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ESPN bloodbath begins with 100 layoffs


ESPN president John Skipper sent out a memo to employees Wednesday morning alerting them that 100 employees will be laid off. Around half of those receiving pink slips are well known, according to James Miller, author of the ESPN behind-the-scenes book “These Guys Have All the Fun.”

The layoffs were expected for months, but according to Miller, some are still in shock as they are notified they are among the ones being let go.

Ed Werder, a prominent on-camera NFL reporter, shared on Twitter that he was fired.

ESPN Radio host Danny Kanell soon joined the grim tally. Fellow former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer wasn’t far behind.

Longtime respected baseball journalist Jayson Stark also announced he was done at the network.

Former “First Take” host Jay Crawford is leaving, along with fellow “SportsCenter” anchors Jaymee Sire, Jade McCarthy, Darren Haynes and Chris Hassel, college basketball analyst Len Elmore, golf voice Dottie Pepper and ESPN Radio host Robin Lundberg. In addition, anchor Hannah Storm, “Baseball Tonight” host Karl Ravech and ESPN Radio’s Ryen Russillo (who is Kanell’s co-host) will have their roles “significantly reduced,” a source told The Hollywood Reporter.

Other journalists who revealed they have been let go include: columnists Johnette Howard and Jane McManus; baseball reporters Jim Bowden, Doug Padilla and Mark Saxon; basketball reporters Ethan Strauss, Calvin Watkins and Justin Verrier; hockey reporters Pierre LeBrun, Scott Burnside and Joe McDonald; college reporters Dana O’Neil, Brett McMurphy, Eamonn Brennan, Chantel Jennings, Jeremy Crabtree, Max Olson, C.L. Brown, Austin Ward and Jesse Temple; and soccer reporter Mike L. Goodman.

Modal Trigger
ESPN president John SkipperGetty Images

“This could be a bloodbath,” a source told the Sporting News earlier this week, and it appears that prediction has come true.

In a press release titled “ESPN’s content evolution strategy,” the company appeared to acknowledge how cord-cutting and technological shifts have undermined the cable-TV-first business model. “Given how fans’ habits are changing, our focus continues to be providing high-quality, distinctive content at any minute of the day on any screen,” the release said.

ESPN also released Skipper’s “message to employees.”

“These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company,” the statement read in part. “I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN.”


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The Crappy Dinner Party is my new entertaining ideal

dinner party in the kitchen

CC BY 2.0 Connie Ma

Why spend so much time stressing about menu planning and cleaning when none of it really matters? The focus should be on having a good time with friends.

This past weekend, my husband and I had some friends over to play a board game. At the last minute, we decided to make it dinner, too, which meant we had only a couple hours to pull it together (and a bunch of kids to feed and put to bed). Usually I plan my dinner parties days in advance, so this was definitely outside my comfort zone.

I did not have a menu. I resisted washing the floor. I didn’t fret over stray toys. Instead, we cooked larger amounts of the same simple meal we were planning to eat ourselves. Our guests brought several bottles of red wine. I ignored the fine china, handed out rumpled cloth napkins, and we ate, drank, and played Settlers of Catan until 1 a.m. It was so easy and fun that my husband and I both looked at each other after the guests left and said, “We have to do that more often!”

The experience has reminded me of the importance of relaxing when it comes to entertaining. This is something that other cultures, particularly Europeans, understand well. I have wonderful memories of lazy, languorous meals spent in the company of wine, food, and good friends in Sardinia, Croatia, France, Israel, and Brazil; and yet, I struggle to replicate it here in Canada. I worry that my guests expect something formal, elaborate, and impeccably executed, even though I know that’s silly.

I love the idea of the ‘Crappy Dinner Party,’ as described by Kelley Powell in an article for The Kitchn. Powell is an exhausted working parent who used to feel tremendous stress prior to a guest’s arrival, until she decided to let it all go. Now she hosts friends without stressing about cleaning, cooking, and organizing. Her ‘crappy’ dinner parties follow these rules, which her guests also understand:

  • No housework is to be done prior to a guest’s arrival.
  • The menu must be simple and not involve a special grocery shop.
  • You must wear whatever you happen to have on.
  • No hostess gifts allowed.

You see, as soon as you remove the fluff – all those extra stressors that make entertaining so intimidating – you get a completely different view of it. The experience becomes focused on being with people you like. Yes, the food needs to be good, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. There’s got to be enough wine, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Music should be playing, but no one’s really listening.

outdoor dinner party© K Martinko — A casual outdoor gathering makes everyone happy

I won’t practice all of Powell’s rules on a regular basis, since I do like putting on a clean shirt, but I’ll embrace her philosophy of relaxed entertaining with open arms. I hope it leads to many more laid-back nights with good friends this summer.

Tags: Cooking | Green Entertaining


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Things get heated as New Orleans dismantles Confederate monuments.

There are no easy answers when it comes to a war that divided the country, but we can try.

by  –

In the early hours of April 24, 2017, the first of four Confederate monuments in New Orleans was dismantled — to the delight of some and anger of others.

In 2015, the New Orleans City Council voted 6-1 to remove four of the city’s Confederate monuments. Just months after Dylann Roof murdered nine people inside a Charleston, South Carolina, church, many in the South began the process of reconsidering what place Confederate flags and monuments have in modern society.

New Orleans voted to remove its public monuments.

Pretty intense argument has broken out at Liberty Place. People in crowd start chanting ‘there was no vote.’

The first monument taken down was the Liberty Place monument — a statue honoring the Crescent City White League’s attempt to overthrow New Orleans’ government after the Civil War.

Workers dismantle the Liberty Place monument. Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP.

From 1934 until 1981, when the inscription was covered up, the statue shared an endorsement of white supremacy:

“McEnery and Penn having been elected governor and lieutenant-governor by the white people were duly installed by this overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers, Governor Kellogg (white) and Lieutenant-Governor Antoine (colored). United States troops took over the state government and reinstated the usurpers but the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state.”

That monument being taken down in New Orleans? This is what it says on it. Context for when you see “traditionalists” freaking.

Landrieu on Liberty Place monument: The monument was put up to celebrate the murder of police officers by white supremacists.

You’d think that dismantling a literal monument to white supremacy would be something most people could agree on. You’d be wrong.

Workers taking down the monument faced threats of violence from those intent on preserving it and had to sneak in to dismantle it in the dead of night, guarded by snipers and wearing bulletproof vests and military-style helmets.

Removing Confederate monuments in New Orleans involves:
1. Snipers posted
2. Company/workers in disguise
3. 2:30 AM 

Photo published for Removal of the first Confederate monument begins in New Orleans: updates

Removal of the first Confederate monument begins in New Orleans: updates

Efforts to remove four Confederate monuments commenced early April 24, as crews and police surrounded the Liberty Place monument downtown around 2 a.m.

A common argument in favor of protecting the Confederate-era monuments is that removing them would be a form of “erasing history.”

Liberty Place monument in New Orleans is being taken down. It is part of our history, why do we have to forget it?

Corey Stewart, a Republican running for governor of Virginia, even went so far as to say that removing the monument meant that “ISIS has won.”

It appears ISIS has won. They are tearing down historical monuments in New Orleans now too. It must end. Despicable! 

Photo published for New Orleans takes down prominent Confederate monument

New Orleans takes down prominent Confederate monument

New Orleans removed the first of four prominent Confederate monuments under the cover of darkness early Monday, the latest Southern city to sever itself from symbols viewed by many as a representat…

And others made a bizarre argument about the removal of the monument being about “Marxism.”

Dana Farley of New Orleans stands vigil at the statue of Jefferson Davis. Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP.

But taking down these monuments doesn’t mean forgetting the Confederacy’s role in American history.

Nobody is going to forget the Confederacy anytime soon — especially not those whose ancestors were harmed by it — and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who argues that artifacts from the Civil War shouldn’t be displayed in proper context within museums.

Yes, some monuments simply mark a historical event or person; but others outright celebrate them, and it can be a very thin line between the two. Perhaps there’s a better way to remember significant moments in history without celebrating those who fought to preserve the institution of slavery.

In 2016, The Atlantic reported that there are around 1,500 Confederate monuments around the U.S. — many of these monuments located in regions of the country that weren’t even a part of the Confederacy. Statues of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard pepper the country.

On Twitter, people chimed in with some suggestions for what we can honor in place of these monuments without forgetting or erasing our Civil War history.

RE LRTs: Richmond’s Monument Ave Confederate memorials should be removed and replaced with memorials to the enslaved & Union soldiers.

For every Confederate monument we should commission 5 statues of the black people that wanted said person gone

History is what happens, and it should never, ever be forgotten. Monuments come after, and they don’t always get it right.

Remembering the Civil War doesn’t mean we must pay tribute to those who took arms against the state, and it certainly doesn’t mean we must (or even should) preserve literal monuments to white supremacy and racism — especially in a city with a majority people-of-color population.

Workers dismantle the Liberty Place monument. Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP.

The real question here — which is sure to bring out strong emotions on all sides of this issue — is about what we build next. Do we take a critical look at our past to inform ourselves how to live better today, or do we devote time and energy and emotion to uncritical protection of vanity monuments that only divide us further?


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Why balloon releases need to stop

by Katherine Martinko

flotsam & jetsam

© Balloons Blow/Facebook — This particular pile of trash contained 9 balloons: 6 latex, 1 mylar, 2 plastic

All around the world, communities are starting to speak out against the senseless “mass aerial litter” created by balloons.

Residents of Rhode Island have joined in the call to ban balloon releases for environmental reasons. After picking up nearly 2,200 downed balloons along the coastline in the past several years, the Clean Ocean Access group is petitioning the city of Newport to stop allowing the practice altogether. While a floating mass of colorful balloons may look beautiful and celebratory for a few short minutes, it can be deadly for wildlife for many years to come.

Contrary to what manufacturers claim, latex balloons are not biodegradable. Balloons may break up into smaller pieces over time, but, with the addition of chemical plasticizers and artificial dyes, they never fully biodegrade. Anti-balloon group Balloons Blow has a photo gallery of deflated latex balloons that have ended up as pollution on land or in water, where they threaten wildlife by looking dangerously like food.

From the petition:

“Sea turtles mistake them for jellyfish and ingest them and die. They are made of plastic and take a long time to degrade, likely breaking into small pieces of plastic, absorbing toxins, [getting] ingested by fish, and leading to bio accumulation. Besides the balloon itself, the ribbons are also made of plastic and lead to entanglement of seabirds, and become entangled with seaweed.”

Britain’s Marine Conservation Society says it found 53 percent more balloon-related litter on beaches in 2016 than a year earlier.

Loggerhead hatchling with balloons© BalloonsBlow

The Rhode Island petition comes on the heels of Atlantic City’s new ban on outdoor balloon releases. People will face fines of up to $500 for releasing a helium balloon into the air, a move that PETA has praised. Last year, Gibraltar also made international headlines for ending its famous annual release of 300,000 red and white balloons to mark independence. As Matt Hickman wrote for MNN at the time, “At the end of the day, joyous littering is still littering.”

Rob Macmillan, co-founder of 11th Hour Racing who has spent the last decade sailing off the Rhode Island coast, told ABC6 News:

“It’s incredibly depressing.  You’ll be sailing along and you’ll just see plastic balloons floating everywhere.  And, you’ve got to imagine that the sea life that encounters them are just ingesting them and dying, or it’s getting into our own food supply.”

It’s an issue we should all be aware of, and a particularly easy practice to eliminate, since balloons serve no practical function. If you’re wondering about alternative ways to celebrate, visit the Balloons Blow website for lots of creative alternatives, from flags, streamers, ribbon dancers, and kites, to drumming, floating flowers, and more.


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Students showcase a ridiculous solution to a really ridiculous gun law.

Student Body Armor is a joke, but gun violence isn’t.

BY  –

Did you know that in several states, pretty much anyone can stroll into their 9 a.m. freshman economics class armed to the teeth?

In September 2016, professors at the University of Texas-Austin found empty bullet casings around campus along with menacing notes meant to mock anti-gun advocates, reading “Triggered?” and “In the land of the pigs, the butcher is king. Oink… Oink… Oink.” That same month, at another Texas college, one student accidentally fired a gun in one of the dorms.

Not only are there questions about whether these campus carry laws actually work in the “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” sense, but there’s also an intellectual cost to life on campus where you never know when what started as a healthy debate could turn deadly.

The brilliant minds behind the viral “cocks not glocks” protest have released a funny new video addressing their concerns with campus carry.

Hawking “Student Body Armor,” a (fake) new product with safety and school spirit in mind, the video takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to fighting back against laws that would allow weapons on college campuses.

According to Cocks Not Glocks founder Jessica Jin in an interview with The Guardian, the goal of Student Body Armor is to use “absurd branding that makes people just slow down for a second and question what they value as acceptable in day-to-day life.”

In that case: mission accomplished.

There are two things each of us can do right now to push back on the spread of campus carry laws.

The first is to get in touch with state legislators and voice concern about campus carry. Campus carry laws already exist in Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. If calling from one of those states, push your legislators to seek repeal. If elsewhere, urge them to oppose those laws moving forward.

The second thing you can do, if you’re a high schooler or anyone else considering where to attend college and you decide against a particular school because of the school or state’s gun policy, is let the school’s admissions office know why you didn’t choose their school.

GIF from Student Body Armor/YouTube.

Because you shouldn’t have to wear student body armor just to feel safe when you’re going to class.

Share image: Student Body Armor/YouTube.

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Dad makes his son walk home, ends up in jail with child endangerment charge

by Katherine Martinko

kid walking on railway

Michael Tang thought his 8-year-old’s mile-long walk would fix homework problems, but the lesson has turned out to be much bigger than that.

Parenting is hard at the best of the times, but it’s especially tough when it is treated like a spectator sport by nosy neighbors and over-enthusiastic police. A California father named Mike Tang is the latest victim of society’s unfortunate obsession with judging parents harshly for decisions we might not make ourselves.

Tang, a chemist who was feeling frustrated with his 8-year-old son for cheating on homework, decided to teach him an important life lesson – that money is hard to earn and slacking off at school could mean not having a home someday. Tang dropped Isaac off in a parking lot one mile from home and told him to walk the rest of the way. It was 7:45 p.m. in Corona, a city near Los Angeles, and the sun had barely set. Isaac knew the route home and was familiar with using pedestrian crossings.

When Tang sent his father to get Isaac after 15 minutes, the child had already been picked up by the police, alerted by someone who thought he was in danger because he was alone. Tang was arrested and spent the night in jail; but the punishment did not end there. Reason reports:

“A jury later convicted him of child endangerment, and the judge sentenced him to parenting classes and a 56-day work release program picking up trash and doing other menial work.”

Mike TangYouTube — Mike Tang says he wouldn’t do anything differently./Screen capture

Tang has refused to serve the sentence, and when presented with the outstanding arrest warrant for his failure to comply, scribbled the following response in blue marker over top:

“F*^k you all! Walking on a public sidewalk at 7:34 pm is not child endangerment. You are the ones violating my rights and rigged my trial by suppressing my evidence. I will doing everything in my power to defy you.”

Whether we, as individuals, agree with Tang’s disciplinary approach or not, it is ridiculous to believe that Isaac that was in actual danger. As Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids points out in a five-minute video about this case, some might call the situation unusual or controversial, but it’s certainly not dangerous. Corona has a low crime rate and Isaac knew his way home.

The problem is the moralizing that goes along with authorities’ assessments of other people’s parenting tactics. A fascinating study from the University of California last year found that people’s estimates of the danger in which children are placed vary tremendously based on their opinion of a parent’s behavior, i.e. if a mother’s absence is intentional or ‘immoral,’ a child is perceived to be at greater risk than if her absence is accidental. (I wrote about this on TreeHugger last fall.)

Clearly this had an effect on the outcome of Tang’s trial. Court transcripts cite the arresting officer saying he wouldn’t let his 20-year-old daughter walk home alone. This says it all about his approach to parenting – a true helicopter dad whose adult daughter presumably has fewer real-world skills that 8-year-old Isaac already does.

And what if the officer’s fears are logical? Then we have a much bigger problem on hand, and every parent should be outraged, defending our children’s rights to be pedestrians at reasonable hours of the evening.

Tang has received an outpouring of support from people who have learned about the story, mostly through the video below and Skenazy’s blog. He continues refusing to pay the fine and hire a lawyer, which he says would be “no victory for parents.” In response to the many people asking how he would feel if something had happened to his kid, he wrote:

“I’d be just as sorry and remorseful as if I drove him somewhere and got in a car accident, or if I dropped him off at school and he was injured at a school shooting. But that certainly doesn’t make driving him in a car or dropping him off at school dangerous or illegal.”

Skenazy agrees with Tang’s last point: “Simply because some rare and unpredictable tragedy COULD happen literally anytime, any place, that doesn’t mean a parent is wrong to trust the overwhelming odds that everything will be okay.”

We need to start talking about the dangers of not leaving kids alone, of hovering constantly, of inhibiting the development of independence within reasonable limits, of potentially stunting the growth of resilience and what psychologists call “self-efficacy,” confidence in one’s ability to handle situations as they arise.


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A doctor cuts through the conflicting science on cholesterol.

It’s easy to feel like there’s too much to keep track of when it comes to staying healthy.

Calories, fat, pounds, carbs, miles, steps — it’s easy to get overwhelmed with conflicting science and false health fads. So the more complicated things, like cholesterol, often get overlooked.

Cholesterol plays a surprisingly large part in your overall health, and knowing and managing your cholesterol level (plus your other three health numbers — blood glucose, blood pressure, and body mass index) can help prevent health problems down the line. We chatted with Dr. Christina Stasiuk, senior medical director at Cigna, to learn more.

Image via iStock.

Here are 13 interesting facts about the role cholesterol plays in your body’s health.

