Letitia Wright steals show in ‘Black Panther’ breakout role

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Letitia Wright still can’t believe she made the “Black Panther” poster. The 24-year-old actress has an out-of-nowhere star-making turn in the Marvel superhero film as the whip-smart Shuri, teenage sister to T’Challa and top scientist in Wakanda. Vibrant, funny and cool, it’s the kind of performance that has already left audiences wondering who she is and where they’ve seen her before. Tessa Thompson has tweeted her praises, as has Diddy, Common and “Deadpool” actress Brianna Hildebrand. “She’s the scene-stealer of the movie,” said Jamie Broadnax, who created the website Black Girl Nerds. “(Executive Producer) Nate Moore has said she is the smartest person in the Marvel… Read More

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Californians can go home but told to keep watch on wildfire

BISHOP, Calif. — A wind-driven wildfire in rural central California threatened hundreds of buildings Monday, including a historic railroad station, but officials said they made some gains after the flames exploded in size. The blaze scorched 3½ square miles (9 square kilometers) of chaparral bush and shrub oak in the small town of Bishop on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada that is popular for hiking, fishing, climbing and hunting. Officials ended most evacuations that were ordered near the town but warned that strong winds were expected in the area and urged residents to remain vigilant. It comes as California has seen some record-high temperatures and little rain after… Read More

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Radio Atlantic: Who Killed Jeffrey Young?

In part one of our three-part series “No Way Out,” Barbara Bradley Hagerty told the story of how Benjamine Spencer was convicted for the murder of Jeffrey Young, and how much of the evidence that led to that conviction has fallen apart under scrutiny. But if Spencer did not kill him, who else could have? And if the evidence does point to another assailant, is that enough to free Spencer? In this episode, part two of three, Barbara explores an alternate theory of the crime. She talks with two friends of another man they say boasted about committing it. Their story, coupled with the shoddiness of the evidence that convicted… Read More

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Gray whale returned to ocean after 3 days beached in Mexico

MEXICO CITY — A gray whale has been returned safely to the Pacific Ocean after three days beached on the coast of Mexico’s Baja California Sur state. The federal environmental protection agency says in a statement that the whale swam into a shallow canal near Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos last Thursday and was then stranded by the ebbing tide. Workers spent three days using pumps to keep the whale hydrated. Photos released by the agency showed them hosing it down and digging the sand in an apparent bid to allow water to pool around it. Monday’s statement said the tide came in high enough Saturday for the whale to be… Read More

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Funerals: Grieving teens, raw emotions after school shooting

PARKLAND, Fla. — Each funeral for the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High massacre is different, yet the same: the mourning relatives, teens walking in clutches wearing black, politicians paying their respects, media cameras pointing at the entrance from across the parking lot. And each service takes its toll on the young mourners, many of them attending more friends’ funerals in a span of days than many middle-aged people have in their lifetimes. Services for 14 Stoneman Douglas students, the athletic director, a coach and a geography teacher began Friday, two days after the shooting, and will end in the next few days. Erica Sparrow, a 17-year-old senior, said… Read More

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Experts: Underwater archaeology site imperiled in Mexico

MEXICO CITY — Pollution is threatening the recently mapped Sac Actun cave system in the Yucatan Peninsula, a vast underground network that experts in Mexico say could be the most important underwater archaeological site in the world. Subaquatic archaeologist Guillermo de Anda said the cave system’s historical span is likely unrivaled. Some of the oldest human remains on the continent have been found there, dating back more than 12,000 years, and now-extinct animal remains push the horizon back to 15,000 years. He said researchers found a human skull that was already covered in rainwater limestone deposits long before the cave system flooded around 9,000 years ago. De Anda said over… Read More

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Fergie says ‘tried my best’ after national anthem blowback

LOS ANGELES — Fergie is apologizing after trying something different with the national anthem at the NBA All-Star Game. “I’ve always been honored and proud to perform the national anthem and last night I wanted to try something special for the NBA,” the Grammy-winning singer said in a statement Monday. “I’m a risk taker artistically, but clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone. I love this country and honestly tried my best.” Fergie’s slow, bluesy rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on Sunday night wasn’t particularly well received at Staples Center or on social media before the 67th edition of the NBA’s annual showcase. A low chuckle rumbled through the… Read More

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As ‘Black Panther’ shows, inclusion pays at the box office

NEW YORK — A lavish, headline-grabbing premiere. Lightning word-of-mouth stoked by glowing reviews. Packed movie theaters with sold-out shows, long lines and fans decked out as characters from the film. The phenomenon of “Black Panther” had the look and feel of a classic, bona fide blockbuster in route to its record-setting $201.8 million debut over the weekend, or an estimated $235 million Friday through Monday. Much has been made about the film industry’s struggles to tap into pop culture the way it once more regularly did — that TV and streaming options and a dearth of fresh ideas have diminished the power of the big screen. But when Hollywood does… Read More

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Native images in exhibit questions how America is defined

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Bold. Visionary. A spectacular success. The words in an online promotion for a new museum exhibit in Washington, D.C., describe an 1830 U.S. law that forced thousands of American Indians from their lands in the South to areas west of the Mississippi River. Provocative, yes, says the co-curator of the exhibit “Americans” that opened last month at the National Museum of the American Indian. Bold and visionary in imagining a country free of American Indians. A spectacular success in greatly expanding wealth from cotton fields where millions of blacks worked as slaves. “When you’re in the show, you understand bold and visionary become tongue in cheek,” co-curator… Read More

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Wind-driven wildfire forces people to flee rural California

BISHOP, Calif. — A wind-driven wildfire in rural central California forced mandatory evacuations and threatened hundreds of buildings Monday, including a historic railroad station, after it tripled in size overnight, officials said. The blaze scorched 3½ square miles (9 square kilometers) of chaparral bush and shrub oak in the small town of Bishop on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada that is popular for hiking, fishing, climbing and hunting. Firefighters made some gains against the flames, which they found had burned a slightly smaller area after doing more accurate mapping. It comes as California has seen some record-high temperatures and little rain after emerging from a five-year drought, helping… Read More

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