Teen Accused Of Suffocating Newborn, Then Going Shopping

 

NEW YORK (AP) — A teenage girl suffocated her just-born baby boy before putting his body in a shopping bag, then going on a trip to a Victoria’s Secret store the next day, prosecutors said as she was charged with murder Thursday.

Tiona Rodriguez, now 18, pleaded not guilty, with her lawyer saying it was a stillbirth, not a killing.

The indictment came nearly two years after Rodriguez was arrested on a $45 shoplifting charge at the lingerie store, where a security guard found the body in a bag Rodriguez was carrying.

Prosecutors said their lengthy investigation revealed a girl who became a mother at 14 and was callously determined not to let anyone know she was having another baby.

“She knew she would be in big trouble if her family found out, so she made a plan — to kill this baby,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Rachel Ferrari said. “She had derailed her life once. She was not going to do it again.”

To carry out that plan, the then 17-year-old Rodriguez went to a friend’s house Oct. 16, 2013, delivered in a bathroom, tore the 8-pound boy’s umbilical cord with her hands and asphyxiated him, Ferrari said.

In a text message at some point, Rodriguez used a vulgarity to describe the baby and added she’d “dig a hole” and “put it somewhere” adding an “LOL” — online jargon for “laughing out loud” — and “then we go eat iHop,” the prosecutor said.

But defense lawyer Earl Ward said Rodriguez hadn’t realized she was pregnant, adding that her condition hadn’t been spotted during an annual primary-care checkup a month before the birth. While prosecutors said the baby was full-term, Ward said Rodriguez didn’t know how long she’d been pregnant because she didn’t even know she was pregnant.

Surprised when abdominal pains turned out to be labor, she held the baby in her hands, checked for a pulse and breathing, found none, rinsed him off and started to cry, Ward said. She wrapped the remains in a bag, took them home and slipped them in a dresser drawer because she couldn’t face telling her family, he said.

“She’s a confused young girl who had no idea what to do with the fetus after it was stillborn,” Ward said. Bringing the remains with her to Victoria’s Secret, he said, “shows you how confused she was.”

But prosecutors said Rodriguez had tried to hide pregnancies before.

After having her now 4-year-old son — a pregnancy unknown to her family until she went into labor — Rodriguez delivered again in 2012 in her bathtub, Ferrari said. That child didn’t survive. Ferrari said that the circumstances of the death are unclear, but that Rodriguez had texted her then-boyfriend about smashing or burning the body to disguise what it was. Ward said that was a miscarriage.

Prosecutors said the latest baby lived at least a few minutes after being born in 2013. Ward said air in the boy’s lungs could have been a byproduct of decomposing after death.

The shoplifting case was dismissed last year after time ran out to try it.

Other teenagers and women also have been charged with killing babies after secretly giving birth. In one notorious case, an 18-year-old New Jersey high school senior pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter after delivering a boy in a catering-hall restroom at her 1997 prom, throwing him in a trash can and returning to the dance.

Last week, a 15-year-old in Louisville, Kentucky, was charged with smothering her newborn daughter and hiding the body in her purse.

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Forget Driverless Cars. Flying Vehicles Are Almost Here

When was the last time you were stuck in traffic and wished you could press a button on the dashboard, turn your car into a helicopter and soar away from the rush-hour snarl at, say, 200 miles per hour? Yesterday, perhaps?

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It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.




Mom Whose Bullied Daughter Committed Suicide Is On A Crusade

Tricia’s 12-year-old daughter, Rebecca, tragically took her own life after being bullied mercilessly on social media. “I immediately went on this crusade to stop bullying to save other kids,” Tricia says.

In the video above, she shares a heartfelt message with Ask Dr. Phil” target=”_blank”>three young women who are engaging in vicious online attacks against each other. 

“It breaks my heart. I hear how you guys talk to each other, and it’s awful,” Tricia tells the woman.

Dr. Phil adds, “We all need to think about what we write down when we get behind that keyboard, because there is a human being on the other end.”

This episode of Dr. Phil airs Friday. Watch more here.

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Palestinian Child Killed, Several Others Injured In Fiery West Bank Attack

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The Israeli military says suspected Jewish assailants set fire to two Palestinian homes in the West Bank, killing a child and critically injuring four people.

Israeli police says the child was a year and a half old.

The military says the assailants entered the village of Duma early Friday where they torched the houses and scrawled Hebrew graffiti. It says troops were scouring the area searching for the suspects.

