By Kevin Murphy JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - Halfway through a tour of the bleak, deserted Missouri State Penitentiary - notorious in its day for assaults, murders and gas chamber executions - nurse Donna Springer tried to explain why she wanted to visit such a place. "Well, it's like ... 'This could have happened to me,'" said Springer. "You have a fascination with it in some way." Former prisons, complete with gift shops and paranormal components, have become increasingly popular tourist destinations in America and abroad. Playing to the public curiosity about life behind bars, more than 100 former prisons and jails have tours or museums, according to a list posted on the website of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Some, such as Eastern State and the Missouri prison, report steadily rising visitor numbers. The 177-year-old Missouri penitentiary in Jefferson City is the biggest tourist draw in town, aside from the State Capitol building a few blocks away, tourism officials said. "People are intrigued about what is behind those walls." said Diane Gillespie, executive director of the Jefferson City Convention & Visitors Bureau. The Missouri penitentiary had more than 19,000 visitors last year, up 10 percent from the previous year. Visitors pay $12 for a two-hour tour and $25 for a three-hour, in-depth look that includes additional areas of the compound, once the largest in the United States. From 2009, the tours have provided a new use for the prison, which had an uncertain future when it closed in 2004. Some other prisons in the U.S. also report a booming tourism business. Eastern State Penitentiary, with a "nighttime haunted house," draws about 160,000 people, up an average of 20 percent annually in recent years. The Old Idaho Penitentiary in Boise drew about 42,000 visitors last year, up from 28,000 four years earlier, officials said. At Alcatraz - the most famous prison open for tours - the number of visitors to the island 1.5 miles offshore from San Francisco are capped at 1.4 to 1.5 million annually, said Howard Levitt, director of communications for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. "The demand far exceeds the availability of the tours," Levitt said. Alcatraz has offered tours since 1973 - 11 years longer than the 1934-1963 period when it was an active prison. Prison tours cater to travelers interested in seeing the unusual, said Amber Beierle, visitor services coordinator for the Old Idaho Penitentiary. "It's a place most of us would never in our lifetime see from personal experience," she said. Some tours at the Missouri prison are given by former guards, who waste no time in calling attention to the brutal history of the place. "Welcome to the bloodiest 47 acres in North America," said tour guide and former guard Bill Green, 65, his long gray hair flowing out from under a scruffy ball cap. "Men died within these walls by the hundreds - and not the low hundreds." Time Magazine in the mid-1960s dubbed the prison the "bloodiest 47 acres" because of the number of inmates who killed or assaulted each other. The prison housed the state's worst of offenders in crowded conditions. More than 5,000 inmates were crammed into the facility in the early 1930s, Green said. In 1954, prisoners rioted, burning down several buildings, killing four inmates and injuring guards and many other inmates. Famous inmates at the Missouri penitentiary included gangster Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd, heavyweight champ Sonny Liston - who learned to box while incarcerated - and James Earl Ray, who escaped in a bakery truck in 1967 and the following year assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Visitors can tour the oldest standing prison cell block, built in 1868, a four-story structure where cells are furnished with musty bunks and rusting toilets and sinks. A stop along the way is "the dungeon" - where inmates who broke rules were locked up in pitch dark, dirty conditions. On Green's tour, his assistant Aloha Gerbes offers visitors a sobering directive: "Follow Bill. He will put you in one of the cells now." The grounds of the prison include a former gas chamber, housed in a small limestone structure built by inmates in the early 1930s. Thirty-eight men and one woman were put to death there before the state changed its execution method in 1989 to lethal injection. In the gas chamber, Green said, capital offenders suffered a "terrible death" by cyanide gas. "You don't just fall asleep," he told the tour group. "The cyanide rips out your sinuses, it tears out your esophagus." Tourists can go inside the gas chamber and sit on the steel chair where prisoners were executed. The goal of most prison tours is not solely to shock people but to show how the penal system has changed over the years. The Missouri tour also delves into work detail, where prisoners performed tasks such as making clothing, school furniture, license plates and many other items. A big boost in prison visits has come from an interest in ghost or "paranormal" tours, officials said. Prisons are thought to be ghostly because they are cavernous, empty and have been the site of executions and other violent deaths, said Beierle at the Idaho prison. But real prison stories are frightening enough to people such as Jim Rhiver, a retired minister who was on Green's recent tour. "You can see how some people went in there for a very short time and still came out hardened," Rhiver said. "It was a terrible place to be." (Reporting By Kevin Murphy; Editing by Greg McCune and Gunna Dickson)
- The Telegraph
David Cameron has accused Theresa May of making a “very bad mistake” by combining the role of National Security Adviser and Cabinet Secretary during her tenure. The former prime minister heaped criticism on his successor, saying her decision in 2018 to hand both roles to one person, Sir Mark Sedwill, “temporarily weakened” Whitehall’s national security infrastructure. “They are two jobs,” Mr Cameron said on Monday. “Even if you were a cross of Einstein, Wittgenstein & Mother Teresa, you couldn’t possibly do both jobs.” The Cabinet Secretary is the most senior civil servant on Whitehall and is the senior policy adviser to the Prime Minister. The NSA is the central co-ordinator and adviser to the prime minister and cabinet on security, intelligence, defence, and some foreign policy matters. The roles were split up again by Boris Johnson after he took office. Addressing MPs and peers who sit on the Joint Committee on the National Strategic Security, Mr Cameron conceded it was a “mistake” that the Government’s future pandemic planning had focused on flu rather than respiratory diseases in the years leading up to the Covid-19 outbreak. “I think there was a pretty good flu pandemic plan but it was a flu plan rather than a respiratory diseases plan,” he said. He also admitted that more lessons should have been learned from the SARS epidemic in 2004. He questioned what had happened to a unit that he said was set up during his administration in the Cabinet Office to concentrate on “global virus surveillance”. Mr Johnson is now pushing for an international version of such a unit. He has called on global leaders to join a “global pandemic early warning system to predict a coming health crisis”, part of his five-point plan for curbing future pandemics. It would require “a vast expansion of our ability to collect and analyse samples and distribute the findings, using health data-sharing agreements covering every country”, the Prime Minister has said. Mr Cameron ruled out returning to the political arena when asked on Monday whether he would consider a comeback. “No,” he said. “Thinking about Donald Trump making a comeback is enough to keep us all spinning over.” He added that he was “happy doing what I’m doing for Alzheimer’s and dementia” and highlighted a fragile states council he has set up with former Liberian and Rwandan ministers. Asked whether he missed being prime minister, he quipped that he did not miss Wednesdays at noon, the time at which he faced his weekly Commons showdown with the Leader of the Opposition during Prime Minister’s Questions. Mr Cameron seized the opportunity to restate his criticism of Mr Johnson for axing the Department for International Development (DfID), branding it another “mistake”. “Having the Foreign Office voice around the (National Security Council) table and the DfID voice around the table I think is important,” Mr Cameron said. He added: “Can you really expect the foreign secretary to do all of the diplomatic stuff and be able to speak to the development brief as well? That's quite a task, so I think it is good to have both.”
- The Independent
‘I cannot cover it because he is my brother’: Chris Cuomo addresses harassment allegation against brother during live CNN show
Mr Cuomo had his brother on the air repeatedly during early days of pandemic
- FOX News Videos
Senate Judiciary Committee member predicts successful 2022 and 2024 for Republicans on 'The Ingraham Angle'
- The Independent
President’s warm tone towards Mexico has translated to substantial policy changes
Inside the life of controversial artist Kat Von D, from her tattoo empire to her fall from the beauty industry
Kat Von D rose to fame as a tattoo artist on "Miami Ink" and "LA Ink." She later founded a beauty brand - and faced a plethora of controversies.
