He who must not be named: how Harry Potter helps make sense of Trump’s world

2 days ago

For fans of the wizard series, the new political order is Dumbledores army v President Voldemort. Is it merely a juvenile comparing or have JK Rowlings books shaped a generations thinking?

Every generation has its go-to pop-culture political analogy. For decades, it was Star Wars. Its easy to see how Reagans 80 s space-based weapons shield initiative earned its nickname, for example, but the reference has endured, to the extent that White House chief strategist Steve Bannon expressed his admiration for the dark side in a recent interview: Darkness is good. Dick Cheney, Darth Vader, Satan. Thats power. But one name was missing from that listing: Voldemort.

The Harry Potter villain has risen again over the past couple of years, as fans have described comparisons, often humorously, between a world under threat from a narcissistic tyrant and that of the Harry Potter volumes. In February, Bannon was the subject of a Buzzfeed quiz that asked, Who Told It: Steve Bannon or Lord Voldermort ?; it was harder than you might have thought. JK Rowlings readers have grown up at approximately the same pace as Harry, Ron and Hermione, and with its hundreds of millions of book marketings and the massive success of the movie adaptations, the series reach has been enormous.

What Harry Potter has given a generation is a simple narrative of good triumphing over evil, and, as a result, it has been a frequent and controversial point of reference in this time of political divisiveness. At the worldwide Womens Marches in January, there were plenty of homemade signs that indicated Princess Leia as the face of a new resistance, but there were as many Potter ones, such as Dumbledores army, inspirational quotes from the series and references to Hermiones role in Harrys survival. Perhaps these placards had been inspired by an outpouring of affection for the books following the US election in November, as people began to post quotes on Twitter. Order of the Phoenix, mount up, wrote Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. There is even a Chrome extension that changes any mention of Donald Trump or his cabinet to the name of a notable Death Eater. Install it, and your browser will instantly refer to Betsy DeVos as Dolores Umbridge, Jeff Sessions as Antonin Dolohov or Rex Tillerson as Draco Malfoy.

Placards
Placards at the Girl March in Washington DC. Photo: Patsy Lynch/ REX/ Shutterstock

I would have been nine or 10 when I started read it, tells Jamie MacColl, 26, the guitarist in Bombay Bicycle Club. Last year MacColl set up the campaign group Undivided, which aims to ensure young peoples voices are heard in Brexit negotiations, and he recently appeared on the BBC Question Time panel. I remember the craze to read each new volume within minutes of it coming out, and queueing up in the midst of the night at the bookshop to get it. He says that he can only think of their political or social message in light of JK Rowlings transparently left-leaning Twitter presence. I think she has a similar kind of politics to me. But one of the things that struck me at the time was that it didnt matter who you were. Hermione had no wizard blood and was by far the most capable.

The broad central message of the Potter volumes is diversity and acceptance of difference. As the characters grow older, and the books more complex and matured, the political the effects of not heeding this doctrine become darker and more imperil. The baddies insistence on the superiority of purebloods over mudbloods has overtones of ethnic cleansing; the Death Eaters are fascistic. It would be mean-spirited to spoil the carefully guarded plot of The Cursed Child for those with tickets to see it, but it is fair to say that there is plenty in the play that stimulates this association clear.

Its a lot of fun to update the references and see how Rowlings vision works for the current epoch. Throughout the series, the Ministry of Magic is full of incompetent, pervert, bumbling figures whose only ambition is to cling on to power. The press is untrustworthy and hysterical. In a magical premonition of phone-hacking, the journalist Rita Skeeter transforms herself into a beetle in order to report on details nobody else could know about. The Daily Prophet is often used as a marionette of the system in order to sway popular positions. About the recent Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Rowling told, I was partly inspired by the rise of populism around the world .~ ATAGEND The explanation of the anti-magic sentiment rippling through 1920 s New York in the film could be taken from Brexit Britain: When No-Majs[ American for muggle] are afraid, they attack.

Steve
Steve Bannon, who recently told: Darkness is good. Dick Cheney, Darth Vader, Satan. Thats power. Photo: REX/ Shutterstock

In 2013, Anthony Gierzynski, a prof of political science at the University of Vermont, published a study called Harry Potter and the Millennials: Research Methods and the Politics of the Muggle Generation, co-authored with Kathryn Eddy. It aimed to answer the question of whether the Harry Potter narrative had influenced the politics of millennials. In the introduction, Gierzynski discusses, with what now looks like quaint naivety, online comparings that at the time variously likened Voldemort to Rick Perry and Dick Cheney.

To say the political scenery has changed is an understatement, he tells me. We have a chairwoman whose rhetoric promotes intolerance and who fits the typical authoritarian personality. I would think the Harry Potter lessons are even more relevant today than they were for the 2012 election.

Rowling herself nodded to a Trump/ Voldemort comparison back in 2015, when Trump first proposed a ban on Muslims entering the US. How horrible. Voldemort was nowhere near even worse, she tweeted. The connect has been made by others, and often; there are countless memes comparing the president to He Who Must Not Be Named.( Intriguingly, when criticising Trump in recent speeches or interviews, celebrities such as Meryl Streep and Kristen Stewart have declined to address him by name, a stance shared with many US activists .)

In the case of Trump, Gierzynski indicates, a better reference point would be an incompetent Ministry of Magic, Cornelius Fudge-type figure. But he also points out that hurling names around is unlikely to be helpful in the long run. Calling anyone Voldemort is problematic in terms of the debate you might have. It shuts down the debate, he tells. If you have a discussion[ about] what happens with these kinds of leaders, and how this leads to an fanaticism of out groups that is where the value of the Harry Potter series is, to me. It can provide lessons about how you deal with that sort of injustice and intolerance.

