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You can tell a lot about a society and the culture by the people whom it venerates as heroes. Not so

You can tell a lot about a society and the culture by the people whom it venerates as heroes. Not so long ago in the United States military valor and not so long ago in the United States military valor and other feats of physical and patriotic derring do were the ne plus ultra of what determined who became venerated.
Thats why the crime of stolen valor is there in the first place, by men (and sometimes women) who arent veterans who want to bask in the glory and respect afforded actual heroes. Were American warriors not heroes, there would be no valor to steal.But now were witnessing something altogether different. You could call it stolen victimhood.The pathetic and outrageous case of Jussie Smollett is the latest example of this baleful trend.Not long ago, Mr.Smollett was a modestly successful television actor in a modestly successful television show called Empire. Outside of the shows hardcore fan base, he was hardly a household name.
Mr. Smollett shot to fame (you might call it stolen fame) in late January not because of anything he accomplished but because of something that was done to him.Or so he said.The tale bears telling one more time for what it says about the credulity of those we are now electing to high office.
He said he was set upon by two men in the middle of a frigid night in Chicago while innocently walking home from a sandwich shop. Two hooligans, said to have been of the white persuasion, recognized him, beat him up, poured bleach on him, put a noose around his neck, and shouted this is MAGA country! and slurs against his homosexual inclination, though how they could tell he was a gay caballero was not explained.
The assailants, though hooligans, nevertheless showed a certain bravery (if not foolish judgment) by wandering around a rough neighborhood in the middle of the night in Republican regalia with a noose in hand, looking for stray gays.Chicago, including the upscale neighborhoods, gave Donald Trump less than 20 percent of their vote in 2016, making it hardly a neighborhood to be campaigning for Donald Trump.
Mr. Smolletts tale was riven with more holes than a wheel of Swiss cheese, but the ever credulous Kamala Harris and other prominent Democrats could not wait to join the action.The senator from California, auditioning for president of the United States, called the fictitious attack a modern day lynching. She erased her message when it became clear that she had been taken in by a tall tale, demonstrating, we suppose, that even a speaker of the House can suffer shame.
Mr. Smollett was strangely unco-operative with the Chicago police.Still clutching the sandwich that survived the attack, he refused to hand over the cellphone he had used during his beating, and took refuge in stolen victimhood. It became a thing of like, Oh, Its not necessarily that you dont believe that this is the truth, he said several days later, You dont even want to see the truth.
If I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more. A lot more.And that says a lot about the place that we are in our country. Indeed.
Empire became Law and Order. It emerged that Mr.Smollett actually paid two Nigerian men he knew from the set of his television program to stage the attack. He had sent himself the threatening letter in advance of the attack.
He has been charged with a felony for filing a false police report. He is said to have done it because he wasnt being paid what he thought he was worth.
Perhaps he thought he was staging a scene from his TV show on behalf of underpaid Americans everywhere.Hate hoaxes have occurred lately elsewhere, from waiters forging racist notes to leave on restaurant tables to the infamous rape hoax at the University of Virginia.Playing the victim only works in an ailing society that holds up victimhood as the gold standard of fraudulent behavior.Click here for reprint permission.The Washington Times Comment PolicyThe Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider.

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Abe nominated Trump for the Nobel at behest of Washington

