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Trump demands respect for the national anthemthen forgets the lyrics

Ahead of the biggest game in college football on Monday night, President Donald Trump tweeted to demand respect for the national anthem. A few hours later, he appeared to forget how to sing it.

Trump’s tweet included a video of himself speaking in defense of farmers, the American flag, and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“We want our flag respected – and we want our NATIONAL ANTHEM respected also!” Trump wrote, no doubt referring to athletes’ national anthem protests against police brutality.

Just hours after tweeting, Trump showed up at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta for the national championship game between the University of Georgia and the University of Alabama.

Not only was he booed on the way in, but Trump also appeared to botch the lyrics to the national anthem. He hardly moved his mouth to the second line of the song. (It goes like this: “What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming.”) 

Trump didn’t appear to know many of the words to the anthem at all. At some points, he stopped even pretending to sing.

People on Twitter pointed out the irony of Trump forgetting the words to the national anthem after so adamantly demanding respect for it.

Writer and Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King called Trump not knowing the national anthem a “disgrace.”

“All of that hate he has spewed toward Black folk about taking a knee and the man doesn’t know the words,” King wrote.

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Youre Benedict Arnold! Do You Have What It Takes To Betray The Colonies?

You’re this guy.

Do you have anything to say for yourself?

That’s right! You’re this guy and you’re also Benedict Arnold. You shoot a gun and ride a horse for America during the First Annual Revolutionary War. Your peers respect you, all of the Founding Fathers say things like “Now that’s one good adult” when your name gets mentioned, and you’ve never committed the crime of treason. You’ve got it all.

But that’s about to change.

You see, yesterday was a very big day for you. You saw this advertisement for treason and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. You even had a dream where you wrote “TREASON = GOOD, CLEAN TREASON” in some beach sand, and upon waking up, a taste that can only be described as smooth, sandy treason was in your mouth.

Yep. You’ve got a full-blown desire to commit treason up in your brain, and it’s not going away. The wheels of history have begun to turn, and they’re making the noise that means history is going to happen soon.

Over the course of your life, there have been four major events that planted the seeds of treason in your brain. Imagine that the advertisement for treason you saw yesterday was water, and the four seeds of treason are four treason seeds. When you dump water on four seeds, a flower blooms—and in this case, it’s a Treason Flower.

Simply put, there’s a Treason Flower in your body right now, and it’s impossible to rip out no matter how strong or powerful your hands are.

Would you like a refresher as to the four treason seeds of your life?

The first treason seed arrived in your skull when you got chased home from school by this patriotic husband and wife duo every day for eight years.

Okay! How would you like to respond to Great Britain’s advertisement for treason?

Seventeen seventy-three. The Boston Tea Party. Your second treason seed came in 1773 during the Boston Tea Party.

You were there dressed as an Indian and were so into it that you asked people to call you “The Indian Version Of Benedict Arnold.” Unfortunately, someone thought you said “I’m tea, from England” and threw you into Boston Harbor by mistake.

The harbor was cold and full of bugs, many of which you had to swallow to survive. If the Boston Tea Party had never happened, this almost certainly would have been avoided.

The third treason seed occurred during the Battle of Saratoga, when you saw the American soldiers spending most of their time making a cannon do this. They still won the battle, but it marked the first time that you thought maybe the Continental Army deserves to get beaten very badly.

The fourth and final seed of treason was lodged in your body two fortnights ago—the equivalent of four American weeks. You were in your tent having a nightmare about how great 21st-century medicine will be, when all of a sudden you were awoken by a shadow. It was a rogue bugle boy’s shadow, and after a few minutes of standing still, he lifted his bugle and blasted a song. When he finally finished 45 minutes later, he croaked, “That was ‘Treachery’s Jaunt (The Remix Of The Rogue Bugle Boy),’ and oh, it is now your favorite song, Benedict Arnold.”

Whoa, for sure.

So that’s how it happened. You got chased by two people in love, and then you got thrown into the Boston Harbor, and then some troops convinced a cannon to scream “21,” and then a rogue bugle boy told you that your favorite song was “Treachery’s Jaunt (The Remix Of The Rogue Bugle Boy).” When you saw the advertisement yesterday, you were totally powerless, and now you want nothing more than to become the most hated person in American history.

Okay! How would you like to respond to Great Britain’s advertisement for treason?

Great! It’s the 18th century, so one of the only forms of communication is the Communication Bell. By ringing the Bell in such a way that it tells the country of Great Britain you’re a tiny American male who wants to commit the crime of treason, you have let Great Britain know that you are a tiny American male interested in committing the crime of treason.

All you’ve got to do now is receive an acceptance letter and you’ll be on your way!

Ouch. That’s rough. How do you want to go about getting an acceptance letter?

Great! You are now one step closer to betraying your country, and that’s something you want to do.

You tell the army that you’re taking the day off from shooting your gun and riding your horse, and swim out to King George III’s royal houseboat. It’s located 15 miles off the New Jersey coast, and you have to take constant breaks and swallow hundreds of bugs to stay alive, but eventually, you finally make it, and it feels fine.

The only thing under King George III’s houseboat is his previous houseboat, which sunk after he bought a bowling ball.

There he is, the man and king himself. It’s none other than King George III, a guy who makes George Washington and his friends shoot their guns, sitting on a throne.

“Aha! Hello, and welcome to my oceanic castle!” King George III says into his microphone. “I hate that the colonies are mad at me, and I am worried that they would not care if today was my birthday! If today was my birthday, the colonies would probably say something like ‘Who gives a shit?’ or ‘The hell with that nonsense!’ How terrible! B16!”

Oh wow. The king seems pretty upset. Say something to cheer him up.

“That’s incredible news! When I look at you right now, I realize that you MUST be Benedict Arnold, and Benedict Arnold is the man who’s going to be committing the crime of treason against America for Great Britain. Currently, Great Britain is known as the country that is going to have the Beatles, but we also want to be known as the country that wins the First Annual Revolutionary War. Oh, this makes me feel good. So, do you have any ideas for committing treason against your home country of America?”

Looks like that cheered him up! Anyway, what sort of treasonous plan is currently making itself known to you in your brain?

“That soda can thing sounds like an amazing idea for treason!” says King George III. “My wife, the queen—isn’t that an amazing idea for treason?”

“That battle thing sounds like an amazing idea for treason!” says King George III. “My wife, the queen—isn’t that an amazing idea for treason?”

“That hole thing sounds like an amazing idea for treason!” says King George III. “My wife, the queen—isn’t that an amazing idea for treason?”

“That Ben Franklin thing sounds like an amazing idea for treason!” says King George III. “My wife, the queen—isn’t that an amazing idea for treason?”

