Category: Opinion

Mayor Stops Private Org From Building Wall…

Liberal Mayor of Sunland Park Issues Cease and Desist Order Against “We Build the Wall” — Founder Brian Kolfage Responds (VIDEO)

For months the liberal media mocked “We Build the Wall” founder and organizer Brian Kolfage and his noble plan to use private donations to help build the much-needed security wall between the US and Mexico. Brian raised over $20 million in private donations from over 260,000 individuals to build a border wall on the US southern border.

This Memorial Day Weekend the “We Build the Wall” organization built their first half mile of border wall near El Paso, Texas.

** Please donate to this incredible organization here.

Then on Tuesday the Democrat Mayor of Sunland Park announced the construction of a privately-funded border barrier on private property over Memorial Day weekend was not in compliance with City ordinance.

Sunland Park Mayor Javier Perea issued a cease and desist order against “We Build the Wall” as they were wrapping up their project west of El Paso.


“We Build the Wall” refuted the liberal mayor’s charges.

We Build The Wall Inc. emailed ABC-7 the following statement:

“We Build The Wall has done everything they need to do to be in compliance with all regulations. We’ve had members from Sunland Park city government out to inspect the site and to witness the first concrete pour. We believe this is a last ditch effort to intimidate us from completing this historic project by a local government with a long history of corruption problems.”

Please call the corrupt officials in Sunland Park and tell then to stop playing games.

On Wednesday The Gateway Pundit spoke with Brian Kolfage, the founder of ‘We Build the Wall.” Brian told us this was nothing more than a witch hunt.

Brian Kolfage: We believe we have the correct permits. We have done everything necessary to remain in compliance. The city inspectors were down and gave the approval last week. This is just a political witch hunt and we are not going to back down.

We will post any updates as this story develops.

More… This is interesting. The Sunland Park Facebook Page has a Mexican administrator(?)

** Please donate to this incredible organization here.

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Parliament looks to dissolve…

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s parliament on Monday passed a preliminary motion to dissolve itself. The move further pushed the country toward an unprecedented political impasse, less than two months after elections seemed to promise Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a new mandate.

If the bill receives final passage in a vote scheduled Wednesday, Israel would be forced to hold new elections — sending the political system into disarray.

Netanyahu appeared to have a clear path to victory, and a fourth consecutive term, after the April 9 elections. His Likud party emerged tied as the largest party in the 120-seat parliament, and with his traditional allies, he appeared to control a solid 65-55 majority.

But he has struggled to form a government ahead of a looming deadline to do so. His prospective coalition has been thrown into crisis in recent days by former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an ally and sometimes rival of Netanyahu’s.

Netanyahu delivered a primetime statement on Monday calling on his potential partners to put “the good of the nation above every other interest” in order to avoid sending the country once again to “expensive, wasteful” elections. He placed the blame on Lieberman for creating the crisis, but said he was hopeful his efforts to salvage a compromise in the next 48 hours would succeed.

Lieberman has insisted on passing a new law mandating that young ultra-Orthodox men be drafted into the military, like most other Jewish males. Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox allies demand that the draft exemptions remain in place.

Without the five seats of Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, Netanyahu cannot muster a majority.

“The draft law has become a symbol and we will not capitulate on our symbols,” Lieberman defiantly said, vowing to press for new elections if his demands are not met.

Netanyahu and Lieberman met Monday evening in a last-ditch effort to find a compromise. Israeli media said the meeting ended without any progress, and quoted Likud officials as saying Netanyahu would soon order new elections.

Netanyahu’s ruling Likud has traditionally had an alliance with ultra-Orthodox and nationalist parties. But Lieberman, a former top Netanyahu aide, is a wild card. Though stanchly nationalist, he also champions a secular agenda aimed toward his political base of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Likud insists Lieberman is motivated by his personal spite for Netanyahu and has launched a vicious campaign against him in recent days. But Lieberman says he is driven by ideology and will not be a hand to religious coercion.

“I will not be a partner to a Halachic state,” he said, using the word for Jewish law.

