Trans Community Tweets Their Chucks To Honor Chelsea Manning’s Freedom

Chelsea Manning shared a touching photo on Instagram on Wednesday, the same day she was released from prison.

The simple photo features a shot of black Converse Chuck All-Stars and boasts the caption: ?First steps of freedom!!?

First steps of freedom!! . . #chelseaisfree

A post shared by Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea87) on

The photo, which received over 14,000 likes, was her first post on her brand new Instagram account.

To commemorate the whistle blower?s newfound freedom, the trans community and other supporters have been tweeting photos of their Chuck All-Stars alongside the hashtag #ChucksforChelsea.

In 2013, Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for providing WikiLeaks with secret military and diplomatic documents. The controversial move made some view Manning as a traitor, while others saw her as a hero.

The same year she was imprisoned, Manning came out as transgender, telling the world she identified as a woman named Chelsea, ?request[ing] that … you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun.?

Manning, who was also sentenced to a men?s military prison, experienced brutal conditions as a transgender woman.

She was initially denied access to hormone therapy drugs, was not allowed to grow out her hair despite doctors? recommendations and was sentenced to solitary confinement.

While in prison, Manning attempted suicide twice.

Planned Parenthood Closes 4 Clinics In Iowa After Funding Cut

WASHINGTON ? Planned Parenthood announced Thursday that it will be forced to close four health centers in Iowa because of a new state law that prevents Medicaid patients from seeking health care at the family planning provider.

Alabama County Faces Lawsuit Over Pregnant Vet Jailed Because She Can’t Afford Freedom

WASHINGTON ? Civil rights organizations are suing an Alabama county on behalf of a pregnant veteran who remains locked up in an overcrowded jail because she can?t afford to pay for her freedom before trial.

Police arrested and jailed Kandace Edwards, a 29-year-old mother of two, on Wednesday after she allegedly forged a $75 check. She?s seven months pregnant and has been homeless since December. Edwards served in the Army National Guard from 2006 until 2010, but is currently unemployed and has a history of mental health issues.

Under Randolph County?s bond schedule, people charged with forgery must pay $7,500 in bail in order to get out of jail before trial. These amounts are typically assessed without considering a defendant?s ability to pay, or whether the individual is a public safety or flight risk.

Edwards couldn?t afford $7,500, or even a portion of it to secure release from a commercial bail bondsman. These for-profit services typically charge a nonrefundable fee of 10 percent of the total bail amount. Edwards faces an indefinite period of incarceration before her case goes to trial. Randolph County only schedules trials twice per year, meaning defendants who can?t pay bail can remain behind bars for six months or longer, according to the lawsuit.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, Civil Rights Corps, the ACLU Foundation of Alabama and the national American Civil Liberties Union came together to file the lawsuit asserting Randolph County?s bail practices are unconstitutional. It?s one of many suits challenging bail practices and working their way through the federal court system.

?Randolph County reveals the cruelty of money bail. The government robs poor people of their liberty for no other reason than their inability to pay,? said Brandon Buskey, senior staff attorney with the ACLU?s Criminal Law Reform Project. ?They sit in jail for days or weeks waiting for a release hearing, while their jobs disappear and their families suffer. Meanwhile, those who can pay go home, with the time and freedom to prepare for trial.?

The lawsuit alleges that Edwards was originally assigned to a cell with a total of six women and four beds. The lockup is currently operating at three times capacity, and ?does not have any shampoo or wash clothes because of severe overcrowding,? the suit alleges.

Roger Ailes Is Dead. Now, His Victims’ Stories Must Live.

The emails and calls never stop coming into my law firm. Women sexually harassed by powerful men like Roger Ailes, women terrified to oppose it, but knowing they should, they must, for themselves, for women?s equality, for their daughters ? they?re contacting me after all ? but crying and shaking in fear of losing their jobs, their careers, getting blacklisted for life.

And on all counts, they?re right. Because men like Roger Ailes didn?t just sexually harass women and retaliate against them when they complained ? both illegal ? they destroyed women. And yet some were brave enough to face his henchmen, his media machine that vilified his enemies. Because women?s equality is now a core American value, a value that is stronger than Roger?s ?black ops? surveillance of his own employees and tens of millions of hush money payouts to women.

With Roger Ailes, no low was too low.

With Roger Ailes, no low was too low. He saw to it that former booking producer Laurie Luhn was paid over $3 million to shut up about her story that he had coerced her into sex, videotaped it, then blackmailed her with the tape into becoming his little sex toy whenever he wanted her, which was often, for two decades, driving her to a nervous breakdown. Laurie Luhn suffers to this day.

He took respected journalist Gretchen Carlson and reduced her to an object of his sexual desires, and when she rejected the come-on of her bloated, arrogant old boss, he fired her. (Yes, she got a $20 million payout that she shares with her lawyers and the government. She lost her career.)

And according to credible reports, there were dozens more Lauries and Gretchens. Julie Roginsky filed a new case against Ailes and Fox News just a few weeks ago.

Let his victims be ungagged so that a true, full reckoning of his life can be made.

