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Democratic Senator from a Red State Chokes Up While Explaining Why She's Decided to Vote Against Brett Kavanaugh

October 4, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

She made the decision even though she believe it will hurt her politically.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), was one of the two Democratic senators who many observers believed had the potential to vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. But on Thursday afternoon, Heitkamp announced that she would not be supporting him after all.

As she stares down a tough Senate race in the red state of North Dakota, the senator fears that the decision will cost her.

“This isn't a political decision,” she said Thursday on WDAY-TV. “If this were a political decision for me, I certainly would be deciding the other way. You know, there's an old saying: 'History will judge you, but most importantly, you'll judge yourself.' And that's really what I'm saying.”

“I can't get up in the morning and look at the life experience that I've had and say 'yes' to Judge Kavanaugh,” she said, her voice catching as she clearly held back emotion.

“The process has been bad, but at the end of the day, you have to make a decision, and I've made that decision,” she continued. “I will be voting 'no' on Judge Kavanaugh.”

In a statement announcing her decision, the senator said that Kavanaugh's temperament, honesty, and impartiality were all in question after he delivered a furious screed at his Senate testimony last week. She also said that Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual abuse, along with other victims, should be respected.

Watch the clip of Heitkamp below:

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'Grow Up!': Watch This Top GOP Senator Shoo Away Women Protesters Begging Him to Listen as They Get Threatened with Arrest

October 4, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

The retiring GOP senator is not even pretending to care what women have to say.

With the vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh just days away despite the obvious inadequacies in the FBI report Republicans claim absolves him of sexual assault, women are taking to the streets in protest, and survivors are hounding senators relentlessly.

But Republicans are starting to lose the patience to pretend they care — in particular, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), a powerful member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

When pursued by a group of survivors accosted him at an elevator and demanded he listen to them, Hatch responded by waving them away with their hands, shouting that he'll listen “when you grow up!”

The protestors responded with fury. “How dare you talk to women that way! How dare you!”

Watch below:

Hatch, who is retiring in a few months, has angrily dismissed allegations against Kavanaugh, saying that his first accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, is “mixed up.” The longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history, Hatch is one of the few members of the Judiciary Committee who was in the Senate during the Clarence Thomas hearings, when Anita Hill came forward with accusations of sexual harassment. At the time, Hatch behaved much as he is now, insulting and belittling a woman for the crime of coming forward against a powerful man.

…read more


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Best Halloween Costume Ideas Inspired by History

October 4, 2018 in History

By Heather Corcoran

Because the past is filled with all kinds of characters.

Show the world we can do it with a costume reminiscent of inspirational WWII heroine Rosie the Riveter.

View the 18 images of this gallery on the

The President

For a look that’s purely presidential, try on Theodore Roosevelt’s signature Pince-Nez Specs, a popular style of the time that rested only on the nose. Pair it with a well-tailored 3-piece suit and a pocket watch or try on the Rough Rider’s safari jacket and ranger hat. Just leave the bull moose at home. About $5, Amazon.

Read the history here: How Teddy Roosevelt Crafted an Image of American Manliness

The Salem Witch

Sure the witch is a Halloween classic, but there’s more to the archetype than pointy hats and broomsticks. Paired with a simple Puritan-inspired dress, this Oversized Bonnet can transport you back to the truly terrifying world of 17th-century Salem, Massachusetts. There, between 1692 and 1693, scores of people were tried for witchcraft—and 19 ultimately executed—in a tragic case of mass hysteria that turned into a literal witch hunt. About $9, Amazon.

Read the history here: Salem Witch Trials

The Inventor

One look at that famous hairline and people will be asking where’s your kite. Don this Benjamin Franklin Wig with a jacket and cravat, and you’ll be instantly be recognized as the silver-tongued colonial statesman and inventor. To enhance the look, don’t forget a few of the famous Philadelphian’s signature discoveries: a pair of bifocal glasses (yes, they’re his invention) or a kite and key to attract a little electricity to your holiday. About $16, Amazon.

Read the history here: Benjamin Franklin

The Aviator

Give your Halloween lift-off with a costume that pays homage to the great flying aces of the past: vintage-style Aviator Hat and Goggles. To complete the look, just swing a white satin scarf around your neck and grab a map or model plane. You’re sure to earn your wings. About $35, Amazon.

Read the history here: 6 Little-Known Pioneers of Aviation

The Revolutionary

Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s image may be nearly as iconic as his role in the Cuban Revolution, which means this costume is sure to get recognized—and stir up some controversy. Take a cue from the famous Alberto Korda photo “Guerrillero Heroico”—the portrait …read more


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Trump’s ‘Algorithms’: Here Are 4 Bogus But Effective Themes That Whip the President’s Supporters into a Frenzy

October 4, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

He's not a strategic thinker — but he knows what works.

