From Kobe tributes to Dunk Contest controversy and an All-Star Game for the ages, this was one weekend basketball fans will never forget.
Kobe Bryant committed his life to being the best—the best on the basketball court, the best in business and entertainment, and the best father. Simply… the best.
It was fitting, then, that as today’s best NBA players gathered in Chicago for the 2020 All-Star Weekend, the festivities were saturated with moving tributes to the great 2-guard, and that this All-Star Weekend was perhaps the best we’ve ever had.
Kobe redefined hard work. There will only ever be one Mamba. And his one-of-a-kind impact was omnipresent in Chicago this past weekend.
To kick off Sunday’s game, hometown favorite Jennifer Hudson offered a rousing tribute to the Mamba and Kawhi Leonard dedicated his All-Star Game MVP to the former Lower Merion guard. Kobe was the focus during Friday’s entertaining activities and Saturday’s exhilarating slate. He was the center of everything.
Plenty happened off-court at All-Star Weekend, too. At the Metro All-Access Purple Couch event on Saturday, Khris Middleton, Tyler Herro, and Jason Terry dished on the behind-the-scenes realities of NBA life and shared insights on their experiences in the league. READ MORE IN DEPTH COVERAGE
Lizzo has never been one to shy away from sharing her honest opinions, especially regarding body positivity.
Now, the singer has touched on the topic once again in an interview with Brazil’s TV Folha, after her debut performance in Rio de Janeiro.
“I think that women are always going to be criticized for existing in their bodies,” Lizzo said. “And I don’t think I’m any different than any of the other great women who’ve come before me that had to literally be politicized just to be sexual, or sexualized just to exist. Things on them that were beautiful were called flaws and they persisted against that and fought against that.”
She continued, “Now, I’m able to do what I do because of those great women. And they all look completely different. They don’t all look the same. And they all had to deal with the same type of marginalization and misogyny.”
She then called out the double standard between women and men’s physical appearances: “So what does that tell you about the oppressor—what does that tell you about men? Get it together. We don’t talk about your dick sizes, do we? And say that’s not a conventional dick size—it’s too small. We still let y’all asses run all over the goddamn place.”
Lizzo also touched on the “lack of representation in the world” with Brazil’s G1.
“There is a lack of representation in the world—full stop. Especially for women who look like me,” she said. “But my choice process was to make myself visible, not to shrink. To be heard and use my platforms to raise other women. That’s why I put black and big dancers and also an entire orchestra of black women on the Grammy stage—because I think that if I can help them, I must help them.”
The Education Department has a powerful complaint resolution path that is kept largely out of sight.
In the deluge of complaints about a troubled program that pays off student loans for people who work in public service, one stands out for its frequency: Thousands of people say they were misled by loan servicers working on the U.S. government’s behalf.
It is among the most vexing problems with a program that has become a notorious quagmire, with a rejection rate of nearly 99 percent. Lawmakers, consumer advocates and desperate public servants say the Education Department should create a formal process to appeal denials, especially rejections that borrowers say were affected by mistakes made by servicers.
But it turns out the Education Department already has a system for investigating complaints and making fixes — it just keeps it very quiet.
At a training conference for financial aid professionals in December, a program specialist at the Education Department said during a presentation that if the agency finds out that it or the servicers it hires “did something wrong,” it will “hold the borrower harmless as a result.”
Those who think they have been harmed by a servicer’s error should file a complaint explaining what happened through the Federal Student Aid office’s feedback system on the StudentAid.gov website, the specialist, Ian Foss, said during his presentation. That routes complaints to the agency’s Ombudsman Group, and the department will then investigate and try to confirm the borrower’s account.
That startled many in the room.
“I was legitimately surprised,” said Ryann Liebenthal, a journalist who is writing a book on student debt and asked the question that prompted Mr. Foss’s answer. She had never before heard of the department’s dispute system.
But the agency has investigated hundreds of borrowers’ claims and found that they were given inaccurate advice or otherwise victimized by a servicer’s error, according to agency records and interviews with current and former government officials. After verifying their claims — using any records it could get, including the call recordings that most servicers keep — the department adjusted those borrowers’ accounts using what is known internally as an “override” credit.
Yet few borrowers know about the appeals process — and even government auditors think that’s a problem.
In a report last year, the Government Accountability Office found that “there is no formal process for borrowers who are dissatisfied” to challenge decisions and that the Education Department does not fully inform borrowers about their appeal options, including the Ombudsman Group.
The obscurity is intentional: The Education Department does not prominently advertise the feedback system because the manual investigations are time-consuming, according to three people familiar with the matter.
That frustrates advocates for borrowers. READ MORE:
This fall, Sierra Riddle queued up at security at Los Angeles International Airport with a tincture bottle of THC oil — the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis — in her purse.
Ms. Riddle, 31, a nursing assistant from southern Oregon, was traveling with her son Landon, 9, and uses medical marijuana to treat his severe nerve pain from chemotherapy, as well as her own chronic pain. She was on her way to a medical conference in Dallas to talk about her son’s medical marijuana use and was “praying and meditating that we’d make it through security,” when a Transportation Security Administration agent pulled the bottle out of her bag.
“It’s just botanical oils,” Ms. Riddle said she told the officer. “But this was L.A. — they’re hip to the game and so they knew what is was.”
To Ms. Riddle’s surprise, the officer told her that, while it’s illegal to fly with marijuana and he was obliged to call the police, instead, he would just throw the bottle in the trash and wouldn’t report her.
With 33 states now allowing some form of medical marijuana, it might seem that traveling with medical marijuana should be easy enough. But there’s a difference between state governments and the federal government, and if you don’t know the rules, traveling with medical marijuana could lead to an arrest or at the very least, a complicated legal gray area.
What’s the bottom line?
In the United States, the federal government still classifies marijuana, even medical marijuana, as a Schedule I controlled substance, which means anyone transporting it across state lines is committing a federal crime and can be charged with drug trafficking. This carries a minimum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the first offense.
The T.S.A. says it’s not interested in finding your medical marijuana.
“We’re focused on security and searching for things that are dangerous on the airplane,” said Mark Howell, a T.S.A. regional spokesman. Even though the T.S.A. is a federal agency, and it can often feel as though agents are overly zealous about checking your bags, “we’re not actively looking for marijuana or other drugs,” Mr. Howell said.
Careful: Though a recent Instagram post by the T.S.A. notes that while “T.S.A. officers DO NOT search for marijuana or other illegal drugs,” if they do find it, they are required by federal law to turn it and the owner over to local law enforcement.
In a state where medical marijuana is legal, Mr. Howell added, “you present your medical marijuana card, and the law enforcement officials will usually just give it back to you.”
You should also look up your airline’s rules and regulations: Many carriers, including Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines have created policies that ban medical marijuana (THC) from their aircraft, even if you have a medical card.
Nearly 20 states accept out-of-state medical marijuana authorizations, but reciprocity laws vary from state to state.
In some states, like Arkansas, visitors are required to sign up for the medical marijuana program 30 days in advance and pay a $50 nonrefundable fee. Visitors should also keep in mind the state’s purchasing limit, which can be different for residents versus those who are there temporarily. In Oregon, for example, residents can possess up to 24 ounces, while visitors are allowed only one ounce.
On the roads and on the rails
Amtrak’s policy is strict: “The use or transportation of marijuana in any form for any purpose is prohibited, even in states or countries where recreational use is legal or permitted medically.”
Greyhound Lines bans alcohol and drugs “anywhere on the bus (including in your checked baggage).”
If you choose to drive with medical marijuana, be discrete. Many marijuana arrests begin as traffic stops, according to Americans for Safe Access, a nonprofit advocacy group. They recommend keeping cannabis locked in your trunk and never driving under the influence. You should never carry medical marijuana in a state where it’s not legal.
They played video. They brought graphics. They cited Alexander Hamilton so many times, they may owe royalties to Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The Democratic House impeachment managers, unfolding their case against President Donald J. Trump, were conducting a TV trial without many of the staples of legal drama, particularly witnesses on the stand. Instead, they relied on multimedia, impassioned speeches and repetition, repetition, repetition — all in a presentation of 24 hours over three days.
If the O.J. Simpson trial was a long-running daytime soap, this was democracy in binge mode.
The trial of Mr. Trump, as the TV pundits reminded us before, during and after, was an unusual one, in that much of the jury was assumed to already have a verdict in mind. This meant a different dynamic from the usual televised trial, in which the prosecution is speaking to the jury first and the viewing audience second, if at all.
Instead, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California and his team were effectively speaking to the court of public opinion — home viewers who might bring pressure to bear on certain swing senators, or turn against them at the ballot box — though they had to do so by at least arguing as if the outcome were not a foregone conclusion.
So there was the case, and then there was the case about the case. If the Republican majority was going to acquit the president, and if it was going to voting against calling witnesses and subpoenaing documents that might weaken his defense, the Democrats would make sure that the viewing audience knew it.
Their arguments often focused on what the audience wasn’t seeing and hearing, because the White House refused it. Wednesday night, Mr. Schiff made a refrain of referencing evidence — a diplomatic cable, a statement attributed to the former national security adviser, John R. Bolton — and turning it into a question to the Senate. Wouldn’t you like to read them? Wouldn’t you like to hear them? “They’re yours for the asking,” he said.
What the three days asked of viewers, largely, was patience. The constitutional stakes were as high as they come. But the dynamics were staid, thanks to Senate rules that limited TV coverage to two cemented-in-place camera vantages that gave the broadcast all the visual verve of a security-camera tape.
The managers’ most effective tool, both to break out of the visual monotony and substitute for live witnesses, was file video, which they used to string together the words of Mr. Trump and his staff into a kind of cinéma-vérité documentary of the often right-out-in-the-open scandal.
