Chicago’s iconic ‘Bean’ sculpture reopens to tourists after nearly a year of construction

Chicago — One of Chicago’s most popular tourist attractions known as “The Bean” reopened to the public Sunday after nearly a year of renovations and construction.

Construction started in August last year, and fencing around the iconic sculpture limited closeup access to visitors. The work on the plaza surrounding the sculpture included new stairs, accessible ramps and a waterproofing system, according to the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

The bean-shaped sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor is formally known as “Cloud Gate” and weighs 110 tons (99.8 metric tons).

It’s a busy tourist hub near Michigan Avenue, particularly for selfies with its reflective surface inspired by liquid mercury. Views of skyscrapers and crowds are reflected on the Millennium Park sculpture.

“Visitors can once again have full access to Chicago’s iconic Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor,” city officials said in a Sunday statement. “Come back and get your #selfie!”

‘Inside Out 2’ scores $100M in its 2nd weekend, setting records

New York — Weekend number two was just as joyous for “Inside Out 2.” 

The Pixar sequel collected $100 million in ticket sales in its second weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday, setting a record for an animated movie in its follow-up frame in theaters. The previous best second weekend for an animated title was the $92 million for “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” Only six movies ever have had better second weekends.

In just a week and a half, “Inside Out 2” has become 2024’s highest-grossing film to date with $724.4 million globally, including $355.2 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters. That passes the $711.8 million worldwide total of “Dune: Part Two.” “Inside Out 2” will likely blow through the $1 billion mark in about a week, which would make it the first film since “Barbie” to do so.

The extent of the “Inside Out 2” success startled Hollywood, which had grown accustomed to lower expectations as the film industry watched ticket sales this year slump about 40% below pre-pandemic totals, according to data firm Comscore, before “Inside Out 2” came along.

The record haul for “Inside Out 2,” though, recalled past years when $1 billion grosses were more commonplace for the Walt Disney Co. It is also a much-needed blockbuster for Pixar, which after experimenting with direct-to-streaming releases, reconsidered its movie pipeline and approach to mass-audience appeal.

Now, “Inside Out 2,” which dipped a mere 35% from its $154 million domestic debut, is poised to challenge “The Incredibles 2” ($1.2 billion) for the all-time top grossing Pixar release. It could also steer the venerated animation factory toward more sequels. Among its upcoming films is “Toy Story 5,” due out in 2026.

For theater owners, “Inside Out 2” could hardly have been more needed. But it also reminded exhibitors of how feast-or-famine the movie business has become in recent years. Since the pandemic, movies like “Barbie,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Top Gun: Maverick” have pushed ticket sales to record heights, but fallow periods in between box-office sensations have grown longer. Ticket sales over Memorial Day last month were the worst in three decades.

Some of 2024’s downturn can be attributed to release-schedule juggling caused by last year’s writers and actors strikes. The biggest new release over the weekend was Jeff Nichols’ motorcycle gang drama “The Bikeriders,” a film originally slated to open in 2023 before the actors’ strike prompted its postponement.

“The Bikeriders,” starring Jodie Comer, Austin Butler and Tom Hardy, came in on the high side of expectations with $10 million from 2,642 venues in its opening weekend. “The Bikeriders,” which cost about $35 million to produce, was originally to be released by Disney before New Regency took it to Focus Features last fall.

The strong business for “Inside Out 2” appeared to raise ticket sales generally. Sony Pictures’ “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” held well in its third week of release, collecting $18.8 million. It remained in second place. The “Bad Boys” sequel, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, has grossed $146.9 million domestically thus far.

Next week, the sci-fi horror prequel “A Quiet Place: Day One” and Kevin Costner’s Western epic “Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1″ will hope some of the “Inside Out 2” success rubs off on them.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday. 

  1. “Inside Out 2,” $100 million. 

  2. “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” $18.8 million. 

  3. “The Bikeriders,” $10 million. 

  4. “The Garfield Movie, $3.6 million. 

  5. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” $3.6 million. 

  6. “If,” $2.8 million. 

  7. “The Exorcism,” $2.4 million. 

  8. “Thelma,” $2.2 million. 

  9. “The Watchers,” $1.9 million. 

  10. “Ghost: Rite Here Rite Now,” $1.5 million. 

India makes 196 and beats Bangladesh by 50 at Twenty20 World Cup

NORTH SOUND, Antigua — Hardik Pandya blasted Bangladesh with a 27-ball half-century and Kuldeep Yadav’s three wickets finished off India’s win at the Twenty20 World Cup on Saturday.

Pandya struck four boundaries and three sixes in an unbeaten 50 to lead India to 196-5.

Yadav then took 3-19 in four overs to limit Bangladesh to 146-8.

India moved to the top of Group 1 in the Super Eight with two wins from two matches. Afghanistan moved to two points after it beat Australia by 21 runs later Saturday, but stay behind Australia in third place on net run rate. Bangladesh remained winless.

Put into bat, India started quick as captain Rohit Sharma scored 23 off 11 balls. Virat Kohli added 37 off 28, hitting three sixes. The duo put on 39 off 22 balls for India’s best opening stand in the tournament.

Sharma was caught in the fourth over off Shakib al Hasan, while Kohli put on another 32 off 27 balls with Rishabh Pant for the second wicket.

Tanzim Hasan Sakib struck twice in the ninth over, getting Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav for 6 as India slumped to 77-3.

But Rishabh Pant anchored one end with 36 off 24, including four fours and two sixes, putting on 31 off 19 balls with Shivam Dube.

Despite Pant’s dismissal in the 12th over, Dube’s prowess against spin came in handy — he hit three sixes, scoring 34 off 24 balls.

But it was Pandya who took charge in the death overs. India scored 62 runs in the last five overs.

Pandya was named player of the match.

“We have played some really good cricket (to win five straight games),” he said. “We have executed our plans well, but as a group we can still improve. We sometimes lose wickets in a bunch, but apart from that things are looking good.”

Bangladesh’s reply made a steady start. Openers Litton Das (13) and Tanzid Hasan (29) added 35 off 27 until Pandya got the breakthrough in the fifth over.

The Tigers were at 66-2 in the 10th over and scoring slower. The chase unravelled when Yadav came on to bowl. He trapped Hasan lbw, and dismissed Towhid Hridoy for 4 and claimed the big wicket of Shakib for 11.

Bangladesh lost three wickets for 32 runs across 24 balls and didn’t recover.

Pace bowlers Jasprit Bumrah (2-13) and Arshdeep Singh (2-30) helped to seal India’s fifth win over Bangladesh in the T20 World Cup.

Afghanistan stuns Australia

Afghanistan kept its Twenty20 World Cup semifinal hopes alive by stunning previously unbeaten Australia by 21 runs in a thrilling encounter at St. Vincent later on Saturday.

Despite a second successive hat-trick by Australian bowler Pat Cummins, Afghanistan posted 148-6 after being asked to bat first on a tricky pitch at the Arnos Vale Ground.

Afghanistan pair Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran put on 118 for the highest opening partnership against Australia in a T20 match before Australia’s bowlers rallied late, including Cummins’ second career hat-trick — just two days after his first.

Australia then stumbled with the bat and were all out for 127, with only Glenn Maxwell (59 off 41 balls) coming to grips with the superb Afghanistan bowling attack and the deteriorating wicket.

