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[VIDEO] ‘The Simpson’s’ Predicted 19 Years Ago That Disney Would Buy 20th Century Fox 

Did an episode of ‘The Simpsons’ from 19 years ago predict the future? It shows the entrance to 20th Century Fox’s movie studios with fine print below the logo that reads “A Division Of Walt Disney Company.” The episode is coming to light after Disney purchased 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion Thursday morning. The deal includes Fox’s 39 percent stake in satellite broadcaster Sky and the 20th Century Fox film studio, Disney announced. It’s not the first time the show has had a crystal ball.

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NYT Only Finds the FBI Texts Newsworthy in that Republicans are ‘Seizing’ On Them

The New York Times has already moved on to the ‘Republicans pounce’ portion of the news cycle.

Becket Adams writes: Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is facing a brewing scandal involving hyper-partisan texts written by his former team members, and the New York Times has already moved on to the “Republicans pounce” portion of the news cycle.

Because that’s often the modus operandi for these sorts of things.

Peter Strzok, who specializes in Russian counterintelligence, was removed from Mueller’s team this July. The decision to take Strzok off the Russia investigation came after the Justice Department’s inspector general discovered he had sent and received dozens of anti-Trump texts between August 2015 and 2016 from Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer with whom Strzok was having an affair. Page was also on Mueller’s team, but only briefly. She returned to the FBI before the special counsel was made aware of the texts.

There’s really no getting around it: The texts are extremely partisan.

“I can not believe Donald Trump is likely to be an actual, serious candidate for president,” Page wrote in one note.

Strzok wrote in another note, “God Hillary should win. 100,000,000-0.”

“And maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace,” Page wrote in another text. “I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps.” Read the rest of this entry »


‘The Reasons for Chutkan’s Recusals Remain a Mystery’: Federal Judge Recuses Herself From A Second Fusion GPS Case

Tanya S. Chutkan, during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, to be United States District Judge for the District of Columbia. February 25, 2014. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

Chuck Ross reports: A federal judge in Washington, D.C. has recused herself from a second case involving Trump dossier firm Fusion GPS.

Tanya S. Chutkan, an Obama appointee, recused herself on Monday from a case involving a dispute over subpoenas issued for Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the dossier.

Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian tech executive accused in the dossier of hacking Democrats’ computer systems, has sought to subpoena Fusion GPS records and to depose its employees to find out more about the research firm’s work on the dossier.

Gubarev is suing BuzzFeed for defamation for publishing the dossier earlier this year. He denies the allegations laid out in the document, which was written by former British spy Christopher Steele.

[Read the full story here, at The Daily Caller]

Chutkan recused herself last month from another case involving Fusion GPS. The firm had filed suit against its bank, TD Bank, to keep it from complying with a subpoena issued by the House Intelligence Committee, which sought Fusion’s bank records.

Chutkan presided over that case from Oct. 20 to Nov. 9. It was reassigned to Judge Richard Leon, a George W. Bush appointee. Since taking over the case, Leon has indicated that he plans to allow more transparency into the court proceedings involving the battle over Fusion’s bank records. He has ordered several documents be unsealed and made public.

Chutkan has presided over the case involving the lawsuit against BuzzFeed since Aug. 31. Her replacement is Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee who assumed office in October.

The reasons for Chutkan’s recusals remain a mystery. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] #NetNeutrality Sign Falls Down and Knocks Democratic Congressman Off Stage 


PERVOCALYPSE: Dustin Hoffman Accused of Exposing Himself to a Minor, Assaulting Two Women

Cori Thomas was in high school when she says Dustin Hoffman exposed himself to her in a hotel room.

“He came out of the bathroom with a towel at first wrapped around him, which he dropped. He was standing there naked. I think I almost collapsed, actually. It was the first time I had ever seen a naked man. I was mortified.”

Speaking to Variety, the women described predatory incidents involving Hoffman that fit into a pattern of alleged behavior that has emerged in the wake of previous sexual-misconduct claims against the now 80-year-old actor.

“I didn’t know what to do. And he milked it. He milked the fact that he was naked. He stood there. He took his time.”

— Cori Thomas

Representatives for Hoffman did not make him available to provide comment for this story. In a letter to Variety’s owner Penske Media Corp., Hoffman’s attorney Mark A. Neubauer of Carlton Fields Jordan Burt called the accusations against the actor “defamatory falsehoods.”

Thomas was 16 years old and a high-school classmate of Hoffman’s daughter Karina at the United Nations International School in New York when she met the actor in 1980. An aspiring actor, she had spent a Sunday afternoon with Karina and Hoffman walking in Manhattan — visiting the Drama Bookshop, where, she said, Hoffman bought her a copy of Edward Albee’s “The Zoo Story,” and eating dinner at Jim McMullin’s on the Upper East Side, where she had veal piccata for the first time. They also visited the San Remo on Central Park West, where Hoffman, in the midst of a divorce from his first wife, Anne Byrne, was buying an apartment. Hoffman showed Thomas and Karina the apartment, which was being renovated while Hoffman stayed at a hotel near the house that he and Byrne had shared.

Photo by Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock. Actor Dustin Hoffman poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'The Meyerowitz Stories' during the London Film Festival

Photo by Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock. Actor Dustin Hoffman poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ during the London Film Festival

“This was at first one of the greatest days of my life,” she said. “One of my idols was spending time with me and talking with me respectfully.”

[Read the full story here, at Variety]

Thomas’ parents — her father was the U.N. ambassador from Liberia — were supposed to pick her up at the restaurant. But, according to Thomas, Hoffman suggested that the three of them wait at the hotel where he was staying and leave a note for Thomas’ parents with the maitre d’ saying they had gone to the hotel. After the three arrived at Hoffman’s hotel room, “Either Karina or Dustin suggested that [Karina] should go home” to Hoffman and Byrne’s house nearby, Thomas said, “because it was a school night and she had homework. So she left, and I was left in the hotel room with him alone.”

Shortly after Karina departed, according to Thomas, Hoffman went to the restroom. She heard the shower turn on. “I was just sitting there waiting for my parents,” Thomas said.

After several minutes, “He came out of the bathroom with a towel at first wrapped around him, which he dropped,” Thomas said. “He was standing there naked. I think I almost collapsed, actually. It was the first time I had ever seen a naked man. I was mortified. I didn’t know what to do. And he milked it. He milked the fact that he was naked. He stood there. He took his time.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ‘The 15:17 to Paris’ Trailer [HD]


BREAKING: Kentucky Lawmaker Facing Sexual Assault Allegations Kills Himself

Dan Johnson, a Republican state lawmaker in Kentucky, killed himself Wednesday night. He was 57.

Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings said Johnson died of a single gunshot wound on Greenwell Ford Road in Mount Washington, Kentucky. Billings said Johnson stopped his car at the end of a bridge in a secluded area, then got out and walked to the front of the car. He said an autopsy is scheduled for Thursday morning.

