Day: August 12, 2017

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Veterans group sues Pentagon for not protecting private military records of millions of troops…


A veterans organization is suing the Pentagon for exposing private details about troops’ military service on “a truly massive scale” due to lax security on one of its websites.

The lawsuit filed by Vietnam Veterans of America charges that that a Defense Department website “is currently exposing private details about the military service of millions of veterans to anybody at all, anonymously, for any purpose.”

The shoddy security measures allow virtually anyone to access sensitive data about veterans’ records by typing in a name and date of birth, which are easily available on the internet. This gives “easy access to information about essentially all veterans or service members in the system” and thus violates the Federal Privacy Act, alleges the suit, which was filed last week in federal court in New York.

Defendants are…depriving veterans their ability to control who learns sensitive details about their military service.

Vietnam Veterans of America v. Department of Defense

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act website, which according to the Pentagon receives more than 2.3 billion searches a year, is mean to be used by authorized institutions like banks to confirm the active duty status that entitles service members to certain protections.

Instead, the information is available to con artists and scammers who can use it to impersonate government or other officials and gain veterans’ trust by discussing details of their service that only authorized organizations would have.

Thomas Barden, a veteran of the Vietnam War who served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years, found that out firsthand.

The plaintiff in the suit received a call from someone supposedly affiliated with Microsoft in March 2016. Since the caller knew all kinds of personal details about Barden’s military service, Barden thought he was authorized by the government. The scammer convinced him his computer was at risk, and sold him firewall software to protect it. Nine months later, the scammer gained remote access to the computer, locked him out, and threatened to hold his files for ransom unless he paid up.

Worried about data theft, Barden broke the hard drive into pieces and was so concerned about his privacy that he threw them into different trash cans over several days. Since then, he has continued to receive harassing phone calls from the same scammers, causing him “significant anxiety and stress,” according to the lawsuit.

Impostor fraud and identity theft aside, the group says that Vietnam veterans in particular want to keep details of their military record private, having “experienced the sting of rejection and public scorn on account of their service.”

Since they draw a steady, guaranteed income from the government, veterans are an attractive target for scammers. The numbers have increased in recent years, from 58,175 complaints by veterans in 2014 to 69,801 in 2016, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network.

“Veterans are disproportionately targeted by scammers and identity thieves,” Vietnam Veterans of America President John Rowan said in a statement.

The Pentagon “is fueling the problem by leaving veterans’ private information easily accessible on the internet (and) has refused to properly secure veterans’ information,” he said. “We are asking a court to order them to do so.”

The Defense Department has refused to make any changes since being alerted about the problems with the site, the suit says. It points out that the Defense Department could implement a strict user registration or online verification system, which are used by the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

The challenges of protecting the massive databases containing military records are not new. The Department of Veterans Affairs in particular has struggled with privacy issues.

In 2014, a joint Pentagon-VA benefits site had recurring issues with private information about veterans being disclosed to random visitors. The VA was also sued over a serious privacy breach in 2006, after an employee’s laptop was stolen that contained the private data of 26 million soldiers and veterans. The VA settled for $20 million for failing to protect their sensitive data.

In other cases, veterans expecting to receive their own healthcare records opened their mail only to receive hundreds of pages of someone else’s private data.

“I got 256 pages of another person’s extremely confidential, extremely explicit mental health records,” Anthony McCann, a veteran in Tennessee, told a VA town hall in 2014.

The VA is the health provider with the most privacy complaints in the country, racking up 220 complaints between 2011 and 2014 according to a ProPublica analysis. In one case, an employee accessed her husband’s medical records more than 260 times. Another employee shared a veteran’s private health information with his parole officer. In yet another case, a VA employee posted details of a patient’s health records on Facebook after opening them 61 times, according to documents posted by ProPublica.



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GOP candidates make closing argument in final weekend of tight Alabama Senate primary – Who are the Alabama Senate primary candidates?


Republican candidates in the U.S. Senate race in Alabama crisscrossed the state Saturday, hoping to sway undecided voters before the election Tuesday. 

A primary in which a sitting senator is seeking election is typically little more than a formality. But this is not a typical political year, and this is no typical race.

