Quick Morning News

Quick Morning News
Shimon Peres Dies, 93 (BBC, AP, Politico, me)
• Former Israeli PM and president, Shimon Peres, died early today, aged 93. He suffered a stroke two weeks ago and his condition improved before a sudden deterioration on Tuesday. His son Chemi led tributes to “one of the founding fathers of the state of Israel” who “worked tirelessly” for it – developing
• Peres, who was one of the last of a generation of Israeli politicians present at the new nation’s birth in 1948, served twice as the country’s prime minister and once as president. He won the Nobel Peace price in 1994 for his role negotiating peace accords with the Palestinians a year earlier (his life and career are beautifully portrayed in this NYT obit)
• PM Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video statement today, “As a man of vision, his gaze was aimed to the future. As a man of security, he fortified Israel’s strength in many ways, some of which even today are still unknown. As a man of peace, he worked until his final days toward reconciling with our neighbors for a better future for our children.”


• Israel’s foreign ministry said a long list of world leaders will attend Peres’ funeral on Friday. President Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Pope Francis, Prince Charles and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau are all expected. A former aide to Peres said his body will lie in state at the Knesset on Thursday before a state funeral at the country’s national cemetery in Jerusalem on Friday
• Obama called Peres his “dear friend” in a lengthy statement, and said, “He was guided by a vision of the human dignity and progress that he knew people of goodwill could advance together.” Peres’ son-in-law, Dr Rafi Walden, said early today his family had an emotional conversation with Obama, adding the family was “very moved.”
• Former President George H.W. Bush said, “Time and again he helped guide his beloved country through the crucible of mortal challenge. But it was by his innate humanity, his decency, that Shimon inspired the world over and helped pave a path to peace broad enough that future generations will walk it one day, side-by side.” (he was a giant)

Day After Debate: Trump Bemoans (Reuters, Hill, Politico, NYT, WaPo, TMN, TMN, me)

• A defensive Donald Trump lashed out at debate moderator Lester Holt, complained about his mic and threatened to make Bill Clinton’s marital infidelity a campaign issue in a TV appearance just hours after his first presidential debate with Hillary Clinton. He also insisted he had “no sniffles.” (clearly, he did – btw, note to Howard Dean – cut it out with the coke references)
• And defying conventions of civility and political common sense, Trump leveled cutting personal criticism at a Miss Universe pageant winner, held up by Clinton in Monday night’s debate as an example of her opponent’s disrespect for women. Trump insisted on Fox News that he had been right to disparage beauty queen Alicia Machado for her physique
• “She was the winner and she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem,” said Trump, who was the pageant’s executive producer at the time. “Not only that – her attitude. And we had a real problem with her.” (that’s right, insult the majority of American women, who, unlike your third wife, are at least a size 12-16. and – got a problem with Latinas with “attitude?”)
• Clinton mentioned Machado by name, quoting insults that Machado has attributed to Trump and noting that Machado had become a citizen to vote in the 2016 election. During the debate, he showed disbelief at the charge that he had ridiculed Machado, asking Clinton repeatedly and furiously, “Where did you find this? Where did you find this?” He didn’t deny it (how could he?)
• When Machado gained 12-15 lbs after winning the title, Trump publicly shamed her by forcing her to go to the gym and accompanying her. Dozens of reporters and cameramen watched as she exercised. Trump posed for photos beside her. “This is somebody who likes to eat,” Trump said from inside the gym. (bullying) Machado battled shame and eating disorders for years
• According to Nielsen, an average of 81.4 million people watched Monday night’s debate, a record. Trump told reporters “sure,” when asked whether he would show up at the next two debates. “Well, I’m gonna show up,” Clinton told reporters, adding even if she was the only person on the stage. The next debate is 9 Oct at Washington University in St Louis
• Sixty percent of Americans in an ABC News/WaPo poll this month said they thought Trump was biased against women and minorities. Clinton said Tuesday that Trump has raised “offensive and off-putting” views. “The real point is about temperament and fitness and qualification to hold the most important, hardest job in the world,” she said (danger for Clinton is getting cocky)
• Referring to Clinton, Trump said on Fox that in the next debate he might “hit her harder,” perhaps raising the issues of “her husband’s women.” “I really eased up because I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings,” he said, saying that Chelsea Clinton was in the room. (rubbish – Chelsea’s on the planet, too) “He can run his campaign however he chooses,” Clinton said Tuesday
• Trump offered mild praise of Holt, but, “You know, when you look at it, you watch the last four questions, he hit me on birther. He hit me on a housing deal from many years ago that I settled with no recourse and no guilt. He asked me about that.” Actually, it was Clinton who raised the 1973 housing discrimination lawsuit against Trump’s company (but Holt did ask more follows of Trump)
• It was remarkable how many subjects Trump decided to skip in the debate. He made no mention of Clinton’s handling of the Benghazi attacks. He scarcely alluded to his aggressive seal the borders stance on immigration, a hallmark of his campaign. He didn’t mention the Clinton Foundation controversies or her ties to Wall Street (he can’t blame Holt for his own mistakes – oh – he can…)

