Football flicks: 10 best gridiron movies and TV series to binge on screens large and small

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 11:55

There’s nothing like a gripping football-themed movie or TV show to provoke a big adrenaline rush.

After all, where else can you find uplifting beat-the-odds stories and blood, sweat and tear-soaked life lessons about teamwork, dedication and discipline?

And where else can you see a fiery Denzel Washington spit out silly lines like, “You look like a bunch of sissies after a cat fight!”

Thankfully, film and television have blessed us with a dizzying array of narratives that not only appeal to gridiron geeks, but to non-fans who might not know a nickel defense from a penny loafer.

Here are a few standouts that deserve to be in your lineup:

Silver screen touchdowns Brian’s Song (1971)

Some films can turn even the manliest men into blubbering babies. (See: “Saving Private Ryan,” “Old Yeller,” etc.) But this made-for-ABC production holds a special place in the cinematic waterworks hall of fame.

Adapted from Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers’ autobiography, it recalls how he and his white teammate, Brian Piccolo (James Caan), formed an unlikely bromance after starting off as rivals. The story turns tragic when Piccolo is stricken with cancer. Break out the industrial-strength tissues.

Winner of five Emmys, “Brian’s Song” figures to earn some newfound attention in the wake of Caan’s death in July.

Where to watch: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu.

The Longest Yard (1974)

Journey back in time to when Burt Reynolds was nearing the pinnacle of his hunky-man, king-of-the-box-office powers. Here he plays Paul “Wrecking” Crewe, a disgraced NFL quarterback turned prison convict assigned to organize a team of inmates to scrimmage against the prison guards.

Dubbed the “Mean Machine,” his posse features more freaks, psychos and miscreants than those fabled Oakland Raiders squads of old. And laughs are plentiful as they struggle to mesh while prepping for the big showdown.

Burt Reynolds stars with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock in "The Longest Yard," a remake of his 1974 classic.Burt Reynolds stars with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock in “The Longest Yard,” a remake of his 1974 classic. 

If the 1974 classic feels too old-school, check out the 2005 remake starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock.

Where to watch: Amazon, iTunes, Paramount+, Vudu.

Rudy (1993)

Behold the ultimate underdog saga — a film Roger Ebert described as “a small but powerful illustration of the human spirit.”

Sean Astin portrays Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger Jr., whose steadfast dream is to play football for Notre Dame. Just one problem: Rudy, as someone observes, stands “5-foot-nothing,” weighs “100 and nothing” and has “hardly a speck of athletic ability.”

No matter. Astin tears into the role like a man possessed, and the film hits all the right feel-good notes without wallowing in mush. If you can’t stand up and cheer for Rudy, you probably have a hole in your soul.

Where to watch: Starz, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play.

Any Given Sunday (1999)

Director Oliver Stone, of all people, delivers a raw, turbo-charged, smash-mouth glimpse into the behind-the-scenes turmoil of a struggling pro football team.

And check out this roster of all-stars: Al Pacino, with his usual intensity, plays an aging head coach. Jamie Foxx is a cocky quarterback. LL Cool J is a fame-seeking running back. Cameron Diaz plays the team’s zero-tolerance owner. Also appearing: Dennis Quaid, James Woods, Matthew Modine, Lauren Holly, Ann-Margret and several real-life NFL greats.

The accuracy of “Any Given Sunday” might be up for debate, but there’s no denying it makes for a crazy good time.

Where to watch: Hulu, Peacock, Amazon, iTunes.

Remember the Titans (2000)

Who better to deliver rousing, fire-up-the-team speeches than Denzel Washington? In this moving parable about race relations — based on the true story of Herman Boone — he plays a coach determined to integrate a formerly all-white Virginia high school team in the early 1970s. For his players to succeed on the field, he must coax them to change their mindsets and bond off it.

Denzel Washington, as coach Herman Boone, in a scene from the drama "Remember the Titans." (AP Photo/Tracy Bennett for Walt Disney Pictures.)Denzel Washington, as coach Herman Boone, in a scene from the drama “Remember the Titans.” (AP Photo/Tracy Bennett for Walt Disney Pictures.) 

Denzel clearly has game, and he gets stellar support from a cast that includes Will Patton, along with a young Ryan Gosling, Donald Faison and Ryan Hurst. The film’s soundtrack — with songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and more — is equally impressive.

Where to watch: Disney+, Amazon, iTunes, Vudu.

Draft Day (2014)

Kevin Costner, who shined in baseball films (“Bull Durham,” “Field of Dreams”), embraces another sport in this savvy flick about the pressure-cooker that is the NFL Draft. He plays beleaguered Cleveland Browns general manager Sonny Weaver, who could lose his job if he doesn’t nail his player assessments. Elevating his stress level is a host of personal issues. Meanwhile, a talented prospect (Chadwick Boseman) waits to see if his NFL dreams will come true.

“Draft Day” mainly focuses on backroom wheeling and dealing, so it features minimal on-field action. But the film succeeds in capturing the high-stakes anxiety pegged to decisions that can make or break a team.

Where to watch: Peacock, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play.

Honorable mention: Bay Area prep sports lovers may also want to catch “When the Game Stands Tall” (2014), a true-life film about coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) and De La Salle High School’s record 151-game winning streak.

Television on the 50-yard line Friday Night Lights (2006–2011)

H.G. Bissinger’s captivating book about high school football in Texas was first adapted into a 2004 movie starring Billy Bob Thornton. But it really found its pop cultural groove as a beloved NBC series.

The deeply affecting drama examines the trials and triumphs of the Dillon Panthers through the eyes of coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler), his wife Tami (Connie Britton) and his players, all of whom inhabit a hardscrabble town where football is the object of near-religious fervor.

Appealing to both sports fans and teen-soap devotees, “Friday Night Lights” is blessed with superb writing, exceptional acting and nuanced stories that routinely deliver lump-in-the-throat moments. Watch it with clear eyes and a full heart, and you just can’t lose.

Where to watch: Netflix, Peacock, Hulu, Amazon, iTunes.

All American (2018–present)

Loosely based on the life of former pro football player Spencer Paysinger, this compelling drama series focuses on Spencer James (Daniel Ezra), a gridiron standout from the turbulent Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles who is recruited by a coach (Taye Diggs) to come play in swanky Beverly Hills. Various culture clashes and teen-centric complications ensue.

With a strong cast and scripts that delve into hot-button social issues, “All American” distinguishes itself from TV’s typical fish-out-of-water fare. The series, which eventually follows Spencer into college, became popular enough to spawn a spin-off — “All American: Homecoming.”

Where to watch: The CW, Netflix, Google Play. New season begins Oct. 10 on The CW.

Last Chance U (2016–2020)

It’s all about redemption in this gritty, coming-of-age documentary series. The storylines focus on community college football programs where many players grapple with adverse circumstances (academic woes, family issues, run ins with the law, etc.) that have prevented them from playing major Division 1 football.

Watch them endure plenty of hard knocks — and brutal reality checks — as they strive to rejuvenate their careers under the watchful eyes of demanding mentors dishing out lots of sage advice and tough love.

The final season of “Last Chance U,” considered by some critics to be the show’s best, spotlights Oakland’s Laney College and its legendary coach John Beam.

Where to watch: Netflix.

Categories: Local News

How to Save a Forest by Burning It

N.Y. Times - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 11:54
Prescribed burns are key to reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires. Scientists are using high-tech tools to ensure they can be done safely in a warming world.
Categories: Local News

This is a very different egg salad sandwich

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 11:53

This delectable open-faced sandwich requires a slice of toasted rustic whole-grain bread as a crisp foundation. What is rustic bread? It’s not easy to define. Some might describe it as artisanal without any preservatives. It’s sold unsliced, usually in round or oval shapes. The bread has a crusty exterior and an interior with a chewy texture.

Atop the toast a large leaf of red leaf lettuce cradles a scrumptious egg salad concoction. Instead of mayonnaise, plain fat-free yogurt gives the mix an alluring pop of flavor, adding an edge of creamy tartness. Fresh dill and chives add a welcome herbaceous note.

Open-Faced Egg Salad Sandwiches

Yield: 4 servings


5 large eggs

4 slices rustic whole grain bread, about 3/8-inch thick

1 large garlic clove cut in half lengthwise

2 1/2 tablespoons plain, fat-free yogurt, plus more if needed.

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon minced lemon zest (colored portion of peel)

Red leaf lettuce or green leaf lettuce

Garnish: chopped chives


1. To hard cook the eggs: Put eggs in small saucepan with water to cover by 1 inch. Place on high heat. When water comes to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Allow eggs to sit covered for 12 minutes. Drain and run cold water over eggs. When cool enough to handle, crack and peel in cold water, place in airtight container and refrigerate.

