Posts tagged with "Associated Press"

ADL: Hundreds of police and military officers, and public officials are members of the Oath Keepers

September 8, 2022

The names of hundreds of U.S. law enforcement officers, elected officials, and military members appear on the leaked membership rolls of a far-right extremist group that’s accused of playing a key role in the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to a report released on Wednesday, September 7, reports HuffPost.

 The Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism pored over more than 38,000 names on leaked Oath Keepers membership lists and identified more than 370 people it believes currently work in law enforcement agencies—including as police chiefs and sheriffs—and more than 100 people who are currently members of the military.

 It also identified more than 80 people who were running for or serving in public office as of early August. The membership information was compiled into a database published by the transparency collective Distributed Denial of Secrets.

 The data raise fresh concerns about the presence of extremists in law enforcement and the military who are tasked with enforcing laws and protecting the USA. It’s especially problematic for public servants to be associated with extremists at a time when lies about the 2020 election are fueling threats of violence against lawmakers and institutions.

“Even for those who claimed to have left the organization when it began to employ more aggressive tactics in 2014, it is important to remember that the Oath Keepers have espoused extremism since their founding, and this fact was not enough to deter these individuals from signing up,” the report says.

Appearing in the Oath Keepers’ database doesn’t prove that a person was ever an active member of the group or shares its ideology. Some people on the list contacted by The Associated Press said they were briefly members years ago and are no longer affiliated with the group. Some said they were never dues-paying members.

 “Their views are far too extreme for me,” said Shawn Mobley, sheriff of Otero County, Colorado. Mobley told the AP in an email that he distanced himself from the Oath Keepers years ago over concerns about its involvement in the standoff against the federal government at Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada, among other things.

 The Oath Keepers, founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, is a loosely organized conspiracy theory-fueled group that recruits current and former military, police, and first responders. It asks its members to vow to defend the Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” promotes the belief that the federal government is out to strip citizens of their civil liberties, and paints its followers as defenders against tyranny.

 More than two dozen people associated with the Oath Keepers—including Rhodes—have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack. Rhodes and four other Oath Keeper members or associates are heading to trial this month on seditious conspiracy charges for what prosecutors have described as a weekslong plot to keep President Donald Trump in power. Rhodes and the other Oath Keepers say they are innocent and that there was no plan to attack the Capitol.

 Among the elected officials whose names appears on the membership lists is South Dakota state Representative Phil Jensen, who won a June Republican primary in his bid for reelection. Jensen told the AP he paid for a one-year membership in 2014, never received any Oath Keepers’ literature, attended any meetings, or renewed his membership.

 Jensen said he felt compelled to join because he “believed in the oath that we took to support the U.S. Constitution and to defend it against enemies foreign and domestic.” He wouldn’t say whether he now disavows the Oath Keepers, saying he doesn’t have enough information about the group today.

 “Back in 2014, they appeared to be a pretty solid conservative group, I can’t speak to them now,” he said.

 ADL said it found the names of at least ten people who now work as police chiefs and 11 sheriffs. All of the police chiefs and sheriffs who responded to the AP said they no longer have any ties to the group.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Snakes in the grass: Florida python hunt attracts 800 competitors, seeking thousands in prize money

August 9, 2022

So far, more than 800 competitors have signed on for the 2022 Florida Python Challenge in  the Florida Everglades, which began on Friday, August 5 and will continue through 5 p.m. (EDT) on August 15. The entrants are in search of invasive Burmese pythons, which they hope will bring them thousands of dollars in prize money, reports Fox News.

According to the National Park Service, Burmese pythons now are established in the park, due to accidental or intentional release of captive pet animals. Pythons eat many different kinds of animals, and studies show that pythons are probably the main reason that mammals have declined very sharply in number in Everglades National Park.

Even though pythons are large snakes, their coloring and behavior allow them to blend into the environment. Since they are so hard to find in the wild, estimating the number that reside in the park is nearly impossible. A female python can lay as many as 100 eggs a year.A

“This is significant because every python removed is one less invasive species preying on our native birds, mammals, and reptiles,” Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis told the Associated Press.

Since 2000, when the event began, more than 17,000 pythons have been removed from the Everglades ecosystem, according to a news release.

Cash prizes of up to $2,500 are available in both the professional and novice categories for those who remove the most pythons, officials said. There are additional prizes for the longest python in each category. Each python must be dead, with hunters facing disqualification if they kill them inhumanely or kill a native snake.

So far, the registered hunters represent 32 states and Canada. Registrations are being accepted throughout the competition. It costs $25 to register and participants also must  complete an online training course.

Research contact: @FoxNews

‘Squid Game’ season 2 is ‘in discussions, but not confirmed yet,’ Netflix says

November 11, 2021

Netflix is eyeing a season two for its series “Squid Game”—which premiered in September and almost immediately enthralled the American audience, as well as viewers worldwide—but has yet to confirm production, reports CNBC.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday, November 9, that creator Hwang Dong-hyuk said the series would continue on the streaming platform during a screening of the show in Los Angeles on Monday.

I almost feel like you leave us no choice,” he told the news service. “There’s been so much pressure, so much demand and so much love for a second season.”

A Netflix spokesperson told CNBC that a second season of the show is “in discussions, but not confirmed yet.”

Hwang did temper expectations while speaking with reporters. He said that while he plans for lead actor Lee Jung-jae to return as the main character Seong Gi-hun, he did not know when production would begin for the project.

“It’s in my head right now,” Hwang said. “I’m in the planning process currently. But I do think it’s too early to say when and how that’s going to happen.”

The basis of “Squid Game” came from Hwang’s own family’s struggles in 2009, after the global financial crisis. The series follows 456 players, all of whom are in deep financial debt, as they risk their lives to play a series of deadly children’s games for a large cash prize.

In its first 28 days on Netflix, “Squid Game” was viewed by 111 million users for at least two minutes, the most of any other series during that time frame. The previous record-holder was “Bridgerton,” which was viewed by 82 million subscribers for at least 2 minutes during its first 28 days on the service.

Research contact: @CNBC

Carville blames ‘stupid wokeness’ for Democratic losses

November 5, 2021

Democratic political strategist James Carville blamed his party’s recent losses and weak performance in state elections on “stupid wokeness” on Wednesday, November 3, The Hill reports.

PBS NewsHour host Judy Woodruff asked Carville what went wrong for the Democratic Party in the Virginia gubernatorial race—in which Republican Glenn Youngkin beat former Governor Terry McAuliffe.

“What went wrong is just stupid wokeness. Don’t just look at Virginia and New Jersey. Look at Long Island, look at Buffalo, look at Minneapolis, even look at Seattle, Wash. I mean, this ‘defund the police’ lunacy, this take Abraham Lincoln’s name off of schools. I mean that—people see that,” Carville said.

“I’s just really — has a suppressive effect all across the country on Democrats. Some of these people need to go to a ‘woke’ detox center or something,” he added. “They’re expressing a language that people just don’t use, and there’s backlash and a frustration at that.”

Democratic New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy narrowly eked out a reelection victory on Wednesday—first declared by the Associated Press—another indication of Democrats’ diminishing strength in state elections.

Carville said that suburbanites in Virginia and New Jersey “pulled away” from such “wokeness.” He pointed out that Youngkin never ran any ads against President Joe Biden and suggested that the Republican candidate had simply allowed Democrats to “pull the pin and watch the grenade go off.”

“We got to change this and not be about changing dictionaries and change laws,” Carville said. “These faculty lounge people that sit around mulling about I don’t know what. … They’re not working.”

Carville has decried “wokeness” in the past, telling Vox’s Sean Illing earlier this year that it was a “problem.”

“Wokeness is a problem and everyone knows it. It’s hard to talk to anybody today—and I talk to lots of people in the Democratic Party—who doesn’t say this. But they don’t want to say it out loud,” said Carville.

Research contact: @thehill

L.A. mandates COVID vaccine proof for indoor restaurants, gyms, malls, salons, museums, and more

October 8, 2021

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a sweeping mandate on Wednesday, October 6—requiring proof of full COVID-19 vaccination to enter a wide variety of indoor venues as of November 4, KTLA 5 Morning News reports.

Under the ordinance passed by the Los Angeles City Council earlier Wednesday, patrons age 12 and older will have to show proof of full vaccination at indoor areas including restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, convention centers, card rooms, museums, malls, play areas, spas, salons and indoor city facilities

It’s one of the nation’s strictest vaccine mandates, according to the Associated Press.

The city’s ordinance expands on a countywide order that on Thursday, October 7, started requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination at indoor bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs, lounges, and mega outdoor events.

There are exemptions to the city’s requirements: Those who self-attest to having a medical or religious reason for not getting vaccinated can instead provide a negative coronavirus test taken during the 72 hours before entering an indoor space.

Patrons who aren’t vaccinated and don’t qualify for an exemption can still opt to use outdoor areas of the venues. And they can be allowed to briefly go inside the location to use the restroom, order, or pick up an item if they’re masked.

“No one is forcing anyone to get vaccinated,” L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez said , adding, “But if you don’t, there are certain things you will not be able to do without showing proof of vaccination.

“We’re getting tired of protecting people who do not want to protect themselves and get vaccinated,” Martinez said.

Some business owners said they were concerned about having to turn away customers while still recovering from the economic downturn.

“I feel like it’s necessary, but it is definitely going to hinder some regular business procedures,” said Curtis Park, owner of Coffee Memes cafe in Silver Lake. “I’m kind of happy, kind of worried.”

Research contact: @KTLAMorningNews

Australian farmer herds sheep to form a heart in honor of his late aunt

August 30, 2021

Recently, an Australian farmer herded his sheep into a huge,” heartfelt” valentine shape—photographed from above by a drone—in order to pay tribute to his aunt after she died, People magazine reports.

Indeed, Ben Jackson recently lost his aunt Debby, according to the BBC—but he was prevented from attending her funeral by COVID-19 restrictions Down Under. Jackson was 400km (248 miles) away in New South Wales when his Aunt Debby lost her two-year cancer battle in Queensland—and regulations forbade him from travelling to Brisbane to be present at her last rites.

So, in an effort to participate and show his love, Jackson posted a video on social media on Tuesday, August 24. In it a drone captures the moment when hundreds of his sheep are released into a pasture to form a huge heart by following a trail of grain laid out for them.

Jackson told the BBC it took a few attempts to form the heart and that he got the exact pattern down after a “bit of guesswork.” 

“There was no way I could get up there and see her, say cheerio, or go to the funeral,” he told the outlet, “So I felt hopeless, helpless—I didn’t really know what to do. But because I was doing a bit of feeding already, I just decided to do a massive heart in the ground, which in all earnest, pales in comparison to hers.”

The farmer’s family received the video ahead of Aunt Debby’s funeral and played the sweet clip at the service while Jackson watched on through a live stream.

Jackson told BBC he had done other “sheep artworks” in the past and his aunt, an “incredibly giving” woman, was a fan of the animals’ designs. The video of Jackson’s tribute to his aunt has gone viral since the clip appeared on Twitter.

“She would be proud as punch to see so many people smiling and enjoying the heart I’ve made for her,” he said. “It’s just love. Love’s sensational.”

In an interview with the Associated Press, Jackson shared that he started experimenting with shapes and spelling out his favorite bands’ names by leaving trails of feed for his sheep amid Australia’s drought last year.

“It certainly lifted my spirits back in the drought,” he told the outlet.

Speaking about the reaction people have had on social media to the sheep shape, the farmer said, “This heart that I’ve done for my auntie, it certainly seems like it’s had a bit of an effect across Australia. Maybe we all just need to give ourselves a big virtual hug.”

