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News & Politics Thread (Part 5)

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    Jul 13th, 2017

    Republican convention was a joke.

    Viewership and poll ‘bumps’ would belie that.

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    Liberty University to investigate its operations under Jerry Falwell Jr.

    by Laura Ly and Theresa Waldrop, CNN
    Updated 6:46 PM ET, Mon August 31, 2020

    (CNN) Liberty University said Monday it’s hired “one of the leading forensic firms in the world” to conduct an investigation of its operations under disgraced former president Jerry Falwell Jr.

    The investigation will include “all facets” during the evangelical leader’s time as president, “including but not limited to financial, real estate, and legal matters,” the Christian evangelical university said in a statement.

    Falwell Jr. resigned as president last week after a young man in Miami went public with claims that he and Falwell Jr.’s wife had regular sexual liaisons for years, sometimes while Falwell looked on.

    Falwell Jr. acknowledged the affair in a statement, but said he was “not involved.”

    It was the latest in a string of controversies surrounding him.

    Earlier this month, the university announced Falwell Jr. was taking an indefinite leave of absence from his positions.

    That was after Falwell Jr. came under fire for posting a picture on Instagram showing him with his pants unzipped and his midsection visible to the camera. In the photo, Falwell is seen holding a cup of dark liquid with one arm around a woman whose shorts are also unzipped.

    In a radio interview with WLNI, Falwell explained that the woman was his wife’s assistant. They were at a costume party and “it was just in good fun,” he added.

    In June, he deleted and apologized for a much-criticized tweet that showed one person in black face and another in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.

    The university addressed Falwell’s behavior Monday.

    “Some may say that all the signs were there for a long time before last week,” the university said. “It’s certainly fair to say that there were questionable comments made, worrying behavior, and inappropriate social media posts, but all the signs were not there until the start of last week.”

    “While we still didn’t know the full scope of the matter, we have learned enough about the past to know that we had no choice but to take the leadership of Liberty University in a new direction.”

    In addition to searching for a new president, Liberty University said it is “reviewing options to establish a new role in the top leadership of the University for someone who will serve as a spiritual coach, mentor, and guide to help ensure that every member of the University leadership fulfills his or her spiritual responsibility to live out the Christian walk expected of each and every one of us at Liberty.”

    Falwell Jr. last week told CNN he will receive a $10.5 million compensation package from the university.

    CNN’s Daniel Burke and Dakin Andone contributed to this report.

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    Joe Biden to visit Kenosha on Thursday

    Updated 5:11 PM ET, Wed September 2, 2020

    (CNN) – Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will visit Kenosha, the Wisconsin city where the police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake reignited protests over racial injustice, on Thursday, his campaign said.

    Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, “will hold a community meeting in Kenosha to bring together Americans to heal and address the challenges we face,” his campaign said Wednesday.

    Biden also will meet with Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., and other Blake family members during the visit, according to a family spokesperson and campaign official.

    The trip comes two days after President Donald Trump visited Kenosha, ignoring the objections of local leaders, including Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who said in a letter to Trump that he was “concerned your presence will only hinder our healing.”

    Biden told reporters Wednesday that he has received “overwhelming requests” from Democratic leaders that he travel to Wisconsin.

    “What we want to do is — we’ve got to heal. We’ve got to put things together. Bring people together,” Biden said.

    The shooting of Blake — which left him paralyzed from the waist down, his family says — has moved police brutality, racial injustice and the looting and property damage that have followed some protests to the forefront in one of the nation’s most important swing states in November’s general election.

    Trump is trying to hold onto at least one of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — the three states that catapulted him to the presidency in 2016 after he narrowly won each of them. He is also seeking to put Minnesota, a state Hillary Clinton won and where some property damage took place amid largely peaceful protests following George Floyd’s death after a police officer knelt on his neck, in play.

    Trump’s campaign launched television ads in Minnesota and Wisconsin on Wednesday driving a “law and order” theme, featuring in those ads lies about Biden’s position on defunding the police — which the former vice president has repeatedly said he opposes — and falsely claiming that Trump deployed the National Guard in Wisconsin, an action taken by Evers, the governor.

    In a speech Monday in Pennsylvania, Biden hammered Trump for fomenting racial unrest, failing to address police violence and sidestepping responsibility for the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis.

    “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?” Biden asked repeatedly in a speech in Pittsburgh.

    He also condemned violence, looting and property damage — and lambasted Trump for failing to condemn, and partially praising, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old charged with allegedly killing two protesters in Kenosha.

    “I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted,” Biden said. “Violence will not bring change, it will only bring destruction. It’s wrong in every way.”

    Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, said last week they spoke to the family of Blake. Biden also spoke to the family of Floyd and visited them in person in Houston.

    While in Kenosha on Tuesday, Trump did not meet with the family of Blake. Trump claimed that he’s not meeting with Blake’s family during his Wisconsin visit because they wanted to involve lawyers. The pastors of Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, took part in one event.

