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    Rush Limbaugh: Barack Obama 'Got Everything He Wanted' Because He's Black

    Rush Limbaugh: Barack Obama 'Got Everything He Wanted' Because He's Black


    Right-wing talk-show host Rush Limbaugh claims any legislative success President Barack Obama enjoyed during his first year in office was because of the color of his skin.“You have the first African-American president. You have everybody falling all...




    Right-wing talk-show host Rush Limbaugh claims any legislative success President Barack Obama enjoyed during his first year in office was because of the color of his skin.


    “You have the first African-American president. You have everybody falling all over themselves to acknowledge that, to reward that,” Rush told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” adding: 



    “Obama was going to get everything he wanted in the first year because if anybody opposed it, they were going to be accused of being a racist, or a bigot, or who knows what.”



    Limbaugh also blamed Democrats for “driving this business that the Russians hacked the election” because “they just can’t accept that they lost.”


    See the full interview above. The comments about Obama take place at about 8:25.  


     


    (h/t Media Matters)

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    The Tiny Donald Trump Meme Just Got Taken To The Next Level

    The Tiny Donald Trump Meme Just Got Taken To The Next Level


    Introducing #TinyTrump: The moving picture sequel.Internet users collectively LOL’ed last week when Photoshopped images of a miniaturized version of President Donald Trump going about his daily business went viral.YouTube channel Evil Ice Cream...




    Introducing #TinyTrump: The moving picture sequel.


    Internet users collectively LOL’ed last week when Photoshopped images of a miniaturized version of President Donald Trump going about his daily business went viral.


    YouTube channel Evil Ice Cream Pictures has now taken the meme to the next level by giving the concept a video makeover. 


    We saw all those stills of Tiny Trump and were like that’s cool but why not do it in motion, a.k.a. next level meme it,” the YouTubers posted on Sunday. “Wait, we could do that. So we did.”





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    Who's Cuter? The Easter Bunny Or This Australian Bilby?

    Who's Cuter? The Easter Bunny Or This Australian Bilby?


    Here comes Peter Bilby-Tail, hopping down the marsupial trail. That’s what Aussies have in mind as spring approaches and they prepare to to shun bunnies again and celebrate an approaching holiday with their own native Easter Bilby. It’s been a long...


    Here comes Peter Bilby-Tail, hopping down the marsupial trail. That’s what Aussies have in mind as spring approaches and they prepare to to shun bunnies again and celebrate an approaching holiday with their own native Easter Bilby


    It’s been a long battle, and largely successful. Locals have taken the  rabbit-sized native with huge ears and a pointy nose to heart.  Australian kids now devour chocolate bilbies (which are also called rabbit bandicoots). Companies like Haigh’s Chocolates, which created the first chocolate Easter Bilby over two decades ago, donate a portion of their proceeds to helping save the species.



    Bunnies are generally not beloved Down Under. They were imported by Europeans almost 200 years ago to become an invasive, destructive pest. The rapacious rabbits famously inspired a six-year construction project resulting in the world longest “rabbit-proof” fence in western Australia. It didn’t really do the trick. 





    The idea to dethrone the Easter Bunny was born in 1968 when a 9-year-old Queensland girl wrote a story called “Billy The Aussie Easter Bilby,” which eventually became a book. The campaign was officially launched in 1991 by members of a group called Rabbit-Free Australia, who approached artist/author/environmentalist Kaye Kessing in 1993 to create a children’s picture book called “The Easter Bilby.” The bilby of the book does everything the Easter bunny does, but it’s a native Australian. Lots of other bilby books by other authors followed.



    Adelaide Zoo’s baby #Bilby ‘ambassador’ for vulnerable species https://t.co/KbS0dBAYWR via @theTiser pic.twitter.com/tYDw7U630X

    — WWF_Australia (@WWF_Australia) May 30, 2016


    Rabbit-Free Australia is deadly serious about the Easter Bilby. Backing the seasonal hero is listed as one of the group’s key projects on its web site to “ensure [that] the ‘bilbies not bunnies’ message is widely promoted and understood.” 


     Even Britain’s baby Prince George was wooed into the bilby camp after one of the animals in the Sydney Taronga Zoo was named after him. 



    There are only an estimated 600 of the creatures left in the wild in the west and central deserts of Australia currently, due to predation by feral cats. But they have been also hunted by foxes and driven from their burrows by the aggressive rabbits. Bilby backers hope elevating their status during Easter will help.



    A post shared by Pia Ravenari (@ravenari) on Mar 27, 2016 at 11:28pm PDT



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    Seth Meyers Thinks Donald Trump's Presidency Is About 1 Thing

    Seth Meyers Thinks Donald Trump's Presidency Is About 1 Thing


    Seth Meyers sees a common thread running through Donald Trump’s presidency.From asking for a “friendly reporter” in his first press conference last Thursday to saying he just wanted to be “among my friends” at his campaign-style rally in...




    Seth Meyers sees a common thread running through Donald Trump’s presidency.


    From asking for a “friendly reporter” in his first press conference last Thursday to saying he just wanted to be “among my friends” at his campaign-style rally in Melbourne, Florida on Saturday, the “Late Night” host lightheartedly suggested on Monday that Trump was just using his time in office to find himself a new pal.


