CHAZ changes name to CHOP to better reflect the demonstrations’ message


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The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone or CHAZ is now being called CHOP by protesters. (KOMO News)

SEATTLE – Gaining national attention with a growing audience, what was once known as the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” has been rebranded and renamed – “Capitol Hill Organized Protest.”

Without a leader and with more voices chiming in, some of the protesters that have been pushing for police reform and advocating for Black Lives Matter at the now-abandoned East Precinct say it’s a move to get the movement back on track.

“That name, “CHAZ,” we didn’t actually come up with,” said protester Maurice Cola.

“We’re not sure if it was detractors or people trying to push a false narrative, but they definitely came in with that name, came with the signs and they had nothing to do with our movement so far.”

Before “CHAZ” was born, it was just one week ago when protesters and police faced off at 11th and E. Pine with the crowd later being dispersed through the use of flash bangs and pepper spray. Seattle Police say some protesters were throwing things like rocks, bottles and incendiary devices at officers.

Now “CHOP,” Cola says what’s happening on Capitol Hill was never about seceding from the United States. He also says Facebook pages popping up under the name “CHAZ” had been done without protesters knowing.

CHAZ changes name to CHOP
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In the nearly week it’s been around, intrigue and crowds continue to grow, many coming out to see it for themselves. From a co-op that’s been getting larger to people now selling t-shirts, Cola and others have expressed concern that the message is getting drowned out.

“We’re noticing a lot of tourists coming in and some of the narratives are getting lost with all the extra added energy,” said Cola. “We’re trying to keep the focus. This is not Coachella.”

The biggest question remains is – how long will this go on? At this point, it’s anyone’s guess. Cola says talks with the city haven’t amounted to much.

Cole Miller

@ColeMillerTV

What once read “Welcome to CHAZ” has been tweaked to read “CHOP.” The guy who reworked this welcome tells me it’s a rebrand to “re-centralize the focus back to the movement”

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Cole Miller

@ColeMillerTV

Looks like the stage is nearly set for some live music tonight at . At 11, hear from one of the protesters about that name change and his take on how talks have gone with the city about what comes next

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“We’ve definitely had communication but as far as actual progress, no,” Cola said. “The conditions of them actually being supportive, no. They’re allies with the national narrative but they’re not friends on the front.”

Throughout Saturday, the gathering remained peaceful.

Some say ‘Black Lives Matter’ message hijacked by emergence of ‘CHAZ’


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As protesters continue to gather outside of the East Precinct in what’s now being called the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” there’s concern among some who have visited that the message behind Black Lives Matter has been hijacked. (Photo: KOMO News)

As protesters continue to gather outside of the East Precinct in what’s now being called the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” there’s concern among some who have visited that the message behind Black Lives Matter has been hijacked.

The African American Community Advisory Council, which works with Seattle Police to facilitate discussion with officers and those they serve, came out to “CHAZ” Thursday evening in support of Chief Carmen Best. Multiple women spoke from the group, saying African Americans helped to build the precinct.

“Black lives do matter but there are also black lives that are police lives,” one of the woman said at the intersection of 12th and E Pine. “They feel the same way that you do.”

Throughout their attempts to convey their opinion to the crowd, they were met with boos and others grabbing microphones, talking over them.

Those women also stated that protest’s core belief has been lost.

“The thing is, you have hijacked this! You have taken the meaning away!”

Tempers flared for a few minutes before things came to an end.

“Not everybody is going to have the same opinion!”

Cole Miller | Differing opinions at CHAZ
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KOMO

KOMO News spoke with the AACAC Chair, Victoria Beach, afterwards.

“We support our chief of police,” said Beach. “We feel she’s been thrown under the bus. It was a cowardly move for the mayor to open up that street to all of the mayhem.”

Beach compared what she’s seen at “CHAZ” to that of a festival, name dropping Burning Man, rather than a movement aimed for police reform.

“We’re going to keep our voices loud and clear. We’re going to be heard,” said Beach. “How are we going to be heard if that’s happening? How are we going to come to the table and talk?”

Not long after they spoke, a rolling garage door at the East Precinct rolled up and nearly two dozen officers on bikes pedaled out. They were met by chants and expletives from protesters. The remaining officers inside eventually closed the door and protesters then went to the corner of 12th and E Pike to setup an enhanced barricade to keep them out.

For much of the night, the entirety of the gathering remained peaceful.

KOMO News reached out to Seattle Police to see why those officers were at the precinct but we have not heard back.

Seattle law enforcement experts urge police to take back CHAZ before it’s too late

Law enforcement officials are urging the Seattle Police Department to retake control of the East Precinct after hundreds of demonstrators overtook Monday the six-block area that surrounds it.

Officers effectively abandoned the area during violent clashes with demonstrators calling to defund the police.

Demonstrators have since set up occupancy in that section of downtown Seattle and have renamed it “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ).

SEATTLE ‘AUTONOMOUS ZONE’ HAS ARMED GUARDS, LOCAL BUSINESSES BEING THREATENED WITH EXTORTION, POLICE SAY

The portion of downtown Seattle that the protesters are now occupying.

