Washington Free Beacon




    Megyn Kelly’s NBC Debut Set for June


    Megyn Kelly is expected to make her NBC debut on her new Sunday news program in June. An NBC network insider spoke with Page Six on Monday regarding Kelly's upcoming debut. "She will start in May, and her Sunday show will premiere in June," the source...

    Megyn Kelly is expected to make her NBC debut on her new Sunday news program in June.

    An NBC network insider spoke with Page Six on Monday regarding Kelly's upcoming debut.

    "She will start in May, and her Sunday show will premiere in June," the source said.

    NBC's Elizabeth Cole and David Corvo have been tapped to produce Kelly's Sunday night show.

    Kelly is also slated to anchor a weekday morning program that is set to debut this fall, but NBC is reportedly struggling to staff and produce the show.

    Sources told Page Six that Kelly's morning show does not have a concept yet.

    "They have no idea what they're going to do with Megyn. Ideas range from talk show to studio audience to news show. It's a problem," an insider said.

    Another NBC source claimed Kelly's morning show is fully staffed but has yet to make any announcements because it does not air for another five months.

    Rumors of Kelly's first interview spurred after Andy Lack, NBC News chairman, flew to Russia in early April to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman.

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    Anti-Israel Activist to Deliver CUNY Commencement


    The City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health will welcome prominent Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour as its commencement speaker this spring. Sarsour, who once claimed "nothing is creepier than Zionism," will deliver...

    The City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health will welcome prominent Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour as its commencement speaker this spring.

    Sarsour, who once claimed "nothing is creepier than Zionism," will deliver the address during the first week of June, according to Fox News.

    Barbara Aaron, chief of staff to the school's dean, made the announcement, saying, "I am delighted to confirm that Linda Sarsour will indeed speak at our June 1 commencement at the Apollo Theater."

    But the announcement was not welcome news to some in New York.

    "She is someone who associates with radical Islamists. She is someone who has said, clearly, she thinks throwing rocks at cars in Israel is a good thing," Democratic state Assemblyman Dov Hikind said.

    Sarsour has continuously shared controversial statements, tweeting that "Nothing is creepier than Zionism," and stating feminists could not support Zionism.

    Nothing is creepier than Zionism.Challenge racism, #NormalizeJustice. Check out this video by @remroum http://t.co/q282BYT8

    — Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) October 31, 2012

    Sarsour has appeared to praise throwing rocks at Israelis, once tweeting, "The definition of courage. #Palestine," with an image of a child wielding rocks and staring at uniformed police in the background.

    The definition of courage. #Palestine pic.twitter.com/VchvSQMGCi

    — Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) October 12, 2015

    She has also called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "waste of a human being," and publicly denounced Netanyahu and President Donald Trump as two "bigoted peas in a hateful pod."

    .@lsarsour now in front of the White House: Trump & Netanyahu are two "bigoted peas in a hateful pod." pic.twitter.com/jK6dXjf2Lz

    — Our Revolution (@OurRevolution) February 15, 2017

    Netanyahu is a waste of a human being.

    — Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) October 22, 2015

    Following the capture of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Sarsour said she was "hurt" and expressed her gratitude for Hussein's support for Palestine.

    "I think he's done a lot of things he shouldn't have done, but I was hurt," she said. "My Arab pride was hurt. Palestinians are under so much oppression and no other Arab country ever helped them."

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    Mattis: U.S. Must ‘Confront’ Russia Over Weapons Support for Taliban


    The Trump administration expects to confront Russia for supplying the Taliban with weapons and strategic support to undermine the American-led coalition in Afghanistan, senior military officials said Monday. Defense Secretary James Mattis said during a...

    The Trump administration expects to confront Russia for supplying the Taliban with weapons and strategic support to undermine the American-led coalition in Afghanistan, senior military officials said Monday.

    Defense Secretary James Mattis said during a news conference in Kabul that the United States will "engage with Russia diplomatically" where possible, but hinted that action to challenge Russia may be necessary.

    "We're going to have to confront Russia where what they're doing is contrary to international law or denying the sovereignty of other countries," Mattis said. "For example, any weapons being funneled here from a foreign country would be a violation of international law."

    Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan, stood beside Mattis as he confirmed Russia's material support for the Taliban. Nicholson declined to provide specifics of Moscow's role in the country.

    A senior military official told reporters earlier in the day that the Kremlin was supplying the Taliban with machine guns and other "medium-weight weapons," the Associated Press reported. The Taliban are using the weapons against American-backed troops in the southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, and Uruzgan, according to the official.

    Nicholson told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February that Russia had begun playing a "significant" role in Afghanistan, in part to "legitimize" the Taliban and undermine the U.S. and NATO mission to stabilize the region. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the top U.S. general in Europe, voiced similar concerns during a hearing in March.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry in March rejected charges that Russia was providing weapons to the Taliban, saying its operations in Afghanistan were aimed at fighting the Islamic State. The Kremlin claims that the Taliban is fighting ISIS while the Afghan government remains idle, a narrative Nicholson has dismissed as false.

    Mattis met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Monday during the unannounced trip to Kabul. Mattis arrived just hours after Afghanistan's defense minister and army chief resigned following an attack against Afghan military forces on Friday that killed more than 140 Afghan troops.

    The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which was carried out by several gunman and suicide bombers dressed in army uniforms. Mattis said 2017 would be "another tough year" for Afghan forces fighting the militant group.

    The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction published a report in January finding the Afghan government lost control or influence of 15 percent of its territory between Nov. 2015 and Nov. 2016.

    With nearly 12,500 American and NATO forces on the ground in the country, Nicholson told Congress in February he needed a "few thousand" more troops to train, advise, and assist Afghan forces.

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    Obama: Biased Media Degrading America’s ‘Politics and Civic Life’


    Former President Barack Obama on Monday criticized the current media environment for its role in preventing healthy, civic debate by reinforcing consumers' opinions rather than challenging them. Obama, speaking at the University of Chicago for his first...

    Former President Barack Obama on Monday criticized the current media environment for its role in preventing healthy, civic debate by reinforcing consumers' opinions rather than challenging them.

    Obama, speaking at the University of Chicago for his first public appearance since leaving office, cited a series of "daunting" problems that he said the country could solve if not for its "politics and civic life." The media, according to Obama, combined with factors like gerrymandering and "money in politics," has further polarized American politics.

    "Because of changes in the media, we now have a situation in which everybody is listening to people who already agree with them," Obama said at an event the university billed as a "conversation on community organizing and civic engagement."

    "We now have a situation in which everybody is listening to people who already agree with them," Obama continued.

    The former president added that consuming such media allows Americans to "further and further" reinforce "their own realities to the neglect of the common reality that allows us to have a healthy debate, and then try to find common ground and actually move solutions forward."

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    Trump Is Not Shutting Down the EPA’s Data Service


    A contractor for the Environmental Protection Agency who was "devastated" by Hillary Clinton's election loss was the source for a false story stating that the agency is shutting down its climate data service. The EPA's Open Data service, where users can...

    A contractor for the Environmental Protection Agency who was "devastated" by Hillary Clinton's election loss was the source for a false story stating that the agency is shutting down its climate data service.

    The EPA's Open Data service, where users can look up EPA facilities in their area and view pollution graphs, will continue to operate, despite several news reports to the contrary.

    Bernadette Hyland, a contractor who has access to the Open Data website, was quoted in several publications, including the Independent, which falsely claimed "Donald Trump is to completely shut down one of the government's most important data services."

    The Independent warned that citizens would "no longer be able to access information on their environment and climate, keeping them from researching potentially fatal changes to their area."

    The story was based on a claim made by Hyland, who wrote an article on the website Medium on Sunday that said she was notified by the EPA that funding was no longer available to operate Open Data.

    She said the Open Data service is used for "climate science research" and "environmental justice."

    Hyland was used as the source for other publications, including Popular Science, which claimed the Open Data website's "days were numbered," and EcoWatch, which falsely reported the website was going to be "shut down" on Friday.

    The EPA said there were never any plans to shut down the web service and that Hyland was sending unauthorized messages on the agency's behalf.

    An unauthorized pop-up message appeared on the Open Data website on Sunday that read, "This site will be shut down Friday, April 28, 2017." After the EPA denied the website would be shut down, the pop-up message read: "The data on this Web site will continue to be available on April 28, 2017."

    "This is a contractor sending inappropriate and unauthorized communications on EPA's behalf," said J.P. Freire, an EPA spokesman. "The website isn't going anywhere and this episode has little to nothing to do with contingency plans in case of a shutdown."

    Hyland has since updated her post on Medium saying the website will "not be turned off" and praised the fact that the website was never going anywhere as "great news!"

    Hyland is a longtime Democrat and supporter of Hillary Clinton. She donated $1,700 to Clinton's failed 2008 presidential campaign, as well as $250 to the Democratic National Committee in 2004, according to the Federal Election Commission.

    Hyland attended the liberal March for Science in Brisbane, Australia, over the weekend, and posted photos on Twitter of a woman wearing a pink "pussy hat" with a sign saying, "show me your open data."

    Hyland tweeted into the early hours of the morning on Election Day, saying she was "dying inside" over Clinton's loss.

    Gracious sentiment @HillaryClinton but I'm dying inside. What is America doing right now??!! No one outside US can fathom this!! #ImWithHer https://t.co/AewxqHCxnQ

    — Bernadette Hyland (@BernHyland) November 9, 2016


    Hyland also was devastated on Election night and "feeling sheer anguish" over Donald Trump's victory. She apologized to Susan B. Anthony and added she was "not being dramatic" when she said the "world will never be the same."

    "A Trump win is a complete repudiation on science, academia, civics, international alliances," she said. "I don't recognize my country today #STEM"

    The EPA has had a harder time than most agencies adjusting to the transition of a Republican government, with its own employees joining the "resistance" to oppose Trump.

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    U.S. Sanctions Hundreds of Employees of Syrian Research Center


    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Monday blacklisted 271 employees of a Syrian government agency it said was responsible for developing chemical weapons, weeks after a poison gas attack killed scores of people in a rebel-held province in...

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Monday blacklisted 271 employees of a Syrian government agency it said was responsible for developing chemical weapons, weeks after a poison gas attack killed scores of people in a rebel-held province in Syria.

    The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned 271 employees of Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), an agency that Washington says develops chemical weapons for the government of Bashar al-Assad, the Treasury said in a statement.

    Some of the people blacklisted had worked on Syria's chemical weapons program for more than five years, the Treasury Department said. The sanction orders U.S. banks to freeze the assets of any employees named, and bans American companies from conducting business with them.

    Those designated were "highly educated" individuals likely to be able to travel outside of Syria and use the international financial system even if they may not have assets abroad, administration officials said during a conference call with reporters.

    "These sweeping sanctions target the scientific support center for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's horrific chemical weapons attack on innocent civilian men, women, and children," U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

    U.S. authorities, he said, would "relentlessly pursue and shut down the financial networks of all individuals involved with the production of chemical weapons used to commit these atrocities."

    The sanctions listings are the latest action taken by the Trump Administration in response to the April 4 chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun that U.S. authorities say killed nearly 90 people, including children. The United States says Assad's forces carried out the attack, while Assad has said the attack is a fabrication.

    Earlier this month, the United States launched dozens of missiles against a Syrian air base the Pentagon says was used to launch the chemical attack.

    President George W. Bush first placed sanctions against the SSRC in 2005, accusing it of producing weapons of mass destruction.

    Although the Syrian government promotes the SSRC as a civilian research center, "its activities focus substantively on the development of biological and chemical weapons," U.S. officials said.

    During the Obama administration, the United States in July 2016 sanctioned people and companies for supporting the SSRC, and on Jan. 12, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned six SSRC officials it said were linked to SSRC branches affiliated with chemical weapons logistics or research.

    (Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati, Joel Schectman and David Lawder; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bernadette Baum)

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    Democratic Strategist: Abortion ‘Purity Tests’ Could Make Party Irrelevant


    Democratic strategist Lis Smith said on Monday that the Democratic Party and Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez's insistence on not endorsing pro-life candidates will ruin the party's future. Smith said that although she is...

    Democratic strategist Lis Smith said on Monday that the Democratic Party and Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez's insistence on not endorsing pro-life candidates will ruin the party's future.

