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Eurovision 2019: Israel Set to Host Song Contest Amid Pro-Palestinian Protests

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Millions across the world will tune into the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel on Saturday for their annual fix of the camp and colorful musical spectacle.

Israel is hosting because singer Netta won last year’s instalment of the competition renowned for its inclusive message, while Tel Aviv is known as a popular destination for LGBTQ tourists.

But while Eurovision unfolds, an alternative show will be held at venues across the globe as part of an effort to protest this year’s host and support Palestinian artists, NBC News reported.

The international Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement says the contest “distracts attention” from Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. 

The competition comes just weeks after deadly exchanges on the border, with a cease-fire bringing a temporary halt to mounting tensions.

Daily life for most of the Gaza strip’s 2 million residents has become increasingly difficult, with almost no clean water and unreliable access to electricity.

“Eurovision in apartheid Tel Aviv is cynically used by Israel’s far-right government to artwash, or whitewash through art, its decades-old regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid against the indigenous Palestinian people,” said Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, in an email to NBC News. 

Activists are instead encouraging music fans to tune into Globalvision — a performance highlighting Palestinian musicians, filmmakers and comedians — that will be broadcast at the same time as Eurovision on Saturday.

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‘Grab a Cocktail, Hang Out With a Rat’: San Francisco Dungeon Brings Live Rats to Pop-Up Bar

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In a dimly lit basement room on Fisherman’s Wharf, well-fed rats are scurrying around, their hairless tails trailing behind them as they pick up and eat individual pieces of breakfast cereal and glance around with their beady eyes.

In almost all cases, this would be cause for a San Francisco business to get an untimely visit from the city’s health department. But for four nights at the San Francisco Dungeon, these rats are the main attraction — and the health department says it’s A-OK.


Look, Ma, no fur! Pet rats can have coats of all different colors, or no coat at all. For visitors already timid about rats, greeting this hairless wrinkly rodent required extra courage.

Photo credit: Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area

“These are not wild rats,” explained Jennifer Paz, who runs Vallejo-based Ratical Rodent Rescue. “You can’t just go start picking up a wild rat and be like, ‘Here, take this treat from me!'”

Though genetically identical, the rats scampering around and climbing up visitors’ arms are called “fancy rats” — the kind that are bred by humans and kept as pets. These rats in particular, Paz said, are trained to be docile and friendly for animal education events like this one.


Rat rescuers call the little animals “dogs for your hands” because of their loyalty and intelligence. But they can also balance like cats, and love to hang out on a shoulder.

Photo credit: Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area

“They’re smart and they do tricks, and you can train ’em and you can do all kinds of stuff with ’em,” she said, laughing and nuzzling a furry brown rat that stayed perched on her shoulder throughout our interview.

The San Francisco Dungeon is a live-actor tourist experience that explores the dark, seedy side of the City by the Bay during the gold rush years. Two years ago, the Dungeon hosted a weekend pop-up “rat cafe,” complete with coffee and pastries, that sold out in 45 minutes. The Rat Bar is version 2.0, now with a liquor license, extended evening hours and a signature cocktail dubbed the “ama-rat-to sour.” It’s garnished with a startlingly realistic rat’s tail (though we have it on good authority it’s not actually from a rat).


The Rat Bar’s signature cocktail, the ama-rat-to sour, is garnished with a rat tail. But don’t worry, it’s 100% vegetarian.

Photo credit: Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area

“Nobody wants to mix food and rats and drinks,” explained Dungeon marketing director Jennifer Edwards in the dimly-lit room decorated with faux rat skeletons and wood shavings.

That’s why the rats are downstairs and the drinks are upstairs, she said — with clearly-marked hand sanitizing stations in between.


There are no actual rats allowed in the area where food and drinks are served — but visitors can raise a glass with these spooky rat skeletons before sanitizing their hands and heading back downstairs to play with the real rodents.

Photo credit: Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area

Rats are polarizing creatures: adorable to some, positively repulsive to others.

“When humans have had to deal with wild rats, it’s always in a negative light,” Paz explained. “They’re always stealing their food or destroying something in their house.”


Though they look a lot like their wild counterparts, experts say pet rats clean themselves even more often than cats do, and aren’t known to carry diseases.

Photo credit: Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area

Rats have a reputation for being able to chew through just about anything — wood, electrical wires, even glass — but the pet variety is often content to chew on a single Cheerio.

“They’re perfect little donuts for their little hands,” Paz said.

Ratical Rodent Rescue has over 150 domesticated rats available for adoption — animals Paz said make great pets despite their all-too-short lifespan of 2 to 3 years. And just like the rats themselves, the pop-up Rat Bar is also short-lived: It’s only around through Saturday, June 15.

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What to See at the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library from “The Daily Show”

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Where the forefathers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay wrote anonymous essays and Franklin Delano Roosevelt led fireside chats, President Donald Trump’s preferred way of communicating directly with his fellow Americans is through tweets.

The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library, pulled together by “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah,” is dedicated to some of the 180 to 280 character messages that shook the world (or, at least, the Twitterverse).

True to “The Daily Show’s” cheeky style — and clear animus to Trump — organizers promised attendees “the library in DC will feature visual installations and a fully interactive, hands-on experience for hands of all sizes.”

The library has already made appearances in several cities and opened on Friday — Trump’s birthday. It’s open through Sunday.

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Bella Thorne Posts Topless Photos of Herself She Says a Hacker Threatened to Release

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Actress Bella Thorne posted topless photos of herself on Twitter Saturday that she said a hacker threatened to release, NBC News reports. Thorne, 21, tweeted screenshots of text messages that contained the topless photos, writing, “I’m putting this out because it’s my decision.”

She alleged a hacker sent her her own photos as well as photos of other celebrities. In a statement posted to her Twitter account, Thorne wrote that she was threatened for 24 hours with her “own nudes.”

“I feel gross, I feel watched, I feel someone has taken something from me that I only wanted one special person to see,” she wrote, adding that she was releasing the images to reclaim her power.

Thorne is a former Disney Channel star who has also appeared in films, including “Blended” and “Assassination Nation.”

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