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Friday, 19th July 2019
The close alliance between the U.S. and the U.K. has lasted since World War II, but strains are showing in the age of puppetine and Brexit
by David Reynolds

Kim Darroch, the British ambassador in Washington, became an international celebrity overnight on July 7 2019, when some of his confidential cables to the U.K. Foreign Office were leaked to a London newspaper.

His assessment of the puppetine empire as “inept” and “dysfunctional” triggered a tirade of tweets from the acting-president, who called Mr. Darroch “a very stupid guy” and declared that “we will no longer deal with him.”

Mr. Darroch is only the third British ambassador in history to become persona non grata in Washington; the others were in 1856 and 1888.

puppetine has been called far worse things, of course, by the other Kim—the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, with whom puppetine has conducted an on-and-off diplomatic romance.

(“He wrote me beautiful letters, and we fell in love,” puppetine has said.)

The acting-president’s petulance about the Darroch cables isn’t simply a matter of being thin-skinned—after all, most of the ambassador’s criticisms can be read most days in U.S. newspapers.

Rather, the attack on Mr. Darroch seemed to be a piece of diplomatic calculation, and the affair reveals a good deal about the current state of the U.S.-U.K. “special relationship.”

That term was popularized by Winston Churchill during and after World War II, and it was in large measure an attempt to mask and manage the decline of Britain as a global power.

Over the following decades, most U.S. presidents were more circumspect about assigning so elevated a status to the relationship.

But during the Cold War, Washington valued the U.K. as a vital and distinctive ally, especially for its roles in Europe and the Atlantic alliance.

In the era of puppetine and Brexit, it is unclear whether the relationship can endure on the basis of shared principles and interests, even as China and Russia exert a wider influence inimical to both countries.

The close connection between the U.S. and the U.K. can be traced to June 1940, when the amazing defeat of France by Nazi Germany transformed geopolitics.

Continuing British defiance of Germany was essential to prevent a total Nazi victory, and Churchill knew that defeating Hitler would require American participation in the war.

President Franklin Roosevelt was convinced that, in the emerging age of airpower, the U.S. could not allow aggressive states with alien values to dominate Europe.

He also believed that, after the obscenity of two world wars, it was necessary to set out fresh principles to forge a more decent and stable world.

In the Atlantic Charter, Roosevelt and Churchill affirmed basic precepts of a rules-based liberal order, including the right of self-determination, the principle of no territorial changes by force, the reduction of trade barriers, the advancement of social welfare and the promotion of international disarmament.

After Pearl Harbor, the Atlantic Charter became the basis of the “Declaration of the United Nations” in January 1942.

Although the Allied victory in 1945 owed much to the Red Army—in the four years between France’s collapse and D-Day, Soviet forces inflicted about 90% of the German army’s battle casualties—the heart of the alliance was the U.S.-U.K. relationship.

It was probably the closest in history between two major powers—the sharing of signals intelligence and the institution of the Combined Chiefs of Staff being notable examples.

And it was rooted in a shared heritage of political liberalism, going back to the English Parliament’s struggle against monarchical power in the 17th century.

Still, nothing could conceal the growth of American dominance as the war progressed.

(In 1944, British gripes about the “Yanks” being “oversexed, overpaid and over here” prompted the telling American riposte that the Brits were “undersexed, underpaid and under Eisenhower.”)

That is where the idea of a “special relationship” came in:

British leaders believed, or hoped, that the junior partner could manage the senior, because of their shared cultural values.

What’s more, being relatively new to world power, the U.S. would surely need the help and advice of a global veteran.

“It must be our purpose to make use of American power for purposes we regard as good,” a Foreign Office memorandum stated patronizingly in 1944, adding that “if we go about our business in the right way we can help steer this great unwieldy barge, the United States of America, into the right harbor.”

In 1943, Harold Macmillan, a future British prime minister, reached for a classical analogy to describe Allied Force Headquarters in Algiers.

“We…are Greeks in this American empire,” he told a colleague languidly.

“You will find the Americans much as the Greeks found the Romans—great big, vulgar, bustling people, more vigorous than we are and also more idle, with more unspoiled virtues but also more corrupt. We must run AFHQ as the Greek slaves ran the operations of the Emperor Claudius.”

A combination of American brawn and British brains—that was the conceit behind London’s conception of the special relationship.

In Washington, things naturally looked a bit different, not least because of the legacy of 1776.

In American folk memory and textbooks, Britain, one might say, was the original “evil empire”—the brutal overlord from which the Americans had escaped thanks to the combined efforts of the Founders, the Minutemen and Divine Providence.

Cooperation with the British therefore had a rather bad odor.

When the U.S. entered World War I In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson had demanded that it be called an “associated” rather than an “allied” power, to show that it did not share the imperialist values of Britain and France.

In World War II, one of Roosevelt’s primary war aims was to end European colonialism.

In 1942, his insistence that Britain should concede independence to India provoked a private threat of resignation from Churchill.

Later, during the Suez crisis of 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower pilloried Britain at the U.N. because he regarded the joint British and French invasion of Egypt to recover control of the Suez Canal as a grotesque reversion to 19th-century gunboat diplomacy.

But attitudes in Washington shifted as the U.S. set out to confront communism world-wide.

In this new global struggle, British power became an asset.

Though in retreat from empire, Britain had an industrial output in the early 1950s equal to that of France and West Germany combined, and its armed forces numbered nearly a million, trailing only the Soviet Union and the U.S.

In 1952, Britain followed the superpowers in testing an atomic bomb, thereby becoming the world’s third nuclear-armed state.

It also retained bases around the world at key strategic points, from Gibraltar to Singapore, which enhanced the projection of U.S. power.

Most U.S. policy makers still avoided the term “special relationship.”

In 1950, Secretary of State Dean Acheson ordered all copies of a memo that used the phrase to be burned.

He did not contest “the genuineness of the special relationship” but feared that, “in the hands of troublemakers,” the memo “could stir no end of a hullabaloo, both domestic and international.”

