In the ground and off the page: why we’re banning ads from fossil fuels extractors | Membership | The Guardian

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In a bid to reduce our carbon footprint, confront greenwashing and increase our focus on the climate crisis, the Guardian this week announced it will no longer run ads from fossil fuel extractors alongside any of its content in print or online. The move will come into immediate effect, and follows the announcement in October last year that we intend to reduce our net emissions to zero by 2030.

Once upon a time, a newspaper was a rather straightforward business. You generated enough material of interest to attract a significant number of readers. You then ‘sold’ those readers to advertisers happy to pay to get their ideas, products or brands in front of consumers with cash to spend.

Of course, digital disruption over the past 20 years has upended that model, but advertising remains an important part of the media business ecosystem. At the Guardian, it is still responsible for about two-fifths of our income.

But what happens when the readers don’t like the adverts? What do you do when the message that advertisers want to spread jars awkwardly with the work your journalists are doing?

What if your journalists are some of the best in the world at revealing and investigating the deepening climate catastrophe and the disaster that is fossil fuel growth, while some of your advertisers are the very people digging the stuff out of the ground?

This contradiction has bothered us – and some of you – for some time. We came up with a rather bold answer this week: turn away the money and double down on the journalism.

“It’s something we thought about for a long time,” says Anna Bateson, the interim chief executive officer of Guardian Media Group, the Guardian’s parent company. “We always felt it was in line with our editorial values but were cautious for commercial reasons.”

She said it was the logical next step after the Guardian committed last year to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and was certified as a B Corp – a company that puts purpose before profit. But she added that the move had to be weighed carefully, given the fact that the Guardian only recently returned to breakeven after years in the red.

“You have to be careful you are not making cavalier decisions,” she said. “ We are still having to fight for our financial future. But because of the support we get from our readers, it is less of a risk.”

On the advertising side of our business, Adam Foley said there were no complaints at all that potential customers were suddenly off-limits, adding that staff felt that “being part of a company that shares their values” was the biggest motivation for his teams.

“A statement like this reaffirms to all of us that we’re contributing to a business that really lives those values – to the extent where it is prepared to sacrifice profit for purpose.”

The response from the wider world has been a pleasant surprise. Hundreds of you have written in, pledging your support, and in some cases, one-off contributions to start making up the shortfall. (EDS: See below – I’m going to append the best responses below. In print you can use as the panel)

The environmental movement was instantly appreciative, with activists quickly urging our peers to follow suit. “The Guardian will no longer accept advertising from oil and gas companies,” Greta Thunberg tweeted. “A good start, who will take this further?” Greenpeace called it “a huge moment in the battle against oil and gas for all of us.”

Some readers have been calling for the Guardian to go the whole hog and forsake advertising from any company with a substantial carbon footprint. Bateson said that was not realistic, adding that such a move would result in less money for journalism. She said the fossil fuel extractors were specifically targeted because of their efforts to skew the climate change debate through their lobbying effort.

“We are committed to advertising,” she said. “It will continue to be part of our future. We want advertisers who want to be appear alongside our high quality journalism.”

And how will we know if this has worked?
“We will listen to our readers, we will listen to our advertisers. The response so far has been gratifying. If we continue to hear positive noises from our readers and supporters, then it will have been a success.”




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Responses from our supporters

That is such a brilliant decision and it will be tough, but it is the correct one and I am very proud of The Guardian. Barbara Syer

Following the Guardian’s decision to ban ads from fossil fuel companies I’m making a monthly contribution to support its fearless journalism: reader support is essential for independent scrutiny of the powerful in business, finance and politics. Titus Alexander, Hertfordshire, England

I live at present in Canada, home to the Alberta Tar Sands: another name for ecological devastation resulting from fossil fuel extraction. I fully support The Guardian’s action in ceasing to be a vehicle for advertising by fossil fuel extractive companies, and I’m proud to be a supporter. My monthly donation is small, but when I can I will make it much greater. Rosemary Delnavine, Canada

Congratulations. At this time it may be a bold step, indeed, within this industry, but true leaders have to take bold steps for the betterment of the quality of life, and more importantly for the life of future generations. I applaud this decision, and will spread the word. Raphael Sulkovitz, Boston MA

What a bravery! This is what the life on earth needs, thank you. Karri Kuikka, Finland (EDS: please leave her wonderful Finglish intact!)

Keep it up. Here in Canada, we’re still trying to have it both ways — sell the product internationally but discourage buying domestically. As I recall, it was the same with tobacco. Eventually, it took a change in public opinion to solve the problem. As a news source, your efforts are part of this solution. Robert Shotton, Ottawa

I applaud your decision to”walk the talk.” I will therefore continue to contribute to The Guardian. Bob Wagenseil

Bravo yr decision to eschew $ from the FFI. Please do continue to hold to the fire(s) the feet of the deniers and the willfully ignorant. Sydney Alonso, Vermont, US

I am very happy to hear that good news. It’s quite courageous on your part, and I’m happy to support you! Have a great year ahead, you’ll have my continuous support! Julien Psomas

I completely support your plan to refuse ads from fossils, despite the
financial hit to the Guardian. I have made a donation to help out. David Thompson

A very commendable decision, very much in keeping with the Guardian’s position as leader of green issues to leave a better planet for following generations. Richard Vernon, Oxford

Yay! I’m so proud of the Guardian! We can no longer support or fund in any manner the fossil fuel industry if we have any chance of survival as a civilization on this planet. You’ve taken a courageous and moral step that will hopefully embolden others to join you. Good on you! Best, Carol Ross, Missouri, US

Good decision. I’ll support you as much as I can, which unfortunately is not much as I live on age pension only. Keep up the good work, we need it desperately! Ursula Brandt, South Australia

I am absolutely delighted by this decision. So many people pledge to do something about Climate Change, but few actually are willing to get uncomfortable and DO it. I am very proud of you as my favourite source of Information and this only makes a case for me to donate next time to you again. Christiane Gross

It was great reading what The Guardian is doing re the climate. As a Guardian on-line reader from The Netherlands I’m going to contribute monthly now instead of ‘now and again’. The amount will be relatively small as I do not have a great income. I really hope more of your supporters will do so, because it is really great what you are doing.
With kind regards, Aleida Oostendorp, Netherlands

I congratulate you and your team on taking this step regarding fossil fuel companies. The Guardian’s stance on the environment and its excellent coverage of related stories and events is the major reason for my support. Well done, and good luck in the future. Deirdre Moore

Love your new policy about accepting money from fossil fuels. Will contribute more to help make up for the shortfall. Todd Misk

I live on a fixed income with a strict budget so my continuing support of your excellent news organisation represents my commitment to the fight to address climate change. Every step counts. Barbara Hirsch, Texas, US

Only when we speak truth to power can change take place. thank yo for your courageous and expensive decision. Nancy Shepherd, Vermont, US

Love your journalism, especially your investigative work and the climate change topic. And with the bold statement about not receiving any more sponsorship from the fossil extracting companies? Well, the already great newspapers became even more impressive now. Keep up the good work. Miroslav Řezníček, Czech Republic

Thank you for taking the bold step of refusing advertising from fossil fuel extractive companies. I think it is the right thing to do & hope many more companies do the same. We must all work together if we want to save our planet. It is one of the most important issues of our times. Ginger Comstock, New York, US

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Breakout prospects for 2020 | MLB.com

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Every organization takes pride in its ability to identify and develop talent. We’re the same way at MLB Pipeline, especially when it comes to predicting future breakout prospects.

Looking at last year’s list of breakout candidates, we see many examples of players who realized their potential en route to becoming some of the sport’s premier prospects. White Sox outfielder Luis Robert shot up from No. 44 to No. 3 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list thanks to a 32-homer, 36-steal campaign across three levels, while Blue Jays right-hander Nate Pearson, another three-level climber in ‘19, ascended from No. 90 to No. 10.

With the start of the 2020 season around the corner, MLB Pipeline once again is picking one breakout candidate from each organization. And while some of the names on this year’s list might be more recognizable than others, they all have the potential to jump on the scene during the upcoming season and establish themselves as can’t-miss prospects.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP (No. 6) — The Mets’ second-round pick from the 2018 Draft pitched better than his numbers suggest he did at Class A Columbia, and he made six impressive starts for Class A Advanced Dunedin after joining the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman Trade Deadline deal to finish his first full season with a 126/24 K/BB and .238 BAA in 106 2/3 innings. The 19-year-old righty is a high-ceiling pitching prospect, armed with a plus fastball-curveball combo, an advanced changeup and a mature overall feel for his craft that could help him move quickly through the Minors.

Orioles: DL Hall, LHP (No. 3, MLB No. 60) — Baltimore’s 2017 first-rounder boasts some of the best pure stuff in the Minors among left-handed pitching prospects, with a plus fastball-breaking ball pairing and a promising changeup. Hall’s overall control, however, leaves much to be desired after the 21-year-old southpaw issued 6.0 BB/9 over 80 2/3 innings last season at Class A Advanced Frederick. The good news is that Hall has never had any issues missing bats (11.1 K/9 across his first 185 1/3 pro frames) and continues to be tough to barrel (.201 BAA), so it’s easy to envision him taking a step forward in 2020 with improved strike-throwing ability.

Rays: Shane Baz, RHP (No. 7, MLB No. 94) — Acquired from the Pirates as the PTBNL in the lopsided Chris Archer deal, Baz spent all of 2019 at Class A Bowling Green in the Midwest League, pitching to a 2.99 ERA with 87 strikeouts and 37 walks in 81 1/3 innings (17 starts). He was especially good down the stretch, too, posting a 2.22 ERA over his final six regular-season starts for the Hot Rods before turning in an eye-opening performance in the Arizona Fall League. With a fastball that can touch triple digits, a devastating slider and a raw but promising changeup, the 20-year-old right-hander could develop into a front-of-the-rotation force if he can improve his control and command.

Red Sox: Gilberto Jimenez, OF (No. 7) — A $10,000 steal from the Dominican Republic in 2017, Jimenez skipped a level last season and led the short-season New York-Penn League in batting (.359) in his U.S. debut. The best center-field defender and one of the fastest runners in Boston’s system, he’ll make the jump to full-season ball in 2020.

Yankees: Clarke Schmidt, RHP (No. 5) — Schmidt had Tommy John surgery as a South Carolina junior a month before New York made him a first-round pick in the 2017 Draft. Though he has been brought back slowly, taking that summer off and totaling 114 innings in 2018-19, he already has reached Double-A and shows the makings of four plus pitches.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

Indians: Aaron Bracho, 2B (No. 13) — Bracho’s advanced bat earned him a $1.5 million bonus out of Venezuela in 2017, but he didn’t make his pro debut until last season because he fractured his right arm in May 2018. A switch-hitter who possesses deceptive power and precocious command of the strike zone, he hit .296/.416/.593 in the Rookie-level Arizona League last summer.

Royals: Kyle Isbel, OF (No. 8) — The Royals were excited after Isbel’s exceptional pro debut after they took him in the third round of the 2018 Draft, but his 2019 season was interrupted by injuries and he played in just 59 games. He made up for lost time in the Arizona Fall League and should use his impressive .315/.429/.438 (leading the league in OBP) showing to catapult him to the upper levels of the system

Tigers: Parker Meadows, OF (No. 12) — The Tigers knew that Meadows — Rays outfielder Austin Meadows’ younger brother — would need time to develop when they selected the athletic prep outfielder in the second round of the 2017 Draft, and his .221/.296/.312 showing over 126 games at Class A West Michigan in his first full season only confirmed that assessment. However, the 6-foot-5, 205-pounder’s five-tool profile offers reason to be optimistic about his future, as all the raw qualities are in place for the 20-year-old to develop into an impact player.

Twins: Wander Javier, SS (No. 7) — While it’s true the Twins didn’t protect Javier on their 40-man roster this offseason, that was a relatively low-risk move given the shortstop hasn’t played above A ball. A torn labrum cost him the 2018 season and he struggled once he got to full-season ball for the first time in late May of 2019 (.177/.278/.323). But he still has tremendous tools, the ones the Twins saw when they gave him $4 million to sign in July 2015.

