LOS ANGELES (MEDIA GENERAL) – In an effort to make the Los Angeles Zoo “a little more interesting,” comedian and known prankster Jeff Wysaski decided to inform the viewing public of some interesting animal “facts.”
Wysaski, known by his web pseudonym Obvious Plant, created signs with silly jokes that mirrored the zoo’s informative placards.
Some commenters aren’t amused, stating Wysaski’s actions are vandalism and a public nuisance for misleading people by presenting false facts. Others are even crueler – saying his jokes aren’t funny. You be the judge.
WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — The first time Doug Oliver realized just how devastatingly fast his macular degeneration had progressed was during a family road trip to New Hampshire 10 years ago.
“I almost hit two pedestrians in a crosswalk,” recalled Oliver, 54. “I basically denied that I did not see them, but I knew that I hadn’t seen them.”
A police officer witnessed the near miss, handed the driver a $500 fine and said, “Mr. Oliver, you have a serious vision problem and you need to go see your doctor now.”
Oliver agreed and was forced to forfeit his driver’s license and career as an IT specialist and social policy consultant. The man once known for his boundless vigor was now stymied professionally and relying on a monthly disability check to get by.
“I languished mentally and physically for two years,” Oliver remembered.Doug’s diagnosis
Oliver received his degenerative diagnosis 20 years ago, but had been reassured by doctors that his vision would hold out until his 60th birthday.
That didn’t happen.
Tests revealed that his eyesight was all but gone: 20/2000 in the left eye, 20/400 in the right.Doug Oliver’s surgeon extracted marrow from his hip bone and injected the stem cells into his eye, curing his blindness. (Photo: Doug Oliver)
Facing a new life with severely limited sight, Oliver set about finding a cure after being told by a doctor that his only hope was finding and participating in an experimental clinical trial down the road.
The newly blind man wasn’t a medical expert. He didn’t have connections or a bottomless bank account. But he was tenacious in pursuing leads found on message boards and digital articles.
Finally, in 2015, Oliver reached out to a surgeon from Vanderbilt University using stem cells to experimentally treat macular degeneration in Florida.
That one call changed his life forever.
Oliver flew to Florida where a team of doctors extracted marrow from his hip bone, spun them in an FDA-approved centrifuge and then injected the remaining stem cells into his eyes.
Within two days, the left eye improved to 20/40 and his right eyes to 20/30.
Oliver still grins as he pictures the plane ride home from Florida. “I could see the boats and the little wake lines that you see from 30,000 feet. I acted like a 6-year-old and loved it,” he beamed.Capitol Hill crusade
Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., hopes to multiply Oliver’s recovery millions of times over.
Alexander invited Oliver, his home state constituent, to Washington for a week during the month of June to share his story with colleagues and opinion-makers.
The two men joined former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., at the Bipartisan Policy Center to push the 21st Century Cures Act, a package of 19 bills to fund and encourage high risk, high reward clinical trials like the one Oliver underwent.
If the Cures Act passes, Alexander predicts the real world implications could be huge over the next 10 years.Tennessee delegation promotes Cures Act in DC (L to R): Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, Doug Oliver, fmr. Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., fmr. Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn. (Photo: Chance Seales)
The medical community could create “a Zika vaccine, an artificial pancreas; they’d rebuild hearts so they won’t have to be transplanted, [and] provide non-addictive pain medicine to avoid the opioids epidemic,” Alexander said.
To add a human face to costly legislation, Alexander and his staff escorted Oliver around the Capitol to meetings with top-ranking Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., pursuing buy-in from the chamber’s most influential members.
With a similar $8.8 billion bill already approved by the House, Alexander sees the odds of Senate passage as high but acknowledges the final price tag for items like new National Institutes of Health funding, which must be offset elsewhere, is an obstacle.
“We should be able to get this done,” Alexander said, but admitted the process of melding 19 pieces of legislation gets “complicated when you’re dealing with so many different interests.”
Alexander is still coy about the exact funding level he’s trying to reach, but is adamant that progress is being made in reaching a suitable number that would gain the support of fellow senators.
“If you’ve got the House, the Senate, and the president all wanting something to happen,” declared Alexander, “there’s no reason it shouldn’t.”Hope for millions
Back in Tennessee, Doug Oliver’s world has brightened immensely.Doug Oliver is back in the driver’s seat a decade after surrendering his license. (Photo: Doug Oliver)
He wrote to the Social Security Administration requesting that his status be reversed, allowing him to re-enter the workforce and stop receiving monthly disability checks.
And Oliver recently ran an errand of monumental personal importance.
