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Jimmy Hoffa investigation: Frank Sheeran and blood evidence found in the case

It all started, and ended, on this day 42 years ago.

It was a hot July afternoon, nearly 92 degrees, when Teamsters president and labor icon Jimmy Hoffa is said to have opened the rear door of a 1975 maroon Mercury in the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and climbed in.

He was never seen again.

The FBI has expended countless resources in the ensuing decades in the hopes of finally solving this enduring American mystery with no success.

But I believe, based on my 2004 investigation, that Frank Sheeran did it.

“Suspects Outside of Michigan: Francis Joseph “Frank” Sheeran, age 43, president local 326, Wilmington, Delaware. Resides in Philadelphia and is known associate of Russel Bufalino, La Cosa Nostra Chief, Eastern Pennsylvania,” reads the 1976 HOFFEX memo, the compilation of everything investigators knew about Hoffa’s disappearance that was prepared for a high level, secret conference at FBI headquarters six months after he vanished.

Sheeran, known as “The Irishman,” told me that he drove with Hoffa to a nearby house where he shot him twice in the back of the head. Our investigation subsequently yielded the corroboration, the suspected blood evidence on the hardwood floor and down the hallway of that house, that supports Frank’s story.

No one who has ever boasted about knowing what really happened to Jimmy Hoffa has had their claims tested, scrutinized, and then corroborated by independently discovered evidence… except Frank.

He is also the only one of the FBI’s dozen suspects who has ever come forward and talked publicly about the killing, let alone admit involvement.

Every other claim that you have ever heard about, from Hoffa being buried in the end zone of Giants Stadium to being entombed under a strip of highway asphalt somewhere, came from people who were never on the bureau’s list of people suspected of actual involvement.

For that reason, Frank stands alone.

Six weeks after Hoffa disappeared, Frank, along with the other suspects, was summoned before the Detroit grand jury investigating the case. He took the Fifth.

When I met him in the spring of 2001, Frank freely talked.

My meeting with Frank was arranged so that I could take his measure, and he mine, for a possible in-depth investigation, interview and news story about his claims. He was accompanied by his former lawyer Charlie Brandt, the author of Frank’s then-proposed biography, which tells the Hoffa story. Charlie had been able to spring Frank from a Mafia-related federal racketeering prison sentence, and for that reason was taken into Frank’s confidence.

It would be three years before the book, “I Hear You Paint Houses: Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran And Closing The Case On Jimmy Hoffa” would be published by Steerforth Press, and before the first of my many news stories about Frank, and our investigation, would air on television.

His story is this: He and others were ordered by the Mafia to kill Hoffa to prevent him from trying to run again for the presidency of the Teamsters union. Hoffa had resigned after serving prison time for jury tampering, attempted bribery and fraud convictions. Frank picked Hoffa up at the restaurant, accompanied by two others, to supposedly drive Hoffa to a mob meeting. When they walked into the empty house together, with Frank a step behind Hoffa, he raised his pistol at point-blank range and fired two fatal shots into his unsuspecting target, turned around and left. He said the body was then dragged down the hall by two awaiting accomplices, and that he was later told Hoffa was cremated at a mob-connected funeral home.

Frank had an imposing, old-school mobster way about him that even his advanced years — he was 80 — did not betray. His menacing aura was not diminished by a severe case of arthritis that crippled him so badly that he was hunched over when he slowly walked with two canes, struggling to put one foot in front of the other.

I found Frank tough, determined, steely.

As I listened to his matter-of-fact recounting of what he said went down at that house, and giving such detail, I remember thinking what he was saying could actually be true.

Here’s why:

There is no doubt that Frank was a close confidant of Hoffa, someone who Hoffa trusted. And Hoffa didn’t trust very many.

Frank was both a long-time top Teamsters Union official in Delaware as well as an admitted Bufalino crime family hit-man and top aide to the boss himself.

The FBI admits that Frank was “known to be in Detroit area at the time of JRH disappearance, and considered to be a close friend of JRH,” as the HOFFEX memo states.

Hoffa’s son, current Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, told me in September 2001 that his father would have gotten into the car with Frank. He said that his father would not have taken that ride with some of the other FBI suspects whom I mentioned.

Frank, in the book, says that he sat in the front passenger seat of the car as a subtle warning to Hoffa, who habitually sat there. He felt a deep friendship and loyalty to Hoffa, yet knew what his own fate would be if he failed to carry out the lethal order from his mob masters. So he sat in the front seat hoping Hoffa would realize something was wrong. He did not.

The FBI did find “a single three-inch brown hair . . . in the rear seat back rest” of that car that matches Hoffa, and three dogs picked up “a strong indication of JRH scents in the rear right seat.”

I asked Frank if he remembered how to get to the house. I thought finding where Hoffa was killed, and investigating everything about the house, could be key to the case. Frank rattled off the driving directions from the restaurant and described the house’s interior layout.

Killers may not remember an exact address of a murder scene, but they never forget how they got there and what they did when they arrived.

“Sheeran gave us the directions,” Charlie wrote in the book. “This was the first time he had ever revealed the directions to me. His deepened voice and hard demeanor was chilling, when, for the first time ever, he stated publicly to someone other than me that he had shot Jimmy Hoffa.”

A year after our meeting, Charlie and Frank drove to Detroit to try to find the house, and when they did Frank pointed it out to Charlie. They did not go in.

Three years later, in 2004, I, along with producer Ed Barnes and Charlie, first stepped foot into the foyer where Frank said he shot Hoffa, looked around the first floor and as it turned out, Frank’s description fit the interior to a tee.

Ed and I arranged with the homeowners to actually take up the foyer and hallway floorboards and remove the press-on vinyl floor tiles that they had put down over the original hardwood floors when they bought the house in 1989.

We hired a forensic team of retired Michigan state police investigators to try to find any blood evidence. They sprayed the chemical luminol on the floors, which homicide detectives routinely use to discover the presence of blood.

We found it.

The testing revealed a specific pattern of blood evidence, laid out like a map of clues to the nation’s most infamous unsolved murder. Little yellow numbered tags were placed throughout the first floor foyer and hallway, to mark each spot where the investigators’ testing yielded positive hits.

The pattern certainly told the story of how Hoffa was killed.

The greatest amount of positive hits were found right next to the front door, where Hoffa’s bleeding head would have hit the floor.

Seven more tags lined the narrow hallway toward the rear kitchen, marking the drops that perfectly mimic Frank’s story of Hoffa’s lifeless body being dragged to the kitchen by the two waiting accomplices, who then stuffed it into a body bag and carried it out the back kitchen door.

We arranged for the Oakland County prosecutor’s office to remove the floorboards for DNA testing by the FBI, though Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca cautioned that it would be “a miracle” if Hoffa’s DNA was recovered.

I knew those odds. A DNA hit was beyond a long shot.

Experts told me that such tiny samples of genetic material, degraded by the passage of 29 years and exposure to air and the elements under a homeowner’s heavily trafficked floor, would likely not provide enough material to result in a DNA match.

The FBI lab report says that chemical tests were conducted on 50 specimens; 28 tested positive for the possible presence of blood, and DNA was only recovered from two samples.

The FBI compared what was recovered to the DNA from a known strand of Hoffa’s hair. One sample was found to be “of male origin,” but it was not determined from whom. The other result was “largely inconclusive.”

Was I disappointed that a DNA match was not possible? Yes. Was I surprised? No. Did I think this disproved Frank’s claim? No.

Think about it.

What are the chances of any random house in America testing positive for blood traces from more than two dozen samples, in the exact pattern that corroborates a man’s murder confession?

What would luminol reveal under your home’s floor?

There are other reasons to believe why Frank’s scenario fits.

The house was most likely empty on that fateful summer day. It was built in the 1920’s and owned for five decades by a single woman, Martha Sellers, a teacher and department store employee. By the summer of 1975, Sellers was in her 80s, and not even living there full time. Her family told The Detroit News and Free Press that she had bought another home in Plymouth, Mich., where she would move permanently the next year.

Frank says that a man he called “a real estater” lived in the house. The Sellers family remembered that boarder, who they recalled resided in an upstairs bedroom. He was described as “a shadowy figure . . . who would disappear. He never said more than a few words and they know nothing about him, not even his name.”

It is quite possible that “the real estater,” was the link between the house and the Detroit mob, providing an empty house as needed, when Sellers was absent, for whatever purpose…including using it as a Mafia hit house to murder Jimmy Hoffa.

The FBI clearly believed Sheeran had credibility.  Agents visited him in his final years, in an unsuccessful attempt to secure his cooperation.

While we were conducting our investigation in Detroit in 2004, the FBI, I was told, tried to find the house even before we aired our story.

And the views of those closest to Jimmy Hoffa, his son and daughter seem especially relevant when assessing Frank’s credibility.

Not only did James P. Hoffa confirm that his father would have driven off with Frank, but his sister, Hoffa’s daughter, Barbara Crancer, wrote Frank a poignant letter begging him to come clean about their father’s fate.

In the one-page heartfelt note, handwritten to Frank on March 5, 1995, she wrote:

“It is my personal belief that there are many people who called themselves loyal friends who know what happened to James R. Hoffa, who did it and why. The fact that not one of them has ever told his family — even under a vow of secrecy, is painful to me…”

She then underlined: “I believe you are one of those people.”

Crancer confirmed to me that she wrote that letter.

Sadly for the Hoffa family, Frank never directly honored her request. When I sat with him, he said that his No. 1 priority was not to go back to “college,” meaning prison. He decided that the best way to avoid that possibility, while also revealing his story, was to share his secrets for the book and my reporting.

Frank died on Dec. 14, 2003. He was 83.

While authorities no doubt will continue to respond to more tips, as they should, I believe that we already know what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.

Frank described the most precise and credible scenario yet to be recounted, and the evidence that we found from the floor backs up his confession.

In the more than four decades since, Hoffa’s life and legacy as a pivotal part of the American labor movement has been somewhat overshadowed by his disappearance. But it seems clear that organized crime bosses did not want him to resume the mantle of the Teamster’s presidency, and went to the ultimate length, through Sheeran, to prevent his return.

Today Hoffa’s union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, represents 1.4 million workers and continues to be headed  by his son. Two years ago a milestone was marked in the attempts to shed any specter of possible organized crime.  In 2015, Federal Judge Loretta Preska approved the Department of Justice and union agreement that ended the U.S. government oversight of the Teamsters that had lasted for more than 25 years.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York at the time, Preet Bharara, said that the union had made “significant progress” in “ridding…the influence of organized crime and corruption,” though he cautioned that “the threat…persists.”

Hoffa called it “an historic agreement…our union is committed to the democratic process, and we can proudly declare that corrupt elements have been driven from the Teamsters.”

Sadly, it was those corrupt elements that took the life of his father as he tried to take back his union.

“Jimmy Hoffa raised millions of workers and their families out of poverty and into the middle class, noted the Teamsters Union in a statement to Fox News.

He gave his life while fighting to remove corrupt elements from the union and return power to the members. This tragic anniversary is particularly difficult on his family who lost a father and grandfather much too soon. They want nothing more than to have the closure that they so deserve.”

Franks story will be told in a major motion picture, The Irishman, starring Robert De Niro as Frank and directed by Martin Scorsese. Tribeca Films and Sikelia Productions, in association with Netflix, will bring this story to the big screen and the streaming service in 2018. Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel are said to also have roles, uniting the legendary actors of the genre in one last mob movie.  I am proud of pushing the film idea, which will no doubt become an iconic motion picture.

Follow Eric Shawn on Twitter: @EricShawnTV

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/07/30/jimmy-hoffa-investigation-frank-sheeran-and-blood-evidence-found-in-case.html

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Cabinet tensions rise as West Wing goes through (another) shakeup

Washington (CNN)Several lingering personnel challenges facing the President, the mounting frustration of GOP congressional leaders and an August travel schedule that might make it easier for White House handymen — it’s all covered in our Inside Politics forecast.

1) Kelly is in — but other staff and Cabinet tensions remain

Hiring a new chief of staff doesn’t mean the Trump administration’s personnel tensions are over.
    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is frustrated at what he views as White House meddling in policy decisions that should be his. Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, is not always on the same page as Tillerson — or top White House strategist Stephen Bannon. Then there is the President’s open frustration with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
    Michael Bender of The Wall Street Journal also noted the question of how the new chief of staff and his disciplined military approach will mesh with the brash new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci.
    “He’s got to figure out if he’s got to rein in Anthony Scaramucci. Is he going to stop belittling Jeff Sessions?”
    “Rex Tillerson is very frustrated that the White House is running more and more of the foreign policy out of the White House — and H.R. McMaster, he’s not gelling with Tillerson, he’s not gelling with Steve Bannon and has been rebuffed by the President himself on request for modest increases in troops in Afghanistan,” Bender said.

    2) Recess appointments advice close at hand for President

    Key GOP members of Congress made clear to President Trump this week that they wanted him to back off his criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and just as clear they were in no mood to consider a replacement.
    One option the President has discussed with some advisers is his power to make a recess appointment when the Senate is not in session.
    Republicans are warning the President against such a strategy.
    Michael Warren of The Weekly Standard noted there are two experts on the issue in the Trump administration. But there’s a twist:
    “Two of the top lawyers in the administration are somewhat of experts on this topic. Noah Francisco, who is in the Department of Justice right now. He’s the nominee to be solicitor general and James Burnham, who’s one of the White House counsel lawyers, they both argued in front of the Supreme Court two years ago actually against the Obama administration and their attempt to make recess appointments,” Warren said.
    “Those were some people that I imagine the President is, you know, calling on for counsel on what to do if he decides to go ahead and do a recess appointment.”

    3) The President plans August travel — but where?

    President Trump wants to get out of Washington a fair amount in August, spending some time traveling the country as well as at his New Jersey golf resort.
    Where the President goes is an open question — as is whether we will see a different approach.
    We know the President loves campaign-style ralles.
    But CNN’s Sara Murray notes there has been a flood of GOP criticism that Trump has not used his travels, and his bully pulpit, to advance key policy initiatives. “The thing to watch is whether the President has learned any lessons from this health care defeat,” Murray remarks.
    “What does he do when he is on the road? Does he try to sell specific agenda items? Does he try to sell specific elements of tax reform? Or do we get the same sort of kitchen sink, slam at the media, rants about whatever he’s feeling that day and maybe do a little hat tip to tax reform along the way?”

    4) Trouble at the top? Allies of the speaker and the majority leader describe mounting frustration

    Relations between President Trump and the top two Republicans in Congress, never warm and fuzzy, appear to be taking a turn for the worse.
    Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are both described by close colleagues and allies as frustrated by presidential behavior they find unhelpful, not to mention unpredictable. Nothing new there, really, but the cumulative effect — and the calendar — are adding weight to the dynamic.
    The White House openly and forcefully beat back a top Ryan priority in tax reform negotiations, plus Ryan ally, Reince Preibus, was just forced out as White House chief of staff.
    For McConnell, the weekend included a series of presidential tweets suggesting GOP senators were fools for not passing an Obamacare repeal plan and that the leader was not making the best use of his power.
    In public, the leaders tend to be polite when it comes to the President. And as they worry about his dismal approval ratings and its impact on the 2018 midterms, neither is under the illusion the President is going to change his ways. But Ryan and McConnell allies are more vocal in their criticism of the President, which is telling.
    Take the weekend tweeting of John Holmes, a former McConnell chief of staff who remains loyal to the majority leader.
    Responding to the President’s tweets offering Senate strategy advice to McConnell, Holmes countered: “Instead of searching for the leaker, search for the idiot who keeps putting the President on irrelevant and counterproductive crusades.”

    5) Know a good handyman? The White House has some work coming

    New Chief of Staff John Kelly can expect his first month on the job to be loud — even if his arrival calms the West Wing infighting that has plagued the Trump White House from the beginning.
    A busy schedule of summer maintenance is on tap, and getting underway just as Kelly takes his prime West Wing real estate.
    Margaret Talev of Bloomberg Politics detailed some of the coming fixes that will add to Kelly’s transition challenge.
    “They’re doing repairs to the HVAC system — which is 27 years old so it needs to be replaced. There was a leak in the roof the other day. They’ve got to do paint, carpeting, wiring, so all of these offices are going to move temporarily to the EEOB (Eisenhower Executive Office Building),” Talev said.
    “So on top of all the actual structural challenges, he’s going to have some geographic challenges as well.”

