Monthly Archives: February 2018

You Can Now Study ‘Game Of Thrones’ At Harvard University

Winter is coming early to Harvard University.

This fall, students at the Ivy League institution will be able to study how the fantasy world of Westeros relates to what life was really like in medieval times via a new ?Game of Thrones?-themed class.

They?ll learn how author George R. R. Martin?s Song of Ice and Fire book series and the HBO epic TV show it inspires ?echoes and adapts, as well as distorts? the culture and history of the age, reports TIME.

As Littlefinger says:

?When I read medieval verse epics with my students, they?d say, ?Oh, that?s like in ?Game of Thrones,?? said Racha Kirakosian, an assistant professor of German and religion who is teaching the class.

?No, if anything at all, it?s the other way around,? she added. ?Isn?t it partly our job (as professors) to use that interest and go deeper??

Kirakosian will teach the ?The Real Game of Thrones: From Modern Myths to Medieval Models? course alongside Professor Sean Gilsdorf, who lectures on medieval studies.

It follows similar classes offered by University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Virginia.

Kirakosian hopes the ?Game of Thrones? angle will prove an effective ?recruitment tool? that encourages more students to sign up to medieval studies courses.

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Trump Grants Ethics Waivers To 17 Top White House Staffers

President Donald Trump has granted ethics waivers to at least 17 of his top White House aides, including chief strategist Steve Bannon, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, in addition to four former lobbyists.

The waivers, released by the White House late Wednesday but granted on various dates, undermine Trump?s campaign pledge to ?drain the swamp? in Washington.

They also reveal a president who is granting ethics waivers at an unusually rapid pace. The 17 senior White House appointees were all granted waivers in the past four months. His predecessor, Barack Obama, granted that same number of waivers to his top staff over the course of his eight years in office. 

The waivers allow those covered under them to be exempt from some of the restrictions imposed by Trump?s executive order on ethics, which he signed just days after taking office. Most involve allowing contact with former clients and employers.

According to White House lawyers, each of these waivers is justified because the administration?s ?need for the covered employee?s services outweighs the concern? that he or she might put their own financial interests above the interests of the nation.

Conway?s waiver, for example, permits her to meet and communicate with former clients of her consulting firm. Priebus? waiver allows him to interact with the Republican National Committee, of which he is a former chairman.

White House Counsel Don McGhan was one of six lawyers who joined the Trump administration from the law firm Jones Day. All six of them were granted a limited waiver to ?participate in communications and meetings with Jones Day.?

Another waiver allows all Trump executive appointees to communicate with news organizations. The language of this waiver covers Bannon, who was executive chairman of the far-right site Breitbart News until he joined the Trump campaign last year. Without the waiver, Bannon would be barred from meeting with Breitbart.

In addition to the boldfaced names, four staffers were granted waivers to deal with issues they recently worked on as lobbyists in the private sector.

Shahira Knight, who is a special assistant for tax and retirement policy, was a lobbyist for Fidelity Investments before joining the administration. Andrew Olmem, who does financial policy, was a lobbyist for big banks and lenders.

Michael Catanzaro, recently hired as one of Trump?s top energy advisers, was a lobbyist for oil and gas companies. Knight, Olmem and Catanzaro are all members of Trump?s National Economic Council, which is headed by former Goldman Sachs boss Gary Cohn.

The fourth lobbyist granted a waiver is Joshua Pitcock, who serves as chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. Pitcock was a lobbyist in Indiana before joining the Trump administration.

Other officials granted waivers include Daniel Epstein, who is permitted to interact with his former employer, Cause of Action Institute, the watchdog group backed by the conservative Koch brothers; Rene Augustine, who is allowed to work on hiring White House staff despite having a number of politically sensitive financial holdings; Chris Herndon, the head of White House IT, who is permitted to interact with his former employer, a government IT contractor; and Claire Murray, who received a waiver allowing her to communicate and meet with her former employer, the law firm Kirkland & Ellis.

In a statement Wednesday to The Washington Post, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said the release of the waivers reflects ?the president?s commitment to the American people to be transparent.?

?The White House Counsel?s Office worked closely with all White House officials to avoid conflicts arising from their former places of employment or investment holdings,? Walters said. ?To the furthest extent possible, counsel worked with each staffer to recuse from conflicting conduct rather than being granted waivers, which has led to the limited number of waivers being issued.?

Staffers who agreed to recuse themselves from working on issues that involved their former employers did not need to get waivers.

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CNN Cuts Ties With Kathy Griffin

CNN has decided to end its decadelong relationship with Kathy Griffin as a result of the comedian?s controversial photo shoot, in which she held a prop that resembled the bloodied head of President Donald Trump.

Griffin has been a regular feature of CNN?s New Year?s Eve coverage since 2007, when she first co-hosted the festivities with Anderson Cooper.

Griffin initially defended the photo shoot with celebrity photographer and director Tyler Shields as a work of art when the photos were first released Tuesday. Later that night, as the criticism grew louder, she apologized and said she had asked Shields to take down the photo. 

?I beg for your forgiveness. I went too far. I made a mistake and I was wrong,? she said. 

CNN said in a previous statement shortly after Griffin posted the video that the network was ?pleased? Griffin apologized for the ?disgusting and offensive? image. Nevertheless, they said they were ?evaluating? whether Griffin will be invited to help host the channel?s New Year?s Eve special once again. 

The image was roundly criticized by people including President Trump and Griffin?s New Year?s Eve co-host, Cooper. 

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Ukraine Water Main Explosion Looks Like It Belongs In A Disaster Movie

It might have looked like a Hollywood-style explosion, but this blockbuster was real.

A water main break in Kiev, Ukraine, caused the street to rise and erupt on Monday, unleashing debris and a river of muddy water.

A few cars and windows were damaged, but it appears the impact could easily have taken a more serious toll. No injuries were reported, according to the BBC.

It?s not clear what caused the rupture, the Telegraph reported. However, other reports said the pipe, which had not been in use for decades, exploded around the time officials carried out tests on the water-delivery system.

The blast carved a 64-foot crater in the street.

H/T Digg

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Pink’s ‘Push Present’ Was SO Her

The ?push present? has become a popular custom among parents. These gifts, which women receive from their partners after giving birth, can range from jewelry to flowers to massage appointments.

But Pink?s push present was extra special. 

On Friday, the singer posted an Instagram photo of herself with the postpartum gift she received from her husband, Carey Hart. 

The couple welcomed their son, Jameson, in December. Their daughter, Willow, is 6 years old.

?Thanks @hartluck for the push present,? Pink wrote in the caption for her Instagram post. ?I give you babies and you build me motorcycles. Some girls like diamonds, I like heavy metal and carbon-fiber and chrome.?

Never change, Pink!

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