You are browsing the archive for 2018 July 14.

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Sacha Baron Cohen is Back: Can a Harmless Prankster Become a Weaponized Troll Against the Right Wing?

July 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Melanie McFarland, Salon

The “Borat” creator is back with “Who Is America?” on Showtime Sunday.

Is Sacha Baron Cohen a prankster or a troll? Depended on who’s being asked. Sarah Palin and Joe Walsh, two of the conservative personalities who came forward this week crying foul at being duped by Baron Cohen, probably characterize him as a troll. Baron Cohen himself and Showtime, the premium channel airing his new series “Who Is America?” have remained silent and coy in the wake of Walsh and Palin’s complaining; given the type of entertainment Baron Cohen makes, any whinging from thin-skinned wingnuts amounts to free advertising. (Just as surely, Walsh and Palin are savvy and hungry enough to know that this works both ways.)

Although Showtime describes “Who Is America?” as a showcase for “the diverse individuals, from the infamous to the unknown across the political and cultural spectrum, who populate our unique nation,” nobody really knows what we’ll be treated or subjected to with the show’s premiere, airing Sunday at 10 p.m.

The series was  produced in secret, with details kept under wraps save for a few sightings here and there as well as unconfirmed reports, such as a Daily Mail story alleging Baron Cohen paid O.J. Simpson $20,000 to appear in the project. Late on Thursday came the news of another controversial figure bamboozled by Baron Cohen: disgraced US Senate candidate Roy Moore.

All of these shenanigans are enough to inspire tune-in, but as added insurance Showtime is featuring Dick Cheney promoting his own appearance in one clip — featuring the former vice president signing a plastic gallon jug and a towel, presented to him as a “waterboard kit.”

“That’s a first,” says Cheney, grinning at someone off screen. “That’s the first time I’ve ever signed a waterboard.”

Cheney, you’ve been punk’d. Or is it trolled? Does it make a difference? Maybe it does.

Though it’s been many years since Baron Cohen’s flesh-and-blood caricatures were popular Halloween costumes, I have little doubt that the fictional personalities he’s cooking up for his new show will be perfectly tailored to our times. Yes, …read more


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White Woman Calls Cops on Black Man for Listening to Yoga CD in His Car

July 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Tana Ganeva, Raw Story

Now yoga can be added to the list of normal activities black people might engage in that get the cops called on them.

Ezekiel Phillips claims that he was sitting in his car, resting before his yoga class and listening to a Bikram Yoga CD, when a white woman confronted him, telling him that he didn't belong in the area.

“You’re not supposed to be here. This is a good neighborhood,” he recalled to FOX 11.

“At that moment I’m like, ‘wait hold up’. Have a good day ma’am. Namaste. And I rolled my window up,” he said.

She started taking video, and so did he. Then the woman called Long Beach police.

In the 911 call, obtained by FOX 11, the woman can be heard grousing that the man was unfamiliar.

“I noticed him two houses up from my parents’ house and I’m like, you know and he’s waving to me. I don’t know who he is.“

She added, “I go ‘why are you sitting in your car in our neighborhood? And he goes ‘I’m resting’ and I’m like you weren’t two blocks back’’.”

Phillips decided to stick it out. “I thought about it. ‘If I leave, it’s looking like I’m guilty of whatever she’s talking about.”

Police arrived and Phillips wasn't charged with anything.


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New Mueller Indictments Prove That Donald Trump is an Illegitimate President

July 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Lucian K. Truscott IV, Salon

Anybody who gets elected to office in this country with the help of the intelligence agents of a foreign power has been elected illegitimately. It’s not a tough call.

It’s all right there in the indictment — day by day, hack by hack, theft by theft — how agents of the Russian intelligence service, the GRU, set out in the spring of 2016 to steal the election for Donald Trump. When you track the actions taken by Russian intelligence in the indictment with statements made by Trump and actions taken on his behalf by members of his campaign, the picture is as clear as an iPhone photo. Agents of the Russian government coordinated with members of the Trump campaign and took cues from Trump himself in order to influence the election of 2016.

In announcing the indictment, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein may have refused to point to a victim of the Russians’ crimes other than to say it was America itself, but the intent of the Russians was clear. They took active measures over a period of at least nine months to aid the campaign of Donald Trump and to damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton. They stole the election for Donald Trump, and he helped them do it.

