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Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg would also like to ‘Slow Jam the News’

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Pete Buttigieg is hoping to smooth his way to the presidency.

The mayor of South Bend dropped into The Tonight Show on Monday night, where he joined Jimmy Fallon for another edition of “Slow Jam the News,” in which he spent his time talking about his platform and what kind of president he’d aim to be.

Of course, the segment was made famous by Barack Obama, who did the slow jamming thing in the final months of his presidency back in 2016.

Buttigieg didn’t just talk over the sounds of a sleazy-sounding synthesizer, he also spoke to Fallon about his ambitions, and the fact that Trump compared Buttigieg to MAD magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman. Read more…

More about Politics, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Fallon, 2020 Presidential Election, and Pete Buttigieg

Stephen Colbert unpacks Joe Biden’s presidential bid

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After quite a bit of speculation, former Vice-President Joe Biden launched his 2020 presidential run over the weekend.

It got the attention of Stephen Colbert, who spent some time talking about Biden’s campaign video, which talked about Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville — something that the president had to explain again. 

“Trump’s already worried about Joe Biden,” Colbert said. “And the proof of that is that this ad did something none of the other Democrats have been able to do, and that’s put Trump on the defensive.” Read more…

More about Politics, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Stephen Colbert, and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert calls the Mueller report conclusion ‘worse than the finale of ‘Lost”

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It was a lengthy, almost two-year wait for the Mueller report to be delivered, and Stephen Colbert thought it was, well, anticlimactic.

In a monologue opening The Late Show on Monday, Colbert said the report’s findings, which found that there was no proof of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, was “worse than the finale of Lost.”

“What about the smoke monster, was it real or not? And if not, why have so many members of Trump’s campaign plead guilty to lying about meeting with the smoke monster?” Colbert quipped.

“Why couldn’t this have been like the ending of Seinfeld? Still disappointing, but at least they’re all in jail.” Read more…

More about Entertainment, Politics, Stephen Colbert, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and Mueller Investigation

This fake Mueller report is the ultimate troll

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We got got. 

Special counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report to the Attorney General on Friday afternoon. The investigation looks into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, but despite calls for transparency from politicians, Americans, and emboldened mothers on social media, the report hasn’t been released to the public yet. 

Another report has been making the rounds, even if it’s not the one Mueller delivered to William Barr. 

Oh man https://t.co/L0UjrhRfC1

— Adam Rawnsley (@arawnsley) March 22, 2019

More about Politics, Memes, Troll, Shrek, and Mueller Investigation

Amazon reportedly nixes its price parity requirement for third-party sellers in the U.S.

Amazon will stop forbidding third-party merchants who list on its e-commerce platform in the United States from selling the same products on other sites for lower prices, reports Axios.

The company’s decision to end its price parity provision comes three months after Sen. Richard Blumenthal urged the Department of Justice to open an antitrust investigation into Amazon’s policies and a few days after Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced she would make breaking up Amazon, Google and Facebook a big part of her campaign platform.

Also called “most favored nation” (MFN) requirements, Amazon’s price parity provisions gave it a competitive edge, but because of its size, also led to concerns about its impact on competition and fair pricing for consumers. Amazon stopped requiring price parity of its European Union sellers in 2013 after it was the subject of investigations by the United Kingdom’s Office of Fair Trading and Germany’s Federal Cartel Office.

In a statement, Blumenthal said Amazon’s “wise and welcome decision comes only after aggressive advocacy and attention that compelled Amazon to abandon its abusive contract clause.” He added that “I remain deeply troubled that federal regulators responsible for cracking down on anti-competitive practices seem asleep at the wheel, at great cost to American innovation and consumers.”

TechCrunch has contacted Amazon for comment.

Stephen Colbert steps up his Trump impression after CPAC speech

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Stephen Colbert has already laid into Trump’s “epically weird” CPAC speech.

But there was one moment that the late show host had to talk about again: Trump’s admonishing of the people investigating him during his speech on Saturday.

And by talk, we mean totally mock the president with a new, weird impression that’s better if you just watch it (at 2:40). Colbert also tore into Trump’s press conference on Tuesday, where he answered questions about the investigations.

“It’s just so sad when his heart’s not in it, you know,” Colbert quipped. “He’s like an aging singer doing his 16th show of the week in Branson to a half-empty room.” Read more…

More about Entertainment, Politics, Donald Trump, Stephen Colbert, and Cpac

Seth Meyers breaks down Trump’s attacks on Democrats running for president

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As Democrats begin to nominate for the 2020 presidential election, it’s beginning to get the attention of Donald Trump.

The president fired off a tweet in response to Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s announcement in Minnesota on Sunday, making fun of her bid to fight global warming, as snow piled on her.

That got the attention of Seth Meyers on his segment “A Closer Look” on Monday, who broke down Trump’s attacks on Dems who are running for president. In Klobuchar’s case, Meyers pointed out the president’s misguided global warming comment.

“Why do we have to keep explaining to the president of the United States that weather and climate are two different things?” Meyers asked. Read more…

More about Entertainment, Politics, Donald Trump, Seth Meyers, and Entertainment

Donald Trump Jr. shared a meme about women and it backfired spectacularly

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Donald Trump Jr. might want to hold off sharing Twitter memes for a bit while he recovers from the internet dragging him.

Following the State of the Union, the president’s son decided to tweet a meme about the Democratic women of Congress on Wednesday, who wore suffragette white to the address to make a powerful visual statement.

Trump Jr. tweeted the meme — a photo of the women with the words “NOT ONE AMERICAN FLAG AMONG THEM” across it — to his 3.3 million followers on Wednesday, adding, “Speaks for itself and no one is at all surprised.”

Speaks for itself and no one is at all surprisedpic.twitter.com/kLoJzMmY10

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 6, 2019 Read more…

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FDA boss threatens ‘game over’ for e-cigs if companies won’t keep kids away

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The head of the Food and Drug Administration has threatened to pull e-cigarettes out of U.S. markets entirely unless e-cig makers take greater measures to curb the youth’s use of their products. 

Speaking at a public hearing Friday, Scott Gottlieb, the FDA Commissioner, said he was “horrified” at the surge in rates of teen vaping, NBC reported. More than 3 million U.S. teens use e-cigarettes, an increase of 78 percent since 2011, according to recent CDC data.

“I still believe e-cigarettes present an opportunity for adult smokers to transition off cigarettes and onto nicotine delivery products that may not have the same level of risks,” Gottlieb wrote in a tweet ahead of the hearing. “However, if the youth use continues to rise, the entire category will face an existential threat.” Read more…

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President Bolsonaro should boost Brazil’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

Romero Rodrigues
Contributor

Romero Rodrigues is a managing partner at Redpoint eVentures, the Brazilian-focused arm of the Silicon Valley venture firm Redpoint.

In late October following a significant victory for Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s presidential elections, the stock market for Latin America’s largest country shot up. Financial markets reacted favorably to the news because Bolsonaro, a free-market proponent, promises to deliver broad economic reforms, fight corruption and work to reshape Brazil through a pro-business agenda. While some have dubbed him as a far-right “Trump of the Tropics” against a backdrop of many Brazilians feeling that government has failed them, the business outlook is extremely positive.

When President-elect Bolsonaro appointed Santander executive Roberto Campos as new head of Brazil’s central bank in mid-November, Brazil’s stock market cheered again with Sao Paulo’s Bovespa stocks surging as much as 2.65 percent on the day news was announced. According to Reuters, “analysts said Bolsonaro, a former army captain and lawmaker who has admitted to having scant knowledge of economics, was assembling an experienced economic team to implement his plans to slash government spending, simplify Brazil’s complex tax system and sell off state-run companies.”

Admittedly, there are some challenges as well. Most notably, pension-system reform tops the list of priorities to get on the right track quickly. A costly pension system is increasing the country’s debt and contributed to Brazil losing its investment-grade credit rating in 2015. According to the new administration, Brazil’s domestic product could grow by 3.5 percent during 2019 if Congress approves pension reform soon. The other issue that’s cropped up to tarnish the glow of Bolsonaro coming into power are suspect payments made to his son that are being examined by COAF, the financial crimes unit.

While the jury is still out on Bolsonaro’s impact on Brazilian society at large after being portrayed as the Brazilian Trump by the opposition party, he’s come across as less authoritarian during his first days in office. Since the election, his tone is calmer and he’s repeatedly said that he plans to govern for all Brazilians, not just those who voted for him. In his first speech as president, he invited his wife to speak first which has never happened before.

Still, according to The New York Times, “some Brazilians remain deeply divided on the new president, a former army captain who has hailed the country’s military dictators and made disparaging remarks about women and minority groups.”

Others have expressed concern about his environment impact with the “an assault on environmental and Amazon protections” through an executive order within hours of taking office earlier this week. However, some major press outlets have been more upbeat: “With his mix of market-friendly economic policies and social conservativism at home, Mr. Bolsonaro plans to align Brazil more closely with developed nations and particularly the U.S.,” according to the Wall Street Journal this week.

Based on his publicly stated plans, here’s why President Bolsonaro will be good for business and how his administration will help build an even stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in Brazil:

Bolsonaro’s Ministerial Reform

President Temer leaves office with 29 government ministries. President Bolsonaro plans to reduce the number of ministries to 22, which will reduce spending and make the government smaller and run more efficiently. We expect to see more modern technology implemented to eliminate bureaucratic red tape and government inefficiencies.

Importantly, this will open up more partnerships and contracting of tech startups’ solutions. Government contacts for new technology will be used across nearly all the ministries including mobility, transportation, health, finance, management and legal administration – which will have a positive financial impact especially for the rich and booming SaaS market players in Brazil.

Government Company Privatization

Of Brazil’s 418 government-controlled companies, there are 138 of them on the federal level that could be privatized. In comparison to Brazil’s 418, Chile has 25 government-controlled companies, the U.S. has 12, Australia and Japan each have eight, and Switzerland has four. Together, Brazil-owned companies employ more than 800,000 people today, including about 500,000 federal employees. Some of the largest ones include petroleum company Petrobras, electric utilities company EletrobrasBanco do Brasil, Latin America’s largest bank in terms of its assets, and Caixa Economica Federal, the largest 100 percent government-owned financial institution in Latin America.

The process of privatizing companies is known to be cumbersome and inefficient, and the transformation from political appointments to professional management will surge the need for better management tools, especially for enterprise SaaS solutions.

STEAM Education to Boost Brazil’s Tech Talent

Based on Bolsonaro’s original plan to move the oversight of university and post-graduate education from the Education Ministry to the Science and Technology Ministry, it’s clear the new presidential administration is favoring more STEAM courses that are focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics.

Previous administrations threw further support behind humanities-focused education programs. Similar STEAM-focused higher education systems from countries such as Singapore and South Korea have helped to generate a bigger pipeline of qualified engineers and technical talent badly needed by Brazilian startups and larger companies doing business in the country. The additional tech talent boost in the country will help Brazil better compete on the global stage.

The Chicago Boys’ “Super” Ministry

The merger of the Ministry of Economy with the Treasury, Planning and Industry and Foreign Trade and Services ministries will create a super ministry to be run by Dr. Paulo Guedes and his team of Chicago Boys. Trained at the Department of Economics in the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger, the Chicago Boys are a group of prominent Chilean economists who are credited with transforming Chile into Latin America’s best performing economies and one of the world’s most business-friendly jurisdictions. Joaquim Levi, the recently appointed chief of BNDES (Brazilian Development Bank), is also a Chicago Boy and a strong believer in venture capital and startups.

Previously, Guedes was a general partner in Bozano Investimentos, a pioneering private equity firm, before accepting the invitation to take the helm of the world’s eighth-largest economy in Brazil. To have a team of economists who deeply understand the importance of rapid-growth companies is good news for Brazil’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. This group of 30,000 startup companies are responsible for 50 percent of the job openings in Brazil and they’re growing far faster than the country’s GDP.

Bolsonaro’s Pro-Business Cabinet Appointments

President Bolsonaro has appointed a majority of technical experts to be part of his new cabinet. Eight of them have strong technology backgrounds, and this deeper knowledge of the tech sector will better inform decisions and open the way to more funding for innovation.

One of those appointments, Sergio Moro, is the federal judge for the anti-corruption initiative knows as “Operation Car Wash.” With Moro’s nomination to Chief of the Justice Department and his anticipated fight against corruption could generate economic growth and help reduce unemployment in the country. Bolsonaro’s cabinet is also expected to simplify the crazy and overwhelming tax system. More than 40 different taxes could be whittled down to a dozen, making it easier for entrepreneurs to launch new companies.

In general terms, Brazil and Latin America have long suffered from deep inefficiencies. With Bolsonaro’s administration, there’s new promise that there will be an increase in long-term infrastructure investments, reforms to reduce corruption and bureaucratic red tape, and enthusiasm and support for startup investments in entrepreneurs who will lead the country’s fastest-growing companies and make significant technology advancements to “lift all boats.”

Jimmy Kimmel on the Sarah Sanders doctored video: ‘She should be fired for that’

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The doctored video of the interaction between CNN’s Jim Acosta and a White House intern, which was posted by the Trump administration and originated from Infowars, hardly pleased many of us, including Jimmy Kimmel.

“She should be forced to resign for that,” Kimmel said on Thursday. “She intentionally disseminated doctored video footage to discredit a reputable journalist … Sarah Huckabee Sanders should be fired and sent to live in a JOANN’s Fabrics store.”

Also in the line of fire was Kellyanne Conway, who also took the side of the intern. It’s “so ridiculous,” in fact, that Kimmel decided to take his qualms straight to Conway herself. Read more…

More about Politics, Trump, Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Entertainment

Trump administration sues California over its brand-new net neutrality law

The Department of Justice announced on Sunday that it has filed a lawsuit against California to block its new net neutrality law, just hours after it was signed by governor Jerry Brown. The lawsuit was first reported by the Washington Post. Senior Justice Department officials told the newspaper it is filing the lawsuit because only the federal government can regulate net neutrality and that the Federal Communications Commission had been granted that authority by Congress to ensure states don’t write conflicting legislation.

In its announcement, the Justice Department stated that by signing California’s Senate Bill 822 into law, the state is “attempting to subvert the Federal Government’s deregulatory approach by imposing burdensome state regulations on the free Internet, which is unlawful and anti-consumer.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said “under the Constitution, states do not regulate interstate commerce—the federal government does. Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy. The Justice Department should not have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order.”

This is the latest of several legal showdowns between the Trump administration and California, the largest blue state.

Under Attorney General Sessions, the Justice Department has already filed separate lawsuits against California over immigrant sanctuary laws and a law meant to stop the Trump administration from selling or transferring federal land to private corporations. The Trump administration is also clashing with the state over environmental protection regulations.

Senate Bill 822 was introduced by Democratic Senator Scott Wiener to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality protections tossed out by the FCC last year.

Even though Washington and Oregon have also passed their own net neutrality laws, the outcome of the federal government’s battle with California will have ramifications throughout the country because the state’s new net neutrality law is the most stringent one so far, banning most kinds of zero-rating, which allows telecoms to offer services from certain providers for free.

As such, it has been the target of fierce lobbying by telecoms like AT&T and Comcast. While the FCC’s chairman Ajit Pai and telecoms argue that zero-rating allows them to offer better deals (Pai claimed in the Justice Department’s statement today that they have proven popular “especially among lower-income Americans,”) net neutrality advocates say it gives Internet service providers too much power by forcing users to rely on certain services, stifling consumer options and freedom of information.

Kanye West’s comments about the 13th Amendment are confusing and bad

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Oh no.

Kanye West took to social media on Sunday to tell everyone that he supports the messages of Donald Trump while wearing a MAGA hat. In the same tweet, he wrote that he wants to abolish the 13th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America — the one that abolished slavery.

this represents good and America becoming whole again.  We will no longer outsource to other countries. We build factories here in America and create jobs.  We will provide jobs for all who are free from prisons as we abolish the 13th amendment. Message sent with love pic.twitter.com/a15WqI8zgu

— ye (@kanyewest) September 30, 2018 Read more…

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Google denies Trump’s claim that it did not promote his State of the Union address

Google is pushing back against a claim by Donald Trump that the search engine stopped promoting State of the Union livestreams on its homepage after his presidency began. Trump’s claim came in the from of a tweeted video, which was still pinned to the top of his profile when this post was published at 9:30 PM PST, Aug. 29, 2018, after Google’s refutation and multiple media reports of its inaccuracy.

Hashtagged #stopthebias, the video appears to show that Google did not display links to livestreams of Trump’s first public speech to a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017 or his first State of the Union on January 30, 2018, despite promoting Obama’s State of the Union addresses in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

#StopTheBias pic.twitter.com/xqz599iQZw

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2018

Google, however, says it did indeed highlight Trump’s first State of the Union in 2018, but that it usually does not include links on its homepage to a president’s first public address to Congress, so neither Obama nor Trump’s were featured. In a statement sent to BuzzFeed News, the company said “On January 30, 2018, we highlighted the livestream of President Trump’s State of the Union on the google.com homepage. We have historically not promoted the first address to Congress by a new President, which is technically not a State of the Union address. As a result, we didn’t include a promotion on google.com for this address in either 2009 or 2017.”

Google statement to @JohnPaczkowski on Trump’s tweet pic.twitter.com/1w82mQqApg

— Jon Passantino (@passantino) August 29, 2018

The video shared by Trump does not make a distinction between a president’s first public speech to a joint session of Congress and his first State of the Union address.

A discrepancy in Google’s logo also suggests that at least one of the screenshots, which appear to have been taken from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, was doctored. A Gizmodo commenter notes that one of the screenshots in the video Trump tweeted, from January 12, 2016, shows a version with the previous Google logo, not the sans-serif version introduced in September 2015, which can be seen in a Wayback Archive’s screen capture from January 10, 2016 and other days from that month when a Google Doodle wasn’t featured.

Capture from the video tweeted from President Trump’s account

One of Wayback Machine’s captures on January 10, 2016

Furthermore, while a link to Trump’s State of the Union does not appear on archived versions of Google’s homepage from January 30, 2018, it does show up on a capture from 1AM on January 31, as Twitter user @WrockBro notes. That may be because the Wayback Machine uses Greenwich Mean Time time stamps.

Not only that, but also this: https://t.co/RfJIKpYGJX

🅱en🛸JPL (@WrockBro) August 30, 2018

The Wayback Machine capture linked by Twitter user @WrockBro

Trump’s tweet is the part of his current onslaught against Google, other tech companies and mainstream media, which he accuses of having a liberal bias and burying news about his administration. It is worth pointing out, however, that Trump’s 2017 first speech to Congress was widely praised as “presidential” by journalists across the political spectrum, even liberal publications. In turn, they were ridiculed by critics for being awed by a president acting presidential.

Twitter suspends more accounts for “engaging in coordinated manipulation”

Following last week’s suspension of 284 accounts for “engaging in coordinated manipulation,” Twitter announced today that it’s kicked an additional 486 accounts off the platform for the same reason, bringing the total to 770 accounts.

While many of the accounts removed last week appeared to originate from Iran, Twitter said this time that about 100 of the latest batch to be suspended claimed to be in the United States. Many of these were less than a year old and shared “divisive commentary.” These 100 accounts tweeted a total of 867 times and had 1,268 followers between them.

Since our initial suspensions last Tuesday, we have continued our investigation, further building our understanding of these networks. In addition, we suspended an additional 486 accounts for violating the policies outlined last week. This brings the total suspended to 770.

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) August 27, 2018

As examples of the “divisive commentary” tweeted, Twitter shared screenshots from several suspended accounts that showed anti-Trump rhetoric, counter to the conservative narrative that the platform unfairly targets Republican accounts.

Fewer than 100 of the 770 suspended accounts claimed to be located in the U.S. and many of these were sharing divisive social commentary. On average, these 100 Tweeted 867 times, were followed by 1, 268 accounts, and were less than a year old. Examples below. pic.twitter.com/LQhbvFjxSo

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) August 27, 2018

Twitter also said that the suspended accounts included one advertiser that spent $30 on Twitter ads last year, but added those ads did not target the U.S. and that the billing address was outside of Iran.

“As with prior investigations, we are committed to engaging with other companies and relevant law enforcement entities. Our goal is to assist investigations into these activities and where possible, we will provide the public with transparency and context on our efforts,” Twitter said on its Safety account.

After years of accusations that it doesn’t enforce its own policies about bullying, bots and other abuses, Twitter has taken a much harder line on problematic accounts in the past few months. Despite stalling user growth, especially in the United States, Twitter has been aggressively suspending accounts, including ones that were created by users to evade prior suspensions.

Twitter announced a drop of one million monthly users in the second quarter, causing investors to panic even though it posted a $100 million profit. In its earnings call, Twitter said that its efforts don’t impact user numbers because many of the “tens of millions” of removed accounts were too new or had been inactive for more than a month and were therefore not counted in active user numbers. The company did admit, however, that it’s anti-spam measures had caused it to lose three million monthly active users.

Whatever its impact on user numbers, Twitter’s anti-abuse measures may help it save face during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on September 5. Executives from Twitter, Facebook and Google are expected to be grilled by Sen. Mark Warner and other politicians about the use of their platforms by other countries to influence U.S. politics.

Finally, a climate change ad specifically for Trump

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It’s no secret that Donald Trump is clueless about climate change.

Given the soaring summer heat in many parts of the globe, including the Arctic Circle, it’s about time the president pay attention. It’s a tricky task, but Jimmy Kimmel might have the solution by creating an ad that puts those issues into terms that Trump can understand.

After all, it’s true that golf courses and fast food supplies will be affected as extreme heat and droughts cause havoc. He wouldn’t want to ruin his handicap. Read more…

More about Politics, Climate Change, Trump, Jimmy Kimmel, and President Trump

Apple removes podcasts from InfoWars’ Alex Jones on iTunes

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Apple has taken a strong stand on InfoWars founder Alex Jones.

According to BuzzFeed, five InfoWars podcasts including War Room and The Alex Jones Show were removed from the iTunes and Podcasts directory, leaving only RealNews with David Knight available on the platform.

An Apple spokesperson confirmed to the news outlet it had taken down some of InfoWars’ podcasts. 

The spokesperson added the company “does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users.”  Read more…

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Spotify bans some Alex Jones episodes, but some say it’s not enough

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Facebook and YouTube hit far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones with minor bans over the last week. Now YouTube has joined the fray. 

The streaming service said it removed some, but not all, of the The Alex Jones Show, citing violations of its hateful content policy.

“We take reports of hate content seriously and review any podcast episode or song that is flagged by our community,” a Spotify spokesperson told Recode in a statement.

“Spotify can confirm it has removed specific episodes of ‘The Alex Jones Show’ podcast for violating our hate content policy.” Read more…

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Trump gets rude welcome in UK thanks to giant crop circle

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A massive crop circle that will troll Trump as he flies over the United Kingdom isn’t the work of aliens, but it’s definitely sending a message.

The crop circle on Moat Farm in Stoke Mandeville says “блядь” in Russian, with “Trump” directly beneath it. The Russian word directly translates to “whore.” It’s also used as an exclamation, much like shit and damn. In this context, it probably translates to “Fuck Trump,” possibly a jab at the president’s chumminess toward Russian president Vladimir Putin. The circle is directly under Trump’s flight path from London to Chequers, where Trump will visit Prime Minister Theresa May on FridayRead more…

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Jimmy Fallon on Trump’s tweet: ‘Shouldn’t he have more important things to do?’

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For the most part, Jimmy Fallon has tried to avoid being political on The Tonight Show. But he can’t avoid it when the politics come to him. 

Following a tweet by Trump which told the late night show host to “be a man,” Fallon responded to the furore in the opening monologue of his show on Monday night.

“When I saw that Trump had insulted me on Twitter, I was going to tweet back immediately, but I had more important things to do,” Fallon joked. “Then I thought, wait, shouldn’t he have more important things to do? What are you doing? You’re the president. Why are you tweeting at me?”

Of course, Fallon isn’t the only late night show host that’s been in Trump’s firing line. Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert also received scorn from the president at a rally on Monday. Read more…

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Samantha Bee apologizes for Ivanka Trump insult, and for it being a distraction

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Following a week of outrage, Samantha Bee opened Wednesday’s episode of Full Frontal by again apologizing for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt.”

The comment came from last week’s episode, when Bee criticized Ivanka Trump for not doing anything against her father’s immigration policies that are pulling migrant families apart.

“I hate that this distracted from more important issues,” Bee said in her opening monologue. “I should’ve known that a potty-mouthed insult would be inherently more interesting to [the media] than juvenile immigration policy.”

“I would do anything to help those kids. I hate that this distracted from them, so to them I am also sorry.” Read more…

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Twitter will give political candidates a special badge during US midterm elections

Ahead of 2018 U.S. midterm elections, Twitter is taking a visible step to combat the spread of misinformation on its famously chaotic platform. In a blog post this week, the company explained how it would be adding “election labels” to the profiles of candidates running for political office.

“Twitter has become the first place voters go to seek accurate information, resources, and breaking news from journalists, political candidates, and elected officials,” the company wrote in its announcement. “We understand the significance of this responsibility and our teams are building new ways for people who use Twitter to identify original sources and authentic information.”

These labels feature a small government building icon and text identifying the position a candidate is running for and the state or district where the race is taking place. The label information included in the profile will also appear elsewhere on Twitter, even when tweets are embedded off-site.

The labels will start popping up after May 30 and will apply to candidates in state governor races as well as those campaigning for a seat in the Senate or the House of Representatives.

Twitter will partner with nonpartisan political nonprofit Ballotpedia to create the candidate labels. In a statement announcing its partnership, Ballotpedia explains how that process will work:

Ballotpedia covers all candidates in every upcoming election occurring within the 100 most-populated cities in the U.S., plus all federal and statewide elections, including ballot measures. After each state primary, Ballotpedia will provide Twitter with information on gubernatorial and Congressional candidates who will appear on the November ballot. After receiving consent from each candidate, Twitter will apply the labels to each candidate profile.

The decision to create a dedicated process to verify political profiles is a step in the right direction for Twitter. With major social platforms still in upheaval over revelations around foreign misinformation campaigns during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Twitter and Facebook need to take decisive action now if they intend to inoculate their users against a repeat threat in 2018.

Michelle Obama is tired of seeing men ‘fail up’

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When Michelle Obama walked onto the stage of Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium Saturday evening, the crowd let loose screams of joy usually reserved for rock stars. 

Audience members, who’d spent the day talking about gender equality as part of the United State of Women summit, listened raptly for 40 minutes as Obama, in conversation with Black-ish actress Tracee Ellis Ross, shared what amounted to life lessons you’d expect from one of the most beloved first ladies in recent history. And when the discussion turned political, Obama got very real. 

More about Women, Gender Equality, Michelle Obama, Social Good, and Politics

Michelle Wolf’s White House roast denounced by the people who booked her

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As you’d expect, comedian Michelle Wolf was hired to deliver some provocative jokes at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Wolf roasted everyone from Trump, to the administration, and the media in her searing address on Saturday night. 

Wolf’s roast was shortly met with criticism, particularly for its jabs at White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ physical appearance, which attracted the ire of pundits who said the comments were too mean.

“Watching a wife and mother be humiliated on national television for her looks is deplorable,” MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski wrote on Twitter.  Read more…

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Man, Shania Twain regrets saying she would have voted for Trump

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Well, that was fast.

Perennial country star of our hearts, Shania Twain, has backtracked on saying she would’ve voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. election.

The revelation came from an interview with The Guardian published on Sunday, which focused on the Canadian artist’s musical career and her shattering divorce with her collaborator and husband Robert Lange. 

On Trump, Twain said, “I would have voted for him because, even though he was offensive, he seemed honest.”

“Do you want straight or polite? Not that you shouldn’t be able to have both. If I were voting, I just don’t want bullshit. I would have voted for a feeling that it was transparent. And politics has a reputation of not being that, right?” she added.  Read more…

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Former FBI deputy director’s GoFundMe for legal defense raises over $250k in 6 hours

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It’s been a pretty strange year for politics. It’s even stranger now that major political figures are crowdfunding their legal fees. 

A GoFundMe stetup by “Friends of Andrew McCabe” launched Thursday to pay for the former FBI deputy director’s legal defense fund. 

McCabe’s GoFundMe is not only trending, it’s also raised a tremendous amount of money in the past few hours. As of the time of writing, it had raised $252,892 in just six short hours. People have been donating so quickly that the campaign increased its goal to $250,000 after it met its original $150,000 goal in less than four hours.  Read more…

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Trump’s Twitter ban on trans troops is official, but he can’t implement it yet. Here’s why.

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President Donald Trump’s tweets banning transgender people from serving in the military have become policy. It’s officially really official. Like for real this time.

But don’t expect the ban to take immediate effect. 

That’s right. It doesn’t matter if the ink’s dry and the policy’s been filed in the Federal Register. Four federal judges have already temporarily blocked the ban from taking effect. 

That’s because several organizations, including GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), sued the U.S. government after Trump tapped out three tweets in July that hurled us into this controversy, blindsiding top military officials and activists.  Read more…

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Facebook’s latest privacy debacle stirs up more regulatory interest from lawmakers

Facebook’s late Friday disclosure that a data analytics company with ties to the Trump campaign improperly obtained — and then failed to destroy — the private data of 50 million users is generating more unwanted attention from politicians, some of whom were already beating the drums of regulation in the company’s direction.

On Saturday morning, Facebook dove into the semantics of its disclosure, arguing against wording in the New York Times story the company was attempting to get out in front of that referred to the incident as a breach. Most of this happened on the Twitter account of Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos before Stamos took down his tweets and the gist of the conversation made its way into an update to Facebook’s official post.

“People knowingly provided their information, no systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked,” the added language argued.

I have deleted my Tweets on Cambridge Analytica, not because they were factually incorrect but because I should have done a better job weighing in.

— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) March 17, 2018

While the language is up for debate, lawmakers don’t appear to be looking kindly on Facebook’s arguably legitimate effort to sidestep data breach notification laws that, were this a proper hack, could have required the company to disclose that it lost track of the data of 50 million users, only 270,000 of which consented to data sharing to the third party app involved. (In April of 2015, Facebook changed its policy, shutting down the API that shared friends data with third-party Facebook apps that they did not consent to sharing in the first place.)

While most lawmakers and politicians haven’t crafted formal statements yet (expect a landslide of those on Monday), a few are weighing in. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar calling for Facebook’s chief executive — and not just its counsel — to appear before the Senate Judiciary committee.

Facebook breach: This is a major breach that must be investigated. It’s clear these platforms can’t police themselves. I’ve called for more transparency & accountability for online political ads. They say “trust us.” Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify before Senate Judiciary.

— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) March 17, 2018

Senator Mark Warner, a prominent figure in tech’s role in enabling Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, used the incident to call attention to a piece of bipartisan legislation called the Honest Ads Act, designed to “prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements.”

“This is more evidence that the online political advertising market is essentially the Wild West,” Warner said in a statement. “Whether it’s allowing Russians to purchase political ads, or extensive micro-targeting based on ill-gotten user data, it’s clear that, left unregulated, this market will continue to be prone to deception and lacking in transparency.”

That call for transparency was echoed Saturday by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey who announced that her office would be launching an investigation into the situation. “Massachusetts residents deserve answers immediately from Facebook and Cambridge Analytica,” Healey tweeted. TechCrunch has reached out to Healey’s office for additional information.

On Cambridge Analytica’s side, it looks possible that the company may have violated Federal Election Commission laws forbidding foreign participation in domestic U.S. elections. The FEC enforces a “broad prohibition on foreign national activity in connection with elections in the United States.”

“Now is a time of reckoning for all tech and internet companies to truly consider their impact on democracies worldwide,” said Nuala O’Connor, President of the Center for Democracy & Technology. “Internet users in the U.S. are left incredibly vulnerable to this sort of abuse because of the lack of comprehensive data protection and privacy laws, which leaves this data unprotected.”

Just what lawmakers intend to do about big tech’s latest privacy debacle will be more clear come Monday, but the chorus calling for regulation is likely to grow louder from here on out.

What would parents do to their kids if they ridiculed a senator? Give them ice cream, apparently

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Wednesday’s CNN town hall on gun violence was always going to be a heated affair.

But the forum also presented numerous opportunities for the students, teachers and parents of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, to confront decision makers about inaction on guns.

Namely Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who was asked by shooting survivor Cameron Kasky if he would reject contributions from the National Rifle Association, in a nod to the lobby group’s political influence.

Cameron Kasky, who survived the school shooting: “Sen. Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?”
Rubio: “People buy into my agenda, and I do support the Second Amendment” #StudentsStandUp https://t.co/ucmVB74g1C

— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 22, 2018 Read more…

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Facebook will verify the location of U.S. election ad buyers by mailing them postcards

 Facebook’s global director of policy programs says it will start sending postcards by snail mail to verify buyers of ads related to United States elections. Katie Harbath, who described the plan at a conference held by the National Association of Secretaries of State this weekend, didn’t reveal when the program will start, but told Reuters that it would be before the… Read More

New Zealand’s prime minister looks like the lead of a crime show in her Vogue shoot

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It’s somewhat rare for New Zealand politicians to attract global attention, but Jacinda Ardern’s star continues to rise.

The current New Zealand Prime Minister is featured in the March issue of Vogue, where she’s been labelled the “anti-Trump,” admired for the way she speaks about poverty and homelessness with a “blend of Bernie Sanders’s bluntness and Elizabeth Warren’s fearlessness.”

But of course, being Vogue, there was plenty of attention dedicated to Ardern’s photoshoot. Clarke Gayford, Ardern’s partner, made the photo his wallpaper.

….well thats the desktop sortedpic.twitter.com/9YlqkiwPEZ

— Clarke Gayford (@NZClarke) February 15, 2018 Read more…

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Serena Williams has no time for divisive Tennys

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Everyone loves an underdog, but the fast-rising Tennys Sandgren is proving to be quite polarising.

The once-unknown Tennessean is the first American male tennis player since 2010 to make the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

But in the past 24 hours, questions have been raised about Sandgren’s alleged alt-right sympathies and belief in the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. It culminated in the player completely purging his Twitter account of tweets.

While support for your countrymen often comes automatic in sports, Serena Williams fired away with a two-word tweet seemingly aimed at Sandgren on Wednesday, who was set to play South Korean starlet Chung Hyeon. Read more…

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Tennis pro Tennys Sandgren’s sudden rise prompts questions over alt-right links

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This year has been rather fruitful for the underdog at the Australian Open tennis tournament. 

One of the unexpected successes is a Tennessean with a funny name, Tennys Sandgren, whose giant-killing efforts have earned him a place at the tournament’s quarterfinal and plenty of admiration.

But as people began to jump on the Sandgren bandwagon, questions have been raised about the player’s alleged support of the so-called alt-right, a white nationalist movement, and the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.

Tweets from the player have been circulated which indicate his support for Mike Cernovich on “fake news,” a denial that America has a problem with systemic racism because it elected a black president twice, and his belief that the “collective evidence is too much to ignore” in regard to the Pizzagate emails. Read more…

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Twitter hits back again at claims that its employees monitor direct messages

 Twitter is pushing back against claims made by conservative activist group Project Veritas that its employees monitor private user data, including direct messages. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a Twitter representative said “we do not proactively review DMs. Period. A limited number of employees have access to such information, for legitimate work purposes, and we enforce strict… Read More

Trump’s racist ‘sh*thole’ comment: Who censored and who didn’t?

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Trump’s racist comment about “shithole” countries shocked with its crudity, leaving the press figuring out how to deal with the word.

The U.S. president used the word to refer to Haiti, El Salvador and other African countries. Trump questioned why its people were were coming to America, and asked lawmakers why the U.S. didn’t accept more people from Norway, a majority Nordic (white) country.

In the original Washington Post report, “shithole” appears in all its unsightliness throughout the article and in its headline.  Read more…

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Pete Souza throws shade at Trump for ‘nuclear button’ tweet

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Pete Souza is back with more Instaburns for Donald Trump, after the latest scary-beyond-all-reason tweet from the president.

The former Chief Official White House Photographer during the Obama Administration, Souza has posted two images on Instagram in response to President Trump’s boast on Twitter that his “nuclear button” was bigger than the one apparently on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s desk.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018 Read more…

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Even Australia’s prime minister isn’t immune from being fined

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Politics might’ve been mad as ever in 2017, so perhaps there’s something oddly normal about a country’s leader getting what is a rather boring fine.

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was issued a A$250 ticket (US$193) on Friday for not wearing a lifejacket when he was moving his dinghy near his Sydney home earlier this week.

The fine was confirmed by the New South Wales maritime authority, who are on the lookout for boaters who are breaking the law — seemingly no matter how distinguished they may be. 

The executive director for NSW Maritime, Angus Mitchell, said it was “a timely reminder during the holiday season to always wear a lifejacket.” Photos of the prime minister sans lifejacket were published in The Australian, which noted the law that had been broken. Read more…

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Franken’s exit hands Dems another 2018 electoral headache

FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2012 file photo, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty looks over the main stage during a sound check at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. U.S. Sen. Al Franken's announcement Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 that he will resign triggers a mad-dash special election in 2018 to finish the Minnesota Democrat's term, with Pawlenty seen as a top possibility for Republicans to cash in an unforeseen pickup chance. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) © The Associated Press FILE – In this Aug. 29, 2012 file photo, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty looks over the main stage during a sound check at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s announcement Thursday… ST. PAUL, Minn. — Sen. Al Franken’s announcement Thursday that he will resign sets off a scramble toward a special election in 2018 to finish the Minnesota Democrat’s term, with former governor and one-time presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty seen as a top possibility for Republicans to cash in an unforeseen pickup chance.

Franken said he would step down “in the coming weeks” after a series of sexual misconduct allegations caused support in his own party to collapse. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton will appoint a replacement to serve until next year’s election.

Franken’s departure is a headache for Democrats, exposing another seat in a midterm election that already had them defending two dozen incumbents.

Republicans are eager to recapture a seat that Franken won in 2008 by a tiny margin and only after a monthslong recount. They’re also hoping the sexual harassment scandal that engulfed Franken will saddle Democrats with enough baggage to help Republicans break through in 2018.

“A lot of the electoral momentum recently has been with Democrats, and I think Franken’s resignation will provide a strong boost for Republicans in Minnesota in 2018,” said Brian McClung, a former aide and longtime adviser to Pawlenty.

Republicans haven’t won statewide in Minnesota since Pawlenty won a second term as governor in 2006. But GOP operatives see a positive sign in President Donald Trump’s narrow loss in 2016 — by just 1.5 percentage points — in a state that hasn’t gone Republican in the presidential race in generations.

“I think this adds one more competitive seat to the mix,” Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who is running the GOP’s Senate election efforts, said.

Former Sen. Norm Coleman, who served one term before losing to Franken, quickly announced he would not run in 2018, but other candidates could emerge.

Pawlenty had eyed the U.S. Senate the year Coleman won: He was minutes away from announcing a campaign in 2002 when a call from then-Vice President Dick Cheney persuaded him not to challenge Coleman. The former two-term governor has been weighing a return to elected office since a failed presidential bid in 2012, a year after he left the governor’s office.

Pawlenty has been CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable for five years, after not seeking a third term as governor and trying unsuccessfully for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. The position with the leading financial services lobbying group in Washington has kept him close to national tax and monetary policy, including the GOP-controlled Congress’ tax plans this year.

“He’s always had an interest in the Senate, so there’s every reason to believe that conversation will be refreshed,” former Coleman aide Josh Holmes said. Holmes is also a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is largely responsible for candidate recruiting in his drive to retain a majority.

Pawlenty did not return calls seeking comment.

Other Republicans who may consider running include State House Speaker Kurt Daudt, who has been considering seeking the governor’s office, and Rep. Tom Emmer, who represents the state’s most conservative congressional district and narrowly lost to Dayton in 2010 before going on to win a House seat.

On the Democratic side, Franken’s departure adds to the strain for a party trying to cut into the GOP’s two-seat margin in the Senate while having to defend many more seats.

Ten Democratic senators are seeking re-election in states Trump carried last year. Robust Republican primary campaigns are already underway in several, including in Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Democrats are defending 23 seats overall, while the GOP is defending nine. Two independents who caucus with Democrats also face re-election.

Democrats’ hopes in Minnesota could ride on someone shifting out of next year’s race for governor. A handful of top candidates — U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, state Rep. Erin Murphy and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman — have spent months connecting with party activists and their donors would be critical in a costly election.

Dayton’s appointment could give someone a running start for a 2018 campaign, but the governor may also choose to simply make a short-term replacement, tabbing someone who doesn’t plan to face voters.

His lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, has been most frequently mentioned for the temporary appointment. She’s known largely for behind-the-scenes work, including as Dayton’s former chief of staff. She ran former Vice President Walter Mondale’s brief Senate campaign in 2002 after Sen. Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash. She also served as a top executive at Planned Parenthood in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

But Smith previously announced she wouldn’t run for governor next year, suggesting that if she gets the appointment she would be no more than a caretaker.

Dayton could also look to a pair of fellow Democratic statewide elected officials: Attorney General Lori Swanson or State Auditor Rebecca Otto.

Or he might choose to send a loud signal against sexual harassment by picking Rep. Erin Maye Quade, a Democratic state lawmaker who, along with other women, accused two fellow state lawmakers of sexual harassment, resulting in their resignation last month.

Dayton said he would make his appointment “in a couple of days.”

Associated Press writers Tom Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa and Kevin Freking in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2015, file photo, Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith speaks in St. Paul, Minn. Smith is a possible replacement to fill U.S. Sen. Al Franken's seat after he announced his resignation amid multiple sexual misconduct allegations Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, on the Senate floor in Washington. His resignation means Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a fellow Democrat, will name a temporary replacement. The winner of a special election in November would serve through the end of Franken's term in January of 2021. (Aaron Lavinsky /Star Tribune via AP, File) © The Associated Press FILE – In this Jan. 10, 2015, file photo, Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith speaks in St. Paul, Minn. Smith is a possible replacement to fill U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s seat after he announced his resignation amid multiple sexual misconduct… FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2017, file photo, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., listens during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Franken, facing fresh allegations of sexual misconduct and vanishing support from fellow Democrats, appears on the brink of resigning from the Senate. Franken's office said he will make an announcement Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in a speech on the Senate floor. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) © The Associated Press FILE – In this Sept. 20, 2017, file photo, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., listens during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Franken, facing fresh allegations of sexual misconduct and vanishing support from fellow Democrats…

MSNBC trolls Donald Trump with Obama ‘Merry Christmas’ montage

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According to Donald Trump, Donald Trump is solely responsible for coining the term “fake news,” Making America Great Again, and of course, bringing the phrase “Merry Christmas” back into the White House.

On Wednesday, Donny T. delivered a tax reform speech in St. Charles, Missouri, that started and ended with a focus on Christmas. Trump bragged and bragged about how he is the one bringing Christmas back to America, acting as though former presidents straight-up banned the holiday from the calendar or something.

MSNBC decided to investigate his claims, and believe it or not, it turns out Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, did in fact have those two words in his vocabulary. Can you imagine? Read more…

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Garrison Keillor fired, says he put hand on woman’s back

By JEFF BAENEN, Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Garrison Keillor, the former host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” said Wednesday he has been fired by Minnesota Public Radio over allegations of what the network called improper behavior.

Keillor told The Associated Press of his firing in an email. In a follow-up statement, he said he was fired over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.”

Keillor didn’t detail the allegation to AP, but in an email to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Keillor said he had put his hand on a woman’s bare back in an attempt to console her.

“I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it,” Keillor told the newspaper. “We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”

Garrison Keillor © AP Photo/Jim Mone Garrison Keillor Minnesota Public Radio confirmed Keillor had been fired, saying it received a single allegation against Keillor about “inappropriate behavior” and didn’t know of any other allegations. MPR said it was notified of the allegation last month and that it stemmed from Keillor’s conduct when he was responsible for producing “A Prairie Home Companion.”

In his statement to AP, Keillor said it was “poetic irony to be knocked off the air by a story, having told so many of them myself. But I’m 75 and don’t have any interest in arguing about this. And I cannot in conscience bring danger to a great organization I’ve worked hard for since 1969.”

Keillor retired as host of the long-running public radio variety show in 2016. His hand-picked successor, mandolinist Chris Thile, is in his second season as “Prairie Home” host. After Keillor retired, he continued to work with MPR on other projects.

The firing Wednesday came shortly after Keillor, an avowed Democrat, wrote a syndicated column that ridiculed the idea that Sen. Al Franken should resign over allegations of sexual harassment.

MPR also said the name of the show, produced and distributed nationwide by American Public Media, would be changed. The show has been named “A Prairie Home Companion” for more than 40 years. MPR also said it will end distribution of “The Writer’s Almanac,” Keillor’s daily reading of a poem and telling of literary events, and end rebroadcasts of “The Best of A Prairie Home Companion” hosted by Keillor.

Keillor started “A Prairie Home Companion” as a Saturday evening show in 1974, featuring tales of his fictional Minnesota hometown of Lake Wobegon “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”

The show featured musical acts, folksy humor, parody ads for fake products such as Powdermilk Biscuits and the centerpiece, Keillor delivering a seemingly off-the-cuff monologue, “The News From Lake Wobegon,” in his rich baritone voice.

“A person could not hope for more than what I was given,” Keillor said in his statement Wednesday to AP.

Keillor bowed out with a final show at the Hollywood Bowl in July 2016, and turned the show over to Thile, a mandolinist and frequent “Prairie Home” guest musician. Keillor went on a 28-city bus tour this summer, vowing it would be his last tour, but he continues on the road with solo shows.

Keillor still produces the radio show, “The Writer’s Almanac,” for syndication, and is finishing a Lake Wobegon screenplay and a memoir about growing up in Minnesota.

Thile’s record company referred a request for comment from the AP to MPR.

Army veteran says Franken groped her during USO tour in 2003

Stephanie Kemplin poses with Al Franken in 2003.
© Stephanie Kemplin Stephanie Kemplin poses with Al Franken in 2003. An Army veteran says Sen. Al Franken groped her in December 2003, telling CNN that while she was deployed in Kuwait, the Minnesota Democrat cupped her breast during a photo op.

Stephanie Kemplin, 41, of Maineville, Ohio, is the fifth woman in two weeks to accuse Franken of inappropriate touching, and the second person to allege that such behavior took place while Franken was on a USO tour. Three of the five women have been identified by name.

Kemplin said while she was stationed in the Middle East during the Iraq War, she met Franken — at the time, a comedian and writer — as he was visiting American troops with the USO. A longtime fan of “Saturday Night Live,” Kemplin got in line to take a photo with Franken.

“When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast,” Kemplin said in an interview. “I’ve never had a man put their arm around me and then cup my breast. So he was holding my breast on the side.”

Kemplin repeatedly used the word “embarrassed” to describe her immediate reaction at the time.

“I remember clenching up and how you just feel yourself flushed,” she said. “And I remember thinking — is he going to move his hand? Was it an accident? Was he going to move his hand? He never moved his hand.”

She added: “It was long enough that he should have known if it was an accident. I’m very confident saying that.”

Kemplin estimated that the touching lasted anywhere from five to 10 seconds. She said she eventually turned her body to shift Franken’s hand off her breast before the picture was taken.

