The rise and fall of Al Franken: from comedy to politics to disgrace

The Minnesota senator had begun to attain his mark on Capitol Hill as an incisive and amusing presence, but those who knew him alerted he came here with baggage

When Al Franken was mooted as a possible dark horse in the 2020 presidential election, those who knew him warned that he comes with baggage. They little guessed how much.

The Democratic senator announced on Thursday that he will resign in the coming weeks following a string of sex misconduct accusations. It marked a dizzying rise and fall for the comedian-turned-politician whose legacy on Capitol Hill will be heatedly contested.

In his farewell address on the Senate floor, Franken sought to portray himself as a victim.” Some of the allegations against me are simply not true ,” he said defiantly.” Others I remember very differently … But this decision is not about me. It’s about the people of Minnesota .”

Not all the people of Minnesota have been taken by surprise by the events of the past three weeks, however. Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, said:” I didn’t know of any of these accusations but he’s a very self-confident person who guess of himself as special. With some of the accusations you see that: what he felt was being goofy or having his style was clearly unacceptable .”

Franken, 66, who grew up in the Jewish community in St Louis Park, a suburbium of Minneapolis ,~ ATAGEND had appeared to be a phase in favour of the debate that politics is enriched by people from varied and colourful backgrounds rather than career politicians.

He first stimulated his name 40 years ago as a writer and musician on the TV slapstick show Saturday Night Live and was twice a guest performer at the White House correspondents’ dinner . He also worked as a talkshow host and wrote books such as Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations and Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.

Then came an abrupt turning when Franken ran for the Senate in 2008. He went to Jeff Blodgett ,~ ATAGEND who operated the late Paul Wellstone’s Senate campaigns, for advice. Blodgett commented on Thursday:” I would hope that Al Franken would get credit for growing into a senator of real substance, someone who dug deep on issues like net neutrality, mental health and veterans affairs, a senator who paid close attention to his country, and a consistent progressive voice during a tough era for our country .”

During the election campaign Republican attempted to turn his old jokes against him, but in vain. The Democrat creaked home by 312 referendums after an eight-month legal battle. But anyone expecting him to become court jester in the Senate was in for a letdown .~ ATAGEND

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Al Franken on election night in November 2008 Photograph: Craig Lassig/ EPA

Facing scepticism over whether he possessed the necessary grativas, Franken chose he had to prove himself as” a workhorse and not a indicate horse”, he recalled in a recent memoir, Giant of the Senate. He subjected himself to what he calls” the DeHumorizer” and became a polished politician who steered clear of reporters.

” Possibly the most ridiculous Politician Skill I had to learn … was how to’ fulcrum ,’ which basically means’ not answer questions ‘,” he writes. But there were occasional lapsings, such as the time he rolled his eyes at the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.” As soon as Mitch had finished his speech, he marched up to the podium and let me know he was furious, as he had every right to be.’ This isn’t’ Saturday Night Live ,’ Al !'”

Meanwhile Franken induced significant contributions to policy, including to Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Jacobs said:” There’s no doubt Al Franken is very bright, “hes having” genuine interest in public policy and he worked hard to prove to his constituents and his fellow senators that he was worthy .”

It paid off. Franken was re-elected by a comfortable margin in 2014. He allowed the mask to slip a little, letting himself be funny again and more media friendly. Thus liberated, he also became one of the Democrats’ hardest hitters, pummeling the education secretary, Betsy DeVos ,~ ATAGEND us attorney general Jeff Sessions and supreme court justice Neil Gorsuch during confirmation hearings.

He also took on unfashionable causes such as net neutrality, and his recent grilling of Facebook and Google over Russian election interference was at once sardonic and incisive, amusing and devastating.

But the inner jester was still there and so were its dark secrets. Allegations began to emerge last month when Los Angeles radio anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 United Service Organisations tour. He apologised and called for himself to be investigated, but over day a further seven women came forward with asserts about inappropriate behaviour.

On Wednesday more than 30 Democratic Senators called for Franken to stand down .~ ATAGEND No amount of “pivoting” could save him from his past. Jacobs said:” His career was in an industry where outrageous behaviour and sexual aggressivenes have a free rein and the commission has caught up with him with a vengeance. It’s a sad day: he put their own lives on hold and now his career in politics appears to be over. There’s nothing to celebrate .”

During an interview with the Guardian at a cafe in St Paul in September, a casually dressed Franken showed a down-to-earth side of his personality, relating how he had just been to the Minnesota Vikings’ training camp with his son. A stranger approached him and said:” I’m this close to asking for your autograph but the memory will be enough .” Franken graciously insisted on an autograph.

Reaction in his home country is mixed, Jacobs said, with conservatives generally “elated” and some liberals “hopping mad” that the senator has been pushed out of office.” I believe most Minnesotans have a heavy heart. A sense of disloyalty, frustration and annoyance about what’s going on in public life .”

For now, Franken has joined the ranks of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer as out of work and unemployable. But he said on Thursday:” I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice .”

Jacobs suspects he could yet attempt a third act.” He may be forced from office but I don’t think it’s the last we’ve seen of him. He may recover, re-energise and come back as a spitfire comedian looking for retaliation. I would not want to be on his enemies list .”

But some assured Franken’s farewell statements in the Senate as self-serving. His legacy is eternally tainted. Neil Sroka, spokesman for the progressive political organisation Democracy for America, which called for him to resign last week ,~ ATAGEND said:” It’s hard not to see how this doesn’t cast a cloud up what could have been an important career in the Senate, but it’s a shadow that has to exist. There’s a broad sense, at the least among Democrats, that we cannot ignore the victims of sexual harassment: their voices need to be heard .”

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‘Enough is enough’: leading Democrats call on Al Franken to quit

Minnesota senator, 66, recommended by several female my fellow members to resign as allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior mount

Half a dozen female Democratic senators have called on Al Franken to resign, as other women stepped forward to accuse the Minnesota Democrat of sexually inappropriate behavior. They were joined by the minority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, and the national party chair, Tom Perez, who also called on Franken to step down.

Franken’s office said he would make a public statement- expected to include a response to the calls- on Thursday. One Democratic senator, Ron Wyden, said he expected Franken to” announce his resignation tomorrow “.

In Facebook posts, tweets and public statement, several Democrats advised their colleague to step aside amid widening accusations of sexual assault and misconduct against powerful humen that have roiled Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Washington.

” I have spent a lot of day reflecting on Senator Franken’s behaviour ,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a longtime advocate for victims of sexual assault, said in a Facebook post that started the cascade of calls.” Enough is enough .”

Gillibrand was joined by Patty Murray of Washington, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Kamala Harris of California and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

Those calls were swiftly echoed by other colleagues, including Dick Durbin, the No 2 Democrat in the Senate, as well as Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.

Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, also called on Franken to resign.

” Everybody has to share the responsibility of building a culture of trust and respect for women in every industry and workplace, and that includes our party ,” Perez said.

Perez’s remarks came less than 36 hours after the Republican National Committee renewed its support for Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate who is facing multiple allegations of inappropriate behavior with teenage girls and women, including sexual assault.

While many national Republican have distanced themselves from the Alabama Republican, he has approved by Donald Trump. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who has called on Moore to drop out, has said the Alabama Republican would face an ethics investigation if elected.

McConnell issued a statement calling for Franken to step down:” The near daily barrage of allegations of sexual misconduct against Senator Franken are extremely concerning to all of us in the Senate. While the Senate ethics committee is reviewing these serious allegations, it now appears that Senator Franken has lost the support of his colleagues, and most importantly, his constituents. I do not believe he can effectively serve the person or persons of Minnesota in the US Senate any longer .”

Hours afterward, the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, weighed in to say he too believed Franken should resign. In a brief statement, Schumer said:” I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately .”

Franken, 66, who has been accused by multiple other women of groping or trying to forcibly kiss them, has apologized for his behaviour and asked the Senate ethics committee to analyse himbut the senators said elected official must be held to a higher standard, putting his political future in question. Franken did not appear in the Senate on Monday.

” This institution has evolved over centuries, it’s evolved over my virtually three decades of service, and it’s evolving once more before our very eyes ,” said Murray, a member of Democratic leadership.

” This current evolution is long overdue. It’s time for us as elected representatives to hold ourselves to a higher criterion, to define two examples, and to live a situated of values that is truly representative and worthy of the Congress, our republic, and our great country .”

Hirono tweeted:” Today, I am calling on my colleague Al Franken to step aside. I’ve fought with this decision because he’s been a good senator and I consider him a friend. But that cannot excuse his behaviour and his mistreatment of women .”

Harris posted:” Sexual harassment and misconduct should not be allowed by anyone and should not occur anywhere. I believe the best thing for Senator Franken to do is step down .”

Earlier on Tuesday, Politico reported on a new accusation against Franken. A former Democratic congressional aide said the former comedian tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006, as he was ramping up his campaign for the US Senate, according to Politico. The aide dodged his advance and alleged that Franken said as she left:” It’s my right as an entertainer .” Franken denied the accusation to Politico.

The calls for Franken to resign come one day after John Conyers, the longest-serving Democrat in Congress, resigned after allegations of sexual harassment. Conyers, who was the top Democrat on the House judiciary committee and spend over a half-century on Capitol Hill, had settled one claim of sexual harassment against him with taxpayer money and had been accused of misconduct by several other former staffers.

Two other members of Congress currently face allegations of sexual harassment: Republican Blake Farenthold of Texas and Democrat Ruben Kihuen of Nevada.

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Roy Moore rival: ‘Men who hurt little girls should go to jail, not the Senate’

Shifting tactics in Alabama Senate race, Democrat Doug Jones hammers Roy Moore over allegations of sexual misconduct involving teenagers

Doug Jones, the Democratic nominee in the Alabama Senate election, on Tuesday launched his most sustained attack yet on his Republican challenger, Roy Moore.

In a speech in Birmingham a week before the vote, Jones hammered Moore, who has faced allegations of sexual misconduct involving teenaged girls.

” Men who hurt little girls should go to jail , not the US Senate ,” Jones said.

Several hours after Jones’s speech, Republican senator Jeff Flake made a $100 gift to the Democrat’s campaign. Flake, a conservative “Never Trump” Republican from Arizona, wrote” country over party” on the check.

The Alabama race has been roiled by accusations from women who say Moore behaved inappropriately with them when they were teens and he was a prosecutor in his 30 s.

Two females have claimed Moore sexually assaulted them. Others have said he dated or tried to date them. The Republican nominee has denied all the allegations and pointed to a conspiracy involving” lesbians, lesbians, bisexuals and socialists “.

Attacking Moore, Jones contrasted the firebrand conservative judge to the state’s former governor, Robert Bentley, who resigned amid a sexuality scandal in April.

” We didn’t look away with Robert Bentley when his conduct involved consenting adults and we cannot look away now that it involves children ,” Jones said.

Moore has twice been forced to step down as chief justice of the Alabama supreme court, for eluding federal court orders. Jones set up his Republican opponent as a figure of mockery.

” Roy Moore has never, ever served our nation with honor ,” he said.” He was already an shame before nine courageous females chose to share their tales .”

He also attacked Moore for his position at a not-for-profit organization called the Foundation for Moral Law , which paid the Republican about$ 1m over a five-year period.

” I have never lived off of gifts from a so-called charitable foundation ,” Jones said.

The Democrat even taunted Moore for pulling a small pistol on stage at a campaign rally in September.” When you find me with a handgun, I’ll be climbing in and out of a deer blind ,” he said,” not prancing around on a stage in a cowboy suit .”

The speech marked a shift in tactics from Jones. From being cautious in blaming Moore over the accusations of sexual misconduct, his campaign are growing increasingly vocal and aggressive.

The speech came one day after Donald Trump formally endorsed Moore and the Republican National Committee, which had receded subsistence, renewed the active involvement in the race.

At the White House on Tuesday, Trump talked to reporters about the race.” We don’t want to have a liberal Democrat in Alabama ,” he said.” We want to have the things we represent .”

Press secretary Sarah Sanders also defended the endorsement, saying Trump
” would rather have a person that supports his agenda versus someone who opposes his agenda every step of the style, and until the rest of that process plays out, you have a selection between two someones, and the president’s chosen to support Moore “.

She added:” The accusations are concerning and, if true, he should step aside, but we don’t have a way to validate that and that’s something for the people of Alabama to decide .”

CNN journalist Jim Acosta challenged Sanders , mention:” This is somebody who’s been accused of child abuse, of molesting children. How can that vote in the Senate be that important that you would take a gamble on somebody who’s been accused of molesting children, of harming somebody who is under age? Has he wrestled with that question?

The press secretary answered:” As I’ve said, we find the allegations very troubling and again this is up to the people of Alabama to construct that decision. I’m not a voter in Alabama; I can’t induce that decision .”

According to the realclearpolitics.com polling average, Moore has a 1.5 -point lead.

