Obama, Trump and Surveillance
James Freeman reports: Another day brings another series of tweets from President Trump that have his opponents—and even some of his allies—expressing shock and outrage. In one particularly incendiary missive this morning Mr. Trump wrote, “ James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” It’s no surprise that Mr. Trump is once again dominating the news via Twitter, but reporters might also want to pay attention to presidential use of a much more powerful set of electronic tools.
Mr. Trump’s political skills have been repeatedly underestimated, including by your humble correspondent. But at the risk of being proven wrong again, the prediction here is that Mr. Trump will fail if he thinks he’s going to prevent the former FBI director from conducting effective media relations. This is Mr. Comey’s core competency.
Democrats expressed shock. “For a president who baselessly accused his predecessor of illegally wiretapping him, that Mr. Trump would suggest that he, himself, may have engaged in such conduct is staggering,” said Representative Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “The president should immediately provide any such recordings to Congress or admit, once again, to have made a deliberately misleading — and in this case threatening — statement.”
Mr. Schiff also took to Twitter on Friday to add: “Mr. President, if there are ‘tapes’ relevant to the Comey firing, it’s because you made them and they should be provided to Congress.”
So the ranking Democrat on the House intel committee clearly seems to be concerned about the possibility that a president would record the conversations of a subordinate in the executive branch. Rep. Schiff also spent years in Congress professing to be deeply concerned about government collection of telephone metadata, which did not even include the content of any conversations. So it would clearly follow that if the executive branch were spying on the Congress and a president’s political opposition, Mr. Schiff would be horrified.
Yet Mr. Schiff’s Twitter followers are still awaiting comment on yesterday’s report from a congressional colleague suggesting that’s exactly what happened. Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) appeared on Fox News Thursday afternoon and said that a Senate colleague “confided to me that he was surveilled by the Obama Administration, including his phone calls.” Read the rest of this entry »
Paul Bedard writes: In the latest sign that Washington operates in an alternate economy, journalism jobs around the country dove 22 percent in the last 10 years, but they spiked a whopping 38 percent in the nation’s capital, according to a new economic study. What’s more, salaries for Washington journalists rose 7 percent while diving nationally.
While 12,000 reporting jobs were eliminated in most markets in the last decade, the Washington journalism market expanded from 2,190 to 3,030. That is more than five journalists for every single House and Senate member.
In New York, by comparison, the drop was historic, from 5,330 jobs in 2005 to just 3,478 in 2015, said the study from Apartmentlist.com.
The study reviewed rents in major cities and showed how rents have spiked while the salaries of reporters hasn’t. That gap may be responsible for the shift by reporters, even award-winning journalists, to better paying public relations.
“Our analysis illustrated that reporter salaries are growing slower than rents in most metros. Nationwide, reporter salaries declined by 7 percent over the past decade while rents increased 9 percent. If this trend continues, publications will struggle to hire and retain talent,” said the report provided to Secrets. Read the rest of this entry »
The White House Correspondents’ Dinner has turned into a red carpet event for Washington’s media and bureaucrat elites. This year president Trump is not attending, which is a good thing. Fostering a little comity between Republicans and Democrats can bring the nation together, but a healthy democracy works best when there’s a frosty tension separating journalists and those in power. This weekend’s self-important gala encourages the executive branch and the fourth estate to get along; it would be better if we made them square off in paintball.
Music: Moonlight Reprise by Kai Engel
A gunman has shot two police officers dead before being killed himself in an attack in the Champs-Elysees shopping district, Paris police say.
Paris police spokeswoman Johanna Primevert told reporters the attacker targeted police guarding the area near the Franklin D Roosevelt metro stop on Thursday night (local time) at the centre of the avenue, which is popular with tourists.
One police officer was killed on the scene and one died later from his wounds, police sources said.
The person who fired on police was also killed and a police source said the attacker was known to security services.
French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said police officers were targeted in the shooting, but it is too early to say what the motive was.
A police union on Twitter said the first officer killed had been shot by an attacker driving past as the officer’s car was stopped at a red light.
Witnesses reported a helicopter flying low over central Paris, apparently part of a follow-up police operation.
Authorities called on the public to avoid the area.