“I went back to the DMV and got my license in Tennessee in December,” he said. “It’s changed my life.”
Of his two-decade battle for a cure, the Tennessean insists, “I was never desperate, I was determined.”
Today, Oliver is absolutely determined to make breakthrough treatments available to others in the dire position he occupied just one short year ago.
Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales
NEW YORK (AP) — From fireworks soaring above the Washington Monument to hot dogs being downed in New York City’s famed frank-eating contest, Americans aren’t shy about celebrating their nation’s birthday. Many places are rolling out long-established Independence Day traditions on Monday (even if some of those traditions aren’t as long-established as they sound). Some communities are trying new things to mark the holiday, even as others are paring back. Some Fourth of July highlights from around the country:
IN THE NATION’S BIRTHPLACE, A PARADE AND A PARKWAY PARTY
In Philadelphia — where the founding fathers approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 — the national birthday party runs all day.
It kicks off at 10 a.m. with a reading of the document and an event honoring everyday heroes, with celebrity guest Leslie Odom Jr., a Philadelphia native who plays Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical “Hamilton.” Then comes the holiday parade, which includes Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell.
Next up is a five-hour party with free entertainment on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The celebration continues with a five-hour concert with performers including Odom and singer-songwriter Leon Bridges. Fireworks close out the day.
A FINAL WHITE HOUSE FOURTH FOR THE PRESIDENT
It’s the last Fourth of July at the White House for President Barack Obama and his family, and they’re having some people over: military families and two of the president’s favorite performers, singer-songwriter Janelle Monae and rapper Kendrick Lamar.
The Democratic president and his wife, Michelle, invite military families each year for a barbecue, concert and view of the fireworks on the National Mall.
This year, they’ll also hear Lamar — Obama said his favorite song of 2015 was the rapper’s “How Much a Dollar Cost” — and Monae, who was a guest at a White House state dinner in May.
NEW YORK: FRANKS AND FIREWORKS
American as apple pie? Fuhgeddaboudit. The frankfurter rules the Fourth in New York City, where the annual Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest marks its centennial this year — well, not really. Nathan’s itself dates to 1916, but showmen behind the hot dog competition have acknowledged they made up a long-told story about the contest beginning that year, too. It actually started in the 1970s.
Joey “Jaws” Chestnut set the world record in 2013 when he polished off 69 dogs in 10 minutes. His run of eight straight victories ended last year when he lost the Mustard Yellow International Belt to Matt “The Megatoad” Stonie. They and others will face off on the Coney Island boardwalk, with the chowdown showdown televised on ESPN3.
Later Monday, Macy’s is promising its biggest Fourth of July fireworks display since the millennium show of 2000. The show over the East River features more than 56,000 pyrotechnic shells, 22 different hues and the New York debut of “pyro-writing” in the sky, all synchronized to patriotic tunes performed by the United States Air Force Band. The fireworks are televised on NBC, along with performances by country singer Kenny Chesney, pop band 5 Seconds of Summer, pop singer Meghan Trainor and others.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to line the banks of Boston’s Charles River to watch the fireworks there, with millions more across the country watching live on CBS.
The celebration features pop stars Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato, country group Little Big Town and, as always, the Boston Pops Orchestra, which drives home the climactic fireworks finale to Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”
ONE CONNECTICUT CITY’S NEW CELEBRATION; ANOTHER CANCELS ITS OWN
New Haven’s newly renovated Q Bridge will be illuminated in red, white and blue at night, becoming Connecticut’s first bridge to feature commemorative lighting.
The lights are capable of projecting six miles in a clear night sky over what’s formally called the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge. It’s among the most heavily traveled segments of the northeast corridor between New York and Boston.
Meanwhile, the state capital of Hartford canceled its July Fourth festival and fireworks show, which is billed as Connecticut’s largest Independence Day celebration, though usually held a week after the holiday. The mayors of Hartford and neighboring East Hartford said they couldn’t justify the roughly $100,000 expense while facing painful spending cuts.
JULY FOURTH, CALIFORNIA-STYLE
There’s a something-for-everyone approach to fireworks in Los Angeles, where displays are planned at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Hollywood Bowl, Grand Park near City Hall and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, among other places around the massive metro area. San Francisco holds a large fireworks display over the San Francisco Bay.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Clinton trust campaign is turning to powerful advocates, chief among them President Barack Obama, to vouch for the Democratic candidate shadowed by an FBI investigation on the brink of her presidential nomination.