    “The president of the United States just wants a friend,” said Meyers. “You know, someone he can force to eat meatloaf,” he added, in reference to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) admission that Trump ordered his meal for him during a recent White House lunch.


    Check out the full segment above.


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    4 U.S. Tourists And A Pilot Killed When Plane Crashes Into Australian Mall

    4 U.S. Tourists And A Pilot Killed When Plane Crashes Into Australian Mall


    A small plane carrying American tourists to a golf outing crashed in a ball of flames into an Australian shopping mall just seconds after takeoff from Essendon Airport in suburban Melbourne.All five on board were killed. The mall, next to a freeway,...






    A small plane carrying American tourists to a golf outing crashed in a ball of flames into an Australian shopping mall just seconds after takeoff from Essendon Airport in suburban Melbourne.


    All five on board were killed. The mall, next to a freeway, was closed when the plane went down about 9 a.m. Tuesday local time.


    The four passengers were all from the U.S., the State Department confirmed to ABC News. The pilot of the chartered plan was Australian. Their identities were not officially released as of Tuesday night, though tributes from relatives began to appear on Facebook.


    The Americans were heading to a golf course on Tasmania’s King Island when the twin-engine Beechcraft-200 King Air crashed. U.S. Embassy officials went to the scene, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.



    A retail outlet is ablaze after a light plane crashed at Essendon Airport, in Melbourne's north https://t.co/ojWJRoizoO pic.twitter.com/8QzT96t3FZ

    — ABC News (@abcnews) February 21, 2017


    “We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who died in today’s tragic crash,” a  a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Canberra told Melbourne’s Herald Sun.


    The pilot, Max Quartermain, 63, owned the air charter company, Corporate and Leisure Aviation, with his wife.



    JUST IN: Four U.S. citizens killed in deadly Melbourne plane crash, State Department confirms pic.twitter.com/IKq6pkfNRI

    — NBC News (@NBCNews) February 21, 2017


    It was the worst aviation disaster in 30 years in the state of Victoria.


    Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane said at a news conference that the tragedy could have been far worse with more victims on the ground had the shopping mall been open.


    Quartermain issued two mayday alerts just after takeoff and appeared to attempt to veer to return to the airport almost immediately. Officials suspect catastrophic engine failure, but the Australian Transport Safety Bureau is conducting an investigation.



    #EXCLUSIVE: Final moments before a light plane crashes into Essendon's #DFO, killing all on board.

    READ: https://t.co/oTu4fwZDwo #TenNews pic.twitter.com/mvVL84sIy2

    — TEN Eyewitness News (@channeltennews) February 21, 2017


    A shaken witness told The Sydney Morning Herald that she saw a “huge fireball and black smoke” in the sky. She could see a section of the mall in flames.



    .@theheraldsun nasty stuff. I saw a yellow and red fiery ball explode then black plumes of smoke pic.twitter.com/gDTQESftMv

    — Mïkey Cahîll (@JoeyLightbulb) February 20, 2017


    Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said it was a “desperately sad day.” 


    “Our thoughts, our prayers, our best wishes and our support go to all of those who have been caught up in this,” he added. “We are currently reaching out to their families to provide people with the support they need to try and comfort them at such a horrible moment.”


    Two adjacent freeways littered with debris and the shopping mall remained closed Tuesday night.



    I work in the grounds of essendon airport and this mornings accident has shaken me. I'm feeling very human, vulnerable and contemplative. I took this pic on my regular lunchtime walk and dfo is at the end of the runway., I'm about midpoint of the runway for this pic. If the plane had taken off in the other direction my office could have been hit. Each work day I walk along the side of the runway, past many of the plane mechanic sheds and past the fuel depot. This is so awful. #essendonfields #essendonairport #tragedy

    A post shared by Lisa (@lisashomegrown) on Feb 20, 2017 at 5:55pm PST



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    Uber Taps Eric Holder To Lead Investigation Into Sexual Harassment Claims

    Uber Taps Eric Holder To Lead Investigation Into Sexual Harassment Claims


    Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will lead Uber’s investigation into sexual harassment claims made by an ex-employee, the company told its workforce on Monday. In an email obtained by Reuters, The Guardian and other news organizations, Uber...

    Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will lead Uber’s investigation into sexual harassment claims made by an ex-employee, the company told its workforce on Monday. 


    In an email obtained by Reuters, The Guardian and other news organizations, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick told his employees that Holder will lead an “independent review” of the claims that former Uber engineer Susan Fowler made in her now-viral blog post, as well as broader diversity issues at the company. 


    “It is my number one priority that we come through this a better organization where we live our values and fight for and support those who experience injustice,” Kalanick wrote in the memo, according to The Guardian.


    Fowler, who wrote about the year she spent working at the ride-hailing company, described an office culture that permitted rampant sexual harassment and gender discrimination, and a human resources department that did little to protect her and her female colleagues.


    At one point, Fowler says, she was told she was on “thin ice” and in risk of being fired if she continued to report cases to HR. 


    “I reported his threat immediately after the meeting to both HR and to the CTO: they both admitted that this was illegal, but none of them did anything,” Fowler wrote.


    Holder will be joined by his colleague Tammy Albarran, who is also a partner at the law firm Covington & Burling. Kalanick also said Uber board member Arianna Huffington, as well as the company’s human resources chief, Liane Hornsey, and the company’s associate general counsel, Angela Padilla, will help conduct the internal review. 