2. Adjust oven rack to 6-inches below broiler element; preheat broiler. Place bread on rimmed baking sheet and place under broiler. Broil until toasted, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes; turn on oven light and watch the progress because bread burns easily. Place each piece of toasted bread on a salad plate; rub top of bread with cut-side of garlic.

3. In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, dill, salt, pepper, and zest; stir to combine. Coarsely chop eggs and add to yogurt mixture; stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed, adding more yogurt if needed for a creamy consistency.

4. Top each toast with a lettuce leaf or two (or more if you like). Top with egg salad. Sprinkle with chopped chives.

Source: “50 Best Plants on the Planet” by Cathy Thomas (Chronicle, $29.95)

Cooking question? Contact Cathy Thomas at

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Categories: Local News

Transgender beneficiaries sue Florida over Medicaid limit

Seattle Times - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 11:50

Until this month, Medicaid paid for August Dekker’s testosterone treatments which allowed the transgender man from Florida’s Gulf Coast to feel like he was living in his own skin.
Categories: Local News

Dolphins’ Mike McDaniel expresses willingness to use star players on kick, punt returns

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 11:46

As the regular-season opener approaches, it’s becoming more apparent that Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel may indeed be willing to use some of his top, most valuable offensive and defensive players in the return game.

“Special teams plays, they account for yards and points and can change the game as much as any offensive and defensive play,” McDaniel said on Wednesday as it remains mysterious who will actually be handling those kick and punt returns in Sunday’s opener against the New England Patriots.

“That being said, the plan is to be very strategic with regard to the flow of the game, how much wind people have, where the ball’s at, the score. But I plan on using — and I know [special teams coach Danny] Crossman feels the same — I plan on using our best players in the best situations for the team.”

The Dolphins currently list star receiver Tyreek Hill as the first-team punt returner and speedy 30-year-old running back Raheem Mostert as the top kick returner on the depth chart. Standout second-year wideout Jaylen Waddle is second at both spots. Safety Jevon Holland is the third punt returner, and running back Chase Edmonds and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene are also listed as kick return options.

At Wednesday’s practice, Hill and Holland were among those seen fielding punts during a brief media viewing portion of practice. Holland muffed one punt that came his way with live punt coverage coming at him.

“Hey, this just in: Every single play, people are trying to tackle you,” McDaniel replied, ahead of Wednesday’s drills, to a question about weighing injury risk for star players. “Why are special teams any different from throwing a screen?”

It appears McDaniel may decide to rotate returners based on what will be required of them elsewhere in the game plan.

“You also have to weigh, on both sides, how they’re being used the upcoming series or the series that we just had, and you have to be mindful of all of that,” he said. “But, if I sat and worried, if I made decisions based upon safety in football, that would be a process where I’m going to fail, I feel like. Every time they’re on the field, it’s a risk. If there’s situations where now maybe there’s a punt team that is very, very, very hard to block and makes a ton of plays in punt coverage, that’s a different story.

“Every single play, every single snap, there’s a huge risk for injury. That’s the nature of the beast.”

McDaniel also reflected on the start of his NFL assistant coaching career when former University of Miami standout Devin Hester took the league by storm with his impact in the return game.

“Devin Hester took over the playoffs and then had all that buildup going into the Super Bowl and made a huge impact on a team’s entire journey,” McDaniel said. “And I don’t think there’s an asterisk that it was special teams, so we’ll be very strategic with that. … We’re fortunate to have some highly skilled players that we’ll use when appropriate and accordingly.”

Waddle sleeve-less

Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle shed the compression sleeve he had been wearing on his right leg for weeks when seen at Wednesday’s practice.

Miami, which will be without starting cornerback Byron Jones for the first four weeks while he’s on the physically-unable-to-perform list, had perfect attendance from the 53-man active roster on Wednesday.

“I mean, he is limited, but my confidence hasn’t changed.” McDaniel said of Waddle after previously saying “very” three times ahead of “confident” last time he spoke about his availability for the opener.

Fullback Alec Ingold and cornerback Nik Needham were seen working out on the side during the early portion of drills.

This story will be updated.


Categories: Local News

California faces another day of grid-straining extreme heat

Seattle Times - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 11:30

Operators of California’s electricity grid say a miscommunication led to a small number of power shutoffs as the power system was under great strain.
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Apple Unveils New iPhone and Smartwatch With a Focus on Fitness

N.Y. Times - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 11:23
For the first time in the pandemic, the company returned to Steve Jobs Theater to release its latest product updates.
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Obamas return to White House for portrait unveiling

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 11:22

By Maegan Vazquez and Kevin Liptak | CNN

Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama are at the White House on Wednesday for the unveiling of their official White House portraits — marking their first joint return since they left in 2017 and the return of a Washington tradition last celebrated 10 years ago.

The pieces, which will hang inside the White House for decades to come, are the first official portraits added to the White House Collection since then-President Obama held an emotional, bipartisan unveiling ceremony for George W. Bush and Laura Bush in 2012.

President Obama’s image was painted by Robert McCurdy and Michelle Obama’s portrait was painted by Sharon Sprung.

McCurdy told the White House Historical Association in an interview that his process focused on working off of a photograph of the former President. The photorealistic image of the former President, dressed in a black suit with a gray tie, is painted against a minimal white backdrop — a signature of McCurdy’s artworks. McCurdy said his paintings take at least a year to complete.

The former first lady’s portrait was painted by Sprung, who describes her work as “contemporary realism.” The image depicts Michelle Obama in a blue dress seated on a sofa in the Red Room of the White House. The artwork was painted from photographs taken in different locations on the White House’s State Floor.

Wednesday’s ceremony in the East Room marks a rare occasion for a celebration among two presidential administrations inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden are convening a who’s who of administration officials past and present — from the unique vantage point of having served in both.

It’s the same room Obama awarded Biden a surprise Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2017, a teary ceremony that reflected the two men’s deep mutual respect. While both like to play up their relationship in public, there are limits to their friendship, officials have said.

When artist Robert McCurdy was taking the high-resolution photograph he would use to paint President Barack Obama’s official portrait, he had some instructions: No smile, no gestures and look directly into the camera.

“We’re not looking for a gestural moment,” McCurdy said in an interview recently with the White House Historical Association, which acquires and funds official portraits of presidents and first ladies. “We’re looking for a more meditative or transcendent moment.”

Years later, those instructions have translated into a strikingly different style of official presidential painting. Unveiled Wednesday in a ceremony in the East Room, the portrait of Obama is a photorealist picture of the former President set against a plain white background.

Wearing a black suit, white shirt and a light gray tie with his hands in his pockets, Obama looks out from the canvas at the viewer with an enigmatic expression. Nothing else disrupts the white background.

After the initial photo was taken from which McCurdy painted, the former President had no say in the final portrait, according to the artist.

“It is part of my process that the sitter doesn’t get to say anything about how the painting looks. They’re completely outside the process,” he said. “He was open to that and accepting of that process, so he never saw the images that we worked from.”

Former first lady Michelle Obama was equally hands off with her final portrait after posing for photographs with her portraitist, New York-based artist Sharon Sprung, in the White House.

“I felt this trust come from her, that you do your thing, I do my thing, I’m going to trust you with your thing, and I think portraiture works better sometimes like that. That she didn’t contribute that much other than present herself,” Sprung told the historical association.

Like her husband’s, Michelle Obama’s portrait is painted in a distinctive style that breaks a mold of the more traditional portraits hung in the White House. Wearing a powder blue off-the-shoulder gown, she sits on a sofa from the White House Red Room, posing against a terra-cotta backdrop. Like the former President, she stares directly out of the frame at the viewer.

The paintings are historic in another way: They capture the first Black president and first lady.

“They do look different. But I also don’t think that it needs to be explained to people. I think people seem to get it,” McCurdy said.

When the Obamas selected artists for earlier portraits hung at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, they selected Black painters who at that point were still emerging into the field.

The painters behind the official White House portraits are both are established artists. McCurdy, whose signature is hyper-photorealistic paintings set against white backdrops, has painted Jeff Bezos, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Jane Goodall, among others.

Sprung has had a long career in figurative painting, including paintings for Congress, and has a connection to past-White House portraits: When she was younger, she developed an artistic relationship with Aaron Shikler, who painted iconic White House portraits of John F. Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan.

