Emails show Hillary’s political sleuthing


AP photo


A new batch of Hillary Clinton’s emails made public by the State Department Monday night show her expressing interest in the presidential aspirations of Gen. David Petraeus, who ultimately took a job as CIA director in the Obama administration instead of running for president in 2012 and was then driven out of government by scandal.

Clinton–who’s now the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination next year–sounded intrigued when her longtime friend Sidney Blumenthal reported to her on a Saturday morning in February 2010 that prominent Washington foreign policy blogger Steve Clemons said Petraeus was talking frankly about the possibility of running for the White House.

“Clemons had dinner this week with Petraeus, who freely talked about running for president,” Blumenthal wrote to Clinton.

“Will he write about Petraeus?” Clinton wrote back five minutes later.

Moments later, Blumenthal sent Clinton Clemons’ post mentioning the off-the-record dinner and discussing the relative political merits of Petraeus, Vice President Joe Biden and Clinton herself.

“Clemons… told me more detail about [Petraeus’] attitude and interest,” Blumenthal said, adding a couple of nuggets.

Four months later, Petraeus was abruptly named the U.S. commander in Afghanistan after President Barack Obama essentially fired Gen. Stanley McCrystal over disrespectful comments his aides made about Biden. Clinton’s top communications adviser, Philippe Reines, opined that the new assignment would be seen as a way to take Petraeus, said to describe himself as a Rockefeller Republican, out of contention as a potential presidential candidate in 2012.

“My bet on the direction this now takes is two fronts 1) does Petreaus make any big changes; can he do in Afghanistan what he did in Iraq; his health; political benefits of locking him up like Huntsman,” Reines wrote to top Clinton advisers, referring to perceptions that Huntsman was out of the running for 2012 because he accepted an appointment from Obama to be U.S. Ambassador to China. The email was later forwarded to Clinton by her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills.

Huntsman did run for the GOP nomination in 2012 but did poorly and dropped out. Petraeus was named CIA director in 2011 but resigned after the 2012 elections when a federal investigation of alleged cyberstalking exposed an extramarital affair he had with his biographer.

In addition to keeping tabs on Petraeus, Clinton also expressed interest in reports that former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta was expressing criticism of Obama White House management. “Send me the next article about Podesta,” she asked Blumenthal. Previously released emails show Clinton chafing at perceived snubs from Obama’s national security team and her team in some apparent friction with then National Security Adviser Jim Jones.

In the same month as the exchanges about Petraeus, Clinton also sent Mills an article by Les Gelb arguing for a shake-up of Obama’s White House team, including the removal of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. In the email forwarding the column, Clinton doesn’t say if she agrees or disagrees with the diagnosis or the prescription. She simply writes:”FYI.”

The new insights into Clinton’s political intelligence-gathering come from messages that are among a batch of more than 7,000 pages of emails the State Department put online Monday night, complying with a judge’s order to make monthly releases in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The order followed the revelation in March that Clinton exclusively used a private email account and server during her four years as secretary of state, jeopardizing earlier responses to FOIA requests and triggering Republican claims that she endangered national security by allowing sensitive messages to be stored on an unofficial system.

While dozens of senior officials and Clinton friends were in the loop about her email setup, the newly-disclosed messages show some on State’s tech support team were clearly in the dark.

“I work as a Help Desk Analyst and it has come to my attention that one of our customers has been receiving permanent fatal errors from this address, can you please confirm if you receive this message,” State Department IT specialist Christopher Butzgy wrote in a message that Clinton forwarded to top aide Huma Abedin inquiring about its contents.

“What happened is judith an email. It bounced back. She called the email help desk at state (I guess assuming u had state email) and told them that. They had no idea it was YOU, just some random address so they emailed. Sorry about that. But regardless, means ur email must be back! R u getting other messages?” Abedin emailed Clinton.

The debate over the wisdom of Clinton’s use of the private account got new fodder Monday when State declared another 125 of the former secretary’s emails classified on national security grounds. The new classifications roughly triple the number of messages on Clinton’s account now considered classified, bringing the total to 188 from 63.

However, State Department spokesman Mark Toner stressed that the information was not marked classified at the time it was sent several years ago. He also said the decision to classify the information did not represent a determination that it should have been marked or handled that way back then.

“That certainly does not speak to whether it was classified at the time it was sent, or forwarded, or received,” Toner said during the daily State Department briefing Monday afternoon, before the release. “We stand by our contention that the information we’ve upgraded was not marked classified at the time it was sent.”

At the briefing, Toner had said he expected the number of classified messages in the lastest set to be “somewhere around 150.” Asked about the final tally for this batch being about 25 fewer, State officials said Toner’s number was simply a rough estimate. They also said some of the information classified in Monday’s release was identical to information withheld in earlier batches.

The Republican National Committee called the latest release another reason to doubt Clinton can be trusted with the presidency.

“These new emails show Hillary Clinton exposed even more classified information on her secret server than previously known,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement. “On hundreds of occasions, Hillary Clinton’s reckless attempt to skirt transparency laws put sensitive information and our national security at risk. With the FBI continuing to investigate, Hillary Clinton’s growing email scandal shows she cannot be trusted with the White House.”

