington city line. "I do not think the world breathlessly awaits my latest witty aphorism or my personal take on what happened today. If I have something to offer that’s worthwhile, I’ll write a piece about it. That means reporting — online, on the phone, at somebody’s office. And then writing, as well as possible, which means as succinctly as possible but always more than 280 clicks of the keyboard." "Tweeting is like artificial turf. The technology makes it possible, not advisable. That would apply even where the tweet is not as aggressively ignorant as Finley’s. But just think: Were he writing an article instead of a blurt (essentially what a tweet is) he might have read it over and then altered (or deep-sixed) it. Or had somebody else edit it, which even the boss should always do. Amazing how the conventional processes of newspapers can save us from ourselves." Jake Tapper vs. Stephen Miller Jousting between cable TV hosts and guests is now a performance fixture. Bill O'Reilly rode it to riches before his sexual harassment self-immolation. In its most pedestrian post-O'Reilly form, it brings some well intentioned but weak liberal saps served up as red meat for Fox's Tucker Carlson. In a fairer tussle, it brought us CNN's Jake Tapper and White House aide Stephen Miller. And Tapper giving him the boot. Tapper is evolving into his network's prime skeptic of all things Trump and, unlike Carlson, not reflexively given to pillorying lightweight guests. And Miller is the unbridled partisan who has reveled in public combat ever since his high school days at a largely liberal Los Angeles high school As The New York Times' Matt Flegenheimer has put it in a profile of Miller, his life "is a triumph of unbending convictions and at least occasional contrivance. It is a story of beliefs that congealed early in a home that he helped nudge to the right of its blue-state ZIP code, and of an ideology that became an identity for a spindly agitator at a large and racially divided public high school." "These formative years supplied the template for the life Mr. Miller has carved out for himself in Washington, where he remains the hard-line jouster many of Mr. Trump’s most zealous supporters trust most in the White House — and many former peers fear." This all began with the equally pro forma, and dungeon's host salutation, "Stephen, thanks so much for joining us and happy new year, good to see you." On Sunday, Miller called Michael Wolff the "garbage author of a garbage book," a rather mediocre pre-meditated line for someone of his acerbic and calculating essence. He called Trump a "political genius." He called it a "work of pure fiction." And "a pile of trash." It was mostly solid, fair-minded inquisition by Tapper for about six minutes, until it first got a tad personal and each started cutting off the other. Miller referred to CNN's Trump coverage as hysterical, and Tapper suggested it was Miller who was being hysterical. As if Miler were a child, Tapper asked him to "settle down, settle down." At the nine-minute mark, what had seemed a small lull turned sour as Tapper brought up a letter that Miller wrote on the subject of firing then-FBI Director James Comey. Miller stumbled a tad before Tapper broached the president's bizarre Saturday tweet on his own purported genius. Tapper correctly persisted in broaching the public discourse on Trump's rationality, as Miller sought to divert the topic to his theme of CNN being out of touch with a working America that his boss understands and CNN doesn't. Then, Tapper had enough. He said that Miller was being "obsequious," playing to an audience of one (Trump) and not answering his question. He simply cut him off. It was rather abrupt and could have been executed in a less peremptory manner. It came off as a host losing control, as much as Trump critics loved the scene and think Miller deserved it. But if you don't want to fight the lions, stay away from their pen. Regardless, both Miller and Tapper surely came away thinking they'd won (maybe all the more so as Miller was escorted out by security). Predictably, Trump soon tweeted some venom Tapper's way: "Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!" New York Times unveils ad on Golden Globes Truly salute The New York Times for actually trying to market excellence in a way that's about 20 years late for most of the newspaper industry. It unveiled the next part of its "The Truth is Hard" brand campaign during NBC's Golden Globes broadcast. Similar to its first ad on last year's Oscars, the ad features black type against a white background. "He said, she said" are the first words you see. Then they are repeated multiple times until it's just, "She said, she said, she said, she said," with the ad ending "The truth has power. The truth will not be threatened. The truth has a voice." The "truth has a voice" is a simple and potent notion. But, as a TV spot, it falls a bit flat. As one top advertising executive told me, it's unlikely that most viewers connected the paper's incredible sex harassment reporting, including on Harvey Weinstein, and the ad. For those who who did — the event was filled with unavoidable talk of sex harassment in Hollywood, including Seth Meyers' opening monologue — the ad was preaching to the choir. Potency of advertising involves melding the right media and the right audience. In a narrow sense, the Golden Globes might seem a good target — but only in a narrow sense. The Times has a great narrative to spin as to why it should be trusted, including its admirable attention to fact-checking and precision (even with some hotly disputed cuts in the copy editing force). Perhaps a larger campaign can include such factors. It's because the challenge for quality media involves more than the mere declaration of virtue. As with changing the attitudes of Americans toward sex harassment, changing attitudes toward even the best of media — especially when it comes to people paying for content — will involve a military-like campaign, with no one-size-fits-all-messages and the unavoidable (and very expensive) need to make the case with unprecedented regularity and persistence. TV news viewing continues to head south, Trump aside As Poynter reports, "Until now, local TV news viewership has been declining slowly. But a new Pew research study shows that from 2016 to 