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Chuck Grassley attempts to clarify ‘booze or women’ estate tax comments

Senator who spoke of people expending fund on booze or women or movies says taxation code should not penalise prudence, saving and investment

A Republican senator who said attempts to scale back or eliminate the estate tax distinguished” people that are investing as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny the government had, whether it’s on booze or women or movies” has attempted to clarify his meaning.

Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a seven-term senator and senior is part of the Senate finance committee, attained the statement late last week in an interview with the Des Moines Register.

His words have attracted attention since the passage of the Senate tax bill early on Saturday morning.

Democrats charge that the Republican tax reform is heavily weighted in favor of rich countries and corporate America and will add as much as$ 2tn to the national debt. Republicans respond that the wide-ranging cuts will stimulate economic growth.

Under current law, when someone succumbs their estate owes taxes on the value of assets transferred to heirs above $5.5 m for individuals and $11 m for couples.

Only the estates of about two out of every 1,000 Americans who die qualify for such tax.

The Senate bill doubles those limits but does not repeal the tax. The House tax bill initially doubles the limits and then repeals the entire tax after 2023.

House and Senate negotiators are working out the differences between the two bills, with the goal of completing legislation to send to Donald Trump before Christmas.

On Monday, Grassley said his comments had been misinterpreted.

” My point regarding the estate tax, which has been taken out of context, is that the government shouldn’t seize the fruits of someone’s lifetime of labor after they succumb ,” he said in a statement.

” The topic is one of basic fairness, and working to create a taxation code that doesn’t penalize frugality, saving and investment .”

Farm-state lawmakers and other Republicans have long was contended that the estate tax is harsh on small businesses and family farms.

Grassley said he wanted to ensure the tax code was as fair for” family farmers who have to break up their operations to pay the[ Internal Revenue Service] in accordance with the death of a loved one as it is for mothers saving for their children’s college education or running families investing and saving for their retirement “.

The Tax Policy Center has estimated that merely 80 small business and small farm estates nationwide will face any estate tax in 2017.

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Donald Trump attacks British PM Theresa May over her criticism of his far-right retweets

In rare clash between allies, US president tells May to focus on terrorism rather than on him but sends the tweet to the wrong person

Donald Trump has publicly rebuked Theresa May over her criticism of anti-Muslim propaganda, opening an extraordinary diplomatic spat between the transatlantic allies.

” Theresa @theresamay, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom ,” the US president tweeted on Wednesday evening.” We are doing just fine !”

Trump’s message came in response to criticism from the British prime minister’s spokesman over his retweeting of incendiary videos posted by the deputy leader of a British far-right group.

However, the “@ theresamay” Twitter managed that Trump targeted does not belong to Theresa May, the British “ministers “, but a woman called Theresa Scrivener. Minutes later Trump deleted and reposted the tweet, this time with the correct manage: @Theresa_May.

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A screen shot of Trump’s Twitter account, with the original tweet. Photo: Twitter/ Screen shooting

The angry denunciation, crowning one of the most wayward days yet of Trump’s presidency, earned a swift putdown from the US senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who gratified May at Downing Street last week to discuss terrorism threats to both countries. He tweeted :” PM @theresa_may is one of the great world leaders, I have incredible love and respect for her and for the route she leads the United Kingdom, especially in the face of turbulence .”

The feud marks a new, unexpected spin in the ” special relationship “~ ATAGEND that has benefited from personal chemistry between leaders such as Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, and Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.

There had been hopes that May and Trump – whose mother was British – would achieve a similar rapport. She was the first foreign leader to visit after he took office: they were photographed holding hands at the White House and she invited him on a nation visit to the UK. But that has yet to take place after a series of disputes and warnings that protesters will take to the streets to show he is not welcome.

Hostility in the UK deepened on Wednesday when Trump highlighted videos from the feed of Jaydan Fransen of Britain First that purported to demonstrate a group of Muslims pushing a boy off a roof. Another claimed to show a Muslim destroying a statue of the Virgin mary, and a third claimed to show a Muslim immigrant hitting a Dutch boy on crutches.

The credibility of the last video was immediately undermined when the the Dutch embassy in the US said the perpetrator of the violent act in the video was bear and raised in the Netherlands. Fransen has been charged with using threatening or abusive language following an appearance at a far-right rally in Belfast this summer.

May’s spokesman made clear Trump’s invitation still stood but said it was ” incorrect for the president to have done this “. Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, added:” UK has a proud history as an open, tolerant society& hate speech has no place here .”

The Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, described the retweets as” abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our society .” He and several other members of parliament called for the nation visit to be cancelled.

The Labour MP David Lammy posted :” Trump sharing Britain First. Let that sink in. The President of the United States is promoting a fascist, racist, extremist dislike group whose leaders have been arrested and convicted. He is no ally or friend of ours. @realDonaldTrump you are not welcome in my country and my city .”

Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, recommended Trump to remove the retweets. And Brendan Cox, widow of Jo Cox, an MP murdered last year by a man reportedly hollering” Britain first” as she shot and stabbed her, told CNN :” I think we likely got used to a degree of sillines, of outrageous retweets and tweets from the president, but I think this felt like it was a different order.

” Here he was retweeting a offender, somebody who was convicted of religiously exacerbated harassment of an organization that is a hate-driven organization on the extreme fringes of the far, far right of British politics. This is like the president retweeting the Ku Klux Klan .”

US Democrats joined the disapproval. Keith Ellison, the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee and a Muslim member of Congress, branded the president” a racist “.

But the White House defended the retweets. The principal deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, told reporters on Air force One:” We think that it’s never the incorrect time to talk about security and public safety for the American people. Those are the issues he was raising with the tweets this morning .”

Asked if Trump was aware of the source of the tweets, Shah responded:” I haven’t spoken to him about that .”

The spokesman insisted:” The chairwoman has the greatest respect for the British people and for Prime Minister May .”

Trump’s new salvo echoed his criticism in June of London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, after seven people were killed and 48 injured in a terror attack in thecity. Khan, the first Muslim mayor of a western European capital city, hit back on that occasion and tweeted on Wednesday:” Britain First is a vile, hate-fuelled organisation whose positions should be condemned , not amplified .”

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‘Women are pissed’: Trump protest turns to action and surge in female candidates

In the presidential race, some women bided at home since they are didnt want to vote against their spouses. Now they have had enough

In the months before Donald Trump was elected president, Tara Zrinski knocked on thousands of doorways in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley to talk with voters about environmental policy. She hoped that the conversations might help elect Hillary Clinton.

