LA Times Editorial Board Launches Scathing Series On ‘Disastrous’ Trump

The Los Angeles Times editorial board published a blistering review of President Donald Trump?s first months in office on Monday.

?It was no secret during the campaign that Donald Trump was a narcissist and a demagogue who used fear and dishonesty to appeal to the worst in American voters,? the board wrote. ?Still, nothing prepared us for the magnitude of this train wreck.?

Even after considering Trump?s dismal policy choices ? from ramping up deportations to peddling a health care plan that would leave millions uninsured to planning the erection of a wall along the Mexico border ? the board said it was the president who poses the greatest threat to America. 

?He is a man so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality that it is impossible to know where his presidency will lead or how much damage he will do to our nation. His obsession with his own fame, wealth and success, his determination to vanquish enemies real and imagined, his craving for adulation ? these traits were, of course, at the very heart of his scorched-earth outsider campaign; indeed, some of them helped get him elected. But in a real presidency in which he wields unimaginable power, they are nothing short of disastrous.?

Over the next three days, the board will release three more pieces focusing on Trump?s lack of respect for the rule of law, his lack of regard for truth and facts and his willingness to recklessly perpetrate conspiracy theories and racist memes. 

The scathing review comes just days after Gallup released its latest poll showing Trump?s approval rating at just 38 percent. It took Trump?s predecessors, from Ronald Reagan through Barack Obama, more than a year to see a majority of Americans disapprove of their actions. It took Trump a little more than a week.

Head over to the LA Times website to read the entire editorial.

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Gay Men Are Being Rounded Up And Killed In Chechnya: Report

More than 100 gay men have been detained and at least three have been killed by authorities in Chechnya, according to a Russian newspaper cited Saturday in The New York Times.

The disturbing report from Novaya Gazeta, which cites government and police sources, follows a week of rumors about gay men mysteriously disappearing off the streets of the Russian republic, the Times reports.

Dozens of men between the ages of 16 and 50 have been detained ?in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such,? according to Novaya Gazeta as quoted in the Times.

The report blamed local authorities for the men?s detention and identified three men as murder victims. It?s thought that the actual number of dead may be higher. 

A spokesman for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who is a vocal supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, denied that any such activities have taken place. He further suggested that there are no gay people in the country at all.

?You cannot arrest or repress people who just don?t exist in the republic,? spokesman Alvi Karimov said in a statement obtained by Radio Free Europe on Saturday. ?If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.?

The mass detention of gay men is said to have followed attempts by gay rights groups to stage pride parades in cities across the country. The groups expected their requests for permits to be denied, but still filed them in hopes of taking them to the European Court of Human Rights, Slate reported.

The Russian Federation is known for its hostility to the LGBTQ community. Since 2013, it has upheld an anti-gay propaganda law that sharply curtails the public expression of LGBTQ identities.

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Blind Teen Touched By Simple But Rare Act Of Getting Braille Menu

A powerful tweet is helping people realize the everyday struggles that people with disabilities face.

On March 27, Alyssa Herrera, a 16-year-old from Grove City, Ohio, went to a Red Robin restaurant with her grandmother, brother and her 17-year-old sister, Annalicia, who is blind.

Alyssa told the Huffington Post that dining out isn?t the most pleasant experience for her family.

?When we are out at a restaurant we get a lot of staring and whispers,? Alyssa told HuffPost. ?Which sometimes agitates my family but we have gotten used to it since Anna has been blind all her life.?

Alyssa also said whenever they eat out Annalicia usually orders chicken fingers and fries, which is a dish she likes and is usually available at most restaurants.

?Since most menus are in print she can?t really explore much,? Alyssa said.

But shortly after a host sat the Herrera family at Red Robin on Monday, Annalicia was asked if she wanted a menu. Their grandmother said yes, and a few moments later, the host returned with a menu in braille.

The family was stunned ? this had never happened before.

?She had a big smile on her face,? Alyssa said.

Annalicia opened it and began perusing a menu on her own for the very first time in her life.

Alyssa slyly took a picture of the special moment.

?It was pretty great,? Annalicia told HuffPost. ?But I felt like I had so much to choose from.?

Alyssa thinks her sister may have been a little overwhelmed by the experience and chose her food pretty quickly, and took less time with her menu than Alyssa did.

Annalicia ended up ordering a chicken teriyaki burger, which she absolutely loved.

?Honestly, it was the best sandwich I?ve ever had,? Annalicia said. She added that next time she goes back she wants to take her time with the menu and choose a few new appetizers.

?My 18th birthday is tomorrow, so maybe I?ll go to Red Robin!? she said excitedly.

Shortly after Alyssa took the photo of Annalicia reading the braille menu, she posted it on Twitter.

After dinner, Alyssa checked on the post and was shocked to see it had gone viral ? receiving over 300,000 likes and 100,000 retweets.

