Hillary Clinton Supporters Call for Vote Recount in Battleground States

Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote is growing. She is roughly 30,000 votes behind Donald J. Trump in the key swing states of Michigan and Wisconsin — a combined gap that is narrowing. Her impassioned supporters are now urging her to challenge the results in those two states and Pennsylvania, grasping at the last straws to reverse Mr. Trump’s decisive majority in the Electoral College.

In recent days, they have seized on a report by a respected computer scientist and other experts suggesting that Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the keys to Mr. Trump’s Electoral College victory, need to manually review paper ballots to assure the election was not hacked.

“Were this year’s deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyberattack?” J. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan who has studied the vulnerabilities of election systems at length, wrote on Medium on Wednesday as the calls based on his conclusions mounted. “Probably not.”

More likely, he wrote, pre-election polls were “systematically wrong.” But the only way to resolve the lingering questions would be to examine “paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states,” he wrote.

Tellingly, the pleas for recounts have gained no support from the Clinton campaign, which has concluded, along with outside experts, that it is highly unlikely the outcome would change even after an expensive and time-consuming review of ballots.

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Recent Comments

Michael F

12 hours ago

Any suggestion of this when Obama won would be labeled racist. What do we call it now?

shawn

12 hours ago

OK, here's our chance. Let's put our money where our mouths are: https://jillstein.nationbuilder.com/recountOr, maybe we should just sit...

Juan Valdlz

12 hours ago

What difference at this point does it make?

  • See All Comments

But that has not quieted Mrs. Clinton’s supporters, who see the inequity of her growing lead in the national popular vote, which is now more than two million votes, or 1.5 percent of all ballots cast, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which regularly updates its count as states continue to tally and to certify votes.

Since there is currently no effort to review the paper ballots — which exist in Michigan and Wisconsin, but only in parts of Pennsylvania — conspiracy theories about the 2016 election may live on for years. After United States intelligence agencies accused Russia of trying to influence the election by stealing and publishing emails from the Democratic National Committee and a range of other institutions and prominent individuals, the United States went on high alert to determine if there was any attempt to sabotage the vote count. So far, no one in the Obama administration has indicated that there is any such evidence.

In the three battleground states, Mrs. Clinton is behind by 1.2 percent or less, and the final results have not yet been certified.

Uniting around the social media hashtag #AuditTheVote, the campaign-after-the-campaign has picked up momentum among grass-roots activists still mourning Mr. Trump’s victory and who echo, paradoxically, his pre-election complaint that the vote was “rigged.”

“Based on the information of the intelligence community that Russia was actively trying to screw around with our election, I thought why not take the time and question this,” said Michelle Zuckerman-Parker, an engineer in Pittsburgh, who on Wednesday planned to petition her county election board for a recount of the Nov. 8 vote.

That view spread quickly on social media on Tuesday evening when New York magazine published an article about Professor Halderman and others who had contacted the remnants of the Clinton campaign. It also generated pushback by experts who said that even though it was theoretically possible to hack voting machines, it would be enormously difficult — because it would have to be highly targeted in key precincts and conducted on a scale required to assure Mr. Trump’s victory.

“Left-wing conspiracy theories of vote rigging” are “pathetic,” Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report said on Twitter.

Time may have already run out. Pennsylvania allows individual voters to petition for a recount, but the deadline was Sunday, said Wanda Murren, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of State. A candidate can also contest an election in court, and the deadline is Monday.

Michigan and Wisconsin have not reached their deadlines for seeking a recount, but they will in days. So far, Mrs. Clinton has not requested any action, said Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Until the publication of Professor Halderman’s work, Clinton supporters had few reasons to hope. He did not offer them much: He noted that while the voting machines used in those states are not connected to the internet during the election, they are programmed before the election. The data is usually transferred on a USB stick or other data card.

“If attackers can modify that software by infecting the machines with malware, they can cause the machines to give any answer whatsoever,” Professor Halderman wrote.

The problem, as Bruce Schneier, a security expert who has written often on the issue, noted in an interview, is that the usual triggers for a recount — a very close margin between two candidates — make little sense in a world of state-sponsored computer hackings. A truly sophisticated hacking would result in a wider margin of victory that would not set off an automatic recount.

Mrs. Clinton would have to triumph in all three states to win the Electoral College. The electors will meet in December to formally choose the president. And there, Mr. Trump is ahead by 290 votes to Mrs. Clinton’s 232, with Michigan still officially uncalled.

As of Wednesday, Mr. Trump’s lead in Michigan had shrunk to 10,704 votes, or 0.2 percent, according to the National Popular Vote Tracker maintained by the Cook Political Report.

Mr. Trump’s lead in Wisconsin has narrowed to 22,525 votes, or 0.8 percent. In Pennsylvania, his lead slightly grew on Wednesday, to 70,010, or 1.2 percent.

The Clinton campaign did not respond to requests for comment. Other Democrats said it was time to move on.

“I’m not sure it’s possible to undo the results, and all the people are focusing their energy on opposing the worst ideas of this administration at this point, not the legitimacy of the results,” said Daniel Doubet, an organizer for Keystone Progress, a liberal group in Pennsylvania.

Those pushing for a recount say they are trying to pick up the fight for a tired and demoralized candidate and her staff.

“The Democratic Party and the Hillary campaign are exhausted, and they’re really hurting, and they may not have the clarity,” said Ms. Zuckerman-Parker, who briefly volunteered for the Clinton campaign.

On social media, supporters pleaded with the campaign to act. “Please @HillaryClinton @timkaine call for #AuditTheVote,” wrote Writerchick on Twitter, appealing to Mrs. Clinton and her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. “We are all working so hard for you, make the call, the nation is depending on you.”

By poring over local election results online, the Audit the Vote crowd uncovered what appeared to be anomalies in the counting. Helen Manich of National Harbor, Md., for one, noticed that Sauk County, Wis., reported that 31,838 ballots were cast overall, but the total votes for presidential candidates numbered 34,323.

Such glitches are not uncommon, election experts said. They are usually ironed out in the process of certifying results. Although those certifications might change the results by several hundred or several thousand votes, they are highly unlikely to move tens of thousands.

To shift the Electoral College, Mrs. Clinton would not only have to reverse her current deficits in Wisconsin and Michigan but also in Pennsylvania, which experts say is highly unlikely.

There is widespread confusion on social media about how recounts are generated. A flood of Twitter users have urged Clinton supporters to call the United States Department of Justice, even though it is states that certify election results.

Ms. Zuckerman-Parker was furiously trying to organize voters around the states to file petitions demanding a recount this week.

“It’s like this fever approach happening in the last few hours,” Melissa Lang of Allegheny County, Pa., said on Tuesday, describing her efforts to reach out to voters across the state using social media.

But Ms. Murren, the Pennsylvania State Department spokeswoman, said the deadline for such petitions had come and gone.

“Our staff is not aware of any petitions for precinct-level recounts in the presidential race,” she said.

Source:NY times.com

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26/Nov/2016

U.S. Officials Defend Integrity of Vote, Despite Hacking Fears

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said on Friday that despite Russian attempts to undermine the presidential election, it has concluded that the results “accurately reflect the will of the American people.”

The statement came as liberal opponents of Donald J. Trump, some citing fears of vote hacking, are seeking recounts in three states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — where his margin of victory was extremely thin.

A drive by Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, for recounts in those states had brought in more than $5 million by midday on Friday, her campaign said, and had increased its goal to $7 million. She filed for a recount in Wisconsin on Friday, about an hour before the deadline.

In its statement, the administration said, “The Kremlin probably expected that publicity surrounding the disclosures that followed the Russian government-directed compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations, would raise questions about the integrity of the election process that could have undermined the legitimacy of the president-elect.”

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That was a reference to the breach of the Democratic National Committee’s email system, and the leak of emails from figures like John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

“Nevertheless, we stand behind our election results, which accurately reflect the will of the American people,” it added.

Supporters of Mrs. Clinton have enthusiastically backed the notion of challenging the results in the three states as a last-ditch effort to reverse Mr. Trump’s clear majority in the Electoral College. They have seized on suggestions by some computer scientists that the states, which were crucial to Mr. Trump’s victory, need to manually review paper ballots to ensure the election was not hacked.

The campaign, uniting around the hashtag #AuditTheVote, has picked up momentum among grass-roots activists still mourning Mr. Trump’s victory. But the pleas for recounts have gained no support from the Clinton campaign, which has concluded that it is highly unlikely to change the outcome.

In Michigan, Ms. Stein must wait for a Monday meeting of the state’s Board of Canvassers to certify the results of the Nov. 8 balloting before filing for a recount. In Pennsylvania, where paper ballots are used only in some areas, election officials said that the deadline to petition for a recount had passed, but that a candidate could challenge the result in court before a Monday deadline.

The recount efforts have generated pushback by experts who said it would be enormously difficult to hack voting machines on a large scale. The administration, in its statement, confirmed reports from the Department of Homeland Security and intelligence officials that they did not see “any increased level of malicious cyberactivity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on Election Day.”

The administration said it remained “confident in the overall integrity of electoral infrastructure, a confidence that was borne out.” It added: “As a result, we believe our elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.”

Photo

 

Emails of John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, were leaked after Russian government-directed hacking. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

However, intelligence officials are still investigating the impact of a broader Russian “information warfare” campaign, in which fake news about Mrs. Clinton, and about United States-Russia relations, appeared intended to influence voters. Many of those false reports originated from RT News and Sputnik, two state-funded Russian sites.

Those fake-news reports were widely circulated on social media, independent studies, including one set for release soon, have shown, sometimes in an organized fashion by groups that appear to have had common ownership. Individuals, conservative talk-show hosts and activists recirculated them, often not knowing, or apparently not caring, about the accuracy of the reports.

A study published just before the election on warontherocks.com, written by Andrew Weisburd, Clinton Watts and J. M. Berger, documented efforts by “trolls” to attack the reputations of those who challenged Russia’s activities in Syria, and to spread rumors about Mrs. Clinton’s health. The study said that an effort to track 7,000 social media accounts over two and a half years indicated that support for Mr. Trump “isn’t the end of Russia’s social media and hacking campaign in America, but merely the beginning.”

But the misinformation effort is far from black-and-white. Many people who spread false news have no connections to any foreign power, including a man in Austin, Tex., who posted a Twitter message saying that paid protesters were being bused to an anti-Trump demonstration there. Though the report quickly went viral, the buses, it turned out, were there for a corporate conference.

Other examples, including one studied by a group called Propaganda or Not and first cited by The Washington Post, appear to have more concrete connections to Russia. In late August, stories suggesting that Mrs. Clinton might have Parkinson’s disease were circulated on trupundit.com, which often runs pro-Russian material. It clearly twisted an email sent by one of Mrs. Clinton’s top aides about a drug called Provigil that is used to treat sleepiness. It has also been prescribed to patients with sleepiness as a side effect from several different ailments, the email added, including “Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.”

That single reference was enough to create a fake story suggesting that Mrs. Clinton was being treated for Parkinson’s.

The allegation was quickly shot down by several news organizations. It made little difference: Propaganda or Not, made up of former national security, intelligence and other professionals, and some workers at Google and other technology firms, concluded that it was reproduced tens of thousands of times, sometimes by botnets, and viewed millions of times.

But it is not known whether that news was circulated under Russian government direction, or simply by Russian sympathizers, or Mrs. Clinton’s opponents.

The barrage of online efforts to influence the election this year has prompted broader concerns that similar attempts, directed by the Kremlin or its surrogates, could now be focused on elections next year in Germany and France. The goal, intelligence officials and outside experts fear, is to undermine the cohesiveness of the Western alliance, particularly NATO members, by calling into question the validity of democratic elections.

“We simply don’t know what the effects of the ‘fake news’ and other disinformation was,” said Jason Healey, an expert on cyberconflict at Columbia University. “If they were able to influence in favor of Trump by one or two percentage points in some places, they will be encouraged to try again for the French and the Germans.”

The efforts have also prompted debate inside Facebook and other social media firms about their responsibility to filter out false news. But doing so is a complex task, akin to editing a news operation, and it comes with complex political calculations: Once social media firms begin editing here to American standards, they will be under pressure from authoritarian regimes to do the same to their standards.

In its statement, the administration focused chiefly on the threat of Russian manipulation of the vote on Election Day, not on the proliferation of propaganda and fake news.

Ms. Stein, of the Green Party, acknowledged on Thursday in an interview with the PBS “NewsHour” that it was unlikely that recounts could change the results. Still, she said that “this was an election in which we saw hacking all over the place,” and that “at the same time, we have a voting system which has been proven to basically be wide open to hackers.”

Source:NY times

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26/Nov/2016

James Comey: The man Democrats and Republicans hate

Washington (CNN)No one knows who will win the White House on Tuesday. But there's already one undisputed loser from the ferocious presidential campaign: James Comey.

The FBI director cleared Hillary Clinton for a second time Sunday in the probe over her private email server. But the damage to her campaign -- and his own reputation -- is unlikely to quickly heal.
With his highly public handling of the email probe and his resulting entanglement in the political tumult, Comey accomplished the unusual feat of antagonizing each side of the partisan divide. In the aftermath, his stature is diminished and his future in a Clinton or Donald Trump administration is highly uncertain.
Comey's new status as one of Washington's most polarizing leaders is a stunning twist for someone who long enjoyed the genuine respect of both parties. If he hoped his Sunday letter to lawmakers informing them that a review of new emails potentially tied to Clinton's server would quell the political storm swirling around him, he was mistaken.
Democrats pilloried him for influencing the final days of an already vitriolic campaign and Republicans accused him of caving to political pressure and questioned how the bureau could review thousands of emails so quickly.
"Right now, (Clinton) is being protected by a rigged system," Trump said at a rally in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
"It's a totally rigged system. You can't review 650,000 emails in eight days. You can't do it folks," Trump said, mischaracterizing the number of emails the FBI was reviewing. Sources with knowledge of the investigation have told CNN the number is in the tens of thousands.
Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said Comey "unfairly hurt the campaign of one candidate and changed the tenor of this election."

Can Comey continue?

Comey is three years into a 10-year appointment at the FBI. But there are now serious questions about whether his position is still tenable going forward — regardless of who becomes president.
By late Sunday, neither Clinton nor Trump supporters would definitively say their candidate still had confidence in Comey.
"It's not my place to come in and say if Director Comey is doing a good job or not a good job," Trump's senior communications adviser Jason Miller told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room." "It is clear that the system is rigged. It is clear that this investigation has not been handled very well from the beginning."
Asked on "The Situation Room" whether he had confidence in Comey, Rep. Sean Duffy, a Trump supporter, said "I don't have any information from inside the FBI to make that conclusion right now."
Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Clinton supporter, also refused to say whether he had confidence in the FBI chief.
"Director Comey has a good reputation and he's been a law enforcement professional for many years," Butterfield said.
Still, he expressed concern about the initial letter sent to Congress at the end of last month.
"I am still evaluating why he would send such a letter to Congress," Butterfield said.
Comey recognizes he's in a tough spot even after the election. But an official said he's given no indication he will resign.

FBI's reputation at stake

The FBI chief's future isn't all that's at stake. The political storm surrounding Clinton's emails and the FBI's handling of them threaten to tarnish the bureau itself.
Republicans are suspicious of the extent to which the FBI is being constrained by President Barack Obama's Justice Department. Democrats are worried that leaks and probes into the Clinton Foundation are indications that rank-and-file FBI agents are upset by Comey's decision not to seek indictments of Clinton.
Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine made a stunning charge Saturday that elements of the FBI were trying to throw the election to Trump -- a contention that would seemingly make it difficult for Comey to work in a Clinton administration.
"Comey knew that the FBI is not only a leaky sieve but there were people within the FBI actively working—actively working—to try to help the Trump campaign," Kaine said in an interview with Fusion. "This just absolutely staggering, and it is a massive blow to the integrity of the FBI."
From the start, the FBI probe into Clinton and Comey's handling of it has drawn him onto political ground anyone in his position would prefer to avoid. And it's been a reminder that once officials like Comey, who by definition required to be nonpartisan, enter the political crossfire, it's nearly impossible to get out with their character and prestige in place.
"The destruction of James Comey by political pressure is painful to watch," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, tweeted on Sunday. "He is being twisted into an indefensible pretzel of contradictions."
If Clinton loses the election on Tuesday, Democrats are certain to blame Comey, since she saw her comfortable leads in opinion polls over Trump erode following his first letter to Congress just over a week ago.
If she wins, but her margin is narrow, or if Democrats fail to win back the Senate, Comey will also be accused of actions that had the effect of suppressing the Democratic vote and influencing the election.
"This should never have happened," Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings said on "The Situation Room," arguing that Comey should never have sent the initial letter to Congress in the first place. "Unfortunately, Donald Trump and his associates have blown this thing up like Director Comey should have known."
Source:CNN.com
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07/Nov/2016

Feds: NSA contractor's secrets theft 'breathtaking'

Washington (CNN)A former government contractor who's charged with stealing thousands of classified and sensitive intelligence files committed "breathtaking" crimes, according to a new filing from federal prosecutors.

Harold Thomas Martin, III, 51, has been charged with stealing government property and unauthorized removal of classified materials. He was arrested in late August, but his case was only made public earlier this month.
In its filing Thursday, the government said they may bring charges against Martin beyond those he currently faces, including violations of the Espionage Act.
Before his arrest, Martin worked as a contractor to the National Security Agency through consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, which fired him after he was charged. He has a long history working with sensitive government intelligence, and served in the US Navy and Naval Reserves for more than 10 years, reaching the rank of lieutenant.
In a filing from prosecutors Thursday arguing that Martin should be kept in custody until his trial, the government alleged there is "overwhelming" evidence that Martin committed the crimes.
"Throughout his government assignments, the Defendant violated that trust by engaging in wholesale theft of classified government documents and property -- a course of felonious conduct that is breathtaking in its longevity and scale," prosecutors wrote.
A hearing on Martin's detention is set for Friday.
The filing contained more detail on the thousands of documents prosecutors say they found in Martin's home and vehicle -- which they say was parked in the open and used to drive around members of the public as it contained top secret documents. The information he had digitally, the feds said, was equivalent to approximately 50,000 gigabytes, enough to store 500 million documents containing images and text.
Martin had classified information dating from 1996 to 2016, the government said, including a document "regarding specific operational plans against a known enemy of the United States and its allies." That document was not only classified but marked need-to-know only, and Martin should not have been privy to that information, prosecutors said.
Also found were files containing personal information of government employees, and an email chain with "highly sensitive information" on the back of which were handwritten notes "describing the NSA's classified computer infrastructure and detailed descriptions of classified technical operations."
Prosecutors characterized the notes as seemingly intended for a non-intelligence community audience.
Among the documents the FBI believes Martin stole were some detailing a hacking tool that the NSA developed to break into computer systems in other countries, law enforcement sources said when he was arrested. Documents detailing the tools were posted on the Internet in recent months, though no connection to Martin has been offered.
FBI investigators haven't concluded what Martin's motivation was for stealing the documents. So far, they don't believe he did it for a foreign country.
The filing did note that Martin was skilled in internet anonymization, encryption and had used encrypted communications, though they did not say to what end.
Prosecutors conclude that Martin is a serious risk if released. Not only is his alleged theft substantial, they wrote, but he represents a flight risk and would be a significant target for any adversary of the US now that his case has been made public.
In a subsequent filing, Martin's attorneys argued he presents no flight risk, noting as the government does that he does not have his passport. Given that his wife and home are in Maryland and noting his military service, they said there was no reason nor legal basis to deny him bail.
"There is no evidence he intended to betray his country," they wrote.
They also attached a list of individuals charged with similar crimes none of whom were detained prior to trial.
Source:CNN.com
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07/Nov/2016

Democrats falling short on pre-emptive poll-watching lawsuits

Washington (CNN)Republican lawyers have successfully fended off several pre-emptive lawsuits filed by Democrats across the country accusing Donald Trump's campaign of "conspiring to threaten and intimidate minority voters in urban neighborhoods from voting in the 2016 election."

Democrats are seeking temporary restraining orders against the Trump campaign and Republicans, as they raise the alarm of possible voter intimidation due to comments from the GOP nominee and others.
But while judges have at times been sympathetic, Democrats have now failed in each case where a hearing has been held: Ohio, Nevada and Arizona. Late Sunday, they filed a request to the US Supreme Court in the Ohio case. It's an uphill climb for the Democrats who face the possibility of a 4-4 court that could deadlock and simply affirm the lower court order that went in Trump's favor.
Monday, federal judges will hold hearings in two additional states, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
By and large the rulings have been victories for the Trump campaign but experts say that the Democrats did manage to bring the issue to the forefront.
"Although the Democrats did not prevail in these cases, they did at least force the Republican Party to state, for the record, that they will not engage in voter intimidation," said Joshua A. Douglas, an election law expert at the University of Kentucky College of Law. "That by itself is important, as it means that the Republican Party is on record saying they will comply with all state voting laws."
The challenges from the Democrats share much of the same language, charging that Republican state parties, the Trump campaign and Roger Stone, who runs an organization called "Stop the Steal," are in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.
In Arizona and Nevada, the judges declined to issue injunctions against the Republicans.

Ohio case to the Supreme Court?

A district court judge in Ohio did rule against the Trump campaign and issued an injunction on Friday. In a broad ruling, Judge James Gwin of the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio mostly sided with Democrats against Trump. He issued an order restricting both campaigns of "interrogating, admonishing, interfering with, or verbally harassing voters" and also banned parties from "gathering or loitering" at polling places and "taking photos" of voters in and around the voting place."
Chad A. Readler, a lawyer for the Trump campaign, filed an emergency motion with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals lambasting the lower court's order charging that if left to stand it would "irreparably" harm the campaign "as well as any unsuspecting citizen who falls in the district court's cross-hairs."
"Intimidating voters is illegal, and the campaign does not remotely condone such conduct," Readler wrote.
On Sunday, a three-judge panel of appellate judges lifted the order, giving another victory to the Trump campaign. The court said the Democrats had failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success. A full panel of judges on the court declined to hear an appeal.
Sunday night, Democrats filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court asking justices to vacate the order from the 6th Circuit.
"Over the past several months, Donald J. Trump has warned that the 2016 election will be stolen from him unless supporters in Ohio and elsewhere swarm urban communities and "watch," "[a]nd when [I] say 'watch,' you know what I'm talking about, right?" Marc Elias, a lawyer for the Democrats argued in briefs with the high court. "Trump has said "[t]he only way we can lose . . . and I really mean this . . . is if cheating goes on."
Elias, also argued that a three judge panel of the federal appeals court ruled even before the Democrats were through filing their briefs.
"The Sixth Circuit ordered the stay notwithstanding that it did not call for or receive a substantive response brief from Applicant and, by its own admission, had not yet reviewed the critical evidence on which the District Court relied," he wrote.
Source:CNN.com
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07/Nov/2016

Former NFL player arrested for alleged $10 million fraud

The federal government has charged a former NFL player with allegedly defrauding investors out of more than $10 million.

Merrill Robertson Jr. was arrested on Wednesday on criminal charges related to fraud, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

 

The Securities and Exchange Commission also announced a civil case against Robertson. They say he and a business partner, who the SEC also sued, promised to invest money they raised but instead used it to pay for personal expenses.

Robertson and his partner co-owned a company called Cavalier Union Investments LLC.

According to the SEC complaint, Robertson raised funds from contacts that he had at the Fork Union Military Academy and the University of Virginia.

The scheme allegedly defrauded elderly individuals, former coaches, donors, alumni and employees of the schools.

Related: Jake Peavy and Mark Sanchez ripped off in $33 million scheme

Robertson played briefly for the Philadelphia Eagles in the early 2000s. He was a linebacker at the University of Virginia and majored in anthropology.

According to his website, which was still active on Wednesday, Robertson "has a dynamic background in sales and financing."

The complaint acknowledges that at one point Robertson held licenses to sell securities but is not currently registered as a broker.

The website also boasted a client list that included "athletes, entertainers, institutions, wealthy individuals, churches and everyday people."

Robertson's attorneys didn't respond to requests for comment.

Related: How can you find an honest financial adviser?

According to the SEC, Robertson said he would put investors' money in diversified holdings. Instead he and Vaughn allegedly spent it and used it to repay earlier investors, according to the SEC.

They also purchased "cars, family vacations, spa visits, luxury goods, educational expenses for family members, and a luxury suite at a football stadium," the complaint said.

The SEC claimed the pair lied about employing advisers.

"[I]t did not have any funds or investment advisers and was functionally insolvent shortly after it was formed," the complaint said.

The only investments made by Cavalier Union Investments were restaurants that failed by 2014, the government said.

CNN.com

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22/Oct/2016

The Clinton Foundation's gender pay gap worried campaign

Hillary Clinton says men and women should make equal pay. But the Clinton Foundation's leadership team had an average $81,000 average gender pay gap, according to the most recent figures available.

This pay gap was so wide that the Clinton campaign worried that the "huge discrepancies" would be noticed by journalists, according to internal Clinton campaign emails exposed by WikiLeaks.

The stark numbers come from the foundation's public 990 tax forms for the year 2014, which list the highest-paid employees. The Clinton Foundation identifies its top leaders, all executives with titles like CEO, director or senior adviser.

That list included four women and nine men. The men averaged $291,000 in total pay. The women averaged $210,000. Many of the men clearly outranked the women in the leadership team.

The women earned 72 cents for every dollar a male executive made on average.

That's worse than the national average Clinton cites in her "equal pay for equal work" speeches. The national average is 79 cents on the dollar.

The foundation's pay gap was even wider in 2013, when the highest-paid women earned 63 cents for every dollar made by the highest-paid men.

The foundation has not yet released last year's salary data.

In another batch of stolen emails published by WikiLeaks, the foundation listed the salaries of its 62 employees working in 2011.

On average, the women made 89 cents on the dollar compared to the men. The average woman made $62,000. The average man made $70,000.

The payroll that year included 36 women and 26 men.

The foundation's pay scale would seem to clash with Clinton's stump speeches on equal pay.

"The failure to ensure equal pay for women also impacts families and the broader economy... it devalues the work that women do," Clinton said in a New York City speech on April 12.

Clinton's presidential campaign spotted the pay gap in February 2015 -- and acknowledged its severity, according to emails exposed by WikiLeaks.

"There are huge discrepancies, and it wouldn't surprise me if they went here next," public relations expert Ian Mandel warned the Clinton campaign.

He was alerting Clinton's presidential campaign manager, Robert Mook, and the research director at Hillary for America, Tony Carrk. At the time last year, reporters were probing equal pay during Clinton's tenure at the State Department.

CNNMoney reached out to all three women at the bottom of the list in 2013, but it received no reply.

Nonprofit tax documents are publicly available for review. However, they only list the salaries of the highest-paid employees. It's unclear if the pay gap is better or worse for lower level jobs at the Clinton Foundation.

Asked about the gender salary gap, the foundation pointed to a blog post written by president Donna Shalala on Tuesday.

"Recent allegations on pay discrepancies at the Clinton Foundation are inaccurate. These calculations are based only on a handful of salaries that do not provide an accurate portrayal of the leadership and staff at Clinton Foundation," she wrote.

She noted that 64% of the foundation's employees in the United States are women. However, she did not address the pay scales for those employees.

Clinton's presidential campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Source:CNN.com

 

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22/Oct/2016

Kerry calls for probe of Russian, Syrian 'war crimes'

(CNN)US Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that Russian and Syrian military strikes against civilians and medical facilities in Aleppo should be investigated as war crimes.

"The regime attacked yet another hospital, and 20 people were killed and 100 people were wounded," Kerry said ahead of a meeting with his French counterpart, citing recent attacks. "Russia and the (Syrian) regime owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals and medical facilities and children and women."
He added, "These are acts that beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes. And those who commit these would, and should, be held accountable for these actions."
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault joined Kerry in his condemnation, saying the conflict has reached a "moment of truth" for the UN Security Council, and dismissing the Syrian regime's assertion that it is targeting terrorists in the besieged city of Aleppo, a stronghold of opposition forces fighting the Assad regime.
"These are indeed war crimes," Ayrault told reporters Friday .
"Bombing access to clean water is not against terrorism," he said. "When you bomb a hospital it is the same. We need a ceasefire as soon as possible."
Kerry has been increasingly harsh in his criticism of the Russian government in recent weeks for its intervention in Syria, where Moscow is backing President Bashar al-Assad in the brutal, five-year-long civil war.
Last month, after a brief US and Russian-backed ceasefire agreement fell apart and airstrikes resumed, the secretary of state delivered a blistering address to the UN Security Council, accusing the Assad regime of targeting civilians and Russia of targeting a UN aid convoy.
"How can people go sit at a table with a regime that bombs hospitals and drops chlorine gas again and again and again and again and again and acts with impunity?" Kerry asked at the time. "You're supposed to sit there and have happy talk in Geneva while the regime drops bombs?"
On Friday, Kerry said attacks on medical professionals in Syria are "way beyond" accidental.
"This is a targeted strategy to terrorize civilians and to kill anybody and everybody who is in the way of their military objectives," he said.
Ayrault said he plans to travel to New York ahead of a UN Security Council meeting Saturday, where the French are expected to put forward a resolution that will call for a ceasefire in Aleppo, including a halt to Syrian and Russian air attacks.
Russia is expected to veto the measure, but says it is willing to support a separate UN proposal to escort rebel fighters from the al-Nusra terrorist group out of Aleppo.
Source:CNN.com
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11/Oct/2016

High drama on debate night

(CNN)First came the Montagues and the Capulets, then the Hatfields and the McCoys.