2017, the decline picked up speed." Younger Americans' turn from TV news is important. But, somewhere in the mix, is surely ideology, though the study does not point explicitly to what's been previously shown to be the sharp decline in Republicans' confidence in "mass media." A revealing photo history The Associated Press put together a gallery of photos of what actresses have tended to wear at the Golden Globe Awards over the years, as opposed to the black dresses they pointedly wore last night. The morning Babel CNN opened with Trump defending his mental fitness and, no surprise, a very brief take at colleague Tapper's spat with Miller. It gave rather more time to social media hurrahs about Winfrey's Golden Globes speech and the notion of her running for president. "When you think of the Democratic lineup for 2020 ... you pretty quickly run out of star power," said Brian Stelter, media reporter cum political analyst. "If you want to fight fire with fire, Trump is a reality TV star and Oprah Winfrey has been on TV in some ways longer than he has. There are a lot of reasons why this might make sense to Democratic insiders. That speech if anything, gave people more reason to dream it up." For sure, there was a smattering of speculation. But, one might hope, it quickly encounters recognition of what's playing out before us: the obvious limits of electing somebody with no experience in the arena. MSNBC's "Morning Joe" backed Tapper's performance ("I would have cut it short after the second answer," said Mika Brzezinski) and was the latest to get time with author Michael Wolff. And, before then, there was Axios' Jonathan Swan on what appears to be Trump's shrinking work schedule and also the co-hosts' riff on Trump's insecurity. The latter included the co-hosts venturing into the topic of TV stars, no names mentioned, being self-absorbed ("We've met a lot of people in television who are narcissistic and stupid," Brzezinski said). Hmmm. But it was a different tone on Trump's favorite morning show, "Trump & Friends," where co-host Brian Kilmeade surfaced at Pancake Pantry in Nashville, Tenn., for breakfast and generally supportive Trump chat. Oh, he was also giving away free to diners copies of new books both by himself and co-host Ainsley Earhardt. Call it a celebration of American commerce. Sending individuals back to harm Sarah Stillman, who heads the Global Migration Project at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has been compiling a database of individuals essentially deported to harm, even death in Central America. With the help of a dozen students, and lots of activists involved in immigrant rights, humanitarian aid and other organizations, she's now uncovered patterns of awful consequences to what can at times seem almost frivolous infractions and, too, insufficient government due diligence and articulation to individuals of their rights. The melancholy bottom line is underscored in this New Yorker piece. Terrific women in a mostly male soccer universe Watching loads of English soccer over the past week, I was reminded of the terrific in-studio hosting work of Brit Rebecca Lowe for NBC's fine coverage of Premier League matches, as well as Brit Kate Abdo (who is also fluent in Spanish, German and French) for Fox Sports' solid (not quite as strong and measured as NBC's) coverage of the related FA Cup tournament. The latter is one in which the top rank teams are thrown into a mix with lower division ones in frequent David vs. Goliath contests (often at the very quaint fields of the Davids). Sunday, mighty Arsenal was such a victim. And yet, they are surrounded by a sea of men, in studio and out, with all the match announcers men and, with a single seeming exception, glimpsed in an Arsenal-Nottingham Forest match yesterday, all the refs and linesman are male (there was a female linesman). New England hoopla New England Patriots fans have reason to be suspicious of ESPN, as columnist Chad Finn, underscores. An us-versus-the-world mindset is partly fueled by some inaccurate reporting on the Patriots by ESPN. But when it comes to its chronicle of rising tensions among the owner, coach and star quarterback, Finn defends reporter Seth Wickersham The reflexive doubts are too bad, he writes, since "if the story is read with clear eyes and all rooting interests aside, it’s far more illuminating than it is salacious." Are we so sure that Mueller is investigating Trump for obstruction? Writing in the excellent Lawfare blog, Harvard Law's Jack Goldsmith raises the possibility that the seeming lack of recusal by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the Mueller Russia investigation might suggest that there's not the obstruction investigation that folks assume (speculation fueled further by a Michael Schmidt opus in The New York Times last week). "One possibility is that Rosenstein has no conflict because Mueller is not actually investigating the president for obstruction. It has been widely reported for months in multiple reputable outlets that Mueller is conducting such an investigation. Schmidt’s story implies that he is, and reports that Mueller has evidence in his possession that appears relevant only to an obstruction investigation." The reader over your shoulder There's unavoidable counsel to journalists in a blog in the Paris Review, the literary bastion founded by the late George Plimpton, as Patricia O'Conner an author and former staff writer at The New York Times Book Review, discusses a 1940s work by poet-novelist Robert Graves, "The Reader Over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose.” The book turned on the notion that writers should imagine a bunch of readers standing over their shoulder, in the process laying out 41 core principles and, then, annealing 50 excerpts of writing from famous authors to school headmasters. Graves was pretty fearless in underscoring lack of clarity. As O'Conner puts it, "Those forty-one principles work both ways; they make for better reading as well as better writing. They can show a reader what’s wrong with something that rings false or doesn’t make sense or leaves questions unanswered. In a climate where rumors, impressions, and outright lies are sometimes treated as fact, informed readers are more important than ever. No democracy can afford to be without readers who can ask the right