    Smith said that although she is pro-choice, she was disturbed that Perez said he would not support pro-life candidates.

    She added that it is necessary for party leaders to trust grassroots movements to choose the best leaders to fit their locale, even if they may not completely align with the coastal states' ideology.

    "My concern is that if we impose these purity tests, that we will purify ourselves into irrelevance and we will purify our party to the point where we can only win elections in states that touch salt water," Smith said. "And I think that is not the path forward for Democrats."

    Few pro-life Democrats remain in higher office, including Congress. Most have been defeated by Republicans or by other Democrats in primaries.

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    NYT Reporter Says Press Conferences Are More ‘Democratic’ Under Trump Than Obama


    New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush praised President Donald Trump for his press conferences and outreach to journalists during a panel discussion with two other reporters on Monday. Thrush, who formerly reported for Politico, was joined by CNN's Jim...

    New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush praised President Donald Trump for his press conferences and outreach to journalists during a panel discussion with two other reporters on Monday.

    Thrush, who formerly reported for Politico, was joined by CNN's Jim Acosta and the Washington Post‘s Ashley Parker for the panel event, titled "A Front Row Seat to Spin."

    "I do want to give Trump credit on things, " Thrush said. "I think one of the things that I think he's doing better than Barack Obama are these press conferences and his outreach to individual reporters, even for organizations like my own that he criticizes."

    Thrush said reporters have been falling into a "trap" of saying that the "Golden Age" for freedom of the press was under Obama.

    "When Obama had press conferences, he had a single piece of white paper and he had six or seven organizations that he had pre-selected to call upon, and a lot of them were pretty favorable to him, too," Thrush said.

    "I think Trump's free-ranging press conferences, I think, are a lot more Democratic than the way that Obama conducted them," Thrush added.

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    Howard Dean Doubles Down, Continues to Insist First Amendment Doesn’t Protect Hate Speech


    Former Democratic National Committee chair and presidential candidate Howard Dean over the weekend continued to defend his much-criticized assertion that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment. Dean claimed Thursday in reaction to a planned...

    Former Democratic National Committee chair and presidential candidate Howard Dean over the weekend continued to defend his much-criticized assertion that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment.

    Dean claimed Thursday in reaction to a planned Ann Coulter speech at the University of California-Berkeley that her beliefs were not constitutionally protected.

    Hate speech is not protected by the first amendment. https://t.co/DOct3xcLoY

    — Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) April 21, 2017

    As the Washington Post and several Twitter users pointed out, Dean is wrong. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that the government cannot ban or otherwise restrict speech just because others find it odious or bigoted.

    Dean first defended his position in a series of tweets, claiming the court's ruling in Chaplinksy v. New Hampshire was on his side (a tactic borrowed from CNN host Chris Cuomo when he claimed hate speech could be banned).

    Why don't you read the 1942 Chaplinsky decision from Scotus. https://t.co/1nGuRlrAOQ

    — Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) April 22, 2017

    This is NOT protected speech under the first amendment. Check Chaplinsky V New Hampshire SCOTUS 1942. https://t.co/wr3rMaRnAB

    — Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) April 23, 2017

    Dean said much the same in an MSNBC interview on Sunday.

    "You've been in a bit of a Twitter scrap this week … ‘Hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment,'" host Lisa Bloom said, quoting Dean's original tweet.

    "That's actually true," Dean insisted. He cited in his defense a 2002 Supreme Court case, which was decided in 2003, saying that cross burning could be prosecuted, and the 1942 Chaplinksy decision.

    Dean is once again misinformed. To start, the court found in Chaplinksy that the government can ban "fighting words," a different category of speech than hate speech. Fighting words, as defined by the court, are only those that "tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace."

    Chaplinsky has also been watered down by later Supreme Court cases. In Brandenburg v. Ohio, the court ruled that Ku Klux Klan members could not be banned from holding a rally and marching while making derogatory, bigoted statements about Jews and African Americans, even if the event was likely to lead to violence. Only speech that calls for and is likely to lead to "imminent lawless action" could be punished, the court ruled.

