Justify Wins Preakness, Keeping Triple Crown Hopes Alive

Justify, ridden by Mike Smith, wins the 143rd Preakness Stakes in the mud and fog Saturday to capture the second leg of the Triple Crown in Baltimore.

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Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images

Dense fog and a soggy track blurred ideal viewing conditions, but there was no mistaking Justify’s run to victory in the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

Entering the race with an overwhelming 5-1 odds, the undefeated favorite, ridden by jockey Mike Smith, shot out of Post 7 with a clean start as he had in Kentucky. Smith takes his second Preakness win.

While Justify’s victory hardly came as a shock, don’t call it an easy win. The favorite, who had been recovering from a bruised hind foot, stayed nose-to-nose with trailing Derby runner-up Good Magic for the majority of the race. But in the end, Bravazo placed second and Tenfold, a long shot, finished third.

“It was a nail-biter,” Justify’s trainer Bob Baffert told NBC Sports. “They put it to us. It was like they had their own private match race (but I’m) so happy we got it done. Such a great horse to handle all that pressure and get it done.”

Baffert is now one race closer to taking his second Triple Crown. Baffert led American Pharoah to Triple Crown victory in 2015, ending a 37-year-drought in series champions.

Justify’s next stop: the final jewel of the Triple Crown at Belmont Stakes in New York on June 9.

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'My Fifth Career': Bettye LaVette Reinvents Bob Dylan For Herself

Bettye LaVette’s Things Have Changed is out now on Verve Records.

Mark Seliger/Courtesy of the artist


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Mark Seliger/Courtesy of the artist

There’s been no shortage of musicians who’ve covered Bob Dylan songs over the years. On Things Have Changed, however, soul powerhouse Bettye LaVette reinvents the timeless music and lyrics of the folk singer into an intimate career retrospective all her own.

LaVette says she didn’t have a relationship with these songs before the project, which she counts as a stroke of luck that allowed her to reshape otherwise well-known music. In songs like “Emotionally Yours,” she was able to mine new depths from a songwriter she always saw as plainspoken and practical. “He just says, ‘These are my words and I am very hurt,’ but he never sounds that way,” she notes. “And you know how I am, I sound hurt all the time, on ‘Happy Birthday’ or whatever.”

LaVette admits to feeling daunted by the task of impressing skeptical Dylanites she sought to reach with this album. “I never thought you guys would even let me in the front door,” she says of Dylan fans, though this statement could apply to much of her relationship with the music industry over the years. (She sometimes struggled with finances or with maintaining consistent label support.) Now, Things Have Changed is LaVette’s first release on a major label in 30 years.

“It’s so funny; I walk on the stage, and I can tell who you are, because you’re kind of with your arms folded and looking especially as if you’ve never heard the CD or you’ve never heard of me,” she says. “I thought people would think, ‘Who does she think she is, for real?'”

But once she opens her mouth to sing, however, she says she receives as many as three or four standing ovations, usually in the middle of the first song.

LaVette talked to NPR’s Don Gonyea — one such obsessed Dylanite — about her changing relationship with Dylan’s music and reflects on a lifetime of defying an industry that has tried to box her in.

Interview Highlights

On her first and only time “meeting” Bob Dylan

I was in Italy on the same festival that he was on and coming out of my dressing room. Security would not let anyone out of the dressing room, and I said, “Well, why?” And they said, “Because Mr. Dylan is going onstage,” and I’m like, “Well, I don’t care! Let me out of my dressing room!” So I come out of my dressing room and I’m angry because he’s got my band and me and everybody trapped while he takes 50 steps to the stage. So I’m walking along the same path that he is, but on the other side of the room, and I said, “Hey, Robert Dylan!” And he was walking with his bass player and his bass player mouthed to him: “That’s Bettye LaVette!” He walked over to me, took my face in both his hands, kissed me dead on the mouth and walked on the stage. So that’s what we’ve done thus far [Laughs].

On devoting Dylan’s “Mama, You Been On My Mind” to her mother

All those lyrics seem to apply to my younger life: how my mother literally did not know where I’d be waking up tomorrow and how she’d stay up all night worrying about me. I was either in another state or certainly in another city.

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On how the music industry pigeonholed her in the 1960s

They started off by trying to make me sound like a girl, which really played me out of position. I really thought at one point I could sound like Doris Day, and it took me a long time to accept the fact that I sound more like James Brown. And now I’m trying to convince everybody it’s OK for me to sound like James Brown. They all sounded either like they came from church or like girls. And I didn’t come from church, and I really don’t sound like girls as we know girls to sound.