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/30/politics/ip-forecast-west-wing-shakeup-effect-on-gop-governing/index.html

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    Hamburg Stabbing Suspect Known as Radical, Mentally Unstable

    Berlin (AP) — A Palestinian man who allegedly stabbed one person to death and wounded six others in Hamburg was known to authorities as a suspected Islamic radical but was also considered psychologically unstable, German officials said Saturday.

    The suspect, a 26-year-old who had no identity papers other than a birth certificate showing he was born in the United Arab Emirates, was quickly overwhelmed by passers-by and arrested after Friday's attack at a supermarket in Hamburg's Barmbek district.

    He was not named by authorities in keeping with Germany privacy laws.

    The man's motive remained unclear Saturday but he is believed to have acted alone and there are no indications he had links to any network, Hamburg state interior minister Andy Grote said.

    A judge issued a formal arrest warrant Saturday that keeps the suspect in custody pending possible charges of murder and five counts of attempted murder, Hamburg prosecutors' spokeswoman Nana Frombach told the dpa news agency.

    She said officials next week will consider whether federal prosecutors, who handle terrorism cases in Germany, should take over the case.

    Police said the suspect grabbed a kitchen knife with a 20-centimeter (nearly 8-inch) blade from a supermarket shelf on Friday afternoon and stabbed three men, one of them fatally. He then left the supermarket and hurt another three people outside, not all of them with the knife. Passers-by then pursued and overwhelmed him and he was arrested by police.

    An additional person was slightly hurt when she fell in the tumult, police said.

    Grote said none of the wounded was being treated for life-threatening injuries Saturday, although some were seriously hurt. He and Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz toured the site of the attack, talked to witnesses and met with one of the hospitalized victims.

    The suspect arrived in Germany in March 2015 after stops in Spain, Sweden and Norway. His asylum request was rejected late last year and authorities were trying to secure new Palestinian papers to deport him — a process in which they said he had cooperated.

    Officials said he was on their radar as a suspected Islamic radical but not as a "jihadist."

    A friend had tipped authorities off to changes in the man, telling them that he stopped drinking alcohol and started talking about the Quran, said Torsten Voss, head of the Hamburg branch of Germany's domestic intelligence agency.

    Officials interviewed the man and came away with the impression he was a "destabilized personality" but not an immediate danger, Voss said.

    "We evaluated him rather as someone who was psychologically unstable than had clear Islamic extremist motivations," Voss said at a news conference.

    A search of the man's room at an asylum-seekers' center turned up no weapons.

    The suspect hasn't yet talked about Friday's attack, prosecutor Joerg Froehlich said, although he has indicated that he acted alone.

    ___

    Associated Press reporter George Jahn contributed from Vienna

      Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-29/hamburg-stabbing-suspect-known-as-radical-mentally-unstable

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      Selena Gomez Talks Conquering Her ‘Insecurities’ In Order To Go Full Blown Freak In Her Fetish Video!

      On her decision to embrace the crazy for her latest vid, The Weeknd‘s lady explained:

      “With the way I grew up, I always felt like there was something inside of me that hadn’t been accessed. I hadn’t had the opportunity or confidence to find it. For so long I felt like I (wasn’t able) to do something like this, not because I don’t want to but because I lack that confidence.”

      However, it seems as though Selly G has embraced her quirks as she added:

      “I have a lot of insecurities, but when I started working with you We’re like sisters, but I think I’m a little bit older than you.”

      As for Petra, she was more than happy to push the A-lister out of her comfort zone. And, boy, are we grateful she did!

      And, from what we can tell, it appears as though Gomez had a positive experience making the bizarre project. Specifically, Selena’s favorite scene in the video is when she’s in the suburban kitchen eating all kinds of odd things. On what it was like filming this notable scene, Justin Bieber‘s ex dished:

      “The kitchen scene was so liberating, to lose control of my body and lose sight of myself. I felt great and I felt like tomatoes, eggs and dirt and it was amazing, but seriously? I love that. It felt so good…I remember being a little nervous, and when shit hit the wall I just lost it and left myself in that scene. It was so cool.”

      So fierce. Now Selena might be playing a fictional character in her video, but that doesn’t mean she can’t relate to the fetishes featured. In regards to the parallels between herself and the role, Taylor Swift‘s pal candidly relayed:

      “Um, I’m not saying I’ve ever done something similar to the kitchen scene in real life, but I can say right now, I do weird shit all the time when I’m alone in my house… It’s how I express myself!”

      LOVES it. Nonetheless, Collins deserves the credit for Fetish being a success, as she was the one who lured out this manic side of Gomez. The pop star even gushed to Petra’s face:

      “You make me feel more confident about the choices I make, like a sister. You help me, you encourage me and validate how I feel in that moment. I wouldn’t have been able to grow into the artist I am right now without you. It’s like this fire-and-water, duality thing going on.”

      That’s some seriously high praise. Well, here’s hoping we’ll see more of this freaky Selena in the months to come!!

      [Image via Instagram.]

