Stephen King quits Facebook over false claims in political ads | Books | The Guardian

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Stephen King has quit Facebook, saying that he is not comfortable with the “flood of false information allowed in its political advertising”.

The bestselling horror novelist, a prolific user of social media, also said he was not “confident in [Facebook’s] ability to protect its users’ privacy”. King made the announcement on Twitter, where he has 5.6m followers. His Facebook page has been deleted.

The social network has faced backlash over its decision not to factcheck political ads, with chief executive Mark Zuckerberg arguing that “political speech is important” and should not be censored. Facebook said last month that while it had considered limiting the targeting of political ads, it felt that “people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinised and debated in public”.

Last October, the company came under fire for airing a 30-second video from the Trump campaign that falsely claimed that Joe Biden “promised Ukraine a billion dollars if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company”. CNN declined to run the ad, saying that it “makes assertions that have been proven demonstrably false by various news outlets”. When the Biden campaign complained about the ad, Facebook invoked its “fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinised speech there is”.

Writing for the New York Times last week, the billionaire philanthropist George Soros said: “I believe that Mr Trump and Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, realise that their interests are aligned – the president’s in winning elections, Mr Zuckerberg’s in making money.” Facebook, Soros wrote, “follow[s] only one guiding principle: maximise profits irrespective of the consequences”.

Twitter, where King made his announcement, has banned all political advertising. King has long used the site as a way to air his political opinions, most recently using it to announce his support for Elizabeth Warren. “I’ll support and work for any Democrat who wins the nomination, but I’m pulling for Elizabeth Warren,” he wrote. “I’d love to see her open a large can of whup-ass on Trump in the debates.”

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Iran Attacks U.S. Bases in Iraq; MSNBC Spews False Iranian Propaganda, Pelosi Attacks Trump From Party (Video) ⋆ Conservative Firing Line

As predicted, Iran has retaliated for the US attack that took out the terrorist Qasem Soleimani. Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) sent missiles at two Iraqi military bases used by American forces, al-Asad, and Erbil.

Per the Pentagon

At approximately 5:30 p.m. (EST) on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq.  It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Erbil.

We are working on initial battle damage assessments.

In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners. These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region.

As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region.

That the missiles were fired from Iran is a major escalation. Usually, their attacks are conducted by one of their proxies and initiate from Iraq.

The White House said President Trump was monitoring the situation and consulting with his national-security team.

Both CNN and Fox are reporting there are casualties on the Iraqi side. No word on American troops

Iran’s Press TV has released a video of the attack:

UPDATE #1 7:40PM Iran’s Press TV reports

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has targeted the US airbase of Ain al-Assad in Anbar province in western Iraq after vowing to retaliate the US assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander, Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

“Tens of surface-to-surface missiles” were fired at the strategic airbase and the attack was later confirmed by the US officials.

The IRGC has called for a complete withdrawal of US troops from the Arab country, asserting that it would not differentiate between the US and Israel in retaliating against the assassination of the Iranian national hero.

“We warn US allies providing bases for the [American] terrorist army… that any country serving as the origin of bellicose and aggressive attacks in any form against the Islamic Republic of Iran will be targeted,” read the IRGC statement

UPDATE #2 8:00 PM President Trump will address the nation tonight. Fox News has unconfirmed reports that there are no American casualties. This is a key moment for the President. His message to the country and the next steps against Iran may determine the future of his presidency.   

UPDATE #3 8:20 The IRGC says if the US responds by bombing on Iranian soil it will target the cities of Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, and Haifa, Israel, in the third wave of operations.

UPDATE #4 8:30 As Americans were being attacked Nancy Pelosi found time to attack President Trump.

Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our servicemembers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war.

— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 8, 2020

Nancy Pelosi at Danny Meyer’s Maialino Mare opening in Navy Yard. pic.twitter.com/OMkVtxeEEk

— Anna Spiegel (@AnnaSpiegs) January 8, 2020

UPDATE #5 8:45 Trump will not deliver address tonight, White House official says

UPDATE #6 9:12 Things at the two bases seem to have calmed down but that doesn’t mean it’s over. Some sources are saying the attack was not as bad as first feared. Pentagon reports there were 15 rockets fired from Iran, four failed. The ten fired at Al-Assad did not directly hit the base. Possibly on purpose so they can say they fired back.  Pentagon is preliminarily saying no American casualties. MSNBC is reporting Iranian propaganda that 13 Americans died.

MSNBC is literally doing the work of the Iranians by airing completely unverified, untrustworthy Intel about US casualties

The Pentagon has not reported on any lives lost

Why would the Media air what is so blatantly Iranian propaganda?

— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) January 8, 2020

CNN is reporting that two missiles hit near Erbil. One missile landed inside the perimeter of Erbil International Airport without exploding, the second missile hit an area 33 kilometers (about 20 miles) west of the city of Erbil without causing casualties.

Iran released the picture below which they claim is the launch of the first missile.

Update #7 10:10pm 

Iraq Foreign Minister said the attack is over for now.

Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched.

We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.

— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 8, 2020

President Trump just tweeted “All is Well” and he will address the nation in the morning.

All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2020

Per John Roberts of Fox News, the initial assessment is that the Iranian missiles struck areas of the al-Asad base not populated by Americans, according to a US military official and a senior administration official. Some in DC believe the misses were intentional. Iran needed to show a response to save face but intentionally did it in a way that would not hurt Americans.

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Tragedy! Pastor stabs wife to death, kills himself during church service (Video) | Theinfong

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Worshippers were left in shock after their pastor stabbed his wife to death before committing suicide during a Sunday church service in Mombasa, Kenya.

Elijah Misiko, an assistant pastor with the Ground for God’s Gospel Church in Mombasa, left his front-row seat and approached his wife, senior pastor Ann Mughoi, on the pulpit and stabbed her with one of the knives he’d hidden in an envelope, police said eyewitnesses told them.

“He walked up to his wife while the church was praying as if he wanted to whisper something to her,” Mombasa sub-county police commander Julius Kiragu said. “Then he took one of the knives and stabbed her (wife) two times. He believed she was dead. He then stabbed himself three times in the stomach and slit his throat.”

Misiko died instantly from his stab wounds and Mughoi died at a local hospital a few hours later, police said.

The couple had been engaged in a long-running feud over the ownership and leadership of the church, Julius Kiragu told CNN.

Back in 2017, Misiko was detained by the police in Mombasa after his wife alleged he planned to kill her. The following day, he was released after police said they found the accusations untrue.

The couple, which had four children, had lived apart since the dispute began two years ago, police said.

“She had been trying to stay away from the husband since the dispute over the ownership of the church began,” Kiragu told CNN. “They had even reported the matter to church leaders but they were unable to resolve the dispute.”

Misiko left a 17-page suicide note in which he accused Mughoi of changing ownership of the church, which he said the couple founded, to her name alone, police said.

A pastor in Mombasa County stunned faithful when he slit his own throat and died after stabbing his wife several times during a service on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/pWmmLL5S5e

— Daily Nation (@dailynation) January 5, 2020

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“Make America Great Again”: Will the Seventh-day Adventist Church in America Survive the Storm?

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It’s a global village now.

The term “global village” was invented when the global reality was much less apparent. Today, I can read the The New York Times in real time in Oslo and Ottawa and Osaka just as easily as in the city of its publication. CNN brings the world to a global audience of viewers twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I have digital subscriptions to The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and a Norwegian newspaper, and I sometimes read German or British newspapers online. This makes me an exception: newspapers and magazines compete for a shrinking audience. Visual news, by contrast, like CNN or Fox, is ubiquitous. We cannot avoid them even if we try.

And the subject — in print or on the television screen? There is more than one, but the main subject is President Donald J. Trump. He is the new chief in the global village; he attracts an audience; he keeps it up, tweet after tireless tweet. For the last four years, in outlets like CNN or Fox, there has not been one twenty-four-hour news cycle that failed to mention candidate Trump and later President Trump. Indeed, for the last four years, there has hardly been a twenty-four-hour news cycle when he was not the main subject.

I do not plan to engage this subject broadly. My focus will be narrow, announced in the headline. “Will the Seventh-day Adventist Church in America Survive the Storm?”

Why do I ask the question, why do I pose it as a matter of survival, and why do I ask it now? 

I have wondered about the impact of the political climate on the church on many occasions. A broad approach to my question would not be a waste of time, thinking particularly about the connection between the Sabbath and care for the world or the social conscience of the seventh day.[1] Here, my focus will be narrow; it will have one issue only. While some issues can be discussed dispassionately as matters belonging to gray zones, my concern cannot be discussed dispassionately, and it does not belong to a zone where there are varying shades of gray. Some things are black or white. This is one of those things.

On October 10, 2019, the President of the United States of America traveled to Minneapolis to give a speech. The stands were filled with people, twenty thousand in all. Many were dressed in the colors signifying support for the president’s aspiration to “Make America Great Again.” The president’s speech lasted one hour and thirty minutes. About one hour into the speech, the president turned to talk about the Somali-born Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and the immigration and refugee resettlement programs that brought many Somalis to Minnesota.[2]

Donald Trump: (54:16)
So in desperate attempt to attack our movement. Nancy and Chuck, two beauties, have given control of the Democrat party entirely over to the radical left, including Minnesota’s own representative Ilhan Omar. I know you people. I know you people. I know the people of Minnesota, and I want to tell you, and I also, at the same time, it’s both a question and a statement, how’d the hell did that ever happen? How did it happen? How did it happen? Congresswoman Omar is an America-hating socialist.

Donald Trump: (01:21:05)
Thank you very much. Thank you. Great people. Thank you. What a group. I think your very weak mayor made a mistake when he took them on. As you know, for many years, leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers. I promised you that as president, I would give local communities a greater say in refugee policy, and put in place enhanced vetting and responsible immigration controls.

Donald Trump: (01:22:13)
And I’ve done that. Since coming into office, I have reduced refugee resettlement by 85%, and as you know, maybe especially in Minnesota, I kept another promise. I issued an executive action, making clear that no refugees will be resettled in any city or any state without the express written consent of that city or that state. So speak to your mayor. You should be able to decide what is best for your own cities and for your own neighborhoods, and that’s what you have the right to do right now.

Donald Trump: (01:23:12)
If Democrats were ever to seize power, they would open the floodgates to unvetted, uncontrolled migration at levels you have never seen before. Do you think you have it bad now? You would never have seen anything like what they want to do. But in the Trump administration, we will always protect American families first, and that has not been done in Minnesota.

What is the problem? The president is speaking about foreign-born generally non-White people who are already in the country, many of them by now American citizens, including Ilhan Omar. The speech was given in her district, in the same area where some fifty thousand Somali refugees are settled. They came there, the refugees have said, because they were well received and felt safe. And now? The President of the United States of America tracks them down in their neighborhood. He vilified one of them by name, twisting things she has said in the most negative manner. He accused her for minimizing the September 11 tragedy, charged to her “a history of launching virulent anti-Semitic screeds” before delving into her marital history. At the mention of “Somalis,” the president’s mostly white crowd broke out in boos — “in effect jeering their neighbors,” as one person present put it.

