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DIMON: RICH AND POWERFUL SHOULDN'T BE VILIFIED FOR BEING SUCCESSFUL…


JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon has been used as a political punching bag for progressive democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The billionaire leader of America’s largest bank says he understands why he’s in their sights, but tells Lesley Stahl he doesn’t deserve some of the harsher criticism lobbed at him, especially accusations that he’s not a patriot. Stahl’s interview with Dimon will be featured on the next edition of 60 Minutes, Sunday, November 10 at 7 p.m., ET/PT on CBS.  
 
“I understand that a person in this seat is going to be targeted in this day and age by certain politicians… but the notion that I’m not a patriot… that’s just dead wrong,” says Dimon.    
 
In the interview conducted Friday, Dimon says his critics shouldn’t be vilifying people who work hard to accomplish things. “You know, most people are good, not all of them. You should vilify Nazis, but you shouldn’t vilify people who worked hard to accomplish things. And so my comment is, American society – we’re just attacking each other all the time.”
 
In the wide-ranging interview, Dimon also discusses the U.S. economy, the president’s trade policy and Wall Street’s role in the Great Recession.

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.



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Inside sex robot factory that is churning out 'hyper-realistic' dolls…


A sex robot giant is set to make human-like dolls in a factory that looks like “something out of Westworld”.

Silicone Lovers told Daily Star Online it is eyeing the production of AI girlfriends that boast “hyper-realism”.

This includes humanoid movement, voice recognition and sensors that respond to human touch.

But incredibly, the company says the production factory resembles a scene from HBO’s popular fictional show Westworld.

In the drama, human visitors interact with robots in a designed world where they can play out their fantasies.

And Louie Love, co-founder of Silicone Lovers, says it will be producing sex robots in a factory that looks like this.

Silicone Lovers is producing human-like sex robots

Louie told Daily Star Online: “We’re learning more about their robotics and AI and plan to introduce some higher tech models to our range in 2020.

“We also plan to work with another love doll manufacturer who are also leading the pack in the robotics department, with workshops that look like something out of Westworld.

The company sells a range of sex robots with different face and body types

“Both companies have a focus on hyperrealism, AI and actual robotic movement.

“They have voice recognition, eye and neck movement, mouths that sync with speaking, built in sensors to react to touch, internal heating and a fully articulated skeleton which can stand.

“They can also carry on a basic conversation with you and are equipped with AI learning technology to improve and remember conversations.

“Most of our customers are still on the fence when it comes to AI in its current form.

One robot factory looks like ‘something out of Westworld’

“They are very curious and interested in the advances, but most are holding out until it really improves.

“In a way it can be more magical to fantasise and give your doll its own voice rather than one created in a robotic accent that says things other people have initially programmed.”

The company says it will work with a company in China, and expects a huge AI financial boom.

Louie adds: “We have recently partnered with an AI Tech company based in Shenzhen, which is the world’s hot bed for technology right now.

Silicone Lovers will work with a company in China

“China’s government is heavily backing many of these AI companies, estimating it will be worth £114bnbillion to the country by 2030.”

It comes amid fierce competition among sex robot companies for customers.

We recently revealed how Cloud Climax plans to produce a sex robot that breathes using an “AI chest cavity”.

That follows the release of its flagship Emma model, that the company promises will one day rival human conversation by memorising your personality.



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Monkeys share human bed, wear clothes and live in house like married couple…


Two monkeys in Malaysia are living together like a married couple, going to restaurants and sleeping in a human bed.

Male Jk and female Shaki live in Kuala Lumpur, with their owner and animal rescuer Jamil Ismail, where they enjoy all the privileges of domestic life.

The two macaque monkeys are often pictured dressed up in human clothes and taken out to enjoy casual dinner dates together, much to the amusement of passersby.

Jamil, who specialises in rescuing cats, rescued both of the already tame animals from a life chained up in a cage.

Monkey and Jamilkucing off for a drive in the country

He told Malaymail: “Last time in Panang Jaya, there was a nursery selling flowers and they also sold animals and they had a monkey in the cage. I tried to buy it but it was too expensive.

“And then one day when the business went bankrupt, they just released the monkey.

“I was coming back from KL early in the morning, and I saw the monkey sitting in the middle of the road, while the cars were passing by on either side.

Monkey and Jamilkucing having a lie in

“I was shocked, so I stopped my motorcycle and I approached him and he didn’t move. So I took him and brought him home. That was JK, he was about one year old at the time. “

It wasn’t long after that Jamil set his mind on finding JK a wife.

Enjoying some recreation time together

“I was thinking ahead, sure I’m not married but the monkey needs it,” he recalled. “So I looked for a partner.

“I called my ex-teacher in Perak and asked if there was anyone looking to sell a female monkey and he said yes.

“So I went there and bought Shaki and she’s about the same age also. And they’ve both been with me for nine years already.”

Killing time surfing the internet

But getting the monkeys to adjust to life as a married couple wasn’t easy and it took time to get them used to modern life in a human household.

Married life was also a struggle, but after four-years the pair settled into a more civilised routine.

Jamil said: “Those were the years that they really gave me a headache. It’s like children, yes, but 10 times worse. My whole house was destroyed, I go to Bukit Bintang and they’ll open their cage.

Having a couple’s night out at a restaurant

“Everything in my house is upside down, everything in the fridge they will take out, I used to have an aquarium and the fish would end up on the floor.

“But that was just three to four years but after that they became obedient.”

As for those who say dressing monkeys up like humans is cruel Jamil says he does it so people respect them more.

Off on a sight-seeing exhibition

“When people are angry and curse at someone else, they always call them monkey or pig. Why must you say that?” Kamil said. “So I dress (JK and Shaki) up because I don’t want people to see them as the lowest class beings in the world.

“I don’t want people to treat my monkeys as humans, even though a lot of them do, but at least respect them even if they’re animals.”

As well as letting them watch tv, surf the internet, go on sightseeing trips and sleep in a proper human bed together, Jamil changes their clothes and nappies daily.

Chilling at home waiting for the game to start

These cute furry creatures may seem harmless but they can be aggressive and harbour deadly diseases like rabies and herpes.

Macaques in the wild are known to be opportunist thieves and can even gang up and be aggressive to humans.

Their destructive instincts have even been known to drive humans from their own homes.

And so to bed again…



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Engineer trio of opportunities…


WASHINGTON – It’s rare in politics to get a second chance, let alone a third, at making a first impression. But that is the opportunity presented to House Democrats in the week ahead, as they take their impeachment inquiry public, searching for a much sharper focus than previous oversight hearings that tended to backfire.

The House Intelligence Committee, in a pair of hearings with career diplomats, hopes to do what other panels have failed to do in their previous attempts at high-profile investigations of President Trump: deliver a dramatic rendering of the facts that are easily understood by the average voter and make clear how those actions represent abuses of power that are considered high crimes and misdemeanors.

Having learned lessons about those previous mistakes, Democrats fashioned the resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry to address several procedural hiccups that they believe will make these new hearings more dramatic. And, more broadly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has recently begun to hold weekly huddles with the Democrats who are most often on TV news shows talking about the investigation. The purpose is to work on message and drive home the importance of keeping the focus on Trump’s actions and not getting distracted by side characters, such as the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.


So far, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the Intelligence Committee, has won accolades from Democrats for an approach that is getting three bites of the media apple with each witness. First, Schiff and two other committees conducting the investigations brought them behind closed doors for depositions – some portions of which got leaked. Then, over the past week, the committees publicly released the transcripts of key witnesses, confirming what had already leaked and revealing new damaging information. And now every committee member will be fully prepped for televised hearings in the weeks ahead.

“I think the pace is good: slow enough to prepare responsibly but fast enough to stay in harmony with the public’s interest in the subject,” said Loch K. Johnson, an oversight expert who once served on the Senate’s Church Committee in the 1970s that investigated CIA abuses.

