Stories Chosen For You
The White House on Saturday condemned former president Donald Trump for meeting at his Florida estate with a renowned white supremacist and with rapper Kanye West who is embroiled in a storm over anti-Semitic remarks.
Trump acknowledged having dinner with West, who now is known as Ye, on Tuesday night at Mar-a-Lago, and said he brought along friends, one of whom was Nick Fuentes, an outspoken anti-Semite and racist.
"I didn't know Nick Fuentes," Trump posted on his Truth Social account late Friday.
White House deputy press secretary Andrews Bates condemned Trump's meeting with Fuentes.
"Bigotry, hate, and anti-Semitism have absolutely no place in America -- including at Mar-a-Lago. Holocaust denial is repugnant and dangerous, and it must be forcefully condemned," Bates told CNN.
President Joe Biden, who is spending the holiday weekend in Nantucket, ducked a question about Trump's dinner: "You don't wanna hear what I think."
Fuentes is a Holocaust denier whose YouTube channel was permanently suspended in early 2020 for violating the platform's hate speech policy.
Trump announced his plans in mid-November to seek reelection in 2024, and his embrace of a white nationalist unsettled some of his onetime administration officials.
David Friedman, who was Trump's former ambassador to Israel, blasted the dinner at Mar-a-Lago.
"Even a social visit from an antisemite like Kanye West and human scum like Nick Fuentes is unacceptable," Friedman said in one of several tweets.
"Antisemites deserve no quarter among American leaders, right or left," he said.
Axios, a news website, cited what it said was a source familiar with the dinner who said Trump "seemed very taken" with Fuentes even though he didn't seem to know anything about his background.
West, who is now known legally as Ye, has lost major brand partnerships with the German sportwear company Adidas and US retailer Gap over recent anti-Semitic statements and associations with extremists.
© Agence France-Presse
A former US military pilot has been placed under "extreme" restrictions inside an Australian prison while fighting a secretive extradition battle with the Department of Justice in Washington, his lawyer said following a court hearing Monday.
Ex-Marine Daniel Edmund Duggan was arrested in New South Wales on October 21, the same week Britain and Australia issued unusually candid warnings about China's attempts to recruit retired military pilots.
Duggan, 54, lived and worked in China for about five years before his arrest, corporate records showed, although the details of his alleged offenses have been sealed by the US government.
Defense lawyer Dennis Miralis said Duggan -- an Australian citizen -- had been classified as an "extreme high-risk restricted inmate" inside a maximum-security facility in Sydney, and had been denied access to writing materials and medical treatment.
"He's presently not even able to access pens for the purposes of writing the nature of his complaint," Miralis told the court.
"This is unprecedented to have an Australian citizen placed on the most strict inmate restrictions, akin to people convicted of terrorist offenses," he later told reporters outside.
Miralis suggested outside court that "foreign interference" by the US government could explain the treatment.
"We are concerned there may have been some foreign interference encouraging corrective services to take this dramatic course of action," he said.
Duggan has been detained under Australia's Extradition Act, pending an official request from the US government.
Lawyer Trent Glover, appearing for the US government, said the Department of Justice would file an extradition request before December 20.
"From the United States' point of view, this is nothing more than a usual extradition process," he told the court.
Duggan moved to Australia after leaving the US Marines, running the Top Gun adventure flight company from the southern island of Tasmania.
Top Gun's website said Duggan spent more than a decade flying in the US Marine Corps, reaching the rank of major and working as a tactical flight instructor.
Duggan's case will return to court in late December.
© Agence France-Presse
The Texas Family Project debuted this summer with a donation page powered by National Republican Senatorial Party's fundraising platform WinRed with the aim to be "the most powerful force in Austin." Its mission? To "expose attacks on children's innocence" and send "boots on the ground" and a "political cavalry of pro-family forces" to protect those kids.
It identified the major menace against kids as ...drag queen storytimes.
Whenever and wherever Texans hear there's a drag queen event near them, they can fill out the online form on the website of the Texas Family Project's partner, Defend Our Kids Texas.
That cavalry riding to the rescue takes the form of right-wing Blaze TV anchor Sara Gonzales, whose bio says she is a mom and president of a beauty products company. Gonzales announced this new venture on Tucker Carlson's show where she shared a video of a Plano, Texas drag brunch, where a drag queen in a prim dress covered with drawings of kittens flashed her granny panties. She danced to a song whose lyrics are absolutely not appropriate for a child. One child is noticeable in the video in a roomful of adults.
Gonzales told Carlson that drag queen story hour was a "sinister attempt by the left (that wants) this radical country. The only way they can achieve that is by complete chaos and confusion. What is the best way to confuse children? Confuse them about their sexuality. Confuse them about their gender...Things their little brains are not ready for...Then Big Daddy Government to pick us up and take care of us at the end of it all."
She also told Carlson that what deeply enraged her was that the restaurant owner advertised the event as appropriate for all ages.
But, that is a lie.
With that information, the drag brunch seems more indicative of parents who wouldn't shell out for a babysitter than indoctrination.
Gonzales did not respond to Raw Story requests for an interview and did not respond to detailed questions emailed to her.
The day before the Colorado Springs massacre
The Saturday before Thanksgiving, Gonzales went to the artsy university town of Denton, Texas. She was alerted to a drag queen story at Patchouli Joe's bookstore. Her Blaze TV colleague, self-described "troll" and "comedian", Alex Stein. also came to Denton and posted videos online ranting about the "drag queen storytime."
There was no drag queen storyteller.
Denton mom Amber Briggle, whose teenage son is transgender, asked Patchouli Joe's bookstore if she could read three picture books for a Transgender Storytime on the last day of National Transgender Awareness Week.
She chose three picture books that she thought would help kids understand that someone who looks different than the usual idea of a boy or girl shouldn't be bullied, feared, or shunned. One book entitled "Neither" is about a magical land of bunnies and birds where a bird with bunny ears is born and finds friends and neighbors.
"Amber was born a woman and she's never performed in drag," Patchouli owner Joe Mayes told Raw Story by phone.
Denton's public library has hosted drag queen story hours, but canceled them after receiving violent threats. Mayes is a veteran who served in the military for 20 years. He was apprehensive because the Proud Boys came armed to some LGBT events. And he told Raw Story that a Denton eatery that hosted a drag queen story hour last year (books included an allegory about a red crayon that draws in blue) lost its investors and was forced to close. But he had faith in Denton, a charming town so friendly, residents donated dozens of chairs to create a Chairy Orchard in a shady grove for folks needing a break from the Texas heat.
Two days before his event, angry calls from all over the West flooded their phones. In addition to Gonzales, another organization, Protect Texas Kids, had its own LGBT alerts. It urged its followers to go to Denton to protest storytime.
Gonzales and Stein complained about antifa providing security for the event.
But that was also a lie.
Security was provided by the local roller derby team, who were invited by Briggle.
The other two picture books Briggle read were "It Feels Good to Be Yourself" which explains terms like transgender and "When Aidan Became a Brother."
The Mayes and their staff had no idea who Gonzales and Stein were. Before the reading started, Mayes got complaints from worried parents about a strange woman they said was "creeping" through the store filming children. She was wearing black cat ears on a headband. She said that she was from Blaze TV, which the Mayes hadn't heard of. There were police outside to calm protesters and keep sidewalks clear. One of the staff got an officer who asked Gonzales to leave.
Gonzales kept filming as she walked out and screamed at parents with their children, "This is child abuse! Child abuse! You should all have your children taken from you."
Outside, Gonzales spotted two volunteer security guards dressed in black, from the top of their masks to the tips of their boots. Each had a splash of color from a rainbow scarf. They carried automatic rifles. Texas is an open-carry state where folks bring their guns to town halls and school board meetings. But Gonzales and Stein both kept ranting about the two guards being antifa.
But, those guards weren't antifa.
They were members of Denton's Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club.
Named after the Civil War abolitionist, the club's Second Amendment enthusiasts don't believe gun ownership should be confined to right-wingers. The club calls itself a "multiracial community defense against white supremacy."
The Mayes were surprised to see the gun club members there. Joe said a parent had invited them to provide volunteer security.
In their videos, Gonzales and Stein react as if the guards were there to intimidate them although the guards don't react to either. The guards keep their weapons pointed down and stand still as Gonzales poses in front of them pretending to bite her nails. They silently listen to Stein ramble through disjointed insults then repeatedly squeal: "I'm so scared!"
He weirdly told the LGBT supporters with rainbow flags next to the guards that they loved children "a little too much," then added strangely, "I empathize with you."
In the video, Stein looks like a husky man. When a smaller, unarmed man carrying a rainbow flag crowds him, Stein easily knocks him down with one arm. No one touched Stein who laughs loudly.
The very next day, a gunman with an AR15 burst into a Colorado Springs drag show and slaughtered five attendees, wounding almost two dozen more.
Security at LGBT events seem pragmatic.
Drag queen debate still unfolding
Stein returned to Denton for a city council system two days later with a newly toned message. He waved a photo of the same volunteer security guards he mocked at the event, but this time told council members they were "disgusting" and there to threaten people. Stein hastily interjected that he was "pro-trans" and "pro-gay. He screamed about the bookstore storytime indoctrinating children to become transgender. Finally, a council member told him his allotted time was up.
Author Michelle Tea launched Drag show story time in 2015 in San Francisco. She wanted to find a way to decrease bullying, especially of gay students. She wanted to help children understand as early as possible that because someone lives life differently, that isn't automatically a reason to dislike or fear them.
For the overwhelming majority of American parents, transgenderism is going to be an unfamiliar topic so books will be useful for answering children's when they meet or see a transgender person someday, somewhere. The Mayes, who are parents, believe that when, how and at what age those books should be encountered is a valid point for discussion. Stein and Gonzales wasted an opportunity to use their intellects and communication networks to offer ideas about how to teach children that differences don't have to signal evil or danger.
Meanwhile, the conservative Daily Caller reported that the video prompted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to view the drag queen buffet video and declare the legislature would “protect Texas kids by prosecuting these types of totally inappropriate acts.”