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WASHINGTON- The Justice Department has ordered FBI agents to provide prosecutors a with a summary of the evidence agents obtained during an investigation into alleged connections between an Obama-era uranium deal with Russia and the Clinton Foundation, according to unnamed sources that spoke with NBC News.
Last month, Assistant Attorney General Steven Boyd confirmed in a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering a request by Republican lawmakers to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the allegations.
The Hill in October reported that the FBI had uncovered evidence suggesting Russian entities had bribed interested parties prior to the Clinton State Department and other agencies approving a 2010 contract that allowed the Canadian mining company Uranium One to sell uranium deposits to the Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom.
The report claims that Russian officials donated millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation prior to the contract being awarded.
Many Democrats have said the Justice Department’s new probe is designed to distract the public from investigations into allegations of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Clinton told Mother Jones last month that the initial report was debunked and warned that the probe represented a “disastrous step into politicizing the Justice Department.”
During the 2016 race, the Clinton campaign said that she was not directly involved in the State Department’s decision.
The Department was one of nine agencies required to approve the contract before it went forward.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has said Congress will investigate the reports.
WASHINGTON- Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering the appointment of special counsel to probe alleged connections between the Clinton Foundation and an Obama-era uranium deal with Russia.
“The Attorney General has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote in a Monday letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).
“These senior prosecutors will report directly to the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel,” Boyd explained.
The Hill last month reported that the FBI had uncovered evidence suggesting Russian entities had bribed interested parties prior to the Clinton State Department and other agencies approving a 2010 contract that allowed the Canadian mining company Uranium One to sell uranium deposits to the Russian state-owned nuclear company ROSATOM.
Reports suggest some ROSATOM investors may have had financial ties to the Clinton Foundation.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) last month said Congress will investigate the reports.
Clinton has dismissed reports about the scandal as part of a Republican witch hunt and many of her fellow Democrats have said the probe is designed to distract the public from investigations into allegations of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
News of the potential appointment comes just days after reports emerged stating that the lobbying group founded by former Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and his brother Tony may be shutting down.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration says there are more examples that support its contention that Iran was behind the attacks last week on two oil tankers. As of yet, however, that proof has not been released and some allies remain wary.
With the exception of the United Kingdom, NATO and other U.S. allies have been mostly silent on any response to the attack and the White House claims of Iran’s role in them. Germany’s foreign minister said the video purporting to show Iranian military personnel removing an unexploded mine from the hull of one of the attacked ships is not sufficient.
“We can understand what is being shown, sure, but to make a final assessment, this is not enough for me,” Heiko Maas, Germany’s foreign minister, told reporters in Berlin on Friday.
Skeptics said a full video, showing how and when it was filed and the full sequence is critical to establishing veracity.
“The intelligence community has lots of data, lots of evidence,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday on Fox. “The world will come to see much of it, but the American people should rest assured we have high confidence with respect to who conducted these attacks as well as half a dozen other attacks throughout the world.”
The Pentagon has also said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps attempted to shoot down a U.S. drone over the area, CNN reported.
Pompeo’s assertions received some bipartisan support on Sunday. Rep. Adam Schiff (DCal.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said, “There’s no question that Iran’s behind the attacks.
“The problem is we’re struggling, even in the midst of this strong evidence, to persuade our allies to join us in any kind of response,” Schiff said on CBS. “It shows just how isolated the U.S. has become.”
Britain strongly concurred that Iran is to blame.
“It is almost certain that a branch of the Iranian military — the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — attacked the two tankers on 13 June. No other state or non-state actor could plausibly have been responsible,” a statement said from the U.K. government released Friday said. It also blamed Iran for four previous attacks on May 12.
On Monday, Iran said it is boosting the enrichment of low-grade uranium and will pass the limit it is allowed to stockpile under a nuclear agreement in 10 days, according to news reports.
“If Iran feels that the sanctions have been reinstated or not lifted, Iran has the right to partly or on the whole suspend its commitments,” Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesperson for the Iranian nuclear agency, told reporters in Iran. He was referencing sanctions that were lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal but have since been reinstated by the White House after the U.S. left the treaty in May 2018.
Pompeo said all options remain on the table to deal with Iran.
“What you should assume is that we’re going to guarantee freedom of navigation throughout the straits,” Pompeo said on Fox. “This is an international challenge. This is important to the entire globe. The United States is going to make sure that we do – take all the actions necessary, diplomatic and otherwise, that achieve that outcome.
