The Latest: Agents drop Roseanne after tweet that ended show
Tuesday, May 29
NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the cancellation of “Roseanne” (all times local):
Roseanne Barr has now been dropped by her agents over the racist tweet that led to the cancellation of her TV show.
ICM Partners said in a statement Tuesday that Barr’s tweet was “disgraceful,” ”unacceptable” and “antithetical to our core values.”
The company says it has ended its relationship with Barr “effective immediately.”
ABC announced earlier Tuesday that the rebooted “Roseanne” sitcom was canceled after the tweet that referred to former Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett as a product of the Muslim Brotherhood and the “Planet of the Apes.”
“Roseanne” executive producer and co-show-runner Bruce Helford said he was “personally horrified and saddened” by Barr’s comments, and they don’t reflect the values of the people who worked incredibly hard to create an amazing show.
Disney chairman and CEO Robert Iger says canceling “Roseanne” was an easy decision.
After sharing the statement Tuesday from Disney-owned ABC on the show’s cancellation over a racist tweet from Roseanne Barr, Iger tweeted, “There was only one thing to do here and that was the right thing.”
Iger’s statement came just a few minutes after ABC President Channing Dungey announced the rebooted sitcom was canceled in a statement calling Barr’s tweets “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.”
Others approving of the move included Georgia Congressman John Lewis. The civil rights leader tweeted thanks to ABC, saying the network did the right thing.
Barr apologized for her tweet before ABC announced its cancellation of her show.
More reaction from celebrities, activists and those affiliated with the show can be found here .
ABC has canceled its hit reboot of “Roseanne” following Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.
ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey says the comment “is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel the show.”
The “Roseanne” revival this spring was an unexpected major hit for ABC. It was particularly popular among many conservative viewers because Barr’s character expressed support for President Donald Trump.
Barr’s tweet suggested that Jarrett is a product of the Muslim brotherhood and the “Planet of the Apes.”
She later apologized “for making a bad joke.”
Roseanne Barr has apologized for suggesting that former White House adviser Valerie Jarrett is a product of the Muslim Brotherhood and the “Planet of the Apes.”
Barr on Tuesday tweeted to Jarrett that she was sorry “for making a bad joke” about her politics and her looks. Jarrett, who is African-American, advised Barack and Michelle Obama.
Barr’s now-deleted tweet read: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”
Meanwhile, comic Wanda Sykes, who is a consulting producer on “Roseanne,” tweeted that she would not be returning to the show.
On this Memorial Day, I want to share remarks made by Obama and Trump. Regardless how you feel about these two men, you tell me – which one gave a heartfelt commentary about those who sacrificed their lives for our country, and which one made it all about himself…
Obama: “We can never truly repay the debt we owe our fallen heroes. But we can remember them, honor their sacrifice, and affirm in our own lives those enduring ideals of justice, equality, and opportunity for which generations of Americans have given that last full measure of devotion.”
Trump: “Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!”
GOP Congressman Tom Garrett will resign amid servant scandal, alcoholism.
“DeVos Demands Taxpayer Money For Religious Schools.” So much for separation of church and state a founding principal of Democracy.
Taking Children from Their Parents Is a Form of State Terror
By Masha Gessen
May 9, 2018
The New Yorker
When my kids were fifteen and twelve, we lived through a period during which the Russian government was threatening to take children away from queer parents, and, specifically, threatening to go after my kids. I sent my son, who is adopted, to boarding school in the United States while the rest of us got ready to emigrate. My biological daughter was less at risk, perhaps even at no risk, and yet the question of whether social services would come knocking sent me into a panic.
One day, about a month and a half before we left Moscow, as I was about to go on a short book trip, my daughter asked what would happen if social services came while I was away. “Will you go crazy?” she asked. I reassured her that a small army of lawyers, activists, and embassy officials stood at the ready and would protect her.
“I know I’ll survive,” she responded dismissively. “I mean, Will you go crazy? Will you lose your mind?”
A twelve-year-old was asking me if I had the mental capacity to survive having my child taken hostage. It was the right question.