1. Cholesterol was first discovered in 1784, so scientists and doctors have been studying it for a long time.

There are two major sub-types of cholesterol: good (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) and bad (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, and triglycerides). Bad cholesterol is a fatty substance that can stick to the linings of your arteries and veins, whereas good cholesterol acts as a sort of broom that helps scrub away those LDL buildups in your body.

Image via iStock.

2. Your weight isn’t an indicator of your cholesterol level or overall health.

“There are thin people who are at higher risk of heart disease than people who may be overweight but who exercise, don’t smoke, and have normal blood pressure,” says Stasiuk. The only way to know your cholesterol levels for sure is through a blood test.

3. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs on its own.

The body makes both good and bad cholesterol, as they’re both needed to help perform a lot of the body’s necessary functions. It’s only when we consume too much LDL and triglycerides that it becomes “bad” by forming harmful buildup in our veins and arteries.

4. Clogged arteries look like they’re coated in butter.

If your body doesn’t have enough good cholesterol to scrub away sticky buildups, your arteries become clogged with yellow plaque-like fat. If you could slice open a clogged artery and look inside, it would look like it was filled with a thick layer of frozen butter. Uh … yum?

5. You could end up with high cholesterol regardless of your healthy habits — thanks, genetics!

Familial hypercholesterolemia” is a genetic condition that causes naturally high levels of bad cholesterol. A heart-healthy lifestyle can help, but people with a predisposition for high cholesterol usually also need medication.

Lots of other genetic factors affect heart health too, so the only way to know for sure that your heart is healthy is to consult your doctor.

Image via iStock.

6. Your body can generate good cholesterol with regular exercise.

According to Stasiuk, there are really no foods or drugs that significantly increase good cholesterol levels. Regular exercise, however, can help the body create the good cholesterol it needs.

7. When it comes to eats, the richest foods are usually the worst for you.

“Bad cholesterol is typically animal-source cholesterol,” says Stasiuk. “The solid stuff — the bacon fat, the fat around a steak. You’re better off having liquid fats, like olive or canola oil or the oily fats you get in fish.” Solid fats are the ones most likely to “stick,” while liquid fats can be cleaned out of the body more easily.

Image via iStock.

8. Look out for the cholesterol double-whammy: the trans fatty acid.

Two things to look for on nutrition labels are saturated fat and trans fats, both of which raise your LDL levels. But trans fats also lower your HDL, pulling double-duty against your cholesterol health. And both saturated fat and trans fats show up in manufactured foods you might not expect because they help lengthen shelf life. “Think about it this way,” says Stasiuk. “The amount of time that food lasts on the shelf is how long those lipids will be in your body.” Ack!

9. One surprising source of high cholesterol? Coffee.

Don’t worry. Only when it’s unfiltered, like in Turkish or French press coffee, does your morning joe contain a harmful substance called cafestol, which raises bad cholesterol. If you drink drip coffee, you’re good to go. The filter catches cafestol before it hits your cup.

Photo by Jen/Flickr.

10. Certain foods can help pull bad cholesterol out of the bloodstream and send it out of the body (and it’s not just Cheerios).

Salmon, oatmeal, berries, avocados, beans, nuts, and spinach are all power workers when it comes to scrubbing and flushing out all those sticky cholesterol particles.

11. Women are at a generally lower risk for bad cholesterol levels and heart disease than men — that is, until menopause.

Estrogen helps balance good and bad cholesterol levels in women’s bodies. Once menopause occurs and estrogen levels drop, women’s cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease rise.

Image via iStock.

12. Cholesterol also plays a big role in keeping your brain healthy. In fact, about 25% of the cholesterol in your body is stored in your brain.

Cholesterol is a structural component of myelin, which is the protective substance that covers the nerve fibers in your brain. Strong myelin sheaths help the brain function, facilitating things like memory and quick thinking.

13. Laughter might be good for your heart.

Research suggests that laughter can trigger a variety of heart healthy reactions in the body. It decreases stress hormones, reduces artery inflammation, and increases good cholesterol. So if you can’t fit in a workout today, make sure you get in a laugh!

The most important part of maintaining good cholesterol health is to be aware of it and, where you can, make lifestyle choices that support it.

It’s not about counting milligrams or calculating intake levels — it’s about making lifestyle choices that benefit you and your body. “It all comes back to this: go, know, and take control,” says Stasiuk. Get your blood tested during annual checkups with your doctor and take the time to make sure you understand your results. Then make small, progressive steps toward better heart health. Nothing drastic and no special secrets — just little changes toward treating your body right!


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