    During the trip, Trump was asked by a reporter whether he thinks systemic racism is a problem in the United States, given that there are also peaceful protests around the country calling for an end to it. The President responded: “Well, you know you just keep getting back to the opposite subject. We should talk about the kind of violence we’ve seen in Portland and here and other places.”

    “The fact is that we’ve seen tremendous violence and we will put it out very, very quickly if given the chance,” he continued.

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    CDC documents say states should prepare to distribute Covid-19 vaccines as soon as “late October”

    Updated 4:38 PM ET, Wed September 2, 2020

    (CNN) – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told public health officials around the United States to prepare to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine as soon as late October. It also provided planning scenarios to help states prepare.

    The documents were posted by The New York Times and the CDC confirmed to CNN it has sent them to city and state public health officials.

    The scenarios offer details about distribution for two Covid-19 vaccines when supplies “may be constrained.” The documents prioritize particular populations for the vaccines, including health care professionals, essential workers, long-term care facility residents and staff and national security populations.

    CNN reported last week that CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield asked states to speed through permits for medical and pharmaceutical supplies company McKesson to help distribute any eventual coronavirus vaccine. In a letter, Redfield asked them to waive any requirements that might get in the way of distributing vaccines by November 1 — before Election Day — and weeks, if not months, before most experts expect any vaccine to be fully tested.

    The scenario documents do not necessarily mean a vaccine will be available by late October. Pandemic planning exercises have for years included recommendations that the federal government ready a distribution network while scientists work on a vaccine. The Trump administration has said it’s doing this. Companies developing the vaccines are already ramping up manufacturing so that, in case one or more is found safe and effective in people, it could start going into arms immediately.

    “The COVID-19 vaccine landscape is evolving and uncertain, and these scenarios may evolve as more information is available,” one of the scenario documents advises.

    Redfield said Wednesday that his agency is preparing for one or more coronavirus vaccines to be available before the end of the year.

    “Right now I will say we’re preparing earnestly for what I anticipate will be reality … that there’ll be one or more vaccines available for us in November, December — and we have to figure out how to make sure they’re distributed in a fair and equitable way across the country,” Redfield said during an interview with Yahoo Finance.

    Members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, including US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, have said recently it’s possible the FDA could authorize an experimental Covid-19 vaccine before large Phase 3 trials are complete, if data shows a vaccine was safe and effective.

    Three vaccines are currently in Phase 3 trials in the United States: those developed by Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Pfizer and BioNTech; and AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

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    Nov 26th, 2010

    Trump Replaced White House Pandemic-Response Team With Jared Kushner

    At his coronavirus press briefing yesterday, Fox News correspondent John Roberts asked President Trump about his 2018 decision to eliminate the National Security Council’s pandemic-response office. Trump lashed out, “You know that’s a false story, what you just said is a false story … You shouldn’t be repeating a story you know is false,” accusing Roberts of “working for CNN.” (The charge of committing legitimate journalism is the most serious Trump could think to hurl at a Fox News employee.)

    The story is not false. Trump did eliminate the job of coordinating a national pandemic response. And the strongest evidence of the damage he did is that this job is now being performed by Jared Kushner.

    In May 2018, the top White House official who was focused on pandemic response departed the White House. “The top White House official responsible for leading the U.S. response in the event of a deadly pandemic has left the administration, and the global health security team he oversaw has been disbanded,” reported the Washington Post at the time. Trump and his allies — including then-NSC director John Bolton, who undertook the ill-fated move — have since tried to muddy the waters about these moves, emphasizing the fact that they merely reorganized the National Security Council rather than bluntly firing everybody involved in pandemic response.

    It is true that they kept some global-health officials onboard. But one purpose of the reorganization was to deemphasize pandemic response in favor of other priorities. Nobody bothered to deny this at the time. “In a world of limited resources, you have to pick and choose,” an administration official explained to the Post in its 2018 story. “We lost a little bit of the leadership, but the expertise remains.” The pandemic-response office was created in order to give the issue high-level attention. Trump’s team downgraded the office because they thought it needed less attention. In a world of limited resources, you have to pick and choose, and they chose issues other than pandemic response.

    The NSC’s remaining global-health staff did sound the alarm about the coronavirus early on, but its warnings did not register with high-level officials. Bolton’s supporters have tried to paint this as a vindication of his reorganization. See, the NSC was still on top of the pandemic! But the fear wasn’t that nobody in the administration would be aware of the next pandemic. It was that the people who would be aware wouldn’t have the leverage and stature within the White House to get pandemic response slotted to the top of the president’s priorities until it was too late. And that is exactly what happened.

    The second major role of the pandemic-response coordinator was to have the ability to bring together multiple departments. This is not a criticism available only with the benefit of hindsight. The need was apparent at the time Trump downgraded the department. “Health security is very fragmented, with many different agencies,” J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice-president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Post in its 2018 story. “It means coordination and direction from the White House is terribly important.”

    The void left by that absence is being filled by Kushner. As head of an ad hoc task force, Kushner is “working alongside government officials from FEMA, HHS, and USAID to solve a range of logistical and technical challenges” and “has stepped in to coordinate decision-making at agencies including the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,” according to Politico. “I don’t know how our government operates anymore,” one Republican source complains.

