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Webster Hall: My Love Affair With Axl Rose
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Charisma Stockton – Contributor – @ BylineBeat

(Brooklyn, New York) Axl Rose could never date me. It would be a strained relationship from the start because in my mind, we’ve been dating for twenty years. He wouldn’t understand why I “suddenly” snapped at him after only two weeks of casual dinners at sushi palaces, or why I stopped shaving my armpits after the first month or why I was annoyed at the women calling his cell phone (even though I’d only let him get to second base).
 
I showed him my dedication in 1992 at the Guns N’ Roses Open-Air concert in Stuttgart. It was the hottest day of the summer so far, and I’d brought grapes to keep my blood sugar up. I was in the second row of the second pit.

I heard four distinctive drums beats and knew what song would follow. When the crowd recognized Paradise City, there was a collective jump. What followed was a vicious shift between the front and second rows, with my legs between them. I felt bone grinding and my right knee popping out of place. I limped home after the encores and told my mother that it was the best time I could remember.
 
I developed osteoarthritis from the bone fracture, and for the past twenty years, every time it rained, I felt the pain. I’ve been hurt by Axl and disappointed by Axl and have asked him “Why?” a million times. He ignored me. It was like he didn’t even know I existed.
 
I was willing to give him another chance when Guns N’ Roses announced a three gig club tour in New York City. He would be singing in venues smaller than the stadiums I was used to seeing him in. They were calling it: Once in a Lifetime, Guns N’ Roses, Up Close and Personal. We just needed to meet.
 
People say, “But Charisma, he’s way too old for you. He could be your father!”

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U.S. airstrike that killed American teen in Yemen raises legal, ethical questions

One week after a U.S. military airstrike killed a 16-year-old American citizen in Yemen, no one in the Obama administration, Pentagon or Congress has taken responsibility for his death, or even publicly acknowledged that it happened.

The absence of official accountability for the demise of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a Denver native and the son of an al-Qaeda member, deepens the legal and ethical murkiness of the Obama administration’s campaign to kill alleged enemies of the state outside of traditional war zones.

3 US citizens among victims in Mexico bus attack

Three U.S. citizens traveling to spend the holidays with their relatives in Mexico were among those killed in a spree of shooting attacks on buses in northern Mexico, authorities from both countries said Friday.

A group of five gunmen attacked three buses in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Veracruz on Thursday, killing a total of seven passengers in what authorities said appeared to be a violent robbery spree.

The Americans killed were a mother and her two daughters who were returning to visit relatives in the region, known as the Huasteca, said an official in the neighboring state of Hidalgo, where the mother was born.

Photo Of 8-Year-Old Syrian Rebel ‘Ahmed’ Smoking A Cigarette With His Rifle


It’s a picture that is both haunting and heartbreaking.

Dressed in red, an 8-year-old Syrian boy identified as Ahmed stares into the camera of American-born photojournalist Sebastiano Tomada Piccolomini. The child’s face is partially obscured by the smoke of a lit cigarette, and his small frame is dwarfed by the assault rifle slung around his shoulders.

Piccolomini’s pint-sized “rebel” exemplifies the growing tragedy in Aleppo, a city on the front lines of Syria’s ongoing civil war. The photographer has been documenting the struggle of the Free Syrian Army fighters for a series called “The Things They Carry,” the New York Daily News reports.

Once the country’s commercial center, Aleppo is currently divided by between soldiers loyal to President Bashar Assad and the rebel forces who oppose him.

According to German filmmaker Marcel Mettelsiefen, conditions in the city border on unbearable, with only 30 doctors and nurses caring for hundreds of thousands of civilians. The New York Times reports that rebel areas lack electricity, water, or any sort of economic stability.

Since the fighting broke out in Syria more than two years ago, the United Nations estimates that more than 70,000 people have been killed, Reuters notes.

Photo Credit: (SIPA USA)

Foreclosures made up 20% of home sales in 3Q

Foreclosures made up a smaller slice of all U.S. homes sold in last year’s third quarter, as banks delayed placing properties for sale and home sales slowed.

Despite the decline, foreclosures still represented 20 percent of all homes sold in the July-September period - about four times more than at the height of the housing boom, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

Foreclosure sales include homes purchased after they received a notice of default or were repossessed by lenders.

In 2005 and 2006, when housing was still flying high, foreclosures made up less than 5 percent of all home sales, the firm said. They peaked in 2009 at 37.4 percent.

UN chief says former Libya rebels still hold 7,000 people, some reportedly tortured

A U.N. report says former Libyan revolutionaries are still holding about 7,000 people, and some reportedly have been subjected to torture and ill treatment.

A report by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon circulated before a Security Council briefing about Libya on Monday says that many of the inmates have no access to due process in the absence of a functioning police force and judiciary.

