George W. Bush: Russia meddled in U.S. election

George W. Bush: Russia meddled in U.S. election

By Karen DeWitt   
Published
Former President George W. Bush in shown in Houston last August. (YouTube)

WASHINGTON — Former President George W. Bush said today that there is “clear evidence” of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Bush made the comments while speaking at a summit in Abu Dhabi, according to The Associated Press, at a time when tensions are rising between President Trump and U.S. intelligence agencies over the investigation into Russian meddling.

Bush says, “There’s pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled…Whether they affected the outcome is another question,” adding, “Our democracy is only as good as people trust the results.”

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded last year that Russia interfered in the election, and evidence that Russian operatives used social media platforms to influence voter opinions continues to build.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that Russia is already attempting to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.

 

 

Trump up in polls

President Trump’s approval rating hit 40% in a new Quinnipiac poll, his best score in this survey in seven months, according to CNN.

Bolstered by the strong economy and quickly shifting numbers on the tax cut, the poll states that 51% of voters approve of how Trump is handling the economy, his highest mark on this question since his inauguration.

Seven in 10 American voters, 70%, say the US economy is excellent or good — the best mark on this question since 2001.

Three in four, 75%, have positive views of their own personal financial situations.

This marks the fifth recent national survey to show Trump’s approval rating climbing over the last two months.

Recent Gallup and CNN polls also show Trump at 40%, while recent polling from Fox News and Monmouth has also shown Trump’s scores on the rise.

GOP House fiscal conservatives riled and ready to revolt

House conservatives oppose a massive bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling and bust spending caps, complaining that the GOP can no longer lay claim to be the party of fiscal responsibility.

And they are riled and ready to revolt.  Says GOP Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, one of many members of the Tea Party-aligned Freedom Caucus who left a closed-door meeting of Republicans opposed to the deal, says, “I’m not only a ‘no.’ I’m a ‘hell no’.”

GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and his leadership team will need dozens of Democratic votes to help get the caps-and-funding deal through the lower chamber to avert a government shutdown set for midnight Thursday.

Crypto boom sends Washington scrambling

Federal officials in Washington are scrambling to get a handle on the sudden boom in cryptocurrencies as questions swirl about their place in the financial system, according to The Hill.

The two top U.S. federal agencies for regulating cryptocurrencies both say they want tighter oversight of the currencies, which have exploded in popularity and are increasingly used as an investment vehicle.

The heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trade Commission testified this week that they would like to work with each other, the Federal Reserve and state regulators on a “coordinated” strategy for bringing stability to the lightly regulated cryptocurrency market.

Their effort comes amid a larger push for increased regulation by both the U.S. government and governments around the world.

Drivers drowsy in nearly 10% of accidents, AAA study finds

Drowsy driving plays a role in nearly eight times more severe accidents than federal estimates suggest, according to a study released today by the car and travel group AAA.

By examining dashboard video from 700 accidents, the study found that 9.5% of all crashes involved drowsy drivers. The portion grows to 10.8% in more severe crashes. Federal estimates suggested drowsiness was a factor in only 1% or 2% of crashes.

AAA recommends: Take turns driving with someone else or pull into a rest stop for a 20-minute nap.

North Korea: ‘No intention to meet with the US side’ during Olympics

North Korean state media says today that its officials have no intention of meeting with their U.S. counterparts during the upcoming Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, according to The Hill.

A Korean news agency cites director-general of North Korea’s foreign ministry, Jo Young Sam, as saying, “Explicitly speaking, we have no intention to meet with the U.S. side during the stay in South Korea,” according to Reuters.

Vice President Pence, who will lead the U.S.’s delegation to the winter games, earlier this week did not rule out the possibility of dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington at the competition.

South Korean president to meet North Korean leader’s sister

South Korea’s president plans to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister and other senior North Korean officials when they visit the South this week for the Winter Olympics, his spokesman say, according to the Associated Press.

Kim Yo Jong, believed to be around 30, would be the first member of North Korea’s ruling family to visit the South since the 1950-53 Korean War.

She arrives Friday to attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Games, and will join South Korean President Moon Jae-in for lunch Saturday, presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom says.

It’s highly unlikely that the luncheon will lead to an immediate breakthrough in international tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, but just holding such a meeting seemed unimaginable only a few months ago.

George W. Bush: Russia meddled in U.S. election

Former President George W. Bush said today that there is “clear evidence” of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Bush made the comments while speaking at a summit in Abu Dhabi, according to The Associated Press, at a time when tensions are rising between President Trump and U.S. intelligence agencies over the investigation into Russian meddling.

Bush says, “There’s pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled…Whether they affected the outcome is another question,” adding, “Our democracy is only as good as people trust the results.”

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded last year that Russia interfered in the election, and evidence that Russian operatives used social media platforms to influence voter opinions continues to build.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that Russia is already attempting to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.

Parade! No, not the military one

Remember the Super Bowl? The Eagles’ upset of the Patriots? Philadelphia are honoring the football feat — the team’s first Super Bowl win — with a parade today, according to USA Today.

The parade started at Lincoln Financial Field and finishes, Rocky Balboa-like, at the steps of the Art Museum.

Unlike Rocky, fans may enjoy some Dilly Dilly and free beer along the way. The city is still cleaning up from Sunday’s post-game celebrations that featured flipped cars and climbed poles, and led to eight arrests.

Amazon launches free, 2-hour Whole Foods deliveries in 4 cities

Amazon introduces free, two-hour delivery from Whole Foods stores today to its Prime members in neighborhoods of Dallas and Austin in Texas as well as Cincinnati and Virginia Beach, Va.

Stephenie Landry, vice president of Prime Now, Amazon Fresh and Amazon Restaurants, says Amazon Prime customers in those cities will be able to order fresh produce, meat, seafood, flowers and most, but not all, items that their local Whole Foods stores stock, according to USA Today.

Prime members in those cities can to go their accounts on the Amazon website or via its Prime Now app, which features two-hour delivery items, and type in their ZIP code to see if the service is available where they live.

More Russians than ever at National Prayer Breakfast

President Trump attended the National Prayer Breakfast today, a prime networking opportunity for Beltway insiders, this year, including with dozens of Russians.

As many as 60 representatives from Russia’s religious and political elite were expected to attend, more than three times last year’s number, according to Russian officials, reports CNN.

The spike in the number of Russians attending the event compared to last year comes amid multiple ongoing investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia as well as continued fallout from Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The breakfast is organized by a nonprofit religious organization and designed to bring together leaders from the political, religious and business realm, on behalf of the U.S. Congress.

Eagles quarterback speaks at National Prayer Breakfast

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz delivered the keynote speech at the National Prayer Breakfast today.

GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota says Wentz, who attended North Dakota State University, is the replacement for Vice President Pence at the event.

Pence is unable to attend because he is in South Korea to lead the U.S. delegation at the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.

Wentz quarterbacked the Eagles to a No. 1 seed in the NFC last season but tore his ACL late in the regular season and watched from the sideline as backup Nick Foles led Philadelphia to a Super Bowl victory Sunday.

Preparing for Mars on Earth

The desolate desert in southern Oman, near the borders of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, resembles Mars so much that more than 200 scientists from 25 nations will be spending the next four weeks there, to field-test technology for a manned mission to Mars, according to the Associated Press.

Public and private ventures are racing toward Mars — both former President Barack Obama and SpaceX founder Elon Musk predict humans would walk on the Red Planet in a few decades.

But while cosmonauts and astronauts are learning valuable spacefaring skills on the International Space Station, tackling non-engineering problems like emergency medical responses and the isolation of interplanetary expeditions is being done down on the ground on the deserts of Earth.

Utah school changes name to honor NASA engineer instead of Andrew Jackson

The Salt Lake City school board has voted to change the name of the city’s oldest elementary school over an outcry about its namesake, former President Andrew Jackson.

The school board voted unanimously this week to change the name of Andrew Jackson Elementary School to Mary Jackson Elementary School, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

The school’s name now honors the first black female NASA engineer whose story was featured in the film “Hidden Figures.” It is also the first Utah school to be named after a woman.

The change from Andrew Jackson — a favorite of President Trump — has been under consideration for years, the Tribune reports, but the board did not move forward until 73 percent of parents, alumni and other community members supported a change.

 

Gay Olympic athlete turns down Pence meeting

US Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon turned down a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence after criticizing him for his stance on gay rights, according to USA Today.

Rippon, one of two openly gay Winter Olympic athletes representing Team US, blasted the White House for tapping Pence to lead the official US delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympic opening ceremony in a January article in the newspaper. According to the report, Pence’s office reached out to Rippon to meet with the vice president, but he declined.

As governor of Indiana, Pence signed the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015, which allowed business to turn away gay and lesbian customers in the name of religious freedom.

Pence’s office pushed back on the story today, with Pence on his official Twitter account warning Rippon not to let “fake news” distract him, adding, “I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. “

Pence spokesperson Alyssa Farah rebuts the proposed meeting, saying “This accusation is totally false and has no basis in fact.”

 

Twitter reports first-ever profitable quarter

Twitter announced today that it made a net profit for the first time in company history in the final quarter of 2017.

CEO Jack Dorsey says in a statement, “Q4 was a strong finish to the year. I’m proud of the steady progress we made in 2017, and confident in our path ahead.”

CNBC reported that the company’s shares jumped more than 20 percent following the report.

 

Ex-ethics chief rips Kelly over Porter scandal

The government’s former top ethics official today criticized White House chief of staff John Kelly over a series of controversial remarks, including his latest comments on a White House aide who just resigned amid allegations of domestic abuse, according to The Hill.

Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, tweeted, “So John Kelly, often touted as the White House’s adult, falsely smeared a congresswoman, tells us a failure to compromise on slavery caused the civil war, called dreamers lazy, and protected a wife beater.”

Kelly faced criticism on Wednesday after he said that White House staff secretary Rob Porter is a “man of true integrity and honor” and that he is “proud to serve alongside him.”  He later put out a second statement that said, “there is no place for domestic violence in our society.”

Porter resigned Wednesday after two ex-wives accused him of domestic and emotional abuse and a photo surfaced of one of the women with a black eye. Porter has denied the allegations.

 

Trump highlights God and nation at National Prayer Breakfast

President Trump spoke at today’s National Prayer Breakfast, a prime networking opportunity for Beltway insiders, to which every president since President Dwight D. Eisenhower has spoken, according to The Washington Post.

Trump’s message focused on the inspiring stories of people who have gone through struggle but held onto hope and faith, saying, “Let us resolve to find the best within ourselves.”

Trump said, through acts of generosity and service from teachers, police and others who do good deeds, “We see the Lord’s grace,” noting that when Americans can live by their convictions to speak openly of faith, “our nation can achieve anything at all.”

The breakfast is organized by a nonprofit religious organization and designed to bring together leaders from the political, religious and business realm, on behalf of the U.S. Congress.

 

 

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