The IRS Has Granted Tax-Exempt Status To More Than 60 ‘Hate Groups’


Chronicle of Philanthropy, Dozens of ‘Hate Groups’ Have Charity Status, Chronicle Study Finds:

The federal government has granted tax-exempt status to more than 60 controversial nonprofits branded by critics as "hate groups," including anti-immigrant and anti-gay-rights organizations, white nationalists, and Holocaust deniers, according to a Chronicle of Philanthropy analysis.

The issue is a thorny one for the Internal Revenue Service, which must balance First Amendment rights against concerns that it is essentially granting government subsidies to groups holding views that millions of Americans may find abhorrent. Complicating matters, the IRS is already under fire from critics who say the agency has discriminated against conservative political organizations.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has compiled a list of nearly 900 so-called hate groups, most of them on the far right (although the roster also includes radical Islamists, black separatists, and other fringe groups) and many with deceptively innocuous-sounding names. The Chronicle analysis found that 55 of those organizations are registered as charities and eight are 501(c)(4) "social welfare" groups, which also enjoy tax exemptions.

Many groups on the list vehemently dispute the "hate" designation and say the Southern Poverty Law Center — known as SPLC and itself a tax-exempt organization — is a left-wing attack group. And most of the groups on the list are relatively small, with less than $500,000 in annual revenue.

Still, some experts say organizations are increasingly pushing the boundaries of how far they can go and still meet the standard for tax exemption. "We want to be careful about what we’re requiring the public to subsidize through tax exemption and at the same time we want not to inhibit speech too much," said Eric Gorovitz, a lawyer with Adler & Colvin, a firm specializing in nonprofit law. "That’s just hard to do."

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Chicago Bulls sign Portland teenager for one day through Make-A-Wish Foundation


The Chicago Bulls on Wednesday signed their youngest player: a 17-year-old from Southeast Portland.

Central Catholic High School junior Bennie Trey Flowers signed a one-day contract with the team through the Make-A-Wish Foundation for the evening’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. In 2015, Flowers underwent an eight-hour liver transplant. He recovered from the procedure three months early, earning him the nickname "Rockstar" from his doctors at Stanford University.

"I was kinda scared — but not like, ‘ahh’ — that type. That was my mom. She was more freaking out than me but that’s, you know. That’s my mom," Flowers said during a press conference with Bulls General Manager Gar Forman Wednesday.

In a statement, Flowers also said he idolized Michael Jordan as a kid. He now admires Dwyane Wade.

"They tell me I’m a fighter because of what I’ve overcome," he told The Chicago Tribune. "I look forward to bringing that fighting spirit to the Bulls."

Official: #Bulls sign Trey Flowers to a one-day contract from @ORWish!

2016’s Biggest Fails: Trump on Jimmy Fallon, Kanye West, The Walking Dead & More

this was a fun read but the paragraphs on #oscarssowhite and double standards, below, are compelling to say the least.

" #OscarsSoWhite, the Sequel

The fact that, for the second year in a row, not a single acting nominee of color made it into the Oscars lineup—and not one film centered on a black ensemble included in Best Picture—wasn’t just ridiculous because there were actually films and performers—Straight Outta Compton, Creed, Beasts of No Nation—that deserved nominations. But it shone a spotlight on the institutionalized racial biases in an organization with the power to influence a culture in profound ways, from the opportunities for people of color that its recognition could kickstart to the power of the stories it would greenlight and spotlight from creators of color.

