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‘Ellen’ gay role led to bomb threat on set, warnings

Laura Dern has played some iconic roles in her career, but playing a lesbian on the 1997 “Ellen” episode titled “The Puppy Episode” brought on unique challenges for the actress. 

In the episode, Dern plays a woman who helps Ellen DeGeneres’ character come out as gay. The episode aired around the same time Ellen shared how she identifies with the world. The episode was watched by 36 million people.

In a recent interview with Vulture, Dern said she was excited to play that significant role, even though she was advised against it by some industry members.

“I was excited. I didn’t think twice about it. It was a great opportunity,” the “Big Little Lies” star said. “And then the calls started coming in once I’d said yes, from a couple of advisers in Hollywood who were out gay men, (telling me) to not do it. A lot of people in my life really worried.”

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Elon Softball Set for Japanese Global Experience

ELON, N.C. – The Elon University softball team is set to take part in its second international global experience next week, Nov. 23-30, as the Phoenix heads to Tokyo, Japan, as a part of the university’s commitment to students achieving a global education.

As part of the Elon commitment to diversity and global engagement for its students, the week-long excursion will include the team touring several Japanese cities and cultural sites, practicing and competing versus international competition while also participating in a class called Cellphones and Samurai: The Cultural Clash of Japan’s Traditional Culture and Modern Digital Communications Society. The course will be designed and taught by Dr. Daniel Haygood, an associate professor from the Elon School of Communications.

“We are very grateful for Elon University and our administration to give our student-athletes this opportunity every four years,” said Elon head softball coach Kathy Bocock. “We’re excited to travel back to Japan. We had a great time on our previous global experience so I am looking forward to going back to experience it with our current group of student-athletes and staff.”

The itinerary for the once-in-a-lifetime experience will include the touring the city of Kyoto and its rich history, a visit to the Sensoji Temple and taking part in the Japanese drumming session Taiko as the team immerses itself in the region’s cultural environment. The players will also visit the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and participate in a tea ceremony during a tour at Nihombasni.

The program will also train with teams from local universities. Elon is scheduled for a training session with the Nippon Sport Science University softball team and will play against the Tokyo Women’s College of Physical Education in an exhibition.

Updates of the team’s studies abroad will be featured on elonphoenix.com as well as on the program’s social media accounts. Follow the Phoenix on Twitter and Instagram at @Elonsoftball for more updates on the team’s global experience in Japan.

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8 Epic Travel Destinations Inspired by Superhero Movie Set Locations

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‘Forgotten’ elm tree set to make a comeback

ElmImage copyright
Karen Russell

Image caption

The mighty elm once dominated the skyline

The elm tree can return to the British countryside, given a helping hand, according to a new report.

More than 20 million trees died during the 1960s and 1970s from Dutch elm disease.

In the aftermath, the elm was largely forgotten, except among a handful of enthusiasts who have been breeding elite elms that can withstand attack.

The research is showing promise and there is reason to be hopeful, said the Future Trees Trust charity.

Report author, Karen Russell, said mature specimens have been identified that are hundreds of years old, and have mysteriously escaped the epidemic. And a new generation of elm seedlings are being bred, which appear to be resistant to the disease.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

An elm tree apparently killed by Dutch elm disease

“The current state is that we know a lot about where the mature trees are and we know more than we’ve ever done about the opportunities in terms of research possibilities,” she said. “With the right people in the right place and the funding we can put elm back in the landscape.”

Facts about the elm

  • More than 30 species, found all over the world, with four native species in the UK, which have been present since the Bronze Age or before
  • The tree can reach over 40 metres in height in 100 years and support other plants and animals, including rare butterflies and birds
  • Known for its beauty, the elm has been captured in paintings by the likes of John Constable, while Henry VIII’s warship, lost in 1545, was built partly from elm
  • Signs of Dutch elm disease include dead leaves on the tree, yellowing or other discolouration in autumn or spring and wilting leaves and young shoots
  • The disease is caused by a fungus spread by a bark beetle.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The elm has rough green leaves

What is the disease and what havoc did it wreak?

