U2's Bono urges lawmakers to view aid as national security

U2 front man Bono brought his star power to Capitol Hill Tuesday as he called on members of Congress to take swift action to deal with the global refugee crisis and violent extremism.

In testimony before a Senate subcommittee, Bono drew a bleak picture as he described the flood of people fleeing their homes in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The human torrent threatens the very idea of European unity, he said, as he urged lawmakers to think of foreign aid as national security instead of charity.

"When aid is structured properly, with a focus on fighting poverty and improving governance, it could just be the best bulwark we have against the extremism of our age," Bono said.

Wearing his trademark rose-tinted glasses, Bono said members of Congress need to confront an "existential threat" to Europe that hasn't been seen since the 1940s. He said three extremes -- violence, poverty and climate -- make for a potent enemy.

In Syria, five years of violence has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced another 11 million from their homes. Nearly 174,000 migrants have reached Europe by sea since the beginning of this year alone and 723 are missing or dead, many drowning in the cold, rough waters, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Before sitting at the witness table, Bono posed for photos with three members of Code Pink, who wore pink tiaras and held cardboard torches and signs reading "Refugees Welcome."

Cameras whirred furiously as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the subcommittee chairman, quipped: "So this is what it's like to be chopped liver." Bono joined a congressional delegation led by Graham that just returned from Africa and the Middle East.

Bono co-founded the One Campaign, an advocacy group that works to end poverty and preventable disease.

Source: FOX NEWS

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Huge wins for Trump, Clinton

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton notched huge wins in New York Tuesday night, resoundingly answering questions about their command of the race and moving both front-runners much closer to their nominations.

For Trump, the win means he could sweep the state's 95 delegates and potentially position himself to win the GOP nomination without going through a contested convention in July. Clinton's win, meanwhile, could blunt Bernie Sanders' momentum once and for all.
The biggest question for Trump going into the night was whether his margin of victory would be high enough to clinch most of New York's 95 delegates. CNN projects Trump will clear the 50% threshold to take all of New York's 14 statewide delegates. He will need to win majorities in each of the state's 27 congressional districts to win all of the remaining delegates.
With 63% of the vote in at 10:28 p.m. ET, Trump was in the lead at 59.7% while Ohio Gov. John Kasich was at 25.3% and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was at 15%.
"We're going to end at a very high level and get a lot more delegates than anybody projected even in their wildest imaginations," Trump said in a victory speech from Trump Tower.
He added: "We're going to go into the convention I think as the winner."
With 78% of the Democratic vote in at 10:38 p.m. ET, Clinton was leading Sanders 57.9% to 42.1%.

'Victory is in sight'

"We started this race not far from here on Roosevelt Island," Clinton said in her victory speech. "And tonight, a little less than a year later, the race for the Democratic nomination is in the homestretch and victory is in sight. "
Heading into Tuesday, Trump and Clinton found themselves in a similar position: hoping to gain validation and momentum after a string of disappointments and missteps.
Over the past few weeks, Trump has come face-to-face with the Cruz campaign's strong command of the complicated delegate allocation rules. The GOP front-runner has expressed frustration as he's watched Cruz walk away with victories and grow his delegate pile -- a sentiment that boiled over after the Texas senator swept the Colorado Republican convention earlier this month.
But Trump sought to dismiss Cruz on Tuesday.
"We don't have much of a race anymore," Trump said. "Sen. Cruz is just about mathematically eliminated."
Cruz, whose campaign is prepared to walk away from New York with zero delegates, delivered remarks in Philadelphia Tuesday night that sought to draw a contrast between himself and Trump and emphasize party unity.
"I'm so excited to share with you what America has learned over the past few months, and it has nothing to do with a politician winning his home state," Cruz said, calling 2016 the "year of the outsider."
"We must unite the Republican Party because doing so is the first step toward uniting all Americans," he added. "Let us unite on the things that have always made us great."

Magic number

Fearing that the magic number of 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination was becoming increasingly elusive, Trump sanctioned changes within his operations.
Perhaps most notably, he announced the hire of veteran Republican strategist Paul Manafort to oversee the campaign's delegate gathering efforts. Meanwhile, Trump's national field director, Stuart Jolly, resigned Monday amid a staff shakeup that put Scott Walker's former campaign manager in charge of the campaign's ground operations.
On the Democratic side, 247 delegates are up for grabs on Tuesday.
Although Clinton continues to have a sizable lead in delegates, the New York race comes after Sanders has won eight of the last nine Democratic contests -- a reality that the Vermont senator has repeatedly touted on the campaign trail.
"I think the Clinton campaign and the secretary are getting a little bit nervous," Sanders told CNN after last week's particularly combative Democratic debate in Brooklyn.
Tuesday's contests were particularly significant for three of the candidates who have roots in New York.
Trump is a Queens native and Manhattanite whose famous last name is featured on real estate properties around the city. For Clinton, the race was something of a homecoming: she was a New York senator for eight years, owns a home in Chappaqua and her campaign headquarters is in Brooklyn. And while Sanders has represented Vermont on Capitol Hill for decades, he was born and raised in Brooklyn and has spoken fondly about his upbringing in the borough.
Clinton in particular appeared to delight in campaigning in the five boroughs in recent days. She kept a packed schedule that included riding the subway, drinking bubble tea and sampling dumplings in Brooklyn -- all part of an effort to tour the city and mingle with its residents in relatively casual settings.
Trump and Clinton spent Tuesday morning taking care of their first order of business: voting.
Trump visited his polling station, the Central Synagogue three blocks east of Trump Tower, where he cast a ballot for himself for the first time.
"It's a proud moment. It's a great moment. And who would've thought? It's just an honor," he told reporters.

New Yorkers in the spotlight

With so much at stake for the two front-runners, Empire State voters on were in the unusual position -- for the first time in decades -- of playing a crucial role in the presidential nomination process.
Local political figures in both parties are relishing the state's rare moment in the spotlight of a presidential election.
"It's been an unusual circumstance where New York is one of the deciding factors in the Democratic race, so that's exciting," said Democratic Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
New York State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox referred to the contests here as his state's "New Hampshire moment" -- a reference to the New England state's outsized role in the presidential primary.
"This is what the New York state party needs. We need this kind of excitement," Cox said. "We are indeed having our decisive moment in selecting the next president of the United States."


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As many as 500 migrants drowned in Mediterranean, agency says

As many as 500 migrants may have died when a large ship sank in the Mediterranean last week between Libya and Italy, the United Nations refugee agency said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a U.N. team interviewed survivors of what could be one of the worst tragedies involving refugees and migrants in the last 12 months.
A year in the life of migrants



A year in the life of migrants 01:47
The 41 survivors -- 37 men, three women and a 3-year-old child -- were rescued by a merchant ship Saturday and taken to Kalamata, Greece.
Those rescued include 23 Somalis, 11 Ethiopians, 6 Egyptians and one person from Sudan, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said.

Disaster came as smugglers transferred people to another boat at sea

The survivors told U.N. officials they had been part of a group of between 100 and 200 people that departed last week on a 30-meter boat from a site near Tobruk, Libya.
After sailing for several hours, the smugglers in charge of the boat attempted to transfer the passengers to a larger ship already carrying hundreds of people in overcrowded conditions, the U.N. agency said.
During the transfer, the larger boat capsized and sank, the agency said.
The 41 survivors include people who had not yet boarded the larger vessel, as well as some who managed to swim back to the smaller boat. They drifted at sea for as long as three days before being rescued, the U.N. said.
UNHCR visited the survivors at a stadium in Kalamata, where they're being housed by local authorities while they undergo police procedures.
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Prince Found Dead in an Elevator, Police Continue to Investigate Death

Police have revealed new details about Prince's shocking death on Thursday.

Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson tells ET that the late legendary musician was found unresponsive in an elevator when officials responded to a call at Prince's Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota, at 9:43 a.m.

WATCH: Celebs React to Prince's Death

"When deputies and medical personnel arrived, they found an unresponsive adult male in the elevator," Olson said in a statement. "First responders attempted to provide lifesaving CPR, but were unable to revive the victim. He was pronounced deceased at 10:07 a.m. He has been identified as Prince Rogers Nelson of Chanhassen."

The Sheriff's Office is continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding Prince's death with the assistance of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and The Midwest Medical Examiner's Office.

PICS: A Look Back at Prince's Most Iconic Moments

The GRAMMY winner's rep also confirmed the news of his death to ET on Thursday, saying, "It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer, Prince Rogers Nelson, has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57. There are no further details as to the cause of death at this time."

NEWS: Prince Dead at 57

The tragic news comes just one week after a private jet carrying the singer was forced to make an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, where Prince was rushed to a nearby hospital and treated for the flu. A rep for the singer confirmed at the time that Prince had been flown home and was recovering after a brief hospitalization.


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In pictures: Ethiopia's skateboarders 'go legit'

skateboarder pictured mid-flip

But despite the lack of proper facilities, Ethiopia Skate, the collective formed by the city's skateboarding enthusiasts, now has about 150 members.

group shot of boys walking away holding skateboards

Michael Baheru

Green skateboard with

young boy runs with skateboard in his hand

Young skateboarder peeps over a fence to see if he can gain access to a good spot

three boys skateboard away with a security guard in pursuit

Ethiopian boy pours concrete to make a ramp while four others look on

But now, thanks to a global crowdfunding campaign, more than $35,000 (£24,600) has been raised to help build Ethiopia's first purpose-built skatepark.

young children look on from outside the skatepark fence at the construction going on

Non-governmental organisation Make Life Skate, which has built similar parks in India, Bolivia, Jordan, and Myanmar, is contributing expertise as well as funding the project.







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Eight family members killed in Ohio gun rampage

At least eight people have been killed in "execution-style killings" in four places near each other in rural Ohio.

It is believed the victims - seven adults and one teenager - are from the same family, the state's attorney general said in a statement.

They were all shot to death in the head and any suspects are still at large, police said.

More than a dozen officials from multiple agencies were sent to crime scenes in Piketon, south of Columbus.

A pastor at the scene said the violence may have been the result of a "domestic situation".

All of the victims are members of a family called Rhoden, said Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader.

Three young children survived the shootings. The boy who was killed was 16 years old.

"There is a strong possibility that any individual involved in this is armed and incredibly dangerous," Mr Reader said.

Police have not determined a motive or identified the dead, and have not determined whether the killer is among the deceased.

Scene in Pike County, Ohio

Piketon, Ohio

All of the victims were found in homes along Union Hill Road in Pike County. The Pike County Sheriff said there are four active crime scenes spanning about 30 miles (48km).

Sheriff Charles Reader said he would "suspect the family was being targeted".

Ohio Attorney General Mike Mike DeWine said it is possible some of the victims were shot overnight because they were found in their beds.

"One mom was apparently killed in her bed with [the four-day-old child] right there," said Mr DeWine. "It's hard to believe."

Authorities do not believe any of the deaths were suicides and are urging residents of the county to come forward with any information they might have.

Local schools Peebles Elementary and Peebles High School were earlier on "lockout" - no-one went in or out - due to the ongoing situation in Piketon, a spokesperson for Adams County Ohio Valley Schools said.

The FBI in Cincinnati tweeted that they are "closely monitoring the situation".

Ohio Governor John Kasich and Republican presidential candidate tweeted that the situation is "tragic beyond comprehension".


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Fiat Chrysler to recall 1.1m vehicles worldwide

Fiat Chrysler is to recall 1.1 million vehicles worldwide over fears they may roll away after drivers get out.

There have been as many as 41 injuries because drivers mistakenly believed they had put the automatic cars in "park".

The recall covers cars and SUVs whose gearshifts could be confusing to drivers.

More than 850,000 vehicles in North America are affected, along with just over 250,000 elsewhere.

The affected models include 2012 to 2014 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans and 2014/15 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs.

Fiat Chrysler said it would update the vehicles to automatically prevent them from moving, even if the driver fails to put the vehicle in park. The company did not say when the fix would become available to owners.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in February it had reports of 314 complaints, including 121 crashes after vehicles rolled away. Some hit buildings, drivers or other cars and many incidents occurred soon after the vehicles were bought.

Chrysler 300

The Chrysler 300

Injury reports included three complaints of a fractured pelvis, and four others requiring some form of hospitalisation.

An NHTSA spokesman said the agency would monitor the recall to ensure it took place as quickly as possible.

Fiat Chrysler said it began equipping the Charger and 300 with a new gearshift design for the 2015 model, while the Grand Cherokee was updated for the following year.

Source :BBC

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Springsteen, ‘SNL’ pay tribute to Prince

Bruce Springsteen opened his show in Brooklyn on Saturday night with an emotional tribute to Prince, performing “Purple Rain.”

Springsteen and the E Street Band took the stage at the Barclays Center bathed in Prince’s preferred purple lighting, leading the crowd in a singalong of the late pop icon’s most famous song.

“Prince forever,” Springsteen told the New York crowd at the end of the song. “God bless!”

Springsteen’s Prince tribute wasn’t the only one seen in New York on Saturday night.

NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” which was supposed to be airing reruns, instead produced a career-spanning retrospective  of Prince’s “SNL” performances in a special hosted by former cast member Jimmy Fallon.

“Other people may have been on the show more times or performed more frequently,” Fallon said. “But there was always something different about a Prince performance — it was special, it was an event, it was Prince.”

NBC also shared Prince’s most recent “SNL” appearance, which never made it to air: his surprise performance at the afterparty for the show’s 40th anniversary special in February 2015.

Fallon recalled that around 4:30 a.m. during the star-studded party at New York’s Plaza hotel, comedian Dave Chappelle told him that Prince was in attendance and said he should try to get him to perform.

“I just said, ‘Prince, if you’re in the room, I dare you to come up and sing something with us,’” Fallon said.

The crush of celebrities in attendance, including Paul McCartney, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, suddenly parted and — with “a cloud of purple smoke,” Fallon said — Prince took the stage for an impromptu version of “Let’s Go Crazy,” with Fallon, Chris Rock, Cuba Gooding Jr., Martin Short and Maya Rudolf serving as backup singers.

"Dearly Inebriated," Prince told the crowd before launching into a raucous version of the 1984 hit.

“He got up and it was unbelievable,” Fallon said. “He just destroyed.”

Source: Yahoo

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N. Korea claims successful test of submarine-fired missile

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Sunday that it successfully test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine and warned of its growing ability to cut down its enemies with a "dagger of destruction." South Korea couldn't immediately confirm the claim of success in what marks Pyongyang's latest effort to expand its military might in face of pressure by its neighbors and Washington.

Hours before the announcement, South Korean military officials said the North fired what appeared to be a ballistic missile from a submarine off its eastern coast. The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectile traveled about 30 kilometers (19 miles) Saturday evening. That's a much shorter than the typical distance of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, which can fly at least 300 kilometers (186 miles).

A successful test from a submarine would be a worrying development because mastering the ability to fire missiles from submerged vessels would make it harder for outsiders to detect what North Korea is doing before it launches, giving it the potential to surprise its enemies.

While South Korean experts say it's unlikely that North Korea currently possesses an operational submarine that can fire multiple missiles, they acknowledge that the North is making progress on such technology.

In a typical example of overblown rhetoric, the North's Korean Central News Agency said leader Kim Jong Un observed from a test facility as the ballistic missile surged from a submarine and spewed out a "massive stream of flames" as it soared into the sky. It said the missile met all technical thresholds.

The KCNA report said that after the test Kim declared that the North now has another strong nuclear strike method and also the ability to stick a "dagger of destruction" into the heads of its enemies, South Korea and the United States, at any time.

The KCNA report didn't say when or where the recent test-firing took place. South Korean officials said the launch on Saturday took place near the North Korean coastal town of Sinpo, where analysts have previously detected efforts by the North to develop submarine-launched ballistic missile systems.

The North last test-launched a submarine-launched ballistic missile on Dec. 25, but that test was seen as failure, the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The North first claimed of a successful submarine-launched missile test in May last year.

U.S. Strategic Command, headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, said its "systems detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean submarine missile launch from the Sea of Japan." A statement from Strategic Command added that the missile launch "did not pose a threat to North America."

U.S. military forces "remain vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and are fully committed to working closely with our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies to maintain security," it said.