questions, who can critically judge what they read, who can mentally peer over an author’s shoulder." And tonight's big college football championship game It's Alabama versus Georgia and, reports The Wall Street Journal this morning, "ESPN, armed with new data about its viewers, is more aggressively selling its female audience, starting with the College Football Playoff, which culminates in Monday’s championship game. The timing couldn’t be better. Advertisers are looking for new ways to reach women, and more efficiently reach broader audiences, as consumer viewing habits change." "Financial services firm Northwestern Mutual is among the advertisers using college football to reach women and families. The company wasn’t new to the playoff, and knew that the sporting event reached a 'healthy mix of men and women and families,' but a new pitch and compelling data from ESPN helped the company 'come up with different ad spots' targeting women and families, said Aditi Gokhale, Northwestern Mutual’s chief marketing officer." Corrections? Tips? Please email me: Would you like to get this roundup emailed to you every morning? Sign up here.
– 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.) ||||| One day after the apparent suicide of his daughter Kate Spade, her nearly 90-year-old father said she'd be gratified to know that something good might come from the worldwide discussion of her death. "One thing we feel is that any talk that they do that helps somebody else, Katy would have liked that," her father, Frank Brosnahan, said from his house in Kansas City on Wednesday. "She was always giving and charitable. If that helped anybody avoid anything — fine, she'd be delighted." Brosnahan said he was aware that the most famous of his six children was having troubles. "She'd been taking some pills, which I advised her not to take," he shared. But he also said that he spoke to her on Monday, the evening before she died. "Well, I don't know what happened," he said. "The last I talked with her, the night before last, she was happy planning a trip to California to look at colleges. She doted on her daughter." Premium content for only $0.99 For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today. Spade's daughter, 13-year-old Frances Beatrix, was not home when her mother, at age 55, apparently hanged herself in their New York condominium. SHARE COPY LINK Kate Spade, a fashion designer known for her sleek handbags, was found hanged in the bedroom of her Park Avenue apartment in an apparent suicide, police confirmed at a press conference Tuesday. Andy Spade File photo Spade's husband and business partner, Andy Spade — the brother of actor and comedian David Spade — told The New York Times on Wednesday that he and his wife had been living apart for the last 10 months but they had no plans to divorce. They maintained different apartments a few blocks from each other, continued to take vacations together, and their daughter split her time between them. Spade, in a lengthy statement, also said his wife began suffering serious bouts of depression about six years ago. The day of Spade's death, her 57-year-old sister, Reta Saffo, emailed The Star to say her sister's suicide was "not unexpected." She told of how her sister battled mental illness, perhaps bipolar disorder, for several years, and eschewed efforts to be hospitalized. Her revelations about her sister, whose name is synonymous with a billion-dollar fashion brand, were spread by media outlets worldwide. Their brother, Earl Brosnahan, told The New York Times that Saffo had been estranged from the family for more than 10 years, and that Spade was the only sibling she had been speaking to. He was taken aback that Saffo "should surface now with very definitive statements that I think are grossly inaccurate.” But their father, Frank Brosnahan, who contacted The Star on Wednesday, supported Saffo's decision to openly discuss her sister's death and struggles. "Well, that's up to her," he said. "She's a grown woman and we love her and she means nothing but love for her sister." He said he suspects and hopes that his daughter's body may come home to Kansas City. "I think so," said Brosnahan, speaking broadly for the family. "At least that's what I would like. I'd like for her to be buried with her mother. They were very close." In 1999, Kate Spade (center) came home from New York for the annual Amy Thompson Run to Daylight to benefit the Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City. She attended a benefit reception with (from left) her mother, June Brosnahan (who died in 2010), Byron G. Thompson, Karen VanAsdale and Jeanne Thompson. Laura R. Hockaday The Kansas City Star Spade is also survived by three other sisters, Missy, Ann and Eve. Her mother, June Mullen Brosnahan, a former flight attendant and Realtor, died in March 2010 and is buried in Kansas City's Calvary Cemetery, 6901 Troost Ave. Attempts to reach other family members were unsuccessful. But in a statement to the New York Daily News and other outlets, the family said, "We are all devastated by today’s tragedy. We loved Kate dearly and will miss her terribly. We would ask that our privacy be respected as we grieve during this very difficult time." Spade is also the aunt of television actress Rachel Brosnahan — Earl Brosnahan's daughter — who won a Golden Globe this year for her starring role in Amazon's "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." Rachel Brosnahan won best performance by an actress in a television series - musical or comedy for "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards. She is the niece of Kate Spade. Jordan Strauss Invision/AP On Instagram, the young actress posted a video of Spade dancing to a mariachi band and wrote: "Knowing Katy, this is how she would want to be remembered. She had a light that words can’t capture but touched everyone she came into contact with. She was exceedingly kind, beautifully sensitive, insanely talented, funny as heck and one of the most generous people I have ever known. She was effervescent. Hug your loved ones extra tight today." Frank Brosnahan was asked how his family was faring. "I think they're all right," he said. "We're a large family and all close. We'll get through it. "But we certainly miss our bright, sun-shiney little person." ||||| 