 

Jewish extremists have for years attacked Palestinian property, as well as mosques, churches and even Israeli military bases in opposition to what they see as the Israeli government’s favorable policies toward the Palestinians. It’s rare for anyone to be killed in such attacks.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, called the incident “nothing short of a barbaric act of terrorism.”

 

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Jon Snow Is 'Dead Is Dead Is Dead,' Says HBO Exec; Still, Doubts Linger

Sorry, “Game of Thrones” fans: Jon Snow is not just dead, he’s really dead.

At least, that’s according to HBO executive Michael Lombardino, who asserted this week that the “GoT” protagonist is — yes, that’s right — 100 percent not alive.

Dead is dead is dead
. He be dead. Yes. Everything I’ve seen, heard and read, he is dead,” Lombardino said on Thursday during the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, per The Wrap.

Lombardino’s words echo those of the show’s producers who said that when it comes to Snow, dead is indeed dead.

“We would hope that after seeing the scene
 and the way it’s shot that the answer to that will be unambiguous in the minds of the people watching it,” showrunner Dan Weiss told Entertainment Weekly, referring to season five’s final bloody scene. “It should be pretty clear what happens in by the time you’re done seeing that scene. It’s not an, ‘Oh what just happened scene?’”

Despite these crystal clear pronouncements of Snow’s indubitable demise, fans haven’t been able to stop themselves from speculating about how the character might still make a comeback

“There are some who won’t believe, because maybe Jon Snow could come back as, I dunno, a White Walker, or an abominable snowman or a cloud shaped like a rabbit
. A dead person could — in a land of black magic and dragons — be resurrected,” Katie Hasty wrote on HitFix.com. 

On Wednesday, Variety poured fuel on the flames when it reported sightings of Kit Harington, the actor who played Snow, in Belfast where “Game of Thrones” is currently being filmed
.

“Jon Snow Is Still Hanging Around the Game of Thrones Set for Fun? If You Say So,” the headline read.

Do you think Jon Snow Kit Harington is returning to “Game of Thrones”? Weigh in below. 

 

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Amazing Travel Experiences to Have on Every Continent

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By College Tourist
; Author: Tori Danforth, University of South Florida

If you’re stuck trying to pick a destination for your next trip have no fear! We’re going on a journey around the world!

As any world traveler or study abroad student knows, preparing for an upcoming trip can be quite time consuming. However, the hardest part is first deciding where you want to go! This all depends on the types of experiences you would like to have. Do you want to wander the cobblestone streets of ancient cities, while eating your weight in gelato? Or would you prefer to spend your time scuba diving with great whites and relaxing on white sand beaches? There are an infinite amount of options when it comes to what you can do on your travels so here are some ideas to get your next trip started no matter what continent it happens to be on! Some are touristy and well known, others are unique and off the beaten path. However, each of these activities has been tested by either myself, other students abroad, or local residents to ensure that they are well worth your time. So for those of you that are unsure of where to go next or need a little travel inspiration, here are experiences to have on every continent!

Europe

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Europe has traditionally been the most popular place to study abroad for U.S. students and for good reason. This continent offers the best of everything: striking historical sights that are hundreds, even thousands of years old, modern cities with limitless attractions and activities, a variety of delicious food, and all of the amenities of home. I love Europe for numerous reasons, but mainly because it’s so easy to visit multiple countries in a short period of time. I once woke up and had the best waffles of my life in Belgium, had lunch and spent the day exploring in Amsterdam, and made it back to my home in Germany in time for a late dinner! There’s no other continent that you can do this on, which is why Europe is chock-full of incredible experiences to be had. Here are five to get you started!

1. Become a certified gladiator in Rome. I have to say I was a little skeptical when my mom signed me up to do this at Gruppo Storico Romano on a family trip a few years back, however, this turned out to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever done! Plus, it never fails to shock people when I tell them that I am in fact a trained gladiator with a certificate to prove it.

2. Camping in the Swiss Alps (or Skydiving or BASE jumping off them if you’re really brave!). Camping Jungfrau in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland is one of the best places for both.

3. Take a dip in one of Iceland’s famous geothermal pools. Landmannalaugar and Laugarvallalaug are popular all-natural choices, and of course the famous Blue Lagoon is another great option.

4. Exploring hidden beaches of the Algarve. Some are popular with little restaurants that serve the freshest seafood around and others are completely hidden, accessed only by trails leading through caves. Whatever type of beach you prefer, Portugal’s Algarve region has it and it’s guaranteed to be a beach unlike anything you have ever seen with dramatic cliffs on all sides. Make sure to come in the off season for the chance to have these beautiful beaches all to yourself.

5. For some spooky but unforgettable experiences try going on a night tour of the underground Catacombs in Paris or a Dracula tour in Transylvania, where you can explore all things related to Vlad the Impaler. Which admittedly sounds morbid but is actually a scenic journey through some of the region’s most impressive sights and castles.

Central America

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Yes, I know that Central America is technically a part of North America but it deserves a category all to itself! So if you’re looking to stay a little closer to home, the countries of this region are the perfect destinations for not only perfecting your Spanish, but also adventure activities! If you’re an adrenaline junkie, nature lover, beach bum, or all three, consider these possible experiences:

1. Zipline through the jungle: No trip to Costa Rica is complete without ziplining your way through or over a rainforest! You can do this pretty much anywhere in the country but make sure you go superman style at least once to feel like you’re truly flying.

2. Sandboard down an active volcano. Nicaragua is where you can really get your heart pumping with this activity at Cerro Negro. Afterwards, unwind on one of the country’s beautiful beaches.

3. Explore Tikal in Guatemala. Situated among the rainforest, Tikal is an expansive network of ancient ruins as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Sight. A visit to these beautiful ruins is well worth the trip.

4. If you’re inspired by your trip to Tikal and want to learn more about the Mayan culture, consider a homestay with a local Mayan family. The Rising Minds organization offers both homestay and cultural immersion options, while also contributing to sustainable development for the region.

5. Go exploring. Central America has natural treasures lurking around every corner. Go hiking to find a hidden waterfall, or go on a nighttime jungle excursion to see exotic wildlife at its best. No matter what country you explore in this region, you’re sure to stumble across something amazing.

Africa

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One of the largest and most diverse continents in the world, Africa is full of unique experiences. I’m not exaggerating when I say every single one of my friends who has been to Africa has returned completely renewed and inspired after their trip! Ask anyone that’s been there and they’ll say there’s just something about it that keeps you coming back. Though it’s massive, here are some ideas to narrow down your trip:

1. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Words cannot describe how accomplished you’ll feel after climbing the highest mountain in Africa and even if you don’t climb it, go for the breathtaking sight of it!

2. Camping in the Sahara desert. Before you imagine dying of heat stroke in the middle of the world’s largest desert, note that these tours take place at night and have been recommended as one of the highlights of many people’s trips. As the sun sets you’ll ride camels into the heart of the Sahara and then camp under the stars. I think it’s safe to say this is a sunset you’ll never forget!

3. Victoria Falls. Known as the adventure capital of the world, this is a place where you can not only see one of the world’s largest waterfalls but also swim up to the edge of it as well as bungee jump off of it! Whatever activity you do here it’s sure to quench your thirst for adventure. Plus, it’s located between Zambia and Zimbabwe so it’s a great excuse to explore two countries!

4. Get to know the culture. Africa is not only comprised of over fifty countries but also thousands of different ethnic groups, each with their own language and culture. Browsing the local market or attending a festival can be a once in a lifetime cultural experience in itself.

5. Zanzibar. If you haven’t heard of this place, I suggest you Google it right now because the pictures will say it all. This archipelago off the coast of Tanzania boasts historical centers like Stone Town, beautiful beaches that you have to see to believe, the chance to swim with dolphins as well as sightings of other indigenous wildlife, and a fusion of cultures, making Zanzibar a place for nonstop new experiences.

South America

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If you’re looking to explore breathtaking landscapes, try one of a kind activities, and not break your bank, South America is probably your best bet! Composed of twelve countries and three territories each containing a fusion of cultures, histories, and climates, South America definitely delivers as one of the up and coming destinations of 2015. Here are five sights and activities to consider when traveling here:

1. Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. While this may seem like an obvious activity to do while in Peru, this is definitely a must-see on any trip to South America! Built in the 15th century, the sight is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Sight but was also voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Seeing Machu Picchu alone is well worth the trip, however, to enhance your experience consider doing the famous Inca Trail trek. On this trail you’ll spend four days hiking and camping in the Andes mountains, visiting famous Incan ruins along the way with the trip culminating in watching the sunrise over one of humanity’s most impressive structures.

2. Bolivia. This country alone will provide enough once in a lifetime experiences to last your entire life. Between visiting a traditional Quechua market, playing in the otherworldly Salar de Uyuni (which also happens to be the largest salt flat in the world), cycling the world’s most dangerous road, and not to mention exploring two capitals, Bolivia will keep you busy for the duration of your trip!

3. Futbol, Tango, Carnival! Experience life in South America like a local. To start, this is arguably one of the best places in the world to watch a soccer match. If you find yourself in Argentina, try your hand at the Tango, or if you’re in Uruguay consider living like a local gaucho with a visit to a family ranch, and if you time your trip just right, participate in the world famous Carnival in Brazil.

4. Explore the Diverse Landscapes of Chile: From the glaciers of Patagonia to the driest desert in the world, Chile will have you thinking you’ve entered another planet. A magnificently beautiful planet that you’ll never want to leave.

5. Iguazu Falls: One of the most stunning waterfalls on Earth. Another must see on any trip to South America!

Australia and Oceania

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Though it is the smallest continent and one of the furthest from the United States, Australia is on everybody’s bucket list! As it should be, because it’s one of the friendliest, cleanest, and most beautiful places you can visit. I had a tough time narrowing this continent down to just five experiences because there’s just so much to see and do here!

1. Diving. This side of the world offers underwater views that simply cannot be beat, particularly at the Great Barrier Reef and Fiji.

2. Experience Aboriginal culture. Native Australian’s comprise one of the oldest surviving cultures in the world. Experience their traditions and ways of life with one of Animal Tracks Safari’s unique cultural tours!

3. New Zealand. Here you can learn about the local Maori culture, road trip through the incredible countryside, try any number of adventure activities, and of course visit Hobbiton, the set of Lord of the Rings!

4. Wildlife. Australia is home to some of the most distinctive wildlife on the planet. Make sure to check out the adorable kangaroos that inhabit Murramarang National Park or for a close up look at some of Australia’s more deadly animals try Adelaide River Cruises where you can get up close and personal with the country’s giant crocodiles!

5. Take in the iconic sights of the land down under. Take a tour of the Sydney Opera House, climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, relax on Bondi Beach, behold Uluru in all of its glory. Sure, these may be touristy things to do but all the tourists do it for a reason!

Asia

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Last but not least there’s my personal favorite continent, Asia. It’s humongous, unlike anywhere you’ve ever been, and incredibly rich with experiences that you could never have in the West. Each country in Asia is so different from the next, you’ll hardly believe you’re in the same continent!

1. Spend the day playing with elephants. This is something I think every one should check off their travel bucket list! There is nothing quite like riding these majestic creatures through the Thai countryside and witnessing their playful sides as they repeatedly spray and dunk you in a river. One of the best places to do this is the Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai where you can ensure that the elephants are treated humanely and that your money will be contributed towards their conservation.

2. Have a country-specific experience. As I mentioned earlier, Asia is HUGE! Therefore, because it’s impossible to experience it all in one trip or even in a hundred trips, it’s best to focus on having a country specific experience. Some to consider are: sampling the freshest sushi in the world at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, spend a few days living in a traditional Mongolian yurt, traverse the Great Wall of China, or practice your bargaining skills at a floating market in the Mekong Delta.

3. Island hop. Beautiful islands abound in Asia! Thailand alone has an island to satisfy every personality, from laid back Ko Tao to party centric Ko Pha-Ngan, home to the famous Full Moon Party. For unbelievable crystal clear water and limestone cliffs try the islands of the Philippines, particularly in Palawan province. Or for a truly exotic island destination try the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal.

4. Explore the giant metropolises that are Asia’s cities. Asia is home to some of the world’s most impressive mega cities: Hong Kong, Tokyo, Dubai, Shanghai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur…ok basically every city in Asia is really cool and worth visiting!

5. Get in touch with your spiritual side. Asia is the birthplace of multiple major world religions and as a result has temples, mosques, synagogues, shrines, and churches that will blow your mind for their intricate designs as well as their symbolic meanings. Between Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the temples of Bagan in Myanmar, and Harmandir Sahib or “the Golden Temple” in India which represents one of the holiest sights for Sikh’s, you’re sure to be amazed and inspired by these meaningful structures.

Well there you have it, activities and sights to check out on every continent of the world! While I hope it gets you thinking about your next trip it is by no means exhaustive. The sky is the limit when traveling and one of the best parts about travel is stumbling upon things that you had no idea were there or just chilling like a local every day. No mater what country you find yourself in you are sure to find something unique, modern, traditional, and beautiful. What are some unique and amazing travel experiences you’ve had while abroad?

