The Slatest
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Nov. 20 2017 9:15 AM

Famed Cult Leader Charles Manson Has Died at 83

Charles Manson, the leader of a murderous cult behind the gruesome 1969 killings of actress Sharon Tate and six others, died Sunday at age 83 of natural causes, according to a press release from the California Department of Corrections.

Manson, who has remained one of the most famous murderers of the past 50 years and a constant source of public fascination, died in the hospital in Kern County, California, after serving most of his life in prison.

Before the murders, Manson had espoused an erratic ideology that drew on anti-authoritarianism and hippie culture, racial animosity, Scientology, the biblical end times, and Hitler’s writings, and included a belief that an apocalyptic race war called Helter Skelter—named after a Beatles song—was coming. By the summer of 1969, Manson had accrued a small cult following in what became known as the Manson family, composed primarily of young women from middle-class backgrounds.

On Aug. 9, 1969, three of Manson’s followers slaughtered the pregnant actress Sharon Tate, who was then married to the director Roman Polanski, at her home, as well as an heiress to the Folgers Coffee fortune, a celebrity hairdresser, a Polish movie director, and a friend of the estate’s caretaker. The next night, his followers stabbed to death a wealthy grocer and his wife. Manson and his followers believed the murders would hasten the race war, according to prosecutors.

Manson and the involved followers were convicted on several counts of murder and sentenced to death, but before their sentences could be carried out, the California Supreme Court ruled the death penalty to be illegal. Manson remained in prison for the rest of his life, and he always maintained he hadn’t ordered the murders and felt no guilt, according to the New York Times. Three of his followers remain in prison.

According to the Associated Press, Manson has no known next of kin, and the California Department of Corrections doesn’t yet know what will happen with the body.

Nov. 19 2017 6:39 PM

Bills Quarterback Nathan Peterman Ties Keith Null for NFL Record. (It's a Record for Being Bad.)

Tyrod Taylor had a rough game last Sunday. Going against an excellent Saints team, the Bills’ normally solid quarterback passed for 56 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. It was the worst game of his career, but rather than let him bounce back against the Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo coach Sean McDermott made a befuddling and awful move, deciding to start rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman in Taylor’s place on Sunday.

Taylor is not a bad quarterback. He was a huge part of the Bills’ 5-4 start, which put them in the thick of the playoff hunt. Peterman, meanwhile, can proudly say that he led the Bills back from a 47-3 deficit to a 47-10 loss against the Saints after Taylor was benched. That’s the extent of Peterman’s NFL career. To sit Taylor after a single bad game was, in a word, stupid. Wait, let’s give it two words: insanely stupid.

When McDermott announced the switch on Wednesday, he said he was “impressed” by Peterman’s “maturity,” calling the move a “calculated risk.” It now joins history’s other notable calculated risks, including invading Russia in the wintertime and giving Chevy Chase a talk show.

In the first half against the Chargers, Peterman threw for 66 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions in leading the Bills into the locker room down 37-7. He tied the Rams’ Keith Null for most interceptions thrown by a player in his first start, a record set in 2009. I would advise Peterman not to check the trajectory of Null’s career from that point forward.

We saw some bad quarterback play on Sunday, but this was the Mona Lisa of incompetence under center. Heck, it was the entire Louvre. There is really no explanation as to why McDermott kept sending Peterman back out there. Perhaps two billionaires had made a wager that they could turn a street urchin into a starting NFL quarterback, and McDermott had to at least wait until halftime to see the bet out?

Throughout that nightmare first half, the Twitter account of Mike Rodak, ESPN’s Bills reporter, became a Peterman tracking service, alerting disbelieving readers each time the quarterback ran onto the field, and informing us all about just how just loudly the traveling Buffalo fans booed him when he did.

Five interceptions is a lot. For reference, over the first nine games of the season, Taylor had thrown only three. That’s pretty good! I bet the Bills wished they had a quarterback like that.

In conclusion, McDermott managed to aggrieve his starting quarterback, destroy the confidence of the rookie backup, and perhaps throw away his team’s playoff chances, all in one fell swoop.

Taylor replaced Peterman for the Bills’ first offensive series of the second half, but he was joined on the field by hundreds of horses who had escaped before McDermott could shut the barn doors at the StubHub Center.

Peterman, meanwhile, attempted to return to his home planet.

Nov. 19 2017 5:24 PM

Trump Tweets “I Should Have Left Them in Jail” About UCLA Basketball Players Arrested in China

President Donald Trump’s caudillo-like insistence on injecting himself into all aspects of American life continued on Sunday morning, when the president of the United States made another gallingly unnecessary tweet, this time about the legal case of three UCLA basketball players who had been briefly held in China on the suspicion of shoplifting. One of the three freshman players involved in the incident was LiAngelo Ball, brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball and son of professional father, LaVar Ball.

