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Read transcript of Sen. Jeff Flake’s speech comparing Pres. Donald Trump to Josef Stalin

CNN has posted the transcript of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)’s speech on the floor of the Senate in which he compared statements made by President Donald Trump to those of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

>> Read more trending news 

From CNN, as released prior to the speech

“Mr. President, near the beginning of the document that made us free, our Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident ...’ So, from our very beginnings, our freedom has been predicated on truth. The founders were visionary in this regard, understanding well that good faith and shared facts between the governed and the government would be the very basis of this ongoing idea of America.

“As the distinguished former member of this body, Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, famously said: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." During the past year, I am alarmed to say that Senator Moynihan's proposition has likely been tested more severely than at any time in our history.

“It is for that reason that I rise today, to talk about the truth, and its relationship to democracy. For without truth, and a principled fidelity to truth and to shared facts, Mr. President, our democracy will not last.

“2017 was a year which saw the truth -- objective, empirical, evidence-based truth -- more battered and abused than any other in the history of our country, at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government. It was a year which saw the White House enshrine "alternative facts" into the American lexicon, as justification for what used to be known simply as good old-fashioned falsehoods. It was the year in which an unrelenting daily assault on the constitutionally-protected free press was launched by that same White House, an assault that is as unprecedented as it is unwarranted. "The enemy of the people," was what the president of the United States called the free press in 2017.

“Mr. President, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies. It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase "enemy of the people," that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of "annihilating such individuals" who disagreed with the supreme leader.

“This alone should be a source of great shame for us in this body, especially for those of us in the president's party. For they are shameful, repulsive statements. And, of course, the president has it precisely backward -- despotism is the enemy of the people. The free press is the despot's enemy, which makes the free press the guardian of democracy. When a figure in power reflexively calls any press that doesn't suit him "fake news," it is that person who should be the figure of suspicion, not the press.

“I dare say that anyone who has the privilege and awesome responsibility to serve in this chamber knows that these reflexive slurs of "fake news" are dubious, at best. Those of us who travel overseas, especially to war zones and other troubled areas around the globe, encounter members of US based media who risk their lives, and sometimes lose their lives, reporting on the truth. To dismiss their work as fake news is an affront to their commitment and their sacrifice.

“According to the International Federation of Journalists, 80 journalists were killed in 2017, and a new report from the Committee to Protect Journalists documents that the number of journalists imprisoned around the world has reached 262, which is a new record. This total includes 21 reporters who are being held on "false news" charges.

“Mr. President, so powerful is the presidency that the damage done by the sustained attack on the truth will not be confined to the president's time in office. Here in America, we do not pay obeisance to the powerful -- in fact, we question the powerful most ardently -- to do so is our birthright and a requirement of our citizenship -- and so, we know well that no matter how powerful, no president will ever have dominion over objective reality.

“No politician will ever get to tell us what the truth is and is not. And anyone who presumes to try to attack or manipulate the truth to his own purposes should be made to realize the mistake and be held to account. That is our job here. And that is just as Madison, Hamilton, and Jay would have it.

“Of course, a major difference between politicians and the free press is that the press usually corrects itself when it gets something wrong. Politicians don't.

“No longer can we compound attacks on truth with our silent acquiescence. No longer can we turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to these assaults on our institutions. And Mr. President, an American president who cannot take criticism -- who must constantly deflect and distort and distract -- who must find someone else to blame -- is charting a very dangerous path. And a Congress that fails to act as a check on the president adds to the danger.

“Now, we are told via Twitter that today the president intends to announce his choice for the ‘most corrupt and dishonest’ media awards. It beggars belief that an American president would engage in such a spectacle. But here we are.

“And so, 2018 must be the year in which the truth takes a stand against power that would weaken it. In this effort, the choice is quite simple. And in this effort, the truth needs as many allies as possible. Together, my colleagues, we are powerful. Together, we have it within us to turn back these attacks, right these wrongs, repair this damage, restore reverence for our institutions, and prevent further moral vandalism.

“Together, united in the purpose to do our jobs under the Constitution, without regard to party or party loyalty, let us resolve to be allies of the truth -- and not partners in its destruction.

