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WASHINGTON (AFP) – Senator John McCain, a longtime advocate for forceful military intervention in Syria, was caught playing poker on his smartphone Tuesday as top administration officials testified at one of the most pivotal congressional hearings of the year.

McCain is hardly the only lawmaker ever to seek a diversion from what can be hours of legislative debate on Capitol Hill.

But the photographic evidence of McCain making poker bets on his iPhone during the hearing itself offered a startling counterweight to the seriousness in Washington as senators debated whether to sign on to President Barack Obama’s plan to bomb Syria for chemical weapons use.

“Scandal!” McCain tweeted sarcastically after an alert Washington Post photographer posted the photo that rapidly made the rounds on Twitter.

“Caught playing iPhone game at 3+ hour Senate hearing – worst of all I lost!” he quipped.

McCain, the Republican presidential nominee who was dealt a tough hand and lost the White House race to Obama in 2008, addressed his gaffe afterward.

“As much as I like to always listen in rapt attention constantly [to] remarks of my colleagues over a three-and-a-half-hour period, occasionally I get a little bored and so I resorted” to poker, a flushed but chuckling McCain told CNN.

“But the worst thing about it is I lost thousands of dollars in this game,” he said, clarifying that it was “fake” money.

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Marchers at January 22 anti-vaccination demonstration in Washington, D.C>

Back when it was first gaining traction in the 1990s, the anti-vaccination movement was largely considered a far-left thing, attracting believers ranging from barter-fair hippies to New Age gurus and their followers to “holistic medicine” practitioners. And it largely remained that way … until 2020 and the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As this Sunday’s “Defeat the Mandates” march in Washington, D.C., however, showed us, there’s no longer anything even remotely left-wing about the movement. Populated with Proud Boys and “Patriot” militiamen, QAnoners and other Alex Jones-style conspiracists who blithely indulge in Holocaust relativism and other barely disguised antisemitism, and ex-hippies who now spout right-wing propaganda—many of them, including speakers, encouraging and threatening violence—the crowd at the National Mall manifested the reality that “anti-vaxxers” now constitute a full-fledged far-right movement, and a potentially violent one at that.

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