Author Archives: sdhjkfsd

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.

type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related Coverage articlesList=5700de59e4b0a06d5805ef9a,56cae793e4b0ec6725e3168f,58c13665e4b054a0ea682833,5749539ce4b055bb117255fc

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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. 

type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related… articlesList=592eb82ee4b0e95ac1955759,592e7edce4b055a197ce431e,592dbd5ce4b0c0608e8bdb08

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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!

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Addiction Advocacy Needs A Bill Gates, David Geffen, Warren Buffett, Or Tom Steyer

Addiction and drug overdoses claim one life every four minutes in America. In the time it takes to order a latte, someone dies?from an illness that is highly treatable. The addiction crisis is the result of social prejudice; criminal justice policies that incarcerate people with addiction instead of giving them treatment; health care policies that make it difficult or impossible to get medical help for substance use disorders; ignorance; and ?abstinence-only? drug policies that are ineffective and backwards.

The fact is, people who struggle with substance use disorder are treated like second-class citizens. Admitting there?s a problem can mean losing your job, home, and custody of your children. That makes addiction a civil rights issue. And, thanks to the work of advocates across the nation, it?s finally being recognized as a moral issue, as well.

Thought leaders like Tom Steyer are helping to drive this message home. I first met Tom during the Democratic National Convention. I had just shared my experience with addiction and recovery when Tom approached me. I was taken aback by the story he shared. He, too, lost someone very dear to him due to addiction: his best friend, who struggled with addiction for decades. His friend contracted HIV and Hepatitis C through drug use, and died of medical complications due to his illnesses.

A few months later, Tom joined me at the Facing Addiction in America summit in Los Angeles, where we invited him to share his story on stage with the U.S. Surgeon General. As Tom talked, tears filled my eyes. He said, ?We must embrace our shared humanity and recognize that addiction is a deadly, chronic illness, not a personal failing.? I’d lost friends, too. I was at risk, too. It was time to bridge the gap between policies and public awareness.

People like Tom Steyer and other pioneering philanthropists, who give tens of millions to progressive causes such as medical research, environmental causes, and water quality, must also step up to end the addiction crisis in America. Our fight is America?s fight. The sooner they do, the quicker we can heal this nation from our generation?s most urgent public health crisis.

Working alongside lobbyists, nonprofit groups, social organizers, and peer recovery groups, they can help fill the gaps left by policies and laws that omit or punish people with substance use disorder. As the current administration takes steps toward a health care bill that will leave people suffering from addiction without medical care, these philanthropic giants are in a unique position to help. Why? Because their involvement would not be tied to political party or personal gain. Rather, they would focus on the solution, plain and simple.

Addiction should be one of the issues on the list of social problems we urgently address, next to finding a cure for cancer and ending childhood hunger. Addiction permeates the social fabric of America. Nobody is exempt. As many people suffer from addiction as diabetes; more people use pain medications than tobacco products. For every person who?s developed full blown substance use disorder, another dozen are on the road to addiction. Substance use disorder affects every corner of society, including our collective health, family unity, the economy, workplace productivity, and our reliance on social programs. It also keeps jails full of people who may struggle to find jobs to support their families once they?re released, and will never be able to vote again.

The recovery advocacy movement has been built slowly, through the efforts of individuals and highly fragmented groups. We have an incredible grassroots movement that addresses an issue that directly impacts one in every three families in America, and indirectly touches all of us. But fundraising for recovery advocacy has been largely through family and friend donations?which, although heartfelt, aren?t sufficient to fund serious research, create desperately needed social infrastructure, or provide education about the true nature of addiction. While organizations dedicated to battling cancer, heart disease, and diabetes raise hundreds of millions of dollars annually, the ?addiction field,? such as it is, raises perhaps $25 million from private sources. This is unconscionable.

Gates, Geffen, Buffett, Steyer, and other philanthropic giants have the potential to be visionaries in this space. They could quickly stem the addiction epidemic without waiting for policy makers to hammer out yet another law that places people?s recovery at risk. They could find the solution that keeps families intact. With their help, nobody will lose another friend to this disease or the health problems that come with it. Bob and Suzanne Wright demonstrated the power and possibility of this kind of giving when they funded Autism Speaks. Their philanthropy helped move autism front and center: why not do the same for addiction?