Johnson has previously urged congressional committees to slow down so that they do not miss key details. But this investigation is exploring actions taking place in almost real time regarding Trump’s summertime bid to pressure Ukraine officials into investigating his domestic political rivals while withholding nearly $400 million in security aid to the longtime U.S. ally.


These new hearings will look and feel different from other hearings, first and foremost because there are just 13 Democrats and nine Republicans on Schiff’s committee.

In recent months, the Judiciary Committee, with more than 40 members, has held the highest-profile hearings, performances that soured fellow Democrats on that panel’s ability to lead investigations into the president.

In September, Judiciary Democrats called Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first 2016 campaign manager and still a presidential confidant, to answer questions about his role in the president’s push to get someone to fire the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in the early days of his investigation. With so many committee members trying to rush their questions into a small time frame, Lewandowski filibustered and verbally danced around most of the hearing.

That came after the same panel’s late July hearing with Mueller, a much-hyped affair four months after he filed his report on Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 campaign to Trump’s benefit. Democrats told reporters Mueller would “bring to life” his complicated 400-plus-page report, hoping the whispers were wrong that, about to turn 75, he would not be the same witness he was last decade when he was FBI director.

Mueller’s performance was uneven. A majority of House Democrats backed moving toward impeachment proceedings on the Russia case, but Pelosi remained defiant against such a move – until the Ukraine controversy broke into the open and allowed Pelosi to push that probe into the more manageable Intelligence Committee.

Each member of that panel is handpicked by Pelosi, providing a smaller group that includes what she believes are her sharpest Democrats.

Republicans have mocked the entire process as a “Soviet-style” investigation, in the words of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., because so much happened in an underground secure room in the Capitol Visitor Center. But they have also tacitly admitted that Schiff’s team has been effective by their effort to reshuffle their committee membership ahead of Wednesday’s kickoff hearing with William B. Taylor Jr., the top U.S. diplomat in Kyiv.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., in five years as the Intelligence Committee’s top Republican, has been uneven at public hearings. So GOP leaders shifted Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and his top staff onto the panel to be one of their lead questioners, because he is viewed as a more forceful interrogator of witnesses.

Democrats, however, believe they have fixed a few wrinkles governing the impeachment inquiry, which will mitigate any impact of Jordan’s aggressive style. First, as they reviewed the Mueller hearing, Republicans overwhelmed Democrats with a bunch of procedural complaints and demanded votes at the outset, turning the opening into a spectacle.

Now, if Nunes and Jordan try that Wednesday, those points of order will be piled up and voted on at the end of the hearing, allowing the witnesses to get started sooner.

Also, the first 90 minutes of the hearing are given over to Schiff and then Nunes, equally divided, for questions, without interruption, rather than just the five-minute rounds that other committees use. This will give Schiff time to draw out Taylor and his predecessor, Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted from Kyiv after complaints from Trump and Giuliani.

Also, Schiff’s counsel will be allowed to ask questions at the front end of the hearing, correcting a mistake from the Lewandowski hearing, when the Judiciary counsel was allowed to ask questions only at the end. That portion of the hearing revealed new facts from Lewandowski, but because it came at the end of a marathon session, it drew little notice.

Johnson, who is now a professor emeritus at the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs, said Schiff has set the process up to lay out the case.

“The American viewing public will be left to decide on the merits of the impeachment case, filtered through media analyses and the conclusions reached by various opinion leaders – nationally, locally, and within families, which is how democracy is supposed to work,” Johnson said.



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Bombs at Box…


Home Movies Box Office: WW2 Throwback “Midway” Bombs, “The Shining” Sequel “Dr. Sleep” Snoozes,…


As predicted, this is not a great box office weekend. It should be, this is counting down six weeks to Christmas. This used to be prime movie releasing time. But with Netflix eating up the quality product, and “The Irishman”– our putative Best Picture– in just a few odd theaters, this is a weird season.

