Surprise Eminem Album Urges Gun Control, Sparks Anger Over Bomb Lyric

 

 

Guess who’s back?… Rapper Eminem surprised fans Friday by dropping a new album featuring a strong anti-gun violence theme but also stoking the kind of controversy that brought him fame.

On the album, one track called “Darkness” tells the story of a loner going on a shooting spree, while another song, “Unaccommodating,” has triggered outcry and muddied the veteran singer’s call for gun control.

The song references the 2017 deadly bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, Britain, which left 22 people dead.

“But I’m contemplating yelling ‘bombs away’ on the game like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting,” the 47-year-old artist, born Marshall Mathers, raps on the track.

READ ALSO: Whitney Houston, Biggie Among Rock Hall Of Fame Inductees

The lyric was met with scorn on social media, with some users dubbing it “disgusting” and “trash.”

The new album, called “Music to be Murdered by,” features appearances from the late rapper Juice WRLD, along with Q-Tip, Ed Sheeran, Anderson. Paak and regular collaborator singer Skylar Grey.

Dr. Dre is credited throughout as a producer.

Eminem released his last album “Kamikaze” in 2018 in a similar sudden fashion. That album included several attacks on President Donald Trump.

The rapper also released Friday a video for “Darkness” that featured audio and footage from the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, the deadliest US gun massacre carried about by an individual in modern history.

It ends urging viewers to register to vote: “Make your voice heard and help change gun laws in America,” closing text reads.

737 MAX: After 10 Months Of Crisis For Boeing, Questions Remain

 

 

Boeing is still far from seeing an end to its continuing crisis over the 737 MAX airplane. Ten months after two fatal crashes led to the grounding of the aerospace giant’s star passenger jet, many serious questions remain, including the date of its return to service.

David Calhoun, 62, a former top executive at General Electric, is to take charge of the aircraft manufacturer on Monday, after CEO Dennis Muilenburg was ousted in late December over what critics said was his catastrophic handling of the crisis.

– What exactly happened? –
On March 10, 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crashed southeast of Addis Ababa just minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 on board.

It was the second accident in five months for the model, which Boeing launched in May 2017 as a competitor for Airbus’s A320neo in the lucrative narrow-body aircraft segment.

The October 2018 crash in Indonesia of a Lion Air 737 MAX had claimed 189 lives.

On March 13 of last year, the United States and Canada became the last two countries to ground MAX planes. Thus began Boeing’s crisis.

When will the MAX fly again?

It’s hard to say. The most optimistic prediction is late February or early March, but some experts, including the respected Richard Aboulafia of the Virginia-based Teal group, speak of late April or early May.

United Airlines has ruled out flying the MAX before June.

Investigations by Indonesian and Ethiopian authorities raised questions about the plane’s automated flight control system known as MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System).

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered Boeing to provide a fix, which the company is working on.

But as a result of the crisis FAA has subjected the MAX, which was only partially inspected during its original flight certification, to microscopic scrutiny.

The agency at first detected a problem with the microprocessor that manages flight systems and then, more recently, a flaw in the electrical wiring.

Once Boeing has resolved all problems, the FAA should set a date for a test flight — the last major hurdle before the MAX is green-lighted to return to service.

Boeing has taken one major step in that direction: after long resisting having MAX pilots train on flight simulators rather than on computers — a longer and more costly option, but one demanded by European and Canadian regulators — Boeing has finally backed that course.

– Is Boeing still building and delivering the MAX? –
Boeing suspended MAX deliveries a few days after the planes were grounded. It had continued to produce the aircraft, but has built none since January 1.

From mid-March to the end of December, Boeing produced 400 MAX planes, bringing the total number built to 787. Of those, 387 were in service when orders to ground them went out.

The planes are parked at different Boeing sites in the US.

Is Boeing in financial trouble?

No. As of the end of September, the company had $10 billion in hand and about $20 billion in available funds, according to financial documents.

Besides passenger planes, Boeing builds military aircraft and equipment. It also has a space division.

