LeBron James Joins Other Celebrities Who Launched Schools

With the launch of a public school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, LeBron James has joined a long list of celebrities who have sought to leave their mark on education centers.

The NBA star, who recently left the Cleveland Cavaliers and signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, was on hand Monday to welcome children to the I Promise School, built in a partnership with the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron City Schools. The school launches with a group of third- and fourth-graders and plans to expand to serve first through eighth grades by 2022.

James has said the school, with a non-traditional schedule and year-round programming, can have a lasting impact for children facing the kinds of challenges he faced during a rough childhood. James grew up without a father, and he missed a lot of school because he and his mother lacked transportation.

Here is a look at some of the other celebrities who have been involved in creating schools, sometimes with mixed results:

Deion Sanders

The NFL Hall of Famer co-founded a multi-campus charter school called Prime Prep Academy in Texas in 2012. He coached there and served in other capacities but had a rocky relationship with administrators and was twice fired and rehired. The school’s enrollment slid amid financial and administrative problems, and it closed in early 2015.

Shakira

The singer has funded at least a half-dozen schools for children in her native Colombia over the past two decades with her foundation, Pies Descalzos, which means Barefoot in Spanish. Those institutions included a $6 million school she dedicated in 2009 in her hometown, Barranquilla, on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. She said then that her foundation’s work is about “breaking the myth that quality education is the privilege of the few.”

Magic Johnson

The Lakers legend announced in 2011 that he was partnering with for-profit EdisonLearning Inc. to lend his name and business skills to promote dropout recovery centers. The effort expanded to at least 17 Bridgescape schools in six states within a couple years with the goal of reducing school dropout rates in urban areas. The company and Johnson parted ways after five years, but EdisonLearning says four Bridgescape Learning Academies still operate with the Chicago Public Schools.

Tony Bennett

The singer and his wife, teacher Susan Benedetto, founded the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in 2001 in New York, naming it after the legendary singer, who was Bennett’s best friend. The public performing arts high school in Queens, which gets support from Bennett’s nonprofit group, admits students based on auditions. It boasts a high graduation rate, with alumni who have gone on to study at a variety of top arts colleges. 

Will Smith

The actor-rapper and his actress wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, founded the private New Village Academy in the Los Angeles area in 2008. Pinkett Smith said she was moved to start the school after developing home-schooling programs for their own children, but it was embroiled in controversy over rumors the curriculum used instructional methods developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The couple and school leaders denied any connection to the church. The school reportedly closed in 2013. Representatives for the couple couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Andre Agassi

The tennis great ran the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy for at-risk youth in his hometown, Las Vegas. In 2016, the academy was turned over to an out-of-state operator, and it has been rebranded Democracy Prep at Agassi Campus. The school change was compelled by a Nevada state initiative that targeted low-performing schools. The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education also is tied to an investment fund that helps charter school operators get access to buildings and facilities around the country.

Sean “Diddy” Combs

The performer and entrepreneur added another role in 2016 as founder of the Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School in the New York neighborhood where he was born. He said it was a dream come true to create the school, which is part of a group of schools aimed at supporting historically disadvantaged students.

Pitbull

The rapper, whose real name is Armando Christian Perez, has been a celebrity ambassador for the Sports and Leadership Academy, which has locations in Miami and Henderson, Nevada. He’s appeared at ceremonies for the schools, which focus on sports medicine, marketing, business and management. The academy is overseen by the Sports and Leadership Academy Foundation, and he is not a financial donor.

Madonna

The pop star founded the charity Raising Malawi in 2006 to help vulnerable children in that impoverished southern African nation. Its work has included helping to build schools there. It also funded a children’s wing at a hospital that opened last year.

Japan Asks Russia to Reduce Military Activity on Disputed Islands

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Tuesday Tokyo had asked Russia to reduce its military activity on a disputed island chain in the Pacific after Moscow beefed up its forces there in response to what it sees as a potential threat.

The territorial dispute over the islands, known as the Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, is so acrimonious that Moscow and Tokyo have not yet signed a peace treaty to mark the end of World War II.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev approved the deployment of Russian warplanes on one of the disputed islands in February, accelerating the area’s militarization at a time when Moscow’s ties with Tokyo are strained over the roll-out of the Aegis U.S. missile system.

Moscow has also deployed its newest missile defense systems to the islands and plans to build a naval base there even as it continues talks about the territorial dispute.

“We have asked the Russian side to take particular measures because Russia is building up its military potential on the four northern islands,” Onodera said after meeting his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, in Moscow.

The Soviet Union seized the islands from Japan at the end of World War II.

