It's about time
August 4, 2020

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) on Tuesday ordered a statewide mask mandate, requiring all residents to don a face covering while shopping or attending a public gathering during the next two weeks.

Mississippi is seeing a surge in new coronavirus cases and deaths, with more than 1 in 5 COVID-19 tests conducted in the state coming back positive, the Clarion Ledger reports. Previously, Reeves issued three separate executive orders requiring mask mandates in 37 of the state's 82 counties, but balked at issuing a statewide order because he said it was too hard to enforce and he trusted Mississippians to wear face coverings on their own.

On Tuesday, Reeves said he ordered the statewide mandate "because I believe that a large number of Mississippians are actually participating in slowing down the spread of the virus. They are doing exactly what they've asked them to do, and I'm proud of that."

Earlier in the day, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi's top health officer, announced a statewide order that anyone who has been infected with COVID-19 and is not hospitalized must stay in self-isolation for 14 days from the onset of their illness. Failure to comply with this order could result in a misdemeanor fine of $500 and/or up to six months in jail. Catherine Garcia

June 9, 2020

The Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, has directed his staff to create an order banning the Confederate battle flag from all public spaces and work areas on Navy installations, ships, aircraft, and submarines, a U.S. Navy spokesman announced Tuesday.

"The order is meant to ensure unit cohesion, preserve good order and discipline, and uphold the Navy's core values of honor, courage, and commitment," Commander Nate Christensen said in a statement.

On Friday, the Marine Corps issued an order directing commanders to "identify and remove the display of the Confederate battle flag or its depiction within workplaces, common access areas, and public areas on their installations." There are some exceptions, CBS News reports, including Confederate gravesites and art where the flag is shown but isn't the main focus. Catherine Garcia

June 9, 2020

The United States Army has 10 bases and facilities that are named after Confederate leaders, including one that honors Lt. Gen. John Brown Gordon — a man "generally acknowledged as the head of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia," according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

In February, after the Marine Corps said it would ban Confederate paraphernalia from its installations, an Army spokesperson told Task & Purpose there were "no plans to rename any street or installation, including those named for Confederate generals," adding those names grew from "a spirit of reconciliation, not to demonstrate support for any particular cause or ideology."

Four months later, leadership has reversed course. In a statement Monday, Army spokeswoman Col. Sunset Belinsky said Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy are "open to a bipartisan discussion on the topic" of renaming those bases and facilities. An Army official told Politico that the massive protests over the death of George Floyd "made us start looking more at ourselves and the things that we do and how that is communicated to the force as well as the American public."

The bases named after Confederate leaders are Forts Benning and Gordon in Georgia; Forts Pickett, A.P. Hill, and Lee in Virginia; Fort Polk and Camp Beauregard in Louisiana; Fort Bragg in North Carolina; Fort Hood in Texas; and Fort Rucker in Alabama.

In 2017, military historian Army Maj. Mark Herbert wrote in Task & Purpose that most of those bases were built as the U.S. entered World War I and World War II and needed to train tens of thousands of recruits. While the War Department and Army typically named posts after "war heroes or prominent figures in American history," there were times when local commanders were allowed to name the installations, Herbert wrote. In the South, the bases "tended to be named after local rebel heroes — either by the community that still took their Confederate heritage seriously, or by the Army, which believed that Confederate history was a part of its own." Catherine Garcia

April 15, 2020

Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) may break the mold once again.

Amash, who started his congressional term as a Republican but went independent amid President Trump's impeachment, has been considering a presidential run since mid-February. He still hasn't announced whether he'll run or not, but with this year's major party nominees all but decided, Amash's campaign says he'll do so this week.

"In mid-February, Justin Amash paused active campaigning for his congressional seat to carefully consider a presidential run. He has been discussing the potential campaign with his family, his friends, his team, and others, and a decision can be expected soon," his campaign said in a Wednesday statement. Amash has also been teasing a possible run in tweets over the past few days, including by condemning Trump's comments about a president's "total authority" in saying "Americans who believe in limited government deserve another option." He responded to that tweet to say he's "looking at" running "closely this week."

Amash's candidacy could be both good and bad news for Trump. On one hand, he could attract Republicans who have soured on Trump but also don't want to pick former Vice President Joe Biden, dividing Trump's base of support. But that could also nab votes from Biden, possibly giving Trump an advantage in the end. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 17, 2020

After traveling the world hunting for treasure in his personal life, Nicolas Cage can soon resume doing so in the movies, too.

