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Trump slams Amazon over taxes, use of postal service

President Donald Trump slammed e-commerce giant Amazon on Thursday, claiming that the company pays few-to-no taxes and that its use of the U.S. Postal Service is “causing tremendous loss to the U.S.”

>> Read more trending news

“I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election,” the president wrote Thursday on Twitter. “Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!”

Amazon shares dropped Wednesday after an unidentified source told Axios that Trump was looking for ways “to go after Amazon with antitrust or competition law.” Trump has also criticized Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post.

>> Related: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is once again the world’s richest man

“He’s obsessed with Amazon,” an unidentified source told Axios. “Obsessed.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that despite the president’s comments, no specific policies were being pushed in regards to Amazon.

“The president has said many times before he's always looking to create a level playing field for all businesses, and this is no different,” she said.

Thursday’s comments were not Trump’s first criticisms of Amazon.

The president claimed in December that the post office was losing “many billions of dollars a year” and “charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer.” He wrote that the post office, “Should be charging MUCH MORE!”

Last summer, he questioned whether “Fake News Washington Post” was “being used as a lobbyist weapon against Congress to keep Politicians from looking into Amazon no-tax monopoly.”

The speculative comment earned a “Pants on Fire” rating from Politifact.com, the fact-checking group’s category for statements it deems to be most erroneous. The group noted that while Amazon is a large company, it’s not a monopoly.

“While Amazon takes advantage of tax breaks and loopholes, it pays federal corporate tax, and charges sales taxes in 46 U.S. jurisdictions,” according to Politifact. “It also supports federal legislation that would require other online retailers to pay state tax on internet sales.”

Caroline Sunshine, ex-Disney Channel star, joins Trump White House as press assistant

A former Disney Channel actress is shaking things up with the latest addition to her résumé.

>> Trump replacing VA Sec. David Shulkin with his personal physician Ronny L. Jackson

According to CNN, 22-year-old Caroline Sunshine, who starred in the Disney Channel show "Shake It Up" from 2010 to 2013, was recently hired as a White House press assistant. 

>> Who is White House physician Ronny L. Jackson?

A White House spokeswoman issued the following statement Wednesday to CNN:

>> Read more trending news 

"Caroline Sunshine was a White House intern. In college, she was involved with the American Enterprise Institute and an active member of her school's Model United Nations team. Prior to her internship at the White House, Caroline interned for the Office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the College Republican National Committee and the California Republican Party."

Read more here.

NRA donations triple in February, soaring after Parkland school shooting

Donations to the National Rifle Association reportedly tripled in February, increasing dramatically after the deadly Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

>> March for Our Lives: Emma Gonzalez stands in silence for Parkland victims, stuns crowd

According to CNN, the NRA Political Victory Fund, a political action committee, received $779,063 in donations last month, compared with $247,985 in January, Federal Election Commission filings show.

>> Fake photo of Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez tearing Constitution stirs controversy

Additionally, the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that monitors political contributions, reported that the NRA's PAC collected $70,870 from individuals who donated $200 or more from Feb. 15 to 28, up from $27,100 from Jan. 31 to Feb. 13.

Read more here and here.

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Gay conversion therapy banned in Washington state

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Wednesday to ban the practice known as conversion therapy in Washington state. 

>> Watch the news report here

Danny Cords stepped into the state Capitol on Wednesday, a survivor of conversion therapy he wants to ban.

“Yes, absolutely,” it was akin to torture, he said. “Snapping a rubber band on my wrist, putting a rock in my shoe so I could always be thinking of Christ and not everything else that was going on in my brain because of biology.”

>> Read more trending news 

Cords was there as the governor signed a new law prohibiting licensed therapists from performing conversion therapy on anyone under the age of 18.

“We know the scars caused by conversion therapy need to end today in the state of Washington,” Inslee said.

>> Palm Beach is first county in Florida to ban conversion therapy

The new law prohibits any regime to change the sexual orientation or gender identity, to change behavior or gender expressions, or to eliminate same-sex attraction. However, the law doesn't cover non-licensed or religious counselors.

When Seattle passed a similar law, critics objected.

“If they could basically attack the parents, they would. So, they are coming in the back door, trying to make it look like the issue is about therapists. It's not,” said Kevin Amos.

>> Texas judge nominee equated transgender children, Satan

Asked why this should not be a decision for parents, the governor responded, “Because we don’t let parents or doctors make decisions to let broken legs be treated in something that ends up losing both your limbs. It's unprofessional, it's damaging, it is not scientifically credible and it violates not only our values, but the mental health of kids with decades of depression ahead of them if they are told to hate themselves.”

Cords tried suicide.

“I tried to end it, I didn't have a point to living, because that's what I had been told since I was 14.”

Those gathered for Wednesday's celebration say more needs to be done.

“It's a shame that we've gone this far in 2018 and haven’t outlawed this therapy nationally,” Cords said.

Mukilteo Sen. Marko Liias led the fight for years to ban conversion therapy. He succeeded this year because Democrats recaptured the majority in the state Senate.

Ex-clown runs for Congress in South Carolina

Steve Lough wasn't clowning around when he launched a bid for Congress in South Carolina.

>> Watch a video of Lough here

According to The Associated Press, the Democrat and former circus clown is vying to represent the state's 5th Congressional District. Republican Rep. Ralph Norman currently holds the seat.

The Dartmouth and Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Clown College alum supports universal health care and believes "assault weapons have no place in civilian hands," according to his campaign websiteClownForCongress.com.

>> Read more trending news 

Lough, originally from Camden, will face off against four other candidates in the Democratic primary June 12.

Read more here.

Planned Parenthood branch deletes tweet calling for Disney princess who has had an abortion

A Pennsylvania Planned Parenthood branch stirred controversy on social media Tuesday after tweeting that Disney should have a "princess who's had an abortion."

>> Read more trending news 

According to USA Today, Planned Parenthood Keystone in Lehigh County posted the following now-deleted tweet to its official account

"We need a disney [sic] princess who's had an abortion," the tweet read. "We need a disney [sic] princess who's pro-choice. We need a disney [sic] princess who's an undocumented immigrant. We need a disney [sic] princess who's actually a union worker. We need a disney [sic] princess who's trans.”

>> See a screenshot of the tweet here

The tweet immediately drew criticism from anti-abortion activists.

Planned Parenthood President and CEO Melissa Reed issued the following statement in response to the backlash, according to USA Today:

“Today, we joined an ongoing Twitter conversation about the kinds of princesses people want to see in an attempt to make a point about the importance of telling stories that challenge stigma and championing stories that too often don’t get told," Reed said. "Upon reflection, we decided that the seriousness of the point we were trying to make was not appropriate for the subject matter or context, and we removed the tweet.”

Read more here.

Fake photo of Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez tearing Constitution stirs controversy

A fake viral photo and animated GIF of Florida school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez ripping the Constitution are stirring controversy on social media.

>> March for Our Lives: Emma Gonzalez stands in silence for Parkland victims, stuns crowd

According to Newsweek, the original photo and animation, which accompanied a Teen Vogue article published Friday, showed Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, tearing a target from a shooting range. But the altered versions, which replaced the target with the Constitution, soon made the rounds on Twitter.

>> School district arms students, teachers with rocks in case of school shooting

Far-right website Gab and actor Adam Baldwin, who shared the altered GIF, called the meme political satire. However, several users who replied to their posts appeared to believe the animation was real.

>> Read more trending news 

Phillip Picardi, Teen Vogue's chief content officer, blasted the meme Sunday.

>> See his posts here

Read more here.

Presidents Clinton, Bush and Carter to attend Zell Miller's funeral

Three former U.S. presidents are scheduled to attend Zell Miller’s funeral Tuesday in Atlanta. 

Presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are each also expected to speak at the funeral for Miller, a former Georgia governor, U.S. senator and father of the HOPE scholarship who died Friday at the age of 86.

The Miller Institute Foundation, which was founded in honor of Miller’s legacy, confirmed the former presidents’ plans to participate in the service. 

>> Read more trending news 

The service at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church is set for 11 a.m., and at its conclusion the family will travel to the Georgia Capitol, where Miller’s body will lie in state in the rotunda

The Tuesday service is the second of three public memorials for the famed Georgia politician. On Monday, hundreds crowded into a theater on the campus of Young Harris College, where Miller was a history professor. 

On Wednesday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and several of his predecessors are expected to speak at the executive state funeral for Miller in the Capitol rotunda. 

MORE COVERAGE FROM THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION:

>> Zell Miller to lie in state at Capitol, other services announced 

>> An appreciation: How Zell Miller helped shape an AJC reporter's life 

>> In the end, Zell Miller sought to repair those burned bridges 

>> Former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller, 86, dies

Trump orders expulsion of Russian diplomats over UK spy attack

President Donald Trump on Monday ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats and the closure of the country’s consulate in Seattle in response to an attack earlier this month on a former spy in the United Kingdom.

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