Tribes Call for Ban on Drilling Near Sacred New Mexico site

Native American leaders are banding together to pressure U.S. officials to ban oil and gas exploration around a sacred tribal site that features massive stone structures and other remnants of an ancient civilization but are facing the Trump administration’s pro-drilling stance. 

Creating a formal buffer around Chaco Culture National Historical Park has been a long-running issue, but tribes are pushing for further protections as U.S. officials revamp the management plan for the area surrounding the world heritage site as well as large portions of northwestern New Mexico and southern Colorado.

Federal officials repeatedly have denied drilling leases within a 10-mile (16-kilometer) radius of the park as tribes, environmentalists and archaeologists have raised concerns about the potential effects on culturally significant sites like ceremonial structures called kivas outside Chaco’s boundaries. 

A thousand years ago, the site was a ceremonial and economic hub for the Pueblo people, historians say. 

Solidarity among tribes

Tribes gathered Thursday at Acoma Pueblo, a Native American community about 60 miles (97 kilometers) west of Albuquerque, amid an All Pueblo Council of Governors meeting to reaffirm support for protecting the land.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, head of the largest American Indian reservation, sat among pueblo governors and said it’s only right that they support each other, just as their ancestors did.

“Navajo culture and tradition dictate respect for our relatives who have come before us,” he said. “As Native people, we are connected to the land, and it is important to preserve the dwellings and the belongings of the ancient ones.”

The tribes want specific language in a U.S. Bureau of Land Management plan that would prevent drilling near the park, instead of protesting four times a year when the energy industry requests lease sales on certain parcels.

 Pueblo council Chairman E. Paul Torres said the threat to Chaco, which he called the “heart of pueblo culture,” is financially driven. 

 

“On our side, it has nothing to do with money,” said Torres, who also is the Isleta Pueblo governor. “It has to do with where we come from. These sites, to us, are living sites because the spirits are still there.”

Communicating the importance of the sites to non-Native people is challenging because the stories are sacred knowledge not shared outside tribal communities, said Phoebe Suina, who is Cochiti and San Felipe.

She thinks about her young children who have visited Chaco Canyon and of future generations, mindful of the legacy she would leave if she didn’t work to protect the larger landscape. 

“We’re put in that role as living beings of our ancestors,” she said. “We have this time, this life, what are we going to do with it? At least we are trying.”

​Aggressive public land development

President Donald Trump’s administration has pushed aggressively to open more public lands to energy development. It also went against the wishes of tribes and others by scaling back two national monuments in Utah that protected tribal artifacts and other sensitive land. 

Lawmakers and tribal leaders said at a congressional committee hearing this month that a 2017 Trump administration review of lands protected nationwide by past presidents didn’t take tribal interests into account despite some of the lands being sacred to them.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico said Thursday that legislation will be reintroduced soon in Congress to safeguard the land around Chaco Canyon. He said he would not trust the Trump administration to include protections in the federal plan for the area.

“Let’s not leave Chaco to the whims of one administration or another,” he said. “We have a sense that this place is incredibly important and deserves protection.”

New Mexico State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard said an executive order from her office is expected next month that would make state land around Chaco off-limits to any new oil, gas and mineral leases. Most of the land surrounding the park is federal and tribal land. 

Accessible only by dirt roads, Chaco takes effort to reach, and supporters say they want to protect the sense of remoteness that comes with making the journey, along with the ancient features that remain.

Acoma Pueblo Gov. Brian Vallo sees Chaco in the way his pueblo is set up, with homes, ceremonial structures, ladders and lookout points in much of the same places. Growing up, he said he heard the migration story of the Acoma people who were at Chaco Canyon before settling in the present-day location. 

“To me, it was the center of where the intelligence of our ancestors evolved,” he said. “It was the place where we observed solar and lunar cycles, all of that was tested at Chaco.”

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Harvard Sued for Profiting From Images of Enslaved Ancestors

An American woman has filed a lawsuit against Harvard University, accusing the prestigious institution of “shamelessly” profiting from photos of her ancestors who were slaves in the 19th century.

Tamara Lanier of Norwich, Connecticut, is suing the Ivy League school for “wrongful seizure, possession and expropriation” of images of her great-great-great grandfather, Renty, and his daughter, Delia.

She wants Harvard to hand the images over to her family and pay an unspecified amount in damages. 

Early type of photography used

The lawsuit says the 1850 daguerreotypes, an early type of photograph, were commissioned by Harvard biologist Louis Agassiz who was seeking racially “pure” slaves born in Africa.

The father and daughter were stripped and photographed from various angles in an effort to “prove” Agassiz’s theory that black people are inferior and to “justify their subjugation, exploitation and segregation.”

“To Agassiz, Renty and Delia were nothing more than research specimens,” the suit says. “The violence of compelling them to participate in a degrading exercise designed to prove their own subhuman status would not have occurred to him, let alone mattered.”

The suit says Harvard has over the years exploited the images, including using an image of Renty to promote a 2017 conference called “Universities and Slavery: Bound by History,” which explored the relationships between universities and slavery, and as a cover of a book that explores the use of photography in anthropology. 

History shared by mother

Lanier said as a child she heard stories about Renty from her mother who made sure to pass down family history.  She alleges that in 2011 she wrote to then-Harvard president Drew Faust, detailing her ties to Renty.

At the time, she wanted to learn more about the images and how they would be used. In another letter sent in 2017, she demanded that Harvard relinquish the photos. In both cases, she said, Harvard did not address her requests.

The suit charges that “by contesting Lanier’s claim of lineage, Harvard is shamelessly capitalizing on the intentional damage done to black Americans’ genealogy by a century’s worth of policies that forcibly separated families, erased slaves’ family names, withheld birth and death records, and criminalized literacy.”

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Labrador Retriever Most Pup-ular US Dog Breed for 28th Year

Labrador retrievers aren’t letting go of their hold on U.S. dog lovers, but German shorthaired pointers are tugging on the top ranks of doggy popularity, according to new American Kennel Club data.

Labs topped the list for the 28th year in a row. Yet there’s been plenty of movement over time on the purebred pup-ularity ladder. 

Here’s a look at the 2018 rankings being released Wednesday. 

Top top 10

After Labs, the top five breeds nationwide are German shepherds, golden retrievers, French bulldogs and bulldogs. Rounding out the top 10 are beagles, poodles, Rottweilers, German shorthaired pointers and Yorkshire terriers.

Labs smashed the record for longest tenure as top dog back in 2013. Fans credit the Lab’s generally amiable nature and aptitude in many canine roles: bomb-sniffer, service dog, hunters’ helper, dog-sport competitor and patient family pet. 

At No. 9, the German shorthaired pointer notched its highest ranking since getting AKC recognition in 1930. These strikingly speckled hunting dogs are also versatile — some work as drug — and bomb-detectors — and active companions. 

“I think people are learning about how fun the breed is,” says AKC spokeswoman Brandi Hunter. 

The suddenly ubiquitous French bulldog remains the fourth most popular breed for a second year, after surging from 83rd a quarter-century ago.

The numbers

The rankings reflect a breed’s prevalence among the 580,900 puppies and other purebred dogs newly registered in 2018 with the AKC, the country’s oldest such registry.  Some 88,175 of these dogs were Labs. 

AKC says registrations, which are voluntary, have been growing for six years.

Estimates of the total number of pet dogs nationwide range from about 70 million to 90 million.

The consistent fave

Beagles, now No. 6, can boast they’re uniquely beloved. No other breed has made the top 10 in every decade since record-keeping began in the 1880s. 

Why? “They’re a good general family dog,” lively, friendly, relatively low-maintenance and comfortable with children, says breeder Kevin Shupenia of Dacula, Georgia. Beagles also work sniffing out contraband meat and plants at airports, detecting bedbugs in homes and doing their traditional job: hunting rabbits. 

“They have a sense of humor, and they’re just characters,” Shupenia says. 

The rarest of them all

The most scant breed was the sloughi (pronounced SLOO’-ghee). The greyhound-like dog has a long history in North Africa but garnered AKC recognition only three years ago. It replaces the Norwegian lundehund in the rarest-breed spot. 

How did doodles do?

Wonder where goldendoodles, puggles, or cockapoos stand? You won’t find these and other popular “designer dogs” among the 193 breeds recognized and ranked by the AKC.

That’s not to say they never will be, if their fanciers so desire. New breeds join the club periodically, after meeting criteria that include having at least 300 dogs nationwide and three generations. 

Meanwhile, designer and just plain mixed-breed dogs can sign up with AKC to compete in such sports as agility, dock diving and obedience. 

The whys, pros and cons of popularity

Many factors can influence a breed’s popularity: ease of care, exposure from TV and movies, and famous owners, to name a few. 

Popularity spurts can expand knowledge about a breed, but many people in dogdom rue slipshod breeding by people trying to cash in on sudden cachet. 

Elaine Albert, a longtime chow chow owner and sometime breeder, is glad the ancient Chinese dog is now 75th in the rankings, after leaping into the top 10 in the 1980s. Albert recalls that she and other chow rescue volunteers were swamped as people gave up dogs with temperament and health problems, which she attributes to careless breeding.

“I certainly wouldn’t want (chows) to be number one, ever,” says Albert, of Hauppauge, New York. “They belong where they are…. They’re not for everybody.”

On the other hand, aficionados of rare breeds sometimes worry about sustaining them.  

The purebred debate 

Some animal-welfare groups feel the pursuit of purebred dogs puts their looks ahead of their health and diverts people from adopting pets. Critics also say the AKC needs to do more to thwart puppy mills.

The club says it encourages responsible breeding of healthy dogs, not as a beauty contest but to preserve traits that have helped dogs do particular jobs. 

 

 

                

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Tokyo Unveils ‘Cherry Blossom’ Olympic Torch

Organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Wednesday unveiled a cherry-blossom shaped torch for the Games as the city prepares for the famed flower season to begin in coming days.

The top part of the torch is shaped in the traditional emblem of the sakura, or cherry blossom using the same cutting-edge technology as in production of Japan’s bullet trains, the organizers said.

The shiny rose-gold torch, which is 71 centimeters (28 inches) long and weighs 1.2 kilograms (2 pounds 10 ounces), uses aluminum construction waste from temporary housing built for victims of the 2011 quake and tsunami.

“Cherry blossoms drawn by kids in the disaster-hit area (in Fukushima)… inspired me,” designer Tokujin Yoshioka, whose works are known internationally, told reporters.

Fukushima was chosen as the starting point for the Olympic torch relay.

The passing of the flame is scheduled to start on March 26, 2020, and the torch will head south to the sub-tropical island of Okinawa – the starting point for the 1964 Tokyo Games relay – before returning north and arriving in the Japanese capital on July 10.

The designer added the torch is designed to ensure the flame will not go out even during the typhoon season.

The March 2011 tsunami, triggered by a massive undersea quake, killed around 18,000 people and swamped the Fukushima nuclear plant, sending its reactors into meltdown and leading to the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

More than 50,000 people have not returned to their home towns.

Japan has dubbed the 2020 Games the “Reconstruction Olympics” and wants to showcase recovery in regions devastated by the disaster.

 

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Dick Dale, King of Surf Guitar, ‘Miserlou’ Composer, Dies

Dick Dale, whose pounding, blaringly loud power-chord instrumentals on songs like “Miserlou” and “Let’s Go Trippin’” earned him the title King of the Surf Guitar, has died at age 81.

His former bassist Sam Bolle says Dick Dale passed away Saturday night. No other details were available.

Dale liked to say it was he and not the Beach Boys who invented surf music — and some critics have said he was right.

An avid surfer, Dale started building a devoted Los Angeles fan base in the late 1950s with repeated appearances at Newport Beach’s old Rendezvous Ballroom. He played “Miserlou,” ″The Wedge,” ″Night Rider” and other compositions at wall-rattling volume on a custom-made Fender Stratocaster guitar.

“Miserlou,” which would become his signature song, had been adapted from a Middle Eastern folk tune Dale heard as a child and later transformed into a thundering surf-rock instrumental.

His fingering style was so frenetic that he shredded guitar picks during songs, a technique that forced him to stash spares on his guitar’s body. “Better shred than dead,” he liked to joke, an expression that eventually became the title of a 1997 anthology released by Rhino Records.

Dale said he developed his musical style when he sought to merge the sounds of the crashing ocean waves he heard while surfing with melodies inspired by the rockabilly music he loved.

He pounded rather than plucked the strings of his guitar in a style he said he borrowed from an early musical hero, the great jazz drummer Gene Krupa.

“Dale pioneered a musical genre that Beach Boy Brian Wilson and others would later bring to fruition,” Rolling Stone magazine said in its “Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll” adding “Let’s Go Trippin’” was released in 1961, two months ahead of the Beach Boys’ first hit, “Surfin.’”

The magazine called Dale’s song “the harbinger of the ’60s surf music craze.”

Although popular around Southern California, Dale might have remained just a cult figure if surfing had not exploded in worldwide popularity during his peak creative years.

When the first of a series of “Beach Party” movies made to cash in on the phenomenon was released in 1963, it included Dick Dale and the Del-Tones performing “Secret Surfing Spot” as teen heartthrob Annette Funicello danced on the beach.

Dale had released his first album, “Surfer’s Choice,” a year earlier. He followed it with four more over the next two years while appearing in several “Beach Party” sequels and other surfer movies.

Other popular Dale songs included “Jungle Fever,” ″Shake-N-Stomp” and “Swingin’ and Surfin’.”

His star dimmed after the Beatles led music’s British invasion onto the pop charts in 1964 and his record label dropped him. His career also was sidelined by a battle with cancer in the 1960s and a serious foot infection in the 1970s that was the result of a surfing injury.

His musical influence was profound and included guitar virtuosos Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan and movie director Quentin Tarantino, who selected Dale’s “Miserlou,” as the theme song of his 1994 film “Pulp Fiction.” That helped pull the guitarist back into the pop-culture spotlight.

Dale himself had begun to launch a comeback with the 1987 film “Back to the Beach,” which reunited Funicello and her co-star Frankie Avalon as a middle-aged couple returning to their old surfing haunts. He teamed up with Vaughan to record the classic surf instrumental “Pipeline” for that film, earning the pair a Grammy nomination.

In 1993 he released “Tribal Thunder,” his first album of all new material in nearly 30 years. He followed it with “Unknown Territory” the following year.

Dale continued to tour into his 80s, in part he said to pay the medical bills that advancing age was saddling him with. Having beaten cancer in the 1960s, he suffered a serious recurrence in 2015.

Born Richard Anthony Monsour in Boston on May 4, 1937, Dale moved to Los Angeles with his family in 1954, where he immediately fell in love with surfing and the electric guitar.

As a child, he listened to Lebanese and Polish folk tunes played by his parents. Eventually he graduated to big band, swing, country and rockabilly.

Self-taught on guitar, the left-handed Dale couldn’t afford a custom-made model, so early on he played a standard right-hand guitar upside down and backward. That ended after a meeting with legendary guitar builder Leo Fender, who offered to make Dale his own left-handed model if he’d test a line of guitars and amplifiers Fender was developing.

“I became Leo’s personal guinea pig,” Dale told The Associated Press in 1997. “Anything that came out of the Fender company, I played.”

He played so loudly that he blew up one amplifier after another until a frustrated Fender built him a “Dick Dale Dual Showman” doubled-sized amp. It was a model that would become popular with aspiring Los Angeles guitarists.

As he began to become well known, he began calling himself Dick Dale, explaining years later that a radio disc jockey had suggested it was a better name for a rock star than Richard Monsour.

His surfer buddies had already nicknamed him King of the Surf Guitar, a title he said he initially resisted, fearing it would limit his audience. When the spirit of surfing caught on everywhere, however, he came to embrace the crown.

Dale is survived by his wife, Lana, and a son, James, a drummer who sometimes toured with his father.

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Pirro’s Show Not on Fox Lineup, Week After Omar Comments

Fox News weekend host Jeanine Pirro’s show didn’t air a week after her comments questioning U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar over her wearing a Muslim head covering. No explanation was given.

Pirro’s show, “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” was replaced Saturday night by other programming. The Fox News schedule for the upcoming weekend doesn’t include the show.

An email seeking comment was sent Sunday to Fox representatives.

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday morning about Pirro’s absence, saying she should be brought back.

“Stop working soooo hard on being politically correct, which will only bring you down, and continue to fight for our Country. The losers all want what you have, don’t give it to them,” one of his tweets said.

Fox News had “strongly condemned” Pirro’s commentary on Omar, the first-term representative from Minnesota. Pirro had questioned whether Omar’s wearing of a hijab was “indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which is in itself antithetical to the U.S. Constitution?”

Fox said Pirro’s views didn’t reflect the network and it had addressed the issue with her, but didn’t specify what that entailed.

Omar, in a tweet, thanked Fox for the statement, saying no one should question a person’s commitment to the Constitution because of a person’s faith or country of origin. Omar is a Somali immigrant.

Pirro said her intention had been to start a debate, but that being Muslim didn’t mean someone didn’t support the Constitution. She invited Omar to her show.

Pirro is the former district attorney from New York’s Westchester County.

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American Muslim Feeds the Needy in his Washington Restaurant

A Pakistani immigrant who came to the U.S. as an impoverished young adult now helps feed the homeless and needy in his popular Washington restaurant. As a Muslim American, he says he’s simply heeding the will of God; to serve his fellow men with what he has. Which in his case is food, and so much more. VOA’s Julie Taboh has his story.