When Dutch elm disease swept through southern Britain in the 1960s and 70s, over 90% of elms were lost; an estimated 25 million trees. The disease, which is caused by a rogue fungus, is still present in the countryside, and spreading north, though it has not yet reached parts of Scotland.

Returning mature trees to the landscape requires a new generation of trees that can fight off attack. Some European countries have already made progress in crossing “elite elms” with local elms to create trees with resistance that can be planted in parks, towns and the countryside.

Image copyright
Getty Images

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Some trees have been saved

How can we bring back the elm in the UK?

In the wake of Dutch elm disease, the tree was largely forgotten, except by a handful of private individuals, who have been working behind the scenes to cross elite elms with British native species to get a tree with the familiar shape and form.

The report has brought together for the first time much of the work done by the many elm enthusiasts and experts across the UK, said Tim Rowland, the chief executive of Future Trees Trust. “It’s clear that there’s a lot of love for elm and our report shows that there’s much to be hopeful about,” he said. “We now need to work together with all the other stakeholders to ensure the brightest possible hope for the return of this iconic species to our countryside.”

Botanist Dr Max Coleman of The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, who is not connected with the report, said the research is “looking promising”, but is in the early stages, because the new elms are still young.

He said the return of the elm is even more important given that ash trees face ash dieback and many will be lost, which is bad news for the lichens which grow on the bark of both the ash and the elm.

“These specialised fungi are running out of habitat as suitable trees disappear from the landscape,” he said. “Planting a new generation of elms that are likely to grow to maturity will help to provide new habitat for this important and overlooked group of fungi.”

Where do you find surviving elms?

Young elms can still be seen growing in hedgerows, perishing from Dutch elm disease long before they reach maturity. When it comes to mature trees, a few ancient survivors can be found if you know what you’re looking for.

Image copyright
BBC, Helen Briggs

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Two ancient elm trees that have escaped the ravages of Dutch elm disease

Karen Russell, a scientist and chartered forester, took me to see two mature elm trees in rural Cambridgeshire.

Possibly among the largest surviving elms in the UK, they are marked on maps of the local village dating back to 1889. No-one knows how they have survived the disease, where others around them have fallen. “Until we look at these trees, we won’t find the answers,” she said.

Follow Helen on Twitter.

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Questlove Set To Direct ‘Black Woodstock’ Documentary

An executive producer (along with Black Thought) on AMC’s Hip Hop: The Songs That Shook America (I gotta sit down and watch that), The Roots‘ Questlove has announced his next magic trick.

This time, the legendary musician and journalist will make his directorial debut with Black Woodstock, a feature documentary about the Harlem Cultural Festival in 1969. Throughout that summer, over 300,000 people attended a wide array of festival performances from Nina Simone, B.B. King, Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson and several other legendary artists. The late Hal Tulchin, the late producer and director (his most recent work, prior to his death in 2017, was the 2015 Netflix documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?), filmed over forty hours of the Festival, yet — according to an NY Times article — tried, unsuccessfully, to get various networks to use his footage for a documentary. “Until he died at 90 on Aug. 29 in Bronxville, N.Y., he was still hoping that a film or a series would be made,” his daughter, Sasha Tulchin, said.

Well, now his vision is coming true at last.

“I am truly excited to help bring the passion, the story and the music of the Harlem Cultural Festival to audiences around the world,” says Questlove in a statement. “The performances are extraordinary. I was stunned when I saw the lost footage for the first time. It’s incredible to look at 50 years of history that’s never been told, and I’m eager and humbled to tell that story.”

Production has begun now. Can’t wait.

Questlove Set To Direct ‘Black Woodstock’ Documentary was last modified: December 2nd, 2019 by Meka

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Top 10 set after ‘incredible’ singer is eliminated

“The Voice” fans not only had the power to decide each contestant’s song during Fan Appreciation Week, but ultimately decided who will advance to the Top 10. 

The 11 remaining contestants performed songs handpicked for them by viewers on the NBC singing competition Monday night and earned rave reviews from their coaches.

But it was not enough to advance to the next round for one singer, who was sent home. 

John Legend was flying high after his team survived another week unscathed and all three members of his team moved on. The same could be said about Team Kelly Clarkson.

However, Team Gwen Stefani is down to only two members, as is Blake Shelton’s team. 

Here’s what happened during Tuesday’s results show:

Last night on ‘The Voice’: John Legend ‘pities anyone’ who has to perform after this Top 11 singer

Gwen Stefani, John Legend, Blake Shelton on "The Voice."

Viewers’ saves

The first two artists saved by overnight votes were Team Blake’s Ricky Duran and Team John’s Katie Kadan, who said she “wouldn’t be here” without her fans. 

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Antarctica: Metal meteorite quest set to get under way

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Media captionKatie Joy and Geoff Evatt: “We could find up to four or five buried meteorites”

A team of British scientists has arrived in the Antarctic to try to find the continent’s “missing meteorites”.

The group, from the University of Manchester, will spend six weeks scouring a remote region for lumps of iron that have fallen from the sky.

These pieces of metal represent the shattered remains of small planet-like objects that were destroyed in the early years of the Solar System.

Iron meteorites are rare, however, especially in Antarctica.

Less than 1% of all the space rocks recovered in searches on the continent are of the metal type, compared with about 5% elsewhere in the world.

But the Manchester researchers believe they know the reason for this statistical deficit.

Their modelling work suggests the iron meteorites are out there; they’ve simply buried themselves in the ice in the Antarctic sunshine.

“Iron meteorites have a higher thermal conductivity than chondrites, or stony meteorites,” explained mathematician Dr Geoff Evatt. “That means they can warm and melt the ice around them more efficiently. So we expect them to be there, hanging just below the surface,” he told BBC News.

The scientists arrived this week at the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera station to begin preparations.

They’ll be heading out into the field very shortly, taking with them a specially designed metal-detecting system that will be dragged behind a couple of snowmobiles.

Whenever this technology is alerted to an interesting signal, the team will jump off its vehicles and dig down into the ice.

Over the 15-20 sq km that will be surveyed, the researchers hope to find four or five iron meteorites.

Image copyright
Geoff Evatt/University of Manchester

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A special detection array has been built and will be dragged behind snowmobiles

This would enable some great science, said Dr Katie Joy.

“By looking at the age, structure and chemistry of iron meteorites, we can understand the timing of the processes that occurred in the early Solar System – and the numbers and diversity of these small planets that were forming. And all of that information can help us understand how we got big planets like Earth, Mars and Venus.”

The expedition is the culmination of three years’ hard graft for the team.

After winning the funding to attempt to prove the idea of a buried population of iron meteorites, the scientists then had to design, build and test its detection technology; and identify the most suitable location to deploy it.

Image copyright
University of Manchester

Image caption

The system incorporates landmine-detection technology

The snowmobile-dragged array incorporates a lot of the electronics found in standard mine-detection equipment. It has had to be made more hard-wearing, however, to cope with the bashing it will receive when bouncing across solid ice. Operation in sub-zero temperatures was also factored into the design.

Dr Evatt successfully put a prototype through its paces at the BAS Sky Blu fuel depot a year ago. At the same time Dr Joy ventured into the Antarctic’s deep interior to inspect favourable meteorite-hunting grounds.

The continent is helpful to scientists in that the flow of the ice tends to aggregate fallen space rocks against ridges and mountains.

Dr Joy picked up more than 30 surface stony meteorites in her travels, and settled on a place now called the Outer Recovery Ice Fields for the upcoming iron quest.

“It would be really exciting if we could find a lunar or Martian meteorite. That would be the cherry on the cake. But hopefully we can find about 80 surface meteorites made up of different asteroid types. And if we can find that many, this implies that beneath the ice surface we may have four or five iron-rich meteorites – if our theory is correct.”

The Manchester-led project is funded by the Leverhulme Trust with logistic support from BAS.

