Former U-T reporter pens bio on the incredible life of Black Civil War veteran in new book, ‘The Sergeant’

Shortly after 9/11, a group of Palestinian students had some questions for an American reporter about the lives and history of Muslims in America that sent him on a decadeslong journey, researching and writing about Muslims who had been in the United States since a few years after the Mayflower came ashore, through the American Revolution and the Civil War. Dean Calbreath, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former reporter with The San Diego Union-Tribune, ultimately focused on one man, featured in his new book, “The Sergeant: The Incredible Life of Nicholas Said.”

“Initially, my plan was to do a book about all of these Muslims that I encountered from history. … I actually did a whole anthology of these people that I found, looking for Muslim names,” said Calbreath, who was part of the Pulitzer-winning team that broke the story of former U.S. Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham taking more than $2 million in bribes. One of the names Calbreath searched for was Mohammed, coming across Mohammed Ali ben Said, whose name was later changed to Nicholas. “That’s how I stumbled across his name and immediately felt drawn to him because of his wit, his urbane intelligence and sense of character, and also his love of travel, his love of learning languages. These are things that I also have, and I felt very close to him.”

Said (pronounced Sy-eed) was born in the kingdom of Borno, today known as northern Nigeria, to a famed general in about the 1830s. He was the 13th of his mother’s 19 children, his mother being among the four of his father’s wives. As a young teen, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery, which would eventually lead to his traversing Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States. Here, he would join one of the first

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China’s top diplomat starts weeklong Europe tour in Paris

PARIS (AP) — China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, had talks with French President Emmanuel Macron about the war in Ukraine on Wednesday at the start of his trip to Europe, amid renewed tensions between China and the United States.

Wang, the director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, met with Macron behind closed doors at the Elysee Palace.

Macron’s office said they especially discussed the consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine on the world’s most vulnerable nations regarding food security and financing capacities. They expressed “the same objective of contributing to peace in line with international law,” the statement said.

Macron also detailed the goals of a summit focusing on preserving forests that France will co-preside in Libreville, Gabon, on March 2, amid other climate-related issues, his office said.

Wang later met with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna. He is scheduled on Thursday to participate in a session of the French-Chinese strategic dialogue with Macron’s top diplomatic adviser to discuss bilateral projects.

The French capital is the first stop on Wang’s tour of Europe. In the coming days, he will also travel to Italy, Hungary, Russia and Germany. He is expected to deliver a speech at the Munich Security Conference that starts on Friday.

Wang’s weeklong tour of Europe is seen as part of China’s efforts to restore ties with European nations at a time of rising tensions between the world’s two largest economies — China and the United States — following the U.S. shooting down of a suspected Chinese spy balloon earlier this month.

The trip comes amid China’s persistent efforts to push back against Western pressure on trade, technology, human rights and its claims to a broad swath of the western Pacific. China’s refusal to condemn the invasion of Ukraine nearly a year ago,

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Turkish foreign minister set to visit the United States this week

Turkey and the United States will aim to smooth out a series of disagreements between the NATO allies when the Turkish foreign minister visits Washington this week. But expectations that outstanding issues can be resolved are low.

Mevlut Cavusoglu departs on Tuesday for a meeting on Wednesday with U.S. counterpart Antony Blinken on a rare visit by a top Turkish official. U.S. President Joe Biden ’s administration has kept its distance from Turkey because of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ’s increasingly authoritarian direction and policies curbing rights and freedoms.

Positioned at the crossroads between East and West, Turkey remains strategically important for Washington. Last year, the Turkish government helped broker a crucial agreement between Russia and Ukraine that allowed millions of tons of Ukrainian grain to be transported to world markets, averting a food crisis amid the war.

NATO allies, however, frequently find themselves at odds over a number of issues, with the biggest disputes centering on Turkey’s purchase of Russian-made missiles and American support for Kurdish militants in Syria.

The acquisition of the S-400 air defense system in 2017 led to sanctions and Turkey being removed from the development program for the next-generation F-35 fighter plane. After losing out on the F-35, Ankara is currently trying to restock its F-16 fleet. But the deal faces opposition in Congress.


Cavusoglu sounded confident this week that the deal for the purchase of 40 F-16 jets as well as technology for the update of its existing fleet would overcome congressional hurdles.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, right, plans to visit the United States this week. Cavusoglu will meet with White House officials in an attempt to smooth over issues the two countries may have.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, right, plans to visit the United States this week. Cavusoglu will meet with White House officials in an attempt to smooth over issues the two countries may have.
(AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru, File)

“We have reached

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How it happened: Zelensky’s surprise visit to DC was months in the making

In previous calls, Zelenskyy had indicated to Biden and other senior officials that the United States was the first country he wanted to visit when the time was right for him to travel, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the conversations. So in a Dec. 11 phone call between the two leaders, Biden reiterated the invitation.

This time, Zelenskyy told Biden, was the right time.

“I really wanted to come earlier. Mr. President knows about it, but I couldn’t do it because the situation was so difficult,” Zelenskyy said from the Oval Office on Wednesday. The trip could happen now, the Ukrainian leader said, because “we controlled the situation and … first of all, because of your support.”

The behind-the-scenes details of Zelenskyy’s surprise visit to Washington were described by an aide to Pelosi, a U.S. official and a senior administration official, all of whom requested anonymity to describe planning for the secret trip. Once the wheels of planning started to roll, Zelenskyy’s 10-hour visit — which packed in an Oval Office meeting with Biden, a joint news conference at the White House and an address to a largely supportive Congress — came together quickly.

After the two presidents discussed the trip on Dec. 11, the White House extended a formal invite on Dec. 14, according to the senior administration official. Zelenskyy accepted the invitation on Friday, and the visit was confirmed two days later, at which point White House officials notified Pelosi’s office of the Ukrainian leader’s travel plans.

“I’m delighted you were able to make the trip to be here,” Biden told Zelenskyy on Wednesday. “It’s an honor to be by your side in united defense against what is a brutal, brutal war being waged by Putin.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses a joint meeting of
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U.S. Offers Employees Less Paid Leave Than Most Countries Around the World

Americans are offered fewer paid leave and vacation days than most of the world according to a new analysis.

While many countries are mandating paid leave including holidays and sick days, the United States is still the only developed country with no statutory paid leave, with only the Pacific Island countries of Micronesia, Kiribati and Nauru offering the same.

Resume building website analyzed paid leave laws in 197 countries around the world and found that the U.S. offered the second least amount of paid vacation time, with an average of 10 days, as well as the fewest days of paid leave.

Although 82 percent of Americans prioritize paid leave as an important benefit, only 35 percent of U.S. organizations offered paid maternity leave in 2022, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Man sleeping while trying to work
Analysis of paid leave in 197 countries found the U.S. offers the least amount of paid holidays and leave.

A study conducted by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), found that while 77 percent of private sector workers received paid sick leave, about 59 percent of workers in service jobs had access.

The study also found that the highest-wage workers are about three times more likely to have access to paid sick leave than the lowest-wage workers.

To determine which countries offer the most paid leave, analyzed paid leave and holiday laws in 197 countries. The countries were then ranked based on the combined number of paid leave and paid public holidays per year.

Out of all 197 countries, Iran was ranked as the number one country for both paid public holidays and vacation days. In total, Iran offers employees 27 paid holidays and 26 paid leave days.

The company also found that 23 countries offered 30 days of

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Take a Mental Vacation This Weekend

We all know that we work too much in the United States.

The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world without a minimum annual leave for workers—a minimum number of paid vacation days in a year granted to employees.1.

The average American worker toiled for 1,791 hours in 2021.2 This was 428 hours more than the average worker in Denmark and 442 hours more than a worker in Germany. In 2021, we worked, on average, 184 more hours than a worker in Japan and 195 more hours than a worker in… Slovenia. I don’t know about you, but these numbers surprised me. I am not sure how many hours I was expecting someone in Slovenia to work, but I sure am jealous of their work-life balance over there. All I know is that a small part of each of us likely dies inside when we take stock of these comparisons.

There is a laundry list of problems with our work culture: lack of a national paid parental leave benefit, stigma around using vacation and sick days, the systematic undervaluing and under-compensating of professions like teaching, etc. It could be easy to become bitter and cynical and… stop there, but that is not what a reader of Psychology Today is about, right? What can we do?

Treat Your Weekend Like a Vacation

A group of researchers wanted to see if prompting employees on a Friday to “treat this weekend like a vacation” would allow them to enjoy their time off more and be more emotionally and mentally refreshed upon going back to work the following Monday compared to being prompted to “treat this weekend like a regular weekend.”3 They surveyed 441 full-time employees before and after the following weekend and found that workers who

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4 cities in Florida to visit this fall

Looking to book an upcoming escape from falling temperatures? Head to Florida!

Florida has long been known as a retirement or “snowbird” state due to its great weather, low turnover, and tax-friendliness—there is no state income tax. However, Florida is also a great state to road trip through. Besides its desirable weather, the ”Sunshine State” has a ridiculous amount of attractions and things to do—so many that you might reconsider why you’ve been living life elsewhere.

Florida travel

Photo: AdobeStock

Take the wonderful world of Walt Disney, for instance, or the Wynwood district in Miami. What about the very tip of the United States, known as the Florida Keys? They’re so picturesque they could be mistaken for snapshots from Tahiti. There is a lot to explore in this state, so we arranged a list of four cities you should visit in Florida, what to do, and where to stay and eat. After enjoying these attractions, you may be tempted to become a resident.


Jacksonville, Fla. is one of those places that has so much to offer you may see little need to travel outside city limits. With flight options straight into Jacksonville International Airport, the city is less congested than perhaps Miami or Fort Lauderdale and a superb place to start your journey. As one of the first major cities you will come across when traveling through Northeast Florida, “Jax” is also the twelfth most populous city in the United States, with lots of restaurants, beaches, art, and culture to indulge in.

Lodging: When choosing where to stay, consider One Ocean Resort & Spa for its immediate proximity to the beach, full-service, in-house spa, and nearby city fun that includes restaurants, yoga studios, and shopping galore.

Dine:  For a quick breakfast bite, try Homespun Kitchen smoothies, teas, and

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Bayern Munich Concludes US Tour At Historic Lambeau Field With Plenty To Ponder

Bayern Munich has concluded their 2022 US Audi Summer Tour with a 0-1 defeat to Manchester City at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. It was the first soccer game at the historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

A capacity crowd of 78,128 saw a game interrupted twice due to heavy thundershowers in the area. First, kickoff was delayed by 15 minutes. Then, 12 minutes in, Erling Haaland scored what would be the game’s only goal. Moments later, the game was again delayed, this time by 45 minutes.

With Bayern having to jet back that evening to Munich, the game was shortened to two times 40 minutes. Perhaps it was the delays and the many substitutions throughout the game, but neither side managed to create many high-scoring chances, and the match ended 1-0.

For Bayern, who had previously defeated D.C. United 6-2 at Audi Field in Washington, the result would be secondary anyhow. Instead, this tour was about two things, getting the squad ready for the post-Lewandowski era and recapturing the American audience after two years in which teams could not travel due to COVID-19.

At an event before the game, Bayern’s executive board member Andreas Jung pointed out that there are 130 million active football fans in the United States. More importantly, 25 million people in the US play soccer, and 18 million of them are under 18. Jung is in charge of sponsorship and events, brand management, new media and IT, merchandising and licenses, international relations, and marketing.

Those numbers are a crucial reasons for Bayern to continue to push for a bigger presence in

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Why is travel so hard, and what could make it better?

By Harry Enten, CNN

    (CNN) — I haven’t been on a vacation in 10 years. Part of the reason, admittedly, is I’m a workaholic. The other part is I hate flying. I despise the lines, the cramped seats, the security — all of it feels like a giant waste of time.

Usually, I keep these feelings to myself. (Who needs to hear me complain more than I already do?)

But then I read a statistic that sort of blew my mind. Despite all the incessant coverage about air travel, pre-pandemic polling showed that a majority of Americans don’t fly every year. Now, even fewer people fly.

Some of them probably hate to fly like me. This got me thinking — is there a better way to travel?

I decided to explore solutions in the latest episode of my podcast, “Margins of Error.”

I started by looking at the way we board an airplane. We spend so much time doing it. Most airlines use something called block boarding, which means boarding front to back or back to front. There is also the window, middle, aisle method. Southwest Airlines, on the other hand, reportedly has the fastest boarding process of any major airline by allowing people to claim the first available seat.

It turns out, however, that there is a faster way. It’s called the steffen-perfect-airplane-boarding-cgp-grey/”Steffen Method, named after its creator, Jason Steffen, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas physics professor.

He came up with a model that accounts for how and where we stow our baggage when finding a seat.

“You want adjacent passengers in line to have their seat assignments spread all throughout the airplane so that when one person comes to stop at their row, the next person behind them is able

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