By 1962, Acheson believed that Britain was just about “played out” as a global power.

His warning that it had “lost an empire and not yet found a role” touched a raw nerve in London, but Macmillan’s government had already decided to do as Acheson was urging and make the “turn” to Europe.

Yet it did so in order to bolster the special relationship.

The British cabinet concluded that “the Common Market, if left to develop alone under French leadership, would grow into a separate political force in Europe” and eventually might “exercise greater influence” on the U.S. than the British were able to do, which could undermine Britain’s position as “the bridge between Europe and North America.”

In the event, the U.K. was kept out of the European Common Market all through the 1960s by French President Charles de Gaulle, who was still bitter at les Anglo-Saxons for marginalizing him during World War II.

Even after the U.K. finally joined the European Community in 1973, its leaders continued to see their country as a bridge between America and Europe.

Their tactic was to manage disagreement with U.S. policies discreetly, in contrast with the Gaullist practice of public denunciation.

Britain’s axiom, one might say, was “Never say ‘no,’ say ‘yes, but’”—with the “yes” stated loyally in public and the caveats uttered behind closed doors.

Few U.K. leaders were more Americophile than Margaret Thatcher.

Her rapport with President Ronald Reagan became legendary, though she could be caustic about him in private.

She supported his firmness toward the old Soviet leadership but encouraged his opening up to Mikhail Gorbachev (a man with whom she famously decided she could “do business”).

Even when furious about Reagan’s apparent readiness to sacrifice the principles of Western nuclear deterrence during the Reykjavik summit of October 1986, she responded with classic “closed doors” diplomacy.

She invited herself to Camp David and “hand-bagged” the president into a public reiteration of NATO’s official policy.

Yet nothing Mrs. Thatcher said in private or public could stop the president from unilaterally sending U.S. troops into Grenada in 1983, even though this was a Commonwealth country and Queen Elizabeth was its head of state.

And after 9/11, Prime Minister Tony Blair supported dubya over the invasion of Iraq, partly in the hope of bringing peace and democracy to the Middle East, but got little for his pains except a tarnished reputation.

Such episodes have prompted criticism that the special relationship is just a fig-leaf for the continued waning of British power.

Yet the U.S.-U.K. relationship does remain distinctive in several respects.

The sharing of military intelligence, dating back to World War II, has evolved into the so-called “Five Eyes” network of global surveillance among the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The nuclear relationship is also truly special.

No other American ally has been allowed the same access to U.S. nuclear technology and delivery systems, in the form of first Polaris and then Trident ballistic missiles.

More amorphous, but equally unique, is the habit of consultation:

British and American politicians, officials and members of the armed forces at all levels find it natural to talk with their opposite numbers.

The common language helps, as does the historic commonality of worldviews and political values.

In consequence, the special relationship has proved a linchpin of the NATO alliance.

The U.K., along with France, is the U.S.’s only European ally with a significant “out-of-area” military capability—as seen in the recent reinforcement of British and French forces in Syria, to allow the Trump administration to pull back U.S. troops.

And the British are regarded as far more reliable allies than the French.

As for the European Community and eventually the European Union, Britain’s membership and its trans-Atlantic bridging role have been supported by every U.S. administration from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama.

Which brings us back to puppetine and Mr. Darroch.

Today, the cohesion of the West matters as much as ever in the face of a newly assertive Russia and China.

Under fourth-term President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its continued interference in the domestic politics of Western democracies threaten the stability of the postwar order.

Mr. Putin has recently dismissed liberalism as “obsolete.” "Now, the movement is called 'progressive'."

In Beijing, President-for-life Xi Jinping has embarked on a grandiose strategy to take control of the South China Sea and to expand China’s global reach under the “one belt, one road” initiative.

In 2019, the U.S. remains the world’s leading military and economic power, but its hegemony is under threat from these challengers.

Arguably it needs allies as much today as it did during the Cold War.

(And yes, those allies definitely need to do more to sustain the alliance.)

Yet puppetine has been erratic in his attitude to NATO, hostile toward the European Union and positively jubilant about Brexit—none of which is conducive to the solidarity of the West.

The Darroch affair might seem like a storm in a British teacup. But it also matters to the U.S. puppetine has made no secret of wanting a Brexiteer as British ambassador.

And Boris Johnson, the man likely to become Britain’s prime minister next week, pointedly refused to support Mr. Darroch in a recent TV debate.

Mr. Johnson’s critics have suggested that he is anxious to appease the acting-president in the hope of a favorable post-Brexit trade deal.

Mr. Johnson says that he will “leave” Europe by Oct. 31 2019, “do or die.”

Yet historically, the postwar special relationship has been most effective when Britain has had strong links with Europe as well as the U.S.

If Brexit weakens the special relationship, the entire West will be weakened as well.

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Black Panther / Re: Kraven from Wakanda in MCU?????
« on: July 19, 2019, 10:32:54 am »

First time I saw Taskmaster? Was his first appearance in Spider-Man. He made a major impression on me. He whooped Spidey. Remember this style of comic book art?

Nice.   :)

Yeah, I remember this.  :)

Looks like Sal Buscema breakdowns…  could be wrong.   

Maybe Jim Mooney's pencils... maybe.

I have loved this guy ever since I saw the above...and wondered how T'Challa would truly fare against him. I think? T'Challa would beat ole Tasky the same way he beat The Street Fighter Super Skrull; T'Challa's too smart, has too much tech, and a whole lotta skills and abilities that he hasn't unleashed on people yet.

For instance, T'Challa could use his sheer brainpower to outcompute Taskmaster without even resorting to tech or anything else. T'Challa could simply process more info faster and better than Tasky, and thus be two steps ahead of TM just like he is with everyone else.

