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Monthly Archives: October 2017

Fort Bragg, North Carolina (CNN)Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl teared up at his sentencing on Monday as he apologized to service members who searched for him after he deserted his outpost in Afghanistan in 2009.

“My words can’t take away what people have been through,” Bergdahl, 31, told an audience at his court martial that spilled into an overflow room. “I am admitting I made a horrible mistake.”
Bergdahl pleaded guilty October 16 to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. His lengthy testimony began after the presiding judge rejected his attorneys’ request to dismiss the case over President Trump’s criticism of him during his campaign for the White House.
    He was captured by the Taliban hours after he walked off his post. At the sentencing hearing, soldiers who looked for Bergdahl have described the grueling, dangerous conditions they endured. Last week, one former Navy SEAL sobbed on the stand as he described the firefight in which his K-9 partner was killed.
    Bergdahl said when he initially left his post, “I was trying to help and knowing it didn’t breaks my heart,” he said. “It was never my intention for anyone to be hurt.”
    Bergdahl said he made several attempts to escape his captors, each leading to conditions worse than those he tried to escape. During one escape attempt, he fell off a cliff and injured his hip and shoulder so badly it still hurts him, he said. He ate grass until he got sick and spent days looking for water.
    When they found him, Taliban soldiers ripped out his beard and hair and kicked and spat on him. When he returned to captivity, they put him in a cage with his legs and arms shackled. He spent four years in there.

    Physical and emotional torture

    Bergdahl was released in a controversial prisoner swap in May 2014 for five Guantanamo Bay detainees. He faces up to life in prison for his desertion.
    After his apology, he focused his testimony on details of day-to-day life in captivity, describing a squalid cycle of illness, pain and torture.
    He went months without bathing or cleaning, he said. He developed sores on his wrists, ankles and head from his shackles and a blindfold. Temporary relief came from using a razor to cut open his sores to drain, he said. At one point, the Taliban used scissors to cut the dead flesh off his ankles and feet.
    He had diarrhea for most of time, and for the first year in the cage he sat in soiled clothing. His condition improved when his captors started serving him boiled water and his cage was raised so they could put a latrine under it for him to use.
    Worse than the physical pain was the psychological torture, he said. His captors showed him DVDs and videos on their cellphones of executions, he said. They told him they would cut his head off and point AK-47s at his temple.
    “The worst was the constant deterioration of everything, pain from my body falling apart, internal screams from my mind, the darkness and light,” he said. “I was wondering if every time the door opened it would be the person coming to execute you.”

    A father becomes helpless

    His turn on the stand came after testimony from the wife of a soldier who was shot in the head while searching for Bergdahl.
    Shannon Allen, the wife of Master Sgt. Mark Allen, described the impact of the injury on her husband and his family. She was among witnesses for the prosecution who testified to the impact of Bergdahl’s desertion on soldiers sent to find him.
    Allen teared up on the stand as she described her husband’s present condition.
    Before his injury, Allen was a happy-go-lucky involved father who coached children’s sports, his wife said. He loved the military and loved music.
    Since the incident, he’s had about 20 surgeries, she said. He needs scores of medicines, vitamins and supplies and requires nursing care 24 hours a day.
    Bergdahl watched intently as the prosecution played a video of Shannon Allen and a nurse helping her husband get out of bed and maneuver through the home, which is filled with specialty medical equipment.
    As with an infant, Mark Allen cannot be left alone because he might have seizures, she said. He cannot eat or drink by mouth and groans with pain.
    His young daughter, Journey, crawls onto his wheelchair and plays on him because he cannot pick her up or hold her, Shannon Allen said.
    “He is present, makes eye contact,” she said. “He can laugh, smile, cry. That is the extent of the communication.”
    A Veterans Administration doctor testified Monday by telephone about Allen’s condition. His eyes are open but there is no awareness of his environment, Dr. Rafael Mascarinas said. Part of Allen’s brain was removed to relieve pressure — the part that controls thinking, speaking and voluntary movement, Mascarinas said. Allen is between 90% and 100% paralyzed.
    The hearing is expected to resume Tuesday, possibly with more testimony from Bergdahl.