Nevertheless, the costs linked to the MAX crisis have continued to mount. They had already reached $9.2 billion by the end of September and should soar as Boeing deals with demands for damages and compensation from airline companies, aircraft-leasing firms, parts suppliers and victims’ families.

To cover future expenses, the company expects to turn to the financial markets to borrow up to $5 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

– What about Boeing employees?? –
The company so far has ruled out any firings or layoffs, which could provoke a political outcry in this US election year.

Boeing has already shifted thousands of workers to other programs — building its 767, 787 and 777/777X models — and has promised to find jobs for others.

– How are suppliers affected? –
The consequences vary. Engine builders like General Electric and Safran Aircraft Engines, through their CFM joint venture, are partially spared since they also build engines for Airbus.

Along with other smaller American suppliers, they will profit from Airbus’s surprise decision to ramp up production of the A320 in the southern US city of Mobile, Alabama.

But the Spirit AeroSystems group, which provides fuselages and other parts for the MAX, has been hard hit; the 737 program represents more than half its turnover. The company plans to cut 16 percent of its workforce — around 2,800 employees — and has not ruled out further cuts.

– Is Airbus profiting as Boeing struggles? –
Airbus received orders for 768 planes in 2019 and delivered 863. Boeing, which has yet to publish its full-year figures, had delivered 345 as of the end of November, while 84 orders were lost.

Airbus also gained ground in the important middle of the market sector with its launch of the A321XLR, which will give air carriers the ability to open new long-haul routes between secondary cities using a narrow-body craft that is less expensive, easier to fill and thus more profitable.

The first orders are already pouring in, notably from United Airlines, which ordered 50 of the new aircraft in December.

Boeing is banking on its own NMA (New Midsize Airplane), built to carry from 220 to 270 passengers on routes up to 5,400 miles (8,700 kilometers). But progress has been slow, and it is unclear, given the severe challenges over the MAX program, whether the NMA will be rolled out this year as planned. (Boeing has not decided to launch the NMA yet. It promised to make a decision this year.)

US Stocks End At Records As Iran Worries Ease

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on January 03, 2020 in New York City.  Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

 

Wall Street stocks jumped to fresh records on Thursday following a buoyant session for global equities as investors took heart that a US-Iran conflict is not escalating and a trade deal with China is likely to be signed.

All three major US indices finished at all-time highs, with the broad-based S&P 500 winning 0.7 percent as haven investments such as gold and the yen faltered.

The gains in New York marked a second straight session of advances on rising confidence about the US-Iran clash following statements Wednesday by US President Donald Trump and Iranian officials.

“Assuming Iran-US tensions continue to simmer rather than boil, markets are likely to refocus on the global growth outlook and on trade, with the interim US-China trade deal expected to be signed on 15 January,” said National Australia Bank’s Tapas Strickland.

Further boosting sentiment, China said that Vice Premier Liu He will travel to Washington next week to sign the “phase one” deal with the United States that has lowered trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.

The advance in the United States was broad-based, with the technology, financial and energy sectors registering especially large gains.

“Markets have learned not to overreact to developments in the Middle East,” Gregori Volokhine of Meeschaert Financial Services told AFP.

“What animates investors is fear of missing out on a higher stock market. Nobody wants to be the first sell or take profits.”

Frankfurt led European gains as the DAX closed up 1.3 percent — Lufthansa flying high with a four percent gain — as London and Paris, which at one time brushed a 13-year high, limited gains to around a quarter of one percent.

Tokyo and Hong Kong had earlier added around two percent and Shanghai 0.9 percent.

But the rush to riskier investments saw gold, seen as a haven in times of unrest, pull back, having earlier broken $1,600 per ounce for the first time in seven years.

The lowering of tensions will allow traders to turn their attention to the release on Friday of US jobs data, which will provide the latest snapshot of the world’s number one economy, with recent figures indicating it remains robust.

Also in focus is the upcoming earnings season, which kicks off this month.

Pound falls

In London meanwhile, the pound slid after Bank of England governor Mark Carney said Britain’s economic recovery was “not assured” despite a drop in Brexit uncertainties.

“Although the risk of a semi-hard Brexit at the end of 2020 will continue to hang over the UK, the sweeping 12 December election win for (Prime Minister Boris) Johnson and his Conservative Party has brought much of the damaging uncertainty of recent years to an end,” said Kallum Pickering, senior economist with Berenberg.

He forecast a real growth pickup from 1.3 percent in 2019 to 1.8 this year and 2.1 in 2021.

Key figures at 2220 GMT

New York – Dow: UP 0.7 percent at 28,956.90 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 0.7 percent at 3,274.70 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.8 percent at 9,203.43 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,598.12 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 1.3 percent at 13,495.06 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 6,042.55 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6 percent at 3,795.88 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 2.3 percent at 23,739.87 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: 1.7 percent at 28,561.00 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.9 percent at 3,094.88 (close)

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3064 from $1.3097 at 2200 GMT

Euro/pound: UP at 84.98 pence from 84.80 pence

Euro/dollar: FLAT at $1.1105

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.51 from 109.12 yen

Brent Crude: DOWN 0.1 percent at $65.37 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: FLAT at $59.56 per barrel

Five Wounded In Stabbing At New York Rabbi’s House

Nigerian boy, Stabbed

 

An intruder stabbed and wounded five people at a rabbi’s house in upstate New York during a party to celebrate the Jewish festival of Hanukkah late Saturday, officials said.

The victims, all Hasidic members of the Jewish faith, were transported to local hospitals — two in a critical condition — the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC) tweeted after receiving a call at 9.50 pm.

The suspect has been taken into custody, local Ramapo Police said in a statement on Facebook.

Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, said in a statement that he was “horrified” by the “despicable and cowardly act”, and had directed the State Police hate crimes task force to investigate.

READ ALSO: Two Injured In Mysterious Texas Bombing

“We have a zero-tolerance for anti-Semitism in NY and we will hold the attacker accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” he tweeted.

CBS New York reported that a man brandishing a machete went into the rabbi’s property in Monsey, New York State, an area with a large Jewish population, and knifed at least three people before fleeing.

“I was praying for my life,” witness Aron Kohn, 65, told the New York Times, describing the knife used by the attacker as “the size of a broomstick”.

Yossi Gestetner, a co-founder of the OJPAC for the Hudson Valley region, told the New York Times one of the victims was a son of the rabbi.

“The house had many dozens of people in there,” Gestetner said. “It was a Hanukkah celebration.”

In Israel, President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin expressed his “shock and outrage” regarding the attack.

“The rise of anti-Semitism is not just a Jewish problem, and certainly not just the State of Israel’s problem,” he said in a statement.

“We must work together to confront this evil, which is raising its head again and is a genuine threat around the world.”

Police in the US have been battling a rash of attacks against Jewish targets in recent years.

Six people, including two suspects, were killed in a Jersey City shooting at a kosher deli earlier this month, which authorities said was fueled in part by anti-Semitism.

After Saturday’s attack, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that he has spoken to longtime Jewish friends who are fearful of outwardly showing their faith.

“We will NOT allow this to become the new normal,” he wrote. “We’ll use every tool we have to stop these attacks once and for all.”

Rising Rap Artist Juice WRLD Dies At 21

In this file photo taken on September 21, 2019 Juice Wrld performs onstage during the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Festival and Daytime Stage at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds in Las Vegas, Nevada. BRYAN STEFFY / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

 

Chicago-born rapper Juice WRLD, one of a wave of young artists who made a name on streaming platforms before breaking out as chart-toppers and social media celebrities, died on Sunday at the age of 21, according to local authorities.

A spokeswoman from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office in Illinois told AFP that it had been notified of the rapper born Jarad Higgins’ death. An autopsy had not yet been carried out.

Police confirmed to AFP that a 21-year-old man had suffered a medical emergency at Midway International Airport after getting off a private jet.

Celebrity news outlet TMZ reported that Higgins had suffered a seizure.

Juice WRLD’s breakout single “Lucid Dreams,” rose to Number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2018, with his follow-up album “Death Race for Love” debuting in first place on the Billboard 200 the following year.

The rapper was of a generation known as the “SoundCloud rappers” — a subgenre that takes its name from the streaming platform where its artists find fame.

The crop of rappers in recent years has become a disruptive movement in hip hop, combining a lo-fi underground sound with raw, often emotionally laden lyrics leading some to dub them “emo rappers.”

These musicians whose careers are built on internet stardom often rap about popping drugs, notably Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication.

Along with prescription medication the subculture’s aesthetic includes face tattoos and neon-dyed hair.

‘I have a lot going for me’

The scene has launched careers and sales figures but the lives of its figures are often volatile: XXXTentacion was murdered in 2018, while Tekashi69, seeking leniency on serious racketeering and weapons charges, this year was a star government witness at the trial of alleged former gang associates.

And in 2017 the SoundCloud rapper Lil Peep died at age 21 of what was declared an accidental overdose of fentanyl and Xanax.

Speaking to The New York Times in 2018, Juice WRLD said that he used Xanax heavily as a teenager but was aiming to curb his drug use.

“I have a lot going for me, I recognize it’s a lot of big things, a lot of big looks. I want to be there, and you don’t have to overdose to not be there,” he told the Times.

Music and industry insiders took to social media to pay tribute to the rapper upon learning of his shock death.

“Wow, I can not believe this. Rip my brother juice world,” tweeted fellow rapper Lil Yachty.

“rip juice,” tweeted breakout star Lil Nas X.

“so sad how often this is happening lately to young talented rising artists.”

Art Meets Artificial Intelligence: Computer-Generated Works On Display

 A picture taken on November 1, 2019 at Sotheby’s in New York shows two paintings, from left, “La Baronne de Belamy,” (est. $20,000 – $30,000) a portrait from the same Famille de Belamy series that Christie’s offered last year and “Katsuwaka of the Dawn Lagoon,” (est. $8,000 – $12,000) a new work from the group’s second and more recent series (produced in 2019) of works called Electric Dreams of Ukiyo. PHOTO: Thomas URBAIN / AFP

 

Two paintings up for auction in New York highlight a growing interest in artificial intelligence-created works — a technique that could transform how art is made and viewed but is also stirring up passionate debate.

The art world was stunned last year when an AI painting sold for $432,500, and auctioneers are keen to further test demand for computer-generated works.

“Art is a true reflection of what our society, what our environment responds to,” said Max Moore of Sotheby’s.

“And so it’s just a natural continuation of the progression of art,” he added.

Sotheby’s will put two paintings by the French art collective Obvious up for sale on Thursday, including “Le Baron De Belamy.”

The European classic style portrait is part of the same series as “Portrait of Edmond Belamy”, which sold for more than 60 times the lowest estimate at Christie’s during the 2018 fall auctions.

The paintings were made using a technique called “generative adversarial network,” or GAN.

GAN involves feeding thousands of images of the same style into a computer until the machine concludes that it has created a new portrait that it thinks accurately reflects that style.

“Katsuwaka of the Dawn Lagoon” was created in a Japanese style using the same GAN algorithm.

Auctioneers have put modest prices on the two paintings. “Katsuwaka” has a pre-sale estimate between $8,000 and $12,000, while “Le Baron” has been priced between $20,000 and $30,000.

“We do not expect as big a result as last year,” said Pierre Fautrel, one of the three members of Obvious.

“We just want to see if there are people who are ready to buy around these prices and if the market will continue to build,” he added.

Moore said the sale of “Portrait of Edmond Belamy” showed that there is “a marketplace for this new body of work” but that it’s still “in the very early stages.”

“That will be a good indicator of where the market is,” he said.

In the fledgling artificial intelligence market, Obvious is not the most sought-after group of artists.

Not for everyone

Steven Sacks, owner of the bitforms gallery in New York says his client, the Canadian-Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer has already made around $600,000 for an AI artwork.

Whereas Obvious’s paintings are fixed, most of Lozano-Hemmer’s works use software to change in real time according to data about each viewer’s perspective.

Other prominent AI artists who are exhibiting their work across the world include Germany’s Mario Klingemann and Turkish-born Refik Anadol.

Klingemann also makes portraits, sometimes tweaking the input data with voluntary glitches to avoid replication. Anadol uses mostly video to produce abstract data-based animations.

Klingemann’s “Memories of Passersby I”, a stream of portraits created by a machine, sold for $40,000 at Sotheby’s in London in March.

Sacks and several other artists AFP spoke to were critical of the “Bellamy” sale last year.

They feel that that painting is not representative of the potential of AI and argue that Obvious is imitating other works whereas they are creating something new.

“For me it was a problem because it wasn’t authentic,” said Sacks, who subscribes to a school of thought that works made by AI should constantly be changing, usually on screens.

Some also criticize Obvious for giving the impression that AI can create works of art without human interference.

“An artist chooses. He lightens, he reinforces. Can a computer do that?” asks French painter Ronan Barrot, who has collaborated with British AI artist Robbie Barrat.

The debate continues to rage. Fautrel of Obvious denies that his collective merely imitates other artworks and sees AI as a “tool” and not an end in itself.

Despite their differences, they all agree the market for AI paintings is growing and that the sale of “Bellamy” has drawn attention to the burgeoning technique.

“I don’t think this new style is for everyone but I think you’re going to start catching the attention of a lot of people that aren’t necessarily art collectors but are very interested in the technology behind AI,” said Sotheby’s Moore.

AFP

NY Judge Orders Trump To pay $2mn In Damages To Charities

 

A New York judge on Thursday ordered Donald Trump to pay $2 million for using his former charity to further his political and business interests, adding to the president’s legal woes.

Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the New York Supreme Court told him to pay the damages to a group of non-profit organizations to settle a civil lawsuit brought by state Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat.

James filed the lawsuit against the Trump Foundation in June last year, accusing it of “persistently illegal conduct” that included improper coordination between the charity and his campaign team during his 2016 White House bid.

Trump agreed to shut down his personal charity in December but the suit moved ahead regardless as prosecutors sought millions of dollars in restitution and penalties.

READ ALSO: Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg Preparing Presidential Run

“(The ruling) is a major victory in our efforts to protect charitable assets and hold accountable those who would abuse charities for personal gain,” James said in a statement.

The suit accused Trump of using foundation funds to settle lawsuits, promote his Trump-branded hotels, and for personal spending, including the purchase of a portrait of himself to display at one of his golf clubs.

It also said that in early 2016 while Trump was running for president, he organized what was billed as a Trump Foundation fundraiser but was actually a campaign event.

Trump accused James of “deliberately mischaracterizing this settlement for political purposes,” and said the resolution of the case was not damages, but simply donations to the charities.

“Every penny of the $19 million raised by the Trump Foundation went to hundreds of great charitable causes with almost no expenses,” he said in a statement.

“It has been 4 years of politically motivated harassment. (…) All they found was incredibly effective philanthropy and some small technical violations, such as not keeping board minutes.”

The ruling was the third legal setback Trump suffered in his native New York this week.

On Monday, a US appeals court ruled that he must release eight years of tax returns which he promised during the campaign to make public after an audit, but has since refused to share.

The same day, US magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accuses Trump of rape, sued the president for defamation after he accused her of making up the allegation.

 

Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg Preparing Presidential Run

(FILES) File photo dated July 24, 2019 shows Michael Bloomberg addressing the NAACP’s (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) 110th National Convention at Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan.

 

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is preparing to enter the crowded race to become the Democratic nominee for the 2020 presidential election, US media reported Thursday.

The 77-year-old is expected to file paperwork in at least one state this week declaring himself a candidate, according to multiple outlets including The New York Times.

Bloomberg had said back in March he wouldn’t run, but has been toying for weeks with the idea of seeking the White House after all, according to an advisor, who was quoted as saying he had yet to make a final decision.

The billionaire has, though, sent members of staff to Alabama to gather the necessary signatures required to register for that state’s primary ahead of the deadline Friday in anticipation of a bid, the reports said.

Alabama is not one of the earlier primaries but it has one of the earliest deadlines.

The move is the first clear sign that Bloomberg, long touted as a possible US presidential candidate, is getting ready to battle it out to take on President Donald Trump.

“We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated –- but Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned to do that,” Bloomberg advisor Howard Wolfson said in a statement.

“Based on his record of accomplishment, leadership and his ability to bring people together to drive change, Mike would be able to take the fight to Trump and win,” Wolfson added, according to Bloomberg News.

Bloomberg, the co-founder and CEO of the media company that shares his name, is one of the richest people in the United States.

His huge personal wealth would likely shake up the contest at a time when frontrunner Joe Biden’s fundraising is sagging.

Bloomberg is perceived as a centrist figure close to Wall Street who views Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, two of the other Democratic frontrunners, as too left-wing.

“He thinks (leader) Joe Biden is weak and Sanders and Warren can’t win,” the New York Post quoted a source familiar with Bloomberg’s plans as saying.

Bloomberg’s entry would bloat an already crowded field of contenders, with 17 candidates currently vying for the right to take on Trump as the Democratic nominee.

‘Scared’

Bloomberg, who was elected mayor of the Big Apple in 2001 and served until 2013, is known to be opposed to some of the policies espoused by Warren and Sanders.

They regularly lash out at financiers and big corporations. Both have said they plan to hit the rich with bigger taxes.

“Welcome to the race, @MikeBloomberg!” tweeted Warren.

“If you’re looking for policy plans that will make a huge difference for working people and which are very popular, start here,” she added.

Warren accompanied the tweet with a link link to a calculator on her website which works out how much more billionaires would pay in tax under her presidency.

“The billionaire class is scared and they should be scared,” Sanders posted on Twitter, in a not-so-subtle reference to the reports about Bloomberg.

Bloomberg has switched between the Republican and Democratic parties over the years and also served as an independent mayor.

He has used some of his fortune to back Democratic politicians and fund policies that he believes in — including the fight against climate change and anti-vaping efforts.

Bloomberg considered running as an independent in 2016 but opted not to for fear of splitting the Democratic vote.

Trump Booed At UFC Bout In New York

US Secret Service agents watch the crowd during the Ultimate Fighting Championship at Madison Square Garden in New York on November 2, 2019. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP

 

 

President Donald Trump was booed for the second time in a week at a sporting event Saturday as he watched mixed martial artists brawl in a cage in New York.

Trump sat around 15 feet away as UFC fighters delivered vicious kicks and punches to the face and body of their opponents, regularly drawing blood, at Madison Square Garden.

The president was seen clapping and at one point stood up for a better view as 20,000 pumped-up fans screamed and swore amid an electric atmosphere at the pay-per-view spectacle.

Jeers rang out as Trump, wearing a dark suit and red tie, punched his fist and waved at the crowd as he walked into the arena shortly before 10pm (0300GMT).

READ ALSO: Rescuers Retrieve Two Bodies From South Korea Chopper Crash

Many fans also cheered the US leader and there was no repeat of the loud chants of “lock him up” that greeted his appearance at a World Series baseball game last weekend.

“We’d be having more fun if he wasn’t here,” 50-year-old Anna Torres, who booed loudly with her boyfriend, told AFP.

Some spectators, however, were delighted to see the president, who has a fight of his own on his hands back in Washington with the Democrats’ bid to impeach him.

“It’s disrespectful to boo because he is our president,” said Nico Ferranti, 30, adding that he was unsurprised to see the president turn up.

“He’s from New York and he likes this kind of stuff. Back in the day he was on Wrestlemania,” said Ferranti, referring to Trump’s infamous scripted bodyslam of WWE President Vince McMahon in 2007.

Several dozen protesters carrying placards with slogans such as “Trump/Pence Out Now!” and “Headlock Him Up”, in reference to a UFC move, demonstrated outside the Manhattan venue.

Inside, the president, 73, looked concerned as a lightweight fighter delivered a brutal left kick to his rival’s face during the first bout on the main card.

The contact, which left the fighter sprawled on the ground for around 30 seconds, drew loud gasps from the capacity crowd as they watched the slow-motion replay of his face being squished.

Trump, who spent three hours at the fight night, could be seen clapping in support when the felled fighter finally got to his feet.

He also heards fans chant “USA” as an American brawler triumphed over his Bulgarian counterpart.

In the crowd, sporadic, alcohol-fueled fights broke out. At least two people were dragged away by security in just one section.

Down below, ring girls wearing just shorts and a bra walked around the periphery of the cage carrying boards above their heads displaying the number of the next round.

– ‘The Rock’ –

The president attended with sons Donald Jr and Eric, and several Republican leaders. All three Trumps retweeted a video showing spectators applauding the TV reality star turned politician.

“I cheered for him,” said Ilya Dibner, who had travelled from Philadelphia for the event.

“I may not agree with his policies but it’s cool he’s sitting out there with the people when he could be in a box.”

Trump has long been a fan of UFC, hosting events at his hotels, and is known to be close to its president Dana White, who has publicly backed POTUS.

He was due to stay overnight at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue before leaving Sunday morning, a departure that coincides with New York’s marathon, adding to fears of traffic chaos in the Big Apple.

Trump’s visit came two days after he announced that he and his family would be changing their main residency from New York to Florida, where tax rates are lower.

Trump left shortly before 1:00 am after Jorge Masvidal defeated Nate Diaz for the “BMF” belt in the night’s final fight. Wrestler-turned actor Dwayne Johnson, known as “The Rock”, presented the belt.

AFP

Five Key Things About Fentanyl And America’s Opioids Crisis

Tablets believed to be laced with fentanyl are displayed at the Drug Enforcement Administration Northeast Regional Laboratory on October 8, 2019, in New York. Don Emmert / AFP

 

 

Jury selection has begun in a landmark federal case on Ohio on whether drug companies can be held responsible for the opioids epidemic that is raging across America.

The case is seen as a test for the entire pharmaceuticals industry, which stands accused of fueling the crisis by aggressively promoting painkillers that can become dangerously addictive.

Perhaps predictably, the companies are negotiating to possibly avoid trial, thereby avoiding a precedent-setting verdict.

Fentanyl is the primary synthetic opioid available in the United States, a class of drug that was responsible for almost 32,000 overdose deaths last year.

Here are five things to know in order to understand the crisis:

What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl was first developed in 1959 and introduced to the US market in the 1960s as an intravenous anesthetic.

It is used to manage severe pain — for example, among cancer patients or those receiving end-of-life care.

It is up to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

But it is also produced illegally and trafficked into the United States — primarily from China and Mexico — in the form of powder or tablets, and sometimes gets mixed with heroin and cocaine.

Fentanyl can be lethal in a dose of as little as two milligrams, equivalent to a few grains of sand.

How many deaths?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported more than 400,000 deaths from opioid overdoses from 1999 to 2018. On average, about 130 Americans die each day.

While the crisis first erupted in the 1990s, the number of deaths exploded starting 2013, when fentanyl use began to surge.

Last year, the number of fatal overdoses fell for the first time in 20 years in the United States, but deaths due to the use of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids mounted, totaling 32,000.

– Where does it come from? –
Powdered fentanyl can be bought on the dark web or even business trading sites like Weiku.com, according to Roger Bate, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who published a report on the drug earlier this year.

A kilo sourced from China can be purchased in the United States for as little as $1700, which is then used to create up to a million pills that, when sold for $10 to $20, each generate millions in revenue, according to the DEA.

Mexican gangs also play a large role in producing and distributing the drug, with precursor chemicals first smuggled into Mexico via the southwestern United States.

Some illicit fentanyl products are also brought into the United States via Canada, which until 2017 did not allow authorities to open the contents of mail weighing less than 30 grams.

Who’s to blame?

Experts agree that in part, the crisis stems from the prescription use of painkillers gone wrong. Doctors seeking to manage their patients’ pain overprescribed medications, and some users became addicted.

One of those medications is OxyContin, which is made by Purdue Pharma. The US firm got clearance to offer the drug for a wider range of problems, and use skyrocketed.

Purdue is most widely blamed for fueling the epidemic, and is one of the defendants in the complex Ohio case. It has been seeking a settlement since filing for bankruptcy.

It and other companies like Johnson & Johnson are now facing an avalanche of legal action led by state attorneys general or local authorities.

The CDC puts the “economic burden” of the opioids crisis at a whopping $78.5 billion a year. That includes the costs of health care, lost productivity and the prison system.

A study published this week by the Society of Actuaries put the total cost for 2015-2018 at $631 billion.

What is the US government doing?

The administration of US President Donald Trump designated the opioids epidemic a “public health emergency” in October 2017. That freed up public funds to battle the crisis and improve treatment.

Beyond the obvious federal efforts to combat drug trafficking, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in April 2018 launched the HEAL Initiative — Helping to End Addiction Long-Term.

That project is aimed at pinpointing scientific solutions to the issues of effective pain management. In fiscal 2019, $945 million was devoted to the initiative.

Most US states have been aggressive in their efforts to prosecute drug companies over the crisis.

Four Killed In NYC Shooting

At least four people died and three were wounded in a shooting at a social club in New York early Saturday, police said.

No one has been arrested over the shooting, which took place in Brooklyn, and the motive and exact circumstances are not known, a New York police official told AFP.

The shooting on the borough’s major artery Utica Avenue took place at the Triple A Aces Private & Social Rental Place, what NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea called “an illegal gambling location.”

Four men were pronounced dead at the scene, while two other men and a woman suffered non-life threatening injuries, the police official said.

Shea told journalists at a briefing there was evidence of gambling, specifically cards and dice, and that preliminary investigations indicated that a minimum of 15 shots were fired.

Shea said it was too early to tell whether the dispute was gambling or perhaps robbery-related.

Two firearms were recovered and the police official said he “would not be shocked if we recovered more.”

Homicide detectives were on the scene, and Shea said nothing indicated that the crime was gang-related.

The social club where the shooting took place is in the diverse Crown Heights neighborhood, and the victims ranged in age from 32 to 49.

The shooting comes one month after the city saw its lowest number of shootings of any September since the NYPD started its CompStat crime tracking program in 1994.

In a country plagued by gun violence, New York state has some of the strictest rules concerning purchasing, possessing and carrying firearms, particularly in the city and its suburbs.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dating to 2017 showed that the state’s death rate due to firearms was 3.7 per 100,000 people.

The state legislature passed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act in 2013, which among other provisions bans most assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines.

The act also requires ammunition dealers to conduct background checks.

Earlier this year, new measures were introduced, including a ban on bump stocks — which can allow faster shots — and a longer mandatory waiting period to conduct background checks for some firearm sales.

The Giffords Law Center, which ranks states according to the strength of its gun laws, puts New York state at six out of 50.

According to the research center, 54 percent of the state’s gun deaths are the result of suicide, also noting that gun violence there has a disproportionate impact on urban communities of color.

Black men make up just nine percent of the state’s population, the law center said, but account for nearly 64 percent of the state’s gun homicide victims.

AFP

Buhari Returns To Abuja After Attending UNGA In New York

President Muhammadu Buhari returns to Abuja

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to Abuja, the nation’s capital after participating at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

The presidential aircraft carrying the president, his aides and some members of his entourage landed at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, on Saturday morning.

President Buhari departed via the JFK Airport en-route to Nigeria at about 11 am local time.

READ ALSO: UNGA: Buhari Departs New York For Abuja

The president, who left Abuja on Sept. 22 for New York, participated actively in the main and high side events of the UNGA74.

At the Summit, President Buhari used the opportunity to articulate the priorities of the Nigerian government to the world.

He also participated in high-level side events on Water and Sanitation as well as ‘SDG Integration – Bridging the Policy Planning – Budgeting Gap for the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.’

Before his departure to New York, the President met with a delegation of Nigerian Youth Climate Activists in New York, led by the Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor.