Kanye West to meet with Trump this week

Rapper Kanye West will make a house call on President Donald Trump on Thursday.

West will have lunch with Trump and adviser (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner at the White House. They are set to discuss prison reform, manufacturing, preventing gang violence and reducing violence in West’s hometown of Chicago, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday after a New York Times report about the meeting.

The meet-up comes on the heels of West again publicly supporting Trump during a post-show rant about politics on “Saturday Night Live” earlier this month. West has also been wearing a version of Trump’s red “Make America Great Again” hats recently.

“It’s so many times that I talk to a white person about this, and they say, ‘How could you support Trump? He’s racist.’ Well, if I was concerned about racism, I would have moved out of America a long time ago,” West said after the show. “We don’t just make our decisions off of racism. I’ma break it down to you right now: If someone inspires me and I connect with them, I don’t have to believe in all they policies.”

On Twitter, Trump heaped praise on the Grammy-winning provocateur after the performance: “Word is that Kanye West, who put on a MAGA hat after the show (despite being told ‘no’), was great. He’s leading the charge!”

West’s wife, reality star Kim Kardashian West, met with Trump and Kushner over the summer and facilitated the presidential pardon of Alice Marie Johnson, who had been serving a life sentence on nonviolent drug charges.

— Los Angeles Times

Man cleans out wallet, finds winning, $1 million lottery ticket

REDDING, Conn. — When most people clean out their wallets, all they find is a few bucks and a couple of old receipts.

Charles Dudley of Redding, Conn., found a virtual pot of gold in his — a winning, million dollar Powerball ticket that would have expired soon, according to the Connecticut Lottery.

The ticket was from the May 2 drawing, the lottery said last week. Dudley, of Redding, had 23 days left to claim the prize when he found the ticket. He claimed it Oct. 3.

The winning Powerball numbers drawn on May 2 were 5-14-31-40-50, Powerball 6. Dudley’s ticket matched the first five numbers drawn.

He found the ticket months later stuck between some old receipts in his wallet, the lottery said.

“I checked the winning numbers on the lottery’s website and couldn’t believe it. I checked it over and over. The numbers were a match,” he told lottery officials. “It didn’t feel real, though, until I checked the location of where the ticket was sold. It was where I bought my ticket.”

He told them he had stopped for ice cream at the Georgetown Shell in Wilton on May 2. “While I was there, I got a Powerball Quick Pick, put it in my wallet, and then forgot about it.”

For selling the winning ticket, the store will get a $2,500 bonus, the lottery said.

— The Hartford Courant

Accused stadium pizza spitter has no infectious diseases, prosecutors say

DETROIT — A former Comerica Park employee charged with food law violations after he was filmed spitting in pizza he was preparing at the Detroit baseball stadium has tested negative for infectious diseases, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

Jaylon Juwan Kerley, 20, of Roseville, was charged on Sept. 25 with felony and misdemeanor food law violations, which could land him in prison for up to four years. He was filmed spitting on pizzas at Comerica Park during a Sept. 21 Tigers game.

One condition of Kerley’s bond was that he subject himself to testing for certain communicable diseases.

On Tuesday morning, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement that Kerley “has tested negative for any sexually transmitted diseases, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and any type of hepatitis.”

Prosecutor Kym Worthy was quoted in the statement as saying: “The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has been inundated with phone calls from the public since our announcement of charges in this case — specifically inquiring a whether the defendant has certain infectious diseases.

“We understand that concern and facilitated the expedited testing of the defendant.”

Kerley was fired when Detroit Sportservice, the caterers for Comerica Park, were made aware of the incident.

— Detroit Free Press

Syria’s Assad grants amnesty to army deserters and draft dodgers

BEIRUT — The Syrian government Tuesday announced an amnesty for army deserters and those who avoided military service, a gesture that could draw thousands of refugees who fled violence back to the country.

Syrian President Bashar Assad issued the decree, granting “a general amnesty from all punishment” to deserters inside and outside the country, said the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency.

The amnesty applies to those who “turn themselves in” within four months if they are in Syria or within six months if they are abroad, according to the decree. It does not include defectors who have fought against the government.

Syrian men over 18 must serve in the army for two years unless they are university graduates, who are required to serve 18 months. Desertion and draft dodging carry stiff punishments, including years of imprisonment, extension of military service and fines.

Elie Samaan, an official with the Reconciliation Ministry, said the amnesty helps deserters and draft dodgers by canceling punishment, but that military service is still required.

“Soldiers who deserted or those who avoided conscription often send relatives to the ministry asking for a special clemency. Now there’s no need for that,” Samaan said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Tens of thousands of security personnel deserted after war started in Syria in early 2011. Army and intelligence officers would post a declaration of defection on social media sites such as YouTube, often announcing they had joined the opposition’s nascent insurgency under the banner of the Free Syrian Army or Islamist factions.

As army casualties mounted and people fled the violence, the government intensified its recruitment drives: It placed billboards exhorting people to join the fight, created all-volunteer paramilitary groups as well as privately funded militias and set up road checkpoints to ensnare draft dodgers. It also kept troops fighting well beyond the two-year period.

Fighting-age men in Syria, fearing that enlistment would be effectively a death sentence, would pay thousands of dollars to be smuggled out of the country or have their names expunged from recruitment lists.

Many of those who couldn’t afford to pay to leave the country would join paramilitary groups or live in hiding, and men living abroad often stayed away for fear of being caught.

— Los Angeles Times