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January 3, 2020

US Kills Top Iranian General, Iran Vows Revenge

This Day in History | 1987

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts Aretha Franklyn as its first female member.

Good Morning Middle Americans, 

The US airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani is sure to have repercussions. Behind the Ayatollah, Soleimani may have been the most powerful man in Iran, and the most evil. He has the blood of hundreds of Americans on his hands.  

Also today, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer thinks newly uncovered emails prove president Trump personally held up the military aide destined for Ukraine.  President Trump’s winery fired undocumented immigrants, but only after they helped harvest the winery’s grapes. 

Finally today, Bernie Sanders has out raised all his 2020 Democratic rivals, but they all still trail the president by a lot. 

Read All About It!

  • Fraser Dixon 

Iran Promises to Avenge U.S. Killing of Top Commander Soleimani

(Reuters) – Iran threatened on Friday to hit back hard after a U.S. air strike in Baghdad killed Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force and architect of its growing military influence in the Middle East.

Soleimani, a general, was regarded as the second most powerful figure in Iran after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The overnight attack, authorized by President Donald Trump, marked a dramatic escalation in a “shadow war” in the Middle East between Iran and the United States and its allies, principally Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Schumer: New Emails Show Trump Personally Ordered Ukraine Aid Freeze

(Daily Mail) – Leaked emails reveal Pentagon officials were worried that Donald Trump directing a military aid freeze to Ukraine was unlawful.

Just Security was leaked nearly 300 pages of emails shows growing concern from those at the Defense Department that the freeze would violate the Impoundment Control Act.

It included a message from an OMB official who said Donald Trump had given ‘clear direction… to hold’ military aid from Ukraine.

The emails were initially released in two batches last month on December 12 and 21, but the Justice Department decided to black-out several sections, either partially or fully.

Now some of the contents of the blacked-out sections have been leaked.

Senator Chuck Schumer reacted to the content of the emails on Twitter Thursday.

‘The newly-revealed unredacted emails are a devastating blow to Senator McConnell’s push to have a trial without the documents and witnesses we’ve requested,’ Schumer wrote.

Read more here

Trump Winery Fired Undocumented Workers — But Only After Grape Harvest Ended

(New York Times) – For years, the Trump Organization used undocumented workers to tend to its hotels, golf courses and other properties, even as Donald Trump railed against the threat of illegal immigration as both a candidate and president.

This year, faced with a public reckoning after some of those workers came forward, the organization has been cracking down.

Dozens have been fired. The company vowed to follow what was already a widespread industry practice of using E-Verify checks to confirm employment eligibility. Leaders issued messages to laborers that they would need to show proof that they could work. Immigrants from places like El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico have left their jobs.

Then, on Monday, after harvests were complete at Trump Winery in Virginia, the organization fired several more.

Find out more here

Bernie Sanders beat Democratic rivals to raise $34.5 million in the 4th quarter

(CBS News) – Bernie Sanders raised $34.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, his campaign announced Thursday, racking up 1.8 million donations in the quarter ending December 31. 

Sanders’ best fundraising month was December, when he collected 900,000 donations totaling over $18 million.

In addition to the impressive total for the quarter, the campaign announced on January 1 that it had reached 5 million campaign contributions, more than any Democratic opponent and more than President Trump’s reelection campaign. 

Sanders raised more than any of the other Democratic candidates in the third and first quarters of 2019.

Read more here

January 2, 2020

Marijuana Now Legal in Illinois

This Day in History | 1974

Richard Nixon signs the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act, setting a new national maximum speed limit of 55 mile per hour. 

Good Morning Middle Americans, 

The lines wrapped around the store fronts and people stood in the freezing cold, just to buy legal Marijuana.  Illinois is the eleventh state to now offer legal recreational marijuana. 

Info war creator Alex Jones has been ordered to pay $100,000 in legal fees to the father of child killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. 

Finally, Pope Francis is apologizing for gently slapping the wrist of a woman after she grabbed him and wouldn’t let his hand go during New Year’s Eve services at the Vatican. 

Read all about it !

– Fraser Dixon 

Illinois Rings in New Year’s Day with its First Legal Recreational Marijuana Sales

(CNBC) – Illinois rings in the new year on Wednesday by joining 10 states and the District of Columbia in allowing the legal sale and purchase of marijuana.

Illinois became the 11th state in the nation to legalize recreational pot use in June after Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law, permitting Illinois residents and visitors to buy the drug from licensed dispensaries, beginning on Jan. 1.

Marijuana enthusiasts and those curious about the drug are expected to flock to the more than three dozen licensed dispensaries in the state, most located in Chicago or Chicago suburbs.

Cresco Labs, a Chicago-based cannabis company, says it has spent weeks training its roughly 530 employees in Illinois on educating new marijuana users in anticipation of a swell of curious shoppers on Wednesday.

