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Bill Maher Slams Trump and Fox News for Their Racist Aretha Franklin Tributes

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HBO

“Not such a good week for the president,” Bill Maher announced at the top of Friday night’s Real Time. “He lost his one black friend.”

Yes, the comedian began the latest edition of his HBO program by addressing the soap opera that’s captivated the media’s attention: Omarosa’s roaring rampage of revenge against her former employer, President Donald Trump.

The reality-TV villainess turned senior White House aide to Trump is promoting her new tell-all book Unhinged, and has been dropping Easter eggs—in the form of tape recordings of private conversations with the president and various other White House officials.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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'Hate crime': Belfast politician decries ‘anti-Protestant’ poster

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DUP councillor Graham Craig says poster, which refers to killing Catholics, is ‘offensive and derogatory’

A poster of a brain which features slogans such as “Save Ulster from Sodomy” and “Fuck the Pope” has outraged a Belfast politician.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor Graham Craig said the poster, which has been erected in Belfast city centre, is “anti-Protestant ... offensive and derogatory”.

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The Crusader Who Exposed Pennsylvania’s Sadistic Priests

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Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

ROME — Richard Serbin remembers the day in 1987 when he met 19-year-old Michael Hutchinson. The skinny young man was in a mental health institution for criminals serving time for robbery and male prostitution. “I can remember that meeting very well,” said Serbin, who was 40 at the time and just getting his bearings in what he thought would be a career dedicated to civil cases against big corporations.  “He was very hyper and he got all these candy bars from the vending machine. Then he told me what happened.”

Michael, it turns out, was very troubled. He had been sexually abused from just before his 11th birthday until he was 17 by Father Francis Luddy, a Catholic priest in the Pennsylvania diocese of Altoona-Johnstown who has since died.

Luddy, who was in his 40s at the time, was so close to the Hutchinson family he was also Michael’s godfather. He is one of 301 predator priests exposed in a sickening document released by a Pennsylvania grand jury on Tuesday. That document outlines alleged sexual crimes against more than 1,000 children over seven decades of stunning silence and cover ups across six dioceses in Pennsylvania.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

How I Found My Brainwashed Daughter in the Sex Cult NXIVM

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Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

Bonnie and I reunited at a dimly lit bar in Beverly Hills. It had been four years since I’d seen her, and she looked exactly the same—except for the haunted look in her eyes.

We hugged, but she was so jittery, she could barely stand still for it. Before we sat down, she scanned the room to see if she’d been followed or if anyone was watching her.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Furor over revoked security clearance grows as Trump said to threaten more

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President suggests first target would be DoJ official Bruce Ohr amid report a list of prominent figures has been drafted

Amid mounting criticism after he revoked the former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance, Donald Trump threatened to similarly punish a current official and is reportedly preparing to do the same to others who have criticized him.

The president’s remarks and the report from the Washington Post escalated worsening tensions between the White House and the intelligence community.

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American History Is Full Of Immigrant Haters Like Stephen Miller

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Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast

There are good reasons to believe that Stephen Miller won’t be shamed by his uncle’s attack on his role in the White House, provoked by his actions as a principal architect of a program that, as of now, has made orphans of more than 500 children seized, along with their parents, at the Mexican border.

The uncle, David Glosser, a retired clinical neuroscientist, wrote that he was horrified by Miller’s behavior. He reminded his nephew that his family’s maternal roots can be traced to subsistence farmers in a shtetl in what is now Belarus.

Like thousands of other Jews they were terrorized by pogroms in the early twentieth century. The family patriarch, Wolf-Leib Glosser, arrived on Ellis Island in 1903 as a refugee.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

The Punk Rocker With a Feminine Touch: Jesse Peretz’s Unlikely Path to ‘GLOW’ and ‘Juliet, Naked’

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Griffin Lipson/Getty

When Jesse Peretz threw a New Year’s Eve Party in 1998, he had just left the Cambridge-based alternative rock band The Lemonheads to pursue a career in directing. (That punky cover of “Mrs. Robinson” on every movie soundtrack? That’s them. The Foo Fighters’ “Learn to Fly” music video? That’s him.)

His friend Melissa Auf der Maur, the bassist for Hole, brought a girl to the party whom she introduced as his future wife, predicting that he and Sarah Sophie Flicker would hit it off. Auf der Maur had an OK Cupid page’s worth of selling points about why Peretz would be the perfect guy for Flicker. Then she said, “And he used to be in The Lemonheads...,” to which Flicker’s immediate response was, “Oh, no.” Dealbreaker. (Don’t worry, guys, Peretz and Flicker did indeed marry, as Auf der Maur predicted.)

“When I left The Lemonheads in the early ‘90s, I spent a good decade and a half trying to keep people from knowing I was in the band because I felt like the band ended up not being that cool and were more sellouts,” Peretz, who played bass guitar in the band, tells me. “As I get older, it’s easier for me to romanticize being in a band in the ‘80s and a part of the punk rock scene.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Why Aretha Franklin Never Conquered Her Fear of Flying: ‘Who Cares?’

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At around 1:20 a.m. on July 6, 2015, a long, luxury bus broke down on a stretch of highway just outside Chicago. The vehicle’s transmission had given out, all local car services were closed, and the bus’ occupants—a squadron of assistants, a sleepy entourage, and America’s then-73-year-old Queen of Soul, whose impossible vocal range seemed to capture the full breadth of human feeling, Aretha Franklin—were stranded by the road.

But the police were awake. And it wasn’t long before three state squad cars, three units from the Illinois Department of Transportation, and a tow truck descended on the scene to rescue the global soul star from the freeway. The officers escorted Franklin and her crew to their hotel as the truck followed with the bus. “God was right on time,” Franklin’s spokesperson Clarence Waldron later told Billboard on the singer’s behalf. “Hallelujah.”

For a woman well into her seventies with 112 singles charted on Billboard, 18 Grammy Awards, and over $75 million in records sold across the globe, coach bus might seem like an odd choice of transit—one prone to long travel times, cramped on-board bathrooms, and the occasional, midnight transmission failure.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

I Fell in Love With Madagascar and Its Sacred Trees

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Brandon Presser

“Baobab Sacré”—sacred baobab—is painted in thick curlicues on a nearby fence that guards a towering, thirst-ridden tree. My guide, Nambs, instructs me to remove my shoes before taking a step closer. I toss my footwear on the fluorescent pile of knock-off Havaianas, and beyond the gate, a handful of visitors have dropped to their knees in mindful prayer.  

Although seemingly indistinguishable from its neighbors, the plant, I’m told, once appeared in the dreams of an old medicine man, and has since been a conduit between the material and spiritual world—realms ruled by animism in these parts. As Nambs and I continue down the dusty path dubbed the Avenue of the Baobabs, I’m drawn towards the bases of others trees—some sacred, some not—all of which have grown far beyond a human scale over the course of their thousand-years-long lives. Nambs offers to a take my photo, but I feel compelled to turn my back to the camera and hug one of the behemoths instead. I want to commune with a being that’s been watching over the earth since before the Vikings came to the New World—its skin felt like a strange amalgam of paper and leather.

There are nine species of baobab found throughout our planet, but the so-called giant baobab, Adansonia grandidieri—the one that calls out to travelers with its slender, branchless trunk and electric puff of twigs at the top—is only found in Madagascar. Scientists believe that the island nation, whose name aptly means “large stone” in the local dialect, was one of the first rocks of terra firma to break off from the ancient Gondwana supercontinent. Eons of environmental isolation account for its singular ecology like an African Galapagos: Lemurs coo and flip through the canopy, pudgy chameleons snooze on drooping vines, and, of course, the botany is so otherworldly it quite literally inspires devotion.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Post-9/11 Wars Tore the Heart Out of America’s Heartland

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Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters

As a reporter in Iraq, embedded with infantry companies at small outposts, I met soldiers from enough places so I could draw a line through states from Maine to California.

Ohio hit number one in terms of a state’s representation—with men from New Carlisle, Youngstown, Dayton, Port Clinton, Sandusky, Canton and more. Ohio is not the United States’ geographic midpoint but it feels like it—the Midwest, “mid” as in “you’re not there yet, so keep going.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Trump Bashed Lobbyists. Now He’s Their BFF

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Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump railed against lobbyists and special interests so often that it became a defining feature of his campaign. His “drain the swamp” and “I can’t be bought” refrains were two of his most popular, and he frequently attacked his opponents for being in hock to their donors.

In an interview with Newsmax in July 2015, to take just one example, Trump argued that he was the only candidate to clean up government because his opponents were “controlled by lobbyists, controlled by their donors, controlled by special interests.” Lobbyists, he often said or implied, were part of Washington’s “culture of corruption.”

Because the influence of lobbyists and special interests have long been a concern to many across the political spectrum, Trump’s comments were lauded by the media on both the right and the left.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Netflix’s ‘Classless’ Cancellation of Michelle Wolf’s ‘The Break’

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Cara Howe/Netflix

Well, that was fast. On Friday, Netflix quietly pulled the plug on The Break with Michelle Wolf, one of the only “late-night” shows on “television” hosted by a female comedian, just three months after it premiered.

The streaming service also ended the short-lived Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale, but it was the news about Wolf’s show that came as a much bigger shock. That’s because, when The Break premiered in May, Wolf was riding higher than pretty much any other comedian in the country after her breakthrough performance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. As recently as last week White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was still talking about how much her jokes stung.

At the time, the general consensus was that she was suddenly a hot commodity and Netflix was lucky to have her after she decided to leave first Late Night with Seth Meyers and then The Daily Show. Now, after just 10 episodes, Netflix has decided not to order any more.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Secret Distillery Menus Revealed

News Round-up -

Getty

Forget In-N-Out Burger, many distilleries around the world offer secret menus featuring special-edition spirits only available for in-the-know drinkers. The only catch is that you actually have to make a pilgrimage to these brands’ tasting rooms and gift shops to get these bottlings. While it sounds like a lot of work, trust me they’re worth the effort!

I was recently in Portland, Oregon, as a guest of House Spirits, which makes a number of spirits and famously created Aviation Gin. (Yes, that Aviation, which actor Ryan Reynolds now owns.) While I was there to taste their new Westward American Single Malt Whiskey, in the distillery’s gift shop, I spotted a little bottle of intensely dark liquor sitting on the counter. It turned out to be their coffee liqueur, which was stunningly good: espresso-level coffee intensity, but with a real rum character underneath. This was a coffee spirit you could sip, not just mix with cream. The base is the rich and aromatic Casa Magdalena Rum, which House also produces. I made sure to get a bottle of the Coffee Liqueur, since it’s hard to get anywhere but in Portland.

Sazerac is famous for its portfolio of delicious bourbons, including Buffalo Trace, Blanton’s, Eagle Rare and Pappy Van Winkle. But one of my favorite spirits in its portfolio is the Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream Liqueur, which is delicious and not easy to find. (Up until a few years ago, it was only available at the company’s Frankfurt, Kentucky, distillery, but now has limited distribution.) The best part is that it’s actually made with whiskey and is one of the very best cream liqueurs that will ever pass your lips.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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