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Jeff Davis High School band leader’s real story


Lee High School lead drum major Justin Heideman leads the band during a performance at the annual Magic City Classic parade in downtown Birmingham on October 26.

MONTGOMERY, ALA. – It’s dusk and just outside the windows of Room 107 at Jefferson Davis High School in Montgomery, Alabama, the final remnants of the band are leaving practice the same way they came: blaring and filling the now chilled crisp of the December air with the powerful and royal tones of brass.

Justin Heideman, better known as “Vanilla Funk” or “that boy John,” shifts his position in his chair and postures up from a slouch, clutching the ever so familiar mace drum majors wield. There is a calm intensity that covers him as if he is still in front of his band – as if he’s still in control.

That’s because he is.

Justin Heideman, a drum major who went viral recently, leads his Jeff Davis band to the shouts of many adoring fans.

Heideman raises his hand, as if to say, “Hold on one second,” reaches for his iPhone and dials the number of his band director Brandon Howard.

“Can you tell the guys outside to be quiet? They are interrupting what’s going on in here.”    

He hangs up, slouches back, tilts his head toward the tiled ceiling and takes a breath before moving his fingers through his hair against the grain. Now, back in his position of comfort, Heideman focuses in; it’s time for another interview. 

This is his life now, but he hasn’t changed a bit, despite the few who misunderstand who he is and what it took for him to be in the position he is in now.     

This isn’t a game for Heideman. It never has been. 

Music is his passion, and before he went viral in October, a white boy leading an all-black band, Heideman carried out his job as head drum major the same way he does now: with discipline, fervor, an intense desire to learn at all costs and a dedication to uphold the legacy of Jeff Davis drum majors who came before him.



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At UN Climate Summit, Greta Thunberg Lifts Up Science, Blasts World Leaders


MADRID ― At a high-level event Wednesday at the United Nations climate summit, Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg slammed world leaders for “misleading” the public with insufficient emission-reduction pledges and dove into the growing science that shows governments must act quickly to prevent catastrophic warming. 

Thunberg kicked off her speech at the 25th Conference of the Parties, or COP25, by telling world leaders that she wouldn’t have any personal or emotional headline-grabbing one-liners, like when she told world leaders she wanted them to panic.  

“I will not do that, because then those phrases are all that people focus on,” she said. “They don’t remember the facts, the very reason why I say those things in the first place. We no longer have time to leave out the science.” 

Thunberg highlighted numbers from last year’s sobering report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading United Nations consortium of researchers studying human-caused temperature rise. It found that to have a 67% chance of keeping the global temperature from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels ― the aspirational goal of the Paris climate agreement ― the world can only emit 570 gigatons of carbon dioxide. Studies show we are on track to blow past that carbon budget within a decade, and that meeting the 1.5-degree target requires cutting global emissions 7.6% every year from 2020 to 2030. 

“How do you react to these numbers without feeling at least some level of panic?” Thunberg asked a room full of delegates and others gathered at the summit. “How do you respond to the fact that basically nothing is being done about this without feeling the slightest bit of anger?”

CRISTINA QUICLER via Getty Images

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg gives a speech during a high-level event on climate emergency Wednesday during the U.N. climate change conference in Madrid.

Thunberg noted that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of greenhouse gas emissions, and that since the Paris agreement, global banks have invested $1.9 trillion in fossil fuels. She accused political leaders from rich countries of “misleading” people about the crisis and “finding clever ways around having to take real action,” including outsourcing emissions overseas to poorer countries and refusing to compensate vulnerable nations for climate-related damages.

The U.N. climate talks, she said, “have turned into some kind of opportunity for countries to negotiate loopholes and to avoid raising their ambition.” 

She continued:

The biggest danger is not inaction. The real danger is when politicians and CEOs are making it look like real action is happening, when in fact almost nothing is being done, apart from clever accounting and creative PR.

In just three weeks, we will enter a new decade ― a decade that will define our future. Right now we are desperate for any sign of hope. Well I’m telling you there is hope, I’ve seen it. But it does not come for the governments or corporations. It comes from the people. 

Wednesday’s “High-Level Event on Climate Emergency” also included speeches from Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International, and Hilda Flavia Nakabuye, a youth climate activist from Uganda. As the panel discussion came to an end, dozens of young activists from the Fridays for Future movement stormed the stage, where they chanted and staged a sit-in to demand immediate action. 

“We need leadership on climate action, not talks,” an emotional Nakabuye said. “You’ve been negotiating for the last 25 years, even before I was born. Do you want the whole of Africa to first perish before you start acting?”





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Leaders of UK, France, Germany, Turkey discuss Syria



Ahead of the two-day NATO summit in London, four countries discussed their efforts to end the conflict in Syria.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met at the prime ministerial residence in London.

According to a statement from the British Prime Minister’s office, the leaders agreed that attacks against Syrian civilians, including in the rebel-held area of Idlib, must end.

The leaders vowed to work for creating conditions for safe return of refugees, and agreed the fight against terrorism in all its forms must continue. They also discussed Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring targeting the terrorist YPG/PKK in northern Syria. Merkel described the meeting as “good and useful”.

Erdogan also described the meeting as good, and added that developments regarding the operation “will be evaluated”.

In October, Turkey launched Peace Spring to eliminate YPG/PKK terrorists from northern Syria, in order to secure Turkey’s borders and aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees. Later, the operation was paused to allow the withdrawal of the terrorists from the planned Syria safe zone, but they, instead, continued attacking soldiers and civilians.



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Trump calls Trudeau ‘two-faced’ over video that shows world leaders joking about U.S. president


LONDON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other world leaders have been caught on camera apparently talking candidly on Tuesday night about U.S. President Donald Trump,

Hours later, the backlash materialized.

“Well, he’s two-faced,” the president said Wednesday when asked about the video. After a long pause, he added, “He’s a nice guy. I find him to be a very nice guy.”

Trump, who was taking questions from reporters before a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, attributed Trudeau’s frustration to the president’s pressure campaign to increase Canada’s military spending to 2% of its economic output.

“He should be paying more than he’s paying,” Trump said. “I called him out on that and I’m sure he wasn’t happy about it, but that’s the way it is.”

Trump later said on Twitter he would leave the NATO summit early and skip a closing news conference.


Britain’s Princess Royal Anne talks to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a reception on December 3, 2019.

Yui Mok/Pool via REUTERS

At a news conference Wednesday, Trudeau explained he was talking to Macron and Johnson in the video about Trump’s announcement earlier in the day that the next G7 summit in June would be held at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, rather than the Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami.

“Last night, I made a reference to the fact there was an unscheduled press conference before my meeting with president Trump, I was happy to take part in it but it was certainly notable,” Trudeau told reporters.

“We were all surprised and I think pleased to learn that the next G7 will be at Camp David, I think that was an unscheduled announcement and … I think every different leader has teams who every now and then their jaws drop at unscheduled surprises, like that video itself for example,”

Trudeau said he did not believe the video would come back to haunt Canada.

“The relationship with the United States is extremely strong and I have a very good relationship with the president and his team,” he said.


Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, departsafter speaking to reporters at the NATO summit on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019.

Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The video was shot by the British host’s pool camera during a reception at Buckingham Palace held Tuesday night in London, where leaders from NATO’s 29 countries are marking the 70th anniversary of the military alliance with two days of meetings and discussions.

Snippets of the conversation involving Trudeau, Princess Anne, French President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands rose above the din and were captured in the short video.

“Is that why you were late?” a smiling Johnson asks Macron in the 25-second clip.

“He was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top,” Trudeau chimes in.

The leaders do not use Trump’s name, but hours before the reception, Trump had turned what were “expected to be brief photo opportunities” with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Macron and Trudeau into what The Washington Post described as “his own personal daytime cable show”.

In his meeting with Trudeau, Trump questioned the Canadian prime minister about how much his country spends on its own defence. Canada does not meet NATO’s target for member countries to spend 2% of their gross domestic product on their militaries.

“What are you at? What is your number?” Trump asked.


President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greet each other at the NATO summit at the Grove Hotel on December 4, 2019 in Watford, England.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Trudeau tried to evade answering directly, saying: “The number we talk about is a 70% increase over these past years. We are increasing significantly our defence spending from previous governments that cut it.”

But Trump followed up. “Okay, where are you now, in terms of your number?”

After some discussion with an aide, Trudeau answered: “1.4.”

Trump said on Wednesday that he had called out Trudeau for failing to meet the 2% target for national output on defence.

By early Wednesday, the Tuesday video had been watched nearly 5 million times.

Others quickly noticed that a member of the royal family was also involved in the exchange, identifying Princess Anne, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, by her distinctive hair.

Earlier in the evening, Anne was seen in another viral video appearing to shrug off a “scolding” from the Queen for not joining the royal receiving line to greet the president and first lady.

Trump on Tuesday did not publicly address the Trudeau video, only tweeting early Wednesday morning that he “enjoyed” his post-reception meeting with Johnson at 10 Downing Street, where the pair “talked about numerous subjects including @NATO and Trade.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

The Canadian Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

By Tuesday afternoon, Johnson claimed at a news conference that he had not been party to any discussion about Trump.

“That’s complete nonsense, and I don’t know where that has come from,” he said. “I really don’t know what is being referred to there.”

When Trudeau arrived at the summit early Wednesday, he walked briskly by reporters and did not answer shouted questions regarding his remarks allegedly about Trump.

Later, as leaders sat down for their meeting, Trudeau could be seen going over to Trump and shaking his hand politely. The two men said something quickly to each other, then Trudeau walked away.

The video had prompted concerns about how the mercurial U.S. president would react.

“By this point in his tenure, the prime minister should realize that events with pool cameras need to be approached and managed as on-the-record events,” Andrew MacDougall, former director of communications for prime minister Stephen Harper, wrote on Twitter.

“Hopefully this gaffe doesn’t wind the president up at a sensitive time for NAFTA and the Meng (Wanzhou)/Huawei file.”

Trump has long bridled at the idea of other world leaders poking fun at the United States.

“The world is laughing at us,” he said frequently during his 2016 presidential campaign, criticizing the leadership of President Barack Obama.

In June 2017, when he announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, Trump said that “we don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us any more. And they won’t be. They won’t be.”

In 2018, after laughter broke out at the United Nations General Assembly when Trump claimed his administration had “accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” the president insisted that he was not the target.

“They weren’t laughing at me, they were laughing with me,” he said.

While Trudeau has spent much of the past three years trying to establish a good relationship with Trump, the U.S. president has not shied away from lashing out any perceived slight from fellow world leaders.

The U.S. president also previously attacked Trudeau following the G7 summit in Quebec City in June 2018, describing the latter as “so meek and mild” amid a trade row over Canadian dairy and American tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.

Chris Rands, a producer at the CBC’s Parliamentary news bureau in Ottawa, said he had first unearthed the video while searching for images of Trudeau in footage from Buckingham Palace.

Rands added that based on his listening, Trudeau was discussing Trump’s surprise announcement that a Group of 7 summit meeting next June would be held at CampDavid rather than the Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami.

Meanwhile, social media was flooded with reactions.

Some viewers were shocked to witness the leaders seeming to act like “mean girls,” as one person put it.

“Oh my God,” a Twitter user wrote. “This is quite something,” another person opined.

With files from The Canadian Press, Washington Post, New York Times and Bloomberg News






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Leaders debate climate change on Channel 4 but Boris and Farage give it a miss – The Sun


BORIS RUMBLE AS CORBYN FUMBLES

ALL eyes will be on Boris Johnson today after the Tories’ explosive row with Channel 4.

The PM and Nigel Farage were replaced by ice sculptures in last night’s climate debate.

The Conservatives called that a “provocative, partisan stunt” and accused the broadcaster of bias in an official complaint to the watchdog Ofcom.

Senior Tory Michael Gove offered to stand in for the leader and was filmed arriving at the studio only to be turned away.

Channel 4 News editor Ben de Pear said Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon refused to let him join them in what was billed as a leaders’ debate.

During the discussion, LibDem leader Jo Swinson was forced to defend her air travel to and from her constituency in Scotland – blaming “Victorian trains”.

And Mr Corbyn was challenged about his party’s failure to commit to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Earlier yesterday the Labour leader appeared to forget where he was, saying how much he loved Dorset during a speech in Hampshire.

He also stumbled over the number of trees he pledged to plant as PM, and forgot the name of protest group Extinction Rebellion – calling them “the climate extinction people”.

He has no campaign stops planned today and will also swerve the BBC’s seven-way Question Time debate – which Mr Johnson will also shun.





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