The portion of downtown Seattle that the protesters are now occupying.

“It can’t continue like that,” Jim Fuda, a law enforcement expert and the director of law enforcement services for Crime Stoppers –­ which works with SPD –­ told Komo news.

“Some action is going to have to be taken. Is there federal laws broken? Does the FBI need to come in? But at some point, arrests and these people are going to have to be removed, if they don’t move.”

A volunteer works security at an entrance to the so-called "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone" on June 10, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. The zone includes the blocks surrounding the Seattle Police Departments East Precinct, which was the site of violent clashes with Black Lives Matter protesters, who have continued to demonstrate in the wake of George Floyd's death. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

A volunteer works security at an entrance to the so-called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” on June 10, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. The zone includes the blocks surrounding the Seattle Police Departments East Precinct, which was the site of violent clashes with Black Lives Matter protesters, who have continued to demonstrate in the wake of George Floyd’s death. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Photos of the area show protesters have remained peaceful –­ pitching tents, painting, watching outdoor movies and holding gatherings with music and speeches –­ but police have also said they have received numerous complaints about armed guards surrounding the perimeter and asking residents who live in the area to show ID.

Police have also alluded to the potential extortion of local businesses and citizens.

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Despite concessions by the city, including a 30-day ban by Mayor Jenny Durkan on officers deploying tear gas to disperse large crowds, as well as police officers shuttering the Third Precinct and retreating from the area, protesters have not shown signs of allowing police back in.

People sit in Cal Anderson Park in the so-called "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone" on June 10, 2020 in Seattle, Wash. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

People sit in Cal Anderson Park in the so-called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” on June 10, 2020 in Seattle, Wash. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

“Where are the rest of the citizens and their need for service?” Fuda said, pointing to the fact that police have limited their activity completely and are only responding to 911 calls.

The SPD is working on a strategy to negotiate with protesters but has been unable to identify the leaders of the group.

Michael Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Wednesday that the occupy-style demonstrations have gone too far and “is absolutely unreasonable activism.”

“We lost a precinct, now, what’s next? Are we going to lose another precinct? The city council has removed our ability to have less lethal ammunition for us to properly protect those facilities and protect ourselves,” Solan said.

Chaos at UK Black Lives Matter clashes: How men hurled BIKES at police horses – after a female mounted officer was knocked unconscious when her terrified steed was hit by a missile, bolted and hit a woman

  • The Black Lives Matters protests saw thousands of people take to streets of Westminster on Saturday
  • Following hours of peaceful protests, demonstrators became violent in clashes against the police
  • Some were spotted launching projectiles – including bikes – at police horses just outside of Downing Street 
  • One bolting horse slammed its rider in to a traffic sign before knocking over a woman demonstrator 

A female police officer was injured when protesters hurled projectiles and flares at her horse which bolted and sent her into a traffic light, amid chaotic scenes at the Black Lives Matter protest last night.

Footage shows the demonstration on Whitehall, central London turning violent as protestors bombard mounted officers with missile – and even Boris bikes – after hours of peaceful rallies drew to a close.

Through piecing together pictures, bystanders’ videos and eye-witness accounts at the scene, this how the dramatic situation unfolded.

A female police officer was injured after her horse slammed her into a traffic light, sending its rider flying to the ground after being spooked by projectiles thrown by protestors

A female police officer was injured after her horse slammed her into a traffic light, sending its rider flying to the ground after being spooked by projectiles thrown by protestors

Terrified horse hit by missiles and bolts

Shocking footage show a horse on Whitehall in a state of panic after being hit with missiles such as glass bottles and flares thrown by protestors.

The horse’s female rider struggles to stay in control as she rides the animal down the street charging protestors.

But within seconds the horse slams into a traffic light, sending its rider flying to the ground amid shocked gasps from onlookers.

The runaway police horse then turns back on itself, slamming a demonstrator to the ground as it attempts to flee the scene

The runaway police horse then turns back on itself, slamming a demonstrator to the ground as it attempts to flee the scene

Riderless horse hits protestor

The now-riderless horse continues to look to escape the crowds, scattering protestors as they attempt to get out of its path.

But then, after violently changing direction, the animal runs directly into a demonstrator, knocking them straight to the ground.

Another bystander then captures the horse running up Whitehall before turning off down Horse Guards Avenue, and eventually making its own way to its stables.

The injured officer is seen being pulled off the street by two other officers and a protestor. Met Police have confirmed she is recovering in hospital

The injured officer is seen being pulled off the street by two other officers and a protestor. Met Police have confirmed she is recovering in hospital

Female officer is hospitalised

In front of Downing Street, two officers and a demonstrator are seen dragging the fallen horse rider out of the street. She is believed to have been knocked unconscious in the fall.

Met Police said last night: ‘The officer is currently in hospital, receiving treatment for her injuries which are not life threatening.

‘The officer fell from her horse and we are examining the full circumstances of what took place.’

The Metropolitan Police told MailOnline that they are continuing to investigation the cause of the incident.

Demonstrators were caught launching bicycles at police horses during violent scenes on Whitehall, central London on Saturday

Demonstrators were caught launching bicycles at police horses during violent scenes on Whitehall, central London on Saturday

Protestor hurls bike at horse

Amid an increasingly tense backdrop, protestors continue to throw projectiles at mounted police officers.

A series of photos captures a masked protester wearing a dark blue overcoat and black gloves picking up a Boris bike in front of the Foreign Office.

He then deliberately hurtles the bicycle straight in to the path of a group of police horses.

Witnesses reported another two incidents where bikes were thrown towards horses at around the same time.

One masked man was seen purposefully rolling a Boris bike straight into the path of a mounted horse. Others were seen on social media throwing projectiles such as water bottles at riot police

The bike hits one of the horses on its right side before falling over, causing the horse to rear up as its rider tries to bring it under control.

There are several reports that missiles, possibly a flare, also hit officers on horseback. One bystander said: ‘One flare was an inch from my head.

‘It went right past me and hit the officer’s shield. A bike was thrown at the horse.’

A police horse, believed to have a female rider, bolts after being hit with a bicycle. The horse quickly turns and makes its way down Whitehall as terrified crowds scatter to get out of the way

A police horse, believed to have a female rider, bolts after being hit with a bicycle. The horse quickly turns and makes its way down Whitehall as terrified crowds scatter to get out of the way

Terrified horse bolts

More photos show what appears to be a second horse, in front of strewn Boris bikes, standing on its hind legs before it bolts following the incident.

The Met Police confirmed tonight while they are still investigating what happened, no animals were injured in the protests.

Thousands of protestors took to the streets of London today to protest against police brutality, following the death of US citizen George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin.

Protestors congregated in Parliament Square and Downing Street before moving across the other locations in the Capital including Battersea and Victoria.

The scenes on Saturday are the latest in a string of protests to have taken place throughout the week in London.

The officer (pictured) lay motionless on the floor following the incident near Downing Street on Saturday afternoon

The officer (pictured) lay motionless on the floor following the incident near Downing Street on Saturday afternoon

The officer was moved to the pavement (pictured) after he collided with a traffic light whilst moving at high-speed on the horse

The officer was moved to the pavement (pictured) after he collided with a traffic light whilst moving at high-speed on the horse

The demonstrations occurred despite please from Government ministers, including Home Secretary Priti Patel and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, to not break lockdown regulations and attend the protests.

Some protestors were seen wearing face masks and other means of protective equipment.

Elsewhere in London, popular boxer Anthony Joshua attended a Black Lives Matter demonstration in his hometown of Watford.

The heavyweight boxing champion made a passionate speech calling for the need to ‘speak out in peaceful demonstrations’ and not to protest with ‘selfish motives and turning it into rioting and looting’.

There have also been protests in major UK cities such as Manchester, Cardiff, Sheffield and Newcastle.

Ohio animal hospital offers free care for police horses injured during weekend protests

NEWS

CINCINNATI, Ohio (WJW) — An Ohio animal hospital is looking to help horses that were injured during the police violence protests this weekend.

Demonstrators across the nation took to the streets in response to the death of George Floyd. He died Monday while in Minneapolis police custody.

The Animal Eye Institute, located in Cincinnati, is offering to treat police force horses that received eye injuries during the protests.

Our sister station in Columbus, WCMH, shared video on Twitter of protesters throwing objects at mounted officers during the downtown demonstration Saturday.

NBC4 Columbus

@nbc4i

Tear gas fired after objects thrown at mounded officers during downtown protests. https://nbc4i.co/2XIiTeN 

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While it is unclear from the video if any of the horses were injured, the Animal Eye Institute has extended their hand to officers located anywhere from Columbus to Lexington, Kentucky.

“We aren’t in any way going to get political here, but if any police horses have eye injuries from protests from Columbus down to Lexington, we will treat them for free,” the hospital wrote on Facebook. “Just call the office or send us an email. The big gentle giants don’t deserve to be hurt.”

While the Columbus protest turned violent, causing the Ohio governor to activate the National Guard and Columbus officials to issue a state of emergency and an indefinite city-wide curfew, most of the protesters in Lexington remained peaceful.

**Watch the video above for a look at the Columbus protests**

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, protests erupted in Lexington for the second night in a row Saturday.

While some were seen turning over garbage cans, other protesters picked up the spilled trash. Some protesters confronted police, chanting “No Justice, No Peace!” and “I can’t breathe!”

Alex Slitz

@AlexSlitzPhoto

Protesters confront police in front of the library on Main. @heraldleader @HLpublicsafety

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A third “socially distant, non-violent protest” has been planned for Sunday night at 8 p.m. at the Lexington courthouse.

In Cincinnati, where the Animal Eye Clinic is located, protests have been violent. FOX 19 reports several protesters threw bottles and rocks at police. An Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper’s helmet was even stuck by a bullet. The officer is ok.

Some protesters were seen throwing trash cans into the streets and starting fires. Some businesses were also vandalized.

