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    Hardly Any Former Felons Have Registered to Vote in Virginia Since It Was Made Legal
    Image: Getty

    So far, Virginia’s noble stride toward enfranchising its citizens who have been convicted of felonies with the vote has resulted in... very few convicted felons actually registering to vote.

    In April, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order granting the right to vote to all Virginians who’d been convicted of felonies and subsequently completed their sentences. The order reversed Virginia’s previous policy of stripping the vote from all convicted felons for life—among the harshest disenfranchisement laws in the country—restoring eligibility to about 200,000 people. Republicans, arguing that this was all a ploy to secure more votes for Hillary in November, immediately set out trying to have the order overturned.

    It turns out that they’ve got nothing to worry about. Politico reports that only 8,170 of the newly eligible voters have registered since April. The low turnout stems from a number of factors, not least of which is the failure of the state Democratic Party to engage with these new voters in any meaningful way.

    The experiment to restore the vote to felons is mostly a bust so far, but at least the low turnout makes Republicans’ line of argument more difficult: Faced with an influx of voters that could swing a historically close presidential election state in their favor, the Democrats have done almost nothing with this potential advantage. If this is their idea of electioneering, they’re doing a pretty bad job of it. Maybe McAuliffe was only interested in the principle of the thing after all.

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    Donald Trump's Social Media Director Is Going to Have an Awkward Yom Kippur This Year With His Wife's "Amazing Jewish Family"

    Dan Scavino, Donald Trump’s social media director who this weekend overlaid an anti-Semitic graphic on top of Hillary Clinton’s face, today spoke of his wife’s “amazing Jewish family,” who I’m sure will be thrilled to see him this year come the high holy days.

    “For the MSM to suggest that I am antisemite is AWFUL,” Scavino, who lifted the image from a Twitter user who also made a swastika out of Hillary’s face, said early Monday morning. “I proudly celebrate holidays w/ my wife’s amazing Jewish family for the past 16 years.”

    Well, that settles it then.

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    This Guy Keeps Getting Killed in Terrorist Attacks
    This guy has apparently died three times this year, most recently in Turkey. (Image: @sidaxmejicano/Twitter)

    If this face seems familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it associated with any number of recent terror incidents. This man has apparently died at least three times since January, most recently in the terrorist attack at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul. So what gives? A France24 investigation provides the answer.

    This Guy Keeps Getting Killed in Terrorist Attacks
    Twitter screengrab via France24

    This same guy has been identified through social media as a terror victim in the wake of several recent incidents, including the EgyptAir crash last month, the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, and the deadly attack at the Turkish airport. He’s also been connected to other sorts of tragedies, including an incident in Mexico when police shot at a crowd of people protesting education reform. But instead of identifying him as a victim, social media users said he was the person who ordered the police to shoot.

    This Guy Keeps Getting Killed in Terrorist Attacks
    Twitter screengrab via France24

    All these claims are, obviously, false. Regrettably, these social media shenanigans have been picked up by the media; the man’s photo is currently included in a New York Times video about the victims of the Orlando shooting. Following a BBC article about internet fakes and rumors, an investigative team at France24 decided to dig a little further to find out who this man really is and why this keeps happening to him.

    It turns out this mysterious individual may be a bit of a scam artist—or at the very least, a very shitty friend—and this prank is how his victims are enacting their revenge. The social media users who crafted the fake posts all told France24 a similar story, that they knew the man and he had cheated them out of money, ranging from small sums up to $1,000. “Our goal is to ruin his reputation,” said one of the perpetrators, “We want the whole world to recognize his face.”

    This Guy Keeps Getting Killed in Terrorist Attacks
    Tweets like this appeared in various media outlets, including the BBC.

    France24 managed to contact the person pictured in the photos, but have decided not to publish his real name. He’s based in Mexico and admitted that he’s currently embroiled in legal proceedings, telling France24 that, “My photo is everywhere because of someone who started it as a prank after a legal dispute.” He said he contacted media outlets like the BBC and the New York Times and asked them to delete his photo, “but they never responded.”

    So what recourse does someone have in situations like this? In most countries, laws on cyber-harassment are still in their infancy. Existing media law can sometimes come into play, and alleged victims can sue for slander or defamation. Penalties can be severe, and even include jail time.

    In this particular case, the man has avoided any kind of legal action, telling France24 that in Mexico, “nothing ever happens in these kind of cases.”


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    Yet Another Baltimore Cop in Freddie Gray Case Opts for Bench Trial
    Image: AP

    Baltimore Police Department Lieutenant Brian Rice, the highest-ranking officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray, is opting for a trial by judge, it was announced this morning.

    Rice’s selection of a bench trial over facing a jury of his peers is not surprising: Officers Caesar Goodson Jr. and Edward Nero both also chose bench trials earlier this year, and both were acquitted in Gray’s death. Judge Barry G. Williams, who delivered those acquittals, is also presiding over Rice’s case.

    (The trial of William Porter, the first officer tried and the only one not to opt for a bench trial, ended with a hung jury.)

    Rice was one of the officers who loaded Gray into the prisoner transport van where Gray died, and he is accused of failing to secure Gray with a seatbelt. He has pled not guilty to involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office, and reckless endangerment.

    On Monday, the Baltimore Sun published an interview with David Jaros, a University of Baltimore law professor who has given insightful analysis of the previous trials. Despite some unknown factors—such as a statement Rice gave to investigators after Gray’s death, which has not yet been made public—Jaros does not believe the prosecution will win. “My guess is that their case is not significantly stronger, and my expectation is this case will play out like the others have,” he told the Sun.

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  • 07/05/16--07:32: Got a spare 45 minutes?
  • Got a spare 45 minutes? I don’t care, read George Saunders’ New Yorker piece on Trump supporters anyway. It is undoubtedly the most fun you’ll have weeping for our lost nation all week.

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    Newly Disclosed Emails Show Andrew Cuomo's Office Knew More Than They Let On About the Bridgegate Coverup
    Photo: AP

    In the months after Bridgegate, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said he and his office knew nothing about the fallout from the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that engulfed the bi-state Port Authority in scandal. As it turns out, this was not entirely true.

    When asked about the scandal for the first time, three months after it broke, Cuomo told reporters, “I don’t know anything more than basically what has been in the newspaper, because it was basically a New Jersey issue.” But newly released records, obtained by WNYC through a Freedom of Information request, show that Cuomo and his top aides were more intimately and immediately involved in responding to the lane closures than they had previously suggested.

    Drawing from email and text message correspondence between staffers in Cuomo’s office and those in New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s office, WNYC’s Andrea Bernstein has established a timeline of immediate aftermath of the lane closures:

    The first indication that high-level Cuomo administration officials knew about the lane closures came on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013.

    Pat Foye, the Cuomo-appointed executive director of the Port Authority, had ordered the lanes reopened immediately. He fired off an email that strayed sharply from his usual bureaucracy-speak. “I am appalled by the lack of process,” Foye wrote, adding the closures violated federal and state laws.

    Foye forwarded the email to Cuomo right-hand man Howard Glaser, then the director of state operations, who was meeting with the governor at the time, according to Cuomo’s schedule.

    “Well done,” Glaser wrote back.

    The next day, Foye was urgently making asking the Port Authority staffer in charge of the George Washington Bridge:

    “anything else on Wildstein and Baroni”?

    “2nd floor request,” Foye wrote. “Need to know ASAP.”

    “Second floor” is Albany speak for the part of the state capitol where Cuomo and his top aides have their offices.

    David Wildstein and Bill Baroni were Christie’s two top appointees at the Port Authority. Together, they developed the agency’s official statement on the closures—that the Port Authority “has conducted a week of study at the GWB of traffic safety patterns.” Wildstein has pleaded guilty to several felony counts in the scandal, and Baroni faces trial in September.

    That Cuomo’s claim that he didn’t know anything more about the cover-up than anyone else turned out to be bogus is hardly surprising: The Port Authority is a multi-billion-dollar bi-state agency embroiled in a scandal centered on the world’s busiest bi-state bridge. But if Cuomo (or his office) knew the coverup was happening, investigators may interpret the fact that they didn’t blow the whistle as a de facto act of helping to keep things quiet—to say nothing of the fact that it would appear Cuomo’s aides coordinated with Christie’s to make sure everyone was telling the same story.

    (Of course, while Cuomo’s assertion was bizarre on its face, it was not as bizarre as the Christie spokesman’s early claim that “the governor of the state of New Jersey does not involve himself in traffic studies.”)

    Though the records obtained by WNYC do not necessarily illuminate anything that was previously obscure in the increasingly convoluted Bridgegate investigation, they do highlight missing evidence.

    Last week, court filings confirmed earlier allegations that Governor Christie had deleted 12 text messages between himself and an aide about the Bridgegate investigation, sent during Port Authority director Pat Foye’s testimony before the New Jersey state assembly, and the cell phone has since gone missing. Christie claims the text messages—which the aide also deleted—were “of no moment or no import.”

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    Ben Carson Continues His Run as the Worst Campaign Surrogate of All Time

    Apparently responding to Donald Trump’s latest Twitter dalliance with barely-veiled anti-Semitism, Dr. Ben Carson, the Trump campaign’s underminer-in-chief, subtly suggested that the candidate maybe should be “careful” about courting the neo-Nazi vote.

    This weekend, Trump tweeted an image accusing Hillary Clinton of being the “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” emblazoned with a Star of David—or sheriff’s badge, depending on who you ask—on a background of cash. The image was previously featured on the white supremacist 4chan board /pol/, and apparently came to the Trump campaign via a Twitter user who dabbled in updated Nazi iconography.

    “Social media provides a great platform for discourse,” Carson tweeted (falsely, as it happens), “but we must be careful with the messages we send out.”

    Previous messages that Carson has sent out into the world include the notion that Obamacare is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery” and that prison makes people gay.

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    Tom Brady Is Being a Bad Friend to Donald Trump
    Alright, guy: Facebook

    “Donald Trump is a good friend, and I support my friends,” famous handsome face Tom Brady once said about his good friend Donald Trump, who he supports. But apparently even Tom Brady’s legendary benevolence has its limits.

    Despite being so blessed with free time that he can fly to the Hamptons to try and woo a superstar player in a sport he doesn’t even play, Brady will skip his good friend Donald Trump’s coronation at the upcoming Republican National Convention:

    “He’s a good friend of mine. He’s always been so supportive of me. For the last 15 years, since I judged a beauty pageant for him, which was one of the very first things that I did that I thought was really cool that came along with winning the Super Bowl,” Brady said back in December. “I support all my friends in everything they do.”

    Don’t trust Tom Brady.

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    FBI Director Will Not Recommend Criminal Charges Against Hillary Clinton Over Private Email Server

    At a press conference held on Tuesday morning in Washington, D.C., FBI Director James Comey told reporters that his agency will not recommend an criminal indictment against Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server to conduct official, and in many cases classified, correspondence during her tenure as Secretary of State.

    Though he noted that the FBI found that Clinton and her staff had been “extremely careless” in the former Secretary’s use of a private email server, Comey said that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring an indictment against Clinton, and that “no charges are appropriate in this case.”

    Comey prefaced his remarks by claiming that no other federal agency, including the Department of Justice, knew what he was about to say. Before disclosing the FBI’s recommendations, he detailed the results of the investigation into Clinton’s email server. The agency found, for example, that Clinton sent or received 110 emails in 52 email chains that contained classified information at the time she sent or received them. The agency also found that Clinton used more than one email server.

    The FBI’s decision not to recommend an indictment against Clinton represents an enormous victory for her presidential campaign, which has struggled since March of last year to answer questions about her email practices.

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    What You're Doing When You Call My Brother "Retarded"
    Illustration by Jim Cooke.

    I have never been a violent person, at least not instinctively. Whenever I was teased as a child—I struggled to read for much of elementary school and wore a lot of white jeans, so I was teased a lot—I’d opt for silence or a quick joke, usually at my own expense. I’d level my aggressor with my apparent disinterest or with my words, never with my fists. All of that wit and restraint dissipated, however, whenever I saw anyone making fun of my older brother Sean.

