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April 28 2016 11:01 PM

Suspicious White Powder Mailed to Trump Campaign Office

An envelope containing white powder was mailed to the Trump presidential campaign office in the Trump Tower Thursday. A Trump staffer opened the letter and informed authorities, according to police. Emergency medical crews responded around 8 p.m. to the call, evacuating six people, five of whom were Trump campaign staff, according to the Associated Press. The rest of the building was not evacuated. Trump was in California campaigning at the time.

April 28 2016 10:09 PM

Top NFL Prospect’s Draft Stock Plummets Thanks to Inopportune Bong-Smoking Video

NFL Draft night was supposed to be the best day of Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil’s young life. The 21-year-old was projected to go as high as the top five on Thursday night before disaster struck. But just minutes before the draft was set to begin, a video tweeted out from Tunsil’s own account showed him wearing a gas mask connected to a bong.

Deadspin reports that the video had been shopped around previously, presumably to media outlets, by an unknown source. Tunsil’s agent Jimmy Sexton told ESPN, “It is BS. Somebody hacked into his account.”

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Nevertheless, ESPN’s Jon Gruden blamed Tunsil for the Twitter indiscretion, saying “this whole social media scene makes me sick.”

It’s worth noting that Tunsil has been embroiled in a nasty family legal battle. The Clarion-Ledger reports:

A lawsuit filed late Tuesday afternoon at the Lafayette County Courthouse by Starkville attorney Matthew Wilson of behalf of Miller alleges that Tunsil attacked Miller last June and that Tunsil defamed Miller’s character. The lawsuit alleges these two things were an “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Tunsil was ultimately selected by the Miami Dolphins with the No. 13 pick in the first round.

April 28 2016 8:40 PM

New York Times CEO Sued for Allegedly Promoting Age, Gender, and Racial Discrimination

The chief executive of the New York Times was hit with a multimillion-dollar class-action workplace-discrimination lawsuit on Thursday alleging that he cultivated a culture of discrimination in the paper’s advertising department based on race, gender, and age. The suit was filed in New York by two black female employees in their 60s, according to the Guardian, and accuses CEO Mark Thompson of encouraging the ad department to progressively get younger and whiter during his tenure, which began in 2012 after he joined the paper following a controversial rein as director-general of the BBC where he faced similar allegations.

From the Guardian:

The class action lawsuit, seen by the Guardian, alleges that the Times, which promotes its liberal and inclusive social values, preferentially favours its “ideal staffer (young, white, unencumbered with a family)” at the expense of older female and black employees. “Unbeknownst to the world at large, not only does the Times have an ideal customer (young, white, wealthy), but also an ideal staffer (young, white, unencumbered with a family) to draw that purported ideal customer,” the lawsuit, which the women’s lawyer said could be extended to up to 50 similar alleged victims, states … Thompson is said to have hired Meredith Levien, the company’s chief revenue officer and a co-defendant, to “carry out his vision of the ideal workforce”. The lawsuit claims that under Thompson, who was paid $8.7m (£6m) last year, and Levien, who was paid $1.8m (£1.2m), “age, sex and race discrimination became the modus operandi at the Times”. In speeches to staff, Levien is said to have made it clear that she wanted a workforce with “fresh faces” populated by “people who look like the people we are selling to”. She is alleged to have told staff that “this isn’t what our sales team should look like”. The advertising staff, many of whom are older, black and female, said Levien’s comments were “shockingly rife with racially charged innuendos”.
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A spokesperson for the Times denied the allegations saying: “This lawsuit contains a series of recycled, scurrilous and unjustified attacks on both Mark Thompson and Meredith Levien. It also completely distorts the realities of the work environment at The New York Times.”

April 28 2016 6:32 PM

The Thursday Slatest Newsletter

Today's biggest stories:

Have a good night out there.

April 28 2016 6:13 PM

Today's Trump Apocalypse Watch: The Coveted Bobby Knight Nuclear Death Endorsement

The Trump Apocalypse Watch is a subjective daily estimate, using a scale of one to four horsemen, of how likely it is that Donald Trump will be elected president, thus triggering an apocalypse in which we all die.

Not much doing with Trump today except for the uniformly bad reception his foreign-policy speech got, even from macho conservative outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the National Review. I also found a general election poll that put Hillary Clinton ahead of Trump by 11 points, slightly assuaging the panic I felt yesterday after seeing the George Washington poll that had him only trailing by 3 percent.

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Trump also continued to campaign in Indiana with notoriously ill-tempered basketball coach Bobby Knight, who said today that one of the things he likes about Trump is that Trump would have no problem ordering the deployment of nuclear weapons.

Bobby Knight saying he appreciates how close Trump keeps his finger to the nuclear death button is probably not the kind of endorsement that is going to help convince independent voters that he has the demeanor and judgment they're looking for in a president. Ironically, in fact, Knight's statement (along with the lack of enthusiasm for Trump's foreign-policy speech) has convinced me to lower today's Apocalypse Watch danger level back down to two horsemen.

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Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons

April 28 2016 5:30 PM

Bobby Knight Praises Donald Trump for Being Willing to Start a Nuclear War

Here's what Bobby Knight had to say today in Evansville, Indiana about Donald Trump's qualifications to be president and the question of whether his demeanor is "presidential" enough:

"We gotta talk about this presidential crap just for a moment here. I'll tell you who they said wasn't presidential. I don't even know what the hell presidential means, but they told him he wasn't presidential. And that guy they told all these people that wanted to say, you're not presidential, that guy was Harry Truman.
"And Harry Truman, with what he did in dropping and having the guts to drop the bomb in 1944 saved, saved millions of American lives. And that's what Harry Truman did. And he became one of the three great presidents of the United States. And here's a man who would do the same thing, because he's going to become one of the four great presidents of the United States."
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When Harry Truman "became one of the three great presidents of the United States" (?!?) by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States was the only country that had nuclear weapons. Now at least nine countries have them, a list which includes Russia, China, Pakistan (!), and North Korea (!!FML!!!!1). There is not any nation-state with which the U.S. could conceivably be engaged in large-scale, existentially threatening conventional warfare (as we were with Japan) that we could drop a nuclear weapon on without inducing an instant retaliatory strike that could possibly itself lead to the end of all life on Earth. Meanwhile, the members of groups like ISIS and al-Qaida are intentionally dispersed across the world among civilian populations so that we can't induce their surrender by vaporizing some particular location with a hydrogen bomb.

It's possible that we should not take Bobby Knight's advice about nuclear warfare.

April 28 2016 4:50 PM

Kenyan Socialist President Once Again Betrays Secret Admiration for Capitalism

The New York Times Magazine has published a long article derived from several interviews with President Obama about the U.S. economy and his handling thereof. It's a smart, clear overview of what has gone right economically during Obama's term and what might have gone better, and you're encouraged to read the whole thing. Specifically, though, I'd like to highlight one comment the president made to writer Andrew Ross Sorkin:

Often in our conversations, the president expressed a surprising degree of identification with America’s business leaders. “If I hadn’t gone into politics and public service,” Obama told me, “the challenges of creating a business and growing a business and making it work would probably be the thing that was most interesting to me.”
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Now, it has been a well-known fact since the time of his 2008 campaign against John McCain that Hussein "Barack" Obama is a socialist who is trying to turn our country into the 1930s-era Soviet Union. (A Georgia Republican actually bragged in 2013 about being "the first Member of Congress to call [Obama] a socialist who embraces Marxist-Leninist policies.") Obama hates businesses and wants them to suffer, so it's strange that he would express an interest in starting one, right? It reminded me of another weird riff the president went on in a reflective recent interview, namely one that he did with the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg about foreign policy. Said Obama while discussing the broader context of the war on terror:

“Right now, I don’t think that anybody can be feeling good about the situation in the Middle East,” he said. “You have countries that are failing to provide prosperity and opportunity for their people. You’ve got a violent, extremist ideology, or ideologies, that are turbocharged through social media. You’ve got countries that have very few civic traditions, so that as autocratic regimes start fraying, the only organizing principles are sectarian.”
He went on, “Contrast that with Southeast Asia, which still has huge problems—enormous poverty, corruption—but is filled with striving, ambitious, energetic people who are every single day scratching and clawing to build businesses and get education and find jobs and build infrastructure. The contrast is pretty stark.”