The U.S. State Department said that in response to Saturday's launch, it was limiting the travel of North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong and his delegation to U.N. functions in New York, where they are attending a U.N. meeting on sustainable development. The U.S. noted "launches using ballistic missile technology are a clear violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions."

"We call on North Korea to refrain from actions that further destabilize the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its commitments and international obligations," said State Department spokesman John Kirby.

The U.N. Security Council issued a press statement that "strongly condemned" the firing of the submarine-launched ballistic missile, saying it constitutes "yet another serious violation" of council resolutions.

The Security Council members reiterated that North Korea should "refrain from further actions in violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and comply fully with its obligations under these resolutions, including to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program."

North Korea has recently sent a barrage of missiles and artillery shells into the sea amid ongoing annual military drills between the United States and South Korea. Pyongyang says the drills are a preparation for an invasion of the North. The firings also come as the North expresses anger about toughened international sanctions over its recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

North Korea's belligerence may also be linked to a major ruling party congress next month meant to further cement leader Kim Jong Un's grip on power. Promoting military accomplishments could be an attempt to overshadow a lack of economic achievements ahead of the Workers' Party congress, the first since 1980.

Source: Yahoo

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Warriors prevail despite losing Curry to knee injury

HOUSTON -- Stephen Curry, who returned to action Sunday after missing the past two games because of a sprained right ankle, will undergo an MRI on Monday after spraining his knee midway through Golden State's 121-94 Game 4 win over Houston.

Curry slipped while guarding Houston's Trevor Ariza at the first-half buzzer and banged his right knee on the floor. The reigning league MVP grabbed the knee and limped off to the locker room.

Curry returned to the court after halftime and moved laterally in a test of the joint, but he stopped and shook his head toward the bench. Shortly thereafter, he headed back to the locker room and was ruled out just after the second half began, with Shaun Livingston taking his spot in the starting lineup.

"He was standing there crying, you know, and like, 'Dog, just get out of here. We'll hold you down.' We gotta support him, you know, and be there for him," Warriors forward Draymond Green told ESPN Radio's Kevin Calabro and Jon Barry postgame. "I mean, he came out and obviously gave it a go, wasn't 100 percent, and he gave it a go, and it's unfortunate that that happened.

"But at the end of the day, one thing we've always talked about is our depth, and we've gotta use that to win games, and so we used that tonight."

Added teammate Klay Thompson: "We knew as soon as Steph went down, we were going to have to do it ourselves. The ball was swinging around, Draymond got hot, I made a couple, and the floor opened up and we were just patient and having good shots. That's why we were successful."

Curry had six points on 2-of-9 shooting, including 1-of-7 from the 3-point line.

Curry appeared to slip on a wet spot, started when Houston's Donatas Motiejunas slid across the court for a few yards near the 3-point circle.

"His conditioning was better than I expected," Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. "And then he slips on the wet spot, unfortunately, and back to square one. We'll see what happens with the MRI tomorrow."

Asked about pundits' picking against the Warriors without Curry, Green told ESPN Radio, "If Steph Curry's out, I'd probably write us off too. That's human nature [because] the guy's the MVP of the league, but we've got a team full of competitors.

"We're not gonna bow down or lay down against anyone. We're gonna continue to play our game, continue to try to win basketball games, no matter who's out there."

Green said the same of the Rockets, citing last season's Western Conference semifinal series between Houston and the Los Angeles Clippers.

"If I'm not mistaken, the Clippers were up 3-1 [on the Rockets before Houston rallied to win three straight]. They ain't laying down," he said. "It's not going to be easy. We know they are a very talented ballclub when they get it going. They get hot from the 3, they can do anything on the floor. We have to come out and take the game, knowing that it's not going to be easy, knowing Steph probably won't be playing."

The Rockets had their own issues at point guard. Patrick Beverley strained his right leg, and the team announced before the start of the second half that he would not return.

Source; ESPN

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Carl Edwards bumps past Kyle Busch on final lap for Richmond win

RICHMOND, Va. -- Carl Edwards had been grinding for 30 laps, doing everything he could to catch Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in a two-way breakaway from the pack at Richmond International Raceway.

When he finally caught him on the last lap Sunday, and in the final turn, he had no time to think about what would be the prudent thing to do. Instead, Edwards focused on the reason they are racing: to win.

Edwards bumped his sometimes-volatile teammate off his racing line in the last turn and passed him to win his second consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, and the fourth in a row for the Gibbs racing stable.

NASCAR said it was the first last-lap pass for a victory in the history of the premier series at the track, a span of 120 races.

"I wish it was anybody but my teammate that we had to race like that with, but big picture to me is we've both got some wins, we're in the Chase, and it's fun to have to race your teammate for the win," Edwards said. "If the roles were reversed, I would have expected him to bump me the same way."

Then in a bid to throw a bone to Busch, whose car was sponsored by Banfield Pet Hospital, he said: "If my cat ever gets sick, I don't care how much it costs, I will take it to the Banfield Pet Hospital, if that helps."

Gibbs said there's no game plan for how to handle the next team meeting.

"What you do is you just start out and work your way through it, and that's what we'll do," he said.

Edwards, who had fallen nearly 1.5 seconds behind after a restart with 36 laps to go, gradually ran him down, catching him on the final lap. Then he slipped underneath Busch, a master blocker in late-race situations, and nudged him just enough to allow Edwards to get inside him for his second consecutive victory. It was also the fourth in a row for the Gibbs stable, and fifth in nine races.

"Kyle's an amazing teammate and it's like he got really slow there at the end," Edwards said. "Something happened that last lap, it's like his rear tires went off or something, and he went down into (Turn) one and I dove it in and I got to him, and I thought, `Man, I've got something here.' Then he went to get down to the bottom to park it in three and four and I'd already decided to go down there, so I thought, `Man, I'm going to give him a little nudge.'

"We've both got wins. We're racing for fun and getting these trophies. Just an awesome day."

After falling so far behind, Edwards was surprised to find himself in position to challenge for the victory.

"Man, I didn't think we had anything. Kyle was just so good for that run. I was just doing everything I could. He never spun his tires," he said. "If Dave (crew chief Rogers) hadn't screamed at me to just go get him, I don't know if I would have dove it in there that hard."

Busch seemed less than amused after being denied his third victory in the last four races.

"We just kind of gave it up a little bit there on the last lap, but I guess that's racing and we move on," he said. "... We had a really great car. ... We were fast, maybe not as good as Carl was on the long runs, but we did everything right, everything we were supposed to do."

Jimmie Johnson finished third, follow by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne and pole-sitter Kevin Harvick. Gibbs placed all four of its drivers in the top seven, with Denny Hamlin sixth and Matt Kenseth seventh.

The race was the first scheduled for during the day at Richmond since 1997, and the racing made a huge fan of Johnson.

"We had multiple lanes that laid the rubber in the race track and we didn't have all those marbles built up on the outside, where it really limited your opportunities up high," he said. "It was fun. The cars were slipping and sliding; there was a ton of fall-off. I enjoyed the long runs. I really like sizing-up guys that I'm racing with and seeing how that works out. And then, at the end we had a bunch of short runs."


Kahne was trying to hang on to a good finish at the end and missed the drama ahead of him.

"I didn't watch. I wish I would have. It sounded like a great battle," he said.

Edwards dominated the first half of the race, leading 120 of the first 200 laps, and he continued to lead until Kevin Harvick slipped underneath him with 170 laps to go. Edwards faded for a time, but wound up leading seven times for a race-high 151 laps. The race featured 23 lead changes, the most here since 2007.

Seven other drivers also led, with Busch, Harvick, Kurt Busch and Johnson also leading for at least 44 laps.

Game notes
Johnson has three career victories at Richmond, but none since September 2008. ... Gibbs cars have won five of the first nine races. ... The race went green for the first 157 laps, the longest green-flag run to start a race at Richmond since 1979, and only the fourth time in the last 47 races in the premier series on the 0.75-mile oval that the first 100 laps were run caution-free.

Souce: ESPN

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Yasiel Puig surprises attendees of a prom at Denver hotel

DENVER -- Yasiel Puig crashed a party Saturday night, but nobody seemed to mind.

Returning to his downtown Denver hotel after the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies, he surprised attendees at the Chatfield Senior High School prom. He took photos with party goers and posted some to his Twitter account, @YasielPuig.

So did he actually dance?

Somebody asked Puig before he went out for conditioning drills Sunday morning, and he said, "Yes," with a crooked smile.

Puig has had an amusing presence on Twitter this season, one that seems to coincide with his free-and-easy approach to the year so far. His posts have been both humorous and self-deprecating, mentioning multiple times his issue with hitting the cutoff man.

After his eye-opening throw from right field Friday to nail the Rockies' Trevor Story at third base, Puig hit the sarcasm button the following day.

Souce: ESPN

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Physical series against undermanned Grizzlies should sharpen Spurs

MEMPHIS -- The lights flickered, and officials at the FedEx Forum announced play would be suspended as workers scrambled to remedy the drop in voltage that affected all of Shelby County and knocked out the lights in the arena for 20 minutes.

LaMarcus Aldridge stared at the scoreboard. “I was like, ‘I just hope we can get this game started soon.’ I didn’t want to have to wait until tomorrow.”

Aldridge and the San Antonio Spurs won’t have to wait after completing a four-game sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies with a 116-95 triumph on Sunday. While Aldridge wanted to avoid waiting "until tomorrow" to complete the game, he and the Spurs know the physicality of this series against Memphis actually strengthened the club’s prospects for tomorrow.

“The good thing for us, I think, about the series is the Grizzlies were fantastic; their drive, their passion, their physicality for 48 minutes every game," coach Gregg Popovich said. "We found a quarter here or there in each game where we spread ourselves, but that was it. Other than that, they played us even. Dave [Joerger] and his staff and those players deserve a lot of credit. It’s not just false praise. They really do because it wasn’t a fair fight, and they didn’t care. From our part, that physicality will help us I think in the next round.”

It’s no secret: The Spurs whipped up on a wounded Memphis squad that used an NBA-record 28 players during the regular season. But San Antonio believes Memphis’ brand of physical defense will serve it well once it reaches the second round, where the Spurs will likely take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Oklahoma City holds a 3-1 lead over the Dallas Mavericks in their best-of-seven series, and there’s a 99 percent chance the Spurs will meet the Thunder in the next round, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. BPI gives San Antonio a 73 percent chance to win a series against Oklahoma City.

“I haven’t watched too much of that series, but I can imagine it was rough,” reserve guard Patty Mills said. “I think it comes back to Memphis being the top of the pack in terms of that kind of stuff. Not being out to hurt anybody, but that’s how they play defense.”

Does a physical series like this help to prepare San Antonio for Round 2?

“For sure, especially on offense,” Mills said. “Our defense, no matter who we play, can be solid. In terms of offense, it was good to go through these guys to sharpen things, for sure.”

The Spurs wrapped up Round 1 with the third-best scoring differential in any four-game series (+88) and the third-best differential in an opening-round series, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

But they entered the postseason out of sync offensively, after an odd combination of rest for the regulars, new additions (Kevin Martin and Andre Miller) and injuries to Aldridge and Boris Diaw late in the season affected some of the on-court chemistry while preventing the club from operating at its peak at the start of the first round.

Despite Memphis’ injury situation, the Grizzlies provided San Antonio with the perfect whetstone to sharpen its offensive weaponry. That became clear in Game 3, when Kawhi Leonard pushed the Spurs past the Grizzlies by scoring 13 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter, in addition to blocking five shots while not committing a turnover.

Then, in Game 4, the Spurs blasted off with a 15-2 run in the third quarter to outscore the Grizzlies 37-21 while hitting 14 of 22 shots. Leonard poured in a game-high 21 points to go with seven rebounds, four assists, a steal and two blocks. Leonard averaged 21.5 points in this series, which registers as his best average in any playoff series of his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

“I guess you could say that,” Leonard said when asked whether the Spurs are starting to find the rhythm that has eluded them since the end of the regular season. Guard Manu Ginobili believes the Spurs have “sort of” found it.

“We were not as sharp as we wanted to be, but for moments we were,” Ginobili said. “They are a tough matchup because they are very aggressive. They grab, they hold. That’s the type of game they try to play. Sometimes that makes it hard.”

The easy part now is resting and waiting for their second-round opponent, as the Spurs hope to tweak a few things offensively while healing up a few nicks here and there.


At minimum, the Spurs will have five days off before their next game, with a chance to get up to seven days off. Leonard was the only Spur to average 30 minutes per game in this series. San Antonio’s starters averaged fewer than 25 minutes per game. That’s the fewest minutes per game the starters have ever averaged in a first-round series under Popovich, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. That makes the Spurs the most well-rested team Popovich has taken into the second round.

The Big Three -- Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili -- all played fewer than 27 minutes in all four games this series.

“This was a tough one,” Ginobili said of the series. “Kawhi played 42 minutes on Friday, but we got to rest him a little bit today. I think we’re due a couple days off, then we’ll have a couple good practices to get a rhythm back. I think it’s very important … we need it.”

They’ve found it, finally. Now they’ve got to keep it.

Souce NBA.com

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Beyoncé Fans Really Can't Tell the Difference Between Rachel Roy and Rachael Ray

Clearly, there aren't enough Rachels in Hollywood these days.

Talk-show host and famous chef Rachael Ray is feeling the wrath from Beyoncé fans all around the world this weekend. But as it turns out, all the anger and attacks is being misdirected at the wrong person. The likely target is none other than designer Rachel Roy

It all started Saturday night when Beyoncé released her sixth studio album on Tidal. In one of the songs titled "Sorry," Jay Z's leading lady sings about a cheating lover with the words, "He only want me when I'm not there / He better call Becky with the good hair."

While nobody was (and is) 100 percent sure who this Becky person is, some started to speculate that it's Roy the fashion designer. After all, her Instagram post that has since been deleted didn't do her any favors.

"Good hair don't care, but we will take good lighting, for selfies, or self truths, always," she wrote on Instagram. "Live in the light #NoDramaQueens."

Perhaps it's an act of rage. Maybe people are just hangry. Regardless, followers began swarming Ray's social media platforms with lemonade emoji's and plenty of not-so-nice comments.

"30 minute meal hoe," one wrote on Sunday afternoon. Another added, "Go caramelize SOME onions." Wait, is that really an insult because we're pretty sure Ray would enjoy it?

If you're not surprised by the news, perhaps this will put you over the edge.

BuzzFeed pointed out that Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson—who is one of just 10 people Beyoncé follows on Twitter—was confused by the Rachels.

As a result, he tweeted, "I thought Rachel Roy was Rachel Ray. I've never heard of Rachel Roy. I thought it was a typo."

Stay strong Rachael Ray, this too shall pass.

Source: E News

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Obama expected to announce an additional 250 special operations forces to Syria

(CNN)President Barack Obama is expected to announce Monday an additional 250 special operations forces will be sent to Syria in the coming weeks, according to two U.S. officials. The expected announcement will come while the President visits Germany.

The troops will be expanding the ongoing U.S. effort to bring more Syrian Arab fighters into units the U.S. supports in northern Syria that have largely been manned by the Kurds, one of the officials said.
One of the officials emphasized the plan calls for the additional U.S. forces to "advise and assist" forces in the area whom the U.S. hopes may eventually grow strong enough to take back territory around Raqqa, Syria, where ISIS is based.
These troops are not expected to engage in combat operations or to participate in target-to-kill teams but will be armed to defend themselves, one official said.
The new troops will be in addition to 50 U.S. special operations forces that have already been there doing that same work for the last several months.
"As we have noted in recent days, the President has authorized a series of steps to increase support for our partners in the region, including Iraqi security forces as well as local Syrian forces who are taking the fight to ISIL," a senior administration official CNN, using a different acronym for ISIS. "The President during his remarks at the Hannover Messe fairgrounds on Monday will speak to this additional step." The official said the president was persuaded to take this additional step because of recent successes against ISIS.
CNN first reported details of the expected plan several weeks ago.
Source: CNN
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3 federal agents shot, motel set ablaze in Kansas

(CNN)What started as a would-be arrest at a Kansas motel ended with three federal agents shot and the motel engulfed in flames.

