Posts tagged with "The Daily Beast"

John Oliver: Lindsey Graham’s defense of Trump is he’s a ‘dumb baby’

November 12, 2019

This has not been a good week so far for “Baby Trump”—either the balloon or the POTUS, The Daily Beast reported on November 11.

On November 9, as the balloon version of Baby Trump floated over throngs of college football fans in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, it was attacked, slashed, and brought to ground. (The perpetrator has since been arrested.)

Then, comedian John Oliver opened his Sunday night, November 10, broadcast of HBO’s Last Week Tonight by taking aim at South Carolina GOP Senator Lindsey Graham’s latest defense of President Donald Trump in the impeachment inquiry—which, The Daily Beast said, Oliver likened to Graham calling Trump an “idiot.”

Describing the Ukraine scandal at the heart of impeachment as “Stupid Watergate II: The Scandal That’s Like Getting a Rubber Chicken Stuck in Your Ass,” Oliver first joked about the president seemingly discovering who’s really to blame for everything by playing a clip of Trump during a recent White House lawn press gaggle.

“It’s called the swamp,” Trump yelled. “And you know what happened? And you know what I did? A big favor. I caught the swamp. I caught them all. Let’s see what happens. Nobody else could have done that but me.”

Laughing, the HBO host said this could actually be “Donald Trump at his Donald Trump-iest” as it showed the president shouting something nonsensical before bragging about how great he was at doing it.

“Nothing there made sense,” Oliver declared. “And yet you just know in two days his website will be sold out of ‘I Caught the Swamp’ hats ’cause that’s the f**king world we live in right now.”

“But that wasn’t even the most desperate defense of the president employed this week,” he added. “That honor must go to Lindsey Graham—a man whose very face looks like a nana who just found out what ‘throuples’ are.”

Graham, as Oliver noted, recently insisted that the president was “incapable of forming a quid pro quo” when it came to dangling military aid in return for Ukraine investigating his political rivals, claiming it was because the Trump policy toward Ukraine was “incoherent.”

“So wait, to be clear here, Graham’s defense has gone from ‘there was no quid pro quo’ to ‘Trump is too dumb to do one?’” Oliver wondered aloud.

The comedian quipped that the South Carolina senator is essentially saying “the president’s an idiot” before explaining why Graham’s argument was “terrifying.”

“He’s like a baby, stumbling around aimlessly in a diaper full of his own boom-boom,” Oliver concluded. “And that is why he must stay in office and retain access to the nuclear codes!”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

From Russia with love: Putin’s state media unmask whistleblower in response to Rand Paul’s request

November 7, 2019

Russia, are you listening? Standing in solidarity with Donald Trump at a rally in Kentucky on November 4, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) demanded that the media “unmask” the whistleblower whose report about the president’s alleged extortion of Ukraine had set off impeachment investigations in the U.S. House of Representatives.

While American news organizations were loath to identify the patriot who had spoken out in the interest of national security, Kremlin-controlled state media promptly jumped on Paul’s request, The Daily Beast reported on November 6.

Very quickly after Senator Paul tweeted out an article that speculated in considerable detail about the identity of the whistleblower—with a photograph, a name, and details about the purported political history of a CIA professional—Russian state media followed suit, the news outlet said.

As if on cue, Putin’s state news organizations—TASS, RT, Rossiya-1—disseminated the same information. But unlike Rand Paul, one of the Russian state media outlets didn’t seem to find the source—Real Clear Investigations—to be particularly impressive, and claimed falsely that the material was published originally by The Washington Post.

This was the most egregious—but certainly not the only example—of Kremlin-funded media cheerleading for Trump’s fight against impeachment as proceedings against him continue to unfold with growing speed, The Daily Beast reported. Immediately, the talking heads on Fox News picked up on Trump’s talking points—and they also have been echoed across the pond, albeit with a tinge of irony.

“Have you lost your minds that you want to remove our Donald Ivanovych?” asked Russian TV journalist Vladimir Soloviev, the host of the show Evening with Vladimir Soloviev.

“They say Trump is making Russia great. That’s basically accurate,” pointed out Karen Shakhnazarov, CEO of Mosfilm Studio and a prominent fixture on Russian state television. “The chaos brought by Trump into the American system of government is weakening the United States. America is getting weaker and now Russia is taking its place in the Middle East. Suddenly, Russia is starting to seriously penetrate Africa… So when they say that Trump is weakening the United States—yes, he is. And that’s why we love him… The more problems they have, the better it is for us.”

