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    FBI Investigated Orlando Nightclub Gunman Twice Before
    Photo: AP

    Just before he walked into Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, early Sunday morning and opened fire, killing 50, Omar Mir Seddique Mateen called 911 to pledge allegiance to the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, also referencing the Tsarnaev brothers. But his extremism was apparently already known—the FBI had previously investigated him on at least two separate occasions.

    “He’s a known quantity,” an unnamed senior law enforcement source told The Daily Beast. “He’s been on the radar before.” CBS News also reports that Mateen became a person of interest to the FBI “within the last five years.”

    Born “Omar Mir Seddique” in New York, court records show that Mateen, an American citizen living in Port St. Lucie, Florida, adopted his new surname in 2006. Mateen worked as a security guard and had a Class G gun license, permitting him to carry a handgun. He was also carrying an AR-15 with high-capacity magazines. He was killed after a gunfight with SWAT officers inside the club.

    At a press conference on Sunday afternoon, special agent in charge Ronald Hopper confirmed that the FBI first became aware of Mateen in 2013, after he made inflammatory comments to coworkers. He was investigated again in 2014, after he was linked to a suicide bomber.

    “We know enough to say this is an act of terror and an act of hate,” President Barack Obama said at a news conference Sunday. According to the New York Times, federal law enforcement officials have not yet found any direct link between the shooter and a wider terrorist network.

    Ronald Hopper, an assistant agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s Tampa Division, raised the possibility that the killer was an Islamist radical, and law enforcement officials said they were investigating the massacre as a terrorist attack. The F.B.I. set up a hotline for tips.

    “We do have suggestions that that individual may have leanings towards that, that particular ideology,” Agent Hopper said at a news conference. “But right now we can’t say definitively, so we’re still running everything around.”

    Representative Adam B. Schiff, a California Democrat who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, issued a statement saying law enforcement officials told him that the gunman had pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State.

    The Islamic State’s official news outlet claimed responsibility for the attack, Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi reported on twitter.

    Last month, ISIS encouraged militants to strike during the holy month of Ramadan. “Make it, Allah permitting, a month of hurt on the infidels everywhere,” spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said. Al-Adnani emphasized the vulnerability of so-called soft targets (like nightclubs), and reassured militants that civilians in the West are not innocent.

    “We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured,” Rasha Mubarak, the Orlando regional coordinator of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement. “The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence.”

    The shooting is the deadliest in United States history.

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    Donald Trump Has Joined Media Twitter
    Photo: AP

    Donald Trump today briefly used his Twitter account to do something other than troll the American public—he started tweeting like some kind of reporter.

    In fact, his tweets actually more resembled a reporter’s than it initially appeared. CNN’s Brian Stelter points out his tweet was likely aggregated without attribution, if we’re being polite, from right-wing author and talking head Sebastian Gorka.

    Not the worst strategy, I guess—it’s worked for scores of new media reporters before him, and they’re doing just fine.

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    Leading Rabbis Condemn Trump’s Anti-Muslim and Anti-Mexican Racism 
    Photo: AP

    Four leading rabbis denounced presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump for his racist rhetoric, in a press release on Friday, Haaretz reports. The letter was published just ahead of a speech Trump made at a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington D.C., in which he argued against setting aside government funds to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States and railed against “radical Islamic terrorism.”

    The four rabbis who contributed to the letter are Rabbi Gil Steinlauf of Adas Israel Congregation; Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism; Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Washington’s Ohev Shalom synagogue; and Steve Gutow, a Reconstructionist rabbi.

    Rabbi Yoffie’s comment concerned national security and civil rights:

    If Muslims are not free and safe in America, then Christians and Jews are not free and safe in America. If Latinos are not free and safe in America, then no ethnic group is free and safe in America.

    Rabbi Steinlauf wrote that Trump’s anti-Muslim and anti-Mexican comments in particular have emboldened white supremacists, and urged Jews to be vociferous in their opposition to Trump, saying, “The Jewish people must speak out in solidarity with all our brothers and sisters who are under threat by Trump.”

    Jewish religious leaders and rabbis have spoken against Trump in the past, most notably with a boycott of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in March, to protest Trump speaking at the event.

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    While Orlando police and the FBI are working to piece together what actually motivated Omar Mateen to murder 50 people and injure 53 more at a gay nightclub in Orlando this morning, Fox News has apparently already solved the puzzle. So why was Mateen able to slaughter a room full of innocent people with a deadly assault rifle? According to Fox News commentator Sebastian Gorka, it’s all thanks to President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and political correctness.

    Gorka, who is the Distinguished Chair of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University, came on as Fox News’ resident counterterrorism expert. When asked how he “sees it” by Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, Gorka went off:

    Maria, we need to stop using words like shocking. Nobody should be shocked. This is what they have been planning to do after Paris, after Brussels. Nobody should be surprised. Likewise, this isn’t to be called a tragedy. This isn’t an Amtrak train being derailed. This is part of the global jihadi strategy. It’s not an accident. It is war against America.


    This attack in part was facilitated by the policies of this administration, President Obama and Secretary Clinton, that have allowed political correctness into the threat assessment. Today I beg the White House, stop with the political correctness. We need to destroy this enemy before more innocent people, gay, straight, black, white, brown, yellow are murdered on U.S. soil.

    Gorka is pointing to the conservative idea that, for fear of being labeled politically incorrect, Democrats like President Obama will (correctly) decline to attribute the massacre to the Islam as a whole, which in turn allows the shootings to continue.

    Of course, in doing so Gorka ignores the fact that there’s no topic of conversation politicians fear more than “guns are bad” and “maybe you should pass a background check before you buy all those guns.” But hey—surely that has nothing to do with it at all.

    [h/t Media Matters]

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    What You Can Do to Help In Wake of the Orlando Shooting

    Early this morning in Orlando, 50 people were shot dead and 53 more wounded at a nightclub in Orlando. Whether you’re local or not, here’s how you can help, or at least find a vigil to attend, like-minded people to be with, or seek a little peace.

    Check on Loved Ones, or Let Others Know You’re Safe

    If you know someone in the Orlando area and you’re worried about them, the Orlando Police have set up a hotline at 407-246-4357 you can call to check on loved ones or first-responders you think may have been at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

    If you were there, and want to make sure everyone knows you’re okay, Facebook’s Safety Check tool has been enabled for Orlando, and you can (and should) mark yourself as safe so friends and family know. You can also see other people who have checked in as well.

    Donate, or Donate Blood

    First and foremost, if you’re in the Orlando area, you can give blood. If you’re not, you still can—or you can give money (more on that later.)

    As of this writing, local blood banks are overwhelmed with people looking to donate and help, so you don’t need to head out right now. However, they are encouraging you to make an appointment and come back later. Here’s a great list of places you can donate, from the Guardian US:

    Similarly, this list from Bungalower has a regularly updated rundown places accepting monetary donations, but blood donations as well:

    OneBlood is saying they have met their needs for today. There is an urgent need for O Negative, O Positive and AB Plasma blood donors. One Blood is asking those that are not or do not know your blood type to please wait until tomorrow or later in the week and that you make an appointment by calling 1.888.9.DONATE (1.888.936.6283). Please note FDA regulations are still in place for blood donations according to OneBlood.

    Confirmed blood donation locations today are:

    • Orlando West Michigan Donor Center, 345 W Michigan Street, Ste. 106, Orlando, FL 32806
    • Orlando Main Donor Center, 8669 Commodity Circle, Orlando, FL 32819
    • Oviedo Donor Center, 1954 W. State Road 426, Oviedo, FL 32765

    Mobile Locations (please note some of these locations are running low on blood donation supplies):

    • Asbury United Methodist Church – Bloodmobile 220, West Horatio Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751
    • St. Luke’s United Methodist Church – Bloodmobile, 4851 S. Apopka Vineland Road, Orlando, FL 32819
    • Metro Church Bloodmobile, 1491 East State Road 434, Winter Springs, FL 32708
    • Out of supplies – First Unitarian Church – 1901 East Robinson Street, Orlando, FL 32803 (until 1 PM)
    • Weingarten Realty – 2566 E Colonial Drive (12 pm-6 pm)
    • St. Richard’s Episcopal Church – 5151 Lake Howell Rd, Winter Park (until 1 PM)
    • AMC 18 Altamonte Mall -451 Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springes (until 9 PM)
    • Colonial Plaza Marketcenter- 2566 East Colonial (until 6 PM)
    • Metro Church Winter Springs – 1491 E State Rd 434, Winter Springs
    • St Cloud Presbyterian Church – 909 10th St, St Cloud

    Since this targeted the LGBTQ community, it’s important to note that only certain gay men can give blood (contrary to earlier reports, the ban on gay men giving blood in Orlando has not been lifted.) Even so, some blood banks are aware of the new FDA guidelines, and you should set up an appointment—you’ll be screened, at which point you can find out if you qualify. If you’re not sure, check the Red Cross’s blood donation guidelines here.

    Commenter Kelly adds:

    Reader sybann also notes:

    If you’re not local to the Orlando area, this GoFundMe (which has raised close to $60,000 as of this writing) is raising money to support the Orlando LGBT community with counseling resources, medical bill assistance, staff an emergency hotline, and pay for grief counselors. If you can’t give blood, consider sending a few dollars their way.

    Beyond that, if you’re eligable, you should consider giving blood to your own community. Odds are they could use the donation. Check the Red Cross’s donation tool here to find a bank or mobile blood drive near you, or the American Association of Blood Banks’ tool here. Even if you can’t give plasma directly to the victims, your neighbors will thank you.

    Attend a Vigil

    For those folks local to the Orlando area, Bungalower offers these local and nearby vigils to attend:

    Confirmed Vigils:

    • Joy Metropolitan Community Church – 6:00 PM – 2351 South Ferncreek Ave
    • Parliament House – 7:00 PM – 410 N Orange Blossom Trail
    • Ember Orlando – 7:00 PM – 42 W. Central Blvd
    • Daily City Food Truck Bazaar at Fashion Square Mall – 7:00 PM – 3201 E Colonial Dr

    Vigils in nearby communities include:

    • Broward – Vigil at Pride Center in Wilton Manors Sunday at 5pm
    • Jacksonville – Vigil in Jacksonville Sunday at 7pm at Memorial Park.
    • Miami – Vigil Sunday at 7pm at SoundScape Park, located at 500 17 Street, Miami Beach, FL.

    Orlando Weekly has a similar list here.

    However, cities around the country (and beyond) are holding their own today, from Nashville to Allentown to Chicago to Vancouver to New York City to Toronto, so if you’re looking to speak up or just not be alone right now, you don’t have to be. If you’re in the Tallahassee area, reader swnjun notes:

    Reader Nice Pete adds this info on a vigil in Tacoma, Washington:

    Additionally, for those in Illinois, reader Banan3rz mk. II adds:

    Update 6/13: Another reader shared this vigil tonight (6/13) that you can attend, and attendees are encouraged to bring candles, signs, and lighters (and the vigil will last until 930pm:)

    And another in Boston:

    Check this Twitter search to see what’s happening in your community—and make sure you vet what you see against a local paper or multiple sources. Social media is useful, but not always reliable after an event like this.

    Find Someone to Talk To

    Again, if you’re local, the GLBT Center and Zebra Coalition are reaching out to people in the Orlando community who need help, and have opened a hotline at 407-228-1446 for anyone who needs to talk. If you’d rather speak to someone in person, counselors will be present all day today, and through the week.

    If you’re not local however, you have a number of options. This guide to LGBT centers across America can help you find one near you. You can also dial 211 to connect with health and human services in your community to hear about mental health resources in your area, or you can try more digital, anonymous services like 7Cups, BlahTherapy, or the Crisis Text Line.

    Title photo by KOMUNews.

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    Orlando Begins Releasing Names of Those Killed in Mass Shooting [Updating]
    Photo: AP

    Authorities have released the first names of the 50 people who lost their lives in Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando. Names will continue to be released as the victims’ families are contacted:

    Edward Sotomayor Jr.

    Stanley Almodovar III

    Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo

    Juan Ramon Guerrero

    Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera

    Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz

    Luis S. Vielma

    Kimberly Morris

    We’ll update this post as more information becomes available.

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    Orlando Shooting Suspect’s Father Is a Former TV Show Host Who Claims to Be the President of Afghanistan
    Image: Facebook

    While police are still working to learn more about Omar Mateen, the man who killed approximately 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando early this morning, The Washington Post has discovered that his father, Seddique Mateen, has a curious background of his own. Apparently, the elder Mateen once hosted a political talk show, and now, according to a number of videos posted on Facebook, claims to be the current president of Afghanistan.

    From The Post:

    Seddique Mateen, who has been referred to as Mir Seddique in early news reports, hosted the “Durand Jirga Show” on a channel called Payam-e-Afghan, which broadcasts from California. In it, the elder Mateen speaks in the Dari language on a variety of political subjects...

    In one video, Mateen expresses gratitude toward the Afghan Taliban, while denouncing the Pakistani government.

    “Our brothers in Waziristan, our warrior brothers in [the] Taliban movement and national Afghan Taliban are rising up,” he said. “Inshallah the Durand Line issue will be solved soon.”

    Mateen’s most recent video of the show on YouTube was posted over a year ago, and apparently consists of him declaring his candidacy for president of Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s actual presidential elections, however, were held in April of 2014.

    The Washington Post also notes that “Mateen appears incoherent at times in the video, and he jumps abruptly from topic to topic. His use of Dari, instead of Pashto, the language of Pashtuns, was another strange element of his presentation, given that he is discussing issues of Pashtun nationalism.”

    Though he no longer uploads videos to YouTube, Mateen still updates his Facebook regularly—he’s posted seven times in the last 24 hours. In a video uploaded just hours before his son began his attack on Orlando’s Pulse nightclub and titled “Provisional Government of Afghanistan — Seddique Mateen,” Mateen, acting as the supposed Afghan president, ordered the imprisonment of various prominent Afghan leaders:

    I order national army, national police and intelligence department to immediately imprison Karzai, Ashraf Ghani, Zalmay Khalilzad, Atmar, and Sayyaf. They are against our countrymen, and against our homeland.

    In an interview with NBC News this morning, Mateen’s father said that he believes his son was motivated to commit a massacre after he witnessed two men kissing while he was in Miami, noting, “We are apologizing for the whole incident. We weren’t aware of any action he is taking, we are in shock like the whole country. This had nothing to do with religion.”

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    In Honor of the Victims of the Orlando Shooting, Let's Talk. 

    Tragedies like the massacre at a gay nightclub Sunday morning in Orlando, Florida—one which has been named the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history—can render us simultaneously hollow and distended with emotions that have no name. If you want to, here is a place to try and name them.

    Right now, I don’t know what else to say—but maybe the last few lines of Amy Hempel’s seminal short story “The Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” might somehow approximate it better:

    I think of the chimp, the one with the talking hands.

    In the course of the experiment, that chimp had a baby. Imagine how her trainers must have thrilled when the mother, without prompting, began to sign her newborn.

    Baby, drink milk.

    Baby, play ball.

    And when the baby died, the mother stood over the body, her wrinkled hands moving with animal grace, forming again and again the words: Baby, come hug, Baby come hug, fluent now in the language of grief.

    Contact the author at

    Image via Getty.

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    Police Identify L.A. Pride Weapons Suspect as James Wesley Howell
    Photo: Santa Monica Police Department

    On Sunday, authorities identified the “heavily armed” Indiana man arrested while in Santa Monica for the Los Angeles gay pride festival as 20-year-old James Wesley Howell, KTLA reports. Santa Monica Police initially said that Howell planned “to harm” the gay pride event before later stating his intentions were unclear.

    According to the L.A. Times, police say they found Howell while responding to reports of a prowler at around 5 a.m. A subsequent search of his vehicle uncovered three rifles, “a lot” of ammunition and a 5-gallon bucket of tannerite, a target practice explosive.

    Howell reportedly told police he was going to the pride parade to look for a friend. As the event comes just one day after the deadly mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, authorities have announced plans to increase security at the parade.

    “Out of an abundance of caution, we have enhanced our security presence for the event and have tactical units at the ready to prevent and respond to any circumstances,” said the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department in a statement. “Any possible nexus with this individual and the Pride event in West Hollywood is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

    UPDATE 10:10 p.m.: Santa Monica Police have now confirmed that Howell never expressed intent to “harm” the parade. According to reports from the L.A. Times and the N.Y. Daily News, friends of the suspect say Howell is bisexual with a male partner and harbored no ill will towards gay and lesbians.

    In October of last year, Indiana’s News and Tribune reported that Howell was arrested after allegedly pointing a handgun at his neighbors and his boyfriend. According to the L.A. Times, Howell pleaded guilty to misdemeanor intimidation over the incident in April, receiving a one-year suspended prison sentence and agreeing not to own any weapons while on probation.

    Howell is currently being held on felony weapons and explosives charges. His bail has been set at $500,000.

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    At the opening of Sunday night’s 2016 Tony Awards, host James Corden expressed solidarity with the victims of this weekend’s deadly shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando and their families, saying, “You are not alone.”

    “On behalf of the whole theatre community and every person in this room, our hearts go out to all those affected by this atrocity,” said Corden. “Hate will never win. Together, we have to make sure of that.”

    Earlier that day, the award show’s producers announced that they were dedicating Sunday’s broadcast to the victims of the attack, the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

    “Our hearts are heavy for the unimaginable tragedy that happened last night in Orlando,” wrote the Tony Awards on Twitter. “Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected. The Tony Awards dedicate tonight’s ceremony to them.”

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    Donald Trump Is a Shameless, Opportunistic Bigot

    Donald Trump, one of the two people most likely to become our next president, spent the day disseminating unverified information and using innocent victims’ deaths as a chance to pat himself on the back. And he’s just getting started.

    When the news broke of this morning’s shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando that left 50 dead, Donald Trump took to Twitter to show us just how presidential he can really be.

    A brief moment of acknowledging the victims of today’s tragedy quickly gave way to Trump talking about the real issue—himself and how right he was.

    He then called on President Obama to resign for offering a more measured, thoughtful response.

    Before tweeting this.

    This, of course, has been confirmed by no one in any position of authority, and in fact looks to be copied and pasted from a man who blamed today’s shooting on none other than the scourges that are President Obama and political correctness.

    Then came more self-congratulations.

    Until, finally, we get to this.

    To be clear, Trump called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. Omar Mateen was born in the United States. How would Trump’s ban have stopped him? How would it have stopped today’s LA suspect? Or the San Bernardino shootings? Dylann Roof? The Newtown massacre? Trump’s “tough” ban would have been just as ineffective in every single one of these cases.

    And yet, later, in a longer, equally disjointed statement, Trump doubled down:

    If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore. Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen – and it is only going to get worse. I am trying to save lives and prevent the next terrorist attack. We can’t afford to be politically correct anymore.

    And then offered a bit of his own masturbatory, anti-Islamist fan fiction:

    We admit more than 100,000 lifetime migrants from the Middle East each year. Since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States.

    Hillary Clinton wants to dramatically increase admissions from the Middle East, bringing in many hundreds of thousands during a first term – and we will have no way to screen them, pay for them, or prevent the second generation from radicalizing.

    None of these statements are based in reality nor do they bare any correlation to our country’s mass shooting epidemic. Trump’s not just “politicizing” a tragedy, he’s deliberately misconstruing facts and repeating unconfirmed information to feed his own, suffocating ego.

    It’s going to be a long five months.

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    Sunday evening’s Tony Awards have been dominated by Hamilton—the record-holder for most nominations now also holds the record (probably) for most time devoted to a single musical during a live broadcast. It dominated the show’s opening, Lin-Manuel Miranda did a lengthy segment of Hamilton carpool karaoke with host James Corden, and the show has already won Tony awards for Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Renée Elise Goldsberry), Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Daveed Diggs), Best Direction of a Musical (Thomas Kail), Best Original Score (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Best Book of a Musical (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Best Orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire), Best Choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler), Best Costume Design of a Musical (Paul Tazewell), and Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Howell Binkley). Geez.

    If you’re anything like me, you’ve been waiting for the Tony Awards for a chance to luxuriate in a well-recorded showstopper. And here it is: the cast of Hamilton performing “Yorktown.” We made it!

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins claimed their fourth Stanley Cup tonight with a 3-1 win in San Jose, led again by a defense that mostly kept the Sharks from generating meaningful opportunities.

    Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang’s goals proved the difference, with Patric Hornqvist adding a late empty-netter. San Jose goalie Martin Jones was, again, marvelous in a losing cause. Sidney Crosby won the Conn Smythe Trophy, because even in victory life shits on Phil Kessel.


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    "He Has Us": Mother Shares Son's Chilling Texts From Inside Orlando Shooting
    Photo: AP

    Almost a full day after Omar Mateen walked into Orlando’s Pulse nightclub and started shooting, Mina Justice still hasn’t found her son. All she has are the disturbing messages Eddie sent her while he was trapped inside with the gunman.

    Shortly after 2 a.m., Mina began receiving a series of frantic texts from Eddie describing the chaotic scene as it unfolded. On Sunday, Mina shared their exchange with the Associated Press, which was later summarized by Slate:

    Eddie: “Mommy I love you” (2:06 a.m.)

    Eddie: “In club they shooting.”

    Mina: “U ok”

    Eddie: “Trapp in bathroom.” (2:07 a.m.)

    Mina: “What club”

    Eddie: “Pulse. Downtown. Call police.”

    Eddie: “I’m gonna die.” (2:08 a.m.)

    Mina: “I’m calling them now.”

    Mina: “U still in there”

    Mina: “Answer our damn phone”

    Mina: “Call them”

    Mina: “Call me.”

    Eddie: “Call them mommy” (2:39 a.m.)

    Eddie: “Now.”

    Mina: [Is anyone hurt?]

    Eddie: “Lots. Yes.” (2:42 a.m.)

    Mina: [Are you with police?]

    Mina: “Text me please”

    Eddie: “No” (2:46 a.m.)

    Eddie: ‘”Still here in bathroom. He has us. They need to come get us.”

    Mina: “The police is in There let me no when u see the police” (2:49 a.m.)

    Eddie: “Hurry” (2:49 a.m.)

    Eddie: “He’s in he bathroom with us” (2:50 a.m.)

    Eddie: “Women’s bathroom is” (2:50 a.m.)

    Mina: “Is the man in the bathroom wit u”

    Eddie: “He’s a terror”

    Eddie: “Yes” (2:51 a.m.)

    Mina: “Are u hurt”

    Mina: “Stay there he don’t like gay people” (2:52 a.m.)

    Mina: “Text me please” (2:53 a.m.)

    Mina: “I love u” (2:54 a.m.)

    Mina: “Don’t do nothing”

    Mina: “Stay down”

    Mina: “Baby text me”

    As of Sunday night, authorities had only released the names of eight victims. Eddie’s name was not on the list, a fact that brought Mina little comfort.

    “His name has not come up yet and that’s scary,” Mina told the AP. “It’s just ... It’s just, I got this feeling. I got a bad feeling.”

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  • 06/13/16--04:00: 147 Days and a Wake Up
  • 147 Days and a Wake Up
    A couple mourns the Pulse shooting at a vigil in New York. Photo: AP

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    ISIS Posthumously Accepts Orlando Nightclub Shooter's Declaration of Loyalty

    Islamic State radio has dubbed Omar Mateen, who killed 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando Sunday, “one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America,” the Associated Press reports. Whether ISIS is accepting Mateen’s declaration of loyalty as a simple matter of convenience remains an open question, however.

    Rukmini Callimachi, a reporter for the New York Times who focuses on ISIS and al-Qaeda, posted a translated excerpt of Monday’s announcement on Twitter:

    The brother Omar Mateen, one of the soldiers of the Caliphate in America, carried out a security raid in which he was able to enter into a gathering of Crusaders in a nightclub for followers of the people of Lot [homosexuals] in Orlando, Florida.

    Allah enabled him to subdue the impure Crusaders, killing & wounding more than 100 of them before he was killed - may Allah accept him.

    It should be pointed out that this invasion is the largest in America in terms of number killed.

    Mateen reportedly called 911 before entering the nightclub, Pulse, to pledge his allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. On Sunday, a news agency associated with the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

    It would not be the first time that the organization retroactively accepted a loyalty oath from an assailant with which it had no real contact and to whom it had provided no support. Last year, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS on social media before killing 14 people at a social services clinic in San Bernardino. From the Guardian:

    Isis subsequently accepted that pledge, though it came from two individuals who had no previous contact with the group, and thus accepted responsibility – as well as credit among supporters of Islamic militancy – for the attack.

    This was in line with the longstanding Isis strategy of seeking to inspire sympathisers to do whatever they can wherever they find themselves, particularly if they are unable to perform their duty of hijra (migration) and relocate to the caliphate.

    Isis also made it clear that the shooting had not been commissioned by senior commanders in the Middle East, as was the case with the Paris attacks in November. This suggests that Isis felt clearly that the fact that it was inspiring distant attackers was worth emphasising as a vindication of its ideology and strategy, as well to inspire greater fear among Americans.

    Last month, in a speech made annually, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani specifically encouraged such ‘lone wolf’ attacks during the holy month of Ramadan. “The smallest action you do in the heart of their land is dearer to us than the largest action by us,” he said, “and more effective and more damaging to them.”

    “There are no innocents in the heart of the lands of the Crusaders,” al-Adnani added. “Do not ask for anyone’s permission.”

    In a report issued following al-Adnani’s address, the State Department’ Overseas Security Advisory Council warned Americans abroad that “martyrdom during the month may hold a special allure to some,” the Boston Herald reported at the time. It also noted that ISIS declared its caliphate during Ramadan of 2014.

    “I think what the Islamic State has done is very clever,” Charlie Winter, senior research associate at Georgia State University’s Transcultural Conflict and Violence Initiative, told the Times’ Callimachi. “And that is create a situation where someone can carry out an attack without any direct link to the organization.”

    “They can pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before or during, and that catapults them from being a self-starter jihadist guy, or girl, to someone who can be lionized as a soldier of the Islamic State and regarded as a warrior.”

    Jihadis on Twitter celebrated Sunday’s attack, Callimachi reports, many changing their avatars to Mateen’s face.

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    London is telling subway riders not to walk up the escalator because they say it moves more total people per hour that way—despite conclusive proof that people who stand on escalators don’t care about being late and should get the fuck out of our way because some of us have places to be. Sad.

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    Chris Christie Is Donald Trump's Unpaid Intern
    Image: Getty

    Of all the 5,500 words in The New Yorker’s recent exploration into the GOP’s struggle to accept Donald Trump, two sentences stand out as particularly devastating. Specifically, the sentences in which we learn the true depths of Chris Christie’s new living hell as an unpaid McDonald’s delivery intern for Mr. Donald Trump.

    In an effort to contrast Paul Ryan’s own hesitancy in supporting Trump, The New Yorker offers the following aside:

    Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, another of Trump’s opponents early in the campaign, has transformed himself into a sort of manservant, who is constantly with Trump at events. (One Republican told me that a friend of his on the Trump campaign used Snapchat to send him a video of Christie fetching Trump’s McDonald’s order.)

    Either Donald Trump has some genuinely monstrous intel on him, or Chris Christie really is just glad to get his foot in the door with some valuable, on-the-job experience. Either way, I’m sorry you had to start your day like this.

    And as always, if anyone out there has the video of Chris Christie fetching his beloved mentor’s McDonald’s meal, please for the love of god, let us know.

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    Goldman Sachs Accused of Hiring Prostitutes for Libyan Intern to Win Influence Over Investment Fund
    Muammar Gaddafi. Photo: AP

    On Monday, a lawyer for the Libyan Investment Authority told a British judge that employees of Goldman Sachs, attempting to win the $60 billion oil fund’s business, lavished executives with prostitutes and vacations at five-star hotels. The relationship fell apart in 2008, after Goldman lost the LIA $1.2 billion.

    According to Roger Masefield, a lawyer for the Libyan sovereign wealth fund, Goldman Sachs made nine trades on the LIA’s behalf between January and April 2008. All nine failed; nevertheless, the bank earned more than $200 million from the deal. One Libyan official described Goldman as the “bank of mafiosa,” Masefield said at Monday’s hearing.

    Goldman’s lawyers have said the LIA’s claim is “both unusual and ambitious.”

    “The credit crisis and its impact on global markets turned out to be far more prolonged than the LIA and the great majority of market participants had anticipated,” Goldman argued in court documents. “The LIA was the victim of an unforeseen financial depression, not of any wrongdoing by” the bank.

    The LIA, set up under the late Muammar Gaddafi’s regime to invest the country’s oil money, was staffed largely by officials inexperienced with high finance. Court filings show that Goldman executives described LIA officials as having “zero-level” financial sophistication, the Guardian reports. One individual “delivered a pitch on structured leveraged loans to someone who lives in the middle of the desert with his camels.”

    One former executive, Youseff Kabbaj was told to “stay a lot in Tripoli. It is important you stay super close to clients on a daily basis. Teach them, train them, dine them.” Kabbaj organized “training” trips for LIA officials, Bloomberg reports—expenses for one ran upwards of $31,000.

    It was on one such trip, Masefield said, with Haitem Zarti—the former deputy chief of the LIA’s brother, who’d been given a $51,000 internship at the bank—that Goldman paid for prostitutes. From the Guardian:

    According to the skeleton argument presented to the court by the LIA: “Mr Kabbaj took Haitem Zarti on holidays to Morocco on various occasions. Mr Kabbaj also took him to Dubai for a conference, with the business class flights and five-star accommodation being paid by Goldman Sachs. Documents disclosed by Goldman Sachs show that during that drip Mr Kabbaj went so far as to arrange for a pair of prostitutes to entertain them both one evening.”

    The LIA said the internship “has been and may still be the subject of investigation” by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US.

    Goldman Sachs said it does not believe the internship influenced the LIA’s decision to enter into the trades. “The claims are without merit and we will continue to defend them vigorously,” it said.

    Also, Goldman’s lawyers said in court documents, the “provision of training and corporate hospitality” are “unremarkable features of relationships between commercial counterparties.”

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