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CNN's Jake Tapper Unloads On Trump White House For Ignoring 'A Tenant of Human Decency' By Attacking McCain

May 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Elizabeth Preza, AlterNet

The host of “The Lead” expressed disbelief over the White House's continued support for communications aide Kelly Sadler.


CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday unloaded on the White House’s refusal to apologize for an aide’s joke about Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), arguing press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is neglecting “a tenant of human decency” but refuse to condemn the comment.

“This is a very distressing week for the McCain family,” Tapper said on CNN’s “The Lead.”

“The very fact that a White House aide would make a joke about a war hero and former Republican presidential nominee John McCain who is dying of brain cancer, and not only has she not apologized, but nobody at the White House has apologized—I don't even understand the way of thinking about this,” Tapper continued.

The CNN host said regardless of whether or not the staffer, Kelly Sadler, should lose her job as a communications aide to President Donald Trump, the issue is one of decency.

“There is just a tenant of human decency of the press secretary coming out, which she has not done, and [saying], ‘That was a horrible comment and we're shocked and stunned and it shouldn't have happened, our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to the John McCain family.”

“Why is that so difficult?” he asked.

Watch the video below, via CNN:

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Source: ALTERNET

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Judge Slaps Down Paul Manafort's Challenge to Mueller Indictment: 'Falls Squarely' Within His Authority

May 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The judge made it clear that the scope of special counsel Robert Mueller's authority is wide.


U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson on Tuesday denied President Donald Trump's one-time campaign chairman Paul Manafort in his request to dismiss the charges brought against him by the special counsel.

Jackson ordered that Robert Mueller's authority under the special counsel guidelines is wide enough to cover investigation of Manafort, given he was Trump's campaign chairman. She cites the instructions drafted for Mueller by Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein, which instruct the special counsel to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign.”

She writes:

Manafort was, at one time, not merely “associated with,” but the chairman of, the Presidential campaign, and his work on behalf of the Russia-backed Ukrainian political party and connections to other Russian figures are matters of public record. It was logical and appropriate for investigators tasked with the investigation of “any links” between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign to direct their attention to him.

But her ruling is even stronger than that. She goes on to say: “[Even] if one posits that the scrutiny of Manafort’s alleged activities on behalf of Ukraine did not flow from the investigation of 'links' to Russia that was assigned to the Special Counsel, and that instead, it was a 'matter that arose' from that investigation, the indictment should not be dismissed.”

This reading constitutes a grant of wide authority to Mueller's team, suggesting that any other attempts to challenge his jurisdiction will face significant hurdles.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Professional Anti-LGBT Bigot Tony Perkins Appointed to U.S. Religious Freedom Commission

May 15, 2018 in Blogs

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

The independent body has a history of advancing the agenda of America's Evangelical Christian movement.


Family Research Council president Tony Perkins has just been appointed to a two-year term on a federal government commission tasked with investigating and reporting on international religious freedoms violations.

Perkins will be a commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent body that has a history of advancing the agenda of America's Evangelical Christian movement.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the appointment of Perkins to the USCIRF, according to a statement from FRC.

Perkins for decades has headed the Family Research Council, a far right wing faith-based organization that appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of active anti-gay hate groups. He and his organization have a long history of spreading false information about LGBTQ people.

 

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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North Korea Threatens to Abandon Summit With Trump Over U.S.-South Korea Military Drills

May 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The regime has already suspended talks with South Korea, according to multiple reports.


President Donald Trump's planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may be in peril as the regime has reportedly abandoned talks with South Korea and is threatening to scuttle the summit with the United States over ongoing military drills. 

Talks between North and South Korea were planned for Wednesday, local time, but the South Korean outlet Yonhap reports that those meetings were abruptly canceled Wednesday morning.

North Korea's state-run media reportedly called the joint U.S.-South Korean military drills a provocation, despite the fact that the continuation of these operations had been reported as a precondition of further talks by the South Korean national security adviser in March. Because of these “provocations,” the North Korean regime may cancel the summit planned with Trump, which has been widely hailed as a major step forward in diplomatic relations between the two countries. Some, however, have warned that the Kim regime may have more nefarious motives than was initially apparent.

“This exercise targeting us, which is being carried out across South Korea, is a flagrant challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean Peninsula,” the North Korean Central News Agency said in a report, according to the Washington Post.

It continued: “The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities.”

Trump announced last week that the upcoming summit with the North Korean leader was scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Trump Makes Clear That His Administration's Real National Security Policy Is China First

May 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos

Weird annunciation aside, the president appears to be a huge fan of the nation he bashed on the campaign trail.


The nation's top counterintelligence official warned the Senate Intelligence panel Tuesday that Chinese telecom giant ZTE presents a major national security risk, starting with U.S. consumers. NBC News writes:

Under questioning by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., [Bill] Evanina said U.S. intelligence agencies are on record as assessing that Chinese telecommunication firms are used as a vehicle by the Chinese government to conduct espionage.

And, answering a question from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., he said he would never use a ZTE phone.

In February, six intelligence chiefs advised U.S. consumers against buying smart phones produced by Chinese companies, including ZTE specifically, and in April, the Pentagon pulled the phones from the shelves at U.S. military bases.

ZTE is the firm Donald Trump has suddenly taken a personal interest in, fretting over its job losses after his own U.S. Treasury Department slapped sanctions on it just weeks ago. Trump now says he and Chinese President Xi Jinping are “working together” to get ZTE “back into business, fast.” Meanwhile, the Chinese government is pouring $500 million into a Trump Organization real estate development, which accounts for fully one-half of the development's projected budget.

ZTE's emergence on Trump's radar was no accident—it was part of a list of demands China made as Trump officials enter into a second round of bilateral trade talks with the Chinese government.

The Washington Post's Josh Rogin writes:

The Chinese proposal is entitled, “Framework Arrangement on Promoting Balanced Development on Bilateral Trade,” and I obtained an English version of the document, which is the Chinese government’s negotiating position heading into the next round of talks. That round begins this week when Xi Jinping’s special economic envoy Liu He returns to town.

Bullet point 5 is entitled, “Appropriately handling the ZTE case to secure global supply chain.”

“Having noted China’s great concern about the case of ZTE, the U.S. will listen attentively to ZTE’s plea, consider the progress and efforts ZTE has made in compliance management and announce adjustment to the export ban,” the document states.

In negotiating terms, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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What Supreme Court Victory for Sports Gambling Means for Marijuana, Sanctuary Cities

May 15, 2018 in Economics

By Ilya Somin

Ilya Somin

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a 7-2 decision in Murphy v. NCAA, striking down a
federal law that blocks states from legalizing sports gambling under their own
state laws. The ruling is a major victory for federalism, and has
important implications that go beyond the issue of sports
gambling.

Murphy invalidates a provision of the federal Professional and
Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which mandates that states may not
sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or
authorize by law or compact” sports betting. A coalition of sports
leagues, including the NCAA, the NBA, the NFL, and Major League
Baseball, filed a lawsuit arguing that New Jersey’s laws partially
legalizing sports gambling within the state qualifies as
“authorization” and thus violates PASPA. New Jersey argued that
that PASPA violates the “anti-commandeering” principles of the
Tenth Amendment. Under several longstanding
Supreme Court precedents, the Tenth Amendment prevents the federal
government from compelling the states to enforce federal law,
including by forcing state legislatures to enact laws of their own.
The Supreme Court majority ruled that PASPA is unconstitutional.

Murphy v. NCAA shows the
Court is committed to the anti-commandeering principle – the
federal government can’t force states to enforce its
laws.

To get around the anti-commandeering rule, the sports leagues
and the Trump administration claimed that there is a distinction
between commandeering and federal laws blocking “affirmative
authorization” of gambling under state law. By this reasoning,
PASPA is not “commandeering” because it does not prevent complete
legalization of sports gambling. It only bans state laws that
affirmatively authorize gambling in some way, as New Jersey
supposedly does by restricting it to some types of locations and
limiting the range of teams that gamblers can bet on. Writing for a
7-2 Supreme Court majority, Justice Samuel Alito correctly
concluded that “this distinction is empty” because laws
banning affirmative “authorization” still violate “the
basic principle … that Congress cannot issue direct orders to state
legislatures.”

Justice Alito is right. The distinction between legalization and
“authorization” makes little sense, because virtually any law that
legalizes a previously banned activity, but does not completely
abolish all restrictions on it, can be described as affirmative
authorization. A decision upholding PASPA would essentially have
gutted the anti-commandeering rule, as the federal government could
easily get around it by adopting regulations preventing states from
legalizing previously forbidden behavior, so long as the
legalization law did not completely eliminate all legal constraints
on it.

The ruling has obvious implications for sports betting, which states are now largely
free to legalize as they see fit. Many may …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Hidden Pages in Anne Frank’s Diary Deciphered After 75 Years

May 15, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

The diary of Anne Frank. Found in the collection of Anne Frank House Museum, Amsterdam.Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

When Anne Frank was arrested in the “secret annex” she and her family had hidden in between 1942 and 1944, she had to leave her beloved diary behind. She had no idea she would one day become one of the Holocaust’s most famous symbols.

Now, officials from the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam have announced the discovery of two previously unknown pages of her diary—material that reveals an earthier side of its teenage author.

The previously unknown writing was discovered behind brown paper that covers up two pages in Frank’s diary. In 2016, conservators took photos of the condition of the diary during a routine check. This time, advanced imaging technology revealed the text beneath the pages.

The diary of Anne Frank. Found in the collection of Anne Frank House Museum, Amsterdam.Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

Frank apparently began an entry on September 28, 1942, then ruined the pages. “I’ll use this spoiled page to write down ‘dirty’ jokes,” she wrote—then listed four, along with an imagined lesson on sex education and some information on prostitutes. “At the end she explicitly names her father, Otto, who had been in Paris and saw houses with prostitutes,” the Anne Frank House writes.

It’s not clear when Frank wrote each portion of the newly discovered text. Anne herself presumably pasted the paper over the written pages, though it’s not clear when or why. The Anne Frank House did not release the text itself along with the announcement.

At the time, Frank was 12 years old and curious about sex and relationships like other children her age. In her diary, she wrote about other jokes that were sexual in nature, discussed her changing body and menstruation, and explored her own budding sexual feelings toward members of the same and opposite sex.

VIDEO: Anne Frank Though German Jewish teenager Anne Frank did not survive the Holocaust, the memoirs from her two years in hiding live on forever.

Frank’s candid words on sex didn’t make it into the first published diary, which appeared in English in 1952. Though Anne herself edited her diary with an eye to publication, the book—released eight years after her death from typhus in the Bergen-Belsen<span style="font-weight: …read more

Source: HISTORY

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At Stephen Hawking’s Funeral, Time Travelers Welcome

May 15, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

Cambridge Univ. physicist & author Prof. Stephen Hawkings, wheelchair bound due to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig's disease), inside a lecture hall w. math equations on blackboard behind him.  (Photo by Terry Smith/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

The physicist Stephen Hawking—who died on March 14, 2018—was a pop cultural icon for his contributions to science and his unique sense of humor. Take this party invitation he sent out in 2009:

“You are cordially invited to a reception for time travelers hosted by Professor Stephen Hawking to be held in the past, at the University of Cambridge Gonville & Caius College.”

Was it an experiment, a joke, or a little of both? Either way, Hawking had indeed already thrown the party on June 28. He didn’t send the invitation out until after it was over to ensure that only time travelers would attend.

Cambridge Univ. physicist & author Prof. Stephen Hawkings, wheelchair bound due to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease), inside a lecture hall w. math equations on blackboard behind him. (Photo by Terry Smith/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, no one showed up, and he ended up waiting alone in a room decorated with balloons and a banner that said “Welcome Time Travelers.” But in a nod to this famous experiment, The Stephen Hawking Foundation has announced that time travelers are also welcome to attend his June 15 interment service at Westminster Abbey in London.

“We cannot exclude the possibility of time travel as it has not been disproven to our satisfaction,” a spokesperson for the foundation told the BBC. “All things are possible until proven otherwise.”

It could be that the foundation didn’t want to announce this fact until afterwards, as Hawking had done with his party. The foundation only addressed it after a London travel blog, IanVisits, noticed that when entering the online ticket raffle for the service, you could select a “birth year” all the way through 2038—seemingly opening up the event to people who haven’t been born yet.

VIDEO: A Brief History of Stephen Hawking A look at the astronomical life of iconic author, cosmologist and physicist Stephen Hawking.

When reporters reached out about the range of birth years, the foundation confirmed that the event was open to time travelers, while noting that none had yet applied (the raffle ends at midnight on May 15).