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 Amanda Southworth is founder of Astra Labs (Photo: Amanda Southworth) Sitting alone in a lifeguard tower watching the sun sink below the horizon, Amanda Southworth had a decision to make. This Los Angeles teen, gripped by depression and anxiety, could continue on as she had, not eating, addicted to painkillers and attempting repeatedly to kill herself, or she could grab a lifeline and use her love of coding to save her own life and others. On that chilly summer evening in 2015, she hatched the idea for AnxietyHelper, a mobile app that offers the resources she herself needed and embarked on a journey of healing and recovery that has led to a career in the tech world. “I can honestly say that technology has saved my life,” Southworth said. She says she hasn't harmed herself or attempted suicide since. “When I found something greater than myself, I realized that I am not just a person with a life. I am a person who has something to contribute.” Now 16, she has dropped out of high school and last month started her own company — but not the way most young technology entrepreneurs do. Astra Labs is a software nonprofit funded by donors and a $25,000 grant from the TOMS Social Entrepreneurship Fund. She spoke to USA TODAY from Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California, on Friday. Southworth's commitment to creating mobile apps and other software that help others was reinforced this week. The deaths of designer Kate Spade and chef and television host Anthony Bourdain were grim reminders of the toll of suicide, the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States and one of three that is increasing, particularly for teens. The suicide rate for white children and teens ages 10 to 17 rose 70 percent between 2006 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although black children and teens kill themselves less often than white youth do, the rate of increase was higher, 77 percent. Southworth estimates she has been mentally ill for more than half her life. She says she attempted suicide at least seven times. The bottom fell out when, as a nerdy kid, she moved to a new town for middle school, where she had no friends and felt like an outsider. Southworth used to send her future self emails that reflected her feelings of isolation and worthlessness: “I hope you’re not alive to get this email.” She daydreamed at school about killing herself. She'd wake up in the morning and cry that she was still alive. More: Anthony Bourdain highlights the rising suicide rate among middle-aged adults More: Suicide warning signs: Here's what to look for when someone needs help More: 'We're so extremely busy:' More calling suicide prevention hotlines since celebrity deaths More: A friend's Facebook, Instagram post may be a suicide warning sign. Here's what to do next What saved her: a sixth-grade robotics club in 2011, which introduced her to the possibilities of technology and inspired her to soak up knowledge about web development and artificial intelligence from the internet and textbooks. Her first app, AnxietyHelper, a mental health resource guide, debuted in the app store in September 2015 during her ninth-grade Latin class. Her excited classmates downloaded it, and she finished the day with 18 users. Even that small achievement gave her belief in her own power and a sense of purpose, Southworth says. “I was always very destructive toward myself. Coding is the opposite. It’s about creating. It’s about taking different characters on a keyboard and transforming them into something bigger than you,” she said. In May 2017, she launched a mobile app called Verena for the LGBTQ community after friends were bullied in the tense political climate around the presidential election. Verena, which means protector in German, locates hospitals, shelters and police stations and users can create a list of contacts to be alerted in an emergency. "Everything in my life has shown me that both good and bad things in this world will continue to happen and that's out of our control. But it's what we do with the things that happen to us that can make all of the difference," she said in a TedX talk last November in Pasadena, California. "My name is Amanda Southworth, I’m 15 years old, a junior in high school and I'm still alive." "I can honestly say that technology saved my life," says Amanda Southworth, founder of Astra Labs. (Photo: Amanda Southworth) Building apps relieves stress and helps her cope and problem solve, she says. And helping others has helped her heal herself. “The more I work, the more I do what I love, the better I feel,” she said. Until she started Astra Labs, Southworth bootstrapped her apps, working random tech jobs. The apps are free, and she runs no ads and does not collect user data. “My core philosophy is that people should not have to pay for something if their life would be ended without it,” she said. Three more apps are in the works: one to help turn handwritten class notes into study guides and practice tests, another to help people follow political and social issues they care about and a third that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help those with schizophrenia determine when they are experiencing hallucinations. People come up to Southworth and say: Your app stopped me from killing myself. One user told her the app helped her after a rape. A facilitator at a tech summit confided that if her friend had had the Verena app, that person might still be alive. Stories of suicide, like that of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, whose music helped Southworth through dark passages in her life, still haunt her. “Maybe if I worked a little harder on this," she said. "I could have gotten help to him or to someone else thinking about suicide.” Follow USA TODAY senior technology writer Jessica Guynn on Twitter @jguynn Read or Share this story:
