Media, Hollywood paint Virginia rally as ‘extremist’ & violent despite its uneventful nature

Talking heads in the media and Hollywood tried to paint the pro-Second Amendment supporters in Richmond, Virginia as racist or potentially violent, creating a much gloomier image than the one that transpired in reality.

Folks walking around the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond with semi-automatic weapons strapped over their shoulders had anti-gun activists up in arms and concerned, but the pro-Second Amendment protest — which was against new anti-gun measures proposed by Governor Ralph Northam — ended up being quite peaceful.

‘Westworld’ actor Jeffrey Wright was similarly bothered by the gun-wielding protesters. He tweeted that the protest was “gun circle jerk” and said it had a “Klan-like rally smell” to it. This is despite the fact that plenty of videos and pictures showed minorities protesting for gun rights too.

“This is what’s happening in Virginia right now. Trump’s America,” Democrat activist and ‘Charmed’ actress Alyssa Milano tweeted in response to a video of protesters showing up, sporting rifles and tactical gear.

“This is NOT what the founders had in mind when writing the 2nd [Amendment]. THIS IS NOT MY AMERICA!” filmmaker Morgan J. Freeman wrote about the same video.

Mainstream media outlets got serious pushback from supporters of the rally and rally attendees for their coverage of the day’s events. 

MSNBC correspondent Gabe Gutierrez found himself in hot water when he tweeted a video of a large group of protesters saying the pledge of allegiance and captioned the video with: “Chants of ‘we will not comply’ from gun rights protesters in Richmond.”

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Armed militia members stand with people dressed in American revolution-era attire at a rally near Virginia's Capitol © Reuters / Jonathan Drake
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Since the audio in the video did not match what Gutierrez was saying, commentators like Ben Shapiro and Dana Loesch immediately descended on the man.

“We all have ears, dude. That’s not what they’re chanting,” Shapiro tweeted.

Hours after his original post, Gutierrez posted the actual video of protesters chanting, “we will not comply.” This video was of a much smaller group and its delayed posting led to more criticism.

“This should have been first with the proper context. I see no problem with law-abiding Americans peacefully assembling, as is their right, stating that they will not comply with unlawful orders that rob them of constitutionally protected rights,” Loesch wrote in response to the new video.

Gutierrez later found himself heckled while he was reporting on camera from the rally. One person interrupted his broadcast by saying, “Piece of s**t … F**k you!”

MSNBC, Huffington Post and other outlets promoted the idea that thousands of “extremists” and “white nationalists” would descend on Virginia in support of gun rights, the coverage ended up being a far cry from the predicted doom.

MSNBC reporter Ben Collins deleted a tweet where he called the rally a “white nationalist rally.”

CNN said ahead of the rally that the FBI was working with law enforcement to prepare for “threats of violence.” They later had to report that the event ended “peacefully.”

One video even showed protesters cleaning up after themselves as the rally came to a close.

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Multiple rockets hit Baghdad’s Green Zone, trigger sirens at US embassy

A number of rockets have exploded near Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the US Embassy and other foreign diplomatic facilities.

At least two explosions went off in the vicinity of the Green Zone on Monday, AFP reported, citing security sources, though it remains unclear whether the blasts resulted in any casualties.

Video footage circulating on social media appeared to show an area near the complex, where emergency sirens could be heard blaring.

The attack comes on the heels of a series of similar incidents in recent weeks, with another rocket salvo fired near Camp Taji – a US coalition base north of Baghdad – last Tuesday, wounding at least one Iraqi soldier. Days prior, eight Katyusha rockets hit the Al-Balad air base, another facility housing US troops, injuring four Iraqi personnel. No group has taken responsibility for the attacks.

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FILE PHOTO: US and Iraqi troops at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad. © Reuters / Thaier al-Sudani
Rockets reported fired at Taji military base in Iraq that hosts US-led coalition troops

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France’s controversial bioethics bill reaches senate amid continuing outcry

France’s bioethics reform reaches the Senate floor on Tuesday, three months after lower-house lawmakers passed the controversial legislation. The bill, which has been considerably amended by senators in committee, could yet change, with the lesbian couples and single women poised to gain legal access to medically assisted reproduction potentially seeing social security coverage for the procedure withdrawn.

 

Trump’s legal team releases impeachment trial memo, calls process a ‘charade’

Donald Trump’s legal team has released an official response to the charges of impeachment against the president, calling the process a “charade” and an “affront to the Constitution.”

Trump has been charged with abuse of office and obstruction of Congress, with his impeachment trial slated to begin in the Senate on Tuesday. Though Trump has lambasted the impeachment drive against him since an inquiry was initially opened by Democrats in September, his legal team released a 110-page rebuttal of the charges on Monday.

“The Articles of Impeachment now before the Senate are an affront to the Constitution and to our democratic institutions,” the memo begins. “The Articles themselves — and the rigged process that brought them here — are a brazenly political act by House Democrats that must be rejected.”

Trial Memorandum of Preside… by RT America on Scribd

The memo goes on to claim that the charges against Trump fall short of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” the Constitution requires to trigger impeachment, and warn that a trial leading to Trump’s removal from the White House would “permanently weaken the presidency and forever alter the balance of the branches of government.”

Trump’s legal team will rehash the arguments in the memo when the Senate trial begins on Tuesday.

Earlier on Monday, House Democrats refuted the White House’s claim on Saturday that the articles of impeachment are “constitutionally invalid,” calling the assertion “dead wrong” and “chilling.”

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Nancy Pelosi, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders © Reuters / Joshua Roberts, Carlos Barria, and Brian Snyder
‘Rigging election again’: Trump says impeachment all a ploy to… shaft Bernie Sanders

The impeachment drive against Trump centers on allegations that he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into opening a corruption investigation into Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, using military aid to Kiev as leverage. The impeachment inquiry began after an intelligence community whistleblower drew attention to a July phone call between Trump and Zelensky, in which the president supposedly arranged a “quid pro quo” deal with his Ukrainian counterpart.

Trump and Zelensky deny any pressure campaign, and Trump released a transcript that he said shows the call was “perfect.”

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Political pawn or guilty as charged? Extradition trial of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou gets underway in Vancouver

A Canadian court is set to hear a much-anticipated case at the centre of the tech and trade war between the US and China, as Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou will fight a US extradition request based on charges her team say have no merit.

Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 at the bidding of the United States, just as tensions were mounting between Washington and Beijing over trade tariffs imposed by the Trump administration. US authorities accused her of defrauding financial institutions and lying in an attempt to circumvent US sanctions impeding other countries’ abilities to do business with Iran.

The Huawei executive — who was forced to surrender her passports, abide by a curfew and wear a GPS tracker — has been living under house arrest in Vancouver since she was released on a $10-million bail. Formal hearings begin on Monday and are expected to continue until Thursday, though this is only phase one in what is expected to be a long and drawn out extradition trial. With so many moving parts to the case and potential for multiple appeals, it could still take months or even years for it to really come to an end.

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©CBSA via Reuters
Video of Huawei executive’s arrest in Canada released as extradition hearings draw closer

Decisions this week will hang on the Canadian law principle, necessary for extradition, of ‘double criminality’. That essentially means the crime the person is accused of by the country requesting extradition must also be a crime in Canada. 

Meng’s team has argued that, since the sanctions she is accused of violating are not Canadian sanctions, the ‘double criminality’ standard does not apply. The prosecution insists, however, that the case is primarily about the alleged fraud, not sanctions. Meng has accused US and Canadian authorities of unlawful detainment, searches and interrogations. If her attorneys can convince the court that the standard for ‘double criminality’ is not met, she could be released from house arrest.

Critics of Canada’s handling of the case — including the father of jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — have framed it as just another example of the US abusing the legal systems of foreign countries to target their geopolitical enemies. 

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© Reuters / Chris Wattie
Trudeau does Trump’s dirty work, bites off more China dragon than he can chew

Indeed, Meng’s case would seem to fit that profile. While US authorities have framed her arrest and charges as being simply about Iran sanctions and fraud, to consider this case as purely about business with Tehran would be to ignore the US government’s massive pressure campaign against Huawei itself, which has been playing out in tandem to the wider US-China tariff and trade war. Washington has urged the rest of the world to shun Huawei and its 5G technology, which it claims is a threat to national security and will be used for spying — accusations China has denied.

Meng’s case also places Canada in a tricky position. While it will not want to irk its powerful next-door neighbor, Ottawa will also be concerned for Canadian citizens who were arrested in China on spy charges — seen by many as a tit-for-tat retaliation by Beijing following Meng’s detainment.

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Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to attend a case management conference in advance of her extradition hearing at BC Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, January 17, 2020. © Reuters / Jennifer Gauthier
Beijing calls on Canada to ‘correct mistake’, release Huawei executive Meng

Canada is now faced with two unappealing options: anger China by caving to Washington’s demands and extradite Meng over charges which look suspiciously political; or anger the US by keeping her in Canada and trying to work out an exchange deal with Beijing that would see its own citizens brought home.

Multiple former Canadian government officials have come out in support of the prisoner swap option in recent weeks. In an article for the Globe and Mail, Eddie Goldenberg — a chief of staff to former PM Jean Chrétien — accused the US of painting Canada into a corner. He argued that Trudeau’s government must understand that China regards Meng as “a hostage that Canada is holding” for Donald Trump, and that Beijing will never release the Canadian prisoners unless Meng is returned. Former deputy PM John Manley has also advocated a prisoner exchange.

Adding weight to the argument that Meng is being used as a political pawn is the fact that Donald Trump himself publicly suggested he would intervene in the case if it helped him secure a good trade deal with China.

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‘Charges will be brought’: Lazio demand fans pay for racist behavior

Lazio have issued a three-game ban and letters demanding a total of €50,000 ($55,000) in damages from fans found to have made fascist salutes which earned the club a partial stadium ban in the Europa League this season.

UEFA closed a section of the Stadio Olimpico when Lazio hosted Celtic in the Europa League and fined the club €20,000 ($22,000) after supporters were seen making far right gestures during the 2-1 win over French side Rennes on October 3.

Lazio refused to condemn racist chanting when they were handed a suspended stadium ban for racist behavior during a Coppa Italia match last season, but club president Claudio Lotito has taken a harder line by pinpointing the culprits and seeking payback this time.

READ MORE: Raul Bravo says reports of order to kill Darko Kovacevic are ‘like a movie on Netflix or Amazon Prime’

Accusing the recipients of inflicting “serious economic damage,” Lotito wrote: “As only the fans identified are responsible for the damage to the club, we invite you to contact us so that you can agree a method of payment to reimburse Lazio.

“From the footage taken by UEFA and the consequent police investigation, it emerged that you are responsible for the sanctionable behavior and charges will be brought against you. In the meantime, we inform you that the club has suspended your access to the Stadio Olimpico for the next three games.”

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Lotito added that the actions violated the code fans agree to when they buy a ticket and explained that the compensation sum had been calculated based on lost ticket sales and revenue.

While some online critics have applauded the move, others have questioned whether a three-match suspension represents sufficient punishment and suggested that Lotito could pursue legal action should the fans refuse to pay.

Racist incidents have blighted matches across Europe this season, including at Lazio’s rivals, Inter Milan, where striker Romelu Lukaku was among those to speak out after receiving abuse during matches.

READ MORE: ‘How did he manage that!?’ Man United star Sergio Romero miraculously unhurt after car smash on way to training

In the Premier League, play was stopped at Tottenham following an alleged incident of racist abuse directed at Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger on December 22.

Lazio lost 2-1 to Celtic while observing the closure and failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition after finishing third in their group.

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Astronomer snapped ‘potentially hazardous’ asteroid headed for Earth in incredible PHOTO

Astrophysicist and astronomer Dr Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy was gazing at the stars on January 17 when he managed to capture an incredible image – an inbound asteroid.

As Masi was surveying the sky in the early morning hours of Friday, asteroid 2020 AN3 came into view. The scientist managed to capture this incredible photo of the asteroid – just one of thousands of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) that could one day strike Earth – as it was approximately 1.9 million miles (3.1 million km) from our planet.

While appearing as a mere dot in the image, the asteroid is actually estimated to measure between 754.6ft and 1,673ft in diameter. The single, 180-second exposure captures the space rock as it moves toward Earth, with the length of the exposure causing all the stars in the background to appear as streaks across the sky. 

“The telescope tracked the apparent motion of the asteroid,” Masi said of his incredible image.

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Illustration: © urikyo33 from Pixabay
NASA asteroid warning: Not one but TWO huge space rocks to hurtle past Earth today

The space rock was tracked by NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) and features on the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Risk List, but was only discovered a few days before its close Earth approach by the Catalina Sky Survey.

It’s one of a whopping 88 new NEOs which have been spotted so far this year.

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A classic double KO! Thai fighters sent to floor after landing the same punch at the same time (VIDEO)

From Tyson Fury uppercutting himself in the face to Conor McGregor finishing off his opponents within seconds, few novelties are as unique to ringcraft as the double knockdowns that occasionally send both fighters to the canvas.

A pair of Muay Thai mavericks caught each other with concurrent hooks as they marched to the center of the ring at a contest in Thailand over the weekend.

The fighters had grappled briefly before each advanced with menace and successfully sent their opponent to the floor.

READ MORE: ‘He’s picking up his teeth’ NHL player Paul Stastny drips blood after taking puck to mouth in gruesome injury

Neither knockdown artist was beaten by the blow they received, although it is unclear whether they lasted the required ten count to renew hostilities.

After a brief breather, the fighters returned to their feet and made their way back toward different corners of the ring.

An orange-shirted referee in tracksuit trousers stepped in between them while they recovered and then appeared to deem the rivals ready to return to action.

Wearing red shorts in front of an amazed crowd, one of the combatants can be seen stumbling groggily back toward the ropes, having used them to climb off the deck.

The comedic clip was taken by a tourist and has entertained viewers worldwide after spreading quickly across social media.

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© YouTube / SerEbro EnlosDeportes
‘Double KO!’ Boxers simultaneously exchange punches, hit canvas at the same time (VIDEO)

‘Hot mess’: New York Times eviscerated for dual endorsement of Warren/Klobuchar

New York Times editor Mara Gay said the paper’s Sunday night dual endorsement of Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar is meant to point out that there’s two ways forward for anti-Trump voters, but neither side is buying it.

“This is really our way of narrowing that field, and also just pointing out to voters there is more than one pathway forward here,” Gay told Morning Joe on Monday, saying Warren and Klobuchar present the best “two paths” to beat US President Donald Trump.

Conservatives have mocked the dual endorsement for being motivated by identity politics — Warren and Klobuchar are two of the last three women running for the nomination from the Democrat Party — while potential Democrat voters have slammed the New York Times for being incapable of picking one candidate.

“BREAKING: The New York Times picks both the Chiefs and the 49ers to win the Super Bowl,” conservative commentator and podcaster Ben Shapiro tweeted in response to its dual 2020 endorsement. The mocking tone was echoed by many in reaction to the paper’s editorial board not only being unable to make a clear endorsement.

“The @nytimes now with twice the wokeness,” joked ‘Justified’ actor and ‘Gosnell’ director Nick Searcy.

Conservative podcaster and Townhall columnist Derek Hunter theorized the addition of Klobuchar in the Times’ endorsement decision was simply a reluctance to throw their full weight behind the controversial Warren. 

“Their heart is with Warren, but they want to continue pretending to not be a left-wing rag, so they tossed in Klobuchar knowing she doesn’t stand a chance,” Hunter tweeted.

One of the most surprising aspects of a dual endorsement of Klobuchar/Warren is that the two candidates are quite different policy-wise. Klobuchar has attempted to sell herself as more of a moderate liberal, while Warren has embraced drastic policies like Medicare for All and higher tax rates on top earners. 

“On one hand, the hot mess of the #nytimesendorsement is trivial as this may not change a single vote. On the other hand, we may look at this as THE moment it was clear the opposition to Trump lost its mind and couldn’t get its act together,” Philadelphia Inquirer opinion columnist Will Bunch tweeted.

“That Warren and Klobuchar have little in common policy wise tells you the #nytimesendorsement wasn’t at all about issues and only about identity politics,” added user @CacccioppoliMike. 

In a viral clip from the interview of the Times’ editorial board with candidate Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator suggested “maybe” the New York Times, along with the “political establishment” has failed millions of Americans who now call themselves Trump supporters.

“Maybe this ‘fresh out of f**ks’ answer explains why Bernie didn’t win the #nytimesendorsement,” YouTuber and commentator Tim Black tweeted.

Actor Adam Baldwin suggested “it’s over” for Sanders after his spat with the Times.

This is the first time in the history of the New York Times that they have endorsed two candidates at the same time. 

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