Research contact: @people

Trump called U.S. WWI war casualties buried at French cemetery ‘losers’ and ‘’suckers’

September 7, 2020

President Donald Trump called American soldiers who died on French soil during World War I “losers” during a trip to France in 2018, according to multiple sources cited by The Atlantic.

The comments, reportedly were made ahead of a planned visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France that was ultimately canceled, with the excuse that Trump had worried that a rain storm in the area “would mess up his hair,” reports The Daily Beast.

Trump later referred to World War I Marines who were killed at Belleau Wood, where American and allied troops successfully halted the German advance towards Paris in 1918, as “suckers” for dying at at the hands of the enemy. Trump reportedly expressed confusion about the United States’ involvement in World War I, asking aides, “Who were the good guys in this war?”

Responding to the report in a statement, the White House said, “This report is patently false. President Trump holds the military in the highest regard. He’s demonstrated his commitment to them at every turn.”

However, an investigative reporter for the Associated Press tweeted that a senior Defense Department official “confirmed this story by Jeffrey Goldberg in its entirety.”

In a statement, Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic opponent in the upcoming presidential election, said if the report were true, the president’s comments represented “yet another marker of how deeply President Trump and I disagree about the role of the President of the United States.”

The president has a long history of attacking military service members, even those in his own party, including the late Republican leader Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), whom he called a “fu***ing loser” upon seeing flags lowered to half-mast in McCain’s honor after his death in 2018. “He’s not a war hero,” Trump said of McCain in 2015 while running for the Republican presidential nomination. “I like people who weren’t captured.” The president reportedly told his staff, “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral” after McCain’s death. Trump was not invited to the memorial service, The Daily Beast notes.

During a 2018 planning meeting for a White House military parade, Trump reportedly refused to allow wounded veterans to march, especially not amputees. “Nobody wants to see that,” he was quoted saying.

On a visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2017, Trump reportedly joined John Kelly, then Homeland Security secretary and soon-to-be White House chief of staff. Kelly’s son Robert, who was killed in Afghanistan at the age of 29, is buried at the cemetery. While standing before the grave, Trump is said to have asked the elder Kelly, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”

Kelly thought the remark was a joke at the time but later realized it was not, according to The Atlantic.

In 2016 he also attacked the Gold Star mother and father of a U.S. Army Captain, Humayun Khan, who received a Purple Heart for bravery after being killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the same tirade, he called his own work as a businessman a “sacrifice” similar to dying in combat. Khan’s parents spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Trump himself, of course, did not serve in the military, having received a deferment from service during Vietnam due to the alleged presence of bone spurs in his feet.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Time out: NBA suspends season after player tests positive for coronavirus

March 13, 2020

The NBA announced on March 12 that the 2019-2020 basketball season has been suspended “until further notice” after one Utah Jazz player  tested positive for the novel coronavirus and another was believed to also have contracted the illness. The league said that it will “use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the … pandemic.”

The NBA initially had reported on March 11 that one member of the traveling team, Rudy Gobert, had tested positive for COVID-19.  “The test result was reported … [just] prior to the tip-off of tonight’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena,” the NBA said in its Wednesday statement. “At that time, tonight’s game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena.”

Earlier in the day, the Utah Jazz tweeted that players Emmanuel Mudiay and Gobert were both ill. Gobert is the only player who has reportedly tested positive for the virus.

Both teams are currently under quarantine and Gobert is being treated by health officials in Oklahoma City, according to the Jazz.

“The health and safety of our players, our organization, those throughout our league, and all those potentially impacted by this situation are paramount in our discussions,” the team said in a statement. “We are working closely with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], Oklahoma and Utah state officials and the NBA to determine how to best move forward as we gather more information.”

The Associated Press reported that Gobert had “joked” about the illness in a post-practice press interview earlier in the week, during which he “touched all the tape recorders that were placed before him on a table—devices that reporters who cover the Utah Jazz were using during an availability with him on Monday before a game with the Detroit Pistons.

“It isn’t so funny now,” the AP said, noting that, “Gobert is now the NBA’s Patient Zero” for coronavirus in the NBA. The news outlet also reported on the rumor that Gobert’s Utah teammate Donovan Mitchel, had tested positive as well.

Before Gobert finally was tested for COVID-19, he tested negative for the flu and strep throat.

Research contact: @NBA

George Conway and other conservative Republicans launch super PAC to block Trump’s reelection

December 18, 2019

Did he get permission from Kellyanne? We doubt it. George Conway—a lawyer, a prominent GOP donor, and the husband one of President Donald Trump’s highest-profile spokespersons—is leading a group of conservative Republicans who are launching a super PAC aimed at stopping Trump from winning reelection, The Hill reports.

The Lincoln Project represents the first formal operation for the so-called “Never Trump” movementthe Associated Press also reported on December 17.

Organizers already have gotten over $1 million in fundraising commitments and hope for more—all to be spent on anti-Trump advertising in the build-up to the 2020 election.

The group announced the launch of the super PAC in a New York Times op-ed (“We Are Republicans, and We Want Trump Defeated”) published Tuesday, authored by Conway, former Republican operative Steve Schmidt, former  adviser to Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) John Weaver, and Republican strategist Rick Wilson.

This effort transcends partisanship and is dedicated to nothing less than preservation of the principles that so many have fought for, on battlefields far from home and within their own communities,” read the op-ed in the Times.

The authors wrote that their effort over the next 11 months will be to defeat Trump “and Trumpism at the ballot box and to elect those patriots who will hold the line.”

“We do not undertake this task lightly, nor from ideological preference,” the authors noted, adding, “We have been, and remain, broadly conservative (or classically liberal) in our politics and outlooks,” they wrote. “Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain, but our shared fidelity to the Constitution dictates a common effort.”

The group reportedly plans to target disenfranchised Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents in an effort to hinder Trump’s reelection and to defeat Trump-aligned GOP Senate candidates in key 2020 battleground states, including Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Maine and possibly Kansas and Kentucky.

The group’s ads are expected to start airing early next year.

Research contact: @thehill

Xi ‘one-ups’ Trump, announcing $75B in tariffs on U.S. goods as president heads to G7 Summit

August 26, 2019

Gotcha!  Just as President Donald Trump was preparing to meet with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, to discuss the global economy and his trade wars, China on Friday announced it would impose tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. imports, ABC News reported.

The move came in retaliation for duty hikes that the United States already has pledged to slap on Chinese imports starting next month.

What’s more, the announcement also came just before Jerome Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve gave a speech investors and analysts planned to scrutinize for signs of how the central bank would address worries of a slowing economy—as well as the president’s often mixed signals on payroll tax cuts.

According to ABC News, Powell implied in his speech that Trump’s trade altercations were among the factors precipitating a possible global economic slowdown— and he said they have made it more difficult for the Fed to set policies on interest rates.

Powell did not offer any clear signal on further cuts to interest rates, though, during his widely watched remarks in Jackson Hole, Wyo., according to the Associated Press.

Just after Powell spoke, Trump again blasted the Fed—saying in a tweet that it “As usual, the Fed did NOTHING.”

“My only question,” Trump tweeted moments later, “is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi [of China]?”

China said that it would impose its new penalties on two batches of goods, on September 1 and December 15, according to the official Chinese news agency Xinhua. It said 5,078 American products would see duty hikes of 5% or 10% first; and that the later tariffs would hit “American-made vehicles and auto parts” with tariffs of 5% or 25%.

Those dates match with 10% tariff the Trump administration said would go into effect on $300 billion worth of imports from China.

Trump on Friday morning argued in a tweet that the economy was “strong and good, whereas the rest of the world is not doing so well.”

According to ABC News, the president has made the economy a central message of his campaign, and has accused the news media and Democrats of wanting a recession in order to tank his reelection chances.

Research contact: @ABC