Fox News has given some lip service lately to turning a corner, what with its being forced to fire Bill O?Reilly and Bill Shine. Of course, it only took those actions after women like my clients Wendy Walsh, Perquita Burgess, Caroline Heldman and me publicly and relentlessly shamed them.

Let Roger Ailes? passing truly began a new day. Turn that corner, for real, Fox News. Let his victims be ungagged so that a true, full reckoning of his life can be made. And give the women their jobs back.

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Toby Keith Is Joining Trump In Saudi Arabia For A Men-Only Concert

Toby Keith is headed to the Middle East to join President Donald Trump on his trip to Saudi Arabia.

The country singer will perform at a free, men-only concert Saturday in the capital city of Riyadh alongside Saudi singer Rabeh Saqer, The Associated Press reported.

Some on Twitter were a bit perplexed by the selection of an musician known for songs like ?I Love This Bar,? ?Drunk Americans? and ?I Like Girls That Drink Beer.? In Saudi Arabia, alcohol is banned and unrelated men and women are kept separate in public, in accordance with strict Islamic law.

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This Refugee Camp Is The First In The World To Be Powered By Solar Energy

A group of about 20,000 Syrian refugees living outdoors have access to electricity as of Wednesday thanks to a newly constructed solar plant in the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. It?s the first and only solar-powered refugee camp in the world.

?Each family can now connect a fridge, a TV, a fan, have light inside the shelter and charge their phones, which is critical for refugees to keep in contact with their relatives abroad,? the U.N.?s refugee agency, UNHCR, said in a statement.

UNHCR built the 2-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant farm in collaboration with the IKEA Foundation?s Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, which provided the funding, according to the statement.

Azraq is located in the desert region of northern Jordan. Its population of about 54,000 people has only had sporadic access to power since the camp was constructed in 2014, UNHCR added. The only source of electricity has come from solar lanterns.

?Lighting up the camp is not only a symbolic achievement; it provides a safer environment for all camp residents, opens up livelihoods opportunities, and gives children the chance to study after dark,? said Kelly T. Clements, UNHCR deputy high commissioner. ?Above all, it allows all residents of the camps to lead more dignified lives.?

Working with groups affected by climate change is central to the IKEA Foundation?s mission, CEO Per Heggenes told HuffPost. ?Having access to energy is about having a purpose in life,? he said.

Watch Harry Styles Die A Little Bit Inside At Kendall Jenner Quip

Harry Styles? week-long residency on ?The Late Late Show With James Corden? is off to a hell of a start.

The ?Sign of the Times? singer found himself in a bit of a sticky situation Monday night during an interview with Corden and actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson. The conversation began innocently enough, as Styles recounted a stage dive gone wrong. But the exchange soon went awry as Taylor-Johnson launched into his own anecdote ? a story about his chickens, who are named for the Kardashian-Jenner family.

You may recall that Styles and Kendall Jenner dated on and off between 2014 and 2016. The irony of the name choice wasn?t lost on Styles, who awkwardly sipped his tea as Taylor-Johnson listed off his chickens? names.

It also apparently wasn?t lost on Corden either. When Taylor-Johnson explained that his ?Kardashi-kens? just ?lay every day,? Corden fired back, ?Do they lay every day, Harry??

As you can imagine, Styles took the joke exceedingly well.

Watch the whole cringe-worthy exchange at CBS.com.

Luckily, Styles recovered his composure in time to deliver a stunning performance of ?Sign of the Times.? Check out his rendition below.

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Chris Pratt And Anna Faris Get Competitive With Bedtime Stories

Chris Pratt and Anna Faris can get a little competitive when it comes to parenting. 

Appearing on ?The Ellen DeGeneres Show? on May 12, Pratt spoke about raising his adorable 4-year-old son Jack ? from touring the world as a family to everyday moments at home.  

Since both of Jack?s parents are actors, it seems his bedtime stories get a little out of hand at times. 

?We?re strangely competitive with each other when it comes to entertaining him and getting into the voices and the characters,? Pratt told Ellen, adding that he and Faris have to take turns reading and frankly, performing the stories.

?I?ll read the left page, and she?ll read the right page,? he continued. ?And I start affecting a little accent for the character and then she?s like, ?Oh!? And she starts gesticulating and laughing, and before long, it?s like we?re completely not even paying attention to whether or not he?s even [paying attention].?

At that point, Jack is probably sleeping, the talk show host joked. 

?We?re so competitive with one another, it?s like ?I?m calling in my hair and makeup team. I?ve got my costume!?? Pratt added.

Still, the couple?s bedtime story competition is all in good fun. Said the dad, ?It was funny. We got a kick out of it.?

Can they adopt all of us?

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‘Real Housewives’ Star Dina Manzo Attacked In Brutal Home Invasion

Former ?Real Housewives of New Jersey? star Dina Manzo and her boyfriend, Dave Cantin, were victims of a terrifying home invasion this weekend after two robbers broke into their New Jersey townhouse.