    After reading Fowler’s blog, Kalanick responded in a statement to HuffPost, “What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in.”


    In his memo to employees, the Uber CEO said that women make up 15 percent of the company’s employees. Fowler said that just 3 percent of the engineers were women at the time she left.

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    STEELRAIN - Ep.23

    STEELRAIN - Ep.23


    Updated every TuesdayCopyright ⓒ 2015 RollingStory Inc. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a...





    Updated every Tuesday
    Copyright ⓒ 2015 RollingStory Inc.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

    Bill O'Reilly Says We Don't Have A Free Press Because It's Too Liberal

    Bill O'Reilly Says We Don't Have A Free Press Because It's Too Liberal


    Bill O’Reilly of Fox News defended President Donald Trump’s attacks on the press ― including calling the media the “enemy of the American people” ― by claiming that we don’t really have a free press anyway. “The Founding Fathers gave us...




    Bill O’Reilly of Fox News defended President Donald Trump’s attacks on the press ― including calling the media the “enemy of the American people” ― by claiming that we don’t really have a free press anyway. 


    “The Founding Fathers gave us specific freedoms so we could tell you how the people in power were behaving,” he said on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Monday night. “But when the press aligns itself with a political movement ― in this case, liberalism ― then it is no longer objective or free.”


    Of course, he exempted his own employer from that. 


    “Some believe that the Fox News Channel is not fair and free,” he said. “I dispute that, pointing to analysis of our on-air personnel. We put forth both sides.” 


    O’Reilly also insisted that he doesn’t have an agenda “other than an honest presentation.”


    He concluded that the American press must “ditch its outwardly liberal bent” in order to regain respect.  


    Check out the full segment above.  

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    How Living With IBD Helped Me Discover My Superpowers

    How Living With IBD Helped Me Discover My Superpowers


    If you had x-ray vision, what would you do with it? Look through walls and spy on your co-workers? Find your dog’s lost ball under the couch, or lazily peek through your fridge to see if you’re almost out of your favorite Greek yogurt? Or maybe, like...

    If you had x-ray vision, what would you do with it? Look through walls and spy on your co-workers? Find your dog’s lost ball under the couch, or lazily peek through your fridge to see if you’re almost out of your favorite Greek yogurt? Or maybe, like a traditional superhero, you would wander your town looking for clues behind the doors that no one can enter, and use your powers for the greater good.

    What if your x-ray vision allowed you to not just see through things, but to see the invisible? I was given that super power, in a way, because of my life with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

    As many patients know all too well, the difficulties associated with IBD are often invisible to others. It’s the hours when no one is around as you traverse from your couch to your bathroom; it’s the pain and fatigue that lurk in your body; it’s disappearing from your friends as you drive to the doctor’s office; and it’s the emotional pain too - the loneliness and isolation - when it feels like no one understands your experience.

    My journey with IBD dominated my college experience. I realized, during that time, that one of the most important tools I needed was support and understanding. It hit me one time, on a particularly symptom-ravaged day, that no one I knew understood my experience and my pain. No one knew what it was like to be me, living with a chronic disease. I needed those around me to use their x-ray vision and see the invisible illness inside of my body and mind.

    Slowly, I gained the power and confidence to allow people to see aspects of my disease and the effects they had on my life. I learned to be more open and vulnerable, allowing those around me to know about the painful and embarrassing aspects of my IBD experience. I learned to tell them about my daily life, my struggles, and how my disease changed me, sometimes for the better. To my surprise, letting people see the reality of my disease didn’t drive them away, and the more I learned to tell my story and make it visible, the more I built a strong support system around myself.

    The importance of telling my story while also being sensitive to the stories of those around me was not lost. I began to pay closer attention to small details of everyone’s experiences. I paid attention when they showed signs of tiredness or sadness, or even those of strength and pride. I looked through people’s exteriors and saw them not just for what was immediately visible, but as a complex person who lives a complex life, potentially with a disease like I do.

    I began asking others about their experiences, what they want others to know about their lives, and what they most need in terms of support. I wanted to know what they want to make visible to others. I grew my x-ray vision of empathy and awareness, because I know just how much it can matter.

    This is the superpower that IBD gave me and now I work to give everyone around me the same superpower. Together, we can influence the world and that’s not something in an alternate universe. It’s something we already have the power to do.

    To help reveal the true impact of IBD and highlight the strength and resilience of the patient community, Takeda launched IBD Unmasked, a global awareness initiative launched in the U.S. in partnership with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) and IBD community members. Join our community at IBDunmasked.com and together we can unmask the truth behind this incessant villain.

    Megan has ulcerative colitis (UC) and is one of the co-founders of The Great Bowel Movement (GBM), which aims to empower those with IBD “to embrace their disease, be proud of their experience, and spread awareness throughout their communities.” Megan is very interested in athletics and fitness, and takes on IBD with a mix of strength and humor. Building on her experiences facing even the toughest circumstances, Megan has worked to provide a voice to others, becoming a fearless force in the IBD community. She is a veteran participant of CCFA’s Team Challenge and Camp Oasis.

    Follow Megan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thegreatbm.

