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  2. 10 Facts About Washington & Slavery Home George Washington Slavery Ten Facts About Washington & Slavery Slavery Daily Life Enslaved Labor Washington and Slavery The Slave Memorial at Mount Vernon Slavery Database Youth French & Indian War Revolutionary War Constitution First President Martha Washington Slavery Native Americans Religion Family Despite having been an active slave holder for 56 years, George Washington struggled with the institution of slavery and spoke frequently of his desire to end the practice. At the end of his life, Washington made the decision to free all his slaves in his 1799 will - the only slave-holding Founding Father to do so. 1. George Washington first became a slave owner at the early age of eleven. John Trumbull's 1780 painting of George Washington depicts William Lee, an enslaved man who was Washington's body servant during the Revolutionary War. William Lee remained enslaved by Washington until the conditions of Washington's will granted him freedom in 1799 (Metropolitan Museum of Art). When Washington’s father Augustine died in 1743, George Washington became a slave owner at the early age of eleven. In his will, Augustine left his son the 280 acre family farm near Fredericksburg, Virginia. In addition, Washington was willed ten slaves. As a young adult, Washington purchased at least eight more slaves, including a carpenter named Kitt. Washington purchased more enslaved people in 1755, including four men, two women, and a child. Washington's changing views on slavery 2. At the time of George Washington’s death, the Mount Vernon enslaved population consisted of 317 people. Of the 317 enslaved people living at Mount Vernon in 1799, a little less than half (123 individuals) were owned by George Washington himself. Another 153 slaves at Mount Vernon in 1799 were dower slaves from the Custis estate. When Martha Washington's first husband, Daniel Parke Custis, died without a will in 1757, she received a life interest in one-third of his estate, including the slaves. Neither George nor Martha Washington could free these slaves by law and upon Martha’s death these individuals reverted to the Custis estate and were divided among her grandchildren. Status of the Enslaved in Washington’s Will 3. George Washington's marriage to Martha Custis significantly increased the number of enslaved people at Mount Vernon. After marrying Martha Dandridge Custis in January of 1759, George Washington's slaveholdings increased dramatically. As the widow of a wealthy planter who died without a will in 1757, Martha’s share of the Custis estate brought another eighty-four enslaved people to Mount Vernon. The stark increase in the enslaved population at Mount Vernon at this time reflected similar trends in the region. When George Washington took control of the Mount Vernon property in 1754, the population of Fairfax County was around 6,500 people, of whom a little more than 1,800 or about 28% were slaves of African origin. The proportion of slaves in the population as a whole rose throughout the century; by the end of the American Revolution, over 40% of the people living in Fairfax County were slaves. Martha Washington and Slavery 4. The threat of physical and psychological violence underpinned slavery. Slaveowners administered punishments to control their workforce. In his later years, George Washington believed that harsh and indiscriminate punishments could backfire and urged overseers to motivate workers with encouragement and rewards. Still, he approved of “correction” when those methods failed. Mount Vernon’s enslaved people endured a range of punishments depending on the alleged offense. In 1793, farm manager Anthony Whitting accused Charlotte, an enslaved seamstress, of being “impudent,” by arguing with him and refusing to work. As punishment, he whipped her with a hickory switch, a reprisal Washington deemed “very proper.” Charlotte’s response—that she had not been whipped for 14 years—suggests that physical punishment was sporadic, but not unheard of, at Mount Vernon. Learn More 5. The enslaved people at Mount Vernon practiced diverse religious traditions and customs Influences from both African and European religious practices can be found amongst Mount Vernon’s enslaved population. Some slaves at Mount Vernon participated with local, organized Christian congregations, to some degree. Also, Mount Vernon's enslaved community developed at least one spiritual leader from within their own community, named Caesar, according to a runaway slave advertisement from the spring of 1798. Further, the enslaved population at Mount Vernon had contact with at least three other Christian denominations: Baptists, Methodists, and Quakers. There were also several remnants of religious traditions from Africa continuing to some degree at Mount Vernon, including both Vodoun and Islam. Religion 6. On numerous occasions, people enslaved by the Washington household ran away in an attempt to regain their freedom. Mount Vernon’s enslaved community took opportunities, when possible, to physically escape their enslavement. For example, in April of 1781 during the American Revolution, seventeen members of the Mount Vernon enslaved population—fourteen men and three women—fled to the British warship HMS Savage anchored in the Potomac off the shore of the plantation. In other instances, members of the enslaved community who were directly connected to the Washingtons either attempted to or were successful in their escape plans. These individuals included Washington’s personal assistant Christopher Sheels, whose plan to escape with his fiancée was thwarted; the family cook Hercules; and Martha Washington’s personal maid Ona Judge, both of whom escaped successfully. Escape to the H.M.S. Savage 7. People at Mount Vernon also resisted their enslavement through less noticeable means. Running away was a risky venture that often did not succeed. As a result, Mount Vernon’s enslaved population frequently resisted their bondage through a variety of methods while working on the plantation. Individuals utilized less noticeable methods of resistance, including feigning illness, working slowly, producing shoddy work, and misplacing or damaging tools and equipment. More active methods of protest included actions such as theft, arson, and sabotage of crops. Theft was a particularly frequent act of visible slave resistance. Over the years enslaved people at Mount Vernon were accused of stealing a wide variety of objects, including tools, fabrics, yam, raw wool, wine, rum, milk, butter, fruits, meats, corn, and potatoes. Slave Resistance at Mount Vernon 8. In December of 1775, Washington--the newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army--received a letter from Phillis Wheatley containing an ode written in his honor. Front pages of Phillis Wheatley’s book. Washington wrote to Ms. Wheatley thanking her for a poem sent to the General in 1775. Phillis Wheatley was an enslaved woman brought to Boston from West Africa at just seven years of age. Uncommon for practices at the time, Wheatley received instruction in subjects ranging from Greek, Latin and poetry from the daughter of her owners. By age twelve Wheatley began writing poetry and by eighteen had become well-known for the publication of an elegy she wrote commemorating the death of a prominent preacher. In the winter of 1775, Wheatley sent Washington a letter containing an ode to the newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. The poem concluded: "Proceed, great chief, with virtue on thy side, / Thy ev’ry action let the goddess guide. / A crown, a mansion, and a throne that shine, / With gold unfading, WASHINGTON! Be thine." Washington responded kindly to Wheatley in a letter, the only known missive that he wrote to an enslaved individual, and even addressed the letter to "Miss Phillis," an unusually polite way for a member of the gentry to address an enslaved person. Although there is no proof that the two met in person, General Washington invited Wheatley in March 1776 to call on him at his headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 9. With little free time and control over their everyday life, Mount Vernon's enslaved population attempted to exert some free will and choice when it came to their private lives. Mount Vernon’s enslaved community usually worked a six-day week, with Sunday generally being the day off for everyone on the plantation. On a daily basis, in addition to their day's work, the enslaved had their own housekeeping work such as tending chickens and garden plots, cooking, preserving the produce of gardens, and caring for clothing. With precious little free time and control over their own schedules, enslaved people at Mount Vernon attempted to exert some control over their personal lives. Some spent their free time socializing at Mount Vernon, or neighboring plantations where their spouses lived. Others used their time to play games and sports. A visitor to Mount Vernon from Poland during the summer of 1798 recorded witnessing a group of about thirty people divided into two teams, playing a game he referred to as "prisoner's base," which involved "jumps and gambols.” Learn More 10. George Washington left instructions in his will to emancipate the people enslaved by him, upon the death of Martha Washington. Washington wrote his will several months before his death in December 1799. In the document, Washington left directions for the eventual emancipation of his slaves after the passing of Martha Washington. Of the 317 enslaved people at Mount Vernon in 1799, 123 of the individuals were owned by George Washington and were eligible to be freed as per the terms of the will. By law, neither George nor Martha Washington could free the Custis dower slaves. Upon Martha Washington’s death in 1802, these individuals were divided among the Custis grandchildren. By 1799, 153 of the people enslaved at Mount Vernon were part of this dower property. In accordance with state law, George Washington stipulated in his will that elderly enslaved people or those who were too sick to work were to be supported by his estate in perpetuity. The remaining non-dower enslaved at Mount Vernon did not have to wait for Martha Washington’s death to receive their freedom. Writing on the subject to her sister, Abigail Adams explained that Martha Washington’s motives were largely driven by self-interest. “In the state in which they were left by the General, to be free at her death,” Adams explained, “she did not feel as tho her Life was safe in their Hands, many of whom would be told that it was [in] their interest to get rid of her–She therefore was advised to set them all free at the close of the year.” In December 1800, Martha Washington signed a deed of manumission for her deceased husband's slaves, a transaction that is recorded in the Fairfax County, Virginia, Court Records. They would finally be emancipated on January 1, 1801. Washington's 1799 Will Teacher Resources New exhibition Slavery at George Washington's Mount Vernon Lives Bound Together explores the personal stories of the people enslaved at Mount Vernon while providing insight into George Washington’s evolving opposition to slavery. view exhibition Signature Tours Slave Life Tour Mount Vernon offers a 45-minute guided walking tour highlights the lives and contributions of the enslaved community who built and operated Mount Vernon, the plantation home of George and Martha Washington. Reserve Tickets Archaeology Slave Cemetery Survey Learn more about Mount Vernon's recent archaeological studies within the Mount Vernon Slave Cemetery. Learn More Slavery at Mount Vernon Learn more about the enslaved community that lived on the Mount Vernon farms. Learn More Digital Encyclopedia Enslaved Community of Mount Vernon Austin Ben Betty Caesar Carolina Branham Charles Charlotte Christopher Sheels Davy Gray Dick Jasper Doll Edmund Parker Edy Jones Fanny Frank Lee George Giles Hercules Kate Kitty Nancy Carter Quander Ona Judge Priscilla Sambo Anderson Tom William (Billy) Lee
  3. Trump approves five-week extension for small business pandemic loan applications By Katanga Johnson Reuters WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday signed into law a deadline extension to August 8 for small businesses to apply for relief loans under a federal aid program to help businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, the White House said. The extension to the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), which was launched in April to keep Americans on company payrolls and off unemployment assistance, gives business owners an additional five weeks to apply for funding assistance plagued by problems. An estimated $130 billion of the $659 billion provided by Congress is still up for grabs. Critics worry the U.S. Small Business Administrator's office, which administers the loan, may continue to experience challenges in fairly distributing the funds. From the outset, the unprecedented first-come-first-served program struggled with technology and paperwork problems that led some businesses to miss out while some affluent firms got funds. The SBA's inspector general found in May that some rural, minority and women-owned businesses may not have received loans due to a lack of prioritization from the agency. Reuters reported https://www.reuters.com/article/us-healt...SKBN2391S9 on Thursday that a technical snafu in a U.S. government system caused many small businesses to receive loans twice or more times, nearly a dozen people with knowledge of the matter said.