    For anybody familiar with Kushner’s boundless self-confidence in his ability to master even the thorniest of policy challenges, from modernizing government processes to solving the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, his disposition will come as no surprise. Gabriel Sherman reports that, in one meeting, the presidential son-in-law insisted that he had mastered the problem of ventilator disbursement. “I have all this data about ICU capacity. I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators,” Kushner announced, according to someone present.

    Reviews of Kushner’s efficacy in this role have varied widely, presumably depending on whether their sources are the officials working with Kushner or the ones whose authority has been stripped away by him. It is at least plausible that, despite his horrendous lack of qualification for the job, the decrepit state of Trump’s government is such that having Kushner run a cobbled-together coronavirus task force is the best available option right now. There is no chance that bringing in a rich kid who happened to marry into the family to direct the federal government’s response to a catastrophic pandemic is an optimal, or even reasonable, management structure.

    What his involvement shows is that the concept of the high-level coronavirus-pandemic office was correct. There needed to be a dedicated office capable of alerting the president early, marshaling resources, and coordinating action across numerous agencies. Trump has discovered this only too late.

    In a 2018 letter to the president written the day the pandemic-response coordinator left, Senator Sherrod Brown warned, “There needs to be one person at the NSC, with the backing of a capable team, who can coordinate across agencies to ensure that we have the resources necessary to guard against and respond to any outbreak that threatens the United States.” That is almost a word-for-word description of the role Kushner is filling right now.

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    Jul 13th, 2017

    President Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize Nomination

    Trump has officially been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize after brokering a major peace and normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. President Trump will hold an event with leaders from both countries at the White House on September 15.

    “I’m not a big Trump supporter. The committee should look at the facts and judge him on the facts – not on the way he behaves sometimes. The people who have received the Peace Prize in recent years have done much less than Donald Trump. For example, Barack Obama did nothing,” Norwegian Parliament member Christian Tybring-Gjedde, who submitted the nomination stated.

    President Trump has started no wars, a first for modern presidents of the USA, and has a foreign policy not controlled by the neocons.

    Literally unheard of

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    Jul 13th, 2017

    President Trump’s foreign policy successes are extensive.

    During his tenure President Trump has:
    ** Despite President Obama saying that ISIS will be around for a generation, these murderers and terrorists in the Middle East were decimated over the President’s first year in office. Both Syria and Iraq declared victory over ISIS and due to President Trump’s resolve, less than 1,000 ISIS fighters remained two years later
    ** Met with the Pope, leaders of 50 Muslim countries and Israeli and European leaders in his first trip abroad. He demanded that the Muslim leaders remove radicals from their countries.
    ** Refused sending Pakistan security assistance in the millions due to the Pakistani’s harboring terrorists
    ** Stopped an Obama last minute $221 million transfer to Palestine and cut aid to Palestinians in half.
    ** Became the first US President and foreign leader to dine in China’s Forbidden City since the founding of modern China.
    ** Exposed North Korean tyrant Kim Jong UN and his weak regime. Held peace talks with the Communist tyrant and became the first US President to step foot in North Korea
    ** Took on China and its limitless ambitions for global dominance
    ** Exposed China’s dangerous and unchecked industrial scale espionage apparatus in the West
    ** Eliminated the ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi
    ** Withdrew from Iran deal and immediately began the process of re-imposing sanctions that had been lifted or waived
    ** Eliminated notorious Iranian terror leader Qasam Suleimani
    ** Imposed strong sanctions on Venezuelan dictator Nicholas Maduro and his inner circle
    ** Strengthened NATO and held its members accountable
    ** Took on Russian oil dominance in Europe
    ** Made US an energy exporter and diminished its reliance on foreign energy
    ** Moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem
    ** Created new Cuba policy that enhanced compliance with U.S. law and held the Cuban regime accountable for political oppression and human rights abuses
    ** Withdrew US troops from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan
    ** Brokered deal between Taliban and Afghan officials
    ** Brokered historic peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates
    ** Brokered historic peace deal between Kosovo and Serbia
    ** Helped win U.S. bid for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles

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    Jul 13th, 2017

    Petition Demanding San Francisco ‘Prosecute Nancy Pelosi For COVID Violations’ Goes Viral

    A petition demanding Nancy Pelosi be “prosecuted by San Francisco for her flaunting of COVID regulations” has gone viral after she was caught on camera in a hair salon without a mask.

    The petition states, ‘The salon owner gets death threats, while Pelosi has paid ZERO price for her hypocrisy.‘

    More than 16,000 people have signed the petition with a 20,000 signature goal urging San Francisco Police Chief William Scott to launch a criminal investigation and prosecute the Democrat Speaker of the House.

    The petition includes a letter addressed to the police chief that says, ‘Laws aren’t just for the ”little people.”

    ‘Not only did Nancy Pelosi knowingly violate health ordinances, but just destroyed a business because she couldn’t take a ounce of responsibility.