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    Sadly, the writing was on the wall…

    Told to People, Real Housewives of Orange County stars Shannon and David Beador have split after 17 years of marriage.

    The Bravo starlet revealed the news to her costars on Friday while filming the RHOC season 12 reunion.

    Related: Shannon Beador Hospitalized After Blood Gushes Out Of Her Eye!

    The feng shui-enthusiast told the publication she “felt alone” in her marriage, and the two simply couldn’t make it work.

    “It’s heartbreaking for me and my daughters that this is the road that had to be taken but it’s the only way… I felt alone in my marriage. You can do what you can to keep your family together, but you have to have willing parties. You need two people to make a marriage work, and that just wasn’t happening in our relationship.”

    Although painful, Shannon had to make the best decision for her and her daughters: Sophie, 15, and twins Stella and Adeline, 12.

    “As a mother, I want to be a good role model for my daughters… Three years ago I was proud of what I showed them, because I fought for keeping my family together after infidelity. As the last year went by, it’s been extremely difficult and painful to watch the show, because clearly I was in denial about what was going on in my marriage. I was taking things out on other people instead of at home… As a mother you keep thinking about your daughters and you have to say, ‘This is an unhealthy environment.’ Not only is it unhealthy for me, but it’s unhealthy for my girls, too. They deserve a happy and joyful home, and I am providing that for them now.”‘

    As seen on the hit show, the couple hit a rough patch during season 10 when David had an affair.

    Although they renewed their vows in 2016, the OC twosome grew distant. While David spent more time working out, Shannon battled a stress-induced 40-lb. weight gain after costar Vicki Gunvalson made allegations about her husband beating her.

    Despite the drama, both parties want to stay on good terms for the sake of their family.

    “We are doing our best to be amicable for our children… That’s our primary concern, to act in the best interest of our daughters.”

    Overall, Shannon is confident she will overcome any obstacle in her way.

    “I’m a strong person… At this point it’s scary, when you’re 53 years old, to be out there on your own. But I intend to show myself and my daughters that it can be done. I’m ready to get the old Shannon back, that’s for sure.”

    In her own words: when life gives you lemons, put nine in a bowl!

    [Image via FayesVision/WENN.]

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    (CNN)They say timing is everything in golf, and every second will count when a shot clock is introduced at a tournament in Austria next year.

    As part of the European Tour’s battle against slow play, the 2018 Shot Clock Masters will become the first golf tournament in history to set a time limit on every shot.
    The move is an extension of an idea trialed for one hole during the Golf Sixes tournament last May.
      A large, mobile timers gives the first player in a group 50 seconds to take his shot, followed by 40 seconds for any subsequent players.
      A one-shot penalty will be incurred every time the limit is exceeded and a red card shown against the player’s name on the leaderboard.
      Each player can call two “time-outs” during a round, giving them twice the usual time to play a shot.

        Bolt and pancakes: Lexi Thompson’s perfect day

      ‘Embrace innovation’

      “Not only will it help us combat slow play and reduce round times, it is also further evidence of our desire to embrace innovation,” said Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour.
      The timings are in line with the Tour’s usual pace of play policy, which was tightened up in 2016, but this is the first time the clock will be so public and used throughout the 72 holes of a regular event.
      The concept, which will be used for the first time at June’s Shot Clock Masters near Vienna, aims to reduce round times by 45 minutes, meaning a group of three players should complete 18 holes in about four hours, and two-balls in about three hours 15 minutes.
      Pelley, a sports executive and former head of Rogers Media in his native Canada, has been at the forefront of the Tour’s drive to modernize the game of golf since he took up the role in 2015.
      The inaugural GolfSixes event in May featured 16 teams of two, each representing a nation, competing over six holes in a round-robin and then knockout format.
      The event was accompanied by pyrotechnics and music as players took to the tee, with announcers hyping up the atmosphere, and in-round interviews on the final holes of matches.
      The Tour has tried other innovations this year, such as music on driving ranges, and a pre-tournament floodlit golf challenge, televised masterclasses and walk-and-talk interviews during play at the British Masters in October.
      “Faster, different, surprising and dramatic is where golf needs to head,” Pelley told Golf Digest in July.

