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  • The sacred in Harry Potter

    first_imgIt might sound like a tongue-in-cheek item in The Onion, but a class on reading the Harry Potter books as sacred texts has proven a popular offering for the Humanist Hub at Harvard.Led by Harvard Divinity School graduates Vanessa Zoltan, M.Div. ’15, and Casper ter Kuile, M.P.P. ’16, M.Div. ’16, the class began as a reading group last summer at the Humanist Hub, where Zoltan is an assistant chaplain. It drew nearly 80 participants on its opening night, and is now starting its second year.Recognizing the potential reach of their subject, Zoltan and ter Kuile joined with producer Ariana Nedelman, M.Div. ’18 to put together a podcast. One successful Kickstarter campaign later, the group worked through final exams and wedding plans to produce the podcast, and the series debuted in May. It has since climbed as high as No. 2 on the iTunes top podcasts, and remains atop the religion and spirituality charts.A proctor and student, respectively, Zoltan and Nedelman met with the Gazette in the Yard to talk about creating the podcast, the intricacies of reading a text as sacred, and how they see the future playing out. The Boy Who Lived (Book 1, Chapter 1)In the premiere episode of “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text,” Casper and Vanessa talk about why they are starting this project and analyze the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone through the theme of commitment. GAZETTE: Where did the idea for “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” come from?ZOLTAN: I met Casper while I was doing work treating secular texts as sacred, and we became good friends. We had very similar values and similar projects that we were interested in, in terms of doing ministry for people who didn’t feel comfortable in traditional religious settings. I was running a class on treating “Jane Eyre” as a sacred text, and Casper came, even though he didn’t do any of the reading [laughs]. But he was super into it, and he was so supportive and so sweet. It was me and four women in this tiny room at the Humanist Hub, and he was like, “This was so, so great. But don’t you think it would be more fun if it was about a book that people actually read?”So it was his idea to do Harry Potter, and once we started talking he got even more interested in my work. He came to my thesis defense, and we pitched doing Harry Potter as a sacred text as a class to my boss at the Humanist Hub, Greg Epstein, and we started on our adventure together. So the way I like to say it is I liked the books a lot, but I had faith in Casper.NEDELMAN: Before coming to graduate school, I was working for Pemberley Digital, and the phenomenon around “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” was so interesting to me. Part of that was people were loving “Pride and Prejudice,” and seeing themselves so fully in Elizabeth Bennet and identifying with her. And the most beautiful part of my job was responding to fan mail. We’d get these people writing in telling us how this YouTube series had changed the way they were living in the world, had helped them with their disability or depression or whatever it was. Those moments were actually what inspired me to want to come to [Harvard] Divinity School, and then when I came and heard about “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” it just zeroed in on everything I was already excited about, about people finding literature as something that could resonate in their lives.GAZETTE: Could this be done with any piece of literature, or does it have to be good literature, or fall in the realm of Joseph Campbell’s hero myth, or something else?NEDELMAN: It really depends on the love. I think it’s dangerous to say that some literature is better than other literature because you end up drawing lines about what is great literature, which makes me uncomfortable. People are already doing this work with Harry Potter, that’s what’s important. Sorting into the houses is an example we always use. That’s part of how people will identify on Tinder, like I’m a Ravenclaw or I’m a Hufflepuff. And it’s not “If I were to be sorted into a Harry Potter house, it would be Ravenclaw,” it’s “I am a Ravenclaw.” And I think that the work of people who are already living through Harry Potter or seeing themselves in relation to Harry Potter in an intimate way is what makes what we do possible.ZOLTAN: But I do think that a text has to be what I call “duly complicated,” and how I define that is the three of us should be able to look at the same sentence and have four different readings; and I do think there is a risk when we treat something unworthy as if it is sacred. I think it’s a fluid definition, and I certainly think that in different contexts different things are sacred. The example I give is that the Bible is considered sacred, but if it was a Bible in a different language and you didn’t know, you might use it