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Pope Francis Issues Apology for “Faggotness” Comment

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Pope Francis Slams UN Calls for Major Reforms
Pope Francis addresses the faithful: Reuters Image

Pope Francis, who has been widely quoted as using a highly disparaging term Faggotness to characterize gays in the seminary, did not intend to use homophobic terminology and apologized to anyone who was affected by it, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

“The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he apologises to those who felt offended by the use of a term reported by others,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in an emailed statement.

On Monday, Italian media reported that Francis used the Italian term frociaggine, which roughly translates as “faggotness” or “faggotry,” when telling Italian bishops that he still opposed admitting gay persons to the priesthood.

The Italian political gossip website Dagospia was the first to publish the alleged event, which occurred on May 20 when the pontiff met with Italian bishops privately.

Bruni claimed Francis was “aware” of the reports.

The Vatican spokesman emphasized the pope’s commitment to a welcoming Church for all, where “nobody is useless, nobody is superfluous, (where) there is room for everyone.”

Francis, 87, has been credited with making significant advances to the LGBT community over his 11-year papacy, but his reported words shocked and alarmed even his fans.

In 2013, at the outset of his papacy, Francis famously said: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” Last year, he permitted priests to bless members of same-sex marriages, which sparked a significant conservative outcry.

Homosexuals in the Clergy

Homosexuality has long been a difficult issue in religious organizations. Many churches have severe policies against openly gay clergy members. However, several faiths are welcoming LGBTQ+ people into leadership positions.

For many years, LGBT clergy had to be discreet in order to preserve their jobs. The Catholic Church considers homosexual actions “intrinsically disordered” and prohibits openly gay persons from becoming priests. Recently, some Catholic dioceses expelled LGBTQ+ clergy who married partners.

Protestant churches take different viewpoints. Liberal denominations, like the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, and some Lutheran synods, allow openly gay clergy. More conservative organizations, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, forbid it.

High-profile examples have pushed this argument to the forefront. In 2021, the United Methodist Church faced a rift on whether to continue its LGBTQ+ clergy ban. The election of openly lesbian Bishop Karen Oliveto in 2016 outraged conservatives.

As society advances in LGBTQ+ rights, churches are divided on whether to follow suit. Supporters say that homosexuality is natural and not sinful. Critics claim that the Bible forbids gay activity. The fight concerning LGBTQ+ clergy is likely to last for years.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis is the 266th pope of the Catholic Church and current head of the Holy See. Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he’s the first Jesuit pope and first from the Americas.

Francis has emphasized social outreach, humility, and concern for the poor during his papacy. He’s spoken on issues like climate change, economic inequality, and sexual abuse within the Church. Despite some controversy, Francis remains a widely popular figure, known for his humble nature and call to service.

Source: Reuters

 

 

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Too Soon For Comedy? After Attempted Assassination Of Trump, US Politics Feel Anything But Funny

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Political jokes: is it too soon?

Many quarters responded with a loud yes at midweek, days after an assassination attempt on Republican former President Donald Trump shook the nation over decades of political violence in the United States.

Several late-night shows that rely on political humor instantly modified their plans, with Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” canceling its Monday show and intending to broadcast from the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee this week. Its host, Jon Stewart, and his guests gave sad monologues.

By Tuesday, the comic rock duo Tenacious D, comprised of Jack Black and Kyle Gass, had canceled the remainder of their global tour “and all future creative plans” after Gass proclaimed onstage his birthday wish: “Don’t miss next time.” Gass apologized.

Too Soon For Comedy? After Attempted Assassination Of Trump, US Politics Feel Anything But Funny

Democratic President Joe Biden, no stranger to criticizing Trump, contacted his wounded competitor, paused his political advertisements and messaging, and urged the country to “cool” the rhetoric.

So, if comedy is tragedy plus time, when is joking acceptable again? And who gives a thumbs up, given that the shooter who targeted Trump also killed former fire chief Corey Comperatore while protecting his family?

The attempted assassination on Saturday, or any of the bloodshed that has afflicted the United States since its inception, is not funny. Trump was smacked in the ear while speaking to rallygoers in Pennsylvania. A Trump supporter and the gunman were dead, while two onlookers were injured. The attack sparked severe concerns about security shortcomings. It was the most recent example of political violence in America, where attacks on politicians date back to at least 1798 when two legislators from opposite parties brawled in the United States House.

Other examples abound in history texts, but the list from this century is particularly striking. Former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords, D, was shot in the head in 2011. Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the current House majority leader, was shot and badly injured in 2017. On January 6, 2021, a mob of Trump supporters invaded the US Capitol, preventing Congress from certifying Biden’s election. Paul Pelosi was bludgeoned at his home in 2022 by a guy looking for his wife, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In addition to that, unwavering fears about Biden’s fitness for office following his catastrophic debate performance, Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts, and American politics in 2024 appear anything but hilarious.

However, political comedy is as old as politics and administration.

It softens the impact of democratic decisions and is a powerful tool for politicians aiming to alleviate or increase concerns about themselves or their opponents. And in recent years, Trump has been the focus of more jokes than anyone else. According to a 2020 study by George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs, late-night hosts made 97% of their jokes about Trump.

“It’s never too soon, unless it’s not funny,” Alonzo Bodden, a 31-year-old stand-up comedian, said in a phone interview Wednesday. He is not a Trump supporter but stated that comedians “will always make it funny no matter what happens.” That is what we do. “It is how we communicate.”

“In this case, Donald Trump is such a character and the fact that he wasn’t killed, the jokes started immediately,” said Bodden. “And I don’t believe he minds. He’s one of those persons who is always happy to be mentioned.”

Humor humanizes large figures.
Perhaps most effectively, political humor can make arrogant leaders appear more human or at least self-conscious.

Consider “covfefe,” Trump’s strange middle-of-the-night tweet in 2017 that went viral, prompting Jimmy Kimmel to despair that he’ll never write something funnier. “Make the Pie Higher,” a poem by late Washington Post cartoonist Richard Thompson, was composed solely of President George W. Bush’s botched words and was published for his inauguration in 2001.

“It is a very complicated economic point I was making there,” Bush said with a smirk at the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner a few months later. “Believe me, what this country needs is taller pie.”

Before the debate, Biden attempted to use humor to bring the age issue to the forefront, but it became evident that the concern was more about his cognitive ability. “I know I’m 198 years old,” Biden declared, to wild laughter and clapping.

 

Too Soon For Comedy? After Attempted Assassination Of Trump, US Politics Feel Anything But Funny

Humor is such an effective campaign tactic that candidates flock to guest appearances on late-night shows, which have risen in political prominence. However, following the assassination, a pause settled over everything, as indicated by Stewart’s serious address on Monday.

“None of us knows what’s going to happen next other than there will be another tragedy in this country, self-inflicted by us to us, and then we’ll have this feeling again,” Stewart told the crowd.

“The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert recalled his astonishment at the attack, joy that Trump had survived, and “grief for my great country.”

“Though I could just as easily start the show moaning on the floor,” he laughed, “because how many times do we need to learn the lesson that violence has no role in our politics?”

As is customary for social media, it was acting more freely. “I think it’s ironic that Trump almost died from a gun today because he was too far right-leaning,” comedian Drew Lynch remarked on YouTube. “Alright. That’s all I have. I believe my neighbors might be listening.”

SOURCE | AP

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After Reshaping Las Vegas, The Mirage To Be Reinvented As Part Of A Massive Hard Rock Makeover

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The Mirage | AP News Image

LAS VEGAS — The Mirage will disappear from the Las Vegas Strip.

The famed tropical island-themed hotel-casino opened in 1989 with a fire-spewing volcano outside and Siegfried & Roy’s lions and dolphins within, will close its doors on Wednesday.

Frenzied final days have seen standing-room crowds wagering to win $1.6 million in slot machine progressive jackpot winnings that state regulations need to be distributed before the lights go off and the site is transformed completely.

The guest rooms are already unoccupied. The Beatles-themed Cirque du Soleil show “Love” ended its 18-year run earlier this month. When the gamblers go, only memories of former casino mogul Steve Wynn’s hotel, which revolutionized the casino resort sector, will remain.

After Reshaping Las Vegas, The Mirage To Be Reinvented As Part Of A Massive Hard Rock Makeover

“Las Vegas always reinvents itself,” said Michael Green, a history professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, whose father dealt blackjack for decades at casinos such as the now-demolished Stardust and Showboat. “The Mirage is no longer state-of-the-art.”

New Operators Hard Rock International and Florida-based Seminole Gaming intend to add 600 rooms to 3,044 in a bright new guitar-shaped hotel where the sidewalk volcano rumbles and gushes nightly. Renderings show guitar string-like beams rising from a purple 660-foot (201-meter) tower into the night sky.

“The Mirage was a transcendent property, changing the landscape of Las Vegas,” said Joe Lupo, The Mirage’s president, who will remain at the new resort. “We are confident that Hard Rock Las Vegas will do the same in 2027.”

There won’t be a demolition show like the now-demolished Tropicana casino hotel several blocks down the Strip. That 22-story building will be demolished later this year and replaced before 2028 by a baseball stadium that will serve as the home field for the relocated MLB Oakland A’s.

Some of the 127 employees who have worked at The Mirage since its inception planned to mark its end with Lupo; Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and CEO of Seminole Gaming; and Alan Feldman, a longtime MGM Resorts casino executive who is now a fellow at the gambling institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Feldman was Wynn’s initial spokesperson for the new resort.

“The doors opened to a crush of humanity, and it stayed like that for days,” Feldman recalled in an interview. “It’s difficult to describe how The Mirage transformed. One of the things was that Las Vegas expanded beyond Elvis, showgirls, round beds, and gambling.

It was more than just a gambling hall; it cost $630 million. It was the world’s biggest hotel at the time. Guests were greeted with a piña colada smell and two bronze mermaid statues on their way to the check-in desk, which featured a large shark and reef fish tank.

It boasted glamorous boutiques, celebrity-chef restaurants, and theater-sized showrooms featuring performers such as Johnny Mathis, Kenny Rogers, and Dolly Parton.

“Instead of neon, a garden of dozens of rich Canary Island palm trees and a cool refreshing waterfall,” Wynn said in a statement posted on Monday by his Las Vegas attorney, Donald Campbell. Wynn entitled it “An Homage to Lady Mirage.”

Despite competition from casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and the expansion of tribal gaming in California, Wynn stated that The Mirage was the first new hotel built in Las Vegas in years. Its completion resulted in a virtual doubling of resort capacity over the next decade, with more than 30,000 hotel rooms, making Las Vegas one of the fastest-expanding towns in America.

“To call The Mirage a catalyst would be an understatement,” Wynn said.

New resorts 2000 included Excalibur, Luxor, Treasure Island, MGM Grand, New York-New York, Monte Carlo, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Venetian, and Paris Las Vegas. Many were funded using Wall Street bonds. Wynn purchased and demolished the 50-year-old Desert Inn to construct and operate his eponymous Wynn Resort in 2005.

Wynn, now 82 and residing in Florida, paid a $10 million punishment to Nevada casino authorities last year and severed connections with the business he helped define to resolve a years-long legal battle sparked by newspaper revelations in 2018 that he sexually harassed or abused several women at his hotels. He has consistently refuted the claims against him.

After Reshaping Las Vegas, The Mirage To Be Reinvented As Part Of A Massive Hard Rock Makeover

Feldman described The Mirage’s architecture as “an unusual and unexpected place, where people wondered, ‘How do you have all this in the middle of the desert?'”

Bo Bernhard, head of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas International Gaming Institute, investigates the emergence of the “fun economy” worldwide. He claimed that the Mirage provided Las Vegas with an exportable commodity, similar to Detroit automobiles, and established a precedent for resort building in Singapore and Sydney.

The Seminole Tribe purchased the Hard Rock brand in 2007, becoming the first Native American operator in the lucrative and competitive Las Vegas Boulevard sector. The tribe also runs seven casinos in Florida and controls the Hard Rock Hotel & Casinos chain, which has locations in 76 countries. 2016, it obtained the naming rights for Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

An off-strip former Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas was owned independently. In 2018, a company led by billionaire Richard Branson, creator of the Virgin Company, paid approximately $500 million to buy the hotel-casino from a Toronto investment behemoth. It underwent renovations and reopened in 2021 as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

SOURCE – (AP)

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China Tries To Go For 8-For-8 Sweep In Diving Gold At The Paris Olympics

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China | AP news Image

Chinese divers won seven of eight gold medals at the previous Olympics in Tokyo, making it one of the best performances in Olympic history.

More is predicted this time in Paris.

China Tries To Go For 8-For-8 Sweep In Diving Gold At The Paris Olympics

China has dominated diving for decades. However, it has never completed the elusive gold medal sweep at the Games. In a recent article, the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official publication, called this lapse “regrettable”.

How is that for pressure?

“I hope that all of us can stand on the top of the podium,” Tokyo gold medalist Quan Hongchan said in an interview with state media.

They might, and the evidence is already startling.

China has won 47 out of 64 gold medals, dating back to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, when it earned its first diving gold. Add to that 23 silver and 10 bronze. If you start counting from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China has won 27 of 32 gold medals.

That’s almost perfect, but someone always spoils the party, such as American David Boudia, Australian Matthew Mitcham, British Tom Daley, or Russian Ilya Zakharov.

The People’s Daily called the team to “launch an all-out bid this time for gold medals in all diving events.”

Three years ago, at 14, Quan won gold on the 10-meter platform. Teammate Chen Yuxi, who won gold in synchro on the platform, was only 15. Both have returned and are most likely in separate classes.

Wang Zongyuan, the silver medalist on the 3-meter springboard in Tokyo behind teammate Xie Siyi, is expected to be the favorite in Paris.

The American Challenge
Drew Johansen will coach the United States diving team for the fourth consecutive Olympics. Wenbo Chen, the University of Minnesota’s Chinese-born coach, assists the head coach at Indiana University. Purdue coach David Boudia, who won an Olympic gold medal on the platform in 2012, is also on the staff.

Three Tokyo silver medalists are back: Andrew Capobianco, Jessica Parratto, and Delaney Schnell. They all reached the podium in synchronized events, which may provide the best opportunities for Americans and others.

Parratto will dive again with Schnell on the 10-meter synchronized platform while Capobianco is on the 3-meter springboard. He did not qualify for synchronized. Schnell and Daryn Wright will compete on the platform.

“The world has been catching up to the Chinese in all the events except for women’s platform,” Johansen told reporters. “Chinese women on the tower are still way ahead of the world.”

Sarah Bacon and Kassidy Cook have a chance in the 3-meter synchronized springboard, while Bacon and Alison Gibson should compete as soloists.

Carson Tyler is the new name to watch in both the 10-meter platform and the 3-meter springboard, a rare in both disciplines and reminiscent of Greg Louganis’ double-double gold medals in 1984 and 1988.

“Carson has shown up as a great mental performer,” Johansen added.

“We’ve managed to beat China in certain events over the years and I feel like some parity has come to the sport,” he said afterward. “We have been hovering around those gold medals and points away from getting them.”

According to Johansen, part of the objective is to create pressure on the Chinese by attempting more difficult dives that, if completed successfully, will earn them more points.

“It’s a risk-reward game,” he explained.

The Mental Game
Johansen praises Xu Yiming, who taught Chinese Olympic divers from the mid-1980s to the 2000s, for sharing his technical expertise with the rest of the globe. Johansen considers Xu a mentor from their time together while Johansen was coaching at Duke University.

China Tries To Go For 8-For-8 Sweep In Diving Gold At The Paris Olympics

“He taught me a lot of their physical techniques right after he retired,” she said.

After incorporating this knowledge, the next plateau is mental conditioning.

“I physically couldn’t train them any better,” he told me. “I didn’t know anyone who was doing it better. The only way I could help my athletes succeed was to mentally prepare them, which I didn’t know how to do.

Johansen says he’s lately started creating a “performance think tank” to educate mental focus and sports psychology. Without naming names, he stated that the team comprises a Navy SEAL, a book author, and others who practice executing under pressure.

The program was launched only a few months ago and includes Paris, but the primary focus is on the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

“We acquired China’s physical skills, but if we want to beat them, we must also overcome them intellectually. “I’m convinced of that,” Johansen stated. “We have an advantage over the Chinese if we can be mentally stronger and better performers.”

SOURCE | AP

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