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Associated Press

Twitter unveils new look, which users quickly mock

Twitter has unveiled a new look, and much like some previous changes the company has made to its short-messaging service, it’s not going over so well with the Twitterati.

The San Francisco company says the new design emphasizes simplicity, making it faster and easier to use, with bolder headlines and more intuitive icons. It also changed users’ profile images from square-shaped to round.

The company said the new user interface will roll out on twitter.com, Twitter for iOS, Twitter for Android, TweetDeck, and Twitter Lite in the coming days and weeks.

Twitter users immediately responded Thursday by tweeting jokes and memes critical of the changes. There were almost 30,000 tweets about the new user interface, or UI, within hours of the change, the vast majority of them either complaining about the new look or mocking it. A popular image was a suddenly round SpongeBob SquarePants.

Twitter also took heat from users last year when it changed its algorithm that orders the tweets users see. Users also tweeted their dismay when the company rolled out its “Moments” feature, and when it got rid of its star icon signifying a “favorite” tweet, in favor of a heart icon, similar to Facebook’s “like” button.

The redesign is Twitter’s latest attempt to freshen the messaging service, which has struggled to attract new users at the same pace as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. Twitter revenue growth has stalled for years, and the company has cut costs and shuffled executives while still never posting a quarter of profit.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Late HR lifts Jays over Rays, 7-6

Russell Martin hit a tiebreaking home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Toronto Blue Jays to a 7-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night.

Kendrys Morales homered among his two hits and drove in four runs for the Blue Jays, who won after giving up a three-run lead in the top of the eighth.

Trailing 6-3, the Rays tied it on Logan Morrison‘s 19th homer, a two-run shot off reliever Joe Smith (3-0) and Derek Norris’ sacrifice fly.

Martin then connected for his sixth home run of the season off reliever Jose Alvarado (0-1) over the center-right-field fence in the bottom half.

Roberto Osuna ensured it stood up in the ninth, finally forcing Evan Longoria to pop out to second base to earn his 17th save of the season.

Tampa Bay lost for just the second time in eight games.

Toronto starter Francisco Liriano went seven innings for his longest outing of the season, giving up five hits and two earned runs while striking out nine. The no-decision left him at 99 career wins.

After surrendering two runs in the third, Liriano was on the verge of getting pulled after loading the bases with none out on two walks and a bunt in the fourth inning. However, he escaped the jam, giving up just one run, before retiring the next seven batters in a row.

With the Blue Jays trailing 3-2 in the fifth, Morales hit a three-run shot over the right-field fence into the second deck for his 13th home run of the season and fourth RBI of the game. Morales also had a run-scoring grounder in the third for Toronto’s first run.

The home run chased Tampa starter Jake Odorizzi. It marked the ninth consecutive appearance that Odorizzi had allowed a honer, a career high and the second-longest active streak in the majors behind 11 by Jesse Chavez of the Los Angeles Angels.

The Rays had taken the lead in the third inning when Corey Dickerson continued his strong hitting with a two-run triple.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: SS/2B Tim Beckham‘s knee responded well to treatment, according to Tampa manager Kevin Cash, and is expected to play this weekend in Detroit.

Blue Jays: OF Ezequiel Carrera was placed on the 10-day DL on Wednesday with a fractured right foot. The left fielder suffered fouled a ball off his foot in Tuesday night’s loss to the Rays and while X-rays were negative, a CT scan Wednesday showed the fracture. The Jays summoned Dwight Smith Jr. from Triple-A Buffalo to take his place, and he started in left field. . Manager John Gibbons said OF Steve Pearce, out since May 15 with a calf strain, should rejoin the team by the weekend.

UP NEXT

Rays: The Rays visit Detroit for a four-game series beginning Thursday, when RHP Alex Cobb (5-5, 4.29) will take on RHP Justin Verlander (4-4, 4.68).

Blue Jays: After a day off, Toronto will open a three-game series against the White Sox on Friday with a matchup between RHP Joe Biagini (1-5, 3.38) and Chicago LHP Jose Quintana (2-8, 5.30).

Republished with permission from the Associated Press.