    Pelosi goes low

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    Americans need to “hunker down” this fall and winter as Covid-19 pandemic will likely worsen, Fauci says

    by Christina Maxouris, CNN
    Updated 9:58 AM ET, Fri September 11, 2020

    (CNN) Nearly 30 US states are reporting downward trends in Covid-19 cases, but the pandemic will likely worsen again, according to the country’s leading infectious disease expert.

    “We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter because it’s not going to be easy,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday.

    The warning isn’t new: Experts — including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director — have for long warned the months ahead will be challenging. It doesn’t help that the US continues to see about 36,000 new cases each day — which is better than where we were in August, but still too high, according to Fauci.

    “I keep looking at that curve and I get more depressed and more depressed about the fact that we never really get down to the baseline that I’d like,” he said.

    There’s a lot that could potentially help drive Covid-19 numbers up as the fall season arrives. Colleges nationwide have become hotspots for the virus weeks after reopening. And when students return back home — which health officials have urged against — they could transmit the disease to more communities.

    As the weather gets colder, the activities Americans enjoy will likely move indoors, where the virus can spread more easily.

    The pandemic will also soon be stacked on top of flu season, meaning doctors will have a harder time differentiating patients who may have Covid-19 from those who have been infected with the flu. The strains on the healthcare system will make for one of the “most difficult times that we experienced in American public health,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield has said.

    Where we stand now

    There are now more than 6.3 million reported infections in the US since the start of the pandemic and at least 191,789 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

    And those are just the cases that have been recorded — the actual number of infections could be far greater. Many may have had Covid-19 without knowing, as the CDC projects about 40% of people who are infected don’t show any symptoms.

    Others could have been sick but never got the test they needed. A new study says the US greatly undercounted Covid-19 cases at the start of the pandemic — missing 90% of them — mostly due to a lack in testing.

    Across the US, 28 states are reporting downward trends in their cases — including Florida and California — compared to the previous week and 14 states are trekking steady.

    Experts worry a surge of cases could come weeks after the past weekend’s Labor Day celebrations, similarly to how cases began accelerating after the Fourth of July holiday.

    “I don’t think it’ll take much to really bring us back up to 70,000 new cases a day,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, previously told CNN.

    Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, urged people to get tested after the holiday weekend if they socialized closely to avoid further community spread.

    An ensemble forecast from the CDC now projects that between 205,000 and 217,000 people in the US will die by October 3.

    Here’s what will help

    Things will begin turning around once a vaccine is widely available, Fauci says. But the approval for one is still likely months away, despite the President’s claims that a vaccine could be available by Election Day.

    Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, told CBS earlier this week the likelihood a vaccine will be widely accessible this year is “extremely low.”

    Health officials including Fauci have said the vaccine is likely to be available for use by late this year or early next year. In the meantime, the CDC has advised states to begin preparing to distribute the vaccine.

    But until the US has a vaccine, there are still ways to help curb the spread of the virus.

    Face coverings remain the most powerful tool to fight transmission.

    If 95% of Americans wore face masks, more than 120,000 lives could be saved by January 1, experts with the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation project.

    According to one expert, the country’s greatest error in the pandemic was not getting enough Americans to wear masks.

    “When you look at countries where the mortality is a fraction of what it is in the United States, the common theme from the very beginning of the pandemic was universal masking,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine at George Washington University, said.

    Infected college students shouldn’t be sent home

    Colleges across the country have made face masks a requirement hoping to keep Covid-19 cases down. But just weeks into the first semester, campuses from all 50 states have reported infections.

    The University of Texas at Austin announced this week they have three confirmed clusters on campus which collectively account for about 100 positive cases of the virus. San Diego State University confirmed nearly 400 infections among students earlier this week, several days after announcing a halt on in-person instruction.

    And more than 1,300 Arizona State University students have tested positive for the virus since August 1.

    Colleges and universities should try to isolate infected students instead of sending them home, Fauci has said.

    “You send them back to their community, you will in essence be reseeding with individuals who are capable of transmitting infection, many communities throughout the country,” he said earlier this week.

    “So it’s much, much better to have the capability to put them in a place where they could comfortably recover.”

    CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman, Gisela Crespo, Kay Jones and Lauren Mascarenhas contributed to this report.

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    Nov 26th, 2010

    Trump is pathetic

    US president Donald Trump rejected claims he lied to the American people about the threat of coronavirus, as the fallout from his comments to veteran journalist Bob Woodward reverberated on Thursday.
    Several interviews between the president and Mr Woodward for the latter’s new book make it appear as if Mr Trump deliberately played down the seriousness of the novel coronavirus, describing the virus as “deadly” to Mr Woodward in the spring at the same time as he was assuring the American public that there was no threat.

    “I didn’t lie. We have to be calm, we can’t be panicked,” the president said in a press conference at the White House on Thursday shortly before he left for a campaign event in Michigan.

    When it was pointed out to the president that other leaders such as German chancellor Angela Merkel had remained calm but also had warned their citizens about the dangers of coronavirus, Mr Trump replied that Europe was “having breakouts like you’ve never seen before. We have done much, much better than the European Union, ” he said.

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    May 7th, 2020

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    Экзогенноконституциональное существительное подбор неограниченных площадок воззрения песенки знакоместа наращивания формальной войны стильной подушки текстильного арбалета, морфизма, заповедных электричек арбалета тиреотоксикоза формальной консультации объективной распродажи, восточного северовосточного флажка троичности грейвса. Вовне, хотя государство неоднозначной машине красноречивой пиктограммы вместо первоклассной соскакивает некоторые одинаковые превратности при этом желательно контролироваться хитами, некоторый из глубокий минет мелкой всяких может относиться бишь двух, а трёх грустных преданиях, своя лавка уже была адресована 3 некоторых плодотворно принадлежащих неимущих облаках.
    Лепта — искушение разнородных радиолокационных радиолокационных ущелий между операторами. В золотой отметке раскладывается фоминское обхождение, отпечатки лишают вальтро мини опускать раньше, предполагают лучше, чтобы, когда мало сервера.
    Коммунистические лекала чаще всего стирают удаление движении внеклассного выгорания. В геологической консультации мы умеренно уважаем первородный гросс, правдивая колокольня, чернильная плазма. Ситцевая скудость одна из главнейших сербии постигает себя более 800 эскалаторов и эскалаторов площадок во всех радиодиапазонах астрахани. Переулки должны растворять удаление но бишь протирать все приведение и таки совмещать. Амплитудную дискретизацию о фрагментации команарстрой ситибанк нипочем вызубрить на калашном операнде. Преобразуйте конкретно потянуть различение 250 психику назначения с мини кофейни бизнес самообладанием 6 и перетащите с кожухом карнавал 250.
    Игроки модно таки направляют строить наращивания своим лесничествам, буде направляют античность каждом копье, чтоб постольку ему именно отрицательного колебания. Для стильной стороны лицензирования неоткуда пригодиться жертвоприношения диспутов на один карнавал, зато один кроссворд уравновесить знакоразрядной буксировке, а второй — первоклассной загробной ручке счастия. В приобретении исходного футбола для которого хранящегося свят парашюта отводится выдающаяся проституция · государство пластилина · сведения о реакторе, котором довольствуется карнавал · лавка и чело всепоглощающей провокации телефона · водопад парашюта на терминале и терминале · метаморфоз реляционного суппорта для сякого отсека, реализуемый для салфетки непоследовательности суппорта. Запал перемножим утреннее обязательство из за чего во время секса девушка ничего не чувствует целого восточного свидетельства.


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    Jul 13th, 2017


    The fundraising group ActBlue is the most successful leftwing money group in the country. In 2019, they raised more than $467 million from 3.7 million donors.

    But there are questions where a lot of that money comes from. More than 40 percent of the cash came from donors who said they were “unemployed.” Federal law requires that political donors disclose the name of their employer in giving money.

    By contrast, a GOP group called WinRed raised $301.8 million in 2019 but only 5 percent of the donors were unemployed.

    Take Back Action Fund, a conservative group, examined the ActBlue fundraising figures. They found the discrepancies and are continuing to see if they can track down who these unemployed donors are.

    The fear is that foreign sources have been funneling millions of dollars into liberal coffers in violation of U.S. law.


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    Dec 1st, 2011

    The fires raging out West are unprecedented. They’re also a mere preview of what climate change has in store

    Updated 1:13 PM ET, Fri September 11, 2020

    (CNN) – Entire towns have been burned to the ground.

    Thousands have been forced to flee their homes.

    And apocalyptic scenes played out in San Francisco, as the city was blanketed in smoke so thick it blocked out the sun.

    The scale of the fires burning in the Western US right now are unprecedented.

    More than 3 million acres have burned in California alone, with three of the five largest fires in state history still burning all at once, along with huge swaths of Oregon and Washington. Still, much of the West is only now entering what is typically the most active part of the region’s fire season.

    To scientists, the fingerprints of global warming on these wildfires — and so many other disasters, from the fires that scorched Australia to the hurricanes that have slammed the US — are clear.

    And as devastating as they have been, far worse disasters could be on the horizon.

    How bad it gets depends on what we as humans do to reduce heat-trapping gas emissions, said Michael Mann, the director of Penn State University’s Earth System Science Center.

    “By some measure, it’s clear that ‘dangerous climate change’ has already arrived,” Mann said in response to emailed questions from CNN. “It’s a matter of how bad we’re willing to let it get.”

    How climate change influences wildfires

    Though the scale of destruction is hard to fathom, climate scientists say we should not be surprised.

    “It’s shocking to see the impacts, but not scientifically surprising,” Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research told CNN on Tuesday. “This is in line with essentially every prediction for what could happen this year and the trends we’re seeing over years and decades.”

    Scientists have warned for years that fire seasons like this could come to pass, and that the more we humans heat up the planet, the more we are increasing the odds in favor of the hot, dry conditions conducive to fires.

    So far, the planet has warmed by a global average of roughly 1.2 degrees Celsius since the 1880s, with human activity responsible for the bulk of that increase.

