A historic event is set to take place at the White House at the end of September. Pope Francis has officially accepted the invitation to meet President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the White House on the 23rd of September, in order to discuss a wide variety of global issues, ranging from environmental and poverty-related problems, all the way to immigration and freedom of religion.
Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary, detailed in a statement that President Obama and Pope Francis will discuss “caring for the marginalized and the poor; advancing economic opportunity for all; serving as good stewards of the environment; protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom around the world; and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities.”
The visit is announced to go down in history as being only the third of its kind ever to take place. The two other visits took place in 2008, when President Bush met with Pope Benedict XVI at the White House, and in 1979, when President Carter hosted a one-hour discussion in the Oval Office with Pope John Paul II.
Furthermore, Pope Francis also accepted the invitation given by John Boehner, Speaker of the White House, to make a joint address to Congress. This shall mark yet another historic happening, as it shall be the first time that a pope holds a speech at a joint meeting of Congress.
The last time the two world-renowned personalities met was last year, when they discussed relations between the Unites States of America and Cuba in the Vatican. It is said that their meeting at the White House will develop the subjects they spoke about during the Vatican meeting.
Many officials have expressed their delight regarding the visit of Pope Francis. Catholic House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi stated for CNN that “Pope Francis has renewed the faith of Catholics worldwide and inspired a new generation of people, regardless of their religious affiliation, to be instruments of peace.”
Moreover, the visit scheduled for September 23rd will be the first official papal visit for Pope Francis in the United States. Along with the meeting at the White House, the Pope shall be present in Philadelphia at the World Meeting of Families and in New York, in order to address the United Nations on the 25th of September.
Photo Credits: Politico.com
The touching story of deceased cancer patient Brittany Maynard has evolved with a release of a video taken 19 days before her decision to end her life by assisted medical care. The 29-year-old Californian was suffering from a terminal illness, being diagnosed with brain cancer in an aggressive state on the first day of 2014. Her form of cancer was in an advanced state, currently without any cure, and Brittany was told that she had approximately 6 more months before the disease would cause her death.
Brittany had decided that she wanted to end her life in a gentle way, assisted by a doctor in the comfort of her own home with her family. “I want to leave this Earth in my home, in the arms of my husband and my parents,” Brittany stated in the recent video, regarding her right to choose her fate.
Ever since she found out about the disease, Brittany had been firmly against prolonged suffering and, ultimately, death due to the incurable illness. Unfortunately, Brittany and her family lived in California, where the law does not authorize medical practice of aid in dying. Only 5 states in America allow such a procedure: Washington, Montana, Vermont, New Mexico and Oregon, where Brittany moved with her family so she could end her life in peace.
In her video, Brittany continues to explain what Death with Dignity involves. These laws “give mentally competent, terminally ill adults the option to request life-ending medication that they can choose to ingest if their dying process becomes unbearable.” She also stressed upon the audacity of the government to make decisions or limit options for patients who are facing terminal illnesses such as her brain cancer and calls for changes in legislation.
Ever since her assisted suicide, the subject of Death with Dignity has received a great amount of attention, not only from California officials, but also across the nation. Her case determined various legislative efforts in states all around America, including California, in order to “cure” the situation.
Much controversy has surrounded the subject ever since it received media attention. Multiple religious and medical groups are opposed to such a proposal, saying that such a bill would violate the oath of a doctor to not harm a patient.
Brittany firmly concludes her video with a strong call to action: “As elected officials, you have the power to make this happen. Please, take action. (…) Please make Death with Dignity an American health care choice.”
Photo credits: NBC News
The music industry was yet again taken by surprise this week, when Kendrick Lamar quietly released his most recent full-length album last week. To Pimp a Butterfly was announced to drop this week, but actually appeared online a week earlier and started raking in profits from the very beginning.
Thanks to Billboard’s new way of charting, we now know that the album sold a whopping 363,000 units, equivalent in collective streams and sales. Obviously, the album made it to the #1 place on the chart in just one week from dropping, making this K-Dot’s first album to achieve such results. His previous album good kid, m.A.A.d city was very close behind, selling around 500,000 copies.
Lamar launched his album first on Spotify and succeeded in beating any record on the streaming website, with 9.600.000 streams in one single day. To Pimp a Butterfly being a collective work of Aftermath, Interscope and Top Dawg, quite a few representatives from the labels were surprised with the early launch of the album.
Regarding album reviews, K-Dot has proved once again that his work is among favorites for critics. Lamar has already been rewarded 2 Grammys for the leading single of the album, “i”. Even though his other works helped him receive nominations for Album of the Year and Best New Artist, the Grammys for “i” are the first wins the California-based rapper has been awarded.
