Eight Things To Talk About For Friday, July 2, 2021


The 8 topics that our followers ranked as the most conversational are:

In the face of lawsuits alleging the condo board’s negligence in the catastrophic collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla., the condominium association has hired a crisis communications firm. Levick, a PR firm based in Washington, D.C., that promises to “fix the impossible,” confirmed to NPR that it has been retained by the condo group. Levick’s director Maxwell Marcucci told NPR that his firm is assisting the board with a deluge of media inquiries. Marcucci said that the board comprises volunteers who were also residents — one of whom, reports Business Insider, is among the missing. In a statement emailed to NPR, Levick spokesperson Maria Stagliano said the firm would not comment on pending litigation. A massive search and rescue effort is underway at the site of Thursday’s collapse, with the 18 people confirmed dead and 145 unaccounted for. Surviving residents of the condo have already filed three lawsuits against the association, alleging that it should have known about the building’s structural risks and should have acted sooner to fix those problems.
[SOURCE: npr.org / ENGAGEMENT: 28.24%]

Following online rumors that pioneering rapper Biz Markie had died late Wednesday night, the rapper’s rep released a statement refuting the erroneous news. “The news of Biz Markie’s passing is not true,” his rep wrote in a statement to Rolling Stone. “Biz is still under medical care, surrounded by professionals who are working hard to provide the best healthcare possible.” In April, Big Daddy Kane spoke to hip-hop show The Breakfast Club and revealed that the rapper was recovering from a stroke. “He’s getting better,” Kane said. “He’s in rehabilitation now. He’s getting better and stronger every day. Last time I talked to him on the phone, he got a real light voice, but last time I talked on the phone. He stuck his middle finger up at me, so I think he’s coming along.” The “Clown Prince of Hip-Hop” was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2010, but told the New York Daily News three years later that he had lost more than 140 pounds. “They be seein’ me, I lost the weight, and I didn’t have to use lap band surgery or whatever,” he said. “They see that I did it, and they know I was the greedy, greasy person. So if I can do it, anyone can do it.” Last year, TMZ reported that the rapper had been hospitalized in Maryland but did not reveal the cause of the illness. “He is receiving the best care from an amazing team of medical professionals and we remain positive about the outcome,” his rep said at the time.
[SOURCE: rollingstone.com / ENGAGEMENT: 8.76%]

Meghan McCain has announced live on air that she is quitting ABC’s The View after four years to raise her daughter in Washington DC, saying ‘this was not an easy decision’. DailyMail.com had revealed earlier on Thursday that the 36-year-old was stepping away from the daytime talk show at the end of the month with two years remaining on her contract. Her co-hosts, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sara Haines, Sunny Hostin and Ana Navarro, were not aware prior to Thursday that McCain had resigned, a source told DailyMail.com. McCain addressed her resignation during the The View’s opening segment, saying: ‘I’m going to rip the bandaid off’. ‘I am here to tell you – all of my wonderful co-hosts and viewers at home – that this is going to be my last season here at The View. ‘It’s not easy to leave but I feel like this is the right decision for me at the moment.’ The outspoken co-host said she had built an ‘incredible life’ in Washington DC after leaving New York City while she was still pregnant with daughter Liberty during the COVID pandemic. McCain also praised her co-hosts, who she regularly spars with on the show, saying it had been ‘one of the greatest, most exhilarating, wonderful privileges’ of her life working on The View. ‘It is a privilege to work alongside such strong, brilliant, intelligent broadcasters… You are the most talented women on all of television,’ she said of her co-hosts. McCain, who isn’t leaving until the season ends at the end of July, quipped: ‘I will still be here another month so if you guys want to fight a bit more we still have a few more weeks.’ Her co-hosts took turns praising McCain following the announcement, describing her as ‘tough’ and acknowledging her ‘important point of view’.
[SOURCE: dailymail.co.uk / ENGAGEMENT: 7.30%]

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel blasted Senator Ron Johnson (Republican) in an editorial published on Wednesday, calling the firebrand conservative lawmaker the most “irresponsible representative of Wisconsin citizens” since Senator Joe McCarthy (Republican). “The Republican senator highlighted five people who said they had serious side effects from the life-saving COVID-19 vaccines. Their stories were sad, to be sure, and we don’t doubt their veracity. But they represent only a tiny fraction of the people who have been vaccinated,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote. “But instead of encouraging more people to get vaccinated so we can be rid of this plague once and for all, Johnson has chosen to use his taxpayer-financed megaphone to draw attention to a vanishingly small number of people who believe they suffered a serious side effect.” Johnson “has continued to cast doubts about science, research, masks and other public health measures while promoting ‘cures’ with no evidence behind them,” the newspaper wrote. The largest newspaper in Johnson’s home state called him “the most irresponsible representative of Wisconsin citizens since the infamous Senator Joseph R. McCarthy in the 1950s.” The outlet castigated Johnson for his “past misleading comments,” including during meetings with its journalists, and bemoaned his evolution into “a leading Trump apologist.” Johnson sparked backlash earlier this year for saying he did not feel threatened during the Jan. 6 rioting by supporters of the former president but might have if they were Black Lives Matter protesters. “When it counted most, as Trump lied about the election, Johnson put his own political interests ahead of our democracy,” the editorial board said. “Whether or not Johnson believes the nonsense he spews, there is little doubt he seeks to benefit politically from this cynical theater.” Because of his history of making false, misleading or divisive statements, Johnson “is not fit to be your senator,” the newspaper wrote. “As a Tea Party Republican and climate change denier in 2010, he attracted support from the fossil fuel industry. Later, by minimizing the pandemic and touting questionable treatments for COVID, he vouched for a former president’s lies and boosted his own credibility with the Trump base in his home state,” it concluded. “Johnson continues to put his own interests ahead of yours. He continues to put himself first and democracy second.” 
[SOURCE: thehill.com / ENGAGEMENT: 6.43%]

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At one point in negotiations with NBA Finals host and College Football national championship sideline reporter Maria Taylor, ESPN offered her a raise from her current salary of nearly $1 million per year that would eventually reach almost $5 million, according to sources. Taylor turned it down. Taylor, sources said, was hoping to be in the “Stephen A. Smith money” neighborhood, which is near $8 million annually. But since the initial near $5 million offer was made during last year’s pandemic, the world at ESPN has changed even further. With Disney closely watching the network’s pocketbook, the majority of big earners at ESPN are being asked to take pay cuts. Some are accepting them, while others, like Kenny Mayne and Ariel Helwani, are leaving. This evolution has quickly become perhaps the biggest current story in sports media. ESPN looks at its reduction in salary as a market correction. Others in the industry see ESPN devaluing its place as the marquee platform for content creators and hosts. But, in Taylor, ESPN sees someone it wants to keep. The near $5 million offer was made when ESPN was beginning its reduction of salaries across the board. Today, ESPN wants to keep Taylor, but the initial offer is not on the table, according to sources. What she is being offered right now is not known, but it is believed to be in the $2 million-$3 million range. It is a substantial raise, but there is another staring contest going on, and the idea that Taylor and ESPN could divorce cannot be counted out. Adding to the intrigue, Taylor’s contract is set to expire on or around July 20, and the NBA Finals, if it goes seven games, ends on July 22. Besides “NBA Countdown” and her college football work, Taylor is the host of the NCAA Women’s Tournament. She also does some NFL work. ESPN declined comment. Taylor did not return a message.
[SOURCE: nypost.com / ENGAGEMENT: 5.36%]

Donald Trump’s namesake company and its longtime chief financial officer are expected to fight criminal charges being brought on Thursday in a probe by Manhattan’s district attorney. The Trump Organization and the CFO, Allen Weisselberg, are expected to be arraigned later in the day in a New York state court in Manhattan, a person familiar with the matter has said, when a grand jury indictment is to be unsealed. Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for the company, is expected to enter a not guilty plea on its behalf, a person familiar with the matter said. “Mr. Weisselberg intends to plead not guilty and he will fight these charges in court,” Weisselberg’s lawyers Mary Mulligan and Bryan Skarlatos said in a joint statement. Weisselberg surrendered to authorities in the early morning. An indictment of the Trump Organization could undermine the company’s relationships with banks and business partners, and complicate Trump’s political future as the Republican contemplates running again for president in 2024. Cyrus Vance, the district attorney, began his investigation nearly three years ago, and has been working in recent months with the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James on the still-ongoing probe. Vance and James are Democrats. In a statement, the Trump Organization said prosecutors were using Weisselberg, who has worked for the Trump family business for 48 years, as “a pawn in a scorched earth attempt to harm the former president.” The company also called Vance’s case one that neither the Internal Revenue Service nor any other district attorney would ever bring. Trump is not expected to be charged this week, his lawyer Ronald Fischetti has said.
[SOURCE: reuters.com / ENGAGEMENT: 4.87%]