Photo: A police officer stands guard after the fatal shooting fellow officers. (AP: Thibault Camus)
New shots were fired near Champs Elysees avenue, more than an hour after the original shooting a police source said.
The counter-terrorism office has opened an investigation into the shooting, the prosecutor’s office said. Read the rest of this entry »
The FBI spied on a Trump associate. Do they have evidence that Trump colluded with Russians, or was this a rampant abuse of power?
These latest leaks of classified information appear to be in response to Sen. Charles Grassley’s inquiry to FBI Director James Comey on behalf of the Senate Judiciary Committee he chairs. Grassley noted a February 28 Washington Post report, which used anonymous sources to report the FBI had made plans to pay dossier author Christopher Steele to continue investigating Trump before the election.
Paying an opposition researcher to investigate the Republican nominee for president in the run-up to the election “raises further questions about the FBI’s independence from politics, as well as the Obama administration’s use of law enforcement and intelligence agencies for political ends,” Grassley wrote.
Grassley demanded that the FBI turn over all records relating to the agreement, interviews of Steele, information on any government officials outside the FBI discussing the agreement with Steele, information on how the FBI obtained the dossier, any official reports that used Steele-collected information, any indication the FBI used the information before verifying it, and various other information, including:
9. Has the FBI relied on or otherwise referenced the memos or any information in the memos in seeking a FISA warrant, other search warrant, or any other judicial process? Did the FBI rely on or otherwise reference the memos in relation to any National Security Letters? If so, please include copies of all relevant applications and other documents.
These latest leaks answer that question. And the leaks about what intelligence agencies were doing during the presidential campaign begin to answer questions about whether the U.S. government has hard evidence that the Trump campaign had foreknowledge of Russian meddling and coordinated with Russians about that meddling, or whether there was rampant abuse of power in stripping an innocent U.S. citizen of his right not to be surveilled by his own government. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s the Reid Option. Get it right. https://t.co/ngAXGt8zfp
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) April 3, 2017
Rob Pyers was a laid-off grocery bagger who learned to code on YouTube. Now the website he runs, the California Target Book, is shining a light on spending by politicians, their campaigns, and outside groups.
Rob Pyers didn’t set out to bring transparency to establishment politics. In fact, he didn’t even have any programming experience before he built the electronic systems for the California Target Book, a go-to resource for political transparency in the state. He initially came to Los Angeles with aspirations of becoming a screenwriter, but ended up stuck in his day job, bagging groceries. Then Walgreen’s laid him off, and he needed something else to do.
After joining the Target Book, Pyers taught himself how to code, mostly by watching YouTube videos. Two years later, the 41-year-old has built its systems from the ground up, and now runs the website from his cramped West Hollywood one-bedroom. He is often the first to publicize major donations and new candidates, making his Twitter feed invaluable to campaign consultants and journalists alike.
Pyers, who describes himself as “95 lbs of concentrated tech geek,” has become an expert on pulling data from hundreds of voter databases, election filings, and campaign finance disclosures. He’s done all this despite the fact that the state’s main resource for campaign information is an inaccessible hodgepodge of ZIP archives and tables that even the current Secretary of State has called a “Frankenstein monster of outdated code.”
“California’s Cal-Access website is notorious for being just sort of an ungodly, byzantine mess,” says Pyers. “If you have no idea what you’re doing, it’s almost impossible to get any useful information out of.”
The state is currently working on a multi-million dollar upgrade to the site, with an expected rollout in 2019. But while the government builds its new system, the Target Book has already proven its worth. During one 2016 Congressional race, the L.A. Times used Pyers’ data to reveal that candidate Isadore Hall may have misused hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign cash. Read the rest of this entry »
Jon Lockett and Peter Allen report: Armed police have now sealed off all roads leading into the city centre as they try to contain the situation and catch the gunman.
French reports say there were several shots fired near the Porte d’Arras metro station at around 9.50pm.
It’s said a 14-year-old boy had been shot in leg and at least two others youths had been injured.
Two of the wounded were found at the scene, while the third made their way to a nearby hospital.
Those injured are said to have been shot several times, reports respected French news site La Voix Du Nord.
