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Sunday, August 31, 2014

NFL Player Ray McDonald Arrested on Domestic Violence Charges

NFL Player Ray McDonald Arrested on Domestic Violence Charges


NFL Player Ray McDonald Arrested on Domestic Violence Charges

Posted: 31 Aug 2014 10:39 AM PDT

San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald was arrested early Sunday morning on felony domestic violence charges, according to the San Jose Police Department.

McDonald was taken into custody and brought to the Santa Clara County Jail after officers responded to reports of a violent altercation in San Jose, Calif., around 2:45 a.m., NBC Bay Area reports. The alleged victim was pregnant. No bail has been set.

The 29-year-old, who has been with the team since 2007, was previously arrested in 2010 for DUI and again in 2012 for an outstanding warrant.

The arrest comes in the same week as National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell instituted harsher punishments for players guilty of domestic violence, sexual assault and other violent crimes against women. First-time offenders will be subject to a six-game suspension, while a repeat offender will be banned from the league for life.

Goodell was motivated to change the league’s policies after being widely criticized over the suspension of Ray Rice for only two games in July, after the Baltimore Ravens running back was captured on video pulling his unconscious fiancĂ© out of an elevator following an altercation.

The NFL commissioner later acknowledged that he “didn't get it right” on Rice’s punishment. (As TIME’s Sean Gregory notes, the league gives year-long suspensions for marijuana use.)

In a Sunday statement, 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke said that the team is “aware of the recent reports regarding Ray McDonald and we take such matters seriously. As we continue to gather the facts, we will reserve further comment."

Former 49ers players say head coach Jim Harbaugh has a zero-tolerance policy for assaulting women, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "He said that we can do anything in the world and we can come and talk to him and he'll forgive us except put our hands on women," Donte Whitner, who now plays for the Cleveland Browns, said in 2012. "If you put your hand on a woman, then you're done in his book."

[NBC Bay Area]

Stormy Weather Chases Summer Away Over Labor Day Weekend

Posted: 31 Aug 2014 09:55 AM PDT

The Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer, has been wet, windy and distinctly unsummery in many parts of the U.S., with strong thunderstorms expected through the middle of the country and into the Northeast.

While conditions for possible tornadoes settled down significantly Sunday, a strong jet stream that dipped south over the weekend dropped heavy rain that created floods in the Lower Mississippi Valley. Several feet of standing water left stalled and stranded cars Saturday on the streets of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Read more from our partners at NBC News

Militia Says it ‘Secured’ US Compound in Libya

Posted: 31 Aug 2014 09:41 AM PDT

The Islamist-allied militia group in control of Libya’s capital has “secured” a U.S. Embassy residential compound there, more than a month after American personnel evacuated from the country over ongoing fighting, one of its commanders said Sunday.

The Islamist militia’s move likely will reinvigorate debate in the U.S. over its role in Libya, more than three years after supporting rebels who toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi. It also comes near the two-year anniversary of the slaying of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya’s second-largest city of Benghazi.

An Associated Press journalist walked through the U.S. Embassy compound Sunday after the Dawn of Libya, an umbrella group for Islamist militias, invited onlookers inside. Some windows at the compound had been broken, but it appeared most of the equipment there remained untouched. The journalist saw treadmills, food, televisions and computers still inside.

A commander for the Dawn of Libya group, Moussa Abu-Zaqia, told the AP that his forces had entered and been in control of the compound since last week, a day after it has seized control of the capital and its international airport after weeks of fighting with a rival militia. Abu-Zaqia said the rival militia was in the compound before his troops took it over.

The Dawn of Libya militia is not associated with the extremist militia Ansar al-Shariah, which Washington blames for the deadly assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, that killed Stevens and the three other Americans.

On July 26, U.S. diplomats evacuated the compound and the capital to neighboring Tunisia under a U.S. military escort as fighting between rival militias intensified. The State Department said embassy operations would be suspended until the security situation improved. The fighting prompted diplomats and thousands of Tripoli residents to flee. Dozens were killed.

A video posted online surfaced Sunday showing men playing in a pool at the compound and jumping into it from the roof. Voice heard in the video identified it as the U.S. Embassy compound.

In a message on Twitter, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones said the video appeared to have been shot in at the embassy’s residential annex, though she said she couldn’t “say definitively” since she wasn’t there.

“To my knowledge & per recent photos the US Embassy Tripoli chancery & compound is now being safeguarded and has not been ransacked,” she wrote on Twitter. She did not immediately respond to a request to elaborate. State Department officials in Washington also declined to immediately comment.