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  5. Governor Cuomo Announces Phase Three Indoor Dining Postponed in New York City 77,770 views •Jul 1, 2020 July 1, 2020 - New York City, Governor Cuomo announced that the reopening of New York City indoor dining, originally part of the city's expected entry into Phase Three on July 6, will be postponed as states across the country that previously reopened indoor dining are experiencing upticks in COVID-19 cases.
  6. Florida shatters records with over 10,000 new COVID-19 cases in single day Lisa Shumaker Jul 2nd 2020 1:52PM July 2 (Reuters) - Florida shattered records on Thursday when it reported over 10,000 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day increase in the state since the pandemic started, according to a Reuters tally. Outbreaks in Texas, California, Florida and Arizona have helped the United States break records and send cases rising at rates not seen since April. In June, Florida infections rose by 168% or over 95,000 new cases. The percent of tests coming back positive has skyrocketed to 15% from 4% at the end of May. Florida, with 21 million residents, has reported more new daily coronavirus cases than any European country had at the height of their outbreaks. To contain the outbreak, Florida has closed bars and some beaches but the governor has resisted requiring masks statewide in public or reimposing a lockdown. Only one other state has reported more than 10,000 new cases in a single day. New York recorded 12,847 new infections on April 10, three weeks after the state implemented a strict lockdown that closed most businesses. While the state has relaxed many measures, it requires masks in public and mandates anyone arriving from 16 other U.S. states with high infections self-quarantine for two weeks. Once the epicenter of the U.S. epidemic, New York saw cases rise by about 6% in June - the lowest rate in the entire country.
  7. President Trump is considering second round 'seriously' since first round 'worked very well' After President Donald Trump on Wednesday expressed support for more stimulus and potentially a second round of checks, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also said he could back direct payments. “We’re going to seriously consider whether we need to do more direct payments,” Mnuchin said at a White House press conference on Thursday. “Worked very well.” Read more: Coronavirus stimulus checks: What it means for your taxes Trump also said at the press conference that his administration has started working on the next phase of stimulus, but whether the additional unemployment benefits under the CARES Act would be extended or if there would be more direct payment to Americans remained unclear. Under the CARES Act enacted in March, the government sent $270 billion in stimulus checks as of May 31 to over 160 million Americans. Each payment is worth up to $1,200 per qualifying adult, plus a $500 bonus for children under 17. The act also added an extra $600-a-week in unemployment benefits that is set to expire at the end of July. Mnuchin added that a second round of stimulus payments would be sent to “legal Americans” only. The $3 trillion HEROES Act, which passed the House in May and has been held up in the Republican-dominated Senate, proposed $1,200 direct payment per individual with a maximum amount of $6,000 per household. Read more: Coronavirus stimulus checks: How to use your payment debit card The payments under the Act would also have been available to those with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) and their families. That means that more than 4.3 million adults and 3.5 million children would be eligible for the payment compared with the first round, according to ITEP. In the first round of stimulus, people without a Social Security number and nonresident aliens — those who aren’t a U.S. citizen or U.S. national and don’t have a green card or have not passed the substantial presence test — weren’t eligible for payments. 9 PHOTOS Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin See Gallery On Thursday, Mnuchin said he’s discussing the need for future stimulus and is, “having conversations with certain members of Democrats and Republicans to get ideas.” “Our position is that legal Americans — American citizens — should get the payments. That's our focus,” Mnuchin said. “If people are here illegally, they're not going to get economic payments”
  8. If Trump's looking for a 'hoax,' the mirror is a good place to start, Pelosi suggests Rebecca Shabad Jul 2nd 2020 11:27AM WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday expressed outrage at Trump for what she said was his calling reports about Russian bounties on American troops, Moscow's interference in U.S. elections and coronavirus a hoax — and she pointed to Trump himself as the hoax. In an interview with MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle, Pelosi was asked how confident she is in the level of participation by Republicans in an upcoming intelligence briefing about the alleged Russian bounties when Trump has called the reports a hoax. "He'll say this is a hoax, and it's a hoax that they are 24/7 trying to disrupt our election as they did in 2016. He says the coronavirus is a hoax. The fact is the president himself is a hoax," Pelosi said ahead of the briefing that she and other top congressional leaders, known as the Gang of Eight, were slated to receive Thursday morning. Pelosi added, "Let's hope that the Gang of Eight shows up, open to hear the truth, the facts, the intelligence, and that 'Moscow Mitch' doesn't show up, but the leader of the Republicans in the Senate comes with an open mind." Earlier this year, Trump referred to Democrats' criticism of his administration's response to coronavirus as "their new hoax," tying it to impeachment, but he did not specifically refer to the virus as a hoax. The president tweeted Wednesday that the reports of Russia paying bounties to Taliban-linked fighters to kill U.S. troops are a hoax. "The Russia Bounty story is just another made up by Fake News tale that is told only to damage me and the Republican Party. The secret source probably does not even exist, just like the story itself. If the discredited @nytimes has a source, reveal it. Just another HOAX!" Trump tweeted. NBC News has reported the U.S. has gathered intelligence that Russian intelligence officers have offered to pay bounties to Taliban fighters who kill Americans, according to three people briefed on the matter. However, a senior defense official downplayed the intelligence, saying there was no evidence that any bounty was actually paid. Pelosi also questioned Thursday what Russia may have on the president politically, personally or financially. "You just wonder what the president would be thinking if this kind of intelligence had come forth about any other country, but every time it's Russia, as I've said over and over. With this president all roads lead to Putin," she said. Later in the interview, she said, "I think the president should step down because of dereliction of duty."
  9. NYC moving ‘full steam’ ahead for school reopening in September: Mayor de Blasio By SHANT SHAHRIGIAN NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | JUL 02, 2020 AT 2:07 PM Stuyvesant High School students (Luiz C. Ribeiro for New York Dai/New York Daily News) The city is on track to reopen schools this fall, Mayor de Blasio said Wednesday. “We’re full steam ahead for September,” he said at a press conference. “The goal, of course, [is] to have the maximum number of kids in our schools as we begin schools.” Schools will use “every conceivable space” where kids can be taught while observing social distancing rules requiring people to remain 6 feet away from one another, de Blasio said. Schools are currently calculating how many students they can have at a time, he added. For those that can’t accommodate their full student bodies, they will put students on “staggered” schedules. “Some schools will be able to have all of their kids when you factor in total use of space — and probably every kid will not be there, to say the least,” de Blasio said. He was referring to a recent Education Department survey of 450,000 families that found three out of four respondents want schools to reopen in the fall. “75 percent will, I believe. Twenty-five percent may not, if you believe this very, very large and comprehensive survey,” he said, discussing how many students to expect returning to schools in the fall. Details will be shared in the coming weeks, the mayor said. The city Education Department is working with the state government, as well as leaders of educators’ unions, to finalize its plans, according to de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. RELATED GALLERY (Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News) 1 / 24 NYC reopens with Phase 2 after coronavirus shutdown Shortly after the press conference, a spokeswoman for Gov. Cuomo threw cold water on the announcement. “All such decisions are made by state government and not local government,” Dani Lever said in a statement. “The governor has said any determination is premature at this point and we will need to see how the virus develops. “We value the opinion of local politicians and the state’s 700 local school districts as to what should be done,” she added. “but the public should not be confused on this important decision that has practical consequences for many.” The city is expected to begin “phase three” of reopening next week — though leaders nixed plans to allow indoor dining at restaurants as coronavirus surged at hotspots throughout the country. Students will be recovered to wear face coverings once schools reopen, with materials provided for those who need them, de Blasio said. Schools will also get hand-washing stations and regular “deep cleanings,” he added. “We’re going to be ready to go,” Carranza said.
  10. George and Martha Washington enslaved 300 people. Let’s start with their names. In this portrait, George Washington (1732–1799) is shown standing on a bluff above the Hudson River with his enslaved personal servant, William Lee, on horseback behind him. (John Trumbull/The Metropolitan Museum of Art collection) Since this moment of reckoning has led to a prickly discussion about our Founding Fathers’ slave-owning pasts, let us take a moment, starting with George Washington, to think about the people they enslaved. Let’s start with the names. Because so few of us know them. Because their names have been omitted from history books and are barely mentioned in the many volumes that chronicle Washington’s life as a military hero and Founding Father. Austin Moll Giles Ona Judge Paris Hercules Joe Richmond Christopher Sheels William Lee That’s just 10 names of the more than 300 people enslaved by George and Martha Washington. They worked and traveled most closely with our nation’s first First Family as chamber maids, postilions, cooks, waiters, laborers, seamstresses and valets. Did you know that George Washington had only one tooth in his mouth when he became president in 1789, thanks to bad health and 18th-century dentistry? But his false teeth were not made of wood, as is often described in folk songs and lore. His dentures were made from the pulled teeth of slaves. AD Roll that around in your head for a minute. Did you know that the president was often unwell, having survived two wars and a nasty bout with a cutaneous form of anthrax? He was tended to by Richmond and William Lee during long stretches when he was unable to sit or stand. Did you know that some of the names belong to people who were “dower slaves,” legally controlled by Martha? She had the money in the family as a widow who was left with thousands of acres and hundreds of people when her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis, died.
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  12. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Holds Briefing | NBC News Watch coronavirus livestream coverage of the outbreak as COVID-19 spreads, impacting markets and daily life across the U.S. and abroad.
  13. NY Gov. Cuomo: Government 'Failed Effort To Stop The First Wave' | Meet The Press | NBC News In an exclusive interview with Meet the Press, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) talks to Chuck Todd about the resurgence in COVID-19 infection rates in states that opened more quickly than New York. » Subscribe to NBC News: http://nbcnews.to/SubscribeToNBC » Watch more NBC video: http://bit.ly/MoreNBCNews NBC News Digital is a collection of innovative and powerful news brands that deliver compelling, diverse and engaging news stories. NBC News Digital features NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, TODAY.com, Nightly News, Meet the Press, Dateline, and the existing apps and digital extensions of these respective properties. We deliver the best in breaking news, live video coverage, original journalism and segments from your favorite NBC News Shows.
  14. The Teenage Girl Gang That Seduced and Killed Nazis In the 1940s, sisters Freddie and Truus Oversteegen used their unassuming profile as teenagers to ambush and kill Nazis in the Netherlands. Mental Floss Jake Rossen Photo by iStock.com/D-Keine When sisters Freddie and Truus Oversteegen were young, their mother made them sleep in the same bed. This wasn’t an act of forced sibling bonding: Though the family had more than one mattress, all of them makeshift and stuffed with straw, they shared their modest flat with the Jewish refugees they regularly housed. The girls didn’t mind. Raised primarily by their mother, Trijntje, after their parents divorced, Freddie and Truus grew up as communists in what was then the village of Schoten (now part of Haarlem) in North Holland in the years before World War II. Trijntje taught the girls compassion for those less fortunate than themselves. The sisters made dolls for children affected by the Spanish Civil War. They gave up their living space for people fleeing Germany and Amsterdam. And when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, Freddie and Truus handed out pamphlets opposing the occupation and plastered warnings over propaganda posters calling for workers in Germany. It was dangerous and subversive work. When the Nazis invaded, Trijntje made sure the refugees they'd been hosting were sent away, fearing they’d be discovered because of her family’s known communist leanings. Many were subsequently deported and killed. This stirred a fire in Freddie and Truus. When the leader of a Dutch resistance group took notice of their radical bent, he asked Trijntje if she would permit her daughters to join. Freddie was 14. Truus was 16. Without knowing explicitly what they were agreeing to, the three women all said yes. And soon, the teenage girls were doing more than handing out literature. They were luring Nazis into the woods and assassinating them. Photo from iStock.com/AVTG. Freddie and Truus were, for a time, the only two women in the seven-person rebellion dubbed the Haarlem Council of Resistance. After being recruited by commander Frans van der Wiel in 1941, the two learned the basics of sabotage, picking up tricks like how to rig railways and bridges with dynamite so travel paths would be cut off; how to fire a weapon; and how to roam undetected through an area peppered with Nazi soldiers. The latter ability was a result of their appearance. With her hair in braids, Freddie was said to have looked as young as 12 years old. Few soldiers took notice of the two girls as they rode bicycles through occupied territory, though they were secretly acting as couriers, transporting paperwork and weapons for the resistance. The duo burned down a Nazi warehouse undetected. They escorted small children and refugees to hiding spots and secured false identification for them, which they considered of paramount importance even as Allied bombs went off overhead. But the resistance had one other job for them, one Freddie later described as a “necessary evil.” They were tasked with murdering Nazi officers and their Dutch collaborators because no one would likely see them coming. Some of Freddie and Truus’s assignments involved acting as bait. Once, while Freddie stood as a lookout, Truus entered a restaurant and struck up a conversation with a high-ranking SS officer. While flirting with him, she asked him to go for a walk in the woods. Once they were isolated, Truus and her companion bumped into a man along the same path. Unknown to the Nazi officer, the man was a resistance member. He proceeded to execute the officer and leave him in a hole that had been dug earlier. Freddie and Truus soon graduated to eliminating their own targets, which Freddie would later describe as “liquidations.” Sometimes the girls would ride a bicycle, Truus pedaling while Freddie shot from the back. They also followed the officers home to ambush them while their guard was down. While they considered the work necessary, it was difficult for the girls to accept. Sometimes, Freddie said, she would shoot a man and then feel a strange compulsion to try to help him up. Freddie Dekker-Oversteegen (L) and Truus Menger-Oversteegen (R) are awarded the Mobilization War Cross by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in 2014. Photo from Wikimedia Commons / public domain. The only mission they refused to act in was a plot to kidnap the children of senior Nazi officer Arthur Seyss-Inquart, the idea being that his kids could then be exchanged for imprisoned Dutch radicals. Fearing the kids might be harmed in the process, Freddie and Truus declined. The girls were joined by a 22-year-old former law student named Jannetje Johanna "Hannie" Schaft in 1943. The three women became inseparable, acting as a tightly coordinated unit for sabotage missions. For the next two years, they continued to target officers and elude identification, though the Nazis knew Schaft by her distinctive red hair. It was this colorful feature that would be the trio's undoing. In April 1945, just weeks before the end of the war, Freddie and Truus grew worried when Schaft failed to report back after an assignment. They were horrified to discover their friend had been grabbed at a checkpoint when an officer recognized the red roots of her hair, which she had dyed black to avoid detection. Schaft was executed on April 17, and lore has it she taunted her executioner after he failed to kill her on his first attempt. “I’m a better shot,” she reportedly said. Grieving over the loss of Schaft, Freddie and Truus tried to enter civilian life following the war. Freddie got married and had children, which she later said was her way of dealing with the trauma. Truus poured her emotions into artwork, sculpting memorials to Schaft, and wrote a memoir. The sisters later opened the National Hannie Schaft Foundation in 1996. In 2014, Prime Minister Mark Rutte awarded the Mobilization War Cross for their service during the war, recognition that had been a long time in coming. (For years, Freddie felt overlooked because she once belonged to a Communist youth group and believed the anti-Soviet Dutch government held it against her.) Truus died at age 92 in 2016. Freddie followed in 2018. It’s not known exactly how many Nazis the girls killed, as both were reluctant to discuss it later in life. When asked, Freddie would respond with, “One should not ask a soldier any of that."
  15. White House opposes $1.5 trillion House infrastructure measure By David Shepardson Reuters WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said Monday it opposes a $1.5 trillion proposal from congressional Democrats to boost U.S. infrastructure over the next decade, criticizing how it would pay for new spending. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is set to begin on Tuesday debating the measure, which includes a massive boost in spending on roads, bridges, public transit, rail, ports and airports as well as water systems, schools and broadband internet. A final vote is expected later this week. "America’s infrastructure is in crisis," House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, a Democrat, said. The country's "roads, bridges, public transit, rail, airports, ports and water systems are badly outdated, causing stress and safety hazards for our citizens, strain on our economy, and an enormous toll on public health and our planet." The White House said it was "not a serious proposal," saying it "significantly favored" urban areas over rural America and that the measure appeared to be "entirely debt-financed." Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to reauthorize surface transportation spending. White House officials confirmed earlier that President Donald Trump is expected in the coming weeks to unveil his surface transportation spending plan. Trump and Democratic leaders in April 2019 agreed to spend $2 trillion on infrastructure, but never hashed out how to pay for it. It appears increasingly unlikely Congress will pass any significant funding boost ahead of the November presidential election. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday opposed the Democratic bill, calling on lawmakers to take up a bipartisan measure approved by a Senate committee as a starting point. The "stakes are too high for yet another failure," it said. Congress abandoned largely requiring road users to pay for road repairs and has not hiked the federal gas tax since 1993. Since 2008, Congress has transferred about $141 billion in general revenues to the Highway Trust Fund. To maintain existing spending, Congress will need to find $107 billion over five years; the House bill transfers $145.3 billion.
  16. NHL: League says 26 players test positive for COVID-19 06/29/2020 21:07 NEW YORK (Reuters) - The National Hockey League (NHL) said on Monday that 26 players have tested positive for COVID-19, including 15 who reported to team facilities for "Phase 2 activities." Under the league's Phase 2 plan, clubs that met safety criteria were allowed to reopen training facilities for voluntary workouts with groups of no more than six players at a time, as of June 8. The NHL has been working toward resuming its season after it was halted in mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak, with an expanded 24-team playoff format in two hub cities that have yet to be determined. The NHL said that more than 250 players reported to club facilities as of Monday and had been tested more than 1,450 times for COVID-19. The league said 11 other players "outside of the Phase 2 protocol" also tested positive. "All Players who have tested positive have been self-isolated and are following CDC and Health Canada protocols," the NHL said. A flurry of positive tests among athletes have dented hopes for the return of professional sport in North America. The Tampa Bay Lightning reportedly reopened its facilities last week after briefly shutting down due to positive tests among players and some staff members.
  17. Joe Biden never was terribly bright, and, at 77, he is losing too much of the grey matter that he once had. Nonetheless, you don’t grab as many women as he has over the years and still manage to become vice president and your party’s presidential nominee without having something going for you. There is a Clintonesque (as in Bill; not Hillary) quality about Biden, and his shrewdness and resilience should not be overlooked. Insiders tell us that he is about to shock the country with his vice presidential choice. Biden has promised to name a female running mate. To win, Biden needs to do five things: (1) avoid any spectacular gaffes (2) win 90 plus percent of the African-American vote (3) win about 60 percent of the female vote, and (4) Pick a vice president candidate who will convince the electorate that she is capable of becoming president (5) Run a campaign that does not alienate either the Sanderites or the moderates in his party. His biggest challenge, aside from avoiding gaffes, is picking a VP candidate who will not turn off an important constituency. Another important issue, for Biden personally, is to pick a VP who won’t be scheming to have him be the first president removed from office via the 25th amendment. All this is not as easy as it might seem. For example, Biden could select Elizabeth Warren, but that would not play well with moderates; he could select Amy Klobachar, but that would annoy the Sanderites; or he could pick Hilary Clinton, who would turn everyone off. Furthermore, all of the above and most of the other names being bandied about would, if elected VP, be spending most of their time thinking of ways to make Biden look like a doddering old fool who is incapable of being president. Biden will almost certainly offer the vice presidency to Michelle Obama, and his advisors will make sure that the world knows that Michelle is his first choice. She would be satisfactory to almost everyone, but she will almost certainly decline his offer. None of this is a surprise. That is when Biden will shock observers by naming Jill Biden as his vice presidential nominee. If a charming former first lady is qualified to be vice president, so is a charming former second lady who has been around the Washington scene for more than 40 years. Who can argue with his logic? The Sanderites and the moderates certainly have other candidates they would prefer, but few of them will criticize Jill Biden, who will be happy to run things out of the limelight. Old Joe is still pretty cagey.