as a doorstopper. So we say that “sacred” is an act, not a thing, and I do think the thing matters. Some texts are more worthy and will give you more gifts than others, but I don’t want to be the arbiter of what counts as sacred. But I do think Harry Potter is uniquely qualified for endless amounts of speculation.The three founders of the podcast, from left, Vanessa Zoltan, Casper ter Kuile, and Ariana Nedelman. Photo by Robert MajovskiGAZETTE: What chapters are you most excited and least excited to do?ZOLTAN: I’m most excited and most terrified of doing the chapter at the very end where Harry walks into the woods [to sacrifice himself]. There’s so much potential richness to talk about, and as ministers trained in preaching you want to excavate the deepest possible lesson from the text. It’s about a young boy committing suicide to a lot of people, and then it’s about a young man doing something brave, and it’s also about a young man saying goodbye to his family, and it’s about mortality and the possibility of resurrection in the next life. I think that I’ll be less scared by the time we get there because we’ll have laid so much groundwork in previous chapters and conversations. But I think about that chapter frequently. Whenever I’m walking to something that I’m stressed about, I’ll be like, “Stop and smell the grass, Vanessa.” I think it’s so beautifully written, and his questions are so childlike. I did hospital chaplaincy, and I’ve sat with dying people in their 80s and 90s, and those are the questions that they have, too: “Will it hurt?” “How will it happen?” So the questions feel very innocent and childlike, but they’re eternal questions. She really transcended the story in the beauty of that chapter. I feel like, for that episode, we can just read that chapter aloud.NEDELMAN: I don’t know that there’s a specific chapter, but I know the books get increasingly dark and complicated. Right now this first book has a lot of lightness to it, and I’m just worried about week after week of dealing with these tragedies and how to make it a good experience for people and make sure that we tap into the complexity and richness of those things.GAZETTE: Part of reading a text as sacred means that there cannot be plot holes. For example, you discussed how Hermione lies to the teachers about being saved from the troll, almost for no reason, and you’re not allowed to then say, “Wow, [author] J.K. Rowling really screwed this one up.” You have to find a purpose for it. Are you confident that your interpretations are going to hold up over the next seven books, and how do you think you’re going to grapple with contradictions, if and when they show up?NEDELMAN: I don’t feel like we’re trying to make definitive interpretations of this text. I think it’s really important that we’re modeling the process of interpretation and of reconciling things. It’s important to be seeking what I’ve called perfection in Bible classes before, to believe that everything’s there for a purpose and that it’s there to teach us something. But I don’t think it’s going to be our purpose to look back at previous interpretations and be like, “Is that still true?” Part of the process is reconciling what we thought was true and now what is true and then making that make sense again.ZOLTAN: We’ll get emails about, “You said this in a previous episode, and now you’re saying something else,” but I’m not worried about it either. I had a moment like that with “Jane Eyre.” I don’t remember what it was, and I was like, “How can these both be true?” I felt like there was a mistake in the novel. So I was thinking about it out loud in front of [HDS Susan Shallcross Swartz Professor of the Practice of Christian Studies] Stephanie Paulsell and I was like, “OK, what are we doing here? The novel’s supposed to be perfect,” and she said, “Whoa, whoa, is it supposed to be perfect? I thought it was supposed to be sacred.” That was 2½ years ago, and it’s taken me 2½ years to come up with a remotely adequate answer to that. My mom isn’t perfect, but she’s sacred to me, and she’s a ball of contradictions, and there’s no rhyme or reason. There are a lot of things about her I can count on. She’s almost always going to be sweet and in a good mood — except when she’s not. And when she’s not, it could be for a good reason or it could be because a memory floated up in her head at that moment about something that happened 20 years ago, and I will never know. She’s not perfect, but she’s still sacred. So the books aren’t going to be perfect, but it’s not our job to treat them as if they’re perfect, it’s our job to treat them as if they’re sacred, which means loving them and treating them with rigor and faith and community. But the fun part of that is that in 10 weeks when it turns out we were wrong about how we interpreted something, we’ll have more information, so we’re just going to be rediscovering it.NEDELMAN: I also think we’ve made a commitment not to talk about J.K. Rowling and to take