Read more student travel stories at The College Tourist

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Tips for Living with a Host Family

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By College Tourist
; Author: Sarah Dougherty, University of Alabama

Living with a host family was by far the best decision I could’ve made during my study abroad this spring

When I was homesick, my host mom comforted me with Cola Cao (Spanish hot chocolate.) It was fun to share funny moments about my host family with my friends and compare each of our families. If I was overwhelmed, I could go home to our apartment and feel like I belonged.

When I started at The University of Alabama, I was certain of two things: I wanted to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country, and I wanted to live with a host family. Why? Because in my mind, studying abroad is a go-big or go-home situation. If you aren’t diving into the culture every chance you get, why are you there? I knew that if I lived in an apartment with all Americans that we would speak English, cook American food, and set up our own little “American College Campus”-type destination.

While everyone has different goals and expectations of what they want their Study Abroad experience to be, I knew I wanted to experience the culture and work on my Spanish. I got the chance to accomplish both of those things, but also gained something more important: a family in a home away from home.

If you’re considering studying abroad, I’d really encourage you to have a host family. It ended up being the best way for me to gain a sense of “normalcy,” and feel like I was part of something. I had people to tell about my day, who took me to the Farmacía when I was sick, and who reminded me to grab my lunch before traveling. I learned so much about their habits and customs, and witnessed the Spanish focus on the Family first-hand. My host mom even lent me a Flamenco dress to wear to La Fería!

My host family even included me on their family vacation to the beach over the Easter Holiday week- something they weren’t obligated to at all! It felt so nice to be introduced to and included with their extended family.

Getting paired with a homestay:
Connecting with a Host Family was very easy for me! As a part of API’s Sevilla program, you get the option of living in a Residencia (a big house that hosts 12-20 students,) or in a Homestay. It was the same cost and same amenities: 3 meals a day/7 days a week, laundry, cleaning, wifi, etc., and then you filled out a preference form to help the Sevilla office staff pair you as best they can with one of their families. You can also choose whether or not you want your own room or if you’d be okay with sharing one with another API student. I set my preference as flexible, and ended up in my own room with my own bathroom, about 12 minutes from school and the center of town (pretty lucky, huh?). API was great for me because if you weren’t comfortable with your family, location, or food, you could work with them to address and fix the situation, or move out if necessary, so had I needed an adjustment, I knew it would be okay. The API staff and homestay families truly are excited to have you and share their lives with you!

The best tips I got from my school and friends who’ve been there about preparing to live in a homestay revolved around respect:

Bring a keepsake from your town for them.
They’re opening their home to you; the least you can do is bring them something to serve as a token of your hometown and appreciation. I brought them a Moravian Star and chocolate from a local store, and they loved learning about their significance and where I came from; it was a great conversation starter on my first night! It’s a small gesture but it shows that you are open to their culture and sharing your experiences with them.

Bring house shoes.
A little random, but Spaniards like to keep things clean and rarely go barefoot in their homes. Bringing a little pair of sandals or slippers shows that you’re understanding and respecting their customs from the get-go.

Keep your room clean.
Host families don’t snoop through your belongings, but they do clean the house about once a week. Show them that you acknowledge that you are a guest and are respectful of their space and furniture; it’s the least you can do!

I had a great family experience and learned a lot about the family-focused culture of Spain. There are many differences, and it was nice to be a part of their family life and learn about their traditions. I’m definitely going to take some of their practices (like consistent family meals) and incorporate them into my routines as well.

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Here are some of my biggest tips for settling into Spanish (or any country’s) family life:

Communicate with them. It’s really important to talk to them, because A) it helps with learning the language, B) it’ll help you get to know them, and C) it’ll help you be on the same page with them. It’s also a safety aid, too–let them know where you’re travelling, when, and give them an easy way to contact you (usually e-mail because of wifi.) The more you fill them in on your schedule, classes, how your day was, etc., the closer you’ll get to them.

Be honest if you don’t like the food. I had a (now) laughably horrible night the first time my host mom, Isabel, made something I didn’t like. I truthfully have never seen any creature that looks like the one she made, but I put it in my mouth and physically could not bring myself to swallow it. I panicked, tucked it into my cheek, and hoped I could figure out a way to make dinner fast-forward. Luckily, my host sister, Isa, picked up my vibe and we were able to re-group the meal. This was the first time I’d disliked something, but Isa told me that if I don’t tell Isabel I don’t like something, she’ll start to think I’m lying about liking all of her food. And food is a HUGE part of Spanish culture. From then on, I wasn’t hesitant in expressing opinions. There were only one or two situations after that, but I was able to say “I would prefer more/less _____ of this in the future,” or something polite. Also, they notice what you eat, so if you really like something, tell them so they can pack it in your lunch more often, etc.

Spend time with them. Whether it’s watching the news with them, going to the supermarket, or tagging along on family holidays, try to save time to chat with them and show that you are making an effort. Spaniards are all about forming relationships, and your presence is the best way to show that you’re interested in and care about them.

Get to know their family. Though our apartment was only my semi-elderly host mom, Isabel, and her grown daughter, Isa, I was able to get to know Isabel’s son and his wife and kids. I spent Easter with them and they brought me to the beach on their spring break trip for a day! It was so fun to be included and interesting to see their family dynamics and be part of their family meals.

Be patient. You won’t always understand them. They won’t always understand you. You might get sick of tortilla (though now I miss it like crazy). You might not like their favorite TV shows; whatever. But you will adjust! You’ll figure out the plot, you’ll figure out the accent and your language skills will improve. It truly does get better in time! You just have to be patient and again, make an effort.

Remember that it isn’t your house. While it’s important to feel like a member of the family and feel at home, it’s equally important to remember that you are a guest as well. Keep your room picked up, help with dishes, and ask how to use something if you don’t know (it’ll help you avoid breaking something!) It’s also okay to ask about people in photos, or special things in the glass case–chances are, they’ll enjoy telling you and helping you. It might be a reminder that you haven’t known them forever, but will help strengthen your relationship strong.

Enjoy them. You only get to live there for a certain amount of time. You’ll have some ups and downs, hardest conversations than some, but you’ll get the chance to bond with them. Isabel was the sassiest, most caring 73-year-old mom I could’ve hoped for. I loved our post-siesta chats and cheesy reality TV time. It’s crazy to think that I don’t know when I’ll see them next… but I know when I return to Sevilla, I’ll have Isabel and Isa to bring back all the memories and welcome me home with open arms.

Living with a host family can be challenging, and some people have better matches than others. There are ups and downs, but I’m convinced that nothing is warmer than coming home to a loving family in a new place. My family truly helped make Sevilla “home.” They helped me when I was quiet, sad, or struggling to tell a story about my day, and they entertained me when we were all feeling chatty or excited about something going on. As far as my semester went, I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like without them. I look forward to their emails and hope to one day visit them again, sooner rather than later.

If you’re thinking about studying abroad, look into homestay options and ways you can experience culture in an immersive way… You won’t regret it.

Read more student travel stories at The College Tourist

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Ryan Seacrest’s 'Knock Knock Live' Axed After Just 2 Episodes

When Ryan Seacrest, the “busiest man in Hollywood
,” touches something in the entertainment world, it usually turns to gold. But it seems the “American Idol” host, radio personality and producer of such mega-hits like “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and the Emmy Award-winning “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” missed the mark this time.

The new Seacrest-hosted reality TV show “Knock Knock Live
” was pulled by Fox after just two episodes
, Variety.com reports. The reason? The show earned abysmal ratings. The series “averaged a 0.6 rating and 1.75 million viewers, one of Fox’s lowest series debuts ever
,” per The Hollywood Reporter.

“Knock Knock Live” — a program which involved celebrities such as David Beckham and Justin Bieber surprising regular folk at their homes with prizes — will be replaced with comedy repeats
. Viewers can expect to see encores of “The Last Man on Earth” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” in the Tuesday 9 p.m. timeslot. 

“Knock Knock Live” was produced by Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions. Seacrest served as executive producer. 

 

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Hillary Clinton Fires Back at the New York Times

The New York Times had a bombshell
on its hands the other day: the paper of record reported that government investigators had asked the Justice Department to investigate possible criminal charges in relation to the emails Hillary Clinton kept on a private server. But the Times’ scoop was way off
. The government investigators had actually asked the Department of Justice to look into whether Clinton’s emails that contained classified information might have been inadvertently released by the State Department. The story played right into the hands of Clinton’s legion of enemies, who now had a cudgel to bang over the head of the presumptive Democratic nominee. The Times ended up changing its story, but that wasn’t enough for the Clinton campaign. The campaign fired back at the Times on Tuesday with a near-2,000 word open letter to the paper’s executive editor. They then posted the letter
on hillaryclinton.com. Read the whole thing below:

Letter to the New York Times’ Dean Baquet

Dean Baquet
Executive Editor
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, New York

July 28, 2015

Dear Mr. Baquet:

I am writing to officially register our campaign’s grave concern with the Times’ publication of an inaccurate report related to Hillary Clinton and her email use.