Prince Harry and Prince William reunited publicly Thursday for the unveiling of Princess Diana’s new statue on what would have been their late mother’s 60th birthday. William, 39, and Harry, 36, entered the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace side by side, smiling, before greeting guests separately. Together, they revealed the bronze statue of Diana from under a green tarp and stood an arms’ length away while admiring the work. The statue of Diana, which is slightly larger than life-size, is surrounded by three bronze children, meant to symbolize her universal and generational impact on humanitarian causes. A plinth at the base of the statue was engraved with Diana’s name and Thursday’s date as well as an excerpt of the poem “The Measure of a Man,” which was featured in her 2007 memorial service: “These are the units to measure the worth / Of this woman as a woman regardless of birth. / Not what was her station? / But had she a heart? / How did she play her God-given part?” Only a handful of guests were at the statue unveiling, mostly Diana’s relatives including her siblings: Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Lady Jane Baroness Fellowes and Earl Charles Spencer. No other royal family members were in attendance, though a few dozen spectators gathered outside, trying to catch a glimpse of the unveiling. The Duke of Sussex returned to Britain earlier this week – the first time since April, when he visited for the funeral of his grandfather, Prince Philip. Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, stepped down from royal duties last year and the couple now lives in California with their children, 2-year-old Archie Harrison and newborn Lilibet Diana. The Duke of Cambridge, who is second in line for the British throne, remains in the U.K. with his wife, Duchess Kate of Cambridge, and their three children: Prince George, who turns 8 later this month, Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3. Harry and William commissioned the statue of their mother in 2017 to honor her legacy after she died in a Paris car wreck in 1997. Four years later, following a killer pandemic that continues to keep England locked down, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex are living on different continents and barely speaking to each other.
[SOURCE: msn.com / ENGAGEMENT: 4.19%]

At least 17 people were injured Wednesday evening in Los Angeles after an explosion occurred inside a police bomb squad disposal truck, officials said. “This vessel should have been able to dispose of this material,” Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said at a news conference. “Something happened in that containment vehicle that should not have happened and we do not know why.” Earlier in the day, the LAPD received a call about illegal fireworks, Moore said. When officers arrived at the residence, they found commercial-grade fireworks stacked approximately 8-10 feet high. They also found improvised explosives, he said. The explosion occurred as officers intentionally detonated the improvised devices in the truck, Moore said. One person was arrested and charged with possession of a destructive device, the chief said. The illegal fireworks came from out of state and were intended for sale around the Fourth of July holiday, he added. Of the 17 people injured, 10 were responding officers and seven were civilians, Moore said. In an earlier statement, the Los Angeles Fire Department said 16 people were injured, including nine members of the LAPD. It described the officers as “in fair condition with minor injuries.” One member of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) had minor injuries. Several structures sustained varying levels of damage from the blast, the LAFD said. Multiple cars were damaged by flying debris. Mayor Eric Garcetti has said there would be a full investigation.
[SOURCE: cnn.com / ENGAGEMENT: 4.09%]

Eight Things To Talk About uses the raw engagement data from the social media engagement from The Conversation Project to generate the top-ranking headlines over the course of the past day.

A full weeks’ data (from Friday to Friday) is compiled, weighed, and sorted to produce the content for the Weekly Wrap-Up with J Cleveland Payne, published every Saturday as a podcast available at ThisIsTheConversation.com or wherever your favorite podcasts are found.

To ‘participate’ in the rankings of the headlines for this newsletter or the podcast, follow the Conversation Project on social media and engage with the posts to give them more ‘votes.’ The Conversation Project can be found on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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