But some of her most poignant interactions were not about policy. They were about husbands.

” We heard females saying that they didn’t want to vote against their spouse ,” Zrinksi said.” That they weren’t going to vote because they didn’t want to cancel out his referendum .”

Trump scored a narrow upset victory in the county, which had voted twice for Barack Obama. Trump’s support among women in Northampton probably mirrored his majority support among white females nationally, local pollsters say. That support helped Trump grab the nation of Pennsylvania, and the White House.

The loss was devastating for activists like Zrinski. But it was also galvanizing, to an extent that has begun to look bad- maybe alarmingly bad- for Trump and Republican. Because one year after the presidential election, a wave of first-time female candidates stood for state and local office in Northampton County and across the United States- and they won.

” It was a huge Republican bloodbath, is the only term I can think of for it ,” said Peg Ferraro, a popular Republican who narrowly retained her seat on Northampton’s County council.

For the past year, the Guardian has been investigating Trump’s win in Northampton County for our series The Promise. As summertime has turned to fall, doubts have grown locally about whether Trump could win the county again, which could have implications for his national staying power. And girls are at the center of the story.

Tara
Tara Zrinski, an activist and first-time candidate now elected to the Northampton County council. Photograph: Mark Makela for the Guardian

Democratic and progressive women in Northampton County have been motivated by frustration with Trump, but their impressions of disenfranchisement go beyond the president, they said.

” I actually describe it as a kind of quiet rage ,” said Vanessa Williams, 35, a local activist and organizer.” And you see it explode every once in a while. It’s really come out a lot again with all the sexual assault accusations that are coming out.

” Women are merely pissed, frankly. They’ve had it. I think up to now it’s been a lot of talk of,’ There, there, we’ll take care of it, we’ll take care of you’.

” And it’s not happening. And women are realizing, I’ve got to step up, I’ve got to take care of myself, I’ve got to take care of my kids .”

Psychotherapist Lori Vargo Heffner, 56, has never held elective office, but in November she mounted a successful bid for Northampton County council on the Democratic side. The council controls a budget of $400 m and has jurisdiction over important infrastructure including bridges, a nursing home and a incarcerate.

” I guess women get energized ,” said Heffner in an interview in the deep-cushioned office where she advises clients.” I don’t want to give him the credit. I want to say it was watching Hillary lose.

Activist
Activist and organizer Vanessa Williams in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Photograph: Mark Makela for the Guardian

” Watching an intelligent woman, who had every qualification for that office, lose. She seemed to have it in the bag, and still not be able to pull out the win- it was a shock. And I believe more females stepped up to say, I’m going to run for this office, even if it’s a small office. And other women emerged to help the people that operated .”

Zrinski, 42, won a seat on the district council alongside Heffner, to enhance the number of women on the nine-person council from one to three. She spoke with the Guardian over lunch hour at the Apollo Grill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

” There were people who, when I knocked on a doorway, said,’ You’re a woman, I’m voting for you, we need more women in office ‘,” said Zrinksi, a first-time nominee.” And I heard that theme a lot .”

Gains for women and Democrat were not are confined to Northampton County. Women won seven out of seven races for open judicial positions in Pennsylvania. Elsewhere in the US, “womens representation in” the Virginia country legislaturejumped by almost 50%. Democrats grabbed the New Jersey governor’s manor on 55% subsistence among women. The city of Seattle elected its first woman as mayor in almost a century.

Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, said that girls made up 38% of all candidates in Northampton County’s 2017 elections – higher than normal, but not high enough.

Morning
Morning light illuminates a neighborhood in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Photo: Mark Makela for the Guardian

” Those of us who are advocates for women in politics, we would love to see that number patently increase even more ,” Brown said.” But certainly it is a sign that women are indeed filing, operating and winning at higher rates in 2017 than they have in previous municipal election years, which is very exciting and promising .”

Over breakfast at Billy’s in Bethlehem, Williams said she believes that the situated of results has begun to lift the gloomines.” People were like,’ Oh my gosh .’ We actually had wins .”

But there’s a question on everyone’s mind: is it enough? Will the movement outlive the moment? Or does this look like another sure-fire victory for Trump’s opponents that turns out to be an illusion?

‘ What’s for supper ?’

In the eyes of his critics, Trump as chairwoman has demonstrated a aggression to girls , nominating hardly any women for important positions, resisting healthcare and family public policies that females champ and rejecting females the dignity of equals.

The fact that an ongoing national reckoning with sexual harassment and abuse by powerful men seems to have bypassed the president, who was accused during his campaign by more than a dozen women of having touched or kissed them without consent, only worsens the feeling of injustice and outrage.

There are plenty of Republican women in Northampton County, and Democratic women who voted for Trump, who continue to support the president. They say his 2016 foe, Clinton, was irredeemably corrupt, and that his offer of economic resurgence was better for women than her offer of identity politics.

Ferraro, the Republican county councilwoman, supports Trump, who she says has not been given a fair chance by the media. But she’s not confident that he would win in Northampton again tomorrow.

” If I were a betting person, I would say no ,” Ferraro said.” It depends who the candidates were. If it were Hillary again, I don’t know- it might be closer. But I’m not sure she could win .”

Lori
Lori Vargo Heffner, a psychotherapist, had never held elective office before she was voted on to the county council. Photo: Mark Makela for the Guardian

But Ferraro, 76, said a focus on girls per se in office was misplaced.

” I simply do not appreciate the gender thing ,” Ferraro said in a phone interview.” I think if they’re qualified, we all have to be judged equally. I think sometimes the perception is that women are a little bit more caring, women are a little bit more honest, trustworthy. But that was years ago, when I operated the first time. We’re talking the 80 s.

” At this day and age, I think that females have come into their own enough that I’m hoping that we can be looked at for our proficiency, and our skills- for what we bring to the table. Not just because we’re a girls .”

Heffner, one of Ferraro’s incoming colleagues, offered an resisting position, saying that women holding a career in public service still face unique challenges.

” I think it’s difficult to run for office as a female, and it’s going to sound so sexist, but it is still sexist ,” Heffner said.

” Because when I get done with a campaign event, I still have to go home and do the laundry. I walk in and my dad goes,’ What’s for supper ?’ I’m still expected to have those traditional roles, beyond my workday. Whereas I know that my colleagues who are male had spouses to support them and be home for them, and their wives were at the events with them.

” I don’t want to demean my male colleagues. People simply have different expectations of women, I believe .”

