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Military Looks to Reinvent the Microchip for the AI Era…





As conventional microchip design reaches its limits, DARPA is pouring money into the specialty chips that might power tomorrow’s autonomous machines.


The coming AI revolution faces a big hurdle: today’s microchips.

It’s one thing to get a bunch of transistors on an integrated circuit to crunch numbers, even very large ones. But what the brain does is far more difficult. Processing vast amounts of visual data for use by huge, multi-cellular organism is very different from the narrow calculations of conventional math. The algorithms that will drive tomorrow’s autonomous cars, planes, and programs will be incredibly data-intensive, with needs well beyond what conventional chips were ever designed for. This is one reason for the hype surrounding quantum computing and neurosynaptic chips.

That challenge has a sister predicament: the end of Moore’s Law. The integrated circuit revolution that gave birth to the modern computer, smartphone, and basically all of Silicon Valley is in its twilight. In the 1960s, Gordon Moore observed that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits was doubling roughly 18 months. That won’t be true after 2020, according to Robert Colwell, formerly of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA

That poses a big problem for the Defense Department. In 2014, Defense One asked DARPA director Arati Prabhakar about it:

“There’s a $300 billion-a-year global semiconductor industry that cares deeply about the answer of what comes next,” Prabhakar said. Apple, for example, is said to be working on a processor devoted specifically to AI-related tasks. But DARPA has money in the game as well, The magic of the integrated circuit — the reason why it will be so hard to replace — is that it was “a computational unit that you could use to do the broadest possible class of problems,” she said. The way forward will be building chips for specific purposes. “If you’re willing to work on specialized classes of problems, you can actually get a lot more out of specialized architectures,” she said. “Special architectures will give us many more steps forward.”

Bottom line: there is no silver-bullet replacement for the integrated circuit on the horizon. But you could achieve something Moore’s Law-like by creating chips that could crunch lots of a specific type of data. Some of these already exist; they’re called application-specific integrated circuit chips, or ASICs.

On Wednesday, DARPA announced several new next-generation chip design initiatives meant to build off that approach.

One, Software Defined Hardware, seeks “a hardware/software system that allows data-intensive algorithms to run at near ASIC efficiency without the cost, development time or single application limitations associated with ASIC development.”

A second program, Domain-Specific System on a Chip, takes a dual approach, letting architects “mix and match general purpose, special purpose (e.g., ASICs), and hardware accelerator coprocessors, as well as memory and [input/output] elements, into easily programmed [system on a chip] for applications within specific technology domains.”

In many ways, the premise of the program comes again from Moore’s 1965 paper. In this case, it’s his observation that, eventually, “the matching and tracking of similar components in integrated structures will allow the design of differential amplifiers of greatly improved performance.”

“With an eye toward the times we now live in, he laid out the technical directions to explore when the conditions under which scaling will be the primary means for advancement are no longer met,” DARPA program managers  observed in the Broad Agency Announcement for “Page Three Investments” — an allusion to the actual page in Moore’s paper where the ideas first appear.

The two programs join several others in the Electronics Resurgence Initiative, a $216 million effort to create  chip designs for 2030 to 2050.



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Worst in Nearly Two Decades…


The credits have rolled on Hollywood’s worst summer in a decade, closing out with a dismal Labor Day weekend that was the first in a generation without a big, new movie opening in wide release.

The summer drew a little more than $3.8 billion in sales, the first time the season’s tally has dipped below the $4 billion mark since 2006, according to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at researcher ComScore Inc. The holiday weekend generated about $99.5 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters from Friday through Monday, the least since 1998, according to Comscore data.

The last time Hollywood studios didn’t have a big Labor Day release was 1992, and the absence of a new film this weekend put a capstone on what went wrong during the usually prosperous summer season. Studios spread their big budget pictures across the calendar this year, and much of what they did offer from May to September — new installments of ongoing serials — disappointed fans.

“Some comedies didn’t perform as expected and there were some great movies that didn’t resonate here, although they did better internationally,” Dergarabedian said by phone Sunday. “All it takes are one or two movies to harm the bottom line in a profound way. ”

The domestic box office is down about 6 percent year to date compared with a year earlier, according to ComScore.

The holdover picture “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. led the box office for a third time, generating $13.4 million through Monday, according to ComScore. It was forecast to generate $7.1 million from Friday to Sunday and $9.1 million through the extended holiday weekend, according to analysts at Box Office Mojo.

