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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 136)

NASCAR star Hailie Deegan poses with Trumps ahead of Daytona 500: ‘Goal complete’

Hailie Deegan, the 18-year-old driver deemed “NASCAR’s Next Big Superstar,” posed for a photo she’ll likely remember for the rest of her life, standing next to President Trump and first lady Melania Trump at the Daytona 500 on Sunday.

Deegan and the Trumps were all smiles ahead of the race in Florida. The driver posted the photo to Twitter, adding, “Goal complete,” with a check mark.

Earlier Sunday, she tweeted: “Today’s goal. Get my helmet signed by Trump.”

That earlier tweet got the attention of Donald Trump Jr., who responded: “DM me… I may know someone.”

Deegan proudly held her helmet as she posed for the photo. She was not slated to drive in Sunday’s race.

PRESIDENT TRUMP, FIRST LADY REV UP DAYTONA 500 WITH HISTORIC LAP IN ‘THE BEAST’

Deegan made her stock car debut at Daytona earlier this month, finishing second to Michael Self in the ARCA Series season opener on Feb. 8.

President Trump spoke ahead of the Daytona 500, calling it “the legendary display of roaring engines, soaring spirits and the American skill, speed and power that we’ve been hearing about for so many years.” He later gave the command, “Gentlemen, start your engines,” and rode for a lap in the presidential limo known as “The Beast” before the race got underway.

Westlake Legal Group Deegan-Trump_Getty-Reuters NASCAR star Hailie Deegan poses with Trumps ahead of Daytona 500: 'Goal complete' Mike Arroyo fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/auto/nascar fox-news/auto/attributes/racing fox news fnc/auto fnc article 74ca5519-e703-59e6-af59-449ad8555ef6

NASCAR star Hailie Deegan posed for a photo with President Trump and first lady Melania Trump ahead of the Daytona 500. (Getty/Reuters, File)

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

When asked about her rising profile in NASCAR, Deegan said earlier this month: “I think there’s that aspect of being a girl that does help. But, once you get in the car, it don’t matter. No one knows. Most of the time I have the most aggressive-looking, guy-looking car on the track.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Deegan-Trump_Getty-Reuters NASCAR star Hailie Deegan poses with Trumps ahead of Daytona 500: 'Goal complete' Mike Arroyo fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/auto/nascar fox-news/auto/attributes/racing fox news fnc/auto fnc article 74ca5519-e703-59e6-af59-449ad8555ef6   Westlake Legal Group Deegan-Trump_Getty-Reuters NASCAR star Hailie Deegan poses with Trumps ahead of Daytona 500: 'Goal complete' Mike Arroyo fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/auto/nascar fox-news/auto/attributes/racing fox news fnc/auto fnc article 74ca5519-e703-59e6-af59-449ad8555ef6

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Alabama lawmaker responds to abortion ban with mandatory vasectomy bill: ‘It always takes two to tango’

Westlake Legal Group eaGj2v0_3hBCkivvIfUCT5ttbHoyOe4qhPrwvJFE6uo Alabama lawmaker responds to abortion ban with mandatory vasectomy bill: 'It always takes two to tango' r/politics

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‘Are You Sick?’ For Asian-Americans, a Sneeze Brings Suspicion

CHICAGO — Strings of lanterns in festive red and gold swayed high above the streets in Chicago’s Chinatown, but few people strolled the sidewalks on a recent afternoon.

At Slurp Slurp Noodles, tourists were not filling the usual tables for lunch, a waitress said. A school crossing guard had stashed a face mask in her pocket, ready to slip it on when her nerves began to fray.

The mysterious coronavirus outbreak has so far largely spared the United States, with only 15 confirmed cases across this country, even as the virus has rapidly spread around the globe and killed more than 1,100 people, most of them in China. Most Americans have gone about their lives, confident that they have little to fear from an epidemic that has mostly been felt abroad.

But for small pockets of people — those who come from China, or travel there frequently, and health workers who are charged with battling the virus — life has been upended. Hundreds of Americans who were in China are now marooned in anxious quarantine on military bases. And many Asian-Americans in the United States have felt an unnerving public scrutiny, noticing that a simple cough or sneeze can send people around them scattering.

“Instead of ‘Bless you’ or ‘Are you O.K.,’” said Aretha Deng, 20, a junior at Arizona State University, “their reaction is an instant state of panic.”

