Biden’s communion denial highlights faith-politics conflict

A Roman Catholic priest’s denial of communion to Joe Biden in South Carolina on Sunday illustrates the fine line presidential candidates must walk as they talk about their faiths: balancing religious values with a campaign that asks them to choose a side in polarizing moral debates. The awkward moment for Biden came during a weekend campaign swing through South Carolina, a pivotal firewall in his hopes to claim the Democratic presidential nomination. The former vice president on Sunday visited St. Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, a midsize city in the state’s largely rural northeast.

English tourists seriously injured in Australia shark attack

An English tourist had his foot bitten off by a shark while another was bitten during the attack in the Whitsunday Islands near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef on Tuesday, officials said. In the latest in a string of shark attacks in the tourist area, a 28-year-old man’s right foot was bitten off while a 22-year-old man suffered serious lacerations to his lower left leg, according to Mackay Base Hospital. The pair were in a “serious but stable” condition in hospital after being airlifted from the resort town of Airlie Beach, an official told AFP.

NRA Officials Found NRATV Messaging to Be ‘Distasteful and Racist’: Lawsuit

NRATVThe federal lawsuit between the National Rifle Association and the ad firm that created its now-defunct NRATV outlet has taken an uglier turn, with the pro-gun group now alleging its own leadership found the TV outlet’s messaging “distasteful and racist.”According to an Oct. 25 amended complaint filed in its ongoing lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen, NRA officials believed the short-lived TV outlet—which featured shows from right-wing stars like Dana Loesch and Dan Bongino—“strayed from the Second Amendment to themes which some NRA leaders found distasteful and racist.”As an example of a “damaging” segment, the NRA filing alludes to an instance on Loesch’s show Relentless, in which an on-air graph featured a picture of kid’s cartoon character Thomas the Tank Engine wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood. “Attempts by the NRA to ‘rein in’ AMc and its messaging were met with responses from AMc that ranged from evasive to hostile,” the gun lobby further alleges.Furthermore, the NRA claims, in closed-door meetings Ackerman McQueen presented to embattled NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre “fabricated and inflated sponsorship and viewership claims.” When tasked with the “simple request” of gathering digital “unique visitors” data for NRA executives, the filing claims, AMc went silent. Overall, the gun group alleges, the ad firm often gave an “intentionally (and wildly) misleading” representation of NRATV’s viewership performance.“Tellingly, when NRATV finally shut down in June 2019, no one missed it,” the NRA fumes in the new filing. “Not a single sponsor or viewer even called, confirming what at least some NRA executives suspected—the site had limited visibility and was failing the accomplish any of its goals.”The amended complaint is just the latest shot fired in an ongoing battle between the gun-lobbying group and its estranged ad firm. The lawsuit, originally filed in late August in Dallas, blasted AMc for its handling of NRATV and demanded the firm remove any reference to the NRA from its website.Prior to that, the NRA sued Ackerman McQueen in Virginia Circuit Court to demand information about its billing practices and eventually demand tens of millions of dollars.The National Rifle Association, meanwhile, has been embroiled in several scandals of its own: a ProPublica report alleging sexual harassment by a senior NRA staffer; vicious infighting among top executives; and reportedly out-of-control spending and debt fueled by legal fees, unpaid bills, and expenses on lavish travel, clothing, and makeup for LaPierre and his wife.In a lengthy statement to The Daily Beast, the ad firm blasted the NRA’s “false claims” and went after LaPierre, alleging the NRA CEO repeatedly “defrauded” the firm. “In the final 18 months, AMc representatives progressively discovered that LaPierre and his executive team, with the board’s oversight and approval, were marketing false products and narratives to NRA members, covering up sexual harassment, attempting to intimidate public officials, disrupting internal investigations about Russia, spending member money for personal benefit and more.”AMc further wrote: “LaPierre controlled every aspect of NRATV for which he recruited talent, approved every budget, audited every metric and required ultimate confidentiality. Ackerman McQueen routinely offered and toward the end of the relationship demanded that an outside firm audit NRATV performance but LaPierre refused. Unlike the NRA, AMc welcomes full transparency. LaPierre’s apparent paranoia and lust for secrecy fed his justification for private air travel, luxury hotels and countless other expenses for himself, his family and friends that were all paid by member dues.”The ad firm’s statement concluded by alleging that LaPierre and the NRA now “grovel at the feet of the media they used to decry” by filing lawsuits against the NRATV creator—“another cynical attempt to distract from Wayne LaPierre’s documented mismanagement of the organization and the captive board’s complicit behavior,” the firm added.Meanwhile, the NRA added in a statement from Michael J. Collins, partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors and counsel to the NRA: “The NRA believes Ackerman McQueen breached its fiduciary duties, engaged in fraudulent billing, and failed to maintain adequate books and records—all in an effort to enrich itself at the expense of the NRA and its members. The allegations reveal a pattern of corruption that included NRATV, a failed media enterprise the agency proposed, managed and sustained through misleading accounts of viewership and promised commercial viability. In the end, the NRA believes NRATV became all ‘smoke and mirrors’—a vehicle touted by Ackerman for the sole purpose of continuing the flow of millions of dollars of fees which the agency needed to sustain itself.”  Collins continued: “At the same time, when questions began to arise about Ackerman’s billing practices and whether it was taking advantage of the considerable discretion it possessed in such matters, the agency stonewalled the inquiry and embarked upon a scorched-earth campaign against all of its perceived adversaries. Ultimately, this included the CEO of the Association, executives, and outside professionals charged with obtaining answers to legitimate concerns about the agency’s practices. The NRA and its members are determined to ferret out what now appears to have been a considerable amount of corruption.”—This story has been updated with comments from both Ackerman McQueen and the NRA.NRA Spent Tens of Thousands on Hair and Makeup for CEO’s WifeNational Rifle Association Calls NRATV a ‘Failed Endeavor’ in New LawsuitRead more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

In a Kurdish prison, former IS fighters never see the sun

Just months ago, the most hardcore among them were still bent on defending the last sliver of the Islamic State group’s “caliphate” in Baghouz, Syria. AFP correspondents obtained exclusive access to the site in Hasakeh province. IS fighters were accused of carrying out beheadings, mass executions, rapes, abductions and ethnic cleansing in territory they held across swaths of Iraq and Syria.

Navy upholds sentencing of Navy SEAL for posing with corpse

The U.S. chief of naval operations on Tuesday denied a request for clemency and upheld a military jury’s sentence that will reduce the rank of a decorated Navy SEAL convicted of posing with a dead Islamic State captive in Iraq in 2017. Adm. Mike Gilday made the decision after carefully reviewing the trial transcripts and the clemency request by the lawyers of Edward Gallagher, said Cmdr. Nate Christensen, spokesman for Gilday, in a statement. Gallagher’s lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, said they are disappointed in the ruling that will cost Gallagher up to $200,000 in retirement funds because of his loss of rank from a chief petty officer to a 1st class petty officer.