Now there are the Clintons and the Trumps.
Two clans whose triumphs and disasters have flared bright across the national stage for a quarter century are now engulfed in a family feud for the modern era.
Read more
11/Oct/2016

As Trump sputters, Clinton's campaign prepares for an even nastier race

(CNN)Hillary Clinton and her top aides couldn't be happier that Donald Trump's campaign is imploding around him.

But the last week has also made one thing clear for top Democrats: The more wounded the GOP nominee gets, the nastier he will grow toward Clinton. And the campaign is already preparing its defenses for the third debate later this month.
Clinton aides were shocked -- and caught off guard -- when Trump held a press conference with three women who had previously accused Bill Clinton of sexual impropriety before Sunday's debate. They were even more surprised when those women took seats inside the hall, in front of some of the most prominent Democrats in the country.
Even though aides said that Trump's decision to invite three women "failed" to intimidate Clinton, there is now an acknowledgment inside Clinton's campaign that if the wheels completely come off Trump's campaign, the attacks could grow even more personal.
"This was supposed to be his big moment. His threat, he followed through and it had no effect, so I don't know what he is going to do as an encore," Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton's communications director, told reporters on Monday.
But Palmieri also acknowledged that this won't be his last attempt to dredge up past scandals and allegations to humiliate the former secretary of state.
"She's been through a number of trials over the course of her career and she's certainly not going to let him throw her off or intimidate her from speaking out," Palmieri added.
Clinton also nodded to the astonishing spectacle of Sunday's debate.
"Did anybody see that debate last night," Clinton asked to big applause at Wayne State University in Detroit. "Bet you never saw anything like that before."

Defending Clinton's record

Less than 24 hours after the debate, Clinton and her team have already started to prepare for the third and final contest in Las Vegas later this month.
One line of attack that Trump has effectively leveled against Clinton is questioning what she has accomplished in her 30-year career, arguing that she has plans but should have been able to do more as US senator and secretary of state.
On Monday in Columbus, Ohio, Clinton presented her achievements by decade and compared those moments with points in Trump's life.
"So when Donald Trump talks about what I have been doing for the last 30 years, I welcome that," Clinton said at her largest rally of her presidential campaign. "Because in the 1970s, I was working to end discrimination and he as being sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination."
"In the 1980s," Clinton added, "I was working to improve the schools in Arkansas ... while he was getting a loan for $14 million from his father to start a business."
After slamming Trump for his NBC show "The Apprentice" -- "on the day that I was in the situation room watching the raid the brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was hosting Celebrity Apprentice" -- Clinton said: "If he wants to talk about what we have been doing the last 30 years, bring it on."

Campaign giddy over GOP 'civil war'

Even as they gird for a nasty last debate of the campaign, Clinton's aides are openly giddy about the fact that Republicans are openly feuding. After boarding the flight, Clinton remarked that it was time to take off so alcoholic beverages could be served.
The Clinton campaign watched on Monday as House Speaker Paul Ryan informed GOP House members on a conference call that he was no longer able to defend Trump — a stunning announcement that sparked chaos inside a party that had already been fractured around Trump's controversial candidacy this year.
"I think it's pretty stunning that the morning after the debate, the speaker of the House has to come out and say that he's no longer going to defend Donald Trump and that each Republican member of Congress has to decide for themselves whether or not they're going to support their party's nominee," Palmieri said.
To twist the knife on the Republican Party, Palmieri added, "It seems that somewhat of a civil war is breaking out in the Republican Party."
After Ryan informed House Republicans that he could no longer defend Trump, the GOP nominee was quick to express his anger on Twitter.
"Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee," Trump wrote.
Ever since a 2005 video in which Trump casually brags about sexual assault was made public last week, Republicans across the country have begun to pull their support for Trump. Ryan and other congressional leaders have not gone as far as to rescind their endorsement, but plenty of Republicans in tough Senate and House races have rescinded their endorsements.
Clinton was in good spirits after Sunday night's debate, where her campaign aides felt that she effectively dispatched with Trump's attacks and tried to stay focused on speaking to the undecided voters who asked questions during the town hall contest.
Clinton received some good news Monday in a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that was conducted after the lewd 2005 video was made public -- but before Sunday's debate -- that found Clinton with a 14-point lead nationally in a head-to-head matchup against Trump, 52% to 38%. In a four-way race including third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, Clinton leads 46% to 35%.
But even Clinton knew after the debate that her race against Trump, something she cast on Monday in Detroit as a fight between cynicism and hopefulness, was far from over.
Asked on Sunday night whether she was surprised to see her husband's accusers in the audience, Clinton shook her head.
"Nothing surprises me about him, really," she said. "I was surprised by the absolute avalanche of falsehoods I find it almost unimaginable that someone can stand and just tell a falsehood after a falsehood."
Source:CNN.com
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11/Oct/2016

Who could be Zimbabwe's next president?

(CNN)At 92, Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for longer than most Zimbabweans have been alive, taking office in 1980 after a brutal war and negotiated peace deal.

In his early years in power, Mugabe was hailed as a visionary leader who reconciled with former colonial rulers and promoted one of the most impressive education systems on the continent.
But he has since presided over an economic meltdown, violent suppression of dissent, and a regime frequently accused of corruption, and suppressing human rights.
In recent months, rumors of Mugabe's health have swirled unabated. It has become a parlor game for Zimbabwean's on social media to track his presidential plane in case he is spirited out of the country. Rumors of his death have surfaced -- more than once.
On his return from a recent trip, Mugabe dealt with those rumors head-on. "Yes, I was dead, it's true I was dead. I resurrected as I always do. Once I get back to my country I am real," he told assembled reporters.
But the president is 92 and, inevitably, someone will eventually take his place in power. Here is a short list, by no means comprehensive, of some people you should be watching.

Emmerson Mnangagwa

Nicknamed "Ngwena" (The Crocodile) because of his ruthlessness, Emmerson Mnangagwa has held various senior posts in the country's defence and internal security apparatus.

Emmerson Mnangagwa is Zimbabwe's co-Vice President, justice minister, and one of the most powerful figures in the country.
Nicknamed "The Crocodile" for his political cunning and also, perhaps, for the name of the guerrilla group he helped lead during the fight for independence, Mnangagwa is a feared figure in Zimbabwe -- not only for his closeness to Robert Mugabe, but also for his hold on the state security apparatus.
Mnangagwa was the country's spy chief in the 1980s when a campaign of terror was unleashed by the North Korean-trained fifth brigade against political opponents and civilians in Matabeleland known as the Gukurahundi.
The killings are still an open sore in Zimbabwe, but Mnangagwa has denied involvement and reportedly blamed the army.
Many feel that Mnangagwa is biding his time. Constitutionally, he would become president of Mugabe leaves the stage.

Joice Mujuru

Former vice president Joice Mujuru speaks during the launch of her party, Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) on June 19, 2016.

For most of Joice Mujuru's political life, she was considered the ultimate insider in Zimbabwe power politics. She became Vice President until she was purged by Robert Mugabe in 2014 for allegedly plotting against the longtime ruler.
Mujuru has impeccable liberation struggle credentials. As a teenager she joined the war of independence and took the name Teurai Ropa (Spill Blood). She claimed to have downed a military helicopter with a machine gun, and has held government and political posts since independence in 1980.
Mujuru and her then-husband Solomon Mujuru -- a liberation stalwart himself -- were accused of benefiting from the so-called farm invasions, by taking at least one formerly white-owned farm. Mujuru's business interests in mining have also faced scrutiny.
Solomon Mujuru, Zimbabwe's first post-independence military general, died in a suspicious fire in 2011.
Joice Mujuru was long seen as a potential successor to Mugabe, but faced increasing criticism -- particularly from first lady Grace Mugabe -- and was expelled in late 2014 from the Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
She formed the Zimbabwe People First Party earlier this year, which could be a major contender in the 2018 elections.

Grace Mugabe

Grace Mugabe with the current President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe.

Grace Mugabe began an affair with the much older Robert Mugabe while working as a secretary in State House in the 1980s.
But over the years, Mugabe's second wife has garnered significant power and influence and has frequently been talked about as a potential successor to the President.
While Grace Mugabe doesn't share the struggle credentials of other potential successors, her proximity to the long-time president has been a powerful tool.
Known as a blunt speaker, she helped push Joice Mujuru from her position of power by claiming she was power hungry and untrustworthy.
Grace Mugabe has expansive business interests in Zimbabwe and, like her husband, is on an EU and US targeted sanctions list.
She is praised for her extensive philanthropic work, particularly for orphans, but her lavish shopping sprees gave her the nickname "Gucci Grace."
And many Zimbabweans both inside and outside the political elite appear resentful of her influence in government.

Morgan Tsvangirai

Zimbabwe's former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai created the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

A longtime opposition leader and trade union activist, Morgan Tsvangirai has been a staunch critic of Robert Mugabe since the late 1990s.
A former member of the ruling Zanu-PF, Tsvangarai formed the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that helped defeat a 2000 referendum on constitutional referendum that would have extended Mugabe's rule and sanctioned the expropriation of white-owned land.
After a strong showing in parliamentary elections, Tsvangarai faced a series of treason charges and lengthy trials, but was acquitted.
In 2007, Tsvangirai and other MDC activists were brutally beaten by police after being arrested on his way to a government protest rally.
svangirai lost to Mugabe in a presidential election runoff in 2008. The ballot was marred by widespread accusations of intimidation and violence by the ruling party.
The disputed vote led to a power-sharing agreement between Mugabe, Tsvangarai and Arthur Mutambara, leaving Tsvangarai as Prime Minister.
Tsvangarai lost his position when the agreement folded after another disputed election in 2013, where he lost handily to Mugabe. He alleged widespread fraud but withdrew his court challenge.
Many in Zimbabwe we have spoken to feel that the years of political fighting, infighting and personal tragedy (Tsvangarai lost his wife in 2009 to a car crash) could have taken a toll.
Source:CNN.com

 

 
 

 

 
 
 
Now Playing Young Zimbabweans...
Young Zimbabweans face up to Robert Mugabe 03:21

Story highlights

  • Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for longer than most Zimbabweans have been alive
  • Leading contenders to replace him include his wife, a key ally and several opposition figures

(CNN)At 92, Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for longer than most Zimbabweans have been alive, taking office in 1980 after a brutal war and negotiated peace deal.

In his early years in power, Mugabe was hailed as a visionary leader who reconciled with former colonial rulers and promoted one of the most impressive education systems on the continent.
But he has since presided over an economic meltdown, violent suppression of dissent, and a regime frequently accused of corruption, and suppressing human rights.
 
In recent months, rumors of Mugabe's health have swirled unabated. It has become a parlor game for Zimbabwean's on social media to track his presidential plane in case he is spirited out of the country. Rumors of his death have surfaced -- more than once.
On his return from a recent trip, Mugabe dealt with those rumors head-on. "Yes, I was dead, it's true I was dead. I resurrected as I always do. Once I get back to my country I am real," he told assembled reporters.
But the president is 92 and, inevitably, someone will eventually take his place in power. Here is a short list, by no means comprehensive, of some people you should be watching.
 
Read more
16/Sep/2016

Nigerians vent frustrations against President Buhari

Lagos (CNN)It was supposed to be a rallying cry for unity in a nation deep in recession crisis.

However the launch of President Buhari's 'Change Begins With Me' campaign quickly went south as Nigerians took to Twitter to vent their frustrations against his government.
During a national address on Thursday, the president said: "The campaign principle is simple, each of us must live the change we want to see in our society."
He added: "Before you ask, 'where is the change they promised us,' you must first ask, 'how far have I changed my ways."
Angry Nigerians poured scorn on the initiative. Some felt the sentiment was tone deaf and failed to address the myriad problems Nigerians face on a daily basis. Top of that list is an economy in freefall and mass youth unemployment.
Last month, Nigeria's second quarter GDP fell by more than two percent compared to last year, after slipping by 0.4% in the first quarter. Two consecutive quarters of decline mean Nigeria has now slid into recession.
While he has been tough on corruption, Nigerians feel his authoritarian approach is out of touch when he needs to inspire hope for better times.
Many used the #changebeginswithme hash tag to let the president know he has failed in his earlier promise to deliver change
Buhari also recently launched a "War Against Indiscipline" -- one of his flagship schemes when he was first in power more than 30 years ago.
Source:CNN.com
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12/Sep/2016

Obama and Xi Commit to Paris Climate Accord, Setting Aside Nations’ Rifts

HANGZHOU, China — President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China formally committed the world’s two largest economies to the Paris climate agreement here on Saturday, cementing their partnership on climate change and offering a rare display of harmony in a relationship that has become increasingly discordant.

On multiple fronts, like computer hacking and maritime security, ties between China and the United States have frayed during the seven and a half years of Mr. Obama’s presidency. The friction has worsened since the ascension of Mr. Xi as a powerful nationalist leader in 2013.

Yet the fact that he and Mr. Obama could set aside those tensions to work together yet again on a joint plan to reduce greenhouse gases attests to the pragmatic personal rapport they have built, as well as to the complexity of the broader United States-China relationship, a tangle of competing and congruent interests.

At a ceremony in this picturesque lakefront city, the two leaders hailed the adoption of the Paris agreement as critical to bringing it into force worldwide. Though widely expected as the next step in the legal process, the move could provide a boost to those who want to build momentum for further climate talks by bringing the December accord into effect as soon as possible.

Countries accounting for 55 percent of the world’s emissions must present formal ratification documents for that to happen, and together, China and the United States generate nearly 40 percent of the world’s emissions.

“Despite our differences on other issues, we hope our willingness to work together on this issue will inspire further ambition and further action around the world,” Mr. Obama declared.

Mr. Xi praised the Paris agreement as a milestone, adding, “It was under Chinese leadership that much of this progress was made.”

From the moment he stepped off Air Force One on his final visit to Asia as president, Mr. Obama confronted a resurgent China, undaunted by his efforts to restore America’s presence in the region and poised to capitalize on his troubles in winning congressional passage of his ambitious regional trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Mr. Obama’s chaotic welcome on the tarmac captured the mood on the eve of the G20 summit. There were arguments at the airport between White House aides and Chinese security officials who tried to keep back reporters. Shouting matches also broke out between Mr. Obama’s staff and guards over how many people were allowed into the state guesthouse where he and Mr. Xi later met.

In recent years, the Obama administration has sought to highlight cooperation on climate change, but China’s commitments, first made in 2014, have been less a concession to American pressure than a restatement of its own goals. They include a promise for China’s carbon emissions to reach a plateau or decline “around 2030,” but without any specific target for reductions like those Mr. Obama pledged for the United States (25 percent of 2005 levels by 2025). That means China has plenty of room to continue burning fossil fuels to power its economy.

“The story of the past eight years is not mainly the pivot or the rebalance; it is the very substantial increases in Chinese capacities since 2008,” said Jeffrey A. Bader, who helped formulate Mr. Obama’s Asia strategy as his chief China adviser in the first term.

“How has the U.S. dealt with that?” he added. “How has the U.S. confronted that?”

The Obama administration has experimented with a variety of approaches: pledging to respect China’s “core interests” in 2009; shifting in 2011 to a more assertive stance — verging on containment — as Mr. Obama articulated his pivot to Asia; then resisting China’s proposal in 2012 to embark on a new model of great-power relations.

To some critics, that was an inconsistent strategy — one that alternately cheered or sowed anxiety among American allies, and likewise alienated or emboldened China. Under Mr. Xi’s leadership, China has made aggressive claims to shoals and reefs in the South China Sea, picking fights with neighbors like the Philippines and Vietnam.

“This back and forth has, I think, exacerbated what was already a growing problem with a China that was already more assertive in the context of the financial crisis,” said Michael J. Green, who was the chief Asia adviser on the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration and is now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

But the administration’s defenders, like Mr. Bader, argue that Mr. Obama was merely following in the tradition of presidents, Democrat and Republican alike, dating back to Richard M. Nixon. They have tried to manage China’s rise by drawing it into the international system and prodding it to accept rules of the road in trade, navigation and other areas.

However, China has dismissed a recent ruling by an international tribunal in The Hague that rebuked its aggressive reclamation of land on disputed shoals in the South China Sea and invalidated its historical claims to a large swath of those waters.

Mr. Obama was expected to press Mr. Xi to abide by the ruling in a meeting after the climate ceremony, less because he expected the Chinese leader to reverse himself than because the ruling is a vital predicate for undermining the legitimacy of China’s imperial claims.

Still, even after Mr. Obama deployed Navy ships to the Pacific, sent Marines to Australia and paid for greater access to the military bases of an old ally, the Philippines, China now has greater control of the South China Sea than it enjoyed at the start of his presidency.

Continue reading the main story

 

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama’s struggle to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership has stoked doubts about America’s economic staying power. The 12-nation pact, which excludes China, has become the centerpiece of the pivot to Asia. But it has fallen victim to election-year politics at home and now seems unlikely to pass, even in a lame-duck Congress.

Some of the nations that signed on, particularly Japan — America’s most important Asian ally and a nervous neighbor of China — have made political sacrifices by opening markets in order to meet the standards demanded by the United States. Failure to pass the trade pact, Asian diplomats and analysts said, would leave them feeling burned.

“The Japanese, living in an uncertain world, depending on an American nuclear umbrella, will have to say on trade: ‘The Americans could not follow through,’” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore said during a recent visit to Washington, standing next to Mr. Obama. “If it’s a matter of life and death, whom do I have to depend on?”

Mr. Obama and his chief trade negotiator, Michael B. Froman, understand the stakes. They plan a full-court press to sell the pact on this presidential trip — characterizing its passage as a litmus test of American leadership — in hopes that the message will echo back home.

“We are one vote away from cementing our leadership in Asia or ceding it to China,” Mr. Froman said in an interview in Beijing. “I’m not sure Congress wants to hand the keys to the castle to China.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is viewed in Asia as the handiwork of Mr. Obama in particular, especially since the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, who repeatedly backed it when she was Mr. Obama’s secretary of state, has renounced her support. If Congress fails to pass it, Asian diplomats said, China will emerge as a victor.

“It will be a political disaster and play into the Chinese narrative that China is a geopolitical fact, whereas the U.S. presence is the consequence of a geopolitical calculation which could change and thus is not reliable,” said Bilahari Kausikan, the ambassador at large for Singapore.

In practical terms, the United States would lose the chance to shape the economic future of the region, allowing China to forge ahead with its “Sino-centric economic order,” which includes a multibillion-dollar project to build a new Silk Road linking Asia to Europe.

Mr. Bader is among several American officials who are guardedly confident that the next presidential administration will find a way to win approval for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, perhaps by adding side agreements on contentious points. But he expressed concern that the South China Sea would be a chronic source of friction.

“The situation hasn’t stabilized,” Mr. Bader said. “Achieving that is beyond the capacity of the U.S. alone.”

China has extended its military reach there by building artificial islands with airfields, facilities that American commanders have said they regard as military bases. Although China appears to be taking stock of the situation since the unfavorable ruling in The Hague, Chinese military officials warn that they will continue with their building program in the waterway.

“China will never stop our construction,” the head of China’s navy, Adm. Wu Shengli, said in July.

Last month, China took delivery of a dredger, one of the biggest in its inventory, from a Dutch shipyard. The vessel would be suitable for dredging at Scarborough Shoal, a disputed reef 150 miles from the Philippines.

China, some academics say, plans to create an extremely large artificial island that would complete a strategic triangle of bases in the sea.

“Obama is seen as reluctant to push back,” said Alan Dupont, a former defense intelligence analyst for the Australian government. “He has allowed China to militarize the islands in the South China Sea. The United States hasn’t put it at the top of its list.”

To reassure its allies, Mr. Dupont said, the United States would have to reinforce its military presence in the Pacific even further than it has under Mr. Obama’s pivot, or rebalance, as it has also been called.

“There has to be a rebalance plus,” he said.

Source:NY times.com

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04/Sep/2016

Philippines President: Explosion that killed 14 was act of terrorism

(CNN)Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte visited a morgue early Saturday to pay respects to the 14 people killed hours earlier in an explosion at a crowded market in Davao City.

At least 71 people were injured in the attack on the popular market.
Duterte described the attack as an act of terrorism, and declared the nation in "a state of lawlessness," the official Philippines News Agency reported, authorizing the police and military to search cars and frisk people at checkpoints.
He said he had not declared martial law, according to PNA.
"We have to confront the ugly head of terrorism," Duterte said Friday, standing near the explosion site in his hometown. "We will take this as a police matter about terrorism."
The cause of the explosion, which happened around 10 p.m. ET Friday, is not known. But presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said components of a suspected improvised explosive device were found at the scene, according to CNN affiliate ABS-CBN.
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Bloody crackdown on drugs

No group has claimed responsibility, but Duterte said it's possible the explosion "could be a reprisal" from extremists.
Philippine's National Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said he "assumes" the attack was carried out by the Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf.
Duterte, the longtime mayor of Davao City, was elected President in May. He campaigned on a no-nonsense approach to crime and launched an intense -- and deadly -- crackdown on drug dealers.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer's "Kill List" -- regarded as one of the most accurate records of the killings of suspected drug dealers by police and vigilantes -- has recorded 832 deaths since Duterte assumed office June 30. Police say at least 239 drug suspects were killed in the three weeks after Duterte's inauguration.
The government's heavy-handed tactics have drawn international criticism. Many public officials have been accused of being involved in the drug business.
And government troops have been battling Abu Sayyaf, which remains outside the country's sputtering peace process.
The group aims to establish an independent Islamic state on the southern island of Mindanao, where Davao City is located.
Abu Sayyaf is a violent extremist group that split from established Philippines separatist movement Moro National Liberation Front in 1991. It was formed by Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, who trained in the Middle East and reportedly met with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

'This is not a fascist state'

Duterte's spokesman said the constitution gives the President the power to "call out ... armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion."
The President can only impose martial law in case of invasion or rebellion, the statement said.
Duterte said people should submit to searches and frisking at checkpoints for the sake of public safety.
"We know that this is not a fascist state. I cannot control the movement of the citizens of the city and every Filipino has the right to enter and leave Davao. It is unfortunate we cannot stop and frisk anybody for just any reason," he said.
Sara Duterte, the President's daughter and the mayor of Davao City, issued a statement urging all citizens to report suspicious activity to the authorities. She also sent a message to other officials.
"I would like to remind other officials to stay within the bounds of their official duties according to their position," she said. "Please leave me in peace to do my job and I'll leave you to focus on your own work."

'I am really scared'

Leonor Rala, a 19-year-old medical technology student at San Pedro College, told CNN she was in her dorm and about to go to bed when she heard an explosion.
She said she initially thought something had fallen on the roof of a neighboring building. She went down to survey the scene of the blast, about 100 yards from her dorm. Emergency teams were already in place.
"I am really scared to go out," she said. "The roads are closed and nobody's allowed to go out of the city. There are bomb threats everywhere and some of my schoolmates are victims of the explosion and now dead."
She continued: "We're very terrified because Davao City was known to be the safest city in the Philippines and a situation like this is very rare."
Witness Janoz Laquihon told CNN Philippines he was at the scene when the explosion happened.
"I saw some smoke. I thought it's just barbecue. A few minutes later ... a big blast."
Witness Father Jboy Gonzales told CNN Philippines that he saw more than 30 people being loaded onto ambulances.
"[A] lot of people are wounded, shocked, traumatized," he said.
Duterte made his name in politics as the mayor of Davao City. His term in office was noted for his hardline stance on drug crime that he has now incorporated into his national policies. It has resulted in more than 1,900 people being killed in a crackdown that has drawn criticism at home and abroad.
Maria Ressa, executive editor of Philippines news website Rappler, said the blast occurred amid tensions surrounding Duterte's war on drugs as well as an ongoing peace process with Muslim militants in the southern Philippines.
SOURCE: CNN.com
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04/Sep/2016

FARC-Colombia peace deal finalized

Havana, Cuba (CNN)Negotiators seeking to end the five-decades-old bloody insurgency in Colombia said Wednesday they had reached a final peace deal in one of the world's longest-running conflicts.

For nearly four years, representatives from the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group have struggled to reach a deal that would not only end the fighting but also address issues of land reform, curtailment of the drug trade, repatriation of victims' families and trials for those suspected of human rights abuses.
A majority of Colombians must still approve the landmark deal in a referendum set for October 2.
Provisions that allow FARC leaders who confess their crimes to avoid prison may make the deal a bitter pill to swallow for many Colombians who think the rebels are escaping justice for decades of murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama called Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to congratulate him on the deal and pledge continued support to his government. The United States has given Colombia billions of dollars in aid to combat drug trafficking and terrorism, which helped kill top FARC commanders and led to scores of foot soldiers abandoning the group.
Negotiations in Cuba broke down several times and at points exposed the hatred festering between the government and rebels.
A ceasefire agreement was signed in June.
"The best way to end the war is sitting down to discuss the peace," said Colombia's chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle. "The war is over."
FARC commander Luciano Marín Arango, who is known by his alias Iván Márquez, said, "I think we have won the most beautiful battle: the peace of Colombia."
Inspired by the Cuban revolution, the Marxist guerrilla force FARC, the Spanish acronym for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, had originally sought to redistribute wealth at the point of a gun in the South American country.
But in recent years critics allege the FARC's estimated 7,000 soldiers had become a narco-terrorist force, reaping millions of dollars from cocaine shipments to the United States.
The war between the group and Colombian government has left an estimated 220,000 dead. About 5 million people have been displaced, according to some estimates.
Under the agreement, FARC rank-and-file soldiers will lay down their heavy weapons, leave jungle camps and slowly reincorporate into Colombian society with the help of government training programs.
The leaders of FARC have said they now intend to enter politics. The Colombian President said Wednesday that as part of the peace plan FARC will be given 10 seats in Colombia's Congress until 2026.
A FARC tweet sent Wednesday apparently showed the first effort to begin to redefine the rebel group. A FARC account posted a photo of a guerrilla couple chatting as the armed male fighter touches the female's leg flirtatiously.
"You... Me... Fighting foreign domination and creating the New Colombia... Think about it," the tweet read.
Source:CNN.com
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26/Aug/2016

U.S. servicemember killed in Afghan fighting, Pentagon says

WASHINGTON — An American service member was killed Tuesday in Afghanistan, the first combat casualty there since January, the military announced.

The attack on a patrol with a roadside bomb occurred in Helmand province where Taliban forces have been gaining ground against Afghan government security forces. The U.S.-led NATO coalition bolstering Afghan troops have scrambled in recent days to keep them from losing Helmand province, the restive area home to many Taliban members.

Another U.S. service member and six Afghan troops were also wounded in the attack.

About 100 U.S. special operations forces were sent there Monday to train and advise Afghan forces who were struggling to control the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook told reporters Monday that Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander in Afghanistan, sent U.S. troops to Helmand on a temporary basis.

"Part of that effort will be again to reinforce them in areas, particularly in Afghanistan, where they have seen some setbacks, and Helmand’s one of them," Cook said.

Tuesday's attack remains under investigation, according to the military command in Afghanistan.

"On behalf of all of U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, as well as Resolute Support, our deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of those involved," Nicholson said in a statement.

Source:USA Today.com

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23/Aug/2016

Judge in Texas blocks Obama transgender bathroom rules

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Texas has sided with school districts opposing the Obama administration's directive on transgender bathrooms, temporarily blocking the directive just before on the first day of school in Texas Monday. 

The ruling prevents the U.S. Department of Education from implementing guidance that required school districts to allow transgender students to choose which restroom and locker facilities to use.

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor's 38-page order said federal agencies exceeded their authority under the 1972 law banning sex discrimination in schools. The injunction applies nationwide, and follows a number of other recent court rulings against transgender students and employees.

The Texas ruling, issued late Sunday, turned on the congressional intent behind Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which requires that "facilities provided for students of one sex shall be comparable to such facilities provided for students of the other sex."

"It cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex" in that law "meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth," the judge wrote. "Without question, permitting educational institutions to provide separate housing to male and female students, and separate educational instruction concerning human sexuality, was to protect students’ personal privacy, or discussion of their personal privacy, while in the presence of members of the opposite biological sex."

The judge also ruled that the guidance failed to follow the law requiring that it get input from the public before drafting new regulations, and suggested that the federal guidance could be implemented if the Department of Education conducts a more formal rule-making process.

And he emphasized that nothing in the law prohibits other states from requiring transgender facilities on their own. “Those states who do not want to be covered by this injunction can easily avoid doing so by state law,” he said. Other lawsuits by transgender students can also go forward, he said.

"This case presents the difficult issue of balancing the protection of students’ rights and that of personal privacy when using school bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and other intimate facilities, while ensuring that no student is unnecessarily marginalized while attending school," wrote O'Connor, who was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2007 and sits in Fort Worth, Texas. "The sensitivity to this matter is heightened because defendants’ actions apply to the youngest child attending school and continues for every year throughout each child’s educational career."

The decision is at least the third legal setback for transgender rights in federal court this month. The U.S. Supreme Court blocked a lower court ruling requiring a Virginia school district to allow a biologically female transgender student to use the boy's restroom on Aug. 3. And last Thursday, a federal judge in Detroit upheld the firing of a transgender funeral home employee, ruling that "neither transgender status nor gender identity are protected classes" under anti-discrimination laws.

The Texas case was brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, who led a group of plaintiffs that included 12 other states and two school districts.

The plaintiffs argued that the Obama administration guidance came with the implicit threat that federal education funds could be withheld if school districts refused to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their chosen gender identity. The guidance also had implications for federal student privacy laws, threatening education officials with sanctions if they fail to address students by their preferred gender pronouns.

In a statement, Paxton praised the ruling as correcting "illegal federal overreach" by the Obama administration.

"This president is attempting to rewrite the laws enacted by the elected representatives of the people, and is threating to take away federal funding from schools to force them to conform," Paxton said. "That cannot be allowed to continue, which is why we took action to protect states and school districts, who are charged under state law to establish a safe and disciplined environment conducive to student learning.”

The Texas judge’s ruling came the day before the first day of classes for most Texas public schools.

Paul Castillo, a Dallas attorney for the gay rights group Lambda Legal, called the injunction a “bump in the road” and said the case will likely proceed to the federal district court in New Orleans and the U.S. Supreme Court, where it ultimately be resolved.

“Transgender students are already at high risk of harassment and being targeted for discrimination,” he said. “This decision is certainly indicative of the harm to transgender students who are simply seeking to be treated equally in all aspects of their education.”

U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said the Obama administration was disappointed in the decision and that "we are reviewing our options.”

Source:USA Today.com

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23/Aug/2016

Nigeria claims it killed Boko Haram leaders

The Nigerian military said Tuesday it had killed a number of senior leaders of the ruthless Boko Haram terrorist group and possibly the group's notorious commander.

The announcement came the same day U.S. Secretary to State John Kerry arrived in Nigeria for talks on how to combat militants in the West African nation, Africa's most populous.

"Their leader, so-called Abubakar Shekau, is believed to be fatally wounded on his shoulders," Nigerian military spokesman Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman said in a statement.

Usman also said three Boko Haram commanders — Abubakar Mubi, Malam Nuhu and Malam Hamman — were killed and several others wounded in airstrikes in the Sambisa Forest near the Cameroon border, Al Jazeera reported.

The military has made similar claims before, only to backtrack.

Boko Haram is based in the northeastern state of Borno, where it has conducted a series of violent terror attacks in its effort to establish strict islamic law. The group made international headlines two years ago when it kidnapped more than 200 girls from a school in Chibok. Earlier this month, the group claimed some of the girls had been injured in government airstrikes and that others had married Boko Haram fighters.

Shekau has led Boko Haram since 2009, although his grip was recently loosened after Islamic State leaders named an alternative leader for a Boko Haram splinter group. Shekau has denied losing any authority over the militants.

Kerry, visiting the cities of Sokoto and Abuja, is meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss counterterrorism efforts, the Nigerian economy, the fight against corruption and human rights issues.

In Sokoto, Kerry will deliver a speech on the importance of resilient communities and religious tolerance in countering violent extremism. In Abuja, the Secretary will meet with a group of adolescent girls working to change community perceptions that devalue the role of girls in society. Kerry also will meet with northern governors and religious leaders.

Nigeria's 184 million population is almost evenly split between Muslims, who are dominant in the north, and Christians who represent a majority in the south.

Source:CNN.com

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23/Aug/2016

Experts: New Clinton State Dept. emails show donor ‘access,’ not ‘favors’

Although a conservative group investigating Hillary Clinton’s relationship with donors to the Clinton Foundation maintains that newly released emails prove she granted special “access” and “favors,” during her State Department tenure, nonpartisan experts say that Judicial Watch is right about the former but has not yet proven the latter.

Their insights are important as the Clinton Foundation, the family’s charity, becomes a crucial flash point in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Clinton's Republican challenger, Donald Trump, is accusing the Democratic Party's nominee of “pay to play.” It's a narrative sure to continue after Trump hired a Republican operative, Steve Bannon, who wrote a documentary alleging the Clintons got rich from their connections with big business and foreign governments.

Judicial Watch, which obtained the emails through a Freedom of Information Act request, released 725 pages of documents Monday, including 20 exchanges not previously turned over to the State Department. It alleges Clinton’s former top aide, Huma Abedin, provided “special expedited access to the secretary of State” for donors who had contributed from $25,000 to $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. Many of the exchanges involve former top Foundation executive Doug Band.

“These new emails confirm that Hillary Clinton abused her office by selling favors to Clinton Foundation donors,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.

According to experts, the emails confirm donors were gaining access to Clinton, yet there is no evidence she granted them special favors, an important distinction that may determine how damaging the controversy is to Clinton’s campaign.

“These emails show that there was a long line of Clinton Foundation friends who had no qualms about asking the Clinton State Department for meetings, favors, and special treatment,” said Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, or POGO. “Not shocking, but it is disappointing that there were such blurred lines between State Department officials and outsiders. I see little action on these latest requests, but I think further investigation is needed.”

“It’s not clear from these emails what actually happened after most of this stuff,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan government oversight group. “That’s the missing piece of this puzzle.”

Here are the emails at issue, and the Clinton campaign’s response to them:

-- When Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain requested a 2009 meeting with Clinton, he was forced to go through the Clinton Foundation for an appointment until Band intervened. According to the Clinton Foundation website, Salman helped establish a scholarship program for CGI, and by 2010, it had contributed $32 million to the Clinton Global Initiative. According to the campaign, meeting with foreign leaders is, by definition, the role of the secretary of State and the meeting was arranged through official channels.

-- A 2009 exchange in which Band urged Abedin to get the agency to intervene in order to obtain a visa for members of a British football club, one of whose members was having difficulty because of a “criminal charge.” The campaign says the emails show no action was taken.

-- A 2009 meeting with SlimFast executive S. Daniel Abraham, who’d given between $5 million and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. The campaign notes that Abraham was also head of the Center for Middle East Peace at the time and that the meeting had nothing to do with the foundation.

Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin said "Once again this right-wing organization that has been going after the Clintons since the 1990s is distorting facts to make utterly false attacks."

“No matter how this group tries to mischaracterize these documents, the fact remains that Hillary Clinton never took action as Secretary of State because of donations to the Clinton Foundation,” he said.

Judicial Watch’s charge that Clinton abused her office is also complicated by U.S. law, as determined by the Supreme Court in a 2014 case titled McCutcheon v FEC.  The court determined that placing aggregate limits on campaign contributions is not valid and does not prevent corruption. “Ingratiation and access are not corruption,” the court found.

In the case of the emails, “This is classic access and influence buying,” said McGehee, yet, according to the court, it’s not corruption. “They say this is just the way the system works,” she said. “They‘re saying spending large sums of money doesn’t give rise to quid pro-quo favors.” Instead, the court said the risk of corruption is cured by disclosure requirements, “which tells you how screwed up it is,” she said.

The emails also show that certain donors were frustrated by their inability to quickly pull strings. In June 2009, Joyce Aboussie, a St. Louis-based foundation contributor, seemed frustrated in her attempts to arrange a meeting between Clinton and an energy executive. “We need this meeting with Secretary Clinton, who has been there now for nearly six months,” she wrote.

The emails highlight a trend in which donors are increasingly attempting to influence government not through specific campaign contributions but through affiliated groups, said McGehee. Aboussie and Abraham are also among Clinton's campaign bundlers who've raised at least $100,000.

“Hopefully, this situation tips the scales in favor openness and accountability to ensure that our government isn't captured by those with money or access,” Amey said.

Source:USA Today

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23/Aug/2016

Boko Haram's new leader promises to protect Muslims

Boko Haram's new leader promises to protect Muslims

Another girl taken by Boko Haram reappears
 

 

 

 
 

 

 
Another girl taken by Boko Haram reappears 03:18

(CNN)Boko Haram reportedly has a new leader who has assured an ISIS interviewer the group would not be targeting Muslims.

ISIS' magazine al-Naba announced that Sheikh Abu Musab al-Barnawi is the new leader of Boko Haram, an ISIS affiliate in Nigeria, in an interview with him in its recent issue.
Barnawi didn't promise to quit enslaving girls, nor to quit ambushing relief columns bringing food to 244,000 starving children, nor to quit slaughtering people who will not convert to Islam or fight for Boko Haram, nor to quit using children as bombs.
But in an interview with Naba, he did deny responsibility for attacks on Muslims, saying they were perpetrated by people with other agendas.
"We do not target prayer places or markets for people who belong to Islam," he told Naba.
 
The group was blamed -- although it did not take credit -- for twin market bombings in the cities of Kano and Yola last November, using children as young as 11 as suicide bombers.
Boko Haram does not consider all Muslims supporters and allies.
There have been suggestions it attacks certain mosques because members have spoken against it and helped federal officials with their crackdown. Its attacks are aimed at striking fear at the heart of the local population to prevent cooperation with the government, analysts say.
It has bombed schools, churches and mosques, kidnapped women and children, and assassinated politicians and religious leaders.
The militant group said its aim is to impose a stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Africa's most populous nation, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.
In recent years, Boko Haram attacks have intensified in an apparent show of defiance amid the nation's military onslaught. Its ambitions appear to have expanded to the destruction of the Nigerian government.
Nine months ago, CNN reported that Boko Haram had surpassed its affiliate ISIS in killing, at least in the previous year. In 2014, Boko Haram was responsible for 6,644 deaths, an increase of 317% from the previous year, according to the Global Terrorism Index.
By contrast, ISIS, the terror group to which Boko Haram reportedly pledged allegiance in March 2015, was responsible for 6,073 deaths.
The Barnawi interview left unanswered the fate of Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram's previous leader, who took over in 2009. His insurgency killed an estimated 20,000 people and drove 2.7 million people from homes in Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, according to Amnesty International.
Questions have swirled about Shekau, including whether he's dead. Even his age is unknown; estimates range between 35 and 44.
In recent years, the Nigerian military has touted his death, only to retract its claim after he appeared alive and vibrant in propaganda videos.
He uses the alias Darul Tawheed, and analysts describe him as a ruthless loner and master of disguise. He does not speak directly with members, opting to communicate through a few select confidants.
The United States has put a $7 million bounty on Shekau.
Source:CNN.com
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09/Aug/2016

Trump's economic speech: CNN's Reality Check Team vets the claims

Reality Check: Trump on the Obama-Clinton Economy

By Tami Luhby, CNNMoney

 

Donald Trump slammed President Obama and Hillary Clinton on Monday, saying their policies have hurt America economically.

"Home ownership is at its lowest rate in 51 years...58 percent of African-American youth are either outside the labor force or not employed...Meanwhile, American households are earning more than $4,000 less today than they were sixteen years ago," he said in Detroit.

Let's look at these one at a time:

On home ownership at its lowest level in half a century:

Some 62.9% of Americans owned a home in the second quarter of 2016, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. The rate hasn't been that low since the third quarter of 1965. The share of Americans owning homes peaked in the fourth quarter of 2004 at 69,2% and has declined since. We rate this claim as TRUE.

On 58% of young African-Americans being either outside the labor force or unemployed:

Trump has used this line before, often saying 58% of African-American youth have no job. The figure is likely extrapolated from the employment-population ratio, which shows that 42.7% of blacks ages 16 to 24 had a job in July. But that doesn't mean that the rest -- or 57.3% -- were unemployed. To be considered unemployed, one has to be looking for a job. Those in school or not looking for work are not included in the labor force. So Trump's statement is technically true, but it's misleading because many young Americans don't have jobs. Only 49% of all Americans age 16 to 24 are employed. We rate this claim TRUE, BUT MISLEADING.

Related: Are blacks worse off under Obama, like Trump says?

On American households earning $4,000 less today than 16 years ago:

Median household income was $53,657 in 2014, according to the latest Census figures available, which is about $4,000 lower than it was in 2000. But the Census data is out-of-date. Incomes have climbed since then, according to an analysis by Sentier Research. Median household income was $57,206 in June, compared to $ $57,826 in January 2000. We rate this claim as FALSE.

Reality Check: Trump says Hillary Clinton would tax the middle class

By Jeanne Sahadi, CNNMoney

Donald Trump asserted that Hillary Clinton is planning "another massive job-killing $1.3 trillion tax increase."

He went on to say that Clinton herself "accidentally told the truth and said she wanted to raise taxes on the middle class."

Trump's estimate for how much Clinton wants to raise taxes is just a little high -- independent analyses out it between $1.1 trillion and $1.2 trillion. Still, we rate this claim TRUE.

But those tax increases are largely targeted at the highest-income households. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center notes that "Nearly all of the tax increases would fall on the top 1 percent; the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers would see little or no change in their taxes."

For this reason, we rate Trump's claim on Clinton and the middle class as FALSE.

Reality Check: Trump on jobs

By Tami Luhby, CNNMoney

Donald Trump has repeatedly slammed President Obama and Hillary Clinton for hurting American workers.

He ticked off a litany of claims of how employment has suffered under the Obama administration.

"There are now 94.3 million Americans outside of the labor force. It was 80.5 million when President Obama took office. An increase of 14 million people...We have the lowest labor force participation rates in four decades," he said.

It's true that that in 2009 there were 80.5 million people who were not in the labor force -- meaning they did not have a job and haven't looked for one in the past four weeks -- and there are now 94.3 million. But that's not solely because of Obama's policies. While some working-age Americans have just given up looking for work, the aging of the country is also a powerful force. The number of Americans over age 65 grew by more than 11 million people over the same time period. So we rate the claim as TRUE, BUT MISLEADING.

On labor force participation, the rate was 63.4% in July. That's actually up a percentage point from September. And it's above the rate in July 1976, when it was 61.8%. The labor force participation rate, particularly among men, has been declining for decades. There are many reasons for this, including the aging of the country. Also, some people can't find positions that pay decently or don't have the education or skills to land employment. But since the participation rate was lower last year and it's above the level of four decades ago, we rate this claim as FALSE.

Reality check: Trump on Obama's energy legacy

By Matt Egan, CNNMoney

Donald Trump slammed President Obama's energy legacy as one that has been harmful to average Americans.

"The Obama-Clinton Administration has blocked and destroyed millions of jobs through their anti-energy regulations, while raising the price of electricity for both families and businesses," Trump said in a speech on Monday.

The U.S. has in fact lost many energy jobs the past few years. Since mid-2014, nearly 200,000 jobs have gone away as a result of cheap oil alone, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Yet these job cuts have largely been caused by low prices fueled by excess oil production, not regulation.

Coal jobs are also down and major coal producers like Peabody Energy have even filed for bankruptcy. While regulation has helped speed the decline of coal, experts argue that the abundance of cheap natural gas has been coal's biggest downfall.

We rate this claim on America losing energy jobs TRUE, BUT MISLEADING.

Trump also argues the Obama administration is "anti-energy." Obama did place some restrictions on fracking, though he has resisted calls from environmentalists to ban the controversial extraction method altogether.

The White House did place a temporary moratorium on Gulf of Mexico drilling after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. However, oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has rebounded.

Related: America's biggest oil boom came under Obama

And overall U.S. oil production is up dramatically under Obama, hitting a 43-year high in 2015. In fact, Obama has presided over the biggest increase in oil production in American history.

We rate this claim that Obama is "anti-energy" FALSE.

Reality Check: Trump on business tax rate

By Kate Grise, CNN

During a speech to the Detroit Economic Club on Monday, Donald Trump slammed America's business taxes saying, "The United States also has the highest business tax rate among the industrialized nations of 35 percent. It's almost 40 percent when you add in taxes at the state level."

It is true that American businesses face the highest official corporate tax rate. The federal rate stands at 35%, and the average state and local tax rate is about 6%, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

But that's not what many companies actually pay. The Government Accountability Office found that large, profitable U.S. corporations paid an average effective federal tax rate of 12.6% in 2010 thanks to things such as tax credits, exemptions and offshore tax havens. In each year from 2006 to 2012, at least two-thirds of all active corporations had no federal income liability, according to the GAO.

U.S. corporate tax collection totaled 2.6% of GDP in 2014, according to the OECD. That was the 16th highest rate among the 34 nations.

So when it comes to American corporations, we rate Trump's statement as TRUE, BUT MISLEADING. The United States has the highest official corporate tax rate, but that's not what many companies actually pay.

Reality Check: Trump on the average worker's tax burden

By Kate Grise, CNN

During a speech on his economic policies, Donald Trump decried America's high income taxes.

"The average worker today pays 31.5% of their wages to income and payroll taxes," he said. "On top of that, state and local taxes consume another 10%."

Trump cites a report from the Tax Foundation, a conservative think tank, which itself cites 2014 data from the OECD. That data includes a worker's income tax, his payroll tax contributions and the payroll tax contributions that his employer make on his behalf.

On a state and local level, the Tax Foundation says that U.S. average state-local tax burden in 2012 was 9.9% of the state's income.

Trump cited the information accurately. But the data itself may present a skewed picture.

For one, the Tax Foundation's average worker is assumed to be a single worker without children making $50,000. But that's much higher than the median wage for the average worker with no children, which was about $32,000 in 2014, according to Census Bureau data. And the more you make, the more you pay in taxes.

For workers making median wages, their tax burden is likely to be lower, said Len Burman, director of the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. For instance, he noted a family of four with $75,845 in earnings in 2014 paid an average tax rate of 20.64%, including the employer portion of payroll taxes.

As for state and local taxes, the 10% represents the share of all income paid in taxes, not of the average worker's income. Nor do the calculations account for the fact that workers may deduct state and local income taxes on their federal return, thereby lowering their overall tax burden.

For those reasons, we rate Trump's claim as FALSE.

Reality check: Trump on Obamacare and jobs

By Patrick Gillespie, CNNMoney

Donald Trump claims that, as president, he would repeal Obamacare, which would save 2 million American jobs.

"One of my first acts as President will be to repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare, saving another 2 million American jobs," Trump said.

In the speech transcript, Trump's staff links to a December 2015 report by the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office that estimated the U.S. would lose 2 million workers by the year 2025 due to Obamacare.

he CBO report argues that workers may opt to work less to retain their eligibility for Medicaid or federal subsidies under Obamacare. Its estimate does not suggest employers will start axing jobs -- just that employees might start cutting back hours to stay under certain income thresholds to qualify for Medicaid and subsidies.

CNN Money found Americans who are already choosing to work less. However, some workers left full-time jobs that provided healthcare so that they could become entrepreneurs and start small businesses. They say Obamacare gives them the flexibility to choose a new career.

It's important to note the CBO's projections vary. For instance, in 2014, the CBO forecasted that Obamacare would reduce the labor force by 2.5 million workers by 2024. Last year that estimate was trimmed to 2 million workers by 2025. The CBO emphasizes that its estimates are "uncertain."

It's unclear if repealing Obamacare would "save" all the jobs since it would be workers choosing to drop out of the work force, not employers firing workers. Still, Trump's claim comes from the CBO report, not his own staff's calculations. We rate this claim on Obamacare reducing the workforce as TRUE, BUT MISLEADING.

Source:CNN.com

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09/Aug/2016

Trump floats Ivanka for Cabinet, prompting Clinton jab

(CNN)Hillary Clinton jabbed Donald Trump on Twitter after the GOP nominee answered a question about potential female cabinet members by naming his daughter, Ivanka, as a "popular" candidate.

Winking at a Mitt Romney gaffe from his 2012 presidential bid, Clinton wrote Thursday: "We know a guy with a binder, @realDonaldTrump. (He might not take your calls, though.)"
The Democratic nominee was referencing Romney's remarks during a 2012 presidential debate about gender equality, when he said he'd reviewed "binders full of women" for positions in his administration as governor of Massachusetts.
And Clinton was responding comments Trump made in an interview with "First Coast News" in Florida, when he was asked to list possible female candidates for cabinet positions if he were elected president. Trump responded during the interview by naming his daughter, Ivanka and declining to identify any other women who could be considered for roles.
"I want to know just as a female, who you would actually put into office as one of the first females in your cabinet?" asked Angelia Savage, a reporter with "First Coast News."
"Well there are so many different ones to choose, I can tell you everybody would say -- 'Put Ivanka in! Put Ivanka in!' You know that, right?" Trump said.
"She's very popular, she's done very well. And you know Ivanka very well. But there really are so many that are talented people, like you," he said to Savage, "You're so talented, I don't know if your viewers know that." The GOP nominee proceeded to joke about naming Savage to his cabinet.
Source:CNN.com
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05/Aug/2016

Ex-CIA chief endorses Clinton, labels Trump 'threat to national security'

(CNN)Michael Morell, former acting director of the CIA, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in a New York Times op-ed Friday, praising the former secretary of state's qualifications and warning that GOP nominee Donald Trump "may well pose a threat to national security."

Morell, a 33-year veteran of the CIA who led the agency from 2010-2013, said that while in the past he has "always been silent about my preference for president," the high stakes of the 2016 election mean he can "no longer" withhold his opinion.
"On Nov. 8, I will vote for Hillary Clinton. Between now and then, I will do everything I can to ensure she is elected as our 45th president," Morell wrote.
The former CIA chief said that "Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security."
"My training as an intelligence officer taught me to call it as I see it. This is what I did for the C.I.A. This is what I am doing now. Our nation will be much safer with Hillary Clinton as president."
He wrote, "In sharp contrast to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump has no experience on national security. Even more important, the character traits he has exhibited during the primary season suggest he would be a poor, even dangerous, commander in chief."
Morell also suggested that Trump is being played by Russian President Vladimir Putin, writing: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump's vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated."
"In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation," Morell said.
Morell hailed Clinton for being "prepared, detail-oriented, thoughtful, inquisitive, and willing to change her mind if presented with a compelling argument," citing his time working with her when she was secretary of state. "I never saw her bring politics into the Situation Room," he wrote.
Trump's running mate Mike Pence, the Indiana governor, criticized Morell in an interview on NBC's "Today" Friday.
"Honestly, the comment by the former CIA official, I suppose this is the same CIA that told the president that ISIS was the JV team," Pence said.
He disputed Morell's characterization of Trump as unwittingly doing Russia's bidding.
"People that know Donald Trump know that he knows how to stand up and he knows how to stand strong, and standing up to Russian aggression is going to be really different under a Trump-Pence administration, and everybody knows that," Pence said.
Source:CNN.com
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05/Aug/2016

Could this soap stop malaria?

(CNN)It's just a little sting, so slight often the victim doesn't even feel it.

But it's administered by the most dangerous animal in the world -- the female anopheles mosquito.
This insect sinking its mouth into human flesh to feed its unborn children killed 438,000 people in 2015 alone -- 90% of those fatalities were in Sub-Saharan Africa.
For this region, malaria is still a crippling burden, estimated to cost countries such as Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo up to 1.3% of their GDP, according to the Malaria Consortium.
So imagine if this issue could be wiped out by a simple bar of soap.
That's what a Burkina Faso start-up is proposing.

A bar of soap

Faso Soap is the brainchild of Moctar Dembélé, of Burkina Faso, and Gérard Niyondiko, of Burundi.
Comprised of Shea butter, lemongrass, African marigold and other natural resources that are plentiful in Burkina Faso, it is designed to leave an insect-repelling odor on the user's skin after washing.
It could be used to prevent against a wide range of mosquito-transmitted conditions -- perhaps eventually even Zika.
"Soap is one product you can find in all African family homes, no matter how poor they are," Niyondiko tells CNN. "Most people wash in the evening and you want to be protected before you go to bed at night."
The majority of Africans, he adds, do not have access or the financial means to buy expensive repellents.

Suds that stick around

Getting people to use the soap, the team knew, would be easy -- but making it effective after it has been rinsed off would be hard.
 
"When you use soap, you tend to rinse it off. So part of the effects of Faso Soap would be thrown away," says Franck Langevin, campaigns director for the Ouagadougou-based outfit.
"We decided to combine the latest cosmetic technology with natural repellent ingredients ... we put the natural ingredients into micro-capsules around 100 to 150 micrometers in size, embedded in the soap. These are small enough to stick onto the skin's pores.
"After the soap is rinsed, the capsules remain and gradually break and release the repellent little by little over a six to eight hour period."

The next step

In 2013, Dembélé and Niyondiko became the first African winners of the Global Social Venture Competition at the University of California Berkeley, winning $25,000.
Since then, Faso Soap has been partnering with organizations that have "competencies we don't", such as market-leading soap manufacturers in West Africa, NGOs including Doctors Without Borders for distribution opportunities, and taking their product through rigorous scientific testing so they can bring it to market.
"Once we have the hard scientific data on the soap and its effectiveness in preventing against malaria, we want to approach national and international entities for subsidies," Langevin says.
While markets such as Asia could be more profitable, the group are keenly focused on providing cheap access to the soap to those in need in Africa.
They have set a goal for Faso Soap to save 100,000 lives by 2018.

A possible protection against Zika?

The possibilities for Faso Soap don't end with malaria. Other mosquito transmitted diseases -- such as Zika -- could also be prevented by the product.
More research needs to be done in this area.
"Zika is transmitted by the Tiger mosquito, which looks the same but is actually very different. We need to know to what extent we can be effective with essential oils," says Langevin.
"For now, working on malaria is a big enough challenge -- it kills way more people than Zika.
"A child dies from malaria every two minutes."
Source:CNN.com
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02/Aug/2016

Election hit-list? Politicians' unsolved killings mar South African campaign

adysmith, South Africa (CNN)The killing happened in broad daylight.

It was Mandela Day, a day many South Africans dedicate to helping others.
Khanyisile Ngobesi-Sibisi's car was full of blankets to donate to charity, but as she drove around a bend near the edge of this small town, a white car pulled up alongside her convoy.
"She was following me from behind. I heard the first gunshot; not knowing my mother had been shot. Then I heard the second gunshot," says Zhamokhule, her 18-year-old son.
Two gunmen shot Khanyisile eight times through the driver's side door and window, according to witnesses.
"I can't explain the feeling I was having," Zhamokhule says. "I was shocked by disbelief that my mother had been shot."
Zhamokhule applied pressure to his mother's multiple wounds, but to no avail; she died at the scene.

Bright future cut short

Khanyisile was a popular figure in Ladysmith -- a teacher at the local primary school, and a life-long member of the African National Congress (ANC).
Many here saw a bright future for her.
She was standing as a Ladysmith councilor in South Africa's upcoming election, and her face smiles proudly down from the election posters still hanging on the street where she was murdered.
"Vote ANC," they read.
"My mother told me that someone warned her not to go to the Mandela Day event," says Zhamokhule.
Ladysmith's indoor stadium is packed with hundreds of mourners clad in the ANC's traditional colors: green, black and gold.
A relative of Khanyisile steps up to the microphone, "Yes, some of you are mourning, but some of you are celebrating. Because you did this."

ANC politicians targeted

Khanyisile was just the latest victim in a series of unsolved murders of ANC politicians in KwaZulu-Natal.
The ANC's final rally in Johannesburg. Many polls suggest the ANC could face a stern test in the upcoming election
 
In the run-up to this election, more than a dozen politicians have been killed in this province: shot while watching TV; killed taking their children to school; ambushed on the way home from political meetings.
Not a single case has been solved.
"We are making progress. It just takes time," says Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi a spokesman for the Hawks, the country's specialized investigation division.
Several former investigators from South Africa's police told CNN that ANC members could be killing rivals to access elected government positions. The positions can mean access to corrupt wealth, they said.
Even the ANC's leadership admits the party is wracked by factional infighting.
"These killings are just the tip of the iceberg, people are killed when people can't be coerced by other means," says David Bruce, an independent researcher who studies violent crime.
"It says a lot about how politics takes place and politics is organized. Access to political office is not just a means of making a living. It is a way of establishing and maintaining networks of patronage," he says.

Kickbacks and corruption

Corruption watchdogs blame so-called "tenderpreneurs" -- individual councilors who get kickbacks for awarding dodgy government contracts -- for fueling corruption at the local level.
All of the country's political parties, including the ANC, say they are committed to stamping out corruption.
The factional fighting is embarrassing for the party that has ruled South Africa since the country's first democratic election in 1994.
Many believe that they face their sternest test yet in Wednesday's local government elections.
Polling has consistently shown that the ANC could lose ground, or even lose power in key cities like Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay and even Africa's business hub, Johannesburg.
Campaigning has been a tough fight between the ruling party and the official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), a liberal party that has tried to broaden its appeal to traditional ANC voters.
The ANC has lost support in certain key urban areas to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by charismatic populist Julius Malema.

History of violence

A series of corruption scandals involving President Jacob Zuma and a moribund economy has hurt the ANC's election campaign.
But in much of KwaZulu-Natal, the party is expected win with relative ease.
That makes the killings here even more disturbing for ANC politicians who have lived through darker times.
In the late 1980s and early '90s, supporters of the ANC and rival Inkatha Freedom Party were locked in a virtual war for support, with the hidden hand of South Africa's apartheid security services.
Thousands died in that struggle for supremacy.
"We have gone through serious violence in [KwaZulu-Natal]," says ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala."We had reached a point where we thought that such things were no more, would not happen again."
This time the killings seem to be within their ranks.
Source: CNN.com
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02/Aug/2016

Top 'Nigerian prince' email scammer arrested

Scam letters in Nigeria are nothing new.

They’re commonly known as the 419, says Sam Olukoya, a journalist based in Lagos.

Part of the reason why the malware-hacked emails are so popular in Nigeria is because they’re inexpensive to construct. With almost 61% of the Nigerian population in poverty, it also makes for easy money.

“There are so many people trying to make a business out of this. It’s quite a thriving business. One, it’s so easy to establish you just need a few hundred dollars to buy a computer, to buy internet, to buy data and that’s business,” Olukoya says.

Despite the frequency of scamming emails in Nigeria, one skillful con artist stands out. The head of a multinational network was arrested Monday in the capital of Nigeria’s River State, Port Harcourt.

The network was headed by a 40-year-old Nigerian known as "Mike." The network, composed of over 40 individuals spread across Nigeria, Malaysia and South Africa, was behind global scams worth more than $60 million.

“You can understand how elaborate this type of scam is, if somebody has made $60 million, that doesn’t come easy,” Olukoya says.

“He’s believed to have hacked into the accounts of some medium- and small-scale establishments and using that to ask people to pay money to accounts which he controlled,” Olukoya explains. “These people were assuming that these accounts belonged to the companies they have been dealing with.”

His operations used malware to take over systems, fake email accounts to ask businesses for money and romance scams. According to Interpol’s website, it is believed that one fraudulent transaction by Mike and his associates landed them $1.5 million.

Even though Nigeria isn’t the only country to conduct advance-fee frauds, 51% of it comes from the western African country, according to a Microsoft report.

Across the internet, these scamming emails are known as the subject of a meme: the Nigerian Prince, a common type of social engineering scheme that includes a so-called Nigerian royal figure soliciting the reader to transfer thousands of dollars with the promise that they will reward them with a larger sum in the end.

Here’s how one would start, according to the Washington Post:

 

DEAR SIR, I am Prince Kufour Otumfuo the elder son of the late King Otumfuo Opoku ware II whose demise occur following a brief illness. Before the death of my father, King Otumfuo Opoku ware II, I was authorised and officially known as the next successor and beneficiary of my father's property according to African Traditional rite. …

Olukoya receives these types of emails every day. One text message asked him to call a number to "reactivate" his ATM card for a bank account he didn't own. He recognized it as a scam, but others aren't so lucky.

"I imagine that so many people would have called the same number. What he would have done was he would have been able to get the details on the card," Olukoya says. "When he gets the details, he will definitely empty their bank account."

Source:USA Today.com

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02/Aug/2016

Warren Buffett challenges Donald Trump to discuss tax returns

Warren Buffett challenged Donald Trump Monday to discuss their tax returns publicly.

"I'll bring my tax return. He can bring his tax return...Just let people ask us questions about items on there," Buffett said in his introduction of Hillary Clinton at an Omaha rally. "Nobody is going to arrest us. There are no rules against showing your tax returns."

 

The Omaha billionaire said he's willing to meet Trump any where and any time before Election Day to let the public inquire about their tax filings. Tax returns reveal a lot more about a person's finances than financial statements do, Buffett said.

Trump has resisted releasing his returns, saying he is being audited by the IRS. This breaks with the longstanding tradition that presidential candidates release at least some recent tax returns. It's also unclear whether Mike Pence, Trump's running mate who is Indiana's governor, will make his returns public.

Many experts, however, say that being audited doesn't stop Trump from revealing his returns.

Buffett acknowledged that he, too, is under audit, but said that's not a reason to withhold tax returns.

The only reason to keep your tax return private is if you have something to hide, Buffett said.

"You're only afraid if you've got something to be afraid about," he said. "He's not afraid because of the IRS. He's afraid because of you."

Source:Cnn.com

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02/Aug/2016

Black Dandyism: When dressing got political

(CNN)Dressing, especially for black men, can be political. That's according to a new exhibit at London's Photographers' Gallery, "Made You Look: Dandyism and Black Masculinity".

"If you are a black man, you are judged on the basis of how you are dressed," says the show's curator, Ekow Eshun, who points to recent examples of African American men attacked based on appearance.
"Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman for looking 'suspicious' wearing a hoodie," he adds.
In this new exhibit, Eshun focuses on the history of dandyism -- from Mali's sharp-looking party goers, to the sartorial rock stars envisioned by photographer Hassan Hajjaj.

Dandyism as counter culture

Black men are simultaneously hyper visible and invisible to wider society, says Eshun.
"The dandy is a counter position to that, it is about resisting the stereotypes that are often invited upon black men," he explains.
Eshun -- a Ghanaian-British broadcaster and journalist who made history as the first black editor of a mainstream British style magazine (the now defunct Arena) -- says the exhibit's theme is close to home.
e recalls an incident with his father when someone called the police on them, though they were only sitting in a parked car.
"I had just turned 16, and with no prompting on my part, the idea of me as a threat seemed abruptly widespread. When I sat beside them on the tube [subway], women clutched their handbags a little closer."
The exhibition at the Photographers' Gallery aims to show how, by the act of donning stylish attire, black men are defying stereotypes and committing acts of personal political rebellion. Black dandyism is "about confounding expectations of how black men should look" says Eshun.
Malick Sidibé spent his nights photographing Mali's confident revelers.
 
Eshun chose images from as far back as 1904. One features a pair of dapper, young black Victorians, posing gallantly in their cravats. The exhibit also features Malian photographer Malick Sidibé, who was famous for his portraits of confident Malians post colonial rule, and the work of Kristin-Lee Moolman, who portrayed androgynous youths in Soweto's townships.
Even a simple act, like say, wearing bell bottoms, has at times been mired with intense political meaning. The photographer Samuel Fosso, who took customer portraits in his studio in Bangui, Central African Republic during the day, would by night turn the camera on himself. He would put on tight shirts, bell bottoms and platform boots.
"All of the things he's wearing in the images were banned," explains Eshun. "So he's almost sticking two fingers up at the establishment by playing dress up at night."
Eshun acknowledges that dandyism itself is superficial but argues the concept, when applied in racial terms, isn't just about style; it transcends into politics.
More poignantly, like Fosso, many of the men in the images are not dressed particularly extravagantly says Eshun. But it's a "knowingness that you are shaping your identity on your own terms."
Source:CNN.com
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30/Jul/2016

Top takeaways from day 1 of the Democratic convention

PHILADELPHIA — Democrats proved Monday that they can be as dysfunctional as Republicans, which is fun for those of us who cover political dysfunction for a living.

Here are some takeaways from the first day of the Democratic convention, which began only after host Debbie Wasserman Schultz was essentially disinvited:

One thing was clear Monday: Bernie Sanders' supporters are nowhere near ready to kiss and make up with a Democratic Party that they feel worked against their candidate and their movement, especially after recently released party emails by Wikileaks further confirmed in their view.

Bernie backers booed lustily as the platform and rules were adopted, chanting over even the opening invocation, and for the first hour or so of the proceedings, booed every mention of Hillary Clinton's name.

Even Elizabeth Warren was heckled later by a few disgruntled convention-goers over her prime-time speech in support of Clinton. "We trusted you!" they shouted.

Many Sanders delegates acknowledged off the floor that they would likely end up voting for Clinton because they REALLY don't like Donald Trump. But it was also clear that Clinton has a ways to go to make these people into something more that reluctant supporters.

Texas delegate Barbara Fetonte said, "She needs to show in her actions that she wants us and right now she really hasn’t done that." And while Sanders has said his supporters should back Clinton, "Bernie can’t just say it and it happens. I love Bernie and I respect the hell out of him, but it’s hard.”

The Progressive Party

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and comedian Sarah Silverman

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and comedian Sarah Silverman speak during the Democratic National Convention on July 25, 2016. (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY)

 

There are obviously still fences to mend (see above), but the message Democrats aimed to send on the first night of their convention was clear: The party's leading liberals are firmly behind Clinton.

There was Minnesota Sen. Al Franken doing what amounted to a stand-up routine, both by himself and later with comedienne Sarah Silverman, eviscerating Trump on everything from Trump University to Trump steaks.

There was Warren, the Massachusetts senator and hero of the left who withheld her endorsement of Clinton until June, blasting away at Trump, which has become her favorite past-time on Twitter. She took aim at his "stupid wall," Trump University and for saying "he was excited for the 2008 housing crash."

One thing was clear Monday: Bernie Sanders' supporters are nowhere near ready to kiss and make up with a Democratic Party that they feel worked against their candidate and their movement, especially after recently released party emails by Wikileaks further confirmed in their view.

Bernie backers booed lustily as the platform and rules were adopted, chanting over even the opening invocation, and for the first hour or so of the proceedings, booed every mention of Hillary Clinton's name.

Even Elizabeth Warren was heckled later by a few disgruntled convention-goers over her prime-time speech in support of Clinton. "We trusted you!" they shouted.

Many Sanders delegates acknowledged off the floor that they would likely end up voting for Clinton because they REALLY don't like Donald Trump. But it was also clear that Clinton has a ways to go to make these people into something more that reluctant supporters.

Texas delegate Barbara Fetonte said, "She needs to show in her actions that she wants us and right now she really hasn’t done that." And while Sanders has said his supporters should back Clinton, "Bernie can’t just say it and it happens. I love Bernie and I respect the hell out of him, but it’s hard.”

The Progressive Party

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and comedian Sarah Silverman

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and comedian Sarah Silverman speak during the Democratic National Convention on July 25, 2016. (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY)

 

There are obviously still fences to mend (see above), but the message Democrats aimed to send on the first night of their convention was clear: The party's leading liberals are firmly behind Clinton.

There was Minnesota Sen. Al Franken doing what amounted to a stand-up routine, both by himself and later with comedienne Sarah Silverman, eviscerating Trump on everything from Trump University to Trump steaks.

There was Warren, the Massachusetts senator and hero of the left who withheld her endorsement of Clinton until June, blasting away at Trump, which has become her favorite past-time on Twitter. She took aim at his "stupid wall," Trump University and for saying "he was excited for the 2008 housing crash."

Source USA today.com

 

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26/Jul/2016

Wasserman Schultz resigning as party leader

(CNN)Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced Sunday she is stepping down as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee at the end of the party's convention, which is set to begin here Monday.

The Florida congresswoman's resignation -- under heavy pressure from top Democrats -- comes amid the release of thousand of leaked emails showing DNC staffers favoring Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the party's 2016 primary contest.
Her announcement that she was leaving had pro-Sanders supporters cheering during a demonstration in Philadelphia and Donald Trump and other Republicans crowing about the disarray among the Democrats.
Wasserman Schultz talked with both President Barack Obama and Clinton before making her announcement, a Democratic source said.
"Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals [which include electing Clinton president] is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention," Wasserman Schultz said in the statement.
"As Party Chair, this week I will open and close the Convention and I will address our delegates about the stakes involved in this election not only for Democrats, but for all Americans," she continued.
Earlier in the day, a Democrat close to the talks told CNN that she would not appear on stage, but Wasserman Schultz and her allies persisted, and she is now expected to appear Monday afternoon. But her schedule still remained subject to change.
Wasserman Schultz had faced intense pressure over the weekend to quit her post, several Democratic leaders told CNN, urging her to quell a growing controversy threatening to disrupt Clinton's nominating convention.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid wanted her out even before the leaked DNC emails scandal broke and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wouldn't lift a finger to try and save her House colleague, sources said.
Sanders, who will address the convention Monday night in prime time, issued a statement calling for a new direction for the party that would welcome the working class and young voters -- and remain neutral in future Democratic primary contests.
"Debbie Wasserman Schultz has made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party," Sanders said.
"While she deserves thanks for her years of service, the party now needs new leadership that will open the doors of the party and welcome in working people and young people," he added. "The party leadership must also always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race."
DNC Vice Chair Donna Brazile will serve as interim chair through the election, it was announced Sunday. She had been a CNN political commentator, but CNN and Brazile have mutually agreed to suspend their contract, effective immediately, although she will remain on air during the convention week in an unpaid capacity, CNN said. CNN will revisit the contract once Brazile concludes her role.
Separately, a Democratic operative said Hispanic leaders close to Clinton and her high command were discussing Housing Secretary Julian Castro as a possible successor to Wasserman Schultz at the DNC helm, among a number of other candidates whose name are being mentioned.
Chants of "Debbie is done!" and "Debbie resigned!" broke out at a pro-Sanders rally in Philadelphia after the news was announced.
Party officials decided Saturday that Wasserman Schultz would not have a major speaking role or preside over daily convention proceedings this week. The DNC Rules Committee has named Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, as permanent chair of the convention, according to a DNC source. She will gavel each session to order and will gavel each session closed.
"She's been quarantined," another top Democrat said of Wasserman Schultz, following a meeting Saturday night but before her announcement that she was leaving.

Both sides of the aisle react

Earlier Sunday, David Axelrod, a former top adviser to Obama's presidential campaigns and a CNN senior political commentator, said Wasserman Schultz should resign.
"I would ask her to step aside. I would ask her to step aside because she's a distraction in a week that is Hillary Clinton's week," Axelrod told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."
After she announced she was out, Axelrod tweeted, "I find this quibbling over whether @DWStweets leaves now or Friday silly. What difference does it make? She's out. She's leaving. Move on!"
Obama issued a statement, saying, "For the last eight years, Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has had my back. This afternoon, I called her to let her know that I am grateful."
And Clinton thanked Wasserman Schultz for her leadership of the party.
"I am grateful to Debbie for getting the Democratic Party to this year's historic convention in Philadelphia, and I know that this week's events will be a success thanks to her hard work and leadership," Clinton said.
Trump also weighed in, tweeting and misspelling Wasserman Schultz's name, "Today proves what I have always known, that @Reince Priebus is the tough one and the smart one, not Debbie Wasserman Shultz (@DWStweets.)"
Later, he tweeted, "Crooked Hillary Clinton was not at all loyal to the person in her rigged system that pushed her over the top, DWS. Too bad Bernie flamed out."
Wasserman's Republican counterpart, Reince Priebus, said, "I think the day's events show really the uphill climb Democrats face this week."
"The extreme left will not be satisfied by one person's resignation," the Republican party national chairman added.
Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said Clinton should follow Wasserman Schultz out the door.
"Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned over her failure to secure the DNC's email servers and the rigged system she set up with the Clinton campaign," he said in a statement. "Now Hillary Clinton should follow Wasserman Schultz's lead and drop out over her failure to safeguard top secret, classified information both on her unauthorized home server and while traveling abroad."
Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager, called Wasserman Schultz's departure a win on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" on Sunday.
"I think what the signal was today is that the voices of Bernie Sanders supporters have been heard," he said. "And other people, frankly, in the party, Hillary Clinton supporters, who felt this was the last straw, that she had to go, and this shows they have been heard and gives us opportunity to move forward toward November -- united to deal with the problem of Donald Trump."
Wasserman Schultz's stewardship of the DNC has been under fire through most of the presidential primary process, but her removal from the convention stage comes following the release of nearly 20,000 emails.
One email appears to show DNC staffers asking how they can reference Sanders' faith to weaken him in the eyes of Southern voters. Another seems to depict an attorney advising the committee on how to defend Clinton against an accusation by the Sanders campaign of not living up to a joint fundraising agreement.
Before the announcement, Sanders on Sunday told Tapper the release of the DNC emails that show its staffers working against him underscores the position he's held for months: Wasserman Schultz needs to go.
"I don't think she is qualified to be the chair of the DNC, not only for these awful emails, which revealed the prejudice of the DNC, but also because we need a party that reaches out to working people and young people, and I don't think her leadership style is doing that," Sanders told Tapper on "State of the Union," on the eve of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
"I am not an atheist," he said. "But aside from all of that, it is an outrage and sad that you would have people in important positions in the DNC trying to undermine my campaign. It goes without saying: The function of the DNC is to represent all of the candidates -- to be fair and even-minded."
He added: "But again, we discussed this many, many months ago, on this show, so what is revealed now is not a shock to me."

'It's gas meets flame'

The publication of the emails comes just a weekend before the start of the Democratic convention, where a major objective for Clinton is to unify the Democratic party by winning over Sanders' voters.
Several Democratic sources told CNN that the leaked DNC emails may inflame tensions between the Clinton and Sanders camps.
"It could threaten their agreement," one Democrat said, referring to the deal reached between Clinton and Sanders about the convention, delegates and the DNC.
The party had agreed to include more progressive principles in its official platform and, as part of the deal, Sanders dropped his fight to contest Wasserman Schultz as the head of the DNC.
"It's gas meets flame," the Democrat said.
The issue surfaced on Saturday at Clinton's first campaign event with Tim Kaine as her running mate, when a protester was escorted out of Florida International University in Miami. The protester shouted "DNC leaks" soon after Clinton thanked Wasserman Schultz for her leadership at the DNC.
The DNC has previously had its files hacked by an individual named "Guccifer 2.0" that may have had ties to the Russians.
Hackers stole opposition research on Trump from the DNC's servers in mid-June. Two separate Russian intelligence-linked cyberattack groups both took place in the DNC's networks.
Source: CNN.com
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25/Jul/2016

Cruz booed

Cleveland (CNN)Ted Cruz sensationally withheld an endorsement of Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention Wednesday, earning a chorus of boos from the floor before he was upstaged in a power play by the GOP nominee himself.

In a dramatic development, as Cruz wrapped up his speech, Trump suddenly appeared in the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. He walked to join his family in a VIP area and flashed a thumbs-up -- a gesture that transmitted clear anger at the Texas senator's behavior.
Cruz, his party's runner-up, uttered Trump's name just once -- to congratulate him -- and instead pitched the ideological brand of conservatism that endears him to the GOP's base.
"I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night," Cruz said. "And like each of you, I want to see the principles that our party believes prevail in November."
But as it was clear Cruz was going to end his speech without endorsing Trump, delegates began to boo and some chanted "We want Trump!"
"Don't stay home in November," Cruz said toward the end of his otherwise very well-received speech. "Stand and speak and vote your conscience."
As delegates began to protest, Sen. Cruz's wife, Heidi Cruz, was heckled by Trump supporters shouting "Goldman Sachs!" and escorted out by security. Heidi Cruz, who is an employee of Goldman Sachs, declined to answer questions from reporters, saying, "I don't talk to the media, thanks."
The stunning political theater between the top two contenders in the Republican primary race blew open divisions in the party that the convention is designed to heal, and suggested Cruz believes Trump will lose in November.
Cruz's appearance at the Cleveland convention had been the subject of intense anticipation over his attitude toward Trump, after their intensely personal exchanges in the late stages of the primary race.
He got a prolonged standing ovation as he walked on stage for a speech that appeared to be an attempt to establish himself as the guardian of conservative values that some activists doubt Trump shares.

Blocked from Adelson suite

Cruz's rebuke ignited a hot scene around the senator as soon as he left the stage. People averted their eyes from Cruz and his wife as they walked with their security detail on the skybox level of boisterous Republicans.
On the donor suite level, people approached Cruz and insulted him, a source told CNN's Dana Bash. One state party chairman reacted so angrily that he had to be restrained.
Cruz, who has long sought the support of GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson, was turned away when he tried to enter Adelson's suite.
Andy Abboud, a senior aide to the Las Vegas casino magnate, said Cruz was initially invited to come up to visit the Adelsons, but when he failed to endorse Trump the invitation was rescinded.
"When he didn't endorse, they were stunned and disappointed," Abboud told CNN.
"We could not allow Ted Cruz to use the Adelsons as a prop against Donald Trump," he added. "The Adelsons support Donald Trump and made that clear. They like Ted Cruz, but there was no way the Adelsons were going to be the first stop after not endorsing. That would be disrespectful to our nominee."
Trump did stop the suite, and Abboud tweeted out a picture of Trump with Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson.
Trump, whose insults of Cruz were a constant on the campaign trail over the past year, tweeted that Cruz didn't honor the pledge GOP candidates had signed to back the eventual Republican nominee.
"Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn't honor the pledge! I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!"
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- a former presidential candidate and now a Trump backer -- blasted Cruz's speech in an interview with Bash.
"I think it was awful," Christie said. "And quite frankly, I think it was something selfish. And he signed a pledge. And it's his job to keep his word."
Trump lawyer Michael Cohen said on CNN that "the only way to describe it is political suicide."
A source close to Cruz said the senator wasn't shocked by the mood after the speech.
"He expected people to not approve," the source said. "Not surprised at the reaction."
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who accepted the nomination as Trump's vice presidential nominee at the end of Wednesday's session, sidestepped when asked about Cruz's speech.
"I am just grateful for all the support we are receiving and I am excited about the future," Pence said.
Eric Trump's reaction: "The audience didn't seem to like it right?"
Asked about the impact of the non-endorsement, Eric Trump responded, "I don't think it makes any difference in the world."
Hillary Clinton's campaign seized on Cruz's speech as well, tweeting: "Vote your conscience" with a link to her website.

Delegates unhappy as well: 'He failed the nation'

The reaction from the floor was also swift and harsh.
Newt Gingrich, appearing after Cruz, argued that Cruz's advocacy for constitutionalism meant that he, implicitly, endorsed Trump -- words he himself did not say.
"So to paraphrase Ted Cruz, if you want to protect the Constitution this fall, there's only one possible way and that's to vote the Trump-Pence ticket."
Richard Black, a delegate from Virginia who chaired Cruz's campaign, said after Cruz's speech that it was "doubtful" he would support him again.
"In the end, each individual has a duty to the nation that transcends the duty to themselves,' Black said. "That's where he failed... He failed the nation."
Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, who backed Cruz, told CNN he was "disappointed" by Cruz' speech.
On him saying "vote your conscience", Franks said, "for the people in this room, a vote of conscience is a Trump vote."
Michigan GOP Rep. Bill Huizenga, a former Marco Rubio supporter, called Cruz' speech "a mistake."
Huizenga said it was also a mistake for the Trump campaign to give Cruz a coveted prime-time speaking slot without some type of "pre-condition" that he would formally endorse Trump.
Jonathan Barnett, a Republican national committeeman from Arkansas, walked off the floor after Cruz's speech.
"He's self-centered. It's all about Ted Cruz. All he did is ruin his political career," Barnett said. "I think he's finished."
Barnett said this is not the kind of grace one shows their party's nominee: "Reagan wouldn't have done that. He endorsed Ford."
Arizona delegate Bruce Ash expressed a similar sentiment.
"Cruz missed his moment. All he had to do was say 'Trump' and he used the dog whistle for 'conscience.' A very disappointing message," Ash texted.

Cruz's difficult challenge

The speech was difficult from the start: Cruz's goal was to walk a tightrope and keep alive his political viability for 2020 without alienating Trump's legion of supporters.
It was the latter that tripped him up.
Cruz came to the dais facing significant pressure to endorse Trump from his campaign aides and surrogates. Yet he is still at a moment of power and relevance: Only 45, a Latino senator who ended his campaign holding onto more political capital than he has ever enjoyed in his career.
His challenge was to remain well-liked in a GOP that, at least for now, is under the control of a man Cruz has indicated that he does not respect. Cruz effectively placed a risky bet that the Republican Party will judge Trump harshly and reward him in the new era for not caving.
"If skillfully played, his stock will rise," Randall Dunning, a Texas delegate who has misgivings about Trump, said the day before he spoke.
Wes Brumit, a Cruz delegate from Texas, defended Cruz's non-endorsement Wednesday night.
"He did mention all the points Trump mentioned: building a wall, fighting ISIS. He just didn't come right out and endorse," said Bumit, who sported a red "Ted Cruz for President" T-shirt and a cowboy hat. "He said everyone should be able to vote their conscience. And that's OK with me."
As for those who loudly booed Cruz? "All the boos were exactly the New York values that Ted has talked about."
Bumit added: "I think Mr. Trump has some things to apologize for to Cruz before Sen Cruz can come onboard fully for Trump."
But the question now is how skillful Cruz played it. If Trump loses narrowly, holdouts like Cruz could be held responsible in 2020 for not unifying the party. And it is clear there are Trump loyalists who now say they are loathe to back him.
Cruz and Trump, once political allies, turned on one another as they became the top two Republicans in the race. And their tension exploded when Trump's associates fanned flames of salacious tabloid rumors about Cruz and later attacked Cruz's father.
Since withdrawing from the race, Cruz has repeatedly declined to endorse Trump, but maintained that he could always come around to backing the Republican nominee. Yet their past tension -- and the personal attacks -- cast a cloud over any accord between the two aspirants.
Cruz's chief strategist Jason Johnson tweeted: "Since it's obvious the shock is contrived, let me ask: What the Hell did they expect from the son of the man who killed JFK? Light'n up."

Cruz booed

Story highlights

  • The Texas senator was booed after he didn't endorse Trump
  • "Stand and speak and vote your conscience," he said

Cleveland (CNN)Ted Cruz sensationally withheld an endorsement of Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention Wednesday, earning a chorus of boos from the floor before he was upstaged in a power play by the GOP nominee himself.

In a dramatic development, as Cruz wrapped up his speech, Trump suddenly appeared in the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. He walked to join his family in a VIP area and flashed a thumbs-up -- a gesture that transmitted clear anger at the Texas senator's behavior.
Cruz, his party's runner-up, uttered Trump's name just once -- to congratulate him -- and instead pitched the ideological brand of conservatism that endears him to the GOP's base.
"I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night," Cruz said. "And like each of you, I want to see the principles that our party believes prevail in November."
 
Laura Ingraham scolds Trump holdouts: Honor your pledge
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 
Laura Ingraham scolds Trump holdouts: Honor your pledge 01:54
But as it was clear Cruz was going to end his speech without endorsing Trump, delegates began to boo and some chanted "We want Trump!"
"Don't stay home in November," Cruz said toward the end of his otherwise very well-received speech. "Stand and speak and vote your conscience."
As delegates began to protest, Sen. Cruz's wife, Heidi Cruz, was heckled by Trump supporters shouting "Goldman Sachs!" and escorted out by security. Heidi Cruz, who is an employee of Goldman Sachs, declined to answer questions from reporters, saying, "I don't talk to the media, thanks."
The stunning political theater between the top two contenders in the Republican primary race blew open divisions in the party that the convention is designed to heal, and suggested Cruz believes Trump will lose in November.
Cruz's appearance at the Cleveland convention had been the subject of intense anticipation over his attitude toward Trump, after their intensely personal exchanges in the late stages of the primary race.
He got a prolonged standing ovation as he walked on stage for a speech that appeared to be an attempt to establish himself as the guardian of conservative values that some activists doubt Trump shares.

Blocked from Adelson suite

Cruz's rebuke ignited a hot scene around the senator as soon as he left the stage. People averted their eyes from Cruz and his wife as they walked with their security detail on the skybox level of boisterous Republicans.
On the donor suite level, people approached Cruz and insulted him, a source told CNN's Dana Bash. One state party chairman reacted so angrily that he had to be restrained.
Cruz, who has long sought the support of GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson, was turned away when he tried to enter Adelson's suite.
Andy Abboud, a senior aide to the Las Vegas casino magnate, said Cruz was initially invited to come up to visit the Adelsons, but when he failed to endorse Trump the invitation was rescinded.
"When he didn't endorse, they were stunned and disappointed," Abboud told CNN.
"We could not allow Ted Cruz to use the Adelsons as a prop against Donald Trump," he added. "The Adelsons support Donald Trump and made that clear. They like Ted Cruz, but there was no way the Adelsons were going to be the first stop after not endorsing. That would be disrespectful to our nominee."
Trump did stop the suite, and Abboud tweeted out a picture of Trump with Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson.
Trump, whose insults of Cruz were a constant on the campaign trail over the past year, tweeted that Cruz didn't honor the pledge GOP candidates had signed to back the eventual Republican nominee.
"Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn't honor the pledge! I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!"
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- a former presidential candidate and now a Trump backer -- blasted Cruz's speech in an interview with Bash.
"I think it was awful," Christie said. "And quite frankly, I think it was something selfish. And he signed a pledge. And it's his job to keep his word."
Trump lawyer Michael Cohen said on CNN that "the only way to describe it is political suicide."
A source close to Cruz said the senator wasn't shocked by the mood after the speech.
"He expected people to not approve," the source said. "Not surprised at the reaction."
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who accepted the nomination as Trump's vice presidential nominee at the end of Wednesday's session, sidestepped when asked about Cruz's speech.
"I am just grateful for all the support we are receiving and I am excited about the future," Pence said.
Eric Trump's reaction: "The audience didn't seem to like it right?"
Asked about the impact of the non-endorsement, Eric Trump responded, "I don't think it makes any difference in the world."
Hillary Clinton's campaign seized on Cruz's speech as well, tweeting: "Vote your conscience" with a link to her website.

Delegates unhappy as well: 'He failed the nation'

The reaction from the floor was also swift and harsh.
Newt Gingrich, appearing after Cruz, argued that Cruz's advocacy for constitutionalism meant that he, implicitly, endorsed Trump -- words he himself did not say.
"So to paraphrase Ted Cruz, if you want to protect the Constitution this fall, there's only one possible way and that's to vote the Trump-Pence ticket."
Richard Black, a delegate from Virginia who chaired Cruz's campaign, said after Cruz's speech that it was "doubtful" he would support him again.
"In the end, each individual has a duty to the nation that transcends the duty to themselves,' Black said. "That's where he failed... He failed the nation."
Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, who backed Cruz, told CNN he was "disappointed" by Cruz' speech.
On him saying "vote your conscience", Franks said, "for the people in this room, a vote of conscience is a Trump vote."
Michigan GOP Rep. Bill Huizenga, a former Marco Rubio supporter, called Cruz' speech "a mistake."
Huizenga said it was also a mistake for the Trump campaign to give Cruz a coveted prime-time speaking slot without some type of "pre-condition" that he would formally endorse Trump.
Jonathan Barnett, a Republican national committeeman from Arkansas, walked off the floor after Cruz's speech.
"He's self-centered. It's all about Ted Cruz. All he did is ruin his political career," Barnett said. "I think he's finished."
Barnett said this is not the kind of grace one shows their party's nominee: "Reagan wouldn't have done that. He endorsed Ford."
Arizona delegate Bruce Ash expressed a similar sentiment.
"Cruz missed his moment. All he had to do was say 'Trump' and he used the dog whistle for 'conscience.' A very disappointing message," Ash texted.

Cruz's difficult challenge

The speech was difficult from the start: Cruz's goal was to walk a tightrope and keep alive his political viability for 2020 without alienating Trump's legion of supporters.
 
Trump's plane interrupts Ted Cruz
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 
Trump's plane interrupts Ted Cruz 00:55
It was the latter that tripped him up.
Cruz came to the dais facing significant pressure to endorse Trump from his campaign aides and surrogates. Yet he is still at a moment of power and relevance: Only 45, a Latino senator who ended his campaign holding onto more political capital than he has ever enjoyed in his career.
His challenge was to remain well-liked in a GOP that, at least for now, is under the control of a man Cruz has indicated that he does not respect. Cruz effectively placed a risky bet that the Republican Party will judge Trump harshly and reward him in the new era for not caving.
"If skillfully played, his stock will rise," Randall Dunning, a Texas delegate who has misgivings about Trump, said the day before he spoke.
Wes Brumit, a Cruz delegate from Texas, defended Cruz's non-endorsement Wednesday night.
"He did mention all the points Trump mentioned: building a wall, fighting ISIS. He just didn't come right out and endorse," said Bumit, who sported a red "Ted Cruz for President" T-shirt and a cowboy hat. "He said everyone should be able to vote their conscience. And that's OK with me."
As for those who loudly booed Cruz? "All the boos were exactly the New York values that Ted has talked about."
Bumit added: "I think Mr. Trump has some things to apologize for to Cruz before Sen Cruz can come onboard fully for Trump."
But the question now is how skillful Cruz played it. If Trump loses narrowly, holdouts like Cruz could be held responsible in 2020 for not unifying the party. And it is clear there are Trump loyalists who now say they are loathe to back him.
Cruz and Trump, once political allies, turned on one another as they became the top two Republicans in the race. And their tension exploded when Trump's associates fanned flames of salacious tabloid rumors about Cruz and later attacked Cruz's father.
Since withdrawing from the race, Cruz has repeatedly declined to endorse Trump, but maintained that he could always come around to backing the Republican nominee. Yet their past tension -- and the personal attacks -- cast a cloud over any accord between the two aspirants.
Cruz's chief strategist Jason Johnson tweeted: "Since it's obvious the shock is contrived, let me ask: What the Hell did they expect from the son of the man who killed JFK? Light'n up."
Former Cruz aide Brian Phillips also defended the senator: "Just more proof this is about submission. We were told for months Trump didn't need Cruz, but when he doesn't endorse they go apoplectic."
The remarkable moment at the convention was the second time Cruz was upstaged by Trump Wednesday.
At a rally on the Cleveland waterfront, as Cruz spoke gingerly to fellow Republicans about "our nominee" and the uncertain future under his former rival, Trump's plane flew in the clear skies behind him.
"That was pretty well orchestrated" Cruz said as the Trump-emblazoned aircraft buzzed through the air and the crowd booed.
Turning to his campaign manager, Jeff Roe, Cruz said, "Jeff, did you email them to fly the plane right when I said that?"
Source:CNN.com
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21/Jul/2016

Report: Megyn Kelly told Fox investigators Ailes sexually harassed her, too

Fox News broadcaster Megyn Kelly has told investigators hired by 21st Century Fox that her boss, Roger Ailes, has sexually harassed her in the past, and Ailes has now been asked to resign by Aug. 1 or face termination over the recently surfaced allegations about his workplace behavior, according to a report by New York magazine.

Twenty-first Century Fox, the media giant that owns Fox News Channel, declined to comment. Spokespeople for Fox News, the conservative-leaning cable news network founded by Ailes in 1996, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Ailes, who's Fox News' chairman and CEO, was sued on July 6 by former Fox broadcaster Gretchen Carlson, who claimed that her career was sabotaged by Ailes after she refused his sexual advances. He has vigorously denied the allegation, saying her lawsuit is a retaliatory measure for the network's refusal to renew her contract in June. She was let go, Ailes said, due to the low ratings of her show, The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson.

Twenty-first Century Fox, while expressing confidence in Ailes, has hired law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to conduct an investigation into Carlson's claims. After reviewing the probe's initial findings, 21st Century Fox's top executives -- executive chairman Rupert Murdoch; his eldest son and co-executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch; and CEO James Murdoch, Murdoch's younger son -- have agreed to remove Ailes, according to the New York magazine report. It was written and reported by Gabriel Sherman, who's authored a critical biography of Ailes, The Loudest Voice in the Room.

Ailes now has a deadline of Aug. 1 to resign or face being fired for cause, the report said.

Several female Fox broadcasters, including Greta Van Susteren and Jeanine Pirro, have come out in support of Ailes in recent days. But the notable silence from Kelly, the network's rising star, on the matter has raised eyebrows among industry watchers.

In an interview with Charlie Rose in 2015, Kelly said Ailes was her mentor. "He's also a friend," she said. "I depend on him for friendship and sane, honest advice. He gives you advice on personal life, who you are and how you're translating on television. He has this x-ray vision into your soul."

Source:USA Today

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19/Jul/2016

Donald Trump Forces G.O.P. to Choose Between Insularity and Outreach

As Republicans stream into Cleveland to nominate Donald J. Trump for president, they confront a party divided and deeply imperiled by his racially divisive campaign. He has called for cracking down on Muslims and undocumented immigrants, stoked fears of crime and terrorism and repeatedly declared that the United States is in a war for its very survival.

 

But amid gloom about Republican prospects in November, Mr. Trump may have endangered the party in a more lasting way: by forging a coalition of white voters driven primarily by themes of hard-right nationalism and cultural identity.

 

Republicans have wrestled for years with the push and pull of seeking to win over new groups of voters while tending to their overwhelmingly white and conservative base. Now, Mr. Trump’s candidacy may force them into making a fateful choice: whether to fully embrace the Trump model and become, effectively, a party of white identity politics, or to pursue a broader political coalition by repudiating Mr. Trump’s ideas — and many of the voters he has gathered behind his campaign.

 

With his diatribes against Islam, immigration from Mexico and economic competition from Asia, Mr. Trump has amassed dominant support from restive white voters. His political approach would have Republicans court working-class and rural whites, mainly in the South and Midwest, at the grievous cost of alienating minorities and women, who often decide presidential races.

 

In his choice of running mate, Mr. Trump moved to further shore up his support among Midwestern whites. Passing over a throng of nonwhite Republicans recently elected to high office, he settled on Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, whose only demonstrated appeal is to conservative-leaning whites in the Rust Belt.

The coalition that carried Mr. Trump to the nomination he will formally claim at the Republican National Convention this week in Cleveland is likely to remain a powerful force on the right, even if he is defeated in November. But its continued sway within the party could suffocate Republicans at the national level, stifling attempts to expand beyond a dwindling base of aggrieved older voters.

 

A starkly different path forward for Republicans would involve rejecting that base and the ideas that Mr. Trump has used to assemble it.

 

In order to build a winning party again, some Republican leaders say, the party will have to disavow Mr. Trump’s exclusionary message, even at the price of driving away voters at the core of the Republican base — perhaps a third or more of the party.

 

This approach would amount to a highly risky lurch away from the faction that made Mr. Trump the Republican nominee, and toward a community of female, Latino and Asian voters who have never been reliable Republicans. Should the effort falter, and Republicans fail to win a second look from these Democratic-leaning groups, they could find themselves stranded with virtually no base at all.

 

If they are divided over the proper course forward, Republican leaders agree that a wrenching struggle is coming.

 

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan predicted that the aftermath of the election would bring “a fight for the soul of our party,” and said Republicans would have to reject the politics of racial resentment, which he called “a loser.”

 

“Our job is not to preach to a shrinking choir; it’s to win converts,” said Mr. Ryan, who has endorsed Mr. Trump but criticizes his pronouncements with regularity.

 

Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump who plans to skip the convention, said more bluntly that the party should be prepared to break with Mr. Trump and the voters who have cheered his pledges to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and ban Muslims from entering the country.

“You’ve got to hope that, if this race keeps going the way it looks to be going, that it’s enough of a jolt to wake people up and say we don’t want to be relegated to second place in every future presidential campaign,” Mr. Flake said.

 

He suggested a purge of racists from the party that would recall the expulsion of the John Birch Society, a fringe nationalist group, from Republican ranks a half-century ago.

 

“Those who want a Muslim ban, those who will disparage individuals or groups — yes, we ought to, we need to,” Mr. Flake said.

 

Many Republicans balk at the idea of executing a kind of mass deportation from within the party’s base, arguing that Mr. Trump has demonstrated the potency of issues outside the establishment Republican catechism, like the mix of trade protectionism, draconian immigration restrictions and resistance to foreign wars summed up in his slogan “America First.”

 

Republican and Democratic strategists who have studied his coalition believe Mr. Trump’s following may constitute one-third to one-half of Republican primary voters — people drawn principally to his willingness to defy the sensitivities of racial politics and to channel populist anger over immigration and economic change.

 

Republicans have long struggled to navigate elections in which the party’s base holds views at odds with the larger national electorate on issues like same-sex marriage and gun rights. But Mr. Trump has exacerbated this perennial challenge, focusing the intraparty debate almost entirely on racially charged arguments about immigration and Islam that make the old conservative-moderate divisions seem quaint.

 

In a sense, he has expanded to potentially catastrophic proportions the racial and cultural dilemma that confronted Mitt Romney in 2012. Mr. Romney ran to the right on immigration in the primaries, pledging to clamp down on the Mexican border and push undocumented workers out of the country. He won nearly 60 percent of the white vote against President Obama, but lost by historic margins among Hispanic and Asian voters.

 

Mr. Trump appears likely to lose nonwhites in an even greater landslide than Mr. Romney.

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who wrote a book urging Republicans to pursue nonwhite voters, said Mr. Trump would have to win about 70 percent of whites to make up the difference, an exceedingly daunting political task.

That kind of political calculus has not yet budged Mr. Trump’s most fervent backers, who see the 2016 race as a battle over national identity.

 

The appeal of a Trump-like message may go beyond even the share of primary voters that Mr. Trump captured: Exit polls found solid majorities of Republican primary voters supportive of his pledge to block Muslims from entering the country. In the general election, polls show most voters oppose that plan.

 

Last fall, the immigration reform group FWD.us conducted polls in three swing states testing arguments against Mr. Trump, and found that most voters opposed his pledge to round up and deport millions of undocumented immigrants — but “very conservative” Republicans tended to support the idea.

Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia and a former House majority leader, warned that Republicans would have to thoroughly repudiate ideas like the Muslim ban after November. “I do know now with Trump, he is appealing to a core that is very passionate and intense,” Mr. Cantor said, “but what we’re seeing in so many of the public polls now is that it has turned off many more than that.”
 

Mr. Trump’s approach is an alluring path to prominence on the right: Already, a handful of up-and-coming Republicans from the party’s conservative wing have moved to court his core voters. Some have argued his message could be more potent in the hands of a less flawed messenger.

Mr. Pence, who sharply criticized some of Mr. Trump’s proposals in the Republican primary race, campaigned hard to join his ticket in the general election.
Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a first-term lawmaker who has taken steps toward a future presidential race, argued that the party should be prepared to go further than Mr. Trump and propose new restrictions on even legal immigration.

“Sometimes being tough-minded is the compassionate approach,” Mr. Cotton said, rejecting the less-strident “compassionate conservatism” espoused by George W. Bush. “I don’t see much compassion in continuing to bring a million legal immigrants to this country a year when our work force participation rate is at historic lows, when we have record high numbers of people on food stamps and disability.”

Laura Ingraham, a conservative radio host supportive of Mr. Trump, said the party’s future base would have to be made up of “working-class nationalists,” who have been drawn to Mr. Trump and reject the Bush-era policies around immigration and trade. “The next governing coalition that calls itself conservative will have to reflect the views of the pro-Trump voters,” she said.
The hope among some Republican leaders is that Mr. Trump’s supporters may be placated, after a bruising defeat, by reshaping the party’s platform on a few key issues like trade and national security, without redefining Republican values from top to bottom in racial terms.
Yet the struggle to define Republican values may not come at a time, or on terms, of the party’s own choosing: Should Hillary Clinton win the presidency, Democrats are expected to press again for a comprehensive immigration reform law, along the lines of a bipartisan deal that passed the Senate in 2013 before stalling in the House. The fight could split the Republican Party next year much as Mr. Trump’s campaign has in 2016.
Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, a youthful military veteran who has eyed higher office, said he would “push back really hard” on any effort on the right to harden the party’s line on immigration after a Trump defeat.
Mr. Kinzinger said the party would have to reintroduce itself to the American people in less bluntly divisive terms. After 12 years without a Republican president, he said, Republicans would have to “take our conservative principles and re-explain what they are, and attract people that don’t necessarily traditionally vote Republican.”
With both paths forward carrying painful risks, some Republicans fear the party will chart its course next year much as it did after losing in 2008 and 2012: by simply muddling onward.

Mr. Flake invoked the Republican National Committee’s so-called autopsy report after the 2012 campaign, which argued for minority outreach and immigration reform, as a sign of the futility of the party’s predicament.

“We’ll conclude we have to have a bigger tent and got to be more inclusive, particularly with Hispanics and other growing demographic groups,” said Mr. Flake, looking ahead to the months after this November. “And then maybe some populist will rise up again and we’ll go through the whole same process again.”

Source:CNN.com

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17/Jul/2016

Investors prefer Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump

Americans with money in the stock market have a clear preference for the next president of the United States: Hillary Clinton.

Among investors, 45% think Clinton would be better for the stock market versus 34% for Trump, according to the latest quarterly survey from E*Trade Financial (ETFC). The survey captures the views of people with at least $10,000 in an online trading account.

 

It may not be a surprise that Clinton came out on top. The U.S. stock market is hitting record highs. Serious investors with thousands (if not millions) in the market probably wouldn't mind more of the same from Washington D.C.: a Democrat in the White House (Clinton) and Republicans keeping control of the House of Representatives.

"The markets love divided government," says Greg Valliere of Horizon Investments. "Clinton would be check-mated in the GOP House."

E*Trade also asked investors which candidate would do a better for the economy. The results were similar, although not as strong for the Democrat: 41% said Clinton versus 33% for Trump. The rest of the respondents said "other" or "none of the above."

The economy is the No. 1 issue in Election 2016. America may have low unemployment and decent growth, but economic anxiety remains high. Trade, reining in Wall Street and the need for more good-paying jobs have dominated the campaign trail. Even among investors surveyed by E*Trade, the vast majority gave the U.S. economy an mediocre "B" or "C" grade.

Clinton and Trump are fighting to convince voters they are the best candidate to lift the economy.

In other polls, when ALL voters are asked who would be the better for the economy, Trump has the edge. But there seems to be a consensus emerging on Wall Street and Silicon Valley that Clinton would be the better choice for the business and tech worlds. She has proposed a major boost to infrastructure spending to repair America's roads, bridges and IT, and she wants to raise taxes on the rich.

There are concerns that Trump's plans to scale back foreign trade and put hefty tariffs on goods coming from China could start a trade war and sink the U.S. economy into a recession. The economists at Moody's Analytics predict 3.5 million job losses under President Trump and a stock market correction (if not worse). A Trump adviser calls the Moody's analysis "garbage" and argues that Trump's big tax cuts for businesses and individuals will spur growth.

The selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as Trump's running mate casts doubt on how fervent a President Trump would be on curtailing trade. Pence has been a strong supporter of free trade in the past, including voting in favor of trade deals with Panama, Colombia and South Korea while he was in Congress.

The E*Trade survey was conducted July 2 to July 11 after the Brexit vote but before Trump's vice presidential selection.

Source:CNN.com

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17/Jul/2016

Bernie Sanders endorses Hillary Clinton

Portsmouth, New Hampshire (CNN)Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders formally declared an end to their political rivalry Tuesday, joining forces to take on a shared enemy: Donald Trump.

"I have come here to make it as clear as possible why I am endorsing Hillary Clinton and why she must become our next president," Sanders said at a joint rally here. "Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nomination and I congratulate her for that."
The 74-year-old self-described democratic socialist, who has been a thorn in Clinton's side over the last year, pledged to support his former rival through Election Day: "I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States."
But there appeared to be little natural chemistry between Clinton and Sanders and their body language was noticeably stiff. The two avoided physical contact after first walking on stage together, and Sanders, in his 30-minute speech, repeatedly mentioned Clinton by name without acknowledging that she was standing next to him looking on.
After concluding his speech, Sanders appeared to move in for a handshake -- which Clinton ignored by stretching out her arms and offering a hug, instead.
"We are joining forces to defeat Donald Trump!" Clinton declared. "I can't help but say how much more enjoyable this election is going to be when we are on the same side. You know what? We are stronger together!"
And even as she struck a victorious tone, Clinton also repeatedly and directly addressed the Sanders supporters in the high school gymnasium.
She walked through a number of policy issues where Sanders had pulled her to the left during the course of the election -- minimum wage; the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, college affordability -- to make a broader concession: the movement that Sanders created was nothing short of a political revolution.
"Sen. Sanders has brought people off the sidelines and into the political process. He has energized and inspired a generation of young people who care deeply about our country," she said. "To everyone here and everyone cross the country who poured your heart and soul into Sen. Sanders' campaign: Thank you."
The long-anticipated unity event, coming less than two weeks ahead of the Democratic National Convention, effectively puts to rest Democratic fears of a political nightmare scenario: that Sanders might sit on his hands in the general election, or worse, run as a third-party candidate on the left.
Clinton aides are confident that Sanders -- who excited the liberal base and won young voters by large margins during the primary -- could be a potent weapon against Trump and help Clinton rev up liberal voters.
But even at an occasion meant to turn the page on their primary battle, Sanders reminded Clinton, who stood next to him on stage, of the millions of Americans who had rejected her.
"Let me begin by thanking the 13 million Americans who voted for me during the Democratic primaries," Sanders said. "Our campaign won the primaries and caucuses in 22 states, and when the roll call at the Democratic National Convention is announced, it will show that we won almost 1,900 delegates."
Tuesday's event is the byproduct of weeks of conversations between Robby Mook, Clinton's campaign manager, and Jeff Weaver, Sanders' top and most trusted aide.
Aides and advisers said that while Sanders and Clinton's June meeting in Washington, D.C., laid the groundwork for the New Hampshire event, it was Mook and Weaver who made the cooperation between the campaigns possible. After Clinton and Sanders left their meeting at the Hilton, Mook and Weaver stayed for two hours to discuss how to work together.
The two campaign managers would continue to talk daily, a Clinton aide said, and Mook traveled to Burlington, Vermont -- where Sanders' campaign is headquartered -- last month so that the two could meet at the Farmhouse Tap and Grill to continue their work together.
With Mook munching on a salad and Weaver eating a burger, the two hammered out how Clinton and Sanders could come together for an event like Tuesday's rally - and how the rivals could work together going forward. Mook also began working directly with Jane Sanders, the senator's wife, in the lead up to policy Clinton's announcements on college affordability and healthcare that moved her closer to Sanders' positions.
Tuesday's endorsement will help Clinton "enormously," said former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, a Clinton supporter who co-chairs the party's Rules Committee.
And in a nod to Sanders's successful fundraising efforts that brought in millions of dollars from small donors, with at one time an average donation of $27, Clinton's campaign has made $27 an option on its online donor page.

Hard feelings still persist among Sanders backers

But converting all Sanders fans may be impossible.
"Given, frankly, some of the criticism that he made, I think it will take work to get all of them there," Frank said.
At the rally, where both Sanders and Clinton signs, T-shirts and buttons dotted the crowd, there were plenty of Sanders loyalists who said they are not sold on Clinton -- and might never convert.
Marie Clark, a Sanders supporter from Laconia, New Hampshire, said she remains devoted to Sanders -- or no one. "I'm Bernie or Bust," said Clark, who plans to write Sanders in.
Asked whether she thought that would help Trump, she said, "I think people need to vote for something rather than against something."
"I want to vote for someone who has integrity, someone who has been consistent for 40 years," Clark said. "I will always support a political revolution."
Patti Covino drove from Vermont to attend Tuesday's event and held a sign that read: "Only Bernie."
"I would follow Bernie to the ends of the earth, but I will never follow him to Hillary," Covino said. "I'm not voting for Trump, I will write Bernie in. It doesn't matter what he says."
Trump has sought to appeal to Sanders supporters, saying he better represents Americans angry at the political establishment than Clinton does. Clinton believes Sanders can capture those attracted to Trump, especially in states the senator won such as New Hampshire, Michigan and Wisconsin.
In advance of the event, Trump criticized the endorsement on Twitter, saying Sanders, "totally sold out to Crooked Hillary Clinton."
"I am somewhat surprised that Bernie Sanders was not true to himself and his supporters. They are not happy that he is selling out!" Trump tweeted.
Responding to another Trump tweet, Sanders's campaign decried the presumptive Republican nominee's "big talk."

Clinton efforts to appeal to liberals

Sanders' endorsement had been elusive for Clinton long after she clinched the nomination. For weeks, Sanders refused to concede, continuing to hold rallies and advocate for his agenda, rattling Democrats eager to begin the general election.
But with the primary season firmly behind her, appeasing liberals with the help of Sanders and popular Democrats like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is now just one piece of her broader challenge of winning over large swaths of the general election electorate, including independents.
On Thursday, Clinton will meet with Senate Democrats at a policy luncheon, a Democratic source said, part of her efforts to coalesce party support around her candidacy.
Clinton's final victory over Sanders comes at the end of a long campaign in which she repeatedly moved to accommodate him and the liberal activists behind his campaign. She reversed her position on sensitive political issues like the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and the Keystone XL Pipeline -- two projects that progressive staunchly oppose.
And last week, Clinton announced a new college affordability plan that mirrored Sanders' proposals. It proposes tuition-free enrollment in public in-state colleges for families making up to $85,000, with the income benchmark increasing to $125,000 over the course of several years.
Sanders also was able to win concessions from Clinton for language in the Democratic party platform last weekend in Orlando, including a provision calling for a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage.
"We got 80% of what we wanted in this platform," Warren Gunnels, a top Sanders foreign policy adviser, told CNN.
The perception that Sanders has dragged his feet -- and forced Clinton to move left in a protracted primary race -- has frustrated some Democrats.
Jim Kessler, senior vice president of policy at the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, said Tuesday's endorsement was weeks overdue.
"The idea of trying to extract concessions out of the nominee when we're going to be in a brutal fight against he most unqualified Republican nominee ever was not helpful," Kessler said. "The middle is where this is going to be fought. So any time that the candidate is being pressed to move to the left, you have to ask: am I going to lose votes in the center?"
Mook and other Clinton aides have worked to win over Sanders supporters as well. Mook held meeting with Sanders' delegates in New Hampshire and Vermont. Marlon Marshall, the campaign's director of States and Political Engagement, traveled to the Wyoming to speak with Sanders delegates there. And Jake Sullivan, Clinton's top policy adviser, spoke with Sanders supporters in Washington state.
Clinton's campaign has also worked to hire Sanders aides. Rich Pelletier, Sanders' deputy campaign manager, started sending Marshall resumes last month and the Clinton campaign in Brooklyn has started to bring on former Sanders aides. Clinton's Vermont and Rhode Island general election campaign managers are both former Sanders staffers, as is Clinton's head of college and university engagement.
One Clinton confidant acknowledged that while Tuesday's event will not be a "panacea" to everything that was said during the primary, everyone involved expects Sanders to be "gracious enough."

Green Party leader: 'Berning hearts are breaking'

Sanders' announcement also marks the senator's decision to join the political establishment rather than shun it. Throughout the primary season, Democratic leaders feared that Sanders would go rogue with his political revolution and launch a third party campaign.
Recently, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein had asked Sanders to join forces, even offering him the top spot on the Green Party ticket.
Tuesday morning, Stein began a series of tweets, declaring, "Many Berning hearts are breaking right now."
In an interview with CNN on Monday, Stein expressed her disappointment and warned that many Sanders supporters will not jump on Clinton's bandwagon.
"There are a lot of unhappy campers out there who will not follow Sanders back into the graveyard of the Democratic Party," Stein said. "A revolution that goes back under Hillary Clinton's wing is not a revolution."
Source:CNN
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15/Jul/2016

Obama and Bush to speak Tuesday at Dallas memorial service for fallen police officers

Madrid, Spain (CNN)President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush on Tuesday will speak at an interfaith memorial service in Dallas for five police officers slain late last week.

The President will visit the Texas city at the request of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement Sunday afternoon. On Sunday evening the White House announced that Bush would join his successor at the memorial service in Texas.
Vice President Joe Biden will also attend the service at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, as will former first lady Laura Bush.
Obama will also meet with families of the fallen officers. The president is cutting short a European trip to travel to Dallas, but he has spoken out on the shootings several times while abroad. While in Spain Sunday, the President condemned citizens who attack police officers, saying they are performing a "disservice to the cause" of criminal justice reform.
Obama made the remarks following a bilateral meeting with Spanish Interim Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
"Whenever those of us who are concerned about fairness in the criminal justice system attack police officers, you are doing a disservice to the cause," Obama said at the Moncola Palace in Madrid.
Obama said that police and activists need to work together and "listen to each other" in order to mobilize real change in America.
The President added that in movements such as Black Lives Matter, there will always be people who make "stupid" or "over generalized" statements, but that a truthful and peaceful tone must be created on both sides for progress.
"I wish I was staying longer," Obama said earlier Sunday prior to a meeting with King Felipe VI. " I'm so grateful for the understanding not only of his majesty but the people of Spain. We've had a difficult week back in the United States so my trip is a little abbreviated."
CNN.com
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11/Jul/2016

As convention nears, Republicans seek identity in an era of Trump

CLEVELAND — No, this is not your father's Republican Party — or your brother's, or your sister's.

It is Donald Trump's shape-shifting Republican Party that gathers in Cleveland over the next two weeks, preparing for a contentious convention featuring a novice candidate, a new agenda and a nervous future.

"Win or lose, the Trump candidacy has inflamed the divisions within the Republican Party," said Ryan Williams, a Republican strategist who served as spokesman for 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney. "Even if Trump does not become the president, these rifts will remain."

While the convention itself begins July 18, preparations begin in earnest Monday with platform hearings that may spotlight party differences over trade, immigration, and other issues likely to linger during and after the era of Trump.

Later this week, a meeting of the convention rules committee gives Trump's opponents a chance, however faint, to somehow derail his candidacy.

Meanwhile, a Republican Party that has seen a fair amount of change during more than 150 years of existence begins to assess what it will look like in the fall election campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton and in the years to come.

Trump has already changed the party, including on:

Trade

Trump's calls to block the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal with Pacific Rim nations — and his threat to withdraw from the existing North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico — defy decades of Republican support for free trade.

Trump and his supporters argue that trade deals have sucked manufacturing jobs out of the United States; Republican-leaning groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce say trade creates different kinds of jobs and leads to lower prices for consumers.

Immigration

Trump's proposals to step up deportations and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border don't sit well with Republicans who want comprehensive immigration legislation to address immigrants who are already in the country illegally. Some GOP critics say Trump's rhetoric is alienating the ever-growing bloc of Hispanic voters.

Style

Trump worked his way through a crowded field of Republican primary opponents with a slashing style that targeted rivals like "low energy" Jeb Bush, "Little" Marco Rubio and "Lying" Ted Cruz. Opponents responded in kind, calling Trump a "chaos candidate," and "con man."

The continuing resistance to Trump can be seen in the number of prominent Republicans who aren't expected to attend this month's convention — including the last two Republican presidents (George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush) and the party's most recent nominees (John McCain and Romney) — and a "Never Trump" movement that, despite the long odds, still hopes to somehow deny him the nomination.

Trump's emergence has been quite a change for a party once know for its top-down organization, one that tended to go with "the next guy in line" when deciding presidential nominees — but not the first transformation of a party created in 1854.

During the 1884 convention in Chicago, a group of dissident Republicans loudly opposed the nomination of the allegedly corrupt James G. Blaine, and many went on to support Democrat Grover Cleveland, who would ultimately win the election. Those so-called "Mugwumps," whose members included future President Theodore Roosevelt, went on to form the core of a more progressive Republican Party.

In 1912, then-ex-President Roosevelt led a walkout of the Republican convention that re-nominated President William Howard Taft, a former TR ally. Roosevelt led a third-party bid, but he and Taft lost to Democrat Woodrow Wilson in a race that exposed a Republican split among conservatives and moderates that lasts to this day.

The Great Depression ended what had been a Republican era of domination of presidential elections. After his win in 1932, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal helped split the GOP into those who wanted to roll back government programs and those who wanted to make them more efficient.

President Dwight Eisenhower promoted the idea of "Modern Republicanism," but conservatives led by Barry Goldwater denounced Ike's programs as a "dime store New Deal."

Led by Goldwater, conservatives won control of the Republican Party at one of its most contentious conventions, the 1964 gathering in San Francisco.

Goldwater lost a landslide to President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Republican stalwart Richard Nixon fused party factions behind his presidential election wins in 1968 and 1972, but fell in the wake of Watergate.

It took Ronald Reagan's successful candidacy in 1980 to consolidate conservative control of the GOP,  which remained more-or-less intact for the next three decades — until now.

Ronald Reagan stands before a cheering Republican National

Ronald Reagan stands before a cheering Republican National Convention in Detroit in 1980. (Photo: Rusty Kennedy, AP)

 

"Trump is a different kind of candidate than we've dealt with before," said Heather Cox Richardson, a history professor at Boston College who wrote a history of the Republican Party.

As Trump prepares to claim the presidential nomination, the Republican Party can be sliced and diced in any number of ways. There's the Tea Party, the business community, the libertarians, the religious conservatives, the remaining moderates and any number of other feuding factions.

Trump wants to use the convention to build party unity, though he has also said that is not essential. "I have to be honest, I think I'll win without the unity," Trump told backers recently in Raleigh, N.C.

Frank Donatelli, a former deputy chair for the Republican National Committee, said political conventions basically have two purposes: To unify the party and to introduce the ticket to millions of voters watching on television. This time, he said, "it's unclear whether they can meet those challenges."

Sarah Isgur Flores, a  Republican strategist who worked for presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, said the different factions had been debating well before Trump announced his candidacy in June of 2015.

"That conversation has been put on hold for a bit," she said. "I think that conversation will become louder in November."

USA TODAY.com

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11/Jul/2016

Michelle Obama: For girls, a heartbreaking loss -- and an opportunity

(CNN)Ralphina Feelee lives in Liberia, where the average family gets by on less than two dollars a day, and many families simply can't afford to educate their daughters. Teen pregnancy rates are high, and pregnant girls are often discouraged from attending school.

Sometimes it's not even safe for girls to attend school in the first place, since their commutes to and from school can be dangerous, and they sometimes even face sexual harassment and assault at school.
Michelle Obama
 
Ralphina wakes up early each morning, cooks for her family, cares for her younger siblings, and goes to work at a local market -- all before she even gets to school. But she still attends class each day, working especially hard in science and math so she can fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse.
Rihab Boutadghart lives in a remote part of Morocco near the Sahara Desert. While Morocco has made huge strides in education, and nearly all girls there attend elementary school, girls in rural areas often live far from the nearest middle and high schools, so many of them drop out of school by the time they turn twelve. Right now, only 14 percent of girls in rural Morocco attend high school.
But Rihab, who proudly describes herself as a "feminist," is determined to finish her education. She dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and being the CEO of a major company, and she recently appeared on Moroccan TV urging girls to work hard and follow their passions.
I had the privilege of meeting Ralphina and Rihab earlier this week when I traveled to Liberia and Morocco to highlight our global girls' education crisis -- the fact that right now, more than 62 million girls worldwide are not in school. This is such a heartbreaking loss, because these girls are so bright and so hungry to learn -- and like Ralphina and Rihab, they have such big dreams for themselves. These girls are no less smart or deserving of an education than my own daughters -- or any of our sons and daughters. The only thing that separates them from our children is geography and luck.
Sometimes the issue is resources: their families simply can't afford the school fees; or the nearest school is hours away; or the school nearby doesn't have adequate bathroom facilities for girls, so they're forced to stay home during their menstrual cycles, and they wind up falling behind and dropping out.
But often the root of the problem is really about attitudes and beliefs: families and communities simply don't think girls are worthy of an education, and they choose to marry them off as teenagers instead, often forcing them to start having children when they're basically still children themselves.
Michelle Obama hugs a student following a lesson plan about girls' leadership and self-esteem in support of the Let Girls Learn initiative, in Kakata, Liberia, June 27.
 
The girls I met in Morocco and Liberia want to be doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, engineers. One of them wants to run for office so she can fight for women's rights and combat climate change. Another hopes to open her own auto shop to teach women about cars so they can be more independent.
But we know that when we give these girls the chance to learn, they will seize it. They'll walk for miles each day to school. They'll study for hours every night by candlelight, determined to learn as much as they possibly can.

We know that when we give these girls the chance to learn, they will seize it.

Michelle Obama

We also know that educating girls doesn't just transform their life prospects -- it transforms the prospects of their families, communities, and nations as well. Studies show that girls who are educated earn higher salaries -- 10 to 20 percent more for each additional year of secondary school -- and sending more girls to school and into the workforce can boost an entire country's GDP. Educated girls also marry later, have lower rates of infant and maternal mortality, and are more likely to immunize their children and less likely to contract malaria and HIV.
That's why, last year, President Obama and I launched Let Girls Learn, an initiative to help adolescent girls worldwide attend school. And this week, we were proud to announce major new efforts by the U.S. government to promote girls' education in Africa.
In Liberia we'll be running girls' empowerment programs, working to end gender violence in schools, and supporting new, second-chance schools for girls who were forced to drop out because of pregnancy or rape.
In Morocco we'll be working closely with the Moroccan government to help transform high schools across the country, and we'll be supporting new school dormitories to allow girls from rural areas to attend school far from home.
Large scale efforts like these are critically important, and will affect the lives of countless girls, but they're simply not enough. Governments alone cannot solve this problem -- not when we're talking about a number like 62 million.
That's why I ended my trip this week in Spain delivering a speech to an audience of young Spanish women. I wanted to make a simple, but urgent point: Every single one of us in countries like Spain and the U.S. has the power -- and the obligation -- to step up as a champion for these girls.

Michelle Obama: For girls, a heartbreaking loss -- and an opportunity

Obama and first lady dance the tango
 

 

 

 
 

 

 
Obama and first lady dance the tango 00:49

Story highlights

  • Michelle Obama: We have global girls' education crisis, with more than 62 million not in school
  • 'Let Girls Learn' initiative will support girls' education efforts in Liberia and Morocco, she says

Michelle Obama is the first lady of the United States. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

(CNN)Ralphina Feelee lives in Liberia, where the average family gets by on less than two dollars a day, and many families simply can't afford to educate their daughters. Teen pregnancy rates are high, and pregnant girls are often discouraged from attending school.

Sometimes it's not even safe for girls to attend school in the first place, since their commutes to and from school can be dangerous, and they sometimes even face sexual harassment and assault at school.
Michelle Obama
 
Ralphina wakes up early each morning, cooks for her family, cares for her younger siblings, and goes to work at a local market -- all before she even gets to school. But she still attends class each day, working especially hard in science and math so she can fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse.
Rihab Boutadghart lives in a remote part of Morocco near the Sahara Desert. While Morocco has made huge strides in education, and nearly all girls there attend elementary school, girls in rural areas often live far from the nearest middle and high schools, so many of them drop out of school by the time they turn twelve. Right now, only 14 percent of girls in rural Morocco attend high school.
 
But Rihab, who proudly describes herself as a "feminist," is determined to finish her education. She dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and being the CEO of a major company, and she recently appeared on Moroccan TV urging girls to work hard and follow their passions.
I had the privilege of meeting Ralphina and Rihab earlier this week when I traveled to Liberia and Morocco to highlight our global girls' education crisis -- the fact that right now, more than 62 million girls worldwide are not in school. This is such a heartbreaking loss, because these girls are so bright and so hungry to learn -- and like Ralphina and Rihab, they have such big dreams for themselves. These girls are no less smart or deserving of an education than my own daughters -- or any of our sons and daughters. The only thing that separates them from our children is geography and luck.
Sometimes the issue is resources: their families simply can't afford the school fees; or the nearest school is hours away; or the school nearby doesn't have adequate bathroom facilities for girls, so they're forced to stay home during their menstrual cycles, and they wind up falling behind and dropping out.
But often the root of the problem is really about attitudes and beliefs: families and communities simply don't think girls are worthy of an education, and they choose to marry them off as teenagers instead, often forcing them to start having children when they're basically still children themselves.
Michelle Obama hugs a student following a lesson plan about girls' leadership and self-esteem in support of the Let Girls Learn initiative, in Kakata, Liberia, June 27.
 
The girls I met in Morocco and Liberia want to be doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, engineers. One of them wants to run for office so she can fight for women's rights and combat climate change. Another hopes to open her own auto shop to teach women about cars so they can be more independent.
But we know that when we give these girls the chance to learn, they will seize it. They'll walk for miles each day to school. They'll study for hours every night by candlelight, determined to learn as much as they possibly can.

We know that when we give these girls the chance to learn, they will seize it.

Michelle Obama

We also know that educating girls doesn't just transform their life prospects -- it transforms the prospects of their families, communities, and nations as well. Studies show that girls who are educated earn higher salaries -- 10 to 20 percent more for each additional year of secondary school -- and sending more girls to school and into the workforce can boost an entire country's GDP. Educated girls also marry later, have lower rates of infant and maternal mortality, and are more likely to immunize their children and less likely to contract malaria and HIV.
Michelle Obama's advice for men
 
orig michelle obama advice for men_00000318
 

 

 

 
 

 

 
Michelle Obama's advice for men 00:52
That's why, last year, President Obama and I launched Let Girls Learn, an initiative to help adolescent girls worldwide attend school. And this week, we were proud to announce major new efforts by the U.S. government to promote girls' education in Africa.
In Liberia we'll be running girls' empowerment programs, working to end gender violence in schools, and supporting new, second-chance schools for girls who were forced to drop out because of pregnancy or rape.
In Morocco we'll be working closely with the Moroccan government to help transform high schools across the country, and we'll be supporting new school dormitories to allow girls from rural areas to attend school far from home.
Large scale efforts like these are critically important, and will affect the lives of countless girls, but they're simply not enough. Governments alone cannot solve this problem -- not when we're talking about a number like 62 million.
That's why I ended my trip this week in Spain delivering a speech to an audience of young Spanish women. I wanted to make a simple, but urgent point: Every single one of us in countries like Spain and the U.S. has the power -- and the obligation -- to step up as a champion for these girls.
U.S. First Lady in London to promote education
 
michelle obama promotes education pkg foster wrn_00010016
 

 

 

 
 

 

 
U.S. First Lady in London to promote education 02:22
I told these young women: If you have access to social media, then you have a platform to tell these 62 million girls' stories and raise awareness about the challenges they face. And that's just as true for everyone at home in the U.S. You can go to 62MillionGirls.com right now to find all the information you need to get started and to learn how you can take action to support girls' education efforts across the globe.
Once you know these girls' stories, I think you'll find, as I have, that you simply can't walk away from them. After traveling the world as First Lady and meeting so many girls like Ralphina and Rihab, I carry their hopes and their ambitions with me everywhere I go, and I plan to continue my work on their behalf not just for my final seven months as First Lady, but for the rest of my life. I hope you will join me in this mission.
Source: CNN
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02/Jul/2016

In party platform, Democrats call for end to death penalty

Washington (CNN)Democrats are calling for an end to capital punishment.

The latest draft of the party's platform, released Friday, says the death penalty "has proven to be a cruel and unusual form of punishment" that "has no place in the United States of America."
The inclusion of the provision represents a victory of sorts for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders -- a longtime opponent of the punishment who has said he is remaining in the presidential race in order to fight for progressive causes.
Sanders offered mild praise for the platform Friday evening, tweeting, "The Democratic Platform includes some accomplishments that will begin to move this country in the right direction."
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has supported the death penalty in the past, albeit on a limited basis, suggesting that there could be cases for "very limited use" of the punishment in "horrific" terrorist crimes.
She was confronted over the issue during a CNN-TV One town hall event in May by an exonerated former death row inmate who spent 39 years in jail for a murder he did not commit.
"Where I end up is this, and maybe it's a distinction that is hard to support, but at this point, given the choices we face from terrorist activities primarily in our country that end up under federal jurisdiction, for very limited purposes, I think it can still be held in reserve for those," Clinton said.
For Sanders supporters, the inclusion of the death penalty provision could be viewed as the latest example of the ways in which the populist candidate has pushed the Democratic Party to the left.
Other provisions in the platform include support for workers earning at least $15 an hour -- though the platform doesn't call for a $15 federal minimum wage, one of Sanders' signature issues -- adopting a tougher tax policy against corporations, expanding Social Security and supporting states that choose to decriminalize marijuana.
Clinton adviser Maya Harris praised the plaform last week, calling it "the most ambitious and progressive platform" the party has seen.
Although Sanders told CNN's Jake Tapper last week that he claimed some "very, very important victories" in the initial draft of the Democratic platform, he also said his camp had "lost some very important fights" on some issues, including trade, a carbon tax and health insurance.
He vowed to "take that fight to Orlando" -- where the committee will meet next week to approve the final draft of the platform -- and said if he doesn't succeed there, he will "certainly take it to the floor of the Democratic convention."
Source: CNN
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02/Jul/2016

Top general's candor: No strategy against ISIS in Libya

Washington (CNN)In remarkably blunt testimony, President Barack Obama's nominee to command U.S. forces in Africa said Tuesday that more ground troops were needed in Libya to fight ISIS and agreed the current strategy of not bombing the terror group's affiliate there "makes no sense."

When asked by the committee's chairman, Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, whether the U.S. had a strategy for Libya, Marine Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser said he didn't know about one.
"I am not aware of any overall grand strategy at this point," Waldhauser said at his confirmation hearing to become commander of the Africa Command.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Repubilcan, asked him if it would be "wise" for him to have the authority to order strikes against ISIS without having to first seek White House approval, as is currently the case.
"It would be wise, it would certainly contribute to what we're trying to do inside Libya," Waldhauser responded.
Waldhauser agreed with Graham that ISIS represented "an imminent threat to the United States" but he noted that the U.S. was not conducting air strikes against the terror group's Libyan branch.
"That makes no sense then, does it?" Graham asked.
"It does not," the general answered.
Waldhauser also told the committee that the U.S. did not have a large number of troops on the ground in Libya, and said more were needed.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Graham acknowledged Waldhauser's candor.
"I can't thank you -- I'm just, that's about as direct testimony as I've ever heard from this committee," Graham said.
McCain also welcomed his frankness, "General Waldhauser, I want to thank you for your candor before the committee, we look forward to working with you. I think that Sen. Graham's questions clearly indicated that, at least as far as ISIS is concerned, that Africa is their next target of opportunity, and I think you are going to need a lot of help."
Concerning strikes on Libya, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told CNN's Barbara Starr at a news conference Tuesday, "We don't make a decision to carry out a military strike lightly."
"We've been willing to take strikes in the past in Libya targeting ISIL leadership," Cook said, using another acronym for ISIS. "We are prepared to do so again in the future. But this is a situation where the government is still taking shape. It is showing progress. Military forces aligned with the government are showing progress as well, particularly in the fight against ISIL in Sirte."
Asked about Waldhauser's comment that there's no overall strategy, Cook said, "It's clear, as I think Gen. Waldhauser acknowledged, it's a complicated situation right now. And the most important thing in terms of our policy, and we believe for the region's policy, is for that government to take shape, take hold. And we'd like to, of course be in a position to strengthen it as needed, going forward, along with our partners in the region."
The Pentagon has previously acknowledged small teams of Special Operations Forces on the ground in Libya to establish relationships with local forces battling ISIS.
The U.S. has conducted several airstrikes against ISIS in Libya, including one in February that killed over 40 ISIS operatives, but the U.S. has held off on additional strikes for several months. At the end of March, the recently formed UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord took up residence in Libya's capital, Tripoli.
Militias based out of Misrata and allied to the new government have had some recent success driving ISIS out of territory around its Libyan base in the coastal city of Sirte.
The Director of the CIA, John Brennan, told Congress last week that ISIS had about 5,000-8,000 fighters inside Libya.
Source: CNN.com
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22/Jun/2016

Jesse Jackson endorses Hillary Clinton

ashington (CNN)The Rev. Jesse Jackson endorsed Hillary Clinton on Saturday, continuing a recent string of high-profile endorsements for the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Jackson, speaking in Chicago, said he trusts that Clinton will look out for the interests of marginalized communities including refugees, immigrants and the poor.
"We trust her to work on health care, to fight for the poor ... for the willingness to fight for civil rights," Jackson said.
Jackson, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1984 and 1988, endorsed Clinton at the site of a memorial recognizing the hundreds of children killed in the city in recent years. The civil rights activist said in a news release that he was making the endorsement independent of his non-profit organization, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, a civil rights group.
Jackson told CNN last month that he had been in touch with advisers to both Clinton and her primary challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, to emphasize the importance of party unity as Democrats prepare for a general election fight against Donald Trump.
Sanders "must support the winner, Hillary, over Donald Trump. That's his very public position and I hope he will hold that position," Jackson said back then.
After emerging as the presumptive Democratic nominee on Tuesday, Clinton has sought to coalesce Democratic and progressive support around her candidacy. On Thursday, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren threw their support behind Clinton, and on Friday, the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor federation, moved toward backing her.
Source: Cnn.com
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13/Jun/2016

Shooting exposes political divide

(CNN)The rampage at a gay nightclub in Orlando Sunday drew universal condemnation from both parties but exposed deep divisions over how to respond, with President Barack Obama urging new gun laws and Republicans largely silent on the issue.

At least 50 people were killed and 53 more wounded in what is now the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Democrats, led by President Obama, made a now-familiar call for tighter gun laws. Many Republicans simply expressed their condolences and condemned the attack while Donald Trump blasted Obama and Hillary Clinton for refusing to blame the violence on radical Islam.
Here's a look at how the political world responded to the attack.

Obama

Obama called the shooting an "act of terror" that served as a "sobering reminder that attacks on any American, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation is an attack on all of us."
In remarks from the White House briefing room, Obama said, "No act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans."
He also waded into the gun control debate. The Orlando shooting rampage, he said, is a reminder of how easy it is for someone to get a hold of a weapon that could kill people in a "school, or a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub."
"And we have to decide if that's the kind of country we want to be," Obama added. "And to actively do nothing is a decision as well."
The President was briefed Sunday morning by several officials, including FBI Director James Comey and Lisa Monaco, Obama's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, according to the White House. He also ordered American flags to be lowered to half staff to honor the victims.

Biden

Vice President Joe Biden was also briefed on the shooting and canceled a planned trip to Miami, Florida, to attend a fundraiser for Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Biden "offered his prayers for all those killed and injured in the shooting and sends his condolences to all the families and loved ones of the victims," according to a statement from his spokesman.

Trump

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, said Obama was far too timid in his White House appearance. Trump called on Obama to step down from the presidency and challenged Clinton to ratchet up her language about terror threats.
"President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words 'Radical Islam,'" Trump said in the statement. "For that reason alone, he should step down. If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words 'Radical Islam' she should get out of this race for the Presidency."
Trump's campaign canceled a planned rally Monday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, "due to the horrific tragedy that has just taken place in Orlando, Florida," a campaign statement said. But the candidate will pivot the focus of a scheduled Granite State speech the same day. The speech will no longer focus on what Trump has called a litany of scandals involving Bill and Hillary Clinton. Now, according to a Trump campaign statement, it will "address this terrorist attack, immigration, and national security."
Trump initially responded to news of the shooting through a series of tweets, including one that noted his early condemnation of radical Islam.
"Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!"

Clinton

Clinton's campaign issued a hard-hitting statement accusing Trump of politicizing the shootings.
"This act of terror is the largest mass shooting in American history and a tragedy that requires a serious response," said campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri. "Hillary Clinton has a comprehensive plan to combat ISIS at home and abroad and will be talking to the American people in the coming days about steps she would take to keep the country safe. In contrast, Donald Trump put out political attacks, weak platitudes and self-congratulations. Trump has offered no real plans to keep our nation safe and no outreach to the Americans targeted, just insults and attacks. In times of crisis more than ever, Americans are looking for leadership and deserve better."
Clinton and Obama postponed a rally scheduled for Wednesday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, which would have been their first joint appearance since she became the presumptive Democratic nominee last week.
Clinton echoed Obama's language in a separate statement Sunday, calling the shooting an "act of terror" and an "act of hate."
"For now, we can say for certain that we need to redouble our efforts to defend our country from threats at home and abroad," she said. "That means defeating international terror groups, working with allies and partners to go after them wherever they are, countering their attempts to recruit people here and everywhere, and hardening our defenses at home. It also means refusing to be intimidated and staying true to our values."

Congress

The LGBT congressional caucus issued a statement saying they were "horrified by the tragic shooting."
"Though details are still emerging, an attack during Pride Month against Pulse, an iconic gathering place for LGBT Floridians, has a particularly insidious impact on our entire community. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this tragedy," said Roddy Flynn, executive director of the LGBT Equality Caucus.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said attackers like the shooter in the Orlando massacre are "the new face of the war on terror."
"They have said openly that they intend to target us here, and one of the hardest parts of this war is the individual who carries out an attack by themselves in a soft target like this, basically, in Orlando, Florida," Rubio said in a phone interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday.
A top Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York, wrote on Twitter: "Horrified and saddened by the appalling attack at Orlando LGBT nightclub. Praying for the victims and their families."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a leading Trump critic, tweeted a series of mostly positive messages. The Massachusetts Democrat didn't directly confront Trump, but criticized his message obliquely.
"That's the message of Pride. That's who we are. That's how we'll defeat hate, & how we protect America. #loveislove"
"America is strongest when we unite & celebrate our diversity. When we promote those values abroad & live them here at home. #loveislove"
The runner-up to Trump in the Republican primary field, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, issued a lengthy statement calling for all Americans to "unite in defeating radical Islamic terrorism."
"The next few days will be sadly predictable," Cruz said. "Democrats will try to use this attack to change the subject. As a matter of rigid ideology, far too many Democrats -- from Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton -- will refuse to utter the words 'radical Islamic terrorism.' They will claim this attack, like they claimed every previous attack, was isolated and had nothing to do with the vicious Islamist theology that is daily waging war on us across the globe."
CNN.com
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13/Jun/2016

Trump on black supporter: 'Look at my African-American over here'

Redding, California (CNN)Donald Trump sought to tout his support among African-Americans on Friday by pointing out a black man in the crowd and calling him "my African-American."

"Oh, look at my African-American over here. Look at him," Trump said. "Are you the greatest?"
The remark didn't generate a noticeable response from Trump's audience.
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks told CNN Trump was "just referring to a supporter in the crowd. There's no ill will intended, obviously." She added Trump was "grateful for this person's support."
Hicks also rejected the suggestion that Trump's use of the possessive "my" to refer to the supporter was racist, saying such a charge was "ridiculous."
Gregory Cheadle, a Republican California congressional candidate, confirmed to CNN he was the supporter to whom Trump pointed. He told the Record Searchlight, a local newspaper, he was happy to be cited by Trump.
"That was me seriously. I got two autographs out of that," Cheadle told the newspaper. He added, "To give the black folk the time of the day, I was happy."
Trump's remark came as he recalled an incident in March when a black supporter of his assaulted a protester at a rally in Arizona as he was being escorted out of the building by police.
The comment also comes as Trump is under fire for calling on the federal judge presiding over one of the lawsuits against Trump University to recuse himself because of his Mexican heritage.
Trump again argued Friday in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper that the judge is inherently biased against him because of the presumptive GOP nominee's plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"If you are saying, he can't do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?" Tapper asked him.
"No, I don't think so at all," Trump replied. "He's proud of his heritage. I respect him for that."
The presumptive Republican nominee has repeatedly hit back at charges that he is racist by insisting he is "the least racist person that you have ever met."
But Trump's rhetoric has repeatedly drawn charges of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia.
In November, Trump retweeted a graphic of false crime statistics comparing percentages of "blacks killed by blacks" and "blacks killed by police" that included an image of a dark-skinned man wearing a bandana, military-style pants and holding a handgun sideways.
The graphic vastly overstated the number of homicides committed by blacks.
Trump kicked off his campaign by calling some undocumented immigrants from Mexico "rapists" and criminals and then stoked Islamophobic sentiment in December by calling for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."
Trump said in March that he believes "Islam hates us" and said last fall that a Black Lives Matter protester who disrupted his rally and was kicked and punched by Trump supporters probably "should have been roughed up."
Still, Trump has insisted that his campaign message will have enormous appeal among minority communities, particularly African-Americans and Hispanic Americans.
The de facto Republican nominee insists that his promise to bring jobs back to the U.S. and reduce unemployment in minority communities will draw those groups to his controversial candidacy.
Source: CNN
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04/Jun/2016

At 96, Heimlich finally uses his life-saving maneuver

CINCINNATI — When he heard that a resident was choking, Perry Gaines, maître d’ at the Deupree House dining room, ran toward the table.

Gaines has been trained in the Heimlich maneuver and has performed it at least twice in the two years he has worked at the senior living facility here.

When Gaines arrived at the table, Dr. Henry Heimlich, a 96-year-old resident who invented the famous technique for clearing a blocked airway, was standing behind the woman, ready to perform it.

Typically, a staff member would step in. “But,” Gaines said, pausing, “it is Dr. Heimlich.”

Heimlich, who swims and exercises regularly, was able to dislodge a piece of hamburger that had become stuck in the airway of Patty Ris, 87.

Gaines said the entire room, filled with 125 diners, focused on the table, which was near the center of the room. Ris recovered quickly, and everyone returned to their meals.

Monday’s incident was the first time Heimlich, who has demonstrated the maneuver countless times since inventing it in 1974, used it to stop someone from choking, he said.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Heimlich recounted what happened. Ris had been sitting next to him at his table.

“When I used it, and she recovered quickly, it made me appreciate how wonderful it has been to be able to save all those lives," he said.

His son, Phil Heimlich, said his father regularly meets people who were either saved or saved somebody else.

“Just the fact that a 96-year-old man could perform that, is impressive,” he said.

Spokesman Bryan Reynolds of Episcopal Retirement Services, which owns the Deupree House, described the elder Heimlich as very active for his age. He has lived there about six years, Reynolds said.

“He goes to the dining room every evening,” Reynolds said.

In a video interview provided to The Enquirer, Ris said she penned a note to Heimlich.

It read, she recalled in the video: "God put me in this seat next to you."

Source: USA Today.com

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30/May/2016

Libertarians hope to lure Sanders supporters if Clinton is nominee

Libertarians, hoping for a better showing in the 2016 presidential campaign, see an opportunity for success by making inroads with supporters of Bernie Sanders, a party leader said Saturday.

Sanders has said he will not run as an independent if he doesn’t win the Democratic nomination. Arvin Vohra, vice chairman of the Libertarian Party, predicted many of Sanders’ supporters will be drawn to the Libertarian focus on individual rights and limited government if Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee, the most likely outcome given her delegate lead.

“We want to reach everybody but I do believe that a lot of the people who are currently supporting Sanders will be the ones with whom that message will resonate with the strongest,” Vohra said in a Saturday interview.

Libertarians are holding their presidential nominating convention in Orlando this weekend and will select their presidential nominee on Sunday. Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico, is favored to win this year’s nomination.

The Libertarian Party shares some similar goals with Sanders when it comes to ending the war on drugs, driving down college debt, and reluctance to use military action. The party and Sanders both opposed the Patriot Act.

But Sanders wants to make public colleges and universities tuition free with government subsidies, while Libertarians want to abolish government subsidies to universities. Sanders supported the use of force in the Balkans and Afghanistan; Libertarians say the military should be used only in defense and want all foreign bases shut down. And while Sanders has consistently fought trade deals, Libertarians want to remove government restrictions on free trade.

Vohra said Sanders supporters “have seen the horrors that government can do to individual lives,” and Libertarian policies will ultimately make sense to them.

“These are people who are open, they’re active, they’re excited, they're engaged,” he said. “I believe that our message will reach them and resonate with them.”

Johnson received almost 1% of the vote when he ran for president as a Libertarian candidate in 2012. A May 14-17 Fox News poll found 10% of respondents favored Johnson in a three-way matchup with Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump (42%) and Clinton (39%). Johnson was favored by 8% of both Republicans and Democrats and 18% of independents.

The party has confirmed a place on the ballot in 32 states and expects to be on the ballot in 50 states, Vohra said.

“There’s so many people in this country who just want less government,” Vohra said. “They know at this point that neither Hillary nor Donald Trump have any intention of reducing the size and scope of government.”

Source: USA Today

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30/May/2016

Sen. Marco Rubio now all in for Donald Trump

WASHINGTON – In March, Marco Rubio dismissed Donald Trump as a “con artist” and “the most vulgar person ever to aspire to the presidency.”

This past week, the Florida senator told reporters he’ll not only vote for Trump, he'd be willing to speak on his behalf at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer. And he didn’t rule out the possibility of serving in a Trump administration.

Rubio said his apparent shift isn't that hard to understand. Supporting Trump as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is an easy choice, he said, compared to the prospect of a Hillary Clinton victory at the polls in November.

"Donald Trump will sign the repeal of Obamacare. She won’t," Rubio told reporters Thursday. "I want the successor to Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court to be a conservative. I believe that’s the kind of judge that he’ll appoint, and I know she won’t. I want someone that will defend life. I know he will and she won’t."

Rubio said Trump earned his status as the GOP presumptive nominee at the ballot box.

"He campaigned and the voters chose him," he said. "I respect that process. And so I’m going to support him. I’m going to vote for him.”

Social media, of course, won't let him off the hook that easily.

“Rubio is truly a politician with no ideas, just a jumble of crap, ready to support any position, person, anything to help him get ahead,” progressive radio talk show host Mike Signorile tweeted.

“Stop Excusing Republicans Like Rubio For Supporting Trump Because Of A Stupid, Worthless Pledge,” tweeted the conservative blog Red State, referring to Rubio's frequent promise during the campaign to get behind the eventual nominee.

While Rubio was still a presidential contender, his rivalry with Trump featured highly charged, personal attacks.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio speaks at a presidential campaign

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio speaks at a presidential campaign rally on March 14, 2016 in Miami on the eve of crucial primary voting. (Photo: AFP PHOTO, RHONA WISERHONA WISE, FP, Getty Images)

 

Trump, mocked the Florida senator as “Little Marco” and poked fun at his tendency to sweat on the debate stage and drink lots of water.

Rubio said Trump was unfit for the Oval Office, citing his inflammatory rhetoric, his past support for Democratic policies and his call for deporting undocumented immigrants.

He also criticized Trump’s physical features: “You know what they say about men with small hands ... You can't trust them.”

But Rubio also consistently said he would support whomever Republican voters nominated. And on Thursday, the Associated Press announced that Trump had captured the 1,237 delegates necessary to lock up the nomination.

