‘Bye, Felicia’: School bans flip shirt honoring dead seniors

A Mississippi high school has banned students from wearing a class t-shirt that lists the names of three seniors who died this year and the dismissive phrase “Bye, Felicia.”

The Sun Herald of Biloxi reports Pascagoula School Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich on Friday banned the shirts from school property and events. Students on Thursday started receiving the shirts that featured the phrase first used by Ice Cube in the 1999 film “Friday” as a cold way to say goodbye.

Pascagoula High School administrators, staff and students designed the shirts. Rodolfich says the seniors’ names were probably included in an effort to honor them, but were not in the design that had been approved.

He says the school district will be paying for the students to get new senior class shirts.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

Washington Redskins QB Josh Johnson had to learn teammates’ names through ‘Madden’

Washington Redskins quarterback Josh Johnson took his first snaps since the 2013 season Sunday in a blowout loss to the New York Giants.

Johnson, 32, was signed five days before the game to back up Mark Sanchez. The journeyman quarterback admitted to reporters after the loss he had to learn who was on his team by playing the “Madden” video game, according to NBC Sports Washington.

Johnson had to shake off the rust at first upon entering the game but did manage to help Washington put 16 points on the board after the team went three quarters without scoring.

He scored on an 8-yard rushing touchdown in the early stages of the frame, then threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder later. The team went for the two-point conversion after both touchdowns and were successful.

According to ESPN’s Stats & Info, Johnson went six years and 363 days between NFL passes. The longest drought since Doug Flutie went eight years and 277 days between NFL passes.

Johnson’s limited success in the 40-16 loss earned him a starting job for the team’s next game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston gets into heated argument with offensive lineman

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and one of his offensive linemen were seen yelling at each other on the sideline during the team’s 28-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Winston and center Ryan Jensen got into the heated altercation in the second quarter after the center was called for unnecessary roughness. He was also called for holding during the same possession.

Cameras caught the two players jawing at each other and teammates separating them.

“I’ve hurt this team a couple different times this year with stupid, selfish penalties and I’ve got to be more disciplined in that aspect,” Jensen told reporters after the game, according to the Tampa Bay Times, while he called the spat with Winston a “disagreement between brothers.”

“We’re fighting and competing our butts off and when that happens, guys get hot,” he said. “Like I’ve said before, me and Jameis cleared the air right away. He went his way, I went my way. We came back and talked in like two seconds and everything was good.”

Tampa Bay went up 14-3 after the next possession but ended up letting the Saints come back and to win the game.

Kaepernick would reportedly sign with any NFL team — even the Redskins

Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick reportedly would play for the Washington Redskins, or any team, should he get offered a job with three weeks left in the regular season.

Kaepernick, who last played for the San Francisco 49ers, would play for Washington despite the controversy over the team’s logo and name and team owner Dan Snyder’s criticism about players kneeling during the national anthem, sources told Yahoo Sports on Sunday.

“He’s a professional Super Bowl-caliber quarterback and in the best shape of his life and he would play if given the opportunity on any NFL team,” a source told Yahoo Sports.

Kaepernick, who sparked controversy around the league when he decided to kneel during the national anthem in protest of perceived racial injustice across the U.S., has reportedly been working out and staying prepped in ready should an NFL team call his phone.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said last week the team has “discussed” signing Kaepernick internally, but chose to go with Josh Johnson instead to back up March Sanchez. Sanchez hadn’t thrown a pass since 2016 and Johnson since 2011 before both players signed with Washington. Sources told Yahoo Sports the organization never reached out to Kaepernick.

“No call for a job, no call for a tryout, no calls period – nothing,” a source told Yahoo Sports.

The Redskins are 6-7 after Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants. The team is tied for second in the NFC East.

Honduran national in US illegally in hit-and-run that injured teen, cops say

An illegal immigrant is in police custody after seriously injuring a teenage girl in Mississippi in what authorities are calling a Friday night hit-and-run, WLOX reported, citing police.

Authorities in the town of Pass Christian said the hit-and-run occurred downtown during the city’s annual “Christmas in the Pass” celebration. The victim was hit while crossing U.S. 90 to get to the Pass Christian Harbor, The Sun Herald reported.

The victim was then taken to Memorial Hospital in Gulfport but transferred to an Alabama hospital due to the severity of her injuries, Police Chief Tim Hendricks said. Her identity was not released.

Police arrested the suspect shortly after the alleged hit-and-run. He was identified as 33-year-old David Hernandez, a Honduran national who is allegedly in the U.S. illegally, according to the report.

Hernandez was charged with one felony count of leaving the scene of an accident causing serious injury, the report said. A judge set Hernandez’s bond at $200,000.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed a hold on Hernandez, according to The Herald.

Pass Christian is located along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, about 25 miles west of Biloxi.