In better days, Ilhan Omar would be proof that America is a great country, the greatest there is. How she, a Somali-born refugee found a home in the United States, how she got an education, how she overcame obstacles to make herself into a person who exemplifies the best there is of diversity and opportunity in the U.S. In the president’s world, however, Omar is repeatedly thrashed. She has become one of the members of Congress targeted by the Trump-inspired chant, “Send her back!”

Let us leave Omar out, if need be, for the conversation to proceed without allowing allegations about her to distract us. Let us not leave out the other more than fifty thousand refugees of Somali descent now living in Minnesota. The president had a special line for the mayor of Minneapolis, saying that he showed weakness when he took the refugees in. (33:57) “Minneapolis, Minneapolis, you’ve got a rotten man. You’ve got to change your mayor. You’ve got a bad mayor. You’ve got a bad mayor.” And now the Somali refugees, who fled one of the most broken countries in the world. They are there, in Minnesota, on October 10 the target of a viscerally hostile speech by the president of their new homeland.

Others are there, too. I am now referring to the people in the stands. Let the president do the vilification of the Somalis by himself. It is not necessary to become his accomplice in disparaging a vulnerable group. It is not necessary to attend the rally. It is not necessary to cheer.

This is where the question of survival comes in. Will the Seventh-day Adventist Church in America survive this storm? Eighty percent of evangelical Christians support this man and his policies. Fifty percent of Catholic white males are said to support him. How high is the percentage among Seventh-day Adventists? Were Adventists in the audience in Minneapolis? Did Adventists cheer the part of the speech that singled out the refugees? One journal, secular, of course, had a fitting headline afterwards. “Trump’s Minneapolis Rally Was a Demonstration of the Moral Suicide Pact He’s Made with His Supporters.”[3] The author, Jack Holmes, the political editor of Esquire magazine, does not want to be in on the moral suicide pact. 

This is a virulently racist tirade aimed at ginning up the worst instincts of the people in the crowd. It is not a coincidence Trump chose to come here, or to target a refugee community that is black and Muslim. This is how he thinks he can win reelection: by continuing to pull his base of support towards more vitriolic expressions of this vision of America as a country for and by white people; by scaring other constituencies away from speaking out; by using the Republican Party’s machinations to stop inconvenient voters from voting; by smearing his opponents as Just As Bad As Him, They Just Pretend to Be Prim and Proper; by soliciting foreign meddling that will benefit him in exchange for favors when he is reelected.

“I know you people. I know you people,” the president said as he began the part about the refugees. What does he know about them? Does he seek to unleash some hidden, inner hostility that resonates with his sentiment, knowing that it is there? What does he know? One of Adolf Hitler’s critics in the German Reichstag said before voices like his fell silent — before the Reichstag went into a twelve-year de facto hibernation — that Hitler had an uncanny ability to spot and stir to life a person’s “inner swine.” Surely, the talk about the Somali refugees in Minnesota, in public, before a cheering audience, some of whom are next-door neighbors to the Somalis, could be an example of inner swines cut loose from moral restraint.

Moral Suicide

In what sense does this qualify as moral suicide, a term that is well chosen? I will offer three reasons.

First is the biblical perspective. In the Old Testament, the refugee has special status as an object of God’s protection. Who will not be inspired and humbled by a walk-through of some of these texts? Their thrust is not only an obligation to treat refugees and immigrants with respect. It goes deeper than that. Believers are called to see themselves in the other person — to remember that we are in the same boat: what they are, we used to be. This should be easy to do for people in Minnesota. The ancestors of many in that state were not refugees but economic migrants from Scandinavia and Germany, but they came as aliens.

You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt (Exod. 22:21).

You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt (Exod. 23:9).

When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien (Lev. 19:33).

Does it count as oppression when the president of your adopted country seeks you out in your back yard, there to call your mayor “a rotten person” for letting you in, there to make you be his foil for a vision of America that uses disdain for you to inspire them to be his supporters? Does it count as oppression when the speaker clearly intends to outsource to his audience to change the terms of the alien’s existence?

The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God (Lev. 19:34).

You and the alien who resides with you shall have the same law and the same ordinance (Num. 15:16).

What is most impressive in these texts is the insistent, unprecedented, vociferous call to remember. Historical amnesia is a dangerous and ever-present risk. To counter the risk, Deuteronomy inscribes the memory of past oppression as a constituent of the believer’s present identity.

Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; for this reason I lay this command upon you today (Deut. 15:15). 

Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and diligently observe these statutes (Deut. 16:12).

You shall not abhor any of the Edomites, for they are your kin. You shall not abhor any of the Egyptians, because you were an alien residing in their land (Deut. 23:7).

Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this (Deut. 24:18).

There they are, the Edomites and the Egyptians. They are there, in the text, but they are here, too, in the neighborhood. Just look on the map to see how little has changed even though the world has expanded. Lucky ones, are they not, to have a verbal footprint left for them in the Bible, the people who are now coming from where the Edomites used to live (Syria, Iraq, Palestine) or from Egypt (close enough to Somalia to count).

It was part of the liturgy of these believers to rehearse their story over and over in assembly, to say the following out loud:

You shall make this response before the LORD your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous” (Deut. 26:5).

The wandering Aramean, of course, is Abraham. In the New Testament, he is the role model for believers in Jesus (Rom. 4:16). In one New Testament iteration, Abraham never ceases to be an itinerant. For such a person and for such an itinerant faith-identity, understanding and empathy for those on the outside will only be stronger.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11:8-10).

For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come (Heb. 13:14).

For anyone working with refugees and seeing their plight first-hand, it helps to ponder such a faith identity. To be a migrant or a resident alien, as a believer, is not a stage left behind, a distant chapter to remember. It is a stage — even a state — of present existence.