the text as what it is. So I think in saying the text isn’t going to be perfect we’re not saying she screwed up.ZOLTAN: Yeah, there are no mistakes. That’s what makes it sacred. This is where my rule [comes in because] that’s what makes it worthy. The three of us can read it and have different theories as to why Hermione does a given thing. So if there were only one possible interpretation of that, it wouldn’t be worthy of treating as sacred.GAZETTE: So given the continued increase in religious non-affiliation in the United States, do you think this sort of interpretation of art-that-you-love is how we maintain faith, by becoming Beatleists and Potterheads and Whovians, so to speak?NEDELMAN: For me, personally, I do think some kind of spiritual life is important. I believe that there are big questions that, whether in an institutional setting or not, as human beings we have to grapple with. And as people distance themselves from more traditional institutions, we need to give them space to do that. And I do think that can be anywhere as long as you’re willing to treat something in that way, that as long as you’re putting the time in to think about it complexly, to love it, to take riches from it, those places can stand in for traditional religion.ZOLTAN: I do think this is a deeply religious country, and it is a deeply theological country. The deepest theology that I want to rub up against in this country is that we get what we deserve. We believe in Manifest Destiny, and I don’t see that theology going away. We tend to believe that, at least as a meta-narrative, that the victims of natural disasters sort of deserve it because the richer people who work harder and live in the better neighborhoods aren’t as adversely affected. Or that kids from certain neighborhoods don’t deserve a good education. I really think that that comes from a Calvinist, Puritanical cultural history that is still a dominant narrative in this country. I think Americans believe that that is the way that everybody thinks, but I think it’s a uniquely American way to believe.Readers discuss the themes of the assigned chapters in breakout groups. In the center, Emily Colgan, the podcast’s social media coordinator, talks with Casper ter Kuile. Photo by Nick BohlGAZETTE: Have you guys been getting a lot of angry mail?NEDELMAN: We really haven’t! We keep expecting to.ZOLTAN: I got my first hate tweet the other night, and it was so polite. I thought, “That’s it?” We braced ourselves, but we really haven’t. We’ve gotten some like, “I disagree with you.” We’ve been called social justice warriors.NEDELMAN: I think we’re currently still the top podcast in religion and spirituality, which means that we displaced a bunch of evangelical Christian preachers, and I’ve always gotten the impression that evangelicals don’t like Harry Potter. I have a lot of friends who were raised evangelical who were banned from reading it.ZOLTAN: We’ve had some people write in to us about that, that they’ve only been allowed to read it since they left the church.NEDELMAN: But you would think that those people would see Harry Potter on religion and spirituality and think that it was an abomination.GAZETTE: How much of Harvard Divinity School is in each episode or in your process?ZOLTAN: I would say that there are competing voices in my in my head. My family and our history is a big story, that is, a big lens through which I see everything, and then literature and my love for literature is a second, and then the Divinity School is the third lens I see it through. And there are definitely key moments of conversation that come back to me.NEDELMAN: Even if you’re not actively implementing what you learned at the Div School, your experiences in certain classes and thinking about certain things affect the way you think about these topics. So it’s always infusing what you’re thinking about.ZOLTAN: The M.Div. is a very practitioner-oriented degree, and so I feel trained as a chaplain. I don’t feel like my training is done, I’m going to retake “Intro to Ministry Studies” this next semester. I still have mentor relationships with chaplains. I’m still very involved in my training.NEDELMAN: I’m still in the Divinity School, so I get to have that playground to think about what we’re doing. I get to have peers who ask why we’re doing blessings this way, and the institutional support to take a class like “Ministry in the Digital Age,” and to spend a whole class talking about this podcast, so that’s been wonderful.ZOLTAN: The Divinity School’s been so supportive. They’ve written us letters that have made us cry.“Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and SoundCloud. Classes for the reading group at the Humanist Hub start Sept. 14. Visit harrypottersacredtext.com for more information.This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.John Michael Baglione is a writer and author residing in Boston. His work can be found at johnmichaeltxt.com.SaveSaveSaveSaveSavelast_img read more

  • 9 leadership actions that build trust

    first_imgBuilding trust seems so cliche, which is unfortunate, because its importance simply cannot be overstated. Real trust is critical to a healthy team and organization, and any team or organization without it will find itself rotting away from the inside out.Be HumanThis one is foundational for many of the others. Leaders have to be human, and what I mean by that is that leaders have to be vulnerable and flawed with their teams. Instead of hiding faults and mistakes, leaders should own them, admit them, and apologize for them when appropriate. They should be quick to ask for and offer help. This cultivates trust on a team, and establishes this level of openness as a team norm. Soon, following their leader’s example, a team begins to be human as well, embracing their mutual humanness and vulnerability. This allows them to serve each other, help each other, engage in healthy conflict together, commit to each other, hold each other accountable, and much, much more. But leaders being human with their teams is the first step.Be HumbleThis goes hand in hand with being human, but being humble is huge. Now, there’s no human that’s humble all the time. We all have an ego, and it’s a constant struggle to keep that thing in check. But as leaders, we have to fight ego and work toward humility. It’s humility that will allow us to be open and human with our teams. It’s only humility that enables us to have any sort of self-awareness. Show me a boss without self-awareness and I’ll almost guarantee you that boss is about as arrogant as they come. continue reading » 70SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

  • Epsom & Leatherhead

    first_imgWould you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.last_img

  • Bill Nunn Jr remembered…Black pioneer journalist, NFL scout dies at 89

    first_imgBill Nunn JrHe said he always based his life’s decisions on where he could do the most good.Forner Courier Managing Editor and legendary Pittsburgh Steelers scout Bill Nunn Jr. died May 7 after suffering a stroke two weeks’ prior at a Steelers meeting in which he was helping the team put together information for the recent 2014 draft.He is survived by his wife Frances of 63 years, a son, Bill Nunn III, an actor; a daughter Lynell Nunn, an attorney; three grand children and one great grand-child. The viewing was at John A. Freyvogel Sons May 13, and the funeral was sheduled for Grace Memorial Church in the Hill District, May 14.Nunn had two great careers which impacted Blacks nationwide as he opened doors and kept doors open for Blacks in sports, as a writer, editor for the Courier and as a scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers.“I had some tough choices when I graduated from West Virginia State in 1948,” Nunn said. “I could have signed with the Harlem Globetrotters but I chose the Courier.  I chose the Courier because I could do more good.”Nunn left the Courier in 1969 to join the Steelers scouting team full time, once again stating that he felt he could do more good.He became the first African-American appointed to a front-office position with the Steelers and held the title of senior assistant in their player personnel office when he died.“We have lost a great friend and a great person who did so much for the Steelers organization with the passing of Bill Nunn,” said Steelers chairman Dan Rooney.“Bill was a special person who did everything in his career, from playing sports to being an excellent journalist, all of which led to his outstanding career in scouting for the Steelers.”After joining the Steelers part time in 1967 and moving to fulltime in 1969 Nunn more than anyone else helped channel Black College players into the NFL. Prior to Nunn there were not just a few Blacks entering the NFL from Black colleges but few Blacks period.Nunn, first through his work with the Courier, after replacing Wendell Smith as the principal sports writer crusading to get more Blacks into the professional ranks of football, basketball and baseball, after Jackie Robinson broke the color barriers in pro sports, and then as a scout for the Steelers.As the man who put together the Pittsburgh Courier Black College All American team which showcased the best of the best among Black Colleges, Nunn knew better than anyone the talent available at Black Colleges and he used this knowledge to feed these players along with others to the Steelers.Even though they all didn’t come from Black colleges, Joe Greene, L. C. Greenwood, Mel Blount, Frank Lewis, John Stallworth, Donnie Shell, Ernie Holmes, Dwight White, Glen Edwards, are just some of the players who were drafted by the Steelers through the guidance of Nunn, which led to four Steelers Super Bowls.The Steelers success led to other teams realizing that if they wanted to win or be competitive they had to go after the Black players not only from the larger colleges but Black colleges as well. It also forced major Division I football and basketball college programs to go after the top Black athletes, who had previously been going to Black colleges. This led to the NFL and NBA growing from less than 10 percent of the players being Black to more than 70 percent.“I left the Courier to become a fulltime scout for the Steelers because John Sengstacke, (the new owner of the Courier at the time) wanted me to leave Pittsburgh and go to Chicago. I’m a Pittsburgher,” Nunn said about his decision to leave the Courier at which he had worked for 22 years. He was the managing editor of the National Edition at the time. “I loved the Courier, but I knew it was in good hands. Plus with the great decline in the national readership and my working relationship with the Rooney’s I felt I could do more to help get more Blacks into the NFL as players, coaches, and front office personnel.”Nunn continued to put together the Courier Black College All American team for several years after leaving the paper.Even though Nunn never played or coached football, he was an inaugural member of the Black College Football Hall of Fame in 2010, joining the likes of Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Deacon Jones and Eddie Robinson. Nunn also was nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.He said that a conversation with Art Rooney, the Steelers founder and Dan Rooney is what led to him being hired as a scout. He said it also helped in that his father knew Art very well. They had been friends for years. Later Dan Rooney stated that in his conversation with Nunn Jr., about which direction the team should go in selecting players they agreed on just about every point.In talking about his decision to join the paper after graduating from West Virginia State instead of joining the Harlem Globetrotters, who had offered him a lucrative contract Nunn said. “My father never put any pressure on me to join the paper. I think he wanted me to play for the Harlem Globetrotters, who wanted me badly. But I chose the Courier because of its history, and what it was doing and what it was going to do. And I knew Wendell was leaving which would make me the main sports writer.”Following in his fathers’ footsteps, Nunn Jr. had some big shoes to fill. Robert L. Vann, publisher; Ira Lewis, business manager; and Bill Nunn Sr., managing editor; together built the Courier into the largest and most influential Black newspaper in the country. So when the young Nunn decided to join the paper his boss was his father, and the man he was replacing was the legendary Wendell Smith, but that didn’t faze him.He went on to build his own legacy as a writer and editor with the Courier then moved on to become one of the greatest scouts in NFL history helping turn the Steelers from a perennial loser to one of the greatest franchises in history, all because he always put the interest of the Black community first.He always spoke with great pride in the fact that he stayed in the Hill District, and lived in his father’s house.last_img read more

  • Final touches for Peter Mokaba Stadium

    first_img27 October 2009Peter Mokaba Stadium in South Africa’s Limpopo province is 96% complete and will be officially opened in January, the 2010 provincial technical committee announced after a meeting in Polokwane this week.“It is not surprising that Fifa and the Local Organising Committee in their recent visit were satisfied with our preparations,” said provincial 2010 co-ordinator Seipati Tlaka. “We are working as a team of winners.”Final touchesThe stadium needs only some paintwork and final touches to the surrounding lawns before it is ready for the 2010 Fifa World Cup™.To prepare for an influx of tourists, Limpopo Tourism and Parks will train garage operators and taxi operators along the province’s main roads in both customer and foreign languages.“This will assist in making sure visitors do not feel lost, and will enhance interpersonal engagements during the coming soccer showpiece,” Tlaka said. “In terms of readiness in disaster management, the Capricorn District added three fire-fighting vehicles to be delivered next month.”Some 2 300 citizens also applied for the 2010 volunteer programme, and will start training in January.Tourist attractionsCommunications manager from the Limpopo coordinating unit, Naledzani Rasila, said mobile cellphone suppliers have been asked to strengthen their coverage in surrounding areas.“Some of these areas are tourism attraction centres such as the Nwanedi Resort in the Vhembe district,” Rasila said.Celebrations to mark the 200-day countdown to the 2010 World Cup will kick off on 22 November.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

