James, Antetokounmpo picked as All-Star captains
By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer
Friday, January 25
LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers is a captain and an All-Star starter — again.
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks will choose his own teammates as the other captain.
And Hornets guard Kemba Walker is about to make his first All-Star start, on his home floor in Charlotte.
While there were perhaps mild surprises, there were no real stunners during Thursday night’s unveiling of the starters for the NBA All-Star Game that will be played in Charlotte on Feb. 17. James and Antetokounmpo are captains, their perk for being the leading vote-getters out of the Western and Eastern Conferences, and nine of this year’s 10 starters have been chosen to begin All-Star Games in the past.
Walker is the lone exception, and broke into a smile when realizing he was a pick.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Walker told TNT during the broadcast to announce the starters.
The starting guards from the East are Boston’s Kyrie Irving and Walker. The East frontcourt picks were Antetokounmpo, Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid. From the West, Stephen Curry and reigning NBA MVP James Harden were the picks at guard, with James, Golden State’s Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City’s Paul George getting the frontcourt spots.
“I had a lot of doubt coming into my early career about just even being an elite point guard in this league,” Walker said. “So for me to become an All-Star for two straight years and then now to become an All-Star starter most definitely proves the doubters wrong. So this is an unbelievable moment in my career.”
James, who has been out for a month with a groin injury but is nearing a return, extended his own record by getting picked as a starter for the 15th consecutive year. He was also a captain last year in the first usage of this captain’s-choice format — and just like last year, James will have the No. 1 pick when he and Antetokounmpo get together on Feb. 7 to choose their 12-man teams.
The Bucks, off to an NBA-best 34-12 start, were predictably thrilled that Antetokounmpo earned one of the captaincies.
“It speaks to how incredible of a player he is, how much excitement he creates for fans and people want to follow him and watch him and I guess vote for him in this case,” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, who currently is the front-runner to coach one of the two All-Star teams. “It’s just well-deserved.”
Reserves will be announced Jan. 31, based on the selections made by NBA coaches. From there, James and Antetokounmpo will choose their rosters on Feb. 7, with conference affiliations irrelevant.
All-Star starters are chosen by a weighted combination of voting from fans, media and NBA players. Among the notable snubs based on who the fans want to see: Dallas rookie Luka Doncic, second in the West frontcourt voting; Minnesota’s Derrick Rose, second in the West guard voting; and Miami guard Dwyane Wade, who fans voted second among East guards in his 16th and final NBA season.
Wade is one of four still-active past All-Star MVPs waiting to see if an All-Star nod is coming. The others are Houston’s Chris Paul, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis.
Antetokounmpo already, and understandably, seems sure that Westbrook will be a reserve pick. Westbrook and Embiid tangled in a 76ers-Thunder game last week, and sent a few pointed words in each other’s direction afterward. And mindful of that, Antetokounmpo said he wants to bring the stars together.
“I’m a lover, not a fighter,” Antetokounmpo said. “If I can pick Joel Embiid and Russell Westbrook on the same team, I’m going to do it.”
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Indians’ Carrasco could ensure 2023 option with solid ‘22
Thursday, January 24
CLEVELAND (AP) — Carlos Carrasco’s $14 million club option for 2023 under his new deal with the Cleveland Indians would become guaranteed if he pitches 170 or more innings in 2022 and is expected to be healthy for the following season.
The 31-year-old right-hander agreed Dec. 6 to a $47 million, four-year contract, a deal that was finalized on Thursday.
Carrasco’s contract includes $37.25 million in new guaranteed money. It keeps his $9.75 million salary this year and calls for $10.25 million in 2020, which had been the option price of his previous deal. The agreement adds salaries of $12 million in 2021 and ‘22 plus the new option year.
His 2020 salary would increase by $2 million for a Cy Young Award this year, $1 million for finishing second or third, $750,000 for fourth or fifth, and $500,000 for sixth through 10th, as long as he receives at least two votes.
For the remainder of the contract, salaries could escalate by up to $3 million using the same formula.
He would get a one-time assignment bonus if traded, $3 million if dealt before the end of this season and $1 million if traded after.
Carrasco won 35 games over the past two seasons and is a core member of one of baseball’s best rotations, which could be changed if the Indians trade either two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber or All-Star Trevor Bauer.
