Mac Miller Dead At Age 26

Chris Stokes

Rapper Mac Miller has died at the age of 26, according to reports in US media.

TMZ reported that Miller died on Friday of an apparent overdose, citing law enforcement officials.

The rapper was found on Friday about noon local time in a bedroom at his San Fernando Valley home, and he was pronounced dead at the scene, the site reported.

Musicians including Chance the Rapper and J Cole were among those to pay tribute to Miller on Twitter after the news of his death broke.

Condolences to Mac Miller’s family.

Kim Kardashian Held At Gun Point In Paris

Kim Kardashian robbed Chris Stokes blog

Kim Kardashian West was robbed of millions of dollars worth of jewelry while visiting Paris on Sunday night, according to a judicial source and reports.

A second source with knowledge of security at the private mansion where the reality TV star was staying told NBC News that she was tied up during the incident and that a wedding ring was among the valuables taken.

Kardashian West’s spokeswoman said that she was left “badly shaken but physically unharmed” after being held at gunpoint by two armed, masked men.

The culprits escaped with a ring worth about $4.5 million and a jewelry box containing other items worth $5.6 million, the judicial source said. The Associated Press also cited a Paris police official as confirming that account.

The judicial source told NBC News that five individuals dressed as police officers went to the building Sunday night.

An authoritative source with knowledge of the hotel’s security said an overnight watchman was on duty when he was overcome by armed men. They took the key to where Kardashian West was staying and ran around the building trying to find the correct apartment.

Once inside, the source said, the men tied her up and put her in the bathroom. The source added that the robbers seemed to have known that security was light on Sunday night, triggering speculation it may have been an inside job.

We will keep you informed as more develops. Happy that Kim is OK.

Boston Bomber Receives The Death Penalty

DZHOKHAR-TSARNAEV_trial_chris_stokes

The 12 jurors in the Boston Marathon bombing case sentenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death by lethal injection.They deliberated for more than 16 hours and over three days to reach the verdict.

Tsarnaev is the first terrorist to be sentenced to death in the post-9/11 era, according to the New York Times.

The case will “automatically be appealed to a higher federal court. Which will begin a series of appeals that could take years to resolve,” according to Eric Levenson of boston.com.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated, “the ultimate penalty is a fitting punishment.”

There have only been three federal executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1988.

Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts he was charged with from the April 15, 2013, Boston Marathon bombing. Seventeen of those counts made him eligible for the death penalty.

Reuters/Dan Lampariello
Reuters/Dan Lampariello

Tsarnaev, who is now 21, pleaded not guilty two years ago when he was charged with planting a homemade “improvised explosive device” — a pressure cooker filled with gunpowder, ball bearings, and nails — near the race’s finish line.

Hoping to take the death penalty off the table, Judy Clarke, Tsarnaev’s defense attorney, sought to cast Tsarnaev as a naive teenager who was radicalized by his older brother, Tamerlan.

“We don’t deny that Jahar fully participated in the events,” Judy Clarke told the jury in her closing arguments. “But if not for Tamerlan, it would not have happened.”

Prosecutors argued that Dzhokhar was his brother’s full and equal partner, as evidenced by the jihadist note Dzhokhar scrawled on the side of a boat in the hours he spent hiding from police.

The note read, in part, “We Muslims are one body. You hurt one, you hurt us all.”

Prosecutors also argued that Tsarnaev showed little remorse for his actions — an argument made stronger by a photo of Tsarnaev giving the middle finger to a surveillance camera in his prison cell.

“This is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — unconcerned, unrepentant, and unchanged,” the defense attorney told the jury late last month.

Chicago Teachers Strike Ends

Chicago students return to school on today after a teachers’ strike ended, thrilling parents who had to stay home from work to care for their kids, pay for alternative childcare or leave them with friends and relatives for more than a week.

Representatives of the 29,000 striking Chicago public school teachers and support staff voted on Tuesday to suspend their strike and accept a compromise agreement on a new three-year contract with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Some 350,000 kindergarten, elementary and high school students return to classes after missing seven school days in the third-largest U.S. school district after New York and Los Angeles.

It was the first time since 1987 that Chicago teachers had walked off the job and nearly everyone in the city seemed relieved that it was over.

“All our members are glad to back with their kids,” said Karen Lewis, the outspoken former high school chemistry teacher who heads the union. Lewis led the teachers out of the classroom over Emanuel’s demand for sweeping education reforms that the union believed were misguided.

Only a fraction of the students went to nearly 150 centers around Chicago set up to care for children during the strike. The union had warned that the city-run centers would be a “train wreck” with caregivers lacking proper credentials.

While there were no major problems, most parents opted to keep their children at home. Many kids passed the time by watching television, playing video games, doing crafts and chatting on social media.

“They’ve been around sleeping all day,” said parent Dawn McNamara of her daughter, a sophomore in high school, and her friends. “It seemed like it was going to take forever (to settle the strike),” McNamara said.

Teachers were all smiles as they left the vote to end the strike on Tuesday, with one overheard telling a colleague on her cell phone: “Tell our people we’re going back. We’re going to see our babies.”

Even the tough-talking mayor Emanuel choked up slightly at a press conference after the strike was called off. Emanuel said that he fought so hard for reforms because he had seen the blank stares of some children “whose vitality has been stripped from them, any sense of a promise or a future.”

“The only way I know to bridge that look in their eyes and the promise and opportunity that exists in the city of Chicago is in the classrooms of the schools,” Emanuel said.

While the strike ended, some of the issues that spawned it remain. Most Chicago public schools are struggling academically, the high school graduation rate lags the national average substantially and the school district is in dire financial straits.