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Man arrested at inauguration checkpoint with gun and ammo says he was lost and did not mean to bring weapon to DC

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 17: National Guard soldiers secure a gate to the east front of the U.S. Capitol on the morning of January 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. After last week's riots at the U.S. Capitol Building, the FBI has warned of additional threats in the nation's capital and in all 50 states. According to reports, as many as 25,000 National Guard soldiers will be guarding the city as preparations are made for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th U.S. President. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) (Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 17: National Guard soldiers secure a gate to the east front of the U.S. Capitol on the morning of January 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. After last week’s riots at the U.S. Capitol Building, the FBI has warned of additional threats in the nation’s capital and in all 50 states. According to reports, as many as 25,000 National Guard soldiers will be guarding the city as preparations are made for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th U.S. President. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

A Virginia man arrested by law enforcement in Washington DC after trying to pass through an inauguration security checkpoint carrying an unregistered pistol and ammunition said he had gotten lost and did not mean to be in the capital.

Wesley Allen Beeler, 31, drove into the heavily locked down portion of Washington DC surrounding the White House and the US Capitol. In order to move through that part of the city, visitors must pass through security checkpoints.

When he was intercepted by the Capitol Police, Me Beeler was arrested for possessing an unregistered firearm, unregistered ammunition and for carrying a pistol without a license, according to The Washington Post.

The man was released on personal recognisance and the ruling did not face opposition from prosecutors.

Mr Beeler said it was an “honest mistake” and denied details in the police report that suggested he had upwards of 500 rounds of ammunition in his truck.

He claimed he has spent the past week working as a hired security guard in Washington DC in anticipation of the inauguration. He says that on the day he was arrested he was running late and only realised when he was halfway to DC that he had his gun in his car. He was unwilling to turn around, so he kept going, and said he got lost driving around the District, which ultimately led to his arrest.

“I pulled up to a checkpoint after getting lost in DC because I’m a country boy,” he said. “I showed them the inauguration badge that was given to me.”

On Saturday, Capitol Police said the badge he presented was a “non-governmental” credential.

Mr Beeler was provided his credential – which was not recognised by authorities – by his employers, MVP Protective Services.

The officers who stopped Mr Beeler said their concern grew when they saw bumper stickers on his truck that read “Assault Life” and “If they come for your guns give ’em your bullets first”.

They asked if he had any weapons in the car, and Mr Beeler admitted to carrying a Glock in his centre console.

The arresting officers then removed Mr Beeler from his truck and said they found his handgun, which was loaded and ready to fire with a high-capacity magazine carrying 17 rounds of ammunition.

They also said they found more than 500 rounds of ammunition, including hollow-point bullets, which are often use by shooting enthusiasts for their accuracy, but which also expand on impact, making them especially deadly.

Officers also reported finding nearly two dozen shotgun shells “in plain sight” in the truck’s bed.

Mr Beeler said he only remembered having the pistol and the shotgun shells.

“It was just me forgetting to take it out of my truck before I left for work. I don’t know what the DC laws are. It still comes back on me, but I’m not a criminal,” Mr Beeler said.

A person familiar with Mr Beeler and his actions spoke with The Washington Post on condition of anonymity, saying Mr Beeler had no known extremist ties and that he fully cooperated with law enforcement officers and has since been cleared from further investigation.

Mr Beeler’s mother and father spoke to the paper and confirmed their son had been taking security work in DC for the past week.

According to Mr Beeler, he had been hired by MVP Protective Services to keep watch over media equipment stored in the city ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Mr Beeler has been ordered not to return to Washington DC except to appear in court or to meet with his lawyer. He told The Post he is trying to conceieve of a way to explain the situation to his children.

“I don’t want my kids to think I’m a bad person,” Mr Beeler said.

Read More

Comey warns of ‘very serious’ risk of violence at Biden’s inauguration

Man arrested with loaded gun and ‘unauthorised’ inauguration pass

Federal prisons on lockdown in run-up to Biden inauguration

Realtor who live-streamed storming of Capitol wants pardon from Trump

Before storming Capitol, Republican harassed women at abortion clinic

Baked Alaska arrested after live-streaming insurrection from Capitol


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Golden Gate Bridge could be crowded this weekend: Roadshow

Q: Every year on my husband‘s birthday our family walks across the Golden Gate Bridge. We are planning to go this weekend. I would like to find out if the bridge has been very busy with people walking since we are very concerned about COVID-19 issues. We don’t want to be walking very close to other people. Also, will the parking lot be open?

