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    Alligator Drags Off 2-Year-Old at Disney Resort in Orlando
    Screencap: WKMG

    On Tuesday, a 2-year-old child went missing in Orlando after the toddler was dragged into a lake by an alligator near Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Hotel, WKMG reports.

    According to police, the alligator dragged the child into the artificial Seven Seas Lagoon at around 9:30 p.m. From the Orlando Sentinel:

    Deputies are searching the waters and put crime-scene tape around the water. Multiple emergency vehicles filled the front drive of the Victorian-style hotel and a helicopter hovered overhead.

    [...]

    Some witnesses said they saw the boy along the beach area near the water, but no eye witnesses to him being dragged into the water were available for comment Tuesday night.

    As of 11:50 p.m., it was still unclear if the toddler had been found.

    “I can’t imagine what those parents are going through,” a tourist told Sentinel reporter Christal Hayes. “It’s been one tough week in Orlando.”


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  • 06/15/16--04:31: 145 Days and a Wake Up
  • 145 Days and a Wake Up
    Hillary Clinton meets with Bernie Sanders at the Capitol Hilton on Tuesday night. Photo: AP

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    Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Hung Out Last Night
    Photo: AP

    As votes in the Washington, D.C., primary were tallied on Tuesday night—adding up to one last win for Hillary Clinton—the two Democratic candidates met at a hotel on Capitol Hill to make peace after a moderately acrimonious primary season. According to the New York Times, the chemistry between Clinton and Bernie Sanders was “strained.”

    Two advisers to Mr. Sanders described him as concerned that Mrs. Clinton might say all the right things now but embrace more politically moderate positions later if she thinks it necessary to win states like Florida, Ohio and Virginia.

    The advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the campaign had not authorized them to speak, said Mr. Sanders felt no pressure to endorse Mrs. Clinton quickly. He wants her to take steps to win his confidence in the five and a half weeks before the Democratic convention, where his voters and delegates expect him to speak and Clinton advisers hope he will give a full-throated speech backing her.

    However leery Clinton may be of Sanders and his demands, his colleagues seem happy to have him back: He had lunch with the Democratic senators earlier on Tuesday. “He got a standing ovation and a warm welcome back to the caucus,” Delaware senator Chris Coons told the Guardian. “I think his primary campaign had succeeded in engaging and mobilizing millions of average Americans, particularly working class Americans who feel disaffected from our political process.”

    The support the Vermont senator has accrued is not insignificant: 12 million votes and 1,877 delegates, and 28 percent of his supporters said in a poll last month that they would not vote for the former secretary of state were she to be nominated. The Clinton camp is split, the Times reports, over whether those voters need to be brought back into the fold, or whether the prospect of President Donald Trump will sufficiently unify the party.

    Then again, Trump may resolve the issue for them on his own. A new poll from Bloomberg Politics showed Clinton holding a 12 point lead over Trump nationally, and 63 percent of women said they would never vote for the presumptive Republican nominee. But wait! There’s more. From the Times:

    Since shortly after Mr. Trump became the presumptive nominee in early May, the “super PAC” supporting Mrs. Clinton, Priorities USA, has aired ads in battleground states portraying him as disrespectful and even offensive to women.

    Those ads have gone unanswered by Mr. Trump’s campaign for a month now, as his team, plagued by internal battles, has struggled with fundamental staff moves, like naming a political director, and with raising money as donors decline to lend their names to fund-raising events.

    It’s almost like he doesn’t even really want to be president.


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    Here's How the New Overtime Law Could Affect Your Shitty Creative Job 

    Recently, in response to Obama’s recently announced executive action on overtime, we asked readers working in creative industries affected to write in and tell us a little bit about how they stand to benefit (or not). We got a lot of submissions.

    http://jezebel.com/how-will-obama...

    The new overtime directive, effective December 1, 2016, will raise the threshold for overtime pay eligibility from $23,660 a year up to $47,476 a year, making an estimated 4.2 million additional workers eligible for overtime. The change is characterized by the Department of Labor as a long-overdue modernization, since the current threshold, updated only once since the ‘70s (in 2004) and diluted by inflation, “has left millions without overtime protections to which they should be entitled,” according to the Department of Labor.

    This directive is only meant to directly affect salaried workers, since hourly workers are supposed to earn overtime already; it will allow full-time salaried workers making under $47,476 to receive overtime benefits if they exceed 40 hours per week. According to the Obama administration, employers have a few options for how to account for the change: reduce workers’ hours to 40 per week, pay time-and-a-half for overtime hours worked, or raise workers’ salaries above the new threshold. Once above this salary threshold, employees are subject to various professional, administrative, and executive exemptions, rendering overtime benefits possible but less likely.

    Republican legislators, unsurprisingly, have claimed that this will kill jobs and destroy the economy, but others have taken issue with the rule, as well. The New York Times recently chronicled a bit of an upset in the creaking, inflexible world of “prestige” creative professions like publishing and film—publishing house Workman’s general manager Jill Salayi claimed that reducing workers’ hours would lead to less “timely advancement and/or promotions,” while, in a somewhat dense interpretation of the new law, Andrew Wiley of the Wiley Literary Agency refused to “sit at the door with a stopwatch” and keep tabs on his employees.

    While the overtime directive will affect a wide variety of industries (although, as mentioned, certain employees in certain industries are subject to exemptions from minimum wage and overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and doctors, lawyers, and teachers will not be affected by the new overtime rule at all), its influence on so-called creative industries will be particularly interesting, as these are often jobs whose desirability and prestige juxtaposes sharply against dismal starting salaries and long hours, which can—especially in industries such as, say, fashion, or journalism—lead to a startlingly non-diverse workplace comprised of individuals who can afford to work for very little.

    (It bears noting that one of several exemptions involves “creative professionals.” In order to qualify for this exemption, a worker must be paid at the new salary threshold of $47,476, and their duties must involve “invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor,” according to the Department of Labor. Not all work in creative fields involves such “invention” or “imagination,” and regardless, as you’ll see in the responses below, this new salary threshold should have a significant effect on many workers in creative fields.)

    The responses to our query ranged wildly. Many had reservations: some were concerned about an added strain on small businesses, a working parent worried about being switched to hourly pay and losing her job flexibility, and several believed that companies would simply try to sneak around the law.

    Indeed, employers can (and some likely will) recalibrate pay rates to account for the new law in order to avoid spending more money, reducing an employee’s hourly pay to account for their new overtime earnings. Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator for the National Employment Law Project, told me in a phone interview that she believes using this tactic would “backfire” on employers, as workers would likely pack their bags (although one can imagine circumstances under which that might be difficult).

    As for the question of small businesses, “the fact of the matter is if the only way a business can succeed is by working someone at 60 hours a week for $25,000 a year, if the profit margin is that small, then that business has really big problems in and of itself,” she said. “That’s not the model we need to embrace as a country.”

    Some workers may be taken from salaried to hourly in order to better track their time, Conti allowed (the Department of Labor stresses that employers are not required to make this switch), but removing their benefits as a result of this switch would be, again, a “shortsighted thing to do” on the part of employers, as those employees would likely try to find a new job. Conti contended that much of the fuss over the new law is “vastly overblown,” and stressed that the regulation will be good for employers, as well, providing them with a happier, more loyal, more productive workforce.

    We received emails and comments from chefs, modeling scouts, theater crew workers, editorial assistants, and beyond, some of whom work under less than ideal circumstances. Here are their thoughts.

