Melania's one-word response to peace

On January 6, 2021, while MAGA enthusiasts rioted in and around the U.S. Capitol, Melania Trump was asked if she'd like to tweet a statement encouraging peace and the former First Lady responded with a one-word answer.

According to ex-aide Stephanie Grisham, she personally sent a text to Melania on Jan. 6 asking "Do you want to tweet that peaceful protests are the right of every American, but there is no place for lawlessness & violence?"

Melania's response was a simple "No."

Grisham, who was Melania's chief of staff during the time of this exchange, and a former White House press secretary and communications director, resigned later that day without making mention of what had happened. Tweeting a farewell message, Grisham said "It has been an honor to serve the country in the White House. I am very proud to have been a part of Melania Trump's mission to help children everywhere, & proud of the many accomplishments of this Administration."

While it's not clear why Grisham waited until now to share her text exchange with Melania from Jan. 6, Huffington Post highlights that it "backs an anecdote" from Grisham's tell-all book, "I'll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House," which was released on October 5, 2021.

"Do you want a participation award? Do you think this absolves you of your complicity in what went on in that WH for 4 years? You sat by as Rome burned and did nothing," a commenter replied to Grisham's share of the text exchange on Twitter yesterday. "The entire lot of you should be in jail."

"Nope. I don't believe in participation awards. I'm not trying to be absolved of anything, what I am doing is trying not to let history repeat itself," Grisham responded.

Former marketing executives launch campaign to keep Fox News from 'fueling next insurrection'

An organization called Check My Ads has launched a campaign in an effort to restrict Fox News ad revenue to prevent them from "working overtime to fuel the next insurrection."

The organization, which is run by two former marketing executives, has already collected over 40,000 signatures from people backing their efforts in just five days, according to The Guardian, and the goal is to get ad exchanges to drop the news site.

"Foxnews.com benefits enormously from being a part of the global advertising society. Foxnews.com receives ads from blue chip brands, which gives incredible legitimacy to the lies that they are publishing. That brand equity is intrinsically valuable," says Claire Atkin, a team member of Check My Ads.

The messaging included in the campaign reads:

HERE'S THE PROBLEM
Advertisers don't place ads on the internet themselves. They use ad exchanges — technology companies that run ads for them.
Ad exchanges don't work with just anyone. They choose which websites to work with and which ones to drop. They have standards to protect advertisers from funding violence. This is so important to advertisers that they have it written into their contracts.
When Fox News promoted the January 6th insurrection, it was violent. We all saw it — but ad exchange executives pretended it didn't happen.
Since then, Fox News has just gotten worse.
So here's the plan: we need to tell ad exchanges to block their ads from FoxNews.com now.

"Advertisers have been crystal clear that they do not want to sponsor violence. And we all saw what happened on January 6. It's not just violence, this was the attempted overthrow of the government. This is world-scale political violence," Atkin said. "We are opening the conversation up for everyone who wants to say enough is enough."

John Cornyn says 'Now do Plessy vs Ferguson/Brown vs Board of Education'

On Saturday morning, Texas Senator John Cornyn tweeted a racist comment along with a share of former President Barack Obama's statement regarding Friday's Supreme Court ruling to reverse Roe v. Wade.

Obama, making his statement on Twitter on Friday morning shortly after the ruling was handed down, said "Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues—attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans."

The following morning, Cornyn shared that statement from Obama to his own Twitter account adding "Now do Plessy vs Ferguson/Brown vs Board of Education."

Brown v. Board of Education, ruled on by the Supreme Court in 1954, did historical justice in wiping away the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, making "separate but equal" rightfully unconstitutional.

Following Cornyn's initial tweet, which received tremendous heated backlash, he fired off another one saying "Thank goodness some SCOTUS precedents are overruled."

"Let's help out less intelligent fellow Americans out," one commenter said in response to Cornyn's initial tweet. "Plessy stood as law of the land longer than Roe. That was [John Cornyn's] point. Now if liberals are arguing Brown v. Board of Ed was wrongly ruled because of long standing precedent, then they should openly say so."

That comment was retweeted by Cornyn. The following replies were not.

One commenter tweeted a photo of Cornyn with the word "racist" in red over his chest.

Another commenter shared an archival photo of a Black man drinking from a water fountain labeled "colored" and asked "You miss this sort of thing?"

And yet another out of the thousands of similar commenters shared an illustration of a Klan hood next to a MAGA hat featuring the text "Evil doesn't die, it reinvents itself."