After celebrating ?RHONJ? co-star Teresa Giudice?s daughter?s first communion on Saturday night, the couple returned to their home in Holmdel, New Jersey, around 11 p.m. to find two masked assailants already inside.

The robbers reportedly rushed at them, beating Cantin with a baseball bat and punching Manzo multiple times, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor?s Office via People. The two were then bound together, as the robbers raided the house of personal items like jewelry and cash before fleeing the scene. Police are reportedly still looking for suspects.

Cantin was eventually able to break free of his restraints and phone the police, who arrived at the home shortly after to transport the couple to the hospital. Both were treated for facial injuries, with Cantin suffering a broken nose, and were later released.

?Dina and David are obviously shaken up from the traumatic and violent home invasion and robbery,? their attorney told E! Online in a statement. ?No one should ever have to go through what they did. They are grateful to law enforcement and the other emergency responders and appreciate everyone?s concern and well-wishes.?

Celebrating my Audriana's 1st communion. ??

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?R&R in PR ?

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Manzo starred on the New Jersey edition of the reality TV show franchise for two seasons before making her exit.  She would later appear as guest on the fourth season and returned as a full-time cast member in Season 6, until leaving once again the following year. Despite a rift with former cast member and sister Caroline Manzo, Dina remains close with Teresa Giudice and is the godmother to her daughter Audriana.

She also appeared on her own reality TV series ?Dina?s Party,? a show about party planning that was canceled after two seasons.

Cantin, also a native of New Jersey, started dating Manzo in 2015 and is the co-owner of one of the largest car dealerships in the world.

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A Reminder For Everyone: Everyday Should Be Mother’s Day

This is for all the mother?s out there ? those with mental or physical illnesses, those who are addicts or prisoners, those who are absent in their children?s lives, those who live everyday sacrificing their lives for their children, and those who are watching their children from heaven above.

There is something that is so special about Mother?s Day because it is a reminder that your mother gave birth to you. Even if you think were an ?accident? or ?mistake? or you?ve been told that, remind yourself that you were born out of your mother?s womb, and that is a gift in itself ? a truly beautiful miracle. What?s even better is knowing that life gave the gift of you. Nothing is an accident because God is directing each one of your steps, and you are the best hope for the future.

So, for those whose mothers sacrifice everything for you: Although, I really value the thought behind Mother?s Day, I believe that recognition and everything that your mother has done for you should make that turn every day into Mother?s Day.

Naturally, when we have a mother, as young children, we depend on our moms for everything. As teenagers, we start to retaliate when things do not go our way. And, as we finally get older, we slowly start to realize the significance of a mother. Sometimes, we forget how much our moms have done for us. Some of us grow up thinking our mothers will never understand our struggles, but the truth is some mothers invest time making sure we never understand theirs.

Remember, the nights your mom stayed up putting you to sleep, the time she took wiping your nose, bottom, and tears, the nights she stayed up late helping with your homework. the nights she spent taking care of you when you were sick while she was probably even more sick with worry? There are countless reminders I can give, but the lesson to be learned is to not take these small things for granted because truthfully, even the smallest gestures will make these kind of mothers the happiest.

It is easy to take these kind of mothers for granted. It?s easy to get bogged down by the constant demands of being a mother, but that is why part of the reason that some these multi-faceted mothers know that part of being a mother is also about finding joy in the smallest gestures that your kids make to show you that they appreciate you every single day, not ONLY on mother?s day.

For those of you who are put in unfortunate situations where your mother has a mental or physical illness: be thankful and grateful. It?s silly to ask you to do that, right?

Oh Love, be thankful for this illness because it can inspire you to spend more time with the woman who brought you into this world. It can help you see the value in slowing things down and not taking any day for granted, which most of us do. Notice, that these illnesses can bring life into your family relationships, reinforce appreciation for the undying power of love, and strengthen your bond and connection with your mother. It can make you truly believe in God?s perfectly imperfect way of order and how he has structured the universe in a way that not even an illness can touch the permanent love and laughter, the endless amount of hugs and kisses, and the wonderful memories that have been created and shared.

For those whose moms are prisoners, addicts, or have abandoned you from your life: it?s teaching you the lesson of true strength and forgiveness. Naturally, when you are put in this kind of situation, Mother?s Day becomes just another day because of the emotional exhaustion and trauma you have been put through. Its difficult because you don?t want to be reminded of anything having to do with your mom.

Just know that I have the upmost admiration and respect for you. Forgiving isn?t easy, but it?s definitely sweeter than revenge. It allows one to taste the sweetness of peace in his or her heart. Forgive, because like chains shackling you to the past, you will no longer pollute your heart with bitterness, fear, distrust, or anger. Forgive, because that hate is just another way of holding on and that you don?t belong in that place anymore. Forgive, because you are setting a prisoner free or drug addict free and allowing yourself the opportunity to discover that the whole time the prisoner or addict was you. Our hurt will be prolonged, and like a wound that is infected, it gets worse as time goes by if we don?t choose to forgive. When you forgive, you grow, your heart begins to heal, your back straightens up as you stand tall with strength, and your eyes clear so that you can see the bright road ahead. Remember, forgiveness is an attribute of the strong, and that strength means you have the ability to overcome resentment against others, including the resentment you have for your mom who abandoned you when you needed her the most.