Obama continued on this theme, contradicting his core Communist principles by speaking as if the incentives of capitalism can be among the building blocks of a just and humane society: 

In Asia, as well as in Latin America and Africa, Obama says, he sees young people yearning for self-improvement, modernity, education, and material wealth.
“They are not thinking about how to kill Americans,” he says. “What they’re thinking about is How do I get a better education? How do I create something of value?

Truly, the more that our outgoing president talks about his legacy and his worldview at length, the more one gets the sense that he might not be a heavily indoctrinated Communist sleeper agent who was planted in the White House by Bill Ayers and the Black Panthers in order to destroy the American way of life.

April 28 2016 3:19 PM

Here’s the Punishment for Those Involved in the Doctors Without Borders Airstrike

Sixteen American service members have been disciplined for their roles in last October’s deadly airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan, but there will be no criminal prosecutions for what the military has said was an accidental attack. The Los Angeles Times reported the news after another Doctors Without Borders hospital, this time in Syria, was struck on Wednesday, killing at least 14 people.

Rebel groups were blaming the military of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad for Wednesday’s attack in Aleppo, the latest horrible day for the Nobel Peace Prize–winning organization.

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The Oct. 3 bombing by American forces in Kunduz, Afghanistan, resulted in the deaths of “24 patients, 14 staff members and four caretakers,” reported the L.A. Times. “Some patients burned to death in their beds,” the newspaper noted.

Defense officials told NBC News that a redacted version of the Pentagon’s report from the sixth-month investigation into the attack would be released on Friday.

Here’s more from the L.A. Times story, which is well worth the read:

The 16 found at fault include a two-star general, the crew of an Air Force AC-130 attack aircraft, and Army special forces personnel, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal investigation.
One officer was suspended from command and ordered out of Afghanistan. The other 15 were given lesser punishments: Six were sent to counseling, seven were issued letters of reprimand, and two were ordered to retraining courses.

Doctors Without Borders has alleged that the attack was a war crime. As my colleague Joshua Keating wrote at the time:

Whether or not the U.S. airstrike … was a violation of international humanitarian law depends in large part on whether the military knew the site was a hospital, and if not, whether military officials took adequate steps to figure out what they were bombing.

In a pre-Thanksgiving news dump, the since-retired commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John F. Campbell, said the cause of the tragedy was “avoidable human error, compounded by process and equipment failures.” CNN reported at the time that the Pentagon’s investigation had concluded “that the facility was misidentified as a target by U.S. personnel who believed they were striking a nearby building where there were reports of insurgents taking shelter.”

Some of the personnel involved had been suspended at that time, and the L.A. Times reports that Campbell, who retired last month, said that he and U.S. Special Operations Command would be making the decision whether or not any prosecutions were warranted. Apparently, they’ve decided none are, according to the L.A. Times' reporting.

The attack on the hospital last fall came after the city of Kunduz fell briefly to the Taliban in an embarrassing blow for that country's military and NATO forces. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the Taliban have spent this month launching dozens of attacks on police outposts in Kunduz, but that the main checkpoints have held firm this time in what the agency described as a signal that the security situation has improved there. 

