Angela Merkel Says Border Walls Won’t Solve Immigration Issues

In a jab at U.S. President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel denounced the use of border walls during her visit to Mexico City on Saturday.

Speaking on a panel discussion with Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto, Merkel argued that building border walls disregards the root of immigration issues. 

?Obviously the main reason for people leaving must be addressed on site first, which means putting up walls and cutting oneself off will not solve the problem,? Merkel said, as translated by Reuters. Improving standards of living and employment opportunities everywhere should be prioritized, she said.

[P]utting up walls and cutting oneself off will not solve the problem.
Angela Merkel

Her comments take aim at Trump?s election pledge to make Mexico pay for a ?big, fat, beautiful wall? along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep immigrants from crossing into the U.S.  

A long record exists of such walls failing and friendly diplomacy succeeding, said Merkel, whose government has welcomed more than a million refugees into Germany since 2015. 

?It?s an issue you can study well in the history of China with the (Great) Wall of China, you can study it in the history of the Roman Empire,? she said during the panel. ?Essentially, only when great empires have managed to forge sensible relationships with their neighbors and to manage migration has it been a success.?

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The Bernie Sanders Movement Sees Light At The End Of The Tunnel

CHICAGO ? Last June, with the presidential primary season all but officially over, around 3,000 supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) gathered for the first-ever People?s Summit in Chicago to co-mingle feelings of elation and defeat.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was slated to be named the party nominee at the Democratic National Convention the following month. Many supporters indulged a fantasy of Sanders winning over superdelegates at the last minute to tip the scales in his favor, while others who resigned themselves to Clinton?s victory were simply ecstatic that a candidate running on a platform of democratic socialism came this far.

Though everyone agreed their diverse grassroots movement would forge ahead and grow stronger, few predicted it would ultimately be in resistance to a Donald Trump agenda, rather than a Clinton one.  

The result was especially frustrating for the progressive partisans sometimes known as Berniecrats. The disaster of a Trump presidency could have all been avoided, they thought, if Democrats had nominated Sanders, a true voice for the ?forgotten men and women? Trump claimed to champion. That the Democratic National Committee put a thumb on the scale for Clinton was an especially sore point.

Anger soon gave way to organizing. Buoyed by the rallying cry-turned-cheeky internet meme ?Bernie would have won,? activists, under Sanders? guidance, vowed to carry on the legacy of his campaign with a bottom-up democratic socialist takeover of American politics.

Those efforts have started to bear fruit, with progressives in the Sanders mold notching victories at the state and local level ? or making important inroads in the electorate.

In May, former Sanders delegate Christine Pellegrino won a seat in the New York state assembly by flipping a district Trump had won by 23 percentage points. A week before, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sanders supporter Larry Krasner won the Democratic nomination for district attorney ? all but ensuring a general election win in the heavily blue area ? on a solidly progressive platform of criminal justice reform. Other pickups include a mayoralty in Jackson, Mississippi, and city council wins in nearby Meridian and South Fulton, Georgia.

Consequently, when the 2017 People?s Summit began Friday in Chicago, it was not only bigger and stronger, it had a feeling that lacked from the year before: Vindication.  

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Just one day earlier, in the United Kingdom?s snap election, the unabashedly socialist Labour Party Leader ? and rumpled Sanders doppelganger ? Jeremy Corbyn helped his party pick up 32 seats in parliament, denying Theresa May?s Conservative Party an outright majority.

?It?s like what Trump did when he flipped the Rust Belt,? said 28-year-old Josh Youngerman, a former American expat in England, who volunteered for Corbyn?s campaign remotely. He noted that Corbyn flipped the support of many ?Leave? voters who supported Brexit.

?What that shows is that you don?t win running as a moderate,? Youngerman said. ?[Corbyn] ran as unapologetically left-wing.?

Krystal Ball, a political activist, former MSNBC host and one time Virginia congressional candidate who is among the speakers at the People?s Summit, said Corbyn?s win was validation the progressive movement is on the right track.

Fellow speaker Nomiki Konst, a former Sanders campaign surrogate, who is now a reporter for the Young Turks, said the U.K. election was also a morale boost.

?It validates a lot of our efforts as we?re figuring out what it takes to win: things like a progressive message and a strong on-the-ground campaign,? Konst said.

?What [Jeremy Corbyn’s victory] shows is that you don?t win running as a moderate.?
Josh Youngerman, People’s Summit attendee

Corbyn?s stunning performance has been such a jolt of positive energy to the American left precisely because the electoral record of candidates backed by Sanders at the national level has been decidedly less rosy than the performance of local candidates.  

In an early attempt to steer the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction, Sanders and his followers got behind the bid of key ally Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison to chair the Democratic National Committee. Key party establishment figures like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) joined them, recognizing the importance of the Sanders movement. But with help from former President Barack Obama and his close confidantes, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez defeated Ellison by a slim margin in February.

?Ellison?s loss was a slap in the face,? observed Kenneth Coleman, an Oregon member of the Democratic Socialists of America. ?It showed the [Democratic] party consciously rejected where all the energy was from.?

Sanders? record in special congressional races has not been much better, albeit against much steeper odds. Last month, he barnstormed Montana, where Trump defeated Clinton by 20 percentage points, for House candidate Rob Quist, a folk musician and single-payer health care advocate who supported Sanders in the primary. Quist ultimately came up 6 points short in the May 25 special election, despite his Republican opponent Greg Gianforte?s assault of a reporter the previous day.

Of course, Sanders followers acknowledge that high-profile, national electoral victories are often the end result of long-term organizing. A big reason Ellison came as close as he did to becoming DNC chair is because of progressive takeovers of state Democratic parties whose leaders can participate in the chairmanship election. Those efforts have proceeded apace since then, most recently with the narrow loss of a Sanders acolyte in the race to chair the California Democratic Party.

In his speech to the People?s Summit on Saturday evening, Sanders plans to emphasize progress in the policy conversation, according to advance excerpts of the speech received by HuffPost. Among other things, he sees headway being made in the support of a majority of congressional Democrats for a $15 minimum wage, a cause for which he can rightly claim credit as an early champion.

?We may have lost the election in 2016 but, because of the grass-roots efforts of activists throughout the country, we have made enormous progress in advancing the progressive agenda,? Sanders? prepared remarks state. ?Ideas that, just a few years ago, seemed radical and unattainable are now part of Main Street discussion and, in fact, some of them are being implemented across the country as we speak.?

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Kansan Faces Hate Crime Charges In Fatal Shooting Of Indian Engineer

WASHINGTON ? A federal grand jury Friday indicted 52-year-old Adam Purinton, accused of shooting three men at a Kansas bar in February, killing an engineer from India ? on hate crime and firearms charges.

Purinton is charged in the fatal shooting of Srinivas Kuchibhotla because of his ?actual and perceived race, color, religion and national origin,? and attempting to kill Alok Madasani for the same reason. Purinton also faces federal firearms charges for shooting Kuchibhotla, Madasani and Ian Grillot.

The shooting took place on Feb. 22 at Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas. President Donald Trump faced criticism for not speaking out against the alleged hate crime until nearly a week after the shooting. 

Purinton, according to reports, used racial slurs before the shooting and yelled ?get out of my country? around the time of the attack. Purinton fled the scene but was arrested at an Applebee?s in Missouri after he reportedly told a bartender that he?d ?just killed two Middle Eastern men.? Kuchibhotla and Madasani are Hindus from India and had worked for the GPS technology company Garmin. 

Grillot, who was struck in the hand and chest, said that he was ?more than happy to risk my life to save the lives of others? and that he ?couldn?t stand there.? 

Madasani recovered and is planning to return to work. He said he relives the night over and over again in his mind. ?I keep thinking what if we hadn?t gone out that night,? he told a local news station. ?What if we had stuck to going out on Fridays, as we usually did, and not that Wednesday? Would this not have happened then? Would we not have met the angry, bitter man??

The indictment says that Purinton ?committed the offenses after substantial planning and premeditation, attempted to kill more than one person in a single criminal episode, and knowingly created a grave risk of death to others on the scene,? according to a Justice Department press release.

Part of the reason that federal authorities may have taken up the case is that Kansas is one of just a few states in the country that lacks state hate crime laws.

If convicted, Purinton could face the death penalty, though the Justice Department has not yet determined whether prosecutors will seek it in this case.

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Baseball Game Streaker Looks Like He’s Having The Time Of His Life

Look at that face. That is not the face of a man who has been tackled hard, grinding his junk into the dirt at the Milwaukee Brewers? Miller Park. That is the face of a streaker apparently pleased with his exhibitionist self.

On Thursday in the second inning of the Brewers-Giants game, the naked-from-the-waist-down fellow ran onto the field from the third base stands , the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Security took him down hard. 

Then came time for his goodbye.

Here?s vid of his grand exit. We wonder if he?ll get his underwear back.

Warning: This video contains full-frontal nudity.

The Giants beat the Brewers, 9-5.

Like you came here for the score.

 

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Amid An Assault On Voting Rights, Here’s Where Advocates See Some Hope

As voting rights groups seek to expand the right to vote and push back against efforts to restrict the ballot, they?ve begun to coalesce around a remarkably simple idea that could be one of the most powerful tools for extending the franchise in the 21st century.

The idea, often called automatic voter registration, is that eligible voters should be registered by the state by default, and then given the choice to opt out. Eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted some form of automatic voter registration since 2015. In a reversal cheered by advocates, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) said in May that he intended to sign an automatic voter registration measure after vetoing similar legislation just months earlier.

While it?s too soon to assess the impact of the process, research has shown that simply making opting in the default in a situation can increase the number of people who choose to do it.

There?s growing momentum for automatic voter registration after Oregon became the first state in the country to implement it last year. Interest in automatic voter registration has also been heightened in recent years by attempts to make it more difficult to register and to purge people from voting lists, advocates say.

Under Oregon?s system, the state uses Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division data to register all voters and then sends them a postcard telling them how to opt out and how to choose a political party. Nearly 300,000 people were registered last year after the law went into effect.

The push for automatic voter registration comes as President Donald Trump has renewed focus on the American electoral system by claiming, without evidence, that millions of people voted illegally in last November?s election. In May, he announced a national commission to investigate voter fraud, which many have criticized as a pretext for implementing more restrictive voting restrictions. Voter fraud does occur, but several studies and investigations have shown it is not widespread. Several states in recent years have moved to implement voter ID policies, which create an additional hurdle for people to vote.

There?s no indication yet that automatic voter registration benefits either Republicans or Democrats, but Democrats have generally supported it while Republicans have opposed it. Hillary Clinton endorsed the idea early during her presidential campaign. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D), who pushed for the automatic voter registration measure as secretary of state, said the system could be used to fight back against efforts to make it more difficult to vote.

?The conservatives have a very intentional movement to restrict access to the ballot. This provides a level of security and cost-effectiveness and access that really could make for a paradigm shift,? Brown said in an interview. ?We have so many organizations and individuals spending hundreds of thousands of hours and, frankly, across the country millions of dollars doing voter registration. Their energy can be spent much more wisely doing voter education and engagement and empowerment.?

Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D), who is leading a Democratic voter protection effort and is president of a separate voting rights group, also praised automatic voter registration, saying it would get more people to the ballot box.

?Automatic voter registration is one of the easiest ways to get young people involved and make sure they stay involved in the electoral process. We know that when folks start voting early, they keep voting throughout their lives,? he said in a statement. ?The easier it is to register, the easier it is to vote, so I?m encouraged more states are looking at this. Along with legislation passed across the country, the issue will be on the ballot in Nevada, where we intend to help pass it.?

We know that when folks start voting early, they keep voting throughout their lives
Jason Kander

Michael Tyler, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said Democrats are committed to pushing automatic voter registration.

?Automatic voter registration is a perfect example of Democrats going on offense to expand access to the ballot box,? he said in a statement.

In 2017, lawmakers in 32 states, including some deep Republican ones, have introduced automatic voter registration legislation, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

Advocates are looking to Oregon for evidence of the effects of automatic voter registration that can be used to push it in other states. An analysis of Oregon voters registered following the implementation of automatic voter registration released Wednesday by the left-leaning Center for American Progress found that it added over 272,000 people to the state?s voter rolls.

CAP estimated more than 116,000 of those registered to vote through the process wouldn?t have registered on their own and that 40,000 of those newly registered cast a ballot. Those who were registered to vote through the process were more likely to live in suburban areas than urban ones. They were also more likely to be in racially diverse areas, as well as areas with low- and middle-income residents.

Even though automatic voter registration is having a moment now, it?s been an idea long championed by advocates. David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, noted that automatic voter registration essentially was required by the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which mandates that all DMVs provide the opportunity to register to vote on a driver?s license form (though most states just give applicants the choice to opt in).

In 2001, a bipartisan commission on improving elections led by former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter blamed the low voter turnout rate in the United States in part on onerous registration procedures and called for better integration between state agencies and election officials. By 2007, groups like the New America Foundation and the Brennan Center were calling for automatic voter registration, but states lacked the technology to implement it.

Kathy Culliton-Gonzalez, a lawyer who works on automatic voter registration at Demos, a progressive think tank, said some of the momentum toward automatic voter registration was born out of the controversy surrounding the results of the 2000 election, long lines to vote across the country in the 2012 election and efforts to pass voter ID laws to make it more difficult to vote.

?After Bush v. Gore is really when our country started thinking, maybe for the first time after the civil rights movement, there?s really a lot of emphasis on elections, what?s going on with elections, how can elections be so close, how can the technology be so bad,? she said. ?It almost seems like the purging and using data to get people off the rolls came out a lot earlier and a lot stronger than the idea of using technology to get people on the rolls.?

?Thinking about the way in which anti-voter forces are succeeding in many cases in constraining the electorate and keeping eligible citizens away from the ballot, maybe it becomes even more pressing to really move forward with the common-sense solutions that would do a greater job of opening our democracy for every citizen to be able to exercise their voice at the polls,? said Liz Kennedy, director of democracy and government reform at CAP and an author of the CAP analysis of Oregon?s law.

Despite any evidence that automatic voter registration helps a particular party, Democrats largely have had to push the measure on their own. Almost all of the states that have passed automatic voter registration have been Democratic ones, Becker noted. Republican governors in New Jersey and Nevada have vetoed legislation that passed in their states.

Two states, Illinois and West Virginia, have been bipartisan exceptions. The Illinois version of automatic voter registration, which expands registration opportunities beyond interactions with the motor vehicles agency, requires citizens to affirm they are eligible to vote and gives them the option to opt out on the spot ? a concession some worry will confuse voters. Advocates estimate the measure will add over 1 million voters to the rolls.

In West Virginia, Republicans pushed automatic voter registration, but it was wedded to a bill requiring voter ID.

In her state, Brown said she didn?t get the support of even one Republican on automatic voter registration, and she also faced concerns from some progressive groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union over privacy and security issues. She was only able to pass the bill, she said, because Democrats had progressive majorities in both chambers of the legislature.

Selling the law, Brown said, wasn?t just about presenting a case for making it easier to vote, but showing that automatic voter registration could provide a more efficient service.

?We are always asking government to deliver better services to our citizens, more cost effectively, this does exactly that,? she said. ?The reason they don?t want to do this is they don?t want people?s voices heard.?

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Twitter Users Lose It Over James Comey’s ‘Lordy, I Hope There Are Tapes’ Comment

Former FBI Director James Comey said he hopes President Donald Trump releases recordings of their conversations ? and, lordy, Twitter was all about it.

During his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, Comey described ?inappropriate? comments he said Trump had made to him since January. He also encouraged the president to release any ?tapes? he might have of their interactions, as Trump hinted he might do last month.

?Look, I?ve seen the tweet about tapes,? Comey told Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). ?Lordy, I hope there are tapes.?

?Release all the tapes,? he added. ?I?m good with it.?

Turns out, a lot of people on Twitter feel the same way.

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Human Rights Groups Urge Senate To Block Trump’s Saudi Arms Deal

WASHINGTON ? A group of prominent human rights groups is asking senators to use a Thursday vote to block President Donald Trump?s plan to sell Saudi Arabia a weapon shipment to be used in its controversial U.S.-backed campaign in Yemen.

A letter signed by Oxfam, the Center for Civilians in Conflict, CREDO, the Yemen Peace Project and more than 30 other humanitarian groups went to each Senate office Thursday morning. The message, provided exclusively to HuffPost, excoriates Trump?s approval of a $510 million munitions deal that had been blocked by the Obama administration. It is a small part of the $110 billion arms agreement with the Saudis that Trump announced last month.

?Moving forward with this sale will exacerbate the already dire humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which has left more than 7 million civilians on the brink of famine, at least 8,000 dead and 44,000 injured from conflict, nearly 20 million people facing extreme hunger, and 19 of the country?s 21 governorates facing an unprecedented cholera epidemic that is spiraling out of control,? the letter says. ?At a time when the president appears to have solidified a transactional approach to foreign affairs, it is incumbent upon Congress to ensure that moral concerns, particularly America?s commitment to defending human rights, remain a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy.?

The letter cites a legal analysis sent to the Senate by former military judge advocate Michael Newton. Further arms shipments to the Saudis would be illegal because of U.S. laws governing weapon sales, Newton wrote.

And the message says the supporters of the deal are being misleading when they say offering the Saudis more of the precision-guided munitions in the $510 million deal will lead to reduced suffering in the two-year conflict. ?Despite increased U.S. support in the form of training and smarter weaponry to lessen civilian casualties, it has become clear that several unaddressed flaws in Saudi Arabia?s targeting process, not the precision of the munition or targeting skill, are the principal cause of harm,? the letter continues.

Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) set up the resolution that would force a Senate vote on whether to block the precision-guided arms sale after the Trump administration told the Senate it would go ahead with the package last month. 

?It is time we pause and consider the repercussions before we continue to fuel arms races around the world,? Paul said at the time.

The same group forced a vote last fall on the sale of $1.15 billion worth of tanks. Back then, 24 other senators joined them to vote against the sale.

Now, with the Trump administration pulling the Saudis closer and amid greater worry about what they might do with more impunity, the measure?s opponents see an opportunity.

Murphy struck an optimistic tone in a Thursday afternoon call organized by Oxfam.

?I think it?s going to be a close vote. I don?t know if it?s going to prevail, but it?s going to be a closer vote ? a much closer vote ? than the resolution that was before the Senate last fall,? Murphy said. ?Senators are increasingly worried that the United States is participating in the creation of a famine inside Yemen.?

Even senators supportive of the Saudis? argument that they must fight in Yemen to tame Iran-backed militants now seem to see the value in imposing some limits, Murphy added. He said he expects many Democrats and some Republicans to vote against the arms shipment.

Sen. Todd Young (R-Mo.) is expected to be among the critical votes. Young exemplifies a more moderate position on the GOP side than Paul and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah): He wants to maintain the relationship with Saudi Arabia, but he believes there are strong humanitarian reasons to urge greater Saudi caution, he told reporters last month.

On Wednesday, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, announced that he would vote with Murphy and Franken ? giving them one high-profile supporter they did not have last fall.

Trump?s decision on the precision-guided munitions came a day before he arrived in Saudi Arabia and inked what he called a $110 billion package for the kingdom. On Monday, Brookings Institution analyst Bruce Riedel wrote that Trump overstated his claim. ?What the Saudis and the administration did is put together a notional package of the Saudi wish list of possible deals and portray that as a deal. Even then the numbers don?t add up. It?s fake news,? Riedel wrote. 

The vote comes at a time when the Saudis are especially sensitive to criticism from Washington. On Sunday, Saudi Arabia and other U.S.-aligned countries, including the United Arab Emirates, unexpectedly cut ties with Qatar, the U.S. partner nation that hosts the region?s largest American military base. 

Though Trump briefly appeared to weigh in on the Saudi side, his administration has largely tried to defuse tensions, and he personally called the Qatari ruler on Wednesday.

Experts on the region believe the Saudi-UAE move may have convinced more decision-makers in the U.S. that they need to hedge their bets ? and avoid being too wedded to the Saudis? often controversial foreign policy.

Murphy stressed that point Thursday.

?I think it?s a mistake for the United States to weigh in so heavily and so definitively on the Sunni side of the growing set of proxy wars between the Saudis and their allies and the Iranians and their allies,? he said. (The Sunni branch of Islam is the majority group worldwide but a minority in Iran; the Saudi leadership is Sunni, while that of Iran follows the rival Shiite branch.)

?President Trump just has a total lack of a nuanced understanding of the region. The Qataris are not perfect actors. But neither are the Saudis. Qataris have positioned themselves as one of the few countries that can act as a bridge between the Saudis and the Iranians,? Murphy added. ?Ultimately, it?s in the U.S. national security interest for there to be an end to hostilities between the Saudis and the Iranians.?

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Let’s Be Honest, Donald Trump Will Survive James Comey’s Testimony

When former FBI Director James Comey appears before Congress on Thursday, he will reveal painful truths about the pressures President Donald Trump put on him. He will add explosive chapters to the ongoing saga of Russia?s interference in the 2016 election. He may very well end up raising questions about Trump?s temperament.

But one thing he?s unlikely to do, even the president?s critics concede, is expedite Trump?s demise.

?Watergate did not bring Richard Nixon down overnight,? said Brian Fallon, Hillary Clinton?s press secretary during the 2016 campaign. ?While this scandal feels like it?s playing out at lightning speed, it is still going to take months to fully get to the bottom of things. The Comey hearing may well be an iconic moment, but it won?t be the ballgame.?

Among many impassioned critics of the president, a belief persists that a single act of sheer stupidity or controversy or embarrassment will undo Trump. It?s a theory that extends back to Trump?s formal entrance into electoral politics, when he descended his gilded escalator and called a subset of Mexicans ?rapists.? It regained life regularly during the campaign and has followed him to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where each revelation of murky ethics and professional malfeasance prompts another round of ?surely this will do him in? chatter.

And yet, Trump remains ? wounded professionally but there nonetheless.

His perseverance is, perhaps, his greatest political strength, continually befuddling opponents. Alex Conant, who served as the primary spokesman for the presidential campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), recalled watching Trump disparage Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for becoming a prisoner of war during Vietnam and suggest that Megyn Kelly?s menstrual cycle was responsible for her tough debate questioning. Conant assumed the end was near for Trump after those comments.