“That animal thing sounds like a pretty poor idea for treason!” says King George III. “My wife, the queen—isn’t that a pretty poor idea for treason?”

“Hello!” screams the queen. “Honestly, that idea for treason seems fine! B16!”

Incredible. The royal marital duo loves your idea for treason, and now it’s time to go through with it.

There’s nothing America currently loves more than the Declaration of Independence. It’s the document that really gets people going, and the most popular hobby nationwide is reading the Declaration to a crowd of thousands and receiving a standing ovation.

Were the Declaration to be stolen and crushed on your Benedict Arnold’s head like a soda can, surely it would be an act of treason unlike any seen in America’s little, small, and tiny history.

The Declaration of Independence currently lives in Philadelphia at The House Where All The Founding Fathers Live Together. The House Where All The Founding Fathers Live Together is, simply put, the place where all the guys are. Even people like Alexander Hamilton are there.

So, what mode of transportation would you like to use to get to Philadelphia and commit a truly incredible amount of treason?

Here you are. The House Where All The Founding Fathers Live Together.

It’s late, so they should all be sleeping soundly in the same big bed. Looks like the only way to enter without making a ruckus is to sneak in through the pool, so yeah—you’re going to have to get a little wet.

“Benedict Arnold!” you shout as you dive in.

The pool is cold. Now, you famously don’t mind the cold (Thomason, Paul. “Benedict Arnold And His Feelings On The Cold.” Tungsten Publishing, 1982.), so that’s not too big a deal. But equally famously, you don’t know how to swim very well (Thomason, Bertram. “Benedict Arnold And How He Swam.” Tungsten Publishing, 1984). That means it’s going to take you a little while before you reach the door on the other side of the pool—that is, if you make it at all.

Oh, wow. You really have no idea how to swim. You’re flailing and splashing and screaming, and you have to hope that if anyone was awake, they would’ve come out to save you by now.

This is terrible to watch. You’ve tucked your legs into your stomach like you’re doing a cannonball, except for some reason you think that this is how you’re supposed to swim. It’s a miracle you haven’t drowned yet, now or at any other point in your life.

You are forced to eat some bugs just to stay alive.

These two have every right to laugh at you.

You made it! To the pool door! It took 45 minutes for you to get here, and you spent pretty much all of those minutes on the verge of drowning, but all that is in the past! You’ve got a Declaration of Independence to steal and crush on your head like a soda can.

Oh, goddamn it.

“A mighty hello to our very close friend Benedict Arnold!” shout all the Founding Fathers at once. “You are soaking wet with pool water, and what an incredible treat it is to see you in our home we all share together!”

“We heard you scream your own name as you jumped in the pool!” they all shout at once. “In the big bed we all share together, we looked at each other in excitement, and then we all jumped out of the big bed we all share together and ran to the window and pressed our historic faces up against the glass at the same time to see if it really was you, our friend, and it was you, our friend! You are such a good patriot, and an even better friend.”

It’s going to be tough to steal the Declaration of Independence with these guys awake, but you have to do it. They’re currently nodding at each other in agreement over what they just said, so use this time to slink away and poke around.

On this October night, there’s no sign of the Declaration of Independence in the Founders’ living room.

Doesn’t look like there’s a Declaration of Independence to steal here in the kitchen.

Looks like the Declaration of Independence had to be taken out of the Declaration of Independence room so the janitor could practice mopping up one cup of coffee.

It’s gotta be around here somewhere.

There it is! Looks like one of the dopier Founding Fathers left it behind. What an exciting blunder that will potentially change the course of American history for good!


“Yes! Benedict Arnold, one of my closest and dearest friends from America! I’m so glad I caught you!” says George Washington, the man who is your boss when you shoot your gun and ride your horse. “I was at my other house with my wife named Martha, but as soon as I heard that you were here, I just had to come by! Say, is that the Declaration of Independence you’re holding and taking with you?”

“Oh, of course it’s the Declaration of Independence that you’re holding and taking from the house I share with the other Founding Fathers!” shouts George. “Nothing says ‘I love the new country of America’ quite like holding the document that made the country come into existence. What an incredible show of patriotism from one incredible patriot! Benedict Arnold, you are a good friend, and also, hey, keep up the great work being my employee in the army.”

Get the hell out of there.

When it’s finally morning, you walk to the center of Philadelphia, clutching the Declaration tightly against your tiny stomach. People naturally begin to crowd around you because of who you are and what you’re clutching, and eventually there is a crowd of thousands, ready to watch what they assume is another classic patriotic act from an American hero.

“Benedict Arnold is definitely one of my closest friends!” shouts Thomas Jefferson. “He is holding the Declaration of Independence the way anyone who loves America would!”

“When I think about Benedict Arnold, a smile where I reveal a few dozen of my teeth shows up on my face!” yells Samuel Adams.

“Benedict Arnold is the mailman, and his mail is never being deceitful!” screams Paul Revere.

“I am going to crush this on my forehead,” you say. “I am going to crush the Declaration of Independence on my forehead like a soda can.”

You stare at the ground for a couple of minutes, and then roll the Declaration up into a tight scroll, holding it parallel to your forehead.

You crush the Declaration of Independence on your forehead like a soda can, and the crowd goes absolutely insane.

“He’s making the Declaration of Independence get really close to his brain, and that’s patriotic!” shouts a man who had an apple for breakfast.

“This inspires me and someone else to make the Constitution in, like, 10 years or so!” shout James Madison and Alexander Hamilton at the sam

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Popular Pet Food Trend Could Be Poisoning You And Your Animals

The well-intentioned (and often expensive) act of feeding your pets raw meat may actually be putting everyone’s health at risk, according to research from veterinary scientists at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

The team found a troubling prevalence of harmful bacteria and parasites in eight major brands of frozen raw meat-based diet (RMBDs) products for cats and dogs after performing microbiological analysis on 35 samples. To reduce the possibility that storage location impacted the results, the RMBD products were purchased from shops in 14 different areas around Utrecht. The findings are published in the journal Veterinary Record

Varying species of Escherichia coli bacteria were present in 86 percent of samples, and 80 percent contained a type known to be resistant to several antibiotic drugs commonly given to animals and humans. Moreover, eight products from three different brands contained a strain called E. coli O157:H7, a dangerous pathogen that often causes outbreaks of food-borne illnesses in humans. The bacterium produces a powerful toxin that can cause hemorrhagic colitis (meaning hellacious, bloody diarrhea) and may even lead to kidney failure in children and the elderly.