The biggest film opening this weekend was a re-release of Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” which opened in 901 theaters to celebrate the science fiction film’s 40th anniversary, according to ComScore. The film was expected to take in $2.3 million for Friday through Monday.

The weekend also saw the debut of “Tulip Fever,” a period drama from Weinstein Co. featuring Alicia Vikander, and the novel release of the first two episodes of Marvel Entertainment.’s “The Inhumans” on Imax screens. It had been planned as a film but was instead made into a TV show. ABC will premiere the series in the fall.

Among other returning films, Warner Bros.’ “Annabelle: Creation” returned to place second with $9.3 million. It had been forecast to generate $5.1 million over three days and $6.7 million over four days, according to Box Office Mojo.

That puts it on track to be one of the few sequels this summer to beat its predecessor, according to Gitesh Pandya at Box Office Guru.

While sales were harmed by the lack of a new opening movie this weekend, Dergarabedian is expecting an improvement in the coming months, kicked off by Warner Bros.’ release of “It,” a horror thriller based on the Stephen King novel of the same name.

“The good news is we have ‘It’ this week, and then movies such as ‘The Lego Ninjago Movie,’ ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ and ‘Blade Runner 2049’ to come,” he said. “We are going to make up a lot of ground in the next three months.”

— With assistance by Megan Durisin, and Sally Bakewell



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NEW YORK CITY OF HATE: Tourist stabbed by knife-wielding homeless man in Columbus Circle…



A tourist snapping photos was stabbed in the back in Columbus Circle on Sunday afternoon by an apparently homeless man.


The victim, Martus Martins-Machado, 23, was standing with his luggage in front of Trump International Hotel on Central Park West about 1:30 p.m. when he was attacked, police sources said.


“We saw the blood and the shirt cut,” said witness Ahmed Gad, a street vendor. “The man who stabbed him walked away slowly and took off his hat.”


Medics brought the tourist to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell with non-life-threatening wounds, according to authorities.

Subway stabbing victim who battled mugger hailed for his bravery

Police said they were still hunting for the knife-wielding attacker.

Police said they were still hunting for the knife-wielding attacker.

(Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)


“He said he had a flight to catch at 6 to Rome,” added Gad.


“It happened in a second,” said witness Ahmed Maher, 30. “After he got stabbed, he was just standing there. The cut was 3 or 4 inches deep. There was a lot of blood.”


Police said they were still hunting for the knife-wielding attacker.

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WSJ Editor Admonishes Reporters Over Trump Coverage…


A copy of Mr. Baker’s emails was reviewed by The New York Times.

Several phrases about Mr. Trump that appeared in the draft of the article reviewed by Mr. Baker were not included in the final version published on The Journal’s website.

The draft, in its lead paragraph, described the Charlottesville, Va., protests as “reshaping” Mr. Trump’s presidency. That mention was removed.

The draft also described Mr. Trump’s Phoenix speech as “an off-script return to campaign form,” in which the president “pivoted away from remarks a day earlier in which he had solemnly called for unity.” That language does not appear in the article’s final version.

Contacted about the emails on Wednesday, a Wall Street Journal spokeswoman wrote in a statement: “The Wall Street Journal has a clear separation between news and opinion. As always, the key priority is to focus reporting on facts and avoid opinion seeping into news coverage.”

In February, Mr. Baker fielded tough questions at an all-hands staff meeting about whether the newspaper’s reporting on Mr. Trump was too soft. Mr. Baker denied that notion, and he suggested that other newspapers had abandoned their objectivity about the president; he also encouraged journalists unhappy with the Journal’s coverage to seek employment elsewhere.

But apprehensiveness in the newsroom has persisted. This month, Politico obtained and published a transcript of a White House interview with Mr. Trump conducted by Mr. Baker and several Journal reporters and editors. Unusually for an editor in chief, Mr. Baker took a leading role in the interview and made small talk with Mr. Trump about travel and playing golf.

When Ivanka Trump, the president’s older daughter, walked into the Oval Office, Mr. Baker told her, according to the transcript, “It was nice to see you out in Southampton a couple weeks ago,” apparently referring to a party that the two had attended.

The Wall Street Journal is owned by the media magnate Rupert Murdoch, who speaks regularly with Mr. Trump and recently dined with the president at the White House.

