By Mary Wisniewski CHICAGO (Reuters) - In a public high school in a working-class neighborhood of Chicago, opera singer Eric Owens recently talked with a music class about stage fright, proper breathing and making words matter. "It's got to be like it's coming out of your toes," said the bass-baritone, as he coached the occasionally giggly but attentive freshmen through an early 17th-century Italian madrigal. "Like you're saying it for the first time." Many teens are learning about opera for the first time thanks to one of many national outreach programs aimed at turning kids on to an old art form and injecting an aging, shrinking fan base with new life. The news for U.S. opera has been gloomy in recent years with big opera companies like the New York City Opera and the Baltimore Opera Company shutting down. Nationally just 2.1 percent of Americans saw an opera in 2012, down from 3.2 percent in 2002, according to the National Endowment for the Arts. The generational news is worse. Among those under the age of 25, just 1.8 percent saw an opera in 2012 compared to 3.3 percent for those aged 65-74. "There's a concern that if we see a lot of senior citizens, what happens when they pass away and who will fill those seats?" said Cayenne Harris, manager of Chicago's "Lyric Unlimited" outreach program at the city's 61-year-old Lyric Opera. ARIAS AND ADOLESCENTS Opera, with its long, melodramatic plots, foreign languages and expensive tickets, has long had an image problem with young people. Alejandra Boyer, manager at Lyric Unlimited, said the barriers for teens can be "length, the perceived notion that it's going to be boring (and) that only old, stuffy people come to the opera." Yet with its big, noisy feelings, opera is not a hard sell for many teens, once they are exposed to it, she said. "The intensity with which you fall in love as a teenager is pretty operatic. These teens are really able to latch on to these stories and make them personal," Boyer said "It's not so far from the world of 'Twilight,'" added Harris, referring to the blockbuster teen vampire movie and book franchise. The Lyric addresses the cost issue by offering discounts for children and $20 tickets for college students. Sales under the college program are up 11 percent from 2013 to 2014, while attendance for primary and high school groups is up 25 percent over the same period. Still, Harris said the outreach programs are not only aimed at selling more tickets in the short term. "Our end game isn't necessarily a ticket purchase. We want to encourage people to enjoy the art. They may go off to college, have children and then come back in their 40s and 50s - I consider that a success," Harris said. The Lyric Opera also goes into to Chicago's neighborhoods to perform for grade schoolers. Earlier this month, "The Magic Victrola," a children's opera, played to a nearly sold out crowd at the company's gilded downtown theater. Other Chicago efforts include the two-year-old Youth Opera Council, which gives high school students a chance to meet stars, go backstage and bring their friends to shows. Owens, 44, an African-American who has sung at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and London's Covent Garden, is one of the Lyric's community ambassadors to Chicago's public high schools. In class with Owens, who will play Wotan in the upcoming Lyric production of Wagner's "Ring Cycle," students got tips on getting over stage fright and honing your craft, whatever it is. "You're never perfect at anything," he told them. "You're never not a student. I'm a student right now." Maya Barber, 15, grew up singing gospel, but thought Owens was "awesome" and is starting to like opera. She also said she was happy to see that an opera star could be African-American, like herself. "It gives me more confidence that maybe when I grow up, that I can be an opera singer, or any kind of singer I would like to be," said Barber. (Reporting by Mary Wisniewski, editing by Jill Serjeant and G Crosse)
- The Week
The FEC wants Congress to ban a fundraising tactic used by the Trump campaign: 'It's almost like theft'
