February 28, 2017

A Soldiers Life Lost in Yemen but Commander in Chief Passes the Buck

The Buck Does Not Stops Here
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that last month's deadly commando raid in Yemen, which led to the death of Navy SEAL William Ryan Owens, was planned by military officials before he came into office.

"Well, this was a mission that was started before I got here," the president said on "Fox and Friends." "This was something that was, you know, just they wanted to do. They came to see me they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected."
"My generals are the most respected that we've had in many decades, I believe, and they lost Ryan," Trump added, saying that buck stops "before I got here."

NBC News confirmed that the plans for the raid began under the Obama administration, but were not pursued because of a substantial escalation in Yemen. But five days into his administration, Trump chose to greenlight the operation.

A number of Pentagon officials told NBC News that the raid yielded no significant intelligence, though it led to the death of Owens and a number of children.

Related: Yemen Raid Had Secret Target: Al Qaeda Leader Qassim Al-Rimi

Despite the losses, the Trump administration has maintained that the mission was a success. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the military operation yielded "unbelievable amount of intelligence that will prevent the potential deaths or attacks on American soil."

After the White House was hit with criticism for the mission, Spicer doubled down. During a Feb. 8 press briefing, he said that "anyone who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and [does] a disservice to the life of Chief Owens."

Williams Owens, the Navy SEAL's father, told the Miami Herald on Sunday that he doubted the need for the raid and called for an investigation.
When Trump traveled to the airport to meet the homecoming casket of Chief Owens, William Owens refused to meet with him.

Spicer said on Monday that three Pentagon reviews of the raid would take place, as is military protocol.

"I met most of the family, and I can understand people saying that. I'd feel you know, I'd feel — what's worse?" Trump said.

“But again this is something they (U.S. military officials) were looking at for a long time now," Trump added.


Global Universities Supportive of LGBT

For her graduate studies, Thai national and transgender student Hua Boonyapisomparn chose Trinity Washington University in the U.S. Unsure how welcoming the campus was to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, she decided to visit the school to get a better feel for it.
Boonyapisomparn asked about the school's LGBT policies and whether transgender students are accepted. An admissions officer told her that "Trinity is a progressive campus," she says. 
Depending on the university and its location, LGBT international students may experience varying levels of acceptance and support on campus. Knowing what to expect can make the global university experience more enjoyable.
For prospective LGBT international students, here are three criteria to look for when researching global universities.
1. LGBT-friendly university webpages: Some global university websites have content welcoming LGBT students, with specific emphasis on international students. 
The University of Southern California's LGBT Resource Center website, for example, has a page dedicated to international LGBT students and provides links to its LGBT peer mentoring program, which is open to all students, and its monthly rainbow international lunches, opportunities to meet other LGBT international students.
At some universities, LGBT-friendly information can be found directly through the international student services webpage, such as at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, whose site includes a link to international LGBT support services in its resources section. 

 But just because a school may not have LGBT-devoted webpages doesn't mean students should write off the institution. Many schools, like Yale-National University of Singapore, have nondiscrimination polices on their websites promoting a safe environment for all students. 
"All Yale-NUS students, staff and faculty are valued as equal members of the community, and are not only free but also encouraged to express their singular and/or intersecting social and personal identities on campus," said Sara Pervaiz Amjad, intercultural engagement manager at Yale-NUS, via email.
Some Canadian universities approved a bylaw last fall ensuring their institutions' policies are nondiscriminatory.
Boonyapisomparn recommends prospective LGBT international students contact or visit global universities in person and inquire about their policies. She says Trinity does not discriminate against students based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
2. LGBT support services: Some universities have dedicated LGBT centers and staff to support students. Cardiff University in Wales, for example, offers a variety of support services to LGBT students and staff, earning the school a top rating in the "Gay By Degree 2015" guide by Stonewall, a United Kingdom-based LGBT rights charity. 
"We have an excellent counseling and well-being team that has someone specializing in gender identity and links to specific LGBT+ support," says Karen Cooke, organizational development manager and chair of the Enfys LGBT+ staff network at Cardiff.
Cooke says Cardiff has a number of staff in both the international and student services departments, including individuals who identify as LGBT, who are available to support and talk with LGBT international students. 
She says the school also works closely with its residences team "to provide support and training so that LGBT+ students can be supported in their time in university accommodations."
While some universities may not have dedicated LGBT support staff, available student support services can still be useful. National University of Singapore doctoral student Mukul Prasad, who has not yet come out to his family in India, says he used NUS' counseling services.
"I was depressed after a string of bad dating experiences," he says. "The counselor was really good, and I did tell him about my sexual orientation and it was kept confidential." 
Prasad says the school's "counseling services are excellent" and provide a support system for LGBT students at NUS. He calls the university "a rather safe space for us." 
3. Political activism and awareness: Prospective international students can also look to a university's student groups and related social media presence to gauge its LGBT activism, which can measure LGBT presence and advocacy on campus. 
Stefanie van Gelderen, marketing and communications adviser for international programs at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, said via email that the school supports and partly finances "student initiatives aimed at bringing together LGBT students." These include groups like the A.S.V.Gay student association and UvA Pride, a platform for LGBT students. Both groups are on Facebook. 
Canadian Ian Kenny, a gay grad student at the University of Amsterdam, says he chose the school and the Netherlands because both are open-minded and forward-thinking and that studying there "means getting involved with other like-minded people, whether on an activism side or in the classroom." 
Amjad of Yale-NUS said that student LGBT groups like The G Spot host events on campus "to raise awareness around issues of diversity as well as provide support" for LGBT students at Yale-NUS and NUS. For example, The G Spot, which has a Facebook presence, held an event last fall to raise awareness of living with HIV in Singapore.
Trinity student Boonyapisomparn says while the university currently has no LGBT clubs, having an "openly accepting environment is very critical for the success" of LGBT students. She says this is especially true for LGBT international students who also have to adjust to a new culture.
“You will need to feel welcome, no matter how you identify," says Boonyapisomparn.
Anayat Durrani  | Contributor

