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April 3, 2019

President Trump and the Clinton family are like oil and water, but they do have a shared love: golf. Former President Bill Clinton has played with everyone from Tom Brady to Barack Obama to Tiger Woods, and his brother-in-law, Hugh Rodham, has also been known to play a round or two.

The problem, though, is when those worlds collide. In Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, a new book out this week, sportswriter Rick Reilly tells a story about the time Hillary Clinton got her younger brother, Hugh Rodham, a chance to play Winged Foot, an exclusive invitation-only club in New York. The problem was, Rodham apparently showed up wearing shorts, which are against the club's strict dress code. A desperate search for pants ensued, but since "Rodham is a man of large girth ... there weren't any pants in the pro shop that fit," Reilly writes.

A caddy was finally sent into the locker room to find someone "near Rodham's size." Trump's locker was spotted, and the caddy reportedly seized Trump's rain pants; Rodham preceded to play his round while wearing them.

Only, the story eventually got back to Trump, who "flips out," Reilly claims. "He makes Winged Foot buy him an entirely new rain suit. Clinton cooties." Read more about how golf explains Trump, and how flagrantly he reportedly cheats, by ordering Commander in Cheat here. Jeva Lange

April 3, 2019

Yankee great Mickey Mantle once said "he who has the fastest golf cart never has a bad lie," a truism President Trump, apparently, has taken to heart. In a hilarious new book, Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, author Rick Reilly, citing Mantle, claims Trump's cheating is so excessive that he has a "supercharged" golf cart "rigged to go twice as fast as the rest" so he can scooter ahead and reposition his ball after a bad drive.

Greg Puga, a caddy who spoke with Reilly, confirmed that Trump "makes sure to hit first off every tee box and then jumps in the cart, so he's halfway down the fairway before the other three are done driving. That way he can get up there quick and mess with his ball." Puga provided Reilly with a particularly amusing anecdote about one game he played with Trump:

So this one time — we were on the 18th — [Trump] hits first, kind of blocks it right, and jumps in his cart and starts driving away. My guy pures one right down the middle. I mean, I SAW it go right down the middle. One of his best drives of the day. But by the time we get to my guy's ball, it's not there. We can't find it anywhere. And Trump is now ON the green already putting! Where's our ball? And then Trump starts yelling back at us, "Hey guys! I made a birdie!" He's holding up his ball and celebrating. And that's when we realized. He stole our ball! He got up here early, hit OUR ball, and then hurried up and pretended like he made the putt for a birdie. I mean, what the hell?" [Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, via]

Amazingly, there are plenty more stories just like that one. Commander in Cheat is available to order here. Jeva Lange

April 3, 2019

Everyone knows President Trump loves golf, and some people might be forgiven for believing he's also quite good at it — as Trump will tell you himself, he's won 18 club championships (a claim so preposterous that it makes real golfers spit out their coffee). Despite Trump looking like an elite-level player on paper, his tricks for winning the game are exposed in a hilarious new book by sportswriter Rick Reilly, Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains President Trump, out this week.

In Commander in Cheat, Reilly interviews caddies at Trump-branded clubs, as well as at Winged Foot, a New York golf club where Trump is a member. At Winged Foot, Reilly discovers that the caddies have a nickname they use for Trump behind his back, due to how accustomed they've become to seeing him kick his ball back onto the fairway: Pelé. Yes, as in the Brazilian soccer legend.

Of course, that's a big no-no in golf. You're supposed to play the ball where it lands "without any change to the overall situation," GolfLink explains. Kicking the ball back onto the fairway definitely qualifies as an illegal "change to the overall situation."