• Hillary Clinton will today score the high-powered Republican endorsement today of retired Sen John Warner (R-Va), a popular maverick with renowned military credentials. A WWII veteran, former Navy secretary and former chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Warner will announce his support at an event with Sen Time Kaine (D-Va) in Alexandria
Microphone Spat
• Trump also skipped any mention of Clinton’s decision to label some of his supporters “deplorable.” And even as she skewered him for misleading about his position on the war in Iraq, he made only a passing mention of the fact that Clinton voted to go to war in the first place (will be astonishing if he blows these chances in the town hall debate – he should shine there, feed off audience)
• Trump also peddled a conspiracy theory that his mic had been tampered with. “My microphone was terrible. I wonder was it set up that way on purpose?” Trump asked on Fox (he said the mic was the reason for the snorting and snuffling sounds – but that wouldn’t account for why his nose twitched at the exact same time as he snuffled – bit like rooting for truffles)
• Clinton reveled in Trump’s squirming. Buoyant from the prior night, she gaggled with reporters on her plane and landed a zinger about Trump’s mic theory. “Anybody who complains about the microphone is not having a good night,” Clinton quipped as she walked away from reporters (more like a sashay, actually, it sounds like)
• At a rally in Raleigh, NC, Clinton again slammed Trump for not releasing his taxes. “Last night he actually bragged about gaming the system to get out of paying his fair share of taxes,” she said. “If not paying taxes makes him smart, what does that make all the rest of us? Clinton said to applause (undecideds didn’t like that Trump said that – his base would like it)
• During a rally in Melbourne, Fla, Tuesday night, Trump declared himself the unquestionable winner of the debate, then relived the entire debate before a Florida crowd of supporters, this time with the help of a teleprompter – and without Clinton baiting him (but there’s no teleprompter at the town hall, nor at the third debate – will he prepare? watch to see if he takes time to do it)
• Breaking with 126 years of tradition, the uber-conservative Arizona Republic has endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton for president. It’s the first time in history the newspaper has endorsed a Democrat and not a Republican. It says Donald Trump is “not conservative and not qualified,” but acknowledges Clinton “has flaws. She has made serious missteps.”
Post-Debate: Pols Weigh In (Hill, Politico, Politico, Politico, TMN, me)
• President Obama unloaded on Donald Trump during a radio interview with Ryan Seacrest on Tuesday. Trump said Hillary Clinton is “serious and does her homework. ” He blasted Trump for not having the “preparations and the temperament or the core values of inclusion and making everybody, you know, have opportunities that would take our country forward.”
• VP Joe Biden, speaking in Philadelphia, slammed Trump. “Can you imagine Ronald Reagan, the most conservative president we’ve ever had in a long time, can you imagine him saying, ‘It’s good business to take advantage of people’s misery,’ rooting for that misery? I really mean this. I am not joking. I am not kidding. What does it say about this man?” (riled up, ready to go)
• Top Trump adviser and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani said, “If I were Donald Trump I wouldn’t participate in another debate unless I was promised that the journalist would act like a journalist and not an incorrect, ignorant fact-checker.” He clarified, “I didn’t say what I’m advising him, I said what I would do.” (will be interesting to see if this develops into anything)
• House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) said in a presser that Trump gave a “spirited argument” in the debate and “passed a number of thresholds, which show that for 90 minutes, he could go toe-to-toe with Hillary Clinton.” He said that Trump gave a “unique Donald Trump response to the status quo.” (is that the standard? Poor Paul. rock and hard place)
• Taliban leaders watched the debate from a secret location in Afghanistan, spox Zabihullah Mujahid told NBC. “We were very interested in watching,” he said. But, “there’s nothing of interest to us in the debate, as both of them said little about Afghanistan and their future plans for the country.” Mujahid called Trump “non-serious.” (gosh! Clinton = Your Taliban Candidate?)