For those whose mothers are in heaven watching down on you from heaven above: make her proud. Use your imagination of what your mother was like as motivation to surpass any obstacle that is thrown your way. Be reminded of the importance of seeing the value in memories that you shared, even if it is slightly vague or all that you have left are remains of an old photograph. Look into the stillness of the photograph, and remember, that photos are a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone. Remember, to look around like you are in the stillness of that photograph. In that stillness is where you can find the enchanting, simple little things that life has to offer you. There?s a sort of beauty in making something out of what seems to be nothing. There?s a sort of beauty in breaking out of the clutter to discover and create a glorious vision of your own world. I know, Mother?s Day will remind you of your loss, but you are given more strength that you could ever attain in a lifetime so be proud of reaching that milestone because I?m sure your guardian angel is watching over you and smiling.

I know some of you may be thinking that it is so easy for me to write this when I have been blessed and fortunate with a mother who has done everything for me. She?s emotional, yet my rock. She gets tired, yet she keeps going. She gets worried, but is full of hope. She has every right to be impatient, yet she?s patient. She gets overwhelmed, but she never quits. She is extraordinary, even in chaos. She?s a life changer, every single day. Even though I acknowledge all these things now, believe me when I say that I?ve taken her for granted many times, and I wish I never had. I?m guilty too, just like you may be. But just remember, we are all given different situations and thrown curveballs at different points in our lives, and I truly believe that everything in life is a blessing in disguise.

So, to all the mothers out there: remember it?s not what mothers do for their children, but it?s what you?ve taught them to do for themselves, whether you are present or absent from your children?s life. For all the children out there: Sometimes, it?s NOT what you get for what you go through, but it?s what you BECOME of it. Regardless of how your mother is, there?s always a lesson to be learned from her, and you should be thankful to your mom for that because I sure know that I am.

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Trump And Xi Can Reach Mutually Agreeable Solutions On North Korea And Trade

china focus

SHANGHAI ? Rex Tillerson has just finished his East Asia tour as the U.S. secretary of state. The main purpose of his last stop and probably the most important one was to meet with Chinese leaders to prepare for the upcoming summit meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday and Friday at Trump?s Mar-a-Lago estate of Florida. 

In terms of substance, there are many areas to address for cooperation, including revitalizing the global economy and calibrating the Chinese dream and American dream, as well as their differences in dealing with the Taiwan issue, bilateral trade, the Korean Peninsula and certainly the South China Sea. Despite vast common economic interests between China and the U.S., the two countries remain divided as to how to manage their trade imbalance. Lately China has been enjoying a significant trade surplus at over $300 billion per year. Successive U.S. governments have been troubled by the rising imbalance and the associated job outflow to China.

The problem threatens to create a backlash against globalization. However, the solution is not to cut China?s exports to the U.S. but to increase China?s imports from the U.S. Even though the U.S. is vigilant in guarding access to its most sensitive technology, the U.S. still has much to offer, including its safe food and rich agricultural products.

The solution is not to cut China?s exports to the U.S. but to increase China?s imports from the U.S.

It is notable that from the second half of last year, China has taken strong measures to prevent its currency from further depreciating. While China has to do so to boost its own market confidence and to sustain the newly acquired status of renminbi as an international reserve currency in the International Monetary Fund, it has faced an ever-stronger pressure of export decline. Therefore, China?s effort to stabilize its currency deserves commending.

Beijing and Washington have to take a long-term strategic view, as Xi told Tillerson when they met in Beijing. It is important to enhance bilateral relations with strong social support, as this is the only sustainable approach toward, as Xi put it in the past, a ?new type of great power relationship,? which Tillerson echoed in Beijing.

In terms of the Taiwan issue, Tillerson?s reportedly rich experience in conducting business has made him well-acquainted with the importance of this unshakable position. Besides firmly honoring the ?one-China? policy, he is also right in recognizing, as he admitted during his East Asia debut, that the U.S. policy on North Korea in the past two decades, especially on Pyongyang?s nuclear program, has failed. Nevertheless, he has to be careful about stating that all U.S. options are now on the table; after all, the U.S. has no preemptive option in dealing with a nuclear-armed North Korea.

America has virtually accepted nuclear-armed Israel, India and Pakistan, all for realistic reasons, so it is impractical to state that the U.S. could consider all sorts of options toward North Korea. Further, America has normalized relations with Cuba, after boycotting Havana for over half a century. Since the U.S.?s preemption against Iraq has been a fiasco, any repetition of such against Pyongyang probably would hurt Washington more than Pyongyang. Tillerson should be cautious in understanding American realism, especially given Trump?s style to retract.

To stress denuclearizing North Korea as the precondition for talks only destroys any chance to talk and pushes Pyongyang farther along its nuclear path.