There was Mr. Trump at a news conference with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Helsinki, dismissing his own intelligence agencies’ findings on Russian hacking. There was his personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, regaling Fox News hosts about his Ukraine exploits. There was Senator John McCain, a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, summoned Friday as a posthumous witness.
Certain greatest hits went into heavy rotation. The acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, seemed to say “get over it” onscreen as often as his boss said “You’re fired” on “The Apprentice.”
The senators were a captive audience, though some ducked out, unseen by the stationary cameras. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina vanished before managers played a video of him, prosecuting the Clinton impeachment trial in 1999, in which he contradicted arguments he’s made to defend President Trump. (Mr. Graham did make himself available to cameras between sessions, as did the Democratic presidential candidates kept off the trail in Iowa by Senate duty.)
If any senators weren’t keen on their duty, a good chunk of their constituents were willing to volunteer. Eleven million viewers watched the trial’s first day — hardly Super Bowl numbers but more than watched the Clinton trial, though the numbers declined the next day. And the three major broadcast networks aired more of the trial during the daytime than in 1999, though they left the evening portion to cable news.
In a way, the Democrats programmed their presentation the way a cable news channel does. They recycled through their arguments and video clips during the daytime, for a home audience watching snippets here and there.
Then in prime time, they brought out their centerpiece programming, delivered by Mr. Schiff. (This was around where Fox News usually cut away, preferring its own prime-time hosts.) At the end of Friday’s session, he stepped back from the specifics of the abuse-and-obstruction cases to argue “moral courage” and putting country over party.
“Give America a fair trial,” he concluded. “She deserves it.”
The tone wasn’t entirely solemn. On Thursday evening, Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York told a story about a friend who’d just asked him if he’d heard about “the latest outrage.” Mr. Jeffries assumed this referred to Mr. Trump. Actually, his friend said, “Someone voted against Derek Jeter on his Hall of Fame ballot.”
Mr. Jeffries moved on to connect the American pastime of baseball with the American tradition of the Constitution. But his anecdote made another point. The House managers were not just vying with an opposition party and a truculent defender. They were pitted against every other distraction in the mediasphere, every other shiny enticement and new outrage offering a reason to tune out. READ MORE:https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/24/arts/television/trump-impeachment.html
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo escalated his clash with a respected NPR journalist on Saturday, lashing out at her and what he called the “unhinged” news media in an extraordinary statement. A day earlier, he abruptly ended an interview with her and delivered what the news outlet described as a profanity-laced rant.
The statement, which used the fiery language to attack the news media that has become a trademark of President Trump’s, ignited outrage online among foreign policy experts, scholars of diplomacy and press freedom advocates.
Mr. Pompeo violated the goals and nonpartisan nature of his office, whose core mission is to promote American values worldwide, including freedom of the press, they said.
The interview between Mr. Pompeo and the reporter, Mary Louise Kelly, circulated widely after it was published on Friday night. Describing a tense exchange after a taped part of the interview, Ms. Kelly said that Mr. Pompeo shouted at her repeatedly using the “f-word” and challenged her to find Ukraine on an unlabeled map that his aides pulled out, which she did.
In his statement, released on Saturday morning by the State Department, Mr. Pompeo said: “It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency. This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this administration.”
He added, “It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity.”
Mr. Pompeo also said Ms. Kelly, a veteran reporter who is a host of “All Things Considered,” had lied in “setting up our interview” and in agreeing to have the “post-interview conversation” off the record.
On the program, Ms. Kelly said Katie Martin, an aide to Mr. Pompeo who has worked in press relations, never asked for that conversation to be kept off the record, nor would she have agreed to do that.
Mr. Pompeo’s statement did not deny Ms. Kelly’s account of obscenities and shouting. NPR said Saturday that Ms. Kelly “has always conducted herself with the utmost integrity, and we stand behind this report.” On Sunday, The New York Times obtained emails between Ms. Kelly and Ms. Martin that showed Ms. Kelly explicitly said the day before the interview that she would start with Iran and then ask about Ukraine. “I never agree to take anything off the table,” she wrote.
Mr. Pompeo has occasionally issued statements calling on authoritarian governments to respect press freedoms. But he has insulted journalists and has even cursed at diplomatic reporters in private meetings.
His Saturday statement was notable for the public — and broad — denunciation of the news media.
The fact that it was released by his office, at the head of a department known for its decorum, made it even more galling to many observers.
Five Democratic senators sent a letter on Saturday to Mr. Pompeo denouncing his “irresponsible” comments and the “corrosive effects of your behavior on American values and standing in the world.”
“The unavoidable reality is Pompeo never would have been in contention for a senior-level appointment in a normal GOP administration,” Thomas Wright, the director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, said on Twitter. “He was promoted beyond his abilities because so many people were ruled out. The delta between what’s required & what he has is now on full display.”