Acceding to a request from Washington, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominated U.S. President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize around autumn for engaging with North Korea, Japanese government sources said Feb. 16.
S.President Donald Trump speaks at a news conference at the White House on Feb. 15 (Yuko Lanham)According to the sources, the U.S.
government “informally” asked Tokyo to nominate Trump after he met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June, the first-ever summit between the two countries.At a news conference in the White House on Feb 15, Trump revealed that Abe gave him a copy of a five-page letter the prime minister sent to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awards the prize.The deadline for nominating candidates for the prize is February every year.
College professors and members of the parliament in each country, as well as former Nobel laureates, are eligible to recommend candidates.Trump quoted Abe as saying, “I have nominated you, respectfully, on behalf of Japan.”As for the reasons for the nomination, Trump said, “Because he had rocket ships and he had missiles flying over Japan. They had alarms going off.You know that. Now, all of a sudden they feel good.They feel safe. I did that ”U.S.media reported on the revelation in a disbelieving tone.The online edition of The Washington Post reported Trump’s comments on Feb 15 in the article titled, “Trump says he’s been nominated for a Nobel. But did Japan’s Abe actually do it? Or was it S.Korea’s Moon?” referring to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.The article said: “Some analysts speculated that Trump had indeed mistaken Abe for Moon.”But Abe’s eagerness to praise Trump has been reported in the United States, which started with him being the first foreign leader to meet with the new U.S.president-elect soon after the 2016 presidential election.Abe described the recent U.S. mid-term elections results as a “historic victory” when he met with Trump in November.
In the elections, which saw voters issue a split verdict, Democrats captured the House and Republicans added a few more seats to their majority in the Senate.South Korean news media also reported on Trump’s comments about Abe nominating Trump on Feb.16. Many of the reports also speculated that it must have been Moon, not Abe, who recommended Trump to the committee.
According to the South Korean presidential office, the wife of former South Korean president Kim Dae-jung sent a telegram congratulating Moon, reportedly saying Moon should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his diplomatic efforts with North Korea. But Moon said that it is Trump who deserves the prize.
Moon’s meeting with Kim Jong Un in April 2018 marked the first summit between the two Koreas since 2007.Kim Dae-jung was the first South Korean president to meet with the then North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, in 2000.He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000. 0listPrintRelated News Abe won’t affirm if he nominated Trump for Nobel Peace PrizeFebruary 18, 2019Abe nominated Trump for the Nobel at behest of Washington February 17, 2019 Trump claims Japan’s PM nominated him for Nobel Peace PrizeFebruary 16, 2019LDP lawmakers asked to check with cities on SDF recruitment February 15, 2019 Limits on health insurance eyed as more foreign workers on wayFebruary 15, 2019What’s NewKin of Japanese abductees make direct appeal to N.
Korean leader Unicorns are real: Tech baffles Indonesian candidate Koyama, Prominent Japanese Jazz Journalist, Dies at 82RecommendedThe Paradise Papers Featured here are videos, photos and graphics on how journalists dug into documents leaked from Bermuda and elsewhere to uncover shady transactions through tax havens.Transform through SDGsHere are reports about efforts in Japan and abroad to achieve the U.
N. sustainable development goals.

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New Australia Council CEO Adrian Collette says arts companies that ignore diversity are ‘out of touch’

In a directive from Mitch Fielded to the Australia Council late last year, the arts minister asked, as one of seven identified priorities, for the Council to …
By Kristy O’Brien Legendary Australian actor Jack Thompson juggles shooting his new film, High Ground, in the Top End and end-stage kidney failure.
Cricket must be more than growth metrics.The current cricket season is being reviewed as a failure because it has not provided heart-warming local triumph or met imagined growth metrics — but that misses the bigger picture, writes Richard Hinds.Top StoriesMajor parties hit by foreign government hackers in attack on Parliament servers.China is using bounty hunters to claw back money inside Australia Cashs former staffer knew raids tip-off would damage Shorten, court hears.Franking credits rorted on an industrial scale but Labors fix not the answer, says economist Analysis: Donald Trump called a state of emergency, but admitted it wasn’t that much of an emergencyIS bride who was OK with beheading asks Britons for sympathy I dont know where my next meal will come from: How David lost everything Accused Claremont serial killer Bradley Edwards attacked in prison showerI dont see the point: Why many Aussies arent travelling overseas Ante Milicic announced as interim Matildas coach after Stajcic sacking Just InSports teaming up to close the gender pay gapJunior drag racer died in 85kph crash just two days after her eighth birthday Trump admits his emergency isnt much of an emergency, and Democrats agree.
Heres how they could fight backFranking credits rorted on an industrial scale but Labors fix not the answer, says economist Cashs former staffer knew raids tip-off would damage Shorten, court hearsA quick recap of all the Oscars controversies so farChina restricts Australian coal imports in a bid to boost its domestic marketAnte Milicic announced as interim Matildas coach after Stajcic sacking Court dismisses former soldiers bullying claims against NT Department of Legislative AssemblyAt least 24 dead in Zimbabwe gold mine disaster as search for survivors continuesMost Popular Intruder dies during home invasion in Sydneys south-westI dont know where my next meal will come from: How David lost everything Perths first ocean rubbish bin already proving its worth China is using bounty hunters to claw back money inside Australia.The bartender from the Bronx whos coming for Donald Trump Huge cargo ship named in Tasmania, but exporters warn it wont be enough(photos)Jack Thompsons most difficult role yetVery significant carvings on island rocks revealed as the bored graffiti of US whalers.Major parties hit by foreign government hackers in attack on Parliament servers.They looked like stunned mullets: 17 escape injury in Melbourne hot air balloon landings Analysis Opinion.Trump admits his emergency isnt much of an emergency, and Democrats agree. Heres how they could fight back Accounting profession faces moment of truth on financial planning conflicts.How the Canberra Capitals went from zeroes to hoop heroes in just a yearCan greed save us from ourselves?It wasnt a forgettable summer of cricket — critics just werent paying attentionI pull out peoples teeth.

