The White House made me a poster child for beating the odds. Then I dropped out of college. by Anthony Mendez on May 31, 2016

(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“I was making rice when the phone rang that afternoon.

“Hello, is this Anthony?”

“Yes, who is this?” I figured it was someone from Hartford, closing out any remaining business.

“Anthony, this is the Office of the First Lady of the United States. We’d like to invite you to attend the State of the Union address next week with the First Lady. Are you available and interested?”

I nearly dropped my phone into the still-cooking rice.”

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We Watched “Roots” With a “Roots” Expert – MICHAEL MECHANIC MAY 31, 2016 5:00 AM

Part 1: An edgy new Kunta Kinte arrives in America.

The British actor Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte. Casey Crafford

What are the most-watched shows on television these days? I checked. For network TV, as of the end of March, Nielsen listed The Big Bang Theory, with 14.2 million viewers, followed by Empire, with 12.5 million. (Empire led among black viewers.) For regular cable, The Walking Dead dominated with 14 million viewers. In the premium realm, in April, the season premiere of HBO’s popular Game of Thrones drew roughly 8 million viewers.Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at May 31, 2016 1.30

Compare that with Roots, the eight-part miniseries based on Alex Haley’s fictionalized family history, which first aired on ABC in January 1977. America’s population was just 220 million then—it’s 323 million now—and plenty of families still didn’t own a television. Yet nearly 29 million US households watched Roots that first night. By the finale, more than 36 million households (100 million-plus individuals) were tuned in. It was the most-watched miniseries in history, beating out the previous year’s Gone With the Wind saga, which depicted a romantic version of slavery.

In his upcoming book, Making Roots: A Nation Captivated, Arizona State University historian Matthew Delmont recalls how the original book and series took flack for historical inaccuracies, and how Haley himself was attacked for plagiarizing passages and for playing loose with the facts. But simply depicting the horrors of slavery onscreen was revolutionary. Delmont quotes a Washington Post reviewer: “The scenes on the ship, with the slaves chained together, stacked alongside one another, lying in their vomit and excrement…are something we have never seen before. We have read about slavery. But we have never seen it, never in such painstaking detail and never being experienced with such excruciating pain.”

As you’ve likely heard, Roots is backre-envisioned for a 2016 audience and airing for four straight nights on History starting last night. (You can watch it here.) And who better to watch it with than Delmont? What follows is the first of our four conversations recapping each installment as it airs. And yes, of course there will be spoilers.


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Turkey’s Next Military Coup – By Gonul Tol May 30, 2016

How Empowering the Generals Could Backfire

4 reasons disease outbreaks are erupting around the world – by Julia Belluz on May 31, 2016

In the week prior to May 27, there were 965 alerts about health threats to the disease tracking website Health Map. | Health Map

In the week prior to May 27, there were 965 alerts about health threats to the disease tracking website Health Map. | Health Map

MERS, H1N1, swine flu, chikungunya, Zika: Another virus with a peculiar name always seems to be right around the corner, threatening to become a pandemic.

Over the past decade, the World Health Organization has declared four global health emergencies. Two of them were in the past two years: the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the Zika outbreak that’s spread through the Americas.

If that seems like a lot, it is. Researchers who charted the rise of infectious diseases from 1980 to 2010 in the journal The Royal Society in 2014 found that outbreaks have indeed become more common in recent decades:

 The Royal Society
The global number of human infectious disease outbreaks and richness of causal diseases, from 1980 to 2010. Outbreak records are plotted with respect to (a) total global outbreaks (left axis, bars) and total number of diseases causing outbreaks in each year (right axis, dots), (b) host type, (c) pathogen taxonomy, and (d) transmission mode.

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From Medical Maggots To Stench Soup, ‘Grunt’ Explores The Science Of Warfare : Shots – Health News : NPR

NPR delivers breaking national and world news. Also top stories from business, politics, health, science,close technology, music, arts and culture. Subscribe to podcasts and RSS feeds.