Joan Rabin, Los Altos

A: I love your tradition. Bridge visitorship has declined significantly during the pandemic, but there is occasional crowding on weekends and holidays. With dry and warm weather forecast this Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend, I would expect a good number of walkers. Bridge officials will announce their plans today for this weekend. Check goldengate.org for updated information.

Any parking lot closures will be highlighted on a bright orange banner at the top of the page.

Keep face masks on, and maintain physical distance, as you normally would. Try to hold to your tradition, and be ready to make that celebratory birthday walk together belatedly, on a quieter weekend, if crowds make it COVID-unsafe.

Q: Why does the 10-mile stretch of Highway 101 between Gilroy and Morgan Hill seem so forgotten?

A major effort to rehab the road was made back in 2016, I believe. A cement mixing facility was actually set up in one of the cloverleaves. But this effort resulted in the patched areas being considerably higher than the surrounding pavement. The road was almost more uncomfortable than before that repair. Despite two attempts to repair it, you can still feel the patches.

Today, the southbound lane three is a mess. Some parts cannot be driven in if you care about your load or vehicle. My question is, why this road did not get more attention?

Steve Sayle

A: There are plans to widen 101 into San Benito County in a few more years. But here’s the bad news. Repaving 101 is not on the list anytime soon.

Q: I have traveled from New Mexico and Arizona to California, and the difference in driver behavior is staggering. All through New Mexico and Arizona, folks move to the right when not passing. Not here.

Christa Fenus-Cates

A Louisiana man who was serving life in prison for selling $20 worth of marijuana was released after spending 12 years behind bars

angola prison
An entrance gate into one of the maximum security wings at Angola Prison. An entrance gate at a maximum security wing at Angola Prison. The Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola, and nicknamed the “Alcatraz of the South” and “The Farm” is a maximum-security prison farm in Louisiana operated by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections. Giles Clarke/Getty Images
  • A Louisiana man who was serving a life sentence in jail for selling $20 worth of marijuana to an undercover police officer was released this week after 12 years, as WWL-TV reported.

  • Fate Winslow, 53, was homeless when an officer approached him asking for weed in 2008. He sold the officer $20 worth of weed and was later arrested and given a life sentence, according to CNN

  • “I was so happy to get out,  Winslow told WWL-TV. “A life sentence for two bags of weed? I never thought something like that could happen.”

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Black Louisiana man who was serving a life sentence and spent over a decade behind bars for selling $20 worth of marijuana to undercover cops was released from prison earlier this week. 

Fate Winslow, 53, was released from Angola Louisiana State Penitentiary on Wednesday after serving 12 years for marijuana distribution, WWL-TV reported

“A life sentence for two bags of weed? I never thought something like that could happen,” Winslow told WWL-TV. 

“I was so happy to get out,” he said.

Winslow was homeless in Shreveport, Louisiana, when he was confronted by an undercover officer who asked him for weed in 2008. As CNN reported, he used a friend’s bike to pick up the two bags of weed, which he sold for $20 to the plain-clothed officer. The officer then gave Winslow $5 for food and Winslow was later arrested for the sale, according to the report. 

Due to Winslow’s past offenses – which were all non-violent but including a business burglary, car burglary, and cocaine possession – he was sentenced to life in prison, WWL-TV reported. However, Winslow’s release comes after he was granted time served with the help of his attorneys from the Innocent Project New Orleans (IPNO), an organization that helps and represents innocent incarcerated individuals serving life in prison in  Louisiana and Mississippi. 

During November’s election, five states – Mississippi, New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota – voted to legalize marijuana in ballot measures. A month later, the House of Representatives would decriminalize cannabis on the federal level.

According to a recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union, Black people are more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession even in states where it’s legal. And marijuana legalization, according to policy experts, may take some time despite the historic votes that took place the past several weeks. As Business Insider’s Kelly McLaughlin reported, in many states, there isn’t an automatic process to expunge – or seal – prior marijuana convictions from a person’s criminal record. Further, some states require inmates behind bars to file petitions for re-sentencings or dismissals of marijuana charges.