Carrasco went 17-10 with a 3.38 ERA in 30 starts last season for the AL Central champions, finishing with a career-high 231 strikeouts as the Indians became the first team to have four pitchers to fan 200 in the same season.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
“BACKSTAGE AT THE LINCOLN” CONTINUES INTIMATE, MULTI-GENRE SHOWCASES OF LOCAL ARTISTS IN 2019
Backstage at the Lincoln, the Lincoln Theatre’s local artist showcase series, will continue in 2019, offering audiences the extraordinary opportunity to be seated on stage for a uniquely intimate performance experience set against the hand-painted grandeur of the Lincoln’s rare, Egyptian Revival-style interior design.
The schedule is as follows:
January 31 – The Ogún Meji Duo
Expanding their artistic voices by decreasing the ensemble size, the jazz duo of Mark Lomax II (drums) and Edwin Bayard (tenor saxophone) strives to uplift humanity through their music which showcases a mastery of musical languages from blues to hip-hop.
February 21 – Tripp Fontane & Sarob
This double bill features comedian and spoken word artist Tripp Fontane who explores the cross between social constructs and the habits we build to uphold them, and music artist Sarob who performs his all-original blend of hip-hop and neo-soul that showcases vivid imagery, an inviting honesty, and introspective, yet relatable, lyrics.
March 21 – Gamal Brown
Dancer Gamal Brown and members of his own modern dance company, Onyx Productions, will deconstruct and demonstrate his choreographic process from music selection to movement to narration, culminating with a work-in-progress.
April 25 – Caroline Bennett & Schuyler Johnson
Storyteller, spoken word artist, and vocalist Caroline “Inspires” Bennett will perform original spoken word pieces and cover familiar songs inspired by artists such as Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, and Le’Andria Johnson. Then singer/songwriter Schuyler Johnson will put his own jazzy interpretation on a mix of his original Gospel compositions and other well-known tunes.
Tickets are $10, and seating is limited. All programs begin at 7pm at the Lincoln Theatre (769 E. Long St.). Tickets can be purchased in-person at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), online at www.LincolnTheatreColumbus.com, or by phone at (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000. Tickets can also be purchased at the door on the night of the show if still available.
The Backstage at the Lincoln series is made possible through the generous support of the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the Ohio Arts Council.
Support for the Lincoln Theatre’s 2018-19 season is provided in part by the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the City of Columbus, Franklin County, Nationwide, and the Ohio Arts Council to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.
About the Lincoln Theatre
First opened in 1928, the Lincoln Theatre is a landmark in African-American and jazz history. After undergoing a $13.5 million renovation funded by a partnership of public and private support, the Lincoln reopened in May 2009 as a multi-use, state-of-the-art performing arts and education center serving the diversity of the central Ohio community. The Lincoln is a bustling hub of activity 365 days a year hosting performances, rehearsals, and classes in the performing arts, as well as a wide variety of community events such as film festivals, meetings, and receptions.
CAPA Announces Winners of First-Ever Poetry Slam Competition
On Wednesday, January 23, the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA), in partnership with The Columbus Foundation, held its first-ever Poetry Slam competition, crowning Playon Patrick in the youth category (18 and under) and Tyiesha Radford Shorts in the adult category (19+). Each was awarded a pair of tickets to attend the Broadway musical HAMILTON during its Columbus engagement.
Currently a junior at Fort Hayes High School, Patrick is 16 years old and began writing poetry in his freshman year after joining the school’s poetry team. He took first place in the youth category for a performance of his original work, “Color Scheme,” which asks, “How does a black boy in America leave behind a lasting legacy?”
Writing and performing poetry since her senior year of high school, Tyiesha Radford Shorts won the adult category with her performance of “Nomenclature,” an original piece that explores the racialized and gendered experience of social practices that impact identity. While Radford Shorts has previously performed poetry, this was her first competition.
Participants ranged in age from 10-60+, and experience levels varied from first-timers to more seasoned poets. To compete, participants were required to attend at least one of four free, CAPA-hosted spoken word workshops held in January, but no prior poetry or spoken word experience was necessary. Each of the 25 competitors (13 youth, 12 adult) wrote an original poem inspired by themes from the Broadway musical HAMILTON—such as overcoming obstacles, being an agent of positive change, and/or creating a legacy—and performed it at the Poetry Slam before community attendees and a panel of judges.
This event was made possible through the additional support of Nationwide and the AEP Foundation, with special support provided by Huntington Bank.
