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August 11, 2016

On the campaign trail in the USA, July 2016

On the campaign trail in the USA, July 2016

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

2016 United States presidential election
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The following is the third edition of a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2016 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after an overview of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: two individuals previously interviewed by Wikinews announce their candidacies for the Reform Party presidential nomination; a former Republican Congressman comments on the Republican National Convention; and Wikinews interviews an historic Democratic National Convention speaker.

Summary[]

As July started, presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton met with the FBI to discuss the private e-mail server she used as Secretary of State. A few days later, FBI Director James Comey held a press conference where he announced that charges would not be appropriate against Clinton. He noted, however, that Clinton had acted carelessly in installing a private e-mail server for State business and had risked compromising State secrets. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump tweeted that the lack of charges in the case showed “the system is totally rigged!” Polls from the early part of the month gave Clinton a slight lead in the race. She led the July 4 Real Clear Politics average 44.9% to 40.3%. At this time, media interest in the running-mate selections of Trump and Clinton intensified. The Washington Post speculated that New Jersey governor Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were the leading contenders to be Trump’s running mate. However, other reports pointed to Indiana governor Mike Pence, who confirmed he would accept the position if asked. Trump commented that ten names were on the shortlist including some not mentioned in the media. In later days, General Michael Flynn was floated as a possibility in reports. Gingrich, Flynn, and Pence were apparently finalists for the position, with Pence believed to be the favorite. For the Democrats, Senator Cory Booker, Congressman Xavier Becerra and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro received mention as potential running mates for Clinton, but the shortlist reportedly included Senators Elizabeth Warren, Tim Kaine, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Trump speaks at a July Iowa rally with Mike Pence’s name affixed to his logo
Image: Max Goldberg (flickr).

On July 7, Trump arrived in Washington D.C. and met with Republican members from the House of Representatives and Senate. During the meeting, Trump reportedly told the attendees if they did not support his candidacy, they were, in effect, supporting Clinton. Trump agreed to allow his former rival, Senator Ted Cruz, to speak at the convention, but he did not secure an endorsement from Cruz. The next day, both Trump and Clinton canceled campaign events as an African American shooter in Dallas killed five police officers. Trump’s state chairman in Virginia blamed the shooting on Clinton and others “who label police as racists.” In the aftermath, Trump proclaimed himself the “law and order candidate.” Ahead of its convention, the GOP platform committee approved a socially conservative platform that opposed same-sex marriage and identified pornography as a “public health crisis.” The convention’s host, Ohio governor John Kasich, a former presidential rival of Trump, would not endorse Trump and claimed through a spokesman that Trump had asked Kasich join the presidential ticket in May, but Kasich had declined. Trump’s spokesman denied the claim. Another former rival, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, said he might vote for Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson instead of Trump. On the other side, Hillary Clinton’s principle rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, dropped his campaign and officially endorsed Clinton. Clinton also seemingly received support from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who called Trump “a faker” and wondered why he has “gotten away” with not releasing his tax returns. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy questioned whether the country was “well served” with a Supreme Court justice openly discussing her political views. Trump referred to Ginsburg’s comments as “highly inappropriate.” Ginsburg later apologized.

Trump announced he would officially name his running mate on July 15. Though Pence was the favorite to receive the nod, Trump met with Senator Jeff Sessions, and had additional meetings with Christie and Gingrich. According to multiple news reports, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, her husband Jared Kushner, and financier Sheldon Adelson all tried to convince Trump to select Gingrich, while campaign manager Paul Manafort favored Pence, and pollster Tony Fabrizio wanted Flynn. CNN reported Trump had offered the position to Pence, who accepted. According to NBC, the purported leak of the news had left Trump “seething.” Due to the July 14 attack in Nice, France, Trump postponed the planned announcement. Both CNN and NBC reported Trump was looking for ways to get out of the selection of Pence. The campaign denied the report. The New York Times alleged the Pence selection was revisited because Christie had begged the campaign to reconsider its decision and replace Pence with himself. On July 15, Trump officially announced via Twitter that he had selected Pence. Through the selection, Trump said he hoped to unify the party. Manafort said the ticket would appeal to former supporters of Sanders. As the GOP convention approached, Manafort declared the #NeverTrump movement “gone,” as the GOP rules committee voted not to unbind delegates. Clinton announced she would reveal her vice presidential selection after the GOP convention. The Washington Post tapped Vilsack as the favorite.

RNC[]

Trump with Pence
Image: VOA.

As the GOP convention began in Cleveland, Ohio, Trump trailed Clinton in the July 18 Real Clear Politics average 40.6% to 43.8%. Although Ohio was hosting the convention, the state’s delegates were not placed in the front as is tradition. This was believed to be punishment for Governor Kasich’s refusal to endorse Trump or attend the convention. Manafort called Kasich’s absence a “big mistake” and “embarrassing [to] his state.” With the release of the lineup of speakers showing many members of Trump’s family, former RNC chairman Michael Steele called the convention “a [Trump] family affair.”

On the opening day, on the floor of the convention at Quicken Loans Arena, anti-Trump delegates unsuccessfully attempted to force a roll call vote on the convention rules. Protests outside were relatively minor with only 24 arrests throughout the entire convention. During the convention speeches, delegates frequently chanted “Lock her up!” in reference to Hillary Clinton. Patricia Smith, mother of diplomat Sean Smith who died in the 2012 Benghazi attack, blamed Clinton for her son’s death and exclaimed, “Hillary belongs in prison. She deserves to be in stripes.” In his speech, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani commented Clinton “would go to jail” if he were allowed to prosecute her. In the prime-time opening-night speech, Trump’s wife Melania delivered a speech that initially received acclaim. However, this changed once the media pointed out some lines were nearly identical to those from the speech of First Lady Michelle Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Quicken Loans Arena ahead of the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Image: Erik Drost.

The Trump campaign spent most of the second day of the convention explaining away the plagiarism flap as speechwriter Meredith McIver took the blame for the passages and offered to quit. Trump requested she remain. Trump officially received the presidential nomination on the second day of the convention and Pence received the vice-presidential nomination. Christie delivered a speech in which he held a mock trial prosecuting Clinton in absentia before the delegates. He was followed with prime-time speeches by Trump’s children Tiffany and Donald Jr.

