NEWSSTAND

Doug Jones Defeats Roy Moore in Alabama Special Election

Alabama voters elected Democratic attorney Doug Jones over Republican Judge Roy Moore in a closely-contested special election on Tuesday. Jones and Moore both ran to fill the seat left empty by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who held the seat from 1997 until this May. Jones received 49.9% of the vote to Moore’s 48.4%, with the remaining 1.7% going to write-in candidates.

Senator-elect Jones, who has never before held elected office, is best known in the state for his role as a federal prosecutor. As U.S. Attorney for the northern district of Alabama, he prosecuted a case against Ku Klux Klan members responsible for the 16th Street Church Bombing in 1963. Though moderate on certain issues important to Alabama voters such as gun rights, Jones drew strong criticism for his uncompromising positions on abortion rights. Jones opposes, for example, bans on abortion after 20 weeks. Jones also has very progressive views on other issues such as climate change and healthcare.

Jones’s victory owes much to the liabilities and weaknesses of his Republican opponent Roy Moore, who attracted intense scrutiny in the final weeks of the campaign due to allegations of inappropriate contact with minors early in his career. Moore, who previously served as Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, defeated sitting establishment Senator Luther Strange and Congressman Mo Brooks in a three-way primary this fall. Moore is well-known in Alabama for his opposition both to abortion and same-sex marriage. Moore has also been removed from the Alabama Supreme Court twice, the first time for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from an Alabama Courthouse, and a second time for defying the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell vs. Hodges that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Moore finished a strong second against Jones, but could not win the normally Republican seat in the face of a highly energized Democratic base.

Hillary Clinton Ignored Warnings of Harvey Weinstein’s Misdeeds

Hillary Clinton knew about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct when she accepted his donations to her campaign. Lena Dunham, Tina Brown, and Linda Bloodworth-Thompson all warned the Clinton campaign about associating with Weinstein.

Lena Dunham recalls telling Hillary’s deputy communications director, “I just want you to let you know that Harvey’s a rapist and this is going to come out at some point. I think it’s a really bad idea for him to host fund-raisers and be involved because it’s an open secret in Hollywood that he has a problem with sexual assault.”

In addition, Hollywood insider Linda Bloodworth-Thompson warned 3 top Democrats not to let Weinstein affiliate with the campaign. Bloodworth-Thompson has been friends with the Clintons since the 1980s. Bloodworth-Thompson even helped Bill Clinton write his public apology for lying about the Lewinsky scandal. She knows, perhaps better than anyone, the deeply damaging ramifications of a powerful man’s sexual misconduct.

Despite the warnings, the Clinton campaign embraced Weinstein. He hosted two fundraisers for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election cycle. The second event, held in June, raised $1.8 million for the campaign. Weinstein also donated to the Clinton Foundation. Tax filings report that he donated somewhere between $100,000 and $250,000 to the organization.

Clintonian Hypocrisy

While Hillary took Weinstein’s campaign cash, she campaigned on being an advocate for women. On November 22nd, 2015, she tweeted, “Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported.”

This begs the question, what about Harvey Weinstein’s victims? Do they not count as survivors of sexual assault? The Clinton Foundation announced it would not return the donation from Weinstein. Hillary personally stated that she would donate the campaign money to charity at the end of the year.

 

 

Jimmy Kimmel and Roy Moore Face Off in Spat

The Twitter war between Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore and late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel is reaching the level of ridiculous, as both men are taking turns insulting and poking each other, with Kimmel finally saying “If you’re challenging me to a fight…I accept.”

It all started last week when Kimmel sent a writer from his late night show to a church in Alabama, where Moore was giving a speech. As a protestor tried to heckle the judge, Kimmel’s writer, pretending to be a supporter, stood up and yelled statements like “That’s a man’s man! Does that look like the face of someone who hits on teenage girls?” The comedic writer was escorted out, and Moore took to Twitter to respond to the heckling.

“If you want to mock our Christian values,” Moore tweeted to Kimmel, “come down here to Alabama and do it man to man.”

Kimmel wasted no time in responding. “Sounds great, Roy,” Kimmel wrote, “let me know when you get some Christian values and I’ll be there!” The host added another answer a bit later, telling Moore he would be “leaving my daughters at home” and telling the judge to “wear that cute little leather vest.”