Despite the heated campaign, Rubio said it’s time to move on.

“We were competitors," he said of Trump. "I don’t dislike him. I don’t have any negative feelings about him personally. I disagree with a lot of his positions. That was well established during the campaign. (But) I also think he happens to be substantially better than Hillary Clinton.”

Al Cardenas, former head of the Florida Republican Party and a Rubio confidante, said the possibility that he and many other Republicans will support Trump is a “work in progress.” But he’s not willing to judge Rubio.

“It’s a fairly quick turnaround in his conversion to becoming a supporter, but so be it,” said Cardenas, former chairman of the American Conservative Union. “I’m still not there. I guess Marco figured out a way to get there.”

Source: USA Today.com

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30/May/2016

Nigerian leader not seeking apology over ‘corrupt’ comments

LONDON - Nigeria’s president says he won’t demand an apology after British Prime Minister David Cameron called his country one of the world’s most corrupt nations.

Cameron is hosting an international anti-corruption summit in London on Thursday. At a Buckingham Palace reception on Tuesday, a television microphone caught Cameron saying the “leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries” were coming.

Cameron referred to “Nigeria and Afghanistan — possibly two of the most corrupt countries in the world.”

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who is due to attend, said Wednesday that “I am not going to demand any apology from anybody.”

Speaking at an anti-corruption meeting ahead of the summit, Buhari says he wanted the return of plundered Nigerian assets held in British banks.

“What would I do with an apology? I need something tangible,” Buhari said.

He described corruption as “a hydra-headed monster and a canker that undermines the fabric of all societies. It does not differentiate between developed and developing countries.”

Asked about the gaffe in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Cameron said the leaders of Nigeria and Afghanistan were “battling hard against very corrupt systems” and had made “remarkable steps forward.”

Source: USA TODAY

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11/May/2016

Marco Rubio walks a fine line on Donald Trump

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio offered lukewarm support for Donald Trump on Tuesday, while reiterating that he doesn’t want to be his running mate in November.

Rubio, a former top-tier presidential candidate, said during a CNN interview that he would fall behind the presumptive GOP nominee because he had signed a pledge to do so.

“I intend to support the Republican nominee,” Rubio said.

Rubio was once one of Trump’s fiercest critics. Before he withdrew from the race last March, Rubio repeatedly attacked the real estate magnate as a “con man,” among many other jabs.

“Friends don’t let friends vote for con artists,” he said at one point.

Rubio ultimately pulled the plug on his campaign. Trump became the presumptive nominee last week after his last two primary foes suspended their White House bids.

At least two of Trump’s other former GOP rivals — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham — have since said they could not bring themselves to vote for either Trump or Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner.

During his CNN interview Tuesday, Rubio said he stood by his past attacks against Trump. But he repeatedly stressed that he would not be taking similar shots at him during the general election.

See the graphic: Where the Republican Party stands on Trump >>>

“My differences with Donald — both my reservations about his campaign and my policy differences with him — are well-documented and they remain,” Rubio said when asked about potentially becoming Trump’s vice president.

“He would be best served by having people close to him in his campaign that are enthusiastic about the things he stands for,” he added.

Source: yahoo.com

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11/May/2016

Hillary fights two battles as Bernie wins another Democratic primary

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Hillary Clinton lost West Virginia Tuesday night to rival Bernie Sanders, continuing her slog through the Democratic primary even as she spent the past week fending off attacks from presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

“Let me be as clear as I can be: We are in this campaign to win the Democratic nomination,” Sanders told a crowd of thousands of supporters in Oregon Tuesday night. He predicted a string of wins in Kentucky, Oregon and the Dakotas over the next couple of weeks.

Clinton is fighting on two fronts. The former secretary of state has a near-lock on the Democratic nomination, but continues to lose states to Sanders, who hammers on her as a creature of Wall Street at his rallies that still draw thousands of supporters. Trump, meanwhile, now clear of any GOP rivals, has spent the past week directing all his considerable fire at her.

Trump’s called her “Crooked Hillary” and resurrected his attack against Bill Clinton’s past sexual relationships with women, painting Hillary as an “enabler” who wanted the women “destroyed.” At a rally in Washington Sunday, Trump said Hillary was playing the “woman card” to get support. “You know what? The women get it better than we do, folks. They get it better than we do. If she didn’t play that card, she has nothing,” he said.

Clinton gave several TV interviews the past week — more than usual for the candidate — and debuted her line of attack against Trump as a “loose cannon” who can’t be trusted with the nation’s security. She also rolled out a sweeping policy proposal in several stops in Kentucky on Tuesday, including a plan to provide federal grants and other assistance so that no family pays more than 10 percent of its income on childcare.

“Boy, do I think this presidential election has about the highest stakes that we’ve seen in a very long time,” she told a fired-up crowd in Louisville Tuesday evening.

She playfully pushed back on Trump’s “woman card” attacks. “I have never gotten a discount when I got to the cashier,” she said. Clinton repeated her defense of Trump’s woman card attack, saying that if caring about women’s health means playing the woman card, then “deal me in!” The crowd shouted the words in unison with the candidate.

Clinton didn’t mention Sanders. The campaign’s director of state and political engagement, Marlon Marshall, sent a fundraising email to supporters about the need to prepare for the general. The email included code visible to readers who received it on their phones. The coded message proclaimed, “Here comes the general.”

But the Clinton campaign has been sucked back into the Democratic primary all the same, spending nearly $200,000 on TV ads in Kentucky’s Democratic primary, which takes place next week. The ad buy is the campaign’s first since April 26, when Clinton swept several Mid-Atlantic states and pivoted toward the general election. But Sanders refused to get on board with that plan. He won Indiana last Tuesday, and has vowed to continue to fight for every last vote in the primary, even threatening to contest the Democratic convention in July.

The campaign celebrated Clinton’s primary ad buy. “If you’re looking for a sign that the Clinton campaign knows this primary is far from finished, here it is,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver wrote in an email to supporters earlier Tuesday. 

Sanders would need to win every remaining state by unprecedented margins to beat Clinton in the delegate race at this point, making his chance of winning the nomination remote. But his continued wins pull Clinton away from the general election, where Trump is focusing all of his energy.

Trump recently seized on Clinton’s town hall comments in March when she vowed to put coal miners out of business in favor of clean energy jobs. Last week, Clinton spent days on a tour through Appalachia apologizing for those remarks, and they most likely hurt her in West Virginia’s primary.

Still, it’s possible that by staying out of the general election fray, Clinton will appear to be taking the high road to voters, while Trump’s more personal attacks may backfire, particularly among women. She continues to lead him in polls by wide margins in hypothetical head-to-head match ups.

Clinton hinted as much in an interview with reporters Monday. “I’m going to let him run his campaign however he chooses,” she said. “I’m not running against him. He’s doing a fine job of doing that himself. I’m running my campaign.”

Source: Yahoo.com

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11/May/2016

New York's Governor Strengthens Laws to Check Discrimination against Transgender

In a breather for the transgender community, the New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, on Thursday announced to expand and strengthen the anti-discrimination laws in the state for protecting the community from discrimination.

With the move, employers, house owners, creditors and others service providers will be under scanner and at risk of penalties upon being involved in any form of discrimination on grounds of gender identity.

"It is intolerable to allow discrimination of transgender individuals and they are one of the most abused, harassed groups in society today," Cuomo said during a dinner hosted by the Empire State Pride Agenda gay rights group.

The order had made New York the first state in the United States to have taken forward a step in the direction of gay and transgender rights. The aim of the move is to check inequality both in public and private sector enterprises.

The move comes after several years of advocacies in the direction. The rights activists and advocates have long been fighting for the rights of the transgenders and now, their demands are finally approved by the Democrat, Cuomo.

Nathan Schaefer, Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, said that the move comes as a boon for the community. He added that the hard work that went into the accomplishment of the mission, over the years, has borne fruits now.

A week ago, California emerged as the first state to have given a nod payment of transgender inmate's sex reassignment operation.

Source: NY Times. Com

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08/May/2016

Ryan-Trump Breach May Be Beyond Repair

WASHINGTON — To many Republicans, Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s proclamation on Thursday that he was not prepared to support Donald J. Trump seemed to be an opening bid. In truth, it was more like the final word.

Although party leaders furiously brokered a meeting between the two men at the Capitol next Thursday, it is likely that only substantial changes in Mr. Trump’s language and tenor, not just minor calibrations on policy positions, will be needed to bring Mr. Ryan to his camp.

Mr. Ryan has become increasingly depressed about the tone of the race within the Republican Party, several people who have talked to him in recent weeks said. He could not bring himself to give even nominal support to Mr. Trump, despite pressure from more conservative House Republicans, after the candidate disparaged various ethnic groups and accused Senator Ted Cruz’s father of conspiring with Lee Harvey Oswald, among other inflammatory comments. Those remarks determined Mr. Ryan’s course far more than the considerable differences on policy between the men.

Mr. Ryan’s stance may lead to the remarkable scenario of a convention chairman presiding over the nomination of a man he does not support, but it basically comes down to three things.

First, and most important: he can do it. Unlike former Speaker John A. Boehner, who had to fight to cling to his gavel almost from the moment he took it in 2011, Mr. Ryan was drafted into his job by the majority of his conference. And unlike Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, who says he supports Mr. Trump, Mr. Ryan is largely impervious to criticism from the right. Agree or disagree with Mr. Ryan, at this point his members need him more than he needs them, at least to prevent unmitigated chaos in their ranks.

It is notable that House conservatives often derided Mr. Boehner for not “sticking to conservative principles” in negotiating with Democrats on legislation, but now are chafing that Mr. Ryan, whose conservative principles have in many ways been rejected by Mr. Trump, is not getting behind the presumptive nominee.

“Isn’t it a principle that the G.O.P. speaker would support the G.O.P. nominee?” said Representative Mick Mulvaney, Republican of South Carolina and a frequent scold of House leadership, discussing the party’s conundrum in an email exchange. (Rock: Meet hard place, over at the Speaker’s Balcony.)

Second, Mr. Ryan sees the value in protecting Republican House members up for re-election in swing districts where Mr. Trump may well be a drag on the rest of the ticket.

“I thought it was helpful,” said Representative Charlie Dent, Republican of Pennsylvania. “I believe that Paul expressed feelings that many of us have. Trump’s attacks on Muslims, the Hispanics, that David Duke fiasco, the abortion exchange with Chris Matthews, all these issues are just really unsettling.” He added, “Donald Trump has to convince many Americans, including me, that he is ready and able to lead this great country, and at the moment I am not convinced.”

Representative Ann Wagner, Republican of Missouri, made similar remarks to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The third reason is that nothing Mr. Ryan has said compels him to change his current course as speaker, which is largely focused on developing an alternative Republican policy agenda and shoring up vulnerable members with money and help campaigning. He plans to develop that agenda with House members, even if election politics may well prevent any of it from becoming actual legislation.

This is perhaps the weakest reason for withholding support from Mr. Trump, since without a Republican in the White House, there will probably be no Ryan agenda. But for Mr. Ryan, Mr. Trump’s conduct appears to loom larger than the speaker’s policy dreams. So even if the candidate shows up at the Capitol next week and says “I fully support this agenda,” it would almost certainly not be enough, Ryan aides say.

Do not expect Mr. Ryan to join Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, who has taken to penning letters to America by the riverbanks and searching for an alternative to Mr. Trump. The speaker will probably just keep doing what he is doing: raising money for Republicans, talking — both amorphously and perhaps later more substantively — about policy ideas, and looking, with hope and some desperation, for that change in tone from the presumptive nominee.

Mr. Trump so far has not signaled that this is in the offing. On Twitter on Friday morning, he wrote: “Paul Ryan said that I inherited something very special, the Republican Party. Wrong, I didn’t inherit it, I won it with millions of voters!”

Source: NY Times

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08/May/2016

Ending Tax Break for Ultrawealthy May Not Take Act of Congress

It’s only natural that Barack Obama, entering the homestretch of his presidency, would be concerned about his legacy. Judging from a recent interview in The New York Times Magazine, getting credit for the actions he has taken on economic issues seems to be of special interest to him.

Mr. Obama expressed frustration that many middle-class Americans feel they’ve been left behind during his time in office. The wealthiest Americans, meanwhile, have become richer during the Obama years.

There is a lot about this problem of income inequality — and about the economy over all — that Mr. Obama cannot control. Still, there is something he could do right now to help narrow the widening gulf between rich and poor.

In one deft move, Mr. Obama could instruct officials at his Treasury Department to close the so-called carried interest tax loophole that allows managers of private equity and hedge funds to pay a substantially lower federal tax rate on much of their income.

Forcing these managers to pay ordinary income taxes on the gains they reap in their funds would accomplish two things. It would take away an enormous benefit enjoyed almost exclusively by some of the country’s wealthiest people. And, tax experts say, it would generate billions in revenue to the government each year, though there are wide differences over exactly how much.

But doesn’t changing the carried interest loophole require an act of Congress? Not according to an array of tax experts. Just as Mr. Obama’s Treasury Department recently changed the rules to curb corporate inversions, in which companies shift their official headquarters to another country to lower their tax bills, the Treasury secretary, Jacob J. Lew, and his colleagues could jettison the carried interest loophole.

Alan J. Wilensky is among those urging such a change. He was a deputy assistant Treasury secretary in charge of tax policy in the early 1990s when the carried interest loophole came about.

“This is something President Obama can do and should do,” Mr. Wilensky said in an interview. “This is not an impossible thing to get done.”

Now a lawyer in Minneapolis, Mr. Wilensky recently wrote an article on this topic for Tax Notes, the definitive publication on national and global tax issues.

Victor Fleischer, a law professor at the University of San Diego, is another who has recommended that the Treasury get rid of the unjust tax treatment on carried interest. Mr. Fleischer, a contributor to The New York Times, has also estimated how much money such a change would bring to the Treasury.

“It’s something that Obama could accomplish and, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure why the Treasury hasn’t taken an interest in it,” Mr. Fleischer said in an interview. “In fact, there is quite a bit of revenue at stake. And doing this on carried interest would cement Obama’s legacy in substance as well as symbolically.”

Rachel McCleery, a Treasury spokeswoman, said in a statement that closing the carried interest loophole has been a priority for the Obama administration from the outset and that the department is continuing to explore its existing authority for ways to address the loophole.

But the department cannot eliminate the carried interest tax benefit by itself, she contended.

“The president’s first budget in 2009 — and every one since — has included a proposal to close this unfair loophole and we’ve been pushing Congress to get it done,” she added. “No one should be able to play by a different set of rules, so it’s time for Congress to act to close the carried interest loophole once and for all.”

The provision has come under repeated political attack. During the current presidential campaign, all three remaining candidates — Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — have called for eliminating it. A number of lawmakers tried to get rid of the carried interest tax benefit beginning in 2007; by 2010, it looked as if the special treatment would go by the boards.

But a lobbying campaign by the financial industry, supported by a number of influential Republican lawmakers who argued that carried interest should be ended only as part of a broader tax overhaul, put a stop to the effort.

The Treasury’s recent action on corporate inversions is encouraging, Mr. Wilensky said. But he acknowledged that it was easier to get rid of a tax rule that benefits faceless corporations than it was to abolish a regulation that enriches a small group of extremely powerful and vocal people.

“Hedge fund and private equity managers are really the one-tenth of the 1 percent, and the carried interest rule hits their pocketbooks directly,” Mr. Wilensky said. “It’s much easier to implement regulations that have an adverse effect on anonymous shareholders and institutions.”

Managers of hedge funds and private equity funds receive two types of payments. One, paid annually, represents a percentage of assets under management, usually around 2 percent. Those earnings are taxed as ordinary income.

But these managers also receive 20 percent of gains that their funds generate over time, known as carried interest. These profits are taxed at the lower capital gains rate, thanks to a 1993 ruling by the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service.

Closing the loophole, tax experts say, would involve characterizing both the 20 percent and the 2 percent as income from services rendered.

In a 2008 paper, “Two and Twenty: Taxing Partnership Profits in Private Equity Funds,” and in a follow-up paper published last year, Mr. Fleischer described the current carried interest tax treatment as a conversion of labor income into capital gain, an “anomaly that was contrary to some generally accepted principles of tax policy.”

It is odd, he argued, to treat such partnership profits more favorably than “other economically similar methods of compensation, such as partnership capital interests, restricted stock or at-the-money nonqualified stock options (the corporate equivalent of a partnership profits interest).”

Mr. Fleischer’s solution would be to tax carried interest at ordinary income rates “if the amount of capital contributed to a partnership by tax-exempt entities exceeds the amount of capital contributed by the service provider,” or manager. Tax-exempt entities, such as public pension plans and college endowments, are big investors in private equity and hedge funds.

In last year’s paper, Mr. Fleischer noted that a close reading of legislative history from 1984 “shows that Congress expected that the managers of an arrangement like a modern private equity fund would be taxed at ordinary rates.” In addition, Congress allowed the Treasury Department broad discretion on such matters and directed it to write regulations, Mr. Fleischer said.

Financial officials in Britain have already started to trim beneficial treatment for carried interest. They have cut back on what qualifies for the lower, long-term tax rate.

Beyond fairness, there’s another compelling reason for Mr. Obama to act on this inequity: It could generate $150 billion in revenue over 10 years, by Mr. Fleischer’s estimate. Two-thirds of that would come from the financial industry; the rest would be generated by real estate, oil and gas partnerships and mining companies, he said.

(Mr. Fleischer’s prediction, though, is far larger than the Congressional Budget Office’s official estimate, which is close to $18 billion over 10 years.)

Whatever the correct amount, the best reason to eliminate this tax break for the wealthy is that it would help narrow the gap between rich and poor in America. The carried interest loophole contributes substantially to the increase in top-end inequality in the United States, Mr. Fleischer has concluded.

If these experts are right, Mr. Obama can direct the Treasury to end what is an enormous subsidy for the wealthiest Americans. The Treasury disagrees. But punting this task to Congress means nothing is likely to be done. And that’s too bad.

Source: NY Times

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08/May/2016

Seeing President Mugabe’s Frailty, Zimbabwe Braces for Turmoil

HARARE, Zimbabwe — The independence festivities took place just as they have for decades: led by President Robert Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabwe has ever had.

But as Mr. Mugabe, 92, inspected a military parade during the celebrations last month, he did something unusual. When his vehicle stopped in front of a framed picture of the president, Mr. Mugabe bowed before his own portrait. Zimbabweans were stunned. Had their president grown so feeble, they wondered, that he could no longer recognize the person in front of him?

Mr. Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, said this year that he would preside over Zimbabwe “until God says, ‘Come.’ ” His increasingly powerful wife, Grace, vowed that her husband would rule from a special wheelchair until he was 100.

But the end of an era looms over this capital. As Mr. Mugabe has grown visibly weaker in the past year, talk of his death dominates the private conversations of the governing class, leading to some cutthroat maneuvering for the endgame.

To many Zimbabweans, the president’s decline has been obvious. The same man who unyieldingly defied the West, who outwitted or ruthlessly crushed his opponents for decades while leaders in other countries were felled in coups, has been caught on video stumbling or dozing off during public events.

Mr. Mugabe, it seems, is succumbing only to his own age. In March, he dozed off at a news conference with the prime minister of Japan. Last year, he reread his 25-minute State of the Nation speech to Parliament in its entirety, apparently not realizing that he had already read it to the same body of lawmakers a month earlier.

What comes after Mr. Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, is anybody’s guess. Will his ZANU-PF party maintain its grip on Zimbabwe? Or will it fall apart, riven by infighting? On which side — or sides — will the security forces, Mr. Mugabe’s bedrock support, come down?

Continue reading the main story

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For the first time, Mr. Mugabe has been forced to talk about his mortality. In a recent meeting with the nation’s war veterans, he complained that talk of his eventual death was fueling a fight over succession inside his party.

“I am not dying,” he said. “Shame on you.”

The political uncertainty is one reason behind a severe cash shortage afflicting Zimbabwe in recent weeks, as people hoard money or move it out of the country. Banks in Zimbabwe, which adopted the American dollar in 2009 to help arrest an economic crisis, are now so short on cash that they have limited withdrawals or left A.T.M.s empty.

Photo
 

President Robert Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabwe has ever had, in April in the capital, Harare. He says he is still fit to govern. Credit Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Associated Press

The succession battle intensified after Mr. Mugabe broke a taboo by speaking about his death with the national broadcaster, ZBC, on his 92nd birthday in February, said Nginya Mungai Lenneiye, a former World Bank representative who has served in the Zimbabwean government.

“That was the first time he clearly articulated it himself,” Mr. Lenneiye said. “Until he spoke about it, no one dared to.”

For more than three decades, Mr. Mugabe has proved to be a master at pitting feuding factions against one another and rising above the squabbling.

But at the heart of the battle inside his party lies a heated question: Is Mr. Mugabe fit enough to complete his term and run for re-election in 2018, as he has pledged to do?

Two factions in his party have attacked each other with increasing vitriol. Those on Team Lacoste — a faction led by Emmerson Mnangagwa, a vice president whose nickname is the Crocodile — argue that the president should be allowed to rest. Necessary political and economic reforms cannot be carried out under his stewardship, they say.

Those associated with the G40 faction — short for Generation 40, because its leaders tend to be younger — say Mr. Mugabe remains in control and should run in 2018. Mr. Mugabe’s wife, Grace, a leader in the G40, has said she would carry her husband to work in a wheelbarrow, if necessary.

Until 2014, Ms. Mugabe, 50, who became the president’s second wife in 1996, had drawn attention mostly for her charity work, lavish lifestyle and shopping sprees. But then she was voted head of the party’s women’s wing, earning a spot in the party’s decision-making Politburo and assuming a central role in the succession fight.

One of Ms. Mugabe’s first actions was to hold rallies in which she attacked a longtime vice president, Joice Mujuru, who had been considered Mr. Mugabe’s eventual successor. The first lady accused Ms. Mujuru of corruption and witchcraft, as well as wearing miniskirts and plotting to oust Mr. Mugabe.

Ms. Mujuru was quickly stripped of the vice presidency and expelled from the party. Ms. Mujuru announced recently that she would run against Mr. Mugabe in 2018 as head of her new party, Zimbabwe People First.

Now Ms. Mugabe’s critics say she is trying to eliminate Vice President Mnangagwa, the Crocodile, her onetime ally who had risen in the past year to become the candidate most likely to succeed Mr. Mugabe.

In a recent “meet the people” rally, Ms. Mugabe prowled the stage, her right hand wound tightly around a microphone, her left punching at the air. She moved back and forth, as if attacking and ducking before her unmentioned rival, the Crocodile.

Photo
 

A woman bathed her son on a day that their town, Chitungwiza, had running water. Zimbabwe’s economic prospects are shaky. Credit Mary Turner/Getty Images

“When I decide to attack a dog, I’ll crush it openly and I won’t hide the stick,” she said, speaking without notes to cheering and ululation.

Philip Chiyangwa, a prominent ZANU-PF member, businessman and member of G40, praised Ms. Mugabe.

“I don’t think her actions have anything to do with her ambitions as such, but it is about the president getting proper security to complete his term of office,” Mr. Chiyangwa said. “Sometimes, in that kind of office, you don’t know what’s happening.”

Her rivals accuse her of being power hungry and exploiting her husband’s growing frailty for her own ambitions.

Christopher Mutsvangwa, an ally of the Crocodile and a longtime ZANU-PF leader, was dismissed as the minister of war veterans in early March after a public falling-out with members of the G40. At the Independence Day celebrations here, Mr. Mutsvangwa dismissed as “leeches” prominent members of the G40, who were sitting not too far from him under the same tent.

“The present is now a story reminiscent of Mao and Jiang Qing,” said Mr. Mutsvangwa, who served as Zimbabwe’s ambassador to China, referring to Mao Zedong’s fourth wife, who, in the leader’s final years, assumed great power as part of the Gang of Four.

In January, while Mr. Mugabe and his family took their annual vacation out of the country, rumors spread in the capital that he had died overseas. A couple of months later, after Mr. Mugabe suddenly canceled a visit to India and the government refused to disclose his whereabouts, journalists here tracked down his plane in Singapore, where Mr. Mugabe has received medical care in recent years.

The news media, basing its findings in part on an American diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, has reported that Mr. Mugabe has received treatment there for prostate cancer. The government has denied the cancer reports, saying that he has undergone cataract operations in Singapore and is otherwise healthy.

George Charamba, the president’s spokesman, had no comment about the president’s bow before his own portrait.

In the television interview on his 92nd birthday, Mr. Mugabe spoke softly, sometimes tentatively, slumping in his chair by the end. His eyes, full of vigor in interviews just a few years ago, were barely perceptible behind his large-rimmed glasses.

“Morning exercise?” Mr. Mugabe said. “Yes, of course, to keep alive. Keep alive and also to enable me to resurrect when they say I’m dead.”

The interviewer looked down with an uneasy smile. The president went on.

“It takes quite a lot,” he said. “Every January, I must prepare the necessary exercise for resurrection because I know I’ll be destined for death. Every January. So now I’m dead-alive".

Source: NY Times

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08/May/2016

U.S. death in Iraq highlights ‘enduring’ ISIS war debate

President Obama’s undeclared but escalating war against the Islamic State terror group suffered its third American combat casualty on Tuesday, as the White House wrestled with renewed questions about the likely scope and duration of the conflict.

Obama has promised that U.S. forces will not carry out “enduring offensive ground combat operations.” But he has also ordered some 5,000 troops to Iraq and plunged up to 500 elite special operators into Syria to help rebel groups battle both troops loyal to strongman Bashar Assad and extremists serving under the black flag of ISIS, as the terrorist army is also known.

The casualty, a U.S. Navy SEAL, was killed in northern Iraq after ISIS fighters breached lines held by Kurdish peshmerga forces.

“It is a combat death, of course, and very sad loss,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters.

At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest tried to explain how an American who was not on a combat mission could be killed in combat.

“He was killed, and he was killed in combat. But that was not part of his mission,” Earnest told reporters. “His mission was specifically to offer advice and assistance to those Iraqi forces that were fighting for their own country.”

But Earnest denied playing down the threats facing Americans on the ground, stressing, “I don’t mean to make it sound benign, because it’s not. It’s dangerous.”

Asked by Yahoo News at what point the U.S. deployment in Syria would become an “enduring offensive ground combat operation,” Earnest suggested that American troops could remain there indefinitely without ever passing the “enduring” mark as long as their numbers remain short of the tens of thousands used in the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

U.S. commandos in Syria have “a very different mission than the deployment of thousands of U.S. troops on the ground, who are responsible for seeking out and directly engaging the enemy,” he said. “That is not the mission of the much smaller number of forces on the ground.”

Pressed on whether there was a time element to an “enduring” deployment, Earnest replied, “I think the reference to enduring is a reference to the idea of an enduring presence on the ground building a base, a large physical presence on the ground. So that’s why I do think this notion of the time commitment and the number of troops involved are not unrelated.”

Obama’s proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State — legislation that would function as a kind of declaration of war — would not permit “enduring offensive ground combat operations.”

Senior Obama aides have taken pains not to define the phrase precisely. Earnest himself said in February 2015 that the language was “intentionally” fuzzy.

“We believe it’s important that there aren’t overly burdensome constraints that are placed on the commander in chief, who needs the flexibility to be able to respond to contingencies that emerge in a chaotic military conflict like this,” he told reporters at the time.

Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Appropriations Committee in February 2015 that “if you’re going in for weeks and weeks of combat, that’s enduring.” But he, too, said that the language meant only to suggest that Obama would not trap the United States in another conflict like Afghanistan or former President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

Many Democrats say the legislation is not restrictive enough for them to support, that they worry about signing off on the kind of large-scale ground deployment that Obama has essentially ruled out. Republicans say it’s too restrictive, that the measure’s three-year sunset binds the hands of the next president, and that the language on ground forces could inhibit a future commander in chief.

But get past the policy, and politics loom large. Democrats have been mindful that a vote for war can come back to hurt them — with then New York Sen. Hillary Clinton’s 2002 vote authorizing Bush to invade Iraq perhaps the best example. That vote dogged Clinton throughout her unsuccessful 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Republicans could modify Obama’s AUMF to their liking, such as by stripping out the ground forces restriction, vague as it is, and scrapping the three-year limit. But GOP aides say their leaders in Congress worry about taking any step that might make them share the responsibility for a military strategy that will be executed by Obama, at least for another eight months or so.

Source: CNN.com

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07/May/2016

3 federal agents shot, motel set ablaze in Kansas

(CNN)What started as a would-be arrest at a Kansas motel ended with three federal agents shot and the motel engulfed in flames.

Officers from the U.S. Marshals Service's Fugitive Task Force went to the motel in Topeka on Saturday night to look for Orlando J. Collins, the FBI's Kansas City office said. Collins, 28, was wanted on two robbery-related charges.
But as officers reached the motel room door, "they came under gun fire from inside the hotel room," the FBI said in a statement.
Two deputy U.S. marshals and an FBI agent were shot but are expected to survive, the FBI said.
Previously, Topeka police said a fourth federal agent had been injured in the melee. That officer apparently suffered a leg injury but was not shot, the FBI said.
 
Souce: CNN
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25/Apr/2016

Obama expected to announce an additional 250 special operations forces to Syria

(CNN)President Barack Obama is expected to announce Monday an additional 250 special operations forces will be sent to Syria in the coming weeks, according to two U.S. officials. The expected announcement will come while the President visits Germany.

The troops will be expanding the ongoing U.S. effort to bring more Syrian Arab fighters into units the U.S. supports in northern Syria that have largely been manned by the Kurds, one of the officials said.
One of the officials emphasized the plan calls for the additional U.S. forces to "advise and assist" forces in the area whom the U.S. hopes may eventually grow strong enough to take back territory around Raqqa, Syria, where ISIS is based.
These troops are not expected to engage in combat operations or to participate in target-to-kill teams but will be armed to defend themselves, one official said.
The new troops will be in addition to 50 U.S. special operations forces that have already been there doing that same work for the last several months.
"As we have noted in recent days, the President has authorized a series of steps to increase support for our partners in the region, including Iraqi security forces as well as local Syrian forces who are taking the fight to ISIL," a senior administration official CNN, using a different acronym for ISIS. "The President during his remarks at the Hannover Messe fairgrounds on Monday will speak to this additional step." The official said the president was persuaded to take this additional step because of recent successes against ISIS.
CNN first reported details of the expected plan several weeks ago.
 
Source: CNN
 
 
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25/Apr/2016

U2's Bono urges lawmakers to view aid as national security

U2 front man Bono brought his star power to Capitol Hill Tuesday as he called on members of Congress to take swift action to deal with the global refugee crisis and violent extremism.

In testimony before a Senate subcommittee, Bono drew a bleak picture as he described the flood of people fleeing their homes in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The human torrent threatens the very idea of European unity, he said, as he urged lawmakers to think of foreign aid as national security instead of charity.

"When aid is structured properly, with a focus on fighting poverty and improving governance, it could just be the best bulwark we have against the extremism of our age," Bono said.

Wearing his trademark rose-tinted glasses, Bono said members of Congress need to confront an "existential threat" to Europe that hasn't been seen since the 1940s. He said three extremes -- violence, poverty and climate -- make for a potent enemy.

In Syria, five years of violence has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced another 11 million from their homes. Nearly 174,000 migrants have reached Europe by sea since the beginning of this year alone and 723 are missing or dead, many drowning in the cold, rough waters, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Before sitting at the witness table, Bono posed for photos with three members of Code Pink, who wore pink tiaras and held cardboard torches and signs reading "Refugees Welcome."

Cameras whirred furiously as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the subcommittee chairman, quipped: "So this is what it's like to be chopped liver." Bono joined a congressional delegation led by Graham that just returned from Africa and the Middle East.

Bono co-founded the One Campaign, an advocacy group that works to end poverty and preventable disease.

Source: FOX NEWS

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18/Apr/2016

Fiery GOP rhetoric about impeaching IRS chief rings hollow after decades of inaction on tax code reform

The speaker of the House flashed frustration as he addressed the National Retail Federation.

“I am astonished when I go around the country at the intensity of anger at the IRS,” said the speaker. “People are determined to get the IRS out of their life. They are furious at the IRS.”

“We say a tax code should go away,” suggested the House Majority Leader during an appearance before the Senate Finance Committee.

“We must tear the income tax code out of by its roots so it can never come back again,” thundered the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the panel in charge of crafting tax policy.

And nearly 21 years after those remarks by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey. R-Texas, and then-Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer, R-Texas, little has changed.

Anger at the IRS has rarely been higher. Politicians gripe about a calcified tax code that Congress hasn’t overhauled since 1986. Yet 30 years later, lawmakers get on the stump and campaign about the necessity of renovating the nation’s tax system.

Change the players and the time and it’s likely House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, would all utter similar declarations today as  Gingrich, Armey and Archer.

And they have. Especially this time of year with federal taxes due Monday (delayed three days due to Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia).

“The IRS is not being led well. I think the IRS misled Americans,” said Ryan when asked about an effort by some House Republicans to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “This is an agency that needs to be cleaned up.”

“What America needs today is a new, 21st Century tax code that is built for growth,” said Brady in a speech. “I can assure you that Ways and Means Republicans are serious about reforming our broken tax code.”

The IRS makes for a great whipping boy this time of year as frustrated Americans rush to the Post Office to file their taxes just before the deadline. Lawmakers offer up political Pablum to exercised taxpayers about changing the tax code and why the tax system is in desperate need of an overhaul.

Yet little changes.

Antagonists are crucial in politics. Politicians need to cast themselves as caped superheroes, warring against the evils of the state. Lawmakers appear to have perfect adversaries in the IRS and an outdated tax code.

Eliminate the IRS and pass tax reform -and suddenly lawmakers are deprived of foes.

As a political issue, it might not be better to change anything. But legislative realities make it very hard to usher tax reform to passage. There are so many shelters. So many interest groups. It’s hard to concoct a plan which garners the votes for passage.

If this was easy, Congress would have approved tax reform years ago.

Remember the Republican-controlled House and Senate in the mid-1990s with Newt Gingrich at the helm? They didn’t have a Republican in the White House.

But they had as good a negotiating partner as they could ever get at 1600 Pennsylvania in President Clinton. The Democratic president and the GOP Congress got together on welfare reform, entitlement spending and the budget. But no tax reform.

How about President George W. Bush and a Republican House and Senate for most of the early 2000s? Nada on comprehensive tax reform. ‘Nuff said.

Tax reform was not a high priority of President Obama and congressional Democrats when they came to power. Still, Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., chaired the House Ways and Means Committee then and designed a tax reform measure.

Then Rangel faced serious ethics issues, lost his chairmanship and the House censured him for his conduct. No tax reform there.

Former Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., took over the gavel of the Ways and Means Committee when Republicans scored the House majority in 2011. Of course, that was back when Republicans were a supposed lock to win the White House and the Senate in 2012. Neither happened. No tax reform then, either.

In 2014, Camp assembled a tax reform proposal to simplify the code and restructure rates for those with higher incomes. When reporters pressed then-House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, about the blueprint, he dismissed Camp’s effort out of hand.

“Blah, blah, blah,” responded Boehner, effectively euthanizing Camp’s proposal.

Ryan became House Ways and Means Committee chairman in January, 2015.

“Tax reform is a 2015 thing for sure,” he said last spring. In that remark, Ryan meant it had to move in 2015 before enduring the political winds of a presidential election year come 2016.

“It has to be done by the end of the summer … it if goes back past summer, it’s hard to see how that gets done,” he added.

Of course, that didn’t come to pass. A couple of months later, during a Bloomberg interview, Ryan was already done with 2015 tax reform opportunities.

“That is to me more of a 2017 project in the post-Obama era,” he said.

By fall, Ryan traded in the Ways and Means gavel for the speaker’s gavel. And the calendar flipped to 2016.

Still no tax reform.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.,  took aim at the speaker and tax reform Tuesday.

“Ryan was 11 months Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee,” Hoyer said. “He offered no bill. He’s been talking about tax reform for most of the time he was here.”

When asked Thursday about the IRS and issues with tax policy, Ryan punted to 2017.

“What I think we need to do is win an election,” he said. “Get better people in these agencies and reform the tax code.”

Ryan asserted that “the IRS is implementing a horrible tax code.”

And that’s on Congress, regardless of what year it is.

On Saturday, Ryan published a letter ahead of tax day. It blasted the IRS and its ability to protect taxpayer information from hackers. In a Fox interview, John Koskinen argued “it’s a complicated world” when it comes to protecting taxpayers.

Ryan’s Saturday missive returned fire on Koskinen.

“Aren’t we all sick and tired of these excuses?” he asked. “The IRS needs to change.”

So with tax day upon us, lawmakers are again speaking about the need to alter tax policy.

“I think we ought to do comprehensive tax reform,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “We really need to scrub the whole tax code. The chances of doing that now and the end of this presidency are none and slim.”

On Wednesday night, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and a host of lawmakers took to the House floor for a fiery set of speeches demanding the impeachment of Koskinen.

Conservatives remain livid over the IRS’s targeting of conservative, tax-exempt groups -- ostensibly due to their political views.

The scandal is what led President Obama to tap Koskinen to run the IRS.

The GOP regularly turns up the heat on Koskinen, though the targeting scandal didn’t go down on his watch. Still, Republicans think he and others failed to produce documents necessary for congressional oversight.

“That’s why we filed these articles of impeachment,” Jordan said.

Ryan’s not game to impeach Koskinen. And tax reform isn’t on the table now.

Washington, D.C.’s Emancipation Day will again postpone tax day in 2017. April 18 is the deadline.

And with little change coming to the IRS or tax reform, expect a lot of the same rhetoric about taxes come this time next year.

Source: FOX NEWS

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18/Apr/2016

At least 12 killed in joint US-Afghan raid targeting suspected Al Qaeda member

Twelve people, including three children, were killed when Afghan and U.S. forces conducted a raid on the house of a suspected Al Qaeda member in east Afghanistan, according to a confidential report and people familiar with the matter.

The Wall Street Journal reviewed an Afghan interior ministry incident report that detailed the early Friday operation in eastern Logar province. The report said the operation was conducted by coalition forces, a term used to refer to the U.S. force that maintains a presence in the country and works with the Afghan army. It didn’t detail whether Afghan forces were present.

A U.S. coalition member said the operation was jointly conducted by Afghan and U.S. military forces. The Afghan defense ministry declined to comment.

The report said the night raid targeted a suspected Al Qaeda operative named Abu Abdullah. The operation took place in Kharwar district, an insurgent stronghold. Two people were seized at the house along with weapons, phones and a fake passport, the report said.

No further details on the intended target were provided, but overnight raids are a cornerstone of Afghan and coalition efforts to defeat the Taliban and other militant groups, including Al Qaeda and a local affiliate of Islamic State. The operations aim to take out powerful commanders, leaving lower ranks in disarray.

The number of casualties from Friday’s operation was unusually high compared with others carried out in recent months, based on information gathered from Afghan witnesses of previous raids.

The report didn’t detail how the deaths occurred. It said the children were among seven ethnic Chechens killed at the house.

Extremist members of Chechnya’s rebel movement adhere to ideas tied to jihad and the creation of an Islamist state. Afghan and foreign officials say as many as 7,000 Chechens and other foreign fighters could be operating in the country, loosely allied with the Taliban and other militant groups.

An American spokesman for the NATO force that maintains a presence in the country said the mission was aware of the civilian casualty allegations and that U.S. officials were investigating.

There were contradicting reports about how many people were killed and who had conducted the raid. Saleem Saleh, spokesman for the governor of Logar, said three Afghans and seven Chechens died. He said the operation was carried out by Afghan forces and there were no children among the dead.

The raid comes as Afghan and U.S. officials say the Taliban has intensified an offensive near the northern city of Kunduz, raising fears it could once again fall to the insurgents.

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18/Apr/2016

GOP rules fight caps weekend in politics

Washington (CNN)In an undecided Republican nominating contest, every single rule and procedure looks to be hotly contested -- a reality that came into clearer view over the weekend.

After Ted Cruz picked up all 14 delegates at Wyoming's Republican convention, Donald Trump amped up his complaints about a process he's called "rigged." Meanwhile, Republican National Committee members' behind-the-scenes fight over a rules change that could make it harder for a "white knight" to ride in at the last minute erupted Sunday.
Here are the highlights of the weekend in politics:

GOP rules fight erupts

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Sunday pushed back against Donald Trump's assertion that the nominating process is "rigged" to block him.
Priebus dismissed Trump's comments as "rhetoric" and "hyperbole" in an interview with CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union." He said: "Since I know what the truth is, I don't really worry about it because I know what is right and I know what is wrong."
Priebus has been playing defense for more than a week, beating back charges from Donald Trump that the party has "rigged" the nominating fight against him. Trump was at it again Sunday, tweeting: "Lyin' Ted Cruz can't get votes (I am millions ahead of him) so he has to get his delegates from the Republican bosses. It won't work!"
As the Trump-Priebus fight played out in public, top Republican National Committee members were fighting behind the scenes shortly before their critical meeting in Florida later this week.
It's all over the rules that will govern the GOP's July convention in Cleveland, and when they'll be set. Priebus wants to delay any rules changes for now.
But RNC Rules Chairman Bruce Ash, who is part of a group of conservatives who want to openly debate rules changes when they meet in a few days, on Saturday accused the party's top lawyer, John Ryder, of attempting to stifle that debate and a "breach of trust" in an email obtained by CNN.
Ryder, who is supporting Priebus' efforts, replied that it had been a misunderstanding. He cautioned in a reply email that "it is important that the RNC not take action that can be interpreted as attempting to favor one candidate or another ... Major changes now are dangerous and not a good idea, in my humble opinion."
At the center of the fight is a push by conservatives on the Republican National Committee to have Robert's Rules of Order govern the convention instead of the rules of the U.S. House. It sounds arcane, but conservative RNC members argue the change is needed to prevent party establishment figures from pushing through someone like House Speaker Paul Ryan in the convention.

New York showdown

In New York's hotly-contested primary, Trump -- who polls have shown topping 50% support in the state -- has a chance to put weeks of struggles over delegate losses, self-made controversies and staffing behind him with a big win.
He's deployed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's own words against him, repeatedly highlighting Cruz's smackdown of "New York values," giving the Texas senator little room to grow in the state.
The Democratic race, though, is much more competitive. Both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and the former secretary of state were duking it out in an increasingly negative contest.
New York's contest is a pivotal one, because it's Sanders' chance to show he can win in big, coastal states with heavy minority populations -- something he's yet to do.
The two candidates were trading barbs over the weekend on guns. Clinton, a former senator from New York, hit Sanders hard Saturday.
"No matter how often he is asked by family members of those who have been murdered, he sticks to his talking points," she said.
Sanders, meanwhile, worked guns into his stump speech in front of 28,000 on Sunday night.
"We have kids who are unemployed and have no hope of getting a job. Unfortunately they do have hope and success getting guns. Our job is to get kids jobs, not guns," he said.
Much of the weekend's action was focused on California, as Clinton visited the state (which holds a crucial June 7 contest) and Sanders returned from a trip to meet Pope Francis and attend a conference at the Vatican.
But Sanders' best chance to truly shake up the Democratic contest comes Tuesday, when New York -- the state where he was born, and Clinton's adopted home -- casts its votes. A week later, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island are up.

Sanders tries to sway Clooney

Bernie Sanders says actor George Clooney, who called the amount of money he'd raised for Hillary Clinton "obscene," is backing the wrong candidate in the 2016 presidential race.
Asked in an interview with CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" if Clooney is backing the wrong horse, Sanders said, "Well, I think he is." Sanders said: "He is honest enough to say that there is something wrong when few people -- in this case, wealthy individuals, but in other instances for the secretary, it is Wall Street and powerful special interests -- who are able to contribute unbelievably large sums of money. That is not what democracy is about. That's a movement toward oligarchy."
Sanders' comments came after Clooney told Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he wasn't fond of raising huge gobs of money -- more than $300,000 per person to join him and Clinton at the head table at a Friday night event in San Francisco -- for candidates.
"I think it's an obscene amount of money. I think that, you know, we had some protesters (Friday) night when we pulled up in San Francisco and they're right to protest. They're absolutely right. It is an obscene amount of money. The Sanders campaign when they talk about it is absolutely right. It's ridiculous that we should have this kind of money in politics. I agree completely," Clooney said.
But here's the caveat, he said: The money is largely "going to the congressmen and senators to try to take back Congress. And the reason that's important and the reason it's important to me is because we need -- I'm a Democrat so if you're a Republican, you're going to disagree, but -- we need to take the Senate back. Because we need to confirm the Supreme Court justice because that fifth vote on the Supreme Court can overturn Citizens United and get this obscene, ridiculous amount of money out so I never have to do a fundraiser again. And that's why I'm doing it."

Kasich lumbers on

With one win under his belt, Ohio Gov. John Kasich isn't in the mood to hear Donald Trump's complaints about the delegate selection process.
He dismissed Trump's accusations that the GOP nomination process is "rigged," calling on the Republican front-runner to "act like you're a professional."
 
In an interview with CNN's Bash on "State of the Union," Kasich said: "You've got to have a certain number of delegates to be nominated. It's like saying I made an 83 on my math test so I should get an A just because I think it's rigged that you have to make a 90 to get an A."
"I mean, come on. Act like you're a professional. Be a pro," Kasich said.
The Ohio governor also had to explain some comments he made Friday. Kasich, the father of two teenage girls, advised a young female college student to avoid parties with alcohol to prevent being sexual assaulted.
Democrats pounced on the remark, accusing him of blaming the victims of sexual assault.
"I don't care if they're at a party with alcohol. I'm just saying be careful," Kasich told Bash. "That's what I would tell my daughters: Be careful."
He said when alcohol is involved "it becomes more difficult for justice to be rendered for a whole variety of reasons."
"I just don't want justice to be denied because something comes up that a prosecutor looks at it and says, 'Well, I can't figure this out,'" he said.

Fields won't rule out lawsuit

Michelle Fields, the former Breitbart News reporter who said Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski grabbed her arm and yanked her backward in an incident caught on video at a campaign event, told CNN's Brian Stelter on "Reliable Sources" that she hasn't ruled out suing Trump's campaign or Lewandowski himself for defamation.
"I'm not going to rule it out. Do I think that they defamed me? Absolutely," she said.
Fields explained: "Corey said (on Twitter) that he hadn't met me, he had never touched me. We know that that's a lie. Donald Trump, after this happened, he said that the Secret Service told him nothing happened. Weeks later, Donald Trump says that the Secret Service said that I was grabbing at him."
Lewandowski dodged a question on "Fox News Sunday" about whether he'd apologize to Fields.
"To apologize to someone I've never spoken to ... is a little unrealistic right now," he said.
Source: CNN
 
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18/Apr/2016

N.J. Trump delegate: Women 'not interested' in politics | The Auditor

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is increasingly having trouble attracting female voters, and a New Jersey delegate for the tycoon has an intriguing theory about why.

In an interview with the New Jersey Herald last week, Jill Space, a Trump delegate from New Jersey's 5th congressional district who backed Gov. Chris Christie until he dropped out, offered up her rationale.

"He's not appealing to women, and I think a lot of it is that women are just not interested in politics," Space said. 

Just 47 percent of Republican women view Trump positively, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.

There are lots of reasons why Trump is having trouble with women voters, but Debbie Walsh, the director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute, says it's certainly not because women aren't interested in politics. 

"The problem Trump is facing is not that women aren't attentive and engaged when it comes to politics," Walsh said. "It's that they are." 

Walsh noted that in the last presidential election, 63 percent of eligible women voted, compared to 59.8 percent of eligible men.

In raw numbers, that means 9 million more women voted than men in 2012.

Walsh said the main reason women have been voting in greater numbers than men is "because government plays such a large role in their lives as they age."

A March analysis by the nonpartisan non-profit National Institute on Retirement Security found that women are now 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older.

So as American women anticipate becoming consumers of government-run health and retirement programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, their already demonstrated interest in politics tends to increase. 

"For so many women, the reasons driving their interest in politics are economic," said Walsh.

Space is the Sussex County Republican Party's first vice chairwoman, a representative to the New Jersey Republican State Committee and is married to state Assemblyman Parker Space (R- Sussex).

The Auditor tried to reach her through her husband's Assembly office, but the call was not returned.

Source: NJ.com

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18/Apr/2016

Getting at the truth behind lying in politics

WASHINGTON — This is the season of lies.

We watch with fascination as candidates for the world’s most powerful job trade falsehoods and allegations of dishonesty.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump routinely calls rival Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted.” Cruz retorts: “Falsely accusing someone of lying is itself a lie and something Donald does daily.”

News organizations such as The Associated Press and PolitiFact dedicate enormous resources to separating candidates’ truthful wheat from their dishonest chaff.

But if we’ve come to expect and even joke about office-seekers who seem truth averse (“How do you know a politician is lying? His lips are moving”), many of us have given little thought to our own fibs and to how they compare with politicians’ deceits. What if PolitiFact looked at what we say to our spouses, friends and bosses?

For more than two decades, researchers of different stripes have examined humanity’s less-than-truthful underbelly. This is what they have found: We all stretch the truth. We learned to deceive as toddlers. We rationalize our fabrications that benefit us. We tell little white lies daily that make others feel good.

Now magnify that. Politicians distort the truth more often, use more self-justifications and deceive in larger ways, and with more consequences, experts in psychology and political science say.

Especially this year.

“I feel more worried about lying in public life (specifically by politicians, and in particular, Trump) than I ever have before,” psychology researcher Bella DePaulo at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said in an email. When lies succeed, they make it “more tempting to lie. Lies can stick. They can have a lingering effect, even if they are debunked. ”

Deception starts early.

Children learn to lie at an average of about 3 years old, often when they realize that other people don’t know what they are thinking, said Kang Lee, a professor at the University of Toronto.

He has done extensive research on children and lying. Lee set up an experiment in a video-monitored room and would tell children there’s a toy they can have that’s behind them, but they can only get it if they don’t peek. Then the adult is called out of the room, returns a minute later and asks if they peeked.

At age 2, only 30 percent lie, Lee said. At age 3, half do. By 5 or 6, 90 percent of the kids lie and Lee said he worries about the 10 percent who don’t. This is universal, Lee said.

A little later, “we explicitly teach our kids to tell white lies,” with parental coaching about things like saying how much they love gifts from grandma, and it’s a lesson most of them only get around age 6 or older, Lee said.

In 1996, DePaulo, author of “The Hows and Whys of Lies,” put recorders on students for a week and found they lied, on average, in every third conversation of 10 minutes or more. For adults, it was once every five conversations.

A few years later, Robert Feldman at the University of Massachusetts taped students in conversations with total strangers and got similar results with the participants not realizing they were lying until they watched themselves.

“I would say we’re lying constantly. Constantly,” said Maurice Schweitzer, who studies deception and decision-making at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Trump’s alma mater.

The problem is there are many shades of truth-bending. Experts split on whether to count white lies – what psychologist and political scientist Stanley Renshon calls “social lubrication” that makes civilized operate. When your spouse tells you that you don’t look fat in that outfit when you do, does it really do any harm?

“There’s a difference between white lies and real lies,” Renshon said.

Some lies, said Schweitzer, “fall under politeness norms and are not very harmful. There are other lies that are self-interested and those are the ones that are really harmful. Those are the ones that harm relationships, harm trust.”

But others, like DePaolo, see no distinction: “It doesn’t matter if the attempt was motivated by good intentions and it doesn’t matter if the lie is about something little.”

Regardless, society rewards people for white lies, Feldman said.

“We’re really trained to be deceptive,” Feldman said. “If we’re not, if we’re totally truthful all the time that’s not a good thing, there’s a price to be paid for that. We don’t like people who tell us the truth all the time.”

From there it’s only a small leap to what politicians do.

“The lies that we accept from politicians right now are lies that are seen as acceptable because it’s what we want to hear,” like a spouse saying that an outfit flatters you, Feldman said.

Or perhaps we feel that lying is necessary.

“People want their politicians to lie to them. The reason that people want their politicians to lie them is that people care about politics,” said Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. “You understand that Washington is a dirty place and that lying is actually very helpful to get your policies implemented.”

When people deceive beyond white lies, they spend a lot of effort justifying and rationalizing what they are doing.

“They engage in something we call justified dishonesty,” said Shaul Shalvi, who runs the Behavioral Ethics Lab at the University of Amsterdam. It happens when people’s desire to be ethical clash with the desire to profit or get something. In that case people are willing to lie just a bit “as long as it seems legit,” Shalvi said

“As long as they have a good rationale they can stretch the truth as long as they really want,” Shalvi said.

Cyclist Lance Armstrong, Shalvi said, justified his denials of doping because he felt his story raised hope in cancer victims – though it also benefited Armstrong.

“He was convincing himself that what he was doing was not that wrong at the time. I think politicians do the same,” Shalvi said, who adds politicians do this frequently.

Similarly, Jennifer Mercieca, a Texas A&M professor of communications who studies political rhetoric and teaches fact-checking, said politicians such as the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis., “convince themselves that the ends justify the means” and “the reasons they are doing it are more important.”

The experts who study lying are alarmed by what they are seeing in 2016, and by its ramifications.

“Dishonesty is contagious,” said the University of Nottingham’s Simon Gaechter.

His March 2016 study examined honesty in a dice game in 23 different countries (but not the United States) and then compared them to a corruption index for those countries. The more corrupt a society was, the more likely the people there were willing to deceive in the simple dice game.

Most people want to be honest, but if they live in a country where rule violations are rampant “people say, ‘Well everybody cheats. If I cheat here, then that’s OK,'” Gaechter said.

Add to that confirmation bias, Mercieca said. The public tends to believe things – even if they are false – “that confirm what we be already believe” and come from news sources and partisans that they already trust and agree with.

Political scientist and psychologist Renshon said politicians should be held up to a higher standard but over the decades, they and the government have been more deceitful and unwilling to tell the public something that could hurt them politically. When President Dwight Eisenhower misled the public about a spy plane captured by the Soviet Union, lying was the exception. By the time President Bill Clinton strained the meaning of the word “is” testifying before a grand jury, it was more common.

“We’ve become kind of numb to it,” said Pamela Meyer, the Washington based author of the book “Liespotting” and chief executive officer of the private firm Calibrate, which that trains people and companies about how to spot deception. “In Washington, deception is the gift that keeps on giving.”

But there’s a high cost in everyday society – a loss of trust that is difficult to regain – when someone is discovered to be lying, Lee said. There are also costs to the liar, he said, noting studies that measure the effect of deception on the body and brain and how much energy it takes to create and maintain a lie.

“When you tell lies it costs your brain a heckuva lot more resources than when you tell the truth,” Lee said.

Lee is working on a video camera that would study people’s heart rate, stress level, blood flow and mood, a kind of video lie detector called transdermal optical imaging.

He envisions a future televised political debate, with a camera trained on the candidates showing their heart rates and breathing levels – “an index of lying.”

Source: Fox News

 

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18/Apr/2016

Trump returns to New York amid rumors of campaign turmoil

BETHPAGE, N.Y. — A day after losing Wisconsin’s Republican presidential primary, Donald Trump brought his insurgent campaign to New York Wednesday night, kicking off a bid to win his home state primary with a massive rally that harkened back to the early days of his unlikely presidential effort.

“It’s great to be home,” Trump declared in a massive movie studio soundstage in the heart of Long Island that was packed with at least 10,000 people — one of his biggest rallies in more than a month. “I love New York. … I love this city, I love this country, and we are going to start winning again.”

Trump was referring to his campaign line “make America great again,” but the line also could have applied to his campaign, which seemed mired in turmoil Wednesday amid reports of staff infighting as the real estate mogul strives to win the 1,237 delegates needed to stave off a contested convention this July.

View photo: Supporters cheer as Trump speaks during a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage. (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
 
Several news outlets, including Politico and CNN, reported that Paul Manafort, a Trump senior adviser recently hired to oversee the campaign’s convention and delegate efforts, met with Trump Wednesday to insist on a more coherent campaign strategy. A Trump spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on the reports, which also suggested a diminishing role for Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s embattled campaign manager.
 
Adding to the intrigue are questions over the candidate’s upcoming schedule. He had been expected to travel all week, including to Colorado, which holds its state GOP convention this weekend. But as of Wednesday night, the candidate had just one event on his schedule for the remainder of the week: a press conference set for Friday afternoon in Los Angeles.
 
But there was good news for Trump. As he formally kicked off his New York campaign, a new Monmouth poll released Wednesday found 52 percent of likely GOP voters are backing Trump ahead of the state’s April 19 primary. Ohio Gov. John Kasich came in second, with 25 percent, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz trailed with 17 percent support.
Source: Yahoo
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07/Apr/2016

In diverse and liberal New York, Ted Cruz seeks his sliver of support

BRONX, N.Y.—Fresh from a key victory in Wisconsin’s primary, Ted Cruz arrived at Saburosa 2 — a Dominican eatery owned by Chinese-Americans in the South Bronx — ready to court a small, conservative constituency scattered around the largely blue state of New York. But as the afternoon meet and greet unfolded, it became clear that the Texas Senator wouldn’t be able to woo potential supporters without also encountering challengers.

“Why are you in the Bronx if you’re such an anti-immigrant?” asked Gonzalo Venegas, who was with his brother, Rodrigo. The pair co-hosts a show on TeleSur English and makes up the Bronx hip-hop duo Rebel Diaz.

As the two were escorted by police out of a crowd filled with men wearing either cowboy hats or yarmulkes, Rodrigo continued to rip into Cruz’s anti-immigration attitude and highlight what he called “environmental racism,” which his community was experiencing because of climate change.

“We’re one of the poorest congressional districts in the country, and to receive this right wing bigot is an insult to the whole community,” he yelled. “People are dying!,” he continued, as sweat rolled down his temple. “People are dying, Ted Cruz!”

Though the meet and greet continued, the disruption set a tone for the event. Even if Cruz was able to arrange a backroom schmoozing session hosted by Democratic state Sen.Rubén Díaz, his plan to collect at least some of New York’s 95 GOP delegates would definitely come with image problems.

But in the face of protests, and despite polling in third place in the state, Cruz knew exactly what he was doing in a minority-rich district with conservative tendencies. New York is among the 24 states that award delegates by congressional district, rather than on a statewide basis. Generally each district choses three delegates — five in Missouri.

If Cruz is able to pick off a few districts where his socially conservative views appeal to voters — like the heavily Latino 15th Congressional District — he’ll receive a considerable bump in his delegate count, regardless of how unpopular he might be to the majority of Manhattanites. It explains his appearance in the Bronx on Wednesday, and his packed Thursday schedule, which includes a town hall in a village northwest of Albany, an appearance at a Bronx deli and a tour of a matzo bakery in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach.

Source: Yahoo.com

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07/Apr/2016