Among the areas under consideration, according to Pentagon officials: sending more troops and hardware to the region, including ships, submarines and aircraft; cyber warfare focused on Iranian military assets; a limited strike on Iranian military assets, such as swarm boat facilities and minelayers; and organizing an international coalition to escort commercial ships through the Strait of Hormuz.
Court keeps Grand Canyon uranium off-limits
Environmentalists had good reason to celebrate a decision handed down by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding former Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar’s 2012 decision to impose a 20-year ban on uranium mining on one million acres of federal land near the Grand Canyon. But it was a mixed outcome. The same court panel decided a related case by upholding the validity of a mining permit held by the Havasupai Tribe within the boundaries of Salazar’s “off-limits” order. Salazar’s decision drew opposition from the National Mining Association, and support from environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the National Parks Conservation Association. The Court held that Salazar’s decision to impose a 20-year ban on uranium mining complied with the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act’s requirements.
NOAA: 2017 was “warm year” for Arctic
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, releasing its 12th annual Arctic Report Card, said a warming trend persisted in the Arctic in 2017, resulting in the second warmest air temperatures, above average ocean temperatures, loss of sea ice, and a range of human, ocean and ecosystem effects. The report said the Arctic “shows no sign of returning to the reliably frozen region it was decades ago,” and that Arctic temperatures “continue to increase at double the rate of the global temperature increase.”
Gotham mobsters indicted by ICE
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said seven New York City mobsters—six associated with the Gambino crime family and one member of the Bonanno family—face racketeering charges including loan sharking, gambling, narcotics distribution, and obstruction of justice. Most of the illegal activity was conducted in Brooklyn and Long Island, ICE said, adding that its investigation included wiretaps, undercover agents, and visual surveillance.
NIST develops forensic software tool
The National Institute of Standards and Technology announced it has developed a software tool that allows forensic crime investigators to rest more easily when making a duplicate of data held on a seized computer device. The NIST tool basically provides pre-verification that the duplication software is working properly. NIST said that extracting and copying data has become risky due to the rapidly advancing use of changing forensic procedures.
Prosecutors face tough re-elections in fall
A poll commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union finds a majority of people who plan to vote in next November’s midterm elections are ready to apply discipline to local prosecutors who keep jails filled by overstepping their prosecutorial authority. The telephone poll of 1,600 respondents, the ACLU said, showed 89% of voters said it was “very important” for prosecutors to work towards ending mass incarceration, and 88% said they are more likely to support a prosecutor who believes in reducing racial bias in the criminal justice system.
Atheists appeal House invocation decision
The Freedom From Religion Foundation appealed a district judge’s decision to uphold House Chaplain Patrick Conroy’s refusal to invite FFRF’s co-founder Dan Barker from offering the invocation at a House session. According to Barker, an invitation extended by his local congressman was rescinded by Conroy who claimed it was because the FFRF co-founder does not believe in “a higher power.” The complaint notes that Congress spends about $800,000 a year for opening prayers, including Conroy’s $172,000 annual salary.
Rip ‘n Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.
The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Tuesday, December 12
WASHINGTON- Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday said the Department of Justice will review an Obama-era agreement that allowed Russia to purchase uranium from a Canadian mining company.
“We will hear your concerns. The Department of Justice will take such actions as is appropriate,” Sessions said in response to a question from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
Sessions would not say whether DOJ is reviewing allegations suggesting members of the Obama Administration-such as Hillary Clinton visa-a-vis the Clinton Foundation-may have had conflicts of interest that may have prevented an impartial decision in approving the agreement.
“We’re working hard to maintain discipline in the department. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on any ongoing investigation,” Sessions told Grassley.
Grassley on Tuesday sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security requesting an investigation into reports that the FBI had discovered evidence suggesting Russian entities had bribed interested parties prior to the contract being approved.
The Hill first reported the bribery allegations.
The State Department in 2010 in conjunction with other agencies signed off on an agreement that permitted Uranium One to sell uranium deposits to the Russian state-owned nuclear company ROSATOM.
Old uranium mine isn’t polluting Grand Canyon
The former Pigeon Mine, located north of the Grand Canyon, is probably not the source of uranium found in recent samples of water taken from Pigeon Spring which flows into the Colorado River, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a study. The uranium is most likely a natural occurrence, the USGS said, noting that the Colorado River, which runs through the Grand Canyon and is a primary source of drinking and irrigation water for millions of people in the U.S. and Mexico, is also believed to flow through a region that hosts some of the highest-grade uranium ore in the country.