Reactions to the coronavirus outbreak have been a study in contrasts. On college campuses, classes and parties continue as usual — except for students returning from China, who have been asked to isolate themselves for two weeks. City leaders in Chicago and New York made a point of visiting those cities’ Chinatowns last week, encouraging visitors to patronize restaurants and shops where business has suffered.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_168864669_f3cde040-a9f9-4037-af8f-c44c4e2dd54d-articleLarge ‘Are You Sick?’ For Asian-Americans, a Sneeze Brings Suspicion Quarantines discrimination Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Chinese-Americans Asian-Americans

A graph at the Laboratory for the Modeling of Biological and Socio-technical Systems at Northeastern University predicted the spread of coronavirus from Wuhan, China.

Chicago, home to the nation’s busiest airport, sounded alarm bells last month when a woman contracted the virus after traveling in China and passed it to her spouse, the first person-to-person transmission in the United States. Even after the couple recovered and were discharged from a suburban hospital, signs of worry throughout the city have remained: Travelers at O’Hare International Airport seemed to be wearing more face masks than usual, and in Chinatown, on the city’s South Side, businesses have posted signs forbidding people who have recently visited China to step through the door. (Some Chicagoans have grimly noted on Twitter that an HBO adaptation of “Station Eleven,” a 2014 post-apocalyptic novel about a world ravaged by a global flu pandemic, is currently being filmed around the city.)

In San Francisco, recent immigrants from China said they were worrying about the very real health threats facing loved ones who are still there, while encountering the fears of others in their own daily lives in the United States. Yihao Xie, an environmental researcher at a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization, traveled back to the United States from Lanzhou, China, his hometown, early on Jan. 30 — narrowly beating the shutdown of airline travel.

  • How Is the U.S. Being Affected?

    Updated Feb.15, 2020

    • One of the people evacuated from Wuhan last week to San Diego had coronavirus but was discharged because of a labeling error.
    • Some testing kits sent to states are flawed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    • Pittsburgh, Wuhan’s “sister city,” has been shaken by the outbreak and is sending aid to relatives and friends trapped in the center of a deadly outbreak.
    • There was a race to contain the disease after one man’s cough became confirmation of America’s first case.
    • Many who recently traveled to China are isolating themselves in ‘self quarantines’ for 14 days.
    • A high school exchange student may have been among the last Americans to arrive home in time to avoid the mandated quarantine.
    • Most experts agree: To protect yourself wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
    • Affected by travel? Or do you know someone who is? Please contact us at coronavirus@nytimes.com if you are willing to be contacted by a reporter or have your comments used for a coming story.

Although Lanzhou is far from Wuhan, the center of the outbreak, his co-workers in the United States thought it best for him to stay home from the office for 14 days. He said he understood.

Since then, he took a walk in a nature preserve near his house to calm himself. At the grocery store, he said he felt the eyes of strangers appraising him.

“A few folks were giving me looks,” he said. “I don’t think they were malicious or hostile, but ‘Why are you wearing a mask — are you sick?’”

Robert Li, a resident of San Francisco, was browsing phones at a computer store last week when he overheard an employee talking with a customer about the outbreak. “‘Of course, if you eat raw bats, you’re going to get coronavirus,’” he recalled hearing the worker saying.

“They were basically making fun of Asians,” said Mr. Li, who is ethnically Chinese. “This is part of a racial trope that Chinese people eat everything.”

Immigration from China was once effectively banned under the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the first anti-immigrant law directed at a specific nationality.

The Chinese population in the United States began to grow significantly after 1965, when restrictions on immigration were loosened, and it exploded after 1980. At that time, fewer than 500,000 immigrants from China lived in the United States; now there are close to 5 million, primarily concentrated in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., according to the Pew Research Center.

News of the coronavirus outbreak comes on the heels of a trade fight with China that already had created uncertainty and economic worries for some.

“If you are already conditioned to fear China or Chinese people, this gives you another reason,” said Vincent Pan, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, a civil rights organization in San Francisco that has called on California agencies to arrange hotlines to collect information on bullying or discrimination related to the virus.

“Disease is a really powerful way to turn one group of people against another group of people,” he said. “Historically, disease has been a really fast way to ‘other-ize’ a community. It’s a tricky balance, because we also don’t want as a society to minimize public health concerns.”