        Bolt and pancakes: Lexi Thompson’s perfect day

      “The 72-hole stroke-play tournament will always be at the core of any tour. But the future growth of the sport is going to demand some interesting departures. Everything is on the table.”
      The 2018 Shot Clock Masters is set to take place at Diamond Country Club from June 7-10.

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      This is SO moving.

      On Friday night at the Hollywood Bowl in El Lay, Linkin Park performed for the first time since Chester Bennington‘s suicide in July, and they made sure he was front and center in their minds and hearts during the powerful, emotional evening.

      Mike Shinoda performed Looking for an Answer, which you can watch (above), during the concert and left barely a dry eye in the house as the group honored Bennington’s memory.

      Other artists were in the building, too — including Blink-182, Machine Gun Kelly, System of a Down, and No Doubt — but Shinoda and Linkin Park stole the show with their powerful tribute and lasting legacy.

      The night was all set up in Chester’s honor, with performers donating their fees to Music For Relief‘s One More Light fund, which had initially been set up as a charity in Chester’s honor.

      Powerful stuff.

      Here’s more from Linkin Park, posted not long before their show last night (below):

      A post shared by LINKIN PARK (@linkinpark) on Oct 27, 2017 at 1:03pm PDT

      So, so emotional and powerful.

      Related: Chester’s 15-Year-Old Son Released THREE Videos For National Suicide Prevention Week

      Well done all around by Linkin Park — meaningful, and authentic, and real.

      R.I.P., Chester — you are very much missed by friends, family, fans, and loved ones.

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      The celeb, who recently became engaged to MigosOffset, confessed what it’s been like to get ready for her debut album:

      “I got six, seven solid songs that I like, but I wonder if a month from now, I’m going to change my mind. It’s not as fun to do music, my mind doesn’t flow as free ’cause I have so much on my mind. It’s so sad to say, and I don’t want to be the one to say it, but you gotta follow the trend. This generation loves to get high. They love to be on drugs. This is why they on that shit: They don’t want to think about what you’re saying.”

      And she admitted she can’t get failure off her mind:

      “If you go broke and lose your career, it’s bad – and everybody is talkin’ shit about it! At least if you lose your 9-to-5 you don’t got millions of people judging you and talking shit while you lost your job.”

      Cardi also revealed she has worries past just success, wondering if the fame is changing her:

      “I used to tell myself that I will always be myself. Little by little, I’m feeling like I’m getting trapped and muted.”

      As she continued though, there’s no going back for the Bronx native:

      “I cannot turn my life back around. I’m already a public figure, I’m famous. … It’s like, I might as well keep it going, might as well make the money. People are always going to talk shit – I cannot make myself unfamous.”

      Read on for more HIGHlights from the 25-year-old rapper (below)!

      Seemingly touching on her feud with Azealia Banks: “It’s not even the female rappers that are catty, it’s the fans. They just want that beef.”

      On her future: “I need to make money for my family and my future family. I’m not a YOLO person. I think 25 years from now. I think about my future kids, future husband, future house.”

      On why she dropped out of college to become a stripper: “A lot of people wonder, ‘Why would anybody want to be a dancer?’ Because there’s money! I kept missing classes, and quit because I felt like I was already failing. It was such a disappointment.”

      On not getting to be with her then boyfriend Offset on her birthday: “I was sad, because it’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m not getting no dick on my birthday. But I wasn’t going to get dick on my birthday anyway, because I got my period.”


      Now, go and ch-ch-check out her seXXXy cover (below)!

