Ambassadors from 10 countries who appealed for the release of Turkish activist Osman Kavala are to be declared "persona non grata," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.
The designation is a diplomatic term that signifies the first step before expulsion.
Erdogan did not specifically clarify whether his order meant that the diplomats — who he accused of "indecency" — would be ordered to leave the country.
"I have ordered our foreign minister to declare these 10 ambassadors as persona non grata as soon as possible," Erdogan said.
He added that: "They must leave here the day they no longer know Turkey."
The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassadors on Tuesday for what it said was an "irresponsible" statement.
The envoys had issued a rare joint document that called for a speedy resolution to the case of the jailed civil society leader.
The ambassadors concerned are the Ankara representatives of the US, Germany, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden.
Kavala, a businessman and philanthropist, has been in jail in Turkey for four years without being convicted, despite the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) calling for his release.
He has been in prison since late 2017, charged with financing the Gezi Park protests in 2013 and taking part in a failed coup in 2016, which he denies.
Kavala is known for his support of the arts and his funding of projects promoting cultural diversity and minority rights. Erdogan has accused him of being the "Turkish leg'' of billionaire US philanthropist George Soros, who the president alleges has been behind insurrections in many countries.
The ECHR stated that Kavala's rights had been violated and ordered his immediate release.
It concluded that Kavala's arrest was based on political motives, without any reasonable evidence backing the accusations. However, Turkish officials did not implement the decision and said the ECHR's judgment was not final.
On September 17, the Council of Europe issued Turkey a final warning to release the 64-year-old entrepreneur.
It warned that infringement proceedings against Ankara would start at the end of November if Kavala was not freed by then.
Russia’s boldest moves to censor the internet began in the most mundane of ways — with a series of bureaucratic emails and forms.
The messages, sent by Russia’s powerful internet regulator, demanded technical details — like traffic numbers, equipment specifications and connection speeds — from companies that provide internet and telecommunications services across the country. Then the black boxes arrived.
The telecom companies had no choice but to step aside as government-approved technicians installed the equipment alongside their own computer systems and servers. Sometimes caged behind lock and key, the new gear linked back to a command center in Moscow, giving the authorities startling new powers to block, filter and slow down websites that they did not want the Russian public to see.
The process, underway since 2019, represents the start of perhaps the world’s most ambitious digital censorship effort outside China. Under President Vladimir V. Putin, who once called the internet a “C.I.A. project” and views the web as a threat to his power, the Russian government is attempting to bring the country’s once open and freewheeling internet to heel.
The gear has been tucked inside the equipment rooms of Russia’s largest telecom and internet service providers, including Rostelecom, MTS, MegaFon and Vympelcom, a senior Russian lawmaker revealed this year. It affects the vast majority of the country’s more than 120 million wireless and home internet users, according to researchers and activists.
The world got its first glimpse of Russia’s new tools in action when Twitter was slowed to a crawl in the country this spring. It was the first time the filtering system had been put to work, researchers and activists said. Other sites have since been blocked, including several linked to the jailed opposition leader Alexei A. Navalny.
“This is something the world can copycat,” said Laura Cunningham, a former head of State Department programs on internet freedom. “Russia’s censorship model can quickly and easily be replicated by other authoritarian governments.”
Russia’s censorship technology sits between companies that provide internet access and people who are browsing the web on a phone or laptop. In a process often likened to intercepting mailed letters, the software — known as “deep packet inspection” — filters through data traveling across an internet network, slowing down websites or removing whatever it has been programmed to block.
The cutoffs threaten to upend Russia’s thriving digital life. While the political system has clung to Mr. Putin’s cult of personality, and television broadcasters and newspapers face tight restrictions, online culture has brimmed with activism, dark humor and foreign content. Broadly censoring the internet could return the country to a deeper form of isolation, akin to the Cold War era.
“I was born in the era of a super-free internet, and now I’m seeing it collapsing,” said Ksenia Ermoshina, a researcher from Russia now working at the French National Center for Scientific Research. She published a paper in April about the censorship technology.
Jake Tapper Says Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Has 'Issues' After Her Rant On Bannon Vote
CNN’s Jake Tapper came down hard on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Friday, declaring she has “real issues” and is “not tethered to reality.”
He was referring to Greene’s outburst Thursday when, as described by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), she “started screaming” at Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).