Man of the match Guldabin Naib took four wickets in an inspired spell in the middle overs to stall Australia’s chase before Azmatullah Omarzai had final wicket Adam Zampa caught in the deep in the final over to complete a stunning win amid jubilant celebrations among the Afghan players and team management.

The victory moves Afghanistan to two points in Group 1 and level with Australia, but behind on net run rate. India leads the group on four points, with Bangladesh bottom on zero points but still with a chance of qualifying for the semifinals.

The final group standings will be decided on Monday when Afghanistan plays Bangladesh at St. Vincent and Australia play India Monday at St. Lucia.

Iran’s top court overturns rapper Salehi’s death sentence, lawyer says

Tehran, Iran — Iran’s Supreme Court has overturned a death sentence against popular rapper Toomaj Salehi, who was jailed for backing nationwide protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death, his lawyer said Saturday.

“Salehi’s death sentence was overturned,” the rapper’s lawyer, Amir Raisian, said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, adding that the Islamic republic’s top court had ordered a retrial.

In April, an Iranian court sentenced Salehi to death for the capital offence of “corruption on earth,” Raisian said at the time.

The rapper was also found guilty of “assistance in sedition, assembly and collusion, propaganda against the state and calling for riots,” the lawyer said.

Salehi, 33, was arrested in October 2022 after publicly backing demonstrations that had erupted a month earlier, triggered by Amini’s death in police custody. Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, was detained by the morality police in Tehran over an alleged breach of the Islamic republic’s strict dress rules for women.

“The Supreme Court prevented an irreparable judicial error,” Raisian said, adding that the court also ruled that Salehi’s “previous sentence (six years and three months) was also without compliance with the rules of a multiplicity of crimes.”

The monthslong protests sparked by Amini’s death saw hundreds of people killed, including dozens of security personnel.

Thousands were arrested as authorities moved to quell what they branded foreign-instigated “riots.”

In January, Mehdi Yarrahi, another singer who criticized the headscarf requirement for women, was sentenced to a total of two years and eight months in prison on multiple charges, which would have been served concurrently. The court later changed Yarrahi’s sentence to home confinement due to his health issues.

Nine men have been executed in protest-related cases involving killings and other violence against security forces.

Covering the neck and head has been compulsory for women in Iran since 1983, following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Since the protests, women have been increasingly flouting the strict dress code, but Iranian police have in recent months toughened controls on women who ignore the rules.

Iranian media has in recent weeks reported that police in the capital have launched a campaign codenamed “Noor,” the Persian word for “light,” in their efforts to double down on those who break the dress code.

In an effort to tackle those breaking hijab laws, the authorities have also shut down cafes and restaurants where the wearing of the hijab was not respected.

The country’s parliament has also approved a draft “Chastity and Hijab” law that seeks to toughen penalties on women not adhering to the dress rules.

Some Olympic teams will bring their own AC units to Paris, undercutting environmental plan

EUGENE, Oregon — The U.S. Olympic team is one of a handful that will supply air conditioners for their athletes at the Paris Games in a move that undercuts organizers’ plans to cut carbon emissions. 

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic CEO Sarah Hirshland said Friday that while the U.S. team appreciates efforts aimed at sustainability, the federation would be supplying AC units for what is typically the largest contingent of athletes at the Summer Games. 

“As you can imagine, this is a period of time in which consistency and predictability is critical for Team USA’s performance,” Hirshland said. “In our conversations with athletes, this was a very high priority and something that the athletes felt was a critical component in their performance capability.” 

The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Germany, Australia, Italy, Canada and Britain were among the other countries with plans to bring air conditioners to France. 

Olympic organizers have touted plans to cool rooms in the Athletes Village, which will house more than 15,000 Olympians and sports officials over the course of the games, using a system of cooling pipes underneath the floors. 

The average high in Paris on August 1 is 26 degrees Celsius. The objective is to keep the rooms between 23-26 degrees. The rooms will also be equipped with fans. 

“I want the Paris Games to be exemplary from an environmental point of view,” Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has said about the plans for the Olympics. 

According to the International Energy Agency, fewer than 1 in 10 households in Europe has air conditioning, and the numbers in Paris are lower than that. The study said that of the 1.6 billion AC units in use across the globe in 2016, more than half were in China (570 million) and the United States (375 million). The entire European Union had around 100 million. 

The Olympics mark the most important stop on the athletic careers of the 10,500-plus athletes who will descend on Paris, which has led some high-profile countries to undercut environmental efforts for the sake of comfort. 

“It’s a high-performance environment,” Australian Olympic Committee spokesman Strath Gordon explained to the Post. 


South Africa unbeaten at T20 World Cup after win over England

GROS ISLET, St. Lucia — Undefeated South Africa pulled off a seven-run win over defending champion England in the Super Eight playoffs at the Twenty20 World Cup on Friday.

Harry Brook, who made 53, and Liam Livingstone, with 33 off 17 balls, had the chase in control for England with 25 needed off 18 balls until fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje dismissed them in the last three overs.

Later, Shai Hope hit 82 from 39 balls as the West Indies beat the United States by nine wickets in a match between co-hosts. Hope struck eight sixes as the West Indies ran down their winning target of 129 with more than nine overs to spare.

England was restricted to 156-6 in reply to South Africa’s 163-6.

“Getting to those last three overs, the odds looked heavily against you,” South Africa captain Aiden Markram said. “But the bowlers came back, it shows a lot of skill and shows the fight inside.”

Quinton de Kock finished with 65 as he smacked the tournament’s joint-fastest half-century off 22 balls, and David Miller provided the impetus in the latter half of South Africa’s innings with 43 off 28.

South Africa’s win streak was extended to six games and it is a firm favorite for the semifinals after two wins in two matches in its group.

England suffered its first loss in the Super Eight after it beat the West Indies by eight wickets at the same venue.

Earlier, de Kock dominated South Africa’s powerplay and had them motoring along at 63-0 before England pulled them back through spinners Adil Rashid (1-20) and Moeen Ali (1-25).

De Kock put fast bowler Jofra Archer on the mat early with two successive sixes in a 21-run over. De Kock was given a life on 58 when video replays suggested Mark Wood’s fingers were not underneath the catch. The decision left England players fuming.

Hope the new star as West Indies beat US

At Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies fans partied under the Friday night lights as new team addition Shai Hope launched a spectacular display of power-hitting to put the West Indies’ campaign back on track with its nine-wicket win over the U.S.

He finished the chase with a six from the fifth ball of the 11th over. Along with his eight sixes, he hit four fours.

After a loss to England in their first Super Eight match, the West Indies had to win to stay in semifinal contention. The United States surprised the cricket world by beating powerhouse Pakistan on the way to the Super Eight playoffs but after losses to South Africa and the West Indies in the playoff stage now cannot reach the final four.

Roston Chase took a career-best 3-19 and Andre Russell 3-31 as the West Indies limited the United States to 128 in 19.5 overs after winning the toss.

“This is my favorite place to play cricket,” Chase said. “I’m from Barbados so I grew up playing a lot of cricket here. It’s our destiny and our goal to go out there and win this World Cup.”

Hope was added to the West Indies’ lineup for Friday’s match as an injury replacement for Brandon King who was ruled out with a side strain.

The United States began well and despite the loss of Steven Taylor in the second over, reached a healthy 48-1 after the six-over power play. But from then on regular wicket falls prevented them gaining momentum.

Chase, especially, put brakes on the scoring. He bowled captain Aaron Jones for 11 in the 10th over, then removed Corey Anderson and Harmeet Singh with consecutive balls in the 14th over.