It only escalated from there, with Kimmel frequently using his show’s opening monologue to ridicule and mock the Alabama judge. Moore responded with invitations for Kimmel to attend his church in the southern state, saying he would save the host a seat “on the front pew.”

Finally, Kimmel’s mocking reached epic proportions when he announced to Moore that if the judge’s invitation included a fistfight, Kimmel was fine with participating.

“The bottom line is this,” said the host. “I accept the invitation. I will come down there.”

New Legislation Would Require Transparency for Taxpayer-Funded Accounts

A slush fund has been revealed after a recent rash of sexual harassment allegations against US lawmakers. This slush fund is a Treasury Department account with funds designated to be used for court settlements against federal government employees and lawmakers.

According to the Congressional Office of Compliance’s annual report, $934,754 was paid from this taxpayer-funded account in 2017 to government employees to settle claims that included sexual harassment, overtime pay disputes, and other workplace violations. More than $4 million has been paid out since 2007. But, since it’s unclear how much of those funds went to settle each type of claim, there have been calls for transparency on these settlements, and to name the harasser in any payout due to office sexual harassment.

New legislation has been bipartisanly introduced in the House and Senate that would make Congress reveal how funds are being dispersed for workplace discrimination complaints in the Member and Employee Training and Oversight of Congress Act (“Me Too” Congressional Act). This bill would require identification, the amount of money paid, and the number of allegations against each office.

Some lawmakers that have been accused of sexual misconduct include current Minnesota Senator Al Franken, Michigan Rep. John Conyers, and former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner. The new law would prohibit members of Congress from using any taxpayer funds to pay for settlements and would require the use of personal funds instead.

Although legislation has already been passed mandating sexual harassment training for all lawmakers, staff, and interns, it’s still uncertain if, or when the “Me Too” Congressional Act will gain momentum to proceed on to House leaders for passage.

Sign the petition below to take action and demand Congress Unseal these slush fund deals!

Meet the Future Secretary of State: Mike Pompeo

The White House plans to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo, the current CIA Director and former Congressman from Kansas. Top-level officials have confirmed the transition plans to major news sources, though the White House has not yet made an official announcement.

Defense-Minded

Pompeo built his career around national security. He attended West Point, where he majored in mechanical engineering. He served in the U.S. Army along the Berlin Wall and in the Gulf War. Pompeo went on to graduate from Harvard Law. In 1998, Pompeo and some of his fellow West Point alumni founded Thayer Aerospace and Private Security. He worked as the company’s CEO for more than 10 years.

Following a career in the private sector, Pompeo chose to run for public office. He ran for Congress in 2010 and went on to represent Kansas’ 4th district from 2010 through 2016. Pompeo got his start in politics as a member of the Tea Party. After taking office, President Trump appointed Pompeo to the C.I.A. Director position. Pompeo concentrated his diplomatic efforts on Middle East stability, meeting the Turkish President Erdogan and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

Tough on National Security

Pompeo has criticized the Obama administration’s opposition to C.I.A. black sites and torture. He supports keeping Guantanamo Bay open. In addition, Pompeo specifically called out Obama for failing to enforce his “red line” in Syria. In a power vacuum, Russia swooped in and now exerts a level of control over the embattled nation.

The National Security Agency is a particular Pompeo favorite. He favors expanding the power of the agency to collect more data. Pompeo believes that the NSA should collect metadata on all Americans and compile it into a database. The information would not, theoretically, be individually identifiable, unless a security risk justified the unmasking of individuals.

Democrats Pressure Rep. Conyers to Resign, Turn Blind Eye Towards Sen. Franken

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D), who recently referred to Congressman John Conyers as “an icon in this country,” called upon the embattled Michigan Democrat to resign from the House at a press conference on Thursday following newly revealed allegations of sexual assault. “The allegations against Congressman Conyers, as we have learned more since Sunday are serious, disappointing and very credible,” Pelosi said. By contrast, Democratic leaders have refrained from insisting that Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who has similarly been accused of sexual misconduct, do the same. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has encouraged the famously ineffective Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the matter, but made no firm statements regarding Franken’s future in the body.

Sen. Franken has faced great criticism in and out of Washington ever since Leeann Tweeden revealed Franken’s poor conduct on November 16. Since that time, at least five more women have claimed that Franken has behaved similarly toward them. Although few, if any, Democrats have excused Franken’s actions, they have not been forthcoming in requesting any substantial penalties for the Minnesota Democrat. There are even those on Capitol Hill puzzled by the discrepancy in the treatment of Franken and Conyers. “[Pelosi]’s got to explain what the discernible difference between Congressman Conyers and Senator Al Franken is,” Conyers’s attorney, Arnold Reed, said.

The lack of open condemnation directed towards Franken makes little sense in light of the political situation in which both he and Conyers find themselves. Conyers represents a safe Democratic seat in the Detroit area, and would likely be succeeded by another partisan Democrat. Likewise, Franken represents the generally Democratic state of Minnesota. If Franken resigns, the state’s Democratic governor, Mark Dayton, would choose his successor, and a Democrat would likely win an election to fill the open seat. Until more information comes to light, why Democrats would demand the resignation of an elderly African-American but not of a middle-aged white man must remain in the realm of speculation.

Roy Moore Has New Accuser, Loses Endorsements

Another accuser has come forward against embattled judge and Congressional candidate Roy Moore, claiming that the judge molested her on several occasions beginning when the woman was 15 years old.

Attorney Gloria Allred is representing Beverly Young Nelson, who says that Moore first noticed her when she was a waitress at a local restaurant. According to Nelson, the then-District Attorney dined at the restaurant regularly, and would “pull the ends of her hair as he passed by.” He often complimented the teenage girl on her looks.

Nelson said she did “nothing to encourage” this behavior, and “did not respond” to flirtatious overtures. After she turned 16, Nelson says he signed her high school yearbook with a flirtatious message.

“To a sweeter more beautiful girl, I could not say Merry Christmas,” he wrote, signing it with the date – Christmas, 1997 – and the words, “Love, Roy Moore, DA.”

After signing her yearbook, Moore offered to drive Nelson home. Nelson interpreted the offer as nothing more than a gracious gesture. She politely accepted. When she got into Moore’s car, however, the horror truly began. Nelson alleges that Moore locked the car and forcibly groped her as she fought him off. After he attempted to force her into sexual contact, Nelson says “gave up.” Afterwards, Moore allegedly mocked her, saying “You’re just a child, I’m the district attorney. If you tell anyone about this, no one will ever believe you.”

Political Fallout

The chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), said on Monday that the Senate should vote to expel Moore if he wins the Senatorial election. Gardner said that the embattled former judge “does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.” Alabama will choose its next Senator on December 12th.

Some are encouraging outgoing Senator Luther Strange to consider a write-in campaign; though Moore beat Strange handily in a September run-off. A write-in campaign would most likely divide the GOP vote, leading to a win for the Democrats in Alabama. Several incumbent senators have spoken out against Moore. Sens. John McCain and Mitch McConnell have asked the candidate to step aside.  Sens. John Cornyn, Mike Lee, and Steve Daines have all revoked their endorsements.

Five women have now come forward and accused the judge of sexual molestation or assault.

Alleged Teacher Hoped Trump Voters Died in Las Vegas

Following the Las Vegas shooting, the nation mourned the 59 dead and hundreds injured by a gunman. Some, however, took the opportunity to wish death on their political opponents.

A twitter user who called herself @theresistANNce wrote, “Pray only trumptards die.” In the bio, this twitter user claimed to be a teacher.  No school district has verified the teacher’s identity or employment.

Following the tweet, @theresistANNce received a great deal of backlash, and she appears to have deleted her account, which is no longer active. Unfortunately, she was not the only person to let politics get in the way of condolences.

Political Posturing

Hayley Geftman-Gold, formerly a vice president at CBS, openly disrespected the victims, wrote on Facebook: “I have no hope that Repugs will ever do the right thing. I’m actually not even sympathetic to country music fans bc country music fans are often republican gun toters.”

In an official statement, CBS announced that Geftman-Gold’s post was unacceptable, and that she had been dismissed from the network. CNN’s Jeff Zeleny also thought it necessary to point out that many of the country music fans present might have been Trump supporters.

Even Trump opponents abroad made a mockery of the attack. Notorious British atheist Richard Dawkins openly derided the Second Amendment and those who support it. Dawkins tweeted, “Cool dude sertin’ he’s 2nd Mendment rahts. Hell yeah!” He continued, writing “Every country has its psychopaths. In US they have guns.”

In contrast, country music’s biggest stars offered their condolences to the victims and their families. A group of country musicians and fans gathered on Monday night for a vigil to honor those who tragically lost their lives.

Trump Visits Puerto Rico, Explains Recovery Challenges

Faced with the logistic problems of restoring electricity and water to an isolated island, the Trump administration has been working non-stop to help Puerto Ricans get back on their feet. On Tuesday morning, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump landed on the destroyed island.

Trump met with local leaders, including San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. Yulin Cruz has made a name for herself by claiming the President is failing Puerto Rico. However, others claim that she has failed to attend FEMA meetings, and has more interest in television appearances than she does in the relief effort. Trump extended an olive branch to one of his fiercest detractors.

The President helped distribute goods at a relief center, though the huge crowd made clear that recovery will take time. Part of the delays result from the lack of local truck drivers who can distribute generators, food, and water to rural part of the island. President Trump mentioned that supplies from the federal government still needed drivers to transport them to hurricane victims. As he said, “We need their truck drivers to start driving trucks. On a local level, they have to give us more help.”

During his trip, President Trump was briefed by officials at the Luis Muniz Air National Guard base. He met with storm victims to hear their experiences and their needs. Following that, he met with the governors of the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on a Navy ship.

In a part of the United States plagued by an ineffective local government and weak infrastructure, recovery will not be easy. The area’s mountainous geography only makes relief efforts more difficult.

To make the situation worse, a naval base on the island is no longer open to help coordinate relief efforts. The Naval Station Roosevelt Roads used to exist at Ceiba, Puerto Rico. After protests by locals, it was eventually shuttered in 2004. Now, a part of the former military base is used as a ship recycling facility. While this might make the island more environmentally sustainable, it has resulted in one less military base for relief efforts.

Currently, the military, first responders and FEMA are all working to improve conditions on the island. [3] Puerto Rico is without electricity, water and transportation on many parts of the island. Food shortages are common as Puerto Ricans work to recover from the storm. Despite the difficulties faced by the administration, relief efforts are still soldiering on. President Trump maintains that the government has done an excellent job responding to this brutal hurricane season.

Librarians Snub Melania Trump’s Dr. Seuss Donation

First Lady Melania Trump celebrated “National Read a Book Day” by donating a package of 10 Dr. Seuss books to one school library in all fifty states. The classic American children’s books were received warmly…except in Massachusetts.

A Condescending Rejection

An elementary school librarian named Liz Phipps Soeiro rejected the books. Soeiro sent a snotty letter back to the First Lady. She claimed that the “award-winning” school didn’t “NEED” the books, and that the library would not accept them. In the letter, Soeiro writes, “Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.” The librarian rejected the donation on behalf of the school, whose students perhaps could have enjoyed the free books.

Soeiro also sent Melania a list of children’s books with social justice themes, including several that discuss immigration. Melania Trump has her own immigration experience. Perhaps Soeiro ought to pick up a biography of the First Lady, who herself came to America as an immigrant.

Social Justice Hypocrisy

Soeiro decries the supposed racism of Dr. Seuss now, but photos have emerged of her dressed up as The Cat in the Hat for a reading presentation. Apparently, Dr. Seuss only became a problem when Trump became president. Theodore Geisel, the writer and artist who wrote under the Dr. Seuss pseudonym, did in fact create racist political cartoons. His World War II-era drawings about Japanese people contain harmful and hateful stereotypes. The books, however, contain no such hatred. For generations, kids have learned to read through Dr. Seuss’s whimsical stories.

Melania isn’t the first of the First Ladies to share the joy of Dr. Seuss with young readers. Michelle Obama read Dr. Seuss at education events, as did Barbara Bush and Hillary Clinton.

Since Soeiro published her angry letter, the school district has announced that she had no authorization to accept or reject books on behalf of the district.

 

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