Source: From Medical Maggots To Stench Soup, ‘Grunt’ Explores The Science Of Warfare : Shots – Health News : NPR

Harambe the gorilla: the zoo killing that’s set the internet on fire, explained – Updated by Alex Abad-Santos on May 31, 2016, 10:30 a.m. ET

Harambe the gorilla.

Harambe, a western lowland gorilla, turned 17 at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden on Friday. The zoo celebrated his birthday. The next day, zoo officials shot and killed the critically endangered ape.

The reason? Harambe acted like a gorilla.

On the day Harambe died, a 4-year-old boy managed to get into his enclosure. Video of the incident shows that Harambe grabbed the child, stood over him at times, and dragged him. The severity of Harambe’s actions and the perceived reasoning behind them depend on whom you ask. And after evaluating the situation, zoo officials decided to kill Harambe instead of tranquilizing him.

It took around 10 minutes from the moment the boy fell into Harambe’s enclosure to the decision to kill Harambe. But the controversy surrounding Harambe’s death has just begun.

What happened to Harambe

The controversy surrounding Harambe’s death is much more complicated than the actions that led to his death. A boy found his way into Cincinnati’s “Gorilla World” enclosure, and when he fell in (a 10- to 12-foot drop), Harambe grabbed him, stood over him, and dragged him. The full video of the incident is up at WLWT, an NBC affiliate in Cincinnati. This video, a condensed version of the encounter, has been making the rounds:

Witnesses at the scene as well as people watching the video have been split on the severity of the situation. Some people believe Harambe was protecting the child in the same way a gorilla would protect its own offspring. However, according to the incident report cited by the New York Times, Harambe was described as “violently dragging and throwing the child.”

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When Bigger Isn’t Better: Banks Retreat From Global Ambitions – By JUSTIN BAER and MAX COLCHESTER May 30, 2016 1:13 p.m. 23 MINUTES AWAY`

The global financial supermarket is out of fashion, as CEOs jettison businesses and exit countries

Birth of a behemoth: Sanford Weill, left, and John Reed in 1998 as they announce the merger of Travelers and Citicorp, forming Citigroup.

Birth of a behemoth: Sanford Weill, left, and John Reed in 1998 as they announce the merger of Travelers and Citicorp, forming Citigroup. — Photo: Richard Drew/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Eighteen years ago, Sanford Weill declared the dawn of a new era in banking.

Mr. Weill, then chief executive of Travelers Group Inc., had agreed to merge with John Reed’s Citicorp, forging what would become the first financial supermarket to the world.

“Our company will be so diversified and in so many different areas that we will be able to withstand” the inevitable downturns to come, Mr. Weill said in April 1998.

Citigroup Inc., as it was christened, is still intact. But confidence in the model Messrs. Weill and Reed espoused is in decline.

After nearly two decades of breakneck expansion into ever more countries and ever more businesses, global banks are in retreat. For most of them, it is no longer a viable strategy to try to be all things to all customers around the world.

A McKinsey & Co. review of 10 global banks, conducted for The Wall Street Journal, found that those lenders were present on average in 65 countries in 2008. By last year, the average footprint had shrunk to 55 countries. And the McKinsey research doesn’t include Citigroup, which has unveiled plans in recent years to exit retail-banking businesses in at least 20 nations.

The pace has quickened this year. Barclays PLC said it would sell much of its business in Africa, while HSBC Holdings PLC is pulling out of Brazil, one of about 83 businesses around the world it has shed since 2011.

Mr. Weill, who retired as CEO in 2003, still sees value in being global.

“The economy is a global village, and we need global financial institutions that bring it together,” he said in an interview. “What would happen if we had a telecommunications system that was locally based, and couldn’t connect? It wouldn’t be very good.”

That view is now out of favor. Analysts have called for J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup to break up, and the issue of whether banks are too big is a recurring topic on the presidential campaign trail.