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Who’s Daltrey, Townshend Plan ‘Full Throttle’ Tour, Album

“I hope I die before I get old,” The Who sang in their 1965 hit “My Generation.”

But more than 50 years on, the veteran rock band’s two surviving original members are set for a new tour named “Moving On!” and the release of their first album of new music in 13 years.

Singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend, now in their 70s, will take the stage in May as part of The Who’s current six-member lineup and backed by an orchestra to play venues in the United States and Canada as well as London’s Wembley Stadium in July.

After tours of past hits, namely the hugely influential rock operas “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia,” Daltrey, who performed with an orchestra last year, said it was time to do something “that reflects where we are in our lives at the moment.”

Music that feels ‘kind of grown up’

“We’re old men now … we can’t go out there and pretend it’s going to be anywhere like we were 40, 50 years ago,” he told Reuters in an interview at Wembley.

“Adding the orchestra … can elevate the music into a place where it feels kind of grown up … (but) people mustn’t think just because there’s an orchestra with The Who that it’s going to be watered down. We’ll be playing exactly full throttle like we usually do.”

Emerging in 1960s London, The Who, which included the late drummer Keith Moon and bass player John Entwistle, have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, with hits like “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “I Can See For Miles.”

“We could never have imagined it (the group’s ongoing success),” Daltrey said. “I was coming to (Wembley) stadium today and taking the same journey I used to take every night in the group van. … All the memories come back.”

‘Lucky to be alive’

Townshend, the band’s principal songwriter and famed for thrashing his guitar on stage, said he felt “grateful” they could still perform.

“Roger and I are very lucky to be alive,” he said. “We’re lucky to be reasonably healthy. We’re lucky that we can still play the music that we grew up with.”

The Who this year are also planning to release their first album of new music since 2006’s “Endless Wire.”

“We went through so many different phases so now really the challenge is just writing music which is good music which suits Roger and I,” Townshend said.

“I’m a real, real hard taskmaster when it comes to what I sing and whether, whether it’s a good song or not. And I’ll tell you, he’s still got it,” Daltrey said.

The singer has said “Moving On!” is not a farewell tour, but acknowledged the duo’s advancing years.

“One of them’s gonna be (a farewell tour), we might not make the end of this one,” he joked. “Every time you hit the stage there’s a possibility of game over at our age.”

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Lori Loughlin Loses Starring Roles on Hallmark Channel

The Hallmark Channel cut ties Thursday with favored star Lori Loughlin, a day after her arrest in a college admissions scam put the family-friendly network and extended Hallmark brand in uncomfortable proximity to a headline-grabbing scandal.

“We are saddened by the recent allegations surrounding the college admissions process,” Hallmark Cards Inc., parent company of the Crown Media Family Networks umbrella group that includes the Hallmark Channel, said in a statement.

“We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin” and have stopped development of all productions with the actress for Crown Media channels, the statement said.

The company initially took a wait-and-see approach after a federal investigation of the scam involving more than 30 parents, many of them prominent, was revealed Tuesday. Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying bribes to gain their daughters’ college admissions.

Loughlin’s career and the Hallmark Channel were deeply intertwined. She’s been among its so-called “Christmas queens” who topline a slate of popular holiday movies, and also starred in the ongoing “Garage Sale Mysteries” movies and the series When Calls the Heart.

“It’s a feel-good, family values-type channel, and obviously scandal is the opposite of that,” said Atlanta-based market strategist Laura Ries.

There was more at stake than image. When Calls the Heart tapes in Canada, and a judge ordered Loughlin’s passport to be surrendered in December after grudgingly allowing her to cross the border for work until then.

Loughlin has not yet entered a plea in the case, and her attorney declined comment Wednesday after her first appearance in a Los Angeles federal court. Loughlin’s publicist declined comment Thursday on Hallmark’s decision to drop her.

The actress isn’t exclusive to Hallmark. She’s reprised her role as Aunt Becky for Netflix’s Fuller House reboot of the popular series that originated in 1987 on ABC. But the sitcom represents a fraction of the streamer’s flood of programs, while Loughlin has occupied an increasing amount of Hallmark real estate since she starred in Meet My Mom in 2010.

She’s proved a reliable performer. Her 2018 holiday movie, Homegrown Christmas, was the most-watched non-sports cable program the week it aired. In February, the season six premiere of When Calls the Heart was watched by a series-best 2.5 million viewers, putting it behind only The Walking Dead in Sunday night cable dramas.

“They definitely have a formula and you do have to follow the formula. And if you don’t, they rein you back in and say, ‘You have to follow. This is our format, this is what we do,”‘ Loughlin said of the Christmas movies last year in an interview with The Associated Press.

She said the rigidity chafes a bit but called the result “heartwarming,” adding, “You go to bed and you don’t have any bad dreams.”

The New York City native with a sunny smile proved a good fit for the channel that specializes in romantic dramas and comedies with a wholesome touch, while her media-friendly personality allowed her to expertly tout her shows on her website and in TV appearances.

Then came Tuesday’s bombshell government allegation that Loughlin and her husband were among more than 30 parents who paid a consultant to ensure their offspring’s place in college with bribes and falsified exams. Prosecutors allege the couple paid $500,000 to have their daughters labeled as crew-team recruits at the University of Southern California, although neither is a rower.

Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives, American Crime) was among the other prominent parents, including a lawyer, doctor and hedge fund manager, indicted in the scam.

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Empire’ Actor Smollett Pleads Not Guilty to Lying About Chicago Attack

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in a Chicago court on Thursday to new charges that he falsely reported to police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic assault on a city street.

Wearing a navy suit and dress coat, Smollett, 36, appeared serious and quiet standing next to his attorneys as Cook County Circuit Court Judge Steven Watkins was assigned to his case.

In a 16-count indictment returned by a grand jury last Thursday, Smollett, who is black, openly gay and plays a gay musician on Fox’s hip-hop drama, was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct alleging he gave false accounts of an attack on him to police investigators.

 

Each count carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Smollett was previously charged last month with felony disorderly conduct for making a false report after he told police he was attacked in January by masked supporters of President Donald Trump who beat him, slung a noose round his neck and poured a liquid chemical on him while shouting racist and homophobic slurs.

Detectives investigated the incident as a hate crime but local news outlets cited police sources saying it was believed to be a hoax.

The Chicago Police Department is investigating how information about the alleged attack was leaked to journalists.

Fox cut Smollett’s character in “Empire” after he was arrested.

According to prosecutors, Smollett wrote a $3,500 check to two brothers and gave them $100 to buy the rope, ski masks, gloves and red baseball caps used in the supposed Jan. 29 attack.

Police said Smollett hoped the incident would advance his career and secure him a higher salary.

Police initially arrested the brothers on Feb. 13, after they were recognized from surveillance footage from near the scene of the alleged attack. One had appeared with Smollett on “Empire,” police and their lawyer said. Prosecutors said one had supplied Smollett with “designer drugs” in the past.

The brothers confessed to the plot, police said. They became cooperating witnesses and were released without charges.

After the alleged attack, Smollett received support on social media, including from celebrities and Democratic presidential candidates. Others were skeptical of the incident, which Smollett said occurred at around 2 a.m. on a city street during one of the coldest weeks in recent history.

Outside the courthouse on Thursday, about a dozen supporters gathered with signs, chanting that his prosecution was unjust.

In a “Good Morning America” interview last month, Smollett said he was angry some people questioned his story and suggested racial bias may be behind the disbelief.

 

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US Cheesemakers Growing, Changing With the Times

In the U.S. these days, cheese is emerging as a product and point of pride that in some circles. That was clear at the United States Championship Cheese Contest held in Green Bay, Wisconsin, last week. A crowd of approximately 500 people packed into a ballroom to see a U.S. Cheese Championship winner named, and a steady stream of even more people had spent two previous days watching judges sniff, taste, spit and rate 2,555 different cheeses from across the nation.

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Italian Police Identify 6 Suspects in Fake Modigliani Show

Italy’s art police say they have identified six suspects in connection with a 2017 Modigliani exhibit that was comprised mostly of fakes.

The Carabinieri art squad announced Wednesday that the suspects include an artist who may have counterfeited works of Amedeo Modigliani; two collectors, including an American who procured most of the contested works; the head of the agency that organized the exhibition and its curator.

The show had traveled through lesser-known venues before arriving in Genoa, where the connection to the Ligurian-born artist and the upcoming 100th anniversary of his death in 2020 increased both public interest and expert scrutiny.

The show hastily shut down three days before its scheduled close in 2017, with experts saying that 20 of the 21 paintings it displayed were fakes. Consumer rights groups have demanded refunds for ticket buyers.

Italian prosecutors will now determine if there is enough evidence to back charges, which are then decided by a preliminary hearing judge.

Modigliani died in poverty, but his portraits featuring elongated faces and necks are among the most recognizable artworks of the early 20th century.

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