This dating app certainly made a bumble of the situation with Sharon Stone.
The 61-year-old actor was not impressed with Bumble’s attempt at humor when it reinstated her account after she was mistakenly removed from the dating platform.
The app responded swiftly after Stone posted on Twitter and Instagram that she had been blocked from the app because “some users reported that it couldn’t possibly be me!”
There can only be one 👑 Stone. Looks like our users thought you were too good to be true. We’ve made sure that you won’t be blocked again. We hope that everyone in our community takes a sec to verify their profiles. (Catherine Tramell from Basic Instinct gets a pass today!)
— Bumble (@bumble) December 30, 2019
“Looks like our users thought you were too good to be true,” Bumble tweeted in response to Stone’s complaint. “We’ve made sure that you won’t be blocked again. We hope that everyone in our community takes a sec to verify their profiles. (Catherine Tramell from Basic Instinct gets a pass today!).
Stone, who has spoken in the past about how that leg-crossing scene in “Basic Instinct” had affected her dignity, did not take too kindly to the reference.
Dear Bumble, you are confusing my honesty with your fantasy. This is a disservice to the men and women who partake in @bumble. I am Sharon, I am a woman. Thank you.♥️https://t.co/C1FlN2PsDX
— Sharon Stone (@sharonstone) December 31, 2019
“Dear Bumble, you are confusing my honesty with your fantasy,” she wrote, adding that its actions were “a disservice to the men and women who partake” in the app. “I am Sharon. I am a woman. Thank you,” she wrote, adding a link to her speech when she received the GQ Woman of the Year award in November 2019.
In that speech, she made a powerful statement about women’s sexuality and acknowledged that her dignity had been “hard won” after the flashing scene in the 1992 film.
“We have every right to be powerful in whatever form of sexuality we choose to have, and no one is allowed to take that away from you,” she said.
It seems Stone doesn’t even need the app to get a date ― Marvel actor Simu Liu tweeted at the star after her complaint.
“Hey, I don’t have bumble but uh… what are you doing like six months from now?” he asked.
Stone was married to journalist Phil Bronstein, but they split in 2004.
Sharon Stone Booted Off Dating App After Users Report Profile As Fake Teen Whose TikTok Account Was Suspended After Uighur Clip Says She Won’t Be Silenced These Major New Laws Take Effect Today Download
Megan Thee Stallion is ringing in 2020 by sending Twitter into a frenzy.
The rapper shared two snapshots on social media on Wednesday of herself next to none other than Beyoncé and her daughter Blue Ivy.
View this post on Instagram
Though Beyoncé also shared an end-of-year video of her favorite moments that included images of all her children and husband Jay-Z, the photos shared by Megan Thee Stallion went viral nearly immediately.
View this post on Instagram
People could not get over how lovely Blue Ivy, who turns 8 next week, looks in the images. Here’s what fans had to say:
Yea… this is a Blue Ivy appreciation post 😍 pic.twitter.com/AwSz5nfDho
— Ms. Pete’s Wh💋re (@TheeHorsey) January 1, 2020
Blue Ivy taking pictures with her fans! I love to see it! 💅🏽 pic.twitter.com/67B9D7y33w
— Jerome Trammel (@MrJeromeTrammel) January 1, 2020
Look at that first picture of Blue Ivy…… if you think that she’s not about to take the modeling world by storm with those cheekbones in a few years then you’re blind. https://t.co/9ZIdXtKtOg
— Sarah McGonagall (@sarahmcgphoto) January 1, 2020
Megan and Beyoncé finally linking up with a bonus of Blue Ivy coming to slay is exactly the energy I would expect 2020 to give us on the first day! pic.twitter.com/tsafKcCSzW
— st. ɳick 🎅🏽 (@Creat1ve) January 1, 2020
Megan Thee Stallion is already having a better 2020 than the rest of us. She got Blue Ivy out the house and in a picture. pic.twitter.com/C86CT60W5y
— Evette Dionne 🏁 (@freeblackgirl) January 1, 2020
Kathy Griffin kicked off a new decade with a trip down the aisle.
In a short video posted to her Twitter and Instagram accounts on New Year’s Eve, the actor and comedian revealed that she and boyfriend Randy Bick were planning to marry.
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Just hours later, Griffin followed up with a second post that included a 75-second clip of footage from the ceremony, which took place shortly after midnight on New Year’s Day.
The couple’s officiant was none other than Lily Tomlin.