Nationwide more than 1,400 people in 17 U.S. cities have been arrested since Thursday. While most protests being held in Floyd’s name have been peaceful, several have erupted in violence.

Twitter shuts down white nationalist group posing as Antifa after Donald Trump Jr. shares its tweet

The president’s eldest son had shared the fake account’s tweets and accused leftists of domestic terrorism

 

 

 

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https://www.salon.com/2020/06/02/twitter-shuts-down-white-nationalist-group-posing-as-antifa-after-donald-trump-jr-shares-its-tweet/

JUNE 3, 2020 1:40AM (UTC)
Twitter shut down a fake Antifa account after linking it to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, the company announced Monday.

A Twitter spokesperson told CNN that an account claiming to belong to a national Antifa organization was shut down after it called for violence at protests over police brutality. Antifa, short for anti-fascist, is not a centralized organization but rather a political protest movement made up of small autonomous groups and individuals.

“This account violated our platform manipulation and spam policy, specifically the creation of fake accounts,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We took action after the account sent a tweet inciting violence and broke the Twitter Rules.”

The move came after the account called for violence in residential areas.

“Tonight’s the night, Comrades,” the newly-created account tweeted Sunday. “Tonight we say ‘F**k The City’ and we move into the residential areas… the white hoods…. and we take what’s ours.”

The social network linked the fake account to Identity Evropa, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified as a white nationalist hate group.

A Twitter spokesperson told CNN that the company has taken action against fake accounts linked to Identity Evrope in the past, as well.

Sunday’s tweet was shared by Donald Trump Jr. on Instagram, who cited it as alleged evidence to support his father’s claim that Antifa is a domestic terror group, even though it is an affiliation rather than a centralized organization.

“Absolutely insane,” Don Jr. wrote. “Just remember what ANTIFA really is. A Terrorist Organization! They’re not even pretending anymore.”

Matthew Conroy@MattConroy24

Wasn’t @DonaldJTrumpJr pushing fake “antifa” accounts recently?!? Oh right, that was yesterday. https://twitter.com/sahilkapur/status/1267626627967725570 

View image on Twitter
Sahil Kapur

@sahilkapur

NEWS: A Twitter account claiming to belong to a national “antifa” organization and pushing violent rhetoric related to ongoing protests has been linked to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, according to a Twitter spokesperson. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/twitter-takes-down-washington-protest-disinformation-bot-behavior-n1221456 

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The post was later removed after Twitter shut down the account.

The fake account was created as President Donald Trump tweeted that he would label Antifa a domestic terror group, though experts say such a move would be unconstitutional. It would also be impossible, since there is no centralized Antifa organization, though some local chapters affiliated with the movement are well-organized.

Attorney General William Barr also blamed Antifa for inciting violence. State officials have said they found extremists from the left as well as white supremacists stoking violence amid protests over the death of George Floyd. However, the president has insisted there was no white supremacist involvement.

“It’s ANTIFA and the Radical Left,” he tweeted on Saturday. “Don’t lay the blame on others!”

But the FBI found that white supremacist groups urged followers to engage in violence two days after Floyd’s death, Politico reported.

A memo from the Department of Homeland Security, citing the FBI, revealed that “a white supremacist extremist Telegram channel incited followers to engage in violence and start the ‘boogaloo’ — a term used by some violent extremists to refer to the start of a second Civil War — by shooting in a crowd.”

The FBI also has evidence that “suspected anarchist extremists and militia extremists allegedly planned to storm and burn the Minnesota state Capitol,” the memo said.

Though the memo did not specify, Politico noted that “anarchist extremists” appears to refer to left-wing extremists, while “militia extremists” refers to those on the far-right.

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“The truth is, nobody really knows,” he told NBC News. “There’s been a lot of videotape taken by demonstrators of people who are very suspicious, who really did start breaking windows. There have been other photographs of cars with no license plates. Very suspicious behavior.”

Extremism experts said there was evidence of a wide range of participants.

“We’re going to see a diversity of fringe malefactors,” Brian Levin, who heads the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino, told The New York Times. “We know for a fact there have been far-right agitators both online and at these rallies, as well as far-left.”

Ann Coulter Turns on ‘Disloyal Actual Retard’ Trump in Twitter Rant

Rosemary Rossi

Ann Coulter went on an early Sunday morning Twitter tear, calling President Donald Trump “the most disloyal actual retard that has ever set foot in the Oval Office.”

The far-right media pundit and former Trump defender was triggered by the president’s Friday tweet in which he called for Alabama voters to “not trust Jeff Sessions” and instead put their support behind Sessions’ Republican Senate seat challenger, football coach Tommy Tuberville.

“3 years ago, after Jeff Sessions recused himself, the Fraudulent Mueller Scam began. Alabama, do not trust Jeff Sessions. He let our Country down. That’s why I endorsed Coach Tommy Tuberville (@TTuberville), the true supporter of our #MAGA agenda!,” Trump tweeted.

And that set off Coulter, who called Trump a “moron,” “retard” and “lout,” who was incapable of “pretending to be” a “decent, compassionate human being.”