Officers from the U.S. Marshals Service's Fugitive Task Force went to the motel in Topeka on Saturday night to look for Orlando J. Collins, the FBI's Kansas City office said. Collins, 28, was wanted on two robbery-related charges.
But as officers reached the motel room door, "they came under gun fire from inside the hotel room," the FBI said in a statement.
Two deputy U.S. marshals and an FBI agent were shot but are expected to survive, the FBI said.
Previously, Topeka police said a fourth federal agent had been injured in the melee. That officer apparently suffered a leg injury but was not shot, the FBI said.
Souce: CNN
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Mars and Earth are getting closer (for now)

We haven't seen Mars like this in more than a decade.

The red planet will soon be closer to Earth that it has been in 11 years: On May 30, Mars will be about 46.8 million miles (75.3 million kilometers) from Earth. Yes, that's still a long way off, but sometimes Mars is 249 million miles (400 million kilometers) from Earth.
What does this close approach mean for sky watchers? It means Mars will appear bigger and brighter from May 18 until June 3, according to NASA.
But you don't have to wait. Mars already is putting on a spectacular show in the early morning sky. And you don't need a telescope or binoculars to see it.
In fact, you'll probably be able to find it without a star chart or an astronomy app.
In the United States, the best time to look for Mars during its close approach will be around midnight Eastern time, according to NASA. It will be the brightest "star" that you'll see in the southeastern sky and it will appear a bit reddish.
To find out when Mars is visible in your neighborhood, you can go to timeanddate.com/astronomy and pop in your location. It will give a list of times that the sun, moon and planets rise and set.
Also, both CNN partners Astronomy and Sky & Telescope.com offer online tools to help you track what's going on in the night sky.
After you have seen Mars shining bright in the morning sky, you may want to get an even better view. You can hook up with your local astronomy club to see Mars through a telescope.
If you miss this year's close approach, Earth and Mars will be even closer on July, 31 2018. They'll come about 35.8 million miles from each other.
Back in August 2003 they were closer still: The two planets were only 34,646,418 miles (55,758,006 kilometers) from center to center. That was the nearest Earth and Mars have been in almost 60,000 years, according to NASA.
Scientists calculate they won't get that close again until August 28, 2287.
Source: CNN.com
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Walk the Talk: Global Education for All.

Now more than ever, K-12 students need quality cross-cultural and language learning opportunities for success in the 21st Century workplace.

The joke about Americans abroad — that they speak louder in English when they don’t speak the language — isn’t so funny anymore. There is a real and growing deficit in foreign language skills and cross-cultural competence in the American work force. So critical is the problem that in a rare act of bipartisan, bicameral unity, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has established the Commission on Language Learning with support from the Andrew W. Mellon and Luce Foundations.

Both of our organizations, Qatar Foundation International and VIF International Education, applaud Congress’ and the Academy’s strong support for advancing American students’ competitiveness and the skill sets at the core of being good global citizens. Our organizations implement complementary programs to advance the cause of global education through our respective global schools networks and related program activities that connect young people in the Americas with those elsewhere including the Middle East. Global Leadership Week offers a platform for discussing and advancing these critical issues with educators across the country.

Since 2009, Qatar Foundation International (QFI) has connected students and educators, through language and exchange, to peers from differing socio-economic and cultural backgrounds with programs focused on Arabic language, Arab culture, STEM plus Arts (STEAM) and Youth Engagement. Like VIF, we have seen first hand, the transformative power of language learning and cross-cultural exchange, whether in-person or virtual — inside and outside of classrooms. Is it a coincidence that QFI’s DC partner Washington Latin Public Charter School, the three students to receive the prestigious Trachtenberg Award, full 4-year scholarships to George Washington University, all studied Arabic?
Arabic fluency has helped US students pursue careers in business, journalism, diplomacy, national security, and much more. QFI’s #ISpeakArabic campaign, which launched in November 2015, delivers an open resource platform ispeakarabic.com, that provides open education resources and an advocacy kit for the learning and teaching of Arabic, and includes a series of documentary-style videos that highlight inspirational individuals around the world who are proof positive of career success through Arabic fluency. QFI sees language as a fabric to connect cultures, and has partnered with a number of K-12 public and public charter schools across the country, to provide opportunities for Arabic language education and cultural immersion so that American students can gain a global eduction from a young age.
Using the P21 Framework for State Action on Global Education, an ACTFL and ISTE standards aligned framework, we wanted to share moments that prove the effectiveness and power of providing these opportunities and fostering connections in defining global leadership.
Source: CNN.COM
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Fort McMurray: Fire could double in size, Canadian official says

(CNN)The Fort McMurray wildfire in Canada is massive. And it could get a lot worse.

Dry, windy conditions are fueling the blaze, which has already raged over 1,010 square kilometers (389 square miles). By Saturday, it might be twice as big.
"It's extremely dry out there. Wind continues to push from the southwest, to push the fire to the northeast into the forested areas," Alberta Wildfire official Chad Morrison said Friday afternoon. "There is a high potential that this fire could double in size by the end of the day tomorrow."
The monster fire -- which is the size of Hong Kong and is almost 25% bigger than New York City -- has displaced about 88,000 people and wiped out 1,600 structures.
The city of Fort McMurray has been devastated, damage witnessed by thousands of people who drove through Friday in evacuee convoys headed to Edmonton and other cities. More than 1,200 vehicles headed south down Highway 63, the lone road open for people relocating to emergency shelters and the homes of friends or family.
The convoys will continue as long as it's safe to run them, which for about an hour on Friday it wasn't.
One of the fleeing residents told CNN near Fort McMurray that the past few days have been like "hell on Earth. Just like hell."
Other residents had already made it to safety at the Edmonton Expo Centre.
Morgan Elliott and fiancée Cara Kennedy fled first to the Syncrude oil sands camp north of Fort McMurray with their baby, Abigail, but not much else. Then Friday it was time to try for Edmonton.
What they saw along the way was jaw-dropping.
"It was something like Armageddon," Elliott says. "Everything was burnt, houses gone. Leaving the city, it was like a scene out of a movie. It reminded me of the TV show 'The Walking Dead' where you're going on the highway, and there's just abandoned vehicles everywhere; hundreds of cars, just abandoned vehicles."
Edmonton resident Bill Glynn, who was working in Fort McMurray when the fire broke out, was in a convoy and told the Edmonton Journal newspaper that the scene was "like a war zone."
"There were times you came over the hill and you couldn't see anything and just hoped the person ahead knew what they were doing," the newspaper quoted Glynn as saying.
"We had only gone two or three klicks," he said, using a term for a kilometer, "and there was the fire right at the side of the road. It was coming towards us."
Canadian military helicopters hovered overhead to look out for smoke and flames along the evacuation route, while emergency gas stations were set up to keep the convoy moving.
CNN partner CTV posted photos it said were taken as the convoy drove through the northeastern Alberta city. Flames and towering columns of smoke filled the sky.
Other people likely wil be airlifted out of the fire zone, as 7,000 were Thursday, according to authorities.
Some 15,000 people remain stranded north of the devastated city, but not all will leave, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said.

Some remain behind

Some hardy souls working for the oil industry will remain behind to tend to facilities there, authorities said. The region is known for its massive oil reserves -- the third-largest in the world.
But officers are going into accessible areas and looking for signs of others, Sgt. Jack Poitras, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told reporters Thursday.
"We still have some people who have been hanging around," he said.
Overnight, the fire's footprint grew, racing up to the doorstep of the community of Anzac before firefighters beat it back.
Winds were expected to shift and push the fire away from developed areas.
Morrison warned of "extreme fire behavior" in the following days as the blaze pushes into heavily forested areas.
The fire will likely burn for "weeks and weeks," he said.
"There's no tankers we can put at this thing to stop it," he said, noting the fire was so large and aggressive it's jumped a 1-kilometer wide river and created its own lightning.
The cause remains unclear, Morrison said.
But the region is in the midst of a drought, he said. Two months without appreciable rain has left vegetation dangerously dry.
Forecasters think Saturday will be dry and windy again, but there is a 40% chance of showers on Sunday and Monday.
Source: CNN.com
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Kenya to close refugee camps, displacing more than 600,000

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) Kenya will close all refugee camps, a move that would displace more than 600,000 people living there, the government announced Friday.

The decision includes Dadaab, the largest such camp in the world. It's home to more than 300,000 people on the Kenya-Somalia border.
The government is shutting down the camps because of "very heavy" economic, security and environmental burdens, senior Interior Ministry official Karanja Kibicho said in a statement.
"Kenya, having taken into consideration its national security interests, has decided that hosting of refugees has come to an end," Kibicho said, pointing to threats, such as the terror group Al-Shabaab.
Kenya announced the closure of refugee camps last year for the same reasons but backed down in the face of international pressure. Most of the camp residents come from Somalia, which has been torn by civil war.
At the time, government officials were not clear where they expected the refugees to go, other than somewhere into Somalia and out of Kenya. Kibicho's statement didn't address the question of where the refugees would go.
While it is not immediately clear if or when a closure might happen, the Interior Ministry said it has already disbanded the Department of Refugee Affairs as a first step.
A 20-year-old Somali said living in Dadaab is hard, but leaving will also be difficult
"Dadaab is like being in a cage and now when they ask us to go home ... first of all, which home is that?" he said.
"My parents have been in Kenya for 25 years, I was born in this camp and now I want to join university, which I can't because they have given me an alien card but then they actually closed down the department of refugees.
"My card might not be valid in Nairobi anymore. My movement will be restricted. I don't know what to do but I will see how to go about it."
He said his parents lost all their land and property during the war. Sending people back with $100 or $1,000 as an incentive to start life over again won't work.
"I agree no one has to live in a refugee camp all their life," he said. "It's not correct morally, but then if you've left your home 25 years ago, going back is like going back to a new place."
The government called on the international community to "collectively take responsibility" for the humanitarian needs of the hundreds of thousands who may be affected by this.
Amnesty International blasted what it called a "reckless decision" by Kenya.
Kenya's decision is "an abdication of its duty to protect the vulnerable and will put thousands of lives at risk," said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty's regional director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
He said Kenya would be violating its obligations under international law.
Source: CNN.com
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Pakistan girl's brutal death: 'It is not honor killing, it's just plain murder

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN)Her name was Ambreen.

She was just 15.
Her alleged crime: Helping a neighbor and her boyfriend elope.
For that, she was dragged from her home, injected with sedatives, strangled, tied up in a van and then burned, Pakistani officials said.
More than a dozen people have been arrested in the brutal and barbaric killing, including the mother of the victim, according to police in Abbottabad, in Pakistan's northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
They said the death was a so-called honor killing ordered by a tribal council. CNN does not use that description for these types of slayings.
"The order came after Ambreen's neighbor, Saima, had eloped with her boyfriend on the 22nd of April," police Officer Khurram Rasheed said.
The girl's killing was ordered by a 15-member tribal council, or jirga, which gathered to investigate the elopement, the officer said.
Some of those council members then carried out the killing, he said.
Police said some also happened to be family members of the girl who had eloped.
Ambreen was kidnapped, strangled with ropes and tied to the back seat of a van and then the van was set on fire, police said. The girl's charred skeleton was found April 29.
Ambreen's mother was arrested along with 13 members of the jirga because she allegedly knew about the orders to kill her daughter but did not alert the authorities, Rasheed added.
But Ambreen's father, Sardar Riasat, disputed that account and said his family was not complicit in the killing.
"My daughter was innocent; she'd quit school after eighth grade, she was only 15 years old," the laborer said Friday, crying when CNN contacted him.
"My wife is innocent, too. What is this barbarism? How could they do this to my innocent child? I don't know what to say."
Police said the couple that eloped have been tracked and are in a safe place. Those arrested will be tried in an anti-terrorism court, officials said.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has strongly condemned the killing.
"Such a barbaric act is not only un-Islamic but also inhuman," Nawaz Sharif said in a statement.
"The culprits must be brought to justice without any delay. Acceptance of such acts in society is unacceptable. (The) criminals should be prosecuted swiftly. It is not honor killing, it's just plain murder."

Loud blast heard

CNN teams on the ground near Abbottabad pieced together a report after speaking to witnesses and officials.
Around 3 a.m. local time on April 29, residents heard a loud blast, they told CNN.
People found three vans on fire when they gathered at the scene.
In the back seat of one van was a corpse burned beyond recognition.
They were able to determine the body was a woman's only by the bangles on the charred skeleton's hand.
It remained a cold case until a breakthrough Thursday night when police found out the tribal council had ordered the killing.

Renewed attention to tribal practice

The horrific crime has shone further light on the prevalence of these killings in Pakistan.
Around 1,100 women were killed by relatives in Pakistan last year, according to the country's independent Human Rights Commission.
The crimes originate from tribal practices and are often meted out as punishment for behavior viewed as bringing dishonor to a family or village.
There has been a complete failure of the state and the society to deal with such crimes, most of which are premeditated, according to Farzana Bari, director of the gender studies center at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad.
"The criminal justice system is completely not working very effectively," Bari said. "At the local level people go to the tribal council for their issues. ... This is not the first time such a heinous crime is committed against a woman on the order of the tribal council."
Women are more often the target of such killings, but men can also be victims. In 2014 a young newlywed couple were killed by members of the bride's family after they married against the family's wishes.
In February, director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy's film on the subject, "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness," won an Oscar for best documentary short and helped bring renewed attention to the practice.
It followed the story of 18-year-old Sabha, who miraculously survived after she was shot, tied in a gurney bag and thrown in a river by her uncle and father for an unsanctioned marriage they thought brought shame on the family.
"To me honor killing is premeditated, cold-blooded murder, but the justification given by men when they kill a woman is that she did something without permission, or that is out of bounds of what society deems is OK for a woman," Obaid-Chinoy said.
Source: CNN.com
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Why Transferring Credit Card Balances Is Brilliant

Credit card issuers are in such fierce competition these days to attract new customers that most have started offering sweetheart deals to win you over, like ultra-long 0% introductory APR interest periods. By transferring your balance onto one of these cards, you immediately stop all interest charges during the introductory period.

For example, the Chase Slate offers 15 months at 0% APR, so during that entire 15 month intro period, you pay nothing in interest on any balance transfered. That could literally result in thousands of dollars in savings, and is simply a no brainer. With these offers out there, it just makes absolutely no sense to continue to pay credit card interest on your current balances.

Well, without further ado, here are the cards offering great balance transfer specials...

The No Transfer-Fee Card

Chase Slate®

15 Months of 0% Intro APR. No balance transfer fee. No annual fee.

The Chase Slate® is tied as our highest-rated balance transfer card, and for good reason. It charges no fee for transferring your balance to it in the first two months, no annual fee, and no interest on balances transferred for a full 15-month 0% intro APR period. This makes it a phenomenal tool to gain control of your credit card debt, as you can make a costless balance transfer, then use the 15-month interest grace period to pay down your balance.

The Verdict: If you don't need the entire 18 months offered by the BankAmericard, this can be efficient since it doesn't have a balance transfer fee. No transfer fee and no annual fee, combined with the 0% intro APR means that this is really free money for the 15 month term, no catches.

Most Appropriate For: Those who want a no-fee way to stop paying interest, and possibly pay off the cards during that breather. Those with good rather than excellent credit.

Least Appropriate For: Those who pay off their balances every month would be better served getting a card paying high rewards.

Recommended credit:  Just Good. The Chase card has the most lenient credit requirements of our top balance transfer cards.

More Details >

The No Interest Until 2017 Balance-Transfer Card

The BankAmericard® Credit Card is tied as our highest rated balance transfer card, featuring an unbelievable 18 billing cycles (months) 0% APR intro period. This means that if you were to roll your balance over onto the card today, you wouldn't have to pay interest until well into 2018. The card does charge a 3% balance transfer fee*, but if you’re looking to avoid paying any interest on your credit card balances for as long as possible, the BankAmericard could be your card.

The Verdict: Getting a loan this cheaply for this long is pretty amazing. If you're carrying a balance, and realistically you know you will have to carry that balance for a while, this card becomes a no-brainer. As an example, assume you have a $10,000 balance on your current cards at a 18% rate. Over the 18 billing cycle (month) term, you would have paid $3,098 in interest.* Switching to this card would cost $300 in fees, but then nothing the rest of the way, for a net savings of $2,798. Not bad, you could do a lot with that extra cash.

