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Friday, July 01, 2016

Olivia de Havilland celebrates her 100th birthday today. She occupies a storied place in Hollywood legend, not only as Gone with the Wind's Melanie Wilkes, but also as Errol Flynn's eight-time screen partner, winner of two Academy Awards and sister of another famed actress, Joan Fontaine. Less well known is her historic role in De Havilland vs. Warner Bros. Pictures, a landmark lawsuit that altered the business of Hollywood forever. Her lawsuit limiting the authority of employers to bind individuals to long-term contracts proved a body blow to the studio system. read more


Four years ago, Donald Trump bid $12,000 at a Susan G. Komen fundraiser to acquire a Denver Broncos helmet and jersey autographed by Tim Tebow. He paid for it not with personal funds, but instead with a $12,000 payment from his Donald J. Trump Foundation non-profit. "He paid the bill with money from a charity he founded in 1987, but which is largely stocked with other people's money," the Washington Post reports. Tax-exempt law expert Brett G. Kappel said, "That would be a classic violation of the prohibition on a charity being operated for the private inurement (benefit) of the charity's creator."


The Taiwan Navy fired a supersonic missile in error and hit a Taiwan fishing boat in waters separating the island from diplomatic rival China on Friday, as Communist Party rulers in Beijing celebrated the party's 95th birthday. The missile did not explode but one fisherman died in the incident. China's top official in Taiwan demanded a "responsible explanation." Tensions between Taiwan and China have been high since the election in Taiwan of Tsai Ing-wen, whose party has favored formal independence from China.


Hillary Clinton has a dominating advantage over Donald Trump when it comes to field operations in the key battleground states, according to a panel of activists, operatives and strategists in 10 of those states. "Having worked in GOP grassroots politics for more than 20 years I can honestly say I have never seen a Republican presidential campaign with this weak of a field presence," said one Florida Republican. "Donald Trump just hired a guy yesterday in Colorado," said a Republican in that state. "One guy -- does that count as an organization?" In Iowa, a Republican called Trump's organization "MIA."


The city of Denver used thousands of dollars in public donations intended to help Denver's homeless with food, shelter and counseling to instead pay costs associated with a sweep of the homeless population out of a neighborhood in March. "I think it's appalling," said Denise Maes of the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes homeless sweeps. "People who give money to help the homeless believe their money is being spent the way they want it to be. This is clearly an abuse of the public trust."


Hillary Clinton has written a farewell post on The Toast, a popular website for women published by Nicole Cliffe and Mallory Ortberg that announced two months ago it would be closing on July 1. "I know that today is the final day of The Toast, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what this space -- and spaces like it -- mean for women," Clinton wrote. "As we look back at what this site has meant to so many of you, I hope you'll also look forward and consider how you might make your voice heard in whatever arenas matter most to you. Speak your opinion more fervently in your classes if you're a student, or at meetings in your workplace. Proudly take credit for your ideas. Have confidence in the value of your contributions. And if the space you're in doesn't have room for your voice, don't be afraid to carve out a space of your own." read more


A federal judge struck down Mississippi's controversial "religious freedom" law late Thursday, hours before it was slated to take effect. If allowed to go forward, the law -- known as House Bill 1523 -- would have made it easier for individuals, organizations and private associations to deny services based on religious objections to one of three things: same-sex marriage, transgender rights and even extramarital sexual relationships. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves concluded that the law "violates both the guarantee of religious neutrality and the promise of equal protection of the laws." read more


One-hundred-and-seven Nobel laureates have stepped into the debate surrounding genetically modified food (GMOs). The science and economic laureates signed a letter released this week that supports GMOs in food and challenges the opposition of Greenpeace and other groups. "We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against 'GMOs' in general and Golden Rice in particular," the letter states. "Greenpeace has spearheaded opposition to Golden Rice, which has the potential to reduce or eliminate much of the death and disease caused by a vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which has the greatest impact on the poorest people in Africa and Southeast Asia. The World Health Organization estimates that 250 million people, suffer from VAD, including 40 percent of the children under five in the developing world."