Tripoli is witnessing one of its worst spasms of violence since Gadhafi’s ouster in 2011. The militias, many of which originate from rebel forces that fought Gadhafi, became powerful players in post-war Libya, filling a void left by weak police and a shattered army. Successive governments have put militias on their payroll in return for maintaining order, but rivalries over control and resources have led to fierce fighting among them and posed a constant challenge to the central government and a hoped-for transition to democracy.

Following weeks of fighting that brought the capital to a standstill, the Dawn of Libya militia said last week it managed to seize control of Tripoli’s airport and drive a rival militia from the mountain town of Zintan out of the capital. It is now deployed around the capital and has sought to restore normalcy in the city. The group called on foreign diplomats to return now that the fighting has subsided.

Here’s Your First Trailer for Downton Abbey Season 5

Posted: 31 Aug 2014 09:26 AM PDT

Downton Abbey is getting extra political this year: the fifth season of the hit period drama takes place in 1924, the year of Britain’s first Labour party government and, consequently, a year of dramatic social change at the Crawley estate.

Cast members such as Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter and Laura Carmichael are all returning, while guest-stars Anna Chancellor and Richard E. Grant will introduce a few new characters into the mix.

Stray water bottles, however, are not expected to return.

Parks and Rec’s Cones of Dunshire Game Is (Almost) Real

Posted: 31 Aug 2014 09:12 AM PDT

From the lips of nerds to God’s ears: Cones of Dunshire, the amusingly complex fictional board game featured in Parks and Recreation has become a real-life game thanks to the company behind Settlers of Catan.

Parks and Recreation producers originally contacted Mayfair Games to create a loose concept for the game that Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) dreams up during time off between jobs, as Vulture reported last year. But while a commercial version of the game isn’t headed to stores, Mayfair did flesh out the concept and debut it at gaming convention GenCon, where 33 people paid $100 to participate.

“I don't think that there was a plan to produce an actual game, and whatever cohesiveness there was to the content was almost an afterthought,” Alex Yeager of Mayfair told Nuvo, Indianapolis’ alt-weekly. “As we've moved forward with our planning for this charity event, we've come to regret that a little bit!”

Scott and Aziz Ansari, who plays Tom Haverford on the NBC comedy, even made an introductory video for the event. But no word yet on whether any of the lucky gamers followed it up with a round of True American.

Pakistan Protestors Clash with Police as Calls for Sharif’s Ouster Grow

Posted: 31 Aug 2014 09:00 AM PDT

There is an old joke about Islamabad, the sleepy and verdant capital of Pakistan: It is half the size of a Arlington National cemetery, it goes, but twice as dead. On Saturday night, however, the quiet streets near the government buildings in Islamabad were transformed into what many observers compared to a warzone, as anti-government protestors clashed for hours with the police amid clouds of tear gas. Three people are reported to have died, and hundreds wounded.

The clashes have dimmed hopes of an agreement being reached between the embattled government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the tens of thousands of protestors led by former cricket legend turned opposition leader Imran Khan and his ally, cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri.

Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, contends the elections last year which brought Sharif to power for a third time were rigged. He is demanding the resignation of Sharif and fresh elections. Qadri wants nothing less than a complete overhaul of the political system through a "revolution". Until Saturday, authorities had generally tolerated the crowds of protestors who began gathering in Islamabad Aug. 14 for mostly peaceful demonstrations.

But as Khan and Qadri make clear that they will not settle for anything short of Sharif's resignation, the deadlock has raised the prospect of an increasingly dangerous confrontation that could bring down the 15-month-old civilian government.

The two sides blame each other for the violence. Late on Saturday, Khan and Qadri urged their followers to enter the highly fortified "Red Zone" of the capital, a security-sensitive area at one end of Islamabad that is home to the presidential palace, parliament, the Prime Minister's house, the Supreme Court, and many foreign embassies. The government says that it was forced to respond after the protestors cleared away shipping containers used as barricades and advanced toward the prime minister's residence.

Doctors treating the injured said that the police had used several rounds of tear gas, baton charges and even rubber bullets. Images circulating on social media showed the bodies of protestors bearing bloody and livid scars from the apparent use of rubber bullets. At the same time, the police said that they were confronted with a contingent intent on carrying out violence against state institutions, armed with large sticks, hammers and iron rods. Some of the protestors cut the gates at parliament, letting hundreds enter into its lawns and parking area.

Pakistan's journalists were caught in the middle of the clashes. Geo TV, one of Pakistan's largest news channels, claimed that its offices were attacked by protestors, broadcasting images of large holes in its glass building. The standoff between the government and the protestors has sharply polarized Pakistan's lively and excitable news media, with prominent news anchors taking vocal positions on both sides of the divide.