In 2016, Diana Mutz, prof of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Institute for the Study of Citizens and Politics, published a paper called Harry Potter and the Deathly Donald, which cautiously was contended that reading Harry Potter or watching the movies lowered Americans opinions of Trump and his policies. Stories can sway peoples opinions; Harry Potter is just one that happens to have been read and viewed by a massive number of people. This stimulates it potentially more influential than most tales, she tells me by email. Fictional stories are more than simply analogies; they are a time-honoured style of influencing sentiments. Think of Uncle Toms Cabin and American attitudes towards slavery.

Michael
Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. Photograph: Warner Bros/ Sportsphoto/ Allstar

Like Gierzynski, Mutz suggests that the messages of tolerance and diversity in the Harry Potter world have influenced the beliefs of its readers, rather than reflecting an existing point of view. But she was surprised by the strength of the backlash she received upon publication of the paper. I have never received more hate mail than in response to this study; its a bit scary, to be honest. Clearly, people who like Donald Trump are uncomfortable with the studys findings, but with empirical data, you dont get to choose your findings. They are what they are, she says.( The current climate is so toxic that Gierzynski also expressed concern. Theres a bit of fear in our discourse. Usually, when I talk to journalists, I wouldnt worry, but these days I do .)

Trump advocates are not alone in criticising the use of Harry Potter as a political analogy. In a scathing post-election column for Esquire last November, Corey Atad wrote that even though he considers himself to be an enormous Harry Potter fan, he found the comparison of Trump to Voldemort, and the idea of an opposition that is Dumbledores army, to be repellent. In tweet after shameful tweet, intellectually and emotionally stunted adults sought to place the election of a fascistic president in terms they could easily understand, he wrote. The Huffington Post operated a narrative that called Trump/ Voldemort comparings inane and condescending, while Matthew Dessem, a writer for Slate, was similarly outraged: Are you fucking kidding me with this shit? … This is really happening.

All three pieces were written in the immediate aftermath of the election; the anger and anxiety is palpable and understandable. But the idea of using fictional narratives to understand and construe the world is as old as day; it is no coincidence that sales of Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Handmaids Tale have risen since November. If, as academics such as Mutz and Gierzynski argue, the Harry Potter series has created a generation of people who are more open-minded and tolerant of change owing to the books they read as children, then it seems far from juvenile and reductive.

Besides, there is little to suggest that tweeting a Dumbledore quote is as far as a Potter fan might take it. In June last year, Yeni Lopez Sleidi, the editor of the site wwwayward, attained posters of Donald Trump underneath a motivational quote: There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it. Potter fans may recognise these words as are subordinate to Professor Quirrell, recollecting what the Dark Lord taught him. Sleidi sold a number of posters to Trump advocates and donated the profits to Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, a charity that supports LGBTQ Latino communities. If the purchaser had put the posters on their walls and turned off the lightings, they would have found that their purchase had a secret: in the dark, Trump vanishes, to be replaced by a glowing green image of Voldemort. Now thats magic.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Chronicling homelessness: Amazon primes itself to work with shelter

4 days ago

One of the companys houses will host Marys Place, a Seattle homeless shelter but not everyone in the US is happy at the prospect of one next door to them

Until last week, the most famous build at the Amazon headquarters in Seattle was probably its giant glass-covered domes, which will house a botanical garden when complete. That may change with the companys announcement that in three years one of its houses will host a homeless shelter, Marys Place. Amazon employees and Marys Place residents will move in together in early 2020, CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

Outside in America

The national conversation about homelessness this month has been inflected by talk of big new projects such as shelters, and predictably not everyone is happy at the prospect of one next door. Salt Lake City residents, for instance, have been embroiled in a rancorous debate over the location of three new ones. San Francisco, meanwhile, is celebrating a $100 m pledge to combat chronic homelessness, and one of its own shelters is enjoying a surprisingly positive reception.

I actually am a Yimby, a San Francisco resident named Mc Allen told me lately, the Yes In My Back Yard moniker signifying a development-friendly stance.( His first name, by the way, is pronounced Mac ). Allen was referring to a shelter that is due to be built in the citys bayside Dogpatch neighborhood, where he lives, and where members of a local neighborhood association voted 24 -6 in favor of it. You have to be utterly blind not to know that San Francisco is a long, long way from gratifying its responsibility for people who are experiencing homelessness, he said. Greeting the shelter is his route of contributing. On this, at least, he might agree with Amazon.

Follow me on Twitter for our latest narratives: @alastairgee.

What we wrote

They dress up as superheroes or villains and pose for tips, but some of the characters showboating in Hollywood are grappling with homelessness. Our film and story. Is San Diego Americas finest city or a tableau of squalor and suffering? Hes homeless. Hes in jail. Hes the only Democratic candidate for governor of Idaho. Kevin Reed once soared high on the California surf scene but lately became embroiled in an inquiry concerning the death of a homeless man. A $100 m pledge to fight chronic homelessness in San Francisco is the largest gift of its kind to the city. Las Vegas is said to be a last-chance city for last-chance people but will they survive its luxury makeover ? Adi Sambamurthy movies Tyler Watts, aka the Joker, on Hollywood Boulevard. Photograph: Alastair Gee for the Guardian A legendary homelessness activist with a controversial past, Michael Stoops, has died.[ Willamette Week] An Oregon homeless youth organization apologize after repudiating a $3,000 gift from the Portland Gay Mens Chorus.[ Mail Tribune] In Utah, meanwhile, a monastery is closing after 70 years and the monks have donated $400,000 derived partly from gains from selling bread and honey to a homeless shelter.[ Standard-Examiner] A its consideration of the intriguing entries for a tournament awarding a free apartment for a year.[ Seattle Times] A homeless man passes away in Salt Lake City, and a woman decides to bringing him home.[ Deseret News] Low pay+ high housing expenses= one homeless math educator.[ San Francisco Chronicle] And this months most bizarre article: Can I Taser a homeless man sleeping on my porch?[ Reno Gazette-Journal] Svend Petersen at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Photograph: Politenes of Svend Petersen

Why do people dislike Hillary Clinton? The tale runs far back

10 days ago

A sense of untrustworthiness has haunted the Democrat this election, but the roots of hostility against her are much deeper

There is and perhaps there always will be a dedicated group of people who dont know Hillary Clinton personally, but nonetheless hate her.

