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Veteran reporter Helen Thomas returns to the press, with little fanfare

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When longtime White House reporter Helen Thomas came under rhetorical fire over comments critical of Israel, she apologized and immediately resigned her post as a columnist with Hearst Newspapers, ostensibly ending a legendary career in journalism that began some 69 years ago.

That was June 7, 2010.

Since then, Thomas has made precious few appearances in the media, opting only to defend herself from the most serious charges of antisemitism. Her remarks, she’s insisted, were meant to be critical of the nation’s policy toward Palestine, not of the Jewish religion or its adherents specifically.

“I hit the third rail,” she told an Ohio radio station in October. “You cannot criticize Israel in this country and survive.”

But, apparently she has.

Yesterday, to remarkably little fanfare in the US mainstream press, Thomas returned to the media with a scathing indictment of Republican efforts to privatize Social Security.

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Her new column appeared exclusively in The Falls Church News-Press, a small Virginia publication with a circulation around 30,000.

“She is progressive, and following my more than eight hours of direct, one-on-one talks with her since the events of last June, I remain firmly convinced that she is neither bigoted, nor racist, nor anti-Semitic,” Nicholas F. Benton, the paper’s owner and editor, said in a published statement.

The two have known each other personally since 1991, Benton told Raw Story, and her column has regularly appeared in the paper since 2004.

“I’ve always had a tremendous admiration for her, even when I was in the White House press office myself,” he said during a Thursday telephone conversation. “When this all went down this past summer, I let her know that when she was ready to resume writing her column, I’d be willing to discuss that with her.

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“I’ve stayed in touch with her and met with her since then and at the beginning of December I heard through a mutual friend that she was ready to give it a try. I called her and she said yes, and I said we’re ready to go. She suggested that we start after the first of the year so, here we are.”

“Ms. Thomas’ comments were intemperate and inappropriate, as she conceded afterward,” his prepared statement read. “Her remarks in June were in response to a question about Israel, not Jews, and were intended to mean that in these times, Jewish people are free to live wherever they wish, because the era of anti-Jewish persecution is ended. That was not adequately expressed because of the impromptu nature of the incident.”

Benton additionally told Raw Story that she is being compensated, but did not specify whether she retained a particular title with the paper.

“I am proud that a journalist of the stature and professionalism of Helen Thomas is relaunching her career, in her ninetieth year no less, in my newspaper,” he added. “She more than deserves, and I am honored to help provide her, the proverbial ‘second chance.'”

Updated from a prior version.

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‘Disillusioned’ Trump megadonors have completely bailed on his 2020 campaign: report

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The billionaire Mercer family was one of President Donald Trump's biggest financial benefactors in 2016 -- but they appear to have completely withdrawn from political spending for the president's reelection bid.

Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman reports that hedge-fund tycoon Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer are "disillusioned" and have all but disappeared from the political scene as the president is gearing up his 2020 campaign.

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What we don’t know about Mexico’s efforts to stop migrants

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OK, it’s been only little more than 10 days since Donald Trump told us that Mexico had agreed to move aggressively to stop immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras that aim to pass through Mexico for the U.S. border.

How is the plan going?

More importantly, how will the Trump administration and White House measure the change and adjudge it as adequate progress in 45 days. Without such a declaration, the president had warned, he might renew the threat of progressively increased tariffs on Mexican imports.

It’s a little hard to tell—in part because it is too soon, and in part because no one is really compiling the information on a weekly basis to show progress or lack of it. In addition, there are questions of what exactly to measure or what that measure should be. Unlike the announced solutions, the problems themselves are complicated. And the new Mexican National Guard is still being formed.

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‘Expect the worst’ as Trump doubles down on racist rhetoric to rile up his base: columnist

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In a column for the Daily Beast, commentator and Sirius radio host Dean Obeidallah claims that all signs point to Donald Trump doubling down on racist rhetoric in an effort to rally his base as his internal polling shows him losing the key states that propelled him to the White House.

As Trump officially launches his re-election bid in Orlando on Tuesday night, Obeidallah notes Trump is falling back on what helped him appeal to disgruntled white workers in the Midwest and that he will likely ramp up attacks on undocumented immigrants -- including official actions.

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