– 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... ||||| Video (00:42) : Minnesota residents and fans of Garrison Keillor expressed sadness and disappointment at news that he has been accused of improper behavior. Garrison Keillor, whose soothing voice and gentle humor helped define the world’s view of Minnesota, has been dropped by Minnesota Public Radio for “inappropriate behavior” toward a co-worker. MPR said Wednesday it is severing all ties to the longtime host of radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” The show, which he handed off last year to hand-picked successor Chris Thile, will be retitled — Keillor holds the trademark — and his old broadcasts no longer will be aired. Officials at the network would not comment beyond a statement saying they were notified last month of allegations relating to Keillor’s conduct while he was responsible for producing “PHC.” “I put my hand on a woman’s bare back,” he told the Star Tribune by e-mail minutes after MPR’s statement. “I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.” The 75-year-old humorist who helped make MPR a powerhouse seemed more hurt, resigned and defensive than apologetic. “It’s astonishing that 50 years of hard work can be trashed in a morning by an accusation,” he said in a Facebook post Wednesday evening. “I always believed in hard work and now it feels sort of meaningless. Only a friend can hurt you this badly. I think I have to leave the country in order to walk around in public and not feel accusing glances.” He later deleted that public comment and then, in a post to Facebook friends (including some journalists), said he had just had a good conversation “with my dear friend who I am married to, on the subject of What Do We Really Need in Life. It’s very simple. I need her and I need to have work to do and I need to live someplace where we can both be happy. I have about ten years of work to do, sitting in my computer. I want to write a couple movies, write a weekly column (preferably humorous), write a book called Gratitude. I think we should move east and leave the past behind.” MPR details its decision Although he stepped away from “Prairie Home,” Keillor retained a producer credit and continued to record his daily feature, “The Writer’s Almanac,” for syndication by MPR’s distribution arm, St. Paul-based American Public Media. Gallery Grid Prev 1 /25 Next Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor rehearsed before his last show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in 2016. Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor rehearses a song with Aoife O'Donovan, left, and Heather Masse, right, during rehearsal at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor rehearses a song with Aoife O'Donovan, center, and Heather Masse, right, during rehearsal at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor performs with singer Aoife O�Donovan during the live broadcast at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor jokes around with Sara Watkins during rehearsal at the State Theatre. Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor thanks the audience after the show at the State Theatre. Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor performs a few more songs for the audience after the live broadcast has ended at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor reads the "News from Lake Wobegon" during the live broadcast at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor reads the "News from Lake Wobegon" during the live broadcast at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor gets ready for the live broadcast in his dressing room at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor sings with the audience during the encore. Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor takes a bow with the performers after the show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor talks with singer Heather Masse outside his dressing room after the show. Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor greets fans at the State Theatre after the show. Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor poses for a selfie with sisters Janna Graham, left, of Plymouth, and Julie Berninghaus of Eagan after the show at the State Theatre. Leila Navidi – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor signs a poster for fan Carol Montgomerie of Franklin, Tenn. after the show. Jerry Holt – Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor talks about the early days of "Prairie Home Companion" when it originated at Macalester College. Mike Zerby – RPA - Minneapolis Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor outside the World Theater in downtown St. Paul in 1993, where he welcomed himself back home to the gathered crowd. He narrated a big-screen slide show on the history of "A Prairie Home Companion" at the welcome back street party given by Minnesota Public Radio. About 1,000 folks were treated to free entertainment and free corn on the cob. For $5, one could get meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Stormi Greener – RPA - Minneapolis Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor signed autographs in 1990 during a benefit luncheon at the Greenhaven Country Club. Proceeds went to the Anoka County Community Action Program and to the Anoka-Ramsey Community College Foundation. Duane Braley – RPA - Minneapolis Star Tribune Gallery: Fans of Garrison Keillor got conversation as well as his autograph Tuesday in Minneapolis in 1987. Donald Black – RPA - Minneapolis Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor in 1969. Stormi Greener – RPA - Minneapolis Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor in 1987. Rpa - Gallery: Garrison Keillor in 1984. Handout Gallery: Garrison Keillor in the late 1970s. Mike Zerby – RPA - Minneapolis Star Tribune Gallery: Garrison Keillor in 1974. MPR said it would halt that feature. It also will separate itself from the Pretty Good Goods online catalog, which sells Keillor merchandise, and the website “I’m in shock,” new host Thile wrote on Twitter. “I know nothing beyond what’s contained in the MPR statement but I trust that the proper steps are being taken.” The “Prairie Home” team is in New York City for three weekends of live shows beginning Saturday. Representatives refused to comment, but a Hawaii Public Radio e-mail said the working title is now “The Chris Thile Show” and its host will address the situation in his monologue Saturday. MPR said it was aware of no similar allegations involving other staff, but “the investigation is still ongoing.” “While we appreciate the contributions Garrison has made to MPR and to all of public radio, we believe this decision is the right thing to do and is necessary to continue to earn your trust and that of our employees,” MPR President Jon McTaggart told members in an e-mail. Keillor later posted a statement on his website. “I’ve been fired over a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard,” he said. “Most stories are. It’s some sort of poetic irony to be knocked off the air by a story, having told so many of them myself, but I’m 75 and don’t have any interest in arguing about this. And I cannot in conscience bring danger to a great organization I’ve worked hard for since 1969. “I am sorry for all the poets whose work I won’t be reading on the radio and sorry for the people who will lose work on account of this. But my profound feeling is that of gratitude, especially to my wife Jenny, and for this painful experience that has brought us even closer together.” He and Jenny Lind Nilsson, a violist for the Minnesota Opera, have been married since 1995. It is his third marriage. Garrison Keillor speaking in 1994 about sexual harassment. ‘Prairie Home’ history MPR was just two years old in 1969 when its founder, Bill Kling, hired Keillor as an announcer. Together they launched “Prairie Home” on July 6, 1974, with a live broadcast from Macalester College witnessed by a handful of people. The show began airing nationwide in 1980 and grew into a hit that fueled MPR’s growth into one of the nation’s largest public radio operations. At its peak, Keillor drew 4 million listeners every week while serving as Minnesota’s cultural ambassador, with tales of the mythical Lake Wobegon that skewered the state’s work ethic, good-hearted earthiness and humble nature. He appeared on the cover of Time magazine. His book “Lake Wobegon Days” sold more than 1 million copies in 1985. Playgirl named him one of the sexiest men in America. In his e-mail to the Star Tribune, he said “anyone who ever was around my show can tell you that I was the least physically affectionate person in the building. Actors hug, musicians hug, people were embracing every Saturday night left and right, and I stood off in the corner like a stone statue. If I had a dollar for every woman who asked to take a selfie with me and who slipped an arm around me and let it drift down below the belt line, I’d have at least a hundred dollars. So this is poetic irony of a high order.” A tireless writer, Keillor authored more than two dozen books, hosted cruises, contributed to major magazines and scripted a 2006 film, “A Prairie Home Companion,” a fictionalized story about the show with an all-star cast including Meryl Streep, Woody Harrelson and Lindsay Lohan. He continued a busy schedule after leaving “Prairie Home,” touring the country with a similar live show — a performance Wednesday night in Pittsfield, Mass., was canceled — and writing occasional columns for the Washington Post News Service & Syndicate. The service said it was taking the allegations “seriously and is seeking more information about them.” Column defending Franken Coincidentally, Keillor defended Minnesota Sen. Al Franken in a syndicated column this week after Los Angeles radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden reported that Franken kissed and groped her without her consent during a 2006 USO tour. “He did USO tours overseas when he was in the comedy biz,” Keillor wrote. “He did it from deep in his heart, out of patriotism, and the show he did was broad comedy of a sort that goes back to the Middle Ages. … Miss Tweeden knew what the game was and played her role and on the flight home, in a spirit of low comedy, Al ogled her and pretended to grab her and a picture was taken. Eleven years later, a talk show host in L.A., she goes public with her embarrassment, and there is talk of resignation. This is pure absurdity and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness. No kidding.” Keillor mentioned the Franken controversy in an e-mail to MPR News on Wednesday. “I think the country is in the grip of a mania — the whole Franken business is an absurdity — and I wish someone [would] resist it,” he wrote, “but I expect MPR to look out for itself, and meanwhile I feel awfully lucky to have hung on for so long.” Mark Vancleave Video (03:31): July, 2016: Garrison Keillor reflects on the art of the performance as "Prairie Home" celebrated 40 years with a live show at Macalester College in St. Paul. Video (03:31): July, 2016: Garrison Keillor reflects on the art of the performance as "Prairie Home" celebrated 40 years with a live show at Macalester College in St. Paul. ||||| Image copyright PA Image caption Sir Tim Hunt was speaking at a conference in South Korea Scientist 'sorry' over girls comment A Nobel laureate has apologised for any offence after he made comments about the "trouble with girls" in science - but said he had "meant to be honest". Sir Tim Hunt, who is a Royal Society fellow, reportedly told a conference in South Korea women in labs "cry" when you criticise them and "fall in love" with their male counterparts. He told the BBC he "did mean" the remarks but was "really sorry". The society said Sir Tim's comments did not reflect its own views. 'Emotional entanglements' Sir Tim, 72, who was awarded the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine in 2001 for his work on how cells divide, reportedly told the World Conference of Science Journalists: "Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry." Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said he was "really sorry that I said what I said", adding it was "a very stupid thing to do in the presence of all those journalists". Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Sir Tim Hunt suggested 'girls' should stay out of the laboratory because they distract men The British biochemist, who was knighted in 2006, said the remarks were "intended as a light-hearted, ironic comment" but had been "interpreted deadly seriously by my audience". He went on to say he stood by some of the remarks. "I did mean the part about having trouble with girls," he said. "It is true that people - I have fallen in love with people in the lab and people in the lab have fallen in love with me and it's very disruptive to the science because it's terribly important that in a lab people are on a level playing field. "I found that these emotional entanglements made life very difficult. "I'm really, really sorry I caused any offence, that's awful. I certainly didn't mean that. I just meant to be honest, actually." 