Hope powered the West Indies run chase, hitting 42 from 23 balls in the power play after which the West Indies were 58 without loss.

“A tough night for the boys,” Jones said. “Against the West Indies we needed a target of 175 or 180 and obviously we didn’t get that.”

India beats Afghanistan at T20 World Cup

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — Fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah took three wickets for just seven runs as India beat Afghanistan by 47 runs in their Super Eight match at the Twenty20 World Cup on Thursday.

Later, Pat Cummins took the first hat-trick of the tournament as Australia beat Bangladesh by 28 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis system due to rain delays.

Bumrah’s four-over spell was aided by Arshdeep Singh, who finished with 3-36. Spinners Kuldeep Yadav (2-32) and Axar Patel (1-15) shared three wickets as Afghanistan was bowled out for 134 runs.

Suryakumar Yadav scored 53 off 28 balls — his fifth T20 World Cup half-century — as India reached 181-8 in 20 overs after deciding to bat.

Yadav, named player of the match, hit three sixes and five fours, while Hardik Pandya scored 32 off 24 balls, including two sixes.

“I am clear in my mind how I want to bat,” Yadav said. “There’s a lot of hard work, process and routine involved in it. You just need to know your game plan and just play accordingly. In the end, we were happy with 180.”

On a slow-paced Barbados wicket, India had made a sluggish start. Skipper Rohit Sharma was out caught for eight, while star batter Virat Kohli only managed run-a-ball 24.

Rishabh Pant, batting at three, provided some acceleration — he scored 20 off 11 balls with four fours.

Afghanistan skipper and wrist spinner Rashid Khan did damage to India’s top order, dismissing both Kohli and Pant, the latter out lbw. It was the first time Khan picked up wickets against India in T20s.

India was down to 62-3 in 8.3 overs, when Yadav played a rescuing hand. He added 28 of 14 balls with Shivam Dube (10) and then the match-turning 60 runs with Pandya.

Yadav’s stand with Pandya came off only 37 balls as India scored 102 runs off the final 10 overs.

Rashid Khan finished with 3-26 in four overs.

Afghanistan’s chase got off to a poor start against Bumrah — he sent back both openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz (11) and Haratullah Zazai (2) cheaply.

In between, Axar Patel struck in the fourth over as Ibrahim Zadran was out for eight, and Afghanistan slipped to 23-3 in 4.1 overs.

Ravindra Jadeja had 1-20 in three overs. Afghanistan lost its last five wickets for 32 runs across 28 deliveries as India crossed the finish line with ease.

Australia beats BangladeshAt North Sound, Antigua, Cummins claimed the first hat-trick of the tournament as Australia beat Bangladesh by 28 runs after rain delays forced the result to go to the the Duckworth-Lewis system.

Cummins dismissed Mahmdullah and Mahedi Hasan with the last two balls of the 18th over and Towhid Hridoy with the first ball of the 20th as Australia restricted Bangladesh to 140-8.

Australia was 100-2 when heavy rain set in after 11.2 overs, well ahead of the winning score it needed at the time. The umpires finally called off the match around 12.30 a.m. local time.

Cummins was the seventh player to complete a hat-trick — three wickets with three balls — at a Twenty20 World Cup and the second Australian after Brett Lee who achieved the feat, also against Bangladesh, in 2007.

“I had no idea,” Cummins said. “At the end of the over I saw it come up on the screen so I thought I’ll make sure I remember but I totally forgot about it. I had a few (hat-tricks) in juniors but never for Australia.”

David Warner and Travis Head then shared a 65-run opening partnership in 6.5 overs to set up Australia’s run chase. Head was out for 31 but Warner went on to make a half century from 34 balls. He finished 53 not out.

Mitchell Starc bowled Tanzid Hasan with the third ball of the match after Australia sent Bangladesh in and Bangladesh struggled to create momentum, hampered by regular wicket falls.

Captain Najmul Hossain Shanto made 41 from 36 ball and shared a half century partnership from 42 balls with Litton Das (16). But after the second-wicket pair were separated with the total was 58-2 in the ninth over, Bangladesh struggled to create partnerships.

Adam Zampa dismissed both Litton Das and Shanto, bowling Das with a ball that snuck under the bat and cannoned off the back leg onto the stumps. Shanto knelt to sweep a ball which skidded on a hit on the knee roll in front of middle.

Zampa also took a catch from Glenn Maxwell’s bowling to remove Rishad Hossain who had been promoted in the order to hurry the scoring but managed only two runs from four balls.

Donald Sutherland, ‘M.A.S.H.’ and ‘Hunger Games’ actor, dies at 88

NEW YORK — Donald Sutherland, the prolific film and television actor whose long career stretched from “M.A.S.H.” to “The Hunger Games,” has died. He was 88.

Kiefer Sutherland, the actor’s son, confirmed his father’s death Thursday. No further details were immediately available.

“I personally think one of the most important actors in the history of film,” Kiefer Sutherland said on X. “Never daunted by a role, good, bad or ugly. He loved what he did and did what he loved, and one can never ask for more than that.”

The tall and gaunt Canadian actor with a grin that could be sweet or diabolical was known for offbeat characters such as Hawkeye Piece in Robert Altman’s “M.A.S.H.,” the hippie tank commander in “Kelly’s Heroes” and the stoned professor in “Animal House.”

Before transitioning into a long career as a respected character actor, Sutherland epitomized the unpredictable, antiestablishment cinema of the 1970s.

Over the decades, Sutherland showed his range in more buttoned-down — but still eccentric — parts in Robert Redford’s “Ordinary People” and Oliver Stone’s “JFK.”

More recently, he starred in the “Hunger Games” films and the HBO limited series “The Undoing.” He never retired and worked regularly up until his death.

“I love to work. I passionately love to work,” Sutherland told Charlie Rose in 1998. “I love to feel my hand fit into the glove of some other character. I feel a huge freedom — time stops for me. I’m not as crazy as I used to be, but I’m still a little crazy.”

He received an honorary Oscar in 2017.

South Africa beats US in Super Eight playoffs at the T20 World Cup

NORTH SOUND, Antigua — South Africa had to work hard to earn an 18-run win over the fast-improving United States in the opening game of the Super Eight at the Twenty20 World Cup on Wednesday.

Co-host the West Indies also lost it first match in the Super Eight stage Wednesday, beaten by eight wickets by defending champion England. Jack Salt scored 87 runs to lead England.

Andries Gous made an unbeaten 80 off 47 balls for the U.S. — against the country of his birth — to move atop the batting charts at the World Cup before South Africa restricted the Americans at 176-6.

Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada claimed 3-18 and spinner Keshav Maharaj got the prized wicket of U.S. captain Aaron Jones for a duck — no runs — to finish with 1-24.

Quinton de Kock had earlier made a rampant 74 off 40 balls and Heinrich Klaasen provided the perfect finish with 36 not out in the South African total of 194-4 after Jones won the toss and elected to field.

“Pretty happy with the performance as a whole,” South Africa captain Aiden Markram said. “A couple of overs here and there we need to tidy up … but the wicket definitely changes and gets a bit slower.”

De Kock and Markram (46 off 32 balls) dominated both spinners and the pacers as they raised a solid 110-run stand after Saurabh Netravalkar (2-21) had provided the early breakthrough by getting the wicket of Reeza Hendricks in his second over.

“We’ve had some tricky wickets so it was nice to spend some time in the middle today,” de Kock said. “The USA put us under pressure towards the end. It was a great game.”