More than 30 years after scientists first spotted a hole in the atmosphere's protective ozone layer over the South Pole, they are seeing the "first fingerprints of healing," researchers report. Measurements of the ozone hole taken in September revealed the breach has shrunk by more than 1.5 million square miles -- about half the area of the contiguous United States -- since 2000. The researchers attributed the ozone's recovery to the continuing decline of atmospheric chlorine originating from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). These chemical compounds, once commonly used in aerosols, dry cleaning and refrigerators, were banned when nations around the world signed the Montreal Protocol in 1987 in an effort to repair the ozone hole. read more


For the British, the Battle of the Somme is the embodiment of the first World War. At 7.30 a.m. on July 1, 1916, a British infantry assault began after seven days of artillery bombardment of the German lines. Only an hour later, there were already around 30,000 British casualties. The battle continued for four and a half months along a 20-mile front. At the end the British had sustained 420,000 casualties, their French allies a further 200,000 and the Germans more than 500,000. "The Somme has gone down in British memory as a symbol of the human cost and futility of the first World War and, in some eyes, of all wars," The Guardian writes in an editorial. read more


Jordan Weissmann, Slate: The Brexit referendum has given Bernie Sanders an opportunity to say, "I told you so." In this morning's New York Times, the still-technically-a-presidential candidate argues, as many have, that Brits voted to leave the EU as an angry rebuke to elites over growing economic inequality brought on by globalization -- the same issues that he's made the focus of his White House campaign. The man makes some fine points. But then, about midway through, there's this: "Let's be clear. The global economy is not working for the majority of people in our country and the world. This is an economic model developed by the economic elite to benefit the economic elite. We need real change." This is Bernie Sanders', and much of the left's, elevator pitch on globalization. ... But it just doesn't track with reality. read more


Vice President Al Gore's daughter Kareena was among 23 protesters arrested Wednesday at the site of a pipeline in Boston. They blocked construction by blocking a trench until removed by firefighters. The director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, Kareena Gore said in an email, "The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should be helping us transition to renewable energy like solar and wind but instead they almost always defer to the fossil fuel industry." Another protester arrested, climate change activist Tim DeChristopher, said at the demonstration, "We can no longer pretend like what Spectra is doing here in West Roxbury is anything other than digging a mass grave."


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Earlier this month, police in Collingswood, New Jersey, were called to the end-of-year party in a third grade class at William P. Tatem Elementary School. The reason? A nine-year-old boy said something about the brownies being served to the class, another student called the remark "racist" and the school phoned police. The boy's mother, Stacy dos Santos, said the remark was about snacks, not skin color. Police referred the incident to child protection officials. Dos Santos said, "He was intimidated, obviously. There was a police officer with a gun in the holster talking to my son, saying, 'Tell me what you said.' He didn't have anybody on his side. ... I don't want this to happen to another child."


Nancy Grace, a former prosecutor who became a controversial legal news show host and advocate for victim's rights, will depart HLN after 12 years when her current contract expires in October. Grace, 58, once got 4.57 million viewers after the Casey Anthony trial verdict. She averaged 291,000 viewers in May. Grace was criticized for often presuming guilt of the subjects she covered, who she often gave names like "Tot Mom" and "Vodka Mom" and relentlessly stirred up public outrage against them while trials were going on. read more


Transgender people can now openly serve in the US military, defense secretary Ash Carter announced on Thursday. Carter said the defense department was changing its policies for transgender service members within the next 12 months, starting with the landmark decision to get rid of the rule that said transgender people could be involuntarily separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment or continuation of service just for being transgender. "it's the right thing to do, and it's another step in ensuring that we continue to recruit and retain the most qualified people -- and good people are the key to the best military in the world," Carter said. About 2,450 of the 1.3 million active duty service members are transgender, according to a Rand think tank study cited by Carter.


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