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Nov. 23 2017 12:59 PM

All 44 Crew Members of Missing Argentine Submarine Believed to Be Dead

After a week of searching for a missing Argentine Navy submarine off the coast of the country, the families of the 44 crew members aboard have been told that their loved ones are believed to be dead. That news came Thursday after naval officials announced they had detected a sound believed to be an explosion aboard the vessel shortly after it went missing on Nov. 15th. A spokesman described the sound as “abnormal, singular, short, violent” and "consistent with a non-nuclear explosion.”

 

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The sub was originally scheduled to arrive Monday at the Mar del Plata Navy Base, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southeast of Buenos Aires. Relatives of the crew who have gathered at the base to receive psychological counseling broke into tears and hugged each other after they received the news. Some clung to a fence crowded with blue-and-white Argentine flags, rosary beads and messages of support. Some declined to speak, while others lashed out in anger at the navy’s response… More than a dozen airplanes and ships have been participating in the multinational search despite stormy weather that has caused waves of more than 20 feet (6 meters). Search teams are combing an area of some 185,000 square miles (480,000 square kilometers), which is roughly the size of Spain.

 

The ARA San Juan submarine stopped communication mid-last week, but the search for the missing sub grew more frantic over the weekend after it had failed to make contact or surface, as would be expected if it was distressed. U.S. and British search crafts joined the effort off the east coast of Argentina, where the submarine was last heard from. “Hopes were buoyed after brief satellite calls were received and when sounds were detected deep in the South Atlantic,” according to the AP. “But experts later determined that neither was from the missing sub.”

 

 

 

Nov. 23 2017 12:24 PM

Trump Tweet, on Thanksgiving, Menacingly Singles Out Reporter for Calling Him Racist

President Trump has shown no hesitation to use the immense power of his office to badger and belittle ordinary American citizens, usually on Twitter. It is one of the most loathsome of his many contributions to the degradation of the integrity of the office he holds. On Thanksgiving, Trump took it one step farther. At 6:30 a.m., the president of the United States responded to a political journalist’s tweet sharing a story about the president and his history of targeting black men and women with his “rage-tweets” that have, this week, been directed at LaVar Ball, the outspoken father of Los Angeles Lakers rookie, Lonzo Ball.

The tweet was the only of its kind Thanksgiving morning and was in response to a story published nearly 24 hours before. The tweet by Washington Post writer Greg Sargent similarly was nearly a day old by Thursday morning. The crux of the Sargent’s post was this: “President Trump regularly goes out of his way to attack prominent African Americans not just to ‘stoke the culture wars,’ as this euphemism often has it—but, more precisely, to stoke the sense among many of his supporters that the system is unfairly rigged on behalf of minorities, and that he’s here to put things right.”

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With Trump’s single line, all caps, response of “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” it’s hard not to see Sargent’s point as even truer today than it was yesterday.

Nov. 23 2017 11:54 AM

Federal Judge Permanently Blocks New Texas Abortion Law as Unconstitutional

A federal judge, on Wednesday, overturned a Texas ban on the most common form of second-trimester abortion, ruling the prohibition is unconstitutional and places an "undue burden" on women seeking the procedure. The Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 8 in May and Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law shortly after. Abortion providers filed suit against the state and Judge Lee Yeakel of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas issued a temporary injunction in August blocking the law from going into effect until the courts could rule on its constitutionality.

The Texas law, the New York Times notes, “would require doctors to stop the fetus’s heart before performing a dilation-and-evacuation abortion, except in a medical emergency. D&E abortions, as they are known, involve dilating the woman’s cervix and removing the fetus in pieces. This is the safest method available in the second trimester, but opponents say the procedure, which they often refer to as ‘dismemberment abortion,’ is barbaric.”

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Judge Yeakel—a George W. Bush appointee—ruled again on Wednesday, this time permanently barring the law from being enforced. “[Supreme Court precedent leads] inescapably to the conclusion that the state’s legitimate interest in fetal life does not allow the imposition of an additional medical procedure on the standard D&E abortion — a procedure not driven by medical necessity,” Judge Yeakel wrote. “Here the state’s interest must give way to the woman’s right.”

