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Joe Rogan: Obamagate is ‘REAL.’

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Joe Rogan: Obamagate is 'REAL.'

The ‘Obamagate’ scandal was slammed by popular podcast host Joe Rogan saying the outgoing president was ‘mainly spying on Trump using the FBI.’

“Actually the new president hires the FBI or has it to investigate it,” said Rogan.

“Hear the video on it of Jimmy Dore. The video of Jimmy Dore is outstanding. What the government did exactly breaks down. It’s illegal. And that’s illegal.

“Mainly you are spying on Trump with the FBI. And all the Russian things they claimed were not happening, it turned out, and they knew it wasn’t really starting to happen, “he continued.

“They all said was hyperbolic and overwhelming. Rogan cautioned, adding: “This is not healthy. They tried to make it something it wasn’t.” Not all is perfect. “It is not all perfect.

Rajesh is a freelancer with a background in e-commerce marketing. Having spent her career in startups, He specializes in strategizing and executing marketing campaigns.

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Dive team joins search for person of interest in Gabby Petito’s death, Brian Laundrie

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Dive team joins search for person of interest in Gabby Petito’s death, Brian Laundrie

You can find the latest on the investigation involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie hereDownload the WFLA app for breaking news push alerts and sign up for breaking news email alerts.

VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) – Authorities in Sarasota County say they do not have Brian Laundrie in custody, despite social media rumors.

Search crews headed back to the Carlton Reserve in Venice on Wednesday to look for the 23-year-old. Around noon, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office SURF (Sheriff’s Underwater Recovery Force) team pulled up to the Carlton Reserve to assist with the search.

The sheriff’s office explained SURF Team members are divers who are called upon to search for evidence in bodies of water. According to North Port Police PIO Josh Taylor, it’s just part of the overall search process right now.

“At this time, this does not mean anything has been found,” he said.

North Port Police Commander Joe Fussell, who is leading the search at Carlton, said Wednesday law enforcement is “hungry” to find Laundrie.

“We’ve deployed numerous resources and we’re trying to cover every acre of this preserve,” he said.

Laundrie is the only person of interest in the death of Gabby Petito. Police say the 22-year-old woman from North Port disappeared while on a road trip with Laundrie. The Teton County coroner confirmed Tuesday a body found in Wyoming belongs to Petito. Her death has been ruled a homicide.

Law enforcement in Florida have been focusing their search efforts for Laundrie on the 25,000-acre nature reserve since Friday when Laundrie was reported missing by his family.

According to police, loved ones claim Laundrie left his North Port home to hike in Carlton Reserve on Tuesday, Sept. 14 and hasn’t been seen since.

Multiple agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, North Port Police Department and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission are involved in the search. Since the start, crews have been open about challenges they’re facing during their efforts.

“We’re expecting to get wet by the end of the day and check the entire area for Brian Laundrie,” Fussell said Tuesday.

According to officers, 75% of the area they’re searching is underwater. Resources involved in the search include ATVs, UTVs, drones and K-9s.

Police say during their days of searching in the reserve, they haven’t found any significant items.

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College Football Playoff expansion stalls as commissioners sort through issues

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College Football Playoff expansion stalls as commissioners sort through issues

A plan to expand the College Football Playoff stalled Wednesday when a key committee was unable to reach consensus on whether to grow the postseason format from four to 12 teams.

The 10 major college conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director who make up the management committee met to share feedback from their members and address concerns about the expansion proposal that was unveiled in June.

“As the committee moves forward, there remains issues to be discussed,” CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock said in a statement. “Given the complexity of these matters, the management committee will meet again in Chicago next week to continue our discussions.”

The meeting in the Dallas area, which was attended in person by some of the participants and virtually by others, was a prelude to the Chicago session that was supposed to include the CFP board of managers.

The board is comprised of university presidents and chancellors representing each conference. The board has final say in all matters related to the playoff and there was hope the management committee would bring the presidents a recommendation to approve a format change.

Instead, the management committee will reconvene next week, with the presidents joining via Zoom. No vote is expected.

Since the public rollout of the 12-team playoff plan, there have been concerns raised about components of the format, including the possibility of increasing the number of games in a season required to play for a championship to as much as 17. There were also concerns about the impact subsequent conference realignment could have on a new version of the CFP.