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    Swedish PM Accuses Trump Of Something That Sounds Like Fake News

    Swedish PM Accuses Trump Of Something That Sounds Like Fake News


    Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven didn’t use one of Donald Trump’s favorite phrases, “fake news,” when he scolded the president for his recent comments about Sweden. But he did say that leaders should “take responsibility for using facts...






    Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven didn’t use one of Donald Trump’s favorite phrases, “fake news,” when he scolded the president for his recent comments about Sweden. But he did say that leaders should “take responsibility for using facts correctly and verifying any information that we spread.”


    Former prime minister Carl Bildt also warned on a Swedish radio program that a president who “spreads lots of false rumors ... can be truly dangerous,” CBS News reported.


    Bildt later emailed The New York Times: “We are used to seeing the president of the U.S. as one of the most well-informed persons in the world, also well aware of the importance of what he says. And then, suddenly, we see him engaging in misinformation and slander against a truly friendly country, obviously relying on sources of a quality [Fox News] that at best could be described as dubious.”


    And Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom noted, “Unfortunately, we are seeing a general upward trend in inaccurate information.”


    All three were responding to Trump’s comment at a campaign-style rally Saturday in Florida that something had happened in Sweden the previous night as he spoke of European countries that had been hit by terrorist attacks: “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden! Who would believe this?”


    Twitter went crazy, and Bildt tweeted: “What has Trump been smoking?”


    There was no terrorist attack last Friday in Sweden. Trump later told a puzzled world that what was actually “happening” Friday night was that he was watching a Fox News program, apparently one featuring filmmaker Ami Horowitz (a former Huffington Post contributor), who believes that a purported increase in crime in Sweden is linked to an influx of refugees. 


    Lofven told reporters at a news conference in Stockholm on Monday that he was, “like many others, surprised by the comments made about Sweden,” reported Agence France-Presse.



    My statement as to what's happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2017


    Actually, Sweden’s crime rate has remained relatively flat since 2005, according to a Swedish crime survey. Early data released last month also revealed no significant increase in crimes from 2015 to 2016, The New York Times reported, even though Sweden accepted a record number of refugees (162,000) in 2015, more per capita than any other European nation.


    But Trump doubled down on his blunder and blamed the press again — this time for allegedly underplaying crime facts that the Swedish government is apparently unaware of. “The FAKE NEWS media is trying to say that large scale immigration in Sweden is working out just beautifully,” he tweeted Monday. “NOT!”



    Give the public a break - The FAKE NEWS media is trying to say that large scale immigration in Sweden is working out just beautifully. NOT!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2017


    Bildt tweeted some advice for Trump: “When you are in a hole, stop digging.



    Just a piece of friendly advice: when you are in a hole, stop digging.

    — Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) February 20, 2017


    The Swedes have offered to introduce the American president to the facts of the immigrant situation in the nation.



    We look forward to informing the US administration about Swedish immigration and integration policies. https://t.co/x5G3euOWRh

    — Embassy of Sweden US (@SwedeninUSA) February 19, 2017


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    Nothing Seemed To Stop Milo Yiannopoulos -- Until This

    Nothing Seemed To Stop Milo Yiannopoulos -- Until This


    A platform of hatred. A plethora of racist, misogynistic and transphobic remarks. But through it all, many stood by far-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos, often defending his right to free speech.Over the weekend, however, the Breitbart editor finally...






    A platform of hatred. A plethora of racist, misogynistic and transphobic remarks. But through it all, many stood by far-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos, often defending his right to free speech.


    Over the weekend, however, the Breitbart editor finally crossed what may have seemed a non-existent line, sending the American Conservative Union, publishing house Simon & Schuster and others who once supported him running. 


    The breaking point: defending pedophilia.


    Video surfaced Sunday in which Yiannopoulos appears to condone sexual relationships between adults and 13-year-old boys, saying, “We get hung up on this kind of child abuse stuff.”


    Despite a “note for idiots” on Facebook in which Yiannopoulos attempted to clarify what he said, and a subsequent post in which he took some responsibility for his comments, the fallout has been swift. 


    He was disinvited Monday from ACU’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference, where he was scheduled to speak along with Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and President Donald Trump’s strategist Steve Bannon. The group’s president, Matt Schlapp, said Yiannopoulos’s response on Facebook was “insufficient.” 


    Simon & Schuster announced later Monday that it had decided to cancel the publication of Yiannopoulos’ upcoming book, Dangerous.


    Among his other deserters was “alt-right” Twitter personality “Baked Alaska.”



    I am Milo's former manager.

    I have defended Milo for standing up for free speech on many occasions.

    Today, I cannot defend Milo anymore.

    — Baked Alaska™ (@bakedalaska) February 20, 2017



    Yiannopoulos’ offensive verbal assaults have been plentiful. Among the more memorable was a racist attack against “Saturday Night Live” and “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones, for which he was permanently banned from Twitter. 




    Violent protests this month shut down his planned appearance at the University of California, Berkeley, campus. 


    Unsurprisingly, many took to Twitter on Monday to blast the ACU and others, pointing out their willingness to ignore Yiannopoulos’ bigotry ― up to a certain point.




    @AdamRothberg @simonschuster @threshold_books so to clarify: racism and transphobia = worthy of a book contract. pedophilia = not?

