Wealthy Russian Oligarch Docks His Yacht in Palm Beach, but It’s Probably Just a Coincidence

Ok. This is just a coincidence. Gotta be, right?

I mean, not even Trump is dull enough to invite a wealthy Russian oligarch and noted Putin-pal to Mar-a-Lago for the Thanksgiving holiday, right in the middle of a heated probe into Russian meddling in a U.S. election.

Is he?

You don’t have to answer that, right now. Let me give you the skinny, first.

Ok, according to myPalmBeachPost.com, Roman Abramovich, the aforementioned wealthy Russian oligarch, cruised his $400 million (possibly $500 million) yacht into the Port of Palm Beach on Friday afternoon.

This is just days before President Trump is to be in Palm Beach to spend the Thanksgiving holiday at Mar-a-Lago.

Abramovich is apparently planning to stay awhile. He’s slipped his sea-bound palace, named the Eclipse, into the spot normally reserved for the Grand Celebration, a cruise ship that’s currently off to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, for hurricane relief-detail. He’s booked the space until December 5, but may leave earlier, depending on if the next expected vessel comes in, possibly on December 1.

So who is this guy?

Forbes lists Abramovich’s net worth at $9.5 billion, the world’s 139th-richest person, with major holdings in steel, nickel and oil companies, as well as Britain’s Chelsea soccer team.

Sssooo… somebody who could buy Trump 3 times over?

Speaking of Trump, there’s absolutely no reason to think Abramovich’s arrival in Palm Beach, just as Trump is about to arrive is anything more than a coincidence.

Bloomberg Politics has reported that presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner has met Abramovich one-on-one and with their wives on a number of occasions. No word on whether Abramovich, 51, said to be a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has met President Trump or will spend time with him during the stay.

Just a coincidence.

So what’s on this very big boat, anyway?

Well, it’s 533-feet long (second biggest private yacht in the world), has a pool, room for 92 crew members, a helipad and a submarine.

Wait… wut?

Ok. So it has a submarine. Sure. Why not? A nearly half-billion dollar boat can have a submarine.

It’s just that it’s a submarine docked in Florida, owned by a friend of Vladimir Putin.

It’ll be really interesting to see if Abramovich swings by Mar-a-Lago over the next couple of weeks.

 

 

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Top U.S. Nuclear Commander Would Have No Trouble Saying “No” to Trump

The top U.S. nuclear commander has a message, lest anyone is confused about his role: We’re not stupid.

Nor are they pushovers.

“They” is in reference to those who oversee America’s nukes, and the message is coming from Air Force General John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM).

While speaking with an audience at the Halifax International Security Forum, in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Saturday, he fielded a question regarding what his reaction would be, should President Trump call for a nuclear strike. In particular, he was asked how he would handle it, if he knew the order was illegal.

Hyten didn’t mince words.

“I think some people think we’re stupid. We’re not stupid people. We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?” Hyten said in response.

He’s right.

I’ve actually thought myself how does one handle the weight of that decision, should it ever come, and is it automatic obedience to the Commander-in-Chief, or would there be a moment of hesitation, where consideration is given to the morality of setting those missiles flying?

Hyten was sure of his answer, and he continued.

“I provide advice to the president, he will tell me what to do,” Hyten explained. “And if it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I’m going to say, ‘Mr. President, that’s illegal.’ And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?’ And we’ll come up with options, with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works. It’s not that complicated.”

Hyten added that if Trump were to “execute an unlawful order., you will go to jail,” he said. “You could go to jail for the rest of your life.”

That should comfort a lot of those who are certain Trump is going to get us in a nuclear war.

The heated rhetoric being lobbed back and forth between Trump and North Korean nutjob, Kim Jong-un has everyone rethinking bomb shelters.

Hyten said the U.S. is ready to respond to “any event that comes out of North Korea” and an unpredictable leader in Kim Jong Un. But that “the element of deterrence” has to be clear.

“President Trump by himself can’t change the behavior of Kim Jong Un,” Hyten said. “But President Trump can create the conditions that the international community can reach out in different ways where we can work with the Republic of Korea, where we can work with our neighbors in the region.”

Diplomacy. That hasn’t been shown to be Trump’s forte, as yet, but it suffices to know that Japan, South Korea, and possibly China (I’m not convinced that they’re onboard, yet) would be most willing to turn up the heat on North Korea, in order to avoid a full-scale nuclear blow out.

 

 

 

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The World Says Goodbye to a Hard Rock Icon

For those of us who grew up on Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, this is a somber day.

One of the icons of the 70s hard rock scene and beyond, one half of the dynamic brother duo that is responsible for some of the anthems of rock and roll has left us.

