Nation & World News

NBA Player Flouts A Critic’s Guarantee That He Would Be Arrested

By Bill Chappell on January 30th, 2015 | Last updated: January 30, 2015 at 5:03 pm

Today is a great day to be DeMarcus Cousins. Not only did he get to serve a chilly dish of revenge to a sportswriter who dismissed him in 2010; he was also chosen for the NBA’s All-Star Game.

This morning, Cousins posted a photo of a 2010 tweet by writer Clay Travis, who wrote, “There is a 100% chance that DeMarcus Cousins is arrested for something in the next five years.”

Five years later, Cousins, who now plays for the Sacramento Kings, wrote, “Today’s the day!! Let’s all show him some love!!”

In response, Travis, a writer who also appears on Fox Sports, wrote, “Incredibly funny and well played.”

Back in 2010, Cousins was a 19-year-old freshman on a talented University of Kentucky team that included guard John Wall. Cousins was an imposing 6-foot-11-inch center whose temperament was struggling to catch up to his physical gifts.

Now more than ever, that struggle seems over: Friday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver named Cousins a Western Conference All-Star as a replacement for the injured Kobe Bryant.

Travis’ prediction came in the same month that Cousins earned a technical foul in the first minute of Kentucky’s game against rival Louisville for throwing an elbow during a scramble for a loose ball.

Cousins had 18 points and 18 rebounds in that game. But his stats were overshadowed by the technical and by the impression that he had problems dealing with authority.

Even back then, there were signs Cousins had a long memory to go with his talents. As his coach at Kentucky, John Calipari, told ESPN in 2010, “If you pass him in the draft, he will never forget.”

Another defender of Cousins back then was former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr., who told ESPN he would be “happy as hell” to have Cousins play for him in the NBA.

“I think that you can calm down a fool before you can resurrect a corpse,” Thomspon said.

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WATCH: Forget Crop Circles, This Farmer Is Making Art With His Cows

By Eyder Peralta on January 30th, 2015 | Last updated: January 30, 2015 at 4:03 pm

We’ll get back to the news in no time, but first, a bit of mischief from a farmer in Kansas.

Derek Klingenberg flew a drone, armed with a camera, over a field on his farm. He then dropped feed in strategic places. He uploaded the result to YouTube, this week. And it’s pretty cool.

You just have to watch:

As Klingenberg concludes, “We have happy cows in Kansas.”

Klingenberg, by the way, has been in the news before. The Kansas City Star wrote about him back in 2014, when he went viral by serenading his cows with a trombone rendition of Lorde’s Royals.

About his Internet fame, he told the paper: “It’s weird. Millions of people all over the world watch my stuff, but I haven’t left the farm. I’m just reading about it on my phone.”

We’ll leave you with another Internet classic — and a long-time favorite of this blogger — in which a jazz band plays When The Saints Go Marching In for a herd of mesmerized cows:

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Kerry Fined $50 For Not Shoveling Sidewalk Outside Boston Home

By Krishnadev Calamur on January 30th, 2015 | Last updated: January 30, 2015 at 6:04 pm

Secretary of State John Kerry was in Saudi Arabia this week with President Obama meeting that country’s new king. So, when the massive snowstorm hit the Northeast this week, the sidewalk outside his Boston home wasn’t cleared. The city, as The Boston Globe puts it, took notice.

Kerry was fined $50 on Thursday for failing to clear the sidewalk outside the Beacon Hill mansion.

The newspaper adds: “Kerry, who was en route to Boston after an overseas trip, was not in town when a massive blizzard struck New England, nor was he here for the messy cleanup at his Louisburg Square property.”

Kerry’s spokesman Glen Johnson said the secretary would pay the fine. “Diplomats — they’re just like us,” he told the newspaper.

The snow outside Kerry’s home was cleared Thursday morning, Johnson said.

Boston has aggressively targeted those people, departments and agencies that didn’t clear snow from their properties. Also fined, according to The Globe, were the Boston Public Library, several Boston public schools and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

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Jeremy The Koala, Rescued From Australian Brush Fire, Goes Home

By Scott Neuman on January 30th, 2015 | Last updated: January 30, 2015 at 5:03 pm

Jeremy the koala — who became a social-media sensation after a photo went viral showing him recuperating from injuries sustained in an Australian wildfire — is being released back into the wild.

The three-year-old male koala, nicknamed after his rescuer, was removed from the Adelaide Hills in South Australia after a massive brush fire swept through the area. His paws had been burned and he was badly in need of treatment.

Jeremy Sparrow, the Paracombe County Fire Service volunteer firefighter who rescued the koala, is quoted by Adelaide’s Channel 7 news as saying the animal “was sitting there, just looking at me and needed some help.”

Sparrow said the koala protested a bit when he was wrapped in a towel and brought back to the unit’s fire truck.

“I think he knew that help was on the way,” Sparrow was quoted by the Australian station as saying.

Channel 7 reports that the koala’s paws were soaked, treated and bandaged for several weeks. He was then placed with the Australian Marine Wildlife Research and Rescue Organization.

