In an unapologetic display of animal cruelty, an anonymous group of terrible people released over two dozen pigeons into Las Vegas, with political accessories affixed to their heads. The group, which will not be named here, released the abused birds on Tuesday, in a “sarcastic” protest of the Democratic presidential debate the next day.
According to the local NBC affiliate, the group was inspired by a “Cold War-era CIA operation.” The BBC reports that the formerly secret details of that operation were just released in September.
The 1970s’ operation was codenamed Tacana and explored the use of pigeons with tiny cameras to automatically take photos, newly released files show.
It took advantage of the fact that the humble pigeon is possessed of an amazing ability – almost a superpower. They can be dropped somewhere they have never been before and still find their way hundreds of miles back home.
The use of pigeons for communications dates back thousands of years but it was in World War One that they began to be used for intelligence gathering.
Going one further than the CIA did over four decades ago, the underground cabal of bird-harming extremists attempted to frame the hideous stunt as a “a sign of loyal support for President Trump,” according to News 3 Las Vegas.
You see the red thing on that pigeonÃ¢Â�Â�s head? ItÃ¢Â�Â�s a Ã¢Â�Â�Make America Great AgainÃ¢Â�Â� hat. A group released a flock of them downtown Las Vegas on the eve of the Democratic Debate. @News3LV pic.twitter.com/xtCyd2rA96
— Max Darrow (@MaxNews3LV) February 19, 2020
At least one pigeon rescuer is not impressed, though, KSNV reported later in the week. Mariah Hillman, head of the Lofty Hopes pigeon rescue, called the stunt “absurd” and “ridiculous” on Thursday. Hillman also expressed hope that her organization might catch some of the abused birds, and rehabilitate them, but she also told News 3’s Max Darrow that what the anonymous deplorables did wasn’t illegal, and that since pigeons are typically considered “pests,” she didn’t expect authorities to do anything about the politically-driven animal cruelty.
A City of Las Vegas spokesperson tells News 3 there are city codes that mention pigeons, but, they’re considered wild animals. There isn’t a law on the books that outlines whether or not a person can put hats on pigeons or dress them up.
“It is different than putting a costume on a dog, because you don’t take your dog out and release him into the wild to wear that until it falls off,” she said.
The tiny hats and wig are apparently affixed with eyelash glue, according to the underground group behind the nasty stunt, and the pigeons are supposedly trained.
Remarkably, this isn’t the first time pigeons in the City of Sin have been subjected to wearing human garb. In early December, pigeons wearing cowboy hats were spotted around Las Vegas.
Hillman decried the amused response to those hats on birds as leaving the door open to the MAGA stunt. “It started here with the press making fun of it, the police didn’t do anything about it,” she told KSNV on Thursday. “Now it’s grown into this, so when is it going to stop, and who’s going to do something about it?”
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Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg shared a sweet exchange with a 9-year-old boy, Zachary Ro, during a rally held in Aurora, Colorado on Saturday. Zachary submitted a question for the Democratic presidential hopeful that quickly earned cheers and support from the room. Read by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, the question (which was submitted by fishbowl and, according to Griswold, selected randomly), said simply: “Thank you for being so brave. Would you help me tell the world I’m gay, too? I want to be brave like you.”
Here is the clip, now going viral on Twitter.
At his rally in Denver, 9-year-old Zachary said he wanted to Ã¢Â�Â�be braveÃ¢Â�Â� like Pete Buttigieg and asked the mayor to help him Ã¢Â�Â�tell the worldÃ¢Â�Â� heÃ¢Â�Â�s gay too. Among the advice Buttigieg gave: Ã¢Â�Â�It wonÃ¢Â�Â�t always be easy, but thatÃ¢Â�Â�s okay, because you know who you are.Ã¢Â�Â� pic.twitter.com/viygW7LoGa
Ã¢Â�Â� Justin Gomez (@JustinGomezABC) February 23, 2020
“I don’t think you need a lot of advice for me on bravery. You seem pretty strong to me,” Buttigieg told the child who’d come to his rally with his parents. Audience members reportedly shouted “love means love” as Zachary came on and off the stage.
“It took me a long time to figure out how to tell even my best friend that I was gay,” Buttigieg stated, “let alone to go out there and tell the world and to see you willing to come to terms with who you are in a room full of 1,000 people… Thousands of people you’ve never met that’s, that’s really something.” He went on to give the child some advice on leading by example and being brave.
“Just promise me you won’t run for president until after I’m done because I think you might be strong competition,” Buttigieg added as a joke.
As Daily Kos covered last week, Buttigieg’s sexual orientation, in itself, does not make him the most radical or progressive candidate. In terms of policy proposals, he leans far more moderate than some of his competitors, including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Still, Buttigieg’s candidacy is historic. And for young people to see themselves represented on the campaign trail, it can be truly inspiring. Visibility is not the beginning and end of a candidacy, but it’s certainly powerful in its own right.
“It was exciting, and I felt really happy,” Zachary told The Colorado Sun after the event.
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Trump National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien took to multiple Sunday shows Today to, evidently, lie outright to the American people on Donald Trump’s behalf. Parroting a Donald Trump line that does not mesh with any of the previously-known revealed intelligence about Russia’s repeated efforts to disrupt United States elections via state-sponsored hacking and online propaganda efforts, O’Brien is insisting that he “has not seen” any intelligence to indicate that Russia is again attempting to boost Donald Trump’s campaign.
In a Saturday-taped interview for Face the Nation, O’Brien made claims that could have come directly from Trump’s own mouth.
The entire segment is remarkable. Again and again, host Margaret Brennan pushed O’Brien on his claims—at odds with all publicly revealed intelligence of the past four years—even asking him bluntly “Are you denying that it is happening?” O’Brien, however, maintained the Trump-favored line. If anything, he said, he has “heard” that Russia wants “Bernie Sanders to win.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: But the White House was briefed on February 14th. Were you not in that briefing when the president was informed?
O’BRIEN: Well, there’s no briefing that I’ve received, that the president has received, that says that President Putin is doing anything to try and influence the elections in favor of President Trump. We just haven’t seen that intelligence. If it’s out there, I haven’t seen it. I’d be surprised if I haven’t seen it. The leaders of our- the IC have not seen it. So I- again, I don’t know where this is coming from. I’ve heard these rumors and these leaks from Adam Schiff’s committee, but I- I have not seen them myself and I’ve seen no intelligence along those lines.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But just to clarify, are you saying that Joseph Maguire, the former acting director of national intelligence, did not inform you about the U.S. Intelligence Committee’s- community’s findings?
O’BRIEN: No. I, look, I think- you know, and again, I- I don’t want to get into private conversations in a- in a presidential daily brief, but I- I don’t think Admiral Maguire was necessarily informed of what was going to happen at that hearing in the House either. And- and again, there’s nothing that he’s given up, no information Admiral Maguire gave us, Gina Haspel has given us- Director Haspel, Ambassador Grenell the new acting DNI, that comports with what was leaked out of that House Intel Committee. So I haven’t seen it. The leaders of the intelligence community that I’ve spoken with haven’t seen anything that comports with what was leaked out. But again, those leaks, I don’t know if that’s what the briefers told the House committee. I mean those were simply —
MARGARET BRENNAN: But- well, that- that’s contradicted by reports that the director of national intelligence, Maguire, did brief White House officials. But more broadly, the FBI director at the beginning of the month, Chris Wray, testified that Russia continues to try to influence the elections mainly through social media manipulation. So this pattern of behavior has continued, Russia is undeterred. Are you denying that that is happening?
O’BRIEN: No, no. What I- look I- what I’ve heard from the FBI, you know- well, what I’ve heard is that Russia would like Bernie Sanders to- to win the Democrat nomination. They’d probably like him to be president, understandably, because he wants to- to spend money on social programs and probably would have to take it out of the military, so that would make sense.
“What I’ve heard is Russia would like Bernie Sanders to win the nomination. They’d probably like him to be POTUS because he wants to spend money on social programs, and probably would have to take it out of the military” — Robert O’Brien’s logic here makes absolutely no sense pic.twitter.com/EbPFI8JOdR
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 23, 2020
If you’re looking for the two-bit summary of O’Brien’s abject parroting of the Trump team’s political talking points, though, O’Brien delivered:
“Why would they have a preference for President Trump, who is rebuilding our military, who is giving the Ukrainians lethal aid to fight Russian troops? So that doesn’t make sense.”
O’Brien also appeared on ABC’s This Week, where he left host Goerge Stephanopoulos similarly astonished that the supposed national security adviser would be repeating, to the public, what all evidence suggests is willful political disinformation. Again he claimed Russia “wants Bernie Sanders to get elected, but that’s no surprise. He honeymooned in Moscow,” while insisting he has yet to see “any intel” that Russia is working to assist Trump.
“You’re flatly denying that the intel community has analysis that Russia is favoring Trump?” asked Stephanopoulos.
“What I’m saying is I haven’t seen that analysis,” claimed O’Brien.
These guys are stone cold bullshitters pic.twitter.com/znxB1B8Fkg
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 23, 2020
Even within the Trump administration, this is a remarkable moment. This is not a campaign hack or even a now-perpetually-assumed-to-be-dishonest White House press secretary piping up to lie, outright, about national intelligence—something that would itself be a scandal, if the Republican Party had not devolved into fascist technique. This is an ostensible “national security” adviser spouting off with such claims, even as members of the free press ask incredulously whether he is truly claiming what he appears to be claiming.
We are at a new, even darker moment. There’s no way around that. Our government is lying to us, on purpose, in order to push forward a false narrative more pleasing to a Dear Leader figure now purging government of anyone not willing to announce false information on his behalf.
Lying to the public about national security for Dear Leader’s sake is the bottom. There is no lower than this that still includes having (non-rigged) elections. The Republican Party is now supporting overt government disinformation in order to bend the campaign their way; the press, at least, seems content to express only mild on-camera astonishment that it is happening.
The man ought to be swiftly removed. Republican senators still giving even the slightest damn about their nation, rather than their party, ought to be leading that very charge. Instead, Sen. Mitch McConnell continues to block efforts to protect the next election while the rest of his caucus remains silent—or assists him.
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