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Orgies, blackmail, extortion, Iran hostages: The crazy claims against Florida Rep

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Rep. Mat Gaetz is in the middle of a heap of scandals, including being investigated by the Justice Department for allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old girl.

An alleged orgy with prostitutes. Accusations of sex with an underage girl. A trophy photo of a woman wearing only a hula hoop. And a convoluted extortion plot involving a likely dead American hostage in Iran.

Even by Florida standards, the Matt Gaetz saga is downright bizarre — and getting weirder by the day.

Before this week, the young Sunshine State congressman and ally of former President Donald Trump was best known, like his mentor, for his ambitious conservatism and promontory coiffure.

But this week, the Republican has faced a daily flurry of scandalous ­headlines.

Most seriously, he is being investigated by the Justice Department for allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old girl, and for paying for her to travel with him across state lines, potentially violating federal sex-trafficking laws.

Gaetz denies the allegations — but not the fact of the investigation.

Then, on Thursday, CNN alleged that he had shown fellow lawmakers nude photos of women he said he’d slept with, including one photographed wearing a hula hoop, and nothing else.

There have also been claims by two of Gaetz’s enemies that the FBI has photos of him in a “sexual orgy with underage prostitutes.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz is seen posing with shorts on an Instagram post, captioning “Covid work!”.
Rep. Matt Gaetz is seen posing with shorts on an Instagram post, captioning “Covid work!”
Instagram

It’s all enough to make his penchant for posing on Instagram without pants, as he did in a July posting he captioned, “Covid work!” seem tame by comparison.

This is how the latest Gaetz drama has played out so far:

News of the sex-trafficking investigation, launched in the final months of the last administration, broke Tuesday in The New York Times.

Rep. Matt Gaetz is engaged to Harvard business school student Ginger Luckey.
Rep. Matt Gaetz is engaged to Harvard business school student Ginger Luckey.
Twitter

The Pensacola bachelor, 38 — whose engagement to Harvard business school student Ginger Luckey, 26, was announced on Twitter by Fox’s Jeanine Pirro in December — immediately denied he had sex with a minor or transported one across state lines.

“In the strongest possible terms. I deny that I have ever been with someone underage,” he told The Post on Tuesday.

“That is false,” he insisted.

But Gaetz had only raised more eyebrows when he conceded to the Times that some of his past “generosity” toward former gal pals may be coming back to haunt him.

“I only know that it has to do with women,” he told the paper, when asked what he knew about the ­investigation.

“I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”

Soon, a new squall of headlines — these involving underage sex trafficking victims, an orgy, and a $25 million extortion plot — showed just how much more untoward things could get.

Rep. Mat Gaetz told the Post he denies “that I have ever been with someone underage.”
Gaetz told The Post he denies “that I have ever been with someone underage.”
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Just hours after the Times story broke, Gaetz did an interview on Fox News with Tucker Carlson.

He was there on camera, ostensibly, to clear things up.

Instead, Gaetz wove a twisty tale that cast himself and his father, Don, a wealthy former Florida politician, as the heroic victims of a massive blackmail plot.

“What is happening,” he told Carlson of the DOJ leak to the Times, “is an extortion of me and my family involving a former Department of Justice official.”

That ex-official, the villain of his purported extortion plot, is attorney David McGee, a former Florida federal prosecutor, Gaetz alleged.

“On March 16, my father got a text message demanding a meeting,” Gaetz said. “Wherein a person demanded $25 million in exchange for making horrible sex-trafficking allegations against me go away,” he told Carlson.

Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks during a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida on Feb. 27, 2021.
Gaetz speaks during a panel at CPAC in Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 27, 2021.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

He and his father reached out to the feds, “and the FBI and the Department of Justice were so concerned about this attempted extortion of a member of Congress that they asked my dad to wear a wire,” Gaetz told Carlson.

The feds must release the resulting audio tape, he told Carlson, claiming it will prove his innocence and reveal “a plot to bleed my family out of money.”

McGee leaked the DOJ sex-traffic investigation to the Times when the extortion plot fell through, Gaetz concluded in the shocking interview.

Then there’s the Iranian hostage angle.

Rep. Mat Gaetz claims the alleged sex trafficking investigation “is an extortion of me and my family involving a former Department of Justice official.”
Gaetz claims the alleged sex-trafficking investigation “is an extortion of me and my family involving a former Department of Justice official.”
Getty Images

McGee and ex-Air Force intelligence officer Bob Kent didn’t want the money for themselves, necessarily, Gaetz is alleging.