Trump, shockingly, was aggrieved that he wasn’t getting more appreciation for helping facilitate their release from the country (aka doing his job).

The UCLA players were on a team trip to China to play a game against Georgia Tech when they were arrested on Nov. 7 on suspicion of stealing a pair of sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store as well as items from two other high-end stores near the team hotel in Hangzhou. The incident escalated quickly and the players’ passports were taken and their travel restricted by Chinese authorities. The players missed the team’s game with Georgia Tech in Shanghai and were forced to remain behind in China to deal with the fallout of the charges even after the rest of the team returned to Los Angeles.

President Trump said he raised the players’ case with China President Xi Jinping while on his Asian tour earlier this month. The players returned home to the U.S. on Tuesday. By Wednesday, Donald Trump managed to be pre-emptively offended that he wasn't being sufficiently feted.

During a Wednesday press conference, the teenage players, themselves, issued apologies for their behavior and thanked everyone involved for helping to resolve the matter and bringing them home, including President Trump. “I’d also like to thank President Trump and the United States government for the help that they provided as well,” LiAngelo Ball said. All three players were suspended from the Bruins basketball team indefinitely.

That seemed to please our leader who took a pass at dishing sage, almost father-like tweet advice.

LaVar Ball, who has made a name for himself as a professional talker while attempting to build a brand around his three basketball playing sons, was in China during the week-long incident. It’s not totally clear what the exact circumstances of the players’ release were, and when asked about the president’s role, Ball told ESPN Friday: “Who? What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

Ball’s comments, while not particularly gracious given the circumstances, once again proved no slight is too small to pierce the president’s thin candy shell. Sunday’s tweet from the president of the United States calling out Lavar Ball by name somehow seemed like a foregone conclusion. And, in the end, that’s surely exactly what Ball wanted.

Nov. 19 2017 4:26 PM

Quarterback Statistics That May or May Not Be Referenced in Pending Grievances

In October, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL. He and his lawyer argue that team owners are colluding to keep Kaepernick out of the league. It’s a coordinated effort, the grievance alleges, to punish a player who protested performances of the national anthem throughout the 2016 season.

In a statement, Mark Geragos, Kaepernick’s lawyer, said, “Protecting all athletes from such collusive conduct is what compelled Mr. Kaepernick to file his grievance…Colin Kaepernick’s goal has always been, and remains, to simply be treated fairly by the league he performed at the highest level for and to return to the football playing field.”

In order to win the case, NFL team owners will have to convincingly prove that Kaepernick simply doesn’t belong on an NFL roster due to his abilities (or, more appropriately, lack thereof). Their argument will be: we don’t need Colin Kaepernick.

In somewhat related news, here are a few quarterback stat lines from Sunday’s early slate of games. Evidence, if you will, of the fact that these players are on NFL rosters.

Jay Cutler: 6-12, 83 yards. 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions.

Brett Hundley: 21-36, 239 yards. 0 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 1 fumble, 0 points scored.

DeShone Kizer: 16-32, 179 yards. 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, 3 fumbles.

Eli Manning: 19-35, 205 yards. 0 touchdowns. (Including overtime.)

Alex Smith: 27-40, 230 yards. 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions. (Including overtime.)

Surely going unmentioned by the aggrieved party will be the quarterback statistics from Sunday’s inexplicable Blaine Gabbert-Tom Savage shootout in Houston. Theoretical physicists, however, will spend decades studying the game tape, struggling to explain what exactly happened there.

Nov. 19 2017 1:34 PM

How to Rescue Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell's Relationship

The NFL is in the midst of a palace drama deserving of its own PBS mini-series. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is reportedly doing everything in his power to undermine and hamstring commissioner Roger Goodell, just as Goodell is angling for a lucrative contract extension. According to ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham, Jones has pledged to “to make Goodell's life miserable.”

The reporting of Van Natta Jr. and Wickersham (as well as ESPN's Chris Mortensen) has been so revealing that one can only assume they have all been shrunk down in order to eavesdrop from within the fibers of the league office’s carpeting. According to their ESPN The Magazine story, tensions between Goodell and Jones arose after the commissioner doled out a six-game suspension to Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott in response to a domestic violence investigation. When Goodell informed Jones of the decision over the phone in August, the Cowboys owner reportedly shot back, ”I’m gonna come after you with everything I have…If you think [New England Patriots owner] Bob Kraft came after you hard, Bob Kraft is a p---y compared to what I'm going to do."

The two were thick as thieves until Goodell’s handling of the Elliott affair. For years, Jones had been one of Goodell’s most reliable backers, and his sway helped Goodell rise to the position of commissioner in 2006. Goodell returned the favor by supporting Jones’ efforts to build a lavish, $1.3 billion stadium. Despite all this, their love story has come to a tumultuous end. Jones has fervently (and effectively) fought the Elliott suspension in court, but he hasn’t stopped there. Now, he’s going after Goodell’s job, and it has taken a toll on the commissioner. According to the ESPN story, “[Goodell’s] face has changed due to relentless stress; it is now sallow and lined and tired.”

Other team owners have been forced to take sides, and the league is “teetering on an all-out, unprecedented civil war.” If Goodell and Jones can’t patch things up, there’s no telling what could happen to the NFL. In order to “protect the shield,” it is imperative that these two warring parties do the sensible thing and Google “how to rescue a bad relationship.”

WikiHow, the internet’s freest and most animated advice network, has some tips. On their “How to Rescue a Relationship” page, they suggest that you first “decide if you are both committed to saving the relationship” and then “consider the reasons why you are still together with your partner.” The latter is obvious: Goodell and Jones are together to manufacture leverage against the players in order to maximize profits for team owners, who then pass along their thanks to the commissioner in the form of an embarrassingly rich contract.

If WikiHow’s sensible guidance isn’t satisfactory, Goodell and Jones would be well served to consult Yahoo Answers, which is like an advice column crowdsourced by deviant illeterates. There, a user asks, “Should I break up with my girlfriend? She doesn't work and I would be lucky to get sex 2 times a week.” The top-rated answer should give the quibbling Goodell and Jones a lot to chew on:

“u expect that without commitment? maybe she will be the one looking for someone who really loves her...u are lucky...think about that”

Think about that, gentlemen. As a wise sage once wrote, “u are lucky.”

Nov. 19 2017 12:46 PM

New Orleans Elects First Woman Mayor in City’s 300-Year History

Voters in the city of New Orleans elected City Council member LaToya Cantrell as mayor Saturday, the city’s first woman to be elected mayor in its 300-year history. A woman was already assured to be in the mayor’s office, as Cantrell, a Democrat, took on another female Democrat in Judge Desiree Charbonnet in the run-off to replace departing mayor Mitch Landrieu. Cantrell won with 60 percent of the vote.

Katrina was a theme in the backstory of both candidates. Cantrell moved to the city from California. Her work as a neighborhood activist in the aftermath of Katrina in the hard-hit Broadmoor neighborhood helped her win a seat on council in 2012.
Charbonnet, from a well-known political family in New Orleans, was the city’s elected recorder of mortgages before she was a judge. In the campaign she made a point of saying hers was the first city office to re-open after Katrina, providing critical property records to the displaced.

Cantrell will take office with a few questions surrounding her political career that still need to be answered. During the race, the 45-year-old faced criticism from the Charbonnet campaign over her City Council credit card usage. “Some of Cantrell’s spending remains unexplained, particularly the usefulness of her international travel,” the Times-Picayune reports. “The Louisiana Legislative Auditor is investigating all City Council credit card spending, which has totaled more than $400,000 since 2013.”

Nov. 19 2017 11:14 AM

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Ousted by Own Political Party, Given Monday Deadline to Resign Presidency or Face Impeachment

Update, 5:30 p.m.: Appearing set to resign the presidency of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe addressed the nation on state-TV Sunday night in what was expected to be his official goodbye. That appears to be what those in his party believed after ousting him from the party earlier in the day. But in his meandering prepared remarks, the embattled leader did not announce his resignation, instead hinting the he would continue on. Mugabe appears to have double-crossed the military and political leaders who say they were offering the longtime leader the opportunity to resign rather than face impeachment. The resignation did not materialize and the political drama in Harare continues, at least for one more day. It’s unclear how Mugabe could feasibly forge a path to stay in power, but the 93-year-old, through cunning and ruthlessness, has managed to keep his perch atop Zimbabwe for 37 years.

Update, 12:00 p.m.: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has reportedly agreed to step down.

Original Post: Robert Mugabe’s own political party, Zanu-PF, ousted the longtime Zimbabwean president from the party leadership Sunday and appointed former-Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to replace him. Mnangagwa was, himself, fired by Mugabe two weeks ago in an apparent move to clear a path for his wife to assume leadership of the party en route to the presidency. Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe, along with a handful of Mugabe allies were also expelled from the party.

The scene at the party’s headquarters after the vote to remove Mugabe:

After tens of thousands took to the streets in Harare on Saturday in support of Mugabe’s removal, on Sunday, the Zanu-PF leadership not only dealt what appears to be a final death blow to Mugabe’s hopes of staying in power, it began to squeeze the one-time national hero, putting a Monday morning deadline on his voluntary resignation from the presidency, a title which he still, technically, holds on to. If Mugabe refuses to go, the party leadership will vote to impeach the president as soon as Tuesday, bringing an end to his calamitous 37-year reign as the leader of the country, despite rising to power as an independence hero.

The move leaves the 93-year-old Mugabe politically isolated after being put under house arrest by the country’s military leadership on Wednesday. Since his arrest, Mugabe has reportedly resisted stepping aside, as negotiations continued for his peaceful departure. Elections are scheduled to be held in 2018.

Nov. 18 2017 6:30 PM

U.S. Nuclear Commander Says He’d Refuse to Carry Out Any “Illegal” Trump-Ordered Nuclear Strike

The top U.S. nuclear commander told a security conference Saturday that he would not execute a nuclear launch ordered by President Trump if he considered the order to be “illegal,” CBS News reports. The remarks by Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, were delivered to an audience at the Halifax International Security Forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in response to a question about his predecessor’s testimony earlier this week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that nuclear operators would refuse to carry out an unlawful order by the President.

The question of rogue orders from the President of the United States was not on the minds of most observers in the post-Cold War world, but with the arrival of a half-cocked president with a Twitter account coupled with escalating nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula, the possibility of nuclear conflict, while still unlikely, seems far less remote. "We're not stupid people. We think about these things a lot,” Hyten said in response to the question about a questionable Trump-ordered nuclear strike. “When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?"

From CBS News:

"I provide advice to the president, he will tell me what to do," Hyten added. "And if it's illegal, guess what's going to happen? I'm going to say, 'Mr. President, that's illegal.' And guess what he's going to do? He's going to say, 'What would be legal?' And we'll come up with options, with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that's the way it works. It's not that complicated."
Hyten said he has been trained every year for decades in the law of armed conflict, which takes into account specific factors to determine legality -- necessity, distinction, proportionality, unnecessary suffering and more. Running through scenarios of how to react in the event of an illegal order is standard practice, he said.
"If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. You could go to jail for the rest of your life," Hyten said.

Nov. 18 2017 5:56 PM

U.S. Joins Search for Argentine Navy Sub That Went Missing Wednesday

On Saturday, a U.S. plane and British ship have joined the hunt for a missing Argentine Navy submarine as concern grows over the fate of the 44 crew members on the vessel that officials believe is stranded in the San Jorge Gulf. The ARA San Juan submarine has not been heard from since Wednesday when it was last tracked some 267 miles off the coast on a routine security patrol; the country’s three subs are often used to combat illegal fishing, the New York Times reports.

The Argentine government initially downplayed the severity of the sub going quiet, saying it could be the result of faulty communications equipment on the three-decade old submarine. The Argentine Navy said the sub has sufficient supplies of food and oxygen and that the protocol in a communications blackout is for the submarine to surface. As the length of time without communication with the craft stretched into Friday with the search effort slowed by high winds and 20-foot waves off the country’s Patagonia region, where the sub is thought to be, President Mauricio Macri escalated the response, calling for international assistance in locating the missing vessel. In response, a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon plane is expected to arrive in the country Saturday evening, a British ice patrol ship stationed in the Falkland Islands is expected to join the search Saturday, and a Chilean aircraft has been dispatched.

On board the sub is Argentina's first female submarine officer, 35-year-old Eliana Krawczyk, according to Agence France-Presse.



Nov. 18 2017 4:09 PM

Tens of Thousands Take to the Streets in Zimbabwe Demanding an End to Robert Mugabe’s Reign

After a tumultuous week in Zimbabwe that saw the arrest of longtime autocrat Robert Mugabe, tens of thousands took to the streets in Harare Saturday demanding the 93-year-old step aside. Exuberant protesters marched alongside soldiers in tanks, some chanting slogans like “Enough is enough” and others carrying signs reading “Mugabe must go.” The public protest amounts to an extraordinary show of support for the military ouster of the often-repressived leader and further evidence that Mugabe’s days in office are numbered despite his reported resistance to relinquishing power.

The march was broadcast on state-TV, something that would have been unthinkable just one week ago, as protesters symbolically gave speeches at Zimbabwe Grounds, the very same venue where Zimbabweans cheered on Mugabe upon his return from exile in 1980 to take the reins of the country following decades of white minority rule. This his how Brezhnev Malaba, an assistant editor at The Zimbabwe Independent, described the day’s events:

On Friday, Mugabe lost the support of his own party, ZANU-PF, with a majority of its leaders supporting his removal from office. According to the Associated Press, the party plans on initiating a recall of Mugabe as early as Sunday. Mugabe is currently being held at the official presidential residence after his arrest following his attempt to clear the path to power for his wife, Grace Mugabe. The detained leader was allowed to attend a college graduation ceremony Friday, but has not made any other public appearances since his arrest. Military leaders are currently negotiating Mugabe’s exit and an end to his 37-year rule that started brightly with Mugabe as a transformative figure, but ultimately devolved into authoritarianism and looting of state resources while the country’s economy tanked and his people suffered.