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Leonardo DiCaprio refutes Brazilian president's claim that he funded Amazon wildfires

LOS ANGELES - Leonardo DiCaprio has refuted bizarre and false claims from Brazil's right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro that the actor financed the wildfires in the Amazon, playing into a ploy by the World Wildlife Fund to generate donations.

DiCaprio posted a statement on Instagram Saturday that "while worthy of support, we did not fund the organizations targeted."

"This Leonardo DiCaprio is a cool guy, right?" Bolsonaro said, according to Reuters, during a brief remarks in front of the presidential residence on Friday. "Giving money to torch the Amazon."

Reuters reported that Bolsonaro appeared to be commenting on disputed social media posts that WWF had paid for photographs taken by volunteer firefighters and used them to solicit donations, including $500,000 from DiCaprio. The claim is the latest in an effort by Bolsonaro to divert blame for the disastrous fires from his government, which scaled back enforcement against illegal logging, mining, and ranching.


The Day That Decided the 2020 Election

It was, they say, Nov. 20, 2019, that ensured the outcome — a day and a night that crystallized the choice for the majority of Americans ready to toss Donald Trump from office.

The impeachment hearings had been bumping along, the main story clear: a parade of impeccable public servants trying to uphold the values of their country against a gangster White House. A candidate who had gloated over chants of “lock her up” for an opponent who had used unsecured emails had, once elected, conducted foreign policy by extortion, on open cellphone lines penetrated by the Russians.

That crucial debate came while the race was still in flux. But a trio of elections the same month had given Democrats a road map. They could win in deeply red Kentucky and Louisiana, and complete the political transition in Virginia, if they backed popular plans to elevate average Americans. That, and Trump’s policies of trying to deny health care to the poor, of running up a trillion-dollar deficit to enrich a handful at the very top, of turning a blind eye to mass shootings of schoolchildren, would take down Republicans.

Sanity prevailed. Most Democrats came to see that it would do nothing for their cause to gain another million progressives on the coasts if they still lost 80,000 people in the old industrial heartland. The key, as extolled by the eventual winner, was to rebuild the Obama coalition.


Provenance Hotels Faces Backlash Over Founder's Role in Trump-Ukraine Deal

Portland, Oregon-based Provenance Hotels is mired in a public relations mess due to the role its founder and current EU U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland had in trying to broker a deal with Ukraine in exchange for a potentially damaging investigation against former Vice President Joe Biden. Since President Donald Trump canceled Sondland’s appearance before a Congressional impeachment committee on October 8, calls for a boycott of the boutique chain have gained steam.

Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, whose district includes a large swath of Portland, called for the boycott of Provenance’s properties on Twitter the next day.

“No one who cares about America should do any business or stay at any of Gordon Sondland’s hotels until he fulfills his duty as a citizen to testify & turn over all relevant documents to the House,” he tweeted.
Blumenauer’s statement may already be having an effect. Since the tweet appeared, artisanal ice cream maker Salt and Straw, also based in Portland, announced that it would cease selling its products in Provenance Hotels but did not cite a specific reason for the decision.


25-year-old politician shuts down heckler with viral phrase 'OK Boomer'

The latest viral generational clap back phrase has moved from the court of public opinion to parliament.

A young member of New Zealand parliament quickly dismissed a member of the opposition with a viral internet phrase that calls out people from the baby boomer generation with two simple words.

The generational divide in the room became clear when Chlöe Swarbrick, 25, said "OK Boomer," during her speech on climate change for the Zero Carbon Bill."

In the year 2050 I will be 56 years old. Yet right now the average age of this 52nd Parliament is 49 years old," Swarbrick said as someone off camera was heard heckling her.


Residents' health suffers in states that refused to expand Medicaid.

HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. — Darlene Velasco can’t afford to treat her Type 2 diabetes. She doesn’t make enough money at her job selling college sports memorabilia to pay for medication or private health insurance and, at $13.50 an hour, earns too much to qualify for Medicaid.

That’s been the case for years and without treatment, Velasco, 45, was declared legally blindin May. The disease built up cataracts in her eyes and when her vision began to blur and disappear, she found herself driving to her job that carries no health benefits steered only by the memory of the backcountry roads that surround her home.

In the state that has the highest percentage of its residents with past-due medical debt in the country, it appears that many people choose to go without, according to a study done by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation.

More than half in Mississippi said the cost of health care led them to not fill a prescription, avoid the doctor or skip a medical test, according to the study.


WaPo: Mike Pence is reliably, relentlessly wrong

The Post's View

By Editorial Board 

THE MORE undisciplined President Trump becomes in his scattershot defenses of his behavior toward Ukraine, the more robotically Vice President Pence seems to stay on message. Unfortunately, that message is an indefensible falsehood. During a television interview Monday with PBS’s Judy Woodruff, Mr. Pence said three times that anyone who reads the rough transcript of Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “will see the president did nothing wrong. There is no quid pro quo.”

