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Aug. 30 2015 9:09 AM

Carson Emerges as Trump’s Biggest Iowa Competitor, Sanders Closes in on Clinton

Support for Donald Trump has surged in Iowa over the past few months, soaring to a comfortable first place with the backing of 23 percent of likely Republican caucus participants, according to the latest Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa poll. That marks quite a boost from the four-percent support that the real estate magnate received in May. But retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson isn’t far behind, receiving the support from 18 percent of likely caucus participants. And, significantly, when first and second choices are added together Carson and Trump are tied at 32 percent. All the other candidates have single-digit support with Ted Cruz and Scott Walker tied at eight percent and Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio at six percent.

Although Carson may be five points behind Trump, he has him beat in the favorability rating with 79 percent saying they view him favorably while only eight percent have negative feelings about him. Trump’s favorability rating, however, is nothing to sneer at with 61 percent seeing him positively and 35 percent negatively. That is quite a contrast from the May poll that showed 63 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers viewing the real estate magnate negatively.

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"Wow," Kedron Bardwell, a political science professor at Simpson College, tells the Des Moines Register. "This poll will have Republican consultants shaking heads in bewilderment. Not since 1992 has anti-establishment sentiment been this strong."

Five months from the Iowa caucuses, the anti-establishment sentiment that many had predicted would pass appears to be getting stronger. That could be significant if it pushes more people to attend the caucus, which is a key part of Trump’s campaign strategy.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has also seen his support increase in the past few months and he is now within seven points of Hillary Clinton. While Clinton retains the lead with the backing of 37 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers, 30 percent say they would pick Sanders. It was the first time Clinton fell below the 50-percent mark in the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa poll. Vice President Joe Biden, who has not announced his candidacy, would receive 14 percent support in the caucus, according to the poll. Without Biden as a choice, Clinton’s support rises slightly to 43 percent.

"These numbers would suggest that she can be beaten," said Steve McMahon, a Virginia-based Democratic strategist.

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Aug. 29 2015 10:35 PM

Chris Christie: Let’s Track Immigrants Like FedEx Packages

One of the few Republican presidential hopefuls who hadn't been espousing crazy ideas about immigration apparently did not want to get left behind. At a campaign stop in New Hampshire, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that if he were president, he would track immigrants like Federal Express packages. "You go online and at any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is. It’s on the truck. It’s at the station. It’s on the airplane," Christie said at a town hall even in Laconia, N.H. on Saturday. "Yet we let people come to this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them.”

"So here’s what I’m going to do as president: I’m going to ask Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, to come work for the government for three months, just come for three months to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and show these people." Smith is the father of Christie spokeswoman Samantha Smith, notes CNN.

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Christie apparently wants to create a massive surveillance system in order to do this so that the government knows exactly where every immigrant is all the time. "We need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in and then when your time is up … however long your visa is, then we go get you and tap you on the shoulder and say, 'Excuse me, thanks for coming, it's time to go.'"

The United States issued 9,932,480 nonimmigrant visas last year, according to the State Department.

Christie had been taking a rather moderate stance on immigration and has not endorsed building a fence or wall along the border. Yet this latest remark “shows again how serious the Republican field of presidential contenders is about catching up to billionaire Donald Trump, whose campaign has been built in part on such tough talk,” notes the Washington Post.

Aug. 29 2015 4:27 PM

Egypt Sentences Al Jazeera Journalists to Three Years in Prison

An Egyptian judge handed out what the New York Times characterizes as “unexpectedly harsh verdicts” against three journalists working for the Al Jazeera English news network by sentencing each of them to three years in prison. International rights groups immediately criticized the verdict that sentenced the journalists for operating without a press license and broadcasting “false news.” The verdict came as a surprise because Egyptian government officials had made it clear they did not like that the trial was going on because it had brought about so much international scrutiny on the country and its leaders.

Everyone expected that the retrial against Mohamed Fahmy, a naturalized Canadian, Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian, and Peter Greste, an Australian who was deported earlier this year, was going to end the ordeal that the men had been facing since they were first arrested in December 2013. The judge, however, said that the defendants "are not journalists and not members of the press syndicate" and used unlicensed equipment to carry out their broadcasts, reports Reuters. Three Egyptians students also received the same sentence.

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"It took a moment to sink in," Greste told the BBC in Australia shortly after the verdict was released. "It was disbelief, I guess. To be sentenced to three years in prison is just devastating. It is outrageous. It is so wrong on so many levels."

Amal Clooney, Fahmy’s lawyer who appeared in the courtroom for the first time on Saturday, said the verdict “sends a message that journalists can be locked up for simply doing their job, for telling the truth and reporting the news,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Amnesty International also condemned the verdict saying it was the result of “farcical” proceedings.

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Al-Jazeera journalists, Canadian Mohamed Fahmy (R) and Egyptian Baher Mohamed (C), both accused of supporting the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood in their coverage for the Qatari-owned broadcaster, sit in the defendants' cage during their trial in the capital Cairo on August 29, 2015.

Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

"Today's verdict defies logic and common sense,” said Al Jazeera Media Network's Acting Director General Dr Mostefa Souag. "Today's verdict is yet another deliberate attack on press freedom. It is a dark day for the Egyptian judiciary; rather than defend liberties and a free and fair media, they have compromised their independence for political reasons." The verdict will be appealed and the journalists are still holding out hope there could be a presidential pardon.

Even as Al Jazeera vows to do everything in its power to release the journalists, the network has also come under fire for the ordeal. In a June New York Times op-ed Fahmy accused the network of using the journalists as “unwitting pawns in Qatar’s geopolitical game.” He has filed a $100-million lawsuit against the network, accusing it of disregarding the safety of its employees.

Aug. 29 2015 1:41 PM

Sheriff’s Deputy Murdered in “Execution-Style Killing” While Pumping Gas in Houston Area

Law enforcement agents are interviewing a person of interest in the killing of a uniformed sheriff’s deputy from the Houston area. Darren Goforth, 47, was apparently gunned down out of the blue at a gas station on Friday night shortly after working at a routine car accident, reports the Houston Chronicle. No charges have been filed yet against the person of interest, who was apparently turned in by his own mother.

Witnesses say the gunman approached Goforth from behind and shot him multiple times in the back, continuing to unload his weapon into the officer after he had fallen to the ground, reports USA Today. "It appears to be an unprovoked, execution-style killing of a police officer," Sheriff Ron Hickman said. “In my 45 years in law enforcement, I can't recall another incident so cold-blooded and cowardly.”

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A memorial sprang up on Saturday morning at the Chevron station where Goforth was gunned down as people took balloons, flowers, candles and notes to the area. Although the gas station reopened after the incident, the pump Goforth was using when he was killed remained closed, reports the Associated Press.

Aug. 29 2015 12:21 PM

Trump: Women (Who Love Their Husbands) Can’t be Trusted to Keep National Security Secrets

Donald Trump was at it again last night at a fundraising event, where he took aim at everyone from Jeb Bush to Hillary Clinton. He also found a new target: Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her husband Anthony Weiner. Speaking to a boisterous audience that was eager to clap and cheer everything the real estate magnate said, Trump called Weiner a “perv” and made fun of the sexting scandal that ended his political career using some weird hand gestures. All that seemed par for the course for Trump. But what appeared to be (yet another) new low for the most popular Republican presidential hopeful was the implication that a woman can’t be trusted to keep national security secrets if she is married and loves her husband. While talking about Abedin's access to Clinton's emails he said:

“If you think that Huma isn’t telling Anthony—who she’s probably desperately in love with in all fairness to Anthony because why else would she marry this guy? Can you believe it? Can’t see straight—Look, think of it, it’s coming through Huma, she’s got lots of stuff, lots of information and she’s married to a bad guy. … Do you think there’s even a five percent chance that she’s not telling Anthony Weiner—now of a public relations firm—what the hell is coming across? Do you think there’s even a little bit of a chance? I don’t think so…”
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Trump then goes for the gold:

“Are there any women in this room who are in love with their husbands who wouldn’t be telling them everything?”

