#Discussion

#Discussion


Podcaster Wondery Banks $10 Million, Taps NatGeo Vet Declan Moore for International Push

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 06:20 AM PDT

Wondery, the three-year-old podcast publisher headed by former Fox International Channels chief Hernan Lopez, this week announced the closing of $10 million in Series B financing.

With the funding, the company plans to expand internationally and has hired Declan Moore, most recently CEO of National Geographic Partners, the joint venture between National Geographic Society and 21st Century Fox, to head up international operations. Moore, who is based in London, worked with Wondery CEO Lopez at 21CF.

Wondery’s Series B funding was led by new investor Waverley Capital, the venture-capital firm formed by Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Luminari Capital’s Daniel Leff. Others participating in the round were existing investors Lerer Hippeau, Greycroft, BDMI, Advancit Capital and Water Tower Ventures, as well as new backer Powerhouse Ventures. The funding brings L.A.-based startup to $15 million raised.

Wondery said it will use the funding to development new programming, acquire content, and invest in technology and global growth. The company, founded by Lopez in 2016 with backing from Fox, has produced a string of popular podcast series including “Dr. Death,” “The Shrink Next Door” and “Business Wars.”

It has a burgeoning TV licensing business as well: Its series “Dirty John” was adapted into a TV series for Bravo and Netflix, and five other Wondery series have been optioned for TV by Universal Content Productions, FX and WarnerMedia. Elizabeth Banks is on board to direct and produce an adaptation of Wondery’s “Over My Dead Body,” a drama about the breakup of a seemingly “perfect” couple, for WarnerMedia’s forthcoming streaming service.

“Waverley Capital invests in category-defining media companies, and there is no better example in the audio space than Wondery,” Waverley Capital’s Bronfman Jr. and Leff said in a joint statement.

Moore led National Geographic Partners from its formation in 2015 before exiting in early 2018. Prior to the formation of NGP, Moore was a 20-year veteran at National Geographic, serving in leadership roles including as chief media officer and EVP at National Geographic Society where he was responsible for all media, consumer products and licensing.

Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media Shuts Down Topic Magazine, Ends Funding for The Nib Political Cartooning Site

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 05:20 AM PDT

In a pair of cost-cutting moves, Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media is shuttering the Topic Magazine digital publication dedicated to nonfiction storytelling and is dropping its funding for political cartoon site The Nib.

Topic Magazine, launched two years ago, is ceasing publication as First Look plans to put more resources toward Topic.com‘s original video content production. The magazine staff will be let go at the end of July, First Look Media CEO Michael Bloom wrote in a memo to employees Friday.

The magazine’s “small, hard-working team has produced 24 powerful issues exploring love, anger, fear, music, rites of passage, identity and so much more,” Bloom wrote. “[W]e learned a lot — about the audience, what resonated, and how to best move forward.” First Look Media also is “parting ways” with The Nib, Bloom said in the memo, without explaining why. The cutbacks by FLM were first reported by Study Hall, a Patreon-supported media newsletter.

FLM announced its backing of The Nib in 2016 and relaunched the site that July, timed with the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Matt Bors, editor of The Nib, said in a message to readers Friday that he will continue the site independently. He said the fourth issue of the print magazine will ship in early July. The Nib’s fifth issue is in the works and Bors will be publishing it independently.

“Our only funds going forward will be those our members have pledged each month to support us,” he wrote. The publication’s signup page for members is at membership.thenib.com.

New York-based First Look Media launched Topic.com in June 2017 as a home for original video, podcasts, photography, illustration and long-form journalism.

As it ends Topic Magazine, another casualty of the monetization challenges faced by digital-media outfits, FLM has upped the investment in Topic’s video business. In May, the company announced the hire of 20-year HBO veteran Maria Zuckerman as EVP of Topic Studios to lead overall strategy. In addition, First Look recently hired Gena Konstantinakos, formerly a producer at Viceland, as VP of development and video programming for Topic.

Topic’s film and video projects have included documentary shorts and series including “The Loving Generation”; “Black 14”; “Edith+Eddie”; “She’s the Ticket”; and “aka Wyatt Cenac.” Current and upcoming projects include those from filmmakers Darius Clark Monroe, Nathan Silver, Jia Li, Yvonne Michelle Shirley and Charlie Tyrell. Last fall Topic Studios also announced a first-look deal with Mermade, the digital-focused division of Sharon Horgan and Clelia Mountford’s Merman production company.

Omidyar, the billionaire founder of eBay, founded First Look Media in 2013 and the company’s first feature film, “Spotlight,” won the 2016 Academy Award for best picture. According to the company, the entertainment business “supports the work of our nonprofit side,” which includes investigative journalism site The Intercept; documentary unit Field of Vision; and the Press Freedom Defense Fund.

Cheryl Tweedy gushes over ‘precious’ son Bear

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 01:00 AM PDT

Cheryl Tweedy says motherhood has made work more fun.

The 35-year-old star welcomed son Bear, two, with her former boyfriend Liam Payne, 25, in 2017 and while Cheryl took a break from work for “head space” after the tot was born, she is thrilled to be back recording and performing.

She told Dermot O’Leary on his BBC Radio 2 show: “It’s actually more fun since I became a mother. You know you see me sometimes at work and I would be like, Dermot I can’t. I can’t go any longer. Now I’m like, yeah let’s go..

“First of all I had a break which I needed and that was important for my head space more than anything and its fun that I get to come into work and do the things I love for a career, but I also get to go home to the most precious part of my life.”

While Cheryl wants to get back to touring, she says she doesn’t plan to get straight back to arenas.

She explained: “I need to see if people are engaging with the music and if people want that first before I make that decision.

“The fans keep asking for more intimate gigs, please intimate gigs or please private gigs, so I might look into doing that first. Just to dip my toe back in and see how that feels for me as well.”

However, one huge performance that she would be interested in is Glastonbury, with Cheryl saying: “I should, I’ll look into that.”

Beth Chapman’s funeral plans

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 01:00 AM PDT

Beth Chapman made plans for her funeral before she died.

The 51-year-old star died of cancer this week, a few days after she was placed into a medically-induced coma and she will be remembered with two separate events in Hawaii and Colorado.

Although Beth’s death was sudden, the star – who was married to ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’s Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman – made plans with her family for her memorial services before she passed away.

Sources close to the Chapman family told TMZ: “Dog and Beth’s children had several discussions with her about her memorial arrangements if she died.”

Beth made plans for memorial services in both Hawaii and Colorado and said she wanted them to be open to anyone who wants to come.

And the sources added that Beth’s family is happy that they will get a chance to carry out her wishes.

Beth’s husband Duane announced her passing on Twitter, and he said she had “hiked the stairway to heaven”.

He wrote: “It’s 5:32 in Hawaii, this is the time she would wake up to go hike Koko Head mountain. Only today, she hiked the stairway to heaven. We all love you, Beth. See you on the other side.”

WGN America, the network that broadcast Dog and Beth’s show, ‘Dog’s Most Wanted’, also expressed their condolences.

In a statement, they said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic news that Beth Chapman lost her battle with cancer today. She was an exceptional woman, fiercely loyal and passionate about her family and she was a true joy to work with. All of us at WGN America will miss her tremendously. Our thoughts and prayers are with Duane, her family, loved ones and millions of fans.”

The ‘Dog & Beth: On the Hunt’ star underwent successful throat cancer surgery in 2017 but last year was told the disease had returned and underwent emergency surgery to remove a tumour in November.

She was hospitalised in April due to fluid accumulation in her lungs and underwent an operation in the same month to relieve pressure.

Steven Adler’s knife injury was an accident

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 01:00 AM PDT

Steven Adler’s knife injury was an accident and not a suicide attempt, according to his publicist.

The former Guns N’ Roses drummer was taken to hospital after police and paramedics were called to his Los Angeles home last week after Adler, 54, suffered a stab wound to his stomach”.

Despite fears, Steven’s representative told TMZ “the stabbing was not a suicide attempt, and simply an accident”. The rep described it as a “very minor, superficial wound” and insisted that the musician – who has struggled in the past with addiction – has been sober for several years.

The rep added that Adler still plans to perform at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas on July 12.

The musician is best known for his time with ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ rockers GNR, playing on full albums ‘Appetite For Destruction’ and ‘G N’ R Lies’, and the song ‘Civil War’ on ‘Use Your Illusion II’

Although he was part of the original lineup alongside Axl Rose, Slash, Duff McKagan and Izzy Stradlin, he was sacked in 1990, with his drug use blamed by the other band members.

In 2011, Adler admitted he had tried to take his own life twice.

He said: “I was very miserable. Everything I’d worked my whole life for had been taken away from me. And it was the people I’d worked with that had turned on me. I didn’t know what to do.

“From having hundreds of friends, to getting kicked out of the band by my best friend-and a guy who I was doing the drugs with! – it left me with no-one to turn to.

“I was very sad and lonely. My wife left me, and I didn’t blame her. It’s hard to watch someone you love trying to kill themselves. That’s what I was doing.”

Although he later joined up with his bandmates for a couple of shows on the ‘Not In This Lifetime’ tour in 2016, he wasn’t invited to the ‘Appetite For Destruction’ reunion in 2018.

He added at the time: “My goal was to finish what I started, and Izzy’s too. Iz is just as heartbroken as I am that the three of them decided to leave us out and bring three strangers in – who are those people? It’s just not cool.

“I love those songs, I love those records. I practice them here at home every day because I love them and I’m so proud of them and I’m proud of what the five of us did — we accomplished our dream exactly the way we wanted to.

“It didn’t end the way we wanted, or I wanted, but we did it our way. Like Frank Sinatra said, ‘I did it my way.’ “

Hometown visit will come at a cost

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 12:01 AM PDT

Dear Amy: My fiancé, my sister and I are planning a trip to my old hometown for Labor Day weekend in order to visit my oldest friend “Erica.”

Erica just bought a house with her husband, “Paul.”

Erica tends to avoid conflict. She just sprung it on me that they don’t have room to host us in their home.

What? We’ve always slept on floors and couches when the need arises.

I told her I knew something was fishy, and she fessed up. As it turns out, her husband has stated that I am not welcome in their home. Frankly, I don’t want to be around him, either.

I believe the reason is that Paul and I have never seen eye to eye politically.

Also, he sexually assaulted me about six years ago, while he was drunk. He thinks I have wrongly accused him.

I never pressed charges and have since decided to push that aside because I don’t want to lose Erica.

I was thinking about staying in a hotel, but that defeats the purpose of us taking an affordable trip.

I haven’t seen these friends, nor have I been to my hometown in three years.

I’ve been exiled from my best friend’s house because my aggressor is victim-blaming me. I don’t know what to do.

I feel that if I stay home, I’m ruining the others’ vacation. But if I go, it’s not much of a vacation for me. I’m worried I’ll never visit my hometown ever again due to this feud. Should I stay away and wait for them to visit me? How should I handle this?

— Exiled and Torn

Dear Exiled: It is hard to imagine why you would want to bring your fiancé and sister to stay in the home of the person who assaulted you. You also say that even if he hadn’t assaulted you, you wouldn’t want to spend time with him, anyway. So why do you want to stay with this couple? Are you so desperate for cheap vacation housing that you would expose yourself, your fiancé and sister to staying with this creep?

You say that you have successfully “pushed this aside,” but you haven’t. As is often the case with victims, you are still being — and are certainly feeling — punished.

Your friend can’t have you stay with her because she has decided to stay with her husband. She has chosen him.

I think you would mightily regret it if you let this keep you away from your hometown. Look for alternate housing (with other friends or family), consider tent camping, or spring for an Airbnb in the area.

Dear Amy: My 30th high school reunion is soon. I’m looking forward to seeing my longtime friends.

My best friend in high school and post-college is going to be there. We were quite close, until she got married and moved out of state.

But there’s something she’s said, and keeps restating, that really bothers me, about how I was “never there,” at school.

I have never responded when she makes the remark.

I’ve tried telling her about my anxiety, depression and migraines, but she has no base in knowledge of any of it, so I feel like she’s never going to understand how much this comment hurts my feelings.

It’s like she’s more interested in making the quip than she’s concerned about my feelings.

Do I have to go into depth explaining my unstable family structure and how I basically hid from the world to cope?

Should I continue to bite my tongue and roll my eyes?

And if I confront her, what should I say? I don’t want to yell at her for being so careless.

— Frustrated and Misunderstood

Dear Frustrated: Your friend seems to think that this is something of a running joke between you, because you’ve never told her otherwise. Don’t blame her for being clueless, when you’ve neglected to clue her in.

Do not wait to bring this up until you (and she) have had some reunion cocktails. You should contact her beforehand, and face the momentary awkwardness of calmly explaining yourself, in depth — one time.

Dear Amy: “Knows too Much” was complaining that her friend “Curt’s” wife trashed Curt in their first meeting.

I am very relieved that you pointed out that Curt might actually be the monster his wife was describing.

You wrote: “Many people operate comfortably in a duality…”

I’m a survivor of just such a relationship.

— Survivor

Dear Survivor: Most abusers don’t show that face to the world.

(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: askamy@amydickinson.com. Readers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.)

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LATEST LINE

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 12:01 AM PDT

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             By J. McCarthy  

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Washington is 6-1 its last 7 road games. The Nationals are 7-3 their last 10 during game 2 of a series. Detroit is 17-37 its last 54 interleague games. The Tigers are 15-39 their last 54 home games. Take Washington over Detroit for another Best Bet winner.

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                      CFL  

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 Favorite             Odds     (O/U)      Underdog  

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                     Week 3   CALGARY               10 1/2  (53.5)   B.C. Lions                   Monday, July 1st.   SASKATCHEWAN          11 1/2  (52.5)      Toronto  

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                      MLB  

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 Favorite             Odds     (O/U)      Underdog  

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                National League   Philadelphia     5 1/2-6 1/2  (8)           MIAMI   Atlanta            Even-6     (9.5)       NY METS   CINCINNATI       5 1/2-6 1/2  (9.5)  Chicago Cubs   MILWAUKEE            9-10     (9.5)    Pittsburgh   LA Dodgers           6-7      (12)       COLORADO   Arizona              7-8      (7.5) SAN FRANCISCO   SAN DIEGO          Even-6     (8)       St. Louis                  American League   x-NY Yankees     5 1/2-6 1/2  (11)         BOSTON   Cleveland            7-8      (10)      BALTIMORE   TORONTO          6 1/2-7 1/2  (9)     Kansas City   TAMPA BAY        7 1/2-8 1/2  (8.5)         Texas   Minnesota            7-8      (10)  CHI WHITE SOX   HOUSTON             13-14     (9.5)       Seattle   LA ANGELS            6-7      (9.5)       Oakland                    Interleague   Washington         Even-6     (10)        DETROIT  

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x-at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, LDN

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                       MMA  

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       UFC on ESPN 3: Ngannou vs. Dos Santos             Target Center-Minneapolis, MN.   J. Dos Santos         +180   F. Ngannou            -220   J. Formiga            +125   J. Benavidez          -145   A. Rocco Martin       +145   D. Maia               -170   M. Polo Reyes         +275   D. Dober              -350   V. Pichel             +240   R. Roberts            -300   J. Newson             +275   R. Ramos              -350   V. Moreira            +255   E. Anders             -320   D. Moret              +260   J. Gordon             -330   D. Townsend           +255   D. Lungiambula        -320   A. Ribas              +160   E. Whitmire           -190   M. Greene             +100   J. Albini             -120   P. Craig              +230   A. Menifield          -280  

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                     Boxing  

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            WBC Middleweight Title Bout                NRG Arena-Houston, TX.                     (12 Rounds)   Brandon Adams        +900   Jermall Charlo      -1600  

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            WBO Middleweight Title Bout          Dunkin Donuts Center-Providence, RI.                     (12 Rounds)   Maciej Sulecki       +450   Demetrius Andrade    -650  

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               Home Team in CAPS  

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LINDA C. BLACK HOROSCOPES for 6/29/19

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 12:01 AM PDT

Today’s Birthday (06/29/19). You’re growing stronger and healthier this year. Partnership gets you farther, faster. You’re on top of the world this summer, before a sidestepping an obstacle with your partner. Your collaboration heats up next winter, before a personal redirection. Make time for exercise, flowers and romance.

To get the advantage, check the day’s rating: 10 is the easiest day, 0 the most challenging.

Aries (March 21-April 19) — Today is a 9 — You’re especially creative. Do the homework that presents your idea in all its glory. You can get what you need. Edit your communications.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) — Today is a 9 — Compute expenses, and increase efficiency. You can make extra income with extra efforts. Research purchases for best value and quality in advance.

Gemini (May 21-June 20) — Today is a 9 — Self-discipline pays off nicely. Draw upon hidden resources. Keep consistently doing your homework for satisfying personal results. Your passion can energize you.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Today is a 6 — Carve out some quiet time to rest and prepare for upcoming events. Organization and planning now provide ease and efficiency later. Consider options.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22) — Today is an 8 — Together, you get farther, faster. Teamwork makes light work of a big job. Provide food and treats for those who help. Your friends come through.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) — Today is an 8 — Work with what others deliver. A professional challenge is easily resolved with a positive attitude and high energy. Invest in success. Push for great results.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) — Today is a 7 — An adventure is more fun shared with someone special. Handle foundational issues. Make reservations and schedules. Leave time for observation and rest.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) — Today is an 8 — Apply a bonus to family savings. A steady income trickle builds over time. Work together for a common goal. Contribute to shared accounts.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) — Today is an 8 — Collaborate with a partner for booming results. Invent new possibilities, and motivate each other. You’re gaining respect. Compromise pays off. Stay receptive.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) — Today is an 8 — Practice your health and fitness routines for growing strength and endurance. Meditate on your moves. Nurture your body, mind and spirit. Nature soothes and inspires you.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) — Today is a 7 — Put your words and actions behind a matter of passion. Keep a promise with your partner. Express your love, affection and admiration for extra points.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Today is a 7 — Home holds your heart. Pour energy into a domestic improvement. Clean and clear out clutter. Add a colorful touch. Is it barbecue weather?

(Astrologer Nancy Black continues her mother Linda Black’s legacy horoscopes column. She welcomes comments and questions on Twitter, @LindaCBlack. For more astrological interpretations like today’s Gemini horoscope, visit Linda Black Astrology by clicking daily horoscopes, or go to www.nancyblack.com.)

Weekly bridge quiz

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 12:01 AM PDT

With Bob Jones

Q 1 – Neither vulnerable, as South, you hold:

S-A K 9 H-K 6 3 D-K J 10 3 C-Q 6 4

Partner opens 1C and right-hand opponent passes. What is your plan?

Q 2 – North-South vulnerable, as South, you hold:

S-A K Q J 7 3 H-A 9 6 D-J 2 C-10 2

NORTH EAST SOUTH WEST

1C Pass 1S Pass

2H Pass ?

What call would you make?