A third National Treasure film is in the works at Disney with Bad Boys for Life's Chris Bremner writing a screenplay, The Hollywood Reporter wrote Friday.

No further details were provided in the report, which only briefly mentioned National Treasure while focusing on the status of a fourth Bad Boys film, which is also apparently happening. But this news comes more than a decade after National Treasure: Book of Secrets hit theaters, easily outgrossing the original but for some reason not being followed by five to eight more installments centered around Benjamin Franklin Gates' increasingly wacky adventures.

A third National Treasure has been discussed going back years, though, to the point that this movie could just be about the mythical quest for its own screenplay. Director Jon Turteltaub in 2018 suggested the odds it would come together weren't great, telling /Film, "I don't think Disney wants to make it," though he suggested it could happen as a streaming-exclusive film.

Now that it's apparently moving forward, though, what treasure hunt might be at the center of this installment? Could it just completely ignore the first two films and turn into a documentary about Nicolas Cage the actor's totally real attempt to locate the Holy Grail, which he revealed last year and dubbed his "grail quest"? Probably not, but Disney can have that idea for free. Brendan Morrow

June 9, 2019

Bureaucratic snafus have always been a thing, as the La Sagrada Familia Foundation and city of Barcelona can attest.

Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí began construction on the La Sagrada Familia, a Catholic basilica, in Barcelona in 1882. In 1885, he applied for a permit, sending the city signed blueprints for the church, but he never received a response. That didn't stop him from building the church, and 137 years later, it's still under construction, with the work based on Gaudí's plaster models and copies of his drawings.

The church is a major tourist attraction, with more than 4 million people visiting every year, and the city decided it was finally time to make things official with a permit. Over the last three years, the La Sagrada Familia Foundation and the city of Barcelona have been working on getting a permit for the building, and it was finally granted on Friday. With this new license, construction can continue, with an estimated completion date of 2026.

Barcelona's Deputy Mayor for Ecology, Urbanism, and Mobility Janet Sanz told NPR it was "a historical anomaly that La Sagrada Familia did not have a license," and the "La Sagrada Familia team knew they could not continue like this and that they would need to pay accordingly." The foundation will pay $5.1 million to Barcelona, and moving forward, the foundation and city will both cover the church's expenses. Catherine Garcia

November 14, 2018

The United States hasn't had an ambassador to Saudi Arabia for 22 months, but President Trump has finally nominated a new one.

Trump on Tuesday announced his intention to nominate retired Army Gen. John Abizaid to the position, NPR reports. Abizaid served in the Army for 34 years and was the head of the United States Central Command from 2003 to 2007, per CNN.

The United States has not actually had an ambassador to Saudi Arabia since January 2017. That posed a bit of a problem when the U.S. faced a diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia in recent months after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkey believes Saudi officials murdered Khashoggi on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, although Saudi Arabia maintains that the killing was carried out without the crown prince's knowledge.

In October, while insisting that the Trump administration was taking the crisis seriously, a State Department spokesperson tiptoed around the issue of the empty ambassadorship; when a reporter asked for the name of the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the spokesperson responded: "I see what you're getting at." Brendan Morrow

October 22, 2018

Since winning the Academy Award for Best Director this year, Guillermo del Toro's career has just kept growing.

The Shape of Water director is set to helm a new stop-motion animated musical version of Pinocchio for Netflix, which will be set in Italy during the rise of fascism, writes The Hollywood Reporter. Del Toro says Pinocchio will be portrayed as an innocent soul who embarks on a journey in a world he does not understand, and along the way learns to understand his uncaring father. Del Toro also said in a statement that he feels a deeper personal connection with Pinocchio than with any other fictional character.

In fact, del Toro has been trying to make this movie for many, many years, but as recently as last November, he said it wasn't happening anymore. Then, a few months later, he won the Oscar for Best Director, and his film The Shape of Water won Best Picture, allowing him to leverage this success into financing his dream project. In his statement, del Toro emphasized that he's excited to direct an animated film for the first time, though he has previously produced stop-motion films like The Book of Life. Del Toro has hired the company that made the puppets for Tim Burton's Corpse Bride to make figurines for Pinocchio, and the Jim Henson Company will produce.

This del Toro film is completely unrelated to the live-action version of Pinocchio that Disney is currently making as part of its new slate of live-action remakes including The Lion King and Aladdin. The Disney version will be directed by Paddington's Paul King. Del Toro's Pinocchio is expected to begin production this fall, while Disney's reportedly won't start shooting until next year, so it looks like Netflix might beat Disney to the punch. Brendan Morrow

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