Stranger Buys Plane Ticket For Army Soldier Struggling To Get Home For Memorial Day

Stranger Buys Plane Ticket For Army Soldier Struggling To Get Home For Memorial Day

Huffington Post Politics

A simple gesture turned into a defining moment for Josh Rainey from Glendale, Missouri.

The good Samaritan spotted a young soldier waiting to fly standby at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport ahead of Memorial Day weekend, several news outlets reported. What Rainey didn’t know was that 19-year-old U.S. Army soldier Keaton Tilson, who is stationed in Fort Hood, had been trying to fly standby for two days. It was the first trip Tilson would make home since leaving at Christmas. The soldier was not given approval to travel for the weekend until the last minute.

Rainey noticed Tilson and offered to trade plane tickets so the soldier could fly instead, according to local news station KVTI. Airport staff said such a switch was not possible since there were other customers on the standby list ahead of the soldier. 

After calling his wife to discuss, Rainey purchased a $341 ticket to St. Louis, Missouri, so Tilson could be reunited with his family. 

Tilson’s mom told ABC News she wanted to thank Rainey publicly. “He called back a few minutes later all choked up and said, ‘Somebody just bought my ticket,’” Jennifer Tilson said.

Triple A described this year’s Memorial Day Weekend as the busiest one since 2005, estimating that 39.3 million Americans would travel 50 miles or more away from home. The travel company also reported that airfares during the weekend were on average 9 percent higher. But Rainer insisted the cost of the ticket did not matter. 

“He walked away and came back and asked if he could hug me, and I think we both had to fight back the tears after that,” Rainey told KVTI.

Watch the video above for more.

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Even ‘Doctor Who’ Is Trolling Trump Now

Even ‘Doctor Who’ Is Trolling Trump Now

Huffington Post Politics

The popular BBC sci-fi show “Doctor Who” took a not-so-subtle jab at President Donald Trump in its latest episode. 

Early in “The Pyramid At The End Of The World,” the secretary-general of the United Nations asks the Doctor’s companion Bill (played by Pearl Mackie), for help finding the president. 

“How would I know the president? I mean, I wouldn’t have even voted for him,” she replied. “He’s… orange.”

As it turns out, the secretary-general wasn’t looking for President Donald Trump, but rather another leader: The Doctor himself, played by Peter Capaldi, who is president of the Earth. 

“Doctor Who” fans on Twitter seemed to love the jab:

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Kentucky Newspaper’s Windows Shattered Amid Rising Anti-Press Climate

Kentucky Newspaper’s Windows Shattered Amid Rising Anti-Press Climate

Huffington Post Politics

The Lexington Herald-Leader is staying “vigilant” after several of its windows were shattered Sunday morning, Editor Peter Baniak said Monday.

Police believe the damage is consistent with small-caliber bullet fire. No one was hurt in the incident, and authorities are investigating it as criminal mischief, the Herald-Leader reported.

“We need to keep doing what we do because it’s that important,” Baniak told HuffPost, adding that the paper’s staff “can’t be deterred from doing the work that we do because of an act of vandalism.”

The motive of the perpetrator, or perpetrators, is still unknown. But Sunday’s crime occurred amid increasing anti-press rhetoric and even some violence against members of the media.

Montana Republican Greg Gianforte attacked journalist Ben Jacobs Wednesday before going on to win a Congressional election Thursday. Jacobs was the fourth reporter to either be manhandled or arrested in May for questioning candidates and public officials.

Baniak urged caution Monday against assuming the motive for Sunday’s crime. “We at the Herald-Leader want to be cautious about speculating and we don’t want to connect the dots until there are dots to be connected,” he said. 

Still, Baniak told HuffPost that “it is difficult not to be concerned given some of the rhetoric, both nationally and here in Kentucky.”

President Donald Trump, who ran the most anti-press presidential campaign in recent memory, has continued trying to delegitimize the press in office. On Sunday he again took a page from from Stalin in labeling the “fake news” media as the “enemy.”

In Kentucky, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin last week called journalists “cicadas” as part of his ongoing feud with the press. 

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George Takei Dismantles Racist, Sexist Criticism Of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’

George Takei Dismantles Racist, Sexist Criticism Of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’

Huffington Post Politics

CBS released a trailer earlier this month for its upcoming “Star Trek: Discovery,” the first television series in the franchise since “Star Trek: Enterprise” ended in 2005. 