But after some contemplation, Alyssa has a theory as to why it?s resonating with so many.

?I don?t think [able-bodied people] think much about people with disabilities and how one simple [gesture] can mean a lot to them,? she told HuffPost. ?[Some people on Twitter] have realized how privileged they are to have sight. Some have wondered why there isn?t a braille menu at every restaurant.?

?Growing up having a blind older sister is hard,? Alyssa said. ?She gets mad quite often because she can?t do much of what we can do, and with Red Robin having a menu in braille and offering it to her meant a lot to all of us.?

Red Robin did not immediately reply to a request for comment from HuffPost.

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They’re Finally Going To Close Rikers Island, America’s Monument To Jail Cruelty

Rikers Island, the gigantic island of incarceration in New York City that serves as an embarrassing emblem of violence, cruelty and neglect in the American jail system, is finally on its way to shutting down for good.

Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed Friday that a plan was in place to shutter the complex ? the nation?s second largest ? within the next 10 years. Many of the details are yet unclear, but at least part of the plan includes moving inmates to new, smaller jails scattered across the boroughs, according to The New York Times. Building those jails could cost around $10.6 billion.

An independent commission, created by City Council and headed by New York state chief judge Jonathan Lippman, reportedly plans to release more details on Sunday.

?New York City has always been better than Rikers Island,? de Blasio said in a press release. ?[Its closure] will require that our state government, and each component of our criminal justice system, contribute to the reform efforts critical to reducing our jail population and improving re-entry services and educational programming.?

A draft of the Lippman?s report recommends reducing the Rikers population from 10,000 now to less than 5,000 in the near future, according to the New York Post.

?From 1991 to 2016, the daily jail population declined from more than 21,000 to 10,000,? the report states. ?The recent history of New York City clearly demonstrates that crime and incarceration can be driven down simultaneously. Contrary to what many people believe, more jail does not mean more public safety.?

If it takes 10 years to close the facility completely, it may take a lifetime to shake off Rikers? reputation.

Several federal reports over the years have found overwhelming evidence of systemic violence, excessive force and neglect at the facility. HuffPost?s Chris Mathias reports that solitary confinement is doled out like candy on Halloween. Assaults on inmates are a dime a dozen, and they?re often covered up. There are nearly 500 inmates between the ages of 16 to 18 there on any given day. It?s been called a revolving door for people of color and the poor.

Rikers also houses a disproportionate number of mentally ill inmates ? at one point, it had more mentally ill inmates than all of the state?s 24 psychiatric hospitals combined ? and critics have long said there?s not nearly enough treatment.

For many, its closure can?t come too soon.

?For too long, New Yorkers ? especially poor people of color ? have languished in this grist mill, where human rights abuses are routine,? Glenn E. Martin, president and founder of JustLeadershipUSA, said Friday. ?Countless failed attempts at incremental reform have proven that the only viable solution is to close Rikers. I am grateful that Mayor de Blasio has joined the progressive majority.?

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U.N. Nuclear Inspector: North Korea’s Capability Has Entered A ‘New Phase’

WASHINGTON ? North Korea?s nuclear weapons program has entered a ?new phase,? with the country having doubled the size of its uranium-enrichment facility in recent years, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told The Wall Street Journal. 

?The situation is very bad ?. It has gone into a new phase,? Amano told the publication Monday. ?All of the indications point to the fact that North Korea is making progress, as they declared.?

And while Amano believes a diplomatic solution, like the one he helped broker between world powers and Iran in 2015, is ?essential,? he?s skeptical such an agreement can be reached with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his government.

?We don?t have the reason to be optimistic,? he told the Journal.

The situation surrounding North Korea has grown increasingly tense in recent weeks, with both Kim and his regime and the United States taking a more aggressive tone. North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and numerous missile launches over the last year in defiance of United Nations sanctions, Reuters reports.

During his first trip to Asia as U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson said that if North Korea elevated its nuclear threat, the U.S. would be forced to consider all options, including military action. 

?Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended,? Tillerson said. ?We are exploring a new range of security and diplomatic measures. All options are on the table.? 

President Donald Trump has also expressed outrage over the situation, saying in a Friday post to Twitter that ?North Korea is behaving very badly.? 

At an event in Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday, Trump said that what?s happening in North Korea is ?disgraceful.? He did not elaborate. 

Earlier this month, shortly after its launch of ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, North Korea resorted to its typical belligerent language and warned it would ?reduce the bases of aggression and provocation to ashes with its invincible Hwasong rockets tipped with nuclear warheads and reliably defend the security of the country and its people?s happiness in case the U.S. and the South Korean puppet forces fire even a single bullet at the territory? of the Democratic People?s Republic of Korea.

Reuters reported Monday that the Trump administration is also weighing ?sweeping sanctions aimed at cutting North Korea off from the global financial system.?

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