“I would say it is probably suicide,” he said.

Johnson was elected to the state legislature in 2016, part of a wave of Republican victories that gave the GOP control of the Kentucky House of Representatives for the first time in nearly 100 years. He won his election despite Republican leaders urging him to drop out of the race after local media reported on some of his Facebook posts comparing Barack and Michelle Obama to monkeys.

“Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings said Johnson died of a single gunshot wound on Greenwell Ford Road in Mount Washington, Kentucky. Billings said Johnson stopped his car at the end of a bridge in a secluded area, then got out and walked to the front of the car … “

The pastor of Heart of Fire church in Louisville, Johnson sponsored a number of bills having to do with religious liberty and teaching the Bible in public schools. But he was mostly out of the spotlight until Monday, when the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published an account from a woman saying Johnson sexually assaulted her in the basement of his home in 2013.

At the time, the woman told police about the incident, who investigated but closed the case and did not file charges.

On Tuesday, Johnson held a news conference in the pulpit of his church, which he began by leading friends and family in singing a portion of the Christmas carol “O Come All Ye Faithful.” He said the allegations against him were “totally false” and said they were part of a nationwide strategy of defeating conservative Republicans. Read the rest of this entry »


VOUGE: HRC TEENOCALYPSE


Nothing to See Here, Move Along

The research firm that put together a dossier filled with unsubstantiated claims about Donald Trump hired a top DOJ official’s wife to dig up dirt on Trump … (read more)

Source: thefederalist.com


Fusion DoJ: It’s Getting Hard to Tell Where the Clinton Campaign Ends and the Federal Law Enforcement Apparatus Begins

The Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington. Photo: J. David Ake/Associated Press

reports: Is animus toward President Donald Trump a prerequisite for landing a job with special counsel Robert Mueller ? Recent revelations in Washington also raise again the question of what former President Barack Obama knew about the decisions of his FBI Director James Comey to exonerate Hillary Clinton and investigate Mr. Trump in 2016.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

A top FBI agent and an FBI lawyer, who were involved in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email arrangement and the probe into Russian electoral meddling, exchanged texts disparaging then-candidate Donald Trump, including calling him an “idiot” and a “menace,” according to copies of the messages the Justice Department provided Congress.

Peter Strzok, 47 years old, was one of the highest-ranking agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was removed from his post with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling this past summer after a Justice Department watchdog launched an inquiry into the texts.

The messages between Mr. Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page include one in which Ms. Page tells him in August 2016: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.”

The New York Times reports on another 2016 text:

On July 27, Ms. Page wrote, “She just has to win now. I’m not going to lie, I got a flash of nervousness yesterday about Trump.” That text message was sent after the Clinton investigation had been closed. Days later, the F.B.I. began investigating possible coordination between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.

Recently the Journal’s Kim Strassel noted the stone wall against congressional oversight that has been constructed by Mr. Mueller, his Department of Justice colleagues, and Mr. Mueller’s deputies, many of whom have demonstrated their political opposition to the President.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Is there really no way to run a special counsel’s office or a federal law enforcement agency without appointing liberal political activists—or at least people with close ties to the President’s adversaries—to senior roles? Fox News reports:

A co-founder of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS acknowledged in a new court document that his company hired the wife of a senior Justice Department official to help investigate then-candidate Donald Trump last year.

Read the rest of this entry »


‘Perv Moore Loses in Alabama’: New York Post Cover for December 13, 2017

Source: New York Post


North Korea Readying for Another Nuclear Test? Satellite Images Show Heightened Activity at Punggye-ri

Sohae Satellite Launching Station is seen in Sohae, North Korea, in this satellite image taken on 17 September 2016 released by 38 North 38 North via Reuters

Over the weekend, Radio Pyongyang broadcast secret coded messages hinting at a possible impending weapons test.

 reports: North Korea appears to be pressing ahead with its nuclear programme. Satellite images recently detected hectic activity at the North Korean nuclear test site, Punggye-ri.

Experts say that after North Korea’s last nuclear test, minor tremors were detected near Mt Mantap, located close to the nuclear site. However, Pyongyang is now engaged in additional tunnel work at the site.

According to experts at 38North, a US-based think tank, the fresh activities were detected at the West Portal of the site – indicating that the site may be undergoing an expansion. Meanwhile, the North Portal, where the previous five tests were conducted, appears to have been temporarily abandoned.

“At the West Portal, there has been a consistently high level of activity since North Korea’s last nuclear test. This includes a routine presence of vehicles and personnel around the portal, movement of mining carts from the portal to the adjacent spoil pile and signs of fresh spoil being dumped onto the pile,” 38North experts said in a blog. “These activities suggest that tunnel excavation is underway at the West Portal, as the North Koreans expand the site’s potential for future nuclear testing.”

Ryan Barenklau, CEO and founder of Strategic Sentinel, a Washington-based nonpartisan geostrategic consulting agency, told IBTimes UK, “The tunneling is occurring at the West Portal and activity near that area has been relatively high for the last month. They are most likely digging deeper and expanding the complex underneath so they can continue their normal operations.” Read the rest of this entry »


‘Woke Barbie’ Torches Mattel Profits, Company Anticipates ‘Margin Deterioration’ During Disappointing Christmas Holiday 

Chloe Aiello reports: Mattel anticipates “gross margin deterioration,” during what is typically the biggest shopping season of the year.

Struggling to stay afloat, Mattel released updated full year and fourth quarter guidance, anticipating a disappointing holiday season. The toy maker predicts “gross margin deterioration,” during what is typically the biggest shopping season of the year.

“The unfavorable year-over-year gross margin experienced during the first nine months of 2017 is expected to continue throughout the fourth quarter of 2017, as a result of unfavorable product mix, higher freight and logistics expense, and lower fixed cost absorption,” the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “In addition, continued negative trends in top line performance for the balance of the year could result in additional gross margin deterioration as a result of higher inventory write-downs and discounts offered to clear inventory.”

Mattel said it expects its fourth quarter operating income margin to be significantly lower year-over-year, and anticipates 2017 full-year gross sales will decline by the mid-to-high single digits compared to 2016.

The revised guidance hints at worsening conditions within Mattel, which has watched its margins suffer for years from cheaper imports, competition from big box retailers and the impact of technology on toys.

“Based on preliminary quarter-to-date data for the fourth quarter, Mattel currently anticipates its gross sales during the fourth quarter of 2017 will continue to be negatively impacted by key retail partners moving toward tighter inventory management and by challenges in the Toy Box and certain under performing brands,” Mattel said in the filing. Read the rest of this entry »


WOAH NELLIE: Wife of Demoted DOJ Official Worked for Firm Behind Anti-Trump Dossier

Bruce G. Ohr was demoted at the DOJ for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump ‘dossier.’ (AP)

Investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year.

James Rosen and Jake Gibson report: A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump “dossier” had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than has been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official’s wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.

Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr’s duties – including whether she worked on the dossier – remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.

Fusion GPS has attracted scrutiny because Republican lawmakers have spent the better part of this year investigating whether the dossier, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, served as the basis for the Justice Department and the FBI to obtain FISA surveillance last year on a Trump campaign adviser named Carter Page.

“The House Intelligence Committee,” Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told Fox News in a statement on Monday, “is looking into all facets of the connections between the Department of Justice and Fusion GPS, including Mr. Ohr.”

Until Dec. 6, when Fox News began making inquiries about him, Bruce Ohr held two titles at DOJ. He was, and remains, director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force; but his other job was far more senior. Mr. Ohr held the rank of associate deputy attorney general, a post that gave him an office four doors down from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The day before Fox News reported that Mr. Ohr held his secret meetings last year with the founder of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, and with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier, the Justice Department stripped Ohr of his deputy title and ousted him from his fourth floor office at the building that DOJ insiders call “Main Justice.”

Initially, DOJ officials provided no explanation for Ohr’s demotion. Later, they said his wearing of two hats was “unusual”; still later, they confirmed Ohr had withheld his contacts with the Fusion GPS men from superiors.

A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump “dossier” had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than has been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official’s wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.

[Read the full story here, at Fox News]

Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr’s duties – including whether she worked on the dossier – remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.

Fusion GPS has attracted scrutiny because Republican lawmakers have spent the better part of this year investigating whether the dossier, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, served as the basis for the Justice Department and the FBI to obtain FISA surveillance last year on a Trump campaign adviser named Carter Page. Read the rest of this entry »


Matt Labash: Millennials Have Officially Killed the Holiday Office Party 

Thanks Vox.com.

Matt Labash writes: As we celebrate this Christmas season (or this “holiday,” for Christ-haters), I don’t wish to be a killjoy to the world. But reflecting on the year gone by, it’s hard not to notice that we have lost a few of our favorite things: Tom Petty, political moderation, our dignity.

And yet, as we’ve hunkered down throughout 2017 to weather every storm from Hurricane Harvey (the tropical cyclone that nearly destroyed Houston) to Hurricane Harvey (the film producer/sex-criminal who has all but destroyed famous men), there seems to be another death that has barely registered—that of the open-bar office Christmas party.

It is a time-honored tradition, and in Dilbert-ified America most cubicle monkeys know the drill: Don your smart-yet-festive sweater vest. Show up to your company’s voluntary holiday gathering, where absences are informally noted by supervisors who will passive-aggressively punish the missing come January. Pretend you enjoy socializing with colleagues that you wouldn’t invite over to your house on a dare. All while drinking until your liver cries uncle, or until Jones from purchasing miraculously transforms into a sparkling conversationalist.

[Read the full story here, at The Weekly Standard]

But the already-ailing patient might have died on the table last week, when news broke that Vox Media, after an internal sexual-harassment scandal that saw editorial director Lockhart Steele get fired, announced of their holiday party in a staff memo: “At the request of many of you, we will ramp up the food and cut down on the drinks.” According to accuser Eden Rohatensky’s Medium post, after an apparent drinking bout, the man eventually revealed as Steele caressed her hand and kissed the back of her neck in an Uber.

Vox Media, in case you don’t read the Internet, is, as they put it with characteristic modesty, “a prestigious modern media company .  .  . [that is] shaping the future of journalism and entertainment.”

The parent company’s myriad media outlets—or “brands,” as modern media companies now insist on calling themselves—include everything from tech-news site the Verge to foodie site Eater to the flagship itself, Vox. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Dershowitz: I have Lost 7 Pounds Because Liberal Friends Stopped Inviting me to Dinner Parties


MORAL PANIC: The Warlock Hunt

The #MeToo moment has now morphed into a moral panic that poses as much danger to women as it does to men.

Claire Berlinski writes: #Metoo, of course. Women are not going nuts for no reason. We’re fed up with feeling prickles down our spine as we walk alone on dimly lit streets. Fed up with thinking, “If he feels entitled to send me that message, what might he feel entitled to do to if he knew where I lived?” Fed up with strangers who smack their lips and murmur obscenities at us. Fed up with thinking, “No, I don’t want to go to his hotel room to discuss closing the contract. I’ll have to tell him my husband’s waiting for me to call. ‘My husband? Oh, yes, he’s pathologically jealous, bless his heart, and a bit of a gun nut…’” My husband is perfect in every way but one—he doesn’t exist—but he has served me so well over the years that I’m willing to overlook his ontological defects. I shouldn’t need him, but I do.

I’ve been fortunate. My encounters with law enforcement have been contrary to reputation: The police have taken me seriously, once arresting a stalker when he failed to heed a warning to cease and desist. But too many women have been murdered because they could not persuade the police to take them seriously. That stalker doubtless believes he was “unjustly accused” and “his life destroyed” by a hysterical woman. He’s full of it. I’ll bet he did the same thing to many women before me. Sexual predation tends to be a lifelong pattern.

Among us, it seems, lives a class of men who call to mind Caligula and Elagabalus not only in their depravity, but in their grotesque sense of impunity. Our debauched emperors, whether enthroned in Hollywood, media front offices, or the halls of Congress, truly imagined their victims had no choice but to shut up, take it, and stay silent forever. Many of these men are so physically disgusting, too—the thought of them forcing themselves on young women fills me with heaving disgust. Enough already.

All true; yet something is troubling me. Recently I saw a friend—a man—pilloried on Facebook for asking if #metoo is going too far. “No,” said his female interlocutors. “Women have endured far too many years of harassment, humiliation, and injustice. We’ll tell you when it’s gone too far.” But I’m part of that “we,” and I say it is going too far. Mass hysteria has set in. It has become a classic moral panic, one that is ultimately as dangerous to women as to men.

If you are reading this, it means I have found an outlet that has not just fired an editor for sexual harassment. This article circulated from publication to publication, like old-fashioned samizdat, and was rejected repeatedly with a sotto voce, “Don’t tell anyone. I agree with you. But no.” Friends have urged me not to publish it under my own name, vividly describing the mob that will tear me from limb to limb and leave the dingoes to pick over my flesh. It says something, doesn’t it, that I’ve been more hesitant to speak about this than I’ve been of getting on the wrong side of the mafia, al-Qaeda, or the Kremlin?

[Read the full story here, at The American Interest]

But speak I must. It now takes only one accusation to destroy a man’s life. Just one for him to be tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion, overnight costing him his livelihood and social respectability. We are on a frenzied extrajudicial warlock hunt that does not pause to parse the difference between rape and stupidity. The punishment for sexual harassment is so grave that clearly this crime—like any other serious crime—requires an unambiguous definition. We have nothing of the sort.