The trailer excited many fans, but it also led to a familiar anger, as many people decried the casting of Michelle Yeoh, an Asian woman, as the ship’s captain and Sonequa Martin-Green, a black woman, as the ship’s first officer.

The trailer for “Star Trek: Discovery”

“Enough with your racial and gender quotas Hollywood,” one commenter wrote. Many others wrote similar comments, much of it even more vile. 

On Sunday, George Takei, who played the iconic character Hikaru Sulu in the original “Star Trek” series and multiple movies, joined MSNBC’s “AM Joy” to discuss the views of people who believe the Star Trek franchise is being tainted in an attempt to diversify the cast. 

On the show, he quickly and swiftly dismantled the criticisms, exposing the critics as ignorant of the intentions of creator Gene Roddenberry.

“Today in this society we have alien life forms that we call trolls,” he said. “And these trolls carry on without knowing what they’re talking about and knowing even less about the history of what they’re talking about.”

“Now these so-called trolls haven’t seen a single episode of the new series, because it hasn’t been aired,” he continued. “And they don’t know the history of Star Trek [either] … [Star Trek creator] Gene Roddenberry created this with the idea of finding strength in our diversity ― and also the delight of life in diversity.”

He then added: “We had a guiding acronym ― IDIC ― which stood for infinite diversity in infinite combinations. We boldly went where we hadn’t gone before because we were curious about what’s out there. And when you go out into space you are going to have even greater diversity.”

During the interview, Takei also compared the ignorance of these “trolls” to the recent actions of President Donald Trump, whom he described as “ignorant” when it comes to issues of Japanese internment, which affected Takei’s family during WWII. 

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Texas Lawmaker Calls ICE On Group Protesting Anti-Immigrant Law

Texas Lawmaker Calls ICE On Group Protesting Anti-Immigrant Law

Huffington Post Politics

A Republican lawmaker in Texas responded to protests over an anti-immigrant law restricting sanctuary city policies by calling U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on the participants. 

State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R) said in a statement that he called ICE because several of the protesters, who filled the Texas House gallery and briefly drowned out proceedings with loud chanting, held signs saying, “I am illegal and here to stay.”

“We called law enforcement trying to incentivize them to leave the House,” Rinaldi told the Texas Tribune. “They were disrupting. They were breaking the law.” 

Reports of the call to ICE surfaced because Rinaldi, who did not return a request for comment from HuffPost, approached members of the House’s Mexican American Legislative Caucus on Monday to repeatedly tell them he made the call, several members said at a press conference.

“Fuck them, I called ICE,” Rinaldi allegedly said, according to Rep. Ramon Romero Jr. (D).

“For us, this looks like the fabric of Texas, and this looks like Texans exercising their First Amendment right against a law that they perceive to be hateful and unjust,” Rep. Rafael Anchía (D), chairman of the caucus, said about the diverse group of protesters. “That is a cornerstone of our democracy.”

“To others, I guess it appeared like a group of undocumented persons in the gallery somehow doing something unlawful who need to be deported. Those were some of the words used by Representative Rinaldi,” Anchía continued.

Rinaldi’s comments to the Democratic lawmakers caused a tense moment on the House floor Monday. Rinaldi said in his statement that one lawmaker assaulted him and another, Rep. Poncho Nevárez (D), threatened him with violence.

Rinaldi said he “made it clear” to Nevárez that he would shoot him in self-defense if Nevárez acted on the threat. Rep. Philip Cortez (D) attested that Rinaldi spoke in the direction of Nevárez and said, “I’ll put a bullet in your head.”

The moment came on the last day of Texas’ legislative session after some of the caucus members spoke in solidarity with the few hundred protesters who filled the House gallery to voice their displeasure with the law

Authorities broke up the protest Monday and eventually cleared the gallery. Outside, protesters continued to sing and chant.

Activists have continued to fight against Senate Bill 4, which targets so-called sanctuary cities that enact policies to protect immigrants, even after it was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) this month. It is set to go into effect in September. Cities that don’t cooperate with ICE requests to detain an undocumented immigrant will face fines, and local officials who violate the law could be sent to jail.

The law, which follows President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and threats to withhold funding from sanctuary cities, was opposed by a number of law enforcement agencies and has been criticized for undermining trust in police and putting Hispanics at risk for racial profiling.

