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Spain Attacks: Canadian Grandfather Named as Latest Las Ramblas Victim

Sat, 2017-08-19 12:56
Ian Moore Wilson, who was on holiday in Barcelona with his wife Valerie, described as ‘adventurous, generous and compassionate.'

A Canadian grandfather is the latest victim of the Spain terror attacks to be named, after his daughter released a statement hailing the efforts of those who fought to save his life.

Ian Moore Wilson was on holiday with his wife of 53 years, Valerie, when terrorists drove a van into crowds along the Barcelona thoroughfare of Las Ramblas on Thursday afternoon.

Their daughter, Fiona, a Vancouver police officer, issued a statement on Friday thanking bystanders and emergency workers who cared for her mother and tried to save her father’s life, and those who had offered their sympathy and support.

She described her father as “compassionate, generous, adventurous, and always game for a lively debate, a good book, exploring new places, and a proper-sized pint”.

Earlier, an American man was named as among the dead. The family of Jared Tucker, 42, from Walnut Creek, California, said he was among the 13 people killed in the Las Ramblas attack.

He had left his wife for a moment shortly before the attack started. The couple, on a tour of Europe to celebrate their first wedding anniversary, had been enjoying drinks on a pavement cafe.

“Next thing I know there’s screaming, yelling,” his wife Heidi Nunes, 40, told NBC News after she failed to find her husband after the attack. “I got pushed inside the souvenir kiosk and stayed there hiding while everybody kept running by, screaming.”

On Friday night his family said that Nunes had identified his body. His father, Daniel Tucker, who worked with his son in the family’s pool business, told the New York Daily News: “It’s just something we really just don’t understand. I don’t know what else to say.”

Another victim was an Italian man who was holding the hand of his five-year-old son moments before he was killed.

Bruno Gulotta, 35, died on the street in front of his son Alessandro and wife Martina, Italian media reported.

Martina, who was carrying their one-year-old daughter, Aria, in a sling-style baby-carrier, told friends that she had pulled Alessandro to safety at the last moment.

The family, from Legnano, near Milan, were on holiday in the Catalan city.

Gulotta worked in sales and marketing for computer company Tom’s Hardware. The company said his violent death had left his wife facing “trials no one should have to bear”.

“We put ourselves in the shoes of little Alessandro, who is about to start elementary school knowing his and his family’s life will never be the same again. And we think of baby Aria … who will never know her dad,” his colleagues said in a statement. 

An emergency services spokesman said 130 people were injured in the two attacks, the first at Las Ramblas on Thursday and the second in the Catalan seaside town of Cambrils early on Friday morning. Seventeen are in a critical condition, with another 30 in a serious condition.

The nationalities of the dead and injured testify to Barcelona’s popularity as a global tourist destination. They came from at least 34 different countries, including Australia, Britain, Belgium, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Honduras, Morocco, Pakistan, Canada and the US. A Spanish woman was killed in Cambrils.

He was on holiday with his girlfriend, Marta Scomazzon, who is among three injured Italians, having suffered fractures in the attack.

Scomazzon, whose parents have travelled to Barcelona to be with her, told the Italian news agency Ansa: “We were walking together and then the van hit us. I fell and realised that Luca wasn’t there any more. I didn’t see him again. His body was swept away.”

Russo’s sister Chiara posted images on Facebook of her smiling brother, alongside those of his body lying on the ground in Barcelona. “Help to bring him home, I beg you,’’ she wrote.

“Italy will remember Bruno Gulotta and Luca Russo and expresses its solidarity with their families,” the prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, said in a tweet. “Freedom will triumph over barbarism and terrorism.”

Also among the dead was Elke Vanbockrijck, 44, a Belgian on holiday with her husband and two sons.

Vanbockrijck regularly ferried her sons, 10 and 14, to football practice at KFC Heur Tongeren. A statement from the club said: “She was often at the club, and was committed to our club. We will always remember her as a happy woman, a caring mother and loving wife. Elke will be missed.”

The first named Spanish victim was Francisco López Rodríguez, 60, originally from Granada. He had been walking along La Rambla with his wife, who is believed to be seriously injured. 

Since then, two more have been named. Pepita Codina, 75, was identified as among the dead by the mayor of Sant Hipòlit de Voltregà, a small town near Barcelona where she was from. Xavier Vilamala posted messages of condolence on Twitter and Instagram. Sara Sanchez Crosas, who said she was her hairdresser, also posted about the news of her death on Facebook.

Ana María Suárez was the sole fatality of the attack in the seaside resort of Cambrils. The 61-year-old, from Zaragoza, north-east Spain, was with her husband and sister, who were both injured in the attack. The Spanish royal family’s Twitter account confirmed her death, offering their thoughts to her family.

The youngest victim of the attacks was thought to be a three-year-old girl, who died shortly after being taken to hospital. A six-year-old girl was taken to hospital with a cerebral haemorrhage, an official at Vall d’Hebron University hospital told the New York Times. Her nationality was not known.

Others are searching frantically for family and friends. Seven-year-old Julian Alessandro Cadman, a British-Australian dual national, is missing after he became separated from his mother, Jom, during the chaos. Tony Cadman said Jom, his daughter-in-law, was in a serious but stable condition in hospital.

The family is appealing for information on Facebook. “Missing in Barcelona,” reads a Facebook message posted by Tony Cadman, asking users to share a picture of Julian, who is pictured smiling and wearing a green jumper.

France has confirmed that 26 of its citizens were injured, with 11 in a serious condition. Three Dutch nationals were also injured.

The UK Foreign Office said it was assisting a small number of injured Britons, and a Greek diplomat reported that three of its nationals had been wounded: a woman and her two children. China said two people from Taiwan were being treated for severe injuries, and confirmed that a person from Hong Kong had minor injuries.

Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said four Australians had been hurt – two women in a serious but stable condition, and two men who were “directly affected” and had gone back to their hotel to seek medical attention.

Throughout the night on Thursday there were urgent appeals on social media for English, Italian and French translators to go to hospitals and clinics to help medical staff treating dozens of non-Spanish-speaking victims.

A man originally from the Philippines and resident in Ireland, who was on holiday with his wife and two children, was hit on his side, but his injuries were not life-threatening, Emmanuel Fernandez, the consul general of the Philippines embassy in Madrid, told the Irish broadcaster RTÉ.

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An Astounding Number of Republicans Still Support Trump, as His Approval Ratings Actually Go Up Post-Charlotte

Sat, 2017-08-19 12:38
Trump's approval rating went up compared to beginning of month, but more people anticipate he'll get nothing done.

Despite the fallout from the Charlottesville, Virginia attack, President Donald Trump’s approval rating miraculously rose this past week, according to a national pollconducted by Quinnipiac University.

Trump had earned himself a 33 percent approval rating two weeks ago, his lowest grade since the inauguration. This week, Quinnipiac’s survey showed that Trump had a 39 percent approval rating. The national telephone poll was done from Aug. 9 through Aug. 15, during the height of the Charlottesville controversy.


A stunning 81 percent of Republican respondents expressed approval for the president, while 94 percent of Democrats signaled they disapproved of the job he was doing. A slim majority of independent respondents indicated they also disapproved of Trump.

While 39 percent is nothing to celebrate, it can be seen as a win for the Trump administration since it indicates an increase of six percentage points from two weeks ago.

The U.S. economy has continued to fare well under the new administration, with the national unemployment rate falling to 4.3 percent, the lowest level of unemployment in 16 years.

But one survey question asked by Quinnipiac might explain why Trump saw a jump in his approval ratings the past two weeks. A total of 58 percent of the latest poll’s respondents said that they did not believe Trump or the Republicans in Congress would be able to pass any significant legislation by the end of the year. This was a significant percentage drop from early June, when 50 percent of respondents indicated that Trump would fail to get the job done.

Now that most Americans have lowered expectations for the president, some could be allowing themselves to judge Trump under different standards — such as not starting a nuclear war with North Korea.


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Tension-Filled White House: The Next 'Resignation' Could Start an Exodus

Sat, 2017-08-19 11:02
Shell-shocked aides and advisers are all wondering who will bolt for the exit next.

With Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Mike Flynn, Anthony Scaramucci and other staffers all quitting or getting fired from President Donald Trump’s White House, staffers are nervously eyeing each other to see who will be the next to go, according to Vanity Fair‘s Isobel Thompson.

On Friday, Trump made it official that White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon no longer works for the administration, as Bannon’s loyal supporters at ramped a plan for “war” against the White House.

Meanwhile, inside the White House, shell-shocked aides and advisers are all wondering who will bolt for the exit next. Firings and resignations are coming at such a furious pace one D.C. restaurant is offering discounted drinks on days the president fires a White House official.

Trump has reportedly been jubilant in the wake of his combative press conference earlier this week in which he created a moral equivalency between neo-Nazi and white supremacist demonstrators in Charlottesville and the protesters who turned out to oppose them.