Seeks to drop charges against inaugural protest reporters
New York City-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which focuses mostly on problems faced by journalists in foreign countries, urged the District of Columbia to drop charges against three news reporters who were arrested while covering protests that coincided with last Friday’s presidential inauguration. D.C. police spokeswoman Rachel Reid said the three reporters are now among 50 persons who are plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit that claims police indiscriminately arrested people—including lawyers, medics and journalists—who were not involved in criminal activity.
U.S. trade agency opens Apple probe
The U.S. International Trade Commission voted to open an investigation to determine if Apple Computer Inc., of Cupertino, Calif., violated patent laws in smartphones and tablet computers that were manufactured in China and exported to the U.S. The action responds to a complaint submitted by Nokia Technologies Oy of Espoo, Finland. The 1930 Tariff Act makes it illegal to import goods into the United States that violate another patent holder’s rights.
Mental illness and opioid misuse often travel together
A report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that about 1.5 million adult Americans who experienced a serious mental illness also misused an opioid drug in 2015. SAMHSA said the misuse of opioids includes any use of heroin and/or the misuse of opioid-based prescription pain killers. The statistic means that about 13% of adults who misused opioids in 2015 also experienced a serious mental illness; and, alternatively, that about 15.6% who experienced a serious mental illness also misused an opioid.
Wisconsin sued for barbaric juvenile detention
The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin filed a class action lawsuit that accuses four Wisconsin juvenile detention home officials of conduct that violated the constitutional rights of youth offenders. The suit was filed on behalf of youth confined at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls. The schools were raided by state and federal officials in late 2015, leading to many staff firings and leadership changes. But, the ACLU suit alleges that children are routinely kept in solitary confinement, put in mechanical restraints or are pepper-sprayed at the two schools.
FBI makes arrest for cybercrime
George James, 48, of Brookhaven, Ga., was arrested by FBI agents and charged with committing a cybercrime that bilked a Kansas county out of $566,000, the Department of Justice said. According to a criminal complaint, James sent an email to Sedgwick County officials that requested payment for work done on road projects, and that the money be sent electronically to a new account at a bank in Georgia. However, the billing statement did not come from the company that did the work, but instead came from James.
Mexico truck caught with marijuana cargo
A Mexican truck driver enrolled in the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program that’s designed to reduce the time needed to transport cargo through the U.S.-Mexico border was arrested at the World Trade Bridge in Laredo, Tex., when border agents discovered 8,905 pounds of marijuana hidden in a commercial shipment. The marijuana was valued at nearly $1.8 million, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. Also, CBP arrested a 50-year-old Mexican woman from Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, when agents at the Mariposa crossing near Tucson, Ariz., seized 88 pounds of heroin worth an estimated $1.5 million and 8 pounds of cocaine worth more than $90,000.
Lifetime ban ordered for student debt scammers
Chastity Valdez and her company, Consumer Assistance LLC, of Coral Springs, Fla., agreed to a lifetime ban from engaging in business that provides student debt relief or credit repair services to resolve a Federal Trade Commission complaint. Valdez was accused of violating federal law by luring borrowers with false promises of “eliminating” their student loan obligations and repairing their credit ratings, and collecting illegal up-front fees and posting phony testimonials online.
Rip ‘n Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and other national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.
The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Tuesday, January 24
WASHINGTON– Russian nuclear executives gave millions of dollars to an American lobbying firm with the expectation that a portion of the proceeds would be given to the Clinton Foundation, according to an FBI informant’s statement to Congress that was obtained by The Hill.
Douglas Campbell on Wednesday provided written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Campbell also spoke privately with the committees.
Campbell is alleged to have connected an Obama-era nuclear deal approved by Hillary Clinton’s State Department and several other agencies. The agencies approved a contract that authorized the Canadian mining company Uranium One to sell uranium deposits to the Russian state-owned nuclear company ROSATOM.
The Hill last year reported that the FBI had uncovered evidence suggesting Russian entities had bribed interested parties prior to the sale.
The lobbying firm APCO Worldwide in a statement to the Hill refuted suggestions of impropriety.
“APCO Worldwide’s activities involving client work on behalf of Tenex (a ROSATOM subsidiary) and The Clinton Global Initiative were totally separate and unconnected in any way,” the firm said. “All actions on these two unconnected activities were appropriate, publicly documented from the outset and consistent with regulations and the law. Any assertion otherwise is false and unfounded.”
Clinton has dismissed reports about the scandal as part of a Republican witch hunt and many of her fellow Democrats have said the probe is designed to distract the public from investigations into allegations of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Clinton spokesperson Nick Merill echoed similar sentiments in a statement provided to The Hill.
“Just yesterday the committee made clear that this secret informant charade was just that, a charade. Along with the widely debunked text-message-gate and Nunes’ embarrassing memo episode, we have a trifecta of GOP-manufactured scandals designed to distract from their own President’s problems and the threat to democracy he poses,” he said.
WASHINGTON — CASA, the nation’s largest advocacy group for Latino immigrants, said that its legal department will start today handling appointments and paperwork for the federal program known as DACA, which grants temporary protection from deportation to hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants brought to the U.S. as children.
A federal judge ruled last week that President Donald Trump acted improperly by planning to end DACA in March, according to USA Today.
But Trump tweeted: “DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military.”
Both GOP and Democratic members who are working on DACA say there is bipartisan support for it.
A conservative columnist said President Trump called friends to brag after the meeting in which the president reportedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “s…hole countries.”
Erick Erickson, who has in the past been critical of Trump, said in a tweet, “It’s weird that people in the room don’t remember Trump using that word when Trump himself was calling friends to brag about it afterwards.”
Erickson added, “I spoke to one of those friends. The president thought it would play well with the base.”
Trump joined two Republican senators in disputing that he made derogatory comments during a meeting on immigration last week.
Later Trump told reporters “I am not a racist” and denied reports that he referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “s…hole countries.”
Trump said: ” I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”
Trump vs. the Wall Street Journal
President Trump’s latest “fake news” call is against the Wall Street Journal, according to USA Today.
The newspaper quoted Trump as saying, “I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea,” the country’s leader.
Trump says he said “I’d” — a contraction for “I would” — that changes the meaning of what he said. In the Wall Street Journal version, Trump and Kim are friendly. In Trump’s version, such a relationship might be possible under some other circumstance.
The Wall Street Journal isn’t backing down.
In its own tweet, the newspaper said, “We have reviewed the audio from our interview with President Trump, as well as the transcript provided by an external service, and stand by what we reported.”
Pope urges communities to welcome immigrants, refugees
During a special Mass on Sunday, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis urged communities to welcome migrants and refugees.
Francis said that while both established communities and immigrants may have fears of the other, it was important to welcome migrants and to help them integrate into communities, HuffPost reported.
Francis said, “Local communities are sometimes afraid that the newly arrived will disturb the established order, will ‘steal’ something they have long labored to build up.”
He added that the “newly arrived…are afraid of confrontation, judgment, discrimination, failure.”
On the day before Martin Luther King’s birthday, churchgoers said President Trump’s denigration of immigrants was one more turn toward an uglier past in America.
GOP targets employer health insurance mandate
The GOP wiped out the Affordable Care Act individual mandate that employees have health care coverage and is now targeting the requirement that employers offer coverage to their employees, according to The New York Times.
Many employers are cheering the effort.
James Klein, president of the American Benefits Council, an influential lobby for companies such as Dow Chemical, Microsoft, and BP, the oil producer, said the individual mandate and the employer mandate are “inextricably entwined.”
He added, “It is inequitable to leave the employer mandate in place.”
GOP Reps. Devin Nunes of California and Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania recently introduced a bill, supported by GOP leaders, to suspend the mandate.
Said Kelly, “The employer mandate is a job-killer, a wage-killer, and a business-killer.”
Celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
About 42 percent of American employers will be closed today in observance of the civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, according to an annual survey by Bloomberg Law. The U.S. stock market is closed, as it is for the slightly less popular President’s Day.
Charles Anderson, chief executive officer of the Urban League of Detroit and Southeastern Michigan, said in an interview, “I would suppose that there’s more recognition for the need of diversity and the need to recognize the sensitivity of certain holidays.”
A fight for racial equality has taken on new urgency in parts of the U.S. as President Trump has focused on restricting immigration, particularly for non-white people, and made comments seen as sympathetic to white nationalists. On Thursday, the day before he welcomed African-American leaders to the White House to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Trump came under fire for reportedly disparaging immigrants from Africa and Haiti.
Trump tweeted Friday: “I encourage all Americans to observe this day with appropriate civic, community, and service activities in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy.”
GOP Senators enthusiastic about Romney run
Senate Republicans are eager for Mitt Romney to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah with some hoping he will emerge as an independent counterweight to President Trump.
The midterm election is shaping up as a referendum on Trump’s first two years in office — a dynamic that could endanger GOP control of the Senate, given that the president’s approval rating has hovered around 35 percent.
Some Senate Republicans worry that Trump is coloring the GOP brand in a way that could hurt their party’s prospects, even though they largely support his agenda and are thrilled about his role in helping to pass a major tax bill.
Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, the most outspoken of Trump’s critics in the Senate GOP conference, said Romney would “offer a different vision, a more traditional Republican vision” if he came to the Senate.
Government shutdown looms… again
Time is running out for Congress to avert a government shutdown amid fragile bipartisan negotiations for an immigration deal, according to The Hill.
Current government funding runs out after Friday, meaning lawmakers have only three days to figure out how to avoid a damaging shutdown when they recovene Tuesday..
GOP leaders said they expect to pass another short-term patch, known as a continuing resolution (CR), which would be the fourth since September.
But corralling the votes for yet another CR will be difficult, given the consternation among both Republicans and Democrats to support it without conditions.
GOP defense hawks are loath to vote for another CR without a long-term budget deal in place for the Pentagon. Lawmakers from states ravaged by recent natural disasters are also pushing for federal aid that was sidelined last month.
Democratic lawmakers don’t want to help GOP leaders keep the government open without an agreement that ensures protections for 800,000 young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Those immigrants could soon be at risk of deportation because President Trump announced it would phase out the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Ford to bite the Bullitt again… Mustang that is
The Mustang that actor Steve McQueen drove into Hollywood history for the 1968 movie Bullitt emerged for the first time in 40 years at the Detroit auto show in tandem with the debut of a new, limited-edition 2019 Mustang Bullitt.
The special model, due out this summer, will be available only in Shadow Black or Dark Highland Green. It has a 5-liter V-8 engine that packs at least 475 horsepower and tops out at 163 miles per hour – an 8 mph increase over the latest Mustang GT.
Like the original Bullitt car, the third-generation vehicle lacks stripes, spoilers or badges.
Chief designer Darrell Behmer says, “It doesn’t need to scream about anything. It’s just cool.”
The all-new Mustang Bullitt is equipped with manual transmission, and the gear shifter features a white cue ball shift knob as a nod to the original. Standard equipment reflects a new era, with a heated leather steering wheel and high-tech amenities.
Trump on Hawaii false missile alarm
President Trump made his first public comments since the false alarm of a ballistic missile heading toward Hawaii, saying he thought it was “terrific” that the state took responsibility for the error.
Trump said Sunday, “That was a state thing, but we are going to now get involved with them. I love that they took responsibility. They took total responsibility.”
He added, “But we are going to get involved.
The false alert sparked mass confusion and panic across the state when it was sent Saturday. State officials took nearly 40 minutes to correct the alarm.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige said the false alert was sent when an employee accidentally pushed the wrong button during a shift change.
Vern Miyagi, who oversees the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (EMA), said the employee, who made the mistake, feels “terrible” and has been reassigned.
The White House said that the alert was “purely a state exercise” although officials in Hawaiii said the incident was an accidental.
The alert came amid heightened tensions with North Korea. Trump has repeatedly threatened the country since taking office over its nuclear weapons tests.
Whistleblower Chelsea Manning gears up for Senate race
Chelsea Manning has released the first campaign ad in her bid for a Maryland Senate seat.
The transgender activist and former soldier filed to run for Senate on Thursday, and confirmed the bid with a campaign ad she posted to Twitter on Sunday.
The whistleblower was sentenced to 35 years for releasing confidential military and State Department documents, but former President Barack Obama commuted her sentence to seven years, leading to her release in 2017. Manning has been a visible activist for LGBTQ rights and other causes since her release. She would become the first openly transgender member of Congress if elected to the Senate.
Manning will run against Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland in the November Democratic primary.
“We live in trying times. Times of fear, of suppression, hate,” Manning says as images of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and protesters clashing with police are shown.
She continues: “We don’t need more or better leaders, we need someone willing to fight.
The ad then shows images of lawmakers, including Democrats meeting with President Trump.
Manning says, “We need to stop expecting that our systems will somehow fix themselves, we need to actually take the reins of power from them…. We need to challenge this at every level. We need to fix this. We don’t need them anymore, we can do better.”
She ends with her well-known hashtag #WeGotThis.
Vigil held for mudslide victims
Thousands of mourners gathered Sunday night to remember the 20 victims killed in last week’s devastating mudslides in Montecito, and to give thanks to rescue workers still painstakingly picking through the debris fields.
Four people are still missing, and authorities now say at least 73 homes have been destroyed, with hundreds of more buildings damaged.
The slides, caused by heavy rains falling on the burn scar left by December’s Thomas fire, ripped homes in half, tore others from their foundations, and in some cases filled what was left with a stinking mass of ash and mud. Even U.S. Highway 101, a six-lane coastal highway, remains closed indefinitely.
Car hacking is a real threat
BlackBerry CEO John Chen is scheduled to speak at the Detroit auto show today and announce a new cybersecurity product aimed at protecting data collected and processed by connected and autonomous vehicles.
Automakers are making progress in protecting vehicles from cyber-attacks, but the threat is still real and could get more serious in the future when driverless cars begin talking with each other.
A worst-case scenario? Imagine hackers infiltrating a vehicle through an infotainment system before taking control of the car’s driving features.
GOP fears Democratic Midterm WAVE
A raft of retirements, difficulty recruiting candidates and President Trump’s low approval rating and his continuing pattern of throwing his party off message have prompted new alarm among Republicans that they could be facing a Democratic electoral wave in November, according to The Washington Post.
The concern has grown so acute that Trump received what one congressional aide described as a “sobering” slide presentation about the difficult midterm landscape at Camp David, leading the president to pledge a robust schedule of fundraising and campaign travel in the coming months, White House officials said.
A conservative political strategist who has met with GOP candidates says, “When the wave comes, it’s always underestimated in the polls. That is the reason that Republicans are ducking for cover.”
Other indicators are clearly flashing GOP warning signs. Democrats have benefited from significant recruitment advantages — there are at least a half-dozen former Army Rangers and Navy SEALs running as Democrats this year, for example — as Republicans struggle to convince incumbents to run for reelection.
Flake to condemn Trump’s criticism of news media
GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona plans to give a speech in the coming days that compares President Trump’s public criticism of the news media to similar comments once made by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, according to The Washington Post.
A spokesman said that Flake, who will retire after this year amid intense political pressure sparked by his criticism of the president, plans to deliver the speech Wednesday before Trump announces the winners of his self-described “fake news” awards.
Trump announced via Twitter that he would be handing out awards Wednesday to news outlets he thought unfairly covered him.
Flake continues to be one of Trump’s most frequent critics, often speaking out to warn that the president’s words and actions could be detrimental to the future of the Republican Party and the nation’s standing worldwide..
GOP’s brutal Arizona primary fight
Republicans hoping to hold on to the Arizona Senate seat currently held by GOP Sen. Jeff Flake face an increasingly tumultuous primary environment, with firebrand former sheriff Joe Arpaio entering the race from the right and Rep. Martha McSally trying to win over President Trump’s supporters without alienating more moderate general election voters.
Arpaio’s entry changes the calculus of a race that could become one of the more brutal primaries in the country.
Arpaio, whose criminal contempt conviction Trump pardoned last year, came just days before McSally joined the primary. Arpaio made his name as an immigration hard-liner and promoter of the discredited conspiracy theory that former President Obama wasn’t born in the United States, but McSally is the party establishment pick meant to appeal in the general election.
McSally doesn’t have a clear path in the late August primary for the seat that opened when Flake announced his retirement. Former GOP state Sen. Kelli Ward was originally the only candidate running from the right, but new polling shows Arpaio close to McSally while siphoning off Ward’s conservative supporters.
S—hole” projected on President Trump’s D.C. hotel
“Pay Trump bribes here,” “emoluments welcome” and “we are all responsible to stand up and end white supremacy” along with “S…hole” were projected onto the Trump International Hotel several blocks away from the White House.
Trump has faced intense backlash for calling Haiti, El Salvador and African nations “s—hole countries” during an Oval Office meeting on immigration this week.
Trump reportedly said, and the White House initially did not deny Trump’s remarks, ““Why are we having all these people from sh–hole countries come here before suggesting that the U.S. bring in more immigrants from countries like Norway.
Trump later disputed the reports on Twitter.
Lawmakers, media figures and world leaders have all decried Trump’s comments. The African Union, representing all 55 African countries, demanded Saturday that Trump apologize for the remarks.
Former Defense Secretary Hagel rips Trump
Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel tore into President Trump after the president reportedly referred to Haiti and African nations as “sh..hole countries.”
Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, told the Lincoln Journal Star, “Donald Trump is doing great damage to our country internationally.”
Hagel, a decorated Vietnam War veteran who expressed disgust with Trump’s treatment of the families of slain soldiers, noted that lawmakers take an oath of office to the Constitution when they assume office.
He said, “We take an oath of office not to a president, not to a party, not to a philosophy, but to the Constitution of the United States.”.
He said he believes the U.S. and the world have started “a defining year, a year of volatility and uncertainty and great danger.”
He said, “We have not really seen these kinds of times since Watergate and Vietnam.”
Trump’s ‘Fake News Awards’ could violate ethics rules
President Trump’s much-ballyhooed “Fake News Awards” has drawn attention from ethics experts who say the event could run afoul of White House rules and, depending on what exactly the president says during his Wednesday announcement, the First Amendment, according to Politico.
The White House has not yet said what form the awards presentation may take. But Norman Eisen, the former special counsel for ethics for President Barack Obama, and Walter Shaub, the former head of the Office of Government Ethics, have both tweeted that if White House staff members were involved, they would be in violation of the executive branch’s Standards of Ethical Conduct, which ban employees from using their office for “the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise.”
Richard Painter, an ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, agreed, telling Politico that there are plenty of valid reasons for executive branch employees to use their position to criticize private enterprises — if a bus company were violating federal safety regulations, for instance — but that helping put on an event to bash the media would not qualify.
2018 midterms—all-out war
The 2018 congressional midterm elections are on the verge of turning into an all-out war, and one of the most powerful Republican-led super PACs is preparing to take aim at 10 states as they try to maintain a majority in the U.S. Senate, FOX Business has learned.
The Senate Majority Leadership Fund, a PAC dedicated to keeping the Senate in the hands of Republicans, is planning to focus its efforts on removing Senate Democrat incumbents from many of the states that President Trump won during the 2016 election, with their top targets being West Virginia, North Dakota, Montana, Indiana, Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio and Florida, according to sources close to the PAC.
They also plan to protect Senate seats in Nevada and Arizona, which are already held by GOP Senators Dean Heller of Nevada and retiring Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, according to those same sources.
The PAC’s blueprint includes unleashing a bevy of attack ads against the eight Democrat incumbents: Joe Manchin of Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Carolina, Joe Tester of Montana., Joe Donnelly of Indiana Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota., Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Bill Nelson of Florida.
The ads will focus on these Democrats voting against the tax reform bill and will attempt to label them as obstructionists, a title many in the GOP have come to give those who they claim turned against the Republican agenda, according to those familiar with the decision making.
Possible GOP push to get U.S. environmentalists to register as foreign agents
U.S. environmental activists who are working to halt the production and use of fossil fuels could be required to register as foreign agents if Congress gets serious about enforcing an existing law, according to Fox News.
GOP Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa introduced legislation that would put strengthen the Foreign Agents Registration Act and some see that as an effort to corral environmentalists who oppose U.S. expansion of fossil fuels, which could be helping foreign governments.
The law, which was first passed in 1938, calls for individuals and organizations to provide full disclosure when they are working to advance the public policy interests of a foreign government.
As the Washington Examiner reported, Grassley’s proposed legislation would close off an exemption that has allowed lobbyists for foreign interests to avoid registration while providing the U.S. attorney general with additional authority to conduct investigations.
State legislatures double down to restore net neutrality
are waging their own fight to restore net neutrality rules after the Federal Communications Commission moved to scrap them last month.
Lawmakers in at least six state governments have introduced legislation to preserve the rules, and legislators in other states are in the process of considering their own net neutrality bills.
The push comes after the FCC voted in December in favor of Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to roll back the regulations, which prevented internet service providers like AT&T and Verizon from slowing down certain content or requiring websites to pay for faster speeds.
To date, California, Washington, New York, Rhode Island, Nebraska and Massachusetts have all introduced net neutrality. North Carolina and Illinois are mulling similar legislation.
Other state lawmakers across the country are pursuing similar legislation in the hopes that their regulations would force internet service providers to apply net neutrality rules nationwide.
Lawmakers in these states say the bills have been inspired by frustration at an FCC that they feel has ignored the public, which overwhelmingly supports net neutrality.
Norway… Coming to America
Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship is heading to New York.
A top executive at the Miami-based cruise line revealed that the soon-to-debut, 4,000-passenger Norwegian Bliss would operate out of the Big Apple for several months starting in November 2019.
The deployment will come after Bliss’ inaugural seasons in Alaska and the Caribbean. The vessel is scheduled to debut in April, according to USA Today.
