Nugent's Last Stand?
July 25, 2014
Facebook/Ted Nugent

Ted Nugent has lost yet another gig with a Native American casino, thanks to the rocker's various racially charged comments — this time a pair of concerts at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington, which had been scheduled for August 2 and 3.

"The First Amendment gives people the right of free speech, but I think racism is intolerable and not acceptable here," Puyallup Tribal Council Vice President Lawrence W. LaPointe told the NBC affiliate in Seattle. "We've been getting lots of complaints from the community and other organizations." LaPointe also added: "I don't want to take away his right to say what he wants to say, but we don't need it here."

Among the complaints from tribe members about Nugent were the photos he has posted on his own Facebook account, in which he has worn a traditional Native American headdress. This is on top of his infamous comment earlier this year, when he referred to President Obama as a "sub-human mongrel."

In this case, sadly, the tribe told the station that in addition to complaints about Nugent, they had also received outright threats from some individuals — including one about bombing the casino if Nugent performed.

The Puyallup Tribe's decision comes two days after another tribe, the Coeur d'Alene of Idaho, canceled a separate Nugent concert that was set for early August at their own casino. Nugent has not responded well to an apparent wave of cancelations, referring to the people agitating against him in a separate case (which was not connected to Native Americans in that instance) as "unclean vermin." --Eric Kleefeld

protests
1:44 a.m. ET

On Thursday, a Southern California man ended his 55-day fast protesting the Armenian genocide that took place 100 years ago.

Agasi Vartanyan of Glendale began his fast on April 3, and spent the last 55 days inside a glass box outside of a Burbank church, only consuming bottled water. Vartanyan went on the hunger strike to bring attention to the 100th anniversary of the genocide of about 1.2 million Armenians in their homeland in 1915, and conducted a similar protest in Russia in 2006. A nonprofit group set up a livestream of his protest, and it drew almost 20 million viewers. "What makes what I'm doing worthwhile is when I see young people remembering their roots and their heritage," he told the Los Angeles Times through a translator.

The number 55 was important to Vartanyan, as he'll be turning 55 this year and he wanted to end his fast on May 28, the day Armenians celebrate their independence. It took him a year to prepare, both physically and mentally, and dropped 56 pounds over the 55 days. He would like to see the Turkish government recognize the massacre as genocide, and believes it deserves the same recognition as the Holocaust. "I've done these things for the memory of the victims," he told supporters who came to watch him finish the fast. "You never get anywhere without fighting for it." Catherine Garcia

This just in
1:12 a.m. ET

A volcano erupted without warning in Japan on Friday morning, causing the government to order all 140 residents of the Kuchinoerabu island to evacuate.

Authorities say that so far, no injuries or damage have been reported, although several people are not accounted for and others are on boats headed to an emergency shelter. Following Mount Shindake's eruption, Japan's meteorological agency raised its alert level to five, the highest on its scale, The Guardian reports.

Officials say that pyroclastic flows, or currents of rock fragments and hot gases from the volcano, have reached the north-west shore of the island. Witnesses said they heard what sounded like an explosion and felt the earth shake, then saw black smoke rising into the air. Catherine Garcia

$$$$$
12:37 a.m. ET
George Frey/Getty Images

Military veterans who were illegally charged too much interest on their student loans will receive anywhere from $10 to $100,000 in refunds.

The Department of Justice secured $60 million in refunds for 77,795 veterans who were overcharged by the student loan service provider formerly known as Sallie Mae, The Hill reports. Now called Navient Corp., the company will begin to issue refunds in June, with the Department of Justice saying the average veteran will receive $770.

Navient agreed to settle with the Department of Justice last year after it was charged with violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act by not capping interest rates at six percent for certain loans. It was the first time a student loan company was sued by the federal government on these charges. Catherine Garcia

C-O-N-G-R-A-T-U-L-A-T-I-O-N-S
May 28, 2015
Alex Wong/Getty Images

It’s a T-I-E: For the second year in a row, the Scripps National Spelling Bee crowned two champions.