    Sally Wolff, 28, an executive chef at a small Washington gastropub who makes $27K, was not optimistic about the overtime rule. Wolff says she is salaried at 40 hours per week, but works 50 hours without overtime or benefits; the restaurant, a two-year “labor of love,” is not yet profitable, and Wolff is afraid the new law will shut it down.

    “I know I’m worth far more money. I also know that we don’t HAVE any money, and I’m willing to make a garbage rate because I love my job,” she wrote. “There’s absolutely no way the owners can double my pay without going out of business—the money just isn’t there. And no matter how you slice it, its literally impossible for me to do my job in under 40 hours a week. I feel like this is a death sentence for small business owners.”

    Elizabeth, a 24-year-old former writer at a large content marketing agency who asked to keep her last name anonymous, reported making a salary of $30,000 and generally worked 50+ hours per week; she said that the fact that the job required night and weekend work went unspoken.

    She doesn’t currently stand to benefit from the overtime directive, as she’s now a freelance writer, but “it’s this sort of ‘character building,’ ‘weeding out the weak’ type of mentality that I expect will suffer immensely under this new law,” she wrote.

    Marie*, 26, is an editorial assistant at a Condé Nast publication making a base salary of $35,000 plus overtime; as she already receives overtime pay, she doesn’t expect much to change for her in the short term.

    However, “I think it will make a difference once I’m promoted,” she said. “I imagine they will offer me at least $47K, so as to exceed the OT limit, which gives me a little optimism for editorial assistants moving forward—they will be able to move into a livable salary wage much faster than before, as the first promotion will give a more substantial salary bump. Now, maybe more people from low-income backgrounds will be able to afford this career.”

    Danielle*, 25, an assistant at a Hollywood production company, makes $30,000 plus benefits and says she works approximately 53 hours per week—adding that some assistants work at least 60, and that everyone is expected to read about two to eight hours worth of books/scripts over the weekend. She does not receive overtime.

    If she were to choose between more money or a 40-hour week, “I would honestly love if my hours were cut,” but she doesn’t think that’s going to happen. “It’s less about the volume of work we’re doing and more about, you know, God forbid the head of the studio calls at 7 pm and there’s no one here to answer the phone. The basic rule of thumb is that you MUST arrive before your boss and leave after, so if your boss works twelve hours, you work thirteen—it’s very Devil Wears Prada over here.”

    Kelly Stout, deputy editor at Gawker.com, also worked as an editorial assistant at Condé Nast several years back, making a salary of $35,000. “Low, too low, but I can’t remember a single time when my boss (who was a complete pleasure to work with and for) asked me to work more than 40 hours a week,” she wrote.

    Erin D., 37, is a former carpenter for a theater in South Carolina; most of her colleagues in the tech crew made very low salaries with no overtime or benefits, but “for some administrative reason” she was made hourly, at $14/hour plus overtime.

    “Immediately after starting the season, we were putting in 80-90 hours/week starting in August, and didn’t take a day off till Thanksgiving,” she wrote. “I was making mad money, but [the salaried workers] were supposed to be racking up enough comp time to take the summers off. However, there was never a light enough workload for anyone to be out for that long, and I’m sure the people still there are owed many years of comp time by now, bless their hearts.

    “I can’t imagine what the admins there will do when these new rules take effect—they’re used to abusing the bejeezus out of their tech crews!”

    Lucas Woith, 33, works as a sous chef for a catering company. At a salary of $35,000 plus benefits, he says his hours fluctuate up to around 60 per week and that he works six days per week during the spring/summer season, hours that “take their toll physically and on my social life and relationships.”

    “It remains to be seen what will happen when the overtime rules take affect,” he said. “My fiancée is hoping I’ll either start bringing home huge paychecks, or I’ll be home more.”

    Bill R., a mid-level manager at a New York-based publication, currently makes above the new cutoff rate. “But the staff under me—primarily editors in their 20s—all likely make between $35-40k,” he wrote. Bill plans to repurpose an old iPod touch as the company’s “time clock,” which will cost “a grand total of $4.99.”

    “I expect my bosses will try to fight this every way they can,” he said, “and I have encouraged the editors—without whom the company would simply collapse—to stand firm and simply ask for what is their right under the law.”

    Zan Emerson, 30, worked until recently as a box office manager and marketing coordinator at a mid-sized music venue in Manhattan. She made $40,000 with some health benefits, but “there is absolutely no work-life balance in the live music industry”; she estimates that she would have made around $40,000 more in her five years there had this overtime law been in place.

    Despite working a daytime job, “as the events happened at night I was expected to be available by phone or email at all times,” Zan wrote. “Vacations weren’t vacations—our department was so small that we’d need to make time to do our work no matter what.” However, “My burnout was much more so a result of feeling undervalued than the work itself,” and she would have preferred a salary bump to a 40-hour week.

    “As a side note,” Zan added, “I now work at a nonprofit with a very firm 40 hour per week schedule. The pay is moderate, the benefits are great, and I don’t have my work email on my phone. It’s amazing.”

    Lucy*, 24, is a scout at a New York-based modeling agency who makes $40,000 a year with no overtime. “I scout all the models, do their work visas, manage social media, basically serve as the art department and occasionally book them. It’s a lot of shit,” she wrote.

    “We are allowed 20 minutes at most for lunch. If we’re gone longer, we get continuous phone calls telling us to return,” she said. “On Memorial Day, I received a slew of emails from my boss asking me why I was being unresponsive. On vacation we are required to spend 3 hours a day answering emails. Last year when I didn’t have Internet access in rural Italy, my boss asked me why I didn’t just go to a Starbucks.”

    Despite reporting what sounds like a pretty unhealthy workplace culture, if she had the choice, Lucy would go for a pay raise or overtime benefits rather than a reduction in hours. “This job is easy as hell, so it’s not so much the work I mind.”

    Rachel, 31, a manager at a mid-sized west coast publisher, makes $40,000, receives “excellent” benefits, works about 40 hours per week, and loves her job. She’s concerned that the overtime rule will result in her becoming an hourly worker.

    “I don’t have to sweat it if I take a longer lunch, or leave early for a doctor’s appointment, or come in late so I could be at my daughter’s school assembly,” she wrote. “On hourly pay, I would have to ‘make up the time later’, or face a reduced paycheck. I feel like this has the potential to suck a lot of the freedom out of my job.”

    Jezebel commenter The Obsidian Order, who is 28, works for a medium-sized graphics firm on a salary of $51,000 a year plus benefits.

    The company used to pay OT for every hour worked over 50 hours in a week, but then pushed the line back to every 100 hours in two weeks. They then decided that they were losing too much money on that, so they started offering paid time off instead, but then people were accruing too much time paid time off, so they then added the stipulation that you only got to keep it if you’d worked 100+ hours in a two week period. Anything less that that 100+ (and you have to go over the 100, so if you worked 101 hours you’ve earned 1 hour of PTO) and you have to use that time during the current week or lose it.

    She wrote that she no longer works overtime because “it’s clear to me that my time is not appreciated or valued,” but she’s gotten flak for this decision from management:

    My employee reviews feel like that scene in Office Space were she’s being called out on her ‘lack of flair.’ I have been told that by working my 40 hours a week, I am doing the minimum and that if I could just please step up my game for the good of the company.

    Margot*, 31, makes $40,000 a year plus benefits at a concert promotion company. She works about 50-55 hours per week, including night and weekend work, and does not receive overtime pay. At her previous job booking a D.C. music venue, however, she only made around $32,000 a year:

    “When I asked my boss for a raise after working there for four years, he gave me a bartending shift,” she said. “He was notoriously cheap, though. My desk chair was like 15 years old and uncomfortable as fuck.”