    A guy doesn’t forget his first fight, but odds are he may not remember the factors that lead to the violence in vivid detail; I remember mine as if it happened an hour ago. I was eight years old and walking from the computer lab to my second grade teacher Mrs. Ouellette’s classroom at the Cashman Elementary School in Amesbury, Massachusetts. As I descended a set of stairs, I spotted my brother, Sean, who was 11 and in the fifth grade at the time, walking through the hallway in front of me. His gait—awkward and strained and favoring his left side—was unmistakable.

    Outside of the sort of rivalries that are inherent to any set of siblings, my brother and I were close. When I saw him at school, I was excited to catch up to him and say hello. I was proud to show off to my friends: “I am eight and I am terrified, but I have an older brother in this building, so I am protected. Do you have an older brother in this building? No, I didn’t think so. I am invincible.”

    As I approached Sean, I spotted another older kid—a classmate of his, a “cool” kid—trailing a few paces behind and mimicking my brother’s lopsided stride, beating his chest with his right arm in an exaggerated manner, his hand formed into a contorted claw. A few of the jerk’s buddies snickered—some with glee, and some with looks on their faces that denoted discomfort but also the false bravado that comes from being with your pack. I knew what was happening, but I wasn’t prepared to take on six or seven confident, bigger kids by myself. At least, I wasn’t prepared to take them on until I got close enough to hear what their leader was saying.

    I can’t repeat the sentences verbatim, but I do remember hearing the two words that enrage me still: “cripple” and “retard.”

    It wasn’t like my brother couldn’t hear them—he’s got the ears of a vampire bat. (That thing they say about the senses you do have compensating for the senses you don’t have is true.) Even at 11, he carried himself with grace. It couldn’t have been the first time he was exposed to the grotesque behavior of others—others who were terrified of otherness—but it was the first time I’d been exposed to it. I didn’t react well.

    My wit failed me. My logic failed me. Instead, I charged—a frothing child, my chest hot and buzzing—with the same foolish mania that’s inspired so much historical tribal violence. I leapt at the offender and grabbed him around his throat, pulling him to the ground before punching his face and chest. He eventually turned me on my back to return the favor—he was a lot stronger than I was, after all—but not before I cut him above his left eye. (In my head I was the victor, but I’m sure I must have gotten my ass kicked very, very badly.) A librarian eventually separated us, and as I was being hauled off to the principal’s office I screamed, “If I ever catch you calling my brother a cripple or a retard again, I’ll fucking kill you!” I believe this was also the first time I ever said any iteration of the word “fuck.”

    This would happen a handful of times in elementary school. I’d see someone give my brother shit, I’d try to calm myself down, try to fight ignorance with reason, but ultimately resort to violence. I would make sure I hurt the offender, leaving no space for the misinterpretation of my intent. This logic worked fine for me when I actually saw someone bullying my brother, but I could only imagine what he went through when I wasn’t around to protect him. I’m sure those instances were far more frequent.

    Sean was born on August 11, 1981, a healthy, “normal” baby boy. Four hours after his birth, he experienced a sharp spike in blood pressure. This spike went unnoticed by the medical professionals responsible for his care, and resulted in a massive stroke which paralyzed the right side of his body and rendered him all but blind. In the morning of August 11, 1981, my brother was new and pink and without complication—by that afternoon, he was fighting the fight of his life.

    Cerebral palsy is a misunderstood disorder, but then any disability—mental, physical, or otherwise—is misunderstood. Sometimes the complications occur prenatally, others postnatally (as with my brother). Oftentimes, those affected by cerebral palsy are confined to a wheelchair* and experience such severe vocal cord paralysis they’re unable to speak clearly enough to be understood. Sometimes, they’re unable to speak at all. This inability to speak clearly, or at all, is frequently misinterpreted as a corruption of cognitive function. It is not. (I recommend you read Christy Brown’s autobiography My Left Foot, or at least watch Daniel Day Lewis’ turn as Brown in the film of the same name, if you want to better understand cerebral palsy.)

    In the most severe cases, cerebral palsy functions as a cruel tomb—you’re alive, your mind is fully intact, but because you’re not able to express yourself, and because you’re confined to a wheelchair, everyone around you assumes you lack any cognitive function. Fortunately for my brother, he’s not confined to a wheelchair and his vocal cords were left unscathed. He’s full of horrible puns, so there are times I wish he couldn’t speak—but I’m mostly glad he can.

    As it turned out, Sean actually became a public speaker of sorts. While his physical impairments dictated that he couldn’t participate in athletics—which must have bothered him—his obsession with sports was clear. Ask my brother the hospital at which Pete Maravich was born—fucking ask him the precise moment at which Pete Maravich was born—and he’ll tell you. He could probably tell you what color underwear Maravich wore when he signed for the Hawks in 1970. If there’s a dictionary definition of “sports nerd,” it’s got my brother’s likeness printed directly to its right.

    So, Sean found away around not being able to actually play sports himself. He couldn’t launch deep threes during basketball season or blast slappers during floor hockey season, but god dammit if he couldn’t talk a blue streak. And at the beginning of his 6th grade year, he approached his gym teacher and asked if instead of participating on the court, he could announce the games.

    We grew up fans of the Celtics—our father was a courtside reporter when Bird and Dominique traded blows in Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference semifinals, a game my brother remembers but a game that I am too young to have any recollection of. This means we also grew up fans of Johnny Most. To know the manner by which Johnny Most called a game is to know the manner by which my brother called a game—somewhat cantankerous (with a few accidental but somehow charming F-bombs dropped in every now and then), but always with the class only a deeply knowledgeable sports mind can muster. As far as my brother was concerned, the first game of the middle school gym league might as well have been Game 7 of the NBA finals. It is this passion I most admire about Sean. Unfortunately, not everyone admired it.

    While announcing a basketball game of zero significance—it was middle school gym class, so no game was ever of any real importance—my brother made a call that one of the athletes on the floor didn’t agree with. After the game, this athlete—able-bodied and popular—stalked my brother into the locker room, grabbed him by his midsection, crumpled him up like a used tissue, and stuffed him into a trash can.

    It sounds like a joke, like some farfetched storyline pitched in the Freaks and Geeks writer’s room that everyone deemed too absurd to really work. But it wasn’t. My brother is a resilient guy, and he’s never been one to play the “woe is me” card—but I often wonder how many more indignities he faced in silence, without an ally or a cornerman. How many of his callous peers called him a “retard” or cripple,” and how many took it a step further? The trash barrel couldn’t have been an isolated incident.

    When my brother first told me that story when we were kids, it broke my heart. It breaks my heart still.

    Epithets don’t appear out of thin air; there’s always some etymological context for our ignorant speech. “Retarded,” and any permutation thereof, spawned from “mental retardation,” a term once used to clinically diagnose a person as “intellectually impaired.” (I take umbrage with “intellectually impaired” as well, but that’s just me splitting hairs.) “Mental retardation” as a term to denote “intellectual disability” began to replace the term “mental deficiency” in the early 1960s. It also replaced other inarticulate terms such as cretin, moron, mongoloid, and imbecile, and so in that context, “mentally retarded” must have felt like a win. (Etymological transmutation has also affected some of the other less than tactful terms that were once employed to describe a person with an “intellectual disability.” Take imbecile, for example. Today, the chief definition of imbecile is, “A stupid person.” Here, let me use it in a sentence for you: “If you call someone a ‘retard,’ you’re a fucking imbecile.”)

    For a word that’s been denounced by the disabled community and its champions, it’s still awfully commonplace to hear “retarded” used in casual conversation. You wouldn’t use the n-word or the f-word in casual conversation, unless of course you’re a terrible cretin—there’s that etymological transmutation thing again—so why is it that “retard” and “retarded” still see widespread use?

    Part of the issue is that mass media reinforces bad behavior. “Retard” and “retarded” and “cripple” are used with regularity as punchlines by lazy comedy writers. One of South Park’s most celebrated episodes is called “Cripple Fight,” for Christ’s sake. Yes, I’ve heard the “South Park empowers its disabled characters” line before, but there’s a difference between satire and derision. When many of your most successful jokes are made at the expense of your disabled characters—or when you lazily call these characters “cripples” and “retards”—you’re trending more toward derision.

    Of course, South Park’s writers aren’t the only offenders. The Black Eyed Peas were the first band to sell half a million downloads with the inimitable “Let’s Get Retarded,” which later became “Let’s Get It Started” in retribution. (Its offensive title notwithstanding, “Let’s Get Retarded” is a garbage song, and its popularity raises an even bigger question: What the fuck is wrong with your taste, America?). The writers of Family Guy are also frequent offenders, and often mock those with language and speech disabilities.

    The list of so-called comedy writers and songs using “retard” or “retarded” is an unsurprisingly long one—and their presence is a cosigning of the behavior that the receiving parties endure. The nonchalant wielding of words that are widely accepted as hate speech is utterly insane. It normalizes hateful language, and that normalization is damning.

    The acceptance of such language begins at an early age, and the children wielding it aren’t always the ones most at fault. I can, to a degree, understand a child’s proclivity to ridicule that which appears to be different—when you’re a kid you want so badly to be self-assured, to be liked, to fit in. It’s Darwinian. This behavior, this idea that the disabled among us are indeed different and should be viewed as such, is also reinforced by the earliest socialization and group-learning opportunities available to kids. Our school systems point incoming children to a fork in the road their first day of kindergarten: “Normal kids to the right, special needs to the left.”

    I’m biased, but have to ask why those with the same cognitive learning skills are immediately pulled out of regular classes. Because the physical disabilities of these children—say one with cerebral palsy—might cause a minor distraction here and there? Right, okay—because the kid with ADHD who can’t stop slamming his fucking pencil against his desk, and the other kid who feels the need to make a fake fart noise every nine seconds aren’t constant, monumental fucking distractions. Got it. But what if this separation carries over to adolescence and then into adulthood?

    Well, I can say from experience that the systemic failure to integrate the disabled among us from an early age—a seemingly obvious decision that would no doubt help to destigmatize disability—does carry over into life outside of education. For most U.S. children, schooling and the socialization and relationships they make therein inform how they socialize and make relationships elsewhere. How else would this go? Normal kids to the right, special needs to the left.

    Sean, for example, has always been aware of his otherness—the leg braces made him aware; the surgery he endured at age 12 to lengthen his heel cord and the subsequent year of rehabilitation made him aware; the trash barrel made him aware; the asymmetry of his gait made him aware; the anxious glares of his peers made him aware. Being treated as if he has the mind of a child by fellow adults continues to make him aware.

    Somehow, despite the asinine propensity of others to emphasize his otherness, my brother doesn’t feel his otherness. He is aware of it, but it does not define him. No matter how badly the world around him seems to want it to, it simply does not.

    Sure, most 34 year-olds don’t need to ask their younger brother to thread their belt through the loops on their khakis and fasten the buckle. Sean does. Most 34 year-olds can tie their own shoes. Sean cannot. Most 34 year-olds don’t need to wait till their father cuts their steak before they are able to eat. Sean must wait.

    But most 34 year-olds haven’t memorized every note on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, including everything on the four disc box-set reissue. Sean has. Most 34 year-olds don’t possess a near encyclopedic knowledge of Civil War history. Sean does. And most 34 year-olds can’t tell you where every guard in the history of the Celtics went to college, and the nicknames of those schools. Sean can.

    I’ve been able-bodied my entire life, but I grew up with a brother who has not been. Maybe that’s put me at an empathy advantage—I’ve witnessed my brother struggle to do things, simple things, that I took for granted, and so naturally I’m bound to be more sensitive to the needs of someone with a disability. Sean, like everyone else, is complex. The epithets thrown at him—the people who refer to him as a “retard” or “cripple”—undermine his complexity, and make one-dimensional caricatures out of living, breathing humans who are vibrant in personality and scope.

    Exposure aside, I still find it hard to believe—and that’s putting it lightly—that many seem terrified of the disabled among us. People fear what they don’t want to understand, and that fear can lead to some pretty awful behavior. I wish I had some profound mission statement to end with, but I don’t. All I can really say is that it’s time to do better. We’ve got to stop saying “cripple” and “retard” and “retarded,” and call out those who do. We’ve got to stop being afraid of otherness, but rather embrace it as something to learn from. We’re not confused school children anymore, we’re adults.

    Terrence lives in Boston, where he works as an editor for America’s Test Kitchen. He’s co-founder of Bender Magazine, and has also written for Vice Sports, Tasting Table, and Serious Eats. Sometimes he tweets poorly @TerrenceDoyle.

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    Notorious Fabulist Jonah Lehrer Wants to Apologize (So You’ll Buy His Book)
    Photo: Getty Images

    Remember Jonah Lehrer, the pop-psychology author and New Yorker staff writer who invented Bob Dylan quotes and somehow managed to plagiarize himself? After resigning from his magazine gig in mid-2012, and watching his publisher retract two of his three books, Lehrer laid low for a few years—but not so low as to prevent him from issuing a mealy-mouthed apology during a journalism conference, or signing a fourth book contract with Simon & Schuster. And now he has a new book to sell.

    According to the Washington Post, Lehrer begins his new title, A Book About Love, with another apology, which reads in part:

    I broke the most basic rules of my profession. I am ashamed of what I’ve done. I will regret it for the rest of my life. To prevent these mistakes from happening again, I have followed a simple procedure in this book. All quotes and relevant text have been sent to subjects for their approval. This also applies to the research I describe: whenever possible, my writing has been sent to the scientists to ensure accuracy. In addition, the book has been independently fact-checked.

    As the Post notes, this apology “is an improvement over Lehrer’s 2013 Knight Foundation speech, in which he applied classic Jonah Lehrer formulations to his own misdeeds, investigating ‘the neuroscience of broken trust’ to explain what he had done.” But Lehrer’s apparent remedy raises its own issues, too. Sending “quotes and relevant text ... to subjects for their approval” describes the controversial practice of quote approval, which is discouraged within journalism circles because it frequently allows subjects to rewrite candid remarks.

    As for the book itself: A Kirkus review from May called it “as nebulous as its title suggests” and “looks more like an academic paper than a work of popular psychology.” According to A Book About Love’s Amazon page, the book does not appear to have received any promotional blurbs. It goes on sale July 12.

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    Eli Valley is publishing a collection of his comics this year with OR Books.

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    Writer Tackles Millennial Narcissism By Writing 1,400 Words About How Great He Is
    Image: Getty

    Perhaps you believe that the millennial generation is filled with self-obsessed dolts. An editorial entitled “I’m a millennial and my generation sucks,” published yesterday in the New York Post, will do little to disabuse you of that notion.

    Penned by a reporter named Johnny Oleksinski, who, as the headline suggests, is himself a member of what he cleverly terms “the lousiest generation,” the article contains such razor-sharp and original indictments of Oleksinski’s cohort as the following:

    Recently, a comment from a colleague hit me like a stray selfie-stick. She said, “In some ways I love being a millennial, because it’s so much easier to be better than the rest of our generation. Because they suck.” It was jarring to hear the truth so plainly stated. But she’s right. We suck. We really suck.

    Like a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, I must admit that I’m powerless to my biological age. Nonetheless I fight back every day against the traits that have come to define Gen Y: entitlement, dependency, nonstop complaining, laziness, Kardashians.


    My millennial friends want me to be hopelessly nostalgic for the ’90s, obsessing over which “Saved by the Bell” character I’m most like, while ironically purchasing Dunkaroos and Snapchatting my vacant expressions for 43 pals to ignore. Or flying home for the weekend to recover from office burnout by getting some shut-eye in my pristine childhood bedroom. Thanks, but I’ll pass.

    I highlighted the above passage in particular not for its pointed reference to “ironically purchasing Dunkaroos”—a staple of every lazy 25-year-old’s diet, as is well known—but for the subtext that it reveals to Oleksinski’s argument: Millennials are bad, because they are always complaining, and full of an unearned sense of their own specialness; I, on the other hand, am good and interesting and special, because I am not like my fellow millennials, and so I am going to complain about them.

    Consider the following three passages:

    Too often, during a conversation, a young person’s eyes glaze over as they decide what scintillating tidbit about their brilliant selves to reveal next, be it the three days they didn’t leave their apartment, or how a study abroad experience in Portugal nine years ago shaped who they are today. News flash: Nobody cares.

    People like me are called “old souls,” or “26-going-on-76.” We’re chided by our peers for silly things such as enjoying adulthood, commuting to a physical office and not being enamored with Brooklyn. Contentment has turned us into lepers. Or worse: functioning human beings.

    Last year, sitting at a bar in Hell’s Kitchen, a 29-year-old friend asked, “How do you just start talking to somebody you don’t know?” The best answer I could muster was, “I’m interested in other people. I like to ask them questions about themselves.” Simple, right?

    Too often, during a conversation, a young person’s eyes glaze over as they decide what scintillating tidbit about their brilliant selves to reveal next, be it the fact that they’ve been told a few times that they’re an “old soul,” or the carefully chosen anecdote that unsubtly reveals the moral superiority they feel above their friends. News flash: nobody cares.

    Everyone has been there. You’re talking with a millennial at a bar, or reading a New York Post article that purports to engage with the world via observation and analysis of social trends, however well-trodden and obvious its observations and analyses may be, when suddenly it hits you: The person yammering at you is interested only in himself.

    The writer, a millennial, set out to illustrate that millennials are contemptible in their narcissism, and he was successful, if not in precisely the way he intended. If one is looking for a piece of primary-source evidence for the tendencies that Johnny Oleksinski identifies as plagues to his and my own generation, one need look no further than the writing of Johnny Oleksinski.

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    Peter Thiel’s Lawyer Threatens Deadspin Over Feature on “Betting Expert” RJ Bell

    RJ Bell, the “Vegas oddsmaker” in charge of the sports betting website, and subject of a lengthy investigation by Ryan Goldberg on Gawker’s sister website Deadspin, has enlisted Charles J. Harder—the same lawyer who has threatened Gawker over Ashley Feinberg’s reporting on Donald Trump’s hair—to demand a retraction of the article. Meticulously reported over the course of a year, Goldberg’s piece exposed some of Bell and Pregame’s questionable business practices.

    Forbes has reported that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel is funding numerous lawsuits brought by Harder against Gawker Media, which owns Deadspin. Aside from Hulk Hogan’s suit against Gawker, neither Harder nor Thiel have stated which lawsuits in particular are being funded by Thiel. In a May interview with Thiel on his “clandestine war against Gawker,” he told the New York Times that he planned to wage a “deterrence” campaign against Gawker Media, which he believes has “ruined people’s lives for no reason.”

    According to email correspondence between Harder and Bell—portions of which the latter forwarded to Goldberg—Harder took just five minutes to decide to he was interested in Bell’s case, and only a few days after that, over a weekend, to get comfortable enough with the matter to put together a 13-page retraction demand in which he asks that Deadspin “immediately publish a full, fair and conspicuous retraction, correction and apology as to each false and defamatory statement” or else risk “immediate litigation.”

    Bell took to Twitter to explain his choice of attorney, referencing Peter Thiel’s legal war against Gawker Media:

    Gawker Media’s official response is embedded below.

    You can read Ryan Goldberg’s investigation over at Deadspin.

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    Ivanka Trump's Husband Not So Different From Ivanka Trump's Father
    Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Photo: AP

    Today’s New York Times profile of Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner—a real estate scion in his own right, whose influence on the presumptive Republican nominee’s presidential campaign has been steadily increasing since the spring—contains, amongst other things, this titillating anecdote:

    Unlike his father-in-law, with his seemingly bottomless appetite for conflict, Mr. Kushner is, by all accounts, soft-spoken and restrained. In the midst of a difficult real estate negotiation a few years ago, the Swatch-wearing Mr. Kushner playfully proposed an unconventional solution to a standoff: an arm-wrestling match.

    “It was such a simple way to resolve a conflict when the conflict didn’t need to be there in the first place,” said his counterpart in the negotiation, Adam Neumann, a founder of WeWork, which provides shared work spaces to entrepreneurs.

    Mr. Kushner lost.

    Kushner is, according to Neumann, “the opposite of a traditional New York developer.” This is not really true. In fact, Kushner comes from a long-standing tradition of New York developers who inherit their fortune and subcontract the dirty work. Now, though, Kushner is spending less time on real estate and more time in politics, supporting his father-in-law’s presidential ambitions.

    Though Trump praised him in a statement provided to the Times, saying that “Despite his great business success, he has the right priorities—family first,” it’s worth noting Kushner regularly overpays for things.

    In January 2007, Kushner acquired what may be his most famous building, 666 Fifth Avenue, paying more than $1,100 per square foot at a time when comparable buildings were selling for less than $800 per square foot, according to market analysis by Real Capital Analytics. In total, Kushner paid a record $1.8 billion for the building—his first in Manhattan. It was also the signal purchase of his attempt to restore the family name after his father was successfully prosecuted in 2005 for “crimes of greed, power, and excess” by none other than Chris Christie, then-U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey.

    Described at the time by the New York Times as “a classic example of reckless underwriting,” the deal was a spectacular failure. Rather than entering foreclosure, however, Kushner brought in Vornado Realty Trust, which spent tens of millions of dollars refurbishing the building in exchange for a 49.5 percent ownership stake.

    And in March of last year, Kushner paid $131.5 million for a portfolio of 16 apartment buildings that the seller had bought about two years prior for $73 million—an 80 percent increase. According to RCA, overall pricing for Manhattan apartments only increased by 58 percent in that time.

    Anyway, given the fact that Neumann keeps a heavy bag near his desk and served in the Israeli military, Kushner’s arm-wrestling challenge seems to have been something of a forlorn hope—or maybe he was just looking for a way to bow out without losing face. Sound familiar?

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  • 07/05/16--11:45: Explaining Kevin Durant
  • Explaining Kevin Durant
    This is Kevin Durant: AP

    Here is what you need to know about Kevin Durant, who did the crazy thing everyone is talking about.

    Who is Kevin Durant?

    Kevin Durant is probably one of the best basketball players in world history. In 2014, he won the NBA’s MVP award, and he’s currently third all-time in scoring per game behind only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. Not only is he one of the best players in the NBA, he’s also one of its most recognizable and marketable faces.

    In 2007, he was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics, which moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 and became the Thunder. Durant has been with the franchise for all nine years of his career. In those nine years the Thunder grew into one of the best teams in the NBA, but they were never able to win a championship.

    What did he do?

    This summer, Durant became an unrestricted free agent. That means he could choose to stay with the Thunder or go play for any other team in the NBA. On the morning of July 4, he announced that he would be leaving the Thunder to sign with the Golden State Warriors.

    Why are people mad?

    The Warriors, like Kevin Durant, are outrageously good. Two seasons ago they won the championship, and last season they broke the NBA record for most wins in a season with a record of 73-9. If they had not choked the title away to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, they might have had a claim as the best basketball team ever.

    A team as historically great as the Warriors has never added a player as historically great as Kevin Durant. It’s just not supposed to happen. Sports leagues are designed to funnel prodigiously talented players (like Durant) to bad teams (like the Thunder), and to keep those players on those teams indefinitely once both player and team prosper. (Michael Jordan, for instance, was on the Bulls for close to 15 years.) Durant’s story—incredibly good player becomes a superstar in a city as random as Oklahoma City—is how we’re conditioned to consume and celebrate sports.

    Durant severing that fairy tale story to join the team that just had the most wins ever shatters that conditioning. It’s a direct repudiation of how America understands sports. LeBron did something similar in 2010, but Durant joining the Warriors is an unprecedented marriage of talent that threatens to shred the basic notion of sports: that each team should have an equal opportunity at victory. What’s the point of having a league if one team now has the odds so slanted in their favor? Will watching basketball next season even be fun if you already know who is going to win?

    Durant’s choice has become one of those stories that rises out of the sports pages because it feels not just wrong, but evil. Sportswriters have had to look not only outside athletics but outside reality to find what feels like a fair comparison: Deadspin, The Ringer, and ESPN’s The Undefeated all have likened the Warriors with Durant to the Star Wars Death Star, which looms in George Lucas’ galaxy waiting to destroy planets with one easy zap of a laser.

    But Durant’s decision is such a major topic of discussion because it transcends sports. It touches topics that define the nature of a society. It asks us how we understand morality, fairness, and, ultimately, basic economic freedom.

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    Who Will Serve as Donald Trump's Celebrity Vice President?
    Photo Composite: Jim Cooke, Photos: Getty

    Speculation about who Donald Trump will pick as his running mate abounds. The latest news has Chris Christie being vetted for the position, but they’re probably just messing with him. So far, the reality show candidate has given every indication he plans to run on a reality show platform. But what celebrity apprentice would even take the (unpaid, likely short-lived) gig?

    With that in mind, Gawker reached out to 10 celebrities who have either expressed admiration for Donald Trump’s campaign or explicitly endorsed him and posed the same question to them all: If asked by Mr. Trump to serve as his vice president, would you accept? Here are their answers.

    Tila Tequila

    Who Will Serve as Donald Trump's Celebrity Vice President?
    Photo: AP

    Occupation: MySpace personality and reality show star.

    Pros: Firm grasp of social media.

    Cons: Passionate Hitler supporter, not technically eligible for the office.

    Response: “Would I serve as his Vice President? Not sure if I am able to seeing how I was born in Singapore even though I am an American citizen, but I would absolutely do it! If not the VP then I would definitely love to work in another position for the Trump administration! Mr. Trump is a tough cookie as am I, and I think it’s important to build a team with similar mindsets and goals.”

    Mike Tyson

    Who Will Serve as Donald Trump's Celebrity Vice President?
    Photo: AP

    Occupation: Former heavyweight champion and current cartoon detective.

    Pros: A “tough guy,” according to Donald Trump. “I like that.”

    Cons: Convicted rapist and registered sex offender.

    Response: No response.

    Kid Rock

    Who Will Serve as Donald Trump's Celebrity Vice President?
    Photo: AP

    Occupation: Unofficial spokesman for questions that don’t have an answer, midnight glances and topless dancers.

    Pros: Patriot.

    Cons: Scofflaw.

    Response: No response.

    Gary Busey

    Who Will Serve as Donald Trump's Celebrity Vice President?
    Photo: AP

    Occupation: Perennial game show contestant.

    Pros: Well-documented history of political and psychological independence.

    Cons: As a self-identified supporter of “art sprirituality self expression and love,” not exactly on-brand for Trump.

    Response: No response.

    Stephen Baldwin

    Who Will Serve as Donald Trump's Celebrity Vice President?
    Photo: AP

    Occupation: Minister and celebrity sibling.

    Pros: Unique insight into environmental issues as a former mission leader of a closed ecological system experiment.

    Cons: Broke as a blog. Sad!

    Response: No response.

    Dennis Rodman

    Who Will Serve as Donald Trump's Celebrity Vice President?
    Photo: AP

    Occupation: Five-time NBA champion and host of The VICE Guide to North Korean Diplomacy.

    Pros: More foreign policy experience than half the people currently running for president.

    Cons: None.

    Response: No response.

    Willie Robertson

    Who Will Serve as Donald Trump's Celebrity Vice President?
    Photo: AP

    Occupation: Duck and buck commander.

    Pros: Follicular blessings should be more than enough to offset Trump’s shortcomings.

    Cons: Could be perceived as elitist as the chosen heir to the Camo Throne.

    Response: No response.

    Ted Nugent

    Who Will Serve as Donald Trump's Celebrity Vice President?
    Photo: AP

    Occupation: Butt rocker.

    Pros: None.

    Cons: Draft dodger, kinda, sorta threatened to kill Obama.

    Response: No response.

    John Taffer

    Who Will Serve as Donald Trump's Celebrity Vice President?
    Photo: AP

    Occupation: Bar rescuer.

    Pros: Objectively the best choice for rebuilding America’s crumbling national infrastructure, having transformed hundreds of failing bars worldwide over the past 36 years.


    Vice President Taffer on congressional obstructionism: “I’VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS!! DO YOU HAVE ANY PRIDE?? THIS IS YOUR FUTURE!! UN-FUCKING-ACCEPTABLE!!”

    Vice President Taffer on the failures of the TSA: “LOOK AT THIS LINE!! YOU THINK THIS IS FUNNY?? SHUT IT DOWN!! SHUT. IT. DOWN.”

    Cons: Has praised Donald Trump as “the best candidate to fix the economy” without formally endorsing him.

    Response: No response.

    Jesse James

    Who Will Serve as Donald Trump's Celebrity Vice President?
    Photo: AP

    Occupation: Motorcycle customizer.

    Pros: Good at getting free press, like Trump!

    Cons: Penchant for playing Nazi dress-up.


    Additional reporting by Alex Pareene.

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    Popular YouTubers Revealed As Owners Of Counter-Strike Gambling Site They Promote 

    Over the holiday weekend, a whole load of dirt got thrown into the already murky waters of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling scene. Popular YouTubers Trevor ‘TmarTn’ Martin and Tom ‘ProSyndicate’ Cassell were revealed to be key staff of a skin gambling site they’ve promoted (sans overt disclosure of that fact) on multiple occasions.

    CSGO Lotto is a site where you can gamble real money in hopes of winning Counter-Strike weapon skins, the rarest of which are worth hundreds and even thousands of dollars in real world cash. If you pay a few dollars, you watch a roulette-style apparatus select who wins an item. Sites like CSGO Lotto stand to rake in a handsome sum off these transactions. A Bloomberg report from earlier this year pegged the Counter-Strike gambling scene’s value (in 2015 alone) at $2.3 billion.

    The controversy surrounding Martin, Cassell, and CSGO Lotto began when HonorTheCall posted a video in which they dug into major CSGO gambling site CSGO Lotto’s incorporation details and discovered some pretty stunning information: the site’s president is Trevor Martin, and its VP is Thomas Cassell. Despite this, Martin has posted videos like “HOW TO WIN $13,000 IN 5 MINUTES” about CSGO Lotto, while Cassell has done things like taking a $50 sum and using it to rack up hundreds of dollars on the site.

    In a lengthy video entitled “Deception, Lies, and CSGO,” h3h3Productions dug even deeper:

    In short, h3h3 was unable to find any instances of Martin or Cassell disclosing affiliation with CSGO Lotto—let alone high level operation of it. Responding to this in a video that’s since been made private, Martin claimed that, “This is something that has never been a secret.” Cassell, meanwhile, claimed (via Twitter) that, “I’ve always disclosed that my CSGO videos were sponsored & even asked a YouTube employee if anything more was needed & they said it wasn’t.” He also apologized to anyone who felt they were misled. That’s some... interesting wording, especially coming from a guy who previously found himself in hot water after failing to disclose financial ties to Dead Realm, a multiplayer horror game he promoted on his YouTube channel.

    On top of that, in an earlier video about CSGO Lotto that’s since been made private (you can see it in h3h3's video above, however), Martin said things like, “We found this new site called CSGO Lotto, so I’ll link it down in the description if you guys want to check it out. We were betting on it today and I won a pot of like $69 or something like that, so it was a pretty small pot, but it was like the coolest feeling ever. I ended up following them [CSGO Lotto] on Twitter and stuff, and they hit me up and they’re talking to me about potentially doing like a skin sponsorship.” That is, as PC Gamer points out, a pretty strange way to talk about a site you helped found.

    Martin has also claimed that CSGO Lotto videos did include disclosures, but if you run videos like “HOW TO WIN $13,000" through the ol’ Wayback Machine, it appears that a very slight disclosure—“video made possible by CSGO Lotto”—was added after the fact. Other videos, meanwhile, either lack the disclosure or have been made private.

    Popular YouTubers Revealed As Owners Of Counter-Strike Gambling Site They Promote 

    Martin has also claimed that he wasn’t in charge of CSGO Lotto when that first video was posted, that it was a “feeler” to see if partnering with the gambling site would be a worthwhile business venture. Again, however, the incorporation paperwork suggests otherwise.

    Promoting a site like this sans disclosure is, of course, illegal, per rules laid out by the Federal Trade Commission last year. It’s also tough to look at a situation like this without wondering if Martin and Cassell were being entirely honest about their earnings on CSGO Lotto. If they control it, after all, flubbing the numbers isn’t outside the realm of possibility. I should stress, however, that I am merely speculating on widely held sentiment. It has not been proven that Martin or Cassell did anything to that effect. That said, a YouTuber named PsiSyndicate (no relation to ProSyndicate) has since claimed that a different CSGO gambling site rigged their system so he could win big and post a video promoting his earnings. So, if you buy his account of events, it is a thing that can happen in CSGO’s bandit-friendly Wild West of a gambling scene.

    I reached out to both Martin and Cassell for comment. While the latter has yet to respond, the former said, “We are not making any statements at this point in time.” However, they are hoping to have something ready later today.

    Popular YouTubers Revealed As Owners Of Counter-Strike Gambling Site They Promote 

    Until then, this is decidedly not a good look for a reportedly multi-billion dollar scene that’s already facing scrutiny due to a pending lawsuit against Valve over the legality of facilitating what essentially amounts to unregulated gambling. Regulation, you’d hope, would stop something like Martin and Cassell’s shady dealings from occurring. Or at least, it’d discourage people from attempting to game the system.

    The bottom line: Valve needs to drop the hands-off approach and grab ahold of this thing asap. The Counter-Strike gambling scene might be helping funnel millions into Valve’s pockets, but they can no longer afford to stay silent about it.

    You’re reading Steamed, Kotaku’s page dedicated to all things in and around Valve’s wildly popular PC gaming service. Games, culture, community creations, criticism, guides, videos—everything. If you’ve found anything cool/awful on Steam, send us a message to let us know.

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    Guess How Many Dumpster Fires St. Louis Had Last Night
    Screencap: KMOV

    Do you live in or around the St. Louis area? And is your dumpster currently engulfed in flames? I’m not surprised. Because can you guess how many dumpster fires were put out by the St. Louis Fire Department last night? The answer is 23. Twenty-three dumpster fires.

    Thankfully, the Fire Department also took some time to record the blazing trash heap for Twitter before (presumably) putting it out.

    According to local news station KMOV there’s still “no word on how many were purposefully set.” The rest of which presumably ignited naturally in response to St. Louis’ collective sins.

    Twenty-three dumpster fires.

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    Off-Duty NYPD Cop Shoots and Kills Man During Road Rage Fight
    Image: Getty

    An off-duty NYPD officer fatally shot 37-year-old Delrawn Small Dempsey during a road rage fight in East New York just after midnight Monday, CBS reports. According to police officials, Dempsey was punching officer Wayne Isaacs through an open car window when the officer fired his service weapon.

    Dempsey and Isaacs were driving east on Atlantic Avenue when Dempsey exited his car at a red light and and approached Isaacs’ window and confronted him, police said. According to a witness and a state assemblyman who spoke with Dempsey’s family, Dempsey may have been angered because Isaacs cut him off while driving. (Dempsey is also refered to as Delrawn Small and Delrawn Smalls in various news accounts.)

    Isaacs, whose name was not initially released, was traveling home from his shift as the altercation began, the New York Daily News reports. Dempsey was driving to a party with his girlfriend, baby, and niece, his family said. Isaacs shot Dempsey twice in the torso, killing him, according to the News.

    New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced an investigation into Dempsey’s shooting, and police say they are investigating internally as well. According to DNAinfo, Isaacs has been reassigned to a nearby precinct.

    The News notes that Small/Dempsey has a rap sheet that includes an assault charge, and that Isaacs was implicated in a lawsuit for his role in an arrest in which a man was allegedly “punched, kicked and struck several times in the head and body” and called “nigger.” The city settled the lawsuit, paying out $20,000.

    NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters it was “too early... to draw conclusions” about the nature of the shooting.

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