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Gay Republican group endorses Trump in reversal from 2016

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The Log Cabin Republicans, the nation’s largest collective of LGBTQ conservatives, has officially endorsed the re-election of President Donald Trump — after its board of directors voted against endorsing him in 2016 — stating that Trump has advanced LGBTQ rights and helped the GOP move past “culture wars” during his tenure.

In a Washington Post Op-Ed published on Thursday evening, Robert Kabel, chairman of the group, and Jill Homan, its vice president, wrote that “for LGBTQ Republicans, watching the 2016 GOP convention before Donald Trump was like a dream fulfilled” and marked the beginning of Trump removing gay rights “as a wedge issue from the old Republican handbook” and “taking bold actions that benefit the LGBTQ community.”

The group, which announced new board leadership in March, cites Trump’s commitment to end HIV/AIDS in 10 years, which was met both was cautious optimism and flat-out skepticism, and his work with Richard Grenell, the openly gay U.S. ambassador to Germany, to encourage other nations to end the criminalization of homosexuality, as examples of his dedication to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.



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Trump calls supporter whose weight he mocked after mistaking him for a protester

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump called a supporter from Air Force One on Thursday night after mistakenly identifying him as a protester during a campaign rally and mocking him from the stage.

“That guy’s got a serious weight problem,” Trump said earlier that night in New Hampshire, as security officers confronted a group of protesters seated in the stands behind the president’s podium. “Go home. Start exercising. Get him out of here, please,” he added.

“Got a bigger problem than I do,” Trump added, making a self-deprecating joke about his own weight struggles.

The president appeared to have mistaken Frank Dawson, a retired law enforcement officer, for a protester, as Dawson got mixed in the shuffle while trying to break up the protestors’ disruption.

Frank Dawson during President Donald Trump’s rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Aug.15, 2019.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

In an interview after the rally with Fox News’ Griff Jenkins, Dawson said he did not hold the president’s mockery against him, characterizing it as a misunderstanding and laughing about the incident.

“He didn’t see me rip the signs away from those three people sitting near us,” Dawson said, wearing a navy blue “Trump 2020” T-shirt. “They were trying to cause a ruckus and they jumped up and started yelling.”

Trump called him from Air Force One Thursday night after the rally and left a voicemail, according to a senior administration official.

A man who answered the phone at Dawson’s home and identified himself as the Trump supporter said he had not seen the president’s call on his phone until he got home because of poor cell service at the venue.

He said the voicemail had not been an apology. “[Trump] did not apologize to me, nothing to apologize for,” he said. “He thanked me for his support. It was a ‘thank you,’ he did not apologize to me.”

“I owe [Trump] depth of gratitude because he called me,” he added. “I was honored to be called…. He’s a stand-up guy.”

Asked for his reaction to the president’s apparent commentary on his weight, Dawson brushed it off. “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me. … I really don’t care.”

Sally Bronston and Kristen Welker contributed.

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AG Barr’s Justice Department has whole lotta love for Led Zeppelin

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is coming to the defense of Led Zeppelin in a copyright dispute over the opening passage from one of rock’s best-known anthems, “Stairway to Heaven,” a melody and chord sequence that nearly every aspiring guitarist tries to master.

The Justice Department filed a friend of court brief late Thursday supporting Led Zeppelin against a claim that it stole the musical passage from an earlier recording, “Taurus” by Spirit. The legal battle of the bands has played out in federal courts in California for the past five years.

Trustees for the songwriter of “Taurus,” Randy Wolfe — who called himself Randy California and has since died — accuse Led Zeppelin of violating his copyright by appropriating the “distinct plucked guitar line and melody.” The case went to a jury, which ruled for Led Zeppelin in 2016.

At the trial, the jury heard from a member of Spirit, Led Zeppelin musicians Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and musical experts — but jurors never heard the actual recording of either song in court. The judge ruled that because “Taurus” was written in 1967, it fell under an older version of federal copyright law, which protected only the sheet music for the song, not the sound recording.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the case sent back for another trial, ruling that the jury should have heard the recordings to demonstrate that Led Zeppelin had access to “Taurus.” But in June, the full Ninth Circuit said it would hear the appeal again.

In its brief filed Thursday, the Justice Department said the trial judge got it right when he ruled that the only work subject to copyright protection was the sheet music, because the song was written before Congress changed the law in 1972, which gave protection to sound recordings.

The similar-sounding qualities of the two passages, consisting of an A-minor chord and descending bass line in a chromatic scale, deserve protection only if they are virtually identical, the government said. And under that test, the brief said, Led Zeppelin should prevail.

A victory for Spirit would re-write a chapter of music history, involving bragging rights to one of rock’s most famous guitar passages. “Stairway to Heaven” is number 31 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

The appeals court will hear the case in September.



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