“Privately however, many staffers were queasy,” said Thompson. Aides have tried to explain to Trump that he’s not helping himself, but, “He doesn’t care,” one White House adviser said.

“A number of people are on thin ice,” said another aide, who said the White House staff is “stunned and disheartened” after the weeks slew of failures, embarrassments and setbacks.

There is a sense, said Thompson, that “that the dominos could be about to fall.”

One aide told, “The danger for Trump now is that one senior resignation will start a run on the bank.”

Rumors that economic adviser Gary Cohn — who is Jewish — might resign over Trump’s failure to disavow the KKK sent shockwaves through economic markets this week, although traders were jubilant Friday when they heard that Bannon had been fired.

Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly has struggled in vain this week to rein in the president and keep him from going off on emotional rants and outbursts. The newly hired White House chief of staff is potentially finding out what attorneys who refuse to represent Trump already know—that the commander-in-chief is unable to exercise even the simplest forms of message discipline.

Meanwhile, said Thompson, public opinion and recent events are threatening to swamp an already storm-tossed administration and take down the Republican Party with it. As the stark “moral binary” becomes clear over whether to back an administration that has declared its common cause with white supremacists, history is watching.

“Some may be mulling altering the course of their careers,” she wrote, “rather than being tarnished in the process. History will likely not only look unkindly at Trump, but those staring steadfastly at the floor, too.”

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After Charlottesville Violence, Alt-Right Plans Another Weekend of Hate

Sat, 2017-08-19 02:16
Big plans for bigotry in Boston ahead.

The deadly violence that enveloped Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend when white nationalists rallied in support of preserving a statue of Robert E. Lee in a public park has not deterred the racist Alt-Right from planning similar rallies across the country in the coming months. Several events were planned for this weekend, but only one is moving ahead, what organizers are calling the “Second Boston Free Speech Rally.”

The “Free Speech Rally” organized by the “free speech absolutionists” at Boston Free Speech Coalition has been plagued by problems almost since its inception. Despite holding the first “Boston Free Speech Rally” in May, naïve organizers have stumbled around the permit process and struggled to stay on message—particularly difficult in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville.

On August 14, ADL wrote of the planned event:

Unlike Charlottesville, the Boston event, as currently planned, is not a white supremacist gathering. It has been organized under the auspices of the alt lite, which embraces civic nationalism, rather than the alt right, which advocates white nationalism…The alt lite, sometimes referred to as the New Right, is a loosely-connected movement whose adherents generally shun white supremacist thinking, but who are in step with the alt right in their hatred of feminists and immigrants, among others. Many within the alt lite sphere are virulently anti-Muslim; the group abhors everyone on “the left” and traffics in conspiracy theories.

However, as ADL also notes, the lines between the alt-lite and Alt-Right are blurry. In an August 15 Facebook post, the Boston Free Speech Coalition wrote:

While we maintain that every individual is entitled to their freedom of speech and defend that basic human right, we will not be offering our platform to racism or bigotry. We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence. We denounce the actions, activities, and tactics of the so-called Antifa movement. We denounce the normalization of political violence.

That position is in direct conflict with their slate of speakers, which has included known white supremacists and those who incite and engage in violence at protests.

The original line-up for this weekend’s rally included Charlottesville speaker Augustus Sol Invictus who was (perhaps mistakenlydisinvited “due to his willingness to support violence, as well as his Holocaust denial.” Another scheduled headlining speaker was Gavin McInnes, who started the Proud Boys network, an anti-feminist, Alt-Right group that prides itself in promoting what it calls “western chauvinism.” After Charlottesville, McInnes backed out of the Boston event and said he hoped it would be cancelled so it didn’t “look like we’re fighting for Nazis we don’t like.”

In early August, Augustus Sol Invictus spoke at “Make Men Great Again: A Celebration of Masculinity” alongside two individuals who are still listed as speakers for the Boston event: Kyle Chapman and Joe Biggs.

Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman became an Alt-Right hero when he was filmed wearing homemade armor and breaking a wooden pole over an Antifa protester’s head in Berkeley. Chapman, a three-time felon who has spent years in prison, formed the “Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights” to serve as the “tactical defensive arm” of McInnes’ Proud Boys, saying of the new group, “We don’t fear the fight. We are the fight.

Joe Biggs used to work at InfoWars, where he was a key pusher of the “Pizzagate” conspiracy that almost caused a mass shooting and “reported” that the shooting in San Bernardino, California, was a false flag event. In early 2017, he was brought on to the pro-Trump media group Right Side Broadcasting Network to host a show about the Second Amendment, but only one episode has appeared. Biggs also has a long history of tweeting violent fantasies and threats about women and LGBTQ individuals. In one, he wrote, “Every girl at this bar wants to fuck me. They don’t know it yet because the drugs haven’t kicked in.” In another, he says, “Call me old fashion, but something about clubbing a bitch over the back of the head before sex really sets the mood right.”

None of these men has tried to hide their hateful, violent beliefs so it is suspicious that Free Speech Rally organizers say they denounce violence and don’t want to be a platform for racism but also insist they “carefully vetted” those they invited to speak.

As of this writing the rally is moving forward, Ku Klux Klan attendees and all. Boston granted a rally permit on the condition that every attendee will be searched, no weapons or blunt objects are allowed, the police will barricade and separate the ralliers from counterprotesters, and police will escort people in and out. A rally spokesman told a local news station his “objective is to coordinate with police and with city officials to make sure that logistics are entirely in place and everything is kept orderly, everything is kept safe.” However, an August 17 post on the rally event page reads, “Despite the fact that our rally was peaceful in May, we are going to be facing a police state and surrounded by a mob,” and “any concerns regarding these draconian restrictions should be directed to Mayor Marty Walsh.”

While the event in Boston is scheduled to go ahead, a planned Alt-Right “March on Google” that was scheduled to take place in nine cities has been postponed.

Jack Posobiec—the right-wing provocateur known for advancing the lie that DNC staffer Seth Rich was murdered, faking a transcript of testimony given by former FBI Director James Comey, helping push the dangerous Pizzagate conspiracy theory, and holding up a “Rape Melania” sign and making it seem that it was brought by anti-Trump activists—attempted to set up a multi-city protest against Google on August 19th.

Posobiec wanted to protest the firing of a Google employee who, as the Washington Post reported, “argued that biological differences helped explain why women are underrepresented at the company.” The protests were set to occur in Atlanta; Austin; Boston; Los Angeles; Mountain View, California; New York; Pittsburgh; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. but in at least two locations no permits were requested.

Although march organizers would not elaborate on the threats they allegedly received, Posobiec wrote on August 16: “The Peaceful March on Google has been postponed due to credible Alt Left terrorist threats for the safety of our citizen participants. Despite our clear and straightfoward statements denouncing bigotry and hatred, CNN and other mainstream media made malicious and false statements that our peaceful march was being organized by Nazi sympathizers.”

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Here Come the Ecosexuals

Sat, 2017-08-19 02:00
They're here to save the earth through love, joy and their powers of seduction.

The term ecosexual has had multiple definitions in its short existence. When it first emerged around 2000, Jennifer J. Reed, a PhD candidate at the University of Nevada Las Vegas who studies the movement, said, "The word ecosexual started being used to identify people who were interested in environmental issues so much so that they were also seeking a partner who was interested in environmental issues. It became a dating term like, 'I’m an ecosexual, I’m looking for another ecosexual.'"

A second group that adopted the term were people engaged in trying to "green" the sex toy industry. Reed points out that "sex toys and lubes and so forth have not been regulated by a health code" because they are classified as "adult novelty items." Ecosexuals became a term for people concerned about the health effect of sex toys.

But the word hit primetime and took a turn when performance artist Annie Sprinkle and her spouse Beth Stephens married the earth—and people took notice. When Sprinkle and Stephens called themselves ecosexuals, they meant that they experienced erotic pleasure from the earth.

I asked Reed about this, and she pointed out that we routinely stick our noses into bouquets of plants' sex organs (flowers), "but we don't talk about it that way." She says Sprinkle and Stephens' "idea is that we are marrying the earth symbolically to bring back the idea of humans being a part of the environment, being a part of nature rather than dominating over or separate from nature."

The reason ecosexuals aim to end humans' separation from nature is because that idea "has led to environmental destruction because the idea that humans rule over the earth has led to [things] like mountaintop removal coal mining." Reed says it engenders the feeling that "we're separate from nature and this is just here for us to take from." She adds, "Because we are part of nature there are also health consequences because we are not separate from nature."

But why connect sexually instead of some other way? Reed says ecosexuals' "expanded notion of sexuality includes the human life force," adding, "The reason we're alive, a species on the earth, is because sex is happening... Really, ecology and the environment are all about sexuality and fertility and the life force and keeping life going."

Reed defines ecosexuality as a mindset, a set of practices and a social movement. "The mindset is number one," she says. It means recognizing the interrelation between the sexuality and nature in some way. "Somebody who is an ecosexual definitely sees the situatedness of humans within the environment."