- The Daily Beast
Broward Sheriff’s OfficeThe FBI arrested a notorious white supremacist livestreamer in an early morning raid in Florida on Tuesday.FBI agents, working with Fort Lauderdale police and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, arrested Paul N. Miller, 32, on one charge of being a “convicted felon in possession of a firearm.” The FBI said in a press release that Miller was arrested without incident.Miller’s neighbors in Fort Lauderdale’s Riverside neighborhood reported hearing flashbangs during the raid, which took place around 5 a.m. ET, local TV station NBC 6 reported. One neighbor described seeing law enforcement officers carrying out a box that appeared to have “a shotgun on the front or an AK.”Biden Taps a War on Terror Veteran to Stop White SupremacistsMiller, who goes by the name “Gypsy Crusader” online, has amassed more than 40,000 followers on Telegram, a messaging app and social media network popular with far-right extremists. Many of Miller’s videos feature him dressing up as characters like the Joker or Nintendo’s Mario, then hurling racial abuse at strangers, including children, through the randomized chat app Omegle. Miller can be seen holding a gun in some of his videos.A grand jury indicted Miller on the firearms charge on Feb. 25, according to court records unsealed Tuesday. Miller is charged with illegally possessing a gun on Jan. 17, 2018. The indictment doesn’t describe the 2018 incident in which Miller allegedly had the firearm.Miller’s Tuesday arrest sent shockwaves through internet extremist circles. Miller had recently sold patches promoting his channel to his supporters, with his arrest raising fears among other extremists that the FBI could access his customer files and find out their own names and addresses.In messages captured by extremism researcher Hilary Sargent, Miller’s supporters worried about the possibility that they could soon become FBI targets themselves. If convicted, Miller faces up to 10 years in prison on the gun charge.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet 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.
Former MLB executive says Albert Pujols was lying about his age when he signed a $240 million contract with the Angels
"Not one person in baseball believes Albert Pujols is the age he says he is," former Miami Marlins President David Samson.
- The State
Clemson’s head coach speaks publicly about the 21-point loss for the first time since the night of the game.
- National Review
Senators Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) and Mike Lee (R., Utah) on Tuesday pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray on the procedures federal law enforcement officials have used to track down those who participated in the January 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol. “I’m anxious to see those who committed unlawful, violent acts on January 6 brought to justice,” Lee said during a Senate Judiciary Hearing on Tuesday. “I also believe that … with this circumstance, like every other circumstance, we have to make sure that the civil liberties of the American people are protected.” The Utah Republican explained that he had “heard a number of accounts” of people who were in Washington, D.C. on January 6 who never went near the Capitol but were “inexplicably” contacted by FBI agents who knew of their presence in the district that day “with no other explanation, perhaps, other than the use of geolocation data.” “Are you geolocating people, through the FBI, based on where they were on January 6?” Lee asked Wray. “I think there may be some instances in which geolocation has been an investigative tool, but I can’t speak to any specific situation,” Wray responded. “But what are you using to do that?” Lee asked. “What’s your basis for authority? Are you using national security letters?” Wray said, “I don’t believe in any instance we’re using national security letters for investigation of the Capitol—” Lee interrupted to ask the FBI director if he had gone to the FISA court, to which Wray responded he did not “remotely believe FISA is remotely implicated in our investigation.” The senator continued pressing Wray, asking if the FBI is “using warrants predicated on probable cause.” “We certainly have executed a number of warrants in the course of the investigation of January 6,” Wray said. “All of our investigative work in response to the Capitol [riot] has been under the legal authorities that we have in consultation with the [Department of Justice] and the prosecutors.” Later, Hawley continued Lee’s line of questioning regarding geolocation data, asking Wray if his position is that he doesn’t know “whether the bureau has scooped up geolocation data, metadata cell phone records from cell phone towers.” “Do you not know, or are you saying maybe it has or maybe it hasn’t? Tell me what you know about this,” Hawley said. “So when it comes to geolocation data specifically—again, not in a specific instance, but just even the use of geolocation data—I would not be surprised to learn—but I do not know for a fact—that we were using geolocation data under any situation with connection with the investigation of [January 6],” Wray said. “But again, we do use geolocation data under different authorities and specific instances.” The FBI, Department of Justice and local police in Washington, D.C. are investigating the origins and execution of the January rioting at the Capitol, with the probe resulting in hundreds of arrests so far. Republicans have expressed concern that the methods law enforcement has used to track down rioters could infringe upon personal liberty. Last month Bank of America sparked outcry after it said it would hand over banking information to the federal authorities for people suspected of having involvement in the riots. In the days after the riot, Bank of America handed over data to the FBI on thousands of customers who traveled to Washington, D.C. around January 6, Fox News reported.
CrossFit has publicly disavowed Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene over the Republican's previous support for QAnon and other conspiracy theories.
See the mother-daughter duo serve up a sweet message in their first shared fashion campaign.
- Associated Press
An SUV packed with 25 people pulled in front of an oncoming tractor-trailer on a two-lane highway cutting through farmland near the Mexican border early Tuesday, killing 13 and leaving bodies strewn across the roadway. When police arrived some of the passengers were trying to crawl out of the crumpled 1997 Ford Expedition, the front end of the rig still pushing into its left side and two empty trailers jackknifed behind it. Twelve people were found dead when first responders reached the highway, which winds through fields in the agricultural southeastern corner of California about 125 miles (201 kilometers) east of San Diego.
- Business Insider
Texas Gov. Abbott says he's opening the state '100%' and lifting the mask mandate a day after the CDC warned states not to relax COVID-19 restrictions
Texas is experiencing an uptick in reported COVID-19 cases after the winter storm, and it has more hot-spot counties than any other state.
I received my first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in New York City and had to battle a flawed booking system
An Insider reporter struggled to book an appointment and had to wait in line for hours to get the first dose of the Moderna vaccine.
- Business Insider
10 hours in Cancún hurt Ted Cruz's job approval more than when he tried to flip the presidential election
New polling from Morning Consult shows Ted Cruz's job approval fell more after traveling to Mexico than when he objected to the election results.
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden's pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, has withdrawn her nomination after she faced opposition from key Democratic and Republican senators for her controversial tweets. Eleven of the 23 Cabinet nominees requiring Senate approval have been confirmed, most with strong bipartisan support. “Unfortunately, it now seems clear that there is no path forward to gain confirmation, and I do not want continued consideration of my nomination to be a distraction from your other priorities,” Tanden wrote in a letter to Biden.
A recent piece by NBC Asian America reporter Kimmy Yam has readers divided for how it framed the recent attacks Asians are facing in the U.S. According to Yam, the 2,800 hate incidents collected by watchdog Stop AAPI Hate over five months last year “weren't necessarily hate crimes” as they included “less severe, yet insidious, forms of discrimination.”
- The Week
The Trump administration reportedly quietly funded Operation Warp Speed with money set aside for hospitals
By late summer last year, Operation Warp Speed accounts were running dry, so the Trump administration appears to have used a financial maneuver allowing Department of Health and Human Services officials to divert $10 billion from a fund meant to help hospitals and health care providers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Stat News reports. Congress granted the HHS permission to move pandemic-related money between accounts, though the agreement stipulated the agency had to give lawmakers a heads up. In this case, it appears the HHS siphoned the funds quietly, albeit with permission from its top lawyer. Other attorneys told Stat that the agency likely did have the wiggle room to carry out the action. Former Office of Management and Director Russ Vought defended the decision and said "we would do it again," telling Stat that not only did the administration have the authority, it was also "the right thing to do in order to move as quickly as possible because lives were on the line." Other Trump officials seemed to agree, per Stat, arguing that successful vaccines would reduce hospitalizations, making Warp Speed the more consequential outlet. It's still unclear whether the decision has resulted in less money for health care providers, as the Biden administration remains mum on the subject, Stat reports. Read more at Stat News. More stories from theweek.comWill COVID-19 wind up saving lives?John Boehner rips Ted Cruz as a 'reckless a--hole' on book's back coverArizona GOP lawyer tells Supreme Court the party needs certain voting restrictions to compete with Democrats
- USA TODAY Opinion
If Democrats are to hold the moral high ground on issues of gender equity, they cannot apply standards just to those on the opposite side of the aisle.
No Repeal of the $170 Billion Tax Break for Billionaires and No Change in Minimum Wage: Why Democrats Can't Keep Their Promises in the Relief Bill
Democrats promised to repeal corporate tax breaks and raise the minimum wage. Here's why neither is in the final bill