      Read more: http://perezhilton.com/2017-07-28-selena-gomez-opens-up-about-insecurities-and-the-process-to-make-fetish

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      We recreated Yoda’s rootleaf stew and other out of this world recipes from ‘Star Wars’ universe

      This episode, we leave Earth and enter the galaxies as we bring to life some foods that stole the scene from the Star Wars films, and the stomachs of fans across the universe.

      Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/07/27/star-wars-fiction-kitchen-batha/

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      ‘Time for change’: Encouraging working class actors to rise again – BBC News


      Image caption Jim Cartwright (centre) leading an exercise with one of his drama groups

      From Dame Julie Walters to David Morrissey, many top show business names have voiced concerns about a lack of working class actors. Now leading playwright Jim Cartwright is doing something to fix the problem.

      There is a “quiet revolution” taking place in acting, Cartwright says. And it is happening in a fitness studio above a charity shop on Chorley High Street in Lancashire.

      This is where Cartwright, whose plays include The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and Road, holds three drama classes every Sunday. On Saturdays, he takes over a room in a Methodist church in Manchester.

      He started the classes in 2015 after reading comments from Dame Julie, who said she would not be able to afford to become an actress if she was starting out again.

      “It made me really cross because I’m from a working class background,” he says.

      Image copyright Getty Images
      Image caption L to R: Tom Hiddleston (Eton), Eddie Redmayne (Eton), Benedict Cumberbatch (Harrow)

      Reading articles about shrinking opportunities for those without money and connections made him “like a bull with a sore head”, he says. So his wife told him: “Don’t get angry. Do something.”

      He took her advice and set up the drama studio with the aim of bringing through more working class talent, advertising his services in his local fish and chip shop.

      “I got a little card saying ‘drama studio’ and stuck it on a chippy wall. And I waited. And they came, and they came, and they keep coming.”

      Two years later, he has five classes in the two locations and has set up a talent agency to represent the budding stars. There is also a youth group.

      Image copyright Ian Kay
      Image caption Jolene Rathmill has found it hard to progress in the acting profession

      The adult class members range from people who have never set foot on stage to jobbing actors who are honing their skills. There are students, retired people, a few teachers, a former policeman, a fireplace salesman.

      Jolene Rathmill, 38, from Oldham, works for financial advisers and runs confidence and self-esteem workshops in schools.

      She says: “When I first started, Jim got me an agent and wrote something about me, saying he’s worked with some of the top actresses in the world and that I have the potential to be that. He sees that in me. That’s my ambition, 100%.”

      However, she thinks she is at a disadvantage because she hasn’t been to a prestigious drama school.


      Image caption Cartwright’s groups are rehearsing for their next showcase in Manchester

      “I grew up on a council estate. We had chicken wire between our gardens and a tyre swinging in our back garden,” she says.

      “I feel that having not attended a professional, recognised drama school, initially you’re right at the bottom of the hierarchy. There’s a hierarchy of agents, and the top agents get the top castings, and further down the line if they want a real working class actor they might call people in.

      “But it’s very rare, so you’re climbing, climbing, climbing” – she mimes climbing a ladder – “trying to get there. And it just doesn’t happen.”

      Cartwright’s efforts come as privately educated actors like Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston and Damian Lewis seem to have taken over the TV, film and theatre landscape.


      Image caption Cartwright made his name writing Road, which was filmed for the BBC in 1987

      Last year, The Sutton Trust found that 42% of the winners in three main Bafta award categories had gone to people from private schools, while Sky News recently calculated that 45% of the BBC’s best-paid stars were also privately educated.

      Also in 2016, researchers found that 16% of actors came from working class backgrounds – half the level of the population as a whole – and that the British acting profession was “heavily skewed towards the privileged.”

      The Labour Party is now conducting its own investigation into opportunities for working class actors, with a report due to be published soon.

      Cartwright has turned drama teacher after more than 30 years as one of the most vital voices in British theatre. His debut play Road is currently back at the Royal Court in London, where it launched his career in 1986.

      He has also acted in TV shows like The Village, From Darkness and Coronation Street.


      Image caption Cartwright is an acclaimed writer, actor, director – and now drama teacher

      With the Cartwright Drama Studio, he hopes to replicate the “explosion of energy and talent” that came with the Kitchen Sink movement of the 1950s. That was fading by the 1980s, he says, when he noticed “the floppy fringe coming back”.

      He says: “I’d never say it’s been an even playing field, but when I started out it was more even. But I’ve seen it change. I’ve seen it tilt.”

      His students come from all sections of society. Some would identify as working class, some wouldn’t. But he believes the mindset is what sets his studio apart.

      ‘We’re a quiet revolution – and we’re coming’

      “The working class thing is an attitude. It’s a burning, it’s a feeling inside,” Cartwright says. “That’s what came in the ’50s. It wasn’t just that they were from a particular area or a particular economic strata.

      “They carried with them a certain fire. That’s what we’re building in the classes. We’re not just classes – we’re a bit of a movement really and we’re a quiet revolution.

      “And we’re coming. If you won’t let us through the doors, we’re coming over the walls and through the stalls. We’re coming in, it’s time and anyone out there who feels the same as I do, join us, because it’s time for change in theatre. It really is time for change.

      “Not that there’s not great work that goes on. There’s fantastic work and fantastic people working in this business. But something’s died that we’re reviving.”

      Cartwright brings casting directors and agents to see his students perform at regular showcases. Some have won small film and TV roles and are working on their own theatre shows and short films. There are no stars yet – but he is sure some have the talent to go all the way.