• Cited and fined $136! Washington state guy with a giant Donald Trump cardboard cutout head affixed to his front passenger seat headrest so he could very naughtily sneak into the HOV lane – where he was nabbed by a state motorcycle trooper. Note to readers: Don’t try this at home, it’s been done… (WaPo)

Govt Shutdown? Potential Deal Emerges (Politico, Hill, TMN, me)

• In a series of three-way discussions on Tuesday night, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) worked to forge a compromise to extend govt funding to 9 Dec as the 30 Sept deadline approaches (ie Friday midnight – taking bets, how close to the deadline will we go? Friday…)
• Pelosi and Ryan agreed that Republicans would provide an “iron-clad commitment” that funding to address the water crisis in Flint, Mich, will be included in the Water Resources Development Act, which covers hundreds of federal water projects. The water resources bill could head to the House floor as early as today
• Pelosi and other Democrats had refused to support any continuing resolution – CR – to keep the govt open without the Flint funding. Ryan, for his part, faced problems rounding up GOP votes for a short-term funding bill. A deal was expected soon to break the impasse. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) had been making his own insistence for Flint aid clear
• Earlier, Senate Republicans had been considering stripping Louisiana disaster aid money from the stalled stopgap spending bill, which might have resolved Democratic objections. The proposal came after Democrats voted Tuesday to reject the stopgap spending measure because the package provides money for Louisiana and other states – but did nothing for Flint
• Meanwhile, House leaders reached a deal to potentially include emergency funding for lead-contaminated communities like Flint in a House waterways bill, in a move to stave off a govt shutdown. The House Rules Committee agreed late Tuesday night to allow a floor vote on a bipartisan amendment to authorize up to $170 million for communities facing a drinking water crisis
Wells Fargo: Claw Back from Top Execs (Reuters, NYT, WSJ, me)
• Wells Fargo said on Tuesday that CEO John Stumpf will forfeit unvested equity worth about $41 million and will not get a salary while the company’s board investigates the bank’s sales practices. The penalties mark a sharp change from a few years ago when despite scandals at large banks, no CEO had to give back a bonus. Stumpf is before a House committee Thursday (snaxx)
• Carrie Tolstedt, former head of the retail division at the center of a growing sales scandal, has left the company ahead of her planned 31 Dec retirement date, will get no severance and has forfeited unvested equity awards worth about $19 million, the bank said. Stumpf and Tolstedt will also not receive bonuses for 2016 (big deal – worth millions already – how about handcuffs?)
• Wells Fargo, the U.S.’ third-largest bank by assets, is under pressure to show it is holding its top brass accountable after govt investigations revealed that some of its employees opened up as many as 2 million accounts and 565,000 credit card accounts without customers’ knowledge in order to meet sales targets. The company will pay $185 million in penalties and fines
• The company’s failure to claw back exec bonuses was a big feature at Stumpf’s appearance before a Senate bank Committee hearing last week. “You should resign, you should give back the money,” said Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) “And you should be criminally prosecuted.” (it’s emerging that the bank fired whistleblowers – workers who tried to put a stop to it)
• The company has fired about 5,300 employees, most of them low-ranking staff, in connection with the scandal. A special committee of the bank’s independent directors will lead an investigation into the sales practices. Meanwhile, the Justice Dept is investigating, and customers, shareholders and former employees have filed their own lawsuits against the company (pitchforks…)

