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J.K. Rowling faces backlash after tweeting support for transphobic researcher

31 0 20 Dec 2019

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling trended on social media Thursday morning — and not because she’s coming out with a new book. The British author sparked a backlash after tweeting her support for a woman with a history of making comments considered transphobic.

“Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you,” Rowling wrote Thursday in her first tweet since September. “Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?”

She added the hashtags “#IStandWithMaya” and “ThisIsNotADrill,” making it clear that she was referring to Maya Forstater, a British researcher who lost her job at a nonprofit think tank following a series of tweets that were criticized as transphobic. On Wednesday, a judge ruled against Forstater, who had filed a complaint against the think tank, the Center for Global Development, which works to reduce global poverty. The judge said Forstater’s speech violated the “dignity” of transgender people and was not protected under U.K. law. Rowling sent her tweet shortly after the decision became public.

In tweets and Slack messages posted throughout 2018, Forstater criticized proposed changes to the United Kingdom’s Gender Recognition Act of 2004, which would allow people to self-identify their gender.

“Some transgender people have cosmetic surgery, but most retain their birth genitals,” Forstater wrote in one tweet. “Everyone’s equality and safety should be protected, but women and girls lose out on privacy, safety and fairness if males are allowed into changing rooms, dormitories, prisons, sports teams.”

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In another, Forstater wrote that she would address people by their preferred personal pronouns but that she did not agree that “transwomen are women.”

“I wouldn’t try to hurt anyone’s feelings but I don’t think people should be compelled to play along with literal delusions like ‘transwomen are women,'” Forstater wrote.

Rowling’s public support of Forstater after the judge’s ruling sparked accusations of “transphobia” from LGBTQ advocates. Rowling has more than 14 million followers on Twitter, and many have commented that it is “dangerous” for a public figure with that large a following to voice her support for Forstater.

“J.K. Rowling says she’s opposed to fundamentalism in any form, but she’s promoting a harmful fundamentalism that endangers the LGBTQ community — particularly transgender youth,” Alphonso David, president of the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, tweeted. “She should apologize.”

A number of self-identified “Harry Potter” fans were especially distraught that one of their “childhood heroes” would promulgate “harmful” messages about transgender people.

“Hi. breaking my hiatus real quick just to say: f— what your childhood heroes say. trans people are real,” Casey McQuiston, author of the queer romance novel “Red, White and Royal Blue,” tweeted. “Trans people deserve to be protected, recognized, supported, and loved. if that infringes on your idea of feminism, you’re not actually a feminist at all. you’re a bigot.”

Forstater, for her part, retweeted Rowling, writing, “This is all I wanted for Christmas.”

This isn’t the first time Rowling has been accused of transphobia. In October 2017, she liked a tweet promoting a Medium article that was criticized as transphobic. Then, in March 2018, she was accused of transphobia after liking a tweet that referred to trans women as “men in dresses,” although her spokesperson claimed at the time that Rowling had swiped the “like” button by accident.

However, Rowling has also been praised for her LGBTQ support, including, perhaps ironically, her shooting down of the anti-trans tweets of conservative commentator Tomi Lahren. She was also acknowledged for retroactively identifying Dumbledore as gay in March — a decision that was met with mixed reviews and questions about her sincerity in advocating for the LGBTQ community.

According to Stonewall, a U.K.-based LGBTQ advocacy group, trans people in the country regularly face discrimination and violence. Two in 5 trans people have experienced a hate crime or incident, nearly half of trans people don’t feel comfortable using public facilities for fear of harassment, and a third of trans people report being discriminated against because of their gender identity when visiting a bar or a restaurant in the past year.

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Brooke Sopelsa contributed.

Who won the December Democratic debate?

32 0 20 Dec 2019

WASHINGTON — A day after the House impeached President Donald Trump, the Democratic presidential contenders made their cases for why they are best suited to take him on next year.

With the field of candidates on the debate stage Thursday night in Los Angeles narrowed to seven, there was more room for head-to-head conflict among contenders, with the bottom tier fighting to break into the top ranks and the top tier looking to break away from the pack.

With less than two months before voters begin weighing in, here’s a look at who landed their punches, who weathered the blows and who might have had their last moments on the debate stage.

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South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg: Since jumping to the top tier of candidates last month, Buttigieg has faced increased scrutiny, with attacks on his limited experience and fundraising practices. But he appeared ready to counterpunch. When Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts accused him of being susceptible to influence by wealthy donors, Buttigieg accused Warren of “issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass,” saying her net worth was 100 times his own. When Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota attacked his lack of electoral experience, he held up his ability to get elected as a “gay dude in Mike Pence’s Indiana” as proof that he could pull together a winning coalition.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.: Her poll numbers have yet to break out of the single digits, but Klobuchar has hung on, battling her way onto debate stage after debate stage. She had strong moments — and she went directly after Buttigieg, the other Midwestern centrist on the stage, accusing him of denigrating her experience and of being unable to win a major election. But she also went “Minnesota nice,” stepping in several times to break up heated exchanges among the other candidates.

Former Vice President Joe Biden: After months of attacks from Trump over his son’s business dealings in Ukraine, Biden has shown resilience at the top of the primary polls. But despite his front-runner status, Biden took few arrows from his rivals, nor did he launch many at them, saving most of his attacks for the president. His most heated exchange was an argument with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., once again, that so-called Medicare for All plans would lead to higher taxes.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.: Warren, who has seen Buttigieg eat into her support, came ready to hit him hard. “Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States,” she said, echoing her recent trail attacks on his fundraising approach. In general, she largely continued the pattern of past debates: She and her fellow progressive Sanders continued to observe their apparent non-aggression pact as she kept her focus on taxing billionaires and corporations and largely avoided criticism over her health care plan.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.: Over the past few months, Sanders has weathered both a heart attack and a surge by Warren, neither of which have knocked him out of the top tier. On Thursday, Sanders had another consistent debate performance, throwing in some of the personal detail his team has urged him to share on the trail this year: When asked about Israel policy, he talked about having lived there as a young man and about his pride in his Jewish identity, while saying: “It’s not enough to be pro-Israel. We need to be pro-Palestinian, too.”

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Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang: Yang had some of the more memorable one-liners in past debates, and once again he got some of the biggest laugh lines. (“I know what you’re thinking, America,” he said Thursday. “How am I still on this stage with them?”) But he’s failed to make progress in demonstrating that he has the policy chops of the other candidates. With fewer candidates on the stage, Yang had more speaking time on issues like foreign affairs and climate change, which he kept focused on his campaign theme of how technology will affect the future.

Businessman Tom Steyer: Steyer, a billionaire who has avoided the cash crunch that has pushed more seasoned politicos out of the race, aimed once again to sell himself as the candidate most focused on climate change — but he didn’t break through on other issues. A big question heading into Thursday night was whether he would have a ready explanation for precisely why he’s running. Voters may have ended the night without clarity.

Sarah Sanders mocks Biden for stuttering. Biden responds, Its called empathy. Look it up.

32 0 20 Dec 2019

Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders late Thursday mocked former Vice President Joe Biden for accentuating a stutter in his response to a question at the sixth 2020 Democratic presidential debate.

Toward the end of the debate in Los Angeles, Sanders mocked Biden on Twitter for emphasizing a stutter in his response to a question about whether, in the spirit of the holidays, there was a candidate on stage to whom the others would ask forgiveness or give a gift.

“I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I hhhave absolutely no idea what Biden is talking about. #DemDebate,” Sanders tweeted.

In his answer on stage, Biden said Warren, who had just emphasized her personal contact with thousands of voters when taking selfies with them on the campaign trail, was not the only person who snapped photos with voters.

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The former vice president said he’s done “thousands of them,” adding that people often “lay out their problems,” such as telling Biden — who lost his first wife and infant daughter in a car accident nearly 50 years ago to the day, and his eldest son to brain cancer in 2015 — about how they’ve lost a family member, or asking him whether they’re going to be okay.

Biden said that he and his wife, Jill Biden, have a list of people whom they call on a weekly or monthly basis.

“I tell them I’m here. I give them my private phone number. They keep in touch with me. A little kid who says, ‘I, I, I, I, I, can’t talk. What do I do?’ ” said Biden, who also has spoken recently about how he’s dealt with a history of stuttering.

Biden responded to Sanders in a tweet, saying, “I’ve worked my whole life to overcome a stutter. And it’s my great honor to mentor kids who have experienced the same. It’s called empathy. Look it up.”

Sanders issued a follow-up tweet about 10 minutes after her initial one — both of which she later deleted — that said, “To be clear was not trying to make fun of anyone with a speech impediment. Simply pointing out I can’t follow much of anything Biden is talking about.”

Shortly after that, she apologized.

Sanders resigned as White House press secretary for Trump last summer.

The daughter of former Arkansas GOP Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders hinted in November that she was exploring a possible run for governor of the state herself.

“There are two types of people who run for office,” she told The New York Times. “People that are called and people that just want to be a senator or governor. I feel like I’ve been called.”

Sanders’ former boss has mocked people with disabilities. At a presidential campaign rally in 2015, Trump famously mocked New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a chronic condition called arthrogryposis which affects the movement of his arms, by waving his arms around in a jerky manner.

Lawyers say border agents keep writing false addresses on migrant papers, undermining asylum cases

24 0 20 Dec 2019

WASHINGTON — Lawyers representing migrants seeking asylum at the border say U.S. border agents are systematically writing the same wrong address on the migrants’ papers, leaving hundreds with no way to receive communications from the U.S. government about their cases, and undermining their ability to win asylum in the U.S.

Eighteen examples of migrants whose forms note their address as Casa del Migrante, a shelter in Ciudad Juarez they have never visited, are included in an amicus brief the lawyers plan to file to the Supreme Court next week, NBC News has learned. One lawyer told NBC News he knew of hundreds of migrants who had that address on their papers, and few had ever been to the shelter.

The brief will urge the justices to consider the legality of the Trump administration policy known as “Remain in Mexico” that has left over 60,000 Central Americans in dangerous conditions as they wait in Mexico for what could become years for entrance to the U.S.

“Consistent with these international law obligations, federal law recognizes that, at a minimum, asylum seekers must be notified of the charges against them and have rights to a fair hearing,” said the brief, to be filed by the Justice Action Center and the University of California’s International Human Rights Law Clinic.

The form, known as a Notice to Appear (or NTA), is given to migrants to tell them when and where to arrive in immigration court for their next asylum hearing and how the government will reach them with notifications about their cases. The agents are supposed to give the migrants NTAs based on information provided by the migrants and the court.

If the migrants fail to appear in court, they could be deemed in absentia by a judge and ordered to be deported back to their home country without making their case for asylum. Under the Remain in Mexico policy, many immigrants have been ordered deported for failing to show up to their proceedings, and the false addresses could be one reason why they don’t appear.

One of the immigrants referenced in the brief is Angelina, who uses a pseudonym to protect her identity, a 42-year-old Cuban who told NBC News she fled persecution at the hands of police and others in Havana for being lesbian. She arrived at the border in El Paso in July, hoping to be given asylum so she could live in Florida with her partner, a doctor who once worked at the same hospital in Havana where Angelina was a nurse.

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Asked for an address of a U.S. contact, Angelina provided agents with her partner’s information. It was not until later, when she met with an attorney, that she realized the agents did not include the Florida address on her paperwork. Instead they wrote down the address for Casa del Migrante, a shelter she has never been to or heard of.

“I have no idea if I missed court dates or if anything was sent to me,” Angelina said in a phone interview from Ciudad Juarez, where she lives in an apartment with four other Cubans.

She has never tried to find Casa del Migrante because she rarely leaves the apartment, except when needed for food, because she fears for her life.

“There’s a lot of violence. Every single morning when we wake up, we see and hear on TV about the number of dead overnight. They’re killing women, they’re killing people from the LGBT community,” Angelina said about life in Ciudad Juarez, where she has been living since July.

Her attorney, Nicolas Palazzo, who works with Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, said he has met with hundreds of asylum seekers awaiting their next asylum hearing in Ciudad Juarez and all of them were given paperwork that included the Casa del Migrante shelter as their contact address.

Despite many giving Border Patrol another contact address, including the addresses of family or friends they’re in contact with in the U.S., the agents in El Paso continue to use only the Casa del Migrante address, according to Palazzo and the attorneys filing the amicus brief.

Palazzo said many of the migrants are not aware of the mistake and are shocked and surprised when he tells them what has happened. While there is a hotline immigrants can call for an update on their cases, many of the cases have not been updated, he said.

The lawyers filing the brief to the Supreme Court hope the justices will see from the examples in Ciudad Juarez that the Remain in Mexico policy has inconsistencies and creates an emergency and that arguments against it should be heard in full.

“The risk is not only that the U.S. violates its own procedures under due process, but also the risk of sending back asylum seekers to places they could be tortured or killed,” said Karen Tumlin, the founder and director of the Justice Action Center.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that immigrants must provide U.S. addresses in order to receive correspondence on their legal cases. Tumlin said that decision will have “massive consequences” on asylum seekers who are subject to Remain in Mexico.

But even when immigrants give U.S. addresses, such as the one Angelina provided, border agents in El Paso are ignoring them and including the address for the shelter in Ciudad Juarez, say Tumlin and Palazzo.

Reports from earlier this year alleged agents in other sectors along the border were simply writing “Facebook” as an address for immigrants. Tumlin said she has seen cases where agents write a Spanish term that translates to “known address.”

Angelina continues to wait for her next court date, scheduled for February, from Ciudad Juarez. And she is hopeful she will be eventually granted asylum.

“Hope is the last thing to die,” she said.

Palazzo is now personally making sure that Angelina knows of her court dates and the status of her case. But he said the majority of immigrants waiting in Mexico for their asylum hearings in the United States are not lucky enough to have found a lawyer and are left navigating a very confusing process.

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27 0 20 Dec 2019

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December Democratic debate live updates: Seven candidates face off in Los Angeles

26 0 20 Dec 2019

Warren and Buttigieg clash over campaign donations

In one of the standout moments on the night, Warren hit Buttigieg directly about how he is financing his campaign, specifically knocking him for hosting close-door fundraisers — particularly one that took place in California in a wine cave. 

She noted that she ran grassroots campaign and talks to ordinary voters, and that meeting with big-ticket donors makes a candidate out of touch with ordinary issues. 

“I do not sell access to my time,” she said. 

Buttigieg hit back, saying it’s important to raise money to beat Trump and such party “purity tests” diminish the importance of the election. He also took a jab at Warren’s net worth, saying it’s several times more than his. 

Klobuchar then jumped into the debate, saying she did not come to the debate to hear that argument, and pivoted to how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has killed several bills that the Democratic-controlled House passed.

Klobuchar leading all candidates in talking time, Yang and Steyer talking the least

More than an hour into the sixth debate and Klobuchar has eclipsed Warren as the leader of the talking time race. See the latest on candidate talking time in the debate here

Biden won’t commit to second term

Biden — who would be 82 years old on Election Day in 2024 — was asked if he would commit to running for a second presidential term if he wins the 2020 election.

“No,” he said. “I’m not willing to commit one way or another.”

“Let’s see where we are,” he added.

Politico reported earlier this month that Biden had been signaling to aides that he would only serve one term if elected.

Still, his refusal to say that he’d commit to serving two terms is a surprising admission. Politics watchers have pointed out that the fueling of questions over a one-term presidency — especially by Biden himself — could very easily make Biden a lame-duck president if he were elected.

Tom Steyer calls China a ‘frenemy’

The candidates are talking tough on China, but it’s Steyer who offers the most memorable answer. 

After Buttigieg’s response, Steyer pushes against the idea of isolation of China and ties his answer to the need to work together on climate change. 

“We have to work with them as a frenemy, people who disturb us, who we disagree with, but who in effect we are linked with in a world that is ever getting closer,” Steyer says.

Buttigieg’s big promise

Buttigieg said he would leave open the option of boycotting Olympics in China as a sanction, but that wasn’t his biggest threat. He said that if the Chinese were to repeat the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Hong Kong, “they will be isolated from the free world and we will lead that isolation economically and diplomatically.”

China’s hardly the kind of country that can be isolated easily — it’s no North Korea or Libya. It’s not even Iran. China has the second-largest economy in the world. It has a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, and it has a lot of nuclear weapons. That is, China’s got a lot of economic and diplomatic leverage.

Joaquin Castro tweets at Pete Buttigieg about ‘wine cave’

 

This is what Castro seems to be referring to:

 

Climate change leads to nuclear — and thorium! — discussion

Nuclear energy is a controversial topic in the climate debate due to the risks of nuclear facilities and the waste it creates. 

Yang took the opportunity to bring up a reasonably obscure technology: thorium reactors. Thorium is a slightly radioactive metallic element that has been touted as a way of generating nuclear power with less waste, though there aren’t currently any working thorium reactors. And there’s plenty of skepticism about whether it’s a good way to address climate change.

Yang: ‘An honor and disappointment’ to be only candidate of color on stage

Andrew Yang was asked about being the only candidate of color on stage at tonight’s debate.

“It’s both an honor and disappointment to be the lone candidate of color on the stage tonight,” Yang said. “I miss Kamala, I miss Cory, although I think Cory will be back.”

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., dropped out of the race earlier this month, while Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., did not qualify for the debate.

 

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Julian Castro and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick also failed to qualify for the debate. 

A moment later, Sanders was asked to answer the same question but began discussing climate change.

One of the moderators then chimed in.

“Senator, with all due respect, the question is about race,”  PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor said, prompting wild applause from the audience.

College star James Wiseman ends amateur career after just 3 games, preps for NBA

28 0 20 Dec 2019

University of Memphis basketball star James Wiseman announced Thursday that he’s ended his college career after just three games and will prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft.

Wiseman’s unprecedented move still keeps him within draft eligibility rules, which bar players from entering the league unless they’re at least 19 or one year out of high school.

“Today I formally withdrew from the University of Memphis and I will be preparing for the next chapter of my life,” the 7-foot-1 Wiseman wrote on his Instagram page.

“Ever since I was a little kid, it’s been a dream of mine to play in the NBA. Throughout this process, I’ve asked God to ordain my steps and lead me in the right direction. God is my lord and salvation, and throughout this process he has comforted me.”

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The NBA’s so-called “one-and-done” rule has been in place since 2006, afters years of pro basketball’s top players — such as Kevin Garnett, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant — coming straight out of high school.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this year he’s seeking an end to the current standard, which forces many of the top young players into a perfunctory year on a college campus.

Wiseman on Thursday thanked his college teammates of three games.

“This was not how I expected my freshman season to be, but I’m thankful for everyone who has supported my family and me throughout this process,” Wiseman wrote.

“I want to thank the coaches and staff for all their support and my teammates for pushing me everyday at practice. I feel blessed for the opportunity to be a Tiger and for having the honor to play with these special group of guys. I can’t wait to see what all they accomplish this season.”

Wiseman’s Memphis career was limited by his ongoing battle against the NCAA, the governing body of college sports, which had ruled him ineligible due to benefits he received from a Tigers booster in summer 2017.

That booster was former Tigers star Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, hired by the university as head coach in 2018, and the benefit was helping Wiseman’s family move to Memphis from Nashville.

Wiseman played in three games for Memphis, Nov. 5, 8 and 12 and averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in that limited action.

A mock draft published by NBCSports.com last week pegged Wiseman as the second overall pick. Another mock draft, compiled by Bleacher Report and posted on NBA.com last week, put Wiseman at No. 3.

Reps for the NBA and players union could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday.

Kim Kardashian West slammed for appearing darker on magazine cover

28 0 20 Dec 2019

Kim Kardashian West was slammed Thursday by some social media users who said she appeared darker on a new magazine cover.

Kardashian West shared photos on her social media accounts of her appearing on different covers of 7Hollywood magazine, including some of her wearing a strapless dress by designer Thierry Mugler, who also created her 2019 Met Gala dress.

“WHAT A DREAM” Kardashian West captioned the social media posts. While some celebrities, including her stepsister, Kendall Jenner, and Lala Anthony, complimented Kardashian West on the photos, many others on social media found the images less than dreamy.

“Why was it necessary to make her look black on this cover?! Why?!,” one Instagram user wrote. “This is not even her natural shade at all … she’s not black or of the diaspora. And EVEN IF this was not her idea she could have spoken up BUT of course she didn’t see anything wrong with this.”

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And while Kardashian West was thought by some to have channeled Elizabeth Taylor in the photo spread, many suggested she looked more like another legendary actress — Diahann Carroll.

Another Instagram user commented: “I’m confused as to how her black celebrity friends do not check her passive-aggressive, problematic and racially insensitive behavior. She constantly does BS like this and it’s just not okay!”

Jerome Trammel, an internet personality, wrote in response to Kardashian West’s tweet: “You helped get some Black people out of jail & you thought we were going to let this slide? Nah! They want our shade but not our struggle.”

Kardashian West, who is studying to become a lawyer, has advocated on behalf of former inmates Alice Marie Johnson and Matthew Charles, both of whom were released after serving lengthy prison sentences.

Some others online accused the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians“ star of cultural appropriation and suggested that, in at least one of the images, she was “wearing blackface.”

A representative of Kardashian West declined to comment to NBC News on the backlash.

This was just the latest instance in which she was accused of cultural appropriation, most often appropriation of black culture, or of being a “culture vulture.”

In August, Kardashian West changed the name of her shapewear line after she faced backlash, including from the mayor of Kyoto, Japan, for branding it Kimono. A kimono is a traditional Japanese garment. Many social media users found the name of the brand ill-fitting. It inspired the hashtag #KimOhNo and a petition had been started on change.org.

In June 2018, Kardashian West was slammed for wearing Fulani braids — which are believed to have originated in African regions — and crediting them to a white woman by calling them “Bo Derek braids.” The small braided cornrows have been worn by women of color, in particular those of African descent, long prior to Derek in the 1979 film “10.”

Following the backlash, Kardashian West said she knew the origins of the hairstyle and did not intend to be disrespectful in how she described them.

7-year-old boy living in domestic violence shelter asks Santa for very good dad

32 0 19 Dec 2019

A letter from a little boy in a domestic violence shelter asking Santa for a “very, very, very good dad” has attracted widespread attention and amassed donations for the shelter.

The heartbreaking letter was written by a 7-year-old boy living with his mother in an emergency shelter in Texas.

The boy’s mother said she found the letter in his backpack a few weeks ago, according to SafeHaven of Tarrant County, the nonprofit organization that runs the shelter. The mission of the group, which has a shelter in Fort Worth and another in Arlington, is to end domestic violence through social change. The group said it primarily serves more children than adults.

The nonprofit uploaded a photo of the letter on its Facebook page Wednesday. It has since been shared more than 1,000 times.

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In it, the boy, identified only as Blake, wrote: “We had to leave our house. Dad was mad. We had to do all the chores. Dad got everything he wanted. Mom said it was time to leave and she would take us to a safer place where we don’t have to be scared.”

“I’m still nervous,” the letter continued. “I don’t want to talk to the other kids. Are you going to come this Christmas? We don’t have any of our stuff.”

Blake asked Santa for books, a dictionary, compass and a watch. He concluded the letter by writing: “I also want a very very very good dad. Can you do that too?”

Emily Hancock, vice president of development at SafeHaven of Tarrant County, told NBC News it is not uncommon for the organization to share artwork from clients, children in particular, who are in its shelters.

“This one, we shared with some of our supporters before posting it on social media,” she said. “It highlights a lot of the feelings a lot of our clients feel — not just children.”

Most people arrive at the shelters with little, but over time, “after they work with their case managers, they feel more adjusted to their environment,” Hancock said.

Hancock could not disclose much information about the boy or his family because of privacy laws, but said that they have been in a shelter for about a month and do not yet have an exit day.

Hancock said the nonprofit did not anticipate such a strong response — they have seen an influx of monetary and other donations such as books and toys and many items on its immediate needs list on Amazon have been fulfilled — from the community in Texas and beyond.

“What’s awesome is, we’re having a lot of people open up about their experiences with domestic violence,” Hancock said. “So for this post, where we intended to maybe get a couple likes or shares from our supporters, hopefully it can encourage someone in a similar situation to get the help they need.”

Widow, Republicans and Democrats blast Trump for crass Dingell hell comment

27 0 19 Dec 2019

Rep. Debbie Dingell called President Donald Trump’s suggestion that her late lawmaker husband John Dingell was “looking up” from hell hurtful on Thursday as a bipartisan group of lawmakers demanded the president apologize for the macabre crack.

Dingell told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell she was stunned when she learned about Trump’s comments about her husband during his Wednesday night rally in her home state of Michigan.

“I don’t know why he decided to do what he did last night but to say it didn’t hurt wouldn’t be the truth,” said the widow, whose 92-year-old husband died in February.

“It hurt. I loved my husband,” the Democratic congresswoman said. “We had a love affair most never have, and it’s been a hard holiday season, and those kinds of shots — people forget that members of Congress are human, and we go through real hard times.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a top Trump ally, and two House Republicans from Michigan called for the never-penitent president to say he’s sorry. “If he said that I think he should apologize,” Graham told reporters Thursday morning. He said he hadn’t seen the remarks, but “that would be a bad thing to say.” “John Dingell is a fine, fine man,” Graham said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also said “what the president misunderstands is that cruelty is not wit.”

“Just because he gets a laugh for saying the cruel things that he says doesn’t mean he’s funny,” Pelosi said. “It’s not funny at all. It’s very sad.”

Former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday praised John Dingell as “a patriot” on Twitter and said of Trump, “This is equally as cruel as it is pathetic, and it is beyond unconscionable that our President would behave this way.”

Trump ignored questions about his comments in a press availability with reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday.

Trump made the remarks during a two-hour long campaign rally in Battle Creek which began as the House was voting to impeach him. He implied that Debbie Dingell, who’s held her husband’s seat in Michigan since 2014, was ungrateful for coming out in favor of his impeachment.

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“Debbie Dingell, that’s a real beauty,” Trump told the crowd, noting that he’d ordered flags lowered after her husband died. John Dingell had been the longest serving member of Congress, serving for 59 years.

Trump said he gave Dingell an “A-plus” memorial.

“I gave him everything. I don’t want anything. I don’t need anything for anything,” Trump said. “She calls me up: ‘It’s the nicest thing that’s ever happened. Thank you so much. John would be so thrilled. He’s looking down. He’d be so thrilled. Thank you so much, sir.’ I said, ‘That’s OK, don’t worry about it.’

“Maybe he’s looking up, I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe,” Trump said to loud laughs and groans. “But let’s assume he’s looking down.”

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Trump said we wouldn’t go further into their conversation “because it’s not fair to do that,” but he said: “It was the most profuse thank you that you could ever get. On a scale of 1 to 10, it was a 10, OK?”

Debbie Dingell responded online a short time later.

“Mr. President, let’s set politics aside. My husband earned all his accolades after a lifetime of service. I’m preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought me down in a way you can never imagine and your hurtful words just made my healing much harder,” she wrote.

Debbie Dingell said on MSNBC that Trump had called her after her husband’s death, and told her he was ordering the nation’s flag’s lowered for the day in his honor.

“I appreciated that call. He was very empathetic on that call. His kindness meant a lot. I was grateful and am still to this day even after the remarks last night — kindness meant a lot at a difficult time,” she said.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., tweeted that Trump should apologize for the “unfortunate” remark.

On Thursday, Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Mich., demanded an apology, too.

“John Dingell was a well-respected man & I consider Debbie a close colleague and friend,” Mitchell tweeted. “To use his name in such a dishonorable manner at last night’s rally is unacceptable from anyone, let alone the President of the United States. An apology is due, Mr. President.”

In a followup tweet, Mitchell wrote: “#IStandWithDingell

Late in the 2016 campaign, Dingell, a World War II veteran, said Trump should “go to hell” in response to a Fox News interview where Trump said he “wouldn’t want to be in a foxhole” with then-Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. McCain, now deceased, remains a frequent target of Trump’s ire.

“On behalf of so many of my fellow veterans: Please take two running jumps and go to hell, Mr. Trump,” Dingell wrote.

McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, responded to Trump’s comments on Twitter, calling them “horrific.”

McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, tweeted to Debbie Dingell, writing, “I’m terribly sorry. Please know I am thinking about you.”

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday that she had not spoken to Trump about his Dingell comments, adding that she is “very, very sorry for” the congresswoman’s “loss and I would thank her and I would thank her late husband for all of the service to our country.”

“He was at a political rally,” she said when pressed on Trump’s remarks. “He has been under attack and under impeachment attack for the last few months and then just under attack politically for the last two-and-a-half years. I think as we all know, the president is a counter-puncher. It was a very, very supportive and wild crowd and he was just riffing on some of the things that have happened the past few days.”

Debbie Dingell said she’s not asking for an apology — but she’s hoping for more “civility” in the future.

“People need to remember we’re all human. I don’t like the tone of the rhetoric in this country right now,” she said. “People think bullying and vitriolic comments and this whole tone of cheap shots and divisiveness is okay. I think we need to get back to a time of civility and that you can disagree, but do it agreeably.”