Trump Finds It Harder To Recruit Talent As Scandals Pile Up

WASHINGTON ? A White House in a ?downward spiral,? as a key Republican senator called it, is making an already daunting task even harder: persuading qualified candidates to take important administration jobs.

Hundreds of key posts at the Department of Defense and the State Department remain unfilled heading into the fifth month of Donald Trump?s presidency because of his insistence on personally approving all top hires. And the hiring crunch started before the most recent stretch of controversy that began with Trump firing the FBI director while the bureau was investigating the Trump campaign?s possible collusion with Russia and was followed by an Oval Office meeting last week with Russian officials during which Trump reportedly revealed highly classified information. Then Tuesday came the multiple reports that Trump had asked FBI Director James Comey to end his investigation of Michael Flynn, Trump?s first national security adviser.

?Up to now, many experienced national security hands had been barred from serving in this administration because they opposed candidate Trump,? said Richard Haas, president of the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations. ?The danger now for the country is that many of these same people will opt to stay out because they oppose President Trump.?

The onslaught of unflattering revelations has even some Republican lawmakers calling for changes. Tennessee Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker, a Trump ally, said Monday that the White House has to find a way to reverse this ?downward spiral.?

In short order, Trump has sparked a drain brain from within the government ranks ? dissuading those inclined to serve from submitting their résumés and prompting those already in place to consider leaving.

One long-serving former FBI official told HuffPost that morale at the agency has cratered since Comey?s dismissal, with case agents and administrators petrified that the president is politicizing their work. ?If it is political, it?s a problem,? the official said, predicting that few applicants would find the agency appealing if Trump chooses a politician to replace Comey.

 

Right, wrong or indifferent, an administration has to have its voice at the lowest echelons of agencies, and that?s just not happening.
Todd A. Weiler, assistant secretary of defense in the Obama administration

A similar dynamic is shaping up in the national security agencies, where Trump has faced profound and sustained difficulties recruiting staff. A Republican foreign policy hand who turned down a spot in the administration during the presidential transition over concerns about the Trump team?s ties to Russia said the situation actually looked much rosier just two weeks ago. ?People were coming to the view that they could buckle down and work in this administration because they could make the administration better,? the would-be appointee said on the condition of anonymity out of fear of angering the Trump administration.

That outlook has dimmed considerably. Trump publicly contradicted top aides on why he had fired Comey and then, less than a week later, put National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster before the press to knock down a critical Washington Post report Monday that Trump gave sensitive information to the Russians ? before admitting it Tuesday morning on Twitter.

?To have McMaster out there shilling on this is not sitting well with foreign policy professionals,? the GOP foreign policy expert said. ?They?re concerned that they are dragging his reputation through the mud, and they look and say: ?If H.R. had this sterling reputation and may not survive this, how could I???

Unfilled political appointments have two consequences on a new administration?s effectiveness. While some of those jobs are largely ceremonial ? glamorous ambassadorships, for example ? others entail nuts-and-bolts work. And those tasks either go undone or are passed down to lower-level employees, which in turn affects their ability to do their own jobs.

At another level, though, the failure to install management-level political appointees means the career service employees who do the majority of the work are likely to continue carrying out policies laid out by the previous administration.

?What we are seeing right now in the Pentagon for example ? my old world ? is careerists either trying to interpret what they think a team would want or in some cases going it on their own and for their own personal agendas taking action on certain items,? said Todd A. Weiler, assistant secretary of defense in the Obama administration and deputy assistant secretary under President Bill Clinton. ?And that?s a dangerous way to do business. Right, wrong or indifferent, an administration has to have its voice at the lowest echelons of agencies, and that?s just not happening.?

Republican political consultant and longtime Trump critic Rick Wilson said some delay in filling jobs is to be expected, particularly at relatively lower levels. As a young political appointee of President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s, Wilson stayed in his job a full 14 months into Democrat Bill Clinton?s presidency until leaving in March 1994.

Yet Trump?s challenge is even more difficult, Wilson said, because of his insistence on loyalty. In past administrations, the president has drawn not only from backers of his own campaign but also from those who had supported other candidates, even other party members. Trump, while he put former GOP rivals Ben Carson and Rick Perry on his Cabinet, has been less willing to hire supporters of other GOP presidential candidates.

?Unless you were a loyal Trump suck-up for the entire campaign, they?re not even going to consider you,? said Wilson, who added that that criterion left just a small group of prospects. ?And they?re lunatics.?

Some of Trump?s problem, of course, stems from Republicans who remain absolutely unwilling to work for Trump.

?I don?t know anyone who worked for the governor who would work for President Trump,? said John Weaver, who ran the Republican primary campaign of Ohio Gov. John Kasich. ?Especially me.?

And the more the Trump scandals pile up, Wilson said, the harder it will be to find good people.

?There?s a talent gap already, and it?s going to be an even worse talent gap,? he said. ?People aren?t going to volunteer for a mission that?s political suicide, that?s career suicide.?

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Chicago Tribune Owner Plans To Acquire Rival Sun-Times

Chicago Tribune parent company Tronc announced plans Monday to purchase the Chicago Sun-Times, a deal which would bring the two biggest newspapers in the third-largest U.S. city under a single owner.

Tronc ? formerly Tribune Publishing ? promised in a statement that it would preserve the Sun-Times? ?independent voice? if it completes an acquisition of Wrapports Holdings, which owns the Sun-Times and other media assets, such as The Chicago Reader, an alternative weekly. Tronc, which also owns several major newspapers outside Chicago, including the Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun, sent a letter of intent to buy Wrapports if no other bidder comes forward by June 1. Tronc?s chairman, Michael Ferro, was the majority shareholder of Wrapports before he took control of Tribune Publishing a year ago.