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CIA ex-boss: secretive spooks tolerated in UK more than in US – Mark Brown Sunday 29 May 2016 16.49 EDT

Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden in New York earlier in May.

British people are not demanding more transparency from the intelligence services as loudly as Americans, the former director of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and CIA has said.

Michael Hayden played a pivotal, leading role in American intelligence until he was replaced as director of the CIA shortly into the presidency of Barack Obama.

In a wide-ranging talk on the fourth day of the Hay festival, Hayden addressed CIA torture, targeted killings, what he thinks about Edward Snowden and how Facebook is perhaps a greater threat to privacy than government.

Hayden said the security services were changing faster in the US than the UK. “You as a population are far more tolerant of aggressive action on the part of your intelligence services than we are in the United States,” he said.

The US intelligence services would not have validation from the American people unless there was a certain amount of knowledge, an increased transparency, he said.

Hayden talked about the tensions between the need to know and the need to protect.

In his newlypublished book Hayden calls Snowden naive and narcissistic and says he wanted to put him on a “kill list”.

On the next page he said Snowden “highlighted the need for a broad cultural shift” in terms of transparency and what constitutes consent. On Sunday he said there was no contradiction between the two assertions.

“The 2% of what Snowden revealed that had to do with privacy accelerated a necessary conversation. The other 98% was about how the US and foreign governments collected legitimate material … that was incredibly damaging.”

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Sessions to GOP: Adapt to Trump or die – By GLENN THRUSH 05/31/16 05:25 AM EDT

In an exclusive interview for POLITICO’s ‘Off Message’ podcast, the Alabama senator warns fellow Republicans to fall in line.

Bridget Mulcahy/POLITICO

Bridget Mulcahy/POLITICO

Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Donald Trump’s friendly but fierce Alabama ally, has a message for Republicans still queasy about their party’s nominee: Tide’s about to roll over you.

Sessions, a 69-year-old former state attorney general who famously donned the “Make America Great Again” trucker’s cap at a massive rally in Mobile last August, thinks Trump is more a movement than a man. And this sprightly son of country preachers and teachers is on a mission to evangelize maybe-Trumpers like House Speaker Paul Ryan on the Gospel According to Donald – with a sermon on self-preservation.

“I think [Ryan] needs to recognize, on some of these issues, Trump is where the Republicans are and if you’re going to be a Republican leader you should be supportive of that,” Sessions told me during a taping of POLITICO’s “Off Message” podcast in his Senate office last week.

“My advice is to listen and accept the will of the American people, the Republican voters – the Republican Party is the Republican voters,” he added – a pointed reference to Ryan’s suggestion that he, and not the presumptive party nominee, represents authentic conservative values. “Give me a break! A lot of our drift within our party has gotten away from [the will of the voters] … I think the leaders in all parties tend to adjust to reality. They just have to or they won’t remain in office … Already many are sensing it.”

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Warriors Edge Thunder to Extend Dream Season to N.B.A. Finals By SCOTT CACCIOLA MAY 30, 2016

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors entered the N.B.A. playoffs having spent months chasing basketball magic. As they overwhelmed a conga line of opponents, the Warriors went about the uncharitable business of obliterating records, each new number more impressive than the last.

Yet the Warriors have remained aware that all their feats would be meaningless without an opportunity to vie for another championship, their victories consigned to the dustbin of near renown, their records reduced to footnotes of almost greatness. They have always wanted the whole package: the wins, the records and the trophy.

Golden State sustained the dream on Monday by defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder, 96-88, in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals at Oracle Arena. The Warriors, the defending champions, are bound for the N.B.A. finals, where they will face the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second straight year. Game 1 is here on Thursday.

“You appreciate how tough it is to get back here,” said Stephen Curry, who led the Warriors with 36 points. “That’s the one thing I’ve learned.”

Of all the Warriors’ accomplishments, this one may have been the most impressive. They had to win the final three games of the series to outlast the Thunder, whose miscues — missed shots, turnovers and wasted chances to advance — could haunt the franchise for years to come.

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