 

Disney to remember boy killed by alligator with sculpture

Walt Disney World plans to honor a 2-year-old Nebraska boy who was killed by an alligator last year at one of its resorts near Orlando with a sculpture of a lighthouse.

A year ago Wednesday, an alligator grabbed little Lane Graves, who was playing along the Seven Seas Lagoon beach outside Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. The child’s father, Matt Graves of Omaha, jumped into the water to try to free his son, whose body was found 16 hours later. His death was ruled an accident.

The sculpture is of a lighthouse, which is a symbol of the Lane Thomas Foundation, was created in memory of the child.

“The foundation is dedicated to supporting families of children needing life-saving organ transplants,” Walt Disney World Resort President George A. Kalogridis said in a statement on Tuesday. “To provide continued awareness of the foundation and its mission, we’ve commissioned an original sculpture of the lighthouse the foundation uses as a symbol of love and hope, to be installed on our property this summer.”

The location of the sculpture hasn’t been disclosed.

The child’s death occurred two days after the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Bernie Sanders says man ID’d as shooter was on campaign

Virginia shooting suspect James T Hodgkinson

Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders says the man authorities identified as opening fire on the Republican congressional baseball practice had apparently volunteered on his presidential campaign.

Sanders, of Vermont, says in a statement: “I am sickened by this despicable act.”

He says that “violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

He paid tribute to Capitol Police for their response to the shooting, and said his “hopes and prayers” are with House GOP Whip Steve Scalise and others who were wounded.

Sanders challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential election.

He adds in his statement that “real change” can only come through nonviolent action.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Top House GOP leader shot at congressional baseball practice

A top House Republican, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, was shot Wednesday at a congressional baseball practice just outside of Washington, officials said. Several other people were also believed to have been hit, according to a lawmaker who witnessed the shooting.

Scalise, the House majority whip, was in stable condition at George Washington University Hospital, according to one congressional aide. His injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

President Donald Trump said he was “deeply saddened by this tragedy” and was monitoring developments.

The shooting occurred at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, where lawmakers and others were gathered for a morning practice. Alexandria police said a suspect was taken into custody and “not a threat.”

Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., said Scalise was at second base when he was shot.

“I was looking right at him,” Bishop told Detroit radio station WWJ. “He was a sitting duck.”

Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican, said two law enforcement officers were believed to be among the others shot.

Brooks said that Scalise, 51, was down on the ground with what Brooks described as “a hip wound.” The Alabama lawmaker said he colleague “crawled into the outfield, leaving a trail of blood.”

“We started giving him the liquids, I put pressure on his wound in his hip,” Brooks said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan‘s office said Scalise’s wounds were not believed to be life-threatening and that a member of the security detail was also shot.

Scalise is the No. 3 House Republican leader. He was first elected to the House in 2008 after serving in the state legislature.

Katie Filous was walking her two dogs near the field when she heard “a lot of shots, probably more than 20.” She said the shooting “went on for quite a while.”

Filous said she saw the shooter hit a uniformed law enforcement officer, who she said was later evacuated by helicopter. She said the officer had gotten out of a parked car, drawn a handgun and shouted something to the gunman, who then fired.

Rep. Jeff Duncan said in a statement that he was at the practice and “saw the shooter.”

“Please pray for my colleagues,” Duncan said.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Congressional Democrats — incl. 9 from Fla. — sue Donald Trump over foreign payments

Democratic lawmakers are suing President Donald Trump over foreign money flowing into his global business empire.

Almost 200 senators and representatives are plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging Trump is violating the so-called emoluments clause of the Constitution. It’s being filed early Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the lawmakers said.

Among the U.S. Reps. from Florida who have joined the suit are Ted Deutch, Kathy Castor, Val Demings, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Frederica Wilson.

The plaintiffs argue they have standing to sue because the clause says only Congress may approve foreign gifts and payments.

“The framers gave Congress a unique role, a unique right and responsibility,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who helped organize the lawsuit.

Although Trump turned over control of his real estate development, management and marketing company to his adult sons and a senior executive, he did not divest from it. That means he stands to benefit financially from the Trump Organization’s profits, including from foreign governments.