A deal that would have been unthinkable when newspapers were huge profit generators is emblematic of the industry?s sagging fortunes. Some major U.S. cities have long been left with a single daily newspaper, and others, like Chicago, could see two longtime rivals join together in an attempt to stay afloat. 

Tim Knight, president of the TroncX division of Tronc, said in a statement that the acquisition would be the ?latest in almost a decade of transactions between the owners of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times,? adding that the rivals have previously forged agreements over distribution and printing operations. The Sun-Times newsroom would remain independent if a deal goes through, the Tronc announcement said. 

Still, the potential sale raises antitrust concerns, and the Justice Department announced Monday it will investigate the plan and monitor ?whether any other viable buyer expresses interest.?

The possibility of Tronc expanding its portfolio comes several months after giant newspaper chain Gannett dropped its long-running bid to buy the publishing company last year. 

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‘Bachelor’ Stars Ben Higgins And Lauren Bushnell Split After Over A Year Together

Sadly, another ?Bachelor? couple has ended their engagement. 

Ben Higgins, who starred on Season 20 of the ABC franchise, has officially called it quits with his fiancée, Lauren Bushnell, according to People. The two shared a statement on their split: 

It is with heavy hearts that we announce our decision to go our separate ways. We feel fortunate for the time we had together, and will remain friends with much love and respect for one another. We wish nothing but the best for each other, and ask for your support and understanding at this time.

Cue lots of tears.

Higgins and Bushnell got engaged ahead of the season premiere of ?The Bachelor? Season 20 in January 2016. Although they had to keep their relationship a secret while the season played out on the air, it was pretty clear that Higgins had a special bond with Bushnell right from the beginning. She beat out runner-up ? and future Bachelorette ? JoJo Fletcher for his heart and a Neil Lane diamond ring. 

Rumors of a split have been floating around for months, but Higgins shot down any speculation with an Instagram post in February. 

In October 2016, the couple revealed they were in couples therapy, with Higgins telling People at the time, ?We?re not the perfect couple. Far from it! But we are trying really hard, and we love each other a lot … ?Bachelor? or not, our life is not easy to navigate. We have our struggles. But we won?t give up. And for every argument, we?re stronger for it.?

The pair, who debuted their own reality series, ?Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?,? on Freeform in October, moved in together last April in Denver, Colorado. (Clearly, the show won?t be back for a Season 2, but at least we still have the Ferguson twins!) 

Bushnell, who?s now a lifestyle blogger, hasn?t posted a photo of Higgins in a month. The former Bachelor, however, just shared a picture of his former love last week, writing, ?Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. -Martin Luther King Jr.? @laurenbushnell continues to spread love while some feel it is their responsibility to spread hate, she is a light in this world. Proud of my gal, @laurenbushnell got me .?

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101-Year-Old Sets Record As World’s Oldest Skydiver

A 101-year-old thrill seeker in the United Kingdom landed in the record books on Saturday when he became the world?s oldest tandem skydiver.

Verdun Hayes completed his jump from an airplane 15,000 feet above the ground in Devon, England, at the age of 101 years and 37 days young.

?Beautiful,? he told the BBC. ?I?d do it again tomorrow. I would, truthfully. It?s lovely.?

Canadian Armand Gendreau previously held the record with his June 2013 jump from 10,000 feet in the Quebec area. He was 101 and three days old at the time, according to CNN.

Hayes said he got the idea to skydive around the time he turned 90 years old, but his wife wouldn?t let him. She has since died, according to The Guardian.

Hayes, a World War II veteran, took his first jump last year to celebrate his centenarian birthday.

?A lot of people ask me how I?ve lived so long,? he told The Telegraph. ?I?d say, ?Just keep breathing!??

Hayes made this year?s jump to raise money for the Royal British Legion, a veterans support group. Ten members of his family also made leaps as part of the event. 

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There’s A Nursery That Takes Care Of Hundreds Of Adorable Kittens

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Newborn felines are some of the cuddliest members of the animal kingdom. But their diminutive stature?and the level of TLC they need to survive?makes them extra vulnerable, too. That’s why the San Diego Humane Society (SDHS) Kitten Nursery, the first of its kind in the U.S., cares exclusively for fragile fuzz balls.

Very young kittens, even healthy ones, require almost round-the-clock attention: They have to be fed roughly every three hours and need help regulating their body temperature. “Not all shelters have the resources, so kittens are euthanized in droves,” says Gary Weitzman, SDHS president and CEO. “They’re one of the most at-risk animal populations nationwide.” The kitten nursery opened in 2009 to help remedy that. In 2016 alone, it cared for?and eventually adopted out?nearly 3,500 very young cats.

During “kitten season”?from March to mid-November, when cats give birth?the nursery, run by 20 staffers and about 200 volunteers, is open 24 hours a day. Though the group’s life-saving efforts are Herculean, its tools are anything but. “We brush their backs with toothbrushes,” says Weitzman, “because it simulates the roughness of their mother’s tongue.” Nap time means dozing inside Easter baskets or child-size travel neck pillows. The young felines may be more demanding than other SDHS residents, but staffers don’t mind. Says Weitzman, “Nobody complains about working in the nursery.”

 

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‘New Girl’ Squeezes Out One More Season On Fox

It looks like the ?New Girl? gang will be back at the loft for a few more months.

Variety reports that Fox has renewed the sitcom for a seventh and final season. According to sources, the season will consist of only eight episodes. 

The series, which stars Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris and Hannah Simone, started off strong when it premiered in 2011 but recently experienced a dip in the ratings. And at the end of the sixth season, some fans were wondering if the season finale would be the series finale.

Last month, on the eve of the final episode of Season 6, Johnson told HuffPost that he didn?t know what Fox had planned for ?New Girl,? but that he hoped longtime fans would enjoy the way the series ends, whenever that might be. 

?What I really in my heart believe, I just want the core fan base, the people who love the show, I want them to be happy. And I don?t actually know what that ending is,? he said, adding, ?I just want this TV show to end in a way so that the people who have committed six years of their lives to it, who have cared about it ? I don?t want to let them down.?

There are plenty of storylines to explore down the line with (spoiler alert!) CeCe and Schmidt?s baby news and the romantic way things ended for Jess and Nick. We?re also keeping our fingers crossed for one more ?True American? drinking game. 

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Sean Hannity Wants Trump To Cancel Press Briefings And Just Tweet His ‘Accomplishments’

Fox News host Sean Hannity endorsed President Donald Trump?s threat to end daily press briefings during his Friday show, suggesting the commander in chief should simply ?tweet out his accomplishments instead.?

Hannity, a longtime Trump loyalist, highlighted the president?s recent interview with Fox News? Jeanine Pirro, in which Trump said he might cancel the daily meetings with press secretary Sean Spicer in favor of holding a press conference himself every two weeks. 

According to The New York Times, Trump has grown increasingly dissatisfied with Spicer?s performance, while the media uproar around the recent firing of FBI Director James Comey has reportedly led Trump to consider canceling the briefings altogether.

Hannity later fumed: ?If the propaganda ?destroy Trump? media, if they?re going to smear and slander him and his administration and his family and lie about facts and what he?s done, why bother??

?Why waste the energy trying to appease people who obviously hate his guts and want to destroy him?? he went on. ?And who twist his words and damage him every single day??

Instead, Hannity said, ?every week? Trump should ?tweet out all of his accomplishments, going back to day one ? update people daily about what he?s doing and what he?s accomplishing.?

?The president can also take to Twitter,? he added. ?He can respond to the barrage of attacks, this ridiculous conspiracy theory about Russia that is being pushed with no evidence.? 

Hannity, who acknowledged last year he was more an entertainer than a journalist, has previously called for Trump to ?change the traditional relationship? between the media and the White House.

In November, he raged: ?Until members of the media come clean about colluding with the Clinton campaign and admit that they knowingly broke every ethical standard that they?re supposed to stand and uphold, they should not have the privilege, they should not have the responsibility of covering the president on behalf of you, the American people.?

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Selecting a ceiling fan isn?t just about the right color and style. There are some key elements that you must take into consideration. Airflow and blade shape matter. When you sit for long hours during the day in your Spokane workplace, you may be at risk of experiencing some type of back injury, so you want to schedule a regular chiropractic checkup to make sure your spine is aligned correctly. Higher number of blades means more air movement. However Fans with the most airflow also make the most noise. .

Internet Comes For Bigot Who Claims Gays ‘Stole The Rainbow From God’

Many in the LGBTQ community were saddened by Friday?s news that artist and activist Gilbert Baker, who created the rainbow flag, had died at age 65. Leave it to conservative radio host Bryan Fischer, however, to seize the moment to make a homophobic barb. 

On Sunday, the host of American Family Radio?s ?Focal Point? blasted the use of the rainbow as a pro-equality symbol for the LGBTQ community on Twitter

The Bible verse cited by Fischer details the parable of Noah?s ark. After wiping out all living creatures in a massive flood, God sends ?the bow [that] is seen in the clouds,? promising not to destroy the planet again. 

The Internet?s reaction to Fischer?s bonkers claim, of course, was fast and furious. Among those to respond was ?Star Trek? icon George Takei

Others didn?t hold back, either. Check out some of the best Twitter responses below, then scroll down to keep reading. 

Of course, Fischer is no stranger to making outrageous declarations about the LGBTQ community. Last year, the American Family Association?s former director of news analysis likened the one-year anniversary of marriage equality in the U.S. to both the bombing of Pearl Harbor and 9/11.

He?s also rallied against the pro-equality arguments seen in ?Modern Family,? Macklemore and Ryan Lewis?s hit single ?Same Love,? and even a 2014 Burger King campaign.   

For more ways to combat bigotry, don?t miss the Queer Voices newsletter.

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Elizabeth Warren-Backed Candidate Looks To Unseat GOP Congresswoman In California

A consumer advocate backed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) will challenge a Republican congresswoman in next year?s election.

Katie Porter, an attorney who teaches consumer law at the University of California, Irvine and is the author of several studies on the subprime loan crisis, announced Monday she will run against Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) in 2018.

?As a consumer advocate, I?ve spent my career fighting Wall Street banks who cheat consumers and families,? Porter said in a statement announcing her candidacy. ?Now, I?m running for Congress to take that fight to Washington. I?ll take on Donald Trump and the powerful Washington special interests who control Congress.?

Walters represents a portion of Orange County, one of the GOP?s strongholds in largely blue California. Democratic operatives have eyed the area as ripe for House seat pick-ups since the region sided with Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election ? the first time the county voted for a Democratic candidate since 1936 ? and are looking to attract voters who are displeased with President Donald Trump and lawmakers who back his legislative priorities.

Porter?s team has already employed that strategy, pointing to a FiveThirtyEight analysis showing Walters voting in line with Trump?s agenda 100 percent of the time.

Porter?s campaign is also emphasizing her support from Warren and Harris, two progressive favorites and outspoken critics of the president. 

Warren, who was Porter?s professor at Harvard Law School, described the attorney as a ?fighter.?

?She?s been in the trenches with me fighting for families for nearly two decades ? and she?s gotten real results,? Warren said in a statement. ?She?s fought relentlessly for important protections that safeguard consumers and force banks to give families a fair shake. There?s no one I trust more to take on Donald Trump and the entrenched special interests in Washington on behalf of working families.?

Harris also has longstanding ties with Porter: As California attorney general, Harris appointed Porter in 2012 to oversee the $25 billion mortgage settlement by Wall Street banks.  

?Katie has spent her career battling powerful Wall Street banks who take advantage of consumers and families,? Harris said in a statement. ?She will be just as relentless in Congress fighting against the powerful Washington special interests on behalf of our families.?

Walters has served in the House since 2015. She was re-elected in November with 58.6 percent of the vote. 

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Another Reason Not To Give Up On Your Novel: J.K. Rowling Will Be Really Disappointed

There?s a great novel inside of you, just waiting for the moment to burst out. Not sure about that? Take J.K. Rowling?s word for it.

In a series of tweets ? inspired by one from Beauty Jackson, a podcast host and blogger with a sizable Twitter following ? Rowling encouraged creatives to never give up on their passion projects, even if the odds of success seem insurmountable.

Here?s the original tweet, which Rowling quoted:

In a long thread, she extols the value of finishing work even if it never finds an audience, the lessons learned by persevering in creating art, and the importance of remembering that success is not a true measure of quality.

Easy for her to say, right? If every struggling author eventually had a smash-hit debut novel that left them multi-millionaires, if not billionaires, then, well, money would probably cease to have much meaning.

It?s been well-documented how winding, and often difficult, a path Rowling took to superstardom ? a single mother who?d worked for Amnesty International and taught English in Portugal, she found herself scraping by to support her daughter in Edinburgh on state benefits while she toiled on her Harry Potter manuscript and trained to teach. After all that hard work, the book was rejected somewhere between ?loads? and ?12? times by publishers before Bloomsbury took a chance on the magic of Hogwarts.

And, to be clear, Harry Potter and the Philosopher?s Stone wasn?t her first novel. She wrote her first book at 6 years old; it was about a rabbit.

The point is, creating stuff ? whole-cloth, out of your brain ? is difficult, and it can be exhausting. It?s especially exhausting when your work isn?t appreciated, after all the thankless hours you invested in it. But if you?re really determined and you believe in yourself, maybe you just need a solid pep talk to carry you through the tough times ? and J.K. Rowling always serves the good stuff.

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Marvel Exec Suggests Comic Sales Fell Because Readers ‘Didn’t Want Female Characters’

Over the past few years, the elite club of iconic comic superheroes went from being exclusively white and male ? Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, all the mans ? to incorporating women and people of color into its super-roster.

For example, a Pakistani-American teenager named Kamala Khan became the new Ms. Marvel, and a black science prodigy named Riri Williams made her own Iron Man suit, taking up the Ironheart mantle. Bad Feminist author Roxanne Gay became the first black woman to write for Marvel; her series ?World of Wakanda? revolves around queer heroines in an all-women fighting force, based in a fictional African country.

Unfortunately, these initial, long overdue attempts to broaden the definition of who a hero can be are now being blamed for the decline in comic-book sales in 2016. In an interview with ?geek culture? website ICv2, Marvel?s vice president of sales David Gabriel said he was told by comic retailers that customers ?didn?t want any more diversity.?  

Gabriel continued:

They didn?t want female characters out there. That?s what we heard, whether we believe that or not. I don?t know that that?s really true, but that?s what we saw in sales.

We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against. That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked.

Many were quick to challenge Gabriel?s hypothesis that diversity was to blame for a lapse in sales, instead of the fact that most comic books tell the same damn stories over and over and over again.

One vocal commenter was the creator of Ms. Marvel herself, G. Willow Wilson.

In a blog post responding to the controversial statements, Wilson discussed the various other factors that turn readers off from new comic protagonists that don?t relate to their race and gender ? like, for example, that they tend to kill off the reigning, beloved hero and assume his or her position, likely to anger devoted fans. 

Most notably, Wilson took issue with the framing of non-white male characters as ?diverse,? instead of just realistic. ?Diversity as a form of performative guilt doesn?t work,? she wrote. ?Let?s scrap the word diversity entirely and replace it with authenticity and realism. This is not a new world. This is *the world.*?

Others on Twitter chimed in with similar sentiments, expressing that Marvel?s blatant lag time in expanding its catalog of leading characters likely turned readers off as much if not more than their eventual attempts at inclusion. 

However, it?s not all that hard to imagine readers ?turning their noses up,? as Gabriel put it, at the concept of being saved by a teenage girl. Just think of the unfathomable wrath generated by the all-female reboot of ?Ghostbusters? and the December 2015 installment of ?Star Wars,? fronted by a woman and a black man. Sociologists and scholars have studied the propensity for misogyny in stereotypically ?nerdy? communities. Very succinctly put, participants in geek culture, often excluded from traditional displays of masculinity, seek protected communities to experience male privileges of dominance, acceptance and superiority

The good news, however, is that Gabriel is determined not to let the decline in sales deter Marvel?s path toward representation and widespread visibility. ?Let me be clear,? he wrote in a clarifying statement following his initial remarks, ?our new heroes are not going anywhere! We are proud and excited to keep introducing unique characters that reflect new voices and new experiences into the Marvel universe and pair them with our iconic heroes.?

Comic buffs and feminist nerds, if you?re reading, now is the time to support the comic heroes you?d like to see more of. In real life, it?s often women and people of color who put in work to make the world a brighter, safer place. Let?s have our comics tell truthful stories that reflect the world around us, whether or not they involve flying around cities in tight suits and capes.   