President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are backing GOP Sen. Luther Strange in the special election to fill the seat of Alabama GOP Sen. Jeff Session, who earlier this year became U.S. attorney general. 

Strange, a former state attorney general, was appointed to the seat in February. 

Their support has left four-term GOP Rep. Mo Brooks largely cut off by Washington Republicans in the close, three-way battle that also includes former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

On Saturday, Strange attended the Cleburne County Fair, where he spoke to members of the Heflin First United Methodist Youth Group.

“We have less than 72 hours before Alabama voters head to the polls. So, can I count on you to take some time over the next couple of days to stop by your neighbors and ask them to support our campaign on Tuesday?” Strange asked voters via social media.

Trump’s super PAC reportedly plans to spend as much as $200,000 on digital ads for Strange, in the closing days of race. He also has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

None of the three is expected to get at least 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday, which means the top-two finishers will advance to a runoff in September.

The winner will face the Democratic nominee later this year but will likely win — considering the last time a Democrat was elected senator in Alabama was 1987, when Richard Shelby won, then switched several years later to the Republican Party.

Several polls indicate the race is too close to call, with Brooks garnering national support from conservative groups and Moore appearing to have strong support from grassroots voters, TV stars such as Chuck Norris and evangelicals, including influential faith leader James Dobson.

Brooks on Saturday attended the Baldwin County breakfast, at the Biscuit King, in the town of Fairhope.

Moore’s campaign said the candidate and wife Kayla plan to participate in the traditional horse ride to the polls on Tuesday.

 

 



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Venezuela rejects Trump's talk of 'military option' to resolve political crisis


Venezuela’s government has rejected President Donald Trump’s talk of a potential “military option” to resolve the country’s political crisis.

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, during a meeting with foreign diplomats —  including the U.S. top diplomat in Venezuela, Lee McClenny — called Trump’s talk the most egregious act of belligerence against Venezuela in a century, and said it was a threat to Latin America’s stability.

Speaking to reporters Friday at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, Trump bemoaned Venezuela’s growing humanitarian crisis and declared that all options remain on the table — including a potential military intervention.

“We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option,” volunteered Trump, adding, “A military operation is certainly something that we could pursue.”

Calling Trump the “boss of the empire,” Arreaza accused Washington of seeking to destabilize and divide Latin America and the Caribbean.

He called on “good-minded” Venezuelans to put aside their political differences and unite in rejecting Trump’s comments.

Almost since President Nicolas Maduro took office in 2013, he has been warning of U.S. military designs on Venezuela, home to the world’s largest oil reserves, according to The Associated Press. Maduro also has directed his barbs at Trump, describing him as a crass imperial magnate and accusing him of backing a failed attack on a military base.

Trump’s dramatic escalation in rhetoric seemed to upend carefully crafted U.S. policy that has stressed working with regional partners to increase pressure on Maduro, who has been consolidating power, plunging the country into chaos. It also contradicted high-level administration officials, including Trump’s own national security adviser, H. R. McMaster, who had warned that any perception of U.S. intervention would stir decades’ old resentments and play into Maduro’s hands.

The White House also denied that the president’s comments would make Vice President Mike Pence’s task more difficult when he arrives Sunday in Cartagena, Colombia, on Venezuela’s doorstep.

“The president is sending the vice president to South and Central America to deliver a very clear message both to our partners in the region and to the Maduro regime. The president and the vice president have discussed the trip in depth and are totally aligned on the president’s message to Venezuela and Latin America overall,” said Pence’s spokesman, Jarrod Agen.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 



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Tips lead to arrest of MS-13 gang member on FBI Ten Most Wanted list


An MS-13 gang member on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list has been captured in Virginia after a four-year manhunt, authorities announced Saturday.

Walter Yovany Gomez, an illegal immigrant from Honduras, was arrested without incident Friday in Woodbridge, 20 miles south of Washington, as a result of a well-coordinated investigation and tips from the public, the FBI said.

“The apprehension of Walter Yovany Gomez is a prime example of the close coordination between the vigilant public and the hard working men and women of law enforcement,” Timothy Gallagher, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Newark Office, said. “Gomez will now stand trial for his alleged involvement in a brutal murder which took a young man from his family.”