?I was wrong,? Conant conceded. ?He is not held to the same standard as other politicians because people don?t look at him as a politician. They look at him as a celebrity and businessman.?

The Comey hearing has raised a familiar pattern of speculation and ? in some corners ? wishful thinking. It?s been treated as a must-watch affair, fit for cable news countdown clocks, and hailed as the facilitating moment of Trump?s downfall. And for good reason. Comey?s testimony to the Senate intelligence committee will confirm that Trump demanded personal loyalty and that Comey shelve investigations. On top of that, Comey has a history of using dramatic testimony to cripple administrations. 

But those who have tried to take down Trump caution against expecting the former FBI director to deliver the proverbial ?kill shot.?

Part of that is because much of what Comey is set to say has been digested by the public before. Trump already told NBC?s Lester Holt that he fired Comey to get out from underneath the Russia investigation ? an admission of obstruction of justice whose fleeting shock value was lampooned on ?Saturday Night Live.? On top of that, it was already reported that the president pressured Comey to pledge loyalty, and that Comey felt uncomfortable being left alone with Trump, and that Trump encouraged him to end inquiries into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

?The only thing missing is we haven?t heard Comey saying these things out loud,? said Rory Cooper, a longtime GOP operative and vocal Trump critic. ?We will have video of it but that is already out.? 

But the main reason Trump will survive is that Republicans, who control the levers of power, continue to feel a commitment to ensuring so. The immediate reaction to Comey?s written testimony, which was released in advance on Wednesday, had some of the party?s intellectuals decrying an abuse of power and an obstruction of justice. But others rushed to claim it a nothing-burger.

There was less division within the universe of elected officials, who largely rushed to defend Trump from Comey?s story. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) argued that it had confirmed Trump?s insistence that he was never under investigation. Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) pleaded that all it showed was Trump?s every-man ignorance of how Washington?s legal constructs work. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) practically yawned.

?[F]rom what I?ve been briefed on, it sounds like it?s much of what?s already been reported, but it?s fairly rich in detail and color,? Ryan told MSNBC. ?But the substance seems to me, from what I?ve understood, similar to what we?ve already been hearing.?

If this is, indeed, how the Republican Party will embrace the Comey news, then Trump can rest comfortably. Not just because the process of impeachment (itself a pipe dream, many Democrats concede) is a political process. But because it illustrates that he still has sway over the party?s voters, still strikes fear in the heart of its elected officials, and still has the capacity to persist through scandal, even in his diminished state.

?Sitting around and waiting for one moment to derail his presidency is probably going to result in a long wait,? said Cooper. ?It has been pretty clear that Trump can exhibit almost any behavior and not really change the fact that he?s at 37 percent [approval rating].?

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Parents Defend David Beckham After Criticism For Kissing His Daughter On The Lips

David Beckham has joined the ranks of moms and dads who?ve been publicly shamed. Luckily, his fellow parents came to his defense.

While on vacation in Tanzania on Thursday, the retired soccer star posted a photo of himself kissing his 5-year-old daughter on the lips on Instagram. In the caption, he wrote, ?Kiss for Daddy.? 

A post shared by David Beckham (@davidbeckham) on

The photo received over 1.8 million likes on Instagram, and the comments section is filled with positive messages to the dad. However, there were some negative reactions as well.

?Disgusting u pervert,? wrote on commenter. ?Tbh kissing your daughter on the lips is a little weird…? wrote another.

?This is perverse,? another commented. ?DISGUSTING! What a sick man kisses a little girl? This poor girl, enduring that, will never be able to have a relationship with a man, will just see the exploitation.?

In response to the vitriol, fellow parents shut down the shamers. 

?I kiss my children all the time! That?s how they know that they?re loved! Lovely photo!? one person commented. ?People who see this as wrong have something wrong in their heads. I still kiss my 6 year old son on the lips,? wrote another. 

?So beautiful. My daughter?s daddy kisses her all the time. It?s called showing affection and love,? added another.

Beckham and his wife, Victoria, have four kids ? 18-year-old Brooklyn, 14-year-old Romeo, 12-year-old Cruz and 5-year-old Harper.

His post comes almost a year after his wife came under fire for sharing a similar photo.

Commenters described the former Spice Girl?s photo as ?very disgusting? and ?emotionally scarring.?

In December, Hilary Duff clapped back at commenters who shamed her for kissing her 4-year-old son on the lips.

A post shared by Hilary Duff (@hilaryduff) on

?For anyone commenting that a kiss on the lips with my four year old is ?inappropriate? go ahead and click unfollow with your warped minds and judgment,? she wrote.

Can we all just put an end to the parent shaming?

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Progressives Launch Campaign Against Anti-Choice, Anti-LGBTQ Judicial Nominee

WASHINGTON ? Progressive groups that banded together for the Women?s March on Washington in January are teaming up again: They want to take down one of President Donald Trump?s anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ judicial nominees.

Trump has nominated John Bush, a Kentucky lawyer, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. On Wednesday, 10 organizations urged Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the nominee. 

?Bush has expressed biased and offensive positions on wide-ranging issues,? reads a letter from the groups, including NARAL Pro-Choice America, the American Federation of Teachers and MoveOn.

?He likened abortion to slavery, calling these issues ?the two greatest tragedies in our country,?? the letter continues. ?He applauded Mike Huckabee for saying he ?strongly disagree[s]? with ?the idea of same-sex marriage.? Writing about the 2016 election, Bush claimed that Democrats were just trying to ?substitute woman for Black.??

Bush has also mocked climate change, and he celebrated that ?the witch is dead? when he thought the Affordable Care Act might not be enacted.

