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Democrats announce new criteria to qualify for Feb. 7 debate

Democrats announce new criteria to qualify for Feb. 7 debateThe Democratic National Committee on Friday announced its criteria for the first debate to be held after voting begins in the 2020 presidential campaign, including a new pathway to the stage based off delegate pledges. As they have before, qualifiers will need to meet polling and grassroots funding thresholds to participate in the Feb. 7 debate in Manchester, New Hampshire. Party officials are relying on the same polling and grassroots thresholds as for the January debate in Des Moines, Iowa: either receiving 5% in at least four national or early-state surveys approved by the party, or receiving 7% in two polls in early voting states.

POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 5:51 PM

Los Angeles teachers are suing Delta after a plane dumped jet fuel on them, allegedly leaving them dizzy and nauseous

Los Angeles teachers are suing Delta after a plane dumped jet fuel on them, allegedly leaving them dizzy and nauseousTeachers at an elementary school outside of Los Angeles, California are suing Delta after a plane dropped fuel on area schools, causing 60 injuries.

POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 9:31 PM

Lying Liz

Lying LizEver since she began explaining how her Medicare for all plan would be funded, and how she would pass it, Elizabeth Warren has been sinking. Ahead of last week’s debate, her camp leaked a story that her friend Bernie Sanders met with her in 2018 to discuss plans for 2020, and that at this meeting, Sanders had said that a woman could not win the presidency.Leaking this in the hours before a debate guaranteed that Warren would be asked a question about it by the moderators of the CNN debate. Sanders unequivocally denied saying as much. It has been known that Sanders had in the past encouraged Warren to run for the presidency. But CNN’s moderator treated his denial as a lie, and Warren’s accusation as a fact, and asked Warren how she “felt” hearing such a thing. Warren got the question she wanted, and met it with a well-rehearsed answer about electability. The scene was meant to start a new conversation about supposed sexism among Bernie Sanders’s supporters, and to give Warren an opportunity to tell Biden’s least-committed supporters that she is an electable candidate.This was the only memorable exchange in the debate. It was widely discussed for about 24 hours. Initial polls showed Warren got a boost from the debate. Then, the next night, CNN released video and audio of the moment after the debate when Elizabeth Warren approached Sanders and said: “I think you called me a liar on national TV.” Sanders returned the accusation, then dismissed the conversation as happening at the wrong time and began to exit.Sanders likely understood the reality of the situation. It was a setup.CNN had given another in-kind contribution to the Warren campaign by adding that moment of viral-video drama to the story.Of course, given what we know, it is theoretically possible that Sanders said such a thing to Warren -- just as it is theoretically possible that I typed this column from the Andromeda galaxy, having figured out hyper-speed interstellar travel from my bedroom last week. You have to form judgments on the evidence available to you.Here’s what we know: Bernie Sanders is helplessly himself. Everything about his life story, his convictions, and his political history is internally consistent. His unique voice is traceable to a single city block in New York City. And he has expressed hope for female candidates for high office since before most living Americans today were born.Everything about Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, is a staged lie in service of her ambition. Her backstory, famously, is fake. During a time when elite universities like Harvard were under incredible pressure to hire non-white faculty to their law schools, Elizabeth Warren registered as a Cherokee. Eventually she concocted an almost-certainly-false story about anti–Native American prejudice from her father’s parents.  Warren plagiarized her contribution to a book of Native American home recipes, Pow Wow Chow, from a French cookbook. Harvard bragged about its hiring of Warren and advertised her as an addition to its diversity, though reporting in recent years has attempted to obscure whether this was a help to her.Warren’s political persona is entirely false. She claims to be a populist, but her form of social democracy is a kind of class warfare for millionaires and affluent liberals against billionaires and the petit bourgeois entrepreneurs who vote Republican. Her student-debt and free-college plans are absolute boons to the doctors, lawyers, and academics -- the affluent wage-earners -- who are her chief constituency. Meanwhile, her tax reforms go after not only billionaires but the small entrepreneurs: the guys who own a car wash, or a garbage-disposal service, and tend to vote Republican. Her consumer-protection reforms have hampered and destroyed local banks, and rewarded the bad-actor mega-banks she claims daily to oppose.She has abandoned the views expressed in her 2003 book, The Two-Income Trap, and embraced a view of life that man was made for the economy. Her day-care plans leave behind the mothers who would choose to stay at home and raise their own children, instead drastically incentivizing mothers to get back to full-time jobs by funding full-time day-care.I expect the prestige media to do everything in its power to drag this dead candidacy over the line in Iowa. But it’s an unseemly and ugly business to pretend to believe anything that Elizabeth Warren says.

POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 6:21 PM

Off-duty Hong Kong police officer arrested for supporting protests

Off-duty Hong Kong police officer arrested for supporting protestsAn off-duty Hong Kong police officer was arrested along with seven other people on Friday as they tried to put pro-democracy posters on a footbridge, police said. It's the first known case of a police officer being apprehended for supporting the massive demonstrations that have led to more than 6,500 arrests in the past seven months. The officer, 31, and the seven other people aged 14 to 61, were arrested at 3:00 am on Friday in Tuen Mun, a district in northwest Hong Kong.

POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 1:41 PM

The TSA apologized after an agent pulled a Native American passenger's braid and said "giddyup!" during a pat down

The TSA apologized after an agent pulled a Native American passenger's braid and said "giddyup!" during a pat downTara Houska was going through security at the Minneapolis airport on Monday when she said an agent humiliated her by whipping her braids.

POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 12:43 PM

After India's Amazon snub, Modi's party slams Bezos-owned Washington Post

After India's Amazon snub, Modi's party slams Bezos-owned Washington PostIndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party on Friday slammed editorial policies of billionaire Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post, even as his e-commerce firm Amazon announced plans to create a million jobs in the country by 2025. Vijay Chauthaiwale, chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) foreign affairs department, said there was "a lot of problem" with the newspaper's coverage of India, but gave no examples. The swipe at the Post came a day after a cabinet minister gave short shrift to Amazon's investment plans for India.

POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 1:34 AM

Revealed: The Secrets Behind Russia's Crazy 100-Megaton Nuclear Torpedo

Revealed: The Secrets Behind Russia's Crazy 100-Megaton Nuclear TorpedoFrom fiction to reality.