Around the nation in recent weeks, health officials have issued warnings that walk a delicate line: trying to protect the public without prompting needless alarm and xenophobia. Since January, local, state and federal health officials have repeated a single message, that the risk of contracting coronavirus in the United States remains low.

“Ethnicity does not influence transmission of the novel coronavirus,” Jeanne Ayers, a Wisconsin health officer, said last week, after announcing that a resident in Madison, the capital, had contracted the state’s first case of coronavirus. “It is travel history and direct close contact with a case,” she said, explaining how medical officials believe the person was infected.

So far, the coronavirus outbreak has largely been contained in the United States by the federal authorities’ decision weeks ago to sharply curtail flights from China, and to place the small trickle of travelers who had been to China recently in two-week periods of quarantine on military bases or isolation in their homes.

Americans in quarantine said they were ambivalent about their confinement. Some said they were bored and restless, increasingly anxious and lonely, but also understanding of the public’s fears.

Last week, Jeffrey Ho, an auto mechanic based in San Bernardino, Calif., returned from Hubei province, where his wife’s family lives, on a flight organized by the State Department. He and more than 170 fellow passengers from Wuhan are now being held in quarantine at Travis Air Force Base, northeast of San Francisco.

On the one hand, Mr. Ho said, he does not blame people for fearing contracting the virus.

When he was in Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, the few people who wandered outside generally kept their distance from one another.

“They are fearing for their lives,” Mr. Ho said. “People were suspicious of anyone who left their apartment building.”

On the other hand, he said, fear of the virus in the United States is tinged with racial discrimination. “I feel like I could be potentially targeted, too,” he said.

Last week, Eileen Wong, a business consultant from New York whose parents are from Hong Kong, boarded a packed train in Philadelphia with a colleague and stood in the aisle for the entire 90-minute journey home.

A woman seated nearby looked up from her phone and gasped, Ms. Wong said, when the woman spotted Ms. Wong and her colleague, who is also Asian-American.

“She said, ‘Oh my God!’ and immediately covered herself with her jacket,” Ms. Wong said.

Ms. Wong’s colleague looked down to see the woman type into Google: “How deadly is coronavirus?”

In a mix of ethnicities in Manhattan, where Ms. Wong lives, she never thought of herself as sticking out.

“I grew up here, I don’t have an accent,” Ms. Wong said. “You’re American — why would that happen to me?”

“It was eye-opening for me,” Ms. Wong said. “We weren’t showing any symptoms like sneezing or coughing, so it was just based on looks.”

Julie Bosman reported from Chicago, Farah Stockman from Boston and Thomas Fuller from San Francisco. Vivian Lin contributed reporting from San Mateo, Calif., Mitch Smith from Chicago.

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Missing Wisconsin mom, girls found dead in garage after Amber Alert; woman’s boyfriend in custody

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales confirmed that Amarah Banks, and her daughters, Camaria Banks, and Zaniya Banks were found dead Sunday in a garage — a day after an Amber Alert was issued for the children. The boyfriend of the mother was taken into custody in Tennessee.

Chief Morales said Banks was reported missing to MPD by family on Feb. 9. It was later determined her children, ages 4, and 5, were also missing.

On Saturday, Feb. 15, MPD was notified by police in Memphis, Tenn., that they had contact with Arzel Ivery, 25, of Milwaukee — Banks’ boyfriend. MPD detectives went to Tennessee and spoke to Ivery. Chief Morales said Ivery provided information that brought investigators to the garage Sunday, where they discovered the three bodies.

Westlake Legal Group Amara-J-Banks Missing Wisconsin mom, girls found dead in garage after Amber Alert; woman's boyfriend in custody Katie DeLong fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/tennessee fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/wisconsin fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/topic/missing-persons fox news Fox 6 fnc/us fnc article 3f35ad5a-04e7-5fb8-bbfe-910122ccf5f0

Amarah Banks, left, and her daughters, Camaria, center, and Zaniya, were found dead Sunday. (Milwaukee Police Department)

Chief Morales was asked why it took a week to issue the Amber Alert and said there’s certain criteria that must be met in order for an Amber Alert to be issued — and noted foul play wasn’t an initial piece of this investigation.

EVIDENCE IN TRASH CANS LINKS DEAD NEIGHBOR TO MISSING SOUTH CAROLINA GIRL

The three were reported to have been last seen on Feb. 8.

The Amber Alert was issued for the girls on Feb. 15.

Westlake Legal Group Arzel-Ivery Missing Wisconsin mom, girls found dead in garage after Amber Alert; woman's boyfriend in custody Katie DeLong fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/tennessee fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/wisconsin fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/topic/missing-persons fox news Fox 6 fnc/us fnc article 3f35ad5a-04e7-5fb8-bbfe-910122ccf5f0

Arzel Ivery was taken into custody in Tennessee. (Milwaukee Police Department)

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Chief Morales said Sunday a criminal complaint was drafted against Ivery to allow police to bring Ivery into custody in Memphis.

Online court records in Wisconsin showed a felony charge of aggravated battery was issued Saturday against Ivery out of Milwaukee County, with an arrest warrant issued.

Click here for more from Fox 6.

Westlake Legal Group Amara-J-Banks Missing Wisconsin mom, girls found dead in garage after Amber Alert; woman's boyfriend in custody Katie DeLong fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/tennessee fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/wisconsin fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/topic/missing-persons fox news Fox 6 fnc/us fnc article 3f35ad5a-04e7-5fb8-bbfe-910122ccf5f0   Westlake Legal Group Amara-J-Banks Missing Wisconsin mom, girls found dead in garage after Amber Alert; woman's boyfriend in custody Katie DeLong fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/tennessee fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/wisconsin fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/topic/missing-persons fox news Fox 6 fnc/us fnc article 3f35ad5a-04e7-5fb8-bbfe-910122ccf5f0

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Child actor Nikita Pearl Waligwa, ‘Queen of Katwe’ star, dead at 15: reports

Westlake Legal Group Queen-of-Katwe Child actor Nikita Pearl Waligwa, 'Queen of Katwe' star, dead at 15: reports Nate Day fox-news/entertainment/movies fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 4f0b386e-fb7e-5d83-8b21-988c4876974b

The star of Disney’s “Queen of Katwe” Nikita Pearl Waligwa has died at the age of 15.

Multiple reports, including media from her native Uganda, state that Waligwa suffered from a brain tumor.

She was reportedly diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2016 and received an all-clear in 2017 before another tumor was discovered last year.

LYNN COHEN, ‘SEX AND THE CITY’ ACTRESS AND BROADWAY STAR, DEAD AT 86

Waligwa’s body was taken to a cathedral for a funeral service today, according to the reports, and will be buried on Monday.

“Queen of Katwe” tells the story of a young Ugandan chess prodigy named Phiona Mutesi. Waligwa starred as a friend of Mutesi.

‘LOVE ISLAND’ HOST CAROLINE FLACK DEAD AT 40: REPORTS

Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo also starred in the film.

Oyelowo, 43, took to Instagram to share his grief over losing his co-star.

“We mourn the loss of our beautiful Nikita Pearl Waligwa,” he wrote. “She was a ball of light in @queenofkatwemovie and in life. Her battle with a brain tumor was humbling to witness. Her light will live on.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The post contained a photo of Waligwa in character, holding up two chess pieces. A quote from her character was also featured in the image, reading: “In chess, the small one can become the big one.”

Westlake Legal Group Queen-of-Katwe Child actor Nikita Pearl Waligwa, 'Queen of Katwe' star, dead at 15: reports Nate Day fox-news/entertainment/movies fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 4f0b386e-fb7e-5d83-8b21-988c4876974b   Westlake Legal Group Queen-of-Katwe Child actor Nikita Pearl Waligwa, 'Queen of Katwe' star, dead at 15: reports Nate Day fox-news/entertainment/movies fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 4f0b386e-fb7e-5d83-8b21-988c4876974b

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Chris Pratt says he was encouraged to gain ’30, 40 pounds’ while on ‘Parks and Recreation’

Westlake Legal Group chris-pratt-ap Chris Pratt says he was encouraged to gain '30, 40 pounds' while on 'Parks and Recreation' Nate Day fox-news/person/chris-pratt fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 0a52948e-fae1-544f-977d-7d730a0a1617

Action star Chris Pratt wasn’t always in tip-top shape.

The actor gained massive popularity playing the slightly plump Andy Dwyer in the comedy series “Parks and Recreation.” Since then, Pratt, 40, has slimmed down while starring in blockbuster flicks.

