KING: Here’s why the United States is not the best country in the world

The Fourth of July is a complicated holiday for African-Americans. We love the food, family and even the fireworks, but the actual history and rationale behind the holiday have never sat well with us. It's why Frederick Douglass, on July 5, 1852, gave the rousing speech in which he questioned the very soul of a nation willing to celebrate independence while simultaneously enslaving millions. Douglass declared, "I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today? What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?" When Douglass gave this speech, the United States had been celebrating its so-called freedom for 76 years — all while forcing millions of human beings into a permanent life of slavery. Now, 165 years after Douglass delivered this speech, it rings as true today as it did then. This Fourth of July, I saw many of my closest friends, everyday people and celebrities alike, echoing Douglass — either by quoting him directly or by sharing their own versions of the exact same sentiments. Perhaps none were as succinct and to the point as those from my friend Blake, who tweeted "F--k the 4th. F--k the flag. F--k the national anthem." I see very little difference between what Blake said and what Douglass said. Mind you, neither said that they hate America — but they Continue Reading

J.K. Rowling pens new series, ‘The History of Magic in North America,’ ahead of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ release

There's homework for Harry Potter fans to prepare for the upcoming spin-off movie, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." Author J.K. Rowling has written a series of four original new stories called "The History of Magic in North America," set to debut this week on Trumpeted by a teaser preview that debuted simultaneously Monday morning on, and, the series lays out some backstory about the American side of the world Rowling created for her books. "The Wizarding World you thought you knew is much larger than you imagined," a narrator teases in the preview clip. "History has many secrets. The official story is never the whole story." The four-part series will focus on: * The U.S. counterpart to the Hogwarts, Ilvermorny * Native American shape-shifting shamans. * The Salem witch trials * The Magical Congress of the United States of America, the official government body for wizards on this side of the pond. The first story debuts Tuesday at 9 a.m. on Rowling's interactive web portal. That will give muggles plenty of time to get their required reading in before "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" hits theaters on Nov. 18, 2016. With a script written by Rowling herself, the eagerly-awaited spinoff of the "Harry Potter" series is set 70 years before the Boy Who Lived lived. The first installment of a new trilogy revolves around "Magizooligist" Newt Scamander, played by Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne, who is out to round up the escaped creatures hinted by the title. Set in New York City, the film also stars Colin Farrell, Katherine Waterston, Samantha Morton and Ezra Miller. "Harry Potter" veterans, director David Yates and producer David Heyman, are back on the other side of the camera. Warner Bros. has high hopes that the film will be a worthy addition to a very magical franchise for the studio's accounting department. The eight "Harry Potter" films earned $7.7 Continue Reading

United States once had complete nuke ’em policy against Russia and China in event of attack: report

Full-blown nuclear annihilation of Russia and China was the go-to plan by the United States if America was ever attacked and the President was killed or went missing. Or at least that was the plan until October 1968, when President Lyndon B. Johnson ultimately nixed the emergency measure, according to a top secret document published for the first time Wednesday by the National Security Archive, a research institute in Washington, D.C. RELATED: DEFYING WARNINGS, NORTH KOREA LAUNCHES LONG-RANGE ROCKET The classified letter, which said it was “eyes only for the President,” referred to the response’s code name as “Furtherance.” A host of generals and cabinet members recommended dropping the policy, which seemed to put Russia and China in the crosshairs — even if they weren't the ones who actually hit us first. “We think it is an essential change. This was dangerous,” said Walt Rostow, Johnson’s special assistant for National Security Affairs, according to the document. Johnson and his Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed. “Since the Eisenhower administration, U.S. presidents had secretly approved instructions to military commanders authorizing or ‘predelegating’ them to use nuclear weapons in response to an attack if the president was killed or otherwise unavailable,” the National Security Archive said in a news release. RELATED: IRAN MAY QUIT ANTI-NUCLEAR ARMS PACT IF ATTACKED: ENVOY The new policy, however, allowed the United States to mount a more limited attack, which meant that if another country struck America in a “conventional” way, the U.S. wouldn’t immediately fire back with nukes. Military officials also said it was “unfair” to hold China to a nuclear attack if it wasn't actually involved with a Russian assault. In 2010, President Obama moved to narrow the instances in which the United States uses nuclear weapons, Continue Reading

Expanding Icelandair adds two more routes to the United States

Icelandair is continuing to expand its U.S. presence, announcing new routes to Philadelphia and Tampa.The airline will begin flying to Philadelphia on May 30, offering four flights a week to its hub near Reykjavik. The service will be seasonal, offered during Icelandair’s summer schedule.Icelandair’s year-round service to Tampa will launch Sept. 7. The carrier will fly two flights a week between Tampa and Reykjavik.BOOKMARK: Go directly to the Today in the Sky homepageIcelandair will fly both routes with its Boeing 757-200 aircraft. Connections will be available to about two dozen European destinations via Reykjavik."Tampa Bay and Philadelphia will further strengthen Icelandair’s presence in the eastern United States by better serving our passengers with faster travel times to more than 25 destinations in Europe,” Icelandair CEO Birkir Holm Gudnason says in a statement. “This is an exciting and significant moment for Icelandair and we look forward to welcoming both Philadelphia and Tampa Bay aboard in 2017.”With the new routes, Icelandair will offer either seasonal or year-round service to 18 destinations in North America. It’s others are Anchorage (seasonal), Boston; Chicago O’Hare; Denver; Edmonton; Halifax (seasonal); Minneapolis/St.Paul; Montreal (seasonal); New York JFK; Newark; Orlando (seasonal); Portland, Ore. (seasonal); Seattle; Toronto; Vancouver, Canada; and Washington Dulles.Icelandair also will beef up the service on at least one U.S. route it already flies. Starting this June, Icelandair's Denver-Rejavik schedule will increase from seven flights a week to nine. The extra two weekly flights will remain in the schedule through September.In a statement, Denver International says: "Icelandair’s double daily flights on Tuesdays and Fridays will mark the first time in Denver aviation history that a carrier has operated more than one daily flight to the same trans-Atlantic destination. Icelandair Continue Reading

Honda expands North America recall to over 600,000 Accords

Honda Motor Co Ltd is expanding a recall in North America to include more than 600,000 Accord mid-size sedans to address a potential power steering fluid leak problem that could cause a fire under the hood. Honda is recalling 573,147 Accords in the United States equipped with V6 engines from model years 2003 through 2007, according to documents filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In Canada, the number of affected Accords is 30,058, a company spokesman said. The addition of the Accords to already recalled Acura TL cars from model years 2007 and 2008 raises the number of affected vehicles in the United States and Canada to 660,086. HONDA PREPARES TO LAUNCH NEW HYBRID TECHNOLOGY IN HOPES OF BOOSTING LAGGING SALES The power steering hose in the cars may deteriorate prematurely due to high temperatures, resulting in cracks and leaks that could cause a loss of power steering assistance or smoke and possibly a fire, Honda said. The Japanese automaker said no crashes or injuries have been reported related to the issue, but one engine fire has been reported. HONDA HOPES REDESIGNED 2013 ACCORD WILL RECAPTURE MID-SIZED SEDAN MARKET SHARE, ANALYSTS UNSURE The company said the updated power steering hose necessary for the affected Accords will not be available until early 2013. If owners feel their cars exhibit symptoms related to a power steering hose leak, they should go to a dealer for an interim repair, Honda said. Owners will be notified by mail next year when the new hoses are ready for installation, but initial notification of the issue will begin later this month. The parts for the Accords are different from those used in the affected Acuras. In May, the Japanese automaker announced the recall of 56,881 Acuras, including 52,615 in the United States. Did you find this article helpful? If so, please share it using the "Join the Conversation" buttons below, and thank you for visiting Daily News Autos. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

6-ton satellite still set to crash Friday; will likely miss United States: NASA

A 6-ton satellite the size of a city bus is nearly ready to make landfall - and scientists say it likely won't hit the United States.But where it will crash is still anyone's guess."It is still too early to predict the time and location of reentry with any more certainty," the space agency said Thursday, "but predictions will become more refined in the next 24 to 36 hours."NASA did note that "the satellite will not be passing over North America during that time period."The defunct 35-feet-long and 14-feet-wide Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, which was decommissioned in 2005, is expected to mostly burn up during reentry on Friday afternoon. However, NASA warns that as many as 26 "potentially hazardous objects" could survive and the debris could spread over a span of about 500 miles.Should the objects come down in a populated area - a scenario NASA believes to be extremely unlikely - the possibility of a person being hit is one in 3,200. No one has ever been killed by space junk falling to the ground.Sky-watchers will undoubtedly be treated to an impressive light show when the UARS burns up during reentry, officials said, provided the weather is clear.The UARS was launched in 1991 to study the ozone layer and other chemical compounds in Earth's upper atmosphere. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Blackberry outage cripples users across United States, RIM working to fix email, message problems

The BlackBerry failures sweeping across the globe hit the U.S. Wednesday, exasperating users and hampering businesses dependent on the sullied smartphones. The annoying glitches, which affect messaging, email and Internet services, struck North America after infecting Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. Research in Motion Ltd., the Canadian company that makes the phones, attributed the disruptions to infrastructure problems in Europe and a backup system failure. That led to a mountain of backlogged emails and other messages and RIM officials said they were able to restore some service last night. That wasn't much comfort to hordes of frustrated BlackBerry users in New York and elsewhere. "I run a business off of my BlackBerry, and I can't do anything," said Christine Giachetti, of the upper East Side, who owns an eco-friendly tote bag company. "I think it's time to switch to the iPhone." Loren Schneid, a consultant from Tribeca, was even more blunt. "They're pieces of s--t as far as I'm concerned," said Schneid, 32. "They're a dying dog. They're just not keeping up with the whole consumer-friendly point of view that Apple has taken." Several BlackBerry users took to Twitter to air their outrage. "Dear BlackBerry, sort yourself out. You're meant to be a smartphone!" wrote a user with the Twitter handle, katierosejane. "I have a #BlackBerry, but it doesn't work," wrote benwakeling. "The equipment's there, but it's useless. This must be what it feels like to have a vasectomy." The outage has come at a perilous time for Research in Motion. The firm is under intense pressure from a series of rivals, including Apple, with stronger sales and splashier products on the market. The bug first struck Europe, Africa and the Middle East on Monday. The next day, the data issues spread to BlackBerry customers in Brazil, India, Chile and Argentina. Hours after the problems struck the U.S., Research in Motion's David Yach sought to calm nerves by Continue Reading

Kelly: Welcome to the Divided States of America

WASHINGTON – Two very different countries converged on this city for President Donald Trump’s inaugural ceremonies.And anti-Trump Nation.Welcome to the Divided States of America.Every presidential inaugural offers lessons about the current political landscape, often with profound references to the past and prescriptions for the future. Friday’s inaugural of Trump offered something else entirely -- a clear reminder that the deep wounds left by November’s election and more than a year of caustic campaigning had not healed.As Trump took his oath of office, protesters in the crowd chanted, “Not my president” – loud enough to be heard by the audience near the podium.   A few minutes earlier, during a welcoming speech by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, the New York Democrat and senate minority leader who has emerged as a vocal Trump critic in recent weeks, large numbers of Trump supporters booed – again loud enough to be heard by those near the podium. NEW JERSEY:  Like the nation, state's delegation is divided over Trump THE 45TH PRESIDENT:  Trump launches new chapter in American history N.J. GOVERNOR:  Trump's inauguration a low-key day for Christie IN HIS WORDS:  Full text of President Donald Trump's Inaugural AddressAs Trump began his 15-minute inaugural address, a woman darted from her seat and ran along a wooden runway where congressional staffers, diplomats and media were seated and yelled “illegitimate.”  After a tense few seconds, police bear hugged her and escorted her away. Trump did not appear to notice her.  But the moment was a poignant example of the tension that creased through this city – and the nation.Near the White House, police broke up a crowd of demonstrators – some armed with crowbars – by firing flash grenades and tear gas.Most protesters were not treated as harshly. But almost every corner seemed to be a Continue Reading

Who to blame for flu? Not China, but rather United States: study

The United States may provide an incubating ground for some flu strains, helping them migrate to warmer climates, U.S. researchers said on Thursday. For many years, researchers assumed that flu strains were mostly the product of China and Southeast Asia. But a team at the University of Michigan, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Florida State University found that not all strains of flu circulating in North America die off at the end of influenza season. Some of those appear to head to South America, and some migrate even farther, the reported. That may have happened with the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, they added. "We found that although China and Southeast Asia play the largest role in the influenza A migration network, temperate regions -- particularly the USA -- also make important contributions," said Trevor Bedford of the University of Michigan, whose study appears in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Pathogens. He and his colleagues tested genetic sequences from seasonal flu viruses collected from patients around the world between 1998 and 2009. They built a sort of family tree, charting the relationships among the viruses. The new understanding of flu may require public health officials to change some of their strategies for fighting flu, they said. For example, aggressive use of antiviral drugs such as Roche AG's Tamiflu could promote drug resistance if flu strains never really die out in the United States. "We found, for instance, that South America gets almost all of its flu from North America," Bedford said in a statement. "This would suggest that rather than giving South America the same vaccine that the rest of the world gets, you could construct a vaccine preferentially from the strains that were circulating in North America the previous season." The findings could also be used to keep better track of flu strains, the team said. "By doing this kind of research, we get a clearer idea of where in the world flu is Continue Reading

United States ‘abandoned Cambodia and handed it over to the butcher’ during pullout 40 years ago: ex-ambassador

PARIS — Twelve helicopters, bristling with guns and U.S. Marines, breached the morning horizon and began a daring descent toward Cambodia’s besieged capital. Residents believed the Americans were rushing in to save them, but at the U.S. Embassy, in a bleeding city about to die, the ambassador wept. Forty years later, John Gunther Dean recalls one of the most tragic days of his life — April 12, 1975, the day the United States “abandoned Cambodia and handed it over to the butcher.” “We’d accepted responsibility for Cambodia and then walked out without fulfilling our promise. That’s the worst thing a country can do,” he says in an interview in Paris. “And I cried because I knew what was going to happen.” Five days after the dramatic evacuation of Americans, the U.S.-backed government fell to communist Khmer Rouge guerrillas. They drove Phnom Penh’s 2 million inhabitants into the countryside at gunpoint. Nearly 2 million Cambodians — one in every four — would die from executions, starvation and hideous torture. Many foreigners present during the final months remain haunted to this day by Phnom Penh’s death throes, by the heartbreaking loyalty of Cambodians who refused evacuation and by what Dean calls Washington’s “indecent act.” I count myself among those foreigners, a reporter who covered the Cambodian War for The Associated Press and was whisked away along with Dean and 287 other Americans, Cambodians and third country nationals. I left behind more than a dozen Cambodian reporters and photographers — about the bravest, may I say the finest, colleagues I’ve ever known. Almost all would die. The pullout, three weeks before the end of the Vietnam War, is largely forgotten, but for historians and political analysts, it was the first of what then-U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger termed Continue Reading