View from the floor of the Convention
Image: VOA.

On the third day, The New York Times released a transcript of an interview with Trump in which he criticized NATO and questioned whether the US should honor the treaty if member nations do not contribute their share of funds. Several Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said they disagreed with Trump’s comments. Disagreements seeped into the convention as well when Cruz gave a speech in which he did not endorse Trump. When his refusal became evident, a chorus of boos erupted from the delegates, continuing until he left the stage. The speech overshadowed that of Pence who accepted the vice-presidential nomination later that night. Cruz received almost universal condemnation from prominent Republicans. However, Gingrich, who spoke after Trump’s son Eric, who followed Cruz, commented he did not take the speech to show a lack of support for Trump. Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. claimed it had helped Republicans unite behind Trump.

On the last day of the convention, after a formal introduction from Ivanka, Trump accepted the GOP nomination and delivered, CNN noted, the longest nominee acceptance speech in 40 years. In the speech, Trump emphasized “law and order”, and referenced his proposals of building a wall along the southern border and banning immigration from nations with a history of terrorism. Trump described the legacy of his opponent Clinton as one of “death, destruction, terrorism, and weakness.” President Barack Obama criticized the speech, accusing Trump of basing it on fear and inaccurately painting a bleak portrait of the nation. Nevertheless, a CNN/ORC instant poll showed 57% of respondents who watched the speech received it favorably and 56% were more likely to vote for Trump. According to pundit Joe Trippi, the speech and overall convention provided the GOP with about a 5.9% bounce in the polls, one point higher than the average. Most polls at this time showed Trump leading Clinton.

A day after the convention, Clinton announced her vice-presidential selection. The New York Times had reported that Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, wanted Clinton to pick Senator Tim Kaine. Indeed, she named Kaine, a centrist from Virginia, as her running mate. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus called Clinton-Kaine a “failed Democrat status quo” ticket.

DNC[]

Pro-Bernie Sanders protests of the DNC
Image: Becker1999.

Ahead of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Wikileaks released nearly 20 thousand hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mails. The e-mails showed favoritism of Clinton within the DNC and revealed plans to diminish the Sanders campaign. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned her position as a result. Initially, she was to gavel-in the convention, but after a highly negative reception from her home state Florida delegation before the convention, she was replaced with DNC Secretary Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Media reports and the Clinton campaign itself blamed Russia for the hacking and leaking of e-mails. The DNC issued an apology to Sanders. Sanders urged his supporters not to protest on the floor of the convention. He was booed upon reiterating his support for Clinton before a group of delegates. Presumptive Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein invited Sanders to meet with her, but Sanders declined. Via Twitter, Trump said Sanders had “sold out.”

View of the floor of the DNC
Image: JefParker.

On the first day of the convention, the first speakers received boos upon mentioning Clinton with the crowd erupting into chants of “Bernie! Bernie!” and “Count our votes!” As the convention continued, the protests died down inside Wells Fargo Center, but continued outside. Overall, a total of 103 citations were issued in lieu of arrests, while the Secret Service arrested eleven. As the convention moved along, commentators oddly noted a common theme of “American exceptionalism” in speeches and more religious references than at the RNC. On the first night, Michelle Obama addressed the convention in a well received speech. She did not mention Trump by name, but referenced his slogan in proclaiming, “don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on earth!” She heaped praise upon Clinton, whom she called a leader “guided every day by the love and hope and impossibly big dreams that we all have for our children.” She was followed by the keynote speaker Elizabeth Warren, who opened a blistering attack on Trump, accusing him of defrauding people. Sanders spoke. He expressed disappointment in the outcome of the primaries but heralded the “historical accomplishments” of his movement and urged his followers to get behind Clinton.

Clinton accepts the Democratic presidential nomination
Image: VOA.

In a historic moment on the second day, Clinton officially received the Democratic presidential nomination, making her the first woman to be nominated by a major party. That night, her husband, former President Bill Clinton, addressed the convention, discussing his relationship with his wife and highlighting her accomplishments. Before the convention convened on the third day, Trump held a press conference. Referencing the DNC hack leak, he remarked, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” The Clinton campaign attacked Trump for “actively encourag[ing] a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent,” though Trump claimed he was merely joking. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange commented in an interview that he timed the release of the hacked e-mails to hurt Clinton in the election.

On the third day, after a speech from Vice President Joe Biden, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, addressed the convention. He formally endorsed Clinton and referred to Trump as a “con,” arguing, “[t]he richest thing about Trump is his hypocrisy.” Later, Kaine officially accepted the vice-presidential nomination. President Obama followed with a speech to wrap up the third day. He argued that no one, himself included, was “more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America.” He accused Trump of offering “no serious solutions to pressing problems — just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate.”

On the final day, Chelsea Clinton spoke and introduced her mother, Hillary Clinton, who accepted the Democratic nomination. During her speech, Clinton laid out policy proposals and attacked Trump for making some of his products overseas. In addition, she argued that Trump cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons. Clinton’s speech was deemed a success. A CNN instant poll revealed 71% of viewers had a favorable opinion of the speech with 60% more likely to vote for her after watching. Although Trump’s speech received higher television ratings, Clinton overtook Trump in post-convention polls.

Khizr and Ghazala Khan
Image: VOA.

Press coverage of Clinton’s speech was overshadowed by an earlier speech from Khizr and Ghazala Khan, a Muslim couple whose son died in Iraq in 2004. The speech set off a back-and-forth between Trump and Khan that lasted several days. With his wife at his side on the convention stage, Khizr Khan delivered a stinging attack on Trump for his earlier proposal to ban Muslim immigration and wondered whether Trump had ever read the U.S. Constitution. Trump responded, attacking Khizr for his comments and questioning whether Khizr’s wife remained silent during the speech because she was not allowed to speak. Trump’s comments were condemned by Democrats and Republicans alike. Khizr labeled Trump “void of decency” and accused him of having a “dark heart.” Ghazala responded with an op-ed in The Washington Post in which she attributed her silence at the convention to grief.