People with the mindset often add practices "to call back to the sensuality of life," according to Reed. Hiking in the mountains or sitting on the beach are sensory experiences. But, Reed says, these activities can also be "sensual or erotic experiences."

Some people experience similar sensations when they are out in nature as when they have an orgasm. Reed describes it as "a feeling of connection." Reed sees a parallel between the belief that the mind and body are separate and the belief that humans and the environment are separate, with ecosexuality attempting to bridge both at once.

As Sprinkle and Stephens' Ecosex Manifesto puts it: "We shamelessly hug trees, massage the earth with our feet, and talk erotically to plants. We are skinny dippers, sun worshippers, and stargazers. We caress rocks, are pleasured by waterfalls, and admire the Earth's curves often. We make love with the Earth through our senses."

Ecosex practices can be as simple as feeling the soil between your toes or the sun on your skin. That said, some ecosexuals find more X-rated ways to experience the connection between sexuality and nature.

Reed traces the social movement back to 2010, when the first ecosexual conference was held. A year later, in 2011, Sprinkle and Stephens unveiled the Ecosex Manifesto. The pair also founded the EARTH Lab at UC-Santa Cruz. EARTH stands for Environmental Art Research Theory Happening. Ecosexuals do not just have erotic feelings about the earth; they fight to defend the planet.

The Ecosex Manifesto sums up the activist component as follows: "We will save the mountains, waters and skies by any means necessary, especially through love, joy and our powers of seduction. We will stop the rape, abuse and the poisoning of the Earth... We embrace the revolutionary tactics of art, music, poetry, humor, and sex. We work and play tirelessly for Earth justice and global peace. Bombs hurt."

Ecosexuals also hold annual convergences in the woods. I had to ask, and Reed assured me, "No, it's not an orgy." It's family-friendly and held in a campground. But, she added, the group does set aside an area in the woods where people can "go naked and get freaky." After attending a workshop on consent, that is.

If you can get to Australia, you can even go to an ecosexual bathhouse.

In summary, if the Ecosex Manifesto resonates with you, then you're an ecosexual, and you can enjoy the sensuous of the earth and experience humans' connection with nature in any way you wish to.

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16 Charities Are Cancelling Mar-a-Lago Events Since Trump Defended White Supremacists

Sat, 2017-08-19 01:30
The wide-ranging list of nonprofits want nothing to do with the president's racist comments.

Palm Beach Daily News reports that a whopping 16 charities are refusing to hold previously scheduled events at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Trump's comments in defense of white supremacists after the Charlottesville terror attack have made him radioactive across the political spectrum.

The local outlet confirms that of all charities contacted with events scheduled at Mar-a-Lago, only five have agreed to go through with them. Four are either undecided or haven't yet responded to requests for comments.

The names of charities that have pulled out are listed below. Palm Beach Daily News will be updating its website with additional names should more confirm they're pulling out or return requests for comment.

Charities with Cancelled Mar-a-Lago Events (So Far):

American Cancer Society ball

American Friends of Magen David Adom

American Humane Association Hero Dogs luncheon

Autism Project of Palm Beach County

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute gala

Big Dog Ranch Rescue event

Chamber Music Society of Palm Beach

Cleveland Clinic, moving to The Breakers

Dana Farber Cancer Institute gala

International Red Cross ball

LIFE Lady in Red Gala (pending board approval)

Leukemia and Lymphoma gala

MorseLife (Dinner dance only)

Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation luncheon

Salvation Army

Susan G. Komen Perfect Pink Party


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Watch: Bill Maher Panel Calls Out GOP for Fake Ignorance of Trump's Racism

Sat, 2017-08-19 00:22
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom called GOP leaders "disingenuous" in their outrage.

On Friday's episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, the panel discussion turned to the GOP for playing dumb about President Donald Trump's racism in the wake of the Charlottesville terror attack. Republican leaders are acting outraged at a president who, according to Maher, was always obviously the "crazy right-wing uncle who ruins Thanksgiving."

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) said, “I mean, this is who Donald Trump is! For me, the reaction of people being appalled, including Sen. [Bob] Corker and others is very disingenuous."

He then highlighted exactly how much the Republicans are pretending not to have known about the long-time racist president.

"Did they not pay attention to this last election? Did they not pay attention to Donald Trump’s entire career going back to 44 years of discrimination and the lawsuits he was up against? Did he not pay attention to what he said about immigrants being animals?" Newsom said.

Maher raised the point that the president repeatedly borrows talking points from Fox News verbatim and will often "parrot" the network's racist views to the public.

Watch the exhcange below.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Face Pressure to Speak out on Antisemitism

Fri, 2017-08-18 17:17
The Jewish couple have kept quiet since president’s defence of antisemitic protesters. Asks a rabbi: ‘Who knows if this is what will set people over the edge?’

Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are facing a potentially awkward reception from Washington’s Jewish community after Donald Trump’s astonishing defence of antisemitic protesters.

The US president’s daughter and son-in-law have been conspicuously silent since his reiterated claim on Tuesday that “both sides” were responsible for last Saturday’s violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one civil rights activist dead. White supremacists waved insignias from Nazi Germany, abused Kushner and yelled: “Jews will not replace us.”

Ivanka converted to Judaism – the rabbi who oversaw the process has condemned Trump’s “moral equivalency and equivocation” – ahead of her 2009 wedding to Jared. The couple are practising modern Orthodox Jews and have been able to separate expressions of their faith from their White House roles as advisers to the president. So far.

“That’s the question swirling around the Jewish community since 9 November,” said Rabbi Shira Stutman of the Sixth & I Historic synagogue in Washington. “It’s also the Jewish school they go to, it’s also the Jewish preschool they go to. The community has taken the tack of letting them be. Who knows if this is what will set people over the edge?”

It was time for Ivanka and Jared to take a stand, she added: “The way they behave feels so against Jewish principles as I understand them. I cling to the hope that history will reveal that it was somehow necessary for them to be there, but it seems less and less likely.”

Since moving from New York, Ivanka and Jared have attended the TheSHUL of the Nation’s Capital, a Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue near Dupont Circle. It has a reputation for bipartisanship and leaving politics at the door. Officials from the Barack Obama’s and Trump’s camps have attended and, on one occasion during the presidential transition, they did so at the same time.

Rabbi Levi Shemtov gave a speech before Ivanka and Jared first arrived, urging congregants to avoid political confrontations, and there have been no incidents. But on one occasion, a man excoriated Shemtov for allowing them in. Shemtov patiently explained to the man that he was the rabbi and this was a synagogue, a place where all are welcome to come and pray.

Ivanka and Jared are accompanied by the secret service who, according to a source who frequently attends the synagogue, work to maintain a discreet presence. The source described Jared as “very humble, quiet, simple. Unless you knew who he was, you wouldn’t think he was anything special.”

Shemtov himself declined to comment on Thursday. “Once someone steps over the threshold of our synagogue, I’d prefer to respect their privacy,” he said.

Arnold Resnicoff, a rabbi and military veteran due to give a prayer at the opening of the pro-forma session of the House of Representatives on Friday, said he thought confrontations at the TheSHUL of the Nation’s Capital were unlikely. “The rabbi sees himself as reaching out to both sides of the aisle and goes out of his way to host events that bring Republicans and Democrats together,” he said. “I think they would respect Jared and Ivanka and not put the sins of the father on them.”

Jewish members of the Trump administration have remained largely tight-lipped since the president claimed there were “very fine people on both sides” of Saturday’s mayhem. The national economic adviser Gary Cohn was described by several acquaintances as “disgusted” and “deeply upset”, the New York Times reported.

Ivanka tweeted on Sunday: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.” But she has not given any indication of a crisis of conscience since her father’s scattergun press conference in the gilded lobby of Trump Tower on Tuesday.

Resnicoff does not believe that the couple should resign from the administration. “I think Jared and Ivanka should be honest in terms of their thoughts about the rally, including the racism and antisemitism displayed by the marchers. I think they should be honest about their thoughts and positions in public if asked questions – but I would respect their right to withhold public comments about the president’s remarks, while being honest with him in private.”

Some in the Jewish community express sympathy for Jared and Ivanka’s personal conflict. Rabbi David Shneyer, founder and director of the Am Kolel Sanctuary & Renewal Center in Beallsville, Maryland, said: “I would hope they are having conversations with their father about the inappropriateness of his words and actions. My heart goes out to them because I feel they are caught in something that is pretty ugly.

“I’d like to see every Republican take a stand and come out with a forceful statement. Anyone in the White House with moral integrity should take a stand. But it’s not realistic to expect her to walk away from her father.”

Rabbi Arthur Green, rector of the Hebrew College Rabbinical School in Newton, Massachusetts, added: “I feel terrible for them because they are in bed with that man. Gary Cohn and Steven Mnuchin [the treasury secretary, who is Jewish] should be challenged to leave. Jared and Ivanka obviously can’t. It’s family. There may be some value to them holding him down a bit. He is on the edge of being considered close to unhinged.”

Green added that Ivanka and Jared had to examine the issue “in their own conscience” rather than in debates at their synagogue. He also noted that Ben Carson, an African American serving as secretary of housing and urban development, was also yet to speak out about the tragedy and its aftermath. “Maybe he now should.”

Trump’s defenders insist the president is no racist and point to the fact he has Jewish grandchildren. Michael Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who is Jewish, told reporters: “I know President Trump and his heart. He is a good man and doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. All morning I am receiving horrific comments about being anti-black, racist, etc for supporting Trump. It’s just wrong!”

But Democrats demanded that the president’s daughter and son-in-law step up. Ron Klein, who is Jewish and a former congressman for Florida, said: “The question is, where are Jared and Ivanka? I don’t want to hear vacation in Vancouver. They’re part of his White House team, they’re Jewish, I presume they care about antisemitism, so why will they not come out to speak about their concerns?

“If the president does not retract his comments then they should resign and the same is true of other Jewish members of the administration. The president needs to get in line and act like presidents before him.”

Ivanka and Jared are likely to come under pressure from the Jewish community in Washington, Klein added. “Family loyalty is one thing, but it’s about our country. This is not just Democrats pushing on it, this is Jewish people of all stripes. The High Holidays this year are going to be a little tense there.”

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Donald Trump Kicked a Hornet's Nest When He Fired Steve Bannon

Fri, 2017-08-18 16:26
Bannon will take the helm at Brietbart News, the far right's most powerful propaganda outlet.

After a week in which President Trump repeatedly took the side of white supremacists defending the confederacy, the Friday dismissal of White House strategist Steve Bannon is likely to launch a new civil war within the Republican Party.

Bannon’s departure means the president has sided with Wall Street bankers, globalists who believe in pro-corporate trade agreements, libertarians who want federal regulation gutted and taxes cut—in short, the economic elites supported by the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News. This establishment side of the GOP was never at ease with stoking the far-right flames of white identity and economic nationalism Bannon brought to the Trump campaign a year ago, when Trump lagged behind in polls.

The evidence of the Republicans' big-money wing being pleased by Bannon’s leaving could be seen immediately, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 60 points in the first 20 minutes after the announcement. There were numerous reports in recent days that Bannon was on the way out, especially after Trump dined with Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch in New York City recently and Murdoch said he had to go. The president reportedly vented about Bannon instead of defending his strategist.     

But there’s more to this than the daily White House soap opera. Bannon was not just an idea person who encouraged Trump to stand with white supremacists in Charlottesville and deride those seeking to take down monuments celebrating slavery’s defenders. He was also an economic nationalist who saw China as a foe, not the friend to help defuse the North Korea crisis (in exchange for easing up on his tough talk on trade). Bannon wanted to raise income taxes on the very rich—stands cut from the same nativist cloth that was Trump’s bridge to the Tea Party, Freedom Caucus and Rust Belt voters.

Beyond these stances, Bannon ran the most powerful megaphone in Republican media in 2016. Breitbart News supplanted Fox News by Election Day 2016, which it attacked and saw as a competitor. Its vitriolic, propagandistic reports (including many based on information Russia pilfered from Democrats) was more influential than Murdoch's network. Bannon knew his White House days were numbered, felt liberated by it and was looking forward to returning to media warfare, according to a report on Axios. (Late Friday, reported that Bannon was returning to Breitbar as executive chairman.)

“Bannon has felt liberated since it became clear he was being pushed out, according to friends. He’s told associates he has a ‘killing machine’ in Breitbart News,” Axios noted. “Steve Bannon’s next moves will be all about the billionaire Mercer family. I’m told Bannon, who visited New York this week, met with Bob Mercer and together they will be a well-funded force on the outside… A source familiar with Breitbart’s operations told me they would go ‘thermonuclear’ against ‘globalists’ that Bannon and his friends believe are ruining the Trump administration, and by extension, America.”

Seen in this light, Bannon deftly stage-managed his departure by eclipsing Trump’s high-voltage defense of white supremacists. Earlier this week, Bannon called Robert Kuttner, the editor of the American Prospect, a progressive publication, and gave an interview in which he referred to white power marchers as “clowns,” said Trump’s corporate advisers were “wetting themselves,” and—contrary to Trump’s statements—dismissed possible military action in North Korea. That move didn’t just hasten his departure, it signaled to Trump’s base that their voice in the White House was being exiled.

Whether Trump's White House can join the pro-corporate GOP mainstream is anybody’s guess. Trump’s association with Bannon, who became campaign CEO when Trump was down by double digits and who pushed Trump to hold more rallies and step up the attacks on Hillary Clinton, represented a bond between two men who clearly share instincts and values. Trump’s firing of Bannon is likely to haunt the White House. As ex-President Lyndon Johnson famously said of infamous FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.” 

“Conservatives from the Tea Party movement have viewed him as a crucial link to the White House,” the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. “Additionally, they worry about the president moving toward the political center without Mr. Bannon involved in policy fights, said a person with ties to conservative donors who support Mr. Bannon. ‘I see New York Democrats and generals in ascendancy, and that is not what we ran on in 2016,’ the person said. ‘So it worries me.’”

“Not what we ran on” is the key comment. Whatever Bannon is planning to do with the Mercers' support—including their investment house analytics that profile and predict behavior of social media users—is going to deepen the GOP’s divides. The biggest divides in American politics, left and right, are between the unruly and energized grassroots outsiders and the pro-corporate, establishment-defending insiders.

Bannon may feel he and Trump share the same values and would be loathe to personally attack him, as the Washington Post's Philip Bump suggests, arguing that others in Trump's orbit would be targeted. But that is a bit fanciful, as after a point you cannot separate the president from the institutional decisions that arise in a presidency. If anything, using Breitbart to press Trump's buttons or block his policies is going to get messy.

Partisan civil wars aren’t just fought with ballots in 2017; they’re fought with online platforms and emotionally provocative propaganda. As Bannon reportedly said, he has a “killing machine” at his disposal, and you can assume that its targets will be the disappointments surrounding the presidency, select Trump’s allies, and then establishment Democrats and progressives.

Bannon and his ilk are not about to allow the GOP to go quielty into the political mainstream.

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5 White Supremacists Whining About How Unfair Things Are After Charlottesville

Fri, 2017-08-18 15:08
Click here for reuse options! Their perpetual state of imagined victimhood has only grown more acute.

No snowflake melts quite so easily as a neo-Nazi, or a white supremacist, or an alt-rightie, or an identitarian, or whatever obfuscatory name racists are hiding behind this week. That’s been clear in the aftermath of Charlottesville, Virginia.

As a reminder, Unite the Right’s explicit purpose was to bring together all of Donald Trump’s most fervent fans, from the alt-right to the Ku Klux Klan, in the fight to preserve a memorial to a U.S. traitor, one Robert E. Lee. Those various factions “spent months openly planning” for the violence that ultimately resulted in Charlottesville, as Mother Jones notes. “The Daily Stormer, a popular neo-Nazi website, encouraged rally attendees to bring shields, pepper spray, and fascist flags and flagpoles. A prominent racist podcast told its listeners to come carrying guns. ‘Bring whatever you need, that you feel you need for your self defense. Do what you need to do for security of your own person,’ said Mike ‘Enoch’ Peinovich on The Right Stuff podcast.”

The result was that 19 people were injured, and Heather Hayer was killed by a white nationalist terrorist who used his car as a weapon.

There’s been a bit of a backlash against this active, vocal segment of Trump’s base in the days since. And suddenly, those same white supremacists, the ones who are always telling black folks to suck it up, are whining about how unfair it all is. Which shouldn’t be surprising. They exist in a perpetual state of imagined victimhood to begin with, and it’s only grown more acute.

Here are five white supremacists who are whining in the aftermath of Charlottesville.

1. Christopher Cantwell

Who this guy is: Cantwell told the SPLC that his mission is “to normalize racism” and that anyone who “gets in my way is going to find themselves in a very long list of people who regretted underestimating me.” In 2000, he served time for criminal possession of stolen property, criminal possession of a weapon and drunk driving, then a few years later, returned to prison for another brief stint for driving while intoxicated. This upstanding citizen and moral arbiter told Vice that in “every single case” of unarmed black people murdered by police, “it’s some little black asshole behaving like a savage and he gets himself in trouble.” He also told the outlet he wants a Trump-like leader “who does not give his daughter to a Jew,” and declared he and his white supremacist buddies “are not nonviolent. We’ll f**king kill these people if we have to.” In another scene, he braggingly displays five guns and a knife he carried in Charlottesville, and suggests Heather Heyer was part of a group of “stupid animals” who didn’t “get out of the way” of her killer’s car. He goes on to call Heyer’s murder “more than justified...I think that a lot more people are going to die before we’re done here.”

