Longshot Leicester City Win English Premiere League Title

Leicester City players who had gathered at Jamie Vardy's house to watch title rivals Tottenham, play Chelsea, celebrate after clinching the trophy.

Leicester City players who had gathered at Jamie Vardy’s house to watch title rivals Tottenham, play Chelsea, celebrate after clinching the trophy. Plumb Images/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Plumb Images/Getty Images

In what’s being hailed as a “miracle” and the “best story in sports,” Leicester City, a small club from central England that started the season at 5000-1 odds of winning the prestigious title, have clinched the trophy.

On Monday, with two games still left in the season, the league-leading Foxes secured their place in history when second place Tottenham failed to beat Chelsea.

It’s the first top-tier title for Leicester in the club’s 132-year history. The club is only the sixth since 1992 to win the title. The team had only a fraction of the money commanded by top clubs and their leading scorer Jamie Vardy was playing in England’s lower divisions while working at a factory. Having spent most of last season languishing near the bottom of the league rankings, their meteoric rise to the top is breathtaking.

Leicester had the chance to secure the title on Sunday with a win over Manchester United. But they played to a disappointing 1-1 draw, leaving the door open for second-place Tottenham in the title race.

For the beginning of Monday’s game, it looked as if Leicester’s fairy-tale ending had been delayed again.

Tottenham took a 2-0 lead in the first half thanks to goals from the league’s top-scorer, Harry Kane, and midfielder Son Heung-Min. But Chelsea defender Gary Cahill managed to slot home a goal in the 58th minute and Eden Hazard tied the game with a rocket to the upper-right corner in the 83rd.

The game was physical and emotions ran high as scuffles flared repeatedly on the pitch. A total of 12 yellow cards were handed out, nine of which went to Tottenham. The Hotspurs had a few promising chances near the end of the game, but Chelsea held on, sealing the deal for Leicester.

The crowd at Chelsea’s home field, Stamford Bridge, chanted “Leicester, Leicester,” as the final whistle drew near.

Leicester’s manager Claudio Ranieri made headlines when he said he may not be watching the crucial game because he would be having lunch with his 96-year-old mother. The Leicester players, though, watched at Vardy’s house. Here’s the video of the moment they won the trophy, tweeted by Leicester defender, Christian Fuchs.

CHAMPIONS!!!! pic.twitter.com/pFtvo5XUNx

— Christian Fuchs (@FuchsOfficial) May 2, 2016

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Trade Opponents Leak Documents They Say Show Corporate Influence

One of the economic legacies President Obama hopes to leave behind is an expansion of U.S. exports.

To do that, he wants to complete one trade deal with European countries, and another with Pacific Rim nations.

But well into his final year in office, Obama is facing stiff headwinds on trade.

The European deal, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, made news on Monday…but probably not the way the White House would have preferred.

Greenpeace Netherlands, an environmental group, leaked 248 pages of classified documents involving TTIP, the far-reaching deal involving the U.S. and European Union. The documents date from before trade negotiators met again last week in New York.

Consumer and environmental groups on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean have expressed concerns that U.S. corporations may be pushing Europeans to lower their various protections. They say the leaked papers support that view.

“We’ve done this to ignite a debate,” Greenpeace trade expert Juergen Knirsch said at a news conference in Berlin. TTIP opponents want negotiations to end.

But the European Commission said the documents merely reflect negotiating positions in talks that have been going on for three years.

The EU’s top negotiator, Ignacio Garcia-Bercero, said at a press conference that “some points that Greenpeace is making in these documents are flatly wrong.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters the leaks will not have a “material impact” on the talks. “Our focus is on trying to complete these negotiations by the end of the year,” he said.

Typically, trade negotiators work behind closed doors as they sort out positions. Even though details have not been officially released, it’s known that TTIP would deal with many contentious issues such as genetically modified foods, poultry safety, auto exports and more.

In April, a survey by the Bertelsmann Foundation showed support for TTIP was declining in both Germany and the United States.

Obama’s other deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has been negotiated, but not yet approved by Congress and the approval process appears stalled for now. No vote is scheduled for the deal, and many congressional observers predict any action will have to wait until after the November election. Trade has become a hot-button issue with many voters this election cycle.

To drum up support for TPP, Obama released an essay Monday afternoon in The Washington Post, saying the partnership would strength the U.S. economy:

“TPP brings together 12 countries representing nearly 40 percent of the global economy to make sure that private firms have a fair shot at competing against state-owned enterprises. My administration is working closely with leaders in Congress to secure bipartisan approval for our trade agreement.”

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2015 Saw A Decrease In Religious Freedom Around The World, Says Annual Report

The global refugee crisis, political strife, and economic dislocation all contributed to a worldwide deterioration of religious freedom in 2015 and an increase in “societal intolerance,” according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

“At best, in most of the countries we cover, religious freedom conditions have failed to improve,” says Princeton Professor Robert George, the USCIRF chairman. “At worst, they’ve spiraled downward.”

