Sunday, October 5, 2014

Newly Discovered Mass Grave Linked to Missing Mexican Students

Newly Discovered Mass Grave Linked to Missing Mexican Students

Newly Discovered Mass Grave Linked to Missing Mexican Students

Posted: 05 Oct 2014 10:38 AM PDT

A mass grave with an unconfirmed number of bodies was discovered in a part of Mexico near to where 43 college students were abducted, authorities announced Saturday night.

Guerrero State Attorney General Iñaky Blanco said there was a connection between the burial site and the students’ disappearance from a teachers’ college the previous weekend, the Wall Street Journal reports. However, Blanco said it would be “irresponsible” without DNA tests to confirm that the bodies were the missing students.

Mexico’s Proceso, citing anonymous sources, reported that 20 bodies had been discovered. The Associated Press reports that six pits had been discovered but did not report a body count.

The students disappeared after clashing with police during a protest that turned violent. Officials have detained 30 people, including 22 police officers, in the case. Blanco said that a local criminal organization, Los Guerreros Unidos, was connected with the violence and the disappearances.

Close to 100,000 Mexicans have been killed or gone missing in drug-related violence since 2006, when former President Felipe Calderon ordered the country’s military to reclaim parts of the country under the influence of drug cartels.


Pope Francis’s Family Synod Forgoes Flash for Spiritual Depth

Posted: 05 Oct 2014 10:26 AM PDT

It can be easy to fixate on the idea that the Extraordinary Synod on the Family beginning in Rome this week is purely about Catholic Church politics. The world clamors for the latest Catholic hubbub about divorce and remarriage policies, annulment reform, and which Cardinal holds which position on what agenda or controversial marital issue. But something more is happening as bishops gather for the first major doctrinal and pastoral summit of the Francis papacy; something quieter, deeper, and less immediately obvious: a spiritual renewal that Pope Francis hopes to foster between church leaders and their people.

This spiritual undercurrent, although quiet, has been powerfully present in the Holy Father’s actions this weekend. On Saturday evening, before the synod officially began and as a pink sun set behind St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis called the people to gather in the piazza to pray for the upcoming two-weeks of Synod conversations. A choir chanted a hymn as tens of thousands of people arrived, each silently, most with their families. When dusk fell and the moon had risen, each person lit a candle, and thousands of drops of light filled the square. Vieni Santo Spirito, vieni, or Come Holy Spirit, come, the people sang with the choir, over and over. “May the Wind of Pentecost blow upon the Synod’s work, on the Church, and on all of humanity,” Francis told to the crowd. “Undo the knots which prevent people from encountering one another, heal the wounds that bleed, rekindle hope.”

This prayer service was more testimony to the conviction that any real change in the Church must start with prayer—and a reminder of the people themselves. They, these people, these families, are the reason Francis called this Extraordinary Synod in the first place. It is only the third such special meeting a Pope has called since the Synod of the Bishops was created in 1965. The crowd was so vast that Francis himself most surely could not see the details—the children playing with their candles and dripping wax in patterns on the pavers, mothers comforting crying babies, a son helping a grandmother to a chair, the teenage couple taking selfies—but these are the people who experience the issues of family and marriage in ways clergy, who are celibate, rarely do. He was telling the people that they were foremost on his mind as the Synod began.

Francis was also reminding the bishops that the people were foremost on his mind. Most of the church leaders present Saturday evening had just arrived in Rome after having prepared for the Synod for a year, surveying their own congregations about modern family life for their peers’ review these coming weeks. Now, Francis stood before them and the first thing he did was to gather them to encounter the people and their sparks of light. Only when the service ended did he turn to greet the cardinals, one by one. The liturgical message about his priorities, and their priorities in turn, was hard to miss.

If the Holy Father’s Saturday prayer service was about the people, his Sunday mass turned to the bishops. Inside St. Peter’s Basilica, standing beneath Michelangelo’s dome and above St. Peter’s tomb, the Holy Father gave a pointed homily about the bishops’ role. The job of leaders, he preached, is to nurture the vineyard—a Biblical image for the people of God. “Synod Assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent,” he preached. “We are all sinners and can also be tempted to ‘take over’ the vineyard, because of that greed which is always present in us human beings. God’s dream always clashes with the hypocrisy of some of his servants. We can ‘thwart’ God’s dream if we fail to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit.”

His meaning was clear. This meeting is not a time for the bishops to each shine with their own debates, Francis was saying, but rather a time to focus on the people and what the people need. It is, as he put it, about developing “plans [that] will correspond to God’s dream: to form a holy people who are his own and produce the fruits of the kingdom of God.”

The next two weeks will be telling. Francis is presiding over the world’s last truly medieval court, which can at times appear to revert to high school drama and power plays. But the spiritual moments that have shaped the Synod’s start are a concrete reminder that Francis the pastor is the one calling the shots. He’s the one walking the incense around the papal altar at mass, he’s the one celebrating Eucharist, and he’s the one determining where the ultimate emphasis is placed. He is the one in St. Peter’s seat. The bishops are there at his request. It’s the tone he sets that matters.

Sarah Silverman Does Joan Rivers Impression on SNL

Posted: 05 Oct 2014 10:00 AM PDT

Comedian Sarah Silverman hosted SNL for the first time Saturday night, and kept the audience entertained with her impression of Joan Rivers in heaven.

As Rivers, Silverman roasted other dearly departed stars Steve Jobs, Ben Franklin and Richard Pryor. The impression of Rivers was spot-on, and the comedic tribute from Silverman was a touching homage to her late friend.

Sarah Silverman Hosts SNL: Best, Worst and Weirdest Moments

Posted: 05 Oct 2014 09:52 AM PDT

Sarah Silverman made a triumphant return to Studio 8H last night–triumphant because Silverman was fired as a featured player on Saturday Night Live after appearing for just one season (1993-1994), but now, thanks to her subsequent success, gets to host the whole evening. That definitely deserves a victory lap.

The opening monologue took full advantage of her history on the show, cutting between old footage of a ’90s bit in which the baby-faced, 20-something Silverman acted as an audience plant to pepper the host with questions, and the current 40-something Silverman onstage answering herself.

The odd questions included “how does a human knee bend?” and “what did dinosaurs eat?” which current-day Silverman answered charmingly.

Last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live was far more consistent than the Chris Pratt’s season opener, with more gems than clunkers. While the writers and cast work on getting their post-hiatus groove back, it seemed like the right move to let a professional comedian host.

The Good, The Bad, The Weird:

The Best Joke: “Adam Levine, we are not stopping at Pizza Hut!” Silverman gets to yell, in a scene about a pick-up from the airport goes that deteriorates after she confesses to cheating on her boyfriend. As for most prolonged joke, the trailer for The Fault in our Stars 2: The Ebola in our Everything was timely, hilarious and strangely moving. You can’t quarantine your heart!

The Best Sketch: Pairing the production values of a political commercial with Train’s “Hey Soul Sister,” SNL‘s white cast members and Silverman gently remind white people that while they’ve had a great run, they are going to be in the minority soon. The ad encourages white people to make the most of their remaining time as a majority by hiking, camping and maybe electing four more white presidents, even if they have to be women. The sketch was especially funny as it seemed to also poke fun of itself, as SNL has continued to come under fire over the years for not casting many people of color.

The Worst Sketch: What was meant to be a funny jab at a woman’s love of her expensive blender just felt like an overt attempt at product placement. Hopefully Vanessa Bayer and Silverman got free blenders for agreeing to this.

The Weirdest Sketch: Silverman donned a fur coat and wig to play Joan Rivers roasting people in heaven. As befits a Joan Rivers tribute sketch, there were some harsh-but-funny zingers, including one aimed at Richard Pryor (“The longest relationship he had was with multiple sclerosis”). Other targets included Steve Jobs, Ava Gardner and Freddie Mercury (played here by Adam Levine), the latter of whom earned the comment, “You’re so gay, even your teeth aren’t straight.” While well-intentioned, the tribute may have fallen into the “too soon” category for the audience, and the dearth of laughs made the sketch uncomfortable to watch even from home.

Other Things:

Maroon 5: As Silverman asked in the cheating sketch, “Why is Adam Levine here?” Oh right: To remind the world to go buy “Animals.”