Ultra-Orthodox parties consider conscription a taboo, fearing that military service will lead to immersion in secularism. But years of exemptions have generated widespread resentment among the rest of Jewish Israelis.

A stalemate on the issue was one of the factors that shortened the term of the previous coalition government, which Lieberman resigned from months before elections were called because he disagreed with its policy toward the Gaza Strip.

Dissolving parliament would be a shocking turn of events for Netanyahu, who has led the country for the past decade. “We invite Lieberman to join us today and not contribute to the toppling of a right-wing government,” a statement by Likud read. 

President Donald Trump waded into Israeli politics and tweeted support for Netanyahu, saying he was “hoping things will work out with Israel’s coalition formation and Bibi and I can continue to make the alliance between America and Israel stronger than ever.”

With the 42-day timeline allotted to Netanyahu to sign agreements with his partners and present his new government set to expire late Wednesday, his Likud party presented the paperwork to dissolve the parliament.

The Knesset passed the bill on Monday with 65 members of parliament voting in favor. But the motion could still be pulled at any moment before Wednesday’s vote if a compromise is found.

The main opposition party, Blue and White, which also controls 35 seats, appealed for a chance to form a coalition. But a parliamentary vote for dissolution would automatically trigger new elections. Blue and White has ruled out any alliance with Netanyahu.

If Wednesday’s final vote passes, it would mark the first time the scenario had played out in Israel and set the stage for an unprecedented second election in the same calendar year.

Polls indicate the results of a new election would not be much different from the last one.


Ilan Ben Zion contributed to this story.

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Searchers slaughter boars, comb intestines for human remains…

KAHULUI, Hawaii – The helicopter buzzed over the forest canopy. Three searchers peered into dense foliage and rolling waterfall beds as they watched their fuel dwindle. It would soon be time to turn back and end the 16th day of the search for Amanda Eller, led in part by a recently unemployed arborist.

Search coordinator Chris Berquist was fired from his day job just a few days into the rescue operation. He said his boss was frustrated with the time he spent on the search, organizing a battalion of volunteers devoted to finding the missing hiker in Hawaii’s Makawao Forest Reserve. He didn’t have the paycheck, but it freed up Berquist to lead the effort.

Berquist, along with Javier Cantellops and Troy Helmer, were scanning the forest from about 150 feet above, over roaring waterfalls and jagged cliffs. In a flash of human presence among the branches, Berquist made out a figure in faded yoga pants and a dirtied white shirt. Eller was waving, barefoot and ecstatic. The team had studied her face for days. They knew they found her.

“I’ve never met her before, but there was no mistaking that’s who it was,” Berquist told Maui Now.

The dramatic rescue of Eller, a 33-year-old Maui resident, physical therapist and yoga instructor, was fueled by the efforts of volunteers and organizers who braved the heat, wild animals and precarious terrain – and ultimately returned with Eller, shaken but alive.

Their effort began when Maui fire rescue personnel ended the official search on May 12, after hitting a 72-hour limit on missing-person assistance. Maui Fire Chief David Thyne did not return a request for comment asking about his department’s role in search efforts after the time limit passed, though volunteers praised their continued assistance and “behind the scenes” support.

The volunteer search started as a low-tech slog. Volunteers turned to crude “pirate maps”and unorganized guidance, according to Eller’s father. Days later, they were aided by GPS mapping and analysis tools that pointed them toward the most promising areas to search.

Eller, a physical therapist and yoga instructor, got turned around on a hiking trail and lost in the reserve carved into the northwest slopes of the Haleakala volcano thick with tropical ash, bushy ferns, bamboo and massive rotting trunks. She fractured her leg on the third day, ate moths and unknown plants and covered herself in leaves for warmth.

She slept in a wild boar’s den one night.

Meanwhile, volunteers faced the same conditions as they searched. They took time off to help comb through much of the reserve’s 2,000 acres. Coordinators like Berquist ferried them into the jungle, where they braved a relentless sun, flooding rivers and unforgiving terrain that they took head on with the business end of machetes. They picked through the intestines of the boars they slew to look for human remains.

The pressures weighed on volunteers, Berquist told The Washington Post.