Most Appropriate For: Those who have large balances and want as much interest-free time as possible to pay the principle down.

Least Appropriate For: Those who pay off their balances every month or every few months.

Credit Required: Good to Excellent

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The Cards Which Not Only Don't Charge, But Actually PAY you.

Pros: Chase's new Freedom Unlimited card is essentially an improved version of the old Freedom. They bumped the base cash back rate all the way up to an industry leading 1.5%, and pay that full 1.5% on all spend, with no limit or spend category restrictions. Unlike most other high paying cash back cards, you don't have to worry about categories or have to activate anything. You'll receive the full 1.5% back as you make your spend, on all spend, automatically. In addition, Chase  is temporarily offering a cash bonus to new card-members. If you charge $500 on it in the first 3 months, you'll earn a $150 cash bonus. Finally, Chase is also offering new card-members 15 months of 0% interest for the first 15 months of using the card to make new purchases. So during that period, you can use the card without paying any interest on balances you tally, while still earning cash back. The card requires good, not excellent credit, making it easier to get in.

Cons: Charges a 5% balance transfer fee. This is on the high side, so we recommend looking at the Slate or BankAmericard if your goal is to transfer a balance. The Freedom Unlimited should be viewed as a cash back card.

The Verdict: One of the strongest cards available to those with good (but not perfect) credit. The card combines industry leading cash back rates (1.5% on everything) with a strong 15 months of 0% interest on new purchases combined with a $150 cash bonus when you use the card to make $500 in spend in the first 3 months.

Most Appropriate For: Those with good credit seeking a daily-use card offering great cash back rewards and 0% intro APR. Best for new charges.

Least Appropriate For: Balance transfers, as it charges the 5% fee while offering no more free term than the Slate (which has no transfer fee).

Credit Required: Good to Excellent

More Details >

Pros: Capital One's Quicksilver card makes things simple: you earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases, with no limit and no category restrictions or games. We included the card in our balance transfer list because it offers 0% intro APRuntil February 2017 on all balances transferred.

Cons: Does charge a 3% balance transfer fee. Requires good credit to get in.

The Verdict: If you're looking to transfer a balance and make some purchases, you can use this card to avoid paying interest during the intro period AND earn cash rewards.

Most Appropriate For: Anyone who might make some large purchases in the near future, or regularly charges a lot on their cards. Making the charges on the Quicksilver  would earn cash back but not require any interest during the intro period.

Credit Required: Good to Excellent

Source: CNN.com

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Apple stock slumps to near 2-year low

Things keep getting worse for America's favorite stock.

Apple (AAPL, Tech30) stock on Friday slipped below $92, the level it briefly crashed to when financial markets went haywire last August.


But in August, investors were freaking out about all stocks. These days, it's Apple they're freaking out over. The stock is down 12% this year and closed out the week at its lowest level since June 2014.

It's the latest blow to Apple, which is easily the most popular stock held by individual investors.

Apple's problems really gathered steam last week after the iconic company revealed its first sales decline since 2003. Apple's rare sales shrinkage was fueled by a drop in iPhone sales, a reflection of how the iPhone 6S has failed to generate the kind of enthusiasm previous versions of the phone have.

Apple stock 2 year low


Related: Why I'm not selling my Apple stock

Just days later Carl Icahn, arguably Apple's biggest cheerleader in recent years, told the world he had dumped his entire stake in Apple. The billionaire investor pointed to the risks involved with Apple's efforts to navigate the treacherous Chinese market, the company's second-biggest source of sales behind the U.S.

Even though Icahn insists Apple is still a "great company," he told CNBC he's worried how the Chinese government can "make it very difficult for Apple to sell there."

That risk was on full display last month when Apple's iBooks and iTunes Movies services went dark in China, reportedly at the order of a Chinese censorship regulator.

Against that backdrop, Apple CEO Tim Cook plans to visit Beijing later this month to meet high-level government officials, Reuters reported. It wouldn't be the first time Cook has visited China.

China concerns have helped make Apple the second-worst Dow stock this year behind only Intel (INTC, Tech30). But while Icahn and others are down on Apple, many Main Street investors remain undeterred. Most retail investors CNNMoney recently surveyed informally say they have not sold any Apple shares in the past year, nor do they plan to.

Apple fans -- on and off Wall Street -- point to the fact that the stock is pretty cheap, especially compared with lofty valuations in the rest of the market. Apple shares are currently trading at just 11 times projected 2016 earnings. By comparison, the S&P 500 is trading at more than 17 times this year's estimated profits.

Apple is also sitting on a ton of cash -- just over $230 billion. Some investors hope it will deploy those resources on a major acquisition and continue to return lots of it to shareholders through dividends and buybacks.

But the real key to restoring Apple's growth trajectory is likely in its ability to come up with a game-changing new product, or at least a new iPhone that excites consumers and investors alike.

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Creator of online money Liberty Reserve gets 20 years in prison

Before the virtual currency Bitcoin there was Liberty Reserve -- and its founder just got sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Arthur Budovsky, 42, ran an online digital money business out of Costa Rica called Liberty Reserve. The U.S. government contended that the whole thing was just a massive, $6 billion money laundering operation.


On Friday, U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote sentenced him to two decades in federal prison. She said Budovsky did not show "genuine remorse," according to the Department of Justice.

For seven years starting in 2006, anyone could use Liberty Reserve's website to transfer money with little oversight. All the site required was someone's name, e-mail address, and birthday. Normally, banks have stricter standards to avoid funneling criminal funds.

But that's exactly what Liberty Reserve turned into, according to federal agents. It became a favorite for stashing cash by credit card traffickers and identity thieves.

At its height, according to a federal indictment, Liberty Reserve had more than 1 million customers worldwide, including 200,000 in the United States. It handled 12 million financial transactions a year.

Liberty Reserve fell into the U.S. government's sights, because it ran such a huge operation without oversight. In the post-9/11 world, law enforcement was keen to keep track of every dollar to avoid it ending up funding terrorists.

That's why the U.S. government used the Patriot Act to go after this payment processor. The U.S. Treasury Department labeled it a money laundering organization, and cut it off from the American financial system.

In 2013, American investigators took over the website and shut it down. In 2014, Budovsky and several coworkers were arrested in Spain. Then Budovsky was extradited to the United States to face trial for money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

In January, Budovsky pleaded guilty to money laundering and admitted to secretly moving at least $122 million.

In a prepared statement, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said: "The significant sentence handed down today shows that money laundering through the use of virtual currencies is still money laundering, and that online crime is still crime."

Budovsky's attorney did not immediately respond to CNNMoney's request for comment.

Budovsky and an associate, Vladimir Kats of Brooklyn, had previously been arrested for a similar digital currency exchange called GoldAge. After their arrests, they both moved to Costa Rica to avoid American law enforcement, according to the U.S. government. Budovsky even renounced his citizenship.

"Despite all his efforts to evade prosecution, including taking his operations offshore and renouncing his citizenship, Budovsky has now been held to account for his brazen violations of U.S. criminal laws," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

Source: CNN.com

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The Home Refinancing Plan Banks Don't Want You Knowing

When homeowners visit HARP Refi Quote™ official website, they may be surprised to find out they qualify for a plan that has the banks on edge.

Still unknown to many, this brilliant government program called the Home Affordable Refinance Plan (HARP) could benefit millions of Americans and reduce their monthly payments by as much as $4,264 each year.1 You could bet the banks aren't too thrilled about losing all that profit and might secretly hope homeowners don't find out before time runs out.

So while the banks happily wait for this program to end, the government is making a final push and urging homeowners to take advantage.  The program is set to expire in 2016, but the good news though is that once you’re in, you’re in. If lowering your payments, paying off your mortgage faster, and even taking some cash out would help you, it's vital that you act now.

Close to a million homeowners could still benefit today, but sadly, many perceive HARP to be too good to be true. Remember, HARP is a free government program and there’s absolutely NO COST to see if you qualify. See if you qualify >>

Putting Money Back Into The Middle Class

Did you know if your mortgage is less than $625,000, your chances of qualifying for HARP could be high? The Government wants the banks to cut your rates, which puts more money in your pocket, ultimately boosting the economy.

But the banks are not happy about this. Here’s why:

  1. The program makes it easier to qualify for lower mortgage rates
  2. You have the option to shop lenders other than your current mortgage holder

You think banks like the above? Rest assured, they do not. They'd rather make more money by keeping you at the higher rate you financed at years ago. The middle class seems to miss out on everything, and jumping on this benefit is a no-brainer.

  • The average monthly savings is $250. Could you use an extra $250/month? 2
  • On top of the savings, many homeowners could pay off their mortgage faster.
  • Homeowners can even take cash out for home improvements, pay off debt, or pay for their children's education.

Where Do I Start?

With hundreds of mortgage lenders and brokers available, it can take consumers hours to simply contact each one separately and request a quote. The good news is that there are services that could help you save time and money by comparing multiple lenders at once. One such service is HARP Refi Quote™, which has one of the biggest lender networks in the nation and what’s better is that they work with HARP lenders to provide consumers with a comprehensive set of mortgage options.

There’s no obligation to homeowners, and HARP Refi Quote, offers easy and fast comparisons. It takes about five minutes, and the service is 100% free. You have nothing to lose, except for your money problems!

Source: CNN.com

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Obama scolds media about ‘reality show’ Trump coverage

President Obama scolded the media on Friday over its coverage of Donald Trump’s unorthodox campaign, entreating reporters to skip “the spectacle and the circus” of the 2016 race.

He urged reporters to instead dig into the candidates’ positions on the economy and the military. As if on cue, he was then asked about the bombastic entrepreneur’s tweet about a taco bowl.

“We are in serious times and this is a really serious job. This is not entertainment, this is not a reality show,” Obama admonished in the White House briefing room. “This is a contest for the presidency of the United States.”

The president went on to take a number of indirect shots at Trump. He said reporters need to apply “genuine scrutiny” about whether candidates offer up “completely implausible” policies or “take a position on international issues that could threaten war or has the potential of upending our critical relationships with other countries or would potentially break the financial system.”

“What I’m concerned about is the degree to which reporting and information starts emphasizing the spectacle and the circus. Because that’s not something we can afford,” he said.

Obama highlighted a debate inside the Republican Party about what it represents, reflecting unease in some parts of the GOP that “their standard bearer at the moment is Donald Trump.” He suggested that Republican women and fiscal hawks should be uncomfortable voting for the wealthy reality show star.

Another reporter later asked if Obama had seen Trump’s Cinco de Mayo tweet of himself eating a taco bowl. The tweet sparked a social media firestorm Thursday afternoon.

Obama sidestepped with evident annoyance.

“I have no thoughts on Mr. Trump’s tweets. As a general rule, I don’t pay attention to Mr. Trump’s tweets,” he replied. “And I think that will be true for, I think, for the next six months. So, if you could just file that one.”

The president also declined to weigh in substantively on whether Sen. Bernie Sanders should concede the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton, who holds a wide lead. “Just let the process play out,” he said.

Obama said “everybody starts getting a little chippy” at this point in the primaries, but Democrats have “a pretty strong consensus” on core issues and only “disagreements about tactics.”

“In terms of the Democratic votes coming up, I’m going to let the voters cast their ballots, and not, you know, not try to meddle in the few primaries that are remaining,” he said. “We will know soon enough. It’s not going to be that much longer.”

Source: Yahoo.com

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‘You heard wrong, cowboy’: Donald Trump and Joe Scarborough get into a Twitter fight

The friendly relationship between Donald Trump and Joe Scarborough publicly frayed Friday afternoon as the two exchanged blows on Twitter.

Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, called Scarborough’s MSNBC show “rapidly fading” and accused Scarborough of supporting two of his former primary rivals.

“Not much power or insight!” Trump tweeted of Scarborough.

“Define ‘rapidly fading,’ Donnie boy,” Scarborough shot back while touting the viewership of Morning Joe.

Trump said he heard that Scarborough was “pushing hard” for a third candidate to enter the presidential race, which the real estate magnate said would guarantee a Democratic victory.

“You heard wrong, cowboy,” Scarborough responded.

The back-and-forth between Trump and Scarborough was especially striking because Morning Joe is frequently criticized for giving Trump favorable treatment compared with other candidates.

At last weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, comedian Larry Wilmore even joked that “Morning Joe has their head so far up Trump’s a**, they bumped into Chris Christie.” (New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had endorsed Trump’s campaign.)

Trump has praised the morning show, which is also hosted by Mika Brzezinski. During one interview, Trump created an awkward moment by saying, “It was great seeing you, and you guys have been supporters and I really appreciate it.”

Scarborough, responding to critics, had previously rejected the suggestion that his show treats Trump with kid gloves.

Source: Yahoo.com

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U.S. death in Iraq highlights ‘enduring’ ISIS war debate

President Obama’s undeclared but escalating war against the Islamic State terror group suffered its third American combat casualty on Tuesday, as the White House wrestled with renewed questions about the likely scope and duration of the conflict.

Obama has promised that U.S. forces will not carry out “enduring offensive ground combat operations.” But he has also ordered some 5,000 troops to Iraq and plunged up to 500 elite special operators into Syria to help rebel groups battle both troops loyal to strongman Bashar Assad and extremists serving under the black flag of ISIS, as the terrorist army is also known.

The casualty, a U.S. Navy SEAL, was killed in northern Iraq after ISIS fighters breached lines held by Kurdish peshmerga forces.

“It is a combat death, of course, and very sad loss,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters.

At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest tried to explain how an American who was not on a combat mission could be killed in combat.

“He was killed, and he was killed in combat. But that was not part of his mission,” Earnest told reporters. “His mission was specifically to offer advice and assistance to those Iraqi forces that were fighting for their own country.”

But Earnest denied playing down the threats facing Americans on the ground, stressing, “I don’t mean to make it sound benign, because it’s not. It’s dangerous.”

Asked by Yahoo News at what point the U.S. deployment in Syria would become an “enduring offensive ground combat operation,” Earnest suggested that American troops could remain there indefinitely without ever passing the “enduring” mark as long as their numbers remain short of the tens of thousands used in the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

U.S. commandos in Syria have “a very different mission than the deployment of thousands of U.S. troops on the ground, who are responsible for seeking out and directly engaging the enemy,” he said. “That is not the mission of the much smaller number of forces on the ground.”

Pressed on whether there was a time element to an “enduring” deployment, Earnest replied, “I think the reference to enduring is a reference to the idea of an enduring presence on the ground building a base, a large physical presence on the ground. So that’s why I do think this notion of the time commitment and the number of troops involved are not unrelated.”

Obama’s proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State — legislation that would function as a kind of declaration of war — would not permit “enduring offensive ground combat operations.”

Senior Obama aides have taken pains not to define the phrase precisely. Earnest himself said in February 2015 that the language was “intentionally” fuzzy.

“We believe it’s important that there aren’t overly burdensome constraints that are placed on the commander in chief, who needs the flexibility to be able to respond to contingencies that emerge in a chaotic military conflict like this,” he told reporters at the time.

Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Appropriations Committee in February 2015 that “if you’re going in for weeks and weeks of combat, that’s enduring.” But he, too, said that the language meant only to suggest that Obama would not trap the United States in another conflict like Afghanistan or former President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

Many Democrats say the legislation is not restrictive enough for them to support, that they worry about signing off on the kind of large-scale ground deployment that Obama has essentially ruled out. Republicans say it’s too restrictive, that the measure’s three-year sunset binds the hands of the next president, and that the language on ground forces could inhibit a future commander in chief.

But get past the policy, and politics loom large. Democrats have been mindful that a vote for war can come back to hurt them — with then New York Sen. Hillary Clinton’s 2002 vote authorizing Bush to invade Iraq perhaps the best example. That vote dogged Clinton throughout her unsuccessful 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Republicans could modify Obama’s AUMF to their liking, such as by stripping out the ground forces restriction, vague as it is, and scrapping the three-year limit. But GOP aides say their leaders in Congress worry about taking any step that might make them share the responsibility for a military strategy that will be executed by Obama, at least for another eight months or so.

