Anderson .Paak Has Earned The Right To Frivolous Rap Fantasies

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It’s no secret that Anderson .Paak is one of the best entertainers we’ve got right now — the rapper-singer-songwriter-drummer-producer can spoon together jazz, rap and R&B and land the combination with raspy wit and a Cheshire Cat grin. But, though his work is usually delectable, he’s been leaving fans famished so far this year; .Paak lent his voice to Apple for a HomePod commercial earlier this year, but it wasn’t clear if the single was a preview of a new album or just a tech giant wielding their ‘cool’ card for profit. Now that the 32-year-old has released “Bubblin’,” his second full-length solo song this year, and with it, a wild, hip-hop hoop dreams spectacle of a music video, we have our answer.

With a broken, Jackson-spitting ATM in tow, Anderson goes on a romp through L.A. in this Calmatic-directed visual blowing cash on all his frivolous rap fantasies. If you’re not prepared for the ride, you could get whiplash: Hanging from a chandelier, posting up in a fur coat with his new pet zebra, diving into a pool of dollars, shooting dice with boys on the street (sporting an untied durag and oversized Phila jersey, no less) and beckoning a gang of strippers to bounce in a burger joint — all while rapping at hyper-speed over a string-and-bass weighted beat from AntMan Wonder and Jahlil Beats. The only constant in all of the mayhem is the cash machine, which at one point confides in a date, over dinner, about .Paak abusing its generosity.

According to .Paak, “Bubblin’ ” is just the tip of the iceberg for what he has planned this year. The Oxnard, Calif. native told Beats 1 upon releasing the single today that he and Dr. Dre have an entire album in store.

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'No One Is Answering, No One Knows': What Las Vegas Shooting Witnesses Told Police

Tourists pose for photos in front of the city’s welcome sign near Mandalay Bay, which doubled as a memorial site after the shooting last October. On Wednesday, Las Vegas police released more than 1,000 pages of witness statements giving a deeper look into the moments leading up to the massacre.

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Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Editor’s Note: This post contains graphic descriptions.

“At first we thought it was fireworks.”

More than half a year since a gunman opened fire on a country music festival last October, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more, Las Vegas police have released a trove of witness statements taken in the weeks immediately afterward. There are more than 1,200 pages in the batch made public Wednesday, ranging from handwritten one-line notes to typed transcripts spanning long conversations — but for the most part, victims and observers begin with variations on the same theme.

Jason Aldean sang four or five songs.

Then, the dozens of disparate voices agree, the strange sounds started.

“Just pop, pop, pop over and over again.”

“I would say one and then, like, three after. …. Poof – poof – poof – poof. You know?”

“I thought it was static from the speakers and sound system because it was so loud that I could not hear the band or Jason, then realized there were no speakers behind us.”

“And everybody just kept yelling, like, ‘Oh it’s fireworks. Oh it’s fireworks.’ “

“And my friend actually made the comment, ‘You know, I hope people aren’t being stupid and, you know, messing with firecrackers ’cause they’re gonna cause a stampede and people are gonna get killed.’ “

“There was a little pause and it started again.”

“People started screaming and saying, ‘Get down,’ ‘Get down,’ ‘Down now!’ “

“But I heard it again and told my wife to run.”

“That’s when I realized that I had some sort of pressure on my ribcage, uh, near my right breast. I reached down thinking somebody had spilt their drink on me or something — not really putting two and two together until I realized that my hand was warm and red and that’s when it kind of hit me that I was shot.”

“At that point I felt like I’d been kinda punched in my — my shoulder.”

“I felt something hit my foot.”

“I just felt it. Right on my side, my back.”

“I had no idea I had been shot at that point, I only saw the blood.”

“I told [my wife] to go — just save herself and just leave me there. But she wouldn’t. She’s feisty. And she started yelling at me and told me to, ‘Get the f*** up and run.’ “

“Then we just heard bullets just ricocheting all over the place.”

“I’m asking people, ‘Where is the shooting coming from?’ No one is answering, no one knows.”

“All I remember seeing was everyone scrambling to get to safety and try to help each other. I saw people … bleeding uncontrollably and fighting for their own lives. I heard screams of desperation and terror.”

“And it seemed to last forever and ever and ever and ever.”

“Boom. Boom. Boom.”

The narratives come without names, the witnesses’ identities having been redacted by law enforcement. They offered their first-person accounts to local officers from Las Vegas and Henderson, Nev., to FBI agents, told them in hospital beds, in hotel rooms, in the comfort of their own home if they were lucky.

One by one, detail building on detail, the scores of stories weave a scene of chaos and terrifying strangeness — a crowd plunged into bloodshed without warning or reason.

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Encounters with the gunman

The witness statements also shed just a little more light on the man behind the trigger: Stephen Paddock, 64. His nighttime assault on the crowded concert venue, carried out from his 32nd-floor hotel room in the Mandalay Bay, lasted roughly 10 minutes — but in the days, weeks and even years leading up to the killing, Paddock occasionally made an impression on casino employees and strangers.

He was “reserved” and “always on his laptop,” but for the most part “it was a pleasure taking care of” him and his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, one employee familiar with their frequent visits noted.

Paddock was working on his computer again in his room the Wednesday afternoon before the shooting, another employee recalled. As she went about the room, changing his sheets, cleaning out his refrigerator, she told law enforcement that she felt increasingly uncomfortable because “he keep on staring at me.”

She said she was not truly scared at the time because he was an “old man” sitting far away from her in the room, “but the eyes keep on following me.” She noted he had also brought more than five pieces of luggage with him, an unusually large amount that stuck in her memory.

The encounter was so discomforting, she added, she could still feel his phantom stare a week later, long after they parted.

Another man noted that while he was out for an early dinner with his son the Thursday before the shooting, he had observed a man he believed to be Paddock speaking with an associate. Paddock and his companion were discussing the deadly sieges at Waco, Texas, and Ruby Ridge, Idaho, where federal agents sought to dislodge an armed cult and armed family, respectively, both with bloody results in the early 1990s.

“The men [were] angry about it” and the federal response, the witness recalled.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department declined to comment on Paddock’s possible motives and the trove of witness statements in general.

The huge document release — the second in roughly two weeks, after the department revealed police body camera footage recorded during the massacre — comes after multiple media outlets brought a lawsuit seeking the disclosure of materials related to the October shooting.

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A Pregnant Rhino In California Could Save A Related Subspecies

A southern white rhino named Victoria is two months pregnant. Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive sciences at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, announced the news on Thursday.

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Julie Watson/AP

There may be hope for the nearly extinct northern white rhino yet, thanks to the pregnancy of a closely related subspecies.

“Victoria,” a southern white rhino in California, was impregnated through artificial insemination, researchers announced on Thursday.

“It’s very exciting because this is our first pregnant rhino from artificial insemination here at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park,” Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive sciences at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, told NPR.

The embryo is almost 2 months old and will develop for about 14 more months. It measures just a little over an inch — about the length of a double-A battery, reported NPR affiliate KPBS.

The effort took four months and many people, Durrant said. Scientists conducted frequent ultrasounds to monitor the fertility of six females. Lab personnel froze southern white rhino semen. Veterinarians anesthetized Victoria for the impregnation procedure.

The researchers’ goal is for Victoria to someday give birth as a surrogate mother to a northern white rhino, a close subspecies for which only two remain.

An ultrasound of Victoria shows a 2-month-old embryo.

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Tammy Spratt/AP

The scientists have tissue, sperm and cell lines from 12 northern white rhinos, said Durrant. “We feel confident that the embryo transfer would be successful between the two subspecies. The one thing we are lacking is northern white rhino eggs.”

An embryo could be fashioned through genetic technology. That means using frozen skin cells from dead northern white rhinos to make stem cells and, eventually, sperm and eggs.

“This has only been done in one species before and that was a mouse. It’s a big step from a mouse to a rhino. But it is possible,” said Durrant.

The northern white rhino once roamed in southern Chad, the Central African Republic, southwestern Sudan, northern Democratic Republic of the Congo and northwestern Uganda, according to the World Wildlife Fund. But their populations were decimated because people saw profits in their horns.

“They were poached to extinction in the wild,” said Durrant. “We will feel we accomplished our goal if we can then return them to a safe place to Africa.”

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Trump: Nuclear Deal Would Be Good For North Korea

President Trump meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday.

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Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump offered assurances that North Korea would benefit from any deal it reaches with the U.S. regarding its nuclear program, amid uncertainty about whether negotiations between the two countries will actually take place.

North Korea has threatened to cancel talks between its leader Kim Jong Un and Trump scheduled for next month. Pyongyang said it viewed the joint military exercises held by the U.S. and South Korea as a provocation and that it would not give in to one-sided demands to give up its nuclear weapons.

Despite the threats, Trump said his administration continues to be in touch with North Korea about planning the logistics of the summit with Kim.

He said it would be in Kim’s best interest to work with the United States to ease tensions in the region.

“The best thing he could ever do is to make a deal,” Trump told reporters during a White House meeting Thursday with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

North Korea complained about remarks from White House national security adviser John Bolton that the U.S. could follow the Libya model for denuclearization of North Korea.

Libya gave up its nuclear weapons program, but years later Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was killed in an uprising backed by NATO forces.

Trump attempted to clarify Bolton’s comments, saying Bolton was referring to the approach the U.S. would take if talks failed.

If a deal is reached, Trump said Kim would be able to remain as the head of North Korea and the U.S. would provide strong security protections for the regime.

“He’d be running his country. His country would be very rich,” Trump said.

North Korea has faced crippling economic sanctions due to its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

North Korea’s threats to scrap the meeting with Trump represented a striking potential setback between the U.S. and North Korea, after weeks of warming relations between the two countries.

Last week, Trump had said he and Kim would try to make the summit a “very special moment for world peace.”

But, Trump seemed to speculate China might be behind the shift in rhetoric from North Korea.

“I think things changed a little bit when they met with China,” Trump said. “There has been a big difference since they had the second meeting with (China’s) President Xi.”

China is North Korea’s longtime ally, but the two countries have had disagreements over North Korea’s nuclear program. The U.S. has relied on China to help bolster its sanctions against North Korea.

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Women Appointed To Top Miss America Leadership Positions After Scandal

Miss North Dakota Cara Mund reacts after being named Miss America in September. For the first time in the pageant’s history the two branches of the organization will be lead entirely by women, the group announced Thursday.

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Noah K. Murray/AP

Here they come, Miss America’s female leadership.

For the first time in the pageant’s history the two branches of the organization — the pageant and the foundation — will be led entirely by women, who also happen to be former Miss Americas.

“The induction of this all female leadership team signals forthcoming transformational changes to the entire organization and program, ushering in a new era of progressiveness, inclusiveness and empowerment,” the group said in a statement Thursday.

Regina Hopper, formerly at the helm of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America has been appointed president and CEO of the Miss America Organization. Marjorie Vincent-Tripp, an attorney, is the new chair of the Board of Trustees of Miss America Foundation, effective immediately.

Earlier this year former Fox News host, Gretchen Carlson, became the first former Miss America to be named chair of the board of trustees of the Miss America Organization.

The appointment of the women follows a period of turmoil for the two entities after top leadership members resigned amid an email scandal in December. An investigation by HuffPost unearthed three years worth of emails in which several high-ranking officials exchanged denigrating messages about the sex lives, weight gain, and intellect of past Miss Americas. Among those involved were CEO Sam Haskell, board chair Lynn Weidner, and President Josh Randle, all of whom stepped down from the organization.

Haskell had led the organization for a decade and is credited with reviving what had become an irrelevant competition. But despite the commercial turnaround, Haskell was quickly criticized for his words by board members and 49 former pageant winners, who called for his resignation before Haskell quit.

In one instance, as HuffPost reported:

“In late August 2014, the CEO of the Miss America Organization, Sam Haskell, sent an email to the lead writer of the Miss America pageant telecast, Lewis Friedman, informing him of a change he wanted to make in the script: ‘I have decided that when referring to a woman who was once Miss America, we are no longer going to call them Forever Miss Americas….please change all script copy to reflect that they are Former Miss Americas!’

“Friedman replied, ‘I’d already changed “Forevers” to “C****.” Does that work for you?’

“Haskell’s short reply came quickly: ‘Perfect…bahahaha.'”

Haskell later offered a semi-apology for “a mistake of words” in a statement, but also said, “Much of what was reported is dishonest, deceptive, and despicable.”

“Miss America is at an incredibly important juncture in its history,” Hopper said in the statement, adding that the new leaders “all care deeply about this program and, as we move toward the 100th anniversary, are working toward a renewed relevancy for the program so more young women will see Miss America as a path through which they can succeed and grow.”

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Army 'Leans In' To Protect A Shooter's Brain From Blast Injury

Marines based in Okinawa, Japan, fire an M136 AT-4 rocket launcher as part of a weapons training exercise on the Kaneohe Bay Range Training Facility, in 2014.

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Lance Cpl. Matthew Bragg/U.S. Marines/DVIDS

For the first time, the U.S. military is speaking publicly about what it’s doing to address potential health risks to troops who operate certain powerful shoulder-mounted weapons.

These bazooka-like weapons produce forceful explosions just inches from the operator’s head.

Though several scientific reports over the past year have noted the possible risk, until now military officials have been reluctant to speak publicly about whether repeated exposure to these blasts might result in injury to a shooter’s brain.

Tracie Lattimore, who directs the Army’s traumatic brain injury program, agreed to an interview with NPR to talk about steps the military is taking.

“We are leaning in and trying to do everything in our power to protect soldiers and service members while they continue to get their job done,” says Lattimore, who works in the Office of the Army Surgeon General.

She describes a wide-ranging effort that’s already begun and includes scientific research on troops’ exposure to blast during weapons training, enforcing limits on the firing of certain weapons, and even looking into whether special helmets could help stop blast waves.

The Army also has plans to monitor service members’ total blast exposure during their military careers, Lattimore says. And even as the Army starts to take preventive measures, some basic questions still need answers.

“Is blast exposure hurting service members or soldiers?” she says. “And if it is, what are those thresholds — and how can we home in on those? And then how can we modify our equipment or the way we operate to prevent injury?”

Blast exposure became a big issue for the military during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where roadside bombs posed a major threat to U.S. troops. The military realized that the blast from one of these bombs could cause a traumatic brain injury even if it didn’t leave a scratch on a service member’s body.

“We were totally concerned about the enemy weapon and the impact of the enemy weapon on our soldiers,” Lattimore says. Now, she says, military officials are turning their attention to the explosions from weapons fired by U.S. forces.

These weapons include the AT4 and Carl Gustaf, both of which fire rounds that weigh several pounds and are powerful enough to take out a tank. The blast from firing these weapons contains as much energy as the blast from a small bomb.

The risk to a person’s brain comes from an invisible pressure wave generated by an explosive blast. This blast wave travels faster than the speed of sound as it passes through a person’s skull. And scientists have shown that if the wave is strong enough, it can damage brain tissue.

Gunners say each blast feels like a punch to the face. And studies by the military show that service members who fire these weapons a lot can experience headaches, temporary memory loss, and other symptoms like those of a concussion.

There’s no longer any doubt that the blast wave from a roadside bomb can inflict serious brain damage, says Dr. David Brody, a neurologist at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, where the military trains its health professionals and scientists.

Several years ago, Brody used a special type of MRI to look at the brains of U.S. military personnel who’d been exposed to bomb blasts. Many of them had evidence of traumatic brain injury, according to a study published by his team in 2011.

Today, the military recognizes the risk of brain damage from bombs, and has implemented a policy to identify troops exposed to blasts and remove them from combat until they have a chance to heal.

But the risk from weapons blasts remains a mystery, Brody says.

“There is no consensus,” he says. “There is not a real solid understanding of what these blast exposures do, if anything.”

But there is reason to suspect that lots of relatively small blasts from firing an antitank weapon might have the same effect on the brain as one big blast from a bomb

The model is football players, Brody says.

Studies have shown that thousands of relatively minor head impacts during a player’s career can cause the same sort of long-term brain problems associated with full-blown concussion. These include problems with memory and thinking, and an increased risk of developing dementia and a brain condition called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

But the military doesn’t know how many weapons blasts troops are being exposed to, Brody says.

“If the service members are being exposed to thousands to tens of thousands of events, then we’ve got a very clear analogy to football,” he says. “If they’re being exposed in their lifetimes to dozens or hundreds of events, then it’s not analogous at all.”

To find out how much blast exposure troops are getting from heavy weapons, the military is using a device known as a blast gauge.

The gauges got their first wide use in Afghanistan in 2011. The Army put wearable gauges on thousands of military personnel in an effort to record the intensity of blasts from roadside bombs.

Surprisingly, the gauges also indicated that fairly strong blast waves were reaching the heads of some soldiers who fired heavy weapons like the AT4 and Carl Gustaf.

The Army says it eventually stopped using the gauges because it was hard to collect useful data in the chaotic environment of the battlefield.

But training offers a more controlled setting to study blast exposure, Brody says.

“The scientific program going forward is to get blast gauges on these service members and measure their lifetime history of blast exposures,” he says.

That is also the recommendation of an Army-commissioned report released in April by the Center for a New American Security.

And the military is planning to use an updated version of the blast gauges in a major study of blast exposure that was ordered by Congress late last year, Lattimore says.

Already, she says, military researchers are using the devices to help troops avoid excessive blast exposure during weapons training.

“If our researchers are out on a range and measuring exposure to a certain weapons system and they see a reading that is higher than what we anticipated, they can pause the training,” she says, to figure out what the problem is and fix it.

Examples like this show how dramatically the military view of blast risk from any source has changed, Lattimore says. “We are in a different place now than we were five years ago or ten years ago,” she says.

Brody agrees. “In the early days, there was a little bit of resistance to even acknowledging that there might be a problem,” he says. “And I do not see that now. The culture has changed so dramatically for the better, it’s great to see.”

But Lattimore cautions that the mission of the Armed Forces hasn’t changed. So even though there’s a desire to be “maximally protective,” she says, “the military has a job to do in terms of preparing for war and going to war, and that is an inherently risky business.”

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