Veto Override Vote on 9/11 Bill Today (Politico, Hill, me)

• Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz) will vote today to override President Obama’s veto of legislation – Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act – that would allow families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia – defying warnings from military officials that it could put U.S. troops at risk (he’s up for reelection, after all)

• House Armed Services Committee chair Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) has circulated a letter urging Republicans to sustain Obama’s veto, while close friend Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has also voiced concerns and worked behind the scenes on potential tweaks to the bill – but with little success

• The vote is expected to easily clinch the two-thirds support from Congress needed to override a presidential veto. It would be Obama’s first veto overridden by Congress. SecState John Kerry has had several conversations with Foreign Relations Committee chair Sen Bob Corker (R-Tenn), who has been one of the senators most skeptical of the bill

• Gen Joe Dunford, the top U.S. military official, wrote Tuesday of his concerns for U.S. service members and “risks to the close security cooperation relationships” with allies. SecDef Ash Carter fired off another warning to Congress, arguing the legislation has “potentially harmful consequences for the Dept of Defense and its personnel.” (but huge pressure from victims’ families)

• Sen Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a co-sponsor of JASTA, said he has second thoughts about the law becoming a reality. “I have to say, I don’t think we had enough time to consider all the ramifications. There are a lot of ramifications.” (which way will he jump – head or heart?)

Aleppo: New Govt Ground Assault Campaign (Reuters, BBC, Reuters, me)

• Syrian govt forces and their allies from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon attacked the opposition-held sector of Aleppo on several fronts on Tuesday, the biggest ground assault yet in a massive new campaign that has destroyed a U.S.-backed ceasefire. A military official earlier said that the offensive will not halt until insurgents are “wiped out.” (insurgents apparently = small children now)

• On the ground in Aleppo on Tuesday, govt forces were reportedly making advances in the center of the city, attacking rebel-held districts on four fronts and also mobilizing armored vehicles and tanks. Russian-backed Syrian govt forces launched an all-out assault on the east of Aleppo last Thursday after the truce collapsed

• The World Health Organization wants safe routes to be set up immediately to evacuate sick and wounded Syrians from besieged parts of the city. A spox said there were only 35 doctors left to care for hundreds of patients trapped in the rebel-held east, and that the number was rising. Medical supplies were running out, and there is a shortage of blood. Surgery without anesthetic

• The State Dept said Tuesday it was providing an additional $364 million in humanitarian assistance to help Syrians caught up in the country’s civil war, bringing total U.S. humanitarian spending for Syria to about $5.9 billion. The funding would help provide food, shelter, safe drinking water, medical care and other support for Syrian refugees and the communities that host them

• State Dept spox Mark Toner said the push for additional humanitarian aid funds came in part because of deteriorating conditions in Aleppo. He said the U.S. continued to seek a diplomatic resolution. “We’ll continue to weigh all options. Those discussions are ongoing. I don’t want to rule anything out, but right now we’re focused on the diplomatic one,” Toner said

• It’s really great that $364 million is being provided by the U.S. in humanitarian assistance for Syria. If it’s for Syrian refugees and the communities that host them, it’s not going to do much good to the besieged residents of Aleppo who are suffering and dying. If some of it is for Aleppo, how is it going to get in? Walk? Fly? Amazon drones? Bicycles? There’s a war on… – vj

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Victoria Jones – Editor
News is news
Comments in ( ) are mine