Cultured E. coli bacteria. Wiki Commons

Across all 35 samples, the total content of all E. coli bacteria, measured in clumps of cells called colony-forming units, failed to meet the hygiene threshold required for a food product to be labeled as “acceptable for human consumption”. Fortunately for your furry companions, O157:H7 rarely makes animals sick, their bodies simply become short-term carriers of the bacteria until it is excreted in their poop. And although you are unlikely to eat your pet’s dinner, the authors note in their paper that very low doses of E. coli O157:H7 (perhaps as little as one bacterial colony) can cause disease in humans. This means that pet owners may be at risk of contracting a serious infection indirectly.

“This can be through direct contact with the food; through contact with a contaminated pet, such as sharing the same bed and allowing licking of the face and hands; through contact with household surfaces; or by ingesting cross-contaminated human food,” the paper states. “Cross-contamination may occur after preparing RMBDs or cleaning infected food bowls on the kitchen sink.”

The frozen meals also contained Listeria (43 percent of samples) and Salmonella species (20 percent), two big names in human food poisoning

While Listeria is often benign in cats and dogs, Salmonella poisoning can cause serious disease with symptoms similar to those experienced by people. Just like E. coli, these microbes can get passed to you simply from handling the products or cleaning up after your pet.

Moving on from bacteria, two types of parasites were identified in the RMBDs: Sarcocystis species (11 percent) and Toxoplasma gondii (6 percent). The former rarely causes noticeable disease in pets and humans, whereas the latter travels into the mammalian brain and has been linked to changes in behavior and even schizophrenia

Thousands of Toxoplasma parasites (stained red) are enveloped in a cyst within mouse brain tissue. Wiki Commons

If you purchase frozen raw pet food, the low storage temperatures will inactivate most parasites, but some RMBD enthusiasts opt for fresher options. The paper cautions that “this study does show that if raw pet food is purchased fresh and prepared at home without freezing, there is a potential risk of parasitic infections in pet animals, which can result in shedding of oocysts in the environment, thereby leading to potential additional exposure to human beings.”

Despite being a small study that focused on only a handful of RMBD brands, the findings are in line with microbiological studies of raw meat performed in other countries, suggesting most if not all raw pet food harbors hitchhiking pathogens.

“Feeding raw meat to pets has been practised all over the world as shown by the several reports from Australia, the USA, Canada and Europe. This means that this issue is of global importance,” conclude the the authors.

And if you’re thinking that the benefits to your pets might outweigh the risk, the authors deliver further bad news: The health claims touted on product packaging or ads are merely marketing, and not based on published research

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Six in court on terror group charges

Image copyright Various
Image caption (Clockwise from top left) Five of the defendants: Adam Thomas, Darren Fletcher, Joel Wilmore, Nathan Pryke and Claudia Patatas

Five men and a woman have appeared in court charged with belonging to banned British Neo-Nazi group National Action.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard the defendants had allegedly persisted with the organisation despite the ban.

One defendant, Daniel Boguvonic, said he intended “to fight these charges from start to finish”.

All six have indicated not-guilty pleas to being members of the group, following an inquiry led by West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit.

The defendants, who were charged on Monday, are:

  • Nathan Pryke, 26, of Dartford Road, March, Cambridge
  • Adam Thomas, 21, of Waltham Gardens, Banbury, Oxfordshire
  • Claudia Patatas, 38, of Waltham Gardens, Banbury, Oxfordshire
  • Darren Fletcher, 28, of Kitchen Lane, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton
  • Daniel Bogunovic, 26, of Crown Hills Rise, Leicester
  • Joel Wilmore, 24, of Bramhall Moor Lane, Hazel Grove, Stockport

The charges brought against the six relate to belonging to National Action between December 2016 and September last year.

The five men all gave their identities as British, but Ms Patatas, a wedding photographer who lives with Mr Thomas, told the court she is Portuguese.

Mr Thomas denied an additional charge of possessing the Anarchist Cookbook 2000, which contains information likely to be useful for preparing acts of terrorism.

Mr Boguvonic also faces charges of intending to incite racial hatred by posting material which is threatening, abusive or insulting at Aston University campus in Birmingham in 2016, which he denies.

Mr Fletcher faces five additional counts of breaching an anti-social behaviour order.

Mr Wilmore is a former army reservist, having served in the Royal Logistic Corps between 2011 and 2013.

The group will next appear at the Old Bailey on 19 January.

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Terror in Paradise: I Got the Hawaii Missile Message and Prepared to Die

KAUAI, HAWAIISomewhere deep in sleep, dreaming I am at work… why did everyone leave their phones in the office?… then I feel my wife's foot tickling me… stop it… then: ALERT! LOUD! What's that? Turn off your alarm, I think.

My wife leans over and shows me her phone, which displays a dull black and grey EMERGENCY ALERT reading BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

It's 8:08 on a Saturday morning. I bolt out up and out of bed, think what everyone else across Hawaii must be thinking: WTF?!

Instinctively I rush to the kitchen, passing my 13-year-old son who is sitting on the couch in the living room, holding his phone (typical) presumably playing a game. I rush to check my work phone on the kitchen counter, scrolling through Twitter to see similar disbelief from other people on Oahu.

I know the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency has said Hawaii would have 12-15 minutes warning. It's 8:11. WTF?

My wife is scrambling. Radio. Is there a radio up here?

"My friend got it too," my son says from the other room, speaking of the alert warning.

I am looking at two iPhones, two Twitter feeds. More disbelief. Is this a mistake? What?

Water. We need water. There's water in the kitchen. In my mind I am swearing. In my mind, lots of Fs.

I start closing doors, windows. We have in a single family wooden house in Lihue on the island of Kauai. Closing doors and windows seems like a joke. What am I doing?

It's 8:14.

"Get in the bathroom, c'mon." My wife is fumbling with the radio. I am now in the bathroom filling up the bathtub. I see the neighbor's cat at the window on the lanai looking in.

My wife has brought a thin blanket into the bathroom. Water is filling the tub. I turn on at transistor radio and scroll for something that isn't static, music or noise. I check for more information on Twitter. I see nothing about a North Korean launch. I see lots of tweets but only the people in Hawaii are tweeting about the alert. They are in disbelief. There is a sense of panic.

What do I do? Call my family on the mainland? Parents and siblings in Washington, Colorado? No time.

It's 8:27.

I know this could be the end of my life. Or not. The tub is filling with water. My wife and son are seated on the bathroom floor, the most protected room in the house, I suppose. But the thought this wooden could protect us is laughable but I know there is no time to go anywhere. In my mind I debate running into the garage to grab water bottles to bring into the bathroom. Do I stop at the fridge and get food?

