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Giant bong, huggable buds: Marijuana museum opens in Vegas

A glass bong taller than a giraffe. Huggable faux marijuana buds. A pool full of foam weed nuggets.

Las Vegas' newest attraction — and Instagram backdrop — is a museum celebrating all things cannabis.

Nobody will be allowed to light up at Cannabition when it opens Thursday because of a Nevada ban on public consumption of marijuana, but visitors can learn about the drug as they snap photos.

It's a made-for-social-media museum where every exhibit has lights meant to ensure people take selfies worthy of the no-filter hashtag.

The facility — whose founder says has a goal of destigmatizing marijuana use — will likely land among the talking points officials and others use to try to draw gambling-resistant millennials to Sin City.

It will welcome its first visitors almost 15 months after adults in Nevada began buying recreational marijuana legally, with sales far exceeding state projections.

"Our goal when people come out of this is that they don't fear the cannabis industry if they are not believers in the industry," founder J.J. Walker told The Associated Press. "Cannabition is not about just serving people that like marijuana, it's about serving the masses that want to learn about cannabis and or just have fun and go do a cool art experience."

Guests will wander through 12 installations with rooms like "seed," where people can lie down in a bed shaped like a marijuana seed, and "grow," which features artificial plants in sizes ranging from inches to feet tall placed under bright lights to represent an indoor cannabis grow facility.

Photo ops are also available under a glow-in-the-dark tree, next to a giant marijuana leaf meant to represent an edible gummy and by a 24-foot-tall (7-meter-tall) glass bong that's dubbed "Bongzilla" and billed as the world's largest.

There is a space with taller-than-you faux buds representing different strains and another room with gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson's famous "Red Shark" Chevrolet Caprice.

This museum in Las Vegas' downtown entertainment district is not the Smithsonian of marijuana, but it has some educational components. Guests get an introduction from museum guides and some graphics on walls explain how concentrates are made and the differences between indica and sativa cannabis strains.

Museums always evolve with the times to remain relevant, and audience engagement is an important goal for the facilities today, said Gwen Chanzit, director of museum studies in art history at the University of Denver. For those who remember very traditional, no-photography-allowed museums, she said, "that ship has sailed."

"Once cellphones became ubiquitous, the culture of museum visiting changed," Chanzit said.

Many of the facility's exhibits are sponsored by cannabis companies, with their logos prominently displayed. It is common for museums to receive the support of corporations and to place their logo on a wall.

Only adults 21 and older will be allowed at Cannabition. The tour is designed to last up to an hour.

Walker, the founder, has invited reality TV stars, models and other influencers to Las Vegas for the weekend with the charge of spreading the word about the facility.

As for those who buy a ticket but their Instagram followers are only in the dozens or hundreds, Walker said, "you're still an influencer to your friends."

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Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO

KISS announces 'End of the Road' farewell tour

We’ve heard this song before, but it seems genuine that KISS’ upcoming “End of the Road World Tour” will be exactly that.

The band announced the decision to pack up the pyro after a performance on Wednesday’s finale of “America’s Got Talent.”

"All that we have built and all that we have conquered over the past four decades could never have happened without the millions of people worldwide who've filled clubs, arenas and stadiums over those years. This will be the ultimate celebration for those who've seen us and a last chance for those who haven't. KISS Army, we're saying goodbye on our final tour with our biggest show yet and we'll go out the same way we came in... Unapologetic and Unstoppable," the band said in a statement.

>> Read more trending news 

KISS hasn’t yet announced dates for this final run, but will update fans in the next few weeks on www.kissonline.com

In 2000-01, KISS embarked on “The Farewell Tour,” which, in fairness, turned out to be the final tour with the original lineup of Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. But the band returned in 2003 for a co-headlining tour with Aerosmith and has remained steady road warriors.

The band’s current members are Stanley, Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer.

Read more here.

Judge dismisses harassment charge against Liev Schreiber

A suburban New York judge has dismissed charges against Liev Schreiber for allegedly attacking a local photographer while the actor was filming the popular Showtime series "Ray Donovan."

The 50-year-old has been hit with a harassment violation after photographer Sherwood Martinelli claimed Schreiber damaged his camera when he tried to photograph him on June 7.

The Journal News reports that a Nyack (NEYE'-ak) village judge on Wednesday dismissed the charges.

At an earlier court appearance, Schreiber said he "never touched" the photographer and he that was just very angry.

Martinelli said Wednesday he is "greatly disappointed" in the judge's decision.

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Information from: The Journal News, http://www.lohud.com

Florence shows how storm coverage is politicized

Donald Trump Jr.'s attack tweet this week showing CNN's Anderson Cooper waist-deep in flood waters has driven home the point that politics — not just weather — was an important subtext of the media's coverage of Hurricane Florence.

"Stop lying to make @realDonaldTrump look bad," the president's son admonished Cooper, triggering a harsh response from the CNN journalist, who was part of his network's team covering Florence's landfall in North Carolina.

"I didn't see him down in North Carolina in the last few days helping out, lending a hand, but I'm sure he was busy doing something important besides just tweeting lies," Cooper said on his show Monday.

Ever since President George W. Bush's administration was crippled by its response to Hurricane Katrina, politicians and news organizations have been acutely aware of the stakes raised by big storms. Some Republicans never forgave former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for being photographed with President Barack Obama after Sandy struck just before the 2012 election.

"A storm and responding to it the right way can make or break a political career," said Gary Lackmann, a professor of atmospheric science at North Carolina State University.

Florence formed in the Atlantic just as President Donald Trump's response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico returned to the news with a revised estimate that nearly 3,000 people died in that storm and its aftermath. Since Trump vigorously disputed the report, calling his administration's response "an incredible, unsung success," it led some media figures to question whether he would be responsive to Florence.

Three days before Florence struck, the Washington Post editorialized that Trump was complicit in damage caused by extreme weather. "He plays down humans' role in increasing the risks, and he continues to dismantle efforts to address those risks," the newspaper said.

That drew a predictably fierce response from the president's defenders.

"The left will not skip any single moment to condemn this president," said Pete Hegseth on the Fox Business Network. "In this case, it's a hurricane."

When a news organization infuses hurricane coverage with political infighting, it sends a message to people in the path of a dangerous storm that its reporters don't necessarily care about them, said Gabriel Williams, a professor of atmospheric physics at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

"It's unnecessary," Williams said. "It defeats the purpose. It distracts from what you actually want to happen, which is to get people prepared for the storm."

With a hurricane bearing down, "politicos think 'this is going to be the dominant story this week. How can we get our spin into this?'" said Tim Graham, director of media analysis for the Media Research Center.

A natural disaster "should be a time when we should all be Americans," and put such differences aside, he said.

Still, the conservative media watchdog that Graham works for was not above getting its own licks in, criticizing Sunday morning network hosts, who it said "harangued" federal disaster relief officials with questions about Trump's response to Hurricane Maria. It also attacked MSNBC's Katy Tur for introducing the issue of climate change to Florence coverage.

And it reposted an infamous decade-old video of an NBC News reporter covering a hurricane from a rowboat, as a wider view captured men nearby sloshing through water that barely topped their ankles.

The Weather Channel's Mike Seidel similarly became a meme victim during Florence for video that depicted him struggling to stay vertical in the storm's winds, while men walked behind him seemingly unbothered; his network said Seidel had a hard time keeping his footing because he was on wet grass.

For the people who spread the videos, the idea is to undermine reporters covering the story, to depict them as people more interested in seeking attention than in keeping viewers informed about what's going on.

That was the thinking behind Trump Jr.'s tweet of the Cooper photo. It showed him in water much deeper than his own camera technician, who stood a few feet away in water that didn't reach his knees.

On Monday, Cooper said the picture wasn't even from his Florence coverage, but rather from the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in Texas in 2008. He said he was trying to stay off a road where the water was shallower to not get in people's way, and to convey that there was still a lot of deep water creating dangerous situations.

Climate change and its impact on hurricanes is a third-rail topic for media covering the storms. Many conservatives get mad when it's brought up at all, while liberals believe it is not discussed enough.

In the days before Florence struck, four scientists posted a study they said illustrated how forecasts of the storm's intensity were worse than what a similarly situated hurricane would have been in the days before climate change.

It got some media attention, but apparently none among the cable news networks that spent several days in near-constant coverage of Florence's approach, said Kevin Reed, a professor at Stony Brook University in New York and one of the authors. He said it's important to discuss the impact of climate change during extreme weather events because that's when the public is focused on it.

But North Carolina State's Lackmann said that releasing such information before the storm makes landfall is "pushing it."

It's better to wait until after the storm when data could be closely studied, particularly since Florence's wind intensity dropped off from what was predicted, said Lackmann, noting that early indications show that hurricanes may be less frequent in a time of climate change but the strong storms are even stronger.

While the storm is bearing down, climate change is "not the most important thing people should be thinking about," Williams said.

Arthur Mitchell, pioneering black ballet dancer, dies at 84

Arthur Mitchell, who broke barriers for African-Americans in the 1950s as a ballet dancer with the New York City Ballet and who would go on to become a driving force in the creation of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, has died. He was 84.

Mitchell died Wednesday at a New York City hospital according to his niece, Juli Mills-Ross. She said the death came after renal failure led to heart failure.

Born in Harlem, Mitchell started dancing with the New York City Ballet in 1955 under famed choreographer George Balanchine.

Balanchine put him in several leading roles, including one pairing him with a white female dancer in "Agon" in 1957.

In a January interview with The New York Times, Mitchell recalled the daring of that choice.

"Can you imagine the audacity to take an African-American and Diana Adams, the essence and purity of Caucasian dance, and to put them together on the stage?" he said.

In 1968, impacted by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Mitchell started a dance school that grew the next year to include the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Anna Glass, the executive director of the Dance Theater, told The Associated Press that Mitchell "truly was a visionary."

"He believed in a world where all people could have access to this beautiful art form," she said. "He really sought to ensure that all people saw themselves in" ballet.

Among those recognizing his impact following his death was Misty Copeland, the first African-American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre.

In a post on Instagram, she wrote, "You gave me so much, through our conversations, your dancing and by simply existing as a brown body in ballet. But you were so much more than a brown body. You're an icon and hero."

Choreographer and television producer Debbie Allen tweeted, "The world has lost another visionary" with Mitchell's death.

"Arthur Mitchell claimed ballet as an American art form," she said. "His legacy lives through all of us."

Mitchell was born in 1934, and grew up with four siblings. He started formal dance training in high school, and upon graduating, took the offer of a ballet scholarship with the School of American Ballet, founded by Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein.

His dancing years also included choreographing his own works, performing on Broadway, and working with dance companies in other countries. The Dance Theatre of Harlem performed internationally and has been artistically acclaimed even as it went through some periods of financial upheaval. He stepped down as director almost a decade ago.

Glass said Mitchell had most recently spent time at the company last month, during a two-week residency in which he restaged one of his older ballets to be performed next April as the company marks its 50th anniversary.

"This was a moment that all of us were looking forward to," Glass said. "I know we will miss him tremendously."

Ryan Coogler to produce LeBron James' 'Space Jam 2'

"Black Panther" director Ryan Coogler is joining LeBron James and the "Space Jam 2" team.

James' production company SpringHill Entertainment tweeted Wednesday that Coogler will produce the sequel to the 1996 movie that featured Michael Jordan alongside Warner Bros.' animated characters.

"Random Acts of Flyness" creator Terence Nance will direct James, and Bugs Bunny, in the film.

According to The Hollywood Reporter which first reported the news, production is tentatively slated to being in 2019 during the NBA off season.

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This story correct spelling of Coogler's name in the second paragraph.

Judge throws out lawsuit by ex-wrestlers over concussions

A federal judge in Connecticut has dismissed a lawsuit by 60 former professional wrestlers, many of them stars in the 1980s and 1990s, who claimed World Wrestling Entertainment failed to protect them from repeated head trauma including concussions that led to long-term brain damage.

U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant in Hartford threw out the lawsuit Monday, saying many of the claims were frivolous or filed after the statute of limitations expired. Stamford-based WWE denied the lawsuit's allegations.

Bryant also criticized the wrestlers' lawyer, Konstantine Kyros, based in Hingham, Massachusetts, for repeatedly failing to comply with court rules and orders and ordered him to pay WWE's legal fees, which could total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Kyros strongly disagreed with Bryant's ruling and vowed to appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. He said the allegations were not frivolous and Bryant was wrong about the claims being filed too late, because many wrestlers' ailments — including dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE — were diagnosed years after they left the ring or after they died.

"I stand for professional wrestlers who face the prospect of losing their identity and consciousness to the effects of a latent occupational disease that robs them of their sanity, comfort of their families and memories of everything they achieved entertaining the millions of people who love them," Kyros wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Among the plaintiffs were Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Joseph "Road Warrior Animal" Laurinaitis, Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff, Chris "King Kong Bundy" Pallies and Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara, known as Mr. Fuji. Snuka and Fujiwara died in 2017 and 2016, respectively, and were diagnosed with CTE after their deaths, Kyros said. Other plaintiffs have dementia and other illnesses.

The lawsuit, which also named WWE chairman Vince McMahon as a defendant, said the organization knew the risks of head injuries but didn't warn the wrestlers. Bryant, however, said there was no evidence that WWE knew that concussions or head blows during wrestling matches caused CTE.

Unlike other sports including football and hockey where players have suffered similar injuries, WWE matches involve specific moves scripted and choreographed by the WWE — thus making the company directly responsible for wrestlers' injuries, the lawsuit said.

The National Football League and National Hockey League were also sued by former players who suffered concussions and other head injuries. The NFL settled for $1 billion, while the suit against the NHL is pending.

Judge partly dismisses Ashley Judd lawsuit against Weinstein

A federal judge has thrown out part of a lawsuit Ashley Judd filed against Harvey Weinstein that alleges he deliberately derailed her career when she turned him down sexually.

U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez on Wednesday dismissed the sexual harassment allegation in the lawsuit, ruling that the California law Judd was suing under does not apply to the professional relationship she and the movie mogul had at the time.

Gutierrez gave Judd a month to amend and attempt to revive that section of the lawsuit, which her lawyer Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. says they intend to do.

The judge kept alive Judd's defamation claim against Weinstein, which alleges he falsely called her a "nightmare" to work with.

Weinstein's attorney Phyllis Kupferstein didn't immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

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This story corrects the spelling of Judge Philip S. Gutierrez's first name.

Judge nixes Cosby request to step down; sentencing Monday

Days before sentencing, Bill Cosby's trial judge denied a defense motion to step down from the sex assault case because of what Cosby's team called a long-ago grudge with a pretrial witness.

Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill has seen the case through two trials, hard-fought pretrial hearings and 15 defense lawyers since Cosby's arrest on Dec. 30, 2015.

Cosby's two-day sentencing hearing is set to start Monday. A jury this spring convicted him of drugging and molesting a woman friend at his home in 2004. The actor, now 81 and legally blind, faces a guideline sentence of about one to four years, but O'Neill can choose anything from probation to a 30-year prison term.

Camille Cosby filed a state ethics complaint this week accusing O'Neill of bias against her husband because of what she called his feud with a former prosecutor who testified in an early 2016 pretrial hearing. O'Neill had competed against the witness, Bruce Castor, for a political post years ago.

"The fact that this court sought a party nomination for the office of District Attorney nearly 20 years ago is a fact of public record that could easily be uncovered in the exercise of due diligence by no less than 15 attorneys (and their private investigators)," O'Neill wrote in an opinion issued Wednesday, noting that Castor has litigated cases in his court for years.

"No 'grudge,' animus, bias or prejudice can be claimed because it simply does not exist," the judge wrote.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele opposed the defense motion.

Houston Texans players rip superintendent for ‘you can’t count on a black quarterback’ post 

Houston Texans football coach Bill O’Brien and several players criticized a Facebook post made by a Texas school superintendent after the team’s 27-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, that read in part, “you can’t count on a black quarterback,” the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday.

>> Read more trending news 

Lynn Redden, the superintendent of the Onalaska Independent School District, apparently was reacting to the final play of Sunday’s game, when Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson held on to the football as time ran out.

The incident occurred Monday, when the Chronicle posted a meme about the play.

Matt Erickson, of Houston, commented that he never watches the "perpetual dumpster fire that is the Houston Texans," KTRK reported.

Redden, who is white, then replied in a public post, “That may have been the most inept quarterback decision I've seen in the NFL. When you need precision decision making you can't count on a black quarterback."

The Chronicle obtained a screenshot of the comment, the newspaper reported.

At his Wednesday news conference, O’Brien criticized the comments.

"I don't want to waste any time responding to ignorant, idiotic statements," O’Brien said. "Deshaun represents everything that's right about football and life. It's amazing that BS exists, but it does."

At the same news conference, Watson said he had experienced racism before but did not comment about the superintendent’s post.

"That's on him – let peace be with him," Watson said. "I'm all about love."

Texans defensive star J.J. Watt said the post “does not deserve any attention from any of us.”

“It's a very ignorant comment that doesn't deserve any more play,” Watt said. “It's very unfortunate. I trust (Watson). We all trust him."

Redden told the Chronicle in a telephone interview that he regretted making the post, which has been deleted, and thought he was responding to a private message. He told the newspaper he deleted the comment as soon as he realized it was public. He said that he was referring to the statistical success of black NFL quarterbacks, adding that they "have had limited success" throughout the league's history, the Chronicle reported.

The Onalaska ISD school board will discuss Redden's contract during a closed meeting Saturday, the Chronicle reported. In a statement to KPRC, the school board said that it “does not condone negative comments or actions against any race.”

"The district values every individual and therefore the district will take the appropriate measures to address the situation expeditiously and completely," the statement read.

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