On beginning her “fifth career” after her career got off-track

Every time one of those records charted and I was zoomed around the world and brought back, I thought I was done each time. I’ve had no big problems with life or living; someone has always liked me and someone is always willing to help me try and be the best or biggest Bettye LaVette I could be. So I’ve been very fortunate on the friend side and the health side. It’s just the industry that has had a difficult time putting me wherever they wanted me to be. They never seem to know. They won’t accept the fact that I’m a singer; they want me to be a kind of singer, so we’ve been at odds with that. But slowly, certainly in these last 10 years in this fifth career, I’ve been accepted on many different fronts. It’s always been my dream to be to have what I call a Ray Charles audience: young, old, black, white, American, foreign, whatever.

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Kenya's Crackdown On Fake News Raises Questions About Press Freedom

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, pictured here in Berlin in April, has signed into law a bill that criminalizes cyberbullying and the spread of misinformation.

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Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta, has signed into law a bill that criminalizes abuse on social media and the spread of false information. According to Reuters, the bill allows for a fine of up to $50,000, two years of jail time, or both, to be imposed on any person who intentionally publishes false information.

The act, according to a statement posted on the president’s official website on Wednesday, “provides for timely and effective detection, prohibition, prevention, response, investigation and prosecution of computer and cybercrimes.” It is called the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act 2018, and its scope is large: The bill covers activity from cyber-bullying to child pornography, false publications and illegal monitoring of data.

The full text of the bill is not yet available on the parliament of Kenya’s website, but the official transcript of debate on the bill during an afternoon session on April 26 is. During that session, Aden Bare Duale, the Majority Leader of the National Assembly of Kenya, spoke in support of the bill:

“This Bill will deal with those people who create fake news … This law will deal [sic] all the fraud that is taking place in the financial sector. This Bill will deal with all those who use technology to radicalise and recruit our youngsters into terrorism. I am sure that the famous bloggers are watching me. You have three or four days to do whatever you want before the law comes into effect. We want the social media to be used very responsibly. It is a very integral part of the society when it is used responsibly.”

After the bill was passed by Kenya’s National Assembly, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement urging Kenyatta not to sign it into law. Apollo Mboya, former chief executive of the Law Society of Kenya, told the CPJ that the parts of the law that criminalize the spread of false information would also leave room for the Kenyan government to target journalists it disagrees with.

Article 19, a British organization that focuses on defending freedom of expression, also expressed concern with the bill. Henry Maina, the director of the organization’s Eastern Africa division issued the following statement:

“Laws criminalising ‘false news’ are extremely problematic and are frequently subject to abuse by the authorities due to the power they give the authorities to determine ‘truth’. Kenyan courts have found that criminal laws which do not state explicitly and definitely what conduct is punishable are void for vagueness, which is a clear issue with these provisions.”

The passage of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act is the latest in a series of developments surrounding press freedom in Kenya, which is still recovering from a tense election.

The country had to hold two highly-disputed elections before Kenyatta could begin his second term as president. The first election, which Kenyatta won, was nullified by Kenya’s supreme court. Prior to a second election, the Kenyan government banned demonstrations in the country’s major cities. The government later reversed the ban after a declaration by Kenya’s High Court. Kenyatta won the second election, and he was sworn in for this term in November of 2017. The election process was marked by months of violence.

In February, NPR’s Eyder Peralta reported that the Kenyan government turned off three major independent TV stations before opposition leader Raila Odinga held a large unofficial ceremony to swear himself in as the “people’s president.” Peralta said many didn’t expect such a media crackdown:

“The media crackdown has taken Kenya and the world by surprise. The East African powerhouse ushered in a new constitution in 2010 that is considered one of the most progressive in Africa.

“It solidified many of the democratic reforms the country made since the authoritarian regime of Daniel Arap Moi ended in 2002. It guarantees freedom of speech, assembly and the press.

” ‘Kenya has really been one of the beacons on the continent for media freedom,’ says Angela Quintal, the Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists. ‘So when you see this and you see other actions by the government, you see a deterioration of that space and it’s eroding Kenya’s status as a leader on African press freedom.’ “

According to Reuters, Tanzania and Uganda are also in the midst of debates about the regulation of online activity and social media. Earlier this month, after the Tanzanian government issued an order requiring online platforms be registered, bloggers and activists won a temporary court injunction against it. And last month in Uganda, the government issued a new tax on social media use.

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