The BBC quotes AMWRRO President Aaron Machado as saying Jeremy (the koala, not the firefighter) has made a complete recovery.

“The only thing he has to do now is get used to not having any more room service,” Machado told the BBC.

Jeremy was one of the lucky ones. Sparrow says “There’s been an awful lot of [injured animals] that we have had to put down.”

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Bomb Attack On Shiite Mosque In Pakistan Leaves At Least 55 Dead

By Krishnadev Calamur on January 30th, 2015 | Last updated: January 30, 2015 at 4:03 pm

At least 55 people are dead and dozens injured after a blast ripped through a mosque in southern Pakistan where worshipers had gathered for Friday prayers.

Jundullah, a Sunni militant group with links to the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack on the mosque in Shikarpur, Sindh province.

The Dawn newspaper reported that many victims were trapped in the debris after the mosque’s roof collapsed as a result of the blast. The News newspaper put the toll at 50, and quoted a local police official as saying the bomb had been detonated by a suicide bomber.

The Associated Press adds: “This area of Pakistan has largely been spared the intense attacks and violence seen over the years in the northwestern tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and also the port city of Karachi, indicating the country’s terrorism challenges could be extending into new territory.”

The attack comes a little more than a month after Taliban militants stormed a school in northwest Pakistan and killed at least 150 people – mostly children.

There is a long history of attacks on Shiites in Pakistan, which like much of the Muslim world has a Sunni majority.

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Mitt Romney Won’t Run For President In 2016

By Krishnadev Calamur on January 30th, 2015 | Last updated: January 30, 2015 at 6:04 pm

Updated at 11:58 a.m.

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney isn’t running for president in 2016, he told supporters in a statement.

“After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the Party the opportunity to become our next nominee,” he said in the statement and in a conference call with supporters.

The former Massachusetts governor was the GOP nominee in 2012 but lost to President Obama in the general election. He also ran in 2008 but lost to the eventual nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

NPR’s Tamara Keith tells our Newscast unit that “Romney had been floating trial balloons, giving speeches and talking to donors in recent weeks. He said on the call that he was convinced he could win the nomination again but that stepping aside would be best for the Republican Party and the nation.”

Romney’s decision still leaves a crowded Republican field. Although there have been no other major announcements, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is considering a run, as are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Bush, in a posting on his Facebook page, said while today’s decision was unlikely to have been easy for Romney, “I know that Mitt Romney will never stop advocating for renewing America’s promise through upward mobility, encouraging free enterprise and strengthening our national defense.”

Paul, on Twitter, said that he deeply respects Romney’s service.

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is widely expected to be the party’s nominee. She has not indicated when she will make a decision on running.

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Balloonists Crossing Pacific Set Distance Record

By Scott Neuman on January 30th, 2015 | Last updated: January 30, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Two balloonists have unofficially left a distance record in their wake as they head east over the Pacific Ocean. They lifted off from Japan, and now they’re getting ready for a landing on Saturday somewhere on Mexico’s Baja peninsula.

American Troy Bradley and Russian Leonid Tiukhtyaev, dubbed the “Two Eagles,” surpassed a 5,209-mile distance record for gas balloons on Thursday. The previous record was set in 1981 by Ben Abruzzo, Larry Newman, Ron Clark and Rock Aoki aboard Double Eagle V, which also launched from Japan. (In 1999, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones circumnavigated in a hybrid helium/hot-air balloon, the Breitling Orbiter 3.)

When the record was set, applause erupted at the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum in New Mexico, which is serving as mission control for the flight.

According to the team’s website:

“[Under] the rules established for the Fédèration Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the international air sports federation, an established record must be beaten by at least 1% of the previous distance. At 5:16 PM MST (0016 UTC), Two Eagles passed through the 5,260 mile (8,467 km) mark, besting the distance required to establish a new record.

“We would note that the Two Eagles team has not ‘broken the record.’ That will be determined by the U.S. National Aeronautic Association, followed by the FAI, after a meticulous process of documentation and review that may take several weeks or months.”

The team is also trying to surpass the flight duration record of 137 hours aloft for a helium balloon, set in 1978 by a team crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

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China Cracks Down On University Textbooks Promoting ‘Western Values’

By Scott Neuman on January 30th, 2015 | Last updated: January 30, 2015 at 9:03 pm

China’s education minister has told universities to stop using textbooks that promote Western values, reports NPR’s Frank Langfitt from Shanghai, a move seen as part of a larger ideological crackdown.

At an educational forum, Yuan Guiren said universities should also forbid criticism of China’s leaders and the country’s political system, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Frank says the edict comes as the government disrupts virtual private networks, or VPNs, which help people access foreign websites that China’s Internet cops have already blocked.

He says that earlier this week, an annual Human Rights Watch report criticized China for tightening already limited free speech in the media and on the Internet as well as for jailing rights activists, lawyers and critics.

Also, as the BBC reports, restrictions on academics appear to have tightened in recent months.

