A man who injured himself while trying to cross the border wall from Mexico into the United States died in Border Patrol custody over the weekend.The man, identified only as a 33-year-old from Mexico, was found on July 26 by Border Patrol agents after falling off the wall into an open field in Yuma, Arizona, Customs and Border Protection said in a statement Sunday.He was “immediately rendered aid” in the field, then transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead Saturday.Customs and Border Protection did not clarify details on his injuries“We would like to express ou...
Stevie Wonder headlined a star-studded gala Sunday saluting Motown founder Berry Gordy, folk legend Joni Mitchell and other recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, one of America's highest arts awards -- with the president back in the audience.
Glitzy red carpet events are rare in the US capital, but on Sunday, Hollywood A-listers and Washington politicos flocked to celebrate the careers of Gordy, Mitchell, actress-singer Bette Midler, operatic bass-baritone Justino Diaz and Lorne Michaels, the creator of legendary comedy show "Saturday Night Live."
Joe Biden and his wife Jill sat with the honorees in the Kennedy Center opera house for the gala, marking the first time a sitting president had attended the event in five years -- and the Democratic leader earned a rousing ovation.
Donald Trump did not attend during his presidency, after several of the honored artists threatened to boycott the gala in his first year in office if he were present.
"It is quite nice to see the presidential box once again being occupied," comedian and past honoree David Letterman told the audience to cheers.
Wonder -- one of the many acts discovered by Gordy -- was the final act in the four-hour event to be broadcast on US network CBS on December 22 -- and, due to the magic of TV, he started over when he was tripped up by technical difficulties.
But the audience -- vaccinated and masked under Covid-19 protocols -- didn't mind the short delay, and danced along to a selection of Wonder's biggest hits including "Superstition" and "Higher Ground."
Smokey Robinson, who was discovered by Gordy when he was just a teenager, sang a song he wrote especially for his mentor and friend.
Wonder and Robinson were not the only megawatt talents on hand: Paul Simon serenaded Michaels, Brandi Carlile honored Mitchell and soprano Denyce Graves was among the singers saluting Diaz with excerpts from "Carmen" and "Faust."
A who's who of "Saturday Night Live" stars -- from Jimmy Fallon to Amy Poehler to current cast members Colin Jost, Michael Che and Pete Davidson -- took the stage to pay tribute to Michaels.
Sunday's gala was in fact the Kennedy Center's second set of honors this year, after the 2020 gala was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In May, the center held a more subdued series of smaller, socially distanced events and tributes for the 43rd class of honorees, which included folk icon Joan Baez and Hollywood legend Dick Van Dyke.
Though some of those events were held in person at the performing arts complex, which serves as a living monument to slain president John F. Kennedy, Biden did not attend.
Mitchell, 78, is revered as one of the top songwriters of her generation, with hits including "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Both Sides Now."
Gordy, who just turned 92, revolutionized music with his iconic Motown Records label, launched in 1959 after he borrowed $800 from his family.
He kickstarted the careers of an array of superstars such as Wonder, Robinson, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson.
"I think I'm in a dream... and it's a wonderful dream," Gordy told reporters on the red carpet.
Michaels, 77, has mentored scores of comedians who got their big breaks on "Saturday Night Live," the much-lauded sketch show that has been on the air for more than 40 years.
"He gave me the chance to play in his playground," said Kenan Thompson, who is now the longest-tenured SNL cast member.
Midler, 76, is a showbiz legend with a string of films ("The Rose," "Beaches"), albums and shows ("Fiddler on the Roof," "Hello, Dolly!") on her resume.
Puerto Rican opera singer Justino Diaz graced the world's biggest stages during a long career Samuel Corum AFP
During his decades-long career in opera, the 81-year-old Diaz -- a bass-baritone born in Puerto Rico -- performed on the world's great stages, from the Metropolitan Opera to La Scala, alongside legends such as Beverly Sills and Leontyne Price.
© 2021 AFP
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough ripped a Republican lawmaker who shared a photo of his family decked out in Christmas attire and armed to the teeth with military-style rifles.
The "Morning Joe" co-hosts ran through a weekend's worth of dim-witted and menacing tweets posted by Republican politicians, but Scarborough was particularly disturbed by the photo shared by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY).
"Over the weekend we got a sampling from some of the far-right's finest on the biggest issues in politics," said co-host Mika Brzezinski. "First, on the big lie from Donald Trump who once tweeted that he talked, 'like, really smart,' remember that? On Sunday, he either finally admitted he lost the 2020 election or he called himself stupid, releasing a statement that read, quote, 'anybody does not think there wasn't massive election fraud in the 2020 presidential election is either very stupid or very corrupt.'"