At 167,800 tons, Bliss will rank among the 10 largest cruise vessels in the world. Designed to have all the trappings of a major mega-resort, Bliss will feature such over-the-top amusements as a two-deck-high racing course where passengers compete against each other in electric go-carts — a first for a vessel based in North America.
Bliss also will have a sprawling water park with multi-story water slides; a restaurant-lined boardwalk; Tony Award-winning production shows including Jersey Boys, and a giant spa. Dining options will include a modern Texas barbecue eatery called Q that will feature live pop country music — a new concept for the line.
Ivana Trump says president is confused, but not a racist
Donald Trump’s ex-wife said he is not racist but may say “silly things” because he is confused by the conflicting advice he receives.
Ivana Trump told “Good Morning Britain” today that contrary to the criticism that flooded the media after the president was accused of using “hate-filled, vile and racist” language in the Oval Office after he reportedly criticized immigrants coming to the United States from “s—hole countries.”
She said: “I don’t think Donald is racist at all. Sometimes he says things which are silly, and he does not really mean them, but he definitely is not racist.”
She added, “He has so many people telling him left and right what to say, what not to say, and maybe it gets confusing.”
GOP satisfaction with U.S. direction highest since 2007
Republicans’ satisfaction with the direction of the U.S. is at its highest point since 2007, according to a new poll reported in an article in The Hill.
A Gallup poll finds that 61 percent of Republicans are satisfied with the direction of the country.
About one in four Republicans say they are very satisfied, and 36 percent are somewhat satisfied.
However, nearly one-quarter of Republicans say they are somewhat dissatisfied with the direction of the country and 15 percent say they are very dissatisfied.
Just 7 percent of Democrats in the new survey say they are satisfied with the country’s direction. Sixty-eight percent say they are very dissatisfied and another 25 percent say they are somewhat dissatisfied.
Among all Americans, 29 percent are satisfied with the direction of the country and 69 percent are dissatisfied.
Metrorail train derailment in capital
No injuries are reported after a Metrorail train derailed early today in downtown Washington, D.C.
Authorities say 63 people were on board the train.
The Red Line train derailed between Farragut North and Metro Center.
Maryland executive indicted in Uranium One deal
A grand jury reportedly brought charges in the Uranium One investigation against a man who investigators say tried to bribe a Russian official at the country’s state-run nuclear energy corporation, according to The Hill.
Mark Lambert, former head of a Maryland-based transportation company, was indicted on 11 counts of money laundering and wire fraud, according to the New York Post.
The Uranium One investigation centers on the Obama administration’s clearing of a business deal that allowed a Russian nuclear firm to buy a Canadian uranium mining company with assets in the U.S.
Trump ‘inflames’ congressional differences
Coons said on CNN’s “New Day” during a discussion about President Trump’s reported use of derogatory language to describe Haiti and some African nations at a White House meeting with lawmakers: “It’s disappointing that this has dissolved into a fight over who said what at that meeting.”
He said, “What matters more is what we do next because it’s going to get even harder now for us to come together and reach any sort of an agreement on DACA,” the program that Trump ended which protects immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
Trump told Congress to work out a solution for recipients.
Coons added, “We’ve got a federal government that shuts down … this Friday, if we can’t come to an agreement,” Coons added. “And it’s just getting harder when we have a president who rather than tamping down our distances and disagreements, fans them and inflames them.”
WASHINGTON- President Donald Trump in a Friday morning tweet said former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton may have colluded with Russian interests.
It is now commonly agreed, after many months of COSTLY looking, that there was NO collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2017
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Tuesday said Congress will investigate reports of a bribery scandal connected to an Obama-era uranium deal with Russia.
The Hill last week reported that the FBI had uncovered evidence suggesting Russian entities had bribed interested parties prior to the Clinton State Department and other agencies approving a 2010 contract that allowed the Canadian mining company Uranium One to sell uranium deposits to the Russian state-owned nuclear company ROSATOM.
Reports suggest some ROSATOM investors may have had financial ties to the Clinton Foundation.
Justice Department spokesperson Ian Prior announced Wednesday evening that DOJ had released the FBI informant who helped uncover the scandal from the terms of the non-disclosure agreement he had signed with the Obama Justice Department.
“As of tonight, the Department of Justice has authorized the informant to disclose to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as one member of each of their staffs, any information or documents he has concerning alleged corruption or bribery involving transactions in the uranium market,” Prior said in the statement.
Clinton has dismissed reports about the scandal as a part of a Republican witch hunt.