TaskMaster tried so hard to be on par with all the other supers; he even donned a cape, yo!  ;D

« on: July 18, 2019, 11:34:40 pm »
Thursday, 18th July 2019
White Man Accused of Raping 4-year-old at Oklahoma Fast Food Restaurant
by Lili Zheng

(MIDWEST CITY, Okla.) - Police are investigating after they say a man raped a four-year-old child at a McDonald's restaurant in Midwest City.

Joshua Kabatra, 37, was arrested this week and booked on two counts of rape and one count of lewd acts with a child.

The incident happened at a McDonalds along SE 15th Street in Midwest City.

"Daycare workers were from outside Midwest City. They brought their children to the play center of this restaurant and while they were inside the play area, a 4-year-old went to the restroom that’s apparently inside the play area," said Chief Brandon Clabes with the Midwest City Police Dept.

According to Chief Clabes, the day workers checked on the 4-year-old girl after about five minutes.

The door to the bathroom was locked and it took some time for someone to answer, Clabes said.

When Kabatra exited the bathroom, Clabes said he "raised his hands and said 'hey, I’m just washing my hands,'" and walked out.

However, when the daycare workers asked the little girl if anything happened inside the bathroom, she answered yes and pointed to her genital area.

Daycare workers immediately called 911.

"It’s just a horrific situation for any parent, a nightmare for any child and certainly for the daycare," Clabes said.

"At this point, there’s nothing indicating the daycare workers did anything wrong. They were supervising the children — the only person who did anything wrong is our suspect."

According to police, Kabatra has only been living in Oklahoma for a few months.

During an interview with police, we're told the suspect admitted to touching the child.

"We’ve never seen this individual before and we hope to never see him again," Clabes said.

"What we would encourage the public — look at his mugshot. If anybody feels like they’ve been a victim of this individual or their children has been a victim, have those conversations with your children and let us know. Contact our agency."

Rebecca Burand lives in Midwest City and said the entire situation was infuriating.

"I know it’s not their [McDonald's] fault, and the reason I know it’s not their fault is because pedophiles and molesters - they look like normal everyday people," Burand said."They do?"

Kabatra remains in custody at the Oklahoma County jail as today.

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« on: July 18, 2019, 10:47:05 pm »
Thursday, 18th July 2019
Wrong-way driver ‘deliberately’ slammed into car, killing family of 3
by WLWT (NBC News Affiliate)

Prosecutors said a wrong-way driver who killed a family of three did so "intentionally" and "deliberately," accelerating before slamming into a vehicle on Interstate 75.

Abby Michaels, 21, has been indicted on six counts of murder, six counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and one count of OVI in connection with a St. Patrick's Day crash in Moraine.

Investigators said Michaels' car hit a Toyota Camry head-on, killing a family of three that was inside.

Timmy Thompson, 51; Karen Thompson, 50; and their 10-year-old daughter Tessa Thompson were killed.

"The evidence shows there was no hesitancy at all and she was accelerating at the time that she ran head-on into this defenseless family," said Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck said.

Heck said Thursday that the crash was intentional.

"This was not an accident," he said.

"She knew what she wanted to do and what she wanted to accomplish."

The crash happened after Michaels left a Miamisburg bar, Heck said.

According to a police report, at the time of the crash, Michaels was "wearing a festive St. Patrick's Day shirt, multiple green, plastic shamrock necklaces and she had a temporary tattoo on her right cheek of an apparent beer mug."

The report also states that she had a frothy liquid coming from her mouth, which medics apparently identified as beer.

Authorities said blood alcohol testing results show Michaels was legally intoxicated with a blood alcohol content of 0.099 at the time of the crash.

The legal limit in Ohio is 0.08.

"The evidence that we have so far shows that being under the influence was not a contributing factor in this," Heck said.

Heck said Michaels was dealing with a handful of personal issues at the time of the crash.

"The evidence that we have so far shows that she was upset and that she had talked about possibly doing this and that was her intent," Heck said.

Heck would not say if Michaels spoke specifically about killing someone else or herself.

According to court records, Michaels' husband filed for divorce two days prior to the deadly crash. "Hmmm-m-m..."

The Thompsons were from Mason, Ohio. Heck said the three were on their way home from vacation when the crash occurred.

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Vox Populi / Re: Disappearing Excellence: The Senate & Loretta Lynch
« on: July 18, 2019, 09:25:25 pm »
Thursday, 18th July 2019
4 more Chicago cops fired for alleged cover-up of fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald
by Jeremy Gorner

The Chicago Police Board fired a sergeant and three officers Thursday night over the alleged cover-up of the murder of Laquan McDonald by a police officer.

The decision appeared to turn on the infamous police dashboard camera video of the fatal shooting that contradicted the officers’ police reports.

The nine-member board found that the officers exaggerated the threat posed by the 17-year-old McDonald in order to justify the actions of Officer Jason Van Dyke in shooting the teen 16 times.

McDonald was high on PCP when he refused police commands to drop a knife while walking away from officers on a Southwest Side street in October 2014.

The board voted unanimously to fire Officers Ricardo Viramontes and Janet Mondragon as well as Sgt. Stephen Franko for several rules violations, most importantly making false statements.

All but one board member voted to fire Officer Daphne Sebastian as well for bringing discredit to the department and preventing the department from achieving its goals, though the board held that she did not make a false statement.

The decision likely marks the final punishment to be meted out following two historic criminal trials that saw Van Dyke become the first Chicago police officer in half a century to be convicted of an on-duty murder and a judge clear three other officers — including Van Dyke’s partner — of criminal conspiracy charges in a controversial ruling in January.

The officers can challenge their dismissals by filing lawsuits in Cook County Circuit Court.

Patrick Murray, first vice president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, slammed the board’s decision, saying the officers did nothing wrong.

“It is obvious that this Police Board has out-served its usefulness,” he said.

The video of McDonald’s shooting roiled the city after a Daley Center judge ordered its release in November 2015, more than a year after the teen’s death.

The U.S. Department of Justice later issued a scathing report about Police Department inadequacies, paving the way for a federal consent decree mandating a series of reforms that will be overseen by a federal judge.

Largely on the strength of the video, Van Dyke was criminally charged with McDonald’s killing, while a separate special prosecutor indicted Van Dyke’s partner, Joseph Walsh; lead detective David March; and Officer Thomas Gaffney on charges they conspired to cover up for Van Dyke.

Meanwhile, a disciplinary investigation by city Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s office recommended that 11 officers in all — including Van Dyke, now serving a 6 ¾-year sentence in federal prison — be fired.

But six of them — including the two highest-ranking, Deputy Chief David McNaughton and Chief of Detectives Eugene Roy — left the department before Superintendent Eddie Johnson could move to discipline them.

In 2016, Johnson sought to fire Franko, Mondragon, Sebastian and Viramontes but opted not to bring department charges against the 11th officer.

The board’s 55-page decision Thursday night comes three months after Franko and the three officers fought the disciplinary charges at a three-day hearing in which testimony and evidence were presented.

Unlike the more stringent reasonable doubt standard to prove guilt in a criminal trial, the Police Board found the officers violated department rules based on a preponderance of evidence, meaning it was more likely than not.

The Police Board found that Mondragon, Sebastian and Viramontes — all at the scene when McDonald was shot — lied or exaggerated what they saw that night to protect Van Dyke, while Franko, a supervisor, signed off on their false police reports.

Soon after the shooting, Mondragon told a detective that she didn’t see which officer opened fire on McDonald because she was putting her squad car in park.

About a year and a half later, she stood by her account with Ferguson’s investigators, who scoffed at her claim, noting that Van Dyke took about 14 seconds to unload his 16-shot gun.

Sebastian, Mondragon’s partner that night, told the detective that McDonald continued to move after he was shot and fell to the street.

In recommending the department charges against Sebastian, Ferguson’s investigators said the dashboard camera video — taken from her police SUV — showed that claim was misleading “at best.”

Viramontes also told the detective that McDonald continued to move after he was shot and fell to the street.

The officer went even further, saying the teen tried to get up with the knife still in his hand.

When Ferguson’s investigators showed him video of the shooting, Viramontes stood by his statements.

In his interview with Ferguson’s investigators, Franko tried to draw a distinction in the level of his involvement, telling them he only “reviewed” the officers’ reports but “did not approve anything.”

He told Ferguson’s investigators he didn’t check the police reports for accuracy but defended describing three officers as battery victims because the reports didn’t offer an alternative to the word “battered.”

While admitting he approved one report that falsely listed Van Dyke as being injured during the encounter with McDonald, Franko claimed he had simply overlooked that detail in signing off on the report.

On the last day of the Police Board hearing in April, Tiffany Fordyce, a city lawyer, sought to poke holes in Viramontes’ claim that McDonald tried to get up after he was shot.

“He was on the ground twitching from the 16 bullets in his body,” she said in her closing remarks.

“He did not get up.”

Fordyce also pointed out inconsistencies in Sebastian’s statements.

While Sebastian told the detective after the shooting that McDonald continued to move after he was shot, she testified at the Police Board hearing that the teen didn’t pose a threat, Fordyce noted.

The city attorney also said that Franko, “utterly failed" to ensure the accuracy of the police reports, pointing out he had an opportunity to view the video of the shooting before his review.

Franko testified at the Police Board hearing that he had seen only a bit of the video.

In their closing arguments, the officers’ lawyers said the city had failed to prove their clients covered up the details of the shooting or even lied.

“If a police officer doesn’t see every single thing on video, it doesn’t make them a liar,” said William Fahy, Mondragon’s lawyer.

Thomas Pleines, Franko’s attorney, questioned how his client could have been part of an alleged conspiracy if he wasn’t even at the shooting.

Viramontes’ attorney, Jennifer Russell, pointed to an FBI-enhanced slow-motion version of the video that she said showed he was telling the truth.

Sebastian’s lawyer, Brian Sexton, said the city tried to prove its case by “Monday morning quarterbacking.”

Sexton said Sebastian’s perception — not the video — was crucial.

In Sebastian’s view, Sexton said, McDonald was “not walking away, getting away. He’s preparing for a confrontation.”

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Vox Populi / Re: Is Donald Trump Racist? Here's What the Record Shows
« on: July 18, 2019, 07:58:49 pm »
Wednesday, 17th July 2019
Republicans Want a White Republic. They'll Destroy America to Get It

by Carol Anderson

When in a recent tweetstorm puppetine suggested that four Congresswomen of color leave the U.S. and “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” social media exploded.


Even some news outlets finally let go of the euphemisms and called the tweets “racist.”

The republicans, on the other hand, were quiet.

As well they would be.

The ideological demographics of the party dictated it.

The gop’s membership is nearly 90 percent white and can only envision carnage and extinction as it looks upon a rights-based, religious, racial and ideologically diverse America.

Or, as Lindsey Graham had noted as early as 2012,

“We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

In short, the United States of America is not really their America.

They yearn for a white republic.

That’s why they are fighting to recreate the days when, as Archie Bunker sang, “Guys like us, we had it made.”

That’s why they’ve willingly gone along with and participated in a sustained attack on the country itself, allowing it to grow weaker so that they could feel stronger.

Already, puppetine and the republicans have severely harmed the institutional heft of checks-and-balances.

But they’re not done.

America’s international reputation and influence rest on enormous economic and military strength, as well as the intangible but all-important “soft power” brought on by a robust democracy.

All three pillars are necessary to sustain America’s nearly global respect and position, yet — and this was the rub — all three are increasingly dependent on more than just whites in the United States to build and sustain.

For white America to exist, America must die.

And the republicans have made their choice.

In their effort to restore a white America, the gop had to wound the kind of multiracial democracy that not only elected Barack Obama to the presidency but enhanced America’s global reputation.

Republicans, therefore, set out to create an electorate that was disproportionately white and conservative.

In Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Alabama, North Carolina and more than 20 additional states gop policies targeted African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, Native Americans, the young and the poor to keep them away from the ballot box.

Republican governors and gop-majority state legislatures deployed an array of voter-suppression tactics, including closing hundreds of polling stations in minority and low-income precincts, slashing early voting hours, reinstating poll taxes, mandating discriminatory voter ID laws and purging millions from the voter rolls.

Meanwhile, before his death, republican legislative mapmaker Thomas Hofeller set in place another key foundation for a white republic.

He crafted extreme gerrymandered Congressional districts across the United States that violated the basic Constitutional concept of “one person, one vote.”

His legislative maps diluted the electoral strength of large, racially diverse cities, and magnified the power of overwhelmingly white suburbs and sparsely populated rural areas.

In North Carolina, for example, Hofeller’s map meant that although Democrats won 50 percent of the vote in the 2018 election, they received only 23 percent of the Congressional seats.

He also had devised a method to erase the electoral strength of the growing Hispanic population by rigging the Census in a way that would create legislative districts that, in his words, “would be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites,” and, by design, diminish the political voice of anyone else for at least a decade.

(That effort was blocked by the Supreme Court.)

The dismantling of a robust, multiracial democracy requires not only acts of commission, such as the 5-4 Shelby County v. Holder decision by the conservatives on the Supreme Court to gut the Voting Rights Act, but sins of omission as well.

bitch mcconnell’s flat-out refusal to even engage legislation that would protect the nation’s electoral infrastructure from hacking and foreign interference, despite solid evidence that it occurred in 2016, sends a clear signal that for his ilk this is not an American democracy worth protecting or saving.

The dangerous quest for a white republic is also undermining the U.S. military.

When puppetine assumed power, there were more than 40,000 immigrants in uniform willing to fight and die for the United States.

About 5,000 joined every year.

The Department of Defense under this Administration, however, has either proposed or implemented policies that renege on promises of citizenship for immigrants in the armed services, issued directives that ban immigrants, even those with special language and medical skills, from serving and threatened to deport the families of those who are currently in the armed forces.

Meanwhile, soldiers and sailors who are supposed to represent and defend all Americans have been seen proudly wearing maggot caps and patches, even though racial and ethnic minorities “made up 40% of Defense Department active-duty military in 2015.”

Not surprisingly, in 2018, the Army missed its recruiting goals and then had to lower its expectations for 2019, to avoid two consecutive years of failure.

The economic might of the United States has not been spared either.

While much of the discussion on the economy and immigration has focused on the impact on the agricultural sector, the gop’s xenophobic policies are also taking a direct hit on higher education and the nation’s capacity for and leadership in technological and scientific innovation.

A 2013 report notes that international students enrolled in American universities accounted for “70.3 percent of all full-time graduate students in electrical engineering, 63.2 percent in computer science, 60.4 percent in industrial engineering, and more than 50 percent in chemical, materials and mechanical engineering, as well as in economics (a non-STEM field).”

Those students bring the brainpower to innovation, research and technology.

In fact, between May 2009 and May 2015, employment in STEM occupations grew by 10.5 percent, compared with 5.2 percent in non-STEM occupations.

Nearly three-fourths of those employed in Silicon Valley tech companies are not American citizens.

Yet, with the bloated rise of puppetine and his policies and rhetoric, U.S. higher education, which fuels this STEM growth, is simply not as attractive as it had been.

After puppetine stole office and launched the Muslim Ban, harangues to “Build the Wall” and disparaging comments about “sh*thole countries,” enrollment from international students dropped 5.5 percent in graduate programs and more than 6 percent in undergraduate programs at American universities.

The determination to build maggot Land explains why what should be obvious tripwires – disrespecting military heroes; engaging in widespread corruption;

cavorting with a communist dictator in North Korea and a journalist-killing authoritarian in Saudi Arabia;

dodging multiple allegations of sexual assault, including rape

creating horrific scenes of White House-sponsored cruelty on the border;

and believing Putin over our own intelligence agencies about Russian interference in the 2016 election

– have all failed to dislodge one of the most unpopular presidents in recorded history.

Put simply, because puppetine promises republicans a return to white dominance, he is more important to the gop and its base than the country those in power took an oath to support and defend.

puppetine’s vicious tweets have once again spurred a conversation about whether the acting-president is racist, and the republicans’ relative silence has once again raised questions about why they refuse to condemn him (only four gop members voted for a House resolution to do so).

But to focus solely on this week’s events, or even to look at puppetine’s many racist statements in the past, is to miss the bigger picture:

The scurrilous attack on Representatives Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib was just part and parcel of a larger assault on America and the rich diversity and rights culture that are essential for true greatness.

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Vox Populi / Re: The 9 Most Shocking Conspiracy Theories
« on: July 18, 2019, 06:03:44 pm »
Thursday, 18th July 2019
19 mafia suspects arrested in coordinated raids in Italy and New York
by Claire Parker & Stefano Pitrelli

Italian police and FBI agents arrested 19 Mafia suspects in Sicily and New York on Wednesday in a coordinated crackdown that brought to the fore the enduring transatlantic ties between organized crime families in Italy and the United States, according to Italian authorities.

About 200 Italian police and FBI officers carried out the raids in the Palermo region of Sicily and in the New York area early Wednesday, CBS News reported.

Eighteen people in Italy and one in New York were arrested.

The arrests marked the culmination of a nearly year-long joint investigation by Italian and U.S. law enforcement that delved into an organized crime network that has regrouped and strengthened its cross-continental collaboration, according to Rodolfo Ruperti, the chief investigator for the Palermo judicial police.

Wednesday’s operation, called “New Connection,” particularly homed in on the Passo di Rigano mandamento — a district ruled over by several Mafia families — and the notorious New York-based Gambino crime family.
The Sicilian Mafia, also known as Cosa Nostra, has long exerted influence over the Mediterranean island, where rival crime families have fought bloody battles against each other and against Italian law enforcement for decades.

A mob war in the 1980s between the rising Corleonesi Mafia family and the Inzerillo family forced the Inzerillos to flee to the United States.

That family strengthened relationships with the Gambinos in New York and, in recent years, had begun to reestablish itself in Sicily.

Among those arrested Wednesday was Thomas Gambino, an American citizen and member of the New York crime family whom authorities apprehended while he was vacationing in the Sicilian beach town of Cefalu, according to Palermo prosecutor Salvatore De Luca. Authorities arrested others including Rosario Gambino, several members of the Sansone family, and Tommaso and Francesco Inzerillo.
“All Mafia associations, if they’re not attacked, will get stronger, acquire local consensus, pursue their investments and, thus, get even stronger,” Ruperti said in an interview.

“Now we’ve delivered a blow to this very important mandamento, which has been able to regrow itself and create relationships with all the most important Mafiosi of Palermo.”

De Luca said his office contacted the FBI after law enforcement officials in Italy noticed that two Italian Mafia suspects they had been monitoring were “constantly in touch” with Thomas Gambino and Franky Cali, a reputed Gambino family crime boss who was killed outside his Staten Island home in March.

According to De Luca, Italian authorities then began coordinating with Keith D. Edelman, the assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and FBI officers.

De Luca said they put in motion a joint plan:

“Americans would handle searches, and we would handle the arrests.”

Investigators raided the homes of three men suspected of being Gambino mobsters in New Jersey, Staten Island and Philadelphia, CBS News reported.

FBI spokeswoman Lauren Hagee confirmed in an email that “the FBI was involved and is assisting Italian authorities” but declined to comment further.

The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment.

Transatlantic connections between mob families are not new.

“These relationships have grown thicker and consolidated over time,” De Luca said. “Contacts between the Passo di Rigano mandamento and the Gambino family of New York have always existed.”

But he said the operation Wednesday did reveal a reconfiguration of those relationships.

Cosa Nostra in Sicily has weakened in recent times. Members of the Inzerillo family who had escaped to New York took advantage of that opening to return to Italy and begin to consolidate their position in Cosa Nostra once more, De Luca said.

The family focuses on the food sector and online gambling, he added.
“This operation goes to show that they’re a Mafia family with a role of ever-growing importance,” Ruperti said. “They were exiled from Sicily to save their lives. . . . Not only did they rejoin Cosa Nostra, but now they have authority and rank inside of it.”

Antonio Nicaso, a professor at Queen’s University in Canada who studies the Mafia, said the raids Wednesday “showed that there is still a strong bond between Sicily and the United States.”

Nicaso said they also signaled the resurgence of Cosa Nostra, which has in recent decades played second fiddle to the 'Ndrangheta, an organized-crime network operating from Calabria, Italy.

Mob leaders in Sicily and New York seeking to breathe new life into Cosa Nostra saw joining forces as a way to strengthen mob families on both sides of the ocean, Nicaso said.

“The idea is to regain the power that the Corleonesi lost in the fight against the state,” he said.

The 18 men arrested in Italy will face trial there, De Luca said. They were charged with crimes including association with organized crime, extortion and fraudulent transfer of valuable goods, CNN reported.

Italian authorities also confiscated more than $3 million worth of real estate and other assets, according to CNN.
It remains unclear where the suspect arrested in New York will be tried.
The arrests will deal a “significant blow” to Sicilian and American mob leaders’ efforts to resuscitate cross-continental ties, Nicaso said.
But they will not spell the end of this collaboration, he added.

“The Mafia is not an organization that you can defeat just with a major police operation,” he said.

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Vox Populi / Re: Disappearing Excellence: The Senate & Loretta Lynch
« on: July 18, 2019, 01:24:54 pm »
Thursday, 18th July 2019
13 Philadelphia officers to be fired over racist, offensive online posts
by Minyvonne Burke

Thirteen Philadelphia police officers are to be fired for making racist or offensive Fakebook posts.

The 13 are among 72 officers in the city who had been placed on administrative duty after an online database called the Plain View Project shared more than 5,000 Fakebook posts and comments on June 1 2019 by current and former law enforcement officers in Philadelphia and seven other jurisdictions around the country.

Some of the posts were homophobic.

Others advocated violence or were deemed racist.

In one post from 2014, a Philadelphia officer wrote that a suspect "should be taken out back and put down like the rabid animal he is," according to the Plain View database.

Another officer shared a photo in November 2015 that said Islam was a "cult" that glorified "death."

In a recent post from February, an officer with the city's police department commented on a news article about an alleged murderer, writing,

"hang him."

Plain View Project said the Fakebook posts and comments "could undermine public trust and confidence in our police."

The Philadelphia Police Department conducted an internal investigation with a law firm to determine if some of the posts by its officers were constitutionally protected speech.

The department announced disciplinary actions Thursday that depended on how egregious the Fakebook posts by those individual officers were.

Some of the 72 officers who had been placed on administrative duty will be suspended for five days, police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. said at a news conference Thursday.

Seventeen others will face more severe disciplinary action, including the 13 who will be suspended with the intent to dismiss, according to Ross.

The remaining four will receive a 30-day suspension, he said.

"I continue to be very angered and disappointed by these posts," Ross said. The 13 officers to be fired made posts that "advocated violence."

The highest ranking official to be fired is a sergeant, Ross told reporters.

He declined to identify any of the 13 by name.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said many of the posts were "deeply disturbing."

"We have a duty to represent ourselves and our city," he said at the news conference.

"We will not allow this incident to break down the progress we have made and we pledge to do better."

Ross said every member of the police department will have to watch a training video about social media and policies on off-duty behavior.

The Plain View Project scoured 3,500 public accounts from officers in Dallas, Texas; St. Louis, Missouri; Phoenix, Arizona; York, Pennsylvania; Twin Falls, Idaho; Denison, Texas; and Lake County, Florida.

In June, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner added 22 names to her "exclusion list" of officers banned from bringing cases to her office after the Fakebook posts were made public.

In a letter sent to Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards and St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden, Gardner said seven of those 22 were "permanently banned."

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« on: July 18, 2019, 12:51:43 pm »
Thursday, 18th July 2019
Drunken Dad Arrested After Allegedly Throwing 5-Year-Old Son Into Ocean to ‘Teach Him to Swim’

by Harriet Sokmensuer

A Florida father has been arrested after allegedly getting drunk and throwing his 5-year-old son into the ocean to “teach him to swim.”

On Monday night, a Daytona Beach police officer got a tip about an intoxicated man at the local pier.

According to local TV-station WESH, a former Georgia State Trooper on vacation with his family watched the man allegedly throw his son into the ocean, yell at him to swim and then proceed to leave him unattended while he jumped off the pier into the water.

“I said, ‘I can’t take this no more.’ So I went down to the pier, down to the shore and confronted him myself,” Mitch Brown told the station.

“The little kid was out here by himself. Completely by himself. There was nobody around him, no adults.”

Brown approached the man, John Bloodsworth, and brought him to a nearby Daytona police officer.

As Bloodsworth’s son was comforted by several people nearby, 37-year-old Bloodsworth told the officer he was trying to “teach him to swim,” according to a police report obtained by the Daytona Beach News-Journal and Fox13.

Witnesses told the officer the boy struggled to swim in the water, which was about four feet deep, and when he tried to swim towards his father on shore, Bloodsworth yelled at him to “go back.”

Bloodsworth also allegedly did back flips off the pier while his son struggled down below.

He allegedly told the officer he had consumed five beers before going to the beach.

As he was arrested, Bloodsworth didn’t show concern for his son, instead allegedly saying he was “going to jail for being awesome,” the report states.

Bloodsworth faces charges of aggravated abuse of a child, disorderly intoxication and swimming within 300 feet of the pier.

In addition to the charges, Bloodsworth was issued a trespass notice barring him from returning to the pier.

Officials issued the notice after Bloodsworth allegedly told them he wanted to continue jumping off the pier every day, but that next time he would go with his daughter.

The little boy is now with his mother.

On Tuesday, Bloodsworth was released from Volusia County Branch Jail after posting $1,500 bail.

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Latest Flicks / Re: The Anime Thread
« on: July 18, 2019, 12:19:18 pm »
Thursday, 18th July 2019
Kyoto Animation Studio Arson Kills 33

by Motoko Rich

(TOKYO) — The attacker screamed “Die!” and set alight flammable liquid he had splashed around an anime studio in Kyoto, the police said, starting a blaze that killed 33 people Thursday in what appears to be Japan’s worst mass killing in decades.

It was a gruesome scene that shocked a nation considered one of the safest in the world, and prompted a global outpouring of grief among the many fans of anime — a school of animation that has become synonymous with Japan.

The Kyoto police said the suspect was a 41-year-old man, and Japanese newspapers reported that he had been detained and hospitalized for burns.

The fire, at the studio of Kyoto Animation, was the second case of devastating violence in Japan in two months, coming just weeks after a man went on a stabbing rampage in a Tokyo suburb, attacking 17 schoolgirls, killing one of them and an adult.

The attack in Kyoto was even deadlier than the sarin subway attacks of 1995, when the Aum Shinrikyo cult killed 13 people and injured thousands.

Its death toll was also higher than after a mass stabbing at a center for people with disabilities outside Tokyo in 2016, at the time the worst mass killing in Japan since World War II.
Three dozen people were injured at the studio on Thursday, and witnesses described scenes of horror there as the fire raged: victims climbing out of windows through gushing smoke, or racing out into the street screaming for help.

The attack touched a nerve among the Japanese public, and many poured out their grief on social media.

The hashtag #prayforKyoAni had close to 260,000 tweets late Thursday evening.

The studio has produced popular shows and movies, among them “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya,” “K-On” and “Clannad,” and has done contract work for the world-famous anime company Studio Ghibli.

There was little known Thursday about the man believed to have set the fire or his motives.

According to NHK, the public broadcaster, he was hospitalized with burns and had told the police he had splashed flammable liquid at the studio building and set it alight.

Citing the Kyoto police, the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest mainstream dailies, reported that the man had entered the building screaming “Die!” and then tried to escape, but collapsed on the street outside.

He was captured by members of the studio’s staff.

Arson is rare in Japan, and experts quoted by NHK said Thursday’s fire was the worst case in decades.

In 2001, 44 people died after a fire broke out at a crowded gambling club in Tokyo’s busiest entertainment district.

It was investigated as arson, but the authorities could not confirm that the fire had been purposefully set.

The cultural reaction to Thursday’s fire reflected Kyoto Animation’s popularity among fans of anime, the category of Japanese cartooning that is a backbone of the country’s popular culture and one of its major soft-power exports.

Kyoto Animation — known as KyoAni among its fans — was founded by Yoko Hatta and her husband, Hideaki Hatta, in 1981, and most of the studio’s production takes place in the building that was the site of Thursday’s fire.

Whereas most major anime studios are based in Tokyo, Kyoto Animation chose to build its operations in a separate regional hub, one of Japan’s most popular cities among tourists, admired for its historical beauty.

The devastation at the studio, said fans, would rip a hole in the anime world.

“Would it get across to people who are not familiar with anime that the fire at Kyoto Animation studio is ‘a loss of culture,’ as if museums get destroyed by fire in an instant?” one wrote on Twitter.

Kyoto Animation distinguished itself by paying its workers salaries, rather than by assigning piecework, as many other studios do, said Susan Napier, an expert on Japanese animation at Tufts University.

Animation is “very hard work,” said Ms. Napier.

“You’re usually overworked and underpaid and just killing yourself to get the product out, but Kyoto Animation was trying to be a more humane company.”

She said the studio was known for its high-quality series, combining science-fiction or fantasy elements with realistic plotlines and settings in high schools or real cities in Japan.

With roots going back to the early 20th century, anime has attracted an international following through artists like Hayao Miyazaki, whose feature “Spirited Away” won an Oscar in 2003, and Makoto Shinkai, whose movie “Your Name” was a global phenomenon, particularly in China.

Mr. Shinkai expressed support for the Kyoto Animation staff on Thursday.

“Everyone at Kyoto Animation, stay safe,” he wrote on Twitter in a message that was recirculated almost 19,000 times.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also expressed his sympathy.

“Today, we had many casualties in a fatal arson attack that happened in Kyoto,” Mr. Abe wrote on Twitter.

“It is so horrifying that I am at a loss for words. I’d like to express my deepest condolences to the victims. I offer my thoughts to those who have been wounded and pray for their recovery, by even one day.”

Witnesses who spoke to Japanese news outlets described grim scenes near the studio.

According to The Mainichi Shimbun, a large daily, a woman in her 60s living near the building said she had seen a young woman, her entire body burned, screaming and running into a nearby shop, begging for help.

The witness said the woman was bleeding, her clothing torn and her feet bare.

“It took a long time until the ambulance arrived,” she told The Mainichi.

“All I could do was to spray water over her under the fire department’s instruction. She was eventually transferred to an ambulance.”

According to NHK, the police are investigating a report by a clerk at a gas station about a quarter-mile from the studio who said a man in his 30s or 40s, wearing a red T-shirt and a backpack, bought about 10 gallons of gas at 10 Thursday morning.

NHK reported that the man carried away the two gas cans on a hand cart, saying he would use them in a power generator.

NHK reported that an official at the Kyoto City Fire Department said that most of the 20 people who were found dead on the stairs that led from the third floor of the studio building to the rooftop were lying on top of one another right near the door to the roof.

When rescuers reached the roof, the door was closed, though not locked.

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« on: July 18, 2019, 11:57:02 am »
Friday, 31st May 2019
Lawyer Explains What Led Client to Have Sex with His Daughter Amid ‘Jealous Competition’
by Matt Naham

A 40-year-old Nebraska man made headlines after it was alleged that he had sex with his daughter — who admitted that she and her half-sister were competing to see who could have sex with him first.

After a no contest plea and a jail sentence, Travis Fieldgrove‘s lawyer explained that his client is embarrassed by the situation and wished it never happened; the lawyer said Fieldgrove is not a “high functioning” individual, due to a past brain injury.

Fieldgrove, after initially being charged with felony incest, pleaded no contest to attempt charge, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Fieldgrove was sentenced to two years in jail with credit for time served.

After Fieldgrove is released from jail, he will be supervised for a year; he may not contact his daughter-wife (not a typo), Samantha Kershner, 21.

Kershner previously admitted that “her motivation to have sex with her father stemmed from a jealous competition with her half sister regarding who could have sex with their father.”

The Kershner-Fieldgrove affair apparently began innocently enough three years ago, when Kershner asked her mother to tell her who her father was.

Kershner’s mom identified the man as Fieldgrove.

The two met and then had a father-daughter relationship for three years.

That changed in September 2018.

Although the two did not reveal exactly how their relationship turned sexual, they did admit to police they had sex on Sept. 10.

An unidentified individual called police with a tip about the incestuous relationship.

Remarkably, upon learning that they were under investigation, the two got married on Oct. 1:

Evidence leading up to the arrest suggests that Fieldgrove and (the daughter) were aware of the biological relationship before being intimate, and further indicates that they quickly married one another after being notified of the investigation.

Fieldgrove initially claimed that he was not Kersnher’s father.

He said that his name was not on her birth certificate.

He also said that a DNA test proved he was not the father, but police said that was not the case.

In fact, they said, the results indicated that there was a 99.999 percent chance Fieldgrove was Kershner’s biological father.

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« on: July 18, 2019, 10:59:05 am »
Wednesday, 17th July 2019
Kevin Spacey Sexual Assault Case Dropped in Nantucket
by Gene Maddeus

Nantucket prosecutors have dropped a sexual assault case against actor Kevin Spacey, citing the “unavailability” of the complaining witness.

Spacey had been accused of groping an 18-year-old busboy at the Club Car restaurant in July 2016.

He was charged with indecent sexual assault, and a trial was set to be held in the fall.

However, the case has been teetering on the brink of dismissal since an evidentiary hearing last week, during which the accuser invoked his Fifth Amendment rights.

Spacey’s attorney, Alan Jackson, had sought access to a phone which contained texts from the evening of the alleged incident.

The accuser has said that the phone is missing.

The prosecution had relied on screenshots that were turned over to investigators.

Jackson alleged that the accuser and his mother had manipulated the messages, and asked at the hearing whether the accuser was aware that manipulating evidence is a crime.

After a recess, the accuser’s attorneys said that he would not answer additional questions.

The young man had sued Spacey in civil court last month.

His attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, dropped the suit a week later without giving an explanation.

Garabedian later told local media that the dismissal was not the result of a settlement.

“My client and his family have shown an enormous amount of courage under difficult circumstances,” Garabedian said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Hudlin TV / Re: What Are YOU Watching?
« on: July 16, 2019, 10:48:35 am »
Tuesday, 16th July 2019

Hudlin TV / Re: Star Trek: Discovery
« on: July 16, 2019, 09:09:16 am »
Finally, some discussion on Star Trek: Disco!  :)

Do understand the trick to understanding Star Trek: Disco season one is paying attention to what timeline each of the characters exist in & how they intertwine with each other.

Michael Burnham is fun to watch kick ass, yo!

Some criticism: 

the homosexual relationship scenes contain too information (if you know what I mean); editing needs to be tighter 

Some dramatic scenes involving dialogue seem to drag on. 

Overall, a new palette of the highest production values in visual effects ever seen in Star Trek television combined with new & aspiring actors. 

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