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      Halloween is like, here, and you’ve procrastinated your costume, your plans, and undoubtedly your playlist. While we can’t really tell you what to wear or what to do (if you didn’t grab a Shop Betches costume while you had the chance, you’re SOL, but we tried), we can help you on the playlist front. We asked singer-songwriter on the rise Nick Hissom to do the hard work of creating a Halloween playlist everyone at your party/pregame will love, and he came through. Wait, who’s Nick Hissom? He’s a 25-year-old British singer-songwriter who just dropped his first single, “He Ain’t Better,” which has already racked up over a million streams on Spotify. He’s got an album on the way, which, spoiler, has features with the likes of Bryson Tiller and Rick Ross. 2017 might not be anyone’s year but Nick’s. (Maybe 2018 will pan out for us.) We also sat down with Nick to talk about his music, his former fuckboyish ways, his partying, and more. Check out the interview and playlist below, and listen to “He Ain’t Better” on Spotify.

      How did you get into music?

      I started writing songs from my college dorm room, which is a pretty common starting place for a lot of artists. I sent them out to some DJs that I knew, who invited me to collab on a song, and from there started working with producers. [I] started making songs, and sending them to people all over the place—flying back and forth to LA, Miami. And several years later, here we are.

      Who are some of your favorite up-and-coming artists?

      I really like Samantha Harvey; she’s from the UK. I wouldn’t say that Conor Maynard is up-and-coming anymore, he’s more of an established star, but I still think he’s really cool and very talented, and doesn’t get as much cred as he deserves. I also like Stanaj; he’s new. Met him in the parking lot at the VMAs. We were both wrecked haha.


      How did you link up with Rick Ross, Bryson Tiller, etc? What was it like to work with them?

      The whole thing with Rick Ross and Bryson Tiller came about through Miami. I knew a bunch of the writers that worked with Bryson on his first album, and they connected us. Then with Rick Ross, he had done a track with Scott Storch, who’s a friend of mine through my manager, Derek Jackson. We all spoke and they let me cut it, [saying], “Let’s see what it sounds like,” and uh, yeah, it was awesome! I can’t wait for everyone to hear it!

      How would you describe your sound? What do you think sets you apart from other artists?

      I would describe my sound as R&B or rhythmic pop. I think what sets it apart from other artists’ [sounds] is that it’s a lot to do with my vocal tone and the swag. That’s really my signature, because that’s me. I also collab and work with a lot of hip hop producers and artists, so there’s a bit of that too. I’m a mix of everything that’s edgy, urban, but still danceable and fun.

      What do you like doing when you’re not making music?

      When I’m not making music, um.. I party. Honestly, making music is so stressful that when I’m not making music, I wanna go crazy, go to Vegas, New York… Any city I’m in just as long as I’m with good people. I also like to vacation and chill out too, but normally I don’t have enough time off to go anywhere too far from where I’m at, so I just hit the club or my bed—either one.

      What’s your biggest pet peeve?

      When people leave doors open, or clothes on the floor. I have so much OCD. You know, I live with all my friends a lot of the time, so the worst thing is when I’m going to bed, and people are partying in my bedroom, and someone’s leaving, and they forget to shut the door!! I spend all night walking around my house shutting doors and stuff, before I can go to sleep. I’m weird; it drives me crazy

      What’s your most overused emoji?

      Probably the praying hands because I say thank you a lot. The heart is pretty overused as well, and the platinum record emoji, because that’s the dream. You gotta stay motivated, gotta stay music. I use the smiley face a lot, too. I’m a pretty chill guy. I try to send good vibes to people. Or memes. Whatever.

      What’s the biggest fuckboy maneuver you’ve ever pulled (and do you feel bad about it now)? 

      Mmm, I was 18. I was pretty out of control. I took this one girl as my date to a big weekend party in Paris, very formal, and ended up leaving with a different one…I definitely felt a little guilty. May have had a girlfriend too while this was happening…not good, I apologize. Now I care a lot more. I’m more considerate. If I care, I care a lot. I’m great, when I care. “He Ain’t Better”, you know, haha. 

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      The US president is reportedly worth $2bn to the social networking service. So is that why hes able to continually breach its terms of service with impunity?