Source: CNN.com

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Coast Guard helps rescue man after 2 months adrift in Pacific

(CNN)He spent two months adrift in the Pacific and saw three of his companions die -- and the Coast Guard is calling him "fortunate."

That's the story of a 29-year-old Colombian mariner who arrived in Honolulu on Wednesday, according to a U.S. Coast Guard press release.
The Coast Guard said the man, whose name was not given, was picked up on April 26 by a Panamanian freighter about 2,150 miles southeast of Hilo, Hawaii.
The man told the crew of the 618-foot-long bulk carrier Nikkei Verde that he and three companions had set out from Colombia's Pacific coast more than two months earlier in a 23-foot skiff.
When the motor on the small vessel died, the men drifted, catching and eating fish and seagulls to survive, the Coast Guard said the man reported.
He said the other three died at sea and turned over their passports, but their bodies were not on the skiff when it was found by the merchant ship, the Coast Guard said.
A Coast Guard vessel met the Nikkei Verde off Hawaii and took the survivor to Honolulu.
The fact that he was found at all was lucky, said Lt. Cmdr. John MacKinnon of the Coast Guard's 14th District in Honolulu.
"The Pacific is vast and inherently dangerous," MacKinnon said. "This mariner had great fortitude and is very fortunate the crew of the Nikkei Verde happened upon him, as the area he was in is not heavily trafficked."
Speaking through a Coast Guard interpreter, the survivor said he "thanked God that he has life" and lamented the deaths of his companions, saying he "would have loved it if his friends were here with him."
The Coast Guard said it would not be investigating the man's story, "as the circumstances fall outside Coast Guard purview," according to the press release.
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Swarm of earthquakes strikes Mount St. Helens

(CNN)In the past eight weeks, more than 130 small earthquakes have trembled beneath the surface of Mount St. Helens.

At this point, "there is absolutely no sign that it will erupt anytime soon, but the data we collect tells us that the volcano is still very much alive," the U.S. Geological Survey said.
Seismologists reported that there are no anomalous gases, and no signs that the collection of magma, which is the molten rock beneath the surface of the Earth, is getting inflated in the recent swarm of earthquakes at the volcano.
Although there are no signs of an imminent eruption, the volcano is recharging, scientists say.
Mount St. Helens is in Washington state, 95 miles south of Seattle and about 55 miles northeast of Portland, OR.
The earthquakes have been measured at a magnitude of 0.5 or less and the largest was at 1.3. They've been measured about 1.2 to four miles underneath the surface. With such small magnitudes and such depths, you wouldn't be able to feel the earthquakes on the surface.
But it's not the magnitude that has gotten scientists attention -- it's the frequency.
They've become increasingly common since March 14, "reaching nearly 40 located earthquakes per week," according to the USGS.
The eruption of Mount St. Helens: Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington state on May 18, 1980, triggered by an earthquake.
The USGS says the volcano's collection of magma is re-pressurizing. The process can continue for years without an eruption. Scientists have seen similar patterns of small earthquake swarms in 2013, 2014 and in the 1990s, according to the USGS.
Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980, blowing off more than 1,000 feet from the top of the mountain, leaving a huge crater and spewing hot ash across the Northwest. It killed 57 people, ignited forest fires from the scattering of hot ash and caused floods as the snow melted from mountain tops.
Since then, Mount St. Helens is one of the closely monitored volcanoes on the planet.
Source: CNN.com
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Bobby Brown Petitions to be Added as Plaintiff in Bobbi Kristina Brown Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Nick Gordon

Bobby Brown has petitioned to become a plaintiff in the Bobbi Kristina wrongful death lawsuit against Nick Gordon.

Documents from Fulton County Court show that the 47-year-old singer was requested to be added as a plaintiff in the ongoing $10 million wrongful death civil lawsuit, which alleges that "Ms. Brown died due to a violent altercation with Defendant (Gordon) after which he placed her in a bathtub, unconscious, after he injected her with a toxic mixture."

On June 24, 2015, Bobbi Kristina's court-appointed conservator, Bedelia Hargrove, filed a $10 million wrongful death civil lawsuit against Gordon -- who was at the scene and had performed CPR on her before paramedics arrived -- accusing him of assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and transferring money from Brown's account into his own without authorization.

No criminal charges have been filed against Gordon and his lawyers have called the wrongful death civil suit "slanderous and meritless."

The daughter of Brown and the late Whitney Houston was found unconscious in her bathtub on Jan. 31, 2015. Bobbi Kristina died nearly seven months later, on July 26, 2015, at the age of 22.

Source: ET Online

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Beyoncé and Jay Z Were a "Really Happy Couple" While Out to Dinner With Blue Ivy

Beyoncé and Jay Z weren't together for the Met Gala, but they reunited as a family unit for a dinner with their daughter, Blue Ivy.

Bey, Jay and Blue Ivy went to dinner at Mamo in New York City Thursday, and a source tells E! News that they've been there before. A few of their favorite items are the restaurant's signature truffle dishes, including a pasta and pizza, but the source tells us the special on the menu that night happened to be the couple's love for each other and their daughter.

"Blue was adorable. She kissed Jay during dinner on his head and cheeks and then was playing music by tapping her hands on the table, which caused Jay and Beyoncé to smile and laugh," the insider says. "There were a lot of smiles and happiness that came from the table throughout their meal. Beyoncé and Jay seemed like a really happy couple." 

The two couldn't help but gush over their little girl either, the insider adds. "The way they love Blue was really obvious during dinner. Beyoncé and Jay treat Blue so well," the source says. "Blue had great manners at the table. She was also very well behaved. Beyoncé and Jay were looking at each other throughout the dinner, and it seemed that they were really enjoying being together."

The rapper and the "Formation" songstress spent close to two hours at the restaurant. Their romantic family night out comes on the heels of Lemonade, her headline-making album that caused a flurry of speculation about infidelity and who "Becky with the good hair" was. The Beyhive wondered if it could be Rachel Roy or Rita Ora, but the latter star put rumors to rest when she snapped a selfie with Bey at the Met Gala.

As for why Jay didn't stand by Bey's side at the Met Gala, a source told E! News that they felt it would help her album more if she attended solo. "They thought it was a good move that Beyoncé go alone this year to the Met," the insider explained.

"They aren't fighting but they thought it would be a better look if she came solo for her new album and all the hype that was attached to it."

Mission: accomplished.

E news.com

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EXCLUSIVE: Janet Jackson Pregnant With Her First Child 2 Weeks Shy of 50th Birthday

Just days before Mother's Day, a source confirms to ET that Janet Jackson is pregnant with her first child.

The baby news comes after the 49-year-old singer -- who will turn 50 on May 16 -- announced last month that she will be postponing her tour to start a family with husband Wissam Al Mana. “We’re in the second leg of the tour and there actually has been a sudden change,” Jackson explained in a video posted to Twitter on April 6. “I thought it was important that you be the first to know. My husband and I are planning our family, so I’m going to have to delay the tour.”

“Please, if you could try and understand that it’s important that I do this now,” Jackson asked of her fans. “I have to rest up, doctor’s orders. But I have not forgotten about you. I will continue the tour as soon as I possibly can."

WATCH: Janet Jackson Steps Out for First Time Since Surgery, Preps for Tour Return

Jackson secretly wed Al Mana, 41, in 2012, but didn't confirm the news until early 2013. This is the singer’s third marriage.

In 2008, ET spoke with Jackson about whether she and her then-boyfriend, Jermaine Dupri, would be open to having kids. "I would love to have children of our own, but we also would love to adopt," she said. "So, we'll see what happens. It'll happen someday."

WATCH: Janet Jackson Surprises Fans by Pretending to Be a Statue -- and It's Adorable!

When ET correspondent Cojo gushed that she would "the greatest mother in the world," Jackson responded, "Well, I hope so. People say that, but I hope so."

Check out ET's behind-the-scenes look at Jackson's new music video for "Dammn Baby."

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Afeni Shakur, mother of hip-hop legend Tupac, dead at 69

Afeni Shakur, the former Black Panther who overcame drug addiction and inspired the work of her rap icon son Tupac Shakur before guiding his estate after his murder, has died. She was 69.

Marin County sheriff’s deputies and firefighters responded to Shakur’s houseboat in Sausalito, Calif., Monday night after she fell ill and suffered a suspected heart attack, police said.

A family member and a close friend were present when she became unresponsive, cops said.

“At this point, there is nothing to indicate to us that there was any foul play, nothing suspicious about this other than this being sadly a natural event,” Marin County Sheriff’s Lt. Doug Pittman said.

Paramedics arrived around 9:30 p.m., and Shakur was rushed to Marin General Hospital, where she was treated for about an hour before she was pronounced dead, according to Pittman.

An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday.

Afeni Shakur (seen in June 2011) has died aged 69, after a suspected heart attack.

“It’s a sad day,” Tupac’s biological dad, Billy Garland, told the Daily News. “Her contributions to this world will always be remembered. We weren’t really active in each other’s lives, but the pain is magnified when it’s the mother of your child.”


The New Jersey trucker, 66, recalled Shakur as a strong woman. He lamented their court battle after Tupac’s death in 1996, which ended with a judge denying his inheritance claim in 1997 because he contributed little to the superstar’s upbringing.

“We had a lot of legal issues that got blown out of proportion, and I regret that,” he told The News. “It’s just a shock that she’s gone. I hope she’ll be at peace.”

Shakur, born Alice Faye Williams in Lumberton, N.C., changed her name when she moved to New York City and joined the Black Panther movement. She and other party members were arrested in 1969 and charged with conspiracy to bomb multiple city landmarks.

In May 1971, Shakur was acquitted on all charges after she represented herself in court while heavily pregnant. She gave birth to Tupac a month later.

Shakur was the subject of her son’s 1995 hit song “Dear Mama,” which hailed her triumph over poverty and drug addiction.

“There’s no way I can pay you back/But the plan is to show you that I understand/You are appreciated,” he rapped.

After Tupac’s 1996 shooting death, Shakur took the helm of his estate, which earns more than $1 million a year. She has funneled much of the money to charity.

“She was a remarkable woman. In her youth she was a lion in the black movement. She was indefatigable,” Richard Fischbein, a New York lawyer who worked with her in the Bronx when Tupac was a young boy, told The News.

Tupac Shakur, who was fatally shot in 1996, celebrated his mother's accomplishments in the 1995 song “Dear Mama.” Ron Galella/WireImage

Tupac Shakur, who was fatally shot in 1996, celebrated his mother's accomplishments in the 1995 song “Dear Mama.”

Shakur called Fischbein after Tupac’s death, and he became the administrator of the estate.

"She guided that estate in honor of Tupac. We must have put out five albums after he died. She took a lot of that money and spent her time trying to help young black kids, and kids in general," he said.

Shakur is survived by daughter Sekyiwa Shakur, 40, who was living on a nearby houseboat. A source told The News it was Sekyiwa who called 911.


Fischbein said Sekyiwa likely will take over the estate and foundation created in Tupac's name.

Afeni (l.) and Tupac Shakur are seen together in the 2003 documentary "Tupac: Resurrection." MTV

Afeni (l.) and Tupac Shakur are seen together in the 2003 documentary "Tupac: Resurrection."

"She is going to do a great job. She'll follow Aseni's wishes, I'm sure," he said.

Dina LaPolt, a California attorney who handled Tupac Shakur's estate for nearly 10 years, fought back tears as she described Shakur, who inspired the lawyer to open up her own firm in 2001.

"She's an advocate. She's an activist. She taught me never to compromise your values -- to always fight for what you believe in," she told The News.

LaPolt oversaw the legal work behind 11 posthumously released albums while she represented the estate between 2001 and 2010.

The lawyer developed a close professional relationship with Shakur, who LaPolt described as "one of the smartest people I've ever worked with," citing how the Black Panther represented herself in court. The activist mother also influenced LaPolt's personal life, she said

Source: NY Daily News.com

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Seeing President Mugabe’s Frailty, Zimbabwe Braces for Turmoil

HARARE, Zimbabwe — The independence festivities took place just as they have for decades: led by President Robert Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabwe has ever had.

But as Mr. Mugabe, 92, inspected a military parade during the celebrations last month, he did something unusual. When his vehicle stopped in front of a framed picture of the president, Mr. Mugabe bowed before his own portrait. Zimbabweans were stunned. Had their president grown so feeble, they wondered, that he could no longer recognize the person in front of him?

Mr. Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, said this year that he would preside over Zimbabwe “until God says, ‘Come.’ ” His increasingly powerful wife, Grace, vowed that her husband would rule from a special wheelchair until he was 100.

But the end of an era looms over this capital. As Mr. Mugabe has grown visibly weaker in the past year, talk of his death dominates the private conversations of the governing class, leading to some cutthroat maneuvering for the endgame.

To many Zimbabweans, the president’s decline has been obvious. The same man who unyieldingly defied the West, who outwitted or ruthlessly crushed his opponents for decades while leaders in other countries were felled in coups, has been caught on video stumbling or dozing off during public events.

Mr. Mugabe, it seems, is succumbing only to his own age. In March, he dozed off at a news conference with the prime minister of Japan. Last year, he reread his 25-minute State of the Nation speech to Parliament in its entirety, apparently not realizing that he had already read it to the same body of lawmakers a month earlier.

What comes after Mr. Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, is anybody’s guess. Will his ZANU-PF party maintain its grip on Zimbabwe? Or will it fall apart, riven by infighting? On which side — or sides — will the security forces, Mr. Mugabe’s bedrock support, come down?

Continue reading the main story

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For the first time, Mr. Mugabe has been forced to talk about his mortality. In a recent meeting with the nation’s war veterans, he complained that talk of his eventual death was fueling a fight over succession inside his party.

“I am not dying,” he said. “Shame on you.”

The political uncertainty is one reason behind a severe cash shortage afflicting Zimbabwe in recent weeks, as people hoard money or move it out of the country. Banks in Zimbabwe, which adopted the American dollar in 2009 to help arrest an economic crisis, are now so short on cash that they have limited withdrawals or left A.T.M.s empty.


President Robert Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabwe has ever had, in April in the capital, Harare. He says he is still fit to govern. Credit Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Associated Press

The succession battle intensified after Mr. Mugabe broke a taboo by speaking about his death with the national broadcaster, ZBC, on his 92nd birthday in February, said Nginya Mungai Lenneiye, a former World Bank representative who has served in the Zimbabwean government.

“That was the first time he clearly articulated it himself,” Mr. Lenneiye said. “Until he spoke about it, no one dared to.”

For more than three decades, Mr. Mugabe has proved to be a master at pitting feuding factions against one another and rising above the squabbling.

But at the heart of the battle inside his party lies a heated question: Is Mr. Mugabe fit enough to complete his term and run for re-election in 2018, as he has pledged to do?

Two factions in his party have attacked each other with increasing vitriol. Those on Team Lacoste — a faction led by Emmerson Mnangagwa, a vice president whose nickname is the Crocodile — argue that the president should be allowed to rest. Necessary political and economic reforms cannot be carried out under his stewardship, they say.

Those associated with the G40 faction — short for Generation 40, because its leaders tend to be younger — say Mr. Mugabe remains in control and should run in 2018. Mr. Mugabe’s wife, Grace, a leader in the G40, has said she would carry her husband to work in a wheelbarrow, if necessary.

Until 2014, Ms. Mugabe, 50, who became the president’s second wife in 1996, had drawn attention mostly for her charity work, lavish lifestyle and shopping sprees. But then she was voted head of the party’s women’s wing, earning a spot in the party’s decision-making Politburo and assuming a central role in the succession fight.

One of Ms. Mugabe’s first actions was to hold rallies in which she attacked a longtime vice president, Joice Mujuru, who had been considered Mr. Mugabe’s eventual successor. The first lady accused Ms. Mujuru of corruption and witchcraft, as well as wearing miniskirts and plotting to oust Mr. Mugabe.

Ms. Mujuru was quickly stripped of the vice presidency and expelled from the party. Ms. Mujuru announced recently that she would run against Mr. Mugabe in 2018 as head of her new party, Zimbabwe People First.