“I don’t want it to look like it was done in 2013, or whatever. I want it to look like it was done in this time and place,” Sprung said in a video with the White House Historical Association.

The process of selecting the artists began when the Obamas were still in the White House, including in-person interviews in the Oval Office. Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, sat in on Sprung’s interview with the couple.

Then-President Obama and McCurdy discussed the painting process, including releasing control of the final product to the artist and the connection between viewer and subject that he aims for in each of his paintings.

“I think that directness really appealed to him,” McCurdy said.

When Sprung visited the Oval Office during the Obamas’ time in the White House for a conversation about the portrait, she brought with her some preliminary drawings of the then-first lady to give the couple a sense of her direction.

“He picked a couple that he liked, and she picked a couple that she liked, which were very different in mood. And I found that really fascinating, but it gave me a sense of both of them,” Sprung said.

McCurdy begins his process by taking about 100 photographs of his subject against a white backdrop. After selecting just one to paint from, the rest of the images are destroyed and a 12-18 month process of painting begins.

All Obama had to do, McCurdy said, was hold his mark and not move.

“He did an excellent job of that,” McCurdy said. The former President was “charming” and “very present,” he said.

When Sprung arrived to the White House for a sitting with Michelle Obama, she decided to leave her paints behind — “I didn’t want to leave my mark” — but instead photographed her and chatted as the Obamas’ dogs were barking on the lawn.

“I had them move furniture from the Red Room to the Blue Room because the light was better,” she explained in an interview with the White House Historical Association.

Sprung is shorter than Michelle Obama; her initial plan to paint the first lady standing up — akin to official portraits of Jaqueline Kennedy and Nancy Reagan — ended up shifting when she realized she was looking up at her rather than being at her level.

“I was going to do her standing to give it a certain dignity — but she doesn’t need dignity. She has so much dignity that I decided to do it sitting,” Sprung said.

As McCurdy toiled on his portrait of President Obama, it became a challenge to keep the project under total wraps. He doesn’t work with assistants, but those who helped print the photographs or happened to walk into his studio were sworn to secrecy.

He also didn’t have any additional sittings with the former President. Instead, over the course of the 18-month painting process, the subject became less a person and more a project.

“They become after a year, a year and a half, it becomes more of an object in a way, like a technical issue. I don’t feel like I’m really getting to know them as I work with them on the canvas,” he said.

For Sprung, Michelle Obama’s portrait was the longest she’d ever worked on one painting: Eight months.

“I worked on it day and night. And I said good morning to her, and I said good night to her,” she said. The most difficult detail, Sprung said, was not in her face or hands or any part of her body, but her dress.

McCurdy’s challenge was in creating a moment “where there’s no time,” he said.

“There’s no before, no after. As if that moment would be the same across a long, like a bell ringing just continues to ring. And it’s a way of locking the viewer into the moment,” he said.

Categories: Local News

Painting Michelle Obama Took 9 Months. Keeping it Secret Took 6 Years.

N.Y. Times - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 11:22
Susan Sprung, an instructor at the Art Students League of New York, is a realist painter of the old school.
Categories: Local News

Bay Area startup Choix will sell abortion pills to patients who aren’t pregnant

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 11:18

By Kelsey Butler | Bloomberg

Choix will begin selling abortion pills to people who aren’t pregnant so they can stockpile them for future use, the reproductive health-care startup announced on Wednesday.

The San Francisco Bay Area company will only offer the service, also known as “advanced provision,” in US states where it’s licensed to operate — California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine and New Mexico — all of which currently allow abortion.

“Abortion is so highly stigmatized and politicized that people accessing abortion care, even in states where it is legal, come to us with this additional feeling of anxiety about whether they will be allowed to get an abortion,” said Choix Chief Executive Officer Cindy Adam. “Advanced provision really helps alleviate that stress and puts power back in the hands of the person seeking care.”

Choix sells the two pill cocktail on a sliding scale for anywhere between $175 and $289. To receive the medication, patients have to fill out a questionnaire that scans for allergies or conditions that would make the treatment inadvisable. They then sign consent forms before pills are shipped out along with educational materials, Adam said. When patients ultimately need to use the pills, they can get a telehealth consultation with a Choix medical provider up to 11 weeks of pregnancy. Choix limits each patient to one prescription until the pills have been used or the kit has expired. Mifepristone has a shelf life of about 5 years and misoprostol, the other pill in the regimen, stays fresh for about 2 years. The company’s forms ask patients to confirm the’ll only use it for themselves.

More than half of all abortions in the US are done using pills, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that backs abortion rights. In 2020, the median patient cost for medication abortion was $560. Late last year, the Food and Drug Administration made permanent a pandemic-era rule that allowed mifepristone to be sent via mail. Many states, however, restrict how the pill can be prescribed and distributed. Nineteen states require a physician to be present when pills are administered.

In a December editorial, researchers at the University of California San Francisco argued for more widespread availability of “advanced provision” for the abortion pill in the US. “We see advance provision of medication abortion as an important addition to the menu of options people should have to access early abortion safely,” the researchers wrote.

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In June, Choix, French for “choice,” said it had raised $1 million in venture funding. The startup has provided abortion care to over 5,000 people, Adam said.

The company joins a range of services and nonprofits offering medication abortion by mail. Aid Access, which sends pills to a patient’s home from overseas, started providing advance provision in the US late last year. Meanwhile, Hey Jane, another venture capital-backed telehealth company that mails abortion medication, has raised $3.6 million in seed funding.

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Categories: Local News

Point Reyes ranch inspections find more raw sewage leaks

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 11:09

Inspections at private cattle and dairy ranches in the Point Reyes National Seashore have found more ranches were discharging raw sewage either through leaks or missing septic systems.

Marin County Environmental Health Services and the National Park Service conducted septic system inspections from February through August at all 17 ranches in the seashore and the neighboring Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Seven of the ranches — the B, E, G, J, L, Niman and Zanardi ranches — were found to have a range of violations, including improperly discharging raw sewage into an open cow pasture and manure pond; leaks of varying degrees including one that resulted in sewage pooling under a worker home; missing facilities and faulty pumping systems.

RELAATED: Point Reyes water quality tests find high bacteria levels

“The ranches with identified problems are not all alike with the extent of the problem,” said county environmental health official Gwendolyn Baert. She said not all the ranches experiencing issues were “discharging onto the ground or into their dairy waste ponds.”

Baert said it is unclear how much sewage had leaked or been discharged at these ranches or how long the leaks may have been occurring. The county is working with the ranch operators and park service officials to permit needed repairs.

Greg Pirie, deputy director of the environmental health agency, said no fines or penalties are being assessed by the county and he deferred enforcement questions to the National Park Service.

“Marin County will be inspecting the installation of the septic repairs as they are installed,” Pirie said. “Marin County EHS will work with NPS if they wish to institute an ongoing sanitary survey into the future. There is no set schedule for those future inspections.”

The county was first alerted to the septic issues through citizen complaints concerning the B and L ranches at the start of the year. After the inspections occurred, the park service and county worked to inspect the remaining 15 ranches on the seashore to determine that five more needed “extensive repair or replacement of their septic systems,” Pirie wrote.

Ranch owners are required as part of their lease agreements to maintain their septic systems. The park service is requiring the seven operators to address the problems either by replacing or repairing the septic system, stop the use of any residential or working structure with a failed septic system or to cap and pump septic system tanks temporarily while determining longer-term fixes, according to park official Melanie Gunn.

The inspection results come as the California Coastal Commission prepares to review the park service’s revised strategies on Thursday to improve water quality in the seashore and reduce pollution from ranches. The commission had voted unanimously earlier this year to reject the park’s initial submission, stating it was too vague or lacked clear benchmarks and enforcement actions. The commission staff is recommending approval of the park’s revised strategies.

In its strategy, the park service wrote that it is expected that ranch operators will have 30 days to correct most violations.

“Some larger items identified require multiple reviews and permits leading to implementation,” the park service strategy states. “NPS anticipates that it will continue working with ranchers to ensure all identified issues are addressed and remediated through the remainder of 2022.”

Gunn pointed to the strategy’s summary of enforcement options if a ranch operator continues to fail to address violations. These include restrictions on use, grazing or cattle numbers; issuing fines of $100 per day; or termination of the lease.

Detailed descriptions of violations found at five of the seven ranches were not immediately available on Tuesday. County officials deferred more details to the park service’s notices of violations issued to ranch operators. The Independent Journal has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents.