Whether they are truly a vast rightwing conspiracy( as Clinton called them in 1998) or just many in number and conservative in outlook, theres no arguing that they exist or that they continue to try to influence public opinion on the Democratic nominee.

But even if people consider themselves savvy enough to repudiate the strangest conspiracy theories( sample asserts include that she is a mass-murderer, a closeted lesbian faking her 40 -year marriage, a member of the Illuminati and/ or an agent of the devil himself ), there seems little doubt that an undercurrent of hatred spanning decades has had an impact upon how she is viewed.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Dallas grieves at first funerals after shooting: ‘Hate has made us stronger’

11 days ago

Services were held on Wednesday for Brent Thompson, who served in the citys transit system police department, Sgt Michael Smith and Sr Cpl Lorne Ahrens

The first funeral for the five police officers killed last Thursday in Dallas mourned the loss of Brent Thompson, who served in the citys transit system police department.

Services were also held on Wednesday for Dallas police Sgt Michael Smith and Dallas police Sr Cpl Lorne Ahrens. Dallas police officer Michael Krols funeral is set for Friday, and Dallas police officer Patrick Zamarripas funeral will be held on Saturday. All five were killed by a sniper during a procession to protest recent fatal shootings of black humen in Minnesota and Louisiana by police.

Thompsons death marked the first killing of a Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer since its inception in 1989.

We mourned his loss, we honor his gallantry, the Dart chief, James Spiller, told a crowd of hundreds of officers from departments around the city and as far as Canada and England, at the Potters House church.

The Dart department has received much less attention than the far larger Dallas city police department, in the aftermath of the shooting. It is one of the largest police departments in the state, though, with a mandate to protect the citys rail and bus system.

Forty-three-year-old Thompsons life and death exemplified the capricious nature of violence and murder.

He was a US marine, and had participated in the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan and Iraq, where he survived a bombing that left him deaf in his right ear.

He returned to Dallas where he settled into a life of law enforcement, running his way up from a local incarcerate to a school police department to the Dart force. Just two weeks before the shooting, he marriage a fellow Dart officer, Emily. She filed their wedding credential at the county clerks office the morning Thompson succumbed.

The funeral was simple. Thompsons casket lay at the front of the sanctuary, draped in an American flag and accompanied by a photo of the policeman.

His wife approached the pulpit with her police partner at her side, just in case I cant make it through and need backup, she told.

Yes, this act of violence hurt law enforcement, she told the crowd. But to the coward who tried to break me and my brothers and sisters know that your loathe has induced us stronger.

Gunman Micah Johnson was killed when authorities used a robot to detonate an explosive as negotiations faltered. Nine policemen and two civilians were injured in the attack.

In an emotional moment, Thompsons six children from a previous wedding, all young adults, took the stage. They spoke of how hard their parent run, often at two jobs, to support them.

One of his four daughters, Sandy, repeated the line she had told him each day for years as he left home for work: Goodbye Daddy, we love you. Be safe.

After the service, police officers from throughout Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, perimeter patrol and elsewhere stood and saluted as Thompsons casket left the church, and headed toward his burial site in Corsicana, Texas, an hour south of Dallas.

Also on Wednesday, a few hundred mourners gathered for a Catholic funeral service in the suburbium of Farmers Branch for Smith, a former US army ranger known for his upbeat attitude and compassionate approach to others.

Smith joined the Dallas police force in 1989. He once received a Cops Cop award from the Dallas Police Association.

A public service was scheduled on Thursday for Smith at a Dallas church where he worked security.

In the Dallas suburb of Plano, mourners were told of Ahrens work with the Los Angeles county sheriffs department and time as semi-pro football player before moving to Texas and joining the Dallas police force. Ahrens was known as a gentle giant and a voracious reader, whose intelligence was equal to his size.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Up to 100 gravestones vandalized at Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia

12 days ago

Police tell 75 -1 00 headstones desecrated at Mount Carmel Cemetery as Israeli foreign ministry calls attack shocking and information sources of worry

Police said on Sunday that more than 100 headstones had been vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia.

A man visiting Mount Carmel Cemetery in the Wissinoming section of the city called police at 9.40 am on Sunday to report that three of his relatives headstones had been knocked over and damaged.

The cemetery was inspected and approximately 100 additional headstones were found to be knocked over apparently sometime after dark Saturday, a police spokesperson said in a statement.

A criminal mischief-institutional vandalism investigation will be conducted by the police north-east sleuths division, she said.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia lists Mount Carmel as a Jewish cemetery in the north-eastern part of the city.

The damage arrived less than a week after a Jewish cemetery in suburban St Louis reported more than 150 headstones vandalized, many of them tipped over.

After the vandalism in Missouri, Governor Eric Greitens wrote in a Facebook post: Anyone who would seek to divide us through an act of desecration will find instead that they unite us in shared determination. From their pitiful act of ugliness, we are capable of emerge even more powerful in our faith.