‘ You can vote ‘

Lizzie Morasco, 28, an activist with the progressive group NextGen Rising, knocked on 2,400 doorways before the elections this month, she said. She pointed out that Pennsylvania still has a long way to go in terms of equal representation of women.

Just 47 of 253 seats in the Pennsylvania legislature are held by girls, or 18.6%, good for a 40 th ranking nationally, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. There are no girls among Pennsylvania’s 20 members of Congress and zero women among statewide elected executives.

Lizzie
Lizzie Morasco, an activist with NextGen Rising. Photo: Mark Makela for the Guardian

Whatever barriers to entry there may be for women in Northampton county politics, they are not visible at a glance on paper. As the former home of Bethlehem Steel, the county has been a capital for industry in the country, but it is also a center for academia, with 11 regional colleges and universities. It matches “the member states national” average for women in the civilian workforce and tops the average in household income. It’s an easy day trip to New York City or Philadelphia and back.

And yet the barriers are still there, perhaps for the reasons Heffner suggested, or fashioned from deep-seated patterns more difficult to document. More than a year after she went door-to-door for Clinton, Zrinksi’s voice stiffened and her face blushed as she remembered talking with women who said they were turning their votes over to their husbands.

” You thought to yourself,’ Don’t you realize that you have a mind of your own, and that you can vote ?” she said.” You have the right to vote! Women fought for that right .’ And you think to yourself,’ If “thats what” women think in the Lehigh Valley, what do women think in other parts of the country ?'”

Judging by the election results, a lot of women in the Lehigh Valley, and in other parts of the country, were thinking the same thing. They were thinking it was time to elect more women.

But Heffner counseled caution.

” I think it’s a very good start ,” she said.” But you can’t get locked into the complacency of the win. Because next you have 2018.”

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Texas Republican Joe Barton in scandal over sexually explicit photos

Report says representative threatened woman over release of scenes such as that of the 68 -year-old which circulated on social media this week

The Texas Republican representative Joe Barton told a woman he would complain to US Capitol police if sexually explicit photographs of him and other material from their relationship were to be exposed publicly, according to a newspaper report.

The Washington Post reported the threat on Wednesday after Barton, from North Texas, apologized for a nude photo of him that circulated on social media. The photo of Barton appeared on an anonymous Twitter account. It was not immediately known who posted the photo or when it was taken.

Barton, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and the longest-serving is part of Congress from Texas, announced his re-election bid this month in a district that includes several districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Earlier on Wednesday, his spokesperson told the Dallas Morning News he had no plans to step down.

Barton issued a statement went on to say that while separated from his second spouse, prior to their divorce in 2015, he had sexual relationships” with other matured adult females “. The 68 -year-old said each relationship was consensual and had ended.

” I am sorry I did not use best judgement during those days ,” said Barton.” I am sorry that I let my constituents down .”

A woman whom the Post did not identify told the newspaper of Barton’s threat over the sexually explicit photographs, videos and messages he had sent to her. The girl described sex encounters and contact extending over five years, beginning with her posting a message on Barton’s Facebook page in 2011.

She also shared with the Post a secretly recorded telephone conversation with Barton in 2015 in which he cautioned her against employing the material” in a way that would negatively affect my career “.

The Post reported that the woman, who is not married, spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her privacy.

A message left at Barton’s district office in Arlington, Texas, was not returned. The voicemail for its term of office in Washington was full.

In a statement to the Post, Barton said a transcript of the telephone conversation provided by the newspaper is a possibility “evidence” of a” potential crime against me “. He also said Capitol police had informed him on Wednesday they were opening an inquiry. Capitol police did not respond to a request for commentary late on Wednesday.

There is no federal statute prohibiting sharing intimate pictures of other adults without their consent. In 2015 Texas passed a revenge porn statute which the Dallas Morning News said criminalized” the purposes of the act of intentionally disclosing scenes or videos’ depicting another person with the person’s intimate proportions uncovered or engaged in sexual conduct’ without their permission “.

Barton was a consultant in the oil and gas industry before he joined the House in 1985. He is the vice-chairman of the powerful energy and commerce committee, which he chaired from 2004 to 2007.

He induced headlines in 2010, when he apologised to BP for the company’s treatment by Congress during hearings over the disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In 2013, he cited the biblical inundation to dispute human links to climate change.

Barton has been the longtime manager of the GOP congressional baseball squad. In June, he was taking part in a team practise when a gunman opened fire, injuring another congressman and others.

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Opinions clash in Roy Moore’s home town: ‘There’s a lot of rumors in small-town Alabama’

David Smith visits Gadsden to hear locals opinions on the misconduct accusations, and finds advocates, waverers and critics who loathed Moore from the start

” I won’t bite ,” Tiffany Jones, an African American woman, joked to Richard Helms, a white man and Donald Trump advocate, as he hesitantly sat down beside her at a bus stop.” Even though we have different opinions, we can still sit and talk to each other .”

It was Thursday afternoon in Gadsden, the Alabama hometown of US Senate candidate Roy Moore. Jones, 38, a social work student, is vehemently opposed to the maverick Republican and observes the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him compelling. Helms, a 62 -year-old pipe fitter, takes the opposite view.

” I believe the women ,” Jones said.” Do I believe anything is going to be done about it? No, because he’s white and prejudiced and they want to keep it the same. That’s how it is in Alabama .”

Helms, however, intends to vote for Moore.” They’re trying to drum up some garbage to discredit him ,” he contended over a cigarette.” There might have been some sort of incident- altogether innocent, human, man and woman- and people get out there and exaggerated and blew it out of all proportion .”

The disagreement is typical of Gadsden, an understated, churchgoing city of 36,000 people on the Coosa river where the grapevine has been buzzing of late. Interviews by the Guardian with 20 residents on Thursday uncovered a wide spectrum of views, from diehards who stand by Moore to Republicans who are wavering because of the scandal to critics who loathed his firebrand populism from the start.

Behind Jones and Helms’s seat was the modest law office of Leroy Cobb, who was wearing a long and thick white beard, a tie-in patterned with the Confederate battle flag and a baseball cap with a picture of Confederate general “Stonewall” Jackson and the words” southern heritage “. Breaking off from a client session, Cobb, 69, insisted that he could not contemplate voting for Doug Jones- bid to become the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Alabama in a quarter-century- over Moore on 12 December.

Tiffany
Tiffany Jones and Richard Helms at a bus stop in Gadsden. Photo: David Smith for the Guardian

” On the one side you’ve got a human who believes in using taxpayer money to murder “childrens and” dedicate sodomites equal rights ,” he said.” On the other you’ve got a man who doesn’t believe in those things. I’m a Christian and my Bible doesn’t teach those .”

Dismissing the allegations against Moore, he added:” Forty years ago? They never told anybody or nobody believed them? What does that tell you about what kind of women they are? If it was my daughter, I would have killed whoever did it. I don’t believe them .”

The candidate is being held up to unfair scrutiny, Cobb insisted, quoting rightwing conspiracy theories.” No reporter ever went and looked at the background of Barack Obama .”

Cobb was not alone in rallying to the defence of 70 -year-old Moore, whose campaign on Thursday hit back at his accusers, declaring” let the battle begin “. Waiting outside the Gadsden Career Center, Christopher Brand, 38, said:” I believe it’s just stuff in the paper and I think it will go away. I don’t know if they’re lying but some people try to seek publicity these days, get their name in the paper. Some do it for money .”

Brand, who voted for Trump in the presidential election, admitted that he heard the rumours about Moore before they became public. But he said:” There’s a lot of gossips in little town in Alabama. I only believe what I know to be fact .”

Others were more willing to theorize. A 67 -year-old man, who gave his name merely as Al for dread of reprisals from his employer, said he believed there would be more accusations to come against Moore.

” I’d be very surprised if there weren’t ,” Al said.” He has a history that goes back a long ways. I know the girl Leigh Corfman[ who told the Washington Post that Moore sexually abused her when she was 14] and about 12 years ago she told me the tale. She is absolutely not lying. I know he molested her when she was very young .”

Quick Guide

Gay prohibits and kudo for Putin: the world according to Roy Moore

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Homosexuality should be illegal

In 2005, Moore said:” Homosexual conduct should be illegal .” In an interview televised on C-Span, Moore added:” It is immoral. It is defined by the law as detestable .” During a debate in September 2017, he went out of his route to bemoan the fact that” sodomy[ and] sexual perversion sweep the land “.

September 11 attacks as divine punishment

In a speech in February, Moore appeared to suggest that the terrorist attacks of September 11 were the result of divine retribution against the United States and prophesized in the Book of Isaiah. In commentaries first reported by CNN, Moore quoted Isaiah 30:12 -1 3, saying:” Because you have despised His word and trust in perverseness and oppression, and say thereon … hence this iniquity will be to you as a breach ready to fall, swell out in a high wall, whose transgressing cometh suddenly at an instance .” Moore then noted:” Sounds a little bit like the Pentagon, whose transgres came abruptly at an instance, doesn’t it ?” He added:” If you think that’s coincidence, if you go to verse 25:’ There should be up on every high mountain and upon every mound, rivers and streams of water in the working day of the great carnage when the towers will fall.'”

Praise for Putin

In an interview with the Guardian in August, Moore praised Putin for his views on lesbian rights.” Perhaps Putin is right. Maybe he’s more akin to me than I know .” The commentaries came as Moore suggested the United States could be described as” the focus of evil in the world” because” we promote a lot of bad things “. Moore specifically named lesbian wedding as one of those “bad things”.

‘Reds and yellows ‘

At a rally earlier in September, Moore “was talkin about a”” reds and yellows opposing” while discussing racial division in the United States. Moore justified this on Twitter by quoting lyrics from the anthem Jesus Loves the Little Children. He wrote” Red, yellow, black and white they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. This is the Gospel .”

Tracking livestock is communism

In 2006, Moore denounced a proposal for a national ID system for animals as” more identifiable with communism than free enterprise “. The proposal received attention after a cow in Alabama had been diagnosed with mad cow illnes. Moore, who was then operating for governor, was skeptical that the outbreak was real. Instead, Moore suggested it was a ruse intended to promote the tracking system.

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Al also backed reports that Moore sought daughters at the Gadsden shopping mall.” He always wore the same tan camel-hair coat. There was a store called Pizitz and he would always hang around the lingerie section; they were the first ones to hurl him out. Then he would hang around outside the Record Bar and hit on young girls there. He was always alone; never with another adult. The mall hurled him out.

” Then he decided he would thump the Bible and these people believed him and he became some sort of cult figure. But he’s a shady character, a really strange guy. There’s no way I would vote for him; I never have. I don’t see him winning, actually. If you look at middle-class, better educated areas, he never gets those elections .”

Chad Gowens, a medical assistant who served in the navy, said:” Growing up in this town, most people know Roy Moore and the type of person he was. At school you heard the narratives. It was a hush-hush because he was assistant DA[ district attorney ].”

Gadsden, Alabama

Gowens, 33, always suspected that a scandal would burst into the open sooner or later.” I figured it would be that they discovered him on Grindr or something. Anyone who’s preaching that hard is normally got skeletons in their cupboard .”

Henry Joseph, 80, a retired building contractor, was sitting at the bar at the Blackstone Pub and Eatery on Broad Street, said he was a Republican but was willing to vote Democrat next month.” I’ve turned ,” he said.” Doug Jones did very well in Birmingham when he was a prosecutor .”

As for Moore, Joseph was adamant.” I think the man’s in love with himself. His ego’s all the more important than Trump’s and he probably misses himself when he goes to sleep at night .” But he added:” I suppose part of the allegations are presumptively right and a lot are fabricated. I can’t go back 30 years and tell you where I was on a devoted day .”

Lonnie Dorcey, 42, a business proprietor in the hospice industry, also dismissed the accusations.” He’s known to all the members of the country and nothing like this has come out until four weeks before the election. There were lots of opportunities over the last 30 years. It’s a small enough town, a small enough community. Everyone knows everything about everyone. You just can’t maintain a secret like for 30 years: there have been bitter election opposes and it would have come out .”

Steve Beene, 68, relaxing on a bench, said:” I believe Roy Moore could shoot somebody here and still get the votes. People are not as informed as they used to be .”

Gadsden is the county seat of Etowah County, which in the past has voted for Democrats John F Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton( twice ), but had now been been staunchly Republican, strongly backing Trump in last year’s presidential election.

It fits the profile of some of Trump’s strongholds. Gadsden’s main employers were textile mills, a steel mill that shut down in about 2000 and a tyre-manufacturing plant that virtually ran the same style. The main boulevard, Broad Street, is lined with bars and restaurants, insurance and investment companies and shops selling antiques, comics and dolls, as well as an art museum and dance conservatory, but little traffic and few household name chains. Within walking distance are several advance cash and payday loan outlets.

Greg Bailey, co-managing editor of the Gadsden Hour, a 150 -year-old daily newspaper with a circulation of 10, 000, said:” It’s gone from a smokestack city to a city looking for an identity. There are people saying,’ When are those smokestack days coming back ?’ They’re not coming back. We’re still in flux .”

Beverly
Beverly Young Nelson at a press conference in Manhattan where she has accused Roy Moore of sexually abusing her when she was 16. Photograph: Spencer Platt/ Getty Images

The paper has been inundated with calls from around the country since the Moore scandal erupted. Bailey believes he still has a chance of winning the Senate race.” It would not surprise me ,” he said.” His core base, the conservative evangelical Christians, is very loyal. This is a group that feels put upon by the socioeconomic changes they see around them and they’re desperate for a champ and they’re not easily going to give their champion up .”

The journalist added:” I have some people in my social media who are absolutely doubling down and some who are vacillating. If he sticks it out, I can’t tell what’s going to happen on December 12.”

But the waverers are much in evidence, even among unrepentant Trump voters. After all, the president himself- who won Alabama by 28 percentage points- has hardly been enthusiastic about Moore’s candidacy, first endorsing his challenger Luther Strange in the Republican primary, then suggesting that Moore should step aside if the allegations prove true, though he stopped short of demanding his immediate withdrawal.

Preparing to order lunch at Cafe 5, Rick Green, 69, said he backed Trump strongly but was undecided on how to vote in the Senate race.” I need more information about some things ,” he said.” These allegations seem to be getting stronger and stronger every day but I want to see proof. You’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. I think the election’s going to be awful close .”

A military special operations veteran of 30 years who served in Vietnam and Iraq, Green criticised congressional Republicans for trenching Moore.” You can’t seem these days to get the Republicans to stand together on anything. I’m just entirely disgusted. They can’t get their act together. They’re constantly squabbling when I want a wall construct, I want taxation reform .”

A poll released on Wednesday by the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm demonstrated Jones constructing a once unthinkable 12 -point lead since the accusations became public. Another Trump voter, 29 -year-old Jessica Jones, owned of the Sew Much Grace boutique store, said:” I lean more towards Republican in my voting. We share the same values and notions, but I cannot in good conscience vote for Roy Moore .”

Not everyone is gripped by the tournament, however. Back at the bus stop, Betty Way, 60, who works in an adjacent office for a trucks and trailer company, said:” I don’t even know what the allegations are. I don’t watch TV. I live in the country and there’s better things to do than look at politics.

” If you ask me how the deer’s running or how’s the rabbit’s hopping, I could tell you, but when you get into politics, I don’t have a position .”

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His act of defiance went viral. Now elected, Braxton Winston aims to fix the system from within

His clenched-fist salute to riot police became an emblematic image now It will be interesting to see what happens when the dog actually catches the car

One of the newest faces of politics in Trump-era America is a man who became a prominent activist after a police shooting in his town and a snapshot that went viral.

Braxton Winston was voted on to the city council in Charlotte in the local and country elections held earlier this month.

” It will be interesting to see what happens when the dog actually catches the car ,” he told the Guardian.

His elevation to newly elected official came a little more than a year after he was arrested during demoes in the North Carolina city to protest about the death of resident Keith Scott at the hands of the police.

At one point during several days of volatile demonstrations in 2016, Winston stood shirtless in front of riot police, at the front of a mob of protesters, and raised a clenched-fist salute. He had taken off his shirt to use as a mask against the clouds of teargas he says police had been firing” for hours “.

A photographer for the Charlotte Observer newspaper snapped a picture of Winston from the back, and the striking image lighted up the internet.

” That was a snapshot of a moment. That was the first night of many long nights out on the street ,” he said of the photograph.

He remembered it was a” high adrenaline” protest, where he was overwhelmed by teargas but still wanted to make a point while maintaining his composure, he said.

” I know that the fist does make a statement, it allows me to say everything I want to say ,” he said.

Since his election, Chelsea Clinton and rapper and activist Common have both sung his praises on social media.

In a pointed tweet is targeted at Donald Trump, Clinton said:” Mr. President, @BraxtonWinston is a superb example of an actual’ very fine’ person. And, yes I know he won an election in Charlotte , not Charlottesville. Still, please learn more about him .”

She was referring to Trump’s statements in the consequences of the a huge white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, when despite Nazi-style regalia and chanting and a peaceful anti-discrimination demonstrator being killed, the president said there were” very fine people on the two sides “.

Common, the hip-hop artist and civilian, animal and lesbian rights activist, also known as Lonnie Rashid Lynn, also wrote on Twitter.

” Inspiring: this photo was taken at a protest following the killing of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte ,” he tweeted, above the picture of Winston confronting the police.” The brother in the photo with his hand created is @BraxtonWinston. On Tuesday, he won a seat on the Charlotte City Council !!”

Braxton
Braxton Winston, right, greets a Charlotte city staffer as he arrives for an orientation meeting at the governmental forces center last week. Photo: Chuck Burton/ AP

As a member of the council, Winston will now have a level of influence over the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department, whose officers had arrested him the year before and whose chief, Kerr Putney, he called on to be fired at the time.

Keith Scott was shot dead after police say he failed to drop a gun upon their order. The policeman who shot him was not charged. The victim, officer and police chief were all African American, but although the death did not prompt the same level of tension over race relations that has followed other recent killings of young black men by white police officers, parts of Charlotte erupted.

” It was not just anti-police-brutality, it was about the unfairness- this is one of the most segregated cities in the world ,” said Winston.

He was reached in the shoulder by a teargas canister shot out of a cannon and absorbed so much gas that he feared for his life at certain phases, he said.” It was close to a war zone ,” he recalled.

Having since sat down with Putney for several debates, Winston is no longer calling for the police chief’s removal from office.” That’s old news ,” he said.

Charlotte had not experienced the level of demonstrations that had swept many other cities with the rise to national prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement and race relations issues in accordance with the shootings of Trayvon Martin by security patrolman George Zimmerman in Florida in 2014 and Michael Brown by a white police officer in Missouri in 2015.

So when angry protests flared up after Scott’s death,” there was a lack of leadership ,” Winston said, which led to” both police officer and protesters being in danger”, he said. But firing the police chief would not necessarily have helped, he said,” with hindsight “.

” I’d rather figure out how to fix the system ,” he said.

Winston, 34 and a professional videographer, had not been a prominent activist before, but determined himself taking on a leading role after the demoes last September, which eventually turned into a run for office. Charges against him after his arrest were dropped, as was a lawsuit he filed against the city.

Last week he was part of a surge of diverse and progressive new leaders elected as Democrat by voters across the country on 7 November.

Charlotte also elected Vi Lyles to be mayor, the first African American woman to hold the office in the city.

Winston campaigned on a platform of criminal justice reform and better equality between men and women in Charlotte. He described himself as a capitalist but is concerned that many lower-income residents are being forced out of their homes by gentrification amid soaring house prices and rents, and that an inadequate transportation system leaves poorer communities isolated from the center of the city.

” There are pockets of extreme poverty next to extreme wealth ,” he said.” It’s my job to have uncomfortable conversations, be an agent of change and get the work done now .”

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Bernie Sanders warns of ‘international oligarchy’ after Paradise Papers leak

US senator warned that leak of documents uncovering offshore taxation havens demonstrate rapid motion toward a group of billionaires controlling the global economy

Bernie Sanders has warned that the world is rapidly becoming an” international oligarchy” controlled by a tiny number of billionaires, highlighted by the revelations in the Paradise Papers.

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What are the Paradise Papers?

The Paradise Papers is a special investigation by the Guardian and 95 media partners worldwide into a leak of 13.4 m files from two offshore service providers and 19 taxation havens’ company registries. The files uncover the offshore financial affairs of some of the world’s biggest multinational companies and richest individuals, and set off the myriad ways in which tax can be avoided use artificial structures

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In a statement to the Guardian in the wake of the massive leak of documents exposing the secrets of offshore investors, Sanders said that the enrichment of wealthy individuals and companies in taxation havens was ” the major issue of our time “.

He said the Paradise Papers opened the door on a” major problem not just for the US but for governments throughout the world “.

” The major issue of our time is the rapid movement toward international oligarchy in which a handful of billionaires own and control a significant part of the global economy. The Paradise Papers shows how these billionaires and multinational corporations get richer by concealing their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes ,” the US senator from Vermont said.

Sanders, who came in a close second to Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, pointed the thumb of held accountable for the thriving of offshore considers on both Congress and the Trump administration. He told the Guardian that Republican in Congress were responsible for ” even more tax breaks to profitable firms like Apple and Nike “.

The same tax breaks, he said, were being seized upon by super-wealthy members of Trump’s cabinet” who avoid billions in US taxes by shifting American jobs and profits to offshore tax havens. We need to close these loopholes and demand a fair and progressive taxation systems .”

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What are the Paradise Papers?- video

Sanders’ intervention in the debate triggered by the Paradise Papers marks the most prominent political response to the leak in their opening 24 hours. The investigation stems from the leak of some 13 m files obtained by Suddeutsche Zeitung in Germany and shared with almost 100 news organisations around the world including the Guardian by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

One of the most pointed disclosures in the Paradise Papers was that Wilbur Ross, Trump’s commerce secretary, has continued to do business with the son-in-law of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, as well as a member of Putin’s inner circle who is under US sanctions. Ross, himself a billionaire, has retained since to intervene in the Trump administration his investment in a shipping company, Navigator, that has a partnership with the Russian gas giant Sibur.

In turn Sibur is part-owned by Kirill Shamalov, the spouse of Putin’s daughter.

The emergence of Ross’s ongoing ties to business interests so close to the Russian president at a time of intense scrutiny of the relationship between the Trump administration and the Kremlin has incensed prominent Democrat involved in Ross’s confirmation to office. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat who sits on the US Senate commerce committee, accused Ross of deluding the public as well as lawmakers who had allowed the confirmation to go through having heard Ross promise to divest himself of any interests that carried potential conflict.

” If he fails to present a clear and obliging explanation, he ought to resign ,” Blumenthal told MSNBC in an interview.

Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, said:” In February, I opposed Mr. Ross’ nomination because there were a number of unanswered questions about his ownership stake in the Bank of Cyprus and his connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as his refusal to divest from a$ 1 billion co-investment built with the state-owned Chinese Investment Corporation.

” Despite assurances from the Commerce Department and the White House on the eve of his nomination, these questions remain unanswered over eight months ago. These unanswered questions and recent revelations certainly warrant a Commerce Committee hearing and I suppose an Inspector General investigation is in order. We should get to the bottom of this .”

On Monday, Ross denied that he had done anything wrong in his handling of his investment in Navigator. In the course of a visit to London, he told UK media that” there is nothing incorrect with it. The fact that it happens to be called a Russian company doesn’t mean there is any evil in it .”

Further responses to the Paradise Papers came from the Democratic leader in the US Senate Chuck Schumer, and the ranking Democratic member of the Senate finance committee, Ron Wyden. In a joint statement they accused Republican in Congress leading the push towards a reform of the tax code of failing to close egregious loopholes revealed by the leaks.

Quick Guide

Key revelations from the Paradise Papers

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1) Millions of pounds from the Queen’s private estate has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund– and some of her money went to a retailer accused of exploiting poor households and vulnerable people.

2) Extensive offshore dealings by Donald Trump’s cabinet members, advisers and donors, including substantial payments from a firm co-owned by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law to the shipping group of the US commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross.

3) Twitter and Facebook received millions of dollars in investments that can be traced back to Russian country financial institutions.

4) The tax-avoiding Cayman Islands trust managed by the Canadian “ministers ” Justin Trudeau’s chief moneyman.

5) Formula One champ Lewis Hamilton avoided taxes on PS17m jet using Isle of Man scheme.

6) A previously unknown $450 m offshore trust that has sheltered the wealth of Lord Ashcroft.

7) Apple secretly moved parts of empire to Jersey after row over taxation affairs.

8) How sportswear giant Nike stays one step ahead of the taxman.

9) The billions in taxation refunds by the Isle of Man and Malta to the owners of private planes and luxury yachts.

10) The secret loan and alliance used by the London-listed multinational Glencore in its efforts to secure lucrative mining rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

11) The complex offshore webs used by two Russian billionaires to buy stakes in Arsenal and Everton football clubs.

12) Stars of BBC hit sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys used web of offshore companies to avoid taxation.

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As a outcome Republicans were rewarding, the duo said,” wealthy billionaires like secretary Wilbur Ross for dodging taxes, while punishing many in the middle class with new taxation hikes. If you deduct medical expenditures or student loan interest from your taxable income, the Republican plan comes after your wallet. But if you stash your billions in secret bank accounts overseas, their scheme gives you the green light to keep doing what you’ve been doing .”

They added that the Paradise Papers were” proof positive that the Republican taxation plan favours the wealthy and betrays the middle class in this country, who are the ones left carrying the financial burden of massive corporate tax avoidance “.

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