A bearded Australian backpacker in Kenya has been forced to deny that he is Jesus after he was mobbed by fans who wanted selfies, convinced that he is the messiah. Dressed in long flowing robes and walking barefoot with a staff, long-haired Daniel Christos went viral as people screamed "Jesus, welcome back Jesus" at him after he arrived in Nairobi a fortnight ago. "I am not Jesus! I have never pretended to be," the former software engineer from Perth announced on Facebook. read more
Andrew Sachs, who starred in the TV comedy series Fawlty Towers as Manuel, the earnest but bumbling waiter who was regularly recruited into the schemes of hotel owner Basil Fawlty, played by John Cleese, died on Nov. 23, according to news reports in England. He was 86. He died at a private care home in West London four years after learning he had vascular dementia. Sachs's credits included dozens of movie and TV appearances, but his most memorable role came in the 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers, which aired on the BBC in two separate seasons in 1975 and 1979. The British Film Institute in 2000 ranked Fawlty Towers No. 1 in a list of the top 100 British television shows. read more
On Fox News' The Five Thursday night, one of the hosts was critical of Donald Trump's decision to hold a campaign rally in Ohio after the campaign was over. Greg Gutfield said, "If Obama did a victory lap, this network would explode. We would be frothing. We'd have pitchforks running down Pennsylvania Avenue!" Trump, who has been skipping classified intelligence briefings, took the time to hold a rally celebrating his victory. Steve Benen of MSNBC writes, "He held a public rally for the purpose of celebrating himself, his election victory, and all the amazing things he intends to do once he takes office."
At a New York Times event Wednesday, Jon Stewart made a sharp critique of the media's performance. "What the media has become is an information-laundering system," Stewart said, citing the thin, porous line between news published by mainstream media and fake news. Stewart described the "information laundering" as the progressive surfacing of news -- fake, or otherwise -- from unverified sources into the mainstream. Because second-hand reporting is so common, he said, and is often done without serious vetting of sources, even relatively reputable news organizations will report on something that a blog or platform of unknown credibility has written. read more
Wall Street Journal: A giant flaw in President Obama's economic policy has been the politicized allocation of capital, from green energy to housing. Donald Trump suffers from a similar industrial-policy temptation, as we've seen this week with his arm-twisting of Carrier to change its decision to move a plant to Mexico from Indiana. ... Trump has now muscled his way into at least two corporate decisions about where and how to do business. But who would you rather have making a decision about where to make furnaces or cars? A company whose profitability depends on making good decisions, or a branding executive turned politician who wants to claim political credit? read more
As President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration and the threat of mass deportation grow closer, more than 70 leaders of Roman Catholic universities have pledged their support for undocumented immigrant students, vowing to assist vulnerable members of their campus communities in "confronting legal and financial uncertainty and in managing the accompanying anxieties" in the months and years to come. "The anti-authoritarian resistance that used to come from Christian-democratic parties in Europe, now in the USA could come from the Catholic school system," said Massimo Faggioli, professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University.
An anesthesiologist at Denver Health Medical Center has been suspended from seeing patients after a racially objectionable social media post. Michelle Herren posted a photo of First Lady Michelle Obama on Facebook yelling and wrote, "Monkey face and poor ebonic English! There! I feel better and am still not racist! Just calling it like it is!" Herren said in a phone interview she was taken out of context and didn't realize saying Obama has a "monkey face" is offensive. Denver Health wrote on Facebook, "Her views are contrary to the mission and values of Denver Health, and to our staff and patients. Denver Health proudly serves people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and social backgrounds -- and our staff and patient population truly reflect our diverse community and nation."
Hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson was feeling happy Wednesday morning. After Donald Trump ridiculed Wall Street on the campaign trail, the President-elect tapped former Goldman Sachs Group executive Steven Mnuchin to be his Treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department. Trump even met with Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn inside Trump Tower. It would suit Tilson just fine if voters who backed Trump because he promised to rein in Wall Street are furious now that he's surrounding himself with bankers and billionaires. "I can take glee in that -- I think Donald Trump conned them," said Tilson, who runs Kase Capital Management. "I worried that he was going to do crazy things that would blow the system up. So the fact that he's appointing people from within the system is a good thing."
Gary Legum, Salon: The more we learn about the agreement Donald Trump reached with Carrier Corporation for the manufacturer to keep 1,000 or so jobs in Indiana instead of moving them to Mexico, the more the whole shaky edifice looks to be propped up by positive spin and Trump's own immense self-regard. ... Basically, the deal is short-term ego gratification for Trump that does nothing to address the long-term problem of manufacturing decline in the Rust Belt, or even honestly level with blue-collar workers about the future of factory jobs that are growing ever scarcer in America. Trump has no more idea how to do that than anyone else in his party -- assuming his party is even interested in doing so -- beyond bribing companies with tax breaks. read more
Major League Baseball is changing the rules for home-field advantage in the World Series. The experiment of giving it to the league that wins the All-Star Game is over. Instead, for the first time in league history, home field will go to the team with the better record. Home field was decided by a coin flip in the early years, then alternated between the leagues from 1925 through 2002 before the All-Star Game played a role.
New research finds that psilocybin, the long-banned active compound in magic mushrooms, helps cancer patients deal with the anxiety, depression and fear of death that often accompanies the disease. Two studies published Thursday found that a single dose of psilocybin reduced negative feelings for months at a time while increasing optimism, feelings of connection with other people, and mystical and spiritual experiences. The findings, which appeared in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, are from clinical trials at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and New York University Langone Medical Center. read more
E.J. Dionne Jr, Washington Post: Democrats are in danger of moving from complacency to panic. Neither is particularly helpful. ... [Hillary] Clinton's popular vote advantage speaks to other opportunities. It reflected a shift toward the Democrats in Sunbelt states with large minority populations that is likely to continue. In Texas, Clinton got some 560,000 more votes than President Obama did in 2012, while [Donald] Trump ran 4.6 percentage points behind Mitt Romney's showing. Trump also fell short of [Mitt] Romney's percentages in California, Arizona and Georgia. read more
Mixed martial arts and UFC superstar Conor McGregor is one step closer to his dream clash with undefeated boxing legend Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Wednesday, receiving his boxing license to compete in the California. "Is it getting any close? I don't know, but it certainly wouldn't surprise me that it's going to happen," the Irishman's coach John Kavanagh said. Vegas oddsmaker Wayne Allyn Root said he believes a McGregor-Mayweather fight could generate up to $800 million in revenue and nearly $1 billion in betting.
The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom was begun in Los Angeles six years ago by Muslim and Jewish women to share their experiences as members of religious minorities in the U.S. Today there are chapters in more than 50 cities, part of a growing desire among Americans of both faiths to stand together. When California mosques received a threatening letter calling Muslims a "vile and filthy people" and saying that Donald Trump "is going to do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the jews [sic]," Jewish groups were among the first to reach out, said Ojaala Ahmad of the Council on Islamic Relations in Los Angeles. "More people have become aware of their common faiths given the rise of toxic anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic hate," said Haroon Moghul of the Center for Global Policy think tank.
A federal court on Tuesday ordered North Carolina to hold a special legislative election next year after 28 state House and Senate districts are redrawn to comply with a gerrymandering ruling. U.S. District Court judges earlier this year threw out the current legislative district map, ruling that 28 of them were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. They allowed the 2016 election to continue under the old maps, but ordered legislators to draw new districts in 2017. Tuesday's order settled the question of whether the new districts would take effect for the regularly scheduled 2018 election cycle, or if a special election would be required. "While special elections have costs, those costs pale in comparison to the injury caused by allowing citizens to continue to be represented by legislators elected pursuant to a racial gerrymander," the three-judge panel wrote in the order. read more