The House was voting to support the criminal contempt resolution against Donald Trump’s former White House strategist Steve Bannon after Bannon ignored a subpoena to testify before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Greene blasted fellow lawmakers for not punishing Black Lives Matter protesters and singled out Cheney by calling her a “joke.” Cheney, in turn, said Greene was a “joke” who has pushed the wild claim that Jewish-funded “space lasers” were responsible for wildfires.
“Congressman Raskin and Congresswoman Cheney are talking on the floor and, according to my sources .... Congresswoman Greene goes over to them and she starts screaming at them,” Tapper said to his CNN co-hosts.
“Look, I’m not a licensed psychologist, I don’t know her, but her behavior suggests somebody that has real issues, that is not tethered to reality or basic standards of decent behavior,” Tapper said.
He also referred to Greene’s conspiracy theory that “wealthy Jewish Americans were using laser technology to cause fires in California for some financial incentive.”
“I mean, it is a deranged anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, and yet that is somebody with whom many Republicans are siding,” Tapper added.
“Marjorie Taylor Greene and Liz Cheney really represent the two doors for the Republican Party right now. Which one does the Republican Party want to emulate?” he asked.
Greene is known for her outbursts. Last month, she yelled at a group of Democrats as they held a press conference on the steps of the Capitol about legislation to guarantee the right to an abortion. Greene loudly interjected that “unborn women” have a “right to life.”
Greene has repeatedly shouted at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Earlier this year, Ocasio-Cortez said Greene needed “help” from a “proper professional.”
Peter Doocy wants to know why the Biden administration hates Christmas.
At least, he implied as much when he presented a union rep's opinion as the framework for imposing a false choice on Jen Psaki.
"The leader of a union representing Fed Ex, UPS, and DHL is saying that supply chain problems are going to get worse with labor shortages right before the holidays unless the president postpones the requirement to get vaccinated by December 8th. What is more important to this president? The vaccine mandates, or fixing the supply chain as fast as possible?"
Why are those two things mutually exclusive? What makes that union leader the definitive authority on members quitting? Apart from police officers in Seattle, we aren't really seeing these threats to quit from employees come to pass. Finally, why can't vaccine mandates help fix the supply chain problem, rather than exacerbate it? This was the approach Psaki took.
"Well, first, I would say that that is not actually what we've seen at companies that have implemented these vaccine requirements, that are even not part of federal law, yet," Psaki began, before Doocy tried to interrupt (because why is a lady allowed to finish her sentence, amirite?) But Psaki maintained control, as usual, reassuring the fragile Doocy that he would get his turn back.
"Let me just finish. I'm gonna let you talk, don't worry about it! I'm gonna let you talk, okay?" she soothed him.
"So, American and Southwest CEOs have made clear there won't be a labor shortage. We've seen United Airlines implement this. And as we've also said, as we work to implement these federal employee requirements, the first step is not firings," she explained. "It's actually education and counseling. So we don't actually anticipate these disruptions. What we've seen for companies who have implemented these requirements is an increase from 20 to 90 percent."
Her final point was the kicker, and indisputable.
"Last thing, and then I'll let you ask your follow up, the other piece of this is that COVID is an enormous labor disruptor, not only because it's the number one cause of death in some industries, in some professions, including police forces across the country, but because people are out sick, people are worried about coming to work, this is one of the reasons that a lot of these companies have implemented these requirements."
It's tough for Fox to understand this, as their main goal, it has seemed, has been to kill off as many of its own viewers as possible from COVID, so this makes Psaki's patience and genuine effort even more heroic.
Taking another pathetic pass at the question, Doocy said, "Just so that I understand the position, then, this union leader says that the looming December 8th mandate for having fully vaccinated workforce creates a significant supply chain problem. You say, no it does not. Is that right?"
"What I would point to, Peter, is the evidence we've seen from companies, large companies, private sector companies, that have implemented these requirements across the board," she answered.
Not that evidence matters to anyone at Fox, but Psaki is determined to present it to him, regardless. And for that, we give thanks.
“Hey, Rick,” the voicemail said. “Two hundred and thirty four years ago, the founding caucasian fathers of America gave us the Second Amendment. Time's running out, Richard. We're coming after you and every motherfucker that stole this election with our Second Amendment, subpoenas be damned, you're going to be served lead, you fucking enemy enemy communist cocksucker. You will be served lead.”
This was just one of the nearly 150 voicemails that were left for Richard Barron, elections director of Georgia’s Fulton County, an area that includes Atlanta, during the week from Christmas to New Year’s Day 2021.
On December 5, former President Donald Trump singled Barron out at a rally in Valdosta, Georgia. He showed a video of Barron to the hundreds of attendees, and voiced conspiracies about voter fraud in Georgia. “So, if you just take the crime of what those Democratic workers were doing,” said Trump, “that’s ten times more than I need to win the state.” When Barron appears on the screen, the audience begins to boo.
That’s when the voicemails started coming. Many of them were graphic and specifically called for his death. “Hey, Rick,” another said. “Watching this video of you on YouTube. I can't believe you can't count votes in Fulton County. It's absolutely incredible. How deceivious? How deceitful you are? You need to get your act together or people like me really may go after people like you.”
And again: “If you have a hand in this, you deserve to go to prison, you actually deserve to hang by your goddamn skinny-ass soyboy neck.”
Barron had been working in elections around the country for more than 20 years, but he’d never seen anything like this before. It wasn’t just Barron—his entire election staff became a target. “We started receiving lots of disturbing phone calls,” Barron told VICE News. “My staff is almost exclusively African American, and they started receiving calls laced with racial slurs.”
Physical threats began as well. “We also began to see people just across the street from the warehouse where we are now,” Barron added. “They started to do surveillance on my staff, taking pictures of all of the individuals that would come in and go in and out of the warehouse, they would take pictures of their license plates.”
Months after the election, Barron continued to receive threats. His situation, unfortunately, is not unique.
VICE News spoke with over a dozen election officials who had experienced death threats and felt endangered during the 2020 election period. Officials across the United States experienced physical stalking, explicitly violent phone calls, racial slurs, home surveillance, bomb scares, and threats of mass shootings. For some officials in Georgia and Pennsylvania, the threats have continued for nearly a year. And now, many of these officials want to quit.
[T]he response to [Halyna] Hutchins’ death... has been divided by partisanship and a rather disgusting kind of celebration over Baldwin’s—a loud, staunch liberal whose portrayal of Trump on SNL has made him a lightning rod for right-wingers—grief. [Right-wing] commentators, social media personalities, and lobbyists have come out of the woodwork to pile on Baldwin without any mention of Hutchins’ tragic death.
Alt-right trolls like InfoWars’ Mike Cernovich—whose claim to fame largely consists of defending sexual abusers and pushing the Pizzagate conspiracy theory—took to the spirit. “I do believe we summon energy with our words and thoughts and it’s why I try to measure my own,” he tweeted early Friday morning, “Hollywood’s treatment of conservatives and disdain for people - that can’t be overlooked as a cause, on a spiritual level, of the Alec Baldwin incident. Hatred summons hatred.”
The poor grammar notwithstanding, a man who questions the sheer concept of date rape has no place to talk about what hatred begets. In that same line of unthinking, right-wing followers claimed that in “normal circumstances” they might “feel sorry” for Hutchins and Souza, and maybe even for Baldwin, but it’s Baldwin’s political stance that makes sympathy “hard to muster.” This attempt to grasp at the empathy that right-wingers have never shown to victims of gun violence seems, at best, intellectually dishonest and at worst, completely depraved.
It’s not just the MAGA crowd, though. Bloomberg Opinion writer Eli Lake quipped that “SNL should hire Trump to play Alec Baldwin this week,” and Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert—who proudly wields a rifle in her Twitter avatar—retweeted Baldwin who said he’d make Hands Up/Don’t shoot T-shirts. The gun lobbyist then added, “are these still available? Asking for a movie producer.” Hutchins name, again, was not even mentioned much less honored here.
The hypocrisy is so blatant. The overproliferation of firearms in this country—though touted by both political parties as a necessity—is most often championed by these very same pundits. Baldwin may have pulled the trigger but he, nor the film he’s on, is the root cause of the issue.
This idea that Hutchins’ death is some divine retribution inflicted upon Baldwin because of his politics is so deeply craven, especially because white Christian conservatives are deeply entrenched in the gun lobby. Folks like right-wing author Michael Malice (promise I’m not making that name up) posited that Baldwin, until his dying breath, “will have to hear ‘the difference between you and Donald Trump is that Donald trump never killed anyone.’”
On Trump’s last day in office it was announced that 400,000 had died as a result of Trump’s corrupt and incompetent response to the pandemic -- and who knows how many more died as a result of the recession his pandemic response caused. He killed a man by persuading him to take hydroxychloroquine. He killed untold numbers with drone strikes. Trump never killed anyone? LOL.
Right-wingers are not human beings and we need to stop treating them as such. The only good ones are dead ones.
On Thursday afternoon, a cinematographer named Halyna Hutchins was killed on the New Mexico set of a film called Rust when a prop gun loaded with blanks and discharged by the actor Alec Baldwin misfired. On Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported that, just hours before the accident, a number of camera crew workers walked off the set, citing mistreatment and poor working conditions. One person told the Times that the gun had misfired three times in the days before the accident and that there had been a “serious lack of safety meetings.”
It’s still not fully clear what exactly happened on the Rust set. The union that represents prop masters said the shot that killed Hutchins was “a live single round,” which—according to the Times—means any material loaded into a gun, including a blank. To get a sense of how something like this could happen on a movie set, how the pressures of the industry create dangerous situations, and why real guns are used at all, Slate spoke with Mitch Thompson, a prop master who has been working in props for the past decade and who most recently worked as the prop master for an upcoming action series from Snapchat. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Slate: Have you worked much with guns?
Thompson: I’ve worked with plastic replicas, airsoft blowback guns, that kind of thing. Nothing that was ever actually a functioning gun. That’s just not something I’m interested or comfortable in handling myself. But there are many other ways of faking a gun.
What are the options for faking a real gun?
A lot of times we’ll use airsoft guns. If somebody is firing on screen, not only do you want the muzzle flash, which can be added in post-production by VFX, but you also want to see the action of the slide blowing back every time the trigger is pulled. A lot of airsoft guns will have that action, and they look real. So that’s a safer alternative.
There is also a company called Independent Studio Services here in Los Angeles that have what they call non-guns, which basically are an electronic version. They’re made to look just like a real gun, and they have the blowback feature, but there is no combustion to them. And then there are times when somebody is walking around with a gun in a holster when we will use a rubber stunt gun or a solid piece that’s literally just like a hunk of plastic.
What kind of regulation and training do you have to have in order to be able to deal with prop guns?
If it’s a union show, there are safety classes. For non-union shows, when you’re starting out, it’s just kind of whoever, wherever. In theory, the production designer or the producer or whoever’s hiring will hopefully vet that you’re somebody who seems trustworthy. But the safety on set really comes down to the prop master and the first [assistant director]. If I was going to use actual guns firing blanks, then I would need to be a licensed armorer. There are safety classes that you have to take, and you have to have a license. But to use non-guns or airsoft guns is kind of the Wild West, so I never got weapons training or anything.
If there are fake guns that look realistic, why would anyone want to use a real one?
Some of it is like institutional inertia. Before there were airsoft rifles and prop stunt guns, all you had was blank firing guns, so I’m sure there is a certain degree of inertia there.
And some of it is just striving for realism, I imagine. It’s always a better idea to have the prop look as realistic as possible. And to my knowledge, that’s also the only way you would get a shell ejected as you’re firing. So this is looking for verisimilitude, I suppose. There are ways to augment fake guns to make them look like they’re behaving like a real gun, but that also costs time and money. You have to pay VFX to go through and find every instance of a gun being fired and put in the time and work to make that look right. But it’s not a hard thing to do. Even lower budget films will often add a muzzle flash to a fake gun.
The biggest argument that people might have is how much of a recoil there is, because that is something where you can tell the difference between someone firing an airsoft pistol and someone firing a desert eagle with a full blank load. You can select how much gunpowder is in each individual blank to get the right effect, so technically that is the biggest reason. That is a harder effect to replicate with fake guns.
The ride-hailing app Lyft received more than 4,000 reports of sexual assaults during rides from 2017 to 2019, the company revealed in a new report, including 1,800 reports in 2019 alone.
Lyft revealed the numbers on Thursday, after having pledged in 2019 to do so. In its report, the company said the number of sexual assault reports collected through its app had risen from 1,096 in 2017 to 1,255 in 2018 and 1,807 in 2019.
More than half of the incidents in 2019 were reported as “non-consensual touching of a sexual body part”, according to the report. Another 156 reports involved non-consensual sexual penetration, according to the report. It also listed 10 fatal assaults from 2017 through 2019, including four in 2019.
Lyft released the figures nearly two years after its rival Uber put out a similar report that showed more than 3,000 sexual assaults were reported on rides within the US in 2018.
Ride-hailing companies have come under increasing scrutiny over safety issues, especially sexual assaults, with victims and members of Congress putting increased pressure on the platforms to act.
Alison Turkos, a New York City resident who has sued Lyft, alleging her driver sexually assaulted her in 2017, said on Friday that the report came after years of pressure from herself and other survivors.
“Rideshare sexual assault is a systemic problem and one Lyft actively chooses to ignore,” she said on Twitter. “It is exhausting holding a billion-dollar tech company accountable but I will never back down. We deserve better.”
In a class action lawsuit in 2018, nine women accused Uber of attempting to silence their reports of sexual assault by forcing them to individually settle their cases through arbitration, a private process that often results in confidentiality agreements. Uber was fined $59m by a California regulator in 2020 for failing to comply with a request for data on sexual assault incidents in its vehicles.
Lyft was sued by more than a dozen women in 2019 who alleged the company had failed to enact basic safety measures that would have prevented the alleged assaults. The women also said the company downplayed the seriousness of the attacks when they were reported
Progressives are gaining traction in a bid to preserve housing funding in Democrats’ $2 trillion social spending package, after negotiators earlier floated plans to slash the aid by two-thirds.
Democratic lawmakers and White House officials on Friday were considering devoting between $150 billion and $175 billion of the bill to housing, according to three sources familiar with the discussions. While it would be a major cut from the $327 billion that was initially proposed, it’s up from the $100 billion level that was on the table earlier this week.
The number ticked up in the last few days after House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) vowed to fight any “deep cuts” to housing money, which she had envisioned would support public housing repairs, rental assistance and down payment aid. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had breakfast with President Joe Biden on Friday, has pressed the White House to go along with additional housing funds, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Pelosi’s office declined to comment, but an aide said she had consistently pushed for the highest possible sum for housing priorities.
The White House as of Friday was refusing to go above $150 billion for housing, according to two people familiar with the talks. A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
The housing funding is just one of many areas of deep tension among Democrats as they try to scale back what was once a $3.5 trillion bill, after moderates including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) balked at the spending. Democrats are rushing to clinch a deal so that they can put the legislation on the House floor next week.
Biden during a White House meeting with lawmakers Tuesday discussed slashing the $327 billion in housing proposals to $100 billion, sparking resistance from progressives who had fought for the aid. Congressional leaders then asked Waters’ committee on Wednesday to begin drafting policies totaling $150 billion, as housing advocates and industry lobbyists pushed for the top line to go higher still.
The situation remains fluid, according to Capitol Hill aides who cautioned that no numbers would be set in stone until the entire framework was finalized.
Progressives are feeling emboldened after President Biden backed "fundamentally" changing the filibuster, adding a jolt of momentum into the entrenched Senate stalemate.
Biden's comments, made during a CNN town hall, come after weeks of activists and liberal lawmakers feeling frustrated that Biden wasn't leaning into the fight against the Senate rule, which is a major roadblock for many of his administration's priorities.
The remarks don't automatically change the math problem — Democrats don't have 50 votes for changes to filibuster right now — but they are the latest sign of growing pressure on Senate Democrats to reform the rule.
“We think this is a huge step forward and obviously a game changer,” Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for Fix Our Senate, told The Hill. “It would be a big disappointment if he made those comments at a town hall and didn’t follow up on them. I think the expectation and hope is that he follows up with significant pressure, public and private.”
Ezra Levin, a co-executive director of Indivisible, said Biden’s comments “builds up pressure for there to be some sort of come-to-Jesus moment after reconciliation.”
“He all but said, 'I will be pushing key holdouts,'” Levin added.
Biden has long appeared wary of nuking the rules of the Senate, where he served for decades. That’s frustrated progressives, who worry that without nixing, or at least significantly changing, the filibuster, which necessitates 60 votes for most legislation, much of the party's agenda is dead on arrival in the chamber.
Republicans, for example, blocked a revised election reform bill this week and are poised to block a voting rights bill named after the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) when it comes to the floor as soon as next week. Bipartisan talks on issues including police reform, immigration reform and expanded background checks have also unraveled as Democrats have struggled to come up with a deal that could get at least the 10 GOP votes needed to break a filibuster.
Around the time then-President Donald Trump's administration launched the $6 billion Farmers to Families Food Box Program in April of 2020, Trump's daughter and senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump lauded the initiative as a victory for small American farmers and those families struggling with hunger in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We were very excited to be able to fight for the American farmer and rancher, which is so in the heart of this president," Ivanka Trump told Gray Television during a visit to a Maryland produce wholesaler.
Now a new congressional investigation has found the program was plagued by mismanagement and funneled tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to unqualified firms with little oversight or follow-up, all while Trump's team touted the program's supposed benefits in support of his reelection campaign.
The 63-page report from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, released last week, explores in detail how the program doled out federal contracts to firms despite clear "red flags," failed to identify firms' fraudulent documents and possible instances of self-dealing, and implemented parts of the initiative that were "motivated solely by electoral considerations, with no evident programmatic purpose."
"The significant mismanagement of the Food Box Program illuminated by this report is yet another example of the previous Administration's failure to meet the needs of the American people as the coronavirus spread across the country," subcommittee chair Jim Clyburn (D-SC) said in a statement announcing the report's findings. "As we work to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and prepare for future emergencies, we must heed this report's lessons to prevent more instances of fraud and abuse and ensure that future relief efforts are more effective, efficient, and equitable..."
The initiative was first announced as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, a $19 billion federal relief effort for farmers, ranchers, and other Americans struggling to respond to the impact of the pandemic on the U.S. food supply. The idea was to connect small food producers and distributors with nonprofit and religious organizations to help them bring their products directly to consumers, as many of distributors' traditional clients, like restaurants and hotels, had closed, and millions of out-of-work families were struggling with hunger.
Barely a month after the announcement, however, the investigative outlet ProPublica revealed that several of the contractors tapped to implement the food box program lacked relevant experience or did not hold licenses to deal in fresh fruits and vegetables. The subcommittee started its investigation later that summer, partially in response to that reporting.
The new report confirms many of the allegations raised by the press at the time and uncovers some new ones. The investigation flagged three companies in particular that received multimillion-dollar contracts despite little or no experience in food distribution.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas took his seat on the far end of the bench in 1991 feeling -- he once said -- "beat up" by the workload. A bitter confirmation battle marked by allegations of sexual harassment by Anita Hill was over, but liberals still lamented the fact that a 43-year-old conservative would take the place of retired civil rights icon Justice Thurgood Marshall.
Flash forward to 2021 and the most momentous term in recent history. The justices are poised to decide a major abortion case as well as broaden gun rights in a dispute out of New York.
Thomas, now 73, sits next to Chief Justice John Roberts in a chair reserved, in this instance, not only for the longest-serving member of the court, but for a Justice who finds himself at the center of a conservative judicial movement, lauded for 30 years' worth of writing that has become, for some, currency for the future.
Since 2017, three new colleagues, perhaps swayed in their views by Thomas' many opinions, have joined the bench. And Thomas, taking advantage of a revised oral argument format, has broken his historic silence and has launched the first question at every oral argument so far this term.
Meanwhile, he has amassed more than 100 former clerks, and some of these faithful followers have gone on to serve in the highest level of government and the judiciary. He started a tradition of taking his law clerks -- who he refers to as his "kids" -- to the Gettysburg battlefields at the end of each term to remind them of the nation's past.
Thomas -- to steal a word from the Gen Z culture -- is now an influencer.
At an event Thursday night, hosted by The Heritage Foundation to celebrate his legacy, Thomas addressed a crowd of the conservative faithful, referencing his more difficult days, and thanking those who had helped him.
He said it was "an absolute joy" to be able to "celebrate this moment, not because of me, but because of you all and what we are trying to defend in this great country."
He was introduced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, who called Thomas a "legal titan."
Democrats are once again on track to miss a self-imposed deadline to reach a deal on President Joe Biden's sweeping social safety net plan by the end of the week, as progressive Democrats confront the reality that many of their top priorities are going to be scrapped in a last-minute round of negotiation.
Talks now are almost squarely focused on whether the White House can win over key moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, leaving little room for liberals to exert influence on the process.
Progressives flexed their muscles and forced party leaders to delay a House vote last month on a bipartisan infrastructure bill as they insisted the social spending bill not be left behind. But they are now facing the limits of their power and a hard choice: Revolt against a bill that is significantly watered down from their initial goals or accept what may be the only compromise they can get in the narrowly divided Congress.
Democratic leaders have been pushing for a deal this week in the hopes of holding a vote in the House on both the social safety net package and a separate $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill next week, but major sticking points remain, making it an uphill battle for the party to meet their goal.
Key elements of the plan are still up in the air -- including how it will be paid for, whether an expansion of Medicare will be included, and how to deal with climate change and prescription drug pricing -- as Democrats scramble to come up with a workable compromise. They are now actively exploring a new tax on billionaires to help finance the package.
The proposal, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, would affect about 700 taxpayers -- people who have had more than $1 billion in assets or more than $100 million income for three straight years. It is expected to raise hundreds of billions of dollars.
The person added that there would be new rules to prevent efforts to avoid paying the taxes.
Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, who is a champion of the plan, said that it would be a "big mistake" not to levy the tax against the richest Americans.
"In a package that's supposed to be about giving everybody a shot to get ahead, it would be a big mistake, from both a policy and political perspective, not to ask billionaires to pay a fair share," Wyden said in a statement Friday. "The Billionaires Income Tax is about fairness and showing the American people taxes aren't mandatory for them and optional for the wealthiest people in the country. No working person in this country thinks it's right that billionaires can pay no taxes for years on end, and sometimes never at all."
Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died during the filming of “Rust” on Thursday after actor and producer Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the New Mexico set.
Authorities in New Mexico are investigating the incident, which also injured the movie’s director, Joel Souza. The International Cinematographers’ Guild, of which Hutchins was a member, called for “a full investigation into this tragic event.”
Hutchins was also a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the guild representing many movie and television crew members. On Friday, a representative for IATSE Local 44, which represents prop masters, told HuffPost that none of its members were involved in the incident. A representative for IATSE Local 480, which represents the film’s New Mexico crew members, declined to comment.
The Los Angeles Times reported that hours before the fatal incident on Thursday, some members of the camera crew — all of whom are part of IATSE — had walked off the set, protesting unsafe working conditions. Hutchins, who did not join them, had tried to advocate for better conditions, according to the report.
One source told the LA Times that production executives then replaced the staff with nonunion workers.
“Corners were being cut — and they brought in nonunion people so they could continue shooting,” the source said.
These kinds of tragedies are rare, because prop guns and other weapons in movies and television are subject to extensive safety procedures and trainings, developed and administered by experts. But the source told the LA Times that the prop gun had misfired multiple times in recent days and there were “a serious lack of safety meetings on this set.”
The Rookie EP Bans 'Live' Weapons From Set in Wake of Halyna Hutchins Tragedy: 'Any Risk Is Too Much Risk'
Effective immediately, no “live” weapons will be used on the set of ABC’s The Rookie, showrunner Alexi Hawley announced in a staff memo on Friday, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“As of today, it is now policy on The Rookie that all gunfire on set will be Air Soft guns with CG muzzle flashes added in post,” the memo reads. “There will be no more ‘live’ weapons on the show. The safety our cast and crew is too important. Any risk is too much risk.”
Prop Gun That Killed Cinematographer on Alec Baldwin Film Contained ‘Live Single Round,’ Union Claims
The prop gun that killed “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza on during an on-set accident on Thursday contained a “live single round,” according to an email sent by IATSE Local 44 to its membership.
Affidavit says assistant director indicated he gave Alec Baldwin a ‘cold’ gun that was safe.
The assistant director of the western film “Rust” grabbed a prop pistol from a gray cart and handed it to the movie’s star, Alec Baldwin, shouting “cold gun!” — which was supposed to indicate that it did not contain any live rounds, and was safe to handle around the crew huddled by the camera.
But the weapon fired when Mr. Baldwin pulled the trigger a few minutes later, discharging a live projectile that hit the director, Joel Souza, in the shoulder and struck the director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, in the chest, killing her.