Although Joe Scarborough—the ex-Republican and former Florida congressman who now hosts “Morning Joe” with Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC—has been one of President Donald Trump’s most prominent critics on the right, he offers some valuable insights when it comes to explaining Trump’s appeal. Scarborough dislikes Trump vehemently, stressing that he believes the president has been terrible for the GOP and the conservative movement. But Scarborough is also quick to point out that Trump can be really effective when it comes to rallying his base.

Rather than relying on polls, Scarborough told Brzezinski during their October 4 “Morning Joe” broadcast, Trump rallies his base by employing “algorithms.” One could also describe them as recurring Culture War themes or messages, but whatever one calls them—and however ludicrous they might seem to his critics—they rally his hardcore base in a big way. 

Here are four algorithms, as Scarborough calls them, that Trump uses to rally his delusional base.

1. Masculinity Is Under Attack in the U.S.

 So far, three different women—Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick—have come forward with sexual abuse allegations against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. And instead of encouraging a dialogue on sexual misconduct, Trump has painted Kavanaugh as not only the victim of a Democratic Party witch hunt, but also, as a victim of a liberal campaign against masculinity in general. Trump is great at conflating criticism of sexual misconduct with attacking the overall male population, and the men-under-attack theme is an effective tool for rallying his base.

2. Christianity Is Under Attack in the U.S.

 Trump is hardly a religious scholar, but when it comes to the Christian Right, he knows what buttons to push—and one of them is the Christianity-under-attack theme. Barack Obama, as president, was hardly anti-religion; he obviously knows a lot more about the Bible than Trump and has spent much more time attending church. His rhetorical style even incorporates elements of the African-American church experience. But Obama embraces a non-fundamentalist form of Mainline Protestant …read more


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Retired Supreme Court Justice Says Kavanaugh's Behavior at the Senate Hearing Disqualifies Him: 'Senators Should Pay Attention to This'

October 4, 2018 in Blogs

By Elizabeth Preza, AlterNet

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens made the comment at a small gathering in Boca Raton, FL.

John Paul Stevens, a retired United States Supreme Court justice who was appointed by former President Gerald Ford, on Thursday issued a stunning statement about Brett Kavanaugh’s temperament, telling “a small crowd in Boca Raton that Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s performance at confirmation hearings should disqualify him,” the Palm Beach Post’s Lulu Ramadan reports.

“The senators should pay attention to this,” Stevens said.

Stevens, who sat on the Court during Bush v. Gore, said the influence of partisan politics on the judicial branch “is worse” than ever, Ramadan notes.

— Lulu Ramadan (@luluramadan) <a target=_blank href="”>… 4, 2018

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In March, Stevens stirred up a frenzy on the right after he wrote an op-ed for the New York Times calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment in the wake of the March for Our Lives rally in Washington D.C.

The day after Stevens published his op-ed, Donald Trump tweeted, “THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED!”

“Despite the words yesterday of former Supreme Court Justice Stevens, NO WAY,” Trump wrote.

<script async src="” charset=”utf-8″>



<Img align="left" border="0" height="1" width="1" …read more


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Beto O'Rourke on Possible Endorsement from Obama: 'I Don't Think We're Interested'

October 4, 2018 in Blogs

By Julian Aguilar, The Texas Tribune

O’Rourke said his campaign didn’t reach out to the Obama camp for an endorsement.


“Beto O'Rourke on possible endorsement from Obama: “I don't think we're interested.” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

EL PASO — Former President Barack Obama has endorsed 11 Texas Democrats leading up to next month’s midterm elections. But none go by the popular four-letter moniker “Beto”.

On Thursday, the three-term Democratic congressman looking to unseat incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had a simple response to being left off the list: We’re doing fine on our own.

“I don’t think we’re interested [in an endorsement],” Beto O’Rourke said after a town hall at a local high school. “I am so grateful to him for his service, he’s going to go down as one of the greatest presidents. And yet, this [election] is on Texas.”

Obama’s endorsements include five candidates for the Texas House and six vying for the U.S Congress, including O’Rourke’s likely Democratic successor, former El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar.

O’Rourke said his campaign didn’t reach out to the Obama camp for an endorsement and added that he’s been down this road before. When he ran what was considered his underdog 2012 campaign to defeat former U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the incumbent received nods from Obama and former president Bill Clinton.

It didn’t work then, O’Rourke said.

