PHOTOS: The 93rd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Since its origin in 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has marked the official start of the holiday season, introducing a cherished march of magic that has dazzled generations of fans.
Every year, this family tradition is seen by more than 3.5 million people in New York and about 50 million others around the world, all tuned in to see giant balloons, one-of-a-kind floats, amazing performances and much, much more. (Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade)
Photography by Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News
At a rally in Sunrise, Fla., on Tuesday night, President Trump declared a victory in the imaginary “war on Christmas” while warning of a new one: the war on Thanksgiving.
“Some people want to change the name ‘Thanksgiving,’” Trump told his supporters. “They don’t want to use the term ‘Thanksgiving.’ And that was true also with Christmas. But now everybody is using ‘Christmas’ again. Remember I said that?”
Trump has often boasted about his leadership in saving Christmas from people who wish their acquaintances “happy holidays.” He did so at an interfaith dinner — in May.
“But now we’re going to have to do a little work on Thanksgiving,” the president continued. “People have different ideas why it shouldn’t be called Thanksgiving, but everybody in this room I know loves the name ‘Thanksgiving,’ and we’re not changing it.”
Like the so-called war on Christmas, the rhetorical assault on Thanksgiving is a notion that largely originated with Fox News.
Earlier this month, HuffPost published an article, “The Environmental Impact Of Your Thanksgiving Dinner,” that offered suggestions for meatless alternatives to the traditional turkey-centric meal. The author, Alexandra Emanuelli, also suggested buying locally sourced ingredients and gathering in a location that requires less travel in order to minimize the impact on the environment.
She did not suggest changing the name of the holiday.
For Fox News hosts, the article was the perfect stuffing, spoon-fed to viewers of “Fox & Friends,” “The Five” and “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” among other shows on the president’s favorite cable network.
“Liberals are coming for your Thanksgiving turkey!” declared Greg Gutfeld, co-host of “The Five,” on Nov. 6, a day after the article was published.
The show included a giant graphic emblazoned with “War on Thanksgiving” as a backdrop.
On “Fox & Friends” the next day, co-host Ainsley Earhardt falsely claimed the HuffPost piece was “telling America cancel Thanksgiving because of the carbon footprint, telling you not to travel to see family, don’t eat meat, eat veggies.”
“Don’t tell us what we can and cannot eat,” said “Fox & Friends” guest Lynette Hardaway, aka Diamond of the Fox Nation duo Diamond and Silk. “If you have a problem with climate change, stop driving cars, ride on your horse to work. You do everything you can to fix the climate, but don’t infringe upon my right to have Thanksgiving with my family.”
It’s not entirely clear why the president held a rally in Florida Tuesday night. Maybe he considered it a homecoming now that he’s fled the city of New York. Maybe he wanted to shore up his support in the state one year out from the 2020 election. Maybe he wasn’t satisfied with the Very Normal Turkey Pardon he’d participated in that afternoon, and wanted to feel the warm glow of the TV lights on him once more before the day was done. Maybe he just wanted to wish everybody a Very Happy Thanksgiving. Or maybe he felt it was his duty to defend Thanksgiving itself from attack.
It’s not quite the holiday season yet, except during television commercial breaks, so the War on Christmas has not yet begun in earnest. (Trump, it should be said, personally fought the War on Christmas in July.) Also, Donald Trump has now declared victory in the War on Christmas. But cultural resentment must always be stirred up. The angry division in our country must constantly be stoked. The only solution, then, is to find another war to fight: The War on Thanksgiving. Before you ask, it’s definitely real, and LIBERALS! are responsible.
It once seemed impossible to find a more intergalactically insane cultural struggle than the War on Christmas, a supposed effort by secular liberalism to erase from American life the most ubiquitous holiday in the history of civilization. (Their weapon in this unholy war is the phrase, „Happy Holidays,” a group of events that includes Christmas—it’s, like, the first holiday most folks think of—but is not only Christmas, and so is therefore trying to erase Christmas.) And yet here, the president just magics up some campaign to rename Thanksgiving—presumably to the People’s Republic of Elizabeth Warren Day, or whatever—because he knows the crowd will boo, then cheer when he announces himself their champion.
Of course, none of this has anything to do with creating a siege mentality among white conservative Christians as part of a wider campaign to establish multiculturalism as a threat to The America You Know and Love. Happy Thanksgiving.
BEIJING (AP) — China reacted furiously Thursday to President Donald Trump’s signing two bills aimed at supporting human rights in Hong Kong, summoning the U.S. ambassador to protest and warning the move would undermine cooperation with Washington.