Illinois county gains $10M for detaining undocumented immigrants

An Illinois county has raked in $10 million in federal funds for its decades-old deal with the government to detain immigrants living in the country illegally, according to a report.

McHenry County signed a bed-rental contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the early 2000s, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The federal government agreed to pay the northwest Illinois county about $7 million for the bed-rental program.

The contract was to expire after 10 years in 2015, but county officials renewed the contract in 2014. According to the contract, ICE pays the county $95 per inmate per day.

By the end of 2018, the program will reportedly bring in more than $10 million, which is up from $8.3 million last year.

McHenry detained an average of 233 inmates daily in fiscal year 2017, up from 167 in 2015, according to data provided by Detention Watch Network, an immigration detention advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

The detention center’s daily average population through Oct. 1 was 270, ICE figures show.

“We still have all kinds of available capacity in our jail, so we’re utilizing that capacity in a manner that makes revenue sense for us,” McHenry County administrator Peter Austin said.

The county also makes additional revenue for transporting detainees, according to Lt. Mike Lukas of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office. Last year, McHenry was paid $450,000.

Critics argue that such a money-making partnership highlights the potential weaponization and monetization of ICE detention.

County board member Carlos Acosta, who was elected in November, questioned whether McHenry county should continue to be involved in such a partnership.

“It’s been a divisive issue because it raises the question, is there a profit motive when the county sheriff is making traffic stops?” Acosta said.

While he acknowledges the money the program generates for the county, Acosta said he’ll push for greater oversight.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Liz Peek: Ocasio-Cortez backs green policies that would hurt the poor and cripple our economy

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez promises that going green – removing all fossil fuels from our energy mix – will “establish economic, social and racial justice in the United States.”

In fact, her proposal would cripple our economy and hurt our poorest citizens.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has admirable passion, but needs some schooling in energy economics. The cost of renewable energy is dropping fast, but is still more expensive in many applications than traditional fossil fuels like coal or oil. That’s one reason that adoption of wind and solar power has been slow, and that many countries, including the United States, underwrite renewables with subsidies and tax credits. The International Energy Agency predicts in its 2018 report that “the share of renewables in meeting global energy demand is expected to grow by one-fifth in the next five years to reach 12.4% in 2023.”

The share of renewables remains low because wind and sun power are effective in producing electricity but not, for instance, in powering automobiles or airplanes. Renewables will generate nearly 30 percent of global electricity in 2023, a big jump from 24 percent in 2017, but will still account for only 3.8 percent of transportation fuel, compared to 3.4 percent in 2018.

More important, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez should know that lower-income and minority communities in the U.S. are disproportionately disadvantaged by higher energy costs. A 2016 study by the National Research Defense Council found that low income households “spend, on average, 7.2 percent of their income on utility bills…That is more than triple the 2.3 percent spent by higher-income households for electricity, heating and cooling.”  Were we to ditch coal, natural gas and oil in favor of higher-cost renewables, electricity prices would soar, especially harming just those folks whom the young progressive says she wants to help.

Evidence of the staggering costs imposed by green policies is provided by other IEA data, which compares electricity costs in different countries. In the United States, the cost of electricity for households earlier this year was $129 per megawatt. In Germany, a country that leapt into renewables with enthusiasm, and imposed hefty taxes to squelch demand for fossil fuels, the cost is $343.59. Does Ms. Ocasio-Cortez really want to impose a near-tripling of electricity costs on Americans?

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez might want to visit France, a sympathetic left-leaning country, which is currently convulsed by people who are really, really angry over recently-enacted green policies of the kind that she might embrace.  President Emmanuel Macron raised taxes on diesel fuel and gasoline, hoping to make driving more expensive and thereby discourage fossil fuel use, setting off the worst rioting that country has seen in a generation.

The lesson for Macron, for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and other policy makers is that people may be concerned about global warming and increasing emissions, but they are considerably more worried about making ends meet. 

It is not the high-income elites who are taking to the streets, breaking store windows and burning cars – it is middle class and blue collar people who think Macron has no sympathy for their travails, for their ever-higher cost of living and, in particular, for the cost of their commute.

Note that 70 percent of the French people support the protests, while at the same time 79 percent of the country, according to a poll conducted last year, fret about climate change.

The lesson for Macron, for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and other policy makers is that people may be concerned about global warming and increasing emissions, but they are considerably more worried about making ends meet.

Polling on the subject bears this out. While a global Pew study found that 54 percent of people in 40 countries thought that climate change was a “very serious problem,” a survey conducted by the UN at about the same time, which elicited almost 7 million responses, showed people ranking climate change the least of their concerns. Global warming came in dead last behind better education, better health care, better job opportunities and thirteen other issues.

Even in the U.S., where 6 of 10 respondents to the Pew poll say their community is already being impacted by climate change, the issue ranks 17th in a list of policy priorities.

Why this disconnect? One reason is that the extreme alarmism from environmentalists has numbed us to the perils of rising emissions. If you are endlessly lectured about how eating meat or driving your Chevy will cause entire populations to be swept away by rising sea levels, it becomes overwhelming. People tune out.

It is also true that some of the wilder predictions of disaster have failed to materialize, leading to profound skepticism. Al Gore’s doomed polar bears, for instance, seem to actually be thriving. According to one source, their numbers are increasing except in one location, where in fact they are challenged by too much sea ice, as opposed to too little.

Because of abundant natural gas displacing coal, the United States is the only major country in which emissions have been dropping over the past decade. We are not the problem. It is China, whose carbon output is already nearly twice that of the U.S. A recent report from the Global Carbon Project blames a predicted rise in worldwide emissions this year on “a rise in coal consumption in China, which accounts for more than 46% of the projected increase in industrial CO2 emissions in 2018.”

The U.S. is blessed with abundant energy, an important competitive advantage. The Trump White House pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord because the demands of that agreement would have destroyed that advantage and hobbled our growth, while demanding virtually no commitments from China.

Americans are sensible people. We want clean air and water, and we want to curtail the carbon emissions that appear a danger to our world. But, we do not want to sacrifice our economic wellbeing on the altar of climate dogma. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should be careful before promoting policies that would build a cleaner planet on the backs of American workers.

Church renovation lifts Christmas spirit in Bethlehem

A historic renovation of the Church of the Nativity is lifting spirits in the biblical town of Bethlehem ahead of Christmas, offering visitors a look at ancient mosaics and columns that have been restored to their original glory for the first time in 600 years.

City officials hope the renovation at the traditional birthplace of Jesus will boost tourism and a weak economy in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and perhaps slow a decades-long drain of the Christian population from the lands where the faith was born.

“Christians are leaving the Holy Land due to the lack of peace and economic hardships and we are struggling to keep them in their homeland,” said Bethlehem Mayor Anton Salman. “This is one of the ways.”

The renovation started in 2013, a year after UNESCO declared the church a world heritage site, and is expected to be completed by the end of next year. The Palestinian Authority formed a committee of local Christian leaders to oversee the renovation and contracted an Italian company to carry out the project.

Ziad al-Bandak, the committee head, said it has collected $14 million out of $17 million needed. Roughly half of the funding has come from the Palestinian Authority and local Muslim and Christian businesses, and the rest from foreign donors.

“It has become such a beautiful church,” he said. “Every Christian in the world would love to see it now.”

One of Christianity’s most sacred shrines, the church was built in the 4th century by Saint Helena over a cave where the Virgin Mary is said to have given birth. What pilgrims mostly see today is the basilica built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, who ruled from A.D. 527 to 565.

Neglected for decades before the renovation, the roof of the church was leaking, windows were broken, mosaics were covered in grime and walls and columns were damaged.

After five years of work, it has been transformed.

Emad Nassar, a Palestinian engineer overseeing the renovations, said the project started with the ceiling. Roughly 10 percent of the beams were replaced with wood imported from old destroyed churches in Italy, windows were fixed, and outside stones and walls were renovated.

Perhaps the biggest challenge has been repairing the badly damaged 2,000 square meter (21,500 square foot) wall mosaic. So far, 120 square meters (1,292 square feet) have been restored, depicting images of Christ and Christian saints. Workers are also restoring a floor mosaic.

The restoration process is meticulous and painstaking. As Nassar spoke, three Italian workers were cleaning a mosaic with tiny brushes and covering them with protective material.

“In the coming year, we are going to continue renovating the columns, the floor mosaic, the tiles and the front yard floor,” Nassar said.

The delicate relations between the Holy Land’s major Christian denominations have factored into the poor condition of the church. The Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches have traditionally viewed each other with deep suspicion.

Under a 19th-century agreement called the Status Quo, each denomination has its own areas and responsibilities. But over the years, turf battles have erupted into arguments and even fistfights among clergymen.

Father Samour, a 70-year-old Greek Orthodox clergyman who has served at the church for nearly half a century, said the Palestinian Authority managed to get the rival churches on board.

The construction did not touch the altar crypt with the 14-point silver star marking the spot where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus was born. Although it also needs renovation, the churches have not yet reached an agreement on the crypt.

Bethlehem is heavily dependent on Christmas tourism, with hotels, restaurants and gift stores doing much of their business during the short holiday season. The renovated church has become a popular destination.

“The mosaic on the walls is very beautiful, and the renovation is very impressive,” said Sandris Gradins, a 31-year-old tourist from Latvia.

