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3 Vehicles Owned by Elvis Presley Going up for Auction

Elvis Presley fans can take to the road in his personal stretch limousine, on his last motorcycle or in a pickup truck if they have the money, an auction house announced Wednesday.

Kruse GWS Auctions said the items will be part of its Artifacts of Hollywood auction on Aug. 31.

Presley drove the white-on-white 1973 Lincoln Continental stretch many times around Memphis, Tennessee, Kruse said. It features an old-school TV and other amenities. There are photos showing “the King” driving the car he was in when he stopped at a car accident in Memphis in 1976.

The auction house said a 1976 Harley Davidson FLH 1200 Electra Glide motorcycle was the last motorcycle Presley ever purchased. He transported it from California to Memphis and sold it 90 days before he died in 1977 at age 42. The Harley has been on display at the Pioneer Auto Museum in Murdo, South Dakota, since the late 1980s.

The third Presley vehicle is one of three GMC pickups that Presley purchased in 1967 for his Circle G Ranch in Mississippi. Two years later, his father, Vernon, sold them back to the same dealership, the auction house said. It has undergone a total restoration.

 

Beyonce Drops New Original Song From ‘The Lion King’

Beyonce has dropped a new original song from Disney’s live-action “Lion King.”

The song, “Spirit,” was released Tuesday and should get an Academy-Award push for Academy Award consideration.

The tune comes at a pivotal moment for Nala, the character voiced by Beyonce, in the film that comes out July 18. She also co-wrote the song.

It’s part of an album called “The Lion King: The Gift” that Beyonce is executive producing and performing on along with other artists. It will be released digitally July 11, with the physical album coming July 19.

The collection is a companion to the main “Lion King” soundtrack, which consists mostly of songs from the animated film, along with a new number from Elton John and Tim Rice, who wrote the songs for the original.   

Demonstrations in Hong Kong to Continue as Protesters Call For Chief Executive to Do More

Demonstrations in Hong Kong are set to continue after protest leaders denounced Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s reluctance to withdraw a bill that would facilitate extradition to mainland China and her decision to not open an investigation into police conduct.  

Lam, who has characterized her government’s action surrounding the bill as a “complete failure,” declared the controversial extradition bill “dead” on Tuesday, after weeks of protests gripped the nation.   

Lam’s latest actions have failed to appease protestors, who seek to see the bill formally withdrawn.  

“We cannot find the word dead in any of the laws in Hong Kong or in any legal proceedings in the Legislative Council,” said Bonnie Leung, the vice-convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, an organization that worked to mobilize protestors against the extradition bill.

Many protestors worry that the government will attempt to pass the extradition bill at a later date.

Lam has attempted to reassure critics, telling reporters at a press conference that “there is no such plan” to push through the bill in the future.

Activists have also criticized Lam for not opening an independent investigation into the conduct of police officers during the protests.

“How can the government tell us that we should preserve our rule of law, when [Lam] herself does not use the principle without actually speaking to them directly,” Jimmy Sham, another CHRF leader, said in a joint statement with Leung.
 
Lam said that her decision not to withdraw the bill has “nothing to do with [her] own pride or arrogance,” calling the decisions “practical”.

“Give us the time and room for us to take Hong Kong out of the current impasse,” she said.

Joshua Wong, another activist in Hong Kong, also called for Lam to cease prosecution for activists and investigate police conduct.

“As former Chief Justice Andrew Li pointed out today, an independent inquiry is a necessary move to solve the current governance crisis,” he said.

“She has to stop prosecuting activists who participated in the protests,” he later wrote.

 

Biden and Wife Made More Than $15M After Leaving Office

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, earned more than $15 million in the two years after Biden left government in early 2017, according to tax records released by his campaign on Tuesday.

The majority of their income came from speaking engagements and payments for two books written by Biden, a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

The former U.S. senator from Delaware served as Barack Obama’s vice president for eight years, leaving office in January 2017 after the election of Republican President Donald Trump.

According to federal and state tax returns, the Bidens earned about $11 million in 2017 and $4.58 million in 2018.

About $13.2 million of that was attributable to book payments.

Biden earned more than $775,000 in salary as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania in 2017 and 2018.

The Biden campaign released a financial disclosure form mandated for presidential candidates, which provided details of his speaking engagements and book events from Jan. 1, 2018, to May 31, 2019.

Former Vice President Joe Biden takes photos with supporters following the first rally of his 2020 campaign, May 4, 2019 in Columbia, S.C.

The form shows that Biden, who likes to refer to himself as “Middle-Class Joe” on the campaign trail, was regularly paid a six-figure fee for speaking events, many at private universities such as Drew University, where he was paid $190,000, and Vanderbilt University, where he received $180,000.

Last October, Biden received $182,679 for speaking to the Economic Club of Southwest Michigan. In that speech, Biden drew flak from some Democrats for praising Republican U.S. Representative Fred Upton shortly before the 2018 congressional elections.

Most of Biden’s book events and speaking events took place at theaters and auditoriums, but two events were handled through Creative Artists Agency’s Premium Experience – which specializes in “corporate hospitality” events. For a CAA book tour event in 2017, Biden was paid $234,000.

The campaign did not provide any detailed information about Biden’s speaking engagements in 2017.

According to the couple’s tax returns, they paid $3.7 million in federal taxes in 2017 and donated about $1 million to charity. In 2018, they paid $1.5 million in federal taxes and donated about $275,000 to charity.

More Than 20 Reportedly Killed in Papua New Guinea Violence

More than 20 people including pregnant women and children have been killed in recent tribal violence in Papua New Guinea, media reported on Wednesday.

The death toll and dates of the violence in the remote highland province of Hela varied in reports by Australian Broadcasting Corp. and the Post-Courier newspaper.

Hela Gov. Philip Undialu told ABC the latest violence was on Monday when 16 people including women and children died at the village of Karida.

The killings were probably retaliation for an earlier attack that left around seven dead, Undialu said.

“This has escalated into the massacre of innocent women and kids,” Undialu said.

The Post-Courier, based in the South Pacific island nation’s capital Port Moresby, reported as many as 24 people were killed in the villages of Karida and Peta since Saturday.

Six people had been ambushed and killed near Peta on Saturday, Hela Police Chief Inspector Teddy Augwi told the newspaper.

The victims’ relatives retaliated with rifles the next day, killing between 16 and 18 people at Karida, including pregnant women, he said.
“This is not a tribal fight where the opposing villagers face each other on field,” Augwi told the newspaper. “This is a fight in guerrilla warfare, meaning they play hide-and-seek and ambush their enemies.”

Many villagers had fled the violence, Hela Administrator William Bando told the newspaper.

It was not immediately clear if any suspects had been arrested. Papua New Guinea Police spokesman Superintendent Dominic Kakas did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Tribal violence is common in Papua New Guinea’s interior, where villagers avenge relatives in retaliation known as payback.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape said those responsible for the fatal attacks could face the death penalty, ABC reported.

The prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. 

Mayflower Replica to Sail for 400th Anniversary of Voyage

A replica of the Mayflower will sail to Boston as part of commemorations of the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing in Massachusetts.

Organizers say that the Mayflower II will be on display next year at the Charlestown Navy Yard from May 14 to May 19, and that visitors will have an opportunity to board the ship for free.

The vessel has been undergoing an $11.2 million restoration at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut since 2016.

The original Mayflower was lost to history after returning to England following its famous 1620 voyage to the New World.

The full-scale replica ship was built in England in the 1950s and has been berthed in Plymouth Harbor.

Plans are to take it back to Plymouth following the Mayflower Sails 2020 event. 

Turkish NBA Player Enes Kanter Is A Wanted Man In Turkey

Turkish-born NBA basketball player Enes Kanter is a wanted man by Turkey, which has revoked his passport and considers him a terrorist for his association with an exiled spiritual leader accused of fomenting a 2016 coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  A longtime critic of Erdogan, Kanter has had his life threatened and sleeps with a panic button next to his bed.  But the basketball star remains focused on his sport and career, despite these hardships, as VOA’s Saba Shah Khan reports.

Widespread Obesity Makes Trump’s Military Recruitment Goals a Challenge

As he reveled in the huge display of military might during last week’s Independence Day celebration on the National Mall, U.S. President Donald Trump encouraged Americans to enlist in the military.

“To young Americans across our country, now is your chance to join our military and make a truly great statement in life, and you should do it,” Trump said in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House the following day, Trump predicted that his display would boost military enlistment. “Based on that, we’re going to have a lot of people joining our military,” he said.

However, with a 2016 Department of Defense report finding that nearly three-quarters of young Americans are unfit to serve in America’s military, Trump’s encouragement and military display may not be enough to reverse declining military recruitment.

President Donald Trump applauds during an Independence Day celebration in front of the Lincoln Memorial, July 4, 2019, in Washington.

According to the Department of Defense, the Navy, Marines, and Air Force met their recruiting goals in 2018, but the Army, the military’s largest branch, fell more than 6,500 recruits short – about 8% below its target of 76,500. 

A 2018 report by Mission: Readiness, a group of 750 retired military professionals that makes policy recommendations to increase the percentage of young Americans eligible to serve in the military, found that 71% of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 fail to meet all of the basic requirements for military service. 

The biggest disqualifier is obesity, with roughly 31% of American youths disqualified because they are overweight. Other factors explaining the shortage of eligible recruits are inadequate education, criminal history and drug use. According to Army Major Gen. (Ret.) Allen Youngman, a member of Mission: Readiness, almost 25% of high school graduates are unable to pass the basic military entrance exams, which not only disqualifies them from technical positions within the service but also from military service as a whole.

Not only is the pool of eligible recruits shrinking, but the number of young Americans interested in military careers is dropping as well, the report found. This is partly the result of a strong national economy, since plentiful civilian jobs may make military careers seem less appealing, according to Youngman.

As the number of people serving in the military declines, the problem is likely to get worse. “The number of what we call influencers in a young person’s life – people who may have had military service of their own who would serve as a role model or even encourage a young person to consider military service – is down because the number of persons who participate in the military over the years has gone down,” said  Youngman. The U.S. Army Recruiting Command reports that 79% of recruits have a relative who also served in the military.

Relaxing education or criminal history standards in order to enlarge the recruiting pool in light of the obesity issue isn’t an option, said General Youngman. “The position today is that the standards are the standards. We’ve just got to work harder to find young people who can meet them.”

However, the trends are not encouraging. 

By age two, 14% of American children are already considered obese, and the proportion of overweight or obese children increases with age, the Mission: Readiness report finds. In the 16-19 age group, 42% of Americans are overweight. These statistics carry over into adulthood, with 70% of overweight teens becoming overweight or obese adults.

The problem is especially acute in southern states, which provide a disproportionately large percentage of military recruits, but also have some of the highest rates of obesity in the nation.

This Tuesday, April 3, 2018 photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in New York.

Efforts are under way to improve the health of America’s youth.

As an example, Youngman cited the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which provides improved nutrition guidelines for school lunches. The program is the latest in a series of initiatives beginning with the National School Lunch Program in 1946.

“A lot of people don’t realize that the School Lunch Program started right after World War II as a national security program,” General Youngman said. “There was such concern about the overwhelming numbers of young people who were not qualified for military service in World War II because they grew up during the Great Depression and they had all sorts of nutrition issues that resulted in health issues later on.”

In the wake of the Great Depression, the goal of the School Lunch Program was to ensure that kids got enough calories from their school lunches. Today, calories are in general much easier to come by, so modern school lunch programs focus on helping students make healthier food choices. A 2014 study of 1,030 elementary-school children found that students selected 23% more fruit for their lunches and ate 16% more vegetables after the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

Programs that seek to improve nutrition for school-aged children as well as encourage active lifestyles are important not only for military readiness, but also for society as a whole.

“There are some bright spots out there, but as a nation we still have a long way to go,” Youngman said.

Big Earthquakes Raise Interest in West Coast Warning System

The powerful Mojave Desert earthquakes that rocked California ended a years-long lull in major seismic activity and raised new interest in an early warning system being developed for the West Coast.

The ShakeAlert system is substantially built in California and overall is about 55% complete, with much of the remaining installation of seismic sensor stations to be done in the Pacific Northwest, said Robert de Groot of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Areas that have the appropriate number of sensors include Southern California, San Francisco Bay Area and the Seattle-Tacoma region, de Groot said.

The system does not predict earthquakes. Rather, it detects that an earthquake is occurring, rapidly calculates expected intensity levels and sends out alerts that may give warnings ranging from several seconds to perhaps a minute before potentially damaging shaking hits locations away from the epicenter.

Depending on the distance, that could be enough time to automatically slow trains, stop industrial machines, start generators, pull a surgical knife away from a patient or tell students to put the “drop, cover and hold” drill into action.

For alerts to be useful, delivery has to be timely, and that’s a problem with current cellphone technology. For cellphone delivery, the USGS ultimately intends to use the same system that delivers Amber Alerts, sending signals to everyone in reach of cellphone towers in defined areas where damaging shaking is expected. 

Pilot programs involving select users have been underway for several years. In October, the USGS announced the system was ready to be used broadly by businesses, utilities, schools and other entities following a software update that reduced problems such as false alerts typically caused by a big quake somewhere in the world being misidentified as a local quake.

Alexandria Johnson, at right, whose home was damaged by an earthquake, prays with fellow congregants including Sara Smith, left, in the aftermath of an earthquake at the Christian Fellowship of Trona Sunday, July 7, 2019, in Trona, Calif.

Currently, the only mass public notification is possible through a mobile app developed for the city of Los Angeles and functional only within Los Angeles County. 

The ShakeAlertLA app did not send alerts for last week’s two big quakes, but officials said it functioned as designed because the expected level of shaking in the LA area – more than 100 miles from the epicenters- was below a trigger threshold.

Thresholds for alerting are important because California has daily earthquakes.

“Imagine getting 10 ShakeAlerts on your phone for really small earthquakes that may not affect you,” de Groot said. “If people get saturated with these messages it’s going to make people not care as much.”

In the Mojave Desert on Monday, rattled residents cleaned up and officials assessed damage in the aftermath of Thursday’s magnitude 6.4 earthquake and Friday’s magnitude 7.1 quake centered near Ridgecrest.

President Donald Trump on Monday declared an emergency exists in California because of the quakes, paving the way for federal aid. The declaration authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

It could be several more days before water service is restored to the small town of Trona, where officials trucked in portable toilets and showers, said San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert. 

Ten residences in Trona were red-tagged as uninhabitable and officials expect that number to increase as inspectors complete surveys. Wert said he’s seen homes that shifted 6 feet (nearly 2 meters) off their foundations. 

Electricity was restored to Trona over the weekend, allowing people to use much-needed air conditioners as daytime temperatures approached 100 degrees (38 Celsius). 

Teams will need several more days to finish assessments in nearby Ridgecrest, where the number of damaged buildings will likely be in the dozens, Kern County spokeswoman Megan Person said.

Person says officials are bringing in counselors to help residents still on edge as aftershocks rattle the area. 

“You can’t feel every single one, but you can feel a lot of them,” she said. “Those poor people have been dealing with shaking ground non-stop since Thursday.”

UK Hunts Leaker of Ambassador’s Blunt Trump Criticism

The British government was hunting Monday for the source of a leak of diplomatic cables from Britain’s ambassador in Washington that branded President Donald Trump’s administration dysfunctional'' andinept.”

British officials are embarrassed by the publication of Kim Darroch’s unflattering assessment _ but more alarmed that sensitive confidential information has been leaked, possibly for political ends.
 
The leaked cables were intended for senior U.K. ministers and civil servants, and officials believe the mole will be found among British politicians or officials, rather than overseas.

“I’ve seen nothing to suggest hostile state actors were involved,” said Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman, James Slack.

The inquiry is being led by civil servants in the Cabinet Office, and Slack said police would only be called in “if evidence of criminality is found.”

It’s possible the leaker could be charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act, which bars public servants from making “damaging” disclosures of classified material. Breaching the act carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison, though prosecutions are rare.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said there would be “very serious consequences” if the culprit was caught.

He said the ability to communicate frankly was “fundamental” to diplomacy.

Slack said May had “full faith” in Darroch, a long-serving diplomat, although she didn’t agree with his characterization of the Trump administration.

He said ambassadors were hired to provide “honest, unvarnished assessments” of politics in the countries where they served, which didn’t necessarily reflect the views of the British government.

In the leaked cables _ published in the Mail on Sunday newspaper _ Darroch called the Trump administration’s policy toward Iran incoherent,'' said Trump might be indebted tododgy Russians” and raised doubts about whether the White House “will ever look competent.”

“We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept,” one missive said.

The cables cover a period from 2017 to recent weeks. Darroch has served as Britain’s envoy to Washington since 2016.

After the cables were published, Trump said the ambassador “has not served the U.K. well, I can tell you that.”

“We are not big fans of that man,” Trump said.

The leak is an embarrassment for outgoing prime minister May, who has sometimes clashed with Trump, and could make things difficult for Darroch, who is accused by some Brexit-backing U.K. politicians of a lack of enthusiasm for Britain’s departure from the European Union.

The journalist who reported the leak, Isabel Oakeshott, is a strong supporter of Brexit and ally of Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, Britain’s leading champion of Trump.

Trump said in 2016 that Farage would “do a great job” as ambassador to Washington.

Farage brushed off that idea on Monday, saying “I’m not a diplomat, and I think that’s quite an understatement.”

But Farage said Darroch’s comments were “pretty irresponsible.”

Robin Renwick, who served as Britain’s ambassador to Washington in the 1990s, said Darroch had done nothing wrong, but the leak had made his position “untenable.”

“There will of course be a decent interval. He will then have to be moved on,” Renwick told the BBC.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who was meeting U.S. officials in Washington Monday, called the leak “malicious.”

“I think it is unconscionable that any professional person in either politics of the civil service can behave in this way,” he said.

Fox, who is due to meet Trump’s daughter Ivanka, told the BBC that he would apologize for the fact that standards of either our civil service or elements of our political class'' hadlapsed in a most extraordinary and unacceptable way.”

 

 

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