The entire ceremony was just under 14 minutes but I have to give you guys the uncut first 75 seconds. LOVE IT! We promised you atypical. We are in love and we cannot stop laughing. Thank you @LilyTomlin and Jane Wagner!#HappyNewYear pic.twitter.com/O5vOss3TCD
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) January 1, 2020
“What was supposed to be a shallow, ‘toot it and boot it’ one-night stand has grown and flourished into something far more meaningful,” Tomlin cheekily quipped in the clip. “They stayed together. Then they couldn’t stay away from one another.”
Griffin wore a short-sleeved, sequined ivory gown for the occasion. She said the dress was actually the same one she’d worn for her first date with Bick, a marketing executive, back in 2011.
“I asked Randy to pick out which ever one of my long dresses was his favorite for any reason,” she wrote on Twitter. “He picked out this dress and showed me this photo. Romance is hotttt again.”
A) This was our first formal date in September 2011! We are in the back of a limo provided by the one only @GloriaEstefan because her team arranged for me to surprise her as a back up “dancer” when she performed at the Alma awards! pic.twitter.com/Z9kNaQHFpY
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) January 1, 2020
Griffin’s previous marriage to Matthew Moline ended in 2005 after four years.
The former “My Life on the D-List” star gushed about Bick in a 2016 interview with People, calling her beau “very sweet and very mellow.”
“Well you know I didn’t think it would last [because] he’s 18 years younger than I am,” she said at the time. Though she initially thought Bick “was just a man-whore,” her assumptions were quickly proven wrong.
“He’s like a regular guy, you know, he’s like a real guy,” she said. “He’s not like a Hollywood guy.”
The pair briefly split in November 2018, but by April of last year, had resumed their relationship.
“We just came to the decision that, we’ve really been through so much together,” Griffin told Entertainment Tonight in an October 2019 interview. “We both turned to each other and realized, this is the longest relationship for both of us, you know? We should fight for it and make it work.”
We promise to stop writing about ourselves in 2020 after spending much of last year celebrating the Washington Blade’s milestone 50th anniversary. But we are including that event in this roundup of 2019’s top local news stories:
No. 10 Blade celebrates 50th anniversary
Mayor Muriel Bowser and Blade Editor Kevin Naff at the Washington Blade’s 50th Anniversary Gala on Oct. 18. (Washington Blade photo by Zach Brien)
The Washington Blade on Oct. 18 celebrated the 50 anniversary of its founding in 1969 at a gala dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel at the Wharf in Southwest D.C.
A number of prominent activists and public officials joined the Blade’s staff and contributors at the celebration, including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who issued a proclamation declaring Oct. 18, 2019 Washington Blade Day. Also attending and speaking at the event was U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the senior openly gay member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Broadway star Frenchie Davis sang at the gala event as did the singing ensemble Potomac Fever, which is part of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C.
Through exhibits and a presentation at the gala and throughout the year in its weekly editions and on its website the Blade has highlighted aspects of its 50-year history of covering the LGBTQQ community, the LGBTQ rights movement and the societal changes surrounding the rights of LGBTQQ people in the metro D.C. area, nationally and internationally.
No. 9 Town nightclub plans to reopen in former D.C. church
The Ladies of Town wave goodbye to their fans. (Washington Blade photo by Wyatt Reid Westlund)
Owners of the former LGBTQ nightclub Town Danceboutique announced in August plans to reopen under the tentative name of Town 2.0 in a former church on North Capitol Street about a half-mile north of the U.S. Capitol.
The announcement came a little over a year after the popular club closed its location at 8th Street and Florida Avenue, N.W. where it operated for more than 10 years when the building it rented was sold to a developer that has since demolished it to build an apartment complex.
“After two full years of searching for a potential new space for a nightclub for the LGBTQ community, we are excited to confirm that we have found a space that has remarkable potential,” the Town owners said in a statement in August. But about two months later, opposition surfaced to the plans for a nightclub in the former St. James Baptist Church by the owners and tenants at an apartment building that abuts the former church.
Observers say Town made a strong case for how it will soundproof the church building to prevent noise from reaching the apartment building and its residents at a Dec. 4 hearing before the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which is expected to decide on whether to approve a license to allow Town to open in the church building sometime within 90 days of the December hearing.