The Missouri incident prompted a response from Donald Trump, who had been criticised by Jewish groups and political opponents for a lack of comment on an increase in menaces against Jewish community centers around the US and a White House statement to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day which did not mention Jews or Judaism.

Hillary Clintons presidential operate mate, the Virginia senator Tim Kaine, likened that omission to Holocaust refusal.

Speaking at the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Tuesday, Trump said: Antisemitism is horrible and its going to stop and it has to stop.

The antisemitic menaces targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are a painful and a very sad reminder of the run that still must be done to root out detest and racism and evil.

Trump said he would speak out against antisemitism whenever I get a chance.

Vice-President Mike Pence also condemned this vile act of vandalism and those who perpetrate it in the strongest possible terms after the Missouri incident.

Questions considering Trumps attitude to antisemitism and possible antisemitic positions among his aides and supporters have persisted since he announced his run for the White House.

During the campaign, Trump attracted criticism for tweeting an alleged antisemitic image he denied any intent to do so but deleted and replaced the image in question and operating ads that critics told hired timeworn antisemitic tropes.

Some observers pointed to the influence of advisers including campaign chairman and now senior White House counsel Steve Bannon, the former head of the alt-right Brietbart website who was accused by his ex-wife of making antisemitic statements, an accusation he denied.

Trumps son-in-law and senior consultant Jared Kushner is Jewish. The chairwomen daughter, Ivanka, converted when she marriage.

In Philadelphia, Aaron Mallin told WPVI-TV that he discovered the damage when he went to visit his fathers grave. He called it very disheartening and said he hoped it wasnt intended as an antisemitic attack.

Im hoping it was perhaps just some drunk children, he said. But the fact that theres so many, it results one to think it could have been targeted.

An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, called the damage is available in Philadelphia shocking and information sources of fret, although he added that he had every confidence that authorities in the US would be able to catch and punish those responsible.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

What Trump did this week: Jerusalem triggers ire as Mueller follows the money

17 days ago

Trump announced US recognition of Jerusalem as Israels capital, as it emerged Deutsche Bank has provided Mueller with bank the recording of Trump affiliates

As the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration approaches, the president seems keen to get points on the members of the security council in ways that don’t involve the interminable compromises and reversals of Congress- last week’s tax vote in the Senate notwithstanding. This week, he outraged liberals on a number of fronts where he has unilateral power, with moves on national monuments and the status of Jerusalem and full-throated backing for controversial Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Last weekend

‘It
‘ It was his tweets about Flynn that landed him in trouble .’ Photograph: Evan Vucci/ AP

Following his former national security consultant Michael Flynn’s guilty plea in the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling with the 2016 election, Trump went on a Twitter tear. The chairwoman lashed out at a San Francisco court‘s” miscarriage of justice “; the FBI (” its reputation is in Tatters – worst in History !”); an agent who was removed from Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation squad because of anti-Trump text (” Now it all starts to make sense !”); a suspended ABC News reporter (” False and Dishonest “); and of course perennial targets Hillary Clinton and” the’ Justice’ Department “.

Timeline

The key events in the Trump-Russia investigation

2015

GCHQ advises US intelligence

Britain’s spy agency GCHQ becomes aware of suspicious “interactions” between people with Trump ties and Russian intelligence operatives. In late 2015, GCHQ cautions US intelligence.

10 March 2016

Hacking and ‘influence campaign’

The first phishing emails begin to hit Democratic someones( the Democratic National Committee having been hacked months earlier ). Hundreds or thousands of impostor accounts appear on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

31 March 2016

Trump foreign policy meeting

Trump is told about the Russian contacts of at least one aide, and Jeff Sessions shoots down a possible Trump-Putin meeting, according to multiple people present. Later Trump and Sessions repeatedly deny there had ever been such contacts by anyone in the campaign with Russian operatives.

9 June 2016

Trump tower session

Top Trump campaign advisers including Donald Trump Jr meet at Trump Tower with Russian spies, having been promised “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary.” A Russian present says sanctions were discussed.

18 July 2016

Republican national convention

The convention convenes in Cleveland, Ohio. Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak attends. Top Trump campaign aides vociferously deny contacts with Russian spies. WikiLeaks releases 44,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee.

September 2016

Publication of emails

Across the Fall, outlets including WikiLeaks, Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks publish tens of thousands of emails stolen from Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

September 2016

The Facebook campaign

As Russian impostor accounts spread divisive propaganda throughout social media over the Fall, the Trump campaign experiments aggressively with micro-targeting on Facebook, making on an “average day” 50,000 -6 0,000 ads, according to former digital director Brad Parscale

September 2016

Contacts and refusals

Top Trump campaign aides Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner and others have dozens of contacts with Russian spies that are repeatedly denied in public across the Fall. “It never happened, ” a campaign spokeswoman said two days after the election.” There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”

8 November 2016

Trump elected

Donald Trump is elected president of the United States.

December 2016- January 2017

Presidential transition

Trump aides keep up the relations with Russian operatives in the case of policy and appear to hide those dialogues from the US government and public. Michael Flynn lied to the FBI about the conversations, then later admitted that Jared Kushner had directed him to seek certain policy commitments from the Russian ambassador.

9 May 2017

James Comey fired

Trump fires the FBI director.” When I decided to only do it, I said to myself, I told ‘you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story’, ” Trump tells an interviewer two days later.

Thank you for your feedback.

But it was his tweets about Flynn that landed him in difficulty. A claim that” I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI” opened the president to accusations that Trump knew Flynn lied to the FBI( international crimes) where reference is asked former FBI director James Comey to go easy on him, something that would strengthen any case of blockage of justice. The next day, Trump renewed his denial that he ever stimulated that request of Comey and his lawyer John Dowd claimed– to some scepticism– that he had been the one who wrote the offending tweet.

