TIME Theater

Opera Singer Fired After Homophobic Slurs Posted to Facebook Page

Singer performs during dress rehearsal of Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky's opera Eugene Onegin at Vienna's State Opera
Singer Tamar Iveri performs on stage as Tatjana during a dress rehearsal of Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky's opera Eugene Onegin at Vienna's State Opera March 3, 2009. Herwig Prammer—Reuters

She has placed the blame on her "very religious" husband

A seasoned opera singer from Georgia — the country, not the state — has been dropped from a major Australian opera company’s upcoming production of Otello in response to homophobic posts that appeared on her Facebook page.

Eighteen months ago, soprano Tamar Iveri’s account included some choice words regarding an anti-homophobia rally in Tbilisi, the capital of her homeland. These included comparisons between homosexuals and “fecal masses” and praise to compatriots who spat at the parade.

Long story short: a lot of people were upset, and some were upset enough to start an online petition encouraging the Australian government to kick her out of the country, and now Opera Australia has chosen to terminate her contract. She won’t be in next month’s production of Otello in Sydney, and a Brussels-based opera company has also excused her from its production of A Masked Ball next year.

Iveri, meanwhile, maintains her innocence, blaming her “very religious” husband for hacking her Facebook and posting the comments himself.

TIME States

Georgia Toddler Dies in Hot Car

The father of the 22-month-old was supposed to take him to day care on Wednesday, but went straight to work instead, leaving the child strapped in the hot car

An Atlanta-area toddler died Wednesday after being left in a car for hours, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The death comes amid a statewide campaign led by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to prevent child deaths in hot cars over the blazing summers.

The body was found Wednesday afternoon after the child’s father realized the 22-month-old had been strapped in a car seat all day. The dad was supposed to take the child to day care on Wednesday morning, but went directly to work instead. The high in Cobb County, the suburb where the child died, was 100 degrees.

The father stopped at a shopping-center parking lot to seek help, but the child did not survive. Authorities are reportedly questioning the father.

In late May, Deal launched the “Look Again” campaign, a partnership with early-education officials to warn adults that in “minutes the inside of your car can become a death trap for a child.”

[Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

TIME Death Penalty

Georgia Convict First to Be Executed After Botched Oklahoma Lethal Injection

Death row inmate Marcus Wellons is seen in an undated picture from the Georgia Department of Corrections
Death row inmate Marcus Wellons is seen in an undated handout from the Georgia Department of Corrections. Reuters

Convicts in Florida, Georgia and Missouri were set to die within a 24 hour period for the first time since the botched lethal injection in Oklahoma last month

Updated on 06/18/2014 at 12.01 a.m.

(JACKSON, Ga.) — A Georgia inmate became the 1st executed convict in the U.S. since an execution-gone-awry in Oklahoma led to a defacto national moratorium on the practice seven weeks ago. The state used one drug in the execution.

A group of convicts were set to be put to death in three state over the next 24 hours.

With Georgia’s inmate executed, the other convicted killers set to die by lethal injection are from Florida and Missouri.

The states had all refuse to reveal the source of their the drug cocktail to be used in the executions or if those drugs have ben tested. Lawyers for two of the men have challenged the secrecy surrounding the drugs.

States with the death penalty have long grappled with how to continue executing prisoners in a humane way. After the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in late May, human rights activists have upped the urgency of their call to force states to release information about the drugs used to kill prisoners.

In Georgia Tuesday night, Marcus Wellons was scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. ET for raping and murdering his 15-year-old neighbor in 1989. However, two hours later, the Associated Press reported that “officials were waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on an appeal.”

Just after midnight CT, John Winfield, who shot three women in the head in 1996 killing two and blinding the third, is scheduled to be executed in Missouri.

Finally, John Ruthell Henry is set to die at 6:00 p.m. ET in Florida on Wednesday. Henry was convicted of stabbing his estranged wife to death just before Christmas, 1985, then murdering her five-year-old son from a previous marriage days later. Testing has shown that Henry has an IQ of 78, the AP reported. The state says that anyone with an IQ over 70 does not qualify as mentally disabled.