Kendrick Lamar was born in 1987 in Compton, California. At just 17-years-old the rapper was signed to Top Dawg Entertainment and hit an industry jackpot in 2012 when Top Dawg signed a collaborative deal with two of the most notorious labels in the hip hop music industry, Interscope Records and Aftermath. His success in the hip hop industry began developing in 2010 after he launched his first release for retail, Overly Dedicated. Throughout his artistic career, he has collaborated with some of the most renowned names in the game, such as Dr. Dre, Drake, Talib Kweli, Young Jeezy, E-40, Busta Rhymes, Warren G, Lil Wayne or Game. His major album good kid, m.A.A.d city had three singles that his the Top 40 charts: Swimming Pools (Drank), Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe and Poetic Justice. His most recent album, To Pimp A Butterfly can be digitally bought on iTunes here.
Photo credits: Thissonglaps.com
The Long Beach police has revealed details surrounding a sinister plot that a 47 year-old woman and an accomplice had devised, concerning the kidnapping of two infants, which ended with the death of a 3-week old baby girl and the shooting and beating of four other persons.
Gisangelique Rene D’Millian, from Ventura County Thousand Oaks, and 29-year old Anthony McCall from Vista were arrested for masterminding and executing a plan which aimed at the kidnapping of two infants earlier this year. Two other individuals were also arrested under accusation of being accessories to a crime.
The plot started when D’Millian falsely informed her married boyfriend that she had given birth to twins fathered by him while being abroad. After this, she planned to kidnap two infants so that she could present them to him as her own. She then resolved to falsely claim that she started a charity organization for mothers of newborn children, with the aim of identifying possible targets.
Through the alleged charity she then learned about three-week old Eliza Delacruz, following her and her mother as they boarded a Long Beach bus on January 3rd. She also trailed them on foot until they reached the woman’s house, where D’Millian engaged her in a normal conversation about her child.
Two hours later, McCall attacked Delacruz’s house with a gun, kidnapping her and wounding both her parents and uncle. Little Eliza was found shot dead next day in a dumpster in Imperial Beach, over 100 miles away from Long Beach. There is no information regarding the reason for which the infant was murdered.
The disturbing plot did not stop here, as only a month later the two planned to kidnap another infant they had learned about from the false charity, a 4-month old boy from the LA county city of El Segundo.
This time, McCall followed the mother to an El Segundo motel, where he viciously assaulted her with a baseball bat, but could not kidnap the infant as he was forced to flee when motel employees that heard the victim’s cries came to check up on her. The duo was caught after witnesses provided information about their appearance and D’Millian’s car.
“In my notes, I had the word ‘evil’ several times, and my staff told me to take it out but I can’t summarize it any other way,” commented Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna in a news conference.
D’Millian and McCall are accused of murder, kidnapping, conspiracy and assault, and they will appear before court on Friday. Two other persons, 44-year old Todd Boudreaux and 30-year old Charisse Shelton were also retained in connection to the case, being accused of facilitating either the crimes or attempted escape of suspects, but no details have been made public about their level of involvement in the plot.
Image Source: LA Times
The Lollapalooza team has officially announced the line-up for the 2015 edition of the Chicago-based festival. Wednesday morning, fans discovered that Paul McCartney, A$AP Rocky, Metallica, The Weeknd, Florence + the Machine and many other world-renowned artists will be performing between July 31st and August 2nd in Grant Park, Chicago.
Some of the most anticipated performances among the audience for this year’s edition of the festival are Paul McCartney, who will be making his debut on the festival’s stage, Metallica, returning after almost 20 years, and Sam Smith, one of the most beloved Grammy-winning English singers.
The year 2015 marks the 10-year anniversary of the event as a Chicago destination festival. In this time, the festival has developed into an international event, with Lollapaloozas taking place in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and as of this year, Germany. This year, the festival maintains its reputation of amazing headliners by booking huge artists such as Paul McCartney, The Weeknd, Alt-J, Dillon Francis, Flying Lotus or Tove Lo on the first day of the event, Friday, July 31st.
Saturday continues with another series of legendary or trending names in the industry, such as Metallica, Sam Smith, Brand New, Kid Cudi, Tyler the Creator, Chet Faker, Charli XCX, Boys Noize or RL Grime. The final day of the festival wraps everything up with performances by Florence + the Machine, Bassnectar, A$AP Rocky, Nero, Nicky Romero, Logic and Of Monsters and Men, just to name a few.
Aside from exclusive live concerts, Lollapalooza offers other services and goodies, such as Chow Town, Around the Park, Farmers Market, Green Street, Lolla Cares and Kidzapalooza. The festival was conceived in 1991 by Perry Farrell as a farewell tour for his band, Jane’s Addiction. It began expanding in 2003, when the festival toured all around North America, and since 2005 it has been established as a weekend destination festival based in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois.