Whether or not that was true, on Sunday Trump suffered a blow in his recent reported tries to cast doubt on the authenticity of the notorious 2005 Access Hollywood” grab them by the pussy” tape that nearly derailed his campaign. Writing in the New York Times, Billy Bush, the other voice on the tape, stated bluntly:” Of course he said it .”

Monday

Beverly
Beverly Young Nelson, pictured with her yearbook, accused Roy Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16. Photo: Tami Chappell/ AFP/ Getty Images

Trump made it crystal clear he was endorsing Moore in next week’s Alabama Senate election, presenting a voted in favour of the Republican- who denies accusations of sexual harassment including one involving a 14 -year-old girl- as crucial for the GOP agenda. He then phoned Moore to tell him:” Go get’ em, Roy !” Trump has also been accused of sex misconduct by numerous girls, and also denies the accusations.

The same day, the president travelled to Utah to announce the dramatic shrink of two national monuments- the biggest elimination of public lands protection in US history.

Tuesday

Robert
Robert Mueller in Washington. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/ AP

It emerged that Deutsche Bank has provided special advise Mueller with bank records of Trump affiliates. In July, Trump said he would consider it a red line if Mueller started analyzing his or his family’s finances.” I think that’s a violation ,” he said.

Wednesday

Protest
Protest outside the American embassy in London against US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Photograph: Barritt/ REX/ Shutterstock

In the teeth of vociferous opponent around the globe, Trump announced US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. International critics said the status of the city- half of which is claimed by the Palestinians as their own capital- should be left to peace negotiations. Trump pledged to induce the change on the campaign trail, pleasing pro-Israel conservatives, evangelical Christians whose theological beliefs involve backing the Jewish country, and some parts of the US Jewish community, including Sheldon Adelson, a donor who gave Trump millions in 2016.

Play Video
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Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops in West Bank- video

An attempt by some Democrats to start impeachment proceedings against Trump was voted down in the House. Despite pressure from liberal activists for congressional Democrats to push for impeachment, they are reluctant to do so before Mueller finishes police investigations, for dread of jumping the gun, and are also conscious that any impeachment process might actually bolster is supportive of Trump, as it seemed to with Bill Clinton. Impeachment requires a majority of the House and two thirds of the Senate to pass- something vanishingly unlikely while Republican are in charge of both.

Thursday

Melania
Melania and Donald Trump attend a Hanukkah reception at the White House. Photo: Drew Angerer/ Getty Images

A fairly quiet day for Trump ensure him mark the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack that led to the US’s entry into the second world war, celebrate his Jerusalem decision at the White House Hanukkah party … and make one of his occasional forays into arts criticism.” Go get the new volume on Andrew Jackson by Brian Kilmeade … Really good ,” he tweeted, adding, presumably to indicate his source: “@ foxandfriends “.

Friday

CNN was forced into an embarrassing climbdown after getting a key date incorrect in a narrative reporting that an encryption key to unlock hacked material was emailed to Trump and his son two months before the presidential election. Donald Trump Jr was quick to demand a retraction, which he got. It must have been fulfilling for the first son after he attracted ridicule earlier in the week, when he quoth attorney-client privilege in refusing to discuss with lawmakers dialogues he had with his father regarding his controversial 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

” If you’re Bob Mueller and you get an interview of Donald Trump Jr, this is going to be one of the three or four main topics in your outline ,” said Andy Wright, a former White House associate attorney under Barack Obama.” Like at the Roman numeral level .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Family and neighbours describe Virginia shooter: reclusive with a violent past

17 days ago

People in Belleville, Illinois who knew James Hodgkinson, the man who opened fire on a congressional baseball practise, say he was aloof with firm political views

Behind an immaculately kept lawn and a neat gravel pathway, the unassuming two-storey house almost seemed like any other along the lane in Belleville, Illinois. If it werent for the FBI agents, who had been parked outside for 24 hours, and the smaller army of reporters camped on the roadside , none of the neighbours would have assumed anything untoward.

The homeowner, James Hodgkinson, kept himself to himself, told a 59 -year-old next-door neighbour who did not want to be named. In the 20 years Hodgkinson had lived only two homes from William Schaumleffel, the two men had never spoken. Hodgkinson didnt wave back when Schaumleffel, 77, would greet him on occasion. It was odd, thought Schaumleffel, but some people like their privacy.

William
William Schaumleffel and his wife Carmen, who live two houses away from Hodgkinsons home. Photo: Oliver Laughland for the Guardian

On Wednesday, Hodgkinson opened fire on a Republican congressional baseball practice in Virginia, critically injuring senior GOP congressman Steve Scalise and three others, and later dying of his injuries. As the 66 year-old joined the increasingly long listing of Americans involved in barbaric acts of mass firearm violence, the shooting reinvigorated the conversation about the tenor of debate in US politics after it emerged Hodgkinson likely intentionally targeted the politicians due to their political party. He had also articulated ardent criticism of Donald Trumps election victory on social media.

As Sue Hodgkinson, the 64 -year-old widow of the gunman, emerged from her home to face the press for the first time since the two attacks, clutching the arms of a St Clair County deputy sheriff in the intense humidity, she was unable to offer much insight into what might have motivated her husband to carry out such an act of brutality.

Sue
Sue Hodgkinson, under escort with the St Clair County sheriffs office. Photograph: Oliver Laughland for the Guardian

I merely dont know what I want to tell you people, she told, her voice cracking and her small frame nearly dwarfed by the microphone stand in front of her. I had no idea this was going to happen and I dont know what to say about it. I cant wrap my head around it.