Malcolm Young, rhythm guitarist and founding member of the Australian group, AC/DC has passed away.

Young formed the band in 1973, when he was 20 years old, along with his younger brother, Angus. While the band went through numerous lineup changes, it was that early lineup with the Young brothers, and Scottish-born Bon Scott on vocals that always gave the best bang for your hard rock bucks.

Sadly, Bon Scott passed away in February 1980, after a night of heavy drinking. He was followed by Brian Johnson, and the band had what was to be their biggest hit, “Back in Black” with Johnson on vocals later that year.

The album was a tribute to Scott.

Malcolm retired from the stage in 2014, after being diagnosed with dementia.

As someone caring for an elderly parent with dementia, I’ve seen firsthand the toll it takes. It’s a horrible condition.

AC/DC and the sound created by the Young brothers was pure booze-and-blues fueled rock and roll. These songs are still played at parties, before concerts, and in clubs all over the world. You can’t even think “rock and roll” and not think about AC/DC, somewhere in your mental discography of the genre.

Every jukebox in every pizza joint when I was growing up had several AC/DC songs for play.

Even today, the hipsters are wearing vintage AC/DC t-shirts.

This was probably my first favorite hard rock band, and I’m probably not the only one reading this that can say that.

What Malcolm Young started was legend, and legends don’t die.

Prayers of comfort and peace for his family, friends, and fans.

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Trump Invites Hillary to Another Election Showdown in 2020

President Donald Trump just threw the proverbial the proverbial gauntlet down in front of his 2016 Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton today.

Trump took to twitter and called  Clinton “the worst (and biggest) loser of all time,” in a tweet, adding “she just can’t stop, which is so good for the Republican Party. Hillary, get on with your life and give it another try in three years!”

The tweet was likely in response to Clinton’s attack on Trump, telling him to take responsibility for the sexual assault allegations leveled at him, while applauding Al Franken’s response to sexual assault allegations against him.

“I don’t hear that from Roy Moore or Donald Trump,” Clinton said during a Friday interview. “Look at the contrast between Al Franken, accepting responsibility, apologizing, and Roy Moore and Donald Trump who have done neither.”

Both Clinton and Trump have been in a back and forth since his election. Trump has recently pushed for Clinton to be investigated by the Justice Department for her, and the Clinton Foundation’s part in the Uranium One scandal, which saw then Clinton’s State Department okay the sale of an American uranium company to Russia in 2010.

Clinton in return has called this potential investigation an “abuse of power.

Despite Trump’s 2020 challenge to Clinton, Clinton says she’s done with being a political official and will not be running again.

At this time, Trump’s main 2020 opponents look to be Bernie Sanders, currently the politician with the highest approval rating, former Vice President Joe Biden who is already 11 points ahead in the 2020 polls.

 

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Focus Group Results Show Trump in Danger of Losing Part of His 2016 Voter Base

During the 2016 election cycle, Donald Trump managed to pull in a lot of diverse voters. Besides the partisan Republican crowd, there were independents who couldn’t see themselves voting for Hillary Clinton, and reportedly, even Democrats, disgusted by the shenanigans that gave them Hillary Clinton as their nominee, rather than Bernie Sanders.

That last group was like the Bizarro World opposites of the NeverTrumper delegates that attempted to stop a Trump nomination on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, last year.

Whatever the makeup, Trump got the right people voting for him, in the right places, at the right time, and it worked.

Now, however, with the first year of his first term near to completion, it seems the novelty of voting for a wacky chaos candidate may be wearing off, for some.

A recent online focus group of voters from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan seems to indicate that Trump could lose a chunk of his 2016 supporters, heading into the 2018 election, and well-ahead of his 2020 reelection bid.

That particular chunk would be those who were previously Obama voters, but chose to back Trump in 2016.

It was a former Obama campaign manager, Jim Messina, who put together the focus group.

“The white Obama-Non-Clinton voters we surveyed were clear: If the economy does not improve measurably, they are not going to give Trump a second chance—and they already have a clear reason to explain his failure: Twitter,” Messina explains in a Politico op-ed.

“The members of our focus groups worried that Trump was so pre-occupied with picking Twitter fights and the general chaos of his administration that he was not focusing on making the economy better,” he added.

They’re not the only ones who have expressed concerns over President Trump’s inability to act as if his intellect is at least, to some degree, advanced beyond that of a 13-year old mean girl on social media.

Given the threats and very real concerns our nation faces, we need more than childish name-calling and pouty, juvenile rants from our president.

Messina went on to explain the findings of the group.

“When exposing all voters in the survey to a tough message laying out the consequences of Trump’s tweeting—how it signals what he really cares about and prevents him from focusing his energy on making good on his promises to improve people’s lives—we found that the overall rating of Trump’s handling of the economy dropped by 6 points,” Messina wrote.

Calling an enemy leader “Little rocket man” or “short and fat” on Twitter isn’t a confidence booster. Who knew?

“Perhaps even more interesting is that when we re-surveyed Obama-non-Clinton voters six weeks later, those who’d been exposed to the tweeting message had a much dimmer view of Trump than those exposed to other messages,” he added.

Messina went on to point out that what has worked before, won’t always be the case.

“It’s true that Donald Trump is unlike any politician we have seen in a long time. Things that pundits say should sink him do not. He has thus far managed to rebound from even the most vile behavior,” he concludes.

“But voters are only willing to go along with that so far.”

Yes, like the pet rock, jelly shoes, and troll dolls, the novelty of just letting some crazy, loudmouthed reality TV huckster run the nation will wear off, if there isn’t any real substance behind him.

Then again, I know people still wearing Crocs, for some bizarre reason. Nothing strikes me as impossible, anymore.

 

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Apple’s VP of Diversity to Step Down After Proving She Understands What Real Diversity Is

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “diversity is strength.” While in many cases this is correct, in many others, the adage rings completely hollow. Forging chromium into steel will craft you a blade resistant to the elements. Forge Frosted Flakes with steel and I’m pretty sure you’ll have a far less durable, but somewhat tasty knife.

It all boils down to the type of diversity we uphold.

That’s something Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Apple, Denise Young Smith, seemed to understand. Smith has only been VP of Diversity at the Silicone Valley giant for six months, but is already stepping down.

Why? Smith says she’s been discussing her departure with Cook for over a year now, and this departure is “planned.” However, it seems odd that Smith is suddenly leaving her brand new post after she arose a deluge of anger for recognizing that diversity of thought was more important than diversity of race or sex.

“I focus on everyone,” said Smith during a conference in Bogota, Colombia about fighting racial injustice, adding “Diversity is the human experience. I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT.”

That was probably already too far for many social justice advocates, but then Smith took it into screeching territory for the left.

“There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation,” said Smith as she sat next to Black Lives Matter’s DeRay McKesson.

McKesson took his turn to spew racist garbage about white people and their “privilege,” but it was Smith’s statement that drew a great deal of controversy despite Smith herself being black and a woman.

The problem with Smith’s statement for those on the social justice left is that diversity of the exterior is more important than diversity of thought. The idea that 12 white men in a room could have different experiences that effect their views or creative process is ludicrous to a people whose ideology demands that everyone has to fit into a specific box.

To SocJus advocates, there’s no way the white son of a rancher from Texas could be as different as night is from day when compared to the son of a white deli owner from New York. White guy Jim on 6th St., despite his different upbringing and life experiences, cannot be different from White guy Tom on 7th. They’re both white, and thus the exact same person.

If that seems like shallow, backward thinking, it’s because it is. For them, diversity cannot exist in the mind if the skin color is the same.

To them, diversity could only be achieved by bringing in different sexes, races, etc. While these differences do sometimes help, focusing on the exterior does necessarily mean the right person has been brought in for the job. A black woman may have been chosen for her exterior qualities, but her abilities to creatively problem solve may not be all that different from white guy Jim’s, or her style isn’t necessarily a good fit for the situation.

This is the problem of modern day diversity hires. The less qualified are made more qualified by the color of their skin, not the contents of their character…or their brain.

Smith seemed to understand this, and for this she was raked over the coals. While we can’t prove her stepping down after only six months is a result of her comments about appreciating diversity of thought, it seems awfully fishy that she’s disappearing so soon after taking her job, and so soon after expressing an opinion that many on the social justice left view as heresy.

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Facebook, Google, Twitter Will Help Users Spot Fake News

At an event Friday at the Newseum in downtown Washington, D.C., Cory Haik, Publisher of the Mic news site, mentioned that in 6 or 7 years her outlet had reached millions more than traditional news media has ever reached in the past within that time frame.

She was struck, she said, by the huge responsibility of that many eyes seeing what her site puts out. So she was an eager panelist at the Newseum event, which served as the official unveiling of The Trust Project, “an international consortium of news organizations collaborating to use transparency to build a more trustworthy and trusted press,” according to the Santa Clara University information page for the project.

What this means in practice is that news organizations — and some of the biggest tech aggregators such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter have all chosen to take part — will begin to supply meta information as context for what they put out for public consumption. The project calls them “trust indicators.”

“In today’s digitized and socially networked world, it’s harder than ever to tell what’s accurate reporting, advertising, or even misinformation,” Sally Lehrman, the journalist who heads the Trust Project, said in a statement. “The Trust Indicators put tools into people’s hands, giving them the means to assess whether news comes from a credible source they can depend on.”

Among other details, the indicators will show whether a story is a news report or advertising, highlight other articles the author has published and offer more clarity on the sources used to back up various claims in the story.

The Washington Post, The Economist, The Globe and Mail, and other publications are among the initial group of publishers using the indicators.

As an aside, Lehrman was asked by an attendee Friday if Fox News, Breitbart, Drudge Report and outlets “like that” had signed up to be a part of the project. Lehrman emphasized that the project is designed to be non-partisan and indicated there was a conservative outlet among the initial participants but didn’t indicate which one it was.

Because so much of media has been in the “affirmation not information” game, as one panelist called it, the Trust Project is a way for news outlets to get back to the ethics and integrity that defined journalism when the press was a more trusted entity 50 or so years ago, panelists said.

What the tech giants, who play a crucial role in disseminating news, ask of users is their participation in interacting with the trust indicators so they might begin to be more informed consumers of what they read. Given the recent appearance of these tech companies before Congress, in which they were asked to address their role in how foreign agents might be manipulating voters using their platforms, these companies have a vested interest in proving their desire to see the Trust Project succeed.

The trick now is determining if users will do the work of clicking on the indicators to verify the source of the information and any inherent bias it might carry. How these efforts might affect the quality of news online will be an interesting development to observe as it unfolds.

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Trump Tweets About Franken; Returns Spotlight to His Own Accusers

A well known Democratic Senator getting accused of sexual assault is a big deal. Coming on the heels of being a sanctimonious, self-righteous prig during a hearing with a judicial nominee, made it all that much more engrossing.

Leeann Tweeden’s credible accusation against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn) thrust the former Saturday Night Live writer into a situation Democrats were not ready to see. The allegation surfaced at the same time people (i.e., liberals and Democrats) were forced to admit they were wrong about Bill Clinton. Their epiphanies don’t mean all that much considering the same people were happy to smear Clinton’s accusers nearly 20 years ago. Still, it was a show of some progress on their part.

And then President Trump decided to tweet about it.

Naturally, Trump sycophants thought it was the greatest thing ever, when it was in fact, a big mistake.

Democrats were scrambling. Publications were calling on Al Franken to resign. Franken’s cynical call for an ethics investigation was a signal he believed he’d get away with it. It was not an honorable move on his part.

What Trump managed to do with two tweets was two-fold:

1. He managed to get called out for saying nothing about Roy Moore who was accused sexually assaulting several women when they were teenagers – one as young as 14.

2. By doing so, he was able to get the press to dredge up the multiple accusations made against him.

It is a textbook example of a person not helping by saying something instead of just shutting up. You can bet that Democrats will now rally around Franken because he showed “contrition” and “apologized.”

Nice work, Mr. President.

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‘WTH Happened This Week’ Podcast: That’s Just Your Opinion, Man.

RedState senior contributor Kimberly Ross and Assistant Editor Andrea Ruth bring to you a summary of news from the week and how RedState covered each issue. This week, contributor Brad Slager joined the show.

Look for our weekly episodes every Saturday morning. You should also definitely subscribe on iTunes and leave a review (5 is our favorite number).

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Trump Abruptly Reverses Decision on Trophy Hunting Imports

This past week I told you about two decisions from the Trump administration that held so much potential for bad news.

Namely, the lifting of the ban on American big game hunters bringing home trophies from elephant or lion hunting in several African nations.

It is my belief that this opens wide the door for poachers, and apparently, I’m not alone.

President Trump has reversed his decision, in the face of intense criticism from conservationists.

Trump took to Twitter to announce his change of heart on Friday evening:

The argument behind allowing the import of elephant or lion body parts, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was that these hunts would attract the wealthy big game hunters (You know, like Trump’s sons) to the game preserves in Africa, and in turn, the money paid for the hunts would help pay for conservation costs.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued his own statement, in regards to the sudden change of heart:

“President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical. As a result, in a manner compliant with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, the issuing of permits is being put on hold as the decision is being reviewed,” he said.

Why the issue wasn’t reviewed before ever lifting the bans may remain a mystery, but I think it’s a better than fair bet to say in big part it was one area where Trump could overturn something put in place by his predecessor, former President Obama, with relative ease.

And while I’m apt to believe that anything Obama did needs to be overturned as swiftly and completely as possible, this is one of those issues that doesn’t need to be dabbled with, simply out of spite.

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