White Sox: Matthew Thompson, RHP (No. 13) — Before Chicago selected Thompson 45th overall last June, it had spent just two picks that early on high school pitchers in the previous 17 Drafts (Gio Gonzalez in 2004, Spencer Adams in 2013). Though he was inconsistent as a senior last spring, the White Sox love his athleticism and quick arm, which could result in a mid-90s fastball and plus curveball once he’s fully developed.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

A’s: Marcus Smith, OF (No. 30) — The Kansas City high schooler was a bit of a surprise third-round pick, one who wasn’t on our Draft Top 200 list in 2019, but he sure made the A’s look smart during his relatively brief pro debut in the Arizona League (.361/.466/.443 in 29 games). That advanced approach should serve him well and let him use his 70-grade speed to his advantage in his first full season of pro ball.

Angels: Jeremiah Jackson, SS/2B (No. 4) — He’s yet to reach full-season ball, but he set the stage for the jump by leading the Pioneer League in home runs and RBIs in 2019. He’ll need to cut down on his strikeouts (33 percent rate), but he’ll also only be 20 for all of 2020, so there’s time for him to refine his approach and become a truly impactful middle infielder.

Astros: Jeremy Pena, SS/2B (No. 8) — The son of offensive-minded second baseman Geronimo Pena, Jeremy was one of the best defensive shortstops available in the college class of 2018, when Houston popped him in the third round out of Maine. His glove was as good as advertised in his first full pro season, when he exceeded expectations by batting .303/.385/.440 with 35 extra-base hits and 20 steals between two Class A levels.

Mariners: George Kirby, RHP (No. 6) — Kirby made a name for himself as a control artist at Elon University and parlayed that into being a first-round pick last June. He showed just how good that command was by not walking a single batter in 23 innings during his pro debut. Seen as a safe pick who could ride his pitchability quickly up a ladder, his first full season could show that he’s more than that, with the potential to join others from his class on our Top 100 in 2020.

Rangers: Cole Winn, RHP (No. 4) — One of the most polished high school pitchers in the 2018 Draft, Winn went 15th overall but struggled more than expected while being kept on a tight leash in his first full pro season in 2019. But he finished the year with a 2.81 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings over his final 12 starts, showing signs of a quality four-pitch mix once he dials in his command.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Bryce Ball, 1B — Ball spent two years in junior college before transferring to Dallas Baptist for his junior year. The Braves nabbed him in the 24th round of last June’s Draft after he hit .325/.443/.614 with 18 homers and then he hit 17 more combined in the Appalachian and South Atlantic Leagues during his pro debut. He might have the most power in the system and has already shown the ability to get to it.

Marlins: Braxton Garrett, LHP (No. 7) — The seventh overall pick in 2016, the Alabama high school product required Tommy John surgery after just four pro starts, costing him all of 2018. Garrett looked like his old self last season, pairing a low-90s fastball with a plus curveball in high Class A, and could move quickly in 2020 as he puts elbow reconstruction further behind him.

Mets: Francisco Alvarez, C (No. 5) — Alvarez’s $2.7 million bonus in July 2018 was one of the top totals handed out during the 2018-19 international period, and it wasn’t long thereafter that he began to receive rave reviews from those inside the organization. The Mets challenged Alvarez last summer in his pro debut, assigning him straight to the Rookie Gulf Coast League before a quick promotion to the Appalachian League, and the then-17-year-old backstop responded by slashing .312/.407/.510 with seven homers in 42 games between the two stops. The Venezuela native is already perhaps the best pure hitter in New York’s system, with defensive chops behind the plate that could make him an impactful two-way catcher.

Nationals: Jackson Rutledge, RHP (No. 3) Taken with the No. 17 overall pick in last year’s Draft, Rutledge, a 6-foot-8 right-hander, has some of the best pure stuff among college pitchers from his class with an explosive mid-90s fastball and a wipeout slider that front his four-pitch mix. Harnessing his stuff to throw more strikes and developing a better changeup will be developmental keys for the 20-year-old in his first full season, though he’s exactly the type of power pitcher the Nats have successfully developed in the past.

Phillies: Francisco Morales, RHP (No. 6) — One of the top pitchers in the 2016-17 international signing class, Morales has tremendous raw stuff. In many ways, it played well during his full-season debut in 2019, as he struck out just over 12 batters per nine innings and held hitters to a .226 batting average. He needs to refine his command to reach his very lofty ceiling, but here’s betting he takes a big step forward in 2020.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Brewers: Tristen Lutz, OF (No. 2) — Tabbed as the Brewers’ top breakout candidate a year ago, Lutz advanced to Class A Advanced Carolina in 2019 and produced a nearly identical line (.754 OPS, 13 HR, 137/46 K/BB) compared to his first full season (.742 OPS, 13 HR, 139/46 K/BB). The elevated strikeout rates fuel questions about the 21-year-old’s hit tool, but there’s a lot to like in his blend of right-handed power potential and patience at the plate. Lutz has the makings of becoming an everyday corner outfielder if it all clicks for him, and a strong showing at Double-A in 2020 would mark a significant turning point in his development.

Cardinals: Ivan Herrera, C (No. 6) — Signed out of Panama for $200,000 in July 2016, Herrera was pushed up to full-season ball at age 18 in 2019 and responded to the challenge by slashing .284/.374/.405 with nine home runs in 87 games across two levels, including Class A Advanced Palm Beach. Herrera continued to impress on both sides of the ball after the season as one of the Arizona Fall League’s youngest players and will enter 2020 with a big up arrow next to his name.

Cubs: Brennen Davis, OF (No. 3) — Though scouts considered Davis one of the better prep athletes in the 2018 Draft, a hamstring injury slowed him as a senior and helped Chicago grab him in the second round. More advanced than expected, he batted .305/.381/.525 and flashed 30-30 upside in low Class A last season — albeit while limited to 50 games by multiple finger injuries.

Pirates: Jared Oliva, OF (No. 11) — A seventh-round pick out of Arizona in 2017, Oliva has had a solid, if unspectacular, first two full seasons of pro ball with a career .274/.348/.403 line, to go along with an impressive 84 steals. He opened a lot of eyes by leading the AFL with 11 steals (in 12 attempts) and hitting .312/.413/.473, setting the stage for a big 2020.

Reds: Tyler Stephenson, C (No. 7) — The 2015 first-round pick got hit by the injury bug quite a bit during the first stages of his career, but he’s going to look back at 2019 as the year it all started to click. After a solid regular season in Double-A, the backstop had a very strong AFL campaign (.347/.372/.410 in 49 at-bats) to earn a spot on the 40-man roster. A big follow-up campaign should vault him onto the top catching prospects list and have him ready for Cincinnati.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

D-backs: Kristian Robinson, OF (No. 2, MLB No. 71) — Signed out of the Bahamas for $2.5 million in July 2017, Robinson offered a glimpse of his potential in 2019 as he slashed .282/.386/.514 with 14 homers and 17 steals while ascending from Class A Short-Season Hillsboro to Class A Kane County in his age-18 season. The 6-foot-3 outfielder’s massive right-handed power highlights an all-around exceptional set of tools, and, overall, it gives him one of the higher ceilings in the Minors among teenage prospects.

Dodgers: Diego Cartaya, C (No. 11) — MLB Pipeline’s top-rated international amateur in the 2018 class, Cartaya signed for $2.5 million out of Venezuela. Often compared to Salvador Perez, he has the tools to make a difference offensively and defensively and hit .281/.343/.432 between two Rookie-ball stops in his 2019 pro debut.

Giants: Alexander Canario, OF (No. 7) — Signed for $60,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2019, Canario possesses the quickest bat in San Francisco’s system and batted .318/.377/.623 with 16 homers in 59 games between the Rookie and short-season levels last year. He fits the right-field profile well and could have even more value if he’s able to stick in center.

Padres: Reggie Lawson, RHP (No. 21) — The Padres’ second-round pick in the 2016 Draft, Lawson spent much of the ’19 season on the injured list with a balky right elbow, but he returned late in the season to make six starts for Double-A Amarillo, then dominated while making three impressive outings in the Arizona Fall League (0.82 ERA, 14 K, 11 IP), where he operated with a mid-90s fastball, a sharp, 12-to-6 curveball and a promising changeup. With his blend of size and stuff, Lawson could break out in earnest with a healthy 2020 campaign.

Rockies: Helcris Olivarez, LHP (No. 25) — Olivarez made his United States debut in 2019 and missed a lot of bats in the Pioneer League (11.76 K/9 in 46 2/3 IP), largely with a very lively fastball. He’ll need to improve his command (4.63 BB/9) and tighten up his secondary stuff, but the ingredients are all there for him to take a big step forward, perhaps with a move to full-season ball.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

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Naples Senior Center offers drum circle twice a month to senior members

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Naples Senior Center members move to beat of a drum


Liz Freeman


Naples Daily News
Updated 8:00 AM EST Nov 26, 2019

Martha Davis arrives early for drum circle at Naples Senior Center, a giveaway she’s fond of the activity.

“It just makes you feel happy,” Davis, 82, said. “I know it’s healthy for us. (Afterward) I’m full of energy I didn’t have before.”

The 45-minute drum circle sessions began earlier this year as an experiment to see if it held any appeal to members. The center offers 40 different programs each week to keep seniors engaged and active.

Scheduled initially for once a month, attendance at the drum circle quickly mushroomed. The center’s purchase of eight drums didn’t suffice.

Now drum circle is twice a month. The center has purchased a dozen drums and counting.

Jim Sernovitz, 74, is a volunteer who leads drum circle. He wasn’t surprised how quickly it became popular with the seniors.

Drum instructor Jim Sernovitz, center, leads the drum circle, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, at the Naples Senior Center.
Jon Austria/Naples Daily News USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA

“It helps everybody. With drums, you really don’t have to know a lot about music. In a group, it is so loud if you make a mistake, nobody knows.”

The drumming provides exercise through the hand movement, and the vibration can be a stress reliever.

“You feel good when you are done,” he said.

Jackie Faffer, the center’s president and CEO, said drum circle provides members with a connection to others and a sense of interpersonal support.

“This epitomizes the purpose of Naples Senior Center,” she said. “We are all about connecting, energizing and supporting all who participate in our programs. And, when you see the smiles on the faces of our drummers, you know we are also all about having a good time, too.”

Mary-Rina Longo, left, Terry Butts and Carolyn Mulligan participate in a drum circle class, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, at the Naples Senior Center.
Jon Austria/Naples Daily News USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA

Sernovitz started a recent session with some warm up drumming before picking up the tempo. Most of the participants in a recent session were women, except for Art Sturm, 86. He started coming to drum circle three months ago.

“It kind of relaxes me,” Sturm said, adding that he likes it when Sernovitz picks up the pace.

Drum circle events are plentiful in Southwest Florida, with gatherings held in Cambier Park in Naples, at Shangri-La Springs in Bonita Springs and in Centennial Park in Fort Myers, according to a public Facebook page, Fort Myers Drum Circle.

Participants play drums in a drum circle class, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, at the Naples Senior Center.
Jon Austria/Naples Daily News USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA

The Naples center purchased djembe drums, which hail from West Africa. The drum traditionally is carved from a single piece of African hardwood with animal skin as the drumhead, according to a detailed history on the website, drumconnection.com, and is affiliated with a drum circle program in Boston.

Numerous websites refer to health benefits of drum circles as a way to address stress, provide a sense of belonging and a connection to others. Drumming is a way to decrease anxiety and depression, and can improve motor skills and energy.

Terry Butts plays her drum during a drum circle class, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, at the Naples Senior Center.
Jon Austria/Naples Daily News USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA

For Terry Butts, 89, the drum circle at the senior center doesn’t help with her essential tremor, a neurological condition that causes involuntary shaking, but it makes her feel good.

“I love it,” she said. “I like the rhythm. I like the camaraderie.”

The drum circle helps her forget that she’s got essential tremor.

 “I don’t think about it, and the people here are nice,” she said.