A blurred picture of the shooters background and potential motive has begun to emerge following interviews with neighbours and family members that corroborated his violent past, staunch political views and reclusive nature.

Belleville,
Photograph: Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

Hodgkinson, who also went by the name Tom, had left the property in Belleville in late March after selling his local home inspection business and other assets. He told his wife he had gone to Washington to work with people to change taxation brackets and never returned.

The 66 -year-old had long advocated for tax reform, writing letters to the local paper, between 2008 and 2012, in which he argued against Reagan-era economics and advocated for the legalization of cannabis. In 2011 he attended a local Occupy Wall Street protest and told a Tv news crew: The 99% are get pushed around and the 1% are just not giving a damn.

St Clair County, where Belleville is the largest city, has for decades voted for Democrat, although the margins are nowhere near as large as they are further north in Chicago. The divisive nature of the 2016 campaign was felt no more acutely here than anywhere else in the country, and residents along Hodgkinsons lane said there was little discussion of politics throughout 2016. We didnt talking here politics or religion. People got their own beliefs and thats their right, said the next-door neighbour, who openly identified as a conservative.

Local progressive activist groups too said they had never encountered the gunman previously, and the extent of his volunteering for the Bernie Sanders campaign in the 2016 Democratic primary remains unclear.

Toxic masculinity and white privilege are the underlying themes of so many incidents like these, told Stuart Keating, a spokesman for the Democratic Socialists of America St Louis chapter, which represents members in Belleville. Until we address the systemic cause of incidents like these, we are not likely to see a reduction in such violence.

An employee at the district committee said they had never seen him attend local government sessions and the largest firearm store in township, Metro Shooting Supplies, told Hodgkinson was not a customer and had never used their firing range.

Those closer to Hodgkinson said he exhibited little interest in others, even those in his own family, and he remained reclusive during rare social gatherings.

He was kind of aloof, he wasnt friendly, told Victoria Knepper, whose foster son marriage Hodgkinsons foster daughter, Tasha, two years ago.( Another of Hodgkinsons foster daughters, Wanda Ashley Stock, killed herself at 17 in 1996, according to the Belleville News-Democrat .) I voted for Trump, so Im sure I would have got an earful if he knew, she said. But he didnt. He never talked about that[ politics ].

Victoria
Victoria Knepper. Photograph: Oliver Laughland for the Guardian

Knepper said the gunman would often sit alone in another room in front of a computer or in his garden shed during household collects.

He was not present at his promote daughters marriage and wasnt a very big father figure.

It was largely Sue wanting to adopt and he just went along with it, Knepper told.

In 2006 Hodgkinson was arrested for domestic assault and discharging a pistol after reportedly beating his foster daughter and two of her friends. The police report said he threw her around a room, pulled on her hair and reached her. He then fired a shotgun round as her friends ran away. The charges were later rejected.

According to a recent analysis of mass shootings between 2009 and 2016, defined as events where four or more people are shot and killed, 42% of shooters exhibited red flag like this. Although the two attacks in Virginia was not domestic violence, 54% of mass shootings were somehow related to family or domestic violence cases.

Tasha, and her two-year-old son, had recently moved back into the family home after her marriage broke down. At the press conference outside the house in Belleville, Sue Hodgkinson said the stress of the move-in may also have prompted her husband to leave.

He was home all day long and he just wanted a violate, she told.

Immediately after Hodgkinson was named as the shooter, his wife Sue sent Knepper a text.

She said: I knew I had lost him. But now Ive truly lost him.

Just days before he left for Washington in March, police were called to his home after Schaumleffel reported he had been firing dozens of rounds from a high powered pistol out in his yard. He had pointed his weapon out towards a wooded area and the shoots rang out across the lane.

Schaumleffels two young grandchildren were playing close by in the yard and he rushed them inside after Hodgkinson did not stop firing.

I yelled at him, I told: dont shoot over there, theres homes on the other side of the trees. But you know he didnt act like hed even heard me, Schaumleffel recollected. According to a police report Hodgkinson was found to have a valid handgun license but was told not to fire into the wooded region again.

It was the first and last interaction Schaumleffel and his neighbour would ever have.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Kevin Durant spurns Trump as squads vow to fund Confederate statue removal

18 days ago

Kevin Durant is the latest athletics starring to disassociate himself from Donald Trump

Kevin Durant is the latest sports starring to disassociate himself from Donald Trump.

The NBA finals MVP said he will not join his team-mates should the Golden State Warriors visit the White House to celebrate their championship win earlier this year. Nah, I wont do that, Durant told ESPN. I dont respect whos in office right now.

On Tuesday, the NBAs biggest superstar, LeBron James, took a swipe at Trump, describing him as a so-called chairwoman who has constructed abhor fashionable. This week Trump has been sharply denouncedfor defending some of the far-right marchers involved in the recent violence in Charlottesville, telling: Not all of those people were neo-Nazis , not all of those people were white supremacists.

On Saturday, a woman was killed after a vehicle was intentionally driven into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters in Charlottesville.

Teams traditionally visit the White House after a championship victory, although the Warriors have yet to receive a formal invitation. There have been rumors Golden State will boycott the ceremony. The teams coach-and-four, Steve Kerr, has been critical of Trump in the past.

I dont agree with what[ Trump] agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that, said Durant, who added he did not speak for his squad. Thats only me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, theyll all agree with me.

Durant said he has no doubt that Trump is having a negative effect on race relations in the US. Hes definitely driving it, Durant told. I feel ever since hes got into office, or since he ran for the presidency, our country has been so divided and its not a coincidence. When[ Barack] Obama was in office, things were appearing up. We had so much hope in our communities where I come from because we had a black president, and that was a first.