  • Chris Young Performs At Boots On The Beach Benefit Event

    first_imgComing off of National Military Appreciation month in May, Sandals Resorts continued its longstanding history of supporting U.S. service members by teaming with Sony Music Nashville to host the Boots on the Beach Vacation over Memorial Day weekend at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort in Jamaica.A country music celebration to benefit Boot Campaign, the event raised more than $10,000 toward promoting patriotism for America and the military community while providing assistance for the unique challenges service members and their families face during and post-service.“This weekend was a culmination of our ongoing support for U.S. service members and their families. It was our privilege to be part of an event which raised awareness and funds for such a worthy cause. These people have given so much. It’s an honor to do something special for them,” said Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, parent company of Sandals Resorts.“Country music has always had deep ties with the men and women serving our nation,” remarked Paul Barnabee, Sony Music Nashville’s Senior Vice President, Marketing, “and on behalf of our artists and all of us at Sony Music Nashville, we were very proud to partner with Sandals Resorts, Funjet Vacations, Alliance Connection and the Jamaica Tourist Board to present an event whose benefits honor the true spirit of Memorial Day.”Hosted by Katie Cook of Country Music Television’s Hot 20 Countdown, and with appearances by Boot Campaign Ambassador Taya Kyle, widow of American Sniper Chris Kyle and Boot Campaign COO Joey Jones, the weekend kicked off at Sandals Ochi’s Sundowner Bar with an acoustic jam session by up-and-coming artists Logan Mize, Josh Dorr and Cam. Guests were also treated to performances by platinum-selling artists Chris Young, Jerrod Niemann and Tyler Farr. In addition to the star-studded performances, the weekend featured exciting events with the country artists such as the Sandals Beach Olympics, a live performance pool party with American Idol finalist Casey James and a silent auction to benefit Boot Campaign. The holiday weekend also included VIP meet-and-greets and excursions for the military couples, including an Island Routes catamaran cruise, visit to Villa Rio Chico with the Sandals Foundation and a tribute performance at the Jamaican home of country music legend Johnny Cash, where Sony Music honored his musical success at Sony with a plaque commemorating sales of more than 14 million records.As part of the celebration, six deserving military couples were surprised with the vacation of a lifetime to attend Boots on the Beach Vacation courtesy of Funjet Vacations, known for delivering unparalleled travel experiences at an exceptional value. One of the couples, Tatiana & Phillip McGill of San Antonio, Texas, both Marine Corps veterans who met during their tour, were married in 2005 in a justice of the peace ceremony. Never having a traditional wedding or honeymoon, their Sandals Ochi trip was a welcomed addition to their love story and even featured a ‘first dance’ serenaded by Chris Young. In addition to the military couples, 20 sweepstakes winners were given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the Funjet Vacations Do Something You’ll Never Forget Meet and Greet VIP Experience, offering one-on-one time with all the artists.Sandals Resorts has a long tradition of honoring those in service, a commitment begun by Stewart following the Gulf War when Sandals donated vacations worth $1 million to returning troops, and then again with Operation Relax, which doubled the offer to troops returning from Iraq. Today, Sandals Resorts offers a 10% savings to all active duty, reserve or retired members of all branches of the U.S. Military and their spouses.Guests, sponsors and musicians also got a sneak peek at the all new Sandals Ochi Beach Resort, Sandals’ largest and Jamaica’s newest resort to-date. The completely renovated resort was rebuilt to offer a dynamic beach experience complete with stylish beach club vibes, chic exclusivity and innovative culinary concepts. Sandals Ochi Beach Resort features a fresh, modern design aesthetic along with seven uniquely new Gourmet Discovery Dining options, a fresh, trendy Ochi Beach Club, reinvented resort entertainment, upgraded luxurious accommodations and more.Boots on the Beach Vacation was produced in association with Sandals Resorts, Sony Music Nashville, Alliance Connection Productions, All Access Experience, Jamaica Tourist Board, Funjet Vacations and of course, Boot Campaign.Source:PR Newswirelast_img read more