[AP]

 

 

TIME justice

Court: Warrantless Cell Location Tracking Is Unconstitutional

A federal appeals court has for the first time said law enforcement can’t snoop on phone location records without a warrant

A federal appeals court has for the first time ruled that law enforcement must have a warrant in order to track a person’s location data from nearby cell phone towers.

“There is a reasonable privacy interest in being near the home of a lover, or a dispensary of medication, or a place of worship, or a house of ill repute,” the three judges of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in a unanimous opinion Wednesday. “That information obtained by an invasion of privacy may not be entirely precise does not change the calculus as to whether obtaining it was in fact an invasion of privacy.”

The ruling is a landmark victory for privacy activists.

“This opinion puts police on notice that when they want to enlist people’s cell phones as tracking devices, they must get a warrant from a judge based on probable cause,” said American Civil Liberties Union Staff Attorney Nathan Freed Wessler. “The court soundly repudiates the government’s argument that by merely using cell a phone, people somehow surrender their privacy rights.”

The case was originally brought in Miami by Quartavious Davis, who is serving more than 160 years in prison for several violent armed robberies. Davis appealed after phone location data was used as evidence in his case, but a judge declined to vacate his sentence, finding that the police acted in “good faith” in their investigation.

The U.S. Supreme Court has not yet issued a ruling on the question of law enforcement access to suspect cell phone location data. However, in a 2012 opinion — upon which the 11th Circuit judges based their opinion delivered Wednesday — the court found that using a GPS tracking device to follow a suspect’s location does constitute a search and thus Fourth Amendment considerations apply.

TIME Education

This Facebook Post Got 2 Dozen Middle Schoolers Suspended

Georgia students face suspension for commenting on a Facebook post that encouraged breaking the dress code

About two dozen middle school students were suspended over a Facebook post encouraging peers to break their school’s dress code, parents told Atlanta’s WSB-TV 2 News.

A Sunday Facebook suggested that students should violate the dress code by wearing the color red the next day at school. All two dozen students who either shared or commented on the post were suspended, even if they didn’t say they were agreeing to the plan. Some students were given the boot for up to 10 days.

Parents told WSB-TV that “the principal called the students’ actions a terroristic threat.”

School administrators will decide if the suspended students are to be punished further.

[WSB-TV]

TIME georgia

USDA: Georgia Can’t Drug Test Food Stamp Users

Georgia carry law
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal speaks in Ellijay, Ga., on April 23, 2014. John Rawlston—AP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a letter that the Georgia law scheduled to go into effect in early July violates federal policy

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will not allow the state of Georgia to force participants in food stamp programs to pass drug screenings first, authorities said Tuesday.

In March, Governor Nathan Deal signed a law passed by the state legislature that would require drug testing if a state employee believes with “reasonable suspicion” that a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participant is under the influence, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

The law is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, but Robin D. Bailey, the regional administrator of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, wrote in a letter posted by Atlanta’s NPR station, WABE, that this would violate Department of Agriculture policy, which “prohibits States from imposing additional standards of eligibility for SNAP participation.”

Georgia’s neighbor to the south, Florida, also tried to pass drug testing requirements for food stamps, but federal courts later declared those to be unconstitutional, the Associated Press reports.

TIME On Our Radar

In Paris, Photojournalism Hits the Streets

Pierre Terdjman shares many of his colleagues’ frustrations. “Each time I finish a story, it’s the same struggle to get my images published, ” he told TIME, “magazines are rarely interested in showing what’s happening in Egypt, in Georgia, in Afghanistan. Sometimes they’ll publish one or two images, but that’s it. So, everything started from a very selfish idea. I wanted to show my photographs. I wanted to inform people, show them what I’d seen.”

In February, fresh from his latest trip to Central African Republic, Terdjman, 34, called a few friends, printed poster versions of his images and, armed with brushes and a pot of glue, started posting his work in the streets of Paris, France. “The street is the ultimate social network,” Terdjman added. “You’re reaching everyone.”

The response was overwhelmingly positive, said the French photographer. “I reached out to some of my colleagues, including Benjamin Girette, and we founded Dysturb.” What is Dysturb? Moving beyond his own photographs, Terdjman has invited photojournalists to send some of their work to paste them on Paris’ walls. “The goal is to raise awareness about what’s actually going on in the world. We’re not looking to make a name or to degrade a city’s public spaces. It’s really about telling the story of what’s happening in CAR, in Egypt, in Ukraine.”

“We go to these places to bring back the news,” said Girette. “We often spend weeks getting the story so, of course, when we come back home, we want people to listen to what we have to say. But, in the majority of cases, we don’t get any feedback, especially if you’re a young photographer starting in this industry. Plus, the news moves too quickly. After a couple of weeks, no one’s interested in our work. Yet, these images remain important.”

Terdjman readily admits that he didn’t invent anything. “Fly-posting has been done for ages, in advertising but also in the art world.” And in photography, there’s JR, another French photographer and artist renowned for his Face2Face project where he used the Separation Barrier in Israel as a canvas for his portraits of Palestinians and Israeli people. “JR is doing a great job,” said Terjdman, “but what we’re doing is different. We’re trying to bring the news to people.”

Dysturb is the latest step in a movement that has seen photographers cut out traditional publishing avenues. With the popularity of social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, Terdjman and his colleagues have been able to build their own audiences, free of any editorial control. “Naturally, the next step was the street – that’s the only social platform that’s bigger than Facebook,” explained Girette.

For award-winning photographer Guillaume Herbaut, Dysturb also brings back documentary photography to its activism roots. “Photojournalism used to be a transgressive, militant act. Wild posting these images puts photography back in that context. It asks questions about representation and the different realities we’re faced with in this world.”

So far, the City of Paris has remained quiet. “We’ve had a run-in with the police once when they destroyed two of our images,” said Terdjman. “Otherwise, we’ve yet to hear from City Hall, but we’d love to collaborate with them to grow this project.”

While Terdjman is benefiting from a new-found popularity in the photojournalism community, his initiative won’t pay the bills. “But that was never the goal,” he explained. With each poster costing only $40 to print, and everyone working on a voluntary basis, Dysturb’s founders are focussed on expanding their operations to other cities in France and Europe, before taking on New York and San Francisco in the US. Later on, Terdjman will consider crowdfunding future operations.

Terdjman and Girette are already developing a new version of the Dysturb website that will bring more context to their images. “The new site will have a map of the different locations where we put up our work,” said Girette. “On that map, you’ll find the name of the photographer, the caption, but also a link to the full edit of images. We want to create a link between the image, the photographer and the story.”

If Dysturb achieves critical mass, then it will also be able to react quickly to the news. “Let’s say Vladimir Poutine, for example, decides to invade Ukraine tomorrow, we can react by putting up the same image in 10 different cities the next day,” said Girette. “We want people to wake up to the news. We want to spark a debate.”

And last week, the group was able to do just that, but for heartbreaking reasons. When one of their friends and colleagues, Camille Lepage, was killed in Central African Republic, they met in grief at a bar in Paris, before taking to the streets to paste her work all across town. “We will remember her,” the group said. “You will remember her.”


Pierre Terdjman and Benjamin Girette are freelance photojournalists and co-founders of Dysturb

Olivier Laurent is the incoming editor of TIME LightBox


 

TIME Crime

Elderly Georgia Man Found Beheaded, Wife Still Missing

Russell Dermond's headless body was discovered by worried friends after he and his wife failed to attend a party and answer calls. Authorities worry his wife Shirley, 87, may have been abducted

Federal authorities have joined the investigation of the brutal murder of an elderly Georgia man and the disappearance of his wife, CNN reports.

Russell Dermond, 88, was found decapitated in his suburban Atlanta home on Tuesday by friends concerned about his and his wife’s whereabouts. Shirley Dermond is reportedly missing, while Dermond’s head has not yet been recovered.

The gated community where the couple shared a million-dollar home is typically safe, authorities and residents have told news outlets. But when the Dermonds failed to attend a Kentucky Derby party last weekend, friends and neighbors grew worried.

Investigators, however, do not believe the act was random. Valuables including wallets, a purse, and both of their cellphones were found in the house. Shirley Dermond, 87, is described as a 5-foot-2 gray haired woman who weighs about 148 pounds. Authorities believe she was abducted and have begun searching for her.