After dipping in 2015 and 2016, tourism has seen a comeback in the past two years, officials say. The mayor said he expects 1.2 million visitors this year.

Tourism Minister Rula Maayah said she is working with Christian officials to expand visiting hours to accommodate the long lines.

An ambitious program has been set up for Christmas this year, she said. The municipality recently hosted representatives of 14 twin cities from around the world for a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Foreign musicians performed Christmas songs during the event.

Fifteen European countries participated in a Christmas market in the front yard of the church. The municipality also has been building a Christmas village for children.

But whether the city’s efforts can stop the long-term outflow of Bethlehem’s Christians remains to be seen. As elsewhere in the Arab world, the local Christian community has struggled for decades, escaping conflict and economic troubles in search of better opportunities abroad.

In the Holy Land, Israel’s half-century-old occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and more than a decade of rule by the Islamic militant group Hamas in Gaza have significantly worsened the situation.

A 2017 census in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem counted just under 47,000 Palestinian Christians, or about 1 percent of a Palestinian population of close to 4.8 million. Twenty years earlier, Christians still made up more than 1.7 percent of the Palestinian population, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

Roughly half of Palestinian Christians live in the Bethlehem area, where their share of the population has also declined significantly.

Wadie Abunassar, a senior adviser to church leaders in the Holy Land, said the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank has treated Christians well, but that lack of progress toward a resolution with Israel and Palestinian statehood have driven emigration.

Despite lack of hope, he urged Christians to stay.

“This is our homeland. We are called to be witnesses for Jesus in his homeland,” he said. “This is a great privilege, which most Christians in the world don’t have.”

Iraq marks anniversary of victory over Islamic State

Iraq on Monday celebrated the anniversary of its costly victory over the Islamic State group, which has lost virtually all the territory it once held but still carries out sporadic attacks.

The government declared victory last December after a grueling three-year war in which tens of thousands of people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. Entire towns and neighborhoods were reduced to rubble in the fighting.

The government declared Monday a national holiday, and a moment of silence is planned for later in the day. Checkpoints in the capital were decorated with Iraqi flags and balloons, as security forces patrolled the streets playing patriotic music.

As part of the celebrations, authorities plan to reopen parts of Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone — home to key government offices and embassies — to the public. The move is billed as an act of transparency following protests against corruption and poor public services.

The Islamic State group, which traces its roots back to the insurgency that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, swept into Iraq from neighboring Syria in the summer of 2014. It carved out a self-styled caliphate across a third of both countries, imposing a harsh form of Islamic rule and massacring its opponents. The group abducted thousands of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority and forced them into sexual slavery.

Iraqi troops, along with Iranian-backed paramilitary groups and a U.S.-led coalition, eventually drove the group from all the territory it once held in Iraq, including in the climactic battle for Mosul, the country’s second-largest city. IS still holds a small pocket of territory in Syria, near the Iraqi border.

Iraq is still grappling with the legacy of the extremist group’s brutal rule.

More than 1.8 million Iraqis remain displaced across the country, and a staggering 8 million require some form of humanitarian aid, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council. Those with suspected links to IS have been rejected by their communities, while thousands of children fathered by IS militants — including those born to enslaved Yazidi women — are still unrecognized by the state.

Nearly two-thirds of displaced people say they are unwilling or unable to return home in the next year, with more than half saying their homes were damaged or destroyed, said the aid group.

“If this is what ‘victory’ looks like, then there is little to celebrate for millions of Iraqis still haunted by the crimes of the IS and the long war to eliminate it,” said Norwegian Refugee Council Secretary General Jan Egeland. “They have largely been forgotten by their own government and the international community.”

Famous musclebound kangaroo named Roger dead at 12: report

The adorable red male hit the headlines in 2015 when photos of his muscly body and enormous biceps circulated online.

Roger was so ripped he could crush metal buckets with his paws.

While his imposing height of 2m and ripped muscles impressed fans, they also warmed to his troubled story.

Roger was rescued by Chris Barnes, the owner of the Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs, Australia from his dead mum’s pouch.

He was nursed back to health and was able to grow into an imposing alpha male on the ranch.

The Sanctuary announced Roger’s death at the age of 12 in a Facebook post.

It wrote: “Farewell our darling Roger.

“Sadly Roger has passed away of old age. He lived a lovely long life and was loved by millions around the world.

“We will always love you and miss you Roger.”

The post has picked up nearly 2,000 comments and been shared over 1,300 times.

The alpha male characteristics of Roger would have been highly prized in the kangaroo world as fighting between them, especially males in common.

Dominant males will be able to get the pick of the females with smaller, weaker males seemingly being subservient.

Fights among males frequently breakout though, usually connected to a female or a drinking spot with the two animals engaging in ‘boxing’ as they fight for dominance.

Thousands commented online, expressing their sadness at the news.

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