      Imagine, for a moment, that the tweeting president fell silent. That the wings were clipped. Imagine that threats of nuclear war were no longer casually tossed off from a roguethumb.

      Trump sent 1,002 tweets in his first six months in office (perhaps slightly more times than hes played golf, but not by much). Thats in addition to the 8,144 tweets he sent during his campaign. Obama was known as the Facebook President and Trump has become the first Twitter President. But while Obamas e-lection was down to his social media as a campaigning and grassroots funding tool, helped along by Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder, Trumps attachment to Twitter is much more personal. After all, despite Facebooks role in Obamas victory, he didnt have his own Facebook page until 2015.

      Trump occasionally uses Twitter in a constructive way (to announce policies), but more often he tweets like a petty, pugilistic teen or a troll. Twitter, of course, is notorious for not dealing with abuse well. Its why former CEO Dick Costolo told employees he was frankly ashamed at how the company sucked at dealing with abuse. Its why companies such as Disney backed away from a buyout. Its partly why a select committee addressed the issue in the UK and Yvette Cooper set up the Reclaim the Internet campaign. Its why users have often staged protests or left altogether (hi, Ed Sheeran). The company is on the defensive, with co-founder Biz Stone tweeting: Yall pile on us. You really think the issue doesnt weigh on us? And youre so dismissive of the Trust and Safety team. Were all people.

      The platforms terms of service reference a wide variety of offences, but these are applied haphazardly. For a company obsessed with doing better at transparency, seemingly releasing a statement to this effect each month, its decisions are nearly always opaque. Inquiries usually elicit the standard response that the company does not comment on individual cases.

      Frequently, instances of misogynistic, racist, antisemitic abuse are kept online, even after these blatant breaches of terms of service have been reported. High-profile individuals with track records of abusive use have been suspended or banned only after sustained pressure (for instance, rightwing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos after his sustained hate campaign against the actor Leslie Jones; rapper Azealia Banks, who spouted racist venom at pop singer Zayn Malik).

      It is clear that Trump breaks a number of terms as defined in the small print: abusive tweets (including other users handles); threatening tweets; retweeting antisemitic memes. But its a pie-in-the-sky idea that Trump would ever be banned, right? The explanation Twitter gives for not banning him is that his tweets fall under newsworthiness, a defence that wasnt afforded actor Rose McGowan, who was suspended for doxing the practice of broadcasting private information while leading a worldwide conversation on sexual abuse. The Weinstein story, of course, is the biggest of the past month wouldnt removing the tweet have been sufficient? Twitter wants it both ways: to be viewed as a tech company and not a media company, but maintaining that newsworthiness is a core part of its service. If that is the case, then it should be taking proper editorial decisions and adopting the responsibilities ofapublisher.

      What if Twitter did the brave, unthinkable thing: took a stand and banned Trump? Impossible? Well, Silicon Valley has opposed the mogul in other ways. A trio of Facebook, Google and Microsoft CEOs all criticised Trumps decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. Intel, Under Armour, Uber and SpaceX representatives (including Elon Musk) stood down from Trumps tech council. In fact, so many company representatives left from Trumps economic advisory council that he had to disband it. But the problem for Twitter, without stating the obvious, is that Trump is the most powerful man in the world pissing him off probably isnt a great idea. But theres a second reason Twitter might need Trump. The president has helped increase engagement on the platform and added value to the brand.

      Yet Trump hasnt done much to increase the number of users (people dont need to sign up to Twitter when media outlets report his every tweet). Hes has added just 2 million daily active users to Twitter (though 72 million to Facebook), and even that effect has levelled off. But Forbes still estimates that he is worth around $2bn to the company, precisely because news outlets pick up his tweets and increase brand-name recognition. But might it be the case that in taking such a monumental stand to ban him, the entire world would reward the company?

      On the one hand, I cant imagine better PR, but thats from the perspective of a liberal journalist. Twitter presumably has one eye on its growing rightwing base (though not when it comes to ignoring neo-Nazi invective). Despite the fact that, as a private company, Twitter is under no obligation to protect Trumps first amendment rights, one can imagine the alt-right uproar. But detoxifying the platform is clearly something that users want to happen (unlike the unwanted changes Twitter pushes on us all the time), and would have the added benefit of appealing to advertisers put off by its toxic reputation. Suppose it did happen, what would Trump do? Finally get his press conferences in order? Spend more time on Instagram and sending snaps (his digital operation uses both platforms, headed up by digital director Brad Parscale)? Would Jared Kushner call in Silicon Valley favours from his tech bro pals who helped teach him how to harness social media most effectively? Would the billionaire Mercers behind Cambridge Analytica set up an entirely new platform? Trumps probably not going to set up a Tumblr account and fill it with pictures of cats in Make America Great Again caps. Or would he just start endlessly texting Fox News reporters to get his message out there? One wags solution was for Twitter to not ban but just mute Trump, so he tweeted forever into an abyss, and the rest of us could live in peace.

      Of course, the idea that one of the biggest companies in the world would ban one of the most important people in the world is unprecedented. But so much of what Trump does and how he behaves is unprecedented. We are living in bizarre times indeed. Thats why it is not hyperbole to write that in banning Trump, Twitter would be changing the world. And isnt that what tech is supposed to be all aboutdisruption?

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      Image copyright North Wales Police | BBC

      A 16-year-old boy has died after taking a suspected drugs overdose at a Halloween rave in Conwy county.

      The death has led North Wales Police to urge anyone who took drugs at the event at Gwytherin, near Llanrwst, to go to hospital if they feel unwell.

      The focus is on pink ecstasy-type tablets with a Rolls Royce-type logo on one side and ‘200mg’ on the other.

      Organisers of the event where the teenager fell ill said they were “devastated by the tragic news”.

      The boy fell ill during the early hours of Sunday and died at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire.

      Supt Gareth Evans said: “This is a truly tragic incident in which a young boy has lost his life.”

      Police said ambulance crews notified them at 01:11 GMT on Sunday that the un-named teenager had fallen ill at the music event, called HP Fest: Halloween Edition.

      “The investigation is at an early stage, but I would urge anyone with information which could assist us to come forward,” added Supt Evans.

      Posting on the event’s Facebook site on Sunday, organisers said: “We are devastated by the tragic news today.

      “Our thoughts and condolences are with the boy’s family and friends at this time.

      “We are supporting the police in the ongoing investigation. We urge anyone with any information to do the same.”

      Related Topics

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      The former president will complete his civic duty in Chicago, court officials say, and hes not the only high-profile individual to have done so recently

      Barack Obama has been called for jury duty and the former US president plans to show up, according to court officials.

      The chief judge of Cook County, Illinois, announced at a budget hearing on Friday that Obama would be completing his civic duty next month, the Chicago Tribune reported.

      Chief judge Tim Evans told the newspaper that the courts would make adjustments to accommodate Obamas security detail. He said: Obviously we will make certain that he has all the accouterments that accompany a former president. His safety will be uppermost in our minds.

      Evans continued: He made it crystal-clear to me through his representative that he would carry out his public duty as a citizen and resident of this community.

      This is not the first time that Obama has been called for jury duty in recent years. In 2010, he received a summons for jury duty in Cook County, where he owns a home, just as he was preparing for his first state of the union address. Obama, who has a law degree from Harvard, did not serve on that jury.

      Although its not a place where the public can earn a lot of money, it is highly appreciated, Evans also told the Tribune on Friday. Its crucial that our society get the benefit of that kind of commitment.

      Obama has not yet commented on his jury duty.

      Former president George W Bush reported for jury duty in Dallas, Texas in 2015. John Kerry also showed up for jury duty in 2005 and was selected to sit on the jury and serve as the foreman.

      Singer Taylor Swift made headlines when she missed the VMAs to attend jury duty. A judge, however, dismissed her as a potential juror in an aggravated rape and kidnapping case. Oprah Winfrey also showed up for jury duty in Cook County in 2004.

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