Separation at the border: children wait in cages at south Texas warehouse

US Border Patrol allows reporters to visit but does not allow pictures or interviews at holding facility housing children as young as four

Inside an old warehouse in south Texas, hundreds of children wait away from their parents in a series of cages created by metal fencing.

One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets.

One teenager told an advocate who visited she was helping care for a young child she didnt know because the childs aunt was somewhere else in the facility. She said she had to show others in her cell how to change the girls diaper.

On Sunday, the US Border Patrol allowed reporters to briefly visit the facility where it holds families arrested at the southern border, responding to new criticism and protests over the Trump administrations zero tolerance policy and resulting separation of families.

Rep. Peter Welch (@PeterWelch)

I saw chain link cages full of unaccompanied children. They sat on metal benches and stared straight ahead silently

June 17, 2018

More than 1,100 people were inside the large, dark facility that was divided into separate wings for unaccompanied children, adults on their own and mothers and fathers with children. The cages in each wing open into common areas, to use portable restrooms. The overhead lighting stays on around the clock.

Reporters were not allowed by agents to interview any of the detainees or take photos.

Nearly 2,000 children have been taken from their parents since the attorney general Jeff Sessions announced the policy, which directs homeland security officials to refer all cases of illegal entry into the US for prosecution.

Church groups and human rights advocates have sharply criticized the policy, calling it inhumane.

Stories have spread of children being torn from their parents arms, and parents not being able to find where their kids have gone. A group of congressional lawmakers visited the same facility on Sunday and were set to visit a longer-term shelter holding around 1,500 children many of whom were separated from their parents.

Those kids inside who have been separated from their parents are already being traumatized, said the Democratic senator Jeff Merkley, of Oregon, who was denied entry earlier this month to childrens shelter. It doesnt matter whether the floor is swept and the bedsheets tucked in tight.

People whove been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, sit in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, 17 June. Photograph: AP

In Texas Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for people trying to enter the US, Border Patrol officials argue that they have to crack down on migrants and separate adults from children as a deterrent to others.

When you exempt a group of people from the law that creates a draw, said Manuel Padilla, the Border Patrols chief agent here. That creates the trends right here.

Agents running the holding facility generally known as Ursula for the name of the street its on said everyone detained is given adequate food, access to showers and laundered clothes, and medical care.

People are supposed to move through the facility quickly. Under US law, children are required to be turned over within three days to shelters funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Padilla said agents in the Rio Grande Valley have allowed families with children under the age of five to stay together in most cases.

An advocate who spent several hours in the facility on Friday said she was deeply troubled by what she found. Michelle Brane, the director of migrant rights at the Womens Refugee Commission, met a 16-year-old girl who had been taking care of a young girl for three days. The teen and others in their cage thought the girl was two years old.

She had to teach other kids in the cell to change her diaper, Brane said.

Brane said that after an attorney started to ask questions, agents found the girls aunt and reunited them. It turned out that the girl was actually four. Part of the problem was that she did not speak Spanish but Kiche, a language indigenous to Guatemala.

She was so traumatized that she wasnt talking, Brane said. She was just curled up in a little ball.

Brane said she also saw officials at the facility scold a group of five-year-olds for playing around in their cage, telling them to settle down. There are no toys or books. But one boy nearby wasnt playing with the rest. According to Brane, he was quiet, clutching a piece of paper that was a photocopy of his mothers ID card.

The government is literally taking kids away from their parents and leaving them in inappropriate conditions, Brane said. If a parent left a child in a cage with no supervision with other five-year-olds, theyd be held accountable.

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CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61

New York (CNN)In death, as in life, Anthony Bourdain brought us closer together.

Tragically, he proved this again on Friday. Bourdain’s death shook television viewers around the world. The most common sentiment: “I feel like I’ve lost a friend.”

The suicide rate in the United States has seen sharp increases in recent years. Studies have shown that the risk of suicide declines sharply when people call the national suicide hotline: 1-800-273-TALK.

There is also a crisis text line. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

The lines are staffed by a mix of paid professionals and unpaid volunteers trained in crisis and suicide intervention. The confidential environment, the 24-hour accessibility, a caller’s ability to hang up at any time and the person-centered care have helped its success, advocates say.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.

Bourdain was a larger-than-life figure — a gifted chef and storyteller who used his books and shows to explore culture, cuisine and the human condition.
“Tony was a symphony,” his friend and fellow chef Andrew Zimmern said Friday.
    The news of Bourdain’s death was met by profound sadness within CNN, where “Parts Unknown” has aired for the past five years. In an email to employees, the network’s president, Jeff Zucker, remembered him as an “exceptional talent.”
    “Tony will be greatly missed not only for his work but also for the passion with which he did it,” Zucker wrote.
    CNN said Bourdain was in France working on an upcoming episode of his award-winning CNN series, “Parts Unknown.” His close friend Eric Ripert, the French chef, found Bourdain unresponsive in his hotel room Friday morning. He was 61 and took his own life.
    “Anthony was my best friend,” Ripert tweeted. “An exceptional human being, so inspiring & generous. One of the great storytellers who connected w so many. I pray he is at peace from the bottom of my heart. My love and prayers are also w his family, friends and loved ones.”
    Viewers felt connected to Bourdain through his fearless travels, his restless spirit and his magical way with words.
    “His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much,” CNN said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time.”
    CNN’s chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, called Bourdain a “giant talent.”
    “My heart breaks for Tony Bourdain,” she wrote on Twitter. “May he rest in peace now.”
    President Donald Trump extended his condolences to Bourdain’s family on Friday morning. “I enjoyed his show,” Trump said. “He was quite a character.”
    Former President Barack Obama recalled a meal he shared with Bourdain in Vietnam while Obama was on a trip through Asia in 2016 — an encounter captured in a “Parts Unknown” episode that year.
    “‘Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.’ This is how I’ll remember Tony,” Obama posted to Twitter on Friday. “He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him.”
    For the past year, Bourdain had been dating Italian actress Asia Argento. She remembered Bourdain as someone who “gave all of himself in everything that he did.”
    Last year, he advocated for Argento as she went public with accusations against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. “He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated.”
    Along the way, he received practically every award the industry has to offer.
    In 2013, Peabody Award judges honored Bourdain and “Parts Unknown” for “expanding our palates and horizons in equal measure.”
    “He’s irreverent, honest, curious, never condescending, never obsequious,” the judges said. “People open up to him and, in doing so, often reveal more about their hometowns or homelands than a traditional reporter could hope to document.”
    The Smithsonian once called him “the original rock star” of the culinary world, “the Elvis of bad boy chefs.” His shows took him to more than 100 countries and three networks.
    While accepting the Peabody award in 2013, Bourdain described how he approached his work.
    “We ask very simple questions: What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook? And everywhere in the world we go and ask these very simple questions,” he said. “We tend to get some really astonishing answers.”
    Friends and acquaintances remembered Bourdain’s curiosity for the world’s variety of cultures and cuisine rubbing off on them.
    His good friend Michael Ruhlman said he was stunned by news of the suicide.
    “The last I knew, he was in love. He was happy,” Ruhlman told CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.” “He said, ‘Love abounds’ — some of the last words he said to me.”
    Ruhlman said Bourdain was much more sensitive than people realized, but that sensitivity coupled with Bourdain’s bravado made him a great storyteller.
    Ruhlman and chef James Syhabout both said that when people found out they knew Bourdain, they would ask what he really was like.
    Exactly like he was on camera, they said.
    “And that’s the beauty of him,” Syhabout told CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.” “He’s unapologetically honest. … It all gives us courage to be ourselves and be individuals and that’s what really radiates from him.”
    Chef and writer Edward Lee, who hosted a season of a show produced by Bourdain, looked back at their time working together and wrote that “Tony gave us a world that we didn’t know we needed.”
    Others who fondly recalled their interactions with Bourdain included chef Gordon Ramsay, who said Bourdain “brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food.”

    From ‘happy dishwasher’ to addiction to fame

    Bourdain grew up in Leonia, New Jersey, and started working in kitchens in his teens — including on Massachusetts’ Cape Cod during the summer.
    “I was a happy dishwasher,” he said in a 2016 interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” “I jokingly say that I learned every important lesson, all the most important lessons of my life, as a dishwasher.”
    It was during those early jobs, he said, that he began using drugs, eventually developing a heroin addiction and other problems that he later said should have killed him in his 20s. He often talked of his addiction later in life.
    “Somebody who wakes up in the morning and their first order of business is (to) get heroin — I know what that’s like,” Bourdain said in a 2014 “Parts Unknown” episode highlighting an opioid crisis in Massachusetts.
    After spending two years at New York’s Vassar College, he dropped out and enrolled in culinary school. He spent years as a line cook and sous chef at restaurants in the Northeast before becoming executive chef at Manhattan’s Brasserie Les Halles.
    A different passion — his writing — helped put him on the map by his early 40s.
    He published two suspense novels before drawing widespread public attention with his 1999 New Yorker article, “Don’t Eat Before Reading This.” The article was about the secrets of kitchen life and shady characters he encountered along the way.
    “In America, the professional kitchen is the last refuge of the misfit. It’s a place for people with bad pasts to find a new family,” he wrote.

      Anthony Bourdain on pushing boundaries

    The article morphed into a best-selling book in 2000, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,” which was translated into more than two dozen languages.
    “When the book came out, it very quickly transformed my life — I mean, changed everything,” he told NPR.
    Bourdain found himself on a path to international stardom. First, he hosted “A Cook’s Tour” on the Food Network, then moved to the Travel Channel with “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” a breakout hit that earned two Emmy Awards and more than a dozen nominations.
    In 2013, both Bourdain and CNN took a risk by bringing him to a network still best known for breaking news and headlines. Bourdain quickly became one of its principal faces and a linchpin of its prime-time schedule.
    Season 11 of “Parts Unknown” premiered last month on CNN, with destinations including Uruguay, Armenia and West Virginia. The series has been honored with five Emmys.

      The ‘insanely good’ food of Hong Kong

    In his final weeks, Bourdain said he was especially looking forward to an episode about Hong Kong, which aired Sunday.
    He called it a “dream show” in which he linked up with longtime Hong Kong resident and cinematographer Christopher Doyle.
    “The idea was just to interview him and maybe get him to hold a camera. He ended up being director of photography for the entire episode,” Bourdain told CNN in April. “For me it was like asking Joe DiMaggio to, you know, sign my baseball and instead he joined my Little League team for the whole season.”
    The show’s website on Friday posted an homage to Bourdain featuring one of his many oft-repeated quotations — one that seemed to embody his philosophy: “If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food.”
    How to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also can provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.

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    Tom Wolfe, ‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ author, dead at 88

    Tom Wolfe, the author of such legendary novels as “Bonfire of the Vanities,” “The Right Stuff” and “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” died Monday after being hospitalized for an infection, his agent told the Wall Street Journal. He was 88.

    Wolfe’s agent Lynn Nesbit told The Wall Street Journal he died of pneumonia in a New York hospital on Monday.

    Wolfe is credited with being the founder of New Journalism. He insisted the only way to tell a great story was to go out and report it. His writing style was rife with exclamation points, italics and improbable words.

    One of the lines in “The Bonfire of the Vanities” reads: ““They go, “Hehhehheh . . . unnnnhhhh-hunhhh.”

    Among his acclaimed books were “The Right Stuff” and “A Man in Full.” His best-known work, “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” a satire of Manhattan-style power and justice became one of the best-selling books of the 1980’s.

    “The Bonfire of the Vanities” was adapted into a movie in 1990 starring Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith. “The Right Stuff” was also adapted into a film in 1983 starring Dennis Quaid and Ed Harris.

    Wolfe was born in Richmond, Va., in 1931. He was known for wearing his signature white suit in public.  Wolfe lived a private life in Manhattan with his wife Sheila Wolfe, the former art director for Harper’s magazine. The two wed when he was 48 years old and have two children, Alexandra and Thomas. 

    Condolences poured in from public figures and writers following the news of Wolfe’s death. 

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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    Memorial Day: 5 things you didn’t know about the holiday

    Read up on five interesting things to consider while we’re gathering, celebrating, and paying respects the men and women who died serving this country.  (Associated Press)

    Many Americans see Memorial Day as an opportunity to relax in the yard, gather with friends, or plan a weekend getaway — and it very much is. But at the same time, it’s important that we never lose sight of the day’s significance.

    With that in mind, here are five interesting things to consider while we’re gathering, celebrating, and paying respects the men and women who died serving this country.

    #1. We’re all aware that Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, but Congress has also established an exact minute of remembrance. The National Moment of Remembrance Act, which was adopted in December of 2000, encourages every citizen to pause each Memorial Day at 3:00 p.m. local time to remember the brave men and women who died serving this country. In addition to any federal observances, Major League Baseball games usually come to a stop during the Moment of Remembrance, and for the past several years, Amtrak engineers have taken up the practice of sounding their horns in unison at precisely 3:00 p.m.

    #2. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Memorial Day is celebrated in late May because that’s when flowers are likely to be blooming across the country. It was Union General John A. Logan who — after serving in the Mexican-American War and Civil War — proposed that Congress institute May 30th as Decoration Day (the predecessor to Memorial Day) to allow citizens to decorate the graves of deceased veterans with fresh flowers. (It’s also believed that Logan settled on the date because it wasn’t already the anniversary of any significant battles.)

    #3. The Ironton-Lawrence Memorial Day Parade in Ironton, Ohio, is recognized as the oldest continuously running Memorial Day parade in the nation, beginning all the way back in 1868. However, the oldest (and first) Memorial Day parade in the country was held a year earlier in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. (It’s also worth noting that both the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., and the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade in Queens, N.Y., bill themselves as the largest Memorial Day parades in the nation.)

    #4. “Taps,” the bugle call typically performed at military funerals as well as the annual Memorial Day wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was actually adapted from a separate Civil War bugle call known as “Scott Tattoo,” which was used to signal lights out. The new melody later became the preferred accompaniment at military funerals after Captain John Tidball of the Union Army alert nearby Confederate troops to their location.

    #5. Despite rising gas prices, AAA estimates that 41.5 million people will be traveling on Memorial Day weekend, with 36.6 million of them traveling by car and clogging up the freeways. Leaving a little earlier on Thursday won’t help to ease drivers’ burdens, either: Transportation analysts working with AAA say drivers will be experiencing the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday and Friday, and “congestion across a greater number of days,” in general, “than in previous years.”

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    Tammy Bruce: Lincoln vs. Obama — The incredible tale of two libraries

    This is a story of priorities and hypocrisy, brought to us by a president who saved the Union and was murdered for it, and a president whose policies and malevolence damaged both the nation and the world, and who is being rewarded for it.

    The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation is in trouble. It is auctioning off non-Lincoln related artifacts in an effort to pay back a loan that is coming due. You see, the Lincoln Library doesn’t make a lot of money or attract enough major donors to operate. This is odd, considering President Lincoln is a “favorite” president for so many of today’s modern politicians.

    Lincoln wasn’t just a regular touchstone, as an example, for the now super wealthy Barack Obama, he was used to help get Mr. Obama elected as president. Mr. Obama’s affinity for, and similarity to, Mr. Lincoln was made clear to us by his sycophantic legacy media.

    “In the last couple of years, several best-selling books have focused on the life and political skills of the nation’s 16th president. And one man in particular has taken a particular interest in not just reading about the Illinois politician, but also modeling himself politically after him. That man: Barack Obama, who will be sworn in as the nation’s 44th — and first African-American — president Tuesday …,” gushed CNN on Jan. 19, 2009.

    The New York Times told us, “Not since Lincoln has there been a president as fundamentally shaped — in his life, convictions and outlook on the world — by reading and writing as Barack Obama.” Obama the bookworm. And even better than Lincoln.

    Mr. Obama not writing the Gettysburg Address could be fixed, don’t you worry. The Obama White House archive highlights your access to “President Obama’s Handwritten Essay Marking the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.” Get it? Because Lincoln hand-wrote the Gettysburg address, Mr. Obama would hand-write his homage to the Gettysburg address. Lincoln’s address: 272 words. Obama’s is 273 words.

    Isn’t that amazing? Just like Lincoln. There is one significant difference, however, between the men and perfectly illustrated by the two statements — Mr. Obama refers to himself several times. Mr. Lincoln not at all.

    Now, the story of their presidential libraries is bringing home issues of priorities, hypocrisy and the fraud of today’s political class.

    The Los Angeles Times reported, “The foundation that supports the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum says that prestigious memorabilia tied to the home-state 16th president could be sold to help pay back a loan taken out to buy a trove of items more than a decade ago. … Officials sounded the alarm bell publicly after meeting with aides to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner this month but are ‘receiving no financial commitments.’ The Lincoln officials noted that they’ve asked state lawmakers for money three times, to no avail.”

    That’s odd, because Illinois did find money for a presidential library. In September of last year, WTTW reported, “Sources tell Chicago Tonight there have been bipartisan talks among lawmakers for $100 million in capital funding to assist with the Obama Presidential Center.”

    While the Lincoln Library languishes, the Obamas are not. With book deals worth a reported $65 million, speaking engagements, a television deal with Netflix, among other financial blockbuster arrangements, both Mr. And Mrs. Obama’s personal wealth is presumed to be north of $50 million each.

    And now there is familiar trouble with the Obama Center. The president who promised so much and delivered the opposite has been accused in a federal lawsuit with misrepresenting what the library would offer the community.

    In a story headlined “Federal lawsuit accuses Obama center organizers of pulling an ‘institutional bait and switch,’ ” the Chicago Tribune reported, “A federal lawsuit filed by a Chicago nonprofit in an attempt to block the Obama Presidential Center from being built in Jackson Park accuses organizers of pulling an ‘institutional bait and switch’ by shifting the center’s purpose away from being a true presidential library. … The plaintiffs accuse the Obamas of committing an about-face on original plans for the Jackson Park site to be home to a national presidential library that would hold historic documents and archives from Barack Obama’s presidency under the National Archives and Records Administration’s supervision.”

    Oh, there will be a library, maybe, sort of. The website Curbed explained what the “center” will offer: “The buildings cover a diverse program: the Forum, a two-story event space for gatherings, like the Obama Summit, held last fall, with a winter garden and a restaurant; the Library, which, sans archives, may house a branch of the Chicago Public Library; the Athletic Center, a public gym with classes; and the Museum, which will house exhibitions about the Obamas in the context of civil rights, African-American, local, and national history.”

    In other words, it will be a community organizing mecca with summits, “classes” for young people and exhibitions about the Obamas. For researchers and anyone else interested in the facts and details about what Mr. Obama did during his presidency, you’ll need to go to the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

    The struggling Lincoln Library can’t get a straight answer from Illinois’ politicians about financial assistance, yet the state government seriously considers throwing $100 million at the Obama community organizing center.

    Imagine what would be accomplished if politicians like the Obamas and Clintons were actually serious about their admiration for Lincoln. Instead, we’re faced with politicians that remain in love with their own image and their own pocketbook.

    This column originally appeared in The Washington Times.

    Tammy Bruce, president of Independent Women’s Voice, is a radio talk-show host, New York Times best-selling author and Fox News political contributor.

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    What one word drives ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and really much of the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe?

    “Iron Man, the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is just 10 minutes old when Tony Stark—arms dealer and self-proclaimed genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist—makes a sales presentation to America’s military brass. 

    “They say that the best weapon is the one you never have to fire,” he tells the assembled generals. “I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once. That’s how Dad did it, that’s how America does it, and it’s worked out pretty well so far.”

    You might not think it, but that little speech contains one incredibly revealing word: a word that informs who Tony Stark was and will become, a word that infuses the Marvel Cinematic Universe with much of its meaning.

    The word: Dad.

    Over the course of three Iron Man movies, two Avengers flicks and an extended role in “Captain America: Civil War,” Tony (played by Robert Downey Jr.) tells us, in word and deed, about his father, Howard: How much he loved him, fought with him, idolized him and rebelled against him. Tony’s story reminds us that, for good, ill and often both, dads matter.

    “One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters,” 17th century priest and poet George Herbert once said, and it’s true. Even as the role of fathers have been culturally downplayed—and as men themselves increasingly forget or abandon their roles as fathers—studies show that fewer things impact the lives of children more than their dads.

    That influence can manifest in any number of ways, of course: Loving, engaged fathers tend to raise loving, caring kids. Overly demanding, angry dads can unintentionally teach their children to be timid or encourage rebellion. When our kids grow up, many of us dads are thrilled with the intentional lessons they embraced—and dismayed, even shocked, by what else we might’ve passed on. No father is perfect, and our relationships with our own fathers, and with our own sons and daughters, can be complex.  

    We see that complexity play out in Disney’s Marvel movies again and again. Fathers, it seems, are way more important than those pesky old Infinity Stones.

    Marvel’s Cinematic Universe reminds us just how important fathers are, and those reminders can be poignant and powerful.

    Consider Thor: When we first meet him in his titular movie, he’s a hot-headed, hammer-wielding galoot who never thinks much past the next battle or feast. Odin, Thor’s powerful father, shows some tough love and casts him out of the very kingdom he’s supposed to inherit. Through this period of discipline, Thor learns humility, respect and compassion, and he becomes a more worthy heir and son.

    “Guardian of the Galaxy”’s Peter Quill has his own daddy issues. He never knew his birth father until meeting him in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” and discovers his biological pops (Ego) is a god-like living planet bent on cosmic ill will. During the film Peter realizes, to his shock, that the guy who raised him, a blue-skinned pirate named Yondu, actually loved him like a son.

    “He may have been your father, boy,” Yondu says of Ego. “But he wasn’t your daddy.”

    In this year’s “Black Panther,” King T’Challa grew up idolizing his father, T’Chaka—until he learns that T’Chaka made a decision that threatens the future of T’Challa’s kingdom.  As much as he loves and honors T’Chaka, T’Challa realizes he must forge his own path and right his father’s wrongs.

    Those themes of fatherhood extend powerfully even into “Avengers: Infinity War.” There, the movie’s main villain, Thanos must face his adopted daughter, Gamora, who’s now fighting against him. Those familial bonds prove more powerful than either expect.

    Tony Stark’s back in “Infinity War,” too, but he’s no longer so much the conflicted son as he is a father-figure himself—mentoring a young Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man. Their relationship was one of the best parts of last year’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming”: Like T’Chaka, Tony’s far from perfect. Like Yondu, he struggles to express his feelings for the boy. Like Odin, he shows the wayward Spidey a little tough love in “Homecoming,” taking away Peter’s suit.

    “I was just trying to be like you,” Peter says.

    “I wanted you to be better,” Tony tells him.

    Doesn’t every son, at some point, want to be like his father? Doesn’t every father want his kids to be better?

    Marvel’s Cinematic Universe reminds us just how important fathers are, and those reminders can be poignant and powerful. But they don’t tell us anything we don’t already know. We don’t need a superhero movie to tell us who our first hero should be.

    Paul Asay has been writing for Focus on the Family’s Plugged In entertainment review website since 2007. He loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. That’s why he wrote the book “God on the Streets of Gotham.” In addition, Paul has written several other books, including his newest—”Burning Bush 2.0.” When Paul’s not reviewing TV shows and movies for Plugged In, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his now-grown kids. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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    In Sheer Scope, Avengers: Infinity War Is an Unreplicable Success

    There will never be another movie like Avengers: Infinity War. Not because it’s a feat of filmmaking (though it is impressive), but because no other studio may ever have the patience to spend 10 years and billions of dollars building up to one release. Given Hollywood's instant-gratification calculus, it's likely that no other studio—and perhaps not even Marvel itself—will want to gamble that audiences will want to consume movies the way they do comic books: slowly, over years, following dozens of characters until they converge in one massive crossover event. No, there may never be another Infinity War because, really, who's got time for that?

    Obviously, movie franchises span years. Star Wars has been going on for more than four decades, but that longevity wasn't pre-ordained. People kept lining up to see Skywalker movies, so Lucasfilm kept making them, first as prequels and now as ongoing sagas and one-offs. There’s an entire galaxy far, far away now, but it didn’t come from a pre-existing canon; it wasn’t born in decades of pulp like the Avengers were. (And sometimes it shows.) Cinemas have been welcoming James Bond films for more than 50 years, but despite the presence of some ongoing baddies like SPECTRE, 007 himself gets rebooted and replaced every few years. Warner Bros./DC is trying to replicate the Marvel model with the Justice League, but is so far behind the avenging pack—and offers such disparity between its films—it may never fully catch up, no matter how devout Zack Snyder stans are.

    This inherent complexity, this need to unite multiple threads and multiple people, is Infinity War’s greatest gift and biggest curse. On one hand, fans will appreciate the resolution of plot points they’ve been following since 2008’s Iron Man or 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. On the other hand, those who missed a couple movies, or just frankly can’t remember the finer points of Thor: The Dark World, might feel a bit lost. That’s OK. If you can’t remember why Bucky Barnes is in Wakanda—or, frankly, why a guy who looks like a rock bassist is hiding out in a secluded African nation—his reunion with Steve Rogers may not be as sweet, but you’ll still be able to follow the action. (On the other other hand: if you understand none of the proper nouns in that last sentence, Infinity War may not be the movie for you.)

    This has always been the issue with Marvel films: they pack a punch, but occasionally it’s too much. From the first Avengers onward, each single movie has been obliged to carry a narrative and expository burden that can threaten to eclipse the film's discrete purpose. Sometimes it makes for a great film—see Captain America: Civil War—sometimes it makes for a movie that collapses under its own weight, as was the case with Avengers: Age of Ultron.

    But with Infinity War, the scale is balanced. And that’s its greatest marvel. With no fewer than 25 prominent superheroes, many of whom have their own franchises, Infinity War bordered on overstuffed from its very conception. How could all of those plots and interests meet and find denouement? It’s a testament to Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s script and Joe and Anthony Russo’s direction that for the most part they do, jumping off from the recent events of Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok (and, to a lesser degree, Spider-Man: Homecoming) and quickly looping in the plots of every Captain America, Iron Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy movie that came before them. At times it can feel like a Marvel trivia lightning round, with issues from previous films being introduced just to be knocked down and resolved, but it's also gratifying for hardcore fans while still remaining sensical for casual viewers—and manages to wind up with nary a massive plot hole in sight.

    But what is the plot? To reveal too much would ruin everything, but it’s no secret to say that Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) quest to gather the six Infinity Stones and rule the galaxy—as hinted at in post-credits scenes and expositional dialogue from the MCU's many installments—ends here. His goal, if you haven’t watched the trailer, is the bring "balance" to the universe, which for him essentially means wiping out half its population. (Not a fan of overcrowding, this one.) To attempt to stop him, various pockets of Avengers and Guardians are dispatched throughout time and space—Wakanda to Knowhere, New York to Nidavellir, the origin of Thor’s mighty hammer. And surely as attempts are made to stop him, those attempts are thwarted.

    It all culminates in an ending that is unlike anything previously seen in a Marvel movie—but certainly witnessed in a Marvel comic. It’s likely to shock, and even upset, a few people. Yes, some heroes die. (“That was like going to a funeral,” said one person leaving the screening I attended.) But as comic book fans know, in comics, death is not permanent. There’s another Infinity War coming next year, and it seems likely that much of its roster will be resurrected from the ashes of the film that came before it.

    When Marvel honcho Kevin Feige first started talking about creating a multi-phase cinematic universe of superhero films, it seemed wildly ambitious, if not foolhardy. If more than one or two of the films underperformed, fans easily could have lost interest and derailed the whole enterprise. The fact that the MCU has yet to meet such a fate is astounding. That doesn’t mean it won’t, but keeping a fickle moviegoing public interested in anything for a full decade deserves notice—if for no other reason than it’ll probably never happen again. Too many things command the audience’s attention now.

    About halfway through Infinity War, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) puts Peter Parker (Tom Holland) on notice. The New Guy is still learning the ways of being an Avenger and talks a little too much about other movies for Tony’s taste. (Though his use of an old trick from the Aliens franchise to defeat one of Thanos’ minions is pretty solid.) “Not one more pop-culture reference out of you for the entire ride,” Stark tells Spidey. Watching the latest Avengers movie, with its constant references to MCU movies past, can feel a bit like that. But if you bought a ticket to Infinity War, then you’ve already bought in; you’ve come to hear every reference this movie wants to throw at you. Ten years in, Marvel has managed to keep everyone along for the ride.

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    Feminism FTW: This Empowering New Childrens Book Teaches Young Girls That Women Of All Shapes And Sizes Can Hunt Dogs

    Get ready to feel empowered, because a new book that’s perfect for young women is hitting shelves soon! For anyone raising a little feminist out there, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on this future bestseller: This empowering new children’s book teaches young girls that women of all shapes and sizes can hunt dogs.

    Incredible. This is a powerful message all girls should hear!

    The book, called Slaying The Canine, follows the amazing adventures of Samantha Salazar and her plus-sized friend Rebecca as they roam the countryside, shooting dogs in the woods. In the span of 20 beautifully illustrated pages, this amazing tribute to girl power shows that women of all shapes and sizes can cover themselves in dog urine, hide behind a hunting blind, and lure as many dogs as they want into a devastatingly lethal shotgun trap.

    Needless to say, it’s important to have literature like this that sustains and empowers women on our kids’ bookshelves. Yes, Samantha wears a conventional size, and yes, Rebecca wears plus-sized clothes, but together, they shoot, gut, and skin more than two dozen feral dogs that live in the woods behind their house, and make us all proud!

    Hell yeah! Girl power!

    Wow, we wish this book had been around when we were growing up. There’s a lot to be said about a book that tackles body positivity in the great sport of dog hunting in such a fun and engaging way for young readers. With inspirational books like this, the future is looking bright for our daughters.

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    Man, 73, smashes Porsche through wall

    Image copyright PC Turner/Essex Police
    Image caption Police were called to Crouch Street in Colchester

    A 73-year-old man ploughed his Porsche through a wall and fence before nose-diving on to a footpath.

    Essex Police was called to a pedestrian subway on Southway in Colchester after the smash at about 18:15 GMT. Neither the driver nor anyone else was injured.

    Inquiries into the crash of the Porsche 911 Targa 4S, which sell for about £100,000, are ongoing.

    Sgt Colin Shead posted a photo on Twitter, prompting comments including: “wow I thought my parking was bad”.

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    Another said: “That will polish out.”

    Sgt Shead added the driver, from Colchester, would be offered a “fitness to drive” course and the DVLA notified.

    Porsche 911 Targa 4S facts

    • Price: Just over £101,000
    • Top speed: 188mph (303km/h)
    • Acceleration: 0-62mph (0-100kmh) in 4.4 seconds


    Image copyright Essex Police
    Image caption The 73-year-old man was not injured, police said

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    When do you know you’re old enough to die? Barbara Ehrenreich has some answers

    With her latest book, Natural Causes, Barbara Ehrenreich notes that theres an age at which death no longer requires much explanation

    Four years ago, Barbara Ehrenreich, 76, reached the realisation that she was old enough to die. Not that the author, journalist and political activist was sick; she just didnt want to spoil the time she had left undergoing myriad preventive medical tests or restricting her diet in pursuit of a longer life.

    While she would seek help for an urgent health issue, she wouldnt look for problems.

    Now Ehrenreich felt free to enjoy herself. I tend to worry that a lot of my friends who are my age dont get to that point, she tells the Guardian. Theyre frantically scrambling for new things that might prolong their lives.

    It is not a suicidal decision, she stresses. Ehrenreich has what she calls a very keen bullshit detector and she has done her research.

    The results of this are detailed in her latest book, Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer, published on 10 April.

    Part polemic, part autobiographical, Ehrenreich who holds a PhD in cellular immunology casts a skeptical, sometimes witty, and scientifically rigorous eye over the beliefs we hold that we think will give us longevity.

    She targets the medical examinations, screenings and tests were subjected to in older age as well as the multibillion-dollar wellness industry, the cult of mindfulness and food fads.

    These all give us the illusion that we are in control of our bodies. But in the latter part of the book, Ehrenreich argues this is not so. For example, she details how our immune systems can turn on us, promoting rather than preventing the spread of cancer cells.

    When Ehrenreich talks of being old enough to die, she does not mean that each of us has an expiration date. Its more that theres an age at which death no longer requires much explanation.

    That thought had been forming in my mind for some time, she says. I really have no hard evidence about when exactly one gets old enough to die, but I notice in obituaries if the person is over 70 theres not a big mystery, theres no investigation called for. Its usually not called tragic because we do die at some age. I found that rather refreshing.

    In 2000, Ehrenreich was diagnosed with breast cancer (she wrote the critical, award-winning essay Welcome to Cancerland about the pink ribbon culture).

    The experience of cancer treatment helped shape her thoughts on ageing, she says.

    Within this last decade, I realised I was not going to go through chemotherapy again. Thats like a year out of your life when you consider the recovery time and everything. I dont have a year to spare.

    In Natural Causes, Ehrenreich writes about how you receive more calls to screenings and tests in the US including mammograms, colonoscopies and bone density scans as you get older. She claims most fail the evidence-based test and are at best unnecessary and worst harmful.

    Ehrenreich would rather relax with family and friends or take a long walk than sit in a doctors waiting room. She lives near her daughter in Alexandria, Virginia, and likes to pick up her 13-year-old granddaughter from school and hang out with her a while.

    Work is still a passion too. She fizzes with ideas for articles and books on subjects that call for her non-conformist take.

    Once a prominent figure in the Democratic Socialists of America, she is also busy with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project she founded, which promotes journalism about inequality and poverty in the US, and gives opportunity to journalists who are struggling financially. (The Guardian often partners with the organisation.)

    Ehrenreich, who is divorced, has talked to her children Rosa, a law professor, and Ben, a journalist and novelist about her realisation she is old enough to die, but not in a grim way. That wouldnt be her style. While a sombre subject, she chats about it with a matter-of-fact humour.

    I just said: This is bullshit. Im not going to go through this and that and the other. Im not going to spend my time, which is very precious, being screened and probed and subjected to various kinds of machine surveillance. I think theyre with me. I raised them right, she laughs.

    The last time I had to get a new primary care doctor I told her straight out: I will come to you if I have a problem, but do not go looking for problems.

    She pauses: I think I beat her into submission.

    Natural Causes is Ehrenreichs 23rd book in 50 years. Much of her work is myth-busting, such as Bright-sided, which looks at the false promises of positive thinking; other work highlights her keen sense of social justice. For her best-selling 2001 book Nickel and Dimed, she went undercover for three months, working in cleaning, waitressing and retail jobs to experience the difficulties of life on a minimum wage.

    A recent exchange with a friend summed up what Ehrenreich hoped to achieve with Natural Causes.

    I gave the book to a dear friend of mine a week ago. Shes 86 and shes a very distinguished social scientist and has had a tremendous career. She said: I love this, Barbara, its making me happy. I felt wow. I want people to read it and relax. I see so many people my age and this has been going on for a while who are obsessed, for example, with their diets.

    Im sorry, Im not going out of this life without butter on my bread. Ive had so much grief from people about butter. The most important thing is that food tastes good enough to eat it. I like a glass of wine or a bloody mary, too.

    Barbara Ehrenreich: Cancer is a cellular rebellion. Photograph: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

    Yet despite her thoughts on the wellness industry with its expensive health clubs (fitness has become a middle-class signifier, she says) and corporate wellness programs (flabby employees are less likely to be promoted, she writes), Ehrenreich wont be giving up the gym anytime soon. She works out most days because she enjoys cardio and weight training and lots of stretching, not because it might make her live longer.

    That is the one way in which I participated in the health craze that set in this country in the 70s, she says. I just discovered there was something missing in my life. I dont understand the people who say, Im so relieved my workout is over, it was torture, but I did it. Im not like that.

    In Natural Causes, Ehrenreich uses the latest biomedical research to challenge our assumption that we have agency over our bodies and minds. Microscopic cells called macrophages make their own decisions, and not always to our benefit they can aid the growth of tumours and attack other cells, with life-threatening results.

    This was totally shocking to me, she says. My research in graduate school was on macrophages and they were heroes [responsible for removing cell corpses and trash the garbage collector of the body]. About 10 years ago I read in Scientific American about the discovery that they enable tumour cells to metastasise. I felt like it was treason!

    She continues: The really shocking thing is that they can do what they want to do. I kept coming across the phrase in the scientific literature cellular decision-making.

    This changed her whole sense of her body, she says.

    The old notion of the body was like communist dictatorship every cell in it was obediently performing its function and in turn was getting nourished by the bloodstream and everything. But no, there are rebels I mean, cancer is a cellular rebellion.

    Ehrenreich, an atheist, finds comfort in the idea that humans do not live alone in a lifeless universe where the natural world is devoid of agency (which she describes as the ability to initiate an action).

    When you think about some of these issues, like how a cell can make decisions, and a lot of other things I talk about in the book, like an electron deciding whether to go through this place in a grid or that place. When you see theres agency even in the natural world. When you think about it all being sort of alive like that, its very different from dying if you think theres nothing but your mind in the universe, or your mind and Gods mind.

    Death becomes less a terrifying leap into the abyss and more like an embrace of ongoing life, she believes.

    If you think of the whole thing as potentially thriving and jumping around and having agency at some level, its fine to die, she adds reassuringly.

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