The full letter is here (story continues below):

A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Progressive groups dug up many of these details about Bush from a blog he maintained on a right-wing website called Elephants in the Bluegrass. He used the pseudonym ?G. Morris,? which he disclosed in a questionnaire that all judicial nominees submit to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The organizations plan to mobilize their members ? millions of people ? to pressure Democrats and Republicans on the committee to reject Bush. NARAL, which is leading the campaign, has dubbed him a ?shady blogger? and is publicizing his record of pushing anti-choice policies during his time with the conservative Center For Constitutional Jurisprudence.

The reproductive rights group has experience waging war on a court nominee: It helped tank one of President Barack Obama?s court picks, Michael Boggs, a conservative Democrat from Georgia who drew the ire of progressives because of his anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, anti-civil rights record.

Another group, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, announced Wednesday that it will also fight Bush?s nomination.

?John K. Bush is unworthy of a lifetime appointment as a federal judge,? said Vanita Gupta, the organization?s president and CEO. ?His extreme ideology and record clearly shows an open and unabashed hostility to women and LGBT people, campaign finance reform, and Democrats. … We urge the Senate to reject this nominee.?

Trump nominated Bush in early May, but the Judiciary Committee hasn?t scheduled his nomination hearing yet. A spokeswoman for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the committee, did not respond to a request for comment on when it might happen.

Denying Bush a court seat will be an uphill battle for progressives because Republicans control the Senate. But if they can sway all Democrats to oppose Bush, it would only take three Republicans siding with them to kill his nomination when (or if) he makes it to the Senate floor. A handful of GOP senators support abortion rights, and moderates may have issues with some of Bush?s past remarks.

For now, progressives are focused on building momentum against Bush before he faces the committee with the power to approve or deny his nomination.

?In sum, John Bush is an extreme and biased nominee who also lacks the independence and temperament to be appointed to a lifetime position on the federal bench,? reads their letter. ?President Trump is trying to use federal court nominations to elevate his extreme agenda; Bush?s record makes it clear that he will be nothing more than a rubber stamp.?

This article has been updated with comment from Vanita Gupta. 

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After 18 Years, TLC Still Doesn’t Want No Scrubs

In January 1999, the girl group TLC dropped a hit to end all hits: ?No Scrubs.? The song became an anthem against men who don?t treat women well, aka ?scrubs,? who can most closely be compared to present-day ?fuccbois.?

On Monday night, comedian and actor Paul F. Tompkins tweeted an inquiry into TLC?s current anti-scrubs sentiment:

A response from the official TLC Twitter account appeared mid-afternoon on Tuesday:

So, to clarify, no, these ladies still don?t want no scrubs, and there are still guys who can?t get no love from them.

A rep for TLC also emphasized that the lyrics? definition of ?scrubs,? referring to them as ?busters,? still stands:

In case you need a full refresher, please enjoy below:

In the years since the song exploded onto the scene, the trio has become a duo. Lisa ?Left-Eye? Lopes was killed in a car accident in 2002, leaving Tionne ?T-Boz? Watkins and Rozonda ?Chilli? Thomas to continue the TLC legacy together. Watkins and Thomas recently released their first music video in 14 years, titled ?Way Back.?

Oh, and if you were wondering whether the group still does not endorse ?chasing waterfalls,? a rep for the group clarified their current stance on that, too:

Bless you, TLC. 

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Farmer’s Same-Sex Marriage Views Got Him Barred From Local Market

A Michigan man whose farm was shut out of a local market over his same-sex marriage views believes his free speech rights have been violated. 

Stephen Tennes, who owns and operates Country Mill Farms in Charlotte, Michigan, filed a lawsuit Wednesday after his farm was barred from selling produce at farmers markets in East Lansing because he opposes marriage equality, Religion News Service reported. In his suit, Tennes cited his ?Catholic belief that marriage is a sacramental union between one man and one woman.? 

The married father of five told Fox News that his farm serves and employs members of the local LGBTQ community, but he nonetheless expressed his opposition to marriage equality twice on Facebook, once in August and again in December. After the August post sparked a backlash, Tennes said Country Mill Farms would no longer host weddings of any kind. By December, the farm announced that weddings would resume on the property, but only for heterosexual couples. 

?It remains our deeply held religious belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman and Country Mill has the First Amendment Right to express and act upon its beliefs,? read the December post, which can be found below. ?For this reason, Country Mill reserves the right to deny a request for services that would require it to communicate, engage in, or host expression that violates the owners? sincerely held religious beliefs and conscience.?

When Tennes applied to be a part of the East Lansing farmers market in January, his permit application was denied. In an interview with Lansing State Journal, East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas confirmed that Country Mill Farms? permit had been turned down, citing the city?s civil rights ordinance, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in ?all business practices.? ?When they applied,? he said, ?we decided to exclude them from the market based on that.?

Tennes said he was ?surprised? by the decision. ?For over seven years, we?ve been serving all the customers with no complaints, no issues, no protests,? he said in the above video produced by the religious freedom advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing him.

He wants a judge to order East Lansing to not only allow Country Mill Farms to sell produce at the market once again, but also stop the city from being allowed to extend its policies to businesses outside of its bounds. ?Never before would I ever have thought that the faith that we have here in our family, in our home, at our farm,? he said, ?would prohibit us from being allowed to participate in the community.? 

The Alliance Defending Freedom?s Marissa Mayer echoed those sentiments in a Friday blog post on the group?s website. ?The Tennes family?s statement of their religious belief in biblical marriage was the only reason for their farm?s expulsion from the market,? she wrote. ?East Lansing can?t preach diversity, then turn around and discriminate against people of faith because those people hold and express views the city does not like.? 

Lahanas has adamantly defended East Lansing?s decision to reject Tennes? application. ?It?s because of their business practice of excluding people, [that?s] the issue,? he said in a Thursday interview with The State News. ?They can have any belief they want, but if they?re excluding people, that?s the difference.?