In its annual report, the Commission identified 17 countries as “Tier One” concerns, meaning they have “particularly severe religious violations of religious freedom that are systematic, ongoing, and egregious.” That category includes Burma, where Rohingya Muslims are denied voting rights and access to health care; Tajikistan, where the government suppresses all religious activity not under its direct control; and Nigeria, where the Commission concluded that the government has “no effective strategies to stem the violence” carried out by Boko Haram, the Muslim extremist group.

Among the countries where religious freedom conditions grew significantly worse in 2015 were Iran, where the number of “prisoners of conscience” has grown since President Hassan Rouhani took office. The Commission also singled out India, a key U.S. ally, where the ruling Hindu nationalist party known as the BJP completed its first full year in office under Prime Minister Narenda Modi since winning national elections in 2014. In the months since, Muslim and Christian groups have reported growing harassment and a growing number of attacks, attributed to Hindu nationalist groups.

“The national government has failed to address these problems,” George says, “and at times seems to have contributed to them.”

The Commission, set up by Congress as an independent body under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, is instructed to identify “Countries of Particular Concern,” (CPC) but it is up to the State Department to make that official designation. The U.S. government is then obligated to take action with those countries, possibly including sanctions, to encourage improvements. In its 2015 report, the Commission identifies seven countries as deserving of CPC designation but not yet so categorized. Among them are Egypt, Iraq, and Pakistan, all three of which have close security ties with the U.S.

The Commission is prohibited by law from assessing conditions in the United States, but its report does have some implications for the U.S. political debate. The Commission report, for example, calls on the United States to commit to the resettlement of 100,000 Syrian refugees, subject to “proper vetting,” and it carefully differentiates between different forms of Islam, at a time when some U.S. politicians have spoken critically of the religion as a whole.

“We do not believe that the problem is Islam itself,” says George.

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In Memphis, A Divide Over How To Remember A Massacre — 150 Years Later

The sign, a private marker placed by the NAACP, and approved by the National Park Service, as it now stands in Army Park.

The sign, a private marker placed by the NAACP, and approved by the National Park Service, as it now stands in Army Park. Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM hide caption

toggle caption Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

A somber procession began on Sunday in the courtyard of the former Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed in 1968. Everyone in Memphis knows about that piece of history, but until recently, folks were unaware of a tragedy that happened in the same part of town a hundred years earlier.

On May 1, 1866, Memphis was home to a massacre that left dozens of black folks dead and countless others injured. This week in Memphis, the city is remembering that grim chapter in its history — a 150-year-old atrocity that shocked the nation and was nearly forgotten.

Stephen V. Ash is a history professor at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the author of A Massacre in Memphis: The Race Riot That Shook The Nation One Year After The Civil War. He says newspapers of the era labeled what happened in Memphis a “race riot,” mostly on the basis that it began as a fight between black Union soldiers and some Irish police officers.

Near this now vacant lot on the corner of B.B. King and G.E. Patterson, a group of black Union soldiers had an altercation with several Irish police officers in 1866.

Near this now vacant lot on the corner of B.B. King and G.E. Patterson, a group of black Union soldiers had an altercation with several Irish police officers in 1866. Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM hide caption

toggle caption Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

“The rumor among the whites was that this was a full scale black uprising in South Memphis,” Ash says, “and so white mobs began forming, marched into south Memphis and began indiscriminately shooting black men, women and children.” This went on for 36 hours.

In the end, Ash says that 46 black people were dead, many others were beaten or raped, and black churches, schools and homes were burned to the ground. The mob attack wound up helping to shape the course of Reconstruction-era politics and speed the passage of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment — guaranteeing citizenship to recently-freed slaves.

Phyllis Aluko is a Memphis-based attorney. She read Ash’s book and couldn’t believe she’d never heard about the incident, so she started the process of creating a historical marker to commemorate what had happened. First, she got the local chapter of the NAACP involved. They agreed to sponsor and pay for the marker. Then, Aluko submitted an application to the Tennessee Historical Commission, an organization whose mission includes marking “important locations, persons, and events in Tennessee history.” What came next was a months-long debate over what to name the violence.

The Commission wanted the words “Race Riot” at the top of the sign. But that phrase has troubling connotations for Beverly Bond, a historian at the University of Memphis.

Memphis law enforcement looks on as Rev. Keith Norman (left), president of the Memphis branch of the NAACP, shakes hands with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland in front of the new historical marker.

Memphis law enforcement looks on as Rev. Keith Norman (left), president of the Memphis branch of the NAACP, shakes hands with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland in front of the new historical marker. Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM hide caption

toggle caption Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

“Naming is very important. If your name is John and I insist on calling you Johnny, it’s really a power relationship,” Bond says. “Most people tend to think in a 20th Century frame of reference that [race riot] must be African-Americans who are rioting and destroying their community.”

In an e-mail to the NAACP, one commissioner said that the term “race riot” would “stand the test of time.”