    Annie*, 23, is a publishing assistant at a major book publishing house in New York who makes around $36,000 a year plus overtime, and receives good benefits. She reports generally clocking 40-45 hours per week, not including time spent reading and editing outside of the office.

    However, “I know from assistants in other divisions and imprints that some are told to clock the same 35 hours of work every week, and ‘told’ they can’t work more than those hours. Some managers are strict and tell assistants to go home, but plenty more are just turning a blind eye as employees are working more hours than they are clocking. I have also heard of assistants who, when promoted, actually take a pay cut, because they go from non-exempt to exempt, receive a very small raise, and lose their overtime rate.

    “Because of this, I don’t see the new overtime laws affecting companies like mine much—I could see other employers react to these laws in the same way, i.e. ‘pay’ overtime but indirectly encourage employees to clock less time than they work. Of course, creative companies tout this idea that they can’t afford to pay support staff more. That, frankly, is bullshit: the amount of fat that could be cut in other ways is staggering.”

    *Names have been changed; some last names have been redacted at individuals’ requests.

    Correction: A previous version of this piece misidentified Zan Emerson as male; she is a woman. We regret the error.


    Illustration via Angelica Alzona


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  • 06/15/16--10:37: Here Is the Good News
  • Here Is the Good News

    Perhaps the most embarrassing aspect of filing for bankruptcy is the well-meaning condolence note from a friend. “I’m so sorry,” more than one has written. That sympathy is often followed by fear for what Facebook director Peter Thiel’s revenge campaign—a billionaire secretly funding lawsuits against publishers, editors, and writers for stories that disrespected him and his friends—means for the functioning of a critical press.

    To those who have offered support, thank you. However, Gawker will be just fine, both in business and in spirit.

    Here is the good news: The future of the business is secured by a provisional sale agreement with Ziff Davis, and by our filing on Friday for Chapter 11 protection. The legal battle, separated from the ongoing business, moves onto the next round. The spirit that animates Gawker remains strong. The free press is vigorous. And the power of a shadowy billionaire looks much less alarming now that it has emerged blinking into the spotlight.

    The Future of the Business

    Gawker Media’s audience comes for the stories, and the default response of our writers when faced with a crisis is to write more. A thank you to them, and to all the readers who dropped by our sites on Friday, when news of the sale broke, to chat with our editors. Your participation is what makes Gawker’s sites communities as much as digital media brands. To the six million people around the world who each weekday come to Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Deadspin, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Jezebel, and Gawker: As long as you keep reading, we’ll keep informing and engaging you around the issues you’re passionate about.

    Around here, save for the kegs of beer that arrived early on Friday, it’s business as usual. Writers are writing, the tech folks are keeping the pages loading, the ad sales team is selling, the e-commerce scouts are finding you the best deals of the day. We appreciate the support that agencies and advertisers have already shown, whether it is motivated by Gawker’s enduring audience appeal or the principle at stake.

    There may be other bidders before the sale is finalized, but if Ziff Davis is the ultimate acquirer, Gizmodo and the other Gawker brands will become part of one of the most profitable, revenue-balanced and well-managed of digital media groups. Ziff Davis, which owns the video game destination IGN, earned $92 million on revenue of $225 million in the last 12 months. The media operation, if combined, will have the biggest audience in two growing media categories, technology and video games, with a strong presence in lifestyle, too. Ziff Davis anticipates expansion in video, commerce and on social platforms.

    I have long encouraged Gawker writers to be honest about the motives behind what they write, so I will be honest about mine: We believe a sale now will maximize value for all stakeholders, and it is important to that end that potential buyers, current employees, and advertisers understand that the business continues to operate as usual. The media market is consolidating, and there is significant interest in Gawker Media as the last sizable digital property that has not yet been folded into an established conglomerate. While most of the proceeds from other digital media deals have gone to financial investors, at Gawker Media Group, the founders and employees own the bulk of the equity in the company.

    Yes, Peter Thiel’s covert legal vendetta has undoubtedly depressed Gawker Media Group’s valuation. His onslaught, prompted by items about Thiel and his friends on Gawker’s Valleywag, has been financially draining. Whoever buys us, it will not be for the sort of headline price that Henry Blodget or Arianna Huffington received when selling Business Insider to Axel Springer and Huffington Post to AOL. ​So be it.

    Wherever it ends up, the purchase price will also reflect the editorial choices we have made. Nobody goes into the news business, certainly not the convention-breaking news we and our readers love, simply to get rich. Better to risk, to win some and lose some, than pursue the path of least offense—at least if you’re a journalist. We have always put editorial credibility ahead of short-term commercial considerations, resulting in what we have internally called the “Gawker Tax” on our advertising revenue.

    That tax has generally been worth paying; it is a choice we made. It is because Gawker’s stories are transparently more honest and more real that we could grow without outside capital or bought traffic. It is why, overall, our sites have held audience levels in the face of well-funded competition and the shift to social platforms. And it is the reason we can present such an upscale and engaged audience to advertisers.

    The proposition that journalism should be an honest conversation between writers and readers has permitted us to build a solid, even enviable, business: an award-winning native advertising studio; a commerce operation which will drive nearly $200 million in sales this year for partners; and the best news discussion system on the web. Without exceptional legal and professional fees related to the Thiel campaign, the business is profitable.

    We have drawn and developed prodigious talent: Gizmodo editor-in-chief Katie Drummond, who came from Bloomberg and has invigorated the tech site’s coverage of Silicon Valley; the creative writers in our advertising department; sellers such as Michael Orell and Daniel Morgan who care about editorial quality as much as any writer; dedicated managers like executive managing editor Lacey Donohue and vice president of product Lauren Bertolini; the coders in our Budapest and New York offices; and a crack legal team (we have needed it) led by our president and general counsel Heather Dietrick, to pick a few people out of many at random.

    Though our company is inevitably best known for Gawker’s most provocative stories, the other six brands—Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Deadspin, Jezebel, Kotaku, and Jalopnik—represent the bulk of the audience and the revenue. They and all the exceptional people who make them happen will thrive under new ownership, with management oversight and financial underpinning from a larger company. As Wired put it: “They’ve got great niche audiences. They’ve got domain expertise. Their brands are easy to understand, which makes them easy to pitch to advertisers. Someone’s going to take those assets and make money.”

    The Legal Balance of Power

    In some countries, in a dispute between a magnate and an irritating writer, there would have been bullets in heads by now.

    “The muzzle grows tighter,” writes the Economist. Freethinking Bangladeshi bloggers, many of them gay, are being dispatched with machete blows to the neck. The newly elected president of the Philippines has said that rights of free expression should not protect a bad journalist from assassination. Donald Trump, who kept a writer in court for five years after he dared write that the real estate billionaire was not as rich as he claimed, is a few percentage points away from the presidency.

    But this is the United States, and Trump is not yet in power. We remain confident that justice will be done in the Hulk Hogan case.

    March’s state court verdict was an outlier. Judges in federal court and the Florida appeals court have repeatedly determined the Hogan story was newsworthy because it joined a conversation about his sex life that the wrestling star had already begun. Most legal experts expect the $140 million judgment, which even plaintiffs’ lawyers ascribe to a runaway jury, to be corrected by a higher court. As a result, there ought to be little lasting effect on the balance between privacy and the free press.