So, to see that, and to be where we are now, it merely felt like we took a turning for the worse, man. It all comes from who is in the administration. It comes from the top leadership trickles down to the rest of us. So, you know, if we have person in office that doesnt care about all people, then we wont go anywhere as a country. In my views, until we get him out of here, we wont insure any progress.

The violence in Charlottesville came after white supremacists gathered to protest the removal of a statue of the Confederate general Robert E Lee. On Thursday, Trump condemned the removal of such beautiful statues and monuments. Some professional sports team disagree: on Thursday, Tampa, Floridas teams the Lightning( NHL ), the Rays( MLB) and the Buccaneers( NFL) said they would help fund the removal of a Confederate statue that stands in front of the local courthouse.

Tampa Bay Lightning (@ TBLightning)

A joint statement from us, @raysbaseball,& @tbbuccaneers regarding the movement to remove the Confederate monument from downtown Tampa. pic.twitter.com/ U87JQsYXO4

August 17, 2017

Also on Thursday, another squad built steps to break with its past. The Boston Red Sox principal owner, John henry, said the team would lead efforts to rename Yawkey Way, on which Fenway Park stands. The street is named for Tom Yawkey, owned of the team from 1933 until his death in 1976. During his tenure, Yawkey earned a reputation for represent one of the most racist figures in baseball. His beliefs were the main reason why the Red Sox were the last of the pre-expansion MLB clubs to accept black players. They did not have an African American player until calling up Pumpsie Green in 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson violated major league baseballs color line.

The Red Sox dont control the naming or renaming of streets, Henry told the Boston Herald in an email. But for me, personally, the street name has always been a consistent reminder that it is our job to ensure the Red Sox are not just multi-cultural, but stand for as many of the right things in our community as we can particularly in our African American community and in the Dominican community that has embraced us so fully.

Professional sports in the US have insured a number of protests over the past year. Colin Kaepernick and Michael Bennett are among the NFL players to have sat out the national anthem in protest at racial injustice in the US. Durant paid tribute to their efforts on Thursday. As far as whats going on in our country, for one as canadian athletes, you have to commend Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, CP3[ Chris Paul ], Dwyane Wade for starting that dialogue last year. Russell Westbrook also said something … A lot of guys with platforms have drove the conversation in a good direction. And whats going on in Charlottesville, that was unfathomable.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Rod Rosenstein: ‘honorable’ US attorney poised to be next Russia investigator

27 days ago

With Jeff Sessions recusal, the widely admired nominee for deputy attorney general could be dropped into the thick of the Trump administration controversy

As a young justice department lawyer, Rod Rosenstein was tapped to join Kenneth Starrs Whitewater investigation into Bill and Hillary Clintons real estate dealings. He depicted an uncommon ability with public corruption occurrences, demonstrating a wisdom and sensitivity beyond his years, his supervisors told.

Now Rosenstein, who induced his reputation as a competent, apolitical US attorney who served both Bush and Obama, may investigate another chairpeople ties to an even more high-profile scandal.

The us attorney general, Jeff Sessions, pledged on Thursday he would recuse himself from supervising any investigations of Russias role in the 2016 election. I should not be involved in investigating a campaign I had a role in, he said, a decision that came as bipartisan pressure from Congress over his failure to disclose two meetings with Russias ambassador during the election year.

Sessions recusal could immediately set Rosenstein into a much higher-profile position than he might have imagined when he was nominated to serve as deputy us attorney general. If corroborated, he would supervise any justice department investigation into Russian interference in the election including any contacts between Russia and members of the Trump campaign.

Rosenstein, who is currently the US attorney in Maryland, was a surprising option to serve as the No 2 official in Trumps justice department, told Philip Heymann, who was Rosensteins law professor at Harvard, and later his boss in the Clinton justice department. Rosenstein has served in the Department of Justice for 26 years, including in the tax division, the public integrity segment, and as an assistant US attorney in Maryland.

Rosenstein is a skilled prosecutor and a straight shooter, with a deep knowledge of the day-to-day runs of the department, but he did not seem especially close to either Sessions or Trump, Heymann told.

It surprises me that they didnt pick somebody who was more partisan, he said.

James Cole, who served for four years as Eric Holders deputy attorney general, also offered unqualified praise for Rosensteins skill and credibility.

He doesnt make any decisions that either are or appear to be political, he told.

Questions on the Russia investigation are likely to be at the center of Rosensteins confirmation hearing on Tuesday. He declined to comment.

Some observers have noted that during the Nixon administration, Senate Democrat used the confirmation process of Nixons us attorney general picking, Elliot Richardson, as leveraging and refused to confirm him for the job until he named a special prosecutor to supervise the Watergate investigation. Senate Democrat could take a similar approach to Rosensteins confirmation and demand a special prosecutor on Russias interference in the 2016 election, the Intercept suggested on Thursday.

On Sunday night, Richard Blumenthal, one of the Democrat on the Senate judiciary committee, vowed on Twitter that he would use every possible tool to block DOJ Deputy AG nominee unless he commits to appoint[ an] independent special prosecutor.

Heymann said both Democrats and Republican would trust Rosenstein and that he was the perfect person to oversee an investigation into Russias interference in the US election an issue both Democrats and Trump have framed, in different ways, as an inquiry that strikes at the heart of Trumps legitimacy as chairperson.

I think were very lucky to have him in that stance, he said.

In February, the Baltimore Sun, Rosensteins hometown paper, called him an honorable public servant with wide bipartisan supporting who was too good to sell his soul by taking a task in the Trump administration.

Just dont go there. Say no to President Trump, a member of the Sunshine editorial committee advised Rosenstein in an open letter.

Former colleagues praised Rosensteins restraint. He understands that the justice departments role is to do justice rather than bring instances, told Steve Levin, a former federal prosecutor who worked for Rosenstein in Baltimore. Even as he rose into a politically appointed stance, he maintained the approach and the attitude of a career attorney, Levin said.

He is very professional and very determined to be the best prosecutor that he can be and he doesnt take that to entail the most aggressive prosecutor, Heymann said.

Heymann, a longtime justice department official, worked with the Watergate prosecutor, Archibald, Cox on the investigation that led to Nixons resignation, and was also part of investigations into Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. He said Rosensteins lack of a close relationship with Trump or Sessions could, paradoxically, induce his job supervising any investigation of Russian interference harder.

I think hes in an extremely challenging position. Ive learned over many, many years its easier to be independent if youre a close friend of the chairman than if youre not, he said, explaining the importance of having a presidents trust. I would anticipate that the White House would be very worried about anybody that they didnt are familiar.

As Marylands US attorney, Levin told, Rosenstein has gone after corrupt police officers and prison guards as well as violent gang members. This week, his office announced the arrest of 7 Baltimore police officer for racketeering.

Rosenstein has also worked to crack down on national security leaks, announcing charges last fall in a high-profile lawsuit against a National Security Agency contractor for stealing classified information.

In response to questions about Russias interference in the election he won, Trump has repeatedly was contended that the real scandal is not the endeavor of a foreign power to sway an American election, but “the member states national” security leaks that have made new slants of the questions populace.

Rosensteins predecessor as US attorney in Maryland triggered grievances that he was unfairly targeting Democrat in public corruption examples using his office as a political weapon. Rosenstein brought more stability to the office. When he has gone after public officials as US attorney, he did it an even-handed and a fair way, told Cole, the Obama justice official.

The deputy us attorney general is the justice departments chief operation officer, with broad officials responsible for overseeing litigation, crime-fighting strategy, and the federal governments national security policy. If confirmed, he will end up in the situation room a lot, Cole said.

During his confirmation hearing, Sessions built no mention of the two meetings he had with Russias ambassador during the election year, even when asked directly if he had been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election. Saying the prosecutor general appeared to have lied under oath, some Democrats are continuing to demand that he resign. Sessions said that he should have mentioned the meetings with diplomat Sergey Kislyak, but that he did not recall any specific political discussions.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Goodbye, Edie Windsor. Thank you for never giving up | Steven W Thrasher

29 days ago

Edith Windsor, the LGBT rights icon, packed more into her last decade of life than many people do in a lifetime. She will be sorely missed

Edith ” Edie ” Windsor, the lesbian widow who vanquished the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, has died at persons under the age of 88. She packed more into her last decade of life than many people do in a lifetime.

In 2010, she fought back when she got a $363,000 tax bill after her wife died- a bill she wouldn’t have received had she been married to a human. She pressed on even after the big gay rights organizations told her it was too soon to demand full wedding equality. I admire these incredible achievements. I also admire her personality: she was a wickedly funny, sharp-tongued interviewee every time I interviewed her over the years.

When she won her first victory in federal district tribunal, Edie vowed to take her case all the way to the supreme court. The Obama administration had decided to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, but, in a rare move, House Speaker John Boehner decided to defend it in his stead.

I asked Edie at a press conference what she’d say to Boehner, a Republican who hated almost every taxation he ever insure, but who was willing to spend millions in legal fees to hold on to the $363,000 he’d taken from an octogenarian widow.

” I guess I’d rather not talk to him ,” she said with her characteristic humor, making a room full of reporters explode in laughter.

Later, when I asked her one-on-one how she felt experiencing this history without her late wife, Thea Spyer, she answered:” It hurts a lot. I’m glad that I ever had the heroism to sue the governmental forces … I’ve lived through some terrible pain. Do I still love her? Yes. My house is full of pictures of her, including a couple full size. What happened is, the combined effects of the cinema, and the suit, kind of gave me a reason to live after she died.

” Because I’m an old lady! I am going to be 83 this month. And we had a nice life, and it was enough, and that was kind of my impression before the film, and then before the suit. My purpose now is this, and I’ve kind of fallen in love with the whole homosexual community , no question. So I want everybody to profit from this .”

The next time I interviewed Edie was when her lawsuit was before the second circuit court of appeals. At that phase, she wondered if she was going to live long enough to see her example resolved.

But live she did! In late June of 2013, the supreme court ruled in her favor in Windsor v the United States- returning her $363,000( with interest) and widely expanding the scope of same-sex wedding equality. Perhaps that was when Edie gave me her greatest answer, when I asked:” Ms Windsor, you can probably answer this better than anyone in America right now. What is love ?”

” Love is a million things ,” she said, after a long intermission on global Tv without nothing but the voice of camera shutters clicking.” What was love with me and Thea? It started with tremendous respect for one another, and two mantras. Mine was’ Don’t postpone joy ,’ and Thea’s was,’ Keep it hot !'”

Again, she reduced a room full of reporters to laughter, adding:” Of course, love is much more than that … It’s like the word marriage – it’s magical. It’s hard .” She then proceeded, from memory, to recite” a hunk of a lyric by Auden” that described love to her: “‘ For now I have the answer from the face/ That never will go back into a book/ But asks for all my life, and is the place/ Where all I touch is moved to an espouse/ And there is no such thing as a vain appear .'”

Edie didn’t give up after her victory. She was a fixture at marches and events for homeless LGBT kids, lesbian rights and violence against queer people. She fell in love and married again a year ago. She was a model of what it means to be an engaged citizen. What a life. Thank you, Edie.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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