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$50 Million Convention Threatens To Leave Indiana If Governor Signs ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill

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The longest-running gaming convention in the world, which brings in $50 million annually to Indiana is threatening to move in response to an anti-gay bill awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Since 1968, Gen Con has been bringing gaming lovers together. The convention, now worth an estimated $50 million in revenue, boasts attracting over 56,000 attendees last year to its current home in Indianapolis, Indiana, where it has resided since 2003. But CEO and owner Adrian Swartout is willing to move Gen Con if Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence signs SB 101, a controversial anti-gay “religious freedom” bill that is sitting on his desk.

“Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds,” Swartout wrote in a letter to the Governor. “We are happy to provide an environment that welcomes all, and the wide-ranging diversity of our attendees has become a key element to the success and growth of our convention.”

“Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years,” she warned.

SB 101 could allow anyone, including businesses, to discriminate against LGBT people, merely by claiming their deeply hed religious beliefs would be compromised if they did not.

Governor Pence has said he is “looking forward” to signing the bill, despite even admitting it is unnecessary.

But Gen Con is not the only big name opposed to the pro-discrimination legislation.

“In recent days, several personalities, including Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee, first openly gay pro athlete Jason Collins and “Star Trek” actor George Takei, have spoken out against the bill,” the Huffington Post reports.

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Visit Indy, Indianapolis’ tourism bureau, also has voiced opposition, even before the bill was passed.

“Our concern is that there could be a misperception with this bill that doesn’t paint a picture of being a warm, welcoming, hospitable place,” Chris Gahl, VP of marketing and communication for Visit Indy said. “It doesn’t align with the brand that is Indianapolis, and for that matter, Indiana. Because it could impact our ability to win convention business down the road — and keep convention business — we raised our hand and said we do have a concern.”

The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), also based in Indianapolis, said it is “examining the details of this bill,” and added “the NCAA national office is committed to an inclusive environment.”

Also on the list criticizing the legislation are Salesforce.com, Fortune 500 member Cummins, Eskenazi Health, and Eli Lilly and Co.

 

Image by Carlos A Smith via Flickr and a CC license
Hat tip: IndyStar

 

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Dem Wants Probe Into Allegations of Congress Members Drinking During Contempt Hearing

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House Oversight Republicans held a contempt of Congress hearing for Attorney General Merrick Garland while lawmakers allegedly were drinking alcohol and acting “pretty ugly” during Thursday night’s proceedings. Now, they are the ones accused of behavior “embarrassing to our institution” by Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who wants an investigation.

“Members of the panel ultimately advanced a contempt of Congress resolution against Attorney General Merrick Garland on a party-line vote, but the far more striking takeaway was the personal attacks and theatrics lobbed between lawmakers in both parties — as Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) struggled unsuccessfully to gain control for more than an hour,” Politico reported Friday, adding: “both Republicans and Democrats acknowledged some members had been drinking that evening.”

Who was drinking remains a secret.

“A House Republican described the hearing as ’embarrassing’ and ‘a four -alarm dumpster fire,'” Axios reported. “The session quickly devolved into chaos, with Democrats blasting the GOP for postponing the hearing so several members could visit former President Trump’s trial and Republicans heckling them in response.”

One Democrat during the hearing spoke up.

READ MORE: Why Alito’s ‘Stop the Steal’ Flag Story Just Fell Apart

Ranking Member Raskin “said it was ’embarrassing to our institution’ and that he ‘constantly’ instructs his members to maintain a ‘high level of dignity and respect and decorum.'”

“We have some members in the room who are drinking inside the hearing room … who are not on this committee,” alleged Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM).

The Hill adds that Congressman Raskin said, “I didn’t see the drinking,” and that “the gentlelady from New Mexico, Melanie Stansbury raised it, she said there are members drinking in the room, and that’s something that is worth investigating if there was in fact drinking taking place.”

One unnamed House Republican told Axios, “This place is so stupid.”

The evening’s events quickly took a bad turn when U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), violating decorum, interrupted Ranking Member Raskin barely 30 seconds into his remarks.

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Partisan Insurrectionist’: Calls Mount for Alito’s Ouster After ‘Stop the Steal’ Scandal

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OPINION

Why Alito’s ‘Stop the Steal’ Flag Story Just Fell Apart

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Justice Samuel Alito’s defense for why there was a “Stop the Steal” flag flying at his Alexandria, Virginia home three days before Joe Biden’s inauguration, ten days after the January 6, 2021 insurrection, just fell apart.

The entire justification for a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice with lifetime tenure who refuses to recuse himself from cases including ones related to the 2020 election, which ethics experts and U.S. Senators say he is obligated to do so, is a dispute with a neighbor, according to The New York Times‘ original reporting, and a Fox News reporter.

Critics say his defense doesn’t justify flying a U.S. flag upside down, a symbol of the Stop the Steal movement used by insurrectionists.

In brief, Fox News’ Shannon Bream reports Justice Alito “told me a neighbor on their street had a ‘F— Trump’ sign that was within 50 feet of where children await the school bus in Jan 21. Mrs. Alito brought this up with the neighbor.”

“According to Justice Alito, things escalated and the neighbor put up a sign personally addressing Mrs. Alito and blaming her for the Jan 6th attacks,” Bream wrote. She added Alito “says he and his wife were walking in the neighborhood and there were words between Mrs. Alito and a male at the home with the sign. Alito says the man engaged in vulgar language, ‘including the c-word’,” which prompted Mrs. Alito to hang the American flag upside down as the insurrections did on January 6.