Since he’s become president, the Trump Organization has secured dozens of potentially valuable patents, including in China, and collected fees from lobbyists working for Saudi Arabia and other countries using his properties.

The new suit — the third of its kind — says the full scope of foreign payments to the Trump Organization cannot be known because the president has not made public his tax returns.

Earlier this week, two Democratic attorneys general filed a similar claim. Days after Trump’s inauguration in January, a liberal-funded government watchdog filed an emoluments lawsuit. A restaurant group and two individuals in the hotel industry later joined as co-plaintiffs.

Trump and the Justice Department have called these lawsuits baseless. They argue the clause isn’t intended to prevent normal business such as hotel payments and real estate transactions.

Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, said he and Blumenthal have amassed the “greatest number of congressional plaintiffs on any lawsuit against a president.” He said they’re taking the action “not out of any sense of pleasure or partisanship but because President Trump has left us with no other option.”

Ahead of the filing, only Democrats were asked to sign on, but Blumenthal and Conyers plan to send letters to their Republican colleagues Wednesday asking them to join the effort.

Jacob Faria leads Rays to 8-1 rout of Blue Jays

Rookie Jacob Faria dazzled again and Logan Morrison hit his 18th home run of the season to help the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-1 on Tuesday night.

Six days after his big-league debut, Faria (2-0) became the third Rays pitcher all-time to win his first two career games, joining Jeremy Hellickson and Joe Kennedy. The victory was Tampa Bay’s sixth in its last seven games.

The 23-year-old right-hander held the Blue Jays to six hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out eight and giving up one run. He was called up on Monday to replace Matt Andriese, who went on the disabled list with a hip complaint.

Corey Dickerson went 4 for 5 with a homer — his 15th of the season.

Marco Estrada (4-5) had his shortest outing of the season, lasting just 3 1/3 innings after giving up 12 hits and being charged with six runs in his sixth straight loss to Tampa.

Taylor Featherston opened the scoring in the third inning with his first home run of the season, lining a drive over the fence in right-center field. Estrada’s problems deepened in the bat-around inning when Morrison smashed a three-run shot into the second deck in center field.

Dominic Leone replaced Estrada in the fourth, but was unable to prevent Evan Longoria doubling home two inherited runners to extend Tampa Bay’s lead.

Former Blue Jay Colby Rasmus tacked on another run in the seventh, driving in Longoria with a sacrifice fly. Toronto ended Faria’s shutout bid in the bottom half of the inning when Ezequiel Carrera sent Russell Martin home from second with a line drive up the middle.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: SS/2B Tim Beckham sat out Tuesday’s game with a sore knee. Manager Kevin Cash said Beckham was being rested and the team would see how he felt on Wednesday. . C Wilson Ramos joined Triple-A Durham on a rehab assignment in his continued quest to come back from a torn knee ligament.

Blue Jays: OF Steve Pearce has been moved to Triple-A as he continues his rehab assignment from a calf strain. Pearce has been on the disabled list since May 15. . RHP Aaron Sanchez is due to begin throwing off a mound in the next couple of days, according to Jays manager John Gibbons. Sanchez suffered a finger laceration and was placed on the DL on May 20.

UP NEXT

Rays: RHP Jake Odorizzi (4-3, 3.59 ERA) has allowed a home run in eight consecutive starts, tied for the second-longest active streak in the majors.

Blue Jays: LHP Francisco Liriano (3-2, 5.87) makes his fourth start of the season against Tampa Bay, looking to improve to 2-0 against Toronto’s AL East division rival.

Republished with permission from the Associated Press.

Lawyer for neo-Nazi denies bomb plot claims

The defense attorney for a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi arrested after federal agents found bomb-making materials in his Florida apartment says allegations that his client was planning a bombing are a “pure fabrication.”

Ian Goldstein made the remark on Tuesday after a hearing during which a judge delayed deciding whether to release Russell on a $200,000 bond.

Federal prosecutors say Russell’s roommate Devon Arthurs killed two other roommates and told them that Russell had been planning to use explosive materials found in the unit to bomb civilians, synagogues and nuclear plants. Arthurs now faces two murder counts in state court for the slayings.

Goldstein called Arthurs a “double murderer trying to help himself who has clear mental issues.”