In recent weeks, one after another prominent voice, many of them political voices, have been silenced by sexual harassment charges. Not one of these cases has yet been adjudicated in a court of law. Leon Wieseltier, David Corn, Mark Halperin, Michael Oreskes, Al Franken, Ken Baker, Rick Najera, Andy Signore, Jeff Hoover, Matt Lauer, even Garrison Keillor—all have received the professional death sentence. Some of the charges sound deadly serious. But others—as reported anyway—make no sense. I can’t say whether the charges against these men are true; I wasn’t under the bed. But even iftrue, some have been accused of offenses that aren’t offensive, or offenses that are only mildly so—and do not warrant total professional and personal destruction. Read the rest of this entry »


Sweden attack: ‘Masked Men Attack Gothenburg Synagogue with Petrol Bombs’ 

A synagogue was attacked by around 20 masked men while hosting a youth party in Gothenburg, Sweden, local media have reported.

Police arrived at the scene, where Jewish students had taken refuge in the basement.A police spokesman said: “There are several molotov cocktails that have been thrown against the synagogue.”It’s about bottles and gasoline.”A fire broke out between vehicles in the car park, fire fighter Kristoffer Wahter told local news.

No injuries were caused and the building did not catch fire, Police inspector Peter Nordengard said.Initial local media reports suggest  the group was around 20 men wearing masks carried out the attack.

He said: “We are in place with a number of units.”Online police have said: “We do not know much more than there are several molotov cocktails that have been thrown against the synagogue.”

Authorities have asked for asked for information on possible suspects from the local community. Security forces arrived at the scene around 10.10pm local time (9.10pm GMT).

The incident comes after protests in nearby Malmo were reported to by shout anti-Semitic chants while protests Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

GETTY

Police were at the scene at 10.10pm local time

There is no suggestion the incidents are linked.

The US President’s decision was greeted by international condemnation as his fellow world leaders spoke out against the move.A “Day of Rage” was called in Palestine with protests held across the world, including the UK. Read the rest of this entry »


Indictment of Michael Flynn Reveals How the FBI Criminalized the Presidential Transition

Michael Flynn, former national security advisor to President Donald Trump, arrives for his plea hearing at the Prettyman Federal Courthouse on December 1, 2017. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Where is the ACLU when you really need them?

 reports: What do you call a system of government that cannot tolerate a transition of power without corrupt machinations by those unwilling to cede control? Banana Republic is a term that comes to mind.

The Special Counsel was appointed to determine whether Russia colluded with Trump to steal the election. Michael Flynn was indicted for a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador on December 28, 2016, seven weeks after the election.

That was the day after the outgoing president expelled 35 Russian diplomats—including gardeners and chauffeurs—for interfering in the election. Yes, that really happened.

The Obama administration had wiretapped Flynn’s conversation with the ambassador, hoping to find him saying something they could use to support their wild story about collusion.

The outrage, for some reason, is not that an outgoing administration was using wiretaps to listen in on a successor’s transition. It is that Flynn might have signaled to the Russians that the Trump administration would have a different approach to foreign policy.

How dare Trump presume to tell an armed nuclear state to stand down because everyone in Washington was in a state of psychological denial that he was elected?

Let’s establish one thing early here: It is okay for an incoming administration to communicate its foreign policy preferences during a transition even if they differ from the lame duck administration.

In 1980, President-elect Reagan’s transition was dominated by negotiations between outgoing President Jimmy Carter and the Iranians about the fate of 52 hostages that were being held in the Tehran. Read the rest of this entry »


IT’S ON: Justice Department to Probe Planned Parenthood Over Fetal Tissue Practices

John Bowden reports: The Justice Department is moving to investigate Planned Parenthood over the organization’s fetal tissue practices, according to a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

In the letter obtained by The Hill, the department requests unredacted documents from the panel’s 2016 probe into Planned Parenthood over claims that the organization profited off the transfer of tissue and body parts from aborted fetuses to research firms.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the committee, referred Planned Parenthood to the FBI last December, saying at the time that his committee had uncovered enough evidence for the FBI to investigate the claims.

The Hill reported last month that the FBI had asked the Senate for documents it obtained from abortion providers, signaling that agents may be investigating the organization.

The letter sent Thursday states that the Justice Department intends to conduct a “thorough and comprehensive assessment” of Grassley’s report.

“At this point, these records are intended for investigative use only,” adds the letter sent by Stephen Boyd, the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs.

News of the letter was first reported by The Daily Beast.

In 2015, videos released by the conservative activist group Center for Medical Progress showed Planned Parenthood staffers discussing procurement of “intact” and partial fetuses in exchange for compensation for expenses. Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES THEY DID: House Votes to Allow Concealed Carry Across State Lines

 reports: The House passed legislation Wednesday that would allow concealed carry permit holders from one state to legally carry their guns in other states.

Lawmakers passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which also includes language aimed at improving the federal background check system more commonly known as NICS. The combined bill passed 231-198; six Democrats voted for it, and 14 Republicans voted against it.

The legislation is the first gun legislation to be passed by the House in the wake of major mass shootings in both Las Vegas and Texas. While Democrats argued the concealed carry legislation would only add to gun violence, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said the legislation is the best way “not to infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens, but to enforce the laws against criminals.”

“This bill is about the simple proposition that law-abiding Americans should be able to exercise their right to self defense, even when they cross out of their states’ borders,” he said last week. “That is their constitutional right.”

But Democrats angrily opposed the bill, and said it makes no sense to consider legislation easing rules for gun owners after so many tragic shootings around the country. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., whose district includes Newtown, where 20 children were shot to death in 2012, called the bill an “outrage.”

“This will should be called the Act to Carry Any Gun, Anywhere, Any Time, by Anyone,” she said. “The Concealed Carry Reciprocity bill is an outrage and an insult to the families in Newtown and to the hundreds of families who have lost loved ones to gun violence who are gathered here today, at the Capitol, for the fifth annual vigil on gun violence.” Read the rest of this entry »


DOJ to Hand Over Official’s Anti-Trump Texts, Amid Contempt Threat

Tucker’s Thoughts: Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin both lied to the FBI in the Clinton email server case, but thy are not going to jail like Michael Flynn, who also lied. A partisan FBI is treating him differently. #Tucker

The Justice Department is in the process of handing over to the House Intelligence Committee the anti-Trump text messages that got a key FBI official removed from Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, Fox News has learned — a move that comes as the panel weighs a possible contempt resolution.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., had demanded the text messages between FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer with whom Strzok was romantically involved. Both were part of Mueller’s Russia team at the time. Page has since returned to the FBI, and Strzok was reassigned to the FBI’s HR department after the discovery of the anti-Trump texts.

[Tucker: Why Peter Strzok’s political views matter]

The existence of the texts first emerged publicly over the weekend. A source familiar with the discussion between the DOJ and House panel told Fox News on Tuesday that Nunes has been assured those messages will be turned over in the coming days.

The exact timeline is unclear, and only the relevant texts will be turned over.

Also unclear is whether this will satisfy committee Republicans who had been looking to move forward with a contempt resolution against top DOJ and FBI officials barring a breakthrough – after the agencies did not comply with a deadline to hand over long-sought information that goes well beyond text messages.