RELATED: ‘Partisan Insurrectionist’: Calls Mount for Alito’s Ouster After ‘Stop the Steal’ Scandal

Court watchers and critics have called into question Alito’s judgment. Senate Democratic Judiciary Chairman Dick Durban has called for the Justice to recuse himself from all cases related to the 2020 presidential election, NBC News is reporting.

Critics are asking if Justice and/or Mrs. Alito’s response to an alleged dispute with neighbors was appropriate, but now Justice Alito’s telling of events is being called into question entirely.

Aaron Fritschner, Deputy Chief of Staff for U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), says no school children would have been waiting for school buses at the time the Alito’s flag was photographed upside down, because schools had moved to virtual learning during the COVID pandemic at that time in the area the Alitos reside.

Further calling into question Justice Alito’s claims, CNN’s Holmes Lybrand, a former fact-checker for The Weekly Standard, reports none of the Alitos’ neighbors remember the alleged dispute the justice recounted.

“I spoke with some of Justice Alito’s neighbors who said they remember the American flag being flown upside-down at his home but didn’t recall any neighborhood drama surrounding it,” Lyband reports. “Each neighbor I spoke with reiterated multiple times how kind and well-liked the Alitos are.”

In its report that broke the story, The New York Times noted, “The half-dozen neighbors who saw the flag, or knew of it, requested anonymity because they said they did not want to add to the contentiousness on the block and feared reprisal.”

READ MORE: Trump Appears to Violate Gag Order After Judge Threatened ‘Incarceration’

 

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OPINION

Alito Tells Fox News Story Behind His Home’s ‘Stop the Steal’ Flag but Critics Unconvinced

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Editor’s note: The spelling of Fox News host Shannon Bream’s last name has been corrected.

Justice Samuel Alito on Friday appeared to compound concerns over the bombshell New York Times report revealing a flag associated with the January 6 insurrection and the “Stop the Steal” movement was flying at his house just before Joe Biden was inaugurated and while the Supreme Court was reviewing a 2020 election case.

Alito, whose far-right positions including writing the majority opinion in the Supreme Court case overturning Roe v. Wade, have infuriated and frustrated the left, once again has found himself the subject of apprehension over his impartiality and grasp of ethical norms.

In a rare move, the embattled justice, who now faces strong calls for his ouster, spoke immediately to the news media to address those issues, and revealed the story behind the decision to fly the “Stop the Steal” flag at his home.

Confirming again it was his wife who put the flag up, Alito seemed neither remorseful nor cognizant of the great ethical and credibility violation that act represented.

RELATED: ‘Partisan Insurrectionist’: Calls Mount for Alito’s Ouster After ‘Stop the Steal’ Scandal

“I spoke directly with Justice #Alito about the flag story in the NYT,” Fox News host Shannon Bream reported late Friday morning via social media. “In addition to what’s in the story, he told me a neighbor on their street had a ‘F— Trump’ sign that was within 50 feet of where children await the school bus in Jan 21. Mrs. Alito brought this up with the neighbor.”

“According to Justice Alito, things escalated and the neighbor put up a sign personally addressing Mrs. Alito and blaming her for the Jan 6th attacks,” Bream continued.

“Justice Alito says he and his wife were walking in the neighborhood and there were words between Mrs. Alito and a male at the home with the sign. Alito says the man engaged in vulgar language, ‘including the c-word’,” she wrote. “Following that exchange, Mrs. Alito was distraught and hung the flag upside down ‘for a short time’. Justice Alito says some neighbors on his street are ‘very political’ and acknowledges it was a very heated time in January 2021.”

The Bulwark’s Bill Kristol chastised Bream, noting she got Alito’s side of the story without “trying to see how it compares with the accounts and recollections of others involved. If only the anchor had the resources of a ‘news’ channel to seek out the truth!”

Some critics responding to Bream’s report say Alito’s explanation doesn’t make their perception of his actions — or his wife’s – any more reasonable.

Former George W. Bush administration official Christian Vanderbrouk commented, “Sam Alito is unapologetic for desecrating an American symbol as part of a neighborhood feud.”

READ MORE: Why Are One in Five GOP Voters Still Voting for Nikki Haley Over Donald Trump?

“Interesting claims by Alito,” attorney Robert J. DeNault remarked. “Not sure it’s reasonable to think any person would react to a neighbor disagreeing — even crassly or rudely — over Trump by hanging an American flag upside down. Does not feel credible to contend Alito’s upside flag was divorced from MAGA symbolism.”

“Alito speaks to Fox about New York Times report, continues to attribute it to his wife, but does not explain why his wife’s reaction to a ‘fuck Trump’ sign and being insulted was to hang an American flag upside down in the days after Jan. 6.” observed CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere. “Suburban neighborhood disputes happen all the time – over lawn care, noisy children, Christmas lights… all sorts of things. Not many instances of an escalated response being a now very politicized symbol of military distress.”

“Friendly reminder the entire GOP and Fox News is screaming on practically a daily basis that Judge Merchan needs to recuse because of the work his adult daughter separately does,” national security attorney Brad Moss offered. “But yeah, this is no biggie.”

READ MORE: ‘Long History of Playing Games’: Biden Campaign Shuts Down Trump’s Tantrum

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