<span …read more

Source: HISTORY

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7 Images That Changed Royal History

May 15, 2018 in History

By Hadley Meares

Portrait of Anne of Cleves, by Hans Holbein. (Credit: De Agostini/UIG/Everett)

Throughout history, royal families have carefully crafted their images, using artists and photographers to portray them in a majestic and iconic light. Sometimes these images had serious consequences—whether they were the ones intended or not. Here are the stories of some of the most powerful images in royal history.

Portrait of Anne of Cleves, by Hans Holbein. (Credit: De Agostini/UIG/Everett)

The Portrait of Anne of Cleves

Legendary painter Hans Holbein was in a difficult situation. In 1539, he was sent by Henry VIII of England to paint the unmarried Anne of Cleves, whose family was an important strategic ally of Britain. The temperamental Henry, with three wives already under his large belt, had been assured of Anne’s beauty. “Every man praiseth the beauty of the same lady as well for the face as for the whole body,” he was told by adviser Thomas Cromwell, “she excelleth as far the duchess [of Milan] as the golden sun excelleth the silver moon.”

Holbein’s painting was to serve as confirmation of these verbal reports. With Cleve’s court officials looking over his shoulder, Holbein was expected to paint Anne in a way that was both flattering and realistic. The resulting painting presented a pleasant, docile looking woman—and it seems Henry was cheered by what he saw. Two copies were made: one is now at the Louvre in Paris, and the other at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Although scholars debate how important Holbein’s work was in Henry’s decision making process, it is doubtful he would have agreed to marry her without having viewed the flattering portrait.

Unfortunately, upon their meeting on New Year’s Day, 1540, Henry was immediately repulsed by Anne’s actual appearance, shouting to advisors, “I like her not.” Their marriage lasted only six months, and their subsequent divorce would lead to two more marriages for Henry—and one more beheading—before his death in 1547. Fortunately, Anne would survive both Henry and all his other wives, and live a relatively happy and tyrant-free life in England.


Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie shortly before their assassination, and a page from Le Petit Journal, illustrating the assassination. (Credit: Henry Guttmann/Getty Images & Popperfoto/Getty Images)

The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg

On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir presumptive of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and his wife, Sophie, were fatally …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The Ominous Link Between Superman, Career Washouts and Untimely Death

May 15, 2018 in History

By Ryan Mattimore

Kirk Alyn Superman

Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But even Superman—or at least the actors who have played him—haven’t been able to escape one of Hollywood’s most legendary curses. This year the Man of Steel turns 80, and through the decades it has become apparent that a number of people who portrayed the character have fallen upon serious misfortune—from career washouts to untimely deaths.

Kirk Alyn was the first actor to portray the iconic crimefighter, starring in two 15-episode film serials for Columbia Studios starting in 1948: Superman and Atom Man vs. Superman. Having begun his career as a chorus boy and then on Vaudeville, he worked his way up through the acting ranks until a co-starring role in a Republic Studios serial gave him a big break. Studio executives from Columbia Pictures viewing it took note of the actor’s resemblance to Clark Kent, and soon cast him as the mild-mannered reporter. But since Alyn wasn’t well-known, the studio kept his name out of the credits as Superman.

After playing the Man of Steel for three years, he couldn’t shake his Superman image or parlay that role into a larger, more varied career. Because audiences had trouble picturing him as other characters, he only scored small roles in B pictures. “Playing Superman ruined my acting career,” Alyn said later. “I was bitter for many years.” He even saw his cameo role as Lois Lane’s father cut from the 1978 film version. In his final years he struggled with Alzheimer’s disease and died in relative obscurity.

Kirk Alyn played Superman in two early film serials, starting in 1948. He later said, ‘Playing Superman ruined my acting career.’ (Credit: Everett Collection)

George Reeves, the first television Superman, starred as the bulletproof do-gooder in both a 1951 film and the “Adventures of Superman” TV show that ran for six years starting in 1952. The hugely popular show made Reeves—who started his film career with a bit part in Gone With the Wind—into a household name. However, like Alyn before him, he had a hard time shaking his superhero image. Test audiences responded negatively to his appearance in the classic WWII film From Here to Eternity because they had a hard time picturing Superman at war. After five successful seasons, “Superman” was canceled in 1958 and Reeves struggled to find work …read more

Source: HISTORY