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Gay rights pioneer Dick Leitsch, who orchestrated 'Sip-In,' dead at 83

Dick Leitsch, whose milestone “Sip-In” in 1966 ensured the right of gay patrons to be served in a licensed bar, died Friday, The New York Times reported. He was 83.

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The cause of death was liver cancer, according to Paul Havern, a friend. That was confirmed by Leitsch’s niece, Cheryl Williams, The Washington Post reported.

On April 21, 1966, Leitsch and three friends -- Craig Rodwell, John Timmons and Randy Wicker, along with a Times reporter and Village Voice photographer Fred W. McDarrah -- staged the “sip-in” at Julius’, a bar in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan. The “sip-in” was a variation of the nonviolent civil disobedience practiced by civil rights activists.

When Leitsch announced he and his friends were homosexuals, the bartender covered his glass and refused to serve the group. McDarrah snapped a photograph, and the Times published a story the next day, titled “3 Deviates Invite Exclusion By Bars.”

The Mattachine Society, a gay group that counted Leitsch among its leaders, threatened to sue the New York State Liquor Authority to overturn the policy that prohibited bars from knowingly serving alcoholic drinks to gays, the Times reported.

The lawsuit was never filed. Leitsch, in an interview with the Times in March, said “The whole thing was bizarre.”

“We didn’t need to prove that the bars refused to serve us, or that the liquor authority revoked licenses for serving gays,” Leitsch told the newspaper. “They denied ever doing it.”

The publicity led to a Mattachine lawsuit in New Jersey, the Post reported. In 1967, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that “well-behaved homosexuals” could not be barred from a drink, the Post reported.

“In our culture, homosexuals are indeed unfortunates,” the New Jersey ruling said. But “their status does not make them criminals or outlaws.”

Richard Joseph Leitsch was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 11, 1935. Survivors include a brother and sister. His partner of 17 years, Timothy Scoffield, was diagnosed with AIDS and died in 1989, the Post reported.

Lawsuit: Mistaken identity lands woman in Georgia jail for 2 days

Jessica Ellison’s nightmare began with a broken taillight and a case of mistaken identity.

It ended with two days in jail, a worried family and a lost job -- and now a lawsuit, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

“This reads as the script for some kind of dark comedy, where your protagonist cannot get anything to go right,” Ellison’s attorney, Nathan Lock, said.

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Lock filed a lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on Ellison’s behalf. Among the named defendants are Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway, Corizon Health, which at the time of the incident provided health care services at the jail, and Gwinnett County police Officer Mark Ferrell.

It accuses each defendant of negligence.

The sheriff’s office and police department both declined to comment on the case. In the lawsuit, Lock describes the incident as follows.

Ellison, a property manager from Jonesboro, Georgia, was driving through Gwinnett County on the afternoon of June 21, 2016, when she got stopped near Duluth by GCPD Officer Mark Ferrell. Ferrell told her she had a taillight out and he was going to give her a warning, but he needed to run her license.

According to Ferrell’s incident report, he subsequently found a warrant out of Bartow County for a woman named Jessica Ellison. The birthdates matched, and dispatch verified the warrant -- for failure to appear on a then-three-year-old shoplifting charge -- was still active.

Ellison was taken to jail.

There was one problem. She and her lawyer now say the warrant was for a Jessica Ellis, not “Ellison.”

Upon arriving at the jail, Ellison was fingerprinted and, despite her “repeated” pleas about the arrest being a mistake, those fingerprints were never compared to those of the wanted woman, the lawsuit claims.

“There’s a lot of different things that could’ve been verified that would’ve distinguished the two,” Lock said.

Ellison spent the next two days in jail waiting for authorities to pick her up. During that time, the lawsuit claims, she was not allowed a phone call -- leaving her family and her job to wonder where she was -- and never saw a nurse despite repeated requests.

Ellison takes supplements to prevent seizures.

