As the jury president of this year's Berlin International Film Festival, it was up to Meryl Streep to answer the press' questions about diversity and the festival's all-white jury panel. However, Streep dismissed the criticism on Thursday by telling reporters, "We're all Africans, really."
The other members of the jury are German actor Lars Eidinger, British film critic Nick James, French photographer Brigitte Lacombe, British actor Clive Owen, Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher, and Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska, The Associated Press reports. Together, Streep and the jury will award Europe's first major film prize of the year, the Golden Bear, as well as several Silver Bear awards.
"There is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture, and after all we're all from Africa originally," Streep said. "Berliners, we're all Africans really."
Streep also defended herself against an Egyptian reporter who questioned if she understood films from North Africa or the Arab world by saying, "I've played a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures."
Additionally, Streep insisted she was committed to the inclusion of "all genders, races, ethnicities, religions."
"This jury is evidence that at least women are included and in fact dominate this jury, and that's an unusual situation in bodies of people who make decisions," Streep said. "So I think the Berlinale is ahead of its game." Jeva Lange
In 1944, with the end of World War II looming, Jewish prisoners in the Lithuanian extermination camp, Ponar, devised a plan. The prisoners were being forced to dig up and burn the bodies of murdered Jews as the Nazis scrambled to hide evidence from the approaching Soviet army. The prisoners knew that once their work was done, they too would be killed. So, using spoons found among the corpses, the prisoners dug a tunnel from their holding pen to the outside. On the last night of Passover, the prisoners slipped into the tunnel to attempt escape.
Of the 80 prisoners in the holding pen, only 12 managed to get away and 11 survived until the end of the war to tell the tale. Since then, their 100-foot tunnel has been lost to history — at least, until now. A team of archaeologists and cartographers believe they have finally found the Ponar tunnel thanks to the use of radio waves at the site, The New York Times reports. The team has also discovered burial pits, including one containing the ashes of an estimated 7,000 people and another containing an estimated 10,000 bodies, using the technology.
"If we had never discovered the tunnel, people would have thought in another 20 years it was a myth, and they would have questioned — What do we really know happened? This is a great story about the way that people overcame the worst possible condition, and still had this hope that they could get out," team leader Richard Freund said.
Spain just made Scotland's battle to remain in the European Union that much harder. On Wednesday, as Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with European Parliament chiefs to negotiate her country's membership in the trade bloc, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy vowed to block Scotland's attempts to remain after Britain's vote to exit.
During the second day of an emergency EU summit in Brussels, Rajoy announced that he is "extremely against" the EU accepting Scotland independent of the rest of the U.K., and said that "if the U.K. goes, Scotland goes too." "I want to be very clear," Rajoy said. "Scotland does not have the competence to negotiate with the European Union. Spain opposes any negotiation by anyone other than the government of the United Kingdom." Rajoy's sentiments have been echoed by other EU officials who say that Scotland must declare its independence from the U.K. before it can apply to or join the EU.
However, Sturgeon has already said that a declaration of independence from the U.K. is not out of the question. Although Britain elected to exit the EU, Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain, 62 percent to 38 percent. Becca Stanek
A white-nationalist neo-Nazi group, the Traditionalist Worker Party, has vowed to make an appearance at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month to "make sure that the Donald Trump supporters are defended from the leftist thugs," according to spokesman Matt Parrott.
The Traditionalist Worker Party made headlines over the weekend when the group organized a pro-Trump rally in Sacramento, California, that ended in multiple stabbings.
Leftist groups have indeed vowed to protest against Trump at the Cleveland convention, but organizers say they will be peaceful. Furthermore, spokespeople for both the Coalition to Stop Trump and March on the RNC and the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression said the two groups are not concerned about the neo-Nazi presence.
Federal contractors aren't allowed to make political donations. This pro-Clinton PAC took $200,000 from one anyway.
Priorities USA, a super PAC that supports presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, accepted two donations totaling $200,000 from Suffolk Construction, a Boston-based firm.
This would be a non-story — except that when it made those contributions, Suffolk was an active federal contractor, with multiple Department of Defense contracts valued at nearly $1 million. It has been illegal for federal contractors to make this sort of political donation for seven decades. "Federal government contractors may not make contributions to influence Federal elections," the Federal Election Commission explains, listing contractor gifts among its prohibited contributions.
The money also violates Priorities USA's own organizational rules, which echo the FEC's regulation.
Before our robot overlords enslave us, they are at least going to save us some cash on parking tickets. Or, at least, one is.
DoNotPay is a chatbot created by a 19-year-old Stanford University student named Joshua Browder, who calls his creation the "world's first robot lawyer." The artificial intelligence program, which is a free service, talks with users who want to contest parking tickets to determine whether their case stands a chance for appeal. If the facts are right, the robot lawyer guides them through the appeals process. So far, it has helped users appeal some 250,000 tickets, winning the case for 160,000, or almost two-thirds of the time.
Currently, DoNotPay is only available in New York City and London, but it will soon expand to Seattle, and perhaps to other legal services that can be delivered via app. "I think the people getting parking tickets are the most vulnerable in society," Browder said. "These people aren't looking to break the law. I think they're being exploited as a revenue source by the local government." Bonnie Kristian
Writing for The New York Times, Bernie Sanders continued to nudge Hillary Clinton while warning Democrats that a Brexit-like situation would not be impossible in the United States. The Vermont senator weaved in his usual lines about the global 1 percent while leveling colloquially with his readers: "Could this rejection of the current form of the global economy happen in the United States? You bet it could."
Just as opponents claimed that the Brexit was fueled by racist xenophobia, Sanders urged, "We do not need change based on the demagogy, bigotry, and anti-immigrant sentiment that punctuated so much of the Leave campaign's rhetoric — and is central to Donald J. Trump's message."
The notion that Donald Trump could benefit from the same forces that gave the Leave proponents a majority in Britain should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party in the United States. Millions of American voters, like the Leave supporters, are understandably angry and frustrated by the economic forces that are destroying the middle class.
In this pivotal moment, the Democratic Party and a new Democratic president need to make clear that we stand with those who are struggling and who have been left behind. [The New York Times]
Without naming names, Sanders laid out his vision for the future president of the United States: "We need a president who will vigorously support international cooperation that brings the people of the world closer together, reduces hypernationalism, and decreases the possibility of war," he wrote. Read the entire op-ed here. Jeva Lange
Hillary Clinton may have a safe lead over Donald Trump across all seven battleground states, but that's certainly not the case with all of her potential Republican competitors. Ballotpedia's battleground poll out Wednesday reveals that Clinton polls a bit behind Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) across all seven states, averaging 40 percent to Kasich's 44 percent. Clinton polls even against House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), with both averaging 42 percent.
However, if the Republican Party does hand Trump the nomination, Ballotpedia indicates that Clinton can likely expect success across the battleground states of Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. On average, Clinton leads Trump 48 percent to 37 percent.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 29, 2016