As July came to a close, Trump had additional setbacks. First, he mistakenly asserted that no Russian troops were currently in Ukraine. Second, he made an unsupported claim that the NFL had complained to him about the presidential debate schedule coinciding with NFL games. Nevertheless, Trump received some positive news with the announcement that Julian Assange had “extremely interesting” information on Clinton that had yet to be released through Wikileaks. In the July 31 Real Clear Politics average, Clinton, who had just received the endorsement of billionaire Mark Cuban, held a 1.1% lead over Trump .

Reform Party race features two Wikinews interviewees[]

Two candidates who each previously spoke with Wikinews have both announced their candidacies for the 2016 presidential nomination of the Reform Party of the United States. Historian Darcy Richardson and businessman Rocky De La Fuente each decided to seek the nomination in July. Both have previously run for president as Democrats.

Logo for the Reform Party of the United States of America.
Image: Reform Party National Committee.

[T]here was and is a party that was opposed to NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO and other unfair trade agreements and which is still deeply committed to the Hamiltonian idea of protecting U.S. jobs and industry as we proceed into the 21st Century
Darcy Richardson on the Reform Party

Richardson, a veteran of third-party politics, sought the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2012 and briefly vied for the Reform Party presidential nomination that same year. He is the author of “The Others” anthology, covering third-party candidates, and has written books on such political topics as the 1968 presidential election and the presidential candidacies of Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, and recently, Bernie Sanders. He served as campaign manager during McCarthy’s 1988 presidential bid. In addition, he ran for Pennsylvania Auditor General in 1980, and was the Consumer Party’s 1988 nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. In 2010, he ran for Lieutenant Governor of Florida as the running mate of gubernatorial candidate Farid Khavari.

Richardson has a history within the Reform Party beyond his 2012 run. He participated in the party’s 1996 and 2000 mail-in primaries, was part of the 2004 nominating conference calls, donated to candidates nominated by the party, and contributed to the Reform National Committee. Richardson says Reform Party Secretary Nicholas Hensley encouraged him to enter the 2016 race. As the nominee, he plans to spread the party message through television, radio, and speaking engagements.

“In short, my candidacy is designed to remind older folks about the Reform Party’s important role in American politics”, says Richardson, “and to inform younger millennials — those facing a low-paying, if not jobless, future — that there was and is a party that was opposed to NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO and other unfair trade agreements and which is still deeply committed to the Hamiltonian idea of protecting U.S. jobs and industry as we proceed into the 21st Century.”

De La Fuente, a San Diego businessman with properties throughout the world, got his start in the automobile industry and has since branched into the banking and real estate markets. Before his 2016 Democratic Party campaign for president, he had not sought political office, but did serve as the first-ever Hispanic superdelegate, at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. During his 2016 presidential campaign, which he began largely as a reaction to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, De La Fuente qualified for the ballot in 48 Democratic primary contests. In addition to seeking the Reform Party nomination, he is current attempting to qualify for the general election ballot in several states as an independent or as the nominee of the new “American Delta Party,” which he founded. De La Fuente is currently running in the Democratic Party primary for U.S. Senate in Florida as well. According to Hensley, in remarks to Wikinews’, ballot access expert Richard Winger encouraged De La Fuente to seek the Reform Party nomination.

Rocky De La Fuente in January 2016.
Image: Marc Nozell.

Darcy Richardson in 2010
Image: Darcy Richardson.

According to Richardson, De La Fuente entered the race a mere 24 hours after he did. Moreover, Richardson distinguishes himself from De La Fuente, arguing that while those within the Reform party encouraged him to run, De La Fuente ran at the insistence of “a partisan Libertarian [Winger] […] who personally has little interest in the Reform Party’s current fortunes or its future”, and who sees the Reform Party as “just an available ballot line”.

Richardson’s preferred running mate, activist Thomas Knapp, founder of the now-defunct Boston Tea Party, draws an even greater contrast between Richardson and De La Fuente.

“[There were] five states that both Mr. [De La] Fuente [in 2016] and Mr. Richardson [in 2012] appeared on a Democratic primary ballot [in different election cycles] […],” explains Knapp, comparing De La Fuente and Richardson’s Democratic Party candidacies, “Richardson outpolled [De La] Fuente and did so on a budget two full orders of magnitude smaller, even though Richardson was running against a popular incumbent president [Barack Obama] and [De La] Fuente was running against one of the most hated politicians in America [Hillary Clinton].”

“In his presidential campaign so far [De La Fuente] has spent $6.4 million to get 67,000 votes”, Knapp continues. “That’s $95.50 per vote.”

De La Fuente was asked to respond to these statements and to comment on this report, but he has yet to do so.

The Reform Party was founded in 1995 by industrialist Ross Perot. Perot ran as the party’s first presidential nominee in 1996, and won over eight percent of the popular vote, the highest percentage for a third-party candidate since. In 1998, professional wrestler Jesse Ventura ran on the Reform Party ticket and was elected Governor of Minnesota. The party fell in prominence during the lead-up to the 2000 presidential election when it was plagued by infighting between ideological factions. In 2000, Donald Trump briefly sought the party’s presidential nomination, but it was ultimately won by paleoconservative icon Pat Buchanan, who went on to receive only 0.4% of the popular vote in the general election. In 2004, the party opted to endorse consumer advocate Ralph Nader, but ended the year nearly bankrupt. Ted Weill won the party’s 2008 presidential nomination, but appeared on the ballot in only one state and won a total of 481 votes. In 2012, the party’s presidential nominee, fitness model Andre Barnett, on the ballot only in Florida with write-in status elsewhere, received a total of 952 votes. The party is currently on the ballot in New York and Florida, but, according to Ballot Access News, the New York affiliate is expected to nominate Trump.

The party held its 2016 convention the last weekend in July. It had planned to formally announce its presidential ticket on August 8. According to Knapp, Richardson and De La Fuente were the two leading contenders for the nomination. Others seeking the nomination included 2012 vice presidential nominee Kenneth Cross and psychologist Lynn Kahn.

“I was approached about entering the contest very recently”, says Richardson. “I plan to support whatever ticket the party nominates.”

Former Congressman responds to Cruz RNC speech[]

Congressman Tancredo
Image: United States Congress.