The interview left us with the sense that Mr. Pence himself has not carefully read the document. As we pointed out in an editorial on Sept. 25, the day it was released, the transcript ends with a clear exchange of commitments between the U.S. and Ukrainian presidents. Mr. Zelensky promises to launch the investigations Mr. Trump had just requested of Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee; Mr. Trump responds by offering the invitation to the White House Mr. Zelensky was seeking.

More to the point, Mr. Pence appears determined to ignore the sworn testimony of senior officials who have since confirmed the quid pro quo that the White House claims doesn’t exist. The latest was National Security Council official Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, who told Congresson Tuesday that he attended a July 10 meeting with a senior Ukrainian official at which an ambassador appointed by Mr. Trump, Gordon Sondland, “started to speak about Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with the president.”

Mr. Pence dismissed all this evidence on the grounds that it was “leaks” from secret hearings; never mind that most of the officials released their own opening statements. He criticized House Democrats for failing to hold a formal vote on impeachment proceedings and for not releasing the transcripts of testimony, even though they have announced they will do both. He seemed to believe that by mindlessly repeating the words “no quid pro quo” he could disappear the increasingly powerful case that Mr. Trump abused his office.


The fundamentally un-American attacks on Alexander Vindman

A documentary crew working for Ken Burns was exploring New York in the early 1980s, working on a feature about the Statue of Liberty as part of Burns’s “America” series. Near Brighton Beach, they found an elderly woman sitting on a bench with twin boys, then about 10 years old.

They'd come from Russia, from Kyiv, the twins told the camera, their explanations overlapping. “Our mother died, so we went to Italy,” one added, “and then we came here."
The twins, Alexander and Yevgeny Vindman, both ended up working for the White House under President Trump. Both Vindmans served in the U.S. Army, and both rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Each now works for the National Security Council.
The reaction to Vindman, though, reveals a fundamental hypocrisy in the Trumpian approach to immigrants. What Trump prioritizes in migrants who come to the United States is self-sufficiency and assimilation. He prefers migrants from Europe over Africa or the Middle East. What he wants is Alexander Vindmans — until Alexander Vindman points out where the loyalties of Trump himself might be questionable.


Katie Hill messed up, but she should not have resigned

The Antelope Valley freshman Democrat has been charged with no crime, is going through what appears to be a miserable divorce, has always been frank about her bisexuality, had a relationship with a member of her campaign staff, but has denied an accusation that she had an affair with a male congressional staffer when she got to Washington, D.C., earlier this year. She is now the subject of a House ethics probe.
If indeed she had a sexual relationship with a staffer in her congressional office, that should have earned a slap on the wrist for the 32-year-old Democrat. To show how seriously Congress takes that sort of thing, it wasn’t even until last year that the House changed its rules to prohibit relationships between members and their employees. For decades, male lawmakers got away with those sort of shenanigans. Wouldn’t you know it, the first one to fall afoul of the rule is a woman, and a bisexual woman, at that.
Someone released intimate photos of her that were published by the Daily Mail and the conservative website Red State, which has pursued this story with Kenneth Starr-like glee.
There’s one more thing: Her husband, Kenneth Heslep, who says in divorce papers that he’s a stay-at-home spouse, has asked for alimony. Good luck getting it, buddy, now that her career has imploded.


Black high school security guard fired after telling student not to call him the n-word

When a disruptive student called him the n-word multiple times, Wisconsin high school security assistant Marlon Anderson repeated the epithet while condemning its use. For that, Anderson said, he lost his job.

Days after the exchange between the security guard and the student, both of whom are black, the Madison School District told Anderson he was being dismissed. Officials pointed to a zero-tolerance policy on employee use of racial slurs, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The firing sparked outrage inside West High School and far outside it. As students staged a walkout to protest the decision, former U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan blasted it as “more evidence our country still can’t handle issues of race and racism.” Amid the backlash came a conversation about the effectiveness of a district policy that forbids the use of offensive language, no matter the context.

Anderson, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, said many students have used the n-word against him in his 11 years with the district, and he has always explained its history and meaning. He’s determined to get his job back.


Fighting continues on Turkey-Syria border despite U.S.-led cease-fire

Source: NBC News

CEYLANPINAR, Turkey — Gunfire, grenades and mortars could be heard in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain on Friday despite a cease-fire drawn up by the United States and agreed Thursday night.

The agreement announced by Vice President Mike Pence in Ankara requires Turkey to suspend its military operations in northeast Syria for five days to allow Kurdish forces to retreat from a designated safe zone.

NBC News staff could both see and hear mortars, grenades, machine-gun and rifle fire in Ras al-Ain — although it remains unclear who was responsible.

Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — allies of the U.S. during the fight against ISIS — claimed on Friday that Turkish forces were not slowing down their assault.

Read more: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/fighting-continues-turkey-syria-border-despite-u-s-led-cease-n1068516

No, Trump, you're not getting a Peace Prize.
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