April 28 2016 1:21 PM

Older Brother of San Bernardino Shooter Arrested in Alleged Marriage-Fraud Scheme

Syed Raheel Farook, the older brother of San Bernardino, California, shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, has been arrested after an FBI search of his home in California and charged with involvement in an alleged marriage/immigration-fraud scheme involving his Russian wife, her sister, and a man who bought weapons used in the terror attack carried out by Farook's brother and his brother's wife on Dec. 2, 2015. The elder Farook's wife and her sister were also arrested. From the Los Angeles Times:

The official, who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the case with the media, said the arrests were not directly related to the investigation of the Dec. 2 terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center ... FBI agents have executed three search warrants at Raheel Farook's home since Dec. 2.
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Syed Raheel Farook is a decorated Navy veteran who is married to a woman named Tatiana Chernykh. Tatiana Chernykh's sister Mariya is married to a man named Enrique Marquez. Marquez, a friend of the younger Farook who is accused of buying weapons used in the Inland Regional Center attack in San Bernardino, has already been charged with fraud for allegedly taking money to marry Mariya for immigration purposes, and a statement issued by authorities says the three people arrested Thursday have been charged by a federal grand jury with "making false statements under oath for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits for one of the defendants." Marquez reportedly told acquaintances that his marriage to Mariya Chernykh was "fake" and "just for the papers."

Syed Rizwan Farook—Raheel Farook's younger brother—and his wife Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people in what seems to have been a lone-wolf jihadist terror attack at the Inland center in San Bernardino, Farook's workplace. They were both killed later that day in a shootout with law enforcement authorities.

April 28 2016 11:28 AM

A Small Sampling of the Reviews of Trump’s Hot Mess of a Speech  

Donald Trump delivered what his campaign billed as a major foreign policy address on Wednesday, which in reality was little more than a thinly veiled attempt to trick pundits and political journalists into seeing the GOP front-runner in a more “presidential” light. And since only a sliver of the chattering class was duped, Trump took to Twitter on Thursday morning to try again to gaslight the rest of the media.

Wonderful, you say? Here are some choice snippets from a few prominent reviews that must not have made it to Trump’s desk.

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Wall Street Journal (editorial):

The 5,000-word speech lacked specifics by normal political standards, if not his own. … For prepared remarks, or for that matter even an after-dinner talk, Mr. Trump’s speech was especially rife with contradictions. … Mr. Trump isn’t known for close readings of his briefing books, if such documents exist, and deep policy knowledge is obviously not the source of his political appeal. But Americans typically prefer Presidents who are conversant about the world’s biggest problems beyond a sound bite or two….

New York Times (editorial):

No one’s fears are likely to be allayed by this speech, which was clearly worked up by his new campaign advisers and read from a teleprompter. It did not exhibit much grasp of the complexity of the world, understanding of the balance or exercise of power, or even a careful reading of history.
Alas [Trump’s] description of statecraft as a series of deals, brokered in eyeball-to-eyeball negotiations with foreign powers, bears no resemblance to real diplomacy. … When it came to weighing the costs and benefits of dealing with foreign powers, the businessman portrayed a zero-sum world in which profitable trade for another country is always at the expense of America. Yet when it came to describing how he would govern America, he imagined a win-win world without trade-offs: thus he suggested that he would “spend what we need to rebuild our military” but quickly offered the assurance that “we will look for savings and spend our money wisely… not one dollar can be wasted."
This was, I repeat, a prepared speech, not some rambling remarks by a candidate in over his head. I don’t know who wrote it, but it seems to confirm rumors that no prominent Republican national-security advisers are assisting Trump’s campaign. Clearly this is the speech of an unserious man who hasn’t read up on the issues or thought through his own instincts. The dangerous thing is not so much that he knows nothing about foreign policy; it’s that he doesn’t know just how much he doesn’t know.
[The] speech conveyed no comprehension of what caused ISIS to rise — of where it came from (al-Qaeda), of what drives it ideologically (sharia supremacism), or of the fact that it is just a subset of a much bigger challenge. Trump merely continued to do what populists do: He told you the people you love to hate are incoherent and incompetent. He never mentions that he was with them all the way, and never offers a reason to think he is any more coherent and competent — just more shallow.

Fittingly, Trump’s review of the reaction to his speech made about as much sense as the speech itself.

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