“It is not my purpose here to inventory all of the official untruths of the past year. But a brief survey is in order. Some untruths are trivial -- such as the bizarre contention regarding the crowd size at last year's inaugural.

“But many untruths are not at all trivial -- such as the seminal untruth of the president's political career - the oft-repeated conspiracy about the birthplace of President Obama. Also not trivial are the equally pernicious fantasies about rigged elections and massive voter fraud, which are as destructive as they are inaccurate -- to the effort to undermine confidence in the federal courts, federal law enforcement, the intelligence community and the free press, to perhaps the most vexing untruth of all -- the supposed ‘hoax’ at the heart of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

“To be very clear, to call the Russia matter a ‘hoax’ -- as the president has many times -- is a falsehood. We know that the attacks orchestrated by the Russian government during the election were real and constitute a grave threat to both American sovereignty and to our national security. It is in the interest of every American to get to the bottom of this matter, wherever the investigation leads.

“Ignoring or denying the truth about hostile Russian intentions toward the United States leaves us vulnerable to further attacks. We are told by our intelligence agencies that those attacks are ongoing, yet it has recently been reported that there has not been a single cabinet-level meeting regarding Russian interference and how to defend America against these attacks. Not one. What might seem like a casual and routine untruth -- so casual and routine that it has by now become the white noise of Washington - is in fact a serious lapse in the defense of our country.

“Mr. President, let us be clear. The impulses underlying the dissemination of such untruths are not benign. They have the effect of eroding trust in our vital institutions and conditioning the public to no longer trust them. The destructive effect of this kind of behavior on our democracy cannot be overstated.

“Mr. President, every word that a president utters projects American values around the world. The values of free expression and a reverence for the free press have been our global hallmark, for it is our ability to freely air the truth that keeps our government honest and keeps a people free. Between the mighty and the modest, truth is the great leveler. And so, respect for freedom of the press has always been one of our most important exports.

“But a recent report published in our free press should raise an alarm. Reading from the story:

"In February...Syrian President Bashar Assad brushed off an Amnesty International report that some 13,000 people had been killed at one of his military prisons by saying, ‘You can forge anything these days, we are living in a fake news era.’

“In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has complained of being ‘demonized’ by ‘fake news.’ Last month, the report continues, with our President, quote ‘laughing by his side’ Duterte called reporters ‘spies.’

“In July, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro complained to the Russian propaganda outlet, that the world media had ‘spread lots of false versions, lots of lies’ about his country, adding, ‘This is what we call 'fake news' today, isn't it?’

“There are more:

“A state official in Myanmar recently said, ‘There is no such thing as Rohingya. It is fake news,’ referring to the persecuted ethnic group.

“Leaders in Singapore, a country known for restricting free speech, have promised ‘fake news’ legislation in the new year.’

“And on and on. This feedback loop is disgraceful, Mr. President. Not only has the past year seen an American president borrow despotic language to refer to the free press, but it seems he has in turn inspired dictators and authoritarians with his own language. This is reprehensible.

“We are not in a ‘fake news’ era, as Bashar Assad says. We are, rather, in an era in which the authoritarian impulse is reasserting itself, to challenge free people and free societies, everywhere.

“In our own country, from the trivial to the truly dangerous, it is the range and regularity of the untruths we see that should be cause for profound alarm, and spur to action. Add to that the by-now predictable habit of calling true things false, and false things true, and we have a recipe for disaster. As George Orwell warned, ‘The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.’

“Any of us who have spent time in public life have endured news coverage we felt was jaded or unfair. But in our positions, to employ even idle threats to use laws or regulations to stifle criticism is corrosive to our democratic institutions. Simply put: it is the press's obligation to uncover the truth about power. It is the people's right to criticize their government. And it is our job to take it.

“What is the goal of laying siege to the truth? President John F. Kennedy, in a stirring speech on the 20th anniversary of the Voice of America, was eloquent in answer to that question:

‘We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.’

“Mr. President, the question of why the truth is now under such assault may well be for historians to determine. But for those who cherish American constitutional democracy, what matters is the effect on America and her people and her standing in an increasingly unstable world -- made all the more unstable by these very fabrications. What matters is the daily disassembling of our democratic institutions.

“We are a mature democracy -- it is well past time that we stop excusing or ignoring -- or worse, endorsing -- these attacks on the truth. For if we compromise the truth for the sake of our politics, we are lost.

