Students Lead Huge Rallies for Gun Control Across the U.S.


Aerial video captured seas of people — in front of Trump International Hotel in New York; in a central square in Tokyo; along the streets of Boston; at a rally in downtown Fort Worth, Tex.; and crammed into a park less than a mile from Stoneman Douglas High.

Delivered in soaring speeches, emotional chants and hand-painted signs, the protesters’ messages offered angry rebukes to the National Rifle Association and politicians who have left gun laws largely intact for decades. A sign in Washington declared “Graduations, not funerals!” while another in New York said “I should be learning, not protesting.” Crowds in Chicago chanted “Fear has no place in our schools” as they marched.

Celebrities, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, the “Hamilton” star, and the pop singers Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus, performed in Washington, where politicians and adult activists were largely sidelined in favor of the fresh-faced students offering stories of fear and frustration, but also hope for change.

The most powerful, and impassioned, moments came from the surviving students of the Parkland shooting, who declared themselves angry, impatient and determined to stop the slaughter.

“Today, we march,” Ms. Tarr said. “We fight. We roar. We prepare our signs. We raise them high. We know what we want, we know how to get it and we are not waiting any more.”

Photographs

Photos From the ‘March for Our Lives’ Protests Around the World

Crowds gathered in cities across the United States and around the world.



OPEN Photographs


An 11-year-old girl from Virginia, Naomi Wadler, captivated her audience as she declared “Never again!” on behalf of black women and girls who have been the victims of gun violence.

Calls like Naomi’s stood in stark contrast to action on Capitol Hill and at the White House in the hours before the rallies. President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill that took no significant new steps on gun control: It did nothing to expand background checks, impose additional limits on assault weapons, require a higher age for rifle purchases or curb the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines.

The spending legislation, which was viewed as the last opportunity this year for Congress to enact major new gun restrictions before the midterm elections in November, included only some school safety measures and modest improvements to the background check system.

Organizers at national gun control groups, who provided logistical support and public relations advice as the students planned the Washington rally, said they believed that the students would not become disillusioned by the lack of immediate action in Congress. They noted that rallies took place in 390 of the country’s 435 congressional districts.

“The mass shooting generation is nearing voting age,” said John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, a national group that advocates tougher gun laws. “They know the midterms are six months away, and they plan to make sure that they vote and they get others to register to vote. They are absolutely poised to turn this moment into a movement.”

Gun rights organizations largely stayed silent on Saturday, following vigorous efforts since the Parkland shooting to squash any movement toward significant gun control legislation. A spokesman for the N.R.A. declined repeated requests for comment.

On the eve of the march, Colion Noir, a host on NRATV, an online video channel produced by the gun group, lashed out at the Parkland students, saying that “no one would know your names” if someone with a weapon had stopped the gunman at their school.

“These kids ought to be marching against their own hypocritical belief structures,” he said in the video, adding: “The only reason we’ve ever heard of them is because the guns didn’t come soon enough.”

Small counterprotests took place in a few cities. In Salt Lake City, several hundred people gathered near a high school, some carrying signs with messages like “AR-15’s EMPOWER the people.” Brandon McKee, who wore a pistol on his belt, brought his daughter, Kendall, 11, who held a sign that said “Criminals love gun control.”

“I believe it’s their goal to unarm America, and that’s why we’re here today,” Mr. McKee said of the Washington marchers. In Boston, about 20 protesters favoring gun control confronted a small clutch of Second Amendment supporters in front of the State House. The two sides quickly got into a shouting match.

Video

A 360-Degree View of the March for Our Lives Protest

Witness the thousands who have gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington to protest gun violence, in 360-degree video.


By TIM CHAFFEE on Publish Date March 24, 2018.


Photo by Erin Schaff for The New York Times.

Watch in Times Video »

The pro-gun protests were swamped in size and enthusiasm by those marching for gun control, many of whom traveled for many hours to attend the rallies in cities across the country. Sebastian Jennings, 18, said he spent 36 hours taking a bus to Washington from western Arkansas. Tour buses lined the streets.

Security was tight in Washington, where military trucks and guards blocked almost every intersection near the rally amid a huge police presence, and in other cities where marches and rallies forced the closing of major roads.

In towns like Dahlonega, Ga., smaller rallies sought to demonstrate a desire for new gun restrictions even in rural, Republican-leaning communities where gun ownership is common and support for the Second Amendment is strong.

“We’re going to be the generation that takes down the gun lobby,” Marisa Pyle, 20, said through a red megaphone to a group of several hundred people gathered in front of the Dahlonega Gold Museum.

Around the world, Americans living abroad gathered to honor those who have died in school shootings and to echo the call for gun control.

Protesters in Rome jammed the sidewalk across from the American Embassy, next to the upscale Via Veneto, raising their voice in chants — “Hey hey, ho ho, the N.R.A. has got to go,” and waving signs with messages like “A gun is not fun” and “Am I next?” many made by high school students at an international school.

About 150 to 200 people in Berlin gathered in solidarity in front of the Brandenburg Gate, just steps from the American Embassy. Many carried hand-painted signs, among them: “Arms should be for hugging,” “Bullets aren’t school supplies” and “Waffeln statt Waffen” (Waffles instead of weapons).

One of the largest rallies outside Washington was at a Florida park not far from Stoneman Douglas High School. During that event, 17 students from the school silently took the stage to represent their friends who had been killed.

Anthony Montalto, the brother of Gina Rose Montalto, one of those killed, held a sign that said: “My sister could not make it here today. I’m here for her.”

“Turn this moment into a movement,” Sari Kaufman, a sophomore at Stoneman Douglas, implored the sea of students, parents and teachers. She urged her classmates to vote out of office politicians who receive money from the N.R.A. “They think we’re all talk and no action.”

Video

Thousands March to End Gun Violence

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets in Washington and cities across the globe to take a stance against gun violence.


By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER on Publish Date March 24, 2018.


Photo by Erin Schaff for The New York Times.

Watch in Times Video »

But the largest rally, by far, was in Washington, where stage risers and giant television monitors were set up in the shadow of the Capitol — the focus of much of the anger from students throughout the day.

One protester carried a sign that said “If the opposite of pro is con, then the opposite of progress is Congress.”

