J Street, the left-leaning, pro-peace Israel lobbying/political group that came onto the scene in 2008 as a counterweight to the conservative Israel lobby, is up on the air with its second TV ad ever, defending Rep. Joe Sestak from claims of anti-Israel ties in his Pennsylvania Senate race against former Club for Growth President Pat Toomey.
The ad will air in major Pennsylvania media markets over the next two weeks, and it counters an attack ad by a new conservative group headed by William Kristol and Gary Bauer, called the Emergency Committee for Israel, which points out that Sestak "raised money for" CAIR (the Council on American Islamic Relations) and that the group has been referred to as having ties with Hamas.
Here the ad from J Street's political action committee 501(c)(4) arm, pointing out Sestak's support for Israel aid and for a two-state solution, which J Street backs:
And here's the ad from ECI. The group launched last Monday; so far, the Sestak ad is all it has done. ECI is organized as a 501(c)(4), which means it doesn't have to disclose its funding and will be limited on its paid-media campaigns closer to Election Day.
The messy bits of fact and intrigue: Sestak's campaign counsel sent a letter to Comcast asking that it stop airing ECI's ad, on the grounds that the ad was misleading. Sestak didn't help raise money for CAIR, the campaign said: he merely spoke at a banquet that didn't involve fundraising, and he's never solicited donations for the group. CAIR wasn't referred to as a "front group for Hamas" by the FBI writ large, Sestak's counsel said, just by one FBI agent testifying in one court case. ECI then penned a reply, backing up the factualities and noting that Sestak keynoted a "banquet and fundraiser" event for CAIR.
(Interesting note: Toomey is a fiscal conservative, and fiscal conservatives don't like foreign aid. So he actually voted against billions in foreign aid to Israel while a member of the House, when it came up in several appropriations bills covering all foreign aid for separate fiscal years. Sestak, as the J Street ad points out, has voted for foreign aid appropriations bills.)
This exchange between ECI and J Street may be a blueprint for campaign battles over Israel policy in the coming midterms. J Street has said that part of its mission is to defend political candidates from pressure to take a hard line on Israel policy. They've begun raising money, donating, and spending it on behalf of candidates. The traditional Israel lobbying powerhouse, AIPAC, which J Street confronts on ideological grounds, doesn't raise, donate, and spend money like J Street does, so the rightward (or perhaps just less conditional) pro-Israel crowd will likely get involved in campaigns through other groups, like ECI. ECI says it plans to get involved in other races, but it won't discuss future activity beyond that; J Street, if it lives up to its stated goals, will be there to meet them.
It will be had to tell who's winning the campaign-year Israel battle. As a 501(c)(4), ECI doesn't have to disclose how much money it has or where it comes from. While J Street's PAC does, J Street's other arms (a 501(c)(4) and a 501(c)(3)) don't, and the group doesn't say how much it's spending on its ad campaigns.* We'll have to find out through Federal Election Commission reports.
Nonetheless, campaign skirmishes over stances on Israel are something to watch this election season, as J Street looks to make a move and cement the momentum it's gained in the last two years, and as groups like ECI look to maintain Congress's traditionally staunch, unconditional backing of Israel and its government.
*As noted above in a strikethrough correction, J Street's ad was purchased through its 501(c)(4) arm.
She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.
The ashes filled a black plastic box about the size of a toaster. It weighed three and a half pounds. I put it in a canvas tote bag and packed it in my suitcase this past July for the transpacific flight to Manila. From there I would travel by car to a rural village. When I arrived, I would hand over all that was left of the woman who had spent 56 years as a slave in my family’s household.
The condition has long been considered untreatable. Experts can spot it in a child as young as 3 or 4. But a new clinical approach offers hope.
This is a good day, Samantha tells me: 10 on a scale of 10. We’re sitting in a conference room at the San Marcos Treatment Center, just south of Austin, Texas, a space that has witnessed countless difficult conversations between troubled children, their worried parents, and clinical therapists. But today promises unalloyed joy. Samantha’s mother is visiting from Idaho, as she does every six weeks, which means lunch off campus and an excursion to Target. The girl needs supplies: new jeans, yoga pants, nail polish.
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At 11, Samantha is just over 5 feet tall and has wavy black hair and a steady gaze. She flashes a smile when I ask about her favorite subject (history), and grimaces when I ask about her least favorite (math). She seems poised and cheerful, a normal preteen. But when we steer into uncomfortable territory—the events that led her to this juvenile-treatment facility nearly 2,000 miles from her family—Samantha hesitates and looks down at her hands. “I wanted the whole world to myself,” she says. “So I made a whole entire book about how to hurt people.”
The president’s business tells lawmakers it is too difficult to track all its foreign revenue in accordance with constitutional requirements, and it hasn’t asked Congress for a permission slip.
Days before taking office, Donald Trump said his company would donate all profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury, part of an effort to avoid even the appearance of a conflict with the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
Now, however, the Trump Organization is telling Congress that determining exactly how much of its profits come from foreign governments is simply more trouble than it’s worth.
In response to a document request from the House Oversight Committee, Trump’s company sent a copy of an eight-page pamphlet detailing how it plans to track payments it receives from foreign governments at the firm’s many hotels, golf courses, and restaurants across the globe. But while the Trump Organization said it would set aside all money it collects from customers that identify themselves as representing a foreign government, it would not undertake a more intensive effort to determine if a payment would violate the Constitution’s prohibition on public office holders accepting an “emolument” from a foreign state.
When the FBI discovered a network of Bosnian-Americans giving support to terrorists, they also discovered Abdullah Ramo Pazara, a U.S. citizen and a battalion commander in Syria.
Abdullah Ramo Pazara had a craving for packets of instant hot cocoa. The Bosnian-American former truck driver was, at the time, a commander of an Islamic State tank battalion in Syria. Apparently, even foreign fighters who reject their former lives in Western countries for a chance at martyrdom for ISIS sometimes long for the creature comforts of their previous homes.
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In 2013, six Bosnian immigrants in the United States allegedly sent money, riflescopes, knives, military equipment, and other supplies to jihadists in Syria and Iraq through intermediaries in Bosnia and Turkey. According to the U.S. government’s allegations, individual ISIS fighters would make specific requests—mostly for money and military equipment—and the group would then raise funds and send supplies to Syria. The requests included what was surely an unexpected revelation of nostalgia—packets of Swiss Miss hot cocoa. By sending the cocoa mix and other supplies, federal prosecutors argue, these U.S.-based Bosnians provided what is known as “material support” to terrorists, in violation of the Patriot Act.
Maine attached work requirements and time limits to its safety net, intensifying poverty in the state.
ORLAND, Maine—In the eyes of the state of Maine, Laurie Kane is an able-bodied adult without dependents, and thus ineligible for most forms of government support. In her own eyes, it is hard to see how she is going to find housing, work, and stability without help.
Kane is struggling to put her life back together amid a spell of homelessness that has lasted for three years. She has a severe anxiety condition, along with other health problems, and had suffered a panic attack on the day I met her. But she had not managed to sign up for MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program, because she cannot get a doctor to certify her as being disabled. That’s not because a doctor has evaluated her and found her to be fine, but because she’s been unable to get a doctor’s appointment. “I was denied MaineCare because I’m considered an able-bodied person,” she told me. “A lot of people say, ‘Well, you can just get free care.’ They say, ‘You can go to a clinic with a sliding-fee scale, which would be $20 a visit.’ But what if I can’t come up with $20?”
The television host is chalking up the loss to a liberal media crusade.
At least five advertising firms have pulled their commercials from the Sean Hannity Show on Fox News following the television host’s coverage of a false murder conspiracy. On Tuesday of last week, Hannity reiterated a now-debunked theory regarding the death of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee employee who was gunned down last summer in Washington, D.C. While local police suspect the shooting to be a botched robbery, Hannity claimed that Rich was murdered over his alleged ties to WikiLeaks. Moreover, Hannity argued on Twitter that the story could potentially discount any evidence of collusion between Russian officials and the Trump administration leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election:
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
They’re so steady that you can balance a dead one on a single leg.
Young-Hui Chang can remember exactly when he realized how flamingos balance so effortlessly on one leg.
He and a fellow biologist Lena Ting suspected that the pink birds might have features on their legs that help lock their joints in place. But when they started dissecting one, they couldn’t find anything. With the bird lying flat on their table, they tried moving its legs this way and that. Nothing. And then Ting said: Why don’t you try and pick it up by the leg?
Chang grabbed the bird by its shin and held it upright—and the leg snapped into place, becoming rigid and unyielding. The flamingo looked almost like it was sleeping—one leg extended, the other bent, and the head tucked back into its feathers. And Chang probably looked like a fever-dream version of Mary Poppins, holding a dead flamingo aloft like the world’s unlikeliest umbrella. “It was a lightbulb moment,” he says. “We weren’t expecting it to be stable, but it totally was.”
Speaking in front of the leaders of its member-nations, the president fails to make clear the United States still has the alliance’s back.
Updated at 5:07 p.m.
BRUSSELS — President Trump did not explicitly endorse the mutual-aid clause of the North Atlantic Treaty at the NATO summit on Thursday despite previous indications that he was planning to do so, keeping in place the cloud of ambiguity hanging over the relationship between the United States and the alliance.
Speaking in front of a 9/11 and Article 5 Memorial at the new NATO headquarters, Trump praised NATO’s response to the 9/11 attacks and spoke of “the commitments that bind us together as one.”
But he did not specifically commit to honor Article 5, which stipulates that other NATO allies must come to the aid of an ally under attack if it is invoked.
The only time in history that Article 5 has been invoked was after the September 11 attacks, a fact that Trump mentioned. The memorial Trump was dedicating is a piece of steel from the North Tower that fell during the attacks.