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Boris Johnson’s wish to pick fights with his old enemies risks making the UK a pariah

‘No way out’: Commentator predicts Boris Johnson’s future 02:10

London (CNN)UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government have spent much of this week fighting with the EU and rowing with a European human rights court, all while playing down accusations that they are breaking international law and pandering to his party’s base.

On Monday, Johnson’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, revealed the long-awaited Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, a piece of legislation that, if passed, would allow the British government to unilaterally override parts of the Brexit deal it agreed with the EU in 2019.
Two days later, the EU responded by launching legal proceedings against the UK over its failure to implement parts of the protocol to date, while Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission vice-president, said that “there is no legal nor political justification whatsoever for unilaterally changing an international agreement … let’s call a spade a spade: this is illegal.”
UK government officials responded angrily by insisting that the bill, if passed, would be perfectly legal. Suella Braverman, the attorney general who gave the new bill a green light, went on television to defend the proposed legislation. In doing so, she accused the BBC of painting the EU as “the good guys” and told ITV’s political editor that his assertion the bill would break that law was “Remaniac make-believe.”
On Tuesday, the Johnson government found itself cursing the name of another European institution, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), after it was forced to abandon a flight that would transport asylum-seekers to Rwanda. The UK announced a deal in April under which asylum seekers in the country could be relocated and granted asylum in Rwanda. The UN’s human rights agency had previously warned the UK that the policy might be unlawful, as it could expose those refugees to human rights abuses in Rwanda.
Demonstrators protest outside of an airport perimeter fence against a planned deportation of asylum seekers from Britain to Rwanda, at Gatwick Airport near Crawley, Britain, June 12, 2022.

The scheme had been widely criticized by human rights organizations, which succeeded in numerous legal challenges against individual removals but failed in their bid for an injunction suspending the flight. However, when the ECHR intervened on Tuesday night, saying that the last asylum seekers due to be on board had not exhausted their legal options in the UK, the plane was grounded.
Again, government ministers responded by insisting that the plan was lawful. Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has since suggested that the UK will introduce its own Bill of Rights that could effectively allow it to ignore the ECHR.
Johnson’s willingness to have public spats with large, international institutions makes sense when you look at recent history. Both Johnson and his predecessor, Theresa May, picked fights with the judiciary and the EU during the most frustrating days of Brexit. This, so the theory goes among Conservatives, gave both leaders a boost among their core supporters for attacking elitist bodies that were blocking the will of the people.
“Historically, Boris has done well hitting out at big institutions like the EU and courts,” says a former government minister told CNN. “These were not artificial fights, both Rwanda and Northern Ireland are proper government policy. But the hardline way we’ve defended them suggests to me that Boris sees a silver lining,” they added.
In one sense, this logic makes sense. Johnson has been hit by scandal after scandal and has seen his personal approval ratings tank, along with national polling for his Conservative Party.
He has had to fight off a vote among his own party to remove him as leader and on Thursday night saw his own ethics adviser Christopher Geidt resigned, saying that Johnson’s government had put him in an “impossible and odious position.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks as he takes questions at the House of Commons in London, Britain June 15, 2022.

So, a fight with the lofty elites in Brussels and Strasbourg over real red-meat Conservative issues like Brexit and immigration could be just what Johnson needs to get things back on track.
However, every time a government becomes so fixated on domestic policy, it risks forgetting that allies and enemies around the world are paying attention.
CNN spoke to multiple Western diplomatic sources who said that Johnson’s government had cast a dark shadow over their perception of the UK. One senior Western official who has worked closely with the UK during the Ukraine crisis said that while allies still coordinated with the UK, the sense of concern that they don’t know what version of Johnson they will get has become normalized.
“He is not Donald Trump, but he is so unpredictable that it’s easy for allies to think of him as being like Donald Trump,” said a Western diplomat.
A European diplomat told CNN that “it’s hard to overstate just how much damage has been done. Trust has been hugely damaged.” They pointed to the issue over Northern Ireland, saying that “on our side, we know that there are solutions to the protocol. But those solutions rely on trust. Why should we trust him not to tear up any new agreement in the future?”
Western officials say, with some sadness, that there were moments in the immediate aftermath of Russia invading Ukraine where they thought Johnson might start behaving like a “stable and predictable” leader, as the Western diplomat put it.
A European official agreed, saying that “there were moments when we looked at the UK with some admiration and thought there might be some path forward. Ukraine was something bigger than our squabbles.”
However, the official continued that this feeling of optimism faded quickly, after Johnson compared the Ukrainian fight for freedom to Brexit.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the National Service of Thanksgiving held at St Paul's Cathedral as part of celebrations marking the Platinum Jubilee of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, in London, Friday, June 3, 2022.