Read more here

Related: Illinois governor Pardons 11,000 for Low-Level Marijuana Convictions

Judge Orders Alex Jones and Infowars to Pay $100,000 in Sandy Hook Legal Fees

(New York Times) – A Texas judge has ordered the Infowars founder Alex Jones to pay $100,000 in legal fees in a defamation case brought against him by the father of a Sandy Hook school shooting victim, the latest court setback for the conspiracy theorist.

In a Dec. 20 ruling, Judge Scott Jenkins of Travis County District Court said that Mr. Jones and his lawyer intentionally disregarded an October court order to produce witnesses and other materials to the plaintiff in the lawsuit, Neil Heslin.

Judge Jenkins said the defense’s failure to cooperate “should be treated as contempt of court.” In two separate orders issued the same day, the judge told Mr. Jones to pay $65,825 and $34,323 in lawyer fees incurred by Mr. Heslin. He also denied Mr. Jones’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which argues that Mr. Jones and Infowars defamed Mr. Heslin by calling his account of his son’s death a lie.

Mr. Heslin lost his son, Jesse Lewis, 6, in the December 2012 shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which a heavily-armed gunman killed 20 first graders and six educators before taking his own life.

Find out more here

Pope Apologizes for Slapping Arm of Woman who Tugged Him

(Reuters) – Pope Francis apologized on Wednesday for having angrily slapped a woman’s arm when she had grabbed hold of his hand and yanked him towards her, saying he had lost his patience and set a “bad example”.

His unusual apology came after he used his first homily of the new year to denounce violence against women, which he compared to profaning God.

Pope Francis, 83, had a sharp encounter with a woman on Tuesday evening during a walkabout in St. Peters Square.

The pilgrim, who has not been identified, unexpectedly seized his hand and pulled him towards her, causing him evident alarm. A clearly disgruntled Francis wrenched himself free by slapping down at her arm.

“So many times we lose patience, even me, and I apologize for yesterday’s bad example,” the pope told thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday at the end of the traditional New Year Mass.

See what happened here

January 1, 2020

BREAKING: Up to 4,000 US Troops Get Ready for Iraq

This Day in History | 1863

Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation.

Happy New Year Middle Americans. 

We were planning on just completing the final list of the biggest stories of 2019 today, but this situation in Iraq appears to be very serious. More American troops are headed to Iraq to help secure the situation.  Read more about it below. 

And as promised the complete list is below. It might not be the sexiest story, but the fact that the US economy has been growing for 10 years makes it the most significant story, not just from 2019, but from the last decade. Think about where this country was 10 years ago. The economy was in the gutter, just starting to recover from the Great Recession. Now its roaring. But it was also roaring in 1920.  We are seeing references to the roaring 20’s all over the place.  So what will happen between 2020-2029?  

Read all about it

– Fraser Dixon

BREAKING: Up to 4,000 US Troops Could Deploy to Middle East Amid Baghdad Unrest

(Fox News) – The U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division’s alert brigade has been issued orders to deploy rapidly to Kuwait amid the unrest in Baghdad, three U.S. defense officials told Fox News on Tuesday.

At least 750 paratroopers are set to deploy to the region immediately, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement.

The alert brigade of roughly 4,000 paratroopers, known as the DRB — the Deployment Ready Brigade — has been told to prepare for a possible deployment in the days ahead after hundreds of Iranian-backed militiamen tried to storm the U.S. embassy in Baghdad Tuesday.

Within that alert brigade, three rifle battalions had a certain alert sequence, 18 hours, 36 hours and 54 hours for the third. The entire brigade had a 96-hour alert window to deploy.

Read more here

The 7 Biggest Stories of 2019

#7) The US Women’s National Soccer Team and Equal Pay Push 

#6) Internet Censorship

#5) Hurricane Dorian Slams the Bahamas, Barely Misses US

#4) The Streaming Wars Heat Up

#3) Investigating the Investigators

#2)  Russia, Ukraine & Impeachment

#1) The Economy 

As 2010s Conclude, Investors Have Enjoyed Bull Market for the Ages — but Many Americans Have Been Left Out

(Washington Post) – The U.S. stock market concluded the decade in record territory, a boom that emerged from the wreckage of the financial crisis but left on the sidelines the millions of Americans without money to invest.

The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, which tracks the biggest American companies, has registered a total return of about 256 percent, or 13.5 percent annually, since the beginning of 2010, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at the S&P Dow Jones Indices. That compares with an average annual total return, including dividends, of 10.3 percent since the 1920s, he said.

That means someone who had $10,000 in the S&P 500 at the start of the decade has ended it with close to $36,000. In 2019 alone, investors saw a total return of more than 31 percent.

The stock market has contributed to a high degree of economic satisfaction across the country, on top of a very low unemployment rate and modest but steady economic growth, surveys show. People who got into the market early in the decade, or even joined more lately, will have seen their retirement assets, college savings and other investments increase measurably.