      “Some of the people who come to these classes are just amazing, and it’s criminal that they’re not working in the highest levels of this industry,” he says.

      The class members include Darren Scott, 55, who worked as an actor for seven years before the work dried up. (He has spent the past 20 years as a primary school teacher.) For him, attending the Cartwright Drama Studio has rekindled his performing career.

      “I was in the very first showcase that Jim directed, and through that I got an agent, and I had an audition with Mike Leigh for his new feature film. And after three recalls, I was lucky enough to be offered a part. That’s a direct result of coming here and working with Jim.”

      At the age of 19, Emma Heyes has studied acting at college and is attending the classes in preparation for auditioning for drama school. In the meantime, she’s working on the checkouts at Tesco.

      She has already had enough acting experience to know her accent puts her at a disadvantage.

      “I have to learn accents; otherwise I won’t get work,” she explains. “I think I’ve only ever done one play where I’ve used my actual accent, and I’ve done a lot of plays.

      “I’ve been into the top drama schools in the UK and they look at you as the novelty northerner in the corner.”

      As part of the training, Cartwright tasks the group members with writing and performing monologues. He recommends one by 38-year-old Scott Brerton.

      Brerton reads it and it is a bitter-sweet tale of trying to remember what happened on a big night out. It is exactly the sharp, funny, full-of-life voice that Cartwright is trying to encourage.

      Brerton had not acted before he started coming to the classes six months ago. He has now been for his first audition and won his first role, performing in a three-night play in Liverpool last month.

      “I don’t think I would have been able to do it or have had the confidence to do it without coming here and having that weekly inspiration and driving motivation by Jim,” he says.

      It is early days for all concerned, and the “quiet revolution” may end with a whimper or a roar.

      At any rate, Cartwright is on a mission to make it happen. In fact. he’s throwing the kitchen sink at it.

      The next Cartwright Drama Studio showcase is at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, on 31 July. Road runs at the Royal Court in London until 9 September.

      Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

      Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-40705516

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      Wallflower wants to prevent cooking fires by making your stove smarter

      The fire department responds to a home fire every 86 seconds, and many of those start in the kitchen.

      Wallflower is a device that easily hooks into most electric stoves, between the outlet and the stove itself, to notify users if there is risk of a fire.

      If the stove is on when you leave the home, the Wallflower will send a notification to the your phone to remind you to turn it off. In fact, the Wallflower learns cooking habits and notifies users if the stove is on longer than usual.

      While Wallflower only works with electric stoves right now, the team is working on creating a device that will retrofit gas stoves, as well.

      Most retrofit products for stoves are in the $300 to $600 range, and connected stoves are upwards of $1,500. The Wallflower costs $169 and is ready to ship now.

      Wallflower joins the growing category of smart home devices, especially as it relates to safety and security. And while there are plenty of smart smoke detectors, most notably the Nest Protect, the Wallflower focuses on prevention by hooking into one of the most common sources of fire and letting you know to take action before disaster ensues.

      Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/07/25/wallflower-wants-to-prevent-cooking-fires-by-making-your-stove-smarter/

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      Blue Apron faces lawsuit from former employee who alleges violation of Family and Medical Leave Act

      On the heels of Blue Aprons lackluster debut on the public market, a former employee is suing the company for allegedly violating the Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires that companies provide employees with job-protected, unpaid leave for certain medical and family reasons.

      Blue Apron employed Tapshea Bowman, the plaintiff, as a kitchen associate in November 2015, the lawsuit states. In February 2017, the plaintiff was diagnosed with an E. Coli infection, according to the lawsuit. Bowman texted the Blue Apron employee hotline, which the lawsuit says is a common practice for employees, to let her boss know she would be absent from work.

      Upon later returning to work, she felt extremely dizzy and nauseous, according to the lawsuit. So Bowman again texted the employee hotline to let the company know she would be gone February 19, 2017 and February 20, 2017, the lawsuit states. She returned to work on February 21, 2017, according to the lawsuit. On March 1, 2017, her supervisor allegedly called her into the office and subsequently fired her for not showing up to work.

      According to the suit, neither Bowmans supervisor nor team lead provided her with the date on which she allegedly did not show up. When Bowman tried to explain how her absences qualified for the FMLA, the company allegedly did not allow her to do so.

      As a direct and proximate result of Defendants unlawful interference with Plaintiffs rights under the FMLA, Plaintiff has been deprived of economic and non-economic benefits including, but not limited to lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, humiliation, loss of fringe benefits, disruption of her personal life and loss of enjoyment of the ordinary pleasures of life, the lawsuit states.

      Blue Apron declined to comment, saying that the company does not comment on pending litigation.

      Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/07/24/blue-apron-faces-lawsuit-from-former-employee-who-alleges-violation-of-family-and-medical-leave-act/

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      9 bizarre things that actually happened in the ’90s

      (CNN)As we age, we tend to look back on earlier decades’ culture with smug superiority.

      Except there’s one problem with that: Unless you’re Gen Z (younger than a millennial), you’re basically making fun of your own poor life choices. (Just wait Generation Z.)
      The 1990s were no exception. The decade that brought us “Seinfeld,” Tupac, Britney Spears and a very famous white Bronco chase also had plenty of weird stuff. And we actually liked a lot of it.
        Here are just nine examples:

        You had to dial up the Internet — and it took forever

        Back in the day when you wanted to “surf the Information Superhighway” — er, go online — you had to attach your desktop computer to a modem that would establish a balky Internet connection over the telephone.
        That’s right — you couldn’t talk on the phone and search the Internet at the same time. The struggle was real.
        The process made a screechy, crackling noise that sounded like R2-D2 if you put him in a bag and threw him in the river. And it sometimes took several minutes.
        “Wake up! You’ve finally got mail!”
        To today’s iPhone-toting teens, it must seem like something from “The Flintstones.”
        Even the most nostalgic ’90s kids among us don’t miss dial-up. (But that Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan movie was sort of cute.)