“I sincerely thank my colleagues for their indulgence today. I will close by borrowing the words of an early adherent to my faith that I find has special resonance at this moment. His name was John Jacques, and as a young missionary in England he contemplated the question: ‘What is truth?’ His search was expressed in poetry and ultimately in a hymn that I grew up with, titled ‘Oh Say, What is Truth.’ It ends as follows:

‘Then say, what is truth? 'Tis the last and the first,

For the limits of time it steps o'er.

Tho the heavens depart and the earth's fountains burst.

Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,

Eternal... unchanged... evermore.’

Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.”

WATCH: Drone Video of Snow in Georgia

WATCH: Drone Video of Snow in Georgia

State of the Union: By the Numbers

State of the Union: By the Numbers

Sen. Jeff Flake takes to Senate floor to condemn Pres. Trump’s language, comparing it to Stalin’s

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) used the floor of the U.S. Senate to fire directly back at President Donald Trump, comparing the commander-in-chief’s words to those of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Flake stated that Trump has used statements also used by Stalin against his enemies.

>> Read more trending news 

CBS News reported that Flake, in an excerpt released prior to his speech Wednesday, said, “Mr. President, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies. ... It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.”

Flake said that Trump has used the term “enemy of the people” in describing the free press last year, CNBC reported.

Flake reached out via Twitter earlier this week that he was not saying that Trump was like Stalin, clarifying the intent of his speech, saying that Stalin was a maniacal killer. 

What You Need To Know About Bitcoin

What You Need To Know About Bitcoin

Steve Bannon strikes deal in Mueller probe: reports

Steve Bannon has struck a deal to be interviewed by a special prosecutor in the Robert Mueller investigation, according to reports.

>> Read more trending news

Check back for the latest updates in this developing story.

Florida man brutally murders ex-wife after fight over infidelity, sheriff says 

46-year-old Florida man is being charged with second-degree murder after he brutally beat and stomped his ex-wife to death, a sheriff said.

Michael Cummings and his ex-wife, Faith L. Cummings, 44, began arguing over infidelity on Thursday in the garage of their Palm Coast home, Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said.

>> Read more trending news

The fight escalated with Faith L. Cummings fleeing to a bathroom. Her ex-husband — they divorced in 2015, but moved back in together to rekindle the relationship — followed her and attacked her, according to a news release

Faith suffered multiple broken bones, including every rib with multiple fractures, as well as kicking and stomping injuries, according to the county medical examiner. Blood splatter indicated that she was hit with a weapon, investigators reported.

Her cause of death was ruled “blunt force trauma to the head with asphyxiation.” 

When deputies first arrived at the home, Staly said, Michael Cummings refused to leave, and as a result he was charged with obstruction of justice. He told authorities that Faith slipped and fell in the bathtub, but by the time deputies arrived she had been dead for hours. 

After realizing what he had done, he had tried to hide his crime, Staly said during a news conference. 

On Monday afternoon, Cummings was charged with second-degree murder with a weapon and booked into the Flagler County Detention Facility with no bond. 

“This case again proves that you never know what is going on behind closed doors,” Staly said. “Often, domestic violence is hidden from others and the victim is living with their attacker. This case shows just how fast a domestic argument can spiral out of control and into a murder.”

Britain’s ‘Canterbury cannibal’ now living in U.S.

A man who in 2014 was convicted in England of trying to eat a teenage girl has moved to the United States, and his new neighbors are not happy about his presence.

Dale Bolinger, 62, has registered as a sex offender in Blair, Nebraska, according to the state’s sex offender registry. Washington County Sheriff Mike Robinson confirmed Monday that Bolinger was in the jail there, but declined to say why.

“He’s here, but I cannot tell you why,” Robinson told the Omaha World-Herald. “Legally, I cannot say anything.”

Jail records show that Bolinger was booked into the facility on Friday, but no charges are listed. WOWT in Omaha reported that the lack of listed charges could mean he is being held on a mental health warrant.

Washington County Attorney Scott Vander Schaaf told the news station that he and Robinson have been “closely involved with the Bolinger situation.”

“We want to inform the citizens of Washington County that law enforcement and the county attorney’s office know the location of Mr. Bolinger and you can rest assured that he is not a threat to the community at this time,” Vander Schaaf said in a statement obtained by WOWT

Bolinger’s neighbors were upset to learn that the man dubbed the “Canterbury cannibal” in Britain had moved to their community. Bolinger, who worked as a nurse at Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, was sentenced in 2014 to nine years in prison for trying to meet an underage girl he had met online.

The BBC reported that Bolinger told police when he was arrested that he was interested in children as food. He also told investigators he had a computer disc that held an image of a young girl on a serving plate, an apple in her mouth. 

Bolinger arranged to meet the girl in September 2012 following a period of “sexual grooming” online. The online chats were with someone he believed to be either 14 or 16 years old. 

In the chats, Bolinger described the sex acts he wanted to perform on the girl and how he would kill her, the BBC reported. He bought an ax the day before he arranged to meet the girl at a train station, but the girl did not show up for the meeting. 

Bolinger also admitted to other crimes, including putting a cloth soaked in cleaning fluid over a woman’s mouth in 2010 and creating fake indecent photos of children.

It was not immediately clear why Bolinger was released from prison so early into his sentence and deported.

>> Read more trending news

Though he lived in England, Bolinger is an American citizen. At the time of his arrest, he had been married for more than three decades; he also has three children.  

Bolinger told British authorities that he’d had cannibalistic fantasies since the age of 6, the BBC said. Psychiatrists who examined him as part of his court case found that he was not mentally ill. 

The World-Herald reported that British investigators were made aware of Bolinger’s activities during the 2013 case of former New York police Officer Gilberto Valle, who was convicted of plotting to kill and eat women. Valle’s conviction was later overturned.

The two men chatted online about their cannibalistic fetishes, the World-Herald reported.  

Bolinger moved into his Blair neighborhood earlier this month, the newspaper said. Neighbors became panic-stricken upon learning of his presence.

“It’s making my heart race,” Sylvia Kasper told the World-Herald. “It’s scary considering I have a small daycare, and now I really have to watch and keep doors locked.”

Driver backs up Cadillac Escalade into Florida lake

A driver sank a Cadillac Escalade Tuesday while backing up his boat into Lake Weir, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said.

The man, whose identity wasn't released, was reversing his SUV on a boat ramp at the Carney Island Recreation and Conservation Area when he was unable to put the vehicle back in park, deputies said.

>> Read more trending news 

The vehicle followed the boat into the lake, well past a pair of signs that bear an arrow and the words "caution end of ramp."

The driver escaped the vehicle and was uninjured.

Divers with the Sheriff's Office helped a tow truck driver retrieve the SUV from the water.

Click here for boating safety tips from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

What to use as an ice scraper when you definitely don’t have one

I’m sorry. A what?

Texans who woke up to a frozen windshield this morning proved that creativity strikes at odd times. Not everyone in warmer regions  has the foresight to buy an ice scraper for the off chance that they might one day actually need it.

>> Read more trending news 

Or not everyone’s dad has insisted having one in the glove compartment could “one day save your life.”

Accordingly, on an oddly icy Texas morning, the state’s residents are forced to get creative. 

READ: Working from home today? You’re not the only one

Just among the Austin American-Statesman’s newsroom staff, reported ice scraper substitutes included: a drawer’s worth of spatulas, several credit cards, a plastic cup and a plastic level. 

A little research shows we weren’t far off some common stand-ins:

  • Spatula These things can do more than flip your burger. If you’re worried about scratching your window opt for plastic.
  • CDs Render that physical copy of an album you’re probably embarrassed you bought even more obsolete by using it to remove the ice from your windshield.
  • Credit cards A quick Google search proves credit cards the most popular ice scraper alternative. 
  • Plastic dustpan Makes for easy cleanup, too. 
  • Kayak paddle Austinites love to kayak, right?

Check out what some other Texans have resorted to:

Other tips for de-icing your windshield include idling your car (but that could be illegal in some parts of the country), spraying your window with either a saltwater solution or an alcohol solution or sprinkling salt on it directly.

>>Related: Letting car idle in cold weather could be illegal

You should not use hot (or even lukewarm) water to melt the ice on your windshield. The difference in temperature can shock the glass and cause it to crack.

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