Continue reading the main story



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Pigs saved from fire served as sausage to rescuing firefighters…


A British farmer thanked firefighters who rescued a litter of piglets and two sows from a barn fire in February by giving them sausages made out of the animals, according to local reports. 

Farmer Rachel Rivers thanked the Pewsey fire station with sausages from the pigs they rescued six months ago when a barn on her farm in England caught fire, the BBC reported. 

Rivers told the BBC she promised the firefighters she would bring them some sausage from the pigs, which were reared for meat. 

“I gave those animals the best quality of life I could ever give until the time they go to slaughter, and they go into the food chain,” she said.

The Pewsey fire station shared photos of the sausages, which have since been deleted, and thanked Rivers for the meat, according to the BBC. 

USA TODAY has reached out to the Pewsey fire station for comment. 

 



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JUDGE JUDY Unleashed In Leaked Deposition: 'Pay Me!'


If you think Judy Sheindlin is out of this world on Judge Judy and deserves every penny of the mammoth $47 million a year in salary she gets, wait until you hear what she had to say in a deposition. In a transcript obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Sheindlin sounds off on everything from the coup during the first season that she felt powerless to prevent to her current status as television’s top money-maker. Regarding CBS, she says, “Their back’s to the wall.”

Her colorful testimony comes in a lawsuit brought by Rebel Entertainment Partners, which claims to have been denied profits thanks to creative accounting by CBS and Big Ticket Television. Specifically, in a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in March 2016, Rebel objects to the way Sheindlin’s compensation is structured so that after deductions, net profits on Judge Judy are wiped out. The lawsuit also takes issue with how the syndicated show is licensed to CBS affiliates and why Rebel is not seeing money from the Sheindlin-created series Hot Bench.

Rebel is the successor-in-interest to the talent agency that allegedly packaged the show. For whatever work it did in the mid-1990s, it’s entitled to a 5 percent share of net profits.

CBS and Big Ticket, in summary adjudication papers filed this month, don’t think much of that work.

“Rebel did not conceive of, develop, or create Judge Judy,” states a brief. “Rebel has never financed, produced, sold, licensed, distributed, exhibited, or marketed Judge Judy. Rebel’s only connection with Judge Judy was its representation of three original show producers in 1995. For this, Rebel has collected nearly $20 million in upfront commission and back-end participation payments. Indeed, Rebel has received more than $1.1 million in payments in the year since it filed the Complaint in this action.”

The chief argument from CBS is that Rebel’s deal doesn’t allow the agency to challenge production cost amounts. CBS’ lawyers say Rebel can object to production cost types, but that the discretion on what to pay the show’s star is something reserved for the producers.

“Rebel cannot dispute that the salary paid to Judge Sheindlin was the salary necessary to keep Judge Judy on the air, and, ironically, the salary necessary for Rebel to continue to earn millions of dollars in upfront commissions that would disappear were the show to end,” continues the defendants’ summary adjudication brief.

Is paying Sheindlin all that salary really necessary? Well, that’s where her deposition comes into play.

In July 2016, Sheindlin was videotaped giving testimony. What she said hasn’t been revealed publicly until now.

During questioning, Sheindlin discussed how she went from being a supervising judge in New York family court to becoming a TV star. It was in late 1994 or early 1995 when Sheindlin says she got a call from producer Sandi Spreckman, who worked with another producer named Kaye Switzer and who had seen a piece on her on CBS’ 60 Minutes. Spreckman asked whether Sheindlin had ever thought of becoming a television judge.

“I remember that conversation because it was a life-altering conversation for me,” testified Sheindlin. “I said as a matter of fact I did. I thought I would make a great TV judge and I know that Joe Wapner had just gone off the air. Little did I realize that the reason they were making this call is because they were both unemployed because People’s Court had gone off the air…”

Sheindlin then recounted her Hollywood courtship from producer Larry Lyttle and others with all sorts of details down to the drink — a Diet Coke with lemon — she had during meetings and the hotel near Universal’s studio she stayed at (“I thought I’d died and went to heaven, it actually had a little tiny room in addition to a bedroom.”) During the deposition, she continually referred to Spreckman and Switzer as “the girls” and expressed skepticism about those pitching her. For example, the agent for the host of The People’s Court? She told him, “I don’t know you from a hole in the wall, so I’m not certainly binding myself to you.”

Told by Lyttle that she needed to give an answer within 24 hours to a proposed deal for a pilot, Sheindlin says she looked for representation. She retained her entertainment lawyer — Nancy Rose — after a recommendation from Laurie and Larry David, the latter being of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm fame. Sheindlin says she’s related to them through marriage. (Reportedly, an upcoming episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm features star David as a plaintiff in the Judge Judy courtroom.)

After intense negotiations, Big Ticket made its final offer. Sheindlin doesn’t remember the name of the company’s lawyer (“I think he’s no longer vertical on this earth”).

She recalls her response to the offer: ‘If the girls are happy with their deals, if that’s their last offer, it’s three and a half times as much as I’m making now as a family court judge — I’ll take it.’

The pilot was made. The show was sold. “The girls finally realized the possibility of getting the brass ring,” testified Sheindlin.

Except that’s not exactly true. When she got back to New York, she got a frantic call from Switzer, who had been fired and escorted off by security.

“At that time I really didn’t know I had the power to say, ‘You can’t fire the girls,’ to say to Larry Lyttle, ‘You can’t fire the girls. If you fire the girls, I’m not working,'” continues Sheindlin. “So I did what I was supposed to do contractually. I showed up for work the next week. The girls left the show sometime in late ’95, early ’96. Actually, the last time I saw the girls is when I testified on their behalf in a lawsuit. I’ve had limited communication with them.”

Judge Judy has become an enormous success — and now Rebel demands what it says is its rightful piece. Rebel is run by Richard Lawrence. There’s obviously some bad blood between the two that’s festered for years that few knew about.

“I haven’t seen him or heard from him in over 21 years,” said Sheindlin in her testimony about Lawrence. “I think I said something like for him to complain about my salary when he’s made … 17 million dollars … for what was perhaps two, three hours’ worth of business, that, to me, is obscene. Especially since it has always been my view that Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Lyttle were in collusion right from the beginning, just as Mr. Lyttle was with Fred Fenster to screw the girls. … I don’t think he can ever suggest that he represented me, and if he did represent these two women, he did such an atrocious job as an agent in representing them, because while he made tens of millions of dollars, I had to give Kaye Switzer money several years ago because she couldn’t pay her rent.”

That’s not all she has to say about the agent.

“Mr. Lawrence should actually be kissing this right in Macy’s window because my contract with CBS for more than a decade now does not include a last look, which means the following,” she said. “Which means they can’t match another offer, which means I can produce this show myself for decades. I choose not to do that because of my age and because of the fact that I like the uncomplicated life I lead.”

Sheindlin said someone once wisely told her that she was leaving $20 million a year on the table by not producing Judge Judy herself.

She responded, “How much can you eat?” (Besides her enormous salary, she recently sold the Judge Judy library to CBS in a deal that was likely north of $200 million.)

Sheindlin testified that if she ever decided to produce the show herself, Lawrence would be “getting bupkis.”

“It’s very important for you to know, because part of your complaint is that CBS conspired with me to deprive Mr. Lawrence of his backend profit,” Sheindlin added in testimony. “CBS had no choice but to pay me what I wanted because otherwise I could take it wherever I wanted to take it or do it myself.”

Sheindlin says that every three years, she sits down for a renegotiation with CBS and brings along a card with her demands. Sometimes, she wants a bump for the crew who work on Judge Judy. Sometimes, it’s something different. But there’s always the salary.

“And we go to the Grill on the Alley with the president of the company,” says the tough-minded judge about CBS. “We sit across the table, and I hand him the envelope and I say, ‘Don’t read it now, let’s have a nice dinner. Call me tomorrow. You want it, fine. Otherwise, I’ll produce it myself.’ That’s the negotiation.”

“The only one who tried something a little bit different was John Nogawski,” continued Sheindlin, referring to the former president of CBS TV Distribution. “John Nogawski came to the meeting at the Grill on the Alley, and I handed him my envelope, and he said, ‘Judy, I have my own envelope.’ And I said, ‘I don’t want to look at it.’ He said, ‘Why not? Maybe it’s more than what’s in your envelope.’ And I said, ‘Well, John, if I look at your envelope, it’s a negotiation. This isn’t a negotiation.’ And he put his envelope away and they gave me what I wanted; not a whole thing, not 30 pages, three things, whatever it was, done. So to suggest that the largest profit participant, which is CBS, would pay me willingly more money is so ludicrous. Their back’s to the wall.”

Sheindlin has come a long way from the time she couldn’t stick up for her girls fired on Judge Judy. Here she is in an imaginary discussion with CBS:

“You have corporate stockholders to respond to,” she testified. “I have nobody except my grandchildren. You’re going to tell me you’re going to close down my show because you will be making less money this year than you made last year if you double my salary or if you give me another 10 million dollars per year. You won’t. We’re just going to be partners. Because after almost a decade, that’s the way it should be.”

Her half-hour response to just one question from an attorney concludes in dynamic fashion.

She says, “They pay me the money that they do because they have no choice. They can’t find another one. They’ve tried to find another Judy. If they find another Judy, good for them. So far they haven’t. … And until they do, they have their local news on all their O&Os [owned-and-operated stations]. They have international, which we’re involved with the — the Judy program is all over the world, and even though they had to take a deep breath, they paid the money because they know otherwise. I’d take the same people with me that are producing the show now and I’d go and do it myself.”

In response to CBS’ summary adjudication motion, plaintiff’s attorney Bryan Freedman calls it “laughable,” asking, “Isn’t it ironic that CBS waited to file this motion until after it agreed to pay Judge Scheindlin over $95 million for the Judge Judy library – in addition to her salary of $45 million?”

“As to the argument attempting to eliminate my client’s claim for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing – i.e., by stating that CBS had a right to set Judy’s salary at any amount they wanted – that is an insult to every profit participant who has ever been involved in a show with CBS,” he adds. “By providing Judy Scheindlin with a $45 million salary and essentially forcing profit participants to pay for it by eliminating their backend, CBS’ conduct is clearly in bad faith and completely inconsistent with customary practice in the television industry. If a court allows CBS to force their profit participants to pay for the outrageous salaries of its talent, be forewarned that no one should ever do business with CBS.”

More soon about this dispute.



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Norman Lear Making NBC Aging Sitcom 'GUESS WHO DIED'…


The network has handed out a sizable pilot-production commitment to the long-gestating project.

Four decades after Sanford and Son ended its six-season run, legendary TV producer Norman Lear is returning to NBC.

The network has handed out a sizable pilot-production commitment to Lear’s long-gestating comedy Guess Who Died. Lear and prolific producer Peter Tolan (Rescue Me) will co-write the script and exec produce the single-camera comedy.  

The project, which Lear has been championing for more than seven years, is described as a humorous and inspiring look at the shared joys and challenges we all experience at any stage of life. NBC notes the potential series is inspired by Lear, 95, and his secret to longevity: to continue learning and growing — but especially when society expects you to slow down. It’s based on Lear’s personal experiences and will be told in partnership with Tolan’s authentic and irreverent voice.

Read more: Norman Lear, Creative Until You Die

Sony Pictures Television Studio, Tolan’s studio-based The Cloudland Co. and Lear’s Act III Productions will produce. Lear, Tolan and Act III head of production and development Brent Miller will exec produce.

Should Guess Who Died move to series, it would be Lear’s second show currently on the air, joining Netflix’s One Day at a Time reboot, which is now in production on season two.

Lear has frequently discussed Guess Who Died publicly. He most recently organized a table read for it at the Austin Film Festival last year — featuring June Squibb, among others — that was recorded by CBS Sunday Morning. (Watch below.)

The New York Times also produced a documentary short following Lear’s efforts to get the potential show on the air. (Watch below.)

“I think it may have sold the show because it attracted a tremendous amount of interest, including a couple of sources that want to put it on,” Lear told IndieWire earlier this year of the attention placed on Guess Who Died.

All told, Lear has produced more than 30 TV series including All in the Family (which won four Emmys), The Jeffersons, One Day at a Time and Good Times. On the feature side, he earned an Oscar nomination for 1967’s Divorce American Style, as well as 1987’s The Princess Bride.

Sony TV-based Tolan, meanwhile, counts Outsiders, The Larry Sanders Show and Murphy Brown among his credits. He is repped by CAA and Schreck Rose.

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UPDATE: Trumps Skip Kennedy Center Honors Amid Boycotts…


If you had been hoping to see Norman Lear and Donald Trump face off at the Kennedy Center Honors in December, the former Celebrity Apprentice host just dashed your dreams and likely avoided a very uncomfortable confrontation of sorts.

“The President and First Lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction,” coldly announced the White House early in the AM today regarding the 40th Honors. “First Lady Melania Trump, along with her husband President Donald J. Trump, extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments,” the fleeing statement added.

The White House had nothing further to say on Saturday on the matter when pressed by media accompanying Trump at his working vacation in Bridgewater, N.J. Past presidents like Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Bush Senior and Ronald Reagan haven’t hidden away from the ceremony, even when they or their policies may have been counter to what honorees believed.

For their part, Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein and President Deborah Rutter tried to put the best spin they could on the whole fiasco. “In choosing not to participate in this year’s Honors activities, the administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the honorees,” the duo said on Saturday after the White House said the Trumps wouldn’t be coming. “We are grateful for this gesture.”

However, being that the current President of the United States avoids most of the big cities in the country, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the United Kingdom and Democrats for fear of meeting people who disagree with him, today’s announcement or “gesture” doesn’t really come as a surprise. Even less so less than a day after every single member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned in outrage over Trump’s repeatedly divisive remarks about the violent and fatal demonstration by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia that started on August 10. If you hadn’t heard, Friday also saw Trump’s chief strategist Steven Bannon get pink slipped out of the Executive Mansion.

Alas, even with all that, the Kennedy Center Honors event itself was fraying and the traditional pleasantries retreating to partisan and personal positions.

Norman Lear

All In The Family producer Lear has already said that he would probably not attend the customary White House reception for honorees.  “I’m not sure I want to visit a White House that has given such a cold shoulder to culture and the arts,” the TV icon told Deadline earlier this month.

Fellow honoree Carmen de Lavallade said this week that she would accept the award but not step inside Trump’s White House for any pre-hootenanny schmoozing. “In light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our current leadership is choosing to engage in, and in keeping with the principles that I and so many others have fought for, I will be declining the invitation to attend the reception at the White House,” the acclaimed dancer and choreographer noted on August 17.

Also a Kennedy Center Honors recipient this year, Gloria Estefan has said she will go to the White House to talk immigration with the Deporter-in-Chief. Long time Trump pal Lionel Richie says he’ll be in the house while LL Cool J hasn’t indicated either way what his plans are right now for the December events.

Right now, Kennedy Center Honors medallions are still scheduled to be presented on December 2, the night before the Gala, at a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State and ex-EXXON-Mobil boss Rex Tillerson. The event the next day will be filmed for broadcast on CBS as a two-hour primetime special the day after Christmas – with or without Scrooge Trump.



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Man stabbed after haircut gets him mistaken for neo-Nazi…


This Colorado man is avowedly not a neo-Nazi.

But he believes his long-on-top, buzzed-on-the-sides haircut got him mistaken for one — and nearly stabbed to death by a confused anti-fascist.

Joshua Witt, 26, escaped his brush with hairdo-doom with a defensive slice to the hand and three stitches.
“Apparently, my haircut is considered a neo-Nazi statement,” he told The Post Saturday, as his account on Facebook garnered 20,000 shares.

Witt says he’d just pulled in to the parking lot of the Steak ’n Shake in Sheridan, Colo., and was opening his car door.

“All I hear is, ‘Are you one of them neo-Nazis?’ as this dude is swinging a knife up over my car door at me,” he said.

“I threw my hands up and once the knife kind of hit, I dived back into my car and shut the door and watched him run off west, behind my car.

“The dude was actually aiming for my head,” he added.

“I was more in shock because I was just getting a milkshake.”

Witt says he has no tattoos or regalia that would finger him for a fascist. His pals are messaging him on Facebook with the only rationale they can come up with: “They say it’s my haircut.”

He’s thinking of changing his look, he says.



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US-SKorea war games start Monday as Pyongyang warns of 'catastrophe'…


Are tensions cooling in the Korean Peninsula? The United States and South Korea will find out Monday, when the two allies are scheduled to start joint military exercises that are known to anger North Korea, sometimes triggering a show of force.

This year’s war games come at a particularly delicate moment. There have been exchanges of war rhetoric between President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has further complicated the situation, by stating in an interview there’s “no military option” in North Korea while floating a possible deal with Pyongyang that would leave Seoul hanging.

Amid all this back and forth, the U.S. and South Korean military will simulate warfare with North Korea from Aug. 21 to 31, well aware that North Korea could respond with another missile test.