Having said this, it doesn?t indicate that one has to politically accept North Korea?s nuclear reality. Rather, it is crucial to search for an effective means to cope with it. At this late stage, to stress denuclearizing North Korea as the precondition for talks only destroys any chance to talk and pushes Pyongyang farther along its nuclear path. Regretfully, one has to face the North?s nuclear reality by asking it to cap, freeze and eventually cut its nuclear wherewithal, which takes a long time. Meantime, the U.S. can seek a normal relationship, as it has enjoyed with Tel Aviv, New Delhi and Islamabad.

China is interested in working with America to assure Pyongyang?s legitimate security while persuading North Korea to come down from the nuclear ladder. The upcoming summit meeting holds promise for a ?new type of great power relationship.?

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Bad News For Vegetarians Who Love Kimchi

Kimchi might be loaded with vegetables, but it is usually not a vegetarian-friendly product. If you?ve got a good nose, you can figure that out just by opening a jar of kimchi. But if your olfactory senses are lacking, you may not have noticed that kimchi is made with some salty elements of the sea. We?re talking salted shrimp, anchovy sauce and fish sauce, to name a few. 

The recently published cookbook Cook Korean! explains that seafood adds a deep, briny flavor. Raw squid, baby octopus and sardines are the best flavor enhancers. Saeujeot (tiny salted, fermented shrimp) and fish sauce are often used, too. The fermented seafood adds glutamic acid, which is what gives our mouth that umami sensation.

A look at a couple of the most reputable kimchi brands reveals the store-bought type is often packed with seafood. 

See for yourself:

Mother-In-Law?s Kimchi

Ingredients: napa cabbage, yellow onion, green onion, salt, red chile pepper flakes, fresh ginger, fresh peeled garlic, organic sugar, beef bone broth, salted shrimp, fish sauce (anchovies, salt).

Mrs. Kim?s Kimchi

Ingredients: napa cabbage, beef stock (water, beef), red pepper flakes, pears and/or apples, scallions, garlic, salted shrimp (shrimp, salt) cane sugar, anchovy sauce (anchovies, salt) sea salt, ginger.

With that said, vegan kimchi is possible to make and can also be pretty good. Not only do the above two companies offer vegan options, but you can make your own, too. 

With seasonings like tamari, coconut sugar, pineapple juice, ginger, garlic, onion and chili flakes, you can have a whole lot of umami with none of the fermented seafood. Get the recipe for Minimalist Baker?s easy vegan kimchi.

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Here’s How NYC Corrections Could Change After Rikers Island Shuts Down

An independent criminal justice reform commission in New York City has released a report with one simple conclusion: ?We must close the jail complex on Rikers Island. Period.? 

The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform on Sunday officially released the blueprint for the city?s 10-year plan to shut down Rikers Island, the city?s notorious jail complex that?s considered among the worst in the U.S.

?With the dedicated efforts of this Commission, along with support from Mayor [Bill] de Blasio, today, we can say that the dream of closing Rikers Island will finally become a reality,? New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D) said in a statement Sunday.

Mark-Viverito commissioned a report last year on the possibility of closing Rikers. The 146-page findings were posted Friday ahead of Sunday?s formal announcement. 

The 10,000 inmates at the facility include men, women and juveniles. Many Rikers prisoners are pretrial detainees too poor to afford bail, or nonviolent offenders with sentences too brief to justify a transfer to a new facility. 

Per the report, a crucial step to closing Rikers would be halving its population to less than 5,000 so it could be replaced by a smaller, borough-based jail system. The five facilities of that system would be located near various courthouses. Such a system would cost over $10 billion.

The commission offers a number of proposals to help cut the Rikers population in half, including an overhaul of the bail bonds process; investing in neighborhood crime prevention strategies; alternative sentencing for low-level offenses; job training and employment opportunities for people leaving jail; improved mental health access and treatment; and raising the city?s age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said on Sunday that shrinking the city?s correctional footprint and maintaining public safety are not mutually exclusive goals. 

?We?ve shown in the past several years you can do both: You can have a fair criminal justice system that protects the community ? with one stand of justice for everyone ? but also lower the number of people being incarcerated,? Gonzalez said at a news conference. ?You don?t have to incarcerate your way to public safety.? 

The city has been under increasing pressure to shutter Rikers amid years of exposes, scathing Justice Department reports and a flurry of expensive lawsuits.

A backlogged and sluggish court system means that detainees spend an average of nine months awaiting trial while being housed in a facility notorious for its abuse, violence by inmates and guards and the capricious use of solitary confinement. 

The scrutiny reached new heights in 2015 after Kalief Browder, a Bronx teenager, hanged himself following his time in Rikers. Browder was jailed at 16 for allegedly stealing a backpack. He went on to spend three years at Rikers without a conviction ? including 800 days in solitary confinement. 

In the report released Sunday, commissioners called Rikers Island a ?stain on our great city that leaves its mark on everyone it touches,? including inmates, corrections staff, attorneys and the taxpayers who ?devote billions of dollars each year to keep the whole dysfunctional apparatus running.?

?Put simply,? the report said, ?Rikers Island is a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem.? 

