Month: August 2018

Colin Kaepernick’s N.F.L. Collusion Case Can Continue, Arbitrator Rules

In a major blow to the N.F.L., Colin Kaepernick achieved a preliminary but important win in his case accusing the league of colluding to keep him off the field because of the player protests during the national anthem that he instigated.

The ruling, essentially granting a full hearing on the dispute, keeps alive a case that the N.F.L. desperately wanted to go away. The league is preparing for a new season beginning next week and is still grappling with how to defuse the smoldering debate over players who demonstrate during the national anthem to protest racism, police brutality and social injustice.

In a ruling this week that was disclosed Thursday, the arbitrator, Stephen B. Burbank, who was appointed by the league and the N.F.L. Players Association, said lawyers for Kaepernick had unearthed enough information in the past year for the case to proceed to a full hearing. After months of depositions — including those given by some of the most powerful owners in the league — as well as document searches, the lawyers will be able to question league officials, owners and others in a trial-like format.

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The decision was revealed by Mark Geragos, Kaepernick’s lawyer.

Although the number of players who kneel has varied — and dwindled over the course of last season — since Kaepernick first did so in 2016, during a wave of police shootings of African-American men, the issue continues to divide fans, vex owners. It has also inspired persistent tweets from President Trump, whose calls for players who kneel to be fired has put pressure on owners, many of whom support him.

Kaepernick, once one of the league’s best quarterbacks, has been out of work since March 2017, when he became a free agent before the San Francisco 49ers could release him. As a parade of lesser quarterbacks, at least statistically, found work, he filed a grievance asserting that the league’s owners had conspired to keep him out because of his protests.

The N.F.L., which had asked the arbitrator to dismiss the case for lack of evidence, declined to comment. It cannot appeal the arbitrator’s decision to move to a full hearing, but it can appeal a final ruling.

A hearing could begin by the end of the year, though the two sides could settle the case before then. Kaepernick is seeking damages equal to what he would have earned if he were still playing in the league.

The case has attracted so much attention, experts said, that it would have been difficult for Burbank to dismiss it.

Inside McCain’s surprise eulogy invitation to Obama

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(CNN)A parting lesson in American civility from Sen. John McCain lies in the roster of leaders he personally selected to pay tribute at his memorial service Saturday at the National Cathedral.

It was a day in early April when Barack Obama received an unexpected call from McCain, who was battling brain cancer and said he had a blunt question to ask: Would you deliver one of the eulogies at my funeral?
Obama, who is responsible for extinguishing McCain’s second bid for the White House a decade ago, immediately answered that he would. He was taken aback by the request, aides say, as was George W. Bush, another former rival, who received a similar call from McCain this spring.
When the 43rd and 44th US presidents stand on the high altar of the soaring cathedral on Saturday, after the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” anthem is sung, they will not only be celebrating the life of John Sidney McCain III. It will be McCain, too, having a not-so-subtle last word, aimed at another president he made clear he did not want to attend: Donald J. Trump.
While neither of the two former presidents were especially close to McCain in life, he and Bush were fellow Republicans, forged together for better or worse, through policy and party loyalty. After a deeply personal and vitriolic primary fight in 2000, McCain went on to endorse Bush and occasionally campaigned with him four years later.
But McCain’s decision to invite Obama to speak at his funeral stands out as far more extraordinary, given their brutal and bitter rivalry during the 2008 presidential race.

I had a daily ringside seat to their feud, covering the campaign for The New York Times, chronicling their fights over the Iraq war and, later, the economy. On those subjects, and many more, McCain viewed Obama as naïve and unprepared for the presidency. To be clear, those critiques lingered long after Obama won, particularly on matters of national security.

So, I’ve been wondering whether McCain and Obama had somehow developed an intimate relationship after Obama left office, if they had been having quiet conversations over the last year or two that haven’t been publicly discussed as McCain neared the end of his journey.

It turns out, after talking to several friends of both men this week, their relationship isn’t intimate at all, but rather one rooted in mutual respect and a shared sense of alarm at today’s caustic political climate. Their telephone call on that April day was first arranged by advisers, not McCain simply dialing up Obama as he would do with his legion of friends, a sign they were hardly tight.
In fact, the two have spoken by phone only a couple of times since Obama left the White House, aides to both men say, most notably last summer when Obama reached out after McCain cast the deciding vote to salvage the Affordable Care Act. He thanked him. The call was brief.

Obama has not been among the long parade of visitors who came to see McCain on his Arizona ranch as he fought brain cancer. George and Laura Bush dropped by not long ago, as did former Vice President Joe Biden, a close and longtime friend of McCain’s in the Senate, who will deliver a eulogy at a memorial service on Thursday in Arizona.

But McCain’s decision to ask Obama and Bush to eulogize him is part of a carefully choreographed — and, yes, even strategic — message for America and the world in the wake of his death. It’s also perhaps, one last opportunity for McCain to try and tamp down a fervor that first awoke in the Republican Party during his 2008 race and has swelled ever since.
Steve Duprey, a longtime friend of McCain’s and a senior adviser in his 2008 campaign, said the senator respected Obama, even if the two were never particularly close and wounds from their race were raw for years.
“I think it is John McCain imparting a lesson in civility by asking the two men who defeated him to speak, as an example to America that differences in political views and contests shouldn’t be so important that we lose our common bonds and the civility that is, or used to be, a hallmark of American democracy,” Duprey said.
David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Obama in his campaigns and in the White House, said the clear message McCain is sending is “about our shared heritage, our shared trust of this democracy that transcends party and transcends tribe.”
“It really does animate his message of national unity,” Axelrod said. “There is a kind of poetry to it that he wanted his two erstwhile opponents to eulogize them.”

Even unspoken, the lesson also shines a light on McCain’s outward disdain for Trump and his presidency. And McCain hardly shied away from that in a farewell, posthumous message released on Monday in which he echoed his concession speech to Obama from a decade ago.

“Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here,” McCain wrote in the statement released after his death. “Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”

But as the remarkable story of McCain’s life has been replaying this week — his acts of wartime heroism and his admissions of congressional mistakes — it’s striking the degree to which the old quarrels seem almost charming in the era of Trump.

Aretha Franklin Fans Pay Respects to the Queen of Soul During Open-Casket Visitations in Detroit

Aretha Franklin fans are saying their final goodbyes to the Queen of Soul.The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit is hosting two days of public open-casket visitations. Franklin died at age 76 of pancreatic cancer on Aug. 16. On Tuesday, the first of the two days, hundreds of people, some of whom spent the night on the sidewalk to save their spots in line, showed up to pay their respects, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Franklin’s body was dressed in a red suit and crimson pumps in a gold-plated casket. Gold thread spelled out “Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul” in the casket’s lining.

“It was very moving,” Detroit resident Charlotte Smith told the Detroit Free Press. “She has a beautiful smile. … She looks serene resting as a true queen.”

“She’s the Queen,” Melissa Howard, who traveled from Austin for the event, said to the outlet. “She’s royalty. She’s worth it.” “She meant so much to so many people,” Frances Billingslea of Detroit said to the Detroit Free Press. “She’s a local talent. She was a down-home spirit. She didn’t put herself above anybody even though she was the Queen of Soul. She did so much for this community.”

Ron Isley, Chaka Khan, Yolanda Adams and Jennifer Holliday are among those who plan on attending Franklin’s ceremony, which will also include several performances from the renowned singers.

Gospel stars Marvin Sapp, the Clark Sisters and Vanessa Bell Armstrong will also be part of the program — as well as Audrey DuBois Harris and Alice McAllister Tillman.

The service, which will be held in Detroit on Aug. 31, is expected to reflect Franklin’s gospel roots and honor her dedication to the civil rights movement. As a teenager, Franklin briefly went on a countrywide tour with Martin Luther King Jr.

“I asked my dad if it would be OK if I went [on the tour with King],” Franklin recalled to The Washington Post in a 2009 interview. “He said if that’s what I wanted to do, he thought it would be OK, so I went out for a number of dates with Dr. King. Harry Belafonte came out and of course, Andrew Young was there and Jesse [Jackson] came in and out.”

The pair grew close. Like the rest of the nation, Franklin was devastated by King’s 1968 assasination in Memphis, Tenn. To honor her mentor and civil rights icon, Franklin volunteered to sing at his funeral. Now, five decades later, musicians are paying tribute to Franklin.

ARETHA FRANKLIN REMEMBERED BY MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.’S KIDS FOR LENDING ‘VOICE’ FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

Here’s a look at some other famous faces that are expected in the crowd at Greater Grace Temple on Aug. 31, and their special relationships with the late singer.

Blood Orange Bottles The Spirit Of An Outsider In Soulful Sweetness

Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 4.40.04 AMWhen pop and R&B producers step out to make their own records, they typically put themselves front and center. Devonté Hynes, who performs under the name Blood Orange, does things differently. Hynes is one of the producers shaping pop music right now. He helped create acclaimed records by Solange Knowles and Carly Rae Jepsen. For his first few releases as Blood Orange, the 32-year-old songwriter focused on Prince-like R&B, but on his fourth album, Negro Swan, Hynes gets more experimental and more personal.

On the album’s opening track, “Orlando,” Hynes sings like he’s sailing without much of a care. But beneath that butterfly lightness, he’s talking about being bullied in high school. That’s a common theme on Negro Swan. Even when the music is pretty and the hooks are insanely grabby, Hynes and his many collaborators are already in the deep end, exploring racial identity, sexual identity, what Hynes calls “black depression” and the experience of being an outsider.

Hynes’ otherness comes through in these songs. He grew up in East London as a queer skater and now lives in New York. He has said that his goal with Negro Swan was to talk about difficult issues without dwelling in negativity. That’s a tricky tone to sustain. He does it by varying the musical palette. Some tracks are lit up with outbreaks of dissonance from his guitar. Others have a lush, ’70s soul sweetness.

The 16-track album, entirely produced by Hynes, involves a large crew of singers and rappers — from A$AP Rocky and Project Pat to Steve Lacy and Amandla Stenberg — and is narrated by author, host and transgender rights activist Janet Mock. On one of the standout tracks, “Hope,” Hynes features singer Tei Shi and the rapper none other than Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs. Hynes says he was surprised by what the hip-hop mogul added as the song end: “Sometimes I ask myself, like / You know, what is it going to take for me not be afraid / To be loved the way, like, I really wanna be loved?” Hearing the founder of Bad Boy Records talking earnestly about love and acceptance is a head-turner for sure. At times, the flow of the record is interrupted by spoken word interludes like this one. These hit listeners over the head with big takeaways. It’s as though Hynes wants to make sure the themes hit home. He didn’t need to worry. These poised, delicate songs have a way of saying it all.

Fall Movie Guide: 33 Superhero, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy Movies to Look Out For

Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 4.35.31 AMIt’s that time of year. The weather gets cooler, the leaves start to change, and movie releases get just a little more adult. At least, in theory. We’ve rounded up all the movies io9 readers will want to keep an eye out for through the end of the year.

This fall, awards season blends with genre in a bunch of unique ways thanks to filmmakers like Robert Zemeckis, Damien Chazelle, and Luca Guadagnino. Then there are the usual holiday blockbusters as well as lots of small and interesting horror movies, different takes on the superhero genre, unexpected sequels, spin-offs, and more. Here’s all the eclectic sci-fi, horror, and fantasy films coming to theaters (and streaming) in the next few months.

READ MORE: https://io9.gizmodo.com/fall-movie-guide-33-superhero-sci-fi-and-fantasy-mov-1828313859

How Joe Budden Became the Howard Stern of Hip-Hop As a rapper, Joe Budden had a hit 15 years ago — and then a string of bad luck and poor choices. Now he has emerged as a podcast star.

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 9.57.20 PMThis wasn’t how Joe Budden planned on becoming famous. In fact, he didn’t plan much of anything. Now he’s on the charts, but not for his music.

Instead, as of Thursday, Joe Budden has the No. 1 podcast on the iTunes music podcast chart — five slots ahead of the NPR standard-bearer “All Songs Considered.” The Joe Budden Podcast With Rory and Mal is produced at a friend’s house in Queens.

Mr. Budden had a brief taste of mainstream success as a rapper with a Top 40 hit in 2003 before his career stalled. Now he has become a kind of volatile elder statesman of hip-hop, holding forth on his podcast, social media and YouTube before an audience of millions. His soliloquies and tirades, whether a careful examination of a rap diss or a nuanced defense of XXXTentacion, the controversial young rapper who was murdered in June, lend him a credibility he never quite had as an artist.

Mr. Budden is now banking on a new partnership with Spotify to expand on his success. Starting this fall, his podcast will stream exclusively on that platform. (He plans on still uploading videos of the show on YouTube.) The goal, according to Courtney Holt, head of studios and video at Spotify, is to “develop out not just this show, but other shows in the future.” When asked why he thought Spotify was the best home for his show, Mr. Budden said simply, “They weren’t afraid of me.”

Seated at the dining room table in his Montclair, N.J., home, Mr. Budden is just as he seems as a podcast host: expressive and candid and unembarrassed to recount a series of personal and professional misfortunes and poor decisions, from his battles with addiction, messy physical fights that spilled onto social media to rap beefs and shady recording contracts that left him broke for most of his rap career.

He was also accused of beating an ex-girlfriend, and even though charges were dropped, the allegations continue to dog him. “Even if you’re innocent of those things, therapy teaches you to always pay attention to the part that I played in things,” Mr. Budden said. “I didn’t do any of that stuff, but how did I get here? I frequented strip clubs, I popped pills. My life was in disarray. It made me say, ‘No more.’”

READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/22/nyregion/how-joe-budden-became-the-howard-stern-of-hip-hop.html