Rep. Devin Nunes.  (AP, File)

Nunes originally had given the agencies until “close of business” on Monday to “fully” comply with the panel’s demands. Otherwise, he threatened to move a contempt of Congress resolution against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

[MORE: The Incredible Tale of a Reckless, Partisan FBI Agent and Our Partisan Bureaucracy]

Strzok is a focus of their efforts. House investigators have long regarded him as a key figure in the chain of events when the bureau, in 2016, received the infamous anti-Trump “dossier” and launched a counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling in the election that ultimately came to encompass FISA surveillance of a Trump campaign associate.

Nunes has sought documents and witnesses from the DOJ and FBI to determine what role, if any, the dossier played in the move to direct the surveillance.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe is facing renewed scrutiny from Capitol Hill.  (AP)

[MUELLER AIDE FIRED FOR ANTI-TRUMP TEXTS FACING REVIEW FOR ROLE IN CLINTON EMAIL PROBE]

Strzok briefed the committee on Dec. 5, 2016, sources said. But within months of that session, House Intelligence Committee investigators were contacted by an informant suggesting that there was “documentary evidence” that Strzok was purportedly obstructing the House probe into the dossier. Read the rest of this entry »


‘The Lizard People Are Real!’: Armed with Assault Rifle, Pierce County Man Prepares to Battle ‘Lizard People’ 

PARKLAND, Wash. — A 55-year-old Eatonville man armed himself with an AK-47 and a pistol over the weekend to battle “the lizard people,” the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said.

The man told law enforcement that President Trump had called to warn him.

The man ended up being sent to a hospital for treatment and a mental health evaluation.

Just after 8 p.m. Saturday, a witness called 911 to report a white Jeep Cherokee was stopped at 108th Street South and Pacific Avenue South in Parkland.

A state trooper later reported that a man got out of the Cherokee was was waving around an AK-47 and a pistol.

A number of troopers and deputies converged. The man put the guns back in the car. He was ordered to the ground, where he began to scream about “sending in the news” and “the lizard people,” the Sheriff’s Department said.

He resisted when officers tried to handcuff him. A trooper and a Sheriff’s Department deputy both used a Taser on him, the Sheriff’s Department said.

The Sheriff’s Department says the man told a deputy that he had “snorted methamphetamine to lose weight” and that he was taking prescribed morphine. Read the rest of this entry »


Federal Officials File New Immigration, Gun Charges Against Illegal Immigrant Acquitted in Kate Steinle Trial 

 reports: Federal officials filed a new set of immigration and gun charges against Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, the illegal immigrant found not guilty last week in the murder of Kate Steinle.

“A federal grand jury indicted Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate today for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and for being an illegally present alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition,” according to a statement released by the Department of Justice.

If convicted of either charge, he could face a maximum of ten years in jail.

[AFTER STEINLE VERDICT, REP UNVEILS BILL TO IMPRISON OFFICIALS WHO SHELTER ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS]

Zarate was acquitted of first and second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter on Thursday. He also was found not guilty by assault with a semi-automatic weapon. However, he was found guilty of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Steinle was walking with her father and a family friend on a pier in San Francisco in July 2015 when she was fatally shot, collapsing into her father’s arms.

The illegal immigrant had been released from a San Francisco jail about three months before the shooting, despite a request by federal immigration authorities to detain him for deportation. Read the rest of this entry »


Why IS That? The New York Times Keeps Whitewashing Communism’s Crimes 

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Its ‘Red Century’ series portrays communism as a noble cause.

 writes: The Trump administration marked this week’s 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution by declaring a National Day for the Victims of Communism. The New York Times marked the same anniversary in a different way: by running a series of articles extolling the virtues of communism.

The irony of the series’ title, “Red Century,” seems lost on the Times’s editors. The 20th century was “red” indeed — red with the blood of communism’s victims. The death toll of communism, cited in “The Black Book of Communism,” is simply staggering: In the USSR, nearly 20 million dead; China, 65 million; Vietnam, 1 million; Cambodia, 2 million; Eastern Europe, 1 million; Africa, 1.7 million; Afghanistan, 1.5 million; North Korea: 2 million (and counting). In all, Communist regimes killed some 100 million people — roughly four times the number killed by the Nazis — making communism the most murderous ideology in human history.

Never mind all that. University of Pennsylvania professor Kristen R. Ghodsee writes that Communists had better sex: “Eastern women had twice as many orgasms as Western women . . . [who] had less sex, and less satisfying sex, than women who had to line up for toilet paper.” She has tough words for Joseph Stalin because he “reversed much of the Soviet Union’s early progress in women’s rights — outlawing abortion and promoting the nuclear family.” Yes, that was Stalin’s crime. Not the purges, not the gulag, but promoting the nuclear family.

In “How Did Women Fare in China’s Communist Revolution?” Helen Gao recalls her grandmother “talking with joyous peasants from the newly collectivized countryside” and writes that “for all its flaws, the Communist revolution taught Chinese women to dream big.” Mao’s revolution killed tens of millions of Chinese — not counting the millions killed under China’s brutal “One Child” policy, which led to widespread female infanticide. Those Chinese girls never got a chance to dream at all.

In “Lenin’s Eco-Warriors,” Yale lecturer Fred Strebeigh writes that Lenin was “a longtime enthusiast for hiking and camping” who turned Russia into “a global pioneer in conservation.” He fails to mention that Lenin was also a mass murderer who executed more of his political opponents in the first four months of his rule than the czars had in the entire previous century. In one telegram, reproduced in “The Black Book of Communism,” Lenin orders the Cheka (a predecessor of the KGB) to “Hang (I mean hang publicly, so that people see it) at least 100 kulaks, rich bastards, and known bloodsuckers.” (The telegram concludes with an eerie “P.S. Find tougher people.”) Maybe he was camping when he wrote it.

Berkeley professor Yuri Slezkine explains “How to Parent Like a Bolshevik,” noting that “At home, the children of the Bolsheviks read what they called the ‘treasures of world literature,’ with an emphasis on the Golden Ages analogous to their own” and that “Soviet readers were expected to learn from Dante, Shakespeare and Cervantes.” He does not say whether they were also expected to learn from Orwell. Read the rest of this entry »


The White House, Crown Jewel of Public Housing, Infested with Vermin: Cockroaches, Mice, Ants, Trump

Work orders for the White House reportedly show reports of mice and cockroach infestations in the West Wing, broken toilet seats in the Oval Office and numerous other problems.

The documents, obtained by NBC4 Washington, were made public this week just months after President Trump reportedly criticized the shape that it was left in by the previous administration.

“That White House is a real dump,” he said, according to Golf magazine.

While the president later denied the comment, it turns out there really are loads of issues plaguing the historic structure.

White House officials made hundreds of requests for repairs, equipment and pest control in 2017 with the US General Services Administration — many of which were similar to those made in 2016 during President Barack Obama’s final year in office, NBC4 reports. Read the rest of this entry »


Mark Hemingway: Why Liberals Have Such A Hard Time With Monstrous Men And Their Art

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While it’s not a universal truism, more often than not, bad morals make for bad art, and the unwillingness to say so produces even worse criticism.

Specifically, there’s no getting around Allen’s celebrated film “Manhattan.” Allen’s character in the film dates a 17 year-old Mariel Hemingway, as if an older man having a sexual relationship with a teenager is a perfectly normal thing to do. It certainly doesn’t seem so normal when you consider that Allen later started dating, and eventually married, the adopted teenage daughter of his then-wife Mia Farrow.

[Read the full story here, at thefederalist.com]

Dederer’s essay is worth reading for the thoughtful and self-aware things she has to say. Specifically, the downfall of others is always an invitation to look inward at our own flaws. “Even in the midst of my righteous indignation when I b-tch about Woody and Soon-Yi, I know that, on some level, I’m not an entirely upstanding citizen myself,” she writes. However, Dederer’s essay also unintentionally reveals a great many troubling blind spots about the explicitly political nature of the relationship that liberal America has with popular entertainment.

The False Choice of Bad Habits Justifying Good Art

By way of a discursive explanation, there’s this Bill Hicks bit — he can be a creative, even brilliant comedian, but I used to like Hicks a lot more when I was in high school and immature enough to think that being transgressive and angry passed for funny — about how if you had a problem with drug use you should probably just burn your record collection because drug use was so inspirational for so many musicians. The explicit point here was to force acceptance of the idea drug use is a good thing to some extent. Read the rest of this entry »


#Wheredidmattgo? Matt Lauer Apparently Quits Social Media Amid Firestorm 

#Wheredidmattgo? A day after Matt Lauer was fired by NBC the now-former Todayhost appears to have deleted all of his social media accounts and been excised from those of his ex-employer.

The online world quickly noticed today that the disgraced morning-show stalwart’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts have gone inactive. Read the rest of this entry »


Nikki Haley to China: Cut Off Oil to North Korea or Else

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reports: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday appeared to threaten to disrupt Chinese crude oil shipments to North Korea following the hermit kingdom’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday.

China’s refusal to completely cut off energy exports to North Korea have been a sticking point as the United States leads the charge to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Haley revealed during a speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York City that President Donald Trump called Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday morning to tell him the time has come for China to cut off crude oil supplies to North Korea.

North Korean soldiers patrol the bank of the Yalu River which separates the North Korean town of Sinuiju from the Chinese border town of Dandong, northeast China (Getty)

North Korean soldiers patrol the bank of the Yalu River which separates the North Korean town of Sinuiju from the Chinese border town of Dandong, northeast China (Getty)

“We now turn to President Xi to also take that stand. We believe he has an opportunity to do the right thing for the benefit of all countries. China must show leadership and follow through. China can do this on its own, or we can take the oil situation into our own hands,” she said.

Read the rest of this entry »


THE APOCALYPSE IS HERE: Matt Lauer Accused of Sexual Harassment by Multiple Women, Garrison Keillor Fired Amidst Allegations

reports: As the co-host of NBC’s “Today,” Matt Lauer once gave a colleague a sex toy as a present. It included an explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her, which left her mortified.

On another day, he summoned a different female employee to his office, and then dropped his pants, showing her his penis. After the employee declined to do anything, visibly shaken, he reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act.

He would sometimes quiz female producers about who they’d slept with, offering to trade names. And he loved to engage in a crass quiz game with men and women in the office: “f—, marry, or kill,” in which he would identify the female co-hosts that he’d most like to sleep with.

These accounts of Lauer’s behavior at NBC are the result of a two-month investigation by Variety, with dozens of interviews with current and former staffers. Variety has talked to three women who identified themselves as victims of sexual harassment by Lauer, and their stories have been corroborated by friends or colleagues that they told at the time. They have asked for now to remain unnamed, fearing professional repercussions.

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On Wednesday, NBC announced that Lauer was fired from “Today.” It was a stunning move for a co-host who was widely considered the crown jewel of the network’s news division, with a $25 million annual salary. The cause of his dismissal, according to sources, was a detailed complaint from another current NBC employee about inappropriate sexual conduct from Lauer that started on a trip at the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and continued for several months.

The employee met with human resources at NBC on Monday night … (read more)

Source: Variety

Minnesota Public Radio said Wednesday that it was severing all business ties with Garrison Keillor, the creator and retired host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” after allegations of “inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him.”

Over four decades, Mr. Keillor, 75, had created a financial juggernaut for the radio network with his weekly broadcast of songs, skits and tales of his fictional hometown Lake Wobegon, along with related books, recordings and other products.

In a statement he provided to The New York Times, Mr. Keillor said, “I’ve been fired over a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard. Most stories are.”

Effective immediately, MPR said, it will no longer distribute and broadcast Mr. Keillor’s remaining programs, “The Writer’s Almanac” and “The Best of A Prairie Home Companion Hosted by Garrison Keillor.”

Read the rest of this entry »


GLOBAL PANIC: Like Y2K, the Net Neutrality Crisis is Way Overhyped

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As the Federal Communications Commission nears a fateful decision on network neutrality, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Y2K all over again.

You may remember Dec. 31, 1999. That’s the last time the Internet was expected to die, because millions of computers were going to crash when their internal clocks failed to turn over to the year 2000. I sat in the Globe’s newsroom, waiting for the end. Nothing happened. It was quite a letdown.

Now here comes another “apocalypse.” On Dec 14, the FCC is expected to abandon the Obama administration’s policy on so-called Net neutrality, in which the government forces Internet providers to treat all data equally. Activists say it’s the end of the Internet as we know it, with giant Internet providers like Comcast and AT&T free to block or slow down access to key online services unless they’re paid extra to let the data flow.

But I’m betting hardly anything will change. Not the day after Dec. 14, the month after, or the year after.

An afternoon recap of the day’s most important business news, delivered weekdays.

I’m as subject to panic as the next guy, but I can’t see much reason to freak out over the supposed death of Net neutrality.

I’m on board with the principle that Internet carriers should not be allowed to block certain Internet services or deliberately slow them down to make them less accessible. Many activists go further and reject “paid prioritization,” or giving superior “fast lane” service to consumers willing to pay extra.

Serious breaches of Net neutrality are pretty hard to find. An activist group called Free Press published a “greatest hits” list of alleged violations. They found 12. Oops . . . make that 10. In two decades of widespread Internet use in America, they couldn’t find even a dozen significant violations, so Free Press padded the list with two cases from outside the United States. Even the remaining 10 are questionable cases that may have been driven by network security or traffic management disputes, rather than by efforts to stamp out rivals.