    Dean is correct that the Supreme Court held in 2003 that the state of Virginia could punish three men for cross burning. But the court ruled in Virginia v. Black that cross burning could only be banned when it was done with the specific intent to intimidate, not because of the hateful message. The majority actually struck down Virginia's cross-burning law because it treated all cross burnings as de facto intimidation.

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    Iran, Russia Boost Military Ties Amid U.S. Action In Syria


    Iran and Russia are moving closer together in their military alliance, working to boost ties and coordination in Syria and elsewhere in the region following the U.S. decision to launch a military strike in Syria, according to regional reports and...

    Iran and Russia are moving closer together in their military alliance, working to boost ties and coordination in Syria and elsewhere in the region following the U.S. decision to launch a military strike in Syria, according to regional reports and experts.

    Iran's defense minister is slated to visit Moscow at the end of the month to discuss increased military ties, a move that is meant to deter U.S. action in the region and show a sign of increased force, according to regional experts who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

    The Tehran-Moscow axis has been growing since the landmark Iran nuclear deal, with Russia making good on a series of weapons deliveries, including the Russian-made S-300 missile defense system. The two countries have been signing an additional number of military deals in recent months and that cooperation is likely to increase in light of the Trump administration's decision to launch strikes against embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is being backed by both Russia and Iran.

    Iranian leaders have signaled in recent days that the alliance with Russia is a top priority going forward and that a number of new military deals are in the works.

    "The visit by Iranian [President Hassan] Rouhani that took place on March 28 was another step toward developing extensive cooperation between Moscow and Tehran," Iranian Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanaei was quoted in the country's state-controlled press.

    "We hope that we will witness even broader bilateral ties across all areas in the future," Sanaei said during an event last week marking the Iranian Army Day.

    Sanaei also celebrated the recent delivery by Russia of the S-300 missile system, which Tehran had been coveting for some time. The system is viewed by Iran as a major deterrence factor aimed at intimidating U.S. forces in the region.

    The delivery of the S-300 system to Iran is a sign that Russia has an interest in bolstering Tehran's military might, Sanaei said.

    Since signing a massive military deal in 2015 with Russia, "important steps have been taken to strengthen bilateral relations in the area of defense," Sanaei said. "One such step was the delivery of S-300 missile systems to Iran. This is an indicator of mutual trust in defense cooperation."

    As Iran's defense minister gears up to visit Moscow, regional experts predict that the military ties between the countries will only increase as Assad comes under greater international pressure.

    However, the alliance between the countries remains fragile and largely one of convenience.

    "Russia and Iran have a similar goal in keeping Assad in power at all costs," Boris Zilberman, a Russia expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies' (FDD) Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, told the Free Beacon. "However, how each perceives the end state in Syria and the other's role in that future is one of the big questions in the relationship."

    In the short term, both Iran and Russia will aggressively work to "show a united front after America's first strike on the Assad regime," Zilberman said. "This is what we are seeing in the flurry of activity, but it is yet to be seen if anything of substance comes out of these talks."

    Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior Iran analyst at FDD, said that Russia views Iran as a chief counter to U.S. power in the region. The alliance between the countries is likely to strengthen as long as Moscow can use Tehran to offset American influence in the region.

    "Russia can and will likely continue to use Iran instrumentally in its larger strategic competition with the United States," Ben Taleblu said. "One wonders however, how the leadership of the Islamic Republic, which derided the late Shah of Iran for his closeness to the U.S. are able to justify—legally, politically, and even spiritually, the concessions they have made to befriend Russia. As a reminder, no country has taken more territory away from Iran and threatened its sovereignty in the past half millennia than Russia."

    Russia can serve as a major military ally for Iran and help provide it with not just military capabilities, but nuclear technology. Iran and Russia inked several deals in the past years to build a series of new light water nuclear reactors across the Islamic Republic.

    "For the past two years Tehran has been drawing closer to Moscow," Ben Taleblu explained. "Iran will look to Russia to help it drive the U.S. from the region, as well as support its nuclear development under the auspices of the [Iran deal], and engage in a highly selective modernization process for its military. Russia and China will likely become the two largest sources for arms as a UN-mandated arms ban is set to expire in 2020."

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