China Going Easy with it’s Multi-Billion$$ Market The LGBT

China's Spring Festival, which celebrates the lunar New Year, is the ultimate test for fledgling romances. A partner's invitation to meet family signals commitment; but for China's LGBT population, the holiday creates disproportionate stress. Only 5 percent of them have come out of the closet, and they are, as a group, under remarkable pressure to get married to someone of the opposite sex.

During this year's Spring Festival festivities, which occurred in late January and early February, a leading local Chinese mobile phone brand, Vivo, made waves with a supportive message urging LGBT Chinese to bring their partners home. "Grandfather, grandmother, mom, dad: I have something to tell you," a nervous young man starts to say at a dinner table. "Xiaocheng and I, we're actually. . ." His boyfriend darts up to interrupt: "We actually want is to take a group photo together!" Family members wink at them to show they understand what they were trying to communicate; then they gather behind a selfie stick to take a selfie.
In this regard, technology firms are leading the way. Over the last two years, China's leading car hailing app Didi Chuxing, top search engine Baidu, and popular karaoke app Changba have all run pro-LGBT social media campaigns. Chinese smartphone maker Meizu has launched a series of advertisements celebrating same-sex partnerships. China's leading restaurant review app, Dianping, has created a dedicated website to promote LGBT-friendly establishments. And while same-sex marriage is illegal in China, that didn't stop Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba from running a contest in early 2015 awarding ten lucky couples with all-expense paid weddings in Los Angeles.
Many of these efforts have relied on social media. In early 2016, China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) banned television shows showing homosexual relationships. But short ads on social media have typically been spared the censors' axe, a signal that the government does not consider the issue highly politically sensitive. The government is surely also aware that social media users skew younger, and are thus already more likely to be tolerant of different lifestyles.

This generational change augurs a huge shift in Chinese thinking. Homosexuality was classified as a crime in China until 1997, and a mental illness until 2001. But observers say social mores have quickly changed. A bevy of (unscientific) online surveys seems to support that. In a 2012 survey of over 85,000 web users, for examples more than 80 percent of (admitteldy self-selecting) respondents born in the 1980s and 1990s said they did not disapprove of homosexuality. While China still has no legislation protecting against discrimination on basis of sexual orientation, internal policies in some companies are changing to punish workplace bullying.

Technology companies' customers are predominantly made up of increasingly progressive young people. And those companies are evidently aware that LGBT Chinese, as a group, spend somewhere north of $300 billion annually, although precise estimates differ. Fifty-six per cent of LGBT men and 62 per cent of LGBT women in China say the most important factor influencing their purchasing decisions is company support for LGBT friendly policies and regulations, according to a 2016 report. With China's tech companies in fierce competition with each other to gain market share, targeted advertising to LGBT individuals can give them an edge. "As a mobile phone manufacturer, we have a large user base and our users are very diverse," Novak Cheng, project leader for Meizu's Valentine's Day campaign, told Foreign Policy. "It is obvious that they experience a wide range of love."

Firms aren't just keen on to court young LGBT customers, but employees. Many technology companies are run by millennials, noted Duncan Clark, Chairman of BDA China, an investment advisory firm in Beijing, told FP. "China's internet companies represent a new generation," Clark said. "This native digital generation have had greater exposure to a wider of lifestyles" and have "engaged in wider discussion among fellow netizens about social issues and life choices."

International firms seeking to break into the Chinese market have behaved similarly. In November 2016, four global companies with large offices in China - PR firms Edelman, Burson-Marsteller, Golin Magic, and multinational beverage and brewing company AB InBev - participated in the first annual "LGBT Advertising Showcase" in Shanghai alongside non-profit groups. "We want to let people know they don't have to worry about discrimination if they work for us," said Natalie Xu, Shanghai-based human resources director of Edelman China.

Many of the showcase ads from those firms, which were directed at the general public as well as prospective employees, did not use actors. "The most powerful stories are true, told by gay and lesbian individuals and couples themselves, sharing their hopes for a future where they can simply be themselves," said Steven Bielinski, showcase organizer and founder of the WorkForLGBT group, a nonprofit based in Shanghai.

While stigma against sexual minorities continues in China, particularly in rural areas and smaller cities, the tens of millions of LGBT Chinese have clearly already demonstrated their growing importance to some of the biggest companies in the country. One need only watch social media for evidence of that.