He faces extradition to New Jersey where he was indicted on a charge of committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering. The FBI added his name to its Ten Most Wanted list in April.

Gomez, who goes by the nickname “Cholo,” is accused of killing a fellow MS-13 gang member Julio Matute in Plainfield in 2011.

Prosecutors say that after a night of partying Gomez and an accomplice beat Matute with a baseball bat, stabbed him 17 times with a knife and then slit his throat with a screwdriver.

MS-13’S MOST WANTED: THE VIOLENT GANGSTERS THE FEDS WANT BEHIND BARS

Matute was killed on suspicion that he and members of a rival gang were getting too close.

When police tried to arrest Gomez he jumped out a second-story window and escaped.

Gomez’ cohort, who was also an MS-13 member, was caught and convicted.

Gomez was featured in an Aug. 1 FoxNews.com story on the most violent MS-13 gang members being sought by the feds.

President Trump condemned MS-13 in an appearance in July on Long Island where 17 murders have been attributed to the gang since Jan. 1, 2016.

“They kidnap. They extort. They rape and they rob,” Trump said. “They stomp on their victims. They beat them with clubs, they slash them with machetes, and they stab them with knives. They have transformed peaceful parks and beautiful quiet neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields. They’re animals.”

  



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DEADLY DAY IN VIRGINIA: One dead, 19 hurt after car rams into crowd of protesters at white supremacist rally


At least one person was killed and 19 others were injured Saturday when a car rammed into a group of counter-protesters during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer tweeted that he was “heartbroken that a life has been lost here” and urged “all people of good will [to] go home.”

WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES AND LANGUAGE

Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran told the Associated Press that the driver of the car, a man, was in custody. Moran did not provide the driver’s name.

Matt Korbon, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student, told the Associated Press several hundred counter-protesters were marching when “suddenly there was just this tire screeching sound.” A silver Dodge Challenger smashed into another car, then backed up, barreling through “a sea of people.”

The impact hurled people into the air. Those left standing scattered, screaming and running for safety in different directions.

The crash occurred approximately two hours after clashes in which hundreds of people scramed, chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other ahead of the scheduled noon demonstration. 

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency, which city officials said allowed them to request additional resources to respond to the clashes expected between hundreds of white supremacists and those opposing them. 

Before the car crash, local authorities said that just one person had been arrested and eight people had been treated for injuries.

Right-wing blogger Jason Kessler had planned what he called a “pro-white” rally to protest Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a city park.

Oren Segal, who directs the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said multiple white power groups had gathered in Charlottesville, including members of neo-Nazi organizations, racist skinhead groups and Ku Klux Klan factions.

“We anticipated this event being the largest white supremacist gathering in over a decade,” Segal said. “Unfortunately, it appears to have become the most violent as well.”

The white nationalist organizations Vanguard America and Identity Evropa; the Southern nationalist League of the South; the National Socialist Movement; the Traditionalist Workers Party; and the Fraternal Order of Alt Knights also were on hand, he said, along with several groups with a smaller presence.

Kessler said this week that the rally is partly about the removal of Confederate symbols but also about free speech and “advocating for white people.”

“This is about an anti-white climate within the Western world and the need for white people to have advocacy like other groups do,” he said in an interview.

Clashes also broke out Friday night, when hundreds of white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus carrying torches. A university spokesman said one person was arrested and several people were injured. The school announced on Saturday that it would be canceling all scheduled events and programming today. They said the medical center would be open.

President Donald Trump condemned “in the strongest possible terms” what he called an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” after the clashes. He called for “a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.”

First Lady Melania Trump also tweeted: “Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville.”

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted shortly after Trump: “I stand with @POTUS against hate & violence. U.S. is greatest when we join together & oppose those seeking to divide us. #Charlottesville”

The Speaker of the House Paul Ryan also tweeted, condemning the protests. “The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant,” Ryan tweeted. “Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry.”

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer tweeted before Trump’s reaction: “March & rally in Charlottesville against everything the flag stands for. President Trump must condemn in strongest terms immediately.”

The NHL’s Detroit Red Wings released a statement Saturday denouncing the user of their logo at the rally and that they are considering legal action to stop it.

The team said it “vehemently” disagrees with and is not associated with the event.”

A Michigan-based white nationalist group called the Detroit Right Wings uses the Red Wings’ logo.

Signer said he was disappointed that the white nationalists had come to his town and blamed President Donald Trump for inflaming racial prejudices during his campaign last year.

“I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in American today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president.”

Saturday’s violence was the latest confrontation in Charlottesville since the city voted earlier this year to remove the Lee statue.

In May, a torch-wielding group that included prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer gathered around the statue for a nighttime protest, and in July, about 50 members of a North Carolina-based KKK group traveled there for a rally, where they were met by hundreds of counter-protesters.

The city has also renamed Lee Park, where the statue stands, and Jackson Park, named after Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. They are now called Emancipation Park and Justice Park, respectively. 

A group called the Monument Fund filed a lawsuit arguing that removing the statue would violate a state law governing war memorials. A judge has agreed to a temporary injunction that blocks the city from removing the statue for six months.

Fox News’ Doug McKelway and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Member of cannibalistic Chicago 'Ripper Crew' to be released next month


A member of the Chicago “Ripper Crew” believed responsible for 20 cult-like mutilation sex slayings three decades ago is on the brink of being paroled, leaving the family of one of the victims shocked and outraged, the Chicago Tribune reports.

“He doesn’t deserved to be treated like a human being for the stuff he did to my sister and all the families and the women,” Mark Borowski said of Thomas Kokoraleis, 57. “It’s just sickening. He has no business living.”

Kokoraleis is due to be paroled Sept 29 after serving half of a 70-year sentence for the rape and satanic ritual torture killing of 21-year-old Lorry Ann Borowski in 1982, the paper reported Friday.

Kokoraleis, his brother and two other men were part of a satanic gang that drove around in a red van looking for lone women to kidnap, beat, rape, torture and kill, according to the paper.

They cut off their victims’ breasts often while the women were still alive, as part of cannibalistic, sexual rituals.

Andrew Kokoraleis was the last inmate executed in Illinois in 1999.

Crew member Edward Spreitzer, 56, is ineligible for parole.

Crew ringleader Robin Gecht, 63, has a parole date in 2042.

Prosecutors are fighting to keep Kokoraleis behind bars.

They are expected to ask a judge to label Kokoraleis a sexually violent person that would keep him locked up beyond his parole date under a 1998 civil commitment law, the paper reported.

Kokoraleis was found guilty of killing Borowski but the conviction was overturned due to a legal error, the Tribune reported.

He pleaded guilty in 1987 in exchange for the 70-year sentence but is only required to serve half his sentence under Illinois sentencing guidelines.

Kokoraleis was also accused of killing Linda Sutton, a 26-year-old mother of a 9-year-old boy and a 1-year-old girl, but the charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.

Sutton was killed in 1981 a year before Borowski. Her mutilated body was found in a field in suburban Chicago.

“We were cheated out of a life with our mother,” her son, Antone Sutton, told the Tribune. “If the Lord is willing, we want to keep him locked up the rest of his life. If he gets out, where is he going to go? Is he still going to roam the streets?”



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Chris Pratt-Anna Faris split: Prenups not just for rich and famous?


Hollywood sweethearts Chris Pratt and Anna Faris announced via social media this week that they are legally separating after eight years of marriage.

Legal experts told FOX News that if the pair didn’t have a prenuptial agreement in place a divorce could be a “financial disaster.”

And while “prenups” are often thought to be just for the rich and famous, 62% of divorce attorneys from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers have seen an increase in the pre-wedding legal document over the past few years. 

This comes as, according to the National Center for Health Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, marriages lasting “happily ever after” seem to be on the decline. Divorce rates for adults ages 50 and older has roughly doubled over the past 25 years, and for those married couples younger than 50 it is about twice as high.

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Mary Gurganus, founder and managing partner at Triangle Divorce Lawyers, said with that being the case, it makes sense for all couples – not just the wealthy — to consider getting a prenup before saying “I do.” It can cost as little as $800, and run into the thousands, depending upon the complexity of the issues, according to DivorceLawfirms.com. While without a prenup, you could stand to lose a lot more if and when your bliss takes a turn for the unexpected.

Gurganus discussed what you need to know about prenups with FOX Business.

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Boomer: What is broken down on a prenuptial agreement?

Gurganus: A premarital agreement means an agreement between prospective spouses which is entered into before the marriage and which goes into effect on the date of marriage.  It is a contract that states what is “his,” “hers” and “theirs.”

Prenups identify who owns the assets and debts, and may dictate financial support such as alimony.  It can dictate the amount of time a party will remain in the home once someone asks for a separation. It also provides clarification about the assets and debts if one spouse dies. 

In order to be enforceable, the parties need to provide a fair and reasonable disclosure of assets or agree to waive the disclosure. We recommend disclosure, and list the assets and large debts with their approximate values in exhibits and attach them to the prenup. The prenup also must not be too shockingly unfair to one party, for instance, waiving reasonable alimony when a spouse then would qualify for public assistance.

Boomer: Who needs a prenup?

Gurganus: Prenups are most beneficial to engaged couples who have children from a prior marriage, in order to continue to protect their assets for their children’s future. Prenups are also beneficial for someone who owns a business, whether it is a family-run business or one started before the marriage, in order to maintain the autonomy of the business and not have the other spouse gain ownership interest solely because of the marriage.

Boomer: When is the right time to get a prenup?

Gurganus: I have seen prenups done a few months in advance to just before the ceremony! If the parties do not have a prenup prior to getting married, there is another option.  After the wedding date, the couple can enter into a post-nuptial agreement.



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'MEET ITS TRAGIC DOOM' NoKo says it's 'on standby to launch' in new warning


North Korea took its turn Saturday in the country’s escalating, back-and-fourth with President Trump, with the state-run newspaper saying leader Kim Jung Un’s revolutionary army is “capable of fighting any war the U.S. wants.”

The assertion was made in an editorial that also states the Paektusan army is now “on the standby to launch fire into its mainland, waiting for an order of final attack.”

The editorial also argues that the United States “finds itself in an ever worsening dilemma, being thrown into the grip of extreme security unrest by the DPRK. This is tragicomedy of its own making. … If the Trump administration does not want the American empire to meet its tragic doom in its tenure, they had better talk and act properly.”

DPRK stands for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The editorial appears to be in response to a series of comments made by Trump in recent days, most recently Friday that the United States is “locked and loaded.” 

The president’s recent comments are in response to Kim threatening a missile attack on U.S. territory Guam.

Trump, meanwhile, continues to pursue a diplomatic solution to North Korea’s purported development of a nuclear warhead that could reach the United States and other countries on an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The White House says Trump has a phone conversation Friday with Chinese President Xi Jinping in which the leaders reiterated their commitment to the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The president also saluted Xi for China’s recent United Nations vote to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea, in response the country’s escalating pursuit of nuclear weapons, according to the White House.

As the crisis has unfolded, Trump has alternated praising China for its help and chiding it for not doing more.

The White House says Trump also told Xi he looked forward to seeing him in China later this year.

During Trump’s phone conversation Friday with Xi, the Chinese leader also requested that the U.S. and North Korea tone down their recent rhetoric and avoid actions that could worsen tensions between the two nations, Chinese Central Television reported.

“At present, the relevant parties must maintain restraint and avoid words and deeds that would exacerbate the tension on the Korean Peninsula,” Xi was quoted as saying.

Trump has urged China to pressure North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program, which North Korea says is nearing the capability of targeting the United States.

China is the North’s biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can’t compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.

Trump also spoke this weekend with Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo, reassuring him that U.S. military forces stand ready to ensure the safety and security of the U.S. territory, a White House statement said.

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Saturday to do “everything, to the best of my ability,” to protect his nation’s people as tensions escalate over North Korea’s plans to send missiles over Japan toward Guam.

On Friday, Japan’s Defense Ministry said it was deploying four surface-to-air Patriot interceptors in western Japan to respond to a possible risk of fragments falling from missiles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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OMAROSA WALKS OUT Trump aide leaves police brutality panel after uproar


Omarosa Manigualt walked out of a panel at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in New Orleans Friday night after it devolved into chaos as attendees turned their back on the Trump administration aide and “Apprentice” star in protest.

Manigault took part in a panel discussion on police brutality, engaged in angry exchanges with moderator Ed Gordon and then walked off the stage in disgust, according to reports.

Attendees tweeted photos showing people standing with their backs turned to Manigault as she spoke.

She talked about the murders of her father and brother but things went south when Gordon of Bounce TV asked her about what she was doing to advocate on behalf of blacks and Trump’s recent comments on policing in which he seemed to be encouraging police brutality, according to The Associated Press.

Gordon stepped toward Manigault as he questioned her. She accused Gordon of being “aggressive.”

“When you have someone in the room, you don’t beat the hell out of them,” she told a packed ballroom. “You inform them of what’s going on in the community so they can be an advocate. You don’t walk away from the table because if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

TMZ posted video shot as Gordon and Manigault got into it.

Manigault interrupted Gordon as he tried to ask her how she could sit in “a White House with a man who clearly is sending a signal to this country that” police don’t have to treat suspects gently.

“I did my best to keep this civil as possible,” Gordon said after Manigualt said she didn’t want to hear the question.

“If you want to ask about the loss of my father and my brother and the issues I do, ask about my story,” she said. “I’m not going to stand here and defend every single word and statement. Ask questions about me or my father and brother.”

Pressed on Trump’s comments and the topic of policing, Manigault said, “It’s not even part of my portfolio,” The New York Times reported.

“I’m not going to stand here and defend everything about Donald Trump,” she said, according to the paper, adding that the remark was greeted with loud sighs.

Two would-be panelists, reporters from The New York Times and the New Yorker dropped out when Manigault was added to the panel at the last minute, according to a report Friday.

Manigualt walked off the stage when Gordon said it was a “quagmire” that had “reached the point of diminished returns,” according to The Times.

He ended the event by joking, “I’ll see y’all at the White House Christmas Party in December” the paper reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Truth about 'The Graduate'


When Burt Ward took on the role of sidekick Robin for the DC comic show “Batman,” he had no idea it would become an instant phenomenon that still attracts fans over 50 years later.

Ward and Adam West, who played Batman, fought crime in Gotham City from 1966 until 1968 on ABC. “Batman” became a major hit, but the role wasn’t without its faults. At times, it got in the way for Ward. 

“I was filming at 20th Century Fox, and I was approached by [producer] Larry Turman to do this film,” he recalled. “We were on a break after finishing that first season. I figured, it’s the same studio, it’s not going to interfere with ‘Batman.’ I can’t imagine the studio wouldn’t let me do it.”

However, Ward received an unwanted surprise.

“The studio said ‘[ABC] doesn’t want you to do it… We’ve got the hottest show on television, and we don’t want to dilute you doing something else, so you can’t do it,’” said Ward. “I was really dejected. I thought I should do this. So I called Larry and… I told him I wanted to do it so badly, but I can’t. He said, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s a small movie.’ By the way, the name of the movie was ‘The Graduate.’ When they couldn’t get me, they got another young actor name Dustin Hoffman.”

“The Graduate” told the story of a disillusioned college graduate who’s seduced by lonely housewife Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), but finds himself also falling in love with her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). It premiered in 1967 and it went on to earn $104 million, which roughly translates to $740 million today.

Despite the professional setback, Ward has no regrets.

“I’ve had an incredible life,” he said. “I wouldn’t change anything.”

Ward told Fox News in June that he and West became partners in crime off-camera. He revealed from the moment they met at a screen test for “Batman,” they became fast friends — and that friendship would last for over 50 years.

West died on June 9 at age 88 in Los Angeles after a short battle with leukemia.

“Nothing ever changed,” Ward said of their friendship. “We were exactly the same after the first three minutes we met. We were both very fun-loving people and got along so well. We were such good friends that when we weren’t filming, we would occasionally go out on the weekends and play tennis… He was everything off stage that he was on screen. He was such a wonderful man.”

Over the years, Ward has kept busy running Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions with his wife Tracy. They also developed Gentle Giants Dog Food. The funds they receive from selling their own brand of dog food goes directly to supporting the animals.



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