What will our society, our culture, be like when we finally take addiction out of the equation? For many people, and their families, the answer is coming much too slowly.

It?s time to apply our knowledge, build a coalition, and offer the solutions our country so desperately needs. It?s time to change the framework of this crisis and confront our deepest values. Instead of punishment, we need to help the people who are sick?dying from this illness. It?s time to work together and end America?s addiction crisis for good.

What we need now is for America?s philanthropic visionaries to step up to help us dramatically accelerate the pace of progress in this urgent effort. Addiction doesn?t need someone to put their name on a building, or name a research institute. Addiction desperately needs bold philanthropists who want to leverage the people power of the grassroots.

Ryan Hampton is an outreach lead and recovery advocate at Facing Addiction, a leading nonprofit dedicated to ending the addiction crisis in the United States.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

GOP Rep. Says He’s Not A Climate-Change Denier, Then Casts Doubt On Basic Fact

Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) doesn?t deny the climate is changing, but he does deny the basic facts underpinning that conclusion.

On Tuesday, at a town hall in Graham, North Carolina, the GOP representative responded to a constituent?s question about climate change by simultaneously acknowledging it exists ? and denying humans are responsible for it:

Walker told the crowd of around 75 people he doesn?t doubt the climate is shifting, but that he is unsure ?how much of it is man-made,? and that acting to curb the causes might be too burdensome.

A broad scientific consensus, based on large amounts of data, points to human activity as the primary culprit for climate change. Put simply, as human emissions of heat-trapping gasses like carbon dioxide have spiked, so have global temperatures. 

Walker?s logic may be baffling, but it?s a common Republican refrain that appears designed to acknowledge climate change?s threats while simultaneously denying any responsibility for addressing them.

That basic premise is clearer on Walker?s 2015 campaign website, where he accused the ?secular left? of using climate change as ?a political football.?

?Much of the ?so-called? science of climate change is contested though it?s made a few politicians quite wealthy,? his position reads. ?I believe that God provided the earth to us and we have a responsibility to conserve and respect the environment. When companies damage or abuse our environment, they should be held accountable.?

Tellingly, that last sentence ? the one about holding companies accountable for damaging the environment ? no longer appears on Walker?s website.

In April, Motherboard examined Walker?s voting record and labeled the representative an outright ?climate change denier,? as opposed to merely having a ?poor climate change voting record.? 

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Thai Elephants Welcome Rescued Orphan Calf

A small herd of elephants at a Thailand sanctuary went absolutely bonkers when their handlers let them out of an enclosure so they could greet a rescued orphan calf.

The group at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai race-walked to a small barn where the young elephant was being cared for. They then reached out their trunks to touch him and made a low, vibrating pachyderm purr, video footage shows.

The little elephant, Dok Geaw, lost his mother to an infection when he was just four months old. He was raised at another center for months until he was deemed strong enough to join the herd, and arrived at the elephant park just days ago. He?ll continue to be fed milk by his human handlers while he enjoys the company of his new elephant fan club.

Elephant Nature Park was established in the 1990s to provide a haven for sick and injured elephants and other animals.

type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related Coverage articlesList=565dbfade4b079b2818bb93e

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea

Arsenal win the FA Cup for a record 13th time in a thrilling final by beating 10-man Chelsea, who are denied a league and cup double.

GOP Congressman Declines To Say Whether Every American Is Entitled To Eat

Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) refused to say whether ?every American is entitled to eat? and the food stamps program is the best way to ensure that they have the food they need.

NPR?s Scott Simon interviewed Smith on Saturday about the farm bill and President Donald Trump?s proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps. In the president?s budget, the White House is seeking $193 billion in cuts to SNAP over 10 years, an amount equal to more than one-quarter of the program?s cost over that period.

There is room for ?very minor shifts? in SNAP that ?make sure we do not harm the most vulnerable among us,? according to Smith.

?Especially for people in need we do not want to leave our most vulnerable without nutrition,? he said. ?Looking at that, we always want to keep that in mind.?

But Simon pressed Smith on his views about the program?s underlying philosophy.

?Let me ask you this bluntly: Is every American entitled to eat?? he asked.

?Well, nutrition obviously we know is very important and I would hope that we can look to ?? Smith began.