For his part, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a Russian client whose regime teetered on the brink of collapse only to be saved definitively by Trump’s chaotic approach to the Middle East, recently said that “President Trump is the best type of president for a foe.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

The face is familiar: When you have a doppelgänger

October 29, 2019

We’ve all experienced it in some way before—either as the person who learns that he or she has a “double” somewhere in the same city; or as the one who mistakes a stranger on the street for a friend or family member. “OMG! I saw your doppelgänger today.” Or, “You look exactly like this friend of mine.”

It is intriguing to think that we may not be unique. After all, how much could someone you’ve never met really resemble you, right?!

You’d be surprised, according to a report by the The Daily Beast.

Canadian photographer François Brunelle, who has been compared by his friends to comedic actor Rowan Atkinson—most famously known as Mr. Bean—spent 12 years tracking down real-life doppelgängers—individuals who are not related, but could pass for identical twins—and photographing them. His project is called the I’m Not a Look-Alike series.

A student of the human face since his early days as a photographer in 1968, Brunelle’s work reflects his fascination with “the resemblance between look-alikes” and his “ongoing effort to capture the elusive human soul.”

 The project began with people that he knew, the news outlet says. Friends first made suggestions of people who looked eerily alike, and then word spread, leading to people he didn’t know reaching out. Eventually, Brunelle set up a website which, after it was featured in the media, resulted in thousands upon thousands of submissions pouring into the artist’s inbox from people who claim to know two people who could pass as doppelgängers.

“I received a letter from a guy who met [his] look-alike one day on the beach,” Brunelle told The Daily Beast of one of his submissions. “They became friends, but the other person lives on the other side of the world.”

Setting the stage for the shoots is quite simple. Brunelle gives his subjects few instructions other than to come dressed in plain, solid-colored clothing void of graphics and labels. His goal is to have as little a hand as possible in conveying their resemblance.

The original goal was 200 pairs of doppelgängers, a number that he already has exceeded, the news outlet reports. His results are extraordinary—but what is even more astonishing is the parallel lives that many of them lead.

The Daily Beast relates the story of how, in 2004, Brunelle was introduced to two women through a mutual friend. Nina Singh and Anna Rubin were born in separate cities and raised by completely different biological parents hours apart from each other. The birthday that they share, just hours apart, is only the beginning in a long string of similarities—both of the women moved to Montreal to study dance, they have similar tattoos from the same tattoo parlor, and they unknowingly lived in the same apartment complex.

In another instance of eerie similarity, two Canadian men—one who works in advertising, the other as a popular television sports anchor—were brought together after years of being mistaken for each other. “The advertising guy would go out to restaurants and would be asked for his autograph all the time,” Brunelle says. “But he would have to explain that he wasn’t who they thought he was. People still didn’t believe him!”

When the two men finally met face-to-face, their baldness and fondness for facial hair wasn’t the only thing they had in common. Turns out, both men are married to women named Francine and have sons of similar ages.

Through Brunelle’s project, they were finally able to meet each other, and have since become close pals, The Daily Beast reports. “These people, they became friends and now they go out together with their wives and have a good time. They are like family now,” Brunelle says.

When presented with Brunelle’s photos, it’s shocking how identical the pairs seem to be. It is only upon closer inspection that the eye stops comparing the similarities between the two, and starts to decipher the differences, which Brunelle finds the most fascinating.

“I realized what’s interesting about the photos,” he said, “is not that they look exactly alike, it’s the fact that they don’t.” The mind starts to pick up on subtle differences. The nose, mouth, eyes, and ears, something is always different, but there is still a bizarre similarity. “If they looked completely identical, that would just be boring.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Times of London: Trump personally called Boris Johnson in effort to discredit Mueller report

October 3, 2019

Say what? Just days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson took office last July, President Donald Trump telephoned his ‘mini-me” to ask for help in discrediting Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, The Times of London reported on October 2.

Trump is said to have called Johnson on July 26—two days after the prime minister assumed residency at 10 Downing Street—and to have asked the British PM for help in gathering evidence to undermine the investigation into his campaign’s links to Russia.

The Daily Beast noted on Wednesday the call was placed just one day after Trump spoke to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in the phone call that sparked the impeachment proceedings against him.

Trump also contacted Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for help with an investigation into the origins of the Mueller inquiry. The Times  said.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr arrived in London days after Trump’s call with Johnson to attend a meeting of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance. Barr allegedly informed British officials that he suspected the source of the information that led to the Mueller investigation was British intelligence agencies.