The “Guardians of the Galaxy” star recently visited “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” where he discussed his weight while on the popular workplace comedy.

CHRIS PRATT’S NEW PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE-THEMED PRODUCTION COMPANY AIMS TO HEAL POLITICAL DIVIDE

“I remember in the first couple of seasons, just unintentionally, I had gotten a little fat and I was watching the episodes and I was like, ‘Oh, God, Chris, you’ve really let yourself go,'” Pratt noted. “And then I was like, ‘but this is some of the funniest stuff you’ve ever done.'”

Pratt remembered going to Michael Schur, the show’s creator, who he told, “I wanna gain like another 30, 40 pounds. He was like ‘OK.’ And so I did.”

He added: “Then it became a challenge. Everyone wanted to see how much I could eat.”

Pratt then recounted a scene he filmed for the show in which he was dining at a restaurant with several other people.

“I didn’t have anything to say in the scene, so inevitably I wanted to get some screen time, so I decided I would eat one rack of ribs per take,” he said. “And if the camera would happen to catch me I would absolutely just be inhaling ribs.”

The actor said he filmed12 takes of the scene.

“I went through 12 racks of ribs, which is the equivalent of six pigs. I dined on the ribs of six different pigs,” said Pratt, noting that co-star Nick Offerman particularly enjoyed the joke.

“If I can make him laugh, it tickles me to no end,” Pratt said. “So, I knew it was making Nick laugh. I was making myself sick, but I had 12 racks of ribs, and then at lunch, because our catering company was creating the ribs, they cooked ribs. And at lunch, I sat down with another four racks of ribs, right next to Nick, and ate the ribs. I got a big laugh.”

Since his days on television, Pratt has starred in numerous action films, most recently playing a small role in “Avengers: Endgame.” In the interview with Kimmel, he said that he will begin shooting the third installment of the “Jurassic World” franchise “very soon.”

Westlake Legal Group chris-pratt-ap Chris Pratt says he was encouraged to gain '30, 40 pounds' while on 'Parks and Recreation' Nate Day fox-news/person/chris-pratt fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 0a52948e-fae1-544f-977d-7d730a0a1617   Westlake Legal Group chris-pratt-ap Chris Pratt says he was encouraged to gain '30, 40 pounds' while on 'Parks and Recreation' Nate Day fox-news/person/chris-pratt fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 0a52948e-fae1-544f-977d-7d730a0a1617

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Child actor Nikita Pearl Waligwa, ‘Queen of Katwe’ star, dead at 15: reports

Westlake Legal Group Queen-of-Katwe Child actor Nikita Pearl Waligwa, 'Queen of Katwe' star, dead at 15: reports Nate Day fox-news/entertainment/movies fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 4f0b386e-fb7e-5d83-8b21-988c4876974b

The star of Disney’s “Queen of Katwe” Nikita Pearl Waligwa has died at the age of 15.

Multiple reports, including media from her native Uganda, state that Waligwa suffered from a brain tumor.

She was reportedly diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2016 and received an all-clear in 2017 before another tumor was discovered last year.

LYNN COHEN, ‘SEX AND THE CITY’ ACTRESS AND BROADWAY STAR, DEAD AT 86

Waligwa’s body was taken to a cathedral for a funeral service today, according to the reports, and will be buried on Monday.

“Queen of Katwe” tells the story of a young Ugandan chess prodigy named Phiona Mutesi. Waligwa starred as a friend of Mutesi.

‘LOVE ISLAND’ HOST CAROLINE FLACK DEAD AT 40: REPORTS

Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo also starred in the film.

Oyelowo, 43, took to Instagram to share his grief over losing his co-star.

“We mourn the loss of our beautiful Nikita Pearl Waligwa,” he wrote. “She was a ball of light in @queenofkatwemovie and in life. Her battle with a brain tumor was humbling to witness. Her light will live on.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The post contained a photo of Waligwa in character, holding up two chess pieces. A quote from her character was also featured in the image, reading: “In chess, the small one can become the big one.”