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Why You Should Let Maggots Feast On Your Leftover Food

They may be icky, but we should really start appreciating maggots, considering that they could play a crucial role in combatting the problem of food waste.

These voracious eaters are able to consume massive amounts of leftovers. Over the course of four hours, two pounds of maggots can eat about 4 pounds of food. Maggots also help expedite the composting process, and they can be dried and turned into animal feed.

For now, due to varying regulations, maggots are being used in a limited way on farms across the globe, but activists are hopeful that this will eventually become an industry norm. 

This comes at a time when the food waste crisis has hit global proportions. One-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, and when it?s sent to landfills to decompose, it releases methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Using maggots to dispose of uneaten food could reduce the amount of food sent to landfills.

For example, a farm in southwestern China has embraced maggots, buying up leftovers from restaurants and feeding them to the larvae of black soldier flies. The fattened up insects, in turn, are then used as high-protein animal feed and their feces as organic fertilizer, according to science news site Phys.org. 

In China, each person discards about 65 pounds of food a year, per Phys.org.

Identifying innovative ways to reduce food waste is critical in the U.S., where it?s an even greater issue than in China. According to a 2011 report from the United Nation?s Food and Agricultural Organization, the average American squanders about 250 pounds of food a year.

Serving up insect larvae to livestock is restricted in the U.S., but it?s being used for some specific types of animal feed. 

Some dried black soldier fly larvae, for example, have been approved for use in commercial salmon feed.

A number of companies are seeking broader regulatory approval for the use of larvae in commercial animal feed, said Nicole Civita, an attorney at Handel Food Law LLC and director of the Food Recovery Project at the University of Arkansas School of Law.

People who raise animals at home aren?t subject to government regulations, and Civita encourages them to let their livestock dine on such insect ?delicacies.?

Turning maggots into compost is a more common practice in the U.S. There?s even a name for it: black soldier fly composting. When the larvae are introduced, food scraps are turned into compost at a more rapid pace, compared to conventional methods, Civita added.

Such processes are also helpful in promoting closed-loop agriculture. That?s when all nutrients and organic matter on a farm are recycled back into the soil they grew in.

Civita, who also works at Sterling College in Kansas, said her students are ?excited? about black soldier fly composting and are looking into developing a pilot program on the university?s farm. 

?Enlisting some of our smallest planetary neighbors in the fight against food waste is a promising idea that can support adoption of more agro-ecological practices,? Civita told HuffPost.

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Protest In The Era Of Donald Trump

PORTLAND, Ore. ? The flier, stapled to a telephone pole on North Killingsworth Street, promised training in self-defense against neo-Nazis.

?We will fight them with our every ounce,? it read. ?By working together we can push back white supremacy on the 4th.?

Area activists and strategy game experts, the flier advertised, were scheduled to run a workshop Saturday that would physically and mentally prepare locals for Sunday, when a rally in support of President Donald Trump was coming to town and, along with it, the possibility of violent clashes.

But the training never happened. Word on the street was that white supremacists had caught wind of the event, shared it on social media and threatened to show up and fight.  

A 27-year-old Portland native named William was at the forefront of the preparations. He, like many of his cohorts whom HuffPost spoke with, refused to fully identify himself for safety reasons (neo-Nazis are known for releasing a breadth of personal information online).

William is an organizer for the Pacific Northwest Anti-Fascist Workers Collective, one of many anti-fascist (or ?antifa?) groups across the country. It?s a relatively decentralized force, made up of dozens of groups that often work to confront white supremacists and hate groups, as well as the police and government policies.

They?re recognizable as the masked figures dressed in black who show up to counter-protests and fight white nationalists. They shut down a speech by conservative media personality Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California, Berkeley, in February by throwing rocks; several of them were injured in the fracas. Their violence, like that of the neo-Nazis, is condemned in many circles on the left and right.

The antifa groups don?t have an overarching mission regarding violence. Many groups advertised peace prior to Sunday?s event, but the anti-fascists also noted that they were ready to defend themselves at all costs. Police confiscated dozens of weapons from them at the rally, including bricks, batons and knives.

The antifa groups, along with their far-right counterparts, are among America?s fringe ? emboldened by the current administration, amplified by social media and happy to battle it out in the street.

The United States is at a turning point of protest, with demonstrators deciding in real time whether the peaceful Women?s Marches earlier this year solved anything and whether violence is the next step. Over this weekend, Portland became a flashpoint for that discussion.

Saturday?s event was supposed to prepare the anti-fascists of Portland for a pro-Trump rally Sunday, an event that had been on the calendar before the hate-fueled slashing that left two dead on a MAX train on May 26. The incident gained national attention and emboldened far-right groups to make travel plans for the rally.

The antifa groups were expecting neo-Nazis, white nationalists and well-known figures of the so-called alt-right.

?There?s always violence when they come out,? William told HuffPost outside a labor union hall in southeast Portland, where the training was supposed to take place. ?These guys are trying to come out and suppress activism. We?d really appreciate it if they stopped coming into our city and spreading their hateful message and trying to scare protesters.?

By Sunday morning, hours before the protests were supposed to start, the two sides were squaring off by shouting at one another across the street. Each group had bought a permit for their own section of a downtown park in Chapman Square. SWAT teams created a human barrier between the groups to make sure they didn?t attack each other.  

Because of that barrier, the antifa group ended up sparring with police instead. In the afternoon, police ordered them to disperse and they resisted, at which point police lobbed tear gas canisters at them to drive them away. The alt-right demonstrators and Trump supporters across the street cackled and celebrated as they watched the melee.