One of the victims is reported to have suffered a neck injury.
Although anti-terrorist police were called to the scene, there were later reports the shooting was a ‘revenge attack’.
“A car pulled up outside the station and targeted the three youths,” said a police source. Read the rest of this entry »
CRACKDOWN: FBI Arrests Man for Alleged Seizure-Inducing Tweet to Triggered Journalist Kurt EichenwaldPosted: March 17, 2017
The FBI arrested a man accused of sending Dallas reporter Kurt Eichenwald a tweet that Eichenwald claims triggered an epileptic seizure.
The name of the suspect has not yet been released, but FBI spokeswoman Lauren Hagee confirmed that an arrest in the case was made Friday morning.
Eichenwald tweeted that the man who “assaulted” him faces federal charges and is also expected to be indicted by the Dallas district attorney on different charges in the next few days.
‘It’s uncertain how many federal regulatory agencies exist.‘
Ethan Barton writes: Government agencies use “regulatory dark matter” to insert themselves into everyday life without congressional or public approval, a conservative nonprofit watchdog group reported Tuesday.
“The problem with regulatory dark matter is that it allows the executive branch of our government to rule sectors of our economy through mere announcements, rather than actual lawmaking or even proper rule-making.”
Federal regulatory orders include presidential and agency memoranda, guidance documents, bulletins and public notices that don’t require prior congressional consent, and empower the government to interfere in business and personal lives, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute report.
“There are hundreds of ‘significant’ agency guidance documents now in effect, plus many thousands of other such documents that are subject to little scrutiny or democratic accountability.”
“Congress needs to take back its authority over federal agencies,” CEI Vice President Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. said. “The problem with regulatory dark matter is that it allows the executive branch of our government to rule sectors of our economy through mere announcements, rather than actual lawmaking or even proper rule-making.”
Crews praised President Donald Trump’s efforts to curb government regulations, but said agencies “can still create dark matter behind the scenes,” and that additional congressional action is needed to curb the problem.
Recent examples of federal regulatory dark matter include Obamacare mandate waivers that extended employer mandate deadlines, Department of Justice guidance on transgender students, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s driverless car guidance.
“Congress lacks a clear grasp of the amount and cost of the thousands of executive branch” dark matter regulations, the CEI report said … (read more)
Source: The Daily Caller
What is Regulatory Dark Matter?
How do regulations get made? Agencies have to follow specific procedures, first outlined in the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act. The trouble is that many agencies simply ignore the law. Wayne Crews documents several cases of such procedural abuse in his new paper, “Mapping Washington’s Lawlessness 2016: A Preliminary Inventory of ‘Regulatory Dark Matter.’”
The rulemaking process has been updated and amended over time, and it can get technical. But the basic principles are pretty simple. For a detailed look at the process, see Susan Dudley and Jerry Brito’s excellent primer. Wayne’s point is that more and more often, agencies are ignoring proper procedure. Perhaps folks at the EPA, HHS, and other agencies should read Dudley and Brito.
The first principle is that only Congress can legislate. Agencies can’t just unilaterally issue regulations; Congress has to pass legislation directing them to issue rules. Agencies do have some discretion, but their regulations do have to have statutory authority. More and more, agencies are flouting Congress and acting on their own. In 2014, Congress passed 224 laws—while agencies issued 3,554 regulations. Recent examples of non-congressional legislating include net neutrality, carbon emissions, and subsidies to health insurance exchanges—which led to the King v. Burwell Supreme Court case.
Another principle is public participation and transparency. Before a new regulation can take effect, an agency has to publish a proposed version of the rule in the daily Federal Register. Once it’s published, that opens a comment period where anyone, from the general public to policy experts, can submit comments about the rule. Comment periods vary, but typically last from 30 to 90 days. Agencies are required to respond and take into account the public’s comments before the final version of the regulation takes effect. Read the rest of this entry »
Random thoughts on the fifth anniversary of his death
Andrew Breitbart died five years ago last week, so I’m thinking it might pay to remind people where the name “Breitbart” hails from: a man who is no longer on this earth, but seems to be felt everywhere.
First, Andrew was one of the deepest, funniest, smartest individuals I’ve ever met — and the world deserves to know him. Most people know of my relationship with A.B. — though I don’t talk about it much, unless I’m asked.
[Order Andrew’s legendary book “Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!” from Amazon.com]
In short, we wrote together, talked daily about everything. We conspired hourly for weeks at a time — from our start at the Huffington Post (yes, kids, he launched that site, and I wrote for it) to the Anthony Weiner episode — almost entirely and accidentally choreographed by Breitbart himself. He graced my show Redeye many times, peppering it with memorably absurd appearances. We always drank and sometimes got into trouble afterward (see the Opie and Anthony appearance after the Anthony Weiner press conference). I edited his pieces sometimes, helped organize his second book and helped when I could on his latest endeavors. This went on for nearly a decade, until his death.
“Andrew died a great man, and his life — and death — spawned a movement. In my humble opinion, you could not have had the election of Donald Trump without the phenomenon that was (and still is) Andrew Breitbart.”
Sadly, I had the honor that no one wants when it comes to a close friend: to speak at the reception following his funeral.
If Breitbart is part of your everyday lexicon, then you should know where the moniker hails from. Andrew Breitbart was a joyful, hilarious man. How many people know that? They must know that.
There is a grim silver lining when you die young. There’s no additional 30 years of assorted career changes, gaps of non-exciting employment and detours into events that muddy early great achievements. If you live
long enough, you become disappointing.
Andrew died a great man, and his life — and death — spawned a movement. In my humble opinion, you could not have had the election of Donald Trump without the phenomenon that was (and still is) Andrew Breitbart.
* * *
Andrew was about waging war with the left by using the left’s tactics. His foot soldiers are everywhere now, and their footprints are all over the faces of the shocked liberals who never saw them coming.
Andrew was inclusive, not solely ideological. He was a party leader who wanted a tent big enough for everyone, not a litmus test for locksteppers. He might have rubbed shoulders with the religious, the vocally right-wing, the hardcore moralistic — but he had no tolerance for those who demonized by lifestyle. Did you know Andrew backed out of CPAC because it initially refused to allow gay groups to speak?
When groups planned to boycott CPAC 2011, Andrew promised to throw a bash for right-wing gays. He wanted to call it the “first annual Roy Cohn CPAC Breitbart Homocon Welcoming ’80s Extravaganza.” Breitbart loved exceedingly long titles. Overdoing it was his way of doing it.
* * *
Andrew once was a liberal, but like all liberals with a brain, he wised up. He was a crappy student (he wasn’t much of a reader, he admitted) who liked to party, and he was a default liberal — simply because it was easy and without risk. But when he saw the Clarence Thomas hearings, he transformed from a goofy, partying liberal into a libertarian/conservative Reaganite. He worked for Matt Drudge and then he gravitated toward Arianna Huffington, working as her researcher before helping launch her celebrity-drenched site. He told me his purpose at HuffPo: By giving a voice to liberal celebrities about political issues, he could show the world how absurd their beliefs really were. Read the rest of this entry »
Two videos: 1, the New York Time’s “Truth” ad, which itself stands as mockery against the Times, then 2, the NRA’s rebuttal to the NYT ad.
‘The Same NYT that Just Ran a Self-Congratulatory Ad About How Devoted to ‘Truth’ They Are Stealth-Deletes an Inconvenient Lie from an Article, Then Refuses to Explain Themselves’
Simon & Schuster’s Adam Rothberg announced that the company and its Threshold Editions division would be canceling its publication of Yiannopoulos’ book, ‘Dangerous.’ It was due for release on June 13.
The decision comes amid a controversy involving a video from January 2016, in which Yiannopoulos appears to defend pedophilia. It resurfaced after it was recently shared on a conservative blog, and has gained traction and backlash over the past week.
— (((Adam Rothberg))) (@AdamRothberg) February 20, 2017
“We realize that Mr. Yiannopoulos has responded on Facebook, but it is insufficient,” American Conservative Union Chairman Matt said in a statement. “It is up to him to answer the tough questions and we urge him to immediately further address these disturbing comments.”