Sharif’s government has attempted to engage with the demonstrators. Earlier in the week, the army chief General Raheel Sharif—no relation to the prime minister—had been asked by the government to step in and mediate an end to the protests. But neither Khan nor Qadri seem prepared to compromise on anything short of their exacting demands.

The government says that it is prepared to give Khan all he has asked for, including a high-profile judicial inquiry into allegations of electoral fraud, except Sharif’s resignation. But on Sunday morning, the onetime cricket star appeared emboldened by the protests, calling on supporters around the country to convene on Islamabad for a fresh night of protests.

Not all of Khan’s allies believe that’s the best approach. Javed Hashmi, a widely-respected member of Khan's party, spoke out Sunday against the decision to advance on the prime minister's residence and parliament. "This kind of behavior is not seen in any country in the world, where people pick up sticks and protest outside the prime minister's house," Hashmi said. He added that if martial law is imposed in the country, Khan will bear the blame for leading Pakistan to that fate.

Sharif, meanwhile, remains determined to stay in power. But Saturday night's violence, with the threat of another confrontation Sunday, may have eroded his authority further. Up to now, analysts believed that Sharif’s premiership would withstand the demonstrations, despite being weakened by them. On Sunday morning, however, several commentators on Pakistani news channels have been drawing comparisons with 1977, when anti-rigging protests and police brutality against the backdrop of failed negotiations led to a military coup.

What’s Next For Michael Sam?

Posted: 31 Aug 2014 08:27 AM PDT

The NFL may not see its first openly gay player on a regular season roster this year after all.

The St Louis Rams announced Saturday that Michael Sam didn’t make the team’s 53-man roster, but analysts say the rookie defensive end still has a shot at a career in the NFL.

Sam now becomes a free agent, but if another team doesn’t pick him up, he might end up back where he started: with the Rams, as part of their 10-member practice squad, the Washington Post reported. In that case, the player would practice with the team but not play in games.

Watch the video above for more on what analysts say is in store for Sam.

Firewatch Is One of the Most Gorgeous Game’s You’ll See All Year

Posted: 31 Aug 2014 08:18 AM PDT

Firewatch, the first, much-anticipated game from Camp Santo, unveiled its first trailer this week. The video the plight of the game’s main character as well as his companion, a voice on the distant end of a radio. Campo Santo is a new studio that includes designers Jake Rodkin and Sean Vanaman, both of Telltale Games’ acclaimed Walking Dead series. The group also includes Nels Anderson who worked on Mark of the Ninja and graphic designer Olly Moss. The game is planned for release on Linux, Mac and Windows sometime in 2015. You can watch the entire trailer here, or check out some of the most beautiful bits below.

[Campo Santo]

Campo Santo Productions
Campo Santo Productions
Campo Santo Productions
firewatch_5
Campo Santo Productions
Campo Santo Productions

Last Known Survivor of Hindenburg Flight Crew Dies at 92

Posted: 31 Aug 2014 08:00 AM PDT

A German man thought to be the last surviving flight crew member of the Hindenburg airship that crashed 77 years ago has died at the age of 92.

Werner Franz suffered a heart attack on Aug. 13 in his hometown of Frankfurt, Germany, the Associated Press reports.

Franz was working as a cabin boy at the age of 14 when the Zeppelin caught fire and crashed into Lakehurst, N.J., on May 6, 1937, killing a total of 36. The incident has become one of the most iconic aircraft accidents in history, partly due to broadcast coverage of the disaster and Herbert Morrison famously crying out, “Oh, the humanity!” during his eyewitness report.

Franz jumped out of the aircraft as it was falling to the ground and escaped “without a scratch on him,” historian and friend John Provan said.

“Werner was most fortunate because he was in the officers’ mess cleaning up,” Provan told the AP. “Above him was a large tank of water that burst open and drenched him, which protected him a bit from the flames and the heat.”

Three other survivors of the crash are believed to be still alive, according to Navy Lakehurst Historical Society president Carl Jablonski: Werner Doehner and Horst Schirmer, both passengers, and Robert Buchanan, a member of the ground crew that had been waiting to secure the airship.

[AP]

China Rules Out Open Election in Hong Kong, Setting Stage for ‘Occupy’ Protest

Posted: 31 Aug 2014 07:52 AM PDT

On democracy, there will be no compromise. That’s the message Beijing sent the city of Hong Kong on Sunday. After months of rallies calling for free and fair elections, China’s legislature effectively shut the door on full democracy, ruling out open nominations for the planned 2017 election of the city’s chief executive (CE), the local government’s top leader.

