2:34 PM 7/4/2019 – Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠ – In 50 Brief Posts | Trump and Trumpism – Review Of News And Opinions

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2:34 PM 7/4/2019 – Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠ – In 50 Brief Posts

Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠
new anti-personnel weapons laser ultrasound – Google Search
new anti-personnel weapons laser ultrasound – Google Search
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russia laser weapon – Google Search
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russia laser weapon – Google Search
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Trump Tower meeting August 3, 2016 – Google Search
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Trump, Arms sales to Saudi, Arab Interference in Elections 2016, Trump Tower meeting August 3, 2016 – Google Search
Trump, Arms sales to Saudi, Arab Interference in Elections 2016, Trump Tower meeting August 3, 2016 – Google Search
Trump, Arms sales to Saudi, Arab Interference in Elections 2016, Trump Tower meeting August 3, 2016 – Google Search
Trump, Arms sales to Saudi, Arab Interference in Elections 2016, Trump Tower meeting August 3, 2016 – Google Search
Trump, Arms sales to Saudi, Arab Interference in Elections 2016, Trump Tower meeting August 3, 2016 – Google Search
Trump, Arms sales to Saudi, Arab Interference in Elections 2016, Trump Tower meeting August 3, 2016 – Google Search
Trump, Arms sales to Saudi, Arab Interference in Elections 2016, Trump Tower meeting August 3, 2016 – Google Search
Trump, Arms sales to Saudi, Arab Interference in Elections 2016, Trump Tower meeting August 3, 2016 – Google Search
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Trump, Arms sales to Saudi, Arab Interference in Elections 2016, Trump Tower meeting August 3, 2016 – Google Search
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6:55 AM 7/4/2019 – All News Review In 25 Saved Stories: Reporter Who Saw Trump Tax Returns: They Will Expose Him | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC | Trump and Trumpism – Review Of News And Opinions
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Happy Birthday, America! – Google Search

 

Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠
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Thu, 04 Jul 2019 12:51:14 -0400

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Thu, 04 Jul 2019 12:48:31 -0400

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Sonic and ultrasonic weapons (USW) are weapons of various types that use sound to injure, incapacitate, or kill an opponent. Some sonic weapons are currently …

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mikenov on Twitter: 2:34 PM 7/4/2019 – #MichaelNovakhov – #SharedNewsLinks℠ – In 50 Brief Posts trumpandtrumpism.com/2019/07/04/234…

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2:34 PM 7/4/2019 – #MichaelNovakhov – #SharedNewsLinks℠ – In 50 Brief Posts trumpandtrumpism.com/2019/07/04/234…


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mikenov on Twitter: Germany Joins Race to Acquire Laser ‘Weapon of the Future’ – Reports : sputniknews.com/military/20190… via @SputnikInt

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Germany Joins Race to Acquire Laser ‘Weapon of the Future’ – Reports : sputniknews.com/military/20190… via @SputnikInt


Posted by

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on Thursday, July 4th, 2019 4:34pm

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Genderbent rock icon Hedwig isn’t trans, says creator John Cameron Mitchell

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch, John Cameron Mitchell
John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”

If you’ve ever seen John Cameron Mitchell’s most famous film Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001), then you already know that its male-born titular hero undergoes a botched gender reassignment surgery in order to leave communist East Germany as a married woman during the late ’80s. But while many fans see Hedwig as an empowered transgender icon, Mitchell recently said that he doesn’t consider Hedwig as trans at all.

In an interview with Advocate.com, Mitchell said:

In this case, the trauma wasn’t really like a trans choice of finding yourself and defining yourself because the character was raped and mutilated and forced into a gender reassignment against their will, which is not exactly a trans fairy tale.

You know, it’s more like someone having a forced medical procedure from a Communist government. It’s almost like a circumcision against his will.

But then the real transformation comes after that when the music comes in, the writing, the band, the wig, the makeup, the Hedwig persona, which is built after the trauma. Everyone can relate to reinvention, to self-definition, to finding out who you are and letting go of society’s rules about gender.

