March 8, 2017

On Monday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson introduced himself to his new agency, calling America "a land of dreams and opportunity" and raising eyebrows with his follow-up point, that "there were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less," and like other immigrants "had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land."

Carson, the only black member of Trump's Cabinet, clarified his point on Facebook Monday night, noting that "the slave narrative and immigrant narrative are two entirely different experiences," and "the two experiences should never be intertwined." He also went on SiriusXM's Urban View, telling host Armstrong Williams that a person "can be an involuntary immigrant," that "slaves came here as involuntary immigrants," and that "people need to actually look up the word 'immigrant.'" That did not stop the mockery of Carson's original speech — on Tuesday's Daily Show, for example, Trevor Noah took Carson up on his invitation to look up "immigrant":

Well, it turns out Carson wasn't the first prominent African-American to compare slaves to immigrants. During a December 2015 naturalization ceremony at the National Archives, President Barack Obama gave a speech about the immigrant experience. "After all, unless your family is Native American, one of the first Americans, our families — all of our families — come from someplace else," he said, running through some travails faced by the pilgrims, Germans, Irish, Italians, Chinese, and other waves of immigrants. Then he alluded to African slaves:

Life in America was not always easy. It wasn't always easy for new immigrants. Certainly it wasn't easy for those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily, and yet in their own way were immigrants themselves. There was discrimination and hardship and poverty. But, like you, they no doubt found inspiration in all those who had come before them. And they were able to muster faith that, here in America, they might build a better life and give their children something more. [Obama, National Archives]

"From the start, Africans were brought here in chains against their will, and then toiled under the whip," Obama added later. "They also built America." Peter Weber

9:55 p.m.

Dodgers first baseman and outfielder Cody Bellinger and Angels outfielder Mike Trout on Thursday were named the Most Valuable Players for their leagues.

Bellinger is the 12th Dodger to receive the National League MVP Award, and the first since it went to Clayton Kershaw in 2014. Bellinger, 24, is a two-time All Star, who had 47 home runs in 2019. Over 156 games, he batted .305. He received 19 of the 30 first place votes, and 10 second place votes. "There wasn't one part of his game he didn't dominate," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said in a statement.

Trout received the American League MVP Award, an honor he has now won three times. Trout, 28, was just 23 when he earned his first league MVP Award, becoming the youngest player in history to be named MVP by a unanimous vote. He received 17 of the 30 first place votes. In 2019, he played in 134 games, ending the season with a career-high 45 home runs and batting .291.

Trout now joins the ranks of Mickey Mantle, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Fox, Stan Musial, Albert Pujols, and Mike Schmidt — the only Major League Baseball players to win three or more MVP awards. Trout is "one of the greatest players that I've ever laid my eyes on, and one of the better people I've also been around inside this game," Angels general manager Billy Eppler told the Los Angeles Times. "Great ambassador, total role model." Catherine Garcia

8:59 p.m.

A federal judge ruled that a Kentucky man's rights were violated when the state told him he couldn't personalize his license plate to read "IM GOD."

In 2016, Ben Hart, a self-identified atheist, tried to get the vanity plates, but Kentucky's state transportation department rejected his application. The Associated Press reports that Kentucky has approved license plates that read "TRYGOD" and "NOGOD," but the state said Hart's phrase went against anti-discrimination guidelines.

Hart, with assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union in Kentucky and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, took the state to court. On Wednesday, a U.S. District Court judge in Frankfort ruled in favor of Hart, saying personalized license plates are private speech, and protected under the 1st Amendment. Hart said he got the idea for "IM GOD" after seeing the same phrase on a license plate in Ohio. Catherine Garcia

7:53 p.m.

Mark Sandy, a career employee at the White House Office of Management and Budget, is expected to testify behind closed doors Saturday in the House impeachment inquiry, The Washington Post reports.

The White House has ordered administration officials not to participate in the inquiry, and other OMB employees have ignored congressional subpoenas to appear before lawmakers, including Russell T. Vought, the agency's acting director. Most inquiry witnesses have been served with subpoenas right before their depositions are slated to begin, and Sandy's attorney Barbara Van Gelder said on Thursday evening, "If he is subpoenaed, he will appear."

Sandy has worked in the OMB on and off for 10 years, during Democratic and Republican administrations, and could likely answer questions about the decision made this summer to hold up $400 million in military aide to Ukraine. Sandy was one of several OMB staffers who had questions about the hold up, people familiar with the situation told the Post, and part of his job was to sign documents related to the matter. He signed one piece of paper in July, they said, but after that, a political appointee in the OMB, Mike Duffey, took over the process of approving and denying funds. Duffey has ignored a subpoena to testify. Catherine Garcia

7:03 p.m.

The Italian government declared a state of emergency in Venice on Thursday, following days of flooding caused by high tides and a storm surge driven by strong winds.

At least two people have died due to the flooding, which is the worst to hit Venice in more than five decades. Flood levels reached 6 feet, 2 inches on Tuesday, and 3 feet, 8 inches on Thursday. The flooding has caused extensive damage to buildings, stores, and infrastructure, with the crypt at St. Mark's Basilica, built more than 1,000 years ago, filled with water and a third of Venice's raised walkways destroyed. "It hurts to see the city so damaged, its artistic heritage compromised, its commercial activities on its knees," Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Wednesday.

Conte said the government will step up efforts to build a hydraulic barrier system that can be activated during winter storms and when sea levels rise. More flooding is expected in the next few days. Catherine Garcia

5:12 p.m.

Even at the best of times, first kisses can be pretty awkward, but Kate Beckinsale's memory of her "horrible" first kiss includes a particularly nauseating extra ingredient: Meat.

While on The Late Late Show with James Corden, the actress recalled a first kiss with a boy who had just eaten a meat lovers' pizza — and when they locked lips, she realized "there's all that kind of wet activity inside the other person's mouth, with lots of bits of sausages in as well." We know it's probably too late, but man, if you're out there, a little friendly advice: Finish chewing and swallowing before you plant one on a future actress who will someday need a hilarious anecdote for a late-night show.

Read more at Fox News and watch the clip below. Scott Meslow

5:08 p.m.

Ah, the ever-changing winds of Hollywood. One decade, you're the hot young star at the center of your own action franchise; the next, you're the grizzled old mentor paired with the new hot young star.

That's exactly what happened to Mark Wahlberg, who was slated to star as the main character in a big-budget adaptation of the PlayStation video game series Uncharted in 2010, reports Entertainment Weekly. After languishing in Hollywood purgatory for a while, Uncharted is back on… with Spider-Man: Homecoming star Tom Holland set to play the hero, and with Wahlberg set to play his older, cigar-chomping mentor Sully. (To be fair: If anyone can appreciate a new kid on the block, it's Wahlberg.) Read more at Entertainment Weekly. Scott Meslow

4:57 p.m.

It smells like court spirit for Marc Jacobs. A California judge is allowing Nirvana to proceed with a copyright infringement lawsuit against the designer for his "reinterpreted" use of the band's happy face logo.

In December 2018 Nirvana sued Jacobs, claiming a shirt in Jacobs' Bootleg Redux Grunge collection is a rip off of the logo Kurt Cobain designed in 1991. In March, Jacobs responded by filing a motion to dismiss the case arguing that the designs are not sufficiently similar and that there are technicalities in Nirvana's ownership of the logo, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge John Kronsdadt disagreed with the designer's claims. He ruled that the similarities between the two shirts are adequate and that the technicalities in the legality of the band's registration for the logo are insufficient, Rolling Stone reports.

In his motion to dismiss, The Guardian noted, Jacobs claimed that he was "inspired" by the classic vintage logo but put his own mark on it (no pun intended). Nirvana alleges the use of the logo "misled the public into falsely believing that Nirvana endorses the entire 'Bootleg Redux Grunge' collection … when Nirvana has not done so."

Kronstadt asserted that the only "discernible differences" between the two T-shirts is that Jacob's features M and J initials for the eyes versus the band's use of two X's, notes the Reporter. The judge ultimately decided on Thursday that there was enough there to bolster the band's claims and the suit could survive the dismissal.


Brielle Diskin

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