The team is running a blog to report on its discoveries. There will be some audio updates as well on the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Image copyright
Katherine Joy/University of Manchester

Image caption

Stony meteorites on the surface will have a distinctive exterior that results from their fiery descent to Earth

and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos

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Ibrahimovic’s statue in Malmo set on fire after Hammarby ownership deal

News of Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s deal to become part-owner of Swedish club Hammarby hasn’t gone over well in his hometown of Malmo.

A statue honoring the Swedish forward outside of Malmo‘s stadium was vandalized Wednesday, with video on social media showing multiple people setting the monument on fire with flares. The effigy was also spray-painted and had a toilet seat placed on it.

“Several people are said to have vandalized the statue and sprayed it with paint,” local police spokesman Jimmy Morin said, according to ESPN, adding an investigation is underway.

Although it’s unclear who’s responsible for the vandalism, fans of Ibrahimovic’s boyhood club Malmo are believed to have participated in response to his partnership with rivals Hammarby. It was confirmed Wednesday that Ibrahimovic, who began his career at Malmo, has acquired a 25% stake in the Stockholm-based club.

Malmo supporters, whom Ibrahimovic claimed wouldn’t be upset by Wednesday’s news, have started an online petition to have the statue removed, according to ESPN.

“A betrayal became a betrayal and a provocation,” Kaveh Hosseinpour, vice-chairman of Malmo’s official supporters’ group, told Steve Douglas of The Associated Press. “So he basically stuck a knife in our backs, and then he came along with a sword and chopped off our heads.”

Hosseinpour added: “The statue is completely worthless now, just a piece of junk. The best way to solve that was if it was removed and put somewhere in Stockholm or something.

“Every game we go to, we are going to pass Zlatan knowing that there is a statue of an investor in Hammarby, not the statue of the football player Zlatan Ibrahimovic anymore.”

Ibrahimovic is currently a free agent following the end of his contract with the LA Galaxy. Recent reports have linked him with a return to Milan.

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Field Set For 2020 Olympic Qualifying Tournaments

Eight of the 12 spots available for next summer’s Olympic men’s basketball tournament in Tokyo have already been filled. Today, the groupings for next June’s 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments have been drawn.

The qualifying process will involve four segmented mini-tournaments, each hosted in a different country around the world. The winner of each segment will stamp their ticket to Japan.

As a result of the win-or-go-home style of the qualifying tournaments, exactly which teams will face off against which is particularly important for the countries hoping to claw their way into the international spotlight.

Already slated to participate in the men’s division of the Tokyo summer games are Argentina, Australia, France, Iran, Japan, Nigeria, Spain and the United States.

Joining them will be whichever four teams emerge from the following four groupings.

Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments

Tournament #1 (Belgrade)

Dominican Republic
New Zealand
Puerto Rico
Serbia (host)

Tournament #2 (Split)

Croatia (host)

Tournament #3 (Kaunas)

Lithuania (host)

Tournament #4 (Victoria)

Canada (host)
Czech Republic

The women’s draws were also revealed today, although the qualification process for the women’s tournament is different than that of the men’s. The only two women’s teams that are already locked in for Tokyo are host country Japan and 2018 FIBA World Cup winner, the United States.

The remaining 10 teams will be decided in four similar qualification tournaments wherein the top three teams from each segment can earn their way to Japan.

Japan and the United States will participate in the qualifying tournament but will proceed to Japan regardless of their finish.

Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments

Tournament #1 (Belgrade)

Serbia (host)
United States

Tournament #2 (Bourges)

France (host)
Puerto Rico

Tournament #3 (Foshan)

China (host)
Great Britain

Tournament #4 (Ostende)

Belgium (host)

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College Cup field will be set Friday – Equalizer Soccer

Throughout the 2019 women’s college season, TopDrawerSoccer, in partnership with The Equalizer, will keep tabs on some of the National Women’s Soccer League prospects for the 2020 edition of the College Draft.

Use the promo code ‘equalizer’ to get 30% off a one-year subscription to TDS.

Only one round of games is left until the College Cup, with all four women’s DI quarterfinals scheduled to be played on the day after Thanksgiving.

Preview each of the matchups below — plus the latest mock draft from Michael Minnich. All games are Friday, November 29, kick off times listed EST.

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