“Supportive Women”: While the sketch itself was not exactly hilarious —with Silverman, Aidy Bryant and Cecily Strong contradicting soap opera tropes and playing supportive women—Kenan Thompson’s performance as the truly odd host of Forgotten TV Gems is worth watching.

Pete Davidson: The show’s first millennial star made a strong debut last week, but was completely absent this week.

If you DVR’d it:

Skip: Riverboat Sisters. Kenan Thompson played a riverboat emcee who introduced a trio of singers—Silverman, Cecily Strong, and Sasheer Zamata—dressed as Tina Turner in wigs and flapper dresses singing “Proud Mary”. They interrupted their performance for heartfelt personal monologues spoken directly into the camera. The actors seemed to want the sketch to end as much as the audience did.

Do Not Skip: Weekend Update. Michael Che and Colin Jost have hit their stride as the new hosts of Weekend Update. Their easy back-and-forth about what words each of them can say (“in the club” is out for Jost and “toodle-oo” is off-limits to Che) and their quick-witted, straight-faced banter is a good omen for the future of the segment. Highlights include Che’s question about the spread of the Ebola virus into the United States (“Who goes to Texas and Africa?”) and Kenan Thompson’s Al Sharpton’s mispronunciations.

B.B. King Cancels Tour Dates Due to Exhaustion and Dehydration

Posted: 05 Oct 2014 08:59 AM PDT

Celebrities have made “dehydration” and “exhaustion” a cause for suspicion, not concern, in the past several years, but when the icon suffering is blues legend B.B. King, the news is more sobering.

The 89-year-old guitarist has canceled the remaining eight dates on his tour after becoming ill during a Friday evening performance at the House of Blues in Chicago, King’s official website announced Saturday. After the performance, a doctor evaluated King and quickly diagnosed him.

Watch Ben Affleck and Bill Maher Argue About Islam

Posted: 05 Oct 2014 08:42 AM PDT

Gone Girl star Ben Affleck and Real Time host Bill Maher got into a heated argument about Islam on Maher’s HBO talk show Friday.

Maher and author Sam Harris argued that liberals were backing away from criticizing Islam’s stance on women’s and LGBT rights because people “have been sold this meme of Islamophobia, where every criticism gets confused with bigotry toward Muslims as people.” Harris called Islam “the motherlode of bad ideas”; Maher called Islam “the only religion that acts like the mafia — that will f-cking kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.”

Affleck, however, called these characterizations “gross and racist” and argued that Maher and Harris were just conflating the minority views of radical jihadists with the beliefs of the rest of the world’s estimated 1.6 billion Muslims. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof also jumped in on the conversation at points. Watch the full debate above.

6 Questions You Might Have About Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Posted: 05 Oct 2014 08:32 AM PDT

1. Why the umbrellas?

Hong Kong students are currently protesting for more political freedom and have been using umbrellas to protect themselves from police pepper spray. The umbrellas became a symbol of the movement and gave it its nickname, the Umbrella Revolution. Though protest leaders say their campaign is not a revolution but a civil disobedience movement, the name Umbrella Revolution has stuck.

2. Who are the main players?

The movement was initiated by a group called Occupy Central with Love and Peace, led by Hong Kong University law professor Benny Tai. Tai’s original agenda was to stage a sit-in on Oct. 1 in Central — the city’s financial district — but he decided to begin a few days earlier to capitalize on political momentum after several students were pepper-sprayed and arrested. That heavy handed police action also spurred parallel sit-ins in Causeway Bay and across the water in Kowloon.

There are also student groups separate from Occupy Central but with very similar aims. The two main ones are Scholarism, led by a precocious 17-year-old, Joshua Wong, and the Hong Kong Federation of Students, led by Alex Chow, 24, and his deputy Lester Shum.

3. So what do Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters want?

The main demand is full democracy. Protesters want the right to nominate and directly elect the head of the Hong Kong government, known as the Chief Executive.

China, which resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong after it stopped being a British colony in 1997, wants to screen who can stand for office. Beijing insists that candidates for the Chief Executive position must be vetted by an electoral committee of tycoons, oligarchs and pro-Beijing figures.

As a secondary demand, protestors want the current Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying, to resign, which he has flatly refused to do. Leung is widely disliked because he is seen as prioritizing China’s interests over Hong Kong’s. He was also indirectly elected by an electoral college of just 1,200 voters, of which 689 voted for him. He is mockingly referred to as “689” after this feeble tally.

4. Well, why doesn’t China just let Hong Kong have more freedom?

The Communist Party insists on maintaining political control. It isn’t about to let China’s most international city—which is already highly porous—choose its own leader, in case an opponent of the Communist Party gets elected as Chief Executive and becomes an advertisement to the rest of China of the possibility of democratic change.

At the same time, Beijing is aware that Hong Kong, because of its past as a British territory, is a special case. Hong Kong has an independent judiciary, common law, freedom of information and movement, a reasonably free press, and so on. The Communist Party thinks this semi-autonomy should be enough for Hong Kong, but a well-educated and well-traveled generation of young Hong Kongers wants more. They have always enjoyed Western-style freedoms and want the political enfranchisement that comes with it. They feel little in common with Mainland Chinese and want Hong Kong to become politically autonomous—almost independent. These are the people at the forefront of the Umbrella Revolution.

5. Does everyone in Hong Kong support this movement?

No. Many, especially the older generation, are actively opposed to it because they are afraid of antagonizing China. They remember the bloody suppression of the Tiananmen uprising in Beijing in 1989, and point to the currently harsh political climate in China, and conclude that Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution is doomed. They argue that, by challenging the party, the students are only inviting Beijing to withdraw the freedoms that Hong Kong does have.

The older generation is also more concerned about economic stability. It’s already hard enough to make a living in hyper-expensive Hong Kong, they say, without sit-ins bringing the city to a halt, and all in the name of a cause that has no hope of winning anyway.

6. What happens next?

Nobody is really sure. But whether the current occupations end peacefully, with a student withdrawal, or violently, with riot police sent in, one thing is certain: Hong Kong’s democratic movement is only just getting started. It will come out of this with greater skills and experience and it will have groomed young leaders who know how to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people, and who know how to put across their cause in international media. For the party bosses in Beijing, that’s a big headache. Watch this space.

Texas Company Recalls Nearly 91,000 Pounds of Beef

Posted: 05 Oct 2014 08:22 AM PDT

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says a Texas company is recalling nearly 91,000 pounds of ground beef products that might be contaminated with pieces of metal.

Corpus Christi-based Sam Kane Beef Processors is recalling the beef products after four consumer complaints were received about pieces of metal, approximately 3 mm in size, being found.

Three of the products being recalled — packages of 3, 5 and 10 pounds — were sold by HEB stores and another was a set of 10 pound packages of formed patties made from Sam Kane Beef Processors “Ground Chuck.”

The packages were produced between Sept. 9, 2014 and Sept. 18, 2014, with sell by dates between Sept. 29, 2014 and Oct. 8, 2014. The products were shipped to retail outlets in Texas.

Giants-Nats Game Longest in Postseason History

Posted: 05 Oct 2014 08:10 AM PDT

The San Francisco Giants’ 2-1 victory over the Washington Nationals this weekend was the longest Major League Baseball postseason game in history, going for 18 innings — literally two games’ worth of innings — and lasting for six hours and 23 minutes.

The record-setting event technically spans days: the second game in the National League Division Series began around 5:37 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 4, but finished after midnight on Sunday, which also happens to be the birthday of Nats pitcher Tanner Roark, according to

The previous record for longest postseason game was set in 2005, when the Houston Astros beat the Atlanta Braves 7-6 in game four of the NLDS, which took five hours and 50 minutes.


Three U.S. Airmen Missing After Typhoon Hits Okinawa

Posted: 05 Oct 2014 08:09 AM PDT

Three airmen in Okinawa, Japan, were missing and feared drowned Sunday after being swept away by waves caused by Typhoon Phanfone, the U.S Air Force and local coastguard officials said. “Three airmen were washed out to sea from the northwest coast of Okinawa” at about 3:45 p.m. local time (2.45 a.m. ET), the Kadena Air Base said in a statement.

A coastguard helicopter was deployed to search for the three shortly after 4 p.m. local time (3 a.m. ET) Sunday, officials told NBC News. One body was found at 5.52 p.m. (4.52 a.m. ET), the coastguard said – but this was not confirmed by military officials …

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News


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