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Basil Eleby: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Three people are in custody in the fire that caused the dramatic collapse of an Interstate 85 (I-85) overpass in Atlanta, Georgia, according to WSB-TV.

WSB-TV reported that Basil Eleby was charged “with first degree criminal damage to property and two others are charged with criminal trespass.”

The other two suspects were named as “Sophia Bruner, charged with criminal trespass; and Barry Thomas, charged with criminal trespass,” by AJC.com. The bridge fire snarled traffic and spurred dramatic videos on March 30. The television station reported that Eleby and the other two suspects are in custody “in connection” with the fire.

Tensions were running high.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Authorities Allege That Eleby Started the Fire & Troopers Told Cars to Turn Around Right Before the Bridge Collapsed

Authorities allege that Eleby is the suspect who started the blaze, reported AJC.com, which quoted Jay Florence, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Insurance, as saying: “We believe they were together when the fire was set and Eleby is the one who set the fire.”

According to WSB-TV, “Witnesses say troopers were telling cars to turn around on the bridge because they were concerned about its integrity. Minutes later, the bridge collapsed.”

News11 confirmed the arrests and reported, “Officials still don’t know what materials fueled the destructive fire, but investigators indicate that the three people…are connected to the fire.”

That television station reported that the state Fire Marshal and the Atlanta Fire Department both confirmed the arrests but said the suspects were not yet identified as news first broke.

Traffic came to a standstill on the busy freeway as firefighters battled the fire on March 30. One reporter wrote on Twitter shortly before the collapse of the overpass, “Massive Fire 85 N Bound. Witnesses say Troopers turning all cars around witnesses say concern about integrity of bridge live on @wsbtv now.”


2. The Three Suspects Might Be Homeless & Videos & Photos Captured the Fire & Collapse

Authorities were saying little about the three under arrest, reported AJC, as they were being interrogated. However, they did say that they believe the suspects used “available materials” at the site and “may have been homeless,” the newspaper reported.

People expressed shock on social media.

CNN reported that a section of the bridge had “collapsed in flames.” Aerial views showed a thick black smoke plume obscuring a portion of the freeway.

Motorists stuck in cars expressed shock and posted videos and photos to social media.


3. Eleby Has an Extensive Criminal History & Was Previously Arrested 19 Times

Eleby appears to have a criminal history with multiple previous mugshots, according to Mugshots.com. ABC News reported that all three suspects were in the Fulton County Jail, and that they were interrogated throughout the day, although authorities have not said yet what led them to the trio.

According to 11Alive.com, Fulton County Jail records show Basil Eleby “had been arrested 19 times before for drug, battery, assault and other charges. An April 2014 mugshot shows Eleby after he was arrested for charges related to the sale and trafficking of cocaine.”

Thick black smoke billowed into the sky as the blaze erupted. USA Today reported that “Flames are erupting underneath an Atlanta interstate as black smoke is billowing under all sides. Local officials are on the scene and working to determine a cause.”

Drivers were left stranded:

A portion of I-85 had collapsed.


4. The Stretch of Road Is One of the Busiest in the United States

According to NBC News, the months it could take to repair the bridge could be a major traffic headache. That’s because the road is “one of the busiest stretches of roadway in America,” NBC reported.

“More than 225,000 vehicles travel through the affected area on an average weekday,” according to NBC.


5. The Repairs Will Take Months to Complete

As of March 31, authorities have said very little about the arrests.

According to WREG, officials say it could take months to repair the bridge.

This story will be updated with more information about Eleby and the other suspects as it becomes known.


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WATCH: ‘Pedophile’ Hits on Andy Milonakis, 40-Year-Old With Growth Hormone Deficiency

Andy Milonakis, a 41-year-old comedian with growth hormone deficiency so he appears to be a teenage boy, was live streaming on Twitch.tv when an older man named William Bows approached him for sex.

Twitch is a live streaming video platform owned by a subsidiary of Amazon.com that gets as much as 100 million page views per month.

While Milonakis is live streaming to his followers, a man is heard off-camera telling Milonakis that he’s throwing a party. He then asks Milonakis if he can join him at his table. Milonakis obliges. The man then offers Milonakis a cigarette and informs him that his name is William Bows and that he’s been arrested for the past 7 days but that the cop let him loose after he promised him a sandwich.

Obviously, there is a mental health component at play, but the video then takes a dark turn.

Bows offers Milonakis some cookies from his grocery bag and then begins to discuss sex. “Where do you hang about?” Bows asks him. “Guess what, you’re coming with me… and guess what, I haven’t had sex in 5 years and I’m not having sex until the time comes… I’m not just about to abuse my friend, especially with the camera.”

The man then says that he’s going to go get some “tobacco.” Milonakis’ Twitch followers tell him to run. Milonakis, however, joins Bows for a walk. Bows appears to fellate a sucker for Milonakis.