Not necessarily, says Beverly Robertson. When she was director of the National Civil Rights Museum, she found that it wasn’t just the exhibits that needed routine maintenance, but the language and scholarship of history itself. Robertson is one of three African-Americans on the 24-member Tennessee Historical Commission. The words “race riot” didn’t sit well with her either, but she and others were outvoted. So when the commission finally insisted that those words appear on the sign, Robertson told the NAACP to pull the plug.

“If we don’t tell it right, then generations to come will not understand what literally did happen,” Robertson says. So instead, with the city’s blessing — and not the state’s — the NAACP put up a private marker that summarized what unfolded on the day of the massacre.

Bryan Stevenson, founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., says there’s a growing choir of voices demanding a reconsidered history of the former Confederacy, starting with public monuments. Stevenson believes the South should remember the story of slavery and its aftermath in the way Germany now marks the Holocaust.

“Until we change the landscape with these markers and these images with a new iconography, we’re going to be living in a space that is compromised by the absence of truth,” he says.

At the end of Sunday’s procession, civic leaders, pastors, police officers and historians took pictures with one of the country’s first memorials to a Reconstruction-era event. A simple historic marker, which states, in no uncertain terms, that the African-Americans killed there in 1866 died not in a riot, but in a massacre.

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At Food World 'Oscars,' Category Sneakily Redefines All-American Cuisine

A platter of falafel, kafta, french fries and other fare at Al Ameer Restaurant in Dearborn, Mich. The Mediterranean eatery will be recognized by the James Beard Awards this year in the "American Classics" category.

A platter of falafel, kafta, french fries and other fare at Al Ameer Restaurant in Dearborn, Mich. The Mediterranean eatery will be recognized by the James Beard Awards this year in the “American Classics” category. Edsel Little/Flickr hide caption

toggle caption Edsel Little/Flickr

The food glitterati will gather in Chicago Monday night for the black-tie James Beard Chef and Restaurant Awards, known as the “Oscars of the food world.” Most of the categories sound like industry fare: Outstanding Restaurant Design. Best Chef: Great Lakes. Best New Restaurant. Rising Star Chef of the Year. There’s not much of interest for anyone outside the foodies and food world orbit. Except, that is, for a sneakily subversive category: America’s Classics.

Each year, the JBF restaurant committee selects a handful of eateries from around the country for a range of criteria that have little to do with haute cuisine. When the category began in 1998, the eateries honored were usually humble and predictably American fare: Stroud’s, a fried chicken eatery in Kansas City; the Second Avenue Deli in New York City; Durgin Park, a seafood-and-sandwich eatery in Boston’s Faneuil Hall; and Joe T. Garcia’s, a Tex-Mex place in Fort Worth, were among the first year’s honorees.

To be considered for the award, restaurants must have been in business for a decade, be locally owned, show “timeless appeal,” and serve “quality food that reflects the character of the community,” says John T. Edge, who helps oversee the category for the James Beard Foundation Awards Restaurant Committee.

And while early awards set a price limit for awardees, in an effort to screen out high-end eateries, that has since been lifted. Undergirding it all, says Edge, is the idea that truly “classic” restaurants offer for communities what a shared nightly meal offers families: a way to connect.

When the award began, “it was, in large part, a way to honor a kind of Americana that was grounded in 20th century ideas about what American food culture is,” says Edge. Witness the list above: the intersection of Germanic and Southern at Stroud’s, a Jewish delicatessen, Northeastern seafood, and an American variant of Mexican food. Although the foods served at each were considered foreign when they were first introduced to Americans, they’ve long since been considered core parts of an American cuisine.

But in more recent years, since the late 2000s, the category has slowly begun to expand its “Classics” label to include less-traditionally American cuisines, incorporating the food of immigrants whose culture hasn’t exactly been dissolved in the melting pot.

In the category’s 18-year history, during which 102 restaurants have been deemed “American Classics,” only seven have served food that was not European or regional American in origin, and most of those were added in the last years.

The first outlier to be added was Yuca’s, a Los Angeles taco shack recognized in 2005. Japanese food acquired the classic designation in 2008, via Maneki’s in Seattle, and Chinese entered the list in 2009, with Yank Sing in San Francisco. In 2012, Phoenix, Arizona’s Fry Bread House added Native American food to the list, and 2013 saw Frank Fat’s, a Chinese place in Sacramento. Last year’s list added the Oaxacan restaurant Gualaguetza; and this year’s is adding Al Ameer, a Lebanese eatery in Dearborn, Mich.

And that has everything to do with the changing face of America. The category “[is] the tip of the iceberg of what is getting normalized as ‘American,’ ” says Krishnendu Ray, whose recent The Ethnic Restaurateur has helped spur a debate over culinary appropriation. “There is a sense that you cannot make a list anymore of this kind that is only referencing Germanic, Southern and seafood-steak places.”

And, says Ray, the nature of a list like this is to be conservative. In reality, Americans across the country have been eating outside of traditionally American cuisines for a long time.