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Trump to avert shutdown, declare ’emergency’ to fund border wall

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Donald Trump will sign a spending bill to avert a government shutdown but will also issue an emergency declaration to fund his controversial border wall, the White House and lawmakers said Thursday.
Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell told colleagues that he spoke by phone with Trump, who indicated he s prepared to sign the bill.
He will also be issuing a national emergency declaration at the same time.The White House confirmed the plan minutes later.
He will also take other executive action — including a national emergency — to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.Making such a declaration would free Trump to seek to redirect federal funds from elsewhere to help pay for a wall along the US-Mexico border.Trump saying he will sign the spending bill, barely 30 hours before a Friday midnight deadline, eases some pressure in Washington after he had openly expressed concern about the deal reached earlier in the week between Republicans and Democrats.But lawmakers are concerned the emergency declaration will send the Trump administration careening into unknown territory.Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for his wall, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.Many have warned that they have no idea from where Trump will draw the funding.Democrats in particular have signaled that the move would open the door to future presidents declaring emergencies on various topics, from gun violence to climate change to the opioid crisis.But lawmakers were still prepared to advance the spending bill to avert a shutdown.
Minutes after the White House s announcement on Trump s intentions, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the spending package and send it to the House of Representatives, where Pelosi said the chamber will vote on the bill later Thursday.The measure includes only $1.375 billion for border barriers or fencing, far from the $5.7 billion that Trump has sought for his long-promised border wall — a demand that led to the recent 35-day government shutdown, the longest in US history.
The compromise package funds until September 30 the 25 percent of the government whose operations would lapse if the bill is not signed by Trump by the midnight Friday deadline.Pelosi, Trump s Democratic nemesis, expressed disdain for the president s upcoming emergency declaration, warning that he was doing an end run around Congress.It s not an emergency, what s happening at the border, she said.Trump s declaration is expected to be challenged in court, and Pelosi acknowledged that that s an option.Under the National Emergencies Act, the president can declare a national emergency, providing a specific reason for it.That allows the mobilization of hundreds of dormant emergency powers under other laws, which can permit the White House to declare martial law, suspend civil liberties, expand the military, seize property and restrict trade, communications and financial transactions.
Trump has repeatedly stated he will look to other federal sources to fund his wall, noting Wednesday that the administration has access to a lot of money being re purposed from existing federal funds to cover unmet wall construction costs.But some Republicans have been warning that an emergency declaration would set a potentially problematic precedent.I have concerns about the precedent that could be set with the use of emergency action to re-appropriate funds, veteran Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said in a statement.Accordingly, I will study the president s declaration closely.Trump is widely seen to have suffered politically more than Democrats over the previous shutdown fight.But he also needs to assuage conservatives livid that the president retreated from his wall-funding demand, a longtime campaign pledge.The bipartisan spending measure, negotiated for weeks, notably does not contain the word wall in its 1,165 pages, instead calling the structures physical barriers, pedestrian fencing and levee fencing.In addition to the $1.375 billion for barrier construction, another $1 billion is being allocated for improving other border security technologies, upgrading facilities and boosting inspection operations at ports of entry.The deal also allocates $563 million to hire more immigration judges to address a massive case backlog, and $415 million for humanitarian operations at the border.

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Democrats forced to confront growing divide over Israel heading into 2020

Democrats are entering the 2020 election cycle with many of their leading presidential contenders increasingly willing to break with a pro-Israel foreign policy orthodoxy that guided the party for a generation.
But in voting in near lockstep against it, the presidential contenders highlighted a shift that has been gaining steam among Democrats for years.In 2018, the Pew Research Center found that 27% of Democrats said their sympathies lied with Israel, while 25% said the Palestinians — with the rest saying neither. That was a sharp drop from the 43% who chose Israel just two years earlier.
Younger and more liberal Democrats, in particular, said they were more likely to side with the Palestinians. And some companies that cater to a younger clientele have also shifted their positions in response to Israeli government actions: Airbnb in November said it would stop listing rentals in West Bank settlements.The election of two BDS supporters  Omar and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim women in Congress — to House Democratic ranks last year pushed the issue to the forefront.
“We are finally able to have conversations that we weren’t really willing to,” Omar told CNN recently, “and so it is really important for us to get a different lens about what peace in that region could look like and the kind of difficult conversations we need to have about allies.”Their willingness to criticize Israel, often in the context of clear and unabashed advocacy for Palestinians, has already begun to test old rhetorical boundaries in a way that even some of the party’s more liberal elected officials have typically sought to avoid.
Freshman lawmakers like Tlaib, Omar and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have been quick to reject those constraints, and seem poised now to insist on a conversation that top Democrats have long stifled or sought to avoid.
“Straight up, the party is not ready for the debate that is coming,” one senior aide to a Democratic senator told CNN last year “It is an overdue debate and my strong sense is that no, the party is not ready to have it — look who the foreign policy leaders are.But that doesn’t matter because it’s coming.”A major moment that opened the doors for Democrats to become much more critical of Israeli policy came in 2015, when Benjamin Netanyahu came to Capitol Hill to denounce former President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a left-leaning Jewish advocacy group.”When he came to Congress and argued against the policies of the sitting President of the United States at the invitation of the Republican speaker at the time, that was really what I think will be regarded as the historical moment when that bipartisanship was shattered. And it opened up the possibility for people to have arguments over these issues in ways that they probably didn’t prior to that,” Ben-Ami told CNN last week.”It gave permission to people to actually say what they think. To open up.”Netanyahu “threw in his lot with these right wing dictators and with Trump and as a result the liberal Democrats that make up the majority of the Jewish community . are going to oppose what Netanyahu is doing,” he said.”Elected officials should be particularly sensitive and careful on the question of the role played by campaign contributions in influencing US policies toward Israel and the Middle East,” he said, adding that they “should also refrain from labeling all criticism of Israeli actions or policies as ‘anti-Semitic,’ in a transparent effort to silence legitimate discussion and debate.”What’s not yet clear is whether Democrats, including the party’s new progressive vanguard, are willing to go any further in breaking with the Israeli government or curbing long-standing US support.McCarthy tweeted on Sunday that “Anti-Semitic tropes have no place in the halls of Congress,” but before the midterms said in a post of his own, “We cannot allow (George) Soros, (Tom) Steyer, and (former New York Mayor Michael) Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th. #MAGA” — a reference to three Jewish billionaire donors whose names have been used in anti-Semitic propaganda. He deleted the tweet a day later.President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has embraced Netanyahu and pleased pro-Israeli advocates within both parties’ ranks by moving the United States’ embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In the spring of 2017, a bipartisan anti-BDS bill arrived in the Senate with more than 50 cosponsors, another sign of how deeply entrenched support for Israel has become at the highest levels of national politics.Despite the overwhelming initial support, Democratic Sen.Ben Cardin was pressured into redrafting parts of the legislation after it came under scrutiny by civil liberties groups. Gillibrand, an opponent of BDS initially listed as a sponsor of the bill, withdrew her name following a burst of criticism, led by the ACLU, and said she would ask the authors to “rewrite it” to make clear that individuals would not be targeted for taking part.Grassroots Jewish progressive groups like IfNotNow, which was formed in 2014 during a conflict that became known by many as the Gaza war, believe opposition to Israel’s presence in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem — often described as “the occupation”  fits in naturally with other, increasing popular priorities, many of them championed by Sanders.”The same progressive values that so many Americans use to support issues like ‘Medicare for all’ or abolishing ICE and promoting more humane treatment of immigrants, raising the minimum wage, stricter gun control, keeping fossil fuel money out of politics are the same progressive values — and they’re Jewish values — that lead us to oppose occupation,” said Emma Saltzberg, an IfNotNow co-founder and volunteer organizer.

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