        Rock stars looked like mopey lumberjacks

        Blame Nirvana. By the early ’90s, rock bands in Seattle were walking around sipping coffee in baggy flannel shirts because wearing clothes that fit and were weather-appropriate would be “trying” — and everyone knew trying wasn’t cool.
        Then, the grunge-rock scene went mainstream, and suddenly everyone from Claire Danes to your nephew was wearing them.
        It sort of made sense if you were, say, a longshoreman in Vancouver. It was a little sillyif you were a teenage TV star.
        Thankfully, the flannel trend was pretty much over by the late ’90s.

        A woman cut off her husband’s penis and threw it out a car window

        No, really. This isn’t a clickbait headline – it’s an actual historical fact from 1993.
        In June of that year, a Virginia woman named Lorena Bobbitt, fed up with her reportedly abusive husband, cut off his penis with a kitchen knife while he was sleeping. She then got into her car with the severed appendage, drove away and tossed it into a field.
        Surgeons reattached it to her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt, during an operation that took more than nine hours.
        He later starred in porn movies — because this wasn’t weird enough already.
        The episode shocked the world, kept comedians in punchlines for months and inspired a new verb, “Bobbitted.” (Shiver.)

        We liked cheesy music

        OK, there was plenty of good music in the ’90s. But it was also the decade that gave us some pretty cheesy hit songs like “Achy Breaky Heart,” “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” “Who Let the Dogs Out” and “Mambo No. 5.”
        Yes, the “A little bit of Monica in my life …” song. It’s running through your head right now, isn’t it? Sorry.
        And we haven’t even mentioned Vanilla Ice.

        Men grew soul patches

        Over the centuries, dudes have experimented with every possible permutation of facial hair. Let’s be honest: By the time you are rocking a neck beard, there’s pretty much nowhere left to go.
        But the ’90s were a special time. For some reason, guys started growing little patches of hair under their bottom lip. Howie Mandel wore one. So did Chris Gaines, Garth Brooks’ rocker alter ego (yes, we’d forgotten about him, too). Kevin Costner still has one.
        The “soul patch” trend actually began among jazz musicians in the 1950s — you know, back when it was actually cool — before being revived.

        We carried pagers

        Get this: Before cellphones, some people carried pagers — also known as “beepers” — little electronic gizmos that beeped when someone was trying to reach you. If you were paged, you would ACT LIKE YOU WERE VERY IMPORTANT and rush to the nearest payphone to call the person back.
        Doctors wore them. So did drug dealers.
        So, apparently, did people arranging booty calls, according to A Tribe Called Quest’s song “Skypager“:
        The ‘S’ in skypage really stands for sex
        Beeper’s going off like Don Trump gets checks
        Keep my bases loaded like the New York Mets

        Ridiculously oversized jeans

        Yes, JNCO jeans were briefly a thing.
        These denim atrocities made bell bottoms look like skinny jeans and were the perfect wardrobe if you wanted to, say, smuggle a small family inside your clothes.
        JNCO stood for “Judge None Choose One,” but fashion cops did plenty of judging. Sales of the much-mocked jeans peaked in 1998 before fading. (Although GQ says they’re making a comeback this year. Yeah.)

        Pauly Shore was a movie star

        Someday future historians will open a time capsule buried in 1996, watch “Bio-Dome” and shudder in horror while wondering how American society did not implode.
        The mostly unfunny Pauly Shore somehow parlayed his Kenny G hair and his surfer-speak schtik into a brief film career — “Encino Man,” “Son in Law” — that fizzled when each of his movies earned less money than the last.
        By 2003, he was spoofing his fading celebrity in a mockumentary, “Pauly Shore is Dead.” It grossed $11,000. Ouch.

        We all worried for nothing about Y2K

        Remember in the late ’90s when we were warned a calendar programming glitch might crash the World Wide Web on January 1, 2000, hurtling the planet into chaos?
        Clocks would roll back, banks would lose people’s money, the electric grid would fail and planes would drop out of the sky.
        Then 2000 dawned, and … almost nothing happened.
        Some people woke up on January 1 and seemed almost disappointed that everything was pretty much the same.
        But hey, at least the ’90s were over.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/21/entertainment/things-really-happened-90s-trnd/index.html

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        Marvel’s ‘The Defenders’ premiere episode went over really, really well at Comic-Con


        Someone please explain to Daredevil that wrapping a cloth around your eyes actually makes you MORE conspicuous.
        Image: Netflix

        The world at large will have to wait til August 18 to check out Marvel’s The Defenders.

        But a few thousand lucky fans got an early peek at Comic-Con’s Hall H on Friday.

        Netflix played the entire first episode of The Defenders to an enthusiastic crowd including your faithful movies reporter from Mashable. Here’s everything you need to know.

        1. The first Defender you’ll see in The Defenders is … Iron Fist.

        I know, guys, I’m upset too.

        Image: Netflix

        Womp womp.

        And he still doesn’t know how to onscreen-fight worth a damn, at least based on his first scene a fight sequence set in a series of wet, dark tunnels that conveniently make it real difficult to make out what’s going on.

