Can Donald Trump Win? These Battleground Regions Will Decide

by teacherken – This article explores what it would take for Trump to truly be competitive.  After a brief introduction, it examines four states in the key areas in which Trump has to be competitive in order to win:  Florida, the upper Southeast, the Rust Belt, and the interior West.  In each case a different New York Times writer examines a specific state:  Alexander Burns examines South Florida; Jonathan Martin explores North Carolina;  Trip Gabriel goes to Pennsylvania, where he focuses on Luzerne County (Wilke-Barre) in the northeastern part of the state, and wealth Chester County (West Chester) in the Philadelphia suburbs; and Fernanda Santos goes to Arizona, with a specific focus on Maricopa County, where Trump’s strong early ally Joe Arpaio is up for re-election as Sheriff. Each article lays out where there are possibilities for Trump, but also points out how there are areas of difficulties for him as...

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Iraqi Army Launches Assault Against ISIL in Fallujah

Special forces enter “second phase” in fight to recapture the central city from ISIL, as 50,000 people remain trapped Iraqi special forces launched an assault on one of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group’s most emblematic bastions, Fallujah, as the group counter-attacked in both Iraq and neighbouring Syria. The assault was launched in the early hours of Monday morning. “Iraqi forces entered Fallujah under air cover from the international coalition, the Iraqi air force and army aviation, and supported by artillery and tanks,” said Lieutenant-General Abdelwahab al-Saadi, the commander of the operation. The battle for Fallujah Iraqi army commanders estimate it will take them about 48 hours to clear Fallujah. I think this is very optimistic. There are between 400 and 1,000 ISIL fighters stationed inside the city – including its most experienced. In the early hours of Monday morning, Iraqi forces began efforts to...

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An Undercurrent of Diminishing President Obama’s Progressive Accomplishments

by DaisiesArePretty – There’s been a growing narrative that Sanders is the “first” progressive politician since FDR or LBJ or fill-in-the-blank with a name other than President Obama. Today, I read this comment: “It’s that he is the first candidate since RFK or Jesse Jackson who would actually DO SOMETHING about our problems.” I guess you can say this was the last straw for me. I understand the strategy, though. Since Hillary Clinton says she wants to build on President Obama’s progressive accomplishments, the counter-punch is to diminish his accomplishments to one single issue — ObamaCare — then criticize ObamaCare as insufficient. As a gentle reminder of the progressive accomplishments of our president, I offer the following partial list. At the end is a link to a more comprehensive list with citations for all (including citations for those listed below). Fighting Lobbyists & Executive Transparency Obama Banned gifts from lobbyists to anyone in the...

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University Of North Carolina Reverses On Complying With HB2

by ZACK FORD – The University of North Carolina (UNC) has made clear in legal filings that it will not enforce HB2, the state’s law requiring transgender people be refused access to restrooms in accordance with their gender identity. This is a reversal of sorts from the university’s prior position. After HB2 first became law, UNC President Margaret Spellings announced that the system would comply with it, in that bathrooms and changing facilities would be “designated for and used only by persons based on their biological sex.” This is despite the fact that the university includes — and would continue to include — “gender identity” in its nondiscrimination policy. Her guidance noted, however, that the law “does not contain provisions concerning enforcement of the bathroom and changing facility requirements.” Though students were outraged by the compliance, it seemed that without enforcement, the status quo would not change. Multiple suits have...

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‘Self-Funded’ No Longer – Trump Now Needs Those Huge, Strings-Attached Donations

by Rika Christensen – Donald Trump has supposedly been self-funding his campaign (sort of), and he loves bragging about how he’s not beholden to anybody because he’s not taking the big donations that inevitably come with conditions attached. That all may be coming to an end for him now. One of his top advisers, Paul Manafort, spoke to Senate Republicans about the state of his campaign’s finances, and admitted there isn’t enough money to mount a serious challenge to Hillary Clinton going into this summer’s conventions. Oh, the horror. What happened to all that money Trump claimed he had? Supposedly he’s worth $10 billion. Oh, that’s right, most of that isn’t actual cash, and he’s been loaning what cash he does have to the campaign. Now the campaign owes him tens of millions of dollars and is finding itself broke anyway. Without campaign money, Trump will have trouble running television...

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FiveThirtyEight’s Deconstruction of the Rigged Primary Myth

by snowman3 – I came across a data driven article by the folks at 538 that attempted to tackle this simmering claim (espoused quite often by Donald Trump, of all people) that the democratic primary system has been rigged and Hillary is only winning because it has been rigged in her favor. The article is from May 26, but I haven’t seen it diaried here yet, so if I missed it, forgive me. One of the claims most frequently made is that Hillary is winning because in a lot of states, independents cannot vote in the democratic primary, and that if more states allowed independents to vote, then Bernie would have won. Putting aside the fact that Hillary has won a majority of contests that have open primaries, Nate Silver and Harry Enten ran their models and used simulations to estimate what the results would have been had the non-open primary...

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As Chilcot Inquiry Nears, Tony Blair Hints He May Fight Verdict

by Nadia Prupis – “I don’t think anyone can seriously dispute that I was making it very clear what my position was.” Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has hinted that he would refuse to accept the verdict of the highly anticipated Chilcot Inquiry into the 2003 invasion of Iraq if it concludes that he privately signed the country up for war while publicly claiming a final decision had not yet been made. In an interview on the BBC‘s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Blair rejected the idea that the growth of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) was fueled by the Iraq War, stating, “I understand all the issues and we’ll debate them when we get to Chilcot, but this idea that all of this comes from the decision to remove Saddam , you’ve got to go back into this and look at the roots of it.” Marr then asked, “The...

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On This Day, May 31, 1977 – The BBC Bans the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen”

Thirty years after its release, John Lydon—better known as Johnny Rotten—offered this assessment of the song that made the Sex Pistols the most reviled and revered figures in England in the spring of 1977: “There are not many songs written over baked beans at the breakfast table that went on to divide a nation and force a change in popular culture.” Timed with typical Sex Pistols flair to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee, the release of “God Save The Queen” was greeted by precisely the torrent of negative press that Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren had hoped. On May 31, 1977, the song earned a total ban on radio airplay from the BBC—a kiss of death for a normal pop single, but a powerful endorsement for an anti-establishment rant like “God Save The Queen.” While some in the tabloid press accused the Sex Pistols of treason and...

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A Veteran’s Perspective On Memorial Day

by BARRY LADENDORF – “The threat to the Constitution does not come from some far-off land”, says Vets for Peace board chair As Americans mark Memorial Day, a holiday that invites us to reflect on the cost of war, we are reprinting these remarks that a leader of the Veterans for Peace made last week at Ralph Nader’s Breaking Through Power conference in Washington. For 31 years, Veterans For Peace has been the only veterans organization that has rejected war, violence, nuclear weapons, the destruction of the environment created by war, the steady erosion of our civil liberties, the corporate greed that drives our wars and the systemic injustice it produces, here at home and abroad, all in the name of advancing the American empire. As veterans, we refuse to accept the notion that, in order to protect the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, the Constitution that we...

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Arizona’s Getting Hotter, But State Leaders Oppose Solutions

by JILLIAN MURPHY – On average, 2,000 Arizonans visit the emergency room because of heat-related illnesses every year. Unfortunately, things are likely to get worse because it’s only getting hotter. This April was just named the hottest on record, making it the 12th consecutive month to break a temperature record. Last year was named the hottest year on record, and at this pace 2016 is set to top it. This week, the Obama administration recognized Extreme Heat Week — something Arizonans have become well-acquainted with in recent years. Climate change is driving extreme heat in Arizona and around the world. Carbon pollution from power plants contributes to climate change, making our days and our summers even hotter. Extreme heat is especially dangerous for our health, and can even be fatal. It’s estimated that extreme heat could lead to more than 11,000 additional deaths during the summer in 2030, and more...

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An Open Letter to Donald Trump: Make Your Tax Returns Public

by Frank Clemente – It is critical that candidates for the highest office in the land release their income tax returns for multiple years, especially you Mr. Trump. After all, you are running for president based on your wealth and business ability. And every other presidential candidate has done so for the past 40 years. Instead, you’re hiding behind the phony excuse that you can’t release any returns until the IRS finishes auditing them, which might not be until after Election Day. The IRS has repeatedly stated that taxpayers can release whatever information they want about their own returns, whenever they want. (Of course, the very fact that, by your own complaint, you’re audited every year raises important questions about whether you are a tax dodger.) Nothing prevents you from releasing your tax returns prior to 2009, which have been cleared by previous IRS audits. You said Mitt Romney should release...

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UN: More than 700 Refugees Feared Drowned off Italy

UN refugee agency says hundreds of people may have died in three separate shipwrecks in recent days The UN refugee agency said more than 700 refugees may have drowned in three Mediterranean Sea shipwrecks south of Italy in the last few days. Speaking to Al Jazeera from Geneva, William Spindler, a UNHCR spokesman for Europe, said there had been a spate of incidents in the Mediterranean last week. “The first one was Wednesday, which was widely reported. A boat capsized, carrying about 600 people. Some of those people are still missing,” Spindler said. “Then there was a second incident on Thursday and a third one on Friday. In total, we fear that in these three incidents more than 700 people are missing, presumed drowned. “There is a number of boats at the moment trying to make their way from Libya to Italy and several rescue operations are ongoing.” READ...

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Wingnut Week In Review: Trump’s Tinfoil Hat Campaign

by Terrance Heath – Proving once and for all that he truly has not one shred of decency in him, Donald Trump has traded in his red trucker hat for a tinfoil hat. The sad and frightening part is that he’ll probably get away with it. Claiming that he was “just asking the question,” Trump dredged up the thoroughly discredited claim that the Clintons murdered Vince Foster. Foster, who spent part of his childhood living across the street from Bill Clinton, became the White House Deputy Counsel when the Clintons came to Washington, DC. It was the latest in a long list of accomplishments, including serving as the manager of the law review and graduating first in his class at the University of Arkansas, and being named Outstanding Lawyer of the Year by the Arkansas Bar Association in 1993. He joined the Rose Law Firm in 1971, where he fought...

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When did the United States get so Damn Uptight?

by Mark E Andersen – Last week my 16-year-old son and I were talking about my exploits as a teenager. My son said, “Dad, things were so less uptight when you were a kid. What happened?” My initial response to him was: “Ronald Reagan.” Since then, I have given this a lot of thought. And while I do stand by my original answer of Ronald Reagan, there is actually so much more to it. The reason I start with Reagan is because while he was president, the legal drinking age was raised from 18 to 21. It’s a move that I have disagreed with since I was 17, when the drinking age changed. Eighteen-year-olds can serve in the military, can vote, can marry, can enter contracts, and they can go to prison—but they can’t have a beer. If you are old enough to fight and die for your country, you are damn well old enough to have...

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ISIS Isn’t an Existential Threat to America

by John Mueller & Mark Stewart – In 2014, a militant group calling itself the Islamic State, or ISIL, but more generally known as ISIS, burst into official and public attention with some military victories in Iraq and Syria in the middle of the year—particularly taking over Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. From the outset, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have deemed the group to be an existential threat to the United States. President Barack Obama has repeatedly insisted that this extreme characterization is overblown, but he has clearly lost the debate. A poll conducted a few weeks ago asked the 83 percent of its respondents who said they closely followed news stories about ISIS whether the group presented “a serious threat to the existence or survival of the US.” Fully 77 percent agreed, more than two-thirds of them strongly. However, although the vicious group certainly presents a threat...

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Bernie Sanders Explains The Exact Reason Trump Won’t Debate Him (VIDEO)

by Joe Fletcher – A pre-general election debate between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump would have been a political event that would be talked about for years. However, such a debate will never happen because Trump is a giant chicken. Sanders blasted Trump on Real Time with Bill Maher Friday night. After Trump “jokingly” said that he would debate Sanders ahead of the California primary, Trump quickly backed out. Sanders expressed his disappointment with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s decision. Sanders put out a challenge to Trump, saying: “I would have loved ! First, he said he would do it, then he said he wouldn’t do it. Then he said he would do it, then he said he wouldn’t do it. So I would hope if he changed his mind four times in two days, change it a fifth time. Trump claims to be a real tough guy, pushes people...

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Holocaust Survivor and Human Rights Activist Hedy Epstein Dies at 91

by Dianne Lee – Always stay human, the long-time activist believed, and never be a bystander ST. LOUIS, Missouri – Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, 91, died at her home in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, on May 26, 2016. An internationally renowned, respected and admired advocate for human and civil rights, Hedy was encircled by friends who lovingly cared for her at home. Born August 15, 1924, in the Bavarian region of Germany, her lifelong commitment to human rights was formed by the horrific experiences she and her family endured under the repressive Nazi regime. Unable to secure travel documents for themselves, Hedy’s parents, Hugo and Ella (Eichel) Wachenheimer, arranged for 14-year-old Hedy to leave Germany on a Kindertransport. Hedy credited her parents with giving her life a second time when they sent her to England to live with kind-hearted strangers. Hedy’s parents, grandparents, and most of her aunts, uncles and...

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Iraqi Forces ‘Closing in’ on ISIL-Held Fallujah

Iraqi defence ministry says it has isolated Fallujah and completed first phase of campaign to retake city from ISIL Iraqi forces have surrounded Fallujah and completed the first phase of their assault to retake the city from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) armed group, officials have told Al Jazeera. Hundreds of people fled the besieged city about 60km west of the capital, Baghdad, on Friday amid rapidly deteriorating humanitarian conditions as fighting between Iraqi forces and ISIL fighters intensified. Iraqi army promises victory in Fallujah ‘next week’ A defence ministry spokesman said on Saturday that Iraqi forces were closing in on Fallujah, which has been under ISIL control since January 2014. ”Phase one is over and we have achieved our objectives,” Brigadier Rasool Yahya told Al Jazeera. “Our forces have isolated and surrounded the city of Fallujah.” Security forces have safely evacuated many residents away from the outskirts...

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With Endangered Species Act Under Attack, Obama Manages to Score 99 Wildlife Wins

by MARY ELLEN KUSTIN – As part of a final-year push to tackle major environmental challenges, the Obama Administration appears to be doubling down on its efforts to slow and reverse the declines in American wildlife populations. Though the United States has enacted and implemented some of the world’s most effective wildlife conservation laws, one in five animal and plant species in the United States — nearly 1,300 total species — is at risk of extinction. Through a recently released Council on Environmental Quality white paper, the Obama Administration calls attention to the challenges facing U.S. wildlife and identifies 99 milestones in wildlife conservation that it has achieved over the past seven years. Among these 99 “wildlife wins,” the White House is highlighting the recovery of the Louisiana Black Bear — a species that originally inspired the phrase “teddy bear.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the bear’s...

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Toronto Police Crack Down On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

by Johnny Green – Thursday was a sad day in Toronto as Toronto Police cracked down on several medical marijuana dispensaries as part of ‘Project Claudia.’ While it is unknown how many dispensaries were raided, I saw many reports on social media that put the number as high as 40. Those reports are from social media, so take the number for what you will, but the fact of the matter is that a very large number of dispensaries were raided, which is a huge waste of law enforcement resources. Per the Toronto Sun: Giant bags of weed locked in police cruisers, young people in handcuffs inside dispensaries, signs that say “Closed” or “Closing.” This was the very public face Thursday of Project Claudia — an effort by Toronto Police to crack down on stores selling medical marijuana over the counter. Police wouldn’t say how many marijuana dispensaries were raided across the city...

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