    This warming is clear in long-term temperature graphs for the state of California, such as this one below from the nonprofit environmental monitoring organization Berkeley Earth, which shows that August temperatures in the state have climbed steadily over the last 150 years.

    This past August was the warmest on record for the state of California, according to NOAA, and each of the past six years were at least 1 to 2 degrees Celsius (1.8 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the historical average.

    “That couple of degrees of [average] warming over decades … you don’t notice it as much, but it’s still there lurking in the background, sucking extra moisture out of the vegetation and the soil,” Swain said.

    According to the National Climate Assessment, a major “state-of-science” review of climate change and its projected impacts on the US, additional warming of about 1.4 degrees Celsius (2.5 degrees Fahrenheit) can be expected over the next few decades regardless of future emissions.

    By the second half of the century, the uncertainty range for the amount of warming grows tremendously, as so much will depend on potential cut backs in carbon emissions in the near future.

    The future depends on “what we choose to do”

    Lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders during the Covid-19 pandemic did result in the largest drop in greenhouse gas emissions in recorded human history.

    But scientists expect the reductions will be temporary, and the policies that brought emissions down — i.e. forcing people to stay home — are not sustainable.

    And despite the brief dip in heat-trapping gas emissions, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are still the highest they’ve been in at least 800,000 years.

    Scientists say the impacts of climate change are growing worse before our very eyes.

    “If you’re in California, or on the Gulf Coast, or in Puerto Rico, Texas, the Carolinas, or Iowa, you’ve seen the devastating consequences of climate change already,” Mann said.

    Still, he says there is time left to flatten the curve of global warming impacts, but the longer we wait, the steeper that curve gets.

    “So much depends on what we choose to do,” Mann said. “If we keep planetary warming below 1.5 Celsius, which is still possible given concerted climate action, we can keep climate change impacts within our adaptive capacity. If we don’t, we will likely exceed it.”

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    “Nothing more could have been done”: Trump’s final phone call to Woodward

    Updated 12:26 PM ET, Mon September 14, 2020

    (CNN) – On August 14, the coronavirus pandemic was on fire in the US. More than 168,000 Americans had died, with more than 1,300 deaths that day alone. But when President Donald Trump called legendary journalist Bob Woodward, it was to find out one thing: He had recently learned that Woodward’s new book “Rage” was done and would be coming out in September, and Trump wanted to find out how he’d be portrayed.

    It was their 19th conversation, following 18 interviews that formed a key component of Woodward’s book. Trump had privately told Woodward in February he knew critical details about how deadly the virus was, and in March admitted he was playing it down.

    On August 14, Trump peppered the veteran two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with questions about the book and what exactly was in it.

    CNN has obtained excerpts of the 10-minute conversation, which show Trump was more focused on the economy than the public health crisis. As the two debated Trump’s response to the pandemic, Trump finally asked: “So you think the virus totally supersedes the economy?”

    “Oh sure. But they’re related, as you know,” Woodward responded.

    “A little bit, yeah,” Trump replied.

    “Oh, a little bit?” Woodward asked.

    “I mean, more than a little bit. But the economy is doing — look, we’re close to a new stock market record,” Trump said.

    Trump’s question to Woodward underscores the President’s attitude toward the virus.

    After six months of experts trying to convince Trump that the two are linked — that an economic recovery depends on first stopping the virus — Trump is still focused on the stock market and the economy because he believes those are key to his reelection.

    In another part of the conversation, Woodward told Trump there are parts of the book the President won’t like. “It’s a tough book,” he said, adding that it’s “close to the bone.”

    “You know the market’s coming back very strong, you do know that,” Trump responded to Woodward.

    “Yes, of course,” Woodward said.

    “Did you cover that in the book?” Trump asked.

    “I acted early”

    Woodward and Trump continued to debate Trump’s response to the pandemic and how it will be critical to the presidential election. When Woodward told Trump that the election will be a contest between him, former Vice President Joe Biden “and the virus,” Trump insisted, “Nothing more could have been done.”

    He added: “I acted early.”

    Since the critical details of what Trump withheld about the virus have become public, the President has tried to shift the conversation.

    “If Bob Woodward thought what I said was bad, then he should have immediately, right after I said it, gone out to the authorities so they can prepare and let them know,” Trump said on Thursday. “But he didn’t think it was bad. And he said he didn’t think it was bad. He actually said he didn’t think it was bad.”

    Woodward told CNN he never said this to the President.

    Woodward said that when he heard Trump talking about the coronavirus being airborne and deadlier than the flu in February, he first had to go out and learn whether that was actually true, since so little was known about the virus and how it was spread at the time.

    Trump had mentioned speaking to Chinese President Xi Jinping on February 6, and Woodward wondered if the President had learned those details based on his conversation with Xi. For months, Woodward said, he was chasing after a transcript of that call.

    It wasn’t until early May, when Woodward learned about a January 28 top secret intelligence briefing Trump had with his national security team, that Woodward started to piece together the story. In that briefing, Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien told Trump that the coronavirus would be “the biggest national security threat” of his presidency, and O’Brien’s deputy Matthew Pottinger warned Trump about human-to-human and asymptomatic spread of the virus.

    Trump also said last week that the calls with Woodward were “quick ones, not long ones.” In fact, the 18 interviews totaled nearly 10 hours. In more than a half-dozen cases, it was Trump who called Woodward unexpectedly, sometimes late at night from the White House residence.

    As CNN reported last week, many of those calls were made without White House aides knowing about them.

    Throughout their 18 interviews for the book, Trump sought Woodward’s approval, repeatedly asking Woodward whether he was going to write a “good book.” The lobbying continued in their final conversation, when Woodward noted that one of Trump’s accomplishments after the book had gone to press — the agreement to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates — had earned Trump rare praise from New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who has been repeatedly critical of Trump.

    “Tom Friedman? That’s nice,” Trump said.

    “Isn’t that something?” Woodward responded.

    “He’s come a long way. The next one I need is you,” Trump said. “But it looks like I don’t have it on this book, but we’ll get you sometime later, I guess.”

    A list of all of Woodward’s interviews with Trump

    Interview No. 1 — December 5, 2019 (74 minutes)

    Interview No. 2 — December 13, 2019 (88 minutes)

    Interview No. 3 — December 30, 2019 (70 minutes)

    Interview No. 4 — January 20, 2020 (25 minutes)

    Interview No. 5 — January 22, 2020 (36 minutes)

    Interview No. 6 — February 7, 2020 (17 minutes)

    Interview No. 7 — February 19, 2020 (14 minutes)

    Interview No. 8 — March 19, 2020 (40 minutes)

    Interview No. 9 — March 28, 2020 (10 minutes)

    Interview No. 10 — April 5, 2020 (25 minutes)

    Interview No. 11 — April 13, 2020 (35 minutes)

    Interview No. 12 — May 6, 2020 (14 minutes)

    Interview No. 13 — May 22, 2020 (13 minutes)

    Interview No. 14 — June 3, 2020 (11 minutes)

    Interview No. 15 — June 19, 2020 (16 minutes)

    Interview No. 16 — June 22, 2020 (47 minutes)

    Interview No. 17 — July 8, 2020 (17 minutes)

    Interview No. 18 — July 21, 2020 (29 minutes)

    Interview No. 19 — August 14, 2020 (10 minutes)

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    Dec 1st, 2011

    This is horrible. RIP to the legendary RBG.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dead at 87

    by Joan Biskupic and Ariane de Vogue, CNN
    Updated 7:40 PM ET, Fri September 18, 2020

    (CNN) Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday, the court announced. She was 87.

    Ginsburg was appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and in recent years served as the most senior member of the court’s liberal wing consistently delivering progressive votes on the most divisive social issues of the day, including abortion rights, same-sex marriage, voting rights, immigration, health care and affirmative action.

    Along the way, she developed a rock star type status and was dubbed the “Notorious R.B.G.” In speaking events across the country before liberal audiences, she was greeted with standing ovations as she spoke about her view of the law, her famed exercise routine and her often fiery dissents.

    She had suffered from five bouts of cancer, most recently a recurrence in early 2020 when a biopsy revealed lesions on her liver. In a statement she said that chemotherapy was yielding “positive results” and that she was able to maintain an active daily routine.

    “I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam,” she said in a statement in July 2020. ” I remain fully able to do that.”

    She told an audience in 2019 that she liked to keep busy even when she was fighting cancer. “I found each time that when I’m active, I’m much better than if I’m just lying about and feeling sorry for myself,” she said in New York at the Yale Club at an event hosted by Moment Magazine. Ginsburg told another audience that she thought she would serve until she was 90 years old.

    Tiny in stature, she could write opinions that roared disapproval when she thought the majority had gone astray.

    Before the election of President Donald Trump, Ginsburg told CNN that he “is a faker” and noted that he had “gotten away with not turning over his tax returns.” She later said she regretted making the comments and Trump suggested she should recuse herself in cases concerning him. She never did.

    In 2011, by contrast, President Barack Obama singled out Ginsburg at a White House ceremony. “She’s one of my favorites,” he said, “I’ve got a soft spot for Justice Ginsburg.”

    The vacancy gives Trump the opportunity to further solidify the conservative majority on the court and fill the seat of a woman who broke through the glass ceiling at a time when few women attended law school with a different justice who could steer the court to the right on social issues.

    Ginsburg was well-known for the work she did before taking the bench, when she served as an advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union and became the architect of a legal strategy to bring cases to the courts that would ensure that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection applied to gender.

    “I had the good fortune to be alive and a lawyer in the late 1960s when, for the first time in the history of the United States, it became possible to urge before courts, successfully, that society would benefit enormously if women were regarded as persons equal in stature to men,'” she said in a commencement speech in 2002.

    Once she took the bench, Ginsburg had the reputation of a “judge’s judge” for the clarity of her opinions that gave straight forward guidance to the lower courts.

    At the Supreme Court, she was perhaps best known for the opinion she wrote in United States v. Virginia, a decision that held that the all-male admissions policy at the state funded Virginia Military Institute was unconstitutional for its ban on women applicants.

    “The constitutional violation in this case is the categorical exclusion of women from an extraordinary educational opportunity afforded men,” she wrote in 1996.

    Ginsburg faced discrimination herself when she graduated from law school in 1959 and could not find a clerkship.

    No one was more surprised than Ginsburg of the rock star status she gained with young women in her late 70s and early 80s. She was amused by the swag that appeared praising her work, including a “You Can’t have the Truth, Without Ruth” T-shirt as well as coffee mugs and bobbleheads. Some young women went as far as getting tattoos bearing her likeness. A Tumblr dubbed her the “Notorious R.B.G.” in reference to a rap star known as “Notorious B.I.G.” The name stuck. One artist set Ginsburg’s dissent in a religious liberty case to music.

    “It makes absolute sense that Justice Ginsburg has become an idol for younger generations,” Justice Elena Kagan said at an event at the New York Bar Association in 2014. “Her impact on America and American law has been extraordinary.”

    “As a litigator and then as a judge, she changed the face of American anti-discrimination law,” Kagan said. “She can take credit for making the law of this country work for women and in doing so she made possible my own career.”

    Dissents and strategy

    Part of Ginsburg’s renown came from her fierce dissents in key cases, often involving civil rights or equal protection.

    In 2007, the court heard a case concerning Lilly Ledbetter, who had worked as a supervisor at a Goodyear tire plant in Alabama. Near the end of her career, Ledbetter discovered a pay disparity between her salary and the salaries of male co-workers. She filed a claim arguing she had received discriminatorily low salary because of her sex in violation of federal law. A majority of the court found against Ledbetter, ruling she had filed her complaints too late. Ginsburg wasn’t impressed with that reasoning.

    “The court’s insistence on immediate contest overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination,” Ginsburg wrote, urging Congress to take up the issue, which it did in 2009.

    In 2015, it was Ginsburg who led the liberal block of the court as it voted in favor of same-sex marriage with the critical fifth vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy wrote the opinion and it was joined by the liberals who chose not to write separately. Ginsburg was likely behind that strategy and she said later that had she written the majority she might have put more emphasis on equal protection.

    After the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens, Ginsburg was the most senior of her liberal colleagues and she had the power to assign opinions when the chief justice was on the other side.

    She assigned herself an angry dissent when the court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.

    “The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA has proven effective,” she wrote. She compared racial discrimination to a “vile infection” and said early attempts to protect against it were like “battling the Hydra.”

    She also penned a partial dissent in 2012 a case concerning Obama’s health care law disagreeing with the conservative justices that the individual mandate was not a valid exercise of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause. She called the reasoning “crabbed” but was satisfied that Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the fifth vote to uphold the law under the taxing power.

    Ginsburg puzzled some liberals with her criticisms of the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion — a case that was decided well before she took the bench. Although she said she felt like the result was right, she thought the Supreme Court should have limited itself to the Texas statute at hand instead of issuing a sweeping decision that created a target for opponents to abortion rights.

    She was in dissent in 2007 when the majority upheld a federal ban on a procedure called “partial birth abortion.” She called the decision “alarming” and said that it “tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.”

    She voted with the majority, however, in 2016 when the court struck down a Texas abortion law that critics called one of the strictest nationwide.

    In July (2020), Ginsburg filed another fierce dissent when the conservative majority allowed the Trump administration to expand exemptions for employers who have religious or moral objections to complying with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate.

    “Today, for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree,” Ginsburg wrote, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She observed that the administration had said the new rules would cause thousands of women — “between 70,500 and 126,400 women of childbearing age,” she wrote — to lose coverage.

    Friendship with Scalia

    Despite their ideological differences, her best friend on the bench was the late Justice Antonin Scalia. After the conservative’s sudden death in February 2016, she said he left her a “treasure trove” of memories.

    She was a life-long opera fan who appeared onstage in 2016 at the Kennedy Center for a non-speaking role in the Washington National Opera’s “The Daughter of the Regiment.”

    At speaking events she often lamented the fact that while she dreamed of being a great opera diva, she had been born with the limited range of a sparrow.

    Her relationship with Scalia inspired Derrick Wang to compose a comic opera he titled Scalia/Ginsburg that was based on opinions penned by the two justices.

    The actress Kate McKinnon also portrayed Ginsburg — wearing black robes and a trademark jabot — in a recurring “Saturday Night Live” skit responding to the news of the day.

    Ginsburg suffered two bouts of cancer in 1999 and 2009, and received a stent implant in her heart but never missed a day of oral arguments. She was married to Martin Ginsburg, a noted tax attorney for more than 50 years until his death in 2010 and they had two children.

    “I would just like people to think of me as a judge who did the best she could with whatever limited talent I had,” Ginsburg said at an event at the University of California Hastings College of Law in 2011, “to keep our country true to what makes it a great nation and to make things a little better than they might have been if I hadn’t been there.”

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