Former LA Fire Chief’s Son Accused Of Bribing TSA Agent, Smuggling Pot Onto Flight

The son of Los Angeles’ former fire chief, Millage Peaks, has been arrested for allegedly bribing a TSA agent to help him smuggle marijuana on board a flight.

Authorities arrested Millage Peaks Jr., 23, Sunday morning on charges of smuggling 10-15 pounds of pot on a flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Boston.

“It’s a fair amount. I think it was purchased for about $38,000 and was gonna be resold for some amount greater than that,” said Robert Little, Peaks’ attorney.

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Video: Michael Rusch (@weeddude), Editor-in-Chief of Byline Beat (@BylineBeat) talks with Captain Ray Lewis in Zuccotti Park.

November 21, 2011

Source: (@weeddude/Twitter)

Mumford & Sons share ideas for next album


Mumford & Sons’ Babel just won the Grammy for Album of the Year, and the band is already planning album Number Three, setting up a backstage practice room at every gig of their winter arena tour to work out musical ideas. “We’re getting into the habit of just sort of working on stuff,” says keyboardist Ben Lovett.

“I do feel like we’re ready to make the departure,” adds Lovett. “There’s definitely cohesion between the two albums [2010’s Sigh No More and Babel]. Now that we’ve done that, we’re not desperate to walk away from that sound, but we’re willing to explore what else we could do. These two albums are like brothers. Do something that’s a cousin.”

What kind of sounds? “Like, hip-hop,” Mumford says with a grin. “We really want to rap. We’ve just got so much to say – saying it through a melody doesn’t really work for me. We’ve been talking with Jay-Z about it, you know. It’s gonna be a fresh experience for our band.” Does the band rap in the practice room? “Yeah,” Mumford says. “We’re like, ‘Motherfucker!’”

Ted Dwane acknowledges they have “a handful of songs – they’re starting to come through.” Judging by a 10-minute jam off a dissonant minor-key chord progression, I ask if the band has a psychedelic record in them. “We could do that,” says banjo player Winston Marshall. Bassist Ted Dwane adds with a laugh, “That definitely might happen.”

But the band is taking their time. “Shit,” says Marshall. “It might take a few more years than it took to make Babel.”

Photo Credit: (Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

NYT: Israel and Palestinians Begin Prisoner Exchange

The exchange of an Israeli soldier held by Hamas for the first batch of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israel began on Tuesday as scores of prisoners were bused and being grouped at two points ready for their return home to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well as to exile via Egypt.

The mechanics of the deal were complex but apparently moving smoothly just after dawn. Israeli officials began to gather at an air force base south of Tel Aviv where the Israeli soldier, Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit, was expected to be brought after being transferred from Gaza into Egyptian territory. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Olmert and the military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, were expected to arrive there to greet his helicopter and deliver him to a private room where his family would be waiting.

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Photo: Two Israeli soldiers patrolled behind a plastic covered fence at the Tel Nof Air Force base in Israel Tuesday morning, ahead of the release of Gilad Shalit. (Jim Hollander/European Pressphoto Agency)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, 69, has died

Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s mercurial and enigmatic leader whose iron rule and nuclear ambitions for his isolated communist nation dominated world security fears for more than a decade, has died. He was 69.

Kim’s death was announced Monday by the state television from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 but he had appeared relatively vigorous in photos and video from recent trips to China and Russia and in numerous trips around the country carefully documented by state media. The communist country’s “Dear Leader” - reputed to have had a taste for cigars, cognac and gourmet cuisine - was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.

The news came as North Korea prepared for a hereditary succession. Kim Jong Il inherited power after his father, revered North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, died in 1994. In September 2010, Kim Jong Il unveiled his third son, the twenty-something Kim Jong Un, as his successor, putting him in high-ranking posts.

High court to rule on lying about military medals

The Supreme Court will decide if telling a lie about yourself is a crime - if the lie claims military medals you didn’t earn.


The court said Monday it will rule on the constitutionality of a law that makes it a federal crime for people to claim falsely, either in writing or aloud, that they have been awarded the Medal of Honor, a Silver Star, Purple Heart or any other military medal.

The Stolen Valor Act, which passed Congress with overwhelming support in 2006, apparently has been used only a few dozen times, but the underlying issue of false claims of military heroism has struck a chord in an era in which American soldiers are fighting two wars.

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David Bowie Confronts Fame in his new single ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’


Celebrities aren’t usually the ones doing the stalking, but David Bowie re-imagines the role famous people play in other people’s lives in the video accompanying his new single “The Stars (Are Out Tonight).”

Bowie and Tilda Swinton play a nicely settled middle-aged couple whose comfortable existence is upended when a celebrity pair – Saskia De Brauw and Andrej Pejic, who’s made to look startlingly like a young Bowie – follow them home from the grocery store and take over their space, both physical and emotional. The couples’ roles slowly reverse, calling into question exactly what Swinton and Bowie’s characters mean at the market when they agree, “We have a nice life.”