“As time pushes on in a search, it’s natural for people to lose a little bit of faith,” he said. “It starts to play with your mind the longer you’re out there and not finding her.”

Coordinators set up a yurt in a parking lot, where volunteers, sometimes numbering 150 in a day, received their orders based on ability and skill.

Those who could not hike ran tables at the base camp where nurses were on stand by. Experienced backcountry hikers fanned deep into the bush. Drone operators took to the skies, and hunters, rock climbers and rappellers carved out terrain to search.

“The terrain there is pretty rough, there are a lot of trees down and a lot of confusing side trails,” said Elena Pray, a rappelling guide on Maui who volunteered for nearly the entire search effort.

Berquist, who said he had experience with EMS operations and cave rescues, warned each of them to be careful. “We don’t need any more victims,” he told one group.

As the days wore on, Eller’s father’s tech background became key to search efforts.

John Eller, the chief executive of a telematics company, introduced a search interface that allowed volunteers to log via their smartphones where they already looked. When they returned to camp, they handed over their own GPS data to coordinators, which then colored in swaths of a map and revealed which areas still needed to be combed.

Spirits lifted when searchers glimpsed monitors and saw their efforts in real-time. It was paired with a data analysis of where missing persons are often located.

“We found out that more than 80 percent of people recovered are in drainages or creeks – and that’s where we found her,” Berquist said.

Amanda Eller’s decisions imperiled her from the start.

She left her water and phone at her car, thinking they were unnecessary for a three-mile hike. She said in an interview that her “gut instinct” drew her in one direction that led her deeper into the forest. She fell off a cliff and fractured her leg. Her shoes were lost in a flood. And on several occasions, Eller heard helicopters buzzing overhead but couldn’t reach them.

“There were times of total fear, and loss and wanting to give up,” Eller said in a video statement from her hospital bed after the rescue. “It came down to life and death. And I chose life.”

Data, and some luck, led Berquist, Helmer and Cantellops to Eller on Friday.

Research pointed to waterfall beds and rivers as likely places Eller would take refuge. With fuel supplies low, Berquist spotted Eller near a waterfall and signaled to her that they were there for the rescue and not some oblivious, waving tourists, he told Maui Now.

“There is no professionalism at this point,” Berquist said, describing their emotions upon seeing her. “We’re just trying to get to her.”

The helicopter, which was contracted and paid for through donations, landed on a plateau. The team fought through thick grass to cut a path to Eller. Cantellops, who had previously met her, called out. He nearly fell off a cliff, Berquist said. Then he shouted again for Eller, asking if she recognized his voice.

“Javi?” Eller called back. Cantellops was the first to reach her and snapped selfies and video before a rescue helicopter hoisted her up in a basket. Then it did the same for the rescuers. For the first time in more than two weeks, they could enjoy the beautiful island view as it whirred by.

“It didn’t feel wrong to be enjoying that,” Berquist said.

Recovering from dehydration, a broken leg and badly blistered leg wounds, Eller praised the search effort. “This was all about us coming together for a greater purpose of community and love, and appreciation for life,” she said.

Eller’s father said he would harness the lessons and technology to create software that could be utilized to find lost hikers in the future, and Berquist agreed it was a model that could be scaled up.

“We’re going to make sure this is a well-oiled machine,” he said, “and doesn’t take 15, 16 plus days to find someone next time.”

Cantellops said the team was still elated Saturday afternoon. But the celebration was short-lived. He cut an interview short to hop on a helicopter with Berquist to search for Noah Mina, a hiker lost in Iao Valley.

Horton reported from Washington, D.C.

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Alabama abortion bill's restrictions weigh on Republicans ahead of vote… Developing…

OXFORD, Ala. – On Monday, a day before Alabama lawmakers were scheduled to vote on a bill that would all but ban abortion in the state, Republican Del Marsh, president of the state senate, asked a group of young mothers – toddlers bouncing on their laps – what they want the Legislature to do.

“How do y’all feel about banning abortion, even in cases of rape and incest?” he asked the women, who gathered at tables outside a Southern Girl Coffee truck here, on the edge of Talladega National Forest, about 100 miles from Montgomery.