“Bill Clinton fills up the county coliseum and a screaming El Paso Times front page headline [said] “President urges El Paso to stick with Reyes,” he said. “And we won. And what that drove home for me is that someone else’s popularity is not transferrable to a given candidate.”

Meanwhile Cruz has accepted help from President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who campaigned for Cruz in Wichita Falls on Wednesday. The president has also announced an event with Cruz sometime this month in what he said would be the “biggest stadium in Texas.”

A date and location for Trump’s visit hasn’t been announced.

Read related Tribune coverage

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When Anthrax-Laced Letters Terrorized the Nation

October 4, 2018 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Who sent the series of letters in the wake of the 9/11 attacks? Investigators zeroed-in on a possible culprit.

A corporate mailroom employee uses gloves while sifting through letters October 15, 2001 in New York City after reports of anthrax in the mail.

Feverish and delirious, Bob Stevens arrived at a Florida hospital in the early morning hours of October 2, 2001. The emergency room doctors thought the 62-year-old photojournalist might be suffering from meningitis.

But when an infectious disease specialist looked at Stevens’ spinal fluid under a microscope, he realized there was another, terrifying possibility. Lab tests confirmed it, and on October 4 Stevens was diagnosed with inhalation anthrax, a bacterial disease primarily found in livestock that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) had recognized as a potential agent of bioterrorism.

Over the next two months, Stevens and four other people would die after inhaling anthrax, and 17 others would be infected, either by inhaling anthrax or getting it on their skin. The lethal spores arrived via a series of letters mailed to locations in four states (Florida, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) and Washington, D.C., spreading a new wave of panic across a nation already reeling from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 just weeks earlier.

George W. Bush Vows Revenge for 9/11 (TV-PG; 0:31)

After anthrax was discovered at Stevens’ workplace, American Media, and two more of his colleagues of his were found to have been exposed, state authorities in Florida (including the state’s then-governor, Jeb Bush) initially tried to calm the public down by insisting there was no terror link.

“The first day or two following that announcement were words of denial that this would have been related to any terrorism event, but it was somehow a freak outbreak of some sort,” says Leonard Cole, an expert on bioterrorism and terror medicine and author of The Anthrax Letters. “But as more information came out…it became clear that there had been some conscious, deliberate release of anthrax.”

The FBI launched an investigation, and by early November had found three of the letters containing anthrax spores, including ones sent to the offices of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in Washington, D.C., and The New York Post and NBC in New York City. The public furor only intensified after law enforcement authorities determined that the first group of anthrax-laced letters had been posted from a …read more


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‘Pumpkin Spice’ Has Been a Thing for 3,500 Years

October 4, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

A key ingredient in the flavor was discovered on ancient pottery shards in Indonesia, revealing it has been around for a long, looooong time.

Every fall, grocery stores line their shelves with pumpkin spice-flavored products that range from traditional pumpkin pies to the more questionable pumpkin spice candy corn. The flavor is a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves—all spices that humans have enjoyed in their food for a long time.

In fact, researchers have discovered that humans have been using nutmeg as food for 2,000 years longer than previously thought. On Pulau Ay, one of the Banda Islands in Indonesia, archaeologists found ancient nutmeg residue on ceramic pottery shards that they estimate to be 3,500 years old.

Piecing together the history of nutmeg can help frame how the global spice trade evolved later on. Thousands of years after people on Pulau Ay mixed nutmeg in their pots, this and other spices became extremely valuable commodities that people all over the world used in food and medicine. Asia sold spices to the Middle East and North Africa. From there, they trickled into spice-starved Europe.

A potsherd artifact found at the Pulau Ay archaeological site. It was one of several pottery pieces containing traces of foods, including the earliest-known use of nutmeg.

By the 1300s, and maybe earlier, traders traveled to the Banda Islands—which were among the so-called “Spice Islands”—because they were the only place nutmeg was known to grow. “At one point in the 1300s, when tariffs were at their highest, a pound of nutmeg in Europe cost seven fattened oxen and was a more valuable commodity than gold,” wrote the late John Munro, an economics professor emeritus at the University of Toronto.

A desire for spice is part of what drove European seafaring and contact with the Americas. In fact, the Dutch were so hungry for nutmeg that in late 1600s that they traded their colony of New Amsterdam to Britain in exchange for Pulau Run, a nutmeg-producing Banda Island over which Britain claimed control. The British renamed the colony “New York,” the name it bares today as part of the United States. Pulau Run remained part of the Netherlands’ colonies until the mid-20th century, when it became part of the new, independent nation of Indonesia.