 “I cannot wait to have my dad back fully in my life,” Winslow’s daughter, Faith, said in an IPNO statement, according to WWL-TV. “Twelve years is a long time. Too long. He deserves a second chance and I am so glad he is getting one.”

Read the original article on Insider


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Disneyland resort will close on Christmas Day for first time in decades

The annual tradition of trying to figure out when Disneyland will close its gate because of holiday crowds between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day won’t take place in 2020 because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Downtown Disney and the partially reopened Disney California Adventure will be closed on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, along with the gates of Disneyland and the doors of Disney’s three Anaheim hotels.

Disneyland and Disney’s three Anaheim hotels have been closed for nine months by the COVID-19 pandemic with California theme parks expected to remain shuttered until early 2021 or next summer.

Downtown Disney reopened in July and DCA’s Buena Vista Street returned for shopping and dining in November as an extension of the outdoor mall. Disneyland was forced to close outdoor dining restaurants in Downtown Disney and Buena Vista Street and furlough 350 employees because of the Southern California stay-at-home order in early December.

Disneyland resort President Ken Potrock announced the closure of Downtown Disney and Disney California Adventure on Christmas Day in a letter to cast members, Disney parlance for employees.

“For six decades, Christmas Day has always been a special time at the Disneyland Resort, where our cast members have welcomed generations of guests to make cherished memories,” Potrock said in the letter. “But this year is certainly different. Given the continued closure of our theme parks and hotels, and in alignment with typical Christmas operations at other retail locations and shopping centers, we have made the decision to close the Downtown Disney District, including Buena Vista Street, on Christmas Day.”

In a normal year, Disneyland, DCA and Downtown Disney would be bustling on Christmas Day with annual passholders dropping by after opening their presents and the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian and Paradise Pier Hotel filled to near capacity with holiday travelers in town during Christmas break. Of course, this isn’t a normal year.

In 2019, Disneyland temporarily shut its gates on Dec. 27 as crowds filled the park and new visitors were directed to Disney California Adventure across the esplanade until attendance levels declined.

“We have temporarily stopped selling tickets to Disneyland Park,” the official Disneyland Today Twitter account said on Dec. 27, 2019. “As of 11:40 am, Disney California Adventure Park tickets remain available. Updates to follow.”

Disneyland closed its gates at 11:40 a.m. that day, less than 4 hours after the park opened. Disneyland diverted visitors to Disney California Adventure until later in the day when crowds were expected to diminish.

“Disneyland Park is currently at capacity,” Disneyland officials said last year. “Visiting the Disneyland resort during the holidays is a tradition for many people and on high demand days like today, we do all we can to welcome as many guests as possible.”

Visitors who purchase a “divert ticket” with park-hopping access on Dec. 27, 2019 were able to visit Disneyland later in the day after starting at Disney California Adventure.

Disneyland occasionally halts visitors from entering when the park reaches capacity, which is estimated to be about 75,000 people. Disney doesn’t release attendance figures.

The holiday week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is typically one of the busiest times of the year at Disney’s Anaheim theme parks.

Touring Plans, which tracks wait times at theme parks, estimated crowds at Disneyland would be at peak levels during Christmas Week 2019 on Dec. 27-30.

New ‘Heaven’s Gate’ series looks to Christianity to explain the method to the cult’s madness

Many people first became aware of the Heaven’s Gate cult in 1997, when — after an anonymous tip was called into the San Diego Police Department — the bodies of 39 men and women were found in a rented seven bedroom mansion. Each of the bodies were dressed in androgynous outfits with matching haircuts and Nike sneakers. On their arms were “Star Trek”-inspired bands that read “Heaven’s Gate Away Team,” and in their pockets were $5.75.

The discovery caused an inevitable media frenzy, especially after law enforcement authorities reported it as the largest mass suicide on American soil ( The “Jonestown Massacre,” during which more than 900 Americans died, took place in Guyana in 1978). The group believed that once they shedded their physical “vehicles,” they would ascend to heaven in a spaceship where they would reach the “Next Level. There, they would be transformed from their human shell into an alien form.

According to group documents, members had taken phenobarbital mixed with applesauce or pudding, followed by vodka, then asphyxiated themselves with plastic bags. The suicides occurred in shifts over three days, with cult founder Marshall Applewhite — known as “Do” — being among the final shift.