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) tweeted a thread comparing the coronavirus to cancer, and Scarborough called her "extraordinarily simple," and he then turned his attention to Massie's "gun fetish," as Brzezinski described the family photo.
"If you go back to all of these things, and of course, it's all a big windup, just looking at the weekend how we are seeing, especially Kevin McCarthy's house delegation, go more extreme, more hateful," Scarborough said.
"Here I find -- I don't even say the guy's name because I don't want to give him more credence -- I had to hear for decades people having to yap on and on about a war on Christmas," Scarborough continued, "and, of course, it's like a war on masculinity. If you were a Christian and you are concerned and somebody put 'Xmas' up somewhere and there is going to be 87 segments on that, it's not much of a faith, is it? You don't have that strong of a faith in Jesus Christ if that shakes you. That really has nothing to do with Christianity any more than all of this, all of this garbage we are seeing here like the war on Christmas."
"You want a war or Christmas?" he added. "You look at that picture, again, the picture I don't want to show and the picture I feel sorry for the guy's family, so I don't want to show their faces. Nothing has been done over the past year by city councils that really does more violence to the essence of what Christmas celebrates than that picture. It comes of course the party that's been whining about a war on Christmas for decades that drive up ratings or whatever or trying to get votes. Imagine that. It's hard for me, too. These are such bizarre times."
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Afghanistan's Taliban government on Sunday rejected condemnation by Western nations over dozens of alleged "summary killings" of former security force personnel documented by rights groups since the Islamists returned to power.
The US, other Western nations and allies on Saturday said they were "deeply concerned" by allegations by Human Rights Watch and others that point to "serious human rights abuses".
Alleged summary killings and enforced disappearances "contradict" an amnesty declared by the Taliban for former security force personnel after the Islamists defeated a Western-backed regime and retook control of the country in mid-August, the State Department said.
The European Union, Australia, Britain, Japan and others also put their names to the statement.
But the Taliban's Interior Ministry on Sunday rejected both the Western rebuke and rights groups' allegations.
"These reports and claims are not based on evidences," spokesman Qari Sayed Khosti said in a video statement released by the Taliban. "We reject such claims."
"We have some cases where some former ANDSF members were killed but they have been killed because of personal rivalries and enmities," he said, referring to the now-defunct Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.
Many ex-regime security personnel "who had martyred hundreds of mujahideen and civilians are living peacefully" in the country on the basis of the general amnesty the Taliban granted, he added.
'Used screenings to execute'
HRW on November 30 released a report that it says documents the summary execution or enforced disappearance of 47 former members of the ANDSF, other military personnel, police and intelligence agents "who had surrendered to or were apprehended by Taliban forces" from mid-August through October.
The Taliban's return came some 20 years after they were driven out by US forces who toppled a government that earned outrage for its brutal treatment of women, failure to uphold human rights and harsh interpretation of Islam.
Today's Taliban leaders, keen to gain international respectability, have pledged their regime will be different.
But in its report HRW said Taliban leaders have directed surrendering security forces to register with authorities in order to be screened for ties to certain military or special forces units, and to receive a letter guaranteeing their safety.
"The Taliban have used these screenings to detain and summarily execute or forcibly disappear individuals within days of their registration, leaving their bodies for their relatives or communities to find," HRW said.
Calling for an investigation into these incidents, the joint statement released by the State Department said: "We will continue to measure the Taliban by their actions."
"We underline that the alleged actions constitute serious human rights abuses and contradict the Taliban's announced amnesty," the US-led group of nations said, as they called on Afghanistan's new rulers to ensure the amnesty is enforced and "upheld across the country and throughout their ranks."
The Taliban demanded that the claims be backed by evidence.
"If they have documents and evidences they should share it with us," Khosti said, adding that falsely "tagging personal enmities" onto actions by the Taliban authorities "is unjust".
Washington held talks with Taliban officials earlier this week, the second round of discussions since US forces left the country at the end of August.
At the talks, in Doha, US officials urged the hardline Islamist group to provide access to education for women and girls across the country.
It also "expressed deep concern regarding allegations of human rights abuses", a US spokesman said.
Cut off from billions of dollars in aid provided to the previous regime, Afghanistan's new rulers -- designated Specially Designated Global Terrorists by the US -- are grappling with an insurgency by a division of the Islamic State and are struggling to feed millions of people as Winter descends.