The song starts with a slow, heavy backbeat and guttural guitar that dissolve into a propulsive bassline topped with shards of guitar and atmospheric synthesizers, for an effect reminiscent of vintage Bowie. It’s the second song the singer has released from his upcoming album The Next Day, which is due next month. The first tune, “Where Are We Now?” was moodier and more reflective, with a video that revisited some of the places the singer used to frequent in Berlin in the Seventies.

Video Credit: (youtube.com)


Mike McCready: New Pearl Jam Album ‘This Year, for Sure’


Pearl Jam hope to have their next album out “this year, for sure,” guitarist Mike McCready tells Rolling Stone. Preparing to travel to New Orleans, where he will perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” and run a half-marathon in support of his close friend Steve Gleason, the former New Orleans Saint, McCready says the bandmembers are “working on demos right now and we’re going to be recording soon.

"What everybody’s been saying is halfway done,” he says of the follow-up to 2009’s Backspacer. “I think that’s true – we have seven songs that are relatively completed. But then we have an additional 15 ready to go aside from any that Eddie brings in, so we’ll weed through those.”

Though he’s reluctant to categorize the album just yet – “because what I can say won’t make any sense until you hear it” – he can offer a few details.

“I would say as a cliché answer it’s kind of a logical extension of what Backspacer was,” he says. “But I think there’s a little bit more experimental stuff going on. There’s a Pink Floyd vibe to some of it, there’s a punk rock edge to other stuff.”

Photo Credit: (Kevin Mazur/WireImage)


No TV for Children Under 2, Doctors’ Urge

Watching television or videos is discouraged for babies younger than 2 because studies suggest it could harm their development, a pediatricians’ group said Tuesday.

Instead of allowing infants to watch videos or screens, parents should talk to them and encourage independent play, said the first guidelines on the subject issued in more than a decade by the American Academy of Pediatrics

The advice is the same as that issued in 1999 by the group, the country’s largest association of pediatricians, but this time it also warns parents that their own screen-watching habits may delay their children’s ability to talk.

Few Americans take immigrants' jobs in Alabama

ONEONTA, Ala. (AP) - Potato farmer Keith Smith saw most of his Hispanic workers leave after Alabama’s tough immigration law took effect, so he hired Americans. It hasn’t worked out: They show up late, work slower than seasoned farm hands and are ready to call it a day after lunch or by midafternoon. Some quit after a single day.

In Alabama and other parts of the country, farmers must look beyond the nation’s borders for labor because many Americans simply don’t want the backbreaking, low-paying jobs immigrants are willing to take. Politicians who support the law say over time more unemployed Americans will fill these jobs. They insist it’s too early to consider the law a failure, yet numbers from the governor’s office show only nominal interest.

“I’ve had people calling me wanting to work,” Smith said. “I haven’t turned any of them down, but they’re not any good. It’s hard work, they just don’t work like the Hispanics with experience.”
Maliki acting "like Saddam": Sunni bloc leader

Iraq’s Nuri al-Maliki is acting like Saddam Hussein in trying to silence opposition and he risks provoking a new fightback against dictatorship, one of Maliki’s predecessors as prime minister said on Tuesday.

Iyad Allawi, who leads the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, said the televised confessions Maliki has used to demand the arrest of the country’s Sunni Muslim vice president were fabrications.

Speaking to Reuters two days after the final departure of the U.S. forces that ended Saddam’s Sunni-dominated rule, Allawi called for international efforts to prevent the Shi'ite premier from provoking renewed sectarian warfare of the kind that killed tens of thousands in the years after Saddam fell in 2003.

“This is terrifying, to bring fabricated confessions,” Allawi said shortly before leaving the Jordanian capital Amman to return to Iraq. “It reminds me personally of what Saddam Hussein used to do where he would accuse his political opponents of being terrorists and conspirators.”

College Life: McDonalds, Loan Debt, And Living With Parents
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Stephen Auchmuty – Op-Ed – @ BylineBeat

My name is Stephen Auchmuty, and I’m a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University. I have a degree in Geography and a student loan debt of $50,000. Currently, I live at home with my parents and two brothers. I’m unable to find a job in my field after five years of college; instead, I work as a Shift Manager at McDonald’s. I almost didn’t reach even graduation.

Back in January, I decided to save money and move back home. After completing a majority of my course work, I had two requirements left in order to graduate. One was relatively simple, a course to fulfill the requirements for my minor.  The other was a dark cloud, an internship related to the Geography field. The problem is Northwest Ohio isn’t exactly a hotbed for GIS and mapping jobs. To say I struggled to find one is an egregious understatement. When I asked the professor in charge of internships for help in finding one, I was told American students are stupid and lazy and need to figure out how to do things on their own. Yes, that’s where my tuition was going. With a month left in the semester, I faced the realization that after five years of coursework, I was one step away from actually getting my degree, and I wouldn’t be able to get my degree because I wasn’t able to get a job. Seems kind of backwards, doesn’t it?

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