Since Hong Kong returned to China in 1997, the CE has been chosen by an electoral commission dominated by establishment figures. In 2017, the CE will be elected by Hong Kong voters. But the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing has now confirmed that it will retain its gatekeeper role, making sure candidates are first vetted by a committee to gauge whether they demonstrate, among others things, sufficient “love for country.”

The announcement sets the stage for renewed conflict in the city of 7 million. On Sunday evening, local time, several thousand people gathered at government offices to protest. On an open-air stage framed by the People’s Liberation Army’s Hong Kong headquarters and lighted by the city’s skyscrapers, democracy campaigners denounced the CCP and vowed to push ahead with plans to shut down the city’s financial district. The group behind the push for civil disobedience, Occupy Central with Love and Peace, did not say when, or how, the ‘occupation’ would start.

“We’re telling Beijing this is the start of a movement,” said Prof. Joseph Cheng, convenor of the Alliance for True Democracy, an umbrella group advocating an open nomination process. “We don’t want to be just another Chinese city.” Beijing warned that if democratic legislators did not support its 2017 plan, the territory would revert to the current system of the choosing the CE, which has been criticized by many in Hong Kong as unrepresentative and undemocratic.

Becoming “just another Chinese city” is at the heart of the activism, and counter-activism, currently shaking Hong Kong. It has been 17 years since the territory was returned to Chinese sovereignty. Under a political conceit called “one country, two systems,” Hong Kong retained certain freedoms, but was to be beholden, on matters of security, to Beijing. Over the years, however, many Hong Kong citizens say their relative autonomy has been eroded with Beijing pressuring the city’s politicians, businesspeople, journalists and even judges to get its way.

Fears about Hong Kong’s status as a special administrative region of China have brought together wide swathes of Hong Kong society to either oppose, or support, the diktats of the CCP. This spring, some 800,000 people voted on a civil society-backed plebiscite on electoral reform that Beijing deemed illegal. Shortly afterward, on the July 1 anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, tens of thousands of people (estimates ranged from under 100,000 to more than 500,000) marched to show their support for democratic reform. The pro-Beijing camp held their own hundreds-strong counter-protest and issued a petition signed by 1.3 million supporters of their own.

The latest ruling will only deepen divisions, further widening the gap between those who welcome China’s influence (or believe there is no practical choice but to accept it), and those who see it as a threat. It may also lead to polarization within the pro-democracy camp, as the movement wrestles with how to move forward. For some, the civil disobedience spearheaded by Occupy Central is not enough.”We have to stand up for ourselves,” said Bobby Chan, a 50-year-old private investor who attended Sunday’s protest. “Enough is enough."

Other self-styled democrats are wary of plans to paralyse Central, the city’s financial district and lifeblood. They worry that blocking a vital part of the economy, and disobeying Beijing, will hurt, not help, Hong Kong’s cause. In a much-discussed editorial for the South China Morning Post, titled “The logic of Beijing’s vision for 2017 chief executive election,” lawmaker Regina Ip argued that the Chinese plan was based on international law and left room for democratic reform in the future. Progress will come with time and trust in the authorities, she reasoned. In a telephone interview with TIME, Ip said Occupy Central’s “damage” to the city would depend on how many people take part and how many participants represent the “hardcore element.”

“Hardcore,” or, to use Beijing’s language, “extremist” elements, figure heavily in the CCP’s opposition to Hong Kong protest movements. In recent weeks, state-backed media have stepped up their rhetorical battle, claiming the democracy movement was a threat to the stability of the territory and the country. Citing an unnamed government source, state media also warned against foreign interference, saying central authorities will not allow anyone to use Hong Kong “as a bridgehead” to subvert, or infiltrate the mainland. "The Chinese government is convinced that there are forces in Hong Kong that want to undermine China," says David Zweig, director of the Center on China's Transnational Relations at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Many activists are unbowed. “We fought for democracy for over three decades," said Lam Cheuk Ting, chief executive of the Democratic Party, at Sunday’s demonstration in Hong Kong. “We have tolerated an undemocratic government for more than 15 years.” The people, he said, are “extremely angry.”

As heavy rain soaked Lam and his fellow protestors, some of whom were in tears, an advertisement flashed above them. From the heights of a tower bearing the name of a Chinese state-owned investment company, CITIC, beamed a fluorescent slogan, in English and Chinese; it read: “A New Chapter.” Not for Hong Kong.

—with reporting by Zoher Abdoolcarim, Charlie Campbell and David Stout in Hong Kong

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