Related Video: Protesters Arrested Over Ann Coulter’s Visit to Berkeley

Watch the Senate panel’s vote to subpoena documents related to Hunter Biden, in 3 minutes
 and the attendance of COO
Sally Painter for deposition

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Also Read: Trump Rails Against Fox News As Latest Poll Shows Him Down

3 years ago, a complete moron of a president told NBC’s Lester Holt, “I was going to fire Comey. … [W]hen I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.'” BAM! SPECIAL PROSECUTOR! https://t.co/fIzHtmbOfR

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 24, 2020

The most disloyal actual retard that has ever set foot in the Oval Office is trying to lose AND take the Senate with him. Another Roy Moore fiasco so he can blame someone else for his own mess. https://t.co/fIzHtmbOfR

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 24, 2020

Trump didn’t build the wall and never had any intention of doing so. The ONE PERSON in the Trump administration who did anything about immigration was Jeff Session. And this lout attacks him. https://t.co/fIzHtmbOfR

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 24, 2020

COVID gave Trump a chance to be a decent, compassionate human being (or pretending to be). But he couldn’t even do that. https://t.co/fIzHtmbOfR

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 24, 2020

The media is salivating over the former football coach, Tommy Tuberville (choice of the most disloyal human God ever created, DJT). https://t.co/fIzHtmbOfR

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 24, 2020

GREAT WORK IN THE LAST ALABAMA SENATE RACE, MR. PRESIDENT! Keep it up and we’ll have zero Republican senators. The next Republican president will be elected in the year 4820. https://t.co/fIzHtmbOfR

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 24, 2020

Sessions HAD to recuse himself, you complete blithering idiot. YOU did not have to go on Lester Holt’s show and announce you fired Comey over the Russian investigation. That’s what got you a Special Prosecutor. https://t.co/fIzHtmbOfR

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 24, 2020

I can’t wait to see what the media have in store for the former football coach, Tuberville. This is going to be another Roy Moore catastrophe – also engineered by Trump. #SaveTheSenate https://t.co/fIzHtmbOfR

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 24, 2020

Also Read: Trump Says He ‘Tested Positively’ for Testing Negative for Coronavirus

Coulter capped off her rant by affirming the issues that Trump stood behind as a candidate but that she feels he has abandoned since entering the White House. The commentator, who published a book in 2016 titled “In Trump We Trust,” added that she regrets once believing in “this shallow and broken man.”

I will never apologize for supporting the issues that candidate Trump advocated, but I am deeply sorry for thinking that this shallow and broken man would show even some remote fealty to the promises that got him elected. https://t.co/fIzHtmbOfR

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 24, 2020

TRUMP GOT ALABAMA A DEMOCRATIC U.S. SENATOR BY HIS IDIOTIC MEDDLING IN THE PRIMARY LAST TIME. If you know nothing else, Alabamians, you should do the opposite of what Trump recommends in a primary. https://t.co/fIzHtmbOfR

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 24, 2020

Also Read: MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough: Trump Is Acting Like He Doesn’t Want to Be Re-Elected (Video)

During the 2016 presidential primary and into Trump’s early years in the White House, Coulter championed the real estate mogul and his political agenda. She has since distanced herself from him over immigration policies, an issue which prompted her to support Sessions, who served as Trump’s first attorney general.

In February 2019, Trump declared a national emergency at the Southern border, while pushing himself away from Coulter. She responded by saying that “the only national emergency is that our president is an idiot.”

Read original story Ann Coulter Turns on ‘Disloyal Actual Retard’ Trump in Twitter Rant At TheWrap

Trump’s Presidency Brings Us Closer to Midnight on the Doomsday Clock

 

The legendary Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS), which tracks issues related to technology and global security, has issued a terrifying warning: We are less than two minutes to midnight on the Doomsday clock. It’s very bad news, representing “the most dangerous situation that humanity has ever faced.”

What makes this moment so perilous? The scientists’ statement includes warnings over the cyber-weaponization of information, the spread of artificial intelligence (AI) in making military decisions, the destruction of treaties meant to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, the abandonment of global agreements to limit climate chaos, the spread of genetic engineering and synthetic biology technologies, and more. It does not account for the escalated likelihood of atomic reactor disasters, but based on at least one BAS publication, it should.

Since 1947, this prestigious band of elite scientists and global thinkers has been putting out a “clock” meant to time the peril of a global apocalypse. First issued at the dawn of the Cold War, it has mostly focused on the dangers of atomic warfare. Its countdown to Armageddon has been set as far away as 17 minutes from midnight, a hypothetical time of human extinction. That relatively optimistic assessment came in 1991, with the fall of the Soviet Union and the definitive end of the Cold War.

In 2018, the BAS set it at two minutes, the closest to catastrophe it had ever been. They repeated that estimate in 2019. But this year’s announcement has taken us inside the two-minute warning with a hair-raising litany of likely lethal catastrophes set to occur within 100 theoretical seconds.

