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Tiffany Haddish Gives Back, Celebrates Foster Graduates

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Actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish is on a roll, with a string of high profile film and television roles as her career blossoms. But Haddish, 39, remembers tougher times.

When she was younger, she spent time in the foster system, before later becoming homeless. Now, she makes a point of giving back, offering help and encouragement to youth today in the foster and juvenile systems who are going through struggles not unlike what she faced.

“I’m really super proud of you guys,” Haddish said at an event titled “Success is Our Future,” a dinner celebrating the accomplishments of youth in the juvenile and foster systems. 

“I, too, was a former foster youth,” Haddish said. “And I understand the enormity of graduating and being celebrated and want these kids to know there is hope for them.”

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

One of the celebrated graduates on the night said, “I know she was not born with a silver spoon. It makes me proud for me to hear from her, motivate in a positive way.”

NBC Los Angeles is keeping the identities of the honorees confidential as they transition to the next phase of their lives.

“It’s like a restart of everything,” a female honoree said. “Adulthood now.”

“As an adult, I’ve had struggles, but nothing like when I was under 19,” Haddish said.

“It was great that she came here to celebrate foster youth,” Liliana Patty Flores, a foster graduate, said.

Now 23 and a University of California graduate and bound for law school, Flores is a foster success story in her own right, after her struggles began with an abusive environment at home.

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

“You put all these labels on me–delinquent,” Flores said. “I’m more than that.”

Flores found her voice when she was told in a group home that she could not have a hair comb.

“I challenged them, told the judge and he got me a hair comb,” Flores said.

Terri McDonald, the chief probation officer, said, “She’s learning how her message can be used to help the system improve.”

McDonald acknowledges the system has faced criticism–recently vowing to phase out pepper spray discipline in juvenile detention facilities. McDonald cites progress in reducing the number of detained juveniles with an emphasis on community placement, such as the group homes where most of the youth at the dinner have been.

“It was good rehab for me,” Jesse Velazquez, another foster graduate, said. “I learned lots of coping skills.”

Velazquez, who is now 21, is another graduate of the juvenile system and now in his final year at Rio Hondo College, making use of independent living assistance and looking to move on to a four year college to study psychology.

“Right now I’m working hard for scholarship, so more doors can open up,” Valazquez said.

Haddish said, “The system was not that great when I was in, but I had some good people around me.”

Those good people included the counselor who famously steered the young Haddish away from psychiatric therapy and into a comedy camp. Her talent and hard work took over from there.

“If you do something everyday, you can achieve,” Haddish said. “It may not be exactly what you want, but you’re going to achieve it.”

In addition to her time and her words, Haddish also brought some tangibles donated by her She Ready Foundation, including gift cards and suitcases for all of the graduates. More than most, Haddish can appreciate the significance of luggage as someone who knows what it’s like to be 13 and have to carry all her belongings in a trash bag.

“You’re a traveler on an adventure, not garbage,” Haddish said. “Now you have to go somewhere with a purpose.”

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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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