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How To Thwart Thieving Baboon Gangs

South Africa's baboons raid homes and cars in search of food.

New Theory Turns 130 Years Of Dinosaur Doctrine On Its Head

A new theory would reclassify many dinosaurs and rewrite their history.

Denis Voronenkov Is The Latest Putin Critic To Wind Up Dead

A former Russian lawmaker, Voronenkov was shot to death outside a hotel in Kiev.

Top Democrat Says 'No' To Neil Gorsuch Confirmation

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday he wanted to block Neil Gorsuch's confirmation to the Supreme Court.

White artist's Emmett Till painting under fire at NY museum

An abstract painting of lynching victim Emmett Till on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York was the subject of a weeklong protest by a black artist who decried the canvas as "an injustice to the black community" because it was painted by a white woman.

Parker Bright spent several days this week standing in front of the painting by Dana Schutz, who used historic photographs as inspiration for her depiction of Till, a 14-year-old black Chicago boy killed by white men in Mississippi in 1955.

Till's mother insisted on an open-casket funeral to show the world the mutilated body of her son, and Jet magazine published photos of his corpse. The brutality sparked outrage that helped galvanize the civil rights movement.

In an interview published Thursday in Artnet News, Schutz said that when she made the painting last year, it was a response to "a summer that felt like a state of emergency."

"There were constant mass shootings, racist rallies filled with hate speech, and an escalating number of camera-phone videos of innocent black men being shot by police," she said. "The photograph of Emmett Till felt analogous to the time: what was hidden was now revealed."

Bright, who engaged onlookers in conversations about "Open Casket," argued in a Facebook Live video that "Schutz doesn't have the privilege to speak for the black people as a whole or for Emmett Till's family."

"No one should be making money off a black dead body," he said, demanding that the curators remove the painting from the biennial exhibition.

Bright's protest found supporters online. A Berlin-based British artist, Hannah Black, sent the biennial curators a letter lambasting Schutz for using "black pain as raw material." She called on the museum to destroy the painting.

Whitney curators Mia Locks and Christopher Y. Lew, both Asian American, defended their inclusion of Schutz's "unsettling image" in the show.

"By exhibiting the painting we wanted to acknowledge the importance of this extremely consequential and solemn image in American and African American history."

Locks said any attempt to shut down a conversation about art "is a dangerous and slippery slope and feels to me like an affront to the belief in art and the capacity of art to hold all those complexities."

Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney museum's chief curator, said the museum took pains to publicly acknowledge the controversy.

Schutz, who didn't respond to interview requests from The Associated Press, said in a statement provided by the museum that "Open Casket" was an effort to "engage with the loss."

"I don't know what it is like to be black in America. But I do know what it is like to be a mother. Emmett was Mamie Till's only son. I thought about the possibility of painting it only after listening to interviews with her," she wrote.

She dismissed accusations of trying to profit from Till's killing, pledging that the painting "was never for sale and never will be."

The controversy was the subject of false news reports. Several websites circulated a bogus letter purporting to be from Schutz calling for the painting to be removed.

Whitney patron Robyn Autry, an African-American professor of sociology who came to see the painting from Connecticut, said viewing it was painful because of the subject material, but "artists can do what they want. That has to be the case. But then people will respond to it however they will respond to it."

Elias Schultz, a 20-year-old student from New York, said it's important to let everyone be heard.

"I don't think that Schutz is doing any harm by bringing more attention to the story of Emmett Till," she said.

The 2017 Whitney biennial exhibition is on view until June 11. It features the work of 63 individuals and collectives, about half of whom are female artists and about half are non-white.

White artist's Emmett Till painting under fire at NY museum

An abstract painting of lynching victim Emmett Till on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York was the subject of a weeklong protest by a black artist who decried the canvas as "an injustice to the black community" because it was painted by a white woman.

Parker Bright spent several days this week standing in front of the painting by Dana Schutz, who used historic photographs as inspiration for her depiction of Till, a 14-year-old black Chicago boy killed by white men in Mississippi in 1955.

Till's mother insisted on an open-casket funeral to show the world the mutilated body of her son, and Jet magazine published photos of his corpse. The brutality sparked outrage that helped galvanize the civil rights movement.

In an interview published Thursday in Artnet News, Schutz said that when she made the painting last year, it was a response to "a summer that felt like a state of emergency."

"There were constant mass shootings, racist rallies filled with hate speech, and an escalating number of camera-phone videos of innocent black men being shot by police," she said. "The photograph of Emmett Till felt analogous to the time: what was hidden was now revealed."

Bright, who engaged onlookers in conversations about "Open Casket," argued in a Facebook Live video that "Schutz doesn't have the privilege to speak for the black people as a whole or for Emmett Till's family."

"No one should be making money off a black dead body," he said, demanding that the curators remove the painting from the biennial exhibition.

Bright's protest found supporters online. A Berlin-based British artist, Hannah Black, sent the biennial curators a letter lambasting Schutz for using "black pain as raw material." She called on the museum to destroy the painting.

Whitney curators Mia Locks and Christopher Y. Lew, both Asian American, defended their inclusion of Schutz's "unsettling image" in the show.

"By exhibiting the painting we wanted to acknowledge the importance of this extremely consequential and solemn image in American and African American history."

Locks said any attempt to shut down a conversation about art "is a dangerous and slippery slope and feels to me like an affront to the belief in art and the capacity of art to hold all those complexities."

Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney museum's chief curator, said the museum took pains to publicly acknowledge the controversy.

Schutz, who didn't respond to interview requests from The Associated Press, said in a statement provided by the museum that "Open Casket" was an effort to "engage with the loss."

"I don't know what it is like to be black in America. But I do know what it is like to be a mother. Emmett was Mamie Till's only son. I thought about the possibility of painting it only after listening to interviews with her," she wrote.

She dismissed accusations of trying to profit from Till's killing, pledging that the painting "was never for sale and never will be."

The controversy was the subject of false news reports. Several websites circulated a bogus letter purporting to be from Schutz calling for the painting to be removed.

Whitney patron Robyn Autry, an African-American professor of sociology who came to see the painting from Connecticut, said viewing it was painful because of the subject material, but "artists can do what they want. That has to be the case. But then people will respond to it however they will respond to it."

Elias Schultz, a 20-year-old student from New York, said it's important to let everyone be heard.

"I don't think that Schutz is doing any harm by bringing more attention to the story of Emmett Till," she said.

The 2017 Whitney biennial exhibition is on view until June 11. It features the work of 63 individuals and collectives, about half of whom are female artists and about half are non-white.

'Vaping Congressman' Hunter Investigated For Misusing Campaign Money

Rep. Duncan Hunter paid back nearly $60,000 and said any misuse was accidental.

Iraqi-American composer musically translates wartime letters

Rahim AlHaj cried every time he read the letters of eight Iraqis sharing personal, harrowing tales of love, loss and hope in wartime since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Rather than retreat, the Iraqi-American composer and musician immersed himself in the stories and emerged with a collection of songs to illustrate them.

AlHaj is touring the United States in support of the resulting album, "Letters from Iraq," which is set to be officially released next month on the Smithsonian Folkways label.

"I felt obligated to make these stories," he told The Associated Press during a phone interview from the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, where he will perform Friday at the Arab American National Museum. "It has to be heard — it has to be seen. ... This is what the Iraqi people went through during that time period."

For AlHaj, who plays a stringed instrument with ancient Iraqi roots called the oud, the tears still fall when he recounts the stories behind the music. One is about a teenage boy who was returning home when a car bomb exploded and leveled his home, sending his homing pigeons skyward with nowhere to land and destroying the alibi that allowed him to see his girlfriend while he cared for his birds and she hung laundry. Another is of a man who returns to Baghdad after living in exile — and finding a place that no longer feels like home.

Then, there is the letter written by AlHaj's nephew, Fuad, who inspired and encouraged the musical project. Then a teenager, Fuad was getting a haircut at a barbershop when a bomb went off nearby and militants opened fire. Fuad, who could not run because his legs never fully developed, detailed the horror and carnage around him. He ends by writing, paradoxically, what a beautiful day it had been.

AlHaj said Fuad led him to his friend Riyadh, the teen with the pigeons. From there, the composer collected more correspondences while visiting his homeland, and realized he had to share these stories that might otherwise never be heard by the larger world.

AlHaj said he initially envisioned reading the letters in lectures, but felt they deserved a broader audience and a more lasting, artistic treatment. He began writing instrumental music for the oud, violin, viola, cello, bass and percussion that "translates" the tales, he said.

"It's really challenging because it's abstract — it's not words — but people understand it," AlHaj said. He added that the songs brought many people to tears at a recent Seattle performance, including a woman who approached him afterward.

"She took her shawl and put it around my neck," he said. "She gave me a hug and said, 'Thank you for healing me.'"

AlHaj graduated from Baghdad's prestigious and competitive Conservatory of Music, but was later imprisoned after refusing to join Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party and supporting his regime. He fled in 1991 and eventually made his way to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he now lives, and became a U.S. citizen in 2008.

He has since performed across the globe, released nine albums and received two Grammy nominations along with other awards and fellowships. Still, he said, it was important for his story and accomplishments to take a backseat with "Letters from Iraq."

"Musicians have ridiculous egos," he said, laughing. "I put my ego aside to just breathe and cry with these letters. ... I didn't want to show my virtuosity — I didn't give a damn about that. It's about supporting the voices of those letters."

___

Follow Jeff Karoub on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffkaroub . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/author/jeff-karoub .

'Love Connection' to reconnect with viewers as Fox revival

"Love Connection" is reconnecting with viewers. A new version of the match-making game show will air on Fox starting May 25, the network announced.

The one-hour series will amp up the original dating show for today's audiences, featuring single men and women looking for romance. Its host is Andy Cohen, of Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live," who will bring his personal brand of audacious fun to the series, Fox said on Wednesday.

This edition revives one of TV's most popular syndicated game-show hits. The original "Love Connection" aired from 1983 to 1994, with Chuck Woolery hosting.

___

This story has been corrected to show the announcement was made Wednesday, not Thursday.

'Love Connection' to reconnect with viewers as Fox revival

"Love Connection" is reconnecting with viewers. A new version of the match-making game show will air on Fox starting May 25, the network announced.

The one-hour series will amp up the original dating show for today's audiences, featuring single men and women looking for romance. Its host is Andy Cohen, of Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live," who will bring his personal brand of audacious fun to the series, Fox said on Wednesday.

This edition revives one of TV's most popular syndicated game-show hits. The original "Love Connection" aired from 1983 to 1994, with Chuck Woolery hosting.

___

This story has been corrected to show the announcement was made Wednesday, not Thursday.

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