The judge said Tuesday that if Russell is released, he will be required to wear a monitoring device, and will not be allowed to use a computer “to promote or engage in neo-Nazi activities during the pretrial period.”

Cuba hardliners, U.S. defenders battle over new Donald Trump policy

Cuba’s best friends in the U.S. used to be a smattering of Washington policy wonks and leftists who sent donated school buses and computers to the communist-led island.

Five months into the Trump administration, Cuba has a new set of American defenders: a coalition of high-tech firms, farming interests, travel companies and young Cuban-Americans thrown into action by the looming announcement of a new Cuba policy. On the opposite side, hardline members of Miami’s Cuban exile community who suddenly have a direct line to the White House through Cuban-American Republican members of Congress and the administration.

President Donald Trump planned to announce the new policy on Friday in Miami but had not yet decided all the details, according to a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal deliberations.

The U.S. Embassy in Havana will remain open, but Americans can expect actions by the Departments of State, Treasury and Homeland Security to ban U.S. trade with any Cuban entity linked to the military. Also planned: a reduction in the number of categories for which Americans do not need U.S. government licenses to go to Cuba. The U.S. will demand greater internet access and the release of prisoners and return of American fugitives in Cuba. President Barack Obama’s repeal of the special Cuban immigration privileges known as wet-foot/dry-foot will not change, the official said.

“If this were a traditional policy environment, we’d be having great success,” said Collin Laverty, head of one of the biggest Cuba travel companies and a consultant for U.S. corporations seeking business in Cuba. “We’re certainly winning the debate for public opinion and in foreign policy circles, but unfortunately it appears that it’ll come down to a backroom political deal between the president and Cuban-American members of Congress.”

The most prominent figures still seeking a reversal in the opening are Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, both Cuban-Americans. The Trump government wants to maintain good relations with both Rubio, who sits on the Senate committee investigating Trump’s relations with Russia, and Diaz-Balart, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Laverty is one of the most prominent figures in the new pro-Cuba lobby, which has been furiously tweeting and writing letters to the White House in a last-minute rush to sell the Trump administration on the benefits of the friendly relations established by President Barack Obama on Dec. 17, 2014. A particular focus is saving Obama’s easing of U.S. travel to Cuba, which tripled the number of American travelers to the island and pumped tens of millions of dollars into the island’s private hospitality sector.

“Thousands of Americans are visiting Cuba and fueling the fastest growth in its private sector since 1959,” CubaOne, a group of young pro-engagement Cuban-Americans, wrote in an open letter to Trump Monday.

After months of public silence, Airbnb last week released a report on its activities in Cuba, which have put $40 million into the hands of private bed-and-breakfast owners since the online lodging giant became the first major U.S. company into Cuba in the wake of Obama’s declaration of detente. Google, which installed servers on the island to speed Cuban internet service last year, spoke out for the first time Monday in favor of maintaining relations.

“Google has played a formative role in the first chapter of Cuba’s connectivity story, but this is just the beginning,” Brett Perlmutter, head of strategy and operations for Google Cuba, said at a conference in Miami on Monday. “Connecting Cuba will require an entire ecosystem of players … It will also require the US maintaining a policy that allows telecommunications firms work in Cuba.”

Even the Cuban government is getting into the game, with high-ranking diplomats tweeting pro-engagement articles and foreign correspondents given a series of interviews with officials from the powerful, secretive Interior Ministry about the new era of U.S-Cuban cooperation in areas such as human trafficking, drug smuggling and the prosecution of fugitives.

Two officials told The Associated Press that they were now in regular contact with the FBI, DEA and other U.S. law-enforcement agencies, sharing information about investigations that cross jurisdictions.

“The start of direct relations between the agencies has already shown results,” Lt. Col. Yoandrys Gonzalez Garcia, head of the Cuban National Police, told the AP. “Going back now would send a bad message to delinquents and criminals that there can be impunity.”

Those messages are scoffed at by many members of South Florida’s Cuban-American exile community, who call for starving Cuba of funds in order to topple its communist government and bring capitalism and multi-party democracy to the island. While most Americans support closer relations with Cuba, Cuban-Americans’ ability to influence Florida’s 29 electoral has long given them heavy influence over American policy.

“We’re confident that the president has listened to us. We’re confident that it will be a step in the right direction,” said Marcell Felipe, president of the Inspire America Foundation, an anti-Castro group that has been running ads on Spanish-language stations in Miami urging Cuban-Americans to demand a hardline policy from Trump.

He said he agreed with pro-engagement forces that their efforts were likely in vain.

“The real question to them there is, ‘Why is it that we have an inside line to the White House?” Felipe said. “It’s because we have the votes.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Jeff Sessions to face sharp questions on Russia contacts

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is preparing for sharp questions from his former Senate colleagues about his role in the firing of James Comey, his Russian contacts during the campaign and his decision to recuse himself from an investigation into possible ties between Moscow and associates of President Donald Trump.

The public testimony Tuesday before the Senate intelligence committee should yield Sessions’ most extensive comments to date on questions that have dogged his entire tenure as attorney general and that led him three months ago to step aside from the Russia probe.

Lawmakers for weeks have demanded answers from Sessions, particularly about meetings he had last summer and fall with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Those calls have escalated since fired FBI Director James Comey cryptically told lawmakers on Thursday that the bureau had expected Sessions to recuse himself weeks before he did from an investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

Sessions, a close campaign adviser to Donald Trump and the first senator to endorse him, stepped aside from the investigation in early March after acknowledging he had spoken twice in the months before the election with the Russian ambassador. He said at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.

Since then, lawmakers have raised questions about a possible third meeting at a Washington hotel, though the Justice Department has said that did not happen.

Sessions on Saturday said he would appear before the intelligence committee, which has been doing its own investigation into Russian contacts with the Trump campaign.

There had been some question as to whether the hearing would be open to the public, but the Justice Department said Monday he requested it be so because he “believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him.” The committee shortly after said the hearing would be open.

The hearing will bring contentious questioning for Sessions and likely some uncomfortable moments for the Trump administration.

Sessions is likely to be asked about his conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and whether there were more encounters that should have been made public. And he can expect questions about his involvement in Comey’s May 9 firing, the circumstances surrounding his decision to recuse himself from the FBI’s investigation, and whether any of his actions — such as interviewing candidates for the FBI director position or meeting with Trump about Comey — violated his recusal pledge.

Asked Monday if the White House thought Sessions should invoke executive privilege to avoid answering questions about his conversations with Trump, presidential spokesman Sean Spicer replied, “It depends on the scope of the questions. To get into a hypothetical at this point would be premature.”

He did not explicitly endorse Sessions’ appearance, saying in response to a question, “We’re aware of it, and we’ll go from there.”

Comey himself had a riveting appearance before the same Senate panel last week, with some key moments centered on Sessions.

Comey said Trump told Sessions and other administration officials to leave the room before Trump asked him in February to drop a probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia.

In addition, Comey has said Sessions did not respond when he complained that he did not want to be left alone with Trump again. The Justice Department has denied that, saying Sessions stressed to Comey the need to be careful about following appropriate policies.

The former FBI director also testified that he and the agency had believed Sessions was “inevitably going to recuse” for reasons he said he could not elaborate on.

“We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic,” Comey said.

Sessions’ appearance before the intelligence committee is an indication of just how much the Russia investigation has shaded his tenure. White House frustrations with the Justice Department spilled into public view last week, when Trump on Twitter criticized the legal strategy in defending his proposed travel ban.

Spicer, the spokesman, declined to say then that Sessions enjoyed Trump’s confidence, though spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later in the week that the president had confidence “in all of his Cabinet.”

Though the Justice Department maintains that it has fully disclosed the extent of Sessions’ foreign contacts last year, lawmakers have continued to press him for answers about an April 2016 event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, where both Sessions and Kislyak attended a foreign policy speech by Trump.

Senate Democrats have raised the possibility that Sessions and Kislyak could have met there, though Justice Department officials say there were no private encounters or side meetings.

Lawmakers, including Al Franken of Minnesota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have asked the FBI to investigate and to determine if Sessions committed perjury when he denied having had meetings with Russians.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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