“The awards have a burden to be fair, so that they reflect America as it is now,” says Edge. “If you want to define classic American restaurants, that is not some measure defined in some gauzy past, but in this present.”

In the high-glitz world of food awards, the category still has its struggles, of course. After years of being given the same opportunity to make a short speech about their award, as do all winners, this year’s “Classics” will stay silent in their seats. Instead — as in previous years — a short, JBF-produced video about them will be shown.

While the committee chair couldn’t be reached for comment, removing acceptance speeches seems, to some, to be at odds with the award’s nobler goals of putting humble restaurants on par with high-end ones. After all, when Willie Mae Seaton, the iconic chef of New Orleans’ Scotch House, died last year at 99, it was her 2005 acceptance speech for an America’s Classics award that made it into her obituary.

Tracie McMillan is the author of The American Way of Eating, a New York Timesbest-seller, and a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. You can follow her on Twitter @tmmcmillan.

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Should The U.S. Reconsider Its Stand On Foreign Aid For Abortion Clinics?

Countries in Latin America have a range of laws regarding abortion, from completely prohibited to no restrictions. Above: Women in Brazil (at left) demonstrate for abortion rights; a woman in a march in Paraguay (at right) holds a poster reading "If Abortion is Not Wrong, Then Nothing Is Wrong."

Countries in Latin America have a range of laws regarding abortion, from completely prohibited to no restrictions. Above: Women in Brazil (at left) demonstrate for abortion rights; a woman in a march in Paraguay (at right) holds a poster reading “If Abortion is Not Wrong, Then Nothing Is Wrong.” Christophe Simon and Norberto Duarte/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Christophe Simon and Norberto Duarte/Getty Images

The mosquito-borne Zika virus has sparked a debate about abortion in both Latin America and the United States.

The virus has been directly linked to a birth defect that results in an abnormally small head and brain damage. In Latin America, where many countries have strict bans on abortion, some citizens and government officials are asking whether such bans should be reconsidered, at least in infected mothers.

And in the United States, a decades-old discussion has been reignited: Should the country rethink its stance on funding abortion initiatives abroad, put forth in what’s known as the Helms Amendment?

Adopted in 1973, the Helms Amendment states that “no foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.” In layman’s terms: Groups working with reproductive issues around the world cannot get U.S. government aid to fund abortions. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan went a step further with the “Mexico City Policy”: U.S. aid cannot go to foreign clinics or groups that ” actively promote abortion”, regardless of whether they do it with money from non-U.S.sources. This policy has been implemented by Republican presidents since and reversed by Democrats, including President Obama in 2009.

If the Helms amendment has always been controversial, the ongoing Zika outbreak has only added fuel to the fire. Those who oppose the Helms Amendment argue that USAID funding of abortions could help provide access to safe procedures for pregnant women who were affected by the virus and who might choose to terminate their pregnancy. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has said she will work on adding exceptions to the Helms amendment, and candidate Bernie Sanders has said he would fund global abortion providers by executive action.

The debate about Helms is as old as the argument about legal abortion in America itself. The amendment was, in many ways, a reaction to Roe V. Wade. In the wake of the ruling that legalized abortion, conservative lawmakers rushed to introduce measures to curb access to abortions nationwide despite the Supreme Court ruling. They also found a foreign policy champion in North Carolina’s Republican Senator Jesse Helms. One of his first orders of business abroad was reproductive health. Sworn into office January 1973, the same month that the Supreme Court issued its ruling on Roe V. Wade, he sponsored an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, prohibiting any U.S. foreign aid from going toward abortions.

The proposed amendment was met with plenty of resistance, including from USAID, which argued that it was a hypocritical given the change in the America’s own stance on abortion. The Foreign Assistance Act, USAID wrote, “explicitly acknowledges that every nation is and should be free to determine its own policies and procedures with respect to population growth and family planning. In contradiction of this principle, the amendment would place U.S. restrictions on both developing country governments and individuals in the matter of free choice among the means of fertility control … that are legal in the U.S.”

Nevertheless, the Helms Amendment passed in the Senate (50-42) and the House in June-July 1973.

Three years later, the Hyde Amendment stated that federal funds could not be used to pay for abortion unless the pregnancy puts a mother’s life in danger or is caused by incest or rape. Critics say this seriously limits access to abortions for lower-income women.

Supporters of abortion rights say that at the very least, the Helms Amendment should be interpreted the same way as the Hyde Amendment. “Women and girls who are threatened and raped should be able to get an abortion safely,” says Brian Dixon, senior vice president for media and government relations at Population Connection, a nonprofit that bill themselves as “advocates progressive action to stabilize world population at a level that can be sustained by Earth’s resources.”

“Think of young girls escaped from ISIS in Iraq or raped in the Congo,” Dixon says. “We should be helping these women.”

Dixon has been vocal about the role of U.S. aid in the midst of the debate over abortion prompted by the Zika epidemic: “Let’s say Brazil changes its law to allow women with Zika to have abortion. Should we [Americans] help her get a safe abortion?” Dixon thinks the answer is yes: USAID should support clinics that perform abortions and family health/planning NGOs that advocate for them.

Wendy Wright, an anti-abortion activist since 1989, vehemently disagrees. “The United States should be promoting treatment, health and life — not death,” says Wright, who is vice president at the Center For Family And Human Rights, a nonprofit research institute that describes its mission as “dedicated to reestablishing a proper understanding of international law, protecting national sovereignty and the dignity of the human person.”

When Wright talks about the opposition to the Helms Amendment, she brings up racism, classism and discrimination. She says when American activists speak of the need to legalize abortion abroad “what underlies that viewpoint is that certain people, particularly the disadvantaged, are expendable and should be eliminated.”

She says her concern is not without precedent. History is filled with instances in which birth control campaigns targeted women of color and the lower classes, in America and abroad. One of the more prominent cases in Latin America was the forced sterilization of poor indigenous Peruvian women, in the mid-1990s. At the time it was argued that a lower birth rate would lower poverty.

Shawn Carney, president of 40 Days For Life, an international nonprofit that campaigns against abortion throughout South America and the world, puts it more bluntly. Over the phone from his office in Texas, he says: “A ‘first world country’ goes into a ‘third world country’ and says, ‘We don’t think you should have this many children, or children at all, because you’re poor and you have diseases, and you don’t have our lifestyle.’ “

Wright also stresses that funding abortion is not a good use of aid. “When abortion gets in the mix and we start talking about eliminating the Helms Amendment, aid will be diverted away from treatment and prevention, like insecticides, medicine, labs … the very things that could help people on the ground throughout their lifespan.”

But for the time being, the debate over whether or not the U.S. should fund abortion providers in Zika affected Latin America might be moot. Regardless of whether the Helms Amendment stands or is modified, abortion is for the most part banned in Latin America — and often carries serious punishment. Whether or not the tiny Aedes aegypti mosquito which carries Zika will nudge an entire continent’s stance on abortion remains to be seen.

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Was It Good, Bad, Or Ugly? Takes On Larry Wilmore's Jokes At Correspondents' Dinner

Comedy Central's Larry Wilmore speaks at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

Comedy Central’s Larry Wilmore speaks at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Susan Walsh/AP hide caption

toggle caption Susan Walsh/AP

“Welcome to Negro Night,” is how Larry Wilmore, the host of this weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, kicked off the night, adding, “Or as Fox News will report, ‘Two thugs disrupt elegant dinner in DC.'” The tepid reaction to that joke wouldn’t warm up much over the next 30 minutes. News outlets are saying that the comedian “bombed” and “flopped,” and some are chiding him for finishing out the routine by saying, “You did it, my n——” to the president.

But others say Wilmore’s poor reception had more to do with the audience than the jokes, and that we may look back on his performance with greater appreciation.

Here’s a sampling of takes from across the spectrum.

Jezebel’s Aimee Lutkin described the event as “a roast presented to a crowd of people with no sense of humor,” and speculated that Wilmore’s racial jokes may not have landed in part because the overwhelmingly white crowd. One Huffington Post headline invited viewers to “watch Larry Wilmore make everyone nervous,” positing that as a good thing. And loads of commentators on Twitter praised Wilmore’s routine, along these lines:

Re-watched @larrywilmore at the #WHCD. Was one of the most hilarious, courageous, uncomfortable, confrontational 30 minutes ever. Loved it.

— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) May 2, 2016

But Slate’s Daniel Politi was less impressed. He says that Wilmore “never really found his rhythm,” and that the crowd’s reception “knocked him off his game a bit.”

Yes, it’s never easy to follow the president. But boy did Larry Wilmore miss the mark on Saturday night at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The vast majority of his jokes fell flat in a room that seemed to be groaning more often than smiling. Beyond a joke here and there, the whole monologue was really boring. A full 10 minutes could have easily been chopped from the whole thing and nothing would have changed.

Dustin Rowles at Pajiba.com agreed that Wilmore wasn’t helped by coming after President Obama, who as usual, crushed it:

President Obama gave his last White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech tonight, and he was amazing…

As for Larry Wilmore? Ooof. It didn’t help that he had to follow Obama, but Wilmore didn’t do himself any real favors, either. The crowd was hard on him, and it was clear his confidence was shaken. There were a lot of groans, a lot of cringes, and at one point, even Don Lemon flipped him off. It didn’t work. He didn’t have the material to follow Obama, and weak material led to a bad response which led to an increasingly insecure performance. I like Larry Wilmore, and he did get off a few great jokes (including jokes about Guantanamo and drone strikes, at Obama’s expense), but it wasn’t a good overall speech (and the Ted Cruz/Zodiac Killer bit went on way too long).