Westlake Legal Group Queen-of-Katwe Child actor Nikita Pearl Waligwa, 'Queen of Katwe' star, dead at 15: reports Nate Day fox-news/entertainment/movies fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 4f0b386e-fb7e-5d83-8b21-988c4876974b   Westlake Legal Group Queen-of-Katwe Child actor Nikita Pearl Waligwa, 'Queen of Katwe' star, dead at 15: reports Nate Day fox-news/entertainment/movies fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 4f0b386e-fb7e-5d83-8b21-988c4876974b

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Crazy Mascots Flooded Japan. Can This Grouchy Boar Survive?

Westlake Legal Group 00Mascot-01-facebookJumbo Crazy Mascots Flooded Japan. Can This Grouchy Boar Survive? mascots Local government Japan Elderly Economic Conditions and Trends

NAGANO, Japan — The mayor of Misato, a remote village of 4,700 people in rugged western Japan, laid down an ultimatum early last year: The local mascot character, Misabo, must prove his worth. Or else.

Misabo, a gloomy boar with a mountain on his head who wears whale overalls hiked up to his snout, has the daunting job of promoting the village as a tourism destination. He waddled into the world in 2013, as a mascot craze swept Japan and hundreds of the country’s graying and shrinking towns turned to colorful, often wacky characters to lure visitors and investment.

Now, as their tax bases dwindle along with their populations, communities like Misato are increasingly questioning whether the whimsy is worth the cost in public spending. In the absence of much evidence that the characters are delivering economic benefits, the answer for many towns in the grip of Japan’s demographic crisis has been to quietly mothball them.

“It was a boom without any reality,” said Akihiko Inuyama, an author and designer who wrote a book about the mascot industry.

It is impossible to know exactly how many mascots, who plug their hometowns as both illustrated characters and humans in costumes, have been liquidated. For most, the end comes with the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen, not a formal announcement. But industry numbers hint at the toll.

Sun.Mold, a manufacturer of mascot costumes, said that orders had dropped by about half from their peak five or six years ago, when the company was producing 20 to 40 outfits a month for the characters, known as yuru-chara.

More dramatic evidence came last November at the Yuru-chara Grand Prix, an annual gathering to crown Japan’s king of cute.

For a select few, the Grand Prix has been a springboard to riches. Kumamoto, a sparsely populated prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu, reaped a $1.2 billion economic windfall in the two years after its mascot, Kumamon, won the first Grand Prix, in 2011, according to a study by the Bank of Japan.

“It was thanks to Kumamon that yuru-chara became a national phenomenon,” said Shuichiro Nishi, the creative force behind the competition.

When the charmingly plump black bear with rosy red cheeks won the event, the country was still reeling from the catastrophic tsunami and nuclear disaster that had struck northern Japan months earlier. People were “clamoring” for a sense of national connection, Mr. Nishi said.

Kumamon moved mountains of merchandise and drove up tourism. Hit mascots can also lift tax revenue thanks to a program, introduced in 2008, that allows citizens to direct a portion of their income taxes to the locality of their choice.

Inspired by Kumamon’s success, local governments rushed to cash in. As the characters became fixtures on national airwaves, Mr. Inuyama said, the media “tricked people into thinking yuru-chara were making money,” and local governments “went along for the ride.”

More and more, though, it looks like the end of the road. The number of characters in this November’s Grand Prix, held in Nagano, was down a third from the peak of about 1,700 in 2015. Many of the entrants did not even bother to show up. And officials, seeing the writing on the wall, announced that the 2020 contest would be the last.

Misabo’s handlers, however, were not about to give up.

The mayor had given them one year to show that the character was worth the tens of thousands of dollars that taxpayers had spent on him.

With the deadline quickly approaching, the team was hoping for an upset victory at the Grand Prix.

A ballot box for Victoire Cheval Blanc Murao III, the mascot for Hakuba, in Nagano Prefecture.Credit…Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times A full load of mascots for all to see.Credit…Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times

“We need to make the Top 10,” said Ayami Nakada, an employee of the town hall, who had flown to Nagano with two co-workers.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen, but I think it’s important that we stay focused,” she said.

It was a long shot. Misabo, who looks less like a cuddly friend than a guy who just spilled his beer at Oktoberfest, finished in 339th place in the 2018 Grand Prix — a result that may or may not have been affected by a vote-rigging scandal that year.

Since then, Misato’s officials had worked hard and pushed his ranking into the mid-20s. But as voting was drawing to a close, he was still tens of thousands of votes behind the top competitors.

