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Texas Governor Greg Abbott Jokes About Shooting Reporters

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) appears to be a pretty good shot ? and a horrible comedian.

A Texas Tribune reporter snapped a photo of Abbott showing off his target sheet on Friday, after which the governor ?jokingly? pointed to the bullet holes and threatened the media.

?I?m gonna carry this around in case I see any reporters,? Abbott said, according to reporter Patrick Svitek.

Abbott was on a victory lap at a shooting range after signing a bill on Friday that significantly reduces the fee for a license to carry a handgun in Texas. His office says the new law ?strengthens the 2nd Amendment,? but critics worry that the state is going too far with various gun measures.

Texas is trying to drastically ease requirements for gun ownership. In April, a House committee greenlighted a bill that would make it legal to carry a gun without a license. Another bill would nix a requirement that gun owners take a training course.

The Texas Tribune reports:

House Bill 375 ? authored by State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford ? is known as ?constitutional carry? and it would make the licensing process and classes to obtain a permit optional. The idea, according to Stickland, is that Texans shouldn?t be forced to take a course and pay a fee to exercise their Second Amendment rights. If passed, Texas would be the 11th state to allow constitutional carry.

A number of Texas Democrats oppose the proposal. State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, a critic of both the campus carry and open carry laws, said constitutional carry ?seems to be an unnecessary thing.? 

It?s no secret that Texas loves its guns. But Abbott?s quote is, at the very least, tone deaf. After all, Republican Greg Gianforte was charged with assault after allegedly body-slamming a Guardian reporter in Montana on Wednesday. He was elected to Congress the next day. 

Everyone saw that story ? media outlets pulled their endorsements of the candidate and the GOP appeared to keep its distance from him after the news broke. As it turns out, threatening or attacking reporters isn?t a good idea, although there appears to be a trajectory of anti-media rhetoric under President Donald Trump?s administration.

But it doesn?t matter whether these incidents are directly related to Trump?s campaign against the media or simply outliers ? the toxic environment is there. Trump has railed against all media so often and with such vitriol that press freedom has already taken a dive.

Trump called the press the ?enemy of the American people,? possibly asked then-FBI Director James Comey to imprison reporters, and joked with his head of Homeland Security that the department should consider using a ceremonial sword on the press.

Needless to say, journalists aren?t laughing along.  

But it goes both ways. In states like Texas and Montana, which have ?Stand Your Ground? laws, a reporter would have every right to shoot back in self-defense.

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Mom’s Rant About End-Of-The-Year Half Days Goes Viral

The end of the school year can be a chaotic time between the teacher gifts, report cards, special events and summer planning. And then there are those half days…

This mom is not having it.

On May 23, blogger Susannah B. Lewis, aka Whoa Susannah, posted a video rant on Facebook

 ?What?s the point of the end-of-the-year half day?? she asks in the video. ?That just means I ?half? to get up at 6:30, drag these kids out of bed, send them to school for three hours to get hyped up on sugar, high fructose corn syrup, Pixie Stix and doughnuts and cupcakes, and then I ?half? to go get them before the sugar high has even worn off.? 

Lewis? video has reached over 3.6 million views. Educators and fellow parents flooded the comments section to share their same woes.

The following day, Lewis shared a photo of her son during his final half day at school. 

Best of luck, mama!


H/T Today

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Toxic Masculinity And The Unsurprising ‘Body-Slamming’ Of A Reporter

Precisely one month before the presidential election, The Washington Post released audio of then-candidate Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women.

As the shocking tape spread rapidly across the internet, the media largely assumed the race was over ? that admitting to sexual assault would be disqualifying, that we could never elect a man who jokes about violence. It wasn?t, and we did. 

Trump chalked his comments up to ?locker room talk,? and his supporters followed suit. They insisted this is just the type of banter we should expect of boys and men, this is just the normal stuff guys talk about when girls are not around. Many Republican officials did condemn the tape, but most did not abandon him. 

The message sent to the American public was clear: Abuse isn?t fantastic, but it?s not that big of a deal, either.

The expectation of basic respect for other human beings diminishes when harmful values are valorized from the top down.

Fast forward seven months, and a GOP House candidate is dealing with the aftermath of reportedly body-slamming a reporter. According to an audio recording and eyewitness reports, The Guardian?s Ben Jacobs attempted to ask Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte, who is running in Montana?s special election, a question about his stance on the GOP health care bill in light of the Congressional Budget Office score

Fox News? Alicia Acuna, who was in the room, had this to say about what happened next: ?Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter.? 

?I?m sick and tired of you guys!? Gianforte yelled at Jacobs.

The incident is horrifying, yet given the current political climate, the negative rhetoric about the press, and the attitudes of the man who now sits in the White House, it?s not totally surprising. Americans placed a vessel of toxic masculinity into the highest office in the nation, and now we?re watching the inevitable trickle down.

