Day: March 17, 2017

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Ex-'Power Ranger' star pleads guilty to killing roommate – Woman's burned body found in Vegas is ID'd; man arrested


“Power Rangers Samurai” actor Ricardo Medina has pleaded guilty to killing his roommate with a sword.

Medina, 38, entered a plea Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court to voluntary manslaughter.

He is facing six years in state prison.

Medina had been charged with murder and faced 26 years to life in prison if convicted on that charge.

Prosecutors say Medina stabbed Joshua Sutter in the abdomen with a sword two years ago at their house in Green Valley, a mountain town north of Los Angeles.

The two had argued over Medina’s girlfriend and Medina initially claimed the stabbing was in self defense.

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In addition to his fatal abdominal wound, the autopsy showed Sutter had sustained sharp force injuries, including hand injuries consistent with defensive wounds.

Sutter’s sister Rachel Kennedy told local TV that her brother would have been 38 on Thursday.

Medina played the Red Lion Wild Force Ranger on “Power Rangers Wild Force” in 2002, and he was the voice of Deker on “Power Rangers Samurai” in 2011 and 2012.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Pilot donates life-saving kidney to flight attendant


An Alaska Airlines flight attendant is one step closer to retaking the skies after receiving a life-saving kidney transplant from inside the cockpit. Jenny Stansel’s surgeon told PEOPLE that Alaska Airlines pilot Jodi Harskamp’s donated a kidney immediately began working for the 38-year-old, who was on medical leave after being diagnosed with kidney failure in March 2016.

“We could not be more pleased with the initial outcomes from both Jodi and Jenny’s surgeries,” Dr. Andrew Precht, director of Seattle Swedish Medical Center, told PEOPLE. “Everything went as planned, and as soon as the surgical connections were made, the donor kidney immediately started working. Jodi gave Jenny a new lease on life with a beautiful, healthy kidney.”

A GoFundMe page set up to help cover travel and medical expenses had detailed the run-up to the surgery, which included details about Stansel’s 10-hour daily dialysis regimen.

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“Just last March 10 – one year to the day — was my very last day at work,” Stansel told Q13 Fox ahead of the March 13 transplant. “I had to take a passenger seat on my way home I was so sick.”

Stansel’s kidney failure was brought on by a lupus diagnosis 15 years earlier. She had sent out a company-wide email asking for a volunteer kidney donor who matched her O-positive blood type. Harskamp told Q13 Fox she remembered Stansel handing out flyers and setting up a Facebook page, and decided to volunteer when she discovered how sick she was.

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“There’s a small chance that I will never return to flying if my remaining kidney does not pick up the slack for my removed kidney,” Harskamp, who has been flying with Alaska Airlines for 11 years, told Q13 Fox. “I’ve always said that my job is risk assessment, that’s what I do for a living, and I have determined that the reward in this is far greater than the risk. I’m going to lose a kidney, and she gets to live — it’s a pretty fair trade-off.”

Harskamp, who has two children and is based in Anchorage, Alaska, volunteered to fly to Seattle for pre-op testing and will spend several weeks away from her family for recovery.

“I have so much love for this Super hero!” Stansel, a mother of three, posted on their GoFundMe page.

The pair hope their story inspires others to become a volunteer donor in honor of March’s National Kidney Month. 



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End Bible classes? West Virginia school seeks to dismiss atheist lawsuit


A West Virginia school district being sued for offering an elective Bible class has filed a motion to dismiss the suit brought by an atheist group.

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Mercer County Schools is being sued by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation for offering a course called “Bible in the Schools” since 1939.

The First Liberty Institute, a Texas-based legal firm, filed the motion to dismiss earlier this week on behalf of the school district.

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In their motion, First Liberty argued that the FFRF lawsuit should be dismissed in part because the plaintiffs lack the standing to sue Mercer County Schools.

“The purported harms Plaintiffs allege are merely speculative, resulting from choices the [Plaintiffs] say they may have to make well into the future and related fear of potential ostracism that is grounded only in speculation, not in fact,” read the motion.

In January, the FFRF filed a lawsuit against Mercer County Schools for offering an elective Bible course that has existed in some capacity since 1939.

FFRF filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, Bluefield Division on behalf of an unnamed parent who is raising her child as an atheist.

“This program advances and endorses one religion, improperly entangles public schools in religious affairs, and violates the personal consciences of nonreligious and non-Christian parents and students,” read the lawsuit.

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'Bolivian Schindler' saved some 9,000 lives during Holocaust, papers show


Out of dusty old documents found in a La Paz, Bolivia warehouse has come out the extraordinary story of Mauricio Hochschild, a German immigrant and mining tycoon who helped thousands of Jews escape from the Nazis in the late 30s.

Hailed by the local media as the “Bolivian Schindler,” Hochschild left behind a trove of files and photographs that document his leading role in saving at least 9,000 lives. In many cases he paid for their travel and initial accommodations out of his own pocket.

The discovery is all the more surprising because in his time Hochschild was vilified as a ruthless tycoon.

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“These papers are going to change many things of the Bolivian history; the political ramifications are yet to come,” said Edgar Ramirez, the archive director of the Mining Corporation of Bolivia (Comibol). “Hochschild was the bad guy.”

Hochschild was born in Biblis, western Germany, in 1881 and moved to Bolivia in 1921 lured by his love of mountain climbing.

A Jew himself, he amassed his fortune mostly through tin mining – he is one of Bolivia’s “Barons of Tin” – and became an influential figure in political circles. That’s how in 1938 he persuaded President German Busch to provide especial visas to Jewish migrants who were fleeing Europe amid escalating Nazism. He argued they could contribute to the country’s force labor, especially in the farming sector.

Ramirez said he believes Hochschild had high connections with the Resistance.

“I am convinced that Hochschild was part of the anti-fascist apparatus,” Ramirez told Fox News. “In order to do what he did he had to be a man linked to the resistance movements that were operating around the world.”

CHILD OF ‘BRITAIN’S SCHINDLER’ APPEALS FOR HELP FOR REFUGEES

The documents show Hochschild also placed some of the newcomers in his mining firm and set up schools for the children in La Paz. One handwritten letter on behalf of the children asks Hochschild to expand their facility “in view of the number of children who are here and others who want to come.”  

Organizing and filing the Hochschild documents was a titanic task, Ramirez said, because they had been left exposed to the elements and in complete disarray. He said they were mixed up with garbage and all kinds of unrelated material.

After being moved at least twice throughout the decades, the giant pile of documents was found in a Comibol storage warehouse.

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“When we started rescuing the documentation, everything was mixed: mixed with titles and deeds, with cartons, with trash,” Ramirez recalled. “A selection was made, the material was classified and that is when the find takes place.”

He said the papers show Hochschild created two organizations directly related to the aid effort: the Society for the Protection of Israeli Immigrants (SOPRO), dedicated to obtaining funds for the Jewish families, and the Colonization Society of Bolivia (SOCOBO), which managed an agricultural project in Nor Yungas, where he bought three estates to receive the Jews.

“Was he a charitable man? I have a question mark there because Hochschild is considered the worst of the three ‘Barons of Tin’; they say he was short-tempered, he didn’t pay taxes, he exploited his workforce,” said Ramirez.

The other two mining magnates were Victor Aramayo and Simon Patiño. All three were responsible for over half of global tin production at the time.

Things changed quite drastically for the industry in the mid-40s, when the government enacted a law requiring more tax contribution from mining corporations. Hochschild refused to comply and ended up in prison. After his release in 1944, he left Bolivia for the United States and never returned.

He died in Paris in 1965, by then owner of a worldwide empire still thriving today.

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Rhodes' son: Why I left WWE


Cody Rhodes is wrestling royalty.

The son of wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes spoke to Fox News on why he left the WWE and carrying on his family’s legacy.

Fox News: Did you have any fear of what awaited you on the outside after leaving the WWE?
Cody Rhodes: I reached a point where nothing scares me in this industry mainly because I grew up in it. My earliest memory is 4-years-old getting in a wrestling ring.

Fox News: How would you define Cody Rhodes?
Rhodes:  I’m a second generation professional wrestler. My family, the Rhodes family has been wrestling for 50 odd years. I get to carry the flag now, and I’m just a father-son trying to do what he did. I had several decorated characters within the WWE that I was really proud of, coats of paint that changed that I could show a different side to the audience because I’ve been in front of them since I was 20-years-old, and none of them were necessarily the right one.

Fox News: What was your ultimate goal to achieve by leaving the WWE?
Rhodes:  The goal of leaving was to find myself.

Fox News: When you left the WWE, you created a short list which became the talk of social media. It included opponents which you haven’t had the chance to face yet, tournaments you wanted to be in, among a few other things. Take us back and tell us why you created this?
Rhodes: I think I created the list because I wanted people to know, hey this isn’t talk, some of these matches are already signed, and they’re gonna happen. It’s an insurance policy, it’s my promise. That was my way of saying it’s gonna happen and it’s gonna happen against some of the absolute best that are outside the WWE.

Fox News: In less than a year you were at WrestleMania (WWE), Bound for Glory (IMPACT Wrestling), Final Battle (ROH) and Wrestle Kingdom (New Japan Pro Wrestling) each of the company’s biggest show of the year. The only wrestler to ever do that.
Rhodes: Honestly, I didn’t intend on being at Bound for Glory, Final Battle, Wrestle Kingdom, WrestleMania all in the same calendar year. I said it after my match at Wrestle Kingdom, I said nobody but me and that’s the cocky side of me and a lot of pride and the fact that I was able to do it. I was able to cross some streams in companies that don’t always work together. In this case they allowed it.

Fox News: What makes Ring of Honor different?
Rhodes: Ring of Honor, it’s consistency and it’s tradition and the people that it’s turned out. I mean it’s been a factory for stars that would end up going to NXT (WWE) as the stars they were in Ring of Honor, and it’s fans represent the hardest fan to please. If you’re in front of a Ring of Honor crowd and you suck, they’ll let you know. This was a place for me to find out is Cody Rhodes even worth a d–n and worth all this fuss.

Fox News: Having that freedom to be able to work just about anywhere, why did you choose ROH?
Rhodes: As I got older I realized my dreams are allowed to change, my dream in the wrestling business has changed a bazillion times. You can’t plan it right? It’s like a really good wrestling match if that makes sense, a really good wrestling match is one that yeah maybe you did plan A-Z but within that A-Z there’s magic that you didn’t plan. 



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Celebs react to Trump proposal


President Donald Trump unveiled proposed budget cuts on Thursday that has garnered celebrity reaction on social media.

The proposal called for the elimination of funding for the National Endowment of the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Cooperation for Public Broadcasting, which supports programs, including PBS and NPR.

In turn, the cuts would help provide funds for defense spending.

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Several Hollywood personalities immediately took to Twitter where they spoke out against the proposed budget cuts.

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Trump has not responded to the celebrity reaction.



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Starbucks targets tiny shop


Apparently, Starbucks doesn’t appreciate a well-played pun.

The coffee chain has reportedly sent a letter to the owner of the tiny Star Box Coffee kiosk in London, telling him that he’s infringing on the “trademark rights” of the coffee corporation.

Nasser Kamali, the Iranian refugee who has been running the stand for the last five years, has subsequently covered up the word “star” on his kiosk and on his coffee cups — even though he claims he didn’t name his business after Starbucks.

As he told the Camden New Journal, Kamali is a Marxist, hence the “red star” reference.

“I do believe in Marxism and that is very important to me,” said Kamali, 52. “That is why I had the red star logo on my stickers. I am in a box. It’s my red, star box.”

STARBUCKS NEW SPRINGTIME CUPS ALREADY GENERATING MIXED EMOTIONS

However, Kamali told the Camden New Journal that he isn’t planning to fight Starbucks in court, as he believes he doesn’t have the resources to win.

“They have all the lawyers — and the government — so I just made the changes,” said Kamali.

Starbucks first contacted Kamali last month — via the U.K. law firm of Burges Salmon — by hand-delivering a letter to his kiosk. In it, they claimed that Kamali’s use of the Star Box name could “weaken” the strength of the brand.

As a spokesman for Starbucks further explained to CNJ, “Trademark law is there to protect brand identity. In this instance it was too close to our brand and could lead to such confusion.”

Starbucks has also pursued legal action against similarly named coffee shops in the past. The once brought a lawsuit against a New Hampshire-based coffee shop called Charbucks in (they lost in 2011, and again lost an appeal in 2013), and more recently, the company sent a cease-and-desist letter to Dumb Starbucks, a parody coffee shop opened by a comedian in 2014. (However, as Eater notes, Dumb Starbucks may have actually won their right to use the name under parody law.)

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Still, Kamali isn’t planning to fight this one, but he did send Starbucks a small message by refusing to accept their 300-pound ($370) “goodwill payment” from the company.

“I may be small, but inside I am big,” said Kamali. “I’m not taking their money.”



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Target's new suits: HOT OR NOT


Grab your beach bag — Target has introduced a new line of swimwear for all shapes and sizes of women.

Yahoo! Style reported the company is promoting its new collection with the tagline “suits for every beach body under the sun.” To do so, it’s using a group of models with diverse bodies, including dancer and YouTube star Megan Batoon, Miss Teen USA Kamie Crawford and professional skateboarder Lizzie Armanato.

MODELS’ PIC STIRS CONTROVERSY

Denise Bidot, a plus-size model who has been featured in unretouched images in Lane Bryant ads, is another face of Target’s new campaign, Yahoo! reported.

In a sponsored Instagram post, Bidot shared a photo of herself in a bright pink and blue floral print tankini, writing that she feels “alive and ready to take on the day” after a workout she completed prior to snapping the pic.

“This @Targetstyle suit was the perfect piece to wear,” she wrote in the post, which had garnered 13,000 likes as of Friday morning. “I was able to stay cool and the cut of the suit kept everything in place. Not to mention, I was able to run straight into the water after.”

BLOGGER POSTS UNUSUAL ‘TRANSFORMATION’ PIC

Many of the styles for Target’s new line are mix-and-match, all with the aim of helping women feel confident and comfortable in their swimwear, the company wrote on its site.

“Finding your favorite style suit is important, and we’re all about offering flattering fit and cut options to help guests feel confident in their swimsuits,” Target wrote. “After all, you look your best when you feel your best!”

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Online, Target is receiving praise from people who agree with its new spin on what a “bikini body” should look like.

Check out some of the models’ images below, and tell us, what do you think of the new line?

 



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Amy blames alt-right for woes


Amy Schumer insists people really like her new Netflix special, and claims alt-right Internet trolls are the ones responsible for its bad buzz.

Schumer’s “The Leather Special” debuted last week on Netflix, and as the streaming service’s subscribers are starting to watching it, less-than-stellar reviews have been pouring in.

But the stand-up comic said these reviews aren’t because her special is sub-par. She says its poor reception is a result of a coordinated online campaign from the alt-right.

“The alt right organized trolls attack everything I do,” she said in a lengthy Instagram post. “They organize to get my ratings down.”

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Schumer also slammed “the ‘journalists’ who report on trolls activities as if it’s news” adding that this is “what the current administration wants.”

The 35-year-old said the alt-right organized similar protests against her book, TV show and movies.

“I want to thank them,” she said of the trolls. “It reminds me what I’m saying is effective and bring more interest to my work and their obsession with me keeps me going.”

Schumer also addressed reports that she stole jokes from other comedians for her new Netflix special.

“Call me a thief and I will continue to rise and fight and lead,” she stated. “I know who I am.”

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Schumer did not address the poor reviews she received from TV critics, including an LA Times’ review that said the special was too over-the-top when it came to the R-rated content Schumer is known for.

“‘The Leather Special’ not only relies on… explicit themes, but kicks it all up a notch so there’s more of it — with more frequency and extremities. And as it turns out, that’s not a good thing.”

Newsday’s TV critic gave a similar message, giving the special a C grade, writing that it’s “too much” and “too carnal.”

The Detroit News was a bit more charitable, calling the special “funny but predictable.”

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SNOWFLAKE ALERT Colleges: Yell ‘Ouch!’ over micro-aggressions


Citizens have 911. Employees have the EEOC. Distressed sailors have the Coast Guard.

But what do America’s college students have? Where can they turn when they find themselves outside campus “safe spaces” and suffering a “microaggression”?

Fortunately, the University of Arizona has an answer. It recently distributed a 20-page booklet suggesting to faculty that when a student is victimized by a microaggression the appropriate response should be saying “ouch.” And the correct response for the offender should be saying “oops,” according to the guide.

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“If a student feels hurt or offended by another student’s comment, the hurt student can say ‘ouch.’ In acknowledgement, the student who made the hurtful comment says “oops.” If necessary, there can be further dialogue about this exchange.”

The guide was authored by Jesus Treviño, vice provost of the big taxpayer-funded university, whose salary reportedly is $214,000 per year.

For those unfamiliar with the apparently epidemic scale of microaggression and thus not able to spot such offenses, the booklet offers a definition: Microaggressions are “the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”

The University of Arizona isn’t the first to suggest the “ouch”/”oops” protocol. Iowa State University, among others, has also urged a similar approach.



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