Donald Trump is mentioned only once by name, in conjunction with his decision to trash the Paris Accords on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. The scientists urge “whoever wins the 2020 election” to reinstate the U.S. commitment limiting carbon and other climate-destroying emissions. The BAS also cites Brazilian dictator Jair Bolsonaro for his decision to allow the destruction of the Amazon, with huge impacts on climate.

The BAS strives to maintain a non-partisan image. But Trump’s presence in the White House clearly hangs over any assessment of humankind’s survivability. The specter of his finger on the nuclear, ecological and financial buttons for the next four years hangs over humankind like a pall but goes otherwise unmentioned in this Doomsday assessment.

Also unmentioned is the question of more than 450 atomic power reactors worldwide. A small but vocal outlier coterie has argued that nuclear energy combats global warming by emitting less carbon that coal burners. But the Bulletin recently enshrined a major assessment by the esteemed Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, warning that commercial reactors pose a serious threat to human survival on this planet.

Published in August 2019, “The false promise of nuclear power in an age of climate change” argues that the 450 atomic reactors now deteriorating worldwide pose an existential threat to our survival. Writing with Professor Naomi Oreskes, Lifton warns that atomic energy “is expensive and poses grave dangers to our physical and psychological well-being.” Citing costs of nuclear juice at $100 per megawatt-hour versus $50 for solar and $30-40 for onshore wind, the authors say that the industry suffers from a “negative learning curve,” driving nuke costs constantly higher while those for renewables head consistently down.

Citing the unsolved problem of radioactive waste management, the BAS article warns of the ongoing impacts of major disasters like Fukushima and Chernobyl (and potentially more to come), whose fallout kills humans and does untold damage to the global ecology. Lipton and Oreskes say we need to free ourselves “from the false hope that a technology designed for ultimate destruction” can lead to our salvation. They favor making “renewable energies integral to the American way of life.”

In addition to nuclear and climate issues, the 2020 Doomsday assessment emphasizes some relatively new concerns. “In the last year,” it says, “many governments used cyber-enabled disinformation campaigns to sow distrust in institutions and among nations, undermining domestic and international efforts to foster peace and protect the planet.”

By attacking both science and the fabric of international peace accords, some global leaders have created “a situation that will, if unaddressed, lead to catastrophe, sooner rather than later.”

That situation includes AI and hypersonic warfare, both escalating “at a frenzied pace.” Now used in ultra-fast attacks, AI is dangerously vulnerable to “hacking and manipulation” while making “kill decisions without human supervision.” In nuclear command and control systems, the BAS warns, research and experience have demonstrated the vulnerability of these systems to “hacking and manipulation.”

This is an absolutely terrifying brew. The spread of disinformation, the contempt for science and expert opinion, the undermining of global agreements on arms control, and climate change are all deadly. Add in the new world of AI and hyper-sonic warfare, then pile on autocrats like Trump and Bolsonaro, and finish with the certainty of more disasters from 450 crumbling, obsolete atomic reactors.

All in all, it’s small wonder the Bulletin has taken us past the two-minute warning. It will clearly take every ounce of our activist strength to save our species from the final

 

whistle.

 

 


 

Many Evangelicals Excuse Anything Trump Does — Because He’s the “Chosen One”

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is the latest Trump official or acolyte to prostrate himself, using cult-like terms, before the president. Trump is, in Perry’s worldview, a man tagged by God to occupy his leadership role. In this, the energy secretary is echoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who has averred Trump may have been chosen by God to defend Israel against Iran – and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s erstwhile press secretary, who also argued that God had played a role in Trump’s election. Perry is also mimicking ex-Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who has argued that Trump is the most “godly, Biblical president” in her lifetime. He is following in the footsteps of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Liberty University, which produced a movie in 2018 titled The Trump Prophecy that likewise argued President Trump had been chosen by God.

And, of course, Perry is also echoing Trump himself, who earlier this year embraced the notion that he was indeed The Chosen One, and subsequently tweeted about his own “great and unmatched wisdom.”

There is something utterly baffling about this notion, that, in the year 2019, in a country that prides itself on its democratic culture and its intellectual institutions, and that has a constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, medieval visions of governance are being touted by much of the U.S. leadership. The country has had its fair share of fundamentalist and fanatic political leaders, but at no previous point in its history has the divine right to rule been seriously proposed as a governing principle by those in positions of power. After all, presidents are supposed to be elected; the divine right to rule of kings is something that was (or so we thought) put to bed centuries ago.

Some evangelists aver that Donald J. Trump is a modern-day version of the ancient Persian king Cyrus, the autocratic nonbeliever who is used by God to fulfill his design – conquering Babylon and freeing the Jews from bondage. Cyrus, as king, is a man who exists outside of, above, ordinary moral law; a daring emperor constrained by nothing and no one. In many ways, Cyrus is a Nietzschean figure 2,500 years before Friedrich Nietzsche. Secretary of State Pompeo, an evangelical Christian with a taste for “End Times” philosophy, frequently references Cyrus’s story.

Trump himself, who has left a trail of sexual assault allegations in his wake over the decades, has shown scant religious sensibilities throughout his life. When it proved politically expedient during the presidential campaign, he claimed to belong to a church in Manhattan, but the church itself put out a statement that he was not an active member.