Throughout all 3 days of the festival, no less than 135 artists will be hosting live performances in Grant Park. The full line-up of Lollapalooza 2015 can be accessed on the official website of the festival here.
The Lollapalooza staff had put three-day passes on sale yesterday, which sold out in literally minutes from their announcement. Fortunate enough for fans, one-day passes can be purchased today, starting at 10 a.m., for the price of $110 each.
Photo credits: consequenceofsound.net
Dubbed by mayor Sam Liccardo as “San Jose’s darkest hour”, the shooting and killing of a local veteran police officer was determined by a sequence of unfortunate events. The situation began with a phone call the local authorities received about a man under the influence threatening to kill himself, continued with shooting at police officers right after they reached the scene and ended in the murdering of a fourteen-year veteran of the San Jose police force Michael Johnson and the death of 57-year-old suspect Scott Dunham.
Late officer Johnson answered a call from an intoxicated and suicidal man on Tuesday and officers arrived at the apartment complex on Senter Road a little bit before 7 p.m. Suspect Scott Dunham opened fire on the police and might have been shot back.
After this incident, authorities began a full manhunt for catching the suspect, which ended early hours of Wednesday morning. The officers reportedly communicated with all people between Umbarger Road and Balfour Drive in the Senter Road area, telling them that “there is a man with a high-powered rifle who may be pointing it at you right now. You may be in the line of fire.”
Police had got into the suspect’s apartment at approximately 3:20 a.m. by the use of a robot and explosives and found the dead body of Dunham on the balcony. According to a police spokesman, Dunham had at least one gunshot wound; this could possibly be the cause of death.
The murder of police veteran Michael Johnson became a tragedy for both the community and the authorities in the San Jose area. In the 166 years of the San Jose Police Department, Johnson was the 12th officer to be killed on duty and was also the first death of this kind to happen in the last 14 years.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Johnson’s family and friends. (Johnson) was tragically stuck down in the prime of his life protecting and serving the residents of San Jose. Even in this time of grief, the men and women who make up the San Jose Police Department are on the job trying to apprehend the coward who perpetrated this horrific crime and make sure no one else is harmed.” said the San Jose Police Officers Association, according to a press statement they released after the tragedy.
Photo credits: Josie Lepe / Bay Area News Group
A report that analyzes involvement of Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) officers in shooting incidents from 2007 to 2014 suggests that they require more training to have them become less prone towards using their firearms and approach certain cases with more non-violent methods.
The report, published on Tuesday, was issued at the request of Philadelphia Commissioner Charles Ramsey, and was comprised by the US Department of Justice’s COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services), an office oriented towards the rapport between law enforcement agents and the communities they serve.
It presents that PPD officers have been involved in 390 shooting incidents throughout the city between 2007-2014, out of which 20 were off-duty and 4 accidental. When sorted by place of happening, almost a quarter of them happened in the 22nd and 25th districts of Philadelphia combined, which are unsurprisingly the districts with the most intense criminal activity.
Race statistics, at a first glance, feed the recent tumultuous landscape of accusations of racism in OIS (officer involved shootings), with 60 percent of the PPD forces involved in such incident being white, and 80 percent of the suspects black. About 55.8 percent of the suspects involved in shootings had firearms, while 15 percent were unarmed.
The COPS report sub-classified shootings against unarmed suspects occurred during the period by motivation, and shows that 29 out of 59 such incidents were “threat perception failures” – instances in which officers opened fire at suspects that were in fact harmless because of certain movements or misidentification of non-threatening objects.
The paper holds over 90 recommendations for the PPD, mostly revolved around a better training of its officers in use of non-lethal force and identifying threat perception. Having a more transparent review system for cases in which deadly force is used would also help at both identifying instances in which use of firearms is avoidable and promoting a culture of using them as a last resort.
“It’s a good report with a lot of solid recommendations, these changes don’t happen overnight, but we’re going to push as hard as we can and make substantial changes over the next few months” commented Commissioner Ramsey, who has the fourth most numerous police force in the country under his command.
This report follows a nation-wide stint of controversial officer-involved shootings in Ferguson, Cleveland and New Orleans. These have brought into the forefront of public debate the question of whether law enforcement is harsher for certain races, and also if policemen in general are taking too many liberties with regard to using their guns.
Image Source: Newjawn
A 42-year old woman was stabbed to death on Sunday by her 44 year old companion inside a medical center in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, while they were both apparently visiting a patient at the hospital.
The incident happened in the Alexian Brothers Medical Center situated in the municipality of Elk Grove Village in northeastern Illinois, about 20 miles from Chicago. The woman was suddenly attacked with a knife by the man – whose identity has not been disclosed – while they were both in the hospital’s hallway. The woman was rushed to the center’s emergency room, but doctors could not do anything to save her as she succumbed to the stab wounds a couple of hours after the incident.