For the Senators Who Will Judge Trump, an Incomplete Story to Consider

For the Senators Who Will Judge Trump, an Incomplete Story to ConsiderWASHINGTON -- By the time the Senate opened impeachment trials for Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, its members pretty well knew the facts of the accusations against the presidents. None of them needed to turn on "The Rachel Maddow Show" to learn things they did not already know.But as senators formally convened Thursday as a court of impeachment in the case of Donald John Trump, new revelations were still emerging, and important questions remained unanswered. The latest interviews by Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born associate of Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, as well as documents released by House investigators, only reinforced the reality that there is more still to be learned.None of it may matter to the outcome even if more information does present itself in the weeks to come. The quasi-jurors who swore an oath Thursday to do "impartial justice" for the most part have already signaled their partiality. And what has been documented so far gives a pretty clear picture of Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine for incriminating information about his political rivals, whether it is cause for removing him from office or not.Yet there are still so many loose threads to be pulled that the story feels incomplete. Did Trump know "everything that was going on," as Parnas put it in an interview with The New York Times on the same day he appeared on Maddow's MSNBC show? Was an American ambassador who had been targeted by Trump really put under surveillance by an unstable associate of Parnas, as text messages indicated?Underscoring the fluidity of the story was the release Thursday of a damning new report by the independent Government Accountability Office, or GAO. The report concluded that the federal budget office, acting on Trump's orders, violated federal law by suspending security aid to Ukraine even as the president and his associates were pushing the former Soviet republic for help against Democrats. The accountability office's finding would presumably be relevant in a trial turning in part on the suspended aid.And the recent offer to testify by John Bolton, the president's former national security adviser who privately denounced the geopolitical "drug deal" orchestrated by Trump's other advisers, only underlines that many of the key players in the tale of intrigue have yet to publicly disclose what they know.The missing information, like almost everything else in Washington these days, is seen through drastically different lenses depending on the viewer's political perspective.To Democrats, Parnas' revelations and Bolton's offer of testimony only bolster their argument for calling witnesses during the Senate trial, which will get underway in earnest Tuesday. If the Republican majority led by Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky refuses, Democrats say, it will be perpetuating a cover-up on behalf of a corrupt president."Both the revelations about Mr. Parnas and the GAO opinion strengthen our push for witnesses and documents in the trial," Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, told reporters. "The GAO opinion, especially, makes clear that the documents we requested in our letter to Leader McConnell are even more needed now than when we requested it last month. Because President Trump, simply put, broke the law."To Republicans, the latest claims and disclosures are evidence that House Democrats put together a slapdash investigation that was not thorough enough before they rushed to an ultimately partisan vote on the House floor. It is not the Senate's job, Republicans say, to do what the House failed to do."Makes them look sloppy as hell," said Solomon Wisenberg, a deputy independent counsel during the investigation that led to Clinton's impeachment and trial 21 years ago. "I think they should have gotten their act together a little better."Wisenberg said the House Democrats should have authorized an impeachment inquiry earlier and issued subpoenas to Bolton and anyone else they wanted to question. "They wouldn't be in this hot mess," he said.One way or the other, it is clear the Senate is opening a trial in a far different position than it did in 1868 when it determined Johnson's fate or in 1999 when it considered charges against Clinton, both of whom were ultimately acquitted.The Johnson case turned largely on two allegations -- that he improperly fired the secretary of war and that he maligned Congress in a series of speeches. In neither instance were the facts seriously in question, only the legitimacy of his actions.With Clinton, every significant possible witness had been interviewed by the investigators of independent counsel Ken Starr before Congress took up the issue, and the question before the Senate was really about interpreting the facts and deciding whether they added up to high crimes worthy of removal from office.With Trump, there was no special prosecutor investigating the Ukraine matter, so it was left to the House itself to unearth the details of what happened. But the president refused to turn over documents and tried to block testimony by current and former advisers. That led Democrats to make the strategic decision not to wait for a prolonged court fight to force key witnesses like Bolton to testify, reasoning that the evidence they had already turned up was enough to justify articles of impeachment.But they said that decision should not stop the Senate from trying to get to the truth.In the Clinton case, the fight focused on witnesses who had already testified during Starr's grand jury, and they had no new information to provide during the Senate trial. Refusing to hear from Bolton or others who have never testified like Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, means senators would decide guilt or innocence without access to the fullest version of the facts.After complaining in the House that the witnesses who testified generally offered secondhand or hearsay accounts, Republicans would now be in the position of turning down testimony from advisers who do have firsthand information."It seems evident the Senate will have to call witnesses if they are going to uncover the rest of the story," said Byron Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota who was a senator during the Clinton trial.Still, there is risk involved for Democrats prosecuting the president. Parnas in some ways mainly amplifies what is already known from other evidence and to the extent that he adds to the case against Trump; his credibility could be attacked given that he has been indicted on campaign finance charges.As for Bolton, no one knows for sure what he would say if he did testify. While he was described as critical of the Ukraine pressure campaign by other officials, it is not known whether he would implicate or exonerate the president himself. He left the White House on acrimonious terms and has criticized some of the president's foreign policy decisions, but he has not become a Never Trumper-style critic, and some Democrats are privately nervous about his potential testimony.Even if they do not end up with the witnesses and documents they want, Democrats argue that the latest revelations from Parnas and the GAO report indicate that the House charges were on track."Everything we're hearing now demonstrates that the House did get it right," said Robert Bauer, a New York University law professor who was the chief lawyer for Senate Democrats during the Clinton trial. "Contrary to the allegations the Senate has made what emerges here is confirmation that the House articles are well founded."Still, it may not make much of a difference in the end anyway. Most of the senators and most of the public seem to have made up their minds about Trump's actions; from the time the House hearings started, polls showed Americans almost evenly divided and their views were not changed by the testimony one way or the other.Some Republicans said more information would not affect the bottom line, which is that in their view the articles of impeachment simply do not add up to high crimes and misdemeanors and would lower the bar for future presidents. More text messages from Parnas or legal complaints about the process used to suspend the aid, they said, would not change that."My view is that whatever the facts, these two articles are so subject to future abuse that the Senate should dismiss them on their face," said John Danforth, a moderate Republican from Missouri who served in the Senate. "This comes from a Republican who has been openly critical of Trump."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 8:22 AM

Remains of fallen paratrooper return home to Fort Bragg

Remains of fallen paratrooper return home to Fort BraggStaff Sgt. Ian McLaughlin, 29, of Newport News, Virginia, was killed Jan. 11 by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

POSTED JANUARY 18, 2020 8:18 PM

ICE ups ante in standoff with NYC: 'This is not a request'

ICE ups ante in standoff with NYC: 'This is not a request'Federal authorities are turning to a new tactic in the escalating conflict over New York City's so-called sanctuary policies, issuing four “immigration subpoenas” to the city for information about inmates wanted for deportation. “This is not a request — it's a demand,” Henry Lucero, a senior U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official, told The Associated Press. Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration said Saturday the city would review the subpoenas.

POSTED JANUARY 18, 2020 7:23 PM

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