Joanna Chiu

Breitbart Got 5 Nation Shattering Exclusives Which The Media Didn’t

On Wednesday Feb 8, West Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin welcomed the Breitbart News editorial team to his Capitol Hill office for an hourlong off-the-record "get to know you" session. It was part of a behind-the-scenes process — kicked off post-election and led by Manchin's communications director Jonathan Kott — to establish warmer relations with the right-wing news outlet. 
Why this matters: No other Democratic Senator has done a session like this with Breitbart; and most Democrats wouldn't touch the website with a 30-foot pole. But getting on with the controversial populist nationalist site — which has its former chairman Steve Bannon as the President's top adviser — could prove helpful to Manchin, who faces a tough re-election in 2018. 
Breitbart's recent coverage of Manchin:
  • Feb 13, 2017: Breitbart got the exclusive that Manchin "Joins Effort to Revoke Social Security  
  •  Rule Suspending Beneficiaries' Gun Rights Without Due Process". Behind the scenes: Kott decided that instead of issuing a press release he'd give this announcement to Breitbart exclusively. He says it paid off. The story rocketed around gun-owning circles in West Virginia and was picked up by hunter, sportsman and gun publications.
  • Feb 2, 2017: Breitbart got the exclusive that Manchin was "Pleased Trump Told Iran 'We Are Not Going to Play Their Games'".
  • Jan 24, 2017: Breitbart got the exclusive that Manchin would be "the first Democrat to publicly back [Trump's] selection for Secretary of State in ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson"
  • Jan 16, 2017: Breitbart headline: "Dem Sen Manchin: Boycotting Inauguration and Saying Trump's Not Legitimate Gives Russia What It Wants"
  • Jan 12, 2017: Breitbart highlighted Manchin's announcement that he'd vote for Attorney General Jeff Sessions (a move greatly appreciated by Trumpland and among top Breitbart brass)
  • Jan 6, 2017: West Virginia's Democrat Senator Joe Manchin: Nominee Scott Pruitt 'Has the Right Experience' to Lead EPA
These headlines are a far cry from March 2015, when Breitbart published a major hit piece against Manchin. The opening paragraph:
"West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has navigated the changing politics of his home state by crafting an image of an independent-minded, moderate Democrat. Despite his occasional bipartisan bluster, however, he is as reliable a vote for progressives and President Obama as any other Senate Democrat. His public advocacy for the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General puts a lie to his well-crafted maverick myth."
Other things you should know about Manchin's conservative media outreach (which, unlike the Breitbart post-election outreach, has been going on for years):
  • Unlike most Democrats, he's spent significant time cultivating a number of influential conservative media outlets and personalities.
  • Since the election he's gotten to know Sean Hannity. They have spoken several times over the phone.
  • He recently met with the Daily Caller and did a video interview with Ginni Thomas (the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.) The piece's headline: "Manchin Hammers Obama's Failed Policies, Praises Trump For Getting Things Done".
  • He's got a longstanding relationship with Fox Business, and especially host Neil Cavuto.
  • He's close to the Fox & Friends crew, particularly Brian Kilmeade.
  • He’s gotten to know and like the Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito, who traveled to West Virginia in November to write a profile on Manchin.
By Stef W. Kight

February 27, 2017

What Would Happen When GOP Abolishes the EPA? The Environment?

A GOP freshman congressman recently introduced a bill to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with more cosponsors than sentences in its text.

The entirety of Rep. Matt Gaetz's (R-FL) proposal is one sentence. Following the boilerplate “Be it enacted," legislative language, it reads, simply, "The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018."

This is remarkably unserious lawmaking. That isn't just because eliminating the agency responsible for enforcing all the nation's environmental laws is an extremist proposal that would kill people if enacted. It’s because the bill would conflict with thousands of pages of other federal laws.

What would happen if you abolished the EPA but didn’t repeal environmental laws?

The EPA doesn't exist in a vacuum. There are detailed laws that have been revised many times over the decades, such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Toxic Substances Control Act, that charge EPA with studying and determining what is a pollutant harmful to human health and then writing and enforcing regulations to protect the public from it.

What would happen if you abolished the EPA but didn't repeal those laws? Who knows? Apparently not Gaetz or his cosponsors Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), none of whom responded to a request for comment. (Another cosponsor, Rep. Barry Loudermilk [R-GA], had no answer and a full voice mail inbox at all of his offices.)

Neither do leading environmental policy experts. 
"I frankly haven't seen something like this in 30 years," says Scott Slesinger, legislative director at the Natural Resources Defense Council and a former EPA official. "It just doesn't make sense. You have the Clean Water Act saying regulations need to be updated by EPA every five years. Obviously they haven’t thought about it."

One possible explanation for Gaetz’s internal incoherence is that while the EPA is a favorite punching bag for conservative activists and fossil fuel industry donors, the work it does is overwhelmingly popular among the general public.

Perhaps he wants credit from right-wing activists or donors for saying he will abolish the EPA but he doesn't want moderate Republican and independent voters to realize that would mean getting rid of environmental protections they support. (A serious bill to abolish agency would detail these implications by either repealing laws it implements or weakening them to eliminate the EPA’s enforcement responsibilities.)

A January Reuters/Ipsos poll found 61 percent of Americans would like to see the EPA preserved at the same size or expanded, versus 19 percent who said it should be weakened or eliminated. Inn a December Pew poll 59 percent of the people polled said stricter environmental regulations “are worth the cost."

If Gaetz and his co-sponsors hoped to please their base without drawing attention to what abolishing the EPA actually would mean, the plan backfired. Gaetz's office has been deluged with angry calls. "He's taken a lot of flak for this," says Alex Taurel, deputy legislative director at the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental research and advocacy group. “We've seen a lot of interest in this from the grassroots."

Fearing protests from the local Democratic Women's Club and environmental activists, Gaetz encouraged the Bikers for Trump to show up at his February 23 town hall meeting with constituents. The Bikers for Trump chapter leader, a friend of Gaetz's, had asked in a Facebook post that "all patriots in attendance to protect Congressman Gaetz from any potential disruption of his speech," adding, "don't forget your ammo." The event ended up being violence-free, featuring little more disruption than the heckling that has recently become the norm at Republican lawmakers' town halls.
Suppose Gaetz got his way, though, and the bill became law. Then what? Since Congress has never yet been so reckless as to abolish an agency with a one sentence law that says nothing about who will take over its enforcement responsibilities, there is really no precedent upon which to base any speculation.

In theory, if Congress did pass Gaetz’s bill, it could follow up by repealing all the environmental laws on the books or reassign its responsibility to other cabinet departments—although the latter possibility raises the question of what Gaetz's bill would accomplish to free chemical factories and coal-fired power plants from the oppressive regulatory yoke.

But if the federal government simply stopped enforcing, say, the Clean Air Act because it no longer had an agency to do it, it would be in violation of the law and subject to lawsuits by environmental and public health organizations.

And that sort of environmental degradation actually is likely to happen because of Gaetz and his ilk, regardless of his bill. While there aren't enough votes in Congress to repeal laws like the Clean Air Act, there are plenty for passing budgets that would scale back the scope of EPA's work.
If the federal government simply stopped enforcing the Clean Air Act it would be in violation of the law.

“Congress doesn't have the votes, we think, to make major damage to environment laws, but there is a serious likelihood that Republicans will gut the EPA budget, which will have same impact," says Slesinger.

The budget, unlike other bills, cannot be filibustered, so Republicans can pass it without any Democratic votes. And the GOP already has gradually cut EPA's spending by 20 percent since taking over Congress in 2011. As a result, the agency launched one-third fewer criminal investigations last year than it did in 2012. Meanwhile, Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have proposed further cuts to domestic spending and Trump is already at work on repealing many Obama-era EPA regulations.

Republicans will do plenty to pollute the environment, but Gaetz’s bill won’t sully anything but the political debate.

True Trump Talent of Convincing the Acrophobic to Take The Plunge

Every Extreme dirtbag salesman has it TTT

President Trump has a unique talent: convincing people he won't rip them off.
There's just one problem. Whether you're talking about his bondholders or his shareholders or his contractors or the students at his university, it's fair to say that Trump has a long record of disappointing everyone who puts their trust in him. It's the same schtick every time. He promises to make "every dream you ever dreamed ... come true" — that's what he said during the campaign — but that is the case only if all your dreams involve getting less money than you thought you would or getting a degree that isn't worth a thing.
And now Wall Street is finding that out.
It started on election night. Trump's shocking win had sent markets into a tailspin — would he start a trade war or an actual war or who knows what else? — before they started to wonder whether he'd really be so bad for them. At which point he said the magic words: "We're going to rebuild our infrastructure." Of course, that was something he'd talked about quite a bit during the campaign, but a lot of things he'd talked about were, well, contradictory. It was hard to tell what Trump simply thought was a good tweet, and what he also thought was a good policy. So the fact that rebuilding our "highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals" was the first thing he mentioned in his victory speech seemed to suggest that it would be a major priority, which a few days later he said would run upward of $1 trillion in what Wall Street now hoped would be an administration filled with tax cuts, deregulation and stimulus (oh, my!).
Who could have guessed that it wouldn't? At least not anywhere near as much as markets were assuming a few short weeks ago. Indeed, the latest reports are that Trump's 13-figure infrastructure plan has been relegated to an election-year ruse. That Republicans will instead focus on repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting taxes, and then sometime next year try to use a plan to rebuild roads, bridges and all the rest to divide Democrats who supposedly would be torn between their hate for all things Trump and their love for public works. Which is to say that a building boom probably isn’t going to happen. 
Congressional Republicans don't really want to do it, and congressional Democrats don't want to do it the way Trump does with tax breaks rather than direct spending. And no, Trump isn’t going to bully them into it when they've already offered up their own plan. The point is that you shouldn’t take Trump seriously or literally.

He just says whatever his audience wants to hear. That works when you're running for president, but not when you're acting as president. Take Trump's support for a "border tax." That may sound like he's endorsing an controversial idea by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) to overhaul the corporate tax system so that domestic consumption — including what we buy overseas, but not what we sell — rather than global profits are taxed, but, well, it's not clear. Trump, you see, has used the words "border tax" to refer to outright tariffs, to a tax on companies that outsource jobs and, yes, to Ryan's "border-adjustment tax." Which one did he mean? Good question.
Wall Street is banking on something that’s no more real than a Trump University degree.

GOP Conservatives Loose Their Sassy Gay Anti Gay Milo

 Let the spewing mouth go home

Until last week, Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos was conservatives’ sassy gay friend, glamorizing their misogyny, transphobia, and general viciousness. Unfortunately someone found tapes of him making what sounded like a sassy gay defense of pedophilia, and his $250K book deal, speaking spot at wing nut shindig CPAC, and Breitbart job all vanished within a couple of days.

Conservatives have always treasured their out-group guest stars as something they can point to and say No-Bigot-You’re-The-Bigot. Think of Lloyd Marcus, who got major coverage on no greater distinction than being the non-Caucasian Tea Party guy, or Grandpa-from-The Boondocks impersonator Thomas Sowell. The rightbloggers reaction to this turnabout was interesting, but let us take a moment first to review what had attracted them to Yiannopoulos in the first place. 

 But gay avatars have been a little trickier for the brethren. This is largely because gay marriage blew up more recently than the equivalent African-American civil rights milestones, and many conservatives have not yet made the transition from slurs to dog whistles when talking about it. 

Consequently even deeply invested gaycons like Andrew Sullivan have eventually found themselves obliged to back away from the movement. So Yiannopoulos was a godsend for the brethren. He attacked the same things straight conservatives did — Islam, women, trans people — even denouncing gay people who were not him. His Mike Leigh movie villain British accent made it classy, but gayness was his real USP. And he wasn’t shy about working it: where the Log Cabin Republicans were more conservative than conservatism, Yiannopoulos camped his conservatism up, dressing like a 1980s club kid or engaging in calculated outrages such as bathing in a tubful of pig blood for a “pro-Trump art show.” And he called The Leader "Daddy," which gave the brethren a weird, guilty thrill.

When Yiannopoulos went too far and got in trouble — for example, by leading an army of trolls in a vicious campaign against black actress Leslie Jones and losing his Twitter verification checkmark — his acolytes reveled in vicarious victim status, signified with a #JeSuisMilo hashtag. Now who’s picking on gay people, libtards!

And his deliberate cruelty was ballyhooed as a First Amendment cause. “He aims to create a safe space — if it can be called that — for students to express their views, even if those views are vile and offensive,” wrote Reason magazine’s Robby Soave, who posited “Donald Trump and Milo Yiannopoulos as anti-leftist provocateurs” and compared them favorably with snowflake college SJWs (“The inescapable conclusion for many on the right is that they are unfairly policed — not because they are behaving badly, but because they don’t articulate the correct views”).

While some of the more high-toned conservatives were a little iffy about Yiannopoulos, they certainly backed him against anything liberal. National Review's Ian Tuttle, for example, called Yiannopoulos “one of that new, unfortunate species: the right-wing Internet celebrity” who “has never given the impression that he cares for much that could properly be described as conservative.” But, Tuttle was quick to add, “the culture of knee-jerk offense-taking that thinks 

To Kill a Mockingbird promotes racism and would ban The Vagina Monologues as hurtful to ‘women who don’t have vaginas’ is precisely the culture in which people such as Milo Yiannopoulos flourish.” So if that awful Milo was popular with conservatives, it wasn’t conservatives’ fault — it was the fault of liberals for making them love him.

Soon on that enemy-of-my-enemy basis Yiannopoulos was swimming in praise from the conservative press — “Conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos continued his in-your-face crusade in support of free speech,” “School blinks in battle with campus conservatives, Breitbart’s Milo,” “Milo’s brand of right-wing homosexuality has got straight Republicans clamoring for more,” etc.

And the MSM was showing respect, too. On February 17 Yiannopoulos scored his most high-profile gig yet as a featured guest on Real Time with Bill Maher. He seemed poised for bigger things; maybe Breitbart Steve Bannon would get him the White House LGBT liaison job. Why not? The sky was the limit.

Then some conservatives who were not as crazy about Yiannopoulos released tapes that suggested he had a, let us say, cavalier attitude toward sex between adults and minors. They probably could have been explained away to a forgiving audience — which Yiannopoulos attempted to do (“If I choose to deal in an edgy way on an internet livestream with a crime I was the victim of that’s my prerogative”).
Some conservatives continued to give him props as confounder of liberals, but maintained a discreet distance while doing so.

At The Federalist, Ben Domenech denied Yiannopoulos was a conservative, but enjoyed that he got those liberals going as “a provocateur who in practice amounts to a blunt instrument to use against the left because he confounds them as something they argue cannot exist.” Hence, “he is not going to go away," and when he doesn't, Domenech will be enjoying it over here near the door with his coat collar turned way up. 

Domenech's colleague D.C. McAllister would not defend Yiannopoulos, but attacked the “reaction” to him that she said was “riddled, not only with double standards, but with the hysteria of a witch-hunt that, as Maher admitted, will embolden progressives on the Left and weaken conservatives and libertarians on the Right… That’s the goal. Crush the Right. Label them. Stigmatize them. Silence them. Delegitimize them. Finally, defeat and destroy them. That’s the goal…”
“I’ve heard from friends that Lefties are already piling on to this man who did nothing wrong other than making observations about the realities of the gay world and the physical maturation process,” said Bookworm Room.

Others just went, Milo? I barely knew him. Robby Soave slunk away — “Yiannopoulos is well-known for making disparaging remarks about women, minorities, and transgender people. He’s hardly the right spokesperson for a more tolerant, inclusive GOP” — while his Reason colleague Shikha Dalmia wrote a genuinely anti-Milo piece, “Conservatives Made Their Bed With Milo, Now They Have to Lie In It,” which was almost uniformly lambasted by the magazine’s libertarian commenters (sample: “Dalmia's principle being that she really really hates white people”).

Some of the Milo trolls are hanging in there (“I'm watching twice as many Milo talks now… #JeSuisMilo”), but the exits are getting mighty crowded. To be fair, some of the brethren never liked the guy (“if Milo is what the norm will be and what’s considered ‘winning,’ then I don’t mind losing”). Then again, many of them never liked any gay guy (“Milo Yiannapoulos's public identity is foremost assembled around in-your-face homosexuality,” preached Deborah C. Tyler at American Thinker. “Such a persona, ranged against Judeo-Christian moorings, is irreconcilably separated from the advancement of freedom.”) In any case, Yiannapoulos will have to rethink his self-promotion strategy. Maybe a turn to Jesus?

Meanwhile, there’s less controversy among conservatives about The Leader’s executive order withdrawing Obama’s protections for transgender kids in public schools. Some of the brethren were more delicate about it, but American Thinker’s Daniel John Sobieski encapsulated the attitude: “This nonsense about self-identifying as a woman so a man can use the same restroom as someone else’s daughter is just that — nonsense. Just as it is nonsense about the Almighty putting you in the wrong body. You might be confused, but God is not. Male and female He created them and I’m quite sure He knew the difference.”

The moral of the story for conservatives is, it’s okay to experiment with your sassy gay friend, but don’t get involved, and make sure you always come home to Daddy.

Arkansas LGBT Anti Discrimination Law is Axed by Court

Arkansas joins Indiana

On Thursday, Supreme Court justices struck down an Arkansas LGBT anti-discrimination law.
The city had created an ordinance banning discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Several other liberal communities in northwest Arkansas followed suit after a controversial bill was signed into law two years ago. The legislation had made it illegal for townships and cities to create protections not already outlined by the state.
Some detractors of the Arkansas law claim it’s engineered specifically to enable discrimination against the LGBT community. Governor Asa Hutchinson approved the measure shortly after being elected in 2015 amidst a national outcry. Although the politician refused to sign the bill at first, he also declined to use the veto power to prevent it from becoming effective. He later signed a reworked version of the same into law in April. The legislation – formerly SB 202 – was proclaimed by conservatives to be a victory for religion freedom. Arkansas State Senator Bart Hester was vocal about how the bill would allow his constituents to practice what they preach.
“[It’s] for the individual to decide for themselves,” Hester said in 2015. “They cannot discriminate against an individual. They can discriminate against a message they don’t feel comfortable with.”
Hester likened businesses being obligated to serve LGBT customers to asking “a Jewish baker to put a Nazi swastika on a cake.”
Nearby Indiana had passed a nearly-identical “religious freedom” law before Arkansas. However, the recent Supreme Court ruling has changed the name of the game for residents of The Natural State. While the striking down of Fayetteville’s ordinances doesn’t render the regulations of other towns and cities moot, it does set a disturbing precedent.
Civil rights representatives and activists have said they’ll now focus on fighting the constitutionality of the Arkansas prohibition in lower courts. Last year’s nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage lends credence to the idea that prejudice against gays and lesbians shouldn’t be tolerable in the twenty-first century.
The Washington Post summarized the legal opinion of the Supreme Court, noting the justices had written other state laws regarding bullying couldn’t be related to anti-discrimination law without creating “new protected classes.” Columnist Andrew DeMillo mentioned that such an endeavor ran counter to the intent of the religious freedom law passed in 2015.
“Fayetteville’s ordinance violates the plain wording of Act 137 by extending discrimination laws in the city of Fayetteville to include two classifications not previously included under state law,” the justices wrote. “This necessarily creates a nondiscrimination law and obligation in the city of Fayetteville that does not exist under state law.”
No matter how unfair the ruling may be from an ethical and secular perspective, it does align with Arkansas law.
The justices said they couldn’t comment on the law’s constitutionality or lack thereof without it having first been challenged in a lower court. Fayetteville City Attorney Kit Williams said he plans to fight the 2015 legislation directly.
Tennessee and North Carolina also bar communities from incorporating ordinances which protect the rights of LGBT citizens.

Ryan Farrick is a freelance writer and small business advertising consultant based out of mid-Michigan. Passionate about international politics and world affairs, he’s an avid traveler with a keen interest in the connections between South Asia and the United States. Ryan studied neuroscience and has spent the last several years working as an operations manager in transportation logistics.

Father of Dead Hero Refuses to See Trump Asks for Investigation

Miami Herald obtained this interviewed  with the father of William “Ryan” Owens
 A family photo of William ‘Ryan’ Owens, who was killed in Yemen on Jan. 28, 2017. Owens was the first known U.S. combat casualty under President Trump. Courtesy of the Owens family

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article135064074.html#storylink=cpy

When they brought William “Ryan” Owens home, the Navy SEAL was carried from a C-17 military plane in a flag-draped casket, onto the tarmac at Dover Air Force Base, as President Donald Trump, his daughter, Ivanka, and Owens’ family paid their respects.

It was a private transfer, as the family had requested. No media and no bystanders, except for some military dignitaries.

Owens’ father, Bill, had learned only a short time before the ceremony that Trump was coming. Owens was sitting with his wife, Marie, and other family members in the solemn, living room-like space where the loved ones of the fallen assemble before they are taken to the flight line.

“I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him,’’ Owens recalled telling the chaplain who informed him that Trump was on his way from Washington. “I told them I don’t want to meet the President.”

It had been little more than 24 hours since six officers in dress uniform knocked on the door to Owens’ home in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. It was not yet daylight when he answered the door, already knowing in the pit of his stomach what they had come to tell him.
Now, Owens cringed at the thought of having to shake the hand of the president who approved the raid in Yemen that claimed his son’s life — an operation that he and others are now calling into question.

“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Owens said Friday, speaking out for the first time in an interview with the Miami Herald.

Owens, also a military veteran, was troubled by Trump’s harsh treatment of a Gold Star family during his presidential campaign. Now Owens was a Gold Star parent, and he said he had deep reservations about the way the decision was made to launch what would be his son’s last mission.

Ryan and as many as 29 civilians were killed Jan. 28 in the anti-terrorism mission in Yemen. What was intended as a lightning raid to grab cellphones, laptops and other information about terrorists turned into a nearly hour-long firefight in which “everything went wrong,” according to U.S. military officials who spoke to the New York Times.

Bill Owens said he was assured that his son, who was shot, was killed early in the fight. It was the first military counter-terrorist operation approved by the new president, who signed the go-ahead Jan. 26 — six days into his term.

“Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why? For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen — everything was missiles and drones — because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?’’

In a statement from the White House Saturday, spokesman Michael C. Short called Ryan Owens “an American hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of his country.”

The White House did not address his father’s criticisms, but pointed out that the Department of Defense routinely conducts a review of missions that result in loss of life.

Bill Owens and his wife sat in another room as the President paid his respects to other family members. He declined to say what family members were at the ceremony.

Trump administration officials have called the mission a success, saying they had seized important intelligence information. They have also criticized detractors of the raid, saying those who question its success dishonor Ryan Owens’ memory.

His father, however, believes just the opposite.

“Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” said the elder Owens, pointing to Trump’s sharp words directed at the mission’s critics, including Sen. John McCain.

“I want an investigation. … The government owes my son an investigation,” he said. 

Next week, Ryan Owens would have turned 37. At the time of his death, he had already spent half his life in the Navy, much of that with the elite SEAL Team 6 — chasing terrorist leaders across deserts and mountains around the world. The team, formally known as DEVGRU,had taken part in some of the most high-profile operations in military history, including the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

At the time of the 2001 9/11 attacks, Owens was in SEAL training, arguably the most physically grueling and mentally grinding regimens in the military. The team, tasked with tracking terrorists and mythologized in books and movies, had once been dubbed a “global manhunting machine” by the Times.

Despite the lore surrounding the SEALS’ exploits, almost everything about them is kept secret, even their names. Bill Owens knows very little about the actions that his son participated in, but takes pride in the dozens of awards he earned during his 12 deployments. Among them: the Silver Star, Navy and Marine Corps Medal, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Ryan joined the Navy after high school, following in his brothers’ footsteps. His brother, John, 42, was also a SEAL, and his oldest brother, Michael, 44, a Hollywood police officer, was also in the Navy for a time.

They in turn were inspired by their father: Bill Owens served four years in the Navy, then joined the Army Reserves in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Ryan was born in downstate Peoria. While in the Reserves, Bill worked for Caterpillar tractor company, until he was laid off during the recession in the 1980s. Shortly thereafter, he saw a notice in a military magazine for new recruits for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, and he successfully applied.

Owens and his then-wife, Ryan’s mother Patricia, moved with Ryan to South Florida. His elder sons remained with Owens’ first wife in Illinois.

Despite the distance between them, the half-brothers were very close, Owens said. They played sports and spent many summers and holidays together. Ryan and his brothers became interested in the military at a very young age. And Ryan dreamed of becoming a SEAL.

“He was always happy,” Bill Owens said of Ryan. “Every picture you see he has a smile on his face. He just had a real positive attitude.”

He was also driven. Ryan was so determined “to be the best” his father said, that when he failed the dive phase of SEAL training, he went out and hired a private instructor to get more training on his off time, and was initially certified as a civilian.

“He went out on his own and became more proficient. That’s the kind of dedication and determination that he had,” his father said.

Bill Owens’ marriage to Ryan’s mother ended soon after they moved to South Florida, and Patricia, who also became a Fort Lauderdale police officer, eventually moved with Ryan and her new husband back to Peoria. She died in 2013.

Ryan spent summers and holidays with his father and brothers in Fort Lauderdale and played catcher during the school year for the Illinois Valley Central High School baseball team, the Grey Ghosts.

  Ryan dreamed of serving in the military from a very early age, his father says. In this family photo, he is playing soldier with his older brothers. Courtesy of the Owens family
A SEAL’s heartache

Standing 6-4, and weighing about 225 pounds, Ryan loved the physical part of the job and serving his country, even though it took him away from his family much of the year.

“I always kept hoping that we would eventually make up for lost time, but that’s not going to happen,” his father said.

Ryan’s military career wasn’t always filled with the adrenaline of hostage rescue missions and midnight raids. In between, there were endless hours of training and planning.

There was also the heartache of losing his military brothers. Ryan was tasked in 2011 with escorting the bodies of 17 of his fellow SEALS home following a CH-47 helicopter crash in Afghanistan, his father said.

“He came back from Afghanistan and had to go to their funerals. It’s unnerving to go through something like that. It was one of the worst days in SEAL history as far as casualties go. He didn’t talk about it,” his father said. “A lot of them, they don’t talk about it, even with their parents.”

Doomed mission

Owens and his SEAL commandos set out in the dark of night. Planning for the Yemen raid began last year during the Obama administration, but the execution was tabled because it was decided it would be better to launch the operation on a moonless night, which wouldn’t occur until after President Trump took office Jan. 20.

According to a timeline provided by the White House, then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn briefed the president about the operation Jan. 25 over a dinner that included Vice President Mike Pence, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and top security aides. It was not held in the Situation Room, as had been a practice under previous administrations.

President Trump signed the memo authorizing the action the next day, Jan. 26.

  The younger Owens served under three presidents and met one of them: Barack Obama. This photo is from a visit to the White House. Courtesy of the Owens family
“This was a very, very well thought-out and executed effort,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Feb. 2 as questions first arose about the mission. He stressed that it had been thoroughly vetted and planned on Obama’s watch.

Colin Kahl, a national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, however, tweeted his contention that Spicer was mistaken.

“Obama made no decisions on this before leaving office, believing it represented escalation of U.S. involvement in Yemen,” he wrote on Twitter.

At the time of the firefight, Trump was not in the Situation Room, where he would have been directly involved in monitoring developments. Spicer said he kept in touch with his national security staffers, who were directly plugged in. White House officials also pointed out that, in general, counter-terrorism operations are routine and presidents are not in the Situation Room for every mission.

U.S. forces, targeting a suspected al-Qaida compound, immediately faced armed militants, a sign that their cover had been blown. The Washington Post reported that militants, some of them women, fired from the rooftops. Three other commandos were injured when an MV-22 Osprey, sent in to evacuate the troops, crash-landed. It was later destroyed by a U.S. airstrike to prevent it from falling into militant hands.

Some reports have said as many as 23 civilians, including an 8-year-old girl, were killed.

Afterward, McCain characterized the mission as a failure, and Trump responded with a series of tweets defending the Yemen action, and criticizing McCain. The rancor further escalated when Spicer later stated that McCain — or anyone — who “undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and a disservice to life of Chief Owens.”

There is no SEAL mission that is without risk, said Don Mann, a 21-year veteran Navy SEAL, now retired. Mann, the author of “Inside SEAL Team Six: My Life and Missions with America’s Elite Warriors,” said that if the assault team knew ahead of time that it had been compromised, the SEAL commanders on the ground had the ability to abort the raid at any time.

Some reports said that they did know, and went forward anyway.

“The SEALS, unlike other forces, make their decision on the ground and that decision — in this case — cost a life, which is very very tragic, but that’s war,” Mann said.

“These people are good human beings. It weighs heavily on them. Seeing one person die, especially a teammate or friend, is beyond comprehension.”

He said it’s natural that Owens’ loved ones would have questions about what happened, but they shouldn’t be swayed by the politics surrounding the tragedy.

“Nobody knows the truth of what happened except the person on the ground. When politicians get it, they warp it far from the truth,” he said.

Powerful hands

There were so many SEALS at Ryan’s service at Arlington National Cemetery that his father’s arm got tired from shaking so many muscled hands. At the end, before his coffin was lowered, each of the SEALS removed their badges from their uniforms and pounded them one by one into the casket. When it over, the casket was covered in gold eagle tridents.

Bill Owens doesn’t want to talk about Ryan’s wife or his three young children. There are other things that he believes should remain private. He spoke out, he says, at the risk of offending some of his family and friends.

  William Owens said he had deep reservations about the way the decision was made to launch what would be his son’s last mission.Emily MichotMiami Herald Staff
“I’d like some answers about all the things that happened in the timeline that led up to it. I know what the timeline is, and it bothers me a lot,” said Owens, who acknowledges he didn’t vote for Donald Trump.

One aspect of the chain of events that nags at him is the fact that the president signed the order suspending the entry of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Yemen, on Jan. 27 — the day before the mission.

Owens wonders whether that affected friendly forces in Yemen who were assisting with the raid.

“It just doesn’t make any sense to do something to antagonize an ally when you’re going to conduct a mission in that country,” he said. “Did we alienate some of the people working with them, translators or support people. Maybe they decided to release information to jeopardize the mission.”

These are only some of the many questions that Owens believes should be thoroughly examined, including the possibility that the decision to move forward with the mission was motivated by politics.

“I think these are valid questions. I don’t want anybody to think I have an agenda, because I don’t. I just want the truth.”

[McClatchy reporters Vera Bergengruen and Anita Kumar contributed from Washington.]

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