Hostage-taking is an instrument of terror. Capturing family members, especially children, is a tried-and-true instrument of totalitarian terror. Memoirs of Stalinist terror are full of stories of strong men and women disintegrating when their loved ones are threatened: this is the moment when a person will confess to anything. The single most searing literary document of Stalinist terror is “Requiem,” a cycle of poems written by Anna Akhmatova while her son, Lev Gumilev, was in prison. But, in the official Soviet imagination, it was the Nazis who tortured adults by torturing children. In “Seventeen Moments of Spring,” a fantastically popular miniseries about a Soviet spy in Nazi Germany, a German officer carries a newborn out into the cold of winter in an effort to compel a confession out of his mother, who is forced to listen to her baby cry.
Last weekend, independent Russian-language media published hundreds of photographs from protests that preceded Monday’s inauguration of Vladimir Putin, who has claimed the office of President for the fourth time. In many of the pictures, Russian police were detaining children: primarily, preteen boys were having their arms twisted behind their backs by police, being dragged and shoved into paddy wagons. According to OVDInfo, a Web site that has been tracking arrests since anti-Putin protests began, six and a half years ago, a hundred and fifty-eight minors were detained by police during the protests, accounting for just less than ten per cent of the day’s arrests.
Ella Paneyakh, a Russian sociologist who studies law-enforcement practices, observed in a Facebook post that the police had clearly been directed to target children. A possible explanation, she suggested, is that social services, which will process the minors, is even less accountable than the regular courts are. While Russian activists have learned to make the work of the courts difficult, filing appeals and regularly going all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, there is no role for defense attorneys and no apparent appeals process in the social-services system. The threat is clear: children who have been detained at protests may be removed from their families. At least one parent has already been charged with negligence as a result of his son’s detention at one of the demonstrations last weekend.
Another possible explanation is that Putin and the system he has created have consistently, if not necessarily with conscious intent, restored key mechanisms of Soviet control. The spectacle of children being arrested sends a stronger message than any amount of police violence against adults could do. The threat that children might be removed from their families is likely to compel parents to keep their kids at home next time—and to stay home themselves.
A few hours after Putin took his fourth oath of office, in Moscow, Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed a law-enforcement conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. He pledged to separate families that are detained crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you,” Sessions said. The Attorney General did not appear to be unveiling a new policy so much as amplifying a practice that has been adopted by the Trump Administration, which has been separating parents who are in immigration detention from their children. The Times reported in December that the federal government was considering a policy of separating families in order to discourage asylum seekers from entering. By that time, nonprofit groups were already raising the alarm about the practice, which they said had affected a number of families. In March, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the hundreds of families that had been separated when they entered the country with the intention of seeking asylum.
The practice, and Sessions’s speech, are explicitly intended as messages to parents who may consider seeking asylum in the United States. The American government has unleashed terror on immigrants, and in doing so has naturally reached for the most effective tools.
Masha Gessen, a staff writer, has written several books, including, most recently, “The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia,” which won the National Book Award in 2017.
Depth Of Russian Politician’s Cultivation Of NRA Ties Revealed
March 1, 2018
Heard on Morning Edition
Russian politician Alexander Torshin, standing next to then-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, attends a ceremony at the Kremlin in 2011. Torshin is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and says he met Donald Trump through the group in 2015.
A prominent Kremlin-linked Russian politician has methodically cultivated ties with leaders of the National Rifle Association and documented efforts in real time over six years to leverage those connections and gain deeper access into American politics, NPR has learned.
Russian politician Alexander Torshin said his ties to the NRA provided him access to Donald Trump — and the opportunity to serve as a foreign election observer in the United States during the 2012 election.
Torshin is a prolific Twitter user, logging nearly 150,000 tweets, mostly in Russian, since his account was created in 2011. Previously obscured by language and sheer volume of tweets, Torshin has written numerous times about his connections with the NRA, of which he is a known paid lifetime member. NPR has translated a selection of those posts that document Torshin’s relationship to the group.
These revelations come amid news that the FBI is investigating whether Torshin, the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia, illegally funneled money to the NRA to assist the Trump campaign in 2016, McClatchy reported in January.
In a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a member of the Senate intelligence committee, the NRA denied any wrongdoing and suggested the FBI is investigating Torshin, not the NRA. Neither the NRA nor Torshin responded to inquiries from NPR.
Investigations by Congress and the Department of Justice have revealed that the Russian government has sought to sharpen political divisions among American citizens by amplifying controversial social issues. Investigators have expressed concern about Russian links to the NRA, one of the most politically polarizing organizations in the U.S.