Still, the Net neutrality lobby, which includes massive users of Internet services such as Google and Netflix, wanted tougher regulatory protection. They got it in 2015, when the FCC decided to regulate the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

Some called it a life preserver for Internet freedom; I call it regulatory overkill on a massive scale. Even the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a staunch supporter of the Title II approach, warned in 2015 that a portion of the plan “sounds like a recipe for overreach and confusion.” Read the rest of this entry »


North Korea launches ICBM – South Korea FIRES missile back

Read the rest of this entry »


Disinformation vs. Democracy: Authoritarians Outspending U.S.

Authoritarian regimes like Russia and China are outspending the United States in the realm of soft power, Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told the National Democratic Institute’s annual Democracy Dinner at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C. last night.

“Our budget is $650 million—a fraction of what our adversaries spend,” he said “Today, Russia is spending over a billion dollars on covert propaganda operations,” he added. “Russian TV, radio, and internet bots continue to push misinformation without almost no pushback from the US.”

The authoritarian threat required greater investment in non-kinetic resources for exerting influence abroad, Murphy added.

“We have more people working at military grocery stores than diplomats deployed abroad,” he said.

Facebook estimates that 10 million people saw the [Kremlin’s] paid ads and up to 150 million people saw other content from the fake accounts, which Facebook has traced to the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-backed troll farm, WIRED reports:
Psychologists and students of advertising say the ads were cleverly designed to look like other internet memes, and to appeal to readers’ emotions. Jay Van Bavel, an associate professor of psychology at NYU, says he was surprised at the sophistication of the campaign. “It wasn’t transparent lies. It was just pushing our buttons,” says Van Bavel. “To me, this is more pernicious. It’s not a matter of fiction that we can root out with fact-checking. It’s more about turning Americans against each other.”

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“The IRA are not amateurs, they’re clearly familiarizing themselves with the kind of content that resonates with the target audiences,” says Renee DiResta, researcher with Data for Democracy, a nonprofit group that has been digging into the data on Russian-linked accounts.

The threat of disinformation and other active measures employed by the Kremlin requires adaptation and innovation from the advanced democracies, according to NATO’s Secretary General.

“Defense is no longer about just looking at a map and deciding where to place armies,” Jens Stoltenberg said this week. “It’s also about countering misinformation. Protecting infrastructure. Making our societies resilient to attack.”

“The geography of danger has shifted,” he added.

The NDI dinner honored three civil society groups on the front lines of confronting disinformation and false news – . Rappler from the Philippines, the Ukraine-based StopFake and the Oxford Internet Institute.

“When a lie is repeated 1 million times it becomes truth, especially when it’s state-sponsored hate,” said Rapplerdotcom‘s Maria Ressa. “A sock puppet network of 26 fake accounts can reach 3 million.”

Disinformation “exploits the fracture lines of society,” she said, adding that she received an average of 90 hate messages per hour.” Read the rest of this entry »


Army Tests New Super-Soldier Exoskeleton

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(Photo: lockheed)

The Army is testing an exoskeleton technology which uses AI to analyze and replicate individual walk patterns, provide additional torque, power and mobility.

Army evaluators have been assessing a Lockheed-built FORTIS knee-stress-release-device exoskeleton with soldiers at Fort A.P. Hill as part of a focus on fielding new performance enhancing soldier technologies.

Using independent actuators, motors and lightweight conformal structures, lithium ion battery powered FORTIS allows soldiers to carry 180 pounds up five flights of stairs while expending less energy.

“We’ve had this on some of the Army’s elite forces, and they were able to run with high agility carrying full loads,” Keith Maxwell, senior program manager, exoskeleton technology, Lockheed Martin..said.

Lockheed engineers say FORTIS could prove particularly impactful in close-quarters urban combat because it  enhances soldier mobility, speed and power.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] All About The Mahavishnu Orchestra with author Walter Kolosky

Meet Walter Kolosky, author of “The Mahavishnu Orchestra Picture Book.” Walter has written three books about the Mahavishnu Orchestra and we’ discuss the history of John McLaughlin’s group.

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To buy the iBook go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/maha…

To buy the Kindle Book go to https://www.amazon.com/Mahavishnu-Orc…


[VIDEO] Creepy Uncle Joe Biden: ‘I’m Sure That’s Completely Normal’


King County Superior Court Judge Slaps Down Seattle’s Ludicrous ‘Tax-The Rich’ Scheme

Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess at City Hall, Oct. 30, 2017. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times)

Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess at City Hall, Oct. 30, 2017. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times)

Seattle’s bogus ordinance is not authorized under state law. 

 reports: Seattle’s income tax on wealthy households failed its first legal test on Wednesday.

Seattle’s income tax on wealthy households failed its first legal test Wednesday, with a King County Superior Court ruling that the measure is illegal.

In a summary judgment, Judge John R. Ruhl agreed with multiple challengers that the city ordinance adopted in July is not authorized under state law.

“ … the City’s tax, which is labeled ‘Income Tax,’ is exactly that. It cannot be restyled as an ‘excise tax’ on the … ‘privileges’ of receiving revenue in Seattle or choosing to live in Seattle.”

— Judge John R. Ruhl, in a summary judgment

Opponents of Seattle’s so-called “wealth tax” immediately hailed the ruling as proof that the city long has known the tax was legally flawed, but nonetheless pushed it into law.

“The city knowingly violated several laws in imposing this tax,” said Brian T. Hodges, a senior attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, which represented several Seattle residents challenging the law. “This ruling is probably the worst scenario for the city and the best scenario for the opponents of the income tax.”

While Wednesday’s decision is disappointing, the city intends to appeal it directly to the State Supreme Court, where officials always expected the question to be decided, a spokeswoman for Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said in an email.

In a joint statement, Holmes and Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess said their goal is to eliminate the state’s overreliance on regressive sales taxes and ensure the wealthy pay their fair share.

Washington’s tax system has been called the most regressive in the country, meaning that low-income people pay a much higher percentage of their earnings than wealthier residents.

Ed Note:

has been called”.

Really? When? Where? By whom?

This is a passive lazy gesture, using weasel words.

Passed by a unanimous City Council vote in July and subsequently signed into law by former Mayor Ed Murray, the Seattle measure would impose a 2.25 percent tax on total income above $250,000 for individuals and above $500,000 for married couples filing together. The city estimates it would raise about $140 million a year. Read the rest of this entry »


Two MORE Women Accuse Senator Al Franken Of Opportunistic Ass-Grabbing

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One woman told HuffPost that Franken had grabbed her backside ass at an event honoring women.

Jenavieve Hatch and Zachary Roth report: Two more women have told HuffPost that Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) touched their butts in separate incidents. These are the third and fourth such allegations against Franken in the past week. Leeann Tweeden, a radio host, wrote last week that Franken had kissed and groped her without her consent during a 2006 USO tour. On Monday, Lindsay Menz accused Franken of groping her at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010.

“My story is eerily similar to Lindsay Menz’s story. He grabbed my buttocks during a photo op.”