The 44 year old suspect – apparently living in Elgin, Illinois – was immediately caught by the medical center’s security team and handed to police custody, which described him as being cooperative and questioned him late into the afternoon. No charges against the man were filed as of yet, but Elk Grove Village Deputy Police Chief Chuck Walsh declared that he will be brought in front of the Cook County Circuit Court on Monday.
The victim was identified as 42 year old Francesca Quintero, resident of Burlington, Wisconsin. According to the Daily Herald, the woman’s family revealed the fact that she had lived together with her assailant at one point, and that both were visiting a family member hospitalized in the Elk Grove Village center.
However, it is currently unknown if the victim and the suspect formed a couple or if they were relatives. Walsh said that he currently had no knowledge about the relation between the victim and the suspect when asked.
Elk Grove Village Police described the incident as being an isolated domestic dispute, with no staff member or patients of the Alexian Brothers Medical Center being harmed.
This incident might bolster the discussion of whether security in suburban hospitals might need to be cranked up, with violent scenes not being uncommon in such settings. Most recently, a 27-year old man was shot and killed by law enforcement officers inside an Illinois hospital last November, after threatening them with a gun while being under the influence of alcohol.
Image Source: Daily Herald
The coffin carrying the remnants of 15th century English king Richard III, initially discovered in 2012, stopped today for a brief moment at the site of his death in the Battle of Bosworth Bay about 520 years.
The procession entered the city of Leicester on Sunday morning with crowds of hundreds assisting it throughout the road. It first stopped at Fenn Lane Farm, which historians believed to be closest to the location of his demise. The cortege was saluted with cannon fire while stopped there.
It then stopped at the University of Leicester, where a short ceremony took place in which archaeologists, researchers and even descendants of Richard’s Plantagenet dynasty taking part. One of the Plantagenet descendants in attendance, Canadian carpenter Michael Ibsen, made the coffin carrying the king’s remains out of English oak.
Richards’s remains were discovered during an archeological excavation in September 2012 on the site of an old Greyfriar church, currently a parking lot in Leicester. The University of Leicester confirmed in February 2013 that analysis of wounds and radiocarbon dating proved the veracity of the remains.
The cortege has stopped at Leicester Cathedral, where the coffin will be open to the public until Wednesday night. The king will be reinterred on Thursday after a religious service will be performed.
Richard III ascended to the throne after usurping the throne from 12 year old Edward V, son of the first Yorkist King of England and Richard’s brother Edward IV. Richard was nominated as Lord Protector under Edward’s will after his death, but he ended up taking the throne for himself in 1483 after nullifying his nephew’s claim, while many historians believe he was also responsible for the disappearance of the latter.
His reign as king lasted for just two years, with his most notable achievement being the suppression of a series of rebellions started by nobles loyal to the former king. Richard III faced challenges for the throne from the rival Lancaster house, culminating with the Battle of Bosworth Bay, in which his forces were defeated by those of Henry Tudor despite having numerical superiority, while he was slain in battle. This marked the end of the Wars of the Roses and of the rule of the Plantagenet dynasty over England.
Image Source: BBC
The Paris mayor’s office has announced on Saturday morning that it will take a number of emergency measures for Monday, including banning half of its traffic and making public transport free, in an attempt to deal with the dense pollution cloud that covered the city recently.
A partial driving ban will be applied on Monday, meaning that only vehicles with even numbers on their license plates are allowed to circulate – barring exceptions such as ambulances, taxis or police vehicles. However, odd-numbered cars will be allowed on the road if they carry more than three passengers.
To counter the impact this might have upon the car-heavy population, public transport will be free on Monday, as well as most of the parking lots throughout the city; these measures were initially applied only for the duration of the weekend. This is just the third time in the city’s history that such a measure is adopted, last time happening in March 2014. However, with no effective means to control traffic city-wide, it only amounted to 16 percent drop in vehicle usage.
“I am delighted the state has agreed to put in place a partial driving ban on Monday, which I have been requesting for several days” wrote Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo on Twitter, one of the measure’s most staunch supporters.
This comes after a week in which the French capital has been covered in a dense cloud of smog, making it for a short period on Wednesday the most polluted city in the world according to Plume Labs – having registered a pollution rating of 125, halfway between harmful and critical.
Criticism has come from multiple directions against state authorities, with many saying that future pollution clouds might averted only through long –term measures to reduce pollution, such as a definitive ban on heavy-polluting vehicles. This comes as a measure set to enter in July will ban pre-2001 diesel vehicles.
The cloud itself also passed the English Channel into the United Kingdom in the last few days, with peak levels being reached on Thursday. Most heavily affected were the northern and central parts of the UK. According to the UK Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, the smog cloud has fully dissipated and brought pollution levels within normal in the country.
Image Source: BBC