Torshin is a former Russian senator and served as the deputy speaker of Russia’s parliament for more than a decade. Known as a Putin ally, he also spent time on Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee, a state body that includes the director of Russia’s internal security service and the ministers of defense, interior and foreign affairs.
Translation of November 2016 tweet: “For 15 years, I’ve traveled to the U.S. with official delegations, and more often — privately. In this time, I NEVER HEARD ONE BAD WORD ABOUT RUSSIA!”
Torshin’s use of NRA connections to open doors, and his 2015 claim to know Trump through the organization, raise new questions about the group’s connections with Russian officials — at a time when the organization is being roundly criticized by its opponents, and at times the president himself, for opposition to gun control.
The president has also defended the group in recent days as the gun debate has re-emerged following a Florida school shooting, including a tweet calling the group’s leaders “Great American Patriots.”
The NRA has been a key part of Trump’s conservative base. After a meeting with lawmakers in which Trump angered many conservatives for entertaining proposals for gun control, the president tweeted that he had another meeting with NRA leaders in the Oval Office on Thursday night.
On his verified Twitter account, Torshin talked about how he knew Trump through the NRA, citing a connection at the group’s 2015 convention. Responding to a tweet about comedian Larry David accusing Trump of being a racist, Torshin said he knew the businessman through the NRA, and he defended him.
Translation of November 2015 tweet: “A comedian should make people laugh! Right? So he is trying! I know D. Trump (through NRA). A decent person.”
“I saw him in Nashville” in April 2015, Torshin added later, the date and site of the NRA’s 2015 convention. Trump gave a speech at that convention, the outlines of which would become familiar as his stump speech throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. The White House did not respond to repeated requests for comment by NPR but in 2017 denied to Bloomberg News that Trump has ever met Torshin.
Among his tens of thousands of tweets, Torshin also documented his attendance at every NRA convention between 2012 and 2016, only some of which have been previously reported.
Torshin’s attendance at the NRA convention in 2016 is where he reportedly met with Donald Trump Jr.
Torshin had made repeated attempts to meet with Donald Trump himself at that convention during the presidential election year, but there is no evidence of this occurring. A conservative activist with ties to Torshin aide Maria Butina reached out to the Trump campaign in 2016, saying that Russia was “quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S.” and would try to use the NRA convention to make “first contact,” the New York Times reported.
“Putin is deadly serious about building a good relationship with Mr. Trump,” the activist, Paul Erickson, wrote. “He wants to extend an invitation to Mr. Trump to visit him in the Kremlin before the election.” Erickson has business ties to Butina, having started an LLC with her in South Dakota.
Torshin has used his repeated trips to NRA conventions to cultivate relationships with top NRA officials. And his Twitter account documents that he has personally met with every person who has been president of the NRA since 2012.
On Twitter, Torshin portrayed these meetings as more than merely casual encounters. In 2017, he tweeted that he was bringing a gift to then-NRA President Allan Cors and suggested he was familiar with Cors’ hobbies.
Translation of January 2017 tweet: “Bought a gift for NRA President Allan Cors. Tanks are his favorite topic!”
Cors is the founder of the Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles, according to its website.
In a public Dropbox album that Torshin linked to from his Twitter account, he is seen meeting with former NRA President Jim Porter as well as another former NRA president, David Keene.
His tweets suggest a longtime relationship with Keene, who repeatedly appears in photos as Torshin documents his visits, suggesting that their meeting was not merely coincidental. Keene did not respond to a request for comment.
Torshin has also met the current president of the NRA, Pete Brownell, who was part of an NRA delegation that visited Moscow in 2015.
These relationships that he cultivated appeared to open another door. Torshin came to the United States in 2012 as an international election observer and watched as ballots were cast during the Obama-Romney presidential contest in Tennessee. This was possible, he wrote, because of his NRA links.
Translation of January 2015 tweet: “I was there at Obama’s last election! The NRA card, to me as an observer from Russia, opened access to any [polling] station.”
“Tennessee resident Kline Preston requested Mr. Torshin to be an international observer in November 2012,” Adam Ghassemi, a spokesman for the Tennessee secretary of state, told NPR. The Washington Post reported last year that Preston, a Tennessee lawyer, was the one who originally introduced Torshin to Keene back in 2011.
The heat is on the Russian politician, who was alleged by Spanish police to have directed financial transactions for the Russian mob. Not only is the FBI reportedly investigating him — the bureau declined to comment for this story — but lawmakers involved in congressional investigations have also expressed interest in Torshin.
Both the Senate and House intelligence committees are currently engaged in investigations into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee and a member of the Senate intelligence committee, has demanded that the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network hand over documents related to Torshin and the NRA.
“The NRA and its related entities do not accept funds from foreign persons or entities in connection with United States elections,” NRA General Counsel John Frazer wrote in response to a request from Wyden to turn over documents related to transactions between the NRA and Russian citizens. “NRA political decisions are made by NRA officers and executive staff, all of whom are United States citizens. No foreign nationals are consulted in any way on these decisions.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, told NPR this week that the committee’s members have asked relevant witnesses about the NRA through the course of their investigation.
“I can’t go into what we’ve been able to learn thus far on that issue. I can tell you it’s one of deep concern to me and to other members of the committee, that we get to the bottom of these allegations that the Russians may have sought to funnel money through the NRA,” Schiff said. “It would be negligent of us not to investigate.”
Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of research firm Fusion GPS, alluded to Torshin and the NRA during his closed-door testimony before the House intelligence committee in November.
“It appears the Russians, you know, infiltrated the NRA. And there is more than one explanation for why,” Simpson told lawmakers. “But I would say broadly speaking, it appears that the Russian operation was designed to infiltrate conservative organizations. And they targeted various conservative organizations, religious and otherwise, and they seem to have made a very concerted effort to get in with the NRA.”
Not only are congressional investigators interested in the NRA’s relationship with Russia, but this inquiry comes as the NRA is receiving additional pressure from groups hoping to pass more gun restrictions into law and as dozens of American companies have cut ties with the organization in response to the Parkland, Fla., shooting last month.
“These revelations suggest that for years the NRA courted a top Putin ally who is now reportedly attracting scrutiny from the FBI,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, told NPR. “NRA leaders still haven’t explained their close relationship with Russian officials in Putin’s orbit. Until they do, people will continue to wonder what the NRA is hiding.”
NPR’s Alina Selyukh and Audrey McNamara contributed to this story.
Trump Has 15 Million Fake Twitter Followers
By Brendan Cole On 5/22/18
He often denounces “fake news” but it appears that on Twitter, President Donald Trump has a lot of fake followers.
A survey has shown that of the tweeter-in-chief’s more than 52 million followers, over a quarter are not real people.
Some 29 percent, or around 15 million, are fake accounts, according to a survey by Gallup, and his following of real people is closer to 37 million.
By comparison, Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama has 15 percent fake users among his 103 million followers.
While Trump has boasted that social media allows him to get an “honest and unfiltered message out,” only 8 percent of Americans read his tweets directly from Twitter.
In fact, the mainstream media he criticizes as “FAKE MSM” are the most effective in disseminating his messages, with 76 percent of people hearing about his tweets via other news outlets.
The study also showed that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to pay attention to his tweets. Only five percent of Democrats follow the president, but nearly two-thirds of them take notice of his musings.
In contrast, 15 percent of Republicans follow him and only around half pay attention to his posts.
The survey carried out this month of 2,806 people has a margin of error of 3 percentage points. It concludes that Trump’s tweets reach the public because mainstream news outlets simply repackage them.
“In some ways, then, Twitter functions for Trump much like an old-fashioned press release or press conference statement. Few Americans see or read his tweets directly, but many ultimately hear about them via media coverage or other means,” Gallup said.
Trump once said that posting on Twitter is like owning your own newspaper but “without the losses.” However, it has emerged that his artless style on the social media platform could be intentional, with the help of staff.
West Wing insiders who draft proposed tweets said they deliberately use suspect grammar and syntax to mimic their boss’s style, The Atlantic reported.
If a White House employee wants Trump to tweet about a topic, the official will send three or four sample tweets to the president, who will pick his favorite. They may use poor grammar, but they would not misspell words or names on purpose.
“Tweets that are proposed are in his voice. You want to do it in a way that fits his style,” an insider told the publication.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU