Kid Rock performs during a concert before the Daytona 500 auto race in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 2015. (AP)
Musician Kid Rock, who says he’s exploring a run for the Senate, delivered an R-rated political speech in Detroit on Tuesday night, chastising everyone from Nazis and professional athletes to single moms and deadbeat dads but pulling up short of officially declaring his candidacy as some had anticipated.
The singer, née Robert Ritchie, debuted his political material last week during a performance in Grand Rapids, Mich., according to the Detroit Free Press. He rebuked the same newspaper earlier Tuesday, revoking its press credentials for the Detroit show and berating editors for publishing an opinion piece that criticized him.
Kid Rock is a vocal, opinionated supporter of President Trump, and has hinted for months that he may challenge Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who is expected to seek a fourth term next year. He launched a website over the summer to gauge his viability.
The event at Detroit’s newly opened Little Caesars Arena, the first of six concerts there by Kid Rock, attracted protesters offended by his past use of the Confederate flag as a prop during performances, and his fierce disapproval of NFL players, namely Colin Kaepernick, who have called attention to social injustice by kneeling during the national anthem.
Those protesters were countered by Kid Rock’s supporters, some displaying the controversial Confederate symbol many associate with slavery and America’s long, deep divisions over race, but there were no immediate indications of violence.
Kid Rock opened his performance with a new song, “Greatest Show on Earth,” its high-octane tempo punctuated by dynamic stage lighting. Brightly colored stilt walkers added to theatrics.
And then the venue went dark.
“Ladies and gentleman,” a public address announcer finally boomed. “Will you please welcome the next senator of the great state of Michigan, Kid ‘m———ing’ Rock.”
The eruption of applause was quickly dowsed by the piercing brass notes of “Hail to the Chief.” He gestured to the audience before striding to a lectern emblazoned with a knockoff of the presidential seal and the words “United States of ’Merica.”
And for the next four minutes he cursed and rhymed (and cursed some more), trumpeting his patriotism and lamenting all that ails our nation, in his view.
He opined about government-mandated health care:
It seems the government wants to give everyone health insurance, but wants us all to pay. And to be very frank, I really don’t have a problem with that, since God has blessed me and made my pockets fat. But redistribution of wealth seems more like their plan. And I don’t believe you should save, sacrifice, do things by the book and then have to take care of some deadbeat, milking the system, lazy a– m———ing man.
He called out single mothers who, in his view, over rely on government assistance:
The issue of struggling single parents is an issue close to my heart. But read my lips: We should not reward those who can’t even take care of themselves but keep having kid after f—ing kid. Of course, we should help them out. I don’t want to stand here and sound like a jerk. But let’s help ’em out with child care, job training and find them a f—ing place to work.
He denounced white supremacists:
Nazis. F—ing bigots. And now again the KKK? I say f— all you racists. Stay the hell away.
He expressed support for gay marriage but drew a hard line on transgender rights:
Things shouldn’t be this complicated and, no, you shouldn’t get to choose. Because whatever you have between your legs should determine the bathroom that you use.
He prayed for God’s guidance in America’s ongoing struggle with crime and terrorism.
And before closing, he called for unity:
And I do believe it to be self evident, that we’re all created equal. I said it once, I’ll scream it again: I love black people. And I love white people, too. But neither as much as I love red, white and blue.
V viewers in the United Kingdom will likely not miss watching Fox News, as the network’s parent company 21st Century Fox announced on Tuesday that the company would pull the channel amid low ratings.
“Fox News is focused on the U.S. market and designed for a U.S. audience and, accordingly, it averages only a few thousand viewers across the day in the U.K.,” 21st Century Fox said in a statement provided to CNN. “We have concluded that it is not in our commercial interest to continue providing Fox News in the U.K.”
While 21st Century Fox said its decision was based on the channel’s inability to attract a considerable audience, critics say it’s actually an attempt to smooth over the media giant’s bid to take over European satellite company Sky. (21st Century Fox owns a controlling stake in Sky PLC, the parent company of the London-headquartered network.)
HuffPost UK reports that if the takeover is successful, it would give Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch access to Sky’s 22 million customers in Europe. This audience would be in addition to those of the three U.K. newspapers ― The Sun, The Times, and The Sunday Times ― that the media mogul already owns.
In June, officials delayed Murdoch’s attempted takeover of the 61 percent of Sky that his family does not currently own. British authorities asked regulators to review the deal to see if the takeover would give the family too much control over the country’s media landscape.
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Sky ceased broadcasting Fox News on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
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Fact#1: “Big Ben” is not the clock tower.
The Big Ben is actually the name of the bell inside the tower. The tower itself is called the “Elizabeth Tower”. The tower is currently tilting to one side, similar to the leaning tower of Pisa! This is partly as a result of decades of underground excavation.
Fact#2: It’s the most visited city in the world.
In 2014, London attracted over 16 million international visitors, setting a record of the most visited city in the world.
Fact#3: Taxi drivers in London have to take a test called “knowledge test”.
The black cab taxi drivers have to pass the insanely difficult geography test called the “knowledge test”. They are expected to master 320 basic routes, all of the 25,000 streets that are scattered within those routes and just about 20,000 landmarks and places of interest within a six-mile radius of Charring Cross. So if you see someone on a scooter with a large map, it could most probably be an aspiring cabbie studying for the “knowledge test”.
Fact#4: The Palace of Westminster is the largest palace in the country.
The houses of parliament are known as the Palace of Westminster. It is the largest palace in the country consisting of 6 restaurants, 8 bars, 1000 rooms, 100 staircases, 11 courtyards, a hair salon and a rifle shooting range. Fun fact: It is illegal to die in the Palace of Westminster.
Fact#5: London tried building its own Eiffel Tower.
In 1889, London started to build a structure designed to surpass the Eiffel Tower in height but it was unsteady and was never completed. It was later on demolished in 1907.
Fact#6: About 40% of Greater London is green space.
There is a lot of greenery is the city of greater London, the whole city is covered in green. With over 8 million trees in London, London can be classified as a forest according to a UN definition.
Fact#7: The city of London is one of the smallest in the UK.
The core city of London is actually the smallest city in London stretching up to only 1.12 square miles with a population of around 7000. However, the area which developed around the core city called Greater London consists of about 8.5 million people and it is large enough to fit 4 New York Cities.
Fact#8: There is a cereal café in London.
There is a special café in London that serves hundreds of varieties of breakfast cereals from around the world. The name of the café is “Cereal Killer Café”.
Fact#9: The world’s first traffic light signal was installed in London.
The world’s first traffic light signal was installed in London in the year 1868 at the junction of Great George St and Bridge St near Westminster Palace in London. However, it was short-lived, as it exploded less than a month later injuring the operating police officer.
Fact#10: “London Eye” is the most popular tourist attraction in London.
The London Eye is the name of a huge Ferris wheel located on the south bank of River Thames. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. It was the tallest in the world until 2006 when the Star of Nanchang in China surpassed it.
(BEIRUT) — Lebanon is seeking to ban the new “Wonder Woman” movie because its lead actress, Gal Gadot, is an Israeli — a reflection of how the decades-old animosity between the two neighbors is also infused in the cultural scene.
A security official said a formal request for a ban has not yet been received.
A ban would require a recommendation from a six-member committee from the Ministry of Economy, a process that has not yet began, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.
A premiere of “Wonder Woman” is scheduled for Wednesday in at least one cinema in Beirut. Posters of the movie and digital billboards have sprouted up around the Lebanese capital.
Lebanon is officially at war with Israel and has a decades-old law that boycotts Israeli products and bars Lebanese citizens from traveling or having contacts with Israelis. The two countries have been through a number of wars, including a particularly devastating one in 2006 that battered Lebanon’s infrastructure and left hundreds dead.
A group called Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon has pressed an effort against the movie. On its Facebook page, the campaign said Gadot was a soldier in the Israeli army and has expressed support for Israel’s military policies against the Gaza Strip, a coastal Palestinian territory run by the militant group Hamas.
“The state took the right decision,” Samah Idriss, a member of the boycott campaign told The Associated Press. “We now await the implementation. … Even if it is one hour before the show, they should ban it anyway.”
Tensions have been rising between Israel and Hezbollah, with Israelis reportedly bombing several Hezbollah targets in Syria in recent months. Israel has signaled that the targets were smuggling sophisticated weapons to Lebanon. Hezbollah officials said recently that they are not seeking war but are ready for it.
On her Facebook page, Gadot had praised Israel’s military during the 2014 Gaza-Israel war, sending prayers to soldiers “who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas.”
Officials at Lebanon’s Economy Ministry did not return calls seeking comment. The security official said banning a movie would ultimately come from the country’s interior minister following a recommendation from the six-member committee.
Warner Bros., which has released the film, declined comment.
Even though Lebanon enjoys a greater margin of freedom of expression than other countries in the region, prior censorship remains in place, particularly with content relating to Israel, religion and homosexuality.
Reflecting tightening of censorship, the Egyptian movie “Mawlana,” about a celebrity Muslim cleric, and a Lebanese movie, “Beach House,” about friends discussing their identities, were banned in Lebanon earlier this year.
“Mawlana” was later shown after cuts were made, said one cinema manager, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing controversy. The two movies were approved in Egypt.
There has been a precedent for the Arab League to call for banning Israel-linked films. In 2013, Arab nations acted on calls by the Arab League to ban the terrorism drama, “The Attack,” that was shot in Israel, even though it was made by Lebanese-born filmmaker Ziad Doueiri.
In a high profile case in 2009, Gad Elmaleh, a French comedian of Moroccan-Jewish descent, canceled his participation in one of Lebanon’s biggest festivals because of concerns for his safety after Hezbollah’s TV station alleged he served in the Israeli army.
In 2015, Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, was in hot water when she appeared in a selfie with Miss Israel, Doron Matalon, in Miami. She later apologized and said the Israeli photobombed her selfie.
Support for the “Wonder Woman” boycott was not unanimous.
Elie Fares, a well-known Lebanese blogger, said the movie already must have been approved to be allowed in theaters in the first place. He said the push for a boycott apparently reflects disputes within the Lebanese government.
“Resist what?” Fares wrote. “A movie about an iconic superhero who’s been part of pop culture for over 70 years. A movie in which the lead actress happens to be Israeli but who’s not portraying ANYTHING related to her ‘country’ in any way whatsoever.”
Lebanon also has a website called “The Virtual Museum of Censorship” that tracks censored artwork since the 1940s.
Boycott campaign supporter Idriss rebuffed critics, saying that politics is inseparable from art.
“We don’t separate art — even romantic movies — from the role of the artist and the intellectual on the ground,” he said.
There is no clear mechanism for appealing a ban on artwork, and public campaigns often are the only means to protest such a ban. Religious institutions also have a say in artwork with religious references.
Despite the controversy in Lebanon, “Wonder Woman” is set to open as scheduled Thursday at theaters in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait on Thursday. It is scheduled for release June 22 in Oman and June 29 in Bahrain.
The movie, based on the DC Comics character, has earned acclaim for Gadot for landing a rare leading role for a woman.
A model and former Miss Israel, Gadot did her mandatory two-year military service in Israel before starting her acting career. She appeared in sequels of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, none of which were banned in Lebanon.
She appeared in other Hollywood movies before appearing as Wonder Woman in last year’s “Batman vs. Superman.”
The same campaigners sought to bar “Batman vs. Superman,” which was shown in Lebanese theaters.
(CNN) A jury was selected Wednesday for comedian Bill Cosby’s June 5 trial.
The full panel of 12 jurors and six alternates was seated after three days of jury selection in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County.
The jury is composed of four white women, six white men, one black woman and one black man. The alternates include four white men, one black woman and one black man.
The case will start June 5 about 300 miles away in Montgomery County, north of Philadelphia, where the criminal charges were filed. The jurors will be bused to Montgomery County and sequestered in a hotel for the length of the trial.
Why Bill Cosby is going to trial now
Cosby, 79, is charged with three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault from a 2004 case involving Andrea Constand, an employee at his alma mater, Temple University.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Cosby, dressed Wednesday in a blue suit, appeared the most relaxed he has been throughout his jury selection.
Cosby didn’t talk to reporters after the first two days, but he did after court adjourned.
“I just want to be very specific about the wonderful people Allegheny County and I also want to also thank the sheriff’s department, because they made everything very very smooth here,” he said.
He walked away and some reporters asked questions about the case.
More than 50 women have come forward in recent years to accuse Cosby of sexual misconduct over the decades, but this is the only criminal trial he has faced. The judge ruled that only one additional accuser may testify against Cosby.
Many of the women allege he drugged and sexually assaulted them.
Cosby has said he will not testify in his defense at the trial. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.
Tunisia- Tunisian Ministry of Tourism and Handicrafts has announced that Qatar is investing more than 380 million dollars to develop two major tourism projects.
Qatar will establish a number of tourism projects in Tunisia, some of which are under construction, including Qatari Diar’s $80 million desert resort project in Tozeur that is scheduled for inauguration in 2018.
Several tourism projects in Tunisia have Qatari investors, including a mega project that is valued at $300 million and which will see a resort built over 15 hectares in Gammarth, north of the Tunisian capital.
Tunisia has welcomed 5.7 million tourists in 2016 and is expected to see more than 6.5 million tourists this year, the ministry added.
Selma Elloumi Rekik, the minister of tourism and handicrafts, announced that Tunisia is preparing a two-day investment forum on October 19 to urge investments in the tourism sector and create the conditions for the revival of the industry.
To promote this event, Elloumi visited a number of Arabian Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Oman and Jordan, urging businessmen to visit Tunisia and invest in the promising tourism sector.
The minister added that Tunisia is working on a new strategy to attract tourists and lure Arabian Gulf investments.
Qatar Development Fund is considering an estimated 250 million dollars to fund some public projects in Tunisia.
Tunisian Finance Minister Lamia Zribi announced that Tunisia will receive up to one billion dollars as funding for the state budget.
Late-night funnyman David Letterman was hardly a barrel of laughs off the air.A new biography of the now-retired talk show host portrays Letterman as more self-loathing than self-critical — and an often miserable man who inflicted his pain on his staff.
“He was never truly comfortable unless he was seething with unhappiness at something,” one longtime writer told author Jason Zinoman in “Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night.”
In fact, few of the acerbic Letterman’s close colleagues sang his praises to Zinoman.
A comedy bit called for a life-size Letterman doll to sit in the guest’s chair. Seemingly on the spur of the moment, Letterman punched the doll — to much audience laughter.
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The laughs continued as he landed a few more blows. And then the 580-seat theater went silent when Letterman fell into a frenzy of punching and slapping his plastic alter ego.
Obviously, something was wrong with Dave.
“People don’t understand why you’re behaving the way you’re behaving,” said Rob Burnett, a trusted colleague and the head of Letterman’s Worldwide Pants production company, in a candid chat with his boss.
The tale of Tim Long, one of several head writers hired during the show’s run, was typical. Unable to deal with the host’s constant rejections and dark moods, Long took to chewing Coke cans — and swallowing pieces of tin.
Even the famously mellow Paul Shaffer lashed out at Letterman one night when Todd Rundgren sat in with the band.
Letterman kept pushing and needling, trying to get Rundgren to do more than the one number done in rehearsal.
“The cat flies in to do us a favor and you just want what you want,” Shaffer yelled at his boss.
It embarrassed Shaffer so much the moment was cut from the show before airing, even though Letterman said he was fine with it.
The irony: Letterman was miserable even when his ratings put the show at No. 1 in late-night viewers. In 1993, he walked away from NBC after the network chose Leno to succeed Johnny Carson, taking the 11:30 p.m. slot on rival CBS for his “Late Show With David Letterman.”
CBS offered Letterman a then-record deal with a $16 million annual salary. The payoff was immediate as Letterman seized the ratings lead against the once-invincible “Tonight.”
Yet Letterman remained miserable. “He always complained from the very beginning,” recalled one producer.
“It got worse when he went to CBS,” recalled Shaffer. “Any flaw, minor flaw, he exaggerated. He was most uncomfortable at No. 1.”
Comic Rich Hall, a writer for Letterman’s NBC show, was floored by the host’s new, abrasive nature when he appeared as a guest. Hall followed actress Andie MacDowell, who had just flopped in her segment. Before the cameras came on, Letterman leaned over and snarled, “How’d you like to be married to that c—?”
What the author calls Letterman’s “ferocious fear of failure” was there from the first.
“What happened, Dave?” asked head writer Steven O’Donnell.
“They are like my peers now,” the host told him.
It was during that era that Letterman started abruptly turning on longtime, trusted colleagues. Barry Sand, a producer and ally since the morning show, suddenly could do nothing right.
After a guest canceled at the last minute, Sand scrambled and was able to book Mel Gibson — then at the height of his fame. Letterman turned on the producer and snarled, “Who the hell wants Mel Gibson? I don’t want Mel Gibson.”
Two years into his campaign as change agent in this conservative oil kingdom, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appears to be gaining the confidence and political clout to push his agenda of economic and social reform.
The young prince outlined his plans in a nearly 90-minute conversation Tuesday night at his office here. Aides said it was his first lengthy on-the-record interview in months. He offered detailed explanations about foreign policy, plans to privatize oil giant Saudi Aramco, strategy for investment in domestic industry, and liberalization of the entertainment sector, despite opposition from some people.
Mohammed bin Salman said that the crucial requirement for reform is public willingness to change. “The most concerning thing is if the Saudi people are not convinced. If the Saudi people are convinced, the sky is the limit.” he said.
Change seems increasingly desired in this young, restless country.
A recent Saudi poll found that 85 percent of the public, if forced to choose, would support the government rather than other authorities, said Abdullah al-Hokail, the head of the government’s public opinion center.
He added that 77 percent of those surveyed supported the government’s “Vision 2030” reform plan, and that 82 percent favored entertainment performances at public gatherings. Though these aren’t independently verified numbers, they do indicate the direction of popular feeling, which Saudis say is matched by anecdotal evidence.
“MBS,” as the deputy crown prince is known, said that he was “very optimistic” about President Trump. He described Trump as “a president who will bring America back to the right track” after Barack Obama, whom Saudi officials mistrusted. “Trump has not yet completed 100 days, and he has restored all the alliances of the US with its conventional allies.”
A sign of the kingdom’s embrace of the Trump administration was the visit here this week by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. While the Obama administration had criticized the Saudi war in Yemen, Mattis discussed the possibility of additional US support if the Houthis there don’t agree to a UN-brokered settlement.
(Writer’s note: I traveled to Saudi Arabia as part of the press corps accompanying Mattis.)
Mohammed bin Salman has been courting Russia, as well as the United States, and he offered an intriguing explanation of Saudi Arabia’s goal in this diplomacy.
“The main objective is not to have Russia place all its cards in the region behind Iran,” he said. To convince Russia that Riyadh is a better bet than Tehran, the Saudis have been “coordinating our oil policies recently” with Moscow, he said, which “could be the most important economic deal for Russia in modern times.”
There’s less apparent political tension than a year ago, when many analysts saw a rivalry between Mohammed bin Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is officially next in line for the throne.
The deputy crown prince appears to be firmly in control of Saudi military strategy, foreign policy and economic planning. He has gathered a team of technocrats who are much younger and more activist than the kingdom’s past leadership.
Reform plans appear to be moving ahead slowly but steadily. Mohammed bin Salman said that the budget deficit had been cut; non-oil revenue increased 46 percent from 2014 to 2016 and is forecast to grow another 12 percent this year. Unemployment and housing remain problems, he said, and improvement in those areas isn’t likely until between 2019 and 2021.
The biggest economic change is the plan to privatize about 5 percent of Saudi Aramco, which Mohammed bin Salman said will take place next year. This public offering would probably raise hundreds of billions of dollars and be the largest such sale in financial history. The exact size of the offering will depend on financial-market demand and the availability of good options for investing the proceeds, the prince told me.
The rationale for selling a share of the kingdom’s oil treasure is to raise money to diversify the economy away from reliance on energy. One priority is mining, which would tap an estimated $1.3 trillion in potential mineral wealth.
The Saudi official listed other investment targets: creating a domestic arms industry, reducing the $60 billion to $80 billion the kingdom spends annually to buy weapons abroad; producing automobiles in Saudi Arabia to replace the roughly $14 billion the government spends annually for imported vehicles; and creating domestic entertainment and tourism industries to capture some of the $22 billion that Saudis spend traveling overseas each year.
The entertainment industry is a proxy for the larger puzzle of how to unlock the Saudi economy. Changes have begun.
A Japanese orchestra performed here this month, before a mixed audience of families. A Comic Con took place in Jeddah recently, with audience dressing up as characters from the TV show “Supernatural” and other favorites. Comedy clubs feature sketch comedians (but no female stand-up comics, yet).
These options are a modest revolution for a Saudi Arabia where the main entertainment venues, until recently, were restaurants and shopping malls. The modern world, in all its raucousness, is coming, for better or worse.
King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh hosted a Monster Jam last month with souped-up trucks. There are plans for a Six Flags theme park south of Riyadh.
Maya al-Athel, one of the dozens of young people hatching plans at the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, said in an interview that she’d like to bring a Museum of Ice Cream, like one she found in New York, to the kingdom.
“We want to boost the culture of entertainment,” said Ahmed al-Khatib, a former investment banker who’s chairman of the entertainment authority. His target is to create six public entertainment options every weekend for Saudis. But the larger goal, he said, is “spreading happiness.”
The instigator of this attempt to reimagine the kingdom is the 31-year-old deputy crown prince. With his brash demeanor, he’s the opposite of the traditional Bedouin reserve of past Saudi leaders. Unlike so many Saudi princes, he wasn’t educated in the West, which may have preserved the raw combative energy that is part of his appeal for young Saudis.
The trick for Mohammed bin Salman is to maintain the alliance with the United States, without seeming to be America’s puppet. “We have been influenced by US a lot,” he said. “Not because anybody exerted pressure on us — if anyone puts pressure on us, we go the other way. But if you put a movie in the cinema and I watch it, I will be influenced.” Without this cultural nudge, he said, “we would have ended up like North Korea.” With the United States as a continuing ally, “undoubtedly, we’re going to merge more with the changes in the world.”
Mohammed bin Salman is careful when he talks about religious issues. So far, he has treated the religious authorities as allies against radicalism rather than cultural adversaries. He argues that extreme religious conservatism in Saudi Arabia is a relatively recent phenomenon, born in reaction to the 1979 Iranian revolution and the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by Sunni radicals later that year as a reaction to the Shi’ite radicalism.
“I’m young. Seventy percent of our citizens are young,” the prince said. “We don’t want to waste our lives in this whirlpool that we were in the past 30 years. We want to end this epoch now. We want, as the Saudi people, to enjoy the coming days, and concentrate on developing our society and developing ourselves as individuals and families, while retaining our religion and customs. We will not continue to be in the post-’79 era,” he concluded. “That age is over.”
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