Research contact: @thetimes

Out of sight, top of mind: Whistleblower complaint squelched by Trump or an associate, Schiff says

September 23, 2019

It’s an open secret inside the Beltway that President Donald Trump is intent on blocking every point of access to the “credible and urgent” whistleblower report received by Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire earlier this month.

And while the House Intelligence Committee refuses to be deterred, a closed-door meeting on September 19 with the intelligence community’s Inspector General, Michael Atkinson—who received the report in August and intended to act upon it—yielded little to nothing.

Indeed, according to a report by The Daily Beast members of Congress told reporters that they learned no substantive details about the whistleblower’s complaint during their hearing with Atkinson.

The only facts divulged to date are that the president made a “promise” during a phone call to an unknown foreign leader—and that the subject of the complaint “relates to one of the most significant and important of the DNI’s responsibilities to the American people.”

Only minutes after the conclusion of the closed-door session,  The New York Times reported that the IG told members of the House Intelligence Committee that the complaint related to “multiple acts”—far exceeding the scope of a single alleged conversation with a foreign leader.

But specifics of the complaint—and even public confirmation that it concerns actions by the president—are still being withheld from Congress, committee members said.

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) told reporters after the briefing that he believes the details of the complaint—which would normally be shared with Congress—are being suppressed, either by President Trump himself, or by someone “close” to him and “above the pay grade” of Maguire.

“I don’t think this is a problem of the law,” Schiff said, according to The Daily Beast, adding, “The problem lies elsewhere. And we’re determined to do everything we can to determine what this urgent concern is, to make sure that the national security is protected and to make sure that this whistle-blower is protected.”

Fellow House Intelligence member Representative Jackie Speier (D-California) told reporters that “we’ve got a very grave situation on our hands. The standard that has to be met by the IG… urgent, is talking about fire, as he referred to it.”

“This whistleblower has done everything according to the book,” Speier said. “And the potential for reprisals for this whistleblower are great”

In the five weeks preceding the complaint’s filing, The Daily Beast said, Trump had conversations with at least five foreign leaders, including President Vladimir Putin of Russia, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar.

Legally, such a complaint must involve mismanagement, waste, abuse, or a danger to intelligence operations or public safety, or relate to an intelligence activity that violates U.S. law.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Trump, Clinton ‘walk back’ friendships with Epstein in episode of Showtime’s ‘Our Cartoon President’

July 16, 2019

In a caustic cold open for the July 14 episode of the Showtime original series, “Our Cartoon President,” current and former U.S. Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, respectively, came together to deny that they did anything wrong when they partied and flew with the alleged pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, The Daily Beast reported on July 12.

Trump and President Bill Clinton each have had very little to say about their own connections to alleged sex trafficker and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein—except to say that neither one of them now has a friendship with the supposed billionaire financier and neither has flown recently on his plane, fittingly nicknamed the Lolita Express.

Which is not to say they have never boarded the jet. Both men acknowledge that they may have been passengers on Epstein’s infamous flights. “But so was [actor] Kevin Spacey,” Trump says.

“The only reason I was on that jet 26, I mean, four times, was it was the best deal on [travel app] Kayak.com,” Clinton adds in the cartoon.

In the hastily assembled cold open clip from the latest episode, Trump begins by addressing the nation about his ties to Epstein. “Sure, I told New York Magazine in 2002 that Epstein is a ‘terrific guy,’” Trump says, citing a real quote. “But that was before I found out that I said, later in the same sentence, that ‘he likes beautiful women … on the younger side.”

Then, cartoon Bill Clinton joins him. “Hey, everybody it’s me, America’s cold sore,” he says. “Every few years I pop up to remind you of your bad choices in the ‘90s.”

“You know, Bill and I may disagree on health care and criminal justice,” Trump says—as Clinton chimes in with “barely”—“but we are unified against these all but undeniable accusations.”

“In the end, aren’t we all just Americans accused of the most ghastly crime imaginable?” Clinton asks before the two presidents embrace in solidarity.

“I can’t believe we almost let Hillary tear us apart,” Trump concludes.

Research contact: @CartoonPres

Lindsey Graham doubles down on Trump’s hatefest against ‘The Squad’

July 16, 2019

In a town that has shown him very little love, President Donald Trump has found Three Stooges who will always step forward in his defense—Attorney General Bill Barr, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Alabama), and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).

