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Muhammad Ali’s condition now ‘extraordinarily grave’: report

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Former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali was close to death in a Phoenix-area hospital on Friday, a source close to the family said, as speculation swirled about his health.

Ali, one of the best-known figures of the 20th century, was hospitalized this week for a respiratory ailment. Family spokesman Bob Gunnell has said that Ali, 74, was in fair condition, but media reports have said he was in rapidly failing health.

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Asked about Ali’s condition, the source said: “It’s extraordinarily grave. It’s a matter of hours.”

The source, who had spoken with Ali’s wife, Lonnie, added: “It could be more than a couple of hours, but it’s not going to be much more. Funeral arrangements are already being made.”

Gunnell did not respond to repeated requests for comment about Ali’s condition.

Ali has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for more than three decades and has kept a low profile in recent years.

The Radar Online website reported on Friday that Ali had been placed on life support, citing “an insider.”

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The Reuters source close to the family could not comment on that report.

Ali’s last public appearance was in April at the “Celebrity Fight Night” gala in Arizona, a charity that benefits the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center.

At the height of his career, Ali was known for his dancing feet and quick fists and his ability, as he put it, to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

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He held the heavyweight title a record three times, and Sports Illustrated named him the top sportsman of the 20th century.

Nicknamed “The Greatest,” Ali retired from boxing in 1981 with a record of 56 wins, 37 by knockout, and five losses. Ali’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s came about three years after he left the ring.

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Ali, born in Louisville, Kentucky, as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, changed his name in 1964 after his conversion to Islam.

Ali had a show-time personality that he melded with dazzling footwork and great hand speed. His bouts with such fighters as Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier and George Foreman made him an international celebrity like boxing had never seen.

He became a symbol for black liberation during the 1960s as he stood up to the U.S. government by refusing to go into the Army for religious reasons.

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Ali made a surprise appearance at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996, stilling the Parkinson’s tremors in his hands enough to light the Olympic flame.

He also took part in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012, looking frail in a wheelchair. He has been married four times and has nine children.

Ali’s daughter Laila, a former boxer, tweeted a photo of her father kissing her own daughter, Sydney. She thanked supporters for their wishes for Ali, saying, “I feel your love and appreciate it!”

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Additional reporting by Bill Trott; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Sandra Maler)

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Internet celebrates Joy Reid taking MSNBC nighttime anchor slot

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Joy Reid will be the new anchor for MSNBC's 7 PM hour starting July 20, and the internet is celebrating. The veteran journalist has been an MSNBC anchor, host, political correspondent, analyst, and commentator for over six years.

Last month The Wall Street Journal reported Reid was in negotiations with the cable news network for the 7 PM slot, calling her "combative and inquisitive and not afraid to challenge guests." Thursday morning The New York Times announced Reid will take over the slot once held by Chris Matthews.

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Propaganda effort fooled conservative sites into printing op-eds from nonexistent ‘experts’: report

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On Monday, The Daily Beast documented an elaborate Middle Eastern propaganda scheme that tricked a number of right-leaning websites into publishing articles from nonexistent national security "experts."

The scheme, wrote Adam Rawnsley, included "a network of at least 19 fake personas that has spent the past year placing more than 90 opinion pieces in 46 different publications. The articles heaped praise on the United Arab Emirates and advocated for a tougher approach to Qatar, Turkey, Iran and its proxy groups in Iraq and Lebanon."

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Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick will partner with Disney for a series of programs "from the perspective of black and brown communities" including a docuseries on his own life, the company said Monday.

The deal with Kaepernick -- who launched kneeling protests during US national anthems to protest against police brutality and racial injustice -- will span Disney platforms including ESPN, Hulu and Pixar.

It will feature scripted and unscripted shows, including "an exclusive docuseries chronicling Kaepernick's journey" with unseen footage from the past five years, a Disney statement said.

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