Reilly is so confident that Trump cheats his way through the game that USA Today reports he has challenged the president to 18 holes with a stake of $100,000 — so long as Trump doesn't use his "cheating caddies." Read more about Trump's alleged cheating in Commander in Cheat, available to order here. Jeva Lange

July 10, 2018

Is it a miracle, or is it science? That was the question posed by the Thai Navy SEAL team after the completed rescue of all 12 Thai youth soccer players and their 25-year-old coach on Tuesday. The boys became trapped in the Tham Luang cave on June 23 while exploring the cave system, as rising waters forced them deeper and deeper into the cavern. The boys were finally located, miraculously alive, after nine days of searching — and then the rescue efforts began. Here are 7 facts about the rescue. Jeva Lange

1. Many of the boys did not know how to swim and were given anti-anxiety medications before being helped out by divers. [The New York Times, The Telegraph]

2. It took 11 hours for a diver to make the five-mile roundtrip to reach the boys. [ITV]

3. All the while, hundreds of gallons of water were being pumped out of the cave — the equivalent of 48 Olympic-sized swimming pools in a 75-hour period. In an effort to stop the flooding, authorities also dammed streams that flowed into the caves. Natural shafts that dumped water into the caves were also plugged. [Sky, Reuters]

4. Divers used "Heyphones," a 20-year-old technology, to communicate with the rescue base. The ultra-low frequency transmitters are able to penetrate through rock and send divers' locations and messages. [Wired]

5. Approximately 90 divers were involved in the rescue. About 50 were foreigners. [AFP]

6. After being in the dark for two weeks, the boys have to wear dark sunglasses after they emerge, until their eyes adjust. [NYT]

7. After being removed from the cave, the boys went straight to the hospital — and into quarantine. Doctors are worried about diseases that might have been in the cave waters or spread by animals. All the boys have been treated with antibiotics and received vaccinations for tetanus and rabies. Two boys might have pneumonia, but the doctor called all of the first eight rescued "in good health, with no fever, and in a good mood." [NYT]

July 9, 2018

Dan Rather, the formidable former anchor of CBS Evening News and current host of The News with Dan Rather on The Young Turks Network, has become a frequent target of far-right media in recent years. Breitbart has mocked Rather's "great sadness" about the future with President Trump, and The Western Journal dismissed his declaration that the president is "mean as a wolverine" (their argument: "Not only is 'Wolverine' one of the coolest superheroes in the Marvel Comics universe, the animal itself is best known as being absolutely fearless and ferocious if the need arises"). The 86-year-old news veteran certainly has not been shy in calling the state of America bleak, but as he told Columbia Journalism Review in an interview published Monday, "I'm an optimist by nature and by experience, and I do think we'll get through it."

Rather goes on to explain why he thinks the future could be bright yet:

We need to stop, think, work, particularly those of us in journalism. You used the word "bleak." I think, seen from one perspective, that at least in the short- to medium-term, it could get pretty bleak.

Right now, there's very little check on Trump. The modern presidency has tremendous power, if whoever leads it chooses to use that power, to discredit and cripple the press. Trump is demonstrating right now that he has no inhibitions about using the full power of the presidency for his own partisan political advantage. So short- to medium-term, yeah, I think it could get pretty bleak. […] I do think we'll get through it and come out the other end. Maybe with a better and stronger understanding of and commitment to what the value of quality journalism can be in a society such as ours. [Columbia Journalism Review]

Read the full interview, and why Rather believes Trump's hatred of the media is distinctly different than former President Richard Nixon's, at CJR. Jeva Lange

June 21, 2018

There are plenty of people who would find it extremely difficult to muster up any pity for Donald Trump Jr., the eldest child of the president. Still, the GQ profile of Junior published Thursday makes a pretty compelling case — from his birth through his engagement through the end of his marriage. "Maybe he's not an intellectual, but he tried to be useful for his family," was how one insider gently put it. "I feel bad for him, honestly."

Here are four of the most depressing details in the profile, which you can read in full here. Jeva Lange

His parents dashed off to other engagements as soon as he was born.