Onodera said that the ground-based Aegis ballistic missile defense stations were solely intended to defend Japan and did not pose any threat to Russia.

Russia is concerned Japan is allowing Washington to use its territory as a base for a U.S. military build-up in north Asia under the pretext of  countering North Korea.

President Vladimir Putin is expected to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in September in Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East.

In Soviet Echo, Putin Gives Russian Army a Political Wing

Vladimir Putin has created a new directorate inside the Russian army to promote patriotism, evoking memories of a Soviet practice that once saw soldiers taught the precepts of Marxism and Leninism by political commissars.

The move, approved by Putin in a presidential decree published Monday, will affect Russia’s around 1 million active military service people and appears designed to ensure soldiers’ loyalty at a time when Moscow is locked in a geopolitical standoff with the West.

“In conditions of a global information and psychological confrontation [with the West] the role of political and moral unity within the army and society drastically grows,” Alexander Kanshin, who sits on a civilian body that shapes military policy, told Interfax news agency in February.

In the Soviet Union, a similar directorate worked to ensure that the army stayed loyal to the then-ruling Communist party.

Putin, commander-in-chief of Russia’s armed forces, ran as an independent candidate when re-elected to a new term in March, but is supported by the ruling United Russia Party.

His decree said the new directorate would be responsible for “military-patriotic” work and, in a separate decree, Putin made Colonel-General Andrei Kartapolov, a veteran of Russia’s conflict in Syria, its new head and a deputy defense minister.

The defense ministry did not release details of the new directorate, but an unnamed military source told the Kommersant daily that Kartapolov would also be responsible for the activities of the Yunarmiya, a patriotic military youth organization sponsored by the ministry.

After Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea, seen by the Kremlin as a big success, the military has grown increasingly influential in domestic and foreign policy, especially in Syria.

The Bolsheviks, wary of the army’s loyalty, introduced political commissars in 1918. In the late Soviet period, political officers, known as zampolity, tried to ensure soldiers knew their communist doctrine and where their loyalties lay.

Vladimir Scherbakov, a military specialist at the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily, said Putin’s decision to resurrect a version of the Soviet-era directorate raised questions.

“The main question is this. In the Soviet era, the directorate in practice worked in the interests of the Communist Party’s central committee. It’s not completely clear what military-political work the resurrected directorate will do and more importantly in the interests of which political party.”

Others wondered whether the creation of the new directorate was the start of a wider renaissance in ideological education that would draw in schools and colleges, and whether the new instrument would be used to root out young soldiers deemed as too pro-Western.

“All of this is reminiscent of a gradual return to the USSR,” wrote Dmitry Drize, Kommersant’s deputy editor.

Draft Poster for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ Sells for $26,400

A rare draft poster for the “Star Wars” sequel “The Empire Strikes Back” has sold at auction for $26,400.

Heritage Auctions says a long-time pop culture collector who wished to remain anonymous made the winning bid Sunday in the Dallas auction.

 

The poster features Han Solo and Princess Leia in an embrace similar to one from a “Gone With the Wind” poster featuring Rhett Butler carrying Scarlett O’Hara while surrounded by flames.

 

Grey Smith, Heritage’s director of vintage posters, says the draft poster for the 1980 movie “The Empire Strikes Back” is unique because it shows Roger Kastel’s complete artwork in the original color palette.

 

After final revisions, the poster had a darker color scheme than the draft’s vibrant reds and oranges. It was also more streamlined with fewer characters.

Turkish Court Rejects Appeal on US Pastor’s House Arrest

A Turkish court has rejected an appeal for U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson to be released from house arrest while being tried on terrorism charges.

Brunson’s detention has become a pressing issue for the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has threatened sanctions as part of a pressure campaign to free the pastor.

Brunson is next expected in court Oct. 12 as he battles charges of terrorism and espionage. He has been jailed for the past 21 months after indictment on charges of helping a network led by U.S.-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, which Turkey blames for a failed 2016 coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Brunson is also charged with supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The 50-year-old pastor, who denies the charges, could face up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

The detention of Brunson, an evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina, has strained relations between Turkey and the U.S., both NATO allies.

Trump has repeatedly demanded Brunson’s release. The U.S. president has tweeted that Brunson’s detention is “a total disgrace” and added, “He has done nothing wrong, and his family needs him!”

Brunson is among tens of thousands of people Erdogan detained on similar charges during the state of emergency he declared following the failed coup.

The state of emergency ended on July 18, but the Turkish legislature passed a new “anti-terror” law last week that gives authorities more power to detain suspects and restore public order.

 

 

Israel Jails Arab Poet for Online ‘Incitement to Terrorism’

An Israeli court jailed an Israeli Arab poet for five months on Tuesday after convicting her of incitement to terrorism for a poem and remarks she posted on social media during a wave of Palestinian street attacks.

Dareen Tatour, 36, posted on Facebook and YouTube a video of herself reading out her poem “Resist, My People, Resist”, as a soundtrack to footage of masked Palestinian youths throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli soldiers.

Tatour published her poem in October 2015 during a spate of deadly Palestinian stabbing, shooting and ramming attacks on Israelis. She was arrested a few days later, and prosecutors said her post was a call for violence. She denied this.

Her case became a cause celebre for freedom of speech advocates in Israel and abroad. It drew attention to the advanced technology used by Israeli security agencies to trawl through social media to identify and arrest users suspected of incitement to violence, or of planning attacks.

Tatour said her poem was misunderstood by the Israeli authorities as it was not a call for violence, rather for non-violent struggle.

U.S.-backed negotiations on a Palestinian state in territory Israel captured in a 1967 war have been stalled since 2014.

Tatour was also charged with supporting a terrorist group. Prosecutors said she had expressed support for the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad’s call for an uprising.

“I wasn’t expecting justice to be done. The case was political from the start, because I am Palestinian and support freedom of speech,” she told reporters at the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court in northern Israel.

Arab minority

Tatour belongs to Israel’s Arab minority, which comprises mainly descendants of the Palestinians who remained on their land after the 1948 Arab-Jewish war that surrounded the creation of the state of Israel. Hundreds of thousands fled or were driven from their homes.

The court added a six-month suspended sentence to Tatour’s jail time, according to the official minutes distributed by the Justice Ministry. Her lawyer, Gaby Lasky, said Tatour would appeal both the verdict and the sentence.

Israel says the string of Palestinian attacks that began in 2015 was fueled by online incitement and it has launched a legal crackdown to curb it.

Indictments for online incitement have tripled in Israel since 2014. Prosecutions by the Israeli military have also increased in the occupied West Bank – most of those charged are young Palestinians.

The campaign against alleged incitement has raised questions about the balance between security and free speech.

On July 18 the Israeli parliament was set to pass legislation that would have empowered the justice system to order Internet providers, such as Facebook and Google, to take down social media posts in Israel deemed as incitement.

But hours before the scheduled vote Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shelved the bill. An adviser to Netanyahu, Jonatan Urich, said the law was open to a too-wide interpretation that could allow cyber-censorship and harm freedom of speech.

 

Запрошення на навчання в Україні отримали понад 25 тисяч іноземців – Міносвіти

Офіційне запрошення на навчання в Україні з січня до липня 2018 року отримали 25 тисяч 263 студенти-іноземці, повідомив 31 липня Український державний центр міжнародної освіти МОН України.

За цими даними, найбільший попит на українську освіту є серед громадян Марокко, вони отримали 4 тисячі 254 запрошення.

«Оприлюднені дані свідчать про те, що цьогоріч можливість навчатися в Україні отримали більше іноземців, ніж у попередні роки. Для порівняння – за сім місяців 2017 року було зареєстровано 18 тисяч 214 запрошень, а у 2016-му кількість запрошень склала близько 12 тисяч», – розповіла директор центру Олена Шаповалова.

Друга за чисельністю група студентів планує прибути з Індії (3 тисячі 210), третя – з Нігерії (1 тисяча 987). Також понад тисячу студентів в Україну планують відправити Туркменистан, Єгипет, Гана та Алжир.

50 Years on, McDonald’s and Fast-Food Evolve Around Big Mac

McDonald’s is fighting to hold onto customers as the Big Mac turns 50, but it isn’t changing the makings of its most famous burger.

The company is celebrating the 1968 national launch of the double-decker sandwich whose ingredients of “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and a sesame seed bun” were seared into American memories by a TV jingle. But the milestone comes as the company reduces its number of U.S. stores. McDonald’s said Thursday that customers are visiting less often. Other trendy burger options are reaching into the heartland.

The “Golden Arches” still have a massive global reach, and the McDonald’s brand of cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets and french fries remains recognizable around the world. But on its critical home turf, the company is toiling to stay relevant. Kale now appears in salads, fresh has replaced frozen beef patties in Quarter Pounders, and some stores now offer ordering kiosks, food delivery and barista-style cafes.

The milestone for the Big Mac shows how much McDonald’s and the rest of fast-food have evolved around it.

“Clearly, we’ve gotten a little more sophisticated in our menu development,” McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a phone interview.

As with many of its popular and long-lasting menu items, the idea for the Big Mac came from a franchisee.

In 1967, Michael James “Jim” Delligatti lobbied the company to let him test the burger at his Pittsburgh restaurants. Later, he acknowledged the Big Mac’s similarity to a popular sandwich sold by the Big Boy chain.

“This wasn’t like discovering the light bulb. The bulb was already there. All I did was screw it in the socket,” Delligatti said, according to “Behind the Arches.”

McDonald’s agreed to let Delligatti sell the sandwich at a single location, on the condition that he use the company’s standard bun. It didn’t work. Delligatti tried a bigger sesame seed bun, and the burger soon lifted sales by more than 12 percent.

After similar results at more stores, the Big Mac was added to the national menu in 1968. Other ideas from franchisees that hit the big time include the Filet-O-Fish, Egg McMuffin, Apple Pie (once deep-fried but now baked), and the Shamrock Shake.

“The company has benefited from the ingenuity of its small business men,” wrote Ray Kroc, who transformed the McDonald’s into a global franchise, in his book, “Grinding It Out.”

Franchisees still play an important role, driving the recent switch to fresh from frozen for the beef in Quarter Pounders, Easterbrook says. They also participate in menu development, which in the U.S. has included a series of cooking tweaks intended to improve taste.

Messing with a signature menu item can be taboo, but keeping the Big Mac unchanged comes with its own risks. Newer chains such as Shake Shack and Five Guys offer burgers that can make the Big Mac seem outdated. Even White Castle is modernizing, recently adding plant-based “Impossible Burger” sliders at some locations.

A McDonald’s franchisee fretted in 2016 that only one out of five millennials has tried the Big Mac. The Big Mac had “gotten less relevant,” the franchisee wrote in a memo, according to the Wall Street Journal.

McDonald’s then ran promotions designed to introduce the Big Mac to more people. Those kind of periodic campaigns should help keep the Big Mac relevant for years to come, says Mike Delligatti, the son of the Big Mac inventor, who died in 2016.

“What iconic sandwich do you know that can beat the Big Mac as far as longevity?” said Delligatti, himself a McDonald’s franchisee.

Lindsay Lohan to Make US TV Comeback in MTV Reality Series

Lindsay Lohan, whose promising movie career crashed in a string of legal woes and substance abuse, is returning to U.S. television in a reality series about her night club ventures in Greece.

MTV said on Monday that “Lohan Beach Club” will follow the actress as she works to expand a recently launched nightclub and restaurant business in Greece.

The TV network said the show, expected to air in 2019, will see Lohan, 32, lead a team of “brand ambassadors” who will help promote her business “while striving to rise above the temptations the Mykonos night life scene has to offer.”

Lohan, once one of Hollywood’s most-sought after young actresses after starring roles in “The Parent Trap” and “Mean Girls,” went to rehab six times between 2007 and 2013, and was in and out of jail and court repeatedly for offenses ranging from theft to drunken driving and drug possession.

Her last feature movie was the 2013 low-budget thriller “The Canyons” after which she moved to London, and later Dubai. Her biggest acting job since then is dark British TV comedy “Sick Note,” in which she plays a supporting role in the second season that began airing last week.

The Mykonos beach club is Lohan’s third business venture in Greece following the 2016 opening of a nightclub bearing her name in Athens and a beach house in Rhodes which is due to open this summer.

Italy’s PM Plans to Organize Conference on Stabilizing Libya

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Monday he was organizing a conference to look for ways to stabilize Libya, a main departure point for migrants from North Africa trying to reach Europe.

“In agreement with President (Donald) Trump, I’m going to organize a conference on Libya,” Conte told reporters at the White House after meeting with the U.S. president.

“We would like to deal (with) and discuss all of the issues related to the Libyan people, involving all of the stakeholders, actors, protagonists in the whole of the Mediterranean,” said Conte, who took office last month promising a crackdown on immigration.

Italy has told its allies it wants to hold an international conference on Libya this autumn and Conte was eager to get Trump’s blessing for the gathering at their meeting on Monday.

Italy is competing with neighboring France over how best to deal with Libya, which has been wracked by violence for years.

Conte believes a conference in Rome, backed by the United States, will help Rome establish itself as the major interlocutor for Libya’s warring factions.

After their meeting, Conte said Trump had agreed Italy would become “a reference point in Europe and the main interlocutor for the main issues that need to be faced … with particular reference to Libya.”

“We are going to discuss economic aspects, but also social aspects: the need for protection of civil rights; the problem of constitutional process – of issuing and passing laws so as to enable Libya, in particular, to get to democratic elections in a condition of the utmost stability,” Conte said.