“The ruling comes a year after the Supreme Court struck down a set of previous abortion restrictions in Texas and a decade after the Supreme Court upheld a ban on so-called partial birth abortions, another second trimester procedure,” according to Politico. “Texas said it will appeal the decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has typically upheld the state’s previous attempts to restrict abortion.”

“We will defend Senate Bill 8 all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said after the decision.

Nov. 23 2017 11:17 AM

Trump’s Thanksgiving Day Message to Troops: We’re “Really Winning” Everywhere Now Thanks to Me

On Thursday, a so-called billionaire, who is the current president of the United States woke up in his so-called luxury resort in Mar-a-Lago and spoke to the American military servicemen and women stationed overseas to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving. Speaking via teleconference with American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, and elsewhere in the Middle East, President Trump haltingly delivered prepared remarks with a message: You guys are doing great, thanks to me.

"Everybody's talking about the progress you've made in the last few months since I opened it up,” Trump said about his decision to add a small number of troops to the 16-year long conflict in Afghanistan. “We opened it up, we said go ahead, we’re going to fight to win. We're not fighting anymore to just walk around, we're fighting to win. And you people, you’ve really turned it around in the past three to four months like nobody’s seen and they are talking about it. So thank you very much, brave, incredible fighters.”

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“We’re being talked about as an armed forces. We’re really winning. We know how to win,” Trump said. “But we have to let you win. They weren’t letting you win before. They were letting you play even. We’re letting you win.”

“The fight against ISIS, it’s coming our way. Coming our way. Big, big difference. A lot of things have happened. They say we’ve made more progress against ISIS than they did in years of the previous administration. That’s because I’m letting you do your job… We’re very, very proud of you. Believe me everybody in this country is watching and they’re seeing and they’re seeing positive reports for a change instead of the neutral and negative reports. It’s all positive.”

Nov. 23 2017 10:14 AM

Tentative Agreement Reached to Send Rohingya Refugees Home. But Can Myanmar Be Trusted?

Myanmar and Bangladesh announced a tentative deal Thursday to, at least symbolically, address the Rohingya refugee crisis by sending the more than 620,000 Muslim ethnic minority refugees who have fled to Bangladesh back to their home in neighboring Myanmar. The details of the accord are still sketchy, procedural disagreements on how to implement the plan remain, and not everyone is convinced simply sending the Rohingya back to where they were being slaughtered is the appropriate course of action.

The agreement tentatively calls for the repatriation of displaced Rohingya to Rakhine State in Myanmar to begin within the next couple of months. The Bangladeshi government, already strapped for resources, has felt the strain of hundreds of thousands of refugees and has called for international agencies to be involved in the process of sending the Rohingya home. Myanmar has insisted that any return of the ethnic minority be negotiated bilaterally, presumably because less international involvement would mean less pressure on the country throughout the process. International condemnation of the Myanmar government—and its Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader Aung San Suu Kyi—has increased dramatically as the crisis has intensified.

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on Wednesday, ratcheted up the pressure on the government in Naypyidaw by calling Myanmar’s treatment of the Muslim minority Rohingya “ethnic cleansing.” “After careful and thorough analysis of the facts,” Tillerson said in a statement, “it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine State constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya.” Refugees have described horrifying acts of state-sponsored violence against the Rohingya, from the execution of civilians to gang rape and the mass destruction of entire villages. Tillerson said the U.S. would begin the process of imposing “targeted sanctions” on the regime for its actions.