“I’m praying for y’all, and I wouldn’t want your job,” sighed Lauren Holland, 32, her 2-year-old daughter climbing on her chest. She said she would have the baby if she were raped, but making that the law? “That there is real hard for women. I’m a Christian. One-hundred percent pro-life. But I don’t think I want that in the law.”

Marsh asked the women to keep praying for him as he navigates a contentious fight that could put Alabama on the leading edge of the anti-abortion push to get a state law in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. He, like many other Republicans here, has long been against abortion and wants the court to overturn Roe v. Wade – and he embraces the strategy of a bill that will force the issue. But he also long has been accepting of three exceptions to bans on abortion: cases that involve rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger.

Marsh and some others in the Republican majority here are struggling with Tuesday’s vote on an abortion ban, largely because it is so restrictive. Any unborn baby is innocent and deserves a chance at life, the bill’s backers argue, even those that are the result of violent or criminal origins.

“It’s just, I’m not real comfortable with having a law that forces a woman to carry a baby after rape,” Marsh said.

A move to amend the bill last week with exceptions for rape or incest led to a shouting match on the Senate floor, and the vote was tabled. Marsh asked legislators to go home and speak to their constituents, as he himself has done. A vote on the bill has been rescheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

The bill would outlaw most abortions in the state – except those that would protect a woman whose life is in danger because of the pregnancy – and make performing abortion a felony punishable by up to 99 years imprisonment. That part of the law would be considered extreme in some states but was without controversy here.

A majority of Alabama residents are firmly against abortion, and the sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Terri Collins, a Republican, says she has empathy for survivors of rape and incest. But she also wants to make sure the law is strong enough to force federal court intervention – something she and others hope will lead to national restrictions on abortion. To achieve that, she said, the bill must do nothing short of declaring that a fetus has rights from Day One.

“It has to be 100% a person at conception,” Collins said,

Collins said she would support states making their own decisions about exceptions. And she agrees “that rape and incest could be an exception in state law.

“But what I’m trying to do here is get this case in front of the Supreme Court so Roe v. Wade can be overturned.”

On Monday, the impending vote had lawmakers scrambling across the state. Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, a Republican, urged lawmakers to pass the abortion bill without exceptions and posted a video on Twitter urging Alabamians to call their senators.

“Abortion is murder,” he says in the video. “Those three simple words sum up my position on an issue that many falsely claim is a complex one.”

Conservatives see this year’s state legislative sessions as an important turning point, with governors and lawmakers across the country passing highly restrictive abortion bills in hope of attracting the attention of what they see as the most anti-abortion U.S. Supreme Court in decades.

“It’s getting closer and closer,” said Scott Dawson, an Alabama evangelist and Birmingham minister who ran for governor in 2018. “In this political landscape, it is time for action. Alabama could actually be the leader of the conservative voice in the United States.”

Alabama’s bill could serve as a test for the “personhood” strategy, especially if it passes without exceptions. But anti-abortion groups say that even if exceptions are added at the last minute, they won’t back down.

“We will never give up on protecting life in the womb,” said the Rev. Mike Crowe, who from the pulpit on Mother’s Day urged members of Southside Baptist Church outside Birmingham to get ready to be proud foster parents if the bill passes. “I’m sure there are families for those babies.”

Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the current round of anti-abortion legislation is more radical than in the past. Alabama is just the latest state to consider doing away with exceptions for victims of rape and incest. Georgia and Ohio recently passed “heartbeat” bills – which ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, about six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant – that would also apply to victims of rape and incest.

“It shows how extreme and how emboldened the people who are pushing these laws feel now,” she said. “Before, they knew they couldn’t get away with it. Now they think they can.”

The ACLU, she said, is preparing to sue if the Alabama measure passes – with or without exceptions.

“At the end of the day, an all-out abortion ban, whether it’s at six weeks or before, is blatantly unconstitutional whether those exceptions exist or not,” Kolbi-Molinas said.