The Federal Election Commission in a rare unanimous vote has urged Congress to ban a campaign donation tactic reportedly used by former President Donald Trump's team last year. The FEC on Thursday unanimously voted to recommend Congress ban political campaigns from using prechecked boxes to steer supporters toward making recurring contributions by default, The New York Times reports. "It's important that donors be able to exercise their choices freely," FEC Democratic commissioner Ellen Weintraub told the Times."If their money is being taken from them because of some reverse checkoff option they didn't notice, then they are not giving their money freely. It's almost like theft. I don't want to see donors tricked." The Times previously reported that Trump's campaign in 2020 "deployed prechecked boxes to enroll every donor in weekly withdrawals — unless they unchecked the box," describing this as an "intentional scheme." The Trump operation also reportedly prechecked an additional box that doubled an individual's contribution unless it was unchecked, and they ended up having to refund over $122 million to supporters, according to the Times. This tactic has also been used by Democrats, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, The Hill notes. The FEC said in its recommendation that "many contributors are unaware of the 'pre-checked' boxes and are surprised by the already completed transactions appearing on account statements." Adav Noti, who formerly served in the FEC's general counsel's office, told the Times that for the FEC's Republican and Democratic commissioners to come to a unanimous agreement on a "substantive campaign finance law" recommendation like this is "pretty rare." More stories from theweek.comHouse GOP leader Kevin McCarthy apparently pays $1,500 to live in a 12-bedroom, 16-bath penthouseThe Republican plot to steal the 2024 electionMitch McConnell, asked about the Liz Cheney purge, says '100 percent of my focus is on stopping' Biden
- The Daily Beast
Criminal ComplaintA Utah man accused of assaulting police officers during the Capitol riots invited several of his MAGA friends to his initial court appearance on Thursday—then wreaked havoc during the hearing, yelling at the judge and calling a court official “evil.”Landon Kenneth Copeland, 33, faces several charges, including assaulting officers and disorderly contact, for allegedly attacking several law-enforcement officers during the Jan. 6 siege. Prosecutors allege that during a scuffle, Copeland grabbed a riot shield, shoved a fellow insurrectionist into a police line, and threw “a metal bike rack fence barricade” at officers. During his initial court appearance on Thursday, Copeland came ready for another fight, this time with several lawyers and court officials after he boldly invited some of his friends—and his mother—to join the Zoom. Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather ended up kicking out one of his friends after they chose an “expletive” as their username.Soon after, Copeland began to shout, telling those in the virtual hearing, “I am in my car, I have nothing to hide.” ‘A Terrible Thing’: Husband of Colorado Mom Who Vanished on Mother’s Day Charged With MurderAfter someone asked a court clerk to mute Copeland, the alleged rioter responded: “You are evil!” Refusing to comply with Meriweather’s order to remain silent during the hearing, Copeland interrupted to ask about his conditions, asking, “at what point am I a free individual versus a pre-trial confinement individual?” “Is any of this negotiable? I used to be a free man...until you locked me up,” Copeland said, before finally hushing up.According to a criminal complaint, videos and photographs of the riots “depict Copeland’s assaultive and obstructive conduct” that forced officers to use pepper spray on him in self-defense. “In response, Copeland pushed or threw the fence toward multiple law enforcement officers,” the complaint states.When federal authorities interviewed Copeland on Feb. 11, he admitted he went to a rally in D.C. to support President Donald Trump—and that he fought with officers outside the Capitol. Copeland then allegedly insisted that he felt “police officers were trying to ‘penetrate the line’ of the protesters and ‘steal’ individual members of the crowd, including one person who Copeland described as having been shot in the face by an officer.” Copeland, who insisted he did not enter the Capitol, was seemingly referring to Ashli Babbitt, one of the five individuals who died as a result of the siege. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- The Independent
She said money, power and influence changed the senator
- The Independent
‘Republican voters and donors are sick and tired and fed up with weak Republicans that never accomplish what they claim they’re going to do,’ Georgia Republican says
- Lexington Herald-Leader
“PJ’s Coffee does not tolerate hatred or disrespect of any kind,” the franchise said in a statement.
- Associated Press
After nearly three decades in London, Christophe Reech was fed up with the city's pandemic lockdowns. This spring, he sold his luxury townhouse and jetted off to the desert sheikhdom of Dubai to start a new life with his family. The French business magnate’s super wealthy foreign friends were doing the same, driving an unprecedented surge in sales of Dubai's most-exclusive properties.