?Well, not just important, it?s essential for life,? Simon interjected.

Smith conceded that nutrition is essential to life.

?So is every American entitled to eat and is food stamps something that ought to be that ultimate guarantor?? Simon persisted.

?I think we know that given the necessity of nutrition, there could be a number of ways that we could address that,? Smith answered.

As Smith later observed, a president?s budget is merely a set of suggestions that reflect the president?s fiscal priorities. It is up to Congress to allot the funds for federal programs. The president can then sign or veto budget legislation they craft.

Smith refused to rule out reductions in SNAP spending as part of that process, however.

?I want to look at our entire budget, look at all of the details,? he said.

Roughly 43 million low-income Americans receive SNAP benefits, which are vouchers to buy food. Enrollment has dropped significantly since 2014 due to improvement in the economy.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, by claiming there are people receiving benefits who do not need them given how long ago the recession was.

The administration has not been clear about its intentions for the means-tested aid program though. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, whose department oversees SNAP, has defended SNAP?s performance and claimed that it will be up to Congress to decide how much it wants to reduce the program?s spending.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Secretary Zinke: Please Leave Our National Monuments Alone

Today, on behalf of The Trust for Public Land and its many volunteers and supporters, I am registering our concern with President Trump?s executive order to review certain monument designations.

Our public lands and waters help define who we are as a nation by telling the story of our historical, cultural, and natural heritage. This attempt to roll back protections for national monuments is unprecedented and terribly misguided. Secretary Zinke, we strongly urge you to reject efforts to eliminate or shrink our national monuments.

The Trust for Public Land has worked over many years to protect important conservation lands at several national monuments currently under review and we have worked to ensure public land protection at other recently created monuments including California Coastal, Stonewall, Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers and Pullman. Our experience was always positive, with strong community support and engagement. In California, for example, the impetus for the Mojave Trails and Sand to Snow national monuments came from Mojave Desert residents and business leaders, who organized for years in support of them.

The Antiquities Act has been used well by Presidents throughout our history for important and lasting public land protection. This current review is clearly aimed at undermining presidential authority under the Act. Should this result lead to reversals of current protection, those steps will have a lasting negative impact and threaten many protected areas for generations to come.

Regarding the expedited review of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, we question the need for this condensed timeline but urge you, Secretary Zinke, to retain the monument?s current status. That area?s priceless historic, cultural and natural wonders are exactly the places and values which should be permanently protected. Monument status for Bears Ears protects 100,000 archaeological and cultural sites as well as stunning mesas, canyons and arches and the incredible outdoor recreation, hunting, fishing and general solitude and peace they contain ? treasures which are irreplaceable. It is clear the area has deep and important meaning to several Native American tribes, given their involvement in the long-standing protection effort and recent vocal opposition to rolling back protections. The boundaries of the monument clearly honor the voices of five sovereign tribal nations who joined together to seek protection of their shared ancestral lands and traditions.

We strongly believe rolling back the Bears Ears protections would threaten all our monument areas by setting a terrible precedent. Once that door is open, where might it stop? Such actions would discourage business investment and community growth around national monuments while also sending the signal that our history and natural wonders are negotiable. This already seems to be the case in Maine where a review of the Katahdin Woods and Waters national monument has caused uncertainty about the area?s economic future, halting positive signs of economic growth following the August 2016 designation.

National monuments are tremendous drivers of the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy. Businesses in gateway communities rely on the permanency of these protections when making decisions about local investments. Visitation has doubled at Organ Mountains National Monument since its designation. At the nearby Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, the Bureau of Land Management saw a 40% increase in visitors within a year after that land was designated a monument. A report by the Green Taos (N.M.) Chamber of Commerce said that within just a year after that designation, the town?s lodging revenue increased 21% in the second half of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. This experience has been repeated over and over at other sites.

Our system of national parks, many of which began as monuments, has been called ?America?s best idea? and they are enormously popular with the American people. Our public lands provide thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic impact. They ensure permanent access to America?s unique cultural and natural history. The judicious use of the Antiquities Act, by presidents of both parties, has been a key tool in protecting that legacy of special places. There should be no rollbacks of protections, at Bears Ears or other monuments.

And we urge everyone to make their views known here.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.