Extraction: Chris Hemsworth reacts as action film nears Netflix record | The Independent

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New Chris Hemsworth film Extraction is about to break a very impressive record.

The Australian actor’s action thriller, produced by directors Anthony and Joe Russo, arrived on Netflix on 24 April, and is on course to be watching by more than 90m households in its first month alone.

Hemsworth announced the news on his instagram page, writing: “Tyler Rake is kicking ass. Extraction is well on its way to becoming the biggest-ever film premiere on Netflix – with an estimated 90m households getting in on the action in the first fours weeks. Thanks to everyone who watched so far!”

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Extraction follows Hemsworth’s mercenary, who is hired to rescue the son of an international crime lord after he is kidnapped.

Despite receiving middling reviews from critics (including a ), audiences are lapping up the film, whose success has no doubt been heightened by the coronavirus lockdown.

Other Netflix titles to benefit from the strict lockdown guidelines include documentary shows and The Last Dance, which is about basketball player Michael Jordan.

However, it’s important to note that the service picks and chooses which titles it releases stats for, with a view to highlighting its successes – and that it has recently changed how it registers views.

While the service used to count a view when a user streamed at least 70 per cent of a title, it now registers them when any account has watched at least two minutes of a film or TV show.

Netflix’s belief is that if someone watches two minutes of something, they have made an intentional choice to keep it on. Autoplay is not taken into account.

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Mitch Cronin death: Rugby league player dies after backyard training accident during lockdown | The Independent

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Australian rugby league player Mitch Cronin, a Queensland Cup grand final captain, has died after a training accident in his garden, aged 27.

Cronin was found by family members in the swimming pool of his back garden in Brisbane on Friday, having just completed a training workout under Australia’s lockdown restrictions.

It’s understood that the Wynnum Manly captain had carried out a weights session and went into the pool to cool down afterwards, where he is believed to have suffered a suspected heart attack. An autopsy will now be carried out to determine what happened to Cronin.

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The rugby league player spent time with NRL sides Canberra Raiders and Brisbane Broncos but did not make an appearance for the senior sides, but last year he skippered Wynnum Manly to the Queensland Cup grand final last September, where they suffered a 28-10 defeat against the Burleigh Bears.

Speaking to Australian outlet NewsCorp, Cronin’s manager, Paul Hogan, confirmed his death and said it was a “tragic loss of life”. 

“This has left Wynnum club, their players and myself totally shocked,” Hogan said. “He was an outstanding young man and my thoughts are with his family. We are all shattered.”

The QRL competitions manager, Dave Maiden, added. “He was a quality human being who will be mourned by many and missed by all. The people who came across him will be in a state of disbelief. He’s one of the good ones.”

Wynnum Manly chief executive, Hanan Laban, said in a statement: “We are devastated, and we send out love to Chris, Andrea, Ben, Amy and the Cronin family. 

“Mitch was an exceptional young man who was loved and respected by his teammates, his coaching staff, our supporters and the wider rugby league community.

“From the moment he arrived at Wynnum he embodied the values of the Seagulls through his positive attitude, strong work ethic, and deep care for his teammates and his club.”

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Sporting deaths in 2020

1/9 David Stern, 77

Legendary former NBA commissioner David Stern died on New Year’s Day, having led the sport for 30 years between 1984 and 2014 (22 September 1942 – 1 January 2020)

2/9 Kobe Bryant, 41

NBA legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others (23 August 1978 – 26 January 2020).

3/9 Harry Gregg, 87

Former Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper, dubbed ‘the hero of Munich’ for his efforts in saving teammates and strangers in the Munich air disaster, died at the Causeway Hospital (27 October 1932 – 16 February 2020)

4/9 Mickey Wright, 85

Mickey Wright, who won an incredible 44 titles in the space of four years between 1961 and 1964 (14 February 1935 – 17 February 2020)
Former Wales rugby player Matthew Watkins died after a battle with cancer (2 September 1978 – 7 March 2020)

6/9 Roger Mayweather, 58

Ex-world champion boxer Roger Mayweather, who was also the uncle and former trainer of undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather (24 April 1961 – 17 March 2020)

7/9 Peter Whittingham, 35

Former Cardiff City and Premier League footballer Peter Whittingham died after suffering an accidental fall at a pub (8 September 1984 – 19 March 2020)

8/9 Radomir Antic, 71

Former Real Madrid, Atletico and Barcelona manager Radomir Antic died after suffering complications with pancreatitis (22 November 1948 – 6 April 2020)

9/9 Tarvaris Jackson, 36

Former Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills quarterback died in a car crash in Alabama (21 April 1983 – 12 April 2020)

1/9 David Stern, 77

Legendary former NBA commissioner David Stern died on New Year’s Day, having led the sport for 30 years between 1984 and 2014 (22 September 1942 – 1 January 2020)

2/9 Kobe Bryant, 41

NBA legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others (23 August 1978 – 26 January 2020).

3/9 Harry Gregg, 87

Former Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper, dubbed ‘the hero of Munich’ for his efforts in saving teammates and strangers in the Munich air disaster, died at the Causeway Hospital (27 October 1932 – 16 February 2020)

4/9 Mickey Wright, 85

Mickey Wright, who won an incredible 44 titles in the space of four years between 1961 and 1964 (14 February 1935 – 17 February 2020)
Former Wales rugby player Matthew Watkins died after a battle with cancer (2 September 1978 – 7 March 2020)

6/9 Roger Mayweather, 58

Ex-world champion boxer Roger Mayweather, who was also the uncle and former trainer of undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather (24 April 1961 – 17 March 2020)

7/9 Peter Whittingham, 35

Former Cardiff City and Premier League footballer Peter Whittingham died after suffering an accidental fall at a pub (8 September 1984 – 19 March 2020)

8/9 Radomir Antic, 71

Former Real Madrid, Atletico and Barcelona manager Radomir Antic died after suffering complications with pancreatitis (22 November 1948 – 6 April 2020)

9/9 Tarvaris Jackson, 36

Former Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills quarterback died in a car crash in Alabama (21 April 1983 – 12 April 2020)

A number of teammates and ex-colleagues have posted tributes on social media to Cronin. Ex-Raiders player Jordan Rapana, who played with Cronin, wrote: “Man I still don’t want to believe it! You got me through some of the toughest times of my life! I love you my brother, fly high you absolute legend, love you forever brother! Okioki teina… QUEENSLANDER!!!!”

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UK’s coronavirus death toll rises by 684 to 3,605 in biggest jump yet – Mirror Online

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The UK’s coronavirus death toll has soared to 3,605 after 684 patients died in just 24 hours – the biggest single day increase yet.

The figure does not include people who have died at home. The previous total stood at 2,921 deaths.

The number of confirmed cases has increased to 38,168 after 4,450 more people tested positive.

Most of the deaths have been in England (3,244), followed by Scotland (172), Wales (141) and Northern Ireland (48).

Two NHS nurses, who were both mothers in their 30s with three young children, are among the latest patients to die after battling Covid-19 in hospital.

The grim news came as Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who is back at work after battling the virus, said the Government expects the virus to peak in Britain in the next few weeks and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is still infected with Covid-19 and isolating, urged people to stick with social distancing in a bid to flatten the curve.

Have you been affected by coronavirus? Email webnews@mirror.co.uk.

Aimee O'Rourke

The Department of Health said: “As of 9am on 3 April 2020, 173,784 people have been tested, of which 38,168 were confirmed positive.

“As of 5pm on 2 April 2020, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 3,605 have died.”

Public Health England said 11,764 tests were carried out on Thursday in England, while testing capacity for inpatient care in the country currently stands at 12,799 tests per day.

Two NHS nurses were among the latest patients to die.

BBC Radio 4

Mum-of-three Areema Nasreen, 36, was in intensive care on a ventilator after testing positive for the virus.

She worked at Walsall Manor Hospital in the West Midlands.

In Kent, Aimee O’Rourke, 38, died at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, where she worked.

The mum-of-three was hailed as a “brave angel” as her family said in a tribute: “Aimee was a beautiful woman and a valued NHS nurse.”

Boris Johnson

More than 10,000 tests carried out

Friday’s figures from the Department of Health show that for the second day running more than 10,000 new people were tested in the UK for coronavirus.

A total of 10,590 new people were reported as being tested in the 24 hours to 9am April 3.

The equivalent figure for April 2 was 10,215.

The total number of people in the UK tested since the outbreak began is now 173,784.

This is the equivalent of around 261 people in every 100,000, or 0.3% of the population.

The number of coronavirus-related hospital deaths reported by the Department of Health stood at 3,605 as of 5pm April 2.

It took 19 days for this number to pass 300. It has taken further 11 days to pass 3,000.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK has taken two weeks to go from just under 4,000 (3,983 as of 9am March 20) to just under 40,000 (38,168 as of 9am April 3).

Commenting on the death of Ms Nasreen, Mr Hancock said: “I pay tribute to the NHS staff who’ve died serving the NHS, serving the nation.

“It shows the incredible bravery of every member of the NHS who goes into work knowing that these dangers are there.

“I think it is a testament to every doctor and nurse and paramedic and other health professional who is working in the NHS in these difficult times.

“And I think the whole nation is grateful.”

About 35,000 front-line NHS staff are not currently in work due to coronavirus, said Mr Hancock.

He said testing figures for health staff “should” rise to thousands a day in the next few weeks.

The Government has set a goal of testing 100,000 people a day across the whole of the UK by the end of April following widespread criticism of its testing strategy.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the 5,000-plus NHS staff who had been tested had mainly been tested at new testing sites.

Health Secretary

A total of 172 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up by 46 from 126 on Thursday.

3,001 people have now tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up from 2,602 the day before.

Officials said 176 people are in intensive care with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms, and increase of 14 on Thursday.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned: “I want to be very clear that nothing I have seen gives me any basis whatsoever for predicting the virus will peak as early as a week’s time here in Scotland.”

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A total of 24 patients have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to 141, health officials said.

Public Health Wales said 345 new cases had tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Wales to 2,466.

Dr Robin Howe, from Public Health Wales, said “345 new cases have tested positive for Covid-19 in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,466, although the true number of cases is likely to be higher”.

Dr Howe added: “Twenty-four further deaths have been reported to us of people who had tested positive for Covid-19, taking the number of deaths in Wales to 141.

Louisa Jordan

“We offer our condolences to families and friends affected, and we ask those reporting on the situation to respect patient confidentiality.”

The Welsh Government will introduce a law compelling all employers to make sure their workers keep two metres apart, Wales’ First Minister has said.

Mark Drakeford said the social distancing legislation, the first in the UK, would require bosses to “put the needs of their workforce first” when it comes into force on Monday or Tuesday of next week.

The number of people who have died in Northern Ireland after contracting coronavirus has risen by 12 to 48, health officials said.

Testing has resulted in 130 new positive cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the region to 904.

Manchester's Central Complex

In England, two siblings of Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, the 13-year-old London boy who died after testing positive for coronavirus, have also developed symptoms, according to a family friend who launched an online appeal.

The development means Ismail’s mother and six siblings are forced to self-isolate and cannot attend his funeral in Brixton on Friday, Mark Stephenson said.

Meanwhile, Prince Charles, who tested positive for coronavirus last month, officially opened the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCeL centre in east London.

The Prince of Wales, 71, appeared via video-link from his Scottish home of Birkhall and spoke to those gathered at the entrance of the new temporary hospital.

He said: “It is without doubt a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work in every sense, from its speed of construction – in just nine days as we’ve heard – to its size and the skills of those who have created it.