Lest you think this was an off-the-cuff remark taken out of context, Trump defended his attacks on Abedin and Weiner, reiterating to NBC News that she shouldn’t have access to confidential information. "I don't think she should have been part of the people receiving it, whether it's confidential, why would she be involved?" he said.

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill defended Abedin. writing on Twitter that Trump “should be ashamed of himself” because “there is no place for patently false, personal attacks against a staff member.”

Trump donated $2,000 to Weiner in 2010, according to the Washington Post.

Aug. 29 2015 8:12 AM

Week in Photos

Revelers throw tomato pulp at each other during the annual tomatina festivities in the village of Bunol, near Valencia, Spain, on Aug. 26, 2015. Some 22,000 revelers hurled 150 tons of squashed tomatoes at each other, drenching the streets in red, in a gigantic Spanish food fight marking the 70th annual battle.

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Photo by David Gray/Reuters

Zhang Honglin of China reacts after pulling up during the men’s 110-meter hurdles heats at the IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing on Aug. 26, 2015.

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Photo by Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/AFP/Getty Images

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A rising sun illuminates the landscape on Aug. 22, 2015, near Bernbeuren, Germany.

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Photo by Max Whittaker/Reuters

Fulton Hotshot Michael Turowski lights a controlled burn on the so-called Rough Fire in the Sequoia National Forest, California, on Aug. 21, 2015. In California, suffering its worst drought on record, about 2,500 people were forced to flee Christian camps east of Fresno at Hume Lake as the  Rough Fire crossed Highway 180, officials said.

ATHLETICS-WORLD/BOLT

Photo by China Stringer Network/Reuters

Usain Bolt of Jamaica falls after being hit by a cameraman on a Segway as he celebrates after winning the men’s 200 meters final during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing on Aug. 27, 2015.

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Photo by China Stringer Network/Reuters

Giant panda cubs rest inside baskets during their debut appearance to visitors at a giant panda breeding centre in Ya’an, Sichuan province, China, on Aug. 21, 2015.

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Photo by Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP/Getty Images

Pickers work in the Moulin a Vent vineyard, near Chenas, Beaujolais, in eastern France, early on Aug. 26, 2015, during this year’s first Beaujolais harvest. Traditionally, grapes are harvested at the end of the night, when the temperatures are lower, to produce a “fruity and tender” wine.

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Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

Syrian migrants travel on a bus after arriving on a ferry carrying about 2,500 migrants from the Greek islands in the main port of Piraeus on Aug. 26, 2015, in Athens.

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Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

A man crosses a street as a partially completed mural of Pope Francis is seen on the wall of a high-rise building in New York on Aug. 28, 2015. Francis will visit the U.S. Sept. 22 to 27, stopping in Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia.

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Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

People dance in the Cats Meow bar in the French Quarter on Aug. 27, 2015, in New Orleans. Tourists have returned as the town prepares to honor the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1,836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, on Aug. 29.

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Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Performers dance during the Opening Ceremony for the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on Aug. 22, 2015. 

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Photo by James Akena/Reuters

Sole Hope Executive Director Dru Collie speaks with children seated in a circle as they wear their new shoes soon after undergoing jigger removal and treatment in Kalebera village, Jinja district, eastern Uganda, on Aug. 6, 2015. The problem of jigger parasites, female sand fleas that burrow their way under skin, is widespread in the eastern, northern, and northeastern parts of Uganda. Left untreated, the parasite can lead to secondary infections that can be fatal. Encouraging people to cover their feet is part of the battle against the parasite; treatment includes a free pair of shoes, as very few of those affected are able to afford even sandals. 

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Photo by Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images

Supporters of the hardline faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Confrence clash with Indian police during a protest following the house arrest of APHC leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, in Srinagar on Aug. 23, 2015. Geelani was placed under house arrest shortly before attempting to leave his residence to address a seminar organized by the APHC.  Police used tear gas shells and water cannons to disperse hundreds of supporters protesting Geelani’s arrest.