No. 8 Deadlocked jury in trial of men charged in trans murder
About 70 demonstrators turned out to protest a hung jury outcome in the murder of transgender woman Deeniquia ‘Dee Dee’ Dodds. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
A D.C. Superior Court judge in April agreed to a request by prosecutors to schedule a second trial for two men charged with the July 4, 2016 murder of D.C. transgender woman Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds.
The decision by Judge Milton C. Lee to schedule a new trial, initially set for Feb. 25, 2020 but later changed to June 22, 2020, came one month after the jury in the first trial announced it was deadlocked over the pending charge of first-degree murder while armed against D.C. residents Monte Johnson, 23, and Jolonta Little, 28, prompting Lee to declare a mistrial.
No. 7 Whitman-Walker restructures, opens Liz building
The exterior of the Liz building, now open on 14th Street. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
In what it called a newly adopted “shared leadership model,” Whitman-Walker Health announced in January that its then-CEO Don Blanchon would become the founding CEO of a newly created nonprofit entity called Whitman-Walker System.
In the same announcement, Whitman-Walker said its then-Deputy Executive Director Naseema Shafi would replace Blanchon as CEO.
In an open letter to the community, Whitman-Walker said the shared leadership between Blanchon and Shafi was part of a major restructuring of its departments and divisions aimed at strengthening its wide range of healthcare programs and its ability to raise funds to sustain and expand those programs.
One of the endeavors Whitman-Walker officials say the restructuring is intended to bring about was the Nov. 6 official reopening of Whitman-Walker’s Elizabeth Taylor Building at 14th and R streets, N.W. The new six-story, mixed use, multimillion dollar building is part of a joint venture development project that Whitman-Walker entered into with a real estate development company
No. 6 Grosso leads fight to decriminalize sex work in D.C.
D.C. Council member David Grosso expressed his support for the nationwide effort to decriminalize sex work among consenting adults. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.
LGBTQ rights advocates were among the strongest supporters of legislation reintroduced in 2019 by D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At-Large) to decriminalize sex work in D.C.
In his effort to build support for the decriminalization legislation Grosso has pointed out that transgender sex workers have been among those he believes are being harmed by the city’s current laws against prostitution that result in arrests rather than more productive ways to address the issue.
More than 160 witnesses testified for and against Grosso’s bill, the Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019, during a contentious 14-hour D.C. Council hearing in October. There was insufficient consensus and overall support for the bill to bring it up for a vote in the full Council in 2019. Grosso vowed to continue efforts to advocate for the bill in 202
No. 5 Changes in Maryland politics
Maryland state Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) on Nov. 20, 2019, formally announced she is running for mayor of Baltimore. (Photo courtesy of Walter Ludwig)
The announcement by lesbian State Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore) that she is a candidate for the office of mayor of Baltimore, the passing of civil rights icon and pro-LGBTQ U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), and news that longtime Maryland State Senate President Mike Miller was stepping down from that position after serving for 32 years were among the 2019 developments important to LGBTQ rights advocates in Maryland.
Washington’s announcement that she was entering the Baltimore mayor’s race came one year after she became the first openly LGBTQ person of color to win election to the Maryland Senate. Prior to her 2018 election to the State Senate Washington served in the Maryland House of Delegates since 2011.
Miller is credited with playing an important role in helping to pass LGBTQ rights legislation in Maryland despite his social conservative leanings. Although he said he could not personally support same-sex marriage he allowed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage to advance through the House of Delegates and even took steps to prevent opponents from blocking the bill.
No. 4 New Archbishop of D.C. has pro-LGBTQ record
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory told a trans Catholic that, ‘You belong to the heart of this church.’
A comment in September by D.C.’s Archbishop Wilton Gregory in support of a transgender man at a public event appeared to confirm the optimism of LGBTQ Catholic activists that he would continue his past policies of welcoming LGBTQ Catholics into the fold of the church.
In April Pope Francis named Gregory, 71, as the new Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, and Gregory was installed into the position on May 21. LGBTQ Catholics familiar with Gregory said he has a record of recognizing and welcoming LGBTQ Catholics during his tenure as Archbishop of Atlanta for the 14 years prior to his appointment as head of the Washington Archdiocese.
No. 3 Report reveals scores of undisclosed D.C. hate crimes
At least eight but probably many more anti-LGBTQ hate crimes took place in D.C. in 2018 that D.C. police and prosecutors didn’t publicly disclose, according to an August 2019 investigative report by the Washington Post.
The post report, which examined police and court records of all 204 incidents designated by D.C. police as hate crimes in 2018, uncovered eight initially undisclosed cases of anti-LGBTQ violence or threats listed by police as hate crimes. One involved a Feb. 2, 2018 incident in which a lesbian was shot in the chest by a co-worker at an outdoor jobsite after the male co-worker harassed her over her sexual orientation.
The Post found that out of the 204 reported hate crime cases in D.C. in 2018, police made an arrest in 59 of those cases involving adults. But the Post found that the U.S. Attorney’s office dropped the hate crime designation in all but three of those cases.
No. 2. Danica Roem re-elected; Dems win control of Va. legislature
Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) speaks to supporters following her re-election on Nov. 5, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), the first openly transgender person seated in any state legislature in the U.S., won election to a second term on Nov. 5, defeating by a margin of 57-43 percent a Republican opponent who was backed by an anti-LGBTQ organization.
Similar to her first successful election campaign two years earlier, Roem emphasized in her 2019 campaign her support for the expansion of Virginia’s Medicaid program and efforts she has led to reduce traffic congestion on Route 28, a major highway in her district.
An anti-LGBTQ group that supported Roem’s GOP opponent, Kelly McGinn, and the Prince William Republican Committee, attacked Roem based on her gender identity.
In a development that LGBTQ rights advocates in Virginia have called a major breakthrough, Democrats won control of both houses of the Virginia General Assembly in the November election, clearing the way, according to most political observers, for the passage of a statewide LGBTQ rights law in 2020.
No. 1 Record number of violent anti-LGBTQ attacks in D.C.
A large tapestry with Ashanti Carmon’s image was displayed at the church altar during a memorial service. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)
The year 2019 saw what many LGBTQ activists believe to be a record number of violent attacks or threats against LGBTQ people in the D.C. area.
Two transgender women, Ashanti Carmon and Zoe Spears, were shot to death in the same suburban Maryland town of Fairmount Heights just across the D.C. line on March 30 and June 13. A gay man, Vongell Lugo, was stabbed to death in his D.C. apartment on Jan. 6.
There were 13 separate incidents of assaults and robberies of gay men and transgender women in D.C. who police believe were targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Prince George’s County police have arrested 33-year-old Geraldo Thomas of Baltimore in the Spears murder and D.C. police have arrested 26-year-old Virginia resident Colin Potter in the Lugo case. Police say they have yet to confirm a motive in both of those cases.
But in nearly all of the 13 assaults and robbery cases, with arrests made in seven of them, D.C. police have listed the incidents as suspected anti-LGBTQ hate crimes. In separate incidents, one on April 15 and the other on June 16 – both in the U Street, N.W. entertainment area where several gay bars are located – a gay male couple was attacked, beaten, and robbed by groups of male suspects who yelled anti-gay slurs.
In the June 16 incident, Braden Brecht, 21, and his boyfriend, Karl Craven, 24, were attacked by a group of more than a dozen male assailants, witnesses told D.C. police, who have arrested two juvenile males and a 19-year-old male in connection with the incident.
From left, Karl Craven and his boyfriend, Braden Brecht, spent several hours in the emergency room after a group of men attacked them on U Street on June 16, 2019.
It was all too much for CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Cheri Oteri revived her “Saturday Night Live” impersonation of Barbara Walters on CNN’s New Year’s Eve broadcast on Tuesday night ― and Cooper, hosting alongside Andy Cohen, couldn’t cope.
Cooper noted at the start of the segment how an online petition was calling for the real Walters to repeat her iconic “This is 20/20” catchphrase at the Times Square ball drop.
Oteri then arrived on screen and jumped into character as the broadcaster. “Anderson, Andrew, first let me say what an honor it is for you to have me on your New Year’s Eve special,” Oteri as Walters began.
“Second, I’m afraid retirement didn’t suit me as much as people had hoped,” she continued. “And now that I’m trending on social media with the likes of Korean boy band BTS, climate change activist Greta Thunberg, and body-positive songstress Lizzo, I’ve decided to dust off my power suit and get back in the game. It’s no longer going to be a chico’s kind of day for this gal because I can finally say with confidence, this is 2020.”
Cooper, meanwhile, doubled over in laughter, temporarily disappeared from the shot and leaned on Cohen for support as he struggled to contain his giggles.
Check out the full clip here:
‘SNL’ Bids Hilarious Farewell To Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer Kate McKinnon Totally Nails Impression Of Marianne Williamson ‘SNL’ Alum Says Writers Were Pressured In 2015 To Make Donald Trump ‘Likable’ Download
President Donald Trump seems to have mixed up New Year’s resolutions with birthday wishes, telling reporters that you’re not supposed to say them out loud.
Speaking at a party at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, first lady Melania Trump said her resolution is “peace in the world.”
The president wouldn’t give his, saying “I’m not sure you’re supposed to say a resolution out loud.”
Reporter: “What’s your resolution?”
Melania: “Peace in the world.”
Donald: “I’m not sure you’re supposed to say a resolution out loud” pic.twitter.com/xDCEi8BJ8v
— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) January 1, 2020
“I don’t want to say what my resolution is because I think we jinx it, all right?” the president said. “But I can tell you, we really have a good resolution and it’s a resolution for our country.”
Hundreds of Iraqis stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday in the latest sign of trouble for the Trump administration’s attempt to simultaneously thwart the Islamic State and Iran. It’s fresh proof that President Donald Trump’s reliance on saber-rattling instead of diplomacy risks greater chaos in the Middle East — and his approach threatens the gains the U.S. has made there in recent years.
Demonstrators at the embassy ― the United States’ largest diplomatic facility ― chanted “death to America,” according to reports from the ground. They were supporters of an Iran-backed militia called Kataib Hezbollah that has significant influence inside Iraq. The U.S. hit some of the group’s camps on Sunday, killing 25 of its fighters, after blaming it for an attack on Friday that killed an American contractor and linking it to a spate of other flare-ups. Iraqi security forces ― who work with Iran and the U.S. ― didn’t stop the protesters’ approach but ultimately intervened to push them out of the compound as American diplomats huddled in a safe room and military personnel watched from rooftops with weapons drawn, per The Washington Post.
The crisis reflects a real and worrying escalation in the U.S. and Iran’s yearslong rivalry in Iraq. Trump’s decision to launch the strikes on the Iran-backed forces was a turning point, experts said. They were the first confirmed American response to Iranian pinpricks in Iraq and other arenas like the Persian Gulf since the summer, and represented a significant show of force to Tehran that some national security pundits saw as necessary and valuable. But they also challenged Iraqi sovereignty, reigniting resentment dating back to the 2003 invasion and presenting Washington as a threat to a growing wave of Iraqi nationalism that’s won mass support among citizens tired of the status quo. That response makes it harder for the U.S. to operate in Iraq, which in turn serves the interests of Iran and ISIS, already regrouping in Iraq, with no clear American gain.
Even with the immediate danger defused, along with a feared repeat of the 1979 Tehran hostage crisis, the events of the past few days suggest more danger lies ahead in Iraq, where there are currently 5,000 American troops. The president and his Senate allies Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) reacted with anger on Twitter, warning of greater U.S. action against Iran, which Washington is already subjecting to “maximum pressure.” Kataib Hezbollah said demonstrations will continue until the embassy is closed.
America has locked itself into an escalation spiral. Randa Slim, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute
The U.S. doesn’t appear likely to shift its strategy away from bluster toward a savvier accounting of how Baghdad and Tehran are likely to operate. And without a move toward smarter engagement, Trump is stuck on a path that at best requires frequent tactical shifts without strategic progress, and at worst could entail major new bloodshed for Americans, Iraqis, Iranians and others in a region that hasn’t recovered from the onslaught of ISIS.
“The net result, whatever happens next, is reduced American prestige in Iraq,” Daniel Serwer, a Johns Hopkins University professor and former State Department official who worked on Iraq at the U.S. Institute for Peace, told HuffPost via email.
The U.S. has little ability to shape developments after the incident, said Randa Slim, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute think tank.
“America has locked itself into an escalation spiral which it could not avoid after 11 attacks on its facilities in Iraq,” she wrote in an email. “The Iraqi government, which could have de-escalated tensions early on by clamping down on the militia activities, has proven to be unwilling and incapable to do so. The next move is in the hands of the Iraqi militias and their Iranian director.”
Now that the U.S. has signaled that it’s willing to deal with its concerns militarily, American policymakers may feel they need to constantly demonstrate even greater strength.
Because toughness toward Iran is the Trump administration’s top priority, officials seem convinced it’s worthwhile to treat U.S. interests ― and vulnerabilities ― in Iraq as a secondary concern, a choice that makes incidents like the embassy assault more likely. And unlike under the Obama administration, when Washington and Tehran had an unprecedented dialogue they used to manage potential crises, American officials presently have few ways to communicate with Iranian counterparts to prevent open conflict.
From Iran’s point of view, violence may seem like the best or only way to send a message. “Iran needs to increase the costs to the U.S. of its maximum pressure strategy,” Slim said. “Iraq and Syria are the proxy theaters where both countries have forces and where Iran can try to rebalance the power equation in its favor.”
Demonstrators and militia fighters throw stones toward the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Dec. 31 during a protest to condemn airstrikes on bases belonging to Hashd al-Shaabi.
The Trump administration could have chosen a diplomatic approach, said Scott Anderson, a former State Department official and current Brookings Institution fellow. Officials might have tied their outrage over the contractor’s killing to Iraqis’ anti-Iran anger and strongly pushed Baghdad to rein in Iranian proxy forces. That would have denied Tehran the opportunity to present America as an aggressor and boosted skepticism of Iran’s role in the country.
The embassy attackers were separate from nationalist demonstrators against corruption and Iranian interference in Iraqi politics who have faced violent retaliation from the government and were holding their own rally on Tuesday.
Trump did post a message on Twitter expressing empathy for those protesters. Yet the overall impression since the weekend remains one of foreign hubris.
“Until now the focus of anti-government demonstrations had been against Iran, with the Americans relatively unscathed,” Serwer wrote. “Iraqis however will object to whoever violates their sovereignty. This time it is the Americans.”
Iran couldn’t have hoped for more, according to Anderson.
“Hawkish senators may be pleased by the toughness of Trump’s military response — but it’s hard to see how it aids U.S. interests,” he wrote on Twitter. “This was an old, familiar trap — and the Trump administration stepped right into it.”
The U.S. now plans to send additional forces to Iraq, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced after the attack.
ShareTweetEmailShare President Donald Trump (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr)In any 2019 Year in Review, the lead must be the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. It took over the news media for months culminating in a vote of two Articles of Impeachment against the president by the House of Representatives. A Senate trial is expected in 2020, though Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to send the articles to the Senate before holiday recess.
Much of 2019 was consumed with the disgusting policies of the Trump administration and supported by his Republican sycophants in Congress. It is clear there is no Republican Party as we once knew it; rather it is now the Party of Trump. We have a president whose tweets have taken over the headlines and reading them can make anyone with a brain and a lick of decency sick to their stomach. He and his administration kept doing things to take our country backwards and designed to make happy our enemies abroad and white nationalists, neo-Nazis, sexists, racists and homophobes here at home.
So much was focused on all of this it overshadowed some wonderful things that happened. At the federal government level, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives under the leadership of Pelosi passed literally hundreds of great bills moving forward progressive goals on such issues as gun control, healthcare, voting rights, climate change and education. These bills are now accumulating dust on the desk of ‘Moscow Mitch,’ otherwise known as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.).
We are in the midst of a Democratic primary and while some have a problem with one candidate or another every person running for the Democratic nomination for president is head-and-shoulders better than Trump. In November, Democrats celebrated great results in the Virginia legislative elections when they took over both houses of the legislature for the first time since 1995. Then there were victories in both the Kentucky and Louisiana gubernatorial elections, all this boding well for Democrats in 2020. When it came to local government in D.C. for the first time in many years people have a much more positive view of their public school system and student achievement is going up. Residents also have a very positive view of Mayor Muriel Bowser.
While it was sad to see Michael Kahn retire after 33 years as artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company, it was exciting when Georgetown University presented him an honorary doctoral degree. Also good news for theater lovers was the first season of shows at the STC commissioned by the very talented Simon Godwin who took over the position of artistic director from Kahn.
Another highlight of 2019 was the Washington Blade’s celebration of 50 years of service to the LGBTQ community with great reporting, exciting editions of the paper with a new cover design, culminating with a successful gala. The beneficiary of the gala was the Blade Foundation, which is offering fellowships and scholarships to aspiring LGBTQ journalists. Then I personally had the honor of writing about dozens of members of the LGBTQ+ community in my Comings & Goings column. It is fun to share information on members of the community who got new jobs, received awards, wrote books, and in general had great success.
It is also the year of the next generations. Mayor Pete who is only 37 and openly gay is being taken seriously as a candidate for president. Greta Thunberg who is only 16 from Sweden was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for her activism on climate change. The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who organized the March for our Lives in 2018 have continued their fight for gun control throughout 2019 and those like David Hogg now at Harvard continue to lead this organization of young activists.
As we move into 2020, it is clear the first part of the year will be taken up with headlines about the impeachment trial of Trump in the United States Senate. It is my hope it ends quickly and the focus can be returned to the 2020 elections. We know Trump will not be convicted by Republicans who control the Senate. It will be a year focused on the November elections with the first months leading to Democrats choosing their nominee to run against Trump and the second part of the year heading to the Nov. 3, 2020 election of the next president. Let’s hope the headline in a review of 2020 will be ‘Decent Americans reclaim their country!’
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she is “open” to calling witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. However, she added that it is too early to determine which witnesses should appear and that the Senate ought to decide after opening arguments and initial questioning of both sides.
“I am open to witnesses. I think it’s premature to decide who should be called until we see the evidence that is presented and get the answers to the questions that we senators can submit through the chief justice to both sides,” Collins told Maine Public Radio on Monday.
Collins’ stance on the parameters of the impeachment trial aligns her with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has all but promised a swift acquittal of Trump. McConnell has argued for following the framework of the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, which punted a decision on witness testimony until after the initial arguments and senatorial questioning.
“We haven’t ruled out witnesses,” McConnell said last week in a “Fox & Friends” interview. “We’ve said let’s handle this case just like we did with President Clinton. Fair is fair.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, is demanding the Senate agree upfront to hear from witnesses who refused to appear during House committee hearings, including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton. The Democratic leader argued that witnesses with firsthand knowledge about Trump’s decision to block military assistance to Ukraine could provide crucial information.
“President Trump, if you are so confident you did nothing wrong, why won’t you let your men testify?” Schumer said at a press conference in New York City on Monday. “What are Senator McConnell and President Trump afraid of if all the facts come out?”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has delayed sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate, reportedly to give Schumer more leverage in talks with McConnell over procedures for a “fair” trial. The Senate cannot begin the trial until the House formally transmits the articles to the upper chamber. But just days before senators are due to return to Washington from their holiday break, there are no signs the impasse between the two Senate leaders is easing.
In her interview with Maine Public Radio, Collins also called McConnell’s vow of “total coordination” with the White House on the trial process “inappropriate,” while chiding some Senate Democrats for rushing to judgment.
“It is inappropriate, in my judgment, for senators on either side of the aisle to prejudge the evidence before they have heard what is presented to us because each of us will take an oath, an oath that I take very seriously, to render impartial justice,” she said.
“And I have heard Democrats like Elizabeth Warren, saying that the president should be impeached, found guilty and removed from office,” Collins added. “I’ve heard the Senate majority leader saying that he’s taking his cues from the White House. There are senators on both sides of the aisle who, to me, are not giving the appearance of and the reality of judging this in an impartial way.”
McConnell told reporters earlier this month that he didn’t view himself as an impartial juror. “I would anticipate we will have a largely partisan outcome in the Senate,” he said. “I’m not impartial about this at all.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was the first Republican to publicly voice concern over the Senate majority leader’s handling of the proceedings, telling KTUU last week that she was “disturbed” by McConnell’s comments.
Democrats in the Senate want to hear from White House officials who, at Trump’s urging, defied House subpoenas and didn’t testify. The list includes Mulvaney; Bolton; Robert Blair, senior adviser to Mulvaney; and Michael Duffey, associate director for national security at the Office of Management and Budget.
To subpoena their desired witnesses, Democrats will need to convince at least four Republican senators to vote with them. Moderates like Collins and Murkowski will be their top targets.
Collins is seeking reelection in 2020 in what is shaping up to be a fierce contest.
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BAGHDAD (AP) — Dozens of Iraqi Shiite militiamen and their supporters broke into the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday, smashing a main door and setting fire to a reception area, angered over deadly U.S. airstrikes targeting the Iran-backed militia. U.S. guards fired tear gas and palls of smoke rose over the grounds.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw flames rising from inside the compound and at least three U.S. soldiers on the roof of the main embassy building. There was a fire at the reception area near the compound’s parking lot but it was unclear what had caused it. A man on a loudspeaker urged the mob not to enter the compound, saying: “The message was delivered.”
President Donald Trump blamed Iran for the embassy breach and called on Iraq to protect the diplomatic mission.
“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. 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 tweeted from his estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
There were no reports of casualties, but the unprecedented breach was one of the worst attacks on the embassy in recent memory. It followed deadly U.S. airstrikes on Sunday that killed 25 fighters of the Iran-backed militia in Iraq, the Kataeb Hezbollah. The U.S. military said the airstrikes were in retaliation for last week’s killing of an American contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that it had blamed on the militia.
The developments represent a major downturn in Iraq-U.S. relations that could further undermine U.S. influence in the region and also weaken Washington’s hand in its maximum pressure campaign against Iran.
Iraq has long struggled to balance its ties with the U.S. and Iran, both allies of the Iraqi government. But the government’s angry reaction to the U.S. airstrikes and its apparent decision not to prevent the protesters from reaching the embassy signaled a sharp deterioration of U.S.-Iraq relations.
Iraqi security forces made no effort to stop the protesters as they marched to the heavily-fortified Green Zone after a funeral held for those killed in the U.S. airstrikes, letting them pass through a security checkpoint leading to the area.
The mob of marchers, many of them in militia uniforms, shouted “Down, Down USA!” and “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” outside the compound, hurling water and stones over its walls. The mob set fire to three trailers used by security guards along the wall. AP journalists saw some try to scale the walls.
Others then smashed the gates used by cars to enter and dozens pushed into the compound. The protesters stopped in a corridor after about 5 meters (16 feet), and were only about 200 meters away from the main building. Half a dozen U.S. soldiers were seen on the roof of the main building, their guns were pointed at the protesters. Smoke from the tear gas rose in the area.
The protesters raised yellow militia flags and taunted the embassy’s security staff who remained behind the glass windows in the gates’ reception area. They hung a poster on the wall declaring, “America is an aggressor” and sprayed graffiti on the wall and windows reading, “Closed in the name of the resistance.”
An Iraqi employee at the embassy told the AP that the embassy’s security team had evacuated some local staff from a rear gate while others left by helicopters as the rest remained inside “safe” areas within the embassy. The employee spoke on condition of anonymity because of not being authorized to speak to journalists.
Some commanders of militia factions loyal to Iran had joined the protesters. Among them was Hadi al-Amiri, the head of the state-sanctioned paramilitary Popular Mobilization Units, the umbrella group for the Iran-backed militias.
At least three protesters appeared to have difficulties breathing from tear gas. No one was immediately reported hurt in the rampage, and security staff had withdrawn to inside the embassy earlier, soon after protesters gathered outside. There was no immediate comment from the U.S. Embassy.
Yassine al-Yasseri, Iraq’s interior minister, also appeared outside the embassy at one point and walked around to inspect the scene. He told the AP that the prime minister had warned the U.S. strikes on the Shiite militiamen would have serious consequences.
“This is one of the implications,” al-Yasseri said. “This is a problem and is embarrassing to the government.”
He said more security will be deployed to separate the protesters from the embassy, an indication the Iraqi troops would not move in to break up the crowd by force.
Seven armored vehicles with about 30 Iraqi soldiers arrived near the embassy hours after the violence erupted, deploying near the embassy walls but not close to the breached area. Four vehicles carrying riot police approached the embassy later but were forced back by the protesters who blocked their path.
There was no immediate comment from the Pentagon and the State Department.
The U.S. airstrikes — the largest targeting an Iraqi state-sanctioned militia in recent years — and the subsequent calls by the militia for retaliation, represent a new escalation in the proxy war between the U.S. and Iran playing out in the Middle East.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday’s strikes send the message that the U.S. will not tolerate actions by Iran that jeopardize American lives.
The Iranian-backed Iraqi militia had vowed Monday to retaliate for the U.S. military strikes. The attack and vows for revenge raised concerns of new attacks that could threaten American interests in the region.
The U.S. attack also outraged both the militias and the Iraqi government, which said it will reconsider its relationship with the U.S.-led coalition — the first time it has said it will do so since an agreement was struck to keep some U.S. troops in the country. It called the attack a “flagrant violation” of its sovereignty.
In a partly televised meeting Monday, Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi told Cabinet members that he had tried to stop the U.S. operation “but there was insistence” from American officials. He declared three days of mourning for those killed in the U.S. strikes, starting Tuesday.
The U.S. military said “precision defensive strikes” were conducted against five sites of Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq and Syria. The group, which is a separate force from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, operates under the umbrella of the state-sanctioned militias known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces. Many of them are supported by Iran.
Associated Press writers Darlene Superville in Washington, Samya Kullab in New York and Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.
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