Mary-Rina Longo participates in a drum circle class, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, at the Naples Senior Center.
Jon Austria/Naples Daily News USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA

Naples Senior Center is located at 5025 Castello Drive.

For more information, go to naplesseniorcenter.org or call 239-325-4444.

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Fire rips through pensioner’s house and burns it to the ground – with three beloved dogs still inside – Lincolnshire Live

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A pensioner has been left with just ‘the clothes on his back’ after the uninsured home he built with his own hands was burned to the ground – destroying everything he owned and burning three beloved dogs alive.

Grandad Shaun Maguire, from Boston, built his three-bedroom lodge by himself ten years ago after being forced to retire due to a heart attack.

He had spent his entire life savings on the building but was unable to insure it as it was made from wood.

When he returned home on Sunday, he discovered that it had burned down completely. Not only that, but his best friend, his pet Labrador Molly, had also died in the blaze – which had been caused by a faulty fridge freezer.

All

To make matters worse, his son Jake’s dogs French bulldog Millie, two, and pug-beagle cross Bertie, four, also died in the fire along with Shaun’s pet parrot Red.

Shaun said: “It was my forever home – just for me and the dog.

“I lost everything in the fire, including all my clothes.

“I always dreamt of living in the countryside in a nice log cabin and I thought before I got any older, because my health was going, I’d have to do it then.

“My main concern was getting the dog out. My son and his wife were down for the weekend with their two dogs too.

amazing

“We’d nipped to the next village to a steam fair and it was too hot for the dogs, so we left them in there.

“As soon as we saw the fire we rushed in there, tried to get into the property, threw a big rock through the patio window but we couldn’t get in there because of the flames and smoke.

“The firefighters said the smoke would have got to them before anything else and they were found in the sleeping position.

Read More

Since the blaze, the local community have rallied round Shaun and donated clothes, bedding and money to help him get back on his feet.

By aiming to raise £20,000 with their JustGiving page, they plan on buying tools and skips to empty the land then rebuild the home.

Shaun said: “It’s amazing what people do in a crisis. It’s so nice of them.

Boston

“The community have been absolutely amazing with their support.

“We’ve had a skip company donate skips for the weekend, a bathroom company called to say I can pick whatever I like, companies saying they’ll decorate, rewire, fit with CCTV and alarms when we rebuild.

“People have been out spending their hard earned cash to buy me clothes and bedding.

“Someone has even donated a caravan for me so I can live onsite near my dog.

Read More

The dogs had been left inside as it was a warm day. Jake and Shaun were horrified to return to the lodge and discover that the animals were still inside.

Jake desperately tried to run into the house but was pushed back by the ferocious fire.

When the fire was extinguished, firefighters broke the news that all four animals had passed away – with the dogs being found in their beds in a sleeping position.

Jake, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, said: “When we drove back, we saw the smoke in the sky from the next village and thought ‘bloody hell. Someone’s got a fire going again’.

burns

“As we pulled down the road, we saw the fire engines outside the house. We rushed down to find the house well ablaze.

“We’d left the dogs at home and when we got back, there was nothing we could do. We lost all three of them. My dad also had a parrot and unfortunately that didn’t survive.

“When we left, my dad just had the clothes on his back. He lost everything in the fire.

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Jake continued: “We’ve set up the fundraiser to pay for the house to be demolished and removed.

Cash

“We had a quote for someone to remove it but it was quite a lot, so I said if I get my friends round we can all get in there with saws, wheelbarrows and shovels.

“I’m sure whatever is left we can hire a skip and get it all gone. We’ve got no money to hire skips and tools at the moment.

“On Saturday morning we’ve got friends, family and locals of the community coming together. Many hands make light work.

Read More

You can donate to the cause through Facebook Fundraisers by clicking here.

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New PSA warns parents to avoid youth tackle football by comparing it to smoking

Health

(CNN)A young football player stares down his opponents. He hikes the ball. Then the coach passes him a cigarette, which his mother happily lights.

The new PSA, which premiered Thursday morning on YouTube, kicks off the “Tackle Can Wait” campaign. The goal is for parents to keep kids out of tackle football until they’re 14 to lessen their risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
The campaign was led by the daughters of two football players diagnosed with CTE after their deaths: Rebecca Carpenter, whose NFL player father, Lew Carpenter, died in 2010, and Angela Harrison, whose father, Joe Campigotto, played college football and died in 2016.
    The video’s release lines up with a new study in the Annals of Neurology, which found that the severity of CTE isn’t related to the number of concussions, but the number of years spent playing football. Concussion Legacy Foundation CEO Chris Nowinski was a study co-author.
    After studying the brains of more than 260 professional and amateur deceased football players, Boston University researchers concluded that the risk of CTE doubles for every 2.6 years of play.
    That means high school football players who started playing tackle football at 5 years old have 10 times the risk of developing CTE than players who started the game at 14, the foundation said.

    So why 14 years old?

    If age restrictions on cigarettes can prevent lung cancer in young people, Nowinski thinks similar rules might cut kids’ risk of CTE by as much as half.
    Research shows that kids who get brain injuries before age 12 recover more slowly. Plus, children’s bodies aren’t built to withstand the head-bobbling hits of tackle football, he told CNN.
    Of course, there’s also the option of skipping the sport.
    “They can choose not to play tackle football at all,” he said. “But if you do, the best way to manage risk and reward is to wait until 14.”
    Dr. Julian Bailes, the director of neurosurgery and co-director of NorthShore University HealthSystem Neurological Institute and medical director for Pop Warner, said the risk for contact in football is heightened after age 14.
    In high school, the hits are harder and more frequent, and teens face off against bigger players who can cause more damage when they tackle, he said.
    “The risk for brain degeneration later in life relates more to those who have played many years and at the higher levels, college to professional,” he said.
    As for the age limit, Bailes said there’s “no scientific agreement that 14 is a magic number.”
    Brains continue to develop well into adolescence and early adulthood, he said. Neuroscientists haven’t even set a benchmark age when brains have fully developed.
    Nowinski said the smoking comparison is “intentionally shocking,” meant to make parents consider their children’s health in a different way.
    Bailes called the comparison between smoking and tackle football “misleading and inaccurate.”
    “There are nearly half a million people in the US who die from illnesses related to tobacco use, and there are no deaths in youth football,” Bailes said.
    Youth and amateur organizations have made changes to reduce contact in the sport, he said, by taking out head contact during practice and eliminating kickoff for younger players to make football “safer than it’s ever been.”

    CTE symptoms take years to present

    The neurodegenerative disease is thought to be caused by repetitive brain trauma, which shakes the brain inside the skull. That leads to a buildup of tau, an abnormal protein that can take over parts of the brain.
    It can take years or decades after initial brain trauma for the effects of CTE to manifest, according to Boston University’s CTE Center. They include memory loss, confusion, aggression, impaired judgment and eventually dementia.
    There’s no known cure, andit can only be diagnosed through an autopsy.
      A 2017 study from the CTE Center found the disease in 99% of studied brains of deceased NFL players. Only one of 111 former footballers hadn’t shown signs of CTE. The studied brains were required to have football as their primary exposure to head trauma, and the study noted potential bias because relatives of players might have submitted their brains due to symptoms they noticed while they were living.
      But football players aren’t the only ones at risk. Boxers, baseball and soccer players and military veterans have been diagnosed with it, too.

      Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

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      September 11 Hijackers Fast Facts

      conflicts and war

      (CNN)Here’s some background information about the 19 hijackers of September 11, 2001.

      crime

        The 28 page report on 9/11 you can’t see

      — 8:46 a.m. ET (approx.) – American Airlines Flight 11 (traveling from Boston to Los Angeles) strikes the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The plane is piloted by plot leader Mohamed Atta.
        — 9:03 a.m. ET (approx.) – United Airlines Flight 175 (traveling from Boston to Los Angeles) strikes the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The plane is piloted by hijacker Marwan al Shehhi.
        — 9:37 a.m. ET (approx.) – American Airlines Flight 77 (traveling from Dulles, Virginia, to Los Angeles) strikes the Pentagon Building in Washington. The plane is piloted by hijacker Hani Hanjour.
        — 10:03 a.m. ET (approx.) – United Airlines Flight 93 (traveling from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco) crashes in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The plane is piloted by hijacker Ziad Jarrah.
        Hijackers by Airplane:
        American Airlines Flight 11
        Mohamed Atta – Egypt, tactical leader of 9/11 plot and pilot
        Abdul Aziz al Omari – Saudi Arabia
        Wail al Shehri – Saudi Arabia
        Waleed al Shehri – Saudi Arabia
        Satam al Suqami – Saudi Arabia
        United Airlines Flight 175
        Fayez Banihammad – United Arab Emirates
        Ahmed al Ghamdi – Saudi Arabia
        Hamza al Ghamdi – Saudi Arabia
        Marwan al Shehhi – United Arab Emirates, pilot
        Mohand al Shehri – Saudi Arabia
        American Airlines Flight 77
        Hani Hanjour – Saudi Arabia, pilot
        Nawaf al Hazmi – Saudi Arabia
        Salem al Hazmi – Saudi Arabia
        Khalid al Mihdhar – Saudi Arabia
        Majed Moqed – Saudi Arabia
        United Airlines Flight 93
        Saeed al Ghamdi – Saudi Arabia
        Ahmad al Haznawi – Saudi Arabia
        Ziad Jarrah – Lebanon, pilot
        Ahmed al Nami – Saudi Arabia
        Hijackers by Nationality:
        Egypt
        Mohamed Atta
        Lebanon
        Ziad Jarrah
          Saudi Arabia
          Ahmed al Ghamdi
          Hamza al Ghamdi
          Saeed al Ghamdi
          Hani Hanjour
          Nawaf al Hazmi
          Salem al Hazmi
          Ahmad al Haznawi
          Ahmed al Nami
          Khalid al Mihdhar
          Majed Moqed
          Abdul Aziz al Omari
          Mohand al Shehri
          Wail al Shehri
          Waleed al Shehri
          Satam al Suqami
          United Arab Emirates
          Fayez Banihammad
          Marwan al Shehhi

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          Beto O’Rourke is back in the mix. Will voters give him another look?

          America

          (CNN)Beto O’Rourke is fighting with Pete Buttigieg. He’s angering Democrats in Washington. He’s cussing, and being warned about his language. He’s being called “dummy Beto” by President Donald Trump.

          After five months of struggling to find his place in the crowded Democratic field, a campaign reboot following the early August shooting that left 22 dead in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, has moved O’Rourke into a position where he appears more comfortable than he was in the first five months of the race: An outsider attempting to lead a movement.
          His message, in campaign stops, emails to supporters and social media posts, has shifted in a way that shows his campaign has found an animating cause. His language has changed, with O’Rourke — an at-times profane campaigner in Texas who early in the race promised he’d stop dropping f-bombs — now back to cursing regularly, a decision being heard by supporters as plainly communicating the urgency of the issue and by critics as an attention-grabbing gimmick.
            So has his travel schedule: O’Rourke is setting aside the traditional path through the early voting states in favor of a new emphasis on those that vote on Super Tuesday. He’s campaigning with down-ballot candidates, visiting downtrodden Democratic Party organizations and stopping in cities and towns facing tumult.
            Mayor
            It’s tough to tell whether Democratic voters are giving O’Rourke a fresh look in light of his new approach: A recent CNN poll found him with 5% support, which his backers hoped was a sign O’Rourke was beginning to climb out of the low single digits. But an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll this week showed him with just 1% support. Given the margin of error, it’s possible O’Rourke hasn’t moved much at all.