She didn’t have one in jail, Lock said, but did shortly after arriving home — which was only possible after the Bartow County deputy that arrived to transport her double-checked her information and was “immediately able to verify” she was the wrong woman.

Lock said the seizure came while she was cleaning up feces and urine from her dog, who was alone and unfed the entire time she was incarcerated.

Ellison also lost her job, according to the suit, which asks for unspecified compensation.

Netflix executive apologizes, resigns after using racial slurs

Netflix’s chief communications officer apologized and resigned after using a racial slur in front of colleagues on at least two occasions, CNN reported Friday.

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Jonathan Friedland apologized on Twitter and said he was leaving the company after seven years.

"I feel awful about the distress this lapse caused to people at a company I love and where I want everyone to feel included and appreciated," Friedland tweeted.

Variety obtained a copy of a memo Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sent to employees to explain the situation. A copy was tweeted by The Hollywood Reporter.

The memo referenced an incident from several months ago when Friedland used a racial slur while meeting with Netflix public relations staff, CNN reported.

He used the same slur a few days later in front of two black employees at Netflix’s human resources department while discussing the first incident, Hastings wrote in his memo.

"Many of us have worked closely with Jonathan for a long time, and have mixed emotions,” Hastings wrote. “Unfortunately, his lack of judgment in this area was too big for him to remain."

Friedland joined Netflix as vice president of communications in 2011 and assumed duties as chief communications officer the following year, Variety reported.

Netflix declined comment.

China restaurant burned by all-you-can-eat promotion 

An all-you-can-eat promotion by a struggling restaurant in southwestern China backfired as customers ate so much food the establishment was forced to close because of excessive debt, CNN reported.

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The Jiamener Hotpot Restaurant in Chengdu, introduced an unlimited menu on June 1 after struggling since opening in December 2017. For a membership of 120 yuan -- approximately $18 -- customers could enjoy a month of unlimited hotpot meals, CNN reported.

Initially, the promotion worked, according to Su Jie, one of the restaurant’s owners. Su told Chengdu Economic Daily that more than 500 customers were visiting every day. Diners lined up three hours before the restaurant’s 11 a.m. opening, and the owners had taken in more than $15,000 by June 11, CNN reported.

However, debts outweighed the intake, as the restaurant was facing debts exceeding $76,000 and was forced to temporarily close.

"We knew we would end up losing money, but we hoped to build a group of loyal customers through the campaign," Su told CNN, describing the situation as "small-scale chaos."

Protesters gather in Pittsburgh for third straight night

People flooded the streets of Pittsburgh for the third straight night Friday, protesting the police shooting death of a teenager during a traffic stop earlier in the week.

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Residents were angry over Tuesday’s death of Antwon Rose, 17, who was unarmed. 

The Homestead Grays Bridge was closed for approximately an hour Friday night, and protesters gathered outside PNC Park, where the Pittsburgh Pirates were hosting the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Reportedly, a Mercedes-Benz drove through protesters near the ballpark, but no injuries were reported. “Someone tried to drive through us,” one person tweeted.

All of the gates, except one near home plate, were reopened to allow fans to leave the stadium after Arizona won 2-1 in 13 innings.

>> Hundreds of protesters shut down roads for miles

Allegheny County police officials said that Rose was a passenger in a vehicle stopped in East Pittsburgh around 8:20 p.m. Tuesday because it fit the description of a car seen fleeing the area of a shooting in the nearby borough of North Braddock. As an officer handcuffed the driver of the car, which investigators said had bullet damage to the back window, Rose and a second passenger got out of the car and ran. 

Rose, who police officials said was shot three times, was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

Thursday night, traffic was brought to a standstill as protesters spilled onto Pittsburgh’s Parkway East. The protesters were dispersed without any major incidents around 2:45 a.m. Friday.

Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna suspended 75 games 

Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was suspended for 75 games without pay, retroactive to May 8, for violating baseball’s domestic violence policy, the New York Daily News reported.

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Osuna, 23, an All-Star in 2017, was charged with one count of assault in Toronto and was put on administrative leave, the Daily News reported. The right-hander has not pitched since May 6. 

Osuna has nine saves and a 2.93 ERA in 15 games.

The suspension will cost Osuna $2.54 million of his annual $5.3 million salary, the Daily News reported. He will participate in an evaluation and treatment program, which is confidential and supervised by the joint policy board of Major League Baseball and the players’ association, the newspaper reported.

Grass poisoning could be cause for 'drunk' kangaroos, veterinarians say

Veterinarians in Australia are conducting tests to determine whether kangaroos that appear to be drunk have actually suffered neurological damage because of a strain of grass, The Guardian reported.

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The veterinarians, from the University of Melbourne, said Phalaris aquatica -- a common pasture crop in central Victoria -- have caused the suffering among eastern gray kangaroos, the Guardian reported. Wildlife officials said the kangaroos were suffering from Phalaris “staggers,” which is common among sheep and cattle that graze in Australia.

“A kangaroo with full-blown toxicity is just horrible,” Manfred Zabinskas from Five Freedoms Animal Rescue told Guardian Australia. “Their head flies around like they have got a broken neck; they summersault; they crash into fences and trees … they look like they are drunk.”

Phalaris, also known as canary grass, is a tall grass common to southeastern Australia. Some farmers have avoided planting the species because the “staggers” can cause heart failure among animals, the Guardian reported.

In domestic animals, the condition can be controlled by adding copper into their diet. But in kangaroos, the condition is believed to be irreversible, the Guardian reported.

“The kindest thing to do is to euthanize them,” Zabinskas said.

Superman trades cape for badge: Dean Cain sworn in as reserve police officer in Idaho

Superman has changed uniforms.

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Actor Dean Cain, who played the Man of Steel in the show “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” was recently sworn in as a reserve officer in Idaho, Fox News reported.

Cain, 51, was sworn in as a reserve for the St. Anthony Police Department, Fox News reported. The Idaho State Police tweeted the news Tuesday, showing a series of photos of the swearing-in ceremony.

Former Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul dead at 54

Drummer Vinnie Paul, a founding member of the heavy metal band Pantera, died Friday night, the band announced on Facebook. He was 54.

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"Vincent Paul Abbott aka Vinnie Paul has passed away," Pantera wrote on Facebook. "Paul is best known for his work as the drummer in the bands Pantera and Hellyeah. No further details are available at this time. The family requests you please respect their privacy during this time."

No cause of death was given.

"Can’t believe it. R.I.P. to our brother Vinnie Paul," Anthrax tweeted, while Paul Stanley of KISS wrote, "So sad to hear of the death of Vinnie Paul. Loved when Pantera did shows with us and in later years Vinnie was always front and center at all KISS shows. RIP and condolences to his family."

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Paul, born Vincent Paul Abbott in Abilene, Texas, formed Pantera in 1981 with his brother, “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott and bassist Rex Brown, Rolling Stone reported.

Pantera led the charge of heavy metal bands during the 1990s with albums like “Cowboys From Hell,” “Vulgar Display of Power” and “Far Beyond Driven.”

The band split in 2003, Rolling Stone reported.

The Abbott brothers formed Damageplan in 2004, but the band’s tenure ended when Dimebag Abbott was shot and killed onstage by a fan in 2004, Rolling Stone reported.

Paul joined Hellyeah in 2006.

A 1-in-30 million shot: Rare yellow lobster caught off Maine coast

Maine is famous for its lobsters, but yellow lobsters are a rare find.

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One of those rare crustaceans was caught off the Maine Coast, the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association reported Wednesday.

The F/V Short Fuse, of Bremen, caught the lobster this week, WGME reported.

The odds of catching a yellow lobster are 1-in-30 million, according to the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine. In contrast, the odds of catching a blue lobster are 1-in-2 million, according to the institute.

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