Why is this white supremacist whining? In a video posted Wednesday, Cantwell sniffles and tears up—without shedding any actual tears!—in response to reports that a warrant has been issued for his arrest. He insists he and the other neo-Nazis are the real victims, and that his arsenal of weapons and threats to “kill these people” was no big.

“I know we talk a lot of shit on the internet...I want to be peaceful,” says Cantwell, who gets a "D" for effort. “I’m watching CNN talk about this as a violent, white nationalist protest. We have done everything in our power to keep this peaceful!” he adds.

2. Tim 'Baked Alaska' Gionet

Who this guy is: Gionet, better known as “Baked Alaska,” is one of the most well-known alt-righties. On the same day he paraded with the other proud fascists chanting “Jews will not replace us,” he also tweeted the "14 words," a neo-Nazi mantra: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” (The phrase was coined by a white supremacist martyred in Nazi circles for killing a Jew.) This wasn’t a special way to get the troops riled for rioting in Charlottesville. Au contraire, as Gizmodo notes, Gionet tweets the 14 words all the time. In July, he sent a tweet depicting Jewish alt-righter Laura Loomer in a gas chamber. This guy was actually disinvited from the notoriously anti-Semitic alt-right’s Trump inauguration celebration for going too hard on the public displays of anti-Semitism. Here’s footage of him Friday at the neo-Nazi tiki-riot shouting about how proud he is to be white and yelling, “Hail victory!” (the English translation of “Sieg Heil”).

Why is this white supremacist whining? For starters, Gionet claims he was maced Saturday in Charlottesville. (Because Gionet and his friends seemed to catch every other second of themselves on camera except for the actual macing, and he was the only person in his crowd affected by the mace, some are dubious of this account. We actually believe him, though.) After the incident, Gionet changed his tone, tweeting that we should all “come together as a country.” 

That lasted for like, a day? Then he was back to tweeting anti-immigrant messages and retweeting Trump’s pro-Confederate rants. 

3. 'Millennial' Matt Colligan

Who this guy is: A close companion of Gionet's, Colligan is the hipster-mustachioed dude in this viral photo from the neo-fascist tiki torch rally. Since Charlottesville, Twitter shut down his account, which was full of Holocaust denialism and Hitler praise. Gizmodo did a bang-up job of compiling screen grabs and tweets (and a picture of his Twitter profile, which featured photos of his own face alongside pics of David Duke and Joseph Goebbels). Colligan’s favorite thing to tweet was “Hitler did nothing wrong.” For example, here he is “pranking” Shia LeBoeuf (who’s also totally problematic, but stay focused) by saying it on video! In footage that’s been removed since Charlottesville, Gizmodo quotes Colligan as stating, “The truth is, the Holocaust is one of the biggest hoaxes in world history. It’s one of the biggest lies ever perpetrated against the human race.” He also once tweeted that Nazi soldiers were treated worse than Jews at Auschwitz.

Why is this white supremacist whining? We do not, by any means, ever advocate violence or threats of violence against people, whatever their beliefs. But in a video posted Sunday in which he bemoans incoming threats—which again, we condemn—against himself and his family, Colligan suggests that all those statements he made were just for laughs. Now that he’s under attack, it’s different.

“This is horrible,” Colligan says. “What’s happening today is horrible. This is a very dark time for America.”

Yeah it is. Because you and your neo-Nazi friends are trying to make this place inhospitable for lots of us.

“I’m usually a jokester,” Colligan adds. “I do a lot of comedy, but there’s nothing funny about threatening people’s lives, threatening people’s families.”

Still reading? Cool. Just checking the lack of self-reflection didn’t stun you into a stupor. 

4. Peter Cvjetanovic

Who this guy is: Cvjetanovic became the alt-reich poster boy after his screaming visage at the torch riot went viral. He identifies as a “white nationalist,” and told a local Nevada news outlet “the replacement of the statue will be the slow replacement of white heritage within the United States and the people who fought and defended and built their homeland. Robert E Lee is a great example of that. He wasn’t a perfect man, but I want to honor and respect what he stood for during his time.”

For the record, Lee stood for slavery.

Why is this white supremacist whining? Cvjetanovic says things are "spiraling out of control" with his newfound fame. In one interview, he said he hoped people would be “willing to listen that I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.” (Then he went on to give the quote praising Lee, above.) In another interview, below, Cvjetanovic does a whole spiel in which he makes white nationalism sound like a cooperative society for the preservation and maintenance of multiple distinct but authentically American cultures, instead of a philosophy that POC should GTFOH. Nope. 

5. This White Supremacist Who Changed His Clothes and Hid in the Privilege of His White Skin

Who this guy is: Some guy who got separated from the rest of the white supremacists and found himself fearful and alone among counter-protesters. So he did what no person of color could have done among a group of violent neo-Nazis: stripped off his neo-fascist costume (polo shirt and khaki shorts) and slipped seamlessly into the crowd.

No counter-protesters attacked him, even as they watched him shed his uniform. Documentarian CJ Hunt, who is South Asian, captured the entire incident in the scene below. Hunt noted in a column at GQ that the white supremacist then “slip[ped] shirtless and undetected through a crowd like a child playing capture the flag, taking his free walk back to his side. White terror, his sword. White innocence, his shield."

Why is this white supremacist whining? “I’m not really white power, man. I just came here for the fun,” he shouts while removing his shirt. When Hunt challenges him on taking off his “costume,” he explains that his idea of fun is committing acts of racial terror. “It’s kind of a fun idea. Just being able to say ‘white power,’ you know?”

Hunt uses the incident to illustrate the power of white supremacy:

Since I'm a person of color, my identity is not a uniform I can take off when I am feeling unsafe—when I'm stopped by police or when my white girlfriend and I travel through southern towns where Confederate flags billow from porches and pickup trucks. Like all minorities, I’ve grown used to the way that difference marks me—the burden of being ever ready for the moment my skin turns me into a target for angry white men determined to take back what they think the world owes them.   

The video of this part-time Nazi, this junior secessionist, is a perfect portrait of the very white privilege the so-called “alt-right” decries as liberal fiction. White privilege isn’t just an easy bank loan or the cumulative effects of discriminatory housing policy. It's also the privilege to disappear. The privilege to terrorize a community and return to your regular life with the ease of peeling off a polo shirt. The privilege to come to someone else’s town, invoke the symbols and slogans used to terrorize Jews, African-Americans, and countless other races in history’s darkest chapters, and pretend it’s simply your way of showing ethnic pride. It’s the privilege to engage in terror “for fun,” and the privilege to walk away. For most of my life, I've thought of racism as the vestiges of a dying generation. It's far more terrifying to behold a sea of young people for whom white supremacy is just a rec-league sport.

I followed the young man, watching him slip shirtless and undetected through a crowd like a child playing capture the flag, taking his free walk back to his side. White terror, his sword. White innocence, his shield. I looked on in horror and envy as he disappeared into the scrum, neither of us knowing that somewhere on a crowded street less than a mile away, others would not be so lucky.

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If You Love Dogs, Don't Shop at Petland

Fri, 2017-08-18 15:00
The national pet store chain is selling dogs from cruel puppy mills. Now they're being taken to court.

Last month, the Animal Legal Defense Fund announced the filing of a nationwide consumer class action lawsuit against Petland, a national pet store chain, and the chain’s Kennesaw, Georgia location. The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia alleging Petland violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act and Georgia RICO Act.

The lawsuit is filed on behalf of a putative nationwide class of consumers victimized by Petland’s predatory business practices of charging premium prices for puppies Petland has “guaranteed” to be healthy—as certified by Petland’s veterinarians—when Petland knows full well it is selling puppies prone to illnesses and other defects, including “puppy-mill” sourced puppies.

A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog-breeding facility. Puppy mills produce the largest number of puppies as quickly as possible, without consideration of the care of the animals. Breeding practices and the crowded, unsanitary conditions in which puppies born in mills live during the first weeks of their lives put the dogs at risk of numerous genetic and hereditary conditions and deadly diseases. Additionally, many puppy mill dogs experience behavioral and psychological problems throughout their lives from lack of early socialization and being weaned too young.

The lawsuit also contends that Petland further inflates the animals’ price with phony services that exist only to line the company’s pockets, not benefit consumers or their dogs.

The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff and the nationwide class were bilked into paying premium prices for puppies but did not receive the benefit of the bargain.  Petland’s fraud harmed all class members, regardless of whether they were sold a sick or healthy pet, because they were paying for a “certified” healthy puppy. The complaint alleges the certification was a sham—it would be by pure chance if a customer got a healthy puppy, which is not what consumers thought they were paying for—at a premium price. Petland has profited handsomely from its fraudulent scheme.

The lawsuit comes at a critical time for the puppy mill and pet store industry and its many victims. In Georgia this spring, consumers and animal advocates narrowly defeated a bill in the state legislature dubbed the “Petland bill,” a sweetheart deal which would have capped damages for consumers harmed by Georgia pet stores and precluded cities and counties in the state from adopting stricter standards or banning the retail sale of pets altogether, as scores of cities and counties around the country have done over the last few years. Similar pet store centric bills masquerading as consumer protection legislation are popping up nationwide, the industry’s desperate attempt to stem the growing tide of opposition to its puppy-mill-dependent supply chain.