That evening he was born, little Don was left by his parents to the care of the hospital's nursery. His father headed home to celebrate New Year's Eve, while Ivana put a boa and a mink over her hospital gown and went to visit a girlfriend recovering from back surgery on another floor of the hospital. [GQ]

His father didn't want to give him his name.

“You can't do that!" Trump is quoted as saying in Ivana's memoir, Raising Trump. "What if he's a loser?" [GQ]

When his parents were getting divorced, they had a spat over who had to raise him.

... [Donald] Trump, looking for some leverage by announcing that he was going to keep Don and raise him alone.

"Okay, keep him," Ivana said she told him. "I have two other kids to raise."

A few minutes later — his bluff out-bluffed — Trump ordered his boy to be taken back upstairs. [GQ]

He had the most unromantic engagement ever to Vanessa Haydon.

Despite his father's hand in their coupling, Don earned a scolding from his dad over the way he proposed — a Trumpian publicity stunt in which he scored a free engagement ring by popping the question in a jewelry store at the Short Hills mall in New Jersey. [GQ]

June 20, 2018

The U.S. government continues to house migrant children in private facilities that have a history of facing disturbing allegations of sexual and physical abuse, as well as neglect and poor medical supervision, The Texas Tribune has learned. The children housed in such facilities include the thousands of minors who have been separated from their parents at the border under the Trump administration's new "zero tolerance" policy.

At a Southwest Key Programs facility in San Benito, Texas, inspectors found some 246 violations, including an employee who showed up to work drunk, and shampoo dispensers filled with hand sanitizer; the same company operates a converted Walmart in Brownsville that holds more than 1,000 children. Another shelter, the Shiloh Treatment Center, has been awarded $26 million from the Office of Refugee Resettlement since 2013, although Maribel Bernardez claims it administered psychotropic drugs to her 9-year-old son without her consent and despite her protests. At a temporary facility in Florida, an employee asked a 15-year-old boy for a pornographic video of himself; although that specific shelter was shut down in 2017, it reopened in February, being awarded $30 million after its population doubled to 1,000 children.

There are apparently hundreds of such stories:

In Texas, where the resettlement agency awarded the majority of the grants, state inspectors have cited homes with more than 400 deficiencies, about one-third of them serious.

Allegations included staff members' failure to seek medical attention for children. One had a burn, another a broken wrist, a third a sexually transmitted disease. In another shelter, staff gave a child medicine to which she was allergic, despite a warning on her medical bracelet. Inspectors also cited homes for "inappropriate contact" between children and staff, including a case in which a staff member gave children a pornographic magazine. [The Texas Tribune]

Read the full investigation at The Texas Tribune. Jeva Lange

June 15, 2018

Actress and cosplay show host Chloe Dykstra has written an essay in which she accuses an ex-boyfriend, assumed to be Chris Hardwick, of emotional and sexual abuse. "In my early twenties, I was a vibrant, goofy kid who loved video games, Doctor Who, dressing up in cosplay with my friends, and karaoke nights," Dykstra writes, saying that her life changed when she "met someone at a convention and ended up falling for a man almost 20 years my senior." Dykstra claims that within weeks the man had established rules for her, including that she not go out at night, drink alcohol, have male friends, or speak in public places where they might be overheard.

Dykstra also describes the man sexually assaulting her: "Every night, I laid there for him, occasionally in tears," she writes. writes that a number of details in Dykstra's post corroborate the belief that the man being referenced is Hardwick, a TV personality and the founder of Nerdist Industries. Dykstra writes that she eventually left him "after three years of being snapped/yelled at constantly, very rarely being shown any affection." She claims that after the breakup, the man "made calls to several companies I received regular work from to get me fired by threatening to never work with them. He succeeded. I was blacklisted."

In her conclusion, Dykstra writes: "One of my favorite quotes comes from Bojack Horseman: 'You know, it's funny; when you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.' Please, please, keep an eye out for those red flags." Read her entire post at Medium here. Jeva Lange

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