“In December, law professor Zhang Xuehong said he was sacked by the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai after refusing to apologise for writing articles criticising the government.

“His dismissal followed the expulsion of outspoken economist and free speech advocate Xia Yeliang from Peking University in October.

“Mr Xia was a signatory to a high-profile document calling for democratic reforms, Charter 08.”

The news agency also noted that prominent Uighur academic Ilham Tohti, who has urged Beijing to open a dialogue with the Uighur minority in Xinjiang province, was jailed for life on charges of separatism last year.

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Songwriter, Poet Rod McKuen Dies At 81

By Doreen McCallister on January 30th, 2015 | Last updated: January 30, 2015 at 9:03 am

The obituary in The Los Angeles Times describes Rod McKuen as “prolific” and that may well be an understatement considering the many compositions he churned out.

McKuen is credited with more than 200 albums and more than 30 collections of poetry.

His work included the Academy Award-nominated song “Jean” from the 1969 film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and McKuen’s music for the animated feature “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” was also nominated for an Oscar.

The Los Angeles Times writes: Among McKuen’s commercial success in the 1960s and ’70s were his reworking of Jacques Brel’s song “Le Moribond” for the English-language version of “Seasons in the Sun,” which was later covered by the Kingston Trio and Terry Jacks. Frank Sinatra recorded an album of McKuen songs in 1969 called “A Man Alone,” which included “Love’s Been Good to Me.”

For as much as McKuen seemed to be loved by the general public, that was not the case with critics.

The New York Times writes: “For a generation of Americans at midcentury and afterward, Mr. McKuen’s poetry formed an enduring, solidly constructed bridge between the Beat generation and New Age sensibilities. Ranging over themes of love and loss, the natural world and spirituality, his work was prized by readers for its gentle accessibility while being condemned by many critics as facile, tepid and aphoristic.”

Rod McKuen died on Thursday in Beverly Hills, Calif., after a lengthy illness. He was 81.

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Arrested For Resisting Arrest — Yes, It’s Possible

By Martin Kaste on January 29th, 2015 | Last updated: January 30, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Earlier this week in a San Francisco courthouse, a deputy public defender named Jami Tillotson challenged police who were trying to take pictures of her client, and the police handcuffed her and took her away. The public defender’s office angrily accused the officer of intimidation, but what caught our attention was the reason for her arrest.

A video of the incident shows the plainclothes policeman telling her, “If you continue with this, I will arrest you for resisting arrest.”

She was detained, and San Francisco police say they’re now investigating her for a possible charge under a state law that includes resisting arrest, as well as obstructing justice.

The case raises the question: How can you be arrested for resisting arrest? Isn’t that like being fired for refusing to be fired?

David L. Carter, a criminology professor and former police officer, says in most cases, it’s an aggravating offense. But when resisting arrest is the only charge, as it is in the San Francisco case, Carter is puzzled.

“I question the legitimacy of that,” Carter says. “You’ve got to have the arrest to have the resisting arrest!”

In New York, criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor Nathaniel Burney believes the plainclothes policeman misspoke. “I think what he meant was ‘obstruction of justice,’ ” he says. “Society has an interest in the police doing their job and catching criminals … and you’re not allowed to stop them from doing their jobs.”

But critics of the police say both of these charges — obstruction of justice and resisting arrest — can be abused by police to justify groundless arrests. Burney says these charges sometimes are invoked by police who are trying to maintain their status as, as he puts it, “Boss Dog.”

“There is this — it’s not necessarily an evil mentality — but it is a mentality that, ‘I am in charge, and you shall not contradict me, you’re going to do what I say, at all costs,’ ” he says. “And if you don’t do what they say, well now all of a sudden you’re a bad person and they’ve got to arrest you for that.”

In private, police worry about maintaining their authority, because they believe it’s dangerous to be seen letting people defy them. That may be what happened last summer in Seattle, when an elderly man refused to comply with a police officer’s command to drop a golf club. She said he waved it at her menacingly; he said he was using it as a walking stick. Once he dug in and refused her order, she felt compelled to arrest him. But when the dash-cam video of the encounter came out this week, the department apologized.

Carter, the former officer, agrees that police sometimes feel they have to arrest someone to “save face.” But he says some unjustified arrests also come out of officer fatigue — a breakdown of what he calls “resiliency” toward challenging members of the public, especially in protest situations.

“Resisting arrest” charges may also be a way to lend legitimacy to controversial arrests. In the post-Ferguson protests, people reported cases of police loudly yelling “stop resisting” at people they arrested, even when no resistance was apparent.

Burney isn’t surprised by those accounts. “I have seen plenty of situations where not just police, but anybody will be saying the words that they want people to think is going on.”

But he says there are also situations in which a civilian and an officer simply have different understandings of what’s happening.

“The police officer sees it as resisting,” he says. “You know, ‘You’re not doing what I’m telling you to do right this instant.’ ”

And if a civilian complies slowly, or reluctantly, that difference of opinion can lead to an arrest.

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