They wanted to use the money to free Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent taken hostage by Iran in 2007, and declared dead by his family last year.

Oh, and about those sex-trafficking allegations?

“Providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you’re dating who are of legal age is not a crime,” Gaetz told Carlson, a denial that may have done less in the way of clearing his name than he intended.

Rep. Matt Gaetz holds a phone to the microphone during a rally against Rep. Liz Cheney in Cheyenne, Wyoming on January 28, 2021.
Gaetz holds a phone to the microphone during a rally against Rep. Liz Cheney in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on Jan. 28, 2021.
Getty Images

McGee, meanwhile, has denied Gaetz’s hostage-extortion plot allegations, calling them “a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that he’s under investigation for sex trafficking of minors,” as he told The Washington Post.

And McGee is fighting Gaetz with banner-headline dirt of his own.

Which brings us, finally, to the alleged orgy.

Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent taken hostage by Iran in 2007, and declared dead by his family last year.
Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent taken hostage by Iran in 2007 who was declared dead by his family last year.
AFP via Getty Images

Gaetz has shown the Washington Examiner a string of text messages and other documents he says show the details of McGee and Kent’s supposed extortion attempt — including the pair’s reference to the FBI having photos of the congressman in a “sexual orgy with underage ­prostitutes.”

The document has not been verified, and its redundant reference to a “sexual orgy” is not elaborated on.

On Friday, text messages emerged purporting to link Gaetz to Joel Greenberg, a political ally and Seminole County tax official who’s being prosecuted for underage sex trafficking.

It was Greenberg’s prosecution — for allegedly making a fake ID for a minor girl “to facilitate his efforts to engage in commercial sex acts” — that had first put Gaetz on the feds’ radar.

Texts obtained by the Daily Beast appear to show Greenberg asking one of his workers to make a drivers license for Gaetz, who had lost his and needed a quick replacement to board a flight.

The congressman repeatedly boasted to unnamed Florida pols about women he met through Greenberg — even flashing around videos at parties of them in various stages of undress, The Washington Post meanwhile reported Friday night.

And to cap the week off, his communications director, Florida native Luke Ball, scrubbed mentions of Gaetz from his Twitter biography and tendered his resignation.

“The Office of Congressman Matt Gaetz and Luke Ball have agreed that it would be best to part ways,” a joint statement read. “We thank him for his time in our office, and we wish him the best moving forward.”

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Joyce Carol Oates slams Brandeis over ban on ‘picnic,’ other words

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Even liberal novelists aren’t buying Brandeis University’s “Oppressive Language List,” which contains head scratchers like “picnic,” “rule of thumb” and “everything going on right now.”

Pulitzer Prize winner Joyce Carol Oates took to her popular Twitter account on Thursday to poke fun at the list, which was developed by the school’s Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center.

“What is strange is that while the word ‘picnic’ is suggested for censorship, because it evokes, in some persons, lynchings of Black persons in the US, the word ‘lynching’ is not itself censored,” Oates said in one post.

“Picnic” disappeared from the online Oppressive Language List sometime last week as reports of its existence spread, according to reports.

The university-sponsored website previously said the word “has been associated with lynchings of Black people in the United States, during which white spectators were said to have watched while eating.”

But other ultra-woke corrections remain — including suggestions to say “friends” instead of “tribe,” “give it a go” instead of “take a shot at” and “content note” instead of “trigger warning” — the latter because “the word ‘trigger’ has connections to guns for many people.”

Oates, 84, is a prolific tweeter who often uses her account to promote liberal politics and her opposition to former President Donald Trump.

Brandeis University released at list of “potentially oppressive language” from its Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center.
Brandeis University released at list of “potentially oppressive language” from its Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center.
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In another post on Thursday, the “Black Water” author worried what would become of professors and educators who disavowed the list’s recommendations.

“What sort of punishment is doled out for a faculty member who utters the word ‘picnic’ at Brandeis?–or the phrase ‘trigger warning’?” she asked.

“Loss of tenure, public flogging, self-flagellation?”

The university in a prepare statement last week said the “was developed by students” and was “in no no way an accounting of terms that Brandeis students, faculty or staff are prohibited from using or must substitute instead.”

“It is simply a resource that can be accessed by anyone who wants to consider their own language in an effort to be respectful of others who may have different reactions to certain terms and phrases,” spokesperson Julie Jette said.

About dis year BET Award

“Di BET Awards na di ultimate celebration of Black culture, and we dey look forward to spotlighting and celebrating Black women during dis year show

“Recognizing dem for everything wey dem don accomplish and applaud dem for what to come.”

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Belgian artist’s ‘portable oasis’ offers COVID protection — and fresh air

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When governments around Europe told people to create a “bubble” to limit their social contacts during the COVID-19 pandemic, this was probably not what they had in mind.

Alain Verschueren, a Belgian artist and social worker, has been strolling through the capital Brussels wearing a “portable oasis” – a plexiglass mini-greenhouse which rests on his shoulders, cocooning him in a bubble of air purified by the aromatic plants inside.

Verschueren, 61, developed the idea 15 years ago, inspired by the lush oases in Tunisia where he had previously worked. In a city where face coverings are mandatory to curb the spread of COVID-19, his invention has gained a new lease of life.

“It was about creating a bubble in which I could lock myself in, to cut myself off a world that I found too dull, too noisy or smelly,” Verschueren said, adding that he has asthma and finds breathing within his contraption more comfortable than wearing a facemask.

Alain Verschueren grabs attention from bystanders while wearing his "Portable Oasis" in Brussels, Belgium.
Alain Verschueren grabs attention from bystanders while wearing his “Portable Oasis” in Brussels, Belgium.
REUTERS/Yves Herman

“As time went by, I noticed that people were coming up to me and talking to me. This isolation became much more a way of connecting,” he said.

Onlookers in Brussels appeared amused and confused by the man wandering between the shops – mostly closed due to COVID-19 restrictions – encased in a pod of thyme, rosemary and lavender plants.

Alain Verschueren claims he finds breathing within his "Portable Oasis"  more comfortable than wearing a facemask due to his asthma.
Alain Verschueren claims he finds breathing within his “Portable Oasis” more comfortable than wearing a facemask due to his asthma.
REUTERS/Yves Herman

“Is it a greenhouse? Is it for the bees? Is it for the plants? We don’t know, but it’s a good idea,” Charlie Elkiess, a retired jeweller, told Reuters.

Verschueren said he hoped to encourage people to take better care of the environment, to reduce the need to protect ourselves from air and noise pollution.

Belgian artist Alain Verschueren wears his "Portable Oasis" while walking in a street in Brussels, Belgium on April 16, 2021.
Belgian artist Alain Verschueren wears his “Portable Oasis” while walking in a street in Brussels, Belgium on April 16, 2021.

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Chad’s longtime president Idriss Déby dies after fight against rebels

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President Idriss Déby died from wounds suffered on the battlefield during a fight against rebels.

Chad President Idriss Déby — who ruled the central African country for over 30 years — died Tuesday of wounds suffered on the battlefield during a fight against rebels, the military announced.

The stunning announcement on national media came just hours after officials had declared the 68-year-old the winner of the April 11 election, paving the way for him to stay in power for six more years.

The military said Déby had taken “the heroic lead in combat operations against terrorists who had come from Libya.”

After being wounded in battle, he then was taken to the capital, Gen. Azem Bermandoa Agouma said.

“In the face of this worrying situation, the people of Chad must show their attachment to peace, to stability and to national cohesion,” Agouma said.

Chad President Idriss Deby
A supporter carries a picture of Chad President Idriss Deby during a Peace Process rally in Darfur.
REUTERS

An 18-month transitional council will be led by the late president’s 37-year-old son, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, the military said, as it imposed a nightly 6 p.m. curfew.

Déby, a former army commander-in-chief, first came to power in 1990 when his rebel forces overthrew then-President Hissene Habre, who was later convicted of human rights abuses.

Chadian President Idriss Deby inspects a seized rebel technical in Adre, Chad.
Chadian President Idriss Deby inspects a seized rebel technical in Adre, Chad.
AFP via Getty Images

He had survived several armed rebellions over the years and managed to stay in power until this latest insurgency led by a group calling itself the Front for Change and Concord in Chad.

The rebels are believed to have armed and trained in Libya before crossing into Chad on April 11.

President of Chad Idriss Deby
Deby first came to power in 1990 when his rebel forces overthrew then-President Hissene Habre.
EPA

Déby was a major French ally in the fight against Islamic extremism in Africa, hosting the base for the French military Operation Barkhane and providing forces to the peacekeeping effort in Mali.

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