Now Ms. Mugabe’s critics say she is trying to eliminate Vice President Mnangagwa, the Crocodile, her onetime ally who had risen in the past year to become the candidate most likely to succeed Mr. Mugabe.

In a recent “meet the people” rally, Ms. Mugabe prowled the stage, her right hand wound tightly around a microphone, her left punching at the air. She moved back and forth, as if attacking and ducking before her unmentioned rival, the Crocodile.


A woman bathed her son on a day that their town, Chitungwiza, had running water. Zimbabwe’s economic prospects are shaky. Credit Mary Turner/Getty Images

“When I decide to attack a dog, I’ll crush it openly and I won’t hide the stick,” she said, speaking without notes to cheering and ululation.

Philip Chiyangwa, a prominent ZANU-PF member, businessman and member of G40, praised Ms. Mugabe.

“I don’t think her actions have anything to do with her ambitions as such, but it is about the president getting proper security to complete his term of office,” Mr. Chiyangwa said. “Sometimes, in that kind of office, you don’t know what’s happening.”

Her rivals accuse her of being power hungry and exploiting her husband’s growing frailty for her own ambitions.

Christopher Mutsvangwa, an ally of the Crocodile and a longtime ZANU-PF leader, was dismissed as the minister of war veterans in early March after a public falling-out with members of the G40. At the Independence Day celebrations here, Mr. Mutsvangwa dismissed as “leeches” prominent members of the G40, who were sitting not too far from him under the same tent.

“The present is now a story reminiscent of Mao and Jiang Qing,” said Mr. Mutsvangwa, who served as Zimbabwe’s ambassador to China, referring to Mao Zedong’s fourth wife, who, in the leader’s final years, assumed great power as part of the Gang of Four.

In January, while Mr. Mugabe and his family took their annual vacation out of the country, rumors spread in the capital that he had died overseas. A couple of months later, after Mr. Mugabe suddenly canceled a visit to India and the government refused to disclose his whereabouts, journalists here tracked down his plane in Singapore, where Mr. Mugabe has received medical care in recent years.

The news media, basing its findings in part on an American diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, has reported that Mr. Mugabe has received treatment there for prostate cancer. The government has denied the cancer reports, saying that he has undergone cataract operations in Singapore and is otherwise healthy.

George Charamba, the president’s spokesman, had no comment about the president’s bow before his own portrait.

In the television interview on his 92nd birthday, Mr. Mugabe spoke softly, sometimes tentatively, slumping in his chair by the end. His eyes, full of vigor in interviews just a few years ago, were barely perceptible behind his large-rimmed glasses.

“Morning exercise?” Mr. Mugabe said. “Yes, of course, to keep alive. Keep alive and also to enable me to resurrect when they say I’m dead.”

The interviewer looked down with an uneasy smile. The president went on.

“It takes quite a lot,” he said. “Every January, I must prepare the necessary exercise for resurrection because I know I’ll be destined for death. Every January. So now I’m dead-alive".

Source: NY Times

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Ending Tax Break for Ultrawealthy May Not Take Act of Congress

It’s only natural that Barack Obama, entering the homestretch of his presidency, would be concerned about his legacy. Judging from a recent interview in The New York Times Magazine, getting credit for the actions he has taken on economic issues seems to be of special interest to him.

Mr. Obama expressed frustration that many middle-class Americans feel they’ve been left behind during his time in office. The wealthiest Americans, meanwhile, have become richer during the Obama years.

There is a lot about this problem of income inequality — and about the economy over all — that Mr. Obama cannot control. Still, there is something he could do right now to help narrow the widening gulf between rich and poor.

In one deft move, Mr. Obama could instruct officials at his Treasury Department to close the so-called carried interest tax loophole that allows managers of private equity and hedge funds to pay a substantially lower federal tax rate on much of their income.

Forcing these managers to pay ordinary income taxes on the gains they reap in their funds would accomplish two things. It would take away an enormous benefit enjoyed almost exclusively by some of the country’s wealthiest people. And, tax experts say, it would generate billions in revenue to the government each year, though there are wide differences over exactly how much.

But doesn’t changing the carried interest loophole require an act of Congress? Not according to an array of tax experts. Just as Mr. Obama’s Treasury Department recently changed the rules to curb corporate inversions, in which companies shift their official headquarters to another country to lower their tax bills, the Treasury secretary, Jacob J. Lew, and his colleagues could jettison the carried interest loophole.

Alan J. Wilensky is among those urging such a change. He was a deputy assistant Treasury secretary in charge of tax policy in the early 1990s when the carried interest loophole came about.

“This is something President Obama can do and should do,” Mr. Wilensky said in an interview. “This is not an impossible thing to get done.”

Now a lawyer in Minneapolis, Mr. Wilensky recently wrote an article on this topic for Tax Notes, the definitive publication on national and global tax issues.

Victor Fleischer, a law professor at the University of San Diego, is another who has recommended that the Treasury get rid of the unjust tax treatment on carried interest. Mr. Fleischer, a contributor to The New York Times, has also estimated how much money such a change would bring to the Treasury.

“It’s something that Obama could accomplish and, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure why the Treasury hasn’t taken an interest in it,” Mr. Fleischer said in an interview. “In fact, there is quite a bit of revenue at stake. And doing this on carried interest would cement Obama’s legacy in substance as well as symbolically.”

Rachel McCleery, a Treasury spokeswoman, said in a statement that closing the carried interest loophole has been a priority for the Obama administration from the outset and that the department is continuing to explore its existing authority for ways to address the loophole.

But the department cannot eliminate the carried interest tax benefit by itself, she contended.

“The president’s first budget in 2009 — and every one since — has included a proposal to close this unfair loophole and we’ve been pushing Congress to get it done,” she added. “No one should be able to play by a different set of rules, so it’s time for Congress to act to close the carried interest loophole once and for all.”

The provision has come under repeated political attack. During the current presidential campaign, all three remaining candidates — Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — have called for eliminating it. A number of lawmakers tried to get rid of the carried interest tax benefit beginning in 2007; by 2010, it looked as if the special treatment would go by the boards.

But a lobbying campaign by the financial industry, supported by a number of influential Republican lawmakers who argued that carried interest should be ended only as part of a broader tax overhaul, put a stop to the effort.

The Treasury’s recent action on corporate inversions is encouraging, Mr. Wilensky said. But he acknowledged that it was easier to get rid of a tax rule that benefits faceless corporations than it was to abolish a regulation that enriches a small group of extremely powerful and vocal people.

“Hedge fund and private equity managers are really the one-tenth of the 1 percent, and the carried interest rule hits their pocketbooks directly,” Mr. Wilensky said. “It’s much easier to implement regulations that have an adverse effect on anonymous shareholders and institutions.”

Managers of hedge funds and private equity funds receive two types of payments. One, paid annually, represents a percentage of assets under management, usually around 2 percent. Those earnings are taxed as ordinary income.

But these managers also receive 20 percent of gains that their funds generate over time, known as carried interest. These profits are taxed at the lower capital gains rate, thanks to a 1993 ruling by the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service.

Closing the loophole, tax experts say, would involve characterizing both the 20 percent and the 2 percent as income from services rendered.

In a 2008 paper, “Two and Twenty: Taxing Partnership Profits in Private Equity Funds,” and in a follow-up paper published last year, Mr. Fleischer described the current carried interest tax treatment as a conversion of labor income into capital gain, an “anomaly that was contrary to some generally accepted principles of tax policy.”

It is odd, he argued, to treat such partnership profits more favorably than “other economically similar methods of compensation, such as partnership capital interests, restricted stock or at-the-money nonqualified stock options (the corporate equivalent of a partnership profits interest).”

Mr. Fleischer’s solution would be to tax carried interest at ordinary income rates “if the amount of capital contributed to a partnership by tax-exempt entities exceeds the amount of capital contributed by the service provider,” or manager. Tax-exempt entities, such as public pension plans and college endowments, are big investors in private equity and hedge funds.

In last year’s paper, Mr. Fleischer noted that a close reading of legislative history from 1984 “shows that Congress expected that the managers of an arrangement like a modern private equity fund would be taxed at ordinary rates.” In addition, Congress allowed the Treasury Department broad discretion on such matters and directed it to write regulations, Mr. Fleischer said.

Financial officials in Britain have already started to trim beneficial treatment for carried interest. They have cut back on what qualifies for the lower, long-term tax rate.

Beyond fairness, there’s another compelling reason for Mr. Obama to act on this inequity: It could generate $150 billion in revenue over 10 years, by Mr. Fleischer’s estimate. Two-thirds of that would come from the financial industry; the rest would be generated by real estate, oil and gas partnerships and mining companies, he said.

(Mr. Fleischer’s prediction, though, is far larger than the Congressional Budget Office’s official estimate, which is close to $18 billion over 10 years.)

Whatever the correct amount, the best reason to eliminate this tax break for the wealthy is that it would help narrow the gap between rich and poor in America. The carried interest loophole contributes substantially to the increase in top-end inequality in the United States, Mr. Fleischer has concluded.

If these experts are right, Mr. Obama can direct the Treasury to end what is an enormous subsidy for the wealthiest Americans. The Treasury disagrees. But punting this task to Congress means nothing is likely to be done. And that’s too bad.

Source: NY Times

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Ryan-Trump Breach May Be Beyond Repair

WASHINGTON — To many Republicans, Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s proclamation on Thursday that he was not prepared to support Donald J. Trump seemed to be an opening bid. In truth, it was more like the final word.

Although party leaders furiously brokered a meeting between the two men at the Capitol next Thursday, it is likely that only substantial changes in Mr. Trump’s language and tenor, not just minor calibrations on policy positions, will be needed to bring Mr. Ryan to his camp.

Mr. Ryan has become increasingly depressed about the tone of the race within the Republican Party, several people who have talked to him in recent weeks said. He could not bring himself to give even nominal support to Mr. Trump, despite pressure from more conservative House Republicans, after the candidate disparaged various ethnic groups and accused Senator Ted Cruz’s father of conspiring with Lee Harvey Oswald, among other inflammatory comments. Those remarks determined Mr. Ryan’s course far more than the considerable differences on policy between the men.

Mr. Ryan’s stance may lead to the remarkable scenario of a convention chairman presiding over the nomination of a man he does not support, but it basically comes down to three things.

First, and most important: he can do it. Unlike former Speaker John A. Boehner, who had to fight to cling to his gavel almost from the moment he took it in 2011, Mr. Ryan was drafted into his job by the majority of his conference. And unlike Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, who says he supports Mr. Trump, Mr. Ryan is largely impervious to criticism from the right. Agree or disagree with Mr. Ryan, at this point his members need him more than he needs them, at least to prevent unmitigated chaos in their ranks.

It is notable that House conservatives often derided Mr. Boehner for not “sticking to conservative principles” in negotiating with Democrats on legislation, but now are chafing that Mr. Ryan, whose conservative principles have in many ways been rejected by Mr. Trump, is not getting behind the presumptive nominee.

“Isn’t it a principle that the G.O.P. speaker would support the G.O.P. nominee?” said Representative Mick Mulvaney, Republican of South Carolina and a frequent scold of House leadership, discussing the party’s conundrum in an email exchange. (Rock: Meet hard place, over at the Speaker’s Balcony.)

Second, Mr. Ryan sees the value in protecting Republican House members up for re-election in swing districts where Mr. Trump may well be a drag on the rest of the ticket.

“I thought it was helpful,” said Representative Charlie Dent, Republican of Pennsylvania. “I believe that Paul expressed feelings that many of us have. Trump’s attacks on Muslims, the Hispanics, that David Duke fiasco, the abortion exchange with Chris Matthews, all these issues are just really unsettling.” He added, “Donald Trump has to convince many Americans, including me, that he is ready and able to lead this great country, and at the moment I am not convinced.”

Representative Ann Wagner, Republican of Missouri, made similar remarks to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The third reason is that nothing Mr. Ryan has said compels him to change his current course as speaker, which is largely focused on developing an alternative Republican policy agenda and shoring up vulnerable members with money and help campaigning. He plans to develop that agenda with House members, even if election politics may well prevent any of it from becoming actual legislation.

This is perhaps the weakest reason for withholding support from Mr. Trump, since without a Republican in the White House, there will probably be no Ryan agenda. But for Mr. Ryan, Mr. Trump’s conduct appears to loom larger than the speaker’s policy dreams. So even if the candidate shows up at the Capitol next week and says “I fully support this agenda,” it would almost certainly not be enough, Ryan aides say.

Do not expect Mr. Ryan to join Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, who has taken to penning letters to America by the riverbanks and searching for an alternative to Mr. Trump. The speaker will probably just keep doing what he is doing: raising money for Republicans, talking — both amorphously and perhaps later more substantively — about policy ideas, and looking, with hope and some desperation, for that change in tone from the presumptive nominee.

Mr. Trump so far has not signaled that this is in the offing. On Twitter on Friday morning, he wrote: “Paul Ryan said that I inherited something very special, the Republican Party. Wrong, I didn’t inherit it, I won it with millions of voters!”

Source: NY Times

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Gilead to pay Merck $200 million in damages for infringing two Merck hepatitis C drug patents

On Thursday, a federal jury ordered Gilead Sciences Inc to pay $200 million to Merck & Co in damages for infringing two Merck patents linked to a profitable hepatitis C cure. Merck had demanded $2 billion but the damage awarded to the company is quite less. The same jury in San Jose, California, supported the validity of the patents, on Tuesday, which are at the heart of the dispute related to Gilead's main drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni. As a whole, both the medicines had over $20 billion in US sales last year and a year prior to that.

Merck is trying to offer tough competition to Gilead, which dominates the market with its latest generation of hepatitis C drugs that can very well cure more than 90% patients suffering from the liver disease. However, the cost of treatment is extremely high in the United States.

In January, Merck’s hepatitis C drug Zepatier received approval. Merck has also asked for 10% royalty on the sales of Gilead, growing at a fast pace. This matter will be discussed in another non-jury trial in the front of US District Judge Beth Labson Freeman, kicking off coming week.

Gilead spokeswoman Michele Rest said that as per the company, Merck wasn’t entitled to any kind of damages. She mentioned that in case the judge goes by the jury's verdict, they would appeal.

Merck said in a statement, “We are pleased that the jury recognized that patent protections are essential to the development of new medical treatments”. Merck shares dropped 50 cents to $52.5 in after-hours trading, and Gilead shares climbed slightly after the news.

The list prices of the latest drugs have been criticized by insurers, politicians and patient groups. At $1,125 a pill before discounts, for Harvoni treatment, patients will have to pay $94,000 for a 12-week regimen.

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EMV Technology may not be able to completely protect against credit card fraud

A new technology with the name EMV is said make it tougher for thieves to steal data. The EMV chip will be embedded in credit cards. It is said that with the adoption of the EMV technology, a decline will come in credit card fraud rates. But as per a new study by NerdWallet, there are more chances of opposite to take place as criminals will look out for other ways to commit card fraud.

EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) chip is the small silver or gold chip set in front of the card. There is a difference between EMV chip card and a standard card. In the magnetic stripe cards, static payment data can be transferred from one card to another. But such is not the case with the EMV chip card.

“EMV chips creates a unique payment code with every use, so if a fraudster was able to steal those payment credentials, they’d be worthless for any other purchase”, said Sean McQuay, NerdWallet’s credit card expert.

But as per the research, EMV would not solve the entire problem. From October, the onus of credit card fraud will switch from issuers to the party, which can be issuer or merchant, who do not use EMV technology, and the change is known as liability shift.

McQuay said that EMV technology is powerful, but only when both consumers and merchant adopt it. If just one of the parties has upgraded for EMV then upgrade is nothing but a waste. Also, the technology is restricted for in-person transactions.

There are chances that fraud may take place to transactions where the physical card is not needed like purchases through phones or online. But there are ways by which you can protect yourself from fraud like use card’s chip to keep data safe and try purchasing only from brick-and-mortar merchants that have EMV technology. To avoid fraud online, avoid shopping on unfamiliar or unsecure websites.

Source: NY News.com

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New York's Governor Strengthens Laws to Check Discrimination against Transgender

In a breather for the transgender community, the New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, on Thursday announced to expand and strengthen the anti-discrimination laws in the state for protecting the community from discrimination.