After first saying there was no classified information in her account, Clinton has said more recently that nothing was marked classified. She has said she used the private account for convenience, but that in retrospect it was a bad choice. Clinton has also described the classification system as arcane, while her aides have described it as dysfunctional.

As Clinton faces questions about whether she mishandled classified information, the emails released Monday show how she and her staff responded in late 2010 to the largest breach of classified information in U.S. history: WikiLeaks’ disclosure of 250,000 diplomatic cables. An Army intelligence analyst, Pvt. Chelsea Manning, was eventually court martialed for the leaks and sentenced to 35 years in prison.

The emails about the response to WikiLeaks–some of them classified–show U.S. officials reaching out to foreign governments to assuage them after the publication of U.S. cables calling foreign leaders corrupt.

One message forwarded to Clinton reports that Near East Affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman reached out to leaders in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to try to mitigate the damage done by the WikiLeaks disclosures. Much of the message was withheld from Monday’s release after being classified “CONFIDENTIAL,” although it was originally marked as “sensitive but unclassified.”

Another email forwarded to Clinton said the president of Kenya had called in the U.S. ambassador to dress him down after WikiLeaks disclosed cables saying the government was steeped in corruption.

After State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley forwarded Clinton a Swedish cartoon showing Clinton using a wrench trying to shut down the flow of information to WikiLeaks, she wrote back: “It certainly hits the mark. Can you hand me a wrench?”

“I can think of several folks for you to toss that wrench at!” Crowley replied.

While Clinton took a hard line against the WikiLeaks disclosures, the messages show that during her time as secretary she was sometimes frustrated by the mechanics of the State Department’s systems for dealing with classified and unclassified information.

When Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan told her in February 2010 he couldn’t send her a Mideast peace-related statement former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had issued, Clinton seemed irritated. “It’s a public statement! Just email it,” she wrote. Sullivan replied that it was impossible to do that because the only information was in State’s classified system. “Trust me, I share your exasperation. But until ops converts it to the unclassified email system, there is no physical way for me to email it. I can’t even access it,” Sullivan wrote.

Nearly all the information officially classified by the State Department in prior and the latest email releases involved diplomatic strategy or information provided by foreign governments. All the new classifications were at the “CONFIDENTIAL” level, the lowest tier in the U.S. classification system. So far only one message has been officially classified at a higher level, “SECRET,” although intelligence agency officials say some of the messages from Clinton’s account contain even more highly classified information.

Toner batted away questions Monday about whether State Department policy dictated that Clinton and other agency employees treat as classified information obtained in confidence from foreign officials or diplomats.

“Classification — we’ve said this many times — is not an exact science. It’s not, often, a black-and-white process,” Toner said. “There’s many strong opinions. … It’s not up to me to litigate these kinds of questions from the State Department podium.”

When releasing the messages, the State Department deletes any content deemed classified, notes the reason for the deletion, the classification level and who made the decision to classify. The agency then releases the remainder of the message unless it is subject to another Freedom of Information Act exemption.

The State Department posted the 7,121 additional pages of Clinton’s emails on the agency’s website at about 9 p.m. Monday, revealing more details from Clinton’s time as secretary of state from 2009 to 2010.

Toner did not elaborate on the nighttime posting but stressed that the volume of messages being made public Monday exceeded the approximately 6,000 pages released thus far.

“We’re producing more documents this month than we have in the previous three releases in May, June and July combined,” he told reporters. “Meeting this goal is really a testament to our commitment to releasing these emails to the public as expeditiously as possible.”

The last nighttime release of Clinton’s emails, in June, prompted questions of whether the State Department was trying to minimize the impact of bad news. State spokesman John Kirby on Monday denied that, saying that the timing was the product of the volume of emails to be processed and posted, and a monthly deadline set by a federal judge. However, Kirby apologized for the inconvenience the nighttime posting caused for journalists and said his agency would seek to avoid such off-hours activity in the future.

The Intelligence Community inspector general has said at least two emails on Clinton’s account contained “top secret” information subject to special protection because it was derived from electronic or aerial surveillance. The State Department has disputed that conclusion. The FBI is also conducting an investigation of how the arguably classified material made it onto Clinton’s server.

Clinton has portrayed the furor over classification of her emails as unrelated to her decision to use a private email account, since classified information is not supposed to be sent on any system not approved for that purpose, whether private or government-owned.

“If I had had a separate government account … we would be going through the same process,” Clinton told reporters earlier this month at a news conference in Las Vegas. “It has nothing to do with me and it has nothing to do with the fact that my account was personal.”

While Clinton has repeatedly described the email controversy as one dwelled upon by journalists and her political opponents, she changed her tone somewhat last week, allowing that some members of the public do have legitimate questions about the issue. “I know people have raised questions about my email use as secretary of state, and I understand why,” she said at a campaign stop in Iowa. “My use of personal email was allowed by the State Department. It clearly wasn’t the best choice. … I take responsibility for that decision.”