“Petland’s scheme has left a trail of defrauded consumers and deceased or sick puppies, with expensive medical bills, in its wake,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Puppy mills put the bottom line ahead of the health and wellbeing of the animals, while Petland profits at the expense of its consumers and the sick puppies it peddles to them.”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is litigating the case in collaboration with Georgia attorney Tamara Feliciano and attorneys from Andersen Sleater Sianni LLC.

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Extremely Active Hurricane Season Is Forecast as Peak Lies Ahead

Fri, 2017-08-18 15:00
Batten down the hatches: The busiest part of the hurricane season is yet to come.

So far, the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season hasn’t been much to write home about. While there have been more storms than usual, they’ve all been pretty dinky and short-lived. But forecasters expect that to change in the coming weeks as the peak of the hurricane season arrives.

Favorable water temperatures and winds mean there’s “the possibility now that the season could be extremely active,” featuring as many as five major hurricanes, Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday.

There are already indications that activity has already picked up, with Tropical Storm Franklin making its second landfall in Mexico earlier this month after strengthening into the first hurricane of the season.

Watch the swift intensification of Tropical Storm #Franklin as the storm pushed out over the Bay of Campeche via microwave imagery.

— Michael Ventrice (@MJVentrice) August 9, 2017

Such storms bring heightened concerns for storm surge and flooding—as Hurricane Matthew delivered across a swath of the Southeast last year—particularly as rising seas driven by climate change have exacerbated such impacts. Other impacts of global warming on hurricanes are less clear, though scientists think that while the number of overall hurricanes may decline, more powerful storms will account for more of that total.

So far this season there have been six named storms, including only the second April storm in the satellite era. While this is a bit busier than normal, most of these storms were fairly weak and didn’t last very long. Some of them probably wouldn’t have even been noticed as tropical storms before the advent of satellites, Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University, said.

Tropical Storm Franklin is the most robust storm of the Atlantic season so far. It raked across the Yucatan Peninsula yesterday before emerging over the Bay of Campeche and strengthening. It is expected to become a hurricane—the first of the season—before it makes landfall overnight near Veracruz.

The busiest part of the hurricane season lies ahead, though, with nearly 90 percent of hurricane activity historically falling between late August and early October.

NOAA updated its forecast for the season on Wednesday, upping the odds that it will be an above-average season to 60 percent, compared to 45 percent in May.

They are predicting eight to 13 more named storms to form during the rest of the season, for a total of 14 to 19. Of those, 5 to 9 are expected to become hurricanes and 2 to 5 major hurricanes, defined as those that reach Category 3 status or higher. An average season has 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.

The reasons for the expected flurry of activity are the favorable conditions in the tropical Atlantic, where most storms form.

Ocean temperatures are above average, providing plenty of fuel for the convection at the center of storms, and wind shear, which tends to cut off storm development, is low. The chances of an El Niño developing have dropped since May, bolstering the forecast as El Niño tends to cause the winds that stymie storms.

There have also been a few storms forming in the tropical Atlantic, which tends to portend an active season ahead.

“If you’re going to have an active season, that’s’ where conditions are going to be conducive,” Bell said.

separate forecast by Klotzbach and his colleagues at CSU also predicts an above-average season, with 16 named storms, eight hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

Forecasters can’t say, though, where such storms might make landfall, as that depends on localized weather patterns that can’t be predicted that far out.

“You’re not going to predict that a season in advance; you couldn’t even predict a day in advance” with the little jog that Hurricane Matthew took last year to avoid making landfall in Florida, Klotzbach said. His forecast does, though, give a 62 percent chance of a major hurricane making landfall somewhere along the U.S. coast, given historical odds.

Forecasters are watching a storm system east of the Caribbean that could provide the first chance for a hurricane to hit, as there is some indication that it could develop and affect the U.S. coast. Whether it will develop into tropical storm or a hurricane, how strong it might get and its likely path are all still uncertain. (Tropical Storms Cindy and Emily did impact the U.S. this season, with Emily, both causing flooding along the Gulf Coast and Florida, respectively.)

If a major hurricane does strike the U.S. this year, it will be the first to do so since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Of course, a hurricane doesn’t have to reach that technical threshold to do considerable damage when it hits land, as both Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Sandy made clear. The storm surge and flooding from Matthew killed 34 people and caused $10 billion in damage in the U.S. alone, while Sandy was the second costliest in U.S. history (behind only Katrina).

The damage from such storms is only expected to rise as climate change continues, thanks to rising sea levels that exacerbate storm surge and heavier rains that lead to flooding.

In the future, scientists project that while there will be fewer storms overall, more of those that do form will be at the strongest end of the spectrum, like Hurricane Andrew, the last Category 5 to hit the U.S., more than 25 years ago. Major hurricanes have already increased in the Atlantic since 1970.

There is concern that the lull in major hurricane strikes could make any strikes now worse, particularly with the large influx of people to coastal areas, who may not have experience with such storms. For that reason, emergency managers and hurricane experts caution coastal residents to prepare now.


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Steve Bannon Finally Gets the Heave-Ho After Weeks of Speculation

Fri, 2017-08-18 13:27
There has been a bipartisan call for his firing since an alt-right rally left one dead.

Steve Bannon is leaving the Trump White House. White House chief of staff John Kelly confirmed the news on Friday,

As of Friday morning, the New York Times reported, Bannon was still working in the White House — despite offering Trump his resignation on August 7. CNN reported that Friday would be his last day and that he was “essentially forced out.”

“We’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon,” Trump said at his controversial Trump Tower press conference on Tuesday. His chief White House strategist has since gone on a media tour. But as CNN’s Jim Acosta reported on Friday, sources in the White House said Trump did not like Bannon stealing the spotlight — despite what was widely criticized as a disastrous week for the president.

There was a bipartisan call for Bannon’s firing following the fatal violence at an alt-right protest in Charlottesville on Saturday. In his former job, Bannon served as the CEO of Breitbart, which he proclaimed as the home of the alt-right.

Bannon is gunning for a trade war with China, but not everyone in the Trump administration may be on board with that. Bannon has been an outspoken critic of U.S. trade policy with the world’s second-largest economy, but his call to escalate tensions between the superpowers is at odds with U.S. diplomatic efforts to recruit China’s help in dealing with the North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.

While Trump has publicly echoed Bannon’s views the U.S. needs to take a harder stance on China regarding trade, the president’s diplomatic and military chiefs aren’t putting that issue on the top of their agendas. Instead, they view China as a partner in trying to put a leash on North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

“To me,” Bannon said in an interview with the American Prospect this week, “the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”

Specifically, Bannon wants to use a provision in the 1974 U.S. Trade Act to block China from requiring that U.S. companies doing business there share innovations with their Chinese joint-venture partners. He also wants to take a harder stance on Chinese steel and aluminum dumping. The president seems on board with these efforts.

But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis appear less interested in antagonizing China and more focused on containing Pyongyang’s threats.

At a press conference in Washington D.C. on Thursday, CBS News reported that Tillerson and Mattis reiterated U.S. resolve to defend its allies in Asia and its willingness to deploy a military against North Korea.

“Obviously any diplomatic effort in any situation where you have this level of threat that we are confronted with, a threat of proportions that none of us like to contemplate, has to be backed by a strong military consequence if North Korea chooses wrongly,” Tillerson said.

While the U.S. is using strong language publicly about North Korea threats, it’s also recruiting China’s assistance. Susan Thornton, the State Department’s chief Asia and Pacific affairs diplomat, recently said China was “helpful and instrumental” in implementing the U.N. sanctions against North Korea for recent long-range missile tests.

For his part, Bannon rejects the notion that the U.S. would resort to a military strikes against North Korea to answer its nuclear threats.

“There’s no military solution, forget it,” he told the libearl American Prospect this week. “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

From Bannon’s perspective, there’s little China is going to do to help the U.S. contain North Korea, so the U.S. might as well focus on fixing what he sees as a bigger threat to America’s future prosperity: China’s trade strategies. 

Bannon’s forced resignation follows a series of resignation from other senior White House staffers.

Source close to Bannon confirms Bannon expected to return to Breitbart after a WH exit

— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) August 18, 2017  Related Stories

Of Course, Weeping Nazi Chris Cantwell Started as a 'Men's Rights' Activist

Fri, 2017-08-18 12:57
The world of online anti-feminism has become a gateway to white supremacy.

The white supremacist rally that turned violent — and then deadly — on Saturday was immediately documented by Vice News Tonight and its correspondent Elle Reeve, in a video documentary released on Monday. It wasn’t just the turnaround speed that was impressive, but the level of access the Vice team got, largely due to the choice to embed with Christopher Cantwell, a self-appointed white supremacist leader whose big mouth and massive gun collection left an impression on the documentary’s viewers.