Mark Stephenson

NHS Nightingale Hospital – the facts

The NHS Nightingale Hospital has been built in east London in the ExCel convention centre.

The facility will be used to treat Covid-19 patients transferred from intensive care units across London

Just one ward will need 200 members of staff

“An example, if ever one was needed, of how the impossible could be made possible and how we can achieve the unthinkable through human will and ingenuity.”

Charles added: “The creation of this hospital is above all the result of an extraordinary collaboration and partnership between NHS managers, the military and all those involved to create a centre on a scale that has never been seen before in the United Kingdom.

“To convert one of the largest national conference centres into a field hospital, starting with 500 beds with a potential of 4,000, is quite frankly incredible.”

The prince and Mr Hancock both recently ended self-isolation after contracting the virus and Charles commented on the fact they had recovered.

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He said: “Now I was one of the lucky ones to have Covid-19 relatively mildly and if I may say so I’m so glad to see the Secretary of State has also recovered, but for some it will be a much harder journey.”

Shortly after he spoke, Buckingham Palace confirmed the Queen has recorded a special broadcast on the coronavirus outbreak to be broadcast on Sunday night.

Previously, it was said that the 93-year-old monarch, who is isolating with Prince Philip, 98, at Windsor Castle, was preparing to make a televised address to calm the nation’s nerves, but was waiting for the “right moment” to address the country.

Mr Hancock, meanwhile, praised all those involved in the setting up of the hospital, adding the “extraordinary project”, the core of which was completed in just nine days, was a “testament to the work and the brilliance of the many people involved”.

Matt Hancock

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Add your partial postcode (eg: CF5 1) to put a heart on the map and you can add a thank you message too.

If you’re an NHS worker, you’ll also find a handy list of all the places and brands currently offering you well-deserved discounts.

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He also praised the NHS and the way its staff are dealing with the virus crisis.

The Health Secretary said: “In these troubled times with this invisible killer stalking the whole world, the fact that in this country we have the NHS is even more valuable than before.”

Asked about the number of ventilators currently in use and how many are expected to arrive next week, Mr Hancock said: “We’ve obviously got a big programme to ramp up the number of ventilators and we now have more ventilators than we had before.

“And we’re going to need them for this hospital and I’m just going to go and have a look at that now.”

Pressed for exact numbers, Mr Hancock did not respond.

Northern Ireland

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme earlier, Mr Hancock said it is unclear whether he is now immune to Covid-19.

He described having coronavirus as a “pretty unpleasant experience” with an “incredibly” sore throat and a feeling of “having glass in my throat”.

He said he has lost half a stone in weight.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson remained in isolation in Downing Street after testing positive for the virus.

He was “feeling better” but still had a fever on Friday.

nurse and paramedic

In a video on social media, the Prime Minister urged the public to stick with social distancing and not be tempted to “hang out” in the warmer weather predicted for this weekend.

“In my own case, although I’m feeling better and I’ve done my seven days of isolation, alas I still have one of the symptoms, a minor symptom, I still still have a temperature,” he said.

“So, in accordance with government advice I must continue my self-isolation until that symptom itself goes.”

Mr Johnson said people must not be tempted to break social distancing rules as the weather warms up even if they were going “a bit stir crazy”

In England, more than 26.7 million units of personal protection equipment (PPE) were delivered to 281 NHS “trusts and providers” on Thursday, Downing Street confirmed.

Prime Minister

Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “That included 7.8 million aprons, 1.7 million masks and 12.4 million gloves.”

It follows the new guidance issued by Public Health England about the level of protection health staff should wear depending on the patient situation.

There would be no new guidance published on the public wearing masks or face coverings when out of the house, said the spokesman.

The spokesman said “surveillance” of the population to determine the spread of coronavirus was ongoing, with 3,500 antibody tests carried out per week.

“This is a population surveillance programme which we have been carrying out since February,” said the spokesman.

“It is being done by Public Health England at their campus which is at Porton Down.

“We currently have capacity for 3,500 of these surveillance tests to be carried out this week which is enough for small-scale population sampling.”

Two newly-planned temporary hospital sites have been agreed at the University of the West of England and the Harrogate Convention Centre.

They will join other sites due to open at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre and Manchester’s Central Complex.

Construction of a temporary hospital called the NHS Louisa Jordan is underway in Glasgow.

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Slaves, nannies, and maids: Oscars value women of colour – in subservient roles | Film | The Guardian

For Oscar voters, what makes a great performance has disturbingly narrow criteria for non-white performers. The observation that people of colour are only ever recognised for playing slaves and criminals, that their stories are only ever seen as important when they deal with tragedy and suffering, does not strictly belong to the unenlightened past. This week’s Oscar nominations prove that such judgments are planted firmly in the present.

The kinds of roles being written for people of colour over the past decade have begun to expand to encompass a wider range of experiences. Just recently we were graced with the luminous Jennifer Lopez as savvy stripper Ramona in Hustlers; newcomer Nora Lum (Awkwafina) as the conflicted granddaughter of a dying matriarch in The Farewell; Lupita Nyong’o in a remarkable two-in-one turn in Jordan Peele’s Us. This all goes without mentioning the incredible performances that never quite picked up steam: Alfre Woodard in Clemency, for instance, or Song Kang-Ho in Parasite. But never mind the fertile pickings. This year the Academy has nominated one person of colour – Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman in Harriet. This outcome is dismaying, partly because it falls neatly into a familiar pattern: a person of colour performing a racially specific form of suffering, the outlier in a sea of white nominees.

Erivo’s nomination for Harriet, a film that received middling reviews, is not a preposterous decision. Actors are often recognised for individual work that might stand out in an otherwise mediocre film (take Renée Zellweger in Judy). I’m not bothered by the quality of Erivo’s performance. There are far more egregious entries on that front, with the likes of Charlize Theron for Bombshell, or Scarlet Johansson for Jojo Rabbit, reaping nods (have the Oscars ever been a legitimate meritocracy?). Far more worrisome is what Erivo’s nomination suggests about the way Academy voters evaluate performers of colour, who seem to be the most visible, and taken the most seriously, within the trappings of white pity.