In the February inspection at the B Ranch, located on the Point Reyes peninsula, county staff found raw sewage from four worker homes was being discharged through two pipes onto a manure pond and cow pasture. Pirie said there was “no evidence of a septic tank or leach field” found for these structures at the time. A broken pipe beneath one of these homes had also resulted in raw sewage pooling up beneath a worker’s home.

B Ranch operator Jarrod Mendoza said since the inspections occurred, he has installed three new tanks and three new leach fields and is working to repair an outdated leach field.

“Everything else for the more major projects, those are all completed,” Mendoza said.

As to why the ranch did not have septic tanks and leach fields prior to the inspections, Mendoza said, “I will have to get back to you on that, I cannot answer that at this time.”

Inspections at the L dairy ranch to the northeast found sewage from a septic tank was being routed to a manure pond. There was no evidence of a leach field, according to the county.

L Ranch operator Jolynn McClelland provided an emailed statement on Thursday.

“We continue to work with the county and Park on what needs to be done,” McClelland wrote.

Bill Niman, operator of the Niman Ranch at the southern end of the park, said the inspection found a minor blockage in his leach field that resulted in a small amount of sewage pooling at the surface. He said the leach field is about 1,100 feet from his house and is in a fenced-off area that he doesn’t frequent.

“It’s been there since 1978,” Niman said. “It needed a little dusting and cleaning.”

Attempts to contact the other ranch owners for comment on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Opponents of continued ranching in the national seashore say the inspections are the latest environmental impacts to be found in a series of incidents, including illegal bulldozing and new water quality tests finding high concentrations of fecal bacteria in park waterways.

“These environmental and regulatory issues just keep mounting at Point Reyes,” said Chance Cutrano, programs director at the Resource Renewal Institute, which opposes continued ranching. “All of them are reinforcing the overwhelming public sentiment that the current conditions out there and business as usual practices are unsustainable.”

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The park service approved a plan last year to extend ranch lease terms from five years to up to 20 years, assuming they are able to meet certain conditions, including improvements to reduce water pollution and environmental impacts. Ranches have existed on the seashore since the mid-19th century and now encompass about 28,000 acres of the 86,000 acres on the seashore and neighboring Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The park service plans to issue temporary two-year leases to the ranch owners this month as it awaits the outcome of a federal lawsuit filed in January to challenge its plan to extend ranching leases.

Anja Raudabaugh, chief executive officer of the Western United Dairies trade organization that represents the park’s five dairies, called the park service’s proposed water quality strategies “a great step in the right direction.”

She said that ranchers have been cautious about overinvesting in improvements to their ranches because of the shorter-term leases.

“Our dairies have really enjoyed their lease arrangement and they stand ready to continue to meet any of these types of mandatory additional changes that are asked,” Raudabaugh said.

Categories: Local News

Judge: Musk can’t delay case, may use Twitter whistleblower

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 11:05

By Matt O’Brien | Associated Press

Elon Musk will be able to include new evidence from a Twitter whistleblower as he fights to get out of his $44 billion deal to buy the social media company, but Musk won’t be able to delay a high-stakes October trial over the dispute, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick, the head judge of Delaware’s Court of Chancery, denied Musk’s request to delay the trial by four weeks. But she allowed the billionaire Tesla CEO to add evidence related to whistleblower allegations by former Twitter security chief Peiter Zatko, who is scheduled to testify to Congress next week about the company’s poor cybersecurity practices.

Twitter has sued Musk, asking the Delaware court to force him to go through with the deal he made in April to buy the company. Musk has countersued and a trial is set to start the week of Oct. 17.

Musk’s legal team has argued that the allegations made by Zatko to U.S. officials may help bolster Musk’s claims that Twitter misled him and the public about the company’s problem with fake and “spam” accounts. Zatko, a well-known cybersecurity expert known by his hacker handle ” Mudge,” said he was fired in January after raising flags about Twitter’s negligence in protecting the security and privacy of its users.

The judge’s ruling followed an hours-long hearing Tuesday at which attorneys for Musk and Twitter argued with each other about the merits of Zatko’s claims and the pace at which both sides are producing evidence ahead of the trial.

Twitter’s attorneys sought to downplay the relevance of Zatko’s allegations to the merger dispute, arguing that an initial 27-page complaint he sent to Twitter and a later retaliation claim made no mention of the “spam bot” issues that Musk has given as a reason to terminate the deal. Zatko “never said a word about spam or bots” until his July whistleblower complaint, said Twitter attorney William Savitt.

Twitter has argued for weeks that Musk’s stated reasons for backing out were just a cover for buyer’s remorse after agreeing to pay 38% above Twitter’s stock price shortly before the stock market stumbled and shares of the electric-car maker Tesla, where most of Musk’s personal wealth resides, lost more than $100 billion of their value.

McCormick, the judge, said Wednesday the newly published whistleblower complaint gave Musk’s team grounds to amend its countersuit but she declined to weigh in on the details.

“I am reticent to say more concerning the merits of the counterclaims at this posture before they have been fully litigated,” she wrote. “The world will have to wait for the post-trial decision.”

McCormick, however, sided with Twitter’s concerns that delaying the trial would make it harder for the company to get back to business.

“I am convinced that even four weeks’ delay would risk further harm to Twitter too great to justify,” she wrote.

In afternoon trading, Twitter shares added 5.5% to $40.77.

Categories: Local News

New York drops mask requirement on public transportation

Seattle Times - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 11:03

New York state is dropping its mask requirement on public transportation thanks in part to the availability of new booster shots targeting the most common strain of COVID-19.
Categories: Local News

Has Olivia Wilde’s romance with Harry Styles hurt her credibility?

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 10:59

Olivia Wilde isn’t the first Hollywood director to start a romance with the star of their new film, but she’s a woman in a still male-dominated industry, and her new boyfriend, Harry Styles, the male lead of her sophomore project, “Don’t Worry Darling,” is one of the most desirable pop stars in the world.

As had been widely reported, Wilde’s movie has been plagued by off-screen drama involving Wilde’s ex-fiancé, Jason Sudeikis, her leading lady, Florence Pugh, and troubled actor Shia LaBeouf. As if the PR struggles for Wilde couldn’t get worse, all hell broke loose at “Don’t Worry Darling’s” gala premiere at the Venice Film Festival, with Styles’ and Chris Pine’s “#SpitGate,” among other mini-scandals.

A film industry insider told Page Six that Wilde’s fledging director’s career could be hurt by “credibility problems going forward.” Another industry expert, Matthew Belloni, from the newsletter The Puck, also lamented that Wilde, an exciting new filmmaker, “had suddenly turned the press for her own movie into a snakepit of tabloid headlines and social media bile.”

Belloni and others question whether all these headlines are necessarily Wilde’s fault, and whether sexism is at the root of some of them.

“Wilde is being attacked online, pitted against other women, criticized for dating the super popular star of her own movie, and altogether held to a different standard than her male peers, many of whom did all the same things she’s done, right?” Belloni wrote.

VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 05: (L-R) Olivia Wilde, Chris Pine, Harry Styles, Gemma Chan and Florence Pugh attend the Campari Passion For Film 2022 Award during the 79th Venice International Film Festival on August 31, 2022 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)VENICE, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 05: (L-R) Olivia Wilde, Chris Pine, Harry Styles, Gemma Chan and Florence Pugh attend the Campari Passion For Film 2022 Award during the 79th Venice International Film Festival on August 31, 2022 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images) 

Over at The Ankler, editorial director Richard Rushfield offered a partial list of all the male director/leading lady relationships, many of which began while the director was married. The list includes James Cameron and Linda Hamilton, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, Peter Bogdanovich and Cybill Shepherd, Joel Coen and Frances McDormand, and Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet.

“Shall I go on?” Rushfield asked, while similarly noting that Wilde stood out “as one of the brightest lights” in a new era where Hollywood is wanting to embrace, promote and fund the projects of up-and-coming female directors.

After Wilde’s “very solid, engaging debut” with the 2019 coming-of-age comedy, “Booksmart,” great things were expected, Rushfield wrote. “The bidding war for ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ was about as hot as the market for a small dramatic film could get in this day and age.”

Now “Don’t Worry Darling” is being treated “like a tabloid laughing stock,” Rushfield said, and the film’s prospects, along with Wilde’s reputation, may not be helped by its less-than-positive reviews coming out of Venice.

Critics mostly praised the film’s stylish look and Pugh’s performance, but Wilde’s take on the “trouble-in-paradise thriller,” with her “feints at subversion,” resulted “in a disappointingly heavy thud of a movie,” the Los Angeles Times’ Justin Chang said. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw called “Don’t Worry Darling” a “hammily acted, laborious and derivative mystery chiller.”