Q 3 – East-West vulnerable, as South, you hold:

S-A Q 10 6 5 H-10 6 D-K C-A Q 8 3 2

As dealer, what call would you make?

Q 4 – Both vulnerable, as South, you hold:

S-Q 3 H-K 9 8 6 3 D-Q 3 C-Q J 10 6

NORTH EAST SOUTH WEST

1D Pass 1H Pass

2H Pass ?

What call would you make?

Q 5 – North-South vulnerable, as South, you hold:

S-Q 9 H-10 3 2 D-9 8 5 2 C-K 8 6 4

NORTH EAST SOUTH WEST

1C Pass 1D Pass

2NT Pass ?

What call would you make?

Q 6 – East-West vulnerable, as South, you hold:

S-7 H-A K 7 6 3 2 D-A J 7 C-A 7 3

SOUTH WEST NORTH EAST

1H Pass 2C Pass

?

What call would you make?

Look for answers on Monday.

(Bob Jones welcomes readers’ responses sent in care of this newspaper or to Tribune Content Agency, LLC., 16650 Westgrove Dr., Suite 175, Addison, TX 75001. E-mail responses may be sent to tcaeditors@tribpub.com.)

Simple Saturday

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 12:01 AM PDT

“Simple Saturday” columns are meant to help my readers improve basic technique and develop logical thinking.

Suppose I offer to bet you a dollar on the flip of a coin: a 50-50 proposition. You might accept if you felt lucky. But say I offer to flip the coin twice, and you win if you call either flip correctly. Surely you would bet.

When you are declarer, two chances for your contract are better than one. Today’s West leads the jack of diamonds against 3NT, and East plays the nine to keep communication. South wins and needs eight more tricks.

DEFEAT

South has four clubs, two spades, a heart and a diamond. He can get a ninth trick if a finesse works in spades or hearts, but a losing finesse will mean defeat; East will run the diamonds.

Either finesse offers a 50-50 chance, but South can give himself two chances. He takes his four clubs and then the K-A of spades. When East’s queen falls, South is home. If East-West played low spades, South would finesse in hearts.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S A J 9 3 2 H 8 2 D 7 6 C Q J 7 6. Your partner opens one heart, you respond one spade and he bids two diamonds. What do you say?

ANSWER: Your hand isn’t strong enough to try 2NT and certainly not strong enough to bid three clubs, forcing. A rebid of two spades would suggest a weak hand but longer or at least stronger spades. Your correct call, unattractive as it may seem, is two hearts to return to your longer combined trump suit.

South dealer

N-S vulnerable

NORTH

S A J 9 3 2

H 8 2

D 7 6

C Q J 7 6

WEST

S 10 8 7 5

H K 6 4 3

D J 3

C 10 9 8

EAST

S Q 6

H J 10 9

D A K 9 8 4 2

C 5 4

SOUTH

S K 4

H A Q 7 5

D Q 10 5

C A K 3 2

South West North East

1 C Pass 1 S 2 D

2 NT Pass 3 C Pass

3 NT All Pass

Opening lead — D J

Sex obsession has crept its way into our collective pores

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 12:01 AM PDT

From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham

Q: It seems no matter where I turn, there are headline stories about sex. Why are people so focused on this subject? — G.I.

A: The mind is the devil’s favorite avenue of attack, always striving to put doubt in people’s minds that lead to doubting God and His creation (Genesis 5:2). We must trust God our Maker, submit wholly to Him and not allow Satan to bring confusion as he did to Eve.

If we are not under the loving care of Jesus Christ, we will be influenced by Satan, who thrashes about in people’s lives hoping to capture as many souls as possible before his inevitable end. Don’t be caught in his trap.

The Bible teaches that Satan is the author of sin. Sin is the reason we have afflictions. The demons that serve him are busy writing pornographic literature and producing sexual materials that pollute the mind. He has infiltrated our education system, teaching hedonistic and permissive philosophy. The culture is bombarded by a sexual tempest.

Table talk these days centers not only on sexual perversion but every sinful thought and deed. It is true that society has become so obsessed with sex that it seeps from all the pores of our national life. Sex revolution, no! But sex pollution? Yes!!

Be filled with the Spirit of God which illuminates the minds of people, causing us to yearn for God. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). We must pray and ask God to help us lead holy lives.

(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)

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Posted: 29 Jun 2019 12:01 AM PDT

bc-usmagazine-the-truth-about-their-split:9us

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 12:01 AM PDT

The Truth About Their Split

WE FELL OUT OF LOVE

His demanding schedule for A Star Is Born, plus those Gaga rumors, drove a wedge between Bradley C Cooper and Irina Shayk

During a low-key guys’ night out at Sunset Tower in L.A. on June 11, Bradley Cooper appeared relaxed and in positive spirits. “He looked good,” an eyewitness tells Us. “He was just having a laid-back evening.” The day before, on June 10, more than 4,000 miles away, his ex Irina Shayk posted a sexy Instagram shot of herself in a black swimsuit in front of a stunning waterfall in Iceland, where she was working on a lingerie campaign. In the days following Us’ June 6 confirmation that the couple had ended their four-year relationship, the parents of 2-year-old Lea De Seine are living very separate lives.

But according to a source close to Bradley, it’s nothing new for the actor and the Russian model. “It wasn’t working between Bradley and Irina for a while,” says the insider. The pair – who were first linked in April 2015 and welcomed daughter Lea in March 2017 – had “gradually grown apart” and become more like roommates than lovers. “It was obvious their romantic relationship was over,” says the source, adding that Bradley, 44, and Irina, 33, had been behaving as if they were broken up for some time. “They’d been coparenting and doing things the way they intended to continue to after splitting up,” says the insider. Tension around 2018’s A Star Is Born – Bradley’s demanding work schedule as the film’s director and leading man, coupled with his rumored affair with costar Lady Gaga – didn’t help matters. “The movie had a major impact on Bradley and Irina’s relationship,” says the insider. “Even though there was nothing romantic between Bradley and Gaga, the noise was difficult for Irina to deal with.” Ultimately, things couldn’t be saved, says the source.

STRUGGLING IN VAIN

It wasn’t for lack of trying. The superprivate duo – who fell in love in 2015 following Bradley’s breakup from British model Suki Waterhouse and Irina’s split from Portuguese soccer pro Cristiano Ronaldo – desperately wanted to make things work for their daughter’s sake. “Having a family of my own is a miracle and something I’ve always dreamed of,” Bradley told NPR in 2018. Yet life was slowly but surely deteriorating at home. “Things were up and down and they tried to fix it over and over again, but they always ended up in the same place,” says the insider.

They stayed together through the release of A Star Is Born and awards season. Even as Bradley and Gaga- who broke off her engagement to talent agent Christian Carino in February, after two years of dating – dominated headlines over their steamy on- and offscreen chemistry, Irina stuck by Bradley’s side, attending the Golden Globes and Oscars. But a source says she felt emotionally abandoned. “Bradley wasn’t able to be the partner Irina needed during the filming and promotion of the movie,” the insider told Us. “He was so focused on making sure it was perfect.” As much as she tried to be supportive, the insider says she was filled with resentment about his demanding schedule. “It was months and months of work, and all of his emotion and passion was put into it,” says the source. “He had nothing left to give.” While insiders tell Us Bradley and Gaga haven’t hooked up – “he’s not interested in her romantically,” says a source – their close bond made Irina uneasy. Another source says Gaga “felt bad” about the affair rumors, and has no plans to go after Bradley. “Gaga isn’t going to get together with Bradley,” says the insider. “They have the same personality; they’re both hardheaded and opinionated. Irina was a better fit for him because she’s nice and laid-back.”

MOVING ON

The couple finally decided to pull the plug before things got too ugly. “Bradley and Irina are amicable and trying to be respectful of each other,” says the insider. For now, Irina is still living at Bradley’s home in L.A. with their daughter. “They both want to keep it civil for the sake of Lea.” They hired a lawyer to get a fair and firm coparenting plan in place and will share 50-50 custody, says the source. “They both work and they have a nanny,” explains the insider. “They’ll coordinate to make sure their daughter is always with one parent,” and they plan to still do things as a family. “When Lea has important events in her life,” says the source, “both Bradley and Irina will be there.” Lea is still too young to fully understand what’s happening, but the insider says she’s already accustomed to her parents’ work and travel schedules keeping them apart. The Bradley insider says the star is sad, but doing OK. “This was coming for a while,” says the source. Both are focused on work – Irina walked the catwalk for Versace on June 15 during Milan Fashion Week, while Bradley’s currently in talks to replace Leonardo DiCaprio in Guillermo Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley. After being discontent for so long, both are hoping to eventually find love – and happiness – again. “They want to date, and won’t be shy about meeting people or being set up,” says the insider. “They’re closing a long chapter of their lives,” adds the source, “but they’re ready to see what’s next.”

A Look Back at Bradley’s Loves

He’s stolen the hearts of some major A-list beauties

JENNIFER ESPOSITO

Bradley and the Law & Order actress, 46, wed in 2006; she filed for divorce months later. When she referenced a “master manipulator” ex in a 2014 memoir, many suspected it was Bradley, though this was never confirmed.

RENÉE ZELLWEGER

After meeting on the set of Case 39, Bradley and Renée, 50, dated for nearly two years before calling it quits in 2011. Rumor had it his rising-star status caused some strain.

JENNIFER LOPEZ

Wait, what? The unlikely pair was spotted getting cozy while out to dinner shortly after 49-yearold Jennifer’s divorce from Marc Anthony in 2011. Alas, their fling wasn’t the real thing.

HOW IRINA’S DOING

The Russian-born model doesn’t seem to be crying into a pint of Rocky Road ice cream over her split from Bradley. In addition to some cheeky Instagram posts (including one from Iceland showing off her curves, inset), the star has been photographed looking happy and carefree in the days since the couple’s breakup was confirmed. On June 6, she cheerily chatted on her phone while catching a flight from LAX airport, and on June 15 she was all smiles as she headed to Milan Fashion Week in Italy. A source tells Us she was ready to cut the cord. “It’s definitely a big transition,” says the insider, “but Irina wants to move on from that part of her life.”

…And Who Should He Date Next? Us readers voted on two former costars

JENNIFER ANISTON

53%

LADY GAGA

47%

ZOE SALDANA

Bradley did get pretty serious with his The Words costar in 2011 – he and Zoe, 41, were on-off again until late 2012, when they finally ended it for good.

SUKI WATERHOUSE

Age reportedly played into the 2015 breakup between the Hangover hunk and the model. Bradley was ready to settle down, while Suki, then 23, wasn’t.

IRINA SHAYK

Irina and Bradley linked up in April 2015. They made their red carpet debut the next May during Paris Fashion Week.

bc-usmagazine-sandra-gets-her:9us

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 12:01 AM PDT

SANDRA GETS HER

HAPPY ENDING

Friends tell Us all about the star’s “amazing dynamic” with her low-key love, Bryan Randall

When a beaming Sandra Bullock arrived at the Ocean’s 8 premiere in NYC on June 5 last year, it was clear that she and Bryan Randall have a very special bond. Holding his hand as they emerged from the limo, Sandra never let him go, leaning in close to her handsome beau, who stood protectively beside her until it was time to walk the red carpet. Three days later, when Bryan was spotted taking Sandra and her children, Louis and Laila, to a birthday party back home in L.A., the close foursome looked like a picture-perfect family.

Sandra has every reason to be smiling these days; after more than a few missteps and a lot of heartbreak, America’s Sweetheart, 54, has finally found Mr. Right. “Sandy has made some bad choices with men in the past, but Bryan is such a sweet soul, and things couldn’t be more different from the toxic relationships she’s been in before,” a friend of the actress tells Us, adding that after four years of dating the 53-year-old model turned photographer, “she knows Bryan is The One.” In fact, the fiercely private Bird Box star, who’s long kept her romances out of the public eye, is so overjoyed she can’t help but tell the world just how wonderful her life with Bryan is. “Right now would be the ultimate time,” she gushed recently. “Everything is…amazing.”

EASY DOES IT

The secret to Sandra and Bryan’s happiness, friends say, is their down-to-earth lifestyle and their unwavering focus on what matters most: family. “Their lives are very simple,” another friend tells Us, noting that the couple are hands-on parents whose days revolve mostly around raising Louis, 9, and Laila, 7. “They take turns carpooling thekids to school, activities and parties, but sometimes they’ll both go in the car just so they can have more time together and get a morning coffee.” Sandra, a pal adds, feels blessed that Bryan “is right in there with the kids, fully participating and bringing so much joy into their lives.” Bryan is such a natural that “he’s basically like Santa – they all want to play with him and have his attention,” a pal says – and even Sandra concedes he’s the family favorite. “For the kids, he’s sort of No. 1. and I’m No. 2,” she’s admitted. “But I get it because he’s more fun and has better treats.” The couple, who share a family-friendly home in Beverly Hills with a big yard, pool and play area, are also in sync when it comes to giving the children as normal a life as possible. “Bryan is totally unfazed by ‘celebrity’ in the same way Sandra is,” a source says, which is why they also spend lots of time at Sandy’s other homes, in Texas and Wyoming. “It’s a chance to escape and do everyday things without being noticed and with nobody bothering them.” During times when Sandra does have to work, she can rely on Bryan to pick up the parenting slack. “Sandy did Ocean’s 8 last year, and Bryan and the kids moved to NYC with her for a few months. He took them to school and the park every day,” a family friend tells Us. Bryan, who books his jobs around Sandra’s schedule so there’s always structure and plenty of family time, “has fully embraced the dad role and is there one hundred percent for Louis and Laila. Sometimes it’s very chaotic, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.”

It was clear to Sandra that Bryan had a way with children from the moment they met, in 2015. “He was hired to take photos at Louis’ fifth birthday party at her home, and they immediately hit it off – in fact, it was love at first sight,” a friend says. “Bryan kept his distance and didn’t want to overstep his place, but Sandra was in awe of his personality and charm. She was the one who contacted him afterward.” As the couple began discreetly dating, Bryan quickly came clean about his dark, troubled past.

Arrested for DUI in the ’90s, he was jailed then spent two years on probation; but he’d been sober since 2005. In 2007, when his ex-fiancée Janine Staten died of a heroin overdose, their daughter, Skylar, then 11, moved in with him. “He was making up for lost time with Sky after being caught up in the wrong world, and did a great job in very difficult circumstances,” the pal says. “Bryan was open and honest about absolutely everything, which is Sandy’s whole world. It made her fall for him that much harder.”

Bryan, in turn, has been a rock for Sandra and helped her weather her own family tragedies. When her father, John, died last September, it was Bryan – who’d grown close to the World War II veteran and been warmly welcomed by him into the family – who posted the news in a moving tribute on Instagram. Even more important, “he helped Sandra organize the properties that John owned, and took the weight and ‘work’ away from her sadness, which gave her room to grieve,” says Sandra’s pal. “She would’ve been in a dark place if Bryan hadn’t been there for her.”

WEDDING BELLS?

Given the couple’s rock-solid romance, there’s just one question family and friends are now asking: Will Sandra and Bryan – who’s already declared his devotion by wearing a ring on his wedding finger – make it official? “Bryan’s spoken to Sandra about what she wants in the future – an engagement ring or more children,” a source reveals to Us. “She says they’ll ‘just know’ when it’s time.” And Sandra’s not playing coy. After her very public and humiliating 2010 split from ex-husband Jesse James after several women claimed they’d had affairs with the Monster Garage star during his five-year marriage to Sandra, “she went through a great deal of heartbreak – she’s still scarred by it to this day,” says another friend. “She loves Bryan and their life together, and she has a tight-knit circle around her who are extremely protective of her, and have all embraced him. But she’s perfectly content with the relationship as it is.”

Bryan, for his part, is willing to be patient. “He feels Sandra is his soulmate and is more than ready to sign a prenup, but he’s aware that it would be a bad move if he proposed without them talking about it first,” a source says. “They’re an open book with each other. There are no secrets or surprises.”

In the meantime, their joint family is growing stronger by the day. Bryan’s daughter, Skyler, 23, has reportedly moved into Sandra’s and his L.A. home, and there are whispers that the actress may even be planning to legally adopt her. “Sandra’s close with Bryan’s family, and they’ve totally blended their worlds together in way that makes perfect sense,” says another source.

As busy as they are caring for the children, Sandra and Bryan make sure to nurture their romance by penciling in date nights and day dates. “They often sneak away together and have a late lunch or early dinner,” says a friend of the actress. “Bryan’s the guy who’ll always get the door for her. He always gets her jacket and helps her put it on. She feels loved and appreciated all the time.” Adds another pal: “Bryan is loving and affectionate and treats Sandy the way she deserves to be treated. He makes her feel safe in a way she’s never felt before.”

SANDY: RUNNING THE SHOW

Like her love life, Sandra’s career is blossoming. She’s developing a series for Amazon, loosely based on her college years in the 1980s South, about a woman who defies a conservative upbringing to explore her true outsider identity. She’ll also rack up another executive producer credit to go with the one she earned last year on her smash Netflix film, Bird Box.

Crash and Burn

Sandra was celebrating her Oscar win for The Blind Side and the adoption of her first child, Louis, in 2010 when it came out that her husband, tattooed Monster Garage star Jesse James, had had multiple affairs during their five year marriage – which left the actress devastated. And though the betrayal paved the way for true love with Bryan, “Sandra has every reason to be cautious about getting married again,” a source says.

bc-usmagazine-25-things-you-don’t-know-about-me:9us

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 12:01 AM PDT

25 THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT ME

BY Erika Jayne

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star tells Us all about the fantasy she’s living

1. I don’t like seaweed. Don’t make me eat it.

2. My first car was a BMW 320i. I drove it extremely fast and possibly like a maniac.

3. I wish I could fly.

4. My first job was a commercial when I was little.

5. I love Target. I love CVS. I love Walgreens. I like a bargain. If I go to one of those stores, I walk out with $500 worth of s**t I didn’t need.

6. I was fired from a go-go bar in New Jersey. I wasn’t a very good stripper.

7. My celebrity crush growing up was Sylvester Stallone in Rocky.

8. I’m passionate about my career and making sure everyone understands that opportunity is out there and that your best days are ahead of you, not behind you.

9. My biggest pet peeve is when someone says “seent” instead of “seen.” That word just freaks me out.

10. If I weren’t a performer, I’d be a master criminal. It just looks glamorous in movies.

11. I’m always surprised when anyone recognizes me, like Mila Kunis.

12. I don’t sing in the shower, I usually cuss people out. I have my own therapy sessions in the shower.

13. My guilty pleasure is bad food, like candy and cake and ice cream.

14. I don’t know how many pairs of shoes I have. I have some (from) ShoeDazzle, and they’re all great.

15. I believe in moisturizing with oil. I think it keeps you young and pretty.

16. I can’t live without my husband (Thomas Girardi), son (Tommy, with ex Thomas Zizzo), dog (Tiago) and mom (Renee Chahoy).

17. On my Pretty Mess Tour, we always requested Fireball before a show because you need a shot of whiskey before you go on stage.

18. Would you believe it if I told you that I don’t drink very much unless we’re shooting The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? Then I usually drink a margarita with Kyle (Richards).

19. If I had to sum up my life in hashtags: #F**king-Fabulous. #PrettyMess. #Billionairess.

20. The quote I live by is (Albert Einstein’s): “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

21.What gives me anxiety? The unknown and not being in control.

22. I’m obsessed with skincare.

23. I got a love letter from (someone on) death row. It was bizarre.

24. I’d like to steal (Housewives) Dorinda Medley, Kenya Moore, LeeAnne Locken, Tamra Judge, Miss Gizelle Bryant, Melissa Gorga and Teresa Giudice and bring them to Beverly Hills. Then I’d quit because I wouldn’t survive the lineup.

25. I grew up being influenced by Prince, Michael Jackson and Madonna.

bc-usmagazine-hot-hollywood:9us

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 12:01 AM PDT

HOT HOLLYWOOD

ELIN NORDEGREN BABY ON THE WAY!

Nearly a decade after Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren made headlines following the golfer’s infamous infidelity scandal, the former pair are making the news again – but in a good way. Us confirmed on June 12 that the Swedish beauty, 39 – who shares Sam, 12, and Charlie, 10, with the pro – is expecting a baby with former NFL player, Jordan Cameron. While Elin and Jordan, 30 – also a parent from a previous relationship – have yet to publicly comment on their romance, a source says the duo met over a year ago and are “very happy about the pregnancy.” Tiger, 43, for his part, is also content, dating Erica Herman. The couple (since 2017) were spotted numerous times over the last year packing on the PDA.

NO BAD BLOOD A decade later, Tiger and Elin are on good terms. “We communicate so much better now, it’s incredible,” he’s said. “I wish we would have done that earlier on, but it’s been incredible to have a best friend like that.”

A REAL SCANDAL

After a site claimed on June 13 that Jim Edmonds cheated on wife Meghan King Edmonds, a former Real Housewives of Orange County star, in March 2018 – while she was pregnant with their twins, now 12 months – the retired MLB player, 48, sets the record straight. While he admits to Us that he had a “lapse of judgment” for an “inappropriate conversation” with a woman, he denies any intimate relationship, adding, “these false allegations are a joke.” However, Meghan doesn’t fully trust him. She wrote in a blog post the following day: “Physical or not, he still had an affair.”

Never Have They Ever…

…indulged in some of the world’s most common foods!

KENDALL JENNER

One kiss the model never received? A Hershey’s Kiss! “I never had one,” she let slip on a June 16 episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, to which Khloé Kardashian responded: “That’s crazy.”

ICE-T

No lox and bagels for him! The SVU star tried the bread after tweeting in November 2018 that he’d never eaten one. He was still not a fan. “Why would I eat an unsweetened doughnut?” he quipped.

TOM BRADY

After revealing in 2016 he had “no desire” to try a strawberry, the New England Patriots quarterback sampled one on the Stephen Colbert show in March 2018. The verdict? “Not that bad.”

PATRICK STEWART

In 2013, the Star Trek actor sent the internet into a frenzy when he revealed he’d tried his first classic “slice” of pizza in New York City. He later joked, “My first comment was, ‘There’s no knife and fork!'”

JESSICA BIEL

To Vax or Not to Vax

Jessica Biel is in hot water after meeting with “anti-vaxxer” activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on June 11. The actress, 37, is lobbying against SB-276, a bill designed to limit medical exemptions in California. But the mom to Silas, 4 (with Justin Timberlake), says the controversy is unwarranted. “I’m not against vaccinations – I support children getting vaccinations,” she notes. “I also support families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians.”

KARDASHIAN KARMA

What goes around, comes around? That’s what Jordan Craig, Tristan Thompson’s ex (and mother to his son, Prince) thinks. Khloé Kardashian, 34, and the NBA player, 28, famously broke up after he reportedly cheated on her. But now Jordan alleges that Tristan first stepped out on her – with Khloé! The Good American cofounder disputes this, saying Tristan told her “that the relationship was over long before we met.” But, Jordan, 27, isn’t buying it. “She questions Khloé’s very public timeline of events,” a source tells Us. “She really felt for Khloé when Tristan cheated on her, but she should have realized he’d done it before.” Ouch.

GET WELL SOON!

Move over, Coachella! It’s time for Wellness Fest

The Wellness Your Way Festival is back – and it’s bigger and better than ever! Before returning to Cincinnati this fall (Oct. 11-13), the Kroger event – cofounded by Jewel – will stop in Denver for three days (Aug. 16-18), during which festivalgoers will enjoy cooking demos, fitness sessions, inspirational talks and much more in the wellness space. Says the singer, 45, “I’m so inspired to… help others live happier, healthier lives!”

bc-usmagazine-what’s-in-my-bag?:9us

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 12:01 AM PDT

WHAT’S IN MY BAG?

Winnie Harlow’s jampacked Dior Diorama is small but mighty!

Model Winnie Harlow is a walking first aid kit. “My mom was a Girl Scout,” says the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit rookie, 24. From Pepto-Bismol and Advil to Band-Aids and Neosporin, “I’m literally Mary Poppins,” she jokes. “If you get injured, I can probably help you.” Us takes a peek inside her bottomless bag.

CEREAL NUMBER

“When I’m in the airport, I’ll buy a travel-size Cinnamon Toast Crunch. And then when I get on the plane, I’ll ask for milk and eat that.”

BURST BUBBLES

“I’m obsessed with soda. I obviously can’t drink it 24/7 – I need to stay hydrated – so I replace it with sparkling water as much as possible.”

FRAME OF MIND

“I love carrying Polaroids whenever I’m traveling. They’re just good memories, good vibes.”

READ HER LIPS

“Lip gloss is a necessity. I love Fenty Beauty by Rihanna’s Gloss Bomb. All the colors she has are amazing.”

FRESH MOUTH

“I’ve smelled a lot of breath in my life, and my biggest fear is for someone to smell mine. So I always have gum.”

SWEET AS SUGAR

“I carry a Baby Bottle Pop, and I only eat the sugar. When I was going to school, I’d save the top to bring home to my little sister.”

bc-usmagazine-love-lives:9us

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 12:01 AM PDT

LOVE LIVES

ASHLEY & CARA

A Model Match

Us exclusively revealed last week that Ashley Benson and Cara Delevingne had moved in together, and now a source says the pair of nearly a year has “never been happier. They’re so great.” The best part is, the two have been able to blend their lives effortlessly. “All of their friends mix well together,” adds the source, noting that Ashley, 29, and Cara, 26 – who met on the set of Her Smell in 2018 – have a “really healthy” relationship.

NEIL & DAVID

Balancing Act

Mealtime is a family affair for Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, the Life of the Party cookbook author, 44, tells Us. The parents to twins Harper and Gideon, 8, divide and conquer:

While he handles the meals, the actor, 46, heads behind the bar. “He’s the sommelier of the house,” David jokes, adding that it’s “invaluable for me to have him take care of the drinks.” And it would be invaluable for Us to get a dinner party invite!

NICO & BETHANY

No Time for Haters

Nico Tortorella and Bethany Meyers aren’t interested in anyone’s opinion of their union. The pair, who both identify as nonbinary, “get flak from outside and inside the community” for being in a polyamorous relationship, the actor, 30, told Us ahead of the HIV/AIDS fundraiser Life Ball in Vienna on June 5. But Nico, 30, and Bethany, 29, aren’t letting that affect their marriage of more than a year. “We openly communicate all of our desires and our feelings,” says the Younger star. “It’s all good.”

Baby, Hold On!

Queer Eye’s Tan France, 36, knows he wants to be a dad- just not right now. “With how crazy life is,” he tells Us, “it would be so irresponsible.” He and Rob France, who’ve been together for more than 10 years, hope to have a baby “within the next couple of years.”

LAUREN & SAMIRA

Netflix and Chill

But actually! Samira Wiley and her wife of two years, Lauren Morelli, keep their date nights low-key. “We make popcorn, but not the microwavable kind – like, for-real popcorn,” Samira told Us at the Tony Awards on June 9 in NYC. “We just sit down and talk and maybe watch a documentary.” The Orange Is the New Black star, 32, adds that she and the writer, 36, travel a lot, so it’s “really special” when they’re able to spend time together.

ZEKE & NICO

Quirky Cuties

Zeke Smith and Nico Santos go together like peaches and cream. Or maybe make that beans and rice? “Food is what brought us together, and food is what sustains us,” reality star Zeke, 31, tells Us. “We’re perfect for each other because we both laugh at all the farts that come as the result of the food.” Adds Superstore’s Nico, 40, “All the things about me that I thought were weird or unlovable, he absolutely adores.” Now that’s true love.

Walkin’ & Talkin’

Sara Gilbert famously exited The Talk earlier this year, and her wife of five years, Linda Perry, fully supports it. “She’s blossoming, she’s shining,” the singer, 54, told Us at the Chrysalis Butterfly Ball in L.A. on June 1. “I couldn’t be more proud.”

bc-usmagazine-loose-talk:9us

Posted: 29 Jun 2019 12:01 AM PDT

LOOSE TALK

“I’ve felt 40 for about eight years…finally the age is catching up with how I feel.”

On her big birthday

MINDY KALING

“I think once I tweeted that I wanted to have a goat and name it Gal Da-goat.”

On her love of the maavelous creatures

TESSA THOMPSON

“It looked like I was shooting my scenes in the rain.”

Talking about sweating on stage during The Jeffersons live special due to nerves

JAMIE FOXX

“Next time please get some big names.”

Commenting on Meryl Streep’s turn in season 2 of Big Little Lies

CHRIS HARRISON

“You’re really straining for that s**t.”

Comparing Dark Phoenix costar Michael Fassbender’s superpower moves to her more delicate stance

SOPHIE TURNER

Film Review: ‘The Other Side of Heaven II: Fire of Faith’

Posted: 28 Jun 2019 11:43 PM PDT

Despite such melodramatic flourishes as a near-disaster on a storm-tossed sea, a violent attack on an apostate by a group of religious zealots, and a startling (albeit not entirely convincing) death by lightning bolt, Mitch Davis‘ “The Other Side of Heaven II: Fire of Faith” is as tedious as rush-hour traffic and as bland as a communion wafer. It’s conceivable that this sincere but overextended tale of a dedicated Mormon missionary on assignment in the South Pacific might appeal to many of the faithful who flocked to its 2001 predecessor, “The Other Side of Heaven,” another adaptation (also written and directed by Davis) of an autobiographical book by John H. Groberg. But even members of that target audience probably will prefer home-screen viewing to a theatrical experience, since frequent usage of the pause and fast-forward controls can work wonders when it comes to making something this sluggishly paced more bearable.

In the 2001 film, Christopher Gorham played John H. Groberg as a recent Brigham Young University graduate who encounters and transcends challenges while spreading the good word as an LDS Church missionary in 1950s Tonga. Jean, his faithful fiancée played by then up-and-comer Anne Hathaway, stayed home in Idaho Falls, frequently writing letters and patiently awaiting his return.

“Heaven II” picks up the story a decade or so later, with John (Gorham again) now married to Jean (Natalie Medlock, taking over for Hathaway), and eager to return to his old stomping grounds — or, if you prefer, preaching grounds — as president of the entire Tonga-Fiji mission, a position that makes him responsible for 200 missionaries and 10,000 church members spread out over 40 different islands in three different countries.

Jean gets to go along this time, along with their five young daughters, and she conveys impressive amounts of serenity and support as he tends to his far-flung flock. (There’s never any doubt that John and Jean are true soul mates: They even like the same sort of poetry, as indicated by their shared appreciation for Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach.”) Unfortunately, there is trouble in this paradise that has nothing to do with any potential marital discord caused by frequent separations.

Viliami “Sione” Paletu’a (Ben Baker), a native Tongan, is a Methodist minister who commands and receives unquestioning loyalty from his flock, and doesn’t want any Mormon interlopers on his island. Indeed, Sione is so territorial, even dictatorial, that when his adult son Toutai (Alex Tarrant) merely expresses sympathy for a neighbor who has converted to Mormonism, he punishes the young man by burying him in sand up to his neck on the shore, and leaves him there overnight. Toutai manages to survive, but just barely, and some of Sione’s most ardent disciples are not at all grateful for this miracle.

Baker’s belligerent ranting is almost comical in its excessiveness, especially when contrasted with Gorhan’s genial underplaying, but his aggressively unpleasant character is the sole provider of dramatic tension throughout most of “Heaven II.” (Composer Christian Davis tries to dial up emotional intensity with overbearing music, much of it very loud, but that doesn’t help.) There isn’t really much in the way of suspense at all until writer-director Davis introduces a couple of third-act developments that lead to anxious vigils in a hospital for both John and Sione. And even here, there are no surprises.

Of course, you could argue that the audience gets fair warning right from the start that surprises are unlikely in any film so obviously designed to provide uplift and inspiration. In an early scene, one of John’s daughters pointedly asks her father at bedtime: “How come all your stories end happily ever after?” She might not know, but the makers of “The Other Side of Heaven II: Fire of Faith” certainly do.

Shay Mitchell’s PLL pals celebrate pregnancy news

Posted: 28 Jun 2019 11:00 PM PDT

Shay Mitchell’s ‘Pretty Little Liars’ co-stars are celebrating her pregnancy news.

The 23-year-old actress – who suffered a miscarriage last year – has revealed she is more than six months pregnant with her first child with her longtime boyfriend, Matte Babel and her former co-stars are overjoyed.

Troian Bellisario — who welcomed a daughter with husband Patrick J. Adams in October – wrote: “YAS queen, I am so excited to be a mama with you and welcome this beautiful babe to the world!”

Janel Parrish added: “Congrats gorgeous!” while Julian Morris commented a simple red heart emoji.

Sasha Pieterse Sheaffer said on her Instagram story: “Stunning. Congratulations beautiful mama.”

Shay announced the news on Instagram, with a naked picture of herself showing off her baby bump and wrote: “Does this mean I’m allowed to drive in the car pool lane at all times now? (sic)”

And in an accompanying video, Shay revealed it had been “hard” to keep her pregnancy a secret.

She said: “When you’re in the public eye, there are some things you want to just keep a secret until you feel ready. This, for me, has been the hardest. It’s going to be really fun and awesome when I’m not trying to hide it anymore. I didn’t want to come out on social media so early on. I’m going to be so happy when this comes out. I can be pregnant, like not suck my stomach in.”

Mischa Barton took three months to agree to The Hills reboot

Posted: 28 Jun 2019 11:00 PM PDT

Mischa Barton took three months to sign up for ‘The Hills: New Beginnings’.

The 33-year-old actress has joined the cast of the rebooted MTV reality show but she admitted it wasn’t an easy decision.

She said: “It wasn’t an overnight decision.

“It was a process to even decide to do it.

“And by that, I mean three months thinking about it.”

Mischa hopes she can show who she “really” is on the show, particularly because some people still get her mixed up with her ‘The O.C.’ character, Marissa Cooper – who was killed off at the end of the third season of the show – and she used to find that “insulting”.

Asked why she signed up, she said: “There’s always been a bit of mystery surrounding me.

“And people not really knowing, quote unqote, who Mischa really is.

“And sometimes it gets a little old, answering those questions.”

About her time on ‘The O.C.’, she added: “Strangely, lines got blurred over the years anyway, with people not really remembering which was which.

“I used to get really insulted. I’d be like, ‘I died!'”

Mischa – who suffered a breakdown in 2009 – relocated from New York to Los Angeles for ‘The Hills’ and explained the cameras will see her trying to reignite her acting career.

She told Grazia magazine: “You see some of my relocating back to Los Angeles after having taken some time off and I really stepped away to the East Coast to a much more normal life.

“I was in upstate New York, in a very, very relaxed and real environment…

“There’s something about the business that you love and hate.

“Los Angeles is so intense and you have to be in the right frame of mind to get into the audition game. “And I suppose that’s sort of what you see me beginning to do, which is to try and get back into that.”

Jennifer Lawrence’s wild night out

Posted: 28 Jun 2019 11:00 PM PDT

Jennifer Lawrence peed in a bucket during a wild night out with Adele.

The pair enjoyed a night of bar-hopping in New York in March, including a trip to actor Alan Cumming’s Club Cumming and he revealed that Jennifer got her make-up done by the drag queens at the club before using a bucket as a toilet, to the amusement of Adele.

Speaking to PEOPLE Now, Alan claimed: “We had a hilarious time where Jennifer Lawrence and Adele came. They went downstairs to the basement and Jennifer got her make-up done by the drag queens. And she peed in a bucket because she didn’t want to go all the way back upstairs. And Adele was going ‘she’s the face of Chanel’.”

Jennifer actually has a contract with Dior and not Chanel.

Jennifer, 28, and Adele,31, have been friends since 2013 when they first met at the Oscars, when Adele won for her song ‘Skyfall’ while Jennifer picked up an Oscar for her role in Silver Linings Playbook.

Jennifer previously said: “I remember sneaking backstage while she performed ‘Skyfall,’ trying to squeeze a ball gown past a pile of ropes and cables just to get a little closer. See her from another angle as if to peek behind the Great Oz’s curtain.

“I had been a fan of hers since ‘Chasing Pavements’ (saying ‘fan’ about Adele always sounds like an understatement, doesn’t it?).”

Jennifer also supported Adele at her Los Angeles concert in 2016, saying it was a rare night out for her.

She explained: “It’s hard to get me out, and when I do go out I don’t really stay out late. If I do stay out late and I’m partying hard, I will throw up. I don’t have the tolerance to black out; I just start puking.”

Outlook: Senate Looks to Pass Defense-Policy Bill, Emergency Border Funding

Posted: 28 Jun 2019 10:23 PM PDT

Congress turns a spotlight to appropriations this week while Democrats decamp to Miami mid-week for the presidential primary debates.

The Senate will debate both the defense-policy bill and an emergency supplemental allocation for humanitarian aid to address the migrant intake crisis.

While both packages have passed procedural hurdles with wide bipartisan support last week, they could serve as platforms for broader debates about President Trumps policy in regards to both escalating tensions with Iran and security of the border with Mexico.

Senate Armed Services Chairman James Inhofe said last week he hopes to pass the National Defense Authorization Act by Thursday, but Republican Sen. Rand Paul has slowed things down. Paul and other senators are pushing for an amendment that would block funding for military operations against Iran without Congresss approval. Democrats are also pushing for amendments to improve election security. A procedural vote on the $750 billion legislation is scheduled for Monday.

We want an open amendment process, Inhofe said, mirroring what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier in the week.

This House is set to wrap up most of its remaining appropriations bills this week, and will vote on a second package of spending measures early on. Whats left is the legislative branch, homeland security and financial services, and general government appropriations bills, which theyre set to vote on individually.

House Democrats will vote on the financial services and general government bill this week, and may vote on the legislative branch bill as well.

The legislative affairs portion would essentially allow a planned cost-of-living increase in pay for lawmakers and staffers, the first time in a decade. House Republicans, and some Democrats, have opposed the increase, but the issue has been a focus of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer for years and he has the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelsoi. Still, its unclear whether enough Democrats will follow leadership and support the language.

McConnellwho is up for reelection in 2020has said he opposes the pay increase, so its a difficult ask for vulnerable House Democrats to vote for a controversial pay increase when theres a chance it wont wind up in the final version of the appropriations bill.

After the House passes the homeland-security bill, it will have completed all 12 appropriations measures. The Senate has yet to debate one. Congress must pass legislation to fund the government by Oct. 1 to avert a shutdown. House and Senate leadership and the White House have yet to agree on spending levels following a tense meeting last week.

Additionally, the House is also set to begin debate on its own $4.5 billion supplemental bill to fund security and humanitarian efforts at the border. The House Appropriations Committee released its version of the bill Friday.

The Senate Appropriations Committee nearly unanimously passed its $4.6 billion version last week. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday holds its own hearing on the migration crisis.

The House bill appropriates $128 million to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. While the measure doesnt provide money for additional ICE detention beds, the move could still rankle some progressives.

The House could vote on the measure as soon as this week.

No confirmation votes are scheduled, but the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider five nominees Thursday.

Heres what else is on tap this week:

DEFENSE AND FOREIGN POLICY

The House Foreign Affairs Committee hears testimony Tuesday from officials at the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development on the U.S. response to the crisis in Sudan, where longtime president Omar al-Bashir was ousted by the Sudanese military and a political crackdown has killed dozens.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has two business hearings scheduled for next week. The committee takes up three bills Tuesday, relating to fragile states and development aid, energy development in the Mediterranean, and global corruption, as well as four treaties with Spain, Japan, Luxembourg, and Switzerland on taxation. Members will also consider the nomination of Eliot Pedrosa for a three-year term at the Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank, and nonbinding resolutions on Huawei and ZTE, and human rights in Southeast Asia. Any items that arent resolved Tuesday will be pushed to Wednesday afternoon.

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

Key lawmakers are bringing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, widely considered the biggest U.S. conservation program, back into the limelight this week. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski will hold a hearing on the fund Tuesday.

Newly-confirmed Interior Department Assistant Secretary Susan Combs will testify, as will the Acting Deputy Chief of the U.S. Forest Service and nonprofit representatives. The LWCF authorizes federal acquisition of private land for parks and other recreation spaces and provides state grants for conservation projects.

Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Joe Manchin is leading legislation to permanently fund the LWCF at $900 million a year. Appropriators typically secure roughly half of that annually. Six Republicans and 35 Democrats are also on board the bill. But Murkowski, who is not a sponsor, will have to sign off in order to move it forward. A companion bill in the House passed out of the Natural Resources Committee last week.

Thats not the only high-profile hearing for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee this week. On Thursday, Murkowski will lead a hearing on long-term storage of nuclear waste. The Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2019 doesnt speak to permanent storage at the controversial Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada. Instead, it authorizes the establishment of interim sites that garner support from local government.

On the House side, the Oversight Committee will continue its series of climate-change hearings. The Tuesday hearing at the Environment Subcommittee, chaired by freshman Harley Rouda, will focus on preparedness and response to natural disaster. Scientific analysis suggests that warming temperatures are increasing the intensity of hurricanes, wildfires, and flooding.

HEALTH

The border funding that senators will be considering on the floor this will includes $2.88 billion to help the Health and Human Services Department handle the influx of unaccompanied immigrant minors being referred to their care. HHS has advised grantees that run facilities for children to start cutting back on recreation, education, and legal aide, but many will continue providing these services due to state requirements.

On the House side on Tuesday, the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will consider legislation to reauthorize health programs, including legislation that would beef up the funding for autism-related research and renew a program that screens newborn infants for genetic, metabolic, or functional disorders.

Then on Wednesday the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will mark up their bill to lower health care costs. The legislation includes a swath of proposals that aim to increase generic drug competition and provide protections against surprise medical bills.

The House Oversight and Reform National Security Subcommittee will assess the U.S.s biodefense preparedness and what antimicrobial resistance could mean for national security.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be marking legislation related to drug pricing, including a bill that would require the Federal Trade Commission to study the recent consolidation of pharmacy benefit managers and possible anticompetitive activity. They will also consider legislation that establishes definitions for product hopping and patent thicketing so that the FTC could bring antitrust suits against companies that employ such tactics.

TAXES AND TRADE

The House Ways and Means Committee will focus this week on the $10,000 cap on the federal deduction on state and local taxes enacted as part of the 2017 tax-code overhaul. The provision hit high-tax blue states like New York and New Jersey hard, and members from those districts have clamored for congressional action to roll back the move.

At an unrelated hearing on expired tax breaks last week, committee member and New Jersey Democrat Bill Pascrel warned Republicans that Democrats had not forgotten about the SALT cap increase.

And so, House tax writers will hold two hearings on the issue this week. The first hearing is Tuesday morning and covers how the limitations harm communities, school, first responders and housing values. Critics of the cap say the provisions could reduce local tax revenue, in part by causing a flight of high-net-worth homeowners from the states.

Later the same day, members will meet for a members-day hearing on the SALT cap.

The IRS released final rules last week barring some of the workarounds that states have created to avoid the SALT cap, largely centering around using a charitable donation in lieu of the traditional way of paying state and local taxes.

The Senate Finance Committee hasnt scheduled a hearing this week.

President Trump is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping this week at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan. Expectations are high for the two leaders to reach a deal to pause the escalating tariff war.

The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on a new labor-reform law in Mexico, which House Speaker Nancy Pelsoi has said the country must implement before her chamber passes the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade pact. The Mexican senate ratified the USMCA last week, becoming the first country to do so.

TECHNOLOGY

The Senate is taking a close look this week at the allegedly manipulative behavior of tech companies as they seek to engage users on their platforms. On Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet will meet to examine how the companies algorithms and machine learning capabilities influence user behavior, and whether the platforms should be compelled to explain their algorithms or make them publicly accessible. Later on that day, Sens. Mark Warner and Deb Fischer will hold an event to push their Deceptive Experience to Online Users Reduction Act, which would prohibit tech platforms from using deceptive user interfaces, or dark patterns, to condition users into turning over their personal data.

The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a trio of tech and cybersecurity-focused hearings this week. On Tuesday morning, the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism meets for a discussion on the ability of artificial intelligence to curb terrorism and terrorist-enabling behavior. On Tuesday afternoon the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation meets to assess how the federal government can assist state and local governments in securing their networks. Then on Wednesday, the full committee will meet for a hearing with officials from Facebook, Google, and Twitter on the companies efforts to counter misinformation and terrorist content on their platforms.

The Federal Trade Commissions annual convention on privacy, PrivacyCon, kicks off Thursday. Attendees will hear from a wide swath of privacy scholars and government officials on how to quantify the cost and benefits of consumer data, new privacy and security issues stemming from the Internet of Things, whether the market can properly incentivize consumer privacy, and several other issues.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will mark up robocall legislation on Tuesday. The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act would require carriers to implement call authentication technology, allow carriers to offer call blocking services free to consumers, and enhance the Federal Communications Commissions authority to issue new rules, safeguards and enforcement actions in order to protect consumers from unwanted calls. The legislation has bipartisan support from committee leadership, and comes just over a month after the Senate overwhelmingly passed its own anti-robocall bill.

WHITE HOUSE

President Trumps week ends at a summit in Japan. But the road there takes him first through honoring heroism in Iraq and tending to his political base with an eye on his reelection campaign. On Monday, he will sign an executive order to force the disclosure of prices in health care by insurers, doctors, and hospitals. On Tuesday he will present the Medal of Honor, for the first time, to a living veteran of the Iraq War. It will go to former Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia, who is now a radio host in Buffalo active in Republican politics and a vocal supporter of Trump. He is being honored for his bravery in November 2004 when his platoon was pinned down by gunfire as he went from house to house. He unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2012. Trump ends the day with a GOP fundraiser. On Wednesday, he will address the Faith Freedom Coalitions annual Road to Majority Policy Conference. The group is an enthusiastic supporter of his. Following that speech, Trump leaves for Osaka, Japan, site of the G-20 summit.

The Feud Lives On

Posted: 28 Jun 2019 10:23 PM PDT

The long-running feud between Sen. Rand Paul and the Cheneys could soon hit the headlines again.

The Hill reported that Paul is encouraging former Rep. Cynthia Lummis to run for the seat of retiring Sen. Mike Enzi in Wyoming. Lummis reorganized her campaign account this week in preparation to do just that, setting up a possible primary with her successor, Rep. Liz Cheney.

Should Lummis and Cheney opt to run and Paul publicly support Lummis, it would be the latest in a decade of run-ins between the two-term libertarian senator from Kentucky and the Cheney family over their differing foreign policy visions.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney endorsed Pauls 2010 open-seat primary opponent and in 2014, a month after battling on separate Sunday morning shows, expressed concern along with his daughter about Pauls forthcoming presidential bid, citing his national security stances.

Paul swiftly endorsed Enzi in 2013, even before Liz Cheney had announced her primary challenge of the senator, and he backed Cheneys primary opponent in 2016, when she was elected to her first term in the House. Now he appears ready to oppose her again, this time supporting Lummis, a former House Freedom Caucus member with libertarian leanings.