    There are two other active cases against Gawker in which we are being sued by Charles Harder, the attorney underwritten by Thiel. One is from a Los Angeles journalist who came to us with a story about Tinder that evidently didn’t turn out as she’d hoped. In the other complaint, a Massachusetts entrepreneur who claims he invented email—about a decade after email was invented—says he should not have been called a fraud.

    Neither has merit.

    U.S. law does still protect free speech more than any other country’s. If there is a threat, it is in the extent to which that law is increasingly a battleground of moneyed interests. As Gordon Crovitz argues in the Wall Street Journal, tort reform should be a cause for the progressive media, not just conservative business owners. Florida last year finally put in place provisions for unsuccessful plaintiffs to bear the costs of lawsuits designed to suppress public participation. Some would support a revival of champerty, the old English prohibition on aristocrats backing and influencing third-party lawsuits. At the very least, there should be public disclosure over who is funding cases in public courts that use public resources.

    But reforms or no, the basic fact remains: if somebody raises a topic, you have the right to join in. Gawker Media Group has taken full advantage of that right.

    The Spirit of Gawker.com

    Some have raised doubts about the long-term future of Gawker.com, the site which has drawn the most fire over the years, because of its insolent tone, love of juicy gossip, and tendency to unearth skeletons. It would rather make an enemy or alienate a source than lose a story. The site has published an impressive list of scoops; it has also made many enemies, at least two of whom have combined in Peter Thiel’s cabal.

    Do not fear—or gloat—too quickly.

    Gawker.com was established in the early internet years as a thought-provoking alternative to a stodgy mainstream press, which so often skipped over precisely the most interesting aspect of a story—the version that journalists tell each other over a drink. The site has been a manifestation of the journalist’s rebellious id, the impulse to question the authorized version of the news, to puncture hype and mock hypocrisy.

    The flagship news site’s incredible run of provocative journalism has revealed vile trolls on Reddit, crack-smoking mayors in Canada, Tom Cruise’s role in Scientology, the personal pain of unemployment, long-forgotten sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, Hillary Clinton’s emerging email scandal, and the ways the elite pass privilege down to their children, and their friends’ children. Here is a longer description of What Gawker Media Does. I hope that deep down, most other journalists would agree with Peter Kafka of Recode that the Gawker network has, stories about sex tapes notwithstanding, been “overwhelmingly a force for good.”

    Where there is power, there will be gossip and criticism. The people require it. Bryan Goldberg of Bustle, himself a frequent subject of ridicule on the site, says Gawker.com is as indestructible as a New York cockroach. The brand is more famous than ever; if it does not fit an acquirer’s portfolio, Gawker.com will find an investor with a tolerance for controversy. I will happily contribute.

    The Digital Press

    The same independent and inquisitive spirit that animates Gawker is alive in the rest of the press. As Jonathan Mahler acknowledged in the New York Times, Gawker’s foundation has done more than any other “to loosen up the mainstream media.”

    Over time, as bloggers and reporters have intermingled, the spontaneity of internet publishing has given a new energy to publications like the Times, and Gawker in turn has gladly embraced more of the practices and values of the newspaper press. Our writers and editor have adopted a formal editorial code. Gawker’s investigative reporters, under John Cook, who is now executive editor, have used FOIA requests to reveal how Hillary Clinton’s press minder manipulates journalists and twists arms, among many other exclusive stories.

    Meanwhile, Gawker alumni are employed at almost every smart news organization, including New York Magazine, the New Yorker, New York Times, Vox, Wired and Business Insider. (Here is New Yorker staff writer Adrian Chen recalling Gawker as “a great place to become a journalist.”) Two of the three new David Carr Fellows at the Times got their starts at Gawker. Slate now requires a triple disclosure just to write about the company.

    As odd as it may seem under the circumstances, it is heartening to witness just how extensive and uncowed the recent coverage of Peter Thiel’s secret financing of lawsuits against Gawker has been. Witness Wired’s over-the-top praise for the sensitive billionaire, the Taiwanese animators’ depiction of the him as an insecure supervillain, or the Economist’s jibe that he risks evolving from youthful genius to aging crank, his pursuit of immortality notwithstanding.

    The recent spasm of disbelief and outrage over the revelation that his lawyer is now pursuing us over a much-lauded story about Trump’s hair—“a perfect example of the kind of chilling effect Gawker critics don’t seem to have taken into account when championing Hogan and Thiel’s victories,” the Verge writes—goes to show how Thiel’s strategy might have backfired. The next aggrieved billionaire may think twice before following his template.

    We have a free and vigorous press to credit for uncovering the real motives of Gawker’s opponents. The purpose of Hulk Hogan’s initial lawsuit, to stop a racist rant becoming public, is now known, thanks in large part to media companies who asked the appeals court to remedy the trial court’s overly broad sealing of documents in the case. That Thiel’s role is also now public is thanks to a mixture of gossip, speculation, and reporting—the classic iterative process by which journalists, Gawker’s especially, winkle out a story.

    Billionaire Power

    None of this is to gloss over the enormous concentration of power among the emerging oligarchy. Silicon Valley industrialists are ruthlessly controlling of their public image, as Nick Bilton writes in Vanity Fair. “The system here has been molded to effectively prevent reporters from asking tough questions. It’s a game of access, and if you don’t play it carefully, you may pay sorely.” The Wall Street Journal’s John Carreyrou had to withstand months of legal threats to dispel the mystique surrounding Theranos, a fallen Valley unicorn.

    Mother Jones has drawn attention to the campaign by another billionaire, Frank VanderSloot, who sought to drain them financially through litigation. Thiel has shown how easily an aggrieved billionaire can hide behind fronts, dark money and special purpose vehicles. These cases have illuminated the concentration of privilege and money in American life, and the power exercised behind the scenes without any public accountability.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/05/t...

    Yes, independent media like Mother Jones and Gawker are at a financial disadvantage in dealing with billionaire subjects. But that imbalance is now, at least, more widely understood. We are all talking about the exercise of power in the information age, out loud, in the open. That’s not capitulation; it is in itself a form of provisional victory.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/a-huge-...

    The history of democracy—a form of governance that Thiel views as incompatible with liberty—can be viewed as a long-running street battle between the moneyed elite and the more populist institutions, like the press, that seek to keep them in check. The battle lines shift up and back, but the insistent presence of public debate and criticism have always served as a bulwark against rampaging power. Now, those age-old tensions are playing out on the internet. The rules of engagement will need to once again be rewritten. I hope the clash between Gawker and Thiel will produce at least as much light as it has heat.

    Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo notes calls from the extremely rich to “not only be able to use their money without limit to shape the political process but to do so anonymously to avoid being ‘intimidated’ or ‘vilified.’” That the debate is happening at all is progress. If Gawker had to give up its independence for it to begin in earnest, at least the upstarts who come behind us will have a clearer understanding of the playing field, and the stakes.

    If you take a long view, the system is working as it should. The courts will apply the law. The real story is coming out. It always does. All sides are facing criticism and examining themselves. And a debate about the limits of the free press, and the limits of unaccountable power, is taking place.

    Peter Thiel will be, by the time the magazine profiles come out and the TV scripts turn into episodes, one of the classic characters of the Silicon Age. This is the ultimate Gawker story, a collision between power, celebrity, and the word. Only this time we are participants as well as observers.

    We will each be caricatured, for sure; but we will also have plenty of opportunity to express our more provocative ideas. This is how a free society is supposed to work. A newly laid-back Jezebel has adopted an informal catchphrase, “It’s Fine.” To those who have written in with concern for our people, our business, and our mission, I have a similar response. It’s fine.

    Here Is the Good News

    [Photo: Shutterstock]


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    Man Arrested After Threatening To Attack Brooklyn Gay Bar "Orlando-Style"
    Photo: Tom Hawking

    At 11:15pm on Monday night, Justin Rice, 40, was arguing loudly with his girlfriend at Bushwick’s HappyFun Hideaway, a neighborhood bar with many queer and trans staff and patrons. The bouncer kicked him out and Rice became violent, The New York Daily News and DNAinfo reports.

    “I’m going to come back Orlando-style!” Rice yelled, referencing the hate crime at Orlando’s Pulse gay night club, the deadliest shooting in American history. “I’m going to shoot this place up and get my 50 just like Orlando, Florida.”

    Rice then punched the 34-year-old bouncer and threw a metal bucket filled with sand at him, while screaming, “Fuck you faggots, fuck that faggot, I’ll kill you faggots!”

    The bouncer suffered minor injuries but was able to restrain the man. HappyFun Hideaway staff tells Gawker they are unable to comment on the incident, as it is still under investigation, but everyone is safe and ok.

    Rice was arrested and charged with attempted assault, aggravated harassment, making a terrorist threat and menacing as a hate crime. He is being held at Rikers, with bail set at $10,000. He’s due back in court on June 17.


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    The TSA Is Bad Because We Demand That It Be Bad
    Illustration credit: Sam Woolley/Jalopnik

    We have this macabre ballet we do in the airport. We stand in agonizingly long lines, winding around stanchions as our boarding times tick ever closer. It’s a routine borne of tragedies that could hypothetically happen, and we have cast the Transportation Security Administration as our stage directors. Airports are miserable not because the TSA is especially incompetent, but because we demanded security theater, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

    The TSA, born after the September 11th attacks and nestled within cozy confines of the Department of Homeland Security, is one of many American autoimmune reactions to the worst terrorist attack perpetrated against the United States. Because the attackers used planes, America wanted to make sure that planes were safe, and the best way to do that was to make sure that only the right people got on them.

    The Big Haystack

    The TSA’s mandate, from the Aviation and Transportation Security Act passed in the fall of 2001, requires that it “oversee the screening of passengers and property” at airports.

    The TSA’s job, from the outset, is to sift through a haystack containing every passenger and every piece of luggage they’ve brought with them, and make sure no dangerous person or harmful weapon gets through. Here is the scale of that haystack: In 2015, airlines flying to and within the United States carried a total of 895,500,000 passengers. Of those, the TSA says they screened 708,316,339 passengers, and accompanying those passengers 1.6 billion carry-on bags and 432 million checked bags.

    The haystack is gargantuan. And the TSA would really, really prefer if it were smaller, especially for passengers hurrying to get through security and sprint down the terminal to catch their flight. To thin that category, the TSA exempts some people from screening. Some of this is by age: children 12 and younger and adults 75 and older don’t have to go through the same strict scrutiny as everyone else. Another way is by incorporating screening already done: government employees with security clearances and members of the military the TSA can count as pre-screened, and then just send them through shorter lines.

    But for the rest of us, the TSA has to get us to opt-in, and that means pre-check, where people pay $85, submit documentation, and go to a special screening for the TSA to remove them from the baseline category of possibly a risk. In exchange, if they get approval, they get five years of shorter lines and easier flight.

    Or at least they would, if Congress funded the TSA enough to keep pre-check lanes open. Congress doesn’t, instead regularly cutting funding. The House of Representatives voted to cut TSA funding in 2011. Sequestration cut TSA funding in 2013.

    In 2014, Congress passed a TSA fare increase, and used the overwhelming majority of that not to fund the TSA, but to pay down the national debt. When the TSA fare went up in 2014 (as did the prices of tickets it was attached to), Congressional funding cuts to the TSA meant the TSA cut 3,500 screener positions. And in 2015, the House voted to increase TSA funding, but cut TSA employee pay. The TSA may have been conceived as a vital layer of national security, but nothing about its funding reflects that.

    Lunging At Shadows

    Without enough pre-screened people to rush through the special express lanes, what’s the TSA to do? Pick people out of the crowd and hope they’re fine. From the Wall Street Journal:

    TSA doesn’t have enough screeners to reserve PreCheck lanes only for PreCheck passengers. So the agency directs passengers considered low risk, often based on age, sex and destination, into PreCheck lanes, hoping that a taste of expedited screening will prompt them to pay the $85 application fee to enroll for five years.

    There’s a lot of subjective judgement that goes into just who in line looks safe enough for a screener to send along, and none of it looks good. The risk of terrorist attacks is fortunately astoundingly rare, so letting passengers through lightly screened doesn’t really change that, but cavalier and arbitrary filtering of passengers factors plays a big part in the TSA’s other big security check: the No-Fly List.

    The No-Fly List is a government compiled secret registry of people who are deemed too dangerous to let on airplanes. The No-Fly List has been abused by individuals and government, and sometimes it catches 8-year-olds instead of suspected terrorists. While the No-Fly List system has some gradients of risk, it’s a blunt measure, and one so opaque it’s impossible to know how accurate and useful it is. It also assumes that people dangerous enough to be on the list are also likely to fly under their real names, which is a dubious assumption.

    Instead of screening by identity, other countries check passengers by behavior. Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport is renowned for its security, which is based on profiling that’s a combination of behavioral and racial (the latter of which is rightfully officially prohibited by the TSA, though allegations of racial profiling against it continue). As the Washington Post noted in 2010:

    Israel’s approach allows most travelers to pass through airport security with relative ease. But Israeli personnel do single out small numbers of passengers for extensive searches and screening, based on profiling methods that have so far been rejected in the United States, subjecting Arabs and, in some cases, other foreign nationals to an extensive screening that comes with a steep civil liberties price.

    The TSA began its own behavior screening program behavior, called “Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques,” or “SPOT,” in 2007. Many of the screening criteria were absurd, and easily applied to stressed passengers worried they’ll miss their flight. Which makes sense, because according to the government itself, the behavioral screening relied on bunk science.

    “Congress should consider the absence of scientifically validated evidence for using behavioral indicators to identify threats to aviation security when assessing the potential benefits and cost in making future funding decisions for aviation security,” a 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office evaluated the program and concluded. There’s also the basic fact that once profiles are figured out, a determined terrorist organization could adapt its behavior to again avoid detection.

    And there’s a good chance such screening violates the constitution. In 2015, the ACLU sued the TSA over the program.

    Weighed Down With Extra Baggage

    Besides passengers, the TSA is also screening 1.6 billion carry-on bags and 432 million checked bags. If the TSA could check those safely and simply, then that might shorten the interminable lines while protecting travelers from threatens hidden in suitcases.

    The TSA’s Instagram account is filled with pictures of objects they’ve screened out, most often guns, knives, and, around July, fireworks. These objects can only really be screened in airports, and despite social media boasts, the TSA’s fail rate last summer was an appalling 95%.

    Why? Partly, because tests skip past other layers of security. Another reason is that it’s much easier for the TSA to screen checked bags than carry-ons, and airlines keep discouraging people from checking bags. In 2014, airlines made $1 billion from checked bag fees, even with three-fourths of bags carried on. And those carry-ons are much harder to scan.

    Checked bag fees were introduced in the early 2000s and became almost industry-wide by 2008, in part as a way for struggling airlines to maintain revenue. (Or maybe, because bag fees for the airlines are tax-exempt, it’s a weird tax arbitrage strategy). Their persistence, combined with travelers bringing more and more of their belongings as carry-on, has led to calls for both an end to bag fees and an end to carry-ons altogether.

    But Is It Even Necessary?

    Ultimately, the TSA’s airport screening exists as the second-to-last line of defense for a threat that is astoundingly rare. In 2015, there was one major terrorist attack on an airliner, and it was a Russian plane in Egypt. Airline attacks were never common to being with, and in as much as there’s an annual rate of terrorism, it’s down. It’d be easy for intelligence agencies to claim credit, and they certainly claim some with plots foiled overseas, but mostly, it’s that outcomes for terrorists are worse beyond security. The actual last line of defense is, according to security researcher Bruce Schneier, “the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers.” These changes, more than anything else, are what keep Al Qaeda copycats from turning other airliners into building-bound missiles.

    And those changes don’t require us to get to the airport three hours early, cram all of our belongings into overstuffed carry-on bags, remove our shoes, risk further screening for appearing nervous, or subject ourselves to background checks in advance. Instead, we created the TSA, tasked it with a massive task, and hobbled it with bad science, weak funding, contradictory mandates, and a general lack of support, so that we can have the illusion of security in the form of inconvenience.

    Kelsey D. Atherton is a defense journalist. His work regularly appears at Popular Science, and he edits even nerdier stories at Grand Blog Tarkin. He is as interested in the future of war as he is uninterested in actually calling them UAVs, not drones.


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    Uber plans to raise another $2 billion, which it will probably use for its favorite cause: subsidizing its own prices in order to drive competitors out of the market. When all of the Uber competitors are finally gone, everyone is in for a big surprise!

    http://gawker.com/airbnb-is-not-...


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    This Looks Like the DNC's Hacked Trump Oppo File

    A 200+ page document that appears to be a Democratic anti-Trump playbook compiled by the Democratic National Committee has leaked online following this week’s report that the DNC was breached by Russian hackers. In it, Trump is pilloried as a “bad businessman” and “misogynist in chief.”

    The document—which according to embedded metadata was created by a Democratic strategist named Warren Flood—was created on December 19th, 2015, and forwarded to us by an individual calling himself “Guccifer 2.0,” a reference to the notorious, now-imprisoned Romanian hacker who hacked various American political figures in 2013.

    http://gawker.com/this-is-the-on...

    The package forwarded to us also contained a variety of donor registries and other strategy files, “just a few docs from many thousands I extracted when hacking into DNC’s network,” the purported hacker claimed over email, adding that he’s in possession of “about 100 Gb of data including financial reports, donors’ lists, election programs, action plans against Republicans, personal mails, etc.”

    His stated motive is to be “a fighter against all those illuminati that captured our world.”

    This Looks Like the DNC's Hacked Trump Oppo File

    The enormous opposition document, titled simply “Donald Trump Report,” appears to be a summary of the Democratic Party’s strategy for delegitimizing and undermining Trump’s presidential aspirations—at least as they existed at the end of last year, well before he unseated a field of establishment Republicans and clinched the nomination. A section titled “Top Narratives” describes a seven-pronged attack on Trump’s character and record.

    This Looks Like the DNC's Hacked Trump Oppo File

    The first is the argument that “Trump has no core”:

    One thing is clear about Donald Trump, there is only one person he has ever looked out for and that’s himself. Whether it’s American workers, the Republican Party, or his wives, Trump’s only fidelity has been to himself and with that he has shown that he has no problem lying to the American people. Trump will say anything and do anything to get what he wants without regard for those he harms.

    Second, that Trump is running a “divisive and offensive campaign”:

    There’s no nice way of saying it – Donald Trump is running a campaign built on fear-mongering, divisiveness, and racism. His major policy announcements have included banning all Muslims from entering the U.S., and calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “drug dealers” while proposing a U.S.-Mexico border wall. And Trump’s campaign rallies have become a reflection of the hateful tone of his campaign, with protestors being roughed up and audience members loudly calling for violence.

    Third, Trump is a “bad businessman”:

    Despite Trump’s continual boasting about his business success, he has repeatedly run into serious financial crises in his career and his record raises serious questions about whether he is qualified to manage the fiscal challenges facing this country. Trump’s business resume includes a long list of troubling issues, including his company’s record of forcing people from their homes to make room for developments and outsourcing the manufacturing of his clothing line to take advantage of lower-wage countries like China and Mexico. His insight about the marketplace has proven wrong many times, including in the run-up to the Great Recession. And Trump’s record of irresponsible and reckless borrowing to build his empire – behavior that sent his companies into bankruptcy four times – is just one indication of how out-of-touch he is with the way regular Americans behave and make a living, and it casts doubt on whether he has the right mindset to tackle the country’s budget problems.

    Fourth, Trump espouses “dangerous & irresponsible policies”:

    Trump’s policies – if you can call them that – are marked by the same extreme and irresponsible thinking that shape his campaign speeches. There is no question that Donald Trump’s rhetoric is dangerous – but his actual agenda could be a catastrophe.

    Fifth, in classically corny Democratic Party style, Donald Trump is the “misogynist in chief”:

    Through both his words and actions, Trump has made clear he thinks women’s primary role is to please men. Trump’s derogatory and degrading comments to and about women, as well as his tumultuous marriages, have been well publicized. And as a presidential candidate, Trump has adopted many of the backwards GOP policies that we’ve come to expect from his party.

    Sixth, Donald Trump is an “out of touch” member of the elite:

    Trump’s policies clearly reflect his life as a 1-percenter. His plans would slash taxes for the rich and corporations while shifting more of the burden to the shoulders of working families. He stands with Republicans in opposing Wall Street reform and opposing the minimum wage. Trump clearly has no conception of the everyday lives of middle class Americans. His description of the “small” $1 million loan that his father gave him to launch his career is proof enough that his worldview is not grounded in reality.

    The seventh strategy prong is to focus on Trump’s “personal life,” including that “Trump’s Ex-Wife Accused Him Of Rape,” which is true.

    This Looks Like the DNC's Hacked Trump Oppo File

    What follows is roughly two hundred pages of dossier-style background information, instances of Trump dramatically changing his stance on a litany of issues, and a round-up of the candidate’s most inflammatory and false statements (as of December ‘15, at least).

    It appears that virtually all of the claims are derived from published sources, as opposed to independent investigations or mere rumor. It’s also very light on anything that could be considered “dirt,” although Trump’s colorful marital history is covered extensively:

    This Looks Like the DNC's Hacked Trump Oppo File

    The DNC hack was first revealed Tuesday, when the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike announced it had discovered two hacking collectives, linked to Russian intelligence, inside the DNC network after the DNC reported a suspected breach. In a blog post, the company identified the groups as “COZY BEAR” and “FANCY BEAR”—two “sophisticated adversaries” that “engage in extensive political and economic espionage for the benefit of the government of the Russian Federation.”

    According to the metadata associated with the file, the Trump dossier was last saved by someone named (in Cyrillic letters) “Felix Edmundovich.” This could be a reference to the historical Soviet figure known as “Iron Felix,” and is likely an alias.

    The hackers were able to access opposition files and may have been able to read email and chat traffic, but did not touch any financial, donor, or personal information, the DNC said Tuesday. However, the user who sent the files to Gawker refuted that claim, writing, “DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said no financial documents were compromised. Nonsense! Just look through the Democratic Party lists of donors! They say there were no secret docs! Lies again! Also I have some secret documents from Hillary’s PC she worked with as the Secretary of State.”

    Among the files sent to Gawker are what appear to be several lists of donors, including email addresses and donation amounts, grouped by wealth and specific fundraising events. Gawker has not yet been able to verify that the Trump file was produced by the DNC, but we have been able to independently verify that the financial documents were produced by people or groups affiliated with the Democratic Party.

    Also included are memos marked “confidential” and “secret” that appear to date back to 2008, and pertain to Obama’s transition into the White House, and a file marked “confidential” containing Hillary’s early talking points, at least some of which ended up being repeated verbatim in her April, 2015 candidacy announcement.

    Finally, there is a May, 2015 memo outlining a proposed strategy against the field of potential GOP candidates. Donald Trump, who had not yet officially announced his candidacy, does not appear in the document.

    The purported hacker writes “it was easy, very easy” to hack and extract thousands of files from the DNC network, “the main part” of which he or she claims are in the custody of Wikileaks. He or she also appears to have sent the documents to The Smoking Gun, which posted about the dossier earlier today.

    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crim...

    Warren Flood did not immediately return a request for comment. DNC Press Secretary Mark Paustenbach was not able to immediately confirm the authenticity of the documents, but the party is aware that they’re circulating.

    Update: The Trump campaign alleges that the DNC hacked itself, which sure is a stupid theory:


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    Senate Votes to Require Women to Register for the Draft After January 1, 2018

    The Senate has approved a defense budget that would also require women to register for the draft. The new rules would apply to any woman who turns 18 on or after January 1, 2018. The key opponents to drafting women were conservative Republicans, including your old friend, botched Madam Tussauds exhibit Ted Cruz.

    This one has been brewing for a while: back in April, the House Armed Services Committee voted to approve a version of the National Defense Authorization Act, the mammoth yearly military budget, that included women in the draft. (The full NDAA appropriates $602 billion to the armed services, because the United States spends more on our military budget than any other country on earth and the next seven countries combined.)

    But the conservative Republican Congressman who introduced the “draft women” provision doesn’t actually support it; Rep. Duncan Hunter of California intended it as “gotcha amendment,” because he didn’t think liberals would vote to draft women. He was trying to make some sort of curious point about how Democrats don’t really support integrating women into the military, specifically into combat roles. Hunter then proceeded to vote against his own amendment. It was all very odd.

    But including women in the draft was less controversial than Hunter believed, and the measure stayed in. On Tuesday, the Senate approved the NDAA 85-13, even as Cruz and his conservative think tank backers wrung their hands. From Politico:

    Heritage Action, the conservative advocacy arm of The Heritage Foundation, deemed the defense policy bill a “key vote” that would count on its annual lawmaker scorecards because of the draft language.

    “It is a radical change that is attempting to be foisted on the American people,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said. “The idea that we should forcibly conscript young girls into combat, to my mind, makes little or no sense. It is at a minimum a radical proposition. I could not vote for a bill that did so, particularly that did so without public debate.”

    Just to be crystal clear here, Cruz and Heritage Action oppose drafting women because of innate, sexist ideas about women’s roles and physical abilities. Women have served with honor and distinction in combat roles for years, something you wouldn’t know from Heritage Action’s website, which claims that women in the military will hurt men and damage military readiness:

    Conservatives believe women and men have equal natural rights, and equality means that law should treat things that are the same in the same ways. But when it comes to combat-related tasks, there are differences between men and women that are relevant to accomplishing the military mission.

    According to former Marine Corps servicewoman Jude Eden, “Combat is not an equal opportunity for women because they don’t have an equal opportunity to survive.” If women’s increased risk of injury makes them more vulnerable when engaging the enemy, why would Congress ever want to require women to be registered for the Selective Service, and ultimately the draft?

    Now, though, President Obama is threatening to veto the NDAA when it reaches his desk, albeit not because of drafting women. The bill as written calls for keeping the detention center at Guantanamo open, which the president promised to close on his first day in office.

    The NDAA is headed for a conference to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill, and then probably to a gigantic argument between Congress and Obama soon after.


    In a May 9, 2012 photo, Capt. Sara Rodriguez of the 101st Airborne Division walks through the woods during the expert field medical badge testing at Fort Campbell, Ky. Photo via AP


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    This Is the Only Good Oppo Research the DNC Has on Trump
    Image: AP

    Of the more than 200 pages of opposition research seemingly compiled by the DNC to nail Trump, the vast majority is underwhelming at best. One entry, though, almost makes all that trouble worth it: The fact that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump doesn’t believe in heaven.

    http://gawker.com/this-looks-lik...

    In a Chicago Tribune article from 1989 (which Buzzfeed actually discovered just under a week ago), Donald Trump reveals that he “doesn’t believe in reincarnation, heaven, or hell.” As far as the DNC is concerned, though, it’s Trump’s apparent lack of faith in God’s eternal kingdom, specifically, that’s damning enough for use as ammo.

    This Is the Only Good Oppo Research the DNC Has on Trump

    This, of course, would go against the official beliefs of the Presbyterian church, a church that Donald Trump insists he belongs to. As the one-time denier of heavenly rewards said back in October, “I’m Presbyterian. Can you believe it? Nobody believes I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian.”

    The dossier also nails Trump for flip-flopping on his heaven-related beliefs since entering the Presidential race. In November, when asked if Trump believed in such a place, Trump offered a definitive “yes” before adding that he hopes to go there.

    One thing the DNC fails to note, however, is that America has been down this road before, with Alex Malarkey, the little sinner who lied to the world about dying and going to heaven—and from whose downfall Donald Trump has apparently learned nothing.

    There’s still always the possibility that the DNC has some deeper, darker dirt hidden away (and god knows there has to be something out there), but judging from what we’ve seen so far, this is about as good as it gets.


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    Divers Recover Body of Toddler Attacked by Alligator at Disney Resort
    Photo: AP

    On Wednesday, a dive team recovered the remains of the 2-year-old boy dragged off by an alligator last night near Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Hotel, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

    http://gawker.com/alligator-drag...

    “He was found within the immediate area where he was last seen,” said Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings at a press conference. “The family was distraught, but they were relieved to have the body back and intact.”

    According to police, the boy’s parents, Matt and Melissa Graves, were visiting the Orlando resort from Elkhorn, Nebraska, when their child was attacked last night. From USA Today:

    The 7- to 8-foot reptile grabbed the boy late Tuesday as he was playing in about a foot of water at the Seven Seas Lagoon at the resort. His father, who quickly rushed to the boy’s aid, could not fend off the alligator and received minor injuries to his hand.

    The boy’s mother also rushed into the water, but when the frantic couple was unable to save their son, they alerted a nearby lifeguard who called 911.

    Some 50 wildlife specialists, including trained alligator trappers, shifted early Wednesday from a search and rescue effort to a recovery operation, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said.

    The boy’s official cause of death has yet to be determined, but Sheriff Demings told reporters on Wednesday that “there’s no question in my mind that the child was drowned by the alligator.”

    Wildlife officials tell NBC News that there is a “good chance” they have caught the alligator that attacked the boy, having trapped and euthanized five alligators for analysis since the attack.


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    Ugandan High School Reportedly Expels 20 Students for Being Gay
    Photo: AP

    As we continue to mourn for Orlando, it’s important to not lose sight of homophobia’s status as a global problem. Offering some depressing perspective on that note is a story out of Uganda—which remains a horrific place for LGBT people and where homosexual activity is illegal— via KuchuTimes, “Africa’s first collective online radio, television and news platform focusing on LGBTI issues in Africa,” according to its Twitter. Reportedly, several students have been expelled from western Uganda’s boys-only Mbarara High School after being shamed and tortured by fellow students for being gay. Reports KuchuTimes:

    It is reported that around 2am on the morning of Sunday 12th 2016, three students in their senior three were caught viewing pictures on gay dating sites on their smart phones. Before they knew what was happening, they were surrounded by a gang of their fellow students who started shouting, “homosexuals, homosexuals!” The noise alarmed the rest of the student’s community who gathered and started beating the three.

    The victims were battered severely and forced to divulge names of other students involved in homosexuality. In fear of being tortured further, they named a number of students; one of whom was the Head boy.

    The Police intervened and rescued the victims from the lynching mob before escorting them to their homes. Reports further indicate that as of Tuesday afternoon, management had a list of over 20 students who were being accused of engaging in same sex relationships and had resolved to suspend them indefinitely.

    Three injured students are reportedly in the hospital.

    Ugandan gay activist Frank Mugisha reported a version of the story on his Twitter yesterday:

    Last year, Mbarara High School copy-and-pasted a news report on its Facebook regarding the closing of Ntare School after two students were accused of being gay and a “rampage” by their fellow students ensued. “Teachers however, and other administrators came in time to save the two from being attacked. They also cautioned the students to keep the matter secret for the school’s reputation,” says the post. “This however did not go well with the student community, who on Tuesday night launched a violent strike after night studies.”

    According to Wikipedia, Mbarara High School has a student body of 1,200 and was established in 1911 by Christian missionaries.

    Gawker reached out to Mbarara High School via its Facebook page and will update this post if and when we hear back.


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    These Are the Publications the DNC Relied On to Build Oppo Research on Donald Trump
    Photo: Getty

    The term “oppo research” is a sexy one, conjuring scenes of detectives peering in windows and meetings in shadowy underground parking garages. In reality, at least based on files that appeared to be hacked from the DNC, oppo research mostly consists of aggregating a bunch of news articles about Donald Trump.

    http://gawker.com/this-looks-lik...

    The document, which was sent to Gawker and contains metadata indicating it was created by a DNC strategist named Warren Flood, is a 200-page argument about why Donald Trump is Bad. To build their case, the creator or creators of the document cited about 150 or so publications and news outlets for revelations such as Trump flip-flopping on heaven.

    http://gawker.com/this-is-the-on...

    Gawker pulled the citations to get a better idea of what the DNC is reading these days. It’s not an exact count of the number of articles they used, as some articles were referenced more than once; just a number of total references to any given publication.

    The Washington Post, which was banned from Trump campaign events Monday, leads the pack with 75 references. CNN topped out with 53 mentions, the New York Times with 50, and, hot on their heels, the forgotten-but-not-dead Larry King, who merited a whopping 46 mentions. The Associated Press was cited only 11 times, putting it on par with CBS This Morning, ABC Primetime Live, and The O’Reilly Factor.

    Politico and The Hill found themselves on about equal footing, with about 41 references each. Other favorites of the DNC include: ABC News (17), 20/20 (15), USA Today (15), Breitbart (14), Fox and Friends (14), CNN People in the News (12), On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (nine), Reuters (nine), Bloomberg (nine), CBS News (nine), and Your World With Neil Cavuto (eight).

    In new media, the Daily Beast, which was also banned from Trump campaign events, warranted around 37 mentions. BuzzFeed was referenced around 11 times, Vox six times, Gawker five, and Jezebel twice—it’s important to remember quantity does not equate to quality.


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    L.A. Pride Weapons Suspect Charged With Molesting 12-Year-Old Girl
    Photo: AP

    The Indiana man arrested on weapons charges while in Santa Monica this weekend for the Los Angeles gay pride festival was additionally charged with child molestation on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

    http://gawker.com/police-identif...

    Prosecutors told the AP that it was a “logical conclusion” that 20-year-old James Wesley Howell traveled to California to escape the investigation into allegations he had sex with a 12-year-old girl on state forestry property in Indiana last month.

    Joseph Greeson, a friend of Howell’s from Indiana, described the suspect as bisexual and said he harbored no ill will towards gays and lesbians. According to Greeson, however, Howell was “lonerish” and may have fled the state due to prior legal trouble.

    “He might have got scared because he got in trouble here and stuff,” Greeson told The Indianapolis Star. “He might have just been heading out and then had the guns with him for whatever reason and just, you know, wrong place and wrong time.”

    In April, Howell pleaded guilty to misdemeanor intimidation after allegedly pointing a handgun at his neighbors and his boyfriend last year. In exchange for reduced charges, the L.A. Times reports Howell agreed to not own any weapons while on probation.

    On Sunday, police say they found three rifles, high-capacity magazines and a 25-pound container of commercially-sold target practice explosives in Howell’s car while responding to reports of a prowler. After initially claiming Howell expressed intent to “harm” the L.A. Pride parade, police later confirmed that he merely referenced the festival.

    http://gawker.com/man-armed-with...

    According to the L.A. Times, Howell was charged with felony possession of an assault weapon, felony possession of explosives on a public highway, felony possession of a high-capacity magazine and misdemeanor possession of a firearm in a car on Tuesday.

    “After things went bad, that’s when he started getting violent with me,” Howell’s ex-boyfriend, 17-year-old Zach Hambrick, told The Indianapolis Star. “It didn’t surprise me. It didn’t surprise me at all.”


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    Donald Trump Vows to "Do It by Myself" If GOP Prudes Won't Lend Him a Hand
    Photo: AP

    In the wake of Donald Trump’s toxic response to the Orlando shooting, Republican leaders have tried to distance themselves from their presumptive nominee, going so far as to physically flee from reporters. On Wednesday, however, a passionate Trump refused to stand down, claiming that he had more than enough self-love to satisfy his needs.

    http://gawker.com/miserable-repu...

    At a rally in Atlanta, Georgia, Trump promised to “do it by myself” if squeamish party elders refused to get a grip on the hard job ahead. From CNN (emphasis added):

    Donald Trump slammed GOP leaders on Wednesday for not lining up behind him, implying that he’s willing to go forward without their help.

    “We have to have our Republicans either stick together or let me just do it by myself. I’ll do very well. I’m going to do very well. OK? I’m going to do very well. A lot of people thought I should do that anyway, but I’ll just do it very nicely by myself,” Trump said.

    “This is too tough to do it alone,” said Trump. “But you know what? I think I’m gonna be forced to. I think I’m going to be forced to.”

    Trump, CNN notes, “did not elaborate on what doing it ‘by myself’ would mean.”


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    Almost a month after an EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo went missing with 66 people on board, officials say that several main sections of the plane have been discovered at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, UPI reports.

    http://gawker.com/egyptair-fligh...

    On Wednesday, the Egyptian government said that wreckage from EgyptAir Flight 804 was found and photographed in “several main locations.” From The Wall Street Journal:

    A specialized vessel, the John Lethbridge belonging to Deep Ocean Search Ltd., was able to provide the first images of Flight 804 wreckage to investigators, Egyptian officials said. The May 19 crash killed all 66 passengers and crew.

    The search ship is equipped with a scanning sensor to pinpoint the location of the main body of the plane, and carries equipment to eventually recover the Airbus Group SE A320’s black boxes.

    With the recovery of the black boxes, investigators are hoping to determine the cause of the crash, which is still unknown. According to the Journal, radar data now suggests that the plane was not brought down by an in-flight explosion, as some initially believed.

    Time, however, is running out: According to the BBC, the plane’s black boxes are expected to lose their charge in just nine days.


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