As Senator Ted Cruz delivered his much-discussed speech before the Republican National Convention, former Congressman Tom Tancredo, an early supporter of Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign, watched with disappointment. In an exclusive interview with Wikinews, Tancredo argued that Cruz’s refusal to endorse Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the speech, which prompted what was perhaps one of the most negative crowd reactions to a convention speech in recent memory, was a mistake.

“He needs to realize and appreciate the bigger picture”, said Tancredo about Cruz, “[y]ou can still hate Donald Trump for the things he says [but] he has to recognize what will happen to the country if the Supreme Court is under the control of Hillary Clinton.”

Ted Cruz delivering his convention speech
Image: VOA.

Tancredo, who represented Colorado’s 6th congressional district from 1999 to 2009, endorsed Cruz in January, writing an op-ed for Breitbart.com in which he touted Cruz as an outsider and “the real deal.” Tancredo himself ran for president in 2008 as an outsider Republican, focusing on securing the U.S.–Mexico border and enforcing laws against illegal immigration. Notably, during his campaign, Tancredo had a September 2007 interview with Wikinews.

Cruz’s speech affected more than just Tancredo’s opinion. Though some praised the speech as principled and politically astute — including Hillary Clinton, who tweeted “vote your conscience”, repeating what Cruz had said — many prominent Republicans offered rebukes. Former Congressman Joe Walsh called for a Texas Republican to “primary” Cruz in 2018, when his Senate seat goes up for re-election, as a consequence for not honoring the GOP endorsement pledge. Chris Christie described Cruz as “selfish” for refusing to endorse. Congressman Peter King called Cruz an “asshole”, a term which RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said was apt. Polls from before and after the speech showed Cruz’s approval rating among Republicans fall from 60% to 33%.

Addressing the backlash, Cruz defended his decision, arguing “I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.” Moreover, he claimed the GOP endorsement pledge “was not a blanket commitment that, if you go and slander and attack Heidi [his wife], that I’m going to nonetheless come like a servile puppy dog and say thank you very much for maligning my wife and my father”.

The attacks Cruz refers to are Trump’s re-tweeting in March of a graphic comparing an unflattering photo of Cruz’s wife, Heidi, to a glamour shot of Melania Trump, as well as Trump’s mention last May of a National Enquirer report connecting Cruz’s father to Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of President John F. Kennedy.

Tancredo said he believes the issues facing the nation are “more important than [Cruz’s] personal feelings about his wife or father.” He maintained that Cruz “could have avoided the problem and ‘lived with himself’ by passing on the invitation to speak. Apparently the few minutes still in the spotlight was too alluring”.

A new view on Cruz was not Tancredo’s only takeaway from July’s convention. He appreciated Trump’s acceptance speech as well, calling it the “[b]est I’ve heard from him”.

Wikinews interviews history-making DNC speaker[]

Before Hillary Clinton’s historic moment on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, as she became the first woman to accept the presidential nomination of a major US political party, another woman, much younger than Clinton, made history of her own. Sarah McBride, national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), became the first openly transgender person to address a major political party’s national convention when she spoke before the Democratic National Convention. Wikinews contacted McBride to find out more about her groundbreaking speech.

Sarah McBride
Image: Human Rights Campaign.

McBride, a native of Delaware in her mid-20s, came out as a transgender woman during her term at American University as student body president. Before HRC, an LGBT lobbying group, McBride was employed by the Center for American Progress, a progressive advocacy organization, and was the first openly transgender woman to intern at the White House. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the LGBT activist group Equality Delaware, through which she successfully lobbied the legislature of Delaware to expand the state’s anti-discrimination and hate-crimes acts to include gender identity and expression.

During her convention speech, McBride discussed her relationship with a transgender man, Andrew, who continued LGBT activism despite having terminal cancer. McBride married the man just a few days before his death. McBride’s speech received widespread coverage with feature stories from Time Magazine, The Washington Post, Daily Mail, CNN, ABC News, NBC News, Rolling Stone, New York, and others.

With Wikinews, McBride discusses the speech, her experience at the convention, and any future political plans.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png How did you find out the DNC wanted you to speak at the convention? What were your initial thoughts?

McBride: I found out that I was speaking about a week before the convention started. The Congressional LGBT Caucus was granted six minutes on the main stage of the convention and they decided that they wanted to dedicate half of that time to having a transgender person speak, breaking that barrier of finally having an openly trans speaker at a major party convention. When I found out, I was excited, nervous, and honored. Throughout the week leading up to the convention and during the week of the convention, my main thought was that I wanted to do the trans community proud and do them justice.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png How did you prepare for the speech and what did it feel like to deliver it before millions of people?

McBride: For the last few years, much of my advocacy has been about telling my personal story and weaving it in to the larger effort for LGBTQ equality. In writing my speech for the DNC, I took some of the themes, thoughts, and experiences that I’ve spoken about before and condensed them for the speech. During the week of the convention, I didn’t have much time to really focus on the upcoming speech. Instead, I went from interview to interview, talking with various outlets about this opportunity and the stakes of this election for LGBTQ people.
Standing on the stage and delivering my remarks was one of the most empowering and inspiring experiences of my life. While I was nervous beforehand, once I got on the stage and started speaking, I felt calm and determined to utilize those three minutes to effectively speak to the audience, both in and out of the arena. Throughout the speech and right afterward, I kept on thinking about a young transgender person in North Carolina who may be watching, who is wondering whether this country has a place for them too, and hoping that my speech could give that person, and anyone like them, just a little comfort and hope that things are changing, that they matter, and that their dreams and identity are not mutually exclusive.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png What did you hope to achieve with the speech and what reaction have you received thus far?

McBride: I really hoped to drive two major points home. The first was that there is a lot of unfinished work for the LGBTQ equality movement and that Hillary Clinton is the champion and fighter we need to deliver the change so many of us still need. The second point was that I wanted to reinforce that behind this national conversation on transgender rights, are real people who hurt when we are mocked, who hurt when we are discriminated against, and who just want to be treated with dignity and fairness.
The energy in the arena was palpable as I stood on stage and I hope that the trans community could see and hear the love in that space. [The] response was and has been overwhelming and heartening. I hope that my speech helped open some hearts and change some minds, even if it was just one person.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png Other than the speech, how was your experience at the convention?

