Harry Potter and his ilk are cheapening the once-respected U.S. Postal Service's stamp program, according to Benjamin F. Bailar, a former postmaster general.
"The stamp program should celebrate the things that are great about the United States and serve as a medium to communicate those things to a world-wide audience," Bailar wrote in a letter to current Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. "To prostitute that goal in the pursuit of possibly illusory profits does not make sense to me."
Bailar's letter, obtained by The Washington Post, also acted as a resignation from the Citizens' Advisory Stamp Committee, an exclusive group of notable Americans that offer their advice on suitable faces and images to be used on postage stamps. Bailar, 80, is a well-known stamp collector whose resignation highlights "a rift within the stamp community over whether the cash-poor Postal Service should pursue commercial subjects... at the expense of traditional cultural images."
Committee members were reportedly especially miffed by last November's Harry Potter stamp series, on which they were not consulted beforehand.
"While (the stamps) may support a drive to 'sell the product' with abundance of pretty and popular culture subjects, the result is a program that lacks gravitas," Bailar's letter added.
Harry Potter, the boy wizard who must lead a life-or-death battle on which the world's fate rests, might argue that his seven-book series has some gravitas, but since he corresponds by owl, he probably hasn't even seen the offending stamps. Sarah Eberspacher
California officials on Friday accepted a compromise offer from Delta farmers, who proposed forgoing a quarter of their water supplies due to the state's "unprecedented drought," The New York Times reports.
California's agricultural industry accounts for 80 percent of the state's water consumption per year, but farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta own some of the state's most senior water rights — and The Sacramento Bee notes that they have historically held tight to those claims. Representatives for the Delta's nearly 4,000 farmers said they expected most to participate in the cutbacks, either by farming less of their acreage or planting crops that require less water. Sarah Eberspacher
The Rare Tea Company caters to true tea connoisseurs, says Ming Lui at How To Spend It. Founder Henrietta Lovell specializes in creating bespoke blends of the world's finest teas, which will run you a hefty $7,870 for first blending and a three-month supply. Three one-on-one tasting sessions are usually required; if you can't visit her London shop, she can fly to you. After teasing out a customer's flavor and mouthfeel preferences, Lovell provides up to 10 samples before arriving at the final blend. Because flavors change depending on the season when the tea leaves are picked, each custom blend is tweaked regularly to provide a consistent flavor.
Marques Haynes, arguably one of the Harlem Globetrotters' all-time best players, died on Friday in Plano, Texas, at age 89, The Dallas Morning News reports.
Haynes first signed on with the Globetrotters in 1948, for $400 per season. He quite nearly became the NBA's first black player in 1950, but missed that opportunity due to disagreements with the Globetrotters' owner. However, Haynes still became the first Globetrotter inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, in 1998.
(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)
"A guy asked me a long time ago if I ever thought I'd get into the NBA Hall of Fame," Haynes told Dallas Morning News reporter Robert Wilonsky in 2007. "My answer was: 'The world is my Hall of Fame.'"
The world was also Haynes' stage: Considered one of the best ball handlers in history, Haynes played before fans in 97 countries, in more than 12,000 games. Sarah Eberspacher
Wyoming has made it illegal to collect evidence of water pollution and other violations of environmental laws. The ban is designed to protect the state's cattle farmers, who often let herds graze on public lands and defecate near rivers and streams, polluting them with E. coli bacteria. State Sen. Larry Hicks said the ban would prevent environmentalists from interfering with important "economic activity."
A team of bomb disposal experts has safely removed an unexploded WWII bomb from a construction site in north London, near Wembley Stadium.
The 110-pound bomb was apparently dropped in the 1940s during Nazi air raids, The Telegraph reports. And it was discovered by accident, too: Construction workers near the stadium discovered the bomb while at work on Wednesday afternoon. Police haven't released the exact location where the bomb was discovered.
An army spokesperson told The Telegraph that the bomb posed a "genuine risk to life," and local homes and businesses were evacuated until the bomb was defused. Teams from the Royal Logistic Corps excavated the bomb, and the Royal Engineers created a blast wall around the site in case it accidentally exploded.
The Boy Scouts of America has banned water-gun fights, saying that it's not "kind" for scouts to shoot each other with "simulated firearms." The organization's new National Shooting Manual also forbids the use of potato guns and marshmallow shooters. The rules brought a wave of derision, with one critic saying the Scouts are turning "boys into a bunch of wusses."
Following the revelation that 27-year-old Josh Duggar, one of the stars of TLC's reality series 19 Kids and Counting, had admitted to sexually molesting multiple girls when he was a teenager, TLC has reportedly pulled reruns of the show — which aired its season 10 finale this week — from its schedule.
"Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret," Josh Duggar said in a statement. "I hurt others, including my family and close friends." Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, Josh's parents, issued a similar statement, saying their son's actions caused them "to seek God like never before."
The ultimate fate of 19 Kids and Counting is still up in the air, as the network has not yet stated whether it will continue with future seasons. Since the news broke, 2016 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (R) has defended Duggar, who also resigned from his political post at the Family Research Council, an influential conservative group. Meghan DeMaria