American Man Achieves Dream By Reaching Mount Everest Summit, Then Dies

A 55-year-old Utah man who told his son that he was “so blessed” to achieve his lifelong dream of reaching the summit of Mount Everest, collapsed and died during his descent on Wednesday.

The family of Donald Lynn Cash, of Sandy, Utah, said the software sales executive and mountaineer apparently died of a heart attack. His body is not recoverable.

“The last message he sent to me personally was, ‘I’m so blessed to be on the mountain I have read about for 40 years!’ ” son Tanner Cash told NBC’s Today show.

Cash fell at the top of the summit in the early morning, according to The Himalayan Times, and was brought below the famed Hillary Step on the south side of the mountain by his climbing guides. They tried to save his life by administering oxygen, but he died later in the afternoon.

There are reports that the effort to carry Cash below the Hillary Step was delayed by a traffic jam of other mountaineers trying to reach the summit. Somewhere between 250 to 300 climbers were attempting to reach the summit on Wednesday, according to The New York Times.

“There’s a long queue of climbers above Camp IV,” Gyanendra Shrestha, a liaison officer at the Everest base camp, told The Himalayan Times. “Everyone seems in a hurry to reach the summit point when the weather is clear.”

Cash died as he achieved his goal of climbing highest summits on all seven continents.

“I am truly blessed to be able to take the next 5 months off on a sabbatical to finish the last 2 remaining mountains on my Seven Summits Club dream,” he wrote on his LinkedIn page. “Mt. Vinson-Masiff in Antarctica Jan 7-26th, 2019 and then Mt. Everest in Nepal April/May 2019. I’m excited to look for the next chapter of my career in June when I return. Safely. With all my digits.”

I think there’s just so much peace that comes from knowing that he didn’t suffer,” Cash’s daughter Brandalin told NBC’s Today show. “That it was the best way to go.”

Cash is the 12th mountaineer to die on Himalayan mountains above 25,000 feet in the spring climbing season, The Himalayan Times reports.

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Botswana Lifts Its Ban On Elephant Hunting

Elephants eat foliage at Botswana’s Mashatu game reserve in 2010.

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Botswana’s government is lifting a ban that protected its elephants from being hunted, part of a series of decisions that could have lasting impacts on the country’s conservation efforts.

In a letter to reporters, the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism referred to elephants as predators and said their numbers “appear to have increased.” It said a subcommittee found that conflicts between humans and elephants had risen, harming livestock and the livelihoods of Botswana’s people.

The announcement marked a sharp departure from the policies of former President Ian Khama, who suspended elephant hunting after data showed the population in decline. The ban took effect in 2014 but did not stop hunting in registered game ranches.

In May, Botswana’s newly elected president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, made international headlines for giving three African leaders stools made of elephant feet.

In June, he requested a review of the ban on hunting elephants.

His study group recommended “regular but limited elephant culling,” in addition to establishing elephant meat canning for pet food and other products. Among other conclusions, it recommended the government expand Botswana’s safari hunting industry.

Authorities said Thursday that the government accepted all recommendations except the regular culling of elephants and the establishment of meat canning. “This was rejected because culling is not considered acceptable given the overall continental status of elephants. Rather, a more sustainable method such as selective cropping should be employed,” the government said.

Conservationists around the world took to social media to denounce the government’s reversal on elephant hunting.

“Horrific beyond imagination,” said Paula Kahumbu, CEO of the Kenya-based WildlifeDirect. She said hunting was an archaic way to address the problems of living with mega fauna. “Africa, we are better than this,” she tweeted.

German organization Pro Wildlife wrote that hunting was a bloody sport, “#cruel, outdated, unethical and often undermining” conservation.

Other groups celebrated Botswana’s announcement, including Safari Club International, a U.S.-based organization that supports regulated trophy hunting.

President Paul Babaz called it “heartening” in a statement. “These findings clearly show that hunting bans actually hurt wildlife conservation; hunting is the key to providing the necessary revenue to fund anti-poaching efforts and on-the-ground conservation research,” he said.

Fewer than 400 elephant licenses will be granted annually, the government of Botswana announced on Twitter Thursday. It said it was planning for “strategically placed human wildlife conflict fences” and compensation for damage caused by wildlife. All migratory routes for animals that are not considered “beneficial” to Botswana’s conservation efforts will be closed, including an antelope route to South Africa.