McBride: This was the first convention I had ever attended and needless to say it was an incredible experience. Watching the first woman nominee of a major party stand up and accept the nomination of her party for President of the United States was a sight and experience I will never forget. I feel so lucky to have witnessed so much history in Philadelphia.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png After participating in the convention, do you personally have any interest in pursuing political office?

McBride: I’ve always been interested in politics and government and I definitely plan on returning to my home state of Delaware at some point, but I don’t know if running for office is ever in my future. Right now, I’m incredibly focused on contributing whatever I can to push equality forward for LGBTQ people and if there is anything I’ve learned in the last few years, it’s that making long term plans is usually a pretty fruitless exercise.



Related articles[]

Sources[]

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

October 28, 2015

Time magazine names Ahmed Mohamed to \’Most Influential Teens of 2015\’

Time magazine names Ahmed Mohamed to ‘Most Influential Teens of 2015’

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Time magazine named 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed yesterday to its list of “30 Most Influential Teens of 2015”. He was made famous after being taken into custody by police when a teacher thought a clock he brought to his Texas school looked like a bomb. Mohamed joins the ranks of influential teens including US President Barack Obama’s daughter Malia Obama, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

Ahmed Mohamed at Ames Research Center in 2015
Image: Courtesy of the Office of Congressman Mike Honda.

Time said of Mohamed in announcing the news: “Not many people make national news by bringing a homemade clock to school. But the ninth-grader’s arrest, after teachers and authorities mistook said clock for a bomb, kicked off a national debate over racial profiling”.

Cquote1.svg The ninth-grader’s arrest […] kicked off a national debate over racial profiling Cquote2.svg

Time magazine

Texas student Ahmed Mohamed and NASA Astronaut Alvin Drew at the 2015 White House Astronomy Night.
Image: Harrison Jones, hjonesphotography.

Mohamed traveled to the White House last week where he met with US President Barack Obama. His family said last week that they would move from Texas to Qatar, where Mohamed was offered a full-scholarship to a well-respected school in the country.

The September 14 incident in Irving, Texas triggered a wider discussion about Islamophobia within the community. The Twitter hashtag #IStandWithAhmed became part of a social movement in support of the youth. After news of the police response was reported, Mohamed received support online ranging from US President Barack Obama to Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg.

Mohamed brought the digital clock he made to school on September 14, and a teacher mistakenly thought it resembled a bomb. Police arrested and questioned the student. Images of the boy wearing a NASA T-shirt and handcuffed by the police were quickly posted and reposted online.

Cquote1.svg Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? Cquote2.svg

—US President Barack Obama

The Twitter attention led to outreach from Google and Mohamed was invited to their Google Science Fair. Mohamed was a VIP guest at the Google Science Fair, and met finalists at the event held at Google’s headquarters located in Mountain View, California. Co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, personally met with Mohamed during his visit to Google.

US President Barack Obama tweeted using his @POTUS account: “Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.” Twitter gave Mohamed the option to come to their company for an internship. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg tweeted to Mohamed and said the boy was welcome to come and tour the company.

Both the Irving Independent School District and the Irving Police Department have asserted that the boy’s religion and name were not a factor in the manner in which they approached the situation.



Related news[]

Sister links[]

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Ahmed Mohamed clock incident
  • Commons-logo.svg Ahmed Mohamed clock incident
  • Wikisource-logo.svg We Stand with Ahmed – and We Hope He’ll Join Us for Astronomy Night

Sources[]

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

September 22, 2015

Texas student Ahmed Mohamed inspires social movement

Texas student Ahmed Mohamed inspires social movement

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

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News of police response to a boy’s digital clock in Texas last week has inspired a global social movement in support of the youth. Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old boy from Irving, Texas, was arrested at his school by police after he brought a digital clock he had made to school. After news of the police response was reported, Mohamed received support online ranging from US President Barack Obama to Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg. Yesterday Mohamed received VIP attention at Google headquarters in California at the Google Science Fair — and tommorow he plans to meet international dignitaries at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

US President Barack Obama tweet to student Ahmed Mohamed
Image: Twitter/Barack Obama.

Mohamed brought the digital clock he made to school on September 14, and a teacher mistakenly thought it resembled a bomb. Police arrested and questioned the student. Images of the boy wearing a NASA T-shirt and handcuffed by the police were quickly posted and reposted online.

Cquote1.svg Hoping that the #istandwithahmed movement translates into a substantive national conversation on race, punishment, and incarceration. Cquote2.svg

Marc Lamont Hill

The Deseret News observed that the hashtag on Twitter, #IStandWithAhmed, had become an international phenomenon. The Straits Times noted what began as individual messages to Mohamed had grown into a “support movement”. American academic and professor Marc Lamont Hill commented, “Hoping that the #istandwithahmed movement translates into a substantive national conversation on race, punishment, and incarceration.”

The Twitter attention led to outreach from Google and Mohamed was invited to their Google Science Fair. Mohamed was a VIP guest at the Google Science Fair this weekend, and was able to meet finalists at the event held at Google’s headquarters located in Mountain View, California. Co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, personally met with Mohamed during his visit to Google.

On Wednesday, Mohamed and his father are to travel to the United Nations. His father Mohamed El-Hassan Mohamed said he was taking his entire family to the U.N. headquarters in New York, because international dignitaries wanted to meet with his son and express their support.

Psychology major at University of Texas Arlington Amneh Jafari heard of the incident and wanted to issue her support to Mohamed. She chose the hastag #IStandWithAhmed and posted to Twitter. Jafari said she felt Mohamed had been subject to Islamophobia and her hashtag created greater awareness about this issue. The hashtag took on a life of its own, and was used in messages on Twitter over one million times by Thursday night.

NASA tweeted support of Ahmed Mohamed via its account International Space Station
Image: Twitter/NASA.

US President Barack Obama tweeted using his @POTUS account: “Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”

Twitter gave Mohamed the option to come to their company for an internship. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg tweeted to Mohamed and said the boy was welcome to come and tour the company.