Hypocrisy and Double Standards

Like any year, 2016 didn’t meet a celebrity scandal it didn’t like. It was particularly special, however, in its hypocrisy with how it dealt with them. The starkest example is the media crucifixion Nate Parker received when details of a past rape case resurfaced while he was on the press tour for Birth of a Nation. Not a single interview passed without the case being brought up, the end result of which was Birth of a Nation’s Oscar chances being erased and the film essentially buried. Horrifying accusations of sexual harassment previously brought against Casey Affleck also resurfaced during the actor’s Oscar campaigning for Manchester By the Sea. By contrast, Affleck has yet to be directly asked about them by the dozens of media outlets producing fawning and flowery puff pieces and profiles on the actor. Not to equate the severity of the incidents, re-litigate either case, legitimize, or dismiss any allegation, but the fact that one actor faced the media’s inquisition while the other did not suggests racial hypocrisy (and perhaps a fear of the Affleck-Damon mafia). Then there’s the case of Mel Gibson, whose Hacksaw Ridgehas received the kind of awards attention that suggests all is forgiven for his sexist, racist, homophobic behavior of the past. Take that in contrast with, say, the likes of Katherine Heigl, whose career was ruined because she was a little pricklier than we prefer our actresses (or any woman who says something lightly inflammatory in a public forum). We’re seeing a total double standard for the way we treat scandal by gender and by race."

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Shady prosperity Pastor Paula White to Pray With Trump at Inauguration


In 2007, TV preacher Paula White got investigated by the U.S. Senate for her shady fundraising practices.

Ten years later, she will pray at Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Yes, really.

White is a televangelist with a huge audience and a knack for stirring controversy. She’s been a Trump booster for years, and she helped organize a summit for him in the early days of his presidential campaign with other televangelists. Her presence at the inauguration is a very strong indicator that Trump’s White House will be a safe space for the Christian right’s most controversial characters.

Think of Paula White’s ministry as the church version of Trump University. She preaches the prosperity gospel, an approach to Christianity that is, shall we say, unorthodox. Prosperity-gospel preachers teach that God wants people to be rich, and that he makes them wealthy as a sign of his blessing and favor; the richer you are, the more God loves you.

Because, you know, Jesus wore wingtips and a Rolex.

These preachers also teach that the way to become wealthy is—you guessed it!—by giving them money. If you make a “seed offering”—and the bigger the better—then preachers like White say the Lord will repay your generosity with bounteous riches.

White’s website promises that such seed offerings will help givers get immediate word from God.

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Coldplay’s Chris Martin dedicates surprise performance at homeless shelter to George Michael


Coldplay’s Chris Martin has dedicated a surprise performance at a homeless shelter to the late George Michael.

Martin made an appearance at a Crisis shelter in west London on Tuesday (December 27), performing for those in need along with volunteers and staff.

During the set, he played Coldplay songs and a cover of Wham!’s ‘Last Christmas’, which he dedicated to Michael, according to The Telegraph.

Volunteers posted about the unannounced appearance on social media. One wrote: “That moment when Coldplay’s Chris Martin drops into the Crisis at Christmas shelter, with no fuss, no fanfare and no press, to help make tea and coffee and also play guitar so the guests can have a sing song.

“Thank you for coming down and getting stuck in.”

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Obama team expected to announce measures to punish Russia for election hacking


If you’re concerned about what, if anything, the outgoing presidential administration can do to fight back against Russia hacking the U.S. elections for Trump——stay close to your phones as this lame duck end of the year week rounds up.

Tomorrow, team Obama is rumored to be “announcing a series of measures to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election, including economic sanctions and diplomatic censure.”

Citing two anonymous government officials, Reuters reports:

Both officials declined to specify what actions President Barack Obama has approved, but said targeted economic sanctions, indictments, leaking information to embarrass Russian officials or oligarchs, and restrictions on Russian diplomats in the United States are among steps that have been discussed.

More from Ellen Nakashima in the Washington Post today:

The administration is finalizing the details, which also are expected to include covert action that will probably involve cyber-operations, the officials said. An announcement on the public elements of the response could come as early as this week.

The sanctions portion of the package culminates weeks of debate in the White House on how to revise a 2015 executive order that was meant to give the president authority to respond to cyberattacks from overseas but that did not cover efforts to influence the electoral system.

The Obama administration rolled the executive order out to great fanfare as a way to punish and deter foreign hackers who harm U.S. economic or national security.

The threat to use it last year helped wring a pledge out of China’s president that his country would cease hacking U.S. companies’ secrets to benefit Chinese firms.

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