Advocates for mass incarceration reform have long called for a closing of Rikers, and have been supported in recent years by local officials like Mark-Viverito and state officials like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) had been more reluctant to move ahead with the Rikers closure until there was a clear idea of what would take its place. His stance has softened on account of the city?s falling crime rate, which he said makes Rikers? closure more attainable on a 10-year timeline. 

?A year ago, we didn?t think it could be done,? de Blasio said last week, according to NPR. ?It would [have] been irresponsible for me to say we had a plan if we didn?t have a real plan. We now have a real plan.?

In announcing news of the plan on Friday, de Blasio called Rikers ?an example and an expression? of the nation?s mass incarceration crisis.

?The mass incarceration crisis did not being in New York City, but it will end here,? de Blasio said. ?We are going to end the era of mass incarceration by making this important change.?

The long-term plan, once Rikers Island is emptied of prisoners, is to redevelop it.

There would be a number of unique challenges and costs associated with redeveloping an isolated island once used as a dumping ground for garbage. Some of the possibilities include using the island as a waste treatment facility, a renewable energy hub or a runway expansion to nearby LaGuardia Airport.

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Community Rallies To Free Elephant Herd Trapped In Muddy Bomb Crater

Eleven elephants have been saved from ghastly deaths in Cambodia thanks to the collaboration of local villagers and wildlife conservation groups.

People living near the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in the province of Mondulkiri saw that the pachyderms were trapped in a large pit that a U.S. B52 bomb had originally created, the Cambodia Daily reported on Monday. In more recent years, the local community has been using the crater to store water.

The herd had apparently become stuck in the muddy pit, unable to scale the steep sides, when they wandered in to drink and bathe, according to LiveScience. By the time the local farmers spotted them on Sunday, it was clear they had been there for some time.

?They obviously had been in there at least a couple of days ? because the little baby was very exhausted and the mud was so sticky,? Jemma Bullock of Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment told Cambodia Daily. She added that the elephants would likely have soon died from exhaustion had people not intervened.

The people who saw the elephants contacted the provincial environmental department, which brought in representatives from ELIE, the World Wildlife Fund, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Wildlife Alliance Cambodia to help. Staff from those groups teamed up numerous people from the local community to dig into the side of the crater and construct a makeshift ramp for the herd.

Video footage of the rescue (above) shows the elephants making their way up the ramp and walking free. While 10 of them escaped this way, the final elephant ? a young one weakened by the ordeal, had to be lifted out using ropes.

Tan Setha of WCS told LiveScience that the deaths of the entire herd ? which included three adult females and eight juveniles ? would have seriously hindered conservation efforts in the sanctuary.

?These elephants represent an important part of the breeding population in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, and their loss would have been a major blow to conservation,? he said.

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For Hard-Liners, Even The Trump EPA Isn’t Doing Enough To Undermine Climate Science

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt ? the former Oklahoma attorney general who made his name by suing the agency more than a dozen times and says he does not agree that human activity is a primary contributor to global warming ? isn?t even enough of a hard-line climate change denier for some players in President Donald Trump?s administration.

A schism is brewing within the administration over what to do about a somewhat-obscure EPA ruling that, for the last eight years, has been the bedrock of policy to fight global warming: the scientific conclusion that greenhouse gases cause climate change, which is bad for humans and should be regulated.

A 2007 Supreme Court ruling found that the agency is obligated to regulate any type of air pollution that ?may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare? under the 1970 Clean Air Act. The George W. Bush administration?s EPA determined that greenhouse gases were, in fact, a danger, but decided not to do anything about it. The Obama administration?s EPA took the issue up shortly after taking office and, in December 2009, issued its conclusion ? commonly called the endangerment finding ? which compelled the agency to start regulating those emissions.

The endangerment finding is the foundation of all of Obama?s global warming regulations, including the Clean Power Plan, which strictly limits emissions from power plants, the major contributors of U.S. emissions.

With an executive order signed Tuesday, Trump began the process to dismantle the power plant rules, which the Supreme Court had already blocked in response to the state lawsuits Pruitt spearheaded in his previous job.

However, the order Trump signed made no mention of the endangerment finding. It?s unclear if earlier drafts had addressed it, since the Trump campaign had said in written statements that he would overturn the finding, but it was Pruitt who argued against including it, Politico and CNN reported, insisting the language would trigger a difficult, years-long legal battle.

Pruitt?s approach puts him at loggerheads with Myron Ebell, the emphatic climate science denier who led Trump?s EPA transition team. Soon after the inauguration, Ebell, who oversees global warming and environmental policy at the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, submitted a petition to the EPA requesting the agency reconsider the endangerment finding. The EPA has yet to respond. On Thursday, Ebell accused the White House of playing hot potato with a process he says is critical to prevent courts or a future administration from policing greenhouse gases, which he does not believe cause global warming.

?There?s a kind of passing of responsibility here,? Ebell told The Huffington Post by phone on Thursday. ?I don?t know what advice [Pruitt] has listened to, but I?ve consulted a lot of lawyers on this, too.?

?If I had it my own way, I would advise the president to reopen the finding,? he added.

Ebell acknowledges that leaving the endangerment finding in place would make undoing the Clean Power Plan a legal nightmare.  

?If you take down the building but leave the foundation, you?re going to get in trouble,? Ebell said. ?We need to excavate the foundation and cart it away. The endangerment finding is the foundation.? (He tempered the comparison moments later, admitting: ?I don?t like analogical thinking. It?s very misleading to think analogically.?)

But overturning the endangerment finding wouldn?t be easy. White House attorneys would need to prove in court that the finding was arbitrary and capricious. Meeting that standard would require them to debunk the overwhelming scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions cause global warming.

?I don?t see on the horizon anything that would permit them to overturn this and have it legally upheld,? said Lisa Heinzerling, a law professor at Georgetown University who is credited with crafting the strategy of states and environmental groups in Massachusetts v. EPA, a 2007 ruling that said the EPA should regulate greenhouse gases. ?That?s because of the strength of the scientific evidence and because of the law.?

The legal odds are overwhelmingly in environmentalists? favor. In 2012, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a challenge to the endangerment finding from Pruitt himself. The court?s reading of the Clean Air Act found that the law requires a precautionary approach to scientific uncertainty. As a result, the roughly 3 percent of actively publishing climate scientists who don?t believe that greenhouse gases cause global warming represent too small a fraction to tilt the scales in favor of doubt, Heinzerling said. Plus, the Clean Air Act gives exclusive jurisdiction to the D.C. Circuit, meaning the Trump administration would need to sway the same court that unanimously upheld the endangerment finding five years ago.

?Bottom line is the enviros would welcome that fight,? said David Bookbinder, who in 2007 served as counsel to The Sierra Club in the Supreme Court case that laid the groundwork for the endangerment finding. He?s now chief counsel at the Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank.

?The president can?t just stand up and say, ?no endangerment finding,?? he added. ?The court would say, ?Everything you told us you now think is wrong is based on what? Some crank scientists representing 1 percent of the world?s science and their nutcase views?? It?s not going to fly. They have to have a rational basis for doing this.?

But Ebell?s not the only Trump associate who wants him to try to throw the endangerment finding out.

Breitbart News, the far-right news site run until recently by chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, accused Pruitt of ?failing to drain the swamp at the EPA? in a blaring headline Monday. Citing unnamed sources, James Delingpole, a London-based columnist and hard-line skeptic of climate science, accused Pruitt of putting his political ambitions ahead of his promise to ?take on the Green Blob.?

?True, his credentials as a climate sceptic are not much in doubt. Yes, he might even agree with President Trump that there?s a swamp out there that sorely needs draining,? Delingpole wrote a day before the executive order came out. ?The problem is, insiders explain, is that the future of the EPA is of far less interest to Pruitt than his prospects of becoming either one of Oklahoma?s next senators or its next governor.?

Come next election, we?ll punish him at the ballot box.
H. Sterling Burnett, Heartland Institute research fellow, on Donald Trump

Absent White House support, zealous critics of climate action say they plan to lobby members of Congress to pass a bill to strip the EPA of its regulatory powers by amending the Clean Air Act. Possible allies include Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the antagonistic chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology; and Sens. John Barrasso (R-Pa.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who once infamously displayed a snowball on the Senate floor as proof that global warming doesn?t exist.

A spokeswoman for the House Science Committee said there is no current legislation being considered. Mike Danylak, a spokesman for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which Barrasso chairs, said, ?Congress has never explicitly given the EPA the authority to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and the Senate EPW committee has no plans to do so.? But he said Barrasso is not exploring legislation to target the endangerment finding. Inhofe?s spokesperson did not return a request for comment.

?If Congress passed that law, Trump would sign it,? said H. Sterling Burnett, a research fellow on energy and the environment at the Illinois-based Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank. ?That would put the kibosh on it right there.?

The White House referred HuffPost to the EPA, which did not respond to a request for comment.

Burnett said he?s holding out hope that Trump will fulfill his campaign promise to overturn the endangerment finding and, ultimately, withdraw from the 195-country Paris Agreement, the historic first global deal to reduce carbon emissions that includes the U.S. and China. But he sees battle lines being drawn in the White House. He views Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ? who has said the U.S. should maintain its seat at the negotiating table by remaining in the agreement ? and the president?s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, who serves as a top adviser to the president, as getting in the way of that.

?To the extent that he has people pushing back on this within his own administration, it?s a matter of the public?s responsibility to hold his feet to the fire,? Burnett said of Trump. ?He didn?t say ?I?ll renegotiate the Paris Agreement.? He said he?d withdraw. It?s public. It?s out there. It?s in print.?

He warned that failure to do so could turn voters against Trump if he runs for reelection in 2020.

?Come next election, we?ll punish him at the ballot box,? Burnett said. ?If he doesn?t reverse the endangerment finding ? which he?s said is a terrible thing, it?s job killing ? if he doesn?t do that, we?re going to hold him accountable.?