    — Richard Lawler (@rjcc) February 20, 2017



    So the line is pedophilia. Everything else is okay.

    "CPAC boots Milo Yiannopoulos over pedophilia comments" https://t.co/Z3hUTJZCql pic.twitter.com/anUG4fBqxR

    — Peter Coffin (@petercoffin) February 20, 2017



    If it took this for you to consider Milo Yiannopoulos disgraceful, only you know why.

    — Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) February 20, 2017



    It's now established Milo Yiannopoulos is allowed to be sexist, transphobic, & anti-Muslim but the red line for prejudice is paedophilia.

    — Rori Donaghy (@roridonaghy) February 20, 2017



    So where are the free speech defenders of #MiloYiannopoulos NOW? So his vile crap was cool before. Now pedophilia is bad? #tcot

    — rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) February 20, 2017



    But now that #MiloYiannopoulos & his praise for pedophilia has come out, NOW y'all say he has crossed a line. So all else was fair? #tcot

    — rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) February 20, 2017



    My understanding from Twitter is that today is the day many new people came to the conclusion Milo Yiannopoulos is a real piece of shit.

    — John Scalzi (@scalzi) February 20, 2017



    The Milo Test: Anti-Semitism, ok. Racism, ok. Alt Right, ok. .Advocacy of pedophilia? Is THAT the bridge too far?

    — Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) February 20, 2017


    Yiannopoulos has scheduled a press conference Tuesday in New York City. 




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    Alex Trebek Raps His Way Through An Entire 'Jeopardy' Category

    Alex Trebek Raps His Way Through An Entire 'Jeopardy' Category


    How about Alex Trebek rapping on Jeopardy! tonight pic.twitter.com/MNy9CEkf1p— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) February 21, 2017Maybe “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek should start thinking about a new name for his burgeoning career in hip-hop. Dr. Tre showed...


    How about Alex Trebek rapping on Jeopardy! tonight pic.twitter.com/MNy9CEkf1p

    — Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) February 21, 2017


    Maybe “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek should start thinking about a new name for his burgeoning career in hip-hop. 


    Dr. Tre showed off his rapping skills again on Monday night’s “Jeopardy,” with a category called “Let’s Rap, Kids!” Each answer featured lyrics, and The Notorious A.L.E.X. didn’t simply read them. 


    Trebek, who has hosted the syndicated show since 1984, gamely rapped his way though each answer, which is something he’s been known to do on “Jeopardy” from time to time


    Check it out above.  


    Now, who’s ready to start remixing these?

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    When Trump Attacks The Press, He Is Attacking American Democracy

    When Trump Attacks The Press, He Is Attacking American Democracy


    The first month of Donald Trump’s presidency has effectively functioned as an infomercial for why he is an unmitigated disaster for the United States. Trying to figure out one strand of this administration’s insanity to examine is kind of like trying...


    The first month of Donald Trump’s presidency has effectively functioned as an infomercial for why he is an unmitigated disaster for the United States. Trying to figure out one strand of this administration’s insanity to examine is kind of like trying to isolate the carrot pieces in a bowl of vegetable soup. Everything else keeps flooding into your hands.


    Nevertheless, I’m going to give it a try. As a journalism professor, I have been especially terrified by Trump’s all-out attack on the press.


    To be clear, this is not based on some kind of survival instinct. I’m not sticking up for my “team,” which I know is the lens through which many Trump supporters see politics.


    No, the reason I’m terrified by Trump’s sustained attack on journalism is because it as an integral part of Trump’s plan to move toward an authoritarian government that grabs power from the other branches of government. As John McCain said over the weekend, attacking the press is “how dictators get started.”



    As John McCain said over the weekend, attacking the press is 'how dictators get started.'



    As such, Trump is undermining a central tenet of American democracy, which is based on a system of checks and balances that ensures that no one person or body can amass too much power and pose a threat to the freedom of Americans. The president has to sign Congress’s bills, Congress checks the president’s executive power, and the federal courts can overturn legislation and executive actions that violate the Constitution. We all learned this in middle school, although I’m not sure Trump was paying attention. American government is defined by its system of checks and balances.


    The press, going back to the time of the formation of the United States, has been viewed as playing an essential role in this balance of power as the “fourth estate,” reporting on the actions of government so that citizens have the knowledge to govern themselves, and exposing wrongdoing when members of the government overstep their power. As Thomas Jefferson famously said:


    Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

    So how does journalism’s fourth estate function operate in the Trump universe? Trump is trying to grab power the same way he was elected, via a campaign of fear. Trump has constructed a fake version of the United States, one that resembles a post-apocalyptic wasteland found in a science fiction movie. In the face of these threats ― of murderous Islamists and Mexican rapists flooding into the country, of voter fraud, of skyrocketing murder rates in cities, of nonexistent terrorist attacks ― Trump can claim, as he has, that he has virtually unfettered power to protect the country.


    In this sense, Trump is actually correct when he calls the press the enemy, as journalists, playing their role as the fourth estate, can report on the facts that conflict with the lies Trump has concocted to create the threats that underlie his claims to exercise unchallenged power. If the American people believe the press, they will push back against Trump’s authoritarian moves.


    By delegitimizing the press ― by calling factual reports he doesn’t like “fake news” or claiming the press are bad people out to get him ― he has successfully convinced a portion of the American people that the factual reports coming from journalists that challenge Trump’s constructed reality of alternative facts are not to be believed.


    Make no mistake, Trump is attempting to delegitimize every aspect of American democracy outside of the White House. So, rather than say he disagrees with a judge’s ruling on his executive order on immigration, he challenged the legitimacy of the federal court, decrying a “so-called judge.” When a Republican U.S. senator disagreed with the president’s assessment of a problematic raid in Yemen that killed multiple civilians, including children, the president attacked him. Trump has repeatedly made baseless claims of massive voter fraud, calling into question the voting system by which we elect our leaders, which is the basic foundation on which the power to govern rests in a democracy.


    And he is doing the same thing with the press, who are the last barrier between freedom and authoritarianism (as this cartoon depicts) and the ones that can debunk his invented threats from which he is seeking to consolidate nondemocratic power. (It is shocking to consider that Politifact has found 69 percent of Trump’s examined statements to be “mostly false,” “false” or “pants on fire,” while only 16 percent of the statements qualified as “true “ or “mostly true.” The remaining 15 percent were judged “half true.”)


    In this way, Trump’s attacks on journalistic outlets like CNN and the New York Times are nothing like his disputes with businesses like Nordstrom. Nordstrom might have taken some dollars out of his family’s pockets, but CNN and the New York Times can publicize the facts that conflict with Trump’s constructed alternative facts reality.


    The important thing to remember is, this is not politics as usual. This is something new, at least in recent history. During times of intense partisanship, George W. Bush and Barack Obama took actions that angered political opponents. But when these presidents lost in court, they didn’t attack the legitimacy of the court. They expressed disappointment and vowed to fight on through democratic practices.


    What Trump is doing marks a major change in the basic approach to governing. Trump isn’t engaged in partisan fighting. This is not a dirty, all-out political battle between Democrats and Republicans, like we’ve seen for, at the very least, the last 20 years.


    No, this president is taking the same steps authoritarian regimes around the world have engaged in to consolidate power.


    Which brings us right back to journalism. After all, if Trump lies, the press can easily report on the lies, relaying what was said and how the statements depart from established fact. The press can play its role as the fourth estate.


    However, if Trump delegitimizes the news media, if he calls factual journalism he disagrees with “fake news,” if he and his administration claim journalists are the “opposition party,” if he convinces his supporters that nothing the news media says about him is true, he can nullify the press’s role in American democracy. He can shape his own reality, in which he can do no wrong, and in which he is protecting American from the threats they should fear.


    Trump’s moves have not come out of nowhere. Republicans have played with these concepts for years as a way of motivating their base. They called judges unpatriotic “activist judges,” they called journalists the biased “liberal media,” and they made voter fraud claims they knew were false to engage in voter suppression of Democratic voters.


    The Republicans were playing a dangerous political game, but it was mostly a game. Trump has now taken the game and turned it into an actual governing philosophy. And his supporters, who didn’t know the Republicans were playing a game, are now primed and ready to believe that America is a failing wasteland under attack from outsiders, and Trump is the only one who can save us by being a “strong” ― code word for nondemocratic authoritarian ― leader.


    Trump wants you to be afraid. And he’s right, but what you should be afraid of is him.


    History tells us we have to fight back against authoritarian impulses. After the U.S. entered World War I, Woodrow Wilson and Congress used the conflict to take away the rights of Americans. As historian Stephen Vaughn wrote:


    “[I]n the United States during 1917-18 nearly every right guaranteed under the Constitution was either abridged or nullified, especially freedom of the press and freedom of speech.”


    That was only 100 years ago.


    More recently, in 1931, the president of Columbia University said in a public speech that there are two ways to choose leaders: elections and dictatorship, and dictatorship


    appears to bring into authority and power men of far greater intelligence, far stronger character and far more courage than does the system of election.

    Fortunately, World War II showed the value of democracy over authoritarianism.


    So it’s time for all Americans who believe in democracy ― Democrats and Republicans, progressives and conservatives ― to speak out against Trump’s attack on journalism. Republicans who think they can use Trump to enact their long-sought-after policy victories are putting ideology before country.


    Tell your elected officials they have to stand on the side of democracy. It shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Opposing authoritarianism should be one thing Democrats and Republicans can agree on.


    If people speak out, our free press will be there to accurately and fairly write all about it. And journalists will be able to investigate the rest of the troubling words and actions of the Trump administration. At least for now. With Trump as president, the future of journalism ― and our democracy ― is about as clear as vegetable soup. And that should terrify every American.

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    Rocky Starts In Presidential History

    Rocky Starts In Presidential History


    Since it is Presidents’ Day (or whatever else you call today, apostrophized or not), I thought I’d take it easy on our current president, and take a break from the regular ridicule I’ve been heaping upon him since he was sworn in. Today’s...


    Since it is Presidents’ Day (or whatever else you call today, apostrophized or not), I thought I’d take it easy on our current president, and take a break from the regular ridicule I’ve been heaping upon him since he was sworn in. Today’s supposed to be a noble holiday, after all, so I thought I’d make an extra effort at evenhandedness, and take a look back through history at some of the rocky starts various American presidents have had on the job.


    Donald Trump has unquestionably had a rocky start. But he certainly hasn’t faced the worst rocky start of any president in history, not by a long shot. Abraham Lincoln wins this honor hands-down, since the crisis started before he was even sworn in. Between Lincoln’s Election Day and his Inauguration Day, seven Southern states seceded from the Union. Lincoln was sworn in on March 4, 1861, and five weeks later Fort Sumter happened, officially kicking off the Civil War. One certainly hopes that no other United States president ever has such a rocky start to his or her term, that’s for sure.


    The worst presidential start in history (on a more personal level) is also a fate I’d wish on no other. William Henry Harrison, America’s ninth president, died 31 days after being sworn into office. Harrison holds two notable records in the field of American presidential history, as his was not only the shortest term in office (unless you count the strange case of “President for a day” David Rice Atchison, which most do not), he also gave the longest inauguration speech in American history ― almost 8,500 words long ― which took him roughly two hours to orate. Also, Harrison delivered this monstrously-long speech wearing neither overcoat nor hat, even though it was a cold and wet day ― which might just have contributed to his death from pneumonia a month later.


    Less-tragic (but still shocking), Ronald Reagan didn’t die while in office, but he did survive an assassination attempt only 69 days after being sworn in ― which pushed his approval rating to a high point, as the country rallied around their wounded leader.


    Other tragic deaths in office have led to vice presidents being thrust into the presidency unexpectedly, and some of them have had rather noteworthy beginnings to their presidencies. The most stressful new presidency of this type we’ve ever seen was quite likely Harry Truman’s. The nation was in shock over the unexpected death of the beloved F.D.R. in April of 1945, and Truman got an early boost from the victory over the Nazis in Europe (V.E. Day happened on May 8, 1945). But by the beginning of August, Truman had to make one of the toughest decisions a president has ever had to ― whether to drop atomic bombs on Japan or not. Truman had been kept in the dark about even the existence of the Manhattan Project while he was vice president, it’s also worth noting.


    Sometimes the first days of a new president didn’t hinge on external events, but from deliberate bold actions. Roughly a month after Teddy Roosevelt assumed office (after the assassination of William McKinley), he invited Booker T. Washington to the White House. This was the first time a sitting president had invited an African-American in such a fashion, so it was a provocative action to many. Roosevelt went on to grasp the reins of the presidency with vigor, and when he was done he had issued 1,081 executive orders ― almost matching the combined total (1,262) of every president who had come before him. The most prolific president previously had been Grover Cleveland, who issued 253 executive orders of his own.


    Dwight D. Eisenhower spent much of the time during his early days in office ending the Korean War. He took a trip to the war zone in November of 1952, while still only president-elect. By July of 1953, an armistice was in place. When Ike left office, he also left a planned invasion of Cuba on the drawing board, which turned out to be a disaster for J.F.K.’s first days in office. The Bay of Pigs happened in April of Kennedy’s first year in office.


    Trump likes to compare himself to Andrew Jackson, who faced a personal tragedy of his own before assuming office. Between his election and his inauguration, Jackson’s wife died. The election of 1828 was one of the most vicious in all of American history, complete with charges that Jackson married her before she was divorced from her previous husband. Jackson took such things personally, and he bitterly charged his political opponents with the responsibility for her death. As a result of Rachel Jackson’s death, his extended family became very important to him while in office.


    This isn’t a direct parallel with Trump’s son-in-law or his daughter, but the historical comparison is interesting. Andrew Jackson relied heavily upon the advice of an unofficial “kitchen cabinet” during his presidency, which included not only members of the partisan media (pro-Jackson newspaper editors), but also one of his closest and most-trusted advisors ― his adopted son Andrew Jackson Donelson, who was also his nephew by marriage (Donelson was Jackson’s wife’s sister’s son ― who, after his father died and his mother remarried, moved in with and was adopted by the Jacksons). Donelson also moved into the White House when Jackson did, and Donelson’s wife then served as the White House’s hostess (since Rachel Jackson had died, there was no First Lady).


    Jackson went on to fire his entire official cabinet, in what became known as the “Petticoat Affair,” because their wives (led by John C. Calhoun’s wife Floride) were socially snubbing the wife of his War Secretary ― the only time (so far) that an entire cabinet has been dismissed en masse by any president. Having the shortest National Security Advisor in history doesn’t even really come close. Of course, I wouldn’t put it past Trump to fire his whole cabinet at some point over some petty issue ― and I wouldn’t even be surprised if it was because a member of his family was treated badly on the social scene; but then I’m supposed to be giving Trump a break today, so I’ll just stop speculating about historical parallels altogether.


    Presidents often stumble during their first few months in office, and a lot of these stumbles are later either forgiven or almost completely forgotten, especially if the rest of the president’s term works out well. For instance, Bill Clinton had the “Travelgate” scandal in May, 1993 (during his first year in office), but few remember it now. Clinton had other stumbles right out of the gate as well. He had made a campaign promise to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military if elected, and did consider immediately implementing it but was counseled to take things much slower. By December of his first year in office, he unveiled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue” (later shortened by one “don’t,” to make it easier to say). For the time it was a fairly bold move towards full acceptance, but it was also nothing short of a stop-gap compromise ― not what he had initially promised at all.


    Barack Obama took office during the second-worst economic crisis in the last 100 years, and due to winning such large majorities in Congress, he was able to get both his stimulus bill and the Lily Ledbetter Act signed during his first month in office. The public’s sense of panic and fear cannot be overstated before Obama took office, as America was losing 750,000 jobs per month. But by the end of his first year in office, the economic tide had begun to turn, although the recovery took much longer than anyone had anticipated. Obama’s first six months in office were some of the most productive he’d ever see, though, as Republican resistance to his agenda began to solidify harder than cement. To give just one example, Obama boldly issued an order to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during his first days in office, but he never actually achieved this goal in his two full terms. Not all of those early decisive moves work out all the time, in other words.


    Of course, the whole notion that the “first 100 days” in office should be a new president’s most meaningful comes from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first few months as president. This was the first time the “100 days” term was used in American politics ― it previously had referred to Napoleon’s last days of glory, from the time he escaped exile on Elba to his ultimate defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.


    F.D.R. inherited the Great Depression, which had already dragged on for years. He also entered office with sky-high expectations from the public. Two days after being sworn in, he closed the entire U.S. banking system. Three days later, Congress acted to pass federal deposit insurance, to restore confidence in banks. The night before the banks would reopen, F.D.R. gave the first of his “fireside chat” radio addresses. Within two weeks, half the money people had been stuffing in their mattresses (to avoid their savings being wiped out in all the bank failures which had been happening) was re-deposited in the banking system, averting total collapse. Roosevelt went on to enact as much of his “New Deal” as fast as he possibly could. He created many of his “alphabet soup” of new federal agencies in his first 100 days, including the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Tennessee Valley Authority.


    Hopefully, no other president will ever match the frenetic pace of F.D.R.’s first 100 days. I say “hopefully” because I do sincerely hope no other president will ever have to. The only president to take office in a worse situation for the country was Lincoln, after all. Roosevelt certainly didn’t solve all the nation’s problems overnight (or as fast as the banking crisis), but he sure tried his hardest to do so, in as many ways as he could possibly think up.


    I guess my conclusion here would be that while nobody’s ever going to live up to F.D.R.’s first 100 days, a lot of the focus on the first days any president spends in office isn’t really reflective of their overall performance. Sometimes it is, but oftentimes it just doesn’t work out that way ― for better or for worse. Sometimes a president stumbles early, but then later recovers. Sometimes nothing much happens at the start, but then a president proves his mettle later on. I have no idea how the rest of the Trump presidency is going to play out, but it’s something to keep in mind after his first month in office, at least.


     


    Chris Weigant blogs at:



    Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


     

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    Vandals Cause Extensive Damage At Jewish Cemetery In St. Louis

    Vandals Cause Extensive Damage At Jewish Cemetery In St. Louis


    Vandals in the St. Louis area have caused extensive damage to a Jewish cemetery in University City.Numerous headstones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery were toppled this weekend, among other damage, police said. Cemetery employees discovered the damage...




    Vandals in the St. Louis area have caused extensive damage to a Jewish cemetery in University City.


    Numerous headstones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery were toppled this weekend, among other damage, police said. Cemetery employees discovered the damage Monday morning. 


    Fox2 St. Louis reporter Andy Banker said he counted at least 100 toppled headstones when he walked through the cemetery, which was established by a group of Jewish immigrants from Russia in 1893.



    Appears hundreds of graves vandalized at #STL Jewish cemetery. Damage is extensive. @andybankertv live report on @KPLR11 and @FOX2now at 5p pic.twitter.com/wneuIpl5MY

    — Joe Lamie (@GIJoter) February 20, 2017


    ”Numerous plots were damaged and [headstones were] pushed over,” Lt. Fredrick Lemons of the University City Police Department told The Huffington Post. 


    Lemons declined to comment on the possibility of the vandalism being classified as a hate crime. “Right now, everything is under investigation,” Lemons said. “We’re looking into all possible leads.”


    Police say they’re reviewing security camera footage from the cemetery and surrounding businesses.


    The damage is the latest in a string of anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred nationally since Donald Trump began his campaign. On Monday alone, 11 Jewish community centers across the country received threatening phone calls and bomb threats, forcing closures and evacuations. Since the beginning of the year, there have been such 67 incidents in 27 states and one Canadian province, according to Marla Cohen, communications manager for the Jewish Community Center Association. 


    As HuffPost’s Matt Ferner reported Monday




    The far-right has become emboldened under Trump, and while the number of Americans who directly support hardened hate groups remains far lower than in earlier decades, the number of hate groups in America is rising, according to a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate and extremism around the nation.


    Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at SPLC, said that this series of bomb threats since the new year is “unprecedented.”


    “I’ve been working at SPLC since 1999. I’ve never seen a string of attacks like this that are targeting the same kind of institution in the same kind of way. This is new,” Beirich said. 




    Trump has mostly shrugged off questions about anti-Semitism. He ignored a question about it last week during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, discussing his margin of victory in the election instead, and cut off a Jewish journalist in a press conference the next day before he could ask a question about the issue.


    In a statement to NBC’s Peter Alexander on Monday, the White House press secretary said the threats made against Jewish community centers were “unacceptable,” but made no reference to anti-Semitism.



    BREAKING: @PressSec responds to my request for comment about wave of threats to Jewish community centers. @NBCNews pic.twitter.com/2Yq9atnAmt

    — Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) February 20, 2017

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