This week, it was Graham who tried to hold White House critics at bay. He appeared on Fox & Friends on Monday morning to champion Trump for attacks he made on Twitter on July 14.

In those posts, the president told a group of Democratic Congresswomen of color, better known as The Squad—Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), Ilhan Omar (Minnesota), Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts), and Rashida Tlaib (Michigan)—to “go back” to where “they came” from.

“You can’t leave fast enough,” he said.

And, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s caution to the four freshmen legislators last week not to bash moderate House members, Trump noted, “I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

While many characterized those posts as “racists attacks,” Senator Graham supported the jibes—according to The Daily Beast, calling The Squad a “bunch of communists” who are “anti-Semitic” and hate the United States.

Graham—who played golf with the president on Sunday after the president sent those tweets said, “We all know that [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and this crowd are a bunch of communists, they hate Israel, they hate our own country, they’re calling the guards along our border—the Border Patrol agents—concentration camp guards,” Graham was quoted by the Beast. “They accuse people who support Israel as doing it for the benjamins, they are anti-Semitic, they are anti-America. Don’t get them—aim higher.”

He further called on the president to take aim at their policies rather than personally attacking them.“They’re socialists. They’re anti-Semitic,” Graham declared. “They stand for all the things that most Americans disagree with. Make them the face of the future of the Democratic Party. You will destroy the Democratic Party.”

Co-host Steve Doocy, meanwhile, wondered if Graham was saying the president went “too far” with his attacks. Graham, however, wasn’t about to go down that road.

“I don’t think—aim higher,” he stated. “They are American citizens. They won an election. Take on their policies.”

Trump was obviously extremely pleased with Graham’s on-air performance. A short time after the senator’s interview aired, the president fired off a series of tweets quoting Graham calling the Squad anti-America, finishing it off by asking: “Need I say more?”

While Republicans other than Graham in Washington have remained largely silent on Trump urging women of color to leave the country, the president’s tweets Sunday provided Democrats with an opportunity to show a united front, however temporary.

Democrats across the spectrum, from Ocasio-Cortez’s fellow progressives to close Pelosi allies such as Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York), denounced the tweets, with Jeffries calling Trump a “racial arsonist.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Hungry for approval: ‘Eating activism’ surfaces on Instagram

July 9, 2019

Honor your hunger,” proclaims one post on Instagram—and it represents only the leading edge of a new food movement powered by one of the only demographic groups that it still seems to be okay to mock.

 “I’m Katie, I’m fat, I love food and my life,” says the bio at the top of the Instagram account @fat.girl.eats.

And the images on the site are a testament to not only to her appetite—what 35-year-old office worker Katie Przybl describes as “Photos of me enjoying food while fat”—but also a cry for empathy and acceptance.

“My Instagram is all happy fat people living their lives,” Przybyl recently told The Daily Beast. 

And she has plenty of company, as a member of a growing online community of women who “are done fighting their weight.” Quite simply, they “are over” the whole shaming ethic and just want to live their lives authentically.

These armchair activists hope exposure to their pictures over time will do the quiet work of normalizing fat people. “If I manage to convince one fat person that they have a right to live a decent life, then I consider that a form of activism,” says Przybyl.

According to The Daily Beast, some 45 million Americans go on diets every year. Over half of those dieters are women—which is no surprise since research shows that many women have a relationship to food that is characterized by fear, loathing, and anxiety.

Just ask any fat woman about eating a burger in public and you’ll probably get a lengthy sigh. But in a world where we shop, date, and make friends virtually, what happens when fat women post pictures of themselves eating online?

Intuitive eating coach Alissa Rumsey created the Instagram hashtag #womeneatingfood along with fellow diet counselor Linda Tucker, The New Daily reports. The concept is simple. Women are invited to take photos of themselves eating and then post them online with the hashtag, which has grown from three pictures to over 1,100 in just three months.

On Instagram, where feeds are perpetually flooded with well-lit food tableaux and the pressure for perfection is immense, it’s rare to see ordinary, fat women eating food in all its caloric glory. Tucker says she regularly receives messages from people saying they want to post pictures but don’t feel ready.

The photos are sparking a discussion about who gets to eat in public, and why. Rumsey searched women eating food online and found a bounty of stock photos—all of thin, mostly white women delicately nibbling on salads. Rumsey searched “women eating food” and a couple of variations of that on Instagram and found a scant three photos. (#womeneatingbananas came up with hundreds of posts, though.)

“I wanted a place where you could see real women eating without apology, without talking about how good or bad they were being,” Rumsey told The Daily Beast.