I appreciate the fact that both you and the Public Editor have sought to publicly explain how this error could have been made. But we remain perplexed by the Times’ slowness to acknowledge its errors after the fact, and some of the shaky justifications that Times’ editors have made. We feel it important to outline these concerns with you directly so that they may be properly addressed and so our campaign can continue to have a productive working relationship with the Times.

I feel obliged to put into context just how egregious an error this story was. The New York Times is arguably the most important news outlet in the world and it rushed to put an erroneous story on the front page charging that a major candidate for President of the United States was the target of a criminal referral to federal law enforcement. Literally hundreds of outlets followed your story, creating a firestorm that had a deep impact that cannot be unwound. This problem was compounded by the fact that the Times took an inexplicable, let alone indefensible, delay in correcting the story and removing “criminal” from the headline and text of the story.

To review the facts, as the Times itself has acknowledged through multiple corrections, the paper’s reporting was false in several key respects: first, contrary to what the Times stated, Mrs. Clinton is not the target of a criminal referral made by the State Department’s and Intelligence Community’s Inspectors General, and second, the referral in question was not of a criminal nature at all.

Just as disturbing as the errors themselves is the Times’ apparent abandonment of standard journalistic practices in the course of its reporting on this story.

First, the seriousness of the allegations that the Times rushed to report last Thursday evening demanded far more care and due diligence than the Times exhibited prior to this article’s publication.

The Times’ readers rightfully expect the paper to adhere to the most rigorous journalistic standards. To state the obvious, it is hard to imagine a situation more fitting for those standards to be applied than when a newspaper is preparing to allege that a major party candidate for President of the United States is the target of a criminal referral received by federal law enforcement.

This allegation, however, was reported hastily and without affording the campaign adequate opportunity to respond. It was not even mentioned by your reporter when our campaign was first contacted late Thursday afternoon. Initially, it was stated as reporting only on a memo – provided to Congress by the Inspectors General from the State Department and Intelligence Community – that raised the possibility of classified material traversing Secretary Clinton’s email system. This memo — which was subsequently released publicly — did not reference a criminal referral at all. It was not until late Thursday night – at 8:36 pm – that your paper hurriedly followed up with our staff to explain that it had received a separate tip that the Inspectors General had additionally made a criminal referral to the Justice Department concerning Clinton’s email use. Our staff indicated that we had no knowledge of any such referral – understandably, of course, since none actually existed – and further indicated that, for a variety of reasons, the reporter’s allegation seemed implausible. Our campaign declined any immediate comment, but asked for additional time to attempt to investigate the allegation raised. In response, it was indicated that the campaign “had time,” suggesting the publication of the report was not imminent.

Despite the late hour, our campaign quickly conferred and confirmed that we had no knowledge whatsoever of any criminal referral involving the Secretary. At 10:36 pm, our staff attempted to reach your reporters on the phone to reiterate this fact and ensure the paper would not be going forward with any such report. There was no answer. At 10:54 pm, our staff again attempted calling. Again, no answer. Minutes later, we received a call back. We sought to confirm that no story was imminent and were shocked at the reply: the story had just published on the Times’ website.

This was, to put it mildly, an egregious breach of the process that should occur when a major newspaper like the Times is pursuing a story of this magnitude. Not only did the Times fail to engage in a proper discussion with the campaign ahead of publication; given the exceedingly short window of time between when the Times received the tip and rushed to publish, it hardly seems possible that the Times conducted sufficient deliberations within its own ranks before going ahead with the story.

Second, in its rush to publish what it clearly viewed as a major scoop, the Times relied on questionable sourcing and went ahead without bothering to seek corroborating evidence that could have supported its allegation.

In our conversations with the Times reporters, it was clear that they had not personally reviewed the IG’s referral that they falsely described as both criminal and focused on Hillary Clinton. Instead, they relied on unnamed sources that characterized the referral as such. However, it is not at all clear that those sources had directly seen the referral, either. This should have represented too many “degrees of separation” for any newspaper to consider it reliable sourcing, least of all The New York Times.

Times’ editors have attempted to explain these errors by claiming the fault for the misreporting resided with a Justice Department official whom other news outlets cited as confirming the Times’ report after the fact. This suggestion does not add up. It is our understanding that this Justice Department official was not the original source of the Times’ tip. Moreover, notwithstanding the official’s inaccurate characterization of the referral as criminal in nature, this official does not appear to have told the Times that Mrs. Clinton was the target of that referral, as the paper falsely reported in its original story.

This raises the question of what other sources the Times may have relied on for its initial report. It clearly was not either of the referring officials – that is, the Inspectors General of either the State Department or intelligence agencies – since the Times’ sources apparently lacked firsthand knowledge of the referral documents. It also seems unlikely the source could have been anyone affiliated with those offices, as it defies logic that anyone so closely involved could have so severely garbled the description of the referral.

Of course, the identity of the Times’ sources would be deserving of far less scrutiny if the underlying information had been confirmed as true. However, the Times appears to have performed little, if any, work to corroborate the accuracy of its sources’ characterizations of the IG’s referral. Key details went uninvestigated in the Times’ race to publish these erroneous allegations against Mrs. Clinton. For instance, high in the Times’ initial story, the reporters acknowledged they had no knowledge of whether or not the documents that the Times claimed were mishandled by Mrs. Clinton contained any classified markings. In Mrs. Clinton’s case, none of the emails at issue were marked. This fact was quickly acknowledged by the IC inspector general’s office within hours of the Times’ report, but it was somehow left unaddressed in the initial story.

Even after the Times’ reporting was revealed to be false, the Times incomprehensibly delayed the issuance of a full and true correction.

Our campaign first sought changes from the Times as soon as the initial story was published. Recognizing the implausibility that Mrs. Clinton herself could be the subject of any criminal probe, we immediately challenged the story’s opening line, which said the referral sought an investigation into Mrs. Clinton specifically for the mishandling of classified materials. In response, the Times’ reporters admitted that they themselves had never seen the IG’s referral, and so acknowledged the possibility that the paper was overstating what it directly knew when it portrayed the potential investigation as centering on Mrs. Clinton. It corrected the lead sentence accordingly.

The speed with which the Times conceded that it could not defend its lead citing Mrs. Clinton as the referral’s target raises questions about what inspired its confidence in the first place to frame the story that way. More importantly, the Times’ change was not denoted in the form of a correction. Rather, it was performed quietly, overnight, without any accompanying note to readers. This was troubling in its lack of transparency and risks causing the Times to appear like it is trying to whitewash its misreporting. A correction should have been posted promptly that night.

Regardless, even after this change, a second error remained in the story: the characterization of the referral as criminal at all. By Friday morning, multiple members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (who had been briefed by the Inspectors General) challenged this portrayal—and ultimately, so did the Department of Justice itself. Only then did the Times finally print a correction acknowledging its misstatement of the nature of the referral to the Justice Department.

Of course, the correction, coming as it did on a Friday afternoon, was destined to reach a fraction of those who read the Times’ original, erroneous report. As the Huffington Post observed:

“…it’s unlikely that the same audience will see the updated version unless the paper were to send out a second breaking news email with its latest revisions. The Clinton story also appeared [on] the front page of Friday’s print edition.”

Most maddening of all, even after the correction fixed the description of the referral within the story, a headline remained on the front page of the Times’ website that read, “Criminal Inquiry is Sought in Clinton Email Account.” It was not until even later in the evening that the word “criminal” was finally dropped from the headline and an updated correction was issued to the story. The lateness of this second correction, however, prevented it from appearing in the paper the following morning. We simply do not understand how that was allowed to occur.

Lastly, the Times’ official explanations for the misreporting is profoundly unsettling.

In a statement to the Times’ public editor, you said that the errors in the Times’ story Thursday night were “unavoidable.” This is hard to accept. As noted above, the Justice Department official that incorrectly confirmed the Times’ initial reports for other outlets does not appear to have been the initial source for the Times. Moreover, it is precisely because some individuals may provide erroneous information that it is important for the Times to sift the good information from the bad, and where there is doubt, insist on additional evidence. The Times was under no obligation to go forward on a story containing such explosive allegations coming only from sources who refused to be named. If nothing else, the Times could have allowed the campaign more time to understand the allegation being engaged. Unfortunately, the Times chose to take none of these steps.

In closing, I wish to emphasize our genuine wish to have a constructive relationship with The New York Times. But we also are extremely troubled by the events that went into this erroneous report, and will be looking forward to discussing our concerns related to this incident so we can have confidence that it is not repeated in the future.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Palmieri
Communications Director
Hillary for America

Cc: Margaret Sullivan,
Public Editor
New York Times