Northern Botswana is home to Africa’s largest elephant population, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The population grew steadily from 80,000 in 1996 to 129,000 in 2014.

It happened as habitat loss and poaching devastated elephant populations across Africa. Between 2010 and 2012 alone, poachers slaughtered 100,000 African elephants, National Geographic reported.

Last September, the carcasses of 87 elephants were found close to a protected sanctuary in Botswana. They had been killed for their tusks.

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Facebook Removed Nearly 3.2 Billion Fake Accounts In Last Six Months

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, pictured earlier this month in France, told reporters on Thursday, the tech giant is making great strides in fighting hate speech and crime online.

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Facebook says it removed 3.39 billion fake accounts from October to March. That’s twice the number of fraudulent accounts deleted in the previous six-month period.

In the company’s latest Community Standards Enforcement Report, released Thursday, Facebook said nearly all of the fake accounts were caught by artificial intelligence and more human monitoring. They also attributed the skyrocketing number to “automated attacks by bad actors who attempt to create large volumes of accounts at one time.”

The fake accounts are roughly a billion more than the 2.4 billion actual people on Facebook worldwide, according to the company’s own count.

“Most of these accounts were blocked within minutes of their creation before they could do any harm,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters in a call on Thursday.

While acknowledging that Facebook “knows that there’s a lot of work ahead,” Zuckerberg also touted the company’s progress in curbing hate speech and graphic violence across the platform.

“We are increasingly catching it before people report it to us,” he said, adding that 65% of the hate speech on the site was removed before any users alerted the company. That is an increase from about 24% a year ago, Zuckerberg said.

During the same period, Facebook identified about 83% of posts and comments trying to sell drugs, before the company was informed about them, he added.

Facebook is facing a number of controversies on its platform including election interference, misinformation and privacy concerns. And a growing number of critics, including politicians and one of its co-founders, are calling for the company to be broken up. They argue Facebook, which has acquired Instagram and WhatsApp in recent years, wields far too much power and has a monopoly in the industry.

Chris Hughes, who co-founded the company in 2004, told NPR earlier this month, Zuckerberg “is unaccountable.”

“He’s unaccountable to his shareholders. He’s unaccountable to his users, and he’s unaccountable to government. And I think that that’s fundamentally un-American. And I think government should step up, break up the company and regulate it,” he said.

He added that the company “totally dominates the social networking space.”

“Of every dollar that’s spent on ads and social networking, 84% goes to Facebook,” Hughes said. “If you look at the time spent on the site, you know, the average user [is] spending an hour on Facebook and another 53 minutes on Instagram, not to mention what they’re spending on WhatsApp.”

Dipayan Ghosh, co-director of the Platform Accountability Project at the Harvard University’s Kennedy School, previously served as Facebook’s privacy and policy advisor. “Without some sort of public transparency into steps the company takes to take down nefarious accounts, we should not conclude it’s doing enough,” he told NPR.

But on Thursday, Zuckerberg argued the new report is evidence of the company’s efforts to be more transparent. He also asserted that breaking up Facebook would only make it harder to quash fake news and phony accounts across the site.

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‘All In The Family’ And ‘The Jeffersons’ Revival Delivers Nostalgia — For What?

Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei starred as Archie and Edith Bunker in ABC’s re-creation of All in the Family and The Jeffersons, a live event staged in front of a studio audience and broadcast in TV’s prime time.

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There was a bittersweet quality to ABC’s triumphant two-hour live sitcom special on Wednesday night. At least, for me there was.

On the sweet side, watching talented stars like Jamie Foxx and Woody Harrelson re-create classic scripts from All in the Family and The Jeffersons was a shot of pure, uncut nostalgia. There are few spectacles as entertaining as these guys mugging their ways through impressions of classic characters like George Jefferson and Archie Bunker — in live performance.

For those of us raised on the original stuff — the inspired swagger of Sherman Hemsley as self-made success George; Carroll O’Connor’s vividly authentic, Queens patois as Archie — even the distant echoes evoked by Foxx and Harrelson on ABC’s live special were entertaining. And, of course, Foxx stole the show by improvising his way through an inevitable line flub. (“It’s live,” he said, turning to the audience while his costars struggled to keep straight faces. “Everyone sitting at home … think they TV just messed up.”)