'Stony-faced audience' On his remarks about women crying, he said: "It's terribly important that you can criticise people's ideas without criticising them and if they burst into tears, it means that you tend to hold back from getting at the absolute truth. "Science is about nothing but getting at the truth and anything that gets in the way of that diminishes, in my experience, the science." Connie St Louis, a lecturer in science journalism at City University, was in the 100-strong audience in South Korea. "Nobody was laughing, everybody was stony-faced," she told the BBC News Channel. "The Korean female scientists who hosted us looked aghast and he just ploughed on for about five to seven minutes. "It was just really shocking. It was culturally insensitive and it was very sexist. I just thought, 'Where in the world do you think you are that you can be making these kind of comments in 2015?'" Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Lecturer Connie St Louis described the mood in the room as Sir Tim Hunt made his remarks Dr Jennifer Rohn, a cell biologist at University College London, added: "I think it was clear he was trying to be funny. But people will interpret his comments as having a kernel of truth underneath. And as a Nobel laureate, I know he's a human being, but he does have some sort of responsibility as a role model and as an ambassador for the profession." Imran Khan, chief executive of the British Science Association, said Sir Tim's comments were "careless". "Sadly, dealing with sexism and other forms of discrimination are a daily reality for many people, and I imagine it's hard to find Sir Tim's comments funny if you've been held back by systemic bias for years - whether those remarks were intended as a joke or not," he said. The Royal Society, which promotes and supports scientific advances, said: "Too many talented individuals do not fulfil their scientific potential because of issues such as gender and the society is committed to helping to put this right. "Sir Tim Hunt was speaking as an individual and his reported comments in no way reflect the views of the Royal Society."
– 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 ||||| November 21, 2016 An Open Letter to Local and State Educational Agencies & Policymakers: On behalf of the National Women’s Law Center and the undersigned organizations and individuals, we call on local, state, and federal policymakers to address the damaging use of corporal punishment against our nation’s schoolchildren. It is important to eliminate the use of corporal punishment in both public schools and private schools, which serve students receiving federal services, as well as assist in creating a safer learning environment for every child. Instead, we urge policymakers to ensure that our schools are places where students and educators interact in positive ways that foster students’ growth and dignity. More than 109,000 students were subjected to corporal punishment in public schools in the 2013-14 school year —down from 163,333 in the 2011-12 school year. Despite the decline in instances and the many problems associated with the hitting or paddling of students, corporal punishment is a legal form of school discipline in 19 states. Corporal punishment is often used for a wide range of misbehaviors; for example, 37 percent of corporal punishment used in North Carolina during the 2013-14 school year were for minor or subjective offenses like “bus misbehavior, disrespect of staff, cell phone use, inappropriate language and other misbehaviors.” Aside from the infliction of pain and physical injury that often result from the use of physical punishment, these violent disciplinary methods impact students’ academic achievement and long-term well-being. Harsh physical punishments do not improve students’ in-school behavior or academic performance. In fact, one study found that schools in states where corporal punishment is used perform worse on national academic assessments than schools in states that prohibit corporal punishment. Moreover, evidence indicates that corporal punishment is disproportionately applied against certain groups of students. In seven states in which corporal punishment was legal in the 2011-12 school year, Black children were three to five times more likely to be corporally punished than white students. Similarly, in several states in the 2011-12 school year, students with disabilities were over five times more likely to experience corporal punishment than students without disabilities. These students are often punished simply for behaviors related to their disabilities, such as autism or Tourette’s syndrome. Hitting any student should be an unacceptable practice, but the disproportionate application of corporal punishment against these populations further undermines their educational environment. Furthermore, corporal punishment of adults has been banned in U.S. prisons and military training facilities. And every state has animal cruelty laws that criminalize beating animals so long and hard that it causes injury—even while allowing students to be subject to corporal punishment. Eliminating the use of corporal punishment in schools will assist in ensuring the safety of all students and educators. Families should be allowed to protect their children and states should prohibit the use of physical punishment against students and ensure that a plan is in place to alert school personnel and parents of policies eliminating corporal punishment for students. In addition, policymakers should also give schools and educators new tools to foster a positive school climate by encouraging the use of school-wide positive behavior supports, an evidence-based approach to school discipline proven to reduce school discipline referrals and support improved academic outcomes. Local and state educational agencies should also take advantage of grants from the Every Student Succeeds Act, which provides funds to educational agencies to develop and implement restorative justice and positive behavioral supports and interventions in classrooms and schools and train teachers and staff in these methods. All local and state educational agencies have a significant interest in ensuring a positive learning environment for the