  18. Top 10 Things That WILL Kill You in 2020 Top 10 Things That WILL Kill You in 2020 Elpasso FEAR not, friends. I’m here to proffer a very specific list in the hopes that it will SAVE lives. Below is a list of the ten most likely things to KILL you in the year 2020. Read this list carefully and beware. 10. MURDER HORNETS – Yes, these little assholes were first reported around a month ago. They created quite the buzz (sorry). Not much has been reported lately, though. Why is that? Are they gone? Don’t bet on it. They are out there and looking to strike. Stay safe and avoid the MURDER HORNETS. 9. CHINA – Always a threat to eliminate human lives. China looms large in terms of patriotic danger. Issues may seem somewhat calm right now, but don’t let that fool you. China is still a very REAL and very DANGEROUS threat to all of your LIVES. 8. SHARK ATTACK – You didn’t think we’d forget about these jerks, did you? Sharks are EVERYWHERE, just waiting to scoop up an unsuspecting beachgoer. Beware of the beaches, and only attend if ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Avoiding the beach will likely save your life. 7. PROTESTERS – Peaceful? YEAH, RIGHT. These people are MURDERERS. Avoid all protests!! These people are dangerous and VIOLENT. They will eliminate you the first chance they get. Stay inside and keep your thoughts to yourself. 6. VIDEO GAMES – Electronic devices have been instilling a MURDEROUS mindsight into America’s youth for over thirty years. Video Games will teach your kids how to KILL. Next thing you know, they are carrying automatic weapons, looking for a grudge to settle. 5. POLICE – Serve and Protect? Don’t make me LAUGH! It’s been proven that ALL police are actively hunting American citizens. Don’t give them a reason to distribute their lust for murder. Stay inside, and, if you MUST go out, abide by ALL the laws, even the ones you aren’t sure actually exist. 4. 2ND AMENDMENT – A mainstay on this list. The 2nd Amendment has probably racked up the second-highest amount of KILLS in American history. Until this amendment is abolished, it will continue to blithely murder innocent citizens without any semblance of remorse. Do your part in sending this murderer where it belongs – the realm of abolishment! 3. TERRORIST ATTACK – Shocking to see this at number 3? I know, right?! This has held down the second spot for damn near twenty years. Don’t take the slippage as a hint that Terrorist Attacks are on the decline. They are still REAL and EVERYWHERE. Watch out for terrorists. Do your best to avoid public places – places most prone to an attack. They are happening here, now, and everywhere. 2. COVID-19 – And here it is! Rookie of the Year! A debut so powerful it climbed all the way to #2! COVID-19 is incredibly deadly. Not only is it deadly, but it’s EVERYWHERE. Stay inside. Wear your masks. DON’T TOUCH ANYONE. If you disobey any of the aforementioned rules, YOU WILL DIE. 1. DEATH – The undefeated #1 on the list of things that WILL kill you. Death has a 100% mortality rate. It gets you EVERY - SINGLE - TIME. I would advise you to avoid DEATH, but barring some scientific breakthrough, death is simply unavoidable. Do your best to evade DEATH for as long as possible. Stay safe. Don’t take risks. Do as you're told. It’s the key to living a long, successful life. And there you have it. It is my hope that this list will SAVE LIVES. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
  19. Los Angeles records 'alarming' surge in COVID-19 cases to more than 100,000 By Dan Whitcomb and Maria Caspani Reuters * Los Angeles health officials warn that hospitals could be overwhelmed * New Jersey, Kansas take new steps to stem pandemic (Recasts with new daily record set in Los Angeles) LOS ANGELES, June 29 (Reuters) - Los Angeles County recorded an "alarming" one-day spike of nearly 3,000 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, taking its total to more than 100,000 cases, public health officials said, warning that hospitals could soon be overwhelmed. Los Angeles and neighboring counties have become a new epicenter in the pandemic as cases and hospitalizations have surged there despite California Governor Gavin Newsom's strict order last week requiring masks in nearly all public spaces. "The alarming increases in cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations signals that we, as a community, need to take immediate action to slow the spread of COVID-19," Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for Los Angeles County, said in a statement announcing the sharp upswing. "Otherwise, we are quickly moving toward overwhelming our healthcare system and seeing even more devastating illness and death," Ferrer said. The county reported a single-day record of 2,903 new cases. California, which on Sunday ordered bars in Los Angeles and six other counties to close, is among several U.S. states including Florida, Texas and Arizona battling a new wave of infections as the nation emerges from weeks of clamp-downs on residents and businesses Texas and Florida ordered the closure of all their recently reopened bars on Friday. Democrats leading the biggest metropolitan areas in Texas on Monday renewed calls for Governor Greg Abbott to give them the authority to make decisions on mandatory mask wearing and social distancing to protect their hard-hit populations. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner asked Abbott to give local leaders back the powers they had in April, until an executive order from the governor nixed it: their ability to fine people who do not follow rules mandating masks and social distancing. NEW JERSEY, KANSAS TAKE NEW STEPS New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said on Monday that indoor dining will no longer resume on Thursday in the state as planned and would be postponed indefinitely. In Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly imposed a statewide mandate requiring residents to wear masks in public spaces, a move she said was necessary to avoid another shutdown. Beaches in Florida's Broward County and Palm Beach County will not open for the July 3-5 holiday weekend, officials said on Sunday, a blow to residents hoping to celebrate Independence Day there on Saturday. Miami-Dade County had already announced beach closures for the holiday weekend. AMC, the largest U.S. movie theater chain, on Monday said it was pushing back the reopening of its theaters to July 30 from July 15. Arizona and Georgia were among states reporting record new cases this week. Last week, a total of 15 U.S. states reported records, according to a Reuters tally. In June, 22 U.S. states reported record increases in new cases, often multiple times, including Alaska, Arkansas, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Utah. Face coverings have become a political issue, with some conservative politicians and many supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump arguing that such mandates are unconstitutional. The city of Jacksonville, Florida, venue for part of the Republican nominating convention in August, said on Twitter it would be requiring masks for all public locations starting later on Monday. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Monday that Trump "has no problem with masks and to do whatever your local jurisdiction requests." U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday pressed Americans to adopt face masks during a trip to Texas and wore one himself, a sharp turnaround for the administration. Other Republican politicians in hard-hit states also are now calling for masks. The New York Times reported on Monday that 43% of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 were linked to nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The paper cited its own tracking database.
  20. Oil falls in second straight session as virus cools demand By Florence Tan Reuters SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices fell for a second straight session on Monday as coronavirus cases rose in the United States and other places, leading countries to resume partial lockdowns that could hurt fuel demand. Brent crude <LCOc1> dropped 66 cents, or 1.6%, to $40.36 a barrel by 1150 GMT while U.S. crude <CLc1> was at $37.86, down 63 cents, or 1.6%. Brent crude is set to end June with three consecutive monthly gains as OPEC+ supply cuts and as oil demand improved after countries across the globe eased lockdown measures. However, global coronavirus cases exceeded 10 million on Sunday as India and Brazil battled outbreaks of over 10,000 cases daily. New outbreaks are reported in countries including China, New Zealand and Australia, prompting governments to impose restrictions again. "The market continues to fret about the recovery in demand as authorities reviewed reopening strategies," ANZ analysts said, referring to the three most populous U.S. states - Texas, Florida and California. Despite efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies including Russia to reduce supplies, crude inventories in the United States, the world's largest oil producer and consumer, have hit all-time highs. "There is also a risk that gains in prices recently could see some U.S. shale producers restart wells," ANZ said. Even as higher oil prices prompt some producers to resume drilling, the number of operating oil and natural gas rigs dropped to a record low last week. U.S. shale oil pioneer Chesapeake Energy Corp <CHK.N> filed for bankruptcy protection on Sunday as it bowed to heavy debts and the impact of coronavirus outbreak on energy markets.
  21. Grand Funk Railroad - Live in L.A. - 1974 (Video) Duration: 00:55:04 Quality: Laser Disc 576(i) Format: Mkv Video Codec: H.264 Audio Codec: AC3 Video: AVC, 692x568@738x568, 25 fps, 2500 kcps Audio: AC3, 48 kHz, 2 ch, 384 kbps 01. Footstompin' Music 02. Rock'n'Roll Soul0 03. Heartbreaker 04. Shinin' On 05. The Locomotion 06. We're an American Band 07. T.N.U.C. 08. Inside Looking Out Code: Select all https://rapidgator.net/file/82ed549399beeeaa4dcdfd4633547dd0/2737.1111v.2737.zip.html
  22. Republican senator sees effort this week to revive police reform debate in U.S. Congress 06/28/2020 20:23 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers will try this week to revive efforts to enact police reform legislation in Congress, a Republican senator said on Sunday, after moves to address police misconduct following the death of George Floyd deteriorated into partisan bickering. Senator Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate and author of a Republican reform bill that Democrats blocked last week, said he will meet in coming days with lawmakers who crafted sweeping Democratic legislation that passed the House of Representatives last Thursday. Scott suggested common ground on a Democratic provision to eliminate legal immunity protections for police, which has been a major stumbling block. "If there is a path forward, we should find it," Scott told CNN's "State of the Union" program. Floyd's May 25 death, as a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, sparked weeks of worldwide protests against police brutality and stirred strong public sentiment for effective reforms to American policing. But efforts to forge a legislative agreement in Congress have been hamstrung by a political shouting match between Democrats and Republicans, including President Donald Trump, who stirred fresh consternation on Sunday by retweeting a video in which one of his supporters shouted, "White power!" The video https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-video/trump-retweets-then-deletes-video-of-supporter-shouting-white-power-idUSKBN23Z0I9 was later deleted from Trump's feed. Scott said he spoke over the weekend to Representative Karen Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, a group of more than 50 Black legislators who crafted the Democratic bill, ahead of this week's expected talks. Scott and other Republicans oppose a Democratic proposal to allow victims of misconduct to sue police for financial damages, saying it would have a chilling effect on law enforcement. But Scott said he would be willing to consider legislation allowing victims to sue municipalities, counties and states. "There's a way to do so," he told CBS' "Face the Nation" program.
