Penske Media buys big stake in SXSW in bid to save festival: report

Penske Media Corp. — the publisher of titles including Rolling Stone, Billboard and Variety — has struck a deal for a 50 percent stake in South by Southwest, according to a report on Sunday.

The deal will give the popular Texas tech, movie and music festival a “lifeline” amid the coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“It’s been an incredibly tough period for small businesses, SXSW included,” the event’s chief executive and co-founder, Roland Swenson, said in a statement.

“When [Penske founder] Jay Penske came to us with interest in becoming a partner, it was a true lifeline for us.”

The festival was dealt a financial blow after Austin officials canceled it last March over COVID-19 fears. SXSW laid off a third of its 175 year-round employees last summer, the report said.

This year, organizers said they would be going virtual-only, with the hopes of bringing the event back in person in 2022.

SXSW’s founders, who launched the festival in 1987, will continue to manage and operate the event, according to the Journal.

But Penske, the digital media company founded in 2004 by racing scion Jay Penske, will reportedly own the largest stake.

Read More

7-year-old girl killed, her father injured, in McDonald’s drive-thru shooting

A 7-year-old girl died and her father was wounded after they were shot at a McDonald’s drive-thru in Chicago on Sunday, a report said.

The child, identified by police as Jaslyn, and her 28-year-old dad, Jontae Adams, were in a car outside the fast food restaurant in the city’s Homan Square neighborhood when two gunmen opened fire on them, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, citing police and a worker.

Jaslyn was struck several times in the shooting that occurred at about 4:20 p.m. She was taken to Stroger Hospital, but could not be saved, the newspaper reported.

Her father was hit in the torso and hospitalized in stable condition.

A McDonald’s worker told the publication that two people exited a gray car and began shooting at Adams’ vehicle.

No arrests have been made. Police believe the violence may be gang-related, the report said.

Adams’ mother, Lawanda McMullen, told the Sun-Times that her son called her after the gunfire.

“He said, ‘Ma, come get me. They just shot my baby,’” McMullen said.

She said her granddaughter’s hobbies included dancing and making TikTok videos.

Jaslyn was described as “beautiful” and a “really sweet child,” by her aunt, Tawny McMullen.

Read More

Macron Says Nations Must ‘Define Red Lines’ With Russia

PARIS—French President Emmanuel Macron says that while dialogue with Russia is essential, “clear red lines” carrying possible sanctions must also be drawn with Moscow over Ukraine. Referring to a recent buildup of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border, Macron said in an interview with American broadcaster CBS News, “We will never accept new military operations on Ukrainian soil.” The West must demonstrate diplomacy and credibility in making that point, he said. “And I think after an unacceptable behavior, indeed, we have to sanction,” Macron said when asked about the possibility of sanctions. “And I think we have to define clear red lines with Russia. This is the only way to be credible.” However, he added “I think that sanctions are not sufficient in themselves, but sanctions are part of the package.” The interview aired Sunday on “Face the Nation.” It was recorded after Macron met Friday in Paris with Ukrainian President …

Read More

Advocates for School Reopening Speak Out as Adverse Consequences of Remote Learning On the Rise

The largest school district in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, has been taking a step-by-step approach to reopen the K-12 schools. In a message released earlier this week, superintendent Dr. William R. Hite provided a detailed plan for the rollout of the Hybrid Learning Plan Phase III. For Phase III, all students grades 6-9 who have not yet returned to the classroom and students with complex needs in grades 10-11 will be able to opt into the hybrid learning model—two days of in person learning and three days of remote learning each week—beginning the week of May 10. Phase III is the final rollout of the Hybrid Learning Plan for this school year and will allow older students to join younger students already doing hybrid learning. All the schools in Philadelphia were locked down on March 16, 2020, due to the breakout of the CCP Virus pandemic. The Hybrid Learning plan in …

Read More

‘Mare of Easttown’ Episode 1 Introduces the Most Sympathetic Murder Victim Since ‘Twin Peaks’ Laura Palmer


HBO’s Mare of Easttown Episode 1 “Miss Lady Hawk Herself” follows two women living wholly different lives in Easttown, Pennsylvania. First is the show’s eponymous character, Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet), a hardened detective, former high school basketball hero, ex-wife, mother, and grandmother. Mare suffers no fools and can more than stick up for herself. The other woman is a teen mom with a heart of gold named Erin McMenamin (Cailee Spaeny). Erin is besieged at all sides thanks to an emotionally abusive father, terrible baby daddy, and vindictive frenemies. However we love her deeply from the jump because she so obviously loves her infant son. All Erin wants is to love and be loved, and she could not find a more tragic end.

Erin ultimately is murdered at the end of Mare of Easttown Episode 1, kicking off a brand new mystery for Mare to solve. But because we’ve spent so much time with Erin (and Cailee Spaeny’s spectacular performance), her death is truly upsetting. Mare of Easttown makes the victim central to a murder mystery, instantly elevating the story to the likes of Twin Peaks‘s treatment of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) and pulling us in emotionally.

Mare of Easttown is a brand new crime thriller on HBO starring the likes of Kate Winslet, Jean Smart, Guy Pearce, and Julianne Nicholson. The series’s first episode follows Mare as she tries to juggle the demands of her job, the expectations of her town, and the disappointment of her family. Mare is haunted by one massive professional failure: her inability to close the case on young Katie Bailey. The drug-addicted young woman disappeared a year earlier and now her mother, who is Mare’s old teammate, is causing a media frenzy crying out for answers.

Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown
Photo: HBO

The first episode of Mare of Easttown also follows a day in the life for Erin. She’s introduced lying in bed, wistfully telling someone how much she’ll miss them. “Who’s gonna sleep next to me? And hold me and kiss me and snuggle me? Hmm?” Erin coos. The camera cuts to a sweet baby boy surrounded by a court of toys.

“Sometimes I wonder if you even realize how much I love you,” Erin says before getting ready to hand him off to his delinquent father Dylan (Jack Mulhern). The rest of the day unravels like a nightmare. Her father is cruel to her and the handsome boy she thought she was meeting for a date is revealed to be a nasty trick played by Dylan’s vindictive new girlfriend Brianna (Mackenzie Lansing). She’s beaten and mocked on video before stumbling into the dark forest. The next morning, she is dead in a river.

We don’t know who killed Erin or why. We don’t even know if her death is directly related to Katie Bailey’s disappearance. All we do know is a bright light has been extinguished and a sad life met an even sadder end. Mare of Easttown director and executive producer Craig Zobel told Decider it was “important” to introduce the audience to Erin as a person first and victim second.

“We had a unique opportunity in being able to introduce you to the victim,” Zobel said. “Even back in the day with like, Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks you don’t know who the victim was. They are the sort of the MacGuffin that starts the story.”

Erin and her father in Mare of Easttown
Photo: Sarah Shatz/HBO

While it’s true we didn’t know who Laura Palmer when her body was found dead and wrapped in plastic in Twin Peaks, the rest of the show takes care to slowly reveal who she was to all sorts of different people. Mare of Easttown definitely does that more in subsequent episodes, but first we see Erin as a totally alive, loving person.

“In trying to tell a story about a community and tell a story about a town, it felt important to us to be able to let you get to meet the victim and it would have more impact if we did it that way,” Zobel said. “I have to say Cailee [Spaeny] is a movie star, she really impressed me so much. This could have been a person that you kind of remembered but she elevated the role even more than maybe it was on the page.”

“[Spaeny] really did make [Erin] a valuable character in the story even though she’s only in the first episode,” Zobel said.

So now we know what the primary murder mystery of Mare of Easttown is: who killed Erin McMenamin? Could it have been Dylan or Brianna, the last two people to terrorize her? Or is whomever is responsible for Katie Bailey’s disappearance at fault? Or could there be an even bigger, more insidious answer to the question of who killed Erin on Mare of Easttown?

We’ll have to tune in next Sunday for Mare of Easttown Episode 2 to find out…

Where to stream Mare of Easttown

Read More

What Other Country Acknowledges Its Sins?

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield responded Sunday to Republican criticism of her remarks this week acknowledging how the “original sin of slavery” weaved “white supremacy” into America’s founding documents.

“America likes to think it provides moral leadership to the world. Are you saying we’re deluding ourselves?” CBS “Face The Nation” host Margaret Brennan asked.

“No,” she said. “I think we’re being tremendous leaders. Our country is not perfect, but we continue to perfect it. Those imperfections are part of our history and we have to talk about them.”

“I was acknowledging what is a fact in the United States. Racism does exist in this country and I think it was a powerful message. Imagine any other country doing that,” she said.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This past week, you gave a speech that I want to ask you about, because it’s gotten quite a lot of attention. You said, “The original sin of slavery weaved white supremacy into our founding documents and principles.” You talked about white supremacy being linked to the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor continued discrimination against Muslims and Asian-Americans. America likes to think it provides moral leadership to the world. Are you saying we’re deluding ourselves?

AMB. THOMAS-GREENFIELD: No, I think we’re being tremendous leaders. Our country is not perfect, but we continue to perfect it. Those imperfections are part of our history and we have to talk about them. It’s- it’s our strength that we can talk about our imperfections to the world and call out other nations for those same imperfections. So it’s not a- a criticism. It’s an acknowledgement of our history. It’s an acknowledgement of where we started. But we need to look at where we’ve come. The fact that I came from a segregated high school and I’m now the permanent representative of the United States in- at the United Nations says everything about what our country is about. And I look forward to continuing to engage with other countries, to use our example, to show those other countries what they might achieve. But we still have a lot of work to do and we have to acknowledge that. But we also have to work to continue to improve our country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it is precisely because of the- the role you have as a cabinet member, that it drew so much criticism. I mean the Wall Street Journal editorial board called you the “Ambassador of Blame America First” saying, “It sounded like you were reciting Chinese propaganda about America and that you believe your job is to bring critical race theory to the world with a focus on criticizing your own country.” To be clear, were you comparing bigotry in America to mass atrocities carried out against minorities around the world?

AMB. THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I was acknowledging what is a fact in the United States. Racism does exist in this country and I think it was a powerful message. Imagine any other country doing that. Our country, the uniqueness of our country, is that we can self-criticize and we can move forward and our values are clear. And the purpose of that speech was to lay out our values, but also acknowledge our imperfections and acknowledge that we are moving forward. I don’t think you will see a Uyghur -a Chinese Uyghur getting on the national stage acknowledging China’s issues with- with human rights. I am not comparing our situation. I am acknowledging that we’ve come a long way and I’m very proud of what we have been able to achieve. But I’m realistic about what we have to do moving forward. And I think if we are going to be a voice around the globe for raising issues of human rights, we cannot whitewash our own issues in- in our own country.

Watch her full interview here:

Read More