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Net Neutrality Gets an Official Death Date—Senate Expected to Save It

May 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Joan McCarter, Daily Kos

The lawmakers are racing the clock.


It's a big week for net neutrality. The FCC announced Thursday that it's going to end on June 11, to the dismay of the Democratic members of the commission.

“The agency failed to listen to the American public and gave short shrift to their deeply held belief that internet openness should remain the law of the land,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said Thursday. “The FCC is on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American people.”

The Senate, however, is set to vote as soon as next week to restore those net neutrality rules.

According to Reuters, all of the chamber’s 47 Democrats, the two independents who caucus with the party and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) are expected to support the measure. That would outvote the remaining Republican senators, who are down one vote as Sen. John McCain of Arizona remains on medical absence. Potentially, other moderate Republicans could join Collins and back the effort.

Momentum coming out of the Senate could potentially help net neutrality in the House, but that's a hard sell given Speaker Paul Ryan's refusal to go against the Trump administration on everything. However, there's also that little matter of what looks exactly like a bribe that AT&T paid to Michael Cohen for unknown services after Trump's election. That transaction has been investigated by the Mueller team and should be examined by the Justice Department, say Democratic Sens. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. The payments came as the administration was considering two critical issues to AT&T—their merger with Time Warner and net neutrality—and that looks pretty rotten.

“I think it ought to be a topic for the judiciary committee in connection with its continuing investigation, which I hope will review not only those payments, but also those payments that may well have been used to influence the president of the United States,” Blumenthal said.

 

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Ex-CIA Chief John Brennan Reveals How North Korea's Kim Jong-un 'Duped Trump'

May 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The former intelligence agency head says Kim has been “masterful” in his manipulation.


Former CIA Director John Brennan threw cold water on anyone celebrating the progress President Donald Trump has made toward peace with North Korea in recent months, arguing that despite appearances of improved relations, the president is being manipulated by Kim Jong-un.

“We are now on the eve of a summit meeting between the president of the United States, the most powerful person in the world, and Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, who is a bloody and murderous despot, who has wanted to have the world stage before with an American president,” Brennan said to MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace on “Deadline: White House.”

“And what has he actually given for that?” he asked. “Well, over the last year and a half or so, he accelerated the program. He has now conducted six nuclear tests. He says he's going to dismantle the nuclear test site — well it has collapsed, by reports. So I think he has very smartly — and very masterfully… escalated and saber-rattled so that he could then switch and appear much more accommodating and present a more peaceful face.”

He continued: “And now we've gone from Mr. Trump calling him 'rocket man' and 'sick puppy' to calling him 'honorable' and 'nice' … Kim Jong-un, who I despise because of the brutality he has put upon the North Korean people, unfortunately, I think he has been masterful in how he has manipulated perceptions and how he has manipulated — and quite frankly, duped — Mr. Trump.”

He said the chance of the meeting resulting in de-nuclearization of the peninsula is less than .1 percent. 

Watch the clip below:

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How Royal Portraits Could Make or Break an Engagement

May 10, 2018 in History

By Hadley Meares

German artist Hans Holbein. (Credit: The Print Collector/Getty Images)

For much of their courtship, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s romance spanned an ocean. Although they are from different countries and radically different backgrounds—one a British royal, the other an American actress—modern travel and technology made their trans-Atlantic romance possible.

It wasn’t always so easy for royals to find matches—or even to see each other in the flesh before their wedding day. Until the advent of photography and advanced transportation, royals looking for a spouse had to rely on portraits and oral reports about their prospective mates. Marriage was a form of diplomacy, tying royal families together politically—often from afar.

“The prospective couple would often be in different countries, with marriage negotiations conducted by proxies,” explains Dr. Susan Foister, Deputy Director and Curator of Early Netherlandish, German and British Paintings at the National Gallery in London. “Portraiture was a vital tool to ensure that a stranger marrying into the royal line was sufficiently personable for royal status, and full-length portraits and full-face images were thought desirable, at least by the English, so any disfigurement could not be hidden.”

This was a big concern, as royal portraits supplied by the potential bride or groom’s own artist often exaggerated the attractiveness of the sitter. In 1795, the future Queen Caroline of England spoke for generations of disappointed royals upon first meeting her fiancé, the Prince of Wales. “I find him very fat, and by no means as beautiful as his portrait.”

Rulers were fully aware of the propaganda value of court portraiture (see, for example, artists’ attempts to soften and disguise the attributes of Spain’s Charles II, who lived with a number of physical issues as the result of inbreeding). To make sure the likeness of a potential mate was accurate, some European royals—almost exclusively male—resorted to sending their own trusted artists on missions to capture the likeness of their potential betrothed as early as the Middle Ages.

“In 1384, the French king [Charles VI]’s advisors sent an artist to Scotland to create an image of Egidia, daughter of Robert II, but before the painter arrived, she had already married a countryman,” historian Retha Warnicke writes in The Marrying of Anne of Cleves. “Artists next traveled to Bavaria, Austria, and Lorraine and, after viewing the miniatures they painted, 17-year-old Charles was said to have fallen in love with 14-year-old Isabella of Bavaria, whom he wed in 1385.”

In 1428, the legendary Flemish painter Jan Van Eyck traveled …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Rapper Ice Cube Claims Qatari Government Tried to Bribe Him for Access to Steve Bannon

May 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Elizabeth Preza, AlterNet

The bizarre bribery plot includes the promise of a $20.5 million investment in Ice Cube's basketball team.


Rapper O'Shea Jackson Sr. (“Ice Cube”) claims that a Qatari investor tried to bribe him for access to Steve Bannon, the Daily Mail reports.

The bizarre allegations, detailed in a $1.2 billion lawsuit filed on behalf of Jackson and his business partner Jeff Kwatinetz, claim that the Qatari government tried to bribe Jackson and Kwatinetz with financial support to their BIG3 basketball league in exchange for access to the former White House chief strategist. According to court documents, Kwatinetz and Bannon are “friends.”

Jackson and Kwatinetz said the investor, Ahmed al-Rumaihi, promised to give $20.5 million to the BIG3 league—but only paid $7.5 million. The paid argue the real goal was to “get positive public relations for Qatar.”

By Kwatinetz’s account, al Rumaihi made a partial payment to the league before “persistently [inquiring] about wanting to meet with Mr. Bannon.” According to the lawsuit, after Bannon was fired from his job at far-right website Breitbart in January, the Qatari investor wanted to speak with the former Donald Trump aide and offer to “underwrite all of his political efforts in return for his support.”

He asked Kwatinetz to set up the meeting so he could “convey a message from the Qatari Government to Steve Bannon.”

“Mr. Al-Rumaihi requested I set up a meeting between him, the Qatari government, and Steven Bannon, and to tell Steve Bannon that Qatar would underwrite all of his political efforts in return for his support,” Kwatinetz told the Daily Mail. He said he rejected the offer and was “appalled” by the notion of a bribe,

Kwatinetz also claims the Qatari invoked former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

“Mr. Al-Rumahi laughed and then stated to me that I shouldn't be naive, that so many Washington politicians take our money, and stated 'do you think [Michael] Flynn turned down our money?’' Kwatinetz recounted.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Homeland Security Secretary Almost Quit Because Trump 'Berated' Her in Front of the Entire Cabinet: Report

May 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The report from the New York Times shows the president's harsh way of dealing with even his top appointees.


Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen nearly quit her post after President Donald Trump “berated” her during a Cabinet meeting, according to a report Thursday from the New York Times citing multiple anonymous sources.

The report fits in with a series of stories suggesting that the president has a temper when dealing with his subordinates, even when they hold top appointed positions. According to the report, Nielsen drafted a resignation letter but did not submit following Trump's accusation that she has not adequately protected the U.S. border.

In a statement, press secretary Sarah Sanders told the Times simply that the president is “committed to fixing our broken immigration system,” while the Department of Homeland Security offered no comment.

The Times says that Trump has become increasingly angered about the border because after unauthorized crossings fell during his first year in office, they rose again in his second. This increase robbed “the president of one of his favorite talking points,” according to the report.

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Source: ALTERNET

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North Carolina Police Officer Chokes and Slams Black Man to Ground for Arguing with Waffle House Employee

May 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Travis Gettys, Raw Story

Yet another appalling display of unnecessary force.


A North Carolina police officer put a black man wearing a tuxedo into a chokehold — and then slammed him to the ground — during a violent Waffle House arrest.

Police were called to the Warsaw restaurant Saturday after 22-year-old Anthony Wall got into an argument with some of the servers, reported WTVD-TV.

Wall was at the restaurant after taking his 16-year-old sister to her school’s prom.

Video of the incident shows an officer put Wall into a chokehold against the restaurant’s exterior glass panels, and then slammed the young man onto the sidewalk outside Waffle House.

Wall was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, but he said he only fought back out of instinct to preserve his life.

“I was pretty much trying to scream for air and trying to breathe because he was holding my throat, and that’s when I got aggressive with him because you are choking me,” Wall told the TV station.

Wall accepts the blame for his interactions with Waffle House employees, but he said the officer’s violent actions were unjustified.

“Your hands should have never been around my neck like that if my hands were in the air,” Wall said.
Police have not released the officer’s name, and they said the incident remains under investigation.

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Source: ALTERNET

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The Chernobyl Cover-Up: How Officials Botched Evacuating an Irradiated City

May 10, 2018 in History

By Serhii Plokhy

A helicopter 'bomb run' on the damaged Chernobyl reactor (visible in the background). During the first days after the explosion, helicopter pilots dropped thousands of tons of sand, clay, boron and lead into the opening created in the roof of the reactor by the explosion, exposing themselves to extremely high levels of radiation. May 1986 (Credit: Igor Kostin/Sputnik Images)

History Reads is a weekly series featuring work from Team History, a group of experts and influencers, exploring history’s most fascinating questions.

In the early hours of April 26, 1986, the world witnessed the worst nuclear catastrophe in history. A reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in northern Ukraine exploded, spreading radioactive clouds all over Europe and a large part of the globe. In all, 50 million curies of radiation were released into the atmosphere—the equivalent of 500 Hiroshima bombs. In this exclusive excerpt from Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe, we witness the dramatic exodus from Prypiat, a city of 50,000 located a few miles from the damaged reactor.

The call came around 5:00 a.m. on April 26, awakening the most powerful man in the land, the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. The message: There had been an explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, but the reactor was intact. “In the first hours and even the first day after the accident there was no understanding that the reactor had exploded and that there had been a huge nuclear emission into the atmosphere,” remembered Gorbachev later. He saw no need to awaken other members of the Soviet leadership or interrupt the weekend by calling an emergency session of the Politburo. Instead, Gorbachev approved the creation of a state commission to look into the causes of the explosion and deal with its consequences.

Boris Shcherbina, deputy head of the Soviet government and chairman of the high commission, was summoned from a business trip to Siberia and sent to Ukraine. He arrived in Prypiat, the town that housed the construction workers and operators of the nuclear plant, around 8:00 p.m. on April 26, more than 18 hours after the explosion. By that time very little had been done to deal with the consequences of the disaster, as no one in the local Soviet hierarchy dared to take responsibility for declaring the reactor dead. Shcherbina began a brainstorming session.

Only then did everyone accept what had been unthinkable only hours earlier: A meltdown had occurred, and the reactor’s core was damaged, spreading radioactivity all over the place.

A helicopter ‘bomb run’ on the damaged Chernobyl reactor (visible in the background). During the first days after the explosion, helicopter pilots dropped thousands of tons of sand, clay, boron and lead …read more

Source: HISTORY

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How ‘Deep Throat’ Took Down Nixon From Inside the FBI

May 10, 2018 in History

By Annette McDermott

G. Gordon Liddy. (Credit: AP Photo)

Former FBI deputy director William Mark Felt, Sr., then age 91, broke his 30-year silence and confirmed in June 2005 that he was “Deep Throat,” the anonymous government source who had leaked crucial information to Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, which helped take down President Richard M. Nixon during the Watergate scandal.

Watergate began in June 1972 when five robbers linked to Nixon’s re-election campaign were caught red-handed wiretapping phones and stealing documents inside the Democratic National Committee’s office in Washington, D.C.’s Watergate office complex.

Nixon—who denied involvement or knowledge of the incident—then participated in an extensive cover-up.

Throughout the 1972 election campaign and beyond, Deep Throat fed Woodward and Bernstein a steady flow of information which exposed Nixon’s knowledge of the scandal.

G. Gordon Liddy. (Credit: AP Photo)

G. Gordon Liddy connived the Watergate break-in.

The idea to break into the Democratic National Committee’s office and tap their phones was the brainchild of G. Gordon Liddy, Finance Counsel for the Committee for the Reelection of the President (CRP). He took his plan to White House Counsel John Dean and Attorney General John Mitchell, who approved a smaller-scale version of the idea.

The initial break-in and wiretapping went without a hitch; however, when the burglars returned to the scene of the crime to fix some broken wiretaps on June 17, 1972, they were caught red-handed and arrested.

After the arrests, Liddy and his accomplices scrambled to destroy evidence as the Nixon propaganda machine went into full gear. They vehemently denied they, the President or anyone in the White House were involved with the break-in, even though a $25,000 check allotted for Nixon’s campaign mysteriously ended up in the bank account of a real estate firm owned by one of the robbers.


Mark Felt posing for a picture with his pistol drawn for a newspaper story in 1958. (Credit: Howard Moore/Deseret Morning News/Getty Images)

‘Deep Throat’ was No. 2 at the FBI.

At the time of the break-in, Felt was second-in-command at the FBI and in charge of day-to-day operations. He was essentially point man for the FBI investigation into the crime.

Felt and his staff interviewed dozens of CRP members, but the meetings were also attended by White House lawyers. Felt believed transcripts of the interviews were passed on to White House counsel John Dean by acting FBI director Patrick Gray.

Felt knew Nixon was …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Why Are Tourists in Utah Throwing Dino Footprints Into a Lake?

May 10, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

Illustration of a Deinonychus. (Credit: De Agostini Picture Library/Getty Images)

Visitors to Red Fleet State Park are destroying preserved dinosaur footprints, according to officials at the park in Vernal, Utah.

Specifically, officials allege that tourists have been removing pieces of sandstone imprinted with prehistoric dino tracks and throwing them into a nearby lake, potentially shattering or dissolving the artifacts. Though officials say tourists probably don’t always realize the rocks they’re throwing into the lake contain dinosaur footprints, it’s still not clear why they’re dislodging sandstone from a state park and throwing it into a lake in the first place.

Josh Hansen, the park’s manager, told the Salt Lake Tribune that he recently stopped a kid from tossing a red slab with two dinosaur toe-prints into the water. But by the time Hansen reached him, the boy had already thrown multiple tracks in the lake.

The footprints likely come from the three-toed Deinonychus, a dinosaur that Jurassic Park famously mislabeled as a Velociraptor, or “raptor.” These dinos wandered the Earth about 120 to 110 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous Period. Only unlike the ones in the movie, they didn’t really spray their prey with venom.

Illustration of a Deinonychus. (Credit: De Agostini Picture Library/Getty Images)

Though the footprints aren’t official designated as fossils, the Utah code treats them as such. This means that visitors who toss them in the water could theoretically receive a felony charge.

Park officials say they are reluctant to go there, hoping instead that they can convince visitors to stop doing this. The park will put up more signs reminding people not to tamper with the site, but is clearly frustrated that people aren’t paying attention to the existing signs that already tell them not to disturb the area.

The park estimates that in the past six months, tourists have removed at least 10 of the larger, more visible dino footprints, which range from 3 to 17 inches long.


Red Fleet State Park in Utah. (Credit: John Roberts/360cities.net/Getty Images)

The issue of tourists tampering with preservation sites is something that many …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Why Martha Washington Was the Ultimate Military Spouse

May 10, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Washington's Headquarters in Valley Forge. (Credit: The New York Public Library)

Life as a military spouse can be lonely, anxious, and filled with social pressure. But where do those high expectations come from? Military spouses have long been expected to make sacrifices for their country—and Martha Washington, the first First Lady, helped set the tone nearly 250 years ago.

Like other upper-class white women of her day, Martha was expected to raise children, oversee her massive staff of slaves and servants, and receive her husband’s guests. But when George Washington took command of the Continental Army, her life changed irrevocably. She did not know it, but her husband would be gone for eight long years as the army struggled to defeat the larger and more technologically advanced British army.

Today, many military members’ deployments are overseas, but George was deployed nearby. Martha followed him to camp, and they spent about half of the war together.

Washington’s Headquarters in Valley Forge. (Credit: The New York Public Library)

During the 18th century, war was seasonal, and when autumn came, both armies hunkered down in winter quarters. This gave Martha a chance to see George, and he requested that she visit his winter encampment each year of the war. As the war dragged on, she became a critical comfort to the increasingly unhappy general.

Martha took an active role at camp. She managed food and essentially ran Washington’s headquarters, organizing social events and soothing the tempers of officers and their wives. She comforted not only her husband, but the soldiers she met there.

“I never in my life knew a woman so busy from early morning until latest as was lady Washington,” wrote a woman who visited Valley Forge in 1778. Martha oversaw social events, nursed sick soldiers, acted as a liaison between her husband and other officials, and cheered troops whose prospects of victory looked increasingly bleak.


General Washington and his wife visiting camp at Valley Forge on Christmas Day, 1779. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

She also became the general’s confidante not just in issues of love, but in issues of military strategy. “Martha had more responsibility than the other wives,” notes George Washington’s Mount Vernon. “She was the General’s sounding …read more

Source: HISTORY