Clinton herself acknowledges that she has “work to do” to earn the trust of voters after nearly four decades in public life as she faces Republican Donald Trump in the general election. And she’s called in help from advocates to attest to her “good heart,” as Sen. Elizabeth Warren put it — whatever the results of the FBI probe into Clinton’s private email server while she was secretary of state.
On Sunday’s news shows, Sen. Sherrod Brown, R-Ohio, and Labor Secretary Tom Perez — both potential running mates for the Democratic ticket — explicitly talked about Clinton and trust.
On Tuesday, Obama is set to join Clinton in a campaign event in battleground North Carolina meant to personalize the “I trust Hillary” theme. It’s the president’s first appearance with his former secretary of state during the 2016 campaign. Vice President Joe Biden will reinforce the message Friday in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, with Clinton at his side.
“Trust” is on the lips of Democrats because it’s a remarkable vulnerability that persists for Clinton, despite and because of her decades of public life. And the timing of her credibility campaign is no accident.
Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, met last Monday with the FBI’s boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, on the tarmac in Phoenix in a session both say was innocent but regrettable. Then, five days later, the FBI interviewed Hillary Clinton for more than three hours about whether she exposed government secrets by blending personal and official business on a home email server.
She immediately gave an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” in which she denied wrongdoing and repeated an acknowledgment she had slipped into a speech last week on the same day Warren vouched for her.
Clinton told NBC she will do “everything I can to earn the trust of the voters of our country” and added: “I know that’s something that I’m going to keep working on, and I think that’s, you know, a clear priority for me.”
After Warren had endorsed her, Clinton acknowledged she’d “made mistakes. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t.”
And she defended her sometimes too-cautious style.
“The reason I sometimes sound careful with my words is not that I’m hiding something. It’s just that I’m careful with my words,” she said at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s event in Chicago.
Questions about Clinton’s ethics have dogged her from her days as first lady of Arkansas and later the United States during Bill Clinton’s governorship and presidency, through her service a senator from New York, her failed 2008 presidential campaign and as Obama’s secretary of state. So pervasive has the image been that her opponents have only to utter buzzwords like “Whitewater” — the name of the Clintons’ failed land deal in which neither was implicated in wrongdoing — to invoke the image of what Trump terms, “Crooked Hillary.”
Not helping the trust campaign: the Bill Clinton-Loretta Lynch meeting. “I learned about it in the news,” Hillary Clinton told NBC on Saturday just hours after the FBI session. “They did not discuss the Department of Justice’s review.”
Was the visit inappropriate, she was asked?
“Well, I think, you know, hindsight is 20/20.”
Clinton’s supporters leapt in with defenses of her overall character.
“I trust Hillary Clinton in part, because, for a whole lot of reasons,” Brown said on “This Week” on ABC. “I know how she started her career advocating for the Children’s Defense Fund. She didn’t go off to Manhattan or to Washington to make a lot of money.”
Perez repeated Clinton’s own reasoning that in the quarter century since her husband was first elected president, some accusations against her have stuck, rightly or wrongly.
“The Hillary Clinton that I’ve gotten to know well and the Hillary Clinton that the voters of New York got to kick the tires on very well, they have always said and consistently said that we trust her,” Perez, another vice presidential possibility, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
He urged voters to look at the public service work Clinton has done during her career. “That really gives me, and I think the American people, a window into her moral compass. And her moral compass is about helping those who are in the shadows.”
Added Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., another potential vice presidential pick: “The secretary has made it very clear she understands she’s got to earn people’s trust. She’s going to work very, very hard to do that. And I give her credit for saying she’s made some mistakes,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” ”She’s going to try to show the American people that she’s going to work hard, especially for working families in America, to earn their trust.”
CHICAGO (WCMH/MEDIA GENERAL) – A nurse from Chicago got a rude awakening Thursday, a few hours after a man blew off his hand with a firecracker.
Cheri Steigert tells WBBM-TV that she was asleep after an overnight shift when she heard an explosion and a scream in her Portage Park neighborhood in Chicago on Thursday afternoon.
A few hours later, Steigert said she let her dog out in the yard. A few minutes later, the dog walked up to her with a hand in its mouth.
“This is like the first Fourth of July that I had off in three years and I have body parts flying in my yard,” Steigert told WBBM.
The victim was identified as 39-year-old Rafat Shejaeya. According to a report from WLS-TV, Shejaeya is a barber. Thanks to Steigert’s dog, Shejaeya may recover some use of his hand, but is unsure if he will be able to return to cutting hair.
Police say Shejaeya had the equivalent of a half-stick of dynamite explode near him. Steigert lives about 250 feet from where the accident happened.