“[It’s] fascinating to see such early use of nutmeg, a spice that changed …read more


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Work with China to Bring North Korea into the International System

October 4, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

President Donald Trump tends to run hot and cold toward other
nations and especially their leaders. He personalizes bilateral
governmental relations. That creates both problems and
opportunities, but what is not yet clear is which will predominate
by the end of his presidency.

Today he appears to look favorably on Kim Jong-un, despite
having shown frustration at what he believes to be the slow pace of
North Korean denuclearization. The president recently lauded the
“very warm, very positive letter” that he received from
Kim and indicated that a second summit is in the works. In
contrast, President Trump has said nothing positive recently about
China’s President Xi Jinping, and U.S. relations with China
have been deteriorating. Dominating the news are new attacks in a
worsening trade war. Though America has an edge economically,
Beijing is still hanging on. Having charted a more aggressive
international course, President Xi can ill afford to retreat. The
two leaders’ relationship is likely to worsen before it

Nor is trade the only issue poisoning U.S.-China ties. The
administration accused Beijing of interfering in the U.S. election
and recently sanctioned the People’s Republic of China for
purchasing Russian weapons. Even more incendiary may be the issue
of Taiwan. The PRC has been increasing pressure on what it
considers to be Chinese territory, while the U.S. announced a new
arms sale with Taiwan and targeted countries that shifted their
diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

Instead of whining about
China’s stance, President Trump should address Beijing’s interests
in the North’s future.

North Korea also appears to be dividing the U.S. and the PRC.
Before President Trump’s recent praise for the North, he
blamed China for Pyongyang’s lack of “sufficient
progress.” The president suggested that his trade penalties
had angered Beijing, and the latter was now sending “money,
fuel, fertilizer, and various other commodities” to the
North, which “is not helpful.”

No doubt, implementing a policy that undermines Chinese economic
growth is not the best strategy to encourage cooperation with the
PRC. And Chinese officials believe President Trump violated his
assurances that he would back off trade sanctions if Beijing
cracked down on commerce with the North. Chinese Foreign Ministry
spokeswoman Hua Chunying observed: “Regarding
America’s attempts to pass the buck, I’m sorry,
we’d rather not accept.”

The main problem is that President Trump has assumed an outcome
not mandated by the sparse June summit statement. Kim wants to
survive; he would be a fool to turn over his nuclear arsenal -
which constitutes most of his leverage – for nothing in return but
promises of future benevolence. So the North Koreans argue that
surrendering their nukes requires developing …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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'Holy Grail' of Whiskey Sells for Record Amount

October 4, 2018 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

A growing demand for premium aged scotch has fueled the practice of selling old, rare bottles at auction.

Whisky expert Charles MacLean with a bottle of The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926.

A private buyer paid a record-high $1.1 million for a 750-milliliter bottle of single malt whisky at an auction in Edinburgh. With a standard pour of around 1.5 oz, that means each drink of the stuff would tally up to just over $63,000.

Not that this particular whisky may ever be drunk.

Known as the “Holy Grail” of whisky, it was aged for 60 years before being bottled in 1986 by the popular Scottish distillery Macallan, which had commissioned the leading pop artist Valerio Adami of Italy to design a label for the bottle.

Whisky, also commonly spelled whiskey, is the category of spirits that includes scotch and bourbon, as well as Irish, Canadian, Japanese and American whiskies. While bourbon can now come from outside of its birthplace of Bourbon County (although 95 percent of the world’s bourbon is still made in Kentucky), true scotch can be made only in Scotland.

Read more: How Kentucky Became the World’s Bourbon Capital

From Whiskey to Bourbon (TV-PG; 3:12)

Scotch was derived from an earlier drink, uisge beatha, which in Gaelic—the branch of the Celtic language traditional to the Highlands of Scotland—means “water of life.” In the late 19th century, when the phylloxera beetle laid waste to many of France’s vineyards, wine and brandy became increasingly scarce on the global market, and scotch moved in to take brandy’s place as a popular high-end spirit.

Today, scotch is sold in more than 200 countries. As of 2012, it represented nearly 4 percent of the Scottish economy, including about a quarter of the country’s exports, as well as a quarter of the food and drink exports for the entire United Kingdom. Thousands of different types of scotch are produced, with the results varying widely depending on the type of grain used, the blend, the distillery, age and type of cask. This vast array of choices and pedigrees allows distillers to charge a wide range of prices, from tens of dollars all the way up into the hundreds of thousands.

Scotch’s reputation as a high-end spirit has grown significantly over the past two decades, and it has increasingly become a badge of wealth and status. …read more