Read more here 

December 31, 2019

Trump Warns Iran After Attack on US Embassy in Iraq

This Day in History | 1972 

Baseball star Roberto Clemente dies in a plane crash.

Happy New Year’s Eve Middle Americans. 

It’s already 2020 in some parts of the world. Hard to believe that we are saying goodbye to another decade and hello to a new one.  

One story we are watching closely is unfolding in Iraq as I write this. The US embassy was a attacked by Iranian backed militias. The militias were returning from funerals for militants killed by US airstrikes. The airstrikes were in response to the death of a US contractor, killed by those same militias.  President Trump is vowing to hold Iran accountable. The question is how? 

We also have an update to the deadly Texas church shooting. The armed security guard who shot and killed the gunman at the Texas church was a firearms instructor.  And we have a tie at the top of Gallup’s new list of most admired American. 

Also make sure to check back tomorrow for our final update to our list of the top 7 stories of 2019.

Read all about it!

– Fraser Dixon 

Revelers Around the World Usher in the New Decade

(AP) – Revelers around the globe are bidding farewell to a decade that will be remembered for the rise of social media, the Arab Spring, the #MeToo movement and, of course, President Donald Trump.

A look at how the world is ushering in 2020

Trump: Iran Will Be Held ‘Fully Responsible’ for Attack on US Embassy in Iraq

(CNBC) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday blamed Iran for planning an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq and promised to hold Tehran “fully responsible.”

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible.”

“In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!” he added.

Read more here

Firearms Instructor Took Out Gunman at Texas Church Service

(AP) – Alarms went off in Jack Wilson’s head the moment a man wearing a fake beard, a wig, a hat and a long coat walked into a Texas church for Sunday services.

By the time the man approached a communion server and pulled out a shotgun, Wilson and another security volunteer were already reaching for their own guns.

The attacker shot the other volunteer, Richard White, and then the server, Anton “Tony” Wallace, sending congregants scrambling for cover. The gunman was heading toward the front of the sanctuary as Wilson searched for a clear line of fire.

Learn more here

Obama, Trump Tie as Most Admired Man in 2019

(Gallup) – Barack Obama and Donald Trump are tied this year as the most admired man. It is Obama’s 12th time in the top spot versus the first for Trump. Michelle Obama is the most admired woman for the second year in a row.

Each year since 1948, Gallup has asked Americans to name, in an open-ended fashion, which man and woman living anywhere in the world they admire most. This year’s results are based on a Dec. 2-15 poll.

Americans’ choice for most admired man this year is sharply divided along party lines: 41% of Democrats name Obama, while 45% of Republicans choose Trump. Relatively few Democrats choose Trump and relatively few Republicans pick Obama, while independents’ choices are divided about equally between the two men.

See the full results of the poll here

The 7 Biggest Stories of 2019

#7) The US Women’s National Soccer Team and Equal Pay Push 

#6) Internet Censorship

#5) Hurricane Dorian Slams the Bahamas, Barely Misses US

#4) The Streaming Wars Heat Up

#3) Investigating the Investigators

#2 Russia, Ukraine & Impeachment

Yes, we know these are technically different stories, but the way they have linked together tell us more about the Democrat’s strategy to hamper the president than what actually happened between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russia, and the Trump presidency and it’s foreign policy towards Ukraine. 

The New York Time’s Peter Baker had an interesting take on impeachment vis a vis President Trump’s relationship with the GOP – you can read more about it here

December 30, 2019

Texas Church Shooter Kills 3

This Day in History | 1903

A fire breaks out at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago, killing 600 people. 

Good Morning Middle Americans, 

It’s been a rough few days for attacks on religious folks in America. First a machete wielding man attacked a Hanukkah party in New York, then yesterday in Texas, a man with shotgun opened fired on congregants while they were taking communion.  Three people are dead, and one has to wonder if more wouldn’t be dead if not for the armed security the church had on hand. 

Also today, we have a couple of stories on Joe Biden, first he says he’d nominate former President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court, if he wins the presidential race in 2020.  Biden is also clearing up the comments he made about whether he’d comply with a Senate subpoena.

And it turns out depressed people are more likely to use cannabis than people who are not depressed.  

Finally we our #2 biggest story of the year and it’s impeachment, Russia and Ukraine.  Make sure you check back tomorrow for our biggest story of the year, and if you thought it was impeachment, we have a surprise for you. 

Read All About it!

  • Fraser Dixon 

3 Dead After Shooting At Texas Church

(CNN) – A man shot and killed two people during a church service in White Settlement, Texas, on Sunday morning before two members of the church security team shot and killed him, authorities said.

City Police Chief J.P. Bevering said the shooter entered West Freeway Church of Christ and sat down in the sanctuary, then stood, pulled out a shotgun and shot two parishioners.

“There was a security team inside the church and they eliminated the threat,” Bevering said.

Find out more from CNN here

And according to the CBS Station in Dallas the third person who was shot, died from his injuries Sunday evening. 

Biden Open to Nominating Obama to Supreme Court 

(The Daily Mail) – Joe Biden says he’s open to potentially nominating former President Barack Obama to the US Supreme Court.

The former Vice President and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate made the comment while appearing at a campaign event in Washington, Iowa on Saturday.

An attendee asked if he would nominate Obama to sit on the highest court in the country.

In response, Biden replied: ‘If he’d take it, yes.’ 

Read more from the Daily Mail here

Related: Biden Leaves it Unclear if he Would Honor Senate Subpoena

(CNBC) – Joe Biden sought Saturday to clarify his assertion that if the Senate subpoenas him to testify in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, he will defy the order. But he did not clear up what he would do.

A day earlier, the Democratic presidential contender told The Des Moines Register he stood by his position that he would defy the Republican-controlled Senate if it ordered him to be a witness in the proceedings.                            

“Correct,” he said when asked if that was still his intent. “And the reason I wouldn’t (testify) is because it’s all designed to deal with Trump doing what he’s done his whole life — trying to take the focus off of him.”

Find out More from CNBC here

Cannabis Use Rising Faster Among Depressed Americans

(Reuters) – Regular cannabis use has risen more quickly among people with depression, and they’re less likely to perceive it as risky, compared with people who aren’t depressed, a U.S. study suggests.

Researchers examined data collected from a total of almost 729,000 people aged 12 years and older between 2005 and 2017, including any prior-month cannabis use and any depression experienced over the previous year.

By the final year of the study, about 19% of people with depression reported at least some cannabis use, compared with 8.7% of individuals without a recent history of depression. In 2005, about 10.2% of people with depression and 5.7% of individuals without depression used the drug.

Learn more here

The 7 Biggest Stories of 2019

#7) The US Women’s National Soccer Team and Equal Pay Push 

#6) Internet Censorship

#5) Hurricane Dorian Slams the Bahamas, Barely Misses US

#4) The Streaming Wars Heat Up

#3) Investigating the Investigators

#2 Russia, Ukraine & Impeachment

Yes, we know these are technically different stories, but the way they have linked together tell us more about the Democrat’s strategy to hamper the president than what actually happened between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russia, and the Trump presidency and it’s foreign policy towards Ukraine. 

The New York Time’s Peter Baker had an interesting take on impeachment vis a vis President Trump’s relationship with the GOP – you can read more about it here

December 29, 2019

Trump Outs Ukraine Whistleblower

This Day in History |  1845

Texas joins the Union, becoming the 28th state in the United States.

Good Morning Middle Americans, 

President Trump’s holiday tweet storm continues.  And he apparently is not too concerned about naming the whistleblower from the phone call which kick started this whole impeachment push.  It’s been controversial to use the Whistleblower’s name, as people in this person’s position are normally granted some protections for being whistleblowers.  But there’s a whole other debate as to whether he actually deserves protections. 

Also we have the latest on the machete attack at Hanukkah party in New York. The attack comes after the city announced they are stepping up patrols of jewish communities because of anti-Semitic activity. 

And we have a report about 24 states, and other places raising the minimum wage in 2020. 

Finally, we are down to number three, on our list of top stories of the year. 

Read all about it

– Fraser Dixon

Trump Retweets Post Naming Alleged Whistleblower

(AP) – President Donald Trump retweeted a post that included the alleged name of the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment by the House.

Just before midnight Friday, Trump retweeted a message from Twitter user @Surfermom77, an account that claims to be a woman named Sophia who lives in California. The account shows some indications of automation, including an unusually high amount of activity and profile pictures featuring stock images from the internet.

By Saturday morning, the post seemed to have disappeared on many users’ feeds, suggesting Trump had deleted it, though it could still be found in other ways, including on a website that logs every presidential tweet.

Read more here

At Least 5 People Stabbed By Machete-Wielding Suspect At Hanukkah Party

(CBS NewYork) – At least five people have been stabbed in an attack on a Rabbi’s home in New York‘s Rockland County. That attacker is now reportedly in custody after fleeing the scene.

CBS confirmed a man entered Rabbi Rottenburg’s Shul in Monsey and stabbed several people just before 10 p.m. Saturday night.

The man, covering his face with a scarf, reportedly entered the home and pulled out a machete to attack the victims during a Chanukah celebration. The suspect reportedly chased after victims as they fled the synagogue before running off and escaping in a gray Nissan Sentra.

Shortly after midnight on Sunday, Ramapo police announced that suspect had been arrested. Police tell CBS2 the alleged attacker was taken into custody in Harlem.

Learn more about the attack here

24 States Will Raise the Minimum Wage in 2020

(CNN) – The minimum wage is set to go up in 72 jurisdictions in 2020. The increases will be in 24 states and 48 cities and counties, according to the advocacy group National Employment Law Project.

Most of those changes are set to begin on the first day of 2020, though New York’s pay raise is set to begin December 31, the NELP reported.

On New Year’s Day, 20 states and 26 cities and counties, mostly in California, will raise the minimum wages. Four more states and 23 more cities and counties will join later in the year, according to NELP.

To see if the minimum wage is going up where you live, click here

The 7 Biggest Stories of 2019

 #7) The US Women’s National Soccer Team and Equal Pay Push 

#6) Internet Censorship

#5) Hurricane Dorian Slams the Bahamas, Barely Misses US

#4) The Streaming Wars Heat Up

#3) Attorney General William Barr Gives Top Priority to Investigating the Investigators 

(Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General William Barr is personally involved in investigating President Donald Trump’s complaints that he and his campaign were improperly targeted by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies during the 2016 election campaign.

Barr earlier this year began to investigate the investigators who looked into whether his campaign colluded with Russia. Moscow interfered in the U.S. electoral process with a campaign of hacking and propaganda, according to U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who charged several Trump campaign officials with crimes but did not find enough evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy with Russia.

Barr’s investigation is one of at least three inquiries into the matter by the Department of Justice. It is being handled by John Durham, a seasoned prosecutor who is respected by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Read more here

December 28, 2019

“Crazy’ Nancy Pelosi Making Trump Squirm

This Day in History | 1981

Elizabeth Jordan Carr becomes the first American child born as a result of in-vitro fertilization in Norfolk, Virginia.

Good Morning Middle Americans, 

Keeping with a trend we talked about yesterday, one could say the president has too much time on his hands whilst on vacation in Palm Beach Florida. That is especially true if you have been watching the tweeter feed of Donald J. Trump.  He’s commenting on Home Alone 2 edits that cut him out of a Canadian broadcast of the film in 2014. And he’s retweeting all kinds of wild stuff.  What ever’s going on, its hilarious and a little scary at the same time. 

One of the reason President Trump seems to be upset is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. More specifically the tactics she is employing during this impeachment process. Hurry up and wait. She’s still sitting on the House-passed articles of impeachment.  And it’s apparently driving the president nuts. 

We also have an interesting update about New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and the charges he faces in FL. Prosecutors want to up the misdemeanor prostitution charges to felonies.  This, after a court tossed most of the evidence in the case because. The judge ruled that the evidence, including video surveillance was not collected properly. 

Two men have been kicked out of the National Guard over their ties to a white nationalist group.  Disney Characters tell police they were groped by tourists. And we say goodbye to radio legend Don Imus, who died yesterday at 79. 

‘Trump is Powerless’: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Is Doing to the President What No One Has In the 3 Years Since He Took Office

(Business Insider) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is doing to President Donald Trump what no one else has in the nearly three years since he took office: She’s making him squirm.

In the wake of an impeachment inquiry and with a looming trial in the Senate, the president has become increasingly frustrated by Pelosi’s unprecedented decision to withhold the two articles of impeachment against him from the upper chamber until Majority Leader Mitch McConnell guarantees a fair and impartial trial.

Pelosi’s refusal to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate has robbed the president of what he wants most: “total and complete exoneration” following a trial.

Trump, for his part, has made no secret of his fury. He spent Christmas evening ranting about Pelosi and impeachment to his 68 million Twitter followers.

“Why should Crazy Nancy Pelosi, just because she has a slight majority in the House, be allowed to Impeach the President of the United States? Got ZERO Republican votes, there was no crime, the call with Ukraine was perfect, with ‘no pressure,'” Trump tweeted on Wednesday night.

Prosecutors Turn Up the Heat on Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Over Prostitution Charges

(Sun Sentinel) – Florida prosecutors just raised the stakes in New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s fight against prostitution charges.

It’s been nearly a year since the 78-year-old part-time Palm Beach resident paid for sex acts at a Jupiter massage parlor likened to a brothel.

But now lawyers for the state are arguing for the first time that Kraft — charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution — actually committed a felony.

The latest court filing from the Attorney General’s Office suggests Kraft could face a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, if the state wins its appeal of a lower court order favoring the billionaire.

2 Kicked Out of National Guard Over White Supremacist Ties

(ABC News) – Two men have been kicked out of the Army National Guard after liberal activists uncovered their membership in a religious group with white supremacist ties.

Brandon Trent East told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Alabama National Guard sent him a separation notice on Dec. 14.

A spokeswoman for the Georgia National Guard said Dalton Woodward is no longer a member. She declined to comment on the terms of Woodward’s separation.

Woodward didn’t respond to a request for comment left with his friend East.

Earlier in 2019, the Atlanta Antifacists group published a report saying East and Woodward were leaders of the Norse pagan group Ravensblood Kindred. The group is part of the Asatru Folk Assembly, which researchers say endorses white supremacy.

Find out more here

Disney Characters Say Tourists Inappropriately Touched Them

(AP) -Walt Disney World employees who portray Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck each filed police reports this month claiming they were inappropriately touched by tourists.

The woman inside the Mickey Mouse costume went to the hospital with neck injuries caused by a grandmother patting the character’s head, while the employees wearing the Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck costumes were groped by tourists, according to Orange County Sheriff’s Office reports.

The incidents come after a 51-year-old man was arrested in November after an employee portraying a Disney Princess told investigators he groped her breast while getting a photo taken.

Read more about these handsy tourists at Disney here

Radio Legend Don Imus Dead at 79

(Politico) – Disc jockey Don Imus, whose career was made and then undone by his acid tongue during a decades-long rise to radio stardom and an abrupt public plunge after a nationally broadcast racial slur, has died. He was 79.

Imus died Friday morning at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in College Station, Texas, after being hospitalized since Christmas Eve, according to a statement issued by his family.

Imus survived drug and alcohol woes, a raunchy appearance before President Clinton and several firings during his long career behind the microphone. But he was vilified and eventually fired after describing a women’s college basketball team as “nappy headed hos.”

His April 2007 racist and misogynist crack about the mostly black Rutgers squad, an oft-replayed 10-second snippet, crossed a line that Imus had long straddled as his rants catapulted him to prominence. The remark was heard coast to coast on 60 radio stations and the MSNBC cable network.

The 7 Biggest Stories of 2019

 #7) The US Women’s National Soccer Team and Equal Pay Push 

#6) Internet Censorship

#5) Hurricane Dorian Slams the Bahamas, Barely Misses US

#4) The Streaming Wars Heat Up

The Decade Internet Eclipsed Cable: Who Won And Lost The Streaming Wars

(Forbes) – The last decade saw the media world transformed—the long-delayed promise of the internet taking over as entertainment’s primary distribution vehicle was fulfilled as Netflix and YouTube became industry leaders. Legacy giants splurged on M&A to keep up: Disney bought (most of) 21st Century Fox, AT&T bought Time Warner and DirecTV, Comcast bought NBCUniversal and Viacom merged with CBS, a total of $240 billion spent in the hope of maintaining some semblance of control.

The decade may be ending, but not the battle for eyeballs.

Read more about the winners and losers here

December 27, 2019

Trump Cries Foul After CBC Removes His Scene from Home Alone 2

This Day in History | 1932 

Radio City Music Hall opens in New York City. 

Good Morning Middle Americans, 

President Trump has proven once again that nothing is too petty for him to notice.  The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently cut out his scene from Home Alone 2.  Yesterday the president blamed, although jokingly, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the edit.  The president’s son also joined in on the Christmas fun, blasting the CBC, and also accused it of bias. 

AOC for president? Are you kidding me? Apparently not. Even though she is still a few years shy of the constitutionally required age of 35 to become president, people are still buzzing about the idea.  The “buzz” is based mostly on AOC’s ability to draw a crowd and capture the spot light.  

Also, it is now illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy tobacco products.  It happened with the new massive government spending bill recently signed by President Trump.  The FDA is less clear on how to implement the change in the law. 

Finally today, in a story that will certainly make many people’s blood boil, Boeing’s fried CEO could walk away with a $60 million dollar retirement package.  This, despite his botched handling of the two deadly Boeing crashes that happened on his watch. 

Read all about it. 

– Fraser Dixon

Trump Blames Trudeau for Removing HIs Scene from Home Alone 2

(Newsweek) – President Donald Trump jokingly fired back at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and the country’s leader Justin Trudeau on Thursday after his cameo was cut from the nation’s airings of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

In the original 1992 Christmas classic, the film’s main character Kevin McCallister runs into Trump in the Plaza Hotel after being separated from his parents—again. He asks the then-businessman for directions to the lobby and Trump obliges before walking away.

Over the past week, Canadian broadcaster CBC aired the film with the president’s cameo removed. Although CBC has said the edits were made in 2014, before Trump officially announced his 2016 presidential campaign, it hasn’t stopped the president’s supporters—including his eldest son Donald Trump Jr.—from accusing the network of bias.

“The movie will never be the same! (just kidding),” the U.S. president tweeted. “I guess Justin T doesn’t much like my making him pay up on NATO or Trade!”

Read more about this “controversy” here

AOC For President? The Buzz has Begun

(Politico) – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was campaigning for Bernie Sanders at a jampacked beach-side rally last week when she took a moment to look beyond 2020.

“I know, and we all know, that this isn’t just about Bernie Sanders,” she said. “This is about a movement that has been decades in the making.”

Since endorsing him in October, Ocasio-Cortez has become a supercharged surrogate for Sanders in early-voting and delegate-rich states. As she’s drawn massive crowds alongside the Vermont senator in Iowa, Nevada, California and New York, progressive insiders and activists are increasingly whispering about Ocasio-Cortez inheriting the movement one day — and running for the White House with it behind her.

“The future of the Democratic Party is not Pete Buttigieg. It’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” said Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, president of the California Young Democrats, which has endorsed Sanders. “She has gripped the attention of fellow millennials across the country. The Green New Deal has changed the conversation on environmental action in the Democratic Party.”

Read more about the people who think that AOC can be president here

FDA Officially Raises Federal Minimum Age to Purchase Tobacco from 18 to 21

(USA Today) – The new minimum age applies to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping cartridges. 

The provision came as part of a $1.4 trillion spending package signed by President Donald Trump Dec. 20, which amended the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which also included $1.4 billion reserved for building the U.S.-Mexico border wall and $25 million for gun violence research.

It had bipartisan support, being introduced in May by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. 

What was unclear in the proposal, however, when the change in the minimum age would be enacted. From the date of Trump signed the legislation, the FDA had six months to amend their policies, per Convenience Store News. 

Read more about this change of the law here

Boeing’s Fired CEO Could Walk Away With a $60 Million Golden Parachute

(CNN Business) – Boeing’s ousted CEO Dennis Muilenburg left behind a long list of problems at Boeing, but he’s walking away with a sizable golden parachute.

The exact amount of money that he will leave with isn’t yet clear. That will depend on his negotiations with Boeing, including how the company labels his departure — for example, was it a retirement? A resignation? A layoff?

But public filings show Muilenburg could be entitled to a benefit plan worth more than $30 million and, potentially, a severance payment of about $7 million. Muilenburg also has another $20 million-plus worth of vested stock and a pension package totaling more than $11 million.

Muilenburg, 55, became CEO of Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company, in 2015 after serving in several other executive roles, including chief operating officer and CEO of its defense space and security division, throughout his 34-year tenure at the company at Boeing.

Read more about the settlement here

The 7 Biggest Stories of 2019 Countdown

#7) The US Women’s National Soccer Team and Equal Pay Push 

#6) Internet Censorship

Hurricane Season Ends, but Dorian Left a ‘Massive, Massive Crisis’ in the Bahamas

#5) Hurricane Dorian Slams the Bahamas, Barely Misses US

(The Miami Herald) – The liquor stores do brisk business with cases of water. Aid groups and utilities offer giveaways regularly. Everywhere you turn, a professionally printed sign advertises water and ice for sale.

Those signs will probably be there for a while. Almost three months after Hurricane Dorian became the strongest storm to make landfall in the Bahamas, the tap water isn’t safe to drink in Grand Bahama. And it won’t be drinkable until at least June 2020, Grand Bahama Utility Company says.

“Totally unacceptable,” said Iram Lewis, Bahamian minister for disaster recovery. “We cannot wait until June next year.”

When 23 feet of storm surge sloshed over Grand Bahama, one of the largest islands in the archipelago, it destroyed half the homes and sullied the island’s fresh water with salt water. The utility is exploring drilling more wells or building an expensive desalination plant, one of many tough decisions the cash-strapped government has to make as it recovers from the historic storm. Dorian hit the Abacos on Sept. 1 and Grand Bahama on Sept. 2 as a Category 5 hurricane.

Read more here

December 26, 2019

MSNBC’S Maddow: NRA ‘Implosion’ Is Second Biggest Story of 2019, After Impeachment

This Day in History | 1972

Former President Harry Truman dies at his home in Independence, Missouri. 

Good Morning Middle Americans, 

We hope you had a lovely Christmas and Hanukkah with your friends and family. We are back on the grind today (it’s not really a grind 😉 – bringing you what we think are some of the most important stories of the day to keep you informed.  

One of those stories today includes a take from Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC’s highest rated program. Maddow says the ‘implosion’ at the National Riffle Association would have been the biggest story of the year if it weren’t for this whole impeachment saga.  We at Middle American News aren’t sure if we agree, but she does make a compelling argument. And what has happened at the NRA in 2019, raises a lot of questions about the future of the gun lobbying group. 

And WOW – is all we can say about Rudy Giuliani’s most recent interview with New York Magazine.  Several people have speculated about Rudy’s drinking during his controversial interviews. In this interview, he and writer Oliva Nuzzi have bloody Mary’s and what comes next is really something.  

– Fraser Dixon 

Rachel Maddow: If Not for Impeachment, NRA Implosion Would’ve Been the Story of 2019 

(Mediaite) – If not for impeachment, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow argued on Tuesday that the “slow-motion car crash” and internal implosion occurring at the National Rifle Association would be the top political story of the year.

Beginning in the spring of this year, headlines have cropped up over the past months detailing massive unrest and structural issues at the NRA, including a civil war between the organization’s advocacy side and their revenue side, the advertising firm Ackerman McQueen, as the NRA filed a lawsuit against the Oklahoma City-based agency after they attempted to depart from the largest pro-gun group in the nation. Things became so bad at the NRA that the organization warned its members in August that they may be forced to file for bankruptcy.

Read more about Maddow’s take on impeachment from Mediaite here

Rudy Giuliani: I’m More of a Jew than (George) Soros

(New York Magazine) – As the black SUV came to a stop on 33rd Street in Manhattan, its lights flashing, a pale hand stretched through the open window of the passenger door and gave a little wave. It was attached to Rudy Giuliani, who smiled from behind his tortoiseshell sunglasses. He apologized for being late. “Couldn’t go on sidewalks like I used to,” he said, mourning a perk of his past life as mayor.

It was early in the afternoon on Sunday, December 8, and Giuliani had just returned from Ukraine, where he said he was looking for information to undermine the case to impeach his client, President Donald Trump.

“We snuck out of Kiev to escape having to answer a lot of questions,” he said, though it wasn’t clear if he meant from the press or government officials. “They all thought we were going to leave on Friday morning, and I organized a private plane to go to Vienna on Thursday night.”

Read more of Giuliani’s wild interview from New York Magazine here

GOP Senator ‘Disturbed’ by McConnell Impeachment Remark

(AP) – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, said she was disturbed to hear Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say there would be “total coordination” between the White House and the Senate over the upcoming presidential impeachment trial.

“And in fairness, when I heard that I was disturbed,” Murkowski told KTUU Tuesday before saying there should be distance between the White House and the Senate in how the trial is conducted.

To me it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense, and so I heard what leader McConnell had said, I happened to think that that has further confused the process.”

In a recent interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, described his planning with the White House.

Carolina Couple Calls 911 on Vacuum Thought to be Intruder

(WKTR) – A Forsyth North Carolina County couple called 911 thinking an intruder was in their home — but it turned out to be something far less threatening.

Just after midnight, a couple heard loud noises coming from the downstairs of their home on Lewisville-Clemson Road. Thinking it was an intruder, they hid in their closet and called 911.

When deputies searched the home, all they found was a robotic vacuum. It had somehow turned itself on, got stuck and began banging on a wall.

The Seven Biggest Stories of the Year Countdown

#7) The US Women’s National Soccer Team and Equal Pay Push 

#6) Internet Censorship 

(CNN) – At the start of this year, as Zimbabwe cut off internet access across the country following anti-government protests, the internet pressure group Keep It On warned that such “shutdowns must never be allowed to become the new normal.”

Twelve months later, however, that’s exactly where we are.

Read more about the rise of internet censorship here

December 25, 2019

The Top Stories of 2019

Merry Christmas to All! 

This Day in History | 1914

Just after midnight on Christmas morning, the majority of German troops engaged in World War I cease firing their guns and artillery and commence to sing Christmas carols. At certain points along the eastern and western fronts, the soldiers of Russia, France, and Britain even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

Good Morning Middle Americans, 

On this Christmas, I just want to send huge THANK YOU and a warm holiday message to all our subscribers out there in Middle America, the most important part of our nation.  

When we talk about Middle America, we aren’t just talking about the states between the coastal enclaves of the nation’s super-rich elites. We aren’t just talking about the middle class families, those that work too hard at a their jobs, and at homes to really complain too much about the state of our politics in this country.  We aren’t just talking about those who don’t buy the bull shat from either political party. We are talking about all of those things together. 

We took some time to read your comments and we are humbled by your kinds words. 

Chad from Missouri wrote: “I genuinely enjoy reading through your blog posts.”

Cynthia from Kentucky sent this to us: “Hello, just wanted to say, I liked this blog post. It was funny. Keep on posting!”

Milo from Denver wrote: “Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it, you can be a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and will come

back later on. I want to encourage you to continue your great work,

have a nice evening!”

There were some negative comments too, but since this is supposed to be a happy day, we’ll leave those for another time. 

We sincerely want to thank you for you comments and please keep them coming.

We have a big year planned ahead for 2020. So please tell your friends and family about us and help us spread the word. 

Over the next week, we are going to mark the seven biggest stories of the year.  Not necessarily in any order, but they are all stories that had a huge impact on 2019, or they will be stories that we continue to talk about in 2020. 

We’ll be back with our regular content tomorrow as well, but for now, on Christmas, we’ll just start the countdown. 

Read all about it!

Fraser Dixon 

7) – The Women’s World Cup and the Equal Pay Movement

As Buzzfeed accurately reported, it wasn’t just 2019, it was really their success over the last decade that defines the US women’s national team. But that success culminated this year with a victory bigger than any trophy.  2019 was the year that women sued their employer for equal pay. The suit is still pending, but they’ve won the respect of a nation.  And their suit could change sports for ever. 

See a countdown of the team’s success over the last decade – click here

To learn more about their law suit – click here

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