Bows then sings about how he’s been in a psych ward. Milonakis makes it a duet. However, when Milonakis has an opportunity to casually leave Bows, he takes it.

Andy Milonakis is most widely known for his appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and for his own show, The Andy Milonakis Show on MTV and MTV2. He was born with growth hormone deficiency (GHD), a medical condition where the person does not produce enough growth hormone. GHD can be treated with growth hormone treatment.

Pedophile Social Network? Tribe.net Hosts Community of Sexual Predators After Children

Subscribers to a conspiracy channel on Reddit have discovered evidence of a “pedo heaven” on tribe.net, a social networking site that recently went offline. See screenshots of the conversations here.

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Sophia Bruner & Barry Thomas: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Atlanta police have released the names of all three suspects in the fire which caused a bridge on I-85 to collapse yesterday. WSB-TV initially reported the name of one suspect, Basil Eleby. Shortly after that report, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published the names of the other two suspects: Sophia Bruner and Barry Thomas, both charged with criminal trespass. (Eleby, who is suspected of actually setting set the fire, faces a more serious charge of criminal damage to property.) Here’s five facts you need to know:


1. All Three Suspects Are Believed to be Homeless

Jay Florence, deputy commissioner of Georgia’s state Department of Insurance, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the three suspects might have been homeless, though it’s not clear whether they were living at the site where the fire started.

Details regarding how authorities came to suspect those three have not yet been released. However, it is known that the three were charged on Friday afternoon, after authorities questioned them. All three were taken to the Fulton County jail.

Neither Florence nor anyone else has yet said how the fire was started, only that the suspects were believed to have used “available materials” at the site.


2. Nobody Died or Was Injured in the Fire

Despite the choking black smoke emanating from the fire strong enough to cause a bridge collapse during the Thursday rush hour, there were no reported casualties, mainly because state troopers stopped traffic and steered cars away from the bridge minutes before it collapsed.

Fox News reports that witnesses said troopers ordered motorists to turn around before reaching the bridge, because police were worried about its structural integrity.

The fire broke out around six p.m., and the bridge collapsed an hour later. Foam trucks from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport helped to extinguish the fire.


3. Georgia’s Governor Declared A State of Emergency

As a result of the bridge collapse, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for Fulton County, where Atlanta is located. The Macon Telegraph reports that the governor said that Georgia’s Department of Transportation is working with Georgia Emergency Management, the Department of Public Safety and the Homeland Security Agency to coordinate response efforts.

State government agencies in the Atlanta metro area delayed their Friday-morning openings until 10 a.m., and schools in nearby DeKalb County were closed for the day (though Atlanta schools stayed open).

Gov. Deal advised motorists to avoid the affected area, and promised updates on alternate routes as information became available.


4. Construction Materials Were Stored Where the Fire Started

The fire broke out beneath the collapsed I-85 bridge, in a spot where PVC pipe and other construction materials were stored. On Friday, Russell McMurray, Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner, told WSB radio that “the storage area under the bridge was storing normal highway construction materials. The PVC material has been there for some time, probably since 2006 or 7.”

McMurray also said the GDOT started assessing the damage on Thursday before the fire was fully extinguished.

Demolition crews are still working to remove crushed concrete and related debris from the site, so investigators can look for clues regarding how coils of plastic pipe which GDOT called non-combustible could have caught on fire.


5. The Bridge Collapse Will Snarl City Traffic For Months

Atlanta traffic is bad even at the best of times; in February, the transportation firm INRIX released a study saying Atlanta was the eighth-worst city for traffic in the world (and fourth-worst in the United States).

Of course, that was before the I-85 bridge collapse made matters vastly worse. The timing is especially bad; the day after the bridge collapse, the Atlanta Braves played their first game in their new home of SunTrust Park, not far from the collapsed overpass. Also, many schools throughout the southeast have their scheduled spring break next week, which usually means uncounted numbers of tourists driving through Atlanta on their way to various vacation spots.

Slightly alleviating traffic pressure (at least for locals) was MARTA, Atlanta’s mass-transit system. MARTA CEO Keith Parker told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that MARTA saw a 25 percent increase in ridership the day after the bridge collapse.

Basil Eleby: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Basil Eleby is accused of a crime in connection with the I-85 freeway overpass collapse in Atlanta. The interstate fire led to dramatic videos.

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Jose Torres & Kayla Norton: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Confederate flag supporters at the South Carolina capitol. (Getty)

Georgia residents Jose Ismael Torres and Kayla Rae Norton were sentenced to lengthy prison terms February 26 for their participation in a two-day-long series of hate crimes that terrorized minorities throughout Douglas and Paulding counties in July 2015, one month after white supremacist (and Confederate battle flag admirer) Dylann Roof murdered nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in hopes of starting a race war.

Roof’s murders inspired South Carolina to finally take down the Confederate flag that had flown on its statehouse grounds since the Civil Rights Era – and this, in turn, inspired Norton, Torres and just over a dozen other members of a group called “Respect The Flag” to spend July 24 and 25 driving through majority-minority neighborhoods in a convoy of pickup trucks festooned with Confederate flags.

During the course of what authorities called a “drunken rampage” which inspired a flurry of 911 calls from witnesses along their route, the group shouted racist epithets and pointed guns at black drivers, and harassed black customers at a Paulding County Wal-Mart and a nearby convenience store. The trip ended at the Douglasville home of Melissa Alford, who was hosting an outdoor birthday party for her black 8-year-old grandson.

At the time, Alford said that members of the convoy interrupted the child’s party with threats of violence and racial epithets.

On Monday, Superior Court Judge William McClain sentenced Torres to 13 years in prison, and Norton to six. After their release, the two are permanently banned from Douglas County. Torres and Norton have three children together, although they are not married.

Here’s what you need to know about Torres, Norton and the results of their recent trial:


1. The Confederate Flags Are not Why They Were Sent to Prison

Kayla Norton Douglas County Georgia

Kayla Norton (credit: Douglas County DA Facebook page)

Despite the many news articles with such misleading headlines as “Couple sentenced to prison for disrupting birthday party with Confederate flags,” Douglasville District Attorney Brian Fortner specified, in a statement posted on the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office Facebook page, that the flags had nothing to do with the legal penalties doled out to Torres, Norton or other members of the Respect the Flag group.

“I would never allow someone to be prosecuted for exercising his or her First Amendment right to fly whatever flag they choose, regardless of anyone’s personal feelings about it,” Fortner wrote. “Instead, this case was about a group of people riding around our community, drinking alcohol, harassing and intimidating our citizens because of the color of their skin.” Fortner’s statement went on to say that at the child’s birthday party, members of Respect The Flag “pulled out a shotgun and pointed it at the victims. They used racial slurs and threatened to kill some of the party goers. They even threatened to kill children at the party. I will simply not tolerate this type of behavior in our community.”

Torres and Norton were sentenced on one count each of making terroristic threats and violating Georgia’s street gang act; Torres was also convicted of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Other members of Respect the Flag pleaded guilty and received lesser sentences.


2. Statements on the Defendants’ Own Social Media Accounts Helped Convict Them

Look at Facebook, and Facebook looks back at you (Getty)

After Torres and Norton were convicted, the Douglas County District Attorney’s office said on its Facebook page that “Following a review of over 10,000 pages of Facebook documents, law enforcement was able to locate numerous posts and messages indicating that members of the group were white supremacists who discussed attending KKK rallies, joining Skinheads Nation, and making numerous derogatory remarks about African Americans as a whole.”

Norton’s Facebook posts also indicated that after the rampage, she spent a lot of time and effort on what the DA called a “wide sweeping attempt” to get all members of the Respect The Flag group to coordinate their stories, lie to the media about what happened, and cover up her role in retrieving the shotgun from Torres’ truck, loading it, and giving it to him just before the confrontation with guests at the birthday party.

Also on Facebook, Norton promised not to “snitch” on Torres or anyone else involved in the two-day spree.


3. The Judge Criticized Douglasville Police For Not Arresting Anybody at the Birthday Party

Despite the multiple 911 calls inspired by Respect The Flag’s actions, when Douglasville police arrived at the child’s birthday party they did not make any arrests. At least two witnesses to the confrontation recorded the incident on their cellphone cameras and posted the footage online.

The video posted above showed police officers holding back the mostly black party guests while the parade of Confederate flag trucks drove past.

Two days after the party, on July 27, 2015, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that authorities were investigating the videos to determine if anything illegal happened.

At the time, Douglasville police said in an emailed statement that “Officers on scene were given conflicting statements as to what led up to the confrontation.” Levi Bush, a Respect The Flag member who drove one of the pickup trucks, initially blamed party-goers for instigating the encounter. Not until the following October, almost three months later, were members of Respect The Flag indicted for their activities in July.

But on the day Judge McClain passed sentence on Torres and Norton, he openly questioned why the Douglasville PD did not arrest any members of Respect The Flag at the birthday party, calling their inaction “inexplicable” and “a very bad mistake.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that McClain told the couple that he didn’t understand “Why you weren’t arrested that day but [were] allowed to drive off in the protection of the authorities.”

Douglasville’s population is 35 percent white and almost 60 percent black. The majority of police officers visible in the initial birthday-party cellphone video were white.

After Torres and Norton’s sentencing, Douglasville police defended their delayed response in a statement saying that “Because of the seriousness of this case to our community, we wanted to get this case right the first time. Officers and supervisors at the scene determined that it was prudent to get both sides of the story and gather more evidence, rather than making hasty decisions that ultimately could have jeopardized the case. The decision to conduct a rigorous investigation led to a successful outcome that best served our community.”


4. The Southern Poverty Law Center Presented Witnesses and Evidence to the Douglas County DA

Jose Torres Douglas County Georgia Respect the Falg

Jose Torres (credit: Douglas County DA Facebook page)

Despite – or perhaps because of – the Douglasville PD’s initial reluctance to arrest any Respect The Flag members, the Southern Poverty Law Center launched an investigation almost immediately after the July 2015 incident. That October, after a grand jury handed down indictments, the SPLC took partial credit for this, noting that it “turned over videos and other evidence to Douglasville District Attorney Brian K. Fortner. SPLC attorneys also brought witnesses to the prosecutor and have been representing some of the people at the party.”

The SPLC report included details most media sources omitted, including the exact threats and epithets Respect The Flag members allegedly shouted at party-goers. “According to the witnesses, a few people yelled ‘f–k y’all n—s’ and ‘shoot ‘em.’ When someone from the party said, ‘There are kids here,’ a person from the convoy yelled, ‘We’ll shoot those bastards, too.’”

The SPLC also reported that after the party (but long before the grand jury indictments), a Respect The Flag sympathizer posted on Facebook that “Trust me the last thing you want is a bunch of pissed off rednecks in jacked up trucks and Confederate flags flying to mess up that pretty lawn…. Keep f—g with our flag!!!!!!!”


5. Party Guests Offered Forgiveness to Torres and Norton at Their Sentencing Hearing

Brian Fortner Douglas County Georgia Respect the Flag

District Attorney Brian Fortner (Credit: Douglas County DA Facebook page)

Jose Torres did not address the court or any courtroom witnesses during his sentencing hearing, but Kayla Norton did speak to birthday-party guests who were in court that day.

Despite her earlier social-media attempts to cover up her actions and those of other Respect The Flag members during their two-day spree culminating at the birthday party, Norton told party-goers, according to Fox 5 Atlanta, that “What happened to you was horrible. Mother-to-mother, I can’t imagine what it was like to explain what that word means to a child. I accept responsibility for what I did, but that was not me.” WSB-TV’s coverage also quoted Norton as saying, “The worst decision I’ve ever made in my life was to not walk away when I had the chance. That is not me. That is not me. That is not him. I would never walk up to you and say those words to you and I am so sorry that happened to you.”

Prosecutors said Norton was not one of the people who pointed guns at party-goers, but did shout threats and racial epithets. At the sentencing hearing, Assistant DA David Emadi told the judge that “They repeatedly yelled death threats saying they were going to killing all the N—-. They said, ‘We’ll blow the heads off all the little b—— and the little n—– can get one too.”

But at Torres and Norton’s sentencing, party-goers accepted Norton’s apology and offered forgiveness. Fox 5 Atlanta reported that Hyesha Bryant, who was at the party with her three children, said “We all have to be held accountable for our actions. I forgive you. I forgive all of you. I am not a mean spirited person and I’m sorry for your family that it had to come this far.”

When Will South Carolina Take Down the Confederate Flag?

South Carolina lawmakers voted to take down the Confederate battle flag from outside the state capitol in Columbia. But when will it actually come down?

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Rachel Dolezal (Nkechi Diallo): 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Rachel Dolezal/Nkechi Diallo and son (Facebook)

Rachel Dolezal, the former president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington, first made international headlines in June 2015 when she walked away from a local TV reporter who asked her if both of her parents were white. (They are.) Though her brother Ezra claimed at the time that Dolezal’s African-American appearance was a form of “blackface,” Dolezal herself insisted that she was actually “transracial.”

Since then, Dolezal has written a book, In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World, which came out on March 28. Here’s five things you need to know about how her life’s been going since she first became infamous:


1. She Changed Her Name to “Nkechi Amare Diallo”

Rachel Dolezal, Nkechi Diallo

Rachel Anne Dolezal (Twitter)

Last October, Dolezal filed legal documents to change her name to “Nkechi Diallo” (though she still goes by her birth name on Facebook and Twitter).

Nkechi means “gift of God” or “what God has given” in the Igbo langage of Nigeria. Diallo means “bold” in the language of the Fula people found throughout West Africa. Dolezal/Diallo says her new name was a “gift” from a Nigerian man.

Dolezal still plans to use her birth name as her public persona, but hopes her new legal name will make it easier for her to find a job with employers who might be reluctant to hire the notorious “Rachel Dolezal.” “Maybe if I applied with a new name, people would see me for the qualifications and expertise on my resume, and not toss my application in the trash based on my name,” she said.

Shortly after her name change, she filed a Change.org petition as Nkechi Diallo, asking TED talks to post a TEDx talk that Rachel Dolezal gave in April 2016 at the University of Idaho. In that TEDx talk (which TED did post in Nov. 2016, calling it “a doubtless flawed attempt to do the right thing y all our constituencies”), Dolezal asked the mostly white audience “Is the identity that you were assigned at birth the best description of who you really are and what your purpose is for being in the world? …. What is life if we can’t draw our own pictures and write our own stories?”


