May 19, 2022

Obama Cancels 60th Big Birthday Bash, will Celebrate Only with Family and Close Friends; Selena Gomez Slams “Tasteless” Joke on Referencing Her Kidney Transplant; Jason Momoa Shuts Down “Icky” Question During a New York Times Interview; Simone Biles was in Foster Care Before Becoming America’s Most Decorated Gymnast; Mistaken Identity Sends Man to be Locked Up in Hawaii Mental Hospital for Two Years

Obama Cancels 60th Big Birthday Bash and will Celebrate Only with Family and Close Friends

Former President Barack Obama, who turns 60 on Wednesday, will be celebrating only with family and close friends. He has significantly scaled back his planned 60th birthday party on Martha’s Vineyard this weekend because of fears about the highly transmissible Delta strain of COVID-19, according to his spokesperson.

The former President’s birthday party was initially set to be held outside and to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) public health regulations, including guest testing and the presence of a COVID-19 safety coordinator, a source told CNN earlier this week.

The event was scheduled to attract over 400 visitors, including celebrities and former Obama administration officials, as well as approximately 200 hired personnel.

“This outdoor event was planned months ago in accordance with all public health guidelines and with COVID-19 safeguards in place,” Hannah Hankins, a spokeswoman for Obama, said in a statement Wednesday provided to CNN. “Due to the new spread of the delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends.”

Hankins continued that “President Obama is appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon.”

The New York Times, which broke the news of Obama’s massive guest list for Wednesday’s party, stated that several visitors were already on their way to Massachusetts island.

The CDC has identified Martha’s Vineyard, in Dukes County, as a “moderate” COVID-19 community spread area, and Massachusetts has a high immunization rate. Late this month, the Martha’s Vineyard Boards of health issued an indoor mask warning in compliance with new CDC guidance.

Obama appeared to be pressing ahead with his plans to invite visitors at his 29-acre island retreat, despite objections from some conservatives.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary who formerly worked in President Barack Obama’s administration, defended the former President’s party on Monday, arguing at a press conference that his crew followed various safety standards.

Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters Tuesday that such an event is “not a good idea” and that if he had been asked to Obama’s birthday party, he would have declined.

Selena Gomez Slams “Tasteless” Joke on ‘The Good Fight’ Referencing Her Kidney Transplant

Selena Gomez and her followers have condemned a recent episode of ‘The Good Fight’ for making a reference to the former Disney star’s kidney transplant.

In the fifth season’s fourth episode, a comedy television executive (Wayne Brady) asks Liz (Audra McDonald) to prepare a sensitivity read for one of his comedians. The scene continues with Marissa (Sarah Steele), Jay (Nyambi Nyambi), and Jim (Ifadansi Rashad) discussing the consequences of cancel culture on comedy.

Jay inquires as to what topics are off-limits, to which the group responds with necrophilia, autism, and “Selena Gomez’s kidney transplant.”

Following the reaction to the episode, which included followers tweeting “Respect Selena Gomez,” Gomez addressed the issue on social media.

Selena Gomez
I am not sure how writing jokes about organ transplants for television shows has become a thing, but sadly it has apparently. I hope in the next writer’s room, when one of these tasteless jokes are presented, it’s called out immediately and doesn’t make it on air.

Gomez expressed gratitude to her supporters for defending her.

“My fans are always on my side. “I LOVE YOU,” she concluded before including a link to register as an organ donor.

According to a source connected to the show, “If you watch the episode in full, the reference to Gomez is part of a discussion the characters are having about topics that are not okay to make fun of and the idea of cancel culture and being canceled for telling a bad joke. The reference is that her transplant is not something you can joke about.”

The issue comes only months after Peacock’s revival of Saved by the Bell was chastised for committing the same offense last year. Peacock has since apologized for making light of Gomez’s health difficulties and pledged to donate to The Selena Gomez Fund at USC for Lupus Research.

Gomez had undergone a kidney transplant in 2017 as a result of her continuous struggle with lupus, an autoimmune disease she was diagnosed in 2011.

Jason Momoa Shuts Down “Icky” Question on His ‘Game of Thrones’ Role During a New York Times Interview

Jason Momoa’s interview with David Marchese of The New York Times soured after the actor was asked if he regretted portraying a sexual assault scene during his time on “Game of Thrones.”

The scene in question is from the premiere episode of “Game of Thrones,” in which an arranged marriage between Momoa’s Khal Drogo and Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen culminates in a brutal rape sequence.

When asked if he regretted the scene or thought “differently today about those sequences,” Momoa responded, “Well, it was important to depict Drogo and his style. You’re playing someone that’s like Genghis Khan. It was a really, really, really hard thing to do. But my job was to play something like that, and it’s not a nice thing, and it’s what that character was. It’s not my job to go, ‘Would I not do it?'”

He continued, “I’ve never really been questioned about ‘Do you regret playing a role?’ We’ll put it this way: I already did it. Not doing it again.”

Momoa, on the other hand, began to disengage from the interview following this question, providing mostly brief, closed responses to Marchese’s subsequent questions. When asked if he was “able to articulate” his vision for the “Aquaman” franchise, which he leads, Momoa said: “No.”

Later in the interview, Marchese asked Momoa if he had any particularly fond memories from his time touring the world in the 1990s, to which Momoa said, “Not really for you. Or for the world.”

Marchese attempted to conclude the conversation shortly afterward when Momoa interjected and chastised his prior question regarding “Game of Thrones.”

“I wanted to bring something up that left a bad feeling in my stomach,” he began. “When you brought up ‘Game of Thrones,’ you brought up stuff about what’s happening with my character and would I do it again. I was bummed when you asked me that.”

“It just feels icky — putting it upon me to remove something. As if an actor even had the choice to do that. We’re not really allowed to do anything. There are producers, there are writers, there are directors, and you don’t get to come in and be like, ‘I’m not going do that because this isn’t kosher right now and not right in the political climate.’ That never happens. So it’s a question that feels icky. I just wanted you to know that.”

The New York Times and Momoa did not reply promptly to Insider’s request for additional comment.

Simone Biles was in Foster Care Before Becoming America’s Most Decorated Gymnast

Simone Biles boldly returned for Tuesday’s balancing beam final after withdrawing from last week’s women’s gymnastics team to focus on her mental health. And the 24-year-old displayed true courage by winning bronze and defying the doubters.

“We have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do,” she explained after withdrawing from the floor competition. Later that day, she resorted to Twitter to express her discomfort with ‘twisting,’ a condition that impairs a gymnast’s spatial awareness.

In the span of her career, she has won four gold medals and set a record for the US for most gold medals in women’s gymnastics at a single Game. Ironically, her worst event was the balance beam, where she earned a bronze.

However, it was not an easy road for America’s most decorated gymnast from the outset.

Biles was born in 1997 in Columbus, Ohio, to Shanon. She was sent to foster care when she was three years old due to her mother’s drug habit.

When she was six years old, Biles and her younger sister were adopted by her maternal grandfather Ron Biles and his second wife Nellie Cayetano, and the family relocated to Houston, Texas.

Biles discussed how being adopted provided her with a second chance at life.

“Being separated from my biological mom, being placed in foster care before I officially got adopted by my grandparents, it just set me up for a better route at life,” she revealed on her Facebook Watch series, Simone Vs. Herself.

“And I feel like I wouldn’t be where I am unless that turning point happened. I would still be Simone Biles, probably not Simone Biles that everybody else knows, the world knows. But I also believe everything happens for a reason, and I’m forever grateful for that because I definitely got a second shot at life.”

She and fellow gymnast Stacey Ervin Jr. dated for three years until they ended their relationship in 2020. Then she moved on in the same year, to date NFL player Jonathan Owens. The couple now lives together in Houston, Texas, with their dogs.

Mistaken Identity Sends Man to be Locked Up in Hawaii Mental Hospital for Two Years

Hawaii officials wrongfully arrested a homeless man for a crime committed by another, locked him up in a state hospital for more than two years, coerced him into taking psychiatric drugs, and then attempted to cover up the error by quietly releasing him with only 50 cents to his name, the Hawaii Innocence Project claimed in a court document pleading.

A petition filed in court Monday night seeks a judge to vacate Joshua Spriestersbach’s arrest and correct his records. The complaint details his unusual ordeal, which began when he fell asleep on a sidewalk. He was homeless and hungry on a scorching day in 2017 while waiting in line for meals outside a Honolulu shelter.

When a police officer woke him, he believed he was being detained for violating the city’s prohibition on sitting or lying down on public walkways. However, he was unaware that the police had mistaken him for a man called Thomas Castleberry, who was wanted for breaking probation in a 2006 narcotics case.

Spriestersbach acquired the alias Castleberry even though he never claimed to be Castleberry, according to the Hawaii Innocence Project.

According to Spriestersbach’s counsel, the matter might have been resolved easily by comparing the two men’s pictures and fingerprints. Rather, he was committed in the Hawaii State Hospital, despite Spriestersbach’s claims that he was not Castleberry.

“Yet, the more Mr. Spriestersbach vocalized his innocence by asserting that he is not Mr. Castleberry, the more he was declared delusional and psychotic by the H.S.H. staff and doctors and heavily medicated,” the petition said.

Nobody believed him until a hospital psychiatrist finally listened.

According to the court record, it took only a few Google searches and phone calls to establish that Spriestersbach was on another island at the time Castleberry was detained.

The psychiatrist summoned a detective, who verified fingerprints and photographs to determine that the wrong man had been arrested and Spriestersbach had been institutionalized for two years and eight months, noting that it was not difficult to determine that the real Castleberry has been imprisoned in an Alaska prison since 2016.

Spriestersbach, 50, who now resides in Vermont with his sister, declined to comment for this article.

Vedanta Griffith, his sister, spent nearly 16 years looking for him. Following his release, he wound up at a homeless shelter, where his family was contacted. Spriestersbach has since refused to leave his sister’s property.

“He’s so afraid that they’re going to take him again,” Griffith said.