That voters overlooked a performance like Nyong’o’s in Us, a chilling interpretation of two sides of the same self, is telling. It doesn’t matter that this performance matches, if not surpasses entirely that of Joaquin Phoenix’s in Joker, even though both actors play, with tremendous physical commitment, psychologically tormented characters in genre films. Instead, the Academy prefers the Nyong’o who starred in 12 Years a Slave (2013), a film in which she is a slave, raped and humiliated. For these efforts, so difficult for the conscience to ignore, she was awarded best supporting actress.

In the last decade, only 14 women of colour were among the 100 women nominated by the Academy for the best actress and best supporting actress awards. There were even fewer men of colour (nine out of 100). That the same types of roles – slaves, nannies, and maids – continue to be the magic ticket to the red carpet, feels particularly ugly considering the range of parts played by white nominees. This year, for instance, the characters of Erivo’s fellow best actress nominees include a Fox newswoman, an icon of classic Hollywood, an aspiring young writer, and a hopeful divorcee. In 2019, Yalitza Aparicio was nominated for her performance in Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma. Aparicio is one of the few Latin American actresses to receive the honour, joining Adriana Barraza as a deported nanny in Babel, and Catalina Sandino Moreno as a drug mule in Maria Full of Grace.




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As moving as these performances are, these films leave a bitter taste as they reaffirm tired conceptions of Latin American women. Aparicio plays a housemaid silently enduring racism and neglect, which recalls another Academy favourite – Tate Taylor’s The Help (2011), which stars Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis as resilient maids, as well! Such slim parameters betray the desire, perhaps even the need by Oscar voters, for a particularly cheap form of pathos, one that simplifies and minimises the experiences of non-white people by placing them on the margins or in the past. Those performances that don’t square with this mould are often considered too “light,” too niche, or too subversive for the Academy, all of which indicates the incredible myopia of its voting body and the thinly veiled racism that guides it.

Perhaps hoping for a consistently diverse pool of Oscar nominees is blind optimism; the more time passes, the anomalous triumphs of films such as Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, feel like a fever dream. By opening up its membership to more women and people of colour, and enlisting diverse talent such as John Cho, Issa Rae, and Tiffany Haddish to present its nominations, the Academy has attempted to create an image of inclusivity. But given this year’s batch of nominees, that commitment has proven to be both superficial and a bad joke.

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Jacob Stallings grows with 2019 starting reps | Pittsburgh Pirates

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PITTSBURGH — The Pirates’ next general manager is going to have to figure out the club’s immediate future and long-term plan behind the plate. Francisco Cervelli is gone. Elias Díaz, once a well-regarded prospect, followed up an encouraging 2018 campaign with a stunningly poor season. There isn’t a catcher among the club’s Top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.

It’s entirely possible that Pittsburgh’s next starting catcher isn’t currently on the roster. But part of the solution might have emerged amid the disappointment of this past season.

Jacob Stallings spent the past four years as the Pirates’ third or fourth option at catcher, which means he’s familiar with the road between Pittsburgh and Triple-A Indianapolis. But this season, Cervelli’s concussion and Díaz’s struggles opened the door for Stallings to receive more regular playing time.

Stallings’ offensive performance was fine, especially compared to the Pirates’ other catchers. But the 29-year-old earned the club’s trust with his diligent preparation and his performance behind the plate. By the end of the year, most of Pittsburgh’s starting pitchers had asked to work with Stallings.

Where that leaves Stallings going forward is anybody’s guess. Maybe a new GM will view him as a short-term starting option for a team focused on the future or perhaps as a spiritual successor to Chris Stewart: a quality, defensive-minded backup on a potential contender.

Before looking forward, though, let’s review Stallings’ season.

What went right?
His defensive work, primarily. It’s tough to quantify everything about catchers’ defense, but Stallings graded out well in the areas we can measure and those in which we depend upon the word of his teammates.

Stallings has long been praised by pitchers for his preparation and game-calling, and that showed this year. By late May, Chris Archer worked exclusively with Stallings. Joe Musgrove soon followed suit. Most of Trevor Williams’ and Mitch Keller’s starts down the stretch came with Stallings behind the plate.

Joe Musgrove, on working with Jacob Stallings tonight: “Stalls was spot-on with everything. It makes my job a lot easier when I trust my catcher to call the game. It’s almost like he’s the brains and I’m the muscle. You just tell me where to throw it, and I’ll throw it there.”

— Adam Berry (@adamdberry)

Catcher ERA is a flawed statistic in some regards, but it can paint part of the picture here. Consider how Pirates pitchers performed when throwing to Stallings (4.47 ERA), how similar that was to their work with the veteran Cervelli (4.42) and how different it was with Díaz behind the plate (5.95).

There are more advanced metrics to consider, too.

Stallings ranked eighth among all Major League catchers in adjusted Fielding Runs Above Average, according to Baseball Prospectus, and 11th in Framing Runs. The latter was a focal point for Stallings this season, as he committed himself to the skill of framing pitches with former bench coach Tom Prince and bullpen catcher Jordan Comadena.

Stallings did all the necessary drill work, catching weighted balls and properly positioning his body behind the plate and his glove around the strike zone. He watched video of elite pitch-framers and noticed how well they were able to keep their gloves in the zone, rather than letting the ball move them, so he strengthened his body in the weight room.

“It’s been a continual growth process. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better as the year’s gone on,” Stallings said in late September. “It’s been more this year than ever in the past.”

What went wrong?
This is not a knock on Stallings, but the answer is probably his games played total (71) and the fact that he had more plate appearances (210) than Cervelli.

Stallings started 53 games for the Pirates this year, which is not how you draw it up for your third catcher leaving Spring Training. Díaz started 75 games behind the plate despite having a brutal year overall, and Cervelli made 32 starts before he was sidelined and later picked up by the Braves.

Offensively, Stallings was more or less who he’s always been. The 29-year-old batted .262 with a .325 on-base percentage and a .382 slugging percentage. The good news is he tapped into a little more power to hit six home runs, as many as he’s ever hit in a professional season. He credited hitting coach Rick Eckstein for that improvement.

“Working with him, learning about my body and my swing,” Stallings said. “Pulling the ball in the air with backspin was something I struggled with. I used to always just topspin the ball because I wasn’t putting myself in a good position to hit. I really dove into that. It’s something that I will always struggle with because I’m so big and lanky with a lot of moving parts, but body position to hit has been the biggest change for me this year.

“I feel like I have a good swing. I just don’t put myself in position to hit all the time. So we worked a lot on that, and it’s something we always have to work on. Putting myself in a more consistent position to hit has helped a lot.”

Best moment
How about June 27, when Stallings had three hits and a homer and caught a shutout against the eventual American League champion Astros in a 10-0 Pirates win at Minute Maid Park?

Or how about the Pirates’ September series in San Francisco? Stallings hit two of his six homers in a historically pitcher-friendly ballpark while catching a pair of victories.

2020 outlook
Stallings is under club control, so he should be back in some role. But will the next management group take another shot on the upside Díaz showed in 2018?

There are plenty of free agents available, and the Pirates picked up recent contributors like Cervelli and Stewart through smart trades. How would that decision or another acquisition affect Stallings? Stay tuned.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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Cubs extend TV reach with Mediacom | Chicago Cubs

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CHICAGO — The Cubs will be launching Marquee Sports Network in February, just in time for Spring Training games. In the meantime, the club’s business arm continues to make progress with carriage agreements that will bring the team’s new regional network into more homes.

On Wednesday, Sinclair Broadcast Group — the Cubs’ partner in the Marquee venture — announced that it had reached a multiyear carriage agreement with Mediacom Communications to carry the new network. The deal with Mediacom follows carriage agreements with both AT&T and Charter Communications.

“We couldn’t be more excited to bring Marquee Sports Network to Mediacom customers,” Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said in a release. “When you combine this deal with AT&T, we can guarantee that Cubs fans in our home territory across Chicago and the Midwest will have the ability to access the network next year.”

Mediacom provides carriage of Marquee in certain parts of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. Terms or financial details of the agreement were not provided.

News of the deal between Sinclair and Mediacom on Wednesday came one day after Marquee announced the hiring of Michael Santini as the senior vice president of programming and production for the Cubs’ network. Santini previously served as the vice president of production for MLB Network, which he helped launch in 2009.

At MLB Network, Santini headed the production department and oversaw such shows as “MLB Tonight” and “MLB Central,” among others. He also has 20 years of production experience in a variety of roles at MSG Networks in New York.

“To be selected to lead programming and production for Marquee Sports Network is beyond exciting,” Santini said in a release. “MLB Network was a challenging, fluid and fast-paced environment. I am honored and grateful to have that same opportunity this time in Chicago for one of the most iconic sports franchises with the best fan base in the game.”

With Marquee, Santini will be responsible for managing the network’s live programming, pregame and postgame shows and all original content. He will also oversee the network’s on-air talent, production staff and crew members.

Santini joins a group at Marquee Sports Network that is led by Michael McCarthy, who was hired in May to be the channel’s general manager. Previously, McCarthy was the president of the MSG Network, and also had leadership roles with the St. Louis Blues and Milwaukee Bucks. He had been a consultant for the Cubs dating back to August of ’18.

“As we near the launch of the network,” McCarthy said in Wednesday’s release, “we look forward to giving fans the in-depth Cubs content they want and deserve through multiple providers.”

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.

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New Zealand: Crusaders rugby team drops sword from logo because of Christchurch mosque massacres

Changing this logo, and certainly the team name is not long for this world, is a sign of the acceptance of the idea that Westerners should be ashamed of the Crusades. The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS proves otherwise. It demonstrates from primary sources that the Crusades were not a gratuitous imperialistic venture, but a late and small-scale defensive reaction to 450 years of imperialist jihad aggression that had conquered and Islamized what had been half of the Christian world, and threatened the life of the Christian empire, the Byzantine empire.

The Crusaders have made the first change in its re-brand after calls for the franchise to change its name following the Christchurch shootings.

The branding and pre-game mascots, which feature knights riding on horseback in chainmail, waving swords and with crosses on their chests, also came under scrutiny.

NZ Rugby boss Steve Tew said at the time that the removal of medieval theme was an appropriate first step, but any further consideration of the brand needs to be broader than a response to one event.

“Even prior to 15 March, the Crusaders had signalled their intention to complete a brand review,” Tew said….

All this story begins long before the Crusades. The question to ask is, who started the original hostilities?

The following is extracted from ‘Sword and Scimitar’ by Raymond Ibrahim. It’s abundantly clear who the instigator of centuries of conflict is: Muhammad.

// Around the time Muhammad was becoming master of Mecca, he sent a letter to Heraclius, the Christian emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire who had that same year just defeated the Persian Empire after decades of warring.

The heart of the prophet’s letter consisted of two Arabic words, aslam taslam—that is, “submit [to Islam] and have peace.” It was rejected.

Muhammad responded in 629 by sending an expeditionary force of some three thousand Arabs chanting “victory or martyrdom!” into Christian territory. The Romans, who for centuries considered their southern neighbors as leading a “beastly and blood-thirsty life,” met and defeated them at Mu’ta (east of Jordan, near Karak).

Then, sometime in 630, even as Heraclius was ceremoniously restoring to Jerusalem what the Persians had earlier captured—the True Cross, a relic found centuries earlier under Constantine and believed to consist of fragments of Christ’s cross—Muhammad declared eternal war on Christendom, as captured by Koran 9:29:

“Fight those among the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, nor forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, nor embrace the religion of truth, until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.”