“The Shining” sequel called “Dr. Sleep” is in such deep repose as to almost be dead. Tracking indicated maybe a $25 million opening weekend. But with $5 million Friday night (including $925K on Thursday), the total weekend looks at $15 million maybe. Ouch.

Then there’s “Last Christmas,” which seems so…last Christmas, took in $4 million Friday and will be regifted to airplanes soon.

The WW2 adventure that no one wanted, “Midway,” has bombed and crashed, and will sputter to an ignominious end. A total of $6.4 mil for Friday (including Thursday previews) for a $125 million extravaganza is a major disappointment. Maybe somewhere around the globe it will find an audience of Nick Jonas fans.

I’ve hesitated to look again at “Jojo Rabbit.” But it’s not a popular movie. Last night Fox Searchlight jacked up the number of theaters to 802 and made just $1.13 million. I can’t imagine what the word of mouth is, but this lack of enthusiasm is an indication. “Jojo Rabbit” will not make the Best Picture category, which so far includes “The Irishman,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Two Popes,” “Marriage Story,” “Little Women,” maybe “1917,” possibly “Joker,” with a slot left for an indie film, or possibly, “Dolemite.”

Author

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News. He writes for Parade magazine and has written for Details, Vogue, the New York Times, Post, and Daily News and many other publications. He is the writer and co-producer of “Only the Strong Survive,” a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals.



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Freed From Jail, Lula Says Ready to Fight in Latin America…


(Bloomberg) — Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has pledged to travel around Latin America offering support for leftist leaders at a moment when the region is engulfed by growing political turmoil.

“I’m finally free and willing to fight,” Lula said in a video message that was broadcast at the Puebla Group’s meeting in Buenos Aires on Saturday. “I’m willing to walk across Brazil and travel around Latin America” said the 74-year-old politician, who walked out of jail on Friday following a top court decision that reversed rules for imprisoning convicts.

In a three-minute message, Lula bashed Latin America’s elite and defended focusing on jobs and income distribution in order to improve life quality in the region. Argentina’s President-elect Alberto Fernandez “can do that and be an example to other countries,” he said.

The Puebla Group, which is a body created in July that brings together left-wing leaders from the region, is discussing priorities for Latin America during a meeting this weekend. Former presidents such as Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, Uruguay’s Jose Mujica, Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo and Spain’s Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero are some of its higher-profile members.

To contact the reporters on this story: Vinícius Andrade in São Paulo at vandrade3@bloomberg.net;Jorgelina do Rosario in Buenos Aires at jdorosario@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brad Olesen at bolesen3@bloomberg.net, Matthew G. Miller, Tony Czuczka

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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REX REED: Shia LaBeouf 'HONEY BOY' Is 94 Minutes of Misery…


Honey Boy.

Noah Jupe in Honey Boy. Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Honey Boy is a dolorous example of an alarming trend in modern movies—the miraculous ability of an infinitesimal talent to raise money for an obnoxious, self-indulgent film about his own life designed to appeal to absolutely nobody except the arrogant subject himself. In this instance, the jerky centerpiece in love with himself to the detriment of everyone in the audience is Shia LaBeouf.

SEE ALSO: In ‘The Etruscan Smile,’ Brian Cox Raises Familiar Material Above and Beyond Mediocrity

Here is an egomaniac famous for nothing more than making silly faces, wearing absurd hairstyles and acting too bizarre to adequately describe. I have never seen him on the screen in anything worth writing home about, although I almost got to see him onstage with Alec Baldwin in a Broadway revival of Orphans before he was fired in rehearsals for what the producer called “erratic, unprofessional behavior.”


HONEY BOY ★
(1/4 stars)
Directed by: Alma Har’el
Written by: Shia LaBeouf
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe
Running time: 94 mins.