  • Original Red Power Ranger Rediscovers America To Save Missing Child

    first_imgActor and original Red Power Ranger, Austin St. John, is to be featured and compete in season 11, Fireball Run: Big Country – and will at the same time join the search for a missing child.Austin St. John – Fireball RunSynopsis: Fireball Run is the real story of road warriors in a legendary competition across America in search of obscure historic artifacts, under-discovered places, and extraordinary experiences. And it’s all for bragging rights, a greater cause, and a plastic road sign.Available on Amazon, Fireball Run is a 26-episode adventure series which inspires viewers to explore the United States. Unlike Reality TV, Fireball Run, a Factual series, chronicles authentic experiences and notable places. To win the life-sized trivia game, teams take the road less traveled in an epic quest to re-discover America while also aiding in a massive effort to recover missing children.Paramedic, actor, author, martial artist, and original Red Power Ranger, Austin St. John was the first red suit in Saban Entertainment’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers television series and has since appeared in several Ranger revival shows. Austin recently starred alongside John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard) in A Gift Of The Heart. A Taekwondo and Judo expert, Austin also aided the U.S. armed forces overseas as a medic. Today the Roswell, New Mexico native keeps busy acting and connecting with fans on the convention circuit. Austin currently resides in McKinney, Texas.“When I first heard about Fireball Run I was intrigued by the unique adventure,” said Austin, who first learned about the series through his PR agent, Zach McGinnis. He continued, “But when I learned that by just being on the show I can help a missing child, well, that was it for me. My mighty fans and I are ready to get the word out on on little Alan.”While exploring America like never before, each team is provided 1,000 posters featuring a particular missing child to distribute along the 1,200-mile journey. Austin has been assigned 6-year-old Alan Rodriguez, who was last seen in Cedar Park, Texas on Sep 2, 2016. Fireball Run’s Race to Recover America’s Missing Children awareness campaign for The Child Rescue Network, a Florida based 501c3 charity, has aided in 49 recoveries since 2007.The nine-day, forty-team, point-based competition is filmed live in different cities. Using just clues, contestants find locations where they are to take part in a rare experience or unique challenge. Daily competition ends to a live event attended by spectators and media. Although the trophy is a plastic road sign, the real prize is the journey.Fans are encouraged to vote for their favorite contestant team at FireballRun.com, and to follow and interact with Austin St. John & Fireball Run on Facebook #AustinStJohn #FireballRun and Instagram #austin_st_john #fireballrunFireball Run: Big Country films September 23-30, 2017 in the destinations noted below.Eau Claire, WI (Green Flag City) Sep 23 – 24; Rochester, MN Sep 24 – 25; Dubuque, IA Sep 25-26; Burlington, IA Sep Sep 26/27; Fort Dodge, IA Sep 27/28; Vermillion, SD Sep 28; Yankton, SD Sep 29; Pierre, SD Sep 29/30; Rapid City, SD (Checkered Flag City) Sep 30.last_img read more

  • ExBlackwater contractor found guilty in 2007 Iraq shooting

    first_imgWASHINGTON — A former Blackwater security contractor has been convicted of murder at his third trial in the 2007 shooting of unarmed civilians in Iraq.Nicholas Slatten, of Sparta, Tennessee, was found guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday in Washington.Prosecutors say Slatten was the first to fire shots in the killings of 14 Iraqi civilians at a crowded traffic circle in Baghdad. The shooting strained relations with Iraq and drew intense scrutiny of the role of American contractors in the Iraq War.The defence had argued that Slatten opened fire because he thought a bomb-laden car was headed toward his convoy.An appeals court had overturned his 2014 conviction, saying he should have been tried separately from three other men. A jury couldn’t reach a verdict in his second trial last summer.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Presslast_img read more