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FBI seizes disputed Basquiat artwork from Florida museum

about 14 hours ago

She added that no one on the museum’s staff has been arrested.

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FBI seizes disputed Basquiat artwork from Florida museum

about 14 hours ago

By DAVID FISCHER

Associated Press

The FBI raided a Florida art museum on Friday and seized more than two dozen paintings attributed to artist Jean-Michel Basquiat following questions about their authenticity.

Orlando Museum of Art spokeswoman Emilia Bourmas-Fry said in a statement that they were complying with a warrant from the FBI for access to the ‘Heroes and Monsters’ exhibit, which is now in the government’s possession. She added that no one on the museum’s staff has been arrested.

“It is important to note that we still have not been led to believe the Museum has been or is the subject of any investigation,” Bourmas-Fry said. “We continue to see our involvement purely as a fact witness.”

According to a search warrant, federal art crimes investigators have been looking into the 25 paintings since shortly after their discovery in 2012. The controversy gained more attention shortly after the Orlando exhibit opened in February.

Basquiat, who lived and worked in New York City, found success in the 1980s as part of the Neo-expressionism movement. The Orlando Museum of Art was the first institution to display pieces said to have been found in an old storage locker years after Basquiat’s 1988 death from a drug overdose at age 27.

Questions about the artworks’ authenticity arose almost immediately after their discovery. The artwork was purportedly made in 1982, but experts have pointed out that the cardboard used in at least one of the pieces included FedEx typeface that wasn’t used until 1994, about six years after Basquiat died, according to the warrant. Also, television writer Thad Mumford, the owner of the storage locker where the art was eventually found, told investigators that he had never owned any Basquiat art and that the pieces were not in the unit the last time he had visited. Mumford died in 2018.

Orlando Museum of Art director Aaron De Groft has repeatedly insisted that the art is legitimate.

The exhibit was originally publicized to run through June 2023 in Orlando, the museum later announced it was ending next week. Bourmas-Fry said the art’s owners declined to extend the museum’s contract and were planning to send the works to Italy for exhibition.

“Based on my training and experience, I believe that the significantly advanced date of the international departure of the Mumford Collection from OMA is to avoid further scrutiny of the provenance and authenticity of the works by the public and law enforcement,” an FBI special agent wrote in the warrant request.

No criminal charges have been filed.

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Federal court blocks FDA ban on Juul e-cigarette sales in U.S.

about 14 hours ago

The FDA said Thursday that Juul must stop selling its vaping device and its tobacco and menthol flavored cartridges.

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Federal court blocks FDA ban on Juul e-cigarette sales in U.S.

about 14 hours ago

By TOM MURPHY

AP Health Writer

A federal court on Friday temporarily blocked the government’s order for Juul to stop selling its electronic cigarettes. Juul had filed an emergency motion earlier Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington so it can appeal the sales ban, and the court later granted the request.

The e-cigarette maker had asked the court to pause what it called an “extraordinary and unlawful action” by the Food and Drug Administration that would have required it to immediately halt its business.

The FDA said Thursday that Juul must stop selling its vaping device and its tobacco and menthol flavored cartridges.

The action was part of a sweeping effort by the agency to bring scientific scrutiny to the multibillion-dollar vaping industry after years of regulatory delays.

To stay on the market, companies must show that their e-cigarettes benefit public health. In practice, that means proving that adult smokers who use them are likely to quit or reduce their smoking, while teens are unlikely to get hooked on them.

The FDA said Juul’s application left regulators with significant questions and didn’t include enough information to evaluate any potential health risks. Juul said it submitted enough information and data to address all issues raised. The company said the FDA refused its request to put its order on hold to avoid a massive disruption to its business.

While Juul remains a top seller, its share of the U.S. e-cigarette market has dipped to about half. The company was widely blamed for a surge in underage vaping a few years ago, but a recent federal survey showed a drop in the teen vaping rate and a shift away from Juul’s products.

The devices heat a nicotine solution into a vapor that’s inhaled, bypassing many of the toxic chemicals produced by burning tobacco.

The company said in its Friday court filing that it submitted a 125,000-page application to the FDA nearly two years ago. It said the application included several studies to evaluate the health risks among Juul users.

Juul said that the FDA cannot argue that there was a “critical and urgent public interest” in immediately removing its products from the market when the agency allowed them to be sold during its review.

The company noted that the FDA denied its application while authorizing those submitted by competitors with similar products.

The FDA has OK’d e-cigarettes from R.J. Reynolds, Logic and other companies, while rejecting many others.

In 2019, Juul was pressured into halting all advertising and eliminating its fruit and dessert flavors after they became popular among middle and high school students. The next year, the FDA limited flavors in small vaping devices to just tobacco and menthol.

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Airlines aim to shift blame for flight problems to FAA

about 14 hours ago

Calio said air traffic is often disrupted “for many hours” because bad weather causes the the FAA to issue delays.

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Airlines aim to shift blame for flight problems to FAA

about 14 hours ago

By DAVID KOENIG

AP Airlines Writer

DALLAS (AP) — Airlines under scrutiny for widespread flight disruptions are renewing their criticism of the government agency that manages the nation’s airspace, saying that understaffing at the Federal Aviation Administration is “crippling” traffic along the East Coast.

Airlines for America, which represents the largest U.S. carriers, said Friday it wants to know FAA’s staffing plans for the July Fourth holiday weekend, “so we can plan accordingly.”

The comments from the industry group could serve as a pre-emptive defense in case airlines again suffer thousands of canceled and delayed flights over the holiday weekend, when travel is expected to set new pandemic-era highs.

“The industry is actively and nimbly doing everything possible to create a positive customer experience since it is in an airline’s inherent interest to keep customers happy, so they return for future business,” Nicholas Calio, president of the trade group, said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Calio said airlines have dropped 15% of the flights they originally planned for June through August to make the remaining flights more reliable, they are hiring and training more pilots and customer-service agents, and giving passengers more flexibility to change travel plans.

Calio said air traffic is often disrupted “for many hours” because bad weather causes the the FAA to issue delays.

“However, we have also observed that FAA (air traffic control) staffing challenges have led to traffic restrictions under blue sky conditions,” he added.

The FAA shot back, with a reference to taxpayer money that airlines received after the pandemic devastated air travel.

“People expect when they buy an airline ticket that they’ll get where they need to go safely, efficiently, reliably and affordably,” the FAA said in a statement. “After receiving $54 billion in pandemic relief to help save the airlines from mass layoffs and bankruptcy, the American people deserve to have their expectations met.”

The FAA said it has added controllers in high-traffic areas and added alternate routes to keep planes moving.

The airline trade group chief’s comments came a week after Buttigieg called airline leaders to a virtual meeting and threatened to punish carriers that fail to meet consumer-protection standards set by his department, which includes the FAA.

Buttigieg said he called the meeting after being alarmed by the high number of canceled flights around Memorial Day — more than 2,700 in a five-day stretch, according to tracking service FlightAware.

Thunderstorms can quickly snarl air traffic during the summer, but airlines have also acknowledged staffing shortages — they are hiring at a rapid pace to replace tens of thousands of workers whom the airlines paid to quit when travel collapsed in 2020. Pilot union leaders say their groups are being stretched to the limit, and more pilots report being fatigued.

The FAA has admitted that it too is understaffed, particularly at a key air traffic control center in Florida.

Calio said that facility, near Jacksonville, Florida, has been understaffed for 27 of the last 30 days, “which is crippling to the entire East Coast traffic flows.”

More than 500 U.S. flights had been canceled and more than 2,300 delayed by early afternoon Friday, according to FlightAware. That was better than Thursday, however, when thunderstorms on the East Coast contributed to more than 800 cancellations and 6,600 delays.

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Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade; states can ban abortion

about 14 hours ago

Pregnant women considering abortions already had been dealing with a near-complete ban in Oklahoma and a prohibition after roughly six weeks in Texas.

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Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade; states can ban abortion

about 14 hours ago

By MARK SHERMAN

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Friday stripped away the nation’s constitutional protections for abortion that had stood for nearly a half-century. The decision by the court’s conservative majority overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling and is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.

The ruling, unthinkable just a few years ago, was the culmination of decades of efforts by abortion opponents, made possible by an emboldened right side of the court fortified by three appointees of former President Donald Trump.

Both sides predicted the fight over abortion would continue, in state capitals, in Washington and at the ballot box. Justice Clarence Thomas, part of Friday’s majority, urged colleagues to overturn other high court rulings protecting same-sex marriage, gay sex and the use of contraceptives.

Pregnant women considering abortions already had been dealing with a near-complete ban in Oklahoma and a prohibition after roughly six weeks in Texas. Clinics in at least five other states — Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin and West Virginia — stopped performing abortions after Friday’s decision.

Abortion foes cheered the ruling, but abortion-rights supporters, including President Joe Biden, expressed dismay and pledged to fight to restore the rights.

“It’s a sad day for the court and for the country,” Biden said at the White House. He urged voters to make it a defining issue in the November elections, declaring, “This decision must not be the final word.”

Outside the White House, Ansley Cole, a college student from Atlanta, said she was “scared because what are they going to come after next? … The next election cycle is going to be brutal, like it’s terrifying. And if they’re going to do this, again, what’s next?”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA Pro-Life America, agreed about the political stakes.

“We are ready to go on offense for life in every single one of those legislative bodies, in each statehouse and the White House,” Dannenfelser said in a statement.

Trump praised the ruling, telling Fox News that it “will work out for everybody.”

The decision is expected to disproportionately affect minority women who already face limited access to health care, according to statistics analyzed by The Associated Press.

It also puts the court at odds with a majority of Americans who favored preserving Roe, according to opinion polls.