Despite the agreement there are still ominous signs and a worrying precedent for the Rohingya looking to return home. From the New York Times:

Earlier, the Myanmar authorities said they would, in principle, allow for the return of displaced Rohingya if they could prove that they had lived in Myanmar before fleeing across the border over the past three months… The Myanmar authorities have in recent weeks balked at the possibility of the Rohingya, whom they consider to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, returning to their native villages. Instead, Myanmar’s government has spoken obliquely of camps where they might be sequestered. Around 120,000 Rohingya already live in such camps in the central part of Rakhine after a wave of violence in 2012 forced them from their homes. In late October, officials in Myanmar ordered the harvesting of fields that had been deserted in the Rohingya exodus. The authorities in Myanmar have said they will confiscate all land that they consider “abandoned.”

Those conditions have made many Rohingya cautious or unwilling to return to Myanmar. “Amnesty International said it doubted there could be safe or dignified returns of Rohingya to Myanmar ‘while a system of apartheid remains’ and added that it ‘hoped those who do not want to go home are not forced to do so,’” the BBC reports.

Nov. 23 2017 9:13 AM

Two More Women Accuse Franken of Inappropriate Touching

Two more women, on Wednesday, accused Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching while at public events with the Democratic senator from Minnesota, according to a HuffPost report. The allegations come days after 33-year-old Lindsay Menz said the former Saturday Night Live star grabbed her butt during a 2010 photo opportunity at the Minnesota State Fair, after Franken had been elected to the senate. Last week, Leeann Tweeden first injected Franken into the national debate on sexual sexual misconduct accusing him of groping and forcibly trying to kiss her while the two were in Afghanistan performing a USO show for the troops in 2006.

The two incidents reported by HuffPost took place roughly a decade ago—one in 2007 and the other in 2008—and are the third and fourth allegations of inappropriate touching by the Minnesota senator. Both women asked to stay anonymous. From HuffPost:

The first woman, a 38-year-old book editor who was living in Minneapolis at the time, told HuffPost that she had just finished performing with a feminist choir at the Women’s Political Caucus event, which Franken and his wife, Franni Bryson, attended. After the ceremony, she and other members of the choir approached him for photos.  “My mother loves Al Franken. She listened to Air America [on which Franken had a radio show] every day,” the first woman said. ”I saw him and asked if we could take a photo together for my mother, and we stood next to each other ... and down his hand went.” ...
The second woman, who said she was groped at a fundraiser, told HuffPost it took place in the fall of 2008 at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. She was excited about attending the event and meeting someone she wanted to support. “I had never attended anything like that,” she said. She and her friends found Franken and introduced themselves to him. “I shook his hand, and he put his arm around my waist and held it there,” the second woman said. “Then he moved it lower and cupped my butt.” “I was completely mortified,” she added. In order to escape the situation, the woman excused herself to go to the bathroom. At that point, she said, Franken leaned in and suggested that he accompany her. She grabbed her friend and fled to the bathroom without him.
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HuffPost spoke to people in the two women’s lives who corroborate that each discussed the unwanted advance by Franken at the time of the event. “It’s difficult to respond to anonymous accusers, and I don’t remember those campaign events,” Sen. Franken said in a statement. “I can categorically say that I did not proposition anyone to join me in any bathroom.”

Nov. 22 2017 7:45 PM

Today in Conservative Media: Let’s Not Get Carried Away on Sexual Misconduct

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A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.

Sexual misconduct continued to dominate debate in the conservative press on Thursday. At National Review, Jonah Goldberg argued the importance of maintaining distinctions between categories of misconduct:

We shouldn’t stand for any of it. And yet, the severity of our intolerance should run on a spectrum. Rape should put you in jail. Making a pass at a subordinate in the workplace should have consequences. Making one at a bar? It depends. Taking harassment seriously also requires making serious distinctions.
The problem is that the logic of zero tolerance often renders every bad act as equally unacceptable.
As much as I dislike Franken, making a gross pass at an adult woman is different than molesting a 14-year-old girl. Groping a woman’s backside is not the same thing as raping a woman. And yet Franken’s name is routinely listed alongside Moore’s and Weinstein’s. Some of this leveling is simply journalistic laziness. But a lot of it is partisan demagoguery and opportunism.
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At Townhall, Ben Shapiro argued that the status of predators like Weinstein and Charlie Rose as cultural elites allowed them to evade accountability:

In America, three things confer aristocratic status: fame, money and power. Hollywood, politics and journalism are built on all three. And elite status in each of those industries bought not just a bevy of opportunities for brutality but also a silent knowledge that the consequences would be slight for engaging in that brutality.
First, the opportunities. Just as certain peasants of old sought to curry favor with lords, too many Americans seek to curry favor with the powerful. That’s the story of the Hollywood casting couch. It’s the story of the famed journalist and his nighttime corner booth at the local pub. It’s the story of the politician and his late-night office meetings. Does anyone think women were dying to meet Harvey Weinstein or Charlie Rose or Glenn Thrush? Each story we hear tells the same tale: Women thought the only way they could get ahead was to treat these men with complaisance. They thought that they couldn’t turn down dinner invites. And if they were abused, they thought they had to keep their mouths shut.

Also in Townhall, Betsy McCaughey criticized the use of taxpayer money in settling harassment cases like those brought against Democratic Rep. John Conyers. “How dare Congress vote itself such a perk,” she wrote. “Eliminating it is key to reducing sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. A bipartisan chorus is calling for mandatory sexual harassment training to make Congress a more hospitable workplace for women. Sorry. Training is window dressing. The harassers need to get clobbered where it hurts — in their wallets.”

In other news:

Conservatives commemorated Thanksgiving. The Resurgent’s David Thornton thinks politics should be kept from the dinner table:

The politicization of Thanksgiving began in earnest last year with a host of articles about how to survive Thanksgiving in the wake of one the most polarizing and controversial elections in American history.
The past year has not healed wounds from the epic battle of the unpopular candidates. In fact, with the recent explosion of sexual misconduct charges on both sides of the aisle, this year may be worse. It is not a foregone conclusion that this year’s table talk will be rated “G” with topics such as Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, Wes Goodman and Al Franken on the table.
Partisans of both sides should be aware that they are not going to sway political views by attacking the deeply-held beliefs of other family members on Thanksgiving. The result of such a strategy would be more likely to persuade other family members that you are … a synonym for a donkey (note that this does not imply a Democrat political affiliation).

The Daily Wire’s Paul Bois assessed a GQ article advising readers to ruin Thanksgiving for Trump supporters. “GQ takes this very seriously, as it is about ‘more than just spite,’ but ‘about potentially chipping away at the ~35 percent of un-budging Trump supporters,’ ” he wrote. “Should any of this fail, GQ advises that people take pride in knowing they ruined their parents’ Thanksgiving and look forward to next year when they can ruin it all over again.”

Nov. 22 2017 5:22 PM

Today's Impeach-O-Meter: Another Senior WH Official Apparently Thinks Trump Is a Sucker

The Impeach-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative daily estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump leaves office before his term ends, whether by being impeached (and convicted) or by resigning under threat of same.

On Monday, it was reported that national security adviser H.R. McMaster had, according to five BuzzFeed sources with knowledge of the conversation, said that President Donald Trump has the intelligence of a “kindergartener.”

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This came after Trump had reportedly been called a “moron” by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who subsequently declined to deny the report.

Now it has emerged that a third top White House official might not have such a high opinion of Trump.

On CNN on Wednesday, Sen. Tom Carper said he was with Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn when he faked a bad connection to get off of a call with the president of the United States.

The White House denied the report, but it certainly sounds plausible.

When this many members of a president’s own senior leadership team are willing to disparage him in front of other people, I think it’s fair to take that as a sign said president might not survive his full-term in office.

The meter goes back up to 50 percent.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

Nov. 22 2017 4:24 PM

Congressman Joe Barton Might Have Been the Victim of Revenge Porn

Texas Rep. Joe Barton may have been the victim of revenge porn, after an anonymous Twitter user posted explicit photos and texts of the longtime congressman.

Barton released the following statement on Wednesday apologizing for his judgment:

While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women. Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down.
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Barton also told the Texas Tribune that he was weighing his political future. "You're as aware of what was posted as I am," he said. "I am talking to a number of people, all of whom I have faith in and am deciding how to respond, quite frankly." A spokeswoman for Barton told the Dallas Morning News that he has no plans to step down.

The Twitter user who initially posted the images on Monday posted them along with a photo of a woman with the statement: “I don't like being harassed by these 2.” In a subsequent post, the anonymous Twitter user appears to describe the woman as Barton’s “mistress.”

The Twitter user did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Slate.

As the Morning News noted, Barton “may be a victim of a crime under Texas laws intended to protect against the release of intimate materials.”

More from the paper:

In 2015, Texas legislators passed a "revenge porn law" criminalizing the act of intentionally disclosing pictures or videos "depicting another person with the person's intimate parts exposed or engaged in sexual conduct" without their consent.
Anyone found in violation of the law could be charged with a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in county jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
Shannon Edmonds, a staff attorney with the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, said the bipartisan law was passed "because it was happening so much and it didn't fall under traditional harassment crimes."
Edmonds doesn't know enough about the Barton case to know if the law applies here. But said the law was "designed to address situations exactly like this, where a person from a past relationship who has consensually taken images decides to air those naughty pictures in an effort to harm the person they're no longer in a relationship with."

Whether that statute applies to Barton would obviously depend on whether the photos were part of a consensual exchange. The law stipulates that the “person [depicted in the image must have] had a reasonable expectation that the material would remain private.”

Update 4:55 p.m.: Jana Lynne Sanchez, who is running as a Democrat in Barton’s district, told Slate that she wanted to "focus on the issues" that affect her district and that “a picture of him nude does not affect the district.”

"We need to understand how these images came to be in the public arena before [people] start attacking him," she added.

Sanchez did say, though, that Barton had shown "poor judgment," which echoed Barton's apology.

"If you’re a public official I really think you probably ought to be a little more cautious about your behavior," she said.

Nov. 22 2017 3:54 PM

Doug Jones Is Changing His Approach to the Allegations Against Roy Moore   

In a shift from his previous approach, Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate running against Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, has released a pair of videos calling Moore an “abuser” and calling his actions “disturbing.”

The ad released Wednesday, which Jones tweeted with the caption, “immoral,” begins by listing the names of the nine women who accused him of sexually assaulting or pursuing them.

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The list of accusers, the ad says, is growing:

They were girls when Roy Moore immorally pursued them. Now they are women, witnesses to us all of his disturbing conduct. Will we make their abuser a US Senator?

The ad, released three weeks before the election, is one of two to focus on Moore’s allegations of sexual misconduct in advertisements. The first, released on Tuesday, quoted Ivanka Trump and Jeff Sessions saying they believed Moore’s accusers (“Ivanka Trump says there’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children”) and Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby saying he would not vote for Roy Moore. “Conservative voices, putting children and women over party, doing what’s right.”

The allegations have certainly made a difference in the race. One poll commissioned by Raycom News Network recently found Moore with a tight two-point lead over Jones, a number down from the 11-point lead Moore had before the Washington Post’s story detailing the first allegations of Moore pursuing teenage girls, according to Al.com.

So far, Jones’ campaign has emphasized unity, common ground, and a willingness to work with Republicans, and he has avoided stepping into the national conversation, likely a wise move in a race in which he needs to win over white voters in a deeply conservative state.

It’s not clear what effect the change in tone will have for Jones’ campaign. Slate’s Jamelle Bouie argued Jones’ best move is to “not step on the story and let it play itself out while he campaigns.” Jones’ campaign seems to think it has to make an effort itself to keep the focus on the allegations.

The Moore campaign is still showing signs of turmoil—Moore’s communications director resigned, it was confirmed Wednesday—but is working to depict the accusations as a political hit job and whip their base into a defensive anger.

President Trump weighed in on the allegations on Tuesday, saying he believes Roy Moore and telling Alabama voters "we don't need a liberal person in there."

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