• Politics
    The Week

    Trump inadvertently boosts Biden's stimulus messaging with another statement raging against McConnell

    Former President Donald Trump has released a new post-presidency statement, and Democrats might just be glad he did. The former president, who remains permanently banned from Twitter, released a statement Thursday once again raging against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), blasting him as the "most unpopular politician in the country" while blaming him for Republicans' Senate losses in Georgia — losses for which Trump himself has been blamed by other Republicans. One of the reasons Republicans lost the two Georgia Senate runoffs in January, Trump argues, was "Mitch McConnell's refusal to go above $600 per person on the stimulus check payments when the two Democrat opponents were touting $2,000 per person in ad after ad." The statement offered "quite the pre-stimulus political gift to Democrats," wrote National Journal's Josh Kraushaar, while The Washington Post's Dave Weigel noted that Trump "remarkably" used this opportunity to "validate Biden's messaging on the $1,400 checks instead of whacking him and Democrats for curtailing them." Remarkably, Trump also uses this statement to validate Biden's messaging on the $1400 checks instead of whacking him and Democrats for curtailing them. "The $2000 will be approved anyway by the Democrats." https://t.co/M9dXoX13VS — Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) March 4, 2021 Indeed, Trump writes that "the $2,000 will be approved anyway by the Democrats," while offering no comment on the fact that the new checks are actually for $1,400, nor on Biden's recent compromise that narrows the eligibility. Politico's Gabby Orr observed that Trump "could have put out a statement saying the income phase-outs in the Biden stimulus bill are going to mean he gave checks to more Americans," but "instead he's still targeting his own party with stuff like this." This was just Trump's latest statement in this vein after he released another one last month describing McConnell as an "unsmiling political hack." He also mentioned McConnell in a recent Conservative Political Action Conference speech, in which he took credit for McConnell's recent re-election. McConnell told Fox News he "didn't watch" the speech and that "we're dealing with the present and the future, not looking back to the past." More stories from theweek.com7 scathingly funny cartoons about Trump's CPAC appearanceTrump wants revenge on Alaska's Sen. Murkowski. His advisers think he won't follow through because the flight is too long. The Republican grievance perpetual motion machine

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  • Celebrity
    SPIN

    Tom Morello Hits Back at Accusation of ‘White Privilege’: ‘I’m Not White’

    Rage Against the Machine guitarist/activist Tom Morello is usually a man of many words but in a response to a Twitter user who accused him of "white man privilege" on Wednesday, he gave a simple answer to the accusation. His reply? "I’m not white." The guitarist sent the message to Twitter user…

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  • Celebrity
    Reuters

    Japan's tsunami survivors call lost loves on the phone of the wind

    Inside, Kazuyoshi Sasaki carefully dials his late wife Miwako's cellphone number, bending his large frame and cradling the handset. He explains how he searched for her for days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami a decade ago, visiting evacuation centres and makeshift morgues, returning at night to the rubble of their home. Sasaki's wife was one of nearly 20,000 people in northeastern Japan killed by the disaster that struck on March 11, 2011.

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  • U.S.
    The Conversation

    Why white supremacists and QAnon enthusiasts are obsessed – but very wrong – about the Byzantine Empire

    Inspiration for a mob of angry white men? Getty ImagesFrom Charlottesville to the Capitol, medieval imagery has been repeatedly on show at far-right rallies and riots in recent years. Displays of Crusader shields and tattoos derived from Norse and Celtic symbols are of little surprise to medieval historians like me who have long documented the appropriation of the Middle Ages by today’s far right. But amid all the expected Viking imagery and nods to the Crusaders has been another dormant “medievalism” that has yet to be fully acknowledged in reporting on both the far right and conspiracy theorist movements: the Byzantine Empire. Byzantium – or more properly, the medieval Roman Empire – controlled much of the Mediterranean at the height of its territorial rule in the mid-sixth century. Centered in modern-day Istanbul from A.D. 330 to 1453, its capital of Constantinople was a thriving intellectual, political and military power. One of its crowning achievements, the church of Hagia Sophia, is a testament to the empire’s architectural and artistic prowess. The Hagia Sofia stands as a testament to Byzantium’s achievements. Salvator Barki/Getty Images But in the Western world, the Byzantine Empire has been largely overlooked and forgotten. High school students in the United States are likely to know little about the empire. And nowadays, the word “byzantine” has simply come to mean complicated, secret and bureaucratic. This lowering of its status isn’t entirely a new process. As far back as 1776, English historian Edward Gibbon was disparagingly referring to the empire’s inhabitants as “the servile and effeminate Greeks of Byzantium.” A ‘New Byzantium’ Despite this modern disdain for Byzantium in the West, it has recently served as an inspiration to various factions of the far right. In September 2017, Jason Kessler, an American neo-Nazi who helped organize the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, inaugurated a new supremacist group called “The New Byzantium” project. Described by Kessler as “a premier organization for pro-white advocacy in the 21st century,” The New Byzantium is based on the white supremacist leader’s misrepresentation of history. His premise is that when Rome fell, the Byzantine Empire went on to preserve a white-European civilization. This isn’t true. In reality the empire was made up of diverse peoples who walked the streets of its capital, coming from as far away as Nubia, Ethiopia, Syria and North Africa. Contemporaneous sources noted – at times with disdain – the racial and ethnic diversity of both Constantinople and the empire’s emperors. But Kessler’s “New Byzantium” is intended to preserve white dominance after what he calls “the inevitable collapse of the American Empire.” The organization has been operating under the radar since 2017 with little online footprint. The original ‘deep state’ Kessler isn’t alone in appropriating the empire. Through my research, I have monitored references of Byzantium in online forums. Mentions of Byzantium are scattered across message boards frequented by both white supremacists and QAnon enthusiasts – who spout conspiracy theories about a deep-state cabal of Satan-worshipping, blood-drinking pedophiles running the world. Across 8kun and other online platforms I have reviewed, the Byzantine Empire is discussed as either continuing the legacy of Rome after it was, in their understanding, “destroyed by the Jews” or being the only true empire, with Rome being merely a historical myth created to degrade Byzantium’s power and importance. This latter story emerges in a QAnon thread on “Baking” – that is, the connecting and weaving together of drops (messages) by the enigmatic Q. One post states: “It all makes sense when you learn that the books of the bible are plagiarized copies of the chronology of Byzantium, and so is the mythical Roman Empire, that never existed in Italy but was in fact centered in Constantinople.” Other QAnon commentators across message boards and Twitter speak of the “exiled throne of Byzantium,” noting, “the Empire never went away, it just went occult.” They exclaim “Long live Byzantium” and call for a “return to Byzantium” to save people from the satanists. Oddly, while some hold up the Byzantine Empire as the vanguard of white supremacy, a smaller group of white supremacists and conspiracy theorists sees it as “the original Deep State.” In some renditions, Byzantium is, by way of some hazy illuminati connections, the origins of the “deep state” – the myth of an underground cabal of elites who run the world in secret. It has persisted in secrecy since Constantinople’s fall, either trading in eunuchs on the clandestine market or preserving whiteness and Christianity, depending on the thread’s negative or positive outlook on the empire. Reconquest of Hagia Sophia For many on the far right, talk of Byzantium is cloaked in Islamophobia – both online and in tragic real-life events. A white supremacist who killed more than 50 worshippers at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019 railed against the Turks and the conquest of Constantinople in a 74-page manifesto. “We are coming for Constantinople, and we will destroy every mosque and minaret in the city. The Hagia Sophia will be free of minarets and Constantinople will be rightfully Christian owned once more,” the shooter wrote. Throughout QAnon message boards, the reconquest of Hagia Sophia is emblematic of the destruction of Islam and the restoration of a mythic white Byzantium. One post stated: “When we free Constantinople and the Hagia Sophia, maybe we can talk.” ‘Third Rome’ This “reconquest” of Constantinople had even been tied in some online posts to the presidency of Donald Trump, with images circulated online seemingly prophesying that it would happen under his tenure. In one image, Trump is seen congratulating Russian President Vladimir Putin “on the retaking of Constantinople” and shaking hands in front of what is presumably meant to be the Hagia Sophia, though is actually the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque. Putin himself is not averse to drawing on the symbolism of Byzantium. The Russian state has long tried to position itself as the rightful successor to the Byzantine Empire, with Moscow as the “Third Rome.” This forms part of a religious and political doctrine tied to Russian territorial expansion that can be traced back as far as the late 15th century. The far-right appropriation of Byzantium in the U.S. appears to be influenced by this Russian interpretation. Indeed, Russian proponents of the “Third Rome” doctrine have been cited as influences by prominent figures on the American right. No matter the provenance of the recent interest in Byzantium from America’s white supremacists and conspiracy theorists, one thing is clear: It is based on a very warped idea of the Byzantine Empire that has emerged out of the empire’s fraught place in our histories, caught between ancient and medieval, spirituality and bureaucracy. [Over 100,000 readers rely on The Conversation’s newsletter to understand the world. Sign up today.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Roland Betancourt, University of California, Irvine. Read more:Why Hagia Sophia remains a potent symbol of spiritual and political authoritySacred violence is not yet ancient history – beating it will take human action, not divine intervention Roland Betancourt does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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  • U.S.
    NextShark

    High School Teacher's Nose and Teeth Damaged After Being Attacked With a 'Rock' in Seattle Chinatown

    A Japanese American woman ended up with a fractured nose and chipped teeth after she was struck with a hard object in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District last week. The incident, which was caught on surveillance video, occurred while Noriko Nasu and her boyfriend, Michael Poffenbarger, were walking near 7th and King Streets around 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 25. Police records say a male suspect struck Nasu in the face with what felt like a rock in a sock.

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  • Politics
    The Week

    Trump wants revenge on Alaska's Sen. Murkowski. His advisers think he won't follow through because the flight is too long.

    Don't bet on former President Donald Trump traveling to campaign against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — and not because of any sudden change of heart. A new report from The Washington Post discusses the Alaska Republican's influence during President Biden's administration, as well as the fact that Trump is "vowing publicly and privately to work to oust her" as she seeks a fourth Senate term in 2022. Murkowski was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, and she's reportedly "higher on his list of enemies" than other lawmakers, coming in just under Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) At the same time, the Post reports that while Trump "does want to spend money against" Murkowski, some "people in his circle doubt, though, that he will be as much of a potent force in the race because traveling to campaign against her would require such a long flight, which Trump generally avoids." There's also the fact that, the Post says, Trump's advisers "recognize the complexity of winning in Alaska," which uses ranked-choice voting, though the report adds that it's likely Murkowski will face pro-Trump opposition in the race in some form. Trump recently went after Murkowski during his first speech since leaving office at the Conservative Political Action Conference, naming her while he slammed a series of Republican "grandstanders" and called on supporters to "get rid of them all." Murkowski has defended her vote to impeach Trump, saying she couldn't "be afraid of" the political repercussions and that if Alaska voters decide that "because I did not support my party that I can no longer serve them in the United States Senate, then so be it." More stories from theweek.com7 scathingly funny cartoons about Trump's CPAC appearanceTrump inadvertently boosts Biden's stimulus messaging with another statement raging against McConnellThe Republican grievance perpetual motion machine

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