If the reviews were good, “Don’t Worry Darling” might have a chance to get people to focus away from the off-screen drama, which reportedly started when Wilde began a relationship with Styles during production. This affair may or may not have been a factor in Wilde’s breakup from Sudeikis, the father of her two children. Belloni also reported that Wilde’s focus on her new boyfriend bothered Pugh, while others on set said the romance also “annoyed” others because the couple weren’t always available on set when they needed to be.

Pugh refused to do any more press for “Don’t Worry Darling” than necessary, reports said. At the premiere, the actor, resplendent in sparkling Valentino gown, appeared to avoid eye contact with Wilde and made sure to sit several seats away from Wilde and Styles, the Hollywood Reporter said.

The internet also was abuzz with another distraction from the premiere: A video that seemed to show Styles spit in Pine’s hand. “#SpitGate” became such a trending topic that Pine’s representative was forced to issue a statement, vehemently denying that the actor was spat upon.

#HarryStyles appears to spit on Chris Pine i won't sleep until i know the truth

— JZMaclin (@Mac70J) September 6, 2022

Rushfield asked whether the original sin of “Don’t Worry Darling,” Wilde’s romance with Styles, would have even been reported by entertainment outlets if it involved a male director who “was having a somewhat messy divorce” and “a relationship with an actress on his film.” He also argued that trade publications would never have flown a reporter to a film festival “to badger Harrison Ford with questions about whether he was annoyed that Spielberg was paying more attention to Capshaw than to him.”

Rushfield was referring to Monday’s awkward press conference in Venice, at which Wilde shut down questions about the off-screen drama by calling it “noise” and saying “The internet feeds itself. I don’t feel I need to contribute to it.”

Belloni and the insider who spoke to Page Six indicated that the troubles surrounding “Don’t Worry Darling” are not just the result of sexism or Wilde falling in love with Styles. Wilde also is guilty of some “unforced errors” as director, including her “bizarre” interview with Variety, Belloni said.

Among other things, Wilde disparaged Sudeikis to Variety, saying there’s “a reason” she left the relationship. She accused the “Ted Lasso” star of trying to undermine her film by having her publicly served with child custody documents when she was onstage at CinemaCon in April.

Wilde furthermore erred in the way she talked about LaBeouf leaving “Don’t Worry Darling,” to be replaced by Styles as the male lead, Belloni said. She didn’t use the word fired, but said she replaced him to to “protect the cast” from his “combative energy.”

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Wilde’s remarks about LaBeouf prompted the often unpredictable actor to defend himself in a way that prompted more viral headlines. LaBeouf, seeking to redeem his reputation following arrests and domestic violence allegations made by his ex-girlfriend, FKA Twigs, shared an email which indicated that he and Wilde mutually agreed to part ways because he and the other actors couldn’t get time to rehearse.

LaBeouf also shared a video online, which has potentially hurt Wilde’s efforts to position herself as a crusading feminist filmmaker. It showed the director beg the actor to return to the project and patronizingly refer to Pugh as “Miss Flo.” Wilde suggested that Pugh may be the one in need of an attitude adjustment by saying this “might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo.”


(the video olivia sent shia where she basically begged him to stay on the movie after ADMITTING that she knows shia makes florence uncomfortable)

— percy 🌊 || who the fuck is gonna stop us? (@percystardust) August 26, 2022

Belloni said it’s an unwritten rule in Hollywood that directors should never talk badly about “the talent.” She also should have known that her comments about Sudeikis or LaBeouf would be a distraction or even backfire and draw attention to the “tabloid stuff she’s supposedly been trying to avoid.”

“The whole point of press interviews — especially when you’re a director looking to be taken seriously — is to promote the work,” Belloni said.

Regarding Wilde’s relationship with Styles and some of her other recent choices, the Page Six insider summed up the professional challenges that lay ahead for the director:

“Having your lead actress not doing press, your former lead-actor exposing you for not telling the truth about him, and (you) entering into a relationship with your replacement lead actor: It all adds up to a trifecta for having credibility problems going forward.”

Categories: Local News

Official Obama Portraits Are Finally Being Unveiled at the White House

N.Y. Times - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 10:57
In a break with tradition, there was no ceremony while former President Donald J. Trump held office. President Biden unveiled the Obama portraits: his by Robert McCurdy, hers by Sharon Sprung.
Categories: Local News

Apple Unveils Smartwatch With a Focus on Fitness

N.Y. Times - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 10:53
For the first time in the pandemic, the company returned to Steve Jobs Theater to release its latest product updates.
Categories: Local News

Michael Flynn: From government insider to holy warrior

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 10:51

By Michelle R. Smith | Associated Press

BATAVIA, N.Y. — The crowd swayed on its feet, arms pumping, the beat of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” thumping in their chests. The people under the revival tent hooted as Michael Flynn strode across the stage, bopping and laughing, singing the refrain into his microphone and encouraging the audience to sing along to the transgressive rock anthem.

“We’ll fight the powers that be just/Don’t pick our destiny ’cause/You don’t know us, you don’t belong!”

The emcee introduced him as “America’s General,” but to those in the audience, Flynn is far more than that: martyr, hero, leader, patriot, warrior.

The retired lieutenant general, former national security adviser, onetime anti-terrorism fighter, is now focused on his next task: building a movement centered on Christian nationalist ideas, where Christianity is at the center of American life and institutions.

Flynn brought his fight — a struggle he calls both spiritual and political — last month to a church in Batavia, New York, where thousands of people paid anywhere from a few dollars to up to $500 to hear and absorb his message that the United States is facing an existential threat, and that to save the nation, his supporters must act.

Flynn, 63, has used public appearances to energize voters, along with political endorsements to build alliances and a network of nonprofit groups — one of which has projected spending $50 million — to advance the movement, an investigation by The Associated Press and the PBS series “Frontline” has found. He has drawn together election deniers, mask and vaccine opponents, insurrectionists, Proud Boys, and elected officials and leaders in state and local Republican parties. Along the way, the AP and “Frontline” documented, Flynn and his companies have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars for his efforts.

This story is part of an ongoing investigation from The Associated Press and “Frontline” that includes the upcoming documentary “Michael Flynn’s Holy War,” premiering Oct. 18 on PBS and online.

The AP and “Frontline” spoke with more than 60 people, including Flynn’s family, friends, opponents, and current and former colleagues, for this story. The news organizations also reviewed campaign finance records, corporate and charity filings, social media posts and similar open-source information, and attended several public events where Flynn appeared. Reporters examined dozens of Flynn’s speeches, interviews and public appearances. Flynn himself sat down for a rare on-camera interview with what he calls the mainstream media.

“I don’t even know why I’m talking to you, honestly,” Flynn said as the interview got underway.

Throughout 2021 and 2022, Flynn made more than 60 in-person speeches in 24 states, according to a count by the AP and “Frontline.” When he speaks, the former top adviser to then-President Donald Trump spreads baseless conspiracy theories, stoking fear and fueling anger and division and grievance.

Flynn is “one of the most dangerous individuals in America today,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian and expert on authoritarianism and fascism who wrote the book “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present.”

“He is spearheading the attack on our democracy, which is coming from many quarters, and he is affiliated with many of these sectors, from the military to Christian nationalism to election denial to extremist groups,” she said. “All of this comes together to present a very live threat. And he’s at the center.”

Flynn has, with mixed success, supported like-minded candidates around the country, and has said his immediate goal is to influence this year’s elections. In Sarasota, Florida, where he lives, he has worked in concert with members of the extremist group the Proud Boys to influence local politics. Their favored candidates in August won control of the county school board.

“Local action has a national impact” is his mantra.

“We need to take this country back one town at a time, one county at a time, one state at a time, if that’s what it takes,” he told a crowd in Salt Lake City.


Flynn’s advocacy of falsehoods and conspiracy theories hardly makes him unique in a fact-challenged America, but his pedigree, military career and high-powered Washington contacts set him apart. He’s a retired three-star general who less than two decades ago developed wartime strategies for countering insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His selection as Trump’s first national security adviser made him the ultimate insider, giving him nominal control — if only for a matter of weeks — of the administration’s national security strategy. When he later found himself in legal trouble on suspicion that he had lied to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States, he cooperated with the same government establishment he now crusades against.

In the weeks after the November 2020 presidential election, Flynn picked up a presidential pardon — granted to forgive his guilty plea to lying to the FBI. He immediately became a chief promoter of the “Stop the Steal” effort and championed bogus claims about foreign interference and ballot tampering that weren’t supported by credible evidence. But for some voters, Flynn’s status as a retired general and top intelligence officer gave weight to the empty theories.

He falsely said Trump won, called the election outcome part of “a coup in progress,” suggested Trump should seize voting machines and said Trump could order up the military in some states and rerun the election. In December 2020 he even made his way into the Oval Office to push his ideas directly to Trump.

Called before a congressional committee investigating the Capitol insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, Flynn refused to say whether he believed the violence was justified or even whether he believed in the peaceful transition of power. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

Retired Brig. Gen. Steven M. Anderson, who served with Flynn in Iraq, called Flynn’s ideas antithetical to core values of the American military and the nation itself.

Anderson worries that Flynn is “a role model for thousands and thousands and thousands of soldiers and former soldiers,” and that his ideas can empower them to take actions that hurt the country.

“We’ve got a retired three-star, former NSA, who says we can overthrow the election, use our military,” Anderson said. The thinking goes, he said, “Well, then yes, sign me up for the Proud Boys.”

Flynn uses the three stars he earned in the military as his symbol, a shorthand that reminds people he came from the highest levels of the nation’s power structure — and that suggests he has a special knowledge of how things work in the shadowy world of Washington and global affairs.

“It’s a crying shame that essentially he has evolved into the person he is now,” said Anderson, who described his former colleague as a “subservient buffoon that unfortunately has forsaken his oath of office.”

Doug Wise, a former CIA and military officer who knew Flynn for decades and briefly served as Flynn’s deputy at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said even in the military, Flynn often pushed the envelope of what was permissible and demonstrated “extreme thinking.” He believes Flynn hasn’t transformed, he’s just become more comfortable acting on the anger that burns inside him.

“I understand the reasons why he gravitated to the right wing because as his behavior and beliefs became more bizarre, I think they were very welcoming. Because who wouldn’t want a highly respected Army three-star to join your group?” Wise said.

“I think he believed, post-government, and he was right in this … that he was too well-connected to fail,” Wise said. “And he got pardoned.”

Flynn sees conspiracies in just about every corner of American life.

He’s repeated falsehoods about Black Lives Matter and said that so-called globalists created COVID-19. He tells the tens of thousands of people who have paid to see him speak that there are 75 members of the Socialist Party in Congress, and has said the left and Democrats are trying to destroy the country. He asserts, above all else, that the United States was founded on Judeo-Christian values. The bedrock, he warns, is crumbling.

The country, Flynn often says in speeches and interviews, is in the midst of a “spiritual war,” and he goes after many of the institutions and ideas that stand as pillars of American democracy.

He has told audiences he doesn’t trust the U.S. government or government institutions that oversee the rule of law. He called the media “the No. 1 enemy” and said it has done a “horrible, horrible disservice to the country by just constantly lying and trying to deceive us.” He says elementary schools are teaching “filth” and “pornography.” He continues to assert, ignoring all evidence to the contrary, that elections can’t be trusted. He says, over and over, that some of his fellow Americans are “evil.”

“They dress like us and they talk like us, but they don’t think and act like us,” he told a podcaster recently. “And they definitely do not want what it is that we want.”


Survey data shows many Americans believe what Flynn says — that the 2020 election was stolen — and have bought into COVID-19 misinformation and other conspiracy theories that he spreads, said Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a professor of history at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who studies the evangelical movement.

“Any of these factors alone could be considered dangerous. But all of them together and the distrust it is sowing in our democracy,” Du Mez said. “I think it’s extremely dangerous in this moment.”

She points to Flynn’s role as headliner of a multicity roadshow known as the ReAwaken America tour, an event that is a potent mix of politics, religion and commerce that has become a prime example of the Christian nationalist movement.

Flynn helped found the tour in 2021 with Clay Clark, an entrepreneur from Oklahoma who had been running business conferences before the pandemic. In his interview with the AP and “Frontline” in February, Flynn said he considered himself a “senior leader” of the team that’s running it.

The thread of Christian nationalism runs through many of Flynn’s events. At one fundraiser, a preacher prayed over him saying that America would stay a Christian nation and that Flynn was “heavy armaments” in the Lord’s quiver. At the Christian Patriot’s Rally at a church in Northern California, Flynn was presented with an assault-style rifle on stage. In Virginia in July, he said pastors “need to be talking about the Constitution from the pulpit as much as the Bible.” In Texas last November, Flynn told a crowd “this is a moment in time where this is good versus evil.”

“If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion. One nation under God, and one religion under God, right?” he said.

Christian nationalism seeks to merge the identity of Christians and Americans, so that to be a “true” American is to be Christian — and a certain type of Christian. The ideology pushes the idea that the United States was founded on biblical principles and has a favored relationship with a Christian God, said Samuel Perry, a sociologist at the University of Oklahoma who studies conservative Christianity and politics.

It is distinct from the practice of Christianity, and Perry’s research has found that many Americans who are inclined toward Christian nationalism don’t go to church.

“This has nothing to do with Christian orthodoxy. It has nothing to do with loving Jesus or wanting to be a good disciple or loving your neighbor or self-sacrifice or anything like that,” Perry said. “It has everything to do with Christian ethno-culture and specifically white Christian ethno-culture.”

Flynn casts himself as a victim of “the deep state” who paid a steep price for supporting Trump. Besides Trump, his supporters say, no one has been persecuted more than Flynn.

Flynn’s rhetoric — us versus them, good versus evil, the idea that God is on “our” side — has been a staple among conservative Christians for decades, and is mainstream in conservative evangelicalism, Du Mez said.

The thinking, she said, can fuel violence.

“They’re out to get us. Therefore, we need to strike first. And the threat is always dire,” Du Mez says the thinking goes. “And if the threat is dire, then the ends justify the means.”
“These values are not unconnected from the violence that we saw on Jan. 6,” she added.

(When the AP and “Frontline” asked Flynn in February if he is ascribes to Christian nationalist views, he dodged. He first asked what the term meant, then said he was “an Irish Catholic” then a “follower of Jesus,” before criticizing the reporter: “That was a stupid question to ask me,” he said, “because that means that you really have not studied Mike Flynn.”)

Last October, Flynn was the star attraction at the WeCANAct Liberty Conference, a gathering in Salt Lake City for Utah’s Platform Republicans PAC.

The program included dozens of speakers and exhibitors talking about a grab bag of ideas and causes that have seized and panicked the right — about vaccines, human trafficking, elections and the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Among the sponsors and exhibitors were the John Birch Society; businesses selling everything from texting services for political campaigns to food dehydrators; Ammon Bundy’s anti-government People’s Rights group; and America’s Frontline Doctors, which has spread false information about COVID-19 and promoted unproven treatments such as ivermectin, a drug used to treat parasitic infections. State lawmakers from Arizona and Utah spoke, and members of the Utah Republican Party’s governing committee were among the organizers.

The program kicked off with an invocation by a preacher who brought the crowd to its feet as he described a “prophecy” of a “Great Awakening” where “Americans are going to rise up and defeat the cabal.”

“We are in a spiritual war, and you can’t win a war without attacking,” he said.

The preacher ended by leading the crowd in what he called a “new version of the Lord’s Prayer that fits the Great Awakening.” The crowd repeated after him as he said: “Deliver us from the cabal, and from Satan’s influence. For yours is the kingdom, and the power and the glory. Forever and ever and ever. Amen.”

Flynn appeared a few times throughout the day, at one point sitting in the audience. Across the Salt Palace Convention Center, people jostled their seatmates to point him out and craned their necks to see him.

That evening, he gave a meandering speech that he referred to as “an ass-chewing from a general.” He falsely declared once again that Trump had won the 2020 election, said “our government is corrupt,” and called for the FBI to be abolished, a surprising applause line in October 2021 that has now being taken up more broadly by some Republicans.

He called the left “our enemies” and said they are “godless” and “soulless.”

One of Flynn’s companies, Resilient Patriot LLC, was paid $58,000 by the conference. An AP and “Frontline” review of state and federal campaign finance filings documented nearly $300,000 in payments to Flynn and his businesses from candidates and political action committees since 2021, for things such as speaking fees, travel, book sales and campaign consulting. (Florida congressional candidate Laura Loomer reported paying his company $1,100 in May for public relations services.)

After Flynn’s keynote concluded, a podcaster helping to wrap things up for the evening came onstage and called him “one of the new founding fathers of this republic.”


As Flynn speaks and stumps to persuade people to join his movement, he has also been busy building a network of political candidates at the federal, state and local levels.

The AP and “Frontline” found that Flynn has endorsed 99 candidates for the 2022 election cycle. (He subsequently withdrew a handful.)