This article first appeared in Salon

From Paragraph 20 of the indictment, “The Object of the Conspiracy”: “The object of the conspiracy was to hack into the computers of US. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 US. presidential election.”

The indictment is breathtaking in the specificity of the crimes it outlines, how those crimes were committed, and by whom.

“Beginning by at least March 2016, the Conspirators targeted over 300 individuals affiliated with the Clinton Campaign, DCCC, and DNC,” the indictment alleges. Nowhere does it say that “individuals affiliated with” the Trump campaign were targeted. Only Democrats.

For example, the indictment spells out that “on or about March 19, 2016, “defendant [Aleksey Victorovich] LUKASHEV …read more


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A New Fox News Poll Should Scare the Hell Out of Republicans as 2018 Midterms Loom

July 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Rozsa, Salon

The big question is whether a Democratic sweep in November could imperil Trump's presidency.

Fox News may be a network that is overwhelmingly sympathetic to President Donald Trump, but even their latest poll can't conceal the ominous news that exists for the Republican Party among the general voting public.

While 54 percent of Democrats describe themselves as being “extremely interested” in voting in the 2018 midterm elections, the same is true for only 47 percent of Republicans, according to the Fox News poll. Just as notably, although only 42 percent of Republicans said they were more enthusiastic about the election than usual, 51 percent of Democrats were willing to say the same thing about themselves.

This story first appeared in Salon.

Overall the survey found that voters asked about their preferences on a generic ballot preferred the Democratic candidate over the Republican candidate by a margin of 48 percent to 40 percent, which is roughly the same as the margin of 48 percent to 39 percent discovered by that same poll in June. That said, when the survey results only include voters who are extremely interested in the upcoming election, the Democratic margin over Republicans on the generic ballot rises to 54 percent to 41 percent.

Of particular interest is the gender gap, considering that female candidates have been doing disproportionately well in the recent election cycle. Among Democrats, 54 percent of men and 53 percent of women are extremely interested in the upcoming elections, which is effectively a statistical tie. Among Republicans, however, the Fox News poll found that only 39 percent of Republican women are extremely interested compared to 53 percent of Republican men — an interest gap of 14 points.

“Democrats usually have been leading the House generic ballot polling by mid-to-high single digits across polling averages for almost the entire cycle, and polling also has shown Democrats are generally more excited about voting, a trend that I think is backed up by the bulk of the elections that have happened since President Trump was elected,” Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato's Crystal …read more


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Bulldozed to Death for Growing 10 Marijuana Plants

July 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Phillip Smith, Independent Media Institute

It’s not marijuana that’s killing people, but marijuana prohibition.

Getting caught growing a few pot plants in Pennsylvania could lead to a criminal charge and a likely sentence of probation, but for a Lehigh Valley man, it was a death sentence. This past Monday, 51-year-old Gregory A. Longenecker was found dead under a bulldozer operated by a state Game Commission worker and carrying a state trooper hunting for two men spotted near a freshly-discovered marijuana grow.

According to the Pennsylvania State Police, the Game Commission bulldozer operator was using the machine to improve access to fields on game lands when he spotted a car well off the road in the brush and called police. Officers from nearby Bernville Borough were first on the scene and quickly found a plot containing 10 growing pot plants.

The cops saw two men emerge from the underbrush and take off running, said Trooper David Boehm, a state police spokesman. “They were back there doing whatever they have to do to their plants,” he said. “It was kind of carved out of the underbrush, which I've never seen underbrush that thick ever. It was crazy how thick it was.”

The two men were Longenecker and his long-time friend David Brook Light, 54. Light was quickly taken into custody by the Bernville chief of police, but Longenecker eluded immediate capture. The state police arrived on the scene and ordered one of their helicopters to join the search. The chopper pilot spotted Longenecker in the brush but then lost him. Meanwhile, a state trooper and the bulldozer operator were roaring through the brush looking for him.

“An attempt to hail the other male was unsuccessful,” Beohm said in a news release. “The helicopter lost sight of the male and was giving directions to the bulldozer of his last location. The Game Commission employee and a Trooper were on the bulldozer driving through the thick underbrush. The bulldozer stopped in the underbrush. The second male was located under the rear of the bulldozer deceased.”

That's right: Confronted with a small-scale illicit marijuana grow …read more