At the end of the day, the battle each side had been preparing for all week never actually happened, thanks to a heavy presence of police from several jurisdictions, including the federal Department of Homeland Security and a local SWAT force.

The Fringe Is No Longer The Fringe

While these two groups never really clashed violently, as many expected, they fuel concerns that our short stretch of peaceful protests is coming to an end.

Millions protested peacefully in Women?s Marches across the globe in January. Peace also reigned at the global March for Science protests, as well as at the Climate March in late April. Thousands upon thousands more have taken to the streets in several anti-Trump demonstrations without much incident.

?Many would argue that having hundreds of thousands if not millions show up is a huge success,? said Dana Fisher, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland who?s researched protests for nearly 20 years. ?But some people may very well feel that it?s not working anymore. Depending on the goal, the resistance can be seen as failing.?

She noted that it appears the ?radical flank? of both the left and right have been mobilized; far-leaning groups that aren?t often accepted by popular culture are now becoming more mainstream and recognizable. Enter the antifa groups and the alt-right.

Of course, she said, that doesn?t necessarily mean that violence is inevitable. On the contrary, a relatively peaceful day on Sunday between protesters signals that progressive ideals of activism, in which throngs of people speak their mind without hurting one another, are winning.

However, the growth of violent fringe groups ? especially right-wing extremists and white supremacists ? is explosive, terrifying and requires a reaction, many say.

Indeed, the far-right has been mobilized. Joey Gibson, a Californian who regularly organizes pro-Trump events in progressive, liberal cities like Portland, has reportedly coordinated six similar rallies in this city and nearby Vancouver, Washington, over the past six months, including the event Sunday.

Even when the far right doesn?t attract many bodies to its rallies, it sometimes attracts the worst of the worst: On April 29, slashing suspect Jeremy Joseph Christian was seen throwing up Nazi salutes and screaming racial epithets. On May 26, he stood accused of knifing three men on a MAX train, killing two of them, as they defended two girls from racial and religious insults.

The demonstrations Sunday proved that a small number of voices can mobilize hundreds upon hundreds of people. It leaves a burning question: Which protest are we going to see next: another peaceful Women?s March or a clash between America?s expanding fringe groups?

Fisher says she?s wary of the future ? it?s anybody?s game.

?We have a whole bunch of people who are progressive who are pissed off, and Trump has appealed to the conservative fringe in this country,? she said. ?I don?t know what?s going to happen, and I don?t know how to fix it.?

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babbitt

Besides the high packaging cost problem that was solved by A left handed person can now receive a grant if the fill out the application.. Plastic bags and bottles constitute ninety-five percent of the litter some of which makes its way to rivers and other water bodies. Huge tracts of land have been converted into dumping sites leading to wastage of land, air pollution and a breeding place for all disease causing organisms.

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This Might Be The Most Sexist Baseball Team Promotion Ever

A minor-league baseball team just announced a majorly sexist promotion ? and on Tuesday it appeared to be benched.

The Ogden (Utah) Raptors on Saturday published a news release on ?Hourglass Appreciation Night,? posting a cartoon of models in bikinis while promising fans the chance to pose for pictures with ?gorgeous women whose curves rival those of any stud pitching prospect!?

The Los Angeles Dodgers? farm club lamely tried to peg Hourglass Appreciation Night to the ?timeless nature? of baseball that ?connects generations.? 

Then came this gem of a transition. ?The home team hosts the Billings Mustangs, but the real thoroughbreds will join Raptors broadcaster A.P. Harreld in the booth. Since August is the eighth month of the calendar year, and an 8 looks tantalizingly similar to an hourglass, be there a better way to remind the world that baseball needs no clock than to feature 18 hourglass-shaped color commentators??

Not surprisingly, the news media attention and social media backlash presumably prompted the team to delete the notice early Tuesday.

Perhaps the team thought it knew its audience.

 

The Huffington Post reached out to the Raptors for comment.

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Keith Olbermann Apologizes to UK: ‘Trump Is Not Of Sound Mind’

A somber Keith Olbermann apologized to Britain for Donald Trump?s insensitive comments attacking the competence of London?s mayor in the wake of Saturday?s attack on London Bridge. ?Donald Trump is not of sound mind,? explained Olbermann in the latest offering of GQ?s ?The Resistance.? ?We are working to correct the problem as soon as possible.?

But it won?t be easy, he added. Unlike most jobs in the nation ? and on Trump?s own former reality program ?The Apprentice? ? it?s extremely difficult to fire a president, no matter how incompetent, Olbermann said.

?Amid all that he creates ? mass confusion, charges of corruption, hints at collusion ? there is a stark reality. In almost any other job in this country, assuredly in any other private sector job … Donald Trump, our national embarrassment, our international disgrace, would have been fired by now,? he said.

?His complete incompetence, his complete failure, and his complete inability to see his incompetence and his failure as anything except personal brilliance would get him fired everywhere from the boardroom at Microsoft to the deep fryer at McDonald?s.?

It?s not only Trump?s startling Twitter comments after the terrorist attack that are worrying, noted Olbermann. The president has also stumped Americans by complaining about the ?watered-down? travel restrictions for citizens of several predominantly Muslim countries (which he has tried to institute through executive orders) that are about to be defended in the Supreme Court by the Department of Justice. He insisted that it absolutely is a ?travel ban? ? which may make it even more difficult to defend.

Then there was his puzzling reference in a tweet last week to the head-scratching ?negative press confefe? ? which Trump perhaps typed as he fell asleep or ?otherwise lost awareness,? said Olbermann. 

?The meaninglessness, the lack of focus, the carelessness, the self-pity, the irresponsible redefinition of the language itself that has symbolized this fifth-rate administration from the moment of Trump?s inaugural address onwards was summarized in five words plus some kind of typographical error.?

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