The country’s most influential Republican is paying attention. Flynn’s brother Joseph told an interviewer in May that during a visit the Flynns made to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate this spring, Trump himself produced a list comparing the success of his endorsed candidates with Flynn’s.

At least 80% of Flynn’s chosen candidates have publicly spread lies or sown doubt about Trump’s 2020 loss to Democrat Joe Biden, or even participated in efforts to overthrow the election, the AP and “Frontline” found. Several have suggested they would use their power if elected to change the way elections are run and how people are allowed to cast their vote.

About two dozen were at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 5-6, 2021.

One-third have served in the military.

At least 38 have used Christian nationalist rhetoric. Keith Self, a congressional candidate in Texas, has said he’s running for Congress ” to defend the Judeo-Christian foundations of this nation.” Christine Villaverde, a congressional candidate in North Carolina, has vowed to fight to keep America “a Christian nation.” Anthony Sabatini, a Florida state lawmaker who just lost a bid for Congress, recently posted on Facebook, “Only when Christians stand up & get loud, will we take this country back.”

Flynn’s support can be a sought-after prize. An AP and “Frontline” analysis of Facebook and Instagram ad data found ads from more than 20 candidates promoting their endorsements. Jackson Lahmeyer, an Oklahoma pastor who was defeated in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate by Sen. James Lankford, mentioned Flynn in 48 Facebook and Instagram ads, more than one-quarter of his total buy on the platforms.

Pastor Leon Benjamin, a Republican candidate for Congress in Virginia who denounced homosexuality and called gay marriages illegal in an August speech, said in an interview that Flynn’s endorsement represents “that affirmation and that understanding that we’ve got to have the right candidates in, and it’s not always popular, not always goes along with the grain.”

“If we keep doing the same things over and over again, that’s the definition of insanity,” he added. “So we got to do some different things to get different results.”

More than 40 of Flynn’s endorsements were for candidates seeking state or even local posts, the AP and “Frontline” found. Flynn endorsed two school board contenders in Camdenton, Missouri, candidates for sheriff in Florida, Nevada and Illinois and a city council candidate in North Carolina. He endorsed candidates for the state legislature in Michigan, Ohio, Arizona, Florida, Texas and Missouri. In Arizona, Michigan, California and Colorado, he gave his approval to candidates for secretary of state, a position that typically involves the administration of elections.

A dozen gubernatorial candidates won Flynn’s backing, including Pennsylvania’s Republican nominee, Doug Mastriano, a state lawmaker whom Flynn introduced at his campaign launch. Mastriano, a retired U.S. Army colonel, floated a plan to undo Biden’s victory in his state, organized buses to the U.S. Capitol for Jan. 6 and was filmed walking past barricades and police lines that day. Mastriano has denied breaking the law and has not been charged with any crimes. Another Flynn endorsee, Dan Cox, who also organized buses for Jan. 6, won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Maryland.

Still, Flynn’s endorsement doesn’t guarantee a win. Josh Mandel, the Ohio U.S. Senate candidate, was defeated by JD Vance, who got a late endorsement from Trump. Some Flynn-backed candidates, including gubernatorial candidate Joey Gilbert in Nevada and Colorado secretary of state candidate Tina Peters, made baseless claims of election fraud after they lost.

Flynn and his allies have suggested he wants to get back into government, and the growing influence that flows from the network he’s building may help him get there, said Ron Filipkowski, a lawyer in Sarasota and longtime Republican activist who now tracks Flynn and other far-right figures online.

“He’s going to build this grassroots movement, local elected officials beholden to him, loyal to him,” Filipkowski said.


Flynn has expanded his influence further through well-financed groups that advocate, among other things, changes to the way elections are run, based on the false premise that there is widespread voting fraud.

Flynn and Patrick Byrne, founder of, last year launched The America Project, with Flynn’s brother Joseph as president. The group said it planned to spend $50 million in the 2021 budget year, according to a filing with North Carolina charity regulators. But Joseph Flynn and Byrne separately told AP that it had spent tens of millions less, though each gave different totals.

While Flynn himself is not listed among its officers, he is the face of the group, and it’s described as “General Flynn and Patrick Byrne’s America Project.” Byrne says Flynn is his closest adviser, telling the AP and “Frontline” that Flynn is his “Yoda” and “rabbi.”

In April 2021, Flynn was named chairman of America’s Future, one of the country’s oldest conservative nonprofit groups. The organization was founded in 1946 and was previously led by ultra-conservative stalwarts, including Phyllis Schlafly and retired Maj. Gen. John Singlaub. Since Flynn took over, the group hired his sister, Mary O’Neill, as executive director and appointed Joseph Flynn to its board of directors. The group had about $3 million in assets at the end of 2020, its most recent IRS filings show. Flynn told the AP and “Frontline” in February that he had raised an estimated $1.7 million for America’s Future since becoming chairman.

The two groups worked in close coordination last year, together donating more than $4.2 million for a widely criticized and misinformation-driven review of the 2020 presidential election results commissioned by Arizona Republicans.

The America Project has given about $5 million to “grassroots organizations” around the country, Joseph Flynn said in a July appearance on an online show.

Many of the groups they support back what they call “election integrity,” a term often used by election deniers to justify making it more difficult to vote based on the falsehood that American elections are corrupt.

Campaign finance records show The America Project has given more than $150,000 to Conservatives for Election Integrity, a group that has supported several secretary of state candidates who have worked to undermine trust in 2020 election results.

The America Project gave $100,000 to a Colorado group, Citizens for Election Integrity, which used it for ads and text messages attacking a Republican candidate for secretary of state who ran against Flynn’s endorsed candidate. In Michigan, The America Project gave $100,000 in May to Secure MI Vote, which has reportedly pushed to roll back voter access.

In Georgia, they just announced they’re backing an effort to challenge voter registrations for tens of thousands of people.

Joseph Flynn said during a speech in May that The America Project also funded and advised many of what he termed “audits” of elections around the country, including in Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin, though he did not give specifics.

In February, Flynn stood in a burger joint in Orlando, Florida, to announce The America Project’s most public initiative, “Operation Eagles Wings,” the goal of which is to mobilize and train poll watchers and precinct captains, and to drive get-out-the-vote efforts.

“I think every single person in this country, every American citizen, now has to pay attention to politics. You know, when people go, ‘I don’t get involved. I don’t do that political stuff. That’s for the politicians.’ Well, that’s exactly why we are here. OK?” Flynn told the AP and “Frontline” during a contentious interview. “So, it’s something else that you won’t write or speak about or it’ll be edited out.”

As part of Operation Eagles Wings, The America Project has created affiliate groups in at least nine states. Its Florida affiliate said in a Facebook post last month it’s seeking “America First Poll Watchers” and will train organizations for free. State affiliates in Illinois and Virginia advertised trainings in July and August on grassroots social activism, poll watching and how to get out the vote. The promotions also promise to teach attendees to “expose weaknesses,” “monitor and evaluate absentee voting” and conduct “investigative canvassing.”

The initiative has raised alarm bells with pro-democracy advocates.

“If people who tried to overturn the 2020 election, or who are fueled by election conspiracies, are trying to recruit their followers or allies to be election workers or volunteers as part of an election denial agenda, that poses real risks to fair and free elections,” said Jacek Pruski, of the nonpartisan group Protect Democracy.


With his speeches, endorsements and outreach groups, Flynn has built a legion of acolytes who are listening closely to what he says and are ready to take action. They include Karen Ballash, 69, vice chair of the Summit County Republican Party in Utah, who heard Flynn speak in Salt Lake City.

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“I totally believe in his message. We have to be the ones who make the change,” she said. “If we don’t do it, we won’t have a country.”

They include neophytes like Delainna Prettyman, who said she’s just become politically engaged in the past year. “That sent me deep down a rabbit hole. I don’t watch any news, any TV, anything. And I do a ton of research,” said Prettyman, who lives in the Salt Lake City suburbs.

She came to love Flynn, and believed “everything he says.”

“He’s got a lot of intel and insight about everything that’s going on. Of course, he can’t say everything,” she said. “We need more people like General Flynn.”

Under the tent in Batavia, the crowd thrilled to Flynn’s pronouncements from the stage. The general they claim as their own confirmed their feeling that the U.S. is changing, and not for the better. He validated the belief that the community they have built together is under attack.

They know many people — some of their very own friends and loved ones, and even Biden — say they are a destructive force. But inside the tent, Flynn assured them, they have found their tribe and they are in the right.

“We’re not alone in this is what I’m telling you. OK? We’re not alone in what it is that we are doing,” Flynn said. “We’re not alone. I want you to know that.”