In other words, Islam’s three choices had come to Jews and Christians: either they converted, died fighting, or kept their religions by paying extortion money and accepting an inferior position as dhimmis in Muslim society.

Then, claiming that the Christians were planning on invading Arabia to snuff out Islam, Muhammad “preemptively” led some thirty thousand Muslims to Tabuk, along the Roman-Arabian border. They stayed there for some three weeks; no Romans came, and the Muslims caravanned back to Medina. Two years later, in 632, Muhammad was dead. //

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How NFL players spent early-season byes – Wedding planning, hockey and more

Through six weeks of the season, eight teams have already had a bye week. How do players spend the off week that early in the season?

Our NFL Nation reporters asked around locker rooms, gathering downtime activities from Weeks 4-6, including wedding planning, deep-sea fishing and NHL games.

Planning a wedding during a grueling NFL season can be tough, but a Week 5 bye week can certainly help. Detroit Lions center Frank Ragnow thought his off weekend would be filled with visiting various wedding venues after proposing to his fiancée, Lucy Rogers, earlier this year. But when the couple returned to their native Minnesota, they only visited one on Friday — a vineyard and apple orchard in Waconia, Minnesota, about 30 minutes from where they grew up.

“I told Lucy right away that you can pick everything. It’s your day,” Ragnow said. “I really, I will marry you wherever you want to get married. But I just want to pick the food. The only thing I really care about is the food so far, that’s about it.”

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But because the Waconia venue requires use of its own caterer, Ragnow would be taken out of the food game if they choose it. So he has already started giving her a hard time about the vineyard, though mostly joking.

After the shortened wedding planning, Ragnow went to Pioneer Ridge Middle School in Chaska, Minnesota, where his mom, Marty, works. Marty recently met a student, Evan Connolly, wearing head-to-toe Lions gear and, after starting a conversation, learned he recently lost his father.

“My mom knew I was coming home for bye week and found out it was his birthday on Friday,” Ragnow said. “So she set it up, and I came by the school and surprised him, wished him a happy birthday, got to know him, signed a few things for him and talked for a little while. Met his mom, gave her a big hug and talked to her. Really, my mom set everything up, she’s an angel. It was pretty cool being able to see a big smile on his face.”

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Ragnow can relate. His father, Jon, died in 2016 when Ragnow was in school at Arkansas. Connecting with children who have lost parents at a young age has been a large part of the foundation he’s still working to set up.

Otherwise, it was a low-key weekend for Ragnow and Rogers. They went to a Chanhassen High School football game Friday night and celebrated Rogers’ grandmother’s birthday on Sunday before heading back to Detroit on Sunday night to pick up their dog, Bear, who spent his bye weekend at Camp Bow Wow in Ann Arbor. — Michael Rothstein

New York Jets nose tackle Steve McLendon, voted a team captain in large part because of his indefatigable work ethic, devoted his Week 4 bye to … well, working. He returned home to Atlanta and spent the time at his training facility — Team MVP (McLendon Vision Performance) — which is set to open after the season. McLendon owns the facility, which includes a field house and indoor track, and has four employees. McLendon used his days off to get the weight room up and running. He describes himself as a hands-on owner.

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Chris Berman and Tom Jackson recap the weekend’s games with extended highlights and analysis.

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When he wasn’t working at his facility, McLendon simulated a typical NFL week, making sure he did his daily workouts in the weight room. That included a game-day workout, which he did on Saturday because of family obligations on Sunday. His credo is, “The gym is always open.” Asked why he didn’t escape to a tropical beach on the bye week, McLendon said, “My beach is in front of that iron. That’s my beach. I’m built different.”

But Jets safety Jamal Adams? He used the off week to escape to Turks and Caicos. He didn’t watch football and tried not to think about football. He totally unplugged, although he admitted he kept his phone with him on the beach. “Had a glass of wine and relaxed,” he said. “That’s all I did.” — Rich Cimini

Buffalo Bills safety Jordan Poyer spent his Week 6 bye at his Florida home with his wife, Rachel, and daughter, Aliyah. An avid angler, Poyer made sure to take advantage of Florida’s ample coastline and fishing opportunities. It’s something he did while growing up in Oregon, but his passion for it really took off once he moved to the Sunshine State.

“I do [a lot of fishing], especially since I moved to Florida,” Poyer said. “It’s kind of something that everybody does down there. The first time I went out deep-sea fishing was one of the first weekends I was in Florida, and I fell in love with it.” — Marcel Louis-Jacques

After the team’s London game, Oakland Raiders rookie running back Josh Jacobs was in Las Vegas on Saturday for the Week 6 bye to coordinate a charity event and meet with Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak when the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights heard he was in town and reached out. Jacobs had already played in a charity softball game this summer with Knights players, so he was familiar with the NHL team to a degree.

“They hit me up and was like, ‘We heard you was in town, we want you to come to the game,'” Jacobs said Monday. “I was like, ‘Sure, I ain’t never been to a major hockey game.’ And they were like, ‘When you get here, we’ve got some stuff for you.’ I’m like, all right, they’re just going to sit me somewhere, let me meet the players again. But they were like, ‘You’re going to start the game off with the siren.'”

Indeed, Jacobs was the celebrity guest to sound the pre-puck-drop, old-school-sounding siren to rally fans before the Knights’ showdown with the Calgary Flames.

🚨 @iAM_JoshJacobs IS IN THE BUILDING!!!! 🚨 pic.twitter.com/HywLn6ehZX

— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights)

“Then they gave me my own jersey and everything,” Jacobs said. “It was dope. And the atmosphere was crazy. Production? Crazy. They had a whole five-minute video before they played. I was like, this is lit. I didn’t think it was going to be fun, honestly. It’s hockey. But this is lit. I will definitely go to another game. Definitely.” — Paul Gutierrez

Three former Ohio State Buckeyes turned Miami Dolphins — linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker and offensive tackle Isaiah Prince — spent their Week 5 bye back on their old stomping grounds in Columbus, attending Ohio State’s 34-10 win over Michigan State.

Fields leads Ohio State to win with 3 TDs

Justin Fields throws two touchdown passes and runs for another to propel No. 4 Ohio State to a 34-10 win over Michigan State.

“Them boys are looking good,” McMillan said. “We got a chance to make some noise this year.”

He played for the Buckeyes from 2014-16 before being drafted in second round by the Dolphins in 2017 and said he goes back once a year, usually during the bye. Baker and McMillan both have much of their immediate family living in Ohio, so they split bye-week time between hanging on their old campus and seeing friends and family.

“It’s always a great vibe. Got a great chance to catch up with coaches and just be fans,” said Baker, who played at OSU from 2015-17 before becoming a Dolphins third-round pick in 2018. “This team got something real good brewing. It didn’t even seem like [Michigan State] had a chance.” — Cameron Wolfe

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The Problem With ‘Bachelor’ Stars Dating Real Celebrities | Betches

I’ve been a loyal member of Bachelor Nation for longer than is psychologically recommended (according to my therapist). In fact, I’m so invested in them that I spend almost seven months out of every year chained to my TV for two hours on Monday nights, just to watch these people find love while simultaneously bringing dishonor to their family name. I then meticulously record this aesthetically-pleasing car crash in a weekly recap so that we can all remember that one time Chris Harrison had to explain to Colton which hole to put it in for posterity purposes. One could even argue that watching The Bachelor has been my longest relationship to date. 

And, like any other toxic relationship in my life, I’ve put up with my fair share of bullsh*t. Getting rid of Jorge The Bartender on Bachelor in Paradise in favor of Wells, who is about as much a mixologist as I am a person with good credit? Fine. Letting Chris Harrison negotiate a new contract that allows him to speak seven words or less per episode, despite the fact that he is the glue that holds that insane asylum together? Also fine. Giving Nick Viall not one, not two, not three, but FOUR separate seasons to con the American public into thinking he could ever be a catch? Fine, fine, fine. But what I won’t stand for—what I absolutely refuse to allow—is Bachelor Nation infiltrating the lives of real celebs. 

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, recently there has been a number of former Bachelor contestants vying for the hearts of actual celebrities, like Tyler C and Gigi Hadid, Demi Lovato and Mike Johnson, and as of last week, potentially Nick Viall and Rachel Bilson. And these are just the most recent couplings! 

When I first found out about Tyler C hooking up with Gigi Hadid, I was disappointed and a little upset. My friends, on the other hand, were ecstatic. “Good for Tyler!” They’d say. “He deserves only good things!” Look, I’m not going to pretend that watching 30 hours of TV footage of the man makes me an apt judge of his character, but I was inclined to agree. Good things? Sure. But going from dating a girl who names her zits and regularly butchers the English language to dating one of the highest-paid models in the world, who also happens to be an international superstar? Are you f*cking kidding me, Tyler?

Are

Bottom line? I felt lied to. I had just spent weeks this summer watching Tyler profess his love for Hannah B, a girl who is the definition of “hot mess” in Urban Dictionary, only to find out that what he was really searching for in a partner was 108 pounds of hairspray and coconut water. Part of those feelings of betrayal came from the fact that these guys are supposed to be somewhat attainable. These are supposed to be guys who would theoretically be into us, the viewer (assuming we are under a size 4, have at least 10K followers on Instagram, and look professionally airbrushed at all times). AND GIGI F*CKING HADID IS NOT LIKE US, THE VIEWER, IS SHE TYLER C?!

Furthermore, I’ve always considered the stars of Bachelor Nation to be their own sad, demented sorority/fraternity, that real stars—people with certifiable talents and ambition that goes beyond which Instagram sponsorship will pay for their Revolve credit card—would look down upon. Bachelor contestants are willing to debase themselves on national television, wear chicken suits and cry about being seagulls instead of pigeons. Why would a person who has won Emmys for acting or hit the Billboard Hot 100 want to date a person whose bio can be summed up as “social media participant” or “former high school athlete”?

Take Mike Johnson and Demi Lovato, for instance. Do I love them both? Yes. Do I want both of them to be happy? Also, yes. But Demi is a rockstar, a huge advocate for mental health, and has a world-wide fanbase, while Mike… has a really great smile? Calls women “queens”? Seriously, what does this guy do for a living and is he really good enough for MY queen Demi? Their budding relationship feels mismatched and off-kilter. That’s not to say some relationships can’t be mismatched, but this feels like something more than that.

And for the most part, it’s the men of BachelorNation who are sliding into the DMs of A-list stars. You don’t see Bibiana hitting up Michael B. Jordan’s IG comments section with flirty emojis or Kristina Schulman going on dinner dates with Chace Crawford. Which brings me to the real reason I’m so offended by these recent couplings: why is this phenomenon so one-sided?

We’ve talked at length about how The Bachelor men dating A-listers won’t be great for the franchise. It already felt like a real suspension of reality that these conventionally attractive, mildly successful men weren’t able to find love in real life and that’s why they came on the show. Over the years, it’s felt like less of the contestants are actually there to find love with the lead and more of them are there to find fame and careers on Instagram. And now the female leads must contend with the likes of Demi Lovato and Gigi Hadid potentially sliding into the guys’ DMs post-production, apparently. 

Hannah

Aside from Lauren Bushnell’s recent engagement to country music singer Chris Lane, the majority of the ladies in Bachelor Nation are single or are dating in the Bachelor pool of potential suitors, but the men aren’t playing that game anymore. While Nick Viall serenades Summer Roberts on his podcast, Caelynn felt so desperate for a happy ending that she settled for a man who lives in his van.

More and more I watch this show and think, “man, she’s settling” and I’ve realized that’s not the kind of reality TV I want to watch anymore. This used to be a show about real people looking for love. Over time, that’s shifted into cosmetically enhanced, famous-adjacent people looking for love, and I was fine with that too. But I can’t stand for this new turn of events. I don’t watch The Bachelorette or Bachelor in Paradise to find out how a good looking dude from Florida somehow managed to bag a supermodel. I watch this show to root for the women, for them to find themselves and maybe find love too.

Hannah B set a new precedent  for Bachelorettes: that we can be funny and messy and say the wrong things and STILL be desirable—still be wife material. But watching her men declare that’s what they want in a wife and then go out and date international superstars in the next breath is enraging and upsetting. If this is what the next generation of Bachelor looks like, then count me out. 

Images: ABC; Giphy (2)

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Wild oversharing comic Phoebe Robinson: ‘I do dumb things. That’s who I am!’

Algorithmia AI Generated Summary

 

Is the fringe ready for the brash standup who utilized to get paid in nachos as well as chicken wings. We fulfill one fifty percent of 2 Dope Queens as she loads her shoes with sweat

What does Phoebe Robinson wish to see when she shows up at the Edinburgh edge. Just lots of dudes smuggling their bangers and also mash in their kilts.


 

Is the fringe ready for the brash standup who utilized to get paid in nachos as well as chicken wings? We fulfill one fifty percent of 2 Dope Queens as she loads her shoes with sweat

What does Phoebe Robinson wish to see when she shows up at the Edinburgh edge? Just lots of dudes smuggling their bangers and also mash in their kilts. Observational comic, sharp social doubter, signee of a handle ABC workshops, bestselling writer (You Cant Touch My Hair & Various Other Things I Still Have to Describe) as well as one fifty percent of 2 Dope Queens (the podcast duo transformed HBO stars), Robinson has an ideology: that comedy parched, spontaneous, periodically gross, with riffs on Googling David Bowies penis dimension after learning he has passed away can be a force for great.

At Edinburgh, Robinson will explore her show, called Sorry, Harriet Tubman, which covers sex stuff as well as race stuff yet additionally discussing accidents in the bedroom during sex, just like lower-brow points. So I think that itll be type of a conclusion of where Im at in my life today. It suggests, like a lot of her job, that if we can be truthful concerning our greatly mistaken selves as well as our profoundly mistaken culture, possibly we can make our globe a little less screwed up. Or at the very least tell a couple of decent fart jokes along the road.

The title, she states, stems from a running joke she and likewise her other dope queen The Daily Exposes Jessica Williams used to make on the podcast, concerning just how dissatisfied Tubman would certainly be, because, you understand, she basically led servants to freedom on the below ground railway and additionally Im like I simply wan na wreck Michael B Jordan, Robinson states.
I ask her exactly how she has actually pulled down Tubman this week. Its only Tuesday, she items. Nevertheless after that she births in mind exactly how that day or the day previously, she and her person had been exercising at the fitness center in her structure, which while practicing a curtsy lunge, an incredibly sophisticated action, she merely discharge like the loudest, wettest fart. Her companion has his earphones in, however he still heard it. So I thought that was an ensured dissatisfaction for Harriet, she specifies.
Robinson suches as to think of Tubman, her honorable face flecked with a solitary, excellent Demi-Moore-in-Ghost tear, hearing that fart as well, and questioning if discovering to browse by the North Star had truly deserved it.

As authentic as possible Robinson did a standup course and fell in love with it.

The comic, that describes herself as an off-brand Oprah, expanded up in Americas midwest, enjoying the sitcoms Moesha as well as Martin, and the sketch show In Living Color. She was an ironical child, but not one that might always fracture a joke. Funny was never her endgame. Yet in university, she signed up with an improv performers, and also after college, while functioning as an executive aide, a pal convinced her to take a standup course and she dropped in love, executing any place she could, from clubs to biker bars. She was usually paid in nachos. Or chicken wings.

Some comics will create a character, yet Robinsons persona is herself, with all the Instagram filters shut off. Her strategy, she claims, is to be as authentic as feasible and also her brand, she states, is similar to kind of not taking myself also seriously.

She had gotten here for lunch, at a drowsy Brooklyn restaurant, in streamlined sunglasses, worn denims, and also a pink T-shirt checking out Bonjour yall. Her sweetheart whom she calls British Baekoff (he is British, he is her bae, he takes pleasure in cooking) had actually asked her not wear it on the Paris Mtro and also which she had of program used on the Paris Mtro. So the not taking herself also seriously point checks out.

When 2 Dope Queens relocated to HBO, Robinson would typically record discounts without makeup or while pretending that her wig was doing the talking. Fifty percent the time Im doing something truly stupid as well as I can much like conceal it, but Im like, thats who I am, she claims.

She doesn ‘t recognize just how, or if, her oversharing design will certainly convert to the UK, yet her partner has actually alerted her that British target markets can be more suppressed. They might not be hooting and shrieking, yet that doesn ‘t mean they ‘reOriginal message also short.Original message as well short.Original text too brief. not enjoying, she guarantees herself. The possibility does not make her remotely as worried as the moment she and Williams talked to among her heroes, Michelle Obama (various other heroes: Oprah, Bono, her moms and dads, her huge bro). When she stood up after the meeting, her shoes had plenty of sweat. I was really nervous concerning sliding and also falling, she states. Thats how much sweat remained in my footwear!

Funny, which is still really white and also still really male, hasn’t always rated to such females as her, and also she does not love concerns concerning exactly how to enhance things. It needs to be a teamwork and till straight dudes are expected to roll up their sleeves as well as get to function, she states, Im over being inquired about what males need to do. What does she need to do? Talk as honestly and truthfully as she can around hookups as well as periods and sexism and racism as well as the errors of white-lady feminism as well as shapewear knowing that the funny will constantly discover its method there.

 

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