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Alec Baldwin: ‘Just To Clean Up The Mess’ After Trump Will Be ‘Almost Impossible’

Alec Baldwin?s Twitter presence is infamous enough to both warrant a ?South Park? parody and a loving moniker from his longtime friend Tina Fey. In an interview Fey did with David Letterman for The Hollywood Reporter after the election, she talked about Donald Trump?s mistake in feuding with Baldwin on the social media platform.

?You think you?re good at being a jerk on Twitter? You will now face the grandmaster of being a jerk on Twitter,? joked Fey.

The Huffington Post?s Bill Bradley caught up with Baldwin before the ACLU?s March 31 ?Stand For Rights? benefit to ask what how the actor would approach Twitter if he somehow became president.

?I don?t think I would do Twitter if I was the president of the United States,? Baldwin first said, before explaining that he sees value in having a social media team post speeches and other formal messages.

Baldwin, who?s keeping busy impersonating the 45th president on ?Saturday Night Live,? then launched into a Trump impression, saying he wouldn?t send tweets like, ?The failing New York Times is terrible.?

?I think that?s crazy,? he said.

Baldwin went on to further express concern over the current administration:

But I think that the president, especially now, there?s so many problems we?re going to have to undo. I mean, when Trump is gone, to undo [this] will be like one of these flood zones. It will be like when a tsunami hits a town. Just to clean up the mess these people have made is going to be almost impossible.

HuffPost is currently streaming the ?Stand For Rights? benefit on Facebook

Ready to give? Text POWER to 20222 to donate $10 to the ACLU. The ACLU will call to explain other actions you can take to help. (Terms here.) You can also support ?Stand for Rights: A Benefit for the ACLU? by heading to the ACLU website

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This Awesome Family Jumped Around In The Mud For A Maternity Photo Shoot

A fun-loving Texas family turned an ordinary maternity photo shoot into muddy adventure.

While expecting their third child, Jon and Brittany Barton of Waxahachie hired photographer Elaine Baca of Lane B Photography to take family maternity pictures with their other two children, 4-year-old Declan and 2-year-old Noah. Due to some weather issues, the shoot got a little … messy.

?Lately in Texas when it rains it pours,? Baca told The Huffington Post. ?In the weeks leading up to the maternity session, the rain was relentless. We had rescheduled the session a couple of times already, and Brittany was quickly approaching the end of her pregnancy ? so we knew he might come any day.?

Baca knew Brittany and Jon were outdoorsy and wanted to keep the shoot outside, so the photographer suggested something a bit unconventional. 

?They have a huge backyard which backs up to a field and I knew it had lots of muddy puddles, so I asked her what she thought about playing in the rain and ending with a mud fight,? Baca explained. Brittany didn?t even hesitate to give the go-ahead. 

On the day of the shoot, the Bartons posed for a few conventional photos before letting loose in the mud. Brittany, Jon, Declan and Noah all got their hands dirty, though Baca said the parents had the most fun.

?They weren?t just casually throwing mud, they were chunking it at each other!? she recalled. ?Declan was worried about getting his white shirt muddy so it took some convincing before he started having fun. The boys still talk about how much fun they had.?

Brittany was 38 weeks along in her pregnancy during the photo shoot, and she gave birth to a baby boy just nine days later. The couple named their son Matthew. 

The joy-filled photos from the maternity session epitomize how much the Bartons love spending time together, Baca told HuffPost. 

?For me, photo sessions are all about preserving memories and making new ones. With small children it?s about remembering their ever-changing personalities and quirks that make them unique,? she explained, adding that she hopes families who see her photos will opt for candid, documentary-style sessions in the future.

?With this genre of photography, parents don?t have to stress about getting their little ones to sit still and look at the camera and kids get to be kids while doing something everyone enjoys.?

Keep scrolling for more awesome photos from the Bartons? muddy maternity shoot.

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There is no conflict

A great percentage of workplace conflict is as a result of poor communication whether in action or deed, actual or perceived. It is incumbent upon us to do and say what is best for everyone and minimize chances of offending someone The biggest problem in Summit today is that lice has become resistant to over the counter products, that?s why you need the best head lice treatments available. . While pleasing everyone is impossible, our exchanges should curtail the severity of conflict.

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We always wanted to take a hike in the breathtaking mountains of the world we live in, but we needed to rent a car We are Andover’s foremost head lice removal company.. We are hopping to get a nice SUV for the ride to the creek, since we think bringing a SUV with us wold be the best choice. The best thing is that it wasn’t very hard to choose for the best one since US manufactures make one of the best trucks and SUV so we went with the Chevrolet trax . There were some very good guides to help us through. We surely hope to have a great time.

Democracy Can Still Deliver

A voter waits to cast his ballot in Bekkersdal, near Johannesburg, May 7, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

Democracy is going through a rough patch. Freedom House reports that the number of democracies around the world has retreated….http://feeds.cfr.org/~r/icoleman/~3/raTnxErUWTU/
div>A voter waits to cast his ballot in Bekkersdal, near Johannesburg, May 7, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

Democracy is going through a rough patch. Freedom House reports that the number of democracies around the world has retreated…