In a photo shared with CNN, Kemplin — who was 27 at the time and a military police officer — is smiling widely with the left side of her face pressed against Franken’s right cheek. Franken’s right arm is wrapped around Kemplin’s back and his hand is on her side at chest-level, and does not appear to be on her breast in the photo.

Looking back at the picture, Kemplin said she recalls feeling frozen and numb: “I did not process it in those split seconds.”

A Franken spokesperson told CNN Wednesday night: “As Sen. Franken made clear this week, he takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people and he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct. He remains fully committed to cooperating with the ethics investigation.”

‘I just feel so sorry for that young girl in that picture.’

In one of multiple lengthy phone calls with a CNN reporter this week, Kemplin repeatedly broke into sobs.

“I was in a war zone… You were on a USO tour — are you trying to boost the morale of the troops or are you trying to boost your own?” she said. “I just feel so sorry for that young girl in that picture.”

Kemplin said she did not say anything to Franken at the time.

“You’re immediately put on the spot. What are you going to do? What are you going to do? Your mind goes a mile a minute,” she said. “Who was I going to tell?”

She also doesn’t recall telling any fellow soldiers about the incident afterwards because she felt ashamed and did not have peers she felt she could confide in. But she discussed it with multiple family members and relatives, including her sister, as well as an ex-boyfriend. CNN interviewed both.

Amy Muddiman, Kemplin’s older sister, said she remembers Kemplin being excited that Franken was coming to visit because she had grown up watching SNL.

“I just remember her telling me that he grabbed her breast and that she was so shocked about it,” Muddiman said. “My sister is pretty bold and assertive and she said that she didn’t know what to do.”

One of Kemplin’s ex-boyfriends was also in the Army and he and Kemplin dated after the two of them returned to the United States. He asked not to be named to protect his privacy. He told CNN that while he did not remember all of the details of what Kemplin described of her encounter with Franken, she said “he went to put his arm around her and copped a feel.”

Kemplin’s account sounds similar to others

Kemplin’s story bears striking resemblance to those of several other women who have accused Franken of groping in recent days.

Lindsay Menz of Frisco, Texas, told CNN last week that Franken grabbed her buttocks while the two took a photo together at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. The Huffington Post also reported that two women, whose identities were not revealed, said Franken touched their buttocks in 2007 and 2008.

These stories came after Leeann Tweeden, morning news anchor on KABC radio in Los Angeles, revealed that Franken groped and forcibly kissed her during a USO tour in 2006.

Kemplin said when she saw Tweeden’s story on social media, she “felt like the rug was pulled out from underneath me” because she had tried not to think about her run-in with Franken in years.

Kemplin reached out to Tweeden two days after Tweeden went public with her story, and the two women spoke on the phone a few days later. In one of their subsequent conversations, Tweeden asked Kemplin if she could connect her with a CNN reporter.

Over the past two weeks, Kemplin also wrote about her 2003 meeting with Franken on Facebook in two posts visible to her friends on the social network. One relative, whose name CNN is not using to protect the person’s privacy, commented on Facebook that her husband “remembers you telling him about (Franken) years ago.”

Kemplin, who now works as a federal contractor investigating Medicare fraud, is a registered Republican and said she voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election. 

Kemplin recounts sexual assault by fellow soldier

One reason Kemplin said the Franken news has hit her especially hard in recent days is because she was the victim of sexual assault while serving overseas.

She said she was assaulted by a specialist with whom she shared a tent in 2003, just months before her run-in with Franken. The details of the assault were shared with CNN but are not being disclosed at Kemplin’s request.

CNN has also reviewed Kemplin’s military records. She was discharged honorably in 2008.

Sean Chambers, the platoon sergeant who oversaw Kemplin while she was deployed in Kuwait, described Kemplin in an interview as a “model soldier” who was honest, friendly and quiet.

Chambers said she confided in him about having been inappropriately touched by a member of their unit, though she did not divulge to him the full details at the time. An investigation was launched into Kemplin’s complaint of “indecent assault.”

According to documents viewed by CNN, Kemplin was eventually told that while the whole incident was “totally inappropriate behavior,” the accused specialist was not guilty of “indecent assault.” In addition, she was told that she was “responsible” for having allowed the male specialist to get close to her.

“I was really pissed off. It was not right,” Chambers said. “My reaction was: when is it ever the victim’s fault?”

He added: “I believe Stephanie. I believe that something did happen. I’ve seen sexual assault victims before in my line of work and the trauma that they face and there’s no doubt in my mind that something happened.”

Re-living her encounter with Franken, Kemplin said, has brought up memories of that assault

Kemplin struggled to re-acclimate when she came home from Iraq. Today she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has trouble sleeping. One of her coping mechanisms since the war, Kemplin said, is to “shut down” and block out certain negative memories, particularly when she is feeling overwhelmed. She has described this in the past as a kind of selective “memory loss.”

She said she is certain some people will question her story about Franken, because she is only choosing to speak out years later: “Nobody wants to believe anybody if you don’t immediately stand up and say something.”

Franken has repeatedly apologized about behavior that he said “crossed a line” for some women. The second-term senator has also said that he has taken thousands of photos with people over the years and that while he doesn’t remember specific pictures or campaign events, any inappropriate behavior was unintentional.

Franken faces a potential investigation under by the Senate Ethics Committee, and has said he will fully cooperate with the probe.

In a news conference on Capitol Hill this week, CNN asked Franken why he was unable to answer the question of whether more women could come forward with allegations of sexual harassment.

“If you had asked me two weeks ago, would any woman come forward with an allegation like this, I would have said no,” Franken said. “And so I cannot speculate. This has been a shock and it’s been extremely humbling. I am embarrassed. I feel ashamed.”

CNN’s Ryan Browne contributed to this report.

Woman says Al Franken inappropriately touched her in 2010

Franken poses with Lindsay Menz, a 33-year-old woman who now lives in Frisco, Texas.
© Lindsay Menz Franken poses with Lindsay Menz, a 33-year-old woman who now lives in Frisco, Texas. A woman says Sen. Al Franken inappropriately touched her in 2010, telling CNN that he grabbed her buttocks while taking a photo at the Minnesota State Fair.

It is the first allegation of improper touching by Franken, who is a Democrat, while he was in office. It comes just days after Leeann Tweeden, a local radio news anchor in California, said that Franken forcibly kissed and groped her in 2006, when Franken was a comedian.

Franken has since issued an apology to Tweeden and faces a potential investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee.

Lindsay Menz, a 33-year-old woman who now lives in Frisco, Texas, reached out to CNN on Thursday hours after Tweeden made her story public. Menz said she wanted to share an “uncomfortable” interaction that left her feeling “gross.”

According to Menz, she attended the Minnesota State Fair with her husband and father in the summer of 2010, almost two years after Franken was elected to the Senate. Her father’s small business was sponsoring a local radio booth, and she spent the day meeting various elected officials, political candidates and celebrities and taking photos with them as they stopped by the booth.

When Franken walked in, Menz and her husband, who also spoke with CNN, said they recognized him right away. Menz said she had a brief and cordial exchange with the senator.

Then, as her husband held up her phone and got ready to snap a photo of the two of them, Franken “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear,” Menz said. “It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek.”

“It wasn’t around my waist. It wasn’t around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt,” she said, recalling that the brazen act lasted three or four seconds. “I was like, oh my God, what’s happening.”

“He reached around her and kind of pulled her into him,” said her husband Jeremy Menz, who didn’t see what happened behind his wife. “He pulled her in and pushed his head against her head. It was over pretty quick.”

Lindsay Menz told CNN that she walked away as soon as the photo was taken, without saying anything to the then-first term senator. When she reconnected with her husband moments later, she told him: “He totally grabbed my butt.” Jeremy Menz described that conversation the same way to CNN.

In a statement to CNN Sunday, Franken said he did not remember taking the photo with Menz and that he felt “badly” that she felt disrespected.

“I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don’t remember taking this picture,” Franken said. “I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”

“I felt gross. It’d be like being walking through the mall and some random person grabbing your butt,” Lindsay Menz said. “You just feel gross. Like ew, I want to wash that off of me.”

“I was upset. I wasn’t happy about it in the least,” Jeremy Menz said. “He was already gone and I wasn’t going to confront him. But yeah — I was in shock, really.”

Menz’s father, Mark Brown, was also in the radio booth that day but didn’t witness the moment. But he told CNN that his daughter told him about the incident right away.

Menz’s mother, Jodi Brown, also told CNN that she discussed the incident with her daughter immediately after it happened. She said she distinctly recalls her son-in-law saying to her: “Our senator just groped my wife right in front of me.”

In the photo of Menz and Franken, the side of the senator’s face is pressed up against Menz’s but the lower halves of their bodies are not shown. Both of them are smiling.

Menz posted the photo with Franken on Facebook at the time, on August 27, 2010. Her sister, Cari Thunker, commented under the photo: “Sorry, but you two aren’t Bibles (sic) width apart” — a reference, Thunker explained to CNN, to how physically close Menz and Franken were in the photo.

Menz responded to her sister on Facebook: “Dude — Al Franken TOTALLY molested me! Creeper!” (The exchange is visible to Menz’s Facebook friends.)

Minnesota statutes state that “intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the buttocks” is not considered criminal sexual conduct.

Menz told CNN that what happened immediately after she took the photo with Franken that summer day in 2010 has also stayed with her. Standing nearby was another politician — then-Minnesota Rep. John Kline.

As she was getting ready to take a picture with Kline, Menz said the congressman asked her whether they should “mutually put our arms around each other” — an interaction that struck her as being in stark contrast with what she had experienced moments ago with Franken.

Reached on the phone on Friday, Kline, a Republican who retired from Congress this year, confirmed that he attended the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, as he did most years. Kline could not remember seeing the interaction between Menz and Franken. But when CNN described Menz’s recollection of her interaction with Kline before they took a photo together, he told CNN: “As a matter of practice, I did that all the time.”

“If somebody wanted a picture, I would ask: should I put my arm on your back or your shoulder?” Kline said. He said that as a congressman, he was particularly inclined to do this when taking photos with women.

Lindsay and Jeremy Menz moved from Minnesota to Texas in 2014. Lindsay Menz is now a stay-at-home-mom of three young kids. Neither is registered with a political party and she said she has equally supported Republican and Democratic candidates while he said he has tended to favor Republicans. The couple voted last year for Donald Trump, and Menz said she has voted for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is a Democrat, in the past. Menz said she believes she has voted for Franken as well, but is not sure.

RELATED: Democrats, liberal groups are on the defensive following Franken revelations

When Menz saw the news of Tweeden’s allegations against Franken on Thursday, she immediately discussed her own run-in with the senator from 2010 with her family. She also posted about it on Twitter and Facebook.

A friend encouraged Menz to contact a CNN reporter after seeing the network’s coverage of sexual harassment in recent days. Menz was emphatic that she “absolutely” would not have decided to share her story had Tweeden not done the same.

“I don’t want to paint my story in the same light as hers,” Menz said, saying she believes what happened to Tweeden is much worse.

Still, she said, “the reason I want to say something is if someone sees that I said something, maybe it would give them the courage to say something too.”

Franken has not made further statements to the press since releasing two apologies on Thursday. He has said he intends to fully cooperate if there is a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into his behavior.

“I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed,” he said in a statement. “I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.”

Woman says Franken groped, kissed her without consent in 2006

Updated 3:09 PM ET, Thu November 16, 2017

(CNN) – A woman said Thursday that Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken groped her and kissed her without her consent in 2006 while she was on a USO Tour overseas.

Leeann Tweeden is now a morning news anchor on TalkRadio 790 KABC in Los Angeles and posted her story in a lengthy post on the station’s website.
The incidents happened before Franken was elected to the Senate in 2008 and was seated in 2009 following a recount.
 
Tweeden described the harassment as being part of a script for a USO skit where Franken wrote where he’s supposed to kiss her. She writes that Franken repeatedly insisted they rehearse the kissing scene despite her protests. When she relented, Franken, “put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.”
“Senator Franken, you wrote the script,” Tweeden wrote. “But there’s nothing funny about sexual assault.”
 
She also included a photo in which Franken appears to grabbing Tweeden’s breast while she’s asleep.
 

 
“I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep,” Tweeden writes. “I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.”
 
In a statement to reporters, Franken said he doesn’t remember the forced kissing, but said he shouldn’t have conducted his behavior as he did in the photo.
 
“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” Franken said. “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”
 
Franken released a longer statement several hours after his initial one, where he described a lengthier apology and said he “didn’t know what” was in his head when he took the actions in the photo.
 
“The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine — is: I’m sorry,” Franken said in the email statement.
 
He continued, “I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.”
Franken continued to say he didn’t remember the exact actions of the rehearsal skit, but added, “I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.”
At a news conference, Tweeden was asked if she accepted Franken’s apology.
 
“There’s no reason why I shouldn’t accept his apology,” she said. “I wasn’t looking for anything.”
 
Tweeden also recounted her 2006 encounter with Franken during the news conference, describing in detail the moment in which Franken kissed her.
She said he stuck his tongue in her mouth “so fast.”
 
“All I could remember is that his lips were really wet and it was slimy. In my mind I called him fish lips the rest of the trip because that’s what it reminded me of,” she said.
Tweeden said she “pushed” Franken off, and that she almost punched him.
 
“I pushed him off with my hands, I just remember I almost punched him … Every time I see him now, my hands clench into fists,” she said.
 
After the incident, which Tweeden said she did not report at the time, she said she made sure she was never alone with Franken again.
 
Asked whether she believes Franken should step down, Tweeden said that “people make mistakes.”
 
“I’m not calling on him to step down,” she said. “That’s not my place.” However, she added that her opinion may change if other women come forward with similar allegations.
The comments about Franken come at a time when Congress is conducting a review of its policy for addressing sexual harassment and how it handles complaints. The House held a hearing on the issue earlier this week, and both chambers have now required mandatory sexual harassment training. The changes to Capitol Hill follow the ground-shaking allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct that have swept industries, organizations and institutions worldwide.
 
Franken acknowledged that cultural change in his revised statement.
 
“Over the last few months, all of us — including and especially men who respect women — have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women,” Franken said.
 
Tweeden said she’s coming forward now after hearing testimony from women — including California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier — who have shared similar stories of men in power who have committed sexual harassment and sexual assault.
 
“I want to have the same effect on them that Congresswoman Jackie Speier had on me,” Tweeden wrote. “I want them, and all the other victims of sexual assault, to be able to speak out immediately, and not keep their stories –and their anger– locked up inside for years, or decades.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, said the issue should be referred to the ethics committee.
“As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this,” McConnell said in a written statement. “Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable—in the workplace or anywhere else.”
Franken said he would cooperate with the committee’s investigation.
 
The allegations have already been injected into politics, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee tying senators running for re-election to Franken and the National Republican Campaign Committee demanding that Democratic candidates who had received campaign money from Franken to return those donations.
Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the highest ranking woman in the Democratic Senate leadership said Franken’s apology “doesn’t reverse what he’s done or end the matter”.
Murray said, “This is unacceptable behavior and extremely disappointing. I am glad Al came out and apologized, but that doesn’t reverse what he’s done or end the matter. I support an ethics committee investigation into these accusations, and I hope this latest example of the deep problems on this front spurs continued action to address it. “
Franken mentioned Tweeden on the Senate floor in September 2010 and called her a “beautiful woman” during a speech about his past USO tours and the jokes he would tell regarding the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
 
“And during the show I would, I was kind of co-host with a beautiful woman named Leeann Tweeden, and we’d do comedy routines, we’d introduce music, we’d introduce cheerleaders,” Franken said. “I’d go out and do a monologue, and this is something I would do, I’ve done for a number of years, and I’d go out and I would say, you know, I’ve done now seven USO tours and every year I’m just more and more impressed with the US military, except one thing I do not get, it’s the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.”
 
This story has been updated and will continue to update with developments

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Jimmy Kimmel tears apart his critics on health care bill

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https://twitter.com/Beschizza/status/900516331522535429

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