With the move, employers, house owners, creditors and others service providers will be under scanner and at risk of penalties upon being involved in any form of discrimination on grounds of gender identity.

"It is intolerable to allow discrimination of transgender individuals and they are one of the most abused, harassed groups in society today," Cuomo said during a dinner hosted by the Empire State Pride Agenda gay rights group.

The order had made New York the first state in the United States to have taken forward a step in the direction of gay and transgender rights. The aim of the move is to check inequality both in public and private sector enterprises.

The move comes after several years of advocacies in the direction. The rights activists and advocates have long been fighting for the rights of the transgenders and now, their demands are finally approved by the Democrat, Cuomo.

Nathan Schaefer, Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, said that the move comes as a boon for the community. He added that the hard work that went into the accomplishment of the mission, over the years, has borne fruits now.

A week ago, California emerged as the first state to have given a nod payment of transgender inmate's sex reassignment operation.

Source: NY Times. Com

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Arsenio Hall sues Sinead O'Connor over Prince drug claims

(CNN)U.S. comedian Arsenio Hall is suing singer Sinead O'Connor for defamation.

This is after she posted a note on Facebook accusing Hall of supplying Prince with drugs "over the decades" and of spiking her with drugs.
The suit, filed in Los Angeles on Thursday, is seeking damages of "not less than" $5 million.
"Desperate, attention seeker Sinead O'Connor has maliciously published outlandish defamatory lies about comedian Arsenio Hall, falsely accusing him of supplying illegal 'hard drugs' 'over the decades' to the recently deceased music artist, Prince, and of spiking her with drugs once years ago," the lawsuit says.
On Monday, O'Connor, who is no stranger to controversy, accused Hall of supplying Prince with drugs.
"Two words for the DEA investigating where prince got his drugs over the decades ... Arsenio Hall. Anyone imagining prince was not a long time hard drug user is living in cloud cuckoo land," O'Connor wrote in a post that has since been deleted.
"Arsenio I've reported you to the Carver County Sheriff's office. Expect their call. They are aware you spiked me years ago at Eddie Murphy's house. You best get tidying your man cave."
Hall has denied the "heinous accusations" in the lawsuit, calling O'Connor's statement "despicable, fabricated lies."
Source: CNN.com
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Hillary fights two battles as Bernie wins another Democratic primary

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Hillary Clinton lost West Virginia Tuesday night to rival Bernie Sanders, continuing her slog through the Democratic primary even as she spent the past week fending off attacks from presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

“Let me be as clear as I can be: We are in this campaign to win the Democratic nomination,” Sanders told a crowd of thousands of supporters in Oregon Tuesday night. He predicted a string of wins in Kentucky, Oregon and the Dakotas over the next couple of weeks.

Clinton is fighting on two fronts. The former secretary of state has a near-lock on the Democratic nomination, but continues to lose states to Sanders, who hammers on her as a creature of Wall Street at his rallies that still draw thousands of supporters. Trump, meanwhile, now clear of any GOP rivals, has spent the past week directing all his considerable fire at her.

Trump’s called her “Crooked Hillary” and resurrected his attack against Bill Clinton’s past sexual relationships with women, painting Hillary as an “enabler” who wanted the women “destroyed.” At a rally in Washington Sunday, Trump said Hillary was playing the “woman card” to get support. “You know what? The women get it better than we do, folks. They get it better than we do. If she didn’t play that card, she has nothing,” he said.

Clinton gave several TV interviews the past week — more than usual for the candidate — and debuted her line of attack against Trump as a “loose cannon” who can’t be trusted with the nation’s security. She also rolled out a sweeping policy proposal in several stops in Kentucky on Tuesday, including a plan to provide federal grants and other assistance so that no family pays more than 10 percent of its income on childcare.

“Boy, do I think this presidential election has about the highest stakes that we’ve seen in a very long time,” she told a fired-up crowd in Louisville Tuesday evening.

She playfully pushed back on Trump’s “woman card” attacks. “I have never gotten a discount when I got to the cashier,” she said. Clinton repeated her defense of Trump’s woman card attack, saying that if caring about women’s health means playing the woman card, then “deal me in!” The crowd shouted the words in unison with the candidate.

Clinton didn’t mention Sanders. The campaign’s director of state and political engagement, Marlon Marshall, sent a fundraising email to supporters about the need to prepare for the general. The email included code visible to readers who received it on their phones. The coded message proclaimed, “Here comes the general.”

But the Clinton campaign has been sucked back into the Democratic primary all the same, spending nearly $200,000 on TV ads in Kentucky’s Democratic primary, which takes place next week. The ad buy is the campaign’s first since April 26, when Clinton swept several Mid-Atlantic states and pivoted toward the general election. But Sanders refused to get on board with that plan. He won Indiana last Tuesday, and has vowed to continue to fight for every last vote in the primary, even threatening to contest the Democratic convention in July.

The campaign celebrated Clinton’s primary ad buy. “If you’re looking for a sign that the Clinton campaign knows this primary is far from finished, here it is,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver wrote in an email to supporters earlier Tuesday. 

Sanders would need to win every remaining state by unprecedented margins to beat Clinton in the delegate race at this point, making his chance of winning the nomination remote. But his continued wins pull Clinton away from the general election, where Trump is focusing all of his energy.

Trump recently seized on Clinton’s town hall comments in March when she vowed to put coal miners out of business in favor of clean energy jobs. Last week, Clinton spent days on a tour through Appalachia apologizing for those remarks, and they most likely hurt her in West Virginia’s primary.

Still, it’s possible that by staying out of the general election fray, Clinton will appear to be taking the high road to voters, while Trump’s more personal attacks may backfire, particularly among women. She continues to lead him in polls by wide margins in hypothetical head-to-head match ups.

Clinton hinted as much in an interview with reporters Monday. “I’m going to let him run his campaign however he chooses,” she said. “I’m not running against him. He’s doing a fine job of doing that himself. I’m running my campaign.”

Source: Yahoo.com

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Marco Rubio walks a fine line on Donald Trump

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio offered lukewarm support for Donald Trump on Tuesday, while reiterating that he doesn’t want to be his running mate in November.

Rubio, a former top-tier presidential candidate, said during a CNN interview that he would fall behind the presumptive GOP nominee because he had signed a pledge to do so.

“I intend to support the Republican nominee,” Rubio said.

Rubio was once one of Trump’s fiercest critics. Before he withdrew from the race last March, Rubio repeatedly attacked the real estate magnate as a “con man,” among many other jabs.

“Friends don’t let friends vote for con artists,” he said at one point.

Rubio ultimately pulled the plug on his campaign. Trump became the presumptive nominee last week after his last two primary foes suspended their White House bids.

At least two of Trump’s other former GOP rivals — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham — have since said they could not bring themselves to vote for either Trump or Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner.

During his CNN interview Tuesday, Rubio said he stood by his past attacks against Trump. But he repeatedly stressed that he would not be taking similar shots at him during the general election.

See the graphic: Where the Republican Party stands on Trump >>>

“My differences with Donald — both my reservations about his campaign and my policy differences with him — are well-documented and they remain,” Rubio said when asked about potentially becoming Trump’s vice president.

“He would be best served by having people close to him in his campaign that are enthusiastic about the things he stands for,” he added.

Source: yahoo.com

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North Carolina transgender battle could expand civil rights law

The legal battle over transgender rights between the state of North Carolina and the U.S. government has moved the country closer to settling one of the last frontiers in civil rights law.

At issue is whether transgender people deserve the same federal protections that have been extended to groups such as blacks and religious minorities.

Backers of the North Carolina law, which requires people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity, say it will protect women and girls from predators. Transgender advocates say that claim is unfounded and ignores a modern understanding of people who identify with a gender other than the one assigned at birth.

The next step is likely to be a federal judge's decision on whether to impose an injunction, or temporary ruling, to void the North Carolina law pending a trial. Regardless of how a judge might rule on an injunction, the case stands to add to a growing body of legal decisions that have tended to side in favor of transgender rights but not enough to dissuade states like North Carolina.

A handful of U.S. states and cities have attempted to enact measures affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, but North Carolina is the first state to focus on transgender people's use of public bathrooms.

"This is absolutely a critical moment in terms of the focus and the answers that will come through these cases about the established scope of protections for transgender people," said Jennifer Levi, a lawyer with the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.

The North Carolina law is the subject of four lawsuits in federal court, two on each side.

The U.S. Justice Department and an advocacy group, the American Civil Liberties Union, have each sought to strike it down, saying the law violates the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which jolted a divided nation into applying full rights to African-Americans a century after the abolition of slavery.

North Carolina's governor and legislature both sued on Monday to protect their law, saying the Justice Department was trying to strike down a "common sense privacy policy" meant to protect the state's public employees. State officials also said if the Obama administration wants protections for transgender people, it should appeal to Congress to amend existing laws.



At least two provisions of federal law ban discrimination on the basis of sex -- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which covers and employment, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

The issue before the courts is whether "sex" also applies to gender identity. The Obama administration has taken a firm stance that transgender people are protected, a point that Attorney General Loretta Lynch emphasized on Monday.

"The entire Obama administration wants you to know that we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward," Lynch told transgender people in remarks at a news conference.

Lynch also threatened to withhold federal funding to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina while the legal case proceeds.

North Carolina stands to lose $4.8 billion in funds, mainly educational grants, if it does not back down from the law, according to an analysis by lawyers at the University of California, Los Angeles Law School.

Unless North Carolina backs down, any ruling by a trial judge would likely be challenged and end up in a Virginia-based federal appeals court that only weeks ago issued an important ruling in favor of transgender rights.

That court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, said a transgender teen from Virginia could sue his high school for being barred from using the boy's bathroom. The court noted that federal education officials have interpreted Title IX to apply to transgender people but did not directly rule on the issue.

So far, only one appeals court has explicitly ruled that the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against transgender people, in a 2005 case brought by a police officer. At least five other appeals courts have suggested that they agreed, some in cases involving other federal discrimination laws.

The U.S. Supreme Court could help settle the matter, but experts said it was unlikely to take up any precedent-setting case any time soon.

Source: yahoo.com

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Back On? Idris Elba Walks the Red Carpet with Naiyana Garth 3 Months After Split Rumors

What breakup?

Idris Elba reunited with former girlfriend Naiyana Garth on the red carpet at the 2016 BAFTA TV Awards in London on Sunday.

The tuxedo-clad actor wrapped his arm around Garth, who wore a glittering black and gold dress. In February, reports surfaced that the couple had split but Elba never confirmed the rumors. Either way, the two looked pretty chummy when they walked the red carpet together on Sunday.

Elba, 43, and Garth, who works as a makeup artist, share 23-month-old son Winston. He has one other child – daughter Isan, 14 – with his ex-wife Kim Norgaard.

Of course, turning up with Garth wasn’t the only big news from Elba from the award show – he had also apparently lost his voice! The actor told BAFTA’s red carpet show hosts that he had lost his voice two days ago and was “nervous” about attending the award show, where he was up for the best actor trophy against Wolf Hall’s Mark Rylance.

Elba wasn’t the only A-lister at the BAFTA TV Awards. Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick and Tom Hiddleston also dropped by the show.

Source: yahoo.com

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Credit checker Experian's full-year profit flat

LONDON (Reuters) - Experian Plc , the world's biggest credit data company, reported an unchanged full-year pretax profit against a backdrop of adverse foreign exchange movements.

The FTSE-100 company, which is best known for running consumer credit checks for banks, landlords and retailers, said profit before tax was $1 billion for the year-ended 2015, the same as a year earlier.

The company said in January that if current rates prevail, it expects a hit on earnings before interest and tax from exchange rate movements of about 11 percent for the year ending March 31, and a further hit of about 3 percent next year.

Source: Yahoo.com

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Fentanyl: The new heroin, but deadlie

Sacramento, California (CNN) America's addiction to opioid-based painkillers and heroin just got exponentially more dangerous. The most potent painkiller on the market, prescribed by doctors for cancer treatment, is being made illicitly and sold on the streets, delivering a super high and, far too often, death.

The drug, fentanyl, has been around since the 1960s. Its potency works miracles, soothing extreme pain in cancer patients who are usually prescribed patches or lozenges.
But an illicit version of the drug is flooding into communities across America, and casual users are finding out that their fentanyl pills and powder are delivering a powerful high that is easy to overdose on. It can even kill.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Centers for Disease Control say we have another national health crisis on our hands. These are just a handful of the people trying to stop it from taking more lives.

The mother

Natasha Butler had never heard of fentanyl before it killed her son, Jerome.
Natasha Butler stared hard at the pictures laid out in front of her.
But she averted her eyes when they lit on the one that still takes her breath away. It's the one that makes what happened real.
It's the one where the tubes, needles and respirator are all hooked up to her only son, Jerome, trying to keep him alive. They ultimately didn't.
"I'm dying inside," she said, her voice falling to a whisper and tears streaming down her face. "He was my firstborn. I had him when I was 15. We grew up together."
She had never heard of the substance that killed him. Doctors told her he died from an overdose of fentanyl, which experts say can be 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin.
"He came and told me it was an overdose. I'm like, 'An overdose of what?' It wasn't an overdose. This is murder," Butler said. "I taught my kids two things: God, and don't do drugs."
Jerome Butler had not been prescribed the highly controlled narcotic. His mother said she was told that an acquaintance had given Butler what her son thought was a pill of Norco, a less potent opioid-based painkiller, a mix of hydrocodone and acetaminophen.
The sellers knew, Butler alleges, that "the pill had the fentanyl in it, and they killed my son."
Jerome was one of 10 people who died in just 12 days from fentanyl-laced pills in a sudden spike of deaths in Sacramento County, California, in March. More than 50 people overdosed on those pills in the first three months of the year but survived. Investigators are still looking for the source.
Similar clusters of fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths are appearing across the United States.
Like the DEA, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention has issued a health advisory and is stepping in to get health providers and first responders to report fentanyl-related overdoses as well as expand access to naloxone, the drug that counteracts deadly opioid overdoses.
The latest state statistics on fentanyl-related deaths compiled by the CDC tell a sobering story.
Ohio reported 514 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, up from 93 the year before. Maryland reported 185 fentanyl-related deaths, up from 58 in a year's time. In Florida, the number of deaths jumped to 397 in 2014, from 185. New Hampshire had 151 reported deaths due to fentanyl alone in 2015, five times the number of deaths from heroin, according to the office of the state's chief medical examiner.
No one was more stunned to see those numbers than the mother freshly grieving her son's death from the drug. She didn't know that so many other families had suffered its deadly effects long before it hit hers until she started researching it.
"What are we doing? What are we doing about it?" Butler said, exasperated and weeping. "I'm willing to do everything that I can."
And that is just what Butler intends to do. She's on a mission to warn communities about the opioid-based drugs killing people at alarming rates across America.
She is talking to community groups and has called senators, the California governor, even the White House, looking to tell her story and to build a coalition to help stave off more deaths from opioid use, especially fentanyl.
"I'm mad at the person who sold it. I'm mad at the person who is compressing it. I'm mad at the state for not protecting our people," she said.
Since her son's death, she said, she's heard from so many young people who are addicted to painkillers such as Norco.
"If you feel you don't have that much strength, let's get together," she said. "We can build strength. We can make a difference. We have to."

he special agent

"Just micrograms can make a difference between life and death," DEA Special Agent John Martin said of illicit fentanyl.
Illicit fentanyl is a bestseller on the streets and a prolific killer. It is so potent that when law enforcement goes in to seize it, officers have to wear level A hazmat suits, the highest protection level made, the same kind of suits health care workers use to avoid contamination by the deadly Ebola virus.
"Just micrograms can make a difference between life and death. It's that serious," said DEA Special Agent John Martin, who is based in San Francisco. An amount the size of a few grains of sand of fentanyl can kill you. "All you have to do is touch it. It can be absorbed through the skin and the eyes."
One of the top priorities for Martin and his agency is to stop the flow of fentanyl and other opioids from flooding American communities.
It first showed up in deadly doses on the streets in 2007. The DEA traced the illicit fentanyl to a single lab in Mexico and shut it down. Fentanyl drug seizures subsided for a while, but in 2014, they spiked in 10 states.
It's been an uphill battle. Americans are buying it in record numbers, and highly organized drug cartels are spreading it far and wide.
What is curious is where the drug or elements to make it originate. Its street nickname is "China White" or "China girl," offering a hint at where most of it is coming from.
"DEA investigations reveal that Mexico-based drug cartels are buying fentanyl directly from China," Martin said.
And as far as profits go, the other opioids commonly sold on the streets -- heroin, hydrocodone, OxyContin and Norco -- can't even touch fentanyl.
Hydrocodone sells for about $30 a pill on the street. A fentanyl pill may look and cost the same but requires only a fraction of the narcotic to give users an even stronger reaction.
The DEA estimates that drug traffickers can buy a kilogram of fentanyl powder for $3,300 and sell it on the streets for more than 300 times that, generating nearly a million dollars.
Fentanyl is often trafficked through the cartels' standard maze of routes through Mexico and into the U.S. But sometimes it's simply ordered on the notorious dark web and shows up straight from China in the buyer's mailbox.
"We're using countless resources to deal with the threat," Martin said.
Seizures of the drug have jumped dramatically, which would seem to be good news for the DEA. But what it indicates is that there is more of it to seize than ever before.
"Everywhere from the Northeast corridor, down to New York, the Midwest and now we're seeing it here out on the West Coast. Fentanyl is everywhere right now," Martin said.
On the East Coast and in the Midwest, it's often sold as powder and mixed with heroin. On the West Coast, it is showing up mostly in pill form.
"It's feeding America's addiction to opioids," Martin said, adding that the cartels have figured out a way to make it more cheaply and easily than heroin.