And the movement has gone worldwide: The language of the captions changes from English to Finnish to Portuguese. Lots of the captions are long, with statements about who inspired them to post the pictures. One woman grins, a pile of ramen cascading from her mouth. #sorrynotsorry, her hashtag reads.

The comments often include applause emojis. The women are often thanked for posting. Lots of people write ‘yum!’ It’s surprisingly wholesome, with not a troll in sight.

“You guys! I ate a donut! And I don’t feel bad about it all!” posted one woman. “So happy for you,” responded another.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Will Congress confront Trump on Iran?

June 21, 2019

A U.S. drone was shot down during an “unprovoked attack” in international airspace above the Strait of Hormuz on June 20, according to U.S. Central Command; although Iran’s Revolutionary Guard disputed that claim—saying that it had struck the aircraft after it entered the nation’s airspace.

It was another “shot heard round the world”—but the U.S. Congress is hoping that the results will not be the same: combat and bloodshed, this time in Iran.

The news comes amid rising tensions in the region, The Daily Beast reports, after American officials blamed Iran on June 13 for what they said was an attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Iran at that time also denied any involvement.

And as the possibility of armed conflict with Iran grows stronger, legislators are struggling to settle on what—if anything—they are obligated to do, as the only branch with the constitutional authority to declare war.

Many lawmakers, including a odd-couple coalition of libertarian-minded Republicans and mainstream and progressive Democrats, are increasingly worried that the Trump administration might use, as a legal basis for war, the 18-year old authorization of military force ( or AUMF) that Congress approved immediately after the September 11 attacks, The Daily Beast noted. And as the possibility of conflict inches closer, they are making a play to force the administration to come to Congress and actually convince them military action is necessary.

Senators Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) co-authored a letter to President Trump on June 18, calling on him to explain his recent decisions to deploy additional troops to the Middle East. In the letter, the Senators asked for more information on the troops’ missions and expressed concern about escalating tensions leading to a war between the United States and Iran. They underscored the fact that the Trump Administration does not have the authority to start a war with Iran without authorization from Congress. Other signatories included Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) , Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky).

In addition, Kaine and several others, including Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), had filed an amendment the week before to the annual Department of Defense spending authorization that would block funds for a conflict with Iran unless Congress explicitly authorizes military action.

“The administration desperately wants to avoid coming to Congress on this, and it looks like they’re constructing an argument, the purpose of which is to avoid Congress,” said Kaine. “The purpose is not really to make a great argument about the 2001 AUMF.”

And in the House, The Daily Beast said, Representatives Ro Khanna (D-California) and Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) announced on June 17 that theywould introduce a resolution to block the administration from going to war with Iran on the basis of the 2001 AUMF. Such a measure would require Trump to obtain explicit congressional approval for any hostilities with Iran. Khanna told The Daily Beast that their resolution will likely make it to the House floor next week as an amendment to the House’s Pentagon authorization bill.

In the past, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has linked Iran with al Qaeda—which is specifically named in the 2001 AUMF—and claimed that the Iranian government has supported them, the news outlet reported. That claim is hotly contested by Iran experts.

President Trump, himself, has said repeatedly that he does not wish to escalate military actions into a war—but he also has refused to cooperate with Congress in recent weeks. What happens now is anybody’s guess.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

When Harry met Meghan: British media reports that Prince Philip told grandson not to marry actress

June 18, 2019

Prince Philip of the UK’s royal House of Windsor warned his grandson against marrying Meghan Markle, telling Prince Harry: “One steps out with actresses, one doesn’t marry them,” a new report by Britain’s The Sunday Times claims.

The straight-talking nonagenarian, who is Queen Elizabeth’s consort, is said to have made the comment in 2017, after Prince William also had advised Harry to think about whether he was “sure” he wanted to rush into marriage to Meghan, The Daily Beast reported on June 17.

The gossip was aired by society journalist Sophia Money-Coutts, a former writer at Tatler.

Harry ignored the urgings of his family and proposed to Meghan in November 2017, six months before they married.

Other friends, such as Tom Inskip, also urged Harry to progress more slowly, and were punished by being excluded from the after party of Harry’s wedding.

According to sources quoted by Money-Coutts: “Anybody who voiced any kind of reservation about Meghan has been sidelined.”

She also quotes another source on the roots of the feud with his brother: “Harry felt like William and Kate didn’t make enough effort when Meghan arrived at Kensington Palace; that they didn’t roll out the red carpet for her.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast