Charleston (United States) (AFP) - On one side, a General Robert E Lee look-alike waves a large Confederate flag, facing off against counter-protesters on the other bearing placards that say "Racism kills" and "KKK Go Away."As the United States heads into an election after a summer of protests over racial injustice, a reminder of the era when slavery tore the nation apart can be seen playing out on the streets of the picturesque city of Charleston every week.America's reckoning with racism and discrimination has impacted the turbulent presidential campaign, as a galvanized Black Lives Matter m...
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On Thursday, Axios reported that former NFL star and Trump-backed Georgia Senate nominee Herschel Walker tried to pursue an unusual campaign strategy during the summer: attacking a dog prominently featured in his opponent's ads.
"Walker's scandal-plagued Georgia Senate campaign was as chaotic and troubled behind the scenes as it seemed from the outside, according to conversations with nearly a dozen campaign officials," reported Emma Hurt. "'Alvin the Beagle' was a star of Sen. Raphael Warnock's campaign ads, and Walker and his wife, Julie Blanchard Walker, wanted the world to know that Alvin wasn't Warnock's dog. Incredulous staff ultimately complied with crafting a digital ad on the subject to appease them."
Specifically, the ad accused Warnock, who ran ads featuring himself walking Alvin in his original election campaign in 2020, of abandoning the dog after the campaign, complete with a mock "missing" notice for the dog.
"Staffers allege Blanchard Walker — aided by unpaid campaign co-chair Michele Braddock-Beagle — ran a 'shadow campaign' and refused to cede control of key strategy decisions to experienced, paid staff," said the report. "'I don't think any of us has been OK,' one campaign official told Axios. 'It was just an effing roller coaster all the way through.' Staffers said they had incomplete or no warning on the scandals that plagued Walker. Most still don't know what to believe of his many denials."
Walker's campaign self-destructed in the months immediately before the first round of voting with revelations he had paid for abortions for women he impregnated, often coercing them against their wishes; had multiple secret children and was largely absent from their lives; and the resurfacing of allegations that he was physically violent toward former romantic partners. His own son took to social media to condemn him as a liar.
Ultimately, the race advanced to a runoff, which was held this week. Warnock defeated Walker by close to 3 points.
The New Yorker's Susan Glasser this week recapped the launch of former President Donald Trump's 2024 presidential campaign, and declared that it might just be the worst political rollout she's ever seen.
Noting that she has never seen a presidential hopeful host two admirers of Adolf Hitler at their house for dinner before, Glasser asked whether there has "ever been a more awful start to a campaign?"
What makes the fiasco even more remarkable, Glasser argues, is that he is so far the only Republican candidate to officially jumped into the 2024 race.
"Donald Trump is running against himself—and losing," she writes. "From his low-energy announcement speech at Mar-a-Lago to his dinner with the Hitler-praising Kanye West and the white supremacist Nick Fuentes, Trump has courted more controversy than votes since launching his bid in November. He has held no campaign rallies and hired no campaign manager. He has hosted a QAnon conspiracy theorist and helped raise money for the indicted insurrectionists of January 6th."
Of course, there have been multiple times when Trump's political career has been deemed dead -- from the time he insulted John McCain's military service, to the time he was caught on video boasting about sexually assaulting women by grabbing their genitals, to inciting a deadly riot at the United States Capitol building.
And in each one of those cases, the Republican Party base made clear that they were sticking with Trump no matter what he did.
"It’s also hard not to forget that, for all the breathless coverage, Trump retains the support of more than forty per cent of the G.O.P. electorate in recent surveys—more than enough to win the Republican nomination in a crowded field," notes Glasser.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden managed to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner from Russian prison in an exchange deal with Russia — but was not able to broker such a deal for Paul Whelan, a former Marine being held in Russia on trumped-up espionage charges, in large part because the U.S. has no Russian prisoners the Kremlin is willing to accept as part of that trade.
In an interview on CNN that night, anchor Erin Burnett prodded Paul Whelan's brother, David, to express frustration with the Biden administration over that state of affairs — but Whelan, despite being upset over his brother's situation, made clear he supported the Griner swap.
"It's got to be very frustrating because when you hear Secretary [Antony] Blinken say it was one or none, you know, I guess on a certain level it feels like, well, Putin is the one who made that decision," said Burnett. "He had the leverage and he made the decision, and the U.S. went because that was the best they could do, and one or none was the right thing? Do you think that was the right thing? Are you supportive of what they chose to do, or should they have waited and tried harder?"
"No, I'm absolutely supportive of it," said Whelan. "I think to prolong the punishment of one American in a foreign hostage situation, on the hope that you might be able to bring home two of them, is absolutely the wrong call for the U.S. president to make. An American in the situation who has the possibility of coming home, I think the U.S. president has to bring them home. And unfortunately for my brother, and our family, it's not our family member, but I think from the perspective of Americans, that's the right decision."
"Our producer spoke with your brother today, and I just want be to play some of what he said to her. Here he is," said Burnett as she played the clip.
"The president and his team are going to have to look at what they have as valuable, or I'll be here for a long time," said Paul Whelan in the clip. "In these conditions, who knows how I'll come back or if I'll come back. What I don't understand is why nothing has happened to this point and what the roadmap is for my release in the future. My parents are older. My dog is 14 1/2. If I'm stuck here much longer, I'm in danger of seeing any of them again."
"What's it like to hear your brother say that again?" asked Burnett.
"It's hard," said Whelan. "You can hear the despair. And that's also the reality. He asks for a roadmap and there isn't one. Where we are going has not been plumbed because it changes with each detainee."
Watch the video below or at this link.
David Whelan speaks about his brother's imprisonment in Russia www.youtube.com