NEW YORK (AP) — Hours before Puff Daddy hit the stage for an all-star concert featuring his Bad Boy family, Jay Z and Mary J. Blige, he could not contain his excitement.
He kissed Lil Kim on the cheek and embraced her warmly. He jumped up and down as he described their upcoming tour, and he compared his team to “the hip-hop version of Kiss and the Rolling Stones wrapped up in one.”
“He’s in the spirit,” said rapper French Montana, sitting behind Sean Combs and Lil Kim, and next to Mase. All of them matched in denim and various shades of blue.
Combs’ energy reached a new height when he hit the stage Friday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The show, ending roughly at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, was a rock star-like adventure that looked to past hits like “It’s All About the Benjamins” and “I’ll Be Missing You” that dominated pop and urban radio in the 1990s and 2000s, and helped make Combs a powerhouse in the music — and entertainment — industry.
Former members of the Bad Boy Records family — groups like 112, The Lox and Total; singers Faith Evans, Carl Thomas, Mario Winans and Cassie; and rappers Mase, Lil Cease and Black Rob — joined forces to perform hits for feverish fans who stood most of the night, and sang along to all of the songs. The night hit new levels with guest appearances from Jay Z, Blige, Nas, Usher, Rick Ross and Busta Rhymes.
Combs spoke at length onstage about his relationships with acts like Jay Z, Blige and Usher, and thanked them for being part of the special night.
“This is extended family. You been there with me through my ups and downs. Whenever I get in trouble, this is the one I call. This (is) my strategist right here. This (is) my brother,” he said next to Jay Z, who earned the night’s loudest applause.
But behind Jay Z was Lil Kim. She strutted onstage in a tight white ensemble while dancing and rapping familiar songs like “No Time” and “Quiet Storm (Remix).”
In an interview with The Associated Press early Friday, Combs said there’s no drama surrounding his former band mates.
“Everybody thinks because when we got back together, we’re calling it the family reunion tour, that there was some sort of problem. No. It was just that we were doing our own things, growing and evolving, having kids, moving, … finding God, doing other thing. So when I made the call with the idea, everybody said yes immediately. There’s been no issues,” he said. “We gon’ grow old together.”
Lil Kim described it as “a spiritual thing.”
“I just feel like this is all happening for a reason,” she said. “It’s like we never left, if you ask me. This is something we love doing.”
The group will perform a second show Saturday night at Barclays. The “Bad Boy Family Reunion” tour will begin Aug. 25 in Columbus, Ohio.
The weekend concerts also paid homage to the late Notorious B.I.G, whose 44th birthday would have been Saturday. Music videos of the Brooklyn icon’s hits played in the background, and at the end of the concert, a cake was brought onstage to celebrate his legacy.
“It’s so important to keep that going because that’s the origin of Bad Boy,” Mase said of Notorious B.I.G in the interview. “Without him there’s none of us. He set the way for all of us. He’s the reason we’re here.”
Lil Kim added: “Facts.”
NEW DELHI (AP) — Authorities in a parched western Indian state sprinkled water in the streets and awaited the arrival of a special water train on Saturday, a day after temperatures reached a record-high 51 degrees Celsius (124 Fahrenheit).
Several hospitals in the desert state of Rajasthan, which has been hit worst by a heat wave that has spread to many parts of India, have set aside beds to treat heatstroke victims. Television video Saturday showed heatstroke patients being wheeled in on stretchers, with paramedics covering them with ice packs and pouring water on them.
The main summer months in India — April, May and June — are always excruciatingly hot across most of the country, before monsoon rains bring cooler temperatures.
In Rajasthan on Saturday, municipal workers sprinkled water in residential areas of the city of Bikaner and a train filled with 2.5 million liters (660,000 gallons) of water headed toward the town of Bhilwara.
Indian media reported 16 deaths in Rajasthan, where nearly 17,000 villages in 19 of 33 districts were facing water shortages.
The India Meteorological Department said that maximum temperatures will likely fall by 2-3 degrees Celsius (4-6 degrees Fahrenheit) in Rajasthan next week. But no significant change is expected in northern India.
The blistering heat also is sweeping across large parts of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, with six deaths reported there in the past month.
On Thursday, the city of Philodi in Rajasthan state suffered through the country’s highest recorded temperature — 51 C (124 F). India’s meteorological department said the previous high was 50.6 C (123 F), reached in 1956 in the city of Alwar, also in Rajasthan.
Heatstroke has claimed 109 lives in southern Andhra Pradesh state, where pre-monsoon showers have broken the hot spell, a state government statement said.
The intense heat wave in western Gujarat state has claimed 17 lives this month, with temperatures touching 48 C (118 F).
Officials have shut schools in several states, including Rajasthan, New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, to protect children from the heat wave.
Authorities have issued a list of precautions, urging people to stay indoors, shun unnecessary travel in the sun, increase intake of water and seek medical attention if they feel the symptoms of heatstroke.
Authorities issued a severe heat wave alert for the weekend in Gujarat, Rajasthan and parts of the central state of Madhya Pradesh. That means the areas can expect temperatures of at least 47 C (117 F).
The monsoon normally hits southern India in the first week of June and covers the rest of the nation within a month. It is especially eagerly awaited this year because several parts of the country are reeling under a drought brought on by two years of weak rains.
BANGKOK (AP) — Doctors in Thailand have operated on 88-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, to remove excess fluid that was putting pressure on his brain and spinal cord.
The doctors used a tube previously placed in the king’s abdomen to drain the fluids in a 75-minute procedure Friday evening, according to a statement issued by the Royal Household Bureau. The statement described the result as satisfactory, and said the doctors advised drainage on the basis of an X-ray taken after they observed muscle spasms on the king’s face.
Bhumibol, who has been on the throne since 1946, has been hospitalized for much of the past decade with a stroke and other ailments, more or less withdrawing from public life. He has used a wheelchair on his rare forays out of his suite at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital, and recent television video did not show him speaking. He last left the hospital in January, for a brief private visit to his Bangkok palace.
The king’s health is a matter of deep public concern because of uncertainty about how smoothly a succession to his 63-year-old son Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn can be managed.
Last August, Bhumibol was treated for the same illness, sometimes called “water on the brain.” It was reported then that his condition had stabilized.
Friday’s statement indicated that the king had been diagnosed with the condition on May 2. However, a health bulletin from the palace on May 14 mentioned only other ailments, including fever, an infection of his right lung and an inflamed knee. It indicated that several symptoms were easing in response to treatment.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Donald Trump on Friday slammed Hillary Clinton as “heartless” for backing restrictions on gun ownership that he said would leave Americans in high-crime areas unable to protect themselves. He also challenged Clinton to follow his lead and release a list of potential Supreme Court nominees.
Trump’s remarks came at the National Rifle Association convention in Louisville, Kentucky. The gun rights organization endorsed the presumptive Republican nominee ahead of his remarks, despite Trump’s previous support for measures like an assault weapons ban that the NRA vigorously opposes.
The businessman has taken a far less restrictive stance on guns during the Republican presidential primary. His call for ending “gun-free zones” across the country was enthusiastically welcomed by the NRA crowd.
Trump centered his remarks on Clinton, claiming she would seek to “abolish” the Second Amendment through the Supreme Court and release violent criminals if elected president. He also called her “Heartless Hillary” — a new nickname from the branding expert for the likely Democratic nominee — for backing restrictions aimed at reducing gun deaths, saying her proposals would instead leave law-abiding citizens exposed to criminals.
“She’s putting the most vulnerable Americans in jeopardy,” Trump said. He added that women in particular would be at risk, a nod to what he’s said will be a security-focused appeal to women in the general election.
Trump heads into the fall campaign with stunningly high disapproval ratings with women. The supremely confident Trump appeared to acknowledge that weakness, saying that while his poll numbers with men are strong, “I like women more than men.”
“Come on women, come on,” he said.
Clinton’s campaign called Trump’s gun policies “radical and dangerous.” Senior policy adviser Maya Harris said Clinton believes “there are common-sense steps we can take at the federal level to keep guns out of the hands of criminals while respecting the Second Amendment.”
Among the measures Clinton supports are expanding background checks to sales at gun shows and online purchases, and reinstating a ban on assault weapons.
Trump backed an assault weapons ban, as well as slightly longer waiting periods for gun purchases, in a 2000 book. He’s since said such bans don’t work and has also called for making it easier for law-abiding citizens to carry guns for self-protection.
On Friday, he reiterated his call for ending “gun-free zones” and touted the list of potential Supreme Court nominees he released this week as a sign of his commitment to upholding the Second Amendment.
“I’d like to call for Hillary Clinton to put together a list also,” said Trump, predicting her potential justices would be a “day and night” difference with his. He also said he expects the next president to appoint between three and five justices to the high court.
NRA leaders were blistering in their condemnation of Clinton, accusing her of threatening Americans’ freedom and being driven by personal greed. During one speech, an NRA leader briefly played a video showing Clinton barking like dog.
The organization’s leaders were less robust in their endorsement of Trump, mentioning him by name only briefly and saying little about his record on guns. They appeared to acknowledge there may be some reluctance among their members to backing the real estate mogul.
Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, said that for those who preferred other candidates to Trump, “It’s time to get over it.”
Since the early primary states, Trump used his sons, Eric and Donald Jr., both avid hunters and outdoorsmen, to connect with the gun community and counteract their father’s image as an elite Manhattanite. The pair have visited numerous gun ranges and gone on several hunting trips, often inviting the media along to document their skills.
He turned to his sons again Friday as he opened his remarks to NRA members, noting their long association with the group.
“They have so many rifles, so many guns that even I get a little concerned,” he added.
AP writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.
Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC
WASHINGTON (AP) — A group the White House recently identified as a key surrogate in selling the Iran nuclear deal gave National Public Radio $100,000 last year to help it report on the pact and related issues, according to the group’s annual report. It also funded reporters and partnerships with other news outlets.
The Ploughshares Fund’s mission is to “build a safe, secure world by developing and investing in initiatives to reduce and ultimately eliminate the world’s nuclear stockpiles,” one that dovetails with President Barack Obama’s arms control efforts. But its behind-the-scenes role advocating for the Iran agreement got more attention this month after a candid profile of Ben Rhodes, one of the president’s top foreign policy aides.
In The New York Times Magazine article, Rhodes explained how the administration worked with nongovernmental organizations, proliferation experts and even friendly reporters to build support for the seven-nation accord that curtailed Iran’s nuclear activity and softened international financial penalties on Tehran.
“We created an echo chamber,” said Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, adding that “outside groups like Ploughshares” helped carry out the administration’s message effectively.
The magazine piece revived Republican criticism of the Iran agreement as they suggested it was evidence of a White House spin machine misleading the American people. The administration accused opponents of trying to re-litigate the deal after failing to defeat it in congressional votes last year.
Outside groups of all stripes are increasingly giving money to news organizations for special projects or general news coverage. Most news organizations, including The Associated Press, have strict rules governing whom they can accept money from and how to protect journalistic independence.
Ploughshares’ backing is more unusual, given its prominent role in the rancorous, partisan debate over the Iran deal.
The Ploughshares grant to NPR supported “national security reporting that emphasizes the themes of U.S. nuclear weapons policy and budgets, Iran’s nuclear program, international nuclear security topics and U.S. policy toward nuclear security,” according to Ploughshares’ 2015 annual report, recently published online.
“It is common practice for foundations to fund media coverage of underreported stories,” Ploughshares spokeswoman Jennifer Abrahamson said. Funding “does not influence the editorial content of their coverage in any way, nor would we want it to.”
Ploughshares has funded NPR’s coverage of national security since 2005, the radio network said. Ploughshares reports show at least $700,000 in funding over that time. All grant descriptions since 2010 specifically mention Iran.
“It’s a valued partnership, without any conditions from Ploughshares on our specific reporting, beyond the broad issues of national and nuclear security, nuclear policy, and nonproliferation,” NPR said in an emailed statement. “As with all support received, we have a rigorous editorial firewall process in place to ensure our coverage is independent and is not influenced by funders or special interests.”
Republican lawmakers will have concerns nonetheless, especially as Congress supplies NPR with a small portion of its funding. Just this week, the GOP-controlled House Oversight Committee tried to summon Rhodes to a hearing entitled “White House Narratives on the Iran Nuclear Deal,” but he refused.
Ploughshares’ links to media are “tremendously troubling,” said Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, an Iran-deal critic.
Pompeo told the AP he repeatedly asked NPR to be interviewed last year as a counterweight to a Democratic supporter of the agreement, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who he said regularly appeared on the station. But NPR refused to put Pompeo on the air, he said. The station said it had no record of Pompeo’s requests, and listed several prominent Republicans who were featured speaking about the deal or economic sanctions on Iran.
Another who appeared on NPR is Joseph Cirincione, Ploughshares’ president. He spoke about the negotiations on air at least twice last year. The station identified Ploughshares as an NPR funder one of those times; the other time, it didn’t.
Ploughshares boasts of helping to secure the deal. While success was “driven by the fearless leadership of the Obama administration and supporters in Congress,” board chairwoman Mary Lloyd Estrin wrote in the annual report, “less known is the absolutely critical role that civil society played in tipping the scales towards this extraordinary policy victory.”
The 33-page document lists the groups that Ploughshares funded last year to advance its nonproliferation agenda.
The Arms Control Association got $282,500; the Brookings Institution, $225,000; and the Atlantic Council, $182,500. They received money for Iran-related analysis, briefings and media outreach, and non-Iran nuclear work.
Other groups, less directly defined by their independent nuclear expertise, also secured grants.
J-Street, the liberal Jewish political action group, received $576,500 to advocate for the deal. More than $281,000 went to the National Iranian American Council.
Princeton University got $70,000 to support former Iranian ambassador and nuclear spokesman Seyed Hossein Mousavian’s “analysis, publications and policymaker engagement on the range of elements involved with the negotiated settlement of Iran’s nuclear program.”
Ploughshares has set its sights on other media organizations, too.
In a “Cultural Strategy Report” on its website, the group outlined a broader objective of “ensuring regular and accurate coverage of nuclear issues in reputable and strategic media outlets” such as The Guardian, Salon, the Huffington Post or Pro Publica.
Previous efforts failed to generate enough coverage, it noted. These included “funding of reporters at The Nation and Mother Jones and a partnership with The Center for Public Integrity to create a national security desk.” It suggested using “web videos, podcasts, photo-based stories” and other “attention-grabbing formats” for “creatively reframing the issue.”
The Center for Public Integrity’s CEO, Peter Bale, confirmed the grant.
“None of the funding received by Ploughshares was for coverage of the Iran deal,” said Bale, whose company received $70,000. “In general, we avoided that subject because the topic did not lend itself to the type of investigative reporting the Center does.”
Caitlin Graf, a spokeswoman at The Nation, said her outlet had no partnership with Ploughshares. She referred queries to The Nation Institute, a nonprofit associated with the magazine that seeks to strengthen the independent press and advance social justice. Taya Kitman, the institute’s director, said Ploughshares’ one-year grant supported reporting on U.S.-Iran policy, but strict editorial control was maintained.
Mother Jones’ media department didn’t respond to several messages seeking comment.
The AP has taken grants from nonpolitical groups and journalism foundations such as the Knight Foundation. As with all grants, “AP retains complete editorial control of the final news product, which must fully meet AP standards for independence and integrity,” Standards Editor Thomas Kent said.
Before there was “Halo” or “Call of Duty,” the first-person shooter video games “Wolfenstein” and “Doom” defined the trigger-happy genre in three dimensions. While the former received a thoughtful reimagining in 2014’s “Wolfenstein: The New Order,” the same can’t be said for a new “Doom.”
“Doom” (Bethesda Softworks, for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, $59.99) sticks closely to the wacky plot of the original 1993 game. Once again, players portray an unnamed space marine crudely blasting his way across Mars, where hellish demons of all shapes and sizes are pouring out of gaping interdimensional holes.
It’s best not to think too much about the story.
This is a game about shooting everything that moves until everything doesn’t move. There are no moral quandaries, battlefield allies, brain-teasing puzzles or interactive cut scenes. This updated “Doom” may have the high-definition polish of a modern-day shooter, but it’s unapologetically rooted in the 1990s.
All the weapons a die-hard “Doom” devotee could desire are present. There’s the rocket launcher, super shotgun, chainsaw and — of course — the BFG. (If you’ve never played a “Doom” game, it’s the series’ signature weapon: a really big gun.)
Other than allowing players to upgrade their arsenal and armor, the only innovation on the point-and-shoot approach is a new melee combat system that makes this already gory franchise even more violent. Now, players can recharge themselves by initiating a “glory kill” when adjacent beasts are near death.
While hardcore shooter fans may balk at needing to holster their weapons to snap a succubus’ neck or rip off a devil’s horns, frequent and fast dismemberment is key to keeping the action frenetic and the health bar filled. It’s not any more monotonous than repeatedly shooting zombified hordes in the head.
It’s sorta grotesquely thrilling, actually.
The game’s levels are well laid out and filled with fun secrets to discover between firefights. Alas, they’re not that interesting to look at once your finger is off the trigger button. There’s little variation, and they all sport color palettes that one might find inside a bathroom stall at a dive bar.
The soullessness extends to the soundtrack, which sounds like it was crafted by someone holding out hope for a Korn reunion. “Doom” composer Mick Gordon’s score is a hot mess: a disjointed mix of industrial guitar riffs bordering on parody when joined with the guttural grunts from hell spawn.
Beyond the single-player campaign, a multiplayer mode feels more like a “Quake” clone than the latest from a series that pioneered the way gamers play together online. The exceptions are the promising “snapmap” level creation tool and the compelling “freeze tag,” where teams must simultaneously work together to encase opposition in ice and thaw out friends.
Overall, “Doom” isn’t a bad game. This revamped installment definitely captures the frenzied, bloodthirsty spirit of what made id Software’s original “Doom” and “Doom II” hallmarks of the genre. It’s a heck of a shooter. Unfortunately, it’s also stuck in the past. Two stars out of four.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/derrik-j-lang .