Hong Kong, a former British colony that was granted semi-autonomy when China took control in 1997, has been rocked by six months of sometimes violent pro-democracy demonstrations.
Thousands of pro-democracy activists crowded a public square in downtown Hong Kong on Thursday night for a “Thanksgiving Day” rally to thank the United States for passing the laws and vowed to “march on” in their fight.
Trump’s approval of the bills was not unexpected. Neither was the reaction from Beijing, given China’s adamant rejections of any commentary on what it considers an internal issue.
Nevertheless, the clash comes at a sensitive time and could upset already thorny trade negotiations between the two nations.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng told U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad that the move constituted “serious interference in China’s internal affairs and a serious violation of international law,” a foreign ministry statement said.
Le called it a “nakedly hegemonic act.” He urged the U.S. not to implement the bills to prevent greater damage to U.S.-China relations, the ministry said.
In a statement about the meeting, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said, “the Chinese Communist Party must honor its promises to the Hong Kong people.”
The U.S. “believes that Hong Kong’s autonomy, its adherence to the rule of law, and its commitment to protecting civil liberties are key to preserving its special status under U.S. law,” it said.
The U.S. laws, which passed both chambers of Congress almost unanimously, mandate sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who carry out human rights abuses in Hong Kong, require an annual review of Hong Kong’s favorable trade status and prohibit the export to Hong Kong police of certain nonlethal munitions.
“I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong,” Trump said in a statement. “They are being enacted in the hope that Leaders and Representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all.”
Prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, who was among those who lobbied for the U.S. laws, said it was remarkable that human rights had triumphed over the U.S.-China trade talks. Wong told Thursday’s rally that the next aim is to expand global support by getting Britain and other Western nations to follow suit.
Since the Hong Kong protests began in June, Beijing has responded to expressions of support for the demonstrators from the U.S. and other countries by accusing them of orchestrating the unrest to contain China’s development. The central government has blamed foreign “black hands” bent on destroying the city.
C.Y. Leung, a former chief executive of Hong Kong, said at a talk at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong that he doubts the U.S. or supporters of the bills “ever had the interest of Hong Kong in mind.”
He suggested Hong Kong was being used as a “proxy” for China and the legislation was a way to hit back at Beijing.
While China has repeatedly threatened unspecified “countermeasures,” it’s unclear exactly how it will respond. Speaking on Fox News, Trump called the protests a “complicating factor” in trade negotiations with Beijing.
At a daily briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang responded to a question about how Trump’s endorsement of the legislation might affect the trade talks by saying it would undermine “cooperation in important areas.”
Asked Thursday if the U.S. legislation would affect trade talks with Washington, a Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman said he had no new information to share.
Recently both sides expressed confidence they were making headway on a preliminary agreement to avert a further escalation in a tariff war that has hammered manufacturers in both nations.
Associated Press writers Eileen Ng in Hong Kong and Elaine Kurtenbach in Beijing contributed to this report.
As Rudy Giuliani waged a public campaign this year to unearth damaging information in Ukraine about President Donald Trump’s political rivals, he privately pursued hundreds of thousands of dollars in business from Ukrainian government officials, documents reviewed by The New York Times show.
Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, has repeatedly said he has no business in Ukraine, and none of the deals was finalized. But the documents indicate that while he was pushing Trump’s agenda with Ukrainian officials eager for support from the United States, Giuliani also explored financial agreements with members of the same government.
His discussions with Ukrainian officials proceeded far enough along that he prepared at least one retainer agreement, on his company letterhead, that he signed.
In an interview Wednesday, Giuliani played down the discussions. He said that a Ukrainian official approached him this year, seeking to hire him personally. Giuliani said he dismissed that suggestion but spent about a month considering a separate deal with the Ukrainian government. He then rejected that idea.
“I thought that would be too complicated,” Giuliani said. “I never received a penny.”
Giuliani’s shadow diplomacy campaign in Ukraine on behalf of the president is a central focus of the current House impeachment inquiry. At the same time, a federal criminal investigation into Giuliani is examining his role in the campaign to oust Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and whether he sought to make money in Ukraine at the same time he was working against her, according to people briefed on the matter.
Prosecutors and FBI agents in New York City are examining whether Giuliani was not just working for the president but also doing the bidding of Ukrainians who wanted the ambassador removed for their own reasons, the people said. It is a federal crime to try to influence the U.S. government at the request or direction of a foreign government, politician or party without registering as a foreign agent. Giuliani did not register as one, he has said, because he was acting on behalf of his client, Trump, not Ukrainians.