— WCMH contributed to this story.
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (MEDIA GENERAL) – It’s fair to say a Mexican cartel’s attempt at recreating the Trojan Horse didn’t go as planned.
On Saturday, New Zealand authorities confirmed it has netted the country’s largest seizure of cocaine after confiscating a diamante-encrusted horse sculpture that weighed more than 800 pounds in May. Inside the horse’s head were 35 bricks of cocaine.
The statue had been freighted to the island from Mexico. Authorities are not sure if New Zealand was the final destination.
Three men, two Mexican nationals and an American, have been arrested in connection to the bust. The cocaine has an estimated street value of $14 million NZ dollars ($10.08 million US dollars).
9:30AM Enjoy one more day of mild (for July) temps… Heat returns along with storm chances!!
6:45AM Warmer and drier weather in store for your 4th of July!! Flood waters will continue to recede today, but we still have a long way to go before river levels return to normal.
5:00AM Patchy dense fog has set in across much of Kansas this morning. AM Fog will give way to afternoon sun and slightly warmer temps.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Dispatch confirms emergency crews are searching the Arkansas River after multiple reports that a car went into the river.
The call came in to dispatch around 10:52 Sunday night that a car might have driven into the water.
At this point, multiple emergency crews are searching the area of the river near Harry and McLean in southeast Wichita.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Vince Velasquez just needed a few pitches to get going.
Cameron Rupp hit a three-run homer, Velasquez threw six effective innings and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Kansas City Royals 7-2 Sunday.
Cody Asche and Maikel Franco also went deep to help the Phillies win two of three against the defending World Series champions.
Velasquez (7-2) allowed two runs and five hits, striking out seven in his second start since returning from the disabled list. It appeared Velasquez was hurt in the first inning when manager Pete Mackanin and a trainer visited the mound after he threw just five pitches. But Velasquez stayed in, his velocity increased and he threw 96 pitches.
“It took me a little bit longer to warm up,” Velasquez said. “Just dragging a little bit. Everyone has dead arm at some point. You have to pitch through it and utilize all your pitches.”
Mackanin went out to see Velasquez because his hardest pitch was only 90 mph among the first five. Velasquez was removed from the game after throwing only two pitches on June 8 and missed almost three weeks because of a strained right biceps.
“We thought: ‘Oh-no, not again.’ But He assured us he was fine,” Mackanin said. “He didn’t have his above-average velocity, but he made his secondary pitches.”
Royals starter Yordano Ventura (6-6) exited in the third inning after spraining his right ankle running the bases following his second career hit. Ventura lined a single to right but got hurt running to second on Alex Gordon’s double-play grounder.
Ventura went out to the mound in the bottom half and left after Asche hit a shot into the second deck in right field with two outs.
“It feels better now,” Ventura said through an interpreter. “It’ll be a couple days before we know.”
Rupp gave the Phillies a 3-0 lead in the first when he hit a 1-2 pitch the opposite way into the right-field seats for his eighth homer.
“It was 98 mph so he supplied the power,” Rupp said. “He left the pitch up and over the plate.”
Gordon’s two-run homer off Velasquez cut it to 4-2 in the fifth. Maikel Franco’s infield single drove in a run in the bottom half. He hit a solo homer off Brian Flynn in the eighth.
“Nice to see homers from the middle of the lineup,” Mackanin said. “All of our runs came with two outs and that’s encouraging.”
The Royals fell to 43-38 with their 13th loss in their last 18 road games. The Phillies (37-46) have won five of six.
Each of Philadelphia’s starters except Velasquez had a hit. “It only takes one or two guys to get going,” Mackanin said. “I always thought we’re a better hitting team than we showed.”
The Phillies won their first series in Philadelphia since May 16-18.
Royals SS Alcides Escobar hit a single in the ninth to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. … Phillies OF Peter Bourjos extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He’s 21 for 47 in those games, raising his average to .268 from .217. … Kansas City’s Kendrys Morales was 0 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts, ending his eight-game hitting streak.
Royals: RHP Edinson Volquez (7-7, 4.60 ERA) pitches the opener of a three-game series at Toronto. RHP Aaron Sanchez (8-1, 3.08) goes for the Blue Jays.
Phillies: RHP Jerad Eickhoff (5-9, 3.38) starts the opener of a three-game series against Atlanta. RHP Joel De La Cruz (0-1, 4.50) pitches for the Braves.
WICHITA, Kansas (KSNW) – Dozens of teams from Kansas and beyond competed in the Wichita area this weekend at the Mid-America World Series. The tournament featured many of the top 18-and-under players from around the nation.
Participants included future Wichita State Shockers Logan Easley and Paxton Wallace who suited up with the Arkansas Prospects. Wallace batted .493 last season for his high school team while Easley had a .348 batting average in one of the toughest conferences in Arkansas. Both players are heading into their senior prep seasons.
Regarding his choice to play at WSU, Wallace told KSN, “It just made me feel at home; whenever I’m here, I feel no pressure and I love the coaches, I love the stadium and facilities.”
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Almost six inches of rain came down in Wichita Saturday evening and into Sunday morning.
It’s left some areas still dealing with flooded streets and homes.
One neighborhood in west Wichita, near 13th and 119th Street was still completely flooded Sunday afternoon.
City crews had the road blocked off at two ends of the street to keep traffic from driving through the high water.
Many residents were having to resort to using kayaks to get through the neighborhood.
One neighborhood in Derby was also dealing with high water.
Derby resident Douglas Murphy says he woke up around 7 a.m. and found his and his son’s car almost submerged underwater.
Murphy said it wasn’t until early Sunday afternoon that the water began to recede in his neighborhood.
Several homeowners have also had to deal with flooded basements.
“I believe we handled somewhere 18 to 25 different either residential or commercial clients or customers,” said Justin Maxson, Vice President of Operations for National Restoration Castastrophe Inc.
Maxson says the phones started ringing off the hook around two o’clock Saturday afternoon.
Since then, he’s had crews spread out across Wichita.
“With the influx of rain, there is some flooding that has gotten into some basements, mostly basements on the residential side, some sub pumps just weren’t able to keep up,” said Maxson.
Maxson says they’ve encountered high water and substantial damage in many of the homes they’ve worked on.
“There is a pretty substantial amount of water in everyone’s basement so the biggest thing we want to do is get the water out,” said Maxson.
Maxson says his crews are on stand-by in case more rain comes into the area, just in case anyone else’s home is affected by flooding.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Rolling Stone magazine published a story in November 2014 describing in chilling detail a student’s account of being brutally raped by seven men at the University of Virginia. Several days later the magazine’s editors received an email from the reporter with the subject line “our worst nightmare.”
“We’re going to have to run a retraction,” wrote Sabrina Rubin Erdely about her now-discredited story, “A Rape on Campus.”
The message is among hundreds of pages of notes, emails and other documents released Friday that shed light on the reporting and fallout of the piece.
The documents were made public through a lawsuit filed by Nicole Eramo, an associate dean of students at the university who had counseled “Jackie,” the woman who claimed to be raped. Eramo sued Erdely and Rolling Stone for $7.5 million, arguing that the story cast her as the “chief villain.”
The story described in alarming detail Jackie’s account of being raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house in September 2012. It portrayed university officials as insensitive and unresponsive to the plight of the student and suggested that the attack was emblematic of a culture of sexual violence at the elite public university.
The story horrified university leaders, sparked protests at the school and prompted a new round of national discussions about sexual assault on U.S. campuses.
But an investigation by Charlottesville police found no evidence to back up Jackie’s claims and details in the lengthy narrative did not hold up under scrutiny by other media organizations.
Rolling Stone officially retracted the story in April 2015, and the magazine’s managing editor and Erdely both apologized.
The documents reveal inconsistencies with Jackie’s story and missteps by Erdely, who said she found no reason to believe Jackie wasn’t credible throughout her reporting.
For example, Erdely noted at one point that Jackie’s mother’s profile on Facebook said Jackie went to Providence College, even though Jackie said she went to Brown. But when asked in her deposition whether that raised any red flags about Jackie’s credibility, Erdely said “it didn’t seem to be all that important.”
Jackie said she had scars on her back from the attack, but her boyfriend said he had never seen them, Erdely wrote. Erdely said in her deposition that she made a mental note to bring it up with Jackie’s mother, but ended up never speaking to her.
Erdely also failed to follow up with sources to confirm parts of Jackie’s story, the documents show.
Erdely went back to Jackie after other reporters started raising questions about the accuracy of the story, according to the documents. She talked to Jackie early on the morning of Dec. 5 and when she asked for help in finding her attackers, “it spiraled into confusion,” Erdely wrote.
“By the time we ended our conversation, I felt nearly certain that she was not being truthful,” Erdely wrote. “Then I called her friend Alex, who has been a valuable resource; and I found out that over the past day, Alex has also come to the conclusion that Jackie has probably been lying,” she wrote.
In her deposition, Erdely called it the “most devastating moment” of her career.
Libby Locke, an attorney for Eramo, said in an email Sunday that Erdely knew Jackie’s story changed materially over time and published the “false and defamatory article despite serious red flags and without any real due diligence.”
Attorneys for Jackie and Erdely didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Sunday.
“Having discovered, in the early morning hours, that the person who I had absolutely believed and trusted had, for whatever reason, turned out not to be credible,” Erdely said in the documents. “And I didn’t know whether what we had published was truthful or not.”
KECHI, Kan. (KSNW) – High water is still causing trouble in Kechi.
A news release from the town said 61st Street North between Oliver and Woodlawn is still closed due to damage to the 61st Street bridge caused by flash flooding.
That portion of 61st Street is also called Kechi Road.
City officials say between eight and 10 inches of rain fell in Kechi on Saturday and Sunday.
Traffic engineers will assess the damage to the bridge while the road remains closed.
The news release said drivers who regularly used that portion of 61st Street should use alternatives routes for the foreseeable future.
The city does not know how long it will take to repair the damage.
NEW YORK (AP) — It’s Dory’s ocean. The rest of the movies are just swimming in it.
The Pixar sequel “Finding Dory” led the box office for the third straight weekend, dwarfing “The Legend of Tarzan” and Steven Spielberg’s Roald Dahl adaption “The BFG,” both big-budget debuts that had hoped to dominate the July 4th holiday.
But modest enthusiasm for the high-profile new releases left the weekend to “Dory” again, which came in No. 1 with $41.9 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. Disney expects the film to make about $50 million over the four-day holiday weekend. It’s grossed $538.2 million globally in three weeks.
“Tarzan” came the closest to dethroning “Dory” with $38.1 million. While that total was better than expected, it’s far from chest-thumping for a movie that cost Warner Bros. $180 million to make. Critics largely panned the David Yates-directed film, staring Alexander Skarsgard as the King of the Jungle and Margot Robbie as Jane. But audiences gave it a respectable A-minus CinemaScore.
“We’re in a much better place today than we thought we were going to be,” said Jeff Goldstein, head of distribution for Warner Bros. “We’re positively looking forward. Friday came in much stronger than we thought. Yesterday was much stronger than we thought.”
The horror sequel “The Purge: Election Year” opened solidly with $30.9 million, in line with previous “Purge” installments where crime in America is legal for 12 hours every year. Given that the Universal release, produced by Blumhouse Productions, cost a mere $10 million to make, it was the most lucrative opening of the week.
The continued success of “Dory,” however, bit into the similarly family-friendly “The BFG,” which debuted weakly with $19.6 million. The Spielberg film, starring Mark Rylance as the titular giant, cost about $140 million to make. Reviews were largely good but not glowing. Despite a red-carpet premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Spielberg’s first film for Disney didn’t click with audiences.
“It’s frustrating when there’s a disconnect between the critical response, the consumer response and ultimately the box office,” said Dave Hollis, distribution head for Disney. “But we’ve got every reason to be hopeful for the midweek business ahead, every reason to be hopeful for a nice long run. And we’ve only opened in two international markets: Australia and Russia.”
The weekend’s tailor-made option, “Independence Day: Resurgence,” had hoped to open big last week and play through the holiday weekend. Instead, the 20th Century Fox release bombed and dropped steeply in its second week, sliding 60 percent to $16.5 million in fifth place.
The diverse slate of releases didn’t produce a runaway hit, but overall business was up in theaters from recent July 4th weekends, partially since the holiday fell on a Monday this year.
“Considering the roller-coaster year we’ve been having, this was a solid Fourth of July,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. “In terms of the cumulative numbers, it was a really good showing, though individual films may have had their challenges.”
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final four-day domestic figures will be released Tuesday.
1. “Finding Dory,” $41.9 million ($34.4 million international).
2. “The Legend of Tarzan,” $38.1 million ($18.8 million international).
3. “The Purge: Election Year,” $30.9 million ($130,000 international).
4. “The BFG,” $19.6 million ($3.9 million international).
5. “Independence Day: Resurgence,” $16.5 million ($40.2 million international).
6. “Central Intelligence,” $12.3 million ($13.8 million international).
7. “The Shallows,” $9 million.
8. “Free State of Jones,” $4.1 million.
9. “The Conjuring 2,” $3.9 million ($13.1 million international).
10. “Now You See Me 2,” $3 million ($20.8 million international).
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:
1. “Independence Day: Resurgence,” $40.2 million.
2. “Finding Dory,” $34.4 million.
3. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” $30.5 million.
4. “Now You See Me 2,” $20.8 million.
5. “Ice Age: Collision Course,” $20 million.
6. “The Legend of Tarzan,” $18.8 million.
7. “Bounty Hunters,” $16.4 million.
8. “Central Intelligence,” $13.8 million.
9. “The Conjuring 2,” $13.1 million.
10. “Me Before You,” $12.2 million.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The racing community in Wichita is mourning the loss of one of its own this weekend after a tragic industrial accident at the Oxy Chemical plant killed two people on Thursday. Fort-eight-year-old Jeffery A. Gorden of Wichita and 45-year-old Dave Decker of Rose Hill died in the accident.
Decker’s friends say his was a life taken all too soon and in a tragic way.
“I think disbelief came to a lot of our minds because Dave Decker had a persona that he was invincible, he was one of the hard-nosed guys, yet loving,” said Scott Stiles a friend of Decker’s and the announcer at Wichita’s 81 Speedway.
Decker lost his life when a mechanical failure caused the equipment he was working on to collapse. He died at the scene at the OxyChem plant.
“Family, job, hobby, he had everything in order,” said Ray Hall, the general manager at the speedway.
“He didn’t know any strangers, he just lived every day to the fullest,” said fellow racer Josh Lanterman.
Decker was an avid race car driver. He’d been competing on and off for 10 years and was crowned the 2015 Rookie Modified Champion.
“There is a picture when he won and he basically was on top of his race car, he celebrated to the fullest, he never let a day go by,” said Lanterman.
Fellow racers described Decker as one of those people who could step forward and lead by example.
“He did everything all out, he was very dedicated to everything,” said Dan Powers, another race car driver.
“That’s what he taught all of us in different aspects of racing careers, and just life in general is that you live hard, play hard, love your family, take care of the people who take care of you,” said Stiles.
Decker will be honored with a parade lap in his number 88 car around the track at the Kansas State Fairgrounds Monday night prior to the race which is set to begin at 7 p.m.
DENVER (AP) — Once a swing state in presidential elections, Colorado has teetered on the brink of becoming solidly Democratic. Donald Trump may have pushed it over the edge.
Trump’s disparaging words about Mexicans, negative comments about women and weak campaign organization have punctuated the state’s shift from a nip-and-tuck battleground to one that’s Democrat-friendly. For the first time in more than 20 years, there are now more registered Democrats in the state than Republicans.
“Trump is turning off as many key voter groups as we have in this state,” said former state Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams. “I would have to believe Trump’s having trouble.”
And it’s not just Colorado. Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric and weak campaign structure could ensure that perennially competitive Nevada and New Mexico are out of reach as well.
That matters for Trump. He can’t win the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the presidency without capturing some states that favored Barack Obama in the last two elections.
The three Southwestern states — which have a combined 21 electoral votes — might have offered some hope. All backed Republican George W. Bush 12 years ago.
But Trump isn’t making as much of a push for those states as is his likely Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. He made his first campaign appearance in Colorado just Friday, speaking at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver.
Clinton made her fifth trip on Wednesday, proposing college-loan deferment for graduates who start businesses. It was a tactical move aimed at swaying young voters, many of whom flocked to Sen. Bernie Sanders, who beat Clinton soundly in March’s Colorado caucuses.
“Hillary has some ground to make up,” said Craig Hughes, who ran Democratic President Barack Obama’s winning 2012 Colorado campaign. “But compared to Trump, Hillary is in a far, far better place.”
In Colorado, Clinton’s campaign is spending $2.4 million on television advertising this month through Election Day, while a group that supports Clinton, Priorities USA, is spending $13.6 million, according to Kantar Media’s campaign advertising tracker. In Nevada, Clinton is spending $2 million and Priorities USA is spending $10.4 million.
Neither Trump nor any super PACs supporting him have reserved advertising time in the two states. Super PACs are organizations that can spend unlimited funds on a candidate, but can’t coordinate with the campaign.
The National Rifle Association’s political arm is making small ad buys — $155,000 in Colorado and $98,000 in Nevada — to attack Clinton’s handling of the attacks on diplomatic compounds in Libya while she was secretary of state.
Clinton has had staff in Nevada for more than a year, ahead of the state’s early caucuses, and in Colorado for almost a year. Trump has a Colorado state campaign director and a Southwest regional director in Nevada.
If Colorado is a stretch for Trump, Nevada and New Mexico may be out of reach with their larger Hispanic populations and wider Democratic edge. The number of Hispanic voters has boomed in Nevada, more than doubling as a percentage of the state’s voters since 1980, to an estimated 22 percent this year. In New Mexico, nearly half the population is Hispanic.
Trump has alienated Hispanics with his call to build a wall on the Mexican border, his plans to deport the roughly 11 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally and by characterizing some Mexican immigrants as drug smugglers and rapists.
Still, Nevada Republican strategist Ryan Erwin says Trump could salve the wounds were he to make the effort himself.
“As that population changes, it’s harder for a Republican presidential candidate that isn’t here all the time,” said Erwin, 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s Nevada director.
But Trump is relying on the Republican National Committee for staffing, as he is in all competitive states, said Trump’s Colorado director, Patrick Davis.
“There’s only so much one presidential candidate can do,” Davis said. “You’ve got to use all of the means of communication to get it done.”
Trump’s statements, late organizational start and Clinton’s statewide organization have her Colorado director Emmy Ruiz cautiously optimistic.
“I think the odds are in our favor. But I don’t think that they are strong odds. I also don’t think they are high enough for us to sit back,” Ruiz said.
Part of Clinton’s tail wind: Democrats in April nosed ahead of Republicans in voter registration for the first time since 1994. Since 2012, Democratic voter registration in Colorado has grown 7.5 percent, compared to 5 percent for Republicans.
In Nevada, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 70,000, a gap that Democrats and Republicans say could top 120,000 by Election Day. It’s a small but significant chunk of the state’s 1.5 million voters.
“Unless and until Republicans can match the kind of funding Democrats have put into their voter registration here, Republicans are going to fall behind,” said Erwin, the Republican strategist.
Last week, 18-year-old Kevin Garcia knocked on doors in 100-plus degree heat, registering Las Vegas residents to vote. He then attended a Clinton campaign calling session at a pizza restaurant.
Garcia, whose family emigrated from Mexico, was among about a dozen callers sipping cold Pepsis and using cellphones to call Nevadans. His goal was to make 100 calls that night — some in Spanish.
He said he supports Clinton because of her support for allowing people in the United States illegally to stay under certain circumstances. And because of Trump’s rhetoric.
“And my whole family is naturalized,” he said. “We’re all citizens.”
SALINA, Kan. (KSNW) – Police in Salina are looking for a man they say tried to kill another man with a knife early Sunday morning.
Capt. Mike Sweeney said in a news release officers were dispatched to the Salina Regional Health Center emergency room about 3:30 a.m. where they found two men who had been attacked with a knife at a northeast Salina residence. One of the victims sustained a cut to his hand. The other had been stabbed in the torso and was listed in serious condition.
Sweeney said a warrant has been issued for 34-year-old John James Brown on suspicion of aggravated battery and attempted first-degree murder. Brown is described as being about 6′ tall, weighing about 195 lbs., and having gray eyes and brown hair. Brown’s hair may be significantly shorter than in the photo distributed by the police department.
Officers consider Brown armed and dangerous. Anyone who sees him or knows his whereabouts is asked to call 911 or the Salina Police Department at 785-826-7210.
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Documents show Kansas taxpayers have been picking up the tab for state officials and legislators to fly in the state-owned executive aircraft to attend out-of-state sports events and take trips with family and friends.
The Associated Press used open record requests to document who was traveling in the state’s nine-passenger plane. It found state officials often mixed political, religious and family interests with state business while traveling on government business.
Kansas has a statute that specifically allows the governor to use the plane for personal or political travel as long as he reimburses the state, but it mentions no other state agencies.
The Kansas Highway Patrol oversees executive aircraft operations, but it leaves it up to each state agency to decide who gets to travel and where they go.
PRATT, Kan. (KSNW) – Two men working on a wind turbine in Pratt County are lucky to be alive following a fall Sunday morning.
Pratt Count Sheriff Vernon Chinn said in a news release his emergency crews were called to a wind turbine construction site about six miles south and four miles east of Pratt shortly after 9:30 a.m. following the report of a construction worker who had fallen while working on a wind generator.
On arrival, deputies were told one of the workers had fallen about 126 feet from the turbine and landed on his back in the mud below. Chinn said the worker was conscious and talking with rescue personnel at the scene. He was taken to a Wichita hospital in serious condition.
Another worker was trapped for about 30 minutes, hanging by his safety harness from the wind turbine. That worker was able to work himself free and lower himself into a construction basket and eventually lower himself to the ground.
Chinn said the workers, who are employed by General Electric, were repairing one of the blades of the wind generator at the time of the accident.
The names or ages of the workers were not released.