USA-KATRINA/ANNIVERSARY

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

Depleted wetlands are seen on the edge of St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, on Aug. 25, 2015.

Aug. 28 2015 5:58 PM

Japanese Porn Actress Will Appear in "Angel" and "Devil" Poses on Taiwan Metro Cards

I don't have anything to say about this story except that I promise I did not make it up. From the BBC:

Taiwan's capital is to introduce a pre-paid public transport card featuring the Japanese porn actress Yui Hatano, despite an outcry over using her image ... the firm said (in Chinese) it would go ahead with the planned release of the "devil" edition of the cards, which feature Ms Hatano dressed in black and looking sultry.
An "angel" edition of the card is expected to be released in mid-September after a re-design and "input from various parties", the company said.
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Here's a SFW link to the image of the "angel" card.

Apparently Yui Hatano—and I learned this from Wikipedia, not by watching pornography—is famous in Taiwan because of her resemblance to (non-pornographic) model/actress/personality Lin Chi-ling.

Aug. 28 2015 5:42 PM

Why Hillary Is Finally Embracing the Inevitability Narrative She Tried to Avoid for So Long

Hillary Clinton spent the beginning of her campaign doing everything she could to avoid the perception that she believed her nomination was inevitable. But with Bernie Sanders continuing to draw massive crowds and the Beltway buzzing about the possibility of a late challenge from Joe Biden, Clinton’s camp is finally changing its tune.

Earlier this week, her allies gave Politico a sneak peek at the campaign's long-term primary strategy, one that includes what the outlet dubbed a “Super Tuesday firewall.” The message from Clinton-land was clear: Even if she stumbles out of the gates in Iowa or, much more likely, New Hampshire, Hillary won’t only survive, she’ll still be ready to deliver a knockout blow to Sanders by March 1, when 11 states—including delegate-rich Texas and Virginia—hold their nominating contests. “If it works,” Politico reported, “the former secretary of state will have wrapped up the party’s nomination before spring ends—with only 32 states and two territories having voted—thereby avoiding the kind of protracted battle that consumed much of 2008.”

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Clinton’s muscle-flexing continued on Friday, with her senior advisers telling Bloomberg she has already secured 440 of the roughly 700 superdelegates who will be invited to the Democratic National Convention next summer. The total number of delegates who will decide the nomination is expected to be roughly 5,000—the vast majority of which will be selected by next year’s primaries and caucuses—but the 440 figure nonetheless represents about one-fifth of the delegates Clinton will need to claim the nomination. That’s a rather significant head start for a candidate who already has massive fundraising and organizational advantages over her rivals.

As Hillary knows better than most, there’s nothing preventing a superdelegate from pledging his support today and changing his mind tomorrow—but that hasn’t stopped her camp from effectively shouting “scoreboard” with the first official nominating contest still five months away.

The campaign’s new power pose makes sense. Earlier this year, Clinton was pretending to sweat to avoid looking like she was coasting to her party’s nomination. But now that the heat is on she’s eager to look calm, cool, and collected. There are plenty of good reasons to believe she really is—her current 20-point lead in national polls chief among them—but with her email scandal continuing to dog her campaign and with Biden weighing his options, more important than being confident is looking confident. And reminding her allies and enemies of all her organizational advantages will help her do just that.

Aug. 28 2015 5:09 PM

Alabama First Lady Files for Divorce From Sitting Governor After 50 Years of Marriage

Alabama first lady Dianne Bentley has filed for divorce from Republican governor Robert Bentley after 50 years of marriage, court records indicate. The two are both 72 years old. From Al.com:

The filing cites "complete incompatibility of temperament" and states they have been separated since January. The filing also lists her address as Tuscaloosa and his as Montgomery ... The couple has continued to make public appearances together. Today, they were seen together at College Colors Day at the governor's mansion in Montgomery.
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The cause of his separation from his wife was not disclosed, though court filings indicate the couple "nearly divorced" in 1999, Al.com says.

In what seems like a considerable stretch, a Democratic lawmaker named John Rogers is arguing that Bentley needs to take a leave of absence and appoint a temporary replacement because his personal life will otherwise distract him from budget negotiations:

"He needs to step away from the legislature. He is totally conflicted," Rogers said. "He can't work with the legislature to fashion a budget ... For this (the divorce) to happen at this time is unfathomable."

Bentley was first elected in 2010 and was reelected last year. (Alabama governors are limited to two terms in office.) He does not appear to have yet commented publicly on the news.

Aug. 28 2015 4:24 PM

This Black Driver’s Mistake Was Looking a Police Officer in the Eye

John Felton was driving to his brother’s house in Dayton, Ohio, on a recent night when he noticed a police car tailing him. Not wanting to give the officer any excuse to pull him over, Felton, who is black and was visiting Dayton from Michigan, tried to drive extra carefully. But the effort was insufficient: Soon after making a turn, Felton was forced to stop his car and show the officer his driver’s license.

It turned out Felton had not switched on his turn signal at the exact right moment; as you can see from the video Felton made of the encounter and sent to talk show host David Pakman, the white officer told him he had failed to signal within 100 feet of making his turn.

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But why, Felton wanted to know, had the officer decided to follow him in the first place? That’s when the stop went from being an ordinary illustration of racial profiling to an extraordinary one.

"You made direct eye contact with me and held onto it when I was passing you," the officer told Fenton. The implication was that Fenton had marked himself as a suspicious character simply by looking at the officer.

Update, Aug. 28, 5:10 p.m.: The city of Dayton put out a statement about the incident, acknowledging that "making direct eye contact with an officer is not a basis for a traffic stop.” The statement implies—but doesn’t say outright—that in pulling Felton over for not signaling within 100 feet of a turn, the officer was complying with a Dayton police initiative called "Safe Communities Through Aggressive Traffic Enforcement,” aimed at reducing traffic-related fatalities. The statement also says that the police department "is in contact with Mr. Felton,” and that he "has agreed to a conversation with the officer, facilitated by the Dayton Mediation Center” that will "allow Mr. Felton and the Officer to discuss the specifics of the incident.”

For those who have been following the past year in race relations between police officers and black people, that will sound familiar: Making eye contact with cops was also what set off a chase in Baltimore that ended with Freddie Gray sustaining fatal injuries in the back of a van.

During a eulogy, the Rev. Jamal Bryant to say the following to Gray’s mother:

On April 12 at 8:39 in the morning, four officers on bicycles saw your son. And your son, in a subtlety of revolutionary stance, did something black men were trained to know not to do. He looked police in the eye. And when he looked the police in the eye, they knew that there was a threat, because they're used to black men with their head bowed down low, with their spirit broken. He was a threat simply because he was man enough to look somebody in authority in the eye. I want to tell this grieving mother ... you are not burying a boy, you are burying a grown man. He knew that one of the principles of being a man is looking somebody in the eye.

John Felton made it out of his encounter with the Dayton police officer with only a citation. As you can see from watching his video, he knew it could have been worse.

“No disrespect—I don’t have nothing against police officers,” Felton said after being pulled over. “But with all the shit that’s going on, that’s some scary shit, to have a police officer just trailing you.”

Not that he was surprised—you can hear him say “Didn't I say he was going to do this?” to his brother at the beginning of the interaction. Nor should he have been. According to the book Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship, a sociological study of traffic stops in the Kansas City metropolitan area, black people are much more likely to be pulled over for so-called investigatory stops—in which the purported violation is extremely minor, like failing to signal, as opposed to serious, like driving drunk—than white people. As my colleague Jamelle Bouie wrote after the murder of Walter Scott in South Carolina—following a traffic stop for a busted taillight—the study found that more than half of all stops for blacks were for minor violations, as opposed to just 34 percent of stops for whites.  

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