The vote Tuesday is sure to elicit high emotions, especially after an effort last week to address the issue of exceptions by voice vote rather than by the standard roll call. Democrats saw the move as an attempt by Republicans to exclude the exceptions without going on record as voting to force victims of rape and incest to give birth. Democrats have vowed to try again Tuesday to amend the bill to allow abortions in cases of rape and incest.

With Democrats in the Senate expected to vote against the bill and Republicans divided, “it’s going to be real close,” Republican Sen. Cam Ward said in his home in suburban Birmingham, where his 7-month-old daughter was about to go down for a nap.

Ward said his stomach hurts over the idea of denying rape victims the opportunity to terminate a pregnancy.

“In California, I’d be to the right of Attila the Hun,” he said. “But in Alabama, I’m a moderate.”

Last week, Ward said, a young woman came to his office in the Statehouse and said she was raped by a relative when she was 14. She did not become pregnant, but she and her mother said she would have had an abortion had she conceived. As it was, she attempted suicide, was hospitalized for three weeks, struggled in school and is still in counseling years later.

“Her world got very small fast,” her mother wrote Ward in an email. “This bill is barbaric. Representatives need to think outside of themselves and their own life experiences.”

Ward said he can’t get her story out of his mind.

“Look, we are so pro-life in this state. But we’ve never faced anything like this,” Ward said, noting that he has concerns with a bill that doesn’t have exceptions for rape and incest.

“The question is, are we going to be the state that says this is OK?” he said. “Even if this is just a legal strategy, I also have a 16-year-old daughter. Would I want her to carry a baby from a rape?

“That’s where my stomachache comes in,” he said. “That’s where folks feel real sick about this.”

– – –

The Washington Post’s Arianna Eunjung Cha in Washington and Chip Brownlee, a freelance journalist based in Alabama, contributed to this report.

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COP: Short-circuit likely caused Notre Dame fire…

PARIS (AP) — Paris police investigators think an electrical short-circuit most likely caused the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, a police official said Thursday, as France paid a daylong tribute to the firefighters who saved the world-renowned landmark.

A judicial police official told The Associated Press that investigators made an initial assessment of the cathedral Wednesday but don’t have a green light to search Notre Dame’s charred interior because of ongoing safety hazards.

The cathedral’s fragile walls were being shored up with wooden planks, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak by name about an ongoing investigation.

Investigators so far believe the fire was accidental, and are questioning both cathedral staff and workers who were carrying out renovations. Some 40 people had been questioned by Thursday, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.

The police official would not comment on an unsourced report in Le Parisian newspaper that investigators are looking at whether the fire could have been linked to a computer glitch or the temporary elevators used in the renovation work, among other things. The prosecutor’s office said only that “all leads must be explored.”

Since the cathedral will be closed to the public for years, the rector of the Catholic parish that worships there has proposed building a temporary structure on the plaza in front of the Gothic-era landmark, and City Hall gave its approval Thursday “subject to technical restraints.”

A Paris fire official said the towers of Notre Dame Cathedral would have fallen if firefighters hadn't deployed massive equipment and acted swiftly to fight the fire racing across the monument. (April 17)

“The rector has no cathedral for the moment. …. But I’m going to try to invent something,” Bishop Patrick Chauvet said.

A crypt containing vestiges dating from antiquity is located under the vast esplanade.

President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants Notre Dame to be restored in five years, in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics, which Paris is hosting. Restoration specialists have questioned the ambitious timeline, with some saying it could take three times that long to rebuild the 850-year-old architectural treasure.

Earlier Thursday, Macron held a ceremony at the Elysee Palace to thank the hundreds of firefighters who battled the fast-moving fire at Notre Dame for nine hours starting Monday evening, preventing the structure’s destruction and rescuing many of the important relics held inside.

“We’ve seen before our eyes the right things perfectly organized in a few moments, with responsibility, courage, solidarity and a meticulous organization”, Macron said. “The worst has been avoided.”

The cathedral’s lead roof and its soaring spire were destroyed, but Notre Dame’s iconic bell towers, rose windows, organ and precious artworks were saved.