In the video, a 2016 episode of podcast “The Drunken Peasants,” Yiannopoulos discussed his own experience with sexual assault as a teenager. Read the rest of this entry »
Singer Joyce Villa wore a ‘Make America Great Again’ gown.
Scandalous dresses on the Grammys red carpet aren’t what they used to be. It wasn’t deep cleavage or a thigh-high leg slit that had tongues wagging about singer Joyce Villa on Sunday night. It was her red, white and blue gown emblazoned with “Make
America Great Again” in front, and “Trump” across the train.
It’s a controversial statement coming from an artist in an industry that’s largely in opposition to the new president’s social policies, not to mention from a woman who identifies as bi-racial.
[In other words, The Hollywood Reporter finds it shocking, and controversial for the President of the United States to receive public support from a non-white entertainer]
The singer-songwriter, who goes by the name Princess Joy Villa, teased the ensemble on Instagram with a photo of a heart-shaped clutch and a caption stating, “My whole artistic platform is about LOVE. I couldn’t be where I am today without the love and tenderness of those beautiful supporters and friends around me.”
Villa went on to say, ”I hope you enjoy tonight’s #grammyawards2017 and remember to forget your problems and focus on the future! You are infinite and beautiful and no one can stop you but you. Read the rest of this entry »
— GregGutfeld (@greggutfeld) February 12, 2017
MSNBC reporter Hallie Jackson ironically referred to Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos as a “flame-thrower” on Thursday while scenes played out of people at California-Berkeley literally setting fires the night before in protest of him speaking on their campus.
“Jackson’s use of the term ‘flame-thrower’ was humorous given that Yiannopoulos was not the one who actually caused parts of campus to go up in flames.”
“This protest developed overnight out at Berkeley because Milo Yiannopoulos, sort-of noted troll, sort-of flame thrower if you will, was set to speak,” Jackson said, as images showed of the chaos. Read the rest of this entry »
Rioters break windows, set fire to force cancellation of Breitbart editor’s UC-Berkeley talk
A planned talk at the University of California-Berkeley by polarizing Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled Wednesday evening after protesters threw smoke bombs and flares at the student union building where he was scheduled to speak.
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) February 2, 2017
“Violent left-wing protesters stormed the building and forced me to be evacuated by police and by my security detail,” Yiannopoulos told Fox News‘ Tucker Carlson in a phone interview from an undisclosed location.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries or arrests.
Yiannopoulos, 32, is a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump and a self-proclaimed internet troll whose comments have been criticized as racist, misogynist, anti-Muslim and white supremacist.
The decision to cancel was made two hours before the start of the event because a crowd of more than 1,500 people had gathered outside the venue, the university said in a statement.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence and unlawful behavior that was on display, and deeply regret that those tactics will now overshadow the efforts to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence and perspectives,” the statement read, in part.
Hundreds of peaceful demonstrators carrying signs that read “Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech” had been protesting for hours before the event.
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) February 2, 2017
In the evening, a small group dressed in black broke windows, threw smoke bombs and flares, and set a large bonfire outside the building. Some members of that group were wearing hooded sweatshirts.
The demonstrators were met by tight security in the form of law enforcement armed in riot gear. Some rioters broke windows and lit fireworks, while others pulled away the metal barricades in front of the building.
A shelter in place order was in effect and the Cal campus was placed on lockdown. Read the rest of this entry »
Victor Davis Hanson writes: After the election, Democrats could not explain the inexplicable defeat of Hillary Clinton, who would be, they thought, the shoo-in winner in November. Over the next three months until Inauguration Day, progressives floated a variety of explanations for the Trump win—none of them, though, mentioned that the Clinton campaign had proven uninspired, tactically inept, and never voiced a message designed to appeal to the working classes.
When a particular exegesis of defeat failed to catch on, it was mostly dropped—and then replaced by a new narrative. We were told that the Electoral College wrongly nullified the popular vote—and that electors had a duty to renege on their obligations to vote for their respective state’s presidential winner.
“Fake news is something quite different. It is not merely a public figure’s spinning of half-truths. It is largely a media-driven, and deliberate attempt to spread a false narrative to advance a political agenda that otherwise would be rejected by a common-sense public.”
Then followed the narrative of Trump’s racist dog-whistle appeals to the white working classes. When it was reported that Barack Obama had received a greater percentage of the white votes than did either John Kerry in 2004 or Hillary Clinton in 2016, the complaint of white chauvinism too faded.
“The methodology is to manufacture a narrative attractive to a herd-like progressive media that will then devour and brand it as fact—and even lobby for government redress.”
Then came the allegation that FBI Director James Comey had given the election to Trump by reopening the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails just days before Election Day. That fable too evaporated when it was acknowledged that Comey had earlier intervened to declare Clinton without culpability and would so again before November 8.
Then came the trope that Vladimir Putin’s hackers stole the election—on the theory that the Wikileaks revelations had turned off the electorate in a way the Clinton candidacy otherwise would not have. That storyline then evolved into the idea of Russian propagandists and Trump supporters variously peddling “fake news” to websites to promulgate myths and distortions—as a grand plan to Hillary Clinton and give Trump the election.
More specifically, it was alleged that Trump’s exaggerations and fabrications—from his allegations about Barack Obama’s birth certificate to rumor-mongering about Ted Cruz’s father—had so imperiled journalism that the media in general was forced to pronounce there was no longer a need to adhere to disinterested reporting in the traditional sense.
“No one has described the methodology of fake news better than Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor for Barack Obama and brother of the president of CBS News, David Rhodes.”
The New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour confessed that they could not be fair in reporting the news in the era of Donald Trump. Apparently, being fair had become tantamount to being a co-conspirator in Trump falsity. The New York Times in a post-election op-ed explained why it had missed the Trump phenomenon, admitting, but not necessarily lamenting, that its own coverage of the election had not been fair and balanced.
“Ben Rhodes cynically bragged about how the Obama administration had sold the dubious Iran deal through misinformation picked up by an adolescent but sympathetic media (for which Rhodes had only contempt).
Yet all politicians fib and distort the truth—and they’ve been doing so since the freewheeling days of the Athenian ekklesia. Trump’s various bombastic allegations and claims fall into the same realm of truthfulness as Obama’s statement “if you like your health plan, you can keep it”—and were thus similarly cross-examined by the media.
“As Rhodes put it, ‘The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.’”
Yet fake news is something quite different. It is not merely a public figure’s spinning of half-truths. It is largely a media-driven, and deliberate attempt to spread a false narrative to advance a political agenda that otherwise would be rejected by a common-sense public. The methodology is to manufacture a narrative attractive to a herd-like progressive media that will then devour and brand it as fact—and even lobby for government redress.
Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen has never been to Prague to negotiate quid pro quo deals with the Russians. Trump did not watch Russian strippers perform pornographic acts in the bedroom that Barack Obama once stayed in during a visit to Moscow. Yet political operatives, journalists, and even intelligence officers, in their respective shared antipathy to Trump, managed to lodge these narratives into the public consciousness and thereby establish the “truth” that a degenerate Trump was also a Russian patsy.
No one has described the methodology of fake news better than Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor for Barack Obama and brother of the president of CBS News, David Rhodes. Read the rest of this entry »
OSAKA — Keisuke Uranishi reports: An Osaka-based woman is amping up her creativity in a bid to make a difference as a cosplayer.
Shiguma Aika is a famous cosplayer who became known outside Japan about 10 years ago.
“I believe cosplay is a culture Japan can be proud of. I want to be even more creative than now.”
“We can overcome the language barrier and quickly get along with foreigners — that’s one of the good effects of cosplaying,” she said to listeners at the end of an internet radio program late last year.
Sporting bright white hair, Aika appeared on the show with three other cosplayers. Seated in a broadcasting studio, they looked like they had stepped out of an anime world.
“We can overcome the language barrier and quickly get along with foreigners — that’s one of the good effects of cosplaying.”But Aika is not content just to get into a character by cosplaying. She also uses it to express the world the character lives in and share its allure with spectators and other people. She aims to perform “creative cosplay,” shedding new light on the work in question and make it shine more brightly.
“In reality, wars are always going on. I had fun cosplaying, but then I thought I might be able to go a step further and use cosplaying to express [more serious] themes, such as the nature of war and love for humanity.”