Most Republican and Democratic members of Congress had already left the city to return to their home districts for spring break. Mr. Trump spent Saturday afternoon in Florida, at the Trump International Golf Club, less than an hour north of Parkland. A White House spokeswoman said in a statement, “We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today.”

City officials had prepared for the biggest march since about a half-million women walked gathered on the day after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, declaring a new political movement aimed at resisting the president and his policies.

On Saturday, officials with Metro, the region’s subway system, said more than 207,000 rides had been taken on the system by 1 p.m., about half of the number by that time during the women’s march.

A team of crowd science researchers led by G. Keith Still of Manchester Metropolitan University in England estimated that about 180,000 people attended the rally. They examined photographs, video and satellite imagery to estimate the crowd density in different areas of the demonstration. The number is less than half of the 470,000 that Dr. Still estimated had attended the Women’s March in Washington in 2017.

Even so, the streets of Washington were packed on Saturday. Teenagers climbed on each other’s shoulders to reach the bare limbs of trees, where they climbed higher. And each student who spoke drew a cheer that matched, and even eclipsed, the applause given to the musical performers.

Edna Chavez, 17, a high school senior from Los Angeles, said she had lost her brother to gun violence: “He was in high school when he passed away. It was a day like any other day. Sunset down on South Central. You hear pops, thinking they’re fireworks.”

“Ricardo was his name. Can you all say it with me?” she asked. The crowd said his name over and over again, as Ms. Chavez smiled through tears.

Naomi Wadler, the 11-year-old student, introduced herself with a soft “hi” and said she represented the black women who have been victims of gun violence.

“People have said that I am too young to have these thoughts on my own,” she said. “People have said that I am a tool of some nameless adult. It’s not true. My friends and I might still be 11, and we might still be in elementary school, but we know.”

She added, “And we know that we have seven short years until we, too, have the right to vote.”

Continue reading the main story

Why Margot Robbie is taking on Shakespeare


Margot RobbieImage copyright
EPA

Margot Robbie is planning a new TV series, which will give Shakespeare plays a “female perspective”.

The Oscar-nominated actress is creating 10 standalone episodes with the Australia Broadcasting Corporation, each of which will tackle a different play.

The stories will be told from female points of view, with the series led by a predominantly female creative team.

“I’m taking a lot of meetings with the lesser-known talent at the moment, the indie film-makers, first- and second-time film-makers, mainly women,” Robbie told the Australian Associated Press in Sydney.

“I’m in a lovely position where I can actually help get things greenlit so I want to work with people who we haven’t seen yet.”

Details are sketchy about which plays are going to be re-told for the series, but each of the 10 episodes will focus on a different work of Shakespeare, updated to comment on modern society.

“It’s not a particularly new idea, but it’s a welcome one,” says Dr Abigail Rokison-Woodall, lecturer in Shakespeare and theatre at The Shakespeare Institute.

Image copyright
Getty Images

“People have been updating Shakespeare’s plays in order to comment on contemporary situations for an awfully long time,” she added. “There’s a wealth of adaptations of Shakespeare, many of which take a feminist angle.

“And I think it’s always interesting to see what people can do with the stories in terms of updating them.”

‘Stories that haven’t yet been told’

Carol Rutter, professor of Shakespeare and performance studies at the University of Warwick, says Robbie’s is an arguably better approach than some other recent interpretations.

“This project fits in at the moment with women’s need, if you will, to take over Shakespeare,” she says. “So in the UK we’re seeing a lot of cross-gendering of roles, for example.

“And I think that’s really destructive. I feel very keenly that cross-gendering is not the way to go, it creates all kinds of problems.

“I wish that women could simply do Shakespeare by being actors playing parts, being male or female as the part requires, but it seems to me that it’s an odd skewing of a play when you take, for example, a Malvolio and turn it into a Malvolia.

“But Margot Robbie’s project seems to be asking us to use the richness that is in Shakespeare’s materials to explore the stories that haven’t yet been told.”

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Robbie was nominated for best actress at the Oscars earlier this month

Prof Rutter adds there is no shortage of such material to explore when it comes to expanding on certain female characters or storylines.

“There are all sorts of plays in Shakespeare where we would like to hear the women talk,” she says – citing an off-stage conversation between Isabella and Mariana in Measure by Measure, which is key to the plot, as an example.

“All over Shakespeare there are women’s stories that we would like to know so much more about.”

Of course, Robbie’s attempts to tell Shakespeare stories form a female perspective is built on the premise that they are currently told from male perspectives.

But interestingly, neither Prof Rutter nor Dr Rokison-Woodall think that is the case.

“I don’t think one can say that about drama. I don’t think drama is told from any one perspective because of course it’s multi-vocal, that’s what drama is,” says Dr Rokison-Woodall.

“So I’m slightly mystified by the notion of needing to tell them from a female perspective. If this was a series of novels, I could completely understand what they were getting at.

“There are novels out there that retell plays from the perspective of a single character, but that’s something a novel is able to do.”

Image copyright
NAtional Theatre

Image caption

Tamsin Greig played Malvolia in a recent cross-gender production of Twelfth Night

Prof Rutter adds: “I think it’s reductive to say that there is a default position that everybody who comes on to the stage is speaking for Shakespeare or speaking in a male voice.

“No, the women have voices, and the women are the most challenging voices that interrogate masculinity in the plays. So I don’t hold that premise.

“However, because Shakespeare was working with an all-male company, and had probably three women to deploy play by play, I can understand why now these plays look, in terms of their personnel and their narratives, to be very male dominated. But I don’t think the whole perspective is male.”

Dr Rokison-Woodall says the effectiveness of taking a female point of view will entirely depend which plays are chosen for the TV series.

“In the tragedies, a lot of the female characters are silent to an extent, they are observers. Ophelia doesn’t say very much, Gertrude doesn’t say very much, although they’re both in quite a lot of scenes in Hamlet.

“So to some extent I can see there’s something attractive about retelling a Shakespeare play from the point of view of one of the characters who observes but doesn’t speak much.”

Whether or not the plays are currently told from a certain perspective, it’s true that most of Shakespeare’s protagonists are male.

Image copyright
Neon

Image caption

Margot Robbie played Tonya Harding in the Oscar-nominated I, Tonya

And because so many of the plays are named after their lead characters, such as Macbeth, some have argued this alone gives them a distinctly male skew.

“Yeah but you see that’s because they’re not actually listening to the play,” says Prof Rutter.

“All of Shakespeare’s titles are mischievous. Twelfth Night. Macbeth. As You Like It. These titles are invitations to walk into the trap of thinking that these plays are actually about men.

“The first people on that stage [in Macbeth] are three weird sisters. They name the play Macbeth by putting the finger on him and we already know this man is already doomed, and doomed by these things that are the weird sisters.”

She concludes: “I’m certainly positive about women remaking Shakespeare, I think that a fantastic thing to do. I just hope they are not just kind of remakes, but are genuinely new plays coming out of Shakespeare, and in the spirit of Shakespeare.”


Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

Adorable dogs play role at March for Our Lives


Adorable dogs were among the hundreds of thousands of protesters who stepped out today to show solidarity at March for Our Lives rallies in the nation’s capital and around the country.

Interested in Gun Control?

Add Gun Control as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Gun Control news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

The four-legged marchers stole the show at some marches, donning eye-catching signs such as “Biscuits not Bullets,” or “I bark for gun control.”

Here are a few shots some of today’s canine activists in action.

PHOTO: @vesper_rose shared this photo on Instagram, March 24, 2018 during March for Our Lives rally.@vesper_rose/Instagram
@vesper_rose shared this photo on Instagram, March 24, 2018 during March for Our Lives rally.
PHOTO: A dog is pictured with a sign at the March for Our Lives rally in London, March 24, 2018.Gustavo Valiente/i-Images/Polaris
A dog is pictured with a sign at the March for Our Lives rally in London, March 24, 2018.
PHOTO: People with a dog participate in the March for Our Lives outside the U.S. embassy in Bogota, Colombia, March 24, 2018.Jaime Saldarriaga/Reuters
People with a dog participate in the March for Our Lives outside the U.S. embassy in Bogota, Colombia, March 24, 2018.

She says it was months of horrific cyber harassment, he says he did nothing wrong


Courtney Allen says she has spent a year and a half living in a state of perpetual terror. A wife and mother from suburban Seattle, Allen said what started as an online flirtation led to a dogged, diabolical campaign of cyberstalking.

“I’m having nightmares that my husband is dead, that my son is being taken away from me,” Allen told “Nightline.”

She says playful banter in the chatroom of an online video game curdled into a tsunami of threatening phone calls, emails and text messages, as well as intimate videos of her being sent to her colleagues and the police being called to her home to investigate reports of child abuse.

Courtney Allen is seen here during a Nightline interview. ABC News
Courtney Allen is seen here during a “Nightline” interview.

She said the months of harassment and humiliation she and her husband, Steven Allen, endured led her to even contemplate suicide.

The man the Allens blame for the torment is Todd Zonis, a 44-year-old married man from Arizona.

Courtney and Steven Allen got married in 2001, and when they had their son, Rand, Courtney Allen quit her job and became a stay-at-home mom. That’s when she said their marriage began to change.

“Steve was not home a lot,” she said. “I felt abandoned and then having no time to talk to friends or anything, I really just felt very secluded.”

She began playing an online game called “Grepolis.” Set in ancient Greece, the game lets players use the powers of the gods to protect them and forge alliances with other virtual players. It was while playing this game that she met Zonis. At first, she said he was “rude and crude” but she thought he was funny.

“And we just began conversing through the online game,” she said.

Then Courtney Allen said they began emailing each other.

“We started flirting and then that turned to texting, sexting,” she said. “And that’s mainly how the relationship started to evolve.”

Courtney Allen is seen here during an interview for Nightline.ABC News
Courtney Allen is seen here during an interview for “Nightline.”

Courtney Allen was having what she calls a secret online affair, even though she and Zonis had never met face-to-face.

“I felt like he [Zonis] was my best friend,” she said. “I told him very private things about myself, things that I really didn’t tell other people. He replaced my husband.”

Then, she said, things turned sexual.

“He had this idea where we should exchange some illicit videos of ourselves,” she said. “So he sent me several and then asked for one in return, and I obliged.”

In September 2013, Steven Allen discovered the relationship.

“It was devastating to me,” he said. “You just don’t ever think that your spouse would do that.”

Steven Allen is seen here at the family home during a Nightline interview.ABC News
Steven Allen is seen here at the family home during a “Nightline” interview.

Steven Allen confronted his wife and she told him she would end the affair with Zonis. But, she didn’t and instead hid her and Zonis’ interaction inside a password-protected tablet.

Months later, Steven Allen caught her again.

Disappointed but unwilling to give up on their marriage, Steven said he began searching for answers and found a website called MarriageBuilders.com. The website says that in order to end an affair, it must be exposed to “family, friends … and especially the lover’s spouse.”

The website’s author says, that while controversial, overall the advantages of exposure far outweigh the disadvantages and that it’s just “a part of [his] complete plan for marital reconciliation.”

So Steven Allen told his parents and then sent individual Facebook messages to “about 40 of our common friends,” telling them, “I feel it is very important to inform you that Courtney has been participating in an internet, sexual affair, which has shattered my heart. I am asking that you pray for us … and use whatever influence you have to encourage her to work on our marriage.”

But then he took it even further and emailed Zonis’ wife and parents, telling them, “He’s having an internet affair with my wife.… This involves texts, emails … and shared recorded videos of masturbation.”

According to the Allens, Zonis was furious and he focused his anger on Steven.

Steven Allen said his bosses started receiving anonymous emails “saying bad things about me, lies about me, trying to get me fired.”

Then the couple said there was a death threat sent to Steven’s grandmother.

“She called me up and said … a man threatened to burn down the house with us in it,” said Courtney Allen.

Courtney said the next year and a half was an “all-out attack” on their family. Hundreds of emails began pouring in. One email sent on Dec. 12, 2014, at 9:25 p.m. read, “Where are you? Are you OK? … Are you just hoping I fade away so you can enjoy twisting the knife?”

Another email that same night at 9:26 p.m. said, “God damn you, why won’t you talk to me?” There were more emails that night, sent at 9:30, 9:42, 10:00 and 10:34.

“I just kept trying to think, ‘There’s got to be a way for me to get rid of this guy in a nice way where he’ll leave me alone,’” she said.

She said she received five more emails. “What the —-? … Are you joking?” one email said. “You are cruel,” said another. Another asked: “Have you even thought about me at all in the past month?”

More emails arrived, angry and abusive ones, followed by ones looking for sympathy or demanding apologies.

Then came the voicemails.

Steven and Courtney Allen are seen here during a Nightline interview. ABC News
Steven and Courtney Allen are seen here during a “Nightline” interview.

“Now it’s all just payback and fun. … Hope Steve’s credit didn’t take a hit. That would be a shame,” was one voicemail received on Feb. 2, 2015.

“I’m telling you, passion is passion. I did nothing wrong. I’m not going anywhere,” said another received on Feb. 26, 2015.

“There’s no job either one of you guys can have that I won’t know about and be there,” was one received on Feb. 27, 2015. “I will tell you, I’m going to make this as painful and expensive as possible.”

Steven Allen said he received so much of this sort of harassment at work that he had to quit his job.

“I remember going to Steve and saying, ‘This is scaring me. I’m not able to sleep anymore,’” Courtney Allen said. “I don’t know what he‘s going to do next. … I tried emailing and saying, ‘Leave me alone,’ and kept getting progressively firmer” but the harassment wouldn’t stop.

Steven Allen said he had his moments where he thought if his wife hadn’t had this affair, they wouldn’t be dealing with this. But he said he knew “she’s not doing this, he’s doing this.”

“He could choose not to,” Steven said. “He, for whatever reason, felt the way to go was to harass and stalk her and that’s on him.”

The Allens changed their phone numbers, but the calls kept coming. One evening, Courtney Allen said she received more than 200 text messages.

“Like a switch was flipped, like he’s just gone crazy,” she said.

But then the cyber torture became even worse. An explicit video of Courtney Allen masturbating was posted to a website called YouPorn and sent to her bosses and Facebook friends from a Facebook account of someone named Jennifer Jones.

“It was a full-out attack,” she said. “It was personal.”

Cyber harassment attorney Carrie Goldberg said, “Sharing an intimate image with one person doesn’t license that person to then share it with the world. But even more importantly in this case, it doesn’t license the recipient to destroy her with the image.”

Sometimes perpetrators can feel that there’s been “some sort of injustice” and they want revenge, Goldberg said, but “it’s also a sadistic need to control and dominate another person.”

The Allens called the police, but said they were told there was nothing the police could do. They live in Seattle and said the officer they spoke to had told them they could try relocating.

“The police officer told us … because he [Zonis] is in Arizona, ‘Our hands are kind of tied. We don’t really know what to do with this,’” Courtney Allen said. “So he told us … that a detective would contact us.”

It’s not uncommon for local police department to not know how to handle cyberattack cases, Goldberg said, “but stalking is stalking, whether it’s through a computer or a phone, in person, and certainly this offender broke many, many laws.”

A few days later, the Allens were relieved when a detective did knock on their door, but then they were blindsided again.

“The detective … says, ‘I’m here on a welfare check for your son. You’ve been reported for child abuse,’” Courtney Allen said. “And she apologized and said, ‘I’m sorry. I need to see your son’s body.’”

Courtney was terrified, thinking that her son could be taken away from her.

“And then I think my son was playing with my dog the other day and he’s got a tiny scratch, they’re going to see that scratch and they’re going to take him away,” she said. “My son comes down and he sees me upset so he doesn’t want to show the detective anything, and so through coaxing, me and the detective are able to take his shirt off and see that there are no bruises.”

“I break down and I’m like, ‘We’ve got a stalker. I think this is his doing. He told me something was going to happen and this is it,’” she continued. “And she [the detective] told me … ‘We’ll figure this out. I’ll call you in a little bit.’”

But the next day, Courtney Allen said their neighbor came over and told her she had gotten a letter in the mail accusing Steven Allen of abusing and psychologically torturing his wife, urging the community to act and hold him accountable. The letter had been sent to the entire neighborhood and was postmarked from Phoenix, Arizona.

“I stopped being able to function. … There was always a threat hanging over my head and I didn’t know what to do,” Courtney said. “These threats are not vague threats to me. They’re very real because I believe him.”

The Allens then went to the FBI and an agent picked up their case. But then death threats started coming in. One message sent on April 25, 2015, at 2:25 p.m. said, “They are going to hurt you, maybe even kill you. You deserve it.” Another one sent on May 1, 2015, at 7:05 a.m. said, “You and Steven are garbage and he’s gonna die.”

Courtney Allen said the FBI agent told her to call 911 if she felt like she was in danger. While she had a documented death threat, she said, the issue was that not all of the messages were traceable. This was because whoever had been harassing the Allens was using Tor, anonymity software that makes tracing emails and identifying the sender impossible.

After months of brutal harassment, Courtney Allen said she considered taking her own life.

“I got … an anonymous email [that said], ‘It’s better for you if you just die,’” she said. “And all this guilt came crashing down that I introduced this maniac into the lives of my family and into my life … and maybe there’s some way I can protect my family and maybe this is it. Maybe if I die, you know, if I kill myself, maybe that will be the end.”

She said she went as far as to take a gun out of the family’s safe.

“And my son popped into my head and I started to think about the times that I would miss if I weren’t there. … I wouldn’t get to see [his] first date or to teach him how to drive a car,” she said. “And I stopped. Got up, stopped crying and went about my day and I was like passing a test… The thoughts of my son and my husband, that’s what saved me.”

The Allens took Todd Zonis and his wife, Jennifer Zonis, to court in June 2015. Proving he was responsible for the cyberharassment would have been impossible if it hadn’t been for the handful of emails the Allens’ attorneys linked to the Zonises’ IP address.

One such email that was sent March 17, 2015, at 9:35 a.m., said, “OK, isolation, shaming and ridicule, coming right up.” Another that had been sent on March 29, 2015, at 2:05 p.m., said, “I’ll be in Washington [state] real soon. I think we will be seeing a lot of each other for quite a while.”

The jury found the Zonises responsible for intentional invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation to the sum of $8.9 million.

Todd Zonis and his wife Jennifer Zonis are seen here during an interview with Nightline.ABC News
Todd Zonis and his wife Jennifer Zonis are seen here during an interview with “Nightline.”

The Zonises agreed to sit down with “Nightline.” Todd Zonis said he had met Courtney Allen while “playing an online game for the first time in my life,” but that’s where his and the Allens’ story diverge.

Todd said he and his wife Jennifer Zonis had befriended Courtney Allen and that Jennifer was even involved in the correspondence with her.

“She [Courtney Allen] sent me gifts,” Jennifer Zonis said. “She made little tags for the things in my garden, stuff like that.”

Todd Zonis said that Courtney Allen’s claims that their online relationship was more emotional and romantic are “not true at all” and that the story they heard in court about the Allens being harassed for months on end was “very difficult to contradict because we’ve never heard [it] before.”

Todd Zonis said that Courtney Allen had told them her husband Steven was “very controlling” and an “abusive kind of guy.” They also said that she had propositioned them for sex. But Jennifer Zonis said, “We turned her down.”

The Allens’ attorneys argued in court that the explicit images of Courtney Allen that were sent to the Allens’ friends from the Jennifer Jones Facebook account was an account that had been logged into from an IP address at the Zonises’ house.

“That wasn’t me,” Todd Zonis told “Nightline.”

He also denied sending the emails that the Allens’ legal team referenced in court. In fact, he said some of the emails accessed from his IP address, and the calls to police alleging child abuse, were actually done by Steven Allen pretending to be him.

Todd Zonis gave “Nightline” a drive containing evidence that he said was proof of his innocence. But “Nightline” found very little on it that hadn’t already been presented in court. He also repeatedly stressed in the interview that he wasn’t good with computers.

“Literally, I’m a computer moron,” Todd Zonis said. “I’ve never done any of this before. So, no, I had no involvement in any of that.”

As for the letter that was mailed to all of the Allens’ neighbors claiming Steven Allen was abusive, Todd Zonis said Courtney Allen had written it herself and asked him to send it for her, which is why the letters were postmarked from Phoenix.

“Because he [Steven Allen] had … done an exposure of her to all her family and friends,” Jennifer Zonis said. “She was pissed and wanted retribution against her husband.”

When asked about the threatening voicemails the Allens’ received, Zonis admitted that it was his voice on some of them but that, “all of these [voicemails] could be explained if they’re taken in context.”

Todd Zonis claimed that Steven Allen had sent an email to Zonis’ wife and parents claiming he and Courtney were having an affair, “three or four months before any of this happened.”

The voicemail that says, “It’s all payback and fun,” Todd Zonis said, “Do you know what ‘the payback and fun’ was? The Super Bowl was here that year. … I’m a sound guy and I work those shows. … That’s a lot of money.”

“Steven Allen … intentionally hired lawyers down here to move the date of the hearing,” he continued. “He intentionally dragged his feet on it and then switched it to four different times during that week. I lost the Super Bowl [gig].”

The Zonises claim they never got a fair trial because the judge wouldn’t let them submit their own evidence or claims. Their biggest claim is they lost out on their inheritance after Steven Allen emailed Todd Zonis’ parents exposing the alleged affair.

“I mean in my case, it’s $2.5 million, plus the home that I grew up in,” Todd Zonis said. “I mean my parents kept saying we had a great relationship … and all of that was gone. I was trying to contact them. They wanted nothing to do with us.”

“You haven’t heard any of this stuff and there’s a reason, OK?” he continued. “They didn’t want you to. There’s a reason that you weren’t provided with any of this stuff or that it’s not available. That’s why I started my blog, which by the way we get death threats on now.”

“And some of them are very … very personal,” Jennifer Zonis said.

Today, the Allens said they are trying to move forward.

“What I did wasn’t cause to try and ruin our life,” Courtney Allen said. “Those are his [Todd Zonis’] actions. They’re not placed on me. I may have helped with ruining our lives by providing that information but that’s not my fault. It’s him and his actions.”

“We didn’t have a stalker until we had one,” Steven Allen added. “You may think you’re fine now but something [is] going to happen. You’ve put all that stuff on the internet and it could be there for decades.”

Cynthia Hetherington, an expert in internet intelligence who trains military, law enforcement and security professionals, said anyone posting online can make themselves vulnerable.

“Your profile might be set to private. You think you’ve locked yourself down, but now the person you’re commenting about has an open profile. You’ve just opened yourself up,” she said. “All I need is a name and the general area of where you live. And thank you for also putting pictures up there because now I know what you look like … and I’ve totally stolen your identity.”

Hetherington said posting photos and information online, such as pictures of a car, a new home, the kids’ first day at school, a vacation spot or a neighborhood can contain subtle, identifying details that can be used to compromise your privacy and security.

Chances are, she said, your most critical information, such as your address, Social Security number and phone number are already available online. She recommends contacting the major credit reporting agencies and placing a fraud alert on your accounts. This requires them to call you to verify loan or credit applications.

“I’ve watched every major public record vendor admit to a compromise,” Hetherington said. “Everyone in this country has had their information stolen. … It’s just they haven’t used your information yet.”

The Allens feel this ordeal is far from over. They fear that the media attention on their case could possibly make them targets again, but they also want to warn others.

“We think it’s important that people understand what can happen,” Steven Allen said. “You don’t have to be a celebrity, you just have to meet the wrong person. Put your trust in the wrong person. And this can happen.”

And the Zonises have already filed an appeal.

“This is all going to be overturned on appeal,” Todd Zonis said.

Slain police officer who saved a hostage 'died a hero'


A hero French police officer who was killed by an alleged ISIS-inspired terrorist after stepping in for a hostage showed “exceptional courage and sacrifice,” President Emmanuel Macron said.

Interested in France?

Add France as an interest to stay up to date on the latest France news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, 45, volunteered to swap out a woman who was being held captive in a supermarket in Trebes, which is in southern France Friday.

PHOTO: In this image dated March 2013 and provided by regional newspaper Ouest France, Arnaud Beltrame poses for a photo in Avranches, western France.Ouest France via AP
In this image dated March 2013 and provided by regional newspaper Ouest France, Arnaud Beltrame poses for a photo in Avranches, western France.

“By offering himself up as [a] hostage to the terrorist … Beltrame saved the life of a civilian hostage, showing exceptional courage and sacrifice,” the president said in a statement. “In the heat of action, Lt-Col Beltrame showed exceptional cool and illustrated military virtues in a resonating manner, that deserves the respect and admiration of the entire nation.”

Beltrame was at the top of his class at military school, which Macron likened to West Point. He was later deployed to Iraq in 2005 and was decorated by the cross of military valor two years later.

He was also part of the security team at the Elysee Palace for four years, Macron added.

PHOTO: Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame is pictured in this image posted by the Gendarmerie Nationale on its Facebook account, March 24, 2018.Gendarmerie Nationale via AP
Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame is pictured in this image posted by the Gendarmerie Nationale on it’s Facebook account, March 24, 2018.

“Arnaud Beltrame died in the service of the nation, to which he had already contributed so much,” Macron said. “By giving his life to end the murderous rampage of a terrorist jihadist, he died a hero.”

Three other people died in the attack, allegedly carried out by 26-year-old Redouane Lakdi. He was killed after responding police officers — guided by Beltrame’s phone, which he left open so that he could be tracked — stormed the supermarket and shot him.

PHOTO: Police are seen at the scene of a hostage situation in a supermarket in Trebes, France, March 23, 2018, in this picture obtained from a social media video. La Vie a Tribes via Reuters
Police are seen at the scene of a hostage situation in a supermarket in Trebes, France, March 23, 2018, in this picture obtained from a social media video.

ISIS later claimed responsibility in a statement via its Amaq News Agency, saying in Arabic that “a soldier of the Islamic State” carried out the attack in Trebes “in response to calls to target the coalition countries.”

Lakdi had demanded that authorities release Salah Abdeslam, the only living suspect and the alleged mastermind of the 2015 terror attacks in Paris that left 130 dead, according to French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb.

A judicial source told ABC News that investigators found three homemade explosives, a handgun and a hunting knife inside Lakdi’s apartment. Police also found digital files and a note mentioning ISIS that is being looked at as a well.

A source close to the investigation added that a friend of Lakdi, who was born in 2000, was taken into custody.

Meanwhile, President Trump sent his condolences in a tweet, saying “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the horrible attack in France.”

“We grieve the nation’s loss,” he tweeted. “We also condemn the violent actions of the attacker and anyone who would provide him support. We are with you @EmmanuelMacron!”

The woman whom Beltrame swapped out has not been identified. But authorities credit Beltrame with getting her out safely — and perhaps preventing further tragedy.

PHOTO: A picture taken in 2013 in Avranches and obtained from La Gazette de la Manche local newspaper on March 24, 2018 shows French Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame.La Gazette de la Manche/AFP/Getty Images
A picture taken in 2013 in Avranches and obtained from La Gazette de la Manche local newspaper on March 24, 2018 shows French Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame.

“He saved lives,” Macron told reporters Friday.

He called on every French person “to honor his memory.”

Feud fight: Hollywood legend's court battle escalates


One of the last surviving links to the golden age of Hollywood is behind a legal challenge which could changer forever how the entertainment industry tells real-life stories.

Olivia de Havilland, who starred in Gone With The Wind and won two Oscars during a stellar career, is suing the makers of the docudrama Feud over her portrayal as a gossipy narrator played by Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The series tells the story of the notorious rivalry between screen stars Bette David and Joan Crawford and stars Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange.

But de Havilland, who is now 101 and lives in Paris, filed a lawsuit against FX and the show’s producer claiming its portrayal of her, without her permission, violates her right to publicity as celebrity and casts her in a “false light”.

Olivia de Havilland (C) with her sister Joan Fontaine and actor John Payne
Image:
Olivia de Havilland (C) with her sister Joan Fontaine and actor John Payne

During a hearing at the California Court of Appeals this week, discussion centred on a scene in which she is shown calling her sister Jon Fontaine a “bitch”, something her lawyers say she would never have done.

The show’s producers say her portrayal is a positive one and that the case threatens the rights, under the First Amendment of the US Constitution, to freedom of speech for filmmakers. They are backed by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Cases like this are usually speedily dismissed by the courts but the judge has allowed de Havilland’s to proceed, raising alarm in an industry that lives to tell stories on big screen and small.

British born actress, Olivia de Havilland in 1944
Image:
De Havilland successfully sued Hollywood in 1944 over lengthy studio contracts

Law professor Jennifer Rothman, who has written a book on the principle of the right to publicity, was among the lawyers to give evidence at the hearing. She says a victory for de Havilland would have huge implications for the industry.

“It would be a dramatic change. I have tremendous respect for Olivia to Havilland but I think that the allegation here is far more problematic in terms of shutting down speech about public figures and important creative works that I think ultimately she would have liked to appear in when she was actively acting.”

In a letter to the Los Angeles Times, de Havilland wrote: “I have spent a good portion of my life defending the film industry. However, studios, which choose to chronicle the lives of real people, have a legal and moral responsibility to do so with integrity. They have a duty not to steal the value of an actor’s identity for profit.

“I am proud to be the standard bearer for other celebrities, who may not be in a position to speak out for themselves under similar circumstances.”

Actress Olivia de Havilland, 89, two-time Academy Award winner, arrives for the 'Academy Tribute to Olivia de Havilland' at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Beverly Hills June 15, 2006. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES)
Image:
The actress says studios have a duty not to steal the value of an actor’s identity for profit

The actress, who was born to British parents, last sued Hollywood in 1944, securing a win which freed actors from restrictions of lengthy studio contracts.

But screenwriters say a victory in this case would be damaging to the industry.

Liska Ostojic said: “Any filmmaker’s job is trying to distil the essence of a person or a story or a relationship down to an essential truth. In order to do that you have to change how things happened in real life because stories often take much longer in real life then you can fit into a two hour movie.”

The court is due to rule within the next 90 days.

Review: ‘Trust’ Is Flashy but Ephemeral


In “Trust,” where he’s working, if very loosely, from real life and needs to stretch the narrative out to 10 hours, the results are less compelling. The quest to paint a broad portrait of an era comes at the cost of individual emotion and psychological depth.

Photo

Harris Dickinson as John Paul Getty III in “Trust.”

Credit
Oliver Upton/FX

The surface gloss is definitely there, though. Perhaps as a strategy to deal with the expanded length of the TV series — and to keep himself interested — Mr. Boyle, who directed the first three episodes, adopts a different style in each one.

The opener, in which we’re introduced to the extended Getty family and to life at Sutton Place, J. Paul Getty’s English country home, is British crazy-aristocracy comedy. A foursome of jealous, bored girlfriends serves as a chorus commenting on events as Getty frets about who will succeed him in the family oil business, humiliates various offspring and plays the aging satyr, receiving an injection for erectile dysfunction while complaining about his son’s and grandson’s drug use.

The second week, in which the investigation begins of the kidnapping of the grandson, known as Paul (Harris Dickinson), switches to a style reminiscent of a late ’60s-early ’70s caper film. The colors brighten with the move to Rome, the screen frequently splits into three or more sections (shades of “The Thomas Crown Affair”) and the focus shifts to a private investigator played by Brendan Fraser, a big-talking Texan in a 10-gallon white hat.

You know things have morphed right away when Mr. Fraser opens the episode by narrating straight into the camera. And Week 3? It’s titled “La Dolce Vita,” and sure enough there’s some Fellini-style light surrealism and some vivid Bertolucci-style youthful abandon.

If anything ties together the experience of watching “Trust,” it’s this expectation of visual and stylistic novelty from Mr. Boyle. You can track how the soundtrack shifts along with the narrative — the Rolling Stones and David Bowie for British debauchery, spaghetti-western instrumentals for Italian cool. Allusions to English literature — “Lear,” “Tom Jones” — give way to a shot of the mouse puppet Topo Gigio on Italian TV. The tone and substance toggle abruptly among satire, melodrama and morality play.

How this fragmented approach will play out over the full season — and beyond that, across three seasons of what’s planned as an anthology series about the Getty family — is anyone’s guess. It might be worth hanging around to see whether Mr. Sutherland, Mr. Fraser and Hilary Swank, as Paul’s mother, are able to build up their portrayals. And Mr. Dickinson is touchingly callow as Paul (though he registers as significantly older than 16, the age Mr. Getty was when he was kidnapped).

But the show’s appealing performers and catchy look don’t yet outweigh its lack of cohesion and its readiness to fall back on platitudes about the corrosive effects of wealth. “All the Money in the World” was a character study, but so far “Trust” is more of a caricature.

Continue reading the main story

Sex trafficking bill makes Craiglist axe personal ads



Craigslist has dropped personal advertisements after Congress passed a law making websites liable for promoting sex trafficking and prostitution.

The Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) drops legal protection for websites that “unlawfully promote and facilitate prostitution and websites that facilitate traffickers in advertising the sale of unlawful sex acts with sex trafficking victims”.

It also makes website liable for content their users post.

In order to stay above the law, Craigslist has taken the decision to close its personal ads service – ensuring the tool cannot be misused.

A statement from Craigslist said: “We can’t take such risk without jeopardising all our other services, so we are regretfully taking Craigslist personals offline. Hopefully we can bring them back some day.

“To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through Craigslist, we wish you every happiness!”

It was initially thought the missed connections section, which reunites people who met briefly or shared glances, was to be removed too, but Craigslist appears to still be running them.

Reddit has also banned its sex worker sub-reddits, such as its escort pages.

A statement on the website’s policy announcement page read: “As of today, users may not use Reddit to solicit or facilitate any transaction or gift involving certain goods and services, including paid services involving physical sexual contact.”

The decision has been met with anger from many people, including sex workers.

Amber Ashton tweeted: “This is going to hurt the most marginalised struggling workers the hardest and I’m in actual tears about it.

“Time to stratigise how we can help those who will need it most.”

Another Twitter user posted: “If you think this isn’t a move towards shutting down, not only sex workers, but ‘sexual deviant relationships’ of all kinds (queer, interracial, casual sex, non-monogamous, etc) then you are naive, my friend.”

Fortnite is 'the new Pokemon Go'


The multi-player shooting game Fortnite is the latest obsession for teenagers across the world, topping the iTunes charts in 13 countries just hours after its release on mobile last week. 

The game’s global popularity and addictive nature has naturally lead to comparisons with Pokemon Go, which had teenagers glued to their smartphones as it achieved all-time high downloads of 750 million.

Industry experts doubt that Fornite: Battle Royale will achieve anything like that number.

But its success has been staggering, especially as it can only be downloaded by signing up for an invite.

Fortnite, which has topped the UK and US iTunes charts, started-out as a PC and console-only game where it was dubbed the “Call of Duty” for kids.

One hundred users have to shoot each other in a last man standing contest, but its offbeat humour and cartoonish visuals mean it does not depict extreme violence or bloody scenes.

A study claimed Pokemon Go, where users had to walk the streets searching for Pokemon to catch, was responsible for $7.3bn (£5.4bn) in costs across the US in the 148 days after its release.

Pokemon Go researchers attributed much of that figure to accidents they believe were caused by the game, which they also claimed cost the lives of two people.

Fornite is free to download, and like Pokemon Go, seeks to make revenue through in-game purchases, where players can buy their characters different outfits and accessories.

Forbes contributor Paul Tassi believes Fortnite’s set-up means it could generate more revenue than its Pokemon counterpart.

He wrote: “Pokemon Go with its incubators and outfits and lucky eggs has been a terribly monetised game from the start.

“Yes it did a billion plus in revenue easily, but with how big it was, Niantic really only scratched the surface of monetisation, selling stuff that people didn’t want.”

Parents have grown anxious about the addictive nature of Fortnite
Image:
Parents have expressed concern online about the addictive nature of Fortnite

James Batchelor of Gamesindustry.biz said: “Fortnite is the latest game to prove how powerful a free game offering can be.

“The impressive revenues Epic has generated show that people are more than willing to invest in an experience they enjoy.”

Fornite’s rapid success on the iPhone is unlikely to have suprised many in the gaming world, after the PC, Playstation and Xbox versions made a combined $126m (£89m) in revenue in February, according to research company SuperData.

Developers Epic Games are planning to make it available for Android.

Nick Chester, PR manager for Epic Games, said: “There’s a very wide range of Android devices that we want to support.

“We want to make sure Android players have a great experience, so we’re taking more time to get it right.”

The popularity of Fortnite is naturally stirring up anxiety amongst parents, with many reporting their child is “addicted” to the game.

US blogger Amy Selling’s post “how I lost my kids to Fortnite” went viral in February.

She received hundreds of messages from parents who had similar experiences, with one complaining that her son had “changed” since he started playing Fortnite.

It comes amid reports the World Health Organisation is set to include “gaming disorder” in its list of mental conditions in 2018.

The WHO proposes to list it under “disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviours”.

The organisation’s description of the disorder says it is “characterised by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour”.

Nonfiction: Why ‘Tomorrow Will Be Different’ for the Transgender Community


By the time she finds herself arguing before the Delaware legislature, though, both McBride the character and the book’s narrative voice have gained enough confidence to passionately convince their audiences of her lifelong cause. The debate scene comes alive through the specificity of McBride’s prose. She recalls how some Republican lawmakers at first cast trans people as restroom predators, before becoming “more muted” and “almost sheepish” in their opposition after her testimony, unable to fully vilify trans people after interacting with one. As McBride sits in tears on the Senate floor, State Senator Karen Peterson is the only one to comfort her — for Peterson, who is lesbian, recognizes “the indignity of having to plead for your most basic rights,” McBride writes. The scene’s pathos underlines the absurdity of having to debate anyone’s right to a life free from discrimination.

Photo

At the same time, these extended chapters on trans advocacy, teeming with data and policy details, feel shallower than those that develop the star-crossed romance between McBride and the young transgender rights advocate Andrew Cray. From his first appearance in the book, at President Obama’s White House L.G.B.T. reception in 2012, the narrative intermingles the excitement of new love with the anticipation of its loss. “I think we’d get along pretty swimmingly,” Cray messages McBride on Facebook two months after that encounter, his significance in her life already promising to be as noteworthy as his charming use of an adverb.

Cray takes a central role in “Tomorrow Will Be Different” only when a sore on his tongue turns out to be cancer, which later progresses to his lungs. As McBride cares for Cray, his illness seems to dismantle her walls of pragmatism and perfectionism. At one point she breaks down over a malfunctioning suction machine, falling to the floor in tears and shouting, “I can’t do this!” At another, she decides to spend Christmas with her parents instead of Cray, as much as she knows it will hurt him. These flaws — these moments where she appears least noble — are evidence of this exemplary woman’s humanity.

Cray himself also buoys these scenes with his particular blend of stubbornness and charm. He insists on remaining independent from his family through his illness, only to rely on McBride as his caregiver instead. And yet, as the 27-year-old man sits in the tub and asks, “Can you wash my tush?” in a playful acknowledgment of the infantilizing force of his disease, we understand his irreverence, and how McBride fell so deeply in love. This anxiety over death’s cruel interruption of true love permeates her narrative of Cray’s cancer, their wedding and his passing, which McBride narrates vividly and without the self-consciousness that is at times distancing elsewhere in the book.

Meanwhile, trans identity in McBride and Cray’s love story never becomes abstracted from experience. McBride’s identity enables her specific life circumstances, but it cannot be reduced, codified or turned into a statistic like the one that says 41 percent of trans men and women have attempted suicide (a number the book cites more than once). Even if McBride and Cray’s were the only trans relationship ever in which one person ended up a widow because of the other’s cancer, their immediate connection — the authenticity and specificity of their love — is what inspires the greatest compassion for the universal trans experience, in all its nuance and diversity. The book’s strength lies in its portrayal of McBride and Cray as fully realized individuals beyond their transgender identities.

After Cray’s death, however, McBride’s narrative pivots swiftly back to politics without leaving either her or her readers sufficient space to grieve. This is a young woman who has just lost the love of her life at 24. It doesn’t seem quite enough for her to merely add his name, as tribute, to the list of her accomplishments to date, or to merely participate in policies that Cray helped develop. It feels as though the compromises that become routine in McBride’s advocacy — from her willingness to plead with outright bigots for her basic dignity, to her position at the Human Rights Campaign, a mainstream L.G.B.T. organization that has been criticized by the trans community for prioritizing gay marriage over trans rights — equally compromise her ability to give the reader an accurate picture of her own grief, which could have imbued “Tomorrow Will Be Different” with the enduring quality of other memoirs of loss. With a foreword by former Vice President Joe Biden that frames the book as an instructive tome for trans people, parents and the general public, the book is perhaps positioned less as a lasting literary contribution and more as a manual for tolerance that puts its writer in a good position to run for office.

The inconsistencies and contradictions in McBride’s book reflect the difficulty of trying to explain the transgender experience to a predominantly cisgender public. Some trans readers (myself included) may find themselves growing impatient with the author’s frequent quoting of dire statistics, or her Trans-101-style arguments for bathroom equality. Her case is too often predicated on the idea that the value of trans lives is even up for debate.

I gravitate to the parts of McBride’s memoir in which she relies instead on her sincere and singular identity — as a young widow who was raised as a boy surrounded by an environment of relative privilege despite inner turmoil — to continue her fight for justice. I want to believe that readers across the gender spectrum will be moved by the improbable commingling of two trans lives, and for the cruelty of having one of these lives taken away.

And yet, I confess, I’m not so sure. Perhaps a non-trans reader would appreciate McBride’s appeals to sympathy, like her concluding anecdotes about trans kids she’s encountered (when asked what she wants to be when she grows up, 12-year-old Stella declares, “The first trans president!”). But these episodes feel reminiscent of the politician’s well-worn strategy of using other people’s — especially children’s — stories to humanize contentious political and social issues, when McBride’s own life is testament enough to the validity and intensity of these obstacles.

If “Tomorrow Will Be Different” provides a vision for a future of trans equality, I hope it will be one in which the dignity of transgender individuals is not up to cisgender arbiters for approval. Such a future of true equality would breed not only full respect for the trans community, but also more deeply felt memoirs that are uncompromised by the burden of justification.

Continue reading the main story