Giuliani has not been accused of wrongdoing.
The federal inquiry focused on Giuliani grew out of the case against two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were arrested on campaign finance charges last month. Alongside Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman worked to pressure Ukraine into announcing investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Parnas and Fruman have pleaded not guilty to the campaign finance charges.
Spokesmen for the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey S. Berman, whose prosecutors are handling the case, and the FBI declined to comment.
The documents reviewed by The Times portray an evolving effort over the course of several months by Giuliani and lawyers close to him to consider taking on various Ukrainian officials or their agencies as clients.
One of the documents, a proposal signed in February by Giuliani, called for the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice to pay his firm $300,000. In return, Giuliani would help the government recover money it believed had been stolen and stashed overseas.
In another unsigned draft proposal that was not on letterhead, Giuliani looked to enter into a similar deal with Yuriy Lutsenko, who was then Ukraine’s top prosecutor. At the time, Giuliani had been working with Lutsenko to encourage investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election.
Giuliani was critical of Yovanovitch, whom he and other Republicans have said was opposed to the president. Giuliani’s moves against her, however, were also aligned with the interests of Lutsenko, who had butted heads with the ambassador.
Ultimately, Yovanovitch was removed from her post in May, and Lutsenko was replaced in August after a new Ukrainian president took office.
The Times could not determine whether the documents it reviewed comprise the entirety of the efforts by Giuliani and other lawyers to represent Ukrainian government officials.
The documents date to mid-February, when a draft proposal said Giuliani would represent Lutsenko “to advise on Ukrainian claims for the recovery of sums of money in various financial institutions outside Ukraine.” It called for Lutsenko to pay $200,000 to retain Giuliani Partners, Giuliani’s firm, and a husband-and-wife legal team aligned with Trump, Joseph E. diGenova and Victoria Toensing.
The proposal came a few weeks after Giuliani met at his office in New York with Lutsenko to discuss Ukrainian corruption. Lutsenko told Giuliani and others about payments involving Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian company that had named the younger Biden to its board, according to a memo summarizing the meetings.
An updated proposal was circulated Feb. 20, along with instructions on how to wire money to Giuliani Partners. This version made no mention of Lutsenko but instead sought $300,000 from the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice and the Republic of Ukraine. The proposal was signed by Giuliani, but not by the justice minister at the time, Pavlo Petrenko.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Justice said Wednesday that it did not enter into any contracts or make payments to Giuliani.
In March, a document proposed that the Ukrainian justice ministry would hire Toensing and diGenova for asset recovery. But it said that the General Prosecutor’s office, run by Lutsenko, would pay $300,000 to Giuliani Partners.
Several later draft retainer agreements involved Toensing and diGenova but did not reference Giuliani.
In April, Lutsenko reappeared as a potential client in some new versions of documents, along with one of his deputies. Under the proposals, which were signed only by Toensing and printed on her law firm’s letterhead, she and diGenova would represent the officials “in connection with recovery and return to the Ukraine government of funds illegally embezzled from that country.”
Asked for comment by The Times, a spokeswoman for Lutsenko, Larisa Sarhan, on Wednesday referred to an interview Lutsenko gave to a Ukrainian news outlet confirming that aides to Giuliani had asked him to hire a lobbying company. He did not specify which company.
Lutsenko told Ukrainska Pravda he had been seeking a meeting with William Barr, the U.S. attorney general, and was in touch with unnamed advisers to Giuliani. “In the end, they said the meeting would be impossible unless I hired a company that would lobby for such a meeting,” Lutsenko told the news outlet, adding that he declined to do that.
The proposed April agreement between Lutsenko and Toensing and diGenova also referenced another assignment: helping the Ukrainians meet with U.S. officials about “the evidence of illegal conduct in Ukraine regarding the United States, for example, interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.”
The proposals noted that Toensing and diGenova might have to register as foreign agents under U.S. law.
“We have always stated that we agreed to represent Ukrainian whistleblowers,” Mark Corallo, a representative for the law firm of Toensing and diGenova, said in a statement Wednesday. Corallo said the business proposals were “unaccepted” and the lawyers never represented the Ukrainians. “No money was ever received, and no legal work was ever performed,” he said.
In another agreement signed by Toensing in April, the client would have been Victor Shokin, the top Ukrainian prosecutor before Lutsenko. Shokin was ousted after critics, among them Joe Biden, said he was soft on corruption.