            Battling with Buttigieg

            O’Rourke has drawn headlines since Democrats’ third primary debate in Houston last week — the one his aides said he prepared for the least, with zero sessions behind a podium and the one day that had been devoted to readying him for the showdown scrapped in favor of a last-minute trip to Midland, Texas, after a shooting there.
            Days before the debate, the Democratic National Committee passed on a warning to campaigns that ABC would be broadcasting the debate with no delay — which meant no chance to bleep out curse words. The warning didn’t name O’Rourke directly, but there was little doubt why it had been issued.
            On stage, O’Rourke delivered one of the night’s most memorable moments when he advocated for mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles, telling a cheering audience: “Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We are not going to allow it to be used against fellow Americans anymore.”
            Republican Party
            The comment led to criticism from Republicans and Democrats — and it gave O’Rourke an opportunity to brawl with the foe his supporters have been angry at since he mocked O’Rourke’s habit of “standing on things” in New Hampshire in early April: Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
            The blowback began the morning after the debate, when Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a Joe Biden supporter, said O’Rourke had given Republicans an opening to characterize Democrats as gun-grabbers, endangering a push for other reforms.
            Coons’ prediction proved accurate on Wednesday, when Trump did just what he’d warned of, tweeting: “Dummy Beto made it much harder to make a deal. Convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away. Will continue forward!”
            The fallout with more potential to affect the 2020 Democratic race, though, came when Buttigieg was asked on CNN on Sunday whether Coons was right that O’Rourke’s push for mandatory buy-backs was playing into the GOP’s hands.
            Mayor
            Republican Party
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            America
            Mayor
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            America
            Mayor
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            America
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            As Buttigieg built establishment support and fundraising might, O’Rourke’s camp has seethed. His aides and backers note Buttigieg’s private flights and point out that O’Rourke often drives himself around the campaign trail (and recently took the Bolt Bus from New York to Boston). They see — and want voters to see — a clash that’s geographical, with Buttigieg representing the industrial Midwest where Democratic support has slipped and O’Rourke from the Sun Belt, a more diverse region where the party is gaining strength.
            Even as O’Rourke supporters relish the fight with Buttigieg, the bigger picture of the race shows the steep hill O’Rourke must climb. Buttigieg a week ago released his first television advertisement in Iowa — a luxury O’Rourke likely cannot afford, since Buttigieg raised $25 million in 2019’s second quarter to O’Rourke’s $3.6 million.
            O’Rourke’s campaign sees evidence this new approach is working. Aides said the three days following the debate were O’Rourke’s best fundraising days since April, the month after he launched his presidential bid.

            A moment of doubt

            While O’Rourke has become a more critical player in the Democratic race in the seven weeks since the El Paso, Texas, shooting, there was a point in the immediate aftermath when he wasn’t sure he would remain a candidate at all.
            The day after a gunman who police say had posted online a racist screed warning of a “Hispanic invasion” killed 22 people in an El Paso Walmart, O’Rourke had a moment he worried might have ended his chances of winning the Democratic presidential nomination.
            He was on his way to his van after a vigil outside Las Americas, an immigration advocacy center in El Paso — already emotional and unable to find his wife, who had been there, too — when he found himself boxed in between two cars and a handful of reporters behind the building. One asked him whether there was anything Trump could do to make things better.
            “Members of the press, what the f—?” O’Rourke said, chastising reporters for failing to draw what he saw as obvious connections between the violence and Trump’s racist rhetoric and policies that target immigrants.
            Everyone there knew they had seen a significant moment. Two O’Rourke aides nervously approached this reporter, asking about what had happened. Soon afterward, on Twitter, O’Rourke’s comment went viral.
            O’Rourke, meanwhile, was on his way to another vigil. He looked at his wife and said, “Look, I f—ed up,” he told The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere in a podcast interview this month.
            In the moment, O’Rourke said, it felt “like maybe this is over.”
            Mayor
            “Nobody spoke in the van. I didn’t speak. I was pissed. I was pissed at myself, I was pissed at the world, I was pissed at that question. I was pissed that we were even having this conversation — like, how in the world could we be asking ourselves these questions as civilized, intelligent human beings, who report the news, make the news, you know, report on the policy, make the policy? Why are we even asking, is Donald Trump racist? Did he have something to do with this? Could he make this better?” O’Rourke said.
            “I think I was mostly mad at myself: Why have I not been able to figure this out? And why have I not been able to make these connections more clear? Why have we not been able to change this?”
            O’Rourke said he didn’t consciously work through what he might do other than run for president. Instead, he said, his thought after the shooting was, “What am I doing, at all?”
            Did he consider dropping out? What had happened in his hometown, he said, “just down in my bones or my essence, made me question myself. And so to some degree, yes.”
            There were also decisions to be made — such as whether O’Rourke would join the rest of the Democratic field and visit the Iowa State Fair, one of the rituals of the presidential campaign trail.
            “I was like, f— no, uh-uh,” he said. “I can’t pretend. I would be pretending.”
            “And to some degree, you’re performing when you’re running for office, right?” O’Rourke said. “You’re never fully, wholly, truly yourself, warts and all. You are on a stage and you’re projecting and you’re acting in a way that you want people to read and form their picture of you. No one can help that. … We’re all actors on that stage, and no one more so than perhaps someone running for president. But I couldn’t go do that.”
            His decision to skip Iowa forced O’Rourke and his aides to have bigger-picture conversations about where he would go and what kind of campaign he would run moving forward.
            At the same time, Trump’s administration had targeted undocumented workers in Mississippi in an immigration raid.
            Republican Party
            “The two seemed very connected to me in a very obvious way — this manner of terrorizing people and trying to terrify the country about immigrants and Hispanics and people who are really the most vulnerable and the most defenseless in America,” O’Rourke said. “And I said, I want to be there. I want to go there. And I want to go anywhere where people are being kept down or made to be afraid.”
            His return to the campaign trailnearly two weeks later started with a speech in El Paso in which O’Rourke for the first time called for mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles, and said he would take a new route — with fewer performative stops in the early states and more visits to vulnerable or forgotten places across the country.
            Since then, he has spent less time in the first four states to vote in the presidential primary process — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — and more in the Super Tuesday states.
            Texas
            Among those Super Tuesday state stops: O’Rourke has campaigned with down-ballot candidates in Virginia. He visited Skid Row in Los Angeles. He delivered a speech that drew a large online audience in front of Democrats in Arkansas. And he visited the Oklahoma City bombing memorial in Oklahoma.
            The changes suggest O’Rourke’s strategy is merely to survive the first month ofprimary season and then begin racking up delegates in March, with Super Tuesday including his home state of Texas. In May, he tapped Jeff Berman, a delegate strategy veteran of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns, as a senior adviser.
              The new approach to his schedule, the gun control advocacy and the more direct — and sometimes foul — language are all part of his reaction to the shooting that he told The Atlantic “just, at a really deep, fundamental level, made me wonder what I’m doing or what I’ve ever been doing or what we are doing.”
              “And all of the, you know, performance, the ritual, and the — you know, I don’t know, all the editing, that goes into speaking when you’re running for office,” he said, “just really evaporated or didn’t seem as important, or I didn’t even really know that I cared at that point.”

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              How Would You Like $2 Million to Steal Elvis’ Coffin?

              Wednesday, August 24, 1977

              Thing was, none of them had given much of a fuck about Elvis while he was alive.

              When you got right down to it, all Dead Elvis meant by the last week of summer was a congested Memphis, what with all the out-of-towners and news vans bunched together at the gates of Graceland to pay their respects and leave behind bouquets and teddy bears.Shit was everywhere, just take a look on the TV.

              What they were always sayingfifty thousand Elvis fans cant be wrong?News claimed over thirty thousand of those fans showed up, just to wait in line, see his body laid out at the Memphis Funeral Home. Rumor was that a few of the Beatles had even flown in all the way from England. Burt Reynolds and Ann-Margret, too. President Carter had to call in the National Guard, for Chrissakes.

              Raymond Bubba Green wondered who was supposed to clean up all that shit. Taxpayer money, or cons handed Graceland details as Community Service.

              To Bubba, there was only one thing that Dead Elvis meant: money.

              The way the man from Cincinnati told it, it sounded like the King of Rock and Roll was worth more dead than aliveor at the very least, his body seemed to pay by the pound.

              Bubba Green, who at 25 had been expelled or suspended from every school hed ever attended throughout Tennessee, had grown accustomed to a life in and out of county lock-up, usually for selling drugs or for using them. By August 1977, he had grown more than accustomed to living for heroin, the same drug that had killed his Rhonda less than a year ago.

              Theyd met right after Bubbas stint in Angola, that Louisiana state penitentiary named for the plantation and cotton fields that once occupied the land. Never married but thick as the thieves they were long enough for the State of Tennessee to label them as common-law. It had been Rhonda turned Bubba on to the harder drugsthe chippingBubba first figuring if she was going to be doing it, better she be supervised than unsupervised.

              While Bubba was finishing up another jail stint, Rhonda took off for Dallas.When he was sprung, Bubba got word shed been raped and killed in a roadside motel room, left to be found the next morning by housekeeping.

              We was not as good for each other as we should have been, Bubba told people later, but regardless, you know, I loved her.

              Back on the street by August of77, Bubba hadnt much time for grieving. Let the world mourn Elvis, let him mourn Rhonda when he could. He had bonds to make, and Rhonda had taken what little money was left when she split for Dallas.

              Bubba was thinking about just thatthe girl, the money, the debtwhen Blue Barron called him up Wednesday afternoon.

              Bubba, you looking to make some money? Blue was a local bondsman Bubba had come to know all too well. He knew Bubba was looking to make some money, knew he was always looking.

              Good, said Blue. Meet me at the Luau.

              Like everyone in Memphis, Bubba Green knew the gaudy, Polynesian-themed exterior of the Dobbs House Luau on Poplar Avenue. Its sugary, fake island food was cheap and popular with the local college kids and the students from East High School across the street. He parked his motorcycle and, once inside, let his eyes adjust to the dim lighting of the large dining area.

              Tiki torches flickered around the tourists lined up at the buffet. Mounted wood carvings shaped into sinister grins and framed stills of Elvis in Blue Hawaii were mounted along the walls. Blue Barron was seated at a family-sized wooden table under hanging plants and bamboo tufts. He was sitting next to another man. This one Bubba didnt recognize. White, looked big, husky, although he was sitting. Both men had their hands folded on the table top. They watched Bubba walk in and waited while he pulled his trucker cap low and sat down across from both. Neither spoke until Bubba was settled.

              Are you interested in making a million dollars?It was the big one beside Blue, the stranger. He said it more than he asked it.

              Bubba didnt know if hed heard that number right, looked at Blue, who just nodded.

              I am mostly certainly interested in making a million dollars, Bubba said.

              There was a pause before the large man leaned in.Well, what would you do for two million dollars?

              Bubba could hear it now in his speechhe was definitely a Yankee. Well, sir, Bubba said, my mama aint safe for two million dollars.

              The man said he was from Cincinnati. Just about all he said, so Bubba thought of him as just thatMr. Cincinnati.

              Bubba Green followed Mr. Cincinnati down Union Avenue to the Holiday Inn, the one in walking distance to Beale. There, he parked his bike on the side, saw the man lumber up the metal staircase leading up to the second story of the two-story hotel, then unlocking the door to one room and standing outside the threshold for Bubba to see him. Got any weapons on you? Mr. Cincinnati asked, raising Bubbas arms up in a frisk just inside the door.

              Yessir, a knife, Bubba said, making eye contact and slowly handing over a butterfly knife from his right back pocket.

              Wait here, the man said, pointing for Bubba to take a seat on the edge of the sparse rooms twin-side bed. Bubba folded his hands on his lap and studied the green carpet and the ugly gold geometric shapes in the design, the white Venetian blinds, the writing table: an ashtray loaded with Mr. Cincinnatis cigarette butts and a small Holiday Inn stationery pad and matching pen.Crumpled balls of the stationery littered the desk.

              He listened to the sounds of Mr. Cincinnati in the bathroom, not sure what was going on inside but hearing movement like the shower curtain being slid, followed by some exhausted grunting. The man emerged, each hand clutching an identical brown suitcase.He tossed both onto the bed behind Bubbas back. Look here, he said, flipping a case open.

              Bubba had already decided the money had to be counterfeit.All that cash in one place? Had to be fake.

              Bubba stood beside him, on his toes to crane over the larger mans shoulder.He stepped aside for Bubba to see: maps and large, full-color photographs, mostly aerial views of Shelby County. It was easy for him to make out the shape of Memphis, the grid of its arteries punctuated by the muted tint of bayous and the blue wall of the Mississippi River to the west. There were more papers stacked underneath, and Bubba caught on to the bold type at the bottom of one enlarged, color map. Forest Hill Cemetery. The name was familiar, Bubba remembered it from the news.

              Mr. Cincinnati pulled out tighter diagrams of the cemetery property, these with hand-drawn lines linking A and B points. White tape lines met at a specific mausoleum in the center.

              The man began to sift through the other contents, handing Bubba papers in bunches, explaining as he went along. There were copies of receipts for a casket weighing 948 pounds; a nine-pound brass lock made special in Oklahoma City; the dimensions of a large, plexiglass bubble. Take a look through these, he said. Bubba leafed through the stack and the man bent to open the other case. Look here, he said and lifted the lid.

              Bubbas eyes nearly teared up.He was looking down at stacks of paper-belted hundred-dollar bills, each belt marked with 1,000 in black, felt-tip pen.

              Before Mr. Cincinnati uttered another word, Bubba had already decided the money had to be counterfeit.All that cash in one place? Had to be fake. If not, this meeting was some kind of sting, Blue setting him up for another skip of his, needing an easy fall-guy. Who did he know, or who had he borrowed from who could rope him into some RICO thing?

              Bubba had served enough time, he decided hed never be anyones fall-guy.

              But he also considered the bills looked real enough to pass along on the street.Rent, smack, bonds, and a ticket out of Memphis.

              He felt Mr. Cincinnatis eyes on him, watching him look down at the money. If all that money is real, Bubba now thought, this Yankee is carrying it around, he ought to be more afraid of more than just my little old knife.

              Im going to ask for 10 million dollars in ransom for the body, the man said.He was cool, calm, and collectedeven the way he said the words like ransom and the body, like they was everyday words in a normal, everyday sentence.

              Right in that there briefcase was a million dollars in belted bills, Mr. Cincinnati explained. It, along with another briefcase just like it, he went on, was all Bubbasbut only if he could execute a single task: smuggle the body of Elvis Aaron Presley out of its final resting placethe little cemetery just off Elvis Presley Boulevard.

              Forest Hills Cemetery, Lot #796A; about four and a half miles from Graceland.

              The mausoleum constructed for Elvis Presley was a massive building, more than double the size of the single-family shack in Tupelo, Mississippi, that had been his childhood home. This was a monumentairy rooms housing six vaults, a palace of many chambers. Elvis was the one directly to the left, Corridor Z: 9 feet long and 27 inches high. All white, columns and tile. You walked in, all you heard was your own footsteps and breathing, the echoes of eternity billowing throughout a maze of granite and marble.

              On August 18, the burial started with a long procession down the street bearing Elvis namea white hearse leading 17 white limousines, all booked at a moments notice by Elvis daddy, Vernon Presley himself. Police had to carry away screaming fans attempting to charge his sons hearse on foot. The copper coffin, weighing nearly a thousand pounds, was carried by the six people who were the closest the performer had to friends: road manager Joe Esposito, members of Elvis entourage, the self-proclaimed Memphis Mafia, and Dr. George NichopoulousDr. NickElvis longtime personal physician, known to get the King anything required for nearly twenty years of maladies: road fatigue, dehydration, high blood-pressure, and the twisted colon that brought on the fatal heart attack.

              Before the crypts gates were locked, a cylinder with Elvis' name, birth, and death dates was placed in the casket, ensuring easy identification during the Rapture.

              A small service was held at the mausoleum for a select group of family and professional VIPs, those who had known Elvis Aaron Presley in real life. They, too, were enough in number to line up for hours. Vernon was the last out, kissing the coffin and promising his famous son that Daddy would be with him soon.

              Vernon saw to it that Elvis was buried wearing a white suit and a blue shirt, and had personally brought his sons beloved TCB ring into the mausoleum to slide on his finger. Between the booking of the limos, the custom casket, and the all-important emblematic ring, Vernon had demonstrated that his son wasnt the only Presley who could take care of business in a flash. Nine-year-old Lisa Marie helped her grandfather place a metal bracelet on her fathers lifeless wrist. Lastly, before the crypts gates were locked, a cylinder with Elvis' name, birth, and death dates was placed in the casket, ensuring easy identification during the Rapture. Elvis hated waiting in lines.

              The crowd long gone, five workmen then cut through the three-thousand floral bouquets strewn among the lawn and entered Elviss tomb. They went in pushing a wheelbarrow full of sand and carrying a five-gallon bucket of water and cement, churning into a double slab of concrete to seal the crypt.They then covered it all over with a large marble sheet, Elvis name and lifespan to be chiseled later.

              Like every other newscaster in Memphis, Russell Ruffin covered the death of Elvis Aaron Presley, just as he had covered every related update to come out of Graceland since word of the death first broke. That day, Russ and his crew had been two hundred miles outside Memphis, covering a routine legislative meeting that dispersed as soon as a civic employee entered the boardroom to announce Elvis had just been pronounced dead over at Memphis Baptist. Russ led the caravan back to WMC-TV Memphis Midtown studios on Union Avenue.

              After moving down from Nashville in late 1975, the 36-year-old Ruffin learned quickly that working for the NBC Memphis station would mean covering just about anything having to do with the citys favorite son. Not that he was complaining; Russ had grown up an Elvis fan himself, seeing Jailhouse Rock in theaters as a kid and painting sideburns on the sides of his face, strutting them around school before puberty allowed the real thing to grow in.

              Around the newsroom, Russ was privy to all the Presley gossip that long predated the death. It had been rampant throughout Memphis pretty much Elvis entire career, as hed bought Graceland only a year after signing with RCA in 1957. Superstardom in a year, and with it, one of those heavenly mansions Jesus mentioned.

              Russ was quickly told the one about Elvis presumably breaking up a real bar fight right here in town, telling a shocked drunkard, Why dont you pick on someone your own size? just like in one of his own movies. He then followed up on sightings of the King flying over Graceland in a private plane, surveying his kingdom below and amused at the sight of the crowd, unaware he was watching from above. Russ had looked into rumors Elvis had nearly been arrested for driving a go-kart down Elvis Presley Boulevard, saved only from the indignation of handcuffs by flashing the badge given to him by Richard Nixon.Elvis always had it on him.

              And then there were all the Cadillacs. Russ covered each of those, too.

              Russ had arrived in Memphis just in time to cover the third of Elvis widely-publicized stays in Memphis Baptist Hospital, always under the banner of road fatigue or exhaustion. The truth about the prescription drug addiction would only come out later during Dr. Nicks trialthe scandalous affair finding Nick forever branded a pharmaceutical rubber-stamp for high profile patients like the late Presley and his darker contemporary, Jerry Lee Lewis.

              It was during that stay in Memphis Baptist that the King got the bug to bestow his riches upon select members of an adoring public. See, if Elvis saw you on TV and didnt like you, hed pull out the small revolver always in his right boot and blast a hole right through the screen projecting your moving image. But if he saw you and he liked you, liked your face, then Elvis would pick up the gold phonethe one next to the couchand dial a few numbers, have a new car sent to your house. That July, hed bought a total of 13 Cadillacs from the local Madison dealership, then sent them out to random worthy citizens throughout Memphis. With love, Elvis Presley.

              Or so Russ had heard. He was still working as a general correspondent for the network, hadnt made weekend anchor just yet, the day Elvis called up the station room and asked for him by name.

              Russ snatched the phone from his station managers hand, immediately recalling the one about Elvis buying some lucky Denver news anchor a brand new Eldoradohis reward for airing a human interest piece on him, making the performer sound more like Mother Teresa.

              Mr. Ruffin, an unfamiliar voice spoke back to him. Joe Esposito here. Mr. Presley is next to me and he really enjoyed that piece you did You did a great job demonstrating his generosity

              Presley had handed the receiver to his loyal road manager before Russ could get on the line. Insult to injury: the Cadillac wasnt for any WMC-TV anchor.No, Elvis wanted the address for a girl Russ had interviewed earlier that day, one going through hard enough times she deserved a new Eldorado.

              You wouldnt happen to have her address, now would you, Mr. Ruffin? Elvis sure would appreciate it.

              Might as well get a story out of it. Russ had grabbed a mic and a cameraman, rushed to Memphis Baptist anyway. They got as far as Elvis private door, eye-to-eye with an off-duty cop and Esposito himself. He haggled for a few minutes of taping, promising a piece for that evenings broadcast: something about the outpouring of flowers, cards and, yes, teddy bears, all Elvis fans had been sending.

              Good enough for Esposito, but Elvis was a little too tired at the moment to talk to the camera. Russ ended up reporting from beside the door, while over his shoulder, Elvis bare feet dangled off the edge of the bed, out-of-focus.

              That was a year ago. By August 1977, Russ had earned a second title as weekend anchor and was a recognizable face around Memphis. Recognizable enough for an FBI informant to obtain his home phone number, letting him know someone was planning to steal Elvis Presleys corpse later that week.

              Thursday, August 25, 1977

              Two days wasnt all that much time for Bubba to plan for such a large-scale body-snatch, but it looked like Mr. Cincinnati had done his homework, making it all that much easier. He had a few names to get the ball rolling and would use his own promised payment for deferred expensesincluding the team he would need. Giving it some thought, he had the makings of a skeleton crew before the day was out.

              He knew a safe-cracker, one who owned a set of cutting torches that could get through the mausoleums iron railing. If memory served, Mike also had his own acetylene torches and oxygen tanks, like those scuba divers go out in the islands. Over the phone, he had tipped Bubba to an appliance store downtown, said they didnt keep such a close watch on their loading docks early in the day.He could hotwire one of the appliance truckswould be ideal, pick up whatever the hell it was Bubba needed help lifting.

              He promised Mike 75 grand but considered upping it to as much as an even hundred if all worked out and Bubba was feeling generous. He considered the fact they still needed two additional sets of hands to get the casket from the crypt and into the truck box. Two more workers meant further dipping into Mr. Cincinnatis briefcase. But Bubba had seen on the news that it took four pallbearers to carry Elvis casket; scaling back to only four was pushing it, he knew, but no way around it. Hed have to pay off three.

              There was another old boy from the neighborhood, always needed cash for junk. Bruce Nelson was five years older than Bubba. They had scored together, for a while during the Rhonda years. They hadnt spoken since Bubba had come back to Memphis, but he called him up, offered him 40 grand right over the phone. Maybe 60, same conditions as Mike.

              Counting it out in his head, Bubba told himself he wasnt necessarily being greedy. If he was in line to score two million for putting everything together, no reason he was expected to give it all away. He considered the outstanding bonds, the ones Blue Barron knew this type of one-time score would cover, and then some.

              After that, Bubba thought, he would contact a few smugglers he knew from Angola. Theyd be heading to the Caribbean once they got out, he remembered, and remembered the offer was open to sail along.Get him far away from Memphis and its ghosts.

              For that, Bubba needed every cent he could squeeze.

              Bubba ended his Thursday night with a beer, knowing he had a well-equipped box man in place, and some needed extra muscle. All he needed now was a wheelman, the getaway driver to high-tail them out of the cemetery, allowing Mike to casually join the other truckers on the freeway, their thousand-pound cargo secure in the box.

              Bruce suggested Bubba contact Ronnie Lee Adkins. Bubba recognized the name from high school. They had never been friends, Ronnie was a year behind.

              Bruce vouched for him, handed his home number to Bubba.

              Friday, August 26, 1977

              Want to tell me where were going?

              Ronnie Lee Adkins, behind the wheel of his beige Chrysler, Bruce Nelson in the passenger seat. Bubba Green sat alone in the back, watching the storefronts and street signs along Elvis Presley Boulevard through the window on his left.Ronnie looked up at the rear-view mirror, waiting for a response.

              Just drive and Ill tell you where to go, Bubba said, not looking up when he said it.

              Ronnie Lee Adkins had been the first to show up at the chosen meeting pointthe parking lot of a laundromat on Unionhis Chrysler idling as Bubba and Bruce pulled up along either side on their bikes. The men got in silently, Bruce finally saying, Howre you, brother, once the doors were shut.From the backseat, Bubba studied the back of Ronnie Lee Adkins head, watched his hands stay gripped on the wheel even while parked. He thought this was a good sign, a solid first impression. He didnt mention the fact that he recognized Ronnie from school.

              'Bubba, I gotta ask you. We been circling Elvis Presleys cemetery for any particular reason?'

              Bubba determined not to reveal to Bruce or Ronnie exactly where they were going just yet. Both had agreed to the job based on the money, tonights mystery tour being part of the deal. He was playing close to the chest, and thats exactly why his plancobbled together in less than 48 hourswas going to work out just fine. He was playing it smart for once. Hell, hed only needed Mr. Cincinnatis map of the cemetery interior and the casket schematics. Other than that, Bubba knew the streets of Memphis good as anyone else.

              So far, it looked like Ronnie Lee Adkins did tooand he took directions just fine. Bubba told him to turn onto the expressway, then sat back and folded his hands in his lap. He watched the Memphis streets pass by, all lit up, as quiet as the city gets, then went over the steps again in his head.

              Mike would be sitting tight in the appliance truck on Route 69Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Expresswaywaiting in the shadow of the Kerr Avenue underpass just west of the cemeterys rear entrance. His industrial cutters and locksmith gear were stashed in the trucks cargo box, along with a mobile generator just in case the trucks battery couldnt supply enough juice to drill through the concrete.

              As soon as Mike saw the Chrysler, he would park at Forest Hills west entrance, while the other three went around to Elvis Presley Boulevard on the east side. Theyd hop the fence on either side of the property, then Mike would use his flashlight to help them all meet in the middle. According to the map, Elvis crypt was in the center.

              Only Mike was told the last part of Bubbas 48-hour plan. First thing tomorrow morning, hed call the man from Cincinnati through Blue Barron, have him meet in the parking lot of Poplar Plaza Shopping Center just after dawn.

              Mr. Cincinnati, Bubba told Mike, would be bringing those briefcasesboth of them.

              Ronnie took the car onto Elvis Presley Boulevard. Again he looked up into the rear-view mirror. Where from here? he asked.

              Eyes still out the window, Bubba mumbled to keep circling around Kerr Avenue and Hernando Road, keep a lookout for the appliance truck.

              Half a dozen passes already the last half-hour. No Mike. No truck. More circles. An hour passed. Bubba tugged on the brim of his trucker cap. Where the fuck was he?

              You got a way to call your boy, check in on him? Ronnie asked.

              Naw, Bubba said, giving a quick glance away from the passing streets.He dont get that truck, we just try again tomorrow.

              Ronnie looked over at Bruce for a response, got nothing. He turned south on Hernando, all three men in the car glancing to their right, checking for a big, white truck one more time. Again nothing, just the darkness of the overpass shadow.

              Bubba, I gotta ask you, Ronnie said, one arm over the other on the wheel as he made the turn passed Forest Hills iron gates. We been circling Elvis Presleys cemetery for any particular reason?

              Before hed been handed a seemingly never-ending stream of Elvis Presley assignments, Russ Ruffins usual stories included community affairs and local politics. Both areas went hand-in-hand with the Memphis crime beat, ensuring not only the guards at Graceland knew Russ face on-sight, but so did the cops and bailiffs at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center, local District Court, and the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

              Hed always dealt well with law enforcement. Back in Nashville, Russ had covered the local polices acquisition of their first Kevlar vests. The broadcast got him an invitation to the Press Clubs Gridiron show, an annual event for statewide news VIPs, all gathered together in a grand ballroom to rib each other, safely out of the public eye. Taking the stage, Russ demonstrated the bulletproof vest using a starters pistol.

              Word spread about Russ Press Club appearance, and he got coerced by a network cameraman to recreate the stunt out in the studio parking lot. The cameraman was itching to test out the stations new video camera unit and already had a gun in the trunk of his car. They loaded a blank, but the velocity of the blastall the finite debris hidden in the fresh Nashville air, instantly ignited and shot at the speed of soundsent Russ reeling, slamming him against a brick wall.

              The clip found its way onto one of Dick Clarks blooper specials. So far, that was the extent of Russ national exposure.

              He moved to Memphis the following year, having taken enough bullets for one team. That November, he dodged a larger one. A few buddies linked through his NBC affiliate invited him to French Guyana, where they were covering California Congressman Leo Ryans visit to the Peoples Temple Agricultural ProjectJonestown.

              'Hey man, dont use my picture. Im undercover.'

              Russ knew it was a big story and packed his bags. He made it to the airport but missed his flight. None of his buddies returned.

              After that, covering news out of Graceland didnt seem so bad, or covering the Memphis crime beat. It was never boring, and there were benefits to all the sheriffs knowing who he was, he could be trusted. Russ ended up with a lot of tips that way, all the cops and robbers both recognizing his face.

              Like the first week of August, when Russ and a cameraman were on a routine assignment outside Shelby County Court.

              He had his shirt-sleeves rolled up, the mic in his hand, watching the fresh arrests being escorted out of the courthouse. After all these months, Russ had started recognizing some of the faces. One in particular looked familiara white twentysomething male, sporting a days-old scruff and a dirty pair of jeans and tee shirt. Looked like a drop-out, his long hair falling down his face.

              The kid stopped right in front of Russ, leaned in close to his ear. Hey man, he whispered. Dont use my picture. He nodded to the cameraman. Im undercover.

              He hadnt seen him since, but Russ never forgot a face. Or a voice.

              The last Friday of August, Russ was home with his wife. Penny had dinner ready just as soon as he had walked in, and they were already clearing the plates when the kitchen phone rang. He wasnt expected back at the station until early the next afternoon and was looking forward to a quiet night at home.

              Is this Mr. Ruffin from the TV news?The mans voice was familiar, but Russ couldnt place it. I had to get your number from the station, the man said. I told them I had an Elvis story for you.

              Another Elvis tipit never seemed to end.

              Well, sure, Russ said, looking over at Penny drying the dishes alone. How may I help you, sir?

              There was a pause on the line before the caller spoke again. Well, you helped me out a few weeks back and I thought Id help you out now, tooyou know, with a story.

              Russ craned over to the countertop and reached for a pen and small pad, the phone cord twisting around his body. And how is that? I helped you out?

              You were at Shelby Court a few weeks back, the man said. I asked you not to use my picture. I was undercover, working with Memphis PD

              There it was, the drop-out with the hair. Of course.

              Well, the man continued, my name is Ronnie Lee Adkins. You were good to me, and I want to give you a scoop on somethingsomething going down at Forest Hills Cemetery tomorrow night.

              Saturday, August 27, 1977

              If this Adkins fellow was telling the truth, Russ considered, that gang of misfits better be strongand be bringing plenty of gear for the heavy lifting.

              He had said as much to Penny, placing the phone back in the cradle and reading her his notes from the strange phone call. For the past two weeks, Russ had covered the death of Elvis Presley from every possible angle, including the interment at Forest Hill. He knew intimately the near-impossibility of anyone getting through those gates, let alone driving off with a casket of that weight.

              He turned to Penny. These fellas would need a crane to pull this off.

              Russ also knew from contacts within the Memphis PD that Shelby County deputies were working in rotation, guarding the mausoleum itself.

              He hadnt enough time to wait for Saturdays shift. Right after the call with Ronnie Lee Adkins, Russ dialed his closest squad contact, Captain Tommy Smith. Listen, Tommy, I just want to make sure that you guys are aware of this, Russ had said.Before I run with this, I need to make sure Im not holding any information that could get one of your boys hurt. He repeated everything hed been told by Ronnie Lee Adkins. When he was through, Smiths answer surprised him enough that Penny froze cross the room just seeing his own reaction.

              Yep, the grave robbery? Captain Smith had said. We know all about it.

              Russ called ahead to his station manager at WMC-TV Memphis studios and requested a crew for a live feed later that night.

              While working in Nashville, it was routine to chase down hot leads with the use of 16mm film; as an anchor here in Memphis, Russ now benefited from access to the NBC affiliates more modern equipment, namely its expensive live van.Still, hed have had to call dibs on it, since there was only the one for the entire network.

              By the time he punched into his Saturday shift, Russ been on the phone with Memphis PD all day, pumping the officers for updates and keeping his name associated with the exclusivity of the story. The latter had proved easier than expected: You know, since I brought this to you guys, I was hoping we would be allowed to get up close, watch the arrest

              The cops had agreed, but by Saturday afternoon, even they werent sure of the break-ins possible time. Theyd heard from their informant, but there had been no word on the time.

              Not knowing didnt endear the story any further to Russ station heads, none of whom wanted their only mobile unit wandering the streets of Memphis with no guarantee of a scoop.

              Russ made a deal with the manager: the stations best cameraman, Bernie, drove a white Crown Vicone that could pass for an unmarked squad vehicle.Russ grabbed him on his way out the door at 9 p.m. Hed ride to Forest Hill Cemetery with Bernie, and the mobile van would follow behind.

              'Bubba! Dont move, man! Somethings wrongwe aint alone!'

              Russ looked at his watch. He had the live crew for an hour and a half. After that, any grave robberies would have to be taped and edited for a later airing.

              Climbing into the passenger seat of Bernies Crown Vic, Russ tuned the newsrooms communal police scanner to the familiar Memphis PD frequency, prepared to sit back and listen intently for signs of life.

              He told Bernie to head towards Elvis Presley Boulevard.

              Bubba Green had no choice but to consider the previous nights attempt as a dry run; no reason to tell the others it was a bust.At least now all three knew the lay-out: the streets and the checkpoints.

              It was nearly midnight when, again in the backseat of Ronnie Lee Adkins Chrysler, Bubba finally spotted the appliance truck in the shadow of Route 69.

              Bubba had felt furious all day. Seeing Mike in place at the underpass, the anger finally began to subside. He hadnt been able to get him on the phone until late last night, Mike apologizing, going on and on that the appliance store employees had still been working the loading dock late into the night. He couldnt have lifted any of the trucks until today, he insisted, but tonight should be fine. Sorry, brother

              He had Mike recite the plan back to him over the phone, then quizzed him on the smaller details. Satisfied, Bubba hung up and called the other two, letting them know tonight was a go.

              Ronnie careened off of Hernando Road south towards Forest Hill. Bubba turned his head and watched the headlights on the appliance truck flash on and off, as Mike took off the opposite direction, north on Person Avenue.

              Theyd worked it out so Mike would bust his way into the cemetery through the back. Hed find Elvis massive mausoleum first, then signal the others with his military high beam. The assortment of cutting tools would be more than enough to bust the iron gate and all that marblebut theyd still have to cut their way through the fence to haul the casket itself out and into the truck.

              There would be no way to cut through that undetected while they were inside doing their business, as any passing car would see the truck waiting by the west entrance. Bubba figured theyd have to bust it last on the way out.

              Ten minutes to midnight. Bubba leaned forward, pointed to the coming turn street. Pull up right here like last night, he said to Ronnie, then to both Ronnie and Bruce, Wait hereIll hop in first, make sure Mikes in place.

              Bubba pulled his cap low on his head as he exited to the roadside. He looked around, then hopped the cemetery fence.

              Russ knew he was losing his chance at a live feed after the first half-hour had passed. It was too quiet, parked there in Bernies car outside the Forest Hill gates, even with the staccato bursts of muffled directives shooting from the scanner. With the car radio off so they could listen to the police communications, it was the first time Russ hadnt heard so much as a second of Elvis music in the past two hours.

              Russ, did you hear that last part?Bernie reached over and turned up the scanners volume nob.

              What did I miss, Bernie?

              A Chrysler was just pulled over near the cemetery I think I heard an officer on the two-way ask his dispatcher if an undercover was in the car.

              Russ bolted upright.What did he say?

              Very possibly.

              It had to be them. Russ rolled down the window of the Crown Victoria and saw Hernando Avenue coming up ahead. Were going to lose the van any minute now, he said, his voice against the wind. Lets head towards the cemetery and keep an eye.

              Bernie was back on Elvis Presley Boulevard in five minutes. He turned off the ignition.

              It was nearly 10:30 p.m. Bernie, Russ said, lets keep that scanner cranked until they call back the van.

              Bubba hit the ground running.

              Hed instructed Ronnie to turn the car off, not let it idle. Best be safely inside the cemetery and set up with Mike at the crypt before hollering for the others.Scaling the cemeterys gate was easy enough, Bubba landing on his hands and one knee bent. The felt the grass cool under his hands and through the rips in his jeans. He looked up into the darkness and the sea of headstones. His eyes adjusted, and the stones slowly glowed a dull, pale gray against the black of the grass and the towering oaks and maples over a century old. Mikes flashlight would be simple to spot through the 200-acre abyss.

              According to Mr. Cincinnatis aerial schematics, Elvis mausoleum should be west from his entrance over the fence. Staying low to the ground, Bubba looked around, inching his way towards the cemeterys center.

              He froze in place. Was that movement up ahead? Bubba didnt see the beams of a flashlight, nothing but the dark swaying of the trees against the lighter darkness of the sky. But he could swear something had moved among the darkened shapes up ahead.

              Finally, a lighta flashlight.

              Mike setting up camp at the wrong fucking grave

              He watched then as the small white beam vanishedthen appeared again, off to the left. He froze again. It was unmistakablenow there were two flashlights.

              Either Mike wasnt alone, or it wasnt Mike at all.

              There was no more time for silence: Bubba turned around on the spot, burning his knees against the ground as he scurried back towards the fence a hundred yards away.

              Bubba!

              He looked up, seeing the outline of Ronnie and Bruce in front of the gates railings and against the lights of the street behind. Theyd climbed their way inside, were both whooping and hollering, their hands in the air, making a scene.

              Bubba! Ronnie called out again, his hands cupped to his mouth. Dont move, man! Somethings wrongwe aint alone!

              Bubba climbed to his feet and ran towards the fence, noise and chaos be damned. Run, boys! he yelled, following behind as all three hopped back onto the street and made for the Chrysler. Ronnie ran around and took his place behind the wheel, gunning the engine before all the doors had slammed shut.

              Just go, man, Bubba barked.Go straight and just keep on goin!

              Ronnie took a right onto Person Avenue instead, lightning fast.

              What you doin, man? Bubba cried.I said straight!

              Didnt matter now. The beige Chrysler pulled onto Person, stopping short just as the inevitable came into the view for all three men: a barricade of at least half a dozen black and whites, all flashing their red and blue lights and cutting off any chance of passing through.

              With them was an NBC news team.

              For the better part of the last two hours, Russ had sat in the passenger seat of Bernies car, fidgeting with the wire of his mic, twirling it around his fingers like the tail of an animal. Every few minutes, Bernie double- and triple-checked the video camera on his lap.

              As expected, the station had called back the mobile van. That was almost an hour and half ago. As they watched it drive off back to the network studios on Union, Russ and Bernie made themselves comfortable, both fearing a long stakeout.

              Finally, five minutes after midnight, the fuzzy voice of a police two-way: Its going down.

              Lets move! Russ said, unspooling the microphone wire between his fingers.Bernie revved the engine and sped to Elvis Presley Boulevard.

              What with the lights and the shouting, Bubba couldnt tell just how many squad cars were actually settled in the trap, cutting off their escape. They all swarmed, taking each side of the Chrysler, pulling the boys out at once. All Bubba felt were the fists raining down.

              Everything seeming to move in slow-motion, but those Miranda Rights being spouted, those were in real-time. As the officer spread Bubbas legs and laid his hands on top of the cars hood, he watched Ronnie being taken to one car and Bruce manhandled into another.

              Bubba felt himself cuffed and thrown into the backseat beside Bruce. Through the window, Bubba watched Ronnie slink down in the backseat of the other vehicle.

              Some reportera tall, blond fellow Bubba recognized from the weekend newswas aiming his microphone into Ronnies window, trying to get him to speak while some police were shouting at him to back off, step away from the vehicle. A cameraman was with him, the weight of a huge video unit pulling his shoulder slightly down. The two men looked tied together by electrical wires.

              Bubba let out a defeated breath.There would be no money now, he knew.

              There would be no Caribbean trip or paid-off bonds and loans. Matter of fact, now thered probably be a bunch more.

              Fuck.Hed never get out of Memphis.

              More reporters outside the window now, plus the cops and curious nobodies snooping arounda sea of snarls and grotesques. Bubba sucked wind back through his throbbing lungs slowly, each breath a little labored and deliberate.

              While he focused on his breathing, Bubba wondered if Mike had gotten out of the cemetery all right, hoped he had hightailed it in the appliance truck and was already miles away. He hoped Mike would make it to Texas, where Mike claimed he had family and friends waiting for him with open arms.

              'I aint no cop.' Ronnie said it low, his muscles tightened against the blade.

              During the ride to Shelby County lockup, Bubba also wondered something else. Something like an itch that had been itching since Ronnie had taken it upon himself to break the silence of the night, yelling through that cemetery fence.

              Bubba wondered why Ronnie was taken to a different car.

              Then he wondered how Ronnie had somehow landed them directly into a barricade of waiting police cars.

              POLICE CLAIM FOILING ELVIS BODYSNATCHERS!

              MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)Police on a stakeout at Forest Hill Cemetery captured four men after a chase Monday, foiling what authorities said was a plot to steal Elvis Presleys body and hold it for ransom.

              But one of the men was freed for lack of evidence, the other three were charged with trespassing, and a police official said the plot might be hard to prove.

              In a statement, Memphis police said information was received several days ago that a group of people was going to enter the cemetery, break into Presleys mausoleum, steal the body and try to ransom it.

              Acting on the tip, police kept the mausoleum under watch.

              On Saturday night, the statement said, suspects were seen near the cemetery but did not attempt to enter Forest Hill.Police were later informed, they said, that this had been a trial run.

              The stakeout continued Sunday night, and early Monday morning, four suspects were arrested near the cemetery after having entered over the back wall, bypassing security guards, approached the mausoleum and shook the door when they were apparently frightened off.

              Police Director E. Winslow Chapman said three of the men were arrested after a brief chase. The fourth was arrested at the emergency room in Baptist Hospital, where Presley was taken after he died on Aug. 16. Chapman said the fourth man apparently had sprained an ankle running from the cemetery.

              Chapman said the police believe the men intended to use conventional burglary tools to break into the mausoleum, but he said no tools were recovered, although police searched the cemetery grounds and the route of the chase. The case against them would be weak without the tools for evidence, Chapman said.

              Tuesday, August 30, 1977

              Locked up again, facing felony charges of attempted grave robbery, body snatching, and trespassing.

              A public defender had told Bubba in no certain terms: If it all stuck, grave-robbing would get him 99 years, but dont worrythe botched attempt would only get him 33.

              Bubba thought: in the grand scheme of things, what the fuck was the difference?

              The public defender went on, You could go up there and shoot an kill a guy, rather than let him testify against you, put your gun down, call the po-leece, tell 'em you just shot and killed 'em, come get 'ya, and youll get 30 years Or you can let him get on that witness stand, testify against you, and you get 33 yearsif they convict 'ya.

              Bubba had made the error of asking what had happened to dear old Ronnie Lee Adkins. Lawyer told him, also in no uncertain terms: Leave that Adkins fella alone.

              But that wasnt what Bubba heard. The way he saw it, the lawyer just confirmed Ronnie was worth more dead than alive.

              Bruce knew where Ronnie lived, had his address written down. Having used what little money he had left to post bailBlue Barron always won in the endBubba went round to Bruce, told him the new plan, to be implemented immediately.

              Were gonna put the fear of God into Ronnie, hed told Bruce. Let him think his life is on the line, he gets up on that stand and throws us all under a bus.

              They rode over in Bruces car, playing it cool and getting Ronnie into the front seat of the car, in the passengers seat for once. Bubba got in back and instructed Bruce to drive them down Poplar Avenue all the way downtown.He told him not to stop until he could see the marshes and the Mississippi River out in front.

              Parked, Ronnie felt cold steel come whip around under his chin.

              You messed up real good, Bubba hissed, pressing the tip of his butterfly knife tight against Ronnies Adams apple. He ran it slow along the scratchy grain of Ronnies stubble. Real good, informing on the wrong people this time. Didnt you? he said.

              Behind the wheel, Bruce kept a lookout for tourists. They came down here sometime to get a nice view of Mud Island. Ronnie kept his mouth tight, let Bubba keep talking. See, youre worth way more to me now dead than alive, Bubba said. Lawyer told me so. And I listen to the law, now on.

              Bruce cracked the window. Near silence where they were, the wind through the marshes and the soft lapping of the shore nearby.

              We got friends, Bubba said, his grip on the knife and its place at Ronnies jugular frozen still. And they got friends, and you know, friends of friends. Way I see it, youre in a no-win situation. You agree?

              He loosened his grip just enough for Ronnie to slowly nod without cutting himself against the blade.

              Well, thats good, he said, real good, Ronnie. So, heres what were going to do: were going to drive you up to Baptist Memorial Hospital, drop you off, and youre gonna tell them youre a Memphis City policeman suffering chest pains the last few days. But you hear me? You fucking tell them youre a cop.

              I aint no cop.Ronnie said it low, his muscles tightened against the blade.

              Dont matter to me, said Bubba. Not at this point. But youre gonna tell them that, get pinched for impersonation.

              Why would I do that?We all already facing charges, man.

              Bubba tightened his grip again. I want you discredited, got it? You even think about turning us out on that witness stand, I want you seen as a lying sack of shit whose word aint worth nothing. Your testimony wont be no good. I already know youre a liarbut I want it on fucking record youre one.

              He paused, listened to the stillness surrounding the car. Seagulls hung over the river. I mean, he said, flicking the butterfly back into its sheath, theres more truth in that than anything else, right?

              ELVIS RETURNS HOME!

              MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)In death, Elvis Presley returned to his mansion in much the same manner as he went in lifewith secrecy and tight security.

              Two white hearses carried the bodies of Presley and his mother, Gladys Smith Presley, from Forest Hill Cemetery to the grounds of Graceland unannounced Sunday night.

              The hearses, escorted by eight Memphis policemen and five Shelby County Sheriffs deputies, traveled south without disruption down Elvis Presley Boulevard, three miles from the cemetery to the mansion.

              The Presley family received unanimous approval from zoning officials last week for the transfer. Lawyers for the family said security and privacy were reasons for the request as well as the inconvenience caused to other families with loved ones at the cemetery by Elvis crowds.

              About 100 fans watched as the hearses entered the mansion grounds from the rear entrance shortly after 7 p.m.

              Tuesday, October 4, 1977

              The story ran on WMC-TV on Sunday morning. It wasnt the live feed Russ had envisioned, catching the grave robbers redhanded, but hed still gotten the scoop Ronnie Lee Adkins promised.

              Russ observation that the Crown Victoria closely resembled an unmarked squad car proved correct: The cops had waved them right through the Forest Hill gates. At Elvis mausoleum, hed leapt out and quickly struck a pose with the mic, reporting the nights events against the mausoleums marble wall.They used the cars high-beams to light the shot. Russ then shot a clip inside Elvis private chamber.

              Elvis grave would always remain the only part of the Graceland tour that was free of charge.

              Spliced together with Bernies footage of Raymond Bubba Green, Bruce Nelson, and Ronnie Lee Adkins being carted away, the completed clip aired as Sundays lead story. Phone calls started almost immediately, Russ NBC parents and the National Enquirer within the first few hours of its airing.

              The Enquirer should have known better than push Russ and Bernie to hand over even a single frame to a competitive news source. But when it came to the honchos at their parent network, any footage shot with studio equipment was up for grabs. They handed over the raw footage, seeing every NBC affiliate in America use the material for their own coverage on the story.

              Forget taking a bullet on Dick Clarks blooper reel. On August 29, Russ finally reached a national audiencejust as he had promised the station managers.

              As he had expected, new of the attempted theft of the Kings body quickly spread, especially in Memphis. Only weeks after Elvis had been tucked and shelved in his mink-lined crypt, the botched grave robbery proved another excuse for Elvis wide-reaching constituency to gather en masse around both Forest Hill and the locked gates of Graceland.

              Also as he expected, Russ had to cover it all for WMC-TV Memphis: the arrests, the aftermath, the eventual arraignment and, finally that October, the most unexpected twist of it allthe dismissal.

              It was months later that Russ was again at Shelby County District Court, watching in disbelief as a judge announced that Green, Nelson, and Adkins were to be set free, let go, the judge declaring Adkins as too unreliable a witness to even take his word at face value.

              Only Russ knew Adkins had been the tipster, the informant the one to call him at home, for Chrissake. No one in law enforcement would say it in a courtroom, but Russ wondered if the judge been fed instructions to let Adkins walk, his clandestine status within the Memphis PD earning him some form of immunity.

              Or, Russ also wondered, had someone gotten to the judge?

              Russ never got the answer, but he did cover every detail of the grave robberys strange aftermath. The same week as the delinquent crews dismissal, Vernon Presley successfully circumvented the longstanding zoning codes in Shelby County, granting him permission for the legal transfer of his beloved son and wife, Gladys, back to Graceland. He wanted them home, under the shade of the trees in the backyard, right there beside Elvis swimming pool.

              The Presley family later called it The Meditation Garden, even put up a plaque.

              Later on, after Graceland later became Memphis greatest tourist attraction, drawing thousands of fans from around the world to take the tour, see his shag-carpeted living room and his famed white porcelain monkey, his gold Cadillac and personal jets parked outside, and his sequined jumpsuits and matching capes, all under glass next to a television set hed used for target practice Even then, Elvis grave would always remain the only part of the tour that was free of charge.

              Elvis loved visitors.

              Before he and Penny moved on to Denver a few years later, Russ Ruffin decided that MemphisElvis Memphishad been good to him.

              Years later, long after his Memphis days, Russ remembered something.

              He had been finishing up breakfast with Penny, thumbing through that mornings newspaper and saw an article that jogged loose memory from 1977: It was right before the dismissal at Shelby County Court.

              That week in September, Russ had received another phone call at home and hadnt thought about it in over 20 years. When it had happened, however, he had half-expected the call to be from Ronnie Lee Adkins, since another hearing was coming up.

              It had been a weekday, Russ remembered, Penny out running errands when the kitchen phone rang.

              This Russ Ruffin from the TV?

              It wasnt Ronnie, it was another voice, a new one only slightly familiar. It sure is, Russ said, What can I do for you?

              There was a pause, the voice taking a deep breath before going on. Well, you know who I am, but we aint ever actually spoke Names Raymond Green.

              Russ had watched Bubba Greens arraignment the previous week. Russ reached for his pad and pen. Well, hello there, Mr. Green. Yes, I do know your name, and Ive been covering everything about your case, as you may know.

              I do, he said. Listen Just so you know, it aint nothing like you heard.

              Russ didnt say a word, let the man continue.

              You know, my story I mean, said Bubba Green. What you seen in the newspapers. Nothing like you heard. I got a story for youafter my hearing.

              But after the hearing, Bubba Green was gone. So was Ronnie Lee Adkins.

              Russ remembered all of that, sitting in his kitchen in Denver, reading the newspaper and tearing out an article to show Penny across the table.

              The story in the paper was about a former FBI informant changing his name in Witness Protection. Ronnie Tyler.

              FBI WITNESS: PRESLEY CLAN STAGED GRAVE-ROBBING

              Informant says pop hatched plot to move Kings plot to Graceland

              (WorldNetDaily) MEMPHIS, Tenn.

              August 15, 2002

              An FBI informant involved in a plot to steal Elvis Presleys body shortly after the rock idol died 25 years ago claims the Presley family staged the grave-robbing to persuade Memphis officials to move him from the public cemetery to Graceland, now a $15 million-a-year tourist attraction, a veteran FBI agent told WorldNetDaily.

              The late Vernon Presley, the Kings father and executor of his estate at the time, wanted his son buried on mansion grounds, but it was not an area zoned for burials.

              So three weeks after Elvis died of a heart attack, he had lawyers for the Presley estate petition the Memphis Shelby County Board of Adjustment for a zoning variance. They cited what they called an attempted theft of Presleys body several days earlier and the expense of round-the-clock security.

              Three men were arrested Aug. 29, 1977, near the Forest Hill Cemetery mausoleum where Elvis was entombed in a 900-pound copper coffin. One of them was Ronnie Tyler, who later became an FBI informant.

              Tyler had been in cahoots with a crooked deputy sheriff, who swooped down and captured the thieves, said Ivian C. Smith, former head of the FBIs Arkansas office. The scheme had been hatched after the Memphis board had refused the Presley familys request to bury Elvis at Graceland, he said.

              The Memphis board on Sept. 28, 1977 OKd Presleys request to move his sons body to Graceland. And the singer, dressed in a white suit with dark-blue tie and light-blue shirt, was reburied there Oct. 2.

              After the theft, the county made an exception to the lawand Tyler was charged with misdemeanor trespassing, said Smith.

              AUTHORS NOTE ON SOURCES

              This article was written with the aid of Russell Ruffin, who was generous enough to offer a comprehensive interview regarding his participation in the original arrests of Ronnie Lee Adkins, Raymond Green, and Bruce Nelson.

              Likewise, the Shelby County Historical Commission was patient and helpful in supplying details and fact-checking for dates and details regarding the numerous events and media coverage of Elvis Presleys death and burial in August 1977.

              Quotes and details regarding Raymond Green are courtesy of Tri-Marq Communications and WTMJ Television, Milwaukee, which provided the only existing transcripts of Greens initial interviews.

              Ronnie Lee Adkins, now Tyler, remains an active informant for the FBI, and his background information and current whereabouts do not fall under the guidelines of the Freedom of Information Act.

              Other sources include:

              Guralnick, Peter. Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley. Boston, New York, London, Little Brown and Company, 1999.

              Smith, I. C. Inside: A Top G-Man Exposes Spies, Lies, and Bureaucratic Bungling Inside the FBI.Thomas Nelson Incorporated, Nashville, 2004.

              Associated Press, Elvis Returns Home, October 4, 1977.

              Associated Press, Police Claim Foiling Elvis Bodysnatchers, September 2, 1977.

              McCabe, Scott. The Plot to Steal Elvis Body Gets Weirder, The Washington Examiner, August 28, 2012.

              Sperry, Paul.FBI Witness: Presley Clan Staged Elvis Grave-Robbing, WorldNewDaily.com, August 15, 2002.

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              Journalists Under Attack

              In May 2019, WIRED joined the One Free Press Coalition, a united group of preeminent editors and publishers using their global reach and social platforms to spotlight journalists under attack worldwide. Today, the coalition is issuing its sixth monthly “10 Most Urgent” list of journalists whose press freedoms are being suppressed or whose cases demand justice.

              Paul Chouta, the Cameroon Web reporter who was arrested in May, denied bail, and charged with defamation and spreading false news. His case has been delayed until August 13 and he remains in a maximum-security prison. Aasif Sultan, a reporter for Kashmir Narrator, was arrested on “anti-state” charges and will have been imprisoned for one year on August 27. He has been repeatedly interrogated by police, demanding that he reveal his sources.

              Here is the August list, ranked in order of urgency:

              1. Jamal Khashoggi (Saudi Arabia): Stonewalling continues after new UN report implicates Saudi prince for journalist’s murder.

              Months after his brazen killing, and despite findings from the UN and the CIA that point to the Saudi crown prince’s involvement, there has been no independent criminal investigation. Calls for the White House to release intelligence reports have gone unheeded, along with a deadline to reply to Congress as required under the U.S. Global Magnitsky Act.

              2. Azory Gwanda (Tanzania): Tanzanian official claims missing journalist is dead—then backtracks.

              Azory Gwanda, a freelance journalist investigating mysterious killings in rural Tanzania, has been missing since November 21, 2017, and the government has failed to conduct an investigation or disclose what it knows. On July 10, Tanzanian Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi said in an interview that Gwanda had “disappeared and died,” but backtracked amid requests for clarification.

              3. Juan Pardinas (Mexico): Mexican newspaper editor targeted with death threats for criticizing new president.

              Mexican media organizations and journalists have recently reported a sharp increase in threats and online harassment over critical reporting of the López Obrador administration. Juan Pardinas, the editor-in-chief of Mexican newspaper Reforma, received a barrage of online harassment and threats after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador criticized the newspaper in April. López Obrador acknowledged the threats against Pardinas and said that his government had offered protective measures to the journalist.

              4. Paul Chouta (Cameroon): Journalist in maximum security prison blocked from seeing family.

              Cameroon Web reporter Paul Chouta was arrested in May, denied bail, and charged with defamation and spreading false news. Chouta’s editor said he suspects the case was in retaliation for critical reporting. His case has been delayed until August 13 and he remains in a maximum-security prison.

              5. Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan): Kyrgyz court upholds life sentence for documenting human rights abuses.

              Award-winning journalist Azimjon Askarov, who is an ethnic Uzbek, has spent nine years in prison on trumped-up charges for his reporting on human rights violations. Despite persistent international condemnation and calls for his release, a Kyrgyz court that had reviewed his case in light of new legislation ruled to uphold his life sentence on July 30.

              6. Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak (Turkey): Turkish journalist faces 30 years in solitary confinement.

              A commentator for opposition newspaper Özgür Düşünce and Can Erzincan TV, Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak was arrested in 2016 and sentenced in February 2018 to life without parole for trying to overturn the constitution through her journalism. In a separate trial in January, she was sentenced to an additional five years for revealing state secrets. In Turkey, which has been the top jailer of journalists three years in a row, life sentences without parole equate to 30 years in solitary confinement, with limited visits.

              7. Marzieh Amiri (Iran): Imprisoned journalist denied healthcare after for covering May Day demonstrations.

              Iranian authorities arrested Marzieh Amiri, an economics reporter at Tehran-based newspaper Shargh Daily, as she covered May Day demonstrations, and her family has had limited contact with her since. Authorities have accused Amiri of committing crimes against national security without giving further details.

              8. Jones Abiri (Nigeria): Journalist re-arrested on terrorism and cybercrime charges.

              Jones Abiri, the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Weekly Source, is behind bars on charges under Nigeria’s cybercrimes act, anti-sabotage act, and terrorism prevention act for crimes allegedly carried out in 2016. The charges are the same ones that a court threw out after he was held without access to his family or a lawyer from 2016 to 2018.

              9. Aasif Sultan (India): Journalist imprisoned one year without due process for covering conflict.

              Aasif Sultan, a reporter for Kashmir Narrator, will have been imprisoned one year on August 27, arrested in 2018 and months later charged with “complicity” in “harboring known terrorists.” He has been repeatedly interrogated and asked to reveal his sources by police. Sultan continues to be denied due process, with ongoing delays in his hearings.

              10. Truong Duy Nhat (Vietnam): Blogger who disappeared in Thailand imprisoned in Vietnam.

              Truong Duy Nhat, a Vietnamese reporter with Radio Free Asia, went missing in January in Bangkok, Thailand, where he had applied for refugee status. In March, his daughter learned he was jailed without charge in a Hanoi detention center. Nhat was previously sentenced to two years in prison in 2013 in connection to his critical reporting on the government.

              According to CPJ research, the killers go unpunished in nine out of every 10 journalists murdered.

              The One Free Press Coalition contains 33 prominent international members including: AméricaEconomía; The Associated Press; Bloomberg News; The Boston Globe; BuzzFeed; CNN Money Switzerland; Corriere Della Sera; De Standaard; Deutsche Welle; Estadão; EURACTIV; The Financial Times; Forbes; Fortune; HuffPost; India Today; Insider Inc.; Le Temps; Middle East Broadcasting Networks; Office of Cuba Broadcasting; Quartz; Radio Free Asia; Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty; Republik; Reuters; The Straits Times; Süddeutsche Zeitung; TIME; TV Azteca; Voice of America; The Washington Post; WIRED; and Yahoo News.

              One Free Press Coalition partners with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) to identify the most-urgent cases for the list, which is updated and published on the first day of every month. News organizations throughout the world can join the Coalition by emailing info@onefreepresscoalition.com.


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