Executive director of the Dallas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Alia Salem said Mohamed wishes to use his newfound fame and attention to spotlight social causes including the treatment of Muslims in the United States.

University of Texas Arlington Muslim Student Association president Sehar Memon said the large amount of positive feedback for Mohamed had helped make his situation much better. Memon also said she believed the social movement in reaction to Mohamed helped improve Muslim/non-Muslim.

Both the Irving Independent School District and the Irving Police Department have asserted that the boy’s religion and name were not a factor in the manner in which they approached the situation.



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February 21, 2015

Harris Wittels, Parks and Recreation executive producer, found dead aged 30

Harris Wittels, Parks and Recreation executive producer, found dead aged 30

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

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Harris Wittels, an executive producer on the comedy television series Parks and Recreation, has been found dead. The 30-year-old was found unresponsive at his home in Los Angeles by his assistant on Thursday. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have announced they are investigating the possibility of a drug overdose.

Wittels had a history of drug abuse and spoke openly about his addiction and treatment in drug rehabilitation centers. As well as working as a producer he was also a writer, musician, and stand-up comedian. He performed a stand-up set in Hollywood the night before his death.

Wittels, from Texas, started work on Parks and Recreation as a writer before being promoted to producer and eventually executive producer. Parks and Recreation is in its seventh and final season. The last episode is due to be broadcast on NBC next week.

His other working credits include work on The Sarah Silverman Show and Eastbound and Down. He authored a book, Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty, which came from a phrase he coined on Twitter. #humblebrag was used as a term to describe the art of false modesty.

Tributes have come from across the world of television and comedy. Sarah Silverman called Wittels her “baby”. She said on Twitter “You should know that Harris was brilliant beyond compare. That his imagination was without limit. That he loved comedy more than anything”.

Parks and Recreation actress Amy Poehler said at a Variety event where she was being honored “I don’t really feel like telling any jokes. Today, I lost a friend. I lost a dear, young friend in my life who was struggling with addiction.”

Fans of Wittels also paid tribute to him. Posting on culture website The AV Club, one fan wrote “I don’t mean to belittle what those who knew him are going through at all, I know how I feel is nothing compared to what they’re dealing with, but it does feel like I lost a friend.” Another posted “Been sitting here crying since I found out an hour ago. Just unbelievably awful. Said this elsewhere but I genuinely feel like I lost a friend, don’t care how lame that sounds. RIP Harris.”

An official cause of death will not be known until results are released by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.



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August 22, 2014

Four arrested after building spire in Moscow painted in Ukrainian colors

Four arrested after building spire in Moscow painted in Ukrainian colors

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Russian authorities have detained four people on Wednesday on suspicion of vandalism, following an incident where the spire of the iconic Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building in Moscow was painted in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. The suspects, reportedly consisting of two men and two women, allegedly ascended the building by stairs to reach its top floor, before using climbing equipment to complete the ascent, according to Moscow police.

File photo of the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building in 2009.
Image: SphinxTheGeek.

Over the course of the previous night, the suspects proceeded to paint the top half of the building’s star-shaped spire blue and erected a Ukrainian flag atop at about 7:15 am local time, reports the Interfax news agency, with information corroborated by Moscow’s municipal emergency services. The alterations to the building made by the suspects remained for several hours, before workers removed the flag and repainted the spire to its normal color. Containing 32 floors and standing at a height of 176 m (577 ft), the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building is one of the Seven Sisters, skyscrapers constructed between 1947 and 1953 in Moscow under the direction of Joseph Stalin.

Following the act, at least one of the suspects then reportedly descended from the building by parachute, reported state news channel Rossiya 24, and captured on a video published by Lifenews, reportedly filmed by a local resident. Additional video broadcast by Rossiya 24, taken from a window, captured a parachuting suspect landing in a nearby playground. Among the suspects was Alexander Pogrebov, who has denied the charges brought forth by authorities. “I was detained for parachuting off the skyscraper. I chose that place because it’s beautiful. […] It just so happened that at the time of the jump, someone else committed an act of vandalism — they destroyed the spire with paint, and raised the Ukrainian flag.” said Pogrebov in an interview to LifeNews.

Pogrebov’s comments were supported by a police official, who stated to the Itar-Tass agency: “The two young men and two girls say they jumped from a high building with parachutes. They say they didn’t hoist any flag and didn’t paint the flag.” If convicted of vandalism, Pogrebov and the other suspects may be sentenced to a maximum of three years imprisonment. Over the phone to Bloomberg, an unidentified duty press official stated the suspects were previously arrested over other charges. According to reports from Russian state television, all four suspects were Russian citizens.

Other acts by Russian protestors to show support and solidarity with Ukraine, contrasting the approval which came following the Russian annexation of Crimea, included the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem by protestors while being arrested. Russian musician Andrey Makarevich, who fronts the band Mashina Vremeni, which translates to “Time Machine”, was labelled as a “traitor” by Russian lawmakers and musicians who supported Russian interests, after he traveled to eastern Ukraine last week to perform for displaced children in regions held by the Ukrainian army.

On a post on Twitter, Russian opposition leader Gennady Gudkov stated “I don’t justify youngsters who painted a star on the skyscraper, but this is an administrative offense, not criminal”. In 2011 and 2012, following accusations of electoral fraud during the parliamentary elections at the time, Gudkov supported protestors who took to the streets of Moscow in opposition to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The act comes just days prior to Ukraine’s Day of the National Flag on August 23 and Independence Day on August 24. The country’s president, Petro Poroshenko, expressed his approval from Kiev of the act and praise for the suspects in a written post on Facebook. “On the eve of Independence Day we are starting an initiative called ‘Our Colours,’ which is devoted to the Ukrainian flag”((uk)), wrote Poroshenko. “And it is symbolic that, on this day, our colours have been painted on what is perhaps the greatest skyscraper in Moscow. I urge Ukrainians throughout the world, wherever they are, on the eve of the anniversary of our independence, to decorate their homes, offices, and cars in our national colours.”((uk))

“I like very much the fact that, on the eve of celebrating the Ukrainian flag, one of Moscow’s highest buildings was painted in our colors,” Poroshenko said in a video posted on Facebook. “I congratulate these Ukrainians.” Following the deaths of more than 2,000 people and the displacement of 300,000 from their homes amid fighting in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian armed forced and pro-Russian separatists, Poroshenko is scheduled to discuss the crisis with Putin next week, the first such meeting in two months.



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March 3, 2014

International Paralympic Committee comments on Russian adherence to Olympic Truce

International Paralympic Committee comments on Russian adherence to Olympic Truce

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Monday, March 3, 2014

The Olympic Truce wall at the 2012 Summer Paralympics
Image: P.Kurmelis.

In a response published Saturday by The Associated Press, the International Paralympic Committee commented on Russian adherence to the Olympic Truce in regards to the country’s actions in the Ukraine, saying “As with situations around the world, we hope a peaceful resolution can be found in the spirit of the Olympic Truce, which has covered the Paralympic Games since 2006. […] We want the story here to be the great festival of sport that has already taken place in Sochi and will continue now that athletes are arriving for the start of the Winter Paralympics.”

In the past few days, Russian troops entered the Ukrainian Crimea and took control of a number of strategic locations, including an airport and a regional parliament. Yesterday, Russian forces surrounded a Crimean Ukrainian military base.

While the Russian-hosted Olympic Games officially ended on February 23, the Olympic period officially concludes on March 16 at the closing ceremony for the 2014 Winter Paralympics.

The Olympic Truce and its extension to the Paralympic Games is recognized by the United Nations, who did so in A/65/270, para.7, an addition recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in August 2010.

The Crimea region of the Ukraine is located less than 500 kilometers (less than 300 miles) away from Sochi. The British Paralympic team have said they are continuing to monitor the situation, but has no current plans to make changes regarding their participation at the Games. The United States Paralympic team has said they haven’t made any changes to their plans in response to the situation.

Yesterday, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter, “Because of the serious situation in Ukraine, @WilliamJHague & I believe it would be wrong for UK Ministers to attend the Sochi Paralympics.”



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May 22, 2013

Same-sex marriage passes third reading in House of Commons

Same-sex marriage passes third reading in House of Commons

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Maria Miller: “Let us make equal marriage possible because it’s the right thing to do, and then let us move on.”
Image: Department for Work and Pensions.

The UK House of Commons voted yesterday to approve the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at third reading, with 366 MPs supporting and 161 MPs opposing. The Bill proceeds today to the House of Lords. The legislation continues to draw strong criticism from right wing Conservative MPs and has caused political trouble for Prime Minister David Cameron.

Opponents of the Bill led by Tim Loughton MP submitted an amendment to allow opposite sex couples to enter into civil partnerships, which were introduced in 2004 as an alternative to marriage for same sex couples. The government warned that Loughton’s amendment was an attempt to wreck the passage of the Bill. Sir George Young, the Conservative chief whip, asked Labour whips to oppose the amendment despite the Labour Party previously supporting the amendment.

A Labour Party source quoted in The Guardian said they “had an eleventh hour appeal from the government that they did not have the numbers to defeat the Tim Loughton amendment” and that Labour leader Ed Miliband considered it an “overriding priority […] to ensure that the bill gets on to the statute book. Ed and Yvette Cooper will therefore be voting against the Tim Loughton amendment. We expect a large number of MPs to join Ed and Yvette. Since there was a genuine threat to the bill Ed decided the best thing to do was to act in this way.”

A rival amendment put forward by the Labour Party would bring in a review of whether civil partnerships ought to be extended to opposite sex couples but would not delay the implementation of marriage for same sex couples. This amendment was approved 391 to 57 by the Commons.

Opponents of the Bill including David Burrowes and Peter Bone are hoping the House of Lords will reject the law: Burrowes stated Lords would have the right to reject the bill as “there was no clear manifesto commitment, no coalition agreement, no green paper — just a sham consultation”. The Conservative Party’s 2010 “contract for equalities” reads, “We will also consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage.”

Norman Tebbit in 2008.
Image: James Robertson.

In an interview with The Big Issue, former cabinet minister and Conservative peer Norman Tebbit expressed concern about the possibility that a law legalising gay marriage would cause confusion regarding royal succession: “When we have a queen who is a lesbian and she marries another lady and then decides she would like to have a child and someone donates sperm and she gives birth to a child, is that child heir to the throne?”

Tebbit also argued the new law “would lift my worries about inheritance tax because maybe I’d be allowed to marry my son. Why not? Why shouldn’t a mother marry her daughter? Why shouldn’t two elderly sisters living together marry each other?”

During the debate, Gerald Howarth referred to Conservative MP Margot James as representative of an “aggressive homosexual community”: “I warn you, and MPs on all sides of the house, that I fear that the playing field has not been levelled. I believe that the pendulum is now swinging so far the other way and there are plenty in the aggressive homosexual community who see this as but a stepping stone to something even further”. Howarth’s comments sparked a trending topic on the social networking site Twitter.

David Cameron has been on the political defensive since rumours circulated that Conservative Party co-chairman Lord Feldman referred to Conservative activists as “mad, swivel-eyed loons”. Conservative Grassroots chairman Miles Windsor remarked, “This week has begun a civil war in conservatism, it may rumble on for years — but as things stand, Nigel Farage is winning it at a stride.”

Maria Miller, the government minister responsible for equality, tweeted after the vote on the third reading: “Just won Third Reading vote of Equal Marriage Bill – After all the hard work, its moment to be proud of. It’s the Right Thing”. Labour MP Diane Abbott said: “I did not think I would live to see the day this reached third reading.”

On BBC Radio 4, David Cameron welcomed the passage of the bill: “I think we should think about it like this — that there will be young boys in schools today who are gay, who are worried about being bullied, who are worried about what society thinks of them, who can see that the highest Parliament in the land has said that their love is worth the same as anybody else’s love and that we believe in equality. I think they will stand that bit taller today and I’m proud of the fact that that has happened.”



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February 13, 2013

Texas man appears before judge following fatal mall shooting

Texas man appears before judge following fatal mall shooting

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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Image: David Grenier.

Ricky Neal, Jr. appeared before a judge on Monday at 3:00pm CST following his alleged role in the shooting death of 23 year-old Chris Mass at a shopping mall in Tyler, Texas on Saturday.

Police say Neal killed the former high school basketball and football star in the mall’s parking lot, after arguing with him in a store located inside the mall. The argument appeared to have centered around some “Tweets” sent via the popular social networking site Twitter.

Reports also indicate Neal faces an assault charge after police say he shot at Jonathan Dews of Tyler during the incident, but missed. Bail was set at US$1.25 million for Neal. Early reports indicated Neal and the victim had been involved in an additional altercation before Saturday.

During Neal’s court appearance, the judge appointed local attorney O.M. “Buddy” Lloyd to represent Neal as his public defender. Neal told the judge he was unable to afford to pay an attorney. Neal was actually employed at the Champ’s sporting goods store inside the mall where the argument began, but reportedly he was there as a customer at the time the argument began.


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December 2, 2012

Leaked Syrian government emails indicate weapons supplied to Hamas

Leaked Syrian government emails indicate weapons supplied to Hamas

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

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Emails allegedly hacked from Syrian government accounts, leaked onto the Internet, indicate Iran and Syria are supplying weapons made in Ukraine and Belarus to Hamas in Palestine.

One of the leaked letters from the Syrian Embassy in Tehran, requesting Iranian tourist visas for the Syrian Ambassador’s brother and son, who have Romanian citizenship.
Image: Syrian Embassy.

The online activist group known as Anonymous takes responsibility for the leak, which comprises over 2,000 emails and other files totaling around 1 gigabyte. The leak is part of Anonymous’ ongoing campaign known as ‘#OpSyria’ or ‘Operation Syria’ on the social networking website Twitter.

On Monday at 2030 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), ‘Par:AnoIA,’ one of many Twitter accounts connected to Anonymous, stated that the group would “release a stash of Syrian Government emails in the next 24h, featuring Kofi Annan correspondence, cash & weapon deliveries.” Three hours later the same user announced a leak of “1 Gigabyte [of] internal emails from [the] Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs” onto the internet.

The first email leaked was called a “teaser”, from the Syrian embassy in Tehran on November 20, to the British embassy in Belarus. In the communique, the embassy confirms the Iranians are supplying helicopters and Ukrainian made weapons to Hamas, which operates mostly from the Gaza Strip in Palestine. “1.2D projectiles of Ukraine origin found in Egypt and Syria” are some of the weapons being sent to Palestine along with “EC725 Helicopters“.

“Since 2008 Iran is the main transit point for Palestine armament”, says the email. It also goes on to say the weapons are made in Ukraine as part of “2008 arms trade operations sanctioned by The [Ukrainian] Minister of Defense Anatoly Gritsenko.

Although evidence could suggest Iran’s willingness to supply arms to Hamas, in a report compiled on November 2, by the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Iran is trying to stop weapons from being sent into Syria for the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The report quotes Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei, who called for the FSA “to lay down their arms to be able to deliver their demands to the Syrian government.”((ar)) In regards to the civil war in Syria, Khamenei went on to say that if outside entities “were to provide the opponents in every country of weapons from outside the country, it is natural that the regime responds to opponents”((ar)).

This is not the first time Anonymous has hacked into Syrian government email accounts. In February, the group hacked into 78 Syrian government email accounts and leaked the usernames and passwords associated with them. The accounts accessed reportedly belonged to aides of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. One of the leaked emails, allegedly written by a press aide at Syria’s mission at the UN in New York named Sheherazad Jaafari, talks about Assad’s preparation for a December 2011 television interview with ABC NewsBarbara Walters. In it, Jaafari wrote about ways the Syrian president might be able to manipulate the television audience.

“The American audience doesn’t really care about reforms. They won’t understand it and they are not interested to do so…. American Psyche can be easily manipulated when they hear that there are ‘mistakes’ done and now we are ‘fixing it.’ … Its[sic] worth mentioning also what is happening now in Wall Street [Occupy Wall Street] and the way the demonstrations are been suppressed by police men, police dogs and beatings,” wrote Jaafari.



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October 5, 2012

Obama, Romney spar in first 2012 U.S. presidential debate

Obama, Romney spar in first 2012 U.S. presidential debate

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Friday, October 5, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney sparred Wednesday evening during the first of three presidential debates leading up to the 2012 election.

Barack Obama
Mitt Romney
Barack Obama (left) and Mitt Romney.
Image: U.S. Dept. of Defense and Gage Skidmore.

According to Nielson, approximately 67.2 million people tuned in to the 90-minute debate moderated by Jim Lehrer of PBS as President Obama, the Democratic nominee, and Romney, the Republican nominee, exchanged jabs on domestic policy and the U.S. economy. Viewership increased 28% from the first 2008 presidential debate, which had an audience of about 52.4 million people.

Mitt Romney, during the debate, mentioned children’s television show character Big Bird in discussing federal subsidies of public broadcasting, propelling the character to online popularity. Romney stated he would end subsidies to PBS, a U.S. public television network, saying, “I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too, Jim [Lehrer].” He continued, saying he would “not […] keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.” Twitter, a social networking site, announced a maximum of 17,000 mentions of Big Bird per second. President Obama said on Thursday, “I just want to make sure I’ve got this straight: He’ll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he’s going to crack down on ‘Sesame Street.’ Thank goodness somebody’s finally cracking down on Big Bird! Who knew that he was responsible for all these deficits! Elmo‘s got to watch out!”

According to a poll conducted by CBS News, 46% of the 500 uncommitted respondents believed Romney won the debate; 22% of respondents believed President Obama won the debate and 32% believed it was a tie. In the same poll, 56% of respondents held a more favorable opinion of Romney following the debate, while 11% expressed a poorer opinion and 32% did not change their opinion of the Republican. Of the respondents, 13% viewed President Obama more favorably, while 17% viewed him less favorably and 69% indicated they did not change their opinion.

Wednesday evening’s debate was the first in a series of three presidential debates as part of the 2012 election. President Obama and Romney are to spar again in New York on October 16 and in Florida on October 22. One vice-presidential debate, between Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Joe Biden, is to be held on October 11 in Kentucky.



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