Watching the documentary, it’s clear enough how Vice got Cantwell to agree to be so closely followed and repeatedly interviewed: The guy craves the camera, repeatedly playing up his ugly views to Reeve, clearly knowing that he’s giving good sound-bites that will make it into the documentary. It’s no surprise, then, that Cantwell followed up the rally by posting a dramatic video to social media where he manages to cry for four minutes about his fear of arrest, all without shedding a tear. The video went viral, mostly because people want to see Nazis cry, and Cantwell scored even more attention for himself.

It also didn’t take long for internet sleuths to figure out that the 36-year-old, who now hosts a white supremacist talk show, has quite a history of making a spectacle of himself and has rebranded as different flavors of jackass several times over the course of his illustrious career. Cantwell ran for Congress in 2010 as a Libertarian. He and two friends started the “Free Keane Squad,” which made it to “The Colbert Report” in 2014 because their main form of activism appeared to be chasing meter maids around and harassing them for giving people parking tickets.

Cantwell also identified as a “men’s rights activist” and wrote for the site  A Voice for Men, one of the hubs of organized misogyny on the internet. He expressed his views that the state supposedly gives “women the power to have men arrested for anything without any evidence at all” and how women, in their roles of “traditionally carrying the role of raising children and supporting the men,” did not evolve to have high IQs. Like men do. Allegedly.

It’s yet another example of how the world of online anti-feminism has become a gateway to white supremacy. While there hasn’t been any rigid academic analysis of this phenomenon, sites like We Hunted the Mammoth, which started as a way to monitor the various and overlapping worlds of online misogyny, have tracked that when men get together to gripe about their resentment of women’s growing independence, they often start drifting toward talking about “white genocide” and other white supremacist ideas.

The world of online misogynists is a complex maze. Some of the communities are geared towards older, divorced men. Some are “pick-up artist” sites, geared towards younger men who think they aren’t getting the female attention they believe they’re due. Some identify as “men going their own way,” which is to say giving up on women altogether. But what brings them together is anger over the fact that feminism has liberated women to date whomever they wish and leave marriages that aren’t working. This makes it much harder, in the “men’s rights” misogynist view, for men to acquire or keep the submissive female partners they feel entitled to.

Why hating women would lead so many men to hating nonwhite people is difficult to parse in logical terms. But racism and sexism aren’t rational ideologies and really aren’t bound by the basic rules of logic. At the root of both lies a thwarted sense of entitlement and a sense that women and people of color are somehow stealing what is the white man’s due. That was felt most keenly in Charlottesville last Friday night, when the torch-wielding mob chanted, “You will not replace us!”

Cantwell himself mentioned one of the most common narratives that white supremacists and men’s rights activists use to link the two ideologies together, by claiming that “their” women are being stolen from them by Jews and men of color. In one of his many interviews with Reeve, Cantwell sneers at Donald Trump for “giving his daughter to a Jew” and says, “I don’t think you can feel about race the way I do and watch that Kushner bastard walk around with that beautiful girl.”

It’s hard to know where to start with this statement, which is as delusional as it is offensive. What struck me most, watching the interview, is how delighted Cantwell is with himself. He’s tickled at how shocking his anti-Semitic views are and pleased with the chance to tell an actual woman that he views women as objects for men to trade, rather than autonomous human beings.

That attention-seeking, misogynistic impulse is evident in the “Colbert Report” video as well. It’s quite clear that the elaborate political arguments against parking meters are just a fig leaf for the real goal of the Free Keane Squad, which lies in the thrill of videotaping themselves harassing people, especially women. The levels of overcompensation for insecurity are almost too painful to look at. In the “Colbert Report” segment, Cantwell even says, “I find that when I carry a gun, people are very unlikely to hit me.” That same pathetic impulse, to use lethal firearms as a shield against profound insecurity, is also evident in the Vice documentary, where Cantwell makes a big show of spreading out and unloading his weapons in front of Reeve.

Taken altogether, it’s no surprise that one of the favorite insults of the white supremacist/MRA crowd is the word “cuck.” Most outlets gently mention that it’s a reference to the antiquated English word “cuckold,” but the grim reality is that most white supremacists almost certainly got the term not from Elizabethan literature but from modern day “cuckold” porn, much of which plays with racial stereotypes about white women cheating on their white husbands with black men. That this would be popular enough among white supremacists to infiltrate their slang — while continuing to confuse the rest of us — speaks volumes about the insular, obsessive culture of what we now call the “alt-right.”

The world of “men’s rights” and “pick-up artists” is easy enough to ignore, since it’s just a bunch of bitter losers eager to blame their personal failures on women who ignore them. Unfortunately, as this past weekend has shown, those bitter losers can become powerful, especially if they’re organized and well-armed, and have managed to talk each other into acts of violence. The trick now is to understand the real threat they pose without empowering them further or giving them more of the attention they so desperately crave.

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Jon Stewart Surprises Dave Chappelle Audience With Hilarious Rant About Trump

Fri, 2017-08-18 11:55
The former "Daily Show" host was livid over the president's response to Charlottesville.

Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart made a surprise appearance at a Dave Chappelle show at Radio City Music Hall Thursday evening, where he regaled the audience with his experiences involving President Donald Trump before the New York businessman was elected, reports Brooklyn Vegan.

According to New York Times writer Sopan Deb, who transcribed some of Stewart’s routine, the comedian once again referred to Trump by his Daily Show nickname “F*ckface Von Clownstick.”

“Here’s some clues that he’s not a great guy. He lives in a building with his name on it in giant letters and he has a plane on it, with his name in giant letters. Good people don’t ride like that.” Steward said. “You’re never like, ‘Hey, there’s the Mother Teresa Plane.’ Like, that’s [INAUDIBLE] shit right there.”

“I’ll admit, like, I have a particular beef with him. So, all this shit is new to people. They’re like ‘Donald Trump is a racist?’ Four years ago, I come into the office one morning and I walk in and somebody says to me, ‘Dude, did you see what Trump tweeted about you?’ And I was trying to be cool so I was like, ‘F*ck Yeah! So he tweeted, ‘If John Leibowitz is so above it all, why did he change his name?’ Basically, saying to people, ‘Just so you know, he’s a Jew.'”

“He comes at me with ‘His name is Liebovitz.’ So I have some issues with my father. Things worked out. I changed my name. We don’t have to go there?” Stewart quipped. “The point is – so I don’t know what to do. So I get on the Comedy Central Twitter and I tweet back, ‘Did you know Donald Trump’s real name is F*ckface Von Clownstick?’”

Deb included more from Stewart’s rant on his Twitter page, including, Stewart taking Trump to task for defending the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville by saying there were “two sides.”

“The presence of two sides?” Stewart exclaimed, “There are two sides, motherf*cker? Two sides?”

“I believe that they were called the Allied powers and the Axis powers,” he continued. “And we used to be with the Allied powers. This motherf*ker [Trump} signed a treaty that I don’t think any of us knew about.”

You can read the tweets below for your dose of Jon Stewart:

1st part of what Stewart had to say tonight: "It wasn’t so much that there were Nazis. It was really the reaction by certain presidents."

— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) August 18, 2017

More from Jon Stewart tonight, where he says Trump's tweet at him 4 years ago was a "white supremacist trope."

— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) August 18, 2017

Stewart on Obama becoming POTUS: "It would be like in World War 2, if Franklin Roosevelt lost a presidential election to Gaydolf Shitler."

— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) August 18, 2017  Related Stories

Two Major Magazines Go There After Trump's Abominable Response to Charlottesville

Fri, 2017-08-18 10:59
The New Yorker and the Economist artfully present the president as a white supremacist.

The cover pages of the New Yorker and Economist have criticised President Donald Trump’s defence of a white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In an editorial, the Economist said Trump is “politically inept, morally barren and temperamentally unfit for office”.

While it said Trump was not himself a white supremacist, the piece accused him of bungling “the simplest of political tests: finding a way to condemn Nazis”, which had earned him the endorsement of David Duke, a former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Our cover this week

— The Economist (@TheEconomist) August 17, 2017

“Mr Trump’s seemingly heartfelt defence of those marching to defend Confederate statues spoke to the degree to which white grievance and angry, sour nostalgia is part of his world view.”

A similar New Yorker cover, titled “Blowhard”, presented Trump in a boat blowing wind into a sail shaped like a Ku Klux Klan hood.

An early look at next week's cover, "Blowhard," by David Plunkert:

— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) August 17, 2017

“President Trump’s weak pushback to hate groups – as if he was trying not to alienate them as voters – compelled me to take up my pen,” said David Plunkert, the artist behind the issue.

Unpublished Trump cover sketch art from 2016

— David Plunkert (@plunkert) August 13, 2017

“A picture does a better job showing my thoughts than words do; it can have a light touch on a subject that’s extremely scary,” said the artist.

The president took two days to condemn the KKK and neo-Nazi protesters, eventually saying hate groups were “repugnant”.

But in an anti-media diatribe on Tuesday in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, he reeled back, defending far-right protesters at the Charlottesville rally and laying the blame for the violence equally on what he called the “alt-left”.

The president said there were “very fine people on both sides” of violent demonstrations in which a white nationalist allegedly killed civil rights activist Heather Heyer when his car ploughed into a crowd in the Virginian city.

Self-identifying ethno-nationalists had gathered to protest against the planned removal of a statue of Robert E Lee, the Confederacy’s top general in the American civil war. “You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, and the press has treated them absolutely unfairly,” Trump said.

Video of the far-right group in Charlottesville showed men chanting “Jews will not replace us”.

Time, another New York-headquartered magazine, did not put Trump on its front cover but showed a person in thick, black boots and draped in a United States flag giving the Nazi salute.

TIME’s new cover: Behind the hate in America

— TIME (@TIME) August 17, 2017

• This article was amended on 18 August 2017 to clarify a reference to the reasons for the protests in Charlottesville.

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Sean Hannity Has Been Dumpster Diving With Conspiracy Theorists Again

Fri, 2017-08-18 10:45
The Fox News host is pushing an insane new story about "Antifa agitators."

Fox News host Sean Hannity used his radio show to promote the inane conspiracy theory that “antifa agitators” who opposed the neo-Nazi and white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, VA, on Saturday were actually actors hired by a publicity firm.

The claim seems to have originated from the fever swamp of pro-Trump online message boards and social media accounts before making its way through conspiracy websites and onto Hannity’s program.

For some reason, all parties involved in promoting the moronic claim have interpreted a Craigslist ad posted August 7 by the firm Crowds on Demand which offered $25 per hour to "actors and photographers" to participate in events in the "Charlotte, NC area" as evidence that the firm was hiring counter-protesters for the event in Charlottesville, roughly 300 miles away. Crowds on Demand has flatly denied the charge, saying that the company was "not involved in any capacity with the recent tragic events in Charlottesville.”

The Craigslist ad “began to spread on social media and chat forums like Reddit and 4Chan” on August 14, as Snopes detailed. Last night, the former actor and Trump supporter Scott Baio pushed a version of this fable on his Facebook page, promoting private messages he had received from an unnamed associate which claimed that the hired protesters traveled on “buses [that] were hired by media matters which is owned by George Soros” (none of this is true).

Earlier today, the claim made the jump to ZeroHedge, a regular clearinghouse for conspiracy theories. The post’s pseudonymous author, “Tyler Durden,” claimed the ad “is raising new questions over whether paid protesters were sourced by a Los Angeles based ‘public relations firm specializing in innovative events’ to serve as agitators in counterprotests,” and tied the “discovery” to President Donald Trump’s claim that there was “blame on both sides” for the Charlottesville violence. The ZeroHedge piece was reposted later today on, radio host Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory website.

From those conspiracy sites, the claim jumped to two of the most prominent radio shows in the country, with audiences of millions. “There's a story out today that raises a question whether or not antifa agitators that showed up in Charlottesville on Saturday were bought and paid for,” Hannity claimed. Hannity continued, “Apparently it was uncovered, and some of the media reported it, that some suspicious activity by an LA-based company that calls itself Crowds on Demand.”

Hannity then seemingly read from the Zero Hedge article, saying, “A Craigslist post last Monday, a full week before the Charlottesville protest, raising questions about whether paid protesters were sourced by a Los Angeles-based PR firm specializing in innovative events to serve as agitators and counterprotests. 25 bucks an hour to actors, photographers in that particular case to participate in events in Charlotte, NC, area as opposed to Charlottesville, VA.”

“So maybe it's just a coincidence,” he concluded. “I don't know for sure. But we're going to keep an eye on that.”

Rush Limbaugh also mentioned the conspiracy theory on his radio show, claiming that progressives “were hiring for Charlottesville in advance. The ad has been found on, I think it's Craigslist.”

This is far from the first time Hannity has promoted trash from the dregs of the Internet. Most infamously, the Fox star embarked on an extensive on-air campaign in support of the obscene conspiracy theory that the late Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered because he was a source for WikiLeaks.

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Paul Krugman: We Have a Madman in the White House

Fri, 2017-08-18 10:15
The New York Times columnist says Trump makes Caligula look reasonable by comparison.

Since he was elected in November, historians have likened Trump to the depraved Roman emperor Caligula. Those comparisons may ultimately prove to be unfair to Caligula.

In his Friday column for the New York Times, Paul Krugman notes that the president's Roman counterpart never incited ethnic violence, and that governance did not effectively halt under his rule. And when Caligula became “truly intolerable,” Rome’s elite found a way to get rid of him.

American civil society, on the other hand, appears to be unraveling in real time, Krugman writes:

Journalists have stopped seizing on brief moments of not-craziness to declare Trump “presidential”; business leaders have stopped trying to curry favor by lending Trump an air of respectability; even military leaders have gone as far as they can to dissociate themselves from administration pronouncements.

For the moment, stocks are up, new jobs are on the market and public services are still functioning. But as Krugman reminds us, a “series of scary deadlines” are looming on the horizon. The government could shut down if Congress doesn’t reach a new budget deal, go into default if the debt ceiling is not raised, or take away coverage from millions of kids if the Children’s Health Insurance Plan is not renewed. 

Trump has proven himself entirely unfit for office, so Republican leaders in Congress must ensure that critical deadlines are met. And Paul Krugman isn't holding his breath.

There is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Caligula was ultimately assassinated, but Congress is lawfully allowed to dismiss a rogue president. And yet a third of the country still supports Trump, "so all we get from the vast majority of elected Republicans are off-the-record expressions of 'dismay' or denunciations of bigotry that somehow fail to name the bigot in chief."

As Republican leaders continue to pander to their white supremacist base, Krugman writes that “it’s hard to imagine anything—up to and including evidence of collusion with a foreign power—that would make them risk losing those voters' support.”

Krugman ends on a somber note, observing “we’re stuck with a malevolent, incompetent president whom nobody knowledgeable respects, and many consider illegitimate.”

Our only hope is that the opposition can recapture Congress in the mid-term elections.

“If that doesn’t happen…God save America,” Krugman laments. “Because all indications are that the Republicans won’t.”

Read his full column at the New York Times.

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Heather Heyer's Mother Won't Speak with Trump: 'Not After What He Said About My Child'

Fri, 2017-08-18 10:06
Susan Bro had initially praised the president for condemning white supremacists.

Susan Bro, the mother of slain anti-Nazi protester Heather Heyer, told ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday morning that she does not want to talk with President Donald Trump.

Bro acknowledged that the Trump White House called her on three separate occasions, including once during her daughter’s memorial service. While Bro says that she initially simply missed the White House’s calls, she now says that she does not want to speak with the president.

“I’m not talking to the president now, I’m sorry,” Bro said on GMA. “After what he said about my child… it’s not that I’ve seen someone else’s tweets about him, I saw an actual clip of him at a press conference equating the protesters, like Ms. Heyer, with the KKK and the white supremacists.”

Trump this week said that he believed there were “very fine” people who were both attending and protesting last week’s white supremacist rally, and he blamed bad actors on “both sides” for the violence that ensued.

During an interview with MSNBC on Thursday, Bro revealed that she has received death threats after she spoke out against white nationalists during Heather Heyer’s memorial service.


"Have you talked to [Pres. Trump] directly yet?" - @RobinRoberts

"I have not and now I will not." - Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer

— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 18, 2017  Related Stories

Tina Fey Crashes 'Weekend Update' to Deliver Epic Takedown of Trump and His Neo-Nazi Supporters

Fri, 2017-08-18 01:11
"I've seen 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' and I wasn't confused by it."

Tina Fey paid a surprise visit to SNL for the summer edition of "Weekend Update," and she did not disappoint.

"It broke my heart to see these evil forces descend upon Charlottesville," Fey, a University of Virginia graduate, said directly to the camera.

She spoke about President Trump's waffling on the evil of the white supremacist marchers. "I've seen 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' and I wasn't confused by it....Nazis are always bad."

Fey joked that her hope is to see the white supremacist marchers coming to New York City on Saturday "get the ham salad kicked out of them by a bunch of drag queens."

The "30 Rock" star also took on white privilege, Ann Coulter and Republicans' favorite deflection, "Hillary's emails." Fey urged those looking to counteract the neo-Nazis to express support for targeted communities by visiting black- or Jewish-owned bakeries and buying cakes with American flags on them.

Her suggestion? "Yell" your frustrations into the cake. "Sheet caking is a grassroots movement," she explained to co-host Colin Jost.

"In conclusion, I really want to encourage all good, sane Americans to treat these rallies this weekend like the opening of a thoughtful movie with two female leads. Don't show up. Let these morons scream into the empty air. I love you, Charlottesville," Fey said.

Mic dropped.

If you'll excuse me, I have a screaming date with some vegan cake:

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