Associated Press writers Richard Lardner, Eric Tucker, Helen Wieffering, and Aaron Kessler, photographer Carolyn Kaster, and “Frontline” producers Richard Rowley and Paul Abowd contributed to this report.

Categories: Local News

Tesla’s ‘full self-driving’ isn’t worth $15,000, say many who bought it

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 10:51
By Matt McFarland | CNN Business

Tesla’s price for the feature it calls “full self-driving” has increased again. This time to $15,000, making it an unusually expensive option for a car.

“After wide release of FSD Beta 10.69.2, price of FSD will rise to $15k in North America on September 5,” Musk tweeted last month.

The release of the new software version was delayed on Monday until “probably end of week. Needs a bit more polish,” Musk said, but the price increase took effect.

Some Tesla owners who paid far less for an earlier, unfinished version of the same “full self-driving” software that now retails for $15,000 caution that the new price does not make sense for most buyers.

CNN Business spoke with 13 people who have cars with the “full self-driving” beta and the overwhelming majority, 11 people, said they felt it wasn’t worth $15,000. These drivers say the software has improved, but not enough to warrant the price. They describe at times having to pay more attention while using “full self-driving” than when driving on their own, as the car can be unpredictable. More than 100,000 Tesla vehicles have been sold with the feature.

Tesla buyers can purchase “full self-driving” outright when they buy their car, or they may opt to pay a monthly subscription fee to use the feature. Many of the Tesla drivers who spoke with CNN Business suggested that, were they in the market today for a Tesla, they would opt for the monthly subscription fee for “full self-driving,” which still costs $199 a month or purchase for the more affordable Enhanced Autopilot, which combines features like automated parking and automated lane changes on highways, but isn’t so clearly an unfinished, imperfect product.

Three people told CNN Business that they feel that “full self-driving” is worth the high price to them because they personally relish testing new technologies and are excited about the promise of what “full self-driving” might eventually become.

“I really admire the optimism of all these people,” Brian Moody, executive editor of the online car marketplace, said of those who believe “full self-driving” may soon handle all driving responsibilities despite years of delays. “I wish I could be that way.”

Moody told CNN Business that “full self-driving” is especially expensive compared to other available driver-assist packages like GM’s SuperCruise and Nissan ProPilot Assist. SuperCruise generally costs about $2,500 — plus a monthly $25 connectivity fee after the third year — and ProPilot Assist can be under $2,000 in some cases.

The promised functionality of these driver-assist packages is more modest. While they steer and keep up with traffic on some highways, Musk says that “full self-driving” will someday allow Tesla owners to operate their vehicles as robotaxis that do not need a human behind the wheel.

It’s not unheard of for options to reach the $10,000 threshold, but such high-priced options typically include a range of add-ons like an adaptive suspension, engine upgrade and adaptive headlights, he said.

Moody said he expects consumers to pay for the monthly subscription of “full self-driving” rather than pay $15,000 for the promise of the feature’s future potential.

Taking the full plunge

Four years ago, Wisam Al-Rawi bought a Tesla equipped with the driver-assist software the company calls “full self-driving.” He says he was happy to pay a $2,500 premium for “full self-driving” in anticipation that his Tesla would one day drive itself. But last month Al-Rawi, frustrated by the software’s flaws, had enough. He asked Tesla to remove it.

Now the California resident is surprised to see that Tesla is raising the price of “full self-driving” to $15,000 even as it falls short of the automaker’s projections.

“I would never even pay $10,000 for it,” Al-Rawi told CNN Business. “They overpromised like crazy.”

But Tesla feels that the feature, which the company says remains in testing (or “beta”) despite its wide release, will be worth much more than even the price it’s selling for now.

“The FSD price will continue to rise as the software gets closer to full self-driving capability with regulatory approval,” Musk wrote on Twitter in 2020. “[At] that point, the value of FSD is probably somewhere in excess of $100,000.”

But “full self-driving” wasn’t close to what Al-Rawi heard from Musk, who has claimed every year from 2015 to 2022 that self-driving Teslas were probably a year or two away.

Al-Rawi said it was stressful to use the “full self-driving” beta because the software would sometimes try to hit curbs or drive on the wrong side of the road. His car would brake unexpectedly at times, triggering road rage from others.

“He promised your car can be a taxi. This is going to be generating income,” Al-Rawi said. “Unfortunately, none of this happened.”

Al-Rawi still believes that Tesla’s driver-assist features are better than any other automaker. He calls the automaker’s lane-keeping feature “fantastic.” The “full self-driving” feature, which navigates local roads with steering, braking and acceleration, is where Al-Rawi had problems.

Al-Rawi is far from the only one to be concerned about Teslas and unexpected braking. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which regulates motor vehicles, launched an investigation in February following hundreds of complaints of unexpected braking.

But the limitations of “full self-driving” haven’t led many Tesla owners to regret their purchase.

“There’s nothing in FSD that’s actually that useful, certainly not for this kind of money,” Logan Rossignol, a Tesla “full self-driving” beta tester, told CNN Business. “You’re still paying for a promise. And what’s that’s worth to you is up to you.”

Rossignol feels the investment was worth it for him because he is a software developer and enjoys experimenting with technology. “Full self-driving” changes regularly due to over-the-air software updates. Drivers wake up some mornings with a new version of the technology to test and play with.

Sunny Gulati, who said he paid $8,000 for “full self-driving,” says he feels an “inherent joy” from watching his Tesla try to navigate roads. He said he no longer envies other cars on the road. The system doesn’t have to be perfect for him to love it.

He justified the purchase of “full self-driving” in part because he thought it could one day make having a second car unnecessary. Gulati said that he wouldn’t have been able to afford $15,000 for “full self-driving,” and would opt for the monthly subscription fee if purchasing today.

Staying mobile

Don Burke bought his Model S in 2019 because he wanted a vehicle that might one day drive itself.

The Virginia resident said he has a form of muscular dystrophy. His legs are weakening. He will be in a wheelchair in a few years.

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Burke spoke with CNN Business during a multi-month road trip around the United States.

He’s driving as much as 600 miles a day and says that Tesla’s driver-assist technology makes him a much safer driver. He said he feels humans are terrible drivers, pointing to the many deaths on roads today, and believes machines will be better.

Burke said that if he was in the market again for a Tesla, the $15,000 price for “full self-driving” would be worth it to him.

“I love being able to be mobile,” Burke said. “I desperately want a machine that I can own that can drive me to where I need to be when I get in a wheelchair.”

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Categories: Local News

San Jose: High school referee charged with sexually assaulting student

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 10:48

SAN JOSE — A high school referee has been criminally charged with having sex with an underage Independence High School student earlier this year, when he was visiting the campus to officiate boys’ volleyball matches, authorities said.

Darwin Tengco, 46, has been charged with sexually assaulting a student at Independence High School during a period when he was a boys' volleyball referee at campus matches, according to San Jose police. (San Jose Police Dept.)Darwin Tengco, 46, has been charged with sexually assaulting a student at Independence High School during a period when he was a boys’ volleyball referee at campus matches, according to San Jose police. (San Jose Police Dept.) 

Darwin Tengco, 46, of San Jose turned himself in to police Sept. 1, three days after prosecutors filed a sexual assault charge against him, according to San Jose police and court records. He was booked at the Santa Clara County jail and was later released after posting bail.

Police stated in a Wednesday news release that a female student at Independence reported last month that in April, a boys’ volleyball referee had sexually assaulted her one day after school. An investigation by the SJPD Child Exploitation Detail later identified Tengco as the referee the student was describing.

Detectives forwarded their findings to the district attorney’s office, which on Aug. 29 charged Tengco with one felony count of sexual penetration of a person under the age of 18.

Tengo could not be immediately reached Wednesday at multiple phone numbers and an email address listed for him.

The East Side Union High School District, which oversees Independence High School, and the referee organization that employed Tengco did not immediately offer comment in response to inquiries from this news organization Wednesday.

Given the nature of the allegations and Tengco’s authority position and access to students, investigators are exploring the possibility of other unreported victims and instances of misconduct. Anyone with information for San Jose police can contact Detective Camarillo at or at 408-273-2959. Tips can also be left with Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at 408-947-7867 or at

Check back later for updates to this story.

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Categories: Local News

Mount Rainier isn’t erupting. Here’s what’s going on

Seattle Times - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 10:46

Geologists are scrambling Wednesday to notify the public that there are no signs of abnormal behavior after a tweet caused a stir about Mount Rainier.
Categories: Local News