Montana?s Billings Gazette rescinded their endorsement of Gianforte Thursday morning, noting how his past behavior must be looked at differently now.

?We?d point out that all the other questionable interactions Gianforte had with reporters, including one case where he joked about ganging up on a reporter, must now be seen through a much more sinister lens. What he passed off as a joke at the time now becomes much more serious,? wrote the Gazette?s editorial board. 

Of course, Gianforte?s previous ?joke? about wringing a reporter?s neck was no cause for alarm. Because this is what happens when the country rejects a zero tolerance policy when it comes to physical violence. This is what happens when we give abuse a pass. This is what happens when the President of the United States repeatedly calls journalists ?enemies of the American people? and encourages his supporters to harass them. 

Americans placed a vessel of toxic masculinity into the highest office in the nation, and now we?re watching the inevitable trickle down.

No, Donald Trump did not singlehandedly cause Gianforte to become violent, and Gianforte may have lashed out in the same way if someone else were President of the United States. But Trump has undoubtedly encouraged an atmosphere in which groups he targets become victims of violence.

?In the past three weeks, political reporters have described being arrested, pinned against a wall, slapped, and now body-slammed,? HuffPost?s Michael Calderone notes. 

It remains to be seen whether Gianforte or his Democratic opponent, Rob Quist, will win the race. What we do know, is that the conversation surrounding the acceptability of physical violence has shifted since 2015.

A reporter was trying to hold a candidate accountable by asking questions ? an action that?s both routine to the function of journalism and necessary for democracy ? and somehow his assault has become a partisan issue, something to debate, something to ?take a side? on. Supporters and pundits aren?t rejecting Gianforte?s behavior wholesale, and that?s because the culture our president and his leadership team enforce has given them permission not to.

BuzzFeed?s Charlie Warzel noted the praise he?s seeing on Twitter from Trump supporters:

Fox News? Laura Ingraham went so far as to compare Jacobs to a tattle-tale child, and asked what other Montana men would do if body-slammed, implying that ?real men? fight back:

And as the Associated Press? Mary Clare Jalonick reports, a GOP Congressman from California had this to say: 

The notion that being a man requires using brute force to get what you want, what you believe you deserve ? whether that be a woman?s pussy or the ability to dodge a tough policy question ? is all part of one toxic masculine package. These ideas existed before Trump and they will outlast him, but the expectation of basic respect for other human beings diminishes when harmful values are valorized from the top down. 

As the narrative surrounding the election goes: It?s not that Trump?s supporters voted for him because he was an abuser, they voted for him despite that. But the unfortunate truth is that intent doesn?t matter. The result is still the same, and a man who brags about sexual violence and calls the press an ?enemy? is now running the country. A legitimization of dangerous ideas about what it means to be a man was always going to be part of the package deal. 

Greg Gianforte?s assault of a reporter is one more manifestation of Trump culture. This is the country we live in now. 

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Trump Uses NATO Unity Ceremony To Bash European Allies on Military Spending

BRUSSELS ? President Donald Trump on Thursday publicly scolded European allies for taking advantage of U.S. taxpayers by failing to spend enough on defense ? while in private reportedly breaking with them over how to treat Russia, the country that worked to help get him elected.

?NATO members must fully contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations,?? he said at a ceremony intended to mark the alliance?s solidarity in responding to the 9/11 attacks on America.

?Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they?re supposed to be paying for their defense,? Trump said. ?This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States. And many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years.?

Trump spoke at NATO?s sparkling new headquarters building at the dedication of a memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks ? the only time in the alliance?s 68-year history that it invoked the ?Article 5? promise that an attack on one was the same as an attack on all. has ever been invoked.

Trump briefly acknowledged the military assistance NATO has provided in the war in Afghanistan, but spent more than a quarter of his eight-minute speech criticizing the alliance?s nations as several of their elected leaders stood by with uncomfortable looks on their faces.

Trump said he has been ?very, very direct?? with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and alliance members in saying that the they ?must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations.?

?Over the past eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined,? he said.

By referring to countries owing ?massive amounts of money,? though, Trump incorrectly described the nature of the organization. NATO does collect relatively modest due for the operation of its headquarters and other largely administrative functions. But the collective defense component comes through the member nations collecting taxes from their own citizens to pay for their own militaries, which then work together.

The concept of ?burden-sharing,? where other NATO members would increase their own defense spending, has been a U.S. priority long before Trump took office, and in fact became formalized in 2014.

That year, following the declaration of a ?caliphate? by the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria, immediately adjacent to NATO member Turkey, NATO agreed that each nation would ramp up its defense spending to 2 percent of its economy over the coming decade.

Trump termed the 2 percent figure ?insufficient to close he gaps in modernizing readiness and the size of forces.?

During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly criticized NATO and went so far as to suggest it could be dissolved as ?obsolete? because the Cold War had ended ? a view aligned with Russian leader Vladimir Putin?s criticisms of the alliance through the years.

Indeed, if Russia had hoped to drive a wedge between the U.S. and western Europe with its support of Trump?s candidacy, that strategy appears to be paying off.

European Council President Donald Tusk told reporters after a private meeting with Trump earlier Thursday that Russia appears to be an issue that will divide the U.S. and its traditional European allies.

?I?m not 100 percent sure we can say that we have a common position, a common opinion on Russia,? Tusk said, according to a report by the BBC. ?Although when it comes to the conflict on Ukraine, we were on the same line.?

In his remarks at the memorial dedication, Trump only in passing mentioned Russia. ?The NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration as well as threats from Russia and on NATO?s eastern and southern borders,? he said.

The bulk of the rest of his remarks focused on combatting Islamist terrorism.

The White House?s three-paragraph readout of Trump?s meeting with Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the three discussed ISIS, North Korea and trade, but did not mention Russia. The White House press office did not immediately respond to a query regarding Tusk?s reported statements.

U.S. intelligence services agree that their Russian counterparts covertly worked to harm the candidacy of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and to support Trump. Their tactics included stealing emails from Democrats and releasing embarrassing ones through WikiLeaks, the intelligence services have concluded.

Trump denies he knew anything about the assistance or that he colluded with Russians during the campaign. He did, however, fire FBI Director James Comey and cited the FBI?s probe into Russian meddling as a reason. And Comey in an internal memo said that Trump during a private meeting asked him to drop the FBI?s investigation into the president?s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, over his contacts with Russia. Flynn was forced to resign after less than a month in his post after he misled Vice President Mike Pence about those contacts.

Trump is scheduled to meet with the most prominent of the NATO allies he just criticized at Friday and Saturday?s meeting in Sicily of the G7, the world?s largest democracies. Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy are all G7 members.

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History-Making Queer Play Sheds Light On A Unique Relationship Challenge

An award-winning British play that explores an unusual journey toward love and acceptance within the LGBTQ community just made its hotly-anticipated New York debut. 

Jon Brittain?s ?Rotterdam,? which began performances at Manhattan?s 59E59 Theater May 17, follows Alice (played by Alice McCarthy), a closeted lesbian who plans to finally come out to her family after living with her partner in the Netherlands for seven years. At the same time, her partner (Anna Martine Freeman) tells Alice that he identifies as transgender.  

Though Brittain?s play grapples with themes of sexuality and identity, ?Rotterdam? is ultimately a romantic comedy and, as such, concludes on an upbeat note for its central couple. The playwright, whose theatrical résumé also includes ?A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)? and ?The Sexual Awakening of Peter Mayo,? told HuffPost that he began writing the play after several of his close friends came out to him as transgender. At the time, he said, he hadn?t seen many trans characters depicted in theater. 

?Over the years, I?ve tried to include LGBTQ characters in my work, even when they?re not the leads,? Brittain said. Over time, he became interested in ?the idea of a character who have come to terms with their sexuality, who would then have to reconcile with their partner?s sense of identity,? and then find a way to reconcile the relationship. 

Brittain, who identifies as straight, said he was aware that his perspective on queer issues could be interpreted as ?problematic? and, as such, went to extra lengths to ?do the legwork? and be ?respectful? as he wrote ?Rotterdam.?

?There was a slight worry in my mind that it would seem cynical. I am aware that I carry a huge male privilege into this arena,? he said. ?I know I?m writing about other people?s experiences… I like to think that I take that responsibility very seriously.?  

To that end, critics seem to be on board with Brittain?s work. ?Rotterdam,? which premiered at London?s Theatre 503, has received almost universal acclaim since its 2015 debut. The Evening Standard called it a ?lively, sensitive, hard-hitting piece about love, gender and sexuality,? while The Stage praised it for ?managing to speak eloquently about a complex issue.? It went on to make history in April when it nabbed an Olivier Award (the British version of a Tony Award) for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre. That honor made it the first play to feature a transgender protagonist to win an Olivier. 

Ultimately, Brittain would be happy if ?Rotterdam? encouraged conversations about LGBTQ relationships outside of the theater, too. 

?I think the play raises some questions more so than it comes down to specific answers,? he told HuffPost. ?It would great if people came away thinking, ?I need to educate myself and find out more,? and that those who have already educated themselves see it as a positive contribution to that conversation.?

Jon Brittain?s ?Rotterdam? runs at 59E59 Theater in New York through June 10. Head here for more details. 

Don?t miss the latest (and greatest) in LGBTQ entertainment! Subscribe to the Queer Voices newsletter.    

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Doctor Interrupts Anti-Vax Movie: ‘Your Presence Will Cause Babies To Die’

This is the moment a celebrated M?ori doctor crashed a special viewing of a controversial anti-vaccination documentary playing at a theater in Kaitaia in New Zealand?s Far North District this week.

The above video shows Dr. Lance O?Sullivan taking the stage to warn audience members watching ?Vaxxed? at his local theater of the dangers of the message behind the American documentary, which tries to link vaccines to autism.

?When I heard they were coming into town, there was no way I was going to let them come and peddle this misinformation and falsehood on my watch,? O?Sullivan told John Campbell, host of the Radio New Zealand show ?Checkpoint.? 

Event organizers had invited O?Sullivan to Monday?s screening but, as the above video shows, he made it clear to the audience that he?s not there to watch the documentary.

?I come here with a lot of anger,? the doctor says in the video after walking on to the stage. ?That?s because I am adamantly opposed to this because this position, this idea of anti-immunization has killed children around the world and actually will continue to kill children … whose parents have put off immunization because of misinformation ? misinformation based on lies, quite frankly.? 

He later added, ?Your presence here will cause children to die.?

In 2014, O?Sullivan was named New Zealander of the Year, a prestigious award in the country, for making healthcare more accessible for children and underprivileged communities in New Zealand. 

The film O?Sullivan was protesting, known fully as ?Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,? was directed by former doctor Andrew Wakefield. He was labeled an ?elaborate fraud? after an investigation found that he had misrepresented or altered patients? medical histories used in a 1998 study he authored that suggested a vaccine was linked to autism, according to CNN.

Wakefield?s study was discredited and the United Kingdom took away his medical license in May 2010. 

His documentary caused outrage when it was released in 2016, with the Tribeca Film Festival pulling ?Vaxxed? from its lineup.

And the U.K. National Autistic Society slammed Wakefield for premiering his documentary in London this year.

?Much research has been dedicated to exploring whether there is a link between autism and vaccines, and the results have repeatedly shown there is none,? Carol Povey, director of the society?s Center for Autism told HuffPost UK in January.

?This includes a comprehensive 2014 review of all available studies in this area, using data from more than 1.25 million children,? Povey added. ?Further, the 1998 study linking the MMR vaccine and autism has been completely discredited.?

Organizers in New Zealand did not disclose where they were screening Vaxxed? until three hours before the movie started, the news website reported.

The above video features a heated conversation between O?Sullivan and the event organizer, anti-vaccine activist Tricia Cheel, which took place outside of the theater Monday night, according to local station 1 News Now.

In the footage, Cheel maintains that vaccines have caused death and destoryed lives. O?Sullivan argues that playing ?Vaxxed? could negatively affect ?vulnerable communities? in New Zealand.

O?Sullivan told news channel Kawe K?rero Reporters on Wednesday that he was enraged that the documentary was playing in the community in which he worked.

?We know that there is significant benefit gained from immunizing our children,? he said. ?My greatest concern is that the most vulnerable in our community, our M?ori children, will be affected by this propaganda which is just lies.?

In the video below, watch O?Sullivan defend his appearance at the theater and detail his experience working with children who were dying from a vaccine-preventable infectious disease.

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How To Tell A New Partner You Have A Mental Illness

I cried in his arms our first night together. I?m not good, I kept repeating, tears falling into my ears as he caressed my face. I knew what love required, and I knew that, time and again, I?d failed at giving it because of the ways my anxiety distorted my thinking, and my panic disorder made me alternately dependent, selfish, and needy.

I wanted to write him a guide for loving me, so he could understand that when I tried to break up with him when one thing went wrong, when I changed plans because I didn?t feel like I could leave my house, when I criticized him much too harshly, it was because of faulty thought patterns and neurochemical flare-ups, not because I didn?t love him.

Love is hard for nearly everyone. But for those with anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses, love can be a minefield. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 18.5 percent of adults in this country live with a diagnosed mental illness. That?s roughly 1 in 5 people, or 44 million total.

For years, my relationships would end abruptly because I hadn?t prepared the men I loved for the ways I?d lash out when I became claustrophobic; how I?d become distant and cold when panicked, and suddenly clingy and hot when the panic had passed; how I?d pick them apart against my will, obsessing over perceived shortcomings and imperfections, burning with embarrassment when they held forth at dinner parties or cowering with shame when I deemed them too shy.

After I ended my last relationship, I worked with a therapist on how to prepare myself and my partners for being in a romantic relationship not only with me, but with my anxiety and panic ? and how my partner could support me, himself, and us through it.

Dr. Ayelet Krieger, a psychologist who practices in the Bay Area, believes disclosing a mental illness early in a relationship is crucial.

?I like to talk about striking when the iron is cold,? she says. ?You don?t want to tell your partner about your diagnosis when you?re in the throes of a crisis. It?s more productive to talk about it when you?re calm.?

Avi Steinhardt, a licensed clinical social worker in Brooklyn, New York, agrees. ?Many of the risks of disclosing a mental illness are similar to the risks of falling in love,? he says. ?How will this new, suddenly important person react? Will it scare them away? Unfortunately there is still stigma and misconceptions about mental illness in our culture, so there?s a good chance that this person has absorbed some misinformation over the years. But how a person responds to your disclosure may tell you a lot about this person?s sensitivity, biases, and capacity to listen with an open heart. If there is a risk that they won?t be sensitive enough, it is also good to know early on that this person would likely not be a good match.?

Rebecca Chamaa, who has paranoid schizophrenia, was dating her boyfriend long-distance. About three months into the relationship, she was hospitalized after a suicide attempt.

?After my release, I told him about my diagnosis,? she recalled. ?He told me he didn?t know if he could handle it. I said, ?Fair enough.? But we were in love. The information may have given him pause, but it didn?t scare him away.?

?We were married less than a year later, and since that time my husband has been my number one fan and biggest help and support,? she went on. ?I?m glad I was honest with him, and he was able to decide whether he wanted to give our relationship a try or walk away. The best thing that ever happened to me is that he stayed.?

They have now been married for 19 years.

Disclosing can be a valuable litmus test of whether a partner is a good long-term match. Sometimes, it turns out they?re not. Stephy Hamrick, who has complex post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, experienced this when she disclosed to a new partner.

?The first time I spent the night, the sound of his belt buckle as he undressed caused me to completely freeze and shut down, and I had to explain,? she remembers.

At first he was gentle with her, and very understanding. But a few months later, when he witnessed her depression, he didn?t know how to react.

?He had only seen the charming, adventurous optimist I was when healthy,? she said. ?When my physical and mental health crashed, he couldn?t wrap his head around the amount of pain I was in, no matter how much I tried to explain it.?

It?s sometimes difficult for those who have never experienced a mental illness to grasp how debilitating it can be.

?You can say you?re drowning, but a fish has no frame of reference for that experience,? Hamrick says. ?I thought I was disclosing fully, but he didn?t understand until I texted him at work to tell him that one of my friends was taking me to the psychiatric ER because I was suicidal.?

If Hamrick could do it over, she would be much more explicit in describing the seriousness of her depression.

?I didn?t realize he didn?t understand the difference between the clinical use of the term ?depression? and its popular use,? she said. ?Next time, I will spell it out a lot more clearly.?

The good news is that educating oneself and one?s partner about mental illness is easier than it?s ever been. ?There?s so much information online and blogs kept by people who struggle with mental health,? Krieger says. ?The more you learn, the more you realize how common these are.?

Another positive aspect of early disclosure is that it can jump-start vulnerability. When one person opens up about something sensitive or challenging, it can elicit trust and an equal willingness to be vulnerable in the other. ?It?s rare there?s a relationship in which one person is perfect and one is complicated,? Krieger says. ?Both people usually have ?stuff.? Disclosing is dropping into that trust and vulnerability sooner.?

Iesha Williams waited 11 months and until she was married to tell her husband about her anxiety and depression.

?It wasn?t a planned conversation,? she remembers. ?We talked about my depression on the anniversary of losing a baby, which was an emotional trigger. The depression was intense and seemed inescapable. Thankfully, he listened and was attentive to what I expressed.?

?He admitted to not fully understanding, but did everything in his power to support me,? she went on. ?Disclosing my struggles made us stronger and better able to support, understand, and love one another. I?m very glad I disclosed.?

Steinhardt believes these conversations often result in both partners feeling more known, accepted, and loved.

?I can?t think of a romantic relationship where we don?t need to tell one another how we need to be loved, what our challenges are, our triggers, our weaknesses,? he says.

Confronting something this real and personal early in a relationship can be a catapult into deep intimacy and trust.

I told Joel everything right away, that first night. He responded beautifully, holding me and sharing painful aspects of his own life. Within the first few weeks, I taught him about common anxiety-induced relationship pitfalls, and more about panic. Four months in, he has been unfailingly responsive and calm, encouraging and nurturing, and inspires me to be the same with him.

Still, I?ve tried to end it a few times, to save us both the trouble. He reminds me this is part of it: the doubting, the fear, the bliss.

One evening I arrived late to a concert and saw him sitting there, eyes closed, body still. We walked wordlessly toward each other through the crowd and rubbed our faces together, swaying slowly. I let myself submit just the smallest bit more. A woman near us said, ?Ah, love.?

We listened to the music.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.

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When It Comes To The Seth Rich Conspiracies, Enough Is Enough

We?ve always had fringe conspiracy theories floating in the ether, but it seems like now ? perhaps because of social media – they are more visible than ever.

Lord knows there have been a million insane conspiracy theories revolving around President Trump and Russia. My personal favorite was the one that claimed the Russian government had been grooming him to be president of the United States since the 1980s. Gotta love those Russians ? always playing the long game!

But now we are being constantly bombarded with stories about the death of former DNC staffer Seth Rich.

Look, I get it. The same way that those on the left just cannot accept Hillary Clinton?s defeat and desperately want to cling to some other explanation ? even if the Russians were behind the release of DNC/Podesta emails, there is no evidence that stuff did anything to sway votes in PA, Michigan, and Wisconsin ? so to, do some elements of the right want their own biases confirmed.

This is what makes ?fake news? spread ? an eagerness to believe anything that supports your previously held belief.

The problem with the Seth Rich theories is that law enforcement has already debunked them. Not to mention the main source pushing them ? the notorious Kim Dotcom ? has been shown to be a liar on stuff like this before. If you?ll recall, he famously said he had a way to recover all of Hillary Clinton?s deleted emails, yet somehow, he was never able to make them reappear.

And shame on Sean Hannity for running with this nonsense. I?ve met Sean personally and have found him to be a very nice guy. Many others ? including a lot of people who despise Hannity?s politics ? would say the same. The majority of people don?t know anything about some of the truly nice things Hannity does for people behind the scenes, and that?s to Sean?s credit, as he doesn?t want any philanthropic stuff he engages in to be about him.

That said, this past election cycle has clearly driven him insane. Whereas he was previously just a right-wing talking head with whom I agreed sometimes and disagreed sometimes, he has now become a full-blown conspiracy loon who gins up crazy stories and repeats White House talking points.

If you know me or have read my writing, you know that I am a supporter of the president. But that doesn?t mean I accept everything he does or says uncritically. And it certainly doesn?t mean spreading ridiculous conspiracy theories just because they suit an agenda.

Being able to think for yourself is a very important tool to have in one?s intellectual arsenal.

Sean Hannity has completely lost that aspect of himself. I realize he was always biased but he has gone into dangerous territory now that he may never come back from.

Sadly, what Hannity is doing here is far worse than the spreading of most conspiracies. Most of those we can just shrug off and laugh at. But this is especially awful because of the pain it is causing Seth Rich?s family, made even more terrible by the fact that they have literally BEGGED Hannity to stop using Rich?s death to further a political agenda.

Thus far, he has ignored their pleas, which is beyond shameful. I?m a father and if one of my children were killed and some television host tried to use that death for a ratings or political ploy, I would be beyond enraged, justifiably so.

So while I know people with far bigger platforms than I have said this already, I say this to Sean Hannity and the rest continuing to spread the Seth Rich conspiracy: please stop. There is a family hurting and you have done enough unnecessary damage already.

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

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The DEA Misled Congress About Deadly Shooting In Honduras

WASHINGTON ? The Drug Enforcement Administration misled Congress about a 2012 shooting in Honduras that left four innocent people dead, including a 14-year-old boy, according to a new report from the Justice Department?s internal watchdog.

A DEA agent in a helicopter gave an order to fire upon a passenger boat in Ahuas, Honduras, on May 11, 2012. The boat, which was carrying 12 passengers, had came into contact with a small motorized canoe that had been used for drug smuggling and commandeered by a DEA agent and two Honduras police officers. The police officers in the smaller boat fired upon the larger boat, and a DEA agent in a helicopter ordered another Honduran police officer to fire upon the boat. Four people were killed, and no drugs were found. Some initial reports suggested there was a firefight, but there?s no evidence that anyone in the passenger boat fired at the officers.

The Inspector General report found that Operation Anvil was poorly planned, that the DEA misled Congress and the public about the role the agency played in the operation, and that the post-shooting review was significantly flawed. The deadly incident was the subject of a 2014 investigation by The New Yorker.

Read the report here.

The report also focuses on two separate shooting incidents involving DEA agents in the months following May 2012. The Honduran police misrepresented the incident in both cases, according to the report. In one instance, Honduran police officers apparently planted a weapon on the scene of a shooting in which two DEA officers fatally shot a pilot who had been unarmed but made ?furtive movement? and disobeyed commands to exit a suspect plane that had crash landed.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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Trump Praised Philippines President Duterte For Drug War That Has Killed 9,000 People

President Donald Trump opened a brief April phone call with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte by commending the strongman?s bloody war on drugs, according to a transcript obtained by The Washington Post and the The Intercept.

?I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,? said Trump. ?Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.?

Trump then criticized former President Barack Obama, who had spoken out against Duterte?s violent anti-drug offensive that has killed an estimated 9,000 people, including many small-time users and dealers.

?I understand that and fully understand that and I think we had a previous president who did not understand that, but I understand that and we have spoken about this before,? Trump said, according to the transcript.

A senior Trump administration official told the Post the transcript is accurate, but would not speak on the record about a ?leaked? document.

The transcript, provided to the outlets by a source in the Philippines and authenticated by Rappler, a Philippines news outlet that partnered with the Intercept, is further confirmation of Trump?s uncharacteristic friendliness toward autocratic world leaders. It also is likely to raise fears that harsh rhetoric from Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on what they call the scourge of drug abuse and addiction may give way to more militant action in the future.

In his call with Trump, Duterte similarly called drugs ?the scourge of my nation,? according to the transcript.

White House officials initially characterized the April call as ?a very friendly conversation,? during which Trump had invited Duterte to visit Washington. That development reportedly surprised White House staffers and drew widespread condemnation from human rights groups, which have accused Duterte of condoning a lawless drug war that has terrorized the nation with a campaign of extrajudicial killings carried out by vigilantes and police officers. Duterte has seemingly embraced this barbaric depiction, comparing himself with Adolf Hitler on a mission to kill millions of drug addicts.

?By essentially endorsing Duterte?s murderous war on drugs, Trump is now morally complicit in future killings,? John Sifton, Asia advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, told The New York Times in April. ?Although the traits of his personality likely make it impossible, Trump should be ashamed of himself.?

Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit that supports the progressive reform of drug laws, called Trump?s remarks ?a new low.?

?It fills me with disgust to see the U.S. president congratulate someone who has overseen the massacre of thousands of his own people in the name of the war on drugs,? Collins said in a statement to HuffPost. ?The U.S. government should be urging restraint and respect for human rights; instead Trump gives Duterte?s deadly drug war his seal of approval.?


Trump?s support for Duterte?s tactics also mark a significant departure from the policies of Obama?s administration, which had shown a willingness to confront the Philippines president on the issue of drug enforcement. Ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in September, Obama said he?d bring up the drug war during a planned meeting with Duterte, because he believed in the need to ?have due process and to engage in that fight against drugs in a way that?s consistent with basic international norms.?

Duterte responded by calling Obama a Taglog phrase for ?son of a bitch,? and the meeting was canceled.

Trump and Duterte, during their call, also discussed escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, and expressed concerns about North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, whom Trump called a ?madman with nuclear weapons.? Days later, Trump said he?d be ?honored? to meet with the North Korean dictator.

Trump and Duterte agreed that China would play a pivotal role in keeping North Korea in check, and warding off the possibility of military action.

?We have a lot of firepower over there. We have two submarines ? the best in the world ? we have two nuclear submarines ? not that we want to use them at all,? said Trump, according to the transcript. ?I?ve never seen anything like they are but we don?t have to use this but he could be crazy so we will see what happens.?

This article has been updated to include the comment of Michael Collins.

Click here for the full story from The Intercept.

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What People Really Think About Their Moms’ Wedding Gowns

Some wedding dresses stand the test of time, and others ? well, not so much.

In a recent video, Brides editors describe their moms? wedding gowns and tell the stories behind the special garments. One dress was stained when the bride fainted at the altar, another was impressively hand-tailored by the bride herself and several boasted some of those signature 80s poofy sleeves. 

Watch the video above to see what these daughters and sons had to say about their moms? big day fashion choices. 

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Anna Camp Teases ‘Pretty Crazy’ Action In ‘Pitch Perfect 3’

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Anna Camp has had roles in everything from ?Mad Men? to ?How I Met Your Mother? to ?The Mindy Project? to ?True Blood.? But, let?s face it: you?re here because of ?Pitch Perfect.? Anna?s stunning digestive pyrotechnics made her a breakout star in the first ?Pitch Perfect? film. Five years later, Anna and her fellow castmates have wrapped filming on ?Pitch Perfect 3.? To top it all off, Anna returned to the small screen this weekend in the Netflix series ?Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.?

We recently chatted with Anna about her ?aca-awesome? career, the secret talent she?s kept hidden all these years and her least favorite summer trend.

You recently wrapped filming on ?Pitch Perfect 3.? What can fans expect from the third installment?

Fans can expect a lot of singing, a lot of dancing, and, to be honest, this is the most action-packed of the movies that we?ve shot. There?s a lot of stunt work. We?re running, we?re jumping off of boats … I mean, I can?t give anything else away, but it?s pretty crazy.

So it?s like ?Pitch Perfect,? but ?Mission: Impossible? edition?

Kind of! We were all sitting there, going, ?Remember when we shot the first one?? We were wearing these little airline stewardess outfits and going to sing in basements in weird places in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where we shot it. Now they built a YACHT. There could be some explosions. Something to look forward to!

This is a big week for you, because ?Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? hits Netflix this weekend. Your character in the show has been described as both ?majestic? and ?terrifying? ? what?s it like playing a nefarious Manhattan mom?

I love Deirdre Robespierre. She is like no one I?ve ever played. I know I play a lot of uptight, kind of bitchy characters, but Deirdre … she?s panicking inside. Sometimes her panic and fear spills out of her, but then she completely recovers. It?s the most fun I?ve ever had, and I think that it?s because it?s so well-written. The character was already on the page, and I just knew her. I knew who that person was. I had friends whose moms were like that, so I could draw from that. She?s the most fun to play. I love her. She?s crazy, and I love playing crazy.

We?re so excited about the latest season!

It?s going to be so good. I?m so happy to be a part of it. It was one of my favorite shows for the first season, so when they asked me to be in the second, I was like, ?Oh, God, this is great!?

What?s the environment like on set?

It?s really creative and really comedic. The first time that I shot one of the scenes in one of my first episodes, Tina kept going, ?Go bigger! Go bigger!? And I was like ?Bigger?? And she was like, ?Yeah! You can?t do anything wrong.? That?s the best direction that you can get as an actor, because you?re just limitless. The options are limitless. You can be totally free and totally crazy. And they used some of my biggest takes! They really know what they?re doing over there ? it?s really really fun.

What?s your favorite word to put ?aca-? in front of?

My favorite word to put ?aca? in front of has to be ?awesome.? Aca-awesome. Because that?s aca-awesome! 

What?s one thing your fans might not know about you?

I can make an awesome ? an *aca-awesome* trumpet sound with my mouth. I got to do it in ?Pitch Perfect 3? and I hope it makes it in there.

Which summer fashion trend do you think is highly overrated?

I don?t know if it?s overrated, but I kind of feel like it makes no sense. It?s those shirts that are kind of long sleeved yet there are holes in just the shoulders. So if your shoulders are getting really hot, they get, like, a breeze? I?m just kind of confused by them.

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Women In Their 30s Are Now Having More Babies Than Those In Their 20s And More Top Parenting Stories

From mom swimsuits to Tina Fey, here is the biggest news for moms and dads from the last week. For more parenting news and first-person stories, visit HuffPost Parents or sign up for our newsletter.

Women In Their 30s Are Now Having More Babies Than Those In Their 20s

According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women in their 30s are now having more babies than women in their 20s in the U.S.

Analyzing preliminary data from 2016, the CDC found that the birth rate for women ages 30 to 34 jumped to about 102.6 births per 1,000 women from 101.5 per 1,000 in 2015. Meanwhile, the birth rate for women ages 25-29 (the demographic with the highest birth rate for more than three decades) fell from 104.3 per 1,000 in 2015 to 101.9 per 1,000 in 2016. For the whole story, click here.

It Only Took These Moms 5 Minutes To Hilariously Sum Up Swimsuit Season

Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley, the creators behind the web series ?#IMomSoHard? released a video on Thursday in which they tackle the pressures of putting on a swimsuit and offer some encouraging advice to fellow mothers.

In the hilarious video, which was viewed more than 5 million times in 24 hours, the moms laugh along with each other as they model ?unreasonable? swimsuits with various cutouts and designs.

Dad Raises Thousands To Cover Student Lunch Debt In Washington State

A Seattle dad of three is improving lunchtime for kids he?s never even met with a selfless mission.

As of Thursday afternoon, Jeffrey Lew has raised more than $25,000 on GoFundMe to erase the lunch debt, or debt students rack up when they can?t afford lunch, in Seattle public schools.

Lew told HuffPost that hearing about schools shaming kids for not having enough lunch money sparked the idea for his fundraiser. He read about schools throwing out students? food and forcing them to clean in front of their peers for simply not having money in their lunch account.

?Seeing that, hearing about that, reading about that, it really just broke my heart,? he told HuffPost. 

Moms Turn Their Pregnant Bellies Into Works Of Art In Imaginative New Trend

A creative app is giving moms the ability to show off their artistic sides and their pregnant bellies at the same time.

Using a photo-editing app called PicsArt, pregnant women are imagining what their babies look like in utero by adding colorful and cartoon-like details to photos of themselves. Some of the edited photos feature lifelike images of babies in the womb, while others are a bit more abstract. Many moms are sharing their edited images on Instagram using the hashtag #BabyInBelly.

23 Times Tina Fey Hilariously Summed Up Parenting

Tina Fey seems to know the highs and lows of parenting all too well. 

The famous funny mom has two daughters, 11-year-old Alice and 5-year-old Penelope. Throughout her time as a parent, Fey has been very candid about her experience ? from the relatable motherhood passages in her best-selling book Bossypants to her countless hilarious interviews.


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