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Mike Pence: ‘I Do’ Still Want Roe v. Wade Overturned

Image result for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Vice President Mike Pence are seen July 10.

From left to right, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Vice President Mike Pence are seen July 10.

The vice president said Brett Kavanaugh was chosen for his “judicial philosophy,” not specifically to overturn the landmark 1973 case.

Vice President Mike Pence confirmed in a Tuesday interview on CNN that he still hopes to revoke a woman’s right to have an abortion in the United States.

Pence sat down with CNN’s Dana Bash to discuss President Donald Trump’s recent Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and the fate of Roe v. Wade, the historic 1973 ruling that legalized abortion throughout the country.

When Bash asked Pence if he would still like to see Roe overturned, the devout anti-abortion advocate responded carefully: “Well, I do, but I haven’t been nominated to the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh has.”

Kavanaugh is Trump’s pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who resigns at the end of the month.

“I’m pro-life and I don’t apologize for it,” Pence continued. “I’m proud to be part of a pro-life administration that’s advanced pro-life policies. But what I can assure you is that what the president was looking for here was a nominee who will respect the Constitution as written, who will faithfully uphold the Constitution and all of his interpretations of the law.”

Reproductive rights groups argue that Kavanaugh is a clear threat to legal abortion. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would likely be the fifth vote on the court to overturn Roe. Kennedy historically protected the landmark ruling as a known swing voter.

Pence said that Trump chose Kavanaugh as a nominee for his “credentials” and “judicial philosophy” ― not specifically to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Bash reiterated her question, asking Pence if he hopes Kavanaugh will be the justice to overturn the landmark abortion ruling.

“The president believes that the proper consideration for a nominee to the court is not about litmus tests. Frankly, we’ve seen enough of litmus tests over the decades,” Pence replied. “What we don’t want is to have people go to the courts with a specific objective or policy criteria. We want people to go that respect the Constitution, respect the Constitution as written, will not legislate from the bench.”

Since Trump took office, his administration has rolled back access to safe and affordable reproductive health care around the world. Earlier this year, Pence suggested that legal abortions in the U.S. “could end in our time.”

“For all the progress since 1973,” Pence said in February, “I just know in my heart of hearts that this will be the generation that restores life in America.”

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Chairman Of Papa John’s Resigns After Report That He Used Racial Slur

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John Schnatter admitted that he used the slur in a conference call in May.

John Schnatter, the founder of pizza chain Papa John’s, resigned as chairman of the company’s board Wednesday after reports surfaced that he used a racial slur in a conference call in May, the company announced.

Schnatter used the N-word in a call between Papa John’s executives and marketing agency Laundry Service, Forbes reported early Wednesday, citing a “source with knowledge of the event.”

Schnatter acknowledged using the slur and apologized on Wednesday, but that was not enough for him to keep his position.

“News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true,” Schnatter said. “Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”

Schnatter’s comments have landed the company in hot water before. The pizza magnate blamed a slump in sales last year to a series of protests by NFL players who knelt on the field during the national anthem. Many of those players were protesting police brutality and racial inequality. 

“The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction. ... The NFL has hurt Papa John’s shareholders,” Schnatter said on a conference call with investors. In February, the NFL cut its sponsorship ties with Papa John’s, which had been a league sponsor since 2010.

He resigned as the company’s chief executive in January amid a public outcry.

Schnatter founded Papa John’s in 1984 and grew the company into a delivery behemoth with more than 3,400 locations in North America.

Papa John’s will appoint a new chairman in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Olivia Kirtley will act as the company’s lead independent director, the company said.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Driving New Energy And Money To Progressive Candidates

Image result for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democratic nominee for New York’s 14th Congressional District

After defeating a Democratic Party boss, she’s a new kingmaker — and even the establishment wants in.

At a Democratic gubernatorial candidate forum in Detroit on Monday, progressive underdog Abdul El-Sayed knew just the thing to get the crowd going.

“Who here has heard of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?” he asked.

Had they ever. More than 600 miles away from Ocasio-Cortez’s district, the crowd of several hundred Michiganders roared with excitement.

“She showed us that when we are honest about our message, when we are truthful about where our money comes from, when we are willing to speak clearly about the policies we believe in, and we are willing to stand up to the establishment, we win elections,” El-Sayed continued.

El-Sayed, a 33-year-old former Detroit health commissioner and first-time candidate, is one of a lucky handful of left-wing contenders basking in the power of Ocasio-Cortez’s sudden stardom. Earlier in the day, Ocasio-Cortez had used her massive Twitter platform to endorse El-Sayed. He has since picked up an additional 2,500 Twitter followers and is awash in national press inquiries.

Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old former Bernie Sanders organizer who just a few short weeks ago was scolding establishment Democrats on Twitter for ignoring her campaign, now has 600,000 followers hanging on every 280-character missive ― far more than the typical rank-and-file member of Congress.

And those same establishment Democrats are now knocking on her door. A little over a week since her upset of Joe Crowley, the Democratic Party boss of Queens County, Ocasio-Cortez finds herself as an unlikely kingmaker.

She’s used her newfound power to boost the political fortunes of a slew of candidates ― most but not all of whom are backed by the Justice Democrats, a group that played an integral role in Ocasio-Cortez’s bid and is dedicated to unseating corporate Democrats.

But there are also signs establishment Democrats are hoping her newfound fame can boost the party’s general election fortunes as well ― EMILY’s List and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have both reached out to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign. (Gillibrand congratulated her on the phone the day after the big win.)

Democratic strategists believe an email signed by Ocasio-Cortez would be an instant moneymaker, and that her endorsements and campaign stops could help drive progressives to the polls in November. 

“She represents the future of our party,” Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez said Wednesday morning on “The Bill Press Show.”

In addition to El-Sayed, Ocasio-Cortez has given the nod to nine congressional candidates: Delaware Senate challenger Kerri Harris; Kaniela Ing in Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District; Ayanna Pressley in Massachusetts’ 7th; Brent Welder in Kansas’ 3rd; Cori Bush in Missouri’s 1st; Chardo Richardson in Florida’s 7th; Sarah Smith in Washington state’s 9th; and Linsey Fagan in Texas’ 26th. 

She’s also sent a fundraising email for incumbent Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), the only member of Congress to endorse her bid, and used her list to plug a trio of insurgent New York candidates ― gubernatorial challenger Cynthia Nixon; state attorney general hopeful Zephyr Teachout; and state Senate contender Julia Salazar. 

The Ocasio-Cortez bump, these campaigns say, is noticeable almost immediately.

From the second she tweeted my name, everything changed.Cori Bush, Democratic candidate, Missouri’s 1st Congressional District

Brent Welder, a labor attorney and former Sanders campaign organizer, touted Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement in an email fundraiser and tripled his weekly fundraising haul from about $17,000 to well over $56,000.

From a simple Ocasio-Cortez tweet blessing his bid, Kaniela Ing, a 29-year-old state lawmaker and fellow member of the Democratic Socialists of America, has seen his Twitter following double. His campaign quickly raised nearly $10,000 in small contributions online. Cori Bush, who is challenging 10-term Rep. William Lacy Clay in Missouri, said she had raised between $17,000 and $18,000 in the past week. She spent last Tuesday texting with Ocasio-Cortez, and was jubilant when she won.

“I cried for hours. I mean, literally, for hours,” Bush said. And the subsequent endorsement has helped her campaign: “From the second she tweeted my name, everything changed.”  

Closer to Ocasio-Cortez’s base in Queens and the Bronx, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nixon raised $25,000 in the 24 hours after Ocasio-Cortez’s election for her primary challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and got 1,200 more email signups; in the week since, she’s picked up 30,000 more Instagram followers. For her part, Salazar scooped up more than $20,000 last week ― triple the amount she raised in the previous week.

And the boost is going beyond money. Ayanna Pressley, a Boston city councilwoman whose challenge to Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) bears at least a superficial resemblance to Ocasio-Cortez’s bid against Crowley ― though Capuano allies have been quick to point out the differences ― saw volunteers flood in last week from Providence, Worcester and Martha’s Vineyard, her campaign said. And the day after Ocasio-Cortez’s win last Tuesday, El-Sayed did his first national TV hit ― a primetime interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN.

For her part, Kerri Harris, a military veteran and nonprofit leader taking on three-term incumbent Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), raised $15,000 last week ― nearly as much as she had raised in over four months of campaigning up to that point. Her Twitter following grew five-fold and volunteers have come out of the woodwork.

“While people were excited [before], they were also like, ‘I don’t know. We don’t want to waste our vote.’ And now they’re raring to go!” said Harris, who drove up to New York City on election eve to volunteer for Ocasio-Cortez.

And in what might be the ultimate sign of Ocasio-Cortez’s appeal, candidates with no ties to her are trying to grab onto her coattails. Ammar Campa-Najjar, a progressive running in Southern California’s 50th District, has invoked her victory in Facebook ads, as have House candidates in Kansas, Washington state and Minnesota. 

As the number of candidates seeking Ocasio-Cortez’s support grows, however, decisions are likely to get harder for the celebrated candidate and her allies. An endorsement from Ocasio-Cortez is essentially cost-free, but for Justice Democrats, who staffed her campaign in the final months, investing money in a race is a tougher call.

Corbin Trent, executive director of Justice Democrats, knows that all too well. About a year ago, Justice Democrats concluded that the best use of their resources would be to go “all in” for Ocasio-Cortez. They finally implemented the decision at the beginning of this year, shifting scarce money and staff to her campaign ― and disappointing some of the other candidates they had endorsed in the process.

Now Trent estimates that Ocasio-Cortez is capable of raising $2 to $3 million more to support other like-minded candidates.  

“We still can’t help everybody,” he said. “Everybody’s gonna get a little bump, but I think we got enough juice right now to win two or three more races this cycle.”

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Rochester School Won’t Let Its First Black Valedictorian Speak, So Mayor Does

Image result for Jaisaan Lovett of Rochester, New York

Jaisaan Lovett of Rochester, New York, became the first black valedictorian in his school’s history. As graduation approached, he expected to give a speech at the commencement ceremony for the University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men, just as past valedictorians had done.

But for reasons that remain unclear, that speaking invitation didn’t come. And according to Lovett, when he sought permission to give remarks from the school’s principal, Joseph Munno, the answer was no. 

“He didn’t want to see the speech or what it said, nothing,” Lovett said in an interview with The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “He just said no.”

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, for whose office Lovett works as an intern, intervened. Upon hearing what happened to Lovett, who will go on to study with a full scholarship at Clark Atlanta University, she gave him a platform to deliver his speech. Then she posted video of the speech to YouTube, and shared the post on Facebook and Twitter. 

″Unfortunately Jaisaan’s school did not allow him to give his valedictorian speech,” Warren said before handing the mic over to Lovett. “For some reason, his school, in a country where freedom of speech is a constitutional right, and the city of Frederick Douglass, turned his moment of triumph into a time of sorrow and pain.” 

Lovett then delivered his speech, which sought to inspire others to succeed and thanked his parents for supporting him during his time at UPrep. He also took a moment to address his principal, who he said he had clashed with in the past.

“I’m here as the UPrep 2018 valedictorian to tell you that you couldn’t break me. I’m still here, and I’m still here strong,” Lovett said.

As news of the school’s refusal and the mayor’s intervention went viral, the UPrep Board of Trustees posted a message on the school’s Facebook page indicating they were looking into the situation and unable to comment publicly due to privacy reasons. The school did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

“We are aware of the concern with the Valedictorian not speaking at graduation. The Board will be reviewing the circumstances regarding what happened and looking into the related guidelines and school policies,” the message states. “UPrep wishes Jaisaan Lovett, the first black Valedictorian in the school’s four year graduation history, much success as he continues his education at Clark Atlanta University.”

The UPrep ruckus comes weeks after school officials cut the mic during a valedictorian’s commencement address in California. 

Petaluma High School senior Lulabel Seitz was abruptly silenced when she was about to talk about being sexually assaulted at school and the administration’s handling of her experience. She finished her remarks without a microphone at graduation and posted video of her speech in its entirety to YouTube.

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Russia Tried To Help Trump Win 2016 Election, Senate Intelligence Committee Reaffirms

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“The Russian effort was extensive and sophisticated, and its goals were to ... hurt Secretary Clinton and to help Donald Trump.”

A Senate Intelligence Committee report released on Tuesday supports three U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia tried to help Donald Trump win the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The Republican-led committee’s finding suggests the panel continues to conduct a bipartisan inquiry into the issue amid political rancor between Republicans and Democrats on allegations that Moscow interfered in the election.

“As numerous intelligence and national security officials in the Trump administration have since unanimously re-affirmed, the (Intelligence Community Assessment’s) findings were accurate and on point,” said committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, a Democrat.

“The Russian effort was extensive and sophisticated, and its goals were to undermine public faith in the democratic process, to hurt Secretary Clinton (Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton) and to help Donald Trump,” Warner said.

Separate from congressional inquiries, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether any Republican Trump’s election campaign members coordinated with Moscow officials.

Neither the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which reported the intelligence agencies’ findings in January 2017, nor the Senate committee has concluded that Trump’s campaign or aides colluded with Russia.

The committee is still investigating any possible collusion, interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence, officials said.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley, asked by reporters on Tuesday about the Senate panel’s report while traveling with Trump on Air Force One to West Virginia, said: “The president has been very clear and has said it many times that he feels the Russians meddled in the election.”

The U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, dominated by Republicans sympathetic to Trump, found no conclusive evidence proving collusion. But House panel Republicans, in a report on April 27, did say that Russia ran an information warfare campaign to disrupt the election.

The Kremlin denies meddling and Trump denies collusion. On June 28, Trump said on Twitter that “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling on Our Election!”

The following day, however, he told reporters that he planned to raise the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin when they meet on July 16 in Helsinki.

According to public records and congressional officials, the Senate Intelligence Committee report is the latest of four election-related inquiries on which the panel’s Republicans and Democrats continue to cooperate.

Earlier, the committee held a public hearing and issued a report on the security of U.S. election systems, on which there was no partisan dissent. 

Committee Democrats also are collaborating with Republicans on an inquiry that is likely to cite former President Barack Obama and his administration for moving too slowly to probe evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Committee Democrats and Republicans also are working together on an examination of the role social media played in influencing U.S. voters, and may hold hearings on that issue.

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