2. She Says She is Jobless and on the Verge of Homelessness

Rachel Dolezal, Nkechi Diallo, transblack, transracial

Rachel Dolezal (Facebook)

In February, still using the name Rachel Dolezal, she gave an interview to The Guardian to discuss her then-upcoming book and how her life had changed since the summer of her notoriety.

Dolezal said that despite applying for over 100 jobs, she’s been unable to find any work even as a supermarket shelf-stocker; the only positions she’s been offered are in reality TV, and porn. A friend paid her most recent rent, and she’s been relying on food stamps to feed herself and her family. “Right now the only place that I feel understood and completely accepted is with my kids and my sister,” she said.

Shortly after losing her college-lecturing job and NAACP position in 2015, she made some money doing African-style hair braiding. More recently, she says she’s been selling artwork to her friends.


3. She Refuses to Apologize

Rachel Dolezal cnnRachel Dolezal as a child and as an adult (Screengrab via CNN)

When the Guardian asked Dolezal/Diallo if she felt she had done anything wrong, she said, “No, I don’t. I don’t think you can do something wrong with your identity if you’re living in your authenticity, and I am. If I thought it was wrong, I would admit it. That’s easy to do, especially in America. Every politician, they’re like, ‘I’m sorry’ and then they just move on and everybody’s like, ‘Oh, they apologized and it’s all good’. Five minutes later, nobody remembers it. I’m not going to stoop and apologize and grovel and feel bad about it. I would just be going back to when I was little, and had to be what everybody else told me I should be – to make them happy.”

Dolezal also offered an explanation for another anecdote which increased her notoriety in the summer of 2015: while she was a student at the HBCU Howard University, the university rescinded her scholarship at the end of her first year, so she sued on two grounds: gender discrimination (since she was heavily pregnant at the time), and racial discrimination – because she was white.

Dolezal blames this on her lawyer, saying he “latched on” to the fact that her school adviser responded to her scholarship-loss concerns by telling her that her white relatives could probably pay her tuition. “I didn’t understand,” Dolezal said. “I wasn’t a law expert. I don’t know precedents. I don’t know all these strategies and ways to fight a case…. It sounds bad, right. It sounds like I just played that card for my advantage. But I just knew that if I did not have my scholarship, we were going to lose our apartment and [then-husband] Kevin was going to have to drop out of school.”


4. Her Critics Mostly Condemn Her Lies Rather Than Her Chosen Identity

Rachel Dolezal, Nkechi Diallo, transblack, transracial

Rachel Dolezal “Straight Outta Howard” (Facebook)

It was at Howard University, Dolezal/Diallo says, where she was first introduced to the idea that racial identity was “an invention of human beings,” largely invented by colonial-era Americans to justify giving paler-skinned people power over those with darker complexions. “This was a great awakening for me,” she told the Guardian, “because it meant I wasn’t forced to own whiteness. It wasn’t like the honest thing to do is say, ‘I’m white’, because race is a social construct.”

But what Dolezal seems not to understand is that the majority of criticism directed against her is not based on the fact that an American woman born with pale skin, straight blonde hair and other “white person” traits chose to alter her appearance and identify with so-called “black” culture, but the lies she told about her own upbringing to justify this.

Dolezal was born, raised and home-schooled in Montana by two white Christian parents. But in June 2015, shortly after the scandal over her parentage first made the news, her local newspaper, the Spokane Spokesman-Review, reported that Dolezal claimed her father had been a black police officer in Oakland, California — who fled there from the “Deep South” after attacking an abusive, racist white police officer. Earlier in 2015, during an interview with radio station KYRS, Dolezal built upon that story by saying “As a black family in the Deep South, if you had any kind of a negative altercation with a … white cop – where you stood up for yourself – then it would go badly.”

Dolezal mentioned these supposed experiences when she sought an appointment to Spokane’s police oversight commission in 2014. She resigned from that position in the summer of 2015, after her true parentage became known.

More recently, James Wilburn, a former head of the Spokane NAACP, said Dolezal/Diallo should “Just come out and tell the truth. She struggles with that.”


5. She Now Identifies as “Trans-black,” not “Transracial”

Rachel Dolezal, Nkechi Diallo, transblack, transracial

Rachel Dolezal in 2015 (Facebook)

In her new book (published under the Rachel Dolezal name), Diallo describes herself as “trans-black,” and say she checks “black” when asked to identify her race on official forms offering only one option.

“If a form provides multiple boxes, I’ll check white, native and black,” she said in an interview with PI11-TV. “That’s acknowledging how I was born, how I identify. If I select one only, I’ll select black.”

Despite earlier claims of being the daughter of a black police officer from the Deep South, Dolezal’s book describes her life growing up as a white girl in Montana—homeschooled, largely isolated from society and not even allowed to watch television.

Is Rachel Dolezal Transracial? 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

After the revelations that an NAACP president wasn’t black, Rachel Dolezal is now being described as transracial.

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April Fools’ Day 2017: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

U.S. President Barack Obama winks as he tells a joke about his place of birth during the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, D.C., April 28, 2012. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Today is April 1 which means it’s April Fools’ Day, sometimes incorrectly written as April Fool’s Day. On this day, people play practical jokes on each other and spread hoaxes. The day is not an official holiday but is celebrated in a majority of the western world, where it has its origins in a variety of Christian and non-Christian traditions. According to the Huffington Post, “Some argue that April Fools’ Day is a remnant of early ‘renewal festivals,’ which typically marked the end of winter and the start of spring.”

The first day of spring for 2017 was March 20.

Learn more about the origins and history of April Fools’ Day below!


1. It Has Roots in Paganism

april fools day history, april fools day origins

Re-enactors from the Roman Deva Victrix 20th Legion parade through the city of Chester as they celebrate the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia on December 15, 2016 in Chester, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

As suggested earlier, April Fools’ is possibly a remnant of early “renewal festivals” celebrated by pagans. Sizdah Bedar is the oldest prank-tradition still practiced today. The holiday comes from Iran and can be dated to at least 536 B.C., according to The Express Tribune. It marks the last day of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, which is celebrated on the spring equinox. Sizdah Bedar means “Lie of the Thirteen” since it comes about thirteen days after the initial Nowruz celebration. Even back then, the number thirteen had superstitious connotations.

Another likely origin for April Fools’ Day is Saturnalia, which ancient Romans celebrated in hopes that Saturn would bring back the light and warmth of summer.

Saturnalia was a rowdy holiday that ran from December 17 to December 25. During this time Roman courts were closed and people couldn’t get in trouble for damaging property, hurting other people, or rape. According to History Today, during Saturnalia, Roman community leaders would pick one individual as “an enemy of the Roman people” to represent the “Lord of Misrule.” This unfortunate individual, man or woman, would be forced to indulge in orgies of food and sex throughout the holiday week, then on December 25 would be brutally murdered by the authorities as a representation of vanquishing evil.

Another aspect of Saturnalia included “role reversal,” where servants would be served by their masters throughout the holiday.

However, while the customs of Saturnalia might have laid the groundwork for modern April Fools’ Day (as well as Mardi Gras), April Fools’ Day also fits within the timeline of the Hilaria, the ancient Roman religious festivals celebrated on the March equinox to honor Cybele, the mother goddess, and her son/lover, Attis. Attis committed suicide by castrating himself right before his wedding to someone else. Cybele wanted to honor Attis’ life by ensuring that his corpse would never rot or decay. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “Attis was fundamentally a vegetation god, and in his self-mutilation, death, and resurrection he represents the fruits of the earth, which die in winter only to rise again in the spring.”

According to the New Historian, the Hilaria “contained hints of the rituals associated with modern April Fools’ – practical jokes and fancy dress.”


2. It May Have Also Been Influenced by Christianity’s ‘Feast of Fools’

At the beginning of Victor Hugo’s classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the characters are participating in a debauchery-filled festival known as “The Feast of Fools.” During this time, the hunchback Quasimodo is crowned the “Pope of Fools,” similar to the Saturnalian “Lord of Misrule.”

The Feast of Fools was a feast day first celebrated by the clergy in Europe in the early Middle Ages. It began in northern France but later spread to the majority of Europe. Its original date of celebration was the Feast of the Circumcision on January 1, which marked the circumcision of Jesus. During this time, role reversal was also practiced to mimic Jesus washing his disciples’ feet in John 13:1-17.

The Feast of Fools continued to grow in its rowdiness until it was banned by the Council of Basel in 1431, however it continued to be celebrated at some levels in France as late as 1644.


3. April 1 Is Believe to Have Been First Associated With Foolishness in 1392

april fools day history, april fools day origins

The knight and squire from the Ellesmere manuscript, an early 15th century manuscript of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Geoffrey Chaucer, author of the 1392 story collection The Canterbury Tales, perhaps wrote the first recorded association between April 1 and foolishness. However, he did not use the term “April Fools” and his writing is open to interpretation.

The April Fools text comes from The Nun’s Priest’s Tale, which tells the story of a rooster outwitting a fox. The possible reference to April Fools’ Day comes in the middle of the story, where Chaucer writes:

When that the monthe in which the world bigan
That highte March, whan God first maked man,
Was complet, and passed were also
Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two

According to Hoaxes.org:

One way of reading this (and, as we shall see, not the only possible way) is that it’s a roundabout, repetitive way of saying the story takes place on April 1, because this is the day you arrive at a) when March is complete, and b) when 32 days (thritty days and two) have passed since March began (i.e., April 1 = March 32). However, it’s also possible these lines indicate a date of April 2. After all, if 32 days have passed since March began, that would land us on the 2nd, not the 1st. The precise meaning is ambiguous.

Since the story is about a rooster tricking a fox out of becoming his meal, Chaucer experts have argued that the author specified April 1 since it is associated with foolishness. However, this may just be a modern people projecting the current zeitgeist onto the past.


4. New Year’s Used to be Celebrated in the Spring

april fools day history, april fools day origins

Confetti floats through the air as the new year is rung in in Times Square on January 1, 2016 in New York City. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

It wasn’t until the 16th century that Europe celebrated the New Year on January 1. New Year’s Day used to be April 1. Even the name “April” reflects this, which comes from the Latin “Aperire” or “opening.” However, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered the creation of a new calendar, which we still use today. The Gregorian calendar replaced the old Julian calendar and moved the New Year to January 1.

According to The Tribune Express, “Most people refused to make the shift and continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1 with a bit of fun to demonstrate their indifference.”


5. Western Countries Each Have Their Own Prank Styles

april fools day history, april fools day origins

Co-creators Jimmy Kimmel, on right, and Adam Carolla at the premiere of Comedy Central’s series Crank Yankers in New York City. 5/29/02 (Scott Gries/ImageDirect

While April Fools’ is celebrated by a majority of the western world, each country has its on variance and rules on how pranks should be played.

In the United Kingdom, pranks can only be played until midday, reports the Independent. They write, “The source of Britain’s deadline might be the 17th century’s well-named Shig-Shag day, when celebrants put oak sprigs in their hats to show loyalty to the monarchy, in reference to Charles II’s hiding in an oak tree. Those who failed to observe the custom could only be ridiculed until midday.”

In Italy, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and French-speaking areas of Switzerland and Canada, the day is known as “April Fish” or poissons d’avril. This stems from their tradition of trying to attach a paper fish to a victim’s back without being noticed.

In the U.S., pranks are widespread, from simple office pranks to Google’s “self-driving bike,” announced on April 1, 2016.

Happy April Fools’!

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Health: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Getty)

Just how much influence is President Donald Trump going to have on the U.S. Supreme Court? His administration hasn’t been quiet about its hopes to replace as many as four justices — with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg near the top of the list.

But with rumbling concerns about her health, Ginsburg doesn’t appear to be ready to step down. In fact, the same week she was a no-show at President Trump’s address to Congress, she was in the news for her impressive workout regimen.

Now aged 84, and the senior member of the high court’s four-person liberal wing, Ginsburg has had a series of health issues. Since the 1990s she has suffered two bouts of cancer as well as heart problems.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. She’s the Oldest Supreme Court Justice

U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg shortly after her confirmation in August 1993. (Getty)

Appointed by President Bill Clinton, Ginsburg took the Oath of Office on Aug. 10, 1993.

She is the oldest serving justice, while Justice Stephen G. Breyer is 78, and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who has sided with liberals on key issues, is 80. And when it comes to length of service on the court, only two of the other current justices have served longer – Kennedy and Justice Clarence Thomas.

Since the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia only 8 justices have served on the court. Trump has appointed conservative U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch, 49, as Scalia’s replacement, who is awaiting confirmation.

But with an aging bench, Trump stands to have a major impact on the court’s future.

Last year, after Ginsburg called him a “faker” who “really has an ego,” he shot back on Twitter, asking her to resign. Ginsburg later apologized.

Last summer, Ginsburg said in an interview that she won’t step down from her job “as long as I can do it full steam.

In a recent BBC interview, she said she looked to the example of Justice John Paul Stevens, who served until he was 90.

But, she said, “at this stage of my life I take it year by year.”


2. She’s Had Cancer Twice, Plus Heart Problems

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at President Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony. (Getty)

In 1999, Ginsburg was diagnosed with colon cancer. She successfully underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to treat it.

But during a routine scan in 2009 at the National Institutes for Health, doctors discovered a small cancerous tumor in her pancreas. Although at the time the diagnosis seemed grim, she successfully recovered.

Neither bout of cancer caused her to miss any significant time on the bench.

Later on in 2009, while undergoing outpatient treatment for iron deficiency, she spent a night in the hospital after feeling lightheaded.

Most recently, on Nov. 26, 2014, she felt discomfort after a workout session with her personal trainer, and was admitted to the hospital. Doctors placed a stent in her heart.

When it comes to her immediate family health history, her mother, Cecilia Bader, died of cancer at the age of 47, when Ruth was only 17.

Her father, Nathan Bader, died at the age of 71. She also had an older sister, Marilyn, who died of meningitis at the age of 6.

Her husband Martin Ginsburg died in 2010 at the age of 78, after battling cancer.


3. Her Workout Almost Crushed a 27-Year-Old Reporter

Back in 1999, after her bout with colon cancer, Ginsburg, who stands 5’1” and weighs just over 100 pounds, wanted to regain strength so she started a regular workout regimen with personal trainer Bryant Johnson.

Ginsburg works out for about an hour twice a week in a gym inside the Supreme Court. Her normal workout time is around 7 p.m.

Her workout includes a wide variety exercises, from squats and rows to balance and core work. She can chest press press 70 pounds, according to her trainer, who also works with two other Supreme Court justices.

Just before her 80th birthday, she was able to do 20 pushups.


4. She Likes Being Notorious RBG

When she was first appointed to the Supreme Court, she was called the Thurgood Marshall of gender equality law.

But it wasn’t until Justice Sandra Day O’Connor stepped down from the bench in 2005 that Ginsburg – then the sole woman on the court – started to step forward as an outspoken leader.

And by 2007, Supreme Court watchers said she became more vocal, issuing powerful dissents and choosing to read them aloud, something she hadn’t often done previously.

By 2013, she became a unwitting hero on social media, with the launching of the Notorious R.B.G. page on Tumblr, which spawned a range of merchandise bearing her likeness.

Ginsburg was unaware of she’d become a phenomenon until a law clerk told her about the Tumblr page, which was created by an NYU law student who compared the petite Ginsburg to rapper Notorious B.I.G.

Ginsburg got a kick out of the site, and she and her grandchildren follow the Tumblr account. In fact, Ginsburg has said she has a large supply of Notorious RBG T-shirts, which she has given as gifts.


5. She Doesn’t Need the Money

Ginsburg grew up in a low-income, working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn. Her father was a furrier and her mother worked in a garment factory.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in government from Cornell University in 1954, finishing first in her class. That same year she married law student Martin D. Ginsburg. The first few years of their marriage were challenging, as their first child, Jane, was born shortly after Martin was drafted into the military. Ginsburg put the rest of her education on hold until he returned from military service.

Ginsburg and her husband eventually both graduated from law school, and over the years their fortunes improved considerably.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Ginsburg ranks second in the judicial branch when it comes to personal wealth, with an estimated net worth of nearly $10.6 million.

It has dipped significantly over the years, from a high of more than $31 million in 2007.

The most recent document shows Breyer ranking first among the justices in net worth, at just under $12 million.

In 2017, the salary for associate justices serving on the U.S. Supreme Court is $251,800.

Ginsburg’s most recent financial disclosure also shows dividend income from a variety of investments, as well as travel costs she received for participating in several law-related programs or lectures.

 

WATCH: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Calls Trump a ‘Faker’

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called Donald Trump a “faker” during an interview with CNN. She later apologized for the comments.

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WATCH: Trump Leaves Signing Ceremony Without Signing Anything

President Trump walked out of a White House executive-order signing ceremony on March 31 without actually signing the orders in question.

The ceremony started out as a standard White House photo op. First, Vice-President Mike Pence spoke highly of both Trump and the executive orders he was there to sign: “This is a great day for the American worker and a great day for the American economy. Once again, President Trump is keeping his word as we look for ways to expand exports from this country, imports to this country, this president is determined that we’re going to have free trade, but it’s going to be fair trade … holding [other nations] accountable to the promises that they make.” Pence went on to say that the orders would “ensure that we put America first, when it comes to trade. We put American jobs and American workers first.”

Then Trump took the podium and said “Thank you, everybody. You’re going to see some very, very strong results, very, very quickly. Thank you very much.”

After this very, very brief speech, Trump left the podium. An unseen man in the press pool (whom Bloomberg correspondent Justin Sink identified on Twitter as CBS News White House correspondent Major Garrett) then spoke up and asked Trump if he was trying to tell the Department of Justice to grant immunity to his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. “Were you trying to do that, Mr. President? Was that your intention, Mr. President, sir?” Trump ignored the question, said nothing and started walking out of the room. Pence tried to stop him, but Trump motioned toward the off-screen desk holding the still-unsigned executive orders.

Trump signed the two orders later, off-camera. The White House claims both orders are directed at targeting foreign trade abuses: one demanding a 90-day study of U.S. trade deficits with various trading partners, and another demanding stricter enforcement of “anti-dumping” rules. (The World Trade Organization defines “dumping” as when “a company exports a product at a price lower than the price it normally charges on its own home market.”)

When discussing the incident on Twitter later, the president made no mention of his early exit from the ceremony, saying only that “We are going to defend our industry & create a level playing field for the American worker. It is time to put #AmericaFirst & #MAGA!”

WATCH: Michael Flynn Says Immunity is an Indication of Crime

Michael Flynn told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that an immunity grant is an indication that a crime was “probably committed.” Watch the Mike Flynn video.

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