Second, we have a historical reason not to be part of the moral collapse playing out with respect to refugees and resident aliens. Now as then, at issue is not refugee status only. It is also minority status, ethnic, racial, or religious. Two immense historical realities obligate and inform us, the history of slavery and the Holocaust. Fifteen million Africans were brought to the New World against their will (not all of them to the US); six million Jews were gassed and cremated in the Nazi era. Might it be possible to see in the face of the Somalis seeking entrance the face of Africans who were forced to come against their will? Now they come willingly, in a state of need. Is this a time to shut the doors — or ever to shut them? Is there not still an unpaid debt from us to them, “us” the enslavers of European descent and “them” the enslaved?

And the Holocaust? It was “Not Long Ago, Not Far Away,” as an exhibit now on display in New York puts it. What happened had a toxic rhetorical antecedent. I am not suggesting that something on that scale is in the making today. But I am saying that there is a family resemblance at the level of rhetoric. I do not envision that today’s rhetoric will become tomorrow’s genocide. But yesterday’s genocide makes today’s rhetoric indecent, dangerous, and unconscionable even if it is only rhetoric. For a Somali minority in the US to be disparaged by the nation’s president with a crowd of mostly white Americans cheering him on is immoral because of what happened “Not Far Away, Not Long Ago.” We cannot go near it again; we cannot cheer except to put our souls in the gravest peril. Think of it this way, too: he speaks that way not to show us what he is like but because he thinks he knows what we are like.

I find sobering support for the unfinished work history teaches us to do in the recent book by the philosopher I admire the most. Susan Neiman says that “I began life as a white girl in the segregated South, and I am likely to end it as a Jewish woman in Berlin.”[4] Her remarkable geographic, intellectual, and professional journey is as compelling as her message: the need for Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung, as they say it in German: the need for “working-off-the-past.” The spectacle in Minneapolis and other spectacles like it result, in Neiman’s story, “from America’s failure to confront its own history.”[5]

Third, we have a special Seventh-day Adventist reason not to condone, participate in, or in any way engage in the conduct on display in Minneapolis on October 10, 2019. This has to do with our history and self-understanding. Early Adventists saw themselves called to proclaim a message of everlasting good news or, as I propose to translate it, “an eternally valid message” (Rev. 14:6). The target audience is broadly specified in Revelation. The message is to be proclaimed “to those who live on the earth — to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev. 14:6). There are no favorites here, no national or ethnic or tribal preference. The first angel in Revelation takes the stage with an equal opportunity proposition with respect to “those who live on the earth.”

When Adventist pioneers contemplated the scope of this commission, they took comfort in how they saw Providence at work in the American experience. Human beings from “every nation and tribe and language and people” had come to the United States! The mission could be accomplished here, in the New World, because God had raised up a nation of migrants and immigrants, of refugees and fortune seekers, in the New World. It would not be necessary to go to them. God had brought them to us; God brought them here.

This vision has since undergone a much-needed correction. They did not all come here; it was necessary to go there to be faithful to the commission. But the early perception should not be abandoned without a trace. Seventh-day Adventists have a special reason to be welcoming to people from other nations and tribes. Not so long ago it was a settled Adventist conviction that God had brought them here as an element in God’s eschatological vision for the nations. God — not simply destitution or need or hope or opportunity.

It is a global village now. We are all in on this. “Immigrants and refugees are welcome in Minneapolis,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey after the president’s visit. I am glad he did. According to the transcript, verbatim, people chanted, “Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years” even though the visitors had told them that they have “a rotten mayor.”

Moses wasn’t there, but he gave a different speech to his migrant congregation before they took possession of the Promised Land. Then, too, there was a big crowd. Then, too, there was a pact. It was not a moral suicide pact but a moral pact meant to bring security to the most vulnerable. “Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice,” said Moses.

And the people, back then, what did they say?

“All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’” (Deut. 27:19)

Notes & References:

Sigve K. Tonstad is Research Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Loma Linda University.

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Trump wanted to release his taxes in 2013 to show how smart he was for paying so little

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New York (CNN)President Donald Trump’s fight to keep his tax returns private is at odds with his own thinking in 2013 and 2014 that releasing them as part of a presidential bid would make him look like a smart businessman who had spent years lowering his taxable income, according to two people with firsthand knowledge of conversations at the time.

Sam Nunberg, Trump’s political adviser from 2011 to August 2015, tells CNN that during a meeting he had with Trump in the summer of 2013 at Trump Tower, the future president said he was comfortable releasing his tax returns and, even, that he thought it would be a good idea. Nunberg assumed this was because of how little Trump must pay in taxes.
“He thought he could defend the return,” says Nunberg, who did not himself view Trump’s returns. “I inferred from the conversation that he believed that it was a low number and he’d look savvy.”
    A second person, a former senior adviser to Trump, who also joined them for lunch that day, recalls Trump being enthusiastic about releasing his returns for this reason.
    Nunberg remembers that at the time Trump had recently returned from delivering a political speech in Iowa and that his motivation to look like a scrappy businessman was fueled by the failed presidential bid of Mitt Romney. “He felt that Romney had avoided looking successful,” says Nunberg. “Romney had posed beside a shopping cart in his jeans. Trump wanted to appear to be the opposite of that. He was proud of his business track record.”
    In May 2014, Trump told an Irish television station that he would “absolutely” release his tax returns if he entered the race. “If I decide to run for office, I’ll produce my tax returns, absolutely,” he said. “And I would love to do that.”
    It wasn’t until November 2014 that Trump abandoned the idea, according to Nunberg. At that point it was still eight months before Trump announced for president. At another one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, Nunberg says he convinced Trump to change tack, and told him that federal election rules obliged him to release only a broad financial statement, rather than his full tax returns. Trump liked the idea because he could show how rich he was, says Nunberg.
    “He wanted to look rich rather than smart,” Nunberg says.
    Neither the White House, Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow, nor the Trump Organization responded to a request for comment.

    A losing fight

    That change of heart nearly five years ago has had massive repercussions. During the 2016 campaign, Trump became the first major party nominee not to release his taxes in more than 30 years.
    As President, he has faced numerous legal challenges seeking the release of his tax returns, including from House Democrats and the New York district attorney.
    In fighting to keep them private, Trump has deployed an assortment of arguments both legal and prosaic, ranging from claims he’s under audit by the IRS to simply stating his taxes are “none of your business.” Trump has also acknowledged that he has fought to “very hard to pay as little tax as possible.”
    But after a string of court losses, Trump’s unprecedented struggle to block the release of his tax returns is looking legally tenuous and appears more likely to head to the Supreme Court.
    On Friday, Trump lost his appeal to stop House Democrats from subpoenaing his taxes from his longtime accountant Mazars USA. In a 2-1 ruling, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit upheld a lower court ruling saying the firm must turn over eight years of accounting records.
    Trump can appeal to the Supreme Court to stop Mazars, but courts, including the Supreme Court, previously have refused to curtail Congress’ subpoena power.

    A matter of vanity

    Speculation has swirled around why Trump hasn’t released his taxes, including that they could reveal long-denied ties to foreign interests or that he has donated embarrassingly little to charitable organizations. Trump’s critics have also suggested that a full public airing of his tax records might prove that he has exaggerated his wealth and isn’t as rich as he claims to be.
    It’s this last reason that is closest to the truth, according to Nunberg, who told CNN it’s his impression that Trump’s real motivation for not releasing his taxes was a simple matter of vanity.
    A tax return of a New York real estate developer typically makes them look much less wealthy than they really are, on account of complex rules that include the ability for owners of profit-making buildings to write them off as losses.
    Nunberg says the reason he suggested Trump not release his tax returns came down to three factors. First, by then Trump had told him that he was in fact under audit by the IRS. Secondly, he and Roger Stone, a mentor to Nunberg and himself a former Trump adviser, had started to realize that some of Trump’s business history — the bankruptcy of the Trump Organization in the 1990s in particular — would come under attack and the returns might highlight that.
    Third, Nunberg assumed, given his knowledge of the common tax practice of New York real estate magnates, there would likely be a vast discrepancy between Trump’s net worth and what his tax returns showed — and that this might be difficult to explain to voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Nunberg knew that tax laws for commercial real estate developers are notoriously riddled with loopholes peculiar to that industry.
    “I wanted him to run. I wanted him to feel as comfortable as he could. I didn’t want any complications or hiccups. I tried so that this wouldn’t hurt the Trump brand in any way,” Nunberg said.

    Changing his story

    By early 2015, Trump was starting to slightly change the way he answered questions about his taxes. In February of that year, he told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he would “certainly show tax returns if it was necessary.”
    By October, he was hedging even more, telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he was considering releasing his tax returns. “I’m thinking about maybe when we find out the true story on Hillary’s emails,” he said of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
    The financial statement Trump filed with the Federal Election Commission in July 2015 was 92 pages long and claimed $1.4 billion in assets and $265 million in liabilities.
    Nunberg was fired from the campaign in August 2015, shortly after the financial statement was released.
    During the presidential campaign Trump used the excuse of being under audit as the chief reason he could not release his taxes. He’s repeated that defense as President. It’s true that every president is audited every year, but there is no law that forbids them from releasing their returns while under audit.
    “The President has fought releasing his tax returns since the early days of his campaign,” said the former senior Trump adviser who says they still regularly speak with the President. “He has no interest in showing them or he would have released them. As usual I expect the Democrats will be disappointed if they are released, as they might just show Trump is a savvy, successful wealthy businessman.”
    But in May The New York Times reported that 10 years of Trump’s tax records the paper had viewed, starting in 1985, appeared to show the exact opposite, and that Trump had lost $1.17 billion during that period.
    The paper reported that, according to the tax records, Trump would have “lost” more money than any individual taxpayer in the entire country. Trump’s attorney, Charles Harder, told the Times that statements about the records were “inaccurate” but pointed to no specific inaccuracies. He later added that IRS transcripts “are notoriously inaccurate.”
      In a response to the Times, a senior White House official said, “The president got massive depreciation and tax shelter because of large-scale construction and subsidized developments. That is why the president has always scoffed at the tax system and said you need to change the tax laws. You can make a large income and not have to pay large amount of taxes.”
      In other words, Nunberg’s assumptions about why Trump’s tax returns would be damaging to the Trump brand were spot on.

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      7 takeaways from the CNN/New York Times Democratic presidential debate

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      7 highlights from the Democratic debate - CNNPolitics

      Westerville, Ohio (CNN)Polls show that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is now a front-runner for the 2020 Democratic nomination. And on Tuesday night in Ohio, her 11 rivals acted like it.

      And moderate candidates — some, like South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, fighting to climb into the top tier; others, like Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, just desperate to make the next debate stage — dropped the euphemisms and pressed their progressive foes in direct and sometimes personal terms.
      Here are seven takeaways from Tuesday night’s debate:

        Warren under attack for the first time

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          Warren attacked from all sides on the debate stage

        Warren’s months-long march to the front of the polls finally put her in the position of being the most heavily targeted and scrutinized candidate on stage.
        Buttigieg and Klobuchar led the charge, assailing Warren over her answers on health care.
        Warren supports Sanders’ proposal for “Medicare for All” — replacing private insurance with everyone receiving coverage through a government-run plan. And while Sanders has acknowledged that Americans’ taxes would need to increase to pay for the plan, Warren refused to say whether the middle class’s taxes would go up — instead only saying that, because deductibles, premiums and co-pays would be eliminated, overall costs would decrease.
        Buttigieg accused her of dodging a yes-or-no question. “Your signature is to have a plan for everything, except this. No plan has been laid out to explain how a multi-trillion dollar hole in this plan that Sen. Warren is putting forward is supposed to get filled in,” he said.
        Klobuchar accused Warren of being dishonest. “We owe it to the American people to tell them where we will send the invoice,” she said.
        Warren later addressed the question of taxes, when former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke asked her — during a discussion about Warren’s proposed wealth tax and child care coverage — whether she would raise middle-class taxes. “No,” she said — but the moment was mostly lost amid cross-talk.

        Bernie Sanders won the night

        And it had nothing to do with what happened on stage.
        In the debate’s final moments, the Washington Post broke the news that New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez plans to endorse Sanders. CNN then reported that two other members of the “Squad,” Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, will do the same.
        The pick-ups are huge. Some Democratic strategists think that outside of the Obamas, Ocasio-Cortez represents the most influential potential endorsement of the 2020 primary race.
        It also comes at a key moment for Sanders. Warren’s months-long ascent, fueled in part by progressives as she advocated some similar policies to Sanders, was on display Tuesday night, when the rest of the field treated her as the front-runner. If Ocasio-Cortez had supported her, it could have been the beginning of the end of Sanders’ chances.
        Instead, he gets a major injection of energy — and sends the signal that he’s far from done yet.

        Echoes of 2016 as the front-runners fight

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          Warren takes a jab at Biden while complimenting Obama

        For most of the night, as Warren wore the biggest target, Biden slipped into the background. That changed near the end of the debate, when the field’s top tier — Biden, Warren and Sanders — finally unloaded on each other.
        The question that loomed over their: Biden has a lengthy record — but is it one that’s in line with where the Democratic electorate is now?
        It began when Biden touted his record in former President Barack Obama’s administration, pressuring Republicans to vote for measures such as the federal stimulus package.
        “We all have good ideas. The question is who is going to be able to get it done? How can you get it done?” Biden said. “And I’m not suggesting they can’t, but I’m suggesting that’s what we should look at.”
        That’s when Sanders pounced, attacking Biden — in a moment that felt similar to the Vermont senator’s 2016 debates with Hillary Clinton — over legislation Biden had supported and Sanders opposed over the last three decades.
        “Joe, you talked about working with Republicans and getting things done. But you know what, you also got done, and I say this as a good friend,” Sanders said. “You got the disastrous war in Iraq done. You got a bankruptcy bill, which is hurting middle class families all over this country. You got trade agreements like NAFTA and (trade relations) with China done, which have cost us 4 million jobs.”
        Then Warren jumped in.
        Responding to Biden’s assertion that he is best able to get things done, she pointed to her role in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the Obama administration.
        Seemingly miffed to be denied a share of the credit, Biden interjected, nearly shouting, “I went on the floor and got you votes. I got votes for that bill. I convinced people to vote for it, so let’s get those things straight, too.”
        Warren responded by thanking Obama — but notably omitting Biden.
        “I am deeply grateful to President Obama, who fought so hard to make sure that agency was passed into law,” she said.

        Trouble for Biden?

        For the former vice president, fading into the background of a debate is a troubling sign because of what it suggests: that his foes view him as less of a threat than they once did.
        But just as the good news had come late for Sanders, the real bad news for Biden’s campaign came even later Wednesday night.
        In a scheduling oddity, reports covering the third quarter of 2019 were due in to the Federal Election Commission by midnight — an hour after the debate ended.
        Biden’s report revealed that his campaign ended September with just $9 million on hand. That’s far short of Sanders’ $33.7 million, Warren’s $25.7 million and Buttigieg’s $23.4 million — and is even below California Sen. Kamala Harris’ $10.5 million.

        A more aggressive Buttigieg

        7 highlights from the Democratic debate - CNNPolitics

          Buttigieg to O’Rourke: I don’t need lessons from you

        The South Bend, Indiana, mayor had made it obvious he planned to come out swinging. In the days before the debate, he’d launched an ad that was critical of Warren and Sanders over Medicare for All, criticized Warren’s grassroots fundraising strategy for the general election as being reliant on “pocket change,” and attacked O’Rourke over his support for mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles in an interview on Snapchat’s “Good Luck America.”
        The exchanges with Warren over health care might be the night’s most memorable.
        But he also got a chance to tout an element of his own biography — his military service — in clashing with Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the only other military veteran in the field, over her call to end “endless wars.”
        “The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this President of American allies and American values,” he said.
        Buttigieg also sharply criticized O’Rourke — at one point, in personal terms — over the former Texas congressman’s proposed mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles.
        7 highlights from the Democratic debate - CNNPolitics
        “You just made it clear that you don’t know how this is going to take weapons off the street,” he said. “If you can develop the plan further, we can have a debate. But we can’t wait.”
        O’Rourke responded that mass shootings are a “crisis” and that Democrats should make the case for farther-reaching gun control measures. “Let’s decide what we are going to believe in, what we are going to achieve, and let’s bring this country together in order to do that,” he said.
        Buttigieg shot back: “The problem isn’t the polls, the problem is the policy. And I don’t need lessons from you on courage, political or personal.”
        “I don’t care what that meant to me or my candidacy,” O’Rourke replied. But to survivors of gun violence, and March For Our Lives, the gun control advocacy group founded by students after the Parkland, Florida, shooting last year, “that was a slap in the face to every single one of those groups,” he said. Moments later, the organization tweeted praise for O’Rourke’s position.

        Klobuchar, unleashed

        With the Democratic National Committee raising its fundraising and polling thresholds for the November debate, Klobuchar walked on stage facing the real possibility that this debate could be her last.
        Her response: Go hard at the Democratic primary’s most ascendant candidate, Warren.
        “The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done,” she said of Warren at one point, as she criticized her support for Medicare for All.
        Klobuchar’s performance on Tuesday stands in stark contrast to her first three debate performances, which were more muted.
        And there is a reason for that: After qualifying for the first four debates, Klobuchar is on the verge of not qualifying for the fifth Democratic debate in November. While Klobuchar has the required number of donors, she has yet to reach the polling threshold, something that her team believes she can boost with a well-reviewed debate.
        Then there’s the portion of her approach that’s in the eye of the beholder: One of her trademarks as a candidate — goofy humor — continued on Tuesday night.
        “Vladimir Putin is someone who has shot down planes over Ukraine, who has poisoned his opponent and we have not talked about what we need to do to protect ourselves from Russia invading our election,” Klobuchar said. “This wasn’t meddling. That’s what I do when I call my daughter on a Saturday night and ask her what she’s doing.”

        Yang’s ‘Freedom Dividend’ gets an airing

        Andrew Yang launched his presidential campaign in 2017 with a plan to give every American $1,000 a month to combat job losses and automation — and very little attention from media and voters.
        Almost two years later, Yang’s plan for a universal basic income, which he’s calling a “freedom dividend,” remains his signature policy proposal. But his impact on the race has increased dramatically — a reality that was on display on Tuesday night when the candidates on stage debated a universal basic income and job losses to automation in depth on national television.
        “We have a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month, it recognizes the work in our families and communities. It helps all Americans transition,” Yang said. “When we put the money into our hands, we can build a trickle up economy from our people, our families and our communities up. It will enable us to do the work that we want to do. This is the sort of vision in response to the fourth industrial revolution that we have to embrace.”
        Yang has talked about his universal basic income at previous debates. What made Tuesday different was that other candidates — some of whom largely ignored Yang in previous debates — began to seriously debate automation and a basic income.
        “I believe that we need to address a community being impacted by automation,” said former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.
        “I agree with my friend Andrew Yang. Universal basic income is a good idea to help provide that security so people can make choices that they want to see,” Gabbard said.
          But what clearly cemented Yang’s rise is that the debate over universal basic income got him into a direct argument with Warren, who said the issue is broader.
          After the debate, Yang told CNN that Warren — who, with Biden, is at the top of the Democratic field — had asked him to send her details on his proposal. “She said she wanted to see the data,” he said.

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          Hunter Biden sits down for TV interview amid Trump’s attacks on his business dealings

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          Hunter Biden sits down for ABC interview amid Trump's attacks on his business dealings - CNNPolitics

          Washington (CNN)Former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, will speak about President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on his foreign business dealings in a television interview set to air on Tuesday, the same day of the CNN/New York Times Democratic presidential debate.

          “Hunter always understood that his father would be guided, entirely and unequivocally, by established U.S. policy, regardless of its effects on Hunter’s professional interests,” according to a statement released by his attorney. “He never anticipated the barrage of false charges against both him and his father by the President of the United States.”
          Biden spoke with ABC News over the weekend. The Biden campaign was informed of Hunter Biden’s Sunday statement and new TV interview, but the decisions about when and how to speak have been Hunter Biden’s, not the campaign’s, CNN’s Jake Tapper reported.
            Hunter Biden has been under fire from Trump for an unproven accusation that his father as vice president improperly tried to help him by pressuring the Ukrainian government to fire the country’s prosecutor general. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company at the time.
              The Obama administration, American allies, the International Monetary Fund and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, among others, had all made clear that they were displeased with the performance of Viktor Shokin, who became prosecutor general in 2015. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
              Trump faces an impeachment probe in the Democratic-led House over his urging the Ukrainian President in a July phone call to investigate the Bidens. That phone call led to a whistleblower complaint that in part alleges Trump withheld US aid to Ukraine over the matter. The President has denied doing anything improper.

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              Billie Eilish just announced another world tour

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              Billie Eilish just announced another world tour - CNN

              (CNN)Start saving your coins — Billie Eilish is going on tour. Again.

              Her new tour, called “Where Do We Go?,” is set to begin in March 2020 and span North America, South America and Europe. So, more like a three-continent tour, but still.
              View this post on Instagram

              IM GOING ON TOUR AGAIN AND IM ACTUALLY EXCITED ABOUT IT THIS TIME. can’t wait to see you all ☺️

              A post shared by BILLIE EILISH (@billieeilish) on

              The new tour, like her current one, will be promoting her first studio album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” The album, which dropped in March, debuted at No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 chart, and has since gone double platinum.
                If you need any more proof of the teenager’s rising star, her song “Bad Guy” unseated Lil Nas X’s record-breaking hit “Old Town Road” from the No.1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 back in August.
                The tickets for the “Where Do We Go?” tour go on sale on October 4.

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                New PSA warns parents to avoid youth tackle football by comparing it to smoking

                Health

                (CNN)A young football player stares down his opponents. He hikes the ball. Then the coach passes him a cigarette, which his mother happily lights.

                The new PSA, which premiered Thursday morning on YouTube, kicks off the “Tackle Can Wait” campaign. The goal is for parents to keep kids out of tackle football until they’re 14 to lessen their risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
                The campaign was led by the daughters of two football players diagnosed with CTE after their deaths: Rebecca Carpenter, whose NFL player father, Lew Carpenter, died in 2010, and Angela Harrison, whose father, Joe Campigotto, played college football and died in 2016.
                  The video’s release lines up with a new study in the Annals of Neurology, which found that the severity of CTE isn’t related to the number of concussions, but the number of years spent playing football. Concussion Legacy Foundation CEO Chris Nowinski was a study co-author.
                  After studying the brains of more than 260 professional and amateur deceased football players, Boston University researchers concluded that the risk of CTE doubles for every 2.6 years of play.
                  That means high school football players who started playing tackle football at 5 years old have 10 times the risk of developing CTE than players who started the game at 14, the foundation said.

                  So why 14 years old?

                  If age restrictions on cigarettes can prevent lung cancer in young people, Nowinski thinks similar rules might cut kids’ risk of CTE by as much as half.
                  Research shows that kids who get brain injuries before age 12 recover more slowly. Plus, children’s bodies aren’t built to withstand the head-bobbling hits of tackle football, he told CNN.
                  Of course, there’s also the option of skipping the sport.
                  “They can choose not to play tackle football at all,” he said. “But if you do, the best way to manage risk and reward is to wait until 14.”
                  Dr. Julian Bailes, the director of neurosurgery and co-director of NorthShore University HealthSystem Neurological Institute and medical director for Pop Warner, said the risk for contact in football is heightened after age 14.
                  In high school, the hits are harder and more frequent, and teens face off against bigger players who can cause more damage when they tackle, he said.
                  “The risk for brain degeneration later in life relates more to those who have played many years and at the higher levels, college to professional,” he said.
                  As for the age limit, Bailes said there’s “no scientific agreement that 14 is a magic number.”
                  Brains continue to develop well into adolescence and early adulthood, he said. Neuroscientists haven’t even set a benchmark age when brains have fully developed.
                  Nowinski said the smoking comparison is “intentionally shocking,” meant to make parents consider their children’s health in a different way.
                  Bailes called the comparison between smoking and tackle football “misleading and inaccurate.”
                  “There are nearly half a million people in the US who die from illnesses related to tobacco use, and there are no deaths in youth football,” Bailes said.
                  Youth and amateur organizations have made changes to reduce contact in the sport, he said, by taking out head contact during practice and eliminating kickoff for younger players to make football “safer than it’s ever been.”

                  CTE symptoms take years to present

                  The neurodegenerative disease is thought to be caused by repetitive brain trauma, which shakes the brain inside the skull. That leads to a buildup of tau, an abnormal protein that can take over parts of the brain.
                  It can take years or decades after initial brain trauma for the effects of CTE to manifest, according to Boston University’s CTE Center. They include memory loss, confusion, aggression, impaired judgment and eventually dementia.
                  There’s no known cure, andit can only be diagnosed through an autopsy.
                    A 2017 study from the CTE Center found the disease in 99% of studied brains of deceased NFL players. Only one of 111 former footballers hadn’t shown signs of CTE. The studied brains were required to have football as their primary exposure to head trauma, and the study noted potential bias because relatives of players might have submitted their brains due to symptoms they noticed while they were living.
                    But football players aren’t the only ones at risk. Boxers, baseball and soccer players and military veterans have been diagnosed with it, too.

                    Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

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                    Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger among musicians paying tribute to Cream drummer Ginger Baker

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                    (CNN)Rock legends Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger were just a few of the artists to pay tribute on social media to Cream drummer Ginger Baker, who died Sunday.

                    Baker was 80 when he died in the England.
                    Other tributes to Baker came from Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and Flea, the bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
                      “Sad news hearing that Ginger Baker has died, I remember playing with him very early on in Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated. He was a fiery but extremely talented and innovative drummer,” Jagger tweeted.
                      In his tribute, McCartney highlighted that the 1973 “Band on the Run” album his band Paul McCartney and Wings was recorded in Baker’s ARC Studio in Lagos, Nigeria. “Sad to hear that he died but the memories never will. X Paul,” McCartney tweeted.
                      McCartney’s fellow Beatle, drummer Ringo Starr, called Baker an “incredible musician” and a wild and inventive drummer in a tweet.
                      Flea tweeted that Baker was a “wildman” who played the drums with “so much freedom.”
                      Van Zandt said that Baker was “one of the greatest drummers of all time” and suggested that anyone unfamiliar with Cream’s music start by listening to the band’s second album, “Disraeli Gears.”
                      “Sad to hear of the passing of a great drummer, Ginger Baker,” guitarist Steve Hackett tweeted.
                      Mike Portnoy, a co-founder of Dream Theater, tweeted that it was a “very sad day in the drum world” as Baker took “rock drumming to a whole new level of expression.”
                      Formed in 1966, the band consisted of Baker, bassist Jack Bruce and guitarist Eric Clapton. Their hits include “Sunshine of Your Love,” “White Room,” “Crossroads,” and “Strange Brew.”
                      Cream are considered to be the first rock supergroup as the band was formed by already established musicians. Cream also are one of the first examples of a rock power trio featuring only guitar, bass and drums with all three members contributing vocals.
                      The band split in 1968 after two years and reunited for the first time in 1993 when they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Twelve years later, Cream played their first full reunion shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden and London’s Royal Albert Hall.
                        Bruce died in October 2014 at age 71. Clapton, now 74, released his most recent solo album “I Still Do” in 2016.
                        In 2006 the band received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement. In 1968, the band was nominated for a Grammy as Best New Artist.

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