As president, however, Trump has demonstrated a feral talent for wooing the religious right and keeping them on his side through one scandal after another after another. He has done so by appointing dozens of extremist judges who will, over the coming decades, work to restrict or end access to abortion, break down the walls that separate church from state, limit LGBTQ rights, allow for an increasing number of carve-outs so that religious groups and individuals don’t have to adhere to anti-discrimination laws, dilute science teaching in schools, and so on.

At the start of this month, Trump hired the Florida-based prosperity gospel televangelist Paula White onto his White House staff. It was an illuminating moment. White, who has a grand talent for self-promotion and an instinct for what Trump would term “the art of the deal,” believes that far from siding with the meek and the downtrodden, God rewards believers monetarily. More shockingly, prosperity gospel advocates also argue that God particularly likes those who already enjoy financial success.

The prosperity gospel is an extreme version of what the German sociologist Max Weber wrote about in his 1905 classic The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Weber theorized that Calvin’s theory of predestination, in which believers could not know for sure whether they were lucky enough to be assigned to heaven or unlucky enough to be heading to hell, created an extreme state of angst. Unsure of their place in eternity, Calvin’s followers looked for any and every earthly hint as to whether they were among God’s favored ones. Monetary success, in this anxious milieu, soon became seen as a sign of divine favor.

But whereas Calvin’s puritan followers accumulated wealth without ostentatious spending – thus, Weber argued, providing a surplus of money that could be invested and that would eventually sow the seeds of early capitalism – the prosperity gospel is about bling and kitsch. It is about showing off and strutting one’s financial stuff.

Nearly 100 years ago, the Mississippi bluesman Robert Johnson was alleged to have made a pact with the devil at the crossroads outside of the little town of Clarksdale – a pact that traded Johnson’s soul in exchange for the ability to create soul-shatteringly good music. Trump’s own such crossroads pact, signed at his tower where Central Park south meets Central Park west, is with religious preachers such as White. He doesn’t necessarily believe what he’s signed onto here, but since it comes with tremendous political benefits, he’s perfectly happy to indulge in this marriage of convenience. And, truth be told, White’s peculiar version of Christianity suits him to a tee. For the real estate tycoon with a fetish for all things gold, the prosperity gospel is the perfect religious expression: It’s hucksterism gussied up as religion. And it lends itself to cultist hero-worship.

Those who thrive financially — in this rendition of the gospel, regardless of the methods by which they attain wealth — deserve praise and adulation. Perry saying that Trump has been chosen by God is really no more or less sycophantic than the parade of cabinet members early in Trump’s presidency who lavished the sorts of praise on him that one might expect to hear in a fully ripe dictatorship.

In an article on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s site about whether Trump is a modern-day Cyrus, I find this comment: “I love this president as he navigates through the anti-christ DEMONcrats. As Christian’s [sic], we better stand by this man placed by our GOD.THINK ABOUT IT, WE’RE ON THE VERGE OF KILLING ROE VS WADE AND THE SLAUGHTER OF BABY HUMAN BEINGS!!!!!”

If that’s the calculus, Trump’s myriad moral failings mean nothing. To those that adhere to this worldview, they don’t care if the president mocks a disabled journalist or the Gold Star family of a veteran killed in action. Trump swears in public, boasts of sexual assault and even says that he could shoot someone dead in broad view without losing the support of his base. Yet, to such believers, all of these are simply the imperfections of a man ordained by God to rid the U.S. of abortion and secularism and the other great sins of the modern age.

Which brings me back to Rick Perry. Perry’s up to his eyeballs in the Ukraine scandal. But instead of coming clean, he has, like so many other high officials, unquestioningly followed Trump’s orders and refused to comply with congressional subpoenas to testify.

The rule of law and the constitutional order are under direct, sustained assault from the executive branch. And so long as senior figures such as Perry look at Trump and see something akin to a biblical prophecy adapted for the modern age, they will continue to side with a lawless president over the constitutionally guaranteed authority of the U.S. Congress.

NRA Was ‘Foreign Asset’ To Russia Ahead of 2016, New Senate Report Reveals

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A visitor to the at the National Rifle Association annual meeting walked past signage for the event in Indianapolis, Saturday, April 27, 2019.

Michael Conroy/AP

Updated at 11:53 a.m. ET

The National Rifle Association acted as a “foreign asset” for Russia in the period leading up to the 2016 election, according to a new investigation unveiled Friday by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Drawing on contemporaneous emails and private interviews, an 18-month probe by the Senate Finance Committee’s Democratic staff found that the NRA underwrote political access for Russian nationals Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin more than previously known — even though the two had declared their ties to the Kremlin.

The report, available here, also describes how closely the gun rights group was involved with organizing a 2015 visit by some of its leaders to Moscow.

Then-NRA vice president Pete Brownell, who would later become NRA president, was enticed to visit Russia with the promise of personal business opportunities — and the NRA covered a portion of the trip’s costs.

Tax-exempt organizations are barred from using funds for the personal benefit of its officials or for actions significantly outside their stated missions. The revelations in the Senate report raise questions about whether the NRA could face civil penalties or lose its tax-exempt status.

