Tribune News Service

University of Maryland marching band will stop playing state song with Confederate ties

BALTIMORE — The University of Maryland’s marching band will no longer play the state’s song, which was used as a pro-Confederate battle hymn and bashes “the Northern scum.”

The state’s flagship university has suspended the playing of the controversial tune to “evaluate if it is consistent with the values of our institution at this time,” said university spokeswoman Katie Lawson.

The marching band used to play “Maryland, My Maryland” as part of its football pregame show.

Drum major Brian Starace said he and other band members are glad to be getting rid of the association with the Confederacy.

“It was never something I was too proud to be playing,” said the junior music education major. “It’s for the best to get rid of it.”

Some Maryland lawmakers have been calling for years for the state song to be changed.

The university’s move comes shortly after a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. In the weeks since, cities across the country have been reconsidering their monuments and tributes to the Confederacy.

—The Baltimore Sun


Tropical system along east coast less likely to strengthen, forecasters say

A tropical weather system churning along the east coast is showing signs of weakening, with the odds of a cyclone forming growing slimmer, National Hurricane Center forecasters said Monday evening.

A hurricane-hunting plane sent to investigate the storm found that the wave had not become any better organized during the day as expected. With the system set to face increasing wind shear that can shred storms, forecasters said the chance of a cyclone forming is diminishing. If a cyclone does form, they said, it will likely happen over the next day as the storm slides along the North Carolina coast.

Without a defined structure, tracking the wave also becomes less certain, they warned, although they expect the wave to continue rolling to the northeast and back out to sea.

On Monday evening, the system was about 65 miles south of Charleston, S.C., and moving northeast at 12 mph. Tops winds remained about 40 mph. A tropical storm warning covered much of the North Carolina coast, where the storm should arrive Tuesday. Tropical storm force winds extend outward about 85 miles from the storm’s center. Forecasters put the odds of a cyclone forming at 70 percent.

—Miami Herald


Federal appeals court reverses ruling in Subway sandwich-length lawsuit

MILWAUKEE — A class-action lawsuit that almost extracted $520,000 out of Subway over the length of its sandwiches just derailed at a federal appeals court.

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a Milwaukee federal judge’s approval of a settlement in the infamous case about whether Subway’s “foot-long” sandwiches were always 12 inches long.

Judge Diane Sykes, writing for a three-judge panel, concluded: “Because the settlement yields fees for class counsel and ‘zero benefits for the class,’ the class should not have been certified and the settlement should not have been approved.”

After an Australian teenager took a photo of his Subway sandwich coming up short next to a ruler in 2013 and posted it online, people began to sue over the length of their subs. Several were consolidated into a single class-action case that was assigned to U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in Milwaukee.

“In their haste to file suit, however, the lawyers neglected to consider whether the claims had any merit. They did not,” Sykes wrote.

She noted that early discovery in the case showed Subway already had fairly strict standards about how much dough was in unbaked loaves, and that the minor variations in length were unpreventable, given the nature of baking. Plus, she wrote, no customer really gets less food than they expect, since they watch their subs get made in front of them and can ask for more toppings.

Nonetheless, a settlement plan announced in 2015 would have paid the 10 plaintiff law firms involved a total of $525,000 but given most class members — the millions of people who purchased Subway subs since 2003 — only some promised new procedures Subway said would further assure that their rolls measured a full 12 inches.

The injunctive nature of the settlement was because there really were no damages to any customer. Seeking the other relief from Subway was a way for the lawyers to preserve fees. Some folks objected to the proposed deal.

Theodore Frank, “a class member and professional objector to hollow class-action settlements,” in Sykes’ words, tried to block the planned deal but Adelman approved it. Besides fees to the lawyers, a few named plaintiffs would get $500 each.

The class lawyers tried to argue that since the relief to the class was injunctive, Frank stood to gain nothing if the attorney fees were reduced. But Sykes noted that Frank’s objection was to certification of the class and the settlement itself.

She observed that before — and after — the settlement, customers could still occasionally get a sandwich in a bun a little under 12 inches or 6 inches long. She was not impressed that some who might find offense could theoretically return to court and try to have Subway found in contempt.

“Contempt as a remedy to enforce a worthless settlement is itself worthless. Zero plus zero equals zero,” Sykes wrote.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


India and China end Himalayan border standoff

India and China have ended a monthslong military standoff at a disputed border area in the Himalayas with their troops almost completing a pullout by Monday evening.

The breakthrough over the confrontation at the Doklam plateau was reached after diplomatic talks, the Indian External Affairs Ministry said.

China’s Foreign Ministry said only Indian troops were withdrawing, but New Delhi made it clear that both countries were pulling back their forces.

“We had earlier in the day announced that following diplomatic communications, expeditious disengagement of border personnel of China and India at the face-off site was ongoing,” the Indian statement said.

“The process has since been almost completed under verification.”

The thaw comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming trip to China for a summit of the BRICS group of nations.

The row over the mountainous area located near the borders of China, India and Bhutan began in mid-June. Doklam, an uninhabited plateau is claimed by both China and India’s ally Bhutan.

China had attempted to build a road through the disputed area but India responded by sending troops to evict the Chinese military’s workers.

New Delhi sent its forces in support of Bhutan as well as to halt the road construction, which it said posed a “serious security concern” to its territory.

Over the past few weeks, Beijing in a series of angry statements repeatedly asked India to unilaterally withdraw from Doklam. India had insisted on a mutual pullout.

In its statement, China said it would “continue to exercise its sovereign rights” in the area.


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