Conservatives in Westminster have mixed views on how bad this all is. Some worry that Johnson’s continued scandals and rhetoric are making the UK a pariah. Worse, they fear that a country like the UK — a longstanding member of the rules-based, international order — playing so fast and loose with international law sets a terrible precedent at a time when democracy is under threat in many parts of the world.
On the other hand, some MPs think that Johnson’s critics are getting worked up about something that normal people don’t care about. They say, not unreasonably, that a G7, NATO member with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council — and one that has in many respects led the way on Ukraine — is not about to get cut out by its allies.
Ultimately, Johnson’s international spats are most likely to play out in the domestic political arena. Some will love that he is taking a hardline stance. Others will feel a deepening sense of embarrassment that this man is their prime minister.
“If you are in Boris’s position, then you may as well double down on some of this stuff. What does he have to lose?” a senior Conservative MP told CNN. “Either things are so terminally bad that he’s doomed whatever he does, or he’s got two years to turn things around before the election. So why not go out there and have fights on your own pitch?”
That summary makes a lot of sense when you are sitting in Westminster, talking to people who spend too much time in Westminster. However, Johnson’s decisions seriously impact the lives of people who spend no time in Westminster and for whom this really is not a game. Especially as the UK is going through the worst cost-of-living crisis it has suffered in decades.
Johnson won’t know if his red meat gamble has paid off with the public until the next general election — unless he’s removed from office before then. There will undeniably be people who see him as the same Brexit street fighter who stands up for Britain against the bullies seeking to do it down.
But there will be an awful lot of people who think that instead of picking fights with the EU and ECHR, Johnson should be thinking of ways to improve their lives.

9-year-old playing hide-and-seek survives rare cougar attack in Washington state

Lily  Kryzhanivskyy,  is seen recovering in a Washington hospital after she was attacked by a cougar.  Picured with her is Sgt. Tony Leonetti of the state fish and wildlife department.

(CNN)A 9-year-old girl is recovering at a hospital in Washington state after being attacked by a cougar while playing hide-and-seek outdoors with her friends, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Lily Kryzhanivskyy was attacked Saturday as she jumped out to surprise her friends, the department said in a statement. The children had been attending a camp near Fruitland in northeastern Washington, about 70 miles from Spokane.
Lily was taken to a hospital for treatment, where she is out of the intensive care unit and making an “amazing” recovery, her mother said in the statement
“We are extremely thankful for this little girl’s resiliency and we’re impressed with her spunk, in the face of this unfortunate encounter,” said the wildlife department’s Capt. Mike Sprecher. “It happened fast and we are thankful that the adults at the camp responded so quickly.”
Lily “wants people to know she was ‘very brave and tough’ in the face of the attack,” the statement said.
The young male cougar that attacked Lily has been killed, the statement said, and tests showed the animal
Cougar attacks are rare, with only two fatal attacks having taken place in the state, according to the wildlife department. In 2018, a cougar stalked two mountain bikers in the state’s Cascade Mountains, killing one. Prior to the latest incident, 19 attacks have resulted in injuries to humans in the past 100 years, the department said.
“Wild animals don’t care to be around humans any more than we want to have close encounters with them,” Sprecher said.

A 13-year-old was behind the wheel in Texas crash that killed 9 people and left two University of the Southwest golfers critically injured

A 13-year-old boy drove the pickup truck involved in a fiery head-on collision in Texas that killed nine people, including six University of the Southwest golfers and their coach, a National Transportation Safety Board official said Thursday.