Attorneys general in the state of New York and the District of Columbia are conducting separate probes into alleged wrongdoing at the gun rights organization. These probes have a broader scope than the Senate report, which focuses on Russia.

Majority response: This is overblown

The Republican majority on the Senate Finance Committee, which was consulted periodically throughout the Democrats’ investigation, said Friday the report was overblown.

In the Republicans’ analysis of Wyden’s report, the majority argued that it does not account for U.S.-Russia relations at the time and contains “much conclusory innuendo… and repeatedly attempts to paint a picture that does not exist.”

The Republicans also argued that if the NRA committed any infractions, they would be small and do not put the NRA’s tax-exempt status at risk.

“To the extent NRA funds were used improperly in any facts discussed in the [Democratic report led by Wyden], it appears to have been minor, hardly a rounding error for an organization with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year and nothing that cannot be corrected with minor intermediate sanctions,” the Republican analysis states.

Kremlin links were clear

Wyden’s 77-page report centers on Butina — a convicted Russian agent now in federal prison — and Torshin, a former Russian government official who has been sanctioned by the United States.

The report indicates that top NRA officials were aware of Butina’s and Torshin’s links with the Kremlin even as they sought to work more closely together under the banner of gun rights.

In an email later circulated to two senior NRA staff members, Butina wrote that a purpose of the 2015 Moscow trip was that “many powerful figures in the Kremlin are counting on Torshin to prove his American connections” by showing he could bring prominent NRA officials to Russia.

At another point, Butina suggested to participants on the 2015 NRA trip to Russia that she might be able to set up a meeting between them and President Vladimir Putin, referring to him as “Russia’s highest leader.”

NRA facilitated political access

Despite these declarations about their ties to the Russian government, NRA officials paid for and facilitated Torshin and Butina’s introduction into American political organizations.

Butina and Torshin received access to Republican Party officials at NRA events.

It was a explicit interest expressed by Butina: In one 2015 email to an NRA employee, Butina wrote, “is there a list of U.S. governors or members of Congress that might be present at some time during the [NRA] annual meeting?”

The employee responded with a list.

The NRA also helped them forge connections with groups such as the Council for National Policy, the National Prayer Breakfast, the National Sporting Goods Wholesalers Association and Safari Club International.

“NRA resources appear to have been used to pay for membership and registration fees to third party events for [Torshin and Butina] as well as to arrange for transit to and lodging for many of those events throughout 2015 and 2016,” the report states.

Report contradicts NRA denials

The Senate report notes that in 2018, then-NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch repeatedly denied that the group leaders’ 2015 trip to Moscow was sanctioned by the gun rights group.

But in a letter obtained by the committee, then-NRA President Allan Cors wrote to Torshin on NRA letterhead after consulting with NRA staff and former NRA President David Keene.

Cors designated two NRA figures to lead the trip: “Dave Keene and [top NRA donor] Joe Gregory will represent the NRA and our five million members better than anyone else,” he wrote.

During the course of the investigation, Brownell’s lawyer also told the committee that Brownell believed the trip was an official NRA event.

This view is further strengthened by the committee’s evidence that NRA staff prepared itineraries, gathered briefing materials, applied for tourist visas, paid for some of the travel expenses, and provided the delegation with NRA gifts to give to Russian officials.

The Senate investigation also found evidence that the NRA tried to hide various payments related to the trip.

Brownell covered approximately $21,000 in expenses related to the trip; in June 2016, the NRA reimbursed Brownell just over $21,000.

After questions were raised about the trip in 2018, Brownell paid the NRA $17,000 — a transaction that Brownell’s lawyer told the committee was requested by the NRA as a way of “getting the trip off the NRA’s books.”

NRA leaders sought business opportunities

The Senate investigation concludes that a number of NRA figures on the 2015 trip traveled to Russia “primarily or solely for the purpose of advancing personal business interests, rather than advancing the NRA’s tax-exempt purpose.”

Brownell, then a vice president of the NRA, is the CEO of a major firearms supplier bearing his last name.

In an email to a staffer at his business, Brownell described his trip as “an opportunity to be hosted in Russia to broaden our business opportunities … to introduce our company to the governing individuals throughout Russia.”

“The NRA directly facilitated Brownell’s effort to travel to Moscow early to explore business opportunities with Russian weapons manufacturers,” the report concludes.

Another member of the trip, NRA donor and then-Outdoor Channel CEO Jim Liberatore, told the Senate committee through his lawyer that his participation in the 2015 Moscow trip was “purely commercial.”

Wyden seeks IRS probe

Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said at the conclusion of his investigation that his staff had revealed information that shows that the National Rifle Association may have abused its tax-exempt status.

The next step, he says, is for the IRS to launch its own inquiry.

“The totality of evidence uncovered during my investigation, as well as the mounting evidence of rampant self-dealing, indicate the NRA may have violated tax laws,” Wyden said. “The IRS needs to examine these findings and investigate other publicly reported incidents of potential lawbreaking.”