“Over the course of the next two weeks I expect tensions to escalate,” said Scott A. Snyder, a Korea specialist with the Council on Foreign Relations who previously was the Asia Foundation’s representative in Seoul. “This is always a sensitive issue, but it is more hair-trigger as the North Koreans are very sensitive to the like additional nuclear-capable aircraft flyovers.”

The United States says biannual exercises are defensive in nature, but North Korea and China have long criticized them as a provocation and an affront to regional security.

“There certainly will be some reaction,” said J.D. Williams, a retired Marine colonel and defense policy researcher at the RAND Corporation in California. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if North Korea conducted some kind of missile launch — not a test but a defiant demonstration of might.

North Korea last week threatened to fire four missiles toward Guam, a U.S. territory, a rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s “fire and fury” remarks of Aug. 8. North Korea’s Kim later backed off that threat, saying he’d watch “the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” before deciding on the launch, a decision that Trump quickly tweeted was “very wise and well reasoned.”

The exchange suggested that cooler heads were prevailing in the latest U.S. standoff with North Korea. But next week’s war games could rekindle hostilities. On Thursday, North Korean state media declared that the military exercises will “further drive the situation on the Korean Peninsula into a catastrophe.”

Held every fall in South Korea, the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian war games are the world’s largest computerized command and control exercise. Some 30,000 U.S. soldiers and more than 50,000 South Korean troops usually take part, along with hundreds of thousands of first responders and civilians, some practicing for a potential chemical weapons attack.

The exercise, along with one in March, often triggers anti-war protests in South Korea and condemnation from China. While Chinese President Xi Jinping has been noticeably cool toward Kim Jong Un, and has been critical of North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, China has long wanted the United States to shrink its military footprint in Asia, including some 12 bases in South Korea and Japan.

Over the course of the next two weeks I expect tensions to escalate

Scott A. Snyder, Council on Foreign Relations

In an editorial Monday, China’s Global Times newspaper, an arm of the Communist Party’s People’s Daily, lambasted the decision by the United States and South Korea to go ahead with Monday’s exercises.

“The drill will definitely provoke Pyongyang more, and Pyongyang is expected to make a more radical response,” the newspaper said. “If South Korea really wants no war on the Korean Peninsula, it should try to stop this military exercise.”

North Korea has been known to react strongly during the biannual war games. In 2014, the north fired off scud missiles during the March exercises held by the U.S.-South Korean command, called Foul Eagle.

During the 2015 Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercises, North Korea and South Korea exchanged artillery and rocket fire over their border. That exchange came after two South Korean soldiers were maimed stepping on land mines in the Demilitarized Zone. South Korea accused North Korean soldiers of sneaking across the border and planting the land mines.

China and Russia have been urging the United States to consider a “freeze for freeze” agreement to reduce tensions. In such a deal, Pyongyang would agree to suspend its tests of missiles and nuclear weapons, and Washington and Seoul would agree to suspend large-scale military exercises.

U.S. military experts say such a deal would give a lopsided advantage to North Korea, which could continue its military training even as the U.S.-South Korea exercises were suspended. “It is hard to imagine why the United States would accept that, because of the vulnerability it would create,” said Bruce Bennett, a senior defense researcher at RAND.

In a media briefing on Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the United States will continue to hold joint exercises with South Korea.

The next day, the administration’s Korea plans were rocked by quotes attributed to Bannon, the White House Chief Strategist. In an interview with the American Prospect, Bannon said he might consider a deal in which North Korea suspended its nuclear buildup with verifiable inspections and the United States removed its troops from the peninsula.

The comments come as many in South Korea are uncertain about Washington’s commitment to the 64-year old U.S.-South Korean alliance. As McClatchy reported last month, numerous South Korean lawmakers support their country developing its own nuclear weapons program, to counter the threat from the north.

South Korea has two major concerns with the Trump administration. One is a question about commitment. The other is the potential for Trump to launch a preemptive military strike on North Korea without consulting Seoul, which would bear the brunt of Pyongyang’s response.

On Tuesday, South Korean President Moon Jae In sent a blunt warning to the White House. “No one should be allowed to decide on a military action on the Korean Peninsula without South Korean agreement,” Moon said in a televised speech.

On Thursday, after meeting with Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Moon said he’d been assured South Korea would be consulted before any military action is taken.



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