In July, the Southeastern Conference invited Texas and Oklahoma to leave the Big 12 and join the powerhouse league in 2025 after the Big 12’s current television contracts expire.

The Big 12 responded by inviting American Athletic Conference members Houston, Cincinnati and Central Florida to join the league along with BYU, which is a football independent that also competes in the West Coast Conference.

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Over 100 kittens, puppies rescued from ‘blind boxes’ in latest bust of China’s ‘mystery box’ craze

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mystery box craze

Over 100 cats and dogs being sold in “mystery boxes” were rescued in Shanghai on Monday, igniting new discussions on animal welfare and postal regulations in China.

Where they were found: The animals, which were mostly kittens, were found in front of a residential community in the Jiading district, according to reports. The boxes were believed to be abandoned by the courier company transporting them.

  • It’s unclear how long the boxes had been at the site. By the time volunteers arrived, the animals had been rained on, according to Jiemian News.
  • The area reportedly gave off a foul smell as some of the cats and dogs had died. Videos posted on Weibo show volunteers freeing the animals from their boxes and veterinarians immediately checking on their health.
  • Police officers also responded to the scene to investigate and help coordinate adoptions. As of 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, a total of 71 cats and 36 dogs had been taken home, the Global Times reported.

The bigger picture: Monday’s rescue comes months after over 100 cats and dogs were freed from similar conditions in Chengdu, Sichuan province. These animals are victims of so-called “mystery boxes,” an e-commerce shopping craze in China.

  • Mystery boxes, sometimes called “blind boxes,” reportedly contain anything from cheap toys to watches to smart phones. For as little as 32 yuan ($5), they may also surprise customers with live pets, CNN reported.
  • The Chengdu rescue, which took place on May 3, uncovered 156 crates of kittens and puppies. The animals were found in a truck run by delivery company ZTO Express, which has since apologized for its “misconduct” and closed the facility where the truck concealing the crates was found.
  • In September 2020, around 5,000 pets — including cats, dogs and rabbits — were found dead in boxes at a facility in Luohe, Henan province. Like the more recent cases, the animals were also supposed to be shipped.
  • Chinese law prohibits the transport of live animals through regular postal channels. For animals and animal products to be shipped by rail, highway, waterway or air, consignors must secure quarantine certificates and present them to carriers.
  • The Shanghai rescue sparked new discussions on animal welfare and postal regulations on Weibo. Many online condemned the responsible parties for their lack of compassion, while others called for the creation of new laws to protect pets.

What ZTO is saying: ZTO Express, which was fined 80,000 yuan (around $12,400) for the Chengdu case, was also blamed for the boxes found in Shanghai. On Tuesday afternoon, the company issued a statement claiming that it had nothing to do with the incident, according to Beijing Business Today.

  • ZTO Express said it reported the matter to police, providing information on cargo owners and carriers. The company also insisted that they followed postal regulations and that they “strictly prohibit” the delivery of cats, dogs and other pets throughout the company’s network.

The case remains under investigation.

Featured Image via 中国东方卫视官方频道China DragonTV Official (left), Sohu (right)

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Ferriabough Bolling: Mayoral candidates must earn minority vote

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Ferriabough Bolling: Mayoral candidates must earn minority vote

The preliminary election in Boston’s mayoral race is over, but some tough questions remain. Is Boston going backwards on race relations and Black empowerment? And I will scream if I hear “what the hell happened” or “that’s Boston for you” — all related to why an African American woman, including one already holding the seat as acting mayor — is not a candidate going into the final stretch.

One big reason is that voter turnout was anemic. In the Black community, at a time when we had the most to gain, we did not come out in the numbers we needed to win. Acting Mayor Kim Janey and City Councilor Andrea Campbell were neck-and-neck with 19.47% and 19.72% respectively — neither had enough to win. How many times have we seen that kind of split when multiple candidates of color have run for office? When will we be open to new and different strategies that strengthen our hand, similar to the way that Harold Washington was elected Chicago mayor in 1983 when he organized all of his opponents to gather around him.

As frustrating as the mayor’s race has been, the good news going forward is that the two finalists — Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George — will have to earn the Black and minority vote. I am hopeful that the minority community will not allow half steps or compromise on the many unmet needs in our communities that remain unaddressed.

And there’s more hopeful news — in addition to the mayoral race finalists who hail from a historic city council, the council continues to be a pipeline for diversity.