nation’s students. By eliminating the harmful practice of corporal punishment and implementing positive, evidence-based policies, local and state leaders can help students achieve access to a safe and high-quality education. Sincerely, National Women’s Law Center, joined by the following organizations: Academy on Violence and Abuse ACLU American Academy of Pediatrics American Association of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry American Association of University Women American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO American Humanist Association American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children American Psychological Association American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee Americans Against Corporal Punishment in Public School Association of University Centers on Disabilities Attachment Parenting International, Atlanta Chapter Barton Child Law and Policy Center, Emory Law School Center for Civil Rights Remedies, Civil Rights Project at UCLA Center for Effective Discipline Champion Women Child Safe of Central Missouri, Inc. Children’s Advocacy Institute Children’s Defense Fund Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues Coleman Advocates for Children & Youth Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates Dane County District Attorney’s Deferred Prosecution Program Dignity in Schools Campaign Division 7: Developmental Psychology, American Psychological Association Education Law Center-PA Family Services Network Futures Without Violence Girls Inc. GLSEN Gundersen Health System Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center Gwinnett Parent Coalition to Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline (Gwinnett SToPP) Integrated Clinical & Correctional Services Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law Lives in the Balance Massachusetts Citizens for Children Minnesota Communities Caring for Children, Home of Prevent Child Abuse MN NAACP National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) National Association of School Psychologists National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) National Autism Association National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools National Disability Rights Network National Down Syndrome Congress National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) National Education Association National Organization for Women National PTA NC Child NCLR (National Council of La Raza) Nollie Jenkins Family Center, Inc. Otto Bremer Trust Center for Safe and Healthy Children Parent Trust for Washington Children Partnership for Violence Free Families Prevent Child Abuse Illinois Project KnuckleHead PsycHealth, Ltd. Rights4Girls Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law SelfWorks SisterReach SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) Southern Poverty Law Center StopSpanking.ORG TASH Tennesseans for Non Violent School Discipline The National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan The Parenting Network TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project) U.S. Alliance to End the Hitting of Children University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law Juvenile and Special Education Law Clinic Upbring Women’s Law Project Youth Service, Inc.
– 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!
– 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 ||||| Mr Justice Peter Smith was furious at BA after his luggage went missing on a flight from Florence Tim Boyle/Getty Images The judge who stepped down from a £3 billion dispute involving British Airways after complaining about his lost luggage is being investigated by judicial conduct authorities. Mr Justice Peter Smith fired off angry emails to British Airways after his luggage failed to arrive at Gatwick after a trip to Florence — and then berated counsel when the dispute came before him in court. He agreed to step down from the case after BA’s legal team, led by Jon Turner, QC, raised questions of bias in court last week, and applied for him to stand aside. Another judge, Mrs Justice Rose, has now been appointed to succeed Mr Justice Peter Smith on the mammoth dispute which relates to a 2010 European Commission ruling that BA and…
– 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
– 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.” ||||| The major character dying on "The Simpsons" may have been revealed, and we're not clowning around. Fans have been speculating for months on what character would be killed off in the Seasons 26 premiere of "The Simpsons," and now it appears that Krusty the Clown is set for his final act. The show's executive producer Al Jean caused a frenzy when he announced the first episode in the new season of the show would be called "Clown in the Dumps." Jean has also said that the actor who voices the soon-to-be-departed character has won an Emmy for his/her work, something that the voice of Krusty, Dan Castellaneta, has done. Even with the strong evidence that Krusty will take his final bow, Jean still chose to play coy, saying, "I didn’t say I was killing Krusty ... I didn't say I wasn't," during the Television Critics Association press tour, according to Mashable. With that, some of the other characters that are still on the chopping block include: Krusty's dad Rabbi Hyman Krustofski (Jackie Mason), Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammer), Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Marge (Julie Kavner), Lisa (Yeardley Smith) and the many characters voiced by Hank Azaria. So whether or not Krusty dies in the end, it appears that Jean will have the last laugh.
– 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."

This is a copy of the Multi-News dataset, except the input source documents of the 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: "oracle", i.e. the number of documents retrieved, k, is set as the original number of input documents for each example

Retrieval results on the train set:

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

Retrieval results on the validation set:

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

Retrieval results on the test set:

Recall@100 Rprec Precision@k Recall@k
0.8625 0.6927 0.6927 0.6927
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