Harrelson actually struggled a bit as Archie; I never quite bought him as a cluelessly bigoted (yet somehow lovable) working-class schlub from Queens. And his labored efforts to make those old-school punch lines sing revealed just how much O’Connor’s grounded performance helped sell the material back in the day.

Marisa Tomei fared much better as well-meaning wife Edith Bunker, smoothing over Archie’s barbs with a manic earnestness very close to the magic Jean Stapleton once managed weekly. Wanda Sykes was earnest, but uncharacteristically subdued as Louise “Weezy” Jefferson.

They, along with a cast of fellow stars, re-created two actual, unchanged scripts from All in the Family and The Jeffersons that originally aired in the 1970s, on sets painstakingly copied from the originals, directed by the great sitcom craftsman James Burrows. Hosted by late-night talker Jimmy Kimmel, who dreamed up this revival, the live event also had the blessing of the TV legend who helped develop both shows: 96-year-old executive producer Norman Lear.

Lear’s benediction came before it all started, delivered while sitting in Archie’s legendary living room chair: “The language and themes from almost 50 years ago can still be jarring today,” he said, as a bit of a warning. “And we are still grappling with many of these same issues.”

It was a loving tribute presented like a Broadway play. So why did watching it make me feel so, well, odd?

Wanda Sykes (from left), Will Ferrell, Kerry Washington and Jamie Foxx — playing characters from The Jeffersons — were among many famous actors tapped for ABC’s primetime live special.

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The two episodes they re-created, “Henry’s Farewell” from All in the Family and “A Friend in Need” from The Jeffersons, centered on a farewell party for George’s brother held at the Bunker home, and an argument between the Jeffersons over whether they should hire a maid.

Part of the problem was the rigidness of the setup. With no changes to the scripts, actors had a tough time delivering a fresh take on their characters. When Archie, Edith, George and Weezy first burst onto TV screens in the early 1970s, no one had seen characters like them on network television. This time, we saw pale imitations through the haze of fond memories.

Frankly, I’m way more interested in seeing Jamie Foxx play a George Jefferson in today’s world than I am in seeing him recreate another actor’s signature character in a way that feels a little too much like an old In Living Color skit.

Also, much as we might despair that the country hasn’t moved far enough on issues of racial equality and fighting prejudice, the fact is: We have changed. As evidence, note that ABC felt the need to insert a lengthy bleep over George Jefferson’s use of the n-word in a scene on Wednesday; that same scene was unbleeped when it originally aired in 1975.

You can grouse that networks are too politically correct these days to air a word contained in quite a few hit rap singles. But back in the 1970s, network TV — the medium of the masses — didn’t seem to care much whether anyone was put off by one of the worst racial slurs in our nation’s history. Changing that attitude sounds like a good thing.

I don’t usually find fulfillment in straight-up TV nostalgia. I prefer the reboots and reinventions of old TV shows that take classic programs in new directions, like Star Trek: Discovery or the new Latinx-centered Party of Five. So even while I was impressed by the scope of ABC’s revival, I was also a bit disappointed. Is the future of network television really going to be so focused on recreating its past?

Still, there were amazing moments Wednesday. Jennifer Hudson was her usual incandescent self, belting out a voice-and-piano version of The Jeffersons‘ theme “Movin’ On Up” to help transition between the two different episodes. Kerry Washington and Will Ferrell were inspired choices to play the interracial couple Helen and Tom Willis. And bringing in Marla Gibbs to reprise her role as the Jeffersons’ maid Florence was a nice touch.

Given that the special was Wednesday’s most-watched show with more than 10 million viewers, and all the goodwill generated by this experiment, I’m sure there will be more classic sitcom revivals in network TV’s future. But I hope there’s also some energy expended on making the new renditions unique and fresh in their own ways, rather than just recreating shows we originally fell in love with because they were so original in the first place.

Patrick Jarenwattananon and Nina Gregory produced and edited this story.

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U.K. Votes For European Parliament, Even As Many Long For The Day Outside The EU

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip May leave her local constituency polling station after voting in the European Parliament elections on Thursday in Sonning, United Kingdom. The prime minister’s Conservative Party is expected to be dealt a blow in the vote.

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British voters are expected to deliver a humiliating defeat to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party in European Parliament elections on Thursday. Many who want Britain to pull out of the European Union are angry with May, who is under heavy pressure to resign, for failing to deliver on the Brexit referendum result nearly three years ago.

Many Brexit voters are also angry with the EU. At political and campaign events across England, voters in their 50s and 60s often complain about the “bullies in Brussels,” who they feel have strong-armed and disrespected the United Kingdom, which was once a global power and fought two wars on the Continent during the last century.

Peggy Reading, a Brexit voter in the county of Lincolnshire, could barely contain her rage. She recalled how Prime Minister May repeatedly returned to Brussels in recent months to ask fellow European leaders for help in getting her EU withdrawal agreement through her own country’s Parliament.

“Absolute humiliation!” said Reading, as her voice cracked with emotion. “Three times now she’s gone back and she’s had to sit outside some door.”

“Can you imagine somebody like Winston Churchill or Maggie Thatcher being told just sit outside in the corridor?” continued Reading, who teaches radio drama at a university about 140 miles north of London. Reading was referring to hard-nosed, iconic Conservative Party prime ministers who were also global leaders. “Yet, she does it, meekly. They’re treating us like muck.”

In this Feb. 12, 1945 file photo, Prime Minister Winston Churchill (left) smokes a cigar while meeting with President Franklin D. Roosevelt (center) and Russian Marshal Josef Stalin, at the Livadia Palace gardens in Yalta.

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While most young people in the U.K. voted in the 2016 referendum to stay in the EU, where they saw opportunities for education and employment, most older voters like Reading wanted out. Among other things, they see a brighter future for Britain free from EU regulations.

May’s failure to negotiate an EU exit deal that British lawmakers will accept enormously frustrates most Brexit voters. Because the U.K. is still inside the European Union, the country must hold an election for representatives to the EU’s legislature, even though voters chose to leave the bloc in 2016. Reading sees all this as just more evidence of her nation’s long slide since its victory in World War II.

“We were brought up by our parents to be proud of this country and we had won the war,” said Reading, who spoke following a meeting last month of Leavers of Lincolnshire, a local chapter of the pro-Brexit community group Leavers of Britain. “We loved it. [Now] it’s gone. It’s gone.”

Travel to other pro-Brexit areas of England and you’ll hear older voters say similar things. Angela Lawrence, a writer, came out last month to Clacton-on-Sea on England’s east coast for the newly formed Brexit Party, which is expected to win big when European election results come out Sunday.

The Brexit Party wants the U.K. to make a clean break with the EU as soon as possible and has vowed to smash Britain’s traditional political structure, which is dominated by May’s Conservatives and the Labour Party. Nigel Farage, the Brexit Party’s leader, has used his seat in the European Parliament as a platform to bash the EU from within.

“This year, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings when we rescued the Continent from the Nazis,” said Lawrence, as she waited for Farage to address the crowd on Clacton Pier. “We mustn’t forget what this country has done for Europe.”

Lawrence said the EU shows no appreciation these days for the sacrifice the United Kingdom made to save Europe during World War II.

“We have laid down our life for the people of the Continent,” she said, “and we deserve a little respect.”

(In fact, many Europeans express gratitude for Britain’s heroics in World War II and are somewhat baffled and saddened that the country is leaving the EU.)

A few voters even suggest that Germany, the largest EU economy, has driven a hard bargain on Brexit to subjugate the United Kingdom.

“My grandfather would’ve said, ‘They couldn’t beat us in the war, so they’ve come through the back door,’ ” said Angie Jinks, a gardener, who lives in the village of Werrington, about two hours east of Birmingham.

Simon Usherwood, who teaches politics at the University of Surrey, in southeastern England, says some older Brexit voters are anxious about Britain’s standing in the world and miss the power the nation once wielded on the world stage. Usherwood paraphrases a famous quote by a former U.S. secretary of state.

“I think that old line of Dean Acheson of ‘losing an empire and not yet finding a role,’ applies now as much as it did back in the ’40s and ’50s,” said Usherwood.

During the 2016 referendum campaign, Brexiteer politicians promised to “take back control” from Brussels, referring to the power to regulate immigration to the U.K., make laws and negotiate trade deals with other countries. The slogan, like “Make America Great Again,” proved to be extremely effective and offered a return to what many Brexit voters saw as a better time.

“This is very much a populist way of thinking, that things used to be great, things will be great, but right now it’s terrible,” said Usherwood. “And you need me to put you back on track.”

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