The scene was horrifying, but had enough of an aura of oddity to eventually become fodder for late-night television shows and comedy sketches. For example, in its first live show following the discovery of the bodies, “Saturday Night Live” aired a sketch in which the Heaven’s Gate members actually make it to space, followed by a fake advertisement for Keds, with the tagline, “Worn by level-headed Christians.”

Inherent to all jokes was a question that tends to underlie many mainstream discussions of cults: “How could someone be so easily taken?” The more fringe the group, the more blunt the question — but one that HBO Max’s new docuseries “Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults,” spearheaded by documentarian Clay Tweel, carefully attempts to dismantle and subvert over four hour-long episodes. It’s a thoughtfully paced series, rich in original source material and striking watercolor animations in place of reenactments.

The first two episodes aren’t the most salacious (if that’s what you’re looking for, skip ahead to the last two episodes), but they are the most illuminating when it comes to identifying where the tenets of Heaven’s Gate fall in the orbit of culturally accepted religious and spiritual teachings.

If — like me — you grew up in or around a Christian church that was heavy on themes of sanctification and purification, some of the cult’s ideologies won’t sound, well, too alien; just replace the hellfire and brimstone with spacecraft and stargazing.

As this docuseries asserts early in the first episode, a key teaching of both mainstream Christianity and Heaven’s Gate was that growing in one’s spirituality hinges on shedding one’s worldliness. As the Apostle Peter wrote to his followers, “Dear friends, I warn you as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’ to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.”

Meanwhile, archived footage of Heaven’s Gate members — gleaned by Tweel from early videos of recruiting sessions, public access television appearances, and the now-infamous “farewell messages” from group followers — features them espousing similar sentiments.

“I don’t think people know how deep their humanness goes,” said Dick Joselyn, a one-time Air Force pilot trainee, who was a member of the Heaven’s Gate cult for over a decade, but as another member, Margaret Ella Richter, said, “It’s possible to overcome humanness.”

“Heaven’s Gate: Cult of Cults” is built on the insight of various sociologists and religious scholars — most notably author and researcher Reza Aslan — who thoughtly weave together this connection, before landing on one of the things that makes a cult a cult. The leaders “break you down and create a new you.”

Again, this has a Biblical parallel. Ephesians teaches, “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds.”

Many of the teachings of Heaven’s Gate have a spiritual, though not always Christian, analogue — ideas of ascension (like in the Biblical book of Revelation), a state of enlightenment reminiscent of nirvana, an afterlife. This gospel, if you will, was deeply influenced by New Age concepts, including the idea of “walk-ins,” a person whose original soul has departed his or her body and has been replaced with a modified soul. These teachings were also eventually recorded by Applewhite in a series of videos that are deeply evocative of televangelism.

How could people be naive enough to join Heaven’s Gate? Well, as one of the featured religious scholars posits, the group was something akin to an errant branch of Christianity (a point that host Glynn Washington made in his popular “Heaven’s Gate” podcast, wherein he details his own upbringing in a Doomsday Christian cult.)

It appealed to members for the same reasons churches continue to fill their pews. People want to find connection, they want to feel like they are destined for something greater and that there is evidence of life beyond our immediate and perceptible surroundings. Some former members — who, like the members who eventually died by suicide, were largely educated with strong family ties — still describe their Heaven’s Gate years as the best time of their lives. For a brief moment in time, they felt like they belonged.

That said, Heaven’s Gates teachings were ultimately dictated by its leaders. Applegate’s “spiritual partner,” Bonnie Nettles — known as Ti — is presented as the mastermind behind the original recruitment. She was raised Baptist, but her beliefs ultimately became a kind of spiritual grab bag, influenced by New Age teachings, astrology, divination and science fiction.

And once she eventually died, and Applegate was on his own (and absolutely bereft, it should be noted) those teachings became flexible in order to cope with the cognitive dissonance that her “leaving her vehicle early” sparked. That’s when, Tweel asserts, Heaven’s Gate became more about the messenger than the message, and Applegate transitions from kooky, fringey New Age leader to the leader of the, as he puts it, “cult of cults.”

That’s when things dip into the salacious — and into more familiar territory for those who already know the story.

Where “Heaven’s Gate: Cult of Cults” falls a little short is in its explanation or exploration of Applegate and Nettles’ appeal. As leaders, they lack any kind of discernable charisma. While their teachings may have initially been palatable — even appealing — there’s a disconnect when it comes to why their followers stayed, especially when they were asked to forsake their families, mainstream society and any source of income.

This wasn’t just popping into a church service once a week — it was a full-time commitment, so I was left wondering when things became uncomfortable, what it was about their leadership that compelled their flock to persevere?

That said, “Heaven’s Gate: Cult of Cults” is a thoughtful assessment of the mechanisms of how otherwise smart, savvy people are attracted to fringe beliefs.It takes a story that is larger than life and brings it solidly back to earth.

All four episodes of “Heaven’s Gate: Cult of Cults” are now available to stream on HBO Max.

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Two games standout among Apple’s App Store Best of 2020 winners

It’s awards season for the video game industry, and one of the first announcements out of the gate comes from Apple, which unveiled its App Store Best of 2020 winners. The honors highlight coders who have created programs that have “proved to be essential for making life, easier, healthier and more connected” in a year that’s been upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

The iPhone Game of the Year was “Genshin Impact,” a console-quality title that happens to play well on mobile devices. The Chinese developer, miHoYo, read the tea leaves early and realized that the devices in players’ pockets would soon be able to push out visuals and gameplay equal to what they see on their living room televisions. As point of fact, “Genshin Impact” also released on PlayStation 4 and PC, showing that the hardware gap between the two devices is closing. The game can also be played across those different platforms.

“Genshin Impact” brings console-level gameplay and graphics to the iPhone. (miHoYo) 

Another title that showed how Apple devices were closing the gameplay divide was the iPad Game of the Year, “Legends of Runeterra.” This collectible card game is a spin-off to “League of Legends,” but what separates it from the likes of “Hearthstone” is that players can purchase individual cards and not packs of random ones. It’s a way to get players into the game without the need for spending hundreds of dollars on card packs that may not have what one is looking for.

The Mac Game of the Year and Apple TV Game of the Year are both unconventional tales that players may not be too familiar with. Each carries a distinct theme. The role-playing game “Disco Elysium” was heralded last year for its storytelling, winning four trophies at The Game Awards 2019. “Dandara: Trials of Fear” is a Metroidvania-style game from Long Hat House, a studio out of Brazil. It’s filled with images inspired from the country and the titular hero is a freedom fighter from the nation’s past.

The last two games are the most notable because of the stories behind them. “Sneaky Sasquatch,” the Apple Arcade Game of the Year, came out of a 2015 Game Jam idea from the two-person team at Rac7. Developers Jesse Ringrose and Jason Ennis worked around the theme of “You Are the Monster” and they came up with an idea of a Bigfoot that snuck around stealing food from campers.

Although it was fun, the two put the concept on the backburner and came back to it with the advent of Apple Arcade, which seemed like the perfect platform for a title that is constantly evolving and updating. “Sneaky Sasquatch” started out as game reminiscent of “Untitled Goose Game” with more of a “Metal Gear Solid” bent, but it strangely evolved into something more, as the team ran with the idea.

“Sneaky Sasquatch” is a stealth game that morphed into something more as the Apple Arcade Game of the Year. (Apple) 

They gave the Sasquatch a disguise and that led to the monster getting a job and climbing the corporate ladder. The creature could earn money and acquire resources to upgrade its home. It turned into a life simulator akin to “Stardew Valley.” Ringrose said the process was like jazz in that the two didn’t have a plan initially.

“It’s improvised,” he said. “We try to do one thing one month and then listen to what the community wants next month.” A lot of the ideas for Sasquatch comes from their own personal lives. The latest update, which features an adoptable dog, has its basis on Ringrose’s own pooch. He said that the in-game dog is named after his own pet.

Diving deeper into their past, Ringrose talked about how the game reflects his and Ennis’ childhoods in the Pacific Northwest. The two creators lived across the street from each other and spent considerable amount of time outdoors.

“We’re pulling from our own lives,” Ringrose said. “My friend and I went skiing, canoeing. … We’ve been building our childhood into a game and that means a lot when kids didn’t have a childhood this year.”

Children stuck at home because of the coronavirus have been exploring the wilderness in “Sneaky Sasquatch,” and they’ve been having adventures in the world inside their screens. Because they are missing out on part of their adolescence, Ringrose said, “They can play some of our childhood.”

“Pokemon Go” needs no introduction. It was a title that blew up in the Before Times of 2016, lost many of its initial users but steadily regained a following because of its improvements. The mobile title earned the App Trend of the Year award in 2020 for its ability to reinvent the game amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Few games had a steeper hill to climb than “Pokemon Go,” which requires players to be outside and socialize face to face with others. So how do you adapt a game, when the pillars that it’s built on don’t work in a pandemic?

Senior product manager Matthew Slemon and his team faced that question after returning from PAX East at the end of February. They discovered that they couldn’t go super local with changes because different states and nations had their own COVID rules. If they made changes, it would have to be global and they would have to do it quick. The plans for the 2020 feature set had to be altered drastically.

“We threw out the old road map,” Slemon said.

Niantic began asking, “How do you keep ‘Pokemon Go’s” spirit alive? How do we stay true to the core principles?”

Concepts like remote raiding were brought to the forefront. Slemon said developers wanted to keep the regionality and sense of place. They did that by requiring players to be friends with one another and showing them where raids would be taking place locally. That sense of place showed up well during the Lake Trio event, when players had a chance to capture legendary Pokemon not normally found in their neck of the woods. They just had to get invites from friends in Europe, North America or Asian Pacific region

Other ideas like stickers were fast-tracked because Slemon said they were easy to implement and they added to the social interaction of sending gifts to friends virtually. He said the stickers with their messages were bite-size pieces of socialization amid the pandemic.

Two games standout among Apple’s App Store Best of 2020 winners

It’s awards season for the video game industry, and one of the first announcements out of the gate comes from Apple, which unveiled its App Store Best of 2020 winners. The honors highlight coders who have created programs that have “proved to be essential for making life, easier, healthier and more connected” in a year that’s been upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

The iPhone Game of the Year was “Genshin Impact,” a console-quality title that happens to play well on mobile devices. The Chinese developer, miHoYo, read the tea leaves early and realized that the devices in players’ pockets would soon be able to push out visuals and gameplay equal to what they see on their living room televisions. As point of fact, “Genshin Impact” also released on PlayStation 4 and PC, showing that the hardware gap between the two devices is closing. The game can also be played across those different platforms.

“Genshin Impact” brings console-level gameplay and graphics to the iPhone. (miHoYo) 

Another title that showed how Apple devices were closing the gameplay divide was the iPad Game of the Year, “Legends of Runeterra.” This collectible card game is a spin-off to “League of Legends,” but what separates it from the likes of “Hearthstone” is that players can purchase individual cards and not packs of random ones. It’s a way to get players into the game without the need for spending hundreds of dollars on card packs that may not have what one is looking for.

The Mac Game of the Year and Apple TV Game of the Year are both unconventional tales that players may not be too familiar with. Each carries a distinct theme. The role-playing game “Disco Elysium” was heralded last year for its storytelling, winning four trophies at The Game Awards 2019. “Dandara: Trials of Fear” is a Metroidvania-style game from Long Hat House, a studio out of Brazil. It’s filled with images inspired from the country and the titular hero is a freedom fighter from the nation’s past.

The last two games are the most notable because of the stories behind them. “Sneaky Sasquatch,” the Apple Arcade Game of the Year, came out of a 2015 Game Jam idea from the two-person team at Rac7. Developers Jesse Ringrose and Jason Ennis worked around the theme of “You Are the Monster” and they came up with an idea of a Bigfoot that snuck around stealing food from campers.

Although it was fun, the two put the concept on the backburner and came back to it with the advent of Apple Arcade, which seemed like the perfect platform for a title that is constantly evolving and updating. “Sneaky Sasquatch” started out as game reminiscent of “Untitled Goose Game” with more of a “Metal Gear Solid” bent, but it strangely evolved into something more, as the team ran with the idea.

“Sneaky Sasquatch” is a stealth game that morphed into something more as the Apple Arcade Game of the Year. (Apple) 

They gave the Sasquatch a disguise and that led to the monster getting a job and climbing the corporate ladder. The creature could earn money and acquire resources to upgrade its home. It turned into a life simulator akin to “Stardew Valley.” Ringrose said the process was like jazz in that the two didn’t have a plan initially.

“It’s improvised,” he said. “We try to do one thing one month and then listen to what the community wants next month.” A lot of the ideas for Sasquatch comes from their own personal lives. The latest update, which features an adoptable dog, has its basis on Ringrose’s own pooch. He said that the in-game dog is named after his own pet.

Diving deeper into their past, Ringrose talked about how the game reflects his and Ennis’ childhoods in the Pacific Northwest. The two creators lived across the street from each other and spent considerable amount of time outdoors.

“We’re pulling from our own lives,” Ringrose said. “My friend and I went skiing, canoeing. … We’ve been building our childhood into a game and that means a lot when kids didn’t have a childhood this year.”

Children stuck at home because of the coronavirus have been exploring the wilderness in “Sneaky Sasquatch,” and they’ve been having adventures in the world inside their screens. Because they are missing out on part of their adolescence, Ringrose said, “They can play some of our childhood.”

“Pokemon Go” needs no introduction. It was a title that blew up in the Before Times of 2016, lost many of its initial users but steadily regained a following because of its improvements. The mobile title earned the App Trend of the Year award in 2020 for its ability to reinvent the game amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Few games had a steeper hill to climb than “Pokemon Go,” which requires players to be outside and socialize face to face with others. So how do you adapt a game, when the pillars that it’s built on don’t work in a pandemic?

Senior product manager Matthew Slemon and his team faced that question after returning from PAX East at the end of February. They discovered that they couldn’t go super local with changes because different states and nations had their own COVID rules. If they made changes, it would have to be global and they would have to do it quick. The plans for the 2020 feature set had to be altered drastically.

“We threw out the old road map,” Slemon said.

Niantic began asking, “How do you keep ‘Pokemon Go’s” spirit alive? How do we stay true to the core principles?”

Concepts like remote raiding were brought to the forefront. Slemon said developers wanted to keep the regionality and sense of place. They did that by requiring players to be friends with one another and showing them where raids would be taking place locally. That sense of place showed up well during the Lake Trio event, when players had a chance to capture legendary Pokemon not normally found in their neck of the woods. They just had to get invites from friends in Europe, North America or Asian Pacific region

Other ideas like stickers were fast-tracked because Slemon said they were easy to implement and they added to the social interaction of sending gifts to friends virtually. He said the stickers with their messages were bite-size pieces of socialization amid the pandemic.

Coronavirus: More than 200 cases reported at Bay Area horserace track

BERKELEY — Golden Gate Fields, the Bay Area’s major horse racing track, is experiencing a “significant outbreak” as cases of COVID-19 rise at an alarming rate across California.

More than 200 people at the racetrack that is located along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Berkeley public health officials and track operators said in a joint news release.

The track temporarily suspended live racing operations on Nov. 13 after reporting an outbreak of 24 cases on the backstretch where about 400 people work as grooms, hotwalkers and riders.

At the time, track officials said the Berkeley-Albany facility would remain open for daily exercise and training for the 1,200 horses housed there.

According to a statement issued Friday night by city and track officials, anyone in close contact with a person who has tested negative would be under quarantine for 14 days.

“The track is providing daily food delivery and access to medical support as well as the means to safely quarantine, including additional bathrooms and handwashing stations,” the statement said.

Officials said every person living or working at the track has been tested and additional testing is planned.

According to the statement issued Friday night, track officials are helping employees who tested positive find off-site housing. The statement also said  track officials have arranged for twice-daily food delivery “to ensure that those individuals do not have to leave isolation and have the essential items they require.”

Officials said if they uncover more COVID-19 cases public health officers will employ contract tracing to require more people to quarantine.

The statement said all those who tested positive are being isolated off-track.

News of the outbreak came a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a limited curfew starting Saturday night designed to slow a rapid surge of COVID-19 cases.

Newsom’s decree came on the heels of California public health officials placing 41 of the state’s 58 counties in the purple category — or most severe risk — in the state’s reopening system.

Saints 27, 49ers 13: Special teams mistakes, Mullens’ miscues doom upset bid

NEW ORLEANS — A 10-0 lead out the gate had the 49ers angling for a Superdome upset. They even had a live audience to fuel them for the first time this season.

Add in Drew Brees’ unexpected exit at halftime, because of a rib injury, and the 49ers should have been living it up in the Big Easy.

Instead, the 49ers muffed two punts, quarterback Nick Mullens struggled to revive the offense, and a short-handed team sustained its third straight loss, this time in 27-13 fashion to the NFC-leading Saints.

This was, in the end, the expected path the 49ers (4-6) were to take into their bye.

“I thought we had an opportunity today, big time,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We should have had the lead going into the second half. Couldn’t get anything going. Didn’t get much out of run game today and those (four) turnovers are what killed us.”

Mullens’ play will draw the most scrutiny because it comes with the  job description, and because of his two interceptions that foiled potential scoring drives.

Without a running game to assist him, and with so many first-string players out injured, the offense had little chance to keep pace with whoever the Saints played at quarterback, and that included Brees, super-sub Taysom Hill and second-half starter Jameis Winston.

“We blew an opportunity there,”  Shanahan added.

Muffed punts secured the 49ers’ demise, and those came after the Saints muffed a punt return in the first quarter to spark the day’s trend.

Here are the highs, lows and all you need to know:

RUN GAME GROUNDED: Jerick McKinnon had only 13 yards on his first 13 carries in a starting role likely to be reclaimed by Raheem Mostert after the bye. McKinnon averaged just 1.8 yards per carry (18 attempts, 33 yards).

Making matters worse, McKinnon’s pass protection faltered on multiple occasions, he got hammered at the 14-yard line on a kickoff return and he left with a nerve-stinger injury.

Even worse than all that, the 49ers lost another running back to injury: JaMycal Hasty’s rookie season ended with 10:32 remaining in the game when he broke his left collar bone. He’d gotten tackled for a 5-yard loss after catching a checkdown pass from Mullens.

The 49ers entered without their top three rushers: Mostert (ankle), Tevin Coleman (knee) and Jeff Wilson (ankle). Shanahan expects Mostert and possibly Coleman to return for their Nov. 29 game at the Los Angeles Rams.

MULLENS’ MOMENTS: Mullens’ two interceptions were big in harming a second-half comeback.

A third-down lollipop got picked off by safety Malcolm Jenkins to spoil a third-quarter drive in Saints’ territory. It was heralded as the Saints’ play-of-the-game on their postgame video screens.

Mullens’ grand finale was a fade pass to Kendrick Bourne that got picked off in the end zone by Patrick Robinson with 2:25 left.

Mullens had multiple passes batted down at the line, and he finished 24-of-38 for 247 yards with a touchdown and a 68.6 rating. Hindered by a quadriceps injury, Mullens came out for one play, the last of the third quarter as C.J. Beathard replaced him and underthrew Richie James on a deep route.

SPECIAL TEAMS OOPS: The 49ers’ special teams started out hot with Marcell Harris’ recovery of a muffed punt. But then the 49ers yielded a 75-yard kick return.

The worse was yet to come. The 49ers’ muffed a second-quarter punt at their 21-yard line, when it hit off Ken Webster after Trent Taylor called for a fair catch and let it hit the ground. James’ muffed a fourth-quarter punt return, leading to the Saints’ final touchdown and James was the last 49er to leave the bench once the final seconds expired.

BREES’ EXIT: Brees’ final throw increased his NFL record to 565 touchdown passes, but that came near the end of the first half, not in the fourth quarter. A rib injury forced him out at halftime. Although he was not sacked, he did get hit on a second-quarter play by Kentavius Street that was originally ruled a sack, until officials questionably negated it with a roughing-the passer penalty on Street.

Brees was 8-of-13 for 76 yards with the lone touchdown. As the second half started with Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill alternating at quarterback, Brees paced the sideline with his hands on his hips as teammates left him alone.  Brees finally put on a cap with 4:19 left in the third quarter.

Winston was 6-of-10 for 63 yards in relief.

U.S. appeals court upholds Harvard University affirmative action program

A man walks through a gate to the Yard at Harvard University in Cambridge

BOSTON (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Thursday upheld Harvard University’s use of race in undergraduate admissions, rejecting a challenge by affirmative action opponents who said the school’s policy discriminates against Asian-Americans.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston rejected the claims by Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit founded by anti-affirmative action activist Edward Blum, in a dispute that may eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court rejected claims by the group, which has the support of President Donald Trump’s administration, that the Ivy League school engaged in impermissible “racial balancing” to benefit other preferred minority groups, such as Blacks and Hispanics.

Representatives for Harvard and SFFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs last year ruled that while Harvard’s admissions program is “not perfect,” it had no “workable and available race-neutral alternatives” to ensure a diverse student body.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Catherine Evans)


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