“I don’t think it’s a random incident,” Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said, according to CNN. “I think for whatever reason these people were singled out for this.”

[CNN]

TIME Religion

Georgia’s Sweeping Gun Law Sparks Religious Backlash

Bishop Robert Wright Georgia Gun Bill
Bishop Rev. Robert Christopher Wright participates in a rehearsal for his installation service at the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel on the campus of Morehouse College in Atlanta on Oct. 12, 2012. Kent D. Johnson—Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP

Some church leaders are advising parishioners not to bring guns to services, after Gov. Nathan Deal signed what critics call the "guns everywhere" law. Critics include Robert Wright, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, who sent an open letter to 56,000 members

Robert Wright, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, sent an open letter last week to the 56,000 members that make up the dozens of Episcopal churches throughout north Georgia with a simple message: Don’t bring guns into the house of God.

The week before, Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law one of the most sweeping gun bills in recent memory. The Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, which goes into effect July 1, allows Georgia residents with concealed carry permits to bring guns into churches that give express permission, while lowering the fine for bringing a gun into a place of worship to $100. It permits guns in bars, school zones, government buildings and certain areas inside airports. It says the state no longer has to fingerprint law-abiding gun owners to renew their licenses, and that dealers won’t be required to keep sales records for state purposes (federal government record-keeping laws still apply). The NRA has called it “the most comprehensive pro-gun bill in state history.” Opponents have derided it as the “guns everywhere” bill.

But those guns won’t be everywhere. The new law has largely split the state’s Christian denominations between the Georgia Baptist Convention, which supports the bill, and Episcopal and Catholic leaders in the Atlanta area, who have strongly come out against it and expressly told their congregants to leave their guns out of the pews.

“Jesus did not preach a gospel of self-protection, a gospel of live by the sword, die by the sword,” Wright says. “Quite the opposite.”

Wright says that while he understands the need for Second Amendment protections for those wanting firearms for self-defense or for sport he sees the very idea of guns in church as blasphemous.

“Weapons in a place of sanctuary seem to me to be inconsistent with a God of love,” he says. “The prince of peace isn’t spelled P-I-E-C-E. It’s P-E-A-C-E.”

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta issued similar guidelines last week for its parishes, which encompass 69 counties throughout Georgia. “The last thing we need is more firearms in public places, especially in those places frequented by the children and the vulnerable,” Archbishop Wilton Gregory wrote in the May 1 issue of the Georgia Bulletin.

The Georgia Baptist Convention, made up of 3,600 Baptist churches throughout the state, lobbied on behalf of the bill largely because it gives its churches more autonomy, allowing each to determine on their own whether to allow firearms.

“We think it’s important that churches be able to make their own decisions,” says Mike Griffin, a pastor and lobbyist for the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Griffin says that while other denominations often determine policies from the top down, Baptists historically operate from a church-up approach, and the gun bill recognizes that sort of decision-making.

State Rep. Alan Powell, a co-sponsor of Georgia’s gun bill, says the law was written with those churches in mind and has no problems with churches banning guns.

“That’s their business,” Rep. Powell says. “But we had numerous churches testify about wanting to protect themselves from criminal elements. At times, when they’re counting tithes, for example, deacons weren’t allowed to carry a weapon.”

But Bishop Wright says he believes most people of faith in Georgia don’t want guns on church property. And it’s not just Christians. He says he’s heard from Muslim and Jewish leaders as well who oppose it, citing about 200 other religious leaders who have publicly spoken out against the bill.

“I don’t know how you reconcile Jesus who says, ‘Love they neighbor, love thy enemy,’ and at the same time being armed to the teeth,” Wright says.

TIME Bizarre

On-Air Reporter Gives Inspired Newscast of How a Man Robbed a Waffle House with a Pitchfork

Before you ask: Yes, props were used.


Atlanta newscaster Tony Thomas gave an inspired, prop-filled, on-air report last week about how a man robbed a waffle house with none other than a pitchfork. “It wouldn’t be an offensive weapon in your garden, but it was in a Waffle House,” Norcross police Chief Warren Summers told WSB-TV Channel 2. Watch Thomas take the “action” very literally as he reports the news in the way we imagine Ron Burgundy would.

(h/t: Uproxx)

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