Haitian-American dynamo Ruthzee Louijeune is on the Nov. 2 ballot as an at-large candidate. In her first run for office she came in third, behind fellow at-large candidates Michael Flaherty who moved up the ladder to first place and Julia Mejia who came in second.

If Harvard Law grad and community activist Louijeune is victorious in the November final, she will be the first Haitian American ever to serve on the council.

And there could very well be another African American male on the council if Brian Worrell of District 4 and David Halbert, running for an at-large seat, make it in November. There hasn’t been an African American man on the council since Tito Jackson left in 2013.

Hopefully, the new mayor and the veteran and freshman members on the council will come together for the city, and not get hung up on politicizing issues or parsing words but rather develop new ideas to solve the issues that most impact the people they serve. Overanalyzing the details of rent control or rent stabilization does not solve the problems facing renters and small landlords alike. The same goes for policing. It would be ridiculous to let the definition of “defunding” stop us from implementing much-needed police reform. At the same time, we need more police, including more officers of color, on our streets.

With a new mayor and new members added to the city council, history can also be made in greater service and diversity that lifts our city to greater heights — even in the middle of a pandemic.


Joyce Ferriabough Bolling is a media and political strategist and communications specialist.

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Devil’s Advocate to open second location in Stillwater

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Devil’s Advocate to open second location in Stillwater

The former Famous Dave’s on the north side of Minnesota 36 in Stillwater will soon be home to a second location of Devil’s Advocate, which has been operating in downtown Minneapolis for nearly a decade.

The restaurant is known for its house-made pastas, pizzas and sandwiches.

“After nearly a decade of bringing our unique take on food & drink to Minneapolis, we are excited to announce that the Devil is coming to Stillwater in October,” owner Erik Forsberg said in a news release. “We have been searching for the perfect place to take the Devil’s Advocate experience and after years of looking at locations around the Twin Cities, we believe Stillwater is an ideal fit. This region has a great combination of savvy local residents and visitors from miles around. We’re looking forward to making Stillwater a little hotter.”

Forsberg also owns Dan Kelly’s Pub, Erik the Red, and Broadway Pizza franchises.

The space is undergoing renovations and the team expects a mid-October opening.

Devil’s Advocate: 14200 N. 60th St., Stillwater; devilsadvocatebar.com

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‘My son was bullied’: 11-year-old’s suicide has students, parents in Waterloo demanding action

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‘My son was bullied’: 11-year-old’s suicide has students, parents in Waterloo demanding action

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Controversy continued Tuesday at the Waterloo Central School District following an insensitive comment that was allegedly made by a staff member.

Waterloo students tell News 8 that the comment made light of suicide, just months after an area sixth grader took his own life.

Giovanni James Bourne, Gio, was just shy of his 12th birthday when he died by suicide last June.

“This is the most difficult thing I have ever been through … my whole family has ever been through,” said Angelicia Smith, Gio’s mother. 

“From the outside in it looks like I’m really brave and I want to just… I want to be very clear: I’m not always brave. I have my moments when I break down and it’s okay to do that. And I want everyone to know that is okay to break down. You don’t have to always look from the exterior, like you’re brave and taking everything with stride,” Smith said while talking about Gio’s story.

Smith said her 11-year-old was an “extremely intelligent” young boy who always talked about space and math. But she said he was also very active and the pandemic was difficult for him.

In late June, around 12:30 in the afternoon, Smith and her daughter found Gio. She said leading up to his death, he had been bullied by kids over social media. 

“There was one a few incidences where somebody told him to go kill himself over the phone. During his game, playing his game… the same thing. Just a ton of cyber bullying that was going on, you know, so unfortunately, it wasn’t in the actual school, but still with school students,” Smith said. 

Since Gio’s death, some students and parents say not enough has been done by the school district to address bullying. Just last week, a staff member was criticized for allegedly making insensitive comments regarding suicide. 

Smith said her daughter called her to tell her. 

“She called me very upset, telling me that a teacher was making a quote unquote, ‘joke.’ That if you’re feeling suicidal… just eat a cookie and everything will be OK,” Smith said. “My heart dropped. I had to pull my car over and kind of deal with the feelings that I was feeling at the moment.”

Smith went to high school to pick up her daughter and she recorded her interaction over Facebook live. The video ended up going viral. 

Following the video and the alleged comment that was made by a staff member, hundreds of parents and students protested outside of the high school Friday. They demanded the district does more and called on the staff member to resign. 

Senior student Colby Tears was one of the students who planned the gathering. 

“We need change in our schools, jokes like suicide shouldn’t be even accepted in school… there shouldn’t even be any jokes about suicide,” Tears said. “We wanted our message to come across. We made sure that when we met in the morning we told everyone to remain peaceful, that we weren’t doing this just for ourselves. We were doing this for everyone like Gio, that the bullying needs to stop.”

Then on Monday, Tears said he and about 30 other students held an in-school, silent protest. 

“We sat in the main lobby, right in front of the school, and we all just huddled. We stayed together, we linked arms. Right after the morning announcements, the principal, Miss. Madonna, came out and basically told us that she likes that we were doing a sit-in, but that it wasn’t the time or place to do it. That if she wanted if we wanted to do a sit-in, that we could do one during lunch,” Smith said. 

“We all looked around each other and we just looked back at her and we stayed silent. We sat there. She told us that if we continue to stay there and we didn’t go to class, that she would start calling parents and that we would get suspended. Again, we all looked at each other and we all agreed, most of us agreed, on that we were OK with being suspended,” he said.

Tears said he and many other students were suspended because of this protest. Tears was suspended for five days, but he still doesn’t plan on backing down.

“We are going to demand change. And we’re going to continue until change has been brought about,” Tears said. 

Parents of students were also suspended from district grounds following Friday’s protest. Smith said she can’t go back to the school until June, which is difficult because she has a daughter still attending class there.

According to a note on Waterloo Central School District’s website, parents have been suspended because the protest got out of hand:

“Friday’s protest caused a significant disruption to school activities and cannot recur,” the district note said. “The protest went on for several hours and caused substantial fear to the school community. Students shouted obscenities at the administrators who were outside supervising them. Students marched around the high school and middle school campus pounding on windows and shouting, causing a substantial disruption to the instruction that was going on in the building. Students inside the school who were not protesting outside or who came inside because they were made to feel uncomfortable with the tone the protest took, shared with teachers they were being berated and bullied by the student protestors outside of school. Many of these students expressed concern about returning to school on Monday to face these classmates.”

However, Smith and Tears both say the protest was peaceful.

“I do believe that there was an isolated incident and that person was told to stop and they did immediately. You’re always going to have someone in the crowd that’s not going to follow what they’re supposed to do. That’s normal. That’s normal behavior, but to take one person and claim that it was everyone, that’s just a lie,” Smith said.

After seeing what many students have done to honor Gio, Smith says she is proud. However, she also said that this shows her son is not the only one who is experiencing forms of bullying. 

“I don’t blame the school completely. However, I do blame the school for not taking accountability for their part in the bullying. My daughter was bullied, my son was bullied, my nephew was bullied,” Smith said. 

My son was bullied 11 year olds suicide has students parents in

“They say that you’re you’re bigger in numbers, right? You’re more important in numbers? Well, we have a really large number of people saying the same thing. I would think that they would look inside themselves and say, okay, we must be the problem, we probably should start changing things, and accepting that we made some mistakes, and mistakes are okay, as long as you’re willing to fix them.” 

The Waterloo Central School District did not return a request for comment on Wednesday about the suspended students. But on Monday the district released this statement:

“Although Waterloo Central School District unwaveringly supports rights to free speech, the exercise of such rights cannot infringe on the rights of others, disrupt the instructional day, be insubordinate or otherwise violate the District’s Code of Conduct. Moving forward, should such an incident recur, the District will have no choice but to enforce its Code of Conduct and take disciplinary action against participating students.”

The district has “limited access” to the school for adults who violated its code of conduct during the protest. They will be allowed on school property for “legitimate purposes” as long as they provide written confirmation they will follow the code of conduct.

Note from the Waterloo Central School District, September 18

We recognize that the protest on Friday reflected the community’s pain and emotions are high. As educators, we now speak to the conduct we witnessed and explain the ways we have adapted to support all families over the past five years and moving forward.

On Friday, September 17th, a small group of adults and some students participated in a protest on school grounds during school hours regarding issues related to student suicide and an alleged insensitive statement by a staff member. Friday’s protest caused a significant disruption to school activities and cannot recur. The protest went on for several hours and caused substantial fear to the school community. Students shouted obscenities at the administrators who were outside supervising them. Students marched around the high school and middle school campus pounding on windows and shouting, causing a substantial disruption to the instruction that was going on in the building. Students inside the school who were not protesting outside or who came inside because they were made to feel uncomfortable with the tone the protest took, shared with teachers they were being berated and bullied by the student protestors outside of school. Many of these students expressed concern about returning to school on Monday to face these classmates.

There were no incidents of bullying reported to any staff at Waterloo Middle School related to any organizer’s child. Had such concerns been brought to the District’s attention, it would have followed its Dignity for All Students Act policy, as well as Education Law requirements. The District takes seriously issues surrounding mental health, bullying and suicide, and strives to provide a safe and healthy environment for students to learn. We welcome a meaningful and productive dialogue toward the goal of moving the District forward in a positive direction.

Over the past five years to support the whole child and help students deal with the societal issues they face every day, including peer interactions, poverty, mental health and drug abuse, the Waterloo Central School District has:
• added several Seneca County Mental Health Counselors to its staff in addition to two full time Social Worker
• updated curriculum in Health classes and added a 6th grade class in Health
• reinstated an advisory period at the secondary level to connect students and staff with each other for support
• added the Second Step Program in Grades K-8 and the PBIS program district wide
• hired an additional School Nurse, Director of Social Emotional Learning Coordination, and a Restorative Justice/Academic Dean Teacher on Special Assignment, District Wellness Coordinator and Building Wellness Coordinators for each school in the district
• participated in Year 2 of 3 of the Improving School Culture and Climate grant with Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES focused on Social Emotional Learning, Mental Health First Aid, and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support
• trained staff in Second Step, PBIS, Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI), Teen Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid
• trained teams of staff from every building in Trauma Illness and Grief (TIG) to create TIG teams in each building and the district level to respond to any incidents of trauma, illness, or grief
• created a district wide TIG response manual for all building teams to use during TIG events
• added after school programming and increased extra-curricular activities and electives at the secondary level in all areas to engage students
• expanded hands on and technology programming available to students through Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES, including the New Visions and P-TECH Programs
• expanded its UPK Program to a full day program with transportation for four-year old students
• provided wrap around extended school day programming free of charge to all students in both
elementary schools
• provided a free breakfast and lunch to every child who needs it
• participated in the Food-link Trevor’s Gift Backpack program run by community volunteers every week, delivering food to families with food instability so they have food on the weekends to feed their school-aged children
• supported students in the creation of Bailey’s Boutique last spring, which provides students free of charge clothing, shoes, coats, toiletries, school supplies, school spirit wear, food, personal hygiene items and many other items donated by the Waterloo community

Although Waterloo Central School District unwaveringly supports rights to free speech, the exercise of such rights cannot infringe on the rights of others, disrupt the instructional day, be insubordinate or otherwise violate the District’s Code of Conduct.

Moving forward, should such an incident recur, the District will have no choice but to enforce its Code of Conduct and take disciplinary action against participating students. The District has also temporarily limited access to adults who have violated its Code of Conduct. While the District has no interest in restricting community member or parent access to its property, it is obligated by law to maintain and uphold its Code of Conduct and keep students safe. Adults whose access has been limited due to the September 17th incident will be permitted to access school property for legitimate purposes moving forward upon written confirmation that they will comply with the District’s Code of Conduct. Student safety and well-being is the District’s priority.

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SLU cancels Friday classes following student deaths

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SLU cancels Friday classes following student deaths

ST. LOUIS – Saint Louis University has canceled all undergraduate classes scheduled for Friday following the deaths of two students in recent weeks.

According to our news partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the first student death occurred on the evening of Sept. 11. The second death took place Sept. 21 inside a residence hall.

In a letter to the SLU community, university leadership made the decision to cancel Friday classes after students called for increased focus on mental health, as well as emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

At 3 p.m. Wednesday, the university will hold a prayer service at St. Francis Xavier College Church.

Faculty experts have informed leadership that the campus community could face future bouts of grief in the weeks to come, and the university says it will have a plan in place to “honor that time and need” for support.

SLU offers crisis resources for students in need of mental health assistance via the Saint Louis University Counseling Center. The university also has resources and information for students to seek help outside of normal campus hours.

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Broncos podcast: Denver seeks first 3-0 start in five years against Jets, plus analysis on key injuries and predictions

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Broncos podcast: Denver seeks first 3-0 start in five years against Jets, plus analysis on key injuries and predictions


Ryan O’Halloran

| Broncos reporter

Ryan O’Halloran is in his second season covering the Broncos for The Post and his 16th year overall covering the NFL. A native of North Dakota and graduate of Kansas State, O’Halloran previously covered the Washington Redskins for eight years, primarily at The Washington Times, and the Jacksonville Jaguars for six years at The Florida Times-Union. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors seven times for his work.

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The Spoiler-Free Guide to Everything You Need to Know About ‘Dune’ (If You’ve Never Read the Books)

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The Spoiler-Free Guide to Everything You Need to Know About ‘Dune’ (If You’ve Never Read the Books)
Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ Dune. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures

Author Frank Herbert penned six novels set in his sprawling Dune universe from 1965-1985. Starting in 1999, his son Brian Herbert and author Kevin J. Anderson published several prequel and sequel novels. The Duniverse now encompasses 21 books (with more to come), a series of video games, and a number of on-screen adaptations. The tapestry of this fictional world stretches back nearly six decades and the content is an intricately woven tale of intergalactic politics, theology, and social hierarchies. So you’d be forgiven if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and unprepared for Warner Bros.’ blockbuster Dune movie, starring Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya, set to debut in the United States in theaters and on HBO Max on October 22. Director Denis Villeneuve’s movie only deals with the first half of the first book, which gives you a sense of how much there is to learn.

Given the density of the layered source material and the millions of potential new fans who may not be familiar with the books, we’ve turned to Dune expert Scott Brick, the acclaimed audiobook narrator for the Dune series for the last 20 years, to relay everything we need to know before leaping into this fantastical world.

What are the key details fans who haven’t read the books need to know before they see Dune? 

They key thing to realize is that the book’s scope is almost Shakespearean. There’s drama, there’s tragedy, there’s life, there’s death, as in most stories. And yet in Shakespeare, there is court drama with machinations and plotting against one another. Dune is set in the distant future, but in many ways it’s a return to the past because life has returned to this feudal system with royalty, royal house, and nobility. There’s nobility and and then you have the peons and peasants, the people who actually do the living and dying and the working and suffering. It’s the kind of story that shows us that the more things change, the more things stay the same. How socioeconomic divides and separation can lead to revolutions, if not these completely divergent cycles of life for different peoples.

Who are the major players we need to know?

Paul Atreides [Chalamet], heir to House Atreides ruled by his father Duke Leto [Oscar Isaac], is the main character. They are a noble house and while most noble houses are obsessed with preserving the monarchy and enriching themselves, he comes from a noble family that doesn’t care about those things. His father, Duke Leto, is more concerned with what is right than what is good for the House. He cares more about the people under his stewardship. Lady Jessica [Rebecca Ferguson] is his concubine and much is made of the fact that he never married her. She is Paul’s mother.

Then there’s House Harkonnen. They were previously the best of friends with House Atreides, bonded Kinsman, until about 10,000 years ago when a rift began. Vladimir Harkonnen [Stellan Skarsgård] leads the House now and is a main antagonist. Dune embraces the concept of love and hatred that grows over generations. These ancient political alignments play a key role.

The Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV of House Corrino [who is not yet cast but will certainly appear in part 2, if it gets made] is the ruler of the universe, or the Imperium. He runs the show and he’s rather capricious. He supposedly does what is best for the Imperium, but is more focused primarily on what is best for his House. He’s the one who assigns Duke Leto of House Atreides to serve as the ruler of the desert planet Arrakis, which was previously under the rule of House Harkonnen. Is he doing this for a good reason or a bad reason?

Arrakis is the only source of melange, or “spice,” in the universe. This is the all important commodity that makes the Imperium run and it’s only found on Arrakis, a harsh desert planet colonized 10,000 years ago, perhaps even earlier, by Arab descendants. Arrakis is home to the native Fremen, who mine the spice that is tied to the giant sandworms of the planet and are treated like slaves.

Why is the spice so important?

It’s a life preservative in many ways. It enhances mental clarity and extends your lifespan. People put spice in their coffee, in their wine, everything and become essentially addicted to spice. As such, people are willing to pay almost any price and it only comes from one planet. So whoever rules Arrakis essentially rules the universe and ultimately, the story comes down to who will rule?

What are the major themes audiences can expect from Dune?

One is the ascension to manhood. How does one go from being a child to an adult? How does one take on the mantle of power when it’s thrust upon them? Are they ready for that challenge? Without getting into too many details, one of the relationships in the book gets broken and I find it very similar to when Shakespeare wrote Hamlet after his son had died. So how do you become the best version of yourself when you’re grieving?

Frank Herbert also wanted people to be aware of the danger of an all-powerful leader. Even if they are a good leader, and Paul is, Frank wanted people to be aware that giving someone absolute power, even if they have the best of intentions and are good people, is not good for humanity.

Given all the detailed texture of Dune, how do you translate the size of the book to the limited running time of a movie?

I think the producers got the first step right—you break it up into two films. Look at The GodfatherThe Godfather and its sequel were both taken from the same book. But they realized that one two hour, even two and a half or three hour film, isn’t going to be enough to do the entire book. So they made it two. They did the same thing back in the 1970s with the Three Musketeers.

First of all, you give it time. This series is about time. It is a multi-generational fan. So you give it the time that it deserves and then you hire a brilliant director like Denis Villeneuve. This is a guy who understands epic and scope. That’s a really great start.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

The Spoiler-Free Guide to Everything You Need to Know About ‘Dune’ (If You’ve Never Read the Books)

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Study: Asians face harsher punishment than Westerners in espionage cases

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espionage cases

Committee of 100 (C100), a non-profit organization that promotes U.S. and China relations, has released a study that concludes espionage defendants with Asian and especially Chinese names face harsher punishment than those with Western ones.

Racial disparities: The study, titled “Racial Disparities in Economic Espionage Act Prosecutions: A Window into the New Red Scare,” analyzed 190 cases involving 276 individuals accused of espionage between 1996 to 2020, according to Committee 100. The investigated cases were recorded in the Federal PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system.

  • The report concluded that 1 in 3 Asian Americans may have been falsely accused of espionage under the Economic Espionage Act (EEA). Additionally, 27% of individuals charged under EEA were not convicted of any crimes, while 6% of Asian Americans “were convicted only of process offenses like false statements.”
  • The number of defendants of Chinese descent accused of EEA offenses grew from 16% of total cases from before 2009 to making up more than a majority of total cases in the seven-year period after 2009, South China Morning Post reported.
  • While the Trump administration introduced a program in 2018 that would “identify and prosecute those engaged in trade secret theft, hacking and economic espionage” called the “China Initiative,” which was focused on professors and academics of Chinese descent working in American universities,  the concern toward Chinese spies stealing American trade secrets such issues was already widespread during the Obama administration, Committee of 100’s white paper read.
  • News stories focused more on spies for the Chinese government over the years, but the study found that there are nearly as many domestic espionage cases as international ones. The report stated 46% of alleged theft happened for the benefit of China, and 42% of the defendants were charged for stealing trade secrets for the benefit of an American business or person.

Jail sentence: About 49% of defendants with Western names were only sentenced to probation with no incarceration, while 75% of Asian defendants were sent to prison. However, the report also discovered that Chinese defendants were punished more severely and received an average of 27 months of imprisonment than those with other Asian names at 23 months and Western names at 12 months.

  • The Committee of 100’s report also revealed the majority of defendants with Western names received a formal letter summoning them to court, and 32% were arrested with handcuffs. In contrast, 69% of defendants of Asian descent and 78% of Chinese defendants were made aware they were charged during their arrest, which often includes being handcuffed.
  • There’s no judgment of innocence in our justice system, but these people were never proven guilty of any crimes,” lawyer Andrew Chongseh Kim, who co-led the report, said. “They may have been innocent the entire time.”

Spies in universities: Faculty members and staff of universities have also been subjected to accusations of espionage, but the report found the defendants rarely faced charges related to the allegations.

  • Dr. Anming Hu, a former associate professor at the University of Tennessee, was investigated in March 2018 for being a Chinese spy. Kujtim Sadiku, the FBI agent investigating the professor, admitted federal agents had falsely accused Hu of espionage during a trial in June.
  • A group of 177 Stanford professors from over 40 departments wrote an open letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Sept. 8 asking to put a stop to the “Chinese Initiative” program that helps fuel “biases that, in turn, raise concerns about racial profiling,” The Hill reported.

Featured Image Bjoertvedt via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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