— Kyle Trygstad

Biden Is a Shaky Front-Runner in South Carolina

Posted: 28 Jun 2019 10:22 PM PDT

COLUMBIA, S.C.House Majority Whip James Clyburn was in his element this weekend as the master of ceremonies at his annual World Famous Fish Fry, where thousands of South Carolinians waited in the sweltering heat to sample some fried fish sandwichesand the campaign rhetoric of 21 aspiring Democratic presidential candidates.

In turn, everyone from former Vice President Joe Biden to Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam paid homage to the South Carolina kingmaker, who packed the venue with thousands of supporters and constituents eager to get some clarity on the historically large presidential campaign field.

The fish fry served as the unofficial kickoff of primary season in South Carolina, a critical state on the nominating calendar. On Saturday, nearly all the presidential candidates crisscrossed the state capitol to speak at the state partys annual convention and a Planned Parenthood forum taking place simultaneously.

At a Young Democrats of South Carolina reception held at a downtown bar, attendees were handed a bingo card featuring the names of all the presidential candidates. A selfie with one of the contenders was worth a mark on the card. Enough marks on the card were worth a prize.

Indeed, the weekends proceedings underscored how wide open the Democratic nomination is.

Despite Bidens commanding lead in early state polls, voters made clear that they are just beginning to make sense of the sprawling fieldand that they view Biden more as a steady placeholder than an imposing contender.

At the party convention, only three Biden volunteers stood out in front of the building to hand out campaign stickers. They were outnumbered by staff from other campaigns, even that of long-shot Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, whose aides demonstrated a comparative show of force on the other side of the street.

Biden came into the South Carolina festivities on the defensive over impolitic comments he had made recalling his working relationship with segregationists when he was first elected to the Senate. Despite the controversy, he received a warm reception from the crowd and lingered at the fish fry past midnight to take selfies and mingle with attendees.

Biden is something comfortable and feels good right now. We need someone to go back to the political norms, said engineer Robert James, a self-described moderate attending the fish fry. Hes also something old. He could bring us back to the center, but Im not sure hes the right choice. James, who is African-American, said his two top candidates are Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

The risk Biden faces in South Carolina is that his overwhelming support among African-Americans will dissipate when voters learn about the other candidates and internalize attacks against the former vice president.

Bidens controversial comments didnt come up at the public events, but voters said they were beginning to pay attention to the controversy. Clyburn and Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon, said Bidens comments were not offensivehelping Biden quell criticism from his opponentsbut the issue was beginning to percolate at the grassroots level.

Booker, who had leveled the toughest response against the vice president, didnt bring up the subject at a church breakfast Saturday in Columbia. But one of the first questions he received from a congregant was about his back-and-forth dispute with Biden.

I could not let him not address that because of what I hear in my communityespecially when hes trying to become leader of my party, Booker said. I said my piece. But I just want people to know I will not apologize for speaking truth to power. As an African-American, I know the legacy of this type of language.

The biggest advantage Biden holds in the state is that few of his leading rivals are challenging him from the center, allowing him to solidify support among the 46 percent of South Carolina Democrats who consider themselves moderate or conservative and arent looking for the kind of left-wing rhetoric that other candidates delivered.

Sen. Kamala Harris opened her remarks at a Friday event praising Rep. Barbara Lees lone vote against authorizing war against al-Qaida in the aftermath of 9/11. At the church, Booker said he wouldnt rule out meeting with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. During the fish fry, Sen. Elizabeth Warren reiterated her call for eliminating tuition and fees at all universities. Sen. Bernie Sanders may call himself the lone socialist in the race, but the leading candidates are all marching leftward.

Before the fish fry, Clyburn created a stir when he openly wondered why accomplished African-American candidates like Booker and Harris werent getting more traction in a state seemingly tailor-made for their candidacies. I thought for sure that there would be much more of a surge, and I can’t quite figure that out yet, he told NBC News.

The answer to the Clyburn conundrum: Its early, and Bidens support is softer than it looks. Booker, for one, predicted victory in South Carolina, scoffing at the predictability of early polls. But if none of the top contenders are willing to win over voters in the middle, they wont be able to live up to that potential.

Blumenthal Breaks <i>Brown v. Board</i> Blockade by Nominees

Posted: 28 Jun 2019 10:22 PM PDT

When Peter Phipps appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee last April to make his case for a Pennsylvania district judgeship, the former Justice Department staffer demurred when Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal quizzed him on whether Brown v. Board of Education, a seminal Supreme Court decision that outlawed racial segregation, was correctly decided.

As far as commenting on any specific Supreme Court decision, even one as entrenched and as important as Brown, I resist that for two reasons, Phipps said. One, to preserve my impartiality with respect to not just that opinion, but every single Supreme Court opinion thats ever been decided. And second, I rely in part on the precedent of this august committee, and this body, that has understood that nominees for judicial office should not be giving their seal of approval or disapproval to any individual Supreme Court decision or any part of the reasoning of those.

While applying for a promotion earlier this month to the 3rd Circuit, Phipps relented when Blumenthal posed the same question.

Because Brown is of singular importance to our nation, yes, Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided, Senator, he said.

Phipps, who is scheduled to advance out of committee this week, joins other nominees who endorsed the civil rights decision. This marks a significant shift in how President Trump’s judicial picks have chosen to respond to Democratic senators on the question of Brown, effectively breaking the pattern of nominees who have remained silent on the issue for fear of being drawn into interrogations over more controversial decisions on issues that may come before their courts.

Finally, a breakthrough, Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, said last week.

The committee last week advanced four nominees, including 9th Circuit pick Daniel Bress, who at a May hearing responded in the affirmative when Blumenthal posed his usual question on Brown.

Conservatives working to shift the balance of the federal judiciary to the right have encouraged nominees to deflect on the seemingly innocuous question, fearing that endorsing even that unanimous 1954 decision opens up to scrutiny nominees’ opinions of Supreme Court holdings governing abortion and same-sex marriage.

“It would be very easy and politically convenient for a judicial nominee to come in to senators and promise how he’s going to vote on a case, including an easy case like Brown v. Board of Education, said Article III Project President Mike Davis, who served as chief counsel for nominations to former Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley. Everyone knows that Brown v. Board of Education was rightly decided. The problem is if any nominee says that, then that nominee is going to get pushed down a slippery slope very fast by the Democrats.”

Justice Neil Gorsuch at his 2017 confirmation hearing called Brown a correct application of the law of precedent, prompting Blumenthal to question why he wouldnt offer the same endorsement of cases that form the basis for abortion policy.

In the years since, Phipps and other future judges declined to weigh in on the decision, citing judicial canon and a desire to retain their public impartiality on Brown and other precedent-setting cases. That didnt play well with Democrats, who excoriated nominees like Judge Wendy Vitter of Louisiana for their “obfuscation,” as Blumenthal and NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson put it in a May USA Today op-ed.

If you cant handle slippery slopes, you dont belong on the bench, Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said.

Judiciary members of both parties, in interviews, unprompted, presented their own theory of why nominees initially refrained from entertaining Blumenthals questioning.

I wonder whether the Department of Justice and the White House is overcoaching some of these nominees, Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican member of the panel, said last week.

A DOJ spokesman said the department does not direct judicial nominees how to answer questions.

However, departmental staff do prepare nominees. That training involves recaps of previous judicial hearings, with reminders that Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan demurred on specific precedents set by the Supreme Court when they sought the Senates confirmation.

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse invoked similar precedent last month before Bress testimony, prompting senators of both parties to pepper the nominee on his opinions of the case.

I would just urge my colleagues on this panel to stop asking these questions and pretend that theyre anything other than policy advocacy, Sasse said. Our nominees should not answer these questions, and we shouldnt be asking them.

Not all of Sasses colleagues agree. Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham earlier this month, invoking Chief Justice John Robertss unequivocal endorsement of Brown during his 2005 confirmation hearing, told National Journal that nominees should bless Brown and drew a distinction between one of the great decisions in the history of the country and the divisive issue of abortion.

I think Brown is in a different class, Graham said. I think the entire country is behind Brown v. Board of Education. Its very divided on Roe v. Wade.

Graham was also skeptical that Brown would be relevant to any judicial cases going forward; he said questions about the case were more theater than anything else.”

A Supreme Court case only happens to a case in controversy, Graham said. Name one jurisdiction in America that’s gonna pass segregation.

Blumenthal in a brief interview noted that his line of questioning doesnt necessarily present an opportunity to probe on other cases.

Some nominees have said, Ill answer the question on Brown, and maybe on Marbury v. Madison, but not on every Supreme Court precedent, Blumenthal said. I think that they have a responsibility to answer the question on Brown v. Board and some of the other cases that really are pillars of our constitutional law, and provide insight into their character and values.

The Brown standard progressives have pressed hasnt derailed nominees in the Senate, where Republicans hold the majority. And panel members in interviews expressed exhaustion from the controversy.

Im doing my best to make sure that I vote for good people, but some of these tests that are being applied may be arbitrary, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said.

Republican Sen. John Kennedy said any question is fair game in confirmation hearings except for prediction of votes on future cases or issues. And, up to a point, nominees can respond the way they want, he said, even if theyre coached to respond a certain way.

Ive tried to design questions around that in a way that will also allow them to express their judicial philosophy, Kennedy said. But sometimes, they wont answer anything. Now, I havent been pushed to the limit yet, but there could come a time when I say, Look, you havent answered my questions; Im voting no because I dont even understand what you stand for.

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