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
When NBC's Meet the Press host Chuck Todd asked asked House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) if he agreed that America is "in a national crisis when it comes to the relationship between African-Americans and law enforcement," Boehner responded, "I do."
"I think that if you look at what’s happened over the course of the last year, you've just got to scratch your head," Boehner said. He also addressed the death of Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody in Baltimore, saying that "public servants should not violate the law."
Referencing the charges against the six Baltimore police officers involved in Gray's death, Boehner said that "if these charges are true, it's outrageous, and it's unacceptable." Meghan DeMaria
One Finnish shipwreck is the discovery that keeps on giving.
A team of underwater archaeologists in Finland has discovered a shipwreck that dates to the 15th century, and it's full of treasure. The team believes the find is the wreck of the Hanneke Wromen, a ship that sank on November 20, 1468, with 200 passengers and crew members on board. The ship was en route from Germany to Estonia when it was lost during a storm.
According to historic records, the ship was carrying 10,000 gold coins when it sank. Historians believe the treasure would be worth 50 million Euros (about $56 million) today. The team had been searching for the shipwreck since last year.
— ancient-origins (@ancientorigins) May 3, 2015
Finland's National Board of Antiquities has authorized further investigations into the shipwreck, and the team hopes that they will retrieve the gold coins. Researchers will also date wood from the shipwreck to confirm that it is, indeed, from the Hanneke Wromen. Meghan DeMaria
On NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said that the recent events in Baltimore underscore America's need to focus on "economic marginalization," Politico reports.
"We haven't had an agenda for American cities probably since at least Jimmy Carter,” O'Malley said to Meet the Press host Chuck Todd. "We have left cities to fend for themselves."
O'Malley also argued against House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)'s suggestion that liberals' poverty solutions have failed over the last 50 years. O'Malley pointed to the decrease in violent crime in Baltimore, as well as lower incarceration rates, saying that Freddie Gray's death and the following riots have been "a heartbreaking setback for an otherwise remarkable comeback."
O'Malley hasn't made any official statements about a Democratic presidential campaign, but he said that if he does announce his candidacy later this month, he "wouldn't think of announcing any place else" than in Baltimore. Meghan DeMaria
"Chill," commands Saturday Night Live's parody commercial for a Black Widow standalone film. "Marvel gets women."
Scarlett Johansson hosted Saturday Night Live this weekend, and she wasn't afraid to poke fun at the mishaps that occurred during the press junket for her new film, The Avengers: Age of Ultron. One such gaffe? In one interview, Johansson's co-stars Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner called her character, Black Widow, a "slut" and a "whore," for which they have since apologized.
Following the controversy, Saturday Night Live created a trailer focused on the idea that Black Widow's character is about more than her sexuality. Her standalone film — a rom-com — features Black Widow as a young woman struggling to make it in New York City, breaking heels on city streets and interning at a fashion publication. Unfortunately, Black Widow's sartorial success at her internship is quickly overshadowed by her romantic relationships — a thinly-veiled jab at her character's portrayal in the Avengers movies. Check out the faux trailer below. —Meghan DeMaria
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Sunday that she was lifting a city-wide 10 p.m. curfew, which had been in effect in Baltimore for five nights. The curfew came after riots protesting the death of Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody.
"I have rescinded my order instituting a city-wide curfew," Rawlings-Blake announced on Twitter. "I want to thank the people of Baltimore for their patience." She added that she wanted to "not have the curfew in place a single day longer than was necessary."
Rawlings-Blake's announcement comes a day after a "victory rally" in Baltimore on Saturday celebrating the charges brought against the six police officers involved in Gray's death. Though Saturday's events were mostly peaceful, 20 people were arrested during Saturday night's protests. Meghan DeMaria
The Coast Guard saved 3,690 migrants from smugglers' boats. The smugglers had attempted to move the migrants from Africa on motorized rubber dinghies and fishing boats.
Italy brought some of the migrants to Sicilian ports on Sunday, and others are being taken to temporary shelters in Calabria, where they are expected to arrive on Monday. Italy's Coast Guard also announced Sunday that it had recovered 10 bodies off Libya's coast, which were found in three different rescue efforts. Meghan DeMaria
The civilian death toll in the Syrian province of Aleppo has risen to 52, including seven children.
The British-based Observatory for Human Rights announced the figures on Saturday, saying a U.S. air raid on Friday had accidentally struck civilians in a village on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. According to the Observatory's report, the attack killed members of at least six families.
— RT (@RT_com) May 2, 2015
Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the observatory, told Reuters that Friday's death toll marks the highest civilian loss from a single attack by U.S. and Arab forces since they began air strikes against Islamic militant groups, including ISIS, in Syria. Reuters notes that before Friday's attack, U.S.-led strikes had killed at least 66 Syrian civilians since Sept. 23. The new attack brings the civilian death toll to at least 118. The U.S. military did not confirm the Observatory's report but said it would look into the situation. Meghan DeMaria