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The Backstreet Boys Are Apparently A Country Boy Band Now

The 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards want it thaaaat way

Pop music is apparently very 2001, so the Backstreet Boys opted for some country twang on Sunday night with a little help from Florida Georgia Line.

The boy band joined the duo onstage for a ?must-see medley?, featuring their single, ?God, Your Mama, and Me.?

Of course, viewers got their money?s worth when the group closed the performance with a rendition of ?Everybody.?

Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood and the rest of social media was understandably shook. 

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Accused Sexual Predator Proclaims April National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

President Donald Trump, who has been publicly accused of sexual assault by more than 15 women and was caught on tape boasting he could grab women ?by the pussy? without their consent, has officially proclaimed April 2017 to be National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.  

In 2009, Barack Obama became the first president to officially proclaim April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, although activists had recognized the month as a time to boost awareness of sexual violence for several decades. Since 2009, a proclamation has been released each year by the White House. But 2017 brings us the first year that a president who has been accused of committing sexual assault has issued such a proclamation.

?At the heart of our country is the emphatic belief that every person has unique and infinite value,? reads the beginning of Trump?s statement. ?We dedicate each April to raising awareness about sexual abuse and recommitting ourselves to fighting it. Women, children, and men have inherent dignity that should never be violated.?

The statement goes on to affirm a commitment to reducing and ending sexual violence, calling on all Americans ?to support survivors of sexual assault and work together to prevent these crimes in their communities.?

The Trump administration?s first Sexual Assault Awareness Month proclamation hits many of the same general notes that Obama?s statement did in 2016 ? with a few notable changes.

The 2017 proclamation removes any references to military sexual assault and adds a line on the importance of fighting ?against the scourge of child pornography and its pernicious effects.? 

Most strikingly, the proclamation removes almost all references to rape culture, though Trump does acknowledge that ?research has demonstrated the effectiveness of changing social norms that accept or allow indifference to sexual violence.?

In its first paragraph, Obama?s 2016 statement called on Americans to ?stand up and speak out to change the culture that questions the actions of victims, rather than those of their attackers,? later ?reaffirm[ing] our commitment to shift the attitudes that allow sexual assault to go unanswered and unpunished.? 

There are no such allusions to a culture of victim-blaming in Trump?s 2017 statement.

Trump is currently facing a defamation suit filed by former ?Apprentice? contestant Summer Zervos, who has accused Trump of kissing and groping her without her consent in 2007, a year after she had appeared on his reality TV show.

Read Trump?s full proclamation below:

At the heart of our country is the emphatic belief that every person has unique and infinite value. We dedicate each April to raising awareness about sexual abuse and recommitting ourselves to fighting it. Women, children, and men have inherent dignity that should never be violated.

According to the Department of Justice, on average there are more than 300,000 instances of rape or other sexual assault that afflict our neighbors and loved ones every year. Behind these painful statistics are real people whose lives are profoundly affected, at times shattered, and who are invariably in need of our help, commitment, and protection.

As we recognize National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, we are reminded that we all share the responsibility to reduce and ultimately end sexual violence. As a Nation, we must develop meaningful strategies to eliminate these crimes, including increasing awareness of the problem in our communities, creating systems that protect vulnerable groups, and sharing successful prevention strategies.

My Administration, including the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services, will do everything in its power to protect women, children, and men from sexual violence. This includes supporting victims, preventing future abuse, and prosecuting offenders to the full extent of the law. I have already directed the Attorney General to create a task force on crime reduction and public safety. This task force will develop strategies to reduce crime and propose new legislation to fill gaps in existing laws.

Prevention means reducing the prevalence of sexual violence on our streets, in our homes, and in our schools and institutions. Recent research has demonstrated the effectiveness of changing social norms that accept or allow indifference to sexual violence. This can be done by engaging young people to step in and provide peer leadership against condoning violence, and by mobilizing men and boys as allies in preventing sexual and relationship violence. Our families, schools, and communities must encourage respect for women and children, who are the vast majority of victims, and promote healthy personal relationships. We must never give up the fight against the scourge of child pornography and its pernicious effects on both direct victims and the broader culture. We recommit ourselves this month to establishing a culture of respect and appreciation for the dignity of every human being.

There is tremendous work to be done. Together, we can and must protect our loved ones, families, campuses, and communities from the devastating and pervasive effects of sexual assault. In the face of sexual violence, we must commit to providing meaningful support and services for victims and survivors in the United States and around the world.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2017 as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. I urge all Americans, families, law enforcement, health care providers, community and faith-based organizations, and private organizations to support survivors of sexual assault and work together to prevent these crimes in their communities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

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Need help? Visit RAINN?s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center?s website.

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19 Tweets That Show Love Can Be A Radical Act

For HuffPost’s #LoveTakesAction series, we’re telling stories of how people are standing up to hate and supporting those most threatened. What will you stand up for? Tell us with #LoveTakesAction.

This Valentine’s Day, in addition to the usual barrage of couple photos and “single life” memes, another theme emerged on social media: love as a radical, political act.

On Feb. 14, the Women’s March and other groups launched the hashtag #RevolutionaryLove, asking followers “to fight for social justice through the ethic of love” and post love letters on social media written to others, to themselves and even to their opponents. On the same day, The Huffington Post launched the hashtag #LoveTakesAction, asking people what issues they’ll stand up for. 

The hashtags seemed to resonate with people online ― #RevolutionaryLove trended on Twitter at various times throughout the day ― at a time when most Americans are stressed about the country’s future, and waves of protesters are taking to the streets to oppose everything from President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigrants, to the Dakota Access Pipeline, to recent immigration enforcement raids.

Here are 19 tweets from people declaring that, in the face of hateful acts and discriminatory policies, love can be a powerful act of resistance.

People showed love means standing up to hate and bigotry 

 

People spread love to those most affected by hate and injustice

 

People practiced self-love in the face of hate

 

People showed love of country means pushing America to be better

Know a story from your community of people fighting hate and supporting groups who need it? Send news tips to lovetips@huffingtonpost.com.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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African-American GIs of WWII: Fighting for democracy abroad and at home

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-conversation-us/african-american-gis-of-w_b_14719302.html

By Maria Höhn, Vassar College

Until the last decade, the contributions of African-American soldiers in World War II barely registered in America’s collective memory of that war.

The “tan soldiers,” as the black press affectionately called them, were also for the most part left out of the triumphant narrative of America’s “Greatest Generation.” In order to tell their story of helping defeat Nazi Germany in my 2010 book, “Breath of Freedom,” I had to conduct research in more than 40 different archives in the U.S. and Germany.

When a German TV production company, together with Smithsonian TV, turned that book into a documentary, the filmmakers searched U.S. media and military archives for two years for footage of black GIs in the final push into Germany and during the occupation of post-war Germany.

They watched hundreds of hours of film and discovered less than 10 minutes of footage. This despite the fact that among the 16 million U.S. soldiers who fought in World War II, there were about one million African-American soldiers.

They fought in the Pacific, and they were part of the victorious army that liberated Europe from Nazi rule. Black soldiers were also part of the U.S. Army of occupation in Germany after the war. Still serving in strictly segregated units, they were sent to democratize the Germans and expunge all forms of racism.

A soldier paints over a swastika.
NARA

It was that experience that convinced many of these veterans to continue their struggle for equality when they returned home to the U.S. They were to become the foot soldiers of the civil rights movement – a movement that changed the face of our nation and inspired millions of repressed people across the globe.

As a scholar of German history and of the more than 70-year U.S. military presence in Germany, I have marveled at the men and women of that generation. They were willing to fight for democracy abroad, while being denied democratic rights at home in the U.S. Because of their belief in America’s “democratic promise” and their sacrifices on behalf of those ideals, I was born into a free and democratic West Germany, just 10 years after that horrific war.

Fighting racism at home and abroad

By deploying troops abroad as warriors for and emissaries of American democracy, the military literally exported the African-American freedom struggle.

Beginning in 1933, when Adolf Hitler came to power, African-American activists and the black press used white America’s condemnation of Nazi racism to expose and indict the abuses of Jim Crow at home. America’s entry into the war and the struggle against Nazi Germany allowed civil rights activists to significantly step up their rhetoric.

Langston Hughes’ 1943 poem, “From Beaumont to Detroit,” addressed to America, eloquently expressed that sentiment:

“You jim crowed me / Before hitler rose to power- / And you are still jim crowing me- / Right now this very hour.”

Believing that fighting for American democracy abroad would finally grant African-Americans full citizenship at home, civil rights activists put pressure on the U.S. government to allow African-American soldiers to “fight like men,” side by side with white troops.

The military brass, disproportionately dominated by white Southern officers, refused. They argued that such a step would undermine military efficiency and negatively impact the morale of white soldiers. In an integrated military, black officers or NCOs might also end up commanding white troops. Such a challenge to the Jim Crow racial order based on white supremacy was seen as unacceptable.

The manpower of black soldiers was needed in order to win the war, but the military brass got its way; America’s Jim Crow order was to be upheld. African-Americans were allowed to train as pilots in the segregated Tuskeegee Airmen. The 92nd Buffalo Soldiers and 93rd Blue Helmets all-black divisions were activated and sent abroad under the command of white officers.

Despite these concessions, 90 percent of black troops were forced to serve in labor and supply units, rather than the more prestigious combat units. Except for a few short weeks during the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944 when commanders were desperate for manpower, all U.S. soldiers served in strictly segregated units. Even the blood banks were segregated.

‘A Breath of Freedom’

After the defeat of the Nazi regime, an Army manual instructed U.S. occupation soldiers that America was the “living denial of Hitler’s absurd theories of a superior race,” and that it was up to them to teach the Germans “that the whole concept of superiority and intolerance of others is evil.” There was an obvious, deep gulf between this soaring rhetoric of democracy and racial harmony, and the stark reality of the Jim Crow army of occupation. It was also not lost on the black soldiers.

Women’s Army Corps in Nuremberg, Germany, 1949.
Library of Congress

Post-Nazi Germany was hardly a country free of racism. But for the black soldiers, it was their first experience of a society without a formal Jim Crow color line. Their uniform identified them as victorious warriors and as Americans, rather than “Negroes.”

Serving in labor and supply units, they had access to all the goods and provisions starving Germans living in the ruins of their country yearned for. African-American cultural expressions such as jazz, defamed and banned by the Nazis, were another reason so many Germans were drawn to their black liberators. White America was stunned to see how much black GIs enjoyed their time abroad, and how much they dreaded their return home to the U.S.

By 1947, when the Cold War was heating up, the reality of the segregated Jim Crow Army in Germany was becoming a major embarrassment for the U.S. government. The Soviet Union and East German communist propaganda relentlessly attacked the U.S. and challenged its claim to be the leader of the “free world.” Again and again, they would point to the segregated military in West Germany, and to Jim Crow segregation in the U.S. to make their case.

Coming ‘home’

Newly returned veterans, civil rights advocates and the black press took advantage of that Cold War constellation. They evoked America’s mission of democracy in Germany to push for change at home. Responding to that pressure, the first institution of the U.S. to integrate was the U.S. military, made possible by Truman’s 1948 Executive Order 9981. That monumental step, in turn, paved the way for the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Hosea Williams, World War II Army veteran and civil rights activist, rallies demonstrators in Selma, Ala. 1965.
AP Photo

The veterans who had been abroad electrified and energized the larger struggle to make America live up to its promise of democracy and justice. They joined the NAACP in record numbers and founded new chapters of that organization in the South, despite a wave of violence against returning veterans. The veterans of World War II and the Korean War became the foot soldiers of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Medgar Evers, Amzie Moore, Hosea Williams and Aaron Henry are some of the better-known names, but countless others helped advance the struggle.

About one-third of the leaders in the civil rights movement were veterans of World War II.

They fought for a better America in the streets of the South, at their workplaces in the North, as leaders in the NAACP, as plaintiffs before the Supreme Court and also within the U.S. military to make it a more inclusive institution. They were also the men of the hour at the 1963 March on Washington, when their military training and expertise was crucial to ensure that the day would not be marred by agitators opposed to civil rights.

“We structured the March on Washington like an army formation,” recalled veteran Joe Hairston.

For these veterans, the 2009 and 2013 inaugurations of President Barack Obama were triumphant moments in their long struggle for a better America and a more just world. Many never thought they would live to see the day that an African-American would lead their country.

To learn more about the contributions of African-American GIs, visit “The Civil Rights Struggle, African-American GIs, and Germany” digital archive.

The ConversationMaria Höhn, Professor and Chair of History, Vassar College

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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This Artist Absolutely Nailed It With His Comics About Anxiety

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2017/02/03/anxiety-comics_n_14630966.html

Life with anxiety or depression can feel like a constant struggle. And experts recommend drawing or writing as a healing way to express symptoms when talking just doesn’t seem to summarize them properly.

Enter these comics from artist Sow Ay, a reminder that no matter how scary anxiety feels, you aren’t alone.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

This Artist Absolutely Nailed It With His Comics About Anxiety

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2017/02/03/anxiety-comics_n_14630966.html

Life with anxiety or depression can feel like a constant struggle. And experts recommend drawing or writing as a healing way to express symptoms when talking just doesn’t seem to summarize them properly.

Enter these comics from artist Sow Ay, a reminder that no matter how scary anxiety feels, you aren’t alone.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

When Life Is In The Hands Of Human Traffickers / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez


Terminal 3 in Jose Marti International Airport in Havana (14ymedio)

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 4 February 2017 – The wifi signal barely crosses the glass. The wireless network at José Martí International Airport only covers the boarding area. But a woman presses her whole body against the opaque window that separates the travelers’ area to communicate with human traffickers who are holding her daughter in Mexico.

For half any hour the lady reveals her despair. “I don’t have that much money, if I had it I would send it right now,” she prays through IMO. The videochat is cut several times by the poor quality of the connection On the other side, the voice of a man repeats, without backing off, “Three hundred dollars so she can return on Tuesday.”

The woman wipes her tears and unsuccessfully asks for a reduction. Nearby, a maid who cleans the bathroom passes by, idly dragging a cart with cleaning supplies. A customs official walks by, absorbed, and pretends he is not listening to the disturbing request projected from the screen of the phone, “Don’t kill her, don’t kill her.”

The scene happens in a place crowded with people, most of whom are passengers about to board a transatlantic flight, or a new commercial route to the United States, and there are also the family members and friends who have come to see them off. No one shows any sign of hearing the drama developing a few feet away.

A tourist tosses back a beer just as the woman is asking the man for half an hour to “collect the money.” She starts the race against the clock. She calls several contacts from her IMO address book, but the first four, at least, don’t answer. On the fifth try, a shrill voice on the other end says, “Hello.”

“I need a huge favor, you can’t say no,” the lady stammers. But the head that can be seen on the screen shakes from side to side. “Are you crazy? And if after you pay this money they don’t let her go?” asks the voice. The tension makes the hand holding the phone start to tremble and her granddaughter, who has accompanied her, helps her hold on to it.

Several more calls and the money is not forthcoming. Finally a serious voice says yes, he can lend the money if the woman will pay it back “in two installments” to his sister in Havana. The mother agrees, promises she can “repay every cent,” although it sounds like a formula to get out of a bind. The man believes her.

Now they must arrange the details. The victim doesn’t have a bank account but the mother will send information about “how to send the money.” This is how the kidnappers get paid. Only then will they allow her to fly from Cancun to Havana, or at least that is what they promise.

In the middle of last year the Mexican authorities shut down a network trafficking in undocumented people from Cuba that operated in this tourist area in the Mexican state of Qunitana Roo. The end of the “wet foot/dry foot” policy this January has left many migrants in the hands of the coyotes, who don’t hesitate to turn to extortion to make up for the reduction in the flow of Cubans and, as a result, their loss of earnings.

The wifi signal is lost altogether, but the mother is feeling relieved. “She was in a large group, about 20 people,” she tells her granddaughter. A simple calculation allows us to know how much the captors will earn on “freeing” all those they are holding.

Nothing ends with the delivery of the money. “She is going to want to go again,” concludes the mother, the instant she hangs up from the last videochat. “I can’t stand it here, I can’t” she repeats, while walking toward the escalator filled with smiling and tanned tourists.

2014-11-04-14ymediobestlogo.jpg
14ymedio, Cuba’s first independent daily digital news outlet, published directly from the island, is available in Spanish here. Translations of selected articles in English are here.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yoani-sanchez/when-life-is-in-the-hands_b_14620542.html
a href=”http://translatingcuba.com/when-life-is-in-the-hands-of-human-traffickers-14ymedio-yoani-sanchez/terminal-aeropuerto-internacional-marti-habana_cymima20161221_0005_13-2/” rel=”attachment wp-att-52010″>
Terminal 3 in Jose Marti International Airport in Havana (14ymedio)

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 4 February 2017 – The wifi signal barely crosses the glass. The wireless network at José Martí International Airport only covers the boarding area. But a woman presses her whole body against the opaque window that separates the travelers’ area to communicate with human traffickers who are holding her daughter in Mexico.

For half any hour the lady reveals her despair. “I don’t have that much money, if I had it I would send it right now,” she prays through IMO. The videochat is cut several times by the poor quality of the connection On the other side, the voice of a man repeats, without backing off, “Three hundred dollars so she can return on Tuesday.”

The woman wipes her tears and unsuccessfully asks for a reduction. Nearby, a maid who cleans the bathroom passes by, idly dragging a cart with cleaning supplies. A customs official walks by, absorbed, and pretends he is not listening to the disturbing request projected from the screen of the phone, “Don’t kill her, don’t kill her.”

The scene happens in a place crowded with people, most of whom are passengers about to board a transatlantic flight, or a new commercial route to the United States, and there are also the family members and friends who have come to see them off. No one shows any sign of hearing the drama developing a few feet away.

A tourist tosses back a beer just as the woman is asking the man for half an hour to “collect the money.” She starts the race against the clock. She calls several contacts from her IMO address book, but the first four, at least, don’t answer. On the fifth try, a shrill voice on the other end says, “Hello.”

“I need a huge favor, you can’t say no,” the lady stammers. But the head that can be seen on the screen shakes from side to side. “Are you crazy? And if after you pay this money they don’t let her go?” asks the voice. The tension makes the hand holding the phone start to tremble and her granddaughter, who has accompanied her, helps her hold on to it.

Several more calls and the money is not forthcoming. Finally a serious voice says yes, he can lend the money if the woman will pay it back “in two installments” to his sister in Havana. The mother agrees, promises she can “repay every cent,” although it sounds like a formula to get out of a bind. The man believes her.

Now they must arrange the details. The victim doesn’t have a bank account but the mother will send information about “how to send the money.” This is how the kidnappers get paid. Only then will they allow her to fly from Cancun to Havana, or at least that is what they promise.

In the middle of last year the Mexican authorities shut down a network trafficking in undocumented people from Cuba that operated in this tourist area in the Mexican state of Qunitana Roo. The end of the “wet foot/dry foot” policy this January has left many migrants in the hands of the coyotes, who don’t hesitate to turn to extortion to make up for the reduction in the flow of Cubans and, as a result, their loss of earnings.

The wifi signal is lost altogether, but the mother is feeling relieved. “She was in a large group, about 20 people,” she tells her granddaughter. A simple calculation allows us to know how much the captors will earn on “freeing” all those they are holding.

Nothing ends with the delivery of the money. “She is going to want to go again,” concludes the mother, the instant she hangs up from the last videochat. “I can’t stand it here, I can’t” she repeats, while walking toward the escalator filled with smiling and tanned tourists.

2014-11-04-14ymediobestlogo.jpg
14ymedio, Cuba’s first independent daily digital news outlet, published directly from the island, is available in Spanish here. Translations of selected articles in English are here.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Doctors Remove Live Squirming Cockroach From Woman’s Skull

A woman in eastern India woke up one day this week to a nightmarish sensation: the feeling that a bug had crawled up her nose.

The 42-year-old woman, a Chennai resident identified only as Selvi, made her son-in-law take her to a medical clinic Tuesday morning so doctors could examine her.

“I could not explain the feeling, but I was sure it was some insect,” she told The New Indian Express. “There was a tingling, crawling sensation. Whenever it moved, it gave me a burning sensation in my eyes.”

Clinic doctors sent her to Stanley Medical College Hospital, where doctors found a live cockroach nestled against the woman’s skull between her eyes. The insect was resting close to the brain, according to the Deccan Chronicle.

Dr. M. N. Shankar said he was amazed by the bugged-out discovery.

“It is rare to find a foreign body in the nose (unlike the ear) and here it’s an adult’s nose ― and that too, a live cockroach,” Shankar told the paper.

Doctors tried to remove the roach with vacuum suction, but it was too big. They finally snagged it with the aid of a nasal endoscope. The patient is reportedly feeling better.

Doctors said that if Selvi had ignored the scratchy sensation, the insect eventually would have died, causing an infection close to her brain that may have been fatal, according to South West News Service.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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div class=”embed-asset embed” data-type=”embed-asset” data-provider=”Embed” data-title=””>

A woman in eastern India woke up one day this week to a nightmarish sensation: the feeling that a bug had crawled up her nose.

The 42-year-old woman, a Chennai resident identified only as Selvi, made her son-in-law take her to a medical clinic Tuesday morning so doctors could examine her.

“I could not explain the feeling, but I was sure it was some insect,” she told The New Indian Express. “There was a tingling, crawling sensation. Whenever it moved, it gave me a burning sensation in my eyes.”

Clinic doctors sent her to Stanley Medical College Hospital, where doctors found a live cockroach nestled against the woman’s skull between her eyes. The insect was resting close to the brain, according to the Deccan Chronicle.

Dr. M. N. Shankar said he was amazed by the bugged-out discovery.

“It is rare to find a foreign body in the nose (unlike the ear) and here it’s an adult’s nose ― and that too, a live cockroach,” Shankar told the paper.

Doctors tried to remove the roach with vacuum suction, but it was too big. They finally snagged it with the aid of a nasal endoscope. The patient is reportedly feeling better.

Doctors said that if Selvi had ignored the scratchy sensation, the insect eventually would have died, causing an infection close to her brain that may have been fatal, according to South West News Service.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.