Additional youth competitors included Anthony Rogers, Addison Byler, Tomas Miriti Pacheco, Liv Tigner, Jeremiah Brown, Anais Fernandez, Elena Fetters, Natalie Esquivel, Ella Holtsberry, Jenna Keiffer, Faith Fullen, and Genevieve VanDixhorn.
Additional adult competitors included Ria Grieff, Ogonna Ononye, Amanda Holman, Patrice Barnes, Susann Moeller, Lam Bui, Jami Jackson, Curtis Walker, Jaehla Meacham, Marquita Byars, and Bailey Cunningham.
The youth category was judged by Dr. Sidney Jones, Kim Leddy, and Chiquita Mullins-Lee. The adult category was judged by Steve Abbott, Kim Brazwell, and Scott Woods.
The spoken word workshops were facilitated by teaching artists and poets Barbara Fant and William Evans who also moderated the Poetry Slam competition.
The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this program with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, education excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. CAPA also appreciates the generous support of the Barbara B. Coons and Robert Bartels Funds of The Columbus Foundation and the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
Owner/operator of downtown Columbus’ magnificent historic theatres (Ohio Theatre, Palace Theatre, Southern Theatre) and manager of the Riffe Center Theatre Complex, Lincoln Theatre, Drexel Theatre, Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts (New Albany, OH), and the Shubert Theatre (New Haven, CT), CAPA is a non-profit, award-winning presenter of national and international performing arts and entertainment. For more information, visit www.capa.com.
“Taste of the Place” returns to Great Vacations Travel EXPO
Food & Wine Restaurants Editor to share tips on experiencing destinations through food
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Organizers of the Great Vacations Travel EXPO, presented by AAA, know culinary tourism – traveling with the intention of experiencing a place through its food – is among the hottest travel trends for 2019. A report from the World Tourism Organization notes the growth of food tourism is worldwide; in fact, it’s one of the most dynamic segments within the tourism market right now. Food tourists take part in the new trends of cultural consumption, seek authenticity and understand that food is a reflection of the people who eat it. This shared appetite for inspiring culinary experiences is behind the return of the wildly popular event Taste of the Place, taking place noon-7 p.m. on Feb. 8 at the EXPO.
This roving food tour will allow Travel EXPO attendees to indulge in samples of signature fare from exhibitor destinations while they browse regional travel offerings for expert travel advice. From red carpet-worthy Bourbon Balls, to famous ice cream cones and specialty dips, Taste of the Place will offer an added treat for those with a hunger for travel.
While guests sample dozens of culinary offerings, Food & Wine Digital Restaurant Editor Maria Yagoda will be on the AAA Travel Stage at 1 p.m., sharing insider tips on how to discover a place through its food. She will discuss some of her favorite food destinations and describe how to get off the beaten path and find food nirvana by unearthing hidden hole-in-the-wall joints that only the locals know.
Just a few of the Taste of the Place offerings include:
Visit Norfolk, VA: local Pop Culture popcorn and famous Doumar’s cones —the world’s first ice cream cones
West Ohio Adventures: Rosebud’s Ranch and Garden organic, homemade dips and fruit butters
Cambridge/Guernsey County: Kennedy’s Bakery tea cookies
Louisville Tourism: Bourbon Balls from the Louisville chocolatier that provides the chocolate desserts for the Emmy Awards
Shipshewana/LaGrange County, IN: homemade Amish peanut butter and apple butter
Velvet Ice Cream: fresh ice cream samples with local coffee
The Great Vacations Travel EXPO, presented by AAA, opens Friday, Feb. 8 and runs through Sunday, Feb. 10, at the Ohio Expo Center. Hours are Friday: Noon to 7 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $8 at the door or at any AAA Ohio Auto Club store. AAA members who show their AAA card receive 50 percent off admission. Children ages 16 and under are admitted at no charge. Additional event details are available at AAAGreatVacations.com.
Agency: Deadly California fire caused by homeowner equipment
By DON THOMPSON
Thursday, January 24
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Investigators said Thursday that a 2017 wildfire that killed 22 people in Northern California wine country was caused by a private electrical system, not equipment belonging to embattled Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.
The state firefighting agency concluded that the blaze started next to a residence. It did not find any violations of state law.
“I eliminated all other causes for the Tubbs Fire, with the exception of an electrical caused fire originating from an unknown event affecting privately owned conductor or equipment,” CalFire Battalion Chief John Martinez wrote in his report.
Some details about the property, including its owner and address, were blacked out of the report. It said the Napa County property about 3 miles (5 kilometers) north of Calistoga was built in 1946 on about 10.5 acres (4.2 hectares) with a wine cellar, pool and several outbuildings.
The fire was one of more than 170 that torched the state in October 2017. It destroyed more than 5,600 structures over more than 57 square miles (148 sq. kilometers) in Sonoma and Napa counties.
PG&E previously said it plans to file for bankruptcy protection next week, citing billions of dollars in potential damages from lawsuits linking its equipment to other deadly blazes for which it has been determined to be at fault.
The company said in a statement that despite Thursday’s finding, PG&E “still faces extensive litigation, significant potential liabilities and a deteriorating financial situation.”
Trading of PG&E Corp. stock was halted twice after news about the cause of the fire prompted a surge of buy orders. Once trading resumed, the price rocketed up, closing up $5.96, or nearly 75 percent, at $13.35 a share.
A state senator said that just because a private electric line caused the wine country fire does not let the utility off the hook for the role of its equipment in other devastating fires in the state.
State Sen. Bill Dodd, a Napa Democrat, cited systemwide issues plaguing California’s largest utility.
Lawmakers are under pressure to find a solution that addresses utility reform and compensates wildfire victims.
“This underscores the idea that we all have a role to play in wildfire prevention,” said Dodd a frequent critic of PG&E, who noted that the company has already been found at fault for more than a dozen other Northern California wildfires.
PG&E said in a Jan. 2 court filing that it believed a handyman performing unlicensed electrical work started the wine country fire.
In the report released Thursday by the state, one witness reported seeing a transformer explode. Another reported seeing the fire approach a PG&E power pole.
One witness, Charlie Brown Jr. of Calistoga, said the electrical wiring leading from the property where investigators concluded the fire started had not been used in years.
PG&E previously identified the owner of the Napa County compound as Ann Zink. In court filings, the utility said it provided electricity to Zink’s property by a line that connected to a service riser.
The utility said Zink had a private system to carry power to other buildings as well as equipment such as a water pump and water storage tank.
PG&E said it had no responsibility to maintain or inspect the private system.
Zink, 91, told The San Francisco Chronicle in 2017 that her house was unoccupied at the time of the fire and she was at her other home in Riverside County when the blaze began.
Associated Press writers Janie Har and Juliet Williams in San Francisco contributed to this report.
Ron Howard to make doc about town devastated by wildfires
By LINDSEY BAHR
AP Film Writer
Friday, January 25
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Director Ron Howard is planning to make a documentary about a Northern California town’s attempt to rebuild after a devastating wildfire last year
National Geographic Documentary Films announced the project Thursday which will focus on the Sierra Nevada foothills town of Paradise, California. In November of 2018, flames destroyed nearly 15,000 homes and displaced over 50,000 people. Its working title is “Rebuilding Paradise.”
Howard said he has relatives in the area and was drawn to the universal human experience of the tragedy. The film will follow the residents of Paradise, first responders and volunteers helping to rebuild the town over the course of a year.
National Geographic Documentary Films is also the shop behind the climbing documentary “Free Solo” which was just nominated for an Oscar.
Australia bakes in heat that’s sparking fires, taxing grid
Friday, January 25
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Scorching heat knocked out power to homes and businesses, raised wildfire risks and sent tennis fans looking for water and shade Friday in Australia’s second-largest city, which recorded its hottest day in five years.
Melbourne reached 42 .8 C (109 F) by early afternoon before a sudden cooldown, though the outskirts of the city remained hot, with the airport recording 46 C (114.8 F). It was the hottest day since 2014 in the Victoria state capital, which has a population of 5 million.
The power grid began load sharing as temperatures climbed in the early afternoon, with 30,000 households and businesses at a time being switched off for as long as two hours so that supply could keep up with demand.
But by late afternoon, the state’s power generation was able to meet demand, Victoria Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.
“The situation changed very, very quickly,” she told reporters. “People should be rightly disappointed that the power grid was not up to the task today.”
Scores of wildfires are raging in heatwave conditions across much of drought-parched southeast Australia, with authorities warning the fire risk is high.
Adelaide, 640 kilometers (400 miles) west of Melbourne, on Thursday recorded the hottest day for a major Australian city, a searing 46.6 C (115.9 F).
The previous record had been the 46.4 C (115.5 F) set in Melbourne on Feb. 7, 2009 — a day of catastrophic wildfires that killed 173 people and razed more than 2,000 homes in Victoria that is remembered as Black Saturday.
At the Australian Open in Melbourne, tennis fans shielded themselves with umbrellas and walked by water sprinklers for relief. On Thursday, the tournament had invoked its extreme-heat policy and closed the main stadium’s roof during a women’s semifinal match.
Heat records have tumbled across Australia’s southeast in recent days. The small town of Swan Hill recorded its highest ever maximum of 47.5 C (117.5 F) on Friday and the renowned winemaking town of Rutherglen recorded its warmest ever overnight minimum of 29.3 C (84.7 F).
“The heatwaves we have had since the start of summer are almost unprecedented,” meteorologist Kevin Parkin said.
“Relentless days of 40-plus degrees followed by warm nights — is it any wonder people and communities in that part of the world are doing it tough?” he added.
Bureau of Meteorology forecasters say this January is on track to become Australia’s hottest January on record with heatwave conditions likely to persist.
Last year was Australia’s third-warmest on record.
Florida elections chief resigns when blackface photos emerge
By GARY FINEOUT
Friday, January 25
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s top elections official abruptly resigned Thursday after a newspaper obtained pictures of him in blackface dressed as a Hurricane Katrina victim at a 2005 party.
The revelation is a blow to new Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been trying to bridge racial divides after a bitterly fought election against a Democrat who was seeking to become the state’s first black governor.
The Tallahassee Democrat obtained pictures taken at a Halloween party 14 years ago that show Secretary of State Michael Ertel in blackface while wearing earrings, a New Orleans Saints bandanna and fake breasts under a purple T-shirt with “Katrina Victim” written on it.
The photos were taken two months after the deadly storm ravaged the Gulf Coast region and eight months after Ertel was appointed Seminole County supervisor of elections. The newspaper hasn’t said how it got the photos or identified the source.
Ertel, who had been on the job less than three weeks, resigned just hours after he testified about election lawsuits before a state legislative committee. He didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
“There’s nothing I can say,” he told the paper.
The Republican was the elections supervisor for Seminole County until last month, when DeSantis picked him to take over the state department that oversees elections. At the time, Ertel’s appointment was praised by both Republican and Democratic politicians as well as Democratic consultants who noted his lengthy tenure as a central Florida elections official. Ertel had yet to go before the state Senate for confirmation.
DeSantis said Ertel regretted dressing up in blackface but was right to step down after the pictures surfaced.
“I want people to be able to lead and not have any of these things swirling around,” said DeSantis, who was in Marianna to discuss relief efforts for areas hit hard by Hurricane Michael in October.
“I don’t want to get mired into kind of side controversies,” said DeSantis, who weathered accusations of racial insensitivity during his race for governor last year.
Democratic opponent Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum questioned DeSantis’ association with people seen as racially divisive. DeSantis also came under fire when he said voters should consider Florida’s economy and not “monkey this up” by choosing the “socialist agenda” of broader public spending he says Gillum espoused.
Rep. Scott Plakon, a state legislator from Seminole County and longtime friend of Ertel’s, called the sudden resignation a “huge loss” to the state of Florida.
“As a personal friend, I’m heartbroken,” said Plakon and added that Ertel had a good reputation in his home county.
He said he was surprised by the photos that surfaced.
“There was never any hint of any bias against anybody. He just ran darn good elections,” Plakon said.
But Ertel did play a role in DeSantis’ decision to suspend Palm Beach County supervisor of elections Susan Bucher last week. Ertel recommended the governor take action against the Democratic official, contending that she had violated state election laws and was incompetent. Democrats have sharply criticized Bucher’s suspension as being politically motivated.
DeSantis selected Ertel at the same time he picked dozens of other high-level appointments before he came into office. The incoming governor assembled a transition team led by his campaign manager and included others such as U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz that helped with finding people for the incoming administration. The northwest Florida Republican said Thursday in a text message that he “strongly” urged DeSantis hire Ertel but noted he had support from members of both parties.
Then-Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Ertel as Seminole County elections supervisor in February 2005 and Ertel won four elections to keep the office. Ertel’s background includes an eight-year stint in the U.S. Army and public relations work for government agencies and a bank.