Now we get his attempt to perhaps explain why he’s made a career out of amateurish antics. Apparently he never had a chance. In the screenplay he has written about his turbulent childhood, he calls himself Otis, a stressed out, self-made egomaniac in need of anger management who hopscotches back and forth in various time zones at two different ages—first as a 22-year-old actor (remarkable Lucas Hedges, who, as the only sane person in the cast, seems to be in a completely different movie) hospitalized after a car crash resulting from a dumb action-movie stunt. Flat on his back, he remembers himself at age 12 (Noah Jupe) living with the cruel, demented, abusive father he calls James (played by LaBeouf himself in a Cuisinart-chopped recipe for human incoherence). The rest of the movie follows suit to the letter.

The father is an opioid-addicted, ex-rodeo clown with a prison record and a long history of rehab stints. After serving three years for rape, he found religion and tried to raise his son while working the highway as a trash collector.

Under the undisciplined, first narrative-feature direction of Tel Aviv-born Alma Har’el, Honey Boy has no sense of narrative trajectory, jumping all over the place like a spastic bullfrog. LaBeouf doesn’t know how to tell a story in context, so the film evolves in a dizzying series of anecdotal swatches that come across like Ace bandages.

At 12, Otis the child actor sleeps in one room with his father in a crummy motel full of prostitutes. “The only thing my father ever gave me of any value is pain,” he says, and spends his life fighting anyone who tries to take that away. Already an alcoholic and a convicted felon himself as a young adult, he pays his dad to be a combination companion-acting coach-bully. Sometimes he gets punched in the face. Other times he is discovered naked, in the arms of one of the prostitutes. There is no arc. The characters are ambiguous. You can’t fill in the blanks.

Nothing leads up to any kind of logical finale. The last time we see anything of either of them, Otis is telling his father he’s so crazy that some day he’s going to write a movie about him. “Make me look good,” the lunatic says unapologetically. He doesn’t, and we have to endure all the endless suffering the boy can remember for more than an hour of misery. I don’t know about you, but this is not what I go to the movies for. Color it despicable.

Shia LaBeouf’s ‘Honey Boy’ Is 94 Minutes of Misery



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Scaramucci: Trump sees threat…


Former White House communications director Anthony ScaramucciAnthony ScaramucciScaramucci: Trump will be gone by March 2020 Scaramucci hits back after Bullock solicited personal message of praise Scaramucci visits Cohen in prison MORE said late Friday that there is “no question” that Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergBiden brushes off Bloomberg challenge: ‘I’m pretty far ahead’ Bloomberg officially files to run in Alabama presidential primary Saagar Enjeti: Bloomberg 2020 bid would ‘all but ensure a Bernie Sanders victory’ MORE would be “the No. 1 threat” to President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey impeachment witnesses to know as public hearings begin Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren’s agenda Nunes demands Schiff testify behind closed doors in Trump impeachment inquiry MORE should the former New York City mayor enter the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.

“I think the president would be very intimidated by a guy like Michael Bloomberg,” Scaramucci told CNN’s Chris CuomoChristopher (Chris) Charles CuomoSchiff: Trump helped House Republicans plan to storm SCIF NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo uses N-word during radio interview 10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable MORE. “He’s a New Yorker, he could stand the onslaught of the president’s bullying, he’s worth probably five to eight times the president’s net worth, he could spend a fortune defending himself and getting ads up in all areas of the country.”

“And if Mike Bloomberg got the nomination, it’s very clear to me that he would beat Trump,” Scaramucci added, citing the billionaire businessman’s “level of moderation,” “pro-business nature” and “social progressiveness.”

Bloomberg on Friday officially filed as a candidate for the Alabama Democratic presidential primary, signaling the first step in a possible White House run that could shake up the crowded primary field.

If he enters the race, he would directly face off with former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCentrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren’s agenda Nunes demands Schiff testify behind closed doors in Trump impeachment inquiry Chris Hayes and his audience troll Trump: ‘Yes, Read the Transcript!’ MORE and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegCentrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren’s agenda Biden brushes off Bloomberg challenge: ‘I’m pretty far ahead’ Overnight Health Care: CDC links vitamin E oil to vaping illnesses | White House calls Pelosi drug price plan ‘unworkable’ | Dem offers bill for state-based ‘Medicare for All’ MORE, the two leading moderate candidates.