Hedwig is forced into something by what I call the binarchy, which comes out of the patriarchy. To be a man, you have to do this. To be a woman, you have to do that. To be free, you have to be one or the other.

And so I don’t think of it in any way as a trans statement. It’s a survivor statement. It definitely talks about androgyny as a kind of wholeness. We all have male and female energies. Society defines them differently, but we all have those energies in us. All of us. And the binarchy requires you can define yourself as one or the other, and some more courageous people are saying, “No, I’m myself. I’m a gender of one. I’m nonbinary.”

Indeed, early on into the film, Hedwig’s backing man says that she represents both man and woman, and near the end Hedwig transforms back into her male persona Hansel, so it makes sense to see Hedwig as genderfluid or genderqueer moreso than trans.

Related: Hedwig And The Angry Inch Sequel Might Become TV Miniseries

Though Hedwig remains Mitchell’s most influential creation, in 2017 he released his fourth film, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, a sci-fi punk rock film based on a Neil Gaiman story set in Lindon during the 1970s. He also directed the 2006 explicit sexual fairy tale Shortbus (which is currently unavailable for viewing at theaters for distribution reasons) and the criminally underseen 2010 Rabbit Hole which starred Nicole Kidman as the mother in a straight couple who’s just lost their young son.


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Lights, camera, action! Six queer musical bio pics we’re dying to see made

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gay music icons biopics

After the successes of  Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, it’s no surprise Hollywood is all about the musical biopics.

Related: Yet another queer musical icon is getting a biopic

MGM announced just last week that it was developing a Boy George biopic. This is in addition to the biopic the studio is already developing about Aretha Franklin, with Jennifer Hudson rumored to star.

Related: ‘Rocketman’ director knows which gay icon he wants to do his next music biopic about

Other musical biopics coming down the Hollywood pipeline include one about Judy Garland starring Renee Zellweger, another about David Bowie, and possibly one about Madonna, though that may only be a pipe dream.

Scroll down for six musical biopics about gay icons we’d love to see…

Divine

The drag queen and performance artist, who was born Harris Glenn Milstead, was famed filmmaker John Waters’ muse, appearing in several of his early films. As Milstead’s B-movie career took off, he began touring gay clubs and theaters around the world, performing as Divine and singing empowering disco songs. Milstead was still on the up-and-up when with the release of 1988’s “Hairspay,” which proved to be a hit. Sadly, he died from cardiomegaly, a result of lifelong obesity, shortly after the release of that film. While Milstead/Divine has been profiled in several books and documentaries, he has yet to be the subject of his own biopic.

Billy Preston

Billy Preston performing

The soul singer struggled with accepting his sexuality throughout his life, and didn’t publicly come out as gay until just before his death in 2006. As a child, he played organ for gospel singers Mahalia Jackson and James Cleveland. At 11, he appeared on Nat King Cole’s show to sing Fats Domino’s hit “Blueberry Hill.” And at 16, he released his first album. As an adult, he went on to work with The Beatles, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Little Richard, and Ray Charles. The end of his life was marred with addiction, rehab, relapses, and arrests, and by late ’80s, he had more or less fallen into obscurity. Ultimately, the man known as “The Fifth Beatle” died penniless and alone in a hospital bed, forgotten by all but those who knew him.

Gloria Estefan

Gloria Estefan red background

This one’s a no brainer. The “Conga” singer and LGBTQ rights activist has already turned her story into a hit Broadway jukebox musical On Your Feet!, which has been a crazy international success. The show first premiered in 2015 and has been touring the world nonstop ever since, nabbing all sorts of award nominations and making millions and millions of dollars along the way. Estefan has expressed interest in turning the musical into a movie, so we’re sure it’s just a matter of time.