Surveys conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and others have shown a majority in favor of abortion being legal in all or most circumstances. But many also support restrictions especially later in pregnancy. Surveys consistently show that about 1 in 10 Americans want abortion to be illegal in all cases.

The ruling came more than a month after the stunning leak of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was prepared to take this momentous step.

Alito, in the final opinion issued Friday, wrote that Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that reaffirmed the right to abortion, were wrong had to be be overturned.

“We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives,” Alito wrote, in an opinion that was very similar to the leaked draft.

Joining Alito were Thomas and Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett. The latter three justices are Trump appointees. Thomas first voted to overrule Roe 30 years ago.

Four justices would have left Roe and Casey in place.

The vote was 6-3 to uphold the Mississippi law, but Chief Justice John Roberts didn’t join his conservative colleagues in overturning Roe. He wrote that there was no need to overturn the broad precedents to rule in Mississippi’s favor.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — the diminished liberal wing of the court — were in dissent.

“With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent,” they wrote, warning that abortion opponents now could pursue a nationwide ban “from the moment of conception and without exceptions for rape or incest.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that the Justice Department will protect providers and those seeking abortions in states where it is legal and also “work with other arms of the federal government that seek to use their lawful authorities to protect and preserve access to reproductive care.”

In particular, Garland said that the federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of Mifepristone for medication abortions.

More than 90% of abortions take place in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, and more than half are now done with pills, not surgery, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, which was at the center of Friday’s case, continued to see patients Friday. Outside, men used a bullhorn to tell people inside that they would burn in hell. Clinic escorts wearing colorful vests used large speakers to blast Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” at the protesters.

Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky and Missouri are among 13 states, mainly in the South and Midwest, that already have laws on the books to ban abortion in the event Roe was overturned. Another half-dozen states have near-total bans or prohibitions after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.

In roughly a half-dozen other states, including West Virginia and Wisconsin, the fight will be over dormant abortion bans that were enacted before Roe was decided in 1973 or new proposals to sharply limit when abortions can be performed, according to Guttmacher.

Outside the barricaded Supreme Court, a crowd of mostly young women grew into the hundreds within hours of the decision. Some shouted, “The Supreme Court is illegitimate,” while waves of others, wearing red shirts with “The Pro-Life Generation Votes,” celebrated, danced and thrust their arms into the air.

The Biden administration and other defenders of abortion rights have warned that a decision overturning Roe also would threaten other high court decisions in favor of gay rights and even potentially contraception.

The liberal justices made the same point in their joint dissent: The majority “eliminates a 50-year-old constitutional right that safeguards women’s freedom and equal station. It breaches a core rule-of-law principle, designed to promote constancy in the law. In doing all of that, it places in jeopardy other rights, from contraception to same-sex intimacy and marriage. And finally, it undermines the Court’s legitimacy.”

And Thomas, the member of the court most open to jettisoning prior decisions, wrote a separate opinion in which he explicitly called on his colleagues to put the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage, gay sex and contraception cases on the table.

But Alito contended that his analysis addresses abortion only. “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion,” he wrote.

Whatever the intentions of the person who leaked Alito’s draft opinion, the conservatives held firm in overturning Roe and Casey.

In his opinion, Alito dismissed the arguments in favor of retaining the two decisions, including that multiple generations of American women have partly relied on the right to abortion to gain economic and political power.

Changing the makeup of the court has been central to the anti-abortion side’s strategy, as the dissenters archly noted. “The Court reverses course today for one reason and one reason only: because the composition of this Court has changed,” the liberal justices wrote.

Mississippi and its allies made increasingly aggressive arguments as the case developed, and two high-court defenders of abortion rights retired or died. The state initially argued that its law could be upheld without overruling the court’s abortion precedents.

Justice Anthony Kennedy retired shortly after the Mississippi law took effect in 2018 and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020. Both had been members of a five-justice majority that was mainly protective of abortion rights.

In their Senate hearings, Trump’s three high-court picks carefully skirted questions about how they would vote in any cases, including about abortion.

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Aruba to Me; Harriet and Lee from Bolton

about 15 hours ago

Thank you for supporting our free newspaper, we strive to make you a happy reader every day again.

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Aruba to Me; Harriet and Lee from Bolton

about 15 hours ago

We would like to portrait you! By inviting you to send us your favorite vacation picture while enjoying our Happy Island. Complete the sentence: Aruba to me is ……. Send your picture with that text (including your name and where you are from) to: news@arubatoday.com and we will publish your vacation memory. Isn’t that a special way to keep your best moments alive?

Please do note: By submitting photos, text or any other materials, you give permission to The Aruba Today Newspaper, Caribbean Speed Printers and any of its affiliated companies to use said materials, as well as names, likeness, etc. for promotional purposes without compensation.

For today we have a fun photo shared with us by Harriet and Lee from Bolton Lancashire, Manchester in the U.K saying “Aruba to Me is: Udder Paradise”

Last but not least: check out our website and Facebook page! Thank you for supporting our free newspaper, we strive to make you a happy reader every day again.

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