The forensic scientist

California state Sen. Patricia Bates is pushing a bill that would put harsher penalties on high-volume sellers of fentanyl.
"They look like what you're getting from the pharmacy," forensic scientist Terry Baisz said. She was taken aback by just how much the counterfeit pills look like the ones sold by pharmaceutical companies.
After 26 years in the Orange County crime lab, south of Los Angeles, she has never seen anything like what is coming in these days. It worries her.
"I was shocked the first time I tested this stuff and it came back as fentanyl. We hadn't seen it before 2015," Baisz said, "and now we're seeing it a lot."
Fentanyl had entered Orange County, and it was killing people.
Wearing gloves and a lab coat, Baisz looked down at a tiny clear plastic bag under a glass hood with a ventilation system. It was pure fentanyl. A sneeze or deep breath could end in a deadly overdose, so testing it calls for strict protocols. But Baisz said it's the pills that worry her the most as a public threat.
"I wouldn't hold those in a sweaty palm for long. You're bound to get dosed," she said.
In her lab coat and gloves, she pointed to pills spread across a table. They were all labeled as various well-known pharmaceutical drugs. They looked like perfect replicas of the real deal. None was labeled as fentanyl, but that is what most of them actually were.
"Just one could kill you," Baisz said. "We have to test them. We can no longer rely on the database and our naked eye."

The lawmaker

California state Sen. Patricia Bates is pushing a bill that would put harsher penalties on high-volume sellers of fentanyl.
"It's so dangerous and so lethal, I had to get involved," California state Sen. Patricia Bates said. "Two minutes, and you could be in respiratory arrest and be dead. It's kind of like, get high and die."
Bates knows those details because the fentanyl overdose deaths started racking up in one of the areas she represents, South Orange County. She is trying to push through a bill that would put harsher penalties on high-volume sellers of fentanyl.
The bill "will enhance the penalties, by weight," Bates said. "We're talking about ... catching the big guys, because when you take them out of the food chain, you really do reduce the incidents of the trafficking and what's available on the streets."
She knows it's a tough sell in a time when California voters have passed laws to lessen prison sentences for nonviolent offenders. And, of course, there is the matter of prison overcrowding in the state. But Bates is pushing it forward because she is certain this is the next epidemic, similar to what is happening with heroin but more deadly.
"Addicts are migrating to fentanyl," she said, "They are driven to it because it's a quicker, bigger high. Yet it is something that you don't recover from when you get that super-high."

The drug counselor

When fentanyl began showing up in San Francisco in 2015, Eliza Wheeler helped get the word out on the streets about a new, very potent drug in town.
In San Francisco, the drug showed up in the form of white powder and then as pills labeled as Xanax. It turned out to be pure fentanyl. A health advisory warned that more than 75 people had experienced an overdose in July that year.
"People didn't know what it was," Wheeler said. They thought it was heroin, which is far less potent.
Though San Francisco has seen a sudden rise in fentanyl overdoses, the city did not experience the large number of deadly overdoses that other cities have.
Wheeler is a project manager at the DOPE Project (Drug Overdose Prevention and Education) in San Francisco. In cooperation with the city's health department, DOPE and other organizations flooded the streets with fliers warning that "white heroin," promising a super high, was super potent and potentially deadly. The fliers also advised drug users to carry around Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, which blocks or reverses the effects of opioid-based drugs. It is supposed to be used in an emergency such as an overdose.
Since 2003, DOPE has trained about 6,000 people on how and when to use Narcan. It can be administered with a needle or as a nasal spray. "We saved countless people by giving easier access to (Narcan) and informing them about the dangers right away," Wheeler said.
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The San Francisco Department of Public Health sent out a health advisory crediting groups like DOPE with saving lives.
"If you want to do something that will keep people from dying and impact the crisis immediately, then lawmakers should help make more naloxone and training available to the public," Wheeler said.
Natasha Butler, who continues to grieve her only son, would like to see something else, too.
"We have an Amber alert to save children. Why not have a Jerome alert to warn people about this drug?"
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Bullying is a 'serious public health problem,' report says

(CNN)It's time to recognize bullying as a serious public health issue, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. But zero-tolerance policies aren't going to cut it.

"We need to understand that this is a public health problem faced by a third of our children," said Dr. Frederick Rivara, chairman of the committee compiling the report. "It has a major effect on their academic performance as well as their mental and physical health."

The effects of bullying

In addition to causing depression and anxiety and leading to alcohol and drug abuse into adulthood, the harmful effects of bullying manifest themselves physically in kids and teens by disrupting their sleep, causing gastrointestinal issues and headaches.
Researchers also noticed that bullying causes changes in the stress response system of the brain, affecting cognitive function and self-regulating emotions. Children who are bullied as well as those who bully others are more likely to contemplate or attempt suicide.
Bullies themselves are negatively impacted by their own behavior. They are more likely to be depressed, are at great risk for poor psychological and social outcomes and are more likely to engage in high-risk activities such as vandalism and theft.
Determining the scope of bullying hasn't always been easy due to differences in how it's defined or measured, but the committee looked at research suggesting that anywhere between 18% and 31% of kids are affected by bullying. Cyberbullying affected between 7% and 15% of kids, and it's on the rise.
There are also vulnerable subgroups at a higher risk for bullying, including kids who are obese or disabled, who identify as LGBT or who have fewer peers of the same ethnicity within their school.

What is bullying?

For the sake of having a consistent definition of what bullying means, the committee referred to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's current definition: Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated, and bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social or educational harm.
The report also focused on ages 5 to 18 years, in line with the CDC, because it's just as important to address bullying in early childhood as well as emerging adulthood.
Because cyberbullying is carried about by some of the same individuals and directed at the same targets, it is included within the broader definition rather than standing on its own. But Rivara acknowledged that more research needs to be done in order to understand cyberbullying and the most effective ways to combat it.
ven if cyberbullying isn't repetetive, which bullying often is by definition, it is still harmful because "a single perpetrating act on the Internet can be shared or viewed multiple times," according to the report.

How to prevent it

Given the proven short- and long-term "psychological consequences" for both the bullied and bullies themselves, the report committee determined which type of evidence-based programs can help to prevent it in the future. The report also includes suggested guidelines and policies for the future.
The recommendations include arriving at a consistent and comprehensive definition for bullying, more longitudinal studies about its prevalence, evaluating antibullying policies, developing and implementing evidence-based programs, and training and partnering with social media companies on policies to identify and respond to cyberbullying.
And it's time to shift away from zero-tolerance policies in schools and switch to Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports or PBIS, which have a proven track record in more than 20,000 schools, according to committee member Catherine Bradshaw, a developmental psychologist and youth violence prevention researcher.
"Zero-tolerance policies were developed to address a variety of behaviors around bullying, but they don't work and may actually be harmful," Rivara said. "Under zero tolerance, bullies would be expelled or suspended. This decreases their chances of getting better or completing school and ultimately getting a job. They need help. With different programs, we can end the behavior but help them at the same time."
The PBIS programs have reduced rates of bullying, improved discipline and academic performance and created a better and healthier climate in the schools utilizing them, Bradshaw said. The programs focus on social emotional learning, which helps kids and teens to learn how to regulate their emotions, build empathy and identify the difference between teasing and bullying.
This can be used in conjunction with more intensive programs that are aimed at kids who are already involved in bullying, as a target or a perpetrator.
"Children need to be taught these skills like they would math and science," Bradshaw said.
But Bradshaw also said there is more room for utilizing innovation and technology to better identify and prevent bullying.
"We see a disconnect between the rates of bullying mentioned by kids and what adults are seeing and hearing," she said.
For that reason, the committee is calling for more data collection on bullying, like increased surveys among students, even if they are anonymous. Then, teachers can have a better idea of where the bullying is occurring and what type of bullying it is, and they can increase supervision. More research also needs to be done around bullies themselves, as well as bystanders.
As part of the training recommended by the committee, Bradshaw believes that more professional development models on bullying intervention could benefit from emerging technology. Role play through video games could seem more real and convincing to kids and adults working through scenarios as the bully, target or bystander, for example.

Preventing bullying outside school

Policies and programs need to transcend schools and reach the state level and federal agencies, the committee advised. All 50 states have adopted or revised laws to address bullying over the past 15 years, and almost all include cyberbullying. But the report encouraged state attorneys general to continually work with researchers on the best and most updated guidance for amending laws or creating new ones in anti-bullying campaigns.
Families were also a focus of the report.
Start the conversation at home before bullying occurs, Bradshaw said. Parents and families can provide critical emotional support, which helps kids open up about bullying that they are experiencing or witnessing. Family members can also help them cope and figure out how to handle and diffuse any situation that might arise, according to the report.
StopBullying.gov is a one-stop shop for kids, parents and teachers to learn the signs and symptoms of bullying, as well as strategies for stopping it, Bradshaw said.
What people learn about bullying early on can make a difference later.
"The important skills we're teaching kids now, when they're in school, are the same skills they need for life," Rivara said.
Source: CNN
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California boy, 7, who donated his hair to cancer patients for years diagnosed with 'aggressive' cancer

A 7-year-old California boy who has donated his hair to cancer patients was himself diagnosed with cancer, his parents said Sunday.

Doctors said Vinny Desautels has “Stage IV aggressive cancer” in growths on a hip, an eye, his nose and his right cheek, his father Jason told KTXL-TV.

 “Well, the veins from my hip are traveling to another place right behind my eye and it's making it squinty,” Vinny, who lives with his family in Roseville — near Sacramento — told the TV station.

The parents of 7-year-old Californian Vinny Desautels told a local TV doctors the boy was diagnosed with "aggressive Stage IV cancer."

He also explained his efforts over the past two years to help make wigs for people who have lost their hair while undergoing treatment. 

“I want to help people so they don't have to go to the doctors to fight cancer."

inny has donated his own hair for cancer patients for years before his own diagnosis.

Surgeons at a Sacramento hospital performed a bone marrow biopsy on Vinny Tuesday, and they’re waiting on pathology tests to identify his cancer and begin treatments, according to a GoFundMe page started by Vinny’s grandparents. The page had drawn over $357,000 from more than 8,000 donations Tuesday night.

“Praying for this sweet selfless boy!” one person wrote on the page. “Please God take this away from sweet Vinny.”

Vinny's grandparents posted this picture of Vinny and his father Jason Desautels on the family's GoFundMe page Tuesday. GoFundMe

Vinny's grandparents posted this picture of Vinny and his father Jason Desautels on the family's GoFundMe page Tuesday.

Doctors classify cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body as Stage IV, the highest such level, according to the National Cancer Institute. Vinny’s mother Amanda Azevedo told the TV station her son is a fighter.

“As long as we are doing this as a family, we got this,” Azevedo said.

Source: NY daily News

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Research discovers mechanism that causes cancer cells to escape from the immune system

Under normal circumstances, the immune system recognizes and successfully fights cancer cells, eliminating them as they develop. However, sometimes the process breaks down and tumors form, and now we know why. Researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center found that when cancer cells are able to block the function of a gene called NLRC5, they are able to evade the immune system and proliferate, according to research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"We found the major mechanism of how cells escape from our and form tumors," said Koichi Kobayashi, M.D., Ph.D., professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine and a lead author on the PNAS article. The discovery indicates NLRC5 as a novel biomarker for cancer patient survival and therapeutic response, as well as a potential target for new treatments.

"Cancer cells are born because of genetic changes, such as mutations or rearrangement of pieces of different chromosomes," Kobayashi said. "Because of this, all cancer cells have new, 'foreign' genes, which host T-cells generally detect as antigens. This anti-tumor system works very well."

Kobayashi and his colleagues discovered several years ago that NLRC5 regulates major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I genes. These genes code for molecules on the surface of cells that present fragments of foreign proteins—such as those from a virus or bacterium— that have invaded the cell. These fragments notify a part of the immune system called cytotoxic T cells, triggering an immediate response from the immune system against that particular foreign antigen.

The novel finding in this study is that the same system should work to destroy cancer cells, but sometimes they find a way to disable the NLRC5 gene, thus enabling them to evade the immune system and form tumors.

"If MHC class I antigen presentation does not work, cancer cells will not be killed by T cells," said Sayuri Yoshihama, M.D., Ph.D., a fellow in Kobayashi's lab and first author of the paper. "We found that function and expression of NLRC5 is reduced in cancer cells by various mechanisms, and the result is immune evasion by ."

In fact, based on biopsy samples from 7,747 solid cancer patients in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database, expression of this NLRC5 gene is highly correlated with cancer patient survival in various cancer types—especially melanoma, rectal cancer, bladder cancer, cervical cancer and head/neck cancer—with patients who survive longer tending to have greater expression of NLRC5. Among these, melanoma and bladder cancer displayed the most striking differences, with 5-year survival rates of 36 percent and 34 percent in the NLRC5-low expression group compared with 71 percent and 62 percent in the NLRC5-high expression group, respectively.

"With this finding of NLRC5 as an important biomarker for cancer, we can ultimately predict how long cancer patients can survive and how well cancer treatments might work for them," Kobayashi said. It might be especially relevant for melanoma patients, both because NLRC5 mutation rate is relatively high and because its levels of expression are highly predictive of survival for that cancer type.

The team plans to continue its research on the role of NLRC5 in cancer and is actively developing plans for commercialization of technology related to this discovery. A provisional patent application has been filed, and plans are underway to develop and validate a test that can, based on NLRC5 expression levels, be used to predict cancer patient survival and therapeutic response. The hope is that the test will give health care providers one more tool for determining the best treatment strategy for cancer patients to eliminate the burden of costly, unhelpful therapies.

Eventually, Kobayashi and his team hope this discovery might also lead to new therapeutic strategies for cancer.

"If we can regulate the activation of NLRC5 or its expression level, that could be a novel cancer treatment," Kobayashi said. "We hope that in several years, our research may identify potential drug candidates that can increase the levels of NLRC5 and thus help our own immune systems better fight the cancer."

Still, he advises caution. This mechanism of evading the immune system is not employed by every cancer cell, and the research still needs to be replicated in an animal model.

Cancer isn't the only surprising disease that can be affected by the immune system. Kobayashi's previous work in immune function and genetics focused on inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn's disease. They also study transplant medicine, trying to determine why some organs are rejected by the new host.

"We now know why cancer can escape from our immune system," Kobayashi said. "No other mechanism is as dramatic as we found. We envision the NLRC5 biomarker as allowing physicians to evaluate and determine the best treatment strategy for each , thus leading to better therapeutic outcomes for the more than 12 million people diagnosed with cancer each year."

Source: Medical Express News. com

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