The characters have their roots in the 1980s, when local government mascots first began appearing. They were a natural fit for a country where adorable characters like Hello Kitty are used to sell everything from microwaves to motor oil.

The positioning of mascots as ambassadors for ailing local governments let fans see their hobby as a kind of virtuous consumption or even a public service.

“They represent the national character,” said Masumi Shindo, who had come to the Grand Prix to support Nagano’s mascot, Arukuma, a bear with an apple on his head. “They energize us. When I see them working hard, it makes me want to do my best.”

As mascots flooded the market, character development began to look like a Japanese Mad Lib: Use a local animal as a base. Combine it with a famous local snack or architectural highlight. Give it a terrible pun for a name. Profit!

The results were often endearingly surreal. Narita, home to Tokyo’s largest international airport, dreamed up a plush eel with jet engines.

But the novelty quickly wore off. Copycats were everywhere: Froglike water spirits called Kappa proliferated, and after Sanomaru — a dog with a bowl of ramen on its head — won the 2013 Grand Prix, other animals sporting Japanese noodles popped up.

Misabo made his debut that same year. A local government employee created the character. The first suit cost around $7,200, and the village has since ordered a second one.

With little to set it apart from the many other localities that have also fallen on hard times, Misato leaned heavily on Misabo.

The character’s grumpy disposition was a good fit for his home prefecture’s brand. Shimane, which is one of the poorest and least populated areas in Japan, has turned its obscurity into a resource. In 2011, a calendar created by the local government and filled with self-deprecating jokes about the locals became a surprise hit in Japan.

Misato made Misabo merchandise. It started a YouTube channel. It came up with a dance, the Misabo Samba. It built a slick tourism website prominently featuring the character. It even designed a series of stickers that fans could buy and send to each other on the chat app Line.

Still, nothing seemed to stick. Officials began to wonder if it was time to put Misabo out to pasture.

Hoping to drum up some publicity, early last year Misato’s mayor called a news conference and threatened to fire the character. At one point, government employees held Misabo back as he tried to take a swing at his boss. The story was picked up by the national broadcaster, NHK, and it played well on social media, lifting the mascot’s profile.

But Misabo’s moment in the spotlight had been brief. On the last day of the Grand Prix, with his job on the line, his odds looked as grim as his countenance.

His team pinned their aspirations on skipping rope.

“We’re hoping that winning the jump-rope contest will give us a boost,” Ms. Nakada, the town employee, said as her co-worker did some calisthenics nearby, preparing to strap himself into the unwieldy suit and skip for all he was worth.

After a failed initial attempt, he managed 47 jumps, handily putting him in first place.

In the end, though, it was not enough to overcome the other mascots’ considerable advantages. When the votes were tallied, he came in 24th.

But fear not for Misabo, at least for now. The results seem to have satisfied the mayor. He has agreed to let Misabo mope along for another year.

Hisako Ueno contributed reporting from Tokyo.

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Russian artist who posted sex video that brought down Macron ally arrested

French authorities on Saturday detained a Russian artist who has claimed responsibility for releasing a sex tape that brought down Emmanuel Macron’s preferred candidate in the Paris mayoral race.

Pyotr Pavlensky, who left Russia in 2017 after being told of rape accusations against him, was questioned at a police station on Paris’ Left Bank about a separate case involving “violence with a weapon” on New Year’s Eve, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.

Westlake Legal Group AP20045403867909 Russian artist who posted sex video that brought down Macron ally arrested fox-news/world/world-regions/france fox-news/world/world-politics fox-news/person/emmanuel-macron fox news fnc/world fnc Bradford Betz article 19364f2a-038a-55e8-b1ff-083ce5897e4f

FILE: Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky arrives at the Paris courthouse, as he goes on trial after he set fire to the facade of France’s central bank in Paris.  (AP)

Benjamin Griveaux, a former government spokesperson and member of Macron’s La République En Marche party, quit the mayor’s race after images surfaced Thursday of an online chat that included a video of a man’s genitals.

The prosecutor’s office said Griveaux filed a complaint Saturday for an invasion of his private life, and an investigation was opened.

The circumstances surrounding his dropping out sent shock waves through the French political establishment. On Sunday, France’s Minister of Health Agnes Buzyn announced she would replace Griveaux as the La République En Marche party’s candidate for mayor, Euronews reported.  The two-round election begins in a month.

FRENCH PRESIDENT MACRON CAUGHT ON VIDEO BERATING ISRAELI SECURITY GUARD

The mayor of Paris is a high-profile job that Macron’s party was counting to win. But Griveaux had been struggling in the race, with polls showing him in third place.

Westlake Legal Group AP20044399829606 Russian artist who posted sex video that brought down Macron ally arrested fox-news/world/world-regions/france fox-news/world/world-politics fox-news/person/emmanuel-macron fox news fnc/world fnc Bradford Betz article 19364f2a-038a-55e8-b1ff-083ce5897e4f

Paris mayoral candidate Benjamin Griveaux gives a press conference as part of the campaign for the upcoming mayoral elections to be held on March, 15, 2020. (AP)

Pavlensky has had trouble with the law before. He was convicted in January 2019 of setting fire to a Bank of France branch and damaging its facade in 2017. He was sentenced to a year in prison, plus a two-year suspended sentence. However, the judge allowed Pavlensky to walk free because he had already spent 11 months in pretrial detention.

Pavlensky created a special site to post the explicit video material, believed to have been extracted from cellphone exchanges.

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Pavlensky was quoted on Friday as saying he carried out the action to denounce what he claimed was the “hypocrisy” of Griveaux, who often spoke publicly about his partner and children. He told French media that Griveaux was “a candidate who has lied to his electors” and “very dangerous” for Paris.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Ex-NFL player Antwaan Randle El’s brother charged in Wisconsin killings

The brother of former Pittsburgh Steeler Antwaan Randle El is facing charges in the shooting deaths of two women in Wisconsin on Monday.

Marcus Randle El, a parolee who played football for the University of Wisconsin over a decade ago, was being sought for the two killings when he surrendered to Chicago police Saturday afternoon, according to reports. He was charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide.

The 33-year-old suspect, of Homewood, Ill., has been accused of killing Seairaha Winchester, 30, and Britanny McAdory, 27, in Janesville, Wis., early Monday and taking their SUV, The Associated Press reported.

Winchester and McAdory died at a hospital after a driver spotted them on the side of a snow-covered road.

Westlake Legal Group MarcusRandelElMug Ex-NFL player Antwaan Randle El's brother charged in Wisconsin killings Robert Gearty fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/wisconsin fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/illinois fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/sports/ncaa/wisconsin-badgers fox news fnc/us fnc c4c50bb4-0999-5409-94c7-1fbbe075d328 article

Marcus Randle El faced charges in connection with the two killings. (Janesville Police Department)

CONNECTICUT NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING LEAVES 1 DEAD, 4 WOUNDED, POLICE SAY

The SUV was found abandoned in Justice, Ill., WMTV reported.

Police did not discuss a motive at a news conference, the station reported.

The station quoted investigators as saying that the women planned to meet with Randle El after they were spotted on video leaving a gas station at 2 a.m. Monday.

TWO OHIO STATE FOOTBALL PLAYERS JAILED FOLLOWING RAPE, KIDNAPPING CHARGES

Madison Kimble told the station that McAdory was a great mother and friend.

“She always cared about everyone so if I had a bad day she would say ‘oh it’s okay love, heads up,'” she said.

Marcus Randle El was on parole in the 2014 gunpoint abduction of his daughter, WMTV reported. He was serving a six-year prison sentence at the time of his release in 2018.

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He had played for the Badgers from 2004 to 2007 and finished his career with four pass receptions and two arrests, the station reported. The arrests were disposed of in court with a sentence of probation and an order to undergo anger management counseling.

Randle El’s more famous brother won an NFL championship with the Steelers in 2006.

Westlake Legal Group MarcusRandelElMug Ex-NFL player Antwaan Randle El's brother charged in Wisconsin killings Robert Gearty fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/wisconsin fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/illinois fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/sports/ncaa/wisconsin-badgers fox news fnc/us fnc c4c50bb4-0999-5409-94c7-1fbbe075d328 article   Westlake Legal Group MarcusRandelElMug Ex-NFL player Antwaan Randle El's brother charged in Wisconsin killings Robert Gearty fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/wisconsin fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/illinois fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/sports/ncaa/wisconsin-badgers fox news fnc/us fnc c4c50bb4-0999-5409-94c7-1fbbe075d328 article

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