Macron said the firefighters will receive an Honor Medal for their courage and devotion.

Paris City Hall also held a ceremony in the firefighters’ honor Thursday afternoon, with a Bach violin concert, two giant banners strung from the monumental city headquarters and readings from Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

Remarkably, no one was killed in the blaze that broke out as the cathedral was in the initial stages of a lengthy restoration.

A large swath of the island in the Seine River where Notre Dame is located was officially closed Thursday by police, who cited “important risks” of collapse and falling objects. The area had been unofficially blocked off since the fire.

Meanwhile, workers using a crane removed some statues to lessen the weight on the cathedral’s fragile gables, or support walls, to keep them from collapsing since they were no longer supported by the roof and its network of centuries-old timbers that were consumed by the inferno.

They also secured the support structure above one of Notre Dame’s rose windows with wooden planks.

Among the firefighters honored Thursday was Paris fire brigade chaplain Jean-Marc Fournier, who told the Le Parisian daily he was able to save the cathedral’s consecrated hosts. The paper said he climbed on altars to remove large paintings, but that he was especially proud “to have removed Jesus” from the Cathedral — a reference to the Catholic belief that consecrated hosts are the body of Christ.

An earlier report credited Fournier with helping salvage the crown of thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus at his crucifixion, but Fournier told France Info Thursday he arrived after rescuers had already broken the relic’s protective covering and an official who had the secret code needed to unlock it finished the job. He praised the action that preserved “this extraordinary relic, this patrimony of humanity.”

Among others honored was Myriam Chudzinski, one of the first firefighters to reach the roof as the blaze raged. Loaded with gear, they climbed hundreds of steps up the cathedral’s narrow spiral staircase to the top of one of the two towers.

“We knew that the roof was burning, but we didn’t really know the intensity,” she told reporters. “It was from upstairs that you understood that it was really dramatic. It was very hot and we had to retreat, retreat. It was spreading quickly.”

Benedicte Contamin, who came to view the damaged cathedral from afar Thursday, said she’s sad but grateful it’s still there.

“It’s a chance for France to bounce back, a chance to realize what unites us, because we have been too much divided over the past years,” she said.


Associated Press writers Nicolas Vaux-Montagny and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.


Read and watch all AP coverage of the Notre Dame fire at

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe won’t run for president in 2020, meaning establishment, centrist Democrats will have one less option in a nominating free-for-all that so far has highlighted the party’s leftward shift.

McAuliffe said Wednesday night that instead of joining a crowded Democratic field vying to challenge President Donald Trump, he will concentrate his efforts on helping Democrats win this year in Virginia — with the possibility that he runs for governor or president in the future.

“Where can you help people the most and change people’s lives?” McAuliffe said on CNN, arguing that he could “beat Trump like a rented mule” but doesn’t “want anyone in Virginia to think I’ve abandoned them.”

“I’m staying home to do what I need to do to help Virginians,” he added.

McAuliffe’s decision comes as former Vice President Joe Biden considers whether to enter the 2020 Democratic field. McAuliffe is widely viewed as part of the party’s mainstream, occupying much of the same political space as Biden.

McAuliffe said “most” of the current Democratic candidates could defeat Trump, though Biden was the only potential contender he called out by name. “I love Joe Biden,” he said.

The former governor’s decision also follows a series of scandals that weakened Democrats in Virginia during a key election year, when partisan control of the state legislature is up for grabs.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring both admitted in February to having worn blackface as young men, while Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has been accused by two women of sexual assault, which he denies. Some top Democratic state lawmakers have urged McAuliffe to focus on raising money for Democrats this year and then run for governor in 2021. Virginia bars governors from serving consecutive terms, but McAuliffe could run again after serving from 2014-18.

He demurred on CNN when pressed about whether he’d run for governor in 2021, saying he’s committed to Virginia Democrats first and foremost to help this year and in federal elections next year.

One state lawmaker, Democratic Sen. Dick Saslaw, said that he’s been urging McAuliffe to run for governor.

“He didn’t rule it out,” Saslaw told The Associated Press before McAuliffe’s CNN appearance.