He would also likely become a top target for progressive front-runners Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenCentrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren’s agenda Biden brushes off Bloomberg challenge: ‘I’m pretty far ahead’ Bloomberg officially files to run in Alabama presidential primary MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersCentrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren’s agenda Biden brushes off Bloomberg challenge: ‘I’m pretty far ahead’ Bloomberg officially files to run in Alabama presidential primary MORE (I-Vt.), who have slammed the rich for holding too much power in U.S. politics and have insisted that the wealthiest Americans should pay higher taxes.

Amid speculation that Bloomberg would launch a presidential bid, Trump said Friday that he doesn’t think the former mayor would perform well in the primary. Trump added, however, that he’d like to run against Bloomberg, whom he nicknamed “little Michael.”

“Little Michael will fail. He’ll spend a lot of money. He’s got some really big issues, he’s got some personal problems and he’s got a lot of other problems,” Trump said. “He will not do very well and if he did, I would be happy. There’s nobody I’d rather run against than little Michael.”



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JUDGE JUDY: He can unite 'fractured American family'…


“Judge Judy” Sheindlin made the case for a Michael Bloomberg presidency Friday night during her debut appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” arguing that the billionaire former mayor of New York City — who has filed to run in Alabama’s Democratic primary — is the “only” candidate who can bring civility back to the country.

“We have a fractured American family,” Sheindlin began, adding she believed that while there are people like Maher who despise President Trump, there are also others who “adore” the president. She went on to blast lawmakers on Capitol Hill for their lack of legislating.

JUDGE JUDY ENDORSES FAVORITE FOR PRESIDENT: ‘I AM TAKING A PERSONAL AND CAREER RISK’

“The parties have become so angry with each other that nothing is happening,” Sheindlin, a 77-year-old retired family court judge, whose popular TV show has been airing for nearly 25 years, observed. “The American public is paying for a very expensive system — an executive, a judicial branch of government, and Congress — and we’re not getting anything done.

“The parties have become so angry with each other that nothing is happening … because everybody’s so busy hating each other.”

— “Judge Judy” Sheindlin

“Bridges aren’t getting built, roads aren’t getting fixed, infrastructure isn’t getting done,” she continued, “because everybody’s so busy hating each other.”

“And you think Michael Bloomberg is the answer?” Maher responded.

“He’s the only answer and I’m going to tell you why,” Sheindlin said. “First of all, if you think about it, Michael Bloomberg is the only person running who has over a decade of executive experience running the largest city in the United States.”

Judge Judy Sheindlin's television show has been airing for nearly a quarter-century. (CBS via Getty Images)

Judge Judy Sheindlin’s television show has been airing for nearly a quarter-century. (CBS via Getty Images)

Maher quickly pushed back.

BILL MAHER DEFENDS KATIE HILL, COMPLAINS DEMOCRATS ‘ALWAYS RESIGN’ WHILE REPUBLICANS DON’T

“This is not what people care about,” Maher snapped, referring to Bloomberg’s political experience. “Look at who won last time.”

“I don’t see a big-city Jew exciting the vote in Alabama or a lot of the country,” Maher elaborated. “The election is going to be decided in six states and they’re not named New York. … We’re talking about Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Florida.”

“I don’t see a big-city Jew exciting the vote in Alabama or a lot of the country. The election is going to be decided in six states and they’re not named New York. … We’re talking about Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Florida.”

— Bill Maher

“You know what they’re going to say? That Elizabeth Warren is doing great in the Democratic primary because she is talking about the wealth gap.” On the other hand, Maher added, Bloomberg is “a very rich guy, he’s got a lot of buddies on Wall Street.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“I mean, they’re going to say he’s not the answer and not the fundamental change we need. He doesn’t exactly reek fundamental change in people who don’t like Trump are pissed and they want it.”

“To define Mike Bloomberg as a billionaire is an injustice,” Judge Judy countered, defending Bloomberg. “Mike Bloomberg was the mayor of the city of New York for 12 years and a self-made guy.”



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All eyes on Texas gov as calls grow to halt execution…


AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — In his five years as Texas’ governor, Republican Greg Abbott has overseen the execution of nearly 50 prisoners while only once sparing a condemned man’s life, after a victims’ family asked him to do so.

Full Coverage: Executions

But Abbott — who has proudly referred to the death penalty as “Texas justice” — has never confronted such intense pressure to halt a lethal injection like he is facing in the case of Rodney Reed, who is set to die this month for a 1996 killing despite new evidence that even a growing number of Republican legislators say raises serious questions about his guilt.

On Saturday, supporters of Reed are planning their biggest protest yet outside the governor’s mansion, escalating a public campaign that now counts Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and Oprah Winfrey among the celebrities who have urged Abbott to call off the Nov. 20 execution. So, too, has the European Union’s ambassador to the U.S.

It’s unclear if the public pressure is making any impression on Abbott, who was a law and order state attorney general before he was elected governor. Abbott hasn’t spoken publicly about Reed’s case. Even Republican lawmakers who are close to the governor and have lobbied his office in recent days and weeks for a reprieve say they’re in the dark about his thinking.

“They said the governor has heard about it and is taking a very deliberative and thoughtful analysis,” Republican state Rep. Matt Krause said. “But they didn’t give me an indication one way or the other on which way he’d be.”

Reed, now 51, was convicted of raping and strangling 19-year-old Stacy Stites while she made her way to work at a supermarket in Bastrop, a rural community about 30 miles southeast of Austin.

Reed has long maintained that Stites was killed by her fiance, former police officer Jimmy Fennell. Reed says Fennell was angry because Stites, who was white, was having an affair with Reed, who is black. In recent weeks, Reed’s attorneys have presented affidavits that support his claims, including one by a former prison inmate who claims Fennell bragged about killing Stites and referred to Reed by a racial slur.

Reed’s lawyers say other recent affidavits also corroborate the relationship between Stites and Reed. Fennell’s attorney has said his client didn’t kill Stites, and prosecutors maintain that they believe Reed is guilty.

Texas remains the death penalty capital of the U.S. even as executions nationwide hover at historic lows. Last year, about half of the 25 executions nationwide took place in Texas, which has put to death eight people so far this year.

Support for the death penalty has been declining in recent years, but in Texas, Abbott hasn’t relaxed his position. A practicing Roman Catholic, Abbott breaks with the church on the Vatican’s view that capital punishment can never be sanctioned, and efforts to scale back the types of crimes that carry the death penalty in Texas have stalled under his watch.

Only once has Abbott spared the life of a convicted killer shortly before the scheduled execution: Last year, he accepted a rare recommendation of clemency from Texas’ parole board and commuted the sentence of Thomas “Bart” Whitaker, who fatally shot his mother and brother. Abbott did so after Whitaker’s father, who was also shot, asked for mercy.

It’s not the first time Abbott’s decision-making has been in the spotlight over a high-profile death penalty case. While serving as Texas attorney general in 2011, Abbott ruled that a state forensic panel could not consider old evidence in the case against Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed for a fire that killed his children but whose guilt remained in question after his death because the arson science used to convict him had since been debunked.

In a letter to Abbott this week, more than a dozen Republicans said that getting it wrong with Reed could “erode public trust — not only in capital punishment, but in Texas justice itself.”

“We have a lot of executions, right? We’re Texas,” said Republican state Rep. James White, who has served in the Legislature for nearly a decade. “This probably is the first one I’ve directly reached out to the attorney general’s office and the governor’s office on. Not on the prospect that I believe that Mr. Reed is innocent. But I do believe there is a lot of information and evidence that does deserve to be vetted.”

___

Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: https://twitter.com/pauljweber



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