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Sheriff Joe Arpaio blowing tax dollars to dress up inmates in stars and stripes for holiday publicity stunt

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The policies of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio have resulted, among other things, in racist profiling against Hispanic people and the death of Marcia Powell, a 48-year-old sex worker who died from heat exposure after being put in a cage for four hours in the sun. Always eager for the spotlight, Arpaio is famously proud of an outdoor tent city specifically constructed to house inmates in extreme heat. He’s also notorious for making prisoners wear pink underwear (The Influence recently covered a dystopian summer camp that Arpaio hatched to give kids the full “Tent City” experience).

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The latest atrocity in Arpaio’s arsenal is ostensibly a celebration of America’s Independence Day. The more than 8,000 prisoners in the Maricopa County jails will be wearing uniforms adorned with the good-old Stars and Stripes. An official statement from the Sheriff’s office said: “Sheriff Arpaio ordered the new look out of respect for our nation’s heritage and with the aspiration of adding the respect each wearer will hold for themselves.”

Arpaio himself said, “The American flag is a symbol of freedom and liberty … My hope is that incarcerated inmates feel a sense of pride and honor when wearing the flag.” According to local media, the sheriff’s department is unwilling to disclose the price of Arpaio’s weird prison fashion show.


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Melania Trump statue torched near her Slovenian hometown: report

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On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that a wooden statue of First Lady Melania Trump carved from a tree outside her hometown in Slovenia last year has been burned to the ground.

"The artist who had commissioned the sculpture, Brad Downey, had the statue removed on July 5," reported Madeline Charbonneau. "Downey, who is American but works out of Berlin, had hoped his statue of the first lady would create dialogue about American politics, given that Melania Trump is an immigrant married to a president who seeks to stem immigration. Though the investigation is still pending, Downey said he hopes to interview the perpetrators for an upcoming exhibition."

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FBI investigating Chinese businessman who bankrolled media company linked to Steve Bannon

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A Wall Street Journal expose revealed that a Chinese businessman is under investigation by the FBI after he used funds to bankroll a media company with ties to a former aide to President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

"Federal Bureau of Investigation national security agents in recent months have asked people who know both men for information on Mr. Guo’s activities, including the source of funds of a media company linked to him that hired Mr. Bannon in 2018 as a consultant, the people said," according to the Journal. "As recently as last week, the FBI met with one person familiar with the companies tied to Mr. Guo, the people said. The probe has been underway for more than six months, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have been involved.

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Mike Pompeo asks Egypt to stop harassing US citizens

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday welcomed Egypt's release of a US citizen but urged the ally to stop harassment of others.

Mohamed Amashah, 24, was freed Monday, nearly 16 months after he was arrested in Cairo's Tahrir Square for holding up a sign seeking the release of prisoners, according to human rights campaigners.

A dual US-Egyptian citizen who lives in New Jersey, he had gone on a hunger strike this year to protest his conditions.

"We thank Egypt for securing his release and his repatriation," Pompeo told a news conference.

"But at the same time, we urge Egyptian officials to stop unwarranted harassment of US citizens and their families who remain there," he said.

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