The emails come from a set of about 54,000 pages of messages Clinton turned over to her former agency in December after a request from a top official there.

In May, the State Department released 847 pages from the emails relating to Benghazi and Libya more broadly that had been provided to the House Select Committee on Benghazi earlier in the year.

State initially proposed holding back the rest of Clinton’s emails until next January and releasing them in one large batch in response to pending Freedom of Information Act requests. However, U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras rejected that approach and ordered monthly releases from June through early next year.

In June, State released 3,095 pages, many of which highlighted the influence of outside Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal. but the pace of disclosures slowed with a July release of just 2,206 pages. State officials said the slowdown, which caused the agency to fall short of a goal set by Contreras, was the result of new procedures to make sure intelligence agencies were fully consulted about the content of emails planned for release.

Officials had said in court filings that they planned to make up some of the deficit this month and to be back on track by next month. However, the new release of more than 7,000 pages put the agency back in line with the judge’s order.

Clinton and her aides have suggested that as more of her emails are released, people will get a better sense of how she’s doing her job and the controversy will diminish. That may turn out to be true as the monthly releases continue into next year. However, for now, each round of disclosures provides new fodder for Republicans and other critics questioning the wisdom, propriety and even the legality of the arrangement.

10 things you need to know today: September 1, 2015

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)


1. High Court says Kentucky clerk must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a Kentucky county clerk’s request for permission to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couplesdue to her religious beliefs. The ruling does not end the challenge by the clerk, Kim Davis, but it means that she will have to start issuing the licenses, or face the possibility of being held in contempt, which could mean daily fines and even jail time. Davis, an Apostolic Christian, stopped issuing all marriages licenses after the court’s June 26 decision saying gay couples had a constitutional right to marry.

Source: USA Today

2. Latest batch of Clinton emails contains dozens with classified information
The State Department released 7,000 more pages of Hillary Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state, including 125 messages that had been redacted because they contained classified information. None of the emails were deemed classified when they were sent in 2009 and 2010, a State Department spokesman said. The release was the biggest yet under a monthly disclosure order ordered by a court after it was revealed Clinton had used a private email server as secretary of state.

Source: Reuters, The New York Times

3. Obama says politicians who don’t fight climate change aren’t “fit to lead”
President Obama on Monday called for world leaders to do more to fight climate change as he started a three-day tour of Alaska. Obama said nations around the world are facing more droughts, more floods, rising sea levels, and other problems, and unless stronger action is taken now we will “condemn our children to a world they will no longer have the capacity to repair.” He added that any politician “who refuses to take this issue seriously or treats it like a joke, is not fit to lead.”

Source: NBC News

4. Ben Carson catches Donald Trump in Iowa poll
Ben Carson pulled into a tie with Donald Trump in Iowa in the latest Monmouth University Poll released Monday, marking the first time that a GOP rival has closed the gap in Trump’s lead in the primary. Both Carson and Trump got 23 percent support from Iowa’s Republican voters, while former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina came in third with 10 percent of the vote. No other candidate in the Republican field had double-digit support.

Source: Time

5. Turkish court arrests three Vice News journalists covering Kurdish insurgents
A Turkish court on Monday ordered three Vice News journalists to beformally arrested on terrorism-related charges. The journalists — Iraqi national Mohammed Ismael Rasool, and Britons Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury — were detained covering Kurdish insurgents in the country’s southeast. The court said they had knowingly helped an armed terrorist organization. The New York-based media site called the charges “baseless and alarmingly false,” and said Turkey was trying to “intimidate and censor” the journalists.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

6. Blue Bell prepares to resume sales four months after listeria outbreak
Blue Bell Ice Cream announced Monday that it was preparing to return its products to store shelves four months after shutting down production over a listeria outbreak that was linked to three deaths. “We have been working diligently to prepare our facilities to resume test production, and our focus throughout this process has been to ensure the public that when our products return to market, they are safe,” said Greg Bridges, Blue Bell’s vice president of operations.

Source: ABC News

7. Anti-Semite convicted of Kansas triple murder
Frazier Glenn Cross was convicted of capital murder on Monday for killing three people at a Kansas Jewish community center and nearby assisted living facility. The jury now moves on to the sentencing phase of the trial to decide whether to call for the death penalty. The 74-year-old Cross — also known as Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. — had a history of anti-Semitic and white supremacist beliefs. He was thought to be targeting Jews, although the victims were not Jewish.

Source: CNN

8. Thailand arrests second suspect over Bangkok bombing
Thai security forces made a second arrest in connection with the Erawan Shrine bombing that killed 20 people in Bangkok on Aug. 17, the head of Thailand’s military government, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, said Tuesday. The second suspect is a foreign man, although police did not release his identity. He was detained at Thailand’s border with Cambodia. Authorities also have issued an arrest warrant for a 27-year-old woman from a Muslim area in southern Thailand, although her family said she moved to Turkey weeks before the bombing.

Source: The New York Times

9. Stocks fall after China releases weak manufacturing data
World stocks and commodity prices fell sharply on Tuesday as weak manufacturing data from Chinese deepened fears of the health of the world’s second largest economy. Global markets had rebounded somewhat over the last several trading days, but on Tuesday European markets opened down by as much as 2.5 percent after Asian stocks fell. U.S. stock futures fell by 1.5 percent overnight after comments from Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer suggested the central bank would go ahead with an interest rate hike in September.

Source: Reuters

10. Murder rates rise in numerous U.S. cities
Rates of murder and other violent crimes have risen sharply this year in more than 30 U.S. cities. For example, there have been 136 murders in St. Louis, up from 85 the same time last year. In New Orleans, the number has jumped to 120, compared to 98 last year. Washington has gone from 73 murders at this point last year to 105 this year, and Baltimore has gone from 138 to 215. Authorities disagree on the causes, and blame everything from gang drug-turf fights to less aggressive policing due to scrutiny over the use of force.

Source: The New York Times

Harold Maass

Ted Cruz Blames Obama For Ambush Murder Of Harris County Texas Deputy



While campaigning in New Hampshire, Texas Senator Ted Cruz accused Barack Obama of inciting the ambush murder of Harris County Deputy Darren Gofourth. Gofourth was shot 15 times while pumping gas in Houston Texas Friday evening.

Senator Cruz tried to exploit the murder to score political points with Republicans, by assigning blame to President Obama. The Texas Senator lashed out, saying:

Cops across this country are feeling the assault. They’re feeling the assault from the president, from the top on down, as we see — whether it’s in Ferguson or Baltimore, the response from senior officials, the president or the attorney general, is to vilify law enforcement. That’s wrong. It’s fundamentally wrong. It’s endangering all of our safety and security.

Senator Cruz is of course misrepresenting President Obama’s attitudes towards law enforcement officers. While the president has been critical of abusive police conduct, he has not vilified law enforcement officers, nor has he denigrated their chosen profession. The president supports police officers who lawfully carry out their responsibilities.

For example, in a May memorial for fallen officers, President Obama had this to say about police officers:

Your jobs are inherently dangerous. The reminders are too common. We cannot erase every darkness or danger from the duty that you’ve chosen. We can offer you the support you need to be safer. We can make the communities you care about and protect safer as well.

Most of all we can say thank you. We can say we appreciate you and we’re grateful for the work you do every day.

Furthermore, contrary to right-wing mythology, the president also has been harshly critical of violent anti-police protests, arguing that there is no excuse for demonstrations that turn violent.

For example, during the Baltimore protests, following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody, President Obama argued:

There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive. When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement, they’re stealing.

When NYPD police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were murdered in December 2014, Obama stated unequivocally:

I unconditionally condemn today’s murder of two police officers in New York City. Two brave men won’t be going home to their loved ones tonight, and for that, there is no justification.

Ted Cruz is desperately trying to paint President Barack Obama as some kind of anti-cop radical who vilifies police officers, but that false caricature bears no connection to reality. The simple fact that President Obama expects law enforcement officers to follow the law they are entrusted with enforcing, does not mean he is anti-police. It means he supports the police and appreciates those who perform their job in a professional and lawful manner. Holding police officers to that standard is neither anti-police nor is it an incitement to murder.

Only in Ted Cruz’s twisted mind, can Barack Obama be called anything other than supportive of responsible law enforcement officers in America. Nothing the president has said or done should give any reason for a rational person to believe that he is encouraging the senseless unprovoked murder of police officers.

Keith Brekhus

Parents Rage As GOP Rep Rants About Suicide Bombers To Little Kids (VIDEO)

congressman Matt Salmon (Source: KPHO/KTVK

Congressman Matt Salmon (Source: KPHO/KTVK)


Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) is in hot water with parents after he turned what was supposed to be a civics lesson for kids into a rant about suicide bombers. Salmon spoke to second and third graders at San Tan Charter School, and turned childhood excitement into fear. One parent explained:

“The congressman chose to give an example of the current situation in Iran, and made some inappropriate comments about ‘Do you know what a nuclear weapon is? Do you know that there are schools that train children your age to be suicide bombers?’” Campbell said.

He and other parents were shocked. He said he had to console his young daughter.

Source: KPHO

“After school my daughter was very concerned and said to me she actually didn’t even know what suicide was and was very afraid,” he explained.

Why would someone be so twisted? Children aged six to nine don’t need to hear propaganda about Iran, nuclear weapons and suicide bombers.

As Congress moves to approve the proposed deal with Iran, it appears this congressman felt he had to scare the living daylights out of children in order to get their parents behind the GOP’s war rhetoric. This isn’t Salmon’s first odd moment in the news. He once proposed carving Ronald Reagan’s face into Mount Rushmore, crediting the president with winning the Cold War.

When it comes to these issues, it seems the default mode for the right is always fear and fearmongering. When speaking to small children, the congressman could have simply spoken about things we want to teach our kids, like how a bill becomes a law, what his job really is, or just answer their questions about what goes on in Washington. Instead he did his worst to do a Dick Cheney impression and gave them nightmares. Great job.

Here’s a video report from KPHO about Rep. Matt Salmon’s big mistake:

Supreme Court rules against clerk in gay marriage case

Rowan County, Ky. Clerk Kim Davis shows emotion as she is cheered by a gathering of supporters during a rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort Ky. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, ruled against Davis, who has refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
Photo: Timothy D. Easley – AP


The Supreme Court on Monday ruled against the Kentucky county clerk who has refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses, and the clerk will arrive at work Tuesday morning to face her moment of truth.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis will have to choose whether to issue marriage licenses, defying her Christian conviction, or continue to refuse them, defying a federal judge who could pummel her with fines or order that she be hauled off to jail.

“She’s going to have to think and pray about her decision overnight. She certainly understands the consequences either way,” Mat Staver, founder of the law firm representing Davis, said on Monday, hours before a court-ordered delay in the case expired. “She’ll report to work tomorrow, and face whatever she has to face.”

A line of couples, turned away by her office again and again in the two months since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage across the nation, plan to meet her at the courthouse door.

“Wow, wow, wow, I can’t believe it, we might finally be able to get a license tomorrow,” April Miller said Monday night, shortly after the court’s decision. She has been denied twice to marry her partner of more than a decade.

Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses in the days after the landmark decision. Two gay couples and two straight couples sued her, arguing that she must fulfill her duties as an elected official despite her personal religious faith. A federal judge ordered her to issue the licenses, and an appeals court upheld that decision. Her lawyers with the Liberty Counsel filed a last-ditch appeal to the Supreme Court on Friday, asking that they grant her “asylum for her conscience.”

Justice Elena Kagan, who oversees the 6th district, referred Davis’ request to the full court, which denied the stay without comment. Kagan joined the majority in June when the court legalized gay marriage across the nation.

If Davis continues to turn them away, the couples’ attorneys can ask a judge to hold her in contempt of court, which can carry steep fines or jail time.

Dan Canon, an attorney representing the couples, said he hopes Davis will simply hand his clients licenses on Tuesday, and the controversy will end. Davis behind bars is not an outcome they are hoping for, he said.

“But if she continues to defy the court’s order, we cannot let that continue unaddressed,” he said Monday night. “It all depends on what happens tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, a couple that had been turned away went to Rowan County Attorney Cecil Watkins to ask that she be charged with official misconduct, a misdemeanor defined by state law as a public official who “refrains from performing a duty imposed upon him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office.” The crime is punishable by up to a year in jail.

Watkins cited a conflict of interest and forwarded the complaint to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, whose office will decide whether to appoint a special prosecutor, generally a county attorney from a surrounding jurisdiction, who would decide whether to file charges.

As the clock wound down for Davis on Monday, the tension intensified between dueling groups of protesters outside her office window on the courthouse lawn.

Hexie Mefford has stood on the lawn waving a flag nearly every day for more than two months. The flag is fashioned after Old Glory, but with a rainbow instead of the red and white bars.

Mike Reynolds, protesting in Davis’ defense, shouted at her that he found the flag offensive: He is an Army veteran, he said, and they had desecrated the American flag. The two groups roared at each other. Davis’ supporters called on the activists to repent; the activists countered that their God loves all.

It was a marked difference from the cordial protests that unfolded there every day since Davis declared she would issue no licenses.

Rachelle Bombe has sat there every day, wearing rainbow colors and carrying signs that demand marriage equality. One particularly hot day, Davis, the woman she was there to protest against, worried Bombe would get overheated and offered her a cold drink. In turn, Bombe said she’s checked in on Davis, whose lawyer says she’s received death threats and hate mail, to make sure she’s holding up despite the difficult circumstances.

“She’s a very nice lady, I like her a lot,” Bombe said of Davis. “We’re on the opposite sides of this, but it’s not personal.”

On Monday, Davis’ supporters stood on the grass and sang “I am a Child of God.”

The marriage equality activists chimed in after each refrain: “So are we.”


To Honor Native Americans, Obama Renamed The Nation’s Highest Mountain. These People Are Upset.

Idiocracy, personified…


On Sunday, President Obama announced that he would restore the name of the nation’s tallest mountain, currently called Mount McKinley, to Denali. The move, which comes in advance of the President’s trip to Alaska, was described as a show of respect to Native Americans and the original name they gave to the peak.

The name of the mountain was officially changed from Denali to Mount McKinley in 1917, at the suggestion of a gold prospector. William McKinley, who never visited Alaska, was America’s 25th president. Naming the mountain after McKinley, seemingly at random, was viewed by many as an expression of cultural imperalism.

But not everyone was happy about the change back. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who represents the state where McKinley was born, said he was disappointed with the decision and blasted Obama for not deferring to Congress.

“This political stunt is insulting to all Ohioans,” said Bob Gibbs, Congressman from Ohio. Gibbs also called the move unconstitutional and an effort to “ignore an act of Congress… to promote [Obama’s] job killing war on energy.” (In his upcoming trip to Alaska, Obama will also discuss climate change.)
The sentiment was echoed by House Speaker John Boehner, also of Ohio, who said he was “deeply disappointed in this decision.”

Continue reading>>>

Stunning NASA Image of Three Pacific Hurricanes Is First in Recorded History

This amazing historical phenomena brings to mind the artist rendition by Alexandre-Marie Colin of Macbeth’s Three Witches, as I look at the trio of hurricanes in the Pacific, courtesy of NASA.  (I’m preparing this at 1:00 am on Tuesday morning – for a 7:00 a.m. publishing on TFC –  perhaps that’s why.)


NASA captured not one, but three massive hurricanes twirling around the Pacific Ocean on the same day, the first time such a phenomenon has ever been documented, the National Hurricane Center reports. The stunning image, taken by NASA’s Terra satellite, shows the three hurricanes (and one very small Hawaiian Islands chain) spread out across the vast Pacific Ocean.

At this rate, the space agency is going to need a much wider camera lens.

NASA snapped the photo on Saturday, according to the space agency. In the left of the image is Hurricane Kilo, which was the last of the three storms to reach major hurricane status on Saturday, the Weather Channel reports.

At the center is Hurricane Ignacio, which appeared close to Hawaii but won’t hit the islands directly, federal weather experts said. Hurricane Jimena, the most powerful of the three hurricanes with winds topping 145 mph, appears in the right of the frame.

Three really powerful storms: All three hurricanes measured Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. A Category 4 hurricane has winds between 130 and 156 mph and could cause “catastrophic damage” should it make landfall. The highest rating on the scale is a five.

On Monday, Kilo was centered about 480 miles south-southwest of Midway Island, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center reports. Ignacio was located about 280 miles east of Honolulu, Hawaii, while Jimena was centered about1,330 miles east of the Hawaiian Islands.

Not only was the NASA image the first time scientists captured three powerful storms in the same frame; it was also the first time on record that three Category 4 hurricanes have occurred in tandem in the central and eastern Pacific basins, the Weather Channel reports.

A busy hurricane season: The 2015 Pacific hurricane season has been a busy one, to say the least.

Climate scientists have predicted between 15 and 22 named storms in the Pacific this year, including between seven and 12 hurricanes. “These ranges are centered well above the season averages of 15 to 16 named storms, eight hurricanes, and four major hurricanes,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports. “If the predicted upper bound of eight major hurricanes occurs, it would tie for the most recorded in the 1971-2014 observational record.”

Scientists blame the active hurricane season in part on unusual warming of the Pacific Ocean this year brought on by El Niño, the Weather Channel reports.

Philip Ross

10 things you need to know today: August 31, 2015

(Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)


1. Alaska’s Mount McKinley officially renamed Denali
The Obama administration is changing the name of Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest mountain, to Denali, the White House saidSunday. Denali is the original Athabascan name — it means “the high one.” The change is a show of respect for “the traditions of Alaska Natives,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. The 20,320-foot mountain was named after William McKinley, the 25th president, in 1896. Republican lawmakers from McKinley’s home state, Ohio, slammed the change, with one calling it a “political stunt.”

Source: The Associated Press

2. 31st senator backs Iran nuclear deal
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) became the 31st senator to say he wouldback the Iran nuclear deal, leaving President Obama just three votes shy of the total he needs to sustain his promised veto of a bill trying to stop the agreement. Two more senators — Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — are leaning toward yes, and 11 (10 of them Democrats) are undecided or their vote is unknown. Congress is expected to take up the bill in mid-September.

Source: The Oregonian, The Washington Post

3. White House developing sanctions against China over cyberthefts
The Obama administration is developing economic sanctions to impose on Chinese companies and individuals who have benefited from the thefts of U.S. trade secrets, The Washington Post reports. The White House has not yet decided whether to implement the unprecedented response to cyber-espionage, but administration officials say it could come within two weeks, and could even coincide with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first state visit to the U.S. next month.

Source: The Washington Post

4. Egypt announces schedule for electing first parliament since 2012
Egypt’s election commission announced Sunday that the country would hold a long-awaited parliamentary election starting on Oct. 18 and 19. The country has been without a parliament since June 2012, when a court dissolved a democratically elected main chamber controlled by the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood. The vote is supposed to be the last step in restoring democracy, but government critics say that a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood will taint the results.

Source: Reuters

5. University of Texas moves Jefferson Davis statue
Officials removed a statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis from its spot outside the University of Texas at Austin clock tower on Sunday. The student government passed a resolution in March calling for removing the statue, and the school followed through after a legal appeal by the Sons of Confederate Veterans to keep it in place was rejected. The statue will be moved to the campus’ Briscoe Center for American History, home to a large collection of archival material depicting slavery.

Source: The New York Times

6. Bangkok police get reward for catching Erawan bombing suspect
Thailand’s police chief, Somyot Pumpanmuang, announced Mondaythat he was giving his own officers an $83,000 reward for the capture of a suspect in the bombing of Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine, which killed 20 people two weeks ago. “This was the work of the Thai authorities, there were no tip-offs,” he said. One suspect is in custody and warrants have been issued for a Thai woman — Wanna Suansan, 26 — and an unnamed foreign man.

Source: BBC News

7. Dodgers held hitless for second time in 10 days
Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter to help his team shut out the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0 on Sunday night. It was the sixth no-hitter in Major League Baseball this season — and the second one pitched in 10 days against the Dodgers, held hitless on Aug. 21 by the Astros’ Mike Fiers. The Cubs’ victory was sealed in the first inning, when Kris Bryant hit a two-run home run.

Source: Los Angeles Times

8. Sharapova withdraws from U.S. Open
Maria Sharapova withdrew Sunday from the United States Open, citing a leg injury. Sharapova, who won the tennis tournament in 2006, has not played since July, when she lost to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon semifinals. Sharapova said the injury was a muscle strain. She first injured the leg training for hardcourt tournaments, then aggravated it before her first hardcourt tournament of the year. “I have done everything possible to be ready,” she said via Facebook, “but it was just not enough time.”

Source: The New York Times

9. Swift dominates VMAs, Cyrus delivers expected controversy
Taylor Swift led the nights winners at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards, taking home four Moonmans, including the top award for video of the year. Swift also reunited on stage with Kanye West, who snatched the microphone from her during her 2009 acceptance speech. West won the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award this year and declared that he was running for president in 2020. Host Miley Cyrus reliably produced the night’s controversy by flashing skin in skimpy outfits, cursing, and feuding with Nicki Minaj.

Source: Reuters, Vanity Fair

10. Horror-film director Wes Craven dies at 76
Writer and director Wes Craven, known for horror films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, has died from brain cancer, his family said Sunday. He was 76. Craven’s final film, Scream 4, was made in 2011, but he remained “engaged and working until the end,” his family said. Craven left a job as an English professor for Hollywood at age 30. He shocked audiences with his first film, the 1972 survival-revenge thriller The Last House on the Left, and became known for mixing shock-horror and dark humor.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Harold Maass

7 Things About Asian-Americans You’ll Never Learn From the Mainstream Media



There is no shortage of stereotypes plaguing media portrayals of Asian-Americans. Regardless of their platform, the stories we do or don’t tell about Asian people in the United States have not only enshrined harmful misconceptions, but have made a diverse network of cultures in this country invisible.

To untangle how these myths affect Asian-American communities — and what needs to be done to reclaim them — Mic spoke with Jennifer Fang, creator of the race and culture blog Reappropriate, and Lauren Jow, a journalist and communications professional based in Los Angeles.

Below are some of the stories Fang and Jow say need to be told about Asian-Americans in the media today — and which stereotypes need to die.

1. We, too, are American.

Students with the Asian American United group celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Philadelphia.
Source: Mel Evans/AP

“Asians are rarely identified as Asian-American,” Fang told Mic via email. “[Most] media portrays them as foreign, and often threateningly so, which contributes to stereotyping them as perpetually alien and therefore abnormal, unpatriotic, perhaps even disloyal.”

This notion has precedent: The late 19th century rash of so-called yellow peril — the idea that East Asians posed a threat to global stability — prompted racist propaganda campaigns across the United States and a wave of exclusionary immigration policies.

The forced internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II continued this fear. And most recently, concerns about Chinese influence in global affairs have assumed a suspiciously similar tenor.

More bad news for the fearful: Asians are the “fastest-growing minority group in the United States,” Jow said. The number of Asian-Americans stands to grow 128% between now and 2060, according to U.S. Census projections, making this segment of hyphenated Americans one of the more vital components of America’s future.

2. We are not your “model minority.”

Margaret Cho
Source: RW/AP

Fang says Asian-Americans are also “portrayed as the ‘model minority’ — scholarly, obedient, unassuming, technically oriented.”

“In advertisements, Asians typically are cast in the role of the educated techie or nerd,” Jow said. “There’s the stereotype that Asians are good at math and science, they’re really into gaming, they’re obedient and submissive, they’re intelligent and unemotional, they value education and hard work but they’re not leaders.”

Right-wing pundits have also used this stereotype for years to belittle other Americans of color: “Look how well Asians are doing in the U.S.,” their logic goes. “Why are black Americans struggling so much?”

This straw man argument both ignores centuries of systemic anti-black violence and discrimination, while presenting what Fang calls a “narrow and stifling portrayal of the Asian-American experience,” that limits how people feel permitted to imagine and present themselves.

Not to mention it can be flat out wrong: As Mic‘s Jamilah King has written previously, the popularity of Asian-American comedians, chefs, artists, athletes and others in America speaks to a range of ways to “be Asian-American” as any other group has, far outside of the obedient nerd stereotype.

3. We are diverse.

Aziz Ansari, who is Indian American.
Source: Jordan Strauss/AP

Too often the term “Asian-American” is presumed to mean Chinese, Japanese or other groups of East Asian descent.

“It’s important to remember that Asia is a continent, not a country,” says Jow. “I’d like to see stories about different kinds of Asian communities, what makes their culture unique and how it changes when blended with mainstream American culture.”

Indian-, Pakistani-, Cambodian-, Filipino- and Samoan-Americans — among many others with roots in the Pacific Islands, South and Southeast Asia — have all placed their unique mark on the cultural landscape in the United States, yet often go ignored when we consider the Asian-American experience.

This does no one any favors. Part of pushing back against media stereotypes means broadening our understanding of what this complex and diverse demographic — which encompasses descendants from more than 20 countries — actually looks like.

4. We are political.

New York City mayoral candidate John Liu speaks to supporters in August 2013.
Source: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Part of the “model minority” stereotype includes the notion of apolitical Asian-American obedience to the status quo, says Fang. This is exacerbated by the “documented invisibility” of Asian guests on political talk shows: “[Our] absence reinforces the myth that American politics does not involve or pertain to us,” she says.

In truth, Asian-Americans have a long history of political involvement in this country. One of the defining battles of mid-century Bay Area politics was spurred by Filipino-American residents of San Francisco’s International Hotel and its surrounding neighborhood — which was set to be demolished in the late 1960s in the name of “urban renewal.” Protests, refusals to move out and courtroom battles ensued over the next decade until the final hotel residents were evicted in 1977.

Today, Asian-Americans have further bucked stereotypes that essentially frame them as docile allies to white Americans by shifting away from conservative politics. In 2012, President Barack Obama won 73% of the Asian-American vote, which accounted for a larger segment of his support base than both Hispanics (71%) and women (55%), Politico reports.

5. We are not all martial artists.

Bruce Lee
Source: ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

This should go without saying. But if you’ve so much as glanced at a TV over the past 50 years, you’ll notice, as Fang says, that “both [Asian-American] men and women are disproportionately depicted as martial artists.”

While the influence of martial arts cinema on the United States — from Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan to The Matrix— cannot be overstated, Asian-Americans are far more complex than this narrow depiction.

“I’d love for media to depict Asian-Americans in broader and more varied ways,” Fang said, “which I think would better acknowledge the many ways people are Asian-American. I’d love to see Asian-Americans being and doing non-stereotypical things. An Asian-American action hero who can’t do martial arts. An Asian-American who maybe struggles in school.”

Jow adds, “I’d like to see stories about poor Asian families, LGBT Asians, overweight Asians, Asian kids who didn’t grow up with a Tiger Mom or didn’t have a mom, Asians running for office, ditzy Asians in high school, Asians trying to date in the modern world, Asians who are lost and trying to find themselves, Asian CEOs and businesspeople, Asians who are physical and violent and not in a gangster/kung fu kind of way, Asians being eloquent and preachy and emotional — in short, Asians doing all the things we do that have nothing to do with being Asian.”

6. We are not all wealthy.

Flushing’s Chinatown in New York City.
Source: Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images

As Mic has previously reported, Chinese- and Indian-Americans — two of the largest Asian-American subgroups — average among the highest income and education rates in the nation.

This does not mean all Asian-American people are well off. Hmong- and Bangladeshi-Americans, for instance, face poverty rates above 20%, while 37% of Cambodian-American adults lack a high school diploma, Mic reports.

“Pacific Islanders have drastically higher rates of poverty than East Asian Americans,” Jow said.

Acknowledging this diversity among Asian-Americans in terms of both educational attainment and income is not only key for eliminating stereotypes — it creates a space wherein the unique needs of, and disparities facing, these populations are actually addressed on a broad scale.

7. We are beautiful on our terms, not yours.

Frieda Pinto
Source: Christian Alminana/Getty Images

Debate around Asian-American desirability proliferates in the media. “Asian and Asian-American women are often stereotyped as sexually or romantically available,” Fang explains, while Asian-American men are “rarely depicted as a desirable romantic lead” — a phenomenon Mic has reported on previously via the fashion photo series “Persuasian.”

This is exacerbated, and perhaps even informed, by statistics around spaces like online dating: OkCupid data from 2009-2014 found that Asian women, on average, are one of the most desired groups on the platform, while Asian men are among the least.

This reflects a problematic trend by which notions of desirability are meted out along racial lines in American culture — and reinforced by the media. As such, part of eliminating stereotypes means moving away from this trend. “I’d love to see an Asian-American female lead who isn’t a romantic interest, and an Asian-American male lead who is,” says Fang.

The degree to which media portrayals of Asian-Americans either cause or reflect stereotypes is hard to say. But the inaccuracy of their limited, stereotypical portrayals still stands.

To uproot these problems, Fang works to support a diverse portrayal of Asian people in media, while supporting artists and filmmakers who “can self-express a more authentic and unfiltered Asian-American voice,” Fang said.

The key is “presenting Asian-Americans in a more complex, and therefore more human, light,” she added. “For me, that can only come when we are able to shape our media portrayals directly, as through the independent arts.”

“Tropes and archetypes serve their purpose in certain contexts,” Jow said. “But without the benefit of more diverse storylines — and more storylines in general — the myths are all we have.”

Zak Cheney-Rice