Vanya Shivashankar, 13, of Olathe, Kansas, and Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, of Chesterfield, Missouri, battled it out through 20 rounds Thursday night, with Shivashankar tackling words like "thamakau," "hippocrepiform," and "scherenschnitte" and Venkatachalam taking on "pipsissewa," "pyrrhyloxia," and "sprachgefühl." It all came down to "nunatak" — after Venkatachalam spelled it correctly, the pair were named co-champions, with each one walking away with $35,000, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond, and a complete reference library.

Both were competition veterans — it was Shivashankar's fifth year, Venkatachalam's fourth — who have long had their eyes on the prize. "I saw the past two champions and I wanted to do the same and I wanted to get the same," Venkatachalam told USA Today. "I just put in the work." Shivashankar — whose sister, Kavya, won the 2009 bee — dedicated her win to her grandmother, who died in 2013. "All she really wanted was her grandkids to do so well and I hope I make her happy with this," she said. Catherine Garcia

explainers
May 28, 2015
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Experts believe that there could be a simple explanation behind the Department of Defense inadvertently sending out live anthrax samples.

The spores are incredibly tiny and very tough, and the irradiation procedure used to deactivate them might not have killed each and every one, John Peterson, a microbiology professor who works with anthrax at the University of Texas Medical Branch, told NBC News. Anthrax spores are 1 micron in diameter, and samples could contain 10 billion spores, making it difficult for an X-ray or gamma ray to kill all the spores. "If a procedure kills 99.999 percent of the bacteria, there would still be 100,000 spores left viable," Peterson said. "They are very difficult to kill."

While anthrax is not fatal if treated in time, spores can be dispersed in the air and stay around for months or years, and it is considered a potential biological weapon. On Wednesday, the Pentagon confirmed samples of live anthrax were sent out to labs in nine states and an Air Force base in South Korea, and at least 26 people who came in contact with the samples are taking antibiotics as a precaution. Investigators say they are looking into the irradiation process that was used to inactivate the spores. Catherine Garcia

Can't we all just get along?
May 28, 2015

Police in Arizona are preparing for a "Draw Muhammad" contest and rally planned for Friday outside of a Phoenix mosque.

The event's organizer, Jon Ritzheimer, has put together two other protests in Phoenix over the past few weeks, with some supporters arriving with profane anti-Islam t-shirts and signs, News 12 reports. The event is being called a "Freedom of Speech Rally," and is taking place three weeks after a similar event in Garland, Texas, where two men who allegedly were supporters of ISIS were killed after shooting a security guard. "I want this to be about pushing out the truth about Islam," Ritzheimer said.

Usama Shami, president of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, told News 12 that the FBI and local police have notified him about the event, and says the protesters have the right to assemble. "Everybody has a right to be a bigot," he said. "Everybody has a right to be a racist. Everybody has a right to be an idiot." Shami is urging members of the mosque to attend prayer services Friday night, and to avoid engaging with protesters. "They're not looking for an intellectual conversation," he said. "They're looking to stir up controversy and we're not going to be a part of it." Catherine Garcia

snowpocalypse
May 28, 2015

Temperatures are rising in Boston, but it's not enough to melt the piles of snow that still dot the landscape.

The piles are filled with garbage and debris picked up by snow plows during the city's record-setting storms this winter and spring, and even with the sun beating down on them now, the piles aren't close to fully melting away. A pile in the Seaport District that was once 75 feet tall is now a mere three stories, with a hodgepodge of junk encapsulated inside the ice. "It's vile," Michael Dennehy, commissioner of the city's Department of Public Works, told The Boston Globe. "We're finding crazy stuff; bicycles, orange cones that people used as space savers. The funniest thing they found was half of a $5 bill. They're looking for the other half still."

Dennehy said crews capture the trash as it slowly breaks free from the mound, and so far they have removed 85 tons of debris. To lighten the mood, workers started a pool to guess when the pile might finally be gone for good, a game Dennehy knows he didn't win. "I said by May 30, but that's this weekend," he said. "It's still weeks away from melting." Catherine Garcia

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