Netravalkar, who bowled a sensational Super Over in the United States’ historic win over heavyweights Pakistan in the group stage, struck immediately in his return spell when Markram was brilliantly caught by diving Ali Khan at deep backward point off a full-pitched ball.

But Klaasen used all his T20 experience in the last five overs and struck three sixes while Tristan Stubbs also hit two fours in his 16-ball unbeaten 20 which lifted the South Africa total.

“Hard to take a defeat after coming so close,” Jones said. “We did lack discipline in the bowling at times, (but) once we play good cricket we can beat any team in the world. We need to be a lot more disciplined.”

England beats the West Indies

At Gros Islet, St Lucia, Salt carried his bat for 87 and Jonny Bairstow made an unbeaten 48 as defending champion England beat the West Indies by eight wickets in a match between two-time World Cup champions.

It was the West Indies’ first loss of the tournament and their first defeat in eight Twenty20 internationals.

The West Indies made 180-4 batting first on the same pitch on which they made 218-5 against Afghanistan in the final match of the group stage on Monday.

The fireworks came at the end and from England as Salt made his 87 runs from 47 balls with seven fours and five sixes and Bairstow added his 48 from 26 deliveries. England reached 181-2 with 15 balls to spare.

Salt provided a solid foundation for the England run chase, initially in a 67-run opening partnership with Jos Buttler.

Salt scored 30 runs — three sixes and three fours — from the 16th over bowled by Romario Shepherd.

“I’m not looking too far ahead at the minute, just glad that I could contribute to a good team win,” Salt said. “It was a little bit tougher in the middle overs with the spin.”

The pitch may have been a little slower than on Monday but England captain Buttler also used his bowlers well and the West Indies innings included 50 dot balls.

A capacity crowd in the first night match of the Super Eight stage was out to party but the match really didn’t come alive until the end.

The West Indies started well but were disrupted in the six-over power play by the loss of Brandon King who retired hurt after 4.3 overs with a side or groin strain. King had just hit the first six of the match, a 103-meter (338-foot) blow that flew over the grandstand and out of the stadium.

He made 23 from 13 balls and was setting the early pace of the innings when he was forced to retire with the West Indies at 40-0. There was no immediate word on the seriousness of King’s injury.

“Credit has to be given to the England bowling unit. You can see they had clear plans and executed them well,” West Indies captain Rovman Powell said.

Brussels refuses to host Belgium-Israel match over security fears

Brussels — Brussels has refused to host a Nations League football match between Israel and Belgium on September 6 because it could spark demonstrations, city authorities said on Wednesday.

They said holding such a match while the war in Gaza was continuing “will undoubtedly provoke large demonstrations and counterdemonstrations, compromising the safety of spectators, players, Brussels residents and also the police.”

The Belgian Football Federation said it would have accepted that the match, at the King Baudouin Stadium, take place behind closed doors, but it deeply regretted that the Belgian capital refused to host the game at all.

“We deplore the decision taken by the City of Brussels — which has a lot of experience of organizing big events — to not organize the match in our stronghold,” the federation said.

The federation said it was in contact with several cities and security services about finding an alternative venue.

The city of Louvain has already said it would not host the match.

A spokesperson for the Israeli football federation, Shlomi Barzel, told AFP: “This is a matter concerning Belgium; it’s not our problem.”

Concerns were likely raised by the attack in Brussels in October in which an Islamist gunman killed two Swedish football fans before a Euro 2024 qualifier between Belgium and Sweden, although the motive of the attack was not anti-Semitic.

France and Italy are in the same Nations League Group A2 as Belgium and Israel.

Muslim pilgrims resume symbolic stoning of the devil as Hajj wraps in deadly heat

Mina, Saudi Arabia — Muslim pilgrims used the early morning hours Monday to perform the second day of the symbolic stoning of the devil, as noontime summer heat caused heatstroke among thousands wrapping up the Hajj pilgrimage.

The final days of the Hajj coincide with Muslims around the world celebrating the Eid al-Adha holiday.

The stoning of the pillars representing the devil takes place in Mina, a desert plain just outside the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. A third stoning is scheduled Tuesday, before the Farewell Tawaf, or circling the cube-shaped Kaaba in Mecca.

The pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. All Muslims are required to make the five-day Hajj at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to do so. The Hajj rites largely commemorate the Quran’s accounts of Prophet Ibrahim, his son Prophet Ismail and Ismail’s mother Hajar — or Abraham and Ismael as they are named in the Bible.

The rites have taken place under the soaring summer heat, which at 2 p.m. reached 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit) in Mecca and the sacred sites in and around the city, according to the Saudi National Center for Metrology.

“Of course, it is something very hard and tiring. The temperature is abnormal compared to the past years and this affects us a lot,” said Ahmed Al-Baradie, an Egyptian pilgrim, after finishing his second symbolic stoning.

More than 2,760 pilgrims suffered from sunstroke and heat stress on Sunday alone at the start of the first round of stoning, according to the Health Ministry. Jordan announced Sunday that 14 Jordanian pilgrims had died from heatstroke.

The number of pilgrims on the roads leading to the pillars Monday morning decreased significantly compared to Sunday.

Carrying an umbrella against the burning sun, Pakistani pilgrim Khoda Bakhch visited the stoning site on Monday morning and planned to return at sunset. “After two or three hours, it (temperature) may be too much,” he said.

Experts say heat exhaustion and heatstroke are likely to become more common in the high temperature, with symptoms including heavy sweating, dizziness, muscle spasms and vomiting. Heatstroke is the most serious heat-related illness and happens when the body loses its ability to sweat.

Security forces, medics and first responders have been deployed in and around Mina, especially on roads and open areas to direct and help pilgrims.

“I am really impressed by the preparations,” Sani Abdullah, a Nigerian, told The Associated Press, adding that he was used to such burning heat in his country. “I have never encountered any problems. Everything is going smoothly.”

Mina is where Muslims believe Ibrahim’s faith was tested when God commanded him to sacrifice his only son Ismail. Ibrahim was prepared to submit to the command, but then God stayed his hand, sparing his son. In the Christian and Jewish versions of the story, Abraham is ordered to kill his other son, Isaac. The Eid al-Adha holiday celebrates Ibrahim’s submission to God.

The stoning began Sunday, a day after the pilgrims visited the sacred Mount Arafat where they spent their day in worship and reflection. The ritual in Mount Arafat, known as the hill of mercy, is considered the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage.

The pilgrims collected the pebbles, which they have used in the symbolic stoning of pillars, from Muzdalifa, an area located a few kilometers (miles) away from Mount Arafat.

The Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings on earth. The rituals officially started Friday when the pilgrims moved from Mecca’s Grand Mosque to Mina, then to Mount Arafat. They then return to Mina, where they spend up to three days, each casting seven pebbles at three pillars in a ritual to symbolize the casting away of evil and sin.

While in Mina, the pilgrims visit Mecca to perform a “tawaf,” or circumambulation, which is circling the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque counterclockwise seven times. Then another circumambulation, the Farewell Tawaf, will mark the end of the Hajj as pilgrims prepare to leave the holy city.

Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads, and women to snip a lock of hair in a sign of renewal.

Most of the pilgrims then leave Mecca for the city of Medina, about 340 kilometers (210 miles) away, to pray in Prophet Muhammad’s tomb, the Sacred Chamber. The tomb is part of the prophet’s mosque, which is one of the three holiest sites in Islam, along with the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

This year’s Hajj came against the backdrop of the devastating Israel-Hamas war, which pushed the Middle East to the brink of a regional conflict.

The war has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians in the besieged strip, according to Gaza health officials, while hundreds of others have been killed in Israeli operations in the West Bank. It began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip weren’t able to travel to Mecca for the Hajj this year because of the closure of the Rafah crossing in May, when Israel extended its ground offensive to the city on the border with Egypt.

More than 1.83 million Muslims performed the Hajj in 2024, slightly less than last year’s 1.84 million, according to data released by the Saudi Hajj and Umra Ministry. This year’s figures included more than 1.6 million pilgrims from 22 countries, and around 222,000 Saudi citizens and residents.

List of winners at the 2024 Tony Awards

NEW YORK — Winners at the 2024 Tony Awards, announced Sunday.

Best Musical: “The Outsiders”

Best Play: “Stereophonic”

Best Revival of a Musical: “Merrily We Roll Along”

Best Revival of a Play: “Appropriate”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Maleah Joi Moon, “Hell’s Kitchen”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Jonathan Groff, “Merrily We Roll Along”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play: Sarah Paulson, “Appropriate”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: Jeremy Strong, “An Enemy of the People”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: Daniel Radcliffe, “Merrily We Roll Along”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: Kecia Lewis, “Hell’s Kitchen”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play: Will Brill, “Stereophonic”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play: Kara Young, “Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch”

Best Direction of a Play: Daniel Aukin, “Stereophonic”

Best Direction of a Musical: Danya Taymor, “The Outsiders”

Best Original Score: “Suffs,” music & lyrics: Shaina Taub

Best Book of a Musical: “Suffs,” Shaina Taub

Best Choreography: Justin Peck, “Illinoise”

Best Costume Design of a Play: Dede Ayite, “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding”

Best Costume Design of a Musical: Linda Cho, “The Great Gatsby”

Best Orchestrations: Jonathan Tunick, “Merrily We Roll Along”

Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Tom Scutt, “Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club”

Best Scenic Design of a Play: David Zinn, “Stereophonic”

Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Hana S. Kim and Brian MacDevitt, “The Outsiders”

Best Lighting Design of a Play: Jane Cox, “Appropriate”

Best Sound Design of a Play: Ryan Rumery, “Stereophonic”

Best Sound Design of a Musical: Cody Spencer, “The Outsiders”

‘Stereophonic’ wins Tony for best play; women win director, score honors

NEW YORK — “Stereophonic,” the play about a Fleetwood Mac-like band recording an album over a turbulent and life-changing year, got a lighters-in-the-air cheer at the Tony Awards on Sunday, winning best new play while theater history was made for women as Broadway directors and score writers.

“Stereophonic,” the most-nominated play in Tony Awards history, is a hyper-naturalistic meditation on the thrill and danger of collaborating on art — the compromises, the egos and the joys. It was written by David Adjmi with songs by former Arcade Fire member Will Butler.

“Oh, no. My agent gave me a beta-blocker, but it’s not working,” Adjmi said. He added that the play took 11 years to manifest.

“This was a very hard journey to get up here,” he said. “We need to fund the arts in America.” He dedicated it to all the artists out there.

Danya Taymor — whose aunt is Julie Taymor, the first woman to win a Tony Award for directing a musical — became the 11th woman to win the award. She helmed “The Outsiders,” a gritty musical adaptation of the classic American young adult novel.

“Thank you to the great women who have lifted me up,” she said, naming producer Angelina Jolie among those on her list.

Then Shaina Taub, only the second woman in Broadway history to write, compose and star in a Broadway musical, won for best score, following such writers as Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori. Taub, the force behind “Suffs,” won for best book earlier in the night.

Her musical is about the heroic final years of the fight to allow women to vote, leading to the passage of the 19th Amendment.

“If you are inspired by the story of Suffs, please make sure you and everyone you know have registered to vote and vote, vote, vote!” she said. Taub also said the win was for all the loud girls out there: “Go for it,” she urged.

Earlier, Alicia Keys electrified the show when she teamed up with superstar Jay-Z on their hit “Empire State of Mind.” Keys appeared at the piano on the stage of the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center as the cast of her semi-autobiographical musical, “Hell’s Kitchen,” was presenting a medley of songs. She began singing her and Jay-Z’s 2009 smash before leaving the stage to join the rapper on some interior steps to wild applause.

Host Ariana DeBose kicked off the telecast with an original, acrobatic number, and Jeremy Strong took home the first big award of the night as Broadway’s biggest party opened its arms to hip-hop and rock fans.

Strong, the “Succession” star, landed his first Tony for his work in the revival of Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 political play “An Enemy of the People.” The theater award for best lead actor in a play will sit next to his Emmy, Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Globe.

The play is about a public-minded doctor in a small town who discovers the water supply for the public spa is contaminated, but his efforts to clean up the mess pit his ethics against political cowards.

“This play is a cry from the heart,” he said.

Kara Young, the first Black performer to be nominated for a Tony three consecutive years in a row, won this time as best featured actress in a play for “Purlie Victorious,” the story of a Black preacher’s scheme to reclaim his inheritance and win back his church from a plantation owner.

“Thank you to my ancestors,” she said, adding thanks to her mom and dad, brother, partner, cast, her co-star Leslie Odom Jr. and her director, Kenny Leon. She saved her last thanks to playwright Ossie Davis and his star Ruby Dee, who originated the role.

“Harry Potter” star Daniel Radcliffe cemented his stage career pivot by winning a featured actor in a musical Tony, his first trophy in five Broadway shows. He won for the revival of “Merrily We Roll Along,” the Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical that goes backward in time.

“This is one of the best experiences of my life,” Radcliffe said, thanking his cast and director. “I will never have it as good again.” He also thanked his parents for playing Sondheim in the car growing up.

Kecia Lewis, who plays a formidable piano teacher in “Hell’s Kitchen,” took home her first Tony. The 40-year veteran made her Broadway debut at 18 in the original company of “Dreamgirls” and endured amazing moments and heartbreak.

“This moment is the one I dreamed of for those 40 years,” she told the crowd. “Don’t give up!”

“Appropriate,” Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ play — centered on a family reunion in Arkansas where everyone has competing motivations and grievances — was named best play revival. Jacobs-Jenkins in his remarks thanked Davis, saying there would be no “Appropriate” without “Purlie Victorious.”

Three-time Tony-honored Chita Rivera got a tribute by Tony winners Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Bebe Neuwirth. Images of her work in “Chicago,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “West Side Story” were projected while dancers mimicked her hit numbers. DeBose, who won an Oscar in Rivera’s old “West Side Story” role of Anita, also joined in.

Broadway celebrates packed and varied theater season with 2024 Tony Awards

New York — The 28 Broadway shows that earned at least one Tony Award nomination are hoping Sunday is the day the sealed envelopes break in their favor.

The three-hour main telecast from New York City’s Lincoln Center will air on CBS and stream on Paramount+ starting at 8 p.m. Eastern, with a free pre-show on Pluto TV at 6:30 p.m.

‘A time of transformation’  

The awards cap a Broadway theater season that had something for everyone — fun musicals like “Back to the Future,” sweeping romance in “The Notebook,” political rallying cries like “Suffs” and intimate ensembles like “Mother Play” and “Appropriate.” Filipinos took center stage in “Here Lies Love” and autism was explored in “How to Dance in Ohio.”

“I think it has been a year of real flexibility. I also think Broadway is in a time of transformation,” said Tonys host Ariana DeBose. “A total of 36 productions opened on Broadway this season alone and each one spoke to a very different audience. I do believe that we are learning, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ So we are continuing to find our voice and who Broadway wants to be.”

DeBose has said she expects the show to move “like a Broadway show” — in other words, briskly and with scene changes in front the audience. “We want to give you a full Broadway experience,” she said.

Nicole Scherzinger will anchor the “In Memoriam” section and the late Chita Rivera will get a separate tribute from Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Bebe Neuwirth.

Some key awards to watch

Two shows share the most nominations with 13: a piano prodigy’s coming-of-age in “Hell’s Kitchen” and the back-and-forth struggles to create a rock album in the play “Stereophonic.” They are competing in different categories, best new musical and best new play.

Of the 26 competitive categories, two are virtual locks: “Stereophonic,” a critical and box office triumph, and “Merrily We Roll Along,” the Stephen Sondheim- George Furth musical that flopped when it premiered on Broadway in 1981 but is the strong favorite for best musical revival.

A case could also be made that “Appropriate,” Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ play about a family reunion in Arkansas where everyone has competing motivations and grievances, will comfortably earn the best play revival award.

Looking to beat “Hell’s Kitchen” for the top new musical crown are “The Outsiders,” an adaptation of the beloved S. E. Hinton novel and Francis Ford Coppola film; “Illinoise,” the dance-heavy, dialogue-less stage adaptation of Sufjan Stevens’ 2005 album “Illinois”; “Suffs,” based on the American suffragists of the early 20th century; and “Water for Elephants,” which combines Sara Gruen’s 2006 bestseller with circus elements.

Hoping to knock down “Stereophonic” are “Mother Play,” Paula Vogel’s look at a mother and her kids spanning 1964 to the 21st century; “Mary Jane,” Amy Herzog’s humanistic portrait of a divorced mother of a young boy with severe health issues; “Prayer for the French Republic,” Joshua Harmon’s sprawling family comedy-drama that deals with Zionism, religious fervency and antisemitism; and “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding,” Jocelyn Bioh’s comedy about the lives of West African women working at a salon.

The leading actress in a musical race is between veteran Kelli O’Hara in “Days of Wine and Roses” and “Hell’s Kitchen” newcomer Maleah Joi Moon. On the play side, Sarah Paulson from “Appropriate” is expected to win the best lead actress trophy over a challenge by Jessica Lange in “Mother Play.”

On the men’s side, former “Hamilton” standout Leslie Odom Jr. from “Purlie Victorious” is up against “Succession” star Jeremy Strong in the revival of “An Enemy of the People,” while Jonathan Groff is the favorite to win on the musical side for “Merrily We Roll Along,” competing against Eddie Redmayne in “Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club” and Brian d’Arcy James from “Days of Wine and Roses.”

In secular France, chaplains prepare to give Olympians spiritual support

PARIS — As athletes rev up their training and organizers finalize everything from ceremonies to podiums before the Paris Olympics, more than 120 faith leaders are preparing for a different challenge — spiritually supporting some 10,000 Olympic athletes from around the world, especially those whose medal dreams will inevitably get crushed.

“We’ll need to bring them back to earth, because it can feel like the end of the world after working on this goal for four or five years,” said Jason Nioka, a former judo champion and deacon who’s in charge of the largest contingent of Olympic chaplains, about 40 Catholic priests, nuns and lay faithful.

Ordained and lay representatives from the five major global religions — Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism — have been working together for months to set up a shared hall in the Olympic village outside Paris.

There, they will provide some worship services, prayers and, above all, a non-judgmental listening ear to any athletes or staff in need, regardless of faith.

“We’re not there to have them win,” said Anne Schweitzer, who’s coordinating about three dozen Protestant chaplains, the second-largest group. “My goal is to have a Christian witness there, people who embody the love and care of Jesus, for the athletes who are under so much pressure.”

There’s a history of high demand for Olympic chaplains. Requests exceeded 8,000 in the pre-pandemic Games, organizers say, ranging from mental health concerns to a pre-competition blessing to coping with a sudden death in the family back home.

But this year’s chaplains are training for even more complex challenges, from complying with France’s secularism laws that strictly prescribe the role of religion in public spaces to preparing for any spillover from two major conflicts raging not far away, the Russia-Ukraine war and the Israel-Hamas war, especially in an era of increased activism by athletes.

“I see our mission as protecting them in their fragility,” said the Rev. Anton Gelyasov, archpriest of the Greek-Orthodox Metropolis of France, who’s leading more than two dozen Christian Orthodox chaplains for the Games. “Second, it’s to give witness that we are present, not only as ‘my church’ but as ‘religions,’ and that it’s good that we are together.”

Indeed, the behind-the-scenes dealmaking to accommodate different religions as well as different cultural, national and liturgical traditions within each faith reveals podium-worthy teamwork from the all-volunteer chaplain corps.

Each religion got 50 square meters of the tent-like structure that’s being constructed and furnished in the village by the Paris Games organizing committee, with a basic mandate to welcome athletes and provide worship information.

Then, the Jewish and Muslim leaders decided to set up their spaces next to each other, as “an image and example” — in the words of Rabbi Moshe Lewin — that they can coexist even at times of great geopolitical tensions.

Buddhists and Hindus, with the fewest expected adherents, donated half their spaces to the Christians, who will have about 100 chaplains in rotation to serve Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants.

Next comes the interdenominational diplomacy. The Muslim space will be divided by screens so that men and women can perform daily prayers separately, respecting diverging practices within Islam globally, said Najat Benali, president of the organization Coordination of Muslim associations of Paris, who is preparing the Muslim chaplaincy.

Christians compromised on the kinds of crucifixes and icons they’ll bring to the hall — without images of Jesus on the cross, for instance, to respect Protestant sensitivities. Buddhists will have Buddha statues and cushions for meditation but are striving to strike a balance between the utter simplicity of the Zen tradition and the bright colors of the Tibetan one, said Luc Charles, a Zen monk who’s also a taekwondo instructor and the lead hospital chaplain of the Buddhist Union of France.

Little of that wealth of traditions will be visible from the outside — intentionally in a country where signs of faith are largely barred from public institutions. The hall itself won’t be at the center of the village, and signs pointing to it will be discreet so as not to inconvenience non-believers, said Jeanne Le Comte du Colombier, the Paris Games committee’s project manager for the multifaith center.

While the Olympics are no place for proselytism, several faith leaders said they wish they could do more outreach in the village, especially for athletes from countries without freedom of religion who might hesitate to come to the hall for counseling or a blessing.

Faith leaders are also forming a network of religious institutions from mosques to parishes outside the athletes’ village and in the other French cities hosting competitions, like Marseille and Lyon. These will have special opening hours and multilingual services for athletes, though security won’t be as tight as it will be in the village itself.

France’s Catholic Bishops Conference has launched a nationwide “Holy Games” initiative. Since last September, it has set up the “Our Lady of Athletes” chapel in an iconic downtown Paris church, La Madeleine. The faithful can light candles with inspirational sports-related quotes or enter prayer petitions in a tablet with a direct link to a monastic community.

Holy Games is also working to bring disadvantaged communities like the homeless and migrants into the Olympics festivities that risk pushing them farther to the margins, said the project’s director, Isabelle de Chatellus.

Some teams are also expected to bring their own chaplains. But faith leaders say athletes might still prefer going to the chaplains’ hall for sensitive issues.

They’re preparing for hearing about possible cases of abuse within athletes’ team, by striving to have equal numbers of male and female chaplains present, for example. And while most denominations will offer some form of peace prayer and pledge to welcome all athletes who seek them, they’re readying for possible flareups between those whose countries are at war.

“The geopolitical situation will have an impact on athletes, but the Olympic Games provide the incredible opportunity of meeting the other,” said Lewin, special advisor to the chief Rabbi of France and vice president of the Conference of European Rabbis, who will serve as a Jewish chaplain.

“We do worship, not politics,” Benali echoed him. “We will listen and explain we’re there to accompany the athletes. We’re not good resources to address geopolitics.”

Part of that spiritual accompaniment will stem from how each denomination defines the role of health, the human body and thus sports. Many religious texts describe the body as a temple of the spirit, making it a moral duty to take care of good health.

Many also see a parallel between pews and bleachers in spiritual values like dedication, perseverance and self-sacrifice.

“Sports give values that allow me to live a faith rooted in Christ,” said Nioka, 28, who will be ordained a priest a month before the opening ceremony.

Before a race, athletes might especially benefit from Christian Orthodox tradition, given its emphasis on what Gelyasov called “spiritual combat,” a daily fight against sin.

“If you don’t advance, you go backwards. One has to always make progress,” he explained.

After a race, a Buddhist meditation could help with detachment instead of focusing on the pressure of giving “an almost superhuman performance,” in Charles’ words.

“We have received this body, this life, but in the end it’s a superior energy that decides,” the Zen monk said.

On Father’s Day, LGBTQ+ couple celebrates their sperm donor

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kansas — David Titterington had a sense of what his childhood friend would ask him when she led him into a photo booth at a mutual friend’s wedding roughly a decade ago. As the countdown for the second photo ticked, Jen Wilson popped the question: Will you be my sperm donor?

“Of course I said yes,” Titterington said. “I mean, who would have guessed that, being a gay man, I would have this opportunity to have biological children and also be part of their lives?”

On Father’s Day, which is Sunday, Kansas residents Jen and Whitney Wilson will pack up their three children — ages 9, 7 and 3 — and head to picnic at Titterington’s Missouri house to celebrate the man who helped make their family possible. Like other LGBTQ+ couples, they and their sperm donor have created their own traditions around Father’s Day.

“We just have decided to celebrate him,” said Jen Wilson, who works as the executive director of the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Modern Family Alliance.

For LGBTQ+ people, single-parent households, other nontraditional families or those with strained family relationships, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day can be painful and confusing. Events featuring those holidays at school can make some children feel isolated. Jen Wilson said many schools are working toward being more inclusive, such as turning events like “Donuts with Dads” to “Donuts with Grown-Ups.”

“There are families who don’t have a David, who can’t really point to, like, this is what it means to be a dad or have a father figure. So I consider us really lucky,” Whitney Wilson said. She later added: “I think we’re really lucky in that we have lots of people in our life to point to. Not just David … grandpas and uncles and all kinds of people who are also fathers.”

Between 2 million and 3.3 million children under age 18 have an LGBTQ+ parent, according to the group Family Equality.

Such families are growing more visible in recent years, said Cathy Renna, the communications director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. Most Pride events now include family-friendly activities, like climbing walls, she said.

“Now we see families of all kinds and shapes and sizes, and that’s really important. It’s important not just for us,” Renna said. “It’s also important for kids to understand, you know, that families do come in many different, configurations and that families are about love.”

When it comes to Father’s Day, Jen Wilson said: “People focus so much on just their own father instead of highlighting the fact that there are a lot of really great fathers in the world in lots of different communities and just celebrating them for stepping up and … being the great dads that they are.”

Jen Wilson and Titterington have been friends since childhood. When Jen Wilson and her wife began planning for a family, Titterington tossed out the idea of being a sperm donor, and he was overjoyed when the couple later made the ask official.

Titterington sees his role in the kids’ lives as more akin to a godfather than a father. He and his husband go to school events and birthday parties, and Titterington said they see themselves as “coaching them from the sidelines.” He said he is partial to the title “blood father,” but the Wilsons said the children more often refer to him as their “bio dad” or “donor dad.”

“I am their father, but I’m not really their parent,” Titterington said. “Because Jennifer and Whitney are the two parents, and they’re doing an amazing job.”

Even with David, the idea that the children don’t have a dad can be hard for them, Whitney Wilson said, but it isn’t “something that keeps anybody in our house up at night.”

“There are a lot of people that would love the opportunity to tell our children how terrible it is that they don’t have a father figure in their life,” Jen Wilson said. “We know that’s not true.”

For Titterington, fatherhood is the weight of the Wilsons’ firstborn falling asleep on his chest, gifts of scribbled artwork that can never be thrown away, and cleaning up after a toddler in potty training. But after a tiring weekend slumber party, he can send the children home to their mothers.

“There’s so many ways to be a father,” Titterington said. “We get to celebrate all kinds of fathers on Father’s Day.”

England wins to leapfrog Scotland into Super Eight stage

NORTH SOUND, Antigua — England’s defense of the Twenty20 World Cup title is still alive after a must-win over Namibia in a rain-affected match, followed by a helping hand from traditional rivals Australia later on Saturday.

To reach the Super Eight, England first had to beat Namibia in their maiden T20 matchup. Persistent showers almost ruined the chance, but the match started three hours late and was reduced to 11 overs, then 10 overs after another heavy shower.

England was made to bat first and rallied to 122-5.

Namibia, given a rain-adjusted target of 126, managed only 84-3 and lost by 41 runs.

England did what it had to, then had to wait a few more hours and hope Scotland lost to Australia in Saint Lucia to be sure of advancing from Group B.

Australia, which had already qualified from Group B, were made to work but eventually overpowered Scotland in a five-wicket win to give England the result it needed to progress to the Super Eights.

England was anxious for most of the day, thanks to the weather. It had already suffered one washout — its opener against Scotland — and a second washout in four group games would have sent it home.

Because of what was at stake, the umpires waited as long as possible at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium to get play under way.

England lost the plot early. Only one run was taken from the opening over bowled by 39-year-old David Wiese; captain Jos Buttler was bowled for a duck by fast bowler Ruben Trumpelmann; and Wiese returned to nick out the other opener, Phil Salt.

England was 13-2 after 13 balls.

Jonny Bairstow and Harry Brook counterattacked. Bairstow made 31 off 18 balls just before the last rain delay. Brook finished with an unbeaten 47 off 20, and had late support from Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone, who both contributed to taking 21 runs off the last over.

Namibia’s chase was relatively fast but not fast enough. Opener Michael van Lingen, after 33 off 29, was pulled out under the pretense of retiring hurt, and Wiese inserted to up the run rate. He duly delivered 27 off 12 but it was too late.

It was the last international for allrounder Wiese, captain Gerhard Erasmus said. Wiese started with South Africa in 2013 but after five years off he debuted for Namibia in the 2021 T20 World Cup and was invaluable. “Inspired us to new heights,” Erasmus said.

Australia ends Scotland’s dreamAt Gros Islet, St Lucia, Group B leaders Australia were made to work hard in its maiden T20 matchup against Scotland before it rallied late to win by five wickets.

After England’s 41-run victory over Namibia in a rain-affected match earlier Saturday saw it jump into second place in the group standings, Scotland knew it had to beat Australia to advance to the Super Eight stage.

Scotland were made to bat first and built a competitive 180-5.

Australia were on the backfoot for most of its innings until some big-hitting from Travis Head and Marcus Stoinis, who both scored half centuries, seized back momentum in the late overs and saw the Aussies home.

Scotland seeking to make the playoff stage of a T20 World Cup for the first time started brightly with George Munsey (35 off 23 balls) and Brandon McMullen (60 off 34 balls) getting Scotland off to a brisk start after Michael Jones was bowled by Ashton Agar in the first over.

Captain Richie Berrington kept the scoreboard ticking for the Scots with an unbeaten 42 off 31 balls, but Australia’s closing bowlers off Nathan Ellis, Mitchell Starc and Adam Zampa restricted Scotland from getting closer to the 200 run total they looked like achieving for most of the innings.

Australia’s reply started shakily with David Warner out for one in the second over caught in the deep off Brad Wheal.

Captain Mitch Marsh never got going in his brief innings of eight off nine balls before he was Safyarn Shariff’s first wicket as Australia fell to 34-2 in a subdued powerplay.

Glenn Maxwell was then bowled by a brilliant offspin delivery from Mark Watt as Scotland’s hopes of reaching the Super Eight round were raised.

Scotland’s bowlers were mostly disciplined in their line and length as they restricted Head and Stonis from finding the acceleration they needed to chase down the 181-run target.

But the match turned quickly in the 16th over when Head hit three sixes off Sharif (2-42) before he holed-out looking for another. Stoinis found another boundary off the final ball of the over to raise his half-century off 25 balls as Australia plundered a game-changing 24 runs.

Now needing 36 runs off the final four overs, Tim David (24 off 14 balls) made light work of the chase with a string of boundaries to finally end Scotland’s hopes of a famous victory and a spot in the Super Eight stage at England’s expense.

Australia topped Group B with eight points from four matches, with England leaping into second place on five points and ahead of Scotland on net run rate.

India washout

The India-Canada game in Florida was abandoned without a ball bowled.

The outfield in Broward County Stadium was too wet for play, and the match was called off only an hour after its scheduled morning start.

While there was light rain on Saturday morning, the outfield was damp from Friday showers which led to a second straight abandoned game at the venue. The United States-Ireland game on Friday never started. Pakistan and Ireland are scheduled to play at the ground on Sunday.

While the teams waited for a decision, India’s Rishabh Pant and coach Rahul Dravid went to the boundary to sign autographs, and Virat Kohli posed with some of the Canada players.

Unbeaten India had already qualified for the Super Eight as the Group A winner. Canada finished group play with only a precious win over Ireland.

India starts the Super Eight against Afghanistan on Thursday in Barbados.

Muslim pilgrims converge at Mount Arafat for daylong worship

MOUNT ARAFAT, Saudi Arabia — Following the footsteps of prophets beneath a burning sun, Muslims from around the world congregated Saturday at a sacred hill in Saudi Arabia for intense, daylong worship and reflection.

The ritual at Mount Arafat, known as the hill of mercy, is considered the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage. It is often the most memorable for pilgrims, who stand shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet, asking God for mercy, blessings, prosperity and good health. The mount is about 20 kilometers southeast of Mecca.

Thousands of pilgrims walked to the mount through the predawn darkness. On the slopes of the rocky hill and the surrounding area, many raised their hands in worship with tears streaming down their faces.

“For sure it is something great. It is the best day for Muslims during the year, and the best feeling that anyone can experience,” Hussein Mohammed, an Egyptian pilgrim, said as he stood on the rocky slopes at dawn. “It is the best place for anyone hoping to be (here) on this day and at this moment.”

It’s believed that Prophet Muhammad delivered his final speech, known as the Farewell Sermon, at the sacred mount 1,435 years ago. In the sermon, the prophet called for equality and unity among Muslims.

Ali Osman, a Spanish pilgrim, was overwhelmed, as he stepped down the hill of mercy. He said he felt that he gained spiritual and physical strength at the sacred site.

“The place, thank God, (gives) very good energy,” he said. “I came here, thank God. It is my first time. I hope to come again in the future.”

Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings on earth. The rituals officially started Friday when pilgrims moved from Mecca’s Grand Mosque to Mina, a desert plain just outside the city.

Saudi authorities expect the number of pilgrims this year to exceed 2 million, approaching pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.

The pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. All Muslims are required to make the five-day Hajj at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to make the demanding pilgrimage.

The rituals largely commemorate the Quran’s accounts of Prophet Ibrahim, his son Prophet Ismail and Ismail’s mother Hajar — or Abraham and Ismael as they are named in the Bible.

This year’s Hajj came against the backdrop of the raging war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas, which pushed the Middle East to the brink of a regional war between Israel and its allies on one side and Iran-backed militant groups on the other.

Palestinians in the coastal enclave of Gaza were not able to travel to Mecca for Hajj this year because of the closure of the Rafah crossing in May, when Israel extended its ground offensive to the strip’s southern city of Rafah on the border with Egypt.

Staving off potential protests or chants about the war during the Hajj, Saudi authorities said they won’t tolerate politicizing the pilgrimage. Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub, a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, told reporters Friday evening that the Saudi government “will not allow any attempt to turn the sacred sites (in Mecca) into an arena for mob chanting.”

The time of year when the Hajj takes place varies, given that it is set for five days in the second week of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar.

Most of the Hajj rituals are held outdoors with little if any shade. When it falls in the summer months, temperatures can soar to over 40 Celsius. The Health Ministry has cautioned that temperatures at the holy sites could reach 48 C and urged pilgrims to use umbrellas and drink more water to stay hydrated.

Most of the pilgrims at Mount Arafat carried umbrellas, while others sat in the shadow of a few trees and buildings around the hill of mercy. And, as at Mina and the Grand Mosque, cooling stations on the roads leading to the mount and in its surrounding areas sprayed pilgrims with water to help fight the heat, which had already climbed to 47 C at Mount Arafat, according to Saudi Arabia’s National Center for Meteorology.

After Saturday’s worship in Mount Arafat, pilgrims will travel a few kilometers to a site known as Muzdalifa to collect pebbles that they will use in the symbolic stoning of pillars representing the devil back in Mina. Many walk, while others use buses.

Pilgrims then return to Mina for three days, coinciding with the festive Eid al-Adha holiday, when financially able Muslims around the world slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to poor people. Afterward, they return to Mecca for a final circumambulation, known as Farewell Tawaf.

Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads, and women to snip a lock of hair in a sign of renewal. Most of the pilgrims then leave Mecca for the city of Medina, some 340 kilometers  away, to pray in Prophet Muhammad’s tomb, the Sacred Chamber. The tomb is part of the prophet’s mosque, which is one of the three holiest sites in Islam, along with the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Hajj is a notorious chokepoint for crowds. In 2015, several thousands of pilgrims were crushed to death in a crowd surge. Saudi authorities never offered a final death toll.

In recent years, Saudi authorities have made significant efforts to improve access and avoid deadly accidents. Tens of thousands of security personnel were deployed across the city, especially around the holy sites, to control the crowds, and the government built a high-speed rail link to ferry people between holy sites in the city, which has been jammed with traffic during the Hajj season. Pilgrims enter through special electronic gates.

Saudi authorities have also expanded and renovated the Grand Mosque where cranes are seen around some of its seven minarets as construction was underway in the holy site.