Marjorie Taylor Greene calls overturning of Roe v. Wade a 'blessing': report

Marjorie Taylor Greene gave statements outside of the Supreme Court minutes after the ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade was handed down. Amidst shouts of "You are a traitor," and "Lock her up," from a steadily gathering mass of protestors, Greene fired back that she viewed the ruling to ban abortion as "a blessing," according to The Hill.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

Using members of her staff as a shield between herself and the crowd, Greene said "I am so happy. It's a blessing. It's a miracle."

Addressing specific groups of protestors directly, Greene furthered "We've got to protect women. Ruth Sent Us is a domestic terrorist group, and so is Jane's Revenge. Anyone who is supporting abortion is supporting them."

When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gathered with pro-choice protestors in front of the Supreme Court, Greene posted a video of her to Twitter accusing her of trying to start an insurrection.

"AOC just launched an insurrection. Any violence and rioting is a direct result of Democrat marching orders," Greene said.

Calling the Supreme Court's decision "courageous," Greene said "It's just taking it back to the states, giving the right back to the states to make their own laws regarding abortion, which is extremely important."

Here's why people are blaming Amy Schumer for America's tampon shortage

Inflation has led to a 10% increase in the cost of tampons over the past year and now there's a full-on nationwide shortage. But what does this have to do with Amy Schumer?

This article originally appeared at Salon.

In 2020, a series of Tampax ads featuring Schumer debuted and a spokesperson for Procter & Gamble credits them with causing a significant increase in sales, telling a reporter for Time that "retail sales growth has exploded."

In response to the claim, Schumer posted a screenshot of an article on the shortage that used an image of her ad and commented "Whoa I don't even have a uterus."

"What's been going on for a couple months is that organizations call us up and say, 'we need tampons,' and we go to our warehouse and there's nothing there," Dana Marlowe, the founder of I Support the Girls said in a quote to Time.

"To put it bluntly, tampons are next to impossible to find. ... I would say it's been like this for a solid six months," says Michelle Wolfe, a radio host in Bozeman, Montana.

While Procter & Gamble recognizes the shortage, their claim that Schumer's ad is the cause of it presents a further batch of questions that they don't have a clear answer for beyond statements that efforts are being made to fix it.

"The Tampax team is producing tampons 24/7 to meet the increased demand for our products," the company said in a statement to NBC. "We are working with our retail partners to maximize availability."

"In terms of the speed of the increase, it's the sharpest I've ever seen," Pricie Hanna, a raw materials consulting expert, said in a quote to Bloomberg. "At this point, people are scratching their heads and saying, 'This is something new."


Proud Boys did recon on weak points of Capitol during Trump's speech on Jan. 6 -- and then went for tacos

Many revelations were presented during the first night of the January 6th Committee Hearings, one of which came from documentary filmmaker Nick Quested who stated that on the morning of the insurrection, while Trump was giving a speech, he trailed members of the Proud Boys as they did recon on the Capitol looking for weak spots, and then he joined them for tacos.

"We took some photographs on the east side of the Capitol, and then we went for lunch. We went for tacos," Quested stated during Thursday night's hearing.

A key witness during the testimony portion of Thursday's hearing, Quested provided a first-hand account of the inner workings of the Proud Boy's planning as he followed them over the Capitol barriers, and the ways in which Trump seemed to guide their hand in their efforts in the days leading up to the breach.

In a report from The New York Times it's detailed that Quested was on hand to witness Proud Boys' former chairman, Enrique Tarrio, meet with Stewart Rhodes, leader of the Oath Keepers militia, in a parking garage near the Capitol on January 5 to plan the next day's big event, which Quested embedded himself in for the sake of documentation.

"Why did I go over to the barriers in the first place? Look, there's two types of people in this world. There's people who walk to disturbances and people who walk away. I walk towards disturbances," Quested said in a quote pulled from The Guardian. "I didn't know there was a confrontation happening. I felt a disturbance in the crowd and I moved towards that confrontation. And that confrontation happened to be Ryan Samsel shaking the barriers. And then the weight of the crowd overwhelmed the officers at the barrier."

Tesla driver who killed two people while on autopilot faces vehicular manslaughter charges

A Los Angeles County judge has found sufficient evidence to charge California resident, Kevin George Aziz Riad, with two counts of vehicular manslaughter for an accident that occurred while utilizing his Tesla's autopilot function.

According to information from the LAPD obtained by ABC, on December 29, 2019 Riad exited a freeway in Gardena, California while driving his partially automated Tesla Model S, ran a red light while going 74 mph and crashed into a Honda Civic.

Gilberto Alcazar Lopez, the driver of the Civic, and his passenger Maria Guadalupe Nieves-Lopez were on a first date at the time of the crash and both died as a result of their injuries.

Evidence indicates that on the night of the accident, Riad was using his Tesla's Autosteer and the Traffic Aware Cruise Control was activated. A Tesla engineer called upon to provide panel analysis for the upcoming trial states that sensors within the car show that at the time of impact Riad only had one hand on the steering wheel, and did not even tap his brakes leading up to the crash.

"Riad did nothing to stop the crash," says Prosecutor Brandy Chase in a quote given to The Orange County Register.

Tesla engineer Eloy Rubio Blanco offered further insight on the functionality of the Tesla's autopilot saying that it only works properly if used by a "fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment ... The system will only work if torque sensors in a steering wheel detect that someone is at the wheel."

Bill Maher on why democracy is dying in plain sight

Bill Maher spoke on the subject of democracy during a rather somber segment of Friday's episode of "Real Time With Bill Maher."

"The Washington Post is wrong," Maher said, "Democracy doesn't die in darkness, it dies in plain sight, because enough people think democracy is a luxury that America can no longer afford."

This article first appeared in Salon.

The statement, which is in reference to The Washington Post's controversial masthead slogan, was met with stilted applause by Maher's studio audience, which caused the host to break into laughter before continuing on with his thoughts.

Related: Bill Maher on why Republicans are obsessed with pedophilia

"That is pretty much the position of the republican party now; that you can vote for anyone you like, but it doesn't count if it's not us," Maher said. "Heads we win, tails we coup."

"I know that some people like to say there's not much difference between the parties, but actually in America 2022 there's more of a difference between the parties than there ever has been in American history," Maher continued. "Democrats, for all their flaws, still see democracy as the essence of America. They see America, and democracy, as inextricably linked. They believe that one without the other is unthinkable. Republicans? Thinkable!"

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

As proof of his point, Maher references Utah Senator Mike Lee who's quoted as saying "We're not a democracy. Democracy isn't the objective; liberty, peace and prosperity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that."

Maher jokes about this being a weird idea for a campaign ad, throwing in "vote for Mike Lee because voting is bad" as a possible slogan.

"This is a true sea change in American politics, and Mike Lee is not the only one saying it out loud," Maher said."

Watch the rest below:

New Rule: The War on Democracy | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO) youtu.be

Footage found of Putin singing 'Blueberry Hill' at a children's charity fundraiser

Footage has been unearthed of Vladimir Putin performing what's being referred to as a "chilly" rendition of the 1956 Fats Domino classic, "Blueberry Hill."

In the video, which we discovered in a report by Nola.com, Putin takes to the piano during a children's fundraiser that took place in St. Petersburg in 2018. The event, which appears to have been heavily attended by some of the biggest celebrities of that time, had Goldie Hawn, Sharon Stone, Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner in the audience for the performance.

Watch here:

Russian President H.E. Vladimir Putin Sings "Blueberry Hill" At A Children Charity Fundraiser. www.youtube.com

Putin's song selection may, at first, seem curious until you take into consideration that Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino, a native of New Orleans, had just passed away the year prior.

Chris Granger, the New Orleans based writer who first discovered the video while home sick with COVID described it in a tweet as "wrong on so many levels."

This is not the first time that Putin has found occasion to showcase his musical abilities. In 2017 the Russian President performed an impromptu recital at a Chinese state guesthouse in Beijing, according to CNN. During this particular performance Putin played two different Russian songs; "Moscow Windows" and "The City on the Free Neva River."

Putin's performance in Beijing erupted into meme status resulting in many parodies including this one of Putin playing Vanessa Carlton's "One Thousand Miles" instead of the Russian classics he actually played on the day in question.

Here's another good one of Putin playing the "Imperial March" from Star Wars:

Darth Putin - Imperial March www.youtube.com

Bill Maher explains why Republicans are obsessed with pedophilia

On last night's episode of "Real Time With Bill Maher," Maher did a segment with Nancy MacLean, a historian at Duke University and author of the "Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America" and David Leonhardt, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author of the New York Times daily newsletter, "The Morning" in which they discussed what is seemingly the topic of choice for republicans these days ... pedophilia.

Maher kicked off their talk by circling back to the subject of pedophilia, brought up initially in his monologue at the top of the episode, saying "maybe this is not the most important issue in America, I don't know, but I can't take my eyes off it like a car accident. It seems like, in a very short time, the Republicans have become obsessed with pedophilia."

Maher recalled a time when calling someone a pedophile was a rarity that brought with it severe social connotations reserved for few and far between flashes of cultural depravity, and pointed out that now the word seems to be casually thrown around by senators.

"This is coming from QAnon, right?" Maher asked his guests. "It was only a couple of years ago we were making fun of QAnon like it was such a fringe thing. Does this mean it's mainstream republicanism now?"

"Absolutely," said MacLean. "I mean I think what we've seen is the Republican party go off the rails to the MAGA faction, which is now dominating the party ranks, but also these elected officials."

MacLean goes on to point out that elected officials, such as Ted Cruz, are seemingly "smart" people with many degrees among them, and yet they continue to engage in such "absurdity."

Watch the rest below:


Why Are Republicans Obsessed with Pedophilia? | Real Time with Maher (HBO) www.youtube.com

Trump put his foot in his mouth again at a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser attended by 'Gays for Trump'

During a fundraiser held at Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday to benefit congressional candidate John Gibbs, Trump crossed the line with the LGBTQ community once again.

According to The Advocate, Trump was at the podium when someone shouted out "Gays for Trump" from the crowd. In response to this Trump bantered back "Where's Gays for Trump?" When the person who called out to start the exchange identified themselves Trump was clearly heard replying "you don't look gay."

Watch the moment here:

Following the exchange, which was met with laughter from the Mar-a-Lago crowd, Trump chattered back again with "We did great with the gay population."

Following the event Peter Boykin, the founder of Gays for Trump, gave a quote to Newsweek regarding the incident saying the group "probably wouldn't 'look gay' because it's a stereotype that fits more with the typical 'look' of leftist LGBT. Not saying some of us might look fabulous and 'gay.'"

"...It was a suit and tie event, so unless one of us was wearing a joker suit, meh," Boykin said to Newsweek. "Gays For Trump is a nationwide movement full of various types of gays and the gay community has a lot of diversity—the difference is the Gays for Trump lean right."

Florida has been an uneasy setting for the LGBTQ community in recent months, spanning outside the confines of a Trump event. In early March a student named Jack Petocz was suspended from Flagler Palm Coast High School for organizing a walk-out in protest of the "Don't Say Gay" bill which passed in a 69-47 vote in the Florida House in February.

"The bill that liberals inaccurately call 'Don't Say Gay' would be more accurately described as an Anti-Grooming Bill," Christina Pushaw, longtime press secretary for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, said via Twitter following the passing of the bill.

The purpose of Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill is to forbid discussion of LGBTQ issues for kindergarten through third grade. Beyond the third grade LGBTQ issues can be brought up at the discretion of the teacher.

An 'alien-like' creature washed up on a beach in Australia

Alex Tan was walking on a beach in Queensland, Australia last week when he chanced upon something that caused many people to become quite puzzled.

Tan, a pastor at History Maker Church, first thought the creature he was nearing was a flathead fish (or "three-meter flatty" as they're called in Australia) until he got closer and was able to take it all in.

According to CBS News Tan recorded video of his discovery, which he described as having "humanlike hands, long lizard tail, nose like a possum and patches of black fur."

"I've stumbled across something weird," he said in one of the videos. "This is like one of those things you see when people claim that they've found aliens."

Since posting footage of the creature, many people have weighed in on what they think it could possibly be. Guesses on the true genus ranged from a deerhead possum, mini-chupacabra, or extinct marsupial but the most likely answer, which was landed upon just a day ago, is far less fun.

"After consultation with my colleague Heather Janetzki from the Queensland Museum we are pretty sure that it is a swollen, waterlogged brushtail possum who has lost its fur," University of Queensland associate professor Stephen Johnston said to The Courier Mail. "The skull and hindlimb give the clues. The animal was probably washed down into the ocean during the floods," he added.

According to The Daily Mail, the brushtail possum is common in Australia, and has also been spotted in New Zealand, but are most widely found along the east coast.

Even with the logical explanation from Johnston and Janetzki, "pretty sure" isn't a definite, which very much leaves alien on the table.

Here's how to track Elon Musk's private jet with a Twitter bot

Elon Musk, the 50-year-old billionaire who has made a name for himself by wheeling and dealing in technology offered a Florida teenager $5,000 to shut down a Twitter account in 2020. Why? Because the account uses public ADS-B data to track the comings and goings of Musk's private jet for the now viral account, Elon Musk's Jet, and Musk didn't like it.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

The owner of the account, Jack Sweeney, turned down Musk's offer, and continues to track Musk's air-traffic to this day. In fact, he's expanded to create accounts to track the private jets of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and most recently, Russian oligarchs associated with Putin.

When Musk reached out to Sweeney in an attempt to get him to shut down Elon Musk's Jet the account had 150,000 followers. At the time of this post it's grown to just under 400,000.

Musk reached out to Sweeney via Twitter DM saying "Can you take this down? It is a security risk." According to Protocol Sweeney, who was a college freshman at the time, replied seven hours later with "Yes I can but it'll cost you a Model 3 only joking unless?" From there Musk offered $5,000, which Sweeney countered saying "Any chance to up that to $50k? It would be great support in college and would possibly allow me to get a car maybe even a Model 3." The conversation fizzled shortly after when things didn't seem to be going anywhere.

"I'm not going to take it down for just $5,000," Sweeney said in an interview with CBS, noting that he made a counter-offer of $50,000 or a Tesla. "He [Musk] said it doesn't feel right — then all the news got out and he blocked me."


Sweeney's latest accounts Russian Oligarch Jets and Russian VIP & Putin Jets were both started in February of this year and have amassed over 500,000 followers combined.

"Even before this war started, people were saying to me, 'Oh, you should track Putin,'" Sweeney said in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Putin sets Russia's nuclear forces on high alert

In response to what he's referring to as "aggressive statements" by NATO, Vladimir Putin has put Russia's nuclear forces on high alert as of Sunday morning.

This article first appeared In Salon.

"Western countries aren't only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country," Putin said in televised comments.

This statement from Putin, included in a Sunday morning report by The Washington Post, escalates the already fraught events of the push into Ukraine on behalf of Russian forces that began roughly a week ago. Since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine was put into direct motion by Putin, the looming threat of nuclear possibility has been on everyone's mind. Now, in the face of Putin's call to ready nuclear forces, that threat is at its closest.

"President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable," Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in a quote used by The Washington Post. "And we have to continue to condemn his actions in the most strong, strongest possible way."

Overnight, Russian attacks in the Ukraine capital of Kyiv advanced to the east into Kharkiv where citizens braced for a full attack.

"The past night was tough – more shelling, more bombing of residential areas and civilian infrastructure," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. "There is not a single facility in the country that the occupiers wouldn't consider as admissible targets."


To assist with their defense against Russian attack, Ukraine government has approved the release of prisoners with military experience so that they might help in the fight for their country which grows more dire as the days progress.

Ukrainian military deputy commander Lt.-Gen. Yevhen Moisiuk issued a statement to Russian troops via a video posted to Facebook saying "Unload your weapons, raise your hands so that our servicemen and civilians can understand that you have heard us. This is your ticket home."

Meta (formerly Facebook) bans Russian state media monetization

On Friday evening, Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy for Meta (formerly Facebook), announced on Twitter that Meta will be prohibiting ad placements from Russian state media. This is one of the latest attempts made by outlets, associations and government officials in just under a week to rally against Russia's attack on Ukraine where some would say it hurts most, financially.

This article first appeared in Salon.

In a statement made to Business Insider, a Meta spokesperson said:

"We are taking extensive steps to fight the spread of misinformation on our services in the region and continuing to consult with outside experts ... "We're removing content that violates our policies, and working with third-party fact-checkers in the region to debunk false claims."


Earlier Friday evening, prior to the announcement from Meta, Senator Mark Warner issued letters to Meta, Reddit, Telegram, TikTok, Twitter and Alphabet asking them to tighten up their protocols to prevent "harmful misinformation and disinformation campaigns, and a wide range of scams and frauds that opportunistically exploit confusion, desperation, and grief," according to The Hill.

In Warner's letter to Alphabet, the parent company of Google and YouTube he furthered:

"As one of the world's largest communications platforms, your company has a clear responsibility to ensure that your products are not used to facilitate human rights abuses, undermine humanitarian and emergency service responses, or advance harmful disinformation,"

These latest methods of preventing Russian monetization trickle down from earlier announcements made Thursday into Friday from the White House that the United States will impose sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"These sanctions are completely unprecedented in their strength," said Julia Friedlander, a former Treasury Department and National Security Council official and director of the economic statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council. "It really is taking a hatchet to Russian financial markets and the ability to move money around."