Hollywood Reporter’s John DeFore thought the poor reception might have been a simple case of wrong place, wrong time:

The host of The Nightly Show made most of his jokes at the media’s expense, and in this room full of reporters, they probably sounded meaner than they were meant to. With no Donald Trump in the audience, it fell to Wolf Blitzer to maintain a humorless stone face when Wilmore mocked The Situation Room; responding to recent personnel changes, Wilmore joked that MSNBC stood for “Missing a Significant Number of Black Correspondents”; later he suggested a countdown clock on CNN’s screen was tracking the network’s ratings as they fell to zero.

Lastly, over at the Washington Post, Callum Borchers agrees that Wilmore’s routine didn’t go over well, but thinks it might ripen with age, comparing it to Stephen Colbert’s 2006 performance:

Colbert, like Wilmore, went for the jugular. The theme of his monologue was that journalists had been too soft in their coverage of President George W. Bush’s foreign policy, behaving more like lapdogs than watchdogs as Bush led the United States into Middle East conflicts. And, like Wilmore, Colbert heard grumbling and even some booing as he delivered his punch lines…

But in hindsight, few would disagree with the underlying critique of Colbert’s satire…So, chin up, Larry Wilmore. A decade from now, the same journalists who bristled at your commentary on Saturday might look back and say, “You know what? He kind of had a point.”


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Starbucks And Steel: The Divergent Directions Of China's Economy

A worker leaves the Baosteel Group Corporation plant in Shanghai in March 2016.

A worker leaves the Baosteel Group Corporation plant in Shanghai in March 2016. Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

When it comes to the future of China’s economy, Wang Dengwen is yesterday’s man. He came from the countryside and found work a few years ago at Shanghai’s Baosteel, smoothing the edges off steel plates.

After his first year, the steel market began to slide and the company cut Wang’s monthly salary from $780 to about $620. A couple of months ago, Wang, 34, took a second job, earning $2.25 an hour delivering food for KFC.

He was so beat after a recent 12-hour steel shift that he mixed up a food order. Now, Wang’s scared he could lose his KFC job.

“I’m screwed,” he says wearily. “I’m already down to my last chance. I only pray nothing will go wrong with my second job. This is what I think about every day. Don’t lose this job!”

Manufacturing and industrial jobs like those at Baosteel helped drive employment in China over the last three decades and transformed tens of millions of lives. Factories provided opportunities for poor farmers like Wang to come to big coastal cities, make some money and save for the future.

But China’s economy is changing. The nation’s industrial sector, which once helped fuel double-digit economic growth, is in decline and some parts of the country are in recession. Meanwhile, the Communist Party is trying to make a crucial transition to a high-income economy focused on services and driven by consumer spending.

Larry Dong is tasked with opening 300 new Starbucks coffee shops in Shanghai and two neighboring provinces this year.

Larry Dong is tasked with opening 300 new Starbucks coffee shops in Shanghai and two neighboring provinces this year. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Frank Langfitt/NPR

When many analysts look at China today, they see a tale of two economies.

From the gates of Baosteel in Shanghai’s suburbs, you can look 15 miles down Jiangyang North Road and see three of the world’s tallest skyscrapers rising from Lujiazui, the city’s financial district. Compared to Baosteel, downtown Shanghai might as well be another planet. It is not home to factory workers, but to financiers, lawyers, businesses owners and executives.

Among them is Larry Dong, who oversees operations for Starbucks coffee shops in Shanghai. He’s not struggling with decline. He’s trying to manage growth.

Dong’s task: opening and staffing 300 new Starbucks in the city and in neighboring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces this year. Shanghai already has 450 Starbucks, more than any other city in the world, he says. Dong and Starbucks are riding the wave of consumer spending and service sector expansion.

An abandoned, five-story dormitory at Baosteel sits on the outskirts of Shanghai. The steel company has been moving production out of the city and workers have quit, following salary cuts tied to low steel prices.

An abandoned, five-story dormitory at Baosteel sits on the outskirts of Shanghai. The steel company has been moving production out of the city and workers have quit, following salary cuts tied to low steel prices. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Frank Langfitt/NPR

“I think business is very good, because every year we see very high growth,” says Dong, sitting in Starbucks’ sleek store in Xintiandi, a pedestrian shopping area which is dotted with outdoor cafes. “China is now Starbucks’ second biggest market around the world. It will quickly surpass the U.S. in the future and become the largest market.”

In recent years, the fortunes of China’s steel industry have headed in the opposite direction. During the global financial crisis, the Chinese government launched a nearly $600 billion stimulus program, building everything it could to employ workers, pump up the economy and avoid a recession.

It worked, but now the country faces thousands of empty apartment blocks and a mountain of local government debt. This means less demand for steel — and for workers like Wang.

“Producing steel is so cheap, raising pigs beats it,” says Wang, who plans to save what he can in the next two years and then head back home to the countryside. “Now half a kilo [1.1 lb.] of pork costs about $1.50. How much does half a kilo of steel cost? Just a few cents.”

This coffee shop in Xintiandi, a pedestrian shopping area in Shanghai, is one of 450 Starbucks in the city. Shanghai has more Starbucks than any other city in the world, according to Larry Dong, who oversees operations for Starbucks shops in the city.

This coffee shop in Xintiandi, a pedestrian shopping area in Shanghai, is one of 450 Starbucks in the city. Shanghai has more Starbucks than any other city in the world, according to Larry Dong, who oversees operations for Starbucks shops in the city. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Frank Langfitt/NPR

Steel prices have rebounded somewhat in recent months, but the government says it must still cut at least 100 million tons of steel capacity in the next five years to begin to bring supply and demand into line. That means getting rid of at least 500,000 steel jobs, according to Laura Zhai, a credit analyst with Fitch Ratings in Hong Kong.

Zhai says shutting down just 10 percent of steel capacity will also force the government to confront $30 billion in debt.

“How are you going to repay the debt?” says Zhai, who adds that the overall debt-to-asset ratio in China’s steel sector is very high, 70 percent.

When Larry Dong looks across the Xintiandi Starbucks, he sees China’s future: young professionals on smartphones and laptops, working, chatting and spending.

Dong, 41, says rising middle- and upper middle-class incomes are helping drive the company’s sales and expansion. When he began managing Shanghai’s first Starbucks in 2000, he made about $280 a month. Now managers make more than four times that, he says.

Despite the country’s economic challenges, many Chinese remain optimistic about their own financial situation, according to a survey of 10,000 people in 44 cities by McKinsey & Company. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said they were confident their income would increase significantly in the next five years, according to McKinsey’s 2016 China consumer report.

“The service industry in China, particularly the food and beverage business, benefited a lot from the dividends of China’s economic growth,” says Dong, who is studying for an executive MBA at China Europe International Business School in Shanghai. “There is a lot of room for the service industry to grow in the future.”

But even with a healthy service sector, China’s overall economic growth continues to slow. The reason is basic math: Consumer spending and the service sector aren’t expanding fast enough to offset the slide in the old industrial economy. That decline is also affecting other sectors, such as banking.

Bryson, 31, quit his job as a loan officer at a government bank earlier this year. He doesn’t want NPR to use his full name because talking about state banks is politically sensitive. Like Wang, the steelworker, Bryson also suffered a salary cut. He was making two-thirds fewer loans this year than when he started in 2012 because state-owned industrial companies were doing so badly, they could no longer qualify.

“The entire bank’s revenue is down and the number of nonperforming loans is going up,” he says. “Compared with other financial sectors, banking is no longer that attractive.”

On a visit to Shanghai to train for a new job, Bryson says he sees China at a crossroads.

“China hasn’t found a new economic growth engine,” he says. “If I had to use a word to describe the current state, it would be ‘confusion.’ We don’t know where the country is headed.”

China’s government is banking that services and consumption will drive the country’s economy into the future. But, as the experience of both Bryson and Wang suggest, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

NPR News Assistant Yang Zhuo contributed to this report.

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Critical Drugs For Hospital ERs Remain In Short Supply

A white board showed the drugs in short supply at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City in 2011.

A white board showed the drugs in short supply at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City in 2011. Jim Urquhart/AP hide caption

toggle caption Jim Urquhart/AP

At some hospitals, posters on the wall in the emergency department list the drugs that are in short supply or unavailable, along with recommended alternatives.

The low-tech visual aid can save time with critically ill patients, allowing doctors to focus on caring for them rather than doing research on the fly, said Dr. Jesse Pines, a professor of emergency medicine and director of the Office for Clinical Practice Innovation at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He has studied the problems created by shortages.

The need for such workarounds probably won’t end anytime soon. According to a new study, shortages of many drugs that are essential in emergency care have increased in both number and duration in recent years even as shortages for drugs for non-acute or chronic care have eased somewhat. The shortages have persisted despite a federal law enacted in 2012 that gave the Food and Drug Administration regulatory powers to respond to drug shortages, the study found.

For this report, which was published in the May issue of Health Affairs, researchers analyzed drug shortage data between 2001 and 2014 from the University of Utah’s Drug Information Service, which contains all confirmed national drug shortages, according to the study.

They divided the drugs into acute and non-acute categories. Acute-care drugs were those used in the emergency department for many of the urgent and severe conditions handled there and include remedies such as pain medications, heart drugs, saline solution and electrolyte products.

Overall, the study found that 52 percent of the 1,929 shortages during the time period studied were for acute-care drugs. Following passage of the federal law in 2012, the number of active shortages of non-acute care drugs began to decline for the first time since 2004, but there was no corresponding dropoff in shortages of drugs that emergency departments and intensive care units rely on, the researchers reported.

Shortages of the drugs for emergency care lasted longer as well, the study found. Half of the shortages of drugs for acute care lasted longer than 242 days, compared with 173 days for non-acute care drugs.

Seventy percent of the drugs that were difficult to get were injectable drugs, which emergency departments rely on to a much greater degree than other types of providers. The most common acute-care drugs affected were those to fight infections, such as antibiotics; those that affect the central nervous system, including painkillers and sedatives; and the drugs that suppress or stimulate the autonomic nervous system, which controls heart and breathing rates.

When patients come to the emergency department who have been seriously injured and are having trouble breathing, for example, it’s often necessary to administer drugs that sedate them and cause their muscles to relax so that emergency personnel can insert a breathing tube in the windpipe.

“All of a sudden you have a life-critical procedure and you’re using your second-best drug or a drug you’re less familiar with,” said Dr. Arjun Venkatesh, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Yale School of Medicine and a study co-author.

Venkatesh said his own experience with recurring shortages of such basic but critical medicines as saline solution while working in the emergency department at Yale-New Haven Hospital was the impetus for the study.

Patients are naturally often unaware of drug shortages in the emergency department, and there’s no data to show that substituting a preferred drug with one that a doctor is less comfortable with results in patient harm, experts say.

“But if you extrapolate this problem over 140 million emergency department visits annually, I don’t see how patients couldn’t have been harmed by [substitutions],” said Dr. Frederick Blum, an associate professor of emergency medicine at West Virginia University School of Medicine who is a former president of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 contains provisions aimed at stemming these problems, including requiring reporting of shortages by drug manufacturers to the FDA and expediting inspections and reviews by the FDA of alternative products and manufacturing facilities.

“We need more,” Venkatesh said. “At the national level, they need to provide more support around generic injectables and antibiotics, the two areas that are ripe for improvement.”

The FDA continues to work closely with manufacturers to resolve shortages, said agency spokesman Christopher Kelly.

“In the past couple of years, numbers of new shortages have gone down and that’s largely due to increased notifications by manufacturers,” Kelly said in a statement. Injectable drugs “are particularly susceptible to shortages and can be difficult to solve.”

Changing the economics of these drugs could help, said George Washington’s Pines, noting that profit margins are thin and there’s not a lot of extra capacity in the system if one manufacturer stops producing a drug. The Health Affairs study suggests tax credits, rebates or temporary market exclusivity as potential strategies to improve the supply of generic injectables, among other things.

David Gaugh, senior vice president for sciences and regulatory affairs at the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, said drugmakers’ efforts have helped decrease the shortages but acknowledged more is needed. He called for continued communication between regulators and generic drug manufacturers on the issues and improvements in the drug review process. “The only way to mitigate current shortages and prevent future shortages from occurring is a collaborative effort,” he said.

Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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WATCH: Ted Cruz Clashes With Trump Supporter, 'He Is Playing You For A Chump'


If the entire, bizarre 2016 GOP presidential primary could be captured in one video, this might be it.

While campaigning for his political life in Indiana just ahead of their critical primary on Tuesday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was shaking hands alongside Indiana Gov. Mike Pence when a very vocal supporter of Donald Trump interrupted.

Chants of “Do the math! Do the math!” began in the distance, while supporters of his try to counter their own chorus of “Cruz! Cruz!”

But as the White House hopeful starts to exit, he comes face-to-face with one of his loudest detractors and proceeds to engage him and try to reason with him for more than eight minutes.

“I appreciate you coming out and standing up,” he told one man at the front of the pack of protesters. “I’m running to be everyone’s president.”

“We don’t want you! Do the math!” the man yelled back. “You asked [Ohio Gov.] John Kasich to drop out. It’s your turn.”

Cruz asked the man what he likes about Trump, and the man pointed to Trump’s famed proposal to build a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Do you know, on the wall, that Donald told the New York Times editorial board he’s not going to build a wall and he’s not going to deport anyone,” Cruz responded.

“Where’s your Goldman Sachs jacket? We know your wife works there,” the man retorted later.

“Sir, with all respect, Donald Trump is deceiving you. He is playing you for a chump,” Cruz argued back, pointing to the fact that many Trump-branded products are made overseas even as he rails against outsourcing.

When the man jabbed back that Trump will best defend the Second Amendment, Cruz pointed to Trump’s past positions in support of gun control.

“I appreciate your being out here speaking,” Cruz even told the main, remaining calm throughout. “If I were Donald Trump, I wouldn’t have come over here and talked to you. I wouldn’t have shown you that respect. In fact, I would have told those folks over there, ‘Go over and punch those guys in the face.’ That’s what Donald does to protesters.”

“You’ll find out tomorrow,” the man said. “Indiana don’t want you.”

It wasn’t the only unfortunate incident that befell Cruz’s campaign over the weekend as he’s struggling to catch Trump ahead of Tuesday’s crucial vote.

In a Hail Mary last week, the trailing GOP candidate tapped former rival Carly Fiorina as his would-be running mate. This Vine, however, of an awkward victory lap at that announcement last Wednesday has been circulating.

And while campaigning in the Hoosier State over the weekend, Fiorina also took a tumble off the stage at a rally.


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