Preliminary information indicates the left front tire of the pickup was a spare that failed, causing the vehicle to pull hard to the left into oncoming traffic of a two-lane roadway, NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg said.
Investigators were able to identify the remains of the driver by his size, Landsberg said. Both vehicles were probably moving close to the posted speed limit of 75 mph, he said.
In Texas, a minor can begin the classroom part of a driver education course at 14 but must be at least 15 to apply for a learner license, swarovski jewelry according to the public safety department website.
Henrich Siemens, 38, of Seminole, Texas, was in the truck with the boy, authorities said. He was among the nine people killed in the Tuesday evening crash.
The students are recovering and making steady progress, University of the Southwest Provost Ryan Tipton said Thursday.
“One of the students is eating chicken soup,” Tipton told reporters. “I spoke with the parents and they are there with them and they are recovering every day. It’s a game of inches and every hour leads to them one step closer to another day… There is no indication as to how long it’s going to take but they are both stable and recovering and every day making more and more progress.”
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), a Dodge 2500 pickup drove into the approaching lane of a highway just outside Andrews, Texas, and hit a Ford Transit van carrying members of the New Mexico university’s men’s and women’s golf teams.
DPS Sgt. Steven Blanco said “the Dodge pickup drove into the northbound lane and struck the Ford passenger van head on.”
Six students and a coach in the van were killed as were the driver of the pickup and a passenger. Two other golfers were initially in critical condition at University Medical Center of Lubbock, Texas, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The NTSB dispatched a 12-member team to investigate.
A makeshift memorial was set up at the Rockwind Community Links in Hobbs, New Mexico, Wednesday.
“It was very clearly a high speed, head on collision between two heavy vehicles,” Landsberg told reporters.
Landsberg said in it’s unclear why the full-sized spare blew out before the crash.
“On the highways 100 people (are killed) a day,” he said. “Every two days we are killing the equivalent of a Boeing 737 crashing. Now just think about that. That’s what’s putting this into perspective. And it’s long overdue that we start to do something about it.”
Emergency responders heading to the crash were told by a dispatcher there were two vehicles on fire with people trapped inside, according to recordings on Broadcastify.com, which monitors radio traffic among many emergency departments.
One of the first responders to arrive said: “All units, I’ve got wrecked units on both sides of the highway, fully involved vehicles. I’m still trying to get up on scene and see what we have.”
Members of the men’s and women’s golf teams at the University of Southwest were traveling back to their Hobbs, New Mexico, campus from a tournament in Midland, Texas, school officials said.
The remainder of the red wing shoes two-day tournament, hosted by Midland College, was canceled. There were 11 schools in the competition, which included both men’s and women’s teams, Midland College Athletic Director Forrest Allen said.
The weather in the area of the crash was clear with no fog, CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers said. There were no freezing temperatures, and the wind was light at around 5 to 8 mph.
As investigators worked to determine what caused the deadly collision, the University of the Southwest is dealing with the emotional toll on its community.
“Our institution is crushed and broken but strong,” Paula Smith, the university’s vice president for financial services, said Thursday.
Many students at the small Christian university — with an enrollment of about 1,100 students, including about 300 on campus — will be returning from spring break over the weekend, and the school is planning a memorial assembly for next week, according to Tipton, the provost.
“These aren’t the kind of things that you ever even dream of happening. And they shouldn’t happen,” he said.
Tipton said officials have said they may never know what caused the pickup truck to veer into the van’s path.
“For any of you that have lost a loved one or a member of your family, it’s the same feeling here,” he said. “They’re not only students and coaches. They are loved ones to us. They are members of our family here on campus.”
One victim was Laci Stone, a freshman member of the women’s golf team who was majoring in global business management, according to a family member.
The six USW student athletes killed in a crash Tuesday were identified as (top row, left to right) Laci Stone, Jackson Zinn, Karisa Raines, (bottom row, left to right) Mauricio Sanchez, Travis Garcia and Tiago Sousa.
“Last night Laci’s golf team was involved in a crash leaving a golf tournament. Our sweet Laci didn’t make it.,” Laci’s mother, Chelsi Stone, posted on Facebook. “Our Laci is gone! She has been an absolute ray of sunshine during this short time on earth.”
Laci, 18, of Nocona, Texas, was one of three siblings.
“We will never be the same after this and we just don’t understand how this happened to our amazing, beautiful, smart, joyful girl,” her mother said.
The school identified the other students who died as Mauricio Sanchez, 19, of Mexico; Travis Garcia, 19, of Pleasanton, Texas; Jackson Zinn, 22, of Westminster, Colorado; Karisa Raines, 21, of Fort Stockton, Texas; and Tiago Sousa, 18, of Portugal.
USW President Quint Thurman confirmed the death of coach Tyler James, who was 26.
“Great coach and a wonderful man,” Thurman said in an email. “Don’t make them any better!”
Coach Tyler James.
James’ bio on the school website said he was in his first season as head coach and played golf at Ottawa University and Howard Payne University.
“He always cared for us and made sure we were always doing good on and off the golf course,” said freshman Phillip Lopez, who did not participate in the tournament.
“I just can’t believe that my teammates and my coach are gone,” Lopez told CNN.
Students Dayton Price, 19, of Mississauga, Ontario, and Hayden Underhill, 20, of Amherstview, Ontario, were hospitalized. GoFundMe fundraisers were started to help pay for victims’ funeral and medical expenses.

Police chief reveals how 6-year-old girl was found alive under staircase two years after she was reported missing

A child who was reported missing in 2019 when she was 4 years old was found hidden under a wooden staircase with her noncustodial mother, in a home officials had visited several times while investigating her disappearance, authorities said.

The child, Paislee Joann Shultis, now 6, was reported missing on July 13, 2019, from Cayuga Heights, a village on the outskirts of Ithaca, New York. At the time, she was believed to have been abducted by her noncustodial parents, Kimberly Cooper and Kirk Shultis Jr., police said in a news release.
Paislee and her mother were found Monday when investigators spotted “a pair of tiny feet” in a secret space under wooden steps leading to a basement.
“We should all wait until the facts come out,” said Carol K. Morgan, who represents Cooper. “Everyone should be patient before they draw their own conclusions.”
In the basement of the hoka shoes for women house, detectives searching for the girl found an apartment, including a bedroom with Paislee’s name on a wall, Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra told CNN on Wednesday. The bed appeared to have been slept in.
“Our officers asked, ‘Is she here?’ … And they denied that anybody was living in that house, in that particular room,” the chief said in an interview. “They said they had set the room up like that in the event that Paislee should ever return.”
Paislee Joann Shultis in a photo released by the Saugerties Police Department.

Throughout the 2.5-year investigation, authorities received several tips about the Saugerties-area home where the child was eventually located — but each time, the residents denied knowing anything about the girl’s whereabouts, the release said. Saugerties is about 160 miles east of Cayuga Heights.
“The quick answer: That’s our criminal justice system,” Sinagra said of his department’s inability to find the girl earlier, adding that Monday was the first time officers were able to obtain factual information — not hearsay — and secure a search warrant.
Sinagra said the homeowners were always “adversarial” with the officers, accusing police of “harassing” and “badgering” them and “insisting we should be out looking for Paislee.”
Sinagra told CNN on Wednesday that officers previously had been in the home roughly a dozen times but were not allowed in the basement or bedroom areas.
“We’re bothered by the fact that this went on for two years,” the hoka shoes chief said. “They lied to us for two years — including the father stating that he had no idea where his daughter was.”
On several occasions, investigators were allowed into the home without a warrant, but they were given “limited access” by Kirk Shultis Jr. and Kirk Shultis Sr., police said in the news release.
That changed Monday when police received information the child was being hidden and got a warrant for the home.
Officers arrived outside the house about 4 p.m to ensure that no one left. Police then executed the warrant a little after 8 p.m., the chief said. The homeowner denied knowing the girl’s whereabouts, saying he had not seen her since she was reported missing in 2019.
Police said the secret location underneath the stairs to the basement appeared to have been built to hide the girl.

4,500 year-old avenues lined with ancient tombs discovered in Saudi Arabia

Archaeologists have discovered a 4,500-year-old highway network in Saudi Arabia lined with well-preserved ancient tombs.
Researchers from the University of Western Australia have carried out a wide-ranging investigation over the past year, involving aerial surveys conducted by helicopter, ground survey and excavation and examination of satellite imagery.
In findings published in the Holocene journal in December, they said the “funerary avenues” spanning large distances in the northwestern Arabian counties of Al-‘Ula and Khaybar had received little examination until quite recently.
A dense "funerary avenue" flanked by Bronze Age tombs, leading out of Khaybar Oasis in northwest Saudi Arabia.
A dense “funerary avenue” flanked by Bronze Age tombs, leading out of Khaybar Oasis in northwest Saudi Arabia.
“The people who live in these areas have known about them for thousands of years,” researcher Matthew Dalton hey dude told CNN. “But I think it wasn’t really known until until we got satellite imagery that just how widespread they are.”
Dalton said the funerary avenues, which he had seen from a helicopter, stretched for hundreds, “maybe even thousands of kilometers” and that the same routes were often followed by those traveling along the main roads of today.
“Often you’ll find main roads tend to follow the same routes as the avenues because they tend to be the shortest route between between the two places they’re going to,” Dalton said. “And actually, in some cases, the the tombs themselves are so dense that you can’t help but walk on the ancient route itself, because you’re sort of hemmed in by the tombs.”
A 3rd millennium BC pendant burial on the southern edge of the Khaybar Oasis in northwest Saudi Arabia.
A 3rd millennium BC pendant burial on the southern edge of the Khaybar Oasis in northwest Saudi Arabia.
The tombs themselves are mostly either pendant-shaped or ring burials. Ring tombs involve a cairn surrounded by a wall of up to two meters in height, while pendant tombs have “beautiful tails.”
Using radiocarbon dating, the researchers determined that a concentrated group of samples dated back to between 2600 and 2000 BC, although the tombs continued to be reused until around 1,000 years ago.
“These tombs are 4,500 years old, and they’re still standing to their original height, which is really unheard of,” researcher Melissa Kennedy told CNN. “So I think that’s what particularly marks Saudi Arabia out from the rest of the region — just the level of preservation is unbelievable.”
Kennedy believes either single individuals or small groups were buried in the tombs, and the team have observed around 18,000 tombs along the funerary avenues while 80 of those have been sampled or excavated for research.
An infilled ringed cairn from the Khaybar Oasis in northwest Saudi Arabia.
An infilled ringed cairn from the Khaybar Oasis in northwest Saudi Arabia.
The researchers think the use of the routes long preceded the tombs, and are still not sure exactly why the tombs were built along the route — although Kennedy pointed to similar customs linked to land ownership in red wing boots Greece and Rome in later history.
“A way of showing ownership perhaps, could be one reason the tombs were built,” Dalton said. “And there may be an element of, you bury your nearest and dearest alongside the route, because you’ll be passing them frequently, and you have a place to remember them.”
A dense "funerary avenue" flanked by Bronze Age tombs, leading out of al Wadi Oasis near Khaybar in northwest Saudi Arabia.
A dense “funerary avenue” flanked by Bronze Age tombs, leading out of al Wadi Oasis near Khaybar in northwest Saudi Arabia.
The next step for the team will be to do more radiocarbon dating and go back out on the field, before analyzing their data. And more discoveries are likely to follow, with Dalton saying the avenues may even stretch across into Yemen, especially as similar tombs are found in both that country and northern Syria.
“The third millennium is such an important period of time,” Kennedy said. “It’s when the Pyramids are built. And it’s where lots of different cultures are interacting with each other for the first time on a wide scale. So to see the appearance of this monumental funerary landscape in this period is really exciting. And huge new avenues of research to basically follow.”

Bouncy castle tragedy claims sixth child after 11-year-old boy dies in hospital

A sixth child has died in hospital after a bouncy castle was lifted into the air at a school event in Australia late last week, police said Sunday.

The 11-year-old boy, Chace Harrison, “passed away in hospital this afternoon,” Tasmania Police Commissioner, Darren Hine, said in a statement.
“Our thoughts continue to be with his family, and the families and loved ones of all the children involved, during what is an incomprehensibly difficult time,” Hine added.
The boy was one of nine children who fell 32 feet (10 meters) from a bouncy castle that was lifted by wind during an end-of-year event at Hillcrest Primary School in Devonport, on the northern coast of the state of Tasmania.
In total, six children died in the tragedy. Two children remain in critical condition in hospital, while another is recovering at home, police added.
Police previously released the names and images of the five other victims, with the permission of their families. They are Addison Stewart, 11, and Jalailah Jayne-Maree Jones, Jye Sheehan, Peter Dodt and Zane Mellor, who were 12.
The six victims, from top left: Addison Stewart, Chace Harrison, Jalailah Jayne-Maree Jones. From bottom left:  Jye Sheehan, Peter Dodt and Zane Mellor.

An investigation is underway into what caused the tragedy, including the strength of the wind at the time and how the castle had been tethered to the ground.
Commissioner Hine said the Devonport Criminal Investigation Branch’s priority will be to “interview all witnesses, gather and analyze forensic evidence and all environmental aspects, including weather patterns and conditions at the time of the incident.”
“Given the magnitude of this critical incident and the need to speak to a large number of traumatized children within a short period of time, we have accepted an offer from NSW Police to assist in conducting interviews in relation to the investigation,” Hine added of assistance from the larger New South Wales state force.
The bouncy castle was one of a number of treats organized for students as part of the “Big Day In,” according to the school’s Facebook page. Other activities included a Water Play Zone and Zorb balls.
Hine said “close to 40” children were taking part in the activities when a wind gust lifted the castle off the ground. Several adults were supervising the event and provided first aid until emergency services arrived, he added.
The incident has rocked the nation, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison telling reporters shortly after that it was “just unthinkably heartbreaking.”

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on Nintendo Switch sucked me right back in

Commentary: The best Star Wars game of all time is getting a remake, but the original remains a glorious RPG experience… despite some creaky elements.

Duel with Darth Malak in KOTOR

Darth Malak has made a mess of the galaxy in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

I absolutely shouldn’t get sucked into Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic again. I’ve played it before, it’s pretty dated, it’s getting a fancy remake in a few years and there are newer games I should get through.

Yet here I am, staying up late to save the galaxy from the Sith like it’s 2003, playing the Nintendo Switch version ahead of its release on Thursday. The new games can wait.

Knights of the Old Republic (affectionately known as KOTOR) dr martens boots was a dream Star Wars game when it came out on Xbox and PC 18 years ago — developer Bioware crafted a totally immersive RPG set thousands of years before the Original Trilogy. Unshackled from those events, it was free to tell an epic tale of a galaxy ruined by the forces of Darth Malak, his seemingly slain master Darth Revan and a Jedi Order driven close to extinction.

In the years since its original release, KOTOR has come out on MacOS as well as iOS and Android devices. The original Xbox version is also playable on Xbox Series X and Series S via backward compatibility.

Developer Aspyr, which is also handling the upcoming remake, hasn’t made many visual tweaks or quality-of-life improvements for the Switch version, so this $15 port is essentially the same as the previous releases. But loading times are nippy and it’s the first version to offer an easy jump from TV to portable play.

Fate of the galaxy

You play as a customizable character suffering from amnesia (always a great way to create a blank slate) and ultimately unlock your Force potential. Like many Star Wars games before and since, you can then bring light and cuddles to the galaxy as a Jedi or make everyone miserable and look increasingly badass by turning to the dark side.

Your alignment is determined by dialogue choices, a signature Bioware gameplay element that it’d refine further in post-KOTOR games such as steve madden shoes Mass Effect and Dragon Age. After experiencing the nuanced moral decisions in those series in the years since, KOTOR’s options feel delightfully unsophisticated. A typical dialog with someone you’ve just saved from thugs might have you choose, “Here are some credits to help you out as you escape these criminals,” (😇) “You’re welcome, be free,” (neutral) or, “No witnesses, I’ll have to kill you.” (😈)

Since I went full baddie on my original playthrough and remember feeling like a corrupted (but cool looking) monster by the end, I decided to be super nice to everyone this time. I only got a few hours in and it’s been a delight to revisit this era of Star Wars, but there were definitely a few hiccups along the way.

What my 8-year-old son taught me about Star Wars

starwars.png

Wait a minute, what?

At one point, halfway through Empire Strikes Back, my 8-year-old son started frowning.

“I don’t like that guy.”

Which guy, I asked. He pointed at the person on screen.

That guy.”

He wasn’t pointing at Darth Vader or The Emperor. Or even the double-crossing Lando Calrissian.

No. He was pointing at Han Solo.

Han Solo, the hero. One of the most adored characters in the Star Wars canon. What could my son, my own flesh and blood, possibly have against Han Solo?

But let’s rewind.

star-wars-the-empire-strikes-back
Had to correct a lot of “Dark Vaders” with my kids.

For the last week, I’ve been introducing my son to Star Wars, a series I’ve loved since long before he was born. As a kid I enjoyed watching Star Wars. As a teenager I was obsessed, delving into the endless novels and comics that made up the Star Wars expanded universe. I collected toys and all manner of Star Wars junk. More importantly I watched the movies over and over and over again.

But with the most recent trilogy, my love of Star Wars has soured. I loved The Last Jedi nike outlet but loathed The Rise of Skywalker and have been indifferent to almost everything else produced since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012. Partly because of that, I was in no rush to introduce my oldest kid to Star Wars. But it was Saturday night — movie night in my household — and there was nothing better to watch.

That’s how the discussion started. The Han Solo discussion.

What the hell’s wrong with Han Solo, I asked, almost defensively, as my son shook his head in disgust.

“He’s just… so rude.”

That’s his thing, I protested. He’s a rogue! A rapscallion. That’s his whole thing…

Then my son said something that stopped me in my tracks.

“She said stop, and he didn’t stop.”

Frozen in carbonite

Princess Leia and Han Solo
“She said stop, and he didn’t stop.”

My 8-year-old was referring to Princess Leia and, specifically, the scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Han Solo kisses her for the first time.

Never mind the fact Han Solo is, canonically, 32 years old when he meets the teenaged Leia for the first time, my son was actually correct. Leia does tell Han Solo to stop, when he starts massaging her hands on board the Millennium Falcon, and Han Solo in fact does not stop.

It’s a bit weird.

It didn’t feel weird when I keen shoes was a kid, or a teenager in the ’90s when I watched the movies on repeat every weekend. But it did feel weird in the context of what I, alongside my wife, have been teaching my kids about consent since they were sentient. Just simple things like, if someone says “stop,” you stop.

It occurred to me that my son was feeling the same level of discomfort I felt when watching James Bond slap women on the butt in Goldfinger. It never occurred to me that a series like Star Wars could reflect cultural shifts, but here we were and here I was, being taught a simple and valuable lesson about a movie I’d watched literally 50-plus times.

Return of the Jedi
Return of the Jedi was his favorite. I think.

It’s impossible and, in a sense, almost unfair to ask a movie released in 1980 to accurately reflect progress made on social issues over the last decade. (And some women have argued that, actually, Han Solo is OK?). But we live in the post #MeToo era, when brave women have forced men to reevaluate dangerous and common attitudes toward women. Attitudes that were reinforced, at least in part, by characters like Han Solo in movies as frivolous as The Empire Strikes Back.

But my 8-year-old son wasn’t thinking about that when he said Han Solo was an asshole. He was just reflecting the environment he’s growing up in.

As a friend of mine said, after I relayed this story to her, that the original Star Wars trilogy is definitely getting close to that “unwatchable for new audiences” threshold. The action scenes are sluggish. Special effects that once seemed timeless are showing their age. It’s understandable: The Empire Strikes Back is over 40 years old at this point. But culturally? That’s where Star Wars has aged the worst.

We can kick and scream and complain, but, ironically, it’s a transition that will ultimately take place without asics shoes our consent. A transition that should force us — and by us I mean men — to ask questions of ourselves. Why did Han Solo’s behavior feel normal? Why didn’t it feel weird? Why did we take these strange social norms for granted and potentially replicate them in our own interactions with women? It’s an opportunity to examine the cues around us with a fresh set of eyes. When our kids tell us something is weird, we should probably listen — and potentially learn something in the process.

At the end of The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo is captured by Darth Vader. Ultimately he becomes frozen in carbonite, frozen in time. He becomes, essentially, a frozen facsimile of himself.

Han Solo can’t be anything other than a product of his time, so maybe we shouldn’t judge him for that. But our attitudes shouldn’t suffer the same fate. I was surprised — shocked even  — that my 8-year-old son hated Han Solo. But ultimately, like Solo, he’s a product of his own time. In the best possible way. And in our current context, given what we now know, he’s absolutely right to hate him.

Van-Life Couple Got Into Physical Fight Days Before 22-Year-Old Vanished, Police Docs Reveal

YouTube
YouTube

A young woman who mysteriously vanished while road tripping across the U.S. with her fiancé got into a physical altercation with him two weeks before he returned to Florida without her, according to a police report obtained by The Daily Beast.

And while the couple’s online postings made the journey appear perfectly idyllic, the strain of having been together nonstop for months on end had in fact escalated tensions between the two, the document provided by the Moab City, Utah, Police Department reveals.

Brian Laundrie, 23, has been named a steve madden shoes person of interest in the baffling disappearance of 22-year-old Gabrielle Petito, police announced Wednesday. The two set off on a cross-country trek on July 2, from North Port, Florida. From there, they traveled to the Monument Rocks formation in Kansas, then headed for Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park. Next, the pair went to the Zion, Bryce, and Canyonlands national parks in Utah. Petito’s mother last spoke to Gabby on Aug. 25, while she and Laundrie were at the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

On Sept. 1, Laundrie returned to the Florida home he shared with his parents and Petito, after the couple’s cross-country journey in a van across the U.S. But Gabby, inexplicably, wasn’t anywhere to be found.

Ten days later, after not hearing from her for more than two weeks, Gabby’s family reported her missing. Police then went to Laundrie’s home and seized Gabby’s customized 2012 Ford Transit Connect van, which the couple was living out of as they visited several national parks. The vehicle was processed for evidence by local cops and FBI agents on Tuesday evening, according to the North Port, Florida, Police Department.

On Tuesday night, Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge released a statement revealing that officers on Aug. 12 responded to an “incident involving Brian Laundrie and Gabrielle Petito.” Neither of them was “the reporting party,” according to Edge.

“Officers conducted an investigation and determined that insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges,” the statement said.

However, previously unknown details revealed in the report itself paint a fuller picture of what happened that day.

“On 08/12/21, MCPD officers were dispatched to a report of a domestic problem that had taken place near the Moonflower Co-op,” the report explains. “It appeared that a male and female had left the scene traveling north on Main in a white Ford Transit van with a black ladder on the rear after the male and female had engaged in some sort of altercation. It wasn’t clear, but I believe it was reported the male had been observed to have assaulted the female.”

When cops showed up, witnesses said they had seen Laundrie attempting to “create distance by telling Gabby to go take a walk to calm down,” the report states. Laundrie reportedly grabbed Gabby’s face at one point after she began slapping him, but Laundrie did not strike Gabby, according to witnesses. One bystander told cops that Laundrie seemed to have locked Gabby out of her van, and that she appeared to be hitting him in the arm and trying to climb inside through the driver’s window. The fight had apparently erupted over dispute involving a phone, the report states.

Gabby, who said she feared Laundrie was going to leave her behind in Moab, suffered from “severe anxiety,” the pair told police, who categorized the incident as more of a “mental/emotional health ‘break’ than a domestic assault,” in their report. The two said they were “in ecco shoes love and engaged to be married and desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime.”

The couple had been pulled over for speeding that same evening by another officer, who interviewed both of them separately. Gabby, who was “crying uncontrollably,” according to the report, said that she “suffers from [redacted] with [redacted]. She continued, because of her [redacted] and [redacted], combined with little arguments she and Brian had been having that day, she was struggling with her mental health, which led to the incident that was reported to law enforcement.”

Laundrie told the officer that he and Gabby “both suffer from [redacted], and although her [redacted] is more advanced than his, issues between the two had been building over the last few days. This in turn, caused them to argue more than usual,” the report states.

Laundrie explained that the two had been traveling together for the past four or five months, and that this had “created emotional strain between them and increased the number of arguments.”

The officer was able to get Laundrie a hotel room for the night, and Gabby kept the van. They agreed not to contact one another until the next morning, which would allow them to “reset their mental states.”

Neither one was seriously injured, and no charges were filed.

In what may or may not be a coincidence, a couple living out of their van in Moab, Kylen Schulte and Crystal Beck, went missing on Aug. 13—after complaining to friends about a “weirdo” who had set up camp right near them. Schulte—who worked at the Moonflower Co-op, where Gabby and Laundrie were seen fightingand Beck were found murdered a few days later. No suspects have been publicly identified and no arrests have been made in the case.

“As of now, Brian has not made himself available to be interviewed by investigators or has provided any helpful details,” the North Port PD said in a statement issued Wednesday, adding, “Brian Laundrie is a person of interest in this case.”

Laundrie will continue to stonewall investigators as they try desperately to solve the case, according to his lawyer.

In a statement provided to The Daily Beast following the North Port PD’s announcement, Laundrie’s Long Island, New York-based lawyer, nike sneakers Steven Bertolino, said that the “formality” of being named a person of interest hasn’t really changed anything about Laundrie’s situation, since he was already the focus of detectives. And he’s still not planning to say a word.

“Many people are wondering why Mr. Laundrie would not make a statement or speak with law enforcement in the face of Ms. Petito’s absence,” Bertolino said in an email. “In my experience, intimate partners are often the first person law enforcement focuses their attention on in cases like this and the warning that ‘any statement made will be used against you’ is true, regardless of whether my client had anything to do with Ms. Petito’s disappearance. As such, on the advice of counsel Mr. Laundrie is not speaking on this matter.”

Laundrie and his parents, Roberta and Christopher, who own a company that sells and services commercial juicing equipment, were unable to be reached.

Laundrie’s refusal to cooperate has been incredibly frustrating for Gabby’s father, Joe Petito, who moved to Florida in June, partly so he could be closer to his daughter.

“Get out of the house, get into the FBI offices, and start answering some questions,” Petito told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “Do your job as a fiancé, as most would do.”

Petito said he was reluctant to speak negatively of Laundrie in the media because Laundrie is key to finding Gabby.

“My biggest fear is that people overpressure this guy and he hurts himself and then he can’t speak anymore—and then I’ll never find my daughter,” said Petito. “Focus on her, and keep it up until we get her home. I’m begging you of that. No one gives two shits about Brian until we get Gabby home.”

Petito hasn’t heard from Laundrie or his parents, and said he isn’t “anticipating anything” from them.

“As a father, I can imagine the pain and suffering Gabby’s family is going through,” North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said in a statement. “We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past few weeks. The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation. The answers will eventually come out. We will help find Gabby and we will help find anyone who may be involved in her disappearance.”

The Laundrie family appears to keep a low profile in their North Port, Florida, neighborhood. Donna Lear, a homeowner who lives a few doors away from the Laundries, said she and her husband have “never seen” Brian Laundrie or his parents in all the years they have resided there. Another neighbor, Andre Obradovich, also said he hasn’t had any interactions with the Laundrie family and was shocked to hear that the young man whose face has been plastered all over the news in recent days is holed up right down the street.

Laundrie’s Instagram profile describes him as a “nature enthusiast” and tells visitors, “Take a hike everyday.”

“Bug bites are better than being brainwashed by the media,” it says.

In a post from last October, Laundrie captioned a picture of himself kissing Gabby: “Never got around to posting these! I’d die just to watch all of our memories on repeat, never loved anyone as much as this girl💕”

Another so-called van-lifer who encountered Gabby and Laundrie while traveling near Moab, Utah, said he never saw any signs of trouble between the two.

“They were holding hands, they were ecstatic about their rebuild,” Jaye Foster told The Daily Beast. “That’s what I find so weird about the whole situation, is that they were both really cool. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong whatsoever.”

The pair said they were headed to Yellowstone next, according to Foster.

“She was such a cool person,” he said. “He was too. That’s what’s freaking me out. They seemed totally fine. What sucks is that I couldn’t see him doing anything like that. It’s crazy as hell. It really, really is.”

Ex-Marine ‘Survivalist’ Allegedly Said He Killed 3-Month-Old Because ‘I’m a Sick Guy’

Polk County Jail
Polk County Jail

A Marine veteran who identified himself as a “survivalist” experiencing visions from God told police that he didn’t know the four members of a family he brutally murdered over the weekend—and admitted he shot a 3-month-old baby because he’s a “sick guy,” according to court documents.

The suspect, 33-year-old Bryan Riley of Brandon, Florida, was ordered held without bond during his first court appearance on Monday. He requested his own lawyer and will be appointed one until he can secure his own, a judge said, according to the AP.

Riley allegedly told authorities he was ecco shoes high on meth when, clad in camouflage, he murdered four people—including a mom who was found dead with her slain infant in her arms—at two homes outside of Tampa, Florida, on Sunday morning, claiming that he had been sent by God. He also gunned down the family’s dog.

Prominent South Carolina Lawyer Shot Months After Family Murder Reveals He’s Going to Rehab

“When you see somebody so heartless, so calculating, that they will shoot a mother clinging to her 3-month-old baby, and kill the baby, and shoot the family dog—this guy is heartless and calculating with his murder,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said during a press conference on Sunday.

In the aftermath of the bloodbath, Riley allegedly told investigators that “they begged for their lives and I killed them anyway,” according to Judd.

“This man is evil in the flesh,” he said.

When asked why he killed the 3-month-old baby, he simply said, “Because I’m a sick guy. I want to confess to all of it and be sent to jail,” according to an affidavit obtained by The Washington Post.

In the police interview, Riley allegedly also said that he set a vehicle nearby on fire as an “exit strategy,” according to the affidavit.

Riley, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, was booked into Polk County Jail and now faces four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted first-degree murder of law enforcement officers, cruelty to an animal, shooting into a building, arson, and burglary, the sheriff’s office wrote on Twitter.

An 11-year-old girl, who was shot at least seven times, was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where she is expected to recover, Judd said.

According to local outlets, Riley initially approached Justice Gleason, 40, while Gleason was mowing the lawn outside one of the houses on Saturday evening. nike sneakers After initially leaving the premises, Riley returned hours later and killed Gleason, the 33-year-old mom and her baby boy, as well as the baby’s 62-year-old grandmother in a nearby home. Judd said the other victims were “related” to Gleason but declined to release further details.

Riley allegedly told Gleason that God had called on him to stop a girl who he claimed was a daughter of Gleason’s named “Amber” from committing suicide, Judd said. The sheriff said a witness reported that Gleason and another victim told Riley that no one at the residence went by that name and told him to leave. Not long after Riley alleged he was the “cops for God,” Gleason called law enforcement, Judd said.

When authorities went looking for Riley, he had returned home, but allegedly came back hours later with armor and a car stocked with supplies for a gun battle, authorities said.

After calls about gunfire in the early morning on Monday, law enforcement returned to the scene, and saw Riley, who initially appeared to be unarmed, duck back into the house with his victims, where he allegedly fired more shots that were followed by whimpers.

Riley, who had multiple firearms and a concealed weapons license, then exchanged gunfire with authorities during a standoff, Judd said.

According to the sheriff, Riley referred to himself as a “survivalist,” and had even lined a path to the house with glow sticks, then blocked that entrance, as a diversion tactic. When authorities circled to the back of the house, nike store Judd said that Riley was prepared for a fight, with head and knee protection and a bulletproof vest. When he was shot once after firing at authorities, Riley surrendered with hands up, the sheriff said.

While being treated for his injuries at a local trauma center, Riley at one point jumped up and attempted to grab a Lakeland police officer’s pistol. The officer had to fight with him in the emergency room, Judd said.

Riley’s girlfriend of roughly four years told investigators that she was “mortified and shocked” and that he had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, but had not been violent. According to Judd, she told investigators her boyfriend had repeatedly insisted to her in recent days that he could talk directly with God and that God had advised him to amass supplies for Hurricane Ida victims, including $1,000 worth of cigars as a “relief present.”

Judd said that Riley was likely suffering from mental health issues and had virtually no criminal record after spending four years in the Corps and another three years in the reserves.

“This guy, prior to this morning, was a war hero. He fought for his country in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Judd said. “He was a decorated military veteran, and this morning he’s a cold, calculated murderer.”