McAuliffe, once best known as a top Democratic money man and close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s, reinvented his image during a largely successful four-year term as governor that saw him tirelessly market the state, make major transportation deals and restore more voting rights than any other governor in the country.

In a presidential race, McAuliffe’s record as a business-friendly centrist — he proposed a corporate tax cut and backed a massive new natural gas pipeline that environmentalists detest — would have been a liability with more progressive primary voters.

Yet McAuliffe had made clear to friends and associates that he believed he’d make a good candidate and an excellent president. He’s been open about his belief that Democrats should not stray too far to the left, particularly on health care and other economic issues. He sees himself as a politician in line with the party’s positions on social issues while representing a mainstream liberalism that could appeal to more moderate voters.

According to aides, McAuliffe had spent the last several weeks meeting with policy advisers talking about how to make concrete economic and health care proposals that could appeal across the political spectrum but that would stop short of Sanders’ pitch for single-payer health insurance. Among those he met with was Chris Jennings, a top health care policy adviser in President Barack Obama’s White House when the Affordable Care Act was passed and implemented.

Part of McAuliffe’s pitch to powerbrokers in early voting states was his ability to make Democratic inroads in Virginia, which has become reliably Democratic in recent elections. In the 2017 elections, the last year of McAuliffe’s four-year tenure as governor, 15 House of Delegates seats shifted from Republican to Democratic control, reducing the GOP’s majority to two seats.

“I took a red state and made it blue,” the former Democratic National Committee chairman said last month during a swing through South Carolina. “We had the biggest pickups in 140 years under my four years as governor, and if we did it there, we can do it here in South Carolina.”

McAuliffe stepped into the national spotlight as governor as a leading voice on certain social issues, winning kudos for undoing a vestige of the state’s Jim Crow era and restoring voting and other civil rights to felons who have completed their sentences. McAuliffe’s blunt criticism of the white nationalists who sparked a deadly rally in Charlottesville last summer also drew a sharp contrast with Trump’s shaky response.

Trump gave $25,000 to McAuliffe’s 2009 gubernatorial bid, and the two were once acquaintances. But McAuliffe has been unsparing in his criticism of the president in the last year or so, telling a national television audience he’d knock Trump to the floor if the president ever tried to intimidate him.

Another factor in McAuliffe’s decision is the dissipating shadow of the Clintons in Democratic presidential politics. McAuliffe has been friends with the couple for more than 30 years and served as DNC chairman during part of Bill Clinton’s tenure. McAuliffe has been unapologetic about his ties with the Clintons and his years as a party money man for them and other candidates, saying he has always worked within the existing campaign finance rules to elect Democrats up and down the ballot, even as he acknowledges that big money — particularly from corporations and super PACs — has become anathema to many in the Democratic base.


Barrow reported from Atlanta.

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American flags on police cars sparks backlash in Laguna Beach…

“There was like a little panic going on, and I was like, ‘What’s happening?’ ” Prelitz said. The hubbub, he discovered, was over a cluster of police cars that had arrived at the scene. “When one of them’s there, it works. But all of a sudden, I saw, wow, when there are three, maybe four of them together, folks thought it was a SWAT team, federal agents. So it had a very striking, strong impact, so much so that I think there might be some unintended consequences.”

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'It's okay to be white' flyers posted at another university…

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — Flyers with the slogan “it’s okay to be white” were posted on the University of Idaho campus and around Moscow last week as part of a provocation campaign by white nationalist groups.

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports the flyers were an apparent repeat of a year-old campaign stemming from online message boards, intending to create strong reactions.

Washington State University Communications Director Phil Weiler says the Pullman campus was the site of the same campaign last year.

He says the flyers are not harmless, “they’re interested in being provocative, trying to upset people, trying to intimidate people.”

University President Chuck Staben says he is disappointed to see such flyers on campus, but personnel would not remove the ones posted on authorized surfaces, noting the university supports free speech.


Information from: The Moscow-Pullman Daily News,

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Air Force falcon expected to recover from 'life-threatening' injuries after West Point prank…

The Army’s military academy issued an apology Sunday for an apparent prank in which a live Air Force mascot falcon was abducted and injured ahead of the weekend’s Army-Air Force football game in West Point, N.Y.

“The U.S. Military Academy sincerely apologizes for an incident involving USMA cadets and the Air Force Academy falcons, which occurred Saturday,” said the post on West Point’s Facebook page. “We are taking this situation very seriously, and this occurrence does not reflect the Army or USMA core values of dignity and respect.

“An apology was given to the U.S. Air Force Academy for this unfortunate incident.”

Aurora, the 22-year-old white gyrfalcon that had accompanied the team for the game against Air Force’s service rival, is expected to make a full recovery, the academy tweeted Sunday evening, after she was examined by a master falconer and veterinarians at Fort Carson.

After bringing her home Saturday, academy officials were encouraged that the injuries weren’t as severe as they first appeared because she was able to fly around in her pen.

“It’s an extremely good sign that she’s flying,” said Troy Garnhart, associate athletic director for communications.

The injuries to the bird’s wings initially had been described as life-threatening given her advanced age. Gyrfalcons’ life expectancy in captivity is around 25 years, according to

“We are grateful for the outpouring of support for Aurora and are optimistic for her recovery,” Garnhart said.

Aurora was being kept in the home of a volunteer sponsor, an Army colonel, as is customary whenever the Air Force team is on the road, Garnhart said.

No details about when the mascot was abducted, by whom and how she was injured have been released by either academy.

But the New York Times reported Sunday that Aurora and Oblio, a peregrine falcon about seven years younger, were taken by two West Point cadets on Friday night.

The cadets threw sweaters over the birds, and later stuffed them into dog crates, Sam Dollar, the Air Force Academy’s falconry team adviser, told the newspaper. When the cadets returned the birds Saturday morning, Aurora had blood on her wings from abrasions likely caused by thrashing around in the crate, Dollar said.

“I think they had them for a couple hours and then they realized it was a bad mistake,” the Times quoted Dollar. “When Aurora started thrashing around in the crate, they decided that wasn’t a good thing.”

Aurora’s injuries have risen to the highest level at the military schools.

AFA spokeswoman Lt. Col. Tracy Bunko said AFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria has been in contact with his counterpart at West Point, Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams.

Aurora was the grand dame of the school’s heralded falconry program, which includes a half-dozen birds managed by a dozen cadets.

Animal abuse, specifically to an animal on the government’s payroll, is a crime in the military. The crime of “abuse of a public animal” has been on the military’s books since the Army was founded, and has been used primarily to charge those who abused pack animals, such as mules and horses.

While Aurora is a mascot, the statute could apply, with a conviction potentially resulting in up to a year behind bars and a dishonorable discharge.

The Gazette’s Tom Roeder contributed to this report.

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Candidate: 'Demanding apology culture' not healthy…

On Sunday, TMZ caught up with Dan Crenshaw, a Republican candidate for Congress in Texas who lost his eye in Afghanistan and found himself the butt of a tasteless Saturday Night Live joke.

SNL’s Pete Davidson made light of Crenshaw’s war injury during the most recent live show, saying: “I’m sorry. I know he lost his eye in war or whatever … Whatever.”

That jab prompted calls for an apology — and even a CNN panel slamming the attempt at a joke — but Crenshaw doesn’t think an apology is needed.

In fact, he said that the culture of apology-demanding is just not healthy for America.

“I want us to get away from this culture where we demand an apology every time someone misspeaks,” Crenshaw said.

He added: “I think that would be very healthy for our nation to go in that direction. We don’t need to be outwardly outraged. I don’t need to demand apologies from them. They can do whatever they want, you know. They are feeling the heat from around the country right now and that’s fine.”

He then stressed that he would like Davidson and SNL to recognize that “veterans across the country probably don’t feel as though their wounds [that] they received in battle should be the subject of a bad punch line.”

Finally, the veteran and candidate said the “real atrocity” was Davidson’s attempt at a joke wasn’t even funny but “just mean-spirited.”

Watch above, via TMZ

[image via screengrab]

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