  23. Kiss Forever: Over 40 Years of Feuds and Fury The strange, contentious saga of the world’s most indestructible band. Rolling Stone Brian Hiatt KISS . Photo by Fin Costello / Redferns. All that’s missing from Gene Simmons’ home office is a cash register. He has stuffed a wing of his otherwise tasteful Beverly Hills mansion with Kiss merchandise, turning it into a shrine to his favorite guy, Gene Simmons, and the band for which he’s spent more than 40 lucrative years playing bass, breathing fire, spitting blood and waggling a tongue so freakish he’s had to deny grafting it from some unlucky cow. There are thousands of Kiss things in his lair, overflowing from glass cases: Halloween masks; life-size busts of the band members’ heads; dolls; action figures; coffee mugs; motorcycle helmets; plates; blankets; demonic Mr. Potato Heads; sneakers; bibs; a bowling ball. On one wall is a plaque commemorating 100 million Kiss albums sold worldwide. “This room,” says Simmons, adding extra portentousness to his baritone, “didn’t happen by accident.” At the far end is a Kiss motorcycle, a brightly airbrushed Kiss Kasket (the late Dimebag Darrell, of Pantera, is buried in one), a Kiss pinball machine and a Kiss throne emblazoned with a cute Hello Kitty version of Simmons’ demon makeup – Kitty-Kiss hybrids are hot right now. Just outside the office, in a place of honor, is a Kiss video slot machine. “This box makes more money than most bands that tour,” Simmons says, stroking it with a huge hand. Kiss still tour. But the only original members left are Simmons and the band’s frontman, Paul Stanley, two New York Jewish kids who shared a cleareyed ambition and zero self-destructive tendencies – smart guys who managed to write some of the most gloriously brain-dead lyrics ever (“Get the firehouse/’Cause she sets my soul afire!”). Drummer Peter Criss and lead guitarist Ace Frehley, the ones who took the whole party-every-day thing to heart, who crashed sports cars and threw furniture out of hotel windows, are long gone. You can sometimes catch Simmons and Stanley talking about their old bandmates with distant fondness, as if they were parked in their very own Kiss Kaskets, rather than living quiet lives in New Jersey and San Diego. Circa 1980, Kiss fired the tenderhearted, insecure Criss, who lost control of his drug use soon after singing the band’s biggest hit, “Beth.” The gifted but underachieving Frehley quit soon afterward, intending to pursue a solo career – which he did, though with less verve than he pursued the consumption of massive quantities of cocaine, tranquilizers and booze. Kiss recorded a disco hit and a ludicrous concept album. They stuck two new guys in weird new makeup, before finally unmasking themselves in 1983, beginning a long run as midlevel hair-metal hitmakers (Stanley looked pretty without his makeup; Simmons, not so much). They had already started work on an inevitable grunge album when, in 1995, Stanley and Simmons reunited with Frehley and Criss for an MTV Unplugged episode. They brought them back, this time as salaried employees, for six years of wildly successful but strife-filled tours – with the makeup back on. These days, Simmons and Stanley use two reliable hired guns instead, replacements who dress up as the old guys’ characters, to Frehley’s and Criss’ considerable distress. In the land of merch, though, Kiss is always just Kiss. It’s the white-faced likenesses of the band’s signature characters – Simmons’ Demon, Stanley’s Starchild, Frehley’s Spaceman and Criss’ Catman – that matter, not the men behind them. So what if the actual founders of Kiss have written wildly contradictory memoirs insulting one another? Their dolls get along just fine. In here, as Simmons likes to say, Kiss is a brand, not a band. “Kiss is like a cockroach that will outlive you all,” he says. “It’s bigger, even, than the guys who were in the band.” He means himself, too. On this cloudy afternoon, Simmons, 64, is wearing a tailored black blazer with a bright-red pocket square over a finely made black T-shirt, paired with black leather trousers and cowboy boots. Business on top, rock star on bottom. He’s six feet two, with a build that doomed the band’s early attempts at performing in drag (“I looked like Phyllis Diller with glitter,” he says). As always, his poodle-textured black hair hangs to his shoulders, in a style one comedian suggested was inspired by Planet of the Apes. “This is all me – a lot of spray,” he says, fondling the inert fur. “You’re welcome to play around with it.” He’s sitting in a leather office chair behind his desk, which is stacked with copies of his autobiography and DVDs of his reality show, Gene Simmons Family Jewels (“More episodes than I Love Lucy!”). Behind him is a giant blowup of his appearance on the cover of a magazine called Private Wealth. “I have a life-equity strategy entity called Cool Springs,” says Simmons (it helps rich people obtain mammoth life-insurance policies). “It’s difficult for people to understand, because they’ve been poisoned by the idea that rock stars are stupid. Jagger‘s pretty smart. Very few others are. If it wasn’t for their guitars, they’d be asking, ‘Would you like some fries with that, sir?'” When he’s not slinging button-pushing, right-wing lectures (he claims that the Vietnam War was a great idea), Simmons can slip into boastful defensiveness, but there’s something puppyish beneath it all, as if he’s daring you to like him. “All the credible bands can kiss my ass, with all due respect,” he says, apropos of not much, within three minutes of my arrival. “The original forefathers who are now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – and I don’t mean the disco or the hip-hop artists, what the fuck are they thinking? – couldn’t spell the word ‘credibility’ and never thought about it. It was an antithesis of the self-imposed mandate, which is, ‘Do what you want to do.’ In other words, no rules.” In April 2014, Kiss themselves were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 15 years after they first became eligible. The band members share a distrust of the institution, which represents a rock establishment that long dismissed Kiss as lowbrow purveyors of gimmickry – presumably in contrast to the dignity and reserve of a berouged Little Richard screaming nonsense syllables. “The most important thing,” says Simmons, “is that it’s validation for fans who were picked on for liking Kiss as opposed to, I don’t know, Air Supply.” As Simmons sees it, his band’s values have triumphed. Arena concerts of every stripe, from country to hip-hop, have long since embraced Kiss’ once-derided stage tricks: pyro, stage elevators, flying musicians. No one knows what “selling out” means anymore: The Grateful Dead have an entire division at Rhino Records devoted to licensing their brand; Bruce Springsteen‘s online store sells Bruce mugs and tote bags. And to Simmons’ delight, Bob Dylan (a hero who once helped Simmons write a song that he released on a solo album called Asshole) just did a Super Bowl ad. “They all come around to our way of doing it,” Simmons says. “Cherry Garcia, baby. The hippies lost. They really did.” * * * The Hall of Fame ceremony could have included a heartwarming reunion of the original lineup, but maybe that kind of thing is for hippies. Instead, Simmons and Stanley insisted on playing as the current Kiss, with guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer. “We heard, ‘We would like Ace and Peter in makeup,'” says Stanley. “And we said, ‘That’s not going to happen.’ That band is long gone. I question what Ace and Peter would look like in those outfits. We’ve spent 40 years building something, and to dissipate what we’ve done, or confuse it by sending mixed messages? What we offered was to play with Tommy and Eric and then bring out Ace and Peter to play with us.” Criss and Frehley were so insulted by that proposition that they threatened to boycott the ceremony. “I won’t be disrespected,” Criss says, sitting in his New Jersey home. “How can you put me in the Hall of Fame and then tell me to sit over there in the corner while another guy puts on my makeup and plays? That’s an injustice. To the fans, too.” Stanley was affronted by the Hall’s refusal to induct any of the musicians who played with Kiss after the original guys (several lead guitarists, plus two drummers: Singer and Criss’ original replacement, the late Eric Carr). “I don’t need the Hall of Fame,” says Stanley. “And if there’s not reciprocity, I’m not interested. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, practically every member was inducted, and virtually all 175 members of the Grateful Dead. Rules need to apply to everybody.” Simmons, meanwhile, says that Frehley and Criss “no longer deserve to wear the paint.” “The makeup is earned,” he adds. “Just being there at the beginning is not enough. You know, quite honestly, my hand to God? I would have preferred the same lineup all these years. But if I fuck up, I should be tossed out. And if you blow it for yourself, it’s your fault. You can’t blame your band members. ‘Oh, look what happened to me. Oh, poor me.’ Look at my little violin. I have no sympathy.” Hanging out in his San Diego condo, Frehley says that the resistance to a reunion is all business: After all, the current lineup has a summer tour planned. “The reason they don’t want to perform with me and Peter,” he says, “is because the last time they did, they had to do a reunion tour. We play three songs, the fans go crazy. They don’t want to open up a can of worms.” Frehley and Criss may not get the performance they want, but it looks like they won’t have to see anyone else in their makeup. Outmaneuvered, for once, Stanley and Simmons announced in late February that they wouldn’t perform at all. * * * There is no Kiss memorabilia on display in Paul Stanley’s house. “I know what I’ve accomplished,” says Stanley, “so I don’t need to see it. My friends don’t need to see it. And it can also be misleading, because the impression it might give is that you’re responsible for more than you actually were.” Stanley lives in Beverly Hills just five minutes from Simmons, with three young kids and his wife of eight years, Erin, a former attorney (he also has a 19-year-old son from a previous marriage). But they don’t get over to each others’ places much. Stanley’s house is a tastefully proportioned Mediterranean-style structure, with a guesthouse in back; he owns enough acres around the property that he’s considering starting a vineyard. He’s sitting in his immaculate, fussily decorated living room, wearing black jeans and a V-neck tee that exposes impressively muscled biceps, along with a very familiar thatch of chest hair. Even with his makeup off, even at age 62, he looks like the Starchild – you half-expect to blink and find him transformed, ready to rock. On the wall opposite him is a painting of a textured orb, which turns out to be his work. “I’ve done multiple-seven-figures in sales of art,” he says. Sadly, his sedate speaking voice bears no resemblance to his jive-y, throat-shredding aw yeah stage-banter shout, which began as an imitation of Steve Marriott’s preacher-man shtick. Kiss’ only enduring relationship is between Simmons and Stanley. “We’ve always seen each other as brothers,” Stanley says. “What we seem to be at odds at is how you treat your brother. Gene’s priority, by far, has always been himself. And he’s not one to let anyone else’s feelings or contributions get in the way.” Stanley comes off as friendly and warm, though he can be chillingly blunt in assessing his old bandmates. But if you believe Criss and Frehley, he is a Dick Cheney-like figure in Kiss, the real power behind a flashier figurehead. “Pauly’s the one you’ve got to watch for,” says Criss. “He’ll leave this building, and then you’ll go, ‘Holy fucking shit, he cut my throat.’ He really is the leader of Kiss. He’s the guy who pulls the strings – trust me.” Stanley doesn’t show any evil mastermind tendencies during our day together, as he lifts his daughters in the air (“I love you, little people,” he says); closes his eyes while grooving on old Zeppelin tracks blasting from the spectacular stereo he’s set up in a guesthouse man cave; shows off a photo where he’s flipping pizza dough with impressive professionalism; and tools around Beverly Hills in an SUV filled with kids’ DVDs. Each night, he says, he thanks his wife for their life together before they go to sleep. “I know two people who demonize me,” he says. “It’s funny, because I don’t know anyone else who does. I can’t possibly be responsible for those guys’ situations or failures. Any more than I can make someone else responsible for mine.” Stanley does agree that Simmons’ prominence as a band spokesman is misleading. “Gene’s makeup is the face of Kiss,” he says. “It’s the strongest. But the idea that he’s the motivating force in the band – that’s only believed by people who don’t know the band.” Once Frehley was out of Kiss, it was up to Simmons and Stanley to keep the band alive – and Simmons was busy pursuing an acting career and other projects, including managing Liza Minnelli’s career. Stanley felt abandoned. “And it wasn’t like he was making Gone With the Wind,” he says. “Some of it was more like passing wind! But what I resented was just being informed and then working to his plan. It didn’t seem fair.” He considers Kiss’ 1984 album, Animalize, close to a Paul Stanley solo album. “I could deal with that. What I couldn’t deal with was that somebody wanted to be paid for not doing their job. If it applied to Ace and Peter, it applies to Gene, too.” He laughs when he hears that Simmons played me some of the very un-Kiss-like ballads he writes for fun. “Gene loves the sound of his own voice,” he says. In all those episodes of Simmons’ reality show – 167 of them – Stanley never appeared, despite many requests. “Because it wasn’t reality,” he says, laughing again. “To create a life that isn’t accurate and for me to be a part of it, or to help you promote something that I think is questionable . . . and, quite honestly, waste my time? You’re missing out on living a real life if you’re filming a fake one.” Presented with a list of Stanley’s beefs with him, Simmons simply pleads guilty. “The luckiest break I ever got was meeting Paul Stanley,” he says. “Who hated me when he first met me – thought I was arrogant. True! Self-absorbed. True! Guilty as charged. Thinks that he’s better than he actually is. Guilty as charged. And yet something in that mixture between us – you know they say that purebred dogs are retarded. It is the differences in things that make something stronger.” When I ask Stanley if the two men have ever sat down to work out their differences, he’s genuinely confused. “I’m curious . . . what’s there to work out?” he says. “The fact that we have 40-plus years between us means we worked it out.” Grappling with Simmons’ ego was a modest challenge compared to what Stanley faced in his early life. Born Stanley Eisen, he grew up in Queens with distant parents stuck in an unhappy marriage, and a mentally ill sister. He had a congenital deformity called microtia, which left him deaf on his right side, with “nothing more than a stump” where that ear should have been. As he writes in his new memoir, a kindergarten bully called him “Stanley the One-Eared Monster.” “The physical manifestations of it were horrendous,” he says. “If you wore a shirt that was ridiculous, once people start staring at you, you go and change your shirt. But people with birth defects don’t get to change it. So you live with it, and you live with constant scrutiny.” He struggled with depression, and at the age of 15, with no assistance from his parents, found himself a psychiatrist who helped him move forward. In the early Eighties, he underwent reconstructive surgeries, with doctors constructing an ear with tissue taken from his rib cage. As much as for anyone in the band, Kiss’ makeup suited Stanley’s psychological needs. “Paul invented himself,” says Simmons. “He was a pudgy little Jewish kid and had the ear thing going on, so his self-esteem issues were whatever they were. He invented Paul Stanley, the name, his look, patterned after the English version of what a rock star is.” It took Stanley years for his real life to catch up with the illusion he created onstage. For a long while, he’d come home from tours and find himself alone on a couch, a rock star without any place to go. “In the beginning, the Starchild was the Wizard of Oz,” he says. “It was a little guy behind the curtain moving the controls. But over time, the two kind of melded together and came to terms with living as one.” * * * Kiss began as a shaggier, far duller band called Wicked Lester, also led by Simmons and Stanley. They had met through a mutual friend, guitarist Stephen Coronel, and soon had written enough strong songs to win a deal with Epic Records. They spent months making a generic, over-produced album (“We sounded like a cross between Three Dog Night and the Doobie Brothers,” says Simmons) that everyone hated. The pair quit the band, but not their partnership. They wanted to do something different. “We knew what we liked,” says Simmons. “The English version of American rock & roll. They were better-looking, they played better. It was far cooler than the San Francisco stuff, where the guys onstage looked worse than the people in the audience.” They began writing new songs, liberally borrowing bits of all the rock they loved. Until egos pulled them apart, Stanley and Simmons were a true writing team: King and Goffin in greasepaint, Bizarro-world Becker and Fagen. The sound they were leaning toward was tight and hooky – the first demo version of “Strutter” is pure power pop, not that different from Big Star’s “In the Street.” “We’ve always been about verses, choruses, bridges,” says Stanley. “It’s called a hook for a reason, because it grabs you. And that’s my mentality. Give me the Raspberries. Give me Small Faces. Give me Big Star.” Seeking a drummer, they responded to an ad in Rolling Stone‘s classifieds: “Expd. Rock & roll drummer looking for orig. grp.” It was placed by one Peter Criscuola, a 26-year-old Italian-American kid, schooled on jazz and Motown, who was convinced he was running out of time to make it as a rock star. Simmons asked if he would wear a dress onstage. Absolutely, said Criss, who was playing in a cover band at a Mafia-run club in Brooklyn. Simmons and Stanley had wanted a heavy, Zeppelin-y feel to the rhythm section, but Criss’ swinging, behind-the-beat feel kept them lighter on their feet – even if he was so instinctual that he rarely played songs the same way twice. There were immediate signs of personality differences: Over a slice of pizza at their first meeting, Criss blurted out that he had a nine-inch penis, a piece of information that his colleagues didn’t know how to process. “He was a Sopranos guy, a Godfather guy,” says Simmons. “You know the Italian alphabet? Fuckin’ A, Fuckin’ B?” “They had fired their whole band,” Criss says. “That should’ve let me know something then and there, the first time I met them! But I remember comin’ home to my mom, sayin’, ‘Ma, it ain’t my kind of music, but we could become a really great rock & roll band.'” As with the New York Dolls, there was something prescient in the flayed-to-the-bone style they were developing, its rawness a rejoinder to prog-hippie excess. A teenager named Jeffrey Hyman attended Kiss’ first gig, in Queens, and he’d later dub them “the loudest band I’d ever heard.” He was soon calling himself Joey Ramone. They auditioned tons of lead guitarists, including a weird dude whose mom dropped him off at the band’s rehearsal space on East 23rd Street: He was wearing one red and one orange sneaker, and had to chug a beer to take the edge off before sitting in with the band. He proceeded to blaze through every lick he knew in the course of one song. His name was Paul Frehley, but they couldn’t have two Pauls in the band: He went with Ace, a nickname bestowed by friends impressed with his prowess with women. Kiss rehearsed for months before playing live, and an impatient Criss threatened to quit. They soon had their sound – and then came up with an image so powerful that it threatened to drown out their music. “I can’t take credit for it, and Paul can’t,” says Simmons. “Nobody can. Certainly not Ace or Peter, who never thought of anything.” (This is unfair: For one, it was Frehley who designed the band’s logo.) “We found ourselves going downstairs to the Woolworths,” Simmons recalls. “And we buy these tall mirrors. And we bought some clown makeup – and I don’t remember thinking anything of it. ‘Let’s go get mirrors, and let’s go get makeup, and let’s put makeup on and see what happens.’ Just like that. And over the next hour or two, whatever happened, happened. And it wasn’t too dissimilar to what you see today.” * * * During my second visit to Simmons’ house, Billy Ray Cyrus suddenly shows up. Simmons never met Miley’s dad before, but he’s always happy to show off his trophy room; the day before, an executive from Bain Capital stopped over. These visits are very rarely social. “Always business,” Simmons says. “I hardly have any friends. Friendship is overrated.” Cyrus is jittery, outrageously friendly, all leather, denim and hair, with a thick Southern accent. He is star-struck by Simmons, though the feeling doesn’t seem to be mutual. “This is the most overwhelming contribution to society,” he says, gazing in awe at the knickknacks. “I stood in line in Huntington, West Virginia, to see you!” Back by the Kaskets, Cyrus is talking about getting older, and mentions a former hard-partying lifestyle that put “heavy mileage” on him. “But that was your choice,” Simmons says. “You chose to do that, yes?” “Well,” Cyrus says, gearing up to unleash some tragic tales, “I had a rough time growing up.” Simmons cuts him off. “So did I,” he says. “My mother was in a Nazi concentration camp. I came to America when I was eight years old, and I didn’t speak a word of English.” Cyrus is momentarily struck dumb. “That just adds to how impressive this man’s accomplishments are,” he says, shaking his head, gazing at a case full of Kiss dolls. “I didn’t overcome nothing compared to what you came from.” In any case, Cyrus says, Simmons really has to come and hang out at his house someday. “Do you have any matzo?” Simmons asks, deadpan. Cyrus smiles uncertainly. Simmons’ mother – who is perfectly lucid at age 87 – saw her mother and grandmother die at a concentration camp, where she was imprisoned from the age of 14. She immigrated to Israel from Hungary when she was 22, marrying a tall, handsome man named Feri Witz, and had Gene soon after. Chaim, they named him, and his mother’s love for her only son was a fierce and amazing thing. As he tells it, a neighbor lady once spanked him, and his mother beat her bloody; police took her in, but found her maternal outrage so impressive that they simply let her go. She had a tumultuous relationship with Simmons’ father, who had trouble earning a living and left the family when Gene was only seven years old. Soon afterward, they immigrated to America, and Gene never saw his father again. In America, Simmons was often alone, while his mother worked long hours in a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, factory. He endured long hours at the yeshiva where she sent him, and until he learned to speak English, was viciously mocked by other children, even after he renamed himself Gene Klein. He desperately loved American pop culture, escaping into hours of TV, monster movies and endless piles of superhero comic books. After the Beatles played The Ed Sullivan Show, he added rock & roll to that list, where it quickly shot to the top. Simmons shut down his emotions. “I remember the feeling of the little boy, rage-crying, being afraid,” he says. “No mother, no father. She’s working. Nobody around. Nobody to depend on. Nobody’s going to keep me safe or feed me. It’s dark, and I’m afraid, and all of that. And from that day on, I don’t need anybody.” As soon as he was successful, he began having checks sent to his father in Israel, but refused to speak with him or respond to his letters. He wouldn’t even see the old man on his deathbed. “Why didn’t I let a dying man go in peace? Arrogance. ‘I’ll show him.’ It’s a failing. “You get hurt,” he says. “The scars heal, but you can still see them.” Sometimes, I say, they look like that – pointing at a picture of the Demon, in full armor. “I created Gene Simmons, because the other me didn’t work,” he says. He would use the license afforded him by his Kiss success to have what seems to have been compulsive sex with nearly 5,000 women (“not all of them had two legs”). But he had no serious relationship until 1978, when he started dating his first real girlfriend, who happened to be Cher, fresh from her marriage to Gregg Allman. (Simmons’ second girlfriend, immediately afterward, was Cher’s then-close friend Diana Ross.) In 1984, Simmons met a blond model named Shannon Tweed at the Playboy Mansion, and finally seemed to grasp the “love” concept other humans spoke of: They’ve been together ever since, finally marrying in 2011. They have two kids: Nick, 25, and Sophie, 21, who are both pursuing showbiz careers. The same night, another visitor pops by: Paul Stanley, who’s bringing by a copy of his book – he hadn’t let Simmons read it, but heard I was asking about it, and figured it was time. Simmons is delighted to see him; it’s clearly been a while since he came over. “Do you want a drink?” Simmons asks. “I gotta go home and give my kids a bath,” says Stanley, handing over the book. Simmons flips to the pictures at the centerfold. “Oh, my God,” he says, “look at this photo of Ace and Peter. Where was that?” “The one satisfaction those two guys should get in life is knowing that every day, we talk about them,” says Stanley. “A day can’t go by that you don’t remember something that is astonishing.” “Or makes no sense!” Simmons adds. “And is completely baffling, or so self-destructive.” (There was, for instance, the time Ace gulped a bottle of perfume in a limo, after hearing it contained alcohol. And the time Criss shot the big-screen TV in Simmons’ house with a .38 revolver after learning his girlfriend had slept with an actor shown on the screen.) Catching me alone for a moment on his way out, Stanley shakes his head and gestures toward the office. “This is the world that Gene lives in,” he says. “It’s unbelievable. And it makes him happy.” Simmons comes over. “Do you want to take some toys for the kids?” “No, thanks. We have so much of that stuff!” “Do you want to see the upstairs?” Simmons asks. “No,” Stanley says, smiling. It seems clear that there’s at least one person Simmons wants as a friend. They’ve been together so long, and even Simmons isn’t egotistical enough to think they can tour forever. “Physically, I won’t be able to do this into my seventies,” he says. He has me lift a spiked leather stage jacket from a nearby chair – it must weigh 25 pounds. “I’m 64 now. Three more tours. Two, if I have a life change of some kind.” He and Stanley do, however, talk about replacing themselves with new members and having Kiss continue to the end of time. As Stanley drives off to his family, Simmons stands for a moment on his porch in the cool of the evening, staring at his yard, where man-made waterfalls flow in the darkness. It’s peaceful here, though somewhere inside are a bunch of guns in case he has to shoot intruders. (“If you threaten me, I will take you out,” says Simmons. “I welcome anybody who dares go over those gates.”) He takes a breath, and is, for a moment, unusually pensive. “Sometimes,” he says, “when I come out and sit out there, just relax between meetings and stuff, Paul’s right: I keep thinking about Ace and Peter. ‘What are they doing now? Where are they?’ It’s gotta be close to the end. How do you make any money? How do you pay your bills? I mean, it’s gotta be . . . you’re in your sixties. Peter’s gotta be 67, 68. I think he’s 68 now. That’s it. You’re done.” * * * Ace Frehley, 62, lives with his much-younger fiancee, a singer-songwriter named Rachael Gordon, in an upscale condominium near the airport in San Diego. The elevator opens up directly into his apartment, where the first thing you see is a life-size statue of Ace Frehley in full Spaceman regalia. When the real Frehley emerges, on a rainy afternoon in late February, he’s a bit less slender than the statue, with a Vandyke beard he’d have to shave to get the makeup on. Like all of his bandmates, he’s still got long hair, and he’s wearing aviator shades, a striped button-front shirt open over a black T-shirt, jeans and lizard boots. A sparkly crucifix and a square ace of hearts card hang from his neck; he’s got on the usual rocker’s skull ring. Ace is in good spirits. “I’m happier than a pig in shit,” he says. “I’m healthy, I’m working, I have a beautiful woman.” He takes me into his office, where electric guitars hang on the walls and an enormous monitor sits on his desk, hooked to a Mac he uses to experiment with computer animation and record music. He’s working on two new albums, follow-ups to 2009’s solid Anomaly, which had been his first in 20 years. “I’m thinking about putting out an animation and scoring it, like a space animation,” he says. “But there’s not that many hours in the day, and I’m lazy. I’m still lazy, ladies and gentlemen! My problem is that God gave me too many gifts. And from all the drugs and alcohol, I have attention-deficit disorder, so sometimes I just stare at the computer. But that’s OK. You know why? Because I’m alive.” Frehley is just back from Las Vegas, where he spent a couple of days recording and gambling. “I lost five grand,” he says. “No big deal! Peanuts. I can’t drink; I can’t take drugs anymore. There’s other vices.” He’s quite a character, Ace Frehley, with a one-of-a-kind squeaky voice and squalling cackle that everyone who’s ever met him can imitate. He used to claim to be from another planet. “I was always fascinated with science-fiction stuff,” he says. “Who knows? Sometimes I think I’m not from here.” Frehley has been sober for seven years, after a long battle that left his memory a little shaky. He has spoken of falling down a flight of stairs around 2002, further damaging his memory and leaving him briefly worried he wouldn’t be able to play guitar again. “Did I?” he says, unleashing the cackle. Forty minutes later, he has a sudden revelation: “Oh, you’re right, thank you very much. I did fall down a flight of stairs! It was the scariest thing.” Frehley grew up in a stable middle-class household in the Bronx. His dad was an electrical engineer, and his siblings were all bright, college-bound achievers, trained musicians. He was obsessed with guitar but never took a single lesson. “And maybe that’s one of the reasons I approached music differently,” he says. “Page, Clapton, Hendrix, Townshend, Beck – all I did was copy their solos and kind of twist them around, and you’ve got a guitar style.” Of all of Kiss’ members, Frehley may have had the most impact on other musicians: He was the first guitar hero for many players of the next generation. “Ace was their firecracker, their dynamite,” says Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, who modeled the solo on his band’s “Alive” on Frehley’s “She” lead (which, in turn, bit from Robby Krieger on the Doors’ “Five to One”). Frehley’s guitar-hero status quickly created delusions of grandeur, Stanley argues: “Just because you’re voted number-one guitar player in Circus magazine over Jimmy Page doesn’t mean you really are. Those guys just ate up that kind of nonsense, and believed it.” In any case, Frehley started to self-destruct very early in the band’s career. Kiss became superstars with the Alive! double album, the first of the Seventies’ blockbuster live albums (though they heavily doctored it in the studio). Afterward, they sought to make their first fully produced studio album – their previous LPs could be thin-sounding and demolike. They brought on Bob Ezrin, the formidable taskmaster behind Alice Cooper’s hits. Frehley clashed with Ezrin, and had trouble coping with a certain readily available substance. “There was so much cocaine in the studio with Bob Ezrin, it was insane,” Frehley recalls. “And I hadn’t even done coke before that. I liked to drink. But once I started doing coke, I really liked to drink more, and longer, without passing out. So I was really off to the races. I made my life difficult because there were so many times I’d walk in with a hangover, or sometimes I wouldn’t even show up.” Frehley had moved out to Connecticut by that point, and simply making it to the Manhattan studio was a major hassle. “Musically, he was much more about freestyle,” says Ezrin. “He was much less organized and structured than I was asking him to be. And he was feeling pressure and resentment from the other guys. In their eyes he wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain, whereas he wasn’t sure he’d actually even made the bargain.” In an ominous omen for Kiss’ future, they ended up bringing in session guitarist Dick Wagner to play a couple of solos. Not long afterward, the band filmed Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, a campy semi-horror movie that was like an Ed Wood version of A Hard Day’s Night. Frehley’s attendance was once again intermittent: A stuntman wears Frehley’s makeup in one scene, which is all the more obvious because the guy happened to be black. That was the least of the problems. “None of us read the script,” says Stanley. “They threw us our lines from off-camera. It was a farce.” Soon, Frehley was threatening to leave the band for a solo career. “We were this heavy rock group,” he says, “and now we had little kids with lunchboxes and dolls in the front row, and I had to worry about cursing in the microphone. It became a circus.” Their manager, Bill Aucoin, came up with a genius solution: They’d all record solo albums, and release them on the same day. Frehley, whose songwriting had been pent up, George Harrison-style, made the best record, all sleek hard rock. It also had the biggest hit, “New York Groove.” (Simmons claims his solo LP – which included a cover of “When You Wish Upon a Star” – outsold Frehley’s. “Fuckin’ Gene,” says Frehley, laughing. “Those fuckin’ guys are trying to rewrite history.”) Soon afterward, Frehley voted, “reluctantly,” with the rest of the band to remove Criss, whose playing had deteriorated under the influence of pills and coke. Criss took revenge in his book, going into great detail about Frehley’s bisexual experimentation in the Seventies, in an apparent effort to freak out the band’s less-open-minded fans. Frehley shrugs it off. “When you’re high, you’ll do anything. So what? It means nothing. I’ve always been heterosexual. I’ve lived 10 times as much as people live in one lifetime. . . . I’ve done every drug, I’ve done the ménage à trois and everything else in between. I’ve tried being bisexual. It’s stupid! It’s not for me!” Frehley quit the band in slow motion, as his bandmates tried to persuade him to stay. “I was mixed up,” he says. “I believed that if I stayed in that group I would have committed suicide. I’d be driving home from the studio, and I’d want to drive my car into a tree. I mean, I walked out on a $15 million contract. That would be like $100 million today. And my attorney was looking at me like, ‘What are you, crazy?'” Each member of Kiss had designed his own makeup. Criss relinquished the rights to his character when he left (although he’s confused about the circumstances), and Frehley maintains that he licensed his. He says he’s due to get the rights back soon, a claim Stanley called a “fantasy”: “We own it. He sold it.” In the meantime, Thayer, who once worked as the band’s road manager, wears Frehley’s makeup. Says Frehley: “I mean, a supergroup has one of the most dynamic, greatest lead guitarists in the world leave the band, and who did they hire to play lead guitar? Their road manager, who used to be in a Kiss cover band. How insane is that? You can’t make this shit up.” He is, in general, unimpressed with the band’s current state: “Paul’s voice is shot.” (Thayer, whose Kiss cover band was just a goofy side project while he was in a major-label metal band, responds, “These guys like to say, ‘Oh, he was the road manager.’ I’ve been in music for over 30 years.”) The band’s current drummer, Eric Singer, points out that Frehley never complained during the portion of the reunion era that had him playing with Singer – in full Catman makeup – instead of Criss. “Well, Peter sold his makeup,” Frehley says with a shrug. Frehley called his autobiography No Regrets, and he needed to interview old friends to recover enough memories to write it. He has since remembered more, and is working on a sequel. “The working title,” he jokes, “is Some Regrets.” He throws his head back and laughs. * * * Peter Criss is at home when I ring the doorbell of his big house in Monmouth County, New Jersey, which sits at the edge of a snowy, unshoveled walkway. But he doesn’t answer the door. (There’s a small sign next to it that reads IN CASE OF FIRE, PLEASE RESCUE CAT) I have to wait a couple of minutes before his wife of 16 years, Gigi, a former model, comes home to let me in. Criss, who’s cozy in his finished basement, wearing tinted glasses, a pale-blue T-shirt, black jeans and white athletic socks, has a policy of not coming to the door. He last did so a few years ago, and he didn’t like the results. “I opened up, and there’s these six, like, skinheads from Norway,” he recalls, in his thick, old-timey Brooklyn accent. “And they’ve got tattoos on their heads and black T-shirts. They look right from white supremacy. And they’re like, ‘We want your autograph! We flew all the way here from Finland.’ They could’ve killed me. We’re livin’ in a crazy world. After John Lennon got it, and George Harrison gets stabbed in his own house?” Criss has already died and been revived, at least twice. “I am a cat, and my lives are going out. I’m losing ’em,” he says. He died for the first time after his Porsche crashed into a pole (his friend Fritz was driving, though Simmons blames Criss for the accident). And the other? “Oh, God, I can’t even remember. Somethin’ else stupid.” He also survived breast cancer not long ago, and has become an advocate for other men with the disease. Criss’ basement could pass for the rec room of a prosperous New Jersey dentist who loves Kiss and dabbles in drums: There’s a gleaming kit in the corner, along with guitars and amps for visiting players, plus a relatively modest collection of Kiss memorabilia. “I’ve been to those guys’ houses,” says Criss, settling in his easy chair, “and I get a feeling where I don’t even know what to touch or where to sit. I don’t like to live in a showplace.” Somewhere upstairs is Criss’ most prized showbiz achievement, a People’s Choice Award for “Beth.” Criss co-wrote the song with an old bandmate, the late Stan Penridge, and Ezrin then heavily tweaked and arranged it for the Destroyer sessions. Criss is desperately proud of the song, but Stanley claims the drummer had little to do with its creation. “Peter can’t write a song, because Peter doesn’t play an instrument,” Stanley argues. “Penridge came up with [sings], ‘Beth, I hear you calling. . . .’ Peter had nothing to do with it. Because if you write one hit song, you should be able to write two. That’s the reality. Devastating? It’s the truth. It was a lifeline that Peter hung on to validate himself, but it wasn’t based on reality.” “I don’t think that I can break this tie,” says Ezrin, who was originally presented with a song called “Beck” that was less sympathetic to the woman in the lyrics. “I wasn’t there when he was working with that co-writer.” “God forbid you get that credit,” says Gigi, who sits by Criss’ side during the interview, occasionally amplifying or correcting his answers. (“You said that already!”) “Paul is so full of fucking shit,” says Criss, “’cause as a lead singer of the band he never got to write the hit. That’s his problem. They hated the fact that I wrote a hit record and won a People’s Choice.” Criss grew up in tough parts of Brooklyn, where his drumming – first inspired by Gene Krupa’s playing on “Sing Sing Sing” – was the only thing that saved him from a life of crime: He had joined a gang called the Young Lords, and his book is full of Mean Streets-worthy adventures. “I think I’m the first drummer, next to Mitch Mitchell and Charlie Watts, that incorporated jazz fills in rock & roll. There’s not many of us.” Criss was intimidated by Simmons and Stanley’s drive and book smarts, and they didn’t go out of their way to make him feel comfortable. “If you’re going to treat me like I’m a piece of dirt, then I’m going to be mean,” he says. “And I would have to pull that out of my bag of tricks ’cause I didn’t go to college. I didn’t have the knowledge they had. And they would use that constantly, use words I didn’t understand. I’m a kid from Brooklyn. I was not the smartest bulb in the band. They would literally embarrass me in front of people. You can only take so much of that after a while.” He doesn’t deny that his playing was slipping under the influence of drugs, but he feels the band could have given him more chances. But like Frehley, what really kills him is that someone else is bringing the Catman to life. “I’m not upset that they got the bigger barrel of the monies and the bigger homes and the bigger cars and the bigger watches,” he says. “But I’m pissed at myself that my makeup slipped through my hands. That’s my cross that I bear.” On some tours, Singer has even sung a version of “Beth,” which breaks Criss’ heart. “How much more can you slap me?” he says. “How hard do you want to hit me? It’s my baby – no one sings it like me. And I said to Gigi, ‘You know what, it’s like the Lone Ranger: You can take his mask off and put it on another guy, but it’ll never be Clayton Moore.'” Unlike Frehley, Criss remained relatively sober for the reunion years. “I wanted to prove to the fans that I was cool, I was better, I wasn’t on drugs anymore, I was a new man.” But they both bristled at their salaried status, and Criss was horrified when Frehley drunkenly confessed that the guitarist was making $10,000 more per night. Criss took to drawing a single tear on his cat makeup as the tours wound down. Stanley and Simmons point out that Criss made millions of dollars, but he says that’s not the point. “Come on, simple as this: Look at their houses; look at my house. I was being treated like a freakin’ slob. They treated my wife like a whore.” Despite it all, he dearly wishes they could all get it together for one more performance. “I just wish there wasn’t so much bad blood,” he says. “I said to the Hall of Fame, ‘Look, I don’t own the makeup anymore, but if they would lend it to me, I would be happy to put it on.'” On my way out, Criss shows off his collection of Kiss stuff. There’s an amazing photo of the band in full makeup backstage with all of their parents in the 1970s; there are long rows of gold and platinum records, plus a plaque commemorating 500,000 8-tracks sold of Alive! He picks up a small, framed black-and-white promo shot of the band, just four young rock & roll superheroes snarling companionably together for the camera. “That’s a great shot of us,” he says, and sighs. “What can I say? I still love my band.”
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  26. Polls deliver more bad news for Trump Yahoo News David Knowles Jun 27th 2020 12:44PM If the latest national and state polls are correct, President Trump’s bid for a second term faces serious headwinds in the four months until the election. Nineteen different polls of voters in swing states released this week show Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden, including in places Republicans are unaccustomed to losing in a general election. Polls released Thursday by the New York Times/Siena College showed Joe Biden leading Trump by 11 percentage points in Michigan and Wisconsin, by 10 points in Pennsylvania, 9 points in North Carolina, up 7 points in Arizona, and ahead by 6 in Florida. Pres Trump has lost significant ground in the six battleground states that clinched his Electoral College victory in 2016, according to New York Times/Siena College surveys, with Joe Biden opening double-digit leads in Michigan, Pennsylvania & Wisconsin. https://t.co/s9D7UX1vn6pic.twitter.com/ZZ2Ft2K9wk — Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) June 25, 2020 The pollster Hodas & Associates Strategic Communications had similarly bleak news for the president in polls released the same day. In Michigan, the pollster found, Trump trails Biden by 18 points. He’s behind by 16 points in Wisconsin and down 12 points in Pennsylvania. Redfield & Wilton Strategies also surveyed voters in the swing states of Michigan, where they found Biden ahead by 11 points; North Carolina, where Biden leads Trump by six points; Pennsylvania, +10 for Biden; Wisconsin, Biden +9; and Arizona and Florida, where the pollster found Trump is behind by 4 points. Fox News, a network friendly to Trump but whose pollster Trump has often criticized, released its own swing state polls Thursday. They showed Biden leading Trump by 9 points in Florida, up 2 points on the president in North Carolina and Georgia, and perhaps the most surprising of all, leading Trump — albeit by a single point — in the state of Texas. Polls, of course, are subject to change, especially with four months to go before Election Day. But the near unanimity of the data shows that Trump suddenly finds himself trailing Biden in states he must win to remain in the White House. In its lead editorial on Friday, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal — a strongly Republican paper — cited Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police as reasons for his polling decline. The paper’s editors also dismissed Trump’s conspiratorial view that polls are rigged against him in order to suppress turnout. “Mr. Trump refuses to acknowledge what every poll now says is true: His approval rating has fallen to the 40% or below that is George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter territory. They’re the last two Presidents to be denied a second term,” the editorial stated. When it comes to the cumulative average of national polls, which themselves are little more than a barometer of national sentiment that may or may not predict the outcome of a presidential election, Trump continues to edge downward. According to the website FiveThirtyEight, Trump now trails Biden nationally by 9.3 percentage points. At the beginning of June, that margin was 6.2 percent. The Real Clear Politics national polling average has Biden’s lead at 9.5 percent. As his poll numbers have worsened, Trump has blamed the messengers, portraying surveys that show him losing as “SUPPRESSION POLLS,” and assuring his supporters that “we are winning.” ...Crooked Hillary Clinton in 2016. They are called SUPPRESSION POLLS, and are put out to dampen enthusiasm. Despite 3 ½ years of phony Witch Hunts, we are winning, and will close it out on November 3rd! pic.twitter.com/4IhuLUZjsv — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2020 After a CNN national poll released earlier this month showed Trump trailing Biden by 14 points, the president’s campaign demanded that the cable network retract it and issue an apology. "It's a stunt and a phony poll to cause voter suppression, stifle momentum and enthusiasm for the President, and present a false view generally of the actual support across America for the President," a letter to CNN signed by the campaign’s senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis and COO Michael Glassner stated. All polls contain a margin of error, because they are based on interviews with a subset of voters, chosen to be representative of the electorate as a whole but who may or may not accurately reflect the entire nation. On its website, the Pew Research Center explains: “Because surveys only talk to a sample of the population, we know that the result probably won’t exactly match the ‘true’ result that we would get if we interviewed everyone in the population. The margin of sampling error describes how close we can reasonably expect a survey result to fall relative to the true population value. A margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level means that if we fielded the same survey 100 times, we would expect the result to be within 3 percentage points of the true population value 95 of those times.” While Trump and his supporters often cite the 2016 presidential election results to show that polls cannot be trusted, an analysis by FiveThirtyEight found that general election polls from that year “were about as accurate as polls of presidential elections have been on average since 1972.” And, as they say in politics, the only poll that counts is the one on Election Day — by citizens who actually get out and vote.
  27. Trump says he is staying in Washington to protect law and order 06/27/2020 0:53 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday canceled a planned weekend visit to his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, and said he was staying in Washington "to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced." "The arsonists, anarchists, looters, and agitators have been largely stopped," Trump wrote on Twitter. "I am doing what is necessary to keep our communities safe - and these people will be brought to Justice!" Trump has pledged to take a hard line on anyone destroying or vandalizing historical U.S. monuments and has threatened to use force on some protesters, as activism against racial injustice sweeps the country. Trump said on Twitter on Friday that he had signed a "very strong" executive order protecting monuments. A text of the order says the federal government will prosecute "to the fullest extent" anyone who damages or desecrates monuments, memorials or statues. The 2003 Veterans Memorial Preservation Act provides for prison terms of up to 10 years for destroying or attempting to destroy monuments commemorating those who served in the U.S. armed forces. Trump's order also threatens to withhold federal support to state and local law enforcement agencies that fail to protect monuments. Hundreds of unarmed Washington, D.C., National Guard troops are on standby to assist law enforcement personnel with protecting monuments, after protesters tried to tear down a statue of former President Andrew Jackson in a park near the White House on Monday. Calls for the removal of these monuments come in conjunction with Black Lives Matter protests, which were sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man killed in police custody in Minneapolis. Trump's decision to cancel his trip to New Jersey comes amid a spike in coronavirus cases in many states. White House spokesman Judd Deere said the cancellation was not related to New Jersey's requirement that visitors from states with high coronavirus infection rates self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Trump visited one of the states with high rates, Arizona, earlier this week.
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