The two additional women, who said they were not familiar with each others’ stories, both spoke on condition of anonymity. But their stories, which describe events during Franken’s first campaign for the Senate, are remarkably similar — and both women have been telling them privately for years.

“My immediate reaction was disgust. But my secondary reaction was disappointment. I was excited to be there and to meet him. And so to have that happen really deflated me. It felt like: ‘Is this really the person who is going to be in a position of power to represent our community?’”

In a statement to HuffPost, Franken said, “It’s difficult to respond to anonymous accusers, and I don’t remember those campaign events.”

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The first woman, who spoke to HuffPost on condition of anonymity because she’s worried she’ll be harassed online for making the allegation, said Franken groped her when they posed for a photo after a June 25, 2007, event hosted by the Minnesota Women’s Political Caucus in Minneapolis.

“My mother loves Al Franken. She listened to Air America every day,” the first woman said. ”I saw him and asked if we could take a photo together for my mother, and we stood next to each other … and down his hand went.”

“My story is eerily similar to Lindsay Menz’s story,” the first woman said. “He grabbed my buttocks during a photo op.”

The second woman told HuffPost that Franken cupped her butt with his hand at a 2008 Democratic fundraiser in Minneapolis, then suggested the two visit the bathroom together. She spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear that the allegation could affect her position at work.

“My immediate reaction was disgust,” the second woman said. “But my secondary reaction was disappointment. I was excited to be there and to meet him. And so to have that happen really deflated me. It felt like: ‘Is this really the person who is going to be in a position of power to represent our community?’”

The first woman, a 38-year-old book editor who was living in Minneapolis at the time, told HuffPost that she had just finished performing with a feminist choir at the Women’s Political Caucus event, which Franken and his wife, Franni Bryson, attended. After the ceremony, she and other members of the choir approached him for photos. Read the rest of this entry »


Ajit Pai : How the FCC Can Save the Open Internet

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We should undo the Obama administration’s rules that regulate the web like a 1930s utility.

Ajit Pai writes: As millions flocked to the web for the first time in the 1990s, President Clinton and a Republican Congress decided “to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet.” In the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the government called for an internet “unfettered by Federal or State regulation.” The result of that fateful decision was the greatest free-market success story in history.

Encouraged by light-touch regulation, private companies invested over $1.5 trillion in nearly two decades to build out American communications networks. Without having to ask anyone’s pemission, innovators everywhere used the internet’s open platform to start companies that have transformed how billions of people live and work.

But that changed in 2014. Just days after a poor midterm election result, President Obama publicly pressured the Federal Communications Commission to reject the longstanding consensus on a market-based approach to the internet. He instead urged the agency to impose upon internet service providers a creaky regulatory framework called “Title II,” which was designed in the 1930s to tame the Ma Bell telephone monopoly. A few months later, the FCC followed President Obama’s instructions on a party-line vote. I voted “no,” but the agency’s majority chose micromanagement over markets.

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This burdensome regulation has failed consumers and businesses alike. In the two years after the FCC’s decision, broadband network investment dropped more than 5.6%—the first time a decline has happened outside of a recession. If the current rules are left in place, millions of Americans who are on the wrong side of the digital divide would have to wait years to get more broadband.

The effect has been particularly serious for smaller internet service providers. They don’t have the time, money or lawyers to cut through a thicket of complex rules. The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, which represents small fixed wireless companies that generally operate in rural America, found that more than 80% of its members “incurred additional expense in complying with the Title II rules, had delayed or reduced network expansion, had delayed or reduced services and had allocated budget to comply with the rules.” They aren’t alone. Other small companies have told the FCC that these regulations have forced them to cancel, delay or curtail upgrades to their fiber networks.

The uncertainty surrounding the FCC’s onerous rules has also slowed the introduction of new services. One major company reported that … (read more)

Source: WSJ.com

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Todd Krainin, Reason

FCC Head Ajit Pai: Killing Net Neutrality Will Set the Internet Free

Promises that “we’re going to see an explosion in the kinds of connectivity and the depth of that connectivity” like never before.

& report: Todd Krainin, ReasonIn an exclusive interview today just hours after announcing his plan to repeal “Net Neutrality” rules governing the actions of Internet-service providers (ISPs) and mobile carriers, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai has an in-your-face prediction for his critics: “Over the coming years, we’re going to see an explosion in the kinds of connectivity and the depth of that connectivity,” he said this afternoon. “Ultimately that means that the human capital in the United States that’s currently on the shelf—the people who don’t have digital opportunity—will become participants in the digital economy.”

Pai stressed that regulating the Internet under a Title II framework originally created in the 1930s had led to less investment in infrastructure and a slower rate of innovation. “Since the dawn of the commercial internet, ISPs have been investing as much as they can in networks in order to upgrade their facilities and to compete with each other,” he says. “Outside of a recession we’ve never seen that sort of investment go down year over year. But we did in 2015, after these regulations were adopted.” In a Wall Street Journal column published today, Pai says Title II was responsible for a nearly 6 percent decline in broadband network investment as ISPs saw compliance costs rise and the regulatory atmosphere become uncertain. In his interview with Reason, Pai stressed that the real losers under Net Neutrality were people living in rural areas and low-income Americans who were stuck on the bad end of “the digital divide.”

Proponents of Net Neutrality maintain that rules that went into effect in 2015 are the only thing standing between rapacious businesses such as Comcast, Verizon (where Pai once worked), and Spectrum and an Internet choking on throttled traffic, expensive “fast lanes,” and completely blocked sites that displease whatever corporate entity controls the last mile of fiber into your home or business. Pai says that is bunk and noted that today’s proposed changes, which are expected to pass full FCC review in mid-December, return the Internet to the light-touch regulatory regime that governed it from the mid-1990s until 2015.

“It’s telling that the first investigations that the prior FCC initiated under these so-called Net Neutrality rules were involving free data offerings,” says Pai, pointing toward actions initiated by his predecessor against “zero-rating” services such as T-Mobile’s Binge program, which didn’t count data used to stream Netflix, Spotify, and a host of other services against a customer’s monthly data allowance. “To me it’s just absurd to say that the government should stand in the way of consumers who want to get, and companies that want to provide, free data.”

The FCC is not completely evacuating its oversight role. ISPs, he says, will need to be completely transparent with customers about all practices related to prioritizing traffic, data caps, and more. Pai believes that market competition for customers will prove far more effective in developing better and cheaper services than regulators deciding what is best for the sector. “In wireless,” he says, “there’s very intense competition—you have four national carriers and any number of regional carriers competing to provide 4G LTE, and a number of different services. In those marketplaces where there’s not as much competition as we’d like to see, to me at least, the solution isn’t to preemptively regulate as if it were a monopoly, as if we’re dealing with ‘Ma Bell,’ but to promote more competition.” Read the rest of this entry »


‘HUFF DADDY’: New York Post Cover for Sunday, November 21, 2017

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