George Michael

Rumors of a possible George Michael biopic have been swirling for a few years now, with a slew of actors being rumored to be attached–ranging from Ryan Gosling to Keanu Reeves to Justin Bieber. So far, nothing has materialized, and a mysterious IMDB page for the “Untitled George Michael Biopic” offers little insight into the project. But one thing is clear: A biopic about the beloved Wham! singer, who passed away on Christmas Day in 2016, is sorely needed, especially after the latest drama involving his boyfriend, Fadi Fawaz, being left absolutely nothing from Michael’s $98 million will. Drama!

Britney Spears

Lifetime already did an unofficial biopic about the “Toxic” singer starring Natasha Bassett and it was a complete disaster. 2017’s Britney Ever After was denounced by Spears’ camp prior to going into production and, upon its release, panned by critics and audiences alike. Here’s the thing, though: Britney’s life is totally biopic material! The small-town-child-starlet-turned-teeny-bopper-pop-princess-turned-MILF-Vegas-showgirl story with all the crazy paparazzi madness, the quickie marriages, the shaved head, and the court appearances followed by comeback after comeback after comeback is a story that writes itself. In the right hands, and with the right actress, a Britney biopic could be Best Picture material.

RuPaul

Given the fact that everything the drag dignitary touches these days turns to gold, a RuPaul biopic seems inevitable. Ru became a popular fixture on the NYC nightclub scene in the early ’90s. In 1994, he became the first drag queen ever to land a major cosmetics campaign when he was named spokesperson for MAC Cosmetics. From there, he landed his own VH1 talk show called The RuPaul Show, released a number of hit singles and albums, wrote a book, and appeared in dozens of TV shows and movies. Today, he’s one of the the most commercially successful drag queens in the world and his influence continues to grow with RuPaul’s Drag Race, AllStars, and his forthcoming talk show and Netflix comedy series.

BONUS: Cher

Of course, we couldn’t make a list of musical biopics we’re dying to see made and not include Cher. That would just be rude. The living legend recently saw her life turned into a Broadway jukebox musical called The Cher Show, which opened last December and has picked up several awards and nominations, including three 2019 Tony Award noms and three Drama Desk awards. Although, given the fact that Cher’s been at it for almost 60 years now, her biopic might be better suited as a bio-miniseries. But we’d be OK with that.


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Lizzo still wants to be Ursula in ‘The Little Mermaid,’ and she has Twitter bewitched

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Andrew Lipovsky/NBC

We adore Melissa McCarthy as much as the next gay, but the news that she’s circling the part of Ursula in Disney’s upcoming live-action Little Mermaid makes us feel like “Poor Unfortunate Souls” since we live in a world where Lizzo exists.

Related: Lizzo doesn’t fit neatly into any labels, and she’s helping the world to follow suit

After McCarthy’s potential involvement made headlines, the “Juice” singer-slash-rapper-slash-flautist retweeted a video from when she started campaigning for the role — fully dressed in character — way back in November. “I’M URSULA. PERIOD,” she wrote at the time.

And Twitter clearly agrees, including Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo. Just check out all these responses, especially if you work at a certain mouse-eared film studio.

Related: Madonna throws unintentional shade Lizzo’s way in radio interview: “How do you spell her name?”

Juice Anchorman GIF by Lizzo - Find & Share on GIPHY


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mikenov on Twitter: Trump Jr’s 2nd Trump Tower meeting makes the Russia probe more complex – Business Insider businessinsider.com/trump-jr-trump…

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Trump Jr’s 2nd Trump Tower meeting makes the Russia probe more complex – Business Insider businessinsider.com/trump-jr-trump…


Posted by

mikenov
on Thursday, July 4th, 2019 3:02pm

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This big brand didn’t shy away from gay sex appeal: “Top. Bottom. Front. Even the behind”

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Remember those dark days when major brands refused to advertise in gay media, claiming the content was too sexual?

Well, today those same brands are putting rainbows on just about everything, but they still largely shy away from getting too sexual in their campaigns, perhaps fearing a backlash.

Yet Panasonic Corp. this month published an ad in OUT magazine that sounds more like a sassy Grindr profile: “Top. Bottom. Front. Even the behind” for its body trimmer shaver next to a shirtless guy.

It made us wonder if any other advertisers have talked about gay bedroom positions, and it turns out there are several.