- The Daily Beast
Fox NewsWhat is the “Big Lie”? Is it a former president and his allies claiming widespread voter fraud and a “stolen” election? Or is it a Republican congresswoman calling those lies the “Big Lie”? Who’s to say, suggests one Fox News anchor, whose ostensible job it is to report the news.During Thursday’s broadcast of America Reports—one of Fox News’ “straight news” programs—anchor John Roberts ended an interview with Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) by deploying a high-grade bothsidesism to ask him about House Republicans’ push to oust Rep. Liz Cheney. The Wyoming lawmaker is at risk of being forced from her leadership position because she insists on calling out former president Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 presidential election.Noting that Cheney survived an attempt to vote her out earlier this year, Roberts pointed out that Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY)—a staunch Trump ally who supported his push to overturn last year’s election—has the inside track to supplant Cheney.Brady, for his part, attempted to thread the needle and offer up some praise for Cheney, claiming she is a “fierce conservative” who has gained a “great deal of respect” over her “vote of conscience” on impeachment. (Cheney was one of only 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.)The Fox anchor then decided to frame Trump’s outright lies about widespread voter fraud as merely a “sharp disagreement” with Cheney, suggesting this GOP feud is an unsettled issue that is still up for debate.“Trump says the ‘Big Lie’ was the result of the 2020 election. Liz Cheney says, no, the ‘Big Lie’ was suggesting the 2020 election was stolen. Between the two of them, who is right?” Roberts asked the Texas congressman, who is retiring after this term.“I’ll leave that dispute to them,” Brady said, prompting a chuckle from Roberts.This was not the first time the Fox anchor has framed Trump’s baseless election claims as nothing more than a difference of opinion between the ex-president and the Liz Cheneys of his own party.Earlier this week, during an interview with Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Roberts brought up Trump’s claim that the “fraudulent” election will now be known as the “Big Lie” before contrasting it with Cheney’s response that the “2020 election was not stolen” and the “Big Lie” was the act of deploying those falsehoods.“Who of the two of them is right?” Roberts wondered aloud.After Barrasso didn’t directly answer the question—instead stating that Biden is in the White House and the election was verified—Roberts again asked: “Was the 2020 election stolen or was it fought fairly?” Fox News viewers may never know.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Associated Press
Rep. Elise Stefanik stated her case Thursday for replacing Rep. Liz Cheney as the No. 3 House Republican leader, implicitly lambasting Cheney's battles with former President Donald Trump by saying, “We are one team and that means working with the president." The remarks by Stefanik, R-N.Y., a one-time moderate who's evolved into an ardent Trump champion, came as Cheney seems likely to be tossed from her leadership post next week. Cheney, R-Wyo., has repeatedly rejected Trump's false insistence that he lost the 2020 election because of widespread fraud, and has blamed him for inflaming followers who assaulted the Capitol on Jan. 6.
- Business Insider
The account was an extension of his new website, From the Desk of Donald J. Trump, in which he writes tweet-like posts his followers can share.
The Pentagon said Wednesday it's tracking the uncontrolled descent of the Long March-5B Y2 rocket that carried a Chinese Space Station module to orbit last week.Details: Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters the rocket's debris was expected to return to Earth "somewhere around" May 8 and that the U.S. Space Command has said "almost the entire body of the rocket" remains intact. "It's too soon to know exactly where it's going to come down," he added.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeOur thought bubble, via Axios' Miriam Kramer: This isn't the first time a rocket or spacecraft launched by China's space agency has come down to Earth uncontrolled. Space watchers also played a waiting game as China’s Tiangong-1 space station came back through the atmosphere in 2018, eventually burning up above the Pacific Ocean.Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.
Remnants of a large Chinese rocket launched last week are expected to plunge back through the atmosphere this weekend in an uncontrolled re-entry being tracked by U.S. Space Command, the U.S. military said on Wednesday. The Long March 5B rocket blasted off from China's Hainan island on April 29 carrying the Tianhe module, which contains what will become living quarters for three crew on a permanent Chinese space station. The rocket's exact point of descent into Earth's atmosphere as it falls back from space "cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its reentry," which is projected to occur around May 8, Space Command said in a statement posted online.
- The Independent
FBI and state police were called-in to find abducted toddler
- The Independent
Ex-president owned the building before handing it back to his lenders in 1991
- Business Insider
Dominion urges court not to dismiss its $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani over election conspiracy theories
Rudy Giuliani is one of the people Dominion sued over false conspiracy theories that the company manipulated 2020 election results.
- The Independent
‘To hell with it’: Sean Hannity gives up on planet, says humanity should ‘have a big party’ instead of fighting climate crisis
‘I’m like, if it’s done in 12 years, oh, to hell with it,’ Mr Hannity said on his radio show. ‘Let’s just have a big party and you know, eat, drink, and barbecue and be merry’
Authorities in New York City are looking for a woman who allegedly attacked two Asian pedestrians with a hammer over the weekend. The incident, which was caught on surveillance video, occurred on the 410 block of West 42nd Street at around 8:40 p.m. on Sunday. "She was talking to herself, like talking to a wall, I thought maybe she was drunk or something so we just wanted to pass through her quickly," Theresa, 31, told ABC7 New York reporter CeFaan Kim.
- Business Insider
Rudy Giuliani has reportedly shed his entourage and hired a part-time driver to cut costs as his legal fees mount
The former New York City mayor reportedly pays as much as $42,000 per month in alimony, which may have factored into the layoffs, Politico reported.
- Business Insider
Netflix's Mark Millar plans to build a streaming superhero universe starting with 'Jupiter's Legacy,' after inspiring some of Marvel's biggest stories
Comic writer and Millarworld president Mark Millar talked to Insider about Netflix's purchase of his company and its first series, "Jupiter's Legacy."
- The Week
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is extremely effective against two dangerous variants of the coronavirus, the B.1.1.7 strain first found in the United Kingdom and the B.1.351 variant discovered in South Africa, researchers reported Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet. Moderna also reported Wednesday that, according to early results from its booster shot trial, a third dose of its vaccine given six to eight months after the first two doses boosted antibodies to protect against the South African B.1.351 variant and other worrisome strain found in Brazil. Moderna is testing its original vaccine and a version modified to target the B.1.351 variant. The new variants are more transmissible than the original strain and, some studies suggest, deadlier. The New England Journal of Medicine study examined records of more than 200,000 people from Qatar's COVID-19 database. The Pfizer vaccine was 87 to 89.5 percent effective at preventing infection from the B.1.1.7 variant among people two weeks past their second shot, 72.1 to 75 percent effective against the B.1.351 variant, and 100 percent effective at preventing severe, critical, or fatal cases of either variant, the researchers found. The study in The Lancet was based on more than 230,000 cases from Israel. It found that the Pfizer vaccine was more than 95 percent effective against infection, hospitalization, or death in fully vaccinated people 16 and older, and 94 percent effective in people 85 and older. The vaccine efficacy numbers aren't self-evident, but Brains On!, a science podcast for kids, has a short, entertaining, and pretty effective explanation using defecating seagulls. You can watch that below. More stories from theweek.comHouse GOP leader Kevin McCarthy apparently pays $1,500 to live in a 12-bedroom, 16-bath penthouseThe Republican plot to steal the 2024 electionMitch McConnell, asked about the Liz Cheney purge, says '100 percent of my focus is on stopping' Biden
- Business Insider
What it's like to get COVID-19 after a vaccine, according to people who had 'breakthrough' infections
Karlee Camme, 24, was not sick enough to suspect she had COVID-19 after getting fully vaccinated. She got tested when she lost her sense of smell.