“I think you finally [heard] some honesty from some members of the legislature, who really do believe that Latinos should be deported from the United States, be they citizens or noncitizens alike,” Anchía said Monday.

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Tillerson Declines Request To Host Ramadan Event

Tillerson Declines Request To Host Ramadan Event

Huffington Post Politics

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declined a request to host an event to mark Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, two U.S. officials said, apparently breaking with a bipartisan tradition in place with few exceptions for nearly 20 years.

Since 1999, Republican and Democratic secretaries of state have nearly always hosted either an iftar dinner to break the day’s fast during Ramadan or a reception marking the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the month, at the State Department.

Tillerson turned down a request from the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host an Eid al-Fitr reception as part of Ramadan celebrations, said two U.S. officials who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

According to an April 6 memo seen by Reuters, the office – which typically initiates such events – recommended that Tillerson hold an Eid al-Fitr reception.

His rejection of the request suggests there are no plans this year for any high-profile Ramadan function at the State Department. The month of fasting and prayer for Muslims gets under way in many countries on Saturday.

When asked by Reuters to comment on Tillerson declining a request to host an Eid al-Fitr event in July for Ramadan, a State Department spokesperson said:

“We are still exploring possible options for observance of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan. U.S. ambassadors are encouraged to celebrate Ramadan through a variety of activities, which are held annually at missions around the world.”

Muslim activists have accused President Donald Trump’s administration of having an unfriendly attitude toward Islam, encapsulated by its attempts to ban citizens of several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

The administration says that while it strongly opposes Islamist militants, it has no quarrel with Islam. Aides point to Trump’s visit this month to Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam where he addressed the leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries, as evidence of that.

Members of Congress, Muslim civil society and community leaders, diplomats from Muslim countries and senior U.S. officials usually attend the State Department Ramadan event, a symbol of the U.S. government’s diplomatic efforts with Muslim countries and people.

 

If Tillerson avoids hosting one this year, that could send a message “that it is not as important to this administration to engage with Muslims,” said former U.S. diplomat Farah Pandith, who served in the Bush and Obama administrations and helped plan Ramadan events at the White House and State Department.

Tillerson issued a statement on Friday to mark the start of Ramadan, which he called “a month of reverence, generosity, and self-reflection.”

“Most importantly, it is a cherished time for family and friends to gather and give charity to those who are less fortunate,” he said.

PAST RAMADANS

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright started the tradition 18 years ago of America’s top diplomat hosting a public event for Ramadan, a lunar month.

The secretary of state of the time usually gives remarks there on the meaning of Ramadan.

In April, the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs made a request to Tillerson’s office that he deliver remarks at an Eid al-Fitr reception this year, and suggested a two-week range of dates in July. The event would serve to “highlight State Department initiatives and the importance of Muslim engagement,” the memo said.

It noted that by hosting a reception just after Ramadan, rather than an iftar – an often sumptuous dinner at sunset – a State Department event could be held any time of the day, thus preventing “a very late evening for the Secretary.”

Several weeks later, that office and other offices at the State Department were alerted that Tillerson declined the request, the officials said.

Reuters was told of the request being declined but did not see Tillerson’s reply. An official with the Office of Religion and Global Affairs did not respond to a request for comment.

Several prominent Muslim-American groups in the Washington area who are normally invited to the Ramadan event told Reuters this week that they had yet to receive an invitation from the State Department, which they said was unusual.

“If they’re having one, we haven’t been invited,” said Rabiah Ahmed, spokeswoman for the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington. A representative for her group has been invited to the State Department event in the past, she said.

 

FRAUGHT RELATIONSHIP

Trump’s administration has had a fraught relationship with Muslims. As a presidential candidate, the Republican urged a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, called for more surveillance of mosques and warned that radical Muslims were “trying to take over our children.”

Trump has since toned down his rhetoric and courts have halted his temporary travel ban on people from six mostly Muslim countries.

White House officials did not respond to a request for comment on whether they would continue the tradition this year of hosting a Ramadan-related event at the White House.

The State Department celebrates other religious traditions though some of those commemorations are not as well-established as the State Department’s Ramadan event. In 2014, then-secretary of state John Kerry hosted the first ever celebration at the State Department marking Diwali, the Hindu festival.

The White House also traditionally hosts annual Christmas and Easter events as well as a Seder dinner to mark the Jewish Passover.

The top U.S. diplomat has personally hosted a Ramadan event every year since 1999, often in the State Department’s grand Benjamin Franklin room, apart from three years.

In 2006 and 2015, deputies of the secretary of state at the time hosted either an iftar dinner or an Eid al-Fitr reception. In 2014, Kerry hosted a reception for Eid al-Adha, another important Muslim holiday.

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Jared Kushner Probably Isn’t Going To Save The Paris Climate Deal

Jared Kushner Probably Isn’t Going To Save The Paris Climate Deal

Huffington Post Politics

If you thought Ivanka and Jared Kushner were the best hope for preserving United States’ participation in the Paris climate agreement, sorry.

There’s been lots of talk that President Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law would emerge as primary advocates for maintaining the U.S. commitment to the global agreement on addressing climate change. But not much public evidence has surfaced supporting that case. And in Monday’s lengthy New York Times piece about Kushner’s role in the White House, there’s this:

Mr. Kushner appears to be modifying his centrist stances. Instead of urging the president to keep the United States in the Paris climate accord, as he sought to months ago, he has come to believe the standards in the agreement need to be changed, a person close to him said.

Trump has delayed a decision on the Paris agreement. On Saturday he tweeted that he would make a final determination next week ― after he butted heads with European leaders over climate change last week at the G7 meeting of major industrialized democracies.

 

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Teen Targeted In Portland Hate Attack Thanks Men Who Died Defending Her

Teen Targeted In Portland Hate Attack Thanks Men Who Died Defending Her

Huffington Post Politics

Destinee Mangum, one of the teenage girls at the center of a stabbing attack in Portland, Oregon, has shared an emotional message of gratitude for the men who died trying to stop a man who was harassing her.

Mangum, 16, was riding a MAX train Friday with a 17-year-old-friend who is Muslim and was wearing a hijab, according to The Oregonian, when a man later identified as Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, allegedly began verbally abusing the two girls.

Two men, Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, intervened on the girls’ behalf and were fatally stabbed. A third man who confronted Christian, 21-year-old Micah David-Cole Fletcher, survived the attack.

In tears, Mangum told Fox affiliate KPTV this weekend that she wanted “to say thank you to the people who put their life on the line for me, because they didn’t even know me.” 

“They lost their lives because of me and my friend and the way we looked,” Mangum continued. “I just want to say thank you to them and their family, and I appreciate them, because without them we probably would be dead right now.”

Best and Namkai-Meche have received a wave of tributes from friends, family and strangers describing them as heroes for their selfless action.

“They were attacked because they did the right thing,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “Their actions were brave and selfless and should serve as an example and inspiration to us all.”

Christian is known to authorities as a white supremacist and has previously been convicted of several felonies, according to the Portland Mercury. Before the attack, he was “ranting and raving,” Portland police spokesman Pete Simpson said.

A witness told KATU-TV that Christian had said to the girls, “Get off the bus, and get out of the country because you don’t pay taxes here.”

Mangum shared a similar account with KPTV, saying the man had told them to get out of the country and to “go back to Saudi Arabia.”

“He was just telling us that we basically weren’t anything and that we should kill ourselves,” she said.

She and her friend had decided to move to a different part of the train because they were scared and then strangers jumped in to stand up to their harasser, Mangum told the news station.

Christian was booked into a local jail Saturday and has been charged with offenses including two counts of aggravated murder, one of attempted murder and two counts of intimidation in the second degree.

The attack occurred shortly before the beginning of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and has drawn condemnation as the latest example of anti-Muslim hate in a political climate where Islamophobia is on the rise.

President Donald Trump was silent on the Portland incident initially, but tweeted about it Monday, noting the attacks were “unacceptable” and his prayers were with the victims.

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Donald Trump Calls Portland Hate Attack ‘Unacceptable’

Donald Trump Calls Portland Hate Attack ‘Unacceptable’

Huffington Post Politics

President Donald Trump said on Twitter Monday that his prayers are with the victims of an attack in Portland, Oregon, more than two days after two men were killed standing up to a man spewing hateful verbal abuse at teenage girls.

Trump did not specifically mention that the attack appeared to be an incident of anti-Muslim hate. The alleged killer, Jeremy Joseph Christian, had harassed the two girls, one who is black, and one who is Muslim and was wearing a hijab. Witnesses said the verbal attack appeared to be racially and religiously motivated.  

Those killed, Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, intervened on the girls’ behalf. A third man who confronted Christian, 21-year-old Micah David-Cole Fletcher, survived the attack. 

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Ireland Could Soon Make History By Electing Its First Gay Premier

Ireland Could Soon Make History By Electing Its First Gay Premier

Huffington Post Politics

Ireland is on the verge of a huge generational change in its political life with the likely election of Leo Varadkar as its next premier ― a move that would give the once-staunchly Catholic country its first openly gay leader and its first of Asian immigrant descent.

Varadkar has built a near insurmountable lead ahead of a contest next week to succeed Enda Kenny as leader of the governing Fine Gael and prime minister. At 38, he would also become the youngest person to hold the office.

Supporters are comparing the trained doctor to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and new French President Emmanuel Macron, hoping a straight-talker from the generation hit hardest by an economic meltdown a decade ago can transform the political landscape.

“I honestly don’t think in 1981 when I first got elected that I could foresee a time when an openly gay man might become Taoiseach (prime minister),” former Fine Gael deputy leader Nora Owen, who served as justice minister in the 1990s, told Reuters.

“We have come a long way and the fact that someone like Leo Varadkar, who is an openly gay man, living with his partner, can actually put himself forward for Taoiseach and nobody is batting an eyelid is wonderful and I think it’s a great day for Ireland that we can do that.”

The fact that such a milestone is barely mentioned in local media or raised in the leadership race demonstrates just how far the country of 4.6 million people that was long seen as one of the most socially conservative in Western Europe has come.

Having only decriminalized homosexuality in 1993 and introduced divorce two years later, Ireland became the first country to adopt gay marriage via a popular vote in 2015, drawing overwhelming support from every corner of the country.

The vote marked a further ebbing of the church’s dominance in Irish society, which has been shattered over the past two decades by the uncovering of scandals of sex abuse by priests and cruelty at Catholic-run institutions.

His election would also show another face of modern-day Ireland.

Varadkar’s father Ashok, who is also a doctor, was born in Mumbai in India. He met Varadkar’s mother Miriam, a nurse and farmer’s daughter from the southern Irish county of Waterford, while working in England in the 1970s. They married there but decided to move to Ireland and raise their family in Dublin, where Varadkar was born.

Varadkar himself has played down the significance of his background and personal life.

“It’s not something that defines me. I’m not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It’s just part of who I am, it doesn’t define me, it is part of my character I suppose,” he told state broadcaster RTE in a 2015 interview when he said publicly for the first time that he was gay.

 

“POTENTIALLY TRANSFORMATIVE”

He has secured the publicly declared support of 46 of Fine Gael’s 73 lawmakers in the June 2 race to succeed Kenny. With lawmakers accounting for 65 percent of the selection vote, his opponent Simon Coveney needs a significant number to change their minds, which analysts say is highly unlikely.

Whoever takes over from Kenny’s 15 years at the helm, they will be the only leader in the Irish parliament born in the 1970s. When Kenny was first elected to the lower house in 1975, Coveney was 3-years-old and Varadkar was not even born.

Opinion polls show both are popular among Fine Gael members but that Varadkar has the potential to win a significant percentage of votes from other parties.

That appeal is down to the current social protection minister representing what political commentator Noel Whelan called “the most interesting story around the kitchen tables, water coolers and bar stools of Ireland” in a long time.

“I think Leo Varadkar becoming Taoiseach is potentially transformative for the electoral fortunes of Fine Gael and perhaps for the political system generally,” Whelan said.

“He is blunt, brash, direct but for those reasons, also more authentic. In an era of anti-politics he is one of the closest things to an anti-politician we have serving in politics. He excites parts of the electorate Fine Gael doesn’t usually reach.”

Whelan said Varadkar’s style will be tested by the office, not least through Ireland’s vulnerability to Brexit and its still constrained public finances that will limit his plans to provide the growing economy with better infrastructure.

But Fine Gael lawmakers, desperate to restore their lead over rivals Fianna Fail in opinion polls before a possible election next year, look set to take a calculated risk on a leader who they say voters like, regardless of their background.

“The people I have met who might be from more conservative rural backgrounds and who I thought wouldn’t really subscribe to Leo really like him,” said Brendan Griffin, a backbencher from the sourhern county Kerry.

“I was with a group of friends at the weekend and the first comment was imagine a Taoiseach in his 30s. The second was ‘and a son of an immigrant’ and it was only then that someone said ‘and gay as well’ People are amazed at how quickly the country has moved on.”

 

(Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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