Here’s a list of brands going beyond the rainbow to use gay sex to draw consumers, just as they have long done in the hetero market.

1. Panasonic

2. Hotel Nikko, San Francisco

Meanwhile, San Francisco’s luxury Hotel Nikko in Union Square, a regular in gay media for years, once pictured not one but two shirtless torsos hugging, and asked in its ad, “Are you a top or bottom floor?”

3. American Apparel

It was 11 years ago when edgy clothing retailer American Apparel, known for its porn-style ads, ran a quite literally cheeky spread in the sex-positive, queer pink-paper magazine, BUTT.  On the left side were four men’s backsides (one naked) under the title “Bottoms.” On the right side were two men facing forward (one without pants) under “Tops.” (BUTT shuttered in 2011, and American Apparel stores went bankrupt in 2016 but now the brand operates online.)

4. Ginch Conch

Another fashion brand unafraid of referencing sex, Ginch Gonch of Vancouver, decided to illustrate the term “Piggy Bottoms” for its underwear line. It showed four men mud wrestling but wasn’t as revealing as some of its other sexy ads. The brand, of course, has heavy competition from others targeting the gay market, from Calvin Klein to C-IN2.

5. BMW

BMW ran bus shelter ads across the City of Angels with the headline, “Hard Top. Firm Bottom. It’s so L.A.” This time, there were no hunky men, just a convertible car with a retractable hardtop.

6. Subaru

Another car company, this time Subaru Corp., also was brave enough to talk sex metaphorically – but the only one willing to say, “Try me…I’m Versatile!” The ad for its Baja was meant to look like a children’s toy package, and further boosted the double-entendre selling points: “Open bed! Takes all your toys! Tie-down hooks!”

7. Hertz

 

Even The Hertz Corp. rental car company went there, in a gay travel booklet. “See the country from top to bottom,” it says, as two men and their dog sit atop a scenic Western vista.

8. Bud Light

But the earliest advertiser to get into gay positions terminology was Anheuser-Busch for Bud Light. Back in 2000, it ran a print ad with the word-twist headline, “Tops & bottles.”

Tell us which Top/Bottom ad you think is the “Top?”

Michael Wilke has covered LGBT issues in advertising since 1992, is the founder of AdRespect.org, and Senior US Consultant for LGBT marketing and diversity firm Out Now.


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Should we be upset that companies take down their pride logos on July 1?

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rainbow pride flag

Though we could (and should) be proud of our sexualities and gender identities year-round, another pride month has come and gone. And all over the Internet, companies and brands are replacing their rainbow-hued logos with their usual, less flamboyant emblems.

Should we be irritated that companies only show off LGBTQ pride for 30 days of the year?

On Reddit user doesn’t think so. “Please stop complaining about companies taking down their pride logos after June 30,” that user wrote. “It’s so entitled. We are what, like 8 percent of the population? Equality is important, gay rights are important, but why should companies devote their entire existence towards promoting our cause? There are so many different kinds of people who are struggling and need support out there so to me it’s so egocentric and childish to throw a tantrum that companies don’t spend more than a month promoting pride stuff. The world doesn’t revolve around us. We should be grateful that pride is mainstream enough now that companies take even a month to support us.”

Related: Amazon, Nike, and more than 50 major companies fight back against Trump’s anti-transgender policies

That Reddit post inspired dozens of responses — and many of the commenters think the July 1 straightwashing, so to speak, isn’t the point. “The criticism isn’t about them changing their logos,” one user contended. “It’s about them using the logos for PR and not actually remotely supporting us.”

“Support doesn’t always have to be monetary,” a Redditor wrote in response to that point. “Visibility can go a long way. When I was young, you would never ever see the kind of support you see for the LGBTQ community you see today. Yes, they may not have supported us when it was difficult, but it does the community a disservice to alienate and turn away advocation of acceptance.”

“‘Acceptance’ means nothing,” another user chimed in. “Queer liberation is about far, far more than making it so that people feel like it’s safer to come out. It’s about justice, and it is linked to liberation from all other forms of oppression, to which these corporations actively contribute. To a queer person in crushing poverty, ‘acceptance’ of their queerness is the cheapest form of support imaginable.”

Related: Toronto Pride is considering banning all corporate floats

Said another: “The issue is not changing back the logos. It’s its consequences. If I’m a f*cking homophobe all year, I do business with homophobes, sell homophobic sh*t, and when it’s acceptable I disguise myself and ‘yay gays,’ it’s infuriating. And after the gay boom is over, go back to the normal attitude of all the year. People does complain about it, and it should bother everyone. Are they really helping? They could ‘help’ with visibility all they want, but if the other 11 months they’re doing more wrong that good, it doesn’t f*cking matter.”

Once you’ve read these impassioned comments — which, by the way, have been edited for brevity and readability — check out the rest of the conversation on Reddit. And then tell us in the comments below: Are you frustrated when companies take down their rainbows on July 1? And for that matter, do you think companies are walking the walk as they talk the talk of LGBTQ inclusion every June?


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Trump Is Blocking Big Change in the U.S.-Saudi Alliance

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Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
from The Atlantic.

An effort is under way in Washington to fundamentally overhaul, if not end, a decades-old American alliance—but it didn’t come at the direction of the alliance-skeptical Donald Trump. The president, in fact, has paradoxically emerged as the greatest force of resistance to the change.

Fed up with the catastrophic human cost of Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen’s civil war and appalled by the murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Congress seemingly attempts some sort of measure to censure the kingdom every week. Yet at every turn, the White House has blocked or circumvented those moves, standing staunchly by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MbS, while escalating its confrontation with his archenemy, Iran.

The real reckoning in the U.S.-Saudi partnership could come if a Democrat is elected president in 2020, though early warning signs are already visible. Virtually all Democratic lawmakers, along with several Republican members of Congress and various lobbyists, analysts, and former officials, are shunning the Saudis to the point where a visit to Washington, D.C., by MbS, the heir apparent who was welcomed in 2017 and 2018, seems inconceivable anytime soon.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz met aboard the USS Quincy in 1945, neither could have foreseen the cracks that would form in a relationship built on mutual benefit: a steady supply of Saudi oil in exchange for U.S. military protection.

But even the fallout from the September 11 attacks—in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi—did not present the kind of existential challenge evident today. U.S. lawmakers are engaged in numerous efforts to restrict arms sales to the kingdom and hold MbS, along with other top officials, accountable for Khashoggi’s death.

For now, the Saudis are banking on the Trump administration’s allegiance. Yet they acknowledge, or at the very least pay lip service to, their precarious position.

“We in [Saudi Arabia] recognize that the relationship has come under strain recently, but we are working hard on restoring it to what it once was. We realize it’s going to take some time, but we see it as a marathon not a sprint,” a senior Saudi official wrote to us recently on the condition of anonymity to discuss the issue. That’s far from the mea culpa U.S. lawmakers are demanding.

In May, the administration invoked emergency powers to bypass Congress and sell billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, a show of support that nevertheless reflected the administration’s awareness that it would not have been able to get lawmakers to approve the arms sales. The Senate responded by passing several measures to try to prevent the sales—moves remarkable not just for their bipartisan backing, but also for the fact that they came amid heightened tensions with Iran, which Trump cited as grounds for the emergency transactions.

In April, Trump vetoed a resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led military intervention against the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen. He had to take that step because seven Republicans in the Senate and 16 in the House of Representatives had joined nearly every Democrat in both chambers to support the legislation.

Trump, whose first trip abroad as president was to Saudi Arabia, has championed the alliance in part because his administration and the Saudi government are both alarmed by Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons pursuits and support for militant groups in the Middle East. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo focused only on the threats posed by Iran during meetings with the Saudi king and crown prince in Riyadh last week. And while Trump said he raised Khashoggi’s killing with MbS at the G20 summit in Japan, he would not be drawn on the CIA’s intelligence that reportedly concluded with high confidence that the crown prince ordered the journalist’s murder.

But Trump’s motivations for dismissing concerns about the war in Yemen and Khashoggi’s assassination range from the close personal relationship between MbS and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to Riyadh’s plentiful purchases of U.S.-made weapons, which the president argues create American jobs. “You have people wanting to cut off Saudi Arabia. They bought $450 billion” worth of military equipment, Trump declared at a recent campaign rally, greatly inflating the actual figures. “I don’t want to lose them!”

Most Americans, of course, have had negative views of Saudi Arabia since the 9/11 attacks; two-thirds of the public currently view the kingdom unfavorably, Gallup’s highest reading in its three decades of polling on the question.

The big development now is that there’s also serious ferment in the nation’s capital, where Saudi Arabia by one estimate poured more than $40 million into lobbying Congress, the executive branch, think tanks, and media outlets in 2017 and 2018 alone—tripling its spending on influence operations from the last year of Barack Obama’s administration to the first year of the Trump administration. All the Saudis have to show for that money, though, is a rock-solid friend in the White House and an open revolt on Capitol Hill.

“The Saudis used to have really strong bipartisan support in Washington,” Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a Democrat and longtime critic of Riyadh, told us. Now “they are clinging to this alliance simply through the force of the regime’s relationship with one person: Donald Trump.”

“Maybe we have a hard time forcing a reset while Trump is in office,” added Murphy, who has sponsored numerous bills to rein in the security relationship with the Saudis. “But a reset’s coming.”

Conor Friedersdorf: Saudi Arabia first

Republican and Democratic presidents alike have been forced to mostly give Saudi Arabia a free pass on rights abuses and political repression, given the extent to which Washington relies on Riyadh as a stable geopolitical weight in the Middle East.

But several 2020 candidates have made their displeasure clear. Joe Biden, the current front-runner among Democrats vying for the White House, wants out of the war in Yemen and once likened the U.S. partnership with Saudi Arabia to America siding with a “no-good SOB” like Joseph Stalin during World War II. Cory Booker has called for the United States to “reexamine [the] entire relationship” with Riyadh. Elizabeth Warren has slammed Trump for appeasing U.S. defense contractors by not halting the flow of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Pete Buttigieg, in a national-security speech last month, said that on his watch the United States would “remain open” to working with Riyadh for the American people’s benefit. “But,” he added, “we can no longer sell out our deepest values for the sake of fossil-fuel access and lucrative business deals.”

And Bernie Sanders has referred to MbS as a “murderous despot,” included Saudi Arabia in an “axis” of authoritarian powers that he claims Trump is emboldening, and inserted Saudi lobbying in Washington into his signature issue of wealthy special interests corrupting government policy making. Sanders, the sponsor of one of the Senate’s Yemen resolutions, questions “whether the basic bargain that was made between FDR and the Saudi king back in 1945,” of “security for oil,” still holds, says his foreign-policy adviser, Matt Duss.

Nonetheless, it’s “not necessarily productive” to “flip over the table on the U.S.-Saudi relationship” at the outset of a new administration, Duss adds, noting that Sanders recognizes that elements of the relationship, such as intelligence sharing, remain important and that the stability of oil markets has an impact on the U.S. economy.

Asked how worried the Saudis are about the future of the alliance should a Democrat be elected in 2020, the senior Saudi official said that the relationship is “institutional,” and that Democratic and Republican presidential candidates tend to change their campaign position on Saudi Arabia once they’re in office and understand “our economic cooperation, coordination of oil policies, and our partnership in countering terrorism” and Iran.

This time, however, campaign broadsides may not give way to business as usual. United Nations and U.S. assessments have implicated the crown prince himself in the murder of Khashoggi—who was a U.S. permanent resident—constituting a brazen betrayal of the alliance, “the equivalent of a spouse cheating in the marriage,” says Representative Ro Khanna of California, a Democrat and leading proponent in the House of ending U.S. military involvement in Yemen. “The marriage may recover and survive, but it will never be the same.” The Saudis are “not going to be an enemy” of the United States, he adds, “but I certainly think [they] have lost their status as an ally.”

Peter Beinart: Even Democrats keep thinking Iran is worse than Saudi Arabia

The Khashoggi killing has not just angered members of Congress, but also prompted some lobbying firms and think tanks to reject Saudi funding. Saudi leaders recognize that the damage done to relations with the United States by the incident “is worse than 9/11” in terms of the toll taken on the alliance, says Firas Maksad of the Arabia Foundation, a Washington-based think tank familiar with Saudi officials’ thinking, who met with Saudi officials during a visit to Riyadh in March. (Riyadh denies the crown prince’s role in Khashoggi’s killing. The senior Saudi official highlighted the government’s efforts to bring those behind Khashoggi’s murder to justice, but these steps haven’t satisfied many U.S. lawmakers.)

While the Treasury and State Departments have sanctioned more than a dozen Saudi officials for their involvement in the Khashoggi killing, these actions also fall far short of the punitive measures against those in the highest ranks of the Saudi government that many in Congress are demanding.

The GOP rebellion is real, if limited. Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s top allies in the Senate, hasn’t supported all anti-Saudi efforts in Congress, but he has nevertheless been extremely critical of MbS. Graham and other Republicans, such as Senator Todd Young of Indiana, have backed a sweeping bill that would mandate sanctions on any Saudi official found responsible for Khashoggi’s murder and seek to restrain Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Most Republicans, however, are sticking with the kingdom as a bulwark against Iran.

Occasionally, however, the administration has succumbed to pressure from Congress. Last year it halted U.S. refueling of Saudi-coalition aircraft involved in the Yemen conflict. And, as Murphy pointed out to us, earlier this year Trump quietly signed a budget bill that prohibits assistance to Saudi Arabia through a military-training program. That assistance had qualified the Saudis for discounts on purchases of additional U.S. military training.

“There are limits to what Congress can do when it comes to rightsizing a bilateral relationship,” especially when only “a handful of Republicans” are willing to vote with Democrats, Murphy said. “We can set boundaries. But we can’t do day-to-day management.” These limits, though, might disappear if a Democrat succeeds Trump in the White House.

Saudi officials look at the chorus of criticism from American politicians and complain that the kingdom “is guilty by association in Washington because of having cultivated a close relationship with Donald Trump,” and that it has become a “political football” between the president and his opponents, Maksad notes.

Read: Do liberals have an answer to Trump on foreign policy?

Duss, the Sanders adviser, acknowledges that the Democrat-led push to rein in the Saudis isn’t just a policy dispute. “Trump, just by being Trump, has created a political incentive for questioning the relationship,” he says. “But it’s an opening to have a really important and long-overdue discussion. We started to have it after 9/11, then it kind of went nowhere.”

Trump’s approach is to “align with this growing Saudi, Emirati, Israeli, anti-Iran conception of the region, and [Sanders] is very much of a different view,” Duss said, speaking with us in March before the spike in hostilities with Iran. “We have serious problems with a lot of what Iran is doing in the region, what they are doing with their own population, but the idea that we’re going to achieve our own goals or stability in the region through conflict with Iran is bonkers.” That conflict almost erupted last month, after Iran shot down a U.S. drone, but was averted—for now—when Trump called off planned strikes on Iranian targets.

The president’s loyalty to Riyadh seems to stem in part from his desire to reverse the foreign policy of Obama, who was criticized for trying to reconcile with Iran at the expense of Saudi Arabia. Obama negotiated a nuclear deal with Iran and was deeply ambivalent about the alliance with Saudi Arabia, but he avoided upending the partnership—suggesting that he wouldn’t have broken off relations with the Saudis were he still president under today’s circumstances.

“The narrative that Obama was abandoning Saudi Arabia was kind of bullshit to begin with,” Murphy observed. “He sold them more weapons than anybody else sold them, and he was willing to support this war in Yemen.”

“I think it’s really dangerous to be in business with Mohammed bin Salman. I think he’s a reckless, destabilizing force in the Middle East,” Murphy said, using language that Trump’s camp often applies to Iran. “Saudi Arabia will remain an ally,” he predicted, in regard to what policy toward the kingdom could look like in a Democratic administration. But “we will be more careful in the nature of the military relationship and less willing to follow them into battle,” he added, advocating scaled-back arms sales that exclude offensive weapons.

Read: Democrats couldn’t agree on top national-security threats

Asked to respond to lawmakers who say they no longer want to work with MbS, the senior Saudi official said, “Our leadership is a red line, with all due respect to U.S. lawmakers, but the succession in the kingdom is strictly a domestic affair.” The official added that “it is unimaginable to go in a different direction” now that King Salman has appointed the crown prince as his successor.

Democrats and other American critics of MbS need to acknowledge that the 33-year-old crown prince is firmly entrenched in power and will be the one dealing with any future U.S. president, Maksad argues. But the Saudis, for their part, have not launched “a concerted, thought-out strategic effort” to reach out to these detractors, particularly since the aftermath of the Khashoggi killing left the Saudi embassy in D.C. without an ambassador. (The new ambassador, Princess Reema bint Bandar, is set to start her post soon.)

There is some concern among Saudi watchers that the kingdom has staked too much on its personal relationship with Trump and that U.S. support for the alliance could crater if he’s not reelected, Maksad says.

But the Saudis are reassured by the notion that as a behemoth in the oil markets, a strategic ally in the struggle against Iran, and an arbiter in the war of ideas in the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia is too powerful a player to be overlooked, no matter who is in power in the United States. “Ultimately, the relationship is too important (for the world) to fail,” the senior Saudi official wrote to us.

Asked what it would take for MbS and other Saudi leaders to be received more favorably in Washington, Murphy said they would need to act as the “instigator” for a peace agreement in Yemen rather than a “roadblock” and curb repression of political dissidents.

“Presidents come and go, but nations that have stable relationships and strong relationships with the United States” need to retain support in Congress, Khanna argues, citing U.S. alliances with Britain, France, India, and Israel as examples: “Why I would be so concerned if I were the Saudis is they’ve lost that foundational support.”


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What happens to all the rainbow-colored merchandise after Pride ends?

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H&M, rainbow capitalism, Pride

During Pride month, companies are so hungry for pink dollars that they’ll slap rainbows on all sorts of products: sneakers, potato chips and even bottles of mouthwash. But what happens to unsold rainbow-colored merchandise when Pride month ends?

Vox.com looked into this question and concluded, “Pride gear doesn’t behave quite like Halloween candy.” That is, it doesn’t all get heavily discounted the day after Pride ends. 

Some retailers do discount these items, but others, like Nike, continue selling them online at full price. Other shrewd individuals will buy up lots of Pride gear, clothing in particular, and try to sell them as limited-edition collectors’ items at high prices on Ebay and other online sites — the more popular the item or brand, the higher the price.

Target told Vox.com that it plans to donate all its unsold rainbow-colored clothing to charity, but it declined to say which one. Bud Light said it will continue selling its rainbow-colored cans at bars until they’re all sold. Several clothing brands — like American Apparel, H&M, Lucky Brand, Toms, Asos and Bombas — will continue selling their Pride apparel until it runs out as well; many of them will continue to donate the proceeds to various LGBTQ charities.

Meanwhile, several brands — like American Eagle, Diesel, Gap, Nordstrom, Reebok and Zappos — didn’t reveal what they’ll do with all their Pride gear. And other retailers, most notably pro-sports franchises and smaller online clothing retailers, sell their rainbow apparel year-round, not just for their love of community but because it sells.

And for those of us who tire at seeing our colorful symbol of unity slapped on everything, especially by companies that continue donating to anti-LGBTQ politicians, consider this wisely-worded recent tweet by playwright Claire Willett:

“It’s not nothing to have moved the needle so far that companies have decided the big money is on the side of pandering to us instead of to the people who hate us.”


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