        In defense of Finn Jones, he’s also saddled with the worst dialogue. Like: “My name is Danny. I’m hunting members of the Hand.” Groan.

        2. The first episode feels like four different shows.

        Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist all had their own distinct tones and visual flourishes, which makes us curious to see how they’ll all meld in The Defenders. But in the first episode, the answer is that they don’t, really.

        The Defenders feels a bit like four different shows, each with their own color-coding, stitched together through clever editing. In fact, make that five. Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra has her own color, and it’s white.

        Oh, hey, and speaking of Sigourney Weaver …

        3. Alexandra’s such a badass bitch that she intimidates Madame Gao.

        Be afraid, Defenders fans.

        4. Luke Cage and Claire Temple are still going strong.

        I swear to God if anything happens to Claire Temple I’m going to throw my computer out the window.

        Image: Netflix

        The first thing Luke does when he’s let out of prison is speak briefly with his attorney, one Franklin Nelson. (“Actually, people call me Foggy.” “And you let them?”) The second thing he does is head straight into Claire’s arms, and then back to her apartment for some makeup sex. Aww.

        5. Matt Murdock’s out there pretending he doesn’t miss Daredevil-ing.

        Matt’s trying real hard to just be a regular lawyer, and not a lawyer who moonlights as a vigilante. It’s not going well. His interactions with Karen are painfully awkward, and he doesn’t sound halfway convincing when he claims he doesn’t miss his old life.

        6. Jessica Jones still gets all the best lines.

        Trish might just have to take this whole “superhero” thing into her own hands.

        Image: Netflix

        Or maybe it’s just the way Krysten Ritter delivers them. Anyway, I won’t ruin them for you. Just watch the show.

        7. Colleen Wing definitely deserves better.

        Here’s what actress Jessica Henwick had to say about Colleen at the Comic-Con panel beforehand:

        Colleen’s really had her whole life ripped away from her at the end of Iron Fist her father, her religion, her family, even her dojo. When we catch up with her and Danny, she really hasn’t come to terms with what’s happened emotionally and mentally.

        Here’s what Colleen does in the first episode of The Defenders: Be really concerned about Danny and his guilt over abandoning K’un-Lun. Dude, maybe stop wallowing in your own angst for a second and see what you can do to help your girlfriend? Maybe that’s coming in episode two.

        8. Misty, Malcolm, and Trish are still around.

        The Defenders premiere makes pains to check in with basically every major returning player from the four shows. Turns out Misty’s been assigned to a citywide task force, so she’s not just covering Harlem now. Something tells me she’ll end up spending a lot of time in Hell’s Kitchen.

        Meanwhile, Malcolm is looking much, much better than he did in Jessica Jones season 1. Trish looks the same. Both are trying to convince Jessica that she is, in Trish’s words, “a full-blown superh”

        “Do not say the h-word,” Jessica interjects.

        (I know I told you I’d let you discover Jessica’s best lines for yourself, but I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

        9. Brace yourself for lots of talk about “the city.”

        That, my friends, is the face of a woman who’s about to launch into a whole spiel about “the city.”

        Image: Netflix

        At the Hall H panel, Sigourney Weaver described New York City as “the fifth Defender.” Sure enough, there’s lots and lots of talk about “the city” whether it’s a better place without Daredevil, what it mean to Colleen and Danny, how much the Dutch paid for the island of Manhattan, what it’s like to watch it fall apart.

        10. It might be a while before all these crazy kids come together.

        As of the end of the first episode of The Defenders, none of the Defenders are hanging out yet. Strap in, guys, this might be kind of a long ride.

        The Defenders hits Netflix August 18.

        Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/07/21/marvel-the-defenders-premiere-review/

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        Jeff Sessions discussed Trump campaign with Russian ambassador report

        US intelligence intercepts show Sergey Kislyak told supervisors he discussed Trump campaign and policy issues during meetings with attorney general

        Jeff Sessions discussed Donald Trumps White House bid with the Russian ambassador to Washington in 2016, according to reported US intelligence intercepts which contradict the US attorney generals assurances that the campaign was not discussed.

        Sergey Kislyak told his superiors in Moscow he talked about campaign-related matters and significant policy issues during two meetings with Sessions, according to current and former US intelligence officials, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

        The ambassadors accounts of the meetings which US spy agencies intercepted clash with those of Sessions and pile fresh pressure on the attorney general just days after the president publicly criticised him.

        Sessions was a senator and senior foreign policy adviser to Trump during the presidential race. After being tapped to run the justice department, he initially failed to disclose his encounters with Kislyak and then said the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

        Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/21/jeff-sessions-meeting-russian-ambassador-trump-campaign

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        Prince William Can’t Make A Pretzel To Save His Life! Watch His Failed Attempt HERE!

        Prince William is many things, but pretzel chef is not one of them!

        We realized the future King had ZERO skills in the kitchen after he and his wife, Kate Middleton, attempted to make the baked goodies while on their royal tour in Heidelberg, Germany. Sorry, your Highness!

        Related: The Royal Family Arrive Color Coordinated In Poland!

        However, Prince George‘s momma took to pretzel making quite well. We mean, you can even hear the locals cheering her on in the footage (below).

        Looks like the Duchess has got you beat on this one, Wills! LOLz!

        [Image via Kensington Palace/Instagram.]

        Read more: http://perezhilton.com/2017-07-20-prince-william-fails-at-making-a-pretzel-in-germany-video

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