Shokin did not respond to a request for comment.
Shokin had also spoken with Giuliani and his associates in January, via Skype. In the call, Shokin asserted that U.S. officials applied pressure on the Ukrainian government to kill an investigation of Burisma and that he was fired after Biden accused the prosecutor of being corrupt, according to a memo summarizing the discussion.
Toensing proposed that, for $25,000 a month, she and her partner represent Shokin “for the purpose of collecting evidence regarding his March 2016 firing as Prosecutor General of Ukraine and the role of then-Vice President Joe Biden in such firing, and presenting such evidence to U.S. and foreign authorities.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
© 2019 The New York Times Company
North Korea may deploy ‘super-large’ rocket launcher soon
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Friday the latest test-firing of its “super-large” multiple rocket launcher was a final review of the weapon’s combat application, a suggestion that the country is preparing to deploy the new weapons system soon.
South Korea’s military earlier said North Korea fired two projectiles, likely from the same “super-large” rocket launcher, on Thursday. It expressed “strong regret” over the launches and urged North Korea to stop escalating tensions.
On Friday, the North’s Korean Central News Agency confirmed the launches were made with the presence of leader Kim Jong Un and other top officials.
“The volley test-fire aimed to finally examine the combat application of the super-large multiple launch rocket system proved the military and technical superiority of the weapon system and its firm reliability,” KCNA said.
It said Kim expressed “great satisfaction” over the results of the test-firing.
Analyst Kim Dong-yub at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies said North Korea appears to be entering the stage of mass-producing and deploying the rocket launcher. He wrote on Facebook that the weapons system may already have been deployed.
Thursday’s firing was the fourth test-launch of the rocket launcher since August.
Some experts say the flight distance and trajectory of projectiles fired from the launcher show they are virtually missiles or missile-classed weapons. The projectiles fired Thursday flew about 380 kilometers (235 miles) at a maximum altitude of 97 kilometers (60 miles), according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday called the projectiles ballistic missiles.
North Korea has fired other new weapons in recent months in what some experts say is an attempt to wrest concessions from the United States in stalled nuclear diplomacy while upgrading its military capabilities.
A U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at persuading North Korea to scrap its nuclear program in return for political and economic benefits remains largely stalemated since the February collapse of a summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in Vietnam.
Most of the North Korean weapons tested since the Vietnam summit were short-range. Attention is now on whether North Korea resumes nuclear and long-range missile tests if Trump fails to meet a year-end deadline set by Kim for Washington to offer new proposals to salvage the negotiations.
Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said the country voiled ‘a very dangerous plot’ after the violent demonstrations
Tehran (AFP) – Iran has arrested eight people it accused of CIA links and sending abroad information on recent urban unrest, days after the United States said it had received thousands of messages on a protest crackdown in the Islamic republic.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Tehran of „deliberately covering up” more than 140 deaths that it said came when security forces suppressed demonstrations against a sharp fuel price hike.
Iran said that among the more than 500 people arrested were eight who were „linked to the CIA”, state news agency IRNA said late Wednesday, citing the head of the intelligence ministry’s counter-espionage department.
„Some elements who tried to collect information about the recent riots and send them out of the country… were identified and arrested,” the director-general was quoted as saying.
Six of them were alleged to have been at „the riots and carrying out orders,” IRNA reported, without naming the official.
Two others were arrested before they could leave the country, the news agency said, and all had been „trained in different countries on how to collect information… as citizen-journalists”.
Iran’s arch-foe the United States has said it received thousands of messages from the Islamic republic about the protests, including photos and videos, after issuing an appeal for people to defy sweeping internet restrictions.
„We’ve received to date nearly 20,000 messages, videos, pictures, notes of the regime’s abuses through Telegram messaging services,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday, referring to the encrypted app.
The unrest came after a year and a half of biting sanctions reimposed by US President Donald Trump that aim to heap „maximum pressure” on Iran and contain its regional influence.
The sanctions followed Trump’s decision in May 2018 to unilaterally withdraw the United States from an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme.
– ‘Dangerous conspiracy’ –
Iran has also come under pressure in neighbouring Iraq, where protesters infuriated by Tehran’s influence on the government in Baghdad torched its consulate in the city of Najaf late Wednesday.
Tehran, which sees the nearly two months of protests in Iraq as a „conspiracy”, on Thursday demanded decisive action against the Iraqi „aggressors” behind the consulate attack.
Iran has also blamed the unrest within its own borders on „thugs” backed by its foreign enemies, including the United States, Israel and the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, an exiled armed opposition group it considers a „terrorist” cult.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said „the people foiled a deep, vast and very dangerous conspiracy on which a lot of money was spent for destruction, viciousness and the killing of people,” state television reported Wednesday.
On Twitter, Khamenei expressed his „heartfelt gratitude and appreciation” to the Iranian nation in a post that featured pictures of a massive pro-government rally held Monday in Tehran.
„The people proved again that they are powerful and great, and defeated the big conspiracy of the enemy with their presence on the scene,” he said.
The protests erupted across Iran on November 15, hours after petrol prices were hiked by as much as 200 percent with immediate effect.
Reports of deaths and arrests emerged as security forces were deployed to rein the demonstrations as they turned violent, with dozens of banks, petrol pumps and police stations torched.
A near-total internet blackout was imposed the next day, apparently to stem the flow of videos of violence being shared online.
WASHINGTON — Four months ago, retired Navy SEAL Capt. Dick Couch reached out to the head of Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Adm. Collin Green, to tell him some hard truths.
“I contacted him and said, ‘I think you have some problems,’” said Couch, a Vietnam veteran who has lectured at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., and written a book on battlefield ethics. The SEALs were not doing enough to condition their people “morally and ethically” for the battlefield, he told the admiral.
It was a message that Couch said he has been delivering to the heads of Naval Special Warfare Command and U.S. Special Operations Command for the past “eight or nine years.” But Green was the first of those leaders to respond positively, he said.
“He was very forthcoming, and he was very anxious to engage along those lines,” Couch said.
By the time Couch reached out to Green, the admiral was already coming to grips with the extent of the challenge facing him when it came to the issue of instilling “good order and discipline” in the Navy’s elite Special Operations force. A series of high-profile scandals ranging from drug abuse to accusations of murder had put SEALs in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
With Congress asking hard questions about what was going wrong in the SEALs and the wider Special Operations community, Green issued a letter to the Naval Special Warfare force July 25 that was notable for its bluntness. “We have a problem,” he wrote in bold, underlined text. “Some of our subordinate formations have failed to maintain good order and discipline and as a result and for good reason, our NSW culture is being questioned.”
Fixing that problem, Green wrote, was his “top priority.” But even he could not have imagined that his effort to confront these issues would result in having his attempts to discipline one of his SEALs — Eddie Gallagher — publicly and repeatedly countermanded by the president of the United States.
The Navy charged Gallagher with premeditated murder, attempted murder and a series of lesser offenses after teammates accused him of fatally stabbing an unarmed, wounded teenage prisoner in Iraq. But after a series of prosecution missteps, Gallagher was acquitted at court-martial this summer of all but a charge of posing for a photograph beside the dead militant’s body.
Mexico City (AFP) – Donald Trump’s plan to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations has ignited a raging debate in Mexico on whether the groups’ horrific violence should be considered terrorism.
Mexicans broadly agree on one thing, though: they don’t want the American president’s help.
And experts say such a designation would have little impact on the ground, anyway.
Mexico’s powerful cartels have certainly sown terror, whether throwing grenades into a packed crowd, hanging headless corpses from bridges, laying siege to city streets or — the incident that drew Trump’s attention — massacring nine Mormon women and children who had dual US-Mexican citizenship.
But experts say that on one key point, organizations like the Sinaloa or Jalisco New Generation cartels differ from the groups the United States has blacklisted as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Whereas Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State group, ETA, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the rest of the 68 groups on the list have political or religious motives, drug cartels’ main goal is making money.
„Mexican cartels can’t be compared to the FARC, for example, which certainly had links to drug trafficking but was not exclusively an organized crime group,” said Jorge Castaneda, a Mexican academic and former foreign minister.
„This is the first and only time” the US has moved to add mafia groups to the list, he told AFP.
„These organizations have no political component.”
– ‘They are terrorists!’ –
The debate goes back to November 4, when alleged members of the La Linea drug cartel fired a hail of bullets at three SUVs in a remote, lawless region in northern Mexico.
Inside were 17 members of three Mormon families. The gunmen killed three women and six children, including twin eight-month-old babies, and set one of the vehicles on fire with the occupants inside.
Prominent members of one of the families, the LeBarons, sent a petition to the White House urging Trump to designate Mexican cartels as terrorist groups.
„Their unbridled acts of violence and murder have overrun our borders and created an international crisis,” it said.