Finally some useful but unwelcome information on the radio: "There is an incoming missile warning for the islands of Kauai and Hawaii."

Is this happening? I have no time to call anyone. No time to get water. The tub continues to fill. I look at my wife and son. He looks at me, scared. I try to smile. If there is a missile strike, a blast of any kind, we are toast. It's almost pointless to search for batteries, duct tape and canned tuna. This is it.


I see another tweet. False alarm? It's a false alarm, I say. AgainWTF?

My legs are shaking. "It's a false alarm," I repeat. You can stand up. Stop the tub.

More disbelief. What is this?

Outside the sky is filled with bright light, it's morning. But it's not a thermonuclear morning. I am in disbelief. Did this just happen?

Then a message comes in from Twitter: I'm seeing on Twitter an alert went out about an inbound missile saying this is not a drill/text. I assume it's erroneous. Let me know?"

I sit down to open the computer and record my thoughts. Suddenly a second alert from the phone.

False alert message from the Hawaii EMA. The missile warning siren that Hawaii has recently begun testing does not sound.

Now it's 8:48 a.m. and my phone rings again. I answer. A robovoice says: "This is the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. There is no active threat and no action is needed at this time. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency is investigating this false alarm. Please do not call 911 unless you have an emergency."

So this is what it feels like to believe that you could have a nuclear bomb or an incoming missile about to destroy your world.

It's not a good feeling. Something must be done. Not just about the flawed mobile warning system in Hawaii but about a situation in which this scenario is even plausible, but about a world in which nations are poised to destroy each other with barely a moment's notice and bring about the end of life on this planet.

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Kushners Deutsche Bank-Backed Property Stung by Tenant Troubles

In a six-floor retail space near Times Square, the Guy Fieri restaurant has closed and construction hasn’t begun on celebrity chef Todd English’s food hall. A tourist attraction featuring a 1/87th scale model of New York City was behind on rent for two months as of December, according to loan documents.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

When Kushner Cos. bought the property for $296 million in 2015, then-Chief Executive Officer Jared Kushner had big plans to capitalize on the tens of millions of tourists who visit the area every year. Deutsche Bank AG financed the endeavor before selling most of the debt to investors across Wall Street a year ago. Those investors were shown disclosures describing the retail space as 100 percent occupied and estimating it would throw off $24 million of rent annually.

But Fieri, English and Gulliver’s Gate, the operator of the miniature Manhattan, account for $9.9 million of that rent estimate, which underpinned a market-defying appraisal boost and helped justify $370 million of loans, the disclosures show. Problems with these spaces could make the economics challenging.

Documents Requested

Last year, New York prosecutors requested documents from Deutsche Bank related to the property, where the Kushners used the debt to take out $59 million in cash. It isn’t clear what prosecutors are looking for. But mortgages granted under generous financial assumptions then sold to others who will bear the risk have piqued their interest in other cases. A spokesman for the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Deutsche Bank.

Despite the turbulence, Kushner Cos. says it isn’t worried.

“We are very happy with this investment and continue to meet all our financial obligations and will continue to do so in the future,” Christine Taylor, a spokeswoman, said in an email.

Gulliver’s Gate was cited due to a technicality and payments were only a few days late, she said. The company has a letter of intent for the Fieri space from a prestigious tenant at a higher rent, and the operator of the food hall is making final adjustments to its plan, she added, saying the changes are increasing the value of the property and will attract more visitors.

A spokeswoman for Gulliver’s Gate said that it “is up to date on their rent and paid in full on their lease” and there are “no concerns” about its future there.

Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, left his role in the family company when he joined the administration a year ago and divested from some assets. He says that, to avoid conflict of interest, he’s no longer involved in the business.

Watch List

New managers of the loans bought from Deutsche Bank have taken notice of the property’s issues. Even if they were brief, the missed payments by Gulliver’s Gate, the second most lucrative tenant, triggered a clause in the Kushners’ loan documents allowing creditors to demand any excess cash from the property until the problem was resolved, according to reports from debt servicers. Managers also put the retail space on watch lists for potentially troubled debt because it lost money for nine months through September 2017 after accounting for interest payments, the reports show. That’s because new tenants were given millions in free rent, a common tactic used to fill store spaces. Kushner Cos. set aside $11 million of the loans for the free rent. Disclosures don’t describe that figure as including funds for vacancies.

Bumps in the road are common when repositioning buildings, which can take years to reach full earning potential. But the retail tenants at the former New York Times building at 229 West 43rd Street posed special risks. Disclosures for potential lenders show that none had a credit rating from Fitch, Moody’s Investors Service or S&P Global Inc., unlike many large retail properties that tend to be anchored by stores with known credit profiles.

Full Occupancy?

In truth, maintaining full occupancy looked tough from the start. When the debt was sold to investors, the 500-seat Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar had been beset by negative reviews, and Todd English and his partners hadn’t yet taken possession of the space for his food hall. The chef, who has pulled out of another project, was scheduled to open for business there last April. Gulliver’s Gate, reportedly a $40 million endeavor, had not yet opened and was an untried competitor amid the glitz of Times Square.

On a recent Monday afternoon, the area reserved for Todd English was empty and unfinished with no sign of construction. Banners hung outside read “AFI Retail,” the name of a subsidiary of the building’s previous owner.

“We continue to work towards delivering this project,” Richard A. Chinsammy, executive vice president of Outstanding Hospitality Management Group, English’s partner for the food hall, wrote in an email. A spokeswoman for English said the restaurant is now scheduled to open in December.

Logos Pulled

Logos for Fieri’s restaurant had been ripped from windows, though a large metal sign remained above the doorway. A spokeswoman for Fieri declined to comment.

Upstairs, about 50 people were visiting Gulliver’s Gate. Two attendants said it was busier on weekends. Tickets for the 49,000-square-foot space filled with miniature buildings are $36 for adults and $27 for children and seniors. Tickets are also included with purchases of nearby hotel rooms, according to online reviews.

When Kushner Cos. bought the property in 2015 from Africa-Israel, the distressed firm of Russian diamond magnate Lev Leviev, online retailers were ascendant, and the future of brick-and-mortar stores was uncertain. So filling the property with tenants offering experiences seemed smart.

Ocean Odyssey

In addition to Todd English and Gulliver’s Gate, Kushner signed National Geographic, whose “Encounter: Ocean Odyssey” promises an “incredible underwater journey” without any danger of getting wet. Bowlmor Lanes — with bowling, an arcade and party spaces — was already there. Neither tenant has been reported to have any problems.

The expected surge in income preceded a new appraisal in October 2016 at $445 million plus additional cash in accounts, indicating a stunning growth in value that far outstripped the broader Manhattan retail market, which had suffered a slowdown. Against that valuation, the $370 million of loans represented only 83 percent of the value, the investor disclosures showed. But Moody’s and Kroll, the risk-assessment firm, found in independent calculations that the loans exceeded the value.

Four Trusts

Deutsche Bank’s $285 million loan to Kushner Cos. was divided into four trusts with pieces of other loans to be sold to investors as commercial mortgage-backed securities. All told there are 163 loan pieces in the trusts, but only seven have been flagged on watch lists — including the four Kushner chunks. The Kushners received another $85 million in high-interest loans from SL Green Realty Corp. and Paramount Group.

In determining how much in interest payments the property could handle, underwriters estimated that costs to manage it would run about $4 million, disclosures show. If it achieved full rent of $24 million, that would indicate a modest cushion after making interest payments: about $18 million annually, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. But any loss of tenants with no immediate replacements could change those numbers quickly.

The situation might get worse before it gets better. In an October legal complaint against the Plaza Hotel, which contains a Todd English restaurant, the chef is accused of sexual harassment. In November, S&P downgraded the debt of another tenant, Guitar Center, saying it thought a potential debt restructuring could occur in the next six months, “a transaction that we would view as tantamount to a default.” A Guitar Center spokeswoman declined to comment.

Entertainment venues are more likely to experience money crunches in an economic slump than traditional retailers, Kroll said in its March report on the property and its debts. “This may subject the loan to increased risk of default and loss,” the firm said.

Still, there are worse venues to hunt for new tenants than Times Square, which commands the highest retail rents in the city after Fifth Avenue.

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    Six charged with terror group membership

    Image copyright Getty Images
    Image caption The arrests were carried out by a number of counter-terrorism units from across England

    Five men and a woman have been charged with belonging to banned far-right terror group National Action.

    West Midlands Police said they were charged with being “concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism”.

    The arrests took place on 3 January and were pre-planned and intelligence-led, the force added.

    All six will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

    Those charged are: Nathan Pryke, 26, of Dartford Road, March, Cambridge, Adam Thomas, 21, of Waltham Gardens, Banbury, Oxfordshire, Claudia Patatas, 28, of Waltham Gardens, Banbury, Oxfordshire, Darren Fletcher, 28, of Kitchen Lane, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, Daniel Bogunovic, 26, of Crown Hills Rise, Leicester, and Joel Wilmore, 24, of Bramhall Moor Lane, Hazel Grove, Stockport.

    Mr Thomas is also charged with possessing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

    Mr Fletcher is also charged with five counts of breaching an anti-social behaviour order.

    A string of counter-terrorism units were involved in the operation, including those from the West Midlands, north-west, south-east and east of England.

    National Action became the first British neo-Nazi group to be banned after Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it was promoting violence and acts of terrorism.

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    YouTube celebrities totally worth following who aren’t Logan Paul

    Image: mary clavering/young hollywood/Getty Images

    There’s a whole world on YouTube that doesn’t involve terrible people, it just doesn’t feel that way right now.

    The first week of 2018 wasn’t exactly a banner week for YouTube star Logan Paul, for example. Paul, known as the less offensive Paul brother (*&^@&#^?), kicked things off by releasing a tone-deaf video where he encounters a dead body in Japan’s suicide forest. The controversy sparked a debate about what’s suitable content for YouTube (hint: it doesn’t involve gawking at suicide), and prompted many older millennials and Gen-Xers to wonder, “Is there anyone not awful on YouTube?”

    Fellow kids, I’m pleased to report there are.

    If you’re not that familiar with the vlogging community, it’s likely you only heard about two YouTube personalities in the past year — Logan Paul, or a YouTube personality named “PewDewPie” who loves to make jokes about dead Jews.

    Thankfully, there are (mostly incredibly young) vloggers out there making largely inoffensive, not entirely insipid, and sometimes even — get ready for it — good content. 

    Here are just a few.

    1. Liza Koshy

    Just 21 years old, Liza Koshy is one of those incredibly successful young people who actually deserves everything that’s coming to them. She’s a skilled physical comedian who produces well-cut (i.e. not insanely choppy) videos, and her range of impressions is broad. It’s the kind of content you can be non-depressed that teenagers are watching.

    2. Lilly Singh

    Lilly Singh made $10.5 million in 2016 and she did it without capitalizing on a tragedy in a suicide forest. Instead, she relied on her natural comedic instincts, spot-on impersonations of her parents, and genuinely astute commentary on young adult life. 

    3. videogamedunkey 

    If you’re new to video game commentary, or mostly hate it but want to learn, videogamedunkey is where it’s at. Videogamedunkey doesn’t have the painful arrogance like others in his genre, and he’s actually capable of crafting engaging, well-constructed narratives. Who knew that such a thing was possible on YouTube?

    4. Lindsay Ellis

    For all you book learners out there, there’s Lindsay Ellis, a media critic who actually makes media criticism bearable. Ellis addresses everything from vanishing Disney villains to nostalgia, without ever sounding like your “Intro to Film Theory” TA/wannabe professor.

    5. Bill Wurtz

    Bill Wurtz is less of a YouTube personality than he is a producer of deeply weird animated videos, but he’s on this list because I like him so goshdarn much. You’ve probably seen at least one of these videos and thought, “I’m appalled by how much I love this.”

    Sure, some of his more erratic material borders on twee, but we all need a little Wes Anderson in our lives.

    6. Nathan Zed

    Nathan Zed doesn’t vlog frequently, partially for personal reasons, and partially because he only speaks when there’s something that needs to be said. Zed is one of the more thoughtful ones of the bunch, addressing everything from body positivity to the responsibilities of YouTube personalities. (Yes! He actually thinks about this!)

    7. Hannah Hart

    You probably know Hart from “My Drunk Kitchen,” her weekly YouTube series where she cooks while intoxicated. Hart also makes videos that are more personal and specific to the LGBTQ community, whether it’s about the coming out process or managing queer relationships. 

    8. Kingsley

    Kingsley is another familiar, proudly out YouTube personality. Kingsley’s commentary about everything about Katy Perry’s betrayal of the gays to “Tragic Gingerbread houses” is like old-school Buzzfeed, modernized and made better for 2017. 

    8. Evelyn from the Internets

    Watch this video. Soak up all that magical content. Only then can you return to this post.

    Evelyn from the Internet has done more than this viral video — including everything from makeup tutorials to cultural critique — but this is a YouTuber at the height of her form.

    9. Bretman Rock

    Known, accurately, as “The Internet’s most fabulously fierce makeup guru,” Rock rose to fame with his breakout “How to Contour” video series. 

    10. Primitive Technology

    Who would have ever thought that a video entitled “Reusable charcoal mound” would achieve over 10 million views? Not me, certainly, and not any person I know.

    Still, Primitive Technology, who constructs devices cavemen would have built, has an insanely loyal following, with close to 7 million subscribers. 

    Best of all? He barely talks. 

    Apparently, the key to dominating a platform that constantly excretes verbal diarrhea is to embrace silence.

    It’s a lesson for all of the bright, beautiful wannabe YouTube stars everywhere.

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    2018’s Best Hotel In The World Is Less Than $130 A Night

    Jetsetters hoping to get a jump start on their 2018 travel plans will love this latest news. The travel experts at TripAdvisor just released their 16th annual Traveler’s Choice Awards for the world’s best hotels for 2018. 

    With its exceptional food, impeccable service, and stunning Instagram-worthy pool, Cambodia’s greenery-shrouded Viroth’s Hotel tops this year’s list. The luxury hotel is located in the country’s central-northern city of Siem Reap. 

    “I am so proud of our team ― being named the No. 1 hotel in the world for TripAdvisor’s 2018 Travelers’ Choice Award is a huge achievement for Viroth’s Hotel,” said the hotel’s co-owner, Fabien Martial, in a press release. “I hope this award will further encourage everybody here to offer the best for our guests.”

    The Nantucket Hotel and Resort in Nantucket, Mass., took the No. 7 spot as the only U.S. hotel to make the cut this year.

    The award winners are determined using millions of reviews and opinions left on TripAdvisor’s site each year. The site analyzed more than 8,000 properties in 94 countries to determine this year’s winners.

    Take a look below at the 10 top hotels in the world in 2018:

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    New Couple Alert: Chris Pratt And Olivia Munn?? Details HERE!

    Well this is something!!!

    It appears that

    The 38-year-old Pratt and Munn, 37, were spotted by diners at Craig’s in WeHo and, according to ET, it apparently “didn’t look like the two were trying to hide their PDA” while eating.

    One eyewitness at the restaurant noted how the pair was “acting totally romantic,” while Pratt “had his arm around her at one point” during their meal.

    One thing is for certain, though — it doesn’t look like there are any photographs. The pair likely came in through the kitchen to avoid attention outside from paparazzi, and they ultimately weren’t captured on camera leaving the restaurant either.

    Still, if eyewitness accounts are to be believed, it sounds like there may be a new celeb power couple out there!!

    Thoughts, Perezcious readers?! Think this pair fits well together now that both are single after breakups with Anna Faris and Aaron Rodgers recently??

    Do U like Chris and Olivia together now?? Tell us in the comments (below)!!!

    [Image via Adriana M. Barraza/WENN.]

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    Trump Is Scrambling To Avoid A Special Election Defeat In This Rust Belt District

    HOUSTON, Pa. ― Conor Lamb, the Democrat running to represent this district in Congress, was wrapping up an interview with a reporter last week when Ted Skowvron, a 93-year-old veteran in a World War II cap, walked over to shake his hand.

    Lamb thanked Skowvron for his service and asked him where he’d served.

    Skowvron informed Lamb that was he was a ball gunner on a B-17 in the European theater. But he was more interested in discussing President Donald Trump.

    “I just wanted to let you know: Get in there and get him out! Cuz if you don’t do it, I’m coming down myself,” the lifelong Democrat and retired union crane operator exclaimed.  

    Meet the Resistance here in Pennsylvania’s southwestern corner. Lamb is hoping there are enough voters like Skowvron who will help him score another upset victory for Democrats and flip a GOP-held seat in the special election on March 13.

    This district should be no problem for Republicans to hang onto. Pennsylvania Republicans gerrymandered the 18th District to combine GOP-leaning Pittsburgh suburbs with once-Democratic mill towns and rural areas that have trended steadily more Republican in recent national elections. Tim Murphy, the Republican incumbent, ran unopposed in 2014 and 2016, and Trump won the district by a whopping 20 percentage points.

    But the special election clearly has Republicans on edge.

    Lamb is competing with Republican Rick Saccone, a 59-year-old state representative and former military intelligence officer. Murphy had held the seat comfortably since 2003, but resigned in October after it emerged that the anti-abortion congressman had asked a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair to have an abortion.

    Democrats have had a string of victories since Trump’s inauguration. In fact, they’ve flipped 34 state legislative seats, one governor’s seat and one U.S. Senate seat from red to blue. Republicans, meanwhile, have only picked up four state legislative seats.

    Trump is heading to the 18th District on Thursday to stave off another potentially embarrassing defeat. He’ll hold a rally for Saccone, whose fundraising has reportedly been lackluster.

    Democrats, meanwhile, are hoping that the energy from the base and the excitement from other wins over the past year will bubble over to benefit Lamb as well.

    Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
    Democrat Conor Lamb, 33, a veteran of the Marines and former federal prosecutor, is running in a district Donald Trump won by a landslide.

    An Upset In The Heart Of Trump Country?

    Skowvron was one of some 85 people who braved snow-clogged roads and temperatures in the teens on Saturday to hear Lamb, a 33-year-old former federal prosecutor and veteran of the Marines, speak briefly at an American Legion hall in a small town southwest of Pittsburgh.

    The boisterous crowd, which gave Lamb the whooping welcome of a celebrity, looked like the district. It was overwhelmingly white, with more VFW caps, union pins and Pittsburgh Steelers shirts than pink pussy hats and anti-Trump gear. But the audience members were just as energized as any other resistance gathering, realizing they have a viable Democratic congressional candidate for the first time in years.

    “It’s been a very, very long time” since a crowd that big turned out for a Democrat in the district, said Joe Zupancic, a 48-year-old attorney running as a Democratic candidate for an open state House seat. The last time, he estimated, was “probably back in the ’90s, when this seat was Democrat to begin with.”

    No one’s denying that Lamb has an uphill climb.

    In a special election where low turnout is a given, however, the district’s higher-than-normal level of Democratic enthusiasm matters.

    Add to the mix a Democratic candidate with a strong biography and a Republican candidate with a record at odds with the district’s influential labor unions, and it becomes clear why the national Republican Party is not taking any chances.

    Earlier this month, the deep-pocketed Congressional Leadership Fund, a GOP super PAC affiliated with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), announced the opening of a field office in the district. The operation will include 50 full-time door knockers who aim to make 250,000 voter contacts, the super PAC said.

    Republican outside groups are also on the airwaves ahead of either candidate. Ending Spending Inc., a super PAC backed by the billionaire Ricketts family, made a $1 million ad buy in support of Saccone. And the pro-Trump 45Committee is spending $500,000 on ads, including a 30-second spot released last week that hits “Liberal Conor Lamb” for opposing Trump’s tax cut bill.

    In addition, Vice President Mike Pence is slated to campaign for Saccone. The Republican National Committee has a permanent field office in Western Pennsylvania that is helping to turn out GOP voters, and the super PAC America Rising has been sending a video tracker to all of Lamb’s campaign events.

    National Democratic groups, by contrast, are thus far largely limiting their support for Lamb to verbal praise for his bid. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect House Democrats, said it had no investments to announce at this time. And when asked about its involvement in the race, the Democratic National Committee referred HuffPost to its monthly $10,000 contribution to the Pennsylvania Democratic Party through the Every ZIP Code Counts program.

    End Citizens United, a national liberal PAC, announced its endorsement of Lamb on Wednesday. The group raised $600,000 to elect Alabama Democrat Doug Jones to the Senate, but it is not clear how much it plans to spend on Lamb’s behalf.

    The DCCC and DNC “have to kind of wait and see how much the Lamb team raises, because it is gonna be an expensive race,” said a Democratic source with knowledge of the national party’s considerations.

    “It is not helpful for them for the party to be coming in and being so overt,” the source added.

    It’s still possible to craft winning messages to win at least segments of the white working class that enables the party to do well everywhere. Mike Mikus, Democratic campaign consultant

    The southwestern Pennsylvania district offers a unique proving ground for Democrats whose strongest electoral performances since November 2016 have largely been in districts Trump lost or won only narrowly. If Democrats flip the 18th, or even hold the GOP to a narrow margin, it will put Republicans on notice that no seat is immune to a Democratic midterm wave.

    It is also liable to make the Democrats think twice about ignoring former Democratic strongholds in the Rust Belt where Trump outperformed his Republican predecessors.

    “The problem with a lot of people in Washington is that they equate white working-class, non-college-educated voters as being racist Neanderthals and should be written off,” said Mike Mikus, a veteran Democratic strategist based in the district. “Obviously, the Democratic Party should never turn away from its values of inclusion and equality, but it’s still possible to craft winning messages to win at least segments of the white working class that enables the party to do well everywhere, rather than just the coastal elites, the big cities.”

    The saga of declining Democratic fortunes in the industrial areas of Pennsylvania and other Great Lakes states is by now a familiar yarn. Deindustrialization weakened the labor unions that bound many working-class residents to the party, and Democrats’ increasingly progressive stances on racial and cultural issues created an opening for socially conservative Republican candidates.

    Congressional Democrats held on for years in increasingly conservative districts by stressing kitchen-table economic issues and union bona fides, while bucking liberal orthodoxy on issues like guns, abortion and the environment. Mark Critz, the last Democratic House candidate to win in swathes of the current 18th District (before its borders were subsequently redrawn), ran in a May 2010 special election as an opponent of gun control and abortion rights, as well as the newly enacted Affordable Care Act.

    Even as the 18th District’s voters have increasingly rejected Democrats in federal elections, the party has retained some power at the state and local levels. Democrats enjoy majorities on the county commissions in 3 in 4 counties in the district.

    “The people in this district who voted for Trump do not view a ‘D’ by your name as a disqualifier,” Mikus said.

    Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
    Lamb speaks to voters at the American Legion Post in Houston, Pennsylvania, on Jan. 13, 2017.

    Picking ‘Somebody In The Middle’

    Due to the rushed timeline for the special election, both Lamb and Saccone were selected by party officials and activists at their respective conventions, rather than in primaries.

    Lamb nonetheless defeated six rivals for the post.

    Allen Kukovich, who served as a Democratic state lawmaker from 1977 to 2004 and voted for Lamb at the party convention in November, said Lamb “struck me as somebody who was ready right now. And with the special election and the national exposure that this is likely to get, there is very limited time to grow into the job.” 

    The district’s Democratic hands also opted for a candidate with unimpeachable patriotic credentials, deep roots in the district and relatively moderate policy stances ― criteria perhaps equally as important as preparedness.

    “It’s important that the progressive Democrats understand this is a tough district to win,” said Nate Regotti, chief of staff to state Rep. Pam Snyder, a Democrat who represents a portion of the district on the West Virginia border. “They want somebody in the middle that’s gonna represent them no matter how they feel, and I think Conor Lamb’s gonna do that.”

    Lamb, a native of Mt. Lebanon, an affluent suburb just south of Pittsburgh, is the scion of an Irish-Catholic Democratic family that has been influential in regional politics for generations. His grandfather, Thomas Lamb, served as the Democratic majority leader of the Pennsylvania state Senate.

    Lamb is running on creating decent-paying jobs through a massive infrastructure bill, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and marshaling federal resources to address the opioid crisis that has ravaged many of the old mill towns southwest of Pittsburgh.

    Although Lamb touts his experience tackling heroin and opiate trafficking as a federal prosecutor, he favors a health care driven approach to solving the epidemic.

    Speaking to HuffPost, Lamb calmly rattled off proposals to secure federal funding for more rehabilitation facilities, longer rehab stays and medical treatment upon release.

    He views these plans as a critical point of contrast with his rival Saccone, who voted for a state House budget that cut $10 million in funding for the life-saving opioid overdose drug Naloxone.

    “You wanna talk about being pro-life? You don’t vote against a drug that saves people’s lives,” Lamb said.

    Lamb also sees protecting the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion as a key component in the fight against opiate abuse, since it is frequently the program that provides insurance for addicts. He would shore up the health care law’s private insurance exchanges through technocratic fixes like extending public reinsurance to participating insurers.

    You wanna talk about being pro-life? You don’t vote against a drug that saves people’s lives. Conor Lamb

    Although Lamb does not rule out more progressive reforms like the creation of a Medicaid or Medicare buy-in, he has concerns about the costs of expanding those programs. He supports empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

    Saccone’s campaign declined HuffPost’s repeated requests to speak to the candidate or get more clarification on his policy positions.

    But Saccone has said he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, and his campaign website says that he “will utilize free-market principles to fix our healthcare crisis.” 

    Saccone, an Iraq War veteran with a Ph.D. in international affairs and experience as an American diplomat in North Korea, has campaigned as an enthusiastic supporter of Trump’s agenda, saying he was ”Trump before Trump was Trump.”

    The national Republican groups that have converged on Pennsylvania’s 18th District to buttress Saccone’s bid are meanwhile trying to portray Lamb as a liberal disciple of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). To preempt this critique, Lamb announced earlier this month that if elected, he would not vote for Pelosi as House Democratic leader.

    “I know Conor Lamb is doing his very best to backpedal away from Nancy Pelosi,” Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, told HuffPost. “But I don’t think he’s backpedaling fast enough to fool the people of the 18th District into thinking that he wouldn’t be a loyal foot soldier for Pelosi if he was ever elected.” 

    Mike Theiler / Reuters
    Rick Saccone attends the Conservative Political Action Conference with his wife Yong in February 2017. Democrats hope Saccone’s disagreements with labor unions prove to be a weakness.

    Lamb is far from a doctrinaire liberal, though. He has staked out centrist positions on everything from coal ― which he told HuffPost “has an important place in our energy strategy” ― to gun policy, an area where he believes it is unnecessary to expand on the “laws on the books.”

    Asked whether he backs any additional restrictions on abortion, however, Lamb, who has said that he is personally pro-life, firmly ruled out the idea.

    “Once you make something a right, it’s a right. And it’s like that for a reason,” he said. 

    Lamb also said he was open to working with Trump on crafting national security policy and passing an infrastructure bill.

    “I’m not running against President Trump, and people in my district are not looking for someone running against President Trump,” Lamb said. “They want to know what the difference is between me and Rick Saccone, so that’s what we talk about.”

    In his speech at Saturday’s American Legion event, Lamb eschewed discussion of policy ― let alone Trump ― in favor of a homily about military service and the local community.

    But after a nearly five-minute riff on the importance of memorializing veterans, Lamb pivoted to argue that unionized workers deserved similar recognition for their service. He invoked as a model the churchyard memorial in nearby Castle Shannon for Philip Murray, the founder of the region’s mighty United Steelworkers union.

    “In Western Pennsylvania, it’s no surprise that we put a statue of one of our great labor leaders right there in the churchyard for everyone to see, forever,” Lamb said.

    Testing Organized Labor’s Clout

    If Lamb pulls off an upset win, it will likely be on the back of organized labor.

    About 19 percent of the residents in this steel- and coal-heavy district are either active or retired members of a labor union, according to Frank Snyder, the secretary-treasurer of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, the state’s largest labor federation, who introduced Lamb at the American Legion. That is significantly higher than the national rate of union membership, which was 10.7 percent in 2016.

    Beyond financial contributions, labor provides a massive, organic field operation.

    “The capacity … is having volunteer union members talking member to member at the workplace, at their homes, over the telephone,” Snyder said.

    “Our election program is gonna focus on educating union members, not saying, ‘Conor Lamb’s the best,’” Snyder added. “We’re gonna compare the two candidates: This is where he is on education or Medicare or Medicaid, and then you decide.”

    The United Steelworkers, which has about 20,000 active and retired members in the district, plan to contact every member before Election Day, said Tim Waters, the union’s national political director.

    “The reaction that we’re getting right now is enthusiasm in a lot of ways at the same level that we saw in Alabama. And that was significant enthusiasm,” Waters said.

    The reaction that we’re getting right now is enthusiasm in a lot of ways at the same level that we saw in Alabama. And that was significant enthusiasm. Tim Waters, United Steelworkers

    Labor unions’ support for Lamb is as much a function of Saccone’s status as an opponent of union priorities as it is of the Democratic candidate’s strengths.

    In 2016, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO endorsed the GOP incumbent Murphy in the district. He was running uncontested, but labor didn’t have to back him. It did so, however, because Murphy maintained at least some pro-labor stances, including support for the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires federal building contractors to pay the “prevailing wage” and benefits in a given area. In practice, the law typically ensures that federal contracts use union labor.

    Saccone, by contrast, co-sponsored legislation in Pennsylvania that would have curtailed the state’s prevailing wage law. In 2014, Saccone also picked up the endorsement of Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Work Committee, a group that seeks to make Pennsylvania a state where unions are forbidden from mandating the payment of dues from workers they represent.  

    Steven Mazza, a council representative for the regional branch of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, which counts 1,800 members in the district, said Saccone’s record gives the union a compelling case to take to its members, including those who voted for Murphy or Trump.

    “Part of the thing we have to do is tell our members that did support Murphy, it’s about supporting federal Davis-Bacon, and Saccone doesn’t,” Mazza said. “I don’t think we can get into the issue that [Saccone’s] a really bad person and [Lamb’s] a really great person.”

    Mazza and other union officials fear that if Trump moves ahead with an infrastructure bill, fiscal conservatives in Congress will try to waive Davis-Bacon to bring down the cost. 

    He also worries that Trump will give anti-union Republicans like the vice president a free hand to pass national right-to-work legislation now that higher priorities like tax reform are out of the way.

    Such a law would “cut our jobs in half,” Mazza said.  

    Lamb’s campaign has also sought to point out that Joe Ricketts, whose family funds the pro-Saccone Ending Spending super PAC, has a reputation for union-busting. Ricketts abruptly closed the DNAInfo and Gothamist news sites after employees at the New York offices voted to unionize.

    Across the 18th District’s bedroom communities and industrial hamlets, many voters were only just becoming aware of the special election. Several residents knew little more than either Lamb or Saccone’s name.

    But conversations with some Republican-leaning union members revealed that Saccone’s hostility to labor priorities could sway them to vote for Lamb. 

    In a conversation at the McDonald’s in Burgettstown, Don Dowler, a 72-year-old retiree, described himself as a union member “all my life,” with stints in the United Steelworkers, as well as unions representing railroad and maintenance workers.

    Dowler voted for Trump and is inclined to vote for the GOP nominee in the special election. He left open the possibility that an anti-labor Republican would be a bridge too far, however.

    “That might affect me, yeah. It depends which way he goes,” Dowler said.

    Aaron McKindley, 18, got a job at the Union Electric Steel plant down the road after graduating high school. A member of the United Steelworkers, he told HuffPost that he would have voted for Trump if he had been old enough.

    But the prospect of an anti-union Republican candidate could convince McKindley to vote Democratic.

    “I guess long-term, yeah, it would definitely affect me,” he concluded. “It’s like I said, I don’t vote on parties. I vote on individuals.”

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    Attention Pulitzer committee: Reporter ‘eats like Trump’ for a week for no discernible reason

    We’d thought CNN and other mainstream media outlets had already done President Trump’s diet to death, what with stories about two scoops of ice cream and 12 Diet Cokes a day, not that anyone cared.

    Apparently seeing a gap in coverage, Business Insider’s Dennis Green spent a week eating “foods that Trump has been photographed eating, has said in interviews that he eats, or has been reported to eat regularly.” Wasn’t this bit played out in 2004’s “Super Size Me”?

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