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.
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.
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.
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 .”
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.
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.
‘Yes we did’: Barack Obama lifts America one last time in emotional parting
1 month, 7 days ago
Outgoing president devotes proud account of his eight years in office and pays moving tribute to Michelle, spouse, mom of my children and best friend
Yes we are capable of, he said one last hour. Yes we did. And the crowd roared.
Barack Obama the son of a Kenyan goat herder and self-described skinny child with a funny name who grew up to become Americas first black chairman had come to say goodbye.
But while for most of the past eight years it had seemed this night would be one of elation and nostalgia , now it came with a sober note, laden with omens and warns about a republic under siege.
Obama had hoped to be talking about passing on the baton to fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton. Instead Donald Trumps stunning victory implied an existential threat and called for him to paint on a bigger canvas. In a nation of our democracy speech he deftly concentrated his flame not on the president-elect but on the malaise that produced him. In 4,300 terms he only mentioned Trump by name once but delivered much by way of repudiation.
Obama rejected talk of post-racial America, in vogue after his own ascending in 2008, as unrealistic. He defended the rights of immigrants and Muslim Americans. He lambasted the individuals who refuse to accept the science of climate change. He warned of the threat posed by the rise of naked partisanship, with people retreating into their own self-confirming bubbles.
There was not, perhaps, the penetrating feeling of Obamas greatest speeches. But when he came to thank his wife, Michelle, for standing by him through it all, an eulogy that prompted one of the biggest cheers of the night, he wept.
They were back in their home city, Chicago, albeit in the unromantic surrounds of a dark and cavernous convention dormitory with giant US flag, presidential seal and TV screens. The make-up of the audience male and female, young and old, diverse in race and religion was itself a statement about who he was and what he stood for. They cheered and roared and whistled, rising in a wall of human noise, holding his memory tight.
Every day I learned from you, Obama told the audience. You built me a better chairperson and you attained me a better man.
My son had finished two years working in the White House( as associate White House counsel and special assistant to the president) and he and his family and my wife and I were invited to the Oval Office for a private conference and photo-op with the president. Obama was in the midst of negotiating the accord with Iran. My wife and I were just back from visiting Iran, and she told the president how much the Iranian people liked Americans. Oh, you were in Tehran? the president asked. I answered, And also in Shiraz, other cities and even in Natanz, just outside the fence of their nuclear research facilities. With a sparkle in his eye, and not missing a beat, the president told, Oh, we know where you were! We all laughed. Ronald Florence, USA
Meeting the first lady
On a drizzly and humid morning in Washington DC in 2012, my mum and I stood in line outside Barnes& Noble to meet first lady Michelle Obama and receive a signed transcript of her book, American Grown. A week prior to the meet and greet, we were required to queue at Barnes& Noble, each buy a volume and hand over our passports for screening; they would contact us if there was an issue with background checks. A frantic commute from Georgetown couldnt dim our exuberance about meeting the first lady. Inside the bookstore, we waited for her arrival and in she walked, with confidence and warmth. She briefly spoke about the book, and then thanked all of us for standing in the rainfall to meet her. I went up to meet her and told her I was a law student from Scotland. She asked if I was on vacation, to which I said I was, along with my mum. She asked us if we were enjoying the city and if we had been to all the monuments and the White House. We thought it funny how she remarked about her home as the White House perhaps no matter how long you reside in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it will always be the White House and not my house. A very honest and genuine insight into the life of Americas first lady. Clare McCaughey, UK
Piecemeal labor reform is nice, but national action is what’s required | Susan Campbell
1 month, 10 days ago
We should celebrate higher minimum wages and paid leave passing in California and New York. Theyre what every US worker deserves
In 1931, banker-turned-writer James Truslow Adams argued with his publishers about the title of a book hed just completed. Adams wanted to call the book The American Dream, but his publishers believed no American in the Great Depression would shell out$ 3 for a volume by that name.
The publishers won. The volume was called The Epic of America, but Truslow had the last word. He included the phrase the American dreaming in the text some 30 times, and dedicated a name to the faith that You Can Construct It Here , no matter your origins.
We cling to this notion that Americans have the unique ability to move up the socio-economic ladder but that dream has become much more of a European one, where residents tend to enjoy more social mobility. Economic success and social fulfillment remain elusive to the vast majority of Americans.
New Yorks new leave law paid for by small payroll deductions enhances the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which promises to certain employees that their jobs will be waiting for them if they take a leave for the birth, adoption or placement of a foster child, or to care for an ailment loved one. New Yorks new statute goes deeper: it encompasses full- and part-time employees, and small businesses are no longer omitted. And the leave will be paid.
Nationwide, simply 12% of American workers have paid household leave through their employer. To be actually revolutionary to construct the US the land of opportunity we like to say we are we must go much further than New York and California, pushing for paid leave for all, for public policies that ultimately close the gender pay gap and for humane protections for all. Because these state policies are only a start: lower-wage workers and trade , notably, girls remain caught in a system that devalues the work they do.
As a culture, we dont value what has traditionally been called women work which largely revolves around caregiving. Yet caregiving is, as this essay by Anne-Marie Slaughter tells, the run that induces run possible. The growing need for childcare and elder care means that caregiving is likely to be the countrys largest occupation in four short years.
Recent analyzes show that when women enter a particular industry, the average pay for that industry falls. One study looked at 50 years of US Census data and found that even when controlling for education and ability, the more females work in a specific industry, the lower the average pay.( Believe secretarial run, which was traditionally a humen undertaking, or think working in parks. When women entered that particular marketplace, the pay dropped by 57%. The reversal holds true when humen enter an industry traditionally inhabited by girls .)
Then there is the apparently intractable gender pay gap, where women are paid merely 79 cents for every dollar made by a man and thats just for white people. If you look at the gender pay gap for women of colour, the gap is far worse.
What is it about our economic system that we cant taken into account in women or families? Compare the US family leaves to other countries. The United Kingdom provides 40 weeks. Iran provides 12 weeks. Vietnam offer 26 weeks, though if a mother has more than one child, they may take an extra 30 days for each child. If we are still the land of opportunity, we are that despite our public policies.
As we get ready to mark Equal Pay Day( 12 April 2016, the working day when women will have worked long enough to have earned the wages earned by the men the previous year ), we still want to believe in the American Dream. It fuels our ingenuity, and our can-do posture. But if we dont eliminate some roadblocks, it may forever be enshrined in our hearts, but it will remain far, far away from our reality.
Maine lawmaker attempts discrimination protection for climate change deniers
1 month, 12 days ago
State representative introduced a bill that would limit the state attorney generals ability to investigate or prosecute people based on their political speech
Maine laws protect individuals from discrimination based on factors such as race, disabilities and sex orientation, and a Republican lawmaker wants to add a persons beliefs about climate change to that list.
State representative Larry Lockman has introduced a bill that would limit the state attorney generals ability to investigate or prosecute people based on their political speech, including their views on climate change. It would also proscribe the country from making decisions on buying goods or services or awarding grants or contracts based on a persons climate change policy preferences.
Lockman, an independent business consultant from Amherst, told the Associated Press that he believes its an open question whether human activity is the primary cause of climate change.
Peer-reviewed examines, science organizations and climate scientists say that the world is warming from manmade forces.
State representative Lois Galgay Reckitt, a Democrat of South Portland and a marine biologist who sits on the judiciary committee that has the bill, said prospects for passageway are poor. She said she expected the entire Democratic caucus is going to loathe it, and some Republican will, too.
The issue for me is Im a scientist and I live near the ocean. Its absolutely clear to me that climate change is happen, and it worries me, she told. I will fight this tooth and nail.
Lockman wants to prohibit the state attorney general from analyse, joining an investigation or prosecuting any person based on that persons protected political speech.
But he said his bill wished to reiterate free speech by protecting climate change supporters as well.
I dont want to see a Republican state attorney general publish subpoenas for the records of progressive or liberal thinktanks or public policy groups to chill their free speech, he said.
Democratic attorney general Janet Mills declined to comment.
In his bill, Lockman says that the supreme courts decision in Citizens United continued the protection of protected political speech , no matter the source or message. That case permitted corporations and unions to stimulate unlimited independent expenditures in US elections.
Jonathan Reisman, an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Maine at Machias and a vocal critic of the scientific consensus on climate change, said he requested the bill.
He said the bill is an attempt to defend the first amendment freedom of those who speak out in such a way that does not reflect the consensus.
Its about Citizens United and the government abridging speech, he told. Its not about climate science. Its about climate policy.
Lockman has a history of causing dispute. He once garmented as a vampire outside a federal building in Bangor to protest the Internal Revenue Service. He also once accused liberals of assisting the Aids epidemic, saying they assured the public that the practice of sodomy is a legitimate alternative lifestyle, rather than a debased and depraved crime against humanity.
He said he couldnt predict the outcome of his latest bill but expected a lot of interest at a public hearing scheduled 6 April.
Lockmans bill is absurd and unnecessary, said Dylan Voorhees, climate and clean energy project director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
Clearly an attempt to provide cover for climate deniers, he said. I assure a trickle down from the Trump administration that has emboldened some folks to construct climate denial statements.
Paul Ryan deserts Trump campaign but won’t formally drop endorsement
1 month, 12 days ago
A day after contentious debate, the speaker of the House tells congressional members you all need to do whats best for you in your district
Top Republican Paul Ryan deserted Donald Trump on Monday after an aggressive debate attack against Hillary Clinton failed to appease mounting disgust over his attitude toward women.
The speaker of the House told congressional colleagues on a conference call that he would no longer defend Trump or campaign with him. He urged them to do whats best for you to save the partys majority and avoid giving Hillary Clinton a blank check in the White House, though stressed he was not yet formally unendorsing the partys official nominee.
Trump immediately fired back at Ryan on Twitter.Paul Ryan should expend more day on balancing the budget, employment creation and illegal immigration and not waste his time on opposing Republican nominee, wrote Trump in a blast at the House speaker with whom he has long had a bumpy relationship.
Ryan dragged his heels on endorsing Trump after the real estate developer clinched the Republican nomination in May and disinvited him from a joint appearance in Wisconsin on Saturday in the aftermath of the leaked remarks Trump made about women.
As Clinton climbed the steps to board her airliner in Westchester, New York, on Monday to depart for a campaign rally in Detroit, a reporter hollered a question about whether she believed Trump would show up for the final debate. Laughing, she responded: Yes.