For example, Aika and her fellow cosplayers performed a scene from a popular game inspired by the Shinsengumi samurai warrior force at a festival about Japan in Shanghai in February 2012. The Shinsengumi fought for the Tokugawa shogunate in the years leading up to the Meiji Restoration in 1868.
The performance won huge praise from the audience as they demonstrated a theatrical sword fight on stage filled with the passion of Shinsengumi members, many of whom died at a young age.
The festival was a formal event and commemorated the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between Japan and China. But the organizers, which included the Japanese Consulate in Shanghai, recognized cosplay as an important cultural field that plays a role in the “Cool Japan” promotional movement, and decided to invite Aika and her fellow cosplayers.
Aika said she gained a lot of confidence as a cosplayer at the festival.
Love and war
Aika comes from Osaka, and became fascinated with cosplay in her adolescence. She devoted herself to it more and more because she felt that trying to look like her favorite manga characters would bring her closer to them in mind as well. Read the rest of this entry »
Japan is warily welcoming Donald Trump as the US president, wondering what his administration will mean for their security alliance and already seeing what it means for their trade relationship.
But there are no such mixed feelings about Trump’s eldest daughter: Ivanka Trump is widely revered as the perfect woman here.
“This is the woman I like now. Ivanka Trump. I love it that she’s not only beautiful but also clever and has a graceful air. I think women should be kind and gentle.”
— Sachiko W. on a portrait that Trump had posted on Instagram
Among some Japanese women, Ivanka Trump is seen as an aspirational figure who has combined motherhood and career while managing to look perfectly put-together all the time (although her glamorous Instagram photos never show the retinues of nannies and assistants and hairdressers that answer the question of “how does she do it all?”).
Japan remains a highly patriarchal society, where men spend long hours at the office and women are often expected to give up their jobs after getting married or having babies.
“She is a good example that a woman can do an outstanding job and handle a misogynist father like Trump, without pushing too much of a feminist agenda or confronting men too much.”
— Shinzato, 32, a freelance writer and mother of a 6-year-old daughter.
But Trump offers an example of how to be strong but not scary, said Yuriko Shinzato, 32, a freelance writer and mother of a 6-year-old daughter.
“She is a good example that a woman can do an outstanding job and handle a misogynist father like Trump, without pushing too much of a feminist agenda or confronting men too much,” Shinzato, who blogs about Ivanka Trump’s fashion and lifestyle, told the Japan Times.
“That is something that Japanese women want but have a hard time doing in a still male-dominated society.”
As a result, the Trump daughter has quite a following here. The Japanese internet was abuzz after the election at a tabloid report that Trump might be the next American ambassador to Japan, and she won Japanese fans when she posted a video of her daughter, Arabella Rose, performing the song “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” by the Japanese comedian known as Pikotaro.
Japanese women gush about her on social media.
“This is the woman I like now. Ivanka Trump. I love it that she’s not only beautiful but also clever and has a graceful air. I think women should be kind and gentle,” wrote Sachiko W. on a portrait that Trump had posted on Instagram.
“Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka-san, who made it into the administration transfer team. She waved at me when I called out to her at the Trump Tower.”
— Mari Maeda, on Twitter
On Twitter, news announcer Mari Maeda posted a photo of Trump in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York.
“Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka-san, who made it into the administration transfer team. She waved at me when I called out to her at the Trump Tower,” Maeda wrote.
“What a figure she has even after having three children. So frank and cute! Her jewelry brand is popular but some fans say they want her to become the president because of her intelligence and beauty.” Read the rest of this entry »
‘Mr. Trump’s plans to eradicate violent extremists…’
“The emerging details suggest that Mr. Trump’s plans to eradicate violent extremists are not only at odds with Mr. Obama’s; they trample on American values and international law.”
The Times’ editors worried that Trump’s approach to fighting radical Islamic terrorism